Chapter 1:

Red Herring


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“Hey!”Bookmark here

A man’s voice echoed in the android’s ears.Bookmark here

“Hey, wake up!”Bookmark here

The android’s eyes slowly opened. It had been several hours since she arrived at the facility her master left her in.Bookmark here

“Woah….”Bookmark here

Her eyes slowly absorbed the colorful environment around her. The last thing she remembered before dozing off was a blank, empty, and quiet hallway. Its white walls crept over her, and the same feeling of isolation started to make her inner bolts shiver with uncertain familiarity.Bookmark here

But now, the sounds of excited people sung in her ears.Bookmark here

The peals of laughter of passionate individuals that ran across the hallway dominated her hearing, and the faint sound of elevator music came together to make a lively scene absolutely breathtaking.Bookmark here

“Ah, how long have I….”Bookmark here

She rubbed her eyes quickly and gazed around to find that a curious man was sitting next to her. His round face beamed with a smile.Bookmark here

“Hey! I see you’ve been resting here for a looooooong time. How tired are you?”Bookmark here

“Um…”Bookmark here

Oddly enough, his dark blue hair caught the girl’s attention, for it looked softer than hers. It made her want to ruffle it, but she knew it was socially inappropriate. Her gaze eventually drifted to the man’s heterochromatic eyes of ocean and metal.Bookmark here

His eyes were beautiful. Bookmark here

“Yo, you’ve been staring for a while. I know I’m good-looking, but dang, if you’re staring at me like that. I must be extremely attractive.” Bookmark here

“What….?” The android squinted with disgust, but she shrugged it off and decided to ask him about something relevant. “How long have I been here?”Bookmark here

“Aw, changing the subject already?” He pouted. “Why doesn’t anyone want to admit it…”Bookmark here

The man crossed his arms in such a childish manner that the android felt that she was cursed to have to babysit him to get some answers.Bookmark here

After all, her memories only made her question her knowledge about the world.Bookmark here

The world.Bookmark here

Humanity’s population shrinking drastically. Bookmark here

The terrifying explosion that unleashed multiple realms and rewrote the constitution of reality.Bookmark here

At least, that’s all she knew from her master. Bookmark here

“How would I know how long you’ve been here. I was only sitting here for a few minutes!” The man raised his eyebrow and pointed at the android.Bookmark here

“Oh.”Bookmark here

An awkward silence fell on them. A few seconds went by, and the man decided to break it by coughing. Bookmark here

“Anyways, you’re assigned to this mission too, right?” He leaned over to observe her mannerisms. His cheerful expression was begging for a hopeful answer.
Bookmark here

“Eh?”Bookmark here

“What do you mean ‘eh’? I asked if you’re assigned to this mission!”Bookmark here

He pulled out a piece of paper and shoved it in front of the woman’s face. She blinked in surprise at his rapid speed, but then focused on the words on the post. Bookmark here

It was a recruitment advertisement, which revealed vague information on what the researchers were planning with potential slayers seeking high monetary compensation to capture the individual responsible for destroying most of humankind.Bookmark here

“I…believe so? My master sent me here specifically to find a person who was responsible for the explosion twenty years ago.”
Bookmark here

The man’s face only insinuated confusion.Bookmark here

“You’re searching for someone?” He hesitantly pointed at the android before setting his finger down. “But this mission is about slaying monsters!”Bookmark here

“Slaying monsters?”Bookmark here

He rolled the advertisement and placed it back onto his belt. The girl noticed that he was carrying a sword, as well as several blades. They were all peculiarly green, like leaves falling from the trees of the summer season.Bookmark here

“Yeah, man! This is the monster-slaying realm you and I are sitting here waiting for. These are the disgusting creatures that ruin many people’s lives. That’s why…”Bookmark here

The man paused his speech and looked away from the girl, his eyes focused on gazing at the happy individuals sauntering around him. The android could tell he was likely reminiscing of a sad event: something that made him motivated enough to want to start killing creepy creatures at a young age.Bookmark here

“...I must avenge those who have lost their families.”Bookmark here

The girl lowered her eyelids and stared down at the floor. Bookmark here

“I’m sorry,” she said in a lower tone, “I don’t think the master said I had a specific realm to enter, but since I’m here…”Bookmark here

She looked curiously ahead as she bent over to see if there was anything different down the hallway. Bookmark here

“Well, not like I would know,” she raised an eyebrow and fidgeted with her fingers, “why are there a lot of closed doors? And chairs lining up outside each one?”Bookmark here

