Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The Starnet was abuzz with discussions about Xie Sen’s contract plants. Although the military had stepped in to control the news, there had been no hotter news to divert attention in recent days, so the topic was still hot. Especially when it came to plants and contracts, the discussion was most likely to be triggered.
Xie Sen stayed in his home completely unaffected. Qi Shao did what he said he would do. After he took his men to install security equipment there was no one following him. The military department’s equipment was very advanced and protective, not only around the fence, but also in the air. The rays emitted from all around the fence formed an oversized circular dome that covered the entire property.
Outside the allowed shuttles and flying beasts, any flying vehicle or creature that passed within that area of sky would trigger an alert. The alert was connected to the military, Xie Sen and Maine’s bracelets for extra security.
On the afternoon of the twenty-eighth, Xie Sen went to the hospital where the beasts would be operated on according to the address sent by Father Bai, and he took Tuan Tuan with him in order to communicate smoothly.
Today was the first surgery for the beasts, and the giant bear had been taken away in the morning. The rest of the beasts were affected by the situation, and Xie Sen had been calming them before he left home.
Not long after the shuttle departed the house, Xie Sen turned his head to look and frowned. “Someone is following us.”
Maine glanced in the rearview mirror. “It’s someone from the military.”
Xie Sen contacted Qi Shao, who said, “To ensure your safety, we need protection outside home.”
Xie Sen was uncomfortable at the thought of being followed everywhere. “No. It makes me feel as if something will happen all the time, and it’s very stressful. If you’re worried about my safety, you should start with the screening of people who enter the cameras’ view and the security.”
“This is an order from the military.”
Xie Sen’s brow knitted more tightly. “I didn’t provide plants so that I could be followed with real-time surveillance! I want to have absolute civil liberties, and if not, I will make myself ordinary.”
Qi Shao immediately understood what he meant. “I will relay your comments to the top. My men will follow you until the rest of the orders are given.”
Xie Sen added, “To be blunt, if someone follows me all the time, the only plants I can provide will be what you know.”
Qi Shao, “You don’t have to emphasize it. I understand what you mean.”
After he ended the call, Xie Sen muttered something about trouble, and Maine looked back at him. “Don’t like being followed?”
“Mn, I’m not used to it.” Xie Sen looked out the window at the tall buildings on either side as they flew past.
When he was in college, he was an ordinary college student, who wandered around with nothing to do, and was very free. Later, when he was in the post-apocalyptic world, at first he would purposely go to people, since he wanted to huddle and feel safe, but later he became afraid of meeting any creature, especially people. If someone was always following behind him, he would get more nervous, and have a feeling that something would happen immediately. He hated to go out with someone following him.
Maine, “What you just said will work. They will give you what you want.”
Maine’s words were soon verified. When two arrived at the hospital, the shuttle that had been following behind them didn’t stop but drove away.
Xie Sen received a message from Qi Shao, [Contact me immediately if there is danger.]
Xie Sen replied, [Okay.]
He got off the shuttle and spread his arms. “Comfortable!”
Bai Jiao waved at them from the intersection that led to the surgery department, and the two quickly walked over. Bai Jiao said as they walked, “The surgery was successful and the anesthesia will wear off in half an hour.”
The giant bear was lying against the wall on the carpet. The fangs in its mouth were gone, and the fur around its mouth had been shaved off, which revealed the wound that had been stitched up.
Xie Sen put his hand on the transparent wall and was happy. The giant bear beast was back to its original appearance!
Father Bai pointed to the hole in the wall. “You can reach in there and touch it. This is made of special material, so even if it is manic, it is impossible for it to destroy the wall, but if the situation isn’t right, you have to hurry and take your hand back.”
Xie Sen, “Okay.” He reached out and touched the back half of the bear’s side. Maine hugged him from behind him as he stared closely at the bear.
After the anesthetic wore off, the beast threw back its head and screamed. Its voice was weak, but anyone who heard it could feel the pain it contained. It shook its head frantically, and slowly got up.
Xie Sen shouted, “Don’t move, you’ll open the wound!” His hand had slipped to the giant beast’s hind leg, and he rubbed it hard. “Lie down and rest.”
Tuan Tuan called out, then flew in through another hole, and stopped in front of the giant bear’s forehead. “Don’t move, you’re hurt!”
