Dead on Mars - Chapter 250
Chapter 250: Sol Three Hundred and Forty-Two, It is Home
Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
Tomcat didn’t move.
Tang Yue didn’t move either.
The cat and man lay on the ground for a very long time.
“Tomcat?” Tang Yue tried hard to turn his head to see if Tomcat was dead.
“Hehehehahahaha…” Tomcat laughed on the sand as its body shook. “Tang Yue, weren’t you convinced that I was the one who wrote that letter? Didn’t you believe that this was something I cooked up? That it was a farce I designed? That it was done to extend your life?”
Tang Yue was taken aback.
“I’m sorry to disappoint you. It’s really regretful. What a shame. I’m telling you, Tang Yue. This time… you were wrong! Especially wrong!” Tomcat shook its head as it laughed with gritted teeth. It then reached out its paw.
In the darkness, it had touched a ladder.
“One! Two! Three—! Put some strength into it! Go on up!”
Tomcat pushed Tang Yue up the accommodation ladder with all its might.
“Grip it tight! Use all the strength you have and grip it tight! Use all your strength!” Tomcat roared. “Raise your left foot! Left foot! One, two, three! Step onto it—Good! Got your footing!? Now, raise your right foot! Right foot! Which is your right foot?”
Tang Yue was in a half-conscious state. His mind was a turbid mess and his eyes were glazed. Following Tomcat’s instructions, he reached out to hold onto the ladder. The connection between his brain and limbs was weak and adrift. The commands issued by his brain were only received by his arms occasionally and not at other times. He felt that his nerves were as useless as Kunlun Station’s radio—data transmissions were filled with lost packets.
Tomcat got him to use all his strength, but Tang Yue felt that he had none of it.
“It’s… It’s here?”
“Yes! Continue—! One, two, three! Up!”
Tomcat clenched its teeth as it pushed Tang Yue up one level with all its might. The latter along with the Radiant Armor weighed nearly a hundred kilograms, and it was bearing all the weight. It too was almost at its limits.
Logically speaking, Tomcat should have run out of power as well. But for some reason, it still had plenty of strength. It was pushing Tang Yue up one level at a time.
“What’s it… A spacecraft?”
“Yes!” Tomcat pushed him up one more level as it panted heavily. Its body’s heat dissipation was overloading. “Yes… Do you still remember the thing I saw when I was out? I thought I was seeing things, but I wasn’t at all. This was exactly what I saw! It’s right above us now! It’s floating in midair! It’s hovering very low!”
“Less than three stories!” Tomcat climbed up the accommodation ladder and rested for a moment. To reduce its weight, it had taken off the IVA suit. Its fur was covered in icicles. “It’s lower than a helicopter hovering height… F*ck. It’s really not man-made. I don’t see any engines, propellers, or exhausts. It doesn’t emit anything at all. How does it float there? Is it non-Newtonian?”
Tang Yue tried hard to look up and immediately his eyes blacked out. His dizziness nearly made him fall back down.
Tomcat was propping him up from below, using its shoulders to hold Tang Yue’s Radiant Armor up as it slowly exerted strength.
The next moment, there was a crisp cracking sound as Tomcat slid.
Tang Yue and Tomcat fell suddenly, but thankfully, the latter grabbed onto the accommodation ladder at the final moment, preventing him from falling while holding onto Tang Yue. The two of them were like mountain climbers in a blizzard. Without any safety rope, all they could do was rely on each other when scaling a steep icefall.
Tomcat squeezed the word through its clenched teeth. Bit by bit, it pushed Tang Yue back on track, allowing him to grab onto the ladder.
“How… are you? Tomcat… Tomcat?”
“I just heard…” Tang Yue turned his head, trying to look down.
“I’m fine.” Tomcat’s voice sounded over the earpiece. “Keep climbing up… Climb! Keep climbing up!”
Tang Yue said that the spacecraft was hovering at a height of less than three stories, which meant it wasn’t more than nine meters. However, Tang Yue subjectively believed that he was scaling the Burj Khalifa.
“I can’t take it, Tomcat…” Tang Yue stopped as he leaned against the ladder, exhausted. All he could do was maintain his position on the ladder using all his strength since the Radiant Armor wasn’t meant for climbing to begin with. Tang Yue didn’t have any excess strength to climb further. His hands and feet had long frozen so badly that he couldn’t bend them. Even speaking was an arduous task. “I really can’t take it.”
