Gun Gale Online: Erebus

Summary: Kayaba Akihiko once dreamed of actualizing a world of swords, a floating castle, a fictional fantasy. But people change and Kayaba is no exception. Players welcome to Gun Gale Online where guns rule supreme and swords are obsolete... well unless you're Kirito that is. KiritoxSinonxHarem

An alternate reality where instead of SAO it was GGO that was released as the first VRMMORPG.

Sorry about the late update...hahaha I just suddenly was obsessed with other animes and school happened. Also semester exams sucks. From now on I won't make any promises on when I will update, too high of a risk that I won't make it.

Author Note: Okay, so thanks to majority vote- and some personal motivation from ToumaFF's chat group and my own thought- I have decided to rewrite it. And in my personal opinion this will have a darker tone.

Hope you enjoy!

Talking-"Kirito-kun"

Thoughts-'Kyaa!?'

Game Terms-«Photon Blade: Hades»

System Announcement/Private Messages- -congratulations-

Passive Skills: Divinity

Disclaimer: I do not own Sword Art Online wish I did though. Also will also used a bit of Kayaba Akihiko's translated speech from Baka-Tsuki but only this once.

Prologue: Prelude to Darkness


It was 22 September 2022, the last day of the beta testing for the new «VRMMORPG», «Gun Gale Online».

The genius Kayaba Akihiko had created the machine known as Nerve Gear, a device that literally placed you into virtual reality where you played the game while your real body laid motionless.

And to go along with the new machine, Argus, the company that Kayaba worked for and that helped to create the Nerve Gear, announced the release of «Gun Gale Online», more commonly known as GGO.

However there would be only a maximum number of forty thousand Nerve Gears made, which meant that only forty thousands players would be able to get their hands on a Nerve Gear upon their release and the game's official launch on November 22nd, 2022. However five hundred people were chosen to beta test the new game, in other words they had a sneak peak at the game where guns ruled the apocalyptic land of GGO.

And today was the last day of the beta test.

-line break-

"Hey Captain how much longer are we going to take to get to our destination?" A single player dressed and equipped like soldier and holding an assault rifle weapon, one of a group of five trekking back towards «Starting City», questioned.

"Shut up! We'll get there when we get there." A gruff voice called out from the apparent captain of the group.

Soon jeers were called out from the other thee members of the party to shut the lone player up as well, as his yapping had gotten on their nerves.

Of course across the barren and desolate continent that was the setting of GGO, about ninety meters away, the two players watching the group of five could not hear this.

Only one of them was standing. At first glance most people would believe the standing person to be female. But that player wasn't female, it was a male player named «Kirito».

Kirito's avatar was of about average height, though quite skinny, and had waist length long hair, a delicate face, lush lips, and black orbs that held a tint of mischief.

The black haired male wore a long black coat over his black shirt and pants along with a chest guard. A black utility belt hung around his waist, wrapped around the outside of the coat. On it was his «Kagemitsu G4», one of the game's strongest weapons, but at the same time one of the game's few close range melee weapons. It had taken Kirito almost all of his savings to buy it just two days earlier. To some it would be foolish, however to Kirito, a real life kendo champion who was able to predict the «bullet lines», the Kagemitsu G4, or more commonly called the Photon Sword, was a valuable tool that the black haired swordsman used to slice his opponent's bullets in half and strike them down in one hit. It was his replacement weapon for the «Kagemitsu G1», a weaker version of the G4 with about one fourth of its strength that could be attained at the beginner's shop. In fact, thanks to the ability to cut down bullets he had gained in the game he had won the kendo championship, something that pleased his grandfather very much. On the other side of the belt was the «Desert Eagle Mark I», one of the most powerful handguns attainable at the current moment. It was by no means the strongest, but for now the Desert Eagle was sufficient.

The player next to Kirito was laying on her stomach, aiming at the group of players with the «M40A3 Rifle». As a rifle with over a nine hundred meter range, sniping targets a mere ninety meters away from the target was child's play for any «sniper type» player, even more so for the one known as «Sinon».

Sinon, unlike Kirito, laid on her stomach with her left eye closed and her right eye peering into the scope, right at the leader's head. She wore a pure white scarf stained only by the single ebony line running from one tip to the other, short black shorts, a white tank top made of same reflective material as her scarf, covered by a black jacket, along with black stockings and black combats boots.

Generally «sniper type» players were exceptionally rare, and the reason wasn't because of the shortage of «rifle type» weapons. Rather it was because no one could actually snipe accurately in this virtual reality.

Why?

Because of Kayaba's obsession with creating a perfect reality, sniping was just as hard as it was in real life, possibly even harder. The Nerve Gear even took the player's heart rate into account.

For a player to snipe successfully, he or she must press the trigger at the perfect moment, right after the heart beat or it would alter the trajectory of the bullet. For most players their heartbeat would speed to the point that they wouldn't get a chance to pull the trigger due to the speed of the beat.

However Sinon was different. Unlike most others, she was a machine, a machine made of ice.

Sinon slowly breathed out and in as her sniper-scope followed the leader of the other group. "Kirito, we'll engage the players in six hundred seconds."

Kirito nodded his head as he started to run. There was an unspoken message between them, when Sinon said that they'd engage the players, what she meant was that she'd snipe the leader down and Kirito had five minutes to get to the ambush point and wait for the group.

Dashing towards the designated point, his body nearly touching ground, Kirito looked like a black blur moving through all the stray rocks and rubble along the landscape. It was necessary to run in such a fashion because if Kirito kept his head high he would've been easily spotted, and an easier target that did happen.

'Good one minute to spare.' Kirito thought as he checked the digital clock that could be turned on in the player's view by configuring the settings.

Leaning on the giant slab of rock that obscured the other group's view on him, Kirito unhooked the Photon Sword with his right hand and pulled out the Desert Eagle with his left. Slowly his breathing quieted and his alertness increased.

One could say this was Kirito's «Battle Mode». Unlike just slowed down her heart and adopted a more rational line of thought, Kirito's battle mode made his eyes lose all of their playfulness, instead gaining an eerie gleam that spoke of bloodlust. Of course that wasn't all that changed, his perception of time seemed to speed up, making everything around him slow down, and his mind followed a more ruthless train of thought.

