"We are here. I can't go any further than this young lady." The taxi driver parked the car and held out his hand for his money.
Chi Lian had not even noticed that they were now in her neighborhood. The smell of urine and cigarettes was dominant in the air.
The taxi driver held his hand over his nose and frowned. Clearly, he was very unhappy to be here.
She pulled out her only money left in the world and paid. She had only sixty Yuan left now.
The annoying voice in her head had yet to shut up. "Activate your virtual pet, activate your virtual pet, activate your...."
"Please shut up!!" she pleaded but to no avail. As she walked to her home while jumping urine and water filled puddles she longed to pull the stupid creature that was causing so much carnage inside her head out and smacking it.
"Activate your virtual pet, activate your…"
Out of anger and frustration, she replied, "No."
"Huh." The voice was shocked.
"If you don't activate me, you will die." It said.
She paused her walking. She had already experienced one death. She was not too eager to experience another one so soon. She wanted to make money and enjoy everything she had missed out on in her previous life.
But she had no desire to let her life be controlled by a system. This would need some careful maneuvering.
"I don't mind dying again." She lied through her teeth boldly.
"What can I do to make you activate me?" The voice was now softer.
"Tell me what you are. And if you leave anything important out, I will rip you apart."
"She is a barbarian." The poor system thought.
Weakly, in the voice of a child, it answered. "I am Tetris double four a virtual pet from planet Corl. It is a very developed world with technology unlike anything you have seen. However, while developing the planet, the environment was destroyed, our air was poisoned and all plant and animal life died out.
Human life too was in danger. So our scientists developed a capsule that could allow the people to breathe without worrying about the poisoned air. They came up with a way to save our planet. A drill is sent to different planets to borrow some of their nutrients which have been used to nurture Planet Corl back to life.
Unfortunately, you were pulled into the drill when it was borrowing some nutrients in your location and dumped here on the return journey. Of course, our people are not so heartless; you were placed inside the most suitable vessel with no owner, this body.
"By 'borrow' don't you mean you mean steal?
"Hmph." It replied.
A system with an attitude. Just great, she thought. I landed myself a diva.
"So you are not a system." She said.
"I am a pet. When animals died out, our scientists developed virtual pets that can keep their owner happy and entertained."
"You sound useless." She cut off its explanation. "If I want a pet, I can buy ten cats and dogs from a pet store."
"I am not useless. Activate me and I will prove myself."
"You sound like a child." She ridiculed the voice and laughed.
"I am not a child!" it sounded offended.
"But I have no use for a virtual pet. You should find an idle person. My goal is to make money and get myself out of poverty."
"I can make you rich." It said.
"I have access to some of the technology from my world. You can use it if you activate me."
Chi Lian was now interested in this pet. Technology from another world could definitely make her a wealthy woman in this world. She imagined all the gold she would be rolling around in in her private vault in a mansion and laughed.
"If you don't activate me you will die." The voice reminded her.
"My owner was part of the crew that was on the drilling trip. I fell off of my owner's arm accidentally. You and I landed here at the same time. You entered the body of a dead girl and I landed on you so I mended your body with a temporary health capsule that allowed you to come back to life.
It can only work for three months. If you don't make use of me to raise my level and access a permanent health capsule you will die."
Chi Lian was now worried. It was one thing to die suddenly at once but knowing that death was coming for you was another. She would wake every morning dreading the new day and go to bed anxious because she could not be sure that she would wake up. She did not want to live like that. She made up her mind.
"Activate virtual pet." She said.
A virtual screen appeared in front of her eyes.
"Choose the pet you want." A variety of animals appeared before her in locked boxes like a game.
Chi Lian chose a fox without hesitation. She has always loved those tiny cute red foxes.
"The little fox that was wearing Buddhist beads and a robe opened its eyes and greeted her in that childish adorable voice, "Hello owner. I am Tetris double four. We will do great things together."
His voice was the exact same one she had been having a conversation with.
"Yes owner. You have to work hard to get rich and fill up my energy reserves so that I can eventually go back to my home planet when you die of old age hopefully."
"What kind of technology can I access through you?" she asked. It was the only thing she was interested in.
'Dear owner, you can access the technology owned by my real master. You have to do the same job he does." It folded its tiny paws and bowed.
Chi Lian scoffed. How did she end up with a Buddhist fox?
"What job is that?" She was now suspicious. Everyone knows foxes are cons.
"A paparazzo." It said.
"You mean journalist."
"No, a paparazzo." It repeated.
"I knew this was too good to be true." Chi Lian sighed. She imagined her life for the next few years. Running around and being called the bottom of human trash because she would be a literal peeping tom.