第2話 ビーター ／ Beater
Kirito: Since the game began, a whole month has gone by. And two thousand people have died so far. After all this time, none of the players have been able to clear Floor One. I used to be a beta tester, and even I haven’t found out where the boss’s lair is. And today, finally, we’re having a meeting to figure out how to find and defeat the Floor One boss.
Diabel: Okay, people! Now that everyone’s here, let’s get this meeting started. So anyway, I want to thank everyone for coming. Good to see you. My name is Diabel, and in this game, the job I rolled is knight!
Guy: Dude, there’s no job system in this game!
Diabel: You guys want to hear this or not? Right, anyway here’s the deal. Our party found the boss room at the top of the tower today. First, we need to defeat the boss and make it to Floor Two. The next step is we have to tell everyone waiting in the Town of Beginnings that it is possible to beat this game! Fact is, it’s our duty as the most capable players here! Do you agree or not?!
Diabel: Okay, glad to hear you’re all with me on this, now let’s figure out how we’re going to beat the boss. First off, we’ll team up into parties of six. A typical party doesn’t stand a chance against a floor boss. We need a raid group made up of multiple parties.
Kirito: You got left out too, huh?
Asuna: Not even. I wasn’t left out. It’s just everyone seems like they’re already friends.
Kirito: So you’re solo too? You want to form a party with me? You heard what the guy just said. We can’t beat the boss on our own, and it would only be for this fight.
Diabel: All right. Looks like everyone’s teamed up. Now then…
Kibaou: Hold up a sec! My name’s Kibaou, got that? Before we take on the boss, I want to get something off my chest! We all know about the two thousand people who died so far, yeah? Well, some of you need to apologize to them right now!
Diabel: Kibaou, I think I know who you’re referring to. You mean the ones who were ex-beta testers, right?
Kibaou: 'Course I mean them! The day this stupid ass game started, the beta guys just got up and vanished, right? They ditched all us beginners! They snagged all the good hunting spots, and they grabbed all the easy quests too! They were the only ones getting stronger in here. This whole time, they’ve ignored us like we were nothing. Hell, I bet there are some of them here! Come on out, beta testers! We should make them apologize to us, and we should make them all give up their money and the items they got! They can’t expect the party to trust them when they don’t trust us! Why should we?!
Agil: Can I say something? Hey, my name’s Agil. Kibaou right? I want to make sure I’m on the same page. You say the ex-beta testers should be blamed for the rookies’ deaths because they didn’t help them, and you want them to apologize and give up their winnings. I leave anything out?
Kibaou: No, you didn’t.
Agil: The item store hands these out for free. It’s a guidebook. You got one, didn’t you?
Kibaou: Sure I got one. So, what about it?
Agil: You know who was handing these out? The ex-beta testers.
Agil: Listen up! Everyone had equal access to this information. Even so, lots of players still died. I didn’t come here to point fingers at anyone. I’m here 'cause I want to learn from those players’ deaths. I’m here because I want to find out how we’re gonna beat the boss.
Diabel: Okay, can we get back to the meeting now? For info on the boss, it’s all in here — the latest issue of the guidebook you just heard about. According to the book, the boss’s name is Illfang the Kobold Lord. Also, he’ll be surrounded by his minions — the Ruin Kobold Sentinels. Illfang carries an axe and a buckler. He has four health bars, and when the last one turns red, he switches to a curved sword type weapon called a Talwar. He can change his patterns of attack, too.
Diabel: That’s it for the briefing. As for the distribution of loot, money will be divided equally among everyone. The party that defeats the boss gets the EXP; and whoever gets an item, gets to keep it. Any objections? Good! We leave tomorrow at ten in the morning! Meeting adjourned, people.
Kirito: Those are pretty good, aren’t they? Mind if I sit down?
Asuna: You really think these taste good?
Kirito: Uh-huh. Since I came to this town, I end up eating at least one a day. Of course, I got a trick to make it taste better.
Asuna: What trick?
Kirito: Try it with some of that.
Kirito: I got it from “The Heifer Strikes Back". That’s the quest in the village before you get to this one. You want to know how I did it?
Asuna: Uh-uh. I appreciate the offer, but I didn’t come to this town to eat good food.
Kirito: Okay. Why are you here?
Asuna: So I don’t lose sight of who I am. I don’t want to lock myself in a room in the Town of Beginnings and slowly rot away. I’d rather stay the way I am till the last moment. Even if a monster beats me and I die, I won’t lose to this game or this world, no matter what.
Kirito: I wouldn’t want a party member dying on me, so try not to die tomorrow.
