After the fiasco at the championship league, Kuroko Tamaki almost became addicted to gaming to take her away from reality for a few hours. Until Sword Art Online became a death game, and she then found a familiar face in the game itself – Ogiwara Shigehiro himself. Meanwhile on the other side, Seirin is going through Hell, knowing that there isn't anything that they could do to help. Ogiwara/Fem!Kuroko
I've been meaning to come up with a story like this for some time now, but just can't get enough inspiration for it, thus my brainstorming for nearly an entire year! Anyway, the Sword Art Online MMPORG in this story will also have elements borrowed from Log Horizon and several other MMPORGs that I've played in the past—mostly the classes and techniques and maybe even locations. And while I know that the anime Sword Art Online only have sword classes, thus the name of the game, I will have a few other classes in the game in my story that aren't wholly dependant on swords.
Warnings: AU Universe. OOC. Gender swap. Minor character bashing.
Disclaimer: I do not own Kuroko no Basuke and Sword Art Online and any of the characters, but the OC characters belongs to me
Chapter One: Link Start
Kuroko Tamaki first started getting into gaming as a child when she'd gotten to know Ogiwara Shigehiro.
The orange haired cheerful boy had been the only true friend that Tamaki and her cousin have at that age. Basketball had been the first thing that had linked them together. And as Tamaki's parents were almost never around, and Akashi Seijuro tends to avoid going home for as long as he could due to his father, Shigehiro had often invited the pair over to his home.
Shigehiro's parents have been college friends of their parents, and they have adored the two children. Thus, the three children often have sleepovers over at the Ogiwara residence. During the school holidays when they are not playing basketball, the three children could often be found at the Ogiwara residence playing some game on one of Shigehiro's gaming consoles.
Even still, Tamaki isn't what one would call a hardcore gamer. Sure, she loves gaming as much as her childhood friend did, since it actually helps to take her mind away from her lonely existence after Shigehiro had moved away and her parents have passed away during her middle school years.
Her addiction to gaming only begun during her third year at Teiko Middle School when everything started spiralling to Hell, and her friends started turning into the monsters that they are. It only got worse after the fiasco at the championship league, and when Tamaki isn't reading or studying, she is spending nearly every single waking hour that isn't spent on sleeping and eating on gaming.
Then she entered high school and joined the basketball club, gaining a new circle of friends that didn't and wouldn't abandon her. Even as gruff as Kagami acts, the guy is a softy when it comes to Tamaki, always making sure to look out for her. Hell, the entire team as a whole tries to look out for her. When asked, Kagami would reply that Tamaki had that look in her eyes that reminds him of cracked glass.
The redhead didn't like it, and did what he could to take the look away from Tamaki's eyes.
Koganei Shinji and Izuki Shun were amongst two of the seniors that got along like a house on fire with Tamaki, due to their love for gaming. After practice, whenever the team gets together at Maji Burger's for dinner, it is to find the three teens chatting about nearly every single game and console in existence, much to their teammates' amusement.
After their Inter High match with Shutoku High, somehow or other, Takao Kazunari had found out about Tamaki's love for gaming, and have exchanged contact information with the petite teal haired girl. After that, the two tend to spend several long hours having conversations about games via online chat and even text messages.
It had also been Koganei who had told Tamaki about the NerveGear – the newest and most high tech console that there ever was to exist, and even the new VMMPORG that had just been announced.
The cat-like senior had came to practice one day, excited, and waving about a gaming magazine that he had given to Tamaki, telling her and anyone who would listen about the announcement of the new game developed by the company that had also developed the gaming system designed to give a player the ultimate gaming experience ever.
The NerveGear was released about six months ago, and is like a giant helmet with an internal battery. It sent signals to the player's brain so that their mind is engulfed into the virtual world—so that they are literally 'in' the virtual world itself.
Takao had contacted Tamaki the very same night when Koganei had told her about the new game, Sword Art Online. Apparently, the company is seeking some beta testers to test out the functions of the game, and to suggest further improvements to the game itself so that the company could improve the game to produce the ultimate game for gaming fanatics.
