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Welcome to The Universe

Why, hello there!

This is Rei speaking, AKA your “Rei” of Sunshine! I’m here to welcome you to The Universe.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering what’s going on right now. This might shock you, but you’re actually dead! Yes, I know you’re standing right there, reading this introduction, but you’re totally dead. Trust me.

Thousands of years ago, you died. Even though it was a long time ago, you should still remember that. It was your last memory, after all!

So a few hundred years ago, I and a team of scientists started working on a paradise to escape from the real world. It was so popular that it became the new “real” world!

I already know your next question. You’re dead, so why are you here?

Well, everyone is connected through their soul. The Universe has no capacity, so we recently started pulling souls from the past! That way everyone can enjoy the gift of life to its fullest.

Because The Universe is connected to your soul, we are able to give you things you have lost. You know, like if you were blind, deaf, or disabled in any other way. Stuff they couldn’t do waaaay back when.

Couldn’t read before? You can now! Everyone in The Universe speaks a common language. It was already implanted into your new body.

Now that you’ve completed this message you’ll be given a more thorough introduction by one of our greeters, selected carefully just for you.

Maybe you’ll even get to meet me one of these days.

Enjoy your new life!

Mana Harasses Rei for the Umpteenth time

Rei sat in her office, head in her hand, watching over Zephyr running around performing her duties. “Mama, huh…” She shook her head. “Silly girl.”

Rita stepped in. “Good morning, sunshine!” Rei stood up for a quick hug.

“Hey, Boss. How’s it going?” She smiled.

“Oh, you have an appointment today.” She frowned. “It’s with that girl again. Mana.”

Rei sighed. “Ugh, you’d think she’d give up by now. What time?”

“In about thirty minutes or so.” Rita sat down, and so did Rei. “Why do you keep accepting her?”

“Even though I’m, y’know, me, no one really makes appointments to meet with me. I mean, we could announce that it’s an option at all, but…” She looked back at her computer, the camera following Zephyr. “I dunno, I don’t want it to take up my whole day, every day.”

Rita rubbed Rei’s back. “Oh, silly Rei. You know I’m great at time management. If you ever want to announce that you accept visitors, I’ll be sure to leave you with plenty of time to watch the world.”

“Thanks, Boss. I knew there was a reason I hired you.”


ding dong

Smashing the door open Mana entered the office, not giving a damn about the noise it made. She’d splintered and broken a few doors by now, but that’s what you get when you refuse to be timid. Smiling from ear to ear she looked at Rei’s desk and nodded triumphantly.

Brazenly sitting down in the chair opposite Rei, she started spreading out different kinds of documents on her desk. Several suggestions on how to implement a financial zone. She’d had plenty of time and Rita’s revisions always added an extra kick.

“My dearest goddess, leader of the world, ruler of the universe and all that, I think—no, I know this would be a great idea! A beautiful implementation of a brilliant plan, if I may say so myself” she winked.

She missed the feel of coins rubbing against her hand. The chilling, fulfilling feeling of hard cash against her skin. Knowing the bills would get paid, knowing the necessities would be covered. She missed the sense of accomplishment that came with buying a brand new item.

Kicking herself out of her nostalgia, she looked expectantly at Rei, beaming that she’d not been kicked out of the office yet. Yet.

Rei forced a smile. “How about we talk for a bit before we get to the…um…plan? I’ll fix myself a nice cup of tea, and whatever you’d like to drink.” Mana had been coming by rather regularly. It was always about one thing. Money.

Rei couldn’t understand why Mana was so fixated on it. Even diving into her portfolio from her previous life… She just didn’t understand.

From Rei’s experience, money only caused problems. Greed. Money was the driving force to the former society. Everything was done for money.

But now… There was no need. They were in The Universe. A utopia that was created for peace and harmony, as cliché as that sounded to her.

Rei fiddled with some options, and pulled out a hot cup of tea for herself. “What would you like, Mana?” She crossed her legs. “And if you’d like a snack to go with it, by all means.”

Miffed by the usual greeting, Mana told her to get the usual. A million dollar chocolate bar and a rich strawberry juice, served on a plate made of gold bars. And per usual, the request would be ignored; giving her a regular chocolate bar with a picture of Rei on it. She never got the strawberry juice for reasons unknown.

She put her legs up on Rei’s desk and found her usual pillow underneath it, putting it behind her back. She’d take her time as usual; sometimes she’d fall asleep there just to make a point, but today was different. “Rei, during all the years I’ve been here I’ve always asked for one thing; a zone where a currency is functional. I’m speaking businesswoman to businessgoddess, it’d motivate people!”

Inwardly she drooled at the thought of other people being in her debt – feeling the gaze of Rita drilling into her as Rita left the office; she remembered something about her goodie-two-shoe mother in her deadlife. Grinning broadly, she pointed towards some of the schematics and started explaining why it’d be a huge improvement to The Universe.

Taking small, delectable nibbles off her chocolate bar, she felt comfortable in here. At home in the office.

Rei pulled out a bottle of strawberry juice and set it on the table in front of her. “Here. You know by now we don’t have room in here for the chocolate bar, but you can always fix it up in your own place.”

She smiled. “Mana. You and your whole ‘money’ thing. Again.” She shook her head, and sighed. “Let me explain to you the concept of TU again and why it’s not a good idea.”

Mana made herself comfortable at point, ready for the usual lecture. Rei looked at her, and began her explanation. “Okay, so… TU is a utopia. Our goal here is to make as many people happy as possible. That includes you. But…” She took a deep breath. “Adding money to the whole equation… could ruin our entire society. It causes greed. It causes death. It causes all sorts of horrible things.

“But look. I know you want it. Trust me, I know. You can have fake money, you can procure fake dollars, you can procure fake gold, whatever currency you want. But it’s not real, and it won’t have any value here. No matter what you do.”

Laughing at Rei referencing her homemade coin collection, she just shook her head. “That’s where you’re wrong, Rei. Money brings out the human in people. Imagine all the people who’d help their neighbor pay their water bill, the beautiful sound of putting money in your pocket, the gentle caress of your first dollar bill.”

Amazed at her own genius, she winked at Rei. “Imagine all the people who’d pay just to get an interview with you, or a meeting like this. You’d make so many people happy.” Popping her knuckles softly, she yawned. Maybe half an hour would be a good idea. Napping was just so much more comforting when you didn’t strictly need to.

Rei shook her head. “That’s where you’re wrong, Mana. It’s not the money that would make people happy, it’s me. Hanging out with me.” She popped a candy in her mouth. “There is no water bill, because there is no need for that kind of work. There’s only a few jobs in TU, and they are all voluntary. People here don’t work because they need the money. They work because they want to. That’s the whole point.”

“It might be you making them happy, but that’s not all of it!” Mana clasped her hands in delight of a new speaking point. “What makes it special is the exclusivity of it. Why else would people buy branded products?” Grinning further, she started going on about how her dad had conducted his business.

“It was all about the appearances, you’d never think the man with a $10,000 watch would eat nothing but lettuced beans, but people thought of him as someone mighty because he could afford exclusivity!”

Taking a huge sip of the strawberry juice, Mana contemplated just where this could go, but her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a door opening.

“Mana. You don’t get it.” Rei crossed her legs. “If we make things exclusive, then it will make other people jealous. Envious. You do know that envy and greed are two of the seven deadly sins, right? If you want something exclusive, then imagine something that only you can think of. And don’t show anyone. If you show someone, then it’ll spread, and it won’t be exclusive anymore.”

She sighed. This was such a common occurrence with Mana. “Look. Money might make a few people happy, but it’ll make a lot of people unhappy.”

Knowing that enough was enough, Mana stood up and winked back at Rei. “It was a pleasure doing business withya, guv’nor. Let’s do this again some other time. Next week, same time as always?” she chuckled on her way out.

Rei threw her hands up and leaned back in her chair. “That girl,” she began, taking a sip of her cup of tea. “Is a major pain in the ass. UGH.”

Wind stood in her doorway. “Want a smoke?” He took a hit off his own lit cigarette.

“No, you know I’ve never liked smoking.”

“Mmm. It’ll make you feel better.”

“For now. But I could get lung canc–” She paused. “You know what, I will have one. But I’ll make it strawberry flavored.”

He tossed the cigarette over and she procured a lighter. Wind smirked.

