Then I wake up in a gutter, reeking of stale alcohol and puke, the glare from the midday sun shining into my eyes and forcing me to squint. My tongue feels like sandpaper and my head threatens to split open from the huge migraine that has decided to pay a visit. I blearily check my watch for the date and it turns out that its just the day after my apocalyptic bender. Rubbing my eyes tiredly, I stagger out of the gutter to greet the not quite so new day, wondering what in the world had happened to me.
Was it all just a dream? That would be a real dick move of my brain to play. I pick up the envelope holding the project bid that I had, uh, borrowed from the office and check the contents. Good, nothing's missing. No one knows about my little secret. Whether my adventures were real or not is hardly the point now. I had already made a decision about what to do with my secret weapon. Screw the bitch and secure my future. I need to start making calls, setting up appointments.
I take out my phone and blink at the multitude of missed calls and messages left for me while I had been passed out in the gutter. Plenty of missed calls from the bitch with a single message, "SEE ME AT THE OFFICE IMMEDIATELY." I flip the bird at my phone, cursing it in effigy for the bitch. I also marvel at the sheer convenience of having a pair of working hands again. You never know what you're missing once its gone. Then there's the missed calls from the HR department buddies. Might as well take the opportunity to radio back to base and find out what has been going on.
"Yeah." I yawn into my phone the moment it connects.
"Where in the world are you now?" the HR Buddy squawks back, "Stevenson and the boss have been looking for you the whole day."
"Sick." I mutter while fumbling with the envelope as I try tucking it under one of my arms, "What do they want anyway?"
"Was it alcohol poisoning?" a long suffering sigh comes over the receiver. Hey, I resent that. I am only occasionally drunk. Its under control.
"No, it was something else." I grumble, "I think I might have been abducted across dimensions or something."
"Are you alright?" the HR Buddy replies, now sounding seriously worried.
Crap, I said the last sentence out loud. I haven't shaken off my stupor completely yet. As I stifle a curse, the envelope slips from my armpit back into the gutter, spilling its contents.
"Yeah. I'm fine. More or less." I say while bending to pick up the papers scattered in the drain, "I don't think I'm in any shape to come into the office though."
"The boss is on a warpath," the HR Buddy whispers, "so you'd better make the effort. She's been talking about a handover of your duties to Stevenson. The time has come, fam."
"My, how do you call it, 'graduation'?" I snort as I pick up a smaller envelope that's between the sheaves of paper, "That's the term those idol groups like to use these days, right?"
Strange, I don't remember packing this envelope with the bid documents. I finish retrieving all the loose papers and take a seat on a nearby bench to sort through the mess and check out what is up with this envelope. The thing is absolutely bulging, threatening to burst at the seams any moment. Tearing the envelope apart, I realize that it contained a thick bundle of bank documents, all made out under my name.
"We've been told to begin your assessment," HR Buddy continues, "and its not looking good. The scuttlebutt is that the boss is going to put you into cold storage in preparation for you know what."
"Shit." I mumble as my eyes take in the bundle of bank documents, totally unaware of what HR Buddy is talking about. Its an investment account opened under my name for trading in precious metals.
And its absolutely loaded. Going by the number of zeroes on the final page, I'm probably one of the world's richest men.
"Yeah, so you get the idea." HR Buddy drawls, "I can probably keep the wheels spinning for a bit longer, but you're out of favors. Sorry."
The Voice did it. It delivered on its promise. I need to verify this of course, but everything here looks genuine. I grip the project bid documents with renewed ferocity. Only thing left to do is to settle some longstanding grudges.
"Yeah. I'm sorry too." I reply agreeably before hanging up.
I didn't visit the bitch on the day her firm ignominiously collapsed of course. I'm an asshole, not a moron. And with the bid documents, I became a partner in a rival company. The Voice had been telling the truth about the blessing as well. Every year without fail, a fresh batch of precious metals is placed into my trading account for my personal use. A limitless font of money. With the bitch out of the way, I could finally move on with my career.
And The Voice's blessing allowed me to go straight to the top. You can afford to be daring in your investments and ventures when the power of infinity is behind you. Losses are merely temporary and all my gains are quickly locked in. And that's why I am where I am standing right now. In my penthouse office located within the corporate building that I own, staring down at all the little people scurrying about their day. It had taken me close to a century of work, but now my reach extends to almost every industry on earth. No government can resist my influence.
