64 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Chapter 9 up on AO3

  1. And lo: did Vathara once again produce the awesome and so did we all scamper off to read.

    -“I’m not dead. I’m not a ghost.”-
    And in D&D adventuring, those qualifiers and clarifications can come up more often than you think.

    -Something soft brushed her fingers. Startled, she glanced down at her right hand.

    Tip still bloody, a green-black feather curled in her palm. –
    Well almost called it. Suguha wasn’t in tears and did believe what she saw.

    – “Tae Mistfeather says there are so few male swanmay left, the Galifar nations think they’re only women.-
    That’s one way of shoehorning in D&D ‘canon’ into the more realistic setting you’re making.

    -Gwynn had not taken I’m married, go away and stop stalking me well. Agil had had to get help to toss her out of his shop.-
    Wait, Agil the tank/walking mountain needed help getting her out? Either that girl has one heck of a grip or magic was involved. And bird lycan? I’m guessing Cassowary, Emu, Ostrich or a Phorusrhacid/terror Bird if extinct species are an option. Because I have difficulty seeing him as an agility-based flyer.

    -Oh gods. Now I have feathers. Deep breaths, as long as you can’t shapeshift you should be safe….-
    Well as long as you keep a certain blue-feathered friend around you might be. Depends on how well Asuna manages to unconsciously project ‘Mine!’ to all and sundry.

    -“You’re saying Kayaba screwed everyone.” –
    Dragon. They’re good at that.

    -The hari-onna took a step back. “Me? I’m just the elected faction leader, I can’t- this is too big!”-
    Stheno: -Sigh- “It’s almost like looking my past self. Think I said almost those exact same words. Didn’t get me out of this mess and I doubt they’ll work for you either.”

    -“I can tell you I’m asking this guy how we can bring the whole Gutenberg Project, at least. And figure out a way people can portal back and forth.”-
    Do I even wnat to know how that would translate into reality if it passed over?
    Caerulus -with stars in his eyes- “So many new books! MINE! ALL MINE!
    Matteo : “Rabid scholar alert! Get him off of me!”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. *G* Yes, the qualifiers are important!

      There’s also a supplement where swanmays are wereswans and you have both sexes, so.

      (Plus just look at our own world – bird maiden legends get told more than swan knights!)

      Magic was involved, yes. And… terror bird ‘thrope? *Grabs idea, runs off with.* That’s way better than D&D classic eagle…..

      Asuna has her scent all over him. It should work. 😉

      Dragons, indeed.

      I almost see Stheno laughing maniacally. “You cannot escape!” Ahem. Alternating with “Here’s where I keep the willowbark tea, you’ll need it.”

      …I sense a potential ship of dragon/wizard. Oh dear. *Amused*

      Liked by 4 people

      1. – And… terror bird ‘thrope? *Grabs idea, runs off with.* That’s way better than D&D classic eagle-
        Well the terror birds do show up in the Fiend Folio so they’re a legit thing in DnD.

        And as for Agil, the guy uses this massive axe/halberd. Ergo a weapon whose main power comes from you being able to swing it in a wide arc. Doing that while flying around? It could work but your aim will take a massive hit (interia and momentum are a thing) and you might end up hitting your own wings. Meanwhile the terror birds are big, though and pack a massive punch.

        Though the were-eagle bit reminds me of the one race/class combo I always wanted to play but the local DMs wouldn’t let me since it breaks the standard encounters etc: an arakkoa mage or ranged fighter. Yes, that monster is very fearsome but it’s only got a 10 foot reach and the ceiling is 30 feet up. Of course I’m going to fly up and start sniping from beyond it’s reach. What did you think I was going to do, fight fair?

        -“Here’s where I keep the willowbark tea, you’ll need it.” –
        Who knows, maybe this will be the way Euryale starts to (slightly) relax about the new ‘immigrants’. Recognizing another individual who got shoehorned into the hell that is leadership.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. >> Asuna has her scent all over him. It should work. 😉

        I have to wonder if that was part of why Gwynn had so much trouble taking ‘no’ for an answer. Agil didn’t smell like he was in a relationship, in-spite of what he said.