Rei took in a puff and exhaled. “Ahhh, so tasty. You’re right, it is making me feel better. Wait.” She looked across the room at him. “I’m surprised you came in to check on me.”

“You’re more trouble than you’re worth after a visit from that girl.”

“Hey, I resent that.”

Wind sat down on the bed, Rei joining him, and they both smoked for some time in silence. The air was filled with a strange mixture of tobacco and strawberry scents.

Rei rolled over and looked him in the eyes. “Wind… I still…”

“Sorry, gotta go.” And he was gone.

Get Smoked

Rei stepped into Wind’s room. He sat at his desk, as per usual, but this time, he was wearing a red hat with the words “GET SMOKED” written across in yellow.

“Cosplay?” She asked. He didn’t turn to look at her.

“Kinda.”

“I’m a little surprised you took the time to play a video game. Persona, right?”

“I didn’t. Zephyr gave me this. I thought I’d wear it to make her happy.” He shrugged. “And yeah, I think that’s the one.”

Rei cocked her head. “Doesn’t that game have, like… really dark themes?” She sat down. “I mean… people can play whatever they want here, that’s the point of TU. But Zephyr… Should you really be letting her play that kind of game?”

Wind paused for a moment, adjusted the hat, and then turned towards Rei. He took a drag of his cigarette. “If she’s allowed to get killed by people in the dungeon, she’s allowed to play a game like that.”

Rei crossed her arms. “She’s not, though. That was part of our deal.”

“Why do you care so much?”

“I just… I think she needs supervision over such a type of game.”

“She was.”

“Huh? By who?”

“Matsuhiro. He apparently did all the fighting, and let her do the socializing aspect of the game. It made her feel happy to have more AI friends.” He looked her in the eyes. “Y’know, since she doesn’t even know she has a little brother.”

“Look, it’s for their own good.”

“Whatever you say.”

“We made a deal.”

“Uh huh, I know.” He turned back to his computer. “Don’t you have work to do?”

“…Yeah. I’ll see you around.”

Gettis’s Training

Bianca hadn’t seen Gettis since his interview last week. She’d kept hounding Rita about the decision on whether to keep him or not. However, being a former CEO, Rita knew better than to share inside information. So she kept telling Bianca that she’d let her know when the time came.

Knock, knock, knock. “Bianca, I know it’s you, sweetie. You come like clockwork at the same time every day. Come on in.” It was time.

Bianca walked into the room and sat down. “Well? Did you decide about Ritter? The deadline is today.”

Rita smiled, and turned her chair to face Bianca. “I’ll just get right to the point.” Bianca leaned forward in anticipation. “He’s hired.”
“Ha! I knew that good-for-nothing would never—“ she paused. “Wait, what?”

Rita chuckled. “And Rei and I decided it would be best if you delivered the good news. Here’s all the information you need.”

“M-m-me!?” Wait, this is my chance! “Actually, that’s fine. I’ll be on my way, then…” She quickly got up to take her leave.

“You don’t want to have a chat first—“ Bianca had already left. “Ever since she met Gettis we don’t get to hang out anymore…”


There he was, in the middle of Scarlet Forest. Must be playing with the animals…

“Ritter!” she shouted, flying towards him with heavy breath. “We need to talk!” She crashed into him. This is the second time I’ve crashed around him. I really need to work on my clumsiness.

Down on her butt in front of him once again, she managed to sputter out the words: “R-Ritter. You’re…hired.”

Holding one arm on her right elbow, steadying her with the other hand Gettis looked in the direction she ran from. He didn’t quite catch what she said, but he understood the sentiment. “What did they hire me as? Because I’m not working as a stable boy again.”

Distancing from herself now that he knew she was steady again, he got a good look at her. She’d been running and the thought of it made him a little happy. “I take it this was an urgent mission?”

She smirked. “Yes, an urgent mission indeed. Because you’re an admin now. And I…” She pulled up Gettis’s Admin file. “I…will be…” Her eyes scanned for her name, but it wasn’t mentioned anywhere. “W-Wait a second…” She turned around, and quickly messaged Rita.


Bianca: I think you made a mistake, it doesn’t say I’m going to be his trainer. In fact, it lists Kawaguchi instead!

Rita: This is why I wanted you to wait before taking off all of a sudden. There is no mistake. You deliver the message, but Hiro is to be his trainer.


Bianca’s chest hurt. She thought this was going to be her chance to prove to Gettis that she was superior to him. I was just the messenger…

She turned back to face him, and cleared her throat. “Ahem. I was sent for the important task of informing you of your duties, and directing you to your…trainer. You were somehow hired as a Greeter. I don’t understand it, but like I said, I don’t make the rules.”

Eyeing her, a bit surprised by her new, almost hyper behaviour, Gettis giggled a little. He waited patiently while she stood quiet, back against him. He felt almost awed at the amount of trust people had in each other here. It was a nice feeling, knowing his sister would be safe in this world if she found her way to it.

“…And your trainer will be Matsuhiro Kawaguchi. Remember that guy that was pestering you in line last week? Yeah. Him.”

Stirred out of a melancholic mood by a sound, he focused his eyes back on Bianca. Nodding at the important parts of her speech, he paused at the name Matsuhiro. Well, this would take an interesting turn. He felt a bit relieved at the idea that she’d not be his trainer, seeing her run like this could give him the wrong idea.

She smirked again. “Hmph. I guess we’ll have our next battle after your training. Any questions?”
“Battle, you say? I’m not sure about your sword capabilities, but you’re well-equipped in wits” he smirked, folding his hands. “I’ll be looking forward to this, despite my surprise at being hired. I’m sure you had some very well-worded protests, albeit they’re a little hard to hear coming from that far down.”
Yes, a battle of wits, of course. She smirked. “I’m not so sure Rita made the right decision in hiring you, but no one who has been hired by her has ever been fired. You might be the first.”
She started moving forward, and beckoned him to follow her. “Come, Ritter. I may not be your trainer, but I can least give you your Admin orientation.”

 

They entered Bianca’s office in the Administry. “Going to perform your furniture magic again?” He asked.

“Don’t be silly, Ritter. That was just for a first impression.”  Slightly uncomfortable sitting in the chair, he corrected his posture. Slouching, even in normal-sized furniture, had a bad effect on his back. It’d crack, snapple and pop like mad when standing up.

“Okay. First off, I’ve granted you permission to access your own Admin PDA. You’ll access it by first bringing up your citizen device, then tapping the new icon you’ll notice on your screen.” He followed along with her instructions.”Next, I’ll teach you about the different functions of the PDA.” She pushed her chair next to his. “See this here, that’s the directory for chatlogs in the area. You don’t really have to worry about that, unless you’re curious.” She pointed to another part of the screen. “And here, this is your list of duties for the day. Oh, and we have every Reiday off. No duties on that day…unless you’re Rita, that is.” She chuckled.

“Within this page, you can view the people you’ll have to greet for the week. You’ll want to examine their profile thoroughly so you can properly greet them, but Kawaguichi will go over that a little more thoroughly with you.”

She tapped an icon with Rei’s face on it. “And finally, this is your direct communication line with Rei. Please, only peruse this if it’s important.”

Finished listening to her detailed explanation, he was quite surprised he had a way to contact Rei. He thought it’d be reserved to more higher-up people. Myth squashed, he nodded along. “What constitutes contacting Rei?”
And another thing that made him curious was where his trainer were. He’d been listening to Bianca explain what was going to happen, but he thought it’d be more natural for a less antagonistic person to explain it. Already from this he gathered that Matsuhiro might not be very serious about his job.
“Where is Matsu–, excuse me, my trainer? Are you going to introduce us?” he asked, slightly confused about the situation.
“What constitutes contacting Rei, huh?” She thought back to the week before when she messaged Rei about needing Rita. “Well she’s my sister, so I can message her whenever I want. You, on the other hand…” She looked him up and down. “If you have anything that you think requires her attention. Something abnormal going on here in your assigned sector.”
As for his trainer, Bianca didn’t want to see Matsuhiro, but figured she’d have to. “This is all I can really tell you without training you. Are you ready to go meet Kawaguchi, as your equal?”
 As your equal echoed in his head, making him feel relieved at the thought of not having to act servile again. He felt a twinge of guilt, but mainly a warm feeling spreading in his chest. She might not be too bad after all. Maybe.
“I suppose I am, as ready as I’ll ever be” he nodded, mentally preparing himself for the onslaught of chitchat. “Let’s meet him.” Patience wasn’t one of my virtues then, and I doubt it’ll be now.
Matsuhiro popped into the room right on cue. “Hey guys, I’m here to kidnap Gettis for his training~!”
“So we meet again” Gettis pointed out wryly, “who could’ve guessed?” He held out a hand towards Matsuhiro, awaiting a handshake.
As they explained pleasantries, Bianca quickly stood up and frowned. “Knock first, please. How many times do I have to tell you that?”

