A/N.: Since I have watched the scene in the Alicization anime when Eugeo and the "little" Alice passes on, they mentioned something like "entrusting the human empire to Kirito and the Knight Alice", so it must have mean that Alice Zuberg at least has a certain knowledge about Alice Synthesis Thirty, besides when Alice Synthesis Thirty showed her "previous self" to Ronye and Tiese through the power of incarnation, then she must also have some knowledge about her past self too.
I have also seen a trailer of Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris where there was a scene where Kirito who came back in Underworld seems to have met and talked with the little Alice from her memory fragment (well I'm not really sure if it's really the case or not), but I always wanted to see a scene where Alice Zuberg and Alice Synthesis Thirty meet face to face! So here is it!
I hope that this one-shot would please you and all! And also sorry if the small bonus scene at the end would somehow destroy the whole setting... Please feel free to review your opinions! I hope that I don't made the characters too OOC though. Well the OOC at the end is pretty normal though. Having 2 Alices in the story may be confusing though...
'What... happened...?' Alice Synthesis Thirty wondered as she slowly opened her eyes and looked up around her. There was no need for her to blink because everything around her was darkness, pure black darkness without a single light to enlighten her surroundings. She then put herself in a sitting position and try to remember what happened just before she lost consciousness.
"...Oww...!" Alice groaned in pain at her sore and wounded body, then she took a look at herself. For some reason she couldn't see around her at all but could see clearly her own body. Her golden armor was glittering with a faint light enough to see herself, but that's all. Nothing less, nothing more.
And for some reason she could only see from her left eye. Alice brought a hand to her right eye and felt some kind of cloth covering her right eye... was she wearing an eyepatch? But why...
'I remember now!' How could she even forgot such a thing?! She realized so with a gasp. Now that the pain awoken her fully, all the memories of the few previous hours came back to her...
About how she went to fight against Kirito and Eugeo, believing them to be assassins of the Dark Territory...
About how Kirito managed to open her eyes on how wrong the Administrator was...
About how she lost her right eye after rebelling herself against the rules of this world in order to protect its people...
About how they reunited later on with Eugeo who became an Integrity Knight but later managed to free himself from the Administrator's control...
About how the three of them then fought helplessly against the Sword Golem and lost the Cardinal...
About how Eugeo became a sword and then ended up bisected...
About how she tried to shield Kirito's immobile form from the Administrator's blow...
"That's right! Kirito!" Quickly reminding herself of the black swordsman's current state, Alice quickly looked around herself to see if he was around her, but she couldn't see him at all. Besides the fact that he was entirely dressed in black from head to toe didn't helped to find him in this endless darkness.
"KIRITO?! Are you here?! If yes then please answer me!" Alice shouted of all her might. Not even her voice could reason through this darkness. And she received no answer either.
'Could it be that Kirito is still fighting out there?!' The last thing that she remembered before completely losing consciousness was that Kirito found back his will of fight and told her to rest without worries, the last scene she had seen was Kirito's back standing to face the Administrator straight on.
Could this place be a trap created by the Administator?! If so then she has to quickly break through this and go help Kirito! No matter how much of a powerful swordsman he is, to the point of defeating all the Integrity Knights that stood in his way, he would still need all the help he can get against such a god-like opponent! Even if she couldn't win against her directly, she can at least provide some support for Kirito Strengthening her will in order to strengthen her Sacred Arts, Alice raised a hand. If she needed to get things started then she should at least analyze the place where she is. If there is only darkness, then it must be an art using the Umbra Elemental Scred Arts. If so then she must counter it with its opposite!
"System Call! Generate Luminous Element! Ball shape!"
However nothing happened. Being confused over this, Alice tried the same spell over and again, yet nothing changed at all. Why? Could it be it was because there was no Solus light here? Or because this place could be banished from System Commands? Her gaze switched over her Fragrant Olive Sword at her waist. Should she release this Divine Object-class sword's Armament Full Control Art here? It could be risky to carelessly unleash its power in an unfamiliar place like this, besides it could also be a trap and there was also the fact that it may not work either and if the result were to be as expected then she wouldn't have anything else to try...
Fear started to fill her mind, it was unworthy of a knight yet she couldn't help herself, as if she was turning back into the little girl when she was first 'summoned' by the Administrator. What if she was trapped in here forever? What if Kirito were to lose? What if, what if she was already dead...?
'...No, I can't give up here!' Using both her hands to slap her cheeks, Alice renewned her determination. She couldn't give up! She definitively mustn't give up! If she does then all the sacrifices up until now would have been for nothing! Kirito was still fighting all alone out there! And her honor as a knight didn't allowed her to abandon him, moreover Kirito is an important person who changed her view of the world! Even if she has to use pathetic ways to get out of here she would still do it!
So Alice took her sword out of its sheath and raised it in upward in the air as she recited the words with the idea of wanting to blow up this whole space with her golden flower petals, "ENHANCE ARMA..."
No. Not like that...
"...?! Who is there?!" Alice shouted full of wariness. And then suddenly another System Command appeared in her mind as if someone just put in there.
"What... is this...?"
Yes... It's that one.
It was one of the most easy and elemental Sacred Arts using the Luminous Element, no need to be an Integrity Knight to use it, even small children from a rural village could use it, without any studies of Sacred Arts, but would such a small thing really...
Now, let's recite it together...
