Accel World:Volume 2 Prologue
Haruyuki just stared at the steel hole with six counterclockwise spirals with his pig avatar’s eyes.
There was nothing in the surrounding space. White floor and walls. A huge room sealed with a white ceiling.
In the center of the room floated a steel-blue, large automatic pistol. The slide with hairlines, the grip carved with checker rings, all showing overwhelming weight and density, sent out a cold feeling, but of course it’s not real. The reason you wouldn’t be able to tell the maker or modeler’s name is, it is just a substitute Haruyuki made with randomly selected polygon gun parts.
But it can shoot. With that intention, it pointed between the eyes of Haruyuki’s avatar who stood just 20 meters away.
After referring to the book manuals to create this virtual reality training application, on his first dive, Haruyuki was very disappointed with the dull white room. He really wanted the setting to be the roof of a high rise building, and the pistol held by a dark suited hitman, but making that kind of scenario would be too much for a poor middle school student gamer.
If he asked his upperclassman and mentor for help, no matter what kind of set, it would be easily built. However, Haruyuki did not do that. He was afraid of her asking why he would do this kind of beginner training at this time. The result, was an eye irritatingly pure white room with just one brusque handgun floating, an ultra dull substitute.
But, after actually using it, it might be better this way.
Because there was nothing aside from himself other than the gun. This made him only have to concentrate on the gun muzzle.
The pink pig avatar squatted, extended both hands slightly, and Haruyuki earnestly stared at the black hole.
He lost the feeling of time. He could not remember how many minutes he had been in that position. This application’s specification is very simple. After diving and saying “Start”, with a five second countdown, the pistol will automatically aim at Haruyuki, and from that instant on, it will randomly fire within 30 minutes.
Of course, in the real world nothing could be done and he would die, but this is a virtual space made within the Neuro Linker. At the instant he sees the handgun muzzle flare, if he reacts within the shortest time, he would be able to dodge it, since he already checked the bullet speed and distance.
However, the problem is the he has no idea when the gun muzzle will flare within the 30 minutes. Different from the virtual squash game, there is no information provided like reading the ball’s path and timing. The only thing he could do, was to open his eyes wide, and keep up his concentration.
However that is a difficult thing. He had no faith in his long term concentration. A month earlier when he started this training, after just two or three minutes he relaxed, and started playing «Senpai Album» in his mind with a small idle smile, so he was shot without mercy by the unseen hitman.
But for Haruyuki, since this is a self made application, he perversely continued the training.
Since the opponent is just one immovable pistol. In that «Field» - veteran fighters use many fearsome skills to continually fight for 30 minutes of «Duel», compared to that, this can be said to be an easy thing. In Haruyuki’s plan, one month later the number of handguns would be increased to five. However, he is currently having a hard time with just one shot from the single gun.
No talent. He understood that from the start.
However, if training cannot help him improve, then that would mean the «Top» - next to that person, will be forever denied to him.
‘Shit. Shittt. I have to become faster and stronger. For that person. To continue being that person’s partner.’
The haste in Haruyuki’s heart, became noise that made the avatar’s extremities tense.
Then, as if it was waiting for that - .
Click, with that metallic sound the trigger moved. The hammer hit the firing pin. At the same time the slide was blown back, orange flash blew from the muzzle.
Haruyuki did a full jump to the right.
However his reaction was a bit slow, the bullet that flew in with a roar hit a point between his left cheek and ear.
He was blown away as if being hit by a huge hammer, bouncing many times on the white floor, and the intense pain that hit him made him scream.
His two short hands holding his face, he continued screaming as he rolled on the floor.
This application, was installed with an illegal patch from the net, rendering the default pain absorber in the Neuro Linker useless. On top of that, if the gain for pain was set high enough, shock equal to being hit by a real gun would be applied to the diver.
With tears falling, and full body convulsions, Haruyuki thrashed about on the floor. This is the third time he tasted this pain today. One month after the training started, he can no longer remember how many times total this had happened. However many times he got hit, he could not seem to get used to it. Putting it another way, he had already got used to the mid level pain quickly, so it’s mostly the upper limit of pain now.
However due to that harmful effect, eventually the Neuro Linker will detect the abnormality in Haruyuki’s brain waves and activate the safety, automatically canceling full dive. This is a hardware function, so it could not be easily cracked. This time too, he reached that threshold, and suddenly with a ‘Butsun’ sound effect, the white room disappeared from his eyes.
