In the pasture, the shepherd dogs were in the midst of the flock and starting to drive it forward. Similar to the Eastern region finals, the flock of sheep were gradually picking up speed. Even if they had taken slightly longer than the previous two teams to gather up the flock so far, given the speed of the flock, they would definitely make up ground.
Wu Yi and the others in the viewing hall got more and more excited. Zu Wen and the others were red in the face from all the shouting.
The intersection ahead was narrow and there was an obstacle in the middle. To cross it, they had to let the flock become thin, or split them up to go around it.
Su Hou requested to issue commands and made gestures to Curly Hair and Bingo, instructing them to lead the dogs on both sides to split up and go around the obstacle.
Fang Zhao was watching the screen intently. On the screen, as Curly Hair was running, it barked a few times. It was issuing commands!
The lead dog barking out commands to other shepherd dogs was not uncommon, so no one found it surprising. However, Fang Zhao, who had been watching Curly Hair closely, had realized that, before Su Hou had even gestured with his hands, Curly Hair had already started to increase his speed. This meant to say that Curly Hair's understanding of the course had been even quicker than Su Hou's! If Su Hou had not requested to issue commands, what would Curly Hair have instructed the other dogs to do? Fang Zhao could not guess.
The shape of the flock as it encountered the obstacle split into two, forming a "Y" then becoming a "Λ" and after the obstacle had been passed, the flock congregated back together. During the entire process, the running speed of the flock did not change much. Although the flock on Bingo's side was slightly slower in gathering up, generally, the entire process was very smooth.
Everyone in the viewing hall had their eyes on the timer at the top right hand corner, and they were going crazy.
The only calm person in the hall was Fang Zhao, who was still analyzing Curly Hair.
Curly Hair had learned how to lead the other dogs on the field to coordinate and herd the sheep. He had already adapted to become a leader on the field for the competition. Other than strength, he had brains.
The harder the challenges, the quicker it grew.
His outward experience did not change much, yet inside, every day, he was evolving rapidly. Perhaps very soon, his IQ would be similar to that of an average adult?
Fang Zhao did not know whether bringing Curly Hair was the right decision, but from what he saw now, Curly Hair did not show any signs of menace.
As the competition went on inside, the police guarding the parking area were no longer as busy as they had been before, but they still had to continue watching the area to stop any accidents from happening.
The arena had already been closed off and sealed. The sounds from the audience were isolated. They could only hear the sounds of the commentators coming over from the arena. Occasionally, in between the pauses in the commentating, they could hear some barking come from the pasture.
During the previous two rounds, everything had been normal, but after Dongshan's run had started, something started to feel wrong.
Low growls were coming from a police dog. This time there was no barking, firstly because the distance was rather far, so the threat they felt was not as intense, and secondly because they had instructions not to bark too loudly when the competition was underway so as to not affect the competing dogs.
This was not just limited to one dog. All around the arena, the scattered dogs were all exhibiting the same sort of behavior.
The police dogs bared their teeth, their eyes showing an ominous glint as they kept growling nonstop.
"Captain, what do we do?" someone asked.
The police captain had already received multiple reports from all his men scattered around the arena. After getting the concrete details, he found out they were all the same. This behavior only started when Dongshan Farm's turn was up. There had been no complications during the previous two teams' turns.
Taking a while to think, the police captain then instructed his men through the communications device. "If the police dogs are only facing the arena and growling, do not do anything. Wait till Dongshan Farm has completed their run before giving me another situation report."
The competition was underway. The men standing guard here were unable to see the live broadcast, but from the bits and pieces of the commentator's words, they could tell that Dongshan Farm's round was ending soon and they had successfully crossed obstacles one after the other, and their results seemed to be looking good.
"They are in!"
"They are all in the pen! Every single one! Four minutes and 49 seconds!" The commentator howled, "Four minutes and 49 seconds! It's better than the previous year, as well as the year before that! It is the best time in the last five years! Just shy of the record by five seconds!"
Outside, the police officers made eye contact with each other. There was delight in their eyes as they flashed each other victory signs.
They had all wagered on Dongshan being first. This was an outstanding result. Barring any accidents, first place should be assured.
