Su Xue stood there, phone still in her hand and halfway up to her face, looking shocked. The silence stretched on as everyone waited for her to tell them what happened. But she said nothing. Eventually, Lin Feng got up from his bed and asked, “Su Xue, what happened? What did Huya call you for?”
Su Xue had a complicated expression on her face. She looked at Lin Feng and opened her mouth to explain. And then closed it again. Then she shook her head to clear her mind. Finally, she answered. “Hm… I’m not going home with you guys tomorrow. That call was from Huya… One of the executives that works there. I’ve mentioned him before to you guys, right? Zong Yao. He… Well. He…—”
“Su Xue, did he ask you to do something inappropriate? We won’t stand for that, and you don’t have to worry about Zong Yao either! The Shanghai Esports Association is no paper tiger! Tell me if you need help!” Chu Fang cut in. He’d noticed how distraught Su Xue was and started to get concerned.
Su Xue looked at Chu Fang for a few seconds. Then she laughed. “No, no, no. Guys! It’s nothing like that! This is really good! Oh god! I’m so, so, so sorry guys! I couldn’t believe what just happened and I needed a minute to process it all. Mr. Zong Yao is a really nice person! He called to tell me that everyone loved my shoutcasting! So much so that they want me as the shoutcaster for two more matches tomorrow!”
Zong Yao explained the entire situation to Su Xue on the phone. Right after asking her to be the shoutcaster for two more matches. But she was so stunned and thrilled by the unexpected news that she couldn’t understand it at the time. During the Round of 16 match today, Huya had run multiple surveys to find out which shoutcaster the viewers liked best. And Sue Xue had won by a landslide! Over 68% of the viewers who participated in the survey had voted for her! Zong Yao had also told her some of the comments left by participants in the survey.
“If Evening Snowfall is shoutcasting, I’m watching!”
“Evening Snowfall is the real dark horse talent discovered in this tournament!”
“Best shoutcaster was definitely Evening Snowfall! Kappa! Kreygasm!”
“EveningSnowfall Pogchamp! She was great! Man, today’s matches were exciting, but she managed to hype me up even more. Seeing her getting so excited on the desk… BibleThump!”
“EveningSno’s got a great personality. Great face too! And she knows the game!”
Zong Yao had obviously selected the most positive and nicest comments. But the rest of the responses were along the same lines. The audience loved Su Xue! Her unique shoutcasting style, drawn from her experience as a streamer, had resonated with something in all of the viewers. Her sheer popularity was an unexpected development though. Huya TV’s management reacted quickly though, and decided to let Su Xue be the shoutcaster for two more matches. Then they asked Zong Yao to get in touch with her to confirm that she’d be there.
All of Team Shanghai cheered when they heard the good news. The victories kept rolling in today. An Xin walked over to give Su Xue a hug and said, “Congratulations! This is such great news! You’re going to be amazing tomorrow!”
“Phenomenal work, Su Xue! This is going to take you up to a whole different level!” Zeng Rui called out. And then he let out a little chuckle. “Heh-heh! I guess this means… you’re Huya’s little pogchamp now heh-heh!”
Chu Fang smiled. “Indeed! Zeng Rui understands exactly what this means. Huya is going to start paying a lot more attention to you now. You’ll get even more chances to go up on stage and show the world what you can do. This is a hard-won opportunity that most people can’t even dream of grasping. Make sure you take advantage of it. Congratulations!”
After being cheered on by the members of Team Shanghai, Su Xue was also fired up. So much so that she punched her fist into the air, like Lin Feng usually did, and said, “Hell yeah! Yeah! I’m going to kill it tomorrow!”
Lin Feng, who had been suspiciously lowkey with her cheering, inched his way closer to Su Xue and asked, “This is such great news, right guys? How about we go get something to eat and celebrate?”
Everyone turned to Lin Feng and shouted in unison, “No!”
Everyone in Team Shanghai got up at 7AM the next morning and washed up. Their flight was at 10AM, and they needed to get into a cab and get to the airport. Su Xue also got up to see them off. Because she was staying at Huya TV’s request, they’d be taking care of her new travel arrangements.
The plan was simple. Everyone on Team Shanghai would wake up in the morning and get ready to go. Then they would all meet up in the lobby, say goodbye to Su Xue, and be on their way home. The airport was 40 minutes away from their hotel. An Xin and Zeng Rui had made sure to include a buffer for anything unexpected. There was no way they would miss their flight.
What An Xin and Zeng Rui didn’t account for was Lin Feng. When Team Shanghai gathered in the hotel lobby, he wasn’t there. They looked around and did another headcount just to make sure.
“1, 2, 3, 4, 5…. Lin Feng! Where did Lin Feng go!?”
