My head hurt greatly as I woke up. I was lying on the ground, a revolver in my left hand. Gasping for air I saw a bloody corpse before me. It had a bullet hole in its chest. Right after asking myself whether I was a murderer, I realized that I had no idea who, or where I was to begin with. I inspected my body. Two mechanical fingers on my left hand, a mechanic prosthesis down my left thigh, and a metal right shoulder. All was hidden under my full body suit, which seemed to be a weird version of a spacesuit. Moving my right arm and left leg was uncomfortable and unusual. Panicked I stood up and looked around for any reflective surface. There was none. I was in an entrance hallway of some sorts. Maybe a space depressurization chamber would be a better description. But there was gravity, albeit light? For some reason it was hard to tell how light, but I knew it as a fact that it was. I braced myself and decided to finally inspect the corpse. A mechanical prosthesis for a leg. A warhammer? Or maybe a raven’s beak. There was a bit of fresh blood at the blunt side of the weapon. I touched my head and realized that it was mine. Then I noticed that the corpse wore the same clothes. They too were rugged. Travel gear? The suits seemed almost airtight. Where possibly could I be that I needed to wear this. There also was a weird looking, half transparent, but reflective on the outside, bag beside the corpse. Empty. Numerous questions overpowered my initial panic. But they all faded as I looked in the direction where I first lay. The door, or rather hatch, was slightly open. Fearful for my life, I grabbed my revolver and went up to it.
I quickly realized that the dimly lit room was a cafeteria. I looked around and saw two corridors. Since I knew nothing of what could be lurking there I was wary, and yet I had to make a choice. I entered the left hallway. It quickly connected to a room, that I could not entirely be sure of the purpose of. There were some boxes, thankfully, they had explanatory pictures on them, if they were truthful, the boxes had some clothes, snacks, and devices. I came closer to them.
‘YOU PIECE OF SHIT! YOU SH-’ I immediately shot in the direction of the shout’s source ‘AARGH, WHAT TH- ARE YOU COMPLETELY OUT OF YOUR DAMN MIND?’
After firing the first bullet I realized that I missed, because the man insulting me was already incapacitated on the floor, by an earlier gunshot wound to the bowel. He continued to yell.
‘HOW MANY BULLETS HAVE YOU STOCKPILED THAT YOU FIRE SO CARELESSLY? AND IN A FUCKING BUILDING!’ the man stopped to breathe more deeply, he was completely pale. The pool of blood below him made it clear – he had but minutes. And yet he still continued to talk, albeit now quieter. ‘Indra, you’ll burn in hell! Ours’ will track you down till the ends of Mars to find you to avenge us. Your days are numbered, the Crimson Vanguard doesn’t forgive, nor forget.’ Was my name Indra? He clearly knew me. I didn’t know what to say, so I just went with-
‘Who the hell are you?’ hearing this, the man’s heavily tanned face forcibly frowned in confusion.
‘What the fuck are you on!? Did you smoke a joint to celebrate killing us!? Bastard, you won’t fool me.’ I pointed the gun down and came closer.
‘Mate I don-’ the moment I crouched to speak with him on his eye level he made a sharp movement picking up his halberd and thrusting with his last breath. He was slow. His wound made it too easy for me to dodge. Making a mental note to never go up to an enemy that close, ever again, I realized that that move had accelerated his blood loss, and so, he fell unconscious. I stood there for a second, thinking whether I had it in me to save him. Not only he clearly didn’t like me, I also had no idea what to do with wounds of that kind. While I stood there, the blood puddle reached my boot and I stepped back in disgust. Now I would leave small bloody footprints as I would walk.
After recalling what he said I surmised that I learned three things from him:
-My name was Indra.
-I had to be on Mars.
-Bullets are precious.
I searched around my pockets and found two more bullets. Not even a pack. Maybe foolishly, but then again, I didn’t know what awaited me in the other parts of this base, I loaded them in. I had four bullets total. I didn’t see a second bullet hole in the wall, or on the body. Assuming I didn’t miss elsewhere before I lost my memory, there had to be at least one other corpse. Otherwise it would mean that before the fight here, I was walking with 5 rounds in the mag out of six, with two more in my pocket. I decided to pick up the halberd with my right hand, and have the revolver in my left, but this time I wouldn’t hold a finger on the trigger. I went to the other hallway.
In a big room, that definitely was the hydroponics farm, I found the poor girl. She was dressed completely differently from me and the other two, and she actually somewhat blended in with the look of this base. Her face was snow white. Even with the death paleness it was a stark contrast from the fighter that died last. The girl had a big ol’ bullet hole in her nape. Judging from that I didn’t see any other firearms here except mine, I concluded that I murdered her too.
