The theme song for a recruitment drive had to project a commanding presence. It couldn't be soft. It also had to be hefty. Naturally, Duan Qianji's husband, Major General Hong Lou, was clueless about music and couldn't tell the difference. But others who belonged to the Yanzhou military command could. They had spotted a gem, and when they noticed it was a Silver Wing release, they sought out Hong Lou.
You had to save the good stuff for your own. Even though she stood to suffer a loss, given that Hong Lou had asked for the song specifically, Duan Qianji decided to keep the rights of the song within her home continent.
The song was noticed by the Yanzhou military command and slated to anchor a recruitment drive, which meant the series was quite popular. Even if the masses didn't like the song, as long as the military did, that was a good thing. Silver Wing had to borrow equipment and locations from the military for its film productions every year. Now the military wanted something from them. It was good to do this favor. There would be less backlash the next time they wanted to borrow equipment from the military.
After hanging up with her husband, Duan Qianji asked her assistant, "Any word on the Fiery Bird poll?"
"Voting has started in Huangzhou. Voting in Yanzhou might be held off until Memorial Day."
The online poll of virtual idols for the Fiery Bird endorsement deal was actually organized by Rising Dragon, a world-renowned gaming publication. It had nothing to do with Fiery Bird, but it received quite a bit of attention globally.
Given that Rising Dragon was a media outlet from Huangzhou, voting naturally kicked off in Huangzhou. The voting order of the other continents was determined randomly by computer. By custom, voting in all 12 continents took three months. Fiery Bird was scheduled to finalize its virtual idol endorsers for all continents by May.
Typically, Fiery Bird consulted Rising Dragon's online poll before making their decisions. Most of the time, the top vote-getter in each continent was awarded the endorsement deal.
Rising Dragon typically completed voting for four continents in a month. Yanzhou was the sixth continent on this year's list, scheduled for early February.
"Send word to Fang Zhao to try to complete the last movement before New Era Memorial Day and aim for a Feb. 8 release," Duan Qianji ordered.
Jan. 28 was New Era Memorial Day. The Period of Destruction ended and the New Era began on that day 500-plus years ago. It was a day celebrated worldwide, the most important festival in all 12 continents. The occasion was typically marked by a holiday of at least seven days. The exact length of the vacation was determined by individual companies in each continent.
Silver Wing gave its employees a week off, although entertainment industry types could never really take a vacation. They were typically busy hitting the road and attending various celebratory events in different cities. It was the busiest time of the year and the most profitable. Even if you ordered them to take time off, they wouldn't be willing. Celebrities who rested during this period were either ill or out of favor and couldn't swing a single invitation.
Duan Qianji wanted to ask Fang Zhao to attend a few events with the Polar Light project team to boost their profile, but she eventually decided against it because she was concerned about the progress of the fourth movement. The most important thing now was to focus and complete the fourth movement with a flourish. Memorial Day celebrations were secondary. An even more crucial endorsement deal was up for grabs after Memorial Day. That was of greater importance to Silver Wing.
As for Ming Cang, the deputy head of the Yanzhou Music Association, Duan Qianji had given him a heads up.
After the third movement was released, Ming Cang had posted an emotional video on Yanzhou's largest social media website. It was impossible for him to be unbiased because of his son's illness, so he couldn't post comment on the official website of the Yanzhou Music Association. He could only speak in a personal capacity.
Ming Cang was still quite moved, but compared to his response to the second movement, he seemed in better spirits. His cheeks were flush. The jaded look brought on by his son's condition had disappeared. He wore a bright smile.
"Ming Ye's condition has improved. His medical team is following up. His attending doctor says that the series clearly has an impact on the Hull virus, but only the entire series, the four movements altogether, qualifies as a full course of treatment. A breakthrough probably can't be expected until the full treatment is completed. I'm looking forward to the fourth movement. Thanks again to Polar Light and the Polar Light project team."
Duan Qianji's concerns had vanished after she watched Ming Cang's video. Quite a few hospitals in Yanzhou had already dubbed the "100-Year Period of Destruction" series the "Hull Virus Treatment Tune." From a business perspective, once research had proven the series' efficacy in treating the virus, the sky was the limit.
"Tell Fang Zhao the priority is quality. Now that he has completed three movements, the fourth movement will be easier. As long as the quality is there, everything else will fall in place. All he has to do is focus on completing the series. As for marketing and other matters, tell him not to worry about it," Duan Qianji ordered her assistant.
"Then... what about our client in Leizhou?" the assistant asked.
"Tell them that the rights to the third movement have been sold."
Zaro's agent relayed Silver Wing's message to his client.
"What? The rights have been sold? They don't want more money?" Zaro was furious.
The agent nodded vigorously. Ten million for a song could be written off as Senior Master's one-off indulgence, but as for sweetening the offer, he would be cautious. Zaro had ordered him to spare no expense in buying the full rights to the song, but as the Senior Master's bookkeeper, he would never spend more than 50 million on a song. In his mind, it wasn't worth it. It was uneconomical and irrational. So he could finally rest easy when he got word from Silver Wing.
"Silver Wing are adamant about not selling us the rights," the agent said.
"Then let's poach the composer."
