Creatures of the Void
Chapter One


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          Sometimes I wonder: when was it that you became self-aware?

          I imagine that everyone has a time when they're not so, just acting on their own instincts. They still think and speak, but they haven't become... sentient yet. The idea itself is hard to explain, mainly because for most people it happened at birth. Two or three years, but even when you're twice that age you don't remember much of it. During those years, no actual thought independent from basic human instincts.

          The moment comes when you think, "Wow! I just realized. I exist! I'm sentient! I know what I'm doing, I'm in control of my physical life!" In general people don't yet have the words to say it, because for them it happens when they're still toddlers.

          For me it happened when I was punching a tree.

          My name is Steve, and I'm probably not that old. As far as I can remember I just... sort of... existed. There was no entry, no welcoming, no memory, there's just a certain point past which I cannot remember. I broke down a block on a tree and it collapsed into my hands. I did it again. Then I did it again. I'd gone through three whole trees when I woke up. I realized what I could do, I stopped acting on instinct, and I crafted. I made planks and sticks, I made a little house, I felt safe.

          But what else could I do?

          I didn't even wonder how I knew it. Call it instinct. Again. I went back out to the forest, chopped tree after tree with my bare hands. I twisted planks into a workbench, I made signs and stairs, slabs and tools, things to build with. Before I knew it I was done, and I stepped outside my shelter.

          Surrounding my smansion (small mansion I guess, I made up the word on the spot) was a forest, standing tall and proud, three types of trees dotting the landscape. The house stood on the top of a small incline about three blocks higher than the rest of the plains it stood on. It faced a break in the forest, which led out to a beach and ocean blue, so far out it could go on forever.

          The sun sank a little lower in the sky, but I had plenty of day left. I'd only made an axe out of wood so far, quickly fashioned to make quick work of the woods. What if I tried something else?

          My next move was a pickaxe. As soon as I felt it in my hand, I knew this was my tool. I felt whole with this two-fingered extension of my arm. I took the axe in my right arm, my dominant hand, and held the pick in the other. I struck a long, narrow hole in the floor I'd made of the dark planks my mind told me to call Hure. With the Hure Planks in my inventory, I punched through dirt into stone after tossing my axe into said inventory.

          Can we just take a moment to imagine the blessing that is an inventory? No backpack, no pockets, just a little opening in space and time I could store up to 36 items in. Up to 64 objects in a stack of some items, 16 of others, and then the ones with durability which took up a whole slot-

          I gasped. My mind had been addled. I remembered standing in the five-block-deep depression at the end of my little staircase for a long time. My brain had been woven through lines of code, and I hated it. I was drawn out of the world and information was forced into my mind.

          I'd been enlightened by some higher power. I could identify some blocks at a glance. Someone had given me information, I now knew what was around me, some of what was in my immediate past, and I could predict what was in my future-

          my future

          Night. Darkness. It was happening. At the exact moment. I switched out the items in my hands and frantically dug at the black, crumbly mineral coal beneath my feet. There was more, so much more. At least five chunks. I grabbed them quickly and rubbed them on the end of sticks until the sticks caught fire. Dirt replaced the missing blocks I'd mined below me. I ran up.

          I saw through the window the sun sink behind the ocean.

          I stuck up torches on my walls, upstairs, everywhere. Nothing would get in, I'd keep them off.

          But my confidence was replaced by a primal fear, something deep inside me, like when I was still mindless.

          And the mindless rose.

          Zombies seemed to phase into existence, along with their ranged skeleton counterparts. Leafy green things with the most pitiful face of misery grew into existence. Giant spiders burst from nowhere. What was once a peaceful clearing now became a war zone, and I was the other side.

          The torches kept some off, but I heard a painfully loud hiss as one of the enormous arachnids peeked through my window. Its pixelated face read pain and anger. All of my instincts came back to me.

          They told me to run.

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