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Friendship before Fear

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~Part I~


Brine squid #1134 drifted lazily in the sun-dappled shallows. It explored sand banks and seaweed forests. It found milk lobsters and ran from axolotls. Life was simple, peaceful, calm. Brine squid #1134 had seen everything about its lake, from the sloped banks to the dangling roots of the nearby oak. But one day, it saw something completely out of the ordinary.
1134 was chasing a small, brown cod, when suddenly there was an explosion. Bubbles stung its face; muffled screams pierced its ears. Laugher and Players’ taunts rang from the beach. Blinking through the disturbed water, 1134 saw two shining lights, and a cloud of dark hair. A Player had been pushed off the dock and into the lake, and they needed help. 1134 pushed aside the worry of being slaughtered for ink sacs and shoved its tentacle through the slowing commotion of limbs. The other Players receded, sure that the brine squid would drown their victim. With a firm grip on the struggling Player’s leg, 1134 dragged them and itself to the nearest shore. It pushed them up onto the sand as far as it could reach. It heard coughing and sputtering, and knew the Player was alive. 1134 surfaced to see them sitting up, looking towards the water for who had saved them. When the Player turned to 1134, the squid saw that the twin white lights were the Player’s glowing eyes.
1134 ducked under the water. Having glowing eyes could mean the player was dangerous. Glowing Eyes said something in Player, then stopped and laughed. The laugh did not sound evil or angry, so 1134 resurfaced and looked up at Glowing Eyes, in hopes they would find a way to communicate. Glowing Eyes thought for a moment, then tapped 1134 gently. It retreated in surprise, then when Glowing Eyes didn’t pull out a sword, it returned.
“Hello?” Glowing Eyes said. 1134 was too stunned to speak. They could understand Glowing Eyes?! “My name is Herobrine.”
“Hello…” 1134 said, unsure if this Herobrine person could understand it. Herobrine’s eyes glowed brighter, and they began to jump up and down happily. “It worked! We can understand each other! Can you understand what I’m saying?!”
1134 nodded. ‘Herobrine’ was speaking Player, and 1134 could understand? This was amazing. “I’m…” 1134 started. It didn’t feel right to call itself Brine Squid #1134. “I’m Squiddo!”
Herobrine laughed. “That’s a fitting name for a squid! Why did you save me?”
Squiddo thought for a moment. “…I don’t know. But you owe me, ‘Herobrine’!”
“Oh yeah? At least I’m not confined to a little lake!”
“I bet you’ve never seen a milk bucket turn into a lobster!”
“Or a skeleton fight a zombie!”
“Or a player misspell ‘Finn’!”
Squiddo and Herobrine argued good-naturedly until the sun went down, laughing and splashing each other. They didn’t notice it was nighttime until a skeleton shot Herobrine in the back and they almost fell into the lake. “See you tomorrow!” they called, running and dodging arrows to make it to wherever they were going.
Day after day they talked until the sky turned red and purple and gold, Squiddo taught them how to swim, and Herobrine taught it how the dry world works. Squiddo showed them the underwater world, and Herobrine showed it the little magic they had developed. One day, Herobrine ran down to the shore holding a pair of salmon-colored glasses. They ran to Squiddo, and almost broke the glasses in their excitement.
“Put these on!” they yelled.
“But I’m a brine squid… I can’t wear glasses.” Squiddo replied, confused. Herobrine grinned.
“Just hold them to your face!” Herobrine urged. Squiddo nodded, wrapping a tentacle around an edge, and pressing the glasses to its eyes. It suddenly felt dizzy. It fell deeper into the lake, and floated there, recovering. Then there was a pulsing pain in its chest, and a need to swim to the surface. It obliged and gasped in air. It was a Player. Really a Player! It reached the shore and tried to run to Herobrine to tell them how grateful it was, but it fell halfway. Herobrine helped it up, laughing.
Over the passing weeks, Squiddo learned about Player things, like pronouns (Herobrine used he/him and Squiddo she/her), walking, and inventories. Every day Squiddo was more confident, stronger, and happier. The sunlight seemed brighter, the water warmer, the grass greener.
Squiddo saw the sun right overhead, and startled. It was almost time to meet with Herobrine! She swam to the bank he always came to and put on her glasses. She walked into the shade of the oak tree he had taught her to climb with and settled on the very sand she had dragged him to when he had almost drowned. She lay back in the sand and waited. After a while she fell asleep (still a new concept to her). Squiddo waited until the sun went down, but Herobrine never came. Squiddo sat through another day, but eventually had to return to the lake out of hunger. Now every day he didn’t come the sunlight was dimmer, the water colder, the grass duller. The turn of seasons was not like this, with the tang of loss and sadness in the air. Squiddo kept the glasses on almost all the time, fishing for food instead of returning to hungerless brine squid form. Finally, she decided to leave her home. Now that she knew what having a friend was like, she couldn’t let it go.
Turning away from this water that had shown her heaven and watched her lose it, she gripped her fists and broke the tree she had memories under. She made a pickaxe and shoved aside the sand that had seen everything happen. She slaughtered the cobblestone that had kept her world rooted into place. She fled all she knew, leaving only curiosity, a void to fill with love and hate and blocks and Players and new friends.
And she forgot. She left all memories of her old life behind. She forgot being a brine squid. She taught herself that she’d always been a Player.


~Part II~
A new life

After many days and many sleepless nights, Squiddo reached a taiga forest thick with houses. They were not villager houses. She stared in wonder at a huge pixel art of some glowing-eyed skeleton, explored empty houses and cold rooms.
“Hey!” A voice startled her out of wandering through a huge building labeled ‘IKEA’. “Who are you?”
“I’m Squiddo.” Squiddo replied with utmost confidence. “Who are you?”
A Player stepped out of the shadows. They were yellow from head to blocky toe, and had incomprehensible writing splattered on their torso. “I’m Bill.” They said.
“What is this place?” Squiddo queried, in utter confusion at the world around the two of them.
“Welcome to Sans County!” Bill proclaimed.
“S-Sans? Like sand??” Squiddo was now more confused.
“No! Like the skeleton!” Bill laughed at her ignorance.
After a lengthy explanation, Bill offered to let her stay in an empty plot of land they had. Squiddo agreed, and began cutting down trees, mining, crafting… she felt like a real Player! At one point she wondered if she’d respawn if she died, but she shoved away the notion. Maybe respawning was an option but dying was unfavorable either way. Squiddo met Bill’s friends, and she quickly joined the group. One day, they were sitting around a fire, telling ghost stories of creepy glitches and terrifying mobs.
“And in the Farlands, the world is floating in huge chunks! If you break a single block, it all comes tumbling down around you!” Shado finished. Everyone laughed at the notion of the stone and dirt falling like sand or gravel. Then, someone told a story about Herobrine.
“He has glowing eyes, and he torches villages for fun! He can join singleplayer worlds and glitch them so that the player is dying and respawning forever!”
Squiddo felt a churning in her stomach. “I have to go.” She mumbled, and ran into the night, the glow of the fire flickering farther and farther away. She held her glasses to her face, worried she would lose her only physical trace of her only friend. Her eyes were closed against the whipping branches and tears threatening to form, but once she saw a searing firelight ahead, she opened them. The crackling blaze made the automatically generated village bright as day. Ashes swirled around fleeing villagers, making Squiddo cough. Who was destroying this place? She blinked and saw a silhouette floating against the flames. They turned, and Squiddo saw that they, no, he. Herobrine. Had glowing eyes. Herobrine turned away, not seeing and killing her. But Squiddo knew, if they ever met again, he would.