The Nether wasn't kind to the intelligent and the weak.
If you were weak you would die, there was no use for those that couldn't survive.
If you were intelligent you were hunted - you threatened the Hive mind with the ability to think on your own - you were a threat if you were smart, a part of the Hive that refused to conform.
The Nether was kind to the strong and the quick.
You had value if you were strong, if you could fight you could defend and protect.
You had value if you were quick, if you could duck and dive from blows.
That being said, the Nether had a paradox.
A paradox that was smart enough to follow orders.
A paradox strong enough to survive if it didn’t.
He knew his name wasn’t ‘soft child’. He knew it wasn’t even as the Hive echoed it to him when any of his colony saw him.
He didn't know his name, though, so he went with it as he trotted along behind his mother. He didn't look like his mother. His features were too soft and plush, the kind of features that made him seem weak.
The soft nose, the rounded face, the slim figure, his still too small tusks, full head of hair, and still folded ears of a babe; the features that gave his pseudonym. He didn't look like either of his parents.
Just like the only other one the Hive couldn't fully control.
He called them ‘Lava Runner’, they called him ‘Pig Ears’.
Lava Runner was like him; smart enough to follow orders, but quick enough to escape if he didn't.
Lava Runner was a weird looking strider.
With his piglin like body that was soft like his own, his too long strides and jerky movements.
He didn't talk to Lava Runner, they couldn’t talk with each other with the Hive in the back of their minds, but they knew each other.
He could see what Lava Runner carefully tucked away from the stupider of the Hive, he could feel Runner’s joy as he raced over the lakes, he could see the quiet memories the other hid.
And Runner could see his - Runner could see the carefully tucked away moments of calm he found in a warped forest, runner knew him he knew runner.
They knew each other better than brothers, lovers, or anyone else; they saw each other despite never meeting face to face. They understood the other better then they understood themselves.
He was smart and strong, they were smart and quick.
They were a paradox to the Nethers' kindness and hate - they were a paradox to each other, but at least they were safe for now.
The Nether wasn't a safe place.
That thought lodged into both of their heads when the Hive was attacked.
They had to fight for the Hive. The will of all the others nearly washed to two away before they latched onto each other. A thought shared by both and they were on steady ground, a mental shoulder to lean on as the Hive grew angry.
“Intruders!” the Hive screamed
‘Lava Runner?’ he whispered.
“Kill!” the Hive called
‘Pig Ears?’ they murmured.
“Destroy!” the Hive thought.
‘You’re safe,’ they both reassured.
The Hive was dying when they saw each other's face.
The Hive was dying as they silently leaned on each other and walked.
The Hive was dying when the intruders saw them.
“Children?” the killers asked aloud.
‘Threats,’ the two responded silently.
“Phil, there are some kids over here!” the man shouted.
‘Don't come near us,’ they warned mentally.
“Oh no,” one of the non-Hive murmured, “cover me their definitely player kids.”
‘Go away,’ they grumbled.
“My name is Phil, what are your two names?” the non-Hive was on his knees.
‘Weak,’ they choresed to each other.
“You don't have to say a word if you don't want to, do you like it here? Yes or no?” the man moved his head to indicate how to tell him.
‘I hate it,’ he thought.
'It’s scary,' Runner agreed.
No they answered.
"I can take you away, if you'd let me?"
'I don't trust him,' he pointed out.
'This is our chance,' Runner reasoned.
Yes they answered.
So they left, following Phil to a portal.
'Cold,' they whimpered when they stepped through.
'Alone,' they registered when only the others' thoughts echoed in their mind.
The Hive wasn't there anymore, just the two of them could access each other's thoughts.
Then the feedback loop started.
They had never felt it within the Hive. Too many thoughts interrupting each other. But now? Joy bubbled between them, the feeling growing as they grew happier feeding off of each other.
It was intoxicating.
Soft cloth wrapped around them, snapping both of their focus away from each other.
'Leather?' he thought.
'Too soft,' Runner dismissed.
"Must be quite the cold shock for you two, huh?" Phil murmured. "The blankets should help for now at least, I have a place where you can warm up even more if you'd like? And get you some food."
'Food?' he echoed.
'Warmth?' Runner asked.
Yes they answered.
Phil called it home, they called it safe.
Home was a world that had a blue roof and green floor.
Home was also the little shelter with a fireplace the two nearly sat in when they arrived.
Home was where Phil told them their names.
But Dream was still “Lava Runner’ to him.
And Technoblade was still ‘Pig Ears’ to him.
Home was quiet.
Home didn't have the awful hum of the Hive, only the soft chatter of each other.
Home had a blue lava lake that Dream claimed was slippery and hard to walk on.
