Otherworld Isekai Service
Diesel followed Tanaka around the truck stop, where he was led to what appeared to be a service counter. In front of that counter was a bell hanging on the wall, which Tanaka drove into to make it ring.
"Just a minute…Hey there boys, how's it going? Welcome to Mama Shanty's Truck Stop." This time, a purplish-pink truck came out from the back. On the side of her trailer was a picture of a tall glass of foaming liquid.
"Is that beer?" That was what it looked like to Diesel.
"No, that's gasoline. Wrong type of alcohol. It's a special blend. Do you want to try it?" Mama Shanty seemed to glow with pride.
"That'll be one karma."
"Ehh???" Diesel hadn't expected to have to pay in karma. Though he wasn't trying to be stingy, he didn't see the point of spending money on gasoline that he could get for free with Kami-sama's help.
"From your reaction, you must be new here. It's really not that expensive. Got to earn some wages for myself, you know."
Tanaka jumped in to fill Diesel in on the situation.
"Yep, just 'graduated.' Mama Shanty here runs this truck stop to make a bit of karma on the side. She used to specialize in sending intellectual people to other worlds to have them solve important mysteries. Quite the task, if I do say so myself, since it takes a keen eye to discern the right people that can work through the complexities of the systems in different worlds."
"Don't forget. I also send over potential villains that create convoluted plots for the heroes to test themselves against. Can't make them too hard though, or else, the heroes won't be able to grow and adapt." Mama Shanty paused for a moment and sighed. "But lately, it seems like I keep getting requests only for arrogant young masters who get one-shotted. Things have changed a lot since cultivation powers came into play. Why do I even bother when battles of intellect are on the decline?"
"It will make her happy if you came by occasionally for a refill," Tanaka said in a light-hearted tone, trying to change the subject.
"Alright, I guess I'll have a cup then." Diesel relented. It was only one karma after all, hardly worth the appearance of being a penny pincher.
"Coming right up!" Magically, a hose dropped down, and the nozzle made its way to the opening of Diesel's gas tank.
As liquid started pouring into the tank, Diesel was immediately hit with a unique flavor. Aside from the normal taste of gasoline, there was a hint of…tea?
"That feeling of confusion emitting from you is all I need to know. This must be your first taste of food-blended gasoline," Mama Shanty chuckled at Diesel's confusion.
Diesel definitely missed the taste of human food, but he wondered how it was even possible for gasoline to taste anything at all like that.
"All of us are in the same boat. Trucks with memories of being a human. Of course, we miss some of the pleasures of our past lives. Kami-sama knew that and thought of a way to make it easier on us. Hence, food-grade gasoline, which comes in a variety of flavors."
To begin with, it seemed rather strange that any normal human would end up being turned into a truck. In Diesel's case, it had been an unfortunate mistake, but that couldn't have been the case for everyone here. A truck stop dedicated to comforting those that had ended up as such implied that there was a sizable population of Truck-kuns in existence.
"Some of us ended up like this due to bad karma in our past lives. When one doesn't live a proper life, they can end up in a strange location in the reincarnation system. Though, there are a few out there that seemingly chose to be this way. Thought it would be cool." Tanaka laughed.
The sound of more engines rumbled in the distance. Turning around, a few more trucks made their way towards the truck stop. As they approached, Tanaka told Diesel about them.
Jester, a brightly decorated truck that looked like it had a run-in with a circus, had been around for many years. Normally, he went after targets that liked to stir up trouble and controversy. His favorite time to perform the service was at night, when the paint job glowed in the dark.
Though very approachable during the day, the glow-in-the-dark design had been carefully disguised within the normal pattern to create a menacing presence.
He loved to charge in and scare his targets senseless to teach them a lesson before doing the deed. He was an unexpected terror, created through a mental gap when something seemingly friendly was put in an out-of-place environment. It reminded him of a clown sitting alone in a movie theater or something.
