Here is GPS, bringing to you what I've nicknamed the "Super-extra-mega-long-out-of-nowhere-awesomesauce -gafoogletastic-Kagami chapter".

Wonderfully and dutifully betaed by Hayasaka Shion-san. I mean, seriously, it's an 8k long chapter.

To the Guest Reviewer. Thanks for liking this, first of all. Second of all, regarding Haizaki... I can't tell you guys things that would ultimately spoil huge plot points. But I will say it might be a bit unexpected what I'll do with this in the future. The Winter Cup is still far away ;)

Disclaimer: I'm getting tired of this, but I don't own KnB.


Chapter 19: Tiger & Virtual World


Japan's official release date for Akashi Industries' latest project, Kiseki World Online, was April second of the year 2038.

As for all the other countries, they would have to wait just a little bit longer.

The day of its American release on the fourth, a man named Kagami Taiga sat camped out on the sidewalk adjacent a store that would be selling the game gear, in the hopes of snagging one before they sold out.

Thanks to the fact it early April and therefore still Spring Break for many American university students (though it was nearly the end), thousands of others crowded the walkways anticipating the shop's opening. Kagami himself had been waiting for the last six hours or so, and reportedly, it would be another before the place was open for business. He had been keeping himself occupied by eating or playing with one of his hand-held consoles for the majority of the time.

This man had also gone through this process when Akashi Industries had released their last game, Teiko Revolution–released in the States as "Takeover Revolution" (A terrible piece of wordplay, in Kagami's opinion)–a few years prior. After having gone through that, he knew exactly what to expect later today, except that it would probably be even worse.

When the glass doors slid open and the workers nervously announced the beginning of their day, he was ready. He and hundreds of others crowded into the establishment, and he pushed through the crowd with all his might to get to where the cashier's counters were.

Propelling himself forward was difficult in such a densely-packed wall of solid human, but sooner or later he managed to get near the front where the workers had strictly ordered that organized lines were to be formed. There would more waiting, along with making sure someone didn't try to sneak ahead of him while he wasn't looking, but it would all pay off once he got his hands on one of the game.

By the time he had overcome this ordeal and reached the outside where he could breathe in some fresh air, the 613 copies of Miracle World Online were all sold out. As the redhead (his natural hair color) walked by, several people who couldn't even make it inside propositioned to double, triple, or whatever other number, multiply the amount of money he paid for the console. Of course, being the complete game enthusiast he was and considering how long he'd been anticipating this, he ignored them and made his way to the nearest registration building. Just like the store he'd just visited, this building was also over-populated and bustling.

The American Branch of Akashi Industries had rented many large, unused skyscrapers and other structures all around the states in which the game was being sold. The insides had been renovated on each floor to hold all the necessary equipment so that each procedure needed could be done in an efficient manner.

In another three hours or so, the nineteen year-old had made it through the waiting lounge, completed all of his tests and got OKed for game play, and returned to his home to set up the system and console. He was forced to take a break by his family, but after a quick nap and lunch, he was right back on it and gearing to go.

The redheaded man donned the helmet and let it run through the identification process, then said the needed phrase to enter the virtual reality.

Following the mindless action of skipping through all the instructions he didn't understand, he quickly created his character–a Beast type–and started having fun running rampant through the game's first monsters. Of course, since this was the first day it became increasing mobbed with other beginner players, but he didn't mind too much since he was busy with all the hacking and slashing and getting used to his virtual avatar.

The world spread out around him was bright and shining with no boundaries; he was so deep into his excursion that eight hours passed in the blink of an eye, and he was utterly disappointed when he was ejected from the game.

Heavily sighing, he removed the helmet and placed it onto his nightstand.

When he caught sight of the setting sun outside, he realized it was already late in the day.

And also that he was hungry.

And so, the redhead raided the fridge, took a shower, slept early, and went to one of his last shifts at work in the morning.

Two weeks later, Kagami is officially unemployed and preparing for his move back to Japan in another few days.


Monday: April 23, 2038. 11:26 A.M.

Kagami maneuvered his way through the airport, looking for the belt conveyor that would be carrying out the bags. Being at the height he was (a bit more than six feet tall), he could easily peer over the crowd. He spotted the machine and began to walk toward it, but a finger tapped his shoulder and he turned around to a very familiar face."Tatsuya! How have you been?" he grinned, pulling a shorter raven-haired man into a tight hug.

"It's great to see you, Taiga", the other laughed out with slight rusty English.

Meet Himuro Tatsuya, Kagami's non-blood related "brother".

These two go way back–since elementary, in fact.

When they had first met as children, they had both lived in America in a city near the beach called Los Angeles. Since Kagami didn't have any friends as he was still learning English back then (Japanese was his primary language), Himuro, who was also originally from Japan, offered his friendship one day. They were basically joined at the hip from then on.