He snickered. “Oh, come on Bianca, I know you barged into Rita’s room every day for the past week wanting to know about G—“ She quickly covered his mouth.“Ugh, just get going already.” Bianca turned away.

“What was that about the office? You’ve spiked my curiosity” he said, side-eyeing Bianca. Getting quite such a flustered reaction from Bianca, he had a feeling they had quite the past.
“D-Don’t worry about it! No slacking! Go on your training date already!”  She looked back at Gettis. “And…come see me again sometime after your training is complete.”
“I’ll contact you when the meeting is over, don’t wait up. It was nice to see you again, Bianca.” He cleared his throat and focused back on Matsuhiro. “Should we get on with this, then?” He gestured to leave.

 

Matsuhiro and Gettis entered a familiar area: grassland plains, with a bright, blue sky overhead. “This is a special instance area for awakenings. You might remember it from your time with Iris.”

He pulled up his Admin PDA. “So, the best way to learn is by watching, I think. I’ll handle the first one, so you stand back and watch. I’ve already studied up on our new citizen. His name is Wren, he was a model, and he died from a terminal illness.” He checked the time. “Okay, you ready?” he didn’t wait for an answer. “It’s happening!”

A tall man materialized onto the ground. As he took his first breath, he started coughing up a storm. His eyes darted back and forth. “Huh? Wasn’t I just in the hospital?” he reached to his head, and felt his familiar hat. “My hair is back? Hell yeah.”

He sat up and saw Matsuhiro smiling at him. “Hey, who are you?” The introductory letter popped in front of his face. “Wait, you mean I don’t have cancer anymore? I can go back to being a model?”

Matsuhiro chuckled. “Yeah, Wren, though luckily for us, we don’t have a shortage of hot guys around here.” He winked. “But your working conditions here will be waaaaaay better.”

“You know my name, huh? Must be a fan.” He grinned. “Want an autograph? What’s your name?”

“Actually I’m your greeter for The Universe. I know everything about you, including the fact that you like cute boys.” Matsuhiro poked Wren’s forehead. “I’m definitely a fan, though. I’ll take a signed picture whenever you wanna get it to me.”

“I’ll totally get you one later, uhh… What’s your name?”

“Matsuhiro Kawaguchi… But you can call me Hiro.”

“So, Hiro, what’s next?” He stood up and brushed dirt off his pants.

“You’re gonna choose a place to live.” Matsuhiro turned towards his new partner. “Gettis, it’s your turn. Come explain the living areas to our new citizen!”

Stepping forward and into the light, Gettis looked directly at the new citizen. “Hello, and welcome to The Universe. My name, like my co-admin said, is Gettis. Any questions you have are to be directed to me or Matsuhiro, but any admin would be happy to help.” He takes a moment to frown at Matsuhiro. “Don’t worry about personal information, we’re provided with basic facts about you and your life, so your privacy will not be further invaded.” He said, mentally taking a jab at Rita.

Helping Wren stand up, he supported him. “I’ll explain the areas of The Universe, but until you’ve settled down your living area will be in Urbania based on your previous life.”

Clearing his throat, he started listing all of the names and descriptions, making sure to mention the severity of the more risky areas like the Primeval Sanctuary, Sleeping Isles and both Yzyss and the Misty Expanse. “If you disagree with my placement, you will be placed in the area of your choosing with extra securities.”

Nodding for Matsuhiro to take over, he made sure Wren was able to stand on his own and stepped back a little.

Matsuhiro was about to stop Gettis from forcing Wren to live in Urbania, until Wren said “Dude, you have a city here? That’s awesome.” I guess he does know what he’s doing.

Matsuhiro added an explanation. “Yes, Urbania was one of the more recent developments in The Universe. It’s a beautiful city, full of everything you can imagine.” Remembering the money-hungry Mana, who he’d assisted a few years back, he added: “Oh, but all transaction-type things are automated. There’s no form of currency in this world. So being a model would be more of a hobby than a job, really.”

Wren looked on giddily. “That doesn’t bother me at all! I love modeling for much more than just the money. Honestly, having no currency in this world is probably a good idea. In my career, there were always a lot of people who were really greedy. I’m actually really excited to live in harmony or whatever.”

Matsuhiro was relieved that this was going so smoothly, since it was Gettis’s first time. “Okay, Gettis, now we’re going to teleport to Urbania.”
Puzzled. “Teleport? What kind of gate is that? How far is it to walk there?” he mused. All these new and odd words every now and then bothered him, he felt left out of the loop. All these amazing technological advancements made him awed. He was even awed at the printing press, considering he had spent a fortune on the 3 books he owned.
Walk?” Matsuhiro laughed. “Have you been walking everywhere this whole time? No, no… Teleportation is a way of instant travel. It was utterly impossible in the real world, but here, we can.”
 Wren looked at him in awe. “That’s fucking sweet. I loved reading sci-fi novels in my spare time.” I know, thought Matsuhiro. “This really is heaven, isn’t it?”
“The best part is that not only can Admins do it, but everyone can.” He looked at Gettis. “Actually, I’m pretty surprised you haven’t figured that out yet. Here, I’ll show you how.” He showed Wren how to bring up the citizen PDA. “Okay, and click…here. Now, scroll through the list and click Urbania. OK, now hit go whenever you’re read-“

A second later, they were standing in the middle of Urbania. Wren’s eyes widened. “Wow, it really worked!”

After teleporting, Gettis had found himself in the middle of a fainting spell. Exhausted, pale and sweaty he stepped away from Matsuhiro and Wren. He sat down, putting his head between his legs and breathed deeply in and out. Severely dizzy, not so much a side-effect of the teleportation as the suddenness of it all.

“I.. I’m gonna need a minute here” he said, steadying himself with an arm on the ground waiting for the dizzy spell to go away. How utterly humiliating. He felt awful, but it was receding. He didn’t want to risk standing up quite yet, but he summoned up the energy to at least try to look graceful sitting there. Never again. Never.

Matsuhiro patted Gettis on the back as he keeled over. “Sorry about this, Wren. I never would have guessed he’d never teleported before! Otherwise, I would have shown him before we woke you up.”
“Hey, don’t worry about it. I’ve held back the hair of so many model friends after they indulged in some indecencies. This is nothing.” Wren knelt down next to Gettis. “Hey, would you like some water? I assume we can materialize it or something. It’ll make you feel better.”
“Actually, we’re not quite there yet. But it’s really easy to get. You can put in a request on your PDA and…” Matsuhiro tapped the button on his PDA. A cart rolled up with a few glasses of water on it. “Here we go.” He handed the glass to Gettis. “Take a moment to relax, and then we can show Wren around.”
Nodding and acknowledging Matsuhiro’s kindness by taking a sip of the water, he lay down on the ground. Feeling the grass against his skin revitalized him quite a bit, and he stretched to the full extent. He’d missed feeling this close to nature.
“Thank you, Matsuhiro. Although I dread the thought of having to repeat that.” Standing up, he patted the grass off himself and sauntered back to the two slightly uncomfortable people. “Let’s get on with this” he said, inwardly hoping Bianca wouldn’t hear of this. “I imagine you already have quite a few places in mind” he said, indicating Matsuhiro.
Matsuhiro gestured for them to follow. “So, Wren. What kind of housing have you always desired?”
Wren thought back to living in a cheap apartment. “Hmm, well, do you have any of those swanky studio apartments? I’d definitely be interested in seeing one, at least. On the highest floor, with a great view!” He paused. “Wait, I hope I’m not asking too much.”
Matsuhiro patted his back. “Of course not. We have plenty of those. They’re definitely in high demand. The best part about living on the top level in TU is that you don’t have to walk up the stairs.”
“Wait, you mean, there’s a direct-to-home teleport option as well?” He looked back at Gettis. “Well…For now, let’s look at some other options first. High rise building isn’t my only idea.”

“Of course, my friend.” Matsuhiro appreciated the generosity Wren was showing towards Gettis. “But what else could you want to live in in a city like this?”