        Still some poor behavior on this Gwynn’s part, but when it can be chalked up to cultural differences/miscommunication rather than personality problems… I generally prefer to assume that to more objectionable traits.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. By the way, how did Lightfall get from SAO to ALO? I thought that was a planar-convergence-only thing — you could have come directly from Aincrad pre-game, but I don’t quite see the opportunity between game start and the time of Chapter 9.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. -Pops up from random internet search-
    Huh, how about that. Apparently somebody stated out the Skull Reaper for both 3.5 and 5e.
    Challenge rating 24?
    -Looks at abilities, AC, damage output, HP-
    Yeah that sounds about right.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Oh, wait, on a reread… he got out when he died while fighting a lycanthropy infection?

    I’m surprised that that didn’t make the news, actually, if he got *out of SAO* that way.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I would imagine that the SAO survivors relatives got told there’s hope, but…

      There is a whole ugly, ugly bunch of stuff happening in the game. And the debriefing is making it clear there’s a lot that’s not being seen by the survivors too(anyone want to take a bet about laughing coffin setting up players to be cursed with that?) I can imagine there’s a lot of trauma going on as well. Plus, given the taskforce is already dealing with a whole bunch of secrecy, shielding traumatized survivors is likely a big part of it.

      That said, ah, Recon is cute and has it so bad. So, so bad, which is a good thing if they do end up in Anicard, because it will be the only thing saving him from Kiroto and their mom.

      Also, awesome parent scene, though I wish we had more. I mainly read the first light novel, but I can always enjoy a bit more mama and papa bear(*blinks* Any hints on what they’ll go for game wise? That could be fascinating.)

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I have notes, I’ll have to re-check what Midori and Minnetaka find interesting. I will say that given what they’re going to hear from Recon, they have a vested interest in making sure they have viable avatars. Just in case.

        (Like hell are they letting their kids get world-snatched alone!)

        Liked by 3 people

      2. This is an alternate earth with a very small amount of hidden magic.

        Haven’t checked through MCO for anything that firmly establishes the death.

        Is there any chance that his martial training could have provided a slight improvement of his saves versus geriatric mortality?

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Oooh, shiny…

    Since this getting up and running again has gotten me looking back into Eberron in general (and while I love my Marvel game, I’ve missed Dungeons & Dragons

    Basically, on a completely unrelated note, would you say a Warlock/Monk could progress in levels of Moonsword, without taking Martial Weapon Proficiency or levels in other classes?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No reason they couldn’t. The main “fighting” qualification is, you have to be able to survive close-in combat. Kirito ended up ranger because that’s what closely matched his canon build of a solo who mixes sneaking around monsters he can’t fight on his own with being tough enough to take most others on his own. (That and his habit of feeding himself on anything he could hunt, that kid would try anything he could toss on a fire….)

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Actually on second read of this… You specify melee combat, so even though Warlock is an ingredient, and Warlocks – outside of the Hideous Blow shape Invocation – are a pretty thoroughly mid-to-long range class, the Moonsword prestige class is specifically a melee combatant class?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I don’t know enough specifics on prestige classes… the idea, though, is “person who treats bitten people and tracks down the ‘thrope responsible to open cans of whoop-ass as needed to convince them Don’t Do This No More.”

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Which is interesting.

        I want to stat out the class and I do have a decent idea how prestige classes work. It doesn’t help that I’m basically constructing two versions of the prestige class either – the 3.5 version for Warlocks and the Pathfinder version for their Warlock-equivalents-because-of-copyright-laws the Kineticist.

        Hilariously the Pathfinder version is actually easier, Kineticists already learn invocation-equivalent abilities that reduce the damage of their energy attacks to treat them more like weapon attacks in combat instead of how the Eldritch Blast works for a Warlock where using it in a fight is more like casting a spell.

