Extra 04. Cat and God
In Asgard Online, stood a very unique palace. Its uniqueness was in the strong aura of “new money” it radiated.
That was due to the mountains of gold scattered everywhere, except for the giant throne made of gold and hidden in the depths of the palace. Of course, those mountains of gold also include rare treasures, pearls, jewels, and weapons and crowns fit for royalty. Overall, the place was definitely blinding.
Such tasteless decor. Just who owned this tacky, country bumpkin-esque palace?
The God of the AO
The core system of AO was the most advanced Artificial Intelligence of the time with the best machine learning system in place. From the codes and information keyed in by the programmers, the A.I. decided all by itself to create a character in charge of managing all information in the game and maintaining the game’s balance, ergo the God of the game.
God of Asgard Online: Level 999. Male. Unknown age. Unknown powers.
One could describe this man as cold, haughty and exquisite. Not only did he have the appearance of an angel, a single wave of his hand would betray his noble demeanour. Even his clothes and accessories were lavish to the extreme. What was bewildering was why did he let his palace be decorated in such a vile fashion. The answer to that question would be the young man lying across his lap at the moment.
Well, he should be a…young man because there was not a single thread on him at the moment, revealing his flat chest. There also seemed to be something nestled between his slender legs.
However, there was something strange about this young man. Hiding inside his nest of thick hair were two cat ears, occasionally flicking about. There was also a long black tail resting behind him.
The god ran a hand through the young man’s fluffy hair, down his pale shoulders, the smooth back and to his slim waist. Any lower and that black tail would go rigid with animosity. And so, the hand stopped before any lines were crossed.
“Your little owner seemed to be busy lately. Are you lonely?” God finally spoke after long minutes of caressing the man in his lap.
“Mrrow…” The young man replied with a strange noise.
“I’m so bored.”
“What do you want to do?”
“I want to pick up stuff.”
“There are so many treasures before you.”
“…there’d be no satisfaction from it.”
“Then, do you want to eat something?”
“Not hungry.” The man shook his head. He knew that no matter what he wanted to eat God could make it appear. But he didn’t want or crave anything to eat right now. All he wanted was for his tiny owner to log on and play with him now.
“Is it that boring being with me?”
“Then why are you pining for your young master?”
“He can beat up monsters with me. You can’t,” the young man replied, lifting his head to look up at God. This man was the master of this game. The monsters were all his creations. Hence, there was no need to beat them up. The moment he appeared in view all monsters would prostrate themselves on the floor at once. How dull.
“Don’t you just like picking up items?”
“Yes. I like watching him kill the mobs and I go pick up the loot.”
“…” In the end, it just meant the young man preferred being with his young owner than with him. God felt like sighing then. He seemed to have spoiled the young man rotten. If he’d known this would happen, he wouldn’t have agreed to let the young man go to that player.
– Flashback –
Every day, God spent his time alone in an icy-cold palace, swiftly sorting through all game information. Was there a bug? Which monster’s stats were unreasonable? What secret quest got triggered and what needed to be followed up on? He dealt with everything that didn’t need a programmer’s input on. Those were busy days, but also very lonely days. Thus, he thought he’d create a pet for himself.
As the God of Asgard Online, he needed to create vast amounts of monsters and cash every day. At the same time, he needed to sneakily get everything, and more, back. Thus, he created the Lucky Cat tribe to ensure treasure would always come back to him. It would only be a minor adjustment. As the God of this game, he had the authority to do so.
And so, the tiny cat was born. Of course, he could turn into a human. It all depended on the kitten’s mood. Still, as a cuteness factor, his cat ears and tail would remain. One might say it was God’s obsession.
The two lived harmoniously together. Every now and then, the tiny cat would beg prettily, in the cutest manner possible, for God to give him some gold coins to play with. God would often take his fill caressing the tiny cat whenever the game was running smoothly and he wasn’t busy with work. Consequently, the most refined palace in the entire game turned into the personal bank of someone who’d just made it rich.
Everything changed when a player registered for the username LuckyCat. When the tiny cat heard the name of his tribe, the ball of fur napping curled up in God’s embrace perked up. The two then examined this new player together.
Bai XiaoYu. Male. 19 years old. He had a pair of big wide eyes, just like a cat’s. The little one liked him the moment the kitten laid eyes on the human.
