«Link Start!» Those were the words that began my journey into the world of Sword Arts Online or SAO as critics on both sides of the debate were already calling it.

The ceiling of my apartment disappeared into a strange gray haze all at once as the «NervGear» activated. Before I could spend too much time trying to figure out what was going on a menu popped up in front of me.

The menu immediately displayed «Character Creation» in big letters before changing into a more familiar interface that reminded me of countless mmorpg's I played in the past. Though this interface had a lot more customization available than most.

The first thing I did was set the gender to female. I had played as male a couple times in the past, but the thought of playing as a male in a game that gave sensory feedback just creeped me out. I flipped through the other menu's quickly and quickly hashed out a character based on an old final fantasy favorite of mine. Though this one came out a bit older looking that the original.

I frowned at the character displayed in the mist in front of me, but didn't have the time to fix it if I wanted to make the starting tutorial. So I pressed the next command on the menu. In response it shifted again and then queried, «Character Name?» I quickly entered Lightning and hit enter.

The whole setup froze for a moment and I was worried that someone else had taken the name. I really hoped not. I didn't want to attach a random string of numbers to the back of my character name just because some smuck had beaten me to the punch. I had done it in other games of course, but SAO was the first vmmorpg, things I did without thought in other rpg's seemed somehow wrong here.

Luckily after another moment's delay the screen gave a sharp ping and displayed «Character Creation Complete!»

The world went black and from the darkness a voice boomed out, "Welcome to Sword Arts Online!" I was fairly sure I recognized the voice actor they had hired to make the introductions as Char from the recent Gundam remake, but didn't have time to ponder it long.

The world of Aincrad came to life around me as I formed in the center of starting city in a burst of light. The streets were already bustling with the ten thousand people who had been lucky enough, or rich enough, to get a copy of the game. I was in that second category, though I wasn't particularly interested in disclosing that fact to anyone. But hey whatever I didn't manage to spend frivolously would end up as an endowment to some university or another, so there wasn't really a point in not abusing what my parents had left behind when I could.

Though I was starting to think that SAO hadn't been a frivolous investment at all. The world was rendered a detail I had never imagined before. What's more I could actually smell and touch things, not that «Starting City» had a pleasant smell, but it was still so much amazingly more than I had ever gotten out of a video game before.

But more than that, in this «world», I could stand. For the first time in eight years I was walking, running skipping and jumping around. Sempai had missed a big change to market the «NervGear» to long term care patients. I was definitely going to have to correct that when I logged out.

It was almost enough to inspire me to just spend time in the city viewing the sights, but common sense eventually took over. In an mmo I normally made enough money to satisfy my often ridiculous whims through extensive power trading, but that sort of business required a seed money. Way way more money than the starting 100 col that I had spawned with.

Which all boiled down to one thing, it was time to go grind some mobs. So I equipped the «Rusty Short Sword» that selecting the «One Handed Straight Sword» skill during character creation had earned me. To my surprise the sword just appeared in a deteriorating sheath on my hip in a little blaze of light. I idly wondered if there was a way to change where the weapon appeared and how it was arranged while I walked towards the gates of «starting city».

The grasslands outside weren't what I expected at all. They looked more like a meadow or a green field someone had put out to hunt on than the waist high grass of a real piece of grassland. Though I wasn't about to complain since wading through something like that while fighting wouldn't be fun at all.

A lot of people we're already out on the fields farming the local mobs, a small pig called a frenzy boar, though I thought it looked more like a demonic Pumbaa than any real boar. I spent a moment debating whether or not I should just start whacking the closest one with my sword. I was fairly sure I could kill it even though I didn't really have a clue how to use the game's «sword skills» properly. It was the local equivalent of a slime after all. On the other hand it was the local equivalent of a slime, and dying from one would be really really embarrassing.

The decision was made for me a moment later when a pair of swordsmen walked down the ledge behind me. I couldn't help but here the one with black hair explaining sword skills to the one with pink hair. When they made it to my position the one with black hair asked politely if I was going to kill the nearby boar I had been debating about.

