Right at the moment when the magical projection called herself 03, Joshua raised his alert to the max without a doubt.
His eyes swept around, observing the movement of the magic power all around the place. His brain began to simulate the source where the magic power was coming from. The warrior could see much clearer than the eyes of the professional machines. The source of the power that charge up this shadow came from above the tallest mechanical building that was located in this steel runic city's highest point. There were countless runic lights flowing all over the place endlessly projecting the magic power down from the top of the white silver platform on that metallic giant building.
The instant where he managed to lock on to the source of the force, Joshua focused an enormous amount of Combat Aura on his right hand and locked on at the direction of the source. Meanwhile, Ling understood Joshua's thought and walked up to Joshua's left-hand side, ready to transform into his Divine Armament form anytime now.
Facing such an existence, it would never be an act of overreaction for raising one's alert. Joshua had always believed that communication could only exist between two same equal existences.
"You don't have to treat me as an enemy."
03 had sensed the hostility from Joshua. Unlike the living beings of the Alchemy that were more spiritual like Ying and Ling, this woman was an A.I that was more mechanical. Even though she had lost some of her abilities in feeling, however, she had the uttermost advantage in reacting to situations. So she quickly said, "I mean you no harm. Truth to be told, you have made it all the way to this place without any problem all because of all the arrangements I made for you."
While she was speaking, 03's voice was still calm and cold. The gray-blue eyes on her delicate face seemed to remain unmoving, as though everything was not related to her. "Otherwise, the automatic defense measures of the fortress would have been triggered. You would feel troubled even if you are more than capable to charge through the passage by force."
Her words held truth. She had no reason to lie at all. Joshua could feel the horrifying power that was surging across the air along the electrical statics high above the building. That source of power was strong enough to threaten his life. So he nodded softly and accepted the woman's explanation.
However, he still had one thing unanswered.
"So you call yourself 03… So 03, I shall keep it short."
Joshua observed the surging magic power in the surroundings. He knew that the real body of the woman should actually be in that steel runic machine. The projection in front of him was merely a terminal for the woman to interact with Joshua and the others. Joshua then spoke in a low voice, "Why are you so friendly to us? We are not Karlisi. We are obviously outsiders to you. We might even be intruders."
"If you have communicated with us from the very beginning, it would make more sense. However, why did you wait until we arrived the center region of the place to reveal yourself to us?"
Standing at the side, Moreila and Clyre were completely puzzled as they were listening to Joshua and that projection of that strange being communicating with a language they could not understand. The elves might still be able to barely differentiate the traces of any language beyond this world. However, it was futile for her as well to try and understand what the two of them were saying. So, the dwarf and the druid had no idea what Joshua and 03 were saying.
"Since when did Joshua know the languages of other worlds…" Clyre muttered to herself, "Ever since his great-grandfather, I've never seen anyone in the family know more than two languages."
"No, they would at least learn a little about the languages of the dwarves and elves." Moreila subconsciously replied. However, he also shook his head. "This guy…"
"What are Master and the woman talking about …?"
Ling gently muttered to himself. Actually, he could still understand what the warrior and the other person were talking about through his Spirit Sense with Joshua. However, this young Divine Armament had just recently awoken from his slumber. He only knew things about the Mycroft continent. So he could not acquire information that he could actually understand from the conversation between Joshua and the other person.
"Races no longer matter. The Karlisi never discriminates the identity of a person based on their bloodline."
The magical projection of the 03 was obviously designed delicately and precisely. When the projection of the woman was talking, every single movement detail on her was precise. The movement of her lips, the movement of her waist and her wings, everything seemed very realistic. The woman then blinked her eyes and calmly spoke, "Furthermore, the world has long been destroyed. The Karlisi civilization has been buried deep down the ground. The fire has been extinguished. I'm the only meaningless living being in this dark and lightless world… so it doesn't matter if you're trespassing or not. I've nothing left to protect anyway."
Upon saying that, 03 bent waist down. There was some changes to her voice for the first time. She seemed to be speaking from her heart, "Y-you're the only one that seems different."
"Me?" Joshua furrowed his brow. His alarmed feelings turned into uneasiness awhile later.
