Chapter 18:

Interlude Four: Terry

TRUCK-KUN


Wednesday – 22:30Bookmark here

Terry was trying to fall asleep, though his aching back and strained legs discomforted him as usual. He was getting on in years and would soon need to retire even from his comfy position at TRUCK-KUN. However, Terry couldn't complain. He had an excellent career and would be receiving a rather large pension once his retirement was confirmed. There was only one thing that he felt guilty for, and he was afraid, yet glad, that he would probably never need to face the consequences of what he had done.Bookmark here

Just as he found a comfortable position and was starting to nod off, he got interrupted by his phone buzzing on the counter. He reached toward it, groaning loudly in the process, and answered it when he saw it was Tobias.Bookmark here

"Terry," Tobias said. "I need a favor."Bookmark here

"Anything," said Terry. "But if you want to ask me for Tamari's hand in marriage, you will need to ask her herself. While I would approve, it isn't my place to marry her off." Terry really did want his two former pupils to get married, and he felt that it was his right to push them towards that. He couldn't do it bluntly since both of their personalities were the types to do the opposite. Terry needed to joke with them about it, thus providing the subconscious thought in their minds. They fit well together, and both liked the other, though he wasn't sure that they could even admit that to themselves. Again, they were a perfect match.Bookmark here

"Haha, very funny," Tobias said. "I am attempting my third attempted mission tomorrow, and I heavily suspect that the twins were responsible for the accident. I told them to meet me for lunch at a restaurant at the same time that I would be attempting the mission. I need somebody to watch them to make sure they are both there and don't interfere. Can you do that? I will pay for your meal at the fancy restaurant when it's all over."Bookmark here

"You are paying for my meal?" Terry asked rhetorically. "How could I refuse? Provide me the details and you consider them watched."Bookmark here

"Thanks a lot, Terry," Tobias said. "I really appreciate it."Bookmark here

"No problem," Terry said, hanging up the phone.Bookmark here

Terry had spent most of the night thinking about that phone call, and something about it bothered him. It was unlike Tobias to ask for this type of help. Something else was going on that he wasn't telling him, and that itself was worrisome. Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Thursday – 7:30Bookmark here

Why would Tobias be hiding something from him? That thought plagued him throughout the morning, even while he already started working in his office. Bookmark here

Ring! Ring! Bookmark here

He looked at the phone and recognized the call to be from the manager, Theodore. He was most likely calling to inform him about an emergency assignment or something. Usually, he was given a weekly report with all of the newest clients, but a new emergency target had to be given top priority once in a while. Sighing, he answered the phone.Bookmark here

"Yes? Is there a new target?" Terry asked.Bookmark here

"I am not calling about that," Theodore said. "It's about Tobias. Has be informed you yet of my offer to him?"Bookmark here

What's this about an offer? Terry thought. I guess I was correct in my assumption that Tobias was withholding vital information from me.Bookmark here

"He hasn't told me anything about that," Terry said.Bookmark here

"I will inform you then," Theodore said. "Since I am getting old in years, I offered Tobias to take over my position as manager. He has until his current mission is finished to make the decision. I expected him to stretch it out, but after his quick second attempt, it appears as if he wants to take care of things as soon as possible. That's why I have a feeling that he will be attempting his third mission within the next couple of days. Has he spoken to you about it?"Bookmark here

Terry was shocked at the news. Of course, Tobias would be a great manager, and he knew that Theodore would retire soon, but this scenario had never crossed his mind. It still puzzled him why Tobias didn't tell him about it.Bookmark here

"Yes," Terry said. "He plans on doing it today at lunchtime." He then proceeded to tell Theodore the details of what he was supposed to do and his thoughts on the situation. Once he finished, there was a moment of silence.Bookmark here

"Hmmm, that's an interesting strategy," Theodore said. "Something about it feels off to me as well. Do you think that he knows?"Bookmark here

"I don't see how he could," Terry said. "I have been extremely careful about it and I highly doubt you let something slip. How else would he have found out?"Bookmark here

"I don't know," Theodore said. "Perhaps it's a coincidence. Better to go along with his plan for now. I don't see how it could work against us. He probably doesn't suspect anything, especially your involvement. He trusts you like a father."Bookmark here

"Yeah," Terry said. "It's similar to the way I feel towards you. We have been at this since the very beginning after all. We had a good run, but it's about time the both of us retire."Bookmark here

"Do you still remember the first mission that was assigned to TRUCK-KUN, even before it got its name?" Theodore asked?Bookmark here

"I sure do," said Terry. The mention of his first mission caused the memories to start flooding in. "I remember it as if it were yesterday, as well as all of my important missions." Bookmark here

* * *Bookmark here

Thirty-Nine Years AgoBookmark here

Terry was chasing down his target, who was riding a motorcycle. He knew that he wouldn't be able to catch it alone with his truck, so Terry prepared ahead of time for a couple of other cars to be in front of the motorcycle within a tunnel to obstruct its maneuverability. Even then, the target almost got away. Thankfully, he was able to just barely graze a part of the target's body before the motorcycle did a wheelie onto the car in front of it. He wasn't sure that such a light nip would affect the target, but he quickly got confirmation from his radio. "Terry! Do you read me?" It was Theodore.Bookmark here

