"I am Kirigaya Kazuto, representative of the sophomores and I wish to have an excellent year with everyone."

As Kazuto walked down from the stage, there were many whispers of amazement towards the effeminate looking boy who was this year's representative, who completely aced the entrance exams needed to get into this high school. As he sat down he could see many stares coming towards his way and whispers varying from his looks to past events of him winning the national kendo championships, despite being 14. As he turned forward to look towards the stage, he couldn't help but sigh and think 'This is going to be one of those years, isn't it?'

Asada Shino looked towards the boy with eyes, wanting to become friends with this boy, but then shoved the thought out of her head thinking 'Who would want to become friends with me..? Ever since that incident nobody has even wanted to talk to me...'

Kazuto was getting tired of this. All these people were crowding over him like he was some rare endangered species, and it was only the first day. They all wanted to talk to him or touch him, which he deemed creepy enough even without the stares he was getting. All he wanted to do was eat his lunch in peace, but alas, he couldn't even do that! He began to think of a way to secretly sneak away and eat his lunch in peace, but he instantly pushed the idea out of his head when he saw the look of the girls at a nearby table. The one word he thought to himself when he saw them was 'stalkers', as the look they gave him was sending a bone chilling shiver down his spine. He quickly avoided eye contact with them and began to look for someone who could help him get out of his current predicament.

Suddenly laying eyes on a girl he didn't know personally, but had seen in his first period class, he spotted Asada Shino, a girl who seemed quiet all the time and didn't look like she wanted to become friends just for the status that came with being around him. He quickly excused himself from the crowd eagerly trying to get his attention for the useless things they wanted to talk about and walked over to Shino. As he walked over, people were asking rudely asking him "Why would you want to go to that girl!? Do you know who she is!?" To this, Kazuto just shook his head and lazily asked "No, should I?" To this, some people nearly dropped their jaws. Everyone but Kazuto knew about her it seemed. One person was 'kind' enough to rudely shout "She killed a man! She's a murderer!" To everyone's surprise, Kazuto kept walking towards Shino, replying "If she's that kind of person as your tone of voice is telling me, they why hasn't she murdered all of you already?" As he gave them all a glare that struck fear into their hearts, making them realise that he hated people who insulted people behind their backs. It seemed that under his princely behavior lied something else, something that nobody would want to bring out of him.

As Kazuto approached her, Shino looked up to him with eyes that said 'why would you want to be friends with me?' and a sad half-smile. As Kazuto sat down, he greeted her with a genuine kindness that seemed to make her believe this was real, and not somebody who thought that they could use her. "Hi, I'm Kazuto; you must be Shino-san right? Nice to meet you." At this statement, Shino didn't know what to think. Nobody's ever wanted to become her friend, and especially not the representative of all the sophomores in the school, but she tried her best to be friendly towards the boy, replying "Yes, I'm Shino, Asada Shino. Nice you meet you Kazuto-san." While she gave a small smile towards the boy.
After a small conversation with the girl, the bell for their 4th period class rang and Kazuto excused himself while he went to get his materials needed for his 4th class. Asada Shino felt quite happy, as this was her first real conversation she had with someone in years, and to top it off it had with been with Kazuto, the boy she had admired since the start of the day.

It had been 3 months now, and Kazuto and Shino had been invited into the Sword Art Online Beta Testing, without either of them knowing of the other's invitation to this rare event. Only 1000 people were invited into the SAO Beta Test, and both of them had become quite good friends, despite not knowing whom the other really was. The Beta was closing today, and both Kazuto and Shino were having a conversation with each other using their in-game names respectively. "So Sinon, today's the final day of the beta..." Kirito began to say. "Yeah, it was really fun! I hope to see you again during the release, right?" Sinon replied cheerfully. Despite only having a few friends from Kazuto introducing her to people, she was quite happy with Kirito, which she didn't know was Kazuto, and vice-versa. "Of course, during the real opening, we'll get to our current position and levels in half the time, since we already know most of what's on these floors." Kazuto said confidently. Sinon just nodded happily.