I gestured for him to go ahead before sitting down to watch on the grass of the incline. The black haired swordsman continued to explain things for a bit to his friend before he agroed the boar with a rock. What happened next made me devoutly glad that I hadn't picked a fight with it on my own. Pinky got beaten, badly. And if the shot to Pinky's manhood was any indication frenzy boars had mean streak a mile wide.

After his humiliating encounter the boar broke agro and went back to standing in the grass a few feet away. The boar had taken about a tenth of pinky's health with its charge, but from the shameful way he was lying in the grass whining you wouldn't have guessed. He kept at it until the black haired swordsman finally reminded him that he couldn't feel pain.

I couldn't help but giggle at the way he immediately sat up. Which apparently was more than pinky's ego could take since he shouted back at me at me, "Laugh it up! I bet you can't do any better."

I smirked back at him and stood before unsheathing my sword for the first time. The black haired swordsman gave the blade a funny look and said, "You know you can buy a cheap sword that's twice as good as that wreck in the starting shops right?" I filed away his helpful advice while pointedly ignoring pinky's laughter and settled into a stance.

I nodded for the boy to go ahead and agro the frenzy boar again, and started to run everything I knew about sword skills through my head. First take the initial position. When the boar was six feet away I took the position for one of the fundamental sword skills «Horizontal». Then when you feel the skill start to activate, let it explode. Just as the boar hit the apex of its jump the system dragged me forward in a streak of red light and my sword dug an angry gash in the side of the boar.

It wasn't enough. The boar turned as I stumbled out of the sword skill and started charging towards me again. I steadied myself as quickly as I could and brought my sword high into the initial position of the «Vertical» skill and watched focused on the boar. This time I didn't just let the system pull me along, despite the awkward feeling I put every bit of weight and strength I could behind that slash.

I was rewarded with a shower of glowing polygon's as the boar came apart. A little window popped up in front of me and displayed:

Exp 24

Col 30

Items 2

I stared at the window before pressing the claim button. If something as weak as a frenzy boar was gave out thirty col I was going to need at least fifty thousand col to start power-trading mid tier items. And that was going to take forever unless I got lucky and something dropped a super rare item.

With that in mind I clicked «Items» and the menu expanded to show two «Frenzy Boar Tusks», which looked like vendor trash. Not that I was about to turn them down, every little bit helped.

After dealing with the items I sent pinky a playful smirk, which irritated the man into rushing after another boar to the black haired swordsman's dismay. Though I have to admit the fight went much better for pinky than his first encounter with a boar. He brought it down with a neat combination of diagonal and horizontal that I resolved to remember. After the boar dissolved into another shower of polygons pinky started dancing in joy.

I couldn't help but start humming the final fantasy victory tune. Which earned me a high five from pinky and a confused look from the black haired swordsman. His confusion made me wonder if he was that much younger than me and pinky or if he had just never played rpg's as a child. Even worse I realized that recognizing the tune meant that pinky was probably my age which was a bit disturbing with the way he was acting out.

I frowned a second before smiling. I wasn't nearly hypocritical enough to complain about someone going to an mmorpg for an opportunity to act differently than they had to in the real world. It was why I had bought a vastly overpriced second hand copy of the SAO in the first place after all.

After pinky had finished his dance he gave us both a more serious look and asked, "Hey I'm going to log off in a few moments to eat pizza, do you two mind if I add you to my friends list?" Punctuation the question was a beep from the mail system that read «Friend Request : Kline».

I frowned at it a second before finally just asking, "How did you get my name?"

I got one of those 'are you an idiot' looks that the Japanese seem to specialize in back. I hated those looks, and must have shown it because Kline suddenly got a bit nervous and quickly answered, "Look closely at my health bar."

I did as he asked and after a few seconds of squinting a name appeared in white on top the green bar. I looked over at the black haired swordsman whose health bar eventually revealed to be Kirito. I sent him a friend request before I excepted Kline's.

Friending both of them made sense, Kline's easy going attitude meant he would almost certainly either start or be part of one of the larger guilds in the game, which is where most mid-tier weapon purchases came from. And Kirito seemed like part of the hard core crowd which meant he was a great target for both acquisitions and sales once I had the capital to start power-trading.

