Waking to Another Sky Ch5 bit – A Very Bad Year

Jack pointed at Janet’s keyboard. “So we’ve got another name. Anything in Kayaba’s files on Laughing Coffin?”

Already tapping keys, the doctor nodded. “Yes.” Another finger-stab put what looked like a Wiki entry up on the screen. “Formed sometime this January, membership – cute. Redacted.” She eyed blacked-out lines of text in a way that would have had Marines crying for their mommies. “Guild leader, redacted. Player-classed as a red guild. Number of known PKs… god. Over three hundred people.”

“Bad year,” Jack agreed.

Daniel and Janet traded a look. She raised an eyebrow. Daniel sighed.

“Okay, what am I missing?” Jack obliged. “Three hundred people. Bad year.”

“Very bad,” Janet deadpanned. “Given how many people were still alive when Laughing Coffin started? That’s a homicide rate of about four percent. In less than eight months.”

Um. But. “That’s the number of people who get killed in New York,” Jack objected.

“And the last I heard, Colonel, New York City had about eight million people within a mile of Times Square,” Janet persisted. “If New York had the same homicide rate as Kayaba’s game, we’d have over three hundred thousand people dead on the streets, and the country would be screaming to send in the National Guard. Even Fiorello La Guardia wouldn’t be able to keep people from lynching him.”

Okay, that was bad.

“Look at it another way. No matter how big a society gets, every person tends to know about fifty other people,” Daniel put in, face grave. “Fifty times three hundred – Jack, that’s fifteen thousand people. More than twice as many as survived the game. Everyone would have lost someone to Laughing Coffin.”

“If you crunch the numbers, sir, at that rate?” Carter put in. “Over those eight months, Laughing Coffin murdered more people than Kayaba.”

Oh. Shit. “You’re saying Doc made the right call,” Jack said reluctantly. “Get these guys away from the other victims.”

50 thoughts on “Waking to Another Sky Ch5 bit – A Very Bad Year

  1. Heh. Actually, Jack, they did send in the closest thing they had to a National Guard. And I don’t think you’re going to like it . . .

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Away from the others, under a lock, key, and — hey! How about dump them on another plant while we’re at it! ‘xcept that would count as littering, huh…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I dunno, got any gate dial-ups for a world that the Goa’uld find strategically important?
      (Yes, I know that would be a bad idea for a number of reasons, but you know you like the idea of the system lords and LC wiping each other out!)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Not nearly as much fun as laughing coffin and the system lords teaming up. Maybe the Ashrak could use some Hok’taur hosts?

        I say separate the red players so that the bad influences don’t lead them further astray, and maybe some of them can be salvaged. As human beings. I don’t think it very likely that very many, if any, of them could be used as soldiers or wetworkers in the service of any ideology I care for.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Wait, “known” PKs? Could it have been even higher? I’m amazed there hasn’t been a major incident already. No wonder Kirito & co are concerned about exactly what will be done with them.

    Though I think with the snippet format it seems to me like more time has passed in the story than has actually gone by. I guess it really hasn’t been long enough for most people to recover from the shock of leaving the game and react to Laughing Coffin members being around. Out of sight out of mind? Once they were tied up & moved the players would have had less incentive to settle scores.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. >Known, indeed. LC was known to have ferreted out multiple ways to kill other players that didn’t show up in the system. >
        Not hard to do when you think about it. All possible varieties of monster player killing along with the one ‘game’ mentioned where they had the captive players kill each other in hopes that the survivor would be let go (Cardinal wouldn’t have recorded it as LC PKing somebody), and then there is the idea of tormenting etc the target until they take their own life.

        >And yes. ATM Asuna and other guild-leaders have people focused. Once that wears off….>
        I suspect there is the potential of a lynching in Laughing Coffin’s future. Well unless they manage to escape or the Clearers manage to keep people from forming a mob.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. God damn it Jack! Re-engage your ass to mouth filter!*

    The players already think you are a complete moron who would get everyone killed with a jolly “I don’t know what went wrong?!” don’t make it worse.

    * – there is no brain involvement here

    Liked by 1 person

    1. >The players already think you are a complete moron who would get everyone killed with a jolly “I don’t know what went wrong?!” don’t make it worse.>
      In relation to this, I think I just found one of the reasons the players get really twitchy about the ‘just a game’ kinds of lines.

      -“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.”-
      Because that’s the excuse/justification that at least some of Laughing Coffin used.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hmm, is it partially a denial defense? Jack simply doesn’t want to consider the depths of Hell SAO plumbed, with children in some cases not much older than his dead son might be about now?

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Is it that Jack is from, IIRC, Chicago, that the SGC has a terrible casualty rate, that he is really not thinking straight, or something else? Because he really should be better about getting this. An Air Wing is about six thousand. Three hundred is five percent, and good units can survive taking say, thirty percent losses in combat. That’s in combat, not being secretly murdered, and that many internal murders would wreck a unit.

