Sword Art Online:Volume 6 Chapter 7
It was a bright and clear Sunday. I was sitting at the dining table eating my lunch, and I suddenly had an «ominous feeling» rush up between my eyebrows after seeing my beloved imouto giving me her brightest smile. This proves how I, Kirigaya Kazuto, was not a good person.
However, I still stopped myself from putting the cherry tomato into my mouth and said,
“Wha…what’s wrong, Sugu?”
Once I finished asking, I saw my imouto—or rather, my cousin, Kirigaya Suguha sitting across me. She picked up something that she had put down on the chair beside her, and at this moment, I immediately knew that my premonition was spot on.
“Erm…did you see this news on the net this morning?”
As she said that, a large A4-sized printing paper was pushed to me. It seemed that she printed the news bulletin of the largest VRMMO gaming info website «MMO Tomorrow», or ‘M Tomo’ for short.
The headlines had the words ‘The list of 30 players taking part in the 3rd «Bullet of Bullets» Royal Rumble for the title of the strongest in ‘Gun Gale Online’ has been revealed’ written in thick font.
Below it, there’s also a brief report of the namelist of all the participants.
The finger of Suguha, who cut her fingernails neatly, pointed to a line ‘Ranked 1st in Group F: Kirito ‘First’ ’ I glanced at those words and weakly tried to cover things up.
“Heh, heh— so there’s someone with a name similar to mine—”
“What do you mean similar? It’s completely the same.”
Under the bangs, Suguha showed a smile on the clean face befitting that of a sports-girl.
In this world of reality, she could take part in the national High School kendo tournament and the Gyokuryuuki group kendo tournament. Someone weak like me who could only hide at home can’t match her physically. Also, Suguha’s controlling the fairy swordsman «Lyfa» in this completely technical VRMMO «ALfheim Online». Those proper and sturdy sword techniques far surpass my sword skills where I merely swung my sword wildly.
No matter whether it’s the real world or virtual world, I could only apologize immediately once I get into an argument with Suguha, but normally, I wouldn’t need to worry about that. That’s because during the past year ever since I returned back to the real world, we cleared all the alienating feeling we had when we were young, and even had quite a good relationship. Even dad would feel jealous after coming back from America during summer vacation.
Today—Sunday, year 2025, December 14. As mom was at the editorial department like usual, Suguha and I had to buy our own ingredients for lunch. We had Caesar salad with boiled eggs and seafood paella, and so we faced each other at the table and started to tuck in happily…until Suguha took out that piece of paper.
“…Ye-Yeah, it’s the same, hm.”
I barely looked away from the paper that had the name Kirito on it and put the cherry tomato into my mouth. I chewed on it and said with a vague voice,
“Bu-But, that’s a pretty common name, right? I just cut my name short. This Kirito in GGO may be called, Kiri… Kirigamine Tougorou. That could be his real name, yup.”
The reason why I would feel such a sharp pain after saying such a blatant lie must be because I said a huge lie to my beloved imouto. Yes, the Kirito that Suguha was talking about was my character in the game.
As for why I had to hide this fact, it was because I had to «convert» my avatar Kirito from ALO to the shooter MMO «Gun Gale Online», a game with lots of problems, so that I could take part in the «Bullet of Bullets» tournament.
This so-called «convert» is to make use of the shared VRMMO functions that «The Seed» platform used. It could convert a character from a certain game into another one while «keeping the same strength». This was a system that was completely unimaginable a few years ago.
Of course, there were some limitations to this system, and the biggest of them was that I could only move a character, and can’t move the money and equipment into a new game. Thus, the transfer wouldn’t be just a temporary one, but a permanent one.
If I said that I want to transfer from ALO to another game, Suguha, who liked that fairy kingdom, would be really badly affected. On the other hand, I am hesitating over whether I should explain to Suguha why I transferred «Kirito» over to GGO. That’s because this has something to do with the darkest secrets of VRMMO.
The man who requested me to investigate the world of GGO was called Kikuoka Seijirou. He was once a member of the government’s «SAO incident task force», and now, he’s a member of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and VR world Division, a government official of what’s called the «Virtual Division».
On Sunday a week ago, Kikuoka called me out and told me of something strange.
He noted that amongst the streets of the world of GGO, an avatar would say to other avatars «judgement» and shoot bullets at them. That alone would be merely a prank or a disturbance. However, in the real world, there were two players who died immediately the moment they were shot—that’s basically about it.
I do feel that there’s a 90% chance that it was all a coincidence.
