Ghost In the Machine


Chapter 1: Like a Dream Come True


March 5th, 2010
Tatsumi Memorial Hospital


"We made it in time. His heart beat was dropping fast."

"..."

"You may relax a little, Aigis. He isn't dead because you saved him."

"I know... If I didn't notice it sooner, Min... Minato might have-"

"But you noticed him not breathing and checked his pulse. Minato is safe now Aigis."

"Mitsuru-san... You also assisted Minato."

"The Kirijo Group's vast resources are nothing compared to the life of a friend. Minato's brain was failing, causing his other body functions to cease. In order to prevent his possible death, I had the Kirijo Group's best doctors and scientists analyze him and they immediately preserved his body via cryogenics. Unfortunately... Minato has fallen into a coma; at the very least, he's still alive."

In Tatsumi Memorial Hospital, on the top floor, was a room packed with various technological machines and in the center of the room was a large tube with Minato in it. Kirijo Mitsuru, head of the Kirijo Group, was standing in front of it with Aigis, the 7th Generation Anti-Shadow Suppression Weapon and who Minato cared the most, who was standing to her right with a funereal look on her face.

"There must be something we can do Mitsuru-san! We can't just leave Minato like this!"

"I'm doing the best as I can with the Kirijo Group. However, even the Kirijo Group's scientists and doctors are at a loss. We may have to enlist some assistance from outside of the group."

"I... see," Aigis said solemnly.

"Kirijo-san! Kirijo-san!" A voice shouted from outside Minato's room.

"Yes?" Mitsuru asked. "Please, come in."

A man in a white coat then entered the room, presumably another scientist.

"If I may, Kirijo-san," the man said, "I believe we found a prospective candidate for your situation."

"Is that so?" Mitsuru replied. "Who is it?"

"A boy. About 14. His name is Kayaba Akihiko," the man answered. Mitsuru raised an eyebrow in doubt that a 14 year old could make a difference.

"He is that young?" Mitsuru asked. "He must be quite the prodigy."

"Indeed, Kirijo-san. His IQ is well over 150 and I have no doubt that he can assist you should you hire him."

"As of now," Mitsuru said, "we need all the help we can get. Have Kayaba-san meet me tomorrow in this hospital."

"Right away Kirijo-san!" the man obeyed and left to contact the young boy.

"...Even with Kayaba-san," Mitsuru began, "I'm not sure how long the process may take. It could be years before-"

"It is alright," Aigis stated. "As long as Minato can return, I do not care how long it may take. Within the next few years, however, I do hope Minato is back by then."

Mitsuru then placed her right hand on Aigis' left shoulder. "So do I Aigis." She then gave a sad smile while glancing at Minato in the tube.

"So do I..."


March 6th, 2010
Tatsumi Memorial Hospital


A young man with short, light brown hair arrived in front of Tatsumi Memorial Hospital in the afternoon, wondering about why the Kirijo Group contacted him. For a grand mega-corporation to come in contact with him, he hoped it was something good.

'I hope I'm not on their naughty list,' Kayaba thought.

Kayaba then entered the hospital and saw a stern looking man in a black suit and black shades standing in the lobby by the entrance.

"Kayaba Akihiko?" the man questioned.

"Yes? That is me." Kayaba replied.

"Please, follow me," the man insisted.

The two then walked through the halls of and entered an elevator. The elevator carried them to the highest floor of the hospital and the man led Kayaba to a room farther away from most of the other rooms on the floor.

"Enter here."

Kayaba nodded and entered the room. When he entered, he saw a vast amount of technology surrounding the walls of the room along with a red-headed woman with her arms crossed, standing in the direction opposite from the entrance. What really caught his attention was a figure encased in a rather large tube at the center of the room.

"Kayaba Akihiko?" Mitsuru questioned while turning around to see his face.

"Yes," Kayaba replied. Mitsuru then stretched out her right hand to him.

"Kirijo Mitsuru, head of the Kirijo Group."

"It is an honor, Kirijo-sama," Kayaba answered while shaking Mitsuru's hand.

"I have a proposition, no, a request Kayaba-san."

"Does it have anything to do with whoever is in the pod?"

"Yes. He's... a good friend of mine. He fell into a coma and with our current technology and staff in the Kirijo Group, and we do not have the means to awaken him. I would like hire you as a researcher and assist us with his recovery. Of course, you will be compensated greatly."

Kayaba's eyes widened at his proposal. He knew how big the Kirijo Group's influence and resources are. If he took the offer, he would be set for life with all the money and luxuries of working with the Kirijo Group!

"That's a very generous offer, Kirijo-sama," he said. "And I will accept it full heartedly."

Mitsuru smiled. "Thank you Kayaba-san. The Kirijo Group will provide as many resources as possible for your work."

"When may I start?" Kayaba asked. He considered himself adept when it comes to technology and was intelligent in other subjects such as what his new job consists of. He was also curious about who the person in the pod is and how he fell into a coma.