Kill or be Killed.

That was Kirito's principle in this death game.

Kirito narrowed his eyes as his ears picked up the faint sound of feet stomping...quietly he adjusted his position to face the general direction of the sound, resting his thumb on the photon sword's trigger.

The footsteps were getting louder, they were still quiet, but to Kirito their sound was akin to a behemoth's stomping.

3

2

1

Bang!

"Riodao!"

A distressed call reached Kirito's ears as Sinon's bullet reached its mark.

"Guys don't panic get into forma-"

The player never had the chance to finish as Kirito leaped out from behind the rock. With a simple downward slash of his activated photon sword, the player's health dropped to zero in an instant.

The sound of glass shattering could be easily heard as the rest of the players stared, dumbfounded, at Kirito, whether out of surprise at the sword user's sudden ambush or shock at the most recent death was not known, perhaps a little bit of both.

Kirito smirked as he took the opening without a second thought and cut down the second person.

The final two players of the group finally snapped out of their stupor and aimed their assault rifles at Kirito.

The sound of bullets leaving the two rifles disrupted the eerie silence of the otherwise quiet and desolate land.

However Kirito, having already expected that, once again dashed, only this time it was not at them but away from them in a zigzagging pattern. Of course he couldn't run forever, and he knew that. With a sharp turn Kirito hid behind one of the rocks that made a natural shield against the bullets.

It wasn't much longer until the two remaining players stopped firing, and despite their best attempt to creep towards Kirito, they might as well have been stomping towards the black-garbed swordsman.

Bang!

Unfortunately for the two players they had totally forgotten about the sniper that took out their leader. In their fear of Kirito they had forgotten to factor in Sinon, and that had cost them.

"Zeke!" The last remaining player called out in shock at the disappearing polygons of what was once his friend.

Suddenly the man's eyes widened (not that you could tell since a gas mask was covering his face) as he remembered the swordsman, "Shit!" hoping that his last ditch maneuver would kill the swordsman, he pressed the trigger of his rifle at the general that Kirito was hiding in.

However to his surprise no one was in front of him. 'Something's wrong, why didn't he kill me when I was distracted? Something's not right.' "I know you're there! Come out!"

Suddenly he saw a black blur towards his left, quickly aiming his rifle towards the left he fired and to his shock the swordsman sliced the bullet with a diagonal downward slash, seemingly without effort.

But the player kept shooting, knowing he would undoubtedly be PKed if he didn't. However it didn't matter to Kirito, who had two months of experience slicing bullets apart with his sword. So with narrowed eyes Kirito focused all his attention onto the moving projectiles. His arm blurred as it sliced the majority of them apart; the ones that weren't cut flying past him harmlessly.

It was just over too quickly and before the man knew it, the swordsman's photon sword had already sliced him in half.

'Thanatos...'

That was the last thought that lingered in the soon to be dead player's head as Kirito's face was burned into his mind at his last moments.

-line break-

«Starting City», as its name implies, was the starting point of the game, the place where beginning players first spawn, and also the largest city discovered so far, going about ten kilometers in diameter.

But right now, it was quite deserted, due to the fact that the beta test was almost over and not many players were left. It wasn't that they didn't care for the game, but being forcibly ejected from the virtual world wasn't a pleasant feeling, something all the beta players learned the hard way when the server crashed on accident near the beginning of the beta.

But that wasn't a concern for Kirito and Sinon at the moment as they walked side by side through the streets. As they walked, the remaining players made a wide berth for the duo.

It wasn't because of their beauty, hell if it was they would've been swamped with guys (some of which would be disappointed or even devastated when they found out Kirito-chan was actually Kirito-kun). No, the reason for the wide berth was due to their (in)famous status as Gun Gale Online's strongest «Player Killers», not that Kirito and Sinon were bothered by that much.

"So...today's the last day of the beta..." Kirito started awkwardly.

Sinon stayed silent as she continued to walk side by side.

Kirito just sighed at Sinon's silence, they were partners yes, but that didn't mean they were close friends. The only reason they worked together was because «Argo the Rat» introduced them, and the fact that their strategy made them the most feared PKers in all of GGO.

But other than that they were complete strangers, well not that it was surprising considering this was a MMORPG where you could becomes friends with someone you knew nothing about. But this wasn't just any MMORPG, this was a VRMMORPG, like a second reality. Sometimes Kirito would wonder if their partnership or even the small amount of friendship they formed was real.

"Kirito-kun..."

You could almost hear Kirito's neck snap due to the speed that he turned his head in surprise at Sinon's choice of words. Sinon never used the suffix of -kun ever with his name, in fact she hardly outright said his name.

"We'll meet again in the opening right?" Sinon by now had completely stopped and stood facing Kirito directly, a motion which Kirito unconsciously copied.

Kirito for his part was quite flabbergasted at Sinon's tone of voice. The normal Sinon was a calm, collected, and cool type of person. However Kirito could tell by her body language ,whether it was an unconscious or conscious effort, that Sinon was actually very defensive. Even her own voice hid her feelings, concealing her true self to him.

Kirito inwardly smiled sadly at that, the similarity of her mask to his was remarkable. The only difference was that his mask was one in real life.

"Yes, of course"

But at this moment the normally emotionless Sinon seemed so weak, oh so very weak before Kirito.

It just didn't seem to fit with the machine made of ice that Kirito usually worked with, but somehow to Kirito this was the real Sinon, covered by the barrier of ice.

"You aren't lying right?" Sinon's voice held an edge that wasn't present before even when they hunted other players together.

Looking into Sinon's eyes that seemed to resemble the eyes of a cat that was staring intently at something dangling before her but was too far away to reach, Kirito's eyes twitched as he could almost see Sinon's phantom cat ears twitching as she asked the question.

Kirito resisted the urge to pet her head no matter how much he wanted to, because if he did he would probably earn a bullet between his eyes and nothing, not even the city's crime prevention code, would stop Sinon if she were to do that.

So Kirito just smiled, "Of course. Well unless you change your username, but I'm sure I can pay Argo to find you again."

