Chapter 33: One mistake is no longer perfection.
"Congratulations on completing Ten Desires!" The Niroti avatar cried, digital fireworks shooting onscreen, "Here's your blank Spellcard!"
"Don't forget to play Touhou 14! And the various side games! And to create a spell for your spellcard!"
"Right." The human sighed, "...Well...mind as well run a virus scan while I'm at it. ...What song should I play?"
A few minutes later, the human sat back, Fire Flower by Len playing in the background as his new spell was completed.
"Are you sure about this spell?" The Nitori avatar asked.
"Okay then!" Nitori smiled, "Imprinting the spell now!"
The human yawned as his spellcard was being written. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the screen flicker. The human frowned.
The screen flickered again. All of a sudden the computer began beeping. The progress bar for the spell began to jump stages. Before the human could do anything, the computer began to spark and smoke.
"What's going on?" The human said, surprised.
The beeping began to speed up until it became a continuous shrill whine. Light poured out off every crevice of the computer's frame before something shot out of it. The chaos died down and the human could see the screen again. Miraculously, the computer had managed to remain online. The only thing on screen now was a small message set to the lowest brightness setting.
May 15 2012
Data Corruption. The Seven-Colored Puppeteer has been attacked.
Corrupted file has moved to the strongest source of magic.
"Kawashrio Nitori. Genius Inventor, Terrible Programmer." The human sighed, "Seriously? A single virus scan during the imprint caused this?"
The human frowned as he reread the message, "...strongest source of magic?"
The human burst out of his room, "I need your help."
"E-Eh?" His guest said, surprised, "W-What is it? What happened?"
"I need you to find the strongest source of magic. As far as you can."
"W-Where's this coming from? ...Well...I did sense an abnormal spike in energy somewhere...50 kilometers to the southwest of here?"
"Thanks." The human said, taking his coat with him.
The human stood, 50 kilometers southwest from his home, at the site of destruction that was creating a large crowd.
"...Well I could always say a meteor did it." The human guessed.
Then he noticed the figure climbing out of the wreckage. The frowned as he recognized the figure as she smiled.
The human ducked as numerous wire lashed out and cut the on-lookers.
"What?" The human said as he slid out a spellcard as everyone ran away, "Crush Sign-Debilitate ."
The human slashed away the wires that targeted him and began to run towards their owner. The human focused on dodging the near invisible wires, slowly advancing. All of a sudden something hit him in the head behind him. The human stopped to search for what hit him. There he saw one of the wires rewinding, tied to a pipe. The human frowned.
"Hope Sign-Flower of the Sun's Brilliant Rays."
The spellcard took to the sky, becoming a small sun behind the human, it's light easing the pain. The light also made the wires glitter in contrast with the background. The human studied the wire's movement and positions, quickly locating a spot where the wires were gathered more tightly. This called for 2 more spellcards.
"Evolution Sign-Everworld Half-Soul Cannon."
The human slashed down shooting a wave of energy at the thicket of wires, charging forward with his next spellcard.
"Strike Sign-Instant of the United Tiger and Dragon "
The human surrounded himself in chi. His body enhanced, he rocketed forward, smashing into the spell he had cast earlier, cloaking him a second time and carrying him even faster. The charge rocked the wires as they strained to push him back. But one sword swipe scattered them all. Continuing with renewed speed, the human charged at the girl.
The girl brushed the dust off from her dress, "How dull."
The human pulled his sword from the ground that he used for braking, "I thought it was you. But I thought it was strange since you don't have that big a source of magic. But...you're not Alice."
"Well that's a quick assumption." 'Alice' said, surprised.
"All that's in common is looks." The human said, "And even then you got the dress color wrong."
"I like black." 'Alice' smiled.
"What do you want?"
"Hmph. Alright, I guess I should explain the rules to this game."
"Game?" The human frowned.
"Simply put: Am I Alice?"
"As you've said I am clearly not Alice Margatroid. But Alice is still alive. It's up to you, however. Who is Alice?"
"You asking me...to pick the person known as Alice?"
"Yep. To avoid confusion, you may call me Malice."
"...What is the point of this?"
"Oh?" Malice smiled, "Whatever could you be talking about?"
"You're asking me to decided who Alice is, but what is the point of this?"
"Isn't it obvious?" Malice smirked, "It's to fix YOUR mistake."