“Well…Let me think.”

“Don’t be mistaken by my words, you’re definitely not limited to city-like housing. We have other options, such as Scarlet Forest, a land with many animals. Gettis lives there. Oh, and there’s also Aquenia, an underwater city.”

“…An underwater city? Man, this place just gets cooler and cooler.” He looked at Gettis again. “…Is there anywhere nearby we can check out that won’t involve teleportation?”

Feeling very honored that Wren had taken him into consideration about where he’d potentially have to go, he braced himself for all kinds of misery. “Wren, I have showed both of you a very pathetic sight and for that I must humbly apologize. Make no mistake though, we’re in it for you and your happiness. Teleportation isn’t an issue you’ll need to worry about.” He declared, and wryly added “consider it like you’re helping me practice for future assignments.”

Remembering how forceful he could be considered about the Urbanian housing, he felt the need to explain why it felt like a good fit. Reading up on assignments, he’d come across the word culture shock and had further researched the term.

“I’m not going to in any way force you to live a place if you’d rather live elsewhere, I simply assumed from your background and history of living that a city life would be a comfortable place to settle down, before possibly moving on to explore other places. And if you do choose to live elsewhere, I’ll be of service if you need assistance. ” He smiled at Wren. He’d been lucky to get a very considerate first assignment, further motivating him to practice on the teleportation in his spare time.

“Okay, then let’s teleport up to the top floor of your recommended apartment complex. I trust your judgement. And if you say it’s okay, it’s okay.” Wren grinned, and put his arm around Gettis.

Matsuhiro looked up at the tall men. “You know, if I tried to do that, I’d end up touching your asses.” He laughed. “Not that I’d mind, but I don’t think Gettis would appreciate it.”

“Hey, Hiro, I haven’t even given you my autograph yet! We’ll get to the butt grabbing later.” He laughed, pulled out his PDA again, and loaded the teleportation app. “Okay, so where are we going?”

Matsuhiro looked at Gettis. “How about we let Gettis do it this time?” He texted Gettis the specific coordinates.

Crossing his fingers and inwardly praying, Gettis put in the coordinates and activated the Admin group teleportation. The same awful feeling hit him as they appeared in the luxurious, beautifully decorated apartment. They were greeted by a giant painting of Rei.
“ALL the furniture is replaceable, all of it” Gettis forced out between varying degrees of awful.
Refusing to sit down again, he held his hand out presenting the apartment to Wren. “This is potentially your new apartment. It’s fully customizable and Matsuhiro can tell you about the specifics of square footage and eventually how to customize it. What do you think?” He said, fighting back the black spots in his vision.

Wren stepped up to the giant window, and looked down at the bustling city below him. “Wow… This is just what I’ve always wanted to live in.”

“You said you were also interested in Aquenia, yeah? Well, you can live here for starters, but you’re definitely not locked to one location.” Matsuhiro sat down on a nearby couch. He patted the cushion next to him.

Wren took the seat. “Ahhh, man. This is comfy.” He looked up at the large portrait of Rei. “I’m glad this is all customizable, though. I mean…she’s pretty, but I could use that space more efficiently.” Gettis stood tall, still at the entrance of the apartment, with his hand against the wall. “Man, are you okay? I wonder why teleportation is having these weird side effects on you.”

Matsuhiro smiled. “Well, I hope it wears off soon, because he’ll have to do this nearly every job from here on out!”

“Yes” Gettis noted with a blank expression, “I’ll get used to it.” Walking towards Matsuhiro, he stopped a few steps away from them. “Like I said, consider it training.” He saved the coordinates in case Wren contacted him, and looked up the office coordinates, loading them in.
“Should we take a trip to Aquenia? Then you’ll have time during the settlement period to decide where you want to stay. Or what do you think, Matsuhiro?”

Wren stopped Matsuhiro before he could speak. “No, I think I’ll be great here for a while. Thanks for bringing me here, Gettis.” He grinned.

Matsuhiro led Gettis towards the door. “We can take the elevator back down for now.”

“Wait, there was an elevator this whole time?” Wren asked. “So we didn’t have to make Gettis suffer through this a second time. Man, Hiro…” He shook his head.

“Hey, he said it was okay.”

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

Resisting the urge to stomp on the floor like a petulant child, he gave Matsuhiro his most sugar-sweet smile with closed eyes. “No, I do believe we’ll teleport this time as well.”

“Well, since this worked out so smoothly, we’re gonna go ahead and take off so I can train Gettis a bit more. I’ll send you our contact info so you can call or text us if you need anything.” He waved. “Ciao~”

“It’s been a pleasure meeting you, Wren. I hope you’ll feel comfortable here, and keep in mind you’re free to contact us any time.” He thought of the bedtime rule, mentally cringing while trying to assure Wren that he’d not log any overtime contacts.

Wren called out to Gettis one more time before they left. “Hey, can I hit you up when I want to go visit Aquenia?”

Gettis became slightly put off when he’d heard that Wren had wanted to hit him. Even going so far as to mention the direction he’d be punched. Feeling Matsuhiro bump into him, he figured he’d misunderstood Wren. Ignoring the 50/50 threat/slang, he told Wren his contact details. “Like I said, contact me any time, I’d be happy to help.” Note to self: buy a slang dictionary.
Starting the group teleportation with Matsuhiro, he eyed him with the same sugary expression, that used to terrify his sister.
And, just like that, they instantly disappeared from Wren’s new apartment.

Papa

Wind knocked on Rei’s door. “It’s me. Can I come in?”

“Of course you can. We used to share this room, remember?”

He stepped in, ignoring her passive aggressive comment. “I was reading through Zephyr’s script, and I was thinking about something.”

“Mmhmm?” Rei sat at her desk, watching Urbania on her screen.

“She’s not allowed to call me Papa anymore. I thought it was weird she started calling me Master Wind all of a sudden, but it was something you did, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah. I like to keep what goes on in our lives private.” Her eyes remained fixated on the screen.

“But it’s not so weird for an AI to call her creator by a parental nickname… I think it’s even weirder you have her call us Master. No one else calls us that, you know? Not even Hydrus or Lilac.” He sat down.

“Yeah… I guess you’re right. I don’t really remember why I decided to do that, anyway.”

“So, can you change it back? I think it’s pretty cruel she can’t even call me Papa any longer, after doing so for so many years.”

Rei turned to face him, but avoided eye contact. “I suppose… On one condition.” She smiled, staring at his feet.

Oh no, here’s the catch. “What is it?”

“She has to call me Mama.”

They were both silent for a few minutes.

“Okay.”

“Yeah, I didn’t think you’d—” Rei looked up at his face. “Wait, really?”

He looked into her golden eyes with a smirk. “Of course, I’d do anything to make my daughter happy.”

Treasure Hunting

Carefully removing the mud from his feet, Lilac walked into the first house he saw. It looked tidy, obsessively so. It was hard to describe, but everything looked old. Carrying his favourite romance novel, he looked around in the house. Dangerously close to a fireplace was a library and a chair.

Sneaking across, he plopped down into the chair. He could get used to this, it was comfortable. None of the furniture oozed luxury like some of the newer citizens liked to have. Another red flag. It was a special kind of quiet here, and he settled into reading his book.

He enjoyed going treasure hunting in houses, because it showed so much about what the owner was like. This place had an empty feeling, but he shook that feeling off because the heroine of the novel had just found out her lover was marrying her sister in an arranged marriage.

As he reached the last page, and the villainous sister had been saved from being kidnapped into a drug cartel and finally found her own true love, he hugged the book to his chest. “Time to get back to work” he mused, leaving the house.

The Hiring Process

Rita sat in her office the day after she interviewed Gettis, reviewing his past life, as well as what she learned the previous day.
Bianca had filed a summary report of his chatlog with both Hiro and Zephyr the previous day:

“He somehow managed to get along with that brat Kawaguchi that you like so much. And Z… I have to admit I’m pretty impressed at how he treated her. Though there were a few points where she stopped talking suddenly. It seems as though he was able to comfort her. I hate to say it but he really is good at handling fragile creatures.”

Yes, Zephyr was a lot to handle for certain people. But it appeared as though Gettis took her in stride, and had even invited her over for visits. This was not the gentle man that was presented before her yesterday. It seems that he handles younger people better.

