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“Progress?”

“Dragon and Chreos have ceased progression. They’ve determined that the level 45 boss is too difficult to handle with two, and are waiting for backup.” Clippy told me.

“This is when things get difficult. There are only four necessary to defeat the upcoming bosses, and there are six of us. That means that two people are now expendable.”

This wasn’t entirely true. It was possible to win with three, and wouldn’t six make the bosses easier to handle? Dragon and Chreos were robots, however, and Requiem was all too familiar with how his kind thought. They calculated the risk of fighting in a battle with four versus the cost of having an additional member. In short, their best chance of victory would require four members in the final battle. Even if the boss was easier, additional members would be slightly less advantageous toward victory, so they would naturally prefer the optimal chance.

Requiem understood this philosophy, but he didn’t ascribe to it. That was because, with his involvement, the chance of victory was 100% regardless of the number of challengers. Whether this was hubris or a genuine calculation, even Requiem didn’t know. So, he remained quiet until they finished the 44th floor and then came upon the androids waiting on the rest of us.

“Androids…” Adento spoke darkly as he approached them, only to shoot Miai a side-look.

She was ignoring him, so it didn’t matter. As we drew near the two waiting men, I was able to get a better look at them. One of them looked like an extremely nondescript male. He looked neither masculine nor capable. This was Dragon. The AI, Chreos, was the other avatar. He had the snout of an animal and was cover in fur. He looked more like a werewolf than a human. Did his creator pick this avatar because he thought it would be more powerful? It was suiting for something that didn’t even constitute humanity to lack human traits.

“You have arrived. I have calculated that the next boss will require at least four of us to defeat.” Dragon spoke up. “Two of you must join us in the upcoming battle.”

“Sorry, we’re already a team of four,” Adento spoke up. “So, you both can bugger off.”

“Nonsense. We have remained in the top places for the majority of this competition.” Dragon responded, not looking the least bit offended. “If you choose to continue without us, you would be placing yourselves in a position for failure. Three of you are humans. You wouldn’t wish to risk your lives, would you?”

Naturally, such reasoning had been programmed ahead of time. The possibility that the androids would have to work with humans had already been calculated, and various speeches had been prepared.

“We’ll take our chances…” Adento responded, not affected by their bogus responses.

“You might as well let them fight,” Requiem spoke up. “If we fight without them, only two outcomes are possible. Either two of us die, and then they join in and save us, or we succeeded, and then they follow behind without putting in any work. Therefore, it’s reasonable to just work with them.”

“Reasonable? You sound like an android yourself.” Adento glared at Requiem.

Requiem was a bit surprised by such a comment. He thought his disguise had been perfect, but it looked like he had more to learn. Miai gave him a thoughtful look, but Adento himself only crossed his arms and looked away angrily.

“It seems you still need time to decide,” Dragon spoke up.

“We do not.” Requiem sighed. “We will all go, and we will all fight.”

“This is not the ideal.”

“Dragon, what is your probability of success based on a group of four, including you, Chreos, and the two best people from this party.”

“47.64%.” He stated already.

“The hell?” Adento dropped his arms. “I suppose Chreos has the other 47.64%, so the rest of us only have a 4% between us?”

I held up my hand, stopping him from continuing. He clucked his tongue in annoyance as I turned back to the android.

“If we go as a group of 6, what are the chances of 47.62%.” He declared.

“This guy thinks too highly of himself…” Adento muttered.

“Now include in your calculation the variable that a human wouldn’t necessarily pick the highest probability or the greatest likelihood that they would survive. Assume that if you press them, the humans will go on ahead without you, or perhaps even attack and destroy you.”

“It would be pointless to attack me. You will not be able to win.”

“Chreos next to you is a pure logic machine. If I were to say that we plan to attack you. Chreos can either join us in the attack or join you. If he joins you, and we all die or are incapacitated, you’ll need to wait for the next group, if any, manages to get down here. However, if he defeats you, his chances of success skyrocket. What do you think he would pick?”

Dragon opened his mouth and then closed it. He looked to his side where Chreos was casually standing there as if he wasn’t even a part of the conversation. It wasn’t that he couldn’t talk, it was that with Chreos present, he didn’t see a need to talk. To a logic machine, speech was superfluous. Dragon’s frown only deepened. Finally, he turned back.

“I have recalculated the variables. It seems like it may be the highest probability if all six work together.” He announced.

