Alternate Dimension (Part 86)

I've been in this insanely cold snowstorm at the mountain range for quite some time, but my body never developed any health problems like hypothermia, or even a common cold. Hatsuya told me that my body could tolerate the extreme cold, but I never paid serious attention to the part where I could still the coldness of it. On top of that, since the ski resort has been closed with nothing else in the area, cellar coverage is very bad here. The terrain here is also bad for building roads.

So, searching for an unknown object in a huge mountain range that is likely to be covered by snow is difficult. Perhaps impossible too. However, judging from what it does, there's a very high possibility that it could be that weird doll my home room teacher of Mihara Academy decades ago had shown. Still, the size of that is small enough to not be able to see it in this kind of place.

Voice in my head: "Our sensors detected an object missing from one of our earlier experiments some distance in the direction you are facing now."

I hate that voice because it is of somebody else speaking into my head. On top of that, they invaded my privacy as what they said to me implies that they could see what I'm seeing with my own eyes, and even track my current location in this far-away place with nothing but the wilderness around me. This feature, among others, is implemented into my body in a way that I can't disable it myself. I don't have to respond to this voice, but it can get irritating if I don't do what "the voice" is telling me, which I know is someone at Hatsuya talking to me.

My body has been thrown around Hatsuya as a replacement for lab rats and volunteers for their experiments with my poor mind in it and me experiencing its horrors. Hatsuya treats me nicely ever since I was employed with them, but things got complicated when I unknowingly step into their "trap" meant for curious passer-bys, and use them as a test subject which, at that time, no employee (excluding Kotomi) ever was. The situation was complicated because I was an existing Hatsuya employee, and they could not recreate the situation, or restore me to what I was before. To compensate for the irreversible change to my life, including being unable to age or die, and because my change of gender during the process messing up another of their test subject (Kotomi) that was forever attracted to me, my salary was increased by a lot to make up for it. That makes me the highest paid staff in the company, even higher than the CEO, but at the cost of my life being ruined. Not that I even ask or knew about it to begin with.

You might be asking why I'm not quitting from Hatsuya yet. Legally, I could, but my body is their property, with my mind trapped in it, and they still have control of my whole body. Fortunately, they can't control my mind. With the exception of experiments that required me to not be mentally prepared, they usually tell me what they are about to do to me ahead of time. I still don't get why they made me invincible and immortal, but yet weak and defenseless at the same time. I feel angry that I can't fight back if I was attacked.

Voice in my head: "Saeko, you do realize that you are currently doing what a normal person can't do without additional equipment? Hold on, aren't you freezing? You can't concentrate if you are thinking too much about keeping warm to find that thing. I better fix that. "

At that moment, I suddenly feel comfortably warm even though there's no change to my clothes or the weather around me. I feel irritated that I couldn't do that myself.

Voice in my head: "Before we sent you, we didn't know what we were looking for until our sensors picked up signals of that doll as you got closer. It's pretty strong now that you are very close to it. Take precautions when you are near it. I think you might have met him before, but as someone else at Mihara, and you became what you are now because you were investigating him. If that doll had not merged his mind think he is the girl he was transferred to, he would have been able to help us. Officially, he died in a car accident involving a taxi and a speeding vehicle that that happened weeks earlier."

I remembered being in that cloning machine, but until he mentioned that, I didn't thought about or remember why I was there in the first place. Trying to research the doll the voice mentioned is a nightmare because it was made many centuries ago, and anyone who has taken possession of that doll would be changed at random, unless it was transferred to someone else before it happened.

I don't know if I had already been changed by this thing, or if it's possible for someone who has already been changed to be changed again or return back to normal. People say that flashing green lights before it disappears that it's doing something to someone it detects. The problem was that I was asleep to even know if there was a flashing green light to begin with, though the device I was working on at that time could also be the cause that started this nightmare.

In the end, retrieving that doll wasn't that hard for me. Hatsuya gave me the additional task of investigating the abandoned lodge I was at earlier. Although we weren't expecting to find anything, I found evidence that the school girls were skiers that disappeared that weren't previously known or overlooked, at least to Hatsuya.

The guest list showed no records of the names of the schoolgirls or their school, but there were entries of the missing skiers and their rooms. This could be used to track who they are now, if only we knew which rooms the girls found themselves in. This could be complicated as more than one person could be sharing the same room. We noticed that about half of the skiers stayed in the same room with another skier who has the same family name, suggesting a likely couple or sibling being together. But none of the schoolgirls who appeared has the same family name with an another student who was found there too. This gives us the theory that they now live with a different family, and separated from people they had known previously. It's unclear if they are currently friends with each other as their new selves.

I came across the security system that appears to have security footage taken around the day that incident happened. Since the doll is in my possession, I can't view it now and sent the raw footage on that system to them. It took a while do to its size, but you never know if I could miss important things that could happen on the days leading to it happening if I restrict the footage I send as only that day. The technology used for surveillance is quite old, which itself pre-dates the day the incident happened. It's probably high-tech at the time it was installed, but inferior  by today's standards. Since it's also stored in an obsolete analog storage medium that uses moving parts, transferring that footage is kind of tricky. They do have the device that allows them to look at things that happen at any dimension, space, and time without the need of a camera to be able to see what happened at the other parts of the hotel at the same time, especially when there was no camera or wasn't recording, but they need that footage to ensure it aligns with what they are seeing and detect alterations.

I wish they told me now on what exactly happened, but it seems that they are busy processing data I am (unwillingly) sending to them, including scanning for fingerprints, DNA strands, and other things that can't be done remotely.

As I took a look around the staff area, there were writings on the blackboard about their last day here. Several strong earthquakes has known to have happened in this region since then, which naturally means that a number of things have fallen down as a result. There were also memos by various staff talking about the missing staff who thought that they were phantom staff, or knew that such a person existed existed, but found it strange that they can't remember them. However, they can't deny the fact that business has declined enough to close the lodge since the skiers disappeared.

Using that log book to check out the rooms of the missing skiers, we did confirm that the schoolgirls had been here, but no sign of things belonging to the missing skiers. A possible theory that it became the schoolgirl's belongings and had thus been taken away by them when they left. Nothing new, but at least we are looking at the evidence of what was in the news being true.

However, having a doll that has historically known to have done things to people in my possession makes me nervous, particularly while my attention is away from it like while searching the lodge. I don't know when the next time it would change people, what it would change them to, or even what triggers it to happen.


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