Chapter 4:



Sunday – 9:00

"Whoa whoa whoa! W-w-what?!," Thaddeus sputtered as I drove the truck out of the premises. "You need to Isekai the same person again? How come? Why?" It was clear that Thaddeus had mastered the ability not to pause and breathe for minutes at a time, seeing as he hadn't shut up since I returned from Terry's briefing.

"Think about it, and you should be able to give an educated guess." I preferred letting his pupils reach conclusions on their own rather than spoon-feeding them the answers. It worked out better that way in the long run. But sometimes, I needed to prod them in the right direction. "What would explain us needing to Isekai a target a second time if they should already be Isekai'd?"

Thaddeus sat in deep thought for a minute, which was good since it was the only time there was silence. Rational thinking was a crucial attribute to possess for performing this job constantly. It wasn't something that one could teach but rather a talent that needed honing. I made a sharp right turn, and started headed south on the highway.

"P-p-perhaps," the boy began. "Ummmm, when the soul gets killed in the fantasy world, then the soul leaves. Then you need to resend the same soul so that they could continue with the story. Is that the reason?"

"Good guess," I responded. "However, that is incorrect. The logic is spot on if you aren't aware of the mechanics of the Isekai transporter. You see, when a copied soul is sent to the fantasy world, there are constant save points built in so that even if they die, they will reset from a prior time in that world. Alternatively, there are some worlds that provide multiple lives and could just resurrect them so they can continue their goal. So dying doesn't destroy the soul. Try again."

The newbie must have thought of multiple explanations during his long wait before, since this time, he didn't even hesitate. "Is it because they finished whatever goal was set up, and after the soul is let go, they might need to get called up again for a second objective?"

"Another brilliant conclusion!" I silently congratulated himself for choosing to mentor this kid. He was a true diamond in the rough. As they drove over the bridge, I admired the stunning view of the water reflecting the sunlight, resembling a thousand stars. "You are getting closer, but that is still incorrect. Souls aren't let go, as there is always a use for them. You can try once more if you wish."

They just finished passing over the bridge, so I switched lanes to catch the next exit. Thankfully, since it was well past rush hour, the traffic was light, and they were making good timing.

"I-I-I-I don't know," Thaddeus stuttered. "I can't think of anything else."

I knew him well enough by now to know that he wasn't telling the truth and that he had another hypothesis. However, if he was remaining silent about something, it was most likely something I wouldn't be able to pry out easily.

"Ok then, so I will explain." The destination was visible in the distance, so I needed to be quick. "The soul is a powerful bundle of energy, and it takes an equal amount of energy to transport a copy to another world and have it retain its identity. So, the cost of keeping a soul for one year in our time is four times more expensive than a regular season. The directors of ISEKAI realized that it was far more cost-effective to split the costs over multiple periods than to compile all the energy at once for a longer period. To give an analogy, it's like taking a mortgage without interest. If there is no interest involved, there is no reason not to make split payments over many years since it's far easier on the budget. Are you starting to understand now?"

Thaddeus nodded hesitantly. "I think so...well...the energy of the soul is only transferred for a short amount of time before returning to its body on Earth. So they have to keep sending the soul back to the fantasy world when they want it back."

I shook my head. "Remember, it's the copy of the soul that's transported, not the original soul. So the fake soul eventually runs out of energy and evaporates. That is when they order us to resend a copy of the soul."

Thaddeus blushed a deep shade of red. "Right. T-t-t-that's what I meant."

"Don't worry about it," I said consolingly. "You got way closer than any of my former pupils." I needed to interview him more thoroughly at a later time. For now, I put on some jazz music and it was over an hour before they reached their destination. It was a simple house but familiar to me. "Ah, I remember this target now. It was about a year or two ago and caused quite a commotion."

"How come?" Thaddeus asked. "What did you do? What did you do? Why..." he broke off suddenly, finally realizing that he could check the papers on the target for the information. After reading through it, he started stuttering and finally blurted out, "You pulled it off on the first day of the assignment? I was under the assumption that it took weeks to do the necessary surveillance. How did you accomplish that?" He then deeply inhaled to get air back into his empty lungs.

"It's a funny story," I began. "I was simply doing the primary rounds of the house, and the girl suddenly appeared right in front of my truck. She rushed out without bothering to look both ways. I still remember the letter flung from her grasp and the heavy metal music playing on the radio. I shattered the record that day, and it further enhanced my reputation. It was just another lucky mission."

According to the intel this time, she was supposed to be leaving for rehearsals with her idol group. I just needed to find an inconspicuous place to park. After a quick look, I spotted the perfect place about three houses down. It was large enough for a truck to park in and hidden enough not to stand out. However, I saw a bus down the street slowing down to prepare to park there.

Not on my watch, I thought to himself. I slammed the gas and sped towards the parking spot. Suddenly, an older girl ran out onto the street right in front of Toby, and the truck instantly smashed into her. There was no chance for me to dodge her. The girl was thrown far and landed in a pile of bushes near the side of the road.

I got a good look at the girl's face before she was battered away and quickly confirmed that she was indeed the target. I could hardly believe what just transpired. It had happened again. What were the chances?

Perhaps I really did have good luck.