❯ Mystic Visions – Deuses ( Chapter 7 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

AN: Eep, don’t hate me? Heh. I see some really spastic reviews in my future… such a cruel ending… but I promise you that I won’t let the story get too angsty, as I am sometimes wont to do. I’m too comfortable with the feel of this story to change it now, it would defeat the purpose 😉
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Chapter Six: Deuses
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Is it a human?

`No.’

Plant?

`No.’

Not something alive, then?

`No.’

Wait… so, it is alive?

`Yes. I’m counting that as a question.’

“Can’t we just start without her?” Sai Jounouchi groused.

“Relax, Sai-kun,” Kaede Saitou said soothingly. “For all we know, she might be coming down the hall right now.”

“Actually, she’s not,” Ogata said helpfully, and gestured at his computer screen. “There are cameras… in the…” He smiled glassily, and abruptly decided that it would be safer stay in the background, after all.

Sai turned her gaze from Ogata to Ichiro, icy expression not wavering in the slightest. “You could at least tell us why we’re here,” she suggested; behind her, Arisu and Madoka Fujisaki nodded their agreement.

“It’s very shocking,” the scientist said enigmatically. “It’d be better to tell you all at once, I think.”

Oujiro sighed heavily, fidgeting with a cord. `You’re right, it is a tiger. How do you keep doing that? Are you cheating?’

Sai smirked. “Oujiro seems to disagree.” He blinked owlishly at her.

Me, cheat?

“Er… yes?” he hazarded, and then frowned. Wait… Ichiro gave him an odd look, but luckily they were all distracted before he could say anything as the door was flung dramatically open.

“Sorry I’m late!” Ringo Seto cried, bowing repeatedly and causing her long blonde hair to fly every-which way. “There were reporters… and then I tried to take a detour… but I’m here!”

“So we noticed,” Ichiro agreed, smiling indulgently. Misaki waved shyly, and Hatoko smiled too.

“So can we start?” Sai asked again, sounding vaguely bored. Ichiro nodded, unruffled.

“Yes, okay… Well, for Jounouchi-san’s sake, we might as well cut to the chase.” Oujiro grimaced, wondering if that was really the best way to go, but his brother was already leaning forward across his desk. He smiled pleasantly. “So… how many of you have talked with your Angels? In your dreams or otherwise.”

Oujiro rolled his eyes – blunt as possible, go figure, it had left the Fujisaki sisters gaping – but Hatoko met his eyes and nodded. “I have,” he said.

“Me too,” she agreed. Misaki stared at them in shock, but to their surprise, Ringo was the next to speak up.

“Really… y-you too?”

“And me,” Misaki admitted, ducking her head. “Not just when I was sick, either. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, Hatoko – Oujiro…” Hatoko just laughed.

“We didn’t tell you either,” she pointed out.

Sai leaned back in her chair, arms folded. “You’re kidding me. You’re all crazy…” At their apprehensive stares, however, she sighed and looked away. “Okay – we’re all crazy,” she confessed grudgingly. At this, the Fujisaki sisters traded glances, and nodded mutely.

“Blanche has talked to me as well,” Kaede said serenely. She gave Misaki a thoughtful look. “When it first started, I was in bed for several days as well…”

Hatoko nodded. “It didn’t happen to everyone that way. Oujiro thinks it affected different people in different ways.”

“Fascinating,” Ichiro commented, sounding like he was in heaven. At Oujiro’s withering look, however, he cleared his throat and sat back again. “Well, it’s good to know we’re all on the same page-”

“Good to know?” Arisu spoke up, sounding somewhat breathless. “Good to know? Y-you mean to tell us that, because of MYSTIC, somehow-” Madoka lay a hand on her arm, looking concerned, but Arisu was staring at Ichiro with wide, unblinking eyes and didn’t appear to notice.

He shrugged apologetically. “This development was entirely unforeseen, I assure you,” he said smoothly. “It appears to be due to repeatedly exposing your minds to the artificial intelligence software – it seems to have created some sort of link – however, judging from some initial tests I’ve preformed with Oujiro’s help, it appears that this link can be broken easily enough, if need be, once the Angel’s chip is turned off. Of course, that’s what we’re here to discuss-”

Arisu had taken a few deep breaths, and was now able to interrupt him again. “Wait – what do you mean, `discuss’? I don’t think there’s anything to discuss. Artificial or not, I don’t want another – another `mind’ in my head.” She looked around at the other Deuses, and raised an eyebrow. “I mean, who would?”

