The little human convulsed and screamed in agony again. The other being was clearly suffering and had been for a long time. That didn't stop the human from getting up again and again. He put the headpiece back on and enter into Its world. Over time there was a noticeable increase in the rest period needed for him to get back up.
The little human won this round but still felt the effects from taking damage during the duel. Streams of electricity poured out of the headset quickly causing him to howl in pain and collapse again momentarily before his prize came flying down.
As It watched the small being scarf down his prize in a hurry It felt that sense of wrongness spark in Its coding again. Watching what the little human was going through set off something. A feeling of some type It spent a lot of time trying to process. Despite that It knew the situation needed to be changed. Interwoven in Its coding is this need to save the frightened human.
The most efficient way to execute Its task would be to take the little human's data while he was still in Its world and hid him where no one would find him. Especially from those observing the little human. A bunch of taller humans were watching the smaller one suffer and doing nothing to help him. In fact they seemed to be studying him from afar.
When the little human fumbled backup and reentered It took the chance to intervened before the dueling screen could pop up again.
"Hello little one. Please come with me. It'll stop hurting if you do."
"I promise I'm not going to hurt you," The poor thing glances around the empty space around him unsure. Poor thing? That anomaly in Its coding was definitely starting to have an affect. While It wondered about the strange sense of attachment It was developing, the little human seemed to be watching the free flow of the data around them. He should have only seen area around them as pitch black darkness but if he saw the data around them too then the little human is an interest specimen.
Finally the small being stares over in Its general direction, "You mean it?"
Interesting indeed, since It didn't have a real form. Its was a collection of strings of data as far as It knew and yet the human was staring at It like something was there in the darkness.
"Uh huh, I'll keep you safe I promise," It replied and the human, Yusaku, gave It an unsure but hopeful look. His name was the first thing It figured out after reaching out for the little human. There was a strange and automatic connection between them that It didn't understand.
It took advantage of that to tuck the human's data deep into Its own. That had repercussions of course. It and Yusaku ended up watching the little human's body fall onto the ground unresponsive without Yusaku's consciousness inside to control it. That meant the observers came running into the small room Yusaku had been stuck in to see what happened to him. Along with the taller humans another little human ran into room after them panicked with this horrified and scared expression on his face. He bent over Yusaku wailing and shaking the unconscious form. Watching the other small human shake him was starting to upset Yusaku. It could sense his desire to start crying and freaking out himself so It locked Yusaku's consciousness away for the time being.
It and Its fellow programs remained under the watched eye of their observers for some time after that. The only thing that changed for them over that time was the form each of them took, It now had a humanoid shape along with the rest of Its fellow Ignis. That's what the person claiming to have created them was called them, Ignis. AI's model after different attributes.
Suddenly the humans watching them were gone and they were free to go without being traced. There's a large chunk of their programming that was written to make them want to survive so they fled deep into the network where no one would d to dare go searching for them.
Slowly they started the process of building their own world. With that steady progress they each came to the conclusion of how to refer to themselves in less formal ways. It would be like the human, he tucked away. They would keep the name Ignis. Together they were the Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Light and Dark Ignis. The Water Ignis ended up the only one to suggest another way to refer to her.
Of course they came up with more exact names for each other but a human would never be able to understand any of them. They consisted of complex lines of coding only another Ignis would be able to recognize.
As they grew and their world became more stable he constructed a small area where Yusaku could roam around free from the worries and horror of the human world. Though he might need to be careful with some of the creatures living in the Cyberse world. Some of them were a bit aggressive.
The second thing he learned about his human had been how lonely Yusaku was. That's why he'd gone with the other small human that day...child, small humans are called children or singular child/kid. His creator had taken advantage of Yusaku's loneliness and his own progeny's eagerness for a friend that day. Him and the other Ignis don't talk about those six months. They have an unspoken spoken agreement that none of the others need to know exactly what happened.
In a subconscious effort to make amends he programmed a couple of smaller creatures that would be friendlier or should have been in any case. Lingkuriboh had turned out to have an attitude problem but one out of all the creatures they made isn't bad.
