I think you should just give up on the idea of me writing any given story (the only current exception being Duo of Darkness, which I plan to finish at some point) at this point, unless a bunch of people want me to I suppose.

For the first time, I came up with this idea myself! (yes I know there is those three other stories with entirely different games, but this isn't inspired by those, but by something else I wanted in this) Yay me!

This story will also be different from my others because it will have a—hopefully—large(r) cast, with most of them OCs though. For those of you who like Kirito though (that's basically me when I'm reading stories), worry not, as he will be in the main group.

PS. I beat the Akinator (if you don't know what that is, look it up, it's freaky how good it is. It asks you ~20 yes/no/don't know/probably/probably not questions (well if you answer them all with yes or no anyway, it depends on how long it takes for it to figure out) then it tells you what character you're thinking about, be it anime, cartoons, reality, movies, books, basically anything I've tried it has guessed.

(1st person, Komatsu (family name) Rei (given name), August 2nd, 2023)

"Bye mom!"

"Where're you going?" she asks just before I can run out the door.

"Just meeting up with some friends!" I yell from the door. She'd surely let me go, since she's always trying to get me to spend less time on the computer and more with friends.

"Alright, be back by dinner!" she calls and I cheerfully leave the house and get on my bike.

The group I was meeting with were my party from the MMORPG called Ethril Isles—though we'd met in a different game—and we had recently found out that we were all within half an hour of a certain park, so we decided to meet up in meat space.

The meeting was scheduled at around 2, which was in about 30 minutes. I happened to live close to the park in question so I was only about 15 minutes away by bike, but hopefully somebody else would arrive early too.

I arrive at the park and tie my bike up. Then I climb into a tree and wait, though I don't end up waiting long as our 'badass pretty boy swordsman' who I may or may not have a crush on arrives. I deftly drop out of the tree and wave.

"Hey Komei!" he says with a wave, calling me by my in game name.

"I'm Komatsu Rei but, just call me Rei, Kirito," I say, putting emphasis on his in game name, basically asking himself to introduce himself.

"Kirigaya Kazuto, just call me Kazuto, I guess," he says, introducing himself. Kirigaya Kazuto, Kirito. Komatsu Rei, Komei, he did the same thing for his username as I did.

Uh... what do you say to people in cases like this...

There's an awkward silence, however, before one of us can make it more awkward by saying something stupid, Sinon—our resident archer—shows up. Well that's 3 of us like 15 minutes early... now the remaining half of us need to arrive early and we're golden.

And it just so happens to happen.

A cheerful pink haired girl walks up.

"Hey guys!" calls a girl with long hair dyed blue as she waves. Next to her was her younger brother, a year and a half or so younger than her,—though still a little over half a year older than me—the two were our healer and tank.

"Hey! So we all got here early, it seems," I say.

"Seems that way, well, I'm Ozaki Enko, and he's Soseki," the healer introduces herself and her younger brother.

"Maki Minori," the pink haired ball of cheer and energy says.

"I'm Asada Shino," the archer says.

"Kirigaya Kazuto."

"Komatsu Rei," I finish.

"Well, know that we got that boring stuff out of the way and will probably end up calling each other by our usernames anyway, I got this pamphlet at some game event a couple days ago and I brought it along, thought you guys might be interested," Enko says, taking out a pamphlet.

We all come closer to look at and it says, "Ethril Isles, FullDive version closed-beta. The 1000 players testing the game will include those who register from the 333 top players from the 2D version of the game, and the remaining slots will be randomly selected from the entries. Register now to get a chance to beta test the first ever VRMMORPG!" It then had an address at which register, where a photo ID would be required. I guess so people couldn't enter multiple times.

"Top 333 players? We'll since we're in the top 333 players, we're guaranteed in!" I say.

Since we all immediately agreed to go register right now, Enko took out her phone and got directions to the location, which appeared to be an office building of Argus, the company which was responsible for the FullDive equipment—the NerveGear—and the FullDive version of Ethril Isles, though not the 2D version.

"That's quite the line..." Shino says quietly.

"Well what did you expect, I'm surprised there isn't more of a line," Kazuto says.

