Otherworld Isekai Service
Diesel woke up one day, his memories fuzzy as to what happened. The last thing he remembered was that he had been driving to his favorite restaurant, which had finally opened again after the world had essentially shut down from disease.
Once his belly was full, he was going to start looking for a job again.
"Dang. And I was craving the area's spiciest Drunken Noodle from my favorite Thai place…"
He smacked his lips… or rather, he tried to. He could feel no motion from his mouth nor tongue wiggling where there should have been. He moved his hand to his mouth to feel around, but he noticed an absolute lack of sensation. There was no pressure of objects against his appendages, no feeling of muscles aching as if he were injured.
"What?" A sound leaked out from him. Words seemed to be accompanied by a loud, mechanical rumbling.
What is that racket? And why did it sound so close?
He looked around the area with wonder. It didn’t help that the space was pitch dark, making it impossible to see anything. First of all, he needed to figure out his surroundings.
"Gotta find a light before anything else…" Words still appeared to be coming from his mouth, but aside from that, the lack of touch and sight made his heart pound in worry. And there was also that dreaded noise whenever he tried to move.
Suddenly, two bright lights shone in front of him, illuminating the ground. Diesel briefly wondered where they came from before noticing something strange about them. It appeared to be coming from behind him.
Trying to turn around, Diesel found himself encumbered like he had been stuck to the ground. He felt no signs of his legs pivoting, nor could he feel the ground upon his soles, but strangely, the ground shifted slightly back and forth. He was definitely moving, but the unfamiliar sensation felt incredibly jarring.
Just what the hell was going on?
Nothing about himself felt right at all. Spotting a metallic surface in front of him, he scooted forward to take a look, hoping that its reflective coating would tell him what his current state was.
But all he could see were two glaring lights being reflected as he crept closer. The glare drowned out the rest of the reflection, so he continued move closer and closer, seeing how it would respond. The light seemed to move with him, becoming smaller and smaller until they formed tight circles right up against the shiny wall.
However, what greeted him was merely the image of a truck's front end. Puzzled, Diesel tried to move away, only to see the image respond in kind. After cycling through thoughts of awe and disbelief, there was no longer any doubt in his mind.
He, Diesel, was that truck!
The shock of that realization stirred the memories in his head, giving him a replay of what had happened prior.
He had been on his way for lunch. Crossing through an intersection, a sudden skidding of tires was all he heard before a strong impact shook his entire body and sent him into the darkness.
The next thing he knew, he woke up in a dark, vast area. Willing himself to get up, it was like his body floated on command. Subconsciously, he started gliding towards a bright column of light, the only thing in this otherwise empty expanse.
A voice called out to him, in a language that he didn't comprehend, but somehow, he knew. The voice had stated, "Welcome to the Afterlife."
"NANI?!" Diesel cried in reflex. He had the tendency to spew out broken Japanese, a habit from his persona as an American otaku.
The light flickered for a few moments, as if registering what he had said. Afterward, it shifted to a bluish tint in color.
"Ahh, Nihongo ka? Jaa, Kami-sama no deban da." (Ahh, Japanese? Then, it's Kama-sama's turn.)
With a bright flare, the column of light morphed into the giant form of an old Asian man in a yukata, one that would've felt at home sipping tea in front of a shogi board or something. He barely gave a glance at Diesel before looking down at a paper.
Even though he emitted a god-like presence, towering above Diesel like a living monument carved in the mountains, a look of weariness dotted his brow. An exhausted sigh escaped his lips as he scanned the paper for information. His fingers drummed along the top of the desk that had appeared with him.
All Diesel could do was stand nervously like he was being sized up for who knows what. On second thought, he wasn’t even sure he was standing, but hovering in place as only darkness was below him.
"Nanda? Diesel?... Diesel… kuruma ka?" (What is this? Diesel?... Diesel… a car?)
Despite the hesitation muffling his words, Diesel felt pinned in place, too afraid to react in the slightest. All he could do was continue to stare at every motion the towering man before him did.
The god, who Diesel guessed was referred to as Kami-sama, brought a hand to his head as if scratching it in confusion. Suddenly, Kami-sama shrugged and threw the paper away before swirling a finger in the air.
“Ja… washi no saabisu tsukatte miyou…” (Then… I’ll try him out for my service…)
Wisps of magic power floated down and swirled around Diesel.
It was moments after that, Diesel awoke to this situation, stuck in the body of a semi-truck.
He, a flesh and blood human, had been turned into a freaking truck!
He wanted to cry at the thought. Surprisingly, something in his metallic body did respond. A spray of liquid splashed into his vision before dribbling downwards. Initially, it caused him to jump, but he soon realized that it had just been the windshield sprayers. Still, it made his vision blurry, so he put a stop to that.
Wondering how he would be able to see clearly again without hands to wipe the mechanical tears, it only took that thought for something to quickly swipe across his field of vision, sweeping the excess liquid away and returning some clarity to his vision again.
Windshield wipers this time?
This felt very, very wrong. How the hell did he end up like this?! And why a truck? With a name like Diesel, he had been teased endlessly and compared to a certain bald movie star that liked to go fast.
If this had been Kami-sama's idea of a joke, then he might as well have gone all the way and turned him into Van Diesel. He mentally shook his head. Since he technically didn't have a head, it appeared as if the front end did a little jiggle.
What do I do now? How does one even live as a truck? How does living as something inanimate even work?
