Cris is excited to play a new game on launch date. Too bad he skipped through the terms of service and license agreement. Turns out he was agreeing to a lot more than just how to play the game.
Ignoring a Game’s ToS
Today was a special day, the kind of day that gamers around the world make plans, wait in lines in the cold, and camp out in front of stores waiting to be the first to harass a minimum wage employee into handing over their bundle of disks. Today… was release day. Cris wasn’t doing any of that. Instead, he was sitting comfy at home in front of his computer as the moon began to crest the horizon. At long last, Cambion V: Immortal Chaos had finally come out. Though it wasn’t a series that Cris was really into, a lot of his friends liked it, and it had multiplayer, so he was going to give it a fair try. Even if it did look like it was a world of edgelords.
Opening up the CD tray, Cris inserted the installation disk into his computer. It had been over a decade since he last installed something this way, almost definitely since he was a kid, so it felt odd putting in a CD to install a game. Everything was digital these days. For reasons unknown, he kept getting error messages when he tried to buy and download it online. This had left him having to go find a store that had an actual physical copy. The popularity of the series meant many of the locations were sold out, and as a result of the series of today’s events it was now dark out when Cris finally got the installer running.
As usual, a bunch of legal stuff popped up onto the screen. Cris quickly clicked through agreeing to it. Every video game came with these long end-user agreements that no one ever read. They were likely designed to be so long to keep people from looking at them. Either way, Cris had just scrolled through them as fast as possible so he could get the game installed. That being finished, he leaned back in his chair and waited as the progress bar finally appeared.
He absentmindedly tugged his t-shirt closer around his shoulders, and shuffled a bit in the chair to straighten his boxers, not noticing that both were a little loose on him. This wasn’t surprising. He intentionally wore slightly oversized clothes in his own home when getting comfortable for the night.
Tapping his finger against the desk, he watched the installation bar slowly move across the screen. It was agony compared to how quickly digital software was installed in this day and age. If he was downloading the thing it would have been at least halfway done by now. But even though he had it all on a local disc, it still should have been faster and yet it was only up to 5%.
“Looks like I’ve got a bit of a wait.” Cris muttered and rested his head and curly brown hair in his hands. It was at this point that he paused. His hand had brushed against a hard object in his hair. “What?”
He felt around his head. There were two solid objects protruding from on the left and right side of his forehead. Running his fingers down them, he found they weren’t long, but they did have sharp tips.
“OW!” Cris exclaimed, quickly withdrawing his hand. A small drop of blood escaped his finger where he had poked… What was… What!? Did he have horns now? How could that even happen? It’s not like he went around wearing hats made of knives, or anything, but something on his head had cut his finger!
Or had it? As Cris rubbed the blood away from the finger he saw there was no wound. For a brief moment he thought he saw what looked like a scratch, but then… nothing. It looked like there had never been a wound yet… He was sure there was! In fact- His hand wasn’t even the right color because of it! There must have been poison or blood loss or something to cause the change and- and-
AND HIS HAND WAS A DIFFERENT COLOR!
Cris paused and stared at it. His hand was clearly a shade similar to copper. As he allowed his eyes to wander down his forearm, he saw it now matched his hand. Looking further, he could see that it wasn’t just his arm, but his entire body that had changed color into this inhuman skin tone!
It was at this point he once again noticed that his outfit was really baggy. He had noticed it earlier, but even moreso than before. His shirt was now falling down around his shoulders and he was more sitting on his boxers than wearing them.
“What… I?” Cris looked over his body. Horns and skin color weren’t the only thing to change. No, he was clearly younger as well. He had to be eight years old at the most. This brought about a mix of emotions. On one hand, part of him was thrilled at the idea of being a kid again. On the other hand, he was a little freaked out about what that means, and with these other changes that were happening too and-
Cris felt his boxer slide out from underneath him as they were pushed away by something… Something new was growing out from behind him! It extended from his tailbone, it was long and flexible… It was a tail! And it had a little plate on the end like the devil in cartoons. IT matches his new skin tone, with some black speckles along its length.
He was a kid and he had a tail? That was a winning combination! But wait, no, Cris had to take this situation seriously. Being physically a child, however, he found he was ready to discard maturity if it meant having fun. Cris was having trouble reeling in his uncharacteristic excitement, especially after the next change took hold. From his back, two dragon-like wings burst forth, similar in color and appearance to his tail, dotted with speckles along their edges.
There were a lot of things to be worried about right now, but they suddenly didn’t matter except for the one thing anyone who gets wings wants to know… Do they work? He tenatively flapped his wings,sliding out of his shirt and into the air. YES! They worked! He could really fly! But… something was wrong about his perspective. The room seemed way too big.With the other changes to his body, Cris had mostly only been focusing on his direct body. He knew he had shrunk out of his clothes, but he thought that was because of his age. It was only now that he realized hisgarments were giant in comparison to him.
