Planet Baiji's many outposts that were scattered across the planet formed an extensive monitoring system, capable of observing the entire planet's situation.
Although it was not perfect yet, once planet Baiji's position in the development sequence changed, Shanta would surely upgrade this monitoring system, perhaps by increasing the number of outposts or strengthening the construction of some outposts.
Yesterday, Fang Zhao had also heard that planet Baiji would start constructing a secondary base. In the past, they had been poor and did not have the means to construct one. Now, Shanta no longer needed to worry. The secondary base would definitely be on the agenda.
Among all these outposts, there were some that were used purely as sentries and nothing else, but there were also some outposts that incorporated research projects and experimental areas due to the geography and environment of their area. Outpost 23 was one such example. According to Fan Lin, there was an experimental plot, but this experimental plot was not known to the public. Therefore, other than Baiji's base personnel, the general public had absolutely no idea that these experimental plots existed.
Kevin Lin also knew that all this had been considered highly classified in the past. This time, the stuff in the experimental had borne results. According to Fan Lin, they were preparing to publicly announce it. Kevin Lin could count himself lucky for getting the chance to receive the news first.
However, filming was slightly restricted at Outpost 23. Even en route to Outpost 23, Kevin Lin could only film a few scenes, and he stopped when they got close to Outpost 23. The outpost's deployed site also could not be publicized. Having been here for a few days, he knew what he could and could not broadcast. Even if he secretly filmed and sent it to his editor to compile, it could not be released. Live broadcasting? If he were to broadcast anything that should not be broadcast, his professional career would come to an end and he would be thrown in jail.
Fang Zhao looked at Outpost 23 from the flying transport. In the past, Outpost 23 had probably been a thick jungle, but the area had been cleared to set up the outpost and the surroundings were all plots of land and defensive constructs.
As a whole, Outpost 23 looked a miniature base. It was surrounded by tall fences and a defensive network at the top, separating the base from the dangers outside.
From the air, plots of land that were fenced in could clearly be seen. En route, although Fan Lin had talked about the experimental plot, Fang Zhao had assumed it was just a single small plot. After all, it was only an outpost, not a base. But from what he saw, Fan Lin had been modest.
Noticing Fang Zhao and Kevin Lin looking at the experimental plots below, a proud smile appeared on Fan Lin's face. He explained to them, "These experimental plots were created by clearing and cultivating the area in the last 30 years. The military expenses used for this were around a few hundred million."
Hearing this, they were speechless.
From what Kevin Lin knew, a few hundred million was already an extremely big investment. That much in the last 30 years meant that tens of millions had been invested every year. Given that planet Baiji used to be at the tail end of the development sequence, it was indeed a huge investment that was hard to come by. No wonder Baiji base personnel treated Fan Lin so well. Given that he had his own specialized team and flying transport, one look and they could tell it was not the first time.
But could there be any returns from throwing such large amounts of money here? Kevin Lin was doubtful.
On the contrary, Fan Lin was not at all worried about this. He had thrown all the research funding here and even coughed up quite a bit from his own pocket. Baiji base had only provided manpower, not money. He had also given the soldiers at the outpost who helped keep watch on the experimental plots some extra allowance. Of course, he was doing what he should. The outpost's soldiers were happy to earn some extra income, and this was all approved.
But as long as his items successfully hit the market, within three years, the investments could be recouped.
The flying transport arrived at Outpost 23 and began descending to the parking space.
When the cabin doors opened, Fang Zhao noticed a few people clad in full combat attire running over.
The leading person of the group got on the flying transport and enthusiastically instructed the other outpost soldiers to help shift the things. "Prof. Fan, you have arrived! This time around, lots of things have been brought over. Seems like you will be in for a long stay on planet Baiji this time." His eyes quickly scanned Fang Zhao and Kevin Lin.
"Not going out hunting today, Small Yan?" Fan Lin jested.
"Cough, according to what you said, we have stringent restrictions for when to head out hunting. Instructions from above say that we aren't allowed to hunt wantonly. Above three times and it is considered poaching. Also, we have a limit each time we hunt. Today we will just drink our nutritional dose."
Yan Biao felt a little gloomy. Why did professor Fan always pay attention to their hunts? Could it be he that he wanted to catch their shortcomings? Only once had they accidentally stepped on a few experimental sprouts, and he remembered it even now. Back then, it had been a younger scientist stationed here. In the end, that scientist had turned around and complained to Fan Lin who deducted some of their allowance. However, because Fan Lin's experimental program had brought about some benefits to their outpost, they had not bickered over it.
Fan Lin did not care about what Yan Biao was thinking. He introduced Yan Biao to Fang Zhao. "Small Fang, this is the outpost team leader, Captain Yan Biao. Small Yan, this is Fang Zhao, Project Starlight's representative and the one who discovered Baiji ore."
The words had just left Fan Lin's mouth when all the other outpost team members who had come on board stopped what they were doing and looked toward Fang Zhao, as if they were taking the measure of a rare creature.
Over at the outpost, their information was somewhat restricted. Other than orders from base, they were not able to hear any sounds from outside, let alone the situation online. Even when it came to Project Starlight, they only knew a little from the reports sent by their superiors. Every day, they could only view military news sent over by the base. They knew little about entertainment news and could only hear such things through word of mouth from the scientists here. However, a large portion of scientists did not pay attention to the entertainment circle. Even if a few certain popular stars stood in front of them, they would not recognize said stars.