Like many kids, they ran around and played games, grew up a bit and played sports or found hobbies. A few years later, however, Kagami's parents moved back to Japan for reasons related to his mother's job as an executive for an advertising company. The relocation had been so sudden that he hadn't had the time or the means to ask for Himuro's contact information; he had never needed it before since they had only lived a block away from each other.

After settling into his new home in Tokyo a month later, Kagami had found their number online and called, but only got a dial tone back. He spent another two-or-so years residing there before he and his family needed to move once again–back to the same house he had spent most of his childhood in.

He had arrived and the first thing he thought to do was to run down the street in order to find Himuro's home, but when he got there, he found out that a young couple had set up residence while he was away.

At the age of fourteen, the redhead had searched all over, only to find eventually find out that Himuro had also moved about a year after he had. This time, however, he had gotten the other boy's family's number after visiting the couple once again and contacted him.

Kagami had remembered that the raven had been pretty shocked and surprised to get a call, as well as angry at the redhead for randomly disappearing for an entire two years without so much as a word of goodbye or a even a note or something. To be forgiven, it took months of sincere apologies and promises that it wouldn't happen again, and eventually his "big brother" took him back under wing. After that, many countless hours were spent catching up on their lives and anything of importance they'd happened to do in the last few years, such as getting a part-time job or a girlfriend for the first time.

Up until this day, they hadn't seen each other in person since childhood.

But finally, Kagami had decided to fly free from the bird's nest using an opportunity Himuro had given him. The other had recently moved out of his shared apartment into a 2LDK since his former house mate had recently gotten married. Since he knew Kagami had been looking for a chance to live alone and he too was looking for a place, he called up the redhead and killed two birds with one stone.

Those two bird expressions probably shouldn't have been used in the same paragraph, ahem-

"Hmm, you've grown really tall since the last time I've seen you", the noirette smiled, reaching up and ruffling the other's hair. It was a habit from his younger days and he had never broken it.

"Well that's obvious… you've seen the pictures and stuff though."

"Yes, but it's different in real life", the other replied, "You're even taller than I am now!"

"I think I outgrew you back in middle school."

Himuro laughed, "It's probably because you eat so much". "Is that your luggage over there?" he asked, motioning toward a set of bags he'd seen from the pictures sent before Kagami had boarded his flight. Kagami nodded and went to retrieve them, and after he did, the two walked out of the terminal to the road where they could hail a taxi.

"It's too bad you have luggage with you. If not, we could've rode my motorcycle", the black-haired man smiled, then he switched from English to Japanese as he told their driver of their destination.

The redhead grimaced. "Not that deathtrap.Besides, it's too small for two grown men to fit on it, you know?"

Idle prattling filled the cab the entire way to the street their apartment complex was on.

The pair paid the fare and walked up the steps that led to their new place. Himuro had already moved most of his belongings from his previous lodgings the day prior, so it was pretty well furnished already. All that was left was for Kagami's things to arrive a few days later and he'd be set, but until then he'd be sleeping on an old futon.

"That reminds me", the shorter man said just as they were entering their humble abode, "I've been so busy moving and filling out all the paperwork that I haven't greeted the neighbors yet. Want to come with me?"

"Could we do that tomorrow? I didn't get any sleep on the plane", Kagami had muttered right before passing out on the couch; because it was way too small for him, his legs stuck out in an awkward manner.

Himuro chuckled to himself and decided to let the other have his sleep. Ten hour flights and thirty hours awake were bound to tire anyone out, after all.

Skipping ahead to the next twenty four hours, Kagami finds himself unintentionally staring down a very nervous and confused-looking teenager in the flat next to his.

"Ah, hello… I'm Kagami Tai-"

"Speak in Japanese", Himuro had to remind him. He then turned to their neighbor and smiled, "My name is Himuro Tatsuya. We just moved into the apartment next to yours."

Kagami cleared his throat before repeating in Japanese, "I'm Kagami Taiga. Nice to meet you", and handing him a container of freshly-cooked lasagna. It was one of the few things he could make with the sparse diversity of ingredients they had in the cupboards. From the manga he'd read, it was rude to move somewhere without some kind of gift, but then again, he'd read those when he was a child and even then they were from a few generations passed.

The brunette in front of him took the Tupperware with slightly shaky hands, somewhat intimidated by Kagami's stature and delinquent-esque facial features.

Nevertheless, he replied with good nature, "W-welcome. Sorry my flatmates and I don't have a housewarming gift for you, we didn't notice someone had moved in. We've all been sorta occupied the last couple of days."

"That's alright", Himuro replied, "Are they in?"