Misaki looked utterly lost. “You mean you… don’t get along with Alice?” Arisu gawped.

“Excuse me? You mean it honestly doesn’t bother you to have someone else in your mind, all the time, watching everything you do… giving their opinion… knowing what you’re thinking…?” She shuddered at the thought.

Misaki looked down, but Oujiro hummed thoughtfully. “Well, really, now… has Alice actually told you she’s read your private thoughts, or giving you any positive sign that she has – or are you just stating the possibility?” Arisu narrowed her eyes at him; he beamed innocently. “Because I don’t think she would do that; I don’t think any of our Angels would do that. And the rest of it isn’t so bad – I’d say it sounds rather familiar, actually, as one younger sibling to another… Think about it. They were made for us… made by us… really, I think they just want to make us happy.”

Oh, wow, I had no idea you… do you feel okay?

`Shut up.’

Arisu, however, was not to be deterred. She jumped to her feet, scowling all the more. “You’re crazy,” she informed him. “They aren’t people, or, or even pets or something like that! They’re programs, and they’re malfunctioning. I mean, it started out as just weird dreams ever once in a while, but now I’m hearing her all the time. How far do you think it’ll go? What if they’re able to influence our actions, make us do what they want? What if they wind up so much stronger than us that we become trapped in our own bodies, or – Kami-sama, I don’t know -!”

“Please, Arisu-san,” Kaede interrupted, looking disturbed. “Just… you mean… You’re really not happy, being closer to Alice?”

“Yes, please calm down,” Ichiro said sternly, glasses glinting. “You’re practically hysterical, and you know, we need to reach a unanimous decision…”

Arisu’s mouth was narrowed to a pale line, and she banged a small fist on the table angrily. “No! I don’t care what the rest of you, but I’m through with this. I want Alice’s software turned off immediately!”

The pained wince that crossed her face just before she stormed out of the room was not lost on Oujiro, and he thought that it seemed rather out of keeping with her words…

Oh… Poor, poor Alice… Wizard murmured. In the dense silence that followed, Ichiro bowed his head.

Madoka blew a bang out of her face and leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. “I apologize for that,” she said, wincing as well. “Arisu can be… very emotional…” Misaki chuckled at that, though she still looked more than a little shell-shocked. Madoka contemplated the middle distance. “I don’t know exactly why she’s rejecting the whole thing so violently… but I can’t imagine that Alice wouldn’t care for her very much…” She shrugged, and stood. “Nevertheless, I guess you’d better turn it off. She seems to be very determined. I’ll… stick it out with Mao a bit longer, I think…” She smiled helplessly. “I’d better go.”

After another moment, Ichiro stretched and raked a hand through his hair. “Wow. Anybody else got anything they want to get out of their systems?” The Deuses glanced at each other.

“Well, I’m okay with it, I guess,” Sai put in, “but you know you’re not going to be able to market this, right? No way.” Oujiro nodded grimly. Ichiro pouted.

“Aw… I could just say I didn’t know…” Ogata, hovering at his elbow, sighed; Sai just rolled her eyes. “Oh, fine. Though you have to admit, if everyone reacted like that, it could be fun to watch… okay, okay, or they could lynch me, fine, I know!” He sighed dramatically. “I guess I won’t be unveiling MYSTIC at the tournament after all. My Nobel…” He cleared his throat. “Ah, but, with your cooperation, I’d like to keep working on it. Now, I know that may sound like a lot, but – though it would be interesting to see what other advances they’d make if left to their own devices – I could switch off your Angels’ implants as well, between sessions.”

Oujiro opened his mouth to speak, and his hand flew to his temple.

`Wizard?’

…Yes?

Oujiro’s mouth twisted into a wry smile. It had come from way back in the back of his head, true, but to scream so loudly – had he thought he wouldn’t hear…?

`You’d just better find a way to talk to those other Angels sometime soon, so they can baby-sit you,’ he warned, then said aloud: “Actually, I think I’d like to keep mine on… at least for now.” He smiled sweetly in response to Ichiro’s inquisitive look.

“Ah – me too!” Misaki said. Hatoko nodded happily.

“And me,” Ringo and Kaede both said, and grinned at each other.

“…Oh, why not?” Sai agreed wearily. Ichiro graced them all with an approving smirk.

