In his professional e-sports career of close to 20 years, this was the first time Jinro had heard someone speak to him this way, just like the way he would frighten his son with "If you don't listen, you will get a beating!"
Once the scarred-faced AliveAfter500Years left, the atmosphere among those eight returned to the silence from before.
"You want to beat me?" The heavy-set Milo scoffed as if someone had told him a joke. Before that, in his heart, he'd kind of revered AliveAfter500Years, but now he was angry. "Is he threatening me? I shall see whether he teaches me a lesson the following day or I finish him off!!" Milo's eyes were burning with anger, not just because of the arrogant words from the other party but because, as a veteran gamer, he also wished to kill the globally ranked number one!
The same intentions could be seen from the other's expressions as well. However, AliveAfter500Years was just one person, while they had eight on their side. There would only be one chance, and it depended on who was quicker or more capable.
"Are the scars on his face intentional?" Schwarzer was curious.
"It feels kinda familiar, like I have seen it somewhere before." HWR's Dorrian seemed to ponder. Seeing everyone's gaze on him, he put up his hands and said, "I only said the scars seem familiar, but as for who he is, I'm still clueless."
"He doesn't seem very young," Milo said. The other party gave off an aura like that of someone senior. Especially his manner and his pressuring gaze, they did not seem like something someone too young was capable of.
Jinro nodded his head in agreement. "Mhmm." Now he had even more doubts. Even if he was considered retired, he still kept up with news of the gaming circles, and he'd never heard of such a person.
"Whatever, I shall go explore a little." Jinro was itching to start planning his counter attack.
"Tsk—" Jake from Ocean University sneered but did not say anything. He left to familiarize himself with the area as well. He could not let Jinro kill AliveAfter500Years before he did.
This building could not be considered very big, and not a lot of time was needed to familiarize oneself with the place. However, it was not exactly small either. There were many spots to set traps and a number of hiding places as well.
As the eight busied themselves in the designated building, after Fang Zhao disconnected, he did not log in for another two days straight. Midway through, he received a number of messages from the gaming department's manager, Wayne.
Wayne paid close attention to the developments at Fang Zhao's end. But after a few days, not a single person from the name list had been recruited, and every day, he heard news of some of the players on the list being signed up by clubs or companys. Waking up every day and browsing the entertainment news was torture for him.
He was anxious!
How could he not be?
He had envisioned a bright future, but now, the anticipation had turned into apprehension. He was worried that the bright and beautiful vision he had would end up with nothing. The more hopes he had, the greater the disappointment, and he had not been sleeping well these few days.
Unfortunately, Fang Zhao still kept him waiting.
At 9 a.m. on the day.
Wayne called Fang Zhao once again and received the same reply.
"Still waiting?! How much longer do we have to wait?! Fang Zhao, I don't mean to criticize you, but I just want to say, if we can't go down this path, wouldn't it be better to change our strategy earlier than later?" Wayne scrunched up his tired eyebrows. "Actually, many of these people who want to join a team would have found somewhere to go even before 'Battle of the Century' was released. The remaining few would all be snapped up within a month after the start date, and after a month has passed, there won't be any more big movements, because everyone will already have a stable roster and proper plans. Therefore, we don't really have much time."
"Wait till tomorrow," Fang Zhao replied.
"Tomorrow?" Wayne's heart skipped a beat as his raised brows trembled. He then probed further. "That means to say, you have already gotten one?"
Fang Zhao only had one sentence. "We will find out tomorrow."
Wayne was so anxious he nearly dropped his communications device. "Can't you give me some reliable info?!"
After ending the call, Fang Zhao did not immediately enter the game. Instead, he went on to Fiery Bird's public training platform to warm-up and waited till 9:59 a.m. before he exited the training platform and logged into game.
There was a three second invulnerable period when logging in. Logging in at this time, Fang Zhao chose the same spot where he had disconnected, and right at the moment the three seconds were up, Fang Zhao abruptly sidestepped to the left and raised his gun.
Three seconds were up.
A bullet hit the ground behind him. If Fang Zhao had not sidestepped, the bullet would have nestled in his head.
