Fang Zhao did not understand too much about the classifications of these bugs. He only had the knowledge he'd obtained from previously discussing such matters with those scientists. Making a rough judgement was still fine, but determining its exact classification and type was out of the question. It was only when he'd seen the food on the plates that he was reminded about the assignment one of the scientist's had had, which was classifying the species on the planet, and thus he'd said that line. After speaking, he noticed Kevin Lin staring at him weirdly.
"What?" Fang Zhao asked.
Kevin Lin shook his head. He remembered they were still broadcasting live and time was limited. Due to having limited funds and resources on the base, the top brass had stipulated that the daily broadcast limit of at least five hours a day be cut down to at most one hour a day. Kevin Lin did not want to waste precious time on classifying insects.
Not slowing down, Kevin Lin forced on his most natural smile and spoke. "These are all organisms from plant Baiji. It is best to let an expert explain how to eat them.
Kevin Lin was different from Fang Zhao. Before he understood how to consume the food, he would not make a move, so as to avoid becoming a laughing stock. Thus, he would let someone demonstrate first to get an idea. If the method of consuming it was too offensive, he would not let the camera lens face himself.
The eyes of a youngster standing beside them lit up as a grin stretched across his face from ear to ear.
Every year, there were two batches of conscripts, one batch in April and the other in October. The previous April batch had already left before Fang Zhao and the current batch had arrived. As for the October batch, they would need to wait till October before returning. This youngster had already been on Baiji for half a year and was the leader of a small mining team. His name was Tan Ge, and he was 21 years old and had deferred his third year of university for his year of military service. He was quick-witted and performed decently. After numerous applications, base command had given the opportunity to appear on stream to him.
During military service, chances for conscripts to call home were not a lot. In places with better conditions, conscripts could contact family members once per week, but in worse conditions, it was probably once a month and there would be time constraints each time. Most of the time, it followed the government's guideline: one minute. That time was just to report that all was well, as there was no time to say anything else. It could not be helped, as they were poor.
But now, a chance was here. Planet Baiji was having a change in fortune!
As part of the experimental phase for Project Starlight, there would be real-time broadcasts every day. The extravagant costs were not being shouldered by Baiji planet's base, so people here could test their luck. Perhaps they could appear on-screen for a bit. As long as they had family members watching the broadcast, their families could catch them!
Given the chance to appear on-screen, Tan Ge was visibly excited. When he heard what Kevin Lin had said, he hurried over, cleared his throat, and took the spotlight. "These bugs are a species more commonly seen on Baiji. These are high in calories and are what we normally have the most of. Actually, if these things were cooked with care, they would surely taste good, but as you know, there is a limited amount of power that we can use in order to operate the base normally. Whatever ores we mine, besides for our own usage, there is a need to transport them to other planets. We also have insufficient manpower, so the dedication we can spend on food is not much..."
Fang Zhao looked up at Tan Ge speaking animatedly. This fellow had spoken a lot, but he had actually been emphasizing one point—the base was very poor!
Tan Ge was conveying the Baiji's base command's opinion, and this was totally different from what Kevin Lin had expected. Kevin Lin had expected base command to save some face and bring out a more presentable dinner. He had not foreseen base command choosing to use this "dirt poor" strategy.
Kevin Lin's line of thought was still stuck back on earth, but here, the environment was different, if there were leaders of similar posts here, their choices would also be different.
This was also the reason why, on the first day that Fang Zhao's party arrived, this sort of dinner was served.
Base command's reasoning was this: Since we are already poor, let even more people know that the conditions here are tough and poor. Earn more sympathy so that we can get even more benefits from the government, receive a larger share of military expenditures, and garner more donations from the common folk.
Tan Ge glanced at the neighboring table while speaking. Obtaining nods of approval from that side, his heart felt more steadfast knowing he had not spoken wrongly. Raising his spirits, he continued, "Generally we use the most energy-efficient method of disinfecting, and when processed in the sterilizing stove till it's medium rare, it is just enough to kill off hard-to-see parasites, bacteria, and viruses. By saving energy and disinfecting it properly, we don't have to worry about feeling unwell when eating." Given Baiji planet's poor conditions, quality was secondary; if the food did not kill you, it was good enough.
The group of newcomers that were listening attentively: "..." P-Parasites?
Online audiences: "..." We are already starting to feel unwell.
The "feeling unwell" that Tan Ge spoke about was when parasites, bacteria, or other harmful organisms made one fall ill, but the words he'd spoken produced a psychological bashing to online viewers. Sometimes, a psychological assault was even more unbearable than a physical one.
Tan Ge noticed Kevin Lin's rigid face as he spoke, and he snickered internally. One look and I can tell you have never experienced hardship! I wonder which comfortable environment these people completed their military service in. Everyone is indeed different!