There was no telling if that voice was truly telling the truth. It can be a lie, it can be false. But before she knew it her lips were moving on her own, she couldn't do anything to stop it, she couldn't even control her own body anymore as her arm raised itself upward on its own and her index finger was pointed forward, and...
"System Call... Generate... Luminous Element... Adhere..." "System Call! Generate Luminous Element, Adhere!"
For some reasons, it felt like she was saying it with somebody else. It was a childish feminine voice that seemed to have yet reached adulthood. However she couldn't tell from where the voice came at all. For some reason that voice seemed to be at the same time familiar and unknown, a voice that she didn't hear since a long time before, when she was still a child...
...This was a spell she used to use a lot to explore in darkness together with her two childhood friends...
And before she knew it, everything turned from black to white as a blinding light come from the tip of her finger and engulfed everything, 'light' was added to the 'darkness'. Even though it was blinding white light that engulfed all her surroundings, that may even devour her alive, Alice didn't felt the least afraid unlike the earlier darkness... after all the light was radiating of a kind warmth not unlike the one she felt upon touching the eyepatch wrapped aorund her right eye forled from Kirito's torned sleeve, not unlike the warmth like that she felt when the Cardinal healed her wounds...
'And more than anything... it feels strangely nostalgic.' That was the last thought that Alice had before being she closed her eyes inside this white eternity.
"Good morning, Mother!" A little girl no older than 11 descended from the stairs of her house and greeted the woman who had a slightly darker hair colour than her own but tied in a similar manner.
The mother who was in the kitchen turned her head to greet her daughter with a smile, "Good morning. What are you doing so early? If I remember well, your studies were supposed to be a little later right? You can sleep a little more you know?"
"No, it's alright! Is Father around?" The girl looked around to see if wherever her father would come or not.
"No, he has an appointment today with some villagers."
"I see… As expected Father is sure busy."
"Well it can't be helped, he is the chief of the village after all." The mother replied with a wry smile, "Say #####. Are you and ##### lonely?"
"Eh?" The names she heard was her own but also the one of her younger sister who was 5 years younger than her. A very cheerful little girl who admired her and liked to run after her wherever she goes. She wasn't the least annoyed by it, even though normal elder siblings would sometimes feel that, on the contrary it was something she found adorable and endearing.
"I mean, you are really busy with your studies and you would probably be even more from now on. We are also busy so we don't have many times to take care of you and your younger sister. I know that we are pushing a lot of burden onto your shoulders, but are you truly fine with it?" The mother asked, slightly worried, pausing into her actions for the preparation of breakfast.
The little girl thought for a while before shaking her head with a genuine smile on her face, "No it's alright! I perfectly understand after all that this is something I have to do! I'll do my best to not disappoint the two of you. Besides the studies on Sacred Arts are surprisingly fun! I must also act as the daughter of village's chief!" She pats her chest with a proud smile on her face.
Upon seeing this, the mother seemed to be surprised at first before laughing at her daughter's maturity? Or was it childishness? She didn't knew but still laughed.
"Geez! Please don't laugh that much, Mother!" The girl pouted at her mother.
"I'm sorry. However indeed this is true, maybe I was in the wrong to be worried about your current state. Especially since you have those two who are also supporting you!"
At the mention of her two childhood friends but also best friends "Yes! With them around, I don't feel lonely at all! And I'll spend as much time with my sister so that she won't feel lonely too, we can even bring her out to play all together! Both of them are very kind after all so they surely won't mind her going with us! Now if only Father would agree..."
"Fufu! I see, it's great isn't it? And which one do you fancy the most? Is it ######-kun? Or #####-kun? The former is quite a prankster while the latter is a little timid, but both would grow up into fine young men, don't you think?"
"G-Geez! Mother, it's not like that! We're only friends! FRIENDS! Okay?"
"For now at least, I guess~? But nothing say that it would stay like that in the future too! But be careful, fine men often get taken away the most quickly, so be sure to…"
"Mother!" The daughter exclaimed in a flustered manner, her face red with embarrassment.
"Ahaha! I'm sorry. I guess that I teased you a bit too much." Even though she said she was sorry, she didn't seemed to be the least sorry and always kept a mischievous smile akin to a gossiping maiden which didn't fits her middle-aged face.
"But even so I'm ready to welcome both of them as my future sons-in-law, only the two of them you know? Oh, and how about you take one and leave the other to your sister? With that both of them would be a part of our family! I'm not ready to approve anyone else for now but be sure to keep this talk quiet to your father. He wouldn't be too fond of the idea."
"Geez! How many times are you going to continue with this? And don't go deciding everything on your own…" Indeed her father wasn't too much fond of the fact that she spend most of her times with the boys, was it a father's overprotectiveness over his daughter or just a village chief disliking one of his people going against his wishes? She didn't knew at all even though they were family but she could at least tell that even if he didn't showed it on his face, he still cared.
It was then that she was reminded of something, that's right! About those two!
"By the way Mother, I have a favour to ask you about those two actually… Err, can you please keep it secret from Father?"
Seeing her daughter slight bashful state, the mother couldn't help but be confused over what she may ask, but maybe she was afraid that she would get angry?
"Don't be worried and go ahead, tell me."
Being kindly encouraged by her mother, the girl smiled and then asked, "Err… Could you teach me how to cook?"