However, I really couldn’t give up on that remaining 10% possibility of a «certain type»…so I accepted Kikuoka’s dangerous request and entered the world of GGO, hoping to interact with that shooter who created this commotion.
As there was no time to train my character, I could only convert my Kirito from ALO over and took part in the BoB preliminaries on Saturday yesterday to catch his attention. The initial gunfight caused me quite a headache, but luckily, the first player I met and befriended explained the content of the game to me, allowing me to pass through the preliminaries and a first interaction with the guy who could be the shooter.
Up till now, I still don’t know whether that guy who called himself «Death Gun» really had the ability to kill gamers in the real world through the game itself.
However, that made me find out something.
The «Death Gun» and I had an unexpected relationship.
Like me, the «Death Gun» was a «survivor» of that death game—Sword Art Online. Also, I may have fought against him before and even intended to end his life—…
“Onii-chan, you’re making that terrifying face again.”
On hearing that, my body suddenly jerked. The eyes that were looking up at the sky blankly immediately saw Suguha frowning as she gave me a worried look.
She put down the printed piece of paper she pushed to me onto the table, held her hands together lightly and looked straight at me.
“…Well, erm, actually, I knew that onii-chan… «Kirito-kun» converted over from ALO to GGO.”
These sudden words caused me to nearly pop my eyes out. On seeing that, this imouto of mine who’s a year younger than me gave me a mature smile that showed that she saw through everything.
“How could I not notice that Kirito-kun already disappeared from my friends list?”
“…No, however, I intend to move back after this weekend…and you don’t have to check your friends list all the time…”
“I could feel it without looking.”
Suguha said firmly. Those wide eyes were shining with the aura of mystery, and at this moment, I actually had a thought that this person is a girl. This idea was really awkward of me, and besides, the guilt of converting over without telling my imouto caused me to look away. However, Suguha said firmly to me.
“…The moment I noticed that Kirito-kun disappeared yesterday, I immediately disconnected and got ready to rush into onii-chan’s room. However, onii-chan definitely wouldn’t have any reason to hide from me and leave ALO. I thought that something was amiss, so I contacted Asuna-san.”
My neck shrank after I answered briefly.
I only told Asuna—Yuuki Asuna and our «daughter», the AI Yui, that I converted from ALO to GGO. Even if I disappear only for two seconds, let alone days, Yui, who had partial system login authority would find out immediately.
And Yui doesn’t like me hiding things from Asuna. Of course, she would definitely understand if I told her that I had some troubles, but I couldn’t do that after remembering that my instruction will cause a huge strain on Yui’s main program.
Thus, I could only tell Asuna and Yui that ‘I have to head to GGO because Kikuoka Seijirou requested me to’, and even explained that the aim was to ‘investigate the links in The Seed’. However, I couldn’t explain the main reason to them. Actually, it was about «Death Gun»’s shooting in the game and the 2 deaths in the real world—
This sounds really ridiculous, but as it was too unique, I felt that it just wasn’t right. Also, this was also the biggest reason why I couldn’t tell Suguha or my other friends that I converted my data.
I looked down and murmured, and then, I heard something move.
Then, it was the soft footsteps and the feeling of my shoulders being touched.
Suguha leaned her body on my back and whispered to my ears.
“Asuna-san said that ‘he will be back like usual after creating chaos in GGO’, but I guess that she should be rather anxious. I’m like her too, because…because, onii-chan, you came back so late last night, and your face was really scary.”
I could only answer that. Suguha’s short hair stroked my neck, and a voice with a tinge of breath was close to my left ear, and ringed,
“It…shouldn’t be dangerous, right…? I don’t really want you to go somewhere far away…”
“…I won’t leave.”
This time, I said it clearly to her, and then placed my right hand on the small hand that’s on my left shoulders.
“I promise. Tonight, after the GGO event is over, I’ll come back to ALO…and this house.”
Suguha seemed to nod her head, and then leaned her upper body over to me as she just remained there.
My imouto was already distraught during the 2 years I was trapped inside SAO, and I really shouldn’t have made her so anxious.
Actually, I could send a message to Kikuoka Seijirou that ‘I don’t want to do it’, and just forget about everything-- But after what happened in the preliminaries yesterday, there were two reasons that made it tough for me to do it.
One of the reasons was that I agreed to fight against the girl «Sinon», who wielded some terrifyingly huge sniper rifle, mistook me for some female gamer, and earnestly taught me all sorts of tricks.
And the other reason was my grudge with «Death Gun».