At the same time, a figure collapsed from a corner ahead. The person quickly vanished, leaving behind only a gun.
Fang Zhao counted in his heart. Raising his head, he looked out of the window and toward the building opposite. After that, he retracted his gaze and continued moving forward.
They had not appeared with their full firepower and tried to suppress him right then and there. Fang Zhao had expected as much. He had handpicked the eight of them from Wayne's name list, and not on a whim.
After that, there was the sound of gunfire or objects smashing in the building, breaking up the tense silence.
Outside, on the road. A heat wave was rising, scattering dust all over the place.
A few mutated beast pricked their ears and faced the direction of the building where activity was coming from before scampering over toward the sounds.
With the sound of something being struck, they looked over toward a rusted steel door on the second floor. There was a high dent on the steel door, as if something had rammed hard into it from the inside and it had protruded out. The rust on the exterior of the door flaked off and floated down as the door shook violently. After a few more groans, the entire door fell down too.
A mutated beast used an abandoned car as a springboard and leapt to where the steel door on the second floor used to be. Only a gun was lying there.
A bullet hole appeared in the brains of that mutated beast that was just about to enter the building.
Bang Bang Bang!
Successive shots rang out, and the mutated beasts that were approaching were all killed. Only some had been shot by Fang Zhao, while others had been shot by people hiding within the building. Fang Zhao did not conceal his movements, but the others that had killed the beasts were using guns equipped with silencers.
The gunfire within the building continued on. There was a momentary pause, and then suddenly, concentrated gunfire erupted. The glass windows shattered into a million pieces and bullet holes appeared in the walls. Inside the fourth floor, fragments of wood, porcelain, and other stuff flew everywhere as light bulbs exploded and pieces of the walls and ceiling rained down. Then the sound of all gunfire ceased. The sound of a person falling amidst all the activity of things smashing would not be obvious at all.
The short moment of peace was broken by continuous gunfire once again.
The silence after every bout of gunfire took on a formless pressure that kept expanding.
Outside the building, on a road that was shaded, a gust of wind carried dust off into the distance. From time to time, a few mutated beasts would head in the direction of the noise, but not a single one could enter the building. Every single one was killed before it could even come near.
Half an hour later.
All the sounds of gunfire ceased. This time it was not momentary and lasted for a long while.
Jasmine with her camouflaged hair steadily walked over from the opposite block and paused outside the entrance, using a jittery hand to brush aside her fringe as she took a deep breath before entering.
At the spot on the third floor where they had last seen AliveAfter500Years.
"Oh, everyone's here?" Jasmine's tone was seldom so relaxed, and she no longer felt so jittery.
Milo was crouched on the ground, biting on a piece of wood he had picked up. He did not look well. Seeing Jasmine entering, he bit down and spat out a bunch of wood fillings. "Are you very happy?"
Jasmine raised her eyebrows but did not reply, instead glancing around. All eight of them were present.
"Where is AliveAfter500Years?" Jasmine asked.
"No idea, probably disconnected already." Jinro stretched his arms and gazed at the ceiling, as if pondering a profound question.
Schwarzer spoke. "Does this mean we failed? I was immediately kicked offline. Just one kick, I'm not exaggerating."
When Schwarzer thought back to that moment, he could not help but feel his insides churning. He had set a trap to attract AliveAfter500Years while he had hidden himself. He wanted to take advantage of the moment when the opponent's attention was drawn to the trap and use his nimble skills to do a surprise attack. In the end, he had been kicked offline by the opponent. The dent in the steel door had been all thanks to him.
"I hid myself in the other building but was found out immediately."
Unlike the others who had hidden within the same building, Jasmine had not done so. AliveAfter500Years had said where he would appear but had not said that everyone had to be there. Therefore, she had hidden herself in the opposite building. Unfortunately, at the moment she'd thought she was about to succeed, she had been shot offline by the opponent before she could pull the trigger. The hunter had become the hunted.
Noticing Milo not uttering a single word, Jasmine kicked him. "What about you?"