Rita assumed this was a result of his dedication to his sister in his past life. It was quite possible that he was projecting his feelings of adoration of Guinevere onto Zephyr.

Bianca stepped in without knocking. “Well? Are you hiring Ritter or not?”

Rita turned to face her. “Oh, Bianca… You know I can’t tell you until next week.” She smiled. “It appears you’ve taken quite a liking to him, though. Why don’t you go meet with him for a cup of tea?”

“No way! I can’t go meet a citizen just like that.” She crossed her arms. “And w-what do you mean I like him!? I hate him! He’s a jerk!”

“Okay, Bianca. Whatever you say.” She turned back to face her desk.

Bianca sat down. “Come on, we’re both high-level Admins… You can tell me, can’t you?”

Rita shook her head. “You know I can’t. It’s against my code of conduct.” She turned her head towards Bianca again. “But you know… You’ve never been this interested in hearing about the hiring status of a potential Admin.”

Bianca’s face flushed red. “T-That’s just because I want to make sure a jerk like him doesn’t stand a chance of being on my level!”

“I see… All right, sure. I’ll believe you.” Rita smirked to herself. She likes him so much.

Gettis’s Interview

Bianca van Coenen sat in a closed room. Her next Admin candidate was about to arrive.

“Gettis Ritter…” Recommended by Matsuhiro… Ugh. That little brat.

She looked over his profile. Rei had altered his appearance to make him more approachable. On paper, all of his characteristics were perfect for the Administry. And Rei seemed to like him as well.

Hmm… I don’t like that Matsuhiro likes him, but if I’m the one that hires him, it’ll really impress Rei.

There was a knock at the door. That must be him. She put a smile on her face, and fluttered her wings a little bit. “Come in!”

Ducking under the doorframe, he nearly stumbles on the chair. Not even when he lived as a peasant had he been in a room as small as this. Sitting down, the chair creaked. Worrisome conditions. Was it some sort of psychological testing?

Keeping a stoneface, he looked up at the interviewer. He stared at her but caught himself before it turned too intense. While interviews like this was a new thing to him, he was well aware that a person who appeared too defiant would never be hired.

“Hello. I’m Gettis Ritter. I’m here for the admin position.”

The man most certainly towered over Bianca, but she didn’t like to seem powerless, so she made a few quick modifications before he came in. Gettis, now seated in a small chair, his knees almost comically up in the air, was forced to look up at someone for perhaps the first time in his life.

Bianca sat cross legged atop a fancy swivel chair. On most days she donned a simple maid’s uniform—it was recommended by Rei—but during duties like these, she wore a simple black dress, fishnets, and tall boots. She gave off a more intimidating aura this way, her one uncovered eye fiercely gazing at him down below. That’s right, I am above you.

Despite his strange appearance, he was surprisingly attractive. “Welcome to the Administry,” she began. Her wings spread out. “We’ll begin with you answering a series of questions.” She uncrossed her legs, leaned forward, and smiled.

“So, why do you want to become an Admin?”

Deciding to ignore the quirks of the room due to even normal rooms being uncomfortable for someone his height, he kept as comfortable as possible. Returning her gaze casually, he nodded slightly.

The way crossed and uncrossed her legs made him feel an old-fashioned discomfort that he had struggled to get rid of. He still wasn’t used to dresses going above the ankle. He knew he’d get used to it, one way or another. He’d seen many such legs when he was wilder.

He thought she’d given him a smug smile when she asked why he wanted to become an admin, it made him slightly annoyed, so he curled his lip in a half-smile. “I’ve been bred to help people. I’d love to say I have nobler purposes, but a life of comfort and a purpose is what I need even in a world like this.”

He wouldn’t mention being bored out of his mind, or wanting some sort of power, maybe even authority. He just hoped he wouldn’t have to work with a blabbermouth.

“Bred, huh?” She smirked. “And here I thought those furry ears were just for show.” She twirled her ringlet. A fine specimen, indeed…

She took notes in her Admin PDA. “Protection, you say…” Well, he does have the body for it. Hee hee, he could really be put to good use for Rei…

“What exactly do you think is the kind of work we do, as Admins?”

“I’d appreciate your comment about my ears more if they were my own” he says, looking down at his hands. He still wasn’t entirely used to whatever it was he looked like now.

“I’d say the work of an admin is keeping order. Helping people get used to their new situation and adjusting it for the ones that refuse to settle down.” He’d seen plenty people try and fail to do just that, but he’d never bring that up. Some of the admins he’d seen so far seemed just as confused as him.

“Would you disagree on any of those?” He allowed himself the slightest of a smug smile, looking up at her.

Ahhh, he doesn’t even know that Rei modified him. He can’t appreciate her properly! Well, she must not have had a chance to speak with him yet. Really, though, Rei had done a beautiful job with Gettis. It was one of the most unique designs Bianca had ever laid eyes on.

“Ah, yes, I can see why you might think that…” She scrolled through his files. “Mmm, you were awoken by Iris, yes?” One of Rei’s favorite’s. She had even taken time out of her busy schedule to go wake Iris up herself. Ahhh, my sister is so wonderful.

“Those points are certainly correct, however, there’s a bit more to it. Really, it just depends on what you get assigned to.” Hmmm, he had a traumatic death. Burned alive.

“Let’s talk a bit about your awakening.” She wouldn’t let him get ahead of her. “So, you came to, and thrashed about, causing a bit of trouble for poor Iris. However, you seem to have adapted and appear to be more relaxed now. Let’s say you get assigned to awakening duty. The soul comes to, reacting similarly to the way you did, screaming, thrashing about.” She smirked. “How will you handle this?”

Mentally recoiling at every single one of her words, he refused to let it show on his face. Instead keeping it very steady. Her summary made him recollect how the fire had licked across his skin, and how real it felt waking up.

“I’ll go ahead and assume most awakenings are somewhere between complete calm and hysteria. Do you recall your own? When dealing with animals, the wolf wasn’t the worst problem. It was keeping the mother from kicking them out, or keeping the runts alive.” He slightly glazed over, remembering the one sow that could never keep a litter alive. It was hard to keep her, but he had somehow convinced the farmhand that it was a very valuable sow. Like it could be inspiratonal to one of the gilts.

“That’s where I have excelled. I’ve taken care of reintroducing runts to a litter, raising unwanted foals, piglets and so on and I know even the best humans are animals. Same source, different weaning process.”

He tried to be as calm and professional as possible to throw her off her high horse, hoping she’d feel looked down upon even from up high. He wasn’t new to this kind of power play, if it was indeed what this was. Sitting on the floor, kneeling, all of it.

“From what you’ve seen of me so far, what would I be assigned to? What can you be assigned to?”

Bianca felt disgusted yet intrigued by this man. It was as though he knew exactly how to get under her skin, something only one person had been able to do before: Matsuhiro. However, it was in a completely different way. Instead of acting smugly back at her, Gettis thoroughly answered her question with complete serenity.

“Very interesting…” She added some more notes to his profile. “As for other tasks, well, Rei plays a huge role in what people get assigned to. But there is another manager that officially assigns tasks to the admins. Take me, for example. I’ve never done a greeting job once. I’m simply suited for other tasks, like weeding out poor Admin candidates, and selecting only the best.” She frowned. “Matsuhiro, on the other hand… He was picked to become an Admin by Rei’s partner. I personally cannot understand why he was chosen. His demeanor simply revolts me. He takes care of citizen upkeep in this district, and occasionally works as a greeter.”

She looked down at Gettis once more. Bianca wasn’t ready to lose this battle yet. “So, you’re skilled in raising animals. Do you find yourself capable of taking care of humans as well?” He didn’t seem like much of a people-person. “Humans are quite different from other animals, which is what we primarily deal with. Personally, I can’t see you working as a greeter.”

Pondering for a moment on her dislike for Matsuhiro, he looked directly at her. “The short, blonde creature that talks way too fast? Is that the one you’re referring to?”

Don’t play dumb, she thought, towards his comment about Matsuhiro. I know you’ve met him, he was slacking off on his duties right before you came in here.

Nonchalantly, he changed the subject back to the Admin position.

“In what way are humans different from animals? Not even the food we eat is different from theirs. Whether we respond to a pack leader or an Admin, there is a hierarchy. Does putting yourself above animals make you feel powerful?” He gazed up at her.

