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It’s Not Supposed to be Like This

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Draven was stunned and Corki and Braum were attacking him in the middle of the bot lane. Around the bottom ring of the lane were three brushes. Zhang Hao’s Lissandra finished teleporting to the one on the far left, closest to the Blue outer tower. Above the lane, the ground dropped, giving way to a river. Team Guangzhou’s Jarvan IV emerged from here, spear in hand.

Team Guangzhou’s Thresh was caught, awkwardly, on Red team’s side of the bot lane. He’d missed his Death Sentence on Corki and now had to run the distance. He shouted over the team’s voice chat, “Corki! Get the Corki!”

“On it!” Team Guangzhou’s Jungler replied. He pressed down on his E key and then the Q. His Jarvan threw his standard up in the air. It arced over the Corki and planted firmly in the ground. He then stabbed his spear at the standard with Dragon Strike! When the spear and standard connected, they glued together. A strong force pulled on Jarvan IV’s arms and he held on tightly as the standard pulled on the spear.

Zeng Rui’s eyes opened wide. He shouted over the team’s voice chat, “Tang Tang!”

Tang Bingyao moved when the first syllable from Zeng Rui’s cry boomed in her ears. She pressed the W key to activate Valkyrie! The engine of Corki’s helicopter revved up. He gained height and speed as he flew away from Jarvan IV, dropping a trail of bombs behind him. They exploded into a blazing inferno and burned at Jarvan IV’s health bar!

All the while, Zhang Hao’s Lissandra cast Glacial Path. The claw of ice tore through the earth straight towards Seo’s Draven. And when the claw was upon him, Lissandra activated the skill again. She blinked in right when the stun from Concussive Blow wore off. She then raised her hands up in the air and shrieked, “Ring of Frost!” A shockwave of ice blasted out from her and froze Draven stiff again!

Corki’s ultimate skill was called Missile Barrage. He slowly charged up long range missiles which he could then fire. His distance from Seo’s Draven was too great for an auto attack. But it was just in range for a Missile Barrage. The missile flew through the air, narrowly missed two minions, and then exploded on Draven. It destroyed what little remained of his health bar.

You have slain an enemy!

Team Guangzhou’s Jungler gritted his teeth, struggling to ignore the shouting and yelling coming from his team’s voice chat. He knew Seo was mad, he didn’t need to understand Korean to hear that. And he knew Goalie was also frustrated. Not just with Seo, but also with him and their Support for not saving Seo. He pressed down on his keyboard harder than he usually would and activated Jarvan IV’s ultimate skill–Cataclysm! His Jarvan IV leaped up above the Corki and then fell back down to the ground. Letting gravity take over, his heavy armour pulling him faster and faster, he slammed down with such force that he terraformed the earth into an arena!

“Jarvan IV! Jarvan IV!” Zeng Rui ordered over the team’s voice chat.

Zhang Hao nodded and had his Lissandra run at Jarvan IV. He stopped at the edge of the arena, pressing against the earthen wall, and cast Frozen Tomb! Spire of ice erupted from the ground and pierced Jarvan IV! They dealt terrifying magic damage and immobilized him! Lissandra followed up with an auto attack and then Ice Shard! A small chunk of ice slammed into Jarvan IV, followed by a far larger chunk. All the while, Tang Bingyao’s Corki unloaded every bomb and missile aboard his helicopter until he claimed Jarvan IV’s life!

Double kill!

Team Guangzhou’s Thresh witnessed this all go down. At first he was trying to catch up to Draven, then to Jarvan IV, and finally he realized there was no saving either of them. He ran straight past Jarvan IV while Corki was dealing the last few auto attacks and went for the safety of his outer tower. Until suddenly the ground disappeared beneath his feet. A cold aura seeped in his bones, followed by a terrifying force knocking him up in the air!

Zeng Rui grinned. He’d cast Braum’s ultimate–Glacial Fissure–just in time to stop Thresh from retreating. He ordered over the team’s voice chat, “Thresh! Thresh! Thresh!”

