Hello everyone, I'm Sentinel07. I'm here with yet another fanfic, diving into a series I got acquainted with just a few months ago. If you know me from some of my previous fanfics, including my Kid Icarus and Bleach stories, then nice to see you again! If not, then it's a pleasure to meet you.
Since the SAO fanfic archive isn't that big, I brought it upon myself to bring something forward. I will admit that this series is a bit of a stretch for me, but I'm willing to give it a shot. So, to start it off, a disclaimer:
Disclaimer: I do not own anything of the Sword Art Online series, or any other anime or game series that happens to be referenced. They all belong to their respective owners.
Also, helping me with this is ThisWillBeFun, who is also currently co-writing the Bleach story with me. We both like this series, so we'll see how everything goes and hopefully you all will enjoy.
So, with nothing else to say, let's hit it!
Chapter 1: What's so interesting about this game, anyway?
August 31, 2022
For the most part, today was an ordinary day. There were a few clouds in the sky, but no rain or snow. This made for a comfortable jog home for one Suguha Kirigaya, who was on her way home from practice. She had a few things in mind she wanted to work on once she got home, as she missed a step or two she normally didn't make.
Perhaps her distraction could be traced back to another resident of her household: her older brother Kazuto. You see, like many boys his age, Kazuto had a strong liking for video games, especially the new virtual reality ones. In fact, he had basically just spent the entire past month beta-testing for what was to be the newest gaming sensation. Known as "Sword Art Online", the game was going to revolutionize both online play and the virtual reality market, bringing together a new level of player interaction. It was the kind of thing people like Kazuto dreamed about. Heck, one of her buddies in school was looking forward to it, too, even though he knew he'd never be able to afford it.
Frankly, Suguha didn't know what to think of it. She had never been into those kinds of things. Suguha spent the majority of her time focused on two things: school and kendo. What exactly made these video games so interesting? Sure, they looked rather neat, but why would her brother decide to play them instead of, you know, actual stuff? It was a question she seemed to ponder often, even as her house came around the corner.
"Kazuto! I'm home!"
The house was silent, as it usually was at this time. Knowing her mom, she was probably still busy at her work, while Kazuto was likely in his room. If memory served, this was supposed to be the final day of beta-testing, so he was probably done by this point. Knowing him, he probably hadn't even eaten yet. The guy had a tendency to really get involved in his "work". Suguha just sighed as she laid down her stuff and headed out to Kazuto's room. She didn't see him anywhere else, so the only option was….
"Kazuto! Are you in there?!" Suguha knocked on the door to his bedroom, gently at first. At once, she could hear the small sounds of a chair moving. So the guy was awake after all. Still, after about a minute, the door didn't open, making Suguha pout a little bit.
"Kazuto! Open this…..!"
And thus, the door suddenly opened, with Suguha's clenched fist an inch away from Kazuto's face. Kazuto's stunned face as well as Suguha's increasingly red one told the whole story.
"Waahh!" Suguha instantly jumped back aways, feeling as if she just had a heart attack. "Kazuto, how'd you get there so fast?"
"Um, I just answered my door? Maybe you're the one not paying attention, Sugu." Kazuto gave her that small smile that had a slight teasing tone to it. After Suguha finally regained a sensible heart rate, she looked past Kazuto, seeing his lit up computer screen.
"So, um….your thing...is it….?"
"The beta-testing? Yeah, I just finished up an hour ago." Right as he said that, Kazuto's stomach began rumbling. "I probably skipped out on lunch in the process though."
"Ugh, really?! You shouldn't starve yourself over those….things. What if you starve to death?"
"Sugu, I'm not that irresponsible. It's just gaming." As he said that, Kazuto began walking past her. "So, is it dinner time?"
Suguha wasn't too happy about how he just changed the topic, but sighed in defeat anyway. What was the point anyway? She could just simply sigh. "Fine…"
Since their mother went to work early in the morning and returned late at night, the siblings were left to fend for themselves more often than you'd think for a couple of teenagers. Still, they were able to handle it well enough. Though, Suguha had to admit that she wished her brother would help her out a bit more. Once again, he always seemed so absorbed in his games that he rarely ever spent time with her or their mom. Though, his time beta-testing for this SAO game was making his appearances outside his room even more scarce than ever. Even if Suguha wasn't quite sure what her brother saw in any of his games, there was certainly a bit of curiosity as to their true appeal.