Phil nearly fainted when Dream took off across the lake the first time.
'Weak,' they had thought.
Home had mushroom soup and baked potatoes in places they could easily reach.
Home had two rooms for them when they only slept in one.
'I’m scared.' 'I’m here.'
Home had Phil, home had soft purpled wings holding them close when the fireplace wasn't enough.
'Caring,' they had thought.
Home had Phil showing them how to grow crops.
Home was the first place they had ever laughed.
Home was where Dream could run and Techno could chase and they wouldn't have to worry.
Home was where Dream started to babble, tripping over incomplete words after dinner that caused Phil to cry.
"That's amazing Dream," he cooed.
'Kind,' they had agreed.
Home was learning to read in the shade of the big oak on nice days with Phil's wings carefully curled around them.
Home was with Phil when he showed them how to craft.
Home was where Phil protected them from monsters.
'Strong,' they murmured,
They were ten years old when they came home; they were eleven when Dream spoke.
"Wa' thi Phi?"
He was pointing at the pumpkin pie Phil had set out, his words unpracticed and messy.
"What?" Phil murmured, staring at Dream with wide eyes.
"Wa' thi?" Dream repeated, still pointing.
"Pumpkin pie," Phil whispered, tears gathering in his eyes.
"You're speaking," Phil whispered, "That's amazing."
Dream frowned, "Yo' k?"
Phil carefully wiped his eyes, sniffing, "I couldn't be happier Dream."
Their trusted sat down across from them, carefully taking in a breath.
"Can you say Dream?"
Phil laughed and his boys smiled, "Close, but not quite. Try again."
"Dr-ea-m," Phil calmly sounded out.
"Drem," a look contorted Dream’s face as he tried to copy the sounds Phil was making.
"Dream." Phil repeated patiently.
Dream glanced at Techno who gave him a shrug. After a few seconds he tried again.
"Dream?" It was shaky and he didn't sound quite right, but he did it. Phil smiled even brighter.
"Good job Dream!" he praised as Dreams eyes lit up
Phil gave the boys their desert as he smiled.
'He's kind,' Techno pointed out.
'Yeah...' Dream agreed as both boys dug in.
'I want to surprise him.'
'He's happy you did.'
Dream paused at that, glancing at the adult who was enjoying his own slice of pie.
'He was happy?'
'I can teach you.’
‘That's the only good idea you've ever shared,' Techno jokes, absently turning over Dream’s plan in his mind, making his own tweeks.
'So his birthday?'
'It'll be a present or whatever those things are called.'
'Good thing he got from someone else,' they compromised.
Speaking, both boys found out, was a hassle.
Techno quite hated it, he didn't really have a reason to speak other than his planned gift to Phil.
Dream, on the other hand, adored speaking; the sounds and rhythm of it all were enjoyable enough to make him never seem to stop chattering away to Phil, even if what came out of his mouth had no meaning at all and he was just making noise to make noise.
This led Phil to a problem.
Techno had started making Dream talk for him.
He hadn't noticed at first, simply thinking Dream was asking for things himself before deciding to give it to his partner in crime, but as it kept happening Phil had noticed a little tick that meant what he was asking for or saying were actually Techno’s words and not his own.
The problem with this came not from the fact that Techno was a mute, but from the fact that it confirmed the boys could talk without Phil knowing what they were saying.
Meaning he had no clue when they planned to give him heart attacks.
Now that he paid attention there where slight cues right before one of the two did something increadly stupid.
A tilt of the head from Dream and Techno was off leading a horde of zombies to the front door, a flick of the ear from Techno and Dream was suddenly trying to run up a waterfall.
Lately, this silent communication had changed. The two were planning something though he had no idea what.
Dream, however, would never be more glad for Technos ability to read their caretaker. Techno had Phil’s schedule down to a pat giving the most time possible to practice Techno’s speech.
Techno’s tone sounded too flat; he spent too much time picking apart the words as he spoke them, but he was learning almost faster then Dream was.
When Phil’s birthday came around was when the two struck.
“Phil! Phil!” Dream had called, racing over to him and tugging on his clothes.
“Oh, hi Dream,” Phil had hummed, ruffling his hair as Techno snuck around the corner.
Dream let a grin spread across his face as he glanced at his Hive mate, giving him a nod.
“Hap-py b-irth-day da-d,” Techno murmured, his voice too quiet, his tone too flat, and his words too choppy.
He ended up crying for a while before he started spewing his praise of how proud he was of his boys. They both took it and the accompanying hug with minimal discomfort.
This was the goal after all.
Phil hated leaving his boys at home alone.
But he had a job to do.
Phil was with no short amount of pride part of a group that took down groups of monsters thought to be either taking or killing natural borns and player children.
