AN: SAO/SW, set in the SW universe. Does anybody think I own SAO or Star Wars? Didn't think so. Much thanks to Kryal, TAG, and Lachie, for helping me wrestle the plotbunnies into a story. The game is set in the time of SWTOR, about 3600 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin, AKA when the first Death Star went kablooie). In living reality, the game starts about 22BBY; a few months before a battle on the far-off planet of Geonosis... More notes at the end of the chapter.

"...This marks the end of the official tutorial for Old Republic Online. I wish every player the best of luck... and may the Force be with you."

As the holographic figure dispersed in flickers of blue lightning, the polished stone plaza in front of the Senate on Coruscant was utterly silent. Almost ten thousand Corellians stood in huddled knots of terror and disbelief. They'd signed up to play a game. To use Kayaba's new and unique holographic sense-surround technology to see and touch the ancient history of the Republic. Now?

Survive the Galactic Civil War? Face the enemies of the Old Republic - the Mandalorians, the outlaw species, the entire Sith Empire - when nobody had anything beyond half-charged blasters and chipped vibroblades? Find and defeat the Sith Lord?

Panic rolled out in whispers. Soon it would surge to shouts, and screams-

"Klein!" A young, grim voice, from the shadows of a street leading away from the panic. "Follow me."

Sunlight poured down on the flowering gardens of Alderaan. Drakeflies darted through the breeze, emerald and sapphire motes dancing over climbing roses and dipping down to brush tail-tips in the running stream. The water cast back glints of silver and blue, then nothing at all as it ran under the shadow of a bridge-

Blue light thrummed. Bits of metal rained into water; blaster muzzles, flamethrower gauntlets, half of a vibro-sword.

"Take the transport to the Black Iron Citadel. Or I'll stun you all and throw you in anyway."

The redheaded leader of the Titan's Hand bounty hunters laughed even as she backed up, blaster leveled on her black-clad foe. "I'm still Lightside-marked. You can't raise that 'saber to me-"

A rush of wind, and azure energy hummed by her throat. A stray red hair touched it, crisping in an instant.

"I'm a solo." Black eyes were as cold as space. "A few days on the Darkside means nothing to me."

I've failed.

Strength against strength, Shien and Jar'kai should beat Makashi. But Heathcliff was stronger, his cortosis-forged shield had shorted out Kirito's white 'saber, and one blade just wasn't enough. Ataru and Sokan honed against the most horrid creatures of the Sith Empire failed against Heathcliff's precise forms. Even his most lethal Force technique had been shrugged off by Heathcliff's impenetrable armor.

He was a clearer. Heathcliff was a duelist.

Now the Sith 'saber was burning the heart out of him, red light glowing in his vision as everything else faded...

Blinking text in the darkness. You are dead.

And this was such a stupid way to die. Everyone's lives were hanging in the balance, Argo's visions had shown that, and he'd just given up-

There is no death, Asuna's voice whispered. There is the Force.

Despair was of the Dark Side. He wasn't done yet.

Seize the energy. Absorb it. Redirect it.

Asuna was dead, her white and red robes empty on the floor. But Asuna was still with him in the Force, a healer strong enough to mend even a mortal wound-

And I only need a breath longer.

Kirito opened his eyes. And reached out.

Heathcliff blinked. "What-"

Lambent Light slapped into a translucent hand. Ignited.

ORO's creator stared down at the white fire impaling him. And smiled.

Let this be enough...

The world fell apart.

"Game cleared," a woman's computerized voice announced. "Logout initiated..."

A/N: For those coming at this story from the Sword Art Online fandom, Shien and Jar'kai are two-sword lightsaber styles. (A few examples: Galen Marek of The Force Unleashed game, and sometimes Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Dark Horse comics.) Shien is more defensive, but both styles are much more aggressive than most Jedi lightsaber forms. With the exception of Vaapad, but only Mace Windu and a few crazy people have ever pulled that form off...

Makashi is the "duelist" form of lightsaber combat; Count Dooku's specialty. Very, very nasty against Jedi more trained to deal with multiple opponents.

Ataru and Sokan are acrobatic one-sword lightsaber styles; examples include a younger Obi-Wan, and Yoda up against Palpatine.

Cortosis - a metal that shorts out lightsabers for a few minutes after contact. Very annoying.

For those coming at this story from the Star Wars side, Sword Art Online (SAO) is an anime and light novel. In the SAO 'verse, it's also the name of a virtual reality game released in 2022, where NerveGear helmets put your mind in the amazingly realistic fantasy world of Aincrad, created by Akihiko Kayaba. Only once ten thousand players log in on Opening Day, they can't log out. Trapped in the virtual world full of monsters, their only chance of escape is to clear all 100 levels. And if their HP hits zero, they die. Kirito (Kazuto Kirigaya) is just fourteen when the game starts, yet he still sets out to be one of the clearers - players out to clear the game and hopefully get back to reality.

Note - in a game where everyone uses swords (at least to start), Kirito's nickname is The Black Swordsman.

One of the main features of the game is Sword Skills; get into position for a certain attack or defense, and the system will take you through it, increasing your damage and accuracy. If a player pays attention, the game can actually teach them how to fight without using the Skills.

Alterations to SAO canon for ORO (Old Republic Online): instead of a fantasy world, Kayaba made a historical game, set in the time of the Old Republic during the Galactic Civil War - one of the first big Jedi/Sith conflicts. Big as in hundreds of Jedi and Sith on the field at once, sometimes. Instead of levels, Kayaba had dozens of different worlds, with quests on each and some that spanned the whole Known Galaxy. I'm using bits and pieces I've heard about SWTOR and a bunch of stuff gleaned from Wookiepedia to help fill in the gaps.

Given the Republic's advanced medical technology the players are actually going to wake up in reasonably decent shape, instead of the wasted coma patients of SAO canon. They're not up to running marathons, but they can run.

They're going to have to...