Chapter 280 Unprepared

“David, let’s begin if he is ready.”

Zhang Heng witnessed the few before him getting on the machine, and when his turn arrived, it was a completely different feeling from what he expected. He noticed a small monitor in front of him on his right, set in an offset position. There were also two joysticks on his left and right. The machine seemed to be a crude contraption and looked simple enough to operate. However, the moment the Multi-Axis Trainer was turned on, he quickly realized how hard it was to stabilize his seat. Precise maneuvers were needed to control the power and angle, and just as he was starting to familiarize himself with the controls, the Multi-Axis Trainer sped up. Zhang Heng felt as if he was rudely tumbled around in a blender at full speed. As the machine rolled on its axis like a modern-day zorb ball, he started fiddling with the control sticks in an attempt to get upright. To be honest, he had no idea if they even worked. When he looked around him, all he could see was a kaleidoscopic blur of colors. The lights on the ceiling appeared for a moment and somebody’s legs, the next. In milliseconds, the pipes on the walls were in front of him. The scenes flashed and repeated multiple times as the machine mercilessly dragged its helpless victims along with the ride. And the worst part was that the dinner in his stomach also started churning vigorously.

Apart from the vomiting plump guy who was still in the toilet, a few players who just recovered from their harrowing ordeal had started taking pleasure in Zhang Heng’s misfortune. After all, they obviously didn’t do well, and with dissatisfied hearts, naturally hoped that those who went after them would fail as well. After a while, the man with the gold-rimmed glasses snapped out of his daze.

“How long has it been?”

Everyone started looking at each other when the question was asked. They had just returned from a nightmare, and although they glanced their surroundings from time to time, their attention was mostly on the instructor.

Suddenly, a loud announcement could be heard.

“Two minutes and fifty-two seconds. It passes our average time and beats our worst record by twice.”

The firm sounding lass had short hair and looked to be extremely experienced. Clearly, she was now interested in Zhang Heng, having laid eyes on him since he took a step back from the fatso on the verge of puking. “Thanks for the reminder,” the overweight man grumbled. After getting fixed up by the medical staff, he had regained consciousness. However, puking all over his mates wasn’t going to do him well, and before he could even make friends, many already held a grudge towards him. Alienating an earthling in a space program might sound ridiculous, but so was the nature of humanity. Right now, he stood as far away from the crowd as possible, nervously wiping away the beads of sweat on his forehead that just wouldn’t stop flowing.

“What does that guy do? A pilot? An acrobat?” asked Anthony.

“Who knows? I think he has the look of an assassin,” the girl replied gleefully.

While they were talking, Zhang Heng finally asked to stop the Multi-Axis Trainer. When both of his legs finally touched the ground, he was greatly disorientated, grabbing the rails of the staircase to stop himself from falling over. Living life as a pirate for ten years, he was forced to brave countless storms on Jackdaw. Hence, he could balance himself better than most people, the reason why he lasted longer on the machine. After a while, though, he took to the toilet just like everyone else.

When he came out, the six candidates were already gathered together at the same spot. “To prevent any of you from forgetting my name, I’m going to introduce myself again. My name is William Kenhaus. You can call me Kenhaus or captain. It’s entirely up to you. As you know, we’ve just launched Apollo X three days ago. We plan to orbit the Apollo Lunar Module around the moon for some initial testing. The data gathered will help us to better prepare for our first moon landing in the near future. So far, everything is woking as intended, and if all is nominal, the crew should return to Earth in five days. After that, we’re up.”

The captain paused for a moment, cleared his throat, then continued.

“Apollo XI will send humans to the moon. However, we face one problem right now. A week ago, a few of our astronauts got infected by a new disease, and although our medical team tried their best to contain it, many caught the bug and are severely ill. In their current state, it would be impossible for them to carry out the mission. The main crew, their backup, and even the support teams assigned to fly and operate Apollo XI were infected as well. In other words, we don’t have enough people for the launch.”

Zhang Heng and the other players listened intently to the captain. According to the history of NASA in the real world, no highly infectious disease had ever broken out in the space center. Seemingly, the developers of the quest were trying to insert it into this critical event. It was exciting to see how the whole thing was going to turn out with the addition of a new and unforeseen variable.

“Anyway, we are in need of personnel to run Apollo XI. The mission director attempted to talk to the president into delaying the whole mission, but his proposal was unfortunately denied. Sputnik, Gagarin, and the Soviet Union are way ahead of us in space technology. Right now, the score is 2:0. We have to win this time, no matter the cost!

“I personally prefer to recruit very experienced pilots to become astronauts, but the president and mission director personally recommended all of you. I, for the life of me, cannot fathom why they would choose you lot. From what I see, you are worse than my grandma who fought in World War I! Since this is a direct order from the commander in chief, I have no choice but to follow it. So, I will need you to put away your sorry asses and buck the hell up. “From today onwards, I’ll be responsible for your training. If you are lucky, the crew of Apollo X might return on time. If they manage to recuperate from the journey, they will be assigned to fly Apollo XI. If that happens, touch wood, all of you here will only have to be the backup crew for the mission. You’ll be glad that you don’t have to die in space. Okay. Any questions?”

Every player tried to digest the pile of information pouring into their ears as fast as they could. the moment they opened their eyes and saw their uniforms, most already knew what the mission was like. After listening to the captain, they now understood their current circumstance. Most of those present had completed several quests, and technically, experienced all manner of challenges the game would throw at them. However, this was the first time they were asked to fly to the moon since entering the game. Never in their wildest dreams would they expect to be strapped onto a rocket, blasting themselves all the way to the moon.

As the gravity of the situation dawned on them, grounding their feet ever closer to mother earth, they saw more anxiety in each other’s eyes than when they hopped on the Multi-Axis Trainer.