In the 2 and a half month beta, [Kirito] was classified as the game's best player, being level 40 reaching floor 33, while [Sinon] was close behind him classified in the game's elite group, being level 35 and reaching the same floor. They were both walking the streets of the -Starting City- as that was where all players started out when they first entered, and because that this was the last day, the GM's decided to host an event. [Kirito]'s avatar had relatively long hair for a male while still retaining his effeminate looks, while wearing a black coat reaching down to his knees, a pair of fingerless gloves on his hands, a pair of black boots and had a black longsword strapped to his back. He was named "The Black Swordsman" for obvious reasons. [Sinon]'s avatar had aqua blue hair, having string tied at the sides. She was equipped with a green jacket, which contrasted greatly with her hair, a navy blue and silver chest piece & guard, black leggings, and grey combat boots. She was also had a bow, a rare item that could be found at an extremely low drop rate, or could be crafted by a blacksmith only with their level of smithing at 850 or above, to what the players called "unfair" for having a simple bow. To an extent, the bow didn't seem that great of a weapon to others, but once someone got used to it, they could become an expert with it. The bow Sinon had strapped to her back was upgraded at an NPC blacksmith. Blacksmiths could upgrade any item at any level, but couldn't create certain items until their Smithing reached a certain level. The bow was currently +4, meaning that it had 4 upgrades out of its possible 10. The bow had +2 in range, giving her a bonus 200% of what the bow's range was if it wasn't upgraded; +1 in durability, giving it a +25% durability increase; and +1 in knockback, giving her an additional 10% knockback added on to the bow's default 15% knockback. The knockback was preferred by Sinon, mostly because when she hit a monster, there was a chance that she could knock it 20 feet away to get a clear shot. She added +1 into durability so that the bow wouldn't break as easily, since it was the only bow in the Beta test at the moment. She also got +2 in range, so she could kill monsters from further away, reducing the chance that she would be in the monster's -detection area- and be able to kill monsters before they got close to her if she was spotted. The arrows she got can only be obtained from blacksmiths, but she didn't get these arrows from any blacksmiths. These arrows were given to her by a player named [Argo the Rat].

[Argo the Rat] is an information broker, and also a shady character at that. She was never on the front lines, but somehow was always at a good enough level to enter a [Boss Raid]. Argo would constantly be selling rare items to players that really needed them. How she got these rare items is a mystery in itself, as she would come up to someone and offer them an item that seemed perfect for them, only to have their dreams broken at the high prices that came with them. If someone were to describe her sales, they would be along the lines of "only the rich can afford these kinds of things." It was the same when Argo gave Sinon the arrows, Sinon had been col grinding with Kirito weeks after she got her bow, intending on buying materials to level up her blacksmithing. In the end, it was oblivious to Sinon that buying the arrows from Argo would be a better choice, since she would have to take time to level her blacksmithing and then find the materials to make the arrows.

The event held at starting city was that of what would seem to be a closed beta party, where there were special monsters that the GM's added into the game just for this occasion. On death, these monsters would initiate small fireworks, while if you killed the [Event Boss] it would blow up in a brilliant display of fireworks and display a message in the sky saying "Thank you for participating in the Sword Art Online Closed Beta! We hope to see you soon on November 6th 2022!" At this, Kirito and Sinon smiled at each other bidding each other farewell and a "see you soon"

The next few days after the closed beta ended were what Kazuto could describe as lame and boring. There had been quiz after quiz and test after test. Although he was able to ace each and every one of them, he was quite bored. People pestering him for him to tutor them wasn't what he wanted at all, since the expression of irritation on his face was obviously there, but people didn't care because they wanted to talk with Kazuto whenever they could. Shino started at Kazuto and stifled a laugh, wondering how the first person she called "friend" got into this predicament. Kazuto tried to break her out of her lonely shell by introducing her to other people. It slowly began to work as the girl began to make friends and was able to converse with a few people normally, but she kept her shy and lonely personality when Kazuto wasn't around. She felt love for the boy, all because he decided to become her friend, something she didn't have since she was 5.

