Arc 1 Chapter 14: Topple, The Test (2)
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Sword's Journal on "Topple"

While I was traversing the hallways with Mr. Hansen, he informed me that the government's structure is somewhat similar to my previous life's "corporatocracy" system.

It's official governmental structure is called the "Topple" system.

Though no society or country has been officially donned with a corporatocracy (most are mixed capitalist systems or dictatorships), this system of government is also a little divorced from those ideas.

There are no mayors. The people elected to handle the foreign affairs of this city and subsequently this country are companies with corporate interests. There are pros as well as cons to having a system like this grab hold of your power structures.

The first pro is obviously that in general any corporation who vies for power is capable of doing so under an unwritten oath not to be opaque about their practices. While also eliminating the need of subsidies, the main draw keeps the governing structure much cleaner as well as making it much less hostile closer to the top. In theory this system would be a disaster to run, but if your city was founded on these principles then people have a lot less problems with it.

It might also help quell dissent to know that there are common, real non-fictional enemies prowling outside of cities, but I digress.

The other significant pro to having a corporation running the government is that one corporation cannot rule forever. Though there are no specific term limits, profits and losses in the companies at the top are determined by their business practices as well as the services they provide. This opens up the ability to create a completely separate and impartial "politics department" in the company which is mostly unbiased and has councils of their own.

The top company is always the one who is referred to when meetings and choices come to the top. In normal affairs, the CEO plays a very little part in those decisions, and political departments come and go (Bold because the meeting was a very "outside the norm" circumstance.)

The only significant con in a system like this when it is tied to the founding of a city is that families are held to scrutiny to an unbelievable degree, often dragging in a vacuum of power where companies purposely do worse to escape the political shenanigans. CEOs regardless of their stake in the decisions are put under a microscope for their entire term as well as significantly long after. Avoiding harassment and looking out for your family is only natural. A system like this taking over large populations would be simply impossible in my previous world.

In a sense, running a company is also a partial acknowledgement of the power and responsibility you hold in people's eyes. Wasting it is akin to lowering your countries' standing. Would you run a corrupt government under these circumstances?

Why does this system seem strangely familiar?

In the testing colosseum, Sword's perspective

Weak. Weak. Weak.

This is all I can think of. Why are those around me so weak?!

While I approach the testing ground, numerous anomalies surface to my mind. Why do I think such odd thoughts when I myself am a greenhorn (and literally green hair)? I then discover that the overwhelming majority of the applicants taking the test are nothing but teenagers who have just reached the legal age for becoming an adventurer. Sheesh, this feels like I am an old man waltzing into a college for the first time armed with all the world's knowledge. Of course, I do not have such a luxury, but that was just an example.

Talking to John served as quite a good distraction, but now that I take a good look around, I feel as though if anybody else here were to be declared as a candidate for the specialized test, it would act as more of a death sentence than a “test.”

Now that I think about it… what would such a test's purpose be? Would it not serve as more of a deterrent for talented members of society?

It seems the tester employee has arrived… tester employees?

Multiple people baring the emblem of the Adventurer's Industry on their jackets arrive. It appears to be a uniform for the testers to wear during the test to avoid any confusion as to the status of the surrounding people. Perhaps they need it?

The tester who looks like a middle-aged man with half-gray half-brown hair approaches the podium microphone.

“Welcome everyone to the Adventurer's Industry annual registration test! A lot more applicants have arrived this year than in normal years; however, do not be alarmed! While the number of applicants this year has certainly spiked, that does not mean that the number of specialized nominees have also increased. This time around, the number of specialized nominees is but 4, much less than the usual 20 or so."

The geezer tester raises his hand slightly and gestures more emphasis on this next part.

"Those of you 430 applicants who wish to use the Industry as a stable source of income without wanting to have to worry about being nominated by the bureau are being given special exception for this test alone.”


“So it is true!”

“As expected…”

Multiple reactions to the announcement can be heard from the crowd.

Seems the reason for the unusually high number of applicants can be directly attributed to the promised reduced rate of nominated applicants. I will certainly pay more attention to the board of announcements next time.

