Chapter 3 – Self-Service
Although Li Jianye wracked his brain and came up with a better idea, he was not complacent for long. Being a ‘Guide’ is no easy task to begin with. Having to deal with hundreds of players one after another, he didn’t even have time to rest. The process was so mentally exhausting, with no other choice, he had to put in the extra effort, in the end, to make the process more simple and efficient.
Not willing to scan? OK! Off you go with a template character.
Not satisfied with your stats after scanning? Please, also use the template character.
Can’t get the IGN you want? The System will directly generate some for you from its library, you only need to choose the one you want.
After sending off yet another player, Li Jianye took the chance to look at the time before the next player would arrive. He had already worked for more than two hours. It is hard to believe that this game is so popular that people are willing to wait for such a long time.
Based on his observations, the player at the back awaiting service did not have an expression of impatience, it was as if he had not been waiting for so long or, perhaps, had he used some sort of skill to adjust the flow of time?
“Hold up!” At the thought of adjusting time, he realized that he might have forgotten something.
He then took another look at the “calm” person that was isolated in a void by him, which at this point in time, had already fallen into a state of insanity.
Due to the condition that he was not allowed to logout, the span of two hours, compounded by the twenty-fold speed adjustment on the flow of time, it would feel like he had been forced to wait for almost two days! At least, that was what it seemed like to his senses.
“Ding! System notification, the rate of new players entering the game has decreased, the peak period is now over, temporary Guide duties will now end, all idle programs will successively be switched back to their original task with the current task rewards.”
No new players appeared, instead, what awaited was the cold unfeeling voice of the system. Li Jianye dismissed the punishment of the half conscious player casually. He disappeared with a flash of light and was transferred to the care of another Guide somewhere else.
The scenery before Li Jianye’s eyes changed, what met him when he reopened his eyes was the original white fog of the waiting area with a subtle difference. The indistinct silhouettes, that were outside the fog originally, had all disappeared. He stood there dazed, for a moment, before he thought of connecting his consciousness to the data storage’s core to search for the newest updates.
“No.0728, according to your efficiency in using the system’s resources and the number of players you have serviced, you have received a letter grade: ‘A’. Your base reward for this task has been doubled and as such your have been awarded 2 contribution points”
The voice died down. Li Jianye was suspended in thought when he came to the realization, “Isn’t this the same as the evil boss from where I used to work; using the employee’s contribution to determine their reward… only difference is the worst case scenario here is not getting fired, but…
He had received information regarding the system’s periodic clean-up and the next clean-up was to be in ten days of the system’s time. The programs that are ranked in the last 1,000 will then be destroyed, freeing up resources. While, at the same time, the system will also deduct 100 contribution points as a sort of “maintenance fee”. Those that do not have enough contribution points will also be regarded as scrap programs.
There is a method to earn contribution points, other than additional tasks like the last job. According to the different roles of the program; system will, at a fixed interval, give out an appropriate number of contribution points, like wages of some sort.
For example, for the task of a professional guide, Mainframe had assigned 10,000 programs. After a period of time, if they fulfill their task regularly, they would receive a sum of contribution points every month depending on the individual’s efficiency.
In the future, there would be fewer new players, which will result in some programs not being able to accomplish their task and thus not receiving enough points to compensate for the deduction. The consequence for most is to go through reprograming and be posted to another sector, or be completely erased, freeing up space for a whole new program.
All this information is obtained from the data storage’s core by Li Jianye. The truth is, since he was made to be an NPC till now, he had not met any other NPCs so his understanding of fellow NPCs was limited.
“I don’t have a fixed post? Doesn’t this mean that I have to remain here forever?” Thinking about this crucial issue, momentarily, Li Jianye developed a headache. To think that the relevant answers could not be found in the database. Every program created by Mainframe has a purpose so how could such an absurd situation occur?
No sector means no regular ‘wages’, and relying on the occasional large-scale task to get enough contribution points was just too difficult.
Li Jianye who had reverted back to a ball of light anxiously pondered, he unconsciously traced one large circle from where he was at. This anxious movement had unexpectedly uncovered something… right behind him, not far from his location, was the existence of a luminous door, and it’s appearance was the exact same as the door he came from.
“Damn. I must have overworked, to even think of myself as an NPC, why should I stay here to work for Mainframe if I can get out of here?” At this thought of his, he rushed toward the luminous door. A shadow came slipping out of the white blackish light.
In the moment before he could enter through the door, a string of new notification lit up. Appearing before the door was an invisible boundary which prevented him from taking another ‘step’ forward.
“Warning! The eight hour time quota today is not yet met, please return as soon as possible. Based on the newly laid《Highest Citizen Law》, the thirty-fifth amendment, every citizen must fulfil a daily eight hours of time in the game in order to ensure that their souls receive ample rest.”
“Highest Citizen Law”? What the heck? As Li Jianye thought about it, he realised that it was the real world regulation of this parallel world in the future.
“What consequences will I face for not fulfilling it?” Out of caution, he inquired through the core of the data storage.
“If the online time quota is not met, you will receive a warning for the first occurrence, after which the offender will be prosecuted by the government and the requirement will be enforced, this proposed law has gained support from 87% of the population and has the highest legal standing.”
F*ck! The future has gone as far as to force people to play this game just to help their soul relax? What kind of world is this?
Compared to his curiosity for exploring the unknown world, Li Jianye is more concerned about whether this rule applies to him too.
