"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."

- Mahatma Gandhi

October 18th, 2024 Floor 74 boss room

"Kirito!" Asuna called behind me,". This is suicide!" Kirito just ignored her as he charged into the boss room to save what was left of the ALA (Aincrad Liberation Army) that was sent to clear floor 74 currently the front lines of the floating prison called Aincrad.

"Kirito we need to pull back a day and get reinforcements," I called to him.

Wait I getting ahead of myself our story actually begins nearly two years prior to this event let's turn back the clock to when it all started.

-November 6th,2022 Japan

Hi my name is Suguha Kirigaya and I live with my mother father and my older brother Kazuto, who I later learn is actually my cousin When he learned the truth he began to distance him self from me. Now I think I have found away to reconnect with him.

"Suguha you don't need to do this," my mother said to me.

"Mom this could be my last chance to connect with him," I told her. Heck this might be the only thing that would work. My brother Kazuto was a beta tester for the new VRMMORPG Sword Art Online.

I want to rekindle our relationship, because for the past few years he has distanced himself from me. So I went out a got a copy of the game and the Nervegear headset.

"Okay just don't get discouraged if it doesn't work right away it's going to take time," she said.

"Okay I'll try not to get disappointed and I log out before dinner," I said. She smiled and gave me a kiss.

"Have fun in there," she said. I nodded and placed the Nervegear onto my head.

"Link Start," I shouted a stream of rainbow colors flew passed me. A log in scream appeared and asked me to set my avatar and choose my avatar name. For my name I chose Leafa. My appearance was simple long blonde hair, and green eyes with green colored armor.

- Floor 1 Town of Beginnings

I then materialized in a town plaza and all around me other players were logging in.

However I knew Kazuto was already logged in. So I name my way to the fields to get a little experience on how the game worked.

On the way though I saw another player. He was short had short black hair blue colored eyes.

He seemed to know wear he was heading to so I called out to him. "Hey you, wait up," He heard me because he turned to face me.

"My name is Leafa and this is my first day, and you seem to know wear your going. So I was wondering if you can give me a few pointers on how the system works?" I said.

"Nice to meet you Leafa my name's Kirito," he replied. "And yeah I'm a former beta tester," he said.

"So are you willing to help out a rookie?" I asked. He seemed to hesitate for a second thrn he nodded his head.

"Sure why not," he said. I smiled and together we ran for the fields outside the town.

- later in the fields of Town of Beginning's

" Man this stuff can get addictive," I said as I leaned onto my blade.

"I know right," Kirito said as he slashed another boar.

"That's easy for you to say they won't stay still," a player not far from us said as he was thrown back by another boar.

The player was in a small group of five men all dressed in the same red armor. Except for what seems to be the leader. He had a red bandana wrapped around his pink hair. He was the player that was thrown back.

Kirito bent down to pick up pebble that sat in the field.

"If you do your initial motion right and activate a sword skill at the right time," he spoke, getting into a stance. Kirito threw the pebble and it hit the boar on its hind quarters.

"The system guarantees that you'll always hit your target." he finished.

"Initial motion," the man whispered to himself, as he raised his sword.

"Here's an easier way to look at it." Kirito continued raising his sword as the boar charged at him. He sidestepped as the boar got close to him and it missed him entirely. He charged Kirito again and this time he used his sword to block his tusks.

"Right after you start your move, wait a little bit and when you feel the skill start to activate," he spoke, continuing to block the pig bull. "Drive it home!"

"Drive it home," the man whispered to himself, not moving from where he was. Eventually he took his stance and he put his sword on his shoulder, so the blade was pointing away from him.

Seeing that, Kirito redirected the boar into his direction. The player got ready and when the time was right, actually struck the boar. And after that, the boar exploded into thousands of glittering pieces, just as everything in the game would do upon death.

He looked back behind him, to see that he had killed the boar and a smile appeared on his face. "Yeah!" he exclaimed in an excited tone.

"See Klien nothing to it," one of the players in his grouped hollered at him.

"Damn it Dale cut me some slack," Klein shouted.

I stood there with a smile on my face. "Anyways congratulations," I said as Kirito and I stepped towards him.

Klien chuckled as we all high five one another.

"That was nice," Kirito said as he sheathed his sword. "But that boar's about as weak as slimes in other games are,"

The happy look on Klein's face disappeared. "Holy crap, you've got to be kidding!" he said. "I thought that thing was a mid-level boss!" The rest of his group just face plammed them selves.