"Hey guys, we didn't actually need to come here," I say, looking at the pamphlet.


"Well, we can just register on the Ethril Isles website or in game using our accounts. See?" I say, pointing at the line in relatively small text at the bottom.

We all look at each other with a 'really?' expression and start laughing. "Well, so much for spending the day together."

"What did you plan to do? There's nothing really fun to do here anyway. We should have waited for some carnival or something and went there together," I say.

"You have a point... well, I guess we're heading back," Shino says.

"The deadline is in 3 days, so it's not like we're in a hurry or something," I say.

"We're still heading back to the park then, it's loud here and there are lots of people," she says.

"Gotta agree with you on that one. Anyone have any other ideas, because if not, maybe we should just go home and play video games since that's all we really know how to do when to comes to entertaining ourselves," I say.

"Well, we could go to the arcade or something," Soseki says.

"Yeah, sure, let's go play crappy, old video games for money in an arcade where it's loud and uncomfortable instead of going and playing the top-of-the-line game we already payed for and can play in the comfort of our homes," I say sarcastically.

"Link start!" I say and the world fades to darkness, then an array of colorful cylinders fly by and the background turns white, followed by circles with text in the middle appearing and moving to the side, confirming sigh, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.

Then a room forms around me, the walls, floor, and ceiling were made out of black hexagons and in between them blue like shone through.

"Do you want to use your existing Ethril Isles account or create a new character?" a voice asks. Seeing no visible keyboard of any kind, I suppose it's voice activated so I say, "Use existing."

My in game avatar appears, floating in front of me. "Would you like to redesign your avatar?"

Well, it'll be more natural if I make my avatar of similar build to me, so, "Yes."

An interface appears in front of me and I redesign my character to be as close as possible to my real self, with the exception of hair color and other such things. Hair color I left the original color of my avatar, which was a dark purple. Basically, I looked like my real self if I had dyed my hair dark purple instead of the nearly black blue I dyed it... that's about the only difference.

I press the confirm button on the interface and my vision is filled with a bright light. Once it clears, I'm standing at the start of the tutorial area in the original game, at least, that's what it looks like. Around me are a fair few people, though obviously not the full thousand betas yet.

A still disembodied voice asks, "Would you like to take the game tutorial, the FullDive tutorial, both, or neither?"

Well, I don't have any idea how to activate my skills—or even open the menu—so I think I'll do the FullDive tutorial... I think I can handle skipping the game tutorial.

"FullDive," I say, hoping it's enough.

"To open your menu, pinch together your right thumb and index finger together and then swiping down with an extended hand."

I guess that's not a gesture I would ever make naturally. I do as instructed and a menu that looks like a somewhat remodeled version of the Ethril Isles original menu appears in front of me. The navigation seemed to be the same though, meaning that the path to any given option seemed to have stayed the same, just the layout was a bit different. Well, it would take a few times to get used to and not look in the wrong place for the button, but it was well made.

"To toggle the HUB, tap the button labeled 'Toggle HUD' at the bottom of the options tab."

I could never have guessed that the 'Toggle HUD' button toggled the HUD, that's the most counterintuitive thing I've ever heard. I go into the options tab and toggle the HUD. Several things appear in my vision, mostly at the edges. They seem to move with my head, but not my eyes.

There's a health bar, along with a mana bar and some info on my character, including name and level. This was in the top left. In the top right there was time, a small compass and mini map. On the top left there was also an XP bar.

Seems like a fairly normal HUB, with the biggest difference being the lack of skill bar, meaning that however you cast spells and use other skills is far more immersive than pressing a button, which is a good thing, I guess.

"In order to cast spells, you will need to memorize the chant for the spell and chant it. The chant for any spell you've unlocked is available in the spells tab in your menu, under the abilities tab. To maintain game balance, most spells have been powered up to compensate for the increased difficulty in casting. Chanting incorrectly will result in a backlash proportional to the mana cost of the spell. Certain spells can be cast with hand gestures," That makes spell casting more skill based, chant faster, cast faster, better concentration, able to cast in worse conditions. I guess they split the abilities tab into two parts.