Tamaki found herself dragged off to the game company in central Tokyo the next day by an excited Takao who had appeared on her doorstep bright and early in the morning. And before she even knew what is going on, both teens have left the company building with a copy of Sword Art Online in their hands—being one of the one thousand beta testers privileged to play the game before it could even hit the shelves.
Koganei was almost drooling in envy when he'd heard that Tamaki was accepted as a beta tester by the game company, and was pestering Tamaki to the point of annoyance for details after each practice every single day after that, much to the amusement of the entire team. While Kagami isn't such a hardcore gamer like Tamaki and Koganei, he does do some gaming occasionally and couldn't help but be excited as well when Tamaki had told them about the game.
It is after all the first virtual MMO that allows a player to perform a full virtual body dive into the world of the game itself.
Tamaki had teamed up with Takao at first during the first few weeks of the beta test—after having designed her game avatar and picked her job class. She didn't make herself look that outrageously good looking like some of the other beta testers. All she did is merely to make her avatar have black hair instead of her teal blue hair, and with silver eyes instead of her sky blue eyes. And unlike Takao who'd picked the Swordsman class, even customising his avatar to have green hair but with silver-blue eyes (probably as a joke to Midorima), Tamaki had picked the Assassin class, having valued speed over power.
Takao had nearly laughed himself into a coma when he'd finally managed to find Tamaki in the Town of Beginnings where every player will find themselves when they'd logged into the game. Before they've actually started playing Sword Art Online, both have told the other their avatar names so that they could find the other in the game.
Playing Sword Art Online as one of the beta testers had given Tamaki a close circle of friends amongst the other beta testers. All of them were fun, cheerful and were more than willing to assist Tamaki and Takao. One was even particularly helpful, actually teaching the duo how to level up and battle monsters, and even where to find the best places to level up and for item collection.
A month after the beta test had been concluded marked the opening of the biggest VMMPORG gathering of the century – the opening of Sword Art Online. Takao had been messaging Tamaki all day about the game—even when they were in class, with the two making arrangements to meet up at their usual spot in Aincard for the official opening of the game.
Koganei and Izuki were sad that they could not get their hands on copies of the game, as it'd sold out in stores by the time that they got there, but both cheered up after Tamaki promised to let them borrow it sometime. Hyuuga looked almost exasperated as usual at their gaming talk, but let them be.
"I just finished my shower. At least let me rest for a few minutes." Tamaki said, amused, balancing her sky blue cellphone in between her cheek and her shoulder even as she refilled the bowl of her puppy with dog food and water. Aoi, the small black and white husky whom she'd taken in after the Seirin versus Shutoku match nearly a month ago barked happily before diving into his food bowl. "Honestly, my coach got annoyed with all the buzzing that my phone kept giving out throughout practice. I thought that she would double the drills that I have to do. It's nearly a miracle that my teachers didn't catch my phone buzzing during class. How on earth did you slip past your teachers' notice?"
"Sorry." Takao didn't sound very sorry at all on the other end of the line. "So I'll see you at Aincard in a few then?"
Tamaki almost rolled her eyes. "Right. Maybe if we're lucky, we can catch up with Kirito and a few of the others. Caet emailed me a few days ago, asking if we want to team up like how we did during the beta testing period. We have to level up all over again, you realise?"
Takao's grumbling made Tamaki laugh even as she hung up her phone.
It is true that the beta testers start out at Level 1 like any other player the moment that the beta test period is over. But as they already knew all the ins and outs of the game, and thus, also knew where the best levelling up areas are, it isn't so much of a loss for them, since they probably could level up the fastest out of all the players in the game. And not to mention that they also know how to earn in-game money as fast as possible.
During the beta test period, several of the beta testers actually formed teams in order to conquer the bosses in each level of Aincard. After all, the floor bosses are not enemies that they could take on as solo players. All the beta testers learned that the hard way during the first week of beta testing. As a result, the beta testers that formed regular teams and plays with each other have became good friends even in reality. Though as most of them lived on opposite ends of each other in Japan, they became mail buddies or even texting buddies, often making dates to meet up in Sword Art Online over the three month beta testing period of the game.
"Aoi, be a good boy, do you hear me?" Tamaki told her puppy who only let out a light happy bark, his tail wagging happily behind him.
