Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sword Art Online Volume 17 - Alicization Awakening

Chapter 20 – Each of Their Battles

7 July 2026 / Eighth Day of the Eleventh Month of the Human Empire Calendar, 380

5:00 a.m.

More than 3,000 players gathered in a great dome in the World Tree that stood in the heart of Alne City, at the center of the world of ALfheim Online.

The winged knight monsters defending the dome’s roof gate had been removed. Instead, the nine fairy races now used this space to meet and negotiate, or as a venue for events.

Only four players were facing the roughly 3,000 other players who had been gathered to this large, inconvenient meeting.

The hulking Gnome Agil, Salamander samurai Klein, Cait Sith beast tamer Silica, and Leprechaun blacksmith Lisbeth — partners of the «Black Swordsman» Kirito, who was still diving in «Underworld», yet to awaken.

At 4:20 a.m., when Klein and Lisbeth had been sending out in-game messages to every single friend on their lists, there were only three Lord-class players online. But, while pleading with them and their subordinate officers, they resorted to the taboo method of begging them to contact other players in real life. As a result, all of the players currently in the square had managed to assemble in just 40 minutes.

In this sizable, hemispherical space, nearly 30% of the floating or standing players were using newly created accounts. They were certainly not new to VRMMOs, however. They were veterans of other The Seed games, diving here by request of friends who had ALO accounts.

In other words, the 3,000 people gathered in this World Tree dome were the elites of the elites among Japanese VRMMO players. They were the final hope of Yui, the top-down AI: they were the only force that could save the Human Empire Defense Army in Underworld.

In the hushed dome, the Leprechaun blacksmith Lisbeth’s magically amplified voice continued to broadcast emotionally.

“… What I’m telling you guys is not a lie, nor a joke! A Japanese research organization has used our national budget and The Seed to build a virtual world called «Underworld», and thousands of American players who know nothing about it are about to dive in and massacre the residents inside!”

Lisbeth felt embarrassed at her own nationalistic tone, but remained encouraged by reassuring herself that was only to her advantage; she continued shouting:

“The residents of Underworld aren’t just NPCs! They are true artificial intelligence, born from the data of the countless VRMMO worlds that you’ve all been playing in! They have emotions like we do, they have souls like we do! Please, to protect them, please lend us your strength! Please convert the character data that you all are currently using into Underworld!”

Ending her five minute speech, Lisbeth surveyed the players, and hoped.

The crowd of fairy faces only looked confused. Of course, there was no way they could immediately understand just by suddenly hearing all of this. Even Lisbeth herself still found it hazy after listening to Yui’s explanation of Underworld’s structure, and the «Artificial Fluctlights» living within.

An elegant hand rose out of the shocked, clamoring players.

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