The next day.
Fang Zhao had been called over last minute by Fiery Bird's Yanzhou branch for a meeting. As a member of the advisory team and evaluation panel, other than playing the game and sending electronic files over to Fiery Bird, every once in a while they would be gathered for a meeting. Of course, it was not necessary to attend in person—an online conference would be enough—but Fang Zhao headed over not just for this. Zachary, the engineer from Fiery Bird's Yanzhou branch who had helped Fang Zhao install the 10th-generation console, wanted to show him the latest data from his machine's usage.
Before he went over, Fang Zhao made a call to Wayne and informed him to wait at the 50th floor today.
Even if Fang Zhao did not say so, Wayne would still run to the 50th floor and sit down. Yesterday Fang Zhao had told him there would definitely be a result today. Wayne had not been able to sleep at all last night, as he'd spent the whole night thinking. Today he was even more mentally exhausted and his eyes were bloodshot. When he reached the office, he did not get any rest, only using some apparatus to give himself a little relief.
Wayne tried fishing for more information from Zu Wen and the others. "Zu Wen, did your manager tell you anything?"
"Yeah, Boss said there might be a few newcomers today." Zu Wen and the others were also curious. They had no idea who the newcomers that Fang Zhao had mentioned were.
Wayne asked a few more questions and realized that Zu Wen and the others really did not know much, so all he could do was wait in the virtual project's lounge.
Today Fang Zhao had not let Zuo Yu drive and handed him an assignment. In the message that Fang Zhao had left for the eight, other than the message asking them to report at Silver Wing's 50th floor, he had also left a contact number, Zuo Yu's work number, which was different from his own personal number. On normal days, they would use this number for certain things.
At 9 a.m., when many companies had just started work, the ground floor of Silver Wing tower was filled with people hurriedly coming and going.
Zuo Yu received a call, went down, and saw Schwarzer, who was toting a large travel backpack and curiously examining his surroundings.
"Yes, that's me!" Schwarzer's eyes were full of excitement. "And you are?"
"I spoke to you just now. My boss's instructions are to bring you up."
Zuo Yu did not dither for long at the entrance. There were many reporters there and it was not good to loiter for too long.
"Do you need help with your bag?"
"It's fine, thanks." Schwarzer sized up Zuo Yu. After they entered the lift, he asked. "Is your boss AliveAfter500Years?"
Zuo Yu looked him in the eye. "My boss is the manager of Silver Wing's virtual projects department."
"Oh." Schwarzer felt a little disappointed, but he still spiritedly asked, "That virtual projects department on the 50th floor? The place where the SilverWing50PolarLight team is at? Is AliveAfter500Years there too?"
"Will he come today?"
"Yes, but he has other matters to attend to; he will come in a little later."
"Hahaha, it's all good as long as he comes!"
The moment Schwarzer followed Zuo Yu and stepped inside the 50th floor's virtual project's department, Wayne's eyes followed him.
"Schwarzer?!" Wayne remembered every single person on the list of names given to Fang Zhao. Schwarzer was still a university student. Wayne had originally wanted to sign Schwarzer on as a reserve, but because his performance in a university e-sports competition had been too outstanding, a whole bunch of other clubs had wanted him and Wayne hadn't had a way to beat them. Wayne had never expected to see Schwarzer here!
This is the newcomer Fang Zhao spoke about?!
"Hi, I am Wayne, manager of Silver Wing's gaming department." Wayne was so excited, his face turned red and his eyes brimmed with tears of excitement. After worrying so much for these few days, they finally had one! And a seedling full off potential at that!
"Oh, hi." Schwarzer put down his bag and looked all around, examining the fabled and mysterious 50th floor of Silver Wing. He had really entered and was sitting on Silver Wing's 50th floor sofa! At the thought of meeting his idol in a bit, Schwarzer got even more excited, thoroughly surveying the layout of this place. There was a thick "Battle of the Century" atmosphere all around, probably because the virtual idol Polar Light was endorsing the game. There was also a photograph of a curly-haired dog in a golden frame.
At the side was a display cabinet filled with models of Old Era stuff such as bicycles, motorcycles guns etc. There was also a model of Polar Light and a "100-Year Period of Destruction" series Divine Punishment storage card.
Schwarzer shot up from the sofa and rushed over. "Is that... is that the 'T-Rex' model that beat 2S and BOOM in the match back than? This material, it is the limited edition one!"
