Translator: SJade, Editor: Dj22031
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Huo Yunshen met Yan Qing’s eyes through the tempered glass. A second later, Yan Qing averted her eyes uneasily. She smoothed out her dress and continued to her seat.
She usually walked smoothly and gracefully, but today she walked with caution. Her lips were pursed too. Her hand seemed to be on her dress to hold it in place, but it was really to clutch her left leg.
Huo Yunshen’s eyes turned cold.
Qingqing was hurt.
From last night to this morning, in the span of such a short time, what happened? Getting up and getting ready didn’t require her to exert too much energy. Even if she had practiced in the morning, her dance wasn’t too extreme. It was hardly likely that she was accidentally hurt.
Before Huo Yunshen had the time to look again, Yan Qing had already left his field of vision. Anger rushed over him. Just as he was about to reach out the program directors directly, another murmur of gasps sounded in the crowd of trainees.
Song Xueran entered, with an ‘A ranking’ label taped to her blouse. She headed straight towards the top seats, waving towards the balcony of judges along the way. She had a bright smile as she bowed in their direction. She made sure to show off a healthy bit of her chest as she straightened up.
President Su covered his eyes, “So cheesy.”
President Lin, “I didn’t know your eyesight isn’t all bad.”
The rest of the girls knew Song Xueran was an artist that had debuted before. She was different than the rest of the girls, who were basically newborns in the entertainment industry. Song Xueran proudly sauntered forward, glancing out of the corner of her eye at Yan Qing as she confidently walked towards the top seat.
The seating of 99 trainees were arranged from their self-rankings of A through F, with the highest rankings on the top. On top of all the rows, the highest row sat a single seat, like a throne.
The seat was different than the rest of the A class. This seat was considered ‘S’ ranking. There was only one S ranking position in the performance hall. In the preliminary rankings round, the official S ranking will first be awarded by the mentors to an outstanding trainee. In the upcoming competition rounds, the other trainees had the opportunity to battle for the seat.
Song Xueran had the S seat as her target. She didn’t plan on pretending to be modest or humble. Underneath everyone’s eyes, she made a beeline towards the S seat.
She was the last trainee to enter. After her, every trainee had already taken their seat. The lights in the auditorium dimmed. Simultaneously, rousing background music filled the room. On the large screen, a VCR started playing. The mentor team also entered.
Yan Qing sat in the ‘D’ row. She was still thinking about the blazing gaze she felt from the judges balcony above. The eyes were seizing her up.
But it couldn’t be….Huo Yunshen wouldn’t lower himself and come join a girls’ group competition.
Above her, Huo Yunshen gripped his phone in his fist. He let out a deep breath to calm himself, before calling Min Jing, “She’s injured. Before you find out what happened, no need to tell others about her injury.”
If he went and questioned the directors now and made a scene, that would only frustrate Yan Qing.
In the meantime, the show’s new sponsor would be announced. Yan Qing would know that she has someone to rely on in the program.
Yan Qing was brought out of her thoughts by the sounds of cheers coming from the other trainees. She looked up to see what was the cause of everyone’s excitement. When she saw the screen, her mind went blank momentarily.
Wait wasn’t it called “Rise Up! Girls”? Why was the name now longer?
The girl next to her excitedly shook her. “That’s Huo Corporation! If Huo Corporation is investing, then this program is definitely gonna be popular!”
Yan Qing only felt like Mountain Tai was now pressing down on her shoulders. She thought about the gaze she felt from the judges panel.
Huo Yunshen was only investing some money in. Businessmen need to profit too. There’s no other reason for the name.
Yan Qing comforted herself. She focused on the stage. The two men and two women that made up the mentors team were all familiar people to her.
Before the mentors took their seats, they spoke in unison, “Now, we invite Rise Up! Girls’ youth producer, He Mingjin!”
The youth producer was their trump card. Before filming started, they had kept the youth producer’s identity a secret. This was the first time his identity was being revealed.
The performance hall froze before erupting as girls screeched.
Yan Qing widened her eyes. Was it the same He Mingjin she knew?
The next second, a tall young man walked to the center of the stage wearing a light blue sweater shirt. It was the popular and influential star, He Mingjin.
Two years ago, when Yan Qing was in the hospital for treatment, she incidentally met He Mingjin, who was in Canada for vacation. He Mingjin was more carefree then. He was kind to her, and asked her out. He expressed that he was willing to announce their relationship even amidst the height of his popularity. But Yan Qing hasn’t been in the mood to start a relationship then. She firmly rejected him. From then on, He Mingjin always called her during holidays and special occasions, hoping that she would reconsider. Even more, he travelled every year to Canada to see her.
Yan Qing only saw him as a friend. Nothing more. But the awkward thing was, after losing contact for half a year, she had become a trainee and was going to audition in front of him.
Yan Qing put a hand to her forehead and cursed her damn luck.
He Mingjin smiled warmly and greeted everyone. He spoke a few words of encouragement and announced the official start of auditions.
