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Phantom Bullet Arc
After Kazuto's meeting with Kikuoka Seijirou, Asuna was waiting for him in front of Otemachi Station, the Chiyoda Line on December 7, 2025, almost one year after her return to the real world. As she was waiting, she wondered about the "real" things around her, made up of atoms and not data, yet she felt that what had happened in virtual reality was also "real." As she mused this topic, she asked what were the differences between virtual reality and reality out loud. To her surprise, Kazuto suddenly answered from behind, saying that it was just the difference in the quantity of data.
Taking her hand, they both walked into the East Garden of the Imperial Palace and looked at the Edo Castle ruins together. After discussing several topics about their future together, their friends, and Yui, Kazuto shyly revealed the fact that he would be transferring his ALO avatar to another MMO game: Gun Gale Online (GGO). After Asuna's initial panicked reaction, Kazuto managed to calm her down and convinced her that he was only doing it because Seijirou, a government official who worked with Kazuto to uncover some events of SAO, she decided that it could not be helped and begrudgingly accepted that she would have to play ALO without him for several days, but insisted that the moment he was finished with Seijirou's request he would transfer his avatar's data back over to ALO.
A few days later, Asuna and all of their friends were gathered together in the room that Asuna and Kirito had rented in ALO in Yggdrasil City, watching the Bullet of Bullets tournament live on a huge, 16-inch screen television in their home. While watching it, Asuna noticed strange behavior coming from a player calling himself «Death Gun», who had pinned down another player, Pale Rider, with paralyzing bullets from a large sniper rifle in his possession. He walked over to Pale Rider's paralyzed body, raised a small pistol to him, and shot him once, instead of finishing him off with his rifle. This caused fear to seep into Asuna's stomach, as she knew something was wrong with this player. Moments later, Pale Rider suddenly seized up and disappeared from the tournament, with the broadcast stating his connection had been interrupted. Death Gun turned to the screen and made an announcement, and Asuna quickly realized that the player calling himself Death Gun was actually a player of SAO, and worse still, a Laughing Coffin member. Fearing the worst, that this man was here to actually kill people, Asuna quickly logged out of ALO and contacted Seijirou in the real world, demanding he log into ALO to give an explanation as to what Kirito's true purpose in GGO was.
As Asuna waited for him to log in, she suffered from severe anxiety and remembered the crusade that had destroyed the Laughing Coffin back in the last days of SAO. A huge raid party of fifty players, Asuna and Kirito included, had swept into the Laughing Coffin headquarters to finally destroy the evil, murderous guild once and for all, but, having been tipped off that the raid was coming, the LC set up an ambush. What had originally been intended - to simply lock up the Laughing Coffin members in the SAO prison so they could no longer harm anybody - quickly turned into a slaughter. Twenty-one of Laughing Coffin's members were killed, and eleven more of the raid party as well - thirty-two players in total dead forever.
Finally, Chrysheight (Kikuoka Seijirou) showed up, but before he could explain anything, Yui, who had been conducting research of her own, explained that there had been two mysterious deaths in the real world linked to this player, Death Gun, in GGO. What had just happened to Pale Rider was likely another murder, and it was revealed by Chrysheight that Kirito had been sent to investigate and possibly prevent anymore murders.
Frustrated that she was unable to protect him, Asuna resolved to stay by Kazuto's side instead. She logged out of ALO and quickly took a taxi to Kazuto's location: a room in a hospital in Chiyoda, the same one he had stayed in during his time in SAO. After getting there, the only thing Asuna could do was watch the broadcast of the Bullet of Bullets tournament and hold Kazuto's hand while he was immersed in the game. It was due to the warmth of Asuna's hand against his, the sensation of his lover supporting him, that Kirito gained the strength he needed to overcome the Laughing Coffin player in the final battle of the BoB tournament.