Sinon's raised one of her eyebrows as she stared at the male player before her, "You know Argo is probably going to charge you a fortune for the information."

Kirito chuckled as he heard this, "Even if it costs me all of my credits to find you, it would be worth it. We're friends after all."

Sinon's eyes widened at Kirito's words, she was stunned at what her partner said. Before she schooled her features again and smiled back. "You better, or else you might find a bullet between your eyes."

This time it was Kirito's turn to widen his eyes. Sure, Sinon had smiled in front of him before, but all those times were smirks or forced smiles that didn't reach her eyes. But this time, despite the same cool looking air around her, her smile seemed to come from her heart.

Despite this, Kirito smirked as a wicked entered his train of thoughts. Without warning Kirito hugged Sinon with a full body hug, greatly surprising the female. "You know Sinonon if you smile like that, guys are going to flock you like pests."

Kirito then stepped back as he watched Sinon's reaction, his body was tense and ready to scram at a moment's notice.

Sinon for her part just stood there stunned until her brain finally processed what Kirito had just done and said to her.

Her reaction was something that Kirito hadn't predicted, Sinon's face blushed madly as her brain finally finished comprehended what the boy had done.

Kirito for his part was surprised at Sinon's reaction, never in his dreams did he expect the girl before him to blush like that.

"Ki-k-Kiri-KIRITO!"

Ah, that was Kirito's signal to run for his life, and of course without wasting a moment that was just what he did.

"Come back here asshole and stay still!"

"No way! I want to live!"

"Then maybe you should have thought about that before you hugged me!"

Despite all the shouting the two were smiling, their eyes shining in delight.

-line break-

In a darkly lit bedroom the Nerve Gear's green LED lights flashed several times before it completely stopped, showing that the console was shut down.

With little difficulty the fourteen year old girl took off the machine and laid it on the table next to the bed she was on. The female had short black hair with her bangs slightly longer than the rest of her hair, black eyes, and a face that one could describe as doll like.

Her name was Asada Shino, otherwise known as Sinon in Gun Gale Online.

Turning her head she looked at the clock, "Eleven fifty-nine huh?" the black haired girl said aloud to herself.

With a tired sigh, the girl snuggled under her bed covers and tried to sleep purposely not bothering to brush her teeth and the other actions she should have done before going to bed, but Shino was just too tired and her mind too occupied to bother doing such trivial stuff, besides, not doing it once or twice wouldn't hurt.

We're friends after all

We're friends after all

We're friends after all

We're friends after all

We're friends after all

We're friends after all

We're friends after all

We're friends after all

We're friends after all

We're friends after all

Those words, along with the image of the long haired avatar of the boy, kept replaying in her mind over and over again.

Shino curled into a small ball as she kept replaying that scene over and over again. Never in her dreams did she think that anyone would say those words to her again. Ever since that incident she had believed she'd never hear them again, even in a game.

Suddenly the cold hand of the devil's advocate clamped onto her heart.

"What if Kirito founds about my sins!?"

"What if he doesn't want to be friends anymore!?"

"What if he condemns me!?"

"What if..."

"What if..."

"What if..."

That night Sinon fell asleep between the warmth of Kirito's words and the fear of his rejection.

It was strange how one statement could evoke such contradicting comfort and fear into a single person.

-line break-

Kirigaya Kazuto yawned as he tried to pay attention to class and not doze off due to his lack of sleep...that or the teacher had the unique skill to bore students to death just by mere presence, as evident by the nodding heads of the other students in the classroom.

It wasn't the onyx eyed fourteen year old's fault that he was very busy yesterday, to the point that he couldn't go to sleep until eleven fifty-nine...playing GGO...

Indeed Kirigaya Kazuto was the player known as Kirito in GGO. Much like his avatar, Kirito showed the same bishounen look that he had within in the game, only he wasn't as thin and had shorter hair that barely reached past his chin.

Speaking of which, he should really get a haircut, otherwise Kazuto was well on his way to emulate his avatar's looks, whether the boy knew it or not.

DING~ DONG~

Luckily for Kazuto and his classmates, they were saved by the bell.

Wasting no time Kazuto packed his material efficiently and as fast as possible. Unfortunately for him, it wasn't fast enough.

"Hey Kazuto-san are you busy today? Want to go to the arcade with us?"

A nondescript and unimportant male classmate asked the boy. If a bystander were to see it, they would be confused as to why a male about a few years older than Kazuto would ask him that, or even the fact that Kazuto looked a few years younger than all the other students in the same classroom.

The reason was simple, Kirigaya Kazuto was a natural genius, which allowed him to skip a few years of school thanks to his fast learning pace. But that wasn't all, since a month ago when Kazuto became the youngest kendo champion at age fourteen, his classmates' attitude, which had been borderline dislike due to him being the teacher's favorite and the fact that they were envious of his genius, made a one-eighty degree turn. Now they all wanted to become his friend, most likely because of the fame that went along with being his friend.

"Sorry, but I have to pick my sister today" Kazuto excused himself once again with an awkward smile.

In fact that was his most common excuse since it was technically true, but this happened only recently. In fact his sister, Kirigaya Suguha, didn't even really need to be picked up by him.

"Ah that's fine, maybe next time then." Kazuto's classmate replied and he waved his arm nonchalantly and walked back towards his friends.

Sighing in relief Kazuto slung his school bag along with his shinai holding bag that contained his two shinais and walked through the doors.

Kazuto's school wasn't anything special, you could call it an average school with just its looks. If there was one thing that was uncommon about it, it would be the fact that the high school had a junior high school building on the same campus.

-line break-

Shino tried to suppress her whimper, but nonetheless it still escaped her lips that were covered by her white muffler. Currently she had just been shoved into the wall of an alley by three of her classmates who were wearing the same type of uniform as her, except that their skirts were far shorter.

The leader of the three girl gang was called Endou, and ever since the robbery incident in which Shino had killed the robber in self defense, she had been the bane of Shino's existence.

No amount of words could describe the single life changing event that the black haired girl had experienced two years ago.

Ever since that event, her life had taken a turn for the worst. Her old friends broke their bond of friendship, she was ostracized, and now Endou and her gang was stealing money from her.

"Come on bitch, give us the money!"

