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Alicization Invading (アリシゼーション・インベーディング, Arishizēshon Inbēdingu?) is the 15th book in the Sword Art Online Light Novel series, published on August 9, 2014. It is the first volume in the War of the Underworld sub-arc of the Alicization arc.
Chapter 14 -
The One Who Steals Souls
At the end of the fourth Bullet of Bullets tournament in Gun Gale Online, only two players remained: Subtilizer and Sinon. Using his intuition, Subtilizer predicted that Sinon would choose to snipe on the 5th floor of a five story building. Avoiding loose rubble, he walked up behind her and began strangling her. Sinon struggled within Subtilizer's grip, but as he had a high STR stat, he managed to hold on. As Sinon was about to die, he held her close and whispered into her ear that her soul would be sweet.
Gabriel Miller, chief technology officer of «Glowgen Defense Systems», awoke in a luxurious room in San Diego, California. After remembering his dream of defeating the blue-haired sniper while FullDiving, a dream that had been a reality a few days prior, he began to think about the human soul.
After seeing a video of a praying mantis surviving without a head, a young Gabriel questioned where the insect's soul was housed and came to the conclusion that it was spread throughout its entire body, only leaving the vessel after considering it a lost cause. Gabriel desired to see the soul of the insect leaving its body and carried out numerous experiments, but to no avail. Gabriel's friend and neighbor, Alicia Klingerman, was the subject of his thoughts on the soul as well. Because humans were unable to live without a head, Gabriel determined that the human soul must be housed in the brain. He intended to marry Alicia and one day see her soul, but upon learning that she was to move away, he plotted to kill her as to protect the soul that should have been his.
Shortly before she left, Gabriel took Alicia to his secret laboratory where he had performed his experiments. He took a long needle and stabbed it into Alicia's left ear, killing her. Gabriel then saw a small, glittering cloud appear from Alicia's forehead and enter into his own without any resistance. Alicia's soul cloud poured images into Gabriel's mind for what seemed like an eternity, before ascending once again and disappearing. Gabriel resolved himself to spend the rest of his life in pursuit of that which he had just seen, even if it was merely a hallucination.
Having awoken from his recollections, Gabriel began thinking about the operation he would soon undertake, an operation that was related to what he had staked his life to seek out. Glowgen's client, the National Security Agency, had requested that his company infiltrate Rath and steal their Soul Translation technology. Gabriel happily accepted the job, attributing it to fate, and began thinking about how close he was to realizing his dream.
The captain of the submarine that was to take Gabriel and his team into foreign waters was very displeased with the team he carried. However, a hollowness in Gabriel's eyes that devoured all light reminded him of the eyes of a great white shark, and made him forget his displeasure. After finding their target on the sonar and getting close, Gabriel and his team loaded into a midget submarine and launched, heading towards the Ocean Turtle.
Chapter 15 - In the Northern Lands
In the aftermath of the battle at the Central Cathedral, Alice Synthesis Thirty took Kirito down to the lower floors of the Cathedral and woke Bercouli Synthesis One to tell him about everything she had learned. Bercouli then gathered the other Integrity Knights and explained to them about Administrator Quinella's plan to turn humans into sword golems, as well as her defeat, leaving out only the information about how the Integrity Knights were created. The other Knights decided to follow Bercouli due to him being at the top of the chain of command. Bercouli requested them to gather any and all capable fighters from the Human Empire and train them to aid in the defense against the Dark Territory.
As some Integrity Knights and ascetics believed that Kirito should be executed for turning his sword against the Axiom Church, Alice left Centoria with Kirito after helping the other knights for two weeks. Since Alice did not have the funds to rent an inn nor the desire to exert her authority as an Integrity Knight, she decided to travel to Rulid Village, hoping that the villagers would welcome them. However, when she met with her father, Gasupht Zuberg, she was told to leave instead. With the help of Garitta, Alice built a cabin two kilolu from the village for her and Kirito to live in. While there, Alice used the most powerful healing Sacred Art she was able to, but was unable to heal so much as Kirito's missing arm. Even four months after her attempted healing, Kirito's condition remained unchanged.
