Although the security personnel was delighted, he did not brag to his friends about receiving the signatures right away. After all, Fang Zhao had chosen to use a plain car, which meant that Fang Zhao did not want to be recognized, so he decided to only share it after Memorial Day.
Fang Zhao headed straight to his destination after entering Yanbei City. He had bought a place in Yanbei last year. It was still winter, and many people wore scarves. Fang Zhao had a scarf and cap on, so it was not easy for him to be recognized.
As for Curly Hair, Fang Zhao placed the dog in his bag and carried him.
Fang Zhao spent the night in his apartment, and on the 27th, he brought Curly Hair along to his second uncle's place to visit his two elders. Last November, his second uncle and aunt had asked Fang Zhao whether he would be returning for Memorial Day.
Second Uncle's oldest son, Fang Yu, had gone to serve the military and would not be back to celebrate Memorial Day. This time, only Fang Qi and their daughter Fang Ling would be home.
Fang Zhao drove the inconspicuous rental car over to Second Uncle Fang's place for a meal with the four members of that family and agreed to their warm invitation to stay the night.
Upon seeing Fang Zhao once more, Second Uncle and Second Aunt Fang were slightly more uncomfortable. They behaved like they were guest rather than hosts. Last year, Fang Zhao was only "promising," but this year was too alarming. Every day, they would find out more about Fang Zhao in the entertainment news. Sometimes Fang Zhao even appeared in the headlines. Of course, they felt gratified. After all, Fang Zhao was their nephew.
The next morning, which was also Memorial Day, Fang Zhao drove the rental car and brought the other four to the retirement center.
On the journey to the retirement home, Second Uncle and Second Aunt Fang filled Fang Zhao in on the happenings of the past year. Fang Yu's military service was going smoothly, and every once in a while, he reported that he was fine. He would be completing his service this year and returning home. Both Second Uncle and Second Aunt Fang were extremely glad and were counting down the days.
Besides Fang Yu, they also talked about Great-Grandfather Fang. In the past year, Second Uncle and Second Aunt Fang had visited Great-Grandfather Fang on some small occasions, as always, but unlike past years, Great-Grandfather Fang had contacted them more often and had voluntarily showed an interest in their family. For example, Fang Yu's military service developments and others. This had made Second Uncle and Second Aunt Fang overwhelmed by favor. Great-Grandfather Fang had also asked about Fang Zhao, but when he'd talked about Fang Zhao, his facial expressions had been way more obvious.
While Second Uncle Fang recounted all of this to Fang Zhao, Second Aunt Fang, Fang Qi, and Fang Ling were all seated in the back row of the car along with a not-too-large curly-haired dog.
Fang Qi and Fang Ling were using a comb to brush Curly Hair's fur as Second Aunt Fang sat beside them, watching and worrying that her two children would pull on its fur too hard.
When she had seen the dog yesterday, she'd had no idea what to feed it and had been afraid that the food she prepared might not be suitable for it. Luckily, Fang Zhao had brought along dog food.
Watching for a while, Second Aunt Fang had not been able to help but reach out and pet it. They all knew the value of this dog, and her hands had trembled as she'd touched the fur.
Memorial Day was the liveliest part of the year at the retirement center, and there were lots of people coming and going, just like previous years.
Today, Great-Grandfather and Great-Grandmother Fang had woken up early, changed into a brand new set of festive clothes, and sat at the door waiting for the younger generations to come.
One hour, two hours...
The visitors kept streaming in nonstop. There were also favorable younger generations that came to visit, and the two elders counseled them and gave out red packets. It seemed just the same as previous years. However. today, the two elders kept looking out the window and kept checking for incoming messages, more than 10 times within an hour.
Everyone who noticed the two elders doing this gave a pained expression.
Who were they waiting for?
Who else could it be!
The two elders were basically only pleasant to the youngest generations. In the past, they had treated their grandkids' generation well, but now that they had a generation of great-grandchildren, they treated this batch better. And among their great-grandchildren, Fang Zhao was the one with the best achievements.
A notification of a text message.