"Eh? Why?" Of course little girls wanting to learn how to cook wasn't unusual, but coming from her daughter who was considered as a genius in the learning of Sacred Arts, it felt strangely ordinary.
The girl then showed an embarrassed expression and poked her fingers together, "Well you know… Both of them have been bestowed their Sacred Tasks, right?"
"Hm… If I remember well, they must cut the Gigas Cidar down?"
"Y-Yes, it's that!"
"But what relation does it have with your wish to learn how to cook?"
"Well, err… They are both complaining of the quality of their lunch since they always bought it afterwards, so I was thinking I should go deliver them some homemade food… W-Well it's mainly because ###### said that someone with a low femininity level like me would never be able to cook so I want to make him take back his words!"
"Ahaha! I see!" Even though she still wanted to tease her daughter but if she continue it would be too pitiful and she may even end up in tears so she would refrain from going further. If her husband were to know that, she would surely scold her.
"I see, well I don't mind, but you would add another task to your already busy schedule, are you fine with that?"
"Yes! Thank you Mother!"
The girl ran with a packed lunch freshly prepared in a basket, she ran across the village, the pond to the nearby forest without even stopping once. Even though she was out of breath already, excitement and adrenaline keep on running through her body and gave her the energy to keep on moving her legs forward.
Once she arrived close to the Gigas Cedar was the only time she stopped, panting heavily and sweating all over. She then saw her two childhood friends wrestling against each other on the ground, not noticing her presence.
A small exasperated smile grew on her face but she quickly shook it off and put down her basket before wiping away the sweat on her face, she then took back the basket off of the ground and breathed deeply before…
"You guys! Are you skipping off work again?!"
"Geh! #####!" The two realized her presence and gasped in fear as they started to laugh nervously, being caught red-handed.
It was hard for her to keep on a fake stern expression and restrain the smile that was tugging on her lips but she still walked forward with the basket's handle wrapped around her elbow. If they say that it isn't tasty after all the hard work she went through then she wouldn't forgive them!
Alice Synthesis Thirty opened her eyes once again, this time the sight that welcomed her wasn't an endless space of darkness. A cloudless blue sky and a long field of golden osmanthus flowers with their petals flowing through the air. It was a place she had never been but yet she didn't felt the least tense here, on the contrary it was naturally peaceful.
"Was what you have seen to your liking?"
Alice closed her eyes and breathed into this place's soothing scent, the wind was gently caressing her hair before she turned around and looked at the person who spoke to her and asked her: "...Those visions that I have just seen earlier… were those your memories?"
In front of her, among the landscape of osmanthus flowers, there was a single girl standing there. Long golden hair that is tied to both sides of her head and a braid running down from the back of her head, a bow attached at the end of her long braid and a white lace around her forehead. She seemed to be around 11 years old just like the one in her vision, with sparking blue eyes and she wore a white pinafore over a blue dress. A girl that looked really like her younger self yet was totally different due to the too different air they gives.
Alice then braced herself, suddenly feeling herself becoming weak but gathered her courage and asked, "Could you perhaps be… Alice Zuberg?"
The girl who is the reason why Kirito and Eugeo started their journey, the reason of why they fought against Integrity Knights, and also the opportunity that allowed Integrity Knight Alice to be born in this world…
The girl then showed a dazzling smile akin to the shining sun, one that she would never be able to make herself, before exclaiming with a cheerful yet high-pitched voice totally unlike her own deep one, "Indeed! It's very nice to meet you! Alice Synthesis Thirty!"
This was how, the original owner of the body and the intruder who came to use it later, met face to face for the first very time but also the last.
"Here, you must feel tired standing up for so long, right? Come and sit together with me!"
"Come on, hurry, hurry! Don't worry, it won't itch!" With that the little Alice took the Knight Alice's hand in her owns before pulling her forward together with her to sits among the osmanthus flowers.
Usually the Knight Alice would hesitate to do such things, as a proud and dignified knight supposed to protect the Human Empire, she shouldn't do things that would arm at her image or reputation like that, she felt her duty to be an honor after all.
However the little Alice paid no mind to that, even though she was the daughter of the chief, she was still a simple village girl and mentally she didn't changed much either so she was still a child. She is also very tomboyish, playing with the boys outside instead of playing with the girls inside, so sitting on the ground didn't worry her wherever she would end up dirtying her dress or not.
'She is also kind of pushy…' The Knight Alice thought wryly, she can't even imagine herself doing such a thing.
Even if she was informed of it only recently, she still has unknowingly stolen this girl's body and used it as her own for 6 years without any remorse. So it would be normal for her original self to resent her for this yet she didn't showed any of that and was acting very friendly towards her, not a single feeling of ill intention could be felt from her, and as an Integrity Knight who had been trained to constantly face danger, she was good at detecting killing intent.
"You know what, I have always wanted to talk to you since quite a long time ago!"
"Is that so…?"
"Yeah! You may not remember but I have tried to contact you many times to contact you through the faint memories you had."
"Eh? I-I am terribly sorry but unfortunately, I cannot remember such a moment…"
"Well you probably considered them as simple dreams and didn't paid much attention to them."
"U-Um, I am sorry…"
"But when you found some irregularities in your memories because of it, you ended up asking advice to the Pontifex when she called you to her room, and I think you can guess what happened from here."
"I-I feel terribly apologetic."
