So, I kinda ran out of easy stuff to do, and figured that I should try my hand at a more major project. Unfortunately, all that was left was this 472 page long book... and I thought that Kawahara liked oversizing his novels...
Anyway, Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online I -Squad Jam- (from now on, referred to as just Gun Gale Online or Squad Jam) is the first volume of an official spin-off, written by the gun supervisor of the Sword Art Online II anime, Sigsawa Keiichi (the author of Kino's Journey) and illustrated by Kuroboshi Kouhaku. As its name implies, this novel is set in Gun Gale Online, which wasn't explored much in Kawahara Reki's novels. And this series also features an entirely new cast (i.e. if you're here for some Kirito and Asuna, this series is probably not meant for you), though I have heard that someone from the main light novel series will make his appearance at the end of the book.
As for the synopsis.... since I can't really say much about it yet (and I'm lazy to make one), here's a translation of the preview:
A 183 cm tall female college student, Kohiruimaki Karen, has a complex about her tall figure and has a poor social disposition because of it. This was changed by the VRMMO game «Gun Gale Online» (GGO). In the game, Karen obtained a dream "chibi" avatar much less 150cm in height, put on a full-body pink uniform and, as the player "LLENN", had fun in the world of GGO. A beautiful player "Pitohui" appeared before LLENN. She was a rare female player in GGO and so the two hit off well――but one day, LLENN was asked to take part in a team battle royale formal tournament «Squad Jam» by Pitohui......
Now, a disclaimer. Since the book is awfully long and it could be licensed at any time, I don't guarantee that I will continue with the project until the very end. I.e. if the book gets licensed, or I get overly annoyed with the author's style (his style is a pain to translate at times) or with the length of the book, I may drop the project. So, for the time being, please think of this project as a teaser, until I make sufficient progress with the translation.
Finally, the book has around 14 chapters (+ prologue) that are around the same size +/- several pages (the prologue is around half the usual size), so I will release updates in chapters. As for the interval of the updates... it will greatly depend on both Pryun's free time, and mine. Though I will try to stay ahead of him to reduce the factors influencing update frequency.
Italic text is Engrish (English written in katakana).
Feel free to point out any errors, give suggestions or just talk about the story itself in the comments.
Prologue“Oh right, LLENN-chan.”
“What iis it? Pito-san?”
“Have you read the newsletter about the opening of a tournament called ≪Squad Jam≫? It came this morning.”
“Uwa! Don’t imagine weird stuff!”
“But, it’s like ika no shiokara(1), so to speak…… isn’t it?”
“Well……, yeah. Maybe.”
”I really like it! So, let’s go eat a steamy hot meal together!”
“I’ll have some snacks that go with sake. If I had to pick, I’d prefer shuto(2).”
“Shuto is good! Now I want to steal it from you!”
“Hey you……, if memory serves me right, you’re a minor in the real world, right?”
“Of course I don’t drink sake. But, I do like the snacks. Whenever my dad and big brothers drink sake, I always turn up.”
“I see…… You have several big brothers, huh. You’re exposing your RL details again, LLENN-chan.”
“Well, you don’t have to worry about me, but you have to be careful with what you say. Especially when you’re a girl like us. There are plenty of guys obsessed with collecting tidbits, sometimes tricking someone into giving away personal information, then deducing their RL identity by making use of a net search engine.”
“I’ll be careful…… Thank you.”
“And here you go with keigo again(3)! You don’t need them! In this world, everyone is the same! Stop it! Time to stop! Stop!
“Good. ― Hey, we were supposed to be talking about a game tournament! What’s worse, did we, two girls, really need to talk about ika no shiokara? And what’s even worse, in a virtual online game!”
“And what’s even more worse, in a desert while carrying guns.”
“That really is strange, huh.”
There were two girls in a desert of rocks and sand.
It was a world where the sky was covered by yellow, heavy clouds to such an extent that the sun could not be seen. There was no wind, so there was no movement, but a dully shining, distant thunder made an ominous roar.
The ground consisted of light brown sand, stones of various sizes that were becoming sand and rocks that continued to make those stones. Whichever way one looked, groups of skyscrapers turned to ruins and diagonally inclined could be seen standing in a line.
The two were sitting in a horizontal line with their legs stretched out in the shade of rocks that were the size of automobiles, in a place where no other word was more appropriate to describe it than the word "savage".
"So……, what is that "Sq――something"?"
"That's a good question!"
"No no, that's what you were telling me about earlier."
"Oh did I? I don't remember."
"Yare yare(4), are you an obaa-san IRL, Pito-san?"
As if they were in a weekend family restaurant, they continued their noisy, friendly chat. But at that place, there was no one to complain no matter how loud their conversation got.