The stranger glanced inside before saying, "one of them went to work this morning and should've been back by now, but I guess he had something to do. My other friend is probably in his room but I think he's playing this new VR game that just came out."

"Do you mean Kiseki World Online?" Himuro asked curiously.

"Yeah, do you play it or something too?"

The black-haired man motioned toward Kagami and said, "We both do."

"Hmm, I see. You'd probably get along really well with my housemate then since he's a really bit fanatic about this kind of stuff. I'm not sure when he's gonna stop playing though."

"Well, that's fine. There will be other chances to meet in the future. If you don't mind, we're still in the process of greeting the other neighbors so we'll be taking our leave now."

"Oh, umm, sure. Thanks for the pasta by the way!" the brunette smiled before softly shutting the door.

"That wasn't too bad", was said to Kagami, even though he'd only said one sentence that entire conversation. "How many more are there?" the redhead asked.

"I don't think we have to bother with all the other floors, but there are three more on this one", was the reply. "Now that I think about it, we forgot to ask that guy's name."

"We can ask later, let's just get this over with."

"Japanese, Taiga. You should probably get used to it again."

"I know already!" he grumbled as they knocked on the next door.


"What do you mean by that!?"

"I'm sorry sir, during the server conversion process, the machine jammed and the memory on this file has been corrupted. If you'd like, I could call up our master technician–he should still be in–and we can try to reimburse you."

Kagami hung his head low. All the items he had painstakingly quested or fought for over the last few weeks were gone. His only hopes now were that they could be restored. "That would be nice", he replied to the woman who'd been trying to convert his account files and dejectedly took a seat on a waiting bench while she made a call.

My luck is so terrible…

A few minutes later, the so-called "master technician" walked in through the door, which Kagami hadn't actually expected him to do.

"Something for me to do?" said the man who'd just walked in with a Cheshire Cat grin lining his face, "that's good, I was starting to get bored".

Kansai-ben?

The man who'd just walked in was only a few inches shorter than Kagami. He wore a stereotypical white lab coat, completely unbuttoned in front revealing some clothes that looked like they might've been bought at a bargain store. Maybe he was just trying to pass as "vintage" or Harry Potter or something, the redhead didn't know.

The man also wore thin-rimmed glasses over his eyes–did he have eyes?–Kagami couldn't tell if the other was just squinting, but he seemed to be able to see. His hair looked a bit disheveled with strands sticking out here and there, but that also seemed like it might've been on purpose. Or maybe this guy just didn't own a comb. Also, for someone with such a high rank in this company, he looked very young; judging only by appearances, the two probably weren't too many years apart.

"So what's the problem?" the newly arrived man spoke. The woman from earlier told him of the predicament that had befallen the redhead and showed him her computer screen.

"Hmm… this is pretty bad", the bespectacled man murmured while analyzing the encrypted data, "I think I can still salvage at least sixty or seventy percent of the base character and items though."

"Can I leave that to you?" the woman asked.

"Sure, as long as you treat me to a cup of coffee later", the raven-haired man grinned again before setting to furiously assault the keyboard. He turned his head away from the screen, and still typing with completely accuracy, he said to Kagami, "I'll probably be done in half an hour at most. Until then, you can just sit over there-ah, you're already sitting."

He turned back to the screen. "My name is Imayoshi Shoichi, I'm one of the head programmers that worked on KWO. I'm pleased to make your acquaintance."

Kagami was a bit reluctant to reply; though this guy was all smiley and seemed care-free, he left a strange feeling in his gut. Now that he thinks about his gut, he's hungry again.

I wonder if we had any leftovers in the fridge or something. Maybe I'll just visit a fast food joint before I go home.

A second later, he remembered he'd just been talked to and snapped out of his off-track thoughts to reply gruffly, "Kagami Taiga. Nice to meet you."

After that, no reply had been given back, so the silence was only filled by the clacking of fingers on keypads. Occasionally, however, the bespectacled man would ask about his character so that he could either restore or replace the features that'd been erased.

A mere twenty minutes later the black-haired man at the computer spoke, "I'm done with the hard part. Now I just need a new chip to transfer the files. By the way, I added some new items and features to your character if you don't mind, as a pay of compensating for the lost data. You can remove them if you'd like to, but I don't think they'd be much of a problem. Also, since you're transferring to this server, I had to change a few of your skills and items to their Japanese counterparts."

"That's fine", the red-haired man replied as he watched the other copy the data onto a new memory card and insert it into his gaming helmet. "That should do the trick, Kamagi-kun", Imayoshi smiled.

"… Kagami."

"Oh, my mistake", he handed over the device along with a small piece of hard candy and waved him goodbye. "I hope you enjoy your time in the game", was what the nineteen year-old heard last from him before he walked out the door.

