|Spoiler Alert: This article or section contains details about plotlines not covered in the anime. Do not proceed unless you wish to be spoiled. |
Phantom Bullet (ファントム・バレット, Fantomu Baretto?) is the 5th book in the Sword Art Online Light Novel series, published on August 10, 2010.
A year has passed since «Sword Art Online» (SAO) was cleared. Kirigaya Kazuto (Kirito) is asked by Kikuoka Seijirou to investigate a game called Gun Gale Online, specifically a player, who called himself «Death Gun» and possessed a weapon which seemed to link deaths in the virtual reality (VR) world to those in the real world. Upon entering the game, Kirito meets Sinon who teaches him the ropes around the game. They both enter the Gun Gale Online tournament, Bullet of Bullets (BoB). Kirito displays his amazing skills although he is only a newcomer to the game. As the story continues, Kirito finds out that the mysterious deaths were linked to a red guild, named Laughing Coffin, in «SAO».
In a bar inside Gun Gale Online, XeXeeD, an accomplished player, is on television explaining the failings of AGI types. Most of the people at the bar are grumbling at Zekushido's speech and end up complaining about how he was cheap in the Bullet of Bullets. A cloaked man then walks in, makes the sign of the cross, and opens fire on the TV, most people disregard this action until XeXeeD disconnects suddenly. The shrouded man then makes a proclamation that his gun is named Death Pistol and his name is Death Gun.
Kazuto arrives downtown at a high-class sweet shop after being called up by Kikuoka Seijirou to discuss a certain incident. He first implores Kazuto to order anything, Seijirou begins to explain the situation behind the game Gun Gale Online. Recently, there had been two murder cases within the VR world that seemed to be linked to the real world. The two players that were murdered both showed heart failure after being shot by «Death Gun». Seijirou asks Kazuto to investigate this situation further by connecting to GGO and confronting Death Gun, and Kazuto accepted his offer, as he was offered a "compensation" and was curious about the case himself.
Asuna recalls the events of the past year as she waited for Kazuto to come for their date. Following the meeting, Asuna and Kazuto explored the Imperial Palace and the Edo Castle ruins. It was there that Kazuto revealed the reason behind choosing the Imperial Palace as the location for their date, aside from the fact that he was called to a meeting in that area, was because the Imperial Palace similar to the floating castle Aincrad. After the date, Kazuto revealed to Asuna that he was going to temporarily convert his avatar to Gun Gale Online.
Sinon, Ginrou, Dyne, and his squadron are in the middle of an ambush. As Sinon describes Dyne and his squadron, she mentions how they appear to be a PvP (Player versus Player) team but in reality, they are a disgusting group of individuals who target weak opponents in groups in order to ambush them and take their items. As Sinon mentioned, they are "just a bunch of people without pride." The chapter moves on to describing Sinon's first impressions of GGO and how she wished her character to be a rough emotionless male, prior to discovering that one could not pick the opposite gender than one's gender in real life. Coming back to the ambush scene, they ambush a group of seven players that included a cloaked individual (who is later revealed to be a player named "Behemoth") whom Sinon asked Dyne to take out first. Dyne declines Sinon's suggestion, ultimately leading to a disaster. Chapter 3 also describes the two types of guns in GGO, the live ammunition, and the optical as well as the pros and cons of each type. In addition, it includes how Sinon obtained her «PGM Ultima Ratio Hecate II». During the ambush, Ginrou's avatar, due to not listening to Sinon's suggestion of taking out Behemoth first, is killed by high speed shots from the Behemoth's minigun. The scene moves on to Sinon running for cover from Behemoth's minigun barrage as she tries desperately to find a way to defeat Behemoth. Sinon jumps out of a window sill as she fires a final, powerful round at Behemoth, blowing an enormous hole through Behemoth's face and body, defeating him.
Asada Shino (Sinon) thinks of how many days of school she has left and that she felt that the school was more like an asylum. Shino walks into a bookstore where she meets her old "friends" Endou and company who had used her in the past and abandoned her and even resorted to call upon her fear of guns to make Shino do their bidding after they parted ways. Shino recalls how Endou and the other two were her first friends but after some time, she discovers Endou and her friends in her room without her along with some men she didn't know. From then on, Shino decided to sever the friendship between her and Endou and company. As Shino tries to leave Endou behind, Endou calls upon Shino's weakness of guns as she makes a gun with her fingers and says "Bang", driving Shino into a state of fear and convulsion. Shino however, is saved by her classmate Shinkawa Kyouji who pretends that he is leading cops to the scene where Endou is bullying Shino. The scene changes to introducing Kyouji and describing how Kyouji had introduced and described Gun Gale Online to Shino in order to help her overcome her fear of guns. This part describes how the avatar "Sinon", a ruthless sniper who became famous in the wasteland of GGO, was created. Kyouji asks Shino about the ambush and Shino describes the failure and how Behemoth slaughtered four of their six members. The chapter moves on to describing the types of players in GGO namely the AGI (Agility) and STR (Strength) types and how the newer guns are inaccessible to AGI types because of the lack of STR in the previous AGI types is needed to wield the newer guns that are more powerful than their predecessor. After splitting ways with Kyouji, Shino returns to her apartment and takes out the gun she had obtained from the previous Bullet of Bullets as a prize, the Procyon SL classified as an optical gun in GGO. It is revealed that Shino initially wanted to choose in-game money over the gun since she could not stand anything related to guns in real life but had decided to receive the gun instead in order to overcome her fear. The scene moves on to describing the death of her father in a car crash while Shino was a child and how her mother regressed into when she was a teenager. It describes how Shino's mother wished for peace and quiet and began to love Shino like a little sister. Shino recalls how the persistent salesman when she was 9 years old may have led to the incident when she was in fifth grade. Shino was at a post office and a burglar burst into the post office she and her mother were at, and threatened to shoot her mother. To protect her mother, Shino took the gun from the burglar and pulled the trigger on him, eventually killing him. This is the event that eventually led to Shino's great fear of guns. In her room, Shino tries to think of how GGO and looking at pictures while killing monsters online with guns can heal the scars and help her overcome her fear.