An endless sea of questions plagued his mind as human reasoning refused to cope with the situation that he had been thrust into.
Would I just sit here until a driver came along?
Actually, no. He could move himself. He did so before.
Then, was there an exit so that he could get out of wherever he was? The very least he could do was figure out something more about his surroundings.
Willing himself to go forward, the rumbling of his engine grew, and he slowly rolled forward with his tires. Diesel stopped minding all of these weird details and focused on looking for a way out. After making a few twists and turns, a light greeted him in the distance.
Seeing this glimmer of hope, Diesel revved his engine and accelerated for it. As he passed through the initial beam of light trickling into the dark area, his vision adjusted to the bright surroundings to find out that… there was nothing. An empty white space laid out as far as the eye could see – this was literally all that surrounded the building that he had come out of.
"What? What madness is this?!" These words slipped out of the mouthless Diesel, who had given up trying to figure out how a truck could speak.
"You are in Kami-sama's garage."
Diesel spun around in a U-turn trying to locate the new voice that echoed. In doing so, he could, in fact, see a ticket booth and what appeared to be lined spaces beyond that.
"Up here, Truck-kun."
Tilting his vision upward, Diesel saw the giant, old man floating above him once again.
"AHHH!!! YOU AGAIN! WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME?!" The truck blared out, causing Kami-sama to recoil in panic as the loud beep of a car horn accompanied every word.
"Sorry, it wasn't intentional. Even us Gods can make a mistake, especially when we're tired and it's the end of the day in Japan. Besides, the system sent you to me because the first thing out of your mouth was Japanese, and you didn't bother to say anything to fix it. I could've sent you to someone else, or at least, paused to go grab Babel Translate!"
For the first time, Diesel had regretted how his tendency to add cringy broken Japanese to his English speech pattern had resulted in this tragic mistake. All he could do was blame himself and the blasted anime that made him think it was cool to talk as such.
"But wait… couldn't you have seen that I was obviously human? I mean, I can talk and stuff."
Kami-sama shook his head. "So what? Cats and dogs talk, just like humans do. A soul barely looks different from the next. Just the other day, I had to reincarnate someone who had previously been a vending machine. So fighting off exhaustion and seeing a name like Diesel, I was like, whatever, a truck will do!"
Diesel couldn't argue with that. At least, he could move on his own, unlike a vending machine.
"Then, change me back! I don't wanna be stuck like this!"
Once again, Kami-sama shook his head. "No can do. There are limits to my power. I can't just fix a reincarnation once the karma for it has been spent. For you to change back, you'll have to accumulate karma through your current life. Once enough has been collected, then I can strike you down with some lightning and revive you into something else."
Diesel's nonexistent heart sank. Instead, the purring engine sounded like it had stalled in its place.
I have to stay like this for a while? How long? How long would I have to suffer like this? He turned towards Kami-sama to beg him for some help, but he was already on top of it.
"Hold your horses. I'm already here because I planned to help you with this mistake. I can't change you back yet, but I can give you some method that will boost your karma quickly."
"What is it? I'll do it! Whatever! Just lay it on me!" The desperation could be felt even when the words came from an expressionless vehicle.
Kami-sama coughed to clear his throat. "Alright then. You'll be put in charge of sending people to alternate worlds. I believe that you would refer to it as isekai-ing."
"Eh? ...EHHHHH!!!!" Diesel shouted as the realization of a meme that the internet merely joked about was about to come true, and by his hands, er… wheels, to boot. "But… but… how do I accomplish that?"
"Why... the same way as any divine business would – by getting notifications of assignments which I review and approve. Then, all that's left is to send a Truck-kun on-site to do the job. That is where you come in."
"But… running over people and sending them to another world… that's-"
"Most of those people were hell-bound anyway. If they had stayed in their world, they would've caused some irreparable damage to society. Sending them to another world is their second chance to reform themselves or die from the consequences of their actions. Basically, the service sends them to a place where they are given something different than what they were born with previously. A method to collect more data to judge the person’s true character."
"I dunno… I would feel kind of bad if I sent someone innocent into the whims of fate. Just look at what happened to me."
"Well… I'm usually more careful with that. I was actually tired because I had put so much effort into scrutinizing the right people for a seriously damaged world." Kami-sama sheepishly scratched his chin as he looked away. "In any case, that's your fastest ticket back to living as a human again."
Diesel sighed. Not like he had any other choice. He was already a freaking truck after all. How much worse could it be?
"Alrighty, then." With a wave of his arms, Kami-sama sent a swirl of magic around Diesel.
Since trucks had no nerves, he couldn't feel what was happening to him. All he could do was wait for the magical twister around him to die down. When it did, he moved forward a bit.
"Hey, I feel… lighter. More compact."
Kami-sama nodded. "Of course, you do. I turned you into a compact cargo truck for better maneuverability. Can't have a semi-truck sitting around. Takes up too much space. Though, you can change back if you wish for it. Or any other type of truck that’s suitable for the situation. Just one of the magical abilities bestowed upon you."
"Ooh! What else?" Somehow, Diesel was starting to get into this.
"I'll tell you when the need for it arises. They are mainly to aid you on your job, so nothing too fancy."
Kami-sama shrank down from his giant form to the size of a normal human as he floated down to the ground. With a clack of his wooden geta shoes, he landed and gave a slight bow of his waist, greeting Diesel as his new boss.
"Welcome, Diesel-kun. Your new life begins as part of the Otherworld Isekai Service."