Shino scrunched her eyes and she shook her head negatively with all her might despite the fact that Endou was forcing Shino against the wall by grabbing her collars.

Suddenly a cruel glint entered the bully's eye and mocking smile made its way to her face, which was heavily covered with makeup, as she she pointed her left hand at Shino's temple, her fingers in the shape of a gun.

"Bang!"

A blood curdling scream rang out as Shino was forcibly reminded of her trauma. Her body was trembling all over as he lost all the strength in her feet and slid down against the wall, her her eyes frantically darting around.

Shino's body was chilled with fear and her heart beating rapidly, this was Asada Shino's true face. A little girl with hoplophobia so much unlike Sinon the sniper made of ice who could slow down her heartbeat at will.

Attempting to look sinister the three girls moved in closer towering over Shino. If any competent villain were to see this, they would cry at how horribly they were failing at being evil.

But to Shino, whose irrational fear of guns had already clamped its cold hands on her heart, the towering girls were striking indescribable fear into her heart.

"Hey, what are you girls doing?" A silky voice containing no small amount of confidence made the girls pause in their assault.

In fear the three girls quickly turned around, only to laugh at the person who asked the question.

Said person was about their age, black haired, black eyed, and obviously male. But he looked quite feminine.

"Go away if you know what's good for you pretty boy." Endou growled, not liking the fact that she had been scared out of her wits by a weak looking boy.

"Let me think about...how about no." The boy fearlessly replied as he stared Endou square into the eye.

Endou flinched at the intensity of the boy's stare. Growling in irritation she took out a taser. Shino briefly wondered how she came into possession of it, but quickly threw the question out; no doubt her irresponsible brother gave it to her. No matter how she acted, Endou wasn't stupid enough to try to fight a boy straight on. A male's body naturally had more strength than girls no matter how feminine he looked.

With small battle cry Endou charged at the boy, Shino closed her eyes, ignoring Endou's lackeys cheering. She didn't want to see the boy tased because of her.

"GAH!"

There was a cry of pain alright, but to Shino's surprise it was Endou's high pitched voice that cried out.

Opening her eyes, they widened to see Endou clutching her hand in pain and the boy holding an oddly black colored shinai in his right hand. Looking at his left, Shino could clearly see the boy's kendo bag. It was unzipped.

"What are you two doing? Get him!" Endou ordered her two lackeys furiously.

The two girls, like the idiotic counterparts of two certain wizard brutes of a blonde asshole, nodded and each took out a taser, no doubt given to them by Endou.

Warily the two girls inched closer to the black haired boy, who didn't seem to be worried at all. Instead he wore a pleasant smile, which was far more menacing than Endou's sinister smirk, or rather her attempt at one.

The two girls charged at the boy in unison, however quicker than the eye could follow the shinai moved upwards and struck the taser out of the girl's hand on the boy's right side; just as fast as it came up the shinai came down and struck the taser out of the other girl's hand in a single motion, the strike resembling the form of a reversed 'V'.

However the girls weren't discouraged, the one on the right moving forward, but the boy moved faster and thrust his shinai forward, eliciting painful gasp from the struck girl as she collapsed onto her knees, holding her stomach.

'That must've been very painful.' But Shino couldn't bring herself to be sorry for the girl, not after what they put her through.

Waiting for the other girl to break out of her stupor, the boy used his right foot as a pivot and turned sharply around and made a horizontal slash at the girl's stomach. Of course it connected, and just like the first girl struck, she collapsed onto her knees holding her stomach in pain.

Before Shino could cry out to warn the boy whose back was facing her, Endou had already picked up her taser and was running towards the boy, a cowardly tactic.

To both girl's surprise the boy sidestepped to the right without looking back, making Endou miss . Before she could recover, the pummel of the boy's shinai connected with Endou's stomach.

You don't need me to tell how that ended do you? No, of course not.

The black haired boy slid his shinai back into its bag as he walked to Shino and offered his hand. "Are you alright?"

-Line Break-

"Are you alright?" Kazuto asked the girl before him as he offered his hand.

Kazuto hadn't planned to be the black armored knight that saved the girl, but he had heard a scream and of course rushed to the source, only to find three girls cornering one.

Kazuto didn't fancy himself as hero or anything of the sort, if you were to ask him he would probably tell you he was more of a villain (due to his PKing tendencies). But that didn't mean Kazuto wouldn't help someone in need.

He had almost laughed at the girl's pitiful attempt to scare him, although he was irked at the "pretty boy" comment.

Now that Kazuto was closer, Kazuto identified the girl as Asada Shino. Despite the fact that fact that he was in the high school division of his school and Shino was in the junior high school division, Kazuto had heard of the less than pleasant rumors about the girl. But the bullying was a total surprise for him.

The girl meekly took his hand as he gently lifted her up and nodded in an affirmative motion.

"Are you able to go home by yourself?" Came Kazuto's gentle question.

"Y-yes..."

Kazuto gave his best soothing smile as he tried to comfort her. He would've hugged her or something, but he didn't as it might scare the girl in front of him.

Shino quickly walked away from the alley but paused at the alley's entrance, puzzling Kazuto. "T-t-thank you..." She quietly murmured.

Kazuto smiled gently. "You're welcome."

After she was gone, Kazuto scrunched his brows in irritation. It seemed that he would have to reevaluate some of the rumors he had heard about the girl.

"You! Don't you know that girl is a murderer?" The painful sentence came from the apparent leader of the trio who Kazuto didn't care about.

"You mean Shino-san?" Kazuto asked as his cold onyx eyes stared impassively at the downed girl's eye making her flinch away, evidently the pain he delivered moments ago still fresh in her mind.

"Then why-"

Kazuto cut her off before she could finish her obvious question. "Yes, I heard all the rumors about this...murderer." he finished with obvious distaste.

Kazuto walked towards the girl and crouched down as he stared into her eyes. "But you're really stupid you know? If the girl really were a blood thirsting psychopath, wouldn't she have tried to murder you already?"

The girl averted her gaze. "But of course she isn't, that's why you're stealing her money and bullying her." Kazuto stood and started walking away, feeling the girl's glare at his back. He didn't care. "By the way, stop bullying her if you know what's good for you."

