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Aug 09, 2020 7:38 AM
Ben and Kyros on the run, or: I Got Very Attached To My AI Dungeon Game
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"Kyros, I'm so sorry."

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"No, no, it's okay, I will... I'm sure there is something good about this life, I just have to find it. I'll be fine," he assures and manages a weak smile.

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Ben thinks for a moment. Should he leave Kyros to his delicately balanced optimism? Is it a good thing to try to see the positive sides of the situation or is it a lie stopping him from making the situations better? He can't decide right now.

"I hope you will," he confirms and, after a moment of silence adds, a bit uncertain: "I'm here for you?".

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A few hours later Kyros is not fine yet; in fact, he is even less fine than before, having taken his first proper beating from some inmate he accidentally offended with his sole existence. He hobbles towards Ben in the yard.

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"Told you I'm a bad idea," he points out with a bitter smile, but changes he's expression at Kyros's frown of pain. "I'm so sorry. They got you good, huh? Can I do anything, do you need help?"

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Kyros shakes his head.

"I think it's just temporary. Can you... Ahh!" He gestures at the bench hoping it will get the point across.

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He gets up right away and helps his friend sit down. They sit like that for a moment, until Kyros's breathing finally slows down and Ben makes a decision.

"Kyros... I know you are determined to stay positive and make your life here worth it, but... Have you thought about... Anything else?"

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"I can't appeal anymore. Or at least that's what the lawyer I talked to said, and I can't afford a better one anyway."

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"That's... not what I meant. I meant..." He looks around. "Leaving. Running. Escaping."

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He gives Ben a pained look.

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"I'm not gonna force you, and I do believe you when you say you can survive this," he continues. "But why survive this when you could have a life instead? There are places you can hide, there are cities with extradition laws so complex it takes the center months to even confirm you're there. It could be worth it for you."

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"But..." He stops, thinks for a moment. "If I go, it will mean cutting ties with everyone. I have friends outside. And I know they haven't been visiting much, but. It's something?"

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"Not at all, you mean," he replies and immediately covers his mouth with his hand. "Sorry, too harsh. Sorry."

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Kyros curls in on himself a little bit.

"No, you're right..." He's silent for a moment. "I guess as long as I'm here it's still an option, if an unlikely one. And if I go I'm giving it away, and that's... a lot."

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Around this part of the conversation Ben intended to offer himself as a fellow fugitive, but it feels wrong now, after criticizing Kyros's friends like that. Manipulative, perhaps.

"You would probably meet new people? I know it's hard when you have to lie about your past, but it must be possible!"

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Kyros looks away and considers this scenario. A simple life, working a job he's not hopeless at, hanging out with people who think he grew up on a farm somewhere and then tried his luck in the city or something similarly vague and unimportant. Coming home to... Wait.

"You're probably asking because you want to come too, right?"

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"I would love to," He answers in a small voice and prepares for his pitch. "I know a thing or two about prison breaks, and where to go next, and..."

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"Cool, just checking," Kyros replies distractedly, suddenly focused entirely on his somewhat idealized vision of a fugitive life. The second part of the sentence only hits him a moment later and he grins. "Wait, you have run before?"

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In hindsight it's kind of obvious Kyros would ask after this pitch. Ben still curses himself for it.

"Not very successfully, as you can see," he gestures vaguely at the prison around them. "I'm... good at getting out, less good at what comes after. And you seem like you would be good at that?" He smiles back.

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"Maybe? I can try."

His smile grows more confident and he looks around to see if any guards are paying attention to them. Once he ensures they are in private, he raises his finger asking Ben to wait, closes his eyes, and seems to focus on something.

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He raises his eyebrows, but waits obediently.

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Kyros reaches inside himself with his thoughts. He searches for the bots inside his body, who have now been asleep now for many weeks. He doesn't need all of them, just some; he grabs around in the darkness, feeling for their outlines, reestablishing the weakened links until something clicks and they are not just unknown shapes in the dark, but they are significantly a part of him.

And then he guides them out, easy like moving his own body. Few enough not to attract attention, but already visible to the naked eye when clustered.

"They missed those when they locked me here. My mentor was kind enough not to point out that all his apprentices have been bonding with some of those... Don't know why, maybe he thought I used them up for Nora--that's my sister--or maybe he was just being nice."

He gives Ben the widest smile as he shows him his index finger, on top of which he had the bots land. It's a tiny, but clearly visible shape, and when you look at it for more than a few seconds, you can see its silvery surface constantly shifting and reshuffling in some way just beyond your comprehension.

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Ben's expression is nothing short of enamored. He leans in, looking at the bots with fascination, but from time to time also glancing at Kyros like he's the most impressive person in the world.

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This sure feels nice. He kind of lost perspective on the fact that while he's not amazing at what he's doing, it's still impressive in comparison to most people's complete lack of knowledge on the subject.

He makes the bots reshape into a circle, then into a spiral, and then he closes his hand and they're gone.

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"Wow. That's the stuff you've been learning?"

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