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Alicization Awakening (アリシゼーション・アウェイクニング, Arishizēshon Aueikingu?) is the 17th book in the Sword Art Online light novel series, published on April 9, 2016. It is the third volume in the War of the Underworld sub-arc of the Alicization arc.
Chapter 20 - Each of their Battles
Kirito's friends: Agil, Klein, Lisbeth and Silica, gathered at the World Tree in ALfheim Online (ALO) along with three thousand other virtual reality game players from ALO or converted from other games. Lisbeth gave a speech and attempted to persuade the crowd to convert their accounts to Underworld to help its residents defend against the incoming foreign players. However, the crowd was discouraged when they discovered that Underworld did not have a Pain Absorber and that their avatars might be lost if they died there. Despite facing hostility from the players, Lisbeth continued her speech.
In Underworld, Asuna and the Integrity Knights continued cutting the ropes that bridged the ravine that Asuna created with her Stacia super account. As they were about to cut the sixth rope, thousands of red light beams streaked down from the sky. While both the Human Empire and the Dark Territory armies watched in amazement, approximately thirty thousand warriors clad in crimson armor began to form. Asuna realized that the soldiers were Americans when they began to yell in English while attacking the Fist Fighters, who were supposed to be their allies. As the situation grew worse, Asuna was approached by Iskahn, who proposed a deal to her. In return for creating a bridge across the ravine to allow the Fist Fighter forces to regroup, the Fist Fighters began repelling the crimson army.
In the fray of the battle, Alice Synthesis Thirty went ahead of the rest of the Human Decoy Army, rendering her vulnerable. Atop a black dragon, Vecta, the avatar of Gabriel Miller, snatched Alice and rendered her unconscious with his Incarnation power. Bercouli Synthesis One took Alice's dragon Ayamori, the deceased Eldrie Synthesis Thirty-one's dragon Takiguri, as well as his own dragon Hoshigami in pursuit of Gabriel and Alice. The Human Decoy Army began to move south after Bercouli and Vecta, while the Fist Fighters and Integrity Knight Scheta Synthesis Twelve remained to occupy the attention of the Americans.
Meanwhile in the real world, Vassago Casals awoke in the main control room of the Ocean Turtle and found that the Fluctlight Acceleration (FLA) had been disabled. He thus decided to dive back into Underworld through the use of his old Sword Art Online avatar.
At Kirito's wagon in Underworld, Asuna healed herself while talking to Ronye and Tiese about Kirito. After the preparations were complete, Integrity Knight Renly Synthesis Twenty-seven ordered the decoy squad, reduced to seven hundred, to head south to rescue Alice. However, the squad soon stopped, as thousands of red columns of light rained down from the sky and transformed into players clad in red armor. As Renly prepared to sacrifice himself to open a path for the Human Empire decoy force, a blue light shone through the clouds and there the figure of Sinon, logged in with the Solus super account, appeared. Using the power of her «Annihilate Ray» long bow, she slaughtered much of the enemy army. Solus also had the power of unlimited flight, thus Sinon flew down to where Asuna was waiting. After greeting Kirito, Sinon was sent by Asuna to fly in pursuit of Alice. The Human Empire decoy force continued south through a detour, with the second wave of the crimson army chasing from the north. On her way south, Sinon wondered where Leafa was, since they both dived in at the same time.
In the wilderness on the other side of the Great Eastern Gate, Orc Chief Rirupirin spent a long time to find an earring that belonged to his childhood friend Renju. As he pondered on what meaning the death of thousands of his tribesmen had, Leafa appeared right behind him, logged in with the Terraria super account. He was about to draw his sword to kill her, but feeling the influence of Renju, he stopped. To his shock, Leafa spoke to him like a person rather than showing revulsion, scorn or fear. She then allowed him to bind her hands and take her to Vecta as a prisoner, but as they began walking, a black haze, along with the supposedly dead Dark Sorceresses' Guild leader D.I.L., appeared.
Meanwhile, after more than two hours of pursuit, Bercouli Synthesis One fell into despair as he could not close the distance between him and Vecta, despite alternating between three dragons. Thus, he decided to use his Time Piercing Sword's Release Recollection Art, «Arcane Slash», to sever the left wing of Vecta's black dragon far ahead.
In the meantime, D.I.L. transformed the fingers on her left hand into long, worm-like creatures, stabbed them into Leafa and began absorbing her Life. As Leafa's Life continued to be depleted, the ground below her began to glow green and sprout with plant life and Leafa's Life was completely recovered due to Terraria's unlimited healing abilities. Shrieking in surprise, D.I.L. transformed the fingers on her right hand into the worm-like creatures as well and began draining more of Leafa's Life. Rirupirin tried to stop D.I.L. by attacking her with his own sword, but as he was doing so, an enormous pain erupted in his right eye and it ruptured. At the same time, drew and swung his blade at D.I.L., but due to perception errors stemming from the loss of his right eye, he was not even able to graze her. D.I.L. turned to him in fury, and, after flinging Leafa behind her and transforming her fingers into black blades, swung down. But, at that moment, D.I.L.'s arms fell to the ground as Leafa severed them with her sword from behind. Claiming that she was vanquishing evil to save another person, Leafa severed D.I.L. in half.
