After Fang Zhao's animal tooth sold for the astronomical price of 300 million, Kevin Lin sent out this status update: Ha! Ha! Ha!
When he had posted the picture of the tooth a few days ago, some folks had commented that cr*p like that would never fetch a high price. Now Kevin Lin felt totally vindicated, even though he had only posted three words.
Facts were the best revenge.
Browsing the headlines again, Kevin Lin noticed that news of Fang Zhao's engraved animal tooth fetching a jaw-dropping price was all over the place. Regardless of what people's motivations were in posting the news item, Fang Zhao was the beneficiary of a new round of hype.
"This fella Fang Zhao is scary."
That was what many members of the entertainment industry thought.
When Fang Zhao had made a name for himself as a composer in Yanzhou, many folks hadn't taken it seriously. For one, Fang Zhao had been too young. He had still enjoyed limited status and influence. Secondly, composers worked behind the scenes. They were hard to promote and thus didn't pose a big threat.
Lo and behold, Fang Zhao had soon taken over gaming headlines, even earning the "god" moniker from gamers when the few clips showcasing his gaming prowess had emerged.
Not to mention that Fang Zhao had been backed by a huge corporation in Silver Wing Media, e-sports was itself a big industry. Folks had suspected the rise of a new gaming superstar, so many people had started feeling wary of Fang Zhao, be they entertainment conglomerates or gaming clubs. Everyone had brought their A game.
Yet while his enemies had geared up for battle, Fang Zhao had thrown a curveball by announcing he would be performing his military service, blowing so many minds in the process.
Many folks had secretly mocked Fang Zhao for being an idiot. Performing military service at the peak of your popularity? What, you're worried you're too famous?
But many entertainment companies in Yanzhou had breathed a sigh of release when they had heard the news. Great, military service it is, then. Get out of sight. We won't have to deal with him for a year.
Just as everyone had been kicking back, lo and behold, Project Starlight had launched, and in an amazing stroke of luck, Fang Zhao had been included, the reason being that the military wanted to encourage celebrities to serve in tough locations. Fang Zhao's actions were being lauded.
The folks who had just started to relax had been dumbfounded.
If you could broadcast live from your service location, fewer celebrities would become draft dodgers. What a great chance to boost your popularity, and now it had been stolen by Fang Zhao.
If only they had known that Project Starlight had been in the pipeline, every entertainment company would have forced their celebrities to perform their military service—the tougher the service location the better.
But of course, hindsight is 20/20.
So be it, let Fang Zhao have his live broadcasts. After all, Fang Zhao had the fewest advantages out of the five celebrities picked for the first stage of Project Starlight. He was also boring and had no idea how to entertain audiences. There was no way he was going to be a hit. Entertainment industry executives felt they could rest easy again.
But it had only been a brief respite. The day Fang Zhao had started his military service on Baiji, he had made a major discovery.
The discovery of a grade A power ore had had global repercussions. Fang Zhao's "Diting" reputation had thus been born. Word had it that Fiery Bird had already signed an endorsement deal with him a year in advance to tout their new headset design for next year. So many folks were dying of envy.
The Baiji ore had been the lead story for local and internet TV stations and had inundated personal news feeds. As the discoverer of the power ore, Fang Zhao had naturally seen his profile rise as well.
Under those circumstances, even a smear campaign wouldn't have gotten anywhere. Fang Zhao's enemies could only wait for the hype to die down.
Finally, the hype had receded and the focus had shifted to development plans for Baiji and not Fang Zhao the individual. Lo and behold, a terrorist attack had shifted global attention back to channel S5.
At some point, some folks had hoped that Fang Zhao had been killed in the terrorist attack. Fang Zhao's competitors within the entertainment industry couldn't stand the sight of this "freak" who defied convention and yet managed to grab headlines anyway. Lo and behold, the freak had survived, earned a service merit, and been promoted. Local governments had even started promoting him as a model soldier.
The twist and turns of Fang Zhao's fortunes were so unbelievable that some folks wanted to write a screenplay out of it.
And now his auction item valued at 30 to 50 million had been sold for 300 million.
Fang Zhao's fellow celebrities who viewed him as a formidable opponent were refusing to watch the news. They ignored the headlines popping up on their phones. Those headlines were bound to be about Fang Zhao again.
Main hospital of the Yanzhou military district.
After being shipped back to Earth, Yan Biao had been fitted for prosthetics here and put through rehab.
His prosthetics had been attached. He went for training walks at this time of day every day, but he had skipped his session today to watch the auction online.
"Who would have thought that something donated by a two-bit celebrity would fetch such a high price," a nurse delivering medicine to Yan Biao marveled as she checked out the auction footage.
The nurses at the hospital were used to seeing senior military officials. Generals were a dime a dozen, so for them, Fang Zhao only qualified as a minor celebrity.
Yan Biao tried hard to suppress his smile. He was dying to tell people this was his future boss.
As an employee, his fortunes were naturally tied to those of his boss. Seeing Fang Zhao's item fetch such a handsome price gave Yan Biao extra motivation to tackle rehab.
In Leizhou, Zaro was moping around. He felt he had lost face—big time. As a scion of Leizhou's most powerful family and an internet sensation, he had never seen any competition when it came to auction bidding.
