48 Hours a Day

Chapter 321 - Apollo Training Camp (End)

Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation

On a silent moon, the entrance platform slowly opened, and a camera was turned on as well. Armstrong walked out of the hatch and climbed down slowly along with the landing gear.

He first checked the four load-bearing legs to make sure they were good order so the Lunar Module could use the entire descent stage as a launchpad when they lifted off. They would just need to fire up the ascent stage' engines to return to lunar orbit and dock with the Command and Service Module.

A voice from Mission Control came over the communications channel.

"The camera is good. We can tell you, Neil, you are looking good."

"Thank you, Houston."

Armstrong looked up to Zhang Heng in the lunar module. He then nodded at him.

"A textbook landing."

After that, Armstrong continued to climb down the ladder.

(The following were the original words of Armstrong when he landed on the moon)

"...I'm at the foot of the ladder. The LM footpads are only depressed in the surface about 1 or 2 inches, although the surface appears to be very, very fine-grained, as you get close to it. It's almost like a powder. Down there, it's very fine."

After he was done talking, Armstrong turned around.

"I'm going to step off the LM now."

Millions of people had been sitting in front of their TV's biting their nails and holding their breaths until Armstrong's left foot moved from the ladder to the surface.

"... That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Armstrong said.

However, due to a transmission problem with the sound equipment, and distance from the Earth, the sentence became intermittent when transmitted to the television. Coupled with Neil Armstrong's strong Ohio accent, many people did not hear what he said.

Then, the audiences in front of the TV began whispers of, "Wait, what did Armstrong say when he landed on the moon?"

"Well, it seems like he said, this is a small step for man, but also a big step for mankind?"

"It all sounds very philosophical, but is this a small step or a big step for mankind?"

"..."

It wasn't deliberate, though. In fact, nobody who watched the broadcast, NASA's own mission control in Houston included, heard the letter 'a' in the middle. At the same time, the press had already begun writing their articles. Every journalist was now in the race to be the first to report the big scoop. It wasn't until Armstrong returned to Earth that he re-explained what he said on the moon.

All those things would only happen way after Armstrong returned to Earth. Zhang Heng followed Armstrong down the ladder and took his first steps on the moon's surface. What attracted him the most was an equally desolate but magnificent scene. This was a monochrome world of gray, undulating with craters and jagged surfaces. There was nothing but rocks and dust around him. No sound or life existed there as well. Eternal silence was the only thing one could find. That said, it was all undeniably a breathtakingly beautiful sight to behold. It was no wonder Armstrong later said, 'I have been to the moon, so, where else on Earth can attract me?'

Beauty and scenic value aside, however, things didn't look so good for the human body. Without the protection of the ozone layer, the temperature on the moon's surface could reach a scorching 160 degrees during the day, and at night, it would drop to an ungodly minus 180 degrees. Coupled with the ubiquitous radiation and lack of oxygen, astronauts needed to be in their spacesuits at all times.

Zhang Heng couldn't look at his watch, but mission control told him the time on Earth over the radio. He only had apparently less than thirty minutes left before the end of this quest. In other words, the journey was about to come to an end.

"Neil, I'm going to stroll around," Zhang Heng told Armstrong, who stood not far away from him.

"Affirmative, David. Be careful."

"It's nice to have met you, Neil."

Those were Zhang Heng's last words to Neil Armstrong. After that, he hopped to a distant crater like a rabbit.

After jumping around for about a hundred meters, Zhang Heng turned off the radio. Now, all he heard was his own breathing and the buzz of the life support system. It was pitch black, as the vast blanket of space hung above his head. At this moment, he was alone on an empty lava plain. It was as if he was standing in a palace of the ancient gods. And like the soundless alien world, his heart had also gone exceptionally quiet. Zhang Heng did not know where he should be going. So, he walked into the darkness in front of him without hesitation.

[The quest has reached its deadline. Quest is completed...]

[Apollo Training Camp quest is cleared. Your fifth round of the game is over. Returning to the real world...]

...

Zhang Heng opened his eyes. This time, the quest didn't last too long. Combined with the transitional quest, its entire duration was less than a year. However, as the time-flow rate was slower this time, six hours had already passed in the real world. The bar downstairs was probably closed at this hour.

Fortunately, nothing changed in the lounge. It was at the beginning of the month, and it was rare to see guests around. Besides, Zhang Heng should be last to finish the game. Only he and the bartender were left in the lounge. She hid behind the bar and was reading Akira Toriyama's "Dragon Ball." She took a glance at Zhang Heng as he got up from the couch.

"You were away for a long while this time."

"I traveled to a land far away from here."

The bartender made a lame joke.

"How far? Did you go to the moon?"

"Almost," replied Zhang Heng as he threw down five game items over the bar counter.

"Great yield. Psst. Psst."

The bartender put down the comic in her hand and put the game items in a wooden Tulewood box.

"Did you get to meet other players?"

Zhang Heng nodded, picked up the tablet on the side, and entered his player number. He then clicked the confirm button and paid 20 game points for the identification fee.

"You didn't tell me how you could meet other players in a single-player game..."

"I can't reveal too much. In fact, I have told you almost everything I'm allowed to tell you. On the bright side, you managed to get your hands on another five items."

"By the way, do you provide storage services at this checkpoint?" Zhang Heng asked as he moved along quickly.

He didn't want to dwell on the topic anymore, knowing that once the matter here was dealt with, Zhang Heng could finally return to his hometown and celebrate Chinese New Year. He did not plan on bringing along those game items with him. He knew that it was the time where he would cross paths with many people. It was a recipe for potential problems.

"Yes. Three game points per item, per day."

"Huh?"

Zhang Heng raised his eyebrows, and he thought he heard it wrong.

"The checkpoint is the safest place to store all your game items. Even if the three most powerful guilds invade this place, it's still impossible for them to take your game items. It will only cost you three points per item. Value for money proposition, don't you think?"

Zhang Heng quickly noticed a loophole. "What if the three major guilds capture the owners and force them to withdraw all their items?" he asked.

The bartender only laughed, implying that she was only responsible for keeping the game items safe, and had nothing to do with the lives of their owners.

"Forget it. I'll take care of my game items myself," Zhang Heng replied.

He then wrote the address of his grandfather's house on a sticky note.

"Please send them to this address."

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