After the class was over, the bell rang signifying that school was over. Shino was walking home when 3 girls asked her to follow them. She recognized them as Endou and her friends. Thinking that no harm could be done, she followed them. She instantly regretted her decision as she was pushed up against a wall staring into the jealous eyes of Endou and her lackeys.

"You know Asada; you should keep your distance from Kazuto-kun." Endou warned, trying to frighten the girl.

"Why? Why should you care about me and him? We're just friends after all..." Shino replied quickly, trying not to make provoke the girl.

"Listen Asada," Endou replied with anger, "I see how you look at him, and how he's always so friendly to you. I want him, all for myself, and I don't want to see you in the picture."

Endou lifted her hand, and curled her middle, right, and pinkie finger, making a gun. She slowly aimed her index finger towards Shino and whispered into the trembling girl's ear, "bang."

All Shino could do was scream. It reminded her of that man. It reminded her of herself. Of what happened when she was 5. She curled up into a ball and just was just lying on the ground. Helpless, trembling and just curled into a ball on the side of an alley. She knew she was too far from the school for anyone to hear. If anyone heard they probably wouldn't have helped anyways. She was scared, scared for her life.

Kazuto was walking towards the kendo studio when he heard a blood curdling scream. He instantly ran towards the scream, holding his bag filled with his gear and shinai close to his body so they wouldn't fall while he ran. He knew who the scream belonged to just judging by the voice. He ran faster, faster because a friend was in trouble.

Once he got to the alley, his eyes were filled with rage. There laid Shino, trembling and curled up into a ball, lying on the street. He saw Endou look into his eyes, and flinch at what she saw. The eyes of a killer. The eyes you would never want to see. She instantly tried to think of an excuse to tell, but couldn't think of one. What could be the excuse? That she was jealous enough of Shino to bring up a life scarring memory just to stop her from being with Kazuto? That would never calm him down; in fact, it would only make him angrier. Endou and her lackeys began to run; they ran because they were scared. They feared the look in his eyes, and when they ran, they never looked back. They never did want to look into those eyes ever again.

Kazuto rushed up to Shino's side, asking her if she was alright. She looked up at him, eyes full of fear and hugged him. She didn't know what else to do. The memory from when she was 5 still haunted her, and she didn't know what to do. Kazuto asked her softly, "Where do you live? I'll take you home right now."

Shino told him her address and they began to walk home together. When they got to Shino's apartment, she thanked him. She thanked him for all he had done. Kazuto replied with "Don't worry, we're friends after all. I'll do anything for my friends." After hearing this, Shino showed a true smile. She had always showed small smiles or smirks, but now, she was showing a true smile, one that just shouted: Thank you.

It was November 6th, and Kazuto couldn't wait for Sword Art Online to release officially. He was currently reading a magazine, which had some details about Sword Art Online, and its creator, Kayaba Akihiko. He always spoke if the game was a different world, rather than just a game. Kazuto admired the man. He created such a beautiful world, where the virtual reality seemed like reality, like it was more real than reality itself. He couldn't wait to return to that world, where he felt more alive than this world.

As his clock turned to 12:59pm, he turned to his desk, having snacks and drinks so he could log out and get some nutrients before returning to his gaming marathon. As it was just about to turn to 1:00 pm he laid down on his bed, put his NerveGear on and said the sequence to start up the game, "Link Start!"

Vibrant colors flashed as he was greeted with the welcome screen. He logged in using his beta account, and to his surprise was allowed to keep 2 items from his closed beta account. He chose to keep his black longsword, which could be used at any level since it didn't require any stats and chose to keep a single teleport crystal, since he knew that this would come in handy soon. As he was teleported into the [Starting City] he looked around. The world was as colorful as it had been, and there were way more people in the city than he had ever seen before. He couldn't help but say, "I'm finally back in this world!"

Kirito began to run down the street, with a translucent menu appearing in front of him as he messaged Sinon to meet at the fields to get some early training. He was stopped when a man was running towards him. He long red hair with a bandana wrapped around his head.

"Hey, you were in the beta right?" He asked Kirito, hope, ever so present in his eyes.

