Dead on Mars

Chapter 25 - Sol Four, Disappearance of Tomcat

Chapter 25: Sol Four, Disappearance of Tomcat

Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon

Tomcat successfully reached Kunlun Station. It proceeded forward, following the walls, before finding the airlock’s hatch. After opening the hatch, the duo entered one after another before they collapsed inside, Tang Yue gasping for breath.

The short hundred-meter distance between the Eagle and Kunlun Station was as arduous as a death march.

Tomcat got up and switched on the sanitation system, blowing and washing off the dirt from the two of them.

Having returned from the sandstorm, even Tomcat looked like a muddy cat.

“Time?” Tang Yue asked, panting.

“Twelve past six in the afternoon,” Tomcat replied. It dragged the limp Tang Yue through the airlock and opened the hatch to the Hab.

The Hab’s interior was warm and bright. The firm walls isolated Tang Yue and Tomcat from the tyrannical sandstorm outside. It was like the sole paradise in this hell on Mars. Tang Yue was still shuddering in fear as he and Tomcat had really made a trip through hell and back. He estimated that the terrible weather conditions on Mars were due to a world-destroying hurricane that he had never seen before. It felt as though the sky was collapsing, with the entire world being devoured by darkness.

Tang Yue sat up by pushing against the wall before lifting his visor. The entire Kunlun Station was still trembling in the hurricane.

“Kunlun Station will be fine, right?”

“It will be fine.” Tomcat wiped its face and shook its whiskers. “You don’t have to worry about Kunlun Station. Even if the wind speed doubles, it will still won’t do a thing to it.”

The remaining five supply crates were still stacked in the hall. These things weighed more than three hundred kilograms. Tang Yue had spent the entire day moving ten crates. Before he could transport the remaining five over to the Eagle, the hurricane had disrupted his plans.

Tang Yue rested for a few minutes before attempting to carry the crates. “I can’t waste anymore time. I have to move the supplies over…”

“Are you out of your mind?” Tomcat stopped him. “With the terrible weather outside, if anything happens to your Radiant Armor, you wouldn’t be able to live for more than three minutes. And there wouldn’t be a way of rescuing you!”

“Then what about these supplies?”

Tomcat pushed Tang Yue back. “Listen up, Tang Yue. If you have any wish of returning, just stay here.”

Tang Yue was taken aback.

Tomcat stuck its forehead to his visor as they stared at each other through a piece of glass. The glint in the cat’s eyes made Tang Yue’s heart skip a beat.

“Heading out means certain death. No human can survive in a sandstorm with wind speeds of more than forty meters per second.” Tomcat’s voice sounded from the earpiece. It spoke very quickly and said with a firmness that didn’t allow for doubt or refutation. “Leave the moving of these crates to me. I’m not human. The sandstorm doesn’t affect me. I can return successfully.”

“Then let’s go together.”

“No, you will be a burden.” Tomcat shook his head. “I don’t have the capacity to divert my attention to take care of you.”

Tang Yue’s mouth gaped, wishing to say something, but he was at a loss for words. Tomcat was right. He had already had his ass saved by successfully returning to Kunlun Station. Heading out again in such terrible weather would be absolute madness.

Over the past decade or so, Mars’s sandstorms had always been the greatest obstacle that the expedition teams faced on their expeditions to Mars. Upon encountering a sandstorm, the expedition team had to immediately abandon all missions and return to the space station to avoid the disaster.

Encountering a sandstorm meant the complete failure of an expensive mission to Mars, but there was nothing they could do about that. No matter how important the mission, the lives of the astronauts were more important.

“Do you copy?” Tomcat asked.

Tang Yue nodded in silence.

Tomcat took out a coil of rope from a cabinet and carried it on its shoulders before opening the hatch from the Hab to the airlock.

Dressed in the Radiant Armor, Tang Yue helped it move the crate into the airlock.

The duo closed the inner hatch to the airlock as Tomcat tied one end of the rope to its waist and stuffed the other end of the rope into Tang Yue’s hands.

Tomcat covered Tang Yue’s hand with its paw. “If anything unexpected happens, I’ll immediately inform you. Remember to pull the rope. Without me giving you any notice, stay here and await orders.”

Tang Yue nodded. He wrapped the rope around his waist and tied a tight knot. Then, he used his hands to grip the rope tightly.

The safety rope was the umbilical cord that connected Tomcat to Kunlun Station. It was Tomcat’s lifeline. Even though it claimed that the sand and dust didn’t pose a threat to a robot, it was only an excuse Tomcat used to comfort Tang Yue. Even if a robot didn’t need to don the heavy EVA suit or require a life support system, no one knew what mishaps might happen in the hurricane. Under such situations, there was nothing that could guarantee safety.

If the rope were to snap, Tomcat might never be able to return.

Tomcat leaned its forehead on Tang Yue’s visor and patted him on the shoulder, smiling.

“Good luck.”

Tang Yue was taken aback.

Tomcat dragged a crate with one paw, opened the hatch to the airlock behind it as the pressure in the airlock reduced to zero in 0.1 seconds. Following that, a gush of air along with dust rushed in. Tang Yue took a step back as he stabilized his body. When he looked up, Tomcat had already vanished into the darkness outside the airlock.

“Tomcat? Tomcat, do you copy?”

Tang Yue anxiously contacted Tomcat.

“No… You are breaking up…”

Static filled the earpiece as Tomcat’s voice was intermittent.

“Tomcat? Tomcat! Do you copy?” Tang Yue yelled, “Tomcat! Answer me! Do you need me to pull the rope!”

“Don’t… Don’t pull the rope…”

Tomcat’s voice vanished amidst the intense static as the communications came to a halt. The comms went dead.

Due to the collisions of the sand particles in the Martian hurricane, large amounts of static electricity was produced. This caused severe interference in wireless communications. It was why Kunlun Station had lost communications with the United Space Station.

Tang Yue stood in the airlock in a daze as he was surrounded by howling winds, the hurricane whistling.

He clasped the safety rope tightly as the other end extended into the pitch-black sandstorm. It kept shaking, and despite the tension remaining in the rope, Tang Yue didn’t know if Tomcat was still attached to the end of the rope or not.

Tang Yue had already lost almost all connections with Tomcat. They were only dozens of meters apart, a distance that could be covered with a short jog, but this distance had become a life and death distance. The weak piece of rope was the only connection between them. It was the only proof that Tomcat remained “alive.”

There was a moment when unprecedented horror surged from the depths of Tang Yue’s heart. He felt it was possible that he had lost his loquacious and silly assistant. In that pitch-black night, with strong winds embroiling the entire world, Tang Yue felt as though he was the only human left surviving in this crazy Universe.

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