Moreover, when the special test takers are pointed out, they certainly are making some gloomy faces.

Why do I have an ominous feeling about my test?

Then, as if my mind was read…

“As many of you know, people who are nominated this time around are exceptions among exceptions! The specialized test’s difficulty is based solely on the specifications of the bureau's very own Topple investigative department and as such this time it's been decided to be an S-ranked test.”

Ah, I see. If this modern world follows the conventions of regular manga, an S-ranked test would be equivalent to an unclimbable mountain for an athlete who trained his or her whole life and is nearly world-class level, participating in many top level national championship events.

Now I can clearly see the reason for their dismay. What kind of ridiculous expectations do they have for people registering for the first time in a world-wide organization?!!

“As well as the sudden upgrade of the specialized test's difficulty, those nominated for the special test this time around are given the opportunity to abandon the test.”

Then why are they gloomy?

“However, since this is a special case, abandoning this special test forfeits your right to test at any Adventurer's Industry facility for the next decade!!”

WHAT?! No freaking way. It disqualifies you from any test for a whole 10 years?! That seems extremely excessive. I also overheard the crowd saying that abandoning a test is equal to ruining your personal reputation and potential future employment opportunities. This seems more like blackmail than a test.

“Therefore, to that point, the crowd will be divided into groups and your personal tester will explain your groups’ tests. They will all be different this time around as the number is much higher than normal.”

So concludes the horror show.

“Welcome to the special test. For the duration of the special test, I will be observing and grading. I will not be assisting with the special test in any way aside from answering questions before the test. Even if you die, I will not interfere with the test to save you.”

The girl with blonde hair and red eyes speaks up. She appears to be contemplating the negative repercussions of abandoning the test.

“So, in general it is simply survival of the fittest?”

Why does he not introduce himself? I guess I will have to call him the "tester" for now.

Our tester quickly answers.

“You are right and wrong at the same time. The test is going to be moderated by the bureau who oversees it, but neither of us are going to meddle. The objective this time is to simply survive the S-class Beast Canyon. For privacy protection, I am obligated to say that all of your performances are going to be recorded through the [Magical Optics Visualizer] and it records everything in a dependent radius set up by the recorder."

Our tester then goes on a tangent about legalese.

"All minute skills that are recorded also play a role in determining your future employment opportunities and will be given to authorities upon request as well as the panoramic recording. This is your only opportunity to turn back until you are forced to use your potentially secret abilities, regardless of whether or not you are alive by the end of the test. If you acknowledge that, please sign the attached document that I have with me. It also acts as a waiver for any liability this organization has as a result of your demise.”

He sure does not sugar coat things…

Once he finishes his legalese, our tester visits each participant to gather signatures.

“Before we head off, would you like to eat some food?” Asked the tester.

Huh, I am not hungry? Since I got jammed into this world, I did not get hungry even once. That settles it then, I do not think I am human.

I whisper in my mind, “Redescription: Some sort of... Eating compensation!”

Once I whisper it away from other people's attention, my hair briefly glows, disappears then I am greeted with a new passive skill. I appraise it immediately!

Bargain Bin Digestion Replacement [Passive|1MP]

This ability replaces (or makes) your ability to eat.

While this ability passively replaces your ability to eat, it also consumes 1 MP every time it is used.

Huh, my ability to appraise is pretty terrible if this is all it says. I suppose this means no further explanation on exactly how that happens is needed?

Once I go to the cafeteria with my party members, we enjoy a meal together. Why do I not initiate a conversation you ask? Well, it is simple. There has been an awkward silence since this meeting began due to the tester not introducing himself. One of us occasionally gives him a cold glare to make his name known but he seems utterly unwilling to do so. Why?

Once we finish our meal (of no particular note, I might add,) we head out to the travel zone to get to our designated testing area.

Later on, inside of the Testing Vehicle, Sword's Perspective

Once our tester described the target location, I could only think one thing:

Why do I feel I am familiar with the target location?

I feel oddly reminiscent when I learn of it.