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Sword Art Online: The Alternative

By Jhen Lim

Romance / Fantasy

In The Beginning

PROLOGUE:

August 2022...

It was a rainy afternoon... As a young boy and Akihiko Kayaba played a game of chess in the young boy's mansion...

The young boy's name is Chihiro Sato. 14 years of age. The only child in the Sato household. Kayaba has been a friend of Chihiro's family for a long time. His parents met Kayaba during a conference one summer. And since then, they became close friends.

''Hmm...'' Kayaba hummed. Chihiro just smirked.

''A good move. I did not foresee that. As expected from you, the heir to the Sato Corporation.''

''I'm glad you came to realize that Mr. Kayaba...''

''You should be more careful where you place your pieces.'' Chihiro added, a grin on his face

''Well, I'm not talented in this game as you are Chihiro.''

''You don't need to be talented to win, just have the right strategy... I think I've told you that a hundred times.''

''Yes, and many times I've fallen in defeat every time we played chess.'' Kayaba said, accepting defeat.

''You flatter me too much Mr. Kayaba.'' Chihiro said with a smirk, liking the praise from Kayaba.

''Well it's true, the same goes to everyone who challenged you... You seem to come out on top.''

''Haha.'' Chihiro laughed softly. "You know me, I never back down whenever there's a challenge.'' The young boy stated firmly. He loves it whenever he's challenged and he knows he would beat the opponent or whatever that stands in his way.

''Wrong move Kayaba...''

The game went on. Kayaba struggling in Chihiro's hands. They would usually play chess every time Kayaba visited. And every time Chihiro would win against him.

A few hours had passed and the it stopped raining. The game nearly ending as Chihiro make his last move.

''Checkmate.'' The boy declared.

''Good game as always, Chihiro.''

''Not bad, Kayaba. You've been improving since the last time we played, but it's still not enough to land you a victory.''

''It's okay, I'll try my luck next time.''

Chihiro invited Kayaba to the study room where they would have tea and discuss some things.

''More tea Mr. Kayaba?'' The boy asked.

''Yes please.''

''Alright.''

Chihiro called his butler who went in after he called him a few times.

''What were you doing, Macao?'' Chihiro asked his butler.

''I called you five times.'' The young boy added.

''Forgive me sir, I was busy with something your father ordered me to do.''

''Ugh. Fine, whatever. Could you get us more tea?''

''Yes sir, right away.''

It was late in the afternoon and Kayaba was ready to leave and head back to his office. Chihiro accompanied him to the door.

''By the way, remember the last time I proposed a certain project to your parents?'' Kayaba asked.

''That new online game you created?''

''Yes, but not just any online game...''

''...yeah yeah, the first ever Virtual Reality MMORPG game...'' Chihiro continued.

''Sword Art Online, was it?'' The boy asked, making sure he got the name of the game correctly.

''Yes. SAO for short'' Kayaba answered.

''So, what about it?''

''I just want to thank especially your parents for partnering with me and funding the project. This has always been my dream... To create a virtual world.''

''Without your parent's support, I would not have the budget for this project and especially for the NerveGear.'' Kayaba said with gratitude.

''So in behalf of the staff that is working on this, thank you for making this dream of mine a reality.''

''No problem. I'll extend your thanks to them.''

''Thank you Chihiro. And for that, I have an invitation for you, a little something to show my gratitude towards you as well.''

''Oh?'' Chihiro was surprised by what Kayaba said.

''There's going to be a beta test for SAO in three days. And I'm still looking for people to be beta testers...'' Kayaba offered the young boy.

''... So what you're saying is...''

''... I'm inviting you to be one for SAO.'' Kayaba finished.

''What do you mean?'' Chihiro asked, not sure of what Kayaba is saying.

''Exactly what it means... Become a beta tester for Sword Art Online.'' Kayaba said clearly.

Chihiro just stood there. He was taken aback by the invitation. A smile made its way to the boy's face.

''Interesting...'' Chihiro uttered.

''It's the least I can do for the family that has supported me in this project... So, do you accept?''

''Sure, why not? I'd be glad to be a beta tester for this game.''

''Good. Well I'll be going now. I'll send you the hardware along with the game in three days. I'm sure you'll enjoy your time being a beta tester in SAO.'' Kayaba said while leaving.

Chihiro watched as Kayaba enters his car and drives his way out of the gate. He was thinking if he made a good choice accepting to become a beta tester. He didn't want to regret his decision and waste time.

''Beta tester huh? Interesting...''


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