Xie Sen’s touch made the bear feel particularly comfortable, and the swelling and pain in its head didn’t seem as unbearable as when it opened its eyes. It moved its body and turned its head to look at the wall. When it saw Xie Sen, it called out softly.
“A’Sen, it says thank you.” Tuan Tuan translated.
Xie Sen breathed a sigh of relief, “The wound will hurt. Bear with it and don’t move around. Lying down will make it heal faster.”
The giant bear beast repositioned itself on its back, while it continued to look at him.
Father Bai was surprised. “You really calmed it down. It reacted much better than we expected.”
Xie Sen asked, “How long will it take for the wound to heal?”
Father Bai, “The contract beast is very resilient. It will be able to move around normally in about a week. It will take about twenty days to heal completely, provided it doesn’t get worse.”
Xie Sen stayed with the giant bear for an hour, then left Tuan Tuan to chat with the giant bear and returned home.
On the way, he was worried that the contract beasts had acted abnormally because the giant bear beast had left, and checked the situation through the live stream room. When he saw that everything was normal, he cut away from the feed and looked at the fans’ private messages.
He flipped through several in a row, and the content was almost always the same. They all reminded him not to forget the lottery, that August would soon be here, and to start preparing for the meetup at the beginning of the month.
Xie Sen slapped his head. He really had forgotten. From then until the beginning of the month he was afraid it couldn’t be done. From today onwards, every day there were beasts going to have surgery.
He counted the time, and also considered how he was getting his diploma on the 13th, then made an announcement. [Sorry.The lab’s contract beasts are in a critical period of treatment, so the August meeting is cancelled, but two will be held in September. As compensation, a food event will be held on the 10th. There will be a draw for 20 lucky audience members to have lunch together. The rules of the drawing remain the same. The deadline is 8:00 am on the 9th.]
He now had plenty of energy, and didn’t have to hide the existence of various foods. Food had no limitations. He suddenly thought of hot pot as he wrote about the food event, and decided to make hot pot. With so many people, eating together would be super lively.
When his announcement was sent out, a bunch of fans started giving gifts, and the live stream was annihilated by gift prompts.
[Oh my god, lunch! A meal, not a piece of fish!]
[I’ll go wash my face first, then come back for the gift.]
[I want to go so badly. The emperor is possessed!!!]
Xie Sen watched for a while, but the gift tips and pop-ups that kept brushing by made him feel dizzy all of a sudden, so he turned off his bracelet.
The next few days, Father Bai reformulated the surgery plan. Two surgeries per day, so each day two contract beasts would be operated on. By the morning of the sixth, the surgeries of the beasts were all completed.
After some discussion, the contract beasts who had finished their surgeries were still sent to Xie Sen. Their mental condition was too poor, and their bodies were too weak to be sedated, so it was easier for them to recover by staying with their friends and being closer to Xie Sen.
The accommodation area was even more lively now. Originally there were ten contract beasts, but now there were an additional eighteen for a total of twenty-eight, plus Big Pincers and Little Silver. There were thirty intelligent creatures, so every day was lively.
There were a lot of duplicate contract beasts as well. Xie Sen, in order to distinguish them, other than their special features, gave them a name, such as Little Spot. The rest, all in the order of recognition, were given such names. The giant bear beast from Blue Star now became Big Bear, and the bear who went through surgery became Second Bear.
The contract beasts didn’t care about names at all, but the two giant bear beasts were happy to hear Xie Sen distinguish their names and danced on the spot. The main character of the dance was Big Bear, while Second Bear was only responsible for clapping and screaming because its body hadn’t yet recovered.
After the giant lion beast and the giant wolf beast, Xie Sen found another good candidate to be an audience member, Second Bear.
The contract beasts had different personalities. Some were silent and some were talkative, some were mild-mannered and some were cranky, but all of them were straight-thinking and simple, sometimes even stupid, so every day there were unexpected laughs in the group.
Xie Sen’s seat was once again moved from the accommodation area to the outdoors. Maine got him a sunshade, but within a day it was broken by the contract beasts who wanted to get close to him.
Maine was about to get another one, but Xie Sen stopped him, as he relayed the black leopard’s words to him, “No, if I don’t want to get sunburned, I can just call a contract animal to block it.”
The A class contract beasts were all over three meters tall, so when he sat in a chair with a contract beast lying next to him, as long as they were in the right position, they could block all the sunlight for him. They could also move their position at any time, which was much smarter than a sunshade.
