Originally Posted by Helbagate
Leading up to the year 2005, cyber crimes were becoming more of a problem world-wide. The World Network Council (WNC) was formed under the U.N. to address these issues. However, the WNC was more concerned with internal politics and soon came to be viewed as a joke. In 2003, a virus named "Deadly Flash" caused 7 deaths. The Japanese man that created the virus was caught and sentenced to death. In 2005, "Pluto's Kiss" hit computers world-wide, causing massive shutdowns for 77 minutes. The culprit is a 10-year-old school student, who is also caught and faces the death penalty. Among the victims of these viruses is the "M Corporation" (Microsoft?), which goes out of business. Only one operating system remained unscathed by Pluto's Kiss. That OS, Altimit, receives the WNC's blessings to become the universal OS for every computer in the world.
About this time, a young girl who later creates the character "Subaru" in The World undergoes some kind of problem or accident that cripples her and leaves her trapped in a wheelchair. We're never told the exact nature of her handicap, only that she has not been able to walk or run for 4 years by the time she meets Tsukasa.
2006 A.D. Harald Hoerwick brings "Fragment" to the offices of Altimit. Several programmers from Altimit leave the company to form CyberConnect Corp., and concentrate on re-engineering Fragment as a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that they call "The World". The WNC has put a ban on computer games as being a distraction from the development of the Altimit OS. However, the public is starving for entertainment, and the WNC okays the release of "The World", which makes its debut at the end of 2007. One of Harald's earlier attempts to create Aura results in the birth of Lycoris, a "failed AI" that Harald rejects as not being perfect enough to become "his Aura". Lycoris manages to survive in The World, avoiding CC Corp's debugging crew until some time after people start falling into comas. Even so, Lycoris still succeeds at living until finally meeting Zefie, several years after the elimination of Morganna.
During the intervening time from 2008 to 2009, there is a lot of turnover at both Altimit and CC Corp. The World undergoes a number of upgrades to the code, and pretty soon no one at CC Corp. knows how the game's core engines work any more.
Morganna Mode Gone
Around the end of 2008, Harald realizes that something has gone wrong with Morganna. Morganna has gone "AI" and has not yet awakened Aura. He decides that the only choice is to "leave his body behind" and enter the game world to talk to Morganna directly. Morganna, now called "Morganna Mode Gone" attacks Harald, and he flees to remote parts of The World's domains. Another software upgrade occurs, sealing off a part of him (the Broken Man) in the Upside Down City. He does manage to post a message to the boards of The World directing players to come visit him somewhere in the game, initiating the first quest for the Key of the Twilight. However, we're never really told what the Key is.
Subaru starts playing in The World as a way to make friends. She's easily harassed by other players until Crim, the Red Lightning, decides to take her under his wing and shows her how to become a stronger person. The two of them form the Crimson Knights, a volunteer group of players that enforce the rules of netiquette with CC Corp.'s blessings. Eventually, the Crimson Knights grows too large and suffocating for Crim, and he resigns to return to his carefree life as a wanderer.
Some time later, a school girl begins playing The World under the name "Tsukasa". She's been abused by her father most of her life, and tries to escape into the game to get away from him. Morganna senses that the male character Tsukasa is just what she needs for her plan to twist Aura into something evil. Over time, Morganna attempts to pull Tsukasa's consciousness out of her body in the real world, and into the game environment.
Give us a Sign
Finally, in 2009 A.D., one year after Harald had posted his message on the boards, Morganna succeeds in the first step of her plan, getting the "boy" Tsukasa to agree to stop logging out of The World. In the real world, the girl playing Tsukasa falls into a coma and is taken to the hospital. As a protection, Morganna gives the barbell-shaped "Guardian" to Tsukasa. The voiceless cat, Maha/Macha (both spellings are used), acts as Morganna's messenger to Tsukasa. Maha is one of the Phases that accompany the Wave, as mentioned in the Epitaph. Morganna's plan is to elevate Tsukasa's moods, then dash them into despair, with all of the negative thoughts and emotions that result being fed into Aura (since Harald designed the Phases as data collection systems, Maha is just being used as it was intended). Once Aura is completely subverted, her awakening will fill The World with overwhelming negativity. Morganna starts out by pretending to be Tsukasa's long dead mother, and then having the boy make friends with Mimiru.
