Inside a hospital room wrapped in the scent of flowers...
The floral scent completely mitigated the industrial-grade sanitizers used on the rooms here. It looked like a hotel room more than a patient's ward.
There's a partition between the interior of the room and the entrance. A bed was situated beyond the partition. On a bed lit up by the gentle rays of the sun, a stunning girl laid there with her eyes closed.
Her chestnut-brown hair was as smooth as flowing water, her skin was porcelain white with an alluring sheen to her skin. Although she looked a bit malnourished, she didn't give off a pathetic vibe, rather, she looked like a damsel in distress. Her cheeks were also rosy red with a slight flush.
A sleeping beauty.
That would be an apt phrase to describe her.
However, almost two-thirds of her head was marred by an icy cold contraption that destroyed this scenic scene.
Nervegear, the revolutionary full-dive (immersion) VR tool that was the main tool behind the imprisonment of this poor girl's soul and some other 6,000 players.
3 starlight LED indicators on the Nervegear signalled to everyone that this machine is still in operation. This meant the girl is still trapped somewhere in the virtual realm, her location is unknown but she's still alive, that's for sure.
When the LED dies down, that would mean the girl would have gone into eternal rest, never to return from her virtual realm...
"Tell me, is there any sign of her waking up?..."
Two guys in suit stood by the patient's bed. The older male had a very upset look. He turned towards the third male in the room. A doctor in white coat. His tone might be subdued but he couldn't hide the anxiety in his voice.
The doctor sighed and he lowered his head.
"It's been 3 hours since other players woke up. We placed a staff on duty to watch for any signs of consciousness, however..."
The middle-aged guy turned anxious.
"Why? The other players already woke up! Why is Asuna still like this?..."
"It's not just Asuna-ojou..."
The doctor tried to defend himself.
"Asuna, and 300 other players around the country are still stuck like this!"
The middle-aged man said with a grave tone.
"The cause? Have you found it yet?..."
The doctor helplessly replied.
"We can only say she's still alive, we don't think it's likely anything will happen to her for now..."
The LED light is still on so barring exceptional circumstances, the Nervegear will continue operating. For all its notoriety, the Nervegear is built like a brick outhouse, hardware failure is nigh 0 in terms of probability.
As long as the Nervegear stays on Asuna's head, the girl named Yuuki Asuna will continue living in this state.
Frustrated, he decided to accept reality as he waved his hand.
"Okay, I will place my daughter's care in your hands..."
"Please, I am just doing my job."
The doctor left the two males to their own devices. The middle-aged male, Asuna's father, Yuuki Shouzou, his adopted son, Sugou Nobuyuki stayed by the bed without speaking.
Sugou spoke up first.
"About that matter, do I have your blessings?..."
Shouzou lowered his head, this isn't the first time Sugou talked about marrying Asuna.
"Are you sure about this? Asuna may be stuck in this state forever, if you married her..."
Yes, Sugou wanted to tie the knot with Asuna.
He's not protesting this union because Sugou is an exemplary talent of a young man, he started RECT inc, a research institution playing a major role in virtual reality games as a very capable manager.
Shouzou took Sugou in as an adopted son so he's very aware of his accomplishment. In his opinion, Shouzou is qualified enough to marry his daughter.
He didn't think Sugou would stay on course despite the tragedy that has fallen upon her beloved daughter.
Sugou pushed up his glasses, covering up the sly glint within his eyes. Shouzou missed this yellow flag...
"No matter what becomes of Asuna, I will not change my mind!"
Shouzou said nothing. He looked at Sugou with more respect.
"Alright, no objections from my side then..."
Shouzou continued without hesitation.
"Your relationship with Asuna is okay with me!"
Sugou's eyes lit up and he bowed respectfully towards Shouzou.
"Thank you very much for your generosity!"
"No, on the contrary, I should say sorry..."
Shouzou shook his head.
"Asuna is as she is, but you, you didn't abandon her and you expressed your willingness to take care of her for the rest of her life. That resolve is worthy of my thanks, not just my apologies..."
"No no no, don't say it like that!"
Sugou used a very modest and frightful look.
"Yuuki Asuna is so beautiful, who in their right minds would abandon a girl like her?..."
Sugou chuckled too. Then, he lowered his head, his expression twisted in a very ugly manner. This ugly look was a stark contrast to his goody two shoes look from before.
Don't be fool by this prick's kind and amiable attitude. He's a possessive, overly ambitious and sadistic individual on the inside.
Shouzou was blinded by his stellar outwards appearance and behavior. He's not aware that the true culprit behind Asuna's state is due to this perverted bastard.
Sugou was a student at the same school as Kayaba Akihiko, they shared a lab for quite some time.
This is the mastermind behind the imprisonment of 300 or so players who were released from SAO but intercepted by Sugou through his hacking of SAO's servers. He imprisoned them so he can test out his vile theories of human emotion and memories manipulation. His research is completely and utterly reprehensible, unethical, and illegal!
He attempted human experimentation like a mad scientist.
Shouzou is woefully unaware of this. He locked Asuna up in a virtual realm so he can sidestep her consent and marry her while she's stuck in a comatose state. Yuuki Asuna would never marry a weirdo as horrid and disturbed as Sugou.
Shouzou's assessment and judgment of people is tragically flawed...