Suffering such a major setback when always used to getting his way—Zaro hadn't felt this stifled in a long time.
"P*ssed!" Zaro was vocal about his feelings. He scanned the room, glancing at several of his assistants before fixing his gaze on his agent.
The agent played dumb, secretly cursing his client. You sit there on your fat ass and don't have to worry about a thing. All you have to do is click to increase your bid. Sure, it makes you feel good, but you have to think about the overall interests of our company too. What, you think money grows on trees? Why can't you be like your peers in the Renault family? All of them are standouts. I'd be accomplishing big things if I were working for any of them, but such is my luck that I have to be assigned to Zaro. Why must my life suck? I can never stop worrying.
"Our profits are slim. We're short of cash," the agent responded emotionlessly.
Zaro was in no mood for dissent. "Try another excuse."
"The new 100-episode TV series that just aired—we suffered a significant loss," the agent said coldly.
This time, Zaro went silent and felt awkward. "It was just 20, 30 million."
"Ninety million," his agent corrected.
In the new TV series they had invested in, the female lead was Senior Master Zaro's new girlfriend yet again. The plot was bizarre and didn't make sense at all. The acting was OK, but it was completely outweighed by the crappy story, and they had made 100 f*cking episodes. Lord knows where Zaro had gotten the idea that the more bizarre the story, the more popular the TV series. He had insisted on greenlighting the series, and now look how "popular" it was.
I f*cking fell for your bullsh*t. We're losing our shirts here!
Every episode was a major production. If the show had only lasted 10 or 20 episodes, maybe they could have broken even on account of Zaro's internet popularity, but Zaro had insisted on dragging out a story that could have been told in 10 episodes over 100 episodes. Boy did that series tank.
This was the result of Zaro's stubborn streak.
Zaro didn't deny the failure of the TV series.
"What do you think we should buy?" Zaro was a pragmatist, after all. He had missed out on the first lot and his manager had just pointed out a recent flop. There was no point in continuing to argue.
"The first lot got so expensive, the items that follow won't be cheap either. Given our budget, I'd say all we can bid for is Fan Lin's seeds," Zaro's agent said. Investing in Fan Lin was better than investing in Fang Zhao.
Zaro was re-energized.
"Let's do it. Let's bid for some watermelon seeds. I want 'em watermelon seeds!"
Zaro's agent automatically filtered the expletive coming out of his mouth before speaking. "Then it's decided."
The auction continued. As expected, the bids went even higher. Just some 10 seconds after the second lot went up for bidding, the bids had exceeded 300 million.
Fang Zhao's animal tooth was followed by some power ore and a machine part donated by two noted engineers. They fetched 450 million and 500 million respectively. Fan Lin's seeds were next.
This time, Zaro got his fix. He placed a successful bid of 1 billion for Fan Lin's seeds, beating out the major farm owners from Muzhou.
As the countdown clock wound down and the screen flashed "sold," Zaro was instantly in a better place.
Zaro's agent stayed silent during the auction. The offer was higher than he had expected. He had other considerations as well. It was impossible to buy land on Baiji now, but thinking outside the box, he could rent Fan Lin's experimental plot. If Fan Lin's experiments were going well, they should be winding down. It was hard to say if he would keep planting. They could leverage their successful bid for the seeds into early negotiations with Fan Lin about leasing his plots. If they could take over the plots right away, that would be even better. The plots were quite big.
He had gotten a glimpse of Baiji's development plan through connections. Outpost 23 was a priority area for development. It was a good location. That was also why he hadn't stopped Zaro from upping his bid.
The people who placed bids each had their own considerations. Some probably felt they were getting a bargain, and others felt they were getting ripped off, but the general public didn't care about their reasons. They were simply stunned by the astronomical sums being tossed around.
They thought that the 300 million Fang Zhao had gotten was a high price. Little had they known the winning bids would get even higher. Even if higher bids were expected, the huge gap between bids was baffling. What were people thinking jumping from 400 or 500 million to 1 billion?
"It must be those major farm owners from Muzhou," Kevin Lin told Fang Zhao, as if he were an expert on the matter.
"The major farm owners from our Muzhou are quite brash," a soldier from Muzhou bragged.
After Fan Lin and the others, it was finally the turn of Baiji's generals.
The final few lots truly hammered home to the general public what crazy rich people and big capital were all about. After the starting price was displayed, the bids escalated at a rapid pace. The capitalists were going all out.
The bid counter comprised a digital counter followed by the unit of 10,000. Here, 10,000 was the default unit.
This lot went for 5 billion, the next 8 billion, then 10 billion. By contrast, the 300 million for Fang Zhao's animal tooth was nothing.
Folks watching online were bewildered by the huge sums.
"Have... have... have they all gone mad?"
"I have no idea. I'm too busy counting the zeros. This is my first time watching an auction like this."
"You think they're actually after the auction items? What they're eyeing is the land. This is an investment in Baiji real estate."
"If you think of it that way, then these seem to be bargains."
The auction finally ended after the set of commemorative coins was sold for 20 billion. Someone did the math. The total sales came out to just over 100 billion.
One mere auction had earned the Baiji military district 100 billion. There were so many jealous people out there.
"This is the first time I have felt concretely that Baiji's prospects are going to be great," Bie Liao marveled.