You will know your worst mistake when you make it, because if you're lucky, if you're very lucky, the universe won't let you go until you undo it.
Dear Penthouse Forum, Martinez thinks wryly when he wakes up in the Hab the day after they left it. I never thought this would happen to me.
It should be easy. Martinez knows the storm is coming. He can call everyone's attention to it. They can evac sooner, they can all make it out alive.
Except it isn't that easy. Because no one believes the storm could be that bad, and what's Martinez going to do, tell them he came from the future? Tell them that Watney will die if they delay?
So he pushes at everyone, worries at it loudly, and then does his best to keep his eye on Watney, keep him close.
When Watney goes flying, Martinez closes his eyes. When Watney is declared dead, Martinez knows: he is going to be here again.
Martinez hugs Watney in the morning. Watney laughs self-consciously and makes a joke about it. Martinez doesn't tell him that he's seen him die twice so far.
Instead, he talks to Lewis. "The MAV isn't going to tip," she says. "NASA sends the MAV here for years to wait for the next mission. It's not going to tip because of a sandstorm. We don't need to abort so soon."
"Let's just make sure, okay?"
Lewis asks if he's been having nightmares. If Martinez can't save them all this time, he's going to have to tell them. They're a team, they're a crew. Martinez doesn't need to handle this on his own.
But he doesn't want to burden them either. For the crew right now, everyone is alive, and they have no reason to think that's going to change. If they can make it to the Hermes, Martinez can keep this a secret. No one needs to know how close Watney came to dying.
But this time, it's the Hab airlock that comes at them. Martinez is the only one to make it to the MAV.
"Watney's going to die today," Martinez announces at the crew huddle in the morning. "There's going to be a storm, a bad one. We're going to abort the mission and go back to the Hermes. But Watney won't make it."
They don't believe him until Martinez gives Lewis a full description of the samples she's about to send them out to collect.
"We'll abort now," Lewis decides.
It's not that easy, of course. They have to tell NASA, and what are they going to say? That Major Martinez is stuck in a time loop?
Yeah. Yeah, they do that.
They make it to the Hermes, barely. Watney touches the walls with wonder on his face.
And in the morning, Martinez wakes up right back in the Hab.
If it's not Watney, what is it? What could be tying Martinez to Mars other than preventing Watney's death?
He doesn't tell anyone about the storm this time. Instead, he watches everyone. They don't know Watney is going to die today, but they know about the storm. It's not supposed to be a big one.
Watney is their mechanic and all-around general fixer, so Martinez asks him during breakfast, "what would you do if the MAV tipped over?"
"The MAV's not going to tip over," Watney says, and Martinez has deja-vu so bad, he chokes on his space eggs.
"What if it did? Winds like we've never seen before, and then, boom, down goes the MAV."
Watney shrugs. "We find a lever big enough and we move the world."
He wakes up in the Hab. They all wake up in the Hab. Waiting for them are plans from NASA about how they're going to fix this.
"All right, Watney," Lewis says. "You have the floor."