Kirito had barely accepted the request when Kline said something that snapped me out of my profiteering thoughts: "Where is the log out button?" The question sent an uncomfortable chill running up my spine. Kirito was trying to help Kline find the button, an attempt that I somehow already knew was useless. The chill running up my spine meant one thing and one thing only, we were about to get screwed.

As if to answer my realization we were all promptly surrounded by boxes of blue light. When the light faded I was in the center of a crowd of thousands. I belatedly realized that the blue boxes were a mass player teleport. And if the whining going on from some people was any indication then their little problem with logging out was the cause.

I briefly thought that if they were going to fix the problem then addressing the player base to prevent a panic was a good move. But that shiver in my spine telling me something was wrong hadn't gone away. Sempai was a perfectionist of the highest order, he wouldn't have made a mistake like this, especially on the launch day. Something like this could make or break the entire vmmorpg genre.

So I stood among the masses and waited for the other shoe to drop. I didn't have to wait long. Red polygons danced in the sky to form a giant hooded figure. Sempai's voice boomed out of the figure, "Player's I welcome you to my world."

The crowd fell silent and the hooded figure continued, "My name is Kayaba Akihiko and I am the only one who can control this world."

That brought out a few whispers that were drowned out when he continued, "I think most of you have discovered the fact that the log out button has disappeared from the main menu. This is not a bug; it is all part of Sword Arts Online's system." I instantly understood what was going on, it had been the plot of enough anime and manga after all. I was now trapped in this «world».

He confirmed it a second later, "Until you get to the top of this castle you cannot log out of your own free will."

"also...the disruption or dismantling of the «NervGear» from the outside is strictly forbidden. If these things are attempted..."

"The sensors in your «NervGear» will emit a strong electromagnetic pulse, destroying your brain and disrupting all of your basic functions."

Sempai's statement sent the crowd into an uproar. People were shouting that sempai's words were impossible, others were affirming that sempai's threat was real. Sempai waited for the mood to build before he continued, "To be a little more specific, disconnection from an outside source of electricity for ten minutes, being cut off from the system for more than two hours or any attempt to unlock, dismantle or destroy the «NervGear». If any of these conditions are met, then the brain destruction sequence will start. These conditions have been made known to the government and the public through mass-media in the outside world. On that note, there have been several cases where the relatives or friends have ignored the warnings and tried to forcefully remove the Nerve Gear. The result..."

I ignored the next line about how people had already died and thought furiously. What sempai was saying was impossible. Rather he was lying. There is a saying in the computer securities business – 'Physical Access is Total Access'. No, sempai wasn't depending on the no doubt excellent securities that he had installed in the «NervGear» at all. The real threat hadn't been so casually announced. A competent team could easily disable a single «NervGear» and let someone escape; then Sempai would activate kill switches in the remaining «NervGear» in retribution. Sempai was holding everyone in the game hostage against the Japanese government to force them into adopting a policy of non-interference.

Sempai's voice boomed out again, "Players, there is no need to worry about the bodies you left on the other side. As of this moment, all TV, radio, and Internet media are repeatedly reporting this situation; including the fact that there have been numerous deaths. The danger of having your Nerve Gear taken off has already all but disappeared. In a moment, using the two hours I have provided, all of you will be transported to hospitals or similar institutes and be given the best treatment. So you can relax... and concentrate on beating the game." I took his statement as a confirmation of my deductions about his real plan to keep the government from interfering. I couldn't help but admire the trap we were all stuck in. The only way to disable his ability to instantly kill all of the players was to disable the central SAO sever. Which if I was correct would leave the government two hours before a piece of code hidden in the firmware of each «NervGear» terminated us all.

Even with the near unlimited resources available to the Japanese government safely removing all ten thousand «NervGear» in two hours while giving sempai no warning was impossible. I wondered what exactly sempai wanted that would drive him to such an extreme.

The giant figure with sempai's voice answered my question. "But I ask of you all to understand that Sword Art Online is no longer a simple game. It is a second reality... From now on, any forms of revival in the game will no longer work. The moment your health reaches zero, your avatar will be gone forever. And your brain will be destroyed by the «NervGear»." It was more than enough for me to piece together sempai's plan. He was just taking the same thing every other game designer did to an extreme. He just wanted his game played to the fullest extent possible.