I have to face that man in the grey coat again, confirm his «past name»—and the two friends of his that I killed with my sword. This was supposed to be a responsibility I should have done when I returned back to the real world…
I tapped on the hand Suguha placed on my shoulder, and again said,
“Don’t worry, I’ll definitely come back. Let’s hurry up and eat. The food is about to turn cold.”
Suguha’s voice sounded more powerful now as she nodded her head, hugged me on the shoulders and let go after a while.
After she ran back to her seat in small steps, my imouto had a bright smile on her face. She took a large scoop of paella, stuffed it into her mouth, and then twirled her spoon lightly.
“Speaking of which, onii-chan.”
“I heard from Asuna-san that you can earn lots of money in this «job», right?”
My mind began to recall the 300,000 yen reward I would receive from Kikuoka, and the PC parts catalog that I was prepared to use the money for...I decided that I could forgo the increased storage capacity, and so slapped my chest confidently.
“O, oh, I’ll buy anything for you, so just wait for me to come back.”
“That’s great! I always wanted to buy a nanocarbon shinai!”
...Looks like I'll have to give up the main memory as well.
I went out earlier than 3pm to avoid the traffic crowd, and hopped onto the old bike before leaving the house.
The vehicle moved through Kawagoe Street as it continued to head east, went past Ikebukuro, and moved through Kasuga Street. After that, I turned south at Hongo, went through Bunkyou City before arriving at the general hospital, which was my current destination.
I came here yesterday, but my memory seemed to be far away.
Actually, the reason was simple. I couldn't sleep no matter how long I laid on my bed, and could only keep my eyes open in the darkness as I tried to remember the long-forgotten past that was deep within me - the entire process of the destruction of the killer guild «Laughing Coffin» during the SAO era.
In the end, I finally gave up trying to sleep on my own and at 4am in the morning, wore the AmuSphere, entered the VR space, used the local area network to call out my «daughter» Yui from the PC in my house and made her continue to talk to me until «sleep mode» was activated. However, I couldn’t get a nice long dream because I couldn’t sleep soundly.
Luckily, I don’t really remember much of the contents, but a voice continued to ring in my ears ever since I woke up.
--Are you Kirito?
That was probably the mutter the gamer called «Death Gun» said to me in the preliminaries yesterday.
And this was also a question to me, the person who used his swords to slay two—no three «Laughing Coffin» members, including that bodyguard of Asuna.
Is it you? You’re the «Kirito» who killed us?
I just couldn't answer ‘that’s right’ straight away when facing this question, whether it was the BoB preliminaries or the dream.
During the finals at 8pm today, I guess I will face that guy who looked like an undead. If I am asked that question again, I have to admit this no matter what.
But I just didn’t have confidence that I could do this.
“…I knew it would become like this…”
I should have used an entirely new name to enter GGO instead of converting the name «Kirito» over from ALO.
Depreciating myself as I laughed about such a shameful thought, I parked the bike and walked into the ward building.
As I sent a message over before I left, nurse Aki was waiting for me in that hospital room yesterday. Just like yesterday, she had a loosely tied braid on her hair, but today, she had a pair of frameless spectacles on her nose. She was sitting at the chair beside the bed, crossing her long and slender legs as she raised one of them up, and reading the paper book that seemed to be a little outdated. However, she quickly closed the book and smiled once she saw me.
“Ya, you came here rather early, boy.”
“Sorry for bothering you again today, Aki-san.”
After nodding to her, I looked at the clock and found that it was not even 4pm yet. There’re more than 4 hours before the BoB finals begin, but I can’t possibly learn much if I sweated too much over nearly missing out on the registration. I guess it’s best to appear earlier and get some shooting practice.
I placed my coat on the hanger and said to Nurse Aki.
“Well, since the tournament starts at 8, you can take my ECG then.”
Upon doing so, the nurse in the nurse lab coat shrugged her shoulders lightly.
“It’s okay. I just finished night duty. I’m on off duty today, so I can accompany you for a few hours.”
“Eh…erm, isn’t that too awkward…”
“Really? I’ll borrow your bed if I want to sleep.”
She said these words and winked a bit. As a huge VRMMO addict who has very little experience in BGR, I could only look away vaguely. Nurse Aki chuckled on seeing me like this. As this person saw me in an embarrassing position during my rehab, I could not lift my head up to look at her.
I sat on the bed to hide this awkwardness, and immediately scanned through the screen equipment beside me and the two overlapping silver ringed-helmet—«AmuSphere» that were prepared for me.