The man snickered. “Wait, do you even remember how you got here? Did no one tell you anything about Headquarters?”Bookmark here

“Oh.”Bookmark here

The girl blinked her eyes once more. Clearly, her nap fogged her memories.Bookmark here

Concentrate. I must remember what happened.Bookmark here

The girl finished jogging her memory lane, and she turned to the man.Bookmark here

“Um, I remembered I was left by my master by the front gate and he told me to look for a girl wearing a red hat.”Bookmark here

“That’s vague.”Bookmark here

“And then, he drove off. I was tired when I arrived so I just kept walking down the empty hallway and took a seat here. Then, you woke me up.”Bookmark here

The man couldn’t believe it. Bookmark here

“Wow, you’ve been resting for a while, then. Because I have been walking around this building for the last hour, and it was packed with people.”Bookmark here

The pink-haired android looked at him, embarrassed yet flustered.Bookmark here

“I was tired.”Bookmark here

“Ok yeah yeah. I’ll stop teasing.” Bookmark here

His fingers curled a few hair strands. He lowered his head, seemingly timid about his upcoming proposal.Bookmark here

“But if you really don’t know where to go, you could join me for this one. It’s going to be so much fun! Although…”Bookmark here

“Although?”Bookmark here

“Many people are still sitting outside because they need a key to get in.”Bookmark here

The android glanced at the door next to them. There was no keyhole.Bookmark here

“What do you mean, a key?”Bookmark here

“Well,” the man shrugged, “I didn’t mean a literal key, anyone could open the doors. But the recruiters have told me all the doors only lead to a dark abyss, and until you get a key, you can’t access the realm.”Bookmark here

“Oh. I see.”Bookmark here

Another awkward silence and the noises of outside chatter filled both their ears. Bookmark here

“By the way,” he smirked, “I don’t think I’ve caught your name, I’m Noah!”Bookmark here

“Oh. Nice to meet you, Noah. I’m-”Bookmark here

“GET AWAY FROM ME!!”Bookmark here

A loud scream shocked the crowd. Several girls and boys glanced in the direction where the scream originated and to everyone’s confusion, a thin girl with long black hair was standing at the entrance of the hallway. Bookmark here

Her skin resembled those of the dead. Bookmark here

An abnormal grin, disgustingly hideous with pitch-black teeth, made countless people want to gag. Several individuals coughed, for the hallway reeked of…Bookmark here

Human blood. Bookmark here

The girl’s frail white dress completed her looks of a true horror legend. What’s worse, her head was constantly twitching, and her elongated fingers were scratching her neck endlessly.Bookmark here

The android’s eyes widened. “That-!!”Bookmark here

She took notice of the slender girl’s blood-stained red hat.Bookmark here

“Wait, THAT’S the girl your master said to look for?” asked Noah, horrified.Bookmark here

The android wasted no time and sprinted towards the mysterious girl. Girls and boys scurried along to the side of the hallway to make way for the android as she sped past them with impeccable speed.Bookmark here

The master did inform me to be aware of this girl!Bookmark here

She was about to attack using one of her mechanical arms when she recalled what her master had said to her.Bookmark here

“Don’t ever let anyone find out you’ve been specialized for this mission.”Bookmark here

The mysterious girl suddenly reached out to the android. Her fingers grew into pointy murderous kinds that a normal human wouldn't have. Bookmark here

Oh no!Bookmark here

The android immediately shielded herself with her arms just as the slender girl screamed; she howled to the ceiling as an aggressive soundwave violently shook the hallway along with its ear-piercing scream. The window that exhibited the ominous darkness outside suddenly shattered into pieces while the glistening glass fell onto the carpet inside.Bookmark here

The smell of death.Bookmark here

It was now lingering in everyone’s nose, and the possibility of dying became a reality as the unbearable fear sent people tearing their hairs and screaming in agony. Bookmark here

Countless individuals started running and flying in all directions. It became chaos. People tripped over one another, and belongings went flying over the heads of fallen individuals. The android and the man witnessed what looked like Black Friday on peak hour. They watched a pearl necklace being tossed by somebody and immediately stepped on by another.Bookmark here

The cracks were inevitable, and the necklace was destroyed. Bookmark here

“Shoot, take cover!” Bookmark here

The man and the android were being blown by the girl’s unearthly scream. The android had to spin around and land on her knees, her hands rubbed against the tiled floor as tiny sparks came out of her wrist. Luckily, everyone was so focused on recovering themselves from the ear-piercing scream and shockwave that no one saw her malfunctioned hand.Bookmark here

