Chapter 940: A New Venture

In truth, most of the problems of the world could be solved in one way or another by the Digital Conversion system. The only true limiting factor on what could be done, once again, boiled down to the availability of energy. Otherwise, it was likely that all of these problems would have long since ceased to exist during the fifteen years that I spent fast forwarding.

If that’s the case, it’s likely that they are doing the most that they can within the boundaries of how much Blood Heart Scarlet’s people are able to export. If I were to remove Blood Heart as the limiting factor, development would undoubtedly skyrocket, for better or worse. After all, it wasn’t just food and raw materials that could be produced, but also the most powerful weapons capable of destroying planets.

Thinking about that, I felt that there was a need to properly explore Fragments of Acidia. As the process of refining ki became more and more advanced, I could expect more devices from this game to be brought out into the real world.

As I thought this over, Tsubaki and I continued to explore her personal palace. As with the other palaces, the walls were composed of a smooth metal, without a single visible seam. In many ways, it felt as if the entire building had been cast from a giant mold. Though, obviously that was impossible, with how many moving parts there were hidden in the walls.

Throughout our exploration, Tsubaki had found two hidden rooms, while I had personally located one. Honestly, I was surprised that I had managed to find one before her at all, given her specialized training. We were inspecting every inch of the walls and floors, with Tsubaki having found a hidden keypad and a pressure plate on her side. As for mine, it was a button hidden on the underside of an end table holding up a decorative vase.

Sadly, none of the rooms that we found seemed to have any prebuilt features, all of them just blank rooms roughly twenty meters wide. We even searched the three hidden rooms that we had found, looking to see if there were any other hidden rooms within them. Given that we were looking for a special ninja-themed room, it would have made sense if such a thing happened.

Currently, we were within the third hidden room, the one that I had located, tracing our hands along the walls. “I have to admit, Tubrock didn’t hold back when he was making this place.” I said with a chuckle, feeling the almost perfectly smooth texture of the wall.

Tsubaki nodded her head. “When I first arrived at the Citadel, I was already surprised at the number of hidden passages. Now that he has had the chance to create something even grander, I expect that there will be much to discover.”

After she said that, her eyes went wide, her fingers seeming to slip inside of the wall she was brushing against. I could still see her hand, but it was… as if her hand had become part of a painting on the wall. She pulled her hand back, checking to make sure that it was safe, before gesturing me over.

“How did he manage that… does that count as space folding?” I asked, walking over and seeing Tsubaki place her arm into the wall, flexing her fingers.

“He has converted an area of three dimensional space into two dimensions…” Tsubaki said with wide eyes. After saying so, she entirely stepped into the wall, and I could see her moving around on it, unable to move further back. As if to experiment, she stepped out of the wall again, letting out a satisfied nod. “It seems we may enter and exit, but we are truly restricted to two dimensions of movement.”

Tsubaki entered the wall once again, and I followed after her. Having my vision compressed like this was… uncomfortable to say the least. I could still see everything happening outside of the wall like normal, but whenever I looked in any other direction, all I saw was blackness. The edge of the opening blocked my vision on one side, Tsubaki on the other, and I was unable to see anything further down the wall, or even move my body towards it.

I saw the blackness in front of me moving further away, indicating that Tsubaki saw something and was moving to investigate. As such, I followed behind her, soon seeing a white opening. Once we had passed through that opening, there was a new room stretching out before us. This room seemed to go on and on without end, the only visible borders being the floor and the wall we were attached to.

After we left the wall, the two of us looked back at it, seeing that it continued off into the horizon. “Is… this the room you were looking for?” I asked, Tsubaki looking lost in thought.

“If it is, it would explain the size.” Afterwards, she looked up, spotting that the ‘sky’ was just a holographic simulation more than a hundred meters over my head. “May I ask which AI is in charge of this room?”

“That would be me.” The familiar voice of Athena spoke up. “Is there anything that I can help you with, Lady Tsubaki?”

“I would like to know the functions of this room.” Tsubaki called out. There was no way such a large room was built without a purpose, right?

“Very well. As you have surmised, this room was built to replicate the Trial of Blood, an ancient practice of the ninja clans. Upon entering this room, you may be provided with a special device capable of granting you a cloned body operating under your direct control. While your primary body remains in stasis, this second body will be thrust into a procedurally generated environment. While in this environment, your cloned body will obtain levels based on a reproduced version of the world’s system.”

“Should your cloned body perish, your mind will return to your original body. It is estimated that each clone will take one hour to fully grow, before you will be able to undertake the next round of the trial. Due to the special nature of the Keeper, it has been advised to not allow him to participate in this trial, due to the faint risk of world destruction if he were to fail.”

Certain parts of that description caused my brows to furrow. “A reproduced version of the system? Does that mean that this space is isolated from the primary system?”

“That is correct.” Athena confirmed. “There is a barrier surrounding this room to prevent system interference, and a reproduced system has been placed inside. This system is under my direct control, but cannot be used to influence those already under the purview of the primary world system.”

I gave a small nod at that. “So only the clones born within the boundaries of this reproduced system qualify… I can see why he went to such lengths. Out of curiosity, what is the size of this room?”

