"Blue Brook Guild, this isn't the last you've seen of me!" It had been a cheesy thing to say, suited to be uttered by the incompetent villain of a children's cartoon. Huang Shaotian's mouth outputted words faster than his brain could process them, so a lot of what came out ended up being nonsense. That's just the way he was.

In this case, though, that simple declaration, uttered the first time Blue Brook had killed him for trying to kill-steal one of their BOSSes, turned out to be surprisingly prophetic.

Of course, Team Blue Rain and Blue Brook Guild were separate entities, and as a mere member of Blue Rain's training camp, Huang Shaotian didn't have much reason to interact with the guild. But still, here he was, training to hopefully become a full-fledged member of the Glory professional team. No longer would he be competing with Blue Brook for a BOSS kill; instead he'd be relying on Blue Brook to get BOSS kills, and succeed in all its other endeavors. It was certainly a shift in perspective, after spending so much time strategizing how to thwart this large guild.

The biggest change came from having to think of his biggest enemy, the sneaky Blue Brook guild leader who was unashamed of using cheap tactics and ganging up on a lone player with a group of a hundred, as his new superior. These were two very different identities, and the issue was further complicated by Huang Shaotian's general contempt for being told what to do. Wei Chen was a relaxed leader, fortunately, and didn't blink at Huang Shaotian's frequent bouts of disrespect and overall disregard for authority.

But now that they weren't constantly fighting each other, Huang Shaotian discovered that he actually quite liked Old Wei's playstyle. Not that he'd ever admit it to the guy's face, of course, but there was something immensely satisfying in watching him set traps for his opponents. Huang Shaotian had no interest in playing a slow-paced role like that himself – he much preferred the quick, purely damage-based Blade Master, thank you very much – but teaming up with a Warlock seemed like great fun. Even just watching these matches, Huang Shaotian loved searching for the potential opportunities where he, an outside party, could dart in, strike, and dart out before the opponent even had a chance to blink.

It was all the thrill of kill-stealing bosses, without the moral drawbacks. It was addicting. Glory was addicting, and he loved every second of it. He'd play it every second if it were allowed here – hm, were the computers locked at night? Maybe he should try sneaking some extra playtime in while everyone was sleeping…

Well, overall at least, training camp was pretty great. What better way to spend your days than doing something you loved? Old Wei had offered, and he'd jumped at the opportunity, throwing away his studies with hardly a second thought – he was never really cut out for school anyway, nothing moved quickly enough for his interest.

The only drawback – or, well, the main one at least, was that he couldn't spend all his time just playing Glory. As a trainee, he had a strict schedule and various other responsibilities and assignments and whatnot that interrupted his play.

For example, right now – every morning began the same way, with one of the training camp leaders briefing them on their goals for the day, what the schedule looked like, expectations, assignments, yada yada yada. It was only five minutes, true, but it felt like hours, sitting there and fidgeting, wishing he could get his fingers on a keyboard and mouse.

The training leader droned on – and people said he talked too much, Huang Shaotian thought with a barely suppressed groan. At least things were interesting when it was Old Wei speaking to them. The captain was much more open to heckling from the audience, a fact of which Huang Shaotian took gleeful advantage, which then often led into verbal sparring matches that were highly amusing to audience and participants alike.

Alas, today it was just some Club staff member; Blue Rain's captain was too busy to deal with the trainees on a regular basis. Huang Shaotian tuned out and let his gaze wander around the room, across the faces of his various fellow trainees.

He had spoken to all of them at some point or another, a side effect of talking a lot in general, and he had made good friends with a few of them. Bonding over a common interest was always a good way to meet people. And although Huang Shaotian knew he could be annoying at times (okay, a lot of the time), it was difficult for him to find himself annoyed by others.

Except for that kid. Huang Shaotian's eyes stopped on one boy in particular, and narrowed.

Something about that dark-haired boy profoundly irritated Huang Shaotian. Maybe it was the way he didn't respond to taunts or trashtalk (Huang Shaotian wasn't a bully, okay? He insulted everyone equally; there were no hard feelings), or the way he wore that perpetual inscrutably calm expression no matter what happened.

Was he slow in the brain as well as with his hands? Did he not realize that he was just straight-up bad at Glory? What was he doing here, why did he keep struggling with something that so obviously didn't come naturally to him? Huang Shaotian just couldn't understand, and the few mostly-one-sided conversations he'd had with him hadn't been enlightening. Still, if Huang Shaotian searched hard enough inside himself, he found a bit of grudging respect for the other boy.

Well, in the end it didn't really matter; even though that boy had lasted to here, it was only a matter of time before he was eliminated.

Everyone was dispersing to their various computers – with a start, Huang Shaotian realized the staff member had finished talking. What were they doing now…? Huang Shaotian quickly tried to replay in his mind what he had just heard and ignored… elimination coming up soon… keep working hard… ah! They were starting off the day with 1v1 duels, his favorite!

Huang Shaotian slashed his account card through the reader and watched as the familiar figure of Troubling Rain appeared onscreen. He didn't have the best equipment, but he didn't need it to demonstrate his skill. Huang Shaotian was the indisputable, unquestionable number one of the training camp, and though he didn't arrogantly flaunt his prowess, he didn't make any false pretenses at modesty.

"Let's go," he said, a grin creeping over his face. "Who's ready to get their ass kicked today?"


A/N: This will be cross-posted on tumblr soonish probably, and ao3 maybe someday.

I haven't posted on ffn in so long... Hoping that the more places I post this, the more I'll be motivated to finish. Currently looking at maybe 9 chapters, a mix of completely original scenes (like this chapter) and scenes more closely based off the prequel - the difference will be made clear for each chapter.

Feedback always appreciated :)