The police captain watched his leashed dog. It's growling and snarling slowly ceased. The fierce and violent demeanor vanished as well. Reports were coming in from all the other police officers that things were back to normal.
"Alright, everything is normal. Don't get distracted, continue to watch the surroundings," the police captain said through the comms.
Just five seconds short of breaking the record in the first round of the finals. What a pity. However for Fang Zhao and the others in the viewing hall, this was more than enough to be happy about. This result was sufficient to beat the majority of other teams in the first round!
There were still five more teams after them, but the atmosphere in the viewing hall had become more relaxed. When Su Hou and the seven shepherd dogs returned, Wu Yi knelt down and kissed each dog.
After the vets had inspected their bodies, they were fed and given water as well as massages to alleviate fatigue. The way the seven dogs were treated was better than humans.
Fang Zhao's gaze turned toward Curly Hair. Curly Hair had just finished drinking and was lying there enjoying the massage. When he caught Fang Zhao's gaze, he wagged his tail vigorously, as if taking credit for the hard work.
Laughing, Fang Zhao gave him a thumbs up and looked elsewhere. He had some doubt in his heart. Did Curly Hair's changes have anything to do with him being reborn? After the competition ended, he would need to find some time to head back to the black street and ask around.
"There are five more teams to go. Let's watch!" Wu Yi regained his composure and sat down to observe the remaining teams.
After every team had completed their runs, Wu Yi heaved a huge sigh of relief, as the times of those teams were slower than their own. Shoubei Farm of the Eastern region also posted a decent time—5 minutes 13 seconds—and were in the top four.
Among the five teams that went after them, the best time belonged to a farm from the Western region. They had gone under five minutes as well, but their time of 4 minutes 58 seconds was nine seconds slower.
Teams that could qualify for the finals were all outstanding. The results of the first round were all very close, but without a doubt, Dongshan Farm's results were really an eye-opener.
Once all eight teams had competed, the sealed arena was opened once again as sounds and laughter came drifting out. The previously quiet competition grounds were full of noise. They were still discussing the competition. There was delight and sorrow. Some people were laughing happily while others stormed out full of rage. These people had spent money on the wagers. Some people were returning with a few times their wager, whereas others could only watch on as their money became other's.
When the competition ended, Wu Yi and Su Hou brought the dogs through the official passageway for their post-match inspection. After that, they still needed to allocate the car for the dogs and to attend an interview. The dogs would be looked after by specialists from the organizing side. Su Hou and Wu Yi had additionally hired people to protect them as well, so there was no need to worry about their safety.
Fang Zhao led Zu Wen and the others through another passage as they exited the arena.
While exiting the arena, Fang Zhao's mind was still pondering Curly Hair when he heard someone shout his name.
"The person in front, Fang... Fang... What was it... Oh yeah, Fang Zhao! Hey, Fang Zhao!"
Fang Zhao turned around, looking for the source. The others also turned back curiously. When Su Feng had a clear look at the person who came running over, his eyelids could not stop twitching.
"Zaro Renault?" Fang Zhao watched as the sloppy-looking youngster came running over. Thinking about Great General Renault's temper, he wondered, if Renault were still alive and he saw this descendant's conduct, he probably would raise a hand in anger, right?
Zaro's assistant followed closely, holding a cup in each hand. One was filled with wine, the other with a cold drink. Another bodyguard held a fan and faced it toward Zaro.
After Zaro ran over, he took off his spectacles and tilted his head. His assistant rushed over and handed over the cold drink. After letting Zaro suck a few mouthfuls through a straw, he kept it and stood aside.
Smacking his lips, Zaro examined Fang Zhao. "The one who created Polar Light was you, right? Forget it, let's talk about the other stuff next time." As he spoke, he tilted his head right and left and looked around, but he could not find the dog he was looking for.
"Where is your dog?" Zaro asked with a hint of arrogance.
Zu Wen and the others started to take precautions. What was this stupid idiot trying to do with their dog?!
"Went another way for an inspection," Fang Zhao replied.
"When can he come out?" Zaro asked.
"Never mind, I heard the curly-haired dog belongs to you?"
"Are you selling? Just name a price!"
"Not for sale."