Tang Bingyao and Zhang Hao did as he said. They ran at the knocked up Thresh and attacked him. He fell back to the ground and tried to run. But three enemy Champions were on his heels, missiles and ice slamming into his back and draining his health bar. He reached his outer tower and he thought for a second that he might actually make it out alive, barely. But what followed was a long range missile fired by Corki, claiming his life.

Triple kill!

“Triple! Triple! Triple! Triple! Tang Tang triple! Triple!” Su Xue screamed, beyond herself. She looked at Zephyr and then pointed with her head at the monitor, as if asking ‘did you see? Did you? Did you?’. She then leaned back into her microphone and yelled, “WOOOOOOOOOO! TEAM SHANGHAI!”

Zephyr laughed, infected by Su Xue’s excitement, and shouted into his microphone, “WOOOOOOOO! TEAM SHANGHAI FOR THE WIN!”

“WOOOOOOOOO!”

“SICK OUTPLAY!”

“GO TEAM SHANGHAI GO! GOOOOOOO!”

“HOLY SWEET MOTHER OF ALL! STOMP THOSE KOREANS!”

“Gimme some of what those casters are having!”

Su Xue looked at Zephyr and listened to the crowd losing it. I-I… I shouldn’t have been so excited for Team Shanghai! I’m a caster! I need to be impartial! She chewed on her lips, waiting for the cheers to die down a bit, and then analysed, “It was a really well coordinated counter-engage by Team Shanghai.”

“Felt to me like they knew the Jarvan IV was coming for a gank, even though there weren’t any wards to reveal him,” Zephyr chimed in.

Su Xue nodded and continued, “I’ve watched a ton of games from Team Shanghai. Zeng Rui, their Support, he’s really on top of these things. So often he just knows where the opponent is and what he can and can’t do. I’m guessing that he expected the gank and prepared for the countergank.”

Zephyr glanced at the monitor showing Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth and concluded, “That’s some really high level support right there if that’s true. Either way, phenomenal play by Team Shanghai! That Corki is crazy fed now! She’s 4/1! No one’s gonna stop her anytime soon!”

Sun Ruinian sat in the player seating area watching the game on the large LCD screen, stunned. People had always looked up to him for his skills as an ad-carry. His peers lauded him and fans called him the second coming of Shi Hang. They liked to exaggerate. He didn’t believe he was that good. But he did know that he was one of the best, if not the best ad-carry at the Winter Collegiate Cup and that he had a good, realistic chance of going professional. He slowly shook his head and mumbled, “Tang Tang… That… That was something else!”

Zuo Cheng looked at his ad-carry and team captain and said, “I know right! Her Corki is great! I didn’t even know she played that Champion!”

“The level of talent she has,” Sun Ruinian started. “Her feel for the game… You can see her getting better every game! I felt it during our scrims against them, and now I’m seeing it happen ingame.” He glanced at Zuo Cheng and continued, “You saw how she was being pushed back earlier, yeah? That wasn’t for show. She was being pushed back. And then it’s like she flipped a switch. Suddenly we see the Tang Tang who can beat me…”

“Mm-mhm! Mm-mhm!” Zuo Cheng replied, nodding. He added, “That’s probably game. I don’t see Team Guangzhou clawing themselves out of this one.”

“Me neither,” Sun Ruinian agreed.

“What the hell happened there!” Goalie exclaimed in Korean. He turned his head to look at Seo and continued, “We’re here to show these dogs what real players look like! How can you die to them?”

Seo glowered, watching Team Shanghai secure the first Dragon of the game on his dull grey monitor. He argued through gritted teeth, “It’s these damn teammates! How is it my fault that Irelia wasted her Teleport? We gave Lissandra a free gank! And what about you? Why aren’t you carrying harder? You’re going even at best!”

“At least I’m not losing!” Goalie countered. He then looked back at his screen and narrowed his eyes. This Talon… He’s good. I can’t even jump in to deal some poke damage and I don’t think I’ve hit an Ethereal Chain in a few minutes now! He just keeps on dodging them! This wasn’t supposed to go like this! I was going to show him what a real LeBlanc looks like! DAMMIT!