The teal haired girl smiled at her puppy even as she set up the NerveGear helmet as well as the Sword Art Online game before turning it on, climbing into her bed, ready to go into the virtual world.
The familiar sights of the Town of Beginnings greeted Tamaki's eyes, and she smiled to herself.
Sword Art Online truly did deserve the title of 'hottest game of the year'. After all, previous MMPORGs have just been games that they played on a computer, with the player controlling their character. Until the NerveGear was developed by the same company that had developed the Sword Art Online game, no one even dreamed that it's possible for a gamer to be able to be in the game itself.
Lots of people were already milling about the in the town plaza of the Town of Beginnings—the place where all players would find themselves in when they first logged into the game. And through the double doors that led into the marketplace, there were already people mingling about and buying items, armour and even weapons. The people in the town plaza were already trying to form parties and guilds, all of them eager to start on their quest to conquer all one hundred floors of Aincard.
A loud voice kept calling her name over and over, and Tamaki almost groaned as she turned around to see a grinning male just a head taller than her with messy bright green hair and silver-blue eyes waving at her. He was dressed in the starting gear that all players at Level 1 were given, with two long blades by his sides—starting weapons given to the Swordsman class. It is similar to the starting weapons of Tamaki's chosen class, but in her case, the Assassin class uses twin short blades.
"You don't call me by my real name in front of a crowd in Aincard!" Tamaki was annoyed, turning to face Takao Kazunari. "It's Tsuyu!"
"Sorry. Sorry." Takao grinned, not apologetic at all. "Where's Caet?" He asked, looking around in search of the player that had teamed up with them more than any other beta tester that they have befriended over the three month testing period.
"Here," said a monotone voice, and both turned to see a tall man with black hair and yellow eyes, dressed in the starting gear for the Samurai class.
The tall man is also a fellow beta player whom Tamaki and Takao have met during the beta testing period, and have teamed up together along with a few other beta players. They are probably one of the groups that actually advanced the furthest during the testing period.
Playing MMPORG games, or literally any type of game can actually allow Tamaki to forget that she's basically 'invisible' to nearly everyone in the real world, as her 'invisibility' doesn't mean anything in the virtual world. And then again, she had started becoming a lot more visible towards the end of her third year in Teiko…
"Should we go?" Tamaki asked Takao. "We might want to gain a few levels before anything else." She suggested. "We need to earn more Col to buy better gear and weapons as well."
"Yeah. Good idea." Takao nodded before he led the way through the marketplace, taking a shortcut by the side alleys that the three knew led to one of the training fields that will allow them to gain some starting levels quickly before attempting to battle some other high level monsters in some of the other monster fields.
To their surprise, they ran into two players on the way there—one with slightly longish black hair and the other with slightly longish pink hair with a red bandanna around his forehead. The trio of players recognised the dark haired player instantly, having teamed up with him several times throughout the beta testing period, and he had even showed them the ropes the first time that they have played Sword Art Online and didn't even know what they're doing.
"Kirito?" Takao voiced out in surprise, and Kirito looked surprised to see them, but also pleased. "It's been awhile! Who's this?" He eyed Kirito's pink haired companion in surprise.
"Well, he's a new player, and I'm about to show him the ropes for a bit." Kirito sighed with a shrug. "Why don't the three of you come as well? You're about to go level up, right?" He enquired.
Tamaki nodded before turning towards the pink haired guy who is practically staring at her with hearts in his eyes for some reason. "I'm Tsuyu. Nice to meet you. This is Kaz," she gestured towards Takao on her right side, "And Caet," she gestured towards the tall man on her left.
"They are also beta testers." Kirito explained to Klein who doesn't even seem to be listening, jerking a thumb towards Tamaki, Takao and Caet. "I met them during the beta testing period, and we've even teamed up several times."
"Well, SAO isn't a game that you can conquer by yourself, especially the floor bosses." Caet grunted.
And then, before Tamaki even knew what is going on, the pink haired man had grasped her right hand with both of his. "Nice to meet you! I'm Klein! Twenty-two years old and currently single!"
"Right." Caet pried Klein's hands from Tamaki effortlessly. "Why don't we keep on moving? I would like to at least get to level fifteen by today. It'll make conquering the first floor boss hell of a lot easier."