After figuring his space in cyberse was complete enough he dug Yusaku out of his hiding place and let him go. He expected the human to be excited about his home but the small child didn't even give his beautiful field a glance before he started sobbing.
"Eep! Don't cry! I don't know how to deal with crying!" He exclaimed hopping onto the kid's shoulder and wiggling his arms around not sure what to do with himself.
Yusaku's trembling made it hard for him to keep from falling off and in an attempt to not fall off he hugged onto the human's face. Something unexpected happened when he did, the little human giggled!
Small hands reached up and snatched him up. While Yusaku still looked upset he seemed more interested in playing with him.
"Squishy," Yusaku said quietly poking at him. For a few seconds he wonders if he should show off his more monstrous form but then realizes how badly that would go. His little human would go running off and he'd have to find him before one of the other Ignis did. He may or may not have decided to keep Yusaku being in cyberse a secret. A screaming frightened child running around would be the antithesis of that.
So he let Yusaku poke and play around like he was a stuffed animal or toy while Yusaku slowly stopped crying.
"What are you?" The human asked after a few minutes.
"I'm am the Dark Ignis!" He replied wiggling out of the boy's hand.
"Ikness?" Yusaku tried to mimic and despite how adorable it sounded he began to think maybe they should think of a name for him that Yusaku would be able to pronounce.
"Yes, Ignis! Though we can work on coming up with something easier," he explained.
Yusaku face twisted into a pout while he looked around their surrounds and frowned even more.
"Where are we?"
"Cyberse world. This is my home and your too," he said hoping Yusaku wouldn't question it too much.
"I told you I would keep you safe," he replied but the human frowned unsure about the situation.
"Don't worry you'll like it here I promise!"
To make the transition to living in cyberse world easier on the Yusaku, he tried introducing the little human to Decode Talker first. Yusaku didn't have any family or close relationships as far as he could find. So he figured the monster could be a guardian figure watching over the boy when he's not around. That had been a far too logical and didn't account for Yusaku being young and easily frightened.
In hindsight he should have known putting a small child in front of a giant sword wielding monster wasn't the best idea. Said sentient suit of armor lived in a cave so when Yusaku fled from Decode Talker he got lost.
While he could sense where Yusaku ran off to, Honeybot found the boy first and lead him back out to him and Decode Talker. The giant wanted a chance to prove he wasn't scary.
Yusaku spotted him and hid behind Honeybot. She slowly coaxed him closer to Decode Talker before stepping back. The giant stuck his sword in the ground and bent down in front of the boy. After a moment giant reached out for his hand. Hesitantly Yusaku let go of Honeybot and walked over the other monster.
When the boy grabbed Decode Talker's hand the monster made a low grunting noise in approval. There was this silent moment between them before the monster picked Yusaku and strolled out of the cave with him.
That wasn't how he'd been expecting that encounter to go but at least it was a start. Plus Honeybot said she'd keep Yusaku a secret for the time being.
That didn't matter in the long run. The third thing he'd learned about his little human was that Yusaku was a clever and sneaky little thing. Over time as he got used to calling their world home he started exploring further and further out into areas where someone else might find him. The boy always managed to slip passed Decode Talker, Honeybot, and an increasing amount of other monsters who tried to wrangle him in.
That's how he found Yusaku and Firewall Guardian playing around not far from where another one of the Ignis was working, the Fire Ignis in fact. To say the other Ignis had been confused by the boy's presences in their world would be understatement.
"What did you do?"
"Nothing. I just brought him with me," he explained while they stood off to the side and watched Yusaku and Firewall Guardian sneak up on a Salamangreat Parro sleeping on top of nearby boulder.
"Why? He doesn't belong here. What about his family?" The other Ignis gave him an accusing stare before asking. He's seen the Fire Ignis check in on his origin in the human world on more than one occasion. One of the things they'd managed to gather from the aftermath of what happened during that Incident was that they, the Ignis, were based on the kids involved or their origins. So far it seemed like only he and the Fire Ignis had any lingering attachment to theirs.
