After the results were released, the players started to grow more cautious of each other. It resulted in an awkward happening during lunch hour. The remaining players were so worried that their food was poisoned that none dared take the first bite. At the same time, the players were clearly divided. Zhang Heng was still alone, whereas Livingston and the high-school kid decided to partner up telling themselves that they would both pull through. Although not the best partnership, these two were definitely more robust than the Jia Lai-Zhen Xiong duo. Still, despite everything, nobody could figure out the identity of the real killer. Suspicions among the players were rife, and the matter had turned into a hugely destabilizing factor.
Since there were now fewer people in a team, it meant everyone was a step closer to victory. At the same time, the players would also have to bear greater risks. The opportunists would surely strike first in a time like this.
“What’s with the rush?”
The schoolkid hesitated a little after hearing Livingston’s plan.
“I know that your mind is constantly bugged about whether I killed those two players or not. Since we are now partners, I can tell you confidently that it wasn’t me. If you are not lying, then we better pray that Bruno is the killer. Otherwise, the culprit must be either of those two in our opponent’s team.”
“The worst part is, we don’t know how it was done. Judging by the two accidents, we know that their items must have an ability that could affect an aircraft. We will have zero-gravity training tomorrow morning, and we have to get on a plane for the parabolic flight. If you don’t want any ‘accidents’ happening to us, I think we should deal with the threat as soon as possible. By the way, how many times have you joined a single-player game with competitive mode? Still have those wild imaginations in your head?”
“This is my second time. The first time, I was in a far more dangerous situation than what we are in. Many players were killed in an earthquake in my previous game. In the end, the survivors were even fewer than the minimum amount of players required to complete the game.”
“You are really lucky then. In my previous game, two of my real childhood buddies had to fight each other to grab the last spot. Since they used fake names and their looks had been modified, they didn’t recognize each other until the final moment.”
“Did they work together to eliminate other players?”
“It was too late for that. There wasn’t enough time to work out a plan. Besides, the others weren’t that weak as well. Even if they worked together, they weren’t confident enough that the plan could be executed successfully. When one of them hesitated, his friend struck and killed him, grabbing the last slot for himself.”
The schoolkid was shocked by the dramatic ending. To conceal his surprised face, he quickly moved on with the conversation.
“I don’t sympathize with them, you know. I’m just worried about NASA’s employees. After all, one too many accidents happened on the same day. I’m pretty sure the authorities are starting to suspect that it’s all a deliberate act. Oh, and the public isn’t painting NASA in the best light at the moment. The media has also been focusing a lot on NASA’s accidents recently, doubting they can safely get our people on the moon. If we act on your plan right now, you think it might affect the Apollo Program…”
“Only the living have the right to worry about tomorrow. Don’t worry about Apollo. In such times, NASA has no option but to carry on with the project. They will try their best to prove the world wrong, and all. What we need to do now is to eliminate the rest of them and get ourselves on Apollo 11.”
“You’re right. I couldn’t agree more. We’ll go according to your plan during the fire drill,” the schoolkid nodded.
After a month training and studying, the players were already familiar with Kennedy Space Center’s surroundings. Hence, the schoolkid managed to make his way to one of the storerooms during his break. The small-ish room located on the seventh floor stored the base’ daily rations, and security there wasn’t too tight. Usually, a single administrative officer would watch over the place. It wasn’t too difficult to sneak in without alerting anyone. After the accidents, NASA increased the security of the entire facility. Although the store wasn’t of great importance, they placed a guard there anyway to ensure nothing untoward would happen again. However, that didn’t stop the schoolkid from breaking in. He took out a small piece of glass, and after a few tries, he managed to turn the sunlight’s reflection to the guard’s face. He then placed it outside the wall and waited for him to pick it up. The startled guard immediately got up, approaching the curious shiny object with caution.
It was at that time that something magical took place. Right after the guard picked up the glass, his mind went completely blank, and he plopped to the ground with a gaping mouth, stunned and oblivious. Relieved, the schoolkid emerged from the back of the wall, took a quick look at his surroundings, and hurried into the storeroom. After a while, he walked out hiding something under his shirt. Once he picked the glass from the ground, the guard returned to his normal state.
“Great. I have been looking for this thing. I’m glad you found it. Thank you so much!” the schoolkid exclaimed, with an ear-to-ear smile beaming over his face. The guard was still in a daze, unable to remember what happened after he picked up the glass. As a NASA employee, he quickly recognized the schoolkid as one of the astronaut candidates. So, he nodded at him and returned to his post. After getting the items he wanted, the schoolkid quickly ran back to the training center. He arrived at the training center right before the fire drill started, ending up beside Livingston and gasping for air. Many people were looking at him.
“Are you trying to tell everyone you’ve just done something behind their backs?”
“Easy for you to say. Try running from the canteen to the storeroom to the training center in such a short time! I’m nowhere on time. I think I did a good job, though. Managed to figure out how to make the captain team us up without raising our opponents’ suspicion?
“We don’t have to say anything. They are weaker than us. Logically, they should be the ones worried, not us.”
Before Livingston could finish, Zhen Xiong pointed at Jia Lai and asked the captain a question.
“Kenhaus, can you put us in the same team?”
“I’ve teamed up with the others during our previous sessions. Anderson is the only person I haven’t teamed up with. I would like to team up with different people so I can familiarize myself with the way others do things.”
“Very reasonable. Request granted.”
Zhang Heng had no intention to get involved in their fight. Hence, he asked to team with the trainer. Thus, everyone now had their partner with them. Everyone also knew that this part of the training wasn’t going to be as simple as they thought it would be.