"In order to use weapon skills, you will need to assume the correct starting pose or perform the appropriate pre-motion, the system will then move your body for you. If your avatar is unable to move to complete the skill, it will be canceled with no backlash. The starting pose and pre-motions are available in the skills tab, available under the abilities tab," the voice explains. That seems like a nice way to do it.

"Any other skills are activated through the menu or voice commands, the latter must be prefaced with 'Skill,'" the voice adds.

"Lastly, inventory can be accessed through the menu or through your magic bag, which can be toggled in the inventory menu."

"That concludes the basic tutorial for the Ethril Isles FullDive interface. If you would like to take the game tutorial, please say so, otherwise you will be teleported to the spawn in 10 seconds," the voice says.

10 seconds later the blinding light—which I realize is actually the normal teleport effects in first person—surrounds me and I appear in the church where you start the game. However, unlike someone who had just started, I was wearing a set of powerful gear and what I would say is one of the strongest (if not the strongest)—at least in most situations, especially PvP—one handed longswords in the entire game. Now at first glance, looking at just its basic stats, you would be inclined to promptly throw the one-of-a-kind sword off the edge, into the clouds and then rage quit that the reward you got for clearing one of the hardest dungeons first was a total piece of crap.

However, when you look at its special abilities, it instantly becomes a ridiculous weapon in the right hands. The first was that it ignores armor. Literally, it passes right through any armor. It can still be parried or even blocked with a shield—though only if it is raised or moving to block, at the side it is considered armor—, but armor was ignored. This alone would make it a very good weapon in PvP and against certain types of monster, since both players and certain types of monsters have armor that reduces damage taken by more than the sword falls behind a different sword of similar tier. The second property was that critical hits dealt ridiculous damage with it. And critical hits weren't chance even in the none-FullDive version of the game, the were determined mostly by where you hit, which was controlled by where you swung your sword (no $*** m8).

And if you combine it with certain spells, the sword was just unfair. For example, any spells that do something on hit with a melee weapon: very strong, since these spells are generally balanced for normal weapons, which normally glance off armor and don't get a chance to apply there effect.

Just poisoning the sword or something works too, there's any number of things which you can do with the sword to make it super strong, well super stronger since the massive crit damage makes it a good weapon if used correctly in the right conditions on its own.

I look around at the cathedral, which looked exactly like I remembered it, except a bit more worn and a lot more realistic.

I look around and see Kirito also appear—looking more like his real self than his character—,soon followed by Sinon, Orehsaki (read: Or eh saki), Enora, and Minori (who had made her username her name for some strange reason).

"Woohoo, this is awesome!" Minori says, almost literally bouncing up and down.

"We haven't even done anything yet..." I mutter.

"We all did the tutorial, right?" Kirito asks.

"""""Yeah,""""" we all say in a tone that says, 'we're not stupid.'

"Let's go kill something!" I say in a tone which was way too cheerful for what I was saying, at least out of context.

"Alright!" Minori says, fist pumping.

"Maybe we should go to a low level new place, since this game with extra content. That way we'll be seeing something new so it won't be boring and we'll get a chance to fight easy monsters to get used to fighting like this," Enora says.

"Do any of you know how too fight?" Sinon asks.

"I'm pretty good at kendo, though I haven't done it in a while," I say.

"I used to do kendo too," Kirito says.

"I do martial arts," Minori says. Well that's directly applicable, seeing as her fighting style involves punching everything to a pulp.

"So 3 of our 4 melee fighters actually know how to use their weapons and magic shouldn't be too difficult to learn, Ory and I are considerable behind," she says. I suppose that means she doesn't know how to use a bow. Hopefully the system helps because they can't seriously expect people to learn to shoot accurately without years of practice. Well, I suppose being good with a sword also takes years of practice, so I guess it's just even more skill based now. Skill based is better than luck based.

"Anyway, let's go kill some stuff."

