“Jesus what a complicated process,” Venkat said.
“Try updating a Linux server some time,” Jack said.
After a moment of silence, Tim said “You know he was telling a joke, right? That was supposed to be funny.”
“Oh,” said Venkat. “I’m a physics guy, not a computer guy.”
“He’s not funny to computer guys either.”
“You’re a very unpleasant man, Tim,” Jack said.
“System’s online,” said Tim.
“It’s online. FYI.”
“Holy crap!” Jack said.
“It worked!” Venkat announced to the room.
[11:18]JPL: Mark, this is Venkat Kapoor. We’ve been watching you since Sol 49. The whole world’s been rooting for you. Amazing job, getting Pathfinder. We’re working on rescue plans. JPL is adjusting Ares 4’s MDV to do a short overland flight. They’ll pick you up, then take you with them to Schiaparelli. We’re putting together a supply mission to keep you fed till Ares 4 arrives.
[11:29]WATNEY: Glad to hear it. Really looking forward to not dying. I want to make it clear it wasn’t the crew’s fault. Side question: What did they say when they found out I was alive? Also, “Hi, mom!”
[11:41]JPL: Tell us about your “crops”. We estimated your food packs would last until Sol 400 at 3/4 ration per meal. Will your crops affect that number? As to your question: We haven’t told the crew you’re alive yet. We wanted them to concentrate on their own mission.
[11:52]WATNEY: The crops are potatoes, grown from the ones we were supposed to prepare on Thanksgiving. They’re doing great, but the available farmland isn’t enough for sustainability. I’ll run out food around Sol 900. Also: Tell the crew I’m alive! What the fuck is wrong with you?
[12:04]JPL: We’ll get botanists in to ask detailed questions and double-check your work. Your life is at stake, so we want to be sure. Sol 900 is great news. It’ll give us a lot more time to get the supply mission together. Also, please watch your language. Everything you type is being broadcast live all over the world.
[12:15]WATNEY: Look! A pair of boobs! -> (.Y.)
“Thank you, Mr. President,” Teddy said in to the phone. “I appreciate the call, and I’ll pass your congratulations on to the whole organization.”
Hanging up, he saw Mitch Henderson in the doorway.
“This a good time?” Mitch asked.
“Come in, Mitch,” Teddy said. “Have a seat.”
“Thanks,” Mitch said, sitting in a fine leather couch. “Good day today!”
“Yes, it was,” Teddy agreed. “Another step closer to getting Watney back alive.”
“Yeah, about that,” said Mitch. “You probably know why I’m here.”
“I can take a guess,” said Teddy. “You want to tell the crew Watney’s alive.”
“Yes,” Mitch said.
“And you’re bringing this up with me while Venkat is in Pasadena, so he can’t argue the other side.”
“I shouldn’t have to clear this with you or Venkat or anyone else. I’m the flight director. It should have been my call from the beginning, but you two stepped in and overrode me. Ignoring all that, we agreed we’d tell them when there was hope. And now there’s hope. We’ve got communication, we have a plan for rescue in the works, and his farm buys us enough time to get him supplies.”
“Ok, tell them.” Teddy said.
Mitch paused. “Just like that?”
“I knew you’d be here sooner or later, so I already thought it through and decided. Go ahead and tell them.”
Mitch stood up. “All right. Thanks,” he said as he left the office.
Teddy swiveled in his chair and looked out his windows to the night sky. He pondered the faint, red dot amongst the stars. “Hang in there Watney,” he said to no one. “We’re coming.”
Watney slept peacefully in his bunk. He shifted slightly as some pleasant dream put a smile on his face. The previous day had been particularly labor-intensive, so he slept deeper and better than he had in a long time.
“Good morning crew!” Lewis called out. “It’s a brand new day! Up and at ‘em!”
Watney added his voice to a chorus of groans.
“Come on,” Lewis prodded, “no bitching. You got 40 minutes more sleep than you would’ve on Earth.”
Martinez was first out of his bunk. An Air-Force man, he could match Lewis’s Navy schedule with ease. “Morning, Commander,” he said crisply.
Johanssen sat up, but made no further move toward the harsh world outside her blankets. A career software-engineer, mornings were never her forte.
Vogel slowly lumbered from his bunk, checking his watch. He wordlessly pulled on his jumpsuit, smoothing out what wrinkles he could. He sighed inwardly at the grimy feeling of another day without a shower.
Watney turned away from the noise, hugging a pillow to his head. “Noisy people go away,” he mumbled.
“Beck!” Martinez called out, shaking the mission’s doctor. “Rise and shine, bud!”
“Yeah, ok,” Beck said blearily.
Johanssen fell out of her bunk, then remained on the floor.
Pulling the pillow from Watney’s hands, Lewis said “Let’s move, Watney! Uncle Sam paid $100,000 for every second we’ll be here.”
“Bad woman take pillow,” Watney groaned, unwilling to open his eyes.
“Back on Earth, I’ve tipped 200-pound men out of their bunks. Want to see what I can do in 0.4g?”
“No, not really,” Watney said, sitting up.
Having rousted the troops, Lewis sat at the comm station to check overnight messages from Houston.
Watney shuffled to the ration cupboard and grabbed a breakfast at random.
“Hand me an ‘eggs’, will ya,” Martinez said.
“You can tell the difference?” Watney said, passing Martinez a pack.
“Not really,” Martinez said.
“Beck, what’ll you have?” Watney continued.
“Don’t care,” Beck said. “Give me whatever.”
Watney tossed a pack to him.
“Vogel, your usual sausages?”
“Ja, please,” Vogel responded.
“You know you’re a stereotype, right?”
“I am comfortable with that,” Vogel replied, taking the proffered breakfast.
“Hey Sunshine,” Watney called to Johanssen. “Eating breakfast today?”