Shen Yuan often described what the obnoxious ⟦ System ⟧ was like to Shang Qinghua, though he had never seen or heard from it himself. Blaring alarms, obnoxious point deductions, completely arbitrary ideas of what made things ‘cool—’ Shen Yuan had loudly cursed them all. Of course, Shang Qinghua was the only one that could understand his complaints, and so he was the number 2 expert in their novel (ha) world when it came to its bizarre machinations and seemingly endless whims.
That didn’t mean he was anywhere near prepared for it to come knocking on the door to his consciousness.
Why was the system bothering him? His control over this world had been tenuous at best, even pre-Ramening! What made ⟦ System ⟧ think he was even the slightest bit qualified to make changes to this world? Wasn’t Shen Yuan’s entire reason for even being in this world to fix all of the glaring plot holes the irresponsible author left behind?? Why give him the ability to add more! He had shown he wasn’t the best at writing things other than his own wish fulfillment. Plus, it wasn’t like he could redeem any of the tips or V-bucks his readers gave him anymore! What motivation did he even have for taking on more thankless work?
That was answered quickly enough, as ⟦ System ⟧ defaulted to its tried and true tactic of ‘do the thing or I kick you back to your ramen-soaked electrocuted corpse.’
Now if only he could have had an editor as scary as the System before he died, he wouldn’t have even needed Cucumber-bro to fix his mistakes.
Why were changes even needed?
Hadn’t the plot already ended?
The series was over, stupid ⟦ System ⟧! Nobody wanted a spinoff featuring the weak and weaselly Shang Qinghua! Yue Qingyuan, Liu Qingge, Zhuzhi-Lang, maybe even Mu Qingfang, any of those would make sense! Why focus on a nobody character that only appeared to advance the plot or run errands for his demon lord? He was just a janitor! An accountant! Lowly, lowly support staff! The world didn’t need him, so what kind of plot could ⟦ System ⟧ suggest that would keep even hate-readers subscribing?
His answer came when a blinking blue box appeared in his field of vision.
『New Mission Unlocked : Side Story : Mobei-Jun 』
Shen Yuan hadn’t appeared as Shen Qingqiu because people wanted a story about the Peak Lord! He had transmigrated to make the story better for Luo Binghe! Of course no one would care about Shang Qinghua’s boring little not-story, but if he was there to make Mobei-Jun look even cooler…
And who wouldn’t want to read more about Mobei-Jun?
Airplane Shooting Towards The Sky didn’t like to play favorites with his babies, but Mobei-Jun was far more babe or bae than baby, so it hardly counted.
He could absolutely support his King in getting his own spinoff! He definitely wouldn’t need any help seeming cooler, but it wouldn’t be hard at all to advance the plot for his sake!
Shang Qinghua settled down to figure out how the hell to accept his challenge. He tried hovering his gaze over the box, looking past it, reaching out to touch it, poking it with a stick, all to no avail. Next came using spiritual energy to click it, followed by several verbal commands. None worked. Did he even have the ability to accept it himself? Did he need administrator privileges? What could be higher than his own authorial privilege?? Shen Qingqiu managed to accept and reject these little prompts all the time, so why couldn’t he?
The author turned An Ding Peak Lord resigned himself to having to just ask his bro how to do something so very basic.
What wasn’t basic was figuring out how the fuck to see past the semi-opaque floating boxes while he tried to ride his sword to his friend’s bamboo house. Just as he reached his friend’s peak, he got caught up in some bamboo. It sent him from flying on a sword to flying into the treeline, tumbling head over heels.
When he rolled to a stop at Luo Binghe’s feet, the mysterious ⟦ System ⟧ box was gone.
Well, at least there was that.
He wasn’t sure what exactly had clicked the box during his crash. Perhaps he just needed to somersault to make it work? He wasn’t exactly coordinated enough for gymnastics, but maybe he could adjust the motion controls somehow?
Luo Binghe stared down at the woozy man at his feet, summarily unimpressed.
Would it kill you to show your papa a little affection? After all, he was the only reason you existed, and so the only reason you got to papapa Shen Qingqiu at all! Be grateful, Luo Binghe!