One day, five months after the battle at the Central Cathedral, Alice took Kirito, who was now relegated to a wheelchair and unable to speak or move, up onto a hill overlooking a lake where she reminisced about the battle against Administrator and how it had taken Kirito's consciousness. Later that day, Alice, who was now doing simple jobs, such as cutting down trees to earn money, went to the area south of Rulid Village where the Gigas Cedar had been to help with yet another tree-cutting job. Using one swing with the Night Sky Sword, she chopped down the tree that would have taken the normal workers numerous days to fell. Some of the workers, curious as to how Alice was able to fell such a tree so easily, took the Blue Rose Sword from Kirito, who had knocked over his wheelchair and fallen to the ground in an attempt to retrieve it. Suppressing the urge to sever the hands of the men who took the sword from Kirito, Alice forced them to return it to him.
After returning to the cabin, seeing her dragon Amayori to sleep, and making dinner, Alice heard Amayori's cries. The cries drew the attention of another dragon flying in the area who then landed in the meadow the cabin was located in. This dragon, Amayori's brother Takiguri, was flown there by Eldrie Synthesis Thirty-one, who offered her some of his wine. Unimpressed by Eldrie's flattery, Alice invited him inside if he had important business with her.
Inside, Alice served Eldrie some stew as he had not brought any rations with him. During the meal, Alice discovered that Eldrie was sent to the region to investigate reports of goblins and orcs sneaking in the area and had coincidentally found her during his investigation. Continuing the thought of fate guiding him to Alice, Eldrie requested her to return to the Order of Integrity Knights and fight alongside the Human Empire Defense Army. As Alice refused, the angered Eldrie blamed Kirito for this decision. In response, Alice rejected Eldrie's notion that Kirito was responsible for her inaction and explained that she believed herself unable to properly wield her sword.
After Eldrie had left, Alice took Kirito to bed, where she recalled what she had heard about the «World End Altar» located in the Dark Territory. She questioned what was there and whether it was worth attempting to reach, considering the option of ending everything by taking Kirito's life as well as her own. Unsure of what to do, Alice began to weep.
Alice spent the entirety of the following day writing letters to Selka and Garitta, apologizing and saying goodbye. Because Eldrie had learned of her cabin, she could no longer stay there as she feared that Bercouli, whom she could not refuse, would come in Eldrie's place to persuade her to help the Defense Army. After deciding to let Amayori choose their next destination, they went to sleep once more.
Woken by Kirito's weak shaking, Alice pondered what was causing Kirito's unease, until she heard cries from Amayori. Rushing outside to find flames rising in the west, she quickly deduced that Rulid Village was under attack by the Dark Territory. Unsure of whether she was strong enough to fight the Dark Territory and save the villagers, Alice stood petrified until she saw Kirito attempting to reach the three swords hanging on the wall. Inspired by his action, Alice equipped her armor under an overcoat and pulled her Fragrant Olive Sword from the wall, after which, she leapt onto Amayori and headed for the village.
Upon reaching the village, Alice was shocked to see that there were countless people who had not fled. Without hesitation, she jumped down from her dragon, landed next to Village Chief Gasupht and the wealthy farmer Nigel Balbossa and ordered them to evacuate the remaining villagers. Upon learning that the men were under orders from the guard chief, Alice proclaimed that she was an Integrity Knight, as she tore her overcoat to reveal her armor, in order to revoke the guard chief's order and have the villagers flee. While the villagers were escaping, Alice summoned Amayori and had her attack with a heat ray, killing more than twenty goblins before the dragon returned to the sky. Having resolved herself to fight for what she chooses to fight for instead of what she is told to, Alice ripped off the bandage over her right eye socket, now throbbing in pain, before her eye regrew. Thanking Kirito for his protection, Alice used her «Enhanced Armament» technique to annihilate around fifty orcs attacking the village and forcing the remaining goblins to retreat.
One week after the attack by the Dark Territory, much of the burnt-down Rulid Village had been reconstructed. Alice once again sealed the cave north of the village before preparing to leave with Kirito, whom she believed might regain his soul while on the battlegrounds to protect the Human Empire, for the «Great East Gate». Alice and Kirito rode on Amayori's back, flying away from Rulid Village towards the east.
