“I can’t.” She quickly turned it down. “I really can’t.”
The owner urged her on a few more times and gave up after seeing that Ai Qing really didn’t want to play.
Grunt took a couple of looks at her thoughtfully and 97 just smiled regretfully.
Suddenly, Dt stood up, took out ten dollars, and went to the counter to buy two bottles of coke. He handed one to Ai Qing. “The air here is not good.” It was as if he was talking to himself.
She sniffed. “Indeed, a strong cigarette smell.”
The two looked at each other and stood up at the same time to walk out of the internet cafe. The door of the cafe was facing a street full of local snack stands. It’s close to dinner time and there were all kinds of enticing delicious food everywhere. Ai Qing was unfamiliar with the city, but she loved the food here and took a few looks at the place not too far away.
“I’m a bit hungry. What do you want to eat?” Dt said abruptly.
“Anything.” She contemplated a bit. “We just had a lot of stick food, let’s see whether there’s other stuff? Should we buy some for Grunt and them?”
“En, wait for me here.” He said.
He jumped down the stairs about the height of half a person and almost bumped into several young girls who happened to bike by. The young girls screamed immediately and tried to avoid him.
He took a step back away from those bikes.
The two young girls in the front looked at each other when they saw Dt and their anger instantly dissipated. They teased him using the local Sichuan dialect but Dt just stood there, seemly not understanding what the girls were saying. He embarrassedly lowered his head slightly, bypassed the bikes, and went to the end of the longest line on the snack street.
“Will he be the second Solo?”
“What?” She turned around and saw 97 also walk out the cafe.
He seriously pointed at Dt. “I mean Dt.”
Ai Qing understood what he meant and pondered in earnest. “It’s hard to say. A professional requires not only skills but also psychological qualities. Sometimes, a genius is the most likely to come to a premature end.” She remembered a person and used him as an example. “Before Solo became famous, there was genius in Korean Warcraft circle called Freedom. At the time, he smashed the number one player of Warcraft in Korea, Moon, on the map where Moon had never lost a battle.”
“What happened then?”
“At that same year when he conquered the Warcraft world, he stopped at divisional competitions at two consecutive national tournaments.” Ai Qing had always liked that young boy because he was the most simple-minded one among Solo’s friends. “He was quiet for half a year, then finally qualified for international competitions again. But, he was kicked out of the game because of some shady deals. In the end, he just disappeared.”
“Just gave up like that?” 97 couldn’t believe it.
“Yeah, he just gave up like that.” Ai Qing looked at him with a smile. “He was born in 88; when he was 16, he became famous, very much like Dt. They all became famous when they were just teenagers and the fame was short-lived. Today, Moon is still active in competitions. Actually, all the players in competition will go through some shady deals and unfair treatment, personal skill will have its own ups and downs too. It all depends on an individual’s psychological qualities.”
“16 years old?”
She nodded. “16, I remembered when Dt became famous he was 15.”
“Actually, he was 14.” 97 smiled mysteriously. “We were neighbors since we were little. No one knows better than I.”