Dead on Mars

Chapter 22 - Sol Four, 21st Century Famine

Chapter 22: Sol Four, 21st Century Famine

Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon

There was a crate by Tang Yue’s feet, one that he was about to deliver… Tang Yue grunted as he busied himself all day, finally moving the first crate to the foot of the Eagle.

But he was now facing a problem.

Tang Yue looked up at the lander. The package was at his feet, but the delivery vehicle was more than ten meters above him. How was he to send the crate up?

Under normal circumstances, moving goods into the Eagle required the combined efforts of at least three people. One person was to control the capstan and crane, another was responsible for securing the crate on the ground, and the third person was to cling onto the crate as it was hoisted up.

But Tang Yue was all alone now. He had to do the job of three people.

Tang Yue lowered the accommodation ladder.

Tomcat came down along with it.

The man and cat exchanged looks for a few seconds.

“Why did you come down? Aren’t you inspecting the engine?” Tang Yue asked.

“Do you have mush for brains?”

Tang Yue slowly moved up the accommodation ladder as he crawled into the cargo module with great difficulty.

As he needed to hoist the goods beneath him, the cargo module’s bottom hatch couldn’t be closed, making the cargo hold exposed to the atmosphere. As such, Tang Yue had to wear an EVA suit to complete the job.

Inside the cargo hold was a tiny electric hoist and capstan; the former’s purpose was to hoist any item from the ground up either electrically or manually. The maximum weight limit it could bear was 150 kilograms, about the weight of two Tang Yues.

The crates packed by Tomcat averaged a weight of about one hundred kilograms, and so were within the limits.

Tang Yue threw the cable down the hatch as he moved down to the ground.

“What the hell, this is so troublesome.” Tang Yue shook his head as he carefully passed through the hatch and grabbed onto the accommodation ladder. “I have to go up and down every time. Why couldn’t they just design an elevator?”

“Are you going to swallow the excess weight?” Tomcat knocked the lander’s fairing before it and, before it could do anything, it descended with the accommodation ladder.

Tomcat seemed to have a dark cloud hanging over its head.

“I have to go up and down with you every time. Why couldn’t they design two accommodation ladders?”

“Are you going to swallow the excess weight?” Tang Yue delightfully grabbed the chance to rebut Tomcat.

On the ground, Tang Yue pulled at the hanging cable, attaching it firmly to the crate. Then, he pulled hard on it to test its firmness.

Hoisting goods alone was an extremely dangerous matter. As there weren’t others to help, the goods might wobble in midair due to the wind. To have something weighing a hundred kilograms wobble made it as terrifying as a battering ram. Anyone who was struck by it was doomed.

Therefore, Tang Yue had to be cautious.

He climbed into the cargo hold and peeked his head out to look at the crate beneath him. After confirming that everything was okay, he flipped the crane’s switch.

The motor began spinning with a hum as the cable was retracted, slowly pulling the crate up.

“Tomcat!” Tang Yue shouted through the comms. “You have to be careful of the crate! It’s a little wobbly! Don’t get hit by it!”

There was no response.

Tang Yue was taken aback as he sprawled onto the cargo hold’s floor and peeked his head out to look around.


Tomcat had already been thrown down.

Tomcat stood on the accommodation ladder, half its body inside the fairing’s maintenance opening. Beside it was a groaning cable that moved up and down.

Tang Yue was busy hoisting the goods into the cargo module. He went back and forth between the Kunlun Station and the lander, pulling at a tiny cart whilst humming a tune. He piled the crates of all sizes beneath the Eagle before moving them into the cargo module one by one.

They had been busy the entire afternoon, and the sun was already setting in the west.

Fifteen crates were to be supplied to the United Space Station, weighing more than a ton in total. Most of it was comprised of food, but of course, daily necessities and medicine were included.

Tang Yue had basically halved the resources in Kunlun Station, keeping half for himself and giving the other half to Mai Dong.

The man stood in the cargo module as crates surrounded him. The lander’s cargo module wasn’t large. In previous Mars Lander missions, the cargo module mostly held scientific specimens. Such items typically weighed between a few grams and a kilogram. To bear the weight of a ton was unprecedented.

Tang Yue used a nylon rope to secure the crates to the floor and walls to ensure that they wouldn’t move about during the flight.

Having the crates tumble about in-flight would alter the spacecraft’s center of gravity, possibly making the launch a failure.

