Translator: Lonelytree Editor: Lucas
In the underground base’ third level…
It had been more than 10 hours since the pathway between the second and third floor caved in. Thankfully, the life preservation system wasn’t greatly affected by the disaster. However, even though the temperature and air continued to be properly maintained, it didn’t take away from the devastation of being buried alive!
For better or for worse, since this was not the first time The Hope’s citizen faced such despairing situation, they managed to wait patiently for rescue. They had faith that The Hope’s government would not desert them!
Grounded by such a faith, the thousands of people calmly went about looking for possible cracks in the wall or still open pathways. Simultaneously, the technicians among them conducted a careful check-up, ensuring the life preservation, air recycling and communication systems were well-functioning.
The result was regrettable because the cable for the communication system was found out to be irreversibly damaged during the quake. This meant that they had no means of communication with the outside world. And since there was no radio wave in outer space, common communicative devices like mobile phones were unusable, which was not a problem because there was an endless supply of landlines littering the base’ 3 levels, and not to mention, they were also equipped within each spacesuit. Sadly, they were all useless then.
Due to their lack of foresight, they had been effectively displaced from the bigger community…
Everyone’s composure persisted for the initial several hours. People went about their way checking the acid base’s concentration, the functionality of the various machineries, or just resting.
The mood shifted greatly 10 hours in, when the last set of chemical potion was added to the crystal reactor.
It was hard to understate the importance of this crystal reactor. It was responsible to power the base’ life preservation system, its death meant the death of 3000 plus people.
Admittedly, that was an exaggerated worry because the enclosed pocket of air could ironically stretch the trapped citizens’ survivability, but what about the alien plant?
Granted the plants posed no harm directly to humans but they would make easy work of the base’ overall structure. If the plants ate through the base wall, exposure to the vacuum would doom them all!
In other words, when the chemical bath lost its effectiveness 8 hours later… that would be their time to face death!
Gradually, obvious expressions of despair started to manifest. People got either increasingly agitated or placid. Some sauntered about instigating fights while others sat to a side and started writing their wills on their clothes. A few soldiers even started sleeping.
Mark Norse, the father of 2 sons opted for neither!
He was not going to give up because his wife and 2 sons still awaited his return on The Hope! He was going to be a survivor to see his loving family’s faces again!
He refused to lie down and die just like that. His family deserved better!
That was why Mark had been going about the place looking for salvageable parts ever since 2 hours ago. Spotting the increasing roll of wirings in Mark’s hands, several of his colleagues joined him in the search.
"…yes, I intend to build a rudimentary wireless communicator," Mark revealed to his friends, "there are however 2 issues. One, there is no suitable parts around. This level is mainly used for constructing factory-scale parts like attachments to the external cabin so it is hard to find small components that are used in electrical devices.
"Secondly, it’s the structure of this base. Do you know why the base is not fitted with wireless communicators? The answer is actually very simple. This meteorite contains deposits of radioactive minerals, this much is common knowledge. It might even contain minerals that could no longer be found on Earth. In any case, the radioactive waves of these minerals would interfere with radio waves.
In fact I believe this interference is constant with regards to the communicators on The Hope and within the spacesuits. But, they are usually too weak to pose any trouble to such powerful devices."
Mark shrugged disconsolately, "Wireless communicators, on the other hand, because it is not part of the future-tech ensemble are not stable enough to withstand interferences from these waves. Therefore, usage of landlines is more reliable… under normal circumstances that is.
The device that I’m trying to build could reach around 500 to 1000 meters without interference. Sadly, while we’re trapped here, it has only a 100 to 200 meters range of communication…"
Mark turned to face the group around him with a weak smile, "that distance though could still bring us into contact with the people above us… We will know if it’s truly time to despair after I’ve finished building this communicator."
"How long would this take?" A middle-aged man asked, "We don’t mind trying, but…"
He pointed somewhere far away, "I don’t think that bunch of people are willing to wait."
He was pointing at a group of people who had been gathering at the end of the caved in pathway, chipping away at the stoppage. Eager to do something, these people were working off their inner upheaval by moving fallen rocks and pushing over boulders. As time moved on, their progress gained traction as more people joined in. Unfortunately, the aggression wasn’t always directed at the rocks. 3 altercations had already broken out. It was only a matter of time before… one would see blood.
Mark shook his head helplessly and turned back to check the materials that they had gathered, "We still don’t have enough ingredients to build a communicator. According to our current progress, we would need another 3 hours."
"Then let’s hurry and split up. Hopefully that’ll buy us some time. If necessary, dismantle the machinery and even the shuttle, what use would these serve if all of us were to die?" the middle-aged man clapped his hand and announced.
Everyone continued their search with renewed vigor.
3 hours later, when the materials were adequately assembled and Mark started building the communicator, trouble ensued.
The group that had been digging at the pathway by then had grown to about 2000 plus in size, and about 10 of them surrounded Mark’s group. One of them yelled, "You people had been scavenging around the area like rats and for what? For a dumb communicator that has at most a 200 meters range! Are you kidding me?!
Give it up already! There is no longer anyone other than ourselves that are trapped in this base! It has been 14 hours since the earthquake and we have not seen or heard any signs of help coming from above. Do you hear any sounds of digging? Cause I don’t! They must have left for The Hope already! Tell me, what’s the use of your communicator then?
Stop what you’re doing and come help us! With all of us pitching in, I guarantee you, we will be able to get out of this place on our own!"
The person’s order gathered support among the people around him and Mark watched all this unfold with a sinking feeling in his gut. They hadn’t resorted to grabbing his project or smashing the materials but he knew these people were not far away from that mob mentality. The inherent threat was obvious, either join them or suffer their wrath.
"Everyone, please listen to me. The pathway is completely blocked by the cave in. Without tools or explosives, it is impossible for us to leave. Even if we have explosives here, I would suggest against using it. What if it causes more collapse? The reason we are building this communicator is because…" began Mark in a loud and clear voice. He was slowly convincing the crowd to his perspective but…
His group was still the minority!
"Smash their stuff! They will have to help us then!"
Screamed the man as he rushed towards Mark’s communicator, and he was followed by a few howling men. There was a blind rage burning in their eyes…
Mark closed his eyes in defeat. He knew it would be futile to stand in the way. In fact, it might even make things worse. These people could no longer be reasoned with. They were out for blood…
(So, is this the end?)
Suddenly, with the man’s foot hovering threateningly over the communicator, a song drifted into the area…
A calming and hopeful song, one that spoke of faith and rescue…
And it came from…
All 3000 plus people, including the raging mob stopped and lifted their head to stare at the ceiling.
Yes, it was true. The song came from the second floor!
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