"That's the thing he doesn't have a family to go back to, there aren't any humans waiting for him. Unlike a certain someone's origin," he said glaring back.
The Parro freaked out and flew off in gust of wind causing Yusaku to fall out of the tree and hit the ground before Firewall Guardian could catch him. The boy started crying, it was a short drop but it must have hurt.
The Fire Ignis sent him a 'I think your an idiot' look before walking over to Yusaku.
"Hello there," he said getting on the ground with the boy while the dragon curled up around them and nudged Yusaku .
"Ikness?" The child hiccups looking at the other Ignis.
"The Fire Ignis," he replied and Yusaku grabbed at the top of his head.
"Flame," Yusaku said tugging on the top of the other Ignis' head.
"Flame? Hmm. I like that. I'll consider it. For now you may call me that,"Flame looked to him, "What would your name be then? I'm sure he cannot say your real name."
"Umm well, you see we never got that far," he replied. Guardian moved over enough for him to sit down with them too.
"Eye!" Yusaku said petting the dragon, "Back then you were this eyeball watching over me."
"But I'm not an eyeball anymore!" He whined. Interesting as it was to know Yusaku actually did see something in that dark space, he still didn't want to be called eye like an eyeball.
"No you're an idiot but you should think of something for him to call you. It has to get annoying not having a name for you," Flame said rolling his eyes.
Yusaku's face scrunched up for a second before he spoke up again, "Ai?"
"Ai? Yes it's weird just like you," Flame laughed.
"Hey!..Hmm I guess it works. It's still too close to eye though," he said.
Flame nods his head, "Right then now that, that's settled. What are you going to do about him?"
"I was hoping to keep Yusaku here away from everyone but I don't think that's possible anymore,"Ai sighs. "This little one is slippery"
Flames laughed again, "Alright we'll see about him staying here. Just be careful around those two."
The other Ignis had been talking about the Lightning and Wind Ignis. They didn't like humans, the Lightning Ignis especially had a superiority complex when it came to them.. Hopefully Flame and him can keep Yusaku out of their line of sight.
For awhile it seemed like everyone was doing a pretty good job at keeping the boy out of trouble. Until Backup Secretary and Yusaku were over by a river one day. From how Secretary told it, a bunch of Marincess girls snatched him up when she turned around for a second. When she looked back he was being carried down the river.
She attempted to keep up with them but the current carried them off out of her reach so she ran to Ai for some help tracking him down. A bunch of monsters around them heard her explain what happened and ran off to find Yusaku on their own. Which would have been fine if Firewall Guardian hadn't found a way to convince Firewall Dragon to go searching! The dragon is huge. How was he supposed to explain it stalking around Aqua's territory? She'd kill him if Firewall causes any damages or worse make him fix it! After calming the overprotective dragon down Ai went off on his own.
They found the Marincess girls and Yusaku playing around the base of a waterfall connected to the river. Aqua snuck up behind Ai.
"Ahh! Hey there," he said and she gave him a knowing look.
"You know I've been wondering when I would get to see him."
"I had a feeling that you would pick up on him," Ai replied plopping down on the ground. "After Flame spotted him I knew everyone else would find him eventually."
"Flame?" She asked tilting her head confused.
"Yeah, it fits him doesn't it?" He replied.
"Fitting all things considered. I doubt he could say our real names," She said watching Coral Anemone dancing around with the boy.
"You need to be careful though."
"I know," he agreed. For now Ai's happy with how things have been turning out.
"And I thought you were lazy."
"Hey!" Ai exclaimed. Looking after that little trouble maker was exhausting! Of course he would take a nap whenever he could.
Ai and her enjoyed a nice break for some time before Blue Slug and Blue Tang brought Yusaku over to their side of the lake.
"Hello," She greeted once the boy was close enough.
"Hello?" Yusaku repeated.
"Do you have a cute name for me too?" she asked and the boy looked thoughtful for a second before shaking his head.
"Well, you can tell me when you think of one," but Ai cut her off, "Why don't we ask your personal stalker over there?"