"You didn't think running a virus scan during an imprint was what caused this right?" Malice smiled, "Typical. You always try to push the blame onto others."
"That's not true." The human frowned.
"Well, whatever." Malice shrugged, "I couldn't care less."
"...The only thing I have to do is say that you're Alice right?"
"That's one way."
"I would be more careful. Whoever you decide to be Alice is automatically who Becomes Alice."
"Well, that's enough rule explaining for me." Malice yawned, "Time for me to let loose."
"Let loose?" The human frowned.
"Yep. Until you declare who is going to be Alice, I've got free time."
"And what do you plan to do?"
Malice smiled evilly, "I don't like other people."
And with that she jumped away. The human frowned and jumped after her.
Wire whipped out from Malice's hands and lashed out at the on looking crowd. The human cried out and began to flee as Malice landed.
"Don't get in my way!" Malice called out.
The humans yelped and began to scurry away. Malice began to smile softly as she left alone in the streets.
Malice's smile disappeared as more people in blue uniform began run up to her. She reached out, her wires reacting instantly and began to snake towards the officers. As the wires closed in, a sudden amazingly strong gust of wind blasted the wires, sending them off course and kicking up enough dust for the officers to begin to cough. The human swooped down and knocked them all out with the flat of his blade.
"I could've handled them." Malice frowned as she retreated her wires.
"What are you doing?" The human frowned.
"Wasting my time." Malice said, taking a seat atop an abandoned car.
"By attacking others?"
"I wanted to be alone."
"Alone? But..." The human stopped.
"...Are you finally getting how this game works?"
"...You're not Alice, but a part of who Alice is." The human said, "Specifically, you're the 'Loner' part of Alice. The one who doesn't like others. The decision...you want me to decide whenever you are Alice, in other words, is Alice a Loner?"
Malice clapped, "Looks like you finally get it."
"Why should I play this game?" The human frowned.
Malice shrugged, "You don't have to answer. The longer you wait on a decision the longer I get to exist."
"I can see how that's a problem."
"So? Are you going to end the game now?"
Malice raised an eyebrow.
"It's true that Alice is somewhat of a loner, but that isn't who she is."
"So I can't possibly be Alice." Malice said, "Am I right?"
Malice looked surprised again.
"What you're saying isn't wrong. It's just not the whole truth."
"And you want this 'whole truth'?"
"It was my mistake wasn't it? I don't want to make anymore."
Malice smiled, "Do what you like. But not everyone is as tolerant or as patient as you."
Wires erupted up again, this time behind Malice. The wires snapped something out of the air. As it clinked to the ground, the human spotted a human perched atop a roof, sniper rifle in hand. Before the human could even say anything, Malice's wires lashed out and sliced the rifle into pieces. The sniper yelped and backed away, quickly dropping his gun before the wires could cut his fingers. As the wires closed in on him, he reached into his jacket and took out a grenade. Quickly pulling the pin, he lobbed it over the wires before they attacked him. Malice watched with wary fascination as the grenade fell towards her.
The human frowned as he swung his sword around, throwing it through the grenade and making it explode prematurely. The sword lobbed itself on the side of the sniper's building. The human ran over, jumping up the building before landing on his sword and simultaneously leaping off it and removing it from the wall before he continued his ascent. The human landed on the roof in time to see the wires snake away from a torn and mangled corpse.
"Did you have to kill him?" The human asked as he returned.
"He tried to kill me." Malice said.
"You didn't have to kill him."
"What other choice did I have?"
"Alice probably would've scared them. Show the difference in power rather than kill him."
"What happens to humans is none of my concern. If I did give a damn I would live with them. But I don't like and I don't care about humans. Isn't that what Alice feels too?"
The human frowned. Malice smirked and returned to the tea her wires had made for her.
"...If you're a loner then why are you allowing me next to you?" The human asked.
"You're the master. You ultimately are the person who's going to bring Alice back into existence. As a part of Alice I'm obligated to hear your thoughts."
The human looked away, deep in thought. Malice was about to return to her tea before a sword suddenly stopped at her neck.
"And what would happen if I killed you?" The human asked.
Malice's smile maddened, "Are you willing to find out?"
The human didn't flinch as wires rose around them.
The human was surprised when someone suddenly tackled him away from Malice.
"Don't do it! That's not the solution!"
"Who are you?" The human frowned as he pushed the person away.
To his surprised, he found a second 'Alice'. This one dressed in light blue and white.