"Aiming for the floor boss already?" Kirito joked. "You're ambitious, Caet."
"Right back at you."
Due to their familiarity of the area around Aincard up to the tenth floor since that's the furthest that they've ever ventured during the beta test period, the four beta testers brought Klein straight to one of the starting battle fields – the West Field on the Floor of Beginnings to battle against a horde of hogs that can give them some rather impressive EXP, also giving Klein a quick crash course on the battle system of SAO.
Like all MMPORGs, SAO have a variety of job classes that the players could pick, even having a sub class like a crafter, blacksmith, cook, etc. The main job classes are typically Samurai, Swordsman, Swashbuckler, Defender, Assassin and Monk – the warrior job classes. Most players new to the game typically pick either Swordsman or Monk – two of the job classes that have the highest attacking power and also have high HP. The sole difference between the two is that the Swordsman class attacks with swords, even able to equip a large variety of all bladed weapons that ranged from broadswords to rapiers and even one-handed or two-handed swords. Whereas the Monk uses fists or a short blade. On the other hand, a Defender has average attack power, but have the highest defense stats out of the six job classes in SAO, with their main role typically being to draw the attention of the enemy and to take the most damage. Hence why Defender isn't exactly a job class that most would pick. The Swashbuckler and Assassin job classes on the other hand are typically categorised in the 'expert job classes'. Unlike the Swordsman and the Monk classes, the Swashbuckler and Assassin job classes favour speed, and both job classes are also capable of dual wielding.
However, all job classes have several battle skills, and it really depends on each player's preference. For example, the Swordsman class could choose to either wield a sword single-handed or even two-handed. Whereas the Swashbuckler and the Assassin job classes dual wield weapons, no matter what they do. Unlike the Swashbuckler that can only wield mid-length blades however, the Assassin class could typically handle any form of weapon available in SAO. The Assassin class is also the only job class that have Stealth and Night Vision, hence allowing them to hide from view and cloak themselves.
Much of their time are typically spent on explaining to Klein the battle systems and the job classes, with Klein paying close attention when Takao touched on the Swordsman class, since that had been the job class that Klein had picked as well.
As the four beta testers have already fought together in battle several times during the beta test period, they have good teamwork, and could level up quickly. They tried to cover Klein as much as they could until he got used to the battle system, and had even managed to kill five hogs on his own the moment that he had grinded up to level five. After that, they could then take their eyes off Klein for a bit as they work on increasing their EXP and battle skills, also mindful of the durability of their starting weapons, and collecting item drops from monsters as they go. Most of the items, they could use to either upgrade their current equipment, or even take it to a crafter to have the crafter craft several useful items for them that would boost their stats.
All SAO players could place an unlimited number of items in their item inventory, so they could access it at any moment, even if they are in the dungeons or hunting grounds. However, the item inventory doesn't do anything for the durability of items and the freshness of food items.
Right now, Tamaki and Takao were both staring, amused at the sight of a groaning Klein as one of the mid-level monsters in the area kicked the pink haired guy in the crotch, with Kirito staring, deadpanned, not too far away from him. Caet was making a show of cleaning his sword even as 'CONGRATULATIONS' windows appeared in front of each of them, showing the EXP and the amount of Col that they've gained after slaying a group of about twenty mid-level hogs.
"Give me a break." Kirito sighed, walking over to Klein. "You don't feel any pain, right?"
Kirito sighed, exchanging looks with his friends who only shrugged. They've done the explanation of SAO's system earlier. It is Kirito's turn to teach Klein the battle system—or more specifically, how to access his sword skills. "I've told you." Kirito turned back towards Klein. "What's important is your initial motion input."
"Sure, I get that." Klein grumbled. "But he keeps moving about." He pointed at the gray hog not too far away from them, ignoring all five players as it munched on a blade of grass.
"It brings back memories." Takao chuckled, sitting down on the grass to watch the 'tutoring system', with Tamaki and Caet on either side of him. "Kirito taught us how to play the game during the beta testing period too." He reminded Tamaki who smiled at the memory. "He teamed up with us during the first floor boss fight, remember?"
"Hey, you guys done over there?" Kirito called out to them over his shoulder. "Let's head over to the next one!"
