Superstars of Tomorrow - Chapter 299: Takeout Delivery Man - Wuxiaworld
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Chapter 299: Takeout Delivery Man

Chapter 299: Takeout Delivery Man

Translator: Min_Lee Editor: Tennesh
Looking back on that day, the captain of the freight vessel had inspected the various cargo holding bays with Curly Hair in tow and yielded some results. Not a whole lot, but some. After all, the screening equipment and the elite dogs from the police canine unit weren't mere window dressing. Curly Hair had just caught what they missed.

When they returned to Wai, the captain of the ship couldn't bear parting with Curly Hair as Yan Biao and Zuo Yu prepared to take him to his owner, so he reported the matter to his superiors.

Port security was a major priority for Huo Yi. Planet Wai's fortunes were on the rise. It was on a development spree. If anything went wrong, it could spell disaster. So once he got word, he ordered them, "Tell Fang Zhao's two bodyguards we need to complete customs clearance for the dog. Stall them. Don't let them take the dog away."

The captain of the freight ship felt that wasn't sufficient grounds. "What if they disagree?"

"What say do they have? Then detain them. They aren't the dog's bodyguards. I'll take the matter up with the dog's owner," Huo Yi responded.

The captain felt reassured. "Commander, no matter what, you must keep the dog. It's so much more effective than the screening equipment at the spaceport. Who knows how long the 'Founding Era' shoot will take? My ship will be transporting a lot of stuff for the cast and crew. There are also other ships. Our military budget doesn't rival Baiji's. Even though we received a new batch of screening machines, it's still no guarantee. We should follow the MO of spaceports on the home planet: screening equipment and sniffer dogs. Didn't you ask Muzhou's police canine academy for dogs? We should get them this year, no?"

"Yes. I'll tell them it's urgent. We should be getting nine dogs."

The captain was delighted by the news. Even though other dogs might not be as competent as Curly Hair, they would still make a difference. He was always filled with envy when he watched the canine units in action at the spaceports on Earth.

Machines were simply machines, and police dogs were police dogs. The dogs over at the Muzhou police canine academy were always in demand.

The captain was curious. "That many? They're that generous? Didn't we have trouble getting five from them in the past?"

"It's because the 'Founding Era' project carries quite a bit of clout. That's why the canine academy is being unusually generous."

Huo Yi had put in a request with the Muzhou police dog academy five years ago. Back then, Planet Wai had been the boondocks. Their security screening equipment had been quite outdated, mostly hand-me-downs from planets ranked higher in the development order. If they couldn't afford screening equipment, Huo Yi figured, at least they could afford to raise dogs.

But it turned out that the dogs at the Muzhou police canine academy weren't cheap either. The main problem was that Huo Yi hadn't acted quickly enough. Every time a quality pup was available, it was reserved right away. Planet Wai had to get in line.

Now that Wai's development prospects had improved, Huo Yi felt he was on more solid ground. After complaining of insufficient funding and leveraging the clout of the "Founding Era" shoot, he had managed to get his dogs.

And today, he heard about Curly Hair. He wanted to draft Curly Hair as well. It was just a dog, he figured. All he had to do was offer Fang Zhao something in return.

But after figuring out Curly Hair's market value through a quick internet search and reading the relevant news items, Huo Yi cringed. He knew there was no way they would land Curly Hair.

That said, Huo Yi still probed Fang Zhao when Huo Yi got him on the line. After confirming that a sale was out of the question, Huo Yi tried a different strategy.

"I'm thinking the reason you had the dog brought here is because you didn't want to leave such a precious dog at home. But frankly, Wai and the film studio complex aren't much better. It's a mixed crowd these days. Who knows, your dog may be marked soon. He's better off at our base. There will be pups from the Muzhou police dog academy to keep him company. The academy is also going to send a trainer and a breeder. They will take good care of your dog. I've set aside land for the dogs, quite a sizable plot. We don't have much to write home about here on Wai, but we sure as hell have plenty of land."

Fang Zhao remained silent. He knew Huo Yi wasn't finished yet.

Lo and behold, Huo Yi continued. "Let Curly Hair serve at our base. He can do whatever he wants most of the time. All he has to do is take a stroll through the inbound freight vessels. This is a good thing for the dog. Dogs who have performed military service are entitled to government benefits down the road. Even though you're not exactly short on cash, this is an honor of sorts, no? By the time he heads back to Earth with you, he'll be entitled to preferential treatment at all sorts of places."

Fang Zhao demanded to see a live feed of Curly Hair.

Huo Yi knew he was still in business when Fang Zhao didn't reject his proposal outright. "No problem. Let me show you. That little fella is having a great time," he said in an upbeat voice.

And Huo Yi wasn't lying.

After their call was switched to a videoconference, Fang Zhao saw Curly Hair, who was already in uniform. Curly Hair's outfit was printed with the logo for the Wai military base, and he seemed to be enjoying himself.

The uniform Curly Hair was wearing was actually intended for the pups from the Muzhou police dog academy, but Curly Hair was a small dog, so the outfit was a good match.