Kikuoka specially prepared a brand new machine for me, and there's not a single stain on both the stainless steel or the man-made leather. Its trendy design and feel far surpassed the initial Nerve Gear, and it was more apt to call it a decoration than an electronic device.
This machine shouldn't be able to cause fatal microwaves like what its ad tagline «definitely safe» indicates. No, it's more like it was strictly designed to be able to create weak electric signals.
So normally, there was no need to head to a hospital and connect myself to an ECG and let a nurse stand beside me to guard my safety. No matter what anyone does, the probability of them being able to hurt me through this AmuSphere is zero. No chance whatsoever.
The famous gamers in GGO, «Zekushiido» and «Usujio Tarako», did die in real life.
And the «Death Gun» avatar who fired virtual bullets at them was someone who PKed of his own free will in SAO...a red player.
What if there were some dangerous component still hidden in the FullDive technology?
For example, maybe players who killed people in the abnormal world of SAO started to give off a certain type of digital «killing intent» or «grudge» suited to the VR environment. That gets converted into data by the AmuSphere, is transmitted over the network, becomes some kind of signal in the target's nervous system, and flows inside...actually causing their heart to stop.
If this hypothesis is correct, then maybe it's possible for the attacks of «Death Gun» inside the game to kill players in the real world.
At the same time, it's even possible that the virtual sword wielded by «Kirito» could end up really killing «Death Gun» or someone else.
After all, I've also killed players in Aincrad. Probably more than most of the red players did.
Up till now, I would deliberately forget those who fell at my blade. However, the seal of those memories was opened yesterday.
No, it's more like I couldn't forget about them at all. During this past year, I just lived through while trying to pretend that nothing happened, and continued to escape the price of the sin I committed...
“What's with you, boy? You don't look so good.”
The tip of the white slippers suddenly knocked at my knees.
I was so shocked that my shoulders went stiff. Looking up, I found that Nurse Aki was looking at me through the frameless spectacles.
I shook my head slightly, but still bit my lips hard in the end. A few hours ago, I made Suguha worry for the same reason. It's too shameful of me to let Nurse Aki worry about me even after accepting such a request.
However, Nurse Aki gave me the encouraging smile she showed when I was doing rehab. She stood up from the chair, moved beside me and said,
“It's a rare chance for a beautiful nurse to give counselling. Just say what's on your mind.”
“...I'll likely get divine retribution if I refuse.”
Fuu...after exhaling hard, I looked at the floor, hesitated for a while, and said,
“...Well, Nurse Aki. You were in the surgical department before coming over to Rehab, right?”
“Yes, that's right.”
“Please forgive this rude and direct question of mine...”
I glanced up left and asked in a more delicate voice,
“...How long can those patients who died remain in your mind...?”
This is a question I would probably get scolded for or even blank white eyes. If I were a nurse, I'll be wondering what would a brat who doesn't know anything about the surgical scene ask something like he knew what's going on.
However, Nurse Aki still gave me a smile and answered,
She looked at the ceiling of the patient's room for a while, and slowly opened her mouth before saying,
“If I try to recall, I can remember their names and faces. Even if it's a patient whom I spend only an hour with in the same operation room...hm, I can still remember. I only saw them sleeping due to the anaesthetic. That's really unbelievable, isn't it?”
In other words, there were some deaths in the operations Nurse Aki did before...I knew that this isn't something that I can just touch on randomly, but I couldn't help but ask,
“Don't you want to forget them?”
Nurse Aki blinked twice, perhaps seeing my expression I don't know of after I said that. However, the lips that had light lipstick on them continued to maintain their smile.
“Hmm, well...I don't know if I can answer your question here...”
Nurse Aki said that, and then continued with a very hoarse voice,
“Humans will definitely forget once they feel that there's something they should forget. They wouldn't even have any thoughts of wanting to forget. The more you want to forget, the more the memory's ingrained in you, which will make it clearer, right? In that case, I guess...deep inside your heart, your subconsciousness, you didn't really want to forget about that, right?”
This unexpected answer caused me to take a slight gasp.
The more I want to forget, the more I couldn't forget...?
These words went straight into my heart, leaving a strong bitter taste in my mouth. After I turned it to a self-depreciating smile, I said these words,
“...Then, I'm really a bad person...”
Evading the 'why' stare Nurse Aki was giving me, I looked between my feet on the floor, clenched my fists and placed them on my knees, and used this pressure to release the words from my chest.
“...I killed 3 players...in SAO...”