September 9, 2022
With Kazuto's beta-testing period done, he had a lot more free time on his hands, outside of school of course. That didn't stop him from being on the computer more often than not. He just couldn't wait for the real challenge to begin. As a beta-tester, he was now on the priority list for getting one of the first copies of "Sword Art Online". He already had the NerveGear and all; it was just a matter of patience. Unfortunately, it seemed patience was an attribute he seemed to lack, since most of his downtime now was spent further studying the development behind the game and the various strategies of the other testers. Even though his time spent in the virtual world had ceased, all he seemed to do in the actual world was prepare for his next trip.
Kazuto sighed as he heard a knock. It could only be one person, but he asked anyway. "Who is it?"
"It's me. Mom wanted me to tell you something," Suguha spoke from the other side. Sighing but still understanding, Kazuto got up from his chair, seeing Suguha as he opened the door.
"Hey Sugu, what do you need?" He asked. Suguha gave a slight smirk as she flashed a small paper in his face.
"Well, since you could use the sunshine, Mom has asked me to give you this; a list of groceries." She seemed awfully proud of herself as Kazuto took the paper from his face.
"You're serious?" He asked.
"Dead serious, and so is Mom. Better get a move on it." Knowing that arguing these topics with Suguha were pointless, Kazuto got himself ready and did just that, grabbing an apple just as he left. He didn't have a big breakfast.
Suguha sighed as Kazuto left. Man, that kid was obsessive. She'd have to find some way to pound proper eating back into his head. After Kazuto was out of sight, Suguha went back to her room, as she needed to get her kendo equipment. It was a weekend after all, so she could naturally use the practice. Besides, the finals competition was on the horizon, and no way in hell she going to miss that, much less lose it. She quickly changed out, closing her door behind her as she left. However, just as she turned around, she saw Kazuto's bedroom door left open. Her mind began entertaining a certain thought. Could this be her opportunity? Kazuto was hardly ever separated from his room, leaving any potential hints of a personal life to himself. While it could be considered invasion of privacy, this was staring Suguha too much in the face for her to pass it up. She took a deep breath just before going in.
"Phew, okay let's go."
Of course, Kazuto's room didn't exactly differ too much from the average teenage boy. In some ways, it was pretty unremarkable. Of course, who was Suguha to talk. Her room wasn't really full of a lot of stuff either. Anyway, he looked over to the left, seeing Kazuto's computer on the desk. She didn't see the screen on, which made her wonder if he had logged out of his computer. What would she do then? She didn't know his password. Sitting in the chair, she saw that the computer was indeed off, so she went ahead and switched it on. The screen came on after a while, and as she feared, it asked for a password.
"Crap." Suguha tried looking at any papers Kazuto had on his desk. Perhaps he wrote it somewhere? She found a couple game-related terms, trying them out but having no luck. After a few minutes, she was beginning to lose her cool. The grocery store wasn't too far away. Kazuto could probably be back within an hour. With that, she ended up accidentally slamming her head on the desk in frustration; giving the desk a big shake and almost giving her head a migraine.
"This is hopeless." She moaned to herself. As she just laid there headfirst on the desk, a piece of paper landed on her head, causing her to get back up. She plucked it off her head, seeing just another random sheet of stuff she couldn't understand. However, her eyes caught something in the upper right corner, seeing a few familiar characters.
"Shinai." The term used for the swords used in kendo. It reminded Suguha of how Kazuto actually used to train with her, before dropping it long ago for whatever reason. She didn't have much to work with, but for the heck of it, she entered in the world. To her surprise, the password was accepted, letting her in.
"So he DOES remember." Putting aside that happy thought, Suguha began looking. Now, Suguha wasn't stupid; she knew her way around a computer. Still, many of Kazuto's downloads didn't make much sense. She knew how to use simple programs, just as any student would, but right now she was reduced to clicking on whatever random item she could.
Wondering if she would ever find her way around, Suguha clicked around his e-mail. Quite frankly, she did want to at least avoid his e-mail if at all possible. However, after another click, she apparently ended up in his address book.
"Well, I guess this is good enough." Suguha looked through what she could find. Admittedly, she was impressed to actually see addresses in it. So Kazuto did talk to people after all. There were a few names that had extra names around them, almost like some kind of nickname. Suguha noticed that none of them sounded like female names, until she got to the last entry: Tomoko "Argo" Matsuhita. Now THAT name sounded feminine.
"Wait a second, he knows a girl?! And he didn't tell me?!" If only Suguha actually kept track of her fingers, for she accidentally clicked around the name, apparently on something called "video chat".