"Don't worry. We're only going to use him to detect drugs and smuggled goods and the like. He'll be in a safe environment. We won't use him for dangerous military missions," Huo Yi added.

The fact that Huo Yi had made the call in person meant that the Wai base took the matter seriously, that it had been carefully thought out and was not a spontaneous request.

"Let me come over after I finish up tonight. We'll talk then," Fang Zhao said.

"No problem. I'll give your production crew a heads up."

After completing the tasks Director Bai had assigned to him this day, Fang Zhao skipped the routine trip to Restaurant Row with Ji Polun and company, boarding a flying transport bound for the Wai military base instead.

A quick look at Curly Hair revealed that the dog was in good health and spirits. Fang Zhao knew then that Curly Hair was OK with serving on the military base. The folks at the base thought that Curly Hair couldn't understand what was being said, but in fact, Curly Hair had understood everything. If he was upset, he would have started making a fuss a long time ago. How could he have possibly sat still without Yan Biao and Zuo Yu in his line of sight?

Fang Zhao also checked out the play area Huo Yi said he had set up for the dogs. It was quite big, not a whole lot smaller than Dongshan Farm. Much of the training equipment had already been installed. Curly Hair went nuts when he got there, making his rounds through each piece of equipment.

Fang Zhao also met the breeder. He was from Muzhou and a clear dog lover. He seemed like a decent chap. Come to think of it, the dogs were a top priority for Huo Yi. The nine pups from the Muzhou police canine academy were still due to arrive. Even if this breeder didn't cut it, there would be the trainer and breeder from Muzhou.

Curly Hair dashed toward Fang Zhao enthusiastically. Fang Zhao asked, "So, you wanna serve here?"

"Woof!" Curly Hair barked with gusto.

Fang Zhao stared at Curly Hair silently and waited until Curly hair stopped wagging his tail before saying, "OK."

Fang Zhao negotiated the terms of Curly Hair's service with Huo Yi before leaving.

Huo Yi headed back to base a happy man.

Fang Zhao would be quite busy with his shoot. Once filming started, he wouldn't be able to get away that easily. Still, he would ask Yan Biao and Zuo Yu to check up on Curly Hair from time to time, have the breeder brief them on Curly Hair's latest.

Naturally, Huo Yi was too busy to deal with these day-to-day tasks. His job was done when he successfully drafted Curly Hair into service. The breeder would handle the formalities that remained. He would brief Fang Zhao on Curly Hair's condition.

Starting from the day after tomorrow, Curly Hair would start serving in the Wai military base until Fang Zhao completed his shoot.

As for today, Fang Zhao instructed Yan Biao and Zuo Yu to take Curly Hair back to the film studio complex. They would deliver him to base the day after tomorrow.

After completing negotiations with Fang Zhao, Huo Yi put in a call to Muzhou asking the police dog academy to send their pups ASAP. The training grounds for the pups had been set up and their trainers had been selected. The trainers had already completed a year of training. The only missing piece was the dogs. Huo Yi threw in a mention of Curly Hair to rile the folks in Muzhou a bit.

Muzhou natives always prided themselves in producing the best dogs on the planet, and the Muzhou police canine academy was widely regarded as the best dog breeder in the world. It had long considered itself the industry leader.

Until Muzhou's sheep-herding competitions had had to change their rules thanks to a dog from Yanzhou.

At Muzhou's police dog academy.

"Who? Did you just say that dog is on Planet Wai?" One of the senior officials at the police dog school did a double take, wondering if he had misheard the previous comment.

"Curly Hair. You know, Fang Zhao's dog? The Wai military base took a liking to him. Word has it Commander Huo Yi called Fang Zhao in person with an offer, but Fang Zhao rejected it," a dog trainer responded.

"Duh! You'd have to be brain dead to give up that dog." The official pondered the matter some more and instructed, "Tell the folks on Wai to keep a close eye on our dogs. Elite police dogs can draw quite a few enemies after being in the field for some time. They need to be protected and shielded from the public eye." He eyed the nine pups prepared for Wai. "Let's replace these three with three from Class 1."

The trainer balked at the decision. "Huh? There are only seven pups in Class 1. Didn't you want to save them for us?"

The dogs at the police dog academy were also ranked. The pups from Class 1 were the cream of the crop.

"Stop it. We have plenty of top dogs in Muzhou. There will be more in the pipeline. Let's send Wai this batch." The official glanced at the pups bound for Planet Wai. "Be on your best behavior. Don't lose to that dog from Yanzhou."

At Wai film studio complex.

Fang Zhao headed straight back to the set, while Zuo Yu and Yan Biao retrieved Curly Hair. Their flying transport landed near the film studio complex. There was already a car waiting.

The driver was an old comrade of Yan Biao's who worked at the film studio complex. He had rented the car from the Wai military base. Such rentals were quite common, so their car didn't stand out.

A shadow emerged from a dark corner after Zuo Yu and company sped away in their car. The person returned to the film studio complex as well.

The stalker was an entertainment journalist who had infiltrated the film studio compound. He hadn't landed any scoops of late. News was hard to come by at the film studio complex. All the big stars were on the set of "Founding Era," which the entertainment press corps had failed to penetrate, so tonight he had decided to try his luck near the film studios. Lo and behold, he had managed to shoot something.

The entertainment journalist returned to the room he had rented after arriving at the film studio complex. Two of his colleagues were waiting.

"From the look on your face, you got something, didn't you?"

"What did you get? Which celebrity?"

"Wow, you'll never guess."

The man pulled up the footage he had shot on his camera.

"Aren't these two guys... Fang Zhao's bodyguards?"

Entertainment journalists memorized the identities of all the folks who worked for the stars—agents, assistants, bodyguards, and the like. Even if they couldn't, they kept the information on file. Fang Zhao's entourage had been thoroughly researched by entertainment journalists around the world because he had been cast as the male lead in "Founding Era."

The other colleague figured out the real focus of the pictures. "Wait, isn't that the dog worth some 200 million?"

"Shouldn't Fang Zhao be shooting now? How come he had his bodyguards bring his dog?"

"How would I know?" The journalist paused the footage he had shot and pointed to a spot on the screen. "The Wai military base was responsible for their transportation. Check out the flying transport. It's emblazoned with the base logo."

The journalists were going to screen capture a few still photos out of the video. Even if they failed to shoot any celebrities, this dog was news.

"Let's brainstorm how to spin a story with these few pictures that draws the most readers."

"Should we make a connection to Fang Zhao's family history?"

"The dog is a hot topic. It's worth 200 million, one of the top-ranked dogs on the global list."

As for the truth, did it matter?

They were pros at extrapolating stories out of photos.

"Wait, hold on." The journalist glued to the screen brainstorming a storyline blurted, "It looks like Fang Zhao's bodyguard spotted you. Here, they threw you a glance."

"Don't worry. We're fine as long as we're not marked by the military. All I did was shoot a dog. What, are they gonna arrest me?"

The doorbell rang.

The three journalists were jolted to their senses and glanced at their door with alarm.

The leader of the group gestured, and one of the other journalists turned on their surveillance footage.

"Sir, your takeout is here." The man standing at the door was wearing a hotel uniform. He was a familiar face. He flashed his pristine-white teeth while staring at the camera.

The three men relaxed. They ordered takeout all the time. The film studio complex was off-limits to drones, so all takeout deliveries were made in person.

"It's my dinner."

"Scared the hell out of me."

"I'm going to start writing after I eat. We'll file the story tonight."

When they opened their door, they found about a dozen dark gun barrels pointed in their direction.

The trio: "!!!"

A group of armed soldiers stormed into the room. In the span of a few breaths, they had canvassed the entire room and confiscated the journalists' cameras and storage devices.

"Take them away!"

The squadron retreated. The three entertainment journalists didn't have time for so much as a grunt.

The film studio complex had a lively nightlife, so word of the arrests spread quickly.

Barring major infractions, the Wai military typically ignored what went down within the confines of the film studios. Journalists were generally free to roam around all day, then sneak out at night and find sanctuary outside the army's jurisdiction. As long as nothing major happened, only fines were imposed when reporters were caught.

This was their first time venturing into the complex to make arrests.

When they figured out who had been arrested, the other journalists based in the film studio compound started wondering what exactly their seized colleagues had managed to shoot.

"Judging from the response, it's gotta be something pertaining to military secrets."

"Isn't that a death wish? Why not stick to celebrities? Why shoot the military? You wanna cut your life short?"

The arrested journalists were downright baffled. All we did today was shoot a f*cking dog!

Another spot in the film studio complex.

Zuo Yu glanced in the direction of the commotion, then turned to tell Yan Biao, "When I was still with special forces, someone told me about an ace dog bred by the Muzhou police canine academy. It had completed many missions at various ports and made some major busts, which earned it a first-class merit medal. You know how much weight a first-class medal carries. You don't get one without a major contribution."

Yan Biao remained silent. Even though he had been part of a different branch of the military, he knew how rare first-class medals were. Few humans were awarded them, let alone dogs. The dog had been a bona fide ace.

"Back then, the Muzhou police dog academy was quite high profile and very cocky. They bragged about their ace dog many times. There was extensive news coverage. Eventually, it became a target after all its achievements. Someone placed a 20-million-dollar bounty on its head. The officer in charge of the dog got mighty worried and assigned 20 officers to guard it around the clock, but the dog was still assassinated during a mission. After that, the police dog academy took a different approach. They became very protective of these elite dogs that were as effective as high-tech robots, and they limited media coverage."

Such memories got Zuo Yu worried. "Port work is still quite dangerous. Does Boss really have no qualms about it taking on these security screening assignments?"

Yan Biao spread his hands. "Boss said it was Curly Hair's own call. This is an ideal situation. Boss is shooting on Wai and Curly Hair is serving in the military base. The two of us can keep dicking around."

Curly Hair was fast asleep in his kennel, belly up and snoring.