As his dragon's Life diminished, Vecta decided to kill the Integrity Knight chasing him, take control of one of his dragons, and continue flying south. While waiting, he wondered whether to incarcerate Alice or not, but made the decision not to do so. Unbeknownst to him, the Vecta super account had the power to tamper with Fluctlights, which, coupled with his Incarnation, robbed her of her dynamism and put her into a forced sleep.
In the mean time, Asuna and the Human Empire decoy force managed to gain some distance from the crimson army, but it was impossible for them to continue running indefinitely. Finally reaching the ruins that Sinon had informed them about, the squad decided to confront the crimson army at this location. As the battle began, one man watched from the sidelines. The man, Vassago Casals, was clad in a black raincoat-like poncho. As he watched Asuna fiercely killing the American players, he recalled watching her fight in Sword Art Online and his vow to kill her and the swordsman in black who fought even more fiercely by her side.
Meanwhile, as Bercouli drew near Vecta's crash site, he leapt off the dragon and swung his sword at Vecta as he fell. However, Vecta easily avoided the attack, and thus Bercouli was forced to follow up with another attack, but Vecta caught the blade by clapping his hands over the sword with his back turned.
Back in the ruins, Asuna stood in the middle of the road, defending. Renly on her right was faring well in the battle but the guardians on her left were slowly being pressured to retreat. After she ordered healers to prioritize the left flank, the Americans organized twenty lancers to charge at the Human Empire decoy force. Most were successfully blocked, but a few of the guardians were skewered. In order to protect a fallen guardian, Asuna allowed herself to be pierced by a lance.
In the meantime, after receiving several attacks from Vecta, Bercouli crossed swords with him and began pressing down on Vecta's sword with his own Time Piercing Sword, which pierced Vecta's shoulder. However, at that moment, Vecta's sword emitted an ominous glow, which withered the gleam of Bercouli's sword and caused his consciousness to corrode. After Bercouli retreated, Vecta shot a beam of dark blue light that, upon touching Bercouli's chest, made his consciousness fade. While Bercouli was stuck in this state, Vecta severed his left arm.
In the ruins, Asuna struggled not to scream from the pain of being pierced with a lance. After removing it from her body, she quickly dispatched the shocked American player by piercing his heart with her rapier. At that point, she found another Guardian in danger and used «Flashing Penetrator» to save him from a lancer, dispatching three others in the process. Seeing a third wave of twenty lancers having formed at that moment, Asuna summoned Renly to the middle. Before sprinting towards the enemy, she requested him to handle the lancers that managed to breach her defence.
Meanwhile, Bercouli stumbled as he stepped on his left arm in confusion. After widening the distance between Vecta and himself, Bercouli stopped the flow of blood with non-verbal Sacred Arts, while pondering on how to defeat his enemy. As his Armament Full Control Art was useless against Vecta, Bercouli considered resorting to his sword's Release Recollection Art, «Arcane Slash», which had two harsh requirements to use. Realising his impasse, Bercouli glanced at Alice. For a moment, Bercouli regretted not being able to grant Alice fatherly love, but resolving himself that parents die protecting their children, he sprang at Vecta once more.
In the meantime, Asuna had successfully repelled the third and fourth waves of lancers, but not without consequence. Her clothes were ripped and stained with her blood and that of her enemies. Even though she had a gaping hole in her, the enormous amount of Life she had did not allow her to fall. Exhausted, she lifted her rapier when the fifth wave appeared in her vision. As the lancers began their charge, Asuna saw the formation of a string of digital code that was blue, rather than crimson this time. The line of code began to turn into a human figure about ten meters above the ground and started to spin like a tornado. The dubstruck lancers were ripped to shreds as they gazed at the sight. As the tornado, caused by «Tsumujiguruma», a Sword Skill Asuna had seen before, slowed to a stop, a human figure that Asuna identified as Klein appeared. At that moment, thousands of additional blue strings of code began raining down from the sky.
To the south of this battlefield, Vecta's cut jolted Bercouli awake when his consciousness started to fade for the umpteenth time. Though Vecta had not dealt any fatal blow, Bercouli's Life was quickly being expended due to blood loss. Bercouli, however, was focusing only on one thing throughout the fight - unconsciously counting time. When Vecta decided to finish the battle, Bercouli began to act demented while he looked for Vecta's deepest footprint - the place he had been standing when he severed Bercouli's left arm ten minutes before. As Bercouli's count approached six hundred seconds, he swung his final slash with his sword's Release Recollection Art, which could cut anything that would have been in its path exactly ten minutes ago by interfering with the system's logs.
