Welcome to Squad Jam...yeah. That's about it.
This story adapts the events of Squad Jam II, the second half of SAO Alternative: Gun Gale Online, but fits it within my SAOverse storyline. For example, LLENN knows M prior to the first Squad Jam, Fuka has long joined the game, and all four are part of a team. If you've played Fatal Bullet, the GGO-inspired game and/or followed my storyline, you know of Kureha, Zeliska, Rei, and the events of that game. The character whose perspective this is written from is my OC, Jaymes.
This story will be short and acts as a pseudo-prequel to the other SAO story being written, Ordinal Dissonance. More or less, it's the prequel what will be the second half of that tale. There may be references to the most recent story, Courage and Realization, as this story takes place during the final chapter of that story.
But enough of that. I hope you all enjoy this chapter and stick around for the rest.
March 26th, 2026,
I nod, then turn back to Pitohui. "What's the second thing?"
"If Kureha hasn't asked you, the next Squad Jam is on April 4th. If you're not busy...participate."
I cross my arms. "LLENN and M won the first one, I watched the highlights. I guess it'll be them two, you, Fuka, and Kureha. huh?"
"No, just M, me, and some others. LLENN, Kureha, and Fukaziroh are together. You should join them, and let's have some friendly competition between us. If my team doesn't win, I might just kill myself. So?"
I laugh nervously, unsure if Pito is exaggerating or if what M and LLENN told me before after watching the previous SJ is true. "Let's do it... I'm in."
She smirks. "You're the best!"
"What goes on in Pitohui's head, I hope I never figure out." Stretching my legs out, I summon a pair of headphones on my head and begin listening to some music.
Today was my triumphant return to GGO, and I led Crimson Squad to take on a bounty on some annoying player killers. But nothing is that simple, no. We left with more questions than answers, so upon our return and debrief, mostly everyone went their separate ways.
I say mostly because I'm not alone in my apartment. Playing a game of pool nearby is Rei, my Artificial Financial Adviser System Type-X, and my real-life childhood friend, Kureha. I leave the pair to themselves, closing my eyes and bopping my head to the music.
"Shooting over the sky!"
"All right now! All right now! All right now!"
"Bullets filled with your pride!"
"Jojo! Jojo! Jojo! Break you down! Break you down! Break you down!"
"With your vision divine, your fists will fly free if you stand proud!" I open my eyes and smile at Kureha, who waits for Rei to take her shot. "I don't recall asking for backup."
"I'm your second-in-command, right? You don't have to ask, I just know, you weeb."
Rei's turn at an end, Kureha twirls her cue stick and looks for her shot. "Are you really gonna 'Ora Ora' me for saying that?"
"Yes, yes, yes, oh my god." Our grins turn into laughter before Kureha takes her shot, which, by her following reaction, goes exactly as she planned. As she lines up again, I turn my attention to Rei, who has a giant smile on her face. I can understand why without asking her. The last time I was in GGO for this long was back in December, and at the time Kureha and I were at odds. While my absence from the game since January was due to playing another game with another group of friends, my relationship with Kureha has improved. I reunited with her in the real world during the holidays and she saved Kirito, Asuna, and my skins back in Sword Art: Origins a few weeks back. Since that fiasco ended, I've been playing ALO with her and Rei, but GGO is home to us all, and it now feels like it.
And honestly, I need it. After a player-killing death game, then a murderer using the game to kill, then a gunfight to the literal death, then an NPC-killing death game, I've grown tired of death being the result of playing VR. But that should be over and done with.
"Master, LLENN is here."
I turn my head to the young woman walking from the smaller adjacent room. She eyes me happily and makes her way over to the seating area. "Hey, Jaymes. You have a moment?"
I nod. "I'm doing nothing, plus I've been meaning to talk to you about something."
"Oh, so I guess Kureha filled you in on the upcoming Squad Jam?"
"No," Kureha says from the pool table, "Pito did."
"Oh." LLENN apprehensively looks to the floor, seemingly unsure how to continue this conversation.
"She asked me to join you three, to which I consented to. If you haven't registered already, that is."
LLENN sighs, relieved. "Great, because the six of us have already been registered for Squad Jam."
"Six? Who are the other two?"
"Me and Zeliska, Master," Rei says excitedly before pouting at the result of her turn.
"All right, well, I'm fine with doing it. It would have been nice to know earlier from two people I've been with for a while, but it's not a problem. But what's with Pitohui and M joining others?"
LLENN groans. "You see, that's the problem… When M asked me to join the upcoming SJ, in person, that is, he told me about the real Pitohui. I thought it was just a figure of speech, but apparently, if Pitohui dies in the competition or loses, she dies in real life."
I stare at LLENN, waiting for the punchline, but it doesn't come. I look at Kureha, who nods her affirmation. Just when I thought it was over... "Shit. So...suicide?"
"Yes, and apparently M dies too."
