Chapter 35: Comeback?
Translator: Min Lee Editor: Tennesh
The coastal Yanzhou city of Jinggang is home to several large sanatoriums. Jinggang was a scenic city constantly bathed in sunshine with warmer winters. Many people liked to recover in Jinggang.
Inside a sanatorium in Jinggang.
Famed musician and virtual idol producer Glifetz was sitting by his room's French windows. Typically, this was the time of day he was in his best spirits. He could take in the sunshine of Jinggang peacefully. But today, he was in no mood to enjoy the warm sunbath that so many envied.
Glifetz frowned deeply as he read a news item passed to him by an assistant.
Standing next to Glifetz was one of his former students, one of the staffers forced out by Duan Qianji when last year's virtual idol project had failed.
"Teacher, any new moves from Silver Wing?" the young man asked.
"Yes." Glifetz closed his eyes. He wanted to think hard about what Silver Wing was up to.
Glifetz had run the virtual idol project last year. While he didn't have a total grasp on the thinking of Silver Wing's senior management, he was usually half there. Silver Wing had never paid much attention to virtual idol projects. That had been the culture since Silver Wing's founding. The label had never produced a presentable virtual idol ever. Even if it decided to get in the game now to boost its profits, it would take time. At least, that was what Glifetz thought.
Glifetz thought the failure of his virtual idol project was a function of Silver Wing's internal problems, not his fault. Yet industry insiders and clueless observers were influenced by the media to think that the downfall of last year's virtual idol project was on him. How ridiculous.
Glifetz insisted he was not to blame. He even told close friends: "Silver Wing's virtual idol project was beyond salvation." Just two days after he'd made that comment, it somehow made its way to Duan Qianji and the entire virtual idol department was purged. The few students he had handpicked were kicked out. Glifetz lost a lot of face and became the subject of his colleagues' ridicule.
Because Silver Wing had never produced any substantial virtual idol projects, many news outlets did not draw a firm conclusion—whether the project had failed because of Glifetz or as the result of internal corruption at Silver Wing. Only when Polar Light had debuted at the end of the year did many observers think back to Glifetz's fall from grace after the failure of last year's virtual idol.
Unfortunately, journalists who wanted to interview Glifetz found that he was heavily secluded. He refused interviews by videoconference as well. Since the man in question was nowhere to be found, the journalists could only speculate in their daily reports.
Jinggang was a considerable distance from Qi'an, Yanzhou's political and financial hub, and people in Jinggang didn't pay much attention to the entertainment industry, so the heated discussion in Qi'an never spread to Jinggang. That was also why Glifetz picked Jinggang to recover.
The failure of last year's virtual idol project had dealt Glifetz a blow, but he'd never thought it was his fault. The news of his ongoing illness was indeed fake. He had recovered a long time ago.
So why did he stay in the hospital?
The first reason was to give the impression that he'd given his all to the virtual idol project and left no stone unturned, that he was sick from exhaustion and quite ill at that, to project professionalism and dedication. A restrained show of vulnerability would tilt news coverage in his favor.
Second, he was embarrassed to appear in public. The failure of last year's virtual idol project did indeed taint his reputation, so he wanted to wait until Silver Wing launched its virtual idol this year. If the project was still lackluster, then people would conclude that Silver Wing's virtual idol projects were beyond saving.
That way, the criticism would ease. Everyone would think that it was Silver Wing that had tarnished his reputation, even landing him in the hospital.
Glifetz had been waiting since the beginning of the year, but there had been no sign of movement at Silver Wing. He'd finally breathed a sigh of relief when someone heard that Silver Wing offloaded the virtual idol project to a newcomer. Even Silver Wing itself had given up, ceasing to lavish funds on virtual idol projects, so no one would be willing to stir the pot again. It wasn't a matter of producer talent. The problem was Silver Wing itself.
But now, Silver Wing's true intentions were being unveiled.
But a big chunk of the year gone, three seasons later, the story still wasn't over. Silver Wing had to have saved the best for last, Glifetz suspected, so he ordered his people to keep digging. He'd never believed Silver Wing would put a newcomer in charge of a virtual idol project.
"Ha—Silver Wing can fool others, but not me. Duan Qianji must have been planning this."
Glifetz received a text message.
A glimmer flashed in Glifetz' eyes after he read the message. He became absorbed in deep thought.
"Teacher, is there news?" the young man beside him asked.
"The second movement will be released before November." He checked the date. It was Oct. 25. It would be any day now. Glifetz had set up several alerts. He would be notified immediately when there was news about the second chapter.
The first chapter was just a teaser. The second chapter would reveal Silver Wing's true colors.
Was it a continuation of the "epic"? Or a publicity stunt?
Gliftez knew his comeback hinged on the second chapter.
Inside Silver Wing headquarters in Qi'an, Fang Zhao grabbed a copy of the new music video and shouted in the direction of the studio, "Zu Wen, head upstairs with me."
"Upstairs where?" Zu Wen yawned. He badly needed a gaming session to rest his overworked brain.
"The top floor," Fang Zhao responded.
Zu Wen nearly fainted at the sound of the two words "top floor."
"The top floor?"
"Hurry up and get ready. We'll head up in five minutes. Chairwoman Duan is waiting for us." Fang Zhao glanced at the time.
Even though Silver Wing had given Fang Zhao full authority, he still had to run his final product by senior management. The top executives were starting to pay attention. Plus the success of the second chapter depended on Silver Wing's next move. This was something Duan Qianji had stressed when she ordered the budget allocation.
Fang Zhao needed to bring a technician. Zu Wen was the senior technician in the studio, so naturally, Fang Zhao brought him along. If the projection equipment needed to be fine-tuned and levels needed to be adjusted, Zu Wen would have to do it on the spot.
When he heard the big boss was already waiting upstairs, Zu Wen felt his legs give in even more. He scrambled. When he washed his face, his hands were shaking. All he could remember was the stern look on the faces of Duan Qianji and other senior execs at the debriefing for last year's virtual idol project. The staffers had become pinatas. All they'd wanted to do was curl up in a corner.
After tidying up, Zu Wen followed Fang Zhao into a special access elevator.
"Boss, I'm nervous." Even taking deep breaths couldn't calm his nerves. Zu Wen felt as if the temperature inside the elevator was plunging.
"Think of it this way—after the second movement, we get our gaming console."
"No, that makes me more nervous. What if we fail?"
Zu Wen was so nervous his teeth were clattering. He turned to see Fang Zhao as calm as always. He was baffled. It was genuine calm, not faked.
"Boss, I have a question I'm not sure if I should ask," Zu Wen said.
"If you're not sure, then don't ask it."
"But I can't help myself." Zu Wen stared at Fang Zhao. "How come you're not nervous? What if the second movement fails? Of course I'm not doubting the quality. I quite like it myself. But will other people like it? Will the Yanzhou Music Association give a positive review? Will the Polar Light project really end up a success? Every time I think about these things, I get nervous, lose sleep, and become unsettled. How come you don't feel anything?"
Fang Zhao pointed at his head. "That's because I feel fearless every time background music plays in my head." That's what calmed him on the battlefield, and it served the same purpose now.
"..." Zu Wen looked at Fang Zhao to make sure he wasn't kidding. "It's mind-boggling to me. What do you carry around in your head?"
"Probably a large symphony orchestra."