The girl lifted her head, following her friend’s gaze. For a moment, Janet could read her face like a book: I don’t know you, I don’t trust you, where is this place?
Then both teenagers huddled with the wild-haired redhead and the massive black man again, obviously intent on hashing something out fast.
“They’re plotting,” Jack sing-songed at her.
“With people they’ve never seen before?” Janet said skeptically. “Everyone in the game had computer avatars. Even if they had a chance to interact before Kayaba changed all the rules, they can’t have recognized each other that fast….”
Except Jack was right. People didn’t huddle in us against the world with strangers. Which meant they weren’t strangers to each other. How?
“Uh-huh,” the colonel said dryly. “So how come those guys,” he nodded toward about five young men who’d casually put themselves between the foursome and the rest of the room, “are acting like your staff when you and Carter plan a raid on Danny’s coffee- where the hell did he go?”
“Captain Fraiser!” Nurse Jordan skidded to a stop in the doorway behind them. “We’re getting reports that- oh….”
“We may have good news,” Janet admitted, still looking for black hair. Where the heck had Kirigaya gone? “At least, no one’s keeled over yet, so-”
Daniel cleared his throat. “Janet? She’s coming for us.”
The chestnut-haired girl had solved any modesty problems by whirling up her sheet over her shoulders like a white cloak. Now she hit the floor at a fast march. Janet could almost hear imaginary heels clicking, as the jubilant chaos parted before a seventeen-year-old Japanese schoolgirl stalking like Jack on a mission, heaven help anyone who got in her way.
Daniel’s right. She’s headed for us.
The girl stopped at what Janet had come to think of as good snarking distance, and swept them with another look. “I am Asuna, Vice-Commander of the Knights of the Blood Oath. Who are you, and where are we?”