After the Baiji military district was established, various collaborative partners started entering the planet. Large-scale projects were smoothly launched in succession. There were people, equipment, power supplies, technical talents, and armed forces. Planet Baiji was changing every day.
At the core of Baiji base were the large shining words: "If you lag behind, you will come under attack!"
These words had been personally inscribed by Shanta with the aim of reminding everyone in the Baiji military district of the recent terrorist attack.
When the terrorists had been formulating a plan, why had they picked Baiji instead of some other planet?
Because when the terrorists had been picking a target, grade A power ore had not yet been discovered on Baiji and they had still been placed far back in the development sequence. Back then, Baiji had been a poor and barren place, and even their detector probes had all been outdated.
In simple words, the enemy's line of thought had been this: Because you are weak, we shall attack you!
What could be done to not be bullied?
To strike back better, planet Baiji needed to become stronger! Even if the planet suffered terrorist attacks once more, they would not be caught in the predicament of a one-hour communications blackout anymore! Their outposts would not be bombarded so badly, and they would not be oblivious to when the enemies entered the planet!
Should they encounter future terrorist attacks, Shanta hoped that the enemies would all be blasted to shreds even before they entered the atmosphere!
After the general assembly mobilization meeting, Shanta would gather the high-level officers for a meeting from time to time. This was to understand the progress of the developments and to solve problems.
First, Shanta listened attentively to the various reports. His face was solemn and he put on the dignified air of Baiji military district's highest-ranked commander. Only his brows and eyes would flicker from time to time, showing that he was satisfied and pleased.
After the important matters were discussed, Shanta raised the topic of the auction.
"The auction will be in another 15 days time. Has everyone prepared their items? From the charts, only three or four have submitted? We have to pay attention to it!"
When this topic was raised, Shanta remembered Fang Zhao. Fang Zhao had yet to report on the item he would be submitting for the auction, and Shanta had no idea what the little fellow would put forth.
At the same time, in the woods on the outskirts of Outpost 23.
A squad of troops was pushing forward in the woods.
For the expansion of the outpost, the surroundings needed to be surveyed. A few specialists had been dispatched from the military district to survey and plan. Every day, people from the outpost would operate a flying transport and make a few rounds in the air to protect them, as they needed to enter the woods to take samples.
Fan Lin had wanted to go into the woods and have a look too. He wished to do a study on the species in this area and take some samples for research. He wanted to do it personally, as he did not feel comfortable leaving too many tasks in the hands of others.
Yan Biao and the other wounded had already been sent back to Earth, where they would undergo medical treatment at a designated military district hospital and receive prosthetics and rehabilitation. Bie Liao and 10 others had represented Outpost 23 to see Yan Biao off.
Bie Liao and the others had wanted to cheer Yan Biao up, but they had never expected to see Yan Biao in rather high spirits. He hadn't been depressed at all, and there had been no visible scars on him. His mood had been what it had seemed, so much so that the others had not needed to cheer him up.
However, Yan Biao had not mentioned the reason for his change and had only exhorted again and again that they perform well. Especially the new outpost team leader, Bie Liao, who had been pulled aside and talked to for 10 minutes. At the end, Yan Biao had specifically emphasized making sure to take care of Fang Zhao.
Even if Yan Biao had not said anything, Bie Liao and the others would still have done so. However, in the few days after that, Bie Liao realized that Fang Zhao did not really need any looking after. As long as the outpost team coordinated well, there would be no troubles. On the contrary, Kevin Lin was the troublesome one.
Kevin Lin expressed an extreme interest when he knew about the assignment to survey the woods, but as he had the fighting strength of a weak chicken, he lagged behind when he followed them in. After all, the outpost team needed to protect the priorities: the surveying specialists, Prof. Fan, and the scientists. Now the outpost team would need to spend extra effort to protect Kevin Lin, and with every added person that tagged along, the safety level of the entire team decreased.
Kevin Lin spent a whole night carefully considering and felt that the distance between his imagination and reality was too great, so he decided to undergo a second round of military training. In the meantime, he would let Fang Zhao bring along the camera to record as he followed the team. After Fang Zhao returned to the outpost, Kevin Lin would edit the footage before sending it to the program column.
Kevin Lin did not have the ability to protect himself, but Fang Zhao's ability was clear for everyone to see. Moreover, Fang Zhao had three bodyguards with him.
When Bie Liao had first seen the major and two captains, his eyeballs had nearly popped out of their sockets. Now that he had assumed the role as outpost team leader, his rank had risen to captain, which was the same rank that Yan Biao had had when he was in charge. But when Bie Liao saw the major and two captains, he felt really awkward. The pressure of being the outpost team leader was considerable. Fortunately, those three had only been tasked with protecting Fang Zhao and would not interfere in matters of the outpost team. Bie Liao would still remain the authority figure here.
Over the past few days, interactions had been pretty good. When Bie Liao chatted with them, he no longer felt the initial awkwardness. Instead, he now pitied those three. Not because their talents were being wasted in an insignificant position but rather...