So, he had also shrunk. A quick guess placed him at two inches tall tops. Still, he needed to get a better look at himself. He quickly flew up to his desk and found his cell phone. After fiddling with the lock on the touch screen, he managed to turn it on and open the camera app. A small tap in the corner to switch it’s facing and he finally got a good look at himself. He had become an impish little creature with two small horns, a long tail and wings. The whites of his eyes were now a devilish yellow and he had gained decently sharp claws on all fingers and toes. Looking at his face, he noted that his his ears were also drawn up into long points, not quite elf-like but definitely inhuman.
“Welcome to the Legions of Cambion.” A voice that sounded like several mixed together spoke from the computer. “As you have accepted all terms and conditions, as well as executed the unified distributable package, you have now entered eternal service to our cause.”
“W-what!?” Cris nearly fumbled off the desk as he looked up at the computer screen.
“You have no choice but to do our will.” The voice spoke. “Look at you. You are but a small imp, child. A creature of mischief, not evil. Now, I know what you’re going to ask, as everyone does…” The voice sounded almost droll for a moment, like Cris could feel it unrolling a scroll and pulling out spectacles, “As described in paragraph 12, subsection (d) of the binding user agreement, if you wish to regain your adulthood and mutate to a more formidable form, then you’re going to have to find a way to make an impression. Something that really unsettles the world. That’s the type of thing you gotta do to get promoted from an imp.”
“And… If I don’t do any of that?” Cris asked.
“Then we doom you to spend eternity in that body, unable to age or become a fearsome beast.” The voice spoke.
“So… If I do nothing, I get to: stay a kid, be able to fly, and just have to deal with being a bit small, and I’ll basically never hear from you again?”
“That is correct. We will not waste our time on those who can not make an impact. If you are unable to do prove your worth to the Legions of Cambion, then you deserve the eternity spent as a lowly imp.”
“Right! Got it! That’s certainly a thing!” Cris stood up straight and saluted. He waited for a moment to see if the voice would speakagain. Instead, the screencrashed. As one might expect, the GPU was having difficulty figuring out how to visually represent items recorded in seven dimensions by a three dimensional camera. Human mathematics clearly had a ways to go. The speakers emitted a long scream and then his entire computer died. Thankfully, a few seconds later it came back, and started to reboot while chastising him for not properly shutting down.
“Hey! I didn’t turn you off! You got possessed!” Cris shook his fist at the monitor before he remembered his interaction with the garbled voice of some horrible compact disk-based demonic presence. Quickly flying down to his tower, he opened the CD drive and snatched out the disk. It was surprisingly light, considering his diminutive stature, but he only needed to hold it for a moment before throwing it to the floor. He dove after it, making short work of it with his new claws as he rendered it completely destroyed.
“Alright, that should take care of the ‘computer being possessed’ thing. I hope.” Cris flapped up higher so he could see the monitor. He waited for a change, for it to show something unusual, but it was normal. It looked like whatever horribly evil thing had ensnared him in its plans was for some reason attached to the CD and not installed into his hard drive. Or maybe it was attached to the game itself? With some very careful flying Cris quickly uninstalled the game.
There. That felt better.
“Ok… So… This is a lot to take in…” Cris flapped around, getting a better hang of flying now that he had a chance. He landed on his desk, and momentarily curled his own tail around himself as he realized he was naked.
But come to think of it: Did demons even wear clothes? Who knew? He wasn’t going to seek out an adult demon to ask. Everyone knew adults were useless. So, a demon adult is both useless and would have you for lunch.
Cris’ brain came to a halt. He was very much thinking like a child. Was he acting childish because he wanted to? Or was his youthful body just making him act like that! Well, given that he took the time to stop and think about it, it was likely the former. And he was enjoying acting like a kid.
“Okay… So that’s dealt with. All that’s left is to come to terms with the fact that I’m, like, permanently eight years old, two inches tall and some kind of demon.” Cris floated in the air and thought about the ‘contract’. If he didn’t do anything evil, then the Legion would never show up again, and he’d just stay like this.. And, as time went on, he was both getting used to his new form, and finding a liking for it. Sure, it was a bit scary being small. But having a tail, being able to fly and cling to just about anything. It was hard not to feel exhilarated by it.
Though there was one problem. No contact with the scary demon meant that Cris had no idea how any of this worked. Did he have demon powers? Was there magic he could use? Did it come with any benefits outside of being cute and flying around?
“Ugh, would it be too much to ask for some kind of rule book on how all this works!?” Cris landed on the desk and threw up his hands. A moment later a small book perfectly sized for him appeared in a puff of smoke and then landed between his palms. “Huh. Um…. Would it be too much to…” Cris stopped for a moment to consider. At this point, people always reached too far and asked for something ridiculous, so of course nothing happened. Instead, he needed a more humble request: “Is it too much to ask for a little juice box?” There was another puff of smoke and a juice box sized for him appeared floating in the air. He nearly dropped the book trying to grab it.
