Chapter 8: Earthborn
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The uncertainty in my schedule created by jury duty is forcing me to put my main series on Hiatus, but this one has a far more relaxed release-rate so I should be able to keep up with this one a lot better.

(Besides, this one needs every chance it can have to get ahead a little.)

Daren looked around the white room he’d found himself in. It’s most prominent feature was a single door made from a dark wood. This contrasted harshly with the rest of the room made up of white plaster walls and white tile floor.

Daren’s brain refused to process what was going on for a while, it was like some kind of mental whiplash. He was just standing in front of the big-G God himself literally a second ago, and now he was in a sterile white room and he was the only person in there.

Well, this room obviously had only one way in or out. It’s pretty clear what he was expected to do. With the completely featureless white walls and floor, it’s like the room was literally designed to draw attention to that dark colored door. So, he stepped forward and went through it.

Seeing what was on the other side of the door left Daren a little short for words. He saw a man dressed in a rather tight fitting suit, a little like a wet suit with some green colored designs here or there. Actually, super-hero costume might have been the right term after all. Daren had certainly asked to go to a super-hero world, so this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The suit wasn’t the problem though. The problem is that the guy seemed to be doing a one-armed hand-stand on top of a desk, and Daren opening the door seemed to have surprised him. It surprised him enough that he lost his balance.

“Wow!” The guy shouted as he came down and caught the edge of the desk with both elbows before doing a face-plant into the desk. His knees then came down and hit the ground hard. Hard enough it actually left cracks in the floor. “Aww shit!” The guy cursed quietly as he looked at the floor.

“Uhh… are you Ok?” Daren asked. That looked like a really nasty fall, but he didn’t exactly sound injured. If this was Earth he’d have assumed something had to have been broken from that, but…

The guy chuckled. “Well, I didn’t shatter my knee into a million pieces if that’s what you mean.” He commented. “The floor didn’t fare so well though. Shit. I’m probably going to get more door duty for this. Maybe even street level control-op.” He muttered and shook his head. “Uhh, anyway. You just came through that door, right?”

“Uhh… yeah.” Daren said.

“That means you came from Earth then.” He said, more a statement than a question. “I’m Mark. I know that wasn’t the best first impression, but… welcome to the Earthborn Order. Basically, we’re all also from Earth, and we’ve got the ability to set you up to live a new life here, so the old guy sends everyone here now.”

“Uhh… Ok?” He said.

“Man though!” The guy continued. “I really wasn’t expecting someone to come out during my watch on door duty.” He snickers and shakes his head. “Well, anyway, I guess I better do my job and direct you toward the welcoming committee. I’ll bring you to see Cicilia, she’ll get you all set up.” He gestures for Daren to follow him, but the guy can’t help casting a long forlorn glance at the big crack in the floor again. Daren wondered about those punishment duties the guy mentioned. Well, whatever they are, that’s what he gets for goofing off. He decided not to worry about it.

“Uhh… right.” Daren said and started to follow along behind Mark. “So, uhh… can I ask you some questions? Mark, was it?” Daren knew he was just trying to feel like he had some kind of control of the situation with this. Otherwise, he’d be doing nothing but following along behind some strange guy after having arrived at some strange place just because the guy said he should. He knew it was his mind throwing out a coping mechanism, but being aware of his own psychological state didn’t stop it from demanding this action from him.

“Uhh, sure, shoot.” Mark said.

“This… Earthborn Order.” Daren said. “What does it do exactly? I mean, other than help out new arrivals from Earth.”

“Ah, well… our founder set this up kinda like a sorta business that caters to the gods of this world. You see, they’re kinda dunces when it comes to knowing how mortals think. Legend has it, he actually set it up after fighting a centuries long war against the gods here because they destroyed his home-world and only created it as some kind of peace-forming agreement after he figured out the reason why they destroyed it. The answer is, because they were dumb. But, there were other reasons too. So, basically we help the gods avoid disastrous blunders with mortals and in exchange they let us incarnate our members into their worlds for a variety of reasons. Helping out people like you who haven’t attained your transcendence yet and can’t last long without a body is one such reason.”