Yan Qing knew when she was supposed to perform. Because she was a commoner performing as a solo singer, she was placed last. She didn’t mind. This would allow her some time to rest her wound. But when the auditions were almost over, and Song Xueran in her S ranking throne still hadn’t performed, she felt something was off.
“What happened? I thought Song Xueran was supposed to perform some time in the middle?”
“Did she switch with someone? Is it better to perform near the end?”
“Not really. The seats in A Class are almost filled. She and Yan Qing both haven’t performed yet. Does that mean there can only be one A between the two of them?”
“There hasn’t been a S rank yet. The last A might also become the S rank!”
“I think, she might be purposely wanting to compete against Yan Qing…”
Yan Qing heard the whispers around her. Turning around, she saw Song Xueran sitting steadily atop the throne, seemingly smiling right at her.
Soon, it was clear that Song Xueran would perform second to last, with Yan Qing performing at the end. They would enter backstage to prepare at the same time.
By the time they were prepped, there was only two seats left for rankings: one in A Class, one in F Class.
“Rise Up Girls!” didn’t have a 1v1 battle setup. The rankings that the mentors give were final. The only way to change rankings from there were in elimination rounds. Something else that the trainees were preoccupied about was the judges panel. Even near the end of filming, there had been no motion from the judges panel, keeping the trainees on edge.
Before getting on stage, Song Xueran smirked, “Don’t worry, it’s your turn soon.”
Song Xueran straightened her back. In front of the five mentors, she smiled brightly, “Hello, mentors team. I have a request. Yan Qing and I are the last trainees. I heard she’s very skilled. I think it’s pitiful to make her wait outside by herself right now. So, could she come on stage with me, and perform as a direct competitor with me PK style?”
He Mingjin picked up the microphone. “Is Yan Qing willing?”
Song Xueran nodded her head. “Of course she is. We already discussed it. but she doesn’t have that much stage experience, so, she might get stage fright.”
At the same time, staff members went to ask Yan Qing. She could clearly hear what Song Xueran was saying. She was reminded of the competitive glare Song Xueran gave her the other day. Yan Qing glanced down at her throbbing left leg.
This was just real life Legend of Zhenhuan.
Song Xueran was forcing her to compete with her. Yan Qing could only step forward.
Yan Qing slowly added pressure to her left leg. Suppressing her pain, she casually looked into the camera, “Do I look pretty?”
The camera cooperatively nodded.
Yan Qing laughed, “I can’t embarrass this beautiful face.”
The stage wasn’t very big. Yan Qing and Song Xueran stood side by side. Hundreds of cameras focused on them, as other trainees cheered supportively.
Song Xueran wore an alluring dress. Yan Qing’s outfit in comparison seemed subdued and quiet. The two girls’ atmospheres were completely opposite.
A trainee noisily added to the drama. In a loud voice, she yelled, “Yan Qing is a princess!”
Everyone was young, so, the group of girls easily became carried away with the youthful carefree setting they had constructed. They carried on, “Yes, Yes! Chinese styled princess!”
In the back room, President Su shot up to his feet, “Shen Ge, I think that girl’s up to something. She’s purposely targeting sister-in-law.”
Huo Yunshen didn’t say a word. His cold calculating gaze stared daggers at Song Xueran.
Song Xueran had glanced repeatedly at Qingqing’s left leg triumphantly. Along with her obvious targeting attitude, Song Xueran’s motives were clear.
Her small movements made it obvious.
It was Song Xueran that hurt Qingqing.
Huo Yunshen couldn’t hold back. He didn’t wait for Min Jing to report back to him. As he was about to click the button that would light up the back room from the outside, Yan Qing lifted her head and looked right at him.
Her eyes were clear and lively. Even though he was far away from her, her gaze was still able to grab him firmly.
Huo Yunshen remembered yesterday. She practiced in the practice room for hours, as sweat dripped down her back, refusing to stop. She wanted to create her own spotlight on this stage, using her own abilities.
If he entered the stage now, and made any decisions right now, it might not make her as happy as if she finished singing her song and danced as planned.
Huo Yunshen suppressed his urge to run to the stage.
Qingqing was no longer the little girl who listened to his every word.
She didn’t remember him.
He wasn’t her Yunshen, he was just a strange monster that frustrated her.
If he controlled her actions, she’ll just run away.
Huo Yunshen closed his eyes. He was willing to stay back, and give her the chance to demonstrate her skills.
On stage, Song Xueran heard the other trainees’ reactions to Yan Qing. Her voices filled with competitiveness, “Let’s go by our self-ranking order then. When we’re both done singing, we can dance too.”
Song Xueran had watched similar competition shows before. She knew the audience didn’t like modest and quiet trainees. They liked those who had the ability to capture their attention with her skills.
Yan Qing avoided meeting He Mingjin’s eyes. She nodded, “That’s fine. What are you singing?”
Song Xueran raised an eyebrow, “I don’t know if you’ve heard of Mu Mian. She’s a very unique singer-songwriter. I really like her song, “Good Night.””
Yan Qing thought she had heard wrong, “Who did you say?”
