This time, Daniel hit the pause. “…It doesn’t fit.”
“Guy traps kids in a game, and tells them they’ve got to fight or die.” The tightness of his eyes was clear evidence that Jack was on a rare slow boil. “There’s a lot that doesn’t fit.”
“No. Not that. I mean… they worked together to defeat Kayaba’s… first boss,” Daniel stumbled over the phrase. “Even if that man died – it must have helped, right? It showed they could play the game. That they could beat it. How they could beat it.”
Startled, Janet nodded. “I think that’s when the death rate first started dropping.”
Daniel let out a slow breath. “It would have been a critical event, Jack. Part of – well, the founding myth of the community they formed. The people there would be known. Respected. Look at Asuna and Andrew Mills now. They’ve got positions of authority. Kazuto doesn’t.” He glanced at each of them. “Why?”
Jack blinked. “That’s what jumps out at you?” he said in disbelief. “Danny. Not every good fighter is a leader.”
But Jack frowned as he said it, and Daniel nodded. “Solo. They implied he’s not in their groups. But he acts like a leader, and they trust him. I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s got to be more complicated than we know about.” He stared into the distance. “Two years is long enough for humans to complicate anything.”
“Indeed.” Teal’c wrinkled his brow. “The players’ words were not Abydonian.”
“No,” Daniel agreed, a little startled. “A month in, they’re still speaking Japanese. I wonder when that changed?” Blue eyes narrowed. “I wonder why it changed.”
“You have an evil thought,” Jack said, almost casually.
“I hope I’m wrong.” Daniel rested his fist on his chin a moment, looking bleak. “I hope it was an accident. But so far, nothing Kayaba’s done has been an accident. Language is culture, and….” He glanced at Sam. “Why do we wind up with potential security breaches whenever a couple people from the SGC go for groceries? Particularly people from the same team.”
“’Gate translation,” Sam said ruefully. “We get distracted, we start talking. People know never to mention the missions; that’s classified. But we sometimes forget not all the words we know are English.” She grimaced. “I have to spell-check all my reports, and even then I don’t catch everything.”
“Everyone who’s been through the ‘Gate has the same problem,” Janet agreed. “I don’t know how the DHD puts bits of languages in people’s heads, but it’s a headache. Literally. We don’t get as many reports of headaches when people are revisiting worlds they’ve been to before.”
“But Kayaba didn’t have access to-” Sam blanched.
“The NID were in possession of a DHD while Kayaba designed his game,” Teal’c noted. “But would they have allowed him access?”
“Why not?” Jack said dryly. “Psychopathic megalomaniacs are right up their alley.”