However, before Bercouli could execute his attack, Vecta sensed that he was plotting something and attacked him, forced Bercouli to evade and thus making him miss his opportunity. Although Bercouli successfully dodged the first four attacks, the fifth one grazed him, causing his consciousness to dim and giving Vecta the opportunity to pierce him. As Bercouli fell backwards, his dragon Hoshigami suddenly attempted to attack Vecta. Although the dragon was easily killed in only seven seconds, Vecta's momentary hesitation gave Bercouli another chance to execute his attack. As the Recollection attack could completely erase the Life of the target due to interfering with the system, Vecta's astronomical Life was set to zero, while his body was completely split and exploded in a ball of black light without heat. At the same time, Bercouli's Time Piercing Sword crumbled and broke as its Life was utterly depleted.
Awakening from her slumber, Alice felt her head supported on Bercouli's knees. As she felt a hand caressing her hair, she looked up and saw the figure of the middle-aged swordsman. To her shock, Alice noticed the numerous grave injuries on his body and thus understood that his Life had been depleted. After the deceased Bercouli comforted her from the beyond, he saw an image of the Highest Minister Administrator and his dragon, Hoshigami, formed from his memory. After Bercouli leapt onto Hoshigami and helped Administrator onto the dragon, the three departed.
Meanwhile, under the distant northern sky, the main Human Empire army and the Dark Territory were in a standoff. Integrity Knight Fanatio Synthesis Two stood at the ruins of the Great Eastern Gate and, just when she closed her eyes, praying to the three goddesses for the safe return of the troops, she heard Bercouli's voice repeating the last words he had uttered to her before departing. Upon realizing that he had predicted his death and was now dead, she began sobbing. Bercouli had avoided intimate relationships for more than a hundred years as he feared that either they as Integrity Knights would surpass the child's lifespan, or the child would be forced to endure the same process as their parents, but after Administrator's death, he finally accepted Fanatio's feelings. Recalling that Bercouli decided to protect their child and let him live till the end of his time, Fanatio swore to raise the child properly.
Immediately after Klein assaulted the crimson army, Agil appeared in front of Asuna and, after showing Asuna a grin, followed Klein's example. Subsequently, Lisbeth and Silica landed in front of Asuna and the two joined hands with her, while numerous Japanese players continued to descend to the ruins. To her shock, Asuna deduced that the players were using accounts converted from other games, as their equipment was superior to the one's used by default Guardian accounts. After Asuna learnt that Yui was responsible for gathering the reinforcements, Renly approached them and enquired who the new visitors were, thus Asuna explained to him and the others that they were her friends from the real world that had come to help them. At the end of their conversation, Asuna ordered Lisbeth and Silica to take two hundred players to form a support team, and requested Renly and the Guardians to merge with the ascetics to focus on healing, while she herself fought at the front line. There, she noticed that several leaders of the fairy races of ALfheim Online, the members of the Sleeping Knights, and even players from Gun Gale Online had come to help. Thus, she steeled her resolve and, determined to minimise casualties and agony of pain felt by the Japanese players, fought at the foremost line.
Meanwhile, a Japanese player named Hirono Takashi, who had decided to come to Underworld with his avatar Velios due to trusting his instincts, began to question his decision. What awaited him after entering the world was a hulking man in crimson armour wielding a halberd. Although Velios attempted to retreat, the tip of the halberd still managed to cut his shin, causing him intense pain. Velios managed to repel further attacks and was taken to the rear for healing. Just as he felt like quitting, he began gazing at the girl healing him. Watching her at work, he became overwhelmed by emotion and unconsciously hugged the girl when she was done. After the girl comforted him, Velios asked her for her name and learnt that she was Frenica Szeski. Giving her his real name, he asked if they could meet after the war and she declared that they would. With that answer, Takashi returned to the front lines, determined to fight bravely till the end.
Chapter 21 - Awakening
With two thousand player accounts now converted through The Seed and deployed into Underworld to fight against the army of American players, Higa Takeru glanced at the graph showing the activity of Kazuto's Fluctlight. To his surprise, the technician noticed two large spikes in the Fluctlight's activity log, which corresponded to Asuna's and Sinon's login times respectively. Through a discussion with Rinko, Takeru realized that people with strong ties to Kazuto effectively held a backup copy of his self-image in their own Fluctlights, which could be used to treat him. However, this procedure required access to the main control room beyond the pressure partition that protected them from the assailants, and had to be completed before the Nagato ship stormed the site, as Kazuto would likely be unable to reconnect to his Soul Translator (STL) in his state if he were to be disconnected during the battle.
Thus, Takeru volunteered to sneak into a cable duct that connected Kazuto's STL room with the main control room to execute the procedure without going to the control room itself. As the cable duct was still located beyond the pressure partition, meaning that the lock would need to be temporarily disabled to access it, the man decided to use Ichiemom to distract the invaders. Just as Takeru was about to leave the sub control room for the cable duct, another technician named Yanai volunteered to accompany him.
- The character Moonphase, and the perspective of the Korean players, is original to the light novel.