"Yeah, as if," they all scoffed. He gave them a glare as a couple more boars spawned not too far away from us.

"Whoa!" Klein said as he drew his sword "Man this stuff is addictive," he said as he destroyed another boar.

"Hey Kirito how high did you get in the beta?" I asked. He thought for a minute before answering

"In the two months of the beta I think I got to about floor eight, but. I think that within a month I think I could make that high easily," he said.

"Sound pretty confident in yourself," I said with a smirk.

"You bet during the beta SAO was the only thing on my mind a single blade can take you anywhere," he said.

"Anyways you guys up for more practice," he shouted. Me and Klien along with his grouped cheered.

- few hours later

"When I look around, I can't believe it. We're inside a game, bro!" Klein said. "Whoever made it is a genius. This thing's amazing. I mean, I'm just glad that I was born when I was, you know?"

"It's not that big of a deal," Dale said.

"Hey, cut me some slack!" Klein said. "It's my first full dive!"

"It's our first full dive to Klien," another in his group said.

"You've never used the Nervegear before today?" I asked. "This is your first time ever?"

"Uh-huh. As soon as we got the money together, we all rushed out and got all the hardware to play SAO." Klein said. "We stood in line and scored five of the 10,000 hard copies. Guess you could say I was pretty lucky,"

I then turned to Kirito "But you sir are even luckier to get to do the beta test," I said with a grin.

"Yeah I guess I was," he said.

"You guys want to do more hunting?" I asked.

"Well, you know it!" Klein said with enthusiasm, turning in the grass to face me. "But the thing is, I'm really hungry. I have to log out."

"Too bad the food here only satisfies your hunger virtually." I said. "Yeah, for reals! That's why I ordered a pizza for five fifteen!" he said as he pointed at Kirito with grin on his face.

"Wow, you're so prepared." I said.

"You know it! Besides, the game can wait until I get my pizza on!" Klein said.

"Well I guys I'll see you later then," Kirito said to him.

"Yeah," Klien said as he turned and opened his menu up.

Me and Kirito both turned and were about to walk away when Klien spoke up.

"Huh?" he asked. "Where'd the logout button go?"

"It should be there." Kirito reassured him.

"Hmm. No, it's not there." He said.

We walked over to him out of confusion. "It should be at the bottom of the main menu." he said as we both opened our menu as well.

But he was right. The logout button was gone! I felt a faint chill run down my spine.

"See, not there." Klein said.

"You're right." I said. "It's not."

"Did you try contacting the Game Master?" I asked.

"Yeah, but he's not picking up," he said.

"Hey you should look at the time it's 5:10," I said.

"Oh no my mayo and teryakyii and ginger ale," Klien complained.

"Ew that's disgusting," I said with a frown.

"That isn't important right now," Kirito said. He was right.

"Is there another way of logging out?" I asked. Kirito thought for a second.

"No the only that i know of is through the menu," he said

"That can't be right!" Klein said. "There's got to be some other way out. Return! Log out! Escape!"

He jumped up into the air while saying that last one. A few minutes passed of us standing there with no change. It would have been comical under different circumstances.

"I know! I'll just rip the Nervegear off my head..." He stopped talking as he grabbed his head and started pulling upwards.

"Don't bother. Once you're hooked in, you can't move your body in the real world anymore." Kirito said. "The Nervegear intercepts all commands you give from inside the game using an interface built into the rig."

"Seriously?" Klein asked after a few seconds of silence. "So, now we got to wait until someone gets around to fixing the bug?"

"That, or until someone in the real world comes along and takes the Nervegear off us." Kiriro said. "That's it."

"Oh, but I live alone." Klein said. "You?"

"I live with my parents and my sister they'll probably notice by dinner..." he didn't get any further because Klien grabbed him by the sholders.

"You got a sister?" he asked "How old is your sister? What's she like?"

He let out a nervous sigh as he continued staring at him intently.

"She's into sports and hates games and totally not your type man!" he said. "She wouldn't date a gamer if he..."

"Who cares, I..." Klein interrupted Kirito so he shut him up, by kneeing him in the groin.

"Oh, right. Getting kicked in the balls doesn't hurt." He said.

"Be serious. Don't you think this is weird?" I asked.

"Yeah, totally." He said. "But it's just a bug.

He looked to my right. "This isn't just a bug. If we can't log out, it's going to cause some serious problems for the game." he said.

"Yeah, I guess you're right." Klein said.

"I wonder if the developers even know what's happening." I said.

