As he sat in his seat staring out at the blur beyond the open mouth of the cave, the fierce and howling winds shook the craft even as it docked in the shelter of the cave. His exhaling chest fell slowly while a tear escaped and ran down his cheek. Straining, he worked to draw another breath from the now stale interior of his suit.
“This must be the end of the line for me…” He whispered to the empty passenger seat in the cockpit. Knowing that he would soon lose consciousness, he questioned just how lucid he was during these very last moments.
The dull emergency lighting glowed faintly in the background of the vehicle that would soon be his tomb. From behind his mask, he looked down at the now blank dashboard that was part of a larger system that had failed him. Betrayed by a lethal combination of mechanical failure and bad weather, he knew that these were certainly his last few breaths and any more words spoken would hasten his end.
There was no hope for him now. This was the result of his choice that made hours before when he opted not to try to send a distress call. There was a chance then that they might have made the effort to extract him. But even now as death slowly closed in, he was sure that he had made the right decision to remain here alone in the skiff.
He exhaled and felt his eyelids growing heavy as the view ahead narrowed to slits of fuzzy darkness.
Wheezing, he managed to draw in another gulp of air.
There had been no call for help. He did not give them the satisfaction of knowing that he failed. Instead for the time being, they would be left to wonder, and even possibly worry, about the damage that he had wrought in his mission.
The sound of the wind was now starting to fade into the background.
Blinking his eyes, the vision of wind whipped sands was occasionally replaced by complete blackness.
Moments remained now until his chapter would be over. Colonists would soldier on here on this planet after he passed from the world— millions of miles away from the planet where he was born.
Although there was sadness in drawing these last breaths, a faint smile formed as his lips as he thought about the trail of breadcrumbs that he had left behind. His efforts could still bear fruit. There could still be revolution and his efforts did not have to be in vain. There was still hope.
His eyes closed for the last time and his final thoughts were of a transmitter that lay hidden only a few hours away across the desert.