It was sunset by the time that they have decided to take a break from hunting monsters for EXP and Col gain.
Tamaki still has no idea how the developers have done it, but for some reason, they have made the passage of time in SAO reflect that of real Japan time. Probably so that the players—majority of which are middle school or high school students wouldn't lose track of time and forget to study and go to school, or something like that.
"I still can't believe it, no matter how many times I've seen it." Klein admitted as he stared at the horde of dragonlings in the sky. "That we're in a game. Whoever made it is a genius."
"Well, I can share your sentiments." Takao grinned, raising his hand in the sky, feeling the sensation of the wind blowing through his hair and even his hand. "It's difficult to believe that just simple data and numbers could create a world like this." He gestured around them.
"But that's what make games so fun." Tamaki smiled to herself. "You get to live in a completely different world, and live a completely different life from the one that you have in reality."
"Well, true. But it is only for a few hours, you realise?" Caet pointed out. "It's too bad, but it's back to studies, club activities and then prep exams for me after this. It's a pain." He sighed, rubbing the back of his neck, grumbling beneath his breath.
"Oh, you're a student?" Klein asked, curious. "High school? Or university?"
"My final year of high school." Caet answered, irritated. "I have university entrance exams this year. And my school is one of those who wouldn't permit their students to score less than eighty for each paper. What a pain." He grumbled. "All the cram classes and even prep exams are going to kill me before I could take the university entrance exams for real. So what even if I'm aiming for Todai? I know my standard. I'm currently in the top ten of my school." Caet huffed, annoyed. "And you shouldn't ask players about their lives in reality." He reminded Klein. "It's kind of a rule in MMPORG games."
"I guess so." Klein smiled sheepishly. "But still, this game is amazing." He said again, looking at his surroundings in wonder. "Seriously, I'm glad I was born in this time."
"You make a big deal out of everything." Kirito sighed.
"It's my first full dive!"
"Right. Right. You both can argue again another time." Tamaki interrupted. "It's getting late." She gestured towards the setting sun. "Do you want to hunt some more or log out?"
"I'd love to, but I have a ton of assignments to complete." Caet said apologetically. "I'm sorry, but I have to log out. I'll see you here tomorrow at the same time?" He asked Takao and Tamaki.
"Yeah, of course." Takao nodded. "I have to go too. My mum cooks dinner at this time every day."
"I'm waiting for my pizza." Klein whined. "But I'll be back after I've eaten! The three of you?" He asked Tamaki, Takao and Caet.
"Yeah, I think I'll see you tomorrow too." Tamaki sighed. "I have homework to complete."
"Oh, the wonders of being a student." Klein grinned, hanging his arm around Tamaki's shoulders, much to her annoyance. "But don't fret, you'll be free from school in a few years, then you can do what you want. In the meantime though…" He released his hold around Tamaki's shoulders, opening up the menu interface. "I think I'll log off too…— Huh?" The four beta testers turned towards Klein in confusion. The pink haired man is staring at his menu interface in confusion. "There's no button to log out."
"There shouldn't be—" Takao who had walked over to Klein to point out the log out button for him froze as he stared over Klein's shoulder, as the familiar 'Exit' button at the bottom of the main menu isn't there anymore. He quickly turned around to face his companions. "Hey, can any of you log out?" He asked, bringing up his menu interface as well only to see that the 'Exit' button isn't on his menu either.
Tamaki, Caet and Kirito exchanged bewildered looks before they brought up their own menu interfaces only to freeze, as the 'Exit' button isn't there any longer.
"See, not there." Klein pointed out.
"Maybe it's a glitch or something?" Caet suggested. "They're probably looking into it right now."
"Shh!" Tamaki hushed them, a frown on her face, her head cocked to one side. "Do you hear that?"
There was a low gong that echoed throughout the clearing, and then before either of them could react, a flash of blue enveloped each of their bodies and they then disappeared from the meadows.
Each of them reappeared once more at the town plaza of the Town of Beginnings. Looking around, Tamaki realised that more and more players were being teleported into the town plaza, each of them looking worried and bewildered.
"A forced teleport?" Kirito murmured, confused.