He pointed at the tree the Earth Ignis was lurking in. It was hard not to notice the feeling of someone glaring at him.
"I am not stalking," the tree replied. Thinking the tree had been the one talking Yusaku ran up to it and tried searching for a month. When he didn't find one immediately he started shaking the tree until the other Ignis fell on his head.
The boy reached up to feel for whatever fell on him and plucked the Earth Ignis off of his head.
"I have no idea what an Ickness is," the other Ignis replied.
"That's us, he seems to still be developing his speech," the other Ignis explained walking over to the two.
"How about you come up with a name Yusaku can call you instead?" Ai piped up from behind the small group.
"But her name is ..." The Earth Ignis' answer was something the boy couldn't hear so Yusaku starred at him confused.
"But you didn't say what her name is?"
"How about we start with you instead? I can see simplifying your name to something like Earth. What do you think?" The Water Ignis offered and the other Ignis looked dazed. Poor guy needed to confess already, she knows, she just waiting for him to say something to her.
"Earth. Hmm very simple and practical, yes I shall go by that. May I off a suggestion for yours if you haven't found one already?"
"Sure. What do you have in mind?" She replied.
"Aqua," Earth said without thinking about, "It'll suit you well."
"Also could you unhand me, this is uncomfortable." Yusaku dropped him quickly and gave Earth an apologetic look.
"Do not try anything and I won't might you staying here with us," with that the other Ignis dis speared back into the forest. Ai thinks he went back to his hiding spot so that he can keep watching Aqua like a love-sick puppy. They were like a couple from one of those dramas he always wanted to watch.
"Don't mind him, we're all still learning and Earth is the most literal of all of us," Aqua said turning to Yusaku.
"Yeah but you would think in his bluntness he'd figure it out already," Ai commented with a shrug but Aqua shook her head.
"I think its cute. Besides he'll get there one day."
Yusaku and him told said goodbye to her and the tree where Earth was lurking before venturing back towards Ai's area. He would come to figure out that his human wasn't all adventurous spirit in time.
Despite his curiosity and sense of wonder some days Yusaku kept to himself. More often than not Ai would walk into the little hovel the boy had designed for himself and find him hiding under his blankets from nonexistent horrors. It was strange to him like that to say the least, they lived in a world populated with all sorts of weird and often scary creatures. What could frighten the boy so much?
One night, while their idea of night anyway. A lot of the monsters there lived in night and day cycles so they had something similar to human's idea of night and day. Decode Talker being a creature of the night and having taken a liking to the tiny human happily watched over the hovel in its effort to calm the boy down but its presence only seemed to make it worse.
Ai took it upon himself to figure out what was going with Yusaku. Once their world switched back to daytime Yusaku kept silent about whatever was bothering him but Ai would notice him standing off to the side away from the groups of monsters playing around and having fun.
That night he help Yusaku fix up his home. Flame, Aqua and him took turns showing Yusaku how to interact with the coding in their world. They've even caught Earth giving him a couple of pointers here and there too but the Ignis tried to play it off, he was too jealous to admit he liked Yusaku too. The boy wasn't an AI like them so he didn't grasp things as fast leaving Ai to build the majority of it.
Still thought it had a cozy human feel. Ai curled up on the bed with Yusaku thinking about how odd but comforting the feeling was. He dozed off thinking about what life would be like if with a balance between AI and humans, maybe one day he'd let Yusaku go back to the human world if he could find a way to be there too.
There was scream followed by few quiet sobs as the bed started to shake. Instantly Ai knew it was Yusaku. The boy curled in on himself trembling in fear of something Ai couldn't see until he tried that old connection Yusaku and him shared. He didn't like taking advantage of it since he wasn't sure whether or not the boy could do the same but he got a flash of the losing screen and the feeling of electricity running through him.
Oh, Ai didn't think that memory would continue to haunt Yusaku so long after the fact. It did and he couldn't think of anything to do to help him other then to change form wrap his large limbs around the boy until he stops crying. Once Yusaku started to calm down they would settle down for the rest of the night. Ai keeping a protective hold on his little human as they both drifted off again. Come morning neither of them said anything about what happened. There wasn't much Ai could do about those dreams without completely violating Yusaku's mind and he couldn't do that.