Since the world for this game was a bunch of floating islands, getting between them was done by A, teleporters between major cities, in other words, when you visit one of the major cities, you unlock it and can teleport to it from the teleporter in any other city, B, there are airships between distant major islands, though often times you need to kill some boss on the island to gain passage and they cost something, C, you use blink channels, which teleport you between adjacent islands in island clusters, these are free and don't require unlocking, seeing as they're basically for getting around in a given area, and finally, the last way known to me, D, is by riding flying mounts, but those were just released in the expansion pack which was released with this FullDive version of the game and so nobody had them yet. Also, islands right next to each other sometimes have bridges between, but that's really close.

To travel to new areas, the only real way was to use ships, since blink channels were only for very close islands, teleporters were for places you've been, and none of us had dragons or giant birds or whatever yet.

The recent expansions hadn't been higher level than us in general, or even our level, but generally lower because nobody had even gotten to the highest level stuff yet, so they didn't need to add more. Instead they added more places to explore to keep people playing the game, leveling up and getting better gear, and eventually beating the extremely difficult bosses that remained.

"The lowest level new place should be available-"

"We don't want the lowest place, relatively low, but we don't want to be jerks and just instantly slaughter off the low level monsters which low level players were supposed to train on with no tangible benefit to ourselves. Besides, if we fight super low level monsters we'll accidentally kill them before getting any practice in," I say.

"Okay, then let's just go to a mid level area and take a random ship," Kirito suggests.

"Sounds like a plan, I seriously doubt we'll stumble upon some dungeon that kicks our butts in a place like that. Anyone object?" I say.

When nobody objects we walk to the teleporter—which was also in the church, anywhere with a church, you can respawn or teleport to, that's how it works—and Kirito calls out the name of a city in a mid-high level region fairly close to the dungeon where my sword comes from, which happens to be one of the hardest known dungeons. Near, but not near enough that anything here was really dangerous to us.

We walk to one of the docks on the side of the large island—with me memorizing some of the spells I use most along the way—and we can't help but stop and admire the view. There was another island visible just a little ways away and in person it all looked so beautiful.

"I'll just have to show my parents this the next time they try to get me to go outside and look at a sunset or something," I say jokingly, since I couldn't really show them without extra NerveGears.

"It's so beautiful, I could look at this view all day," Enora says wistfully.

"If we do that, we'll stop being the strongest," Kirito says.

"You sure like being the strongest," I say teasingly.

"Like you don't," Kirito retorts.

"Fair point. How about while we wait for Enora to take in the view, we can have a duel," I say.

"Nah, that's hardly fair. Not with you having that sword anyway. I may not rely as heavily on armor as some others, but having it completely ignored is a serious issue," Kirito says.

"I beat you fair and square for this sword," I say, referring not to a duel but a little competition we had to determine who was better suited to wield the sword. It was basically 'who can get more critical kills on these mobs in the allotted time.' I won considerably, and so I got the sword. At the time we hadn't realized the sword could be used in the way it can be and we thought it was just the critical hit thing, so we chose that competition.

"I might be a little salty, but I'm not complaining. Besides, with what we've found out, your glass cannon mage-swordsman hybrid build is better suited for the sword than my pure melee build," he says.

"All you two talk about is weapons and builds and fighting," Sinon mutters.

""We didn't start playing this game for sightseeing,"" we says at the same time, though I had to admit, the sights were quite beautiful, especially in this VR version.

"Besides, it's what we're good at," I add. Technically I could list off any number of other things I'm good at, but whatever. On that list would be not getting friends... These people are like my only friends... well I have my older brother too, but he doesn't really count, if you can't call your sibling close to your age your friend at this age, something is wrong. Doesn't have to be close friends, but friends.

"Well, I'll give you that," she says.

"Anyway, let's go kill something."

Gilbert Gills. The name of the miniboss we found. Its level was low enough that in the 2D game, anyone of us could kill it solo without breaking a sweat... this includes our healer. However, it still had plenty of HP and so it should survive a bit of punishment.

It was a bipedal fish monster the height of a tall man while hunched over. It was armed with armor that looked like it was made mostly of fish bones and seashells, a sword made of a giant tooth, and a large bone spear. While everything but the sword looked very crude, a quick scan with the battle scanning skill showed that for its level, it was quite formidable. It also had a large amount of HP. With a battle scanning skill of my level, it even told me that the boss had three phases, all triggered by HP loss, but it doesn't inform me when.

