Six months have passed since the fierce battle against Administrator. Kirito has lost his right arm, and is now just a broken-down shell of his former self. Alice has brought him to the outskirts of her childhood home where they live.
A force from the Dark Territory launches an attack on Rulid Village. Alice rushes over on her dragon, Amayori. There she finds the villagers unable to flee because the Taboo Index prevents them from defying the Chief Man-at-Arms' orders.
The mysterious organization that carried out the attack on the Ocean Turtle…
It turns out to be a secret unit under orders from the U.S. National Security Agency.
And its leader, Gabriel, has battled Kirito and Sinon before…
Shasta had intended to use Administrator's death as an opportunity to propose a truce with the Human Empire, but his plans are thwarted by Emperor Vecta's return to the Land of Darkness.
The Dark Forces are now closing in on The Eastern Gate, which separates the Human Empire from the Dark Territory. Resolving to fight for humankind, Alice joins the Human Empire Forces, bringing Kirito with her.
Asuna has logged into the Underworld using the super-account of Stacia, the Goddess of Creation. She unleashes a rainbow-hued aurora-like Sacred Art that causes landscape alteration.
Using the "landscape alteration" command, Asuna has created a bottomless gorge. The Dark Knights and the Pugilists attempt to cross over to the other side where the Human Empire Army awaits them.
Thanks to Gabriel's scheme, U.S. gamers from the real world have been granted Dark Knight accounts allowing them to slaughter the Artificial Fluctlights.