Right on the screen, a small window popped up, showing a loading screen. Suguha considered just running and never speaking of this again. However, something glued her to her seat. Was it curiosity? Or was she just too afraid to move? Well, it didn't matter now. She hoped no one would be around right now on the other side, but since when is fate that nice.
An image appeared, showing a girl with curly auburn hair, appearing to perhaps be around Suguha's age. To say she was perplexed was an understatement.
"Kirito? What are you doing calling me now?!" The girl clearly seemed a little ticked off. Suguha seemed a little taken back.
"Um….I…." Suguha couldn't really form a sentence under the girl's stern glare. However, that glare soon turned to surprise and then confusion.
"Wait, who are you? You don't look anything like Kirito," the girl asked.
"Um...my name's Suguha. Who's Kirito? Are you referring to Kazuto?" Suguha found it easier to talk when the girl stopped glaring. The girl's eyes just lit up, as she smacked herself in the face.
"Ah right, you'd think I'd remember when he told me his actual name. Oh well, live and learn." Soon enough, the girl turned her attention back to Suguha. "So, what are you doing on his computer? Are you a burglar?"
The girl added a smirk to that comment, making Suguha a little angry. "I'm his sister, thank you very much! Now who are you?"
"Heh, you're kind of funny. The name's Tomoko. I was in the beta-testing program with him. Good times. Shame for the wait, though." The mention of the program got Suguha's attention. Whoever this Tomoko chick may be, she must have been through what Kazuto did.
'Wait,' Suguha thought as she pushed back her natural curiosity. 'Why did she want to call Kazuto 'Kirito'? Why did Kazuto have her labeled under 'Argo'?!' The potential reasonings behind their use of alternate names were buzzing through her mind, each less appealing than the last. Her face turned red with the thought of her worst case scenario.
"Uh...so, how do you know Kazuto again…?" Suguha asked with an embarrassed tone.
"Oh, we just teamed up a couple times in SAO. Good player, really," she reminisced. "Hear he made it pretty far up the floors. We actually talked pretty often, though. He would tell me amazing tales, some tips, the like. Took some bribing some of the time, but it was all worth it, if you ask me."
"Bribing? What kind of tales? Tips?" The questions just flowed out of her red face.
"You know, tips for the game," Tomoko explained. "Granted, I had to ask permission to write down some of them, but he was a pretty good source. Probably helped that I knew my fair share as well. Said I knew a thing or two about getting information, so he wanted to keep in touch. Smart kid, knows a good source when he sees one."
"Wait, so you two just...exchanged information on the game?" Her face was starting to filter.
"What? You thought we were kissing information between each other?" the girl teased.
"N-no! I was just...wondering, is all…." Well, at least Suguha could cross that possibility off the list. For now, at least.
"What's to you?" Tomoko asked skeptically. "If anything, I should be suspicious about you. Breaking in on your so called 'brother's' computer, talking to the first girl on his chat list. Yeah, suspiciousness."
"N-no!" Suguha defended. "I was just...curious about the game is all."
"The game, huh?" The girl was still not convinced. "What game again?"
"S-Sword Art Online!"
"You stuttered. Suspiciousness increases."
"I just wanted to maybe know what he saw in that stupid game!"
Tomoko seemed to flinch. Then, she started to look a little angry. "Stupid game? Miss, have you played SAO?"
Suguha was a little taken aback at the girl's newfound intensity. "Uh...no…"
"Have you played a good RPG before?"
"Well, I've played Fire Emblem-"
"Fire Emblem!" Tomoko scoffed. "Listen to me, lady. Have you ever cut a monster in half with your own two hands, a piece of steel, and...well, that's basically it, but that's more than what a couple buttons can accomplish. You practically live the game, every second is as good as real life, if not better because of, well, it's fantasy! Everything from the smell of the dew on the grass, from the smell of rotting flesh of your boar-like foes is every bit as authentic as God's green Earth that we were born on, before you are reborn within an entirely new reality, virtually superior to our original in every conceivable way!" She was practically sweating by now, but her enthusiasm was still undeterred.
"...you sound like a spokesperson for the game."
"That can't be proven," the girl smirked. "Still, I personally loved my time there, as did your alleged brother. Shame for the wait, though. Oh well."
"Right…" Suguha honestly had no idea how to react to this strange girl. "So, it's cool then?"
"Yep, pretty much," Tomoko answered simply. "So, any other information you want to squeeze out of me?"
"N-no, I'm good. I...think I'll get off Kazuto's computer now."
