Chapter 4:

Tenuous Deception (II)


The sound of a few waterdrops plopped from the leaves of the birch trees that remained standing around their fallen comrade. A large hole that looked like someone blasted the living heck out of the tree was made through its trunk as uneven layers of bark only made the entire scene look brutal.Bookmark here

“Oh,” Netty blinked as she turned to stare at the mess she made.Bookmark here

“We were fighting a monster,” Runo intervened, “A powerful one, in fact. It has the ability to turn invisible for a few seconds, so we had to make a lot of assumptions and attack based on where we thought it would head.”Bookmark here

“That explains why you were being cautious,” Dolly replied, “Although, I realized that creature didn’t attack us when we arrived.”Bookmark here

“It likely left after hearing more people coming in this direction.”Bookmark here

“Hmmm.”Bookmark here

No one spoke for several seconds. Then, Netty went over and placed her arm around Dolly’s shoulder. This time, Dolly didn’t shove it away.Bookmark here

“Hey, I think you should talk to your boy. I bet he would enjoy some