        The fact is that mechanics of Dungeons & Dragons mean that while you can play a Martial/Caster it’s extremely difficult to intertwine the two. Most Martial/Casters end up having to decide each round ‘am I attacking like a Martial this round, or am I casting a spell(-like ability)?’

        For Moonswords in particular… Mechanically the simplest option is to not try to combine them and just have the prestige class grant simultaneous but seperate growth to both options. But if Kirito and/or Asuna as Moonswords are supposed to be able to freely intermix their Blasts with their attacks – so pulling things like making Starlight Stream a free intermixing of melee attacks and blasts within a single round of combat – then to build the prestige class properly it needs to allow members to intermix the two options.

        I’m not saying “solve this for me!” or something ridiculous like that, just… thinking aloud and venting.

        Beyond that for what other things Moonswords get…

        A lot of what we’ve seen so far is pretty basic. A little tweak here or there to Detect Magic, a bonus on curing lycanthopy through various methods, so on, so forth. The most unique thing is Lycan’s Shade.

        Given how it works the mechanics for it are… complex, but not difficult to figure. It’s a unique Warlock Invocation that Moonswords only get access to, it’s probably a 5th level ability from the prestige class, it generates its own encounter, no experience is awarded from that encounter to Moonswords or Lycanthrope, if it works the Lycanthrope’s template becomes ‘Natural Lycanthrope’ instead of ‘Infected Lycanthrope’ and it doesn’t change the Lycanthrope’s alignment.

        What bothers me is well… Okay. That’s actually a pretty potent ability, but it doesn’t feel like what you’d expect as the unique 10th level capstone ability from a prestige class. It’s basically a Remove Curse or Remove Disease (whichever) but specifically for Lycanthopy and better. Mechanically, it feels like something a Moonsword only gets halfway through their prestige class progression. Further, I have trouble seeing why the Daelkyr would be so dedicated to wiping out Moonswords if that was the extent of their capabilities. I figure Moonswords have to get… something else, but I’m not certain what.

        For now all I can think is that Moonswords can apply Lycan’s Shade to other forms of warping curses, like the Daelkyr fleshwarping they taught to the Drow to create Driders and other less… consenting, aberrations.

        But just because Moonswords can break Daelkyr toys… doesn’t seem like enough. So I keep wondering: what else can they do?

        The closest I’ve got so far is Tetsutora’s line about moonlight making things real and Moonswords doing the same.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I admit I’m not hewing too close to strict D&D rules while writing. I do think Lycan’s Shade can be applied to other nasty stuff like that, yes.

        If you’re looking for a good way to figure out what might be a capstone, though, my aim was “these were the people the Gatekeeper druids called in for extra firepower when the abominations broke through.” As in they’re not just anti-Daelkyr, they have a grudge with the Quori, too.

        …And dreams are so much more real in the moonlight.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Quick question: when you say ‘extra firepower’ do you mean in the ‘we need more soldiers’ sense or in the ‘call in the heavy artillery’ sense?

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Hmm, Ebberon was apparently designed with a stronger than usual focus on the Mythos out of the stew of cool that became accepted DnD worldbuilding.

        Moon is obviously for the liminal element of the class, the changing, the real and unreal.

        Why is /Sword/ in the name? I cannot help but think it is because swords are for killing. There are many other weapons, that work on beasts and on men. But humans have swords because we need weapons effective against humans. I conclude that the original purpose of training the techniques was not healing, but the killing of some kind of intelligent being.

        Before bed, I was reading Sic Semper Morituri, a crossover of Ranma, Evangelion, and Lovecraft. So I have to save versus simply using that author’s assumptions of how Mythos entities work. Melkor and Sauron in DnD would not necessarily have mechanics that reflect their metaphysical place in Tolkein, the original source material. Aberrations are used when one wants to evoke Lovecraft. Depending on how you pick source material, high end Mythos entities are narratively more powerful than the mechanics which one would use for them in DnD. Simplifying,you run a DnD game for the assumption that they can be killed, you run a Call of Cthulhu with the expectation that the adventurers will die or become insane.