He experimented moving closer towards the luminous door. The Mainframe’s warning sign proved to not be substantially binding, light easily entering through the door. This time, when Li Jianye opened his eyes, he was not back in the sickbay, instead, he found himself in an abnormally wide tunnel.
Behind him was an identical luminous door and on the walls of the tunnel were colours that swirled continuously, forming chaotic patterns. Just looking at it gives people a splitting headache and a nauseated feeling. At the same time, from the outside came a powerful rumbling sound that could shake the soul.
Li Jianye’s heart was full of a fear for the unknown. Very carefully, he controlled his own soul, that was in the form of a ball of light, to float down the middle of the tunnel trying his best not to touch the surroundings. He was lucky that the tunnel was very wide so there was no risk of hitting the wall unintentionally.
After advancing for some distance, the passage started to shrink like the neck of a vase and he felt as if he was a bug that was stuck inside that vase.
Seeing a dead end in front of him, Li Jianye heart went cold, but still he continued forward slowly, unwilling to give up. Finally, in the middle of the wall, he found a very small hole only 5mm in diameter
Slowly closing in, Li Jianye intently looked through the small hole to see more clearly what is on the other side, but suddenly, from within came a powerful suction which pulled him in.
Li Jianye let out a groan and had a sudden realization. This is his real voice, coming out from his own throat and not just the sound of consciousness conversing as he would in the game of the other world.
He opened his eyes and the darkness of the hospital ward entered his sight. The half drawn white drape in the shadow makes one’s hair stand on end, as it looked just like the clothes of a woman’s ghost.
However, Li Jianye was not one bit terrified, to be able to return to his current world/time, there wasn’t even enough time for him to be happy.
If not for the fear of waking the person beside him, he would be sure to jump for joy and celebrate, but for now, he only let out a soft shout.
The sound of snoring came from the other bed, no one was there to share his joy in escaping death.
After being emotional, he picked up the phone at his side, open it and saw that the ‘last will’ he wrote not long ago was still there. He deleted it and took a look at the time to which he realized that only five minutes had passed.
The Mainframe had adjusted the scale between the actual time and the time in game such that even he did not feel the difference. It was like the previously spent three years in the game, but the actual time passed was only eight months.
However, to confirm this point, he had to go into the game again, there may even be discrepancies other than the time flow difference.
Li Jianye hesitated, truth be told, this kind of weird experience may be envious for some, but in reality, only those who had experienced it will know that this easy and comfortable world is the best. What’s so great about adventures? The fine line between life and death is just too terrifying!
Throwing down his phone, Li Jianye lay down, mentally exhausted, and the only thought in his muddled mind was to fall asleep.
“Ding! Attention, your game time quota for the day has not been reached!”
“Damn it!” As he was falling asleep, somewhere deep inside his consciousness came the cold monotonous voice of the system, tormenting him to the point it’s like a living hell.
“Shit, can’t you just let me rest? What a shit game system! What a marvelous future world!” His heart filled with anger that cannot be dissipated, Li Jianye pressed onto his feverish forehead, “Fine! Your father! I just have to enter the game. Right!” In the situation where his life is not in direct danger, he did not want to draw the attention of the Mainframe again. It’s enough for a whole lifetime just to experience that terrifying lightning ball once.
Using his will power to connect to the deep-spirit luminous door, Li Jianye’s soul passed through the crevice between the two worlds once again and appeared in a tunnel. This time, out of habit, he cast a look behind him facing the small narrow hole on the formless walls.
Drifting down the, seemingly endless, wide tunnel Li Jianye inexplicably understood something, the black lightning ball used previously by the Mainframe to destroy him had definitely broke through the tunnel in front of him. However, the energy released during the process did not destroy his physical body but instead widened the tunnel that connects the two worlds, and finally after all the energies were exhausted, a small part remained unbroken which became the small narrow hole.
If the deduction is correct, this means that Mainframe did have the ability to destroy his physical body, but the power of the lightning ball previously just wasn’t strong enough.
This thought is indeed traumatizing! Not knowing how much distance remained in this small passage or if it can withstand one more shot of the lightning ball. Li Jianye simply did not have any idea and can only guess during the short time taken to overcome the remaining distance.
Drifting out of the wide tunnel, the scenery was still the same unchanging white fog, “My problem still remains unsolved!” Li Jianye stood dazed for a good 10 seconds before helplessly connecting himself again to the interior of the data storage to search for an answer.
This kind of interaction makes one feel disgusted, it felt like one’s own body was forcibly being stuffed with foreign things. Although Li Jianye vaguely knew that the data storage could be of help to him, deep down in his heart, he still rejects this form of interaction.
Following the connection, he dove deeper. The interaction with the black core of the data storage was also getting closer and closer but at the same time, he also gained something.
“New Player Detected… ‘System’ will immediately help assign a guide to assist you in creating your own character!”
“Guide 0728, Please service the new player that’s beside you in the whole process of creating a character.”
Both messages were received at the same time, stunning Li Jianye. System is having me service myself?
“So, System could make this kind of logical error?” As he pondered in his heart, Li Jianye in reality knew that it was just that Mainframe was not paying attention to it. Only people like him, who is an NPC yet, still miraculously maintain their own will, have a possibility to exploit this loophole.
Creating my own character… if I don’t use my position for personal gain, won’t I come to regret it?