"Because they could just shut down the server and log everyone out. But why haven't they made an announcement?" Klein grunted in response and looked as though he were thinking himself.

That's when we heard the bells starting to ring. Klein got up to look in the direction of the ringing.

We kept staring in the direction of the bells and before we knew it, both I and Klein a d Kirito were teleported against our own will.

From the looks of it, Klein, Kirito, and I had been transported back to the plaza within The Town of Beginnings.

And that wasn't all. The Town of Beginnings was rapidly being filled up by other players being teleported in.

"Town of Beginnings someone forced a teleport," Kirito said.

That's when I saw something above us. "Kirito, Klien look up there," I said as I pointed to something in the sky. They followed my finger to a sign that read "Warning".

Suddenly the sky was filled with red blocks then something that looked like blood came pouring out till it took the shape of a figure in blood colored robes

"That must be the Game Master," someone said beside us.

"Attention, players," The man in the cloak spoke in a loud and clear voice as his arms rose on either side of him. "I welcome you to my world,"

"What's he mean by that?" I asked myself.

"My name is Akihiko Kayaba," He said. "And as of this moment, I am in control of this world,"

I let out a gasp of shock. My mind flashed to all of magazines that Kazuto had at home. He was the inventor of the Nervegear and created Sword Art Online!

A lot of players were making comments on us interesting entrance.

"I'm sure most of you have already noticed an item is missing from your main menus," He said as he opened his menu. "The logout button. Let me assure you, this isn't a defect in the game. I repeat, this is not a defect. This is how Sword Art Online was designed to be,"

A chorus of gasps of shock erupted around Klien, Kirito and I.

"He's got to be joking," I told them.

"You cannot log yourselves out in SAO." Kayaba said, confirming that he was being serious. "And no one from the outside can shut down or remove the Nervegear from your head. If anyone attempts to do so, a transmitter inside the Nervegear will discharge a microwave signal to your skull, destroying your brain, and ending your life."

A mixture of shocked responses erupted among the group of thousands of players. Someone tried to leave the area, only to be stopped by an invisible barrier.

He's got to be joking," Klien saod in disbelief.

"He's not. The transmitter's signals in the headgear works just like microwaves." Kirito said.

"If the safety's turned off, they could fry your brain."

"Couldn't someone cut the power or...?" I asked.

"That won't work." he said, interrupting me. "The Nervegear's got an internal battery." Klein just looked at him for a second or so, before letting out a grunt of frustration.

"This is crazy." He said. "It's totally crazy!"

"Despite my warning, family and friends of some of the players have attempted in removing the Nervegear." Kayaba continued. "An unfortunate decision to say the least. As a result, the game now has 213 less players than when it began. They've been deleted from both Aincrad and the real world."

"Two hundred and thirteen?" I asked with shock

"As you can see, international media outlets have around the clock coverage of everything," Kayaba spoke. "Including the deaths. At this point, it's safe to assume the likelihood of a Nervegear being removed is minimal at best. I hope this brings you a little comfort as you try to clear the game."

I just looked up at him in complete anger.

"It's important to remember the following: There is no longer any way to revive someone within the game. If your HP drops to zero, your Avatar will be deleted from the system, forever." Kayaba continued. "And the Nervegear will simultaneously destroy your brain."

I was in complete shock if we die here we die in the real world as well.

"There's only one way for a player to escape now." Kayaba spoke once more. "You must clear the game. Right now, you're gathered on Floor One, the lowest level of Aincrad.

If you can make it through the dungeon and defeat the boss, you may advance to the next floor. Defeat the boss on Floor One Hundred, and you will clear the game." A chorus of confused murmurs erupted all around us.

"Clear the 100th floor none of the Beta tester made even close to that," Klien shouted.

Last but not least, I've placed a present in the item storage of every player." He said. "Please, have a look."

I nervously opened my menu and scrolled down to my item storage menu. Once I looked in the item storage, what I saw surprised me. "A mirror?" I asked with disbelief.

Why would Kayaba want us to have mirrors? Nonetheless, I clicked on the mirror, causing it to appear in midair and I grabbed it to inspect it.

Just as I was looking into the mirror, suddenly we we engulfed in a blue light Kirito let out a surprised yell next to me.

"Klien, Kirito are you okay?" I asked them.

"Yeah we're fine," they said, but when I saw them I was seeing people completely different one looked familiar.

"Kazuto?" I asked in confusion.

"Suguha?" he replied back.

"Um who are you guys?" the other guy us asked in a confused tone.