One of the two among them,
"No, it's not like I'm hiding anything, well ――, I am hiding my RL age, but I'm not that old, okay? Of course, I'm not a minor nor pichipichi(5) like you, LLENN-chan."
"Pito-san…… "Pichipichi" is already an obsolete word, isn't it? At least, there's no one who would use it in university."
"Aha, LLENN-chan, you are currently a student! I thought so before, but now I'm sure of it! Another thing confirmed!"
Rather than being a woman, the person called “LLENN-chan” a while ago was a young gir… a child older than a young girl.
A child entirely in pink.
Although it was pink, it wasn’t the lovely “peach-pink”, but rather a dusky-pink, mixed with light brown to tone down the brightness.
She had a slender, much less than 150 cm tall body. The slightly rounded face had big pupils lined up and reduced the age of her appearance even more.
Her hair was a somewhat dark-tawny, boyish short cut. On top, she wore a knit cap.
Pink was the colour of her garments. From top to bottom, she was dressed in a common combat uniform. Namely, trousers that resembled cargo pants and a long-sleeved combat shirt. Long and narrow pouches were equipped on both sides of her thighs. As for her feet, she wore high laced short boots.
“Really, you have to be careful. Don’t you get it?”
“Pito-san, you’re just too good of a smooth talker! You, swindler!”
“Wha? I’m not praising you, y'know?”
“I see. Maybe, start doing it?”
“Yeah. I don’t plan to do that either, y’know?”
“Huh, I’m the “type that improves upon praise” though.”
“Pito-saan, that’s not a line that you should say yourself, is it?”
The other person, the one called “Pito-san” a while back, was a tough woman clad in black.
She was much older, and she looked like she was in her late twenties.
She had brown skin and a slender face with sharp features. Although she was a beautiful woman, the brick-coloured, geometric-figured tattoo turning and extending from her cheeks to the nape of her neck created a ‘hard to approach’ atmosphere.
She was tall, her height easily exceeding 175 cm. Her black hair was casually tied into ponytails at a high position.
Her garments appeared to be mostly black with dark blue patches.
Although the sharp lines of her body were clear, her figure entirely disregarded feminine charm. Thanks to her brawn, anyone seeing her sharp silhouette would agree that she was more like an android than human.
She wore black boots. A military equipment belt, with a long magazine pouch attached from her sides to her back, was wrapped around her waist
And so, there was “a thing” that they had in common.
The gun that the pink girl held was a ≪P90≫, produced by a Belgian company named FN Herstal (FN). It was around 50 cm long. It was an atypical weapon that had a hard-to-distinguish grip, looking like it was a rectangular box, which had a part of it carved out to form a hole.
The magazine was made out of clear plastic and had visible bullets attached atop the centre of the gun. It contained 50 bullets each. Excluding machine guns, it was a magazine with the largest capacity.
The P90, just like her clothes, was painted in darkened pink. Coupled with its atypical appearance, at a glance the gun looked as if it was a toy. Holding it with her small body, she even looked like a child who received a Christmas present with flashy wrapping paper.
As for the other one, an assault rifle――in other words, a military-use automatic rifle, leaning on a rock, was placed next to the black beauty.
It was one of the most famous guns in the world, the Russian-made ≪AK-47≫. The gun was equipped with a curved magazine that could fire 30 7.62x39 mm bullets.
“At any rate, praising others is the basis of popularity techniques, LLENN-chan.”
“I-it’s not like I want to be popular!”
“Eh, you don’t want a girlfriend?”
“No I don’t. Since I am a girl.”
"You shouldn’t worry about minor details like whether your partner is a man or a woman."
“That’s the most important thing in my opinion.”
Just as it seemed that the noisy chatter between the black beauty and the pink girl would continue ad infinitum―― a muffled sound of an explosion erupted in this world.
As soon as they felt the vibrations of the ground, the two stopped their idle talk, shouting:
“The trap sprung” “The trap sprung”
They then quickly stood up. The black beauty seized her AK-47 and the pink girl released the P90 that she held.
“Let’s get him!” “Let’s get him!”
Once again, the two cheerfully sputtered such boisterous remarks in unison, then split left and right and jumped out of the shade of the rock that they were hiding behind.
At the sand plains about 50 metres away, the cloud of sand that soared up due to the explosion of a bomb, which was set up underground, was settling down. As there was no wind, it was clearing up slowly.
Inside the cloud, their opponent that got caught in the trap――a monster, which was a giant earthworm that was 40 cm wide with an overall length of around 5 metres, was raging and writhing by striking the ground as a red light gleamed from various parts of its body.
“I’ll support you! Unleash all of your bullets at it!
The black beauty who ran 10 metres stopped as she gave her instructions, then pressed her AK-47 to her right shoulder and set up to fire.
