Prologue

Chiba High School

11:00 AM

Satoru Narita


"Achoo!"

The boy sniffled, pouting and wrinkling his nose, the remnants of his sneeze wilting away.

"Ugh, what the-"

"Yo, you alright?" the voice of a friend entered into his ringing ears. He sniffed again and rubbed his eyes.

"Yeah... yeah." he said, clearing his sinuses and shaking off whatever in the world that was.

Turning around to address his buddy and the team of players before him, the boy's vision cleared. He was standing before another young man, 16-years of age with dyed blonde hair, faded into brown as it trimmed down while reaching the sides of his head. The guy eyed his friend with a questioning gaze. His auburn eyes ran over the brown-haired boy's figure once, then twice, before he frowned, crossing his arms over a yellow jersey, and bending a well-toned leg.

"You sure, Satoru?" He asked again, raising an eyebrow.

He wouldn't receive an answer right away, as the boy in question looked up to the sky.

It was a partly cloudy day today, just cool enough for him to bust out his long-sleeved compression shirt. The black fabric clung to his skin tightly underneath his mock jersey, the number 20 emblazoned in blocky black letters on the back of the yellow tee.

Satoru rung out his wrists and legs as he got his bearings.

Chiba high school's soccer field, the bleachers cleared, and the wind a mild tickle. He smirked and nodded, letting out a long breath as he walked passed Ichiru, raising his fist.

"Don't worry, man. I'm cool. Let's give this play another run before we let out."

Ichiru took a glance at the fist, before nodding, bumping his with his friend's.

"Alright," he said, before addressing the rest of the team, cupping his left hand along the left side of his mouth as he used his other to gesture towards the large group. The number 23 was lettered in the same pattern on his jersey.

"You heard 'im, reset! One more run!"

There followed a resounding yell of approval as the team of yellow jerseys got back to work. Saturdays or Sundays, the Chiba High soccer team took no days off. If they were going to win regionals, they couldn't afford to waste time. Not even today, the day before the greatest all of days. Oh yeah, they didn't forget.

Who could?

12:30 PM

Sunday


"See ya next week, Satoru!" a chorus of similar cries said. The boy waved with an easy smile at his departing teammates and slipped on his left shoe, checking the time. Half past twelve? He was gonna be late! Hopping around, the soccer captain managed to slide his sock over his left foot; then in it went into his sneakers.

Twelve thirty-one.

"Come on, where are you?"

Thankfully, a few minutes later, Ichiru came out the locker room. The boy was drying his blonde hair, with a wry grin plastered across his face, the one he usually wore after a good practice. He waved to his friend and tossed him the towel.

"Hair's still wet dude."

Satoru caught the cloth absentmindedly, beginning to dry his hair with a sigh. Once it dried, it resumed to be the curly mess of brown everyone recognized it to be. He whipped the cloth over his shoulder and slapped Ichiru's arm.

"Thanks, but come on man!" He said and jogged for the entrance of the school.

Ichiru raised an eyebrow, before his eyes widened. "Oh, crap! Today's the day isn't it?!"

"Haha, duh! Let's go let's go!"

The two teammates soon sprinted out of school grounds and towards their homes within the city, making sure to abide by the laws in place for them to, you know, not get run over by an oncoming vehicle. Seriously, these drivers around here literally didn't care.

Unfortunately, they managed to get stopped at a traffic light on the way, having to wait until all the various forms of transportation passed by.

Satoru bounced on the tips of his toes, grinning like mad. He couldn't wait to get home. Like Ichiru said, Today was the day! The day gaming got a whole lot cooler, and way more immersive. Glancing out the corner of his eye, Satoru noticed Ichiru bouncing in a similar fashion.

He dissolved into laughter, clutching his stomach "Dude, what're you so hyped for?" he managed to ask, stopping his hopping.

Ichiru caught himself mid-jump, chuckling as he ceased his own bouncing.

"I dunno, man. Just can't wait for you to try it out! Can't believe your mom let you get it!"

"Yeah," Satoru shrugged with a content smile. "Considering me begging my spawn-of-Satan elder sister to tutor me all month, the corresponding upkeep with grades, and the fact that we won our last game? The woman couldn't say no!"

"Yes, she most definitely could've." Ichiru deadpanned.

Satoru deflated like an airless balloon. "Yeah... yeah she could've."

Ichiru laughed and slipped his hands into the pockets of his sweats. The two watched the vehicles come and go in silence for a few seconds, before he asked, "So where's Akane? Didn't see her on the field today."

Satoru shrugged; shoulder shifting his bag full of soccer gear to a more comfortable position. "I told you. She's home packing. Remember? She's going on that trip to Hokkaido tomorrow."

Ichiru whistled and raised his hands behind his head, looking to the sky. "Oh yeah. Man, that must be fun. At least it's way better than what Ryuji's been doing. The dude stayed home... again, as usual. He doesn't want to leave the place."

Satoru's shoulders bopped up and down once more, and he burrowed his hands into the pockets of his windbreaker. "What's new? He's been like that since the start of junior high," he sighed, watching the countdown of the pedestrian light at the other end of the street reach ten.

'Then again, who could blame him?'