Tsukasa attracts the attentions of several players, including Bear, Mimiru, Silver Knight and Subaru. Bear is a big, hulking blademaster that likes helping out newbies in the game as a way to compensate for his divorce, and for being estranged from his own son. Mimiru is just a high school girl that can't resist someone that tries to pull away from her. Subaru, being confined to a wheelchair in the real world, empathizes with Tsukasa's being unable to log out of the game. Silver Knight, however, views Tsukasa's involvement with Maha, and possession of Guardian, to be a violation of the player rules and wants him evicted from the game. Bear, Mimiru and Subaru want to help Tsukasa in any way they can, and believe that obtaining the Key of the Twilight will somehow let him log out of the game. On the other hand are Crim, BT and Sora. Crim likes enforcing justice in the game, and initially considers Tsukasa's use of Guardian against other players as an affront to his sense of justice. BT, being the schemer that she is, equates Tsukasa's violation of the rules of The World (i.e. - being unable to log out for weeks at a time) with the rumored "unlimited powers" of the Key of the Twilight. She wants the Key to gain those powers, and thinks that manipulating Tsukasa will get her the Key. Sora, a ninja-style Twin Blade that goes around killing other players, wants to gain Tsukasa as his ally. Crim and Silver Knight want to punish Tsukasa for violating the rules, and BT and Sora want to manipulate the boy for their own ends. In all cases, the Key of the Twilight is the focus point of everyone's attentions.
Silver Knight becomes impatient with Subaru and ignores her orders to leave Tsukasa alone. Realizing that the Crimson Knights have overstepped their bounds, and wanting to regain her own sense of freedom in the game, Subaru disbands the Crimson Knights. Later attempts to reform the Knights as an autonomous body fail, and the Crimson Knights disappear into obscurity.
Bear tracks down Tsukasa's real-world body, lying on life support in the hospital. Shortly thereafter, Tsukasa's father tries to have Tsukasa removed from life support legally; when that fails, he pulls the plug himself. The doctors rescue Tsukasa in time, but Morganna senses that Tsukasa is about to wake up in the real world, and punishes him for trying to leave her in the game. From Bear, Tsukasa learns about the Key of the Twilight, and he wants to use its powers to make Aura wake up. Morganna doesn't like Tsukasa's acting on his own volition and intends to punish him for it. In trying to learn more about the underlying roots of the game, Bear makes contact with a professional hacker who calls herself "Helba", after the Queen of Darkness in the Epitaph. Helba points Bear in the direction of the Upside Down City (an abandoned field initially designed as a root town), where Tsukasa encounters the Broken Man. The Broken Man is all that remains of one part of Harald's personality. The Broken Man's message is that he wants someone to protect "our Aura". Tsukasa understands this to mean the floating, sleeping girl located in the "safe place" field that Morganna lets him visit. Later, Tsukasa finds himself being attracted to Subaru and they spend a lot of time together. He eventually takes Subaru to the "safe place" to show Aura to her, but Morganna has moved the sleeping girl elsewhere. Morganna gets upset at this "betrayal" of her loyalties and punishes Tsukasa so hard that he almost loses his mind. Morganna decides that she doesn't need the boy anymore, and she tries a more direct attack against Aura - eating away at the sleeping girl's code.
Ultimately, Bear tracks down a slightly more intact version of the Broken Man, and learns a little more about the nature of Aura. In essence, Aura was to be the physical display of Harold's love for Emma Weilant, with Morganna's role being one of awakening Aura to get events rolling. However, Morganna isn't following her instructions, and instead she has used Tsukasa to make Aura evil. Harold tells Bear that "black" Aura must not be allowed to wake up, then his code is dissolved when Morganna discovers that Harold is talking to outsiders. Helba gets more involved in Bear's research, and all of the involved parties rendezvous at her secret hideout - Net Slum, home to failed AIs that were rejected from the game. Tsukasa recovers his mind in time to join the party at Net Slum. There, Helba tells the party that somehow Tsukasa has become linked with Aura. She thinks that if Tsukasa decides to log-out from the World, that it will cause Aura to wake up again. Morganna decides that Subaru has gotten too close to Tsukasa, and now views her as a threat. Guardian is sent to attack Subaru in Net Slum, where Tsukasa finally decides to try to protect her. In the meantime, Sora has followed Maha to Morganna's lair, where he spies Aura. Sora offers to help Morganna, just because he can. (While talking to Sora, Morganna says that it's the uncertainty of their responses - i.e. no absolutes - that she hates most about humans. That is, she's talking about "Liminality" here.) Morganna orders Maha to use a Guardian to kill Subaru, but Tsukasa's own Guardian protects her and both Guardians cancel each other out. The party decides to leave Net Slum and relocate to Hidden Forbidden Holy Ground (the Cathedral). Morganna attacks the party with another Guardian, and they succeed in defeating it. So she sends three more. Maha, holding a stalk of aromatic grass (given to him by Tsukasa), warps into the Cathedral to sacrifice itself while destroying the Guardians and thus saving Tsukasa.
Morganna warps the wayward boy and the two girls to a desert field, to pit them against each other. The three are separated and paired off with illusions that pretend to hate them (Tsukasa with a fake Subaru and fake Mimiru, etc.) All three heroes refuse to be tricked, and the illusions are revealed to be effects created by Morganna's "slugs". Morganna gives up the charade and warps the three to her current lair, where Aura and Sora are waiting for them. Tsukasa has learned how to take responsibility for "his" life, and is no longer afraid of those that would use force to control him - like Morganna, or his father. Tsukasa announces his desire to return to the real world, which causes Aura to wake up. .