"Clever girl. Be sure to cover your tracks, though. Maybe delete his chatting history... just to be sure. He'll notice if something's wrong about it, but he won't care if there's no history. Just remember, this is the only freebee you or your brother'll ever get. Remember that." And with that, she logged out of the chat room.
After taking the advice Tomoko gave out, Suguha was just left to try and cover her tracks. As she was putting the paper up and evening the chair back to its original position, she started to wonder about the strange girl's words. Could a game really be that realistic, to the point of being considered a secondary reality? More importantly, would said reality really be that addictive? Kazuto was always engrossed with his little MMOs, to the point that she could call him an addict. However, he seemed really into this particular one, so it must have been exceptional. Tomoko certainly built it up as something great.
'This game must have some really good appeal," she thought to herself. 'It definitely sounds pretty interesting. I mean, Kazuto's been spending more time in there than in the actual world.' Then, she had another, completely new thought. 'Maybe it'd be fun to join him...' She shook her head. 'Who am I kidding? He'd probably wouldn't want me taking up his hobby. Besides, if the game was supposed to be so revolutionary, it's probably had plenty of media coverage, so there'd be no way I could get a copy.'
As she was about to walk out of the room, kendo gear in hand, she noticed one other thing out of the corner of her eye. It was a gaming magazine, one with "Sword Art Online" as the cover story. In fact, it appeared Kazuto was already in the midst of reading the article on it. Her curiosity got the best of her once more as she started skimming through the words and looking at screenshots, impressed by the almost photorealistic graphics. She had to admit, it looked pretty good and seemed pretty immersive. Suguha was starting to consider how fun this game may actually be. Oh well, she'd have time to think about later. Right now was kendo time.
The thought continued even throughout her practice. Tomoko's words just kept echoing in her head as she imagined her brother being within those pictures she saw, only up close to all the action and experiencing every bit of it as if it were real.
'Well, there's no harm in trying something new,' she considered. 'I can at least try to get a copy. If I can't that's okay. Still, it's worth trying, at least. Maybe I could just try and contact the people that made it. What was their name? Oh yeah, Argus!"
September 10, 2022
After looking up some information about the Argus Corporation, Suguha managed to find to find the proper contacts for them, including a phone number. She still wasn't quite sure how this would actually help her get a copy of the game, but she figured they'd at least be willing to hear her case or give her information. Still, even as the dial tone blaired in her ear, she had no idea exactly what she was going to say.
"Hello, this is Argus Corporation, how may I help you?" a womanly voice said over the phone.
Suguha panicked. "Oh! Uh...I was hoping to see if there was a way I could ensure myself a copy of SAO."
"Sorry, ma'am, but I'm afraid that if you weren't in the beta test, we can't ensure anything. Pre-orders will be available on October 31st."
"I wasn't in the beta test, but my brother was and seemed to like it, so I was just wondering if it was possible. Sorry for wasting your time."
"Not a problem," the woman replied stoically. "Happens all the time. Just out of curiosity, may I ask the name of your brother?"
"Oh, uh, Kazuto Kirigaya, ma'am."
There was a short pause as Suguha could merely hear the sound of fingers typing on a keyboard. Another pause followed, as if the woman was taking in what was on screen.
"Very interesting…" the secretary said. "You know what, he appears to be a very special case. I may bring this up to the higher-ups to discuss, if you wouldn't mind holding. By the way, may I ask for your own name?"
"Suguha Kirigaya. Er, ma'am."
"Okay then, Miss Kirigaya, I'll get back to you in a flash." The woman's calm voice was then replaced with some soothing music from a local music station. The music continued to play for a good hour or two, before the phone was taken back up.
"Hello Ms. Kirigaya." It was definitely a male voice on the phone. Although she didn't quite know why, it was the kind of voice that almost made her shiver.
"I understand that you're Mr. Kirigaya's sister, correct?"
"Well, that is quite fascinating. He made it further than the majority of other players, which is quite an extraordinary feat. And I hear that you're asking for your own copy?"
Suguha was actually surprised to hear that. She knew her brother must have been good at these type of games, but she never thought he'd be exceptional to actually garner praise from one of their creators. "Yes, sir. I was hoping to try and join him without him knowing. You know, surprise him."
"Interesting," the man said. "Well, I'm not going to lie, that does sound like a fun thing to do for him. It's players like him that make me feel accomplished in my work. It'd certainly be interesting to see a close relative of him on the frontlines as well."
"So you'll get me a copy?!" She perked up.
"Sure, I believe I owe it to the kid. Of course, I will still have to charge you the appropriate amount. Shall I charge on the same credit card as your brother?"
