48 Hours a Day

Chapter 308 - Venomous Snake

Chapter 308 Venomous Snake

Zhang Heng kept thinking about the man he met earlier named Einstein, and wondered if it was merely a coincidence that he mentioned the words ‘magnificent desolation’. Those were the words of Buzz Aldrin, describing how he felt when he first set his eyes on the moon’s surface as he exited the Lunar Module.

But he couldn’t find the man again. The name ‘Einstein’ was obviously fake, and for now, all Zhang Heng knew was that he was a researcher in Area 51. However, no thanks to the extremely secretive nature of Area 51, unless Einstein sought Zhang Heng out, they would never meet again.

Einstein appeared and disappeared in a jiffy, very much like the evening sandstorms.

Early the next morning, Zhang Heng paid close attention to Jia Lai’s and Bruno’s expressions. From the look on their faces, he concluded that nothing special must have happened the night before. The man who called himself Einstein was nowhere to be seen, but whoever the man may have been, Zhang Heng set the matter aside first since survival training was coming up.

The results of the training would eventually decide which of them would be the final candidate to board Apollo 11. Things, however, didn’t turn out the way NASA expected

After breakfast, Zhang Heng and the two crewmates changed into their spacesuits. Area 51 sent military trucks to ferry them to the training location. When they reached the training range, a mock-up Lunar Module awaited them on the yellow sands to replicate the command and service module separation sequence as they returned to earth.

The Lunar and the Command Module simulators were built on a one-to-one ratio, and every last screw on them was configured precisely like the actual vehicle. Equipped within it were all the items the astronauts needed to survive the wilderness.

The truck pulled over in front of the simulation module and dropped off the three trainees. It was only after they entered the simulator that the truck left.

Two kilometers away from the range, the captain and NASA personnel were observing the situation with telescopes. NASA had learned their lesson from all the previous accidents, and they placed an emergency rescue team on standby in the vicinity. Helicopters and off-road vehicles were also on the ready, not to mention that Area 51 Air Force Base wasn’t far away, and they agreed to send assistance when necessary.

Fingers crossed, with the beefed-up precautions and preparations, there shouldn’t be any more accidents.

To say that the modules were cramped would be an understatement, and comfort was probably a concept as far as the moon itself. In fact, the entire spacecraft had been so carefully designed that every gram it weighed was into careful consideration. Take modern rockets, for example. Every additional 1kg of weight would require an additional 50kg of fuel. To ensure the spacecraft would have sufficient escape velocity, the launch vehicle needed to have adequate thrust, and the spacecraft’s weight was usually kept as low as safely possible.

Once its functionality and safety were verified in the best way, it was deemed necessary to sacrifice a part of the piloting experience. Nonetheless, three men waiting to rip each others’ throats apart while squeezed and squashed together into the tiny module sounded a little ironic.

This was especially true for Bruno, whose breathing had turned rapid; his mind seeming drifted and preoccupied. Jia Lai and Zhang Heng, on the other hand, appeared to be much calmer. Especially the latter, whose breathing rhythm had hardly changed.

The thick bulky spacesuits that were on them smothered out of whatever little room they had left, and even if they wanted to, nobody was going to carry out whatsoever plans they had been brewing. After waiting for god-knows-how-long, during which the three trainees remained in solemn silence, the captain announced through the radio that they could begin the training.

Jia Lai, closest to the hatch, climbed out first, followed by Bruno. Zhang Heng was the last to leave the module. When his feet touched the soft, sandy ground, he unlocked his helmet and removed it. Immediately, the surrounding sounds and air flooded his senses, and he felt as if he had returned to the outside world. When he looked up, he saw nothing but desolation all around them. Except for some sparse bushes, only one monotonous hue colored his vision.

Right away, they were faced with an awkward problem-how were they getting out of their spacesuits? Since the suits were explicitly designed to be used in space, they became a cumbersome problem upon landing. Lugging such heavy equipment around would severely restrict their movement and consume considerable energy.

Hence, after the command module landed, the first thing the astronauts were asked to do was to remove the suits they wore.

Even after all that training, it would take a good while if you relied on yourself to remove the suit. If you had a companion to help you, however, it would greatly hasten the entire process. The problem right now was that the three of them were competing against each other, and none were about to lend any assistance, even when it came to such minor favors.

Eventually, Zhang Heng was first to speak up, telling Jia Lai, “I’ll help you.”

A look of surprise flashed across the latter’s face. He nodded, feeling grateful. For a split second, Bruno regretted his inaction. He and Jia Lai were nominal allies and he should have been the one to step up and offer help. Zhang Heng, however, beat him to it. Too bad that NASA was watching them with hawks eyes, and it wasn’t the best idea to get rid of an opponent right now.

So after Jia Lai got out of his suit, he helped Zhang Heng to do the same. In the end, Bruno, too managed to get rid of the shackle of a suit and put on an ordinary NASA ordinary.

In the meantime, Zhang Heng returned to the simulation module, getting some food and water from the cargo trunk along with other useful instruments that he may have any use for. The three requested for help as they were trained, and reported their approximate location to the control center. After that, they began constructing a makeshift shelter.

Zhang Heng had already done this countless times in his first game. The difference this time was, he didn’t have to go around scavenging for materials since NASA had kindly taken into account the various environments the astronauts faced upon landing, preparing everything they could think of in advance. All they had to do now was to carry out all the materials from the Lunar Module and assemble the shelter accordingly.

Even Jia Lai had to admit that Zhang Heng had the disposition of the most ideal crewmate, a calm, reliable, all-rounder. But for an opponent, that surely couldn’t be a good thing. It would mean that he was going to be significantly more challenging to kill. It was essential that an opponent of such caliber would have to be killed with a single blow, or he would certainly come back for him. Such an opponent would give him no second chances.

Fortunately, Jia Lai had always been a patient one, or he wouldn’t have pretended to be the harmless puppy at the beginning of the game. He waited until Zhen Xiang and Bruno teamed up before getting rid of the rest of the players. Only then did he show his true colors.

He was exactly like a venomous snake, always on the lookout for the best time to strike.

So, at the beginning of field survival training, Jia Lai seemed to be very cooperative. After the other two requested for help, he actively joined the construction of the bunk. It took the three about fifteen minutes to complete it. As a finisher, they installed a canopy to shelter them from the blazing sun above their heads.

As a requirement for the training, none of them had breakfast. Zhang Heng distributed the food he had retrieved from storage to the other two. Although starving, Jia Lai didn’t rush to finish his meal, giving Bruno a cold, hard look instead.

The latter understood what Jia Lai meant and, with a bitter expression, opened the bag of dehydrated food, mixed it with water from a sealed bag, and ate a spoonful.