"Loud and clear," Terry said. "I nipped the target, though not sure if it was enough. Can you confirm?" Bookmark here

"Yes! One second," Theodore said. "Ok, I got confirmation. It was a success. Good job."Bookmark here

"No problem," Terry said. "Over and out."Bookmark here

The year was 1983, and ISEKAI had just been officially created. While the technology that allowed the transfer of data and souls to other worlds had existed for decades before, it was highly experimental. All Terry knew about it was that a while back, somebody discovered that there were alternate universes, later to be dubbed as fantasy worlds. Through meticulous research, the scientist figured out how to send data through dimensions to reach them. He also explained how to reach him back. They began talking, and he soon realized that the data could be expanded to send images and videos as well, though the larger the size of the data, the more energy it would require. Bookmark here

The scientist then experimented on sending physical matter between the worlds but could not find a way to do so. He then came up with a theory that perhaps the essence of a person could travel between dimensions where the physical body couldn't. He wasn't sure souls even existed but decided that it would be an excellent opportunity to find an answer to that question. It took several years of experimentation and nearly bankrupted him, but one day he attempted something that he doubted would work, but it ended up working. He had finally proved not only the soul's existence but had also verified that it was comprised of data and could be sent across dimensions. Afterward, he had started slowly rebuilding his finances as well as continuing to perfect his research. He eventually needed a team to help him with his work, and they formed a secret group. Bookmark here

The fantasy worlds were ecstatic after hearing of the possibility of sending souls. They said that they all needed souls that could be their champions, whether due to prophecy, world disaster, or a myriad of other reasons. The bottom line was that they were willing to get in the business of trading data. Bookmark here

The secret group that came up with the technology only decided recently that they were knowledgeable enough about the science involved to start the organization. Perhaps an important factor for that was their new technological discovery of the material that did no harm when it came in contact with a living person. It would be a long time before they had targets weekly, but they needed to start small either way to see if the business model would work. They would add clientele every year until they had daily missions to run a thriving business. For now, they would be lucky to get more than a handful of targets per year.Bookmark here

Shortly after that first successful mission, ISEKAI started constructing its premises and split them into three other parts. TRUCK-KUN, STEALTH, and RANDOM, the last of which would eventually be divided into two and would spark the rise of GAMER.Bookmark here

It would be a long journey, but Terry could already picture the result. It would become a powerhouse in the entertainment market.Bookmark here

* * *Bookmark here

Thirty-Two Years AgoBookmark here

TRUCK-KUN was finally starting to expand, and they already had enough agents to spare having mentors. Terry was driving a red sports car with his first trainee, a woman. They didn't yet have enough trucks for everybody to have their own, so they utilized cars once in a while. It was fine as long as the Isekai bumper was attached. Terry was running late, however. He got the alert that his target, a delinquent, was on the move earlier than usual and had to fetch his pupil before racing towards the mission location.Bookmark here

He was in such a rush that he wasn't paying close enough attention. Therefore, when his pupil made a joke and got him to shake in laughter, it took his attention off the road, and he didn't see the little boy chasing a soccer ball onto the street. It was his pupil who noticed the boy first. "Hey, watch out!" she yelled.Bookmark here

Terry opened his eyes and saw the little boy. He pressed hard on the brake but knew immediately that he would be too late. Bookmark here

Not again, Terry thought sadly. I don't want to drop back to the bottom of the rank again for hitting someone who wasn't the correct target.Bookmark here

Suddenly, an older boy in a green uniform jumped in and pushed the boy out of the way. The car then hit the teenage boy like a battering ram. Terry got a look at the boy's face as he saved the little kid, and he saw that he was the target. He had succeeded after all. What a stroke of luck!Bookmark here

While that wasn't the only time he had gotten lucky, it was by far the most memorable in that regard. A few years after that incident, Tobias transferred to TRUCK-KUN, became his apprentice, and demonstrated what real luck was. They spent a lot of time together, and he started to feel like a father to Tobias ever since.Bookmark here

* * *Bookmark here

Thursday – 7:45Bookmark here

Terry snapped back to reality as Theodore called out his name a couple of times. "Terry? You there, Terry?"Bookmark here

"Yeah," Terry responded. "I am here."Bookmark here

"Do you think we have anything to fear from Tobias figuring it out?" Theodore asked? "Or do you think that been if he realizes, he might still agree to take the manager position?"Bookmark here

"I honestly don't know," Terry said. "Tobias is often hard to predict. It's better if he doesn't find out, but if he does, there is still a chance that he might take the position. He doesn't like change, so he might stay in TRUCK-KUN to avoid the change that leaving would result in. I guess we will find out later today. I will see you later. I need to go spy on the twins for Tobias." Bookmark here

Terry then hung up the phone and left towards the restaurant. While spying on the twins would end up being meaningless in the end, at least he would be getting a free meal out of it. However, while on the way, one thought just kept popping in his head.Bookmark here

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I wish I could tell Tobias the truth.Bookmark here


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