The door led to a smallish office, and it was obvious at first glance that the owner of the office at least tried to make something of it.
Instead of metal framed plastic benches there was a shredded leather armchair next to the desk – Prof had the feeling, the chair was rescued on a bulky waste day from a pile by the office worker – the walls were decorated with landscapes of other worlds (based on the non-standard number and properties of stellar objects, interestingly coloured botany and some really alien architecture). The desk was dominated by an unknown potted plant which looked like the owner actually cared about it. OK, unknown in this instant meant that is was not a pine or a palm, and probably also not an oak. Prof wasn’t really good with plants, their names and looks, so the weed on the desk could be a lot of things from Earth. Like… a Ficus? A Snake Plant? Begonia? Or a Baobab. Definitely a Baobab.
They are about half a meter high, have pink leaves, orange flowers and are purple, right? Or it could be some alien plant from another Galaxy, but that would not make any sense. Right? Right? There were also a few pictures of creatures probably being happy to get photographed. Prof could make out someone that looked like an Orc, another one who was maybe Chewbacca and there was a thing that could make him have nightmares for decades. Yeah, visit R’lyeh! Sure. Next time, maybe. That was all Prof could explore of the room in the few seconds before…
“Heeeeelllloooo!!!!” Simultaneously with the shout Prof was assaulted by a hug from behind. He hadn’t even had time to react, and the sneakhugger was already in front of him.
Someone had probably explained to the petite girl in her twenties in front of him, that she should wear a smart costume for work (and the girl was smart enough not to misunderstand “costume” as something worn by cosplayers, probably to the regret of the male workforce), but didn’t mention colour or patterns. There is no other way to explain a costume in a very conservative cut but with a lemon-yellow base colour, with pink, orange and red flower-patterns. Actually, there are a few explanations, but I try to be polite here, OK?
She had a wide, bright smile on her heart-shaped face, with slightly oversized green eyes and bright green, shoulder-length hair. The overall effect reminded Prof of an anime heroine. Minus the obligatory huge boobs. The change from the old hag (khmmm… elderly lady) who throned in the waiting room could not have been larger. Maybe the Swedish Bikini Team would have been a bigger surprise. Or an actress in the usual costume from one of those film which of course Prof never watched. He only heard those films even existed from a friend’s cousin’s little brother’s friend’s uncle. Swear.
“Come! Take a seat!” the anime wannabe escorted the shocked Prof to the armchair and pulled her own chair (also a waste-reject but in a slightly better state) next to Prof. “How are you? My name in Sandy, and my job, no my privilege, is to ascertain your new life to help you to make a well-founded choice and prepare you to change dimensions! May we begin? I was sooo looking forward to a new customer!”
“Ehmmm… Yes?” The puzzled Prof took a seat in the armchair and gave some thoughts to the reality of haunting in Germany. Sandy’s smile got even bigger and she almost gave Prof another hug.
“So cooool! Do you know how many people choose the Another Dimension option?!?”
“Ehmmm… A lot?”
“Oh, no! Almost no-one! Most give a try to Heaven and Hell and a lot of just reincarnate! The Big Nothing and Another Dimension went out of fashion lately! No one acknowledges the hard work we do here, and everyone bought the propaganda about the other Options! It’s like…”
“What is this changing dimension to begin with?” Prof interrupted her. It seemed, the anime-princess-lookalike was enthusiastic in her work, but her attention wandered a bit.
“Oooooh! I should have guessed the no one will tell you! After your death you got a new body and identity and we leave you in a place that is appropriate for your knowledge and skills! You can start a new life there! Isn’t it fantastic? For example our system recommended for you either a position as a verifier for scales in a medieval salt office or in the HR department of a Galactic Empire’s Armament Office! Both are good choices with a lot of further career opportunities!”
Prof was shocked into oblivion by his choices. Either a senseless work in a (probably) piss poor place without health insurance, safety standards or job security, or bait for those heroic terrorists strolling by. But probably with health insurance and other benefits. Not that his previous work made much sense, but still! It should have been a new life! He had worked for some multinational company for some time, and the mention of “further career options” raised some flags. There is no further career, and no one believes the recruiter anyway (OK, maybe the folks right out of school will believe it, but no one who had at least one job previously).
Why do they keep offering the same thing over and over, Prof could not fathom. And seriously! HR? OK, in a Galactic Empire. Spaceships! New planets! To blow up, but new planets, plural, to visit nevertheless! Maybe this whole thing wasn’t a mistake after all?
“You are lucky though, that I’m sooo dedicated to my work!” Continued Sandy and shoved the printed out career path into the bin. “I at least read your file, and I’m also aware of the more interesting worlds of the Multiverse!” She shone with so much pride Prof had the suspicion she had a side-job as a Class A star.