Seo glared at his screen through similarly narrowed eyes. He could come up with a thousand and one excuses, some of which might convince everyone around him. But it wouldn’t convince him. Somewhere deep inside, he knew why he lost that fight. Because he’d been too careless. Lissandra getting the jump on him should’ve never happened. That was all on him. He clenched his fist and resisted the urge to punch his screen, or teammate.

“Whatever,” Goalie said in Korean. “We still need to win this.” He briefly paused, switching to the few words of Chinese he’d picked up during his time in China, then ordered, “Freeze lanes, farm. Jarvan IV, Irelia, gank me!”

At 12 minutes, Irelia slipped away from her lane. She ran down the river, past the Baron pit, and then turned left into Red Team’s topside Jungle. Jarvan IV was already waiting for her there. They walked to the small alcove right next to the entrance into the mid lane. Here they waited for the order from Goalie, who was pushing a minion wave into Red team’s outer tower.

Zephyr leaned in towards his microphone and said, “Looks like we’ve got a 3 man towerdive coming right up!”

“You don’t gank Lin Feng,” Su Xue mumbled. Wait, casting! She smiled and added, “Lin Feng is really good. And he’s on Talon! I’m thinking that he’ll outplay Team Guangzhou and get out ahead in this gank!”

Goalie gave the order. Irelia dashed at Lin Feng’s Talon with Blade Surge and Jarvan IV dashed at Lin Feng’s Talon with his flag-toss combo. From the other side of the outer tower, Goalie jumped in with Distortion! He followed up with Sigil of Malice and completed his combo with a set of Ethereal Chains!

Lin Feng saw the skills as if in slow motion. Two were dodgeable. Ethereal Chains and the flag-toss combo. Those were also the two skills that would kill him if he got hit by them. He flicked his mouse to the side and activated Flash. A veil of light fell over his Talon and carried him a short distance, just far enough to dodge the skills from LeBlanc and Jarvan IV.

Team Guangzhou’s Jarvan IV followed his failed flag-toss combo with his ultimate–Cataclysm! He leaped up above Lin Feng’s Talon and then came down on him with such force that he terraformed the ground into an arena! He locked himself, with Talon and Irelia inside, while Goalie’s LeBlanc could fire her skills from outside.

Lin Feng narrowed his eyes. The outer tower had targeted Irelia, making her his easiest target. I’m coming for you! He had his Talon blink behind Irelia and then slashed her throat! He followed this Cutthroat up with an auto attack, the wounds causing Irelia bleed damage! And then he cast his ultimate. He threw a large number of daggers out around him, using the brief moment of confusion as the daggers cut through all three Champions attacking him to disappear into the surroundings.

“That’s Shadow Assault! Talon’s cast his ultimate!” Su Xue shoutcasted.

Zephyr continued, “Team Shanghai is collapsing on mid! Liss, Grag and Braum are all coming!”

Su Xue glanced at the minimap before quickly focusing back on the fight. She clenched both her fists and said, “This might become another 3-0 for Team Shanghai!”

Goalie stared at his screen, laser focused. “Care!” he shouted over the team’s voice chat. Then he placed a vision ward on the ground. A pink shroud exploded outwards and revealed all that was hidden. Talon’s shadow slowly formed and then the Champion himself did. Goalie smiled and cast Mimic: Ethereal Chains! The illusory chains struck Talong and wrapped around him.

Lin Feng grimaced. Ah, crap! I got hit. Guess I’m still not there for a 1vs3 against these guys. He shrugged the disappointment off and focused on what he could do. Kill Irelia. The energy shots from the tower and his attacks had whittled her health down and the root from Ethereal Chains wouldn’t come into effect for another second. He stopped dodging, stopped trying to survive. His fingers glided over his keyboard as he activated Rake, Noxian Diplomacy, and the second half of his ultimate skill. Talon threw a cone of daggers in front of him. They sliced through Irelia! He followed up by plunging his hand blade into Irelia! And he finished it off by tugging on the strings of all the daggers around him. They came flying back, cutting through LeBlanc, Jarvan IV and Irelia.

You have slain an enemy!

You have been slain!

