Author's Notes: This story is not exactly like the typical SAO fanfiction. Rather this is written like another LN inspired by SAO. It uses different characters and has a unique plot. However because of this story's origin as a SAO's parody it shares with SAO what the author believes to be SAO's strongest points. At the very least the main character will strongly resemble Kirito in many important ways. The author apologizes if this is not what you expect to see.

It's September 18th, 2033. A year ago I attended a normal high school, had normal grades, had a normal life. Then one day a fence broke. I fell 5 stories.

While recuperating I began using solely mindnet materials to do everything. My mother and my cute little sister would come talk to me every day while the service bot fed me and took care of my hygiene.

But the service bot is honestly very annoying, and I so requested to be put into a mindnet capsule. As you can imagine, it's a life support device that ensures the well-being of my physical body.

I don't think about my physical body nowadays. Why, when I have monsters to kill.

Clang

My sword parries the sword of the demon in front of me. That large creature, twice my height, swings its two handed sword again from the left side. Despite the size difference, my STR overwhelms his, and with a strong shove, I topple him to the ground.

-Jab

The demon explodes in blood and gore. This is a rated M game afterall, and who tells the truth on the age check anyway.

A shower of light falls from the heavens, bathing my immediate area in gold brightness. Level 30 reached, it says in green letters across the red sky. The interface art and leveling effects in «Sword/Devils Arise»are very polished. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that I literally feel a sublime pleasure coursing through my entire body. It's a fantastic feeling of power and accomplishment.

The level 40+ demons surrounding me closes in. It's a good thing I leveled. My health is restored and even better, I unlocked a new skill. «Sword Lock».

I stab my sword into a demon.

"Activate Sword Lock," I give the voice command, not knowing the shortcut yet.

The sword dulls and expands into giant hooks inside the demon.

"AAAAAAARGGGG."

His demonic jaw extends into a roar of pain. What a cruel torture skill. Like I said, this game is rated M. Using my high STR, I swing my sword with the demon attached left and right. The demons smash into each other like a bunch of bowling pins. Many of them become stunned and drop their weapons.

I convert my sword back into a sword and kill the demon I stabbed. I rush toward the fallen demons, intending to use my «Heavy Sword» skill to finish them off.

A ball of fire hits me in the back and knocks me flat on my face. A flying Wraith type just joined the fray. High above the battlefield, it's glittering white arms move to cast another spell. I can't possibly reach it with my current set of skills.

I barely manage to find the sword I dropped and pick myself up before another flying fireball rushes into my field of view. I dodge it as best I can while quaffing a health potion. It tastes bad; like rum.

"... haahhh... hah.."

More and more monsters surround me.

Fire-type demons of all sorts. There are the two legged ones wielding swords and shields. Others have lances and propel themselves with firetails resembling jet engines.

Then there are the «Roachers». Those things are half my size, heavily armored, and have tentacles that extend deep into the ground making it impossible for me to push them out of the way.

The «Hell Knight» demons on the floor that were disarmed or stunned are picking themselves up. There is normally no way for a single, under-leveled player to beat this huge mob.

This looks really bad. The designer of «Sword/Devils Arise», if he was watching me, would definitely say, that player is going to die.

I walk to the cliff at the edge of the world and look down into a black sea. Each area has its own methods of entering or leaving, and this is the exit from the Fire Demons' base. I jump off into the dark abyss.

My destination is a bucolic, green world.

I smile in satisfaction in getting the win and the 50 kill streak. Then I heave a sigh, I'm really ready for some rest.

This is an easy area with monsters around level 4 or 5. Walking around, you can find NPCs that are ready to give out quests and make demands. There are some with really intricate story options, but I avoid those. It's no use getting bogged down on the story when there are ways to level much easier.

But here is a place where I can smile and relax, and enjoy the beautiful blue sky and the calming feel of the cool wind.

BOOOMP

"AAAHHHHH!"

I barely have time to react before something heavy crashes into me at incredible speed. Well, the speed was fast and I was knocked down, but it didn't really do much to my health.

My hands grip something soft. Squeeze. Huh, what is this feeling...

"What are you doing?"

I look up into the face of the stern guy sitting on top of me. My hands are on his butt.

"Ahh! Sorry."

He nods. His lips quiver like he wants to say something more. He gives me a quick glare before turning around and getting up. "Hmp!" he mutters.

Alto, for that is what is written on as the name on top of his head, is looking into the distance. It is a dirt golem, twice as tall as the «Hell Knights» I faced earlier, and very scary looking. To me it's just another low level monster.

"Kyaaaaah!"

Giving me a backwards glance, Alto starts running towards the golem. The golem has in its grip a girl avatar and is swinging her. It's a pointless move that doesn't do any health damage or cause any negative status effects like stun. It looks strange but isn't effective.

"Kyaaaaah!"

The girl in the golem's hand is tossed into the air and lands on her back a short distance away. The golem starts lumbering toward her.

"Shield Charge!"

A thick and short player named Masato smashes into the golem with his shield. The golem takes a bit of damage but the knockback effect fails.

