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Aug 08, 2020 8:35 AM
Ben and Kyros on the run, or: I Got Very Attached To My AI Dungeon Game
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"To the... But you said you were a child, they- I'm so sorry," Kyros whispers, squeezing Ben's shoulder.

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"They thought I knew something. About other summoners, or maybe about my parents' methods, or- I don't know what they expected. But they were convinced I was some damn mine of information and that they just need to get me to talk, and they were so determined to get it out of my horrified 10-years-old self. The- the bad cop guy of the bad cop/good cop routine was... particularly devoted to his role. That would be the scars, I know you saw them, not the arm ones, but the rest. The arm ones was myself, later- But sorry, it's not about this."

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Kyros almost protests, no, Ben, this is more important, I'm so sorry, but stops himself. He does, however, move closer to Ben and gently puts his arms around him, his eyes asking for a permission.

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He nods and leans into Kyros, despite fully expecting to be pushed away immediately when they get to this next part.

"As time passed, I got really desperate. I tried pleading with them, convincing them I didn't know anything, I tried making things up, I tried running, and at some point- I tried you. I didn't know- I thought- I-" He takes a moment to calm down. "I had no idea about this whole summoning business, just some scraps of information the interrogators revealed when asking me things, and some memories of my parents that made sense in the context. So I started putting all that together, and then at some point I tried summoning. I figured- they all said demons were so horrifying and dangerous, and they were all against demons, so maybe- maybe a demon would help me? It made sense at the time, or at least as much sense as any of my other options."

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He nods emphatically, having now embraced Ben tighly and rocking very gently as he listens.

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"And it worked. Expect I didn't get a powerful, evil demon to wreak havoc upon my prison and my tormentors, I got a baby, a crying baby in my summoning circle in the middle of the night. Not only did I fail, but I brought another kid into this situation. I didn't know what I did wrong, I didn't know how to reverse it, and you were crying, and..." He hides his head between his knees. "A guard heard you and found us, and somehow it was a decent one, not decent enough to take the risk and help me out substantially, but one that took one look at you and said this is not an evil demon like they say, this is a newborn, and took you away, and I assume found you a family or an orphanage or something. Quit soon after, too."

He forces himself to look at Kyros, something he hasn't done during this entire conversation.

"So, that's the story."

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Kyros is completely shaken. He moves to be in front of Ben and gives him another, tighter hug.

"I'm so sorry, I'm sorry this happened, and I'm sorry for what I said about you summoning me, I'm so sorry," he repeats into Ben's shoulder.

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He was not particularly inclined to cry before, but he is now, tears flowing slowly down his cheeks. He knew at some point that the things that happened to him were bad, but then at some point he pushed it back, chose to ignore it both because he didn't want to think about it and because it would be justifying. Kyros reacting like this--came as a surprise. So did the physical contact, the most he got in two decades.

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They can stay like that for a while. Hugging. Crying. Kyros guides Ben to lie down and wraps himself around him thoroughly, so that every piece of their body that could be touching is.

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He doesn't know how much time passes, but at some point he's calmed down enough to ask:

"Do you have... any other questions about all of this?"

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"I do. But only if it's okay, I know this was a lot for you, it can wait," he assures him.

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"I think I can do it. Would rather get it over with," he smiles weakly.

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"I just keep wondering... How did you figure it out, that it was me? Yesterday, I mean."

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Ben freezes.

Oh no, he thought it was obvious, he assumed Kyros knew, but of course he wouldn't, it's bad and stupid and selfish to just assume the easiest scenario like that! But maybe it's not that bad? He thought the previous thing was awful, and would make Kyros hate him, and it didn't, so maybe it can still work? He closes his eyes.

"When I called for help, when the guard was choking me, that was a command, I saw it in our link when you obeyed. I didn't mean it like that, and I certainly didn't mean for the outcome, but somehow it counted and... You felt it, right? I mean, you were suddenly much stronger, and faster, and also you probably wouldn't have ki- wouldn't have done it of your own free will. I made you. I didn't know it would force you to do anything, and definitely not that, but it was all my fault. I'm sorry."

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"You-" He sits up rapidly, as if burned. His face is pale. "You can make me do things?"

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"Yes. That's basically the whole deal about summoning, isn't it? But I swear I wouldn't, I didn't mean it back then and now that I know it can be triggered so easily, I can be even more careful. I promise."

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"But you could make me do anything? And I couldn't do anything about it, my body would just... do it, like back then? And maybe not even the thing you meant, maybe something extreme that achieves the same goal, like back there?"

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He's looking down, not daring to meet Kyros's eyes. "Yes."

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He curls up again, like he did back in prison, although this time in an upright position. His breathing is loud and rapid.

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He has no idea what to do. "Kyros, I will swear on anything you choose that I won't do it to you."

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"That's not enough, that could never be enough, how dare you even!" He shouts, then curls up tighter. "S-sorry. But it's true, I don't know how I could live knowing someone out there could show up on my doorstep and make me go on a killing spree, or have me torture people, or... It's not about you, I don't think there is anyone in the world I could trust with that."

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"What if I went back to prison? Gave myself up, surely they would put me somewhere more secure now that my last escape involved killing a guard." At this point he's not thinking about what exactly they would do to him, just about ways to make Kyros less horrified. Would be worth it anyway. "Couldn't get to you even if I changed my mind."

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No, Ben, you can't- There surely are trade-offs he will have to accept in this situation, but does it have to be this one? He quickly rationalizes up a rejection of this one, at least for now.

"And if they ask what happened to me, and how you killed the guard? What if they make you talk, and find out about me, and make you make me do something even worse?" He sighs, resigned. "I take it there is no way to just... break it? The control?"

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"No, I don't-" He starts and then pauses as a memory from his early years in prison suddenly flashes before his eyes. Not his own interrogation, but one of an adult summoner going on in a cell next to his. "There might be."

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He relaxes slightly and gives Ben a hopeful look.

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