Prof on the other hand started to think about the benefits of ghosting in Germany again. Much worse than indifferent workers were the enthusiastic but incompetent young Titans who thought they will change the world and How It Works in their new job. Most veterans just shake their heads at the antics and give the youngsters a pat on the head (and hope they will not be sued for sexual harassment for doing so), but it’s still a chore. If you are a customer, choose the indifferent over the incompetent every day. In this case Prof’s future life depended on an enthusiastic, somewhat airheaded youngster with no fashion sense. Nice outlooks.
“I, at least, know you are interested in medieval history and economics and stuff! I do know, you like fantasy-settings, and I do know you like RPGs! Aaaaaand, accidentally I do know of a pocket dimension where you can use those skills! Aaaand I accidentally do know the World Administrator there, so I can make you a special offer! He is just soooo a nice guy! Last time I visited him, he took me to a ride through the largest dungeon there! It’s open air! Almost like a Wildlife Reserve! There were Wolfs and Tigers and Bears and Dinosaurs! It was soooo coool!”
Sandy spread her arms theatrically and grinned at Prof, obviously waiting for a reaction to the awesomeness. Prof started to get a bit annoyed by Sandy’s boundless positivity. And constant use of exclamation signs. Yes, you can hear those. And the wandering attention. They are conducting a job interview here, not recalling a journey to a park filled with dinosaurs! At least the park Sandy was talking about advertised itself as killing ground and not as an amusement park for kiddies. Spared no expenses? My ass. Only on security, the IT and making the place weather-proof. But I digress again.
“Ehmmm… Yeah, that’s really cool. And what does that mean? How can I use those skills? What kind of job an special offer are you talking about?”
“I’m sooo happy you asked! Level-Ups! Adventures! Treasures! Dungeons! Ex-peeeeee! Everything works on codified rules! You see your Stats, Skills, Perks! It’s soooo coooool! You can progress and have a lot of fun! We won’t even push you into a job, you can live your new life as you like! Have adventures! Have fun! I’m sooo jealous! I even made a deal with my friend, that I can go there on Holidays and transmigrate when it’s time! You know, last time I went there for Holidays, I got this thingy and could visit…”
The sales pitch being over, Prof ignored the background noise as Sandy kept droning about how cooool it was, what she visited and what she have done there, and gave the opportunity some serious thoughts. He have read some (ehmmm… a lot) of novels with such a premise, watched a few (ehmmm… a lot) of such anime, and even talked about such worlds with his friends, and what would they do there. On one hand a Galactic Empire with a boring job in HR, on the other hand a game-like world governed by a System!
He didn’t even include verifying scales as a true option. Spaceships or a System-enhanced horse? How many planets can you discover in one lifetime? And there was a bit of uncertainty over the Empire-part. Are we talking WH40K or the Empire? Dictatorial or democratic? What does the democratic empire think about people with different beliefs?
The main selling point for Prof was the SYSTEM! No need to get up early, no need to make the hike to the boring, average office, to spend days… weeks… month… years there with his boring, average co-workers! No need to watch the incompetent bullshitters steal his time and no need to wait for the promotion that never comes, no matter how much and well he worked! (Of course, the guys who work well and much won’t be ever promoted, someone needs to do the actual job after all. If they promote you, who do you think will do your previous job to the same standard? That bullshitting loudmouth? Heh.). Everyone got issued an objective and absolute number to his skill?
No more preferred treatment to bullshitters. Show me your Character Sheet! Oh, you are really proficient in the stuff you claimed to be? You are hired! Promoted! Let’s take a look at the Sheet of a politician! Wow! That’s something interesting there. And there. Don’t forget that! Why did we vote for you again? Oh, because according to your sheets you are still better than the other guy?
OK, no problem.
It looked to Prof like he won every last lottery in Europe (not just those in the European Union, but in geographical Europe) at the same time! Goodbye kitchen ghost in Germany! Goodbye underpaid, undervalued boring job!
Prof got taught by all those novels he read and movies he saw – not to forget his own experience with RPG – some really important stuff. First, in the fiction there were mostly either far-eastern teens or western adults with anger issues, and both tumbled around the world, having no clue whatsoever how the System worked.
Or where they were, who the real movers were, how things worked and what the System was, to begin with. Secondly, no one made a serious effort to learn, how the System and the world worked, where they were and what to do outside of killing monsters. Prof was always impressed that no one enslaved, exploited or cheated the transmigrated, reincarnated, isekaied folks.
OK, save for that one with the Slime. And the other one with the Inn. And maybe a few others.
But still, generally no enslaving, exploiting and cheating going on. So, Prof asked the question everyone else forgot every time:
“Can I have a Rule Book?”