"Hey! Kaz! Tsuyu! Caet!" A loud voice called out, and as Tamaki turned around, it is to see a dirty blonde haired teen with spiky hair and blue eyes making their way towards them, with a black haired teen slightly taller than him walking behind him.
"Ciav! Nirali!" Takao nodded to the two who have been one of the few beta testers that they've teamed up frequently with in the past. They have met the duo when they were on Floor 4, and have teamed up together with them until they've conquered the tenth floor at the end of the beta testing period.
"What do you think is going on?" Ciav asked first of all, breathless. "I can't contact the Game Master at all."
"I have no idea, but I have a feeling that we're about to find out." Tamaki said coolly, pointing upwards.
A small hexagonal shape in the colour of deep red had appeared in the sky with the word Warning written on it. And then, more similar signs appeared, along with several signs that read System Announcement, thus dyeing the once orange sunset sky crimson red.
Then, almost like something from a horror movie, a dark red liquid started leaking from the cracks in between the signs in the sky. Slowly, the thick liquid blended together to form an enlarged hooded figure that towered over the thousands of players who have gathered at the town plaza.
"Is that the Game Master?" Nirali asked in confusion. "Why isn't he showing his face?"
The murmurs from the rest of the crowd echoed Nirali's question as well, as from most game magazines that featured the Game Master of a game, especially an MMPORG, the face of this particular Game Master isn't visible from beneath the hood.
"Attention players." Tamaki stiffened as she recognised the voice—having heard the same voice on the television and even the radio throughout the past few months when the game creator was invited by the media to talk more about Sword Art Online during the few months prior to the game's official release. "Welcome to my world. My name is Kayaba Akihiko. As of this moment, I am the sole person who can control this world."
Tamaki's eyes widened. She recalled the game magazine that Koganei-sempai had brought to practice that day several months ago, waving it about, with the magazine featuring Sword Art Online, the NerveGear, the company that had created them, and even the creator behind these two items – Kayaba Akihiko himself.
"I'm sure you've already noticed that the logout button is missing from the main menu. But this is not a defect in the game." Tamaki is starting to realise what is going on now, and her face paled. She exchanged looks with Kirito who looked furious—obviously, he understood what is going on as well. "I repeat, this is not a defect in the game. It is a feature of Sword Art Online. You cannot log out of SAO yourselves. And no one on the outside can shut down or remove the NerveGear. Should this be attempted, the transmitter inside the NerveGear will emit a powerful microwave, destroying your brain and thus ending your life."
That brought forth a new wave of protests and demands for their questions to be answered. A couple even attempted to leave the town plaza, dismissing the Game Master's claims, only to be knocked back into the town plaza by an invisible barrier of some sort.
"What's he talking about?" Klein asked nervously, not even wanting to consider the possibility of such a thing. "Hey, is such a thing even possible?" He asked Kirito.
"Theoretically, it is possible." Caet was the one to answer, furrowing his brows with concern. "He is right that the transmitter's signals of the NerveGear work just like microwaves. I mean, it is possible for the NerveGear to allow the user to perform a full body dive into a game, right?" He pointed out.
"And if the safety is disabled, it could fry a brain." Kirito realised, realising the implications of such a situation.
"Then if we cut the power?" Klein questioned.
"No, it's not possible." Tamaki shook her head. "The NerveGear has an internal battery, remember?" She pointed out, only making everyone more nervous. After all, everything that Kayaba Akihiko had said thus far isn't technically false.
The voice of Kayaba Akihiko raised a few volumes due to the loud protests and murmurs of the players. "Unfortunately, several players' friends and families have ignored this warning, and have attempted to remove the NerveGear. As a result, two hundred and thirteen players are gone forever, from both Aincard and the real world."
"Two hundred and thirteen?" Kirito visibly paled from next to Takao.
"I don't believe this!" Klein stubbornly protested. "This can't be happening!"
Tamaki exchanged looks with Takao who looked worried and a tad bit terrified as well. She live alone, but if something like this is true and is probably broadcasted on news stations all over the world by now, chances are that her aunt and maybe even her teammates would be attempting to break her door down should she not take their calls or even fail to turn up at school or even work.
There are people that would notice if she should go missing, and would sound the alarm. But what about the rest of the players in the game? Would there be anyone who would notice?
