Cold. It felt like most of his body was being held under icy water. The cold traversed his skin, soaking into his flesh and blood, and pierced his bones. It felt like his heart would stop beating in the next second because of this extreme cold.
Song Yucheng’s eyes shot open and he found himself lying on the cold floor; he was drenched. The red line of the thermometer hanging on the nearby wall showed a scary reading of 3.
He had no strength to utter complaints.
The promises that enforcement officers of the Space-time Administration Office would be paid handsomely and be like gods were all bullshit to him now. He was an established lawyer in the politics and law circles in the real world, dammit, but he had almost frozen to death on his first assignment.
He crawled stiffly to his feet and increased the temperature of the air conditioning in the room while he changed out of what he was wearing. He could only manage to sit down and take a look at the introduction provided by the system after he regained his normal body temperature.
The description he read made the sour taste of bile rise in his throat.
There would always be a loser who gets blinded by love and lose his dignity as a human being, a person who loses the backbone to stand up and speak for himself. A person who would willingly make himself a laughingstock.
The owner of this body was this laughingstock.
The world for Song Yucheng’s first assignment was, coincidentally, a progressive modern world where it was legal for men to marry, and the owner of this body was also named Song Yucheng. This world’s Song Yucheng was a naive young master who had his inheritance snatched away by relatives after the death of his parents. What was most regrettable was that the last straw he had clutched at was his “benefactor”, Xu Muzhi – scum through and through.
No one could have guessed that Xu Muzhi had built him a dream world and raised him carefully for five years just to make him a better substitute for someone else. This cruel truth bared its ugly face on this day when he had been prepared to confess his love.
“I won’t do it!” A young man stood opposite a tall man, his eyes red and swollen; he didn’t dare believe what he had heard. They were in a suite – his gilded cage.
Song Yucheng had no close relatives left; Xu Muzhi was the one who knew him best. Xu Muzhi knew that he wanted to reclaim his parents’ business, and that he also dreamed of realising his full potential… but right now, Xu Muzhi was ordering Song Yucheng to destroy his own reputation and his future to become a stepping stone for his most perfect, most unattainable love – Chu Rong.
A numbing sorrow swirled in the young man’s heart as he looked at the face of the man he had loved, so cold that it rendered him motionless.
“Xu Muzhi. I stayed by your side for five years. I’d never asked you for a single cent other than this place. I prepared the best food for you whenever you came to have a meal with me, even if it meant that I had to sustain myself on cold water for the next three days. I accepted all of your preferences without question. I’d always thought that this was something I had to endure as a lover. You are a powerful man, so I submitted… But now you’re telling me that I am just a substitute?”
“Don’t you think this is ridiculous?”
The young man clutched at Xu Muzhi’s sleeve, hoping desperately to see even a glimmer of concern in his eyes but sadly, there was none. The scornful gaze was like he was looking at trash, and this easily made it clear to the young man the rank he held in Xu Muzhi’s heart.
He had been a plaything not worth mentioning from beginning to end.
Heh. Plaything. What a pitiful, laughable word. The despair and grievances left by the old Song Yucheng battered incessantly against the new Song Yucheng’s psyche.
He awoke from the body’s memory fragment, and suddenly curled his lips into a smirk. This smirk soon turned into a sneer when he read the new message which had popped up in his phone.
Secretary Yang: President Xu said that he wants you to act according to the script. Not one word less.
As if in echo to the message, the computer on the desk pinged with a new email notification, right on the dot. Song Yucheng walked over and opened the email; it was the script for ‘Swapping Lives’. Pieces of the puzzle fell into place right away.
This reality show titled ‘Swapping Lives’ was the crucial fuse which had lit tragedy in the life of the old Song Yucheng.
Reality shows had been gaining popularity in recent years, and ‘Swapping Lives’ was currently one of the most popular programmes. Its greatest selling point was that it put people from different professions and family backgrounds in each other’s shoes and let them experience the other’s lives.
And in Xu Muzhi’s words, this programme was the best stepping stone for Chu Rong to change his previous public persona.
Chu Rong had reached stardom as a child. He had top marks for his acting skills, his looks and his studies too, and he was known as “the nation’s little brother”. Chu Rong wanted to break out of that mold and change his public persona to that of a gentle heartthrob, so he needed someone to act in contrast to enhance his desired traits.
However, such a person was difficult to find. He needed someone with a good family background, and that someone had to be pleasant to look at too. The person also had to act like one who was all take, and no give. Who else was more perfect for this than the young man who had been groomed by Xu Muzhi?
One could say that painstaking care had been put into this.
Song Yucheng read the script with an indifferent eye. The role was like that of an extract from a textbook for becoming a useless person; he found it all lame and old-fashioned. Secretary Yang, who had sent him the script, was of greater interest to him.