There was no need to explain that all the lingering memories she had from her past as Alice Zuberg which wasn't separated from her mind were erased at that moment by the Administrator's hands in order to maintain her perfect loyalty towards her. Somehow it felt like she had wasted the other girl's efforts to reach her thus Knight Alice couldn't keep her aloof attitude and apologized, being filled with guilt.
"Well it can't be helped, don't worry about it!" Alice patted Alice on the shoulder… that actually happened.
"Oh, and sorry for not calling you by your name. Since we share the same one it would be confusing and calling you 'Integrity Knight' or 'Synthesis Thirty' don't feel right."
"No, it's alright, I can understand that feeling. No offense was taken." Meeting someone who shares exactly your name and appearance was indeed really strange… no, it was more like that the Knight Alice was copying the little Alice's image.
This was another difference that they shared, the little Alice was speaking casually and was friendly while the Knight Alice was overpolite and antisocial, it was no wonder why Eugeo wanted her back so much… But, what about Kirito then? And speaking about them…
"I… used your body and hurt your childhood friends, didn't I? For that once again, I sincerely apologize."
"No, no! It's alright! ...Well, not really I guess, but the one whom you should apologize to isn't me. Besides it couldn't be helped, Eugeo probably had the hardest time of all of us and for some reason, Kirito didn't seemed to remember about us. Besides, I'm pretty sure that those two don't mind it even anymore!"
'How mysterious… I technically thought that Kirito was doing all of this for the same reason as Eugeo, but perhaps I was wrong… That's right, Kirito!' She couldn't believe that she completely forgot about him!
Suddenly she seized the little Alice by her shoulders, making the girl squeak in surprise, as she asked her in panic, "Kirito! What happened to Kirito! Is he alright?!"
"Kirito? If it's about that you don't have to worry. He is alright, but still fighting out of there." It seemed that the little Alice knew what was going on outside unlike her.
"What?! It's horrible! I must go help him immediately!" Knight Alice was about to stand up but her hand was immediately caught by the hands of little Alice.
"...?! What are you doing?! Please don't stop me! The situation is in a critical state right now!"
"I know that you must be awfully worried about him… and so am I. But, let's trust Kirito on this one, okay? Besides Eugeo is there to help him. Together, they wouldn't even lost to that woman."
"...? What are you talking about, I know it is unfortunate, but… your childhood friend is already…" Could it be that she didn't knew of her friend's fate? Or was she trying to run away from reality? The Knight Alice didn't knew but it would be a delicate subject to abort.
"I already knew what is happening to Eugeo, after all I saw everything that happened in the Pontifex's room, being trapped in the memory crystal sealed on the ceiling."
"I also saw… when Eugeo's Synthesis Ritual… and also, about how I failed to stop him with my cries of warning…"
'Could it be that not only that, she was also forced to see the memory modifications of the other Knights but also Eldrie's Synthesis Ritual too...?' If this is what she was living through during those 6 last years then it was truly a living torture...
The little Alice looked down with a sad expression, upon hearing that, the Knight Alice stopped struggling to escape from her hold.
"Besides, you know what? The memory fragment Eugeo used when he became a sword was mine… so soon, I will follow him, but before that I must absolutely talk with you! Please…! This is my only last chance, and I can't waste it!"
"...Understood." If she were to stare at her on the verge of crying then she couldn't refuse.
"...Thank you." What the little Alice showed this time was a mature and sad smile unlike the previous childish and bright ones she showed to her up until now. She must felt guilt for forcefully keeping the Knight Alice in this place against her wishes, especially when their precious friend/comrade was risking his life outside to kill a god in order to save this world. But even so, she was glad for her small selfish wish to be granted.
And she began to explain what was going on, "Actually this is just a mental projection, it was just possible because you fainted near Eugeo's body and my memory crystal was in his hand, because of the closeness compared to the usual distance and also because I was finally freed of beign chained to that ceiling, I managed to contact you temporarily."
"I see." Knight Alice nodded her head in understantement, however there was something that she couldn't understand. Right now she felt that she should just stay silent and listen to everything her original self want to say, since they were apparently short on time. Yet there was one question that still persisted in her mind, one that she felt she must absolutely ask.
"I know that managing the time correctly is important… but may I ask the permission to ask one question?"
"You know, there's no need for you to be that polite!"
"B-But, as a Knight…"
"Not every knight are as polite either!"
"I-If you say so…"
'Is this how having a little sister feels?' The Knight Alice thought with a small smile on her face, reminding herself of the small vision she had about Selka Zuberg, her younger sister who waits for Kirito and Eugeo to bring back her big sister back at home back into their home village. During her younger years as an Integrity Knight, she has always secretly envied the children being surrounded by their own families unlike her. Of course she considered Bercouli almost as a father but there was no real family ties between them.
'However…' Soon her expression turned a bit sadder. However the one that would be brought back will not be Alice Synthesis Thirty but Alice Zuberg who missed those last 6 years of her life.
'No, I can't think like that… after all she is the one who deserves to be rewarded for all the suffering she went through, even I accept that. And this is surely what everyone wishes for too… Besides…' Besides, Kirito promised her, that before giving this body back to its original owner, he would allow her to see her previous family. There was no need to go interacting with them, this moment should just be saved for the real one and not a poor imitation like herself. She must have troubled him greatly by asking him such a thing and making Eugeo waits, which is why when just that would be granted… She would be able to disappear without any regrets left.