Great-Grandfather Fang's eyebrows rose and he rapidly checked it and replied.
Fang Zhao had arrived at the retirement center and parted ways with Second Uncle Fang's family. After parking the car, he entered through another way.
Fang Zhao had sent the two elders a text message when he'd arrived, as this arrangement had been requested by the two elders. Fang Zhao was no longer the same as before—he was a rather famous celebrity now. There were many youngsters visiting the retirement center today, and if he were recognized, it could have an undesirable effect on the retirement center. Great-Grandfather Fang had told him to head straight to their residence first and rest if there were no pressing matters. After the two elders were done here, they would head back to have a chat with Fang Zhao.
After parking the car and walking over to the two elders' residence, he passed by a family that were also here to visit their elders. The father was teaching his secondary school son how to win the favor of their elders. He noticed his son's mind wandering and was a little angry. "What are you looking at? Did you hear what I just said?!"
The teenager pointed at the figure that was passing by them. "That man seems kinda familiar..."
"There are so many people every year, there are bound to be some familiar faces."
"He looks like my idol!"
The father heard what was said and slapped his son across the back of his head. "Of all the things to learn, you learned how to chase after celebrities!"
Fang Zhao headed to the house number Great-Grandfather Fang had given him and found the two elders' residence. The door had already been remotely unlocked. Fang Zhao sat in the living room and waited. He did not check out the other rooms.
Around four in the afternoon, the two elders returned, and they even brought Fang Zhao a big portion of dinner.
"Have you decided on where to go for your military service?" said Great-Grandfather Fang when he entered and sat down.
The two elders had found out from Second Uncle Fang that Fang Zhao had a military posting that he could use to go wherever he wanted to go, but now, Fang Zhao had a wide reputation and the media was all over him. Great-Grandfather Fang was afraid that Fang Zhao was too young and not clear-headed enough. A wrong choice at this juncture could be his downfall. If Fang Zhao brazenly went and received special treatment, he would surely be condemned by the media.
"I wish to serve on a warship." Fang Zhao replied.
"Warship?" Great-Grandfather Fang's brows scrunched up and his smiling expression vanished. "Above or below?"
Above meant a space warship; below meant a battleship within the planet. The difficulty levels for serving on these two ships were very far apart. One was arduous and dangerous, the other relatively relaxed.
"Above," Fang Zhao said firmly.
Great-Grandfather Fang went blank. He had never expected Fang Zhao to actually make such a choice. "Why?"
"I just wish to."
This time, Great-Grandfather Fang knitted his eyebrows and was deep in thought for quite a while.
If Fang Zhao had chosen a military service program that was too easy, Great-Grandfather Fang had originally intended to recommend a military service program that he had spent months picking for Fang Zhao. The place was not considered too far away from Earth—the further away one was from the home planet, the harder the military service was—but it was also not so near as to draw the ire of cynics.
In terms of ranking, the most demanding military service vocations were on exploratory spaceships. The tasks were arduous and filled with uncertainty. The unknown was almost the scariest.
"Don't be impulsive," Great-Grandfather Fang reminded him. He thought that Fang Zhao had been swayed by public opinion.
"I'm not impulsive. I have been planning this since last year."
Fang Zhao's choice came as a surprise to Great-Grandfather Fang, yet he also felt gratified. Finally, there was a younger generation who took the initiative to select a spaceship for their military service.
"If I remember correctly, there are currently two explorer-class spaceships in active service: Acturus and Formalhaut. I heard that the original plan was for four spaceships to undergo exploratory missions, but at the end-of-year conference, it was decided that the pace of outer space explorations should be tightened and focus more on understanding the areas that have already been explored. The military funding saved would also be used for development and construction on known planets. However these policies might be changed at any time. You can check out their latest developments first. On the military service application homepage, you can choose to view the positions according to difficulty. The two most difficult positions are probably the vocations on spaceships, and there will be some introductions and explanations there."
That meant to say that when Fang Zhao was applying for military service, all he needed to do was select the most difficult applications.
Generally speaking, these difficult military positions could be voluntarily applied for, but every year, there were very little people who did so.