Zu Wen and the others came over to look at the new guy. They no longer kept up with university e-sports scene, but when they'd spoken to their juniors, they had heard of the name Schwarzer and knew that this little fellow had skill.
"You can touch it if you like. This was sent straight from Fiery Bird's Yanzhou branch. However, you have to be careful. If you break it, our boss will get angry. And the consequences for making him angry are very severe," Zu Wen said.
Beside him, Wayne had been thoroughly disregarded.
Wayne had sent Schwarzer an invitation message before, but unfortunately, he hadn't gotten a reply. It had probably been deleted a long time ago. Wayne was also not foolish enough to bring up the matter. The atmosphere now was so good, why would he make things awkward? After all, it was not something to be ashamed of, and besides, Schwarzer seemed to have totally forgotten about it.
"About that, Schwarzer, are you willing to sign with Silver Wing? Do you want to sit down and discuss the contract?" Wayne asked.
"Contract? Lets not rush into things, I want to wait till supergod AliveAfter500Years returns before discussing." Schwarzer might be a fanboy and a little impulsive when it came decision-making, but he was no idiot. Signing the contract depended on whether AliveAfter500Years would come. If he did not get to see him in person, there was no way he would sign a contract that easily.
Wayne still wanted to say something when Zuo Yu's communications device rang again.
"I'm heading down again to pick another one."
"An-another one?" Wayne was no longer in a rush to discuss a contract with Schwarzer, nor could he sit still. He just stood there, staring straight at the door.
After a while, the door opened and Zuo Yu walked in together with a guy wearing a cap and shades.
When the guy took off his cap and shades, Wayne astonishedly exclaimed, "Dorrian?!"
Dorrian, a member of HWR's main team who had reached the end of his contract. Previously, there had been a lot of speculation from the media regarding the choice he would make, whether renewing his contract with HWR or signing with another club. No one had expected that he would actually be here!
A big smile appeared on Wayne's face. Silver Wing intends to snatch players from under those e-sports club's noses!
Dorrian laughed as he saw Schwarzer, who had his hands all over a model. "You are rather early, huh. Even earlier than me even though I stay in Qi'an City."
Schwarzer was reluctant to put the model back in its place. "Hehe, I'm just anxious to meet my idol. I wonder how many will come today.
Wayne's ears pricked up when he heard Schwarzer say those words. Does that mean there are still others?
Dorrian was the same as Schwarzer; he would not be discussing anything related to contracts until he met AliveAfter500Years in person.
Half an hour later, Zuo Yu's communication device rang.
This time, Wayne could not even stand still. He followed Zuo Yu down to pick the person up. When he saw Jinro, he suddenly felt a rising ecstacy in his heart and had to take few deep breaths to force himself to calm down.
Jinro, this was Jinro! The former captain of 2S's main team!
Due to a dispute years ago, Jinro had retired and no longer livened up the professional circles, but he had not completely disappeared from the gaming world. People just rarely mentioned him much. It was not that e-sports clubs did not want him; rather, it was rumored that Jinro had no desire to return to the professional circle and there was not much activity from him. What methods had Fang Zhao actually used to be able to entice such a person over?!
No matter how many could be signed in the end, these parties coming down was already amazing.
Schwarzer, Dorrian, and Jinro played board and card games as they waited. After that, the fourth and fifth people arrived in quick succession. They were the two from the amateur circles, August and Yu Zhongqing. These two had quite a reputation in Yanzhou's gaming circles and were on Wayne's list. Back when Wayne had sent out the invite, Yu Zhongqing had replied with a rejection message, saying he did not want to change his profession at the moment. Looking at things now, Wayne had been rejected for not being qualified enough!
Milo and Jasmine arrived around 2 p.m., and the last to arrive was Jake, as his father had purposely wasted time, but at Jake's insistence, they'd still arrived before 3 p.m.
"We are here just to check things out and have not decided whether or not to sign," Jake's father said quickly after entering. He still hoped that his son would sign with one of Yanzhou's Big Five e-sports clubs. After all, the Big Five's reputation was everywhere. Even if he did not sign with the Big Five, being a main team member of a decent e-sports club was fine too. But why were they at an entertainment company? Didn't this sort of company put profits over everything else? Rumor was that these sorts of entertainment companies were only suitable for retirees, and professional e-sports athletes would only consider it after they were past their prime. Jake's career had not yet officially started, so what prospects would joining such a company bring? It didn't make sense! Had his son been brainwashed?