I smirk at my reflection in the glass windows of the office. One century has passed since the fateful day, and I hardly have aged. If The Voice had told the truth about granting me immortality, my empire would be both unrivaled and eternal. My ruminations are interrupted by the buzz of the intercom.
"Yeah." I answer. That's odd, the President's audience with me should be scheduled one hour from now. Did someone mess up?
"Sir." the hesitant voice of my PA replies, "There's someone here that doesn't have an appointment, but he insisted that you would meet him."
I roll my eyes at this annoyance, "Send him away. Everyone wants to meet me."
The PA is silent for a moment before answering, "He says that he was invited by 'a mutual friend'."
My blood runs cold. No way. Absolutely no way. Before I can compose my thoughts, someone barges into my office with the PA following close behind. I turn around and get the shock of my life.
Its Tensei. Tensei is standing right in front of me. Dressed in a high school uniform and bearing his generic clean cut good looks and trademark heterowhateveritis, you know, two eyes with each with a different color. Tensei looks at me expectantly but says nothing. My PA begins tugging at the sleeve of his blazer, vainly trying to get him to leave. But I can already see Tensei's hero halo begin to affect her. There's this vacant infatuated look in my PA's face and she is hardly putting any effort in expelling Tensei from my office. What am I supposed to be doing here? How did he get here in the first place?
Then, the phone starts ringing, breaking the awkward silence hanging between us.
I wave Tensei away irritably while picking up the phone. Hero man at least has the good grace to look apologetic as he retreats from my office while my useless PA links her arm through Tensei's own.
"What?" I growl through the phone, "This is not a good time."
A familiar rasp answers, "On the contrary Transmigrator, I find this timing most suitable indeed. You have done well for yourself, I see."
"You." I mumble as a sinking feeling overtakes my gut.
"Me." The Voice confirms, "Did you like the Mark Two variant of the Hero? Simulations show that he is far more reliable than the predecessor model."
"What in the world do you think you're doing?" I nearly shriek, "No, scratch that question. How are you doing it in the first place? This is not your dimension!"
"I managed to master the use of the codex." The Voice answers smugly, "A null field now links my dimension to yours, allowing me to extend my influence here."
I slump into my chair, rubbing my forehead in consternation. This can't be happening.
"As to what I am doing," The Voice laughs, "I am expanding my portfolio, so to speak. And you are going to help me."
"I have no idea what you are talking about." I manage to choke out.
"Mm." The Voice hums, "Then how about this? I am currently engaged in a hostile takeover of this dimension."
"No." I say, the feeling of doom now overwhelming.
"Yes." The Voice rumbles, "I had instructed Hero II to meet with you. A get to know each other session as it were. You will be providing assistance in his mission from this point forward."
"No!" I shout angrily, "I did my part and paid my dues. We are through!"
"Is that so?" The Voice responds, "You have prospered thanks to my blessings. The blessings of an invader of this dimension. How kindly do you think this dimension's administrator will treat you?"
"You're lying." I snarl.
"Am I?" The Voice rasps, "Log on to the internet and check today's news articles. Tell me what you find."
I immediately begin banging away at my computer and begin browsing the news feed. And right at the top is a story about a gang fight breaking out in some prestigious academy. A neighborhood tough guy and some poor scholarship case were going at each other over a girl who's apparently tough guy's childhood friend. Scholarship boy beat down tough guy's minions before the pair threw down. Plenty of students got hurt in the fracas and the fight itself went viral. I click on the video and see some kid laying the smack down on a big group before charging at the ringleader. The kid being Tensei obviously, saving the girl from being raped. Or more likely, catcalled.
"I don't get what you're hinting at." I frown.
"Check the family name of Hero II's main opponent." The Voice states.
"Fine." I grumble, "Its -no way. It cannot be. I ruined him!"
"Stevenson." The Voice crows triumphantly, "The grandson of your rival and the woman you refer to as 'the bitch'. Your world's administrator had rescued the original Mr Stevenson and his family from complete destitution, no doubt as a counterbalance against my influence. Now that I am in conflict with the local administrator, their descendant has been empowered to stand against me."
I gulp hard. Wonder Boy was supposed to be done away with all those years ago. None of this was supposed to happen. Damn it!
"The present Mr Stevenson is currently distracted by Hero II." The Voice concludes, "Where do you think his attention will turn to once Hero II has been defeated?"
"DAMN IT!" I shout at the top of my lungs.
"Now do you understand why your participation is necessary?" The Voice asks.
"Yes." I sigh, completely defeated.
"Excellent." The Voice rasps, "I will begin the briefing."
An Eternal Partnership