'So I need to depart with a smile on my face, to not make all those kinds people who saved me many times to feel guilty.' Now that she made her mind up again, Knight Alice showed a peaceful smile on her face and asked in a more light voice.
"May I ask you why you showed me those memories?" Or rather how it is possible for her to be able to remember those memories as Alice Zuberg since there was still the Piety Module inside her head that was supposed to block all those memories before her transformation as an Integrity Knight.
As if she has read her mind, little Alice did a knowing smile and answered: "Well firstly since you managed to break the Seal of the Right Eye, the Piety Module's effects became a little weaker on you compared to the others, well in Eugeo's case, it seemed that he broke the seal before he became an Integrity Knight so it's a different case, besides his memories weren't even sealed in a crystal."
"But if you remember my memories that I just showed to you as 'informations' and not 'memories' then it should be possible for them to stay in your mind. The Administrator only removed the 'most important memories' especially concerning the past like friends, family or hometown. But otherwise memories like how to be able to use the Sacred Arts that learnt during my scholarship as a sister-in-training was left so you could use it right away, and with that there would be no need to restart studying from all the beginning. So, if you consider my memories as informations then the possibility for them to get blocked is quite low."
"Indeed… I have never thought of that." Knight Alice was impressed by the little Alice's reasoning. It would be hard to think that she was just 11… or was she 13 years old chronologically? (Since Knight Alice was born 6 years ago and currently seemed to be at an age of 19…)
Now that she thinks about, she heard from Kirito that Alice Zuberg was a bright child who managed to find loopholes inside the rules of the Taboo Index and thus avoid punishments from breaking the rules, this was how she managed to allow her and her friends to adventure themselves so close to the Dark Territory (unfortunately this is what caused her to be captured by an Integrity Knight later on…). If it were the corrupted nobles then it would be understandable but to think that a simple village girl, talented or not, managed to do the same while she was still a child without even breaking the Seal of the Right Eye.
"I thought that you would need those memories from now on..." Little Alice looked down bashfully. But why sharing her memories with someone who would disappear soon? After all isn't it her own life? Her own privacy?
This made Knight Alice think, could it be that she was sharing her precious memories in order for her to not feel lonely?
In order to not make her feel as the puppet she was made to be but to make her feel as a single individual? It was hard to believe that such a pure-hearted girl who treated everyone equally without regarding their respective status would just do that in order to mock her. She even show such kindness to the one who dared to steal her body...
'As expected, she definitely must be the one who would return back to them… It would be a waste if I were the one who were to do it. Yes, it's better this way.' Knight Alice thought so with a smile on her face, being sincerely touched from the bottom of the heard by the warmth radiating from her younger self. With that, there's no more need to hesitate, with that she would be able to face death face-on without fear, and do her best to protect this body wholeheartedly for this girl to return in intactly. Imagining the scene in her mind with the girl finally returning to her long-lost family while crying in happiness while her friends are watching over her is something that made her grew a soft smile on her lips.
So while she can still, she would say her thanks. "Thank you…"
"Eh?" Little Alice looked her in a confused manner.
Not noticing it, Knight Alice continued to speak with a kind voice and a grateful smile, "You shared your memories with me so I won't feel scared, right? Thank you."
"Please don't worry. After this talk, I'll go help Kirito immediately and after that he fulfilled his promise with me, I shall immediately return this body to you, I will also make sure that the state would be intact."
"...Is there something wrong?" She expected the little girl to answer her with a smile, but instead, she seemed to be conflicted.
She hesitated for a bit as she opened her mouth but no sound came out before repeating the same action and then finally, "I… believe that there is a misunderstanding."
The little Alice then looked at her older self right into the eyes, they shared exactly the same eyes, before saying in a solemn manner, "The reason for why I shared them with you… is because I'll have you return to Rulid Village in my place."
"Eh…?" Knight Alice couldn't believe it with her own ears, surely she misheard, right?! However the serious expression that the girl in front of her was showing proved otherwise.
"W-Why?!" She stood up suddenly, making the petals around her flies around due to her sudden movement. "After all, wasn't going back to your home all you wanted all along?! You worked so hard for 2 years for that sake! Why are you throwing it all away now?! Is it because I am in the way for that?! If so then…"
Even though she didn't remembered herself since she was not Alice Zuberg, the body that Alice Synthesis Thirty is using remembered clearly. About how she cried every night
"It's wrong!" For the first time, little Alice raised her voice strongly. The surprise was enough to make Knight Alice turn silent.
Little Alice then gasped and looked down with a little guilt. "Sorry… I didn't mean to yell at you…"
"...No, I am the one who is sorry… but could you please tell me your reason?"
"...Yeah." Little Alice nodded before starting to speak, with Knight Alice listening to her carefully.
Originally since Alice Zuberg's memory fragments was unused up until now, it was possible for her to go back to her original body and return to her previous life. However now that her fragment had been overused to the point of breaking in order to power up Eugeo's sword form. So it was only a matter of time before she too passes on, and even if there was a chance for her to be saved…
"Eugeo is going to pass on… and I can't leave my childhood friend disappear to somewhere unknown all alone."
