Sharp Ruby

“I promise I won’t say anything!” Ken begged. The mid-40s archeologist sat in a brilliant, solid gold office. The walls, floors, and furniture all shined and sparkled. He noted the cushion on his solid gold chair seemed to be made with golden threads when he was escorted in by armed guards. After his promise to stay quiet, he took another sip of the golden liquid his host offered. He didn’t know what it was, but it was cool and delicious. Well needed after his trek to El Dorado.

“I’m sure you can see things from my position,” Ruby said. “It’s nothing personal; but, I can’t afford to take you at your word.” In her human form, Ruby resembled a young woman in her early 20s. But, her skin consisted of translucent, red crystalline scales. She wore a crisp white shirt with a red silk vest and matching bow tie. She eyed Ken through a pair of gold-rimmed glasses. “However, we do offer several different options for how you’d like to proceed.”

Ken glanced back over his shoulder. The pair of guards that found him were still in the room at attention. They wore white security uniforms and were human as far as Ken could tell. He was glad they told him he’d be meeting a dragon before he got there. He turned back to Ruby and chuckled nervously.

“Uh… do any of them involve me living through this?” he asked. Ruby smiled and shook her head.

“All of them do,” she said. “We’re not monsters; we just like our privacy.”

“We?” Ken asked. “Are there more dragons here?”

“Well, you’re already in on it. There’s no harm in explaining it further; you’re keeping the secret anyway,” Ruby smiled. “I know what it’s like to have unanswered questions.” Ruby lifted her hand and gave the guards a dismissive gesture. Ken turned and watched them exit the room and close the golden door behind them.

“My name is Ruby,” she said. “And, ‘We’ is a company named Sharp Development. I run one of their dragon spas.” She gestured at the golden room around them.

“A SPA!?” Ken blurted out. Ruby nodded.

“Dragons like to relax too, you know. Both Sharp Development, and our dragon clients value privacy. Unfortunately, I need to remove you from this Earth to guarantee continued secrecy.”

“You said I wasn’t going to die!” Ken whined. Ruby nodded.

“Sharp Development has branches on thousands of alternate Earths. It’s as simple as moving you to one of those. We will provide all your necessities while you find your footing on your new Earth. If you like, you’re even welcome to come work for the company.” Ruby pulled out a red crystal clipboard pre-loaded with forms and placed it before Ken with a pen. “It’s not anything you have to decide right this minute, but I do need you to sign this non-disclosure agreement before we continue finding a spot for you.”

“NDA?” Ken asked. He found the situation amusing and chuckled to himself as he signed it. Ruby nodded.

“Even if you choose to join Sharp Development, what we do here is to be kept secret from other Sharp Employees,” she explained the papers he didn’t read. “If word got out that we are a dragon haven, we’ll have hunters coming in from every universe.”  Ken tilted his head.

“Wait. I’m willing to believe there are alternate Earths… but, don’t they all have their own El Dorado?”

“It’d be considerably easier to find if there were one per Earth,” Ruby said. “The myth of El Dorado developed because the city moves around, we don’t spend too long on any one Earth.”

“You move the whole city…. to another Earth?” Ken asked. Ruby shook her head.

“I don’t, Ms. Sharp’s assistant does the move for us.”

“Oh,” Ken said. It was all he could say. He could point out that he was amazed the city was moved at all; and, didn’t mean to imply that she herself made the move. But, he was in awe that it sounded like the city was moved by a single person. It made him think the company was definitely something he wanted to be part of.

“So, let’s talk about placement. Where do you see yourself,” Ruby asked. “Tell me about the Earth you want to live on.” Ken shook his head.

“I want to join Sharp Development. What kind of jobs can I find?” he asked.

“Every industry you can think of and several you can’t imagine; it’s a wild multiverse out there,” Ruby smiled. “Too many to go through here. But, Ms. Sharp has a special recruitment server. It’s like a perpetual job fair so I’ll send you to take a look around.”

“Thank you, Ruby!” Ken said excitedly. Ruby smiled.

“Don’t thank me,” she said. “Just keep your mouth shut.”

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