“I want to play with him,” the cat said, pointing to the screen showing XiaoYu wandering around in the tutorial area.
“How do you want to play with him?” God created the small cat. If the feline was just let loose in the game without any care, the game would easily be unbalanced.
“Hm…I’ll be a pet that can pick up items.” That’s not asking for too much, right?
“Okay, but with some restrictions.”
“What is it?”
“When at his side, you lose the ability to turn into a human and you can’t speak human.”
“Hm…okay.” He was quite familiar with moving around in his kitten body anyway.
“More?” yowled the young feline.
“I won’t seal off your other abilities, but when he’s training alone, I will reduce the drop rate of rare items for him.” To compensate for the extra gold you’ll bring to him. Of course, that last part of the sentence wasn’t voiced.
“Wouldn’t that be very unfair to him?”
“Once he joins a party and trains with them, I’ll change the drop rate back. The rest would be up to his own luck.”
“That still seems unfair.”
“You care about him that much? Perhaps he might not let you out.” God was very sure the tiny cat’s abilities would cause problems when the player joined a party. He had witnessed too many pets of the similar kind be kept in the Pet Space every time their owners joined a party. That’s how humans were deep down. Building up trust was no easy task.
“Hmph. If he locks me up, the Intimacy levels will drop,” said the small cat with a pout in a somewhat brattish manner. ╭(╯3╰)╮”After all, once Intimacy gets low, you can run away. If it gets boring, I’ll come back.”
Meanwhile, Bai XiaoYu was still busy with the NPC’s tutorial quests. He didn’t know that right then and there, his fate had changed.
To God’s surprise, the player named Bai XiaoYu doted on his tiny cat as if the feline was his life. Grinding, eating, sleeping, shopping…there was not a single moment the feline was not by the young man’s side. He even gave up on following the grand quest system and missions provided by the game in order to let the tiny cat collect more items. He had turned the game back into its traditional grinding roots.
God too was happy to see the little cat get by each day in joy. After further observation, he realised this player had a good personality. He didn’t mind slacking off a little sometimes regarding the player’s drop rates. As long as it didn’t impact the game’s overall balance.
But ever since XiaoYu fell in love, he seemed to have more responsibilities in real life. He couldn’t stay logged into the game for weeks on end like before. God understood that. After all, the players of AO were living human beings. They had other things to do than play games.
Whenever XiaoYu logged off, the kitten would automatically return to God’s side and the two would resume their usual days. However, the tiny cat had been recently pining for XiaoYu day in, day out. This made God a little jealous.
When Asgard Online first published, there would always be rival companies causing trouble for the game. It was normal to send in a virus or destroy some codes. Back then, God was swarmed with work. Every day, he would be working with a large team of programmers to maintain the game’s stability. As time passed and the game slowly found its footing, such attacks ceased. The programmers started to sit back and let the game’s AI run itself. That meant God was in charge of the game now.
However, out of the blue and after so many years of the game being online, they were attacked. All of a sudden, vast quantities of trash information flooded the system. While God wouldn’t panic, his head did start to ache as if he was being overloaded.
He notified the programmers on duty today. Thankfully, the game developers had strict and precise emergency procedures. Soon, the relevant coders were online to share some of the burden and give God a chance to breathe.
“A-Are you okay?” The tiny cat didn’t care that he was bare-naked right now. He sat up and straddled God’s lap to touch God’s face in worry. It was the first time he’d ever seen God so pale. Was the attack very serious?
“I’m fine. This isn’t a threat at all.” It had just been a while since God had last gone through an attack. He wasn’t as used to the feeling as before.
“…” The tiny cat continued staring at God in worry. He remembered there was a time when his little owner was killed. He could do nothing but just pace around in panic. That frustration had made a lasting impression on him.
“I’m fine. Everything’s fine with you by my side.” God was ecstatic. It seemed like the young cat still cared a lot for him.
The feline reached out and wrapped his arms tight around God’s neck in a hug. He seemed to recall the Gold Coin Man comforting his owner this way. He wasn’t as large as the Gold Coin Man, so it should be the same effect if he used his entire body. Right?
God’s brain short-circuited. When the cat begged and asked for gold coins to play with back then, the most the other did was tug at his hand or clothes and sway them to-and-fro. He would never fully pounce on God.
Warmth filled God’s heart. He hugged the cat back. With this tiny cat by his side, he seemed to have gotten more humane feelings.