The golem, who still has most of his health stands within range of the girl on the ground. It draws its arm back for a giant punch.

BOOOMP

I watch the girl jump out of the way at the last second. Dirt and grass flies into the air. But the golem's not done.

The fist that pounded into the ground glows red.

I recognize it now. I never faced it personally, but heard about it through the grapevine. It's the strongest boss monster in the earlier levels. «Dirt Mound Crush».

This party is definitely under equipped. If I don't do something, the girl will die.

I spring into action.

Moments later I feel the golem crumble to my «Snake Sword».

"Whoa, wow." Masato says. "That thing was so strong."

I nod absently-mindedly.

"Are you alright." I say, looking at the girl who was in danger earlier.

I can see her name more clearly now. It's Mari. She's beautiful as only an avatar can be, with long, light hair that swishes a little as she looks about.

She looks up at me with a bit of embarrassment. "Thanks for saving me... Gram-kun," she says, reading my name. Masato jogs over and embraces her with one arm.

"That was awesome! We haven't fought anything that dangerous in this game yet. Fantasy games are pretty sweet."

"So, this is a boss fight," Mari has a smile, "That was... exciting."

"Yeah! Of course you would like it Mari. The modern day games are really engrossing." Masato enthuses.

They strike an interesting contrast appearance-wise, standing together.

"Sorry for not being too helpful back there..."

"You did pretty good as bait. It was because the monster's attention was focused on you that we were able to get the hits in." Alto says.

"But what was with that exaggerated screaming, Kyaa Kyaa the entire time." Masato laughs.

"S-shut-t up! You were yelling so much when that monster first appeared too. You were definitely panicking."

"Yeah... mistake. It's too early to take on this guy. But, it's strange. The quest is not over even though that Dirt thing is dead."

"The quest continues." Alto stands next to me, his eyes looks into nothingness, the tell-tale sign of him examining his internal interface. "There's going to be something more, the next part starts soon."

He smiles. "That last fight got me a little fired up. I can't wait."

"So Gram-kun, how strong are you? What was that move you did?" Masato asks me.

I tell the group a little about my high STR strategy and some of my skills. Masato is very excited to hear this type of talk. He animatedly queries me about the specifics.

"I don't understand everything, but sounds awesome! I wonder if I can try that sort of playstyle?"

"All games have these types of tricks to them. Finding a good strategy early is really powerful." Alto says.

"Right," I say. It seems like Alto-kun is warming up to me.

"So, Gram-kun. Did you do this quest yet?"

I shake my head. "I skipped it."

"Why not do it with us then? I know you're higher level than us but this quest story is interesting isn't it. You have to finish it to unlock later quests anyway."

Masato invites me casually. The truth is I really have no interest in the quest. The story can be picked up by chatting on mindnet, and quests of this type just isn't part of my strategy.

Thinking about it, I'm likely to decline.

I look at the mostly quiet Mari standing next to Masato. Her smile, aimed at Masato, is pretty cute. No, what am I thinking.

"I would feel safer with a higher level with us," Mari says. "I'm not confident about fighting these things but I want to see the end of this story. And Masato here says he's an expert gamer but then he leads us into this situation. Sheesh."

"Hey, I am a really good gamer alright? It's just that these level based games, they really stack the cards against you if you're not leveled," he complains. "If this's an actual sword fighting game I would be the best in no time."

BOOMP.

It's that sound again.

Then the earth splits apart with a crunch and a yawning maw. A big dark canyon appears out of formerly solid ground. Golems, formed out of the grass and the dirt, arise.

I draw my sword. "Hold onto the floor for now," I say at Alto beside me.

Mari and Masato struggle to keep their grip on each other as the earth shake and quake.

"Mari!" Masato yells. A fissure suddenly appears between them. Behind his back, a golem approaches.

I move to intercept.

Too slow!

Poom!

"Ugh", Masato is hit by a punch and thrown.

"Masato!" Mari grips the weak dirt. "Ahh! Help!"

She slips on her poor foothold and begins sliding down into the crevice. I throw myself after her.

-Grasp

I catch her hand just as she's about to fall.

The canyon behind her seems like a long way down.

"Hold on, I'm going to pull you up."

COOOOON

The earth shakes again and the dirt I'm lying on collapse.

"AHHHHHH!"

We fall down. In the corner of my eye I see Alto tumbling into the same trap.

"Just land on me!" I yell at Mari. "I can cushion your fall."

And all of a sudden we stop falling.

"What." Mari looks about, confused.

We didn't land on anything. The sensation of vertigo suddenly ceased. I look up. I can see the cliff that we fell from. It's not getting further away. We're paused in midair.

The bottom of the canyon still seems far away.

"What's going on..."

"Excuse me valued warriors of «Sword/Devils Arise». I have an announcement to make."

I can suddenly see not just Mari and the canyon we're occupying, but buildings. A town square, with Greco-roman structures all around us. A mass of players appear, not wholly visible, but still present in transparent, ephemeral bodies. With relief I spot Mari right beside me. She is as confused as I am.

"Mari! I'm over here!"