"Uh, yeah I was." Kirito replied cautiously.

"Can you help me out please? I'm new and it looks like you know your way around!" The redhead bowed and clapped his hands together.

"Ah, sure why not," Kirito replied to the man, who looked up with his eyes sparkling. "I have a friend that's going to come later on. I'm Kirito by the way."

"Klein, nice to meet you Kirito!"

"STAY STILL YOU LITTLE SHIT!" Klein yelled in complete rage while he was getting beat up rather slowly by the monster.

Kirito could only facepalm as Klein had yet to get the [Blue Boar]'s HP to three quarters of its full HP.

"The first movement you make is important Klein." Kirito said, while attracting the boar's attention so Klein could rest and see what Kirito was going to do. "Just put your sword in a certain position and you'll feel it start to charge up. When you're ready, just let it burst!"

Kirito's black longsword, not being upgraded at all so it had a slightly higher stat bonus that that of the anneal blade would, glowed a bluish green before he shot up and slashed at the boar, making it squeal in pain.

Klein, taking into account what Kirito just did positioned his word behind his back, and to his surprise, it began to glow a crimson red. Kirito seeing this kicked the boar off into Klein's direction, allowing him to release his [Sword Skill]. Klein began to accelerate and a visible red line followed where his blade was, and where it was now, leaving a red mark on the boar and killing it. The boar exploded into a vibrant display of polygons, and Klein became extremely happy of what he just did. Kirito proud of his friend, gave him a High-Five, but to shatter Klein's dream, said "Nice job, but that would be considered a slime in most RPG games"

"No way! I thought I was a mini-boss or something!" Klein said in his defense.

"Pfft. Klein, did you really think I would make you fight a mini-boss on your first day?" Kirito said somewhat mocking the red haired player.

"Knowing Kirito, I thought that would be the first thing he did" came from a player who just recently walked in on their conversation. "Hey Kirito, been a while huh?"

"Not too long Sinon," Kirito replied to the girl, giving her a High-Five. Sinon, like Kirito, also got to keep 2 items from the beta, and she chose her bow and her arrows, which could now be recharged at the NPC shops. Her bow however, had no upgrades, like Kirito's black longsword.

Klein introduced himself...by bowing his head and extending his hand nervously saying "H-hi! I'm K-Klein! 24, b-bachelor" To what his response was getting laughed at by Kirito and Sinon. He proceeded to join them in the laugh, trying to make it seem less that they were laughing at him.

After Kirito and Sinon leveling up once, and Klein being at 84% to level 1, Klein decided that he would log out after adding each other to their friends list. Klein said he ordered a pizza to be delivered at 5:30. What a well prepared man he was.

"Hey...ummm...guys? Where's the logout button?" Klein asked curiously, only to get answered with an irritated expression from Kirito replying "It's at the bottom of your menu, don't tell me you can't see it."

Klein, defending himself quickly replied "It's there, but it's grayed out! Is this a glitch or something?"

Kirito hearing this pinched his index and thumb together and dragged down, opening up his menu. To his surprise, Klein was right. The logout button was gone. Hearing Sinon say that she didn't understand what was going on didn't help the situation.

Nearby, a bell could be heard. A blue light engulfed the 3 players and they were suddenly teleported to the [Starting City].

"A forced teleport?" Kirito and Sinon said in union, confusion and suspicion clearly in their voices. People were looking around in confusion, as nobody could leave the main plaza of [Starting City]. Questions could be heard from many of the 10 000 players, ranging from casual questions to questions to why they couldn't log out. All the questions stopped when everyone heard a beep above them, and all their eyes focused on a single flat hexagon that said [WARNING], in a deep red text on a lighter red background. Soon afterwards, more hexagons extended from the first, some still reading [WARNING] but others reading [System Announcement]. Soon, the entire dome was filled with these hexagons, which created a half sphere around the players, locking them in. Sinon only held on to Kirito in fear, as she didn't know what was going on.