"Wait, what? Why is that? I know she's crazy, but that's insane! Wait, so the threat to M in the original Squad Jam was real?"
Kureha nods as she walks over. "Remember that I told you she was moody after our incident? That was apparently why. She's obsessed with death."
"That's what M said, that's she looks for challenges that she can put her life on the line on. You ask why, but you know might understand better than anyone else here, Jaymes. You survived, after all."
I frown. "You speak...of Sword Art Online? I know you all know that I'm a survivor, but...wait, is Pito one too? Not that physical appearance matters here as it did there, but if anything, given her obsession, she would have recognized me or vice versa. Not many players change names."
LLENN shakes her head. "Luckily, she wasn't part of the incident. She did play the beta, was obsessed with it, but on that day, she had a real-life entanglement that prevented her from logging in. Knowledge of how death in SAO extended to the real world...had an adverse effect on her. But after that, she calmed down, became very successful in her work. Yet, no other VR game in those two years satisfied her. Then, when SAO was beaten and the experiences of the survivors were made known, it set her off again. There was a guild of player-killers, but I'm aware you know that."
"More than you know," I tensely state. "Laughing Coffin, responsible for a good number of deaths in SAO and for the GGO murders. I personally sought their downfall myself in SAO...and did what I had to do to avenge a friend. But that aside, Pito must have felt left out, huh?"
"Mhm. M said she wished she could have joined them, or on the flip side, brought them to justice."
I shrug. "Not that I accept that murder should have happened in SAO, it's the reason we took them down, but the 20 guild members that died deserved it. If she felt that way, it might've raised the casualties. I might feel bad." Sighing, I look up to LLENN. "You're going to stop her, right?"
"Yes, and that's why I need you four. Long ago, before we joined you three, Pito and I made a pact. If I defeat her in combat, we'll meet in real life. With that, we can fight her and M's team without risking their lives and win the Squad Jam. So, although I know you said you'll join, I ask as a member of Crimson Squad for your help saving our friends!"
"You needn't say anything more. You convinced Kureha, Rei, and Zeliska. That's enough for me to jump in. Besides, this might expedite getting back into the game." I stand up, taking the cue stick from Kureha. "But on one condition."
"If we win, I want to meet everyone. You, Fukaziroh, M, Pito. I know Zeliska and Joe's faces, and of course Kureha's. But you four, I'm calling an offline meeting."
LLENN begins to grow nervous again. "But… But I'm…"
"Tall?" I chuckle and turn away. "Fuka tells me you're quite the giant compared to how you are in here, but don't worry, I'm taller in the real world too."
"Yes. I just prefer this height because it's what I was used to after two years. Besides two people, I'm taller than my other friends, haha-ow!"
Kureha twirls a new cue stick after bashing it against my head. "No need for such lies, dumbass. You aren't that tall."
"Don't be mad I outgrew you, be lucky you're a little bit above my shoulders."
She smirks and leans over the pool table. "Keep talking and your kneecaps will suffer the same fate as this cue ball, Squad Leader."
"Anyway," I turn back to LLENN, who joins us at the table. "So how does this SJ work? I'm assuming similar to the Battle of Bullets?"
"Mhm. Except this is a team version of it. Up to six players can be in a squad, and the SJ will allow up to 30 teams to participate. Since I'm the squad leader of our team, we automatically qualify and don't have to participate in the qualifiers if more than 30 teams register. There's a special map for the tournament, and all teams are spread out 1 kilometer apart randomly upon appearing in the field. Um...oh, if the squad leader is taken out, the position goes to the next of rank, which would be you, Jaymes, then Kureha, Zeliska, Fuka, and finally Rei. And only the squad leader can resign a team from the tournament. I think all other rules are like the BoB, so you know about them and such. Any other questions?"
"Yeah, why ask Rei and not Sinon? We may need a sniper out there. Matter of fact, how is Rei legal?"
"Do you think Rei will pose a problem," LLENN questions as she looks to the Arfa-Sys. "Zeliska assured me they are allowed since they occupy a space as party members in the normal game. But there is the question of her abilities, especially the radar one. Should we substitute her for Sinon? You think Sinon would agree?"
"Ugh," Kureha sighs as her turn comes to an end. "Well, I think Sinon will help. You're buddy-buddy with her now, aren't you?"
I nod. "Yeah, but… Well, I would like to avoid a controversial win, but if someone who works at Zaskar says Rei's allowed to compete, I see no issue with it. But to be sure we can't be accused of cheating, I'll hold on to the radar installation you have, Rei. I think that's the only enhancement you have that might be problematic."
Rei bows. "Thank you for allowing me to compete, Master. I'll do my best."
"Any other problems, you worrywart?"
I roll my eyes at Kureha's jest. "No, I'm good now...and this." I hit the cue ball, knocking a solid into one of the pouches. As Rei applauds me, Kureha scowls and flips the bird at me. Chuckling, I turn back to LLENN. "We'll talk more later."