They weren't called on very often; natural borns hating to ask for player intervention and player children rarely going so far from where they spawned in. When they were called in it was most times only after either a massacre of natural borns or a player managing to spot a child mixed in with the mobs.
This call in was for both.
A player had been wandering along the outer lands when they stumbled across a ruined village only a few natural borns were left to bury their dead. They had told the player about a coven of witches that had made the village there testing ground. The player had then watched the coven and had seen a player child briefly.
So now, Phil and his team were here eyeing the gathering of the mobs as they structured a plan. Witches were a bit more dangerous than most mobs and bit harder to kill.
But they had been doing this for quite some time and this wasn't their first coven. A few well placed poisoned arrows and some fireworks made quick work of most of the monsters; the rest cut down with an ax or sword and unlike the natural borns his team could come back.
Phil was always the one to handle the children. He didn't know when he got the role, but he was grateful for it when one of his teammates called him over. What he found was a small, shivering, gray skinned, wreck of a child. He was maybe a bit older than Phil’s own boys. His skin was a stone gray with pure white eyes that were wide and scared, two small horns growing above his temples.
In the coming months, Phil would find out that ‘Hello’ was the first word, the first actual voice, Bad had heard in years. That it was the kindest word he had ever heard in his life.
The child lurched forward, gripping onto him with wet eyes and a whimpering voice. The child grabbed on and stayed. Phil hugged back carefully as he listened to the child babble.
He stayed there rocking the child for what felt like hours, heart aching.
He had a new son.
Where Dream went, Techno followed. Where Techno went, Dream trailed. It was a simple rule of thumb when it came to the duo - this apparently also followed true with friends. When Bad had arrived, still clinging to Phil and trying to hide away from the two other boys, the two had stared in confused wonder at the newcomer. Though they had left him alone when Phil shooed them off.
For two weeks, Bad was attached to Phil, starting to panic if the older was ever out of his sight and looking uncomfortable if he wasn't touching him.
Then, Dream stepped in.
Phil had tried to warn the two that Bad would be jumpy and might not want to talk to them for some time. Apparently, some time had passed in Dream’s mind as he started to chatter away to the other who was clinging to their father. Phil tried to shoo him away at first, but stopped after seeing Bad watch Dream with curiosity and slight wonder. After a few minutes, Dream managed to run out of breath and Techno began mumbling a few words as his other half coughed.
Then, Bad spoke back. It was a short snippet of what was likely an actual sentence, but it was enough for Dream to go at it again, voice filling the room as he went on and on and on.
It turned out that talking was a sharp and welcomed contrast to the coven.
So, the family talked. Dream would chatter for hours on end trailing behind Phil and Bad as he did so. Techno occasionally mumbling something if Dream needed a small break. Phil tried his best to fill the silence when the duo were busy causing chaos.
The noise was enough to start drawing out Bad’s personality which was bubbly and sweet, almost childlike in his glee. After that, it just took time. Letting Bad come on his own time with his siblings pushing him along.
It always made Phil smile knowing his boys could help like that. How they could reach someone hidden in the darkness of their own mind.
Now that's not to say he planned to bring home two more children, it just sort of… happened .
He had been heading home after some arbitrary gathering someone had demanded his team go to when it had happened.
Phil had, because of his boys, become keenly aware of the sound of a child in distress. He was almost hyper aware of it now simply because of how Techno tried to hide it. So, when he heard a soft whine, he was on alert. Glancing around the emptier area that was the path to his server. After a few minutes of careful scanning, he found the source of the noise.
Tucked away in the crevice of a building and curled up was a kid just about the same age as Dream. He didn't look injured, but he was very clearly upset.
Phil crouched and knocked on the wall beside him to let the kid know he was there. The knock had caused the boy to startle, deep brown eyes flicking to see Phil a bit aways from the exit. The boy’s ears decidedly not human, but instead dog-like were high and alert. Phil smiled softly, keeping his voice calm.
“Hello,” he said softly.
The child whimpered when hearing his voice and tried to back away.
“Can you tell me your name?” He didn't move, trying to keep his posture non-threatening.
“His name is George, creep.”
The voice came from behind him, causing Phil to jump slightly as he looked back.
The other kid looked human. His hair was wavy and uncut, his eyes a deep blazing black.
“And before you ask my name’s Wilbur, can you leave now? You're scaring George”
Phil hummed, standing up and backing off a few feet. Wibur watched him with a wary eye as George slipped out and slunk to Wilburs side.
“What do you want?” Wilbur demanded.
“Do you boys have any place to go home too?” Phil countered calmly.
“No,” George muttered.