As he gazed swept over to Fang Zhao's side, Tan Ge paused.
Tan Ge was not from Yanzhou, and he had already served for half a year. Although he used to play games, when he had enlisted, it was October, and he had begun training in the military district during September and had totally had no access to entertainment news. He did not understand anything to do with "Battle of the Century." Normally, when he called home, there was also not enough time, so he wouldn't ask about matters in the entertainment circles. It was only because of Project Starlight this time around, where the base introduced this small celebrity Fang Zhao, that they know that he was a rookie from the gaming circle.
Before they arrived, base command had exhorted repeatedly to look after the little celebrity's mood. The moment this little celebrity displayed any signs that he was unable to bear with it, they would use a more subdued approach to express themselves.
Tan Ge had originally thought that this little celebrity Fang Zhao would normally lead an extravagant lifestyle, and as it was his first time undergoing military service, he would definitely have a lot that he would find hard to get used to, but Tan Ge had not expect that this little celebrity would be even more calm than the specially assigned reporter Kevin Lin who had already completed his military service.
Fang Zhao listened to Tan Ge's explanation. From base command's point of view, he could understand their choice. This was not putting on an act, nor was it scaring newcomers. Just observing the reactions of the people who had already served for half a year was enough to know this was their normal lifestyle. These sorts of living conditions did not make Fang Zhao feel indisposed at all.
As for psychological impact? Absolutely not. Anybody who had survived the Period of Destruction would not be affected by these small matters.
Tan Ge's gaze only lingered on Fang Zhao for a moment before he looked elsewhere and continued speaking. He still remembered his task and purpose for today.
Tan Ge turned his head back to face the floating camera and smiled before proceeding to pick a bug from his plate. "It has many legs, which are really hard to bite through and there isn't much meat inside. However, we can use their legs as utensils, just like this..."
Being extremely busy normally, Tan Ge had no time to keep his fingernails tidy. In the base, regardless of whether or not one started off being bothered about cleanliness, after a while, everyone no longer bothered. Personal cleanliness? How could that insignificant notion exist in this sort of place?
However, since Tan Ge would appear on the live broadcast, he had specifically washed his hands a few times and was much cleaner than he normally was.
Fang Zhao watched Tan Ge's demonstration. He also noticed that only those newcomers to the base had forks. The majority of those that had been here for half a year did not have forks, and even if there were forks in front of them, those people did not use them.
The conditions on the base were not so bad that they could not bear to distribute forks. These people who had served for half a year did not seem discontented, and the reason forks were not used was because they were not required at all. Just like Tan Ge was demonstrating, the parts on their food could be disassembled and used as utensils.
On earth, there were also delicacies from foreign planets. Well-to-do families would also select some of these extraterrestrial foodstuffs at restaurants for a novel experience, but those foodstuffs were meticulously prepared and went through the skills of an excellent chef. When decorated nicely on a plate, it would naturally whet people's appetites and taste good. But now, what was in front of them was totally different, plus what Tan Ge had said beforehand...
Those watching the broadcast no longer had any appetites. Well-to-do families even felt that it would be a long time before they visited those restaurants that served extraterrestrial delicacies!
"The side glands contain poison, but they have all been removed. As long as the glands are cleanly removed, although it is might not be that appetizing, at least it settles our nutrition problem. However, if you eat anything outside the base that has not been treated, remember to rush back right away for detoxification and a vaccination shot, or else your life might be in danger."
As Tan Ge spoke, he was mindful of Kevin Lin and Fang Zhao's reactions. The specially dispatch reporter's face was twitching already, but the little celebrity seemed rather calm and was learning quite...
Tan Ge paused and watched. Fang Zhao's hands were following his motions to prepare the food and left him flabbergasted. Not only did this little celebrity adapt well, his practical skill was impressive too.
A few high-ranking officers of Baiji were in the command post, watching through the monitoring system and nodding their heads repeatedly.
The base's highest ranking officer, Shanta, was very satisfied with this little celebrity that had come to planet Baiji for his military service. Turning to his deputy, he said, "This fellow fits in really well! He doesn't some like he will give us any trouble."
The deputy approved as well. "Indeed."
As long as this little celebrity did not cause any problems, they were willing to use whatever base resources to support him as long as he appealed to fans to assist and support planet Baiji's cause and donate freely.
Over at Baiji, they were in urgent need of assistance! Another planet that had developed even later than Baiji had already begun preparations for a second base, as they had sufficient funding and manpower. At Baiji, maintaining one base was hard enough, and who knew how many months or years it would take for a second base on Baiji.
All they could do was pin their hopes on Fang Zhao.