Speaking of Secretary Yang, he was actually also one of Xu Muzhi’s many sexual partners. When prices were clearly marked, it was not uncommon for physical relationships to form. One could tell from this that any “true love” Xu Muzhi spoke of was just shallow words.
He had yelled about how he was “unforgettable” while he was still going around f*cking other people, and groomed who knows how many substitutes for Chu Rong. Xu Muzhi’s hypocrisy was ugly and disgusting. Only a fool like the old Song Yucheng would be brainwashed by Xu Muzhi’s statement that he was “a bought bitch”, and give up on himself.
The disdain in Song Yucheng’s eyes grew at that thought.
Ringing from the phone interrupted his train of thought.
It was that Secretary Yang. He was probably calling because Song Yucheng had not replied promptly.
“Did you hear President Xu’s order?” Secretary Yang spoke crudely, like he felt it beneath him to call. His next words were full of threat. “Don’t forget that President Xu was the one who gave you everything you have now. Forget about studying if you don’t do this well.”
Secretary Yang waited for the usual apology from Song Yucheng after he spoke.
This secretary was not a good person and had no real ability. He was Xu Muzhi’s lackey and had only got his job by selling his body. Why was there a need for him to make things difficult for the old Song Yucheng when he had no quarrel with him?
It all boiled down to his guilty conscience.
Xu Muzhi had many lovers, and he had kept him around for convenience’s sake. However, this man had taken Xu Muzhi’s money to play around with a hot young hunk, and, as luck would have it, the old Song Yucheng had seen it. Secretary Yang knew that he would not talk about it, but was still afraid that a slip of the tongue would occur, so he wanted him silenced as soon as possible to cover it up. This was why he deliberately made things difficult for him.
The old Song Yucheng, however, was a fool. He’d thought that Secretary Yang was the right hand man of Xu Muzhi, and had been submissive on top of tolerating the treatment from him.
In the memories of the old Song Yucheng, Secretary Yang saw that he had been abandoned by Xu Muzhi, and had taken the opportunity to spread rumours on the old Song Yucheng’s online school forums when he had gone to participate in the programme, saying he was a boy toy, and even using underhanded methods such as posting intimate pictures of the old Song Yucheng. The new Song Yucheng’s fingers tightened subconsciously around the phone in his hand, perhaps affected by the emotions left by the old Song Yucheng.
Secretary Yang’s revenge had been the true beginning of the old Song Yucheng’s descent into despair after all.
This was because he could still put his hopes into his studies even if the scum abandoned him. He had truly come to a dead end when his school had expelled him due to “misconduct”, and he had lost his will to live on.
Trash. Useless. Ungrateful. He’d lost count of the number of abusive private messages he’d received via Weibo. There had been no end to these since the programme had been aired. What had happened in school had also become known in the neighbourhood, and the words “cheap” and “dirty” were written in the gazes of people who looked at him.
There was no way for him to explain himself. All these accusations of non-existent wrongs he had committed cut at him like the sharpest blades, riddling his bleeding heart with cuts.
He was going to make them pay.
This bone-deep hatred wrapped about Song Yucheng like a shroud. Bloodlust glinted in his clear eyes for just an instant, and he went back to his calm self.
His years as a lawyer in the real world had let him experience several extremes, and he had even made deals with the most nefarious. The old Song Yucheng’s misfortune was not that dire to the new Song Yucheng, and this little secretary prancing about in front of him now was just a dancing clown.
Song Yucheng turned on the speakerphone mode and scrolled through the pictures on his phone. As expected, he got to the picture evidence of Secretary Yang cheating with the hot young hunk after scrolling a few times. He considered it for a bit, and soon came to a conclusion.
The old Song Yucheng was a fool. He had had evidence in hand, but he’d still let Secretary Yang step all over him. Secretary Yang and Xu Muzhi were birds of a feather – scum. There was no way he would be able to escape easily once he fell in his grasp.
Besides, the new Song Yucheng’s assignment was to cuckold Xu Muzhi. He could just make this Secretary Yang the first cuckolding for Xu Muzhi.
Song Yucheng let out a soft laugh at that thought, and suddenly shot a question back at the secretary. “I find that your tone is always haughty when you speak to me, Secretary Yang. I don’t understand it. You and I have both sold our bodies. Why do you have this misconception that you are a level above me?”
“What did you say?”
“I said, we are both selling our bodies, so why act like you’re superior?” Song Yucheng seemed to have thought of something amusing, and a mocking seeped into his tone. His taunting words slapped Secretary Yang, hard.
“Hey, tell me, how is Xu Muzhi in bed? Do you feel good when he plays with you? Does he call you a sl*t? Does he shout out Chu Rong’s name when he’s climaxing? Does he pull out heartlessly after he’s done, then slap you viciously after getting out of bed?”