“Haaah!” Lin Feng exclaimed, letting go of his mouse and keyboard. He relaxed back in his gaming chair and chuckled. His screen had turned grey and the announcer reminded him that he had really died. But that was fine. He got the kill on Irelia. More importantly, LeBlanc and Jarvan IV were out of position and the rest of his team was collapsing on them. He said over the team’s voice chat, “Get ‘em, boys!”

Zeng Rui focused on the game. He ordered over the team’s voice chat, “Zhang Hao. LeBlanc first! Lock her down!”

“On it!” Zhang Hao exclaimed. His Lissandra was right above the mid lane. Glacial Path! An icy claw tore through the ground and paved the road to LeBlanc! When it was almost upon her, Zhang Hao reactivated the skill. Lissandra blinked towards the icy claw and then cast Frozen Tomb on LeBlanc! Ice spires shot up from the ground and pierced LeBlanc, locking her up within the outer tower’s range!

Goalie started trembling and shaking. His teeth chattered in pure rage. His nose twitched, as did his eyebrows. He clenched his fist and yelled, “Fucking dogs!” But he couldn’t move his eyes away from the screen. He watched Zhang Hao’s Lissandra attack him with an Ice Shard. Then, just as the stun from Frozen Tomb was about to break, Lissandra froze him to the ground with Ring of Frost. The tower’s energy shots were dealing too much damage. “FUCKING DOGS!” he screamed.

You have been slain.

“That’s more like it!” Zuo Cheng said. He looked around him, hesitated for a brief moment, then leaped to his feet and shouted, “WOOOOOOOO TEAM SHANGHAI! WIN FENG! WIN FENG!”

Sun Ruinian glanced at his Midlaner and laughed. He said, “You’re right, he won that fight 1vs3. Practically, anyway. He kept them occupied long enough for the rest of his team to collapse on them. The Jarvan IV is also dead.”

“Exactly!” Zuo Cheng replied. He grinned and continued, “This was only to be expected! He beat the cap! What’s this damn Korean compared to the cap? A NOBODY!”

Team Guangzhou’s Jarvan IV was the last one alive. He ran back where he came from, Red team’s topside Jungle. His teammates were screaming in his ears in Korean, Chinese and another language he didn’t recognize. He tried to ignore them and focused on the minimap. There was a large number of wards revealing the surrounding area. He saw the Lissandra and Braum coming from the mid lane. His own Support, Thresh, was running through Blue team’s top side Jungle towards him. He shouted over the team’s voice chat, “Get to the Baron pit and Lantern me out of he–”

An Xin’s Gragas Body Slammed over a Jungle wall into Team Guangzhou’s Jarvan IV and knocked him up into the air. She then drank an entire barrel empty to power herself up and attacked with ferocious might–Drunken Rage! She then retrieved another barrel and rolled it towards Jarvan IV. A moment later, it exploded.

“Hahaha! That Gragas! Jarvan IV had no clue what was coming for him!”

“Jarvan IV was already looking at the Baron pit! Sucks to be him!”

“Team Shanghai turning another fight around!”

“Woooooooo!”

Team Guangzhou’s Thresh arrived in the Baron pit and threw his lantern, trying to help Jarvan IV. But when Jarvan IV started running again, an Explosive Cask sent him flying away from the lantern and towards Zhang Hao’s Lissandra and Zeng Rui’s Braum.

Zhang Hao’s eyes widened in pleasant surprise. He laughed and threw an Ice Shard at Jarvan IV! From beside him, Zeng Rui’s Braum cast Winter’s Bite. He propelled ice from his shield that slammed into Jarvan IV. He then ran up to him and landed an auto attack. An Xin’s Gragas did the same, as did Zhang Hao’s Lissandra. The four attacks activated Braum’s Concussive Blow. Team Guangzhou’s Jarvan IV was stunned. He died seconds later to another Lissandra Ice Shard.

Double kill!

“Nice!” Zhang Hao exclaimed. He then turned his head to look at An Xin and added, “Thanks. Couldn’t have done this without you.”

Lin Feng nodded and chimed in, “Yeah! Not bad, not bad at all, BunBun!”

