Chapter 283 Past Dismissal Time
This was Zhang Heng’s first time meeting other players in a quest. Before this, it had always been just him alone. He only had to think about his surroundings and the resources at hand to successfully complete the main mission. There wasn’t much else to consider.
This time, however, there were six other players in the Apollo Program’s training camp with him. No one knew each other beforehand, which meant everyone’s identity, skill, or game items they carried were a mystery.
Seven people competing against each other for three spots. Even if they were able to achieve a short-term truce, it wouldn’t make much difference in the end. Those who were falling behind wouldn’t just sit there and do nothing if their career was as stake. Of course, that wasn’t the reason why Zhang Heng refused to go along with Livingston’s proposal.
Anyone who had played games that involved killing people knew the importance of character design.
The threats present in this round of the game weren’t just external but also internal – between the players themselves. As the game progressed, players not only needed to study the mission in detail but also excel in their physical training. They would then need to size up their opponents, and figure which ones were the potential friend or foe.
Although no one mentioned it, it was undeniable that those who ranked at the very bottom would have no choice but to get rid of the player above them if they wanted to board Apollo 11. Therefore, under normal circumstances, the sooner someone outshone the other, revealing their cards too quickly, the easier it would be for them to be targeted by their opponents. That said, the actual situation at hand differed slightly.
Because only three persons would be selected to fly Apollo 11, it wasn’t necessary for the players to get rid of everyone who performed better than them. In fact, players would need to consider many factors before making those choices. The scores, the opponent’s strength, relationship, and the opponent’s subsequent role in the moon-landing operations all had to be taken into consideration.
It was also the reason why the high-school student shared information he possessed with the other players and the middle-aged man who had attempted to be the team’s leader.
Zhang Heng, on the other hand, opted for a different method. Thanks to the Black Sail quest, his temperament and general resolve had turned a tad fiercer and wilder than that of the ordinary person. When he first entered the game, he clearly sensed the other players’ inhibitions toward him. Except for the girl who showed interest since the beginning, he could also sense that even the plump man, somewhat ostracized by the group, didn’t dare stand too close to him.
It would have been a waste of effort to devote so much energy and time to change everyone’s opinions, and it might not make much of a difference anyway. Zhang Heng would rather stick to the image they had of him and would use it to send a message to potential enemies to consider the risks of going against him carefully. Sure enough, as soon as he said that, Anthony and the high-schooler looked at him differently, and Livingston’s brows furrowed. Through the course of their interaction, they realized that Zhang Heng could be a lot more difficult to deal with than they initially thought. Livingston, the intellectual of the group, actually posed the question to feel Zhang Heng out, sizing up the man’s determination. He didn’t expect him to be this unyielding
Currently, it appeared that among the seven players, Zhang Heng was the one not to be trifled with. And since he had made clear his intentions to disregard the other players, it was going to be difficult for them to gain any useful information from him. He did this as a kind of barrier, preventing them from properly evaluating the threat he posed and reformulating their strategies on the fly.
Only the girl didn’t seem surprised. Instead, she appeared thrilled, and her eyes shone with the eagerness of a child.
At that moment, the captain entered the room. “Alright. I believe you’ve all taken a look at your training manual, and know that you’ll have to master everything in it. The bureau for knowledge has specially arranged for experts to teach you. Classes start at four in the afternoon and break at six. You will continue with the second session from six-thirty to eight-thirty. The third class will start at twelve and end at two.”
“Excuse me,” the student raised his hand. “The third lesson you mentioned; is that twelve noon to two in the afternoon? Shouldn’t that be the first class, then?”
“No, you will have other types of training during that period. The third lesson I mentioned is from midnight till two in the morning.”
The captain wore an unemotional, hard expression. Looking at the recruits below him with steely eyes, he grumbled, “I believe you all know that we don’t have much time left. We need to make the best use of every minute and every second. I hope that that you won’t waste what little time we have by asking such stupid questions again!”
Plump Anderson, who had the nick of saying the wrong things at the wrong time, opened his big mouth, “We have classes in the wee hours of the morning? Even our college entrance examinations weren’t even this excessive!”
The captain smirked, only to move aside to make way for an elderly man that looked like he could use a shower. With wild, unkempt hair and a greasy collar, he entered the room in a slow but steady stride.
“Professor Steve from the Manned Spaceflight Engineering Program will be explaining Saturn V’s structure, and basically… basic rocket science.”
“Right now?” Livingston looked bewildered. “Shouldn’t we visit the space center first, learn about the current space program, get to know the logistics people we’ll be working with? And what food and lodging and such?”
“Don’t worry. We have arranged all your meals and accommodation for you. As for the visit, it’s scheduled at 0600 hours tomorrow morning,” The captain said as he flipped through the pages of what seemed to be a timetable.
“Wait. Didn’t you say that the third class of the day will end at two in the morning? Then, we have to wake up by six?!”
“I’m sorry?” Anthony thought he had trouble hearing the captain.
“It’s ‘assemble’, assemble at six, not wake at six,” the captain corrected himself. “Anyway, I wouldn’t want to waste more of your time. What you learn here will determine if you can survive in space. So, do yourself a favor, and work hard. Don’t get distracted.”
When he was done, the captain took no more questions, and simply nodded at Professor Steve. “Go ahead and start the lesson, professor.”
Then, he left the conference room as he closed the door behind him. Right before he exited, the high-school student who had been closest to the door overheard the captain muttering under his breath, “Ugh. These greenhorns…”
The old professor handed out six hundred pages worth of materials to the recruits, then picked up a piece of chalk. “Good afternoon to the lady and all of you fine gentlemen. Glad to meet you. Today, we’ll be looking at our first chapter: physics of rocket thrust…”
Forty-five minutes later, the bell that everyone had so badly anticipated did not ring.
Steve might have appeared like a regular old man, a little shaky when he moved and all, but he sure didn’t look like he’d been standing for two hours. He didn’t even seem the least bit tired, not taking any breaks in between, not even until six o’clock. He just kept going on, and on, and on.
“Who was the one who said that capitalism keeps its student’s past dismissal time?” A weary Anderson muttered.