Under great adrenaline I rushed around and found that there was only one more room, and it was the sleeping quarters. No one was there. But there was one bed that was neatly done. Several plushies, and to the side – a tablet and a printed out photo of an old woman. As the adrenaline quieted down I dropped the halberd. I was pretty sure there was no one else. If I heard anything I still had my gun, and I could sprint to either of the two melee weapons. Thankfully I at least had a holster on me to use.
Beyond the tablet, there was a personal computer at the storage room. I inspected both of those in order, and noticed that I was comfortable using them. I knew where I needed to press, what would be the most efficient place to check first and so on. And the moment I saw an account password on the PC I was sure of it. I was a hacker, or maybe just a programmer, but I definitely worked with computers at some point. Using the devices I learned much more about my situation. This base was situated in one of the craters of Noachis Terra region of Mars. There was no internet, or at least this place didn’t have it.
I looked around for another hour until the lights suddenly jumped in brightness and I realized that it was simulating the day cycle, as there were no windows. Then I noticed that my body was exhausted, and that I probably would have to stay here for a while. I also remembered, that in his dying breaths, the fighter said that I would be hunted down for killing them, that my days were numbered. I tried to calm down a bit, and forcing myself to ignore the fact that a few dozen metres from me lay deteriorating corpses, I entered the sleeping quarters. At first I wanted to pick a different bed from the girl’s, until I realized that the other sleeping capsules were pretty dusty. Too much, in fact, for me to bear. So I desecrated the late girl’s bed. As much as it felt morally wrong, it felt soft. And as much as I thought about how fucked up all of this was, the pillows smell distracted me and made it easier to forget the line of thought. I fell asleep.
I awoke to the putrid smell of death, I fell deep in thought as how could it set in so fast, until I realized that one of the victims of mine had a gunshot wound to the bowel. So the smell was different from death’s, but still very potent. Immediately I decided that my next goal would be burying, or just disposing of the bodies.
I finally found a mirror. It was in the cramped bathroom just beside sleeping quarters. I was very tanned. Or rather, my face was. Light stubble and long blond hair in a ponytail. I found latches on my forearm that released the seemingly airtight gloves. I had realized just by feel that I had mechanical fingers, but seeing them drove it home. The idea of having lost a part of me, disturbed me deeply. I inspected my clothes in a meticulous manner and found two similar latches on the collarbone that probably would lock a helmet on, to complete the suit, allowing me to tread on Mars. But neither have I seen a big, glass, spherical helmet, nor have I noticed an air tank on me.
Fighting the urge to puke from the rancid smell, I searched around the base, and having found a locker with an icon of a spacesuit, I understood that the sack I saw beside the first corpse I saw yesterday, was the “helmet”. I guessed that the sack-helmet in the locker, with two small air tanks, were mine. I had a hard time believing that a textile bubble of a space helmet, would work. Its stretchiness would mean something would have to control the pressure inside my suit, but I definitely didn’t have a microchip on the suit, nor did anything in the locker. Or so I thought, until I found a small block on the sack which could hold in a chip. It also had a small solar cell on the outside. Later I picked up the air tank and stared at it in slight despair. There was a complex valve. So I would have to trust in that the valve, by mechanical principles alone, would save my blood from boiling as I depressurize the exit chamber. As for the carbon dioxide… I assumed that the block on the sack of a helmet could be for that, but I would definitely need to check. I had no idea where from I had all this knowledge, as no memories came back, but I was sure to use it.
I scoured as many places as I could. I did find a more conventional spacesuit, but there had to be a reason why it wasn’t used. Instantly I thought of batteries, but I would rather check them after I disposed of the corpses. I looked at one of them. The one that was in the exit chamber. If the suit worked for that man to get here, surely, the same one that was on me would work for a few minutes, to bury, or even dump the corpses out of the base. I did find a shovel, but whether I would have the time, or strength to use it was yet to be seen. I decided that I would bet on my suit working, although I did double check beforehand that it did not sustain any visible damage. The men didn’t land even one hit on me, it seemed.