Blood poured from in-between the hexagons, but the blood didn't reach the ground. The blood was suspended in the air, all of it formed what was seemingly a figure, a strange human figure. Lightning could be seen coming out of the giant blob of blood, which then became refined, what looked like a ghost in a blood red cloak, but with its hood up, shielding it's face. The figure began to raise his hands, which had white gloves over them and said in a voice what put himself above everyone else, like a God.

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

Kirito was muttering under his breath, "My world...?" but quickly stopped after the hooded figure continued to speak.

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

What exactly did he mean by that, was what both Kirito and Sinon wondered.

『I think that most of you have discovered the fact that the Log Out button has disappeared from the main menu. This is not a bug; it is all part of [Sword Art Online]'s system.』

"A part of the system? What..." Klein questioned, his eyes widened.

『Until you get to the top of this castle, you cannot log out of your own free will.』

Murmurs questioning this castle could be heard all around, but Kirito and Sinon knew better, as the [Starting City] was currently at the bottom of the castle they were in.

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

A moment of silence happened, as this caught everyone's attention.

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

Kirito's eyes widened at this. How could he do this? What was the man's motivation? But his thoughts were cut off at the next thing Kayaba said-

『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...』

Kirito's breath was ragged, it wasn't what it was just moments before. He wanted to know what this 'result' was. He needed to know.

『...regretfully 213 players have already exited this game, and the real world, forever.』

Kirito was shocked. 213 players have already died. In the short amount of time they had been logged into this game, already over 200 players have died. Sinon who was still holding onto him, her eyes widened with fear. Was she going to die also? She lost her train of thought at what Kayaba said next.

『Players, there is no need to worry about the bodies you left on the other side. As of this moment, all TV, radio, and Internet media are repeatedly reporting this situation; including the fact that there have been numerous deaths. The danger of having your Nerve Gear taken off has already all but disappeared. In a moment, using the two hours I have provided, all of you will be transported to hospitals or similar institutes and be given the best treatment. So you can relax... and concentrate on beating the game.』

Sinon was living alone, so there was nobody that could get her to a hospital, or maybe the landlord would notice, as he asked her what she was carrying in the box when she returned home at the start of the beta. A NerveGear.

Kirito could only shout at the madman, "You want us to beat this game!? You want us to play around in our current situation!? This isn't a game anymore!"

As if the GM read his mind, he simply replied with:

『But I ask of you all to understand that «Sword Art Online» is no longer a simple game. It is a second reality... From now on, any forms of revival in the game will no longer work. The moment your HP reaches 0, your avatar will be gone forever. And at the same time...』

Everybody stood frozen, unable to move at these statements.

『...your brain will be destroyed by the Nerve Gear.』

Everybody was in shock, but before anyone could react, Kayaba simply stated,

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

Shouts of "You're kidding right? Nobody even made it close to that in the beta!" were heard all around, but there were also shouts that tried to make Kayaba look like a fool, trying to make light of this [Death Game].

『Then I will show you evidence that this is the only reality. In your inventories, there will be a gift from me. Please confirm this.』

Kirito and Sinon both opened up their inventory, seeing a [Hand Mirror]. They took it out, and both saw their reflections in it. Suddenly, the mirror reflected what seemed to be light coming from nowhere, blinding whoever looked into it for a split second, only to have their avatar replaced with their true face. At this, a blue light engulfed every player, changing their avatar to what they looked like in reality.

Kirito looked up at Kayaba, the man he was inspired by. His eyes held no shock. They held rage. People around Kirito flinched as they felt the presence of him, the presence of Kirito's rage. He was broken out of his rage, when a nearby voice called out to him.


A/N: Well hello there guys! This is my first FanFic, so please be nice? I had this idea that of Kazuto and Sinon being friends in real life, and going into Sword Art Online together. Both being Beta Testers but not knowing of each other's true identities. Also, Kirito will be a bit overpowered in this, mainly because he wants to protect Shino. This will most likely be a KiritoxHarem, but will have more spotlight on Shino, rather than Asuna. Please read and review, as it will give me more motivation and tips on how I write when I continue on with these chapters. Also, I'd like to have a beta. :3