- "Maybe this was a turning point. The relationship between me and the game "The World" had gone beyond pure amusement. And, it was starting to spread beyond the network."
- — Kite —
.hack//OUTBREAK (.hack//侵食汚染 Vol.3) (Japanese title: Invasive Contamination) is the third of the four-part video game series that is the core of the .hack franchise. It details the beginning of Kite's counterattack against the Cursed Wave.
After draining the third Phase, Kite and BlackRose are shocked to find the Lambda server corrupted. Kite encounters Mia, who isn't acting like her normal self. Mia lacks her usual energy and is not in the mood to join Kite. At Mac Anu, Mistral reveals that she is a pregnant housewife and as a result can't continue to aid Kite despite her wish to see the adventure through to the end. As a result of these events happening at around the same time, Kite begins to doubt if he is doing the right thing, much to the dismay of BlackRose. Even so, Kite continues to follow clues wherever he finds them.
At Σ Chatting Snaring Twins, Kite travels the dungeon alone and picks up data left by Harald. At the bottom is Balmung fighting a Data Bug by himself. After Kite helps him defeat the anomaly, the two talk and finally decide to join forces, agreeing that they need each other's power. Balmung leads Kite deeper and into another white room, this one with hundreds of butterflies in it.
Upon returning from the dungeon, BlackRose asks him to meet her at the statue of Aura. There, she reveals that her brother, Fumikazu, fell into a coma while playing The World. She had to rely on Kite on her quest to learn the truth about why it happened and berates Kite for doubting himself when she needs him the most. Kite understands her words and agrees to continue their mission.
Wiseman comes up with a plan and tells Kite that he needs Helba's help in order to pull it off. Kite receives a message from Helba stating that she will help so long as he passes a test. Kite agrees to the test and successfully travels to the bottom of the dungeon Σ Tested Quicksilver Valkyrie alone and defeats the Data Bug at the bottom. Helba then keeps her promise to help.
Helba soon sends an e-mail telling Kite and BlackRose to enter the field Σ Turbulent Distrusting Ice Wall and fight the Phase there. Data Draining the phase Fidchell bestows upon Kite the second of Aura's segments. Kite and BlackRose defeat Fidchell, who gives the two an ominous warning of disaster before it is destroyed. The prophet's words ring true as systems shut down in the real world.
Kite and Balmung follow Lios's orders to take out the Data Bug in Σ Rising Implacable Sipping Bug. There it is revealed by Lios that the corruption threatens to turn The World itself into a virus, and that CC Corp is willing to destroy its servers to prevent it from happening. Kite understand more than ever that he must hurry and uncover The World's mysteries, as the destruction of the servers means the destruction of the vital link between it and the coma victims that keeps them alive.
Kite, left without any further leads, helps Piros out, then receives an e-mail from Aura upon return. Aura asks to meet him in Λ Merciless Grieving Furnace. There, Lios witnesses Kite as he returns Aura's second segment to her. Shortly afterwards, Cubia rises again, surprising Lios who is seeing Cubia for the first time. Kite repels Cubia and forces it to retreat once more, but notes that Cubia seems to be growing in power.
Kite decides that the best course of action would be to get Lios on their side to work with Helba, so BlackRose concocts a plan that eventually has Lios and Helba meeting up with them at Net Slum. Lios, who cannot ignore the threat that the likes of Cubia presented, agrees to join under the condition that Kite extracts a Virus Core from the bottom of the dungeon of Σ Sorrowful Sweltering Arena without the use of the Twilight Bracelet. Kite agrees to this seemingly impossible task.
At the bottom of the dungeon, Kite and BlackRose encounter a Data Bug, but succeed in defeating it without the use of the Bracelet. Lios reveals that it was a fake Data Bug he created, but sticks to his word and joins them. It is then revealed that CC Corp has begun preparations to destroy the servers and have already begun creating coverup stories blaming terrorist hackers.
While waiting for the plan of counterattack, Kite follows a BBS post and enters the dungeon of Σ Resonating False Grasslands where he finds another room. The room contains a log cabin and another Epitaph fragment. After returning, Wiseman sends him an e-mail.
At Net Slum, Wiseman reveals his plan, labeled Operation BREAKWATER, to quarantine the Cursed Wave and attack it. Lios will search for the Wave along with CC Corp employees that are loyal to him. Wiseman will analyze the data that Lios sends and Kite will form a party to fight the Wave. All other members of the group will help in forming a quarantine to force the Wave to go to the area they want. Kite is instructed to wait for the e-mail informing him of when he should prepare for battle.
While waiting, he encounters Elk, who can't seem to find Mia anywhere. Kite has no answers, so Elk gates out and continues searching. Kite then receives the e-mail, informing him to return to the field Σ Chatting Snaring Twins. There, he and BlackRose fight the 5th Phase, Gorre. After a long and draining fight, the party succeeds in defeating it, and for the first time there are no side-effects that arise when defeating a Phase. There is little time for celebration though, as Helba informs the party of increasing data in the Θ Server. The counterattack has finally begun.
Characters Introduced in this Volume
- Σ Barking Hot-Blooded 500 Lohan
Lady Gloves is hidden somewhere in the dungeon. Receive Magnolia Miso from the Gott Statue.
- Σ Unusual Ghostly Remnant
Lady's Mail is hidden somewhere in the dungeon. Receive Doll Amulet from the Gott Statue.
- Σ Noisy Sacred Ringing Ears
Lady's Cap is hidden somewhere in the dungeon. Receive 3 Floor Tower from the Gott Statue.
- Σ Abrasive False Tragedy
Keyword found in the .hack//Outbreak magazine ad. A dungeon where you can meet Bear and receive his sword. Also receive the Maiden's Plot from the Gott statue.
- Σ Ancient Destroyer's Battlefield
Keyword found on the back of the .hack//SIGN DVD Vol. 04: Omnipotence cover. Lady Shoes is hidden somewhere in the dungeon. Receive Scent of Gero from the Gott Statue.
- Σ Greedy Gambler's Drift
Keyword found on the back of the .hack//SIGN DVD Vol. 05: Uncovered cover. Lady Killers is hidden somewhere in the dungeon. Receive Boxed Lunch from the Gott Statue.
- Σ Entwined Prejudiced Chaos
Keyword found on the back of the .hack//SIGN DVD Vol. 06: Terminus cover. Kokoro is hidden somewhere in the dungeon. Receive Rouge Fragment from the Gott Statue.
- Σ Tested Morphean Alchemy
Keyword found on the back of the .hack//SIGN DVD Vol. 06: Terminus cover. Vampire's Blades is hidden somewhere in the dungeon. Receive Field's Deed from the Gott Statue.
- OUTBREAK is the only game with a cover that doesn't have Kite, BlackRose, and Helba on it.