And with that, Kazuto resumed his walk towards his sister's school.

-line break-

Kirigaya Suguha let out an irritated cry as she swung down at her shinai at her opponent, a fellow classmate and kendo club member.

Her kendo sparring partner, Sasaki Setsuna, was a girl one year above her age and one year Suguha's senior. Despite that, their level of swordplay was about the same; it wasn't that Setsuna was weak, but rather the fact that Suguha was a genius at kendo that made them an even match.

Right now the rest of the kendo club members had already gone home, so the club room was empty except for the two.

The only reason Setsuna was still here was to wait with Suguha for her brother, who was running rather late.

For the past month, ever since Suguha's brother started to pick her up after school, Suguha's mood was at an all times high.

Unfortunately for Setsuna, she foolishly teased Suguha about being a bro-con. Biggest mistake in her life, that day Setsuna received bruises in places of her body that she hadn't even known existed.

And right now Suguha was in an irritable mood due to her late brother, and unfortunately for Setsuna, she was on the receiving end of Suguha's shinai, due the absence of said brother to take it out on.

"W-wait Suguha, let's rest a bit!" Setsuna panted out as she finally dropped her shinai in exhaustion.

Suguha reluctantly nodded as she took off the men* and sat in a seiza position on the side of the mat, Setsuna sprawled on the ground next to her panting. Unlike Setsuna, Suguha only had a light cover of sweat compared to her profusely sweating senior.

With a sharp gaze Suguha stared at the space in front of her, her mind deep in thought about her brother.

Her brother, Kirigaya Kazuto, was not someone who Suguha could claim that she knew well. Since young age her brother had been forced to train in kendo by their grandfather. However, unlike her who held an innate love for the art, Kazuto preferred the company of electronics.

Years ago Kazuto had tried to quit kendo during one of his training days in front of her grandfather, but all he got back was disdain and their grandfather's displeasure. Suguha, who had been hidden behind the dojo's door, had watched the attempt in secret. There had been a fleeting thought of running in front of her brother and saying that she would take his place, but she had frozen in fear as she watched her grandfather dish out his displeasure in the following spar between the elderly and young male.

Since that day Suguha felt as if she had failed her brother in some way, even though she knew that she wasn't obliged to. Nonetheless, the guilt ate her up.

It was even made worse when her brother started to distance himself four years ago, near the time when she started training in kendo from a local kendo school, rather than their grandfather.

The split between the siblings got even worse when Kazuto began to hate the art of kendo as she embraced it with all her will. Slowly but surely they drifted apart. It wasn't that Kazuto was angry at her, rather their differing opinions on kendo built an invisible wall between them.

But suddenly, after Kazuto had started to pick her up, starting nearly a week after he won the national kendo tournament, Suguha could see that he longer hated kendo, but rather held a subtle appreciation, not that Kazuto had noticed or would admit it.

Suguha for her part didn't care what caused the change, but she did enjoy being with her brother again, closing the gap that had widened years before.

Swoosh...

Suguha turned her head to see her brother walking in, scratching his cheek with an apologetic look on his face.

"Sorry about being late, I was caught up in some business."

All Kazuto received was a piercing glare.

Suguha stood up and threw the bundle of kendo armor and clothing next to her at her brother.

Kazuto, who had the perhaps world's quickest reflexes of his age group, deftly caught it with a puzzled look.

When he looked at Suguha, he saw that she was pointing at the center of the stage with a glare.

"Sugu-"

Kazuto was cut off as Suguha increased her glare, "Spar. Now."

Kazuto sighed as he walked towards the changing room. He didn't need instruction, he had already familiarized himself with the area thanks to picking his sister up in the past month.

Minutes later Kazuto stood facing his sister, both his shinai in front of him crossed in an 'X' like fashion, unlike Suguha who, in comparison, used both hand to hold her bamboo shinai in a straight stance.

Setsuna, who was going to proctor the the spar, stared enviously at Kazuto's two shinai. The black shinai were prototypes of Japan's leading kendo producing company. They were made from the newest technology and integrated nano-carbon materials that were the envy of kendo professionals everywhere.

Kazuto had won it when he reached first place in the nationals. Originally there was only one, but the company made another one due to the fact that Kazuto was a Nito Ryuu** user. The Nito Ryuu, officially titled Niten Ichiryuu, was an uncommon style due to the difficulty that most people had with concentrating on two swords simultaneously. Most of the time they would hinder themselves, giving their opponent an easy win.

But Kazuto was different. He was a genius that could effortlessly wield two swords at the same time, never mind the fact that Kazuto used two shinai of the same length when most would used a katana-sized shinai and a wakizashi-sized shinai.

"Begin!" Setsuna called out as she brought her hand down, signaling the beginning of the match.

Immediately Suguha charged with unexpected ferocity. Unprepared for such attacks, Kazuto, despite all his skill, was pushed back by Suguha's reckless blows.

He gritted his teeth as he was being forced to give ground, despite not having eyes on the back of his head Kazuto could tell that he would be pushed out of the ring if he backed up any more.

But he couldn't really stop himself from being pushed back due to the furious onslaught of Suguha's attacks. This was the major weakness of nitoryu. The fact that you could only use one hand to use the shinai meant that the strength behind the attack and defense would naturally be weaker compared to someone who held only one weapon with both hands.

Due to this Kazuto had to use both swords to defend against Suguha's heavy strikes. Normally he would've waited for her to tire herself out before he countered at the perfect moment, but at the current pace he would be knocked out of the ring long before that happened.

He crossed his swords, stopping Suguha's overhead strike, and pushed back with all his might. Suguha, caught unbalanced, had no choice but to step back unless she wanted to be knocked on her back.

Once again they stared at each other. This time Suguha didn't charge, as she knew the same tactic wouldn't work a second time. Kazuto however suddenly had an epiphany.

When the beta for GGO first started, Kazuto fought other players with a gun in his left hand and the photon sword in his right using kendo stances. But as time time passed his stance slowly became formless, and now appeared as if he were simply standing still. However despite the many 'holes' in the stance's defense, Kazuto found that it was the perfect stance to initiate any strike or counter any move.