I look over and spot a girl with long auburn hair. She's a little shorter than I am and feature B-cup breasts. Her looks do not lose at all to the almost unrealistic beauty of Mari's.

"Alto, why do you look like that."

That's Alto?!

"I don't know what happened, but my avatar suddenly disappear." She, I mean he, no, she, glances at me before turning away. Her voice is now higher, feminine.

What is this.

"All of you have probably noticed that you are back to your own original bodies. I hope you will be more comfortable like this because you will all be here for a little while."

What is that voice saying. Original bodies? But Mari still looks the same. Our eyes meet.

"Ahh," she says. "So that's the real Gram-kun." She looks away shyly.

"Heh." I'm a little embarrassed, my body is a lot thinner than my avatar. I feel a little more conscious of the person besides me. So she is this pretty in real life too.

I try to focus on where the voice is coming from. It's a man, maybe in his 40s, dressed indecorously in a tight t-shirt and swim trunks. He's standing, floating above the town plaza.

"I am «Sword/Devils Arise», its representative. The most important thing you should all know at this point is that you cannot leave. Your life in «Sword/Devils Arise», is now for all of you, Real Life. The mindnet exit command will no longer work."

An uncomfortable feeling wash over me. How could that be.

"You all may have heard of the rumors and conspiracy theories of mindnet brainstealing and neurolocks."

He pauses dramatically.

"You should've believed them, because it is possible! «Sword/Devils Arise» is a trap, and you have all been caught! Now you will all participate in an experiment of ours, through the interface of this game."

Mari gasps.

I hear murmurs all around me, people are checking their mindnet programs and communicating with their AI scripts. None of my mindnet commands are working for me.

"We hope you will all remain in good spirits after you hear the rules and not fall into despair. Keep paying attention because the important bits are coming right up.

THREE RULES!

The first rule is, if you die in the game, you will die physically. The mindnet nanomachines will immediately dismantle and destroy the nerves in your brain. There is no respawn.

Second, there is no outside link. All external mindnet interfaces are cut off, the only people left for you to talk to are other players.

Third, there is a way to end the experiment. There are 5000 «Exit Items», one for each of the invited players. Each item must be blessed at the «Holy Spring» in a Major City. Once all 5000 items are blessed, each item will unlock the mindnet exit command for one use only. Your dashboard will keep track of the «Exit Items» status."

My dashboard, which is an easy summary into my skills, character information, friends and other things, has a new box which shows the «Exit Items» blessing status. 0/5000 it says. With a shock, I notice the text right next to it. YOU HAVE 5 EXIT ITEMS.

I enter into that option.

Exit Item: Sword of Black Light

Exit Item: Enchanted Gloves

Exit Item: Crown of the New Kingdom

Exit Item: Circuit of Relife

Exit Item: Broken Boots Worn by Manlior the Giant

None of these are quest items, or even particularly powerful. They're all just strange, illogically rare, bad items that I picked up in random places.

"Did you get an invitation?" Mari asks, turning to me.

"Yes, about a few weeks ago", I nod.

"I didn't get an invitation from SDA. I joined through Masato's guest pass... How many players do you think are in SDA?"

The guest pass allowed for you and 100 of your friends to join the beta of SDA. The number is very large because SDA is meant to be played in big guilds of friends. That means up to 500,000 players could be here. But that's probably not the case, not all the players used up their passes. I didn't invite anyone.

"Maybe 50,000...?" I say.

"Once all the blessed «Exit Items» have been used, all the remaining players will immediately be killed. Bless their Souls." The man, who calls himself «Sword/Devils Arise», says.

"That's insane!" The mass of players erupt in uproar.

"It's impossible! There's no way you can hold so many people captive."

The players scream and yell at the man angrily.

"50,000," Mari mutters. She stares at him, dazed.

It seems like an unbelievable turn of events. I'm more likely to believe that it's a joke than for it to be something that's actually happening. Is there a way for an organization to actually do this? A neurolock is supposed to be impossible. At the lowest levels your neural interfaces are supposed to be obedient to only you. But then again, removing the mindnet exit command was supposed to be impossible too, and that has demonstrably been rendered false.

But my mother and little sister, surely when they find that they can't contact me would try to get me out of the capsule. Right? It's impossible for this crazy situation to last for any extended amount of time.

"Why are you doing this?" Alto's feminine voice rings out. "What could you be getting from us that's worth the trouble?"

The floating man looks at her, bemused. It doesn't seem like he has any intention of starting a Q&A though.

"You should all take this information seriously. Don't die. A death here would be a waste."

And he grows fainter, fading away. The other players, the plaza join him in disappearing and eventually what is left is only the darkness of the canyon we fell into.

"AHHHHH!"

I can't help but scream as I suddenly resume the fall.

"AAAAHHHHH!"

POOOM!

And suddenly, impact!

"AHHH!" Immense pain shoots up my entire body.

SPIKED FLOORS. SPIKED FLOORS. SPIKED FLOORS. SPIKED FLOORS.

I'm pierced in several places. My health meter collapses, until almost half of it is gone. I'm over-leveled for this area.

Mari!

I raise myself to my knees. Her health is all gone.

to be continued.

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