“I still haven’t found anything in Kayaba’s files that mentions anyone’s legal name,” Janet nodded. “I wonder if that’s how he could do this. Who they were before the game didn’t matter to him; all he cared about was who he could make them become….” She shook it off, and pointed at the image; a block of names beginning with K. “You can see Kirito’s there, alive. Right and down… Kuradeel. His time of death looked familiar, so I ran a search on the text file to see if anyone had died just a few minutes before or after. And I found one. With those two names – Kuradeel and Godfree – and the time and day… I think I found something.” She swallowed dryly. “I just couldn’t watch it alone.”
Sam glanced at him. “Should we get Teal’c up here, sir?”
Jack thought about it, chewing his lip a bit. He wanted Teal’c to see it all, eventually. Right now? “Taking care of the critters is more important.”
Daniel raised his brows at Janet. “Maybe you should check him for a fever.”
“For the kids, not the critters,” Jack said pointedly. “They need to trust somebody, or we’re going to lose them to the monsters in their heads. I’d like it if they trusted the nurses. I’d love it if they trusted us. But right now, Teal’c seems to be the closest to getting through to them. They listen when he talks, and they believe him when he says he doesn’t know. I’ll take what I can get.” He waved at the monitor. “Roll ‘em.”
A date and time, over two weeks ago. A familiar sandstone canyon. A too-familiar laughing madman, tearing apart his disbelieving victim with deliberate stabs of a sword. Only this was no brief, horrifying flash of video.
“K-Kuradeel, what are you-”
“Oh, it’s not personal.” The grinning madman raised his blade. “But in my story, I’m the only one who returns alive….”