“Yes,” Wilbur snapped, shifting stance like he would grab his friend and run.
Phil held up his hands in a sign of surrender, humming softly.
“Have you eaten today?” he asked, eyeing how thin both of them were.
“No,” George whined softly.
“Yes,” Wilbur growled, eyeing Phil.
“Do you like steak?”
The perk of their heads gave him his answer.
“Would you want some right now?”
“Why are you offering?” Wilbur questioned with Phil giving him a small smile
“You remind me of my sons,” he reasoned.
“Why should we trust you?”
“You probably shouldn't so I can understand if you say no, I'm just a stranger after all, do you have a reason not to trust me?”
“Please Wilbur?” George asked. “It won't be that bad.”
Wilbur frowned, eyeing Phil before huffing.
Turns out it just took some food and George pestering him for Wilbur to cave and join Phil’s ever growing army of children. The resulting addition forced Phil to heavily expand his base adding a new wing and half a dozen more rooms, considering the rate at which he was picking up children.
Turns out he made the right choice, little under a year later after yet another dip into the Nether he came home with Sapnap. That's where it got weird.
Techno and Dream, ever since they left the Nether, have been completely alone together with only the other privy to their thoughts, but when Phil arrived with the newcomer that changed.
They were a blaze was the first thing the two noticed as a new mind clicked in with them. The second thing they noticed was the fading fear, the echo of terrifying stillness of being completely alone in one's mind starting to fade as the newcomer poked at them. It was the same age as them, but was clearly used to being the only one intelligent enough to hide its thoughts.
It was almost like a dance what happened next. The slight prodding and at each other questioned answered before they were asked trust gained in what was just a fraction of a second a silent small talk between them.
When Phil opened the door to his home, his new child was greeted to the sight of Dream and Techno staring at him, Wilbur gazing at them in confusion with Bad giggling over his shoulder, and George nowhere to be seen.
Sapnap rushed into the house staring down the two as they looked at each other. The dance slowed to idle chatter. The two turned and then walked off with the new comer trailing behind them, a silly grin on his face as he did so.
No one was ever quite sure what had happened that day, Sapnap being oddly open even as his speech was as choppy as Techno and Deam’s when they first arrived. It didn't take much for the house to realize the arsonist sat as the right hand to the pair, an oddity no one quite questioned.
But, between the three, it made perfect sense, they had spent most of their early lives with a chaotic symphony raging in their minds. So having two idly prod and hum was a nice soft quiet that wasn't complete silence, having there own little Hive felt right. They didn't have to obey what the others thought, there wasn't really any point if they did, it was just a familiar thrum of others, a quiet whisper of community that kept them standing when their own thought felt overwhelming. The Hive was a safety net from their own thoughts.
For a couple years it seemed they wouldn't get any more newcomers. The children grew enough where, if they wanted to, they could leave and start their own servers. They never did. The idea of leaving the first place they felt safe and the few people they could lean on felt wrong and unnecessary. Phil wasn't going to make his boys leave just encourage them to go out and play mini games or in competitions with other people so they could have more than just family to chatter with.
That's how they made names for themselves.
They traveled together. If their father was with them or not varied, but there were always at least three of them together at a time perusing through the games or relaxing in a lobby.
Wilbur was the first that people started noticing, he grew to enjoy entertaining the crowds with his music when he and his brothers relaxed in the lobbies. His voice enchanting them to stay and listen for a while. They called him a siren - which his family found ironic considering he was the only human in the mess that was their family.
Dream and Techno made their splash next. The duo grew to be known as unbeatable in combate and agility; your only chance at maybe winning was to take them on one at a time and that was impossible as the two never left each other's sides even if challenged to a duel.
Geroge, Bad, and Sapnap followed. The trio being known to be the only ones that had come close to taking down the two.
Phil grew to be known as his sons did. Players trying to figure out how the brothers came to be as they were and stumbled across the man that never died, a record holder in longest hard core and as hard to kill as his sons, he grew to legend as the boys did.
Their family had a system set in place that worked. They thought this was it, their family complete with no new addition that their father would pick up on the way home.
They were half right.
Their new siblings came from Wilbur.
The two had been born together and had been raised together.
Their home in the Nether was mostly devoid of any other life but the few magma cubes that squeezed through the walls.
They didn't know their names and they barely knew what they were.
He didn't look much like a ghast.
They called him “Float”.
They weren't sure what a nymph looked like.
He called them “Plant”.
In their little haven, they had grown together tucked away with the rest of the Hive, a soft whisper trying to crowd out their thoughts.
It didn't work.
They were still children when he came.
He looked like them in a way, he wasn't a part of the Hive they knew.
But, he was nice.
So, they followed.
And never stopped.