Now just a warning or so, but some characters in this fic especially Sinon might be OOC but that's mostly because of the circumstances.
Think about it. No matter who you are, or what you've been through...once you get imprisoned in a death game, anyone will change.
In canon, because she was living a normal life the whole time, she grows up normally.
So if anyone says anything like OOC. Please think of the situation, and if you still think otherwise, then please inform me, but NO FLAMMING!
"You're not going to eat?"
"I'm not in the mood for it."
She looks down on the ground while playing with her bread.
The two of us sat opposite each other over a campfire.
She simply hadn't been the same since the nightmare began two weeks ago.
The hope that outside help would arrive was quickly snuffed out.
Many people lost in the madness did things that were borderline insane. Such as spending hours trying to destroy the world which obviously didn't work. While others started talking to themselves. The worst were the ones who committed suicide.
Though the tension lessened somewhat after a few days, the fear and anxiety remained.
Most of all, the feeling of hopelessness.
Many had already sunk into despair.
My partner was like that.
Her eyes were becoming more and more listless with each passing day.
What I fear the most might end up becoming a reality at this rate.
At this rate, she might become a lifeless doll.
At present, she was far from it.
However the spirit she once had, was diminished. She was no longer as direct or unafraid to speak her mind.
Now she simply kept quiet, speaking only when talked too.
It also didn't help that our levels were nearing the cap of what we could reach here. It gave her little to nothing to strive for.
"Have you heard? I think some people are trying to get into the game."
I tried starting up a conversation with her.
"I heard. Many are too afraid though. They can't even bring themselves to do more than swing their blades around like headless chickens."
I nodded in understanding.
It reminds me of Klein. That guy couldn't figure out how to use sword skills on his own and even needed a half hour guide to do so.
I thought it was because he didn't read the manual.
But now I see that it wasn't truly the case.
"At the rate they're going, they are never going to make it past the first floor."
"Yeah...I don't think anyone's in the mood to listen."
Because of the situation, everyone's thinking only about don't dare approach other people to ask them for help and are trying to figure everything out for themselves.
Those that did figure things out for themselves have joined up with their kind leaving the weak to fend for themselves.
Each of them banded together to form either small groups called guilds, or to join together to create a large community called the army.
However they weren't unified enough.
They didn't know enough of the layout of the world. They didn't know how to proceed.
The only ones that knew that were the Beta testers.
People like me and Sinon.
"Still...do you think they can make it?"
I asked as I threw a pebble aside.
It was a pitiful attempt to look away from reality.
"They can do it. You should know as well right?"
"Yeah. The question is that how many people are going to die?"
During the Beta testing, we cleared the first floor. However in the process quite a lot of people were killed.
Thankfully back then, the respawn function was still available.
"I can't say."
She took a bite of her bread.
"I know for a fact that back then, it might have been possible to actually clear without dying. However no one bothered to work for it."
I nodded in agreement.
"Because back then, everyone could be as reckless as they want. Now however they can't. I doubt even the other Beta testers will try and rechallenge it this time round."
Fear can overwrite knowledge easily.
To them, it didn't matter if we knew it by heart or theory. As long as we were afraid to die, we wouldn't be able to act properly when the time came.
...Off course, there were bound to be some who are so sick of the situation that they think little of the situation at hand and would try anything even suicidal attacks.
We've seen that a few times.
"Hey Kirito...what do you think we should do now?"
"What do you mean by that?"
"I mean...what do you think we should be doing now if we want to proceed?"
Her question catches me by surprise.
It's the first time she asks something like this in two weeks. Before all she was concern with was levelling up.
I looked away. I too have been thinking about that, but I simply couldn't come up a proper idea.
The problem is obvious, but the solution is difficult.
"I know there are two issues that must be solved no matter what."
After saying that, I turned back to look at her.
She shuffled about, wrapping her arms around her knees.
I spoke them out loud.
"The first being we need to restore hope to everyone. And the only way to do so is to-"
"Clear the first floor."
She finished my sentence for me.
I nodded in agreement.
"However that leads to the second problem. Unity and trust."
A boss couldn't be cleared by one person alone no matter how skilled they are.