[—Dec 3, 2022 Floor1: Forest Field—]
Kirito: Let’s go over it again. We’re the backup. So, our target’s gonna be the boss’s minions — the Ruin Kobold Sentinels.
Asuna: I know.
Kirito: I’ll use a sword skill to knock their weapons up and out of the way. When I do, switch and jump in.
Asuna: What’s the switch?
Kirito: Okay, level with me. Is this the first time you’ve ever been in a party?
Diabel: Listen up, everyone. I’ve only got one thing to say to you. Let’s win! Come on!
Diabel: Commence attack!
Diabel: Squads A and C, switch in! Here it comes! Squad B, block! Squad C, keep guarding and prepare to switch! Everyone else, when you fall back, regroup and flank them! Squads D, E and F, keep those minions off us!
Kirito: Yeah, you got it! Switch!
Asuna: I’m on it!
Kirito: I thought she was a beginner, but she’s got good skills. I can’t even see the tip of her sword!
Kirito: Right on!
Kibaou: Looks like the guidebook was right.
Diabel: Stay back! I’ve got it!
Kirito: I thought the plan was for everyone in the group to surround it! That’s not a Talwar! It’s a No-Dachi! This isn’t like the beta! Wait, stop!
Kirito: It’s no good! Get out of there!
Kibaou: Diabel! No!
Kirito: Diabel! What the hell were you thinking?
Diabel: You know — you were a beta-tester too, weren’t you?
Kirito: You were after the Last Attack Bonus — the rare item. You’re just like me, a beta-tester.
Diabel: Please… you have to… defeat the boss… for everyone here!
Kirito: When this death game started, the only thing I thought about was how I was gonna survive. Nothing else mattered. Take care. I’ll be seeing you, Klein. But you weren’t like that, Diabel. You never abandoned the other players. You brought them together. You led everyone, and you fought brilliantly. You tried to accomplish something I couldn’t.
Asuna: I’ll go too.
Kirito: We’ll hit him just like we did the minions!
Asuna: You got it.
Kirito: Switch! Asuna!
Kirito: He’s coming back!
Kirito: Oh, no!
Agil: We can hold this bastard off until your health’s back up!
Kirito: You got it!
Kirito: Watch out! You’re going down! Come on, Asuna! Help me beat this sucker! One last attack!
Asuna: You got it!
Everyone: We did it!
Asuna: Nice job.
Agil: That was some fine swordsmanship. Congratulations — today’s victory is all thanks to you.
Guy: Yeah! You rock, man!
Kibaou: Stop cheering! Why’d you do it, huh? Why’d you let Diabel die?!
Kirito: Let him die?
Kibaou: That’s what I said. Admit it! You knew the technique the boss was gonna use. You could’ve told us! Then Diabel would’ve stood a chance… He wouldn’t have to die!
Guy: I know why he knew! He used to be a beta-tester! Think about it! He knew the boss’s attack patterns! He knew, but he kept it from us! And I bet he’s not the only beta-tester here! Come on, show yourselves!
Kirito: This is bad… at this rate…
Diabel: For everyone here…
Agil: Hey! Calm down! Hm?
Kirito: So, you guys think I used to be a beta-tester. It’s not cool to put me in the same class with those noobs.
Kibaou: What’d you say?
Kirito: You heard me. Most of the thousand people who scored a slot in SAO’s beta were rookies. They were so green, they didn’t even know how to level up. Hell, even you guys are better than they were. But me, I’m nothing like those guys, man. During the beta, I made it to floors that were higher than any of the other testers. That’s a fact. I knew about the boss, 'cause I fought tons of monsters with way more sword skills on higher floors! I know a bunch of other things, too. More than you can imagine. More than any info broker.
Kibaou: W-What the hell? If that’s true, then you’re worse than a beta-tester! You’re a goddamn cheater, that’s what you are!
Guy: He’s a beta-tester and a cheater! He’s a Beater!
Kirito: A beater… Yeah, that’s good. I like it. Okay, you can call me a beater. Just make sure you don’t confuse me with those beta-testers anymore.
Asuna: Wait! When we were fighting the boss, you called me by my name.
Kirito: I wasn’t trying to be rude. Did I mess up the pronunciation?
Asuna: How’d you even know it?
Kirito: If you look right about here, you’ll see another HP gauge under yours. There’s a name written right next to it, yeah?
Asuna: Ki-ri-to… Kirito? Your name’s Kirito.
Asuna: I’m so dumb. It was there the whole time and I never knew.
Kirito: You can become powerful here on your own. But if the day comes when someone you trust invites you to join a guild, don’t turn it down, 'cause there’re limits to what a solo player can do.
Asuna: But, you’re solo.