Chapter 16 - Ocean Turtle Raid
Amidst the chaos on the Ocean Turtle, inside the sub-control room, Yuuki Asuna intimidated Lieutenant Colonel Seijirou Kikuoka to ensure that Kirigaya Kazuto (Kirito) recovered safely, engulfing the room in silence at Asuna's tenacity. After Koujiro Rinko consoled Asuna, relieving the tension in the room, Lieutenant Nakanishi reported on the several injuries and the damage to the hull.
When Seijirou concluded that sinking the Ocean Turtle was not the intention of the invaders, he prompted Higa Takeru for ideas on their identity. The invaders as they had no markings on their uniforms, thus Takeru could only state that they were not Asian. As the topic changed to their escort ship, the Nagato, Nakanishi reported that their command had judged that the personnel on the Ocean Turtle were taken as hostages, thus the Nagato was ordered to stand ground. Thus, Seijirou deduced that the attackers had contacts within the high-ranking officials that outranked officers from the Self-Defence Forces.
Meanwhile, inside the main control room beyond the pressure-resistant barrier doors sealing the Light Cube Cluster, Gabriel Miller halted a conflict between Vassago Casals and Critter, forcing the team to focus on ideas to reach the cluster. As the team worked on resolving the issue, Gabriel reflected on his plan to steal the light cube of Alice, the first true bottom-up Artificial Intelligence, as well as the Soul Translator technology as commissioned, yet take possession of it for himself while abandoning his team. He would then feign a failure of the operation and secretly construct his own artificial world using the stolen technology. In addition to Alice, Gabriel intended to inhabit the new world with Fluctlights of people such as SAO Survivors, especially the Clearers, due to their exceptional compatibility with virtual worlds.
After a moment of such thoughts, Gabriel enquired on Critter's progress, only to learn that nothing could be done aside from taking a peek into the world. While gazing at a scene of goblins in a scuffle, Vassago proposed entering Underworld to find Alice with the help of the locals. To make the search easier, Critter looked for a usable high-ranking account, yet all the ones in the Human Empire were locked by password. Under Gabriel's proposal, Critter also searched for such accounts in the Dark Territory, thus finding two super accounts: a dark knight and «Emperor Vecta», the former claimed by Vassago and the latter by Gabriel, as both could speak Japanese. At that point, Critter noticed a term called «Final Load Test».
Back in the sub-control room, Higa Takeru informed Asuna of Kazuto's dismal condition but immediately proposed stimulating his Fluctlight from within Underworld as a method of treatment. As Asuna volunteered to log into the Underworld, Takeru and Seijirou explained that Underworld was in an unstable state due to an impending invasion of the Human Empire from the Dark Territory, while the capabilities of the human forces were at question due to the damage the Axiom Church had endured. As Alice was likely still with Kirito, while Asuna had the most experience with virtual worlds of them, Takeru agreed that she would be the best person to send into Underworld.
Moments after Seijirou recommended to give Asuna a high-ranking account to improve her combat ability, Rinko expressed concern about the attackers also considering the option of retrieving Alice from inside the virtual world. Although Takeru was convinced that the attackers only had access to hardly-useful lowest-level accounts, he could not dismiss a sense of unease, as if he had forgotten something for a moment. However, this concern of his vanished from his mind when he spotted something that caught his attention on the account list.
Chapter 17 - Dark Territory
- The direct description on how Subtilizer killed Sinon in the fourth Bullet of Bullets is original to the light novel.
- In the original web version, Gabriel Miller was instructed by the NSA as a lieutenant of the US Army; however, in the printed version, he was instructed by the NSA as a Chief Tactical Officer of Glowgen DS.
- There was no affiliation between Gabriel and Glowgen in the web version.
- In Chapter 15 Part 2, from the point where Alice had a new understanding of her own position to the end of the incident, excluding the part where she used enhance armament/release recollection, are all original in the light novel.
- Tension between the JGSDF and the JMSDF was not mentioned in this volume, though it did mention a conflict between the higher ups within the JSDF, and RATH.
- The order of the different parts and chapters in the volume were rearranged, when compared to the web version.