“Not bad? Bad like you with your two deaths?” An Xin countered, laughing.

“Wow! Rude! I got three-man dived, okay?” Lin Feng argued. He then grinned and added, “I did keep them busy long enough for you guys to catch up. That has to count for something.”

Goalie slumped back in his gaming chair. The initial burst of anger dissipated. He was frustrated with his teammates, but more than that, he’d lost. His plan for this game was to pick LeBlanc and stomp Lin Feng. But he’d lost. He’d lost. He stared at his screen, shaking his head. A good gank that was executed well ended in a 1 for 3 trade. Not because they screwed up, but because Lin Feng was better. His opponent was better. He leaned forward and hit the Tab key. Top was snowballing, bot was 4/1 and he wasn’t winning mid either. It’s not supposed to be like this! I was supposed to crush him and show that stupid dog what real skill looks like! We were going to make them all look and feel useless! How… How did it get here? Why are we losing? We haven’t lost anything yet! How are we losing this game so hard!?

2
0

RISE CREW DOES COLLABORATIVE STORYTELLING

Hunting a Mule

By: Sietse, Shanks, and Devshard

Constable Jenkins forced his way through the busy hallway. His peers, some of them graduated in the same class two years earlier, yelled after him. They told him to stop running and shoving them. That someone could get injured. Again. He ignored them, carrying a sheet of papers in his hands. A door closed in front of him, so he pushed his shoulder forward and slammed it back open. A scared shriek came from the other side.

“Constable Jenkins! What’s the meaning of this!?” an older woman yelled through the precinct. Her name was Mary, her nickname Mary who’ll never marry. Who’ll never be merry. She was insufferable and also the commander. On a normal day, Jenkins would’ve stopped dead in his tracks and bowed deeply, apologizing profusely. But not today. He glanced at her, then at the stack of papers in his hands, and said, “There’s another death! Drug related again! At the harbor!”

“Office. Now!” Mary shouted. She then glanced around the room and continued, “Superintendent John, you too.”

It didn’t take even five minutes for Constable Jenkins to explain the situation and for Mary to decide on a course of action. The mule had struck again. His drugs had, anyway. They were the cheap variety imported from China, according to the scientists. And they were deadly. Seven so far, including the fresh corpse of a 21 year old woman earlier that morning. Mary looked around the room and said, “That mule has to be delivering there. We’ve staked it out before, but clearly not well enough. Then again, I gave Jerry that job. Perhaps that’s on me for trusting him.” She briefly paused, calming herself through deep, calm breaths. She then looked up and instructed, “You two are going to get a boat from the impound and dock it there. I don’t care how long you gotta stake it out, you’re gonna find that mule! Don’t come back ‘till you have!”

Constable Jenkins and Superintendent John rose to their feet and both replied, “Yes ma’am!”

“All right. Off you go,” Mary said, waving them away. She then pushed her glasses up the rim of her nose and looked intently at an empty sheet of paper, waiting for the two to leave. When they did, she sighed and mumbled, “What a hassle. They’re gonna have my head over this damned case.”

        

“I should’ve stuck to translating,” Shanks muttered, breathing heavily as he hauled his next delivery into a small rowboat. It was a dinky little thing that looked like it could hardly support his own weight, let alone the heavy stack of boxes he’d loaded onto it. The paint was chipped in many places, and the constant worrying and nagging voice in his mind had him convinced that one of the rotting planks would spring a leak at any moment.

Shanks wiped the sweat from his brow and glanced down at the little open space in the rowboat that he’d left for himself. “Well, I guess it’s time to get to work. Seriously, though, when did food delivery turn into Chinese groceries?” At least, that’s what he’d been informed. He’d taken the odd job as a way to help his family out over the summer. After all, they were loaning him money to help pay for his tuition and living expenses, so it was the least he could do to pay them back. His family had run the restaurant businesses before, and food delivery was nothing new to him. Though, he would’ve found the prospect of doing it on a rowboat exceptionally odd, were it not for the fact that he was living on a boathouse in the harbour. 