Great-Grandmother Fang shot a disapproving look at her husband. "Eat first! Little Zhao hasn't touched his food since he came!"
Great-Grandfather Fang returned a recalcitrant look. This old lady had clearly been even more anxious than him yesterday, but now that they had gotten their answer, she wanted to act like the good guy!
Fang Zhao's choice pleased the two elders, but at the same time, it worried them. The degree of difficulty and danger was higher than most. In their eyes, Fang Zhao was a talent in the entertainment scene, a man of art and literature. They were afraid that Fang Zhao was still an inexperienced and young man. After all, reality was different from a game, and people who were different from their in-game persona were commonly seen.
Fang Zhao wanted to leave at night but was stopped by the two elders.
"Just stay here and go back after you have sorted out your military service. We can give you counsel, and whatever reply you get, I am able to help you ask around," Great-Grandfather Fang said.
The sky was gradually getting dark and visitors to the retirement centire had slowed. Many elderly were sitting together and chatting about the younger generations in their own family.
Great-Grandfather Fang brought the dog out, looking especially pretentious.
"Hey, this dog looks familiar," a retired elder said.
"Isn't this the Muzhou championship-winning dog that trended in the news a while back?"
"It's that dog that is worth 100 million?"
Great-Grandfather Fang was pleased. "Yes, yes, yes, it's that dog! But your memories aren't so good. This dog isn't from Muzhou. It was brought over to Muzhou by my great-grandson to compete, and now he has brought it back. Come, Curly Hair, say hello to this bunch of old fellows."
Curly Hair showed due respect and barked, "Woof!"
Great-Grandfather Fang often bragged about Fang Zhao. Among his great-grandchildren, the most famous was Fang Zhao. Furthermore, Fang Zhao's exposure rate in the news had indeed been very high the past couple of weeks, so many people in the retirement center knew that Fang Zhao was Old Man Fang's great-grandson.
"Your great-grandson is here?"
"Why, Old Fang, are you trying to get some preferential treatment for your great-grandson?" someone joked.
"Tsk! Do I look like that sort of person?! He is voluntarily applying for his military service position. Tomorrow, when the application system opens, I will let him submit his application," said Great-Grandfather Fang with a righteous look on his face.
There were only a few positions that could be applied for voluntarily. These were the ones that the majority did not wish to get posted to.
A few old folks at the retirement center stared at Old Man Fang in astonishment. "Are you talking big? Can you bear to see your celebrity great-grandson head to that sort of places?"
"Who says I can't bear to? Youngsters can always use some training and build character. I don't hope that he fights for military accomplishments—after all, that's not the path he is taking. I'm just letting him head to the most arduous places to gain experience and improve himself. This way, he can go much farther in the future."
"...Hehe." The old folks at the retirement center who know Old Man Fang's temperament well only chuckled but did not say anything. If they really believed his words, the hundred-plus years they had lived would have been in vain!
But regardless of what anybody else thought, the next morning, Fang Zhao accessed the military service application system and followed Great-Grandfather Fang's suggestion, arranging the vocations from difficult to easy.
Just as Great-Grandfather Fang had said, the vocations of the highest difficulty were on the Arcturus and Formalhaut. Great-Grandfather Fang had recommended he apply to serve on the Arcturus. The spaceship Arcturus had been in active service for a longer time, and most of the crew onboard were experienced and would not panic when they came across situations.
Fang Zhao filled in his personal information and submitted the application.
As not many people applied for these military service programs with high difficulty, the audit was quick, and Fang Zhao received a reply in the afternoon:
On the next page, the reason: Background check failed. Not suitable for military service on a spaceship.
Fang Zhao stared at the three words "Background check failed" and could not understand why this reason had caused him to be rejected. His files had no criminal records and his life on the black street was unlikely to result in this. Many people had history in the black streets, and even some military officials also came from the black streets
Mulling it over for abit, Fang Zhao then submitted an application for the Formalhaut.
Early the next morning, Fang Zhao received a reply:
Reason: Background check failed. Not suitable for military service on a spaceship.
Fang Zhao: "..."