No one on Team Shanghai had any idea where Lin Feng was. Neither did Su Xue. After a few tense minutes of checking with each other, no one could remember seeing Lin Feng in their room. Or walking down with them. Which made this even more puzzling. After all, this was Lin Feng. Not Kuroko. He was always making noise or eating or doing something. Chu Fang decided to run back up to their hotel rooms to look for him again. Just in case Lin Feng was still sleeping under some blankets or in the bathroom. But it was fruitless. Lin Feng was nowhere to be found!
This delay caused by Lin Feng made An Xin furious. “Bloody hell! He’s been so calm for the last few days that we let our guard down. How did he manage to get lost without any of us knowing?! Does he hate it when everything goes well for a change?” Then she took a deep breath and fixed her hair. She thought about where Lin Feng could have gone and how to track him down while she did this, and came up with an idea. An Xin walked over to the front desk of the hotel and spoke to the receptionist for a bit. The receptionist confirmed that someone matching Lin Feng’s description left the hotel with his luggage a little bit earlier.
“He left… with his luggage?!”
Everyone was dumbstruck.
“Where the hell could he have gone!?”
“Mhm! The airport! Did he decide to go on ahead to the airport? Without us?” Tang Bingyao asked.
An Xin shook her head. “That just doesn’t make any sense. We were all going to leave together. We made sure he knew the plan. I made sure he knew the plan. Why on earth would he randomly decide to go off to the airport alone? Besides, he would have told one of us if he had some reason for leaving early.” An Xin pulled out her phone and dialed Lin Feng’s number as she spoke. A moment later, she got an automatic response that the other line had no signal or that the phone was turned off.
Su Xue facepalmed. “I know what happened. It’s Lin Feng. He’s always playing or reading something on his phone until he falls asleep. So he never charges it at night. He always forgets to plug it in before he nods off! He probably forgot last night too!”
Chu Fang frowned. “This isn’t good. If we can’t get in touch with him, we can’t confirm where he is. If he didn’t head to the airport ahead of us, we won’t be able to meet up with him.”
Zeng Rui massaged his temples. “Thundering. Dumbass.”
Team Shanghai had no other option but to sit down in the hotel lobby and wait for Lin Feng to come back. Or contact them somehow. All they could do was sit there and pray that Lin Feng showed up in time for them to leave. And so, they waited. Until 7:20AM.
And there was still no sign of Lin Feng.
Chu Fang wiped the beads of sweat on his forehead and said, “Alright guys! We can’t sit here and wait any longer. We’ll miss the plane if we do. Let’s go to the airport and see if Lin Feng is there. If he isn’t, you guys head back to Shanghai and I’ll go look for him. Hopefull—”
“I could bring him back with me, Chu Fang! I’m staying here for another day anyway. If he’s not at the airport, I’ll find him before the matches and then bring him back to Shanghai with me. Once he realizes that he missed the flight, he’ll come looking for me anyway.” Su Xue said, interrupting Chu Fang.
Everyone reluctantly nodded. It didn’t make sense for the entire group to miss the plane. Especially since Su Xue was staying behind. They started gathering their luggage while An Xin called a cab. And then Zhang Hao noticed someone walking into the hotel lobby. “Guys! Look! LIN FENG! Isn’t that Lin Feng?” he exclaimed while pointing.
Everyone looked up and at the person Zhang Hao was pointing towards. It was Lin Feng. With his luggage on his back, a tray of soymilk in one hand, and a bag of steamed buns in the other. He’d heard Zhang Hao yelling his name and looked over to find everyone from Team Shanghai. So he started waving the bag of steamed buns at them happily. “Wow! Everyone’s already down here and ready to go? Nice! You guys didn’t eat breakfast yet, right? I went out for food, and I brought more than enough for everyone! Let’s eat!”
Everyone was speechless.
Su Xue had murder in his eyes and she gnashed her teeth, ‘I. Am. Going. To. Kill. Him. He is dead, one of these days. I’m going to kill him dead!”
Zeng Rui expressionlessly nodded in agreement.
An Xin flashed her murder smile at Lin Feng. “When we get back home, I’m going to beat the stupid out of him.”
Now that Lin Feng was back and the entire group was ready to leave, Chu Fang breathed a sigh of relief. But there was no time to eat the breakfast that Lin Feng brought back. They needed to get to the airport as quickly as possible. “Guys! I called two cabs to take us to the airport. They’re outside! Eat in the car! We need to go now!” Chu Fang said as he shepherded them out of the hotel and into the cabs.
Chu Fang and An Xin hauled Lin Feng into a cab with them, where they forced him to sit in the middle. Where they could keep an eye on him. As the cars left for the airport, Chu Fang checked his watch to make sure they would arrive in time. Then he looked at Lin Feng. “Lin Feng, don’t do something like this again. You had us all worried sick.”