This was just the kind of girl that Alice Zuberg was, a little girl who is way too kind and love too many people. Because she loved all the people of her surroundings in Rulid, the Administrator couldn't take her important persons in order to use her memory crystal and strengthen her Sword Golem. This little girl was so kind to try and save an unknown dying knight of the Dark Territory and end up breaking the Taboo Index. So for her to try to sacrifice herself for the sake of a stranger wasn't surprising… that side of her resemble Kirito a bit. Eugeo may be somehow like that too but he would surely prioritize the people he considers as the most important instead of some strangers.
Even though she wanted to be with her family so much that she worked hard 2 years with almost no rest for that sake, only to wait for 6 more years for that occasion and yet, she can't even return to them now! It was so sad, so heartbreakingly sad...
The little Alice then widened her eyes a bit as she was a little surprised before breaking into a shy smile, "Thank you for crying for me…"
"...!" Knight Alice realized with a gasp then she quickly touched her face, her hand met a certain wetness, indeed she was crying. She quickly wiped those tears away but they didn't seemed to stop any soon, "I-I am sorry! Even though the one who is probably the most sad is you, even though the one who want to cry the most right now should be you…! And yet, I… I…!" All the expressions she kept buried came overflowing at once.
Before she knew it she felt a small hand on her head. Knight Alice opened her eyes and looked down to see that her younger self was looking at her with a soft smile and was gently patting her on the head. It looked like an older sister comforting her younger sister. She surely has a lot of experience since she apparently took care of Selka in the past. And to think that SHE should be the oldest one among the two… well chronologically perhaps not, but still... it was ironic in a sadly tragic manner.
"If, if it weren't for me… then you, you could have…!"
"Don't cry anymore… it's alright…"
"But, but…! If so, then for what sake did the two went through all of this?"
Little Alice put a finger on her cheek cutely in thought for a little while before giving her answer with a smile and resuming to her task to pat the Knight Alice's head that she could barely reach due to their differences in height. "Well, they probably started their journey because of me, but then the purpose changed through midway right? In order to save this world and protect it from the Administrator. Well Eugeo asides, I doubt that Kirito would allow you to disappear in order for me to return."
After all Kirito was kind enough to spare all the Integrity Knights he defeated, he even asked the Cardinal to heal Fanatio Synthesis Two who was in a near-death state after their battle together. He cried for the lost lives, and cursed himself for being unable to save them even though he wasn't his fault. Being the kind person he is, indeed, maybe he would cry for her if she were to disappear, to even care about a former enemy like her... Even though she can't stand the idea of Kirito being sad, she is still a bit happy that he cared about her.
"Since when we were children, he was always like that. Someone who get attached to others too easily, trying to save someone he barely knows without caring even if he get hurts in the process, always so kind, strong and gentle… though he is sometimes a bully."
"Well, that… I can somehow understand it." Knight Alice remembered when they were hanging on the sidewall of the Centoria's Central Cathedral, Kirito saved her by keeping on holding her hand while his other one was clutching the handle of his sword that was stuck in the sidewall, despite saving her he was also repetitively calling her an idiot... Well previously she was quite angry about it but now that she understood his way of thinking, she can also understand why he said that.
Just a bit, the two shared a laugh due to them complaining about their friend's particular attitude, but the mood didn't lessened any more than that. Even if the little Alice was smiling at her in a gentle manner, the Knight Alice couldn't accept such things peacefully like she is.
"Aren't you… scared?"
"...Of dying you mean?"
As an Integrity Knight, she had always been prepared to face death under any circumstances, but it was different from Alice Zuberg who had been a village girl up until now… and she is still mentally a child among that.
The little girl in pinafore just nodded her head, "Of course I'm scared. Dying is really horrible after all."
Of course, it was a normal reaction after all. Even though they are risking their lives for the Human Empire, the Alice in golden armor felt that even Integrity Knights like themselves would feel scared if they were to die while lefting precious things and people alone behind them…
But soon the girl smiled once again, her voice unwavering. "But Eugeo would be with me… If I have someone by my side then I would be less scared. What's more scary is what would happen to our world if nobody is there to protect it anymore."
Even during such a time, she was thinking about others instead of herself, it is alright for her to be more selfish during times like this, Knight Alice thought.
"Besides, with you and Kirito around, I'm sure that everything will be fine. And I'm pretty sure that Eugeo thinks the same! That's why he made that decision at the end!" That's why he sacrificed himself at the end, in order to assure the two's survival after their departs.
"For Kirito I understand, but a puppet like me…!" Even though she had declared herself to not be a puppet when she broke the Seal of the Right Eye, she couldn't help but feel like so upon facing the authenticity of her original self.
"Geez!" In a blink of an eye, the little Alice pulled the Knight Alice's cheeks making the latter groan something incomprehensible that is surely among the lines of 'What are you doing?!'.
The little Alice just pouted and scolded her, "Maybe the past you could have been considered as one, but the current you is different! You managed to overcome yourself in order to become what you truly wanted to become, a real protector of humanity! You managed to rebel yourself against your creator who was in the wrong and face her in order to save others! You aren't a puppet only made to follow orders, but now you are following your own will! Fighting for the things that you truly want to protect, this is what makes you similar to me, Kirito and Eugeo! This is what makes you human!"
"...!" Once more she felt like crying again, this time not out grief and sadness or self-remorse, but this time of joy and happiness. For the first time, she had been officially recognized as an human being, and by the original owner of this body of all people! She had to hold back her sobs with her hands on her mouth.