Death Gun views the Gun Gale Online news and reads a conversation between players discussing the deaths of XeXeeD and Usujio Tarako regarding their deaths at the hands of Death Gun. After moving away from the web browser, Death Gun recalls his plan to kill two more people in the Third Bullet of Bullets and how his power and identity are unquestionable unlike «The Black Swordsman» and that no one would ever find out who he is aside from his other half. The chapter closes with Death Gun viewing Sinon and her "Ultimate Ratio Hecate II" on his hit-list and thinking of how "her mind and body could become his" as he strokes the photo of Sinon.
Kazuto recalls Asuna's expression when he told her that he was going to temporarily transfer his avatar to Gun Gale Online and how he couldn't create and train a new avatar in time to enter the third Bullet of Bullets. Kazuto goes to the hospital where he is greeted by Nurse Aki who suddenly extends both of her hands, and feels Kazuto up and down. Kazuto puts on the AmuSphere and enters the world of GGO and describes the majestic view of Gun Gale Online. Kirito converts his character and to his surprise, he ends up looking like a girl who another player offer a large sum of money due to the rare existence of that character. The character, a rare M9000 type that presumably could only be obtained through having a large amount of playtime, looked exceptionally like a female. After converting into GGO, Kirito meets Sinon who he asks for help and Sinon says that he needs credits to play. Sinon takes Kirito to a casino where Kirito, to everyone's surprise, beats the "impossible" game and earns 300,000 credits which he uses to buy a «Kagemitsu G4» (150,000 credits) and a «FN Five-Seven» along with pre-prepared bullet magazines, a thick bulletproof jacket, a belt-type optical gun shielding field, and some other small equipment. After his shopping spree, Sinon explains how the only instantaneous movement is after being killed and being teleported to the revival area. Sinon follows the explanation by barely making it in time with Kirito to the Bullet of Bullets registration while on the way being surprised with Kirito's exceptional driving skills in the buggy. After the registration, it is shown that Kirito and Sinon are in the same preliminary block but won't meet each other until the finals. The scene moves on to where Kirito and Sinon prepare to change and Sinon finding out that Kirito was a guy, to which she is infuriated by her shamelessness in front of a man as she gives Kirito the cold shoulder. She later ends up giving Kirito the basics to the Bullet of Bullets tournament and tells him that after the explanation, they were officially enemies. The scene moves on to Kirito in the stadium for his first match as he is initially confused but ends up with an amazing win as he astonishes the audience with his amazing swordsmanship as he cut through bullets to defeat his opponent. After the match, Kirito is confronted by a masked man who wore a tattered gray mantle who Kirito suspects to be the renown Death Gun. Death Gun asks Kirito if he's the "real one", referring to Kirito the Black Swordsman from SAO. The scene moves on to Kirito remembering "Laughing Coffin", the killing guild in SAO and it's leader, PoH. Kirito describes PoH as a handsome person who was well-versed in three languages (English, Japanese, and Spanish). Kirito moves on to describing PoH's actual ability as a talented dagger user and how the lawless followers were all attracted to PoH the same way that people were attracted to Heathcliff. Kirito also describes the vanquishing of Laughing Coffin where the himself and 50 others formed a Clearing Group to defeat Laughing Coffin after finding their location through information brokers. Sinon later finds Kirito in the middle of recalling Death Gun and Kirito grabs Sinon's hand and places it on his chest.
Sinon recalls what had happened between her and Kirito, where Kirito grabbed her hand and held onto it and that she actually felt the warmth of his hand despite being in a virtual reality. Sinon comes back to her senses as she returns to the battle field where she disposes of her semi-final opponent. The scene moves on to her match against Kirito where it seemed that Kirito was intentionally going to let himself get shot by Sinon. Realizing this, Sinon is enraged as she forces Kirito to fight seriously. Apologizing, Kirito offers a duel right then and there to Sinon where Kirito predicts Sinon's bullet line through her eyes in the scope and ends up winning the final round in the preliminaries. Sinon resigns after Kirito's persistence at not hurting girls.
- The dressing room scene was not part of the web version novel. Instead, after registering, Sinon and Kirito introduced themselves without going to the dressing room.
- The mention of the significance of the Tokyo Imperial Palace in Japan is also utilized in one of the author's other series, Accel World.
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