Actually, Project Starlight did not affect the outpost's people much. Everyone knew that conscripts would surely be deployed at the base. Here, they just had to go about their daily routine. However, all this had changed with the discovery of Baiji ore.
Equipment at the outpost had been upgraded when the new batch of troops had arrived. Allocated supplies had also increased, and living conditions had improved a notch. How could they not know who this Fang Zhao person was?
Yan Biao became even more passionate and much more cordial than he treated Fan Lin. "Haha, it's an honor!"
"Hi, sorry bother you," Fang Zhao replied.
"No, no, you aren't a bother at all! Come to the outpost and take a rest first. Dezi, make some of... what's that fruit tea!?"
Although he viewed Fang Zhao even more highly, Yan Biao also did not forget about Fan Lin. "Prof. Fan, you head inside for a rest first as well. I will help you move all the stuff to the laboratory."
Fan Lin only shook his head, but he was not angry. "All right, you guys continue moving the stuff. Be careful not to knock it over. I will take a look at the laboratory first."
"Heh! Just relax!" Yan Biao cheerfully directed his underlings to move the stuff.
Kevin Lin drew close beside Fang Zhao and mumbled, "Do the people at the outpost seem a little different?"
Fang Zhao looked at the members of the outpost team and replied, "They seem fine."
Kevin Lin thought to himself: Fine, my *ss. Comparing them, the soldiers of the base were more proper. But thinking about it more, it made sense. Normally, there was no one managing the outpost. Here, Yan Biao was the highest ranked. From his boot-licking manner, it was obvious he wasn't a good person.
However, Kevin Lin kept all these thoughts to himself. He would not say anything. Speaking out would bring down his own moral character. He was only a reporter. If he had any opinions, he needed to bring out the facts first. Without any truth or evidence, he could only think it.
As they walked by the experimental plots, Kevin Lin glanced over at the side. "Prof. Fan, where do you grow the 'arrow sunflowers' that are about to hit the market? The two plots closest to the edge?" Besides the two plots closest to the edge that were filled with flowers of diverse colors, the other eight plots were all empty.
"Nope, it's the opposite actually. Rather than those two plots, the other eight are the ones," Fan Lin replied.
Kevin Lin looked at the experimental plots, then turned back in disbelief. "Didn't you say that they have already been planted for two months and you are just waiting for them to germinate? Those plots have nothing."
"That's right. Nothing on top doesn't mean that it hasn't developed below ground. Now we are just waiting for it to sprout. According to our underground monitor's figures, they should start sprouting tomorrow morning. Otherwise, I would not have brought you here," Fan Lin replied.
Kevin Lin stopped in his tracks. "What does that mean? Are we to stay here till tomorrow?"
Fan Lin had "How can you be so slow to realize that?" written all over his face. "That's right."
"You didn't say we would be spending the night here!"
"You did not ask either."
Kevin Lin: "..." This professor was even better at being a scoundrel than himself.
Fan Lin did not have plans to explain a great deal to Kevin Lin, and he took large strides toward the laboratory. Inside, there were other seeds that were being cultivated in culture media.
Fan Lin reacted as though he was meeting them after a long period of separation. "Heya, my little sproutlings~." His pitched became higher at the end of his sentence.
Kevin Lin rubbed away the goose pimples on his arms, inclined his head, and said to Fang Zhao, "Is there something wrong with this guy? A 100-plus-year-old person, yet his pitch sounds like a kid's, and even 'my little sproutlings'..."
However, Fan Lin's students were apparently used to Fan Lin's kiddish style and calmly installed equipment in the laboratory and gave reports on the figures.
Kevin Lin fell silent. What was up with this bunch of people? Weren't they prim and proper at the base? Could it be because they were not on their home planet and were far away from the base and without any supervision that the soldiers did not seem like soldiers and the professor did not seem like a professor?
Fang Zhao looked around the inside of the laboratory and then at Fan Lin, who was speaking to the small sprouts in the culture media. Laughing, he told Kevin Lin, "He might be old, but he is young at heart."
It sounded like Fang Zhao rather admired Fan Lin. It seemed like the 100-plus-year-old Fan Lin acted even younger than a 20-plus-year-old person.
As for Fan Lin duping them into staying overnight at the outpost, Fang Zhao had actually guessed it already. Looking at the water tank he was holding and noticing the "rabbit" starting to glow, Fang Zhao threw in another piece of food.
"Fang Zhao, you two, come over quick! Look, isn't this adorable?!" Fan Lin waved them over and impatiently picked up a small vial. Inside the culture medium was a green sprout with two leaves about a finger tall.
Kevin Lin: "...Hehe." I don't understand the tastes of your botanists.
Fan Lin carefully placed the vial back into the cultivation case, then turned to faced Fang Zhao and Kevin Lin. "Do you know when a plant is the most beautiful?"
"When it is most beautiful? Naturally, that is when it blooms," Kevin Lin replied.
Fan Lin laughed amiably, secretly feeling pleased at knowing the answer to this question. He had already prepared a bowl of "chicken soup" for the soul and loved to give youngsters this dose of "chicken soup."
Fan Lin glanced at Fang Zhao. "What about you, Small Fang?"
"When it germinates," Fang Zhao replied.
Fan Lin: "..."
This bowl of chicken soup for the soul could not be used any longer.