Daren was stopped up short for a second at that comment. Mark chuckled when he saw Daren’s dumbfounded reaction.

“Let me guess, shocked to hear how dumb the gods here are after seeing the old man on Earth? Well, you learn a thing or two about gods once you deal with them. Basically, they progress through three main phases. A conquest phase where they gain territory, a reformation phase where they reach the limits of where conquest can take them and they have to re-assess their approach and transition into more diplomatic methods, lest they die out from the back-lash. And then, there’s the benevolence stage where they sweep all their past actions under the rug and use a good face to continue gaining power.

“As for the main god of Earth, he managed to somehow cheat the system and go through the conquest phase three times for each of three different and highly militarily successful divergent branches of worshipers. That’s the main reason he’s so freaking powerful over there. The fact he’s able to put on such a kindly face to people is just a show of the overwhelming decadence of power he’s amassed. You’ll understand it better once you manage to cultivate up your divinity for yourself and then start interacting with the gods over here.”

Is that the case? Daren really didn’t know how to respond to that. He had only ever actually met one god. And the impression that one left is still pretty fresh.

“By the way, don’t think I ever got your name.” Mark said.

“It’s Daren.” Daren replied.

“Daren, huh? That’s a great name. Well, I’ll probably see you around. Maybe sooner rather than later.” He shook his head and glanced back in the direction they’d just come from. “Anyway, this here’s Cicilia’s office. She’s our assignment director and coordinator, and she also handles intake and introductions for all new arrivals. You’ll probably wind up discussing your divinities, so that means I’m out. That’s the sorta stuff you only share if you want to.”

After saying that much, he gave the door a firm knock.

“Yes, come in.” A voice spoke from the other side. Mark opened the door and took half a step inside.

“Mam, someone just landed in the arrival room. Aaaand, I might have had a little mishap resulting in a crack in the floor when I got surprised over him coming through the door.”

A woman sitting behind a rather impressive looking desk sighed and then stood up. Unlike Mark, who seemed to be dressed up in some superhero jumpsuit, this woman was done up in proper business attire. She wore a fine women’s pants suit, and her light brown hair was done up in a tight bun. It was a perfect picture of professionalism in the familiar style of the western culture of Earth.

“I’ll deal with that later then. Send them in.” The woman said, glancing around Mark to find Daren standing behind him.

Daren took his cue and stepped into the woman’s office which reflected her professional western-style look perfectly by looking like the posh office of a powerful lawyer. Aside from the large expensive looking wooden desk visible from the door way, there were also rows of book cases lining either wall and large portraits decorating the one empty wall not covered in books. Daren wasn’t sure if the money it would take to put this together was the same as it would be on Earth, but it didn’t seem like it was something that could just be crafted from spirit energy in this world like all the things in Earth’s Heaven. Mark stressing over that crack in the floor is enough to demonstrate that.

The powerful looking woman strutted up to Daren and offered him her hand. “Well then, hello and welcome to the Earthborn Order. I am Cicilia Barns.” She said.

“Daren Aldrech.” Daren introduced himself, shaking Cicilia’s hand in turn.

“Mr. Aldrech then?” The professional woman replied. “Well then, I am not certain what our man on door duty has said already, but please allow me to welcome you to the Earthborn Order. I am certain you have a lot of questions, and hopefully you have had a few of them answered before leaving Earth. I am the Order’s intake coordinator, and it is my job to get your information and match you to an appropriate assignment as quickly as possible.

“They must have at least told you back on Earth about the consequences of remaining as an unascended spirit without a body for too long, correct? Well, we have special permission to deploy you to assignment directly from this office, bypassing the gods of the various worlds in this cluster who employ us. We’ll try to find something appropriate for you as quickly as possible in order to minimize the potential damages to your spiritual self-identity.”