As though to answer my realization sempai said, "Players, there is only one way to be freed from this game. As I have said before, you must get to the top of Aincrad, the one hundredth floor, and defeat the final boss that resides there. All players still alive at that time will be immediately logged out of the game. I give you all my word."

Thousands of people shouted in protest at once. It was so loud that my ears hurt, making out any single protest was impossible. Sempai let it go on for a moment before he spoke again, "Then I will show you evidence that this is the only reality. In your inventories, there will be a gift from me. Please confirm this."

I did as he asked. There in my inventory next to the pair of boar tusks was a new item called «Hand Mirror». I clicked the use button and a small silver mirror appeared in my hand. It showed my reflection. Not the firm face of my slightly off final fantasy character remake, but the fragile features and the graying blond hair of my real face. I dropped the mirror in shock and stared dimly as it shattered into a little burst of polygons.

The transformation to my real body had cost me more than a few inches. My legs were now the stick figure thin emancipated things they were in the real world. I guessed I should count myself lucky the system hadn't suddenly taken my ability to walk back away from me. I thought I honestly looked a bit unnatural, a normal and well developed thank you very much upper body on that hated pair of stick figure legs. Which made it priority number one to find a pair of pants or some armor that covered my legs.

When sempai said, "You will all most probably be wondering, 'Why? Why am I —the creator of both the Nerve Gear and SAO, Kayaba Akihiko— doing something like this? Is this a sort of terrorist attack? Is he doing this to ransom us?'" I started pushing my way through the mass of players around me. My need to find myself some clothes was more pressing than the desire to learn anything else from sempai's little speech.

I managed to push my way into a little npc store on the side of the great plaza where the players were gathered. The store was nice if cramped, almost every surface was covered with items or a shelf that held more items. If the sheer variety of items was any indication then the store didn't specialize in anything at all, which made it perfect for what I needed.

The npc inside was a small women, even smaller than me, who was sleeping quietly leaned up against the counter. I thought it was kind of adorable, especially when I got close and she woke with a start. She stared at me for a second and blushed a bit before speaking in a rush, "Welcome to Samson's Second-Hand Supplies. Samson isn't here right now, but I'd be happy to help you-."

Whatever else she was going to say was drowned out by sempai's voice, which somehow seemed even louder inside the shop. "None of these is the reason I am doing this. Not only that, but now for me, there is no longer a reason or a purpose in doing this. The reason is because... this situation itself was my purpose in doing this. To create and watch this world is the only reason I have created the Nerve Gear and SAO. And now, everything has been realized."

I ignored sempai's statement and addressed the npc, "I would like to buy a pair of pants and some starter armor. A cheap sword would be nice too if you have it."

The npc seemed a bit over excited when she answered, "I have just the thing!" She rushed over to one of the piles and yanked on a strap sticking out half way up it. I moved just in time to save the girl from being buried by the pile when it predictably came down right on top of her. I had to fight back the desire to roll my eyes. This shop keeper was totally meant to play on someone's fetish.

The girl blushed even more and stammered, "Thank you honored customer!" before springing to her feet and placing the sword on the counter before running to one of the shelves. While I tried to keep an eye on the npc in case I need to save her again sempai's last words boomed through the air, "...Now, I have finished the official tutorial for «Sword Art Online». Players—I wish you luck."

I wondered if that was an honest wish while the npc assembled the rest of my order, miraculously without any further accidents. The npc finally assembled a sizable stack of items on the counter before in turned to me and said, "We didn't have any pants in your size, I picked out a couple long skirts that I thought looked nice instead."

I wasn't actually sure how to respond to that. It sent me in a brief loop where I wondered exactly how developed the npc AIs actually were. The npc shopkeeper cut off my thoughts before I could really get going though. "Umm the total is one hundred and five col."

A trade window popped up in front of me with a sharp ping and I depleted almost all of my available funds on a «Well Maintained Leather Vest», a «Old War-sword», and three «Long Skirts» in different colors.