The pink girl at once hastened the speed of her run.
The AK-47 roared. The gunshots made the air vibrate.
The 7.62x39 mm bullets unleashed in rhythmical semi-auto were absorbed by the giant raging earthworm.
Empty, dull green shells that were forced out of the gun’s right side fell onto the sand and bounced back slightly――and then the shells became small grains of light and dispersed, disappearing from this world.
At a speed that matched that of the bullets soaring right next to her,
With her P90 set to her right shoulder and her body inclined forward, the girl rushed forward with her small body. And then discharged in full auto.
The consecutive, drum roll-like gunshots joined the rhythmic beats of the AK-47.
5.7x28 mm bullets were launched out of the P90’s muzzle and they made successive holes in the giant earthworm's body.
With its body riddled with bullets, the giant earthworm opened its mouth in a such a way that it looked like its head had split in two. And then, it gave an ominous roar.
“Tail attack incoming!”, the black beauty stopped discharging her AK-47 and shouted.
“Roger!”, the pink girl shouted in return, but even so, she continued charging. Her left hand released the P90, extended to the pouch on her left thigh, went inside it and grabbed a new magazine.
The giant earthworm made a grand undulating motion, faced the pink girl who was closing in and waved its tail like a whip.
The pink girl jumped, kicking up sand with her feet. She flew until she reached a sufficient height of 2 metres.
Above the space that the giant earthworm’s tail had cut through, the pink girl exchanged her magazines. She bravely threw away the magazine with 8 bullets remaining and, with a machine-like speed, loaded in a new one.
And so, just as she easily landed on the sandy soil, she faced the giant earthworm at point-blank range, and while turning the muzzle of her P90 left and right, as if she was sweeping with a broom, she unleashed the rapid fire of her full auto on the worm without mercy.
3 seconds later, more holes were opened throughout the monster earthworm’s body, with red light gushing out of them, and――
It turned in small fragments of light and was eliminated without a trace.
“Hmm, when we were in the middle of setting up for an ambush…… what were we talking about?”
The black beauty asked. The pink girl answered with an amazed expression.
“Something about squids and tournaments, right? Pito-san, you start saying something and then forget what you were saying shortly after.”
Under the muddled and ominously wriggling sky, the two used their slings to put their respective weapons onto their shoulders, and leisurely walked through the desert. If the danger of the savage environment was overlooked, the scene would look just like a casual stroll of a parent and child.
“Oh right right. But should I remember that you, LLENN-chan, have elder brothers and are a female college student?”
“Yeah, forget that. ――So, what about squids?”, asked the pink girl as they continued their stroll through the desert.
“Ika is squid. While I used―― squad. Understand? LLENN-chan, are you a rikei(6)? Which course?”
“Huh? Mine is……, well, it’s fine.”
“Oh, you didn’t fall for it. You’ve learnt well, huh. Onee-san is glad.”
“Returning to the topic, what’s a squad?”
“In English, it means “a group” or “a team”. Speaking about the army, there are subdivisions like companies or platoons, right? A squad is the smallest unit. It seems to be formed from around ten people.”
“Hmmm…… And what about jam?”
“It’s spelled as J, A, M, and although it may mean the thing that you use on pastries, it originally meant “tightly crowded”. If I said that ‘traffic jam’ means ‘traffic congestion’, you should understand it.”
“Yeah, I understand. A jam is also when poor operation of a gun causes empty shells and bullets to block it, right?”
“Yep. Maybe I should have said that first.”
“And so……, “squads jumbled together”?”
“That’s right. In other words――”
“In other words?”
“A Squad Jam is a battle royale kind of tournament in ≪Gun Gale Online≫ that pits small teams against each other.”
1. ^ Ika is Japanese for “squid” while “shiokara” is a food in Japanese cuisine made from various marine animals that consists of small pieces of meat in a brown viscous paste of the animal's heavily salted, fermented viscera (internal organs).
2. ^ Another Japanese seafood dish. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuto
3. ^ Keigo (敬語) is Japanese for "honorific speech". This can mean anything from turning all verbs to the polite (masu) form or using the copula です (desu) to special words etc. In this case, LLENN added “gozaimasu” to her thanks. In most other cases, she uses the masu form of the verbs instead of the plain form and this irritated Pitohui.
4. ^ Yare yare is a Japanese exclamation of relief or disappointment.
5. ^ A word that means “youthful, energetic” etc. and I didn’t know of a word in English that would mean the same and would feel out-dated.
6. ^ In Japanese high schools, the students must choose one of the two courses: bunkei (文系, humanities, social sciences and fine arts) or rikei (理系, science, maths). The chosen course determines the number of lessons the student will have on a given subject. A student who chose the rikei course would have fewer English lessons.