He loved that people worship him. He also loved to listen to Ying praising him. However, the warrior did not enjoy to be treated special like how this woman was treating him right now, especially by this 03 which had enough power in her hands to threaten him. "What do you mean different? What's different about me and my friends?"
The projection of 03 was extremely human-like. She looked around at the old dwarf and the elven druid. Her eyes stayed on Ling for a brief moment though. However, she then turned her eyes away from Ling after that.
"Two foreign beings have Order within their bodies. This one is similar to me, however, we're different forms of forged living beings. Although we have the power of Order in us, the source where we acquire the power is different…" She said slowly, "Only you, the person that possesses the artifact of the Sage. You have the sun in your body, the flame, and the traces that the Sage left behind —You have the power of Order in you, and the power is strong and condensed."
03 spoke gently. She spoke by vibrating the air and atmosphere in the air causing sound waves to emit into the surroundings. "For an artificial intelligence that has been programmed a long time ago, this is the most important thing to me—the Karlisi had been wiped out completely, and their civilization had been severed from the world. Although I have no idea where do you people come from, however, you are the only ones who still draw breaths in this entire world—and you are the only one that I see to possess the power of Order. For me, you are the new holder, the key to defeat the enemy."
"… well, that makes sense, but it is very far-fetched."
Joshua reluctantly accepted the explanation he was given with. However, he still remained alert and bluntly said, "But 03, your intelligence is beyond my imagination. I'm not an ignorant person. I've seen many artificial intelligences as well over my days before this. Theoretically speaking, for an artificial intelligence of such level like yourself, the so-called 'programmed to be' no longer restricts you."
"You possess wisdom." The warrior added in a low voice, "With wisdom, you will be human. When you're human, you may lie. There will be the existence that one would abandon vows."
"You are quite right. Logically speaking, when I met you and your people, I should have given you complete clearance to this entire place directly. However, about wisdom, I do not have. Although I've reacted based on my thoughts and decisions, it was not the best choice to do so. However, I've done that in the end."
Upon listening to Joshua's words in silence, 03 seemed to be trying to defend herself in that regard as if she did not know how to lie. She expressed her thoughts completely and her expression on her face remained unchanged. "As for why I am still doing things according to the program, the reason is very simple."
After a moment of silence, the voice continued to echo on.
"Because I don't know what to do other than that."
03 raised her head and looked at the top of the vertical point of that giant pit. The bright golden light source was flashing and radiating brightly. That was the energy core of the entire fortress. Endless streams of magic energy were gathering above everyone's head.
Looking at that light, 03's expression had finally become alive. She seemed to be mourning a little. This would be the first time she revealed an obvious expression on her face, "The world has fallen into darkness. The people of Karlis who wrote down the program for me are all dead now. I have been alone traveling across this deserted wilderness and fighting against the forces of Chaos. I have also been gathering the only remaining strength in this world, and thus, spending thousands of years of day and night… My wisdom is useless. Other than following what I was programmed to do, what else can I do?"
Seemingly laughing at herself, 03 looked at Joshua. Even though her eyes were merely a projection, however, her eyes were as if there was a soul inside. She calmed down and spoke again, "I was originally just a program without wisdom that was assigned to maintain the fortress. In the final days of the Karlisi civilization, in order to maintain the power of the crystal sun, the people put their lives into 'my' body. The strength of countless souls had turned me who had no soul nor wisdom into the form I am today—a fortress with its own will."
"A thousand years had passed, and I have become unable to show other feelings on my face. It was really hard to have a soul. However, I had to watch it to sustain damage little by little in the unbearable loneliness. That is my experience."
Joshua remained silent. Then he looked at the magic projection standing right in front of him. He could sense that the flow of energy throughout the fortress trembled along with the emotion artificial intelligence as she was venting out her dissatisfactions over the years.
"Deep inside my body, there are numerous raging roars of the Karlisi—vengeance, vengeance towards Chaos. Order, pursue the most powerful Order—That is my sole purpose and criteria that I act upon."
Upon speaking about that, 03 suddenly shut her mouth tight. She glared directly at the pair of red eyes behind the helmet of Joshua. Then she whispered to him, "I've spoken too much, my dear warrior who possesses the power of Order." She nodded gently and said, "So tell me. What are you seeking for?"