The feeling of weight changed its axis. From the deep darkness, stretching out radially, the view of reality appeared.
Tears appeared from his real eyes. In his distorted view, was the familiar male toilet single person stall’s blue-grey door.
In the current situation, he could have full dive from his classroom since there are no more people playing tricks on him, but it would be a big incident for his teacher to discover him using this dangerous program, and, aside from that, there was a reason that he must use the toilet when using the training application. The left over feeling from the incredible pain, and the shock of instant return from full dive confused his nerves, things wavered in front of his eyes - or so he thought, then he was hit with a feeling of his stomach contents going up.
Haruyuki held his mouth, changed his seat from the toilet cover to the floor, and turned to lift up the toilet seat cover.
Dangerously just in time, the reverse flow from his digestive tracks was pushed back where it belonged. After many dry heaves, he extended his weak right hand and pushed the button on the wall.
He felt the flow of water splash on his face, but he did not have the strength to stand up, so he just left his face above the toilet.
Tears that welled up dripped into the moving water and were swallowed up.
It was not just because of intense pain and throwing up. Despair at his own worthlessness, Haruyuki ground his teeth and his shoulders shook.
This training, was just trying to improve his beginner reaction level. In «Duels», depending on the opponent, some held firearms in both hands and showered him with many rounds in one second. Even so, after one month, his dodge rate had only improved by about 20% or 30%.
Slowly getting stronger is fine, that person said.
However deep in those eyes, was there actual disappointment, Haruyuki could not put this fear out of his mind.
Haruyuki accelerated his thoughts with the secret function in the Neuro Linker, obtained by the «Brain Burst» duel fighting game that used half real stages, and became a member of its players called «Burst Linker», three months have passed.
Back then, the Duel Avatar that Haruyuki controlled, «Silver Crow» has the one and only «Flight Ability», a huge advantage that allowed him continuous fast attacks. He reached level 2 in merely about one week, and one month later obtained level 3, believing that he might become the real hero in this world.
However, that was just a moment of glory before flight also being his weakness was discovered. Flight meant that you were also in the full view of the enemy. For long ranged attackers, that is, high speed precision attacks where tracking the bullet path is hard, he could no longer show off.
The result was a long road to finally reaching level 4. Their current goal, to expand the Legion «Nega Nebulas» territory of control was not going well, right now they have to work hard to just control the surroundings near the school.
Territory, that is the area under the control of a Legion, is determined by a «Territory Battle Time» every Saturday evening, it is a no level limit, same number group fight, the system will recognize the winner as the group who maintain an average of 50% wins. Under the Legion’s territory, even if its members’ Neuro Linker is connected to the Global Net, they are given the privilege to refuse «Duel».
However the result of Silver Crow’s abilities being analyzed was that the enemy teams who came to attack them, always included a high level anti-air duel avatar, which sealed Haruyuki’s easy flight. With that, «Silver Crow» became merely a weak close range melee fighter. His winning rate lowered, and was forced to be continually covered by his team members «Cyan Pile» and «Black Lotus».
That is why he does this training.
If he can dodge at least half of the anti-air attacks, then he can find the attacker’s position, and fight back with high powered attack from a rapid descent. This is the application he made while thinking that, but the result was not as he’d expected. If he cannot dodge a bullet from a known firing location, how can he dodge anti-air attacks hidden by obstacles in the «Duel Field»?
That person did not seem to show impatience or frustration. On the other hand, she gently encouraged him after his many unsightly losses in territory battles.
However the disappointment that must be building up in her, Haruyuki could not stop himself from dreading it.
- It will eventually, come down.
At that time, he was shocked to notice himself thinking like that. If he disappointed that person more than this, it would be better if everything ended. This escaping side of him showing up due to old habit, was little by little, but surely continuing to grow in the bottom of his heart.
He thought he had changed. When he accepted Brain Burst, the instant he became Burst Linker, he believed that he was no longer his previous self.
But, isn’t it the same after all? School or virtual battle field, no matter where he goes, is he destined to become the lowest losing group?
While his round, soft and flabby body huddled in the toilet single person stall, Haruyuki shut his eyes as negative thoughts ran through his mind. With his throat still hurting from the burn by stomach acid, he desperately tried to push out a sound.
“...Even so... I...”
However, he could not voice what’s ahead. Right now he does not have enough strength to say that to his losing self.
With the after school chime sounding directly through the local net, Haruyuki muttered without making a sound.
‘- I want to become stronger.’
‘I want to become stronger.’