"As you can see, news organisations across the world are reporting all of this, including the deaths." Kayaba Akihiko continued speaking, even as multiple windows appeared in mid-air around him, with video feed from news stations appearing on it. "Thus, you can assume that the danger of a NerveGear being removed is now minimal. I hope you will relax and attempt to clear the game." Tamaki's eyes widened as she finally understood what this is all about, and what it means for them—the players of Sword Art Online. "But please remember this. There is no longer any method to revive someone within the game. If your HP drops to zero, your avatar will be forever lost. And simultaneously, the NerveGear will destroy your brain."
Tamaki felt faint at this point, and could barely stand on her feet. Ciav who is next to her steadied her on her feet by grasping her arm gently. She understood where Kayaba Akihiko is going with this now. In other words, should someone die in this game from now on, they will no longer get automatically be transported to the Cathedral to get revived. From now on, if someone dies in Sword Art Online, they will also die for real in the real world.
"There is only one means of escape." Kayaba Akihiko's voice sounded abnormally loud in the deadly silence that had now enveloped the entire plaza. Everyone was now too shocked to even protest. A few players have even fallen to the ground on their behinds, unable to stand any longer. "In order to complete the game, or in other words, to escape from this world. You are presently on the lowest floor of Aincard, Floor 1." A blue-green hologram image of the floating castle of Aincard appeared in front of the robed figure of the Game Master. "If you make your way through the dungeon and defeat the Floor Boss, you may advance to the next level. Defeat the final boss on Floor 100, and you will clear the game."
"Clear the game?"
"What is he talking about?"
"I see…" Tamaki bit on the edge of her thumb, gritting her teeth in silent fury, but the furious expression in her eyes spoke wonders for her. As one, the six boys around her took a step back from her gingerly, each having more than enough experience with furious females in their life to know just how scary a furious woman could be. "Sword Art Online had just turned into a death game. This isn't just a simple game anymore."
"Clear all one hundred floors?" Klein seemed to be in a state of shock as he repeated what Kayaba had just announced. "That's impossible! Even the beta testers never made it anywhere near that high!"
The beta testers – Tamaki, Takao, Kirito, Caet, Ciav and Nirali exchanged worried looks with each other. Even throughout the three month period of beta testing for Sword Art Online prior to the official release, the furthest that they have managed is just Floor 10, and even so, they have only managed to do so by the skin of their teeth, and by cooperating with each other.
The Floor Boss of each floor gets tougher as they advance further. Getting better equipment and weapons, and even increasing their battle skill and level doesn't guarantee a victory against the Floor Boss either. Some Floor Bosses are just not possible to be beaten by one or two people. There are some Floor Bosses that are beatable only when at least a minimum of ten people engages in battle at the same time.
Even so, Sword Art Online isn't Tamaki's first MMPORG. Preparation for boss battles in other MMPORG games had led Tamaki to character deaths countless times, and Tamaki isn't what you would call an offensive player. She tends to perform battles with tactics and strategies in mind—often succeeding with her HP barely falling into the yellow zone. Hence why so many beta testers have wanted to team up with her during the SAO beta testing period when they have discovered what she's capable of.
And now Kayaba Akihiko is telling them that the only way to beat the game and thus get out of SAO is to clear all one hundred floors and beat the final Floor Boss?
There's no way that they could achieve this.
"Finally, I've added a present from me to your item storage. Please see for yourselves."
Exchanging bewildered looks with the rest of her friends, Tamaki immediately brought up her menu interface and went to her item storage menu. She still had the item drops from the monsters that she had battled several hours earlier, including the special equipment and weapons that were given to her as a gift due to her status as a beta tester. Finally, Tamaki saw the item at the bottom of the list that she doesn't remember getting.
"Mirror?" Tamaki murmured in confusion, selecting the item from the menu, with a simple hand mirror appearing in a flash of blue in mid-air and falling into her hand.
It was a simple design of a hand mirror—almost similar to the one that she had at her home. Her chosen avatar of a black haired female with silver eyes stared back at her in confusion in the reflection of the mirror.
And then, without warning, there were panicked screams from the other players around her, including Klein and Takao, even as flashes of bright white light engulfed them. Tamaki let out a startled scream as the same light engulfed her, shielding her eyes from the bright light.