And after an embarrassing half nude moment which will never ever be mentioned again, I managed to figure out how to use my inventory to change clothes. I left the «Rusty Short Sword» in my inventory instead of selling back to the npc. I had heard that weapons were breakable in this game and the worst thing I wanted to do was end up somewhere without a weapon.

I spent a few moments getting used to the unfamiliar restriction of the vest that fit a bit too tightly over my chest, and the much heavier weight of my new sword. The skirts werewolf bad at all though. Though I thought the gray one I was wearing looked like something from a time when showing ankles was scandalous; they didn't impede my movement at all. And more importantly you couldn't see my legs because of them.

After I felt comfortable in my new equipment I bid the clumsy npc a good day and walked out of the shop and right into another player. We sprawled out comically on the stone of the great plaza to the amusement of the very few that we're collected enough to laugh. I pushed myself off of the gaunt faced and silver haired man and wondered if the accident was karma for silently laughing at the clumsy shopkeeper.

I gave the man a helping hand and took a good look at him for the first time. The first thing I did was look at his health bar for a name, Heathcliff. He was tall, easily a foot taller than me, and had the slim but well developed muscles you would expect out of an athlete. Even more than that though, he was inexplicably familiar too me. Something inside of me insisted that I should recognize the man standing in front of me.

The sense of familiarity increased when he gave me an easy smile, and promptly apologized for running into me.

I denied any blame he placed on himself of course. It had obviously been my fault for rushing out of the store like an idiot. Though I certainly wasn't above using the whole thing as an excuse to invite myself along with Healthcliff. I'm not sure exactly why I wanted to go with him. It might have been that nagging sense of familiarity or it might have been the way he moved with a certain purpose, but either way we we're soon out on the fields again.

Once we were out of the earshot of most he said, "These fields are going to fill up with players soon. They're going to over farm the frenzy boars increasing the re-spawn time of the monster population." I could see his point, the boars we're going to bottleneck player progress, which meant the best way to advance quickly would be to find another farming location well away from the starting city. Which was obviously the point he was trying to convey in the first place. So I asked, "Are we just going to wander through the woods until we find another town?"

He shot me a conspirators grin and said, "Well we could do that, but I just happened to come across some great info back in starting city...the location of this floor's second town." I really really doubted that he had 'just come across' info like that. An mmorpg was a fight over resources and info like that wasn't something that people would just give out. Which meant Heathcliff was almost certainly one of the lucky few who had gotten into the beta test for sword art online.

Which stumped me because I didn't know anyone in the real world who had gotten into the beta test and Heathcliff was definitely familiar. We walked together across the field, ignoring the boars. We weren't the only one's out there of course. Though we had beaten the main rush from starting city, there were a few already out on the field farming and I caught glimpses of people moving through the woods ahead of us. I took that as an indication that Heathcliff was leading us in the right direction at least.

Once we we're in the woods he paused to tell me, "Be careful in here. The wolves here are a lot stronger than the boars on the field, and even worse they will agro on sight." I nodded that I understood and we continued. It didn't take long for the wolves to find us.

And Heathcliff hadn't lied when he said that the wolves were a lot tougher than the boars outside. I almost died to the first wolf we saw. It had sneaked up on us using the clumps of underbrush that dotted the forest floor. The first indication that we had of the threat was the dull thump of it pouncing.

Faster than I could follow Heathcliff had his sword out and took a step in front of me. He caught the now snarling wolf against the flat of the blade and sent it tumbling back on the ground. Instead of going after it though he shouted «Switch!». It took an embarrassingly long time for someone of my staggering intellect to figure out what he meant. The wolf was already back on its feet by the time I had gotten my sword out of its sheath.

In a moment eerily reminiscent of my earlier encounter with the frenzy boar I caught the wolf with a «horizontal» just as it began to jump. It didn't even send the little monster into the yellow. It turn to get another shot at me before I could recover from using the sword skill, but Heathcliff was there with another shout of «Switch!». We swapped back and forth throughout the fight, each covering while the other was recovering from a sword skill.

Not that the wolf went down quietly, by the time it at last dissolved into a little shower of polygons I was in the yellow and even Heathcliff had lost a sizable chunk of his health. We were rewarded with almost three times the experience and col that the frenzy boars rewarded.

