The master-apprentice relationship was successfully confirmed. Jiang Ying received a little display of celebratory fireworks on his cell phone screen.
When a Top 10 player accepted an apprentice, the game sent a system-wide announcement out to all players. Soon enough, all active users of the 'Fight!' app knew the formidable Boss Crab had taken a pupil—
[I was just about to go offline when I saw this explosive news. Who'd the big boss take? Who???]
[Fighter3357868? It's a new account, made less than thirty minutes ago. It doesn't even have an avatar yet.]
[So weird. Where'd he find a guy like this?]
[Wahhhhhhh, money is worthless to Boss Crab. I offered to pay him to take me as his apprentice, but he didn't pay any attention to me. I'm super upset!]
[I think I get it. If Boss Crab was willing to accept this person, they must be insanely skilled. Or they must know Boss Crab personally.]
[Does that mean we can look forward to some amazing fights from this newbie?]
There was no way Jiang Ying would let go of such an intriguing opportunity. But after Jiang Ying accepted the apprenticeship request, the other party remained unresponsive.
That was fine. The cold and aloof type was perfect for Jiang Ying.
Jiang Ying, who had only ever been interested in the art of fighting itself, suddenly found himself becoming interested in this person.
He tapped on the new user's profile and saw that the user was online. After a long while, the mystery fighter changed his avatar to one of the game's default icons. Then he changed his status message as well.
Fighter3357868: Busy. Do not disturb.
Jiang Ying instantly clicked into the chat box and started typing.
[Boss Crab]: Hello?
[Boss Crab]: Hello, friend, hello, friend, are you there? Are you there?
[Boss Crab]: SpiritedYouthArrivesUninvited.jpg
[Boss Crab]: I can see you're online, don't act like you aren't.
[Boss Crab]: Wanna fight?
[Fighter3357868]: Not really interested.
[Boss Crab]: I can change that.
[Fighter3357868]: Not really interested.
[Boss Crab]: I've met tons of people like you. You say you're not interested, but really you're hella interested.
[Fighter3357868]: …it was just a misclick.
[Boss Crab]: Nonsense. Cut the crap. Can you really call this a misclick? This is fate.
[Boss Crab]: Just learn from me, it'll do you a world of good. Fighting refreshes you and clears your mind. It'll make you live longer. People who know how to fight live healthier, happier lives. It's good for you to let things out. Never hold anything in. Just say what you have to say. That's what fighting is all about.
[Fighter3357868]: Give me a demonstration, then. I'll decide afterwards if I want to learn from you or not.
That was the best thing about newbies; they were easily bamboozled. This guy took the bait so quickly that Jiang Ying grinned and rubbed his hands together. For the first time, he found himself thinking there was something nice and interesting about the app's recent updates.
Someone knocked on his bedroom door.
"It's unlocked, just come in," Jiang Ying called out.
"You have a variety show to film tomorrow, don't you?" Song Jingxi asked as she opened the door. "It's already midnight, and you're still messing around on your phone? You have to get up early tomorrow, you know."
"I'll sleep right now," Jiang Ying promised.
"Honestly, are there any other idols who are this obsessed with their phones?" Song Jingxi sighed and shook her head. "I'll turn off the lights for you, then. Get some rest soon. And just look at your room! You've been back for less than six hours. How did it get this messy already?"
"Jiang Xun's messy too!" Jiang Ying complained. "Go pick on him!"
The lights in his room were turned off, and Jiang Ying curled up under his blankets to get back to his new fighting apprentice. He planned on setting an alarm and getting some sleep after giving this newbie a good first lesson.
[Boss Crab]: Still there?
[Boss Crab]: I'll teach you an easy tactic first. When you get a chance, try it out.
[Boss Crab]: We'll be starting with the basics. Here's an opening move I use a lot when I feud online.
[Fighter3357868]: There are 'opening moves'?
[Boss Crab]: Naturally. Now, keep your eyes wide open and take in my many years of experience. I'll teach you everything I know.
[Boss Crab]: Speed. Precision. Ferociousness. All these things matter in a fight. First, you can never lose your cool. You need attitude, and that attitude must never falter. Don't ever show any fear. And the secret to doing all that starts with mastering… punctuation marks.
[Boss Crab]: Exactly. The question mark. The perfect opening move is to send three question marks. Three is just right. Less than three makes you look weak, and more than three makes you look stupid.
[Boss Crab]: Stay away from ellipses. That'll kill your momentum.
[Fighter3357868]: I never knew there were so many customs to fighting. WipesSweat.jpg
[Boss Crab]: Of course there are. Anyway, after sending those three question marks, if you're on QQ or WeChat, you can follow up with the slight smile emoji or the waving emoji. If you're on Weibo, use the slight smile or the confused emoji. When the time is right, you can even throw in the wide-eyed blush emoji. That always makes you a little hard to understand. It throws people off their rhythm.
[Boss Crab]: Oh, that's right. Besides the ones I told you about, don't use the system emojis too much. There are so many good reaction memes these days. It's a shame not to make good use of them.
[Boss Crab]: Understood?
[Boss Crab]: Alright, good. You take your time digesting that. To excel in a fight, you must first understand the art of fighting. Don't rush into anything. If you think you're ready, find someone to practice with. If you start with the opening moves I just taught you, then you'll be off to a strong start. Remember, it's all about attitude. Now, I have to get some sleep. I have a ton of work lately. I'll talk to you again when I have time.
Jiang Ying stared at that haughtily aloof and disinterested response for a moment before shaking his head. "Faker."
This newbie was a lot like a certain someone, but Qi Zhu was even more boring. All Qi Zhu cared about was acting. He would never take an interest in an app like 'Fight!' or fighting tactics in general.
Jiang Ying grabbed a random hugging cushion and fell asleep with it clutched tightly in his arms.
At six in the morning, before he had to head out, Jiang Xun swung by Jiang Ying's room and knocked to wake him up too.
"Got it, I'm up. I'm getting up. Slowly but surely," Jiang Ying mumbled blearily. "I won't oversleep, promise."
The rest of the family took off early. Only Jiang Ying was left behind, still lingering in his dreams.
Slowly, the hour hand on the wall clock crept towards seven. Sunlight snuck into the room through a crack in the curtains. On the floor, Jiang Ying's cell phone began to chime with a series of QQ alerts.
[Class Monitor]: [poke poke]
[Class Monitor]: Get up.
Jiang Ying groggily lifted his head and checked the time. He figured he could sleep for at least five more minutes, so he grabbed his phone and sent over a voice message to express his thoughts: "I'm getting up, 'm sleepy…"
[Big-Clawed Crab]: (audio)
Just as Jiang Ying was about to close his eyes again, Qi Zhu sent him a few more messages.
There was really no end to it. Jiang Ying opened the chat interface again—
[Class Monitor]: ???
[Class Monitor]: SlightSmile.jpg
[Class Monitor]: You're still sleeping at this hour?
[Class Monitor]: SpitsInEveryDirection.jpg