SWFM 133

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Chapter 133: Whose fault is it still?

 

While the first hand that Zhang Xingke had played appeared rather low-level, it actually possessed immense killing power. While the power of public sentiment was intangible and thus easily overlooked, in truth, it was actually the most terrifying in that it could control people’s hearts.

Since times long past, public sentiment had been the main battlefield of opposing sides. Even though information had not been so easily spread back in those days, both sides would always release some declaration of righteousness before departing for battle, bringing down the image of their enemies.

However, on such a battlefield, due to his understanding of Zhang Xingke being too low, Xu Tingsheng was completely unable to resist.

Their opponent was one who knew how to manipulate public sentiment and was also clearly sufficiently prepared. Zhang Xingke might already have gathered all this information a long time ago. This exceeded Xu Tingsheng’s expectations somewhat. Zhang Xingke was indeed not an easy opponent.

He had prepared himself sufficiently before coming to find Hucheng.

Xu Tingsheng began to understand why all Zhang Xingke’s previous competitors had met defeat at his hands without fail, why he had been able to control the entire market all by himself for close to a year.

This was a truly remarkable person indeed.

With the blame all on him, Xu Tingsheng dared not return to the third floor as he hid in his room on the second floor, thinking about what he could do.

Old Wai pushed the door and entered, “Bro Xu, should we counterattack now?”

“Counterattack?”

“The few of us just had a discussion. We think that perhaps we should try to find the hosts of those forums. Even if we have to fork out some cash for it, we should get them to help take down those threads…or we could post something in clarification.”

Xu Tingsheng pondered on Old Wai’s suggestion for a while before resolutely shaking his head and rejecting it.

If the threads were deleted, on the one hand, the other party could simply just post some again, while on the other, it would also be an admission that Hucheng was in the wrong, and was being tyrannical again. Such would instead enrage the student population to a greater extent.

As for a clarification post, with how it was now, unless Gu Yan herself was willing to come forth and defend Hucheng, whatever clarification that they tried would simply be useless. The influence of public sentiment was such that many a times, so long as it had been directed somewhere, there would be no seeing any reason for them.

As for Gu Yan, Xu Tingsheng felt a headache coming on as soon as he thought about her, “With her impression and accumulated bias regarding me, she would probably be happy to see me die right now.”

Seeing Xu Tingsheng shake his head, rejecting his proposal, Old Wai felt rather disappointed. He opened his mouth, but eventually still refrained.

“Still, it’s not like we can’t counterattack at all,” Xu Tingsheng suddenly added.

“How?” Old Wai joyfully asked.

“If someone throws over a punch and we can’t block it, there’s no need for us to spend so much time thinking about how we might do so. At the same time that he is punching us, we just have to throw over a punch of our own as well,” Xu Tingsheng said.

Old Wai asked uncomprehendingly, “What do you mean?”

Xu Tingsheng thought for a moment before saying, “Other than home tutoring, doesn’t Zhang Xingke act as an intermediary for other kinds of labour as well? Such as looking for people to hand out flyers and the like.”

“I can get you to add a section on our platform now that acts as an information dissemination platform. For example, if a supermarket wants to look for someone to help them distribute flyers and raise signboards, we can provide a space for them to do so, allowing them to disseminate information on their own. Then, the information has to clearly specify the time, location, type and remuneration for the job as well as the conditions for hiring and the number of people needed etcetera.”

“This would allow university students to register themselves for these on the platform. Will there be any difficulty in programming this?”

Old Wai understood Xu Tingsheng’s meaning. If you hit me, I’d only be able to make you hurt as well. Both of us eating a loss is better than just me alone getting hit.

Having understood this, having originally been feeling greatly stifled, Old Wai rejoiced, “That shouldn’t be hard. We’d be able to quickly get it done ourselves.”

“Get to it then! Show it to me when you’re done,” Xu Tingsheng said, “I’ve still got a free elective lesson to attend.”

The Xu Tingsheng who usually treated skipping lessons just as he would normally eating a meal was actually still going to attend a free elective lesson now? Rendered rather speechless, Old Wai turned and left, getting back to work.

He conveyed Xu Tingsheng’s intentions to those in the office, joyful whoops thus resounding…at the very least, everyone no longer felt so stifled. Still being able to retaliate, it was all good.

When Xu Tingsheng had finished his lesson and was back at the riverside residence eating lunch with the rest, over on the other end, Zhang Xingke suddenly flung his bowl onto the ground whilst eating in front of his employees, the rice and dishes scattering all around.

He had just seen the new section that had opened on Hucheng. Originally having been focused simply on home tutoring, Hucheng had suddenly become the intermediary for other labour services as well. Additionally, these services were free of charge.

Xu Tingsheng was making a move on the last piece of his, Zhang Xingke’s, pie.

“You want to go all out to see me dead?” Zhang Xingke muttered to himself before clenching his teeth and smiling sinisterly, “Let’s see who dies first then.”

Goosebumps rose on the skin of the employees behind him as they thought, “Wasn’t it clearly you who hacked them with a blade first? Isn’t it only natural for one to retaliate in a fight?”

Of course, no one dared to say this out loud, all hurriedly shoving more food into their mouths. They all understood Zhang Xingke’s personality very well. Since he would not be eating any longer, they would quickly be disallowed from eating as well.

“What’re you still eating for? Put’em down, get to work!” Indeed, Zhang Xingke turned and roared.

Then, Zhang Xingke went out of the room and made a call.
……

In comparison to this, the meal over on Xu Tingsheng’s side went on much more harmoniously. Seeing that everyone was rather silent, he even specially recited a few anecdotes and also teased the two girls a little, livening up the atmosphere.