I started off by dragging the bodies to the exit chamber. I quickly found the control panel that would depressurize the room, and understood how to use it. I put on my sack-helmet. Then I pressed the depressurization button and confirmed it with another. I could barely see or hear it, but the sound and vibration were dissipating, a sign that the vents worked. What I did miscalculate was that the corpses were in earth’s pressure. So now, everything that could, was oozing out of the corpses. If I had eaten anything prior, it would have come out when I forcibly gagged just then. I stopped the system before it reached the Martian atmosphere levels. Leaving new blood footprints, albeit dry, I hurriedly searched for a trash bag of some sorts, that could fit in the bodies whole. Thankfully, as I had no idea what I would do otherwise, I had found it. I returned to the exit chamber and scooped up everything into it with great shame, and disgust. Having finished I initialized the depressurization procedure again. At the last moment I remembered to lighten my grip of the end of the bag, averting its inevitable explosion. The depressurization process hurt my ears, and was greatly unpleasant, but the suit worked. I had to find out why these were used instead of the normal ones.
I dragged out the bag with three corpses, which was something I kind of knew to indicate that the gravity was weak. I had no idea how Mars compared to Earth in that regard, but surely it was at least 20% lighter. Evidently, the bag was strong enough to not rip from the small pebbles. I was so mentally drained from what I just had to do, that I contemplated joining those three using one of the bullets I still had. But instead I just dropped the bag, and gave up on the idea of burying it. I went back inside, and pressurized the exit chamber. Once again it was unpleasant, but the valve did its job. I would not take off the suit yet, because I needed to test would there be any adverse effects to using the suit for longer periods of time, and I would need to clean off the coagulated pools of blood. I thought that it would be best to use it as a fertilizer, so I looked around for a way to add it to the enclosed hydroponics farm, but I didn’t find anything of the sort, and had second doubts about the idea. If I were forced to stay here for longer, compromising my food supply by a dumb mistake as such would be too tragic. So I just scooped everything up and put it into a sealable bag. Then, put it far away, so that the sight of it wouldn’t send shivers down my spine, as it did while I collected its contents. After finally completing the clean up, I took off the sack-helmet, and then even the entire suit. I did not notice any adverse effect of wearing it for fifteen minutes. My clothes underneath were resembling what the girl wore, but much dirtier, and extremely smelly.
First thing I did was go to the shower. Which, surprisingly, had enough water. Although I did not find any shower gel or shampoo. Did the supply of those get depleted, or was there none because it would contaminate the water would remain a mystery to me. Out of the shower I was faced with hunger, decently potent, although as I realized when I looked at my body naked, I was probably undereating a bit for a long time. Seeing my muscles I realized that they were smaller and weaker because of the gravity, especially the legs. I put on some men clothes that were in the storage room. I found some food, including what the girl probably made from the vegetables grown in the hydroponics farm.
I understood why I had killed the two men, they had come to kill me anyway, or so it seemed. But why would I shoot the girl, maybe even in the back of her head judging from how she had lain. I pictured myself shooting her from the back. If my memories wouldn’t return, I could never learn the truth. Consciously and intentionally moving onwards with my thoughts, I sat by the computer and went through everything much more thoroughly.It didn’t take long to find more detailed maps, which had marked sites for other settlements. If life on Mars got down to this level, then something had to be seriously wrong. And I found out what. “The_Complete_Nuclear_Annihilation_of_Earth_2051.docx”. I somewhat reluctantly opened the file, as a part of me wanted to keep the extent of knowledge about the event to a minimum. But still, I was interested how it all reached the breaking point. Following a huge economic crisis, one of the countries that had the most nukes had collapsed into pieces, and some of those pieces got hold of the warheads. They placed insane ultimatums, which at first were met, out of fear. But then, when the economy couldn’t bear it, one of the requirements, which was unrealistic to begin with, wasn’t met, and the first nuke flew at one of the most populated cities of the world, what was worse, that it was of a nuclear country, so the scenario of mutual destruction played out. Other fragments of the fallen superpower launched all they had, foolishly thinking that they were too, targeted. In the end, so many nuclear arms were used, that the overwhelming majority of humanity died relatively fast, others followed later. The writer of the documents assumes that some survived in various shelters, but their numbers could lower than those of the Martian colonies combined. The space programs were, of course, abandoned, and slowly went into disarray, any contact with Mars was lost, and it was left to fend for itself. With its hundred thousand residents. Which lead to the quality of life falling steadily, and reaching never before seen lows. The inability to gain new resources, or make new tools because of the very same reason. Later the inability to make gunpowder. Mars was left in a horrible, mostly anarchic state for up till now. Which was 2104, I found out after I toggled the setting to display the year with the date. It boggled my mind that it was off. And that I had forgotten to look it up by that point. Maybe it was because I had no idea how old I was except that I looked probably around 28. I laughed hysterically as I processed everything.
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