Almost as soon as it had begun, it was over.
"Everyone! Are you all right?" Kirito's voice echoed out, panicked.
"Y-Yeah." Tamaki turned to face the Swordsman, only to stare in confusion. "Uh… Who are you?" She asked, staring at the almost feminine face of a black haired teen standing in front of her, looking as confused as she feels. Not too far away from him is a young man in his early twenties wearing the same bandanna that Klein had been wearing earlier.
"And who are you?" The black haired teen asked in complete confusion, looking from her to the bandanna wearing man.
Tamaki glanced over at Takao's direction and saw that he's wearing his real face once more. Next to him where Caet had been standing earlier is that of a tall silver haired teen with a handsome face and dark eyes. Their faces looked confused as well.
Tamaki caught her reflection in the hand mirror that she had been holding before the white light had engulfed them, and saw her real face staring back at her. The large group of players that have chosen beautiful and handsome avatars for themselves have also reverted back to their true forms.
"You're a guy?"
"You were lying about being seventeen?"
"Which means…" Takao turned towards the now silver haired Caet in bewilderment. "You're Caet?" He hollered. "Damn it!" He clutched at his head. "How is this even possible?"
"The NerveGear covers your entire head with a high-density signalling device. So it can see what your face looks like." Kirito furrowed his brows, trying to come up with a reasonable explanation. "But our height and body shape…"
"When we first used the NerveGear, it had us calibrate it, right?" Klein reminded them. "You had to touch your body all over. But…!" Klein clutched at his now spiky dark brown hair with agitation. "Ahhh! What is going on here? Why did he do this?"
"Right now, you're probably wondering 'Why?' Why would Kayaba Akihiko, developer of Sword Art Online and the NerveGear, do all this?" Kayaba said smoothly once the initial shock of everyone had died down. "My goal had already been achieved. I created Sword Art Online for one reason. To create this world and intervene in it. And now, it is complete. This ends the tutorial for the official Sword Art Online launch. Good luck, players."
The Game Master's figure then distorted and twisted before it vanished, along with all the red signs that have once covered the skies, thus leaving a shocked silence in his wake.
It didn't take long for the screams of disbelief and outrage to break out.
Staring back at Takao and Caet, Tamaki could see that they are in a state of shock and disbelief too.
"…T-Tamaki?" A shocked voice spoke from behind her tentatively, almost as if he couldn't believe his eyes.
Tamaki's eyes widened, almost forgetting that Ciav and Nirali are with them too. She turned around to face them, and her eyes widened even further as she saw the two figures that were standing where Ciav and Nirali were standing earlier.
A dark orange haired teen with soft brown eyes is standing where Ciav is standing earlier, a shocked expression on his face. Next to him, a tall teen with sleek black hair and dark eyes was standing where Nirali had been standing earlier, a bewildered expression on his face.
Tamaki felt as if she had stopped breathing as she stared, dropping the mirror in her hands with shock. The mirror crashed to the ground—being pulled by gravity, and dissolved into hundreds of pale green hexagonal shards.
A/N: My first time attempting a crossover fic between Kuroko no Basuke and Sword Art Online, and for certain reasons, this won't be filed under the crossover section. Anyway, while Kirito had appeared in this story, and he is most definitely considered a close friend of Tamaki and Takao's, he won't be the main focus of this story. And on that note, I might or might not have Tamaki build a guild of her own. And if that happens, would you like Kirito to join it? Or maybe even Klein?
Also, a cookie to anyone who could guess who Caet is. A hint: he's a high school senior; he had silver hair; he is a canon character in KnB. And in case anyone is wondering, this story would alternate between chapters between the characters in the game and then to the people outside the game. So it would go 'SAO world, real world, SAO world, real world'.
The game character names and job classes of the ones introduced thus far, and I will also be updating the list in future chapters:
Kuroko Tamaki: Assassin (Tsuyu)Takao Kazunari: Swordsman (Kaz)?: Samurai (Caet)Ogiwara Shigehiro: Swashbuckler (Ciav)Mochida Kanata: Defender (Nirali)
If anyone can suggest a better story title, it'll be much appreciated! I hope that you guys like this chapter, and please read and review!