    Maybe his kid damage and not being together now is causing him to grab onto any distancing mechanism he can find?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I think you are going overboard on making Jack oblivious. Now it is starting to make it look less like Jack does not understand the players and more like you are making Jack act in ways contrary to his cannon characterization solely to cause antagonism and conflict between the SGC and SAO survivors. You are generally a much better writer then this so I hope this problem can be fixed.


  7. It’s getting on towards evening.
    (Incidently, are the players still on Japanese time?)

    I hope you’re not expecting them to sleep with LC in the same building?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Even Fiorello La Guardia couldn’t stop them from lynching him.—–You have gained some serious history nerd points for this refrence. I’m a native New Yorker and I wouldn’t know about one of the greatest and most beloved mayors of my city if I hadn’t taken a college class on NY history.( You think we’d focus even a little on local history in grade/middle/high school but we don’t.Refer back to Proffesor Diggory Kirk)

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Now I feel really old. He is not exactly an obscure reference, or was not, back in the 1980’s. He was even in our American history textbook in high school — and I was in Ohio, not New York State.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Someone recommended rehabilitating Laughing Coffin up there. These dudes are serial killers, torturers, and you want them rehabilitated? So far? We have yet to see a single repentant LC member. Rehabilitation doesnt work unless the participants want it to work. So my first goal would be safety for the players and justice. If some of them want to be saved, rehabilitated? Fine, but they had better be showing 110% effort.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Post game we saw the Laughing Coffin survivors who kept in contact and started trouble again. The hardcore true believers.

      Laughing Coffin leadership probably would have recruited beyond that. They would probably have some people they recruited by coercion that they could keep under control during the game, who might be deprogrammable or otherwise less dangerous outside of that coercion or control.

      I kinda don’t want to talk about what the US government should do with the Laughing Coffin members who are certain to cause trouble again if they are able. It takes me down paths that aren’t fun to analyze, that I don’t think would be fun to talk about.

      Anyway, that brunette who starts crying early on in the fic is probably not a canon red or orange player. (Or at least I don’t recognize her as such, not that this means anything.) There may be red or orange survivors in this fic who are assumed to have stayed out of trouble post game, died for refusing to be recruited for Laughing Coffin’s post game content, or committed suicide in canon. (This last is probably something that would have happened and probably would not have been reported to our canon viewpoints. Japanese society was rough on Kirito and Sinon. The psychological stresses should have been worse for the sanish who’ve performed actual illegitimate killings.)

      I’m skeptical of rehabilitation with general prison populations in RL. I was not thinking along the lines of ‘reintegration into civil society’. I was thinking some combination of ‘maybe they can be used’ and ‘maybe they can be defused’.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Actually that’s a very good point. Didn’t Rosalia basically justify the PKing that her guild got up to by ‘we have no real proof that killing people in the game kills them in real life, other than Kayaba’s word?’. Yeah, its probably self-justification but I doubt she was the only one. Waking up and realising ‘OH shit I actually DID murder those people”….its not going to go over well. More, there were people who had effectively given up on EVER getting back to the real world. Waking up and realising “oh shit, there are going to be consequences for this mess” is probably terrifying for a lot of people (or will be once they think about it.)

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yeah, consider the implications of the reverse being true. If the game did not give an air of unreality to actions or otherwise contribute to screwed up thinking, then that would imply that LC leadership could have done the same recruiting and killing left to their own devices outside of the game (except for government/police intervention*). Considering that they found that many LC members in a population of ten thousand, that’s a little bit grimdark. Sure, Manson was real. But if Laughing Coffin could’ve happened whether or not Kayaba went on a murder spree or SAO existed, I think that would be too many contrivances for me.

        That said, I am similarly skeptical of canon on other grounds, so I am prejudiced, and I am not the target audience SAO was written for.

        *Huge can of worms here. This could be interpreted narrowly as supporting a position I do not hold. I am not endorsing Lord of the Flies. I have opinions on civilization, law, and government. I’m not sure the exact ones are pertinent.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. You could hand wave it with stockholm syndrome, milgram experiments, and that they were trapped by a mass murderer in a mass murder. From the inside, it would have been reasonable to conclude that Kayaba was getting his jollies from murder, and wasn’t necessarily going to let anyone out. From there it is insane but human to conclude that helping out would earn leniency.

        Once you’ve let yourself get broken that way, it would be hard to just put yourself together and adapt to what circumstances actually demand.

        That said, I think the canon author is simply not very practiced at writing antagonists that I would find particularly plausible.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Actually, it turns out that a lot more participants objected to the Milgram experiments than he reported.

        Psychos occasionally can be good soldiers if there is only one, who is closely supervised, by someone who provides them a structure and rules to follow. In general, however, they are not much good at it. You have to be fairly well adjusted to be a modern soldier, because it means a wide variety of tasks, a lot of working with others, and a lot of judgment calls.

        Sociopaths are mostly good at getting their own side killed.