Satoru lowered his head at the thought, his eyes traveling to the ground, then focusing on his sneakers. His brain slowly began to slip into the depths of subconsciousness, and he-for some apparent reason-began to reminisce about random parts of his life.

He acknowledged the blank spaces he never seemed to be able to fill, the events that shaped the person he was today, the family he had...

And the family he didn't.

Memories upon memories washed upon the shores of his psyche, and the mind-numbing zooming of the vehicles that passed seemed to unhinge recollections of things he thought were long forgotten.

...Things.

Things that... he thought were-

"Satoru!"

Jolted out of his thoughts, Satoru shook his head quickly. His eyes shot up to the light.

It had changed. They were able to cross.

"You really alright?" Ichiru asked. "You looked way too distant just now."

"Yeah yeah," He waved away the question. "I'm fine dude, just... trying to remember something." he said in partial truth, walking with him to the other end of the walkway.

"Mhm." Ichiru hummed, the disbelief evident in his voice.

As the two arrived at the other side, they bid each other farewell.

"Gotta drop off Ryuji's homework before heading home. Make sure you don't phase out and like, fall into a garbage can or something alright?"

"Oh shut up." Satoru rolled his eyes at the friend's light jab. Ichiru chuckled and waved goodbye heading right.

"Tell me how it was alright?! Like everything!" he called out.

Satoru nodded and waved. "I will tomorrow! Just focus on getting it yourself!"

"Yeah yeah!"

The boy sighed, letting an exasperated, yet content smile slip onto his features. As soon as Ichiru was out of sight, Satoru turned and started on his way home. Along the way, he found himself transitioning from a walk to a saunter, then to a jog, and finally cascading into an all-out sprint!

He didn't even know how anxious he really was until he finally appeared at his house, opening the small gate and getting the mail in one go. He closed the metal flap behind him and rushed into the house, quickly slipping his shoes off and tossing the bundle of mail on the table, screaming out to anyone in the house.

"I'm home!"

He then noticed his mom frowning at him from the kitchen at the end of the hall, her short brown hair adorning then sides of her face, and equally brown eyes

"Inside voice, Satoru." she said curtly.

Satoru clamped his hands over his mouth and nodded as he was greeted by the family's Japanese Akita puppy, Hokuto. The young canine barked, his curled tail wagging back and forth as his tongue hung out the left side of his mouth. The boy grinned.

"Hey boy." He mumbled, dropping to a crouch and scratching behind his ears, before looking back to his mother. "Sorry, mom. Where's Seya and Maiko?"

"Seya had a meeting with the student council, but she should be home any moment now. She shook her hands and reached for a towel. "Maiko's at Hana's house." She quickly glanced at one of the house's wall clocks.

"And I have to get back to the station soon."

"Right." Satoru sighed, heading towards the stairs, Hokuto in tow.

His mother was a detective for the Chiba Prefectural Police. She didn't really come home until eight or so, though she'd pass by the house once or twice before she actually came home to check on them.

She worked hard, that was indisputable, everyone knew it.

"Going to try it out now?" she asked, tying her hair up into a manageable bun, a knowing smirk aimed at her son. Satoru was already halfway up the steps. Wow, way too predictable. Either that or she was just really good at being his mother.

"Yeah, the servers finally open today and it's twelve fifty-three. I want to get on. Don't worry, I'll do my homework right after I test it out. Promise."

His mom looked at him for a few moments, her brown eyes staring at him intently. The boy stared back, squinting his eyes for even more dramatic flair. He was dead set on winning this battle of silence.

After a few seconds, she finally caved. "Fine, I trust you Satoru. Just make sure your homework is done by the time I get back. Alright?"

He blinked twice, lips parting in subtle awe.

Did he just win... a staring contest... with his mom? It was a miracle... The goddess of luck and good fortune shined upon his feeble head. Satoru nodded eagerly, mouth splitting into a bright grin as he shot up the remaining steps and into his room.

"I will!"

Hokuto barked as if thanking her as well before bounding up the steps after him.

"Oh yeah, there's some food in the fridge! Curry and Omurice! Don't touch Seya's or Maiko's! You know how they get! I'm leaving!"

"Right! Got it! Thanks!" He called downstairs, not really listening to most of what she'd said. He let Hokuto saunter in before shutting the door behind him. Satoru had kicked off his shoes at the door thankfully, if he'd forgotten that, his head would've been on a platter for his sisters instead.

Throwing his bag on the floor, the soccer player unzipped his jacket and proceeded to change into something more comfortable. Hokuto had gotten comfortable in the doggy bed by the edge his owner's. He watched the boy with energetic eyes, as Satoru put on a gray shirt and black basketball shorts.

Satoru sighed, running a hand through his curled locks. He inhaled a long breath, looking at the clock as the time changed.

"Twelve, fifty-seven." he breathed out. He couldn't stop himself from shaking, this was it.

This was the day he'd been waiting for.

Satoru's eyes landed on the dark gray, Cerebro-esque helmet that rested atop his bed, laying next to it, a cartridge for the first, real game, ever created for such a console.

The words, imprinted upon the top shouted up at him silently.

SWORD ART ONLINE

He smirked.


(Disclaimer: Sword Art Online (Novel) is owned by Reki Kawahara, abec, ASCII Media Works and Yen Press. We own only our characters and concepts.)

Welcome to the new story guys!