Regarding their respective manager's or assistant's limited understanding, the eight did not bother to explain. They just chilled and played board and card games on Silver Wing's 50th floor.
Zu Wen, Rodney, and the others did not show much expression on their faces, but in their own department group chat, they could not help but excitedly talk about it.
Among this group, Jinro and Milo had risen to prominence during the period when Zu Wen and the others were still in secondary school. Especially Jinro, who had been extremely popular during their secondary school days. Back then, Zu Wen had even become a 2S fan and had bought a set of 2S clothes with their sword and stars insignia. When Jinro had retired, he'd no longer paid as much attention to 2S.
Time passed slowly till it was 4 p.m. The eight playing games seemed a little distracted, raising their heads to look at the door once in awhile.
Zuo Yu's communications device rang again.
Wayne looked over anxiously and was about to ask whether a ninth person was coming when Zuo Yu said, "It's Boss."
Everyone around, including the eight playing games, stopped what they were doing and looked over.
"...They are all here... OK... yes... yes... I understand." Once the call ended, Zuo Yu said, "Boss is coming over, prepare a conference room."
Schwarzer had put down his cards and was sitting down and eagerly awaiting his idol's arrival. "That means supergod will also be coming over?!"
Five minutes later.
The doors of the 50th floor virtual projects department opened and Fang Zhao strode in. Scanning everyone in the lounge, he told Wayne, "To the conference room first."
All eight had done preliminary research on Silver Wing's 50th floor virtual projects department and knew Fang Zhao was the young composer and also the manager of the department. After Fang Zhao had walked in, they had all glanced behind his back, but there was only the door closing.
"Where is the supergod?" Schwarzer asked, still staring at the door.
"Where is AliveAfter500Years?" Milo also asked.
Fang Zhao faced them. "That's me."
The eight: "..."
Even though his voice was not loud, the two words kept repeating in the heads of those eight. Each word rang like the sound of thunder, frying their minds blank as they remained stunned and dumbfounded.
Half a minute later, Jinro then took a deep breath and broke the silence in the room. "Are you... being serious?"
"This joke is too cold. I can't even bring myself to laugh." Jake's face was rigid. He could not imagine the globally ranked number one, an expert who had so tyrannically oppressed them like he had been chopping vegetables, would actually be around the same age as himself!?
Schwarzer pointed a trembling finger at Fang Zhao, his face full of shock. "Who did you say you were?"
Jasmine, who always looked cold and expressionless, had widened her eyes as though she had seen a ghost.
Milo stood up and his eyes scanned Fang Zhao from head to toe, but he found no trace of similarity with the expert in-game. "Impossible! I don't believe this!" The Fang Zhao before them was a youngster who dabbled in art, totally different from what he had imagined.
Fang Zhao welcomed their looks of doubt and measure and did not get angry. "It's all right, let's have another round."
Milo: "..." He suddenly had the urge to slap himself.
Fang Zhao glanced at Zu Wen. "Let's use the game consoles for a bit."
"No problem!" Zu Wen inquired with the others and eagerly went to open their gaming room. He did a simple tidying up of all the junk they left after gaming on normal days.
Inside the gaming room, other than Zu Wen and the other's consoles. there were also the five machines brought over previously from the gaming department that belonged to the other five, enough for 9 people to use.
Walking into the gaming room and seeing those consoles, the eight of them simultaneously felt a nervous apprehension, but that did not quell the doubt within their hearts. They still chose to unravel the truth in-game! Whether he was the real deal or an imposter, they would find out once they tried!
Five minutes later.
Wayne and the others waiting outside had not yet touched their tea when the doors to the gaming room opened. Fang Zhao walked out first, seemingly no different from before. Behind him, the others came out one after the other, but...
Schwarzer's head was full of sweat, Jake's face was pale, the veins on Milo's head seemed like they were going to rupture, and even the usually steady Jinro seemed dazed. The eight all had different expressions, but the outcome was all but written on their faces—a complete thrashing.
Two hours later.
A radiant Wayne stepped out of the conference room taking big strides, beaming as though he had won the lottery grand prize of a few hundred million. When he stepped into the elevator, he was still on a call with someone. "Tell publicity's side that the virtual projects department and gaming department want to hold a joint press conference. We are going to sign some new members!"