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Chapter 2

She dreamt of fire, that hot, scorching fire from the crash. She would never forget the agony she felt from those flames as they consumed her entire being. Somehow she could relive every dreadful moment of those reddish-orange flames burning her alive until she died.

A loud scream escaped her lips as she awoke from the horrifying nightmare that she was in. She frantically checked her surroundings only to find herself in her old bedroom back at the orphanage.

‘Was it all a dream?’ she wondered to herself as she got out of the bed.

Shaking her head, she got rid of that thought. What she experienced couldn’t have been a dream, it felt way too real to be something she had just dreamt up. But if it wasn’t a dream she couldn’t imagine how she would be back in her room at the orphanage.

That’s when she noticed that the room that she was in, although similar to her own, looked a lot nicer. Her old mismatched wooden furniture was replaced by higher quality ones. There were also some strange items scattered about that she had never seen before.

Looking around more thoroughly she could see that overall the whole room looked better than her previous one. Instead of her regular peeling yellow wallpaper and stained floor, this room’s walls were painted in a lovely shade of blue with a matching plush carpet. Those two things alone made her question where she really was.

Touching her forehead she began to ponder the situation she was in, only to feel a metal object sticking out of her eyebrows. She tried to pull it off but only felt pain when she tried. 

Confused and slightly panicking, she rushed over to the mirror that was hanging on the wall next to the bed to see what was on her face. When she looked in the mirror her first reaction was to scream, which she did loudly.

What she saw was her face, but at the same time, it wasn’t. The waist-length hair that took her so much effort to grow, was shortened and dyed a horrible green color. Her face was filled with piercings and dried caked on makeup that she would never wear.  

“What the hell is going on?” She wondered to herself. She was on the verge of having a massive freakout.

Before she could do so her bedroom door opened to reveal Matron Zhan. Knowing that her screams were probably the reason why she entered the bedroom, Jiali was about to apologize. Only to be completely shocked when the matron rushed over to her to give her a hug.

“Happy Birthday sweetie,” Matron Zhan said smiling brightly at her. “Did you have a nice time at your party last night?”

Jiali was completely speechless, all she could think was, ‘Who is this woman and where did the real Matron Zhan go.’ Seeing that this so-called Matron Zhan was waiting for her to answer she quickly nodded her head.

Smiling even more widely, Matron Zhan said, “That’s wonderful darling, I was quite worried about letting you go at first, you know. It had been said that the club had a bad reputation with giving drugs to teenagers, but I seemed to have worried for nothing.” 

Not knowing what to say, Jiali just smiled gently at the Matron, nodding along to everything that she said. She really wanted to know what was going on, either she went crazy or everyone around her did.

“You must have really enjoyed your party last night, you’re being so nice today.” Matron Zhan said as she patted her on the head. “But, I just came to your room to let you know, even though it’s your 18th birthday, you can still live here at the orphanage until you find a place of your own.”

Now Jiali was completely sure that this wasn’t the real Matron Zhan, the real Matron Zhan would have kicked her out as soon as she woke up on her 18th birthday. She wouldn’t even get a goodbye, only a ‘good riddance’ on her way out.

“Thank you,” She made sure to say it as nice as possible because she was 95% sure that this woman was a pod person. That was the only thing she could think of that made sense.

“Your welcome, dear,” Matron Zhan said, giving her another quick hug. “Oh, before I forget, I have something here for you.”

The woman began to dig through the frilly pink apron that Jiali just now noticed she had on, taken aback by the brightness of it, Jiali wondered how this could get any weirder. Matron Zhan pulled out a small white envelope, from within the deep pocket of the apron and handed it to her.

“I forgot to give it to you last night, it’s your birthday gift.” Matron Zhan explained.

Taking the envelope from the woman’s hand, Jiali opened it up to see that it was a check. It wasn’t a normal birthday check either, it was one for $1000. Jiali was gobsmacked as she stared at three zero’s on the check, she now knew for certain that something wasn’t right here.

Mistaking her shocked expression for happiness, Matron Zhan smiled gently at her, “I’m glad you like your gift, I need to go make breakfast for the other children. Come down when you are ready, ok sweetie.”

After the fake Matron Zhan left, Jiali fell down to the ground on her knees. She was about to have a mental breakdown, she didn’t know what was real anymore. Did she die, is she in hell, heaven, somewhere in between, these thoughts ran through her head as she knelt there on the plush carpet.

 [ Host is not in heaven nor hell, but in dimension B9 10.11.12, official name Cǎoméi.]

Collapsing to the floor in shock, Jiali jerked her head back and forth to locate the voice she just heard. “Who’s there!”

[This system is named System 122211, also known as the Master Pâtissière system. This system has searched far and wide through the multiverse for someone who is compatible with this system, when this system finally found you.]

Jiali officially knew that she went completely crazy, since she was hearing voices that weren’t there. 

[Host is not crazy. After you died your death let out an echo throughout the multiverse, alerting many systems but only this system was compatible with you. This system found you in the plane wreckage, but your body wasn’t salvageable. After this system bound itself to you, this system transported your soul to an alternate version of yourself.]  

Getting up off the floor, Jiali exclaimed, “So I did die!”

[Yes, host you did.]

“And I’m now in the body of my alternate self,” Jiali said while trying to make sense of this. 

[Yes, host.]

Her eyes widened, as a sudden thought popped into her mind, “What happened to the me that was in this body?” 

[Don’t worry, host. This system made sure that the body you were put in was already dead.]

“Thanks, I guess,” Jiali said, not really knowing how to reply to that.

[You are welcome, host. Have all your questions been answered?]

With everything that was happening, Jiali felt very discombobulated. She was scared to ask any more questions. “Yes, they were.”

[Then, this system will explain what it means to be bound to this system.] 

Seeing that this would take a while, Jiali walked to her bed and made herself more comfortable. 

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