By this point, all of us, even Sinon—who seemed to have ridiculous talent for bows—, were able to easily take out the monsters in the area and we decided to fight the boss.

"Alright, Enora, grab agro. I'm on healing duty. Sinon, you're close range DPS crew, just make sure to keep the agro off of Orehsaki and Kirito. Orehsaki, you're also on close range damage support. Minori and Kirito, you're on long range combat duty," I say jokingly, giving everyone the least fitting role I could. The only one with a half decent role was Orehsaki, since he was still a melee class.

"Alright, Komei, you kill it and we watch," Enora says in a slightly less joking tone.

"I'm fine with that plan," I say and draw my sword, brandishing it. It felt so nice, swinging that sword around. I chant a spell which simply adds magic damage to bladed weapon strikes on clean hits. The spell lasts 30 seconds and for every time it triggers, it drains a chunk of mana, offsetting the fairly small initial cast cost.

I leap forward, dodging past the boss's spear and slice at its neck. The strike landed on the critical hit point which my battle scanning skill had shown me, the real reason I'd trained the skill. Sure, on most monsters, the critical hit points were obvious, but sometimes they were hidden or there were easy to hit one I wouldn't expect on top of the obvious ones.

The sword—and thus spell—connect, dealing a fairly massive amount of damage, bringing the boss's health down by about 20% in one hit. A boss. It almost felt like a bug, I understand the armor piercing effect applying to the spell, that makes sense, but the crit multiplier? That's totally too strong. In stupid gamer terms: to strnk, pls nrf.

Actually don't. It's a unique item from one of the hardest dungeons in the game, it should be strong.

I skid to a stop behind the boss and parry its spear which it swings at me, striking at the wooden handle in hopes of destroying the spear. The shear difference in the weapon power levels allows my sword to bite deeply into the spear. Now I just need to parry it a few times and it'll break there.

The boss—being literally fish-brained—doesn't realize and strike again. I parry the spear, swinging back as hard as I could to speed up the breaking process, and the spear makes a cracking sound. Another block and the tip breaks off. The boss throws aside the spear and a quick scan tells me that I had triggered one of the phase changes early. It drew its sword and charged at me... rather slowly, compared to what I was used to. I jump to the side and strike at its elbow, also a crit point, but not as effective.

I was basically playing with it, since I could have unleashed a flurry blows on it when I was behind it and basically killed it without even giving it a chance to switch phases, but I was curious.

"Quit playing with it and just kill it," I hear Kirito say.

"But I wanna see its third phase, the last phases are always the coolest," I complain, causing the whole group to sigh.

I hit it a few more times and just as my spell runs out, it drops to about 10% HP. Or, more likely, exactly 10% since it switches phases.

It leaps into the water near us and when it resurfaces, it is riding a giant fish with legs... like 4 legs... it looks a lot weirder than the bipedal boss itself. Like that one miniboss in that SAO game, on floor 23. That game had been fun, but once it was cleared in about a year, it got kinda boring. It didn't really have room for adding content.

The boss itself had a very long sword now, which looked to be made of bone.

The fish starts to charge at me and I run forward, leaping up and stabbing the boss through the face, bringing it down to the point where I couldn't really see any health in its health bar. Then I kick in the face, finishing it.

The giant fish beneath me suddenly shrinks to the size of a cat or so, somehow managing not to become any less hideous. [You have gained a pet]

No. "Hell no! I am not keeping that hideous thing as a pet!" I say.

"Huh?" Kirito asks.

"I got that hideous thing as a pet. Do you want it?" I ask.

"No way. But don't throw it away, it could easily be a unique item. Just keep it deep in your inventory in summon form and never let it out," he says.

"I guess you have a point, but if I ever see another one, I'm throwing it out," I say.

If you want to read more of this please tell me, if you want me to stop writing this crap and go back to writing Duo of Darkness, please tell me. If you want me to quit writing fanfiction because I suck, f**k off.