"I'm me who are you?" we both asked.

I took another look into the mirror and saw my IRL face. "Oh my God it's me," I said.

"Your Kirito and Leafa!" Klien said

"Your Klien," me and Kazuto said

"But, how?" he asked with disbelief.

Kirito thought about for a second. "The scan..." I said as I figured it out. "There's a high density signal device inside the Nervegear rig. It can see what my face looks like. But how's it know my height and body type?"

"When you first put the Nervegear on, it had you do this calibration thing." Klein said after a few seconds of silence. "It asked you to touch your body all over like this." He demonstrated and started patting down his arms. "Remember?" he asked.

"Oh, yeah, you're right! That's where it got our physical data." he said.

"But, this is... What's the point?" Dale asked in an irritated tone. "Why would anyone do this to us?"

I pointed towards Kayaba's floating form. "I think he's about to tell us." I said.

"Right now, you're probably wondering, "why?" "Why would Akihiko Kayaba developer of Sword Art Online and the Nervegear, do this?" Kayaba started speaking again.

"Ultimately, my goal was a simple one. The reason I created Sword Art Online, was to control the fate of a world of my design."

"As you can see, I have achieved my goal." he continued.

My fists trembled from the anger that was radiating off my body.

"This marks the end of the tutorial and the official launch of Sword Art Online." He said. "Players, I wish you the best of luck."

With that Kayaba vanished. The sky returned to normal. Everyone was quite for a second then all hell broke loss people began to scream that they wanted to go home.

That was when Kirito grabbed me and said "Leafa follow me," we walked past confused players until we were out in front of all the players in the plaza he then turned to the players.

"Okay, listen up everyone!" Everyone turned towards him and became quite.

"My name is Kirito and I'm a former beta tester," murmurs began to fly threw the crowd. "Now I a lot of you are scared. To be honest so am I. If what Kayaba said is true which in think it was a lot of us are probably not going to come out of this alive," he let that hang for a minute before continuing. "However I going to save as many as I can with thid tutorial of how to play SAO," he said.

He then began to explain everything from the leveling system to what kind of things monsters are most likely to drop. When he had finished the crowd seemed more confident in clearing the game.

"Now even with this knowledge we're still going to lose people through things like the monster algorithms changing the higher we go up," he said. The players all nodded with this new information. "With that this concludes the official tutorial of Sword Art Online.

With that out of the way Kirito once again grabbed my arm and dragged me along.

"Kirito why did you do that?" I asked him when he finally came to a spot in a alley a ways from the plaza.

"Part of me wanted to just take you with me to the next town a level up," he said.

"So why didn't you?" I asked him.

"I didn't because you probably hate me if I did," he said. He was right I probably would have.

"Anyways are going to the next town or not?" I asked. He gave me a smile and nodded his head.

"Alright Leafa let's get going," he said. We tired and headed for the town's exit. However before we got there a voice called out to us.

"Hey you wait up," we turned to see a girl with chestnut colored hair with red and white armor and what looked like a rapier.

"Was there something you didn't understand that I can explain a little better?" Kirito asked.

"Oh no nothing like that at all," the girl said.

"Then what can we help you with?" I asked.

"I want to travel with the both of you," she said. We both have a confused look.

"Why us?" Kirito said.

"Huh what do you mean?" She asked.

"Well you could have partied with anyone in that plaza, and you ran all the way over here to ask us," Kirito said.

"I want to go with you because, you had the guts to go in front of all those players and give them a starting hand him this place of death. That takes a lot of guts when you can go and make the both of you the strongest players out there," she said. I thought that was a pretty good explanation apparently so did Kirito.

"Okay you got yourself two party members," Kirito said as he opened up his menu. Suddenly in front of both me and the girl got a notification.

Kirito has sent you a party in five yes or no. I clicked yes without hesitation so did the girl.

Below my health bar two new ones appeared one read Kirito the other read Asuna.

"Welcome to the group I'm Kirito this is Leafa," Kirito said sticking his hand out I did the same.

"And my name is Asuna," Asuna said take both our hands in a firm hand shake.

"Okay now that's out of the way let's go and clear thius game so we can go home!" I shouted. Both Kirito and Asuna retired it with a cheer of there own. We then set out on a new adventure.

Well what did you guys think of this version of the opening chapter of the arc. Leafa and Asuna will travel with Kiriro through out the entire story. Next on Sword Art Online:Twin Blades. Illfang and the Beaters - Kirito

Thank You from Z-ARC3