The dry voice knocked into the white walls of the patient's room and returned as a wonderful echo. No, I guess my brain was the only one that was affected.
I came to this hospital during November and December last year to recuperate, and Nurse Aki was the one in charge of taking care of me. That's how she knew that I was imprisoned inside the virtual world for two years. However, I had never told her about what happened in that world.
Anyone working in the medical care department would definitely feel unhappy about hearing that I took lives. However, I just couldn't stop talking. I could only lower my head further and say with the hoarse voice.
“They were all reds...all «murderers», but I could have chosen not to kill them and make them unable to fight then. But I still slayed them, because of my own rage, anger...and lust for revenge. I have even forgotten about them for this past year. No, I still couldn't remember their names and faces even if I say this now. In other words...I'm the kind of guy who would even forget the people I personally killed.”
The moment I shut my mouth up, the patient room became completely silent.
After a while, the sound of clothes rubbing and the shaking of the bed hit me. I guess Nurse Aki who's sitting on my left is about to leave the room.
However, I was wrong. A hand went over my back and was placed on my right shoulder before pulling me over forcefully. At this moment, the left side of my body was stuck tightly onto the nurse lab coat. The tense me that heard a soft voice with light breathing at a position very close to me.
“I'm sorry, Kirigaya-kun. I said confidently that I could ease your emotional problems, but I still can't remove the burden on you. Of course, I can't bear it with you.”
The hand that was on my right shoulder started stroking my hand.
“I have never played any VR games, let alone «Sword Art Online»...so I can't feel the weight of the words «kill». However...one thing I definitely know is that you ended up having to do that because you wanted to help someone, right?”
Her words took me by surprise.
To help others. This element did exist, bu-but, I can't just...
“In healthcare, there are also situations where we have to choose who we want to save, like abandoning an infant to save the mother, to abandon a vegetable to save someone who's waiting for an organ and so on. In a large scale scenario or disaster, there are standards to assess the 'level of injury' and prioritize those who need help. Of course...it's not that we can kill without a good reason. A lost life can't be taken back no matter what price is paid. But...someone like you should also have the right to think that someone was saved because of you. You have the right to redeem yourself by thinking of those people you saved.”
“Allowing me...to redeem myself...”
After I said that with a hoarse voice, I shook my head while Nurse Aki's hand was still on me.
“Bu-But...I forgot about those people I killed, threw away those responsibilities and duties, so I shouldn't even be redeemed...”
“It wouldn't hurt that much if you really had forgotten about it.”
After saying that with a firm voice, Nurse Aki placed her left hand on my hand and turned me to her. The long narrow eyes behind the frameless spectacles had a tough glow in it. I found that there were tears rolling out of my eyes the moment she used the thumb with the shortened fingernail to wipe my eyes.
“You still remembered it clearly. Of course, you will remember everything when it's time for you to remember. That's why, you have to remember those you helped and saved at that time too.”
After she said that, Nurse Aki placed her forehead near my forehead.
The icy touch caused the swirling heavy brain of mine to calm down. My shoulders started to relax too, and I slowly closed my eyes.
A few minutes later, I was half naked and had electrodes for the ECG stuck on me as I raised my hands to lift the AmuSphere.
Ever since last night, I've always had an icy and heavy fear and responsibility troubling me, and now this burden has finally left me. But once I meet that guy in «Gun Gale Online» again—«Death Gun», the burden will press down on me again.
The VR screen that was as heavy as cast iron was placed on my head. I turned the power on, and immediately, there was soon an electronic chime that indicated the completion of standby. I moved my vision and said to Nurse Aki who was sitting beside the screen equipment,
“I'll leave the control to you then. And, also...about just now...thanks.”
“No, it's nothing to be thankful for.”
After saying that in a pastor-like tone, the nurse draped a thin blanket on me. I forcefully closed my eyes amidst the aroma of clean soap.
“Well, I doubt anything will be happening until 8...I'll probably be back by 10. I'm going now, then. ——LINK START—!”
After shouting, the colored lights appeared in front of me, and then swallowed me in.
As my senses were gradually severed, Nurse Aki's voice could be heard.
“I understand. Be on your way, «Hero Kirito»-kun.”
Before I could even think, my consciousness left reality and entered that barren wasteland of dust and smoke.
References and Translation Notes
- One of many Japanese terms used to refer to an elder brother or elder male cousin or by younger kids to refer to any elder male as a form of respect. Please note that the Japanese language carries different ways of referring to the same relative, each carrying different levels of affection, respect, etc. Therefore this has been left as is.
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