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Aug 08, 2020 7:56 AM
Ben and Kyros on the run, or: I Got Very Attached To My AI Dungeon Game
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So he assumed Ben's innocent. That explains the friendliness.
"No, it's true. It's a long story. Listen, can we talk about something else?"

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Kyros doesn't quite manage to hide his surprise, and some disturbance. He expected what others told him to be lies, or at least figured Ben would jump to explain how it was all a misunderstanding or a bad decision he made under dramatic circumstances. The obvious stating of the fact throws him off a bit.

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"If you still want to talk," he clarifies seeing Kyros's expression. "It's totally fair if you don't."

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He shakes it off. He should give Ben a chance. It's not like anyone here is innocent, and his previous reasoning about how serious the crime could possibly be still holds. And Ben seems like he needs a friend, and the link thing is interesting, and Kyros just wants to.

"No, no, it's okay," he mumbles distracted, and then looks up with a smile. "Um, is my backstory fair game?"

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"Sure," Ben confirms, pleasantly surprised.

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"My sister was dying and way too low on any healer's list to be saved in time, so I grabbed her mind and put it into some nanobots instead. Cause, like, if she doesn't like it she can still go and die, but if she doesn't like being dead, she can't go back from that, right?"

It's kind of nice to be telling Ben about it; the reactions of other prisoners ranged from "ugh, nerd stuff" to "that is kind of messed up, you're not gonna do anything to my brain, right?"; knowing someone can't judge him is relaxing.

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"Nanobots?"

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"Yeah, the teeny tiny robots? I was doing an apprenticeship on them, before I destroyed my life," he smiles bitterly.

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Confused blink.

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"Wow, you must have been here a long time." Or just wasn't interested in this particular topic before, because not everyone is interested in the same things as you, Kyros. Although it's still weird, he felt like it popped up in the newspapers a lot. "Sorry, nothing wrong with that. They are basically really small robots, so small they could do things to single cells in your body. They were mostly teaching healers about them before, since they already know things about the human body and just need to find out about controlling the bots, but my mentor really wanted to experiment with apprentices from different backgrounds in his next batch, and so they took me! I was doing other stuff before, with cars and once or twice even some normal robots, and I was allegedly really good at, like, understanding some kinds of principles? So they recommended me for the nano program, and I was... less good at that. Not hopeless, but... Still not sure it was the right thing," he sighs and shrugs. "And then the thing with my sister happened and I'm here!"

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Ben listens with focus. The parts about mentors, recommendations, and Kyros's personal experience seem to engage him more than the technology itself.

"How long are you in for?"

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Kyros sighs.

"Twenty. Some charges added up, and I was not really lucky with the judge," he pauses. "But it's okay! I thought it would be much worse here," he adds with what seems to be genuine conviction.

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"That's some admirable attitude, you should teach me sometime," Ben smiles.

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 At this point the signal for the end of time outside sounds and the prisoners begin to head back inside.

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"See you around?" He says casually as they head towards the group.

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"Sure!" Ben answers enthusiastically, and suddenly notices his usual wariness of everything is gone in this particular interaction. "Uh, if you don't get in too much trouble with everyone else for this chat, I mean."

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Kyros waves his hand.

"It was really fun chatting with you, it might be worth it."

He smiles and is gone into the crowd.

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Over the next week they talk some more when their schedules align. Ben reveals himself to have an impressively detailed knowledge of the center's library collection, to the point he summarizes half the plot of one of the books he's pitching before Kyros realizes what's happening.

There is a bit more pushing in Kyros's life now, and even the friendly neighbour slowly stops attempting to defend his actions as mere confusion. Still, it's not serious yet, or so he tells himself. Kyros spends some time each evening trying to extract the positives of the situation. He's becoming tougher. At least he's not actually getting hurt (yet?). Ben seemed pretty lonely before. Ben's smile when he sees him is sort of adorable. The invisible link topic is intriguing and a good long-term goal to focus on. Yes, it's very important he has something long-term to look forward to; this argument seems to do it.

And then the long term suddenly becomes much, much longer.

 

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Normally these days Kyros would head straight to Ben's table during a meal and starting a conversation, but today he just flops onto the nearest bench, basically drops the tablet on the table and stares at it without touching the food.

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Ben raises an eyebrow and, somewhat reluctantly, leaves his strategic anti-attention seat to approach Kyros.

"Hey, you okay?"

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He looks up.
"Yeah, I... I mean, I will be. Just have to process..." He swallows, then takes a deep breath. "It's not twenty years anymore. I'm here for life."

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"W-what?" Ben asks, shocked, and fights the urge to grab Kyros's shaking hand in a gesture of support.

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"They took me to an extra hearing yesterday, without announcing anything, I didn't even know you could do that. Some overzealous young law student was reviewing the case and figured that actually, I was not caught performing a successful ritual on consciousness, I was caught performing a ritual and there was a dead body next to me. They made a case I killed her. I'm here for life."

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Ben's speechless for a moment.

"You... And your sister, she didn't show up to say she's not dead?"

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"No... But it's not her fault, I don't even know what they would do if they got their hands on her. And she might not even know, I didn't get the chance to explain anything."

He puts his head in his hands.

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