Kirito held the madman’s gaze, left hand barely twitching. “Why did you join the Knights? A criminal guild would have suited you better.”
“Kuradeel can’t see that hand,” Jack muttered. “Kid’s going to try something.”
“Kirito’s fighting the dose,” Janet observed with clinical calm, white-knuckled hand scratching out a few notes. “Maybe he got less. Or he’s more resistant. Godfree couldn’t fight it off. Kirito’s trying.”
“Keh; why ask something so obvious?” Kuradeel licked his lips, slow and deliberate. “It’s because of that girl.”
“Asuna?” Kirito’s face flushed red. “You damn bastard-!”
“Heh, why glare like that? It’s just a game, isn’t it? Don’t worry. I’ll look after your precious Vice-Commander. After all, I have so many useful items.” He picked up the water bottle, shaking it as if the slosh was sweet as silver bells. “A criminal guild would suit me more? You’re sharper than I thought.” A touch made his left gauntlet vanish; another rolled up his sleeve, baring his forearm to view.
An ink-black tattoo sprawled across skin; a coffin, with eyes and the same mad grin, a white skeletal arm reaching out like death itself.
Kirito’s breath hissed. “Laughing Coffin!”
“Um-hmm.” Kuradeel smiled, nodding.
“A survivor.” Kirito’s voice cracked. “So it’s revenge?”
Say what? Jack thought, incredulous.
“Why would I do something that stupid?” Kuradeel spat. “Though they did teach me this paralysis technique. Among others….” He stood, and lifted his sword, steel catching a glint of sun. “I should finish this now, before the poison wears off. I’ve been dreaming of this, ever since that duel-”
Kirito’s left hand moved.
“Note to self,” Jack muttered, as Kuradeel swore and shook a small throwing spike from his arm. “Kirigaya is ambidextrous.”
And he doesn’t give up. Paralyzed, alone with a crazy psycho bastard – he does not give up. No wonder the Marines adopted him. Devil Puppy, right there.