Lin Feng scratched his head. “Um, sorry. I wanted to send a text, but my phone was dead!” Then he held up two steamed buns in his hands. “I got you guys breakfast though!”
An Xin stared at Lin Feng, her lips curving into a faint smile. “Did you really go out to buy breakfast? Nothing else?”
Lin Feng looked down before mumbling his answer. “Yeah! You know me! I’m Lin Feng and I like food! Only went out to get breakfast. Haha!”
“Oh? You didn’t do anything else while you were out?” An Xin asked.
“I see,” An Xin said, but her expression said she didn’t believe him at all.
After an uneventful cab ride, Team Shanghai finally arrived at the airport. Then they went through security and checked in for the flight. They’d made it just in the nick of time. All of them sat at the departure gate, waiting for boarding to start, and relaxed.
Nothing more happened, and the plane started boarding 30 minutes later. Team Shanghai got on the plane and started sitting down. Lin Feng and An Xin ended up sitting next to each other. And since they were all on the plane and waiting for it to take off, Zeng Rui, Zhang Hao and Tang Bingyao decided it was a good time to catch up on some sleep. Especially since they had to wake up early to make this flight.
Lin Feng was wide awake and bored. So he pulled out his phone and hit a few buttons before looking down at it sadly. “Oh no! The battery is still dead…” Then he turned to An Xin and asked, “BunBun, let me play with your phone?”
An Xin rolled her eyes. “No way!”
“Come on, don’t be so selfish!”
“Idiot! The plane’s about to take off! Our phones are supposed to be off right now and we’re not allowed to have them out!”
Suddenly, An Xin smiled at Lin Feng and asked,“But we can talk right now. Be honest! Where did you go this morning?”
Lin Feng’s eyes widened. And then they started spinning as he tried to look everywhere except at An Xin while replying, “I told you. I went out to buy breakfast!”
An Xin’s smile didn’t change at all. “Really now? That’s so curious! I spoke to the receptionist at the hotel. That’s how I found out that you left the hotel with your luggage. But you know what else she told me? That she saw you leaving at 6AM. We all know that you came back with the steamed buns at 7:20AM. So….. that means that it took you an hour and twenty minutes to buy some breakfast. Did you go out and make the steamed buns yourself? Do you think I’m an idiot? Are you trying to turn this BunBun into a steamed bun with all the hot air you’re blowing?”
Lin Feng looked like a deer in headlights. He knew he’d been caught.
An Xin continued staring at Lin Feng, waiting for him to spill the beans.
Finally, Lin Feng folded under the pressure and confessed, “Alright, alright! You win!” He looked around carefully, then took his bag out from under his seat. While he opened it, he turned to An Xin and said, “You have to keep this really secret! I was going to give this to you later on… I swear! Just don’t tell Chu Fang and the others. They’ll be so mad if they find out what I was doing.”
An Xin slowly nodded. “Yes, yes, I know. I’ll keep your secret. Now show me what it is that was so important that you woke up at 5:30AM to go get? And almost made us all miss this flight. What did you go get?”
Lin Feng pulled something out of his bag and put it on An Xin’s lap. As she looked at it, her eyes popped open in surprise.
It was the super cute Ashe plushie doll! The exact same one that she said she wanted a few days ago!
Dev Thought: Ya know, this chapter has us plugging the Ashe plushie. We’re doing product placement and advertising for merch without actually being sponsored or anything like that. But it got me thinking about merch and how we should totally do some. Can’t be that hard, right? So I got the whole Rise Team together and pitched the idea. I figured we’d start small. Like boxer shorts. I was thinking we could just do plain black boxers with SEO on the back. Cause he’s an asshole. Get it? Simple and kinda fun. But there were two issues that we don’t yet have a solution for:
1.) It’s a little exclusionary. We can’t only manufacture SEO asshole underwear for men. Because we have female readers too. So the product line had to expand to accommodate both male and female versions of the underwear.
2.) We have no one to model this merchandise. Why would anyone buy clothes when they have no idea what they look like? Right?
Personally, I think Shanks should be the model. He is the translator and the face of our entire little operation here. I tried to talk to him about it, but he ignored me completely. I think it was the whole modelling women’s underwear thing that broke him. But it’s 2021, guys! We don’t judge any more! And Shanks is doing this to promote Rise and the community. But he refuses to listen to me on this, and Sietse is too busy with his exam stuff to get involved. So I need your help. If you guys say #ShanksModelRiseUnderwear enough, then I can find someone to make us the underwear and we’ll make Shanks do a photoshoot. Together, we can prevail!
Just say #ShanksModelRiseUnderwear in the comments! MAKE HIM BOW TO THE WILL OF THE RISE COMMUNITY!