The little Alice gently stuck her forehead against hers and murmured in a kind voice, "That's why please keep on living, okay? It's a bit sad for me to not be able to see everyone again but it's not like I would be gone for good. I'll just watch over everyone together with Eugeo… that's why instead of me, please go back to Rulid, please go back to Selka and Mother… Ah, I don't think Father would be happy though. But if Selka was kind enough to forgive my sins for lefting her all alone as a big sister, then she would definitively accept you."
"...Yes…!" She managed to say out in a tearful manner.
With that both Alices looked up to see each other in the eyes, one was crying the other was smiling, two similar faces were mirroring opposite expressions.
However suddenly around them, golden light start to escape from the osmanthus flowers around them and was raising towards the sky like fireflies, the previously blue sky that unknowingly changed to orange at a moment was now becoming a dark night sky was now full of shining stars. Soon this discussion too would come to end. Alice Zuberg's body start to shine, similar to those lights drops, as her figure start to become a bit hazy little by little, her body fading into the light like those orbs around her.
"This is...?!" Knight Alice exclaimed in shock as little Alice just laughed wryly, "Ahaha... It's already time, huh? Even though I was originally fine with just telling you what I want you to do for me even if it's within a short time, but now that's it's soon the end, I hoped that I could have more time to talk with you..."
"Me too... I, wish the same!"
"Ehehe~ Thank you..." Alice Zuberg's smile trembled a bit and wavered, beads of tears appeared at the corner of her eyes, this made Alice Synthesis Thirty widened her eyes in shock. The little girl who always kept a smile on her face even if she, herself, was in tears, was now on the verge of crying. Upon noticing her own blunder, the little Alice quickly wiped her tears away with her forearms, still a forced smile on her face.
"H-Huh…? It's weird… Ahaha! There's some dust in my eye… or could I be actually allergic to osmanthus flowers' pollen? S-Sorry, it must be funny, huh? Ahahaha…" Little Alice laughed at herself yet her tears didn't stopped at all. There was no need to say that just like her older self, at the very end, all the feelings she kept bottled up overflew at once.
"N-No, it's alright. I'm alright. Don't worry…"
Alice Synthesis Thirty never felt as much the need of punching herself, she only managed to hold herself back because this body was this girl's, and if she were to harm herself right now, it would needlessly worry this little girl in front of her further.
'How can I be so stupid?!'
Even though she just said it earlier, why didn't she realized it?! That the one who needed the most comfort was not HERSELF, but her! Yet why was SHE the one who was getting comforted earlier?! How could she had failed so much as a knight, as the one who will success this girl from now on?!
'As expected instead of me, why isn't it her who will survive beyond that…?' Alice cursed herself mentally before shaking her head. There was no way she could repay her just by cursing herself. This is why...
"...Eh?" Alice Zuberg felt surprised upon finding Alice Synthesis Thirty gently wiping the tears away from her eyes with her finger and the latter looking at the former with a gentle smile on her face, unlike her usual aloof expression, a smile quite like herself if she must say.
Knight Alice then smiled in a more determined manner as she put her fist on her chest like when she swore to herself in front of Kirito to cast away her duty as an Integrity Knight of the Axiom Church before breaking the seal on her right eye. "Please leave everything to me! I shall make sure to look after this world that you and Eugeo entrusted us to! I shall swear it on my honor as the 3rd-ranked Integrity Knight… no, I swear it on the name that I share you with you, as 'Alice'! That's why, together with him, please rest easy and look at us from above!"
'I don't want to make her sad any further, that's why from now I'll keep on smiling, I will no longer cry and keep on moving forward to no longer worry them. For the sake of my own wishes, and to respect theirs. To end this farewell with a smile on both our faces, without any regrets leftover!'
Little Alice then widened her eyes in surprise before a bright smile finally grew on her face, "Hm-mm! Thank you, I will count on you!"
Being relieved that she finally managed to make her smile, Alice Synthesis Thirty didn't expected that Alice Zuberg would jump and hug her, wrapping her small arms around her neck. In order to not put her in difficulty, Knight Alice lowered herself on her knees and little Alice's feets touched the ground again.
Being hugged by someone else probably for the first time in her life (Kirito doesn't count since at that time he was just restraining her from falling when she broke the seal over her right eye… *Cough, cough*), Knight Alice was at loss on how to react at the beginning, before awkwardly hugged little Alice back.
"Hehehe~ For some reason it seems that we inversed our places, didn't we?"
"Yes. But as expected it feels more natural this way."
"Wait a second, remember that despite how I look I'm older than you, you know? Miss 6 years old!"
"However shouldn't I be the older one mentally?"
After that both of them shared another laugh and then closed their eyes, feeling one starting to disappear in the other's arms yet not releasing the embrace.
"...Take care of Kirito, okay? He's quite reckless after all… If possible I don't want him to come after Eugeo and me, he is needed in this world just like you, and personally we want him to live too."
"Please leave him to me, I shall make sure that no suicidal idea would pass through his head. Though I cannot deny he always thinks to things that are beyond our understanding."
"Haha… Good luck with that… and also sorry for making you going along with my selfish wish. Even though you should already be busy enough."
"Please don't worry about it. It is a great honor for me, and by no mean an order."
"...Thank you, truly, for everything."
"...The one who should be grateful is me."
