A/N: Welcome to my first SAO fic and my fourth fic overall! A couple things you should know:
1. This story takes place after ALO. 2. When they're in real life, I will usually refer to the characters by their real names (e.g., Kazuto = Kirito). 3. I will be featuring the minor characters like Liz and Silica more than they were featured in either the novels or the anime. 4. Also featured will be Argo (yay), who barely appeared in the anime. If you don't know about her, just briefly scan her page on the SAO wiki on Wikia. She will be the only thing that people who haven't read any of the light novels may not recognize. 5. A few OCs ("own characters") will appear, but I'll try to not focus on them so much. 6. Gameplay will incorporate elements from Medal of Honor: Rising Sun, Medal of Honor: European Assault, and the Modern Warfare series (especially CoD4) of Call of Duty. You don't need to know anything about these games to understand the story. 7. Being me, I made a brief guide to the game, the link to which is at the top of my profile. It basically details all the weapons in the game and gives a brief overlook of gameplay. Anything that's important to the story itself will be explained to/by the characters, so reading this guide is also not necessary. 8. I do not speak Japanese and have never been to Japan, so please correct me if I make a mistake. 9. Feel free to suggest stuff!
Thanks, and hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Sword Art Online.
Rescue Dive: Call of Honor
Chapter 1: We Have a Problem
"I WILL EAT YOU OMNOMNOM"
… were the first words out of Kirigaya Kazuto's mouth that morning.
Kirigaya Suguha slowly backed away from his door. Maybe she should have let him sleep in…
As the Spriggan magic swirled around him, Kazuto could feel his limbs lengthening. Skin morphed, teeth sharpened, claws emerged. His frame soon towered over the Salamanders. Directing his now-crimson eyes below him, Kazuto grinned hungrily down at his terrified opponents. He opened his maw to let loose a bloodthirsty howl –
"Onīiiiiii-chan! Get out of bed, you lazy lump!"
Without realizing it, Kazuto jumped from his dream into real life. "I WILL EAT YOU OMNOMNOM – eh?" Seeing his room and noticing the absence of screaming Salamanders, Kazuto sighed. That had been a very good dream, and with Kazuto having gone through what he had, he didn't get very many good dreams. Though of course this dream had been nothing compared to the ones involving Asuna…
The teenage boy blushed before yawning, stretching, and standing. Grabbing a pair of clothes, he exited his room. He came to a halt when he saw his sister dashing down the stairs. "Okāsan, Kazuto's threatening to eat me again!"
Kazuto could feel another sigh coming.
Later, around noon, Kazuto was munching on his late breakfast. Suguha finally decided that her brother was tame and started up a conversation. "So, onīchan, what are your plans for today?"
Kazuto paused to think. It was summer, so there would be no school. He could do something with his friends – but a lot of them were on vacation. Those who weren't were probably busy. The VRMMO market's newest hot item, Call of Honor Online, had just been released a week ago and the gaming communities were still raving about it. On a rainy day like today, many thousands of players would be playing. Most of the people Kazuto knew who played FullDive games had bought the game, including…
Kazuto sighed again. Asuna would not be available today.
Suguha did not like to see Kazuto even remotely depressed. "What's wrong?"
Kazuto remembered her question. "Oh, nothing. It's just… I don't know what to do today."
Suguha smirked. "Already regretting not getting that new shooting game? I knew you were addicted to video games, but-"
"It's not that," he interrupted. "Call of Honor Online looked pretty interesting, but I feel like I've been Diving too much lately. I promised myself that I would try to work on… uh… my addiction," he finished awkwardly. It was true; he had only planned to log on to ALO every other day or so to see Yui and, when they were available, the others.
His sister continued smirking. "So you can't think of anything to do besides play video games?"
Kazuto pouted. "I didn't say that! I'd hang out with my friends, but they're not available."
Suguha glanced at the window as an ambulance passed by. "How about reading? Or kendo? Come on, onīchan, there's plenty of stuff to do."
"True," he admitted. "I guess I'll go practice in the dojo in a bit. Want to come with me?"
At first, Suguha seemed to be ignoring him. She had her head turned towards the window, making no acknowledgment that her brother had asked her something. This was highly unusual behavior from Suguha. Kazuto leaned forward. "Sugu?"
She didn't even budge. Kazuto worriedly observed how tense she was. She almost looked like she was listening to something... now that he thought about it, he could hear a lot of sirens in the area. As he was thinking, one of the sirens suddenly got louder. Another ambulance sped by the house, siren reaching an almost unbearable pitch.
"Probably a big accident," he thought aloud. "I hope everyone's alright…"
When a police car sped by, Suguha still hadn't moved. Suddenly Kazuto realized why she was so tense. "Sugu… like I said, it's probably a car accident. These things happen every day. There's no way… there's no way something like that could happen again. The government has the virtual reality industry on a tight leash – "
"Kazuto." His sister still hadn't turned from the window, but she was no shaking slightly. "Turn on the TV."
Kazuto made to pat her on the shoulder. "Sugu – "
"Please, Kazuto. Just humor me."
With an exaggerated sigh, Kazuto got up and headed into the other room. He wanted to let Suguha know how relaxed he was – even if unreasonable fear was seeping into his stomach. He approached the television, inhaled louder than he had meant to, and turned it on.
A scream echoed through the house.
