We brought Sword Art Online out with us. Klein shivered a little, remembering the mingled unease and outright glee he’d felt at Kirito’s simple, “Scan works.”
Because knowing how to use a katana? Awesome. Utterly. But he’d spent two years leveling up his Curved Swords know-how. Teach the brain, the body stood a chance of catching on. It was weird, but it wasn’t impossible.
IMing works. Even if it’s just a little – how the hell did Kayaba do that?
…And Kirito’s avoiding the problem. Go figure. “Yeah,” Klein agreed. “We need some space. Big-time. We were all spread over seventy-odd levels, and now six thousand of us are jammed in the same building. Bites.” Maybe not so much for the Japanese contingent of the survivors… nah. He’d seen Kirito adjust to Aincrad’s wide-open spaces. The Black Swordsman felt just as hemmed in as the rest of them. “So. What’d you find?”
Shivering a little, Kirito pointed to the document open on the screen. Complete with little pictures of DNA helices, and some funny light-and-dark banded pictures like ones Klein remembered seeing on detective shows. DNA fingerprinting, with captions that… whoa. No wonder Kirito was shaking.
“They think,” Kirito gulped, scanning the text again. “They think we have nonhuman DNA in us. That Kayaba… whatever he put in the NervGear, it didn’t just access our nervous system. It genetically engineered us.”
“Hair and eyes,” Klein stated, suddenly glad he’d never done that particular low-level quest. And what a shock that had been once the NervGear started coming off. Some hair that ended regular brown or black had long roots of silver, blue, pink; you name it. A lot of people had borrowed some of the scissors Argo had filched, either to cut a Gordian knot of incurable bed-head, or to trim off bits that just weren’t them anymore.
A few of the nurses had tried to talk people out of that. Usually the ones who’d stared the most at people’s eyes. As if scissors would fix that.
Kirito shook his head. “I don’t think Bluebook even knew about that. They’re looking at… blood proteins, I think. Hormones. Antibodies. Ours – aren’t all human anymore.” He skimmed another page. “They identified at least three… levels of alterations. Low modification is almost normal human. Then there’s medium, and high-mod. Though a few months ago they suggested they should split those last two groups, and make five levels. There’s supposed to be a file of names in the appendix… damn it, Otherworld names-”
“Save a copy, we’ll sort it out later,” Argo said firmly. “Breathe, Ki-bou. We’re all in the same mess, ne?”