Song Xueran expected this. She wanted to hint at Yan Qing’s ignorance, “Mu Mian. If you don’t know, you can go search online.”
The other trainees also began discussing Mu Mian. Young adults were often on the internet so most knew of Mu Mian. Some blurted out names of Mu Mian’s famous songs.
“I love her! I have a bunch of her songs on my playlist, and just listen to them on repeat.” Song Xueran was really good at picking songs.
He Mingjin motioned for her to start.
To stand out, Song Xueran raised “Good Night” up an octave. Yan Qing listened on the side of the stage, her feelings mixed. Half way through, she couldn’t help but frown.
Sis, you’re off key.
Hey, don’t break up the note like that!
“Good Night” had been reimagined into a nightmare…
Based on traditional standards. Song Xueran was sufficient. it could at least fool general audiences. Because the melody itself was memorable and unique, the two mentors that didn’t have a prolific musical background were nodding their head positively.
When she was done, it was Yan Qing’s turn.
An Lan had told her to guarantee her audition was steady, but not too attention grabbing, so, that her skills would be a larger surprise later on in the show. Therefore, An Lan had chosen a relatively soft Mu Mian song.
After the performance, she would then reveal that she was Mu Mian.
This song was more of a healing type. The musical composition wasn’t as dramatic as “Good Night”. No matter how well she sang the song, it won’t be as exciting as a song like “Good Night”.
But they weren’t allowed to change their songs at this point.
As expected, as soon as she revealed her song for her audition, Song Xueran said with surprise, “Wow Yan Qing, what a pairing. But you chose a pretty easy song out of all of Mu Mian’s songs?”
Yan Qing didn’t respond to her. She focused on finishing her song.
Song Xueran’s expression fell. Yan Qing sang like a professional, but more shockingly, she sounded exactly like the original singer?!
Song Xueran was uneasy at being one-upped by Yan Qing in singing. Without waiting for the Yan Qing’s song music to end, Song Xueran began dancing with flare.
She had plenty experience with dancing and smoothly showed off her skill, igniting the audience to cheers.
As she finished, she raised an eyebrow at Yan Qing, “Your turn.”
Immediately the stage vibe changed. From a powerful professional-level dance performance, the music switched to the sugary cute “Renai Circulation”.
The song’s original choreography was simple and soft. Ou Yang added a few new techniques within the dance.
With her injured foot, Yan Qing completed each move without missing a beat. She kept a sweet smile on her face through the whole song, matching perfectly with the mood of the song. She held back the pain, refusing to fall on stage.
She gritted her teeth. She prepared to finish, her eyes reddening with tears.
In the audience: “Oh no, Yan Qing messed up!”
Those that knew about her injury didn’t dare to watch. Ou Yang stood up from her seat nervously. Her team mates quickly pulled her down, worried that she might get in trouble.
Everyone knew Song Xueran was President Huo’s rumoured girlfriend. The show was obviously being sponsored by Huo Corporation now. That means, this show was entirely under Huo Corporation’s control.
It was likely that there was already a secret agreement. No one dared to say anything during such an important time as the preliminary rankings round.
There was only an A and a F left. It was pretty much decided already.
The directors team also had heard about the rumours. They all were thinking the same things as the trainees.
Although, the previous news seemed to say that Yan Qing was more favoured by the production team, but it was true that Yan Qing made a mistake. Also, Huo Corporation was there like an elephant in the room. No matter, how Yan Qing was favoured by the production team, she could only go to F class now.
After dancing, Yan Qing was trembling in pain. She couldn’t speak, only lowering her head to try to collect herself. Meanwhile, the mentors team were already giving their critiques.
He Mingjin didn’t give Yan Qing a chance to speak. He straightforwardly told her, “I admit your individual potential is high. If not for the mistakes in dance, you would deserve an A. As for the highest rank, I’m sorry, it’s the truth that you almost fell in the middle of your dance.”
Yan Qing was looking at He Mingjin in the eye for the first time tonight. Her words were stuck in her throat. She blurted, “I would like to sing an additional song.”
In the competition rules, at trainees own will, it was possible to ask the mentors team to perform another audition piece.
Yan Qing didn’t want to debate her dance performance. She only wanted to sing “Good Night”, even if just a small snippet of it. She trusted that it would be enough to allow her to complete the mission An Lan had given her. She needed to reveal that she was Mu Mian. She couldn’t let her audition’s last impression to be of disappointment.
He Mingjin hesitated. In the eyes of the other mentors were reluctance.
If they gave Yan Qing another chance and she did well, it would be even harder for them to grade the two trainees.
As artists, they didn’t want to go against Huo Corporation.
He decided that he would speak with Yan Qing privately after filming. “There’s no need. We’ve had a clear view of your skills. Song Xueran’s audition was better overall. Therefore, for the final A class trainee, we’ve decided it will go to Song ——“
The mentors team’s stage lighting suddenly shut off.
He Mingjin’s words were suddenly shut off. He turned his head back in confusion, looking at the only spot in the room that still had a spotlight.
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