"That's just sad." I refused to rise to the bait. Anja gave up and continued. "Anyway, astral projection is the magical art of separating the soul from the body. The idea is relatively simple. Every living thing has a soul, so a magician can separate the soul from the physical body and use it to travel. In theory, this astral body can travel to anywhere in the universe. In ancient times, people called this 'astral travel', but nowadays we call it "astral projection".
"What do you mean by 'you can travel throughout the universe'?"
"It's a term used in the ancient texts. Magicians in older times believed that their astral body can travel everywhere. Not just in this world, but even to different dimensions."
I scoffed at that. The idea of other dimensions was the stuff of fiction. Then again, so was magic. I quickly adjusted my thinking.
"There's such a thing? Are there different dimensions? Different timelines? What about-"
"You are asking the wrong person." Anja interrupter. "I'm just a simple astral projectionist."
"This is simple?"
"Maybe not, but astral projection isn't some new Art of Magic. It has been around for centuries and several cultures have legends of it. Some cultures used dreams, some used meditation, others used various drugs. The magician who owned the dungeon I raided was trying to combine the various methods into a combined whole. He was trying to find new spells, new methods of projection, even new ways to use astral projection. As you can tell, he had some success."
"The heat signatures."
"One of his spells." Anja admitted. "He was trying to find ways to project a lifelike version of himself. I believed he took some inspiration from shinobi cloning magic and came up with this. A projection that works almost like a clone."
I nodded. At least I know what a shinobi was. Ninjas were always popular in Asia.
"Amazing. So, all of his research are now yours?"
"Not all. I couldn't understand all his research and had to share it with some of my colleagues. We had been making slow, but steady progress. What about you? Were you already a cyborg before you got the system?"
I was about to answer when a thought came to me. An outlandish idea that answered the question of why our systems were so different. I wanted to dismiss it. I didn't want to believe it; I didn't even want to voice it. I didn't want to give the idea life, but I found that I couldn't. The idea made sense. As much as I disliked it, it made a lot of sense. I looked at Anja and wondered if I should tell her. Was it even safe to do so? This was our first meeting, so some caution was to be expected but I was the one who suggested total transparency. I let out a big sigh. Time to take the plunge.
"Is our father dead?"
"What?" I could tell from her expression that the question never entered her mind. I pressed on.
"I had checked. There were no reports, even rumors, of his death. The last reported sighting of the Mad Triple was in the belt over ten years ago. Since then, there had been nothing. No one seen him, but no one is saying he is dead either. The only reason I thought he was dead was because the system told me. What if the systems are wrong? What if the Mad Triple isn't truly dead?"
Anja's eye widened. "You think the systems would lie to us?"
"They might not know. The systems were programmed. They might truly believe our father is dead. If he programmed them that way, how would they know otherwise?"
Anja shook her head. "I don't know about your system but mine is magical in nature. It is not a program."
"So? Our father could work the spell for it to give wrong information."
"He can, but why would he give us the systems if he wasn't dead?" Anja rightfully asked. "More importantly, the systems are powerful. If he is still alive, why give them to us? Why not keep them for himself?"
"To answer your question; I was already a cyborg before I got the system, but I was mostly human. All I had back them was an arm and an eye." I raised both my cybernetic hands for Anja. "Now almost half of my body is cybernetic."
"Is that a bad thing?"
"It is if I didn't have a choice in the matter." I pointed out. "I am a battlesuit designer. I don't go looking for trouble, but since I got the system, trouble keep following me around."
"I don't get where you are going with this."
"Maybe I am just being paranoid, but what if you and I are part of some experiment?"
"What? That's impossible."
"I know how it sounds but hear me out. The systems are powerful. We both acknowledged that, but what if they are too powerful?"
"What do you mean? I don't get it."
"I mean power changes people. In the very first message I ever received from our father, he made it clear that he believed he got too powerful too fast. What if he feared that happening to us?"
Anja thought about what I said and disagreed. "I got the same message from him, but how did you get from his message to us being in an experiment? It's ridiculous!"
"I don't think so. Since I gotten the system, I had changed. Not just physically, but mentally as well. I had been suffering from … well, let just say I was in danger of losing my life not too long ago, and I haven't been the same since."