…That was weird.


When Kagami had first logged into the Japanese KWO server, he hadn't noticed any significant changes to his character. His appearance seemed to be almost exactly the same–the only difference being that the shape and color of his ears and tail had changed a bit. His level was set back a few and his stats were a slightly different as well, but the programmer from the other day had done a pretty good job getting everything pretty darn close to the original. There were even a few extra stat points as a bonus.

Next to check were his items.

His traced the air to make the window to appear and slid it in front of him, flipping through the different categories. His miscellaneous monster drops and potions were relatively unscathed, but either way, he could get those back easily if he needed to. Kagami then swallowed the lump in his throat as he switched to the next set of item slots: equipment.

The redhead's breath hitched when he saw the result.

At least a third of the weapons and armor he'd hunted for in the American server had been completely wiped from his inventory. Most of them had been rare event items or tournament-won equipment, so it would be impossible to get them again even if he were still back in the US. Being items with code that was more-or-less unique to the American server, they had been the most susceptible to corruption during the conversion.

Kagami closed the window so as not to disappoint himself further, and instead, replaced it with his skill archive.

It was a fair enough trade that his skills were switched for his foreign counterparts, but as they differed slightly, some of them would probably have to be completely re-learned before Kagami could use them comfortably and expertly in battle. Other had been erased and sadly, only skill points and a few extra slots were given as consolation.

This window was closed as well, and Kagami moved on to checking a blinking blue dot at the side of his person. In the American version, this color indicated a party or guild request, but since the red-haired man had logged-in just a minute ago, it couldn't have possibly been that. He tapped the circle with one of his fingers and watched as the message window was revealed.

You have received 1 new message:

Imayoshi 05/01/38 4:16*
Close message index.*
.

Imayoshi 05/01/38 4:16*
Close message index.*
.

"You probably wouldn't mind too much, but I've added some items to your inventory to replace the damaged data. Take it as an apology from the management and I; it's set so that they'll appear after you read this message, or if your inventory is full, it'll be automatically put in storage. I'm sure you'll find them rather satisfactory."

A second later, a long catalogue of random potions redhead had never heard of were listed off in front of him. When it finally finished with those, next came a few equipment items; a few of them were somewhat rare but most of them could be found through questing or bought in a store for a high price. Still, Kagami appreciated the effort.

{Kagami has obtained Carmela's Ring of Promise!}

{Kagami has obtained Steel Plating!}

{Kagami has obtained a Unique Item!}

{Kagami has obtain-

Wait, what?

Switching the tab from Use to Equipment, Kagami scrolled down until he could find this so-called, "Unique Item". Sure, he had heard about them before–about the fact that there were six-hundred thirteen available in the Japanese server and that most of the other countries only had about half of that–but he hadn't expected to be lucky enough to actually get one. And he wasn't sure, but there were rumors that all of them had been discovered already. Blood-red eyes scanned for the items that came before it as a marking, and before long, he had found it in a slot near the bottom of his inventory.

Arguably, might've been one of the most life-changing moments in Kagami's gamer history, but no one would know it yet.

"Equip {Hikuni}"

What materialized from a small flare of light was what appeared to be a shining long sword, like the one he'd had before his data got corrupted. Its hilt was a bright bronze color–gold in the sunlight–and had ruby-red gems adorning the spot where it met blade. Two sides of the handle flared outward in several directions, and the shape reminded Kagami of a blazing sun.

Speaking of blazing, holy god, the fucking thing was on fire.

As he was currently holding it with one hand on blade and the other around its hilt, the beast-man got ready to drop the weapon so as to not burn himself. What was strange, however, is that even when they touched on his skin, he didn't feel any pain–not even heat.

He wondered if it had anything to do with the fact he had chosen fire as his main element after becoming a Fighter. Or maybe it was just some kind of strange glitch from it being transferred to his account. The redhead could not be certain.

It only boggled him further when the flames disappeared without a trace a half a minute later.

And so did the blade.

The confused Level 40 Warrior stood there, dazed.

It would be the two days later before he finally learned how to use this weapon. With the help of other intelligence, of course–because as you may or may not know, Kagami Taiga is not a very smart man.

But for now, he equipped a different weapon and rampaged through the monsters in the server.


Friday: May 3, 2038. 8:13 P.M.

Our red-headed Warrior… is in quite the pickle right now.

Let's start with the events from earlier today, shall we?

When Kagami had woken up this morning, the first things he'd done was use the bathroom, eat, and then take out the piled-up garbage Himuro and he had accumulated over the last week. He'd greeted one of the nice old ladies that lived in the apartment complex and helped her with shopping and carrying back bags; it was partially because he had needed to go as well, but he also found it hard to ignore someone in need of help.