Vera, a sharp-looking truck with a necktie on the front grill for some reason, had also been a veteran. Though she had done many types of jobs in her tenure, there was a recent type of request that she would snatch up greedily.
Tanaka laughed when Diesel asked him what that request was. "Probably not anything you would care for, but she loves to ship people from different worlds together, particularly those with an inclination for the same gender."
Another truck slowly drudged along, behind those two. Shade, a truck that always seemed to be tired of being wherever, moved at a snail's pace. The only time she seemed to wake up from her weariness was when there was a target whose actions or personality triggered a fierce spark of hatred.
Rather than a certain finesse that veteran Truck-kuns performed their service with, Shade preferred hers to be bloody and messy, taking enjoyment at the havoc her target's destruction resulted in. The more her target enraged her, the larger the resulting splatter would be.
"Remind me to never make her mad." Diesel shivered nervously.
"Haha, don't worry. They are good trucks normally. We have a good sense of comradery as fellow Truck-kuns." Tanaka gave Diesel a gentle nudge to comfort him.
Hopefully, that was the case. Diesel would rather not be the 'new guy' that got picked on. With no arms of his own, he couldn't even give himself a hug for comfort. He would need to learn how to gently give a love tap like Tanaka had just given him.
"Well, lookie here! An unfamiliar sight! Showing him the ropes, Tanaka?" Jester beamed at them, giving off the brilliance of an excited clown.
Tanaka nodded and introduced Diesel to the others. After some initial greetings, the newcomers joined them at the service counter and ordered different flavors of gasoline. Jester liked his hard, and Vera liked hers fruity. Shade simply idled her engine and zoned out.
"So, what's new out there, Jester, Vera? Got any interesting new requests?" Mama Shanty asked them.
"Hmm, requests…no, but there seems to be some strange trend stirring about." A puff of air seemed to shoot out of Vera's grill, making her tie flutter.
"Strange trend?" Mama Shanty asked while putting the hoses away.
"Yep, seems like someone is trying to start up a new way of isekai-ing people. One that involves geese."
"Geese?! How does that even work?!"
Diesel wanted to know that just as much as everyone else. Far from the menacing concept of getting hit by a truck, the prospect of a goose guiding one to another world seemed rather harmless.
"Apparently, these are dreadful, mischievous geese, those that play crafty tricks to 'accidentally' take a human's life."
Diesel tooted his horn, not understanding where this was going. Sure, the geese did the deed instead of a truck, but how did that lead to sending a person to another world? Actually, how did death by truck lead to that result in the first place?
"Oh, did Kami-sama not tell you? Any person who is killed by a supernatural cause – be it lightning, or trucks, or yes, even mischievous geese – causation of death by those of the Otherworld results in the victim's soul being sent off to the closest nearby world instead of purgatory to be judged. Normally, Kami-sama has the correct world in position for the intended target. Of course, mistakes do happen, leading to an unlikely hero or villain being sent as a result." Mama Shanty gave a lecture of what the other trucks, besides Diesel, had already learned.
"Well, it's not our concern at the moment. Not unless they start encroaching on our work." Jester shifted from side-to-side, making it look like he was shrugging off the threat. "Anyways, nice to meet ya, Diesel. Good luck to ya. Happy isekai-ing."
Numerous Truck-kuns, each with their own motivation and perspectives on how to perform their job, had made it clear to Diesel that he had been approaching it half-heartedly. What more could he understand about this strange world and how it operated?
Maybe he would understand once he left the wing of Kami-sama, who had been guiding him the whole way. As Tanaka said, he would eventually have to decide things for himself. He could follow orders. He had the will to carry them through. But what would he do if he had to decide who to send? The thought of that scared him a little.
Diesel sighed as he watched the other trucks converse like they had been normal, human friends. They didn't seem like bad people, and they had gone through those crossroads already.
Surely, he could do the same, but only time could tell.
Diesel took another sip of his tea gasoline.