"We can't. Silver Wing has done a good of keeping him under wraps. Even folks in Yanzhou have no idea who he is."
The agent was in a tough spot. Poaching talent was harder than buying a song. Silver Wing was no fool. You could tell by the way they guarded the composer's identity. Businesses acted out of self interest. Every move was calculated. Silver Wing had to have bigger plans in mind. But that was the purview of the music industry. They were just making movies for fun. They wouldn't be affected. They were also from a different continent. In the worst-case scenario, they could buy another song from Silver Wing next time.
"Then let's poach him when he unmasks himself. Aren't there four movements in total? Three are already out. The fourth will be released soon." Another thought struck Zaro and he started laughing. "It won't be long. Silver Wing wants Polar Light in the running for the Fiery Bird endorsement deal."
Online polling had started in Huangzhou already. Leveraging his status as a Renault and the favored grandson of the Leizhou governor, Zaro had learned from a Rising Dragon source that Polar Light was Silver Wing's candidate for the endorsement deal in Yanzhou.
"We can afford to wait." Zaro kicked up his feet. "What's the latest score for 'God of War?'"
"It's 5.3 now."
"What about 'King of Snipers?'"
"Hahahaha!" Zaro started laughing with no regard for decorum.
His agent flashed a cynical smile too.
Why were they so happy?
Because the rating for "God of War" was rising while the score for "King of Snipers" was slipping. In three days, the second film had lost 0.4 points. It was an alarming rate of decline for the critically acclaimed movie.
The following comment had appeared online: "I don't know why, but when I was watching 'King of Snipers,' all I could think of was the song that played during the final battle scene in 'God of War.'"
"Actually, the score for 'King of Snipers' isn't bad, but in contrast, after watching 'God of War,' it lacks oomph."
It was like having a heavy dish and then trying one that was lighter, of the gourmet variety. There was bound to be a difference.
Many fans searched online for the soundtrack for "God of War." There were calls for Wireless Media to release the song played during the final battle as a single, but the studio never responded. Eventually, someone discovered that the memorable song was part of a series performed by a virtual idol over in Yanzhou.
"They actually used someone from Yanzhou?"
"What's the name of the virtual idol? What's the name of the song? Let me check."
"Polar Light, from Yanzhou, and the song is called 'Mission.' It's the third movement of the '100-Year Period of Destruction' series. Oh, the first three movements are available for download in Yanzhou for one dollar a pop."
"Wow, copyrighted music is actually available for download in Yanzhou? Us music fans in Leizhou can forget about it."
There were many jealous fans in Leizhou. Copyrighted music in Leizhou was usually made-to-order and appeared only in ads and videos. They were not available for download. If you wanted to listen to a copyrighted song, you had to watch the ad or the original video—unless the record label released a single.
The quandary made many think about Zaro, the Senior Master with little restraint but plenty of cash to splurge.
"Have Senior Master Zaro buy the rights to the song. Actually, have him buy all the rights to the song. That way we can listen to it."
Zaro read comments along these lines, thinking, I want to buy the rights too, but Silver Wing ain't selling.
While the song generated quite a bit of interest online, not everyone was willing to watch "God of War" just to hear it. "Mission" could not be sampled in Leizhou. Even if the Leizhou fans managed to log in to a streaming website in Yanzhou, they could only play the first two movements. Silver Wing had blocked sampling of the third movement outside of Yanzhou.
Just when Leizhou fans thought they would never hear "Mission" in a context other than the movie, a video started circulating online. It was titled "A Mission Calling—the Earth-Shattering Army of Yanzhou."
The Yanzhou military command released rare footage of its three divisions taking part in drills and engaging in combat. The cinematography was slick and explosive, especially the Air Force footage, which projected power and elegance. And the score was a magical touch. Anyone who watched the video would be burning with passion and inspired to fight.
The video generated heated discussion online. Many folks compared it to the recruitment videos in their own continents. They realized that their videos were visually OK, but somehow, they paled in comparison to the Yanzhou video.
Folks in Rongzhou were genuinely pissed off.
"Earth-shattering? Have you forgotten about Rongzhou?"
The planet's 12 continents were split into eight main continents and four special continents. Yanzhou was one of the eight major continents, populated mostly by civilians. Rongzhou was one of the four special continents, home to the world's largest military base and the headquarters of the global military alliance. The entire continent was under military-style management. Most of its residents were descendants of soldiers. All local schools—from the primary level to university—were structured in the manner of military academies. Rongzhou was widely considered the most powerful continent in terms of military might.
That was why people in Rongzhou were miffed after the Yanzhou recruitment video went viral.
"Mission calling my ass! It's a f*cking propaganda video, pure and simple."
"Just cut to the chase. If you want to brainwash folks, get straight to the point."
"How can a tiny, crappy military district like Yanzhou shatter the world?"
Folks from Yanzhou and Rongzhou started quarreling online, while people from other continents took in the spectacle.
But everyone knew that online talk meant nothing. Who was willing to actually fly over and fight?
That was implausible, so they would battle in a different way.
"See you in 'Battle of the Century' in October!"
The world-renowned gaming studio Fiery Bird was launching their new game, "Battle of the Century," in October.