“Mr. Tang Yue? Are you there?”

“Yes?” Tang Yue grabbed onto the crane’s cable, took a deep breath, and pulled the supply crate secured below. “You just woke up?”

The girl nodded, yawning. “Yeah.”

Mai Dong spent most of her time in the space station sleeping. This was to conserve energy so that she could last until Tang Yue and Tomcat sent the supplies over.

On second thought, Old Wang had really been inconsiderate. The food they had left Mai Dong was just too little.

If Old Wang had left Mai Dong more food, Tang Yue wouldn’t have been in such a hurry. However, such thoughts were simply being wise after the fact. The space station’s food was enough for Tang Yue’s return, but who would have expected the Earth to vanish, making it impossible for Tang Yue to return? Actually, Mai Dong was the one who had vindicated Old Wang. As the temperature control of the storage hold on Orion I had malfunctioned, large amounts of food had gone bad. Old Wang and the rest of the crew had needed to tighten their belts, so they had left Mai Dong the maximum they could.

“I just had a dream. I dreamed that Earth returned and I was on a spacecraft on a voyage back to Earth…” Mai Dong said. “Central Command made plenty of good food to welcome our return. There was beer, roasted duck, Coca-Cola chicken wings, red-braised fish, rinsed mutton, red-braised pork, and many other delicacies.”

“What a nice dream.” Tang Yue fell silent for a few seconds. “What happened next?”

“My hunger pangs woke me up.” The girl’s voice softened.

“How much food do you have left?”

“I still have three pieces of compressed biscuit, and two or three sandwiches,” Mai Dong answered. “But that’s the food for tomorrow… Can I eat it?”

Tang Yue’s heart pained for her. This was the 21st century, but Mai Dong spoke as though she was in an era where famine prevailed.

“No.” Tang Yue steeled his heart and stopped her. “You have to keep the food for tomorrow. Otherwise, you won’t have enough energy for tomorrow.”

“Okay.” The girl nodded. “I won’t eat it then.”

“We have already moved all the packed crates into the spacecraft. Everything is ready. They will be sent up to you tomorrow,” Tang Yue consoled her. “Hold out a little longer. Just another twelve hours! The package is already on the vehicle. Lady, we will be dispatching the package in twelve hours. Please wait a little longer. Show your indomitable spirit of revolution! Comrade Mai Dong!”

“Mr. Tang Yue, what you said is really interesting.” Mai Dong laughed before hesitating for a moment. “M… Mr. Tang Yue? I have a question.”


“I… I keep thinking… What happens if there’s a failure?”


The girl nodded. “If the Eagle’s launch fails, what happens? Will… Will I die here?”

“Don’t speak nonsense!” Tang Yue sternly cut her off. “Can’t you be optimistic? With Tomcat and me here, how could there be a failure? Female comrades just love letting their thoughts run wild. Mai Dong, you clearly lack the fortitude. How can you have thoughts of failure towards the grand industry of revolution?”

“S… Sorry.”

“Are you a CCP member?” Tang Yue asked.


“Comrade Mai Dong, you are now one of only two surviving humans in the entire Universe. The Party’s mission for you is to live well, to do your best to live optimistically.”

Tang Yue spoke in all seriousness as he secured the crate in his hand.

“So, make sure not to have any extreme thoughts. There must not be any thoughts of failure. I guarantee you that the launch tomorrow will be a success.”

The cargo hold had about ten crates, and the supplies placed at the foot of the Eagle had been hoisted up. There were still five crates left in Kunlun Station.

Tang Yue climbed up to the command module and decided to take a break to recover his strength before moving the remaining crates.

Tang Yue looked up and surveyed his surroundings when he was suddenly taken aback.

“Tomcat!” Tang Yue lowered his head and shouted.


“Why does it feel as though the weather has changed?” Tang Yue looked through the spacecraft’s window, trying hard to look at the sand dunes far away. There, he saw a stirring dust storm.

Tomcat was taken aback as it immediately put down the fault detector in its hand, got up, and stood by Tang Yue’s side. Then, it looked in the direction Tang Yue was pointing.

In just a few seconds, the light outside the windows dimmed.

“This isn’t because the sun is setting, but because the dust and sand concentration in the air has greatly increased. Luminous flux has decreased as a result.”

“Is the weather about to change?” Tang Yue asked.

Tomcat’s expression immediately changed.

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