2014, City of Jin Ling, China
The blazing hot sun in June was heating up the ground as if it were trying to evaporate every last bit of water from the asphalt roads.
Lu Zhou listened to the sound of cars honking and looked at the busy people rushing along the streets. He stood in front of the Telecom Business Hall as he stared straight at the roads. Although cooled air occasionally blew across his back, his thick costume prevented him from experiencing the luxury of air conditioning.
Someone might ask, why was he here?
Of course, it was for survival…
Okay, let's clarify.
Telecom Business Hall partnered with Vivo phones to do a promotion over the summer holidays. Workers were paid 60 yuan an hour to stand outside the door in a puppet costume. The pay was almost double the pay of him handing out flyers and not to mention, he did not have to suffer from people rolling their eyes at him. Additionally, because the temperature outside was over 30 degrees, he would receive a 10 yuan per hour bonus. This added up to a total of 70 yuan per hour.
After Lu Zhou heard about the salary, he did not even hesitate before accepting the job.
Analyzing it logically, if on average he worked five hours a day, that amounted to 350 yuan a day. If he worked thirty days a month, that would add up to 10,500 yuan.
Who would have thought that a six-figure job was actually located at the entrance of the Telecom Business Hall?
Of course, Lu Zhou knew that even the rich and powerful Huawei could not afford to do promotions every day, much less a company like Vivo.
However, even if he only worked for a week, he would still earn 2600 yuan.
Just as Lu Zhou got so bored that he started to count the number of leaves on a parasol tree, a fat and dark-skinned man who was wiping the sweat off his face walked toward him.
The fat man's name was Wu Dahai, and like Lu Zhou, he also majored in mathematics at the University of Jin Ling. However, Wu Dahai was two years older. He was in his third year and would be going into his fourth year in a couple of months. He was the manager of these part-time working students. It was him that introduced Lu Zhou to this puppet costume wearing job.
"Lu Zhou, are you okay? How about we find someone to replace you? You can go rest in the Telecom Business Hall for a bit," said Wu Dahai. His physique was not made for this kind of horrible heat. His whole body was drenched as if someone just lifted him out of the water.
Even though he really wanted to rest, Lu Zhou shook his head and said, "I'm okay, I can still maintain for a bit."
"I said, are you really okay or not? You've been standing here for a whole afternoon," said Wu Dahai with a worried expression on his face.
He was actually scared that the guy was going to get a heat stroke.
"I'm fine, honestly. You don't need to worry about me," said Lu Zhou. As he firmly shook his head, he added, "I'll finish in an hour. I've already been here for so long, I can do an hour more. Don't you agree?"
Wu Dahai looked at Lu Zhou and hesitantly said, "Okay… I won't worry about you then."
"Yeah, go and do your own stuff."
Wu Dahai saw how firm Lu Zhou was, so he did not persist.
Actually, Wu Dahai felt lucky.
After all, it was difficult to find someone who would be willing to work in this hot weather. There were quite a lot of part-time workers, but most were not as hardworking as Lu Zhou. Otherwise, it could have resulted in Wu Dahai having to wear the "puppet costume" himself.
After the fat guy walked away, Lu Zhou turned back and continued to stare at the parasol tree outside of the Telecom Business Hall.
Suddenly, Lu Zhou felt the view in front of him was looking kind of weird.
Why are the people on the street… flying toward the sky?
His legs felt weak and his entire body fell onto the ground.
With what remaining consciousness that he had, he heard the sound of footsteps hurrying toward him and shouting coming from the Telecom Business Hall.
"The mascot at the front door is having a heatstroke!"
"Quick, take off his helmet and bring him some water!"
"F*ck me, Lu Zhou, please tell me you are okay!"
"No response, not good. Quick, send him to the hospital!"
"Use my car!"
The last ray of light vanished from his sight bringing forth endless darkness…
Lu Zhou was a first-year student that majored in mathematics at Jin Ling University and he would be going into his second year in a few months. In the beginning, he applied for software engineering, but he was a few marks short from the requirements. In the end, he had to compromise and went to the unpopular mathematics department.
Sometimes Lu Zhou could not help but asked himself, what was the point of studying this horrible major for four years?
It seemed like there was no answer.
There were two standard paths for math majors, either going into further academic studies (overseas or graduate studies), or switching into another major.
Actually one could also work at the University, but as a bachelor student, one would have to be very close with the teachers. However, even if one stayed to work, one would only be doing miscellaneous work. It would be better to stay and do a Master's degree instead.
However, it was not realistic for Lu Zhou to do a Master's degree.
Lu Zhou's family was located in Jiang Ling. Even though the name sounded similar to Jin Ling, they were thousands of miles apart. His middle-class father was working at a metal factory in Jiang Ling. His sick mother was retired at home and spent quite a lot of money on healthcare.
His entire family relied on his dad's income. He also had a little sister in high school and it was going to be expensive when she went to university.