Now that he thought about it, why didn't he use two photon swords? It wasn't like the system didn't allow it.

Tearing his thoughts away from the game Kazuto decided to test a theory. He slowly brought his two swords down, each of them facing the ground with the tips pointing away from his body, said body in a loose upright standing position.

"Onii-chan what are you doing?" his sister questioned, confusion evident in her voice.

Kazuto for his part just smiled behind the men, "Just trying something new. Don't worry, come at me."

Suguha gripped her shinai, annoyed at Kazuto's seemingly defenseless stance. 'You're going to regret underestimating me!'

Slowly Suguha inched closer as she raised her shinai above her head. When she had shortened the distance between them to only five feet, she brought it down with all her strength. 'It's over Onii-chan! It's too late for you to bring your shinai up to defend yourself at this distance!'

Seemingly sure of her victory Suguha used all her strength in the attack, aiming for the top of Kazuto's headgear.

However to her surprise Kazuto twisted his left wrist as he brought his arm up so that his left shinai's tip was touching the bottom of the tip of Suguha's shinai.

That wasn't all. Kazuto moved forward as he moved his left shinai that was slanted into a straight position as his left arm gently moved away from his body, causing Suguha's straight downward strike to be diverted into a diagonal strike that missed Kazuto.

"Wah-"

BAM!

Suguha's eyes widened as she felt the tip of Kazuto's other shinai strike her throat. She was so surprised by Kazuto's defense against her downward strike that she had forgotten about his other shinai, but she knew that, even if she had remembered about the shinai in her brother's right hand, she wouldn't have been able to block or deflect the attack.

"Tsuke***!" Setsuna called out.

Suguha was snapped out of her surprise thanks to Setsuna's judgment as the referee.

Kazuto and Suguha both stepped back to their original positions.

"Onii-chan what was that?" Suguha questioned, her previous anger totally forgotten thanks to the reveal of the new skill she had just witnessed.

Kazuto smirked behind his mask, "That was Mu no Kamae****."

Mu no Kamae, the formless stance, was a very hard stance to master. Its strongest point was the fact that it allowed the user to adapt to any attack. Hardly anyone used it due to how difficult it was to use correctly. It a stance that couldn't really be taught, only learned through experience, something Kazuto had plenty of thanks to him comparing the bullets fired at him in GGO to kendo strikes.

Suguha naturally let her surprise be known. "WHAT!?"

-line break-

"Dearest and most wonderful and awesomest Onii-chan, tell me how you learned Mu no Kamae please~" Suguha begged as she pulled on the sleeve of Kazuto's long sleeved shirt while he was eating.

Ever since he had shown her the Mu no Kamae, something that he had learned in GGO using a gun and sword, she had pestered him nonstop all the way home... Hell, she didn't even stop at home.

Kazuto turned towards Suguha with a mysterious smile, "Sugu, you wouldn't believe me even if I told you."

"Wha!? Come on Onii-chan~" Suguha whined with a cute pout, trying to use the puppy eye technique on Kazuto. Kazuto just glanced at it before he chuckled, making Suguha pout even more.

"Now now Suguha-chan, stop bothering your onii-chan and eat your dinner." Kirigaya Midori lightly scolded as she too chuckled at her daughter's behavior.

"Gochisousama deshita*****." Kazuto said as he rounded up his bowl and chopsticks being done with dinner.

"Onii-chan you're already finished!?" Suguha showed a surprised expression at how quickly her brother ate.

Said brother just chuckled and flashed Suguha a teasing smile. "Sugu, you would already be done too if you weren't pestering your dearest onii-chan."

Suguha blushed bright red as she looked into her rice bowl.

Bidding good night to his family, Kazuto made his way towards his bedroom and promptly collapsed onto bed. He was still tired, after all.

-line break-

DING~ DONG~

Shino quickly rushed out of the classroom door. She had already packed all her school materials into her bag minutes before the bell rang, partly due to experience, knowing what would happen if she didn't leave quickly, and partly because today was November twenty-second.

All the indifference or even disdain her fellow classmates showed her, at the moment Shino didn't care about any of it. Because today was the day she was going to meet him again.

The girl ran all the way to her home, not bothering to stop for breaks.

Panting, Shino gulped down a glass of water. Not bothering to change her clothes, Shino quickly laid down on her bed and pulled the Nerve Gear over her head.

"Link Start!"

Immediately Shino felt herself move at an indescribable speed, unaccountable brilliant lines of light rushing past her until she finally stopped in an empty black space.

-Hello, is your username Sinon?-

Sinon's brows furrowed in confusion as she read the system window in front of her. 'Strange, wasn't all the data from the beta test deleted?'

Despite her confusion Sinon pressed -Yes-.

-Hello and welcome back Sinon. There has a been a change of detail for the official launch of Gun Gale Online. We of Argus have decided to thank our beta testers by implementing the «Veteran System».-

Veteran System? What's that?

-The Veteran System allows previous beta testers to start on level five and allows the tester to keep a single item from each category that they have in their inventory . Furthermore you would be gifted the «Beta Tester» medal that increased your health by one hundred points. Would you like to use the Veteran System?-

Shino's decision was obvious and with a touch of her finger she chose her option.

-Yes-

-Thank you. Please select the items you would like to keep-

Quickly shuffling through the equipment Sinon chose the items she would like to keep. Unlike most MMORPGs where you needed a certain number of stats to equip armor or weapons GGO allowed you to equip any items. Whether or not you had the skill to use them was another matter altogether.

-Thank you :)-

-You will be teleported to Starting City momentarily-

Exactly as the system said, moments later a bright light engulfed Sinon. When it died down, Sinon found herself among hundreds of other players that had just logged on.

Deftly maneuvering her hands and fingers, Sinon opened her windows and immediately PMed Kirito.

-Kirito are you there?-

Sinon sent her message right as she typed in his username into the recipient's box. 'Did he changed his username!? No he didn't say anything about that...wait what if he's ignoring me!?' Just as Sinon was about to panic one minute later, a beep came up. She breathed a sigh of relief.

-Yes, where are you?-

-I just logged on, so I'm in the plaza where new players are teleported to.- 'So he didn't lie to me.'