“Come on!” The android cracked her wrist until it was back to its rightful position.Bookmark here

“BEHIND YOU!”Bookmark here

The android dodged an attack from behind. She glanced up to see that above her was a concentrated Noah in the air, who jumped and threw his blades past her to reach the screeching girl.Bookmark here

They traveled briskly that the sound of a light wind trailed behind them, but the blades proved to be no effect. The screaming girl reached out and grabbed ahold of them, shattering the knives in the process.Bookmark here

“Tch, so she’s a monster,” the man clicked his tongue.Bookmark here

“I don’t understand,” the android glanced around as she prepared herself for another attack. “Why isn’t anyone else helping? Aren’t these boys and girls also here for monster slaying?”Bookmark here

“Not really!”Bookmark here

Noah dodged an attack from the screaming girl and threw more blades near her feet, which caused the girl to howl as she fell onto her knees.Bookmark here

“Most people aren’t here for monster slaying, but for other abnormalities such as drink testing and levitation!” Noah continued.Bookmark here

“Huh? Really!”Bookmark here

“Yeah, the explosion caused all sorts of crazy stuff! New discoveries of poison from radioactive plants and stronger magnetic pulses sparked the people’s interest!”Bookmark here

The two started to run towards the collapsed monster. However, the girl screamed once more in anger and began to morph into something much more hideous.Bookmark here

The pink-haired android and Noah watched in disgust. The girl that was once in front of them became the abomination of a horror legend; its face turned white as snow and its eyes became hollow. To make this abomination look worse than it already was, its unnatural grin was now horrifying the remaining spectators still stuck in the hallway. The corners of its mouth were slit from one end of its cheek to the other.Bookmark here

Its head was still twitching uncontrollably. The monster's new body posture was constantly cracking as its seemingly broken limbs dangled.Bookmark here

It was an unforgettable, horrific sight. Bookmark here


The creature screamed at the android and lunged at her, all the while yelling “DOLLY!” repeatedly. It stretched its arms out and tried to grab ahold of the android, but she immediately dodged them and punched it on the stomach. It clenched its teeth right as the android kicked its head, which sent the creature flying. It smashed its head hard onto the concrete wall. Bookmark here

Debris covered the area with smoke, naturally hiding the creature from sight. Bookmark here

“Noah!” The android called as she ran towards the creature.Bookmark here

“You got it!”Bookmark here

Noah threw the last of his blades to the pink-haired girl, who caught them all and sprinted directly to the monster. It was groaning and started shrieking in anger, so it began to throw pieces of the broken wall in the air toward her.Bookmark here

The android effectively dodged those she could and smashed the ones that she couldn’t avoid. Her metallic legs kicked one of the enormous pieces in the monster's direction. Bookmark here

It flew at an accelerating speed. The piece smashed the creature’s head, causing it to let out a blood-curdling scream before it attempted to regenerate its face.Bookmark here

“Hey!” Noah called out. Bookmark here

He ran towards the door where he and the android were sitting right next to earlier and forced it open.Bookmark here

“We need to stop causing a ruckus here. Let’s tackle that nasty one inside the realm!”Bookmark here

The android jumped on top of the creature and pulled it away from the debris. Bookmark here

Another shriek of frustration. The creature scratched at the girl’s face, causing faint marks to appear before the girl tossed the creature in the air and kicked it towards Noah.Bookmark here

“You’re right, if we're going to slay monsters, I don’t want anyone else getting hurt here-”Bookmark here

Before the android could finish her sentence, the monster unexpectedly stretched its arms and grabbed ahold of the girl’s legs. This sent her flying across the hallway with the hideous thing. Bookmark here

“Alright, that’s it!”Bookmark here

With all her might, the android reached out and grabbed the monster’s arms just as the two of them entered the realm’s door. She pulled the arms inward, closing the gap between the two entities.Bookmark here

The smell of death.Bookmark here

It was definitely unbearable now.Bookmark here

That is, for a normal human being.Bookmark here

Time seemed to slow down just as the android and the creature flew past Noah and into the dark abyss that would lead them into the realm within.Bookmark here

“My name is Dolly.” Bookmark here

The two made eye contact before the creature and Dolly dove inside the abyss.Bookmark here

“Ah, wait!” Noah shouted. Before he could jump in, the door closed.  Bookmark here

Pitch black. For that was all Dolly saw. Bookmark here

And it was cold.Bookmark here

The abyss was nothing but an endless, isolating, pitched black void.Bookmark here