The young man’s voice was clear and restrained, but every word coming out of his mouth was extremely vulgar. The words he spoke exposed the relationship between Secretary Yang and Xu Muzhi, tearing away that last bit of cover.
Secretary Yang was a proud man, and was accustomed to using his connection to Xu Muzhi to threaten others after his many years with him. He had indeed spread his legs to climb up in the world, but he would not tolerate anyone insulting him to his face like this, especially not someone who had been discarded like Song Yucheng. He shook with rage, and his tone of voice hardened. “You want to die, Song Yucheng?”
“The one who’s going to die is you, isn’t it?” Song Yucheng’s voice grew cold. “Even if I am Xu Muzhi’s toy, you are not much higher than me in the ranks as a tool to sate his lust. Don’t you order me around; you have no right.” He cut the call right after delivering that line, and turned his head around to do something else on a website.
“Swapping Lives” would have to be filmed over the summer holidays, and he would be away from Beijing for this period. He had to ensure that nothing went badly wrong while he was away, especially when he had just burnt bridges between himself and Secretary Yang. This guy was definitely not going to let him off, so he had to be more careful.
Song Yucheng had always been decisive in his actions, so he knew how serious the consequences could be if he did not destroy the root of the problem. Plus, the soul of the old Song Yucheng harboured a great resentment; he had to handle one problem first to let him calm down a little.
And so, a picture of Secretary Yang and that popular young celebrity having an illicit affair surfaced on the Weibo page of a certain verified weekly gossip magazine that very night. The picture showed Secretary Yang hanging passionately onto the young celebrity’s body in an unsightly position. This quickly became a hot topic of discussion, and was added to the trending search terms rankings.
He was done for…
A chill struck Secretary Yang’s heart when he saw it. This scene was all too familiar to him. Wasn’t it that day when Song Yucheng had bumped into him when he was having a date with the popular celebrity? He’d never expected that Song Yucheng would actually have evidence of that! And he used this sort of method too, just posting it up like that. Secretary Yang grew paler with every gossip article he saw; the number was overwhelming.
He had no time to bother with going to Song Yucheng. He had to find some way to shut this down immediately, or the consequences would be unimaginable if Xu Muzhi found out.
Contrary to his expectations, the public relations company representatives whom Secretary Yang called his brothers went silent unanimously. That popular young celebrity was out of reach too.
Things could really be bad for him now.
The feeling of danger enveloped him, and Secretary Yang stood rooted to the spot, feeling like a lamb to the slaughter; he was helpless. A message from Xu Muzhi arrived quickly, and it scared him so much that he fell on his ass. Cold sweat drenched the clothes on his back.
Xu Muzhi had sent someone to deliver the message. “Play well with them from now on since you like playing around so much.”
Play well? With who? Colour drained from Secretary Yang’s face when he recalled what he knew of those people in that circle and their ways of playing.
He had been with Xu Muzhi for so many years, so no one else knew Xu Muzhi more than he did. This sentence from him had ended his future. Secretary Yang sat blankly, helpless as he gradually drowned in terror.
Meanwhile, Xu Muzhi was in an unimaginable rage. His secretary was just a dog which had grown too ambitious – if he could lift him up, he could tear him down too. What actually surprised him more was Song Yucheng. Xu Muzhi had played around with him for five years, so he knew that he had a temper. What he had not expected was that Song Yucheng would actually dare to touch the people by his side.
The tool to sate his lust and the substitute puppet were both unimportant to him. What he hated was someone acting without his permission. Xu Muzhi’s lips curled in a smile of mirth, but his eyes were like ice – an apparent precursor to wrath.
“Do you want to give him a warning?” inquired Xu Muzhi’s trusted aide.
“No need for that; he’s just a toy. Get someone to watch him. Don’t bother unless he deviates from the script,” said Xu Muzhi. He then sent Song Yucheng a text message himself. He sent one line: Act well or end up like Secretary Yang.
He was punishing Secretary Yang as an example to others!
Song Yucheng could see the threat and mockery in Xu Muzhi’s words right away when he read the text message.
He knew that though he had caused the downfall of Secretary Yang and disgraced Xu Muzhi, he was still an insignificant orphan who could do nothing to Xu Muzhi. Xu Muzhi did not bother with taking care of him because he was still of use. As for the reality show that was coming up, Xu Muzhi was sure to punish him harshly if he did not follow the script. The memories he had inherited from the old Song Yucheng, however, let the new Song Yucheng understand that he would not be able to escape the condemnation of the public if he really followed the script.
How interesting. He was caught between a wall and a hard place.
Just then, a notification from the system interrupted his thoughts. Song Yucheng was amused when he read its contents.
Well, this was quite playful, and rather illogical, wasn’t it? This was a perfectly good system cheat, but why this name for it?
System: The Professional Cheat System has rebooted successfully, activating the preinstalled talent of the owner of the body – [You will never guess what beauty my hands can bestow~]