After returning home to restock the cupboards and fridge, do a couple chores, and grab his bag, he journeyed back out into the wide city streets with one objective in mind:

Job hunting.

Back in America, he'd worked in a pizza place, a karaoke joint, a couple of random short-lived jobs, and sometimes as a babysitter. A lot of people had been scared off by his face and initial roughness, but after a while he became well-known in his neighborhood for being a very upstanding and kind young man who climbs trees to save kittens.

After failing half of his courses the first year of college, Kagami found himself thinking he wasn't suited for it and dropped everything altogether. Instead, he got a working permit and decided he would pursue something that didn't require a degree in the future, though he still hadn't figured out exactly what. In the mean time, that's when he had taken up several part time jobs.

During the next few hours, the redhead spent a lot of time on his phone or prowling around searching for any stores and shops that had openings and would hire a youth like him. Obviously, this kind of thing wasn't easy, but he expected to at least have a chance of getting a reply back from one of ten or twenty he'd applied for; his chances might've been significantly lowered though, considering the facts that he had difficulty with some of the language and that no one here knew about him or his reputation back in LA. It wasn't his fault he had red hair, sharp eyes, and was over six feet tall.

Once his watch ticked past four, Kagami decided to give up for the day and return home where he found a note saying Himuro would be home late and didn't need dinner. You wouldn't guess by appearances, but Kagami is the better cook of the two.

After making himself a meal (which pretty much cleared an entire shelf from the fridge and cabinet), he took a long relaxing bath. Around six was when he donned the KWO VR helmet and waited through the initiating sequence.

"Dive into the virtual world."

Is it broken? Oh wait…English. Almost forgot.

"Dive into the virtual world."

The last time Kagami had logged-out, he'd left himself in the Rogue's city of the third island, Caldina, so as to be ready for a different kind of hunt than earlier.

This afternoon, the redhead was aiming for some rare monster drops he had heard about a few days ago online. Apparently, they were mostly enhancement items that would boost the stats of any weapon by two or three times. Only one group so far had gone so far as to find and fight the monster that dropped this item, however, so there wasn't much known about it.

This boss, if the pictures on the internet were accurate, was a giant Leopard called a "Mutolupus". The map the monster resided in became available after the feature of different phases of the day was applied–it could only be entered after the world's sun started to set. The maps there, all being Night time maps, were teeming with aggressive hordes of lesser monsters that would make short work of most adventurers.

But I'm sure you've guessed by now that Kagami is not your average player.

The road to the creature's domain was a long and difficult one; the redheaded man had to traverse through rivers, caverns, and over cliffs while slicing through the ended stream of monsters out for his blood. Not many people trained in these areas due to the danger levels; in fact, several had died right in front of the Beast-man's eyes. It just goes to show how merciless they could be.

This was actually Kagami's first time experiencing "night" in Kiseki World. Since he had to move and all, an almost two week hiatus was taken from playing; during that time, the patch had been implemented. When he'd played yesterday, he had logged out before the afternoon had ended to unpack his belongings that had finally been sent over.

In his experience so far, he was only having minor difficulties, mostly due to slightly darkness-impaired vision and the fact that the monsters were all swarming him.

It was about two hours later (which was actually record time) when he finally arrived at the Leopard boss' domain.

A glittering full moon had rose high in the sky earlier, but it was now obscured by dark clouds that almost looked as if they promised rain.

At a time like this, it was rather lucky that his second element was Light. Many people chose this as a secondary because many of the skills were great support, buffs, or just plain useful. In this case particularly, a skill available to any class lets a small glowing beacon float around and illuminate anything in a radius that corresponded to the amount of Mana exchanged. Though Kagami didn't have too much MP as he was a Fighter-type and all, it was better than being attacked without the moment's notice of sight giving him time to defend himself.

Already, he could hear the growls of creatures permeate through the air from all around him.

Why aren't they attacking?

And then from his front, it slowly appeared as if it were waiting for him this entire time.

The creature stood with the grace of a king, claws sharpened and coat wildly flowing in the cold winds that blew past; its golden fur shimmered under the floating lantern's light. Its paws were huge. Its entire body was huge, actually, but Kagami had expected that since it was standard for most bosses in this game.

The only problem was that this giant leopard wasn't a leopard.

It was a lion.

And again, Kagami is confused. The picture and reports from the group that excavated this area had definitely said "Leopard", and this creature was way too big to just be a standard monster with no special powers.

Maybe it's just a difference in servers. That forum post was American, so they might've just re-skinned it for some reason…

His gaze followed the feline as it circled him, cautious while it looked for a chance to strike–it must have had a high-level AI.