He was at the end of the rope. So was the Radiant Armor. Its power and oxygen levels were already at rock bottom.
Tomcat didn’t say a word.
Replying to him was a massive force. That force held up Tang Yue’s thighs and back as he was forcefully pushed up. He was surprised as to where Tomcat had obtained such strength. Just as he was about to ask, Tomcat’s shouts made him hold his tongue.
“Shut up! Left! Take a firm step!”
It was another tremendous amount of strength.
Finally, Tang Yue’s hand touched the hatch as he grabbed its boundary.
“Tomcat… I felt it.”
Tang Yue was pleasantly surprised.
Tomcat stopped as it held onto the accommodation ladder and bent down. It opened its mouth, emitting heavy panting sounds mixed with sharp noises of friction.
“Tang Yue…” Tomcat softly said. “Best of luck.”
It shouted in a hollow manner before using its final strength to push Tang Yue up. With its strength, Tang Yue climbed into the hatch and tumbled to the side. He lay on the spacecraft’s floor, panting.
Tang Yue lay here, his limbs seemingly detached from his brain. Upon sensing that the environment around him was habitable, the Radiant Armor quickly activated the circulation system. Surprisingly, the air here was breathable and the temperature was a comfortable 25°C.
The circulation system injected air into Radiant Armor and the nearly suffocating Tang Yue finally recovered some of his strength. He struggled to get up and crawled over, reaching out for the hatch.
The furry paw was still holding onto the accommodation ladder.
“Tomcat… I’ll… I’ll pull you up… We’ll go… go together…”
Tang Yue grabbed the paw and pulled it up.
Tang Yue was stunned.
It was only a broken arm.
Tang Yue weakly slumped on the floor and before he fell unconscious, he saw the dark hurricane beneath him turn brownish-red. It was only at that moment that he realized that he was rising. After he had boarded the spacecraft, it had silently and rapidly raised its altitude. It flew extremely stably and quietly without any noises or vibrations. It had risen at a uniform speed, giving Tang Yue the impression that he had been stationary.
The air gradually thinned. Likewise for the sandstorm. The sunlight gradually penetrated the sandstorm, effusing a faint brownish-red light.
The spacecraft tore through the hurricane and atmosphere with Tang Yue aboard. He had his eyes half-open when bright sunlight suddenly shone on his face. He had finally seen sunlight again. The sun was rising from the ends of the clouds. It felt like the first ray of sunlight shining on his face after a train left a long tunnel, bringing along with the leaf shadows in the woods.
Tang Yue looked down. The dark brown sandstorm was churning like a boiling pot of soup. The distance between them was widening, and soon, the ground no longer looked flat. It gradually turned into a massive arc and the sand and the atmosphere was just a thin layer that encompassed that arc. Right on the heels of that, they slowly converged in Tang Yue’s eyes as he saw the distant horizon—it was a fiery-red planet. Tang Yue could once again take its entirety into his eyes.
On the 342nd sol of being stranded on this alien planet, Tang Yue once again saw it in its entirety.
It was a beautiful but cruel red planet.
The planet where he lived, hated, felt pain, and escaped.
Tang Yue struggled to turn his body as he faced the sky where the stars were resplendent.
He hugged the cat’s paw and photo frame tightly in his chest. He opened his mouth, wishing to say something, but his parched throat couldn’t make a sound. Tang Yue’s lips were cracked as blood trickled into his mouth. Tears welled and streamed down into the corners of his eyes.
Tang Yue closed his eyes.
If I must die,
Please bury me,
Under the starry sky.
Ask not where I’m from,
For it is immensely far.
Ask not where I’m headed to,
For ahead is infinitely far.
Do not feel sad, do not weep.
There will come a day,
When spring winds blow,
When withered trees bloom.
Come visit me,
Come that day,
A Halcyon spreads its wings above my grave,
Scattering sunlight upon me.
Come that day,
Please take my eyes,
And cross the galactic rivers,
Till the end of the Universe,
Where a faint blue dot lies.
Put to rest my soul
Herein where I lie.
If you wish to ask,
Where this is?
Vast lands without ends I see,
I shall say,
It is home.