“I accomplish my tasks, animal or human. My ears serve as a reminder of the fine line.” He thought in disgust, still bitter about the change. “So you don’t see me as a greeter, what do you see me as? Are you as good of a people person as you pride yourself?”

“How dare you speak to me that way?” She glared at him and sighed angrily. “Look, Gettis. As much as I don’t want to hire you, it’s really not up to me. I’m just the first part of the process.” She sent a quick message to the manager and Rei. I know Ritter is a great candidate, but I just can’t handle him. I need Rita to conduct a further analysis. I need her here immediately. …Sorry, sis.

She scoffed. “If it were up to me, I would’ve kicked you out. But the bosses have other plans.” This man had a strong resolve. Bianca was strong, but not as strong as Rei.

Ping. She received a response from Rei. Don’t worry sis, there is nothing you could do to let me down. He must have done something really bad to hurt your feelings. I’ll treat you to a fancy dinner tonight~! Bianca smiled. Rita sent a message too. I’m on my way. Don’t be too mean to him. And frowned again. “Hmph. Your second part of the interview is about to take place. So I’ll be taking my leave.” She fluttered down to the ground

At the door, she hesitated. “I’ll see you around, Ritter.”

Seeing her hesitation at the door, he looked back up and smiled at her. “I hope so.” He had a feeling they’d see each other again quite soon.


Almost as soon as Bianca was gone, an orange-haired, fair-skinned woman appeared. This one had no strange features as the last couple that Gettis had met.

“Now, now,” she spoke, in a gentle voice. “This isn’t a way to interview someone. Let me fix this.”

She pulled out her Admin PDA and tapped a few buttons. Gettis was presented with a much more appropriately sized chair, and the desk was removed. Rita smiled, then took her seat. She and Gettis could see eye-to-eye this way. Taken slightly off-guard by the resizing of the furniture, Gettis corrected his posture.

“My apologies, sir,” she began. “It seems Bianca wasn’t quite suited for your interview.” She pulled up the chatlog between the two of them. Oh, yes, I see why she was upset. He doesn’t seem to do well with power-play.

“So, Mr. Ritter… You want to be an Admin because you want to help protect our citizens. That’s wonderful, and I quite admire you for that.” She did her best to maintain eye contact, having no reaction to his strange features. She clapped her hands a couple times.

“Honestly, you seem like a great candidate. I’ve learned all I needed about your qualifications, so I want to hear a bit more about you. Tell me about Gettis.”

Gettis listened to the newcomer talk, almost allowing himself to be lulled by the calm demeanor and soothing voice. Her amount of eye contact worried him, it was a sort of sincere that was hard to deal with. If that wasn’t bad enough, it felt like she was trying to look right through him just the way his sister used to do.

“What a curious question coming from a curious person. Depending on my answers, would that change your mind one way or another? Do you share the previous interviewer’s sentiments?” His gaze kept getting more intense as his curiousity flared.

“Tell me about yourself, what qualities do you look for? What do you think protection means?” He asked, part of him trying to avoid the question about who he is. He wasn’t quite sure of it himself right now. He never felt like he had a strong sense of self, only curiousity and whipped-in discipline.

“Ohoho, I see what you’re trying to do, Mr. Ritter. You know, they do say it’s good to ask the interviewer questions!” Rita was genuinely impressed. It had been awhile since she had an interview like this. Not since…Hiro? Many, many years ago.

“Unlike Bianca, I’ll actually answer your questions.” She smiled, and maintained eye contact. “My name is Rita Emerson. Before I passed away, I was the CEO of a multi-million dollar makeup company. We were ranked number one in corporate social responsibility!” She chuckled. That was something she was always proud of.

“As for protection, we try to keep the order in The Universe. There are ‘PVP’-style areas, for those who were gamers in their lifetime.” She looked through his profile. “Hmm, it seems like you wouldn’t really know what a game is. Basically, we have areas designated for those who want adventure and nonthreatening battles. We prefer to keep the fighting out of that area.”

She looked back up at him. “On a similar note, we need people to greet new citizens properly. One Admin might not be right for every candidate. So we try to hire a diverse crew to cater to all of the citizens’ needs, so that they can be awakened properly. Someone like you, for example… would be well-suited to greeting those who need a bit of coddling.” She chuckled again. “Since you have experience with young animals, and such.”

Confused. That was the best word to describe him right now. She had taken his insubordination and turned it into a positive thing. Where is the indignation and ‘righteous’ fury? He didn’t mind this at all, but had never seen anyone quite so spellbinding before.

Hearing her speak about being a Seeo, was that some sort of Seer? A magician? He’d unfortunately slipped back into his old mindset, but shook it off when he heard how much money she had been making. He didn’t quite know the value of the dollar coin to the gold coin, but hearing her speak with confidence like that in the amount made him think she couldn’t have chosen a better job for herself than management. She could possibly even be a head knight. He’d want to test her prowess in battle, but shook it off again.

He was oddly excited about talking to this person, she was like a breath of fresh air. He mentally skipped over her explanation of PVP and battles, he could volunteer for the area but Zephyr had made him never want to step foot there.

“You’re not worried I’d be too crude?” He stroked along his jaw, giving it some serious contemplation. Being a greeter would likely lead to seeing his sister faster, if at all. This way he would have a bigger chance of finding her among the crowd if he could see the newcomers. “I’d like to become a greeter.”

“Crude? Absolutely not. I think you’re wonderful.” She placed her hands on her thighs and looked even further into his mismatched eyes. Beautiful. They appear to be natural, as well. “As I mentioned earlier, the Administry requires a diverse crew. As it is now, we don’t have anyone like you, personality-wise.”

Remembering what she saw earlier listed on his profile, she added, “You were a knight. And not only did you protect people, animals… but you held your sister more dearly than anyone. That’s beautiful.” Her eyes glistened with tears. “Excuse me, I’m just so moved by your story, and I’ve only seen it on paper!” She wiped her eyes gently.

“Whenever you’re ready, I’d love to hear more about you, Mr. Ritter. Directly from you, if I may, and not your profile.”

He felt humbled when she spoke highly of him, up until one point. Gripping the chair’s armrest just out of view to the interviewer until his knuckles turned white, he remembered one of the anger management lessons. Become sweetness itself. He smiled up at her, seeing more and more red the more she spoke.

Seeing her cry disgusted him, he wasn’t sure at this point whether she was a great actress or an even greater sadist. She’d like to hear more about me? What else is there to know? What do you want?

“It appears you know quite a bit already” he enunciated, thinking he understood why this one was sent in now. Lulling you into a false sense of calm and then grip you by the unshielded heart. “And I do believe I have other appointments to attend to today, so I would like to thank you for giving me the time of day. It’s been a great honour to be considered.”

With that, he stood up and deliberately walked to the door. He didn’t look back, not even once. He shut the door carefully and started walking out of the building. His bad tendency to cry when angry got to him at the exit, but he refused to let it distort his face. Refused to let it be visible beyond a little extra shine on his face. He’d find other ways to find his treasured Guinevere, he’d just hoped in vain that it wouldn’t have to be this manually.

“W-Wait!” Rita shouted, but it was too late. Rita felt a twinge of sadness inside. I shouldn’t have pressured him so much. Poor man.

She pulled up her chat with Rei.


Rita: He’s a bit of a tough cookie, but I do believe he’s the man for the job.

Rei: I’ll always trust your judgement, Boss. It was quite amusing how he managed to bother Bianca. No one’s ever gotten her so worked up!

Rita: Oh, Rei! You know you don’t have to call me Boss… You’re the Goddess, after all.

Rei: Teehee~ I call you Boss because you’re so good at your job, after all!


Bianca sat on the rooftop of the Administry, reading Rita and Gettis’s chatlog. Even Rita couldn’t quite handle him. At least I got a real reaction out of him!

When Rita had mentioned his sister, and asked him to tell her more about himself, the chat suddenly ended. The front door slammed, and Bianca lost her balance. She used her wings to ease her landing. Gettis, the man she just got so angry at, was standing right at the door.

She quickly stood up and brushed the dirt off the skirt of her dress. “S-So!” she began, not even acknowledging her fall. “How was your interview with Rita? Did she tear you to shreds?” she smirked, pretending to not know exactly what just happened.

“You missed a spot” he said, indicating there would be some dust on her hindquarters. “And you dropped something right there” he pointed towards the ground.

