48 Hours a Day

Chapter 278 - Apollo Training Camp

Chapter 278 Apollo Training Camp

Although Spring Festival was still two weeks away, the bar was already warming up, with New Year decorations strung generously over the windows and walls. On the second floor, the bartender had already plastered the lounge with little red trinkets for the upcoming celebrations.

Zhang Heng raised his eyebrows, “A fortune dog?”

“It’s the year of the dog – when in Rome, do as Romans do.” The bartender chewed on a piece of gum while tinkering with her new concoction, a New Year’s special.

Today was the first day of February, and the lounge appeared empty as it always was during the first half of every month. Due to quests being randomly drawn, the players would be like anxious students that were about to sit for their year-end exams, keen for that little bit of extra time for some last-minute revision. Traffic at the bar often surged at the end of the month.

But Zhang Heng’s winter vacation had already started last month, and it would go on until the beginning of next month. Having booked a ticket home in advance, he was set to leave in a few days. Although he could locate other game checkpoints in his hometown, he wasn’t as familiar with them as he was with Sex and the City. Not to mention that he needed to wipe off any trace of his decade-long life as a rugged pirate.

For those reasons, Zhang Heng decided to use up the month’s game frequency in advance. However, this meant that his plan to return to the previous quest would have to be delayed. “Happy New Year.”

Zhang Heng sat down at the booth, then set the alarm and placed it in front of him.

“Happy New Year and have a good trip,” replied the bartender. She didn’t look up from her work, but rather, dropped some dry ice into the cocktail glass with a pair of tongs. Soon, white steam filled the rim of the glass and gently poured out like a waterfall. About fifteen minutes later, the alarm rang, and Zhang Heng felt a familiar dizziness. Then, the system prompt played in his ear.

(Player identity verification]

[Verification approved. The fifth quest is randomly selected for player 07958.] (Extraction completed – Current Quest: Apollo Training Camp]

(But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.]

It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be our best to organize and measure our abilities and skills. Because we are willing to accept this challenge, we will not want to delay it, and we must win.”

[Mission Objective: Try looking at earth from a different angle]

(Mode: Single Player; Competitive mode)

[Time flow rate: 240]

(One hour in the real world is equivalent to 10 days in this game. Player will be returned to the real world after sixty days) Friendly reminder: The game will begin in five seconds. Please get ready.

The message for this quest sounded unprecedently rich. It simply couldn’t be helped because the Apollo project was simply too famous. When he heard of Mannerheim Line and New Providence, it had taken him a while to register the information. After all, most weren’t too familiar with the Winter War and Nassau’s pirates. No one, however, hadn’t heard of the Apollo Project.

Being the first man to land on the moon, Armstrong carved his name along with mankind’s grandiose ambitions in the history books of human space exploration. He was as famous as Gagarin, the first human to journey into outer space. Although the space race had its origins from a bitter and complicated political rivalry, it was undeniable that it played a considerable role in the advancement of engineering, technology, and exploration beyond the confines of planet Earth. Many of these technologies, first tested in space by the military, were gradually converted to civilian use. Satellites, once a top-secret military project, had changed the way humans lived, now indispensable communication tools. More importantly, this period in history demonstrated extraordinary bouts of courage and humankind’s relentless spirit of exploration. It also inspired China, India, and other countries to venture into space. The quest’s background introduction was an excerpt from Kennedy’s distinguished moon-speech in 1962.

For now, though, Zhang Heng’s focus was on the words ‘single player with competitive mode’.

Unlike most players who preferred to play in a team, Zhang Heng had finished all his quests solo. However, in the previous four games, he was always the only player, not to mention that the missions were also always in single-player mode.

Now, with the addition of the word ‘competitive,’ did it mean that he would encounter other players? The five seconds given for preparation was brief, to say the least. Before Zhang Heng could speculate the matter further, the game had already begun. The first thing he saw was a beam of blinding white light washing upon him. Zhang Heng pushed the spotlight above his head away and saw that he was standing in a sealed room. Next to him were six other people, dressed in the same blue uniform he was wearing.

Zhang Heng looked down and saw a NASA logo on the left of his chest, and on the right was his black identity card with an English name on it – David.

Unsurprisingly, the organizing committee had always done a good job of protecting players’ privacy. In a quest where more than one player was present, they would ensure that each one received an alias. And if he was right, his appearance would also be altered to a certain degree. Since he didn’t have a mirror on hand, he couldn’t say for sure how he looked right now.

Nevertheless, Zhang Heng could feel that he was still in his own body, and his strength and agility seemed to be where it was. That was good news.

For now, he didn’t have the time to observe the other players; his attention drawn to the large, peculiar instrument laid before him.

“- Aerotrim (multi-axis trainer) is designed to simulate a situation on a three-axis gimbal that can be rotated in any direction. This contraption will help you familiarize yourself with unforeseen situations that you may face in space. Once the pilot is strapped in, it will start to spin. If you still don’t understand it, imagine yourself as a cat getting spun around in a drum of a washing machine. Your task is to stabilize the instrument before you pass out.”

Standing opposite them was an instructor, also in a blue uniform. He looked at the seven trainees before him, then declared, “Our first victim, Anderson.”

All seven candidates lowered their heads and glanced at the identity card on their chests. A slightly overweight man named Anderson looked devastated.

“Aww, come on! Ain’t this a little too harsh for our first time? What the hell is this thing anyway? Does it come with a manual?”