        My conclusion is that MCO is prose fiction, not a game. As such, certain enemies, which MCO has some focus on, are flavored by source material fluff and not just mechanics. Fluffwise, I infer that Moonswords were originally the killers of certain malign or uncaring intelligences, could ‘roll to disbelieve’ while doing so, and alter reality to make it happen. Mechanically, the melee requirement is because of a fluff need for a mindset which has developed the will to close and to slay. Warlocks because fluffwise, they need to be uncanny enough to alter reality and survive close combat. Mechanically this last might come out to Warlock movement options. Level ten ability is probably either the ability to cut down Cthulhu and make it stick, or some way of resisting effects like 1d4 adventurers devoured per turn.

        Storywise, I infer that Beniryuu thinks of Moonswords as healers of lycanthropy and Daelkyr slayers. If their abilities could have been designed to deal with the illusion that is SAO, and to kill him even through his cheating, he has overlooked that. So I expect many answers to be spoilers.

        The SAO players are highest level. So Lightfall’s potential ability to spread the Moonsword class might not be as important to how things go down. But I am curious about Asuna’s base melee class. There ought to be some other high level Moonswords in the clearers. That said, Paladins might also be pretty good against an evil dragon.

        Liked by 2 people

      7. >> Hmm. What base melee class is best as a fencer?

        Amongst the core classes, technically Fighter. If you’re really dedicated to it then you pick up the Duelist prestige class, and that can be taken easily enough by Bards and Rogues as well.

        Between the three, a Bard who goes Duelist is a generalist character who decided to become a bit more focused on melee combat than other Bards at the expense of flexibility. A Rogue/Duelist is a Rogue who decided to give up some of their niftier Rogue tricks (or Rogue Tricks) for increased survivability and damage in front-line melee. Finally a Fighter who goes Duelist is a Fighter who’s fully dedicated themselves to the ‘swishy’ build.

        Between the three the Bard/Duelist is the most flexible – being able to cast and Inspire – the Rogue/Duelist uses their Sneak Attack to be the best DPS, and the Fighter/Duelist is the one that’s best as a frontline combatant and swishy fighter.

        Those of course aren’t the only classes that can take Duelist, but Rangers are unlikely to because it interferes with their Combat Style progression. Paladins might tho’, but I’ve never seen a Paladin/Duelist and I don’t know how the mechanics would work/look.

        If you’re including non-core base classes then there’s probably other options. I don’t know the full list for 3.5, but I don’t doubt The Book of Nine Swords has some options, and I bet some versions of 3.5’s various attempts at ‘Samurai’ could be reflavored as a fencer easily enough. If you’re talking Pathfinder then you’re probably talking about the Swashbuckler class. The Swashbuckler class is meant to simulate from level one the kind of Three Musketeers flourish and sword work most people think of when the name ‘Erol Flynn’ comes up – the class even has a class feature called Panache. Bonus points: it’s got full base attack growth and the same hit die as a Fighter, it’s focus is just on a specific list of unique manuevers and tricks, rather than improving weapon and armor training and getting more feats than you know what to do with.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I was curious and did some poking… By the requirements for it, a pure Warlock character could in fact take Duelist… But not until gaining 8 levels of Warlock. Additionally, based off of what we’ve seen so far, a Warlock who’s taken levels in Duelist – even just a single level – would probably qualify for levels in Moonsword.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. We’re going to remove them. As soon as it’s safe to do so.”

    AND you have that woman standing in front of you’s permission. Kazuto is a minor, you cannot operate him without his parents / guardians permission unless it is a life or death emergency. And those feathers aren’t a life or death emergency.

    Yes, she would have signed forms giving consent to treat. But surgery is a lot other forms.