His father's intentions were to not let Lu Zhou worry about money. Instead, he wanted Lu Zhou to continue his studies and get a doctor's degree.
However, Lu Zhou clearly knew that this was not possible.
Given that he had already set half a foot into the society, he had to consider other more realistic issues.
To be more specific, he had to consider his money problems.
He did not want to be a burden for his family or an encumbrance to his little sister's future. Therefore, ever since he entered the university, he wanted to become financially independent. While others were out celebrating their youth singing at clubs or studying hard at the library, he was handing out flyers, installing routers, and delivering food.
Sometimes he could not help but ask himself what was the point of university life. The jobs that he was doing did not require any skills that even a high school student could do it. A high school student might even do it better. At least, they would not get a heat stroke merely from standing for a few hours outside an air-conditioned room.
Yet, like the question of a "mathematics major's career", there was no answer to this question.
At that moment, he fell down…
When his consciousness finally returned, Lu Zhou was stunned as he looked around at the white surroundings.
What… is this place?
No one answered.
With his memory being in some kind of foggy state, he recalled that he had a heat stroke at the Telecom Business Hall and that some kind individuals carried him into a car before sending him to the hospital. However, the place did not look like a hospital at all. It did not even look like real life.
Just as Lu Zhou was feeling anxious about this situation, a semi-transparent screen suddenly emerged in front of him. He was so scared that he jumped backward.
High tech… system? What the hell?!
Lu Zhou was shocked as he looked at the black texts that gradually emerged on the semi-transparent screen. He immediately felt excited.
Could it be… I was selected by the legendary system?
He had read novels online that was about this.
With a gulp, Lu Zhou asked, "System… what can you do?"
Although there was no mysterious voice answering his question, words started to appear on the transparent holographic screen.
High tech system:
This system is dedicated to improving the level of the user's education level. As for the system's secrets, please explore them yourself. As for the system's functions, detailed instructions will be given to the user.
The main interface of the system is as follows:
※Core science: The trunk of the technology tree focuses on theory. There is a level 10 limit. Experience points can be only earned from missions and cannot be redeemed from general points. A completed technology tree will unlock futuristic options and giant engineering missions.
A. Mathematics: The basis of all subjects. It will determine the level limit for other science subjects.
B. Physics: Can help you understand the universe.
C. Biology: Can help you understand yourself.
D. Engineering: Transform tools, the environment, and the world.
E. Materials Science: Materials and engineering cannot be separated.
F. Energy Science: From fossil fuels to Helium-3, from lithium batteries to antimatter batteries, from the wireless transmission to ultra-long distance laser transmission, all life feeds on using entropy. The development of energy is at the distant stars of the sea.
G. Information Science: Genetics is God's code, whereas the ultimate goal of the code is to create a god.
※Technology branch: These are the branches of the technology tree. After unlocking a specific technology branch, experience points are needed to level up. 1 experience point can be exchanged by 1 general point.
For example: Genetics level 1 requires biology level 1, but you can also unlock genetics level 1 by consuming 100 general points. (0/1000)
Genetics level 2 requires biology level 2, engineering level 1, and 1000 experience points. Only then you are able to go from level 1 genetics to level 2 genetics. (0/?)
Technical Blueprint: As what the name implies. Easy to understand technical blueprints. They contain small projects such as a nanochip, to giant projects such as a Dyson sphere.
If you meet the manufacturing requirements, they can be produced by following the instructions of the blueprints.
General points: Can be used to activate the mission rewards, or consume 200 points to generate a new random mission. Can be consumed to solve technical problems. (Price of solving the problem depends on the subject level, technical difficulty, and the difficulty in solving the problem)
Missions: Three random missions are generated every time. You can choose to execute one of the missions. Upon completion, the rewards from the respective mission are given. After the completion of the mission, the mission panel would be reset immediately.
Lu Zhou did not even know what facial expression to use. He thought that mathematics was useless but the system conveyed that mathematics was the father of all other subjects. The feeling of redemption had rendered him speechless.
Lu Zhou was about to encounter something that was going to surprise him even more.
After the instructions disappeared, his characteristic panel immediately appeared.
High tech system:
User: Lu Zhou
A. Mathematics: Level 0 (0/1000)
B. Physics: Level 0 (0/1000)
C. Biology: Level 0 (0/1000)
D. Engineering: Level 0 (0/1000)
E. Materials science: Level 0 (0/1000)
F. Energy science: Level 0 (0/1000)
G. Information science: Level 0 (0/1000)
Technology branch: None
Technical blueprints: None
General points: 0
"Even though I wasn't a straight A student, but I was still in one of the best universities. Isn't this row of zeros a bit insulting?"
Lu Zhou did not know if he should laugh or cry as he looked at the row of zeros.
This system must have made a mistake!
Just as Lu Zhou was thinking about it, his shoulders started to shake violently and his consciousness was immediately pulled out from the pure white dimension.