"Uh...sure." Suguha thought she may have to explain to Mom why she was charged for a video game and have to make it up to her. Oh well, she could make some quick money to pay it off.
"Perfect. I have a copy reserved for you now. It shall be sent to your shared address soon enough. Enjoy."
"Thank you, si-!" Before she could properly thank the man, he already hung up. A little rude, but she understood that he must have been very busy and gone out of his way to give her a copy of the game. Wiping her brow, Suguha just sat on her bed in relief. "Well, what's done is done."
November 1, 2022
The other day, official sales of "Sword Art Online" began to circulate, mostly to those who had priority, thanks to being beta-testers. Kazuto received his the other day, and Suguha was beginning to feel anxious. Hers hadn't arrived yet, but then again, she wasn't a beta-tester, just related to one. Still, retail stores didn't start selling until the next day, so maybe that's when it would come, if it came at all. Suguha just hoped to get her mind off it with her usual practice session. That always cleared her head.
She did have the NerveGear by now, as she bought that herself rather easily. Thankfully, while SAO was a limited release, NerveGears weren't. Although, she did have to "borrow" about 1000 yen from her brother. Sorry, but her allowance wasn't huge. Oh well, she could make it up to him (assuming he ever noticed). For now, she just hid her new hardware underneath her bed.
Soon enough, while she was washing down her face after practice, she could hear the mail coming by. Her ears perked up at the sound. Could it be here? She knew if it was, she'd have to hide it from Kazuto. However, she could already hear him coming down, presumably to obtain said mail.
"I'll get it!" Suguha darted out of the house frantically, passing up her brother before immediately rushing over to the mailbox, opening it, and scanning its contents. Bill. Crud. Bill. More crud. Most of it was crud, until Suguha saw a small box in between, with her name on it. Her heart immediately raced. This was it!
"Sugu, what's up?" Suguha immediately jumped back when she saw Kazuto eyeing her. He briefly saw the small package in between the letters. "What is that? Can I see it?" he asked, but Suguha stepped back while trying to conceal her personal item. She thrusted the normal letters onto his chest and kept the package behind her.
"N-No, it's not yours!"
"Did you order something?"
She needed an excuse. Any excuse. Come on, what would a 13-year old girl order?! "It's just make-up!" She immediately wanted to slap herself. Kazuto immediately raised an eyebrow.
"Really? I thought you weren't into that stuff."
"Well, I'm a girl! I change my mind every 5 minutes!" And with that, she immediately ran inside, not even giving time for Kazuto to form a response.
Suguha immediately ran straight to her room, closing her door rapidly. She immediately took a pair of scissors to the package, and there it was: the game itself was in her hands, along with it was a handbook, most likely for introducing the basic gameplay mechanics. Suguha just groaned: the handbook was about the size of a light novel. This could keep her up all night.
"I'm going to need more caffeine."
November 6, 2022
The day had arrived. 1:00 in the afternoon JST would mark the beginning of the highly anticipated VRMMORPG "Sword Art Online". It was a weekend, so all of Japan was getting tuned in for it. Kazuto was finishing some things on his computer, getting ready for what he had waited to do for over a month. Once he was done, he turned the computer of, eyeing the NerveGear on his bed. The game was already installed into it, ready to go. He walked over, placed the NerveGear on his head after plugging it on. Soon enough, it would be go time.
2 minutes to go.
Across the hall, Suguha sat on her bed with her NerveGear in her hands. Steadily, she opened the case, putting game disk inside. On one hand, she couldn't believe she was doing this. She was really going into something she had no experience in. Yet on the other hand, this was the world that had entranced her brother. She wanted to see what this world offered; the world that both Kazuto and Tomoko apparently relished. She placed the device on her head, laying down in preparation as she saw the clock tick down.
1 minute to go.
As the seconds ticked down, both minds wondered what would be in store for them. For Kazuto, it was a return to a world he related to. For Suguha, it was a chance for something new. Against herself, she smiled as the clock approached 1:00.
And then two voices rang out.
Wow, how was that for an intro? Nothing much happened for sure, but I think you all know where this is going. And it's only just the beginning, and it'll be fun diving more into it.
Now, as you may have noticed, ThisWillBeFun and I had a little fun with Argo. As far as we know, Argo's real name has never been revealed in the novels, so we took it upon ourselves to come on with one. We had a little fun with her personality too. Hopefully, it meets approval.
Well, I'll hand it over to you guys now. Thanks for reading and review if you feel like it. This is Sentinel07, signing out!