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Their carpool driver on the way back to the pet shop was a middle-aged man who looked rather calm. He was not as talkative as Jamie. He would answer their questions, but would not say anything else or initiate conversations. It's clear that he just wanted to drive quietly.
Guo Dongyue put the bird cage between his legs, closed his eyes and didn't make a sound. He opened his eyes occasionally to observe the status of the two red-headed lovebirds. He could tell that the lovebirds had not accustomed to the bumpy ride, for they were not as calm as they were when in the Phoenix House.
"Can you drive slower please?" Guo Dongyue reminded the driver.
"Meow meow! Drive faster!" Snowy Lionet was playing the same tricks it used earlier when they headed to the Phoenix House. It took advantage of the inertia when the car turned corners and tried to lean on Fina. Fina just used her claws to push away Snowy Lionet impatiently.
Zhang Zian was about to take a nap when his phone rang. It was a text message sent from Wei Kang.
[Wei Kang]: I have taught so many students, and many of them are older than you. I can see that you have concerns. I don't know what you are worrying about. Perhaps you might think that I want to take this opportunity to become famous, but I really just want to make some contributions to the academic community. If you agree to provide the genes of the original Egyptian cat, I assure that the first authorship of the essay will be yours.
Zhang Zian did not reply the message right away; instead, he was thinking quietly.
He remembered a piece of scientific news he had read before.
In 1999, Doctor L. Lee Grismer published an essay about Chinese cave geckos. It was a rare species of gecko that inhabited Pingxiang, Guangxi Province, China. The scientist believed that by publishing that essay, the local government would pay attention to them and adopt better measures to protect these geckos.
Unexpectedly, after Grismer’s essay was published, these geckos with peculiar looks became popular rare treasures. The price of one Chinese cave gecko had been raised to USD $2,000 by international buyers. And in 1999, USD $2,000 could buy a lot of things in China.
Driven by tremendous profits, the people’s craze for Chinese cave geckos was unstoppable. Researchers soon found that the habitats of the geckos as mentioned in the essay "looked like they had been bombed, and every rock had been rummaged searching for geckos". Nowadays in Pingxiang, Guangxi Province, it was really hard to spot a Chinese cave gecko because of their excessive capture in the past.
Zhang Zian thought about the man on the Wang Haige who wore a wind coat and pretended to know it all. That guy sold rare pets for profits. He also remembered the rich female mentioned by Guo Dongyue. She spent large amounts of money just to build a glass garden house for an intelligent grey parrot... Whether it was in China or overseas, rich people were rather frenetic about rare animals.
Considering the tragic lesson learned from the Chinese cave geckos, if Wei Kang really wrote something like "an original Egyptian cat has been found in Binhai City, and it can help determine the evolution process of house cats" in his essay, what would happen?
The consequences would be unimaginable.
But for sure, the doorsteps of the Amazing Fate Pet Shop would be trampled, and his entire shop would be crowded by ordinary people and government officials. To hold Fina in their possession, people would promise him large amounts of money, or government officials would demand he hand Fina over to the country and give him a certificate for his merits... What was worse was that some wicked people might think of horrible means to clear obstacles in order to get Fina.
Right now, a few netizens had suspected that Fina might be an original Egyptian cat, but they were just guessing, and they would probably forget about it after a while... However, If Wei Kang, a professor of Binhai University published an essay, the resulting situations would be uncontrollable.
Zhang Zian wanted to make his contributions to science, with the premise that his life would not be disturbed, and his safety would not be jeopardized. Obviously, if Wei Kang's essay was published, his quiet and tranquil life would be gone for good.
How about asking Wei Kang not to expose where Fina was? That would also be an unrealistic option. A scientific essay must be precise, and the factors in the essay must be provable and repeatable; the authors could not just make up the essay from hearsay without evidence. After Wei Kang's essay was released, his colleagues in the academic community from home and abroad would definitely visit him, and ask him where the original Egyptian cat was found. And Wei Kang must answer their questions honestly, or his academic reputation would be compromised—people should not underestimate scientists’ persistence to chase and explore the truth.
The tragedy that happened to Chinese cave geckos was not an isolated incident; in fact, similar situations had occurred several times. Every time scientists found out about a new species, the population of the new species would be reduced significantly because of overcapture. Even if the habitats of the new species were not specified in the essay, as long as there were descriptions of their habits, people who set their minds on hunting them could speculate the areas where they lived anyway.
Zhang Zian turned his head to look at Fina. Fina was squatting on the spot beside him with her head turned to look at the view that disappeared quickly out the window. Fina raised her claws from time to time to push away the annoying Snowy Lionet. Snowy Lionet was very persistent and was not dismayed by these frustrations. It circled around Fina, trying every means from every angle to lick Fina’s fur…
Sometimes, when Snowy Lionet was between Fina and Zhang Zian, it would involuntarily lean against Zhang Zian due to being pushed by Fina. When such situations occurred, Snowy Lionet would stare at Zhang Zian with its big blue eyes fiercely.
Zhang Zian had to admit that it felt good to touch Snowy Lionet’s long fur, and its angry look made it even more adorable. A cat lover would just keep touching its fur affectionately...
After thinking seriously for a while, he decided to reply to Wei Kang.
[Zhang Zian]: Professor Wei, it’s not that I tend to decline people's requests, or that I have any doubt about your integrity, it's just that I am concerned about what will happen after the fact that Fina is an original Egyptian cat is exposed to the public. I am just an ordinary person, and I want to live like an ordinary person. I don't want to live surrounded by the media’s spotlights. So I’m sorry, but I can't agree to your request... Maybe one day I will say yes, but not right now.
He pushed the send button, and he received Wei Kang's message in a quick moment.
[Wei Kang]: I understand that my request was too abrupt, and that I haven't taken your feelings into consideration. You are right; if I were you, I probably wouldn't want to be the focus of media either. I will reflect upon my mistake, and I will try to come up with the perfect plan that will work for everyone. Until then, I will not bring up a similar request to you.
Zhang Zian felt relieved after reading the message. It seemed that Wei Kang was understanding and reasonable, unlike the mad scientists in the movies who would do anything at any cost for the sake of scientific research...
Now that Wei Kang would not disturb him randomly, he felt quite relaxed.
In fact, all the excuses he used above were just his minor concerns. The most important reason he rejected Wei Kang was that he never treated Fina as a cat or a pet. Whether it was Xinghai, Fina or Old Time Tea, he would respect their opinions. If they wanted to follow him to the Phoenix House, he would bring them. If they'd rather go back into the game and sleep, he would not force them to do anything else.
They were not pets, they were Elves who had transcended the boundaries of time and space. They had their own willpowers and longings — he understood that from Snowy Lionet’s experience. They were the companions of their owners, not the subordinates of their owners. They followed their owners because they liked them and identified with them, so, in return, their owners should also award them with candidness and respect.
He noticed that the scene outside was a little strange. They were not on the same route as when they headed to the Phoenix House.
"Excuse me, are we on the right track?" he asked the driver.
"Yes, we are." The driver didn't understand why he asked, and he checked his phone which was used as the navigator to make sure.
"We are going the right way." Guo Dongyue opened his eyes and said, "We are not heading back to the pet shop yet. I want to take these two parrots to my home first, to see how my mother will react to them, so that I can make sure what I'm doing is not meaningless."
Zhang Zian nodded his head, agreeing to Guo Dongyue. He felt that Guo Dongyue was really thoughtful, and that it was indeed necessary for his mother to see the parrots first.