You got distracted by that Competent Hero on Opening Day, Klein thought. Just like he meant for everybody to.
Kirito hadn’t been running off to join a group. He’d been heading out to solo. Only he really did love Sword Art Online, and the chance to let someone else in on the fun – not to show off, as Klein had thought then, but to share….
I must have caught him on a good day. One he hadn’t had too many people to deal with already.
Because if Issin was right, and this was Kirito trusting them-
The Beater’s all an act. He’s not the tough loner. He’s not the life of the party, either. He’s the IT guy hiding in the corner farthest away from the karaoke machine, praying he can go home soon.
And Klein had a pretty good feel for how groups worked, in and out of the game. Whoever put their idea out first and loudest, tended to get listened to. Which meant the Black Cats had had one of the best survivors in the game on their side – and he might as well have been gagged in a closet.
…Okay, maybe not that bad, Klein allowed. Still. For all Kirito’s survival skills – and the guy was good, the guy was beyond good – his people skills were an utter fail.
Unless you count “skill to get everybody to see me as their hated scapegoat”. That, he’s good at. Which means damn it, that could not have been the first time–
And oh, that was an ugly image. Klein shuddered.
Outside of that, he flunks the people quiz. And he knows it. Damn.
Klein chewed that over, trying to find a solution. Nothing brilliant was popping up.
All I know is, Issin’s wrong. We don’t need to get Kirito in the guild. He’d just fold up and wilt. We need to get him to realize he can call Fuurinkazan for backup….
Hah! Klein almost slapped himself in the forehead. I’m an idiot. How do you handle IT guys? You send ‘em an email. And a problem if you’ve got one. With a “we need X by” and “anything we can do for you?” attached. If we can get him used to just talking to us about the monsters – Damn. There goes the sun.
At first all Klein saw were faint threads of pale mist creeping over broken stone, no different than he’d see above a lake on a winter’s day.
Except there’s no pond. Okay, this thing gets points for sheer spooky….
Mist swirled and moaned, twisting into a score of tormented faces that appeared and vanished, moment to moment. The undead fog thickened, curves of green HP bars appearing-
<<The Caller in Darkness.>>