“Let’s see… the first delivery today is for Will Fittz. He’s docked on the south side of the marina, and the ship name is Lame Duck, Alright, got it!” Shanks put his smartphone away in his pocket. Then he stepped on the little rowboat, taking care not to lose his balance as it swayed back and forth from his added weight. After seating himself down comfortably, he grabbed onto the oars and started rowing. Off he went.

        

Constable Jenkins and Superintendent John were in a boat. Floating on the water a ways away from the South Side of the Marina. Constable Jenkins had hit the streets hard while Superintendent John got the boat ready, and all that work had paid off with a tip. There was going to be a delivery today. Another shipment of drugs would make their way into the hands of Will Fittz, a low level street dealer who operated out of his boat. The Lame Duck. Will Fittz wasn’t exactly your run-of-the-mill street corner dealer. Constable Jenkins had history with the man. Old Willy started out as a “fisherman” who fished out things that fell off the big trade boats and into the ocean. But he had an independent streak, and operated independently. Which wouldn’t have been an issue, except for the fact that the Irish Mob controlled the parts of the docks that Will liked to “fish” in. They eventually noticed him and gave him a choice. He could fish for them or try to swim like a fish. He chose the former. But Old Willy Fishhook was an independent operator, and being an employee rankled him. So he’d been making plays out of the stolen goods game and into the drug game. No one knew where Old Willy had gotten a line on a distributor, but he was starting to become a decent player. And all of it happened on the Lame Duck. That was Will Fittz’s house, his base, and the foundation of his criminal empire. 

That was the boat that Constable Jenkins and Superintendent John watched like hawks through binoculars. Constable Jenkins was focused on the boat itself, while Superintendent John surveyed the waters around it. Waiting for someone to approach. 

“Superintendent! I think something’s about to happen. Old Willy Fishhook just got a call. He looks excited and happy. The laddie’s just pacing a hole through his floor, looking out towards the marina every once in a while!” “I do believe you’re right, Jenkins! I see something as well! LOOK! Over there!” 

“It’s still off in the distance, Superintendent. Too small for my eyes. Astigmatism is a right bastard. What in heavens is it? “… I’m not entirely sure what it is that I’m seeing Jenkins. I’m really not. It appears to be a small but portly Chinese boy in a shoddy rowboat that’s carrying too much weight. But even God and the Queen’d be damned if they could tell if that tiny rowboat is weighed down by him or cargo! And by Jove! The boy’s sweating so much that he’s lifting the tide and making the ocean saltier! I don’t think he walks much, let alone be a seasoned sailor.”“I see ‘im now, Superintendent! This is looking like a situation we don’t need back up for, innit? Or weapons. The boy looks like he’ll die before he’ll even get close to the Lame Duck.” 

“Ohohohoho! Constable! I think we’re looking at TWO Lame Ducks here. One’s a ship, and the other one looks like it was fattened but made an escape before it could be turned into a peking duck!” 

“Queens armpits, Superintendent! This isn’t the time for jokes! If this is our mule and we didn’t notice him… despite his ampleness and slowness, the boys at the Yard will never let us live this down. But it looks like it’ll take him another 40 minutes to get to the Lame Duck at his speed. Might as well have some kippers and a spot of tea.” 

        

Shanks rowed and rowed and rowed, fighting against the burn of lactic acid that had accumulated in his muscles only moments after setting out on his rowboat. But he was naught but a boat against the current, borne back ceaselessly towards the Marina. Every step forward was met with two steps back. But Shanks refused to give up. He would make this delivery to the Lame Duck. Then he would come back and get the groceries for his next delivery and complete that one. He could not be stopped. He knew it. He knew that adversity only helped bring him closer to his limitless potential. He would break past the shell that held him back and be reborn in the spray of salt, heat, and overwhelming despair that threatened to plunge him into the depths of the ocean! Both metaphorical and literal.

He would make this delivery to Will Fittz on the Lame Duck if it was the last thing he ever did! And so, Shanks rowed on. He was so focused on the Lame Duck in front of him that he took no notice of the two figures in a different boat, off in the distance, watching him. While they sipped on tea out of a thermos and ate some kippers. 

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