Chapter 312 Duel In The Sandstorm
Over the horizon, a yellow sandstorm swept forward at an alarming speed. Zhang Heng made a quick glance. The sandstorm was seven to eight kilometers wide and at least two to three kilometers high, impossible to run from on foot. Even NASA’S helicopters with the best maneuverability couldn’t risk taking off and flying into such violent natural phenomena. And with the rather unimpressive speed of the jeep, it wasn’t possible to pick the three before the sandstorm arrived. This was why the captain wanted them to stay where they were.
It was the first order of his that wouldn’t be heeded. The three knew the sandstorm was the clarion call for the final battle. The thick dust surrounding them would reduce vision to a bare minimum, and under such conditions, NASA’s observers would completely lose control of them. No matter what they did, it would literally stay between the three of them. In other words, there was no longer the need to hide their strength. Zhang Heng glanced at Jia Lai from a distance, who also happened to look the same way. Their gazes intersected. At this moment, Jia Lai finally decided to expose the intense murderous rage in his eyes.
“Sorry. I will win this game and survive. If there can only be one winner in this game, then only I can be that person,” growled Jia Lai.
The sandstorm was now less than a few hundred meters away, and Zhang Heng quickly took off the innermost vest of his uniform and tied it across his face to cover his mouth and nose. The biggest threat brought by sandstorms were suffocation and blindness, and without protective measures, the large amount of sand carried by the wind would quickly enter and block the respiratory tract, causing the person to choke. As for blindness, they had goggles with them, fortunately. After Zhang Heng completed all the necessary steps to protect himself, he took out a stolen steak knife from dinner at Area 51 the night before.
Moments later, the sandstorm finally made landfall.
Jia Lai was right. From the beginning, Zhang Heng didn’t plan to advance solely by relying on his excellent grades. Because there would be a week-long quarantine period afterward, Zhang Heng wasn’t interested in testing if NASA provided adequate protection for the mission team. What more, there was a high probability that Jia Lai and Bruno would become part of the support team at the space center. They might get the opportunity to get rid of Zhang Heng at that time. Thus, Jia Lai wasn’t the only one using the survival course as a means to get the last seat on Apollo 11. Zhang Heng, too, also planned to use this opportunity to deal with the threats before the quarantine commenced.
However, Zhang Heng completely didn’t expect the arrival of the sandstorm. Compared to the waterspout he summoned from the sea, Zhang Heng leaned more towards the fact that Jia Lai wasn’t the creator of the sandstorm. If he were, he wouldn’t have waited until the end of the training to summon it. And as strange as it sounded, this wasn’t the best environment for the sandstorm to deal maximum damage.
Although they were on relatively flat terrain, there were large boulders and rock formations nearby, which could be used to shelter the winds and sand. It didn’t offer the best protection from the storm, but it was sure better than the flat dunes they passed an hour ago. Zhang Heng speculated that Jia Lai should be in possession of an item that could accurately predict the weather. He foresaw the arrival of the sandstorm ahead of time, the reason why he gave up last night’s opportunity to strike and ultimately delaying the final battle.
Of course, it didn’t rule out the fact that his item might have needed a long time to create the sandstorm. It explained why it only started brewing at the end of the training. Be that as it may, since the sandstorm was here, it was time for Zhang Heng to strike his enemies down as well. As he moved, he turned his back against the storm and tried crouching as low as possible.
Bell once told him that the sand particles would get finer at the upper layers of the storm, thus increasing the probability of suffocating. On the contrary, sand particles in the lower parts of the storm would be relatively large, and by just using a cloth filter, it could prevent sand from entering the nostrils or the mouth. At the same time, he had to watch out for flying debris.
The best way to survive a sandstorm would be to find a reliable shelter and hide within its confines until it passed. Visibility would be reduced to almost blindness, where one could only see up to a meter ahead. Naturally, it was easy to lose one’s direction. Zhang Heng, however, was unaffected by these problems. Before the winds became too strong, he had scanned the nearby terrain and located Jia Lai and Bruno’s positions. Just as expected, Jia Lai was no longer at his initial position.
Zhang Heng quickly drew a map in his mind. There was a stone about the height of a person less than thirty steps away. It would make for a good sandstorm shelter, and Jia Lai might have moved there. Of course, that also meant the possibility of traps waiting for him. Also, about fifty steps to his right was an unsecured car hood laying on the ground. If used properly, it could help shield most of the wind and sand, and even block incoming attacks when necessary. Zhang Heng hesitated for a while and decided to head in the direction of the car hood. He was afraid that the longer he waited, it would soon be completely submerged under the piling sand. With the power of memory, Zhang Heng began to move to his right. He silently calculated the steps he took in his mind. However, after fifty-five steps, he failed to find the hood. There were two possibilities for this situation. It could have been taken away by someone, or he had moved in the wrong direction.
If it were the latter, it would be more troublesome since he didn’t know which direction he was currently facing or how far he had deviated. If he were unsure of his current location, then the map in his mind would be useless to him. If that were to be the case, he would need to give up on looking for Jia Lai and seek shelter immediately.
Getting lost in a sandstorm was no joke. Even if Zhang Heng covered his face with his clothes, prolonged exposure to the sand would still cause indefinite suffocation. By a stroke of luck, Zhang Heng suddenly spotted the silhouette of the hood he was looking for after turning a few steps southwest. At the same time, a shadowy figure appeared behind him.
The sand and roaring wind not only reduced visibility to near-zero but also made hearing ineffective. To prevent sand from entering his ears, Zhang Heng had to wrap it up, further plugging out the sound. In such harsh environments, it was almost impossible to hear footsteps on the sand that came from behind.
Zhang Heng knelt on one knee on the sand, preparing to dig out the half-buried hood. The shadowy figure, on the other hand, had also lifted a large rock, preparing to smash it on Zhang Heng’s head.