"Oh my god! This okonomiyaki tastes like heaven!" screamed the girl on the TV. Kazuto let his breath out as the ad for Okonomiyaki Ucchan's continued. "It's alright, Sugu. No breaking news, no national disaster."
As he walked back into the kitchen, he frowned again at the sight of his little sister slumping in her seat. She looked relieved but exhausted, as if the thought alone of the infamous SAO incident repeating itself zapped her of energy. "Well, thank goodness," she remarked. "I've never been able to see emergency vehicles or hear sirens the same way since then. I suppose I'm just being silly."
"No, you're not," replied Kazuto as he sat down again, giving her a sympathetic look.
"Still, though…" she mumbled, as she looked out the window again. The sirens were fading. "I can't help but worry. Even though it should be impossible. Like you said, the government – "
She got no further as the ad on the TV, which was still on, suddenly cut off and the breaking news music played.
Neither sibling moved.
An hour and a half later, Kazuto sat in the office of a government official. He still had a hard time believing he had agreed to see the man. He shouldn't be here. He should be at her side, telling her it was going to be alright, making sure the paramedics didn't bounce her around too much as they rushed her through the rapidly-filling hospital. He could almost hear the sound of the heart monitor she was undoubtedly hooked up to at this moment.
"Yuuki-san? This is Kazuto… yes… NO! Mrs. Yuuki, there's no time to explain! Just make sure she hasn't Dived… Oh please, oh please, oh please…"
Asuna's mother never picked the phone back up, but he could hear her scream from whatever distance the phone lay.
His fists balled up.
How could this possibly happen?! he felt tempted to shout at the government office.
Before he could vent his frustration and confusion at the walls, the door opened and a suited man entered hurriedly, taking his seat behind the desk. "Kirigaya-kun? I'm Suzuki Hiroshi. Sorry to have kept you waiting."
"I can see you're quite busy." Kazuto wasn't going to give this man anything close to politeness.
The man slumped just a bit in his seat, as if he could feel the accusation in the boy's stare. "I'm afraid so. I'll get straight to the point. Obviously, someone triggered the attack – at precisely noon, when online activity was at a peak. From that point onward, no one has logged off." As he was speaking he unfolded a laptop and brought up several live news broadcasts. "Somehow Call of Honor Online was able to overpower the AmuSphere and other FullDive consoles and revert the safety features which distinguish them from the old NerveGear. The game's creator, Tojo Yamato, has claimed responsibility but has not been located yet."
Kazuto couldn't help but shout. "How? How did this happen? How did the government let another maniac trap another 10,000 people in a game right under its nose?"
Mr. Suzuki bowed his head. "We have no excuse. After SAO, everyone called for tighter regulation of the VR industry. We realized too late that the more people we poured into the appropriate departments, the more chances we gave people like Tojo to infiltrate and corrupt. The National Police Department and similar organizations are combing both the company behind the game and the government itself for suspects, but that doesn't change the fact that we let it happen. Again."
There was an uneasy silence in the room for a moment, before Kazuto spoke up. "Why did you call me here?"
The man's face became grimmer, if that was possible. "At this time, we're scrambling for ideas. Several people suggested sending in game experts, possibly even SAO veterans, to try and keep the players calm and lead them to clear the game. You were the first person I thought of." Mr. Suzuki shifted in his chair. "Please understand, I didn't ask you here to request that you risk your life by Diving into another death game so much as I wanted you to hear this, and to offer my assurance that the government – that is, the parts of it that haven't been compromised – will work even harder this time to save as many lives as we can, as quickly as possible."
Kazuto didn't know what to say. The idea of Diving in after Asuna had occurred to him, but his rational side had convinced him that such an act would be of little use. Unlike in Sword Art Online, he had zero experience playing Call of Honor Online. Due to his determination to keep himself away from the hottest new games for at least a little while, he barely even had any idea what the game was about, besides the fact that it was a VRMMOFPS. But now that a government official had mentioned it, even if he did imply that it wasn't a very good idea… Kazuto couldn't help but wonder…
Suguha would be devastated. So would his stepmother. On the other hand, living the next few hours… days… weeks, months, hell, probably years not knowing how close Asuna was to death…
"Besides Yuuki Asuna," he began, already knowing his decision, "how many other people I know happened to be playing CHO at noon today?"
Mr. Suzuki typed a bit on his laptop, then handed it to Kazuto. "Type in a name and home city."
In the next minute, to his immense dismay, the hero of SAO discovered that several of his best friends were trapped in essentially the same situation he had gotten them out of a year and a half ago. Tsuboi Ryoutarou, Andrew Mills, and Ayano Keiko had apparently all decided to play CHO today. Stupid Klein, Kazuto thought. He's supposed to be on vacation in Hawaii. What's he doing FullDiving? And Agil – at noon he's usually running his bar. And Silica… oh, you poor, unlucky girl…
At least Shinozaki Rika wasn't in the database of names. So that meant Lisbeth was safe. As was Suguha. That was two less names to worry about.
"I'll do it," Kazuto finally said. Mr. Suzuki looked shocked and was about to thank the young man in front of him profusely when he added, "on one condition. Don't let my sister follow me."
The intro is short and bad. Sorry, I hate intros. I wanted to get to the story quickly.
I really do appreciate reviews, positive or negative!