Kagami got ready to strike first, but before he could, a shape leapt from the darkness behind him; he could hear it shift the air. He knocked the minion creature away with his sword, and in that time, the Mutolupus took advantage of the fact he was occupied and pounced toward him with a loud snarl.

He couldn't evade fully, but in return for the claw marks in his shoulder, he gave the overgrown cat a bloody cut down one of its hind legs. It looked at him for a second and paused, and with a mighty roar it then quickly skulked back into the darkness. The swordsman would have followed the creature, but something else quickly replaced it.

Now, instead of a lion, it was a… a deer?

Didn't this game already have deer earlier?

This monster was smaller and weaker than the last, but it was still much larger than your average stag. Though it wasn't as strong, it was more agile and with more precise attacks. Its long, branching antlers prevented Kagami from getting his sword near it by normal means, so he started to unleash his skills with a non-stop combo skill that completely shattered one of them. Then, he narrowly avoided it when it used an explosive dark spell and almost blew off one of his shoulders.

It let out a loud cry and, before he knew it, his back was pinned to the ground by a large, patterned paw.

But Kagami being Kagami would not let something like this stop him. With a movement similar to a push up, he lifted himself (along with the gigantic feline on him) with enough force that the creature was startled and forced off.

"All right, that's it! I'm going to kill both of you, you stupid lio…pard?"

No; it wasn't a lion anymore. What had taken its place was what had been originally promised, a gigantic, spotted leopard. It picked itself up and moved so that it was lined up with Kagami and the other boss.

The blood on the ground… is from a wound on its leg. That's where I hit that lion from earlier! This isn't right. What's going on here!?

How much did this game have to perplex his low-capacity mind before it was satisfied with how much it was deteriorating from trying to piece things together?

Apparently, even more.

Both the deer and leopard let out a crying wail and a low snarl, respectively. It was now that the truth started to unfold before the red-haired man's eyes. Their colors of their fur darkened to match the shades of the still night, and while doing so, their bodies violently convulsed. Kagami watched as they morphed into new shapes, and while getting ready to fend off what they were becoming, he came to one simple conclusion:

I will never trust the internet ever again…

To the Beast-man's horror, both of the Mutolupus' changed into wolves. The one with the bloodied leg raised its neck and proceeded to howl toward the game's moon, and Kagami guessed it was magic because the clouds blocking it shifted away from view. What he saw when the moon lit up the map almost made him pass out right then and there.

If he had known it was liked this, he would have never attempted coming here. With the light shining down on the map, he could now see the entire region spotted with his worst nightmare: dozens and dozens of undomesticated canine creatures of every kind scattered all around, following his every little movement. Curse his nearly-irrational fear of dogs.

Just when he thought it couldn't get any worse, the other Mutolupus howled as well, and the entire pack's status became active-aggro rather than the passive they'd been before. They bristled up their fur, eyes glinting with savage intent as they began to close in from every direction.

Kagami couldn't move.

He couldn't even breathe.

Perhaps if he weren't so petrified, he'd have a chance to do something like run or fight back, but he was too utterly terrified by just about everything here that he couldn't even try.

They tackled him from behind, gnawing at his equipment-clad body while he stood there and tried to convince himself to think happier thoughts. Not like this game would let him though, because one of the Mutolupus picked him up in its huge jaws and bit down hard, and his armor began to crack little-by-little under the immense pressure of it all–this is the pickle I was talking about earlier, by the way. Sooner or later, the metal plates and chainmail were shattered, and the redhead could feel the wolf's canines sinking into his flesh, drawing out blood and doing more damage the longer they clamped down.

[-1,651 HP, Kagami: {62,283/88,040}]

[-2,766 HP, Kagami: {59,517/88,040}]

[-4,284 HP, Kagami: {55,233/88,040}]

What was merely a few seconds later and the Beast-man's HP was already dangerously low; in the red, in fact.

"This is where I die", was the last thing the redhead thought dramatically before he was suddenly thrown onto the floor to roll in the dirt.

"You okay?" he heard someone's voice ask.

Kagami lifted his head and saw a group of players, around five or six of them, keeping the hostile creatures at bay.

A brunette girl turned and looked down at him; by the looks of her equipment, she was probably some kind of Mage. "Sorry for not saving you earlier, we were seeing what the monsters would do", she informed him before starting to cast some kind of high-level AOE.

Of the rest of the people in the party, Kagami could count that at least two of them were Fighters (being one himself, he could recognize it more easily), but the rest were debatable. If they were following him earlier, though, there must've been some kind of Hunter or Rogue subclass in there with a tracking skill of some sort.

The two bosses from earlier were each attacking a member of this group, and were constantly changing into different forms to better combat them. The rest of the party was balancing bringing down their HP from the sides and killing the annoying minion wolves.

