Chapter 3 An offer, base plus commission

“Ben, let's go to my office, and we can talk for a bit about this,” said Jacob, waving his arm for Ben to follow him. They walked down the hallway to the very end and entered into a plain room with several couches surrounding a coffee table with an eight-inch square black cube sitting on it. “Office Celeste if I may impose,” said Jacob, and instantly the walls were covered with filled tall wooden bookcases, each with a brass sliding ladder. A fireplace was blazing in the corner, and a large picture window looked out onto an alpine meadow. “It's a hologram Ben, and thank you, Celeste,” Jacob casually said. A women's warm voice responded, “You're very welcome Jacob.” Ben swiveled his head around looking for Celeste, but the only person in the room with him was Jacob. “Who is Celeste?” asked Ben. Jacob nodded toward the cube, and said, “This is Celeste, and she is the metaphorical encyclopedia you would be selling if you accept the job.” 

Ben scratched his head for a second, and said, “I'm not sure I understand. Am I supposed to sell a talking box?” Jacob responded with, “Celeste, would please introduce yourself to Ben.” “I would be pleased to Jacob. Hi Ben, I'm Celeste and it's a pleasure to meet you, although we already have. I gave you your test playing the part of the computer. I am very alive and never forget this. At my fingertips, I have the majority of information known to mankind and I have been uploading everything available about Bliss while I have been here this week. Would you like to know your credit score, Ben?” Startled by the question, Ben stammered, “Ah no thanks Celeste, I already have an idea what it is.” “Why Ben,” she said, “It's perfect. You currently have a balance of 76,000 credits in your account. I shifted a little money away from Galactic Charge-all's accounts and moved it into yours. Their ugly credit collection bots acquired a nasty virus at the same time. I'm very talented at this sort of thing you know. We wouldn't want your fiscal distress to push you into taking a job you didn't like. You have to really want this job.”

“Ben,” said Jacob, “Our organization is just known as the Library. For over two hundred years we have been collecting information, sorting it, and then selling it as a source of income. We have also been fortunate to have been endowed substantial sums through the years by very generous patrons. We saw the great collapse coming and had quietly moved off earth years before the Great Earth Singularity Explosion which proved to have been a good decision, as expensive as it seemed at the time. Even our skills could not have foreseen that calamitous event.”

“We still do what we have always done, and during our visit to Bliss we have been mining data, and have quietly concluded some information, and technology sales. Places like Bliss still have some infrastructure and technology, and most of the data mining could actually be done from orbit by tapping into wireless communication systems. But on all too many planets, the level of technology is now too low to allow effective data collection from afar, and we need to visit in person to collect information. So, in short, the job is to visit these places, assess conditions, collect what information is available, and where opportunity presents, sell, or trade our information in a way that will help uplift the inhabitants. This is not an easy job. It comes with some personal risk, and it does require some special skills to do this. We think you have these skills.” averred Jacob.

“But, I mean, how do I do this? You can't even get to some of these places,” said Ben. “Sure you can Ben, we are going to provide you with an impressive toolkit. You will have a ship and Celeste's help. The first step is to go with us to our facility on Alexandria where you will get implants to help you communicate better with Celeste, some training, and off you will go. As for pay, you will get $100,000 credits per year, 3% of any profitable sales and room and board are provided. By the way Ben, we are leaving in three hours. If you're going to accept the job, be back here by then. If you choose not to accept the job, the money Celeste has given to you is yours to keep. We will await your decision.” A stunned Ben slowly stood, shook Jacob's hand and said, “Thank you both,” and a bit stunned walked out of the office.

“What do you think Celeste?” said Jacob. “I really like Ben. I think he's the one. I've been alone for a very long time. He's smart, intuitive, and didn't freak out anytime during the process including accepting me. I think he will be back here in about two hours, and you only lied a little about the job this time. You're getting much better Jacob.” said Celeste.