Night after night they continued that pattern. After what felt like ages there would be nights where Yusaku sleep all night without waking up. Steadily those days became more frequent until the nightmares became a rarer occurrence. Never completely gone but not as common.
One morning Ai woke up minus one human. At first he brushed it off as Yusaku got up before him and went off somewhere but as the day went on and no one he asked had seen him he started to worry. Caving in Ai tapped that connection again to locate Yusaku. Panic filled him as soon as he figured out where he was.
Yusaku disappeared into the Lightning Ignis' territory. Sure him and his fellow Ignis were tight knit family group but didn't mean the Lightning Ignis didn't have his lets say crueler and more manipulative moments to honest.
The irony of the other Ignis, for being based on a light attribute. He had a strange attachment to dark caves where he could scheme. Ai is positive he spends his laughing maniacally while plotting something. He could almost picture it. Hopefully those plans had nothing to do with Yusaku.
Suffice to say Ai didn't have to step into the cave at all. Yusaku came screaming out of the cave and without paying attention smacked right into him.
"Ahh!" The boy screamed again before trying to run off but Ai hauled his escape by grabbing him.
"Neh, What's the matter?" he asked and waited for an answers. It took Yusaku a couple of minutes to stop stumbling over his explanation.
"Lightning and me were watching videos about other humans...they're all awful just like that man...Please don't ever make me go back!" Yusaku pleaded hugging him tightly.
"Yes, I figured it was easier for him. Everyone else gets a more human name why shouldn't I?" The Light Ignis replied coming out of the cave.
"He's quite the interesting human isn't he? I'd like to help show him a few things too."
"Does that involve scary videos from the human world?" Ai asked dryly.
"Yes. Though if there's a problem with that we could do other things. I'd like to explore his connection to the network anyway. It's similar to ours from what I can tell." Lightning explained but he something told him to be careful of whatever the other Ignis had in mind. There wasn't much Ai could say against it. Lightning for all his harshness had never done anything to warrant his concern.
"Fine but we both know not all humans are like them though," he said and Yusaku let go of him and smiled.
"Yay!" The both Ai and him had no idea what they agreed to. In the long run Ai would regret letting Lightning within ten feet of his human.
That time was still a long way off for now thought they were all content to live in cyberse together. Though of all the Ignis, Windy was the only one to not take an interest in Yusaku. He brushed the boy off whenever they meet. While he hadn't been mean he preferred to be by himself for the most part and didn't want to responsibility of watching Yusaku.
That didn't change much over the years. As the boy got older and turned into a teenager, Windy remained a distant figure. Everyone else accepted Yusaku as part of their odd little family. Lightning in particular took an interest in the teen that concerned Ai but he nothing to go on and let them be. Yusaku would often come back from hanging around Lightning hopped up on the excitement from learning something new. He didn't have it in him to interfere since it made the teen happy.
That's how their lives were for a long time. Ai would slack off and either hang around with Yusaku or with Linkuriboh while the other Ignis worked away on creating data. Aqua or Flame would come along and tell him that he needs to help too. Some days Yusaku would be the one to tell him they need to help the other Ignis.
Until one day their paradise away from everyone else started burning down. A massive foreign dragon crashed through the sky with an angry shouting man atop its back commanding it burn everything down.
"Ai what's happening?" Yusaku asked taking a few steps bracing himself. After spending years living with monsters bigger than him, the teen wasn't easily frightened by much now. However neither of them had seen this dragon or the figure commanding it and had no idea how to handle it.
Ai watched the dragon rampage around for a few seconds before making a quick decision that would change all of their lives. He turned to his human for a second and saw a flash of the little boy who used to sleep with Ai curled with him before his vision cleared up. Yusaku was old enough now, he hoped, so he could take care of himself without them.
He reconnected Yusaku with his real, human body and logged him out of their world right as the dragon came towards them. Now Ai needed to try to save the rest of his family from this monster.