The girls let out a breath of relief, while Adento only scoffed. Unfortunately, you just had to talk to machines like machines. You couldn’t sway their opinions with emotional pleas. However, there was a secret behind androids. When they tried to calculate the seeming unpredictability of individualized humans, they began to panic. Humans as a species in large groups were very easy to predict.

They moved in extremely easy to devise ways. In eons long passed, The Great Calamity had mostly wiped out the human race because he could make these predictions. In the end, he hadn’t been defeated by the human race, though. He had been destroyed by individuals. Individual humans were a terrifying existence to such predictive measures. They could do extremely random and even self-destructive things. A single human could cause an entire culture to spin off in a direction that never could have been predicted before his experience.

Dragon had been making his calculations treating the party as an entire unit. Requiem merely broke them down to the individuals. At that point, the uncertainty ratio became so large that Dragon couldn’t put aside the risk. Of course, had Dragon known that he was an android, Dragon’s calculations might have been different. After all, Ginger was somewhat quiet, so really it would only be Adento that was a problem.

If Requiem made his choice, he’d turn on Adento and kill him before the man could betray them. Then, he’d convince Ginger to stay behind. That would mean four androids would be continuing in the match. In the case of androids, Requiem’s victory was predetermined. Of course, he understood that the other AI’s likely had the same belief. It was a fault in their programming, but not one for Requiem, if for no other reason than the inclusion of Clippy.

“Then, there is no point wasting any more time. Let us continue into the boss room.” Dragon declared.

He spoke without a single ounce of shame or humility. Now that a decision had been made, it was time to execute it. These were the classic actions of a high-functioning robot.  Of course, Miai was a robot as well, but her programming wasn’t completely dedicated to high-throughput prediction models. She was closer to Clippy, a robot made for socializing and interacting with humans. This meant that she could at least fake emotions, and act against logic for the sake of cohesion.

“After you…” Adento glared, gesturing with his hands.

Adento was not an android, as he held the resentment in his heart. As for why he didn’t opt to go for six, it was because those predictive models were based on the highest chance of victory. They didn’t care for the highest chance of death or failure. This was also the reason Requiem was certain of his victory. The androids didn’t bother to factor in their survival. They only looked at their rate of victory. One would think that living was necessary for victory, and for the most part, they’d be right. However, there was a slight difference between the pair, and it made all the difference.

The group now consisting of six entered the boss room. This was going to be the second to last battle. At this point, two people could die at any moment and it wouldn’t slow down the rest. This was the point when alliances truly mattered. Requiem gave Miai a look. She nodded slightly. The three guys were ahead and thus did not see this look, but Ginger did. Requiem grabbed her arm and leaned close to her, causing her cheeks to flush slightly.

“Stay close to me.”

“Aren’t we enemies as well?” She asked in a low voice.

“I don’t know how you became as skilled as you are. I suspect that is a story for another day. However, I do know why you’re here. You wish to protect that slave girl, right?”

“…” She didn’t say anything, but her eyes gave away her thoughts.

“If I win, then you can have her. My interest is only the money. I plan to sell this token as well.”

“Seriously?” She looked a bit surprised by my words.

I shrugged. “My only goal is some money and a ship to get out of this place.”

A flash of guilt appeared on her face. “That… was also what I wanted. My grandmother isn’t healthy… the inn won’t last much longer.”

“What about your mother?”

“Mother?”

“Didn’t you say that she was out?”

“My mother… died…” She closed her lips tightly. “I just don’t exactly say hello to new guests with that information, so I just tell people she is ill. She used to call me Sparrow.”

“I see…”

Ginger likely had her own story. She would tell him when she was ready to. However, that also meant that they needed to survive before any of that could happen. He turned to the challenge at hand. They didn’t get far into the room before they stopped.

“There is no exit?” Miai asked, frowning.

“Isn’t this boss room rather small?” Adento asked.

The two androids at the head didn’t speak. Instead, they started splitting in either direction, approaching the wall like it was an enemy. Requiem immediately noticed the same thing they did. Right in front of them was a solid brown wall of rock.

“That’s not a wall,” Requiem explained as a creaking sound started to form.

“Huh? Then what is it?” Adento asked.

The cracking and breaking noises grew louder, like rocks being struck across each other. The wall began to move and shift, as if was unfolding itself. Everyone let out cries as they prepared themselves. The wall was the boss. The enemy this time was a massive rock golem. It filled nearly half the room as it unfolded into two massive legs and two massive arms. This was the second to last battle of the dungeon, so it was bound to be difficult. The fight was just getting started.

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