    Okay, this is Japan and their laws about that stuff might be different but they probably aren’t THAT different. Because anesthesia is dangerous and the thrust of most of surgery forms is you saying that you know and understand that undergoing surgery is not 100% safe.

    Also given that there is magic involved, something the doctors cannot / will not admit to, it might not be that simple.

    Re: Having feathers

    I’m glad Kirito decided to keep the feathers.

    Through I understand how he is NOT looking forward to youkai who are only interested in the feathers.

    “He’s impossible.”

    Your brother is good at that.

    And figure out a way people can portal back and forth.”

    That would be nice, the ability to go back and forth.

    Oh. Oh, that was going to be scary. “…I’ve got to talk to my parents.”

    That should be . . . . interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Meta bit here: You won’t get to see Midori’s POV on this for a while, but her opinion on said proposed treatment is enough already. Until and unless her son says he wants surgery, the feathers can just stay right where they are.

      Partly because canon, the NerveGear works with low-level microwaves, they were never meant to be used for two years straight, and adding anesthesia on top of that to an already traumatized brain is just a Bad Idea, medically speaking.

      Midori is not at all interested in possibly injuring her baby boy just to make other people comfortable.

      Heh. And talking to the parents will indeed be interesting, ’cause Recon is getting dragged into said talk, like it or not. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Midori is not at all interested in possibly injuring her baby boy just to make other people comfortable.


        Poor kid has been hurt enough.

        Besides, given . . . everything . . . I think trying to knock him out, especially when he didn’t agree to be knocked out, would go . . .poorly. Like people would be on-fire and possibly missing their spleen.

        Anyone trying to get him to change his mind . . .
        “They are going to do that I’m the adult and I know best thing and he’s going to feed them their fingers,”

        Just saying that given what happened, Kirito and the other survivors might have some rather justifiable control issues. And body autonomy issues.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. And HOW. That’d be bad enough just from being in a coma for two years. Having your brain and body image played with on top of that? I imagine most players’ reaction to any surgical procedure is going to be along the lines of, “Yeah, no.”

        Liked by 2 people

    2. >> Yes, she would have signed forms giving consent to treat. But surgery is a lot other forms.

      Okay, this is Japan and their laws about that stuff might be different but they probably aren’t THAT different.

      Um. Well…

      Given how we in the states tend to treat the less socially tolerated forms of physical… I don’t want to say disfigurement, but… ‘abnormality’ (quote, unquote), it may not be legal but given Japan culturally tends to have even stricter social and cultural mores about this sort of thing the doctors might be planning to do it anyways.

      They may be thinking of it as a ‘why wouldn’t the survivors want this surgery?’ and further assuming that the survivors are going to remain unconscious long enough after the death game is shut down to give doctors a chance to medically induce comas so they have the time to just… go in there and remove any such mutations, but the legality of those actions may end up a separate issue. Not even necessarily because the doctors are maliciously dodging or working around said issues, but just because ‘of course we should perform this procedure, anyone who says we shouldn’t isn’t thinking clearly and is to be ignored. No point bringing it up to families or asking permission, these people have already been traumatized enough, bringing this… abnormality… to their attention would just make things worse.’

      Arguably, while said mindset may not be intentionally malicious, it may in fact (and I’d probably argue that it does) qualify as worse. The sort of casual and unthinking disregard of another person’s autonomy and right to make their own choices… What’s that line from Carpe Jugulum?

      >> “There’s no greys, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”
      “It’s a lot more complicated than that -”
      “No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”

      Point is, given how recent things like forced sterilization of minorities, chemical castration of gay people, and ‘corrective surgery’ that I’ve heard people compare to genital mutilation of intersex babies shortly after birth…

      No. I don’t have any faith the doctors were planning on leaving whether these particular ‘corrective surgeries’ were or were not happening up to their patients and guardians.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the guardians were only informed if the the patients in question were particularly uncooperative and the doctors made the (hopefully mistaken) assumption that the guardians would go along with it and help them calm their patients down.