Technically they could, but that's only in a one on one case. As most bosses are accompanied by a set of powerful monsters that spawn endlessly.
Because of this, a large group of players is needed to hold them off while a small group engaged the boss.
Without proper teamwork, it is impossible to react and counter the AI's movements.
"You know...I've been thinking. What if we tried to help those still stuck at the beginning?"
Her idea catches me off guard, but before I could ask why, she decides to explain her reasoning.
"At present, everyone there is afraid because they don't know what to do. I feel that if someone were to try and assist them, they'll calm down."
I thought about it for a few seconds. Her idea was sound, and once I recognized it, I smiled.
"You know, you're surprisingly soft. I didn't think you were the type to go and help others."
As soon as I said that, her face turns red and she stands up quickly.
"Don't be stupid! I wasn't thinking about them! I was only thinking about how they can be used to break the tension! I really don't have any feelings regarding them all right?"
I laughed at her.
"Aww...maybe I should bring up subjects like this more often. I haven't heard an outburst like that since those pigs ran over-"
A streak of light flew past my head. Her finger was pointed at me.
I raised my hands.
"That's not funny. This is an open area. Your name could turn orange for that you know?"
My warning does little to deter her from her anger.
"As long as it's not red it's fine right?"
The way she says it is so natural, that one would think she was used to attacking other people.
"It was just a harmless joke."
Another streak of light shoots at my face. I swiftly lean to the side and evaded the attack if barely.
"And that was a harmless shot."
She is smiling at me. And it is not the smile you would want to see.
"Why don't I ever learn?"
That was the question that went through my mind as she hit me in the forehead with a stone.
And damn did it hurt.
"Okay...I'm sorry. Can we continue where we left off?"
I rubbed my forehead. Damn the game mechanics for allowing pain to be felt as well.
"Fine...though if you bring up that topic again, you better be prepared."
She huffed in annoyance as she crosses her arms and looks away.
"Alright I get it."
I sighed while shrugging. Afterwards, my expression reverts to a serious one.
"Anyway...even if your idea makes sense, have you thought about how dangerous it could be?"
I'm no expert in life, nor have I actually led others on dangerous tasks, but even I know that not everything goes according to plan in reality.
"I did. However at the moment, it's a risk we'll just have to take. We can't proceed without manpower and unity. If it's impossible to rely on the guilds and the army. So, the only thing left to do is build or rather train a force of our own. We'll put up a notice on the notice board to call all those who are still struggling and teach them."
I had trouble registering what she just said. It took some time for my mind to reboot. Once it did, then I replied.
"I'm still having trouble believing what you're suggesting."
"Are you saying you want out?"
She smirks at me.
I simply sigh. My tension disappearing suddenly when I saw the conviction displayed on her face.
"Well...I did say I was going to take responsibility for you. So I'm in."
Her lips curl into a smile and she gives a nod of appreciation.
"Right. Then tomorrow, we head back to the starting town and find them."
"Why not now?"
I point to her name above her health bar.
She looks up and it and did a small take back.
"Oh right. It's orange."
There are three colours that can be used to tell a person's state.
Green for normal.
Orange for people who have attacked others, and red for people who have killed others.
In the cases of orange and red, they are consequences if they attempt to enter a town, and they also will not be able to interact with any other NPC out there in the field.
"You really should work on your temper."
I laughed lightly. She looked down in mild embarrassment.
Including the Beta testing period, she had her name turned orange quite often because of this.
"It'll wear off in a few hours or so. Try and get some rest first."
I threw myself back and laid on the ground. I could just enter a town and sleep in a safe zone, but I wasn't going to leave her alone.
"Do you want to take first shift? Or should I?"
The problem with sleeping outdoors is that a player could easily attack you while you're asleep, or even force you to manipulating your own menu to steal all your items. As such, it is only proper to do so when you have others watching over you.
"Either way is fine."
She nods in approval.
"Fine, then I'll take first shift. I'll wake you up after an hour or two."
As I closed my eyes and allowed the night to take me. I prayed tomorrow will at least be easy.
I should learn by now, nothing in times like this is ever easy.