“Shizun is busy. Go away.” the demon king huffed, glaring down at his subordinate’s subordinate.
He’s not just a subordinate, Protag! He’s also your Shishu! Show some respect!
“ Binghe! What have I said about speaking that way to guests?” Came Shen Qingqiu’s voice from somewhere inside the bamboo house.
Luo Binghe glanced back over his shoulder, large body continuing to fill the doorway so Shang Qinghua couldn’t see inside. “It’s Shang Qinghua.”
“Oh.” There was a certain note of extra contempt in the voice that drifted over from the area of his bro’s bedroom. “Tell him to go away.”
Shang Qinghua had heard that particular accusatory tone often enough to recognize the signs. He really hadn’t meant for Luo Binghe to be so bad at gay sex, bro! It had never even crossed his mind as a possibility! Don’t blame him if you can’t walk, that was all on his stupid super stamina having son! “It’s impoooortant!” he cried, not bothering to stand up from the surprisingly comfortable dirt he was laying in. “Also, I may have a concussion?”
“Good, that makes you Mu Qingfang’s problem.” Came the unsympathetic voice of his best friend, yet it sounded a little closer than before.
“Bro, can I come in?”
“Don’t ‘bro’ me, Shang Qinghua,” Shen Qingqiu griped, stepping up from behind his husband. He busily adjusted his haphazardly donned robes as his fellow peak lord scrambled to his feet. As soon as they were both mostly vertical, the taller of the pair sent the shorter the internationally recognized glare of ‘fuck you want?’
Shang Qinghua gulped, immediately breaking eye contact. Why did he feel guilty? “I, uh, I unlocked something?”
“...unlocked?” his response was said in such a way that made it clear he was not only unimpressed, but would’ve been kicking him if his ass wasn’t aching so much.
Gulp. “From… ⟦ System ⟧ …?” he smiled weakly, but continued before Shen Qingqiu could further threaten his life with such a scary face. “I-it’s a mission about M...ehm bee jay.”
“...that first letter better stand for ‘Mo,’ because if that message is anything dirty I will single-handedly reinvent the exposed wires, electricity, and ramen just for you.”
Shang Qinghua shivered, nodding seriously.
Soon enough they were settled at a low table, discussing the recent development in hushed tones. Luo Binghe had been shooed away to fetch dinner ingredients from some forest beasts, giving them the chance to talk freely.
“I just don’t understand,” Shen Yuan sighed into his tea cup, feeling a migraine fast approaching.
“Neither do I, bro, but I figured you should know, for your sake.” Shen Yuan sent him a disbelieving look, cowing Shang Qinghua. “...and also maybe help keep me from dying? C’mon bro, imagine how unsatisfied you’d be if this poor author was killed off by some high and mighty system after all your hard work keeping me alive!”
“Mm, you’re right, only I can throttle you to death,” Shen Yuan nodded sagely, expression serious.
Shen Qingqiu snorted, setting down the cup. “I’m kidding…” he grinned cheekily at the shorter man, adding “Mobei-Jun obviously has also earned that right.”
Shang Qinghua made a strangled noise of pain, dropping his face into his folded arms. “Bro, I’m serious!”
Shen Qingqiu sobered up, expression turning grave as he realized a new worry. “Does this have anything to do with my Binghe? What are the details? Did you already accept?” A small amount of fear crept into his voice as he kept thinking out loud. “I worked too damn hard to keep things from turning out how you wrote them. I swear to ⟦ System ⟧, if you endangered our happy ending—”
The An Ding Peak Lord shifted so he could look at his fellow transmigrator, though kept his chin resting on his arms. “It didn’t say anything about you two. I think it’s just about Mobei-Jun. You’re safe.”
The taller human answered with only a clearing of his throat, but the relief in his eyes was unmistakable. “That’s...good. Okay, here’s what I know:”
What began as a highly informative explanation of the system’s inner workings quickly dissolved into yet another tirade about how unfair and bullshit it really was.
Hang in there, HuaHua.