Everything started to turned back into golden light, Alice Synthesis Thirty could barely feel Alice Zuberg's body in her arms as the blinding light, and just before she get swallowed by it.
"From now on, please do your best… 'Alice'."
"...Yes, I shall give all I have… 'Alice'."
With that, Alice Synthesis Thirty inherited the wish of Alice Zuberg and regained consciousness.
A/N.: I hope that it wasn't too hard to understand! By the way if there is 6 #, then it stands for "Kirito", if there are only five it either stands for "Alice", "Selka" or "Eugeo" in the small scene showing Alice Zuberg's memories (it is supposed to be half-blocked due to the Piety Module still being in Alice Synthesis Thirty's head)! And now after this there is the finally awaited bonus scene! I don't know wherever you will like it or not, but please take a look at it first!
As Eugeo (who had regained his childhood form) and Alice Zuberg's fluctlights were going to pass on through the other side, the two of them were walking together, hand-in-hand, in what seemed to be an endless dark corridor, Eugeo turned towards his childhood friend and longtime crush.
"Say Alice, it's great that we have left the fate of the world to Kirito and the other you, but where should we head off actually?"
"Hm… I would like to know that too."
"So you don't know too, huh?"
"W-Well it can't be helped and you know that!"
"O-Of course I know, don't get angry."
'But still, did she felt the same thing before I enlighten her road?' Alice thought back about how Alice Synthesis Thirty seemed to be lost in the dark maze before she called her out.
Then, "Oh! Eugeo, look at that, what is it I wonder?"
"I don't know! Let's approach it for now!"
Both of them ran towards what seemed to be light, but actually it was a door, there was light coming out from the small holes present on the door. Both Eugeo and Alice looked at each other before nodding in a determined manner. Sure it didn't meant that they shouldn't be wary but what could happen anyway? They were already deads! So with that Eugeo put his hand on the door's handle, his other's hand was firmly holding Alice's and he turned the handle before opening the door…!
"...What on earth is this place?"
"...I don't have the single idea."
This… would be what a resident outside of Underworld would call 'the interior of a movie theater' but since both Eugeo and Alice are artificial fluctlights, they have no idea about it. Curious, they entered and then saw something that was supposed to be impossible.
"Oh, you two are…" The said person turned to them with a surprised expression while Eugeo cried out her name, "Cardinal-san?! Why on earth are you here, were you alright?!"
Without doubt it was the Cardinal who got killed by the Administrator, why was she here?
"Of course not, Eugeo. If I am here to then it's mean that I died… just like you."
"I-I see, that's right…"
"...So you two ended up dying as well, Eugeo, Alice…" While the Cardinal looked down with a guilty expression, her staff in hand, Eugeo quickly waved his hands, "No it's not Cardinal-san's fault!"
"That's right!" Alice added, "Besides, my Integrity Knight self is still alive, with Kirito outside! They have defeated the Administrator!"
"Is that so…" The Cardinal showed an expression of relief, but...
"Hm? Is that newcomers here?"
"Hmph. Kirito-kun is still doing victims as I see."
"Wait Kayaba-san, this isn't something you of all people has the right to say!"
"...I cannot deny that, my apologies, Yuna-kun."
"Eh? Eh?" Both Eugeo and Alice looked at the two other people on the sofa, one man in lab coat and another girl with white hair and red eyes dressed in a white hoodie, the former seemed to be serious with his arms crossed while the latter waved at them in a sympathic manner.
"By the way, Quinella too was here just a while ago."
"But she said that she didn't wanted to watch the tales of the man who defeated her and ruined her whole plans so she left early."
"I-I see…" Alice mumbled, confused while Eugeo asked, "But Cardinal-san, where on earth is this place…?"
Cardinal then closed her eyes with a knowing air and answered, "Fumu. Eugeo, I know that you and Alice must have a lot of questions you want to ask, but firstly, take a seat and more than anything…" She then handed both of them what seems to be luminous stick shining with a rainbow light in their two hands.
"Join us, and watch!" The Cardinal announced with the two others in the background nodded in unison at her words.
""..."" Both Eugeo and Alice looked at each other in confusion, both of them with a luminous stick in both hands.
And a little later… on the screen of the giant cinema room was the title 'Sword Art Online Alicization: War of Underworld', and…
"Aah! Alice, it's horrible! Kirito is… Kirito is…!"
"How did things turned like this?! Ah! And Father! Aren't you way too mean with the other me?! Don't give up, other me! Do your best, other me! Do your best to wake up quickly too, Kirito! Selka is supporting you guys, you know?!"
Eugeo and Alice were waving their light sticks with all their might while jumping on their seats, both of them were watching the new episodes of the new season of SAO together with their seniors.
"...Even though both of them were so hesitant at the beginning, they sure got used to it easily, didn't they?"
"It's so nice to be young, indeed…" Both Cardinal Systems (from Aincrad and the Underworld) nodded to each other in response. And it didn't stopped there.
"Shall I sing a song to cheer on them?"
"Please do Yuna-san!"
"Wait Alice, they may not even hear us from here, you know?!"
...And it would be the beginning of many unheard cheering from the deceased to the livings.
A/N.: I have just noticed that I completely forgot to add Sachi in the scene but let's just say that she peacefully passed onto Heavens, shall we? In order to not cause any confusions to the previous readers XD (03/04/2020)