Milo's face became dark; he clearly did not wish to talk about it. "It's already over, what's the use of talking about it?"
Indeed, Milo did not want talk about it. He had been given special treatment by AliveAfter500Years.
Regardless of whether it was close-quarters combat or whichever gun he switched to, he had been completely suppressed! He had been given a taste of what despair felt like!
Originally, Milo had thought that the opponent hadn't been able to find a way to deal with him and had been stuck in a deadlock for a long time. Now, after hearing the others, he became aware that the opponent hadn't necessarily had no idea how to deal with him. As for why he would accompany Milo and dilly-dally...
Milo could not help but slap himself. "You and your stupid mouth!"
Even his favorite automatic rifle had been taken by the opponent!
When he'd logged back in later and asked everyone, they'd still had their guns; only his had been taken! That was simply revenge! Special treatment!
Milo wondered in his heart: if only he had not shot his mouth off, would he still have received special treatment?
He'd suffered a beating and suffered bullets and still compensated with his favorite gun. It was so demoralizing. How could he even have the face to speak about it?!
"So what do we do?" Schwarzer asked. He had suffered quite a big beatdown today and actually felt the disparity between them. Yet he still seemed to be in good spirits. He had lost at the hands of his idol. Although he had been kicked offline without any mercy, his aspirations did not change. His idol was still his idol!
"Wait a minute, I just received a message." Jinro received the notification of a new message on this account and stopped talking to check. He was a little nervous, but very quickly, his eyes glowed.
"I have one too." The huge Milo hastened.
Beside him, Jasmine did not make a sound, but from her manner, she was checking a message too.
"I received it too."
Schwarzer looked at everyone starting to check their messages. He was the only one who had not received a notification.
"You guys, what message did you all get?" Schwarzer asked.
"Report at Silver Wing Tower's 50th floor tomorrow," the seven of them said in unison. They had all received the same message, but the moods of each were all different.
"Why... Why don't I have it?" Schwarzer's face had turned pale, and he felt his whole body turning cold.
Out of the eight, only he had not received a message. That meant to say, only he had been rejected?
Schwarzer really wanted to join AliveAfter500Years's team. Not because of the team's prospects but because he could get closer to his idol. Although "Battle of the Century" had only started recently, the ID AliveAfter500Years would always be number one in his heart.
Jinro opened his mouth, intending to console this newcomer who had not yet officially stepped into the professional gaming circle when he heard Schwarzer say, "Ah! I forgot to remove my communications block!"
"Hahahaha, I also received it!" Schwarzer left behind his gloomy outlook in an instant and could not help but run around happily.
"Are you going to sign with Silver Wing?" Jinro asked.
"Of course!" Schwarzer nodded his head without any hesitation. He asked, "Are you guys not signing?"
Milo stood up calmly and dusted himself off. "Boy, you shouldn't rush it. This sort of thing needs a lot of consideration. Be careful you don't regret after signing."
Jasmine coldly nodded her head in agreement.
HWR's Dorrian, who was returning to being a free agent, said, "That's right, you need to think carefully about this."
"But he said 'Report at Silver Wing Tower's 50th floor tomorrow.' After tomorrow, will he still be accepting people?" Schwarzer asked.
A moment of silence.
After a while, Milo said, "If he no longer accepts, then so be it. After all, we are freelancers and free agents who don't wish to sign with any gaming club, let alone an entertainment company."
The other two amateurs replied, "We are just amateurs, there is no rush to change our professions."
HWR Dorrian said, "There are many clubs that want to sign me. Now my employers also wish to renew my contract.
Yanzhou Ocean University's Jake added, "My dad has received close to twenty invites."
"Oh, you guys continue to think it over. I shall log off first to buy tickets! I'm going to Qi'an City's Silver Wing to see AliveAfter500Years in person!" With that, Schwarzer impatiently disappeared offline.
The remaining seven fell into a strange silence once more and went offline one after another. After logging out, those living outside of Qi'an City all did the same thing—check on tickets and airfare.
Although they might have said there was no rush, their actions betrayed their words.