        I do not know why people have this idea that recruitment of already mentally ill people to become warriors would be a great way to outsource a whole society’s defense needs.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Yeah, I’d thought “Maybe one of them could be someone’s Tovera”, but availability of someone suitable and an actual need would both be fairly improbable. Just because I think there might be some way to use some of them doesn’t mean I can support that with specifics. It’d need to be something where their judgement and people skills were not used, where they didn’t need to be trustworthy, and not simply as fodder for the sort of thing the SGC isn’t going to be doing.

        The ‘just use ill people’ stuff may come from the folks who don’t realize that normal healthy people are perfectly useful as soldiers, and that there are sane reasons for having and using a military.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. > Anyway, that brunette who starts crying early on in the fic is probably not a canon red or orange player. (Or at least I don’t recognize her as such, not that this means anything.)

    I think it is that women who want leather pants in SAO Abridged.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. my kid has analyzed Jack (whom we’re both finding frustrating, and I keep reminding both of us: he’s not a gamer, and it’s still the Same Day for him; just a few hours ago he knew nothing about any of this)

    Anyway… kid’s analysis is that Jack is a box-context thinker. He’s accustomed to things working one way on Earth and certain boxes/reactions being the right ones. Off Earth he’s got different context and thinks in different boxes doing better at flexibility. This situation is one that call for off-Earth thinking but he’s on Earth and so far incapable of making that switch.

    Throwing this in in case it helps. I’ve never watched the show, just run into the character in fics. Most of which make him a bad clone of Tony Stark – keep the snark, not the intelligence.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. On world and off world might not be the best criteria.

      Rory Miller has a bunch of books on violence. In one he makes the point that optimal methods are very specific to the context. Given example was that getting a bunch of friends with guns and killing the competition beforehand is not how you win martial arts tournaments.

      People skilled at violence make careful decisions about it if they stay out of prison.

      Military and military officers in general and special ops and special ops officers in particular have some additional wrinkles. War is violence, and as practiced by the US military is very skilled and able. Politics is in the scope of officers. Special operations people tend to be able, creative, and flexible. If someone creative and flexible helps off someone like Che, with that creativity and flexibility they can start to wonder about domestic political figures. Unless they teach themselves not to. It is no accident that the US government has not been overthrown by the US Military even once. It is no accident that many US military officers have a reputation for being much more likely to risk their own lives, or the lives of their command than they are to risk going to prison, or risk their pension.

      There was an episode where it was thought that Jack had gone nuts and was going to assassinate a politician. Off-world Jack has killed many foreign heads of state and other dignitaries, but this is not the behavior we see domestically. He has a leash on himself that his own flexibility can’t easily overcome.

      Item the third is habits of counterintelligence. You help prevent leaks by being very careful about not saying stuff to people not explicitly cleared for it. This behavior is one where flexibility is mostly harmful. Again, a flexible professional will train themselves to inhibit their flexibility on this.

      Jack is very stressed now. Stress is fairly routine for officers, he will have coping mechanisms, and if they were the sort that erased certain habits of inhibited flexibility, he would have been fired by now.

      Really, Jack’s lack of communication shows his basic assumption that most (if not all) of the players would shortly be walking out the doors freely and with access to media. Maybe he thinks he can lean on the Japanese government for help keeping some things quiet. But he doesn’t think he can compel secrecy, has no intention whatsoever of killing everyone, and is tapdancing while he finds out what is going to come out eventually.

      That said, he apparently likes to play stupid, so depicting him as not very intelligent has some basis.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Jack does like to play dumb – it lulls people into a false sense of security.

        On top of that, Jack deals with very, very smart people on a daily basis. And one of the problems you run into there is that people forget to explain why they reached conclusions that might not be obvious to someone outside their field. So… he makes sure he gets explanations.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Nice analysis. 🙂 Jack’s as intelligent as Tony, but in a more military and command-structured way.

      Part of his problem is prior knowledge: “This is a game Cassie wanted to play, that went Horribly Wrong”, contrasted to the new info of “the game was never a game at all, and we’re partly responsible for giving a madman the information to kill people”.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. So…

    OK, basic math.

    10,000 people
    2,000 dead in the first month from attrition of idiots and the unlucky.
    That gives you 8,000

    8,000 people suffered 1,853 casualties over 2 years. 23% casualty rate.

    Laughing Coffin killed 300 of these players, known, and a minimum of 3 * (Number of members greater than 20) unknown in this fic by definition of the membership test. Plus of course, 20 of their own casualties. Call it 450?

    So… Laughing Coffin killed a full 25% of the SAO casualties over one third of the time period?


    /Also, whenever I lay this out, I’m always shocked at how safe SAO is once you get off that first floor. Call it 1,200 non-PK casualties over ~700 days of constant combat divided by a base of several thousand combatants continuously engaged against an infinite horde of enemies?
    //I mean, yes, this is probably Reki not doing math, but.


    1. *Nod* LC was horrifying. The clearers didn’t have much choice.

      And the players who managed not to commit suicide or get killed on the first floor tended to be very, very careful types. Which is one of the things Kayaba was looking for….


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