Another shriek of terror. The monster continued to screech and tried to pull its arms away from Dolly’s hardened grip. Now that nobody was looking, Dolly knew she could unleash her deadly blast.Bookmark here

“The master sure is mysterious,” she said.Bookmark here

The android lifted her left hand; a small opening in her palm confirmed that she was about to kill the horrifying existence in front of her.Bookmark here

The monster screeched and attempted to push Dolly away, but she ripped its arms out from its body. It cried in fear as the monster floated away from her. Bookmark here

“I don’t understand what the master wants,” Dolly said as she blasted the creature to nothingness. It disintegrated, leaving only the red hat floating in the darkness.Bookmark here

“Strange. If only I can understand what’s going on around here.”Bookmark here

Dolly sighed, knowing no one was listening, but she didn’t care. She reached over to where the hat was and touched it.Bookmark here

Immediately, there was a glowing sensation.Bookmark here

A wonderful, peaceful, overwhelming feeling.Bookmark here

The abyss was no longer dark, and the bright colors of red, orange and yellow filled her eyes.Bookmark here

Slowly, the scenery revealed itself to be the sky that Dolly was gazing at. She looked around and observed as the abyss revealed itself to be more like a forest. The ground was covered with beautiful grass assorted with a variety of flowers. Dolly could see at the horizon there were two hills with a sun setting between them.Bookmark here

Countless rays of sunlight, and the warmth it provided. She could feel it.Bookmark here

Her body was no longer cold.Bookmark here

“Well!” she exclaimed, just as the hat disintegrated from her hands. “I did not expect a monster-slaying realm to be this beautiful, covered in flowers and all.”Bookmark here

Dolly took a step forward. The zephyr cooled her down, and she felt at peace for a brief moment.Bookmark here

It’s so calm in here. There are leaves flying by, and blades dro- wait BLADES?!Bookmark here

She gasped as she witnessed a piece of grass in the midst of the air transformed into a green blade.Bookmark here

Those look like the same blades Noah had earlier!Bookmark here

“Hold on,” Dolly lowered herself to her knees and felt the grass.Bookmark here

“Is this what they call Plant Weaponry…?”Bookmark here

She pulled a couple of grass from its roots, and they all turned into small, sharp, green blades.Bookmark here

This is pretty cool! It will be the perfect strategy to fight monsters without revealing too much of my own power in case I bump into anyone here!Bookmark here

She searched her dress for a pocket but found none.Bookmark here

Tch, of all things, the master did not give me a pocket to store weapons…Bookmark here

Dolly sighed and dropped the blades onto the ground.Bookmark here

Ah, what can I do? I suppose if an attack were to occur this instant, I have the environment to my advantage.Bookmark here

“Ehhhhhhh~! What’s this that has landed on my turf~?”Bookmark here

The smell of death.Bookmark here

It was the sensation of anxiety that slowly crept in from behind, as the heavyweight of fear and the imagination of corpses briskly flashed through Dolly’s mind. She jumped away from where she assumed the voice came from and turned around.Bookmark here

“Is this, A DOLLY I SEE~!?”Bookmark here

At a distance, Dolly could see another creature. Its pretty dress resembled a schoolgirl, and its shoes were stained with blood.Bookmark here

A playful, mischievous giggle. An uncontrollable urge to mock the android.Bookmark here

The monster was covering its face with a teddy bear. It continued to laugh as its head twitched, and it was squeezing its plush a little too aggressively that some seams popped off.Bookmark here

“IT’S A DOLLY! A DOLLY, A DOLLYDOLLYDOLLY D̴͚̠͎͉̓̈́͑̒͂͆̅͋̚͝O̶͓͎͖̬̭̥̞̱̳̮͗̂̾̆̀̏L̶͚̼̪̦̮̭̹̦̤̒́̈́Ļ̴̨̖̜̫̣̇̃̉̋̐̾̑̈́͘Y̷̛͖͚̗͋͋̇͐́̐̆D̴̛̘̣͗́̆͛͆̒͝Ơ̴̢̦̝̊̅̈́L̷̡̞̳̤̱̺͐̐̔͛͜L̷̡̰̥͔̳̦͈͇͕̓́̏̒̽͋͑̚͘͝Y̴̨̳̭̯̒͜D̷͓̹͚͕̲̀̇̄̿͑͘̕͘ͅǪ̸̟͖͓̰̯̓̉̓͒̿̀L̸̘͆̿̓̏̀͘L̶̤͎̆͝Y̵͊͜!!Bookmark here

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