At the back of the room was a glass-walled compartment with a door next to it that seemed to lead to the back of the room.
I fished around for clues on the desks and shelves that were close at hand. However, I could not find anything that looked like a document, including a memo. I searched through the equipment but found nothing that would lead me to anything in particular, except for a few laboratory glassware and stirrers. And they were neatly organized, and there was no dust to be seen at all, as if it was a recently cleaned room.
(Why did you fly here? Judging from the floor and doors, it seems that biohazard countermeasures have been taken in this room. Why did you let me come from the outside into a room that seemed to have such a high safety level?) (Zack)
I approached the glass-walled compartment with questions in my mind.
The compartment was slightly darker than the laboratory and was enveloped in a bluish-white light. The inside was slightly colder than the lab, and there was a slight frost on the metal walls.
In the center of the compartment was a metal semi-cylindrical container about two meters long and seventy centimeters wide. The top half of the container was made of glass, allowing me to see inside.
I peeked into the container as if I were sticking to the glass. Then I held my breath.
What was inside the container was a beautiful, nude woman.
She looked to be in her mid-twenties, with dark hair, a straight nose, and a deeply chiseled face, almost like someone from South Asia or West Asia. Her eastern beauty made me hold my breath.
(According to Ms. Kitley’s story, these ruins should be ancient. If so, was this woman ancient? If so, it’s a great find. …But then, why did they bring me here? It shouldn’t be strange if there is some movement soon…) (Zack)
While I was thinking about this, a man’s voice suddenly rang out.
(How do you like it, isn’t it beautiful?) (Voice)
I gripped my sword tighter at the sound of his voice.
The voice sounded a little low-pitched and calm, but it actually sounded like it was coming directly from my brain, not from my ears.
(That’s how my wife looks like.) (Voice)
“A figure?” I muttered, forgetting what I was doing.
(Yes, that “thing” has the image of my wife. It is an artificial life form, a homunculus.) (Voice)
I was speechless when I was told that the perfect human body was artificial, and for a moment I forgot about this extraordinary situation.
(A homunculus… not a clone…?) (Zack)
While I was silent, a somewhat reluctant voice echoes in my head.
(You don’t seem to be too surprised… Is it already in practical use in this ‘world’?) (Voice)
“…No, I was just so surprised I was speechless. …I am Zacharias Lockhart. I am an adventurer who has been asked to assist in the investigation of this site, excuse me, this facility. It’s about time you told me why you invited me here.” (Zack)
His reply was “Hahaha!” a loud, amused laugh.
(No, excuse me. I’m just a little amused by how calm you are.) (Voice)
Then the voice regained its composure and continued talking.
(First of all, I would like to introduce myself, but I have already given up my name and body. You can call me whatever you like.) (Voice)
When I remained silent, the voice continued to speak on its own.
(The reason I invited you is that my laboratory lab is about to run out of life. When the lab’s lifespan ends, my consciousness will also disappear. I wanted to have a little chat with you before that. Well, that’s the reason.) (Voice)
(When the lab runs out of life, he’s going to lose consciousness? Is it a spirit life form or something? Or is it like that, only the consciousness is sealed in some kind of tool?) (Zack)
At that point I realized he wasn’t in a hurry. There was no way to escape, and I had no idea what they were thinking. Normally, I should be feeling impatient or desperately thinking about getting out of here, but for some reason, I don’t feel that way.
(For some reason, it may be that he has some kind of technique that works on the mind, but at the moment, I don’t feel any danger at all. …No, I’m sure Liddy and the others are worried outside. I have to get out of here…) (Zack)
“That’s not why you invited me in alone. Besides, my companions are worried. If you have business to attend to, I’d like to get it over with and get back outside.” (Zack)
I told him bluntly.
(As for the reason, don’t worry about your companions. Look at the wall to your left.) (Voice)
I turned my head to the left and saw a clear image of the outside scenery, probably projected on a projector or something. The image shows Liddy with his right hand outstretched, shouting something, and it is stopped as if it were a still image with the pause button pressed.
The angle of the image was from slightly above, and it appeared to be from the magic stone at the top of the cliff I had climbed and examined.
When I pointed out, “This is a still image, isn’t it?”, the owner of the voice was surprised,
(Is projection technology already in use in your world? I thought the “walkers” were less civilized than I thought…) (Zack)
I realize I’m not as calm as I thought.
(That was a careless remark. It’s true that people in this world would be surprised just by being shown a picture. Let alone use the word “still image”… Walker? Golem? I should change the subject…) (Zack)
“By ‘Walker’, do you mean the silver golem that led us here?” (Zack)
(…it’s not surprising that after more than a thousand years, civilization has developed… Right? Oh, a golem… it would appear so. The walker is a general-purpose research support device, but if you call it a “golem”, it might as well be a golem.) (Voice)
He was mumbling to himself, perhaps talking to himself. He seemed to be having trouble following my words for a moment, but when I changed the subject, I seemed to have regained my composure and my voice was back to normal.
(As I said earlier, it’s not a still image. If you don’t look closely, you won’t know, but time flows differently in this lab than outside. Time goes faster here. Roughly sixty times faster.) (Voice)
Even if you say so, it hardly seems to be moving.
(If it’s sixty times, even if it’s a minute here, it’s a second over there. It can’t be helped that it doesn’t look like it’s moving even if I look at it for ten seconds… but to say that the flow of time is different is what does he mean?) (Zack)
“I don’t understand what you mean by the flow of time is different?” (Zack)
(Hmmm, it’s hard to explain, but… this lab is separated from the outside world, it is a kind of different space. …Do you understand so far?) (Voice)
(Is it subspace? If I consider that the laws of physics are different, it is not surprising that the flow of time is different. As I recall, time flows different inside a black hole or something. …I’ve never taken a stab at the laws of relativity, so I can’t say for sure, but when it comes to this, it’s the world of science fiction…) (Zack)
I give a small nod and the voice continues talking.
(If you can understand up to this point… This lab is created in a different topological space by applying the phase shift theory. The gate you passed through…) (Voice)
The voice’s explanation gradually becomes more and more difficult to understand, but to summarize the conversation to the extent that I can understand it, the phase shift theory creates a space that is temporally out of phase with the world we were in, that is, the original three-dimensional space, and installs a modulator called “Gate” between the two spaces. To enter or leave, the gate modulates the space-time flow between the original space and the gate, and by passing through the gate, one transfers between the two spaces.
(I have no idea, but I guess it’s like a combination of frequency conversion and filter. How this can be done is beyond me, but… means that this space can be modulated in time…) (Zack)
(…which means that time outside doesn’t move that fast.) (Voice)
(If I stay here for an hour, I can’t leave unless they are willing to let me out, but I can’t leave unless they are willing to let me out…) (Zack)
I decided to keep talking to the “voice”.