On the morning of the 9th, Xie Sen took a walk after breakfast, then sat on the recliner as usual.
The contract beasts were treated, and there were three days before the last contract beast was operated on, so he first turned on the live stream, and checked the list of lucky viewers.
Big Lion, the earliest of the giant lion beasts, was lying behind him, helping to shield him from the sun. Near his seat were the other contract beasts, who had just finished their morning run and were lazily wagging their tails and chatting.
Xie Sen was wrapped in a half circle. The accommodation area and home were empty on both sides, and Xie Sen could see both sides when he raised his eyes.
[The anchor is suddenly on again!]
[Oh my God, this is too spectacular. He looks like a different person, surrounded by fierce beasts. I would be scared to death.]
[I guess this is heaven. Envy…]
[Boing boing. How can I be so dark? Meet and greet tickets cannot draw. Tickets for food events cannot draw!]
[The front, do not remind me of this sad thing!]
[Wow, the injured contract beasts look like they’re recovering well. It’s great.]
[‘Ah Jian’ gave the anchor a watermelon rain: Anchor, anchor. Tomorrow’s food event, kneeling from the side!]
[Yes, I don’t eat. Is it okay if I stand and smell from a distance?]
Xie Sen heard the System broadcast, stopped the private message with the address and time of the notification, and swept his eyes over the contract beasts. “They are still recuperating and cannot be subjected to noise, while the venue I chose is not suitable for spectators.”
[Not here? What about live streaming? It’s not even possible to broadcast live, right?]
[Never. Even live streaming with a bracelet would be good.]
[Anchor, I can provide the location! I’ll book a concert hall for you to hold an event. Be sure to let me surround it!]
Xie Sen saw this pop-up and held his chin as he considered it. For holding a food event, a concert hall type of building was indeed more suitable.
But when he thought about this event, he lost his smile. “This time it’s called an event, but in fact it is mainly compensation for the delay of the fan meeting. It’s just to eat lunch together, and eating in front of a crowd feels a little strange.”
[Not strange, not strange at all!]
[Yeah, besides, the compensation is only twenty people. How do we get it?! Kneeling for advice.]
Xie Sen looked at the copy-pasted words and said, “Okay. I’ll see if I can rent an open-air concert hall. If I can, I’ll rent it. If I’m not able to rent it, at least it will be live.”
[Big brother can provide a venue!]
[I want to watch!]
Xie Sen smiled, “I can’t take advantage of the fans. I’ll try to contact someone. There will be news, and I will send an announcement.”
He thought about it and contacted Huo Feng, who was a big boss and really knew people. With his help, he directly contacted the owner of a concert hall.
The owner of the concert hall was very enthusiastic. “My son especially likes your live broadcast. He contacted me before our communication. We don’t want your rent, just let my son have lunch together. Is that okay?”
Xie Sen considered that. “It’s not appropriate to not pay the rent. Just a discount.”
“I’ll have someone sell the tickets for you. What’s the price?”
Xie Sen didn’t understand. “Do you have tickets for outdoor venues too?”
“Of course. It’s outdoor, not open. The price varies from location to location, and there are three sizes. What do you think?”
Xie Sen pondered, “How many seats are there?”
“That many?” Xie Sen was shocked. It seemed too much for a hot pot lunch. “Is there a smaller venue?”
“Not much, not much, and with your popularity, those locations aren’t enough,” the owner of the concert hall said.
Xie Sen, “Okay, the price will be a 100, 50 or 30. Whatever.” Xie Sen was a little uncomfortable. After all, not everyone who entered could eat, they would just watch him eat.
“It’s too cheap. You can’t even make up the rent. Half of the rent is three million. You don’t need lighting effects, but security plus the rest of the small details cost at least five million.” The owner of the concert hall advised. “I think 500, 300, and 200 will be fine. It will still be full.”
Xie Sen, “Forget it. This is the compensation for the event. In the future, If I specialize in food events, then we can set another price.”
If it was before, five million would be the price of heaven to him. Now he didn’t care very much. These days the raffle made much more than five million.
After he negotiated with the owner of the concert hall, Xie Sen sent out an announcement. [The food event will be held at the Red Rich Concert Hall. Start time is 11:00, tickets are on sale on the concert hall’s website.]
He got up and went back into the house. Maine came down from the second floor. “Do you want to go to the concert hall first?”