“I’ll be honest and say what it was right away. It was your dignity, Ms. Wheezy Breather.” He settled on a blank face, only betrayed by a slight tilt. He reckoned she knew what her associate had been doing, and why he’d reacted the way he had.

He felt a twinge of guilt and helped straighten out Bianca’s jacket, straightening her maid uniform and dusting off her shoulders. He looked into her eyes and smiled, she was less infuriating at a distance. “She seemed like a very attentive young lady. You have a lot to learn from her.”

“Someone as lowly as you couldn’t make me lose my dignity. I’ll have you know I was simply fulfilling my Admin duties! I had to watch, o-or if you did something, Rita could have been in trouble!” A lie. She had watched out of curiosity.

He had reached out and touched her, dusting off her jacket. As he looked into her uncovered eye she quickly looked away, her face turning a light shade of pink. “H-How many times have you been told we need a diverse cast? And d-don’t think I only have this job because I’m Rei’s sister!” She folded her arms. “But… Th-Thanks for helping me dust off my uniform. I appreciate it. But don’t think that means I accept you as an Admin just yet!”

Sighing at her reaction to even the slightest touch, he stepped away. “I understand, I understand. Lucky for you, I am very unlikely to be hired after this.”

Turning, he started walking towards his home. She was an interesting person, that’s for sure. And infuriating. On the other hand, there were quite a lot of those around here so he was probably lucky that he wouldn’t get the job.

“Try not to listen in on too many conversations, sooner or later you might hear something you really don’t want to hear.”

Standing in Line at the Administry

Standing in line to apply for an Admin position, Gettis folded his hands together and sighed. It felt like he’d been waiting there forever, one reason being the little yellow-haired lightning standing in front of him.

Deep breaths, steady. You’ve handled more annoying situations before. You’ve handled— he let out a huge sigh, due to his ‘neighbour’ not stopping talking for a single moment.

“What are you in line for?”

Matsuhiro gasped. “Hiiiiiiiii Gettis! I’m Matsuhiro.” He figured he’d surprise the big guy by stating his name before he was introduced. As an admin, he already had a list of everyone in this sector. He had seen him, tall, dark (literally), and of course handsome, with his big fluffy ears, and immediately looked him up.

“I’m actually an admin, so I’m waiting to go in for some duties. Actually, I could just use the employee door, but I like waiting in line because I sometimes get to meet new cool people like you!”

He looked up at him. “You’re a shoe-in.” Matsuhiro already had a record of his activities on hand. Aside from his attractive appearance, Gettis was a fine applicant. He planned to recommend him to the Administry, but even without it, he knew Gettis had a high chance of making it on his own.

Little ligh– Matsuhiro was well-informed about Gettis. Letting not even a twitch of annoyance reach his face, he held his hand out in greeting. He was used to royalty knowing things he didn’t want them to know, he could grow used to this too. He mentally noted down that he should look up information on Matsuhiro if he got hired.

Ignoring the sidelong glances Matsuhiro kept sending him, he gently pushed Matsuhiro’s back. He indicated the line was moving.

“I’m a shoe-in, you say? You have your sources, I see.” Eyebrows knitting together slightly, he looked down at him.

Hiro tightly gripped Gettis’ hand. Though small, Hiro was surprisingly strong.

Gettis lightly pushed him forward, as there was a gap in the line. “My bad, I was busy admiring your heterochromia.” Gettis had two different colored eyes. Some were born with it, others obtained it later in life from an injury.

As Gettis towered above him, nearly two feet taller, Hiro didn’t feel intimidated, but charmed. “Yes, I can almost guarantee you’ll get the position.” He smiled widely.

Stretching gently on his toes, Gettis let loose all the pent-up anxiety he’d been experiencing up until now. He’d always been a perfectionist, so knowing that he’d have better chances now that he had contact with an Admin felt like a relief. He’d been prepared to put down several oaths in this life, too. A sliver of disappointment rippled through him like a stone skipping on a water surface.

Not removing his hand from the man’s back, he continued walking. Not aware of his protective habit coming back. He realised he was inquiring about his eyes. He slightly cringed, remembering the butt edge of a sword on the left side of his face. Resisting the urge to touch it, he just smiled.

“I’m more interested in hearing about why you think I’d be hired.” After all, who wouldn’t be curious when reassured like that? And this could very well change his status here.

Hiro knew better than to admit he was planning to put in a recommendation for him. So, he decided to just tell him the main reason he most certainly would be hired.

“Rei likes a diverse cast of Admins. Just from looking at us, you would think we’re completely different, right? That’s basically right, but there’s one thing we have in common. Our Admin potential. Now, I know this is gonna sound narcissistic but you and I are one of a kind. They say that everyone’s different, and that’s true to an extent… but a lotta people are surprisingly the same.”

He looked Gettis over once more, his back still pressed against his hand. He smirked. “You, Mr. Knight… You’re unlike anyone I’ve ever met. And I’ve met thousands of people, as an Admin. Rei is going to simply adore you.”

“A diverse cast, hm? I’ve never heard that one” used positively before, Gettis finished in his mind. Remembering one of the knights calling him and some of the other “peasants” a diverse cast of nobodies. He’d never been poor in that sense, but if you didn’t wipe your bottom with Polynesian silk made from the torn robes of manual farm labourers you weren’t rich enough for some of the born knights. He rolled his eyes in amusement at his own internal monologue.

Being slightly worried about the supposed adoration of what up until now had only seemed like a self-indulgent king, he paused. Almost as if contemplating whether he really wanted the role, but it was over in the fraction of a second. He’d put in thoughts on why and how this could lead him to possibly seeing his sister again. Not to mention hearing him mention his knighthood had put him slightly on edge.

“I appreciate your kind words. Although you might want to keep them down, considering just where we are” he said, slightly gesturing to the people around him, some of which had been turning their ears up at the praise from an already employed Admin.

A few people had flocked to Hiro.

“What about me?” “Can you give me an evaluation too?” He gave them a quick glance. No, these people will never make it.

However, he couldn’t just tell them that. So, he lied. “Everyone has a fair chance of making it into the Administry. Good luck, everyone!” He looked back at Gettis. “Sorry, that’s all I’m allowed to tell you. I don’t want to get in trouble, after all~” He looked him up and down once more. Black skin, furry ears, tall stature… “Though I wouldn’t necessarily mind getting in trouble for someone like you.”

The purple skinned imp appeared next to them. “Z-Zephyr was sent to escort you to the Administry at once! Master says you can’t keep waiting in line to shirk your d-duties! Zephyr knows you like to chat with all the citizens but Zephyr is under Master’s direct orders! Zephyr is s-s-sorry!”

Zephyr was one of the few people that Hiro towered over. Though, she was flying, so he was looking at her eye-to-eye. “No need to apologize, Zephyr. We all have to follow Rei’s orders.” He smiled. “Well then, why don’t you stay and fraternize with Sir Gettis in my place? My apologies, Gettis, but I must follow Rei’s every order.” He blew a kiss at Gettis and took his leave.

Zephyr was more than two feet smaller than Gettis. She had never seen someone so huge. “Wow! Zephyr is impressed!” She flew up to look him in the eyes. She noticed his discolored eye, and sensed pain from it. Though she was an airhead, she knew better than to comment on it. “Your ears stick out just like Zephyr’s! Even though Zephyr’s ears aren’t nice and fluffy like yours are.” She reached out to touch, but remembered that Rei told her to be gentle with those different from her. “Zephyr is s-s-sorry! Zephyr just wanted to touch!”

Unlike himself he shouted out to Matsuhiro “We will have a talk about this later” as he was leaving. And now he was stuck with a very colourful little thing. It reminded him of a mishmash of folklore from his old home. Letting out a fountain of babbles, she finally settled on looking at him on an eye level.

“That must be handy” he says, indicating her wings. He’d mostly ignored her reaction to both his ears and eyes, because he’d figured staying on the subject would be a waste of time. He wasn’t quite sure how to make out her reaction to his ears though, so he reached out to touch hers and then indicated to his own.

If she’s not careful, he’ll get new ears. Maybe normal ones, even. For now, he’d be stuck with these for whatever reason.

“These?” Zephyr flapped her wings. “Yes! Master designed Zephyr so she could get around faster. Zephyr likes them because even though she is small, she can always look people in the eye—“ she glances at Gettis’s discolored eye. “Zephyr meant eyes! S-s-sorry!”

Gettis’s fingers lightly gripped her ears. She reached back to touch his own. “So…soft! Zephyr wishes she was made with these ears instead!”