Their teamwork was an expert thing; perhaps they've known each other for a long time.

Kagami's blood boiled. He raided his potion stock, giving himself a full HP heal. He equipped some new armor, jumped back onto his feet, and took a running start toward one of the shape-shifting wolf bosses. He was no longer afraid as it had transformed into some kind of weird mutant-elephant with a broken tusk (courtesy of himself from before).

He activated one of the skills exclusive to his class which, coupled with his own latent abilities, allowed him to push off the ground with amazing force.

His class, the "Knight" class, was one that didn't normally exist in this server. One of the reasons his skills may not have been corrupted the other day may have been because of the fact that the American Knights shared much of the same formatting with the Japanese Paladins; they were the same on most of the basic levels, after all. At one point, the skills which had been meant for both were probably split and these two became separate options in different countries.

The group that was tailing him watched him launch up into the air to an extremely high height and subsequently fall at an unbelievable rate, arms outstretched and sword ready for action. The blade came down with him as he fell, cutting through the Mutolupus' thick flank cleanly–if you could call it cleanly; there was blood everywhere. The surrounding ground was cracked, and some of the members of the other party could feel the shockwave of the blow even at a good distance away.

It was too bad that this skill was extremely strenuous, otherwise he would use it more. He plowed forward toward the beast, which changed back into a stag and started blasting off all sorts of elemental attacks at him. The Knight dodged each one or deflected them away with his sword. As the monster had low HP, all that was needed now was a set of ferocious combos and well la. Dead.

"Hmph, not bad for someone who was cowering for dear life a minute ago", a bespectacled Hunter sneered at him as he shot off some arrows.

A man with a shaved head apologized, "sorry, he gets like that when fighting sometimes", before helping take on the other boss. He and two others–one of which didn't look very experienced by the way he held himself–were all taking turns striking the beast, which seemed specialized in morphing into big felines among other things.

It took a few minutes, but with the help of all the members of their party, they defeated the creature with minimal casualties on their HP.

The moment both bosses had been defeated, Kagami's vision could see only red blotting out any sense of serene tranquility which had lasted for a mere moment. The moon in the sky had become a dark crimson, and it shone eerily onto the grassy and rocky hills of the map covering everything in range.

"What now!? ", the redhead thought. I mean, come on. They had finally finished killing off both of those bosses and all the smaller ones on the side and there was still more?

Some birds flew away for effect, squawking as a shadow emerged from a small patch of forest near the map.

Perhaps those people on the internet didn't get this far–either that or they withheld the information–but this definitely was not written in the forums.

The shape was another wolf, even more enormous than the two bosses preceding, and Kagami nearly felt like he could start crying. With a deafening howl, it stood up on its two legs and its entire body vibrated. Limbs became more elongated, every more muscular, and snout growing short.

Ah… I get it. A Werewolf. This must be the Alpha of the group.

Well, now that it just looked like a really hairy muscular dude, it was no longer terrifying; big mistake on the monster's part.

Some of the people from the party next to him sent him sly little smiles and smirks; silent challenges that he just couldn't ignore.

"You're on", he mentally sent back with his own equally-cocky expression. In a second or two, the die was cast.

With not a single hint of hesitance, they all proudly charged onto the battlefield.

This was the meeting between Kagami and the party that would become his future guild, Seirin.


Saturday: May 5, 2038. 2:42 P.M.

An NPC waiter walked by, tray piled high with mountain of freshly-made cheeseburgers, waiting to be unwrapped.

Who were these for?

If you guessed a certain Kagami Taiga, you guessed right.

When this day began, he had been surprised to log into the game and find that his hair was long, luscious, and shiny. Not only him, but his entire guild and just about every other player in the game had been subjected to this strange patch's occurrence. Since they had a limited time having this many members of their guild on at the same time (seven of them), they skipped the salon. Instead, they cut their hair themselves with store-bought scissors.

Kagami had just finished off a grueling training session under the command of his guild's "coach". Since he was done earlier than the rest of them, he was waiting for them in the town's Majiba while taking a break from whatever else Riko had in store. His leg muscles were a big overexerted and his torso was covered in bold peck marks, each one a stinging red dot. He supposed it was what he deserves for going along with the brunette woman's suggestion and fighting flying monsters as a Warrior with few ranged skills.

He had to admit though, it was rather effective; as of now, he could jump at least two or three meters higher than he could a day ago.

He was also learning to control his blade, and instead of letting the flames flare out and disrupt everyone else's pace, he could now concentrate it into a solid blade that did more damage.

This unique weapon, Hikuni, was one that allowed him to continuously use strong fire magic without having to sacrifice MP. Though he had difficulty with it, he could also change its shape at will (though he preferred a long sword over anything else). The light red blade was a destructive thing, however, and would burn even allies if they got too close–the only one unaffected was the redhead himself.