-I see. I'm also in the plaza, but I can't find you. Let's meet up at our secret base, okay?-

-Okay, I'll see you there.-

Just as Sinon was about to close the pm box another message popped up.

-Sinon did you use the Veteran System?-

She lifted an eyebrow, wondering what that had to with anything, but nonetheless replied.

-Yes-

-Haha, good to see I'm not the only one. Anyways make sure you distribute your points before you leave the city. You'll be safer.-

-I will, thanks.-

Sinon closed the PM-box as she maneuvered her fingers and opened her Stat-box.

Stats were also an essential element for players in MMORPGs. They consisted of:

AGI (Agility) - determines movement speed of a character
VIT (Vitality) - determines health of a character
DEX (Dexterity) - determines accuracy of a player
STR (Strength) - determines the carrying capacity and ability to wield certain guns
DEF (Defense) - determines the ability to defend against an ambush attack

Sinon quickly distributed her stat points as sniper type player.

Sinon's current stat distribution were:

AGI: 10%
VIT: 0%
DEX: 0%
STR: 90%
DEF: 0%

The main reason for this build was because of the need to use sniper rifles, which required more strength than all the other guns. Because of this all her other stats would be low, which would likely get Sinon killed if she wasn't careful. That was also the reason she added point to AGI, to be able to escape and carry the sniper rifle quickly.

Sinon knew Kirito had a different setup, namely:

AGI: 65%
VIT: 0%
DEX: 0%
STR: 25%
DEF: 10%

Kirito had chosen such a distribution mostly because of his fighting style. He needed AGI to be quick and move when he used his primary weapon, the photon sword. STR not only increased the power of the photon sword's attack but also allow him to equip and use his secondary weapon, his handgun, effectively. DEF was used to alert him to danger, and protect him long enough to either run away or strike back. Sinon knew from Kirito that he was quite confident in his natural abilities, honed through years of kendo, to protect him at such times.

DEX wasn't increased because Kirito was a close range fighter, not to mention the fact that his aim with a handgun was already surprisingly accurate. He mainly used his handgun to attack the weak points of the monsters, or to distract at a distance. He would never miss unless something happened. As for VIT, well, unless you were a Vitality type player, who would put points into it? Most times players would be dead before they got a chance to retaliate, which was why most people used armor.

Closing her window Sinon made her way towards the beginner shop. Even if she still had some items from her old avatar, that didn't mean she shouldn't pick up some beginner items, since that was also where she would receive credit and get her secondary weapon.

As she had expected, the there wasn't even a line thanks to the fact that most players weren't beta testers, and so they were receiving the beginner tutorial from the plaza.

Quickly Sinon chose a handgun and her 1000 beginner starting credits before leaving. She didn't bother getting any of the other equipment as she didn't need it. Even if she tried to sell them, they would only sell for one credit, so there was really no point.

Walking through the maze-like streets filled with post apocalyptic buildings, Sinon took about five minutes to make it towards the «Teleport Gates». As their name suggested, these gates allowed players to teleport to towns or cities that they had visited before. Unfortunately, since this was the official launch, the gate wasn't usable.

Not that Sinon needed it, as their secret base was quite close. Not even bothering to take out her weapon she walked past the desolate field that consisted only dirt, shrubs of grass, metal, and rocks.

The reason was simple, all monsters within one kilometer of the walls of starting city were what players would call beginner monsters.

These «beginner monsters» were hopelessly weak, to the point that they couldn't deal damage except pushing players around, were rather easy to kill, and never attacked first. However they were the most fearsome-looking monsters one could encounter, at least until the players reached the next dungeon that was near new towns or cities. The only catch was that players received no «experience points» for killing them.

The reason for the existence of these useless monsters was because of the fact they were training dummies, made solely for the purpose to allow beginners to accustom themselves to this virtual world.

Sinon could already see some players who had arrived earlier training themselves against the monsters. She held back a laugh as she saw one rather handsome avatar hiding behinf a female avatar, due to how fearsome the monsters looked, before running away like a dog with its tail between its legs.

Shaking her head she continued walking towards the secret base.

-line break-

The so called secret base was something that the duo had discovered by chance. It was actually an empty space beneath one of the stone trees located in the forest.

They had chanced upon the space when Sinon tripped and fell into the hole. To their surprise it was quite bright and not dirty, despite being under a tree and all. It seemed that the space was a secret safe spot that could be made into a base or a resting-place for those that knew of it.

Once they had taken the space, the master or owner of the place could then adjust the entrance to allow entry only to certain people.

Kirito, who had already arrived there, took out the sofa and table that he had bought before coming here, and sat down to wait for Sinon.

He was quite proud that he and Sinon were the only two people that knew of the space, no one else, not even Argo, knew about it.

Shhhhhh

Kirito, who was looking at his opened window, looked up towards the entrance to see Sinon sliding down.

"You're already here." Sinon noted coolly as she plopped down next to him on the couch.

Kirito closed his window as he leaned back onto the couch. "Yeah well, my speed is much higher than yours."

Sinon nodded, it wasn't like Kirito was bragging, it was a simple fact since they had fundamentally different builds.

"So are we going to hunt some monsters, or..." Kirito deliberately let his sentence fall off as he sent a questioning gaze to his partner.

Sinon just sent an icy smirked at Kirito. "Do you even need to ask?"

"PK it is"

-line break-

The duo spent the next hour hunting down any players they could find. To their surprise however, there wasn't a large amount of players outside the beginner's area, which didn't allow PKing, so they had to switch between fighting monsters and PKing.

All in all they had only PKed eleven players, a bit low but that was fine.

"Nnnnng" Kirito groaned as he stretched his phantom muscles.

"Why are you even stretching, its not like we can actually stretch our muscles here." Sinon curiously asked her companion.

"Well its a habit really, one I've gotten thanks to kendo." Kirito answered Sinon's question, receiving a raised eyebrow in response. "Anyways, we should probably go back to the city to look for the Rat, just to see if anything interesting has happened."

Sinon nodded, it had gotten rather tiring with the few amount of players to PK, and the monsters were below their level thanks to the veteran system.

The walk back was made in comfortable silence despite the gloomy scenery.