Xie Sen walked towards the kitchen. “No, it’s not too late to see it tomorrow. Did you hear me?”
Xie Sen went into the kitchen and counted the food. In addition to the food directly redeemed by the System, there were also many processed foods. For example, a few days ago, he redeemed a lot of wheat and corn, ground them into flour, and made some fish balls and meatballs. He also redeemed soybeans, then made bean sprouts and tofu.
In addition to the System’s food, there were also various kinds of meat, all of which were cut into thin slices to be put into the hot pot and cooked for a few minutes.
Maine said, “It’s all ready. The ten tables you mentioned, and the matching mandarin duck pots are also ready.” 1
Xie Sen nodded, while he watched the pot and swallowed. He could finally eat hot pot again! He had activated the star anise and pepper a few days before, so he was extra excited about the hot pot. This time, the hot pot meal was even more sumptuous than the previous ones, with many varieties of meat.
Maine took him by the shoulders. “Want to eat? Have some lunch?”
Xie Sen was a little excited, then looked at his stomach and shook his head. “No, it’s easy to get hot if you eat too much. I’ll save the surprise for tomorrow.”
Xie Sen counted the number of people. Twenty spectators. Although the boss only said to let his son come, he decided to invite the boss, too. Anyway, the preparation of the food was done. He also invited Long Teng and Bai Jiao, so together with him and Maine, there were a total of twenty-six people.
“We probably only need seven mandarin duck pots, but bring them all tomorrow, just in case.” You could do four people per pot, otherwise it got too crowded.
Maine said, “They’re all in the spatial pack.”
Xie Sen checked the bones and ingredients used to make the soup, made sure they were okay, and left the kitchen with Maine.
The next morning, he and Maine went to the concert hall, where they were met by the owner and his son, who was sixteen years old and in his first year of college. He was a particularly outgoing boy who was extremely excited.
The owner laughed. “The tickets sold out in less than an hour, and we had people asking for extra seats! If you do a food event in the future, come to my place!”
Xie Sen, “Okay. You can eat with us at noon.”
The boss’s eyes glowed. “Is that all right?”
Xie Sen nodded, but the boss hesitated. “I’m not going, but can I let my partner come?”
Xie Sen, “Come with us. It’s not good to leave anyone home alone.” There was still room anyway.
The boss laughed, “Okay, I haven’t had chili yet, I’ve only smelled it.”
The owner’s son wrinkled his nose. “I can never grab the goods from the rich supermarket!”
The four talked and went backstage. The boss said, “The stage can be raised and lowered, so any preparations can be made down there.”
Maine had the kitchen utensils brought over, and a large drum was used to make bone broth. When it was done, he took out seven tables and matching mandarin pots and put the pots in the table holes, with the rims almost level with the table tops.
The boss and the boss’s son were watching with great interest. Both were particularly curious, but neither asked any questions. As they watched them work, they saw Xie Sen ask Maine to put the tables together, and the two of them hastily came forward to help.
The seven pots were arranged in two rows, with two benches on each side of the table, to make a total of twenty-eight seats.
Xie Sen looked at the uneven seats, and asked Maine to bring out another table. It looked much better with two neat rows, which left a total of thirty-two seats.
“Xie Sen, there are so many seats. Do we still have to draw a lottery on the spot?” The owner’s son was curious.
Xie Sen, “I have friends coming over.” He had agreed with Long Teng and Bai Jiao yesterday to have dinner together, but at this moment there were only twenty-seven people and five more seats.
He contacted Xu Da, whose voice rose when he heard that he was having lunch. “When? I’m still on the ship.”
No wonder Long Teng hadn’t mentioned him. “Noon, but if it’s too late, I’ll arrange for another time, that’s fine.”
“Then it’s a deal, we’ll eat together tonight.”
Less than three minutes after the agreement was made and the communication ended, Xu Da contacted him again. “No, I want to eat together at noon! Teng, that brat, didn’t tell me such an important thing. Luckily I just saw the news as I went to turn off my bracelet.”
Xie Sen, “Aren’t you on the ship?”
“I’ll have them speed up and get there at eleven! Teng’s father and dad are there, can we come together?”
“Yes, there’s still room.”
Soon after Xie Sen and Xu Da finished communicating, Mu Lin contacted him. “I’m free soon and want to see your food event. I tried to buy tickets through various channels but failed, so I came to you.”
Xie Sen laughed, “I don’t have any seat tickets, but I still have stage tickets. Exactly two.”
“Really? That’s great!” Mu Lin laughed.
Now, there were thirty-two seats, it was all arranged.
Long Teng and Bai Jiao arrived before ten o’clock, and by then the bone broth was already smelling delicious. The twenty lucky audience members were all backstage, and craned their necks to watch.
“How come my usual soup doesn’t smell this good?”
“So looking forward to it! This is definitely the luckiest time in my life.”
The backstage wall showed the audience entry at each door, and by 10:30, the seats were almost completely full.
At eleven o’clock, the stage rose. Xie Sen, Maine and various tools appeared in front of the audience. Xie Sen scanned the screens around the audience stage, which showed all scenes from the stage. He wore a headset and greeted the audience as Maine ladled the cooked soup, one by one, into the broth portion of the mandarin duck pot.
Xie Sen started to fry the chili oil and put in many spices. The aroma instantly drifted out, and the audience immediately shouted, “It smells good!”
Xie Sen stepped aside while Maine ladled the soup into the pots. The sound of the soup was heard, and the aroma became more intense.
When the pot was ready, Xie Sen gestured to Maine, who placed the various foods prepared on the food shelves at the table. There was so much food that it looked less like a bunch of people eating hot pot together, and more like a hot pot restaurant’s food set-up.
He introduced to the audience, “This time we are having hot pot. All the food is cooked and eaten in a pot with a spicy base and a clear soup. The chili is delicious but not everyone is necessarily used to the spicy taste.” He smiled. “The preparations have been completed. Next, I will welcome all of you who are having lunch together. They are my good friends, and also the lucky viewers of the live broadcast. Let’s welcome them together.”
Xie Sen greeted Xu Da and the Long parents. Xu Da smiled with a special smile. “Haha, finally, I’m in time! It smells good, wow! What are all these dishes?”
Long Teng also scurried over to the food shelf. “A’Sen, put it straight in and cook it?”
Xie Sen pointed to the seats. “Let’s sit down.” Thirty or so people were quite a lot, so standing together took up a lot of space.
The two outermost seats were reserved for Xie Sen and Maine, and the rest of the group took their seats and looked at Xie Sen.
Xie Sen said, “There are plates under the food shelf, so use them for whatever you want to eat. There are more people, so let one person at each pot fill the dishes. Take as much as you can, don’t waste anything. The rest of the food is easy to cook, especially the meat slices, which can be eaten after they change color. This is tofu, which is easily broken, so be gentle when you grab it.”
He introduced and pointed to the dishes, and smiled when he finished. “Now you can take the dishes.” He sat back down and Maine took his plate. He was joined at his table by Bai Jiao and the live audience, who laughed, “Wait for Maine to bring the food.”
Long Teng’s family was seated exactly four seats down from them, and next to Mu Lin and Gu Luo, who were particularly quick. Both Long Teng and Mu Lin scurried up to get their dishes as soon as Xie Sen finished.
The rest of the tables also sent a representative each. All tall males, with particularly sharp movements, and in no time, someone started eating.
“Holy shit, it’s too good!”
“Hey, this tofu is too tender, right? One clip and it breaks.”
“I usually eat meat and almost vomit. This is the first time I found that meat to be so delicious!”
The people on stage were eating with red faces, while the steamy air rose from the hot pot and wafted away, as it spread the fragrance to all parts of the audience. The screens around the room showed close-ups of the pot, the clear soup pot and the spicy pot full of various foods, most of which had never been seen before, but looked delicious.
Tender cabbage was dredged up from the spicy pot, white, emerald green and red mixed together in a cloud, floating in the light with a layer of oil. It looked particularly flavorful. The tender tofu was spooned up, as it churned slightly, and at first glance you could expect a melt-in-your-mouth texture.
The people on the stage had time to praise at first, then the food was cooked and they ate as much as they could eat. They all buried their heads and ate without saying a word, just showed with their actions how delicious it was.
“It is painful and joyful.” The live audience looked straight at the stage with twisted faces.
The viewers in front of the live broadcast had sent pop-ups, [Good people tell us in the end. What is the taste? Ah, cry, I can not think, ah!]
[Why can’t I even grab an audience ticket? I’m crying in the toilet.]
[Anchor, you say! How can I be friends with you? What do you like? I will do it!]
[I also want to be friends with the anchor. This is too happy!]