      God I hope that’s not the case. But I won’t be surprised if it is.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yeah . . . and there are lot of doctors who have problems with respecting their patient’s wishes, especially when they consider those wishes “harmful.”

        And I’m not talking about stuff that is actually harmful. But some woman, even when it would be better for their health not have any children or not have anymore, have a devil of a time getting their tubes tied. More than one described the doctors as being more concerned about the future wishes of some theoretical husband than that of the patient themselves.

        In MCO verse, doing that kind of stuff without permission . . . the magic involved in the players bodies and related to their transformations will probably make the attempt . . . problematic . . . probably causing the player MORE problems, not less.

        OR we are going to end up with some very injured doctors. Because someone will react violently to either the attempt or the success of such activities.

        Also they will be causing further mental health problems. These people have already had their boundaries and bodily autonomy violated. Violating both AGAIN will not help. They will not trust those doctors. And it’s very hard to treat patients who don’t trust you or your judgement.

        Not saying the doctors there wouldn’t just do it while actually believing they are helping . . . just that it could get very ugly very quickly. And legal trouble might be the least problem springing from the resulting ugliness.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. >> OR we are going to end up with some very injured doctors. Because someone will react violently to either the attempt or the success of such activities.

        I don’t want to link it here, because I know I found the image at least mildly horrifying and I wouldn’t want to inflict that on anyone else, but I’m reminding of a… particularly brutal picture I saw once.

        It was a set of claws that had been surgically removed from a housecat that had been declawed, sitting on a medical sheet, on a white table in a white room. One of those backgrounds meant to deliberately not distract from whatever was the centerpiece of the image. I may be wrong, but I recall the… bits of red at the base of the claws being the only real color in the image.

        My mind specifically brought this up after your comment reminded me of something Issin had said in a previous chapter:

        >> “I wake up in the morning and listen to everything. I keep my claws padded when I wash my face. I don’t even think about it anymore. This is me. If I woke up and I wasn’t furry – I think I’d freak out.”

        Bakeneko claws can be assumed to not function identically to cat claws, because if so part of being a bakeneko would mean losing the last knuckle of your fingers to the joint that lets them extend and retract their claws.

        But I also bet it’s close enough that… declawing would work.

        If you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go fight off nausea now.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Don’t worry, that’s highly unlikely to happen.

        (I really feel for Kikuouka in this fic. He may be bent on some ruthless stuff in general, but I see him and the SAO Taskforce as going to great lengths to make sure the survivors are in one piece.)

        Liked by 1 person

      4. To go along with the women getting their tubes tied:

        I recently asked a gynecologist about getting an IUD, because I do not and never have wanted children, and getting my tubes tied seems like more trouble than it could possibly be worth. The Nurse Practitioner was doubtful about the Doctor would agree to preform the procedure to implant the IUD because I am 30, tiny, and have never had children.

        (I asked why the Doctor would refuse. It was literally because it’s a smaller target, since my cervix have never been stretched by a baby. That was it.)

        The Nurse Practitioner asked me what I would do if the Doctor refused, and seemed taken aback by my immediate response of “Find a Doctor who WILL.”

        Liked by 3 people

      5. Who knows? A surprising number of people don’t recognize doctors are a business and take a “no” from one about a procedure as a “no” for every doctor. This is a case where I was 100% sure no didn’t mean no from everyone, and I wasn’t afraid to say it.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. So. I’m pretty sure I’d mentioned that I intended to reread everything before getting to your new chapters?

    Confession: I didn’t get a chance to do that rereading until the last few days, so I only just a little bit ago finished chapter 9 (and I still need to read 10).

    Big thing from chapter 9 I still need to comment on: Yeah, I’m still mad at Lady Sakuya.

    Her entire ‘then you shouldn’t have told us’ speech… We don’t find out if it was a bluff or not. The topic jumps a bit too quickly right after, between Recon making it clear he doesn’t expect anything out of anyone – just that he hopes Suguha and her brother do choose to come to Real Aincrad – and that Aincrad’s citizens have also died in Sword Art Online.