“Okay then let’s see…” Cris poked the straw into his juice box and began to sip as he looked over the book. “How to Be an Imp for Idiots and Children.” Cris gave the book a quizzical look. “As I am currently a child, I am going to choose not to be insulted by that.
Cris had no idea how much time he spent reading. The sun was up by the time he finished. He probably should have been exhausted, but he was filled with energy at opportunities for possible mischief. As it turned out, he did have magic demon powers! Though they varied quite a bit, there were all kinds of minor spells he could do to people. And, apparently, the more time he spent with someone the stronger spells he could cast on them. But, the big deal was, well, the ability to make deals. According to the book, all imps had Contract Magic. Essentially, he could do almost anything to someone if they agreed to it, usually in exchange for some kind of favor. The contracts didn’t let Cris alter reality. What he could do on his side was basically based on his size, ability to fly, use magic and creativity for how to get something done. But he could pretty much demand anything from a human as payment, including that they lose said humanity.
If someone accepted a deal with him, he could make them shrink to his size, or his age, or turn into an animal as part of the deal. They get their favor and he gets a little bit of entertainment! But oh! He’d have to think about who to actually do that with. You would want to make sure it would be someone who would take it in good humor. If he figured out the right target, he could probably wind up striking a deal where he didn’t even have to really do anything!
But was that evil? Cris considered the thought. According to the book, most imps used their Contract Magic to force people to complete foul deeds in order to try to make an impression. As far as Cris could tell, what he was doing was definitely mischievous, but not evil. Especially since he was considering very carefully who he spread a little mischief to.
Well now, he might have some friends he could think of. f this was going to be his thing from now on, it’d pay to have a few traveling companions. It would get lonely flying all around the world getting into trouble himself. Yup, he was going to have to pick up a couple of friends along the way. This could be a lot of fun. Who knows what kind of tricks he might pull, in good taste of course, and with the fact he’d be a kid forever it gave a lot of time to think of new ones. This made bringing friends along even more important. He was pretty sure with the right deal he could keep them from ever getting any older again too.
Yes, it was time to pay a couple of visits.
Hours later, and with the noon sun approaching, Cris was flying back to his house after making some visits. After slipping in the window, he hid in a closet that was dark, even in the daytime. Today had been a lot. Thinking back, he had been awake for almost two full days. Looking around, he found a jacket hanging inside with a shirt pocket. Bingo. He drifted down into the pocket, and curled up to get as warm and comfy as possible while. Yup, these were pretty good sleeping arrangements. Much like a cat, he was curled up in a circle, with his tail close to his face.
Oh right! Before he could go to sleep, he had two new responsibilities to take care of! He slowly snapped his fingers and something really small moved through the air. Snapping his fingers again, the tiny figures grew in size. But, they were still quite small. Easily small enough for both to fit in Cris’ palm. They were like mice in comparison to the tiny imp, which made it even funnier that they were cats. Well kittens now. One with bright blonde fur, and the other a pale brown. They were two friends he had picked up during the night, and thanks to the wording on their ‘deal’ he could pretty much change whatever he wanted about them. He could also turn them into catboys for a bit if they needed to have a proper conversation. Right now though, they were normal kittens. Well, normal other than their extremely tiny size, and the fact that they were babies.
“Hey there Leon and Zach.” Cris slowly set the two felines down next to him then curled his tail in a protective barrier around them. “Don’t think I forgot about you. From now on you’re my familiars! So like sidekicks in crime.”
“Merow! Mrow! Meooow!” Both kittens pawed at the tip of Cris’ tail playfully. Neither one of them seemed to be making a fuss with the situation. They began to crawl around a bit, though stuck inside the tail barrier.
They could get around well. Cris had been very careful and very exacting with their age. He wanted them as close to newborn as possible, while still able to walk and keep their eyes open. Wouldn’t be much fun if all they could do was sleep. They were just old enough to play!
“Yes, yes, you’re both very good familiars.” Cris gently bent a finger down and pet the top of their heads. “Get some sleep though. Cause… Gonna be honest. I got no idea where to start with this tomorrow.”
“Mrooow mew!” The kittens shouted.
“Now now! We’ll figure something out! After all, I gotta act a little impish! So mischief is expected! I just can’t be evil which um…” Cris kind of shrugged. “Doesn’t really seem like a smart thing to be period. I mean, if this whole evil demon business was working out for them we’d know about it and fear them by now. Humans wouldn’t be the oneson top. And yet here we are. Well, you are, or aren’t? Nevermind.”
“Mewwww!” The kittens yawned and curled up close to the wall that was Cris’ tail.
“I think you’re right. Easier to figure out after sleep.” Cris closed his own eyes as he laid inside the shirt pocket. He might no longer fit into his old outfits, but they still made for a comfy bed!