Suddenly Kirito took out his photon sword but he motioned for Sinon to stop as he spotted a green speck running towards and it was getting larger. "Can you tell what that it?" Kirito asked as he pointed towards the said speck.

Sinon nodded as she un-slung her her M40 rifle and leveled the scope horizontally towards her eye. Normally she would have lain on the ground first, but they weren't fighting monsters or players, merely identifying what the incoming speck was.

Narrowing her eyes Sinon focused in onto her target, the said speck was actually a player clad in green camouflage armor. Quite a foolish choice of clothing if you were to ask Sinon since it easily stood out in the gray landscape. "Kirito, it's a player. He seems to be waving at us. Should I shoot him down?"

Kirito thought about it for about for a moment before he ultimately shook his head negatively. "Let him come, it seems he wants something."

Well that wasn't the only reason, but just part of it. PKing all day long had gotten rather boring for Kirito.

Sinon nodded as she settled into the cold mask she usually took off near Kirito, though it should be noted that she only took off the first level of her mask and not all of it. She slung her rifle onto her back and took out her secondary weapon, a handgun, as she followed Kirito, who was walking towards the other player with his photon sword out.

It took about five minutes for them to reach each other.

"Hey, are you gals beta players?" the former speck that was revealed to be a player asked. He was quite tall and had a ruggedly handsome face.

Kirito suppressed a groan, as the male before him made the same mistake all the others did. To Kirito's dismay the Veteran system also transported their former avatar, which meant that he still looked like a cutie with long black hair.

Sinon didn't have such reservation and snickered at Kirito's plight.

Kirito threw a quick glare at her before turning his attention back towards the players before them. "Yes we are beta players, and um..."

"Kouichirou, my name is Kouichirou"

"Ah yes Kouichirou, why do you ask?" Kirito asked the now named player before them.

"Well I was wondering where the «logout» button was."

Kirito gave the player a questionable look before looking at Sinon who held the same expression as him and then looking at the chestnut haired man. "It should be on the bottom of the main menu when you open the window."

"I did but its not there!" Kouichirou was panicking now.

Kirito sighed as he opened his own window to show Kouichirou where it was. "See it's...not here!?" He frantically searched all over his menu window looking for it. "It's...it's not here..."

"Mine isn't here too!" This time it was Sinon who cried out, she too looked fearful.

Kirito placed his hand on her shoulder, "Don't worry, I'm sure Argus is doing its best to fix this...error."

However before Kirito could continue, a soothing bell chimed, before a light from their feet engulfed the three players.

When the light faded, Kirito found himself in the plaza where the player were first teleported to to start their adventure in the apocalyptic world.

Looking around Kirito began to see that many other players had, like them, also been teleported to the plaza. If he were to guess, Kirito would say that all the players were being teleported to this location.

"Kirito what's happening?"

"I don't know, but I'm sure a GM will explain soon." Kirito tried to reassure Sinon, whose fearful look only increased.

But the GM didn't come soon enough as cries of displeasure were made known throughout the large gathering of players

Suddenly the sky was pitched black, blocking all light except for the artificial lights of the city. The scene looked as if the city was alone in a world that wanted to swallow everything into the darkness.

Then someone near the group of three called out, pointing towards the sky, which prompted them to look up.

It was a giant figure, cloaked in equally giant but unique hooded black military clothing. The unique military clothing was something that only GMs could wear, identifying the person as a GM. However the strangest thing about him was the fact that he didn't have a head at all.

Then the figure started to talk.

『Players, I welcome you all to my world.』

『My name is Kayaba Akihiko. Right now, I am the only person who can control this world.』

『I think that most of you have discovered the fact that the Logout button has disappeared from the main menu. This is not a bug; it is all part of «Gun Gale Online»'s system.』

『Players, from the moment you have entered my world you have begun this death game. Yes, death game, you have heard correctly. Since the moment Gun Gale Online has launched, any player whose health has been reduced to zero has died. In this world and in the real world too. Whether it was by other players or the game's monsters doesn't matter, they have died.』

『The only way out is to make it to level one-hundred! When you are level one-hundred you will have two choices.』

『A: you can choose to escape to the real world by yourself and only yourself...』

『...or B: Challenge me to a duel if you win I'll free everyone from this death game, however if you lose you'll immediately forfeit your life.』

『...also, the disruption or dismantling of the Nerve Gear from the outside is strictly forbidden. If these things are attempted...』

『the signal sensors in your Nerve Gear will emit a strong electromagnetic pulse, destroying your brain and stopping all of your vital functions.』

『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 Nerve Gear. If any of these conditions are met, 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...』

『...regretfully, three hundred seventy-eight players have already exited this game, and the real world, forever.』

『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 given the best treatment. So you can relax... and concentrate on beating the game.』

『But I ask of you all to understand that «Gun Gale Online» is no longer a simple game. It is a second reality... From now on, any form of revival in the game will no longer work. The moment your HP reaches zero, your avatar will be gone forever. And at the same time...』

By this point Kirito stopped comprehending any information his five sense received. Not even the light engulfing and revealing his true face could knock him out of his stupor.

'Three hundred seventy-eight people have already died...I killed eleven of them...'


Author's Note: Ahahahah...sorry about how late it was...you know school and stuff...PLEASE DON'T KILL ME!

So how was it compared to the original?

Oh and by the way what do you think about Kirito's nickname being Thanatos? Personally I want it to be something different but I don't know what. And since Kirito won't be called Hades because he doesn't kill the Cerberus boss, I have decided to change his name.

And what about Sinon? Should I still call her Hecate? Or maybe the wife of the Greek god that Kirito will be called?

Hehehehe can you guess who Kouichirou is? If you guessed right you might know of a large plot twist I have placed inside this story MWAHAHAHAAHHA. Although some of you guys might hate me for it.

Men*-Men is what the headgear of a kendo armor is called.

Nitoryu**-Two sword style

Tsuke***-Throat

Mu no Kamae****-Literally formless stance

Gochisousama deshita*****- Literally thanks for the feast

«»

『』

2/3/13 Author's Note: Sorry this isn't really a chapter but news I have to inform you about. Due to academic relates work, I'm going to have to go on a hiatus. Sorry D: