Channel S5's comments section had exploded.
There was so much anticipation. Many people had stopped what they were doing and were waiting for Fang Zhao to pull the trigger. Online bystanders, gaming fans, reviewers, entertainment media outlets, and many other sorts of people with different purposes were all waiting. In the end, at the most crucial moment everyone was waiting for, they got a "Signal lost, attempting to reconnect"?!
During the black screen, vulgarities and abuse exploded from many people.
Others that had slower reactions were dazed for a while when facing the black screen. Following that, just like everyone else, they went to the comments sections and forums to vent their dissatisfaction.
"F*ck! Your father thought he had not paid his network fees and the signal was cut, but when I switched to other channels, everything was normal. Only channel S5 is black!!"
"Same over here. Only channel S5 has no signal, all others are normal."
"Seems like S5's live broadcast signal was cut. The problem does not lie with our internet."
"Wasn't it reported yesterday that Baiji's communications network has been upgraded? How could something like this still happen?"
In channel S5's comments section, comments that had a large proportion of unrefined language had been censored to "***." For voice comments, someone could select any of them and be able to hear a stream of censored "beeps."
As channel S5 belonged to Project Starlight's First Frontline segment, at the moment, they were under heavy fire. Customer service was totally unable to cope. Call after call of complaints came in succession.
"We request channel S5's live broadcast signal be reinstated! Right now! Immediately!"
"Don't come pretending to be poor to your father. Don't say that you don't have the funds to upgrade communications facilities! Was Baiji ore mined for nothing?! Was the ore eaten by you guys?!"
"Let me tell you this. You guys are all corrupt! Embezzlers! You better put back every single cent to be used for upgrading the communications facilities right now!"
A customer service staff wiped off the sweat on his forehead as he listened to a customer's complaints. In his heart, he was thinking, You can sue us, but it's no use; we aren't the ones in charge of constructing planet Baiji's facilities.
The segment's official platform had many messages full of grievances, catching them unprepared.
The face of the chief editor in charge of the five channels was red with anger. He asked the technician, "Have you discovered the reason?!"
"It is indeed the other side's live broadcast signal that has been cut, and we can't reconnect. We aren't able to contact Kevin Lin. Should we try contacting planet Baiji's base first?"
"Then do that!" The chief editor was furious. "How does Kevin Lin do his work! Can't he find a place with a stronger signal for his live broadcast?!"
If they were live broadcasting in the forest, so be it. Why had he had to pick a place with such an unstable signal? Furthermore, the signal just had to break at that sort of moment. Lots of people online had criticized them for using this method to purposely tease the audiences with the motive of attracting more viewers.
What a load of hogwash!
However, very quickly, the segment's chief editor heard even worse news.
"Boss, Baiji base cannot be contacted!"
"...How can that be! Didn't they just upgrade the communications network's receivers and transmitters?
At that moment, in the forest close to planet Baiji's Outpost 23.
After Yan Biao had indicated that Fang Zhao could pull the trigger, he waited for a few seconds, but Fang Zhao did not do anything. Just as he was about to say something, he saw Fang Zhao putting the gun down and looking up at the sky.
"What happened?" Yan Biao remembered that Fang Zhao's hearing was better than that of normal people. "What do you hear?"
"It doesn't feel good. Something is going to happen," Fang Zhao replied.
Yan Biao was skeptical. "You heard it?"
Fang Zhao looked straight at Yan Biao, "Intuition." There was no hint of a joke in his eyes.
Yan Biao stopped smiling and decided to contact someone in the outpost, but he realized that there was no connection.
"No signal?" Kevin Lin was also astonished. "Eh? There isn't any live broadcast signal either. Is the problem with the base or with the outpost?"
Yan Biao did not reply. He switched his comms device's mode to the outpost's internal network. This time, it connected.
"Outpost, are there any anomalies?"
"Nope, everything is normal," replied the outpost soldier in charge of alerts at the moment. "However, we are unable to get in touch with the base."
"Are we able to contact the other outpost?" Yan Biao asked.
"Unable to do that either. Only Outpost 23's internal network is working."
"Then it's probably an issue with the base mainframe." Yan Biao pondered for a bit, then instructed the people in the outpost. "Be alert. Look out for any suspicious things in the surroundings. Set the defense system to the highest level, and keep it running. I will be back within 30 minutes."
After ending the communication, Yan Biao told Kevin Lin and Fang Zhao, "Let's head back to the outpost first."
Kevin Lin was eager to head back immediately. "Okay, okay! Let's return!" He did not feel safe in the forest. Although he was not too sure what had happened, he could feel the tense atmosphere of their surroundings and read the expressions of the others. Whether they were being overly sensitive or not, returning to the outpost to hide would always be safer.
When leaving the outpost, they had not been rushing for time, so they had walked slower, but now that there were special circumstances, Yan Biao wished to hurry back. The outpost soldiers were no issue, and Fang Zhao was not a problem, but Kevin Lin was not in good shape.
Yan Biao glanced at Kevin Lin, who was panting heavily after just a short while, and got the fittest soldier in his team, Riode, to carry Kevin Lin on his shoulder and run.
Leaving, they had taken over an hour. Their return journey only took 20 minutes.