Gettis didn’t seem to mind being asked personal questions, so far, so Zephyr opted on another question about his ears. “Zephyr thought humans were the only intelligent creatures brought here. But…Zephyr knows you aren’t one of Master Wind’s creations. Did Master start bringing in otherworldly creatures?! Zephyr didn’t know about that! That makes Zephyr very excited. More people like Zephyr, but they’re real!”

Curiosity nearly shone through Gettis’s face, he’d always been one to want to know things he shouldn’t know. “So you’re a wind creature, what does that entail?”

He slightly tilted his head, taking in her appearance more closely. Horn, wings and oddly coloured skin. As if he was one to talk, but it was endearing in a way. Might it be a side-effect? He reached out to touch her arm, wondering if it was some sort of magic.

“Otherworldly creatures, maybe. I could give you a better answer either way, depending on how you answer my questions. What other worlds would there be? How many of them are linked to this one? And how did she create you?”

Continuing asking small but subtly prodding questions, he stared at her with eyes he saved for questioning the stableboys about basic equine care. A gaze that was meant to not let them get away until he’d been satisfied by their replies, but he made sure not to be too intense. Couldn’t let a source get away.

Zephyr gasped. “You know what Zephyr’s name means?! Gettis is so smart!” Her wings flapped a little harder, making his hair lift slightly. Zephyr felt accomplished. She met a new friend.

She reached to her arm where his hand was, and cupped it with her own. His hand was nearly the size of two of her own, and was quite warm to the touch. “Zephyr doesn’t know how many other worlds there are… Master won’t tell her. Master keeps all of her smarts locked in her castle. Only she and Master Wind know!”

He had asked about how Rei created her, but he was wrong. “Zephyr wasn’t created by Rei! Zephyr was created by Master Wind.” Her horn suddenly heated up. She made a mistake. “S-s-sorry! Zephyr was slightly wrong. Zephyr was indeed created by Master Wind…but she was designed by Master.” Her horn cooled to its regular temperature. “She was designed to h-harass people in Primeval Sanctuary, but she was so bad at her job! Master has her do more important things now! Like watch after the Admins! And sometimes Zephyr is even allowed to make Master breakfast!”

She frowned for just a moment, and lowered in the air. She looked up at Gettis. “Zephyr is very thankful to Master. She doesn’t like the Sanctuary… She doesn’t like being mean. She likes having friends.” Zephyr let Gettis’s hand fall.

Her name means wind, does it? Gettis noted it down mentally, feeling like he was half a step closer to figuring out what was the deal with Rei. Possibly limited to wind creatures? Not necessarily, she had seemingly only designed her. Master Wind on the other hand, what are his limitations? Who is he?

The flustered reaction from Zephyr gave away more than Zephyr herself did, do not ask anyone official about Master Wind. Gettis wondered whether there would be a secret library of some sort around, but he avoided continuing down that train of thought in the presence of the creation.

“You’re doing a good job, Zephyr” he praised her, figuring he may as well try to calm her down a little. “It’s been lonely, hasn’t it? Being the only created person.” He nodded solemnly to himself.

Sanctuary. It had an effect on Zephyr to the point where he knew he’d avoid that place. He was slightly grateful to Matsuhiro for introducing him to this creature.

He could obtain a permanent source this way, so he looked into her eyes and smiled. “I’m glad I acquired a friend like you.”

Zephyr dove into Gettis and wrapped her arms around him. “Yes! Zephyr is very lonely! Gettis understands! Thank you for being Zephyr’s friend!”

Her eyes glimmered with light tears. “Z-Zephyr doesn’t tell many people this, but Zephyr is sad. Zephyr used to be a smart and powerful person, but Papa—” Her horn heated up. “M-Master Wind…” And cooled back down again. “Master Wind protected Zephyr from the dangerous Sanctuary by making her less capable. That’s why Zephyr is… That’s why Zephyr is…” She buried her face in his chest. “That’s why Zephyr is like this.”

They were still standing in line. Zephyr could sense the people around them staring at this tiny, purple skinned imp near crying while pressed against the giant, odd-looking man.

She wiped her eyes and pulled back. “Z-Zephyr has to be careful with what she says. B-But…” She took out a piece of paper and scrawled on it.

Zephyr is a little scared of Rei. Her horn did not heat up.

Starting to get worried about the sensitivity of the subject and the crowd surrounding them, he gently stroked Zephyr’s cheek. Understanding the imp had a seemingly low maturity level, he carefully looked around before attempting to change the subject.

“I’ve been here for a decent amount of time, but I’ve yet to get a visitor. Would you mind coming over some time soon? I’ve been told I’d be a terrible host, but I’ll make an exception in this case.” Tilting his head, he smiled a little. He’s been smiling more around this little girl than he did his entire previous life.

Sensitive to the movements of the line, his face resumed the regular stoneface again. He wasn’t entirely sure why, but he felt eyes plastered on him. All around him.

Matsuhiro read the chatlog between Zephyr and Gettis as he was sitting at his desk in the Administry. Mmm, she almost said too much. I better get in contact with Wind.

He got out his secret rebel PDA and began writing a message to Wind. It was the only way to avoid Rei discovering their conversations, as all spoken word was recorded and digested by her employees. “Z is getting very friendly with our next Admin. Pretty sure he’s on our side.”

Wind replied almost immediately. “I see. Send me his info.”

Hiro had just been looking at Gettis’s profile, so he quickly forwarded it to Wind. “He’s pretty hot, yeah?”

Wind ignored his comment. “This is very interesting. Another case of Rei altering appearances for her own whims. We need to meet with him in private once he arrives in the Kingdom for his Admin crowning. You put in a good word for him, right?”

“Of course. There’s no way he won’t be hired. Though I think Rei was already leaning towards him.”

“A knight… He will surely become very vital for our team.”


Gettis was next in line. He had invited Zephyr over, which made her very happy. She assured him she’d visit in her very little free time. “Thank you, Mr. Gettis, for everything you have said to Zephyr. Zephyr has only known you for an hour or so, but she is very thankful! Zephyr will contact you the next time she is free. And Zephyr will hopefully see you in the Kingdom for your Admin coronation! Zephyr believes in you!”

She smiled, then flew towards the direction of the Kingdom.

“Next… Gettis Ritter?”

Week 21,337 Reiday

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Click.

“I thought I told you I don’t need an alarm clock,” Rei firmly stated to Zephyr.

“S-S-Sorry, Master!” Zephyr hastily apologized. “My other master told Zephyr to make sure she kept setting it up, and she felt a conflict of emotion! Two orders to follow… What does Zephyr do?!”

“Listen to me first, and him second. I am the Goddess of this world, so I come first. This is your last warning, if you defy me again, you’ll go into the dungeons again to fight adventurers.”

“Zephyr is s-s-sorry, Master! It won’t happen again!” Zephyr zoomed away to perform her daily duties.

“Oh, that imp… Whatever will I do with her?” Rei sighed. It was nearly 10AM on Reiday; almost time for her weekly sermon. Ever since she was late one time, years ago, Zephyr had been setting up an alarm for her in the morning at the advisory of her partner, Wind.

“That old bat and his distrust. I’ve put on these sermons for hundreds of years by now. I can do this. I’m Rei, after all.”


“Good morning, everyone!” Rei’s face was plastered on the screen of every inner sanctuary of the Rei buildings. Since there was one in every major sector, she couldn’t exactly make her physical appearance for sermons. “Welcome to week 21,337 of The Universe!”

The crowds cheered. Nearly everyone loved The Universe’s creator.

“I’m proud to announce that I’m seeking new admins for The Universe. You can apply at your local Department of Administry.” Several people in the crowd were booming with excitement. “I’d also like to announce that we’re planning to welcome around 300 new souls once we hire these admins. Our progress is going just fantastically.”

“Zephyr is so proud of you, Master!” Zephyr watched from the Primeval Sanctuary sector; this is where she was stationed most of the time. Her wings fluttered with excitement, rising her off her chair.

“Hey, get down! I can’t see Goddess Rei!”

“Zephyr is s-s-sorry!” She planted herself back down into the seat.

“That’s all of my announcements for the week. I can’t wait to start reviewing your wonderful applications. Everyone, enjoy your week in The Universe! I’ll see you next Reiday!”

Rei blew a kiss and waved goodbye. The screen went black.