Chapter 4 - Dead on Mars

Chapter 4: Sol One, Enough Oxygen for Fifteen Years

Translator: CKtalon  Editor: CKtalon

Tang Yue had no choice but to move out all the items he had packed, opening all the packaged crates again. Regardless if Earth had vanished forever or if it was a temporary disappearance, he had to ensure that he could continue to live on this desolate planet.

To live on, alone.

This was part of the training Tang Yue had experienced back then. When thrown into a perilous situation without any means of communication, he had to persist on and await rescue!

“First check the oxygen and water levels,” Tomcat indicated. “Then, do a check on food, medical supplies, electricity, fuel, energy, and spare parts…”

“Mr. Tang Yue! Mr. Tang Yue!” Mai Dong hurriedly shouted through the video. “Can… Can I descend? To join you on the surface?”

Tang Yue glanced at Tomcat.

Tomcat slowly fell silent.

This was something both Tang Yue and Tomcat knew very well.

There was no way for Mai Dong to descend.

The only lander was in the desert just outside the Kunlun Station. This lander had been named ‘Eagle’ by Tang Yue.

Eagle was the only shuttle Tang Yue had on hand that could escape the gravitational pull of Mars. It was a vessel that could enter orbit and dock with the Mars United Space Station.

If there hadn’t been any mishaps, Tang Yue would board the lander and leave Kunlun Station once he was done with his work. He would head for the United Space Station before taking Orion II back to Earth.

However, this piece of equipment was of single-use. It was comprised of two parts, one for the ascent and one for the descent. The one that truly escaped Mars’s gravitational pull was the ascent part, which was the upper part of the lander. As for the bottom part, it would remain on Mars’s surface.

The lander’s ascent part was responsible for sending Tang Yue to the United Space Station. That was its only function and mission. After it was done with its mission, it would be disposed of, without the capability of entering the atmosphere again. This also meant that Tang Yue had the ability to enter the United Space Station again, but once he was up there, there was no way of getting back to the surface.

Mai Dong didn’t have a lander on the space station. The next lander should have been delivered by the Orion in two years’ time, but now that the Earth was gone, there was no chance for the next expedition team to set off for Mars.

The space station did have Orion II, but the Orion series were shuttles that ferried astronauts through space. They were responsible for shuttling between Earth and Mars and would immediately disintegrate upon contact with the atmosphere.

“I understand.”

The woman’s expression sank slowly.

All she could do was stay on the space station.

Fate had played a cruel joke. Although they had survived an apocalyptic disaster and were the last two surviving humans in the world, they were separated by an unbridgeable distance of four hundred kilometers.

For a Universe that easily used the units of light years and AUs or a mere 55 million kilometers between Earth and Mars, this four hundred kilometers was truly negligible. It was as thin as the glass on a computer’s screen as though Tang Yue could easily reach her simply by penetrating that layer of glass.

If one created a map of the Solar System, Tang Yue and Mai Dong would practically adhere to one another on the map. They wouldn’t even take up an entire pixel.

But for a human with a height of 1.75 meters, four hundred kilometers was just too far, so far that it was impossible for them to meet.

An iota of difference was like the widest chasm.

“Lady, don’t be disheartened. Let us think of something else,” Tomcat consoled her. “There’s the saying that where’s there’s life there’s hope. As long as one is fine, there will always be a solution out there… There is always a way out.”

“Yes, yes, yes. Miss Mai Dong, we will definitely think of a way to bring you down!” Tang Yue nodded in response. “You have to believe us! I have Tomcat here. Tomcat is an expert! It will have a solution! Right, Tomcat?”

Tomcat was taken aback.

In Mai Dong’s blind spot, Tang Yue kicked Tomcat.

Tomcat hurriedly nodded. “Yes, yes, yes. I’ll definitely think of a solution!”

Mai Dong bit her lip and nodded.

Tang Yue was truly worried this lady would do something silly in her despair.

He was quite a care-free person, but the lady might not share the same nerves as him.

After all, the impact of learning that the Earth had vanished could easily break down a person’s mind.

“What you need to do now is to take an inventory of survival necessities. Oxygen, electricity, food, water, medicine, and spare parts,” Tomcat urged. “Be precise about it. Don’t miss out on anything.”

Tang Yue began to take stock of his inventory.

While packing in the Kunlun Station, he had already done a round of inventory taking. All the items were packed in crates and classified.

While packing back then, he never imagined that he would have to count on these items to survive. He just felt as though he was doing the drudgery work for the expedition team. The only thought he had was to rush back to Earth.

Now, these crates were all that Tang Yue had. It directly determined how much longer he could live on.

The first thing on the list was oxygen.

Oxygen was of top priority. Lacking oxygen for three minutes was enough to finish Tang Yue.

Kunlun Station had two life support systems.

One was the commonly used Oxygen Generation System (OGS). It converted water into oxygen and hydrogen through the process of electrolysis. As long as there were electricity and water, the system could constantly produce oxygen.

Under normal circumstances, this system was responsible for producing oxygen in Kunlun Station.

It looked just like a refrigerator or an air-conditioner and was placed inside a white cabinet in the corner, seemingly melding into the background.

Thinking back, the OGS used by the Americans years ago was a massive object weighing hundreds of kilograms.

Although it didn’t look conspicuous, the OGS cabinet was core to the guarantee of survival in Kunlun Station. It was also the most complicated part of things. If something happened to it, Tang Yue would be dead in five minutes.

The other system was a non-regenerative oxygen generating system used only in emergencies. It used solid perchlorate salts to produce oxygen.

However, perchlorate salts were expendable. Every bit used meant one bit less. They were unreplenishable; therefore, they were not used unless it was an emergency. Typically, they were stored in an emergency box.

Tang Yue opened the OGS cabinet’s door. A green indicator light indicated that everything was working fine. The soft humming sound, produced in the cabinet, was the sound produced by electrolysis.

“How long can this thing operate?” Tang Yue asked. “Do I share its lifespan? Its death means mine, right?”

Tomcat shook its head.

“Not necessarily. You might not live as long as it does,” Tomcat said. “The OGS is designed for fifteen years. This system was changed last year. It has at least ten years left… But you might not live for ten years.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll take it along with me in death.”

Tang Yue held the maintenance manual and swept the control panel’s knobs and indicator lights. The OGS was able to produce a maximum of 5 kilograms of oxygen a sol. It was able to provide six people with sufficient oxygen, and now that Tang Yue was the only one left in Kunlun Station, he was lowering the machine’s rate.

Back when the Earth was still around, Tang Yue believed that since he didn’t suffered any losses while using it, he might as well treat the OGS as an air conditioner. Thinking back to what he had done, he wished to strangle his former self.

He still wished to live a little longer; therefore, by lowering the machine’s rate, he could extend the OGS’s lifespan.

“When used to support a single person, producing 0.8kg of oxygen a sol is sufficient,” Tomcat said.

Tang Yue reduced the rate by more than half.

“Under a low rate of output, how long can this thing last?”

Tomcat did the calculations.

“If all goes well, with sufficient electricity provided, it will experience a peaceful death in… fifteen years.”