With his worn-out body resting on a cushioned seat, Kagami began to dig into the burgers that had been placed in front of him. Oh, how glad he was that KWO had decided to add food to the game.

"These are the best", he said to himself out loud, savoring the taste of his juicy, delicious beef patty.

"Hmmm, I like the teriyaki burgers better."

When Kagami turned his head to the side, he saw a tan-skinned, blue-haired man munching away at his preferred meal with a bored expression. His table had three more burgers and some fries lined up on it, each one with a color that signified "teriyaki".

"No, the cheeseburgers are definitely better tasting", was what Kagami determinedly replied back, taking a bite of his burger as if to prove it.

"Haa? You must be joking. Teriyaki is way better."

"Not at all, ganguro."

"G-Ganguro!? You're one to talk, eyebrows."

After poking these sensitive issues, veins popped on both men's heads, and the rest of the patrons in the restaurant were sure electricity was crackling somewhere.

"You wanna take this outside!?"

"Sure, I'll kick your ass!"

You see, this is what happens when you leave two idiots alone with no adult supervision.

The two put their food into inventory and made their way to a low-level map outside town; they didn't want to be interrupted by strong monsters by chance. Both men equipped their swords, and were surprised to see that they were extremely similar in the fact that they were just handles with no blade.

"Eh? So you have a unique weapon too? This should be at least a little bit entertaining then," the bluenette man arrogantly proclaimed and activated his weapon.

Water…

Snarling and grinding his teeth, Kagami followed the action. He was the one who made the first move with a low, running crouch and a subsequent diagonal slash.

The other Warrior dodged and grabbed his weapon with both hands, powerfully bringing his sword straight down with the goal of a critical strike.

Kagami parried, however, but was forced downwards by the sheer force. His legs were still too shaky from training earlier to be able to withstand such a thing fully, and he mentally cursed.

He braced himself as he was blown back, feet clinging to the earth in an attempt to gain balance.

This guy is strong…

Deciding that it would be okay since no one else got into the way, the redhead let the fiery blade of his sword spread out in a dazzling cloud to surround the other. In response, the other did the same, but with a mist of water. They both took a strong leap toward the middle of their imaginary ring and two elements… clanged.

It had surprised both of them; when they touched, their weapons had gone back to a fully-solid state instead of staying as they were.

Well, neither dwelled on it long. Being the fighting junkies they were, this was pushed to the back of their minds as they started to attack each other in frenzied blows. Before long, it was becoming clear that this other dude was, as much at Kagami hated to admit, stronger. But of course, he wouldn't give up just because of that.

"Your name?" the man suddenly asked him in the middle of a literal power struggle.

"Kagami Taiga."

"Aomine Daiki."

Aomine had this almost crazed-smile on his face when he they started to perform high-speed slices , and Kagami held out the best he could but cuts still appeared all over his un-armored skin. The Paladin and the Knight's weapons met once again, and Kagami could feel himself sliding on the loose soil underneath his feet.

"Tired already?"

"Shut up!" he growled indignantly. With irritation refueling his fighting spirit, he demanded that his aching leg muscles push back through sheer willpower. It was working at least; especially since Aomine hadn't expected him to be able to do that and was caught off guard. The Paladin removed his sword and jumped back before beginning to slash at the redhead again; Kagami concentrated only on matching his strikes so as to not sustain any more harm. This went on for a few seconds before the two heard an interrupting voice.

"Daiki."

Putting down his weapon, Kagami glared at a crimson-haired man who'd appeared next to them. He growled at this shorter man and demanded, "Who're you?"

The smaller man's dual-colored eyes were wide open yet still glaring with amazing intensity–something like a dormant volcano on the verge of erupting after thousands of years. This newcomer started to speak to him, tone low enough so that only Kagami, being the closest person, could hear the infuriated words under his breath.

"That weapon should not exist."

And then, with a pair of red scissors in hand, he lunged.


Kiseki World Online: Skills & Spells Slots

After a certain amount, the number of slots a person has for skills can go no higher. It depends on what class a person chooses, or what kind of items they may have that allow them more. The higher-level class a person becomes, the less skills they are allowed to have.

Mages have the most slots as they rarely have physical skills, and Fighters have the least. The different arch-types also have a different amount of slots available for use, so it is usually recommended to study a class before choosing it.


Next time, we return to the GoM and finally move ahead of this scene.

Sorry updates are slower recently, but please keep in mind the chapters used to be only around 2 and I didn't have a beta until like, chapter 8 or 9.

I might've said this before, but author's notes are always written up on the spot, along with Omake or extras and the title of these chapters. :D

Thank you for reading, GPS is a happy idiot.