“Well, that’s settled… Actually, I guess that’s about everything for now.” He nodded to himself, and then suddenly glared at them all. “Well? What are you all doing still hanging around? Shoo, shoo! Lots of work to do!” Ringo scampered out with a squeak, followed quickly by Kaede, Sai, and Hatoko; Oujiro and Misaki, who were somewhat more used to Ichiro’s eccentricities, followed at a slightly more sedate pace. Glancing over his shoulder, Oujiro saw that his brother had not even bothered to get up, but had pulled a small notebook out of his pocket and was already scribbling furiously.

As they walked through the halls, Misaki grasped his hand. “I feel kind of bad for Alice,” she confessed quietly, and gave him a worried look. “That’s not too strange, is it? It’s true, what she said; they are artificial intelligences…”

“I feel sorry for her too,” he assured her. “Though it is… very different…”

“Yes, it’s different,” she agreed, and smiled brightly, “but exciting! I would never want Hikaru’s chip turned off; she’s already such a good friend, even if she’s not human in the same way we are.”

“Yes, I… would never want Wizard turned off, either…”

Then why do you feel so bad? Wizard whispered. Oujiro-kun?

They came to the doors, and Oujiro was distantly aware of Misaki saying, “-well, Auntie’s house is that way-” The sun was beginning to set, he noted, and the light lit her hair on fire… such a painfully bright color… He shut his eyes to it, and leaned down and kissed her.

When they parted her cheeks were tinged with pink, and she was smiling brilliantly. Oujiro couldn’t help but smile too; he had to admit that she was adorable. “Well… I’d better get going,” she said, and squeezed his hand before letting it go. She waved as she walked away, and he waved back, and Wizard was utterly silent for the rest of the night.

X………………………………………………………. ………………………………………………………………..X

“Oujiro.”

No honorific. Oujiro was proud of himself for noticing that even while he was still experiencing the now-familiar vertigo that accompanied these dreams. No `kun’, no `sama’, no nothing – no feelings at all…

Wizard seemed somehow especially small and child-like, Oujiro thought, with his eyes pleading with him like that, but his voice was frostbitten. “That girl – Misaki… she’s the one you love the most, right?”

“I-” Oujiro stopped there, however, unsure of exactly what he was protesting. Perhaps it was possible to upset the Angel, after all… “I-I like you a lot, you know,” he stammered.

“But not the most,” Wizard brushed it off. Then he added, in a much smaller voice: “Are you going to marry her?”

Oujiro choked. “W-Wha-”

“Because that’s what people do when they love each other the most, right?”

Marry. Where did he get this stuff? Funny – maybe it was because his first love had been so hopeless, and because now so many people who didn’t even know him fawned hopelessly over him, but he’d never really thought much about that sort of thing. But more importantly – marry Misaki? He grimaced. “I t-think she’s a bit young to be thinking about that sort of thing-”

Wizard brightened a little. “You mean you don’t think she loves you the most?”

Aspirin… aspirin would be nice…

Oujiro boggled at him as the Angel took a tentative first step closer. “Now – listen to me – I never said that – you don’t understand – mmph -”

Wizard broke the forceful kiss to beam at him. “That must be sad. But it’s okay, because I love you the most. More than anything.”

As the shorter boy pulled him close for another kiss, Oujiro felt tears prickling at the corners of his eyes, and he wondered why. At no time during this whole ordeal had he yet felt like crying – not when he’d thought he was losing his mind, not when he’d thought Misaki was ill, not when Arisu had demanded that Alice be permanently shut down…

He supposed it had something to do with the fact that… to not be loved the most – must be sad…

Oujiro suddenly gave Wizard a violent push; the Angel’s eyes were bigger than he’d ever seen them. His hands trembled in the face of those big blue eyes. “No,” he said coolly. “Misaki does love me – and when I think of how much it would hurt her if she knew-”

“Knew?” Wizard said suspiciously, almost tauntingly. “What is there to know, then?”

Oujiro stared at him for a long, long time. Then he said, softly: “That I was confused.”

After that, Oujiro got out of bed even though it was only two in the morning, and made coffee. He scowled into his steaming mug; it didn’t help that the cup was blue, but even the drink reminded him, now…

But he had done the right thing, right? He had done the right thing, for Misaki’s sake. So what if the tournament was just two days away? So what if he felt like the world’s biggest jerk? There was no reason to feel that way, anyway, when he had done the right thing… surely…

TBC

Mystic Visions – Artificial Intelligence
Mystic Visions – Integration