Bie Liao eyed Fang Zhao, who was controlling the camera and filming Fan Lin, and he gave a silent laugh.
As the survey team moved through the woods, Fan Lin would stop from time to time to take a look at certain plants and instruct a scientist to collect samples.
Fan Lin knew how to use simple words to get his message across and get the audiences excited. In between, he would inadvertently advertise his own company's seeds and divulge some information on the hybrid crops he had created with half-extraterrestrial genes. Audiences really loved this style, and when it was aired after Kevin Lin's editing, the segments received good reviews.
Fang Zhao held a gun in one hand, his other hand controlling the camera that was floating in midair, but he did not lower his guard.
As he filmed, Fang Zhao's felt a nip in the air. His acute senses had detected something watching them, seemingly like a snake that had its eyes on its prey.
The air was warm and humid. There was a river somewhere off in the distance, but for safety reasons, they had maintained a distance from it.
A black shadow rushed out from the muddy bog over 10 meters away.
Almost at the same instant the black shadow leapt out from the bog, a number of bullets buried themselves in it
The beast that had just leapt out from the mud fell to the ground, twitching twice before all movement ceased.
A fishy smell drifted over but was quickly carried away by the wind.
After the momentary silence, Bie Liao got some men to drag the beast over.
"This thing, it is a little frightening," Bie Liao said as he inspected the corpse of the beast, which was close to a meter long.
The skin of the beast had luster to it similar to steel, but it was not real steel and it was unable to stop bullets. The bullets had torn straight through it.
Fang Zhao did not know much about the species in this place and had not known if a single bullet was enough to settle the danger. Thus, he had shot a few more times. Nowadays, he had sufficient ammo, and guaranteeing everyone's safety took priority.
Bie Liao had said it was frightening because this seemingly flat beast opened its mouth sideways. Inside, it was full of sharp teeth in a disc, and the whole thing looked like a sawmill blade and had an extremely strong cutting power.
"Its teeth seem similar to the helicoprion shark that were in ancient archaeology reports found back home. However, this one has a horizontal mouth opening and limb-like fins. It probably spends most of its time in the water, lying in ambush in bogs or the river bank to hunt unsuspecting prey," one of the scientists said.
Once bitten by these sort of teeth, a whole chunk of flesh would be sliced off. If the beast was slightly larger, a person bitten by it might be sawed in half.
Although the attire they wore provided some protection, who knew what sort of injuries one would suffer should they get cut by these electric saw-like teeth.
Bie Liao was puzzled. "It was so close to us. Why were we unable to discover it just now?"
They now had newly issued equipment. Goggles on their helmets displayed nearby life-forms. Generally speaking, even if it was hiding itself in the mud, it should still have been detected.
"It's probably due to the skin," Fan Lin said rather excitably. "Its skin is rather interesting. Bring it back to the base and let the crew study it. Perhaps equipment can be improved according to the principle behind it."
Although this beast they had just encountered was very dangerous, a new discovery of course got the outpost team excited. If it was as Fan Lin said, their outpost had done a meritorious service.
"Its teeth are broken." Bie Liao pointed at a portion of broken teeth in the beast's mouth. They had been hit by bullets.
Fang Zhao picked up a single broken tooth. It was flat and triangular. Around one-tenth the size of a human palm, it had a white porcelain sheen to it.
"Fang Zhao, what are you picking it up for? Spoils of war?" Bie Liao asked when he noticed that Fang Zhao did not toss the broken tooth aside.
"It's a suitable item to be auctioned."
Bie Liao was curious. "Are you going it submit it just like that?"
"No, I will engrave something on it." Fang Zhao wiped away the bloodstains and placed the tooth into his pocket.
While Fang Zhao and Bie Liao were conversing, the three people assigned to Fang Zhao did not utter a single word. The three of them glanced at each other and could only hang their heads and give a bitter laugh.
How many times had it been?
It was commonly said that the third time was the charm, but they had already experienced this sort of situation three times today!
Ever since they had been assigned to Fang Zhao's side, over the past few days, similar situations had happened every day.
When they had first entered the woods and encountered a native beast attack for the first time, the three had only just shouted "be careful" and had not yet drawn their guns when the beast had been disposed of by Fang Zhao.
The second time, they had not even managed to say anything before the situation had been settled.
The third time, it had been settled before they had even felt the danger.
All the way to the recent incident, time and time again, Fang Zhao had gotten rid of the danger before they had even been able to act.
From shock it had turned to curiosity before they had gotten used to it. Countless times in their hearts, they asked the same question: Who is the new soldier and who are the veterans? Who exactly is protecting whom?
Fang Zhou was not intentionally provoking them. This was not a matter of killstealing. A step slower and someone might get hurt or lose their lives. This was entirely an unconscious reaction and reflex shooting by Fang Zhao.
But the three of them did not know this and thought that Fang Zhao was just proving his strength to them.
In the days that followed, the three of them could feel sympathetic gazes from members of the outpost team.
What could they do?
They were also despairing!
The person they were supposed to protect was so much stronger than them. These few days, there had simply been no chances for them to do anything.
The three felt like they were pieces of trash.