After entering the outpost, Yan Biao immediately rushed to the monitor room and checked whether there were any other unusual situations.
Fang Zhao supported Kevin Lin into their room. Kevin Lin's complexion looked poor; getting carried by someone running was not exactly pleasant.
Once he sat down, Kevin Lin started to think. "Fang Zhao, what do you think happened? A malfunction with the transmitters and receivers at the base? Or is it an attack?" With his profession, he tended to think about the worst that could happen.
"Definitely nothing good," Fang Zhao replied.
Kevin Lin looked toward Fang Zhao, astonished. "To actually hear you say such words is really rare. Why are you so sure? Did you really hear something?"
"Intuition." Fang Zhao did not want to say any more. He had no way of knowing the situation over at the base, so he sat on his bed and pondered silently. His eyebrows furrowed tighter. The uneasy feeling was getting stronger.
Fang Zhao caught a gleam of light from the corner of his eyes.
It had not been fed, yet the normally sluggish "rabbit" in the water tank had actually started glowing at this moment. Its movements inside the water had also become more intense.
Fang Zhao turn on the comms device, switched to the outpost's internal mode, and contacted Yan Biao.
Yan Biao's voice sounded tense. "What's wrong?" As if he had already sensed something and was not as carefree as he normally was.
"Something is coming, probably from the air. It's not safe here," Fang Zhao said.
Yan Biao did not make a sound, probably deciding whether to listen to Fang Zhao's recommendation.
He did not let Fang Zhao wait long. After five seconds, Yan Biao said, "I will have someone bring you to the underground shelter. You will be safe from air raids there."
Very quickly, a few outpost soldiers brought Fang Zhao and Kevin Lin to the underground shelter. In a short while, Fan Lin and those scientists were also led down.
One of the outpost soldiers pointed to a floor plan on the wall. The floor plan showed all the details of the entire shelter. "If the shelter isn't going to hold, head out through that side's emergency exit."
As the oldest here, Fan Lin displayed an image of calm. He had to be calm. "Understood. You all have to stay safe too."
After the outpost team left, the underground shelter quieted down and the atmosphere became somewhat stifling.
To ease everyone's nervous mood, Fan Lin laughed and asked Fang Zhao, "Why did you bring it down as well?"
When Fang Zhao came down, he had brought along the water tank. At the moment, the little chap in the water tank was glowing.
"It seems to be in an... excited mood?"
"No, it could be that it is afraid. It probably sensed danger." When Fan Lin said this sentence, the mood in the underground shelter became even more stifling.
"This place is too old. I wonder how strong it is," Kevin Lin worriedly said as he eyed the surroundings.
The outpost's defense system and communication facilities had been upgraded, but its underground facilities had not. It looked really old, simple, and crude.
Fang Zhao suddenly exclaimed, "Everyone, be careful!"
The entire underground shelter shook.
"What is going on—"
Kevin Lin had not finished speaking when another loud boom rang out, and the underground shelter started swaying. Those that had not been standing firmly were nearly thrown to the ground.
Fragments of the ceiling came loose and fell, and a few items placed on the table also tumbled down.
Fan Lin reassured the others. "The outpost has been attacked. However those two explosions were not direct hits. The outpost probably intercepted it in the air. Don't be so pessimistic, everyone, the outpost's defence system has been upgraded—"
Fan Lin had only spoken halfway when an intense explosion sounded. It was as if the entire outpost had been shoved into a box and violently shaken. The few scientists that had been standing or sitting were all thrown to the ground. If not for Fang Zhao supporting him, Fan Lin would also have fallen.
Kevin Lin fell flat on the ground, and blood starting flowing from his nose. If Fang Zhao had not pulled him back a step, he would have been smashed on the head by falling bits of the ceiling.
The lights in the shelter flickered for two seconds and then extinguished. Light from the water tank's "rabbit" lit up the room.
Fang Zhao scanned the place. "How is everyone?"
"Someone's hurt, but it shouldn't be life-threatening," a scientist replied.
Fang Zhao eyed the floor plan on the wall and headed to the corner where a toppled cabinet was. He pried open the cabinet and took out the first aid kit inside. "Medical supplies are limited. Let's treat those that are injured first. The ones with more serious injuries take priority."
"Fang Zhao, what category... does mine belong to?" a bloodied-faced Kevin Lin asked.
Fang Zhao glanced over. "Minor injury, wait for now."
After Kevin Lin's nervous mood passed, his occupational habit kicked in and he turned on his camera. Although it could not connect to the network for live broadcasts, it was still able to film.
Kevin Lin switched to film mode and first filmed one round of the surroundings. Following that, he directed it to face himself. Raising a hand to wipe away the blood from his nose, he said, "Greetings everyone, it is your old friend Kevin Lin. My work ID number is LKW7986, from Huangzhou. Now, I am currently hiding in the underground shelter of planet Baiji's Outpost 23. The outpost is under attack. We have no idea what the situation is like above us..."
After facing the camera and saying a bit, Kevin Lin set the video he had just recorded to auto-transmit. The moment network was restored, it would automatically be transmitted to the news team.
"Fang Zhao, do you want to record one?" Kevin Lin asked.
Fang Zhao: "..."