Just having finished with a story, when everyone was still laughing, a technician who was in charge of monitoring the platform on the third floor came down, saying rather despondently, “Zhang Xingke’s at it again.”

“Again?” Old Wai opened his mouth wide, a large amount of rice visible within.

Lu Zhixin and the others successively put down their chopsticks.

“Let’s eat our fill first,” Xu Tingsheng said, “When there’re many mosquitoes, there’s no being afraid of the itch. We have to eat our fill to have the energy to fight a war. This cucumber is delicious and also beautifies, eat more of it.”

They could only pick up their chopsticks, raise their bowls and patiently accompany him in finishing their meal.

“What is it this time?” Having entered the office on the third floor, Xu Tingsheng immediately asked.

“Bro Xu, why does it seem like you’re excited? Is it that you feel that new trouble having come, the blame will no longer be on you?” A technician who was good with words teased him, “But who knows, it might be your fault again this time.”

“It can’t be, right? Let’s have a look,” Xu Tingsheg minded not as he smilingly crowded over.

He already cared not how great the storm outside might be. At the very least, he didn’t want to see an air of doom and gloom hanging over Hucheng with them getting all flustered and losing their footing.

The post this time was from the Yanzhou City Citizen Forum. The current Hucheng was already rather well-known and influential in Yanzhou. Thus, there were quite a lot of people who had read the post and commented on it.

This post was entitled: Who exactly have you handed your children over to?

The first sentence was: People who can’t even study well themselves-dare you believe that they can help others to improve?

The content beneath it consisted of the end-semester results of the key personnel of Hucheng.

The contents of this post were actually rather insubstantial. For example, it had Xu Tingsheng’s end-semester results within. However, he hadn’t failed anything, even having scored 61 points for his worst module.

Having more ‘persuasive power’ were Old Wai’s results. This guy had flunked a total of four modules, having just barely scraped by for the rest. Part of his results were emboldened and highlighted in red.

“Look, everyone see? The blame’s on Old Wai this time.”

Xu Tingsheng was smiling happily as he scrolled downwards, and he yelled out in joy as soon as the second half of the post was displayed, “Woah, never would I have thought, Zhixin. The blame’s on you as well.”

Everyone got to clearly experience Xu Tingsheng’s shamelessness now. While Hucheng was in the midst of being attacked by others, he was instead feeling happy over having successfully shifted the blame off himself.

“Really, never would I have thought!” Xu Tingsheng continued in his elation, “I’d always thought…It’s fine for someone like Old Wai who looks like a study dreg as soon as you see him. But never would I have thought! You Lu Zhixin seem so much like a study queen, yet actually also failed stuff? Woah, and it’s also TWO modules at that.”

Xu Tingsheng didn’t notice that the more excited he got, the darker Lu Zhixin’s face became.

“Get lost! Isn’t it all because of you?!” Lu Zhixin pushed Xu Tingsheng away, coming before the computer herself.

Her results were indeed displayed there, with two awkward failed modules that had been emboldened.

Lu Zhixin had failed modules? This was indeed rather unexpected, everyone having been taken by surprise.

They were also curious about that ‘Isn’t it all because of you?’ What did Lu Zhixin mean, having told Xu Tingsheng that?

“It’s all your fault,” Lu Zhixin turned back and glared at Xu Tingsheng before swivelling her head away in a huff, “Back then, if not for…that thing between us…”

Lu Zhixin had not finished her sentence, but everyone understood with that what she meant.

Lu Zhixin meant that the reason for her having failed those modules was precisely the drama of those two confessions between her and Xu Tingsheng back at the ending phase of the previous semester. It was due to that that her performance in the examinations had been affected.

“It’s still your fault,” The technician blinked towards Xu Tingsheng.

“It’s Old Wai’s,” Unable to offend Lu Zhixin, Xu Tingsheng could only firmly insist that the blame lay with Old Wai.

“The hell, why didn’t they post Linlin’s? Linlin has a first-degree scholarship!” Old Wai was diverting the topic as well.

“Right, if they don’t post it, we will. Post Linlin’s results, and also my and Lu Zhixin’s university entrance examination results,” Xu Tingsheng said.

The technician began working on the rebuttal post. Everyone wasn’t really feeling much troubled by this. As compared to that punch in the morning, the current one by Zhang Xingke really felt a little too gentle.

Its effects on Hucheng would be far less serious as compared to that by Gu Yan’s incident in the morning.

The comments below the post also confirmed everyone’s judgments. Aside from some who expressed worry and concern as well as a few who joined in the outrage, the remaining commenters didn’t really feel too much about it at all.

Someone replied: What are you trying to prove? I don’t get it.

Another went: It’s also not like they’re our children’s teachers. The teacher I found for my child on their platform scored really well.

Someone agreed: It’s the same for me as well. Mine even got a scholarship last semester. I’ve seen those results.

And there was also: Must all the employees of Xinhua Bookstore have graduated from top universities then?
……

After they had posted their results, the ensuing comments on the thread swiftly began leaning towards Hucheng. To some extent, this even brought Hucheng to the attention of yet more people, barely being considerable as a free advertisement.

The more this was so, the more uneasy Xu Tingsheng felt. It felt impossible that Zhang Xingke could be so easily thwarted. “The worst thing is if this post is merely the prelude to something.”

A while later, his thoughts were proven to be true as another technician who was monitoring the computer raised his head, a hesitant and pained expression on his face, “Take a look at this. It’s really serious this time.”


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