As things were picking up on the 50th floor, Du Ang was taking a videoconference call from an old friend.
Ji Polun was heading to the 50th floor every day, so his agent was worried. When he asked Ji Polun to help out, the kid was reluctant. How come he was so keen now? There had to be something shady going on behind the scenes.
"I heard your producer is from a black street. Did he somehow blackmail my guy into helping out?" Ji Polun’s agent was full of speculation.
"They’re not done shooting? I heard two days ago they were done with their eye shots." Du Ang was puzzled too.
"That’s why I think it’s odd. I’m not in Qi’an right now. Old Du, go take a look yourself. Maybe your guy pulled something on my guy. I hear folks from black streets are ruthless." Ji’s agent was being diplomatic—what he suspected was that Fang Zhao had threatened force against his client.
"Wait—Fang Zhao is just renting a room on a black street. He didn’t grow up on a black street. Also, just because you’re from a black street doesn’t mean you’re the mafia. Don’t be a bigot. I lived on a black street when I was young."
Ji’s agent was about to say something else, but Du Ang preempted him. "OK, OK. I understand your concerns. I’ll head up for a look in a bit. But rest assured—everything is fine. Fang Zhao isn’t that kind of character."
After hanging up, Du Ang realized he hadn’t dropped in on the 50th floor in a while. Even if Ji Polun was OK, as the manager in charge, he should put up pretenses.
He rode the elevator to the 50th floor. When the elevator doors opened, he saw Ji Polun huffing and puffing and moving equipment.
Du Ang: "…..." He suddenly questioned his judgment. An idol that relied on his looks like him couldn’t risk getting injured. If he did, he had to pay the company damages that would consume way more than a month’s wages.
"Uhm, Ji boy, come over here."
When Ji Polun saw it was Du Ang, he put down the equipment.
Du Ang took a close look at his face and didn’t see any signs of physical abuse. "Aren’t you done with the eye shots? How come you’re still here?" he asked.
"I don’t have anything else going on, so I decided to help out," Ji Polun responded.
Du Ang surveyed the floor. The 50th floor looked quite different—maybe it was the additional staff. He spotted Du Zhi also lugging equipment around nearby. "Where’s Fang Zhao?" he asked.
"He just stepped into his office." Ji Polun pointed to Fang Zhao’s office.
As Du Ang approached Fang Zhao’s office, Fang Zhao was getting ready to head out.
"Boss Du! Great timing. I was about to go to you," Fang Zhao said. "I’m about to start recording my first single. Can you book a recording studio for me?"
"The song is ready?" Du Ang took the paper score Fang Zhao handed over and uploaded the encrypted demo file. He pulled out his headsets and gave it a listen. He was also curious how Fang Zhao’s song was coming along.
He was a bit baffled by the score, but once he heard the demo, it came together.
No wonder the score looked weird. So Fang Zhao had decided on this style.
Du Ang lifted his head abruptly and gazed at Fang Zhao. "Did you… Did you compose this yourself?"
"This… this is the song you’re making a music video for?" Du Ang raised his voice, prompting the movers nearby to look his way.
"Yes." Fang Zhao wasn’t too alarmed by Du Ang’s response.
"Hold on. Put everything on hold. Wait until you hear from me." Du Ang dashed out. As for the original purpose of his visit, who gave a damn? Du Ang had only one mission now—to talk this over with someone. He needed to decide if he would actually release the single.
The head of the arrangement department, Ya Erlin, and the operations head, Julian, were quickly summoned.
"I say, Old Du, what’s the hurry? What’s wrong? Have things gone south on the virtual idol project? Let me put this out there—I’m not going to get involved with the virtual idol project," Ya Erlin said as he stepped into Du Ang’s office with Julian.
Du Ang didn’t speak, instead handing over two pairs of headsets he had prepared for the two.
"What’s going on? So secretive…" Ya Erlin wore the headsets reluctantly, but soon enough, he was hooked.
Julian's expression also indicated her surprise. "Where... where did you get this? Is this a new Pegasus release?"
"No, no," Ya Erlin blurted before Du Ang could answer. "At first glance, it’s a similar style, but there’s still a big discrepancy. This is not a Pegasus song. Not to mention that a Pegasus demo wouldn’t be this crude."
The "Pegasus" that Ya Erlin and Julian referred to was Flying Pegasus, a leading cooperative under Silver Wing. Ya Erlin had tried to join several times, to no avail. Flying Pegasus was home to Silver Wing’s top composers and arrangers, the cream of the crop.
"But if this isn’t a Pegasus song, who composed it?" Julian wasn’t an expert in composition or arrangement, but she knew this song would make waves if released. Besides a Pegasus member, who else could compose a song like this? If such a talent existed, he or she would have been recruited by Pegasus already.
"That’s right, Old Du, who wrote this? Who?" Ya Erlin demanded. Julian was a music outsider, but as a veteran arranger, he was already blown away by many aspects of the incomplete demo.
Du Ang wore a look of mixed feelings—proud, a bit sad, among other emotions.
He paused before saying, "Fang Zhao."
Du Ang rubbed his ears, which had just been pierced by two sharp cries, and sighed. "The composer is Fang Zhao."
Ya Erlin and Julian were speechless but glared at Du Ang with the same expression: you’re f*cking messing with me.
"Sigh, I’m not lying. I got this from the kid. As soon as I got it, I called you guys."
Ya Erlin took a deep breath. He was still in disbelief. "Fang Zhao can produce something like this, at his age?"
"What about his age? Don’t forget how well he did in the new talent contest." Du Ang hated when others dissed his composers.
"But this song is completely different from his entry in the new talent contest. This is…" Ya Erlin was agitated. He didn’t finish his sentence. He wouldn’t jump to conclusions until hearing the full song.
"Alright, let’s cut the bullshit. I’ve invited you here to help me decide. So what do you say, do I release this song or not? Will something go wrong if I do?" Du Ang asked.
"Of course! Why not?" Ya Erlin was more excited than Du Ang.
Du Ang shifted his gaze to Julian, waiting for her response. If Julian disagreed, even if they recorded the song, it wouldn’t see the light of day.
Julian returned the stare and smiled gently. "I agree with Ya Erlin. It’d be a such a shame not to release a song like this. I, for one, want to hear the complete version."
Julian was a big fan of Flying Pegasus’ work, yet the cooperative rarely released complete songs, even if you were willing to pay for a download. Lowly managers like her weren’t qualified to commission Pegasus members either.
"Alright, we’ll release it, then. Fang Zhao said he can start recording right away. As for the recording studio…" Du Ang gave Ya Erlin a glance.
"I’ll book a studio for him." Ya Erlin was close with the folks who ran the recording studios. It was easier for him to pull strings.
Ya Erlin had trouble breathing. He couldn’t wait to see the look on their faces when the Pegasus members heard this song.