Jack loosened his shoulders, muscle by muscle, from the tight knots they’d made when he cringed. Two kids had just hit the limit of their ability to deal with sheer human nastiness. If the sick bastard weren’t already dead, Jack would have dealt with Kuradeel himself. No sixteen-year-old should know what it felt like to kill another human being with his bare hands.
Make that, hand.
Worse, Kirito had made the right call. His partner was disarmed, he was crippled, and Kuradeel had made it damn clear he wasn’t going to stop. Not for anything short of a deathblow.
He shouldn’t have had to make that call.
But the absolute worst? Not Kuradeel; not even what Kirito had had to do to save himself and Asuna. Jack had seen people caught between death gliders and a hard place before. Those two had bent, but they hadn’t broken.
No. That wasn’t the worst. “Kayaba recorded this,” Jack said harshly. “Specifically this. Out of six thousand people still fighting and dying in his game, he picks two scared kids having one of the worst days of their lives.” He thumped a fist on the table, white-knuckled. “What the hell did they ever do to him?”
“They were too good at the game.”
Not what he wanted to hear from Daniel. “Run that by me again?” Jack said pointedly.
Daniel didn’t look any happier the second time. “If someone is really good at a game – really, really good at it – then you have to make it harder for them. Or no one else has any fun.”
Stunned, Jack pointed at the screen. “Not a game.”
“It was, to Kayaba.” Daniel winced. “If he was in the game, if he could tailor it… I’d guess all the high-level players have horror stories.”