    Since we don’t find out whether or not that speeh was a bluff, I don’t like what it says if I take her at face value. Because she’s arguing that – for a whole nation, possibly world – of people ‘you’re not my problem, you’re on your own.’

    I agree in consent being of paramount importance, I agree they need to get word out so people are informed enough that they can decide. But that Sakuya only seems open to finding a way to both make certain no one is taken against their will and that Aincrad can get the help it needs after finding out roughly 400 of Aincrad’s own citizens have also died and some 1600 are still trapped in the death game alongside her world’s players? I’m not impressed.

    I don’t hold Lightfall’s similar reaction against him; he was trapped in Sword Art Online and he clearly is still traumatized by what he experienced there.

    But Lady Sakuya doesn’t get that excuse. Saving people of her world… Makes sense as a first priority. But she didn’t even consider doing anything to help people who are desperate for their own survival and were taken advantage of in their desperation and lied to until she found out they’d lost people to the deception too. Just because those people weren’t ‘her people’ doesn’t make them any less deserving of help. Even the harm done and lives lost to their mistakes – mistakes made (again, I repeat) because they were lied to – doesn’t mean they no longer deserve help.

    In that moment Sakuya wasn’t even thinking of it like a zero sum scenario of ‘us or them’ – if she had I would’ve understood choosing her people’s safety over Aincrad’s – she recognized that they hadn’t even examined if there were options to try and save everyone when Lightfall changed his tune shortly after. Instead her words imply that she immediately decided ‘screw you, we’re getting out’.

    People can say what they like about her sticking to her role while panicking, or about her never expecting the position she suddenly ended up in of being one of the people making decisions that effect thousands – possibly millions – of lives. That probably won’t change my opinion.

    I’m not mad at her for panicking. I’m disappointed in her first choice being to abandon people to what she knows is likely genocide.


    1. Again, I disagree.

      This problem Sakuya faces is in the realm of foreign policy. College students rarely prepare themselves to the level of making good for real foreign policy decisions. If she was the type to commit herself to the spending of blood and treasure in service of a foreign policy just then, without preparation, she would be the type of person who gets a lot of people killed unnecessarily. She needs to know herself, and to know Aincrad as best as she can.

      If tapdancing on whether the ALO players can escape buys her the psychological space she needs, good for her.

      More OOCly… I don’ t believe that ALO will simply be shut down. I don’t believe Vathara would use the narrative space to develop Sakuya if she wasn’t going to be used later to portray what does happen with ALO. If Sakuya leaves a skeptic, and shows up invested in the plan, that will leave me more confident in the second, third, fourth order effects of that plan. The diseases of 2020s Japanese college students are not necessarily that different from those of 2010s American college students. If a college student without any development as a character shows up in a senior leadership position, it raises the question of whether post MCO Ebberon is going to reinvent the killing fields of Cambodia. That concern will be laid to rest. The information provided in that objection of hers lays a lot of concerns about her personality and long term outcomes to rest.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can tell you in this AU Sakuya spends the intervening time jump having a lot of discussions and – heh – gaming out various scenarios with Matteo, the SAO Taskforce, and anyone she thinks might have a reasonably decent idea about the whole situation. Because ack.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. *Blinks* Um. I’d have to say my first reaction to “an alien nation’s fate depends on you!!!” when I was playing a game would be “back away from the crazy person verrrrry slowly”.

      And if I were provided sufficient evidence that This Game Is Suddenly Real, my next reaction would be stall. Stall like a mad fiend, to get as much time as possible to figure out what the heck’s going on, because any conflict situation is never EVER as simple as people say it is.

      Not to mention if Sakuya has a good grounding in history, her examples of “we have to invade to save people from themselves!” include Korea (1592-1598 and 1910-1945 being striking examples) and China.

      Go ahead and Wiki the Rape of Nanking. But I advise you not to eat first.


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