Athena had a somewhat amused tone as she replied to that question. “This room is five meters by five meters by ten meters.”

Tsubaki and I both looked at each other in surprise, before she immediately began walking away from me. After she had moved more than a dozen meters, she turned around and furrowed her brows. “Have we been shrunken down?”

“I assure you, this is not the case. Rather, the space inside of this room is automatically regulated. As the two of you move further apart, a spatial barrier is erected between you both, creating an illusion that distance has been created. If this barrier is removed…” Suddenly, Tsubaki was standing next to me, so close I could reach out and touch her.

“Similarly, any attack or effect that extends beyond this range will be captured in a similar spatial barrier, allowing it to travel unimpeded for its full length. Thus, while the true space within the room is only five meters by five meters by ten meters, you may consider it as though the space was without limit. If, at any point, you wish to return to the entrance, merely let me know and I will remove the ‘distance barrier’ between yourselves and the entry point.”

This must use a truly insane amount of power to run such a complicated spatial barrier. I thought to myself. Not to mention the cloning, the reproduced system, and the environment for the trial itself, which would include monsters and various plants. No wonder this place needs a giant void core to run.

“So, what do you want to do?” I asked, turning to look at Tsubaki, who seemed lost in thought.

“I… think that I would like to test the difficulty of this trial, if that is alright?” I could sense her fighting spirit surging, and gave a slight chuckle, nodding my head.

“If that’s what you want, go ahead. Before you do, though, I want to get our Virtual Selves back into Fragments of Acidia. I feel like we need to take this game more seriously now. With everything that’s developed lately, it would be too late if we let ourselves be caught off guard later.”

Tsubaki nodded her head seriously, reaching down to synchronize herself with her Virtual self. “I understand, my Keeper.”

After I sent the word out to the others, it was only a matter of time before they all logged in, Tsubaki and I waiting for them. Surprisingly, the ship that we had purchased before fast forwarding was still docked at the same station we left it at, having not been decommissioned by the station. My guess was that Fifi had arranged for enough credits to be spent to prevent our ship from ever being taken.

That said, I could see clear surprise and relief on the faces of the dock workers when we sent a request to disembark. While we flew out of the dock, I couldn’t help looking back at Dana. “How is the progress coming on the Hyperlane Network, by the way?”

“I’ve almost cracked it.” Dana reported proudly. “There are just one or two materials left, and then I’ll be able to start production. Well, then I’ll be able to have the major transportation companies start production.”

I nodded my head. It was unreasonable to ask Dana herself to handle such an undertaking. This kind of project could only be properly handled by a large corporation, not one lone elf. No matter how powerful she was. “What about your familiars? Will they be joining us?”

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Dana blinked, tilting her head thoughtfully. “Sienna might. Clara’s already off on her own adventure. She said she wanted to get some special blueprints, so she is showing off her talents as an engineer in another galactic empire.”

“Well, once Sienna joins, have her tell us where she spawns in, and we’ll make our way over. My goal is for us to proceed properly through this game, so we get a real idea of what we can expect. In the near future, more and more of the innovations from Fragments of Acidia will begin to appear, so we have to be ready.”

Dana’s eyes widened at that. “If that’s the case, what storyline do you want to pursue? We can join the military, or a private organization, or we can even start our own business.”

In truth, the storyline options were just life choices that one could make in the game. Our previous ‘storyline’ was that of common adventurers. Unfortunately, that would no longer be a viable strategy. “It’d be nice if we could control an empire.” I muttered to myself, before shaking my head. “For now, let’s focus on the business route. Businesses can often move between territories, and we’ll be able to come into contact with more and more of the major forces of the game. As for what type of business… Dana, how confident are you with evaluating market prices?”

“A trading company?” Dana blinked, before nodding her head. “I was personally trained by Ryone, after all. While our lessons mostly discussed magic, she went into market details quite a lot. And if I ask for help, I’m sure she’d be willing. However, this isn’t a transport vessel. Before we get started, we’ll need a business license, a transport ship, and clients.”

“Anything that can be solved with money isn’t a problem.” I chuckled. “When we dock at the next major planet, look around for any small trading companies that we can buy out. They’ll have the basic infrastructure that we need.”

Clara blinked as she sat behind a desk, a small grin coming over her face. “He wants an empire?” She muttered to herself, looking at the terminal in front of her. “I mean… that would let me have all of the blueprints I need.”

There were naturally cases where players had tried to overthrow an empire in the past. However, thanks to the large number of gods that protected the royal family, these attacks had never been fully successful. If I can get a little help from Chelsea, getting control of an empire isn’t hard at all. We just can’t command it directly, or it’ll go out the window once the boss has to go back to that Admin Room for a while. We’ll just be the power behind the emperor.

Oh, but he won’t want to get directly involved in wars, so we’ll have to make sure that the emperor won’t try to use us for military or political gain. She should be able to write up a void script like that easily enough. If not… I’ll just create a machine empire by automating everything, and placing some of our AI in charge! Sun and the others should have a bit more free time to play now.

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