"Right now if you want," Mitsuru replied. "Your patient is Arisato Minato, a 17 year old high school student."

"How did he fall into a coma?" Kayaba inquired.

"Minato's brain started to fail suddenly yesterday, and that in turn caused his other body functions to stop working. The only way we could have saved him from death was to secure him like this."

"I see. I believe we need a method to boost Minato's brain waves back to normal. Does the Kirijo Group have such technology?"

"Sadly, no," Mitsuru answered. "At least, not at the moment. Do you believe you can develop a method to raise Minato's brain waves back to normal? Again, the Kirijo Group will fund your research."

"Perhaps," Kayaba answered. "I may have an idea, but I think I need to expand my knowledge before I perform any actual hypothesizes or tests. I am still a 14 year old."

Mitsuru smiled sadly at the honest truth. "I understand. The Kirijo Group will assist you in advancing your studies as well Kayaba-san."

"You're too generous Kirijo-sama," Kayaba said while bowing. "I'm not sure how long this will take, but I hope not too long."

"Agreed."

Kayaba gave a small sigh and glanced at Minato. "I guess I better start now."


4 years later

2014
Tatsumi Memorial Hospital


"Hmm... What if... No, that cannot work."

Kayaba Akihiko's progression with Minato advanced slowly over the past four years. With the Kirijo Group's funds, resources, and fellow scientists and doctors, every little bit helped.

He also became heavily interested in a dream he kept having as time passed. A dream about creating a floating castle. Such a thing could never happen in real life without blasting through an immense amount of money. 'But in video games,' he thought, 'it can come true.' MMO's were one thing with massive amounts of players connecting and interacting with one another through a computer screen, but Kayaba wanted more. He wanted to create a reality in which people can experience things realistically. He wanted to make his floating castle dream come true.

"What if..." Kayaba trailed off. "What if one's consciousness could become immersed in this reality?"

...

He thought of this as a wide grin stretched across his face. This idea would not only fulfill his dream, but it can also apply to Minato as his consciousness is still intact. A "virtual reality" where you can literally take control of your own actions. You control yourself through your consciousness!

While this idea was genius, Minato would probably not come out of this coma though. Unless, whatever technology could insert one's consciousness into a "virtual reality", the technology could also scan people's brain waves. It's possible that Minato could siphon off the brain waves and energy off of each player in the virtual reality. And with the Kirijo Group's funds and resources, this can become very possible.

With these revelations, Kayaba then left Minato's room to consult Mitsuru about the idea.

Kayaba explained his ideas and theories to Mitsuru. She seemed to understand the concepts and listened on as Kayaba continued.

"Can the Kirijo Group do this?" Kayaba asked.

"I believe we can Kayaba-san," Mitsuru replied. "What do you intend to call this project since you're going to lead it?"

Kayaba gave it some thought as he just came up with these ideas. He wanted it to be similar to some MMORPGs that are quite popular among adolescents and young adults. After awhile, he finally had an answer.

"Sword Art Online."


8 years later

November 6th, 2022


After years of plotting, manufacturing, and the one month beta testing, «Sword Art Online» was finally finished and released to the public. It was the first VRMMORPG (Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) to be created. The game's world was entirely based off of Kayaba's vision of a "floating castle in the sky" and the castle was called Aincrad. It consisted of 100 floors, filled with towns, various terrains, monsters, quests, and items you'd expect from a typical MMORPG.

Players of the game can finally play through the use of a NerveGear, a helmet with its own battery and internal memory to store data. It has high density microwave transceivers that can scan and analyze one's appearance and brain in order to play the VRMMO. The NerveGear utilized FullDive technology, which is capable of fully immersing one's consciousness in a virtual reality.

Players of the game can also create in-game avatars to play «Sword Art Online». Since Minato was going to be in «SAO» as well, Mitsuru told Kayaba to keep Minato's appearance as his 17 year old self so that he will be more comfortable with the appearance he's used to and not freak out from having growing older due to his coma, to which Kayaba agreed.

As more and more players keep playing the game, Minato's consciousness and avatar will form inside «SAO» as the game was also designed to siphon brain waves off of the players and transmit them to Minato. Eventually, he too will be a part of «SAO».

All of these accomplishments couldn't have been possible if it weren't for the Kirijo Group and Kayaba Akihiko.

However, none, not even Mitsuru and the Kirijo Group, could have foreseen what Kayaba had planned for everyone that played «Sword Art Online».


A/N: Well, this is the first fanfic I have written and published. Sorry for the chapter being short, but I really wanted to get some technical stuff out of the way! Now we can move on to some fun stuff hopefully. Give me some feedback with reviews if you want! KingofZeroX gave out this idea and I decided to take it up. Check him out on the site!

Also, I'm thinking about asking questions to you guys who decided to read that relate to this story in a way.

Question: If this story was to have an epic anime opening, what song would you choose?

I personally thought of one, but I would like to hear what others think. So, answer away!