Heathcliff smiled at his own battle results screen and claimed his rewards with a beep before he clinched his left hand into a little fist. At that gesture my whole world snapped into clarity. I suddenly knew exactly why Heathcliff seemed so familiar.

He had already continued walking when I finally worked up the courage to shout, "Sempai wait!"

He froze at the sound and slowly turned around to face me while mouthing, "Sempai?" It took him a moment to recover, but he quickly said, "Excuse me, I think you must have mistaken me for someone else"

I smirked internally at the reply. It was all the confirmation that I needed. A normal person would have just thought I was calling him sempai because he looked slightly older than me. But Heathcliff had immediately jumped to the conclusion that I knew him from outside. I sent him a smirk and said, "Even if you change your face it doesn't matter to someone like me. Your manner of speech, your body language, even that habit of clenching your left hand when you feel particularly satisfied, they all tell me you are definitely Kayaba-sempai."

I desperately wished for some way to record the famous or more likely by this point infamous Kayaba Akihiko gape like a carp. The he closed his mouth with a click and asked something that through me a in a loop, "...Who are you?"

I couldn't deny that I was disappointed by that reply, and a little of it might have seeped into my normally disparaging introduction, "You don't recognize me? .. Yeah I guess I'm not that special at all. I'm Catherine Linton. I'm a transfer who is a year your junior at the university; I'm in the doctorate game design club with you, not that you show up for club meetings all that often. -"

A red window popped up in front of him and he cut off my rambling. "I can't afford to let knowledge of who I am spread. It's unfortunate -"

I might have been a little miffed that he had cut me off earlier so I returned the favor before he could give me a villain speech, "Why would I want to do something like that?"

That through him in another loop and for the second time in as many minutes I really wished I had a way to record this. Sempai let out an accidental, "Wha-"

But I cut him off again, "This world that Kayaba-sempai made for us, I want to experience it to the fullest."

He sent me a look that was one step short of openly questioning my sanity. After a moment he recovered enough to ask, "Don't you want to escape?"

Even to me my voice sounded a bit coy when I answered him, "Hmm... I'm a very selfish person sempai, because I don't have anything like family left in that world, I can't really relate with those who are desperately trying to return to the people they love. Because my fear of death has already been stripped from me, the chance of death in this world is meaningless. This world you've made for us...I think it will be a good place to die in sempai." I blinked at my own words, that was way more than I had really wanted to say. I idly wondered why I had told him everything while Heathcliff stared back at me, obviously trying to figure out what to do with me.

Eventually he clicked a button on the screen and the world dissolved in blue light. I wondered for a moment if sempai had killed me after all. It was a shame, I had been almost certain he wouldn't. The the light faded and I was in a unfamiliar room. It was a large oval, big enough to hold hundreds, and it was more opulent that anything I had ever seen before. The floor was some red stone polished to mirror brightness and the domed ceiling held a fantastic mural. The whole thing reminded me of a trip to Italy I had made in my second year of high school.

The room was empty except for a single monstrous throne of carved red stone and crystal that reached from floor to ceiling. I belatedly realized what this room must be and mumbled, "This place is-"

"The boss room of Scarlet Jade Castle, the 100th floor of this «world» where the players will face off against the final boss of SAO, «The Holy Sword, Heathcliff»." Though I took careful note of what sempai said my primary concern was that sempai had interrupted me again. I would definitely have to find a way to get him back for that.

I walked over to one of the the rooms windows and took in the breathtaking view of the hundredth floor before I asked, "So am I going to play princess in the tower for the players to rescue one day?" I paused to take a breath then teased him, "Would that make you the evil prince that locked me away because he was so entranced by my beauty." He didn't laugh, which was good because I don't think I could have handled it after the day I already had had.

Instead he shrugged, "I don't actually know. I didn't really expect anyone to figure out who I was one the first day of the game. How did you get a copy anyway? I made sure that no one who might know me were able to get one of the first release copies."

I shrugged at him and answered, "Sempai half of those copies were resold at inflated prices within moments of purchase. Thinking otherwise is naïve." I gestured out the window and said, "This place is beautiful."

He smiled at the comment. "Thank you. This is one of the floors I personally developed instead of just using the randomization features of the «seed»." We both looked out the window before he finally asked, "When you bought the game what did you want out of SAO?"

I thought quietly for a few moments before answering, "That's hard to say. A new experience, anonymity...and a few other things. Maybe even that new reality you talked about in your little tutorial." I really hoped he didn't ask about the other things. Not that I was ashamed of my problems, but it was always awkward to explain. So I quickly asked him a question of my own, "So are the players meeting your expectations."

"Well current company excluded, they are. Almost seven thousand of the player base have ventured outside of the starting city, though most of those are farming the frenzy boar in impractically large groups. A couple hundred have even found there way to other villages and are rapidly increasing their levels."

The coping part of the comment was enough to abruptly remind me that I was talking to a man who could casually sentence thousand to death for his game. I wondered why it didn't bother me more, sociopathy wasn't normally one of the host of mental problems I had. Maybe their deaths just didn't seem real to me.

We stood near that window and talked for what seemed like hours. Through out the conversation I was struck by the strange contrast between how sempai acted and what he had actually done. When Sempai left me on the edge of the forest outside of «Horunka Village» in the dead of night I didn't feel anything like hatred for the man who had trapped us in this world. Rather I felt an overwhelming urge to understand everything about him.

Though despite everything, for a while, I wasn't sure why he trusted me not to spill his identity. I certainly would have been more careful if I were in his place. It took a disgustingly long time for the explanation to occur to me. In this «world» sempai was «God». The truth didn't matter at all because with the power of «God» sempai could change the truth to satisfy his needs.

I was shaken out of my musings by a sharp bing. My menu flashed into existence in front of me and told me in cheery text «Skill Acquired!». I dutifully opened my skill menu and stared, because there was a third skill slot. Since I was a long way from the tenth level to required to normally unlock the third skill slot according to the manual it could only be one thing. A «Special Skill» unlocked through a unique event. Obviously my little chat with sempai was the only thing 'unique' that had occured, so I frowned at the slot form a moment and wondered what sempai thought he was doing. Him cheating for me was the last thing I wanted.

So with trepidation I touched the empty slot and stared at the window that popped up. Then I started laughing. My earlier musings just made it too funny; the window had a single skill that I could equip, the unique skill «God's Knight». I laughed and laughed at sempai's ego and the world that made it truth. After I had scared away the few other players in earshot, I smiled and equiped the skill. I would be sempai's knight for as long as he wanted me.

A/N General:

Yes yes I know most of you want me to finish the first half of Danzo's team before I get distracted by something else. Sorry about that, the next chapter is almost done, I just need to work on Kabuto's role a bit more before I'm satisfied by it. You will definitely see it by next Monday. (The one in November, not the one tomorrow.)

I read the SAO light novels over the weekend and really wanted to write this. SAO is kinda a neat subject to write fanfiction for since it lends itself so well to both OCs and first person fics, which I have wanted to try writing for awhile.

This story, should it become more than a oneshot (Likely) will mostly focus on the OC's relationship with Heathcliff since he is in my opinion by far the most interesting character in SAO. Kayaba is simultaneously a swell guy and a mass murder and its a shame that the sort of psychosis that drives someone to act like that wasn't properly examined in the LNs.

I'm not sure if this will end up as a love story or not. On one hand I don't normally write anything romantic and it would be kinda interesting to write like that for once. On the other hand both the OC here and Kayaba are incredibly messed up people and I'm not sure I could portray that properly if I was also trying to build a relationship. Oh well we will see.

I'm not actually sure what the rules for the «» are, if someone would be kind enough to explain when exactly they are supposed to be used I would be really grateful.

A/N Chapter:

Kept randomly slipping back into third person when I wrote this, hope I fixed everything.

I'm not sure how I feel about SAO's unique skills. On one hand they basically scream mary-sue, or at least that was the feeling I got when I read the LNs, on the other hand they really do help the main characters stand out.

«God's Knight» will pass along a couple of lightning's staples from ff13-2 including blitz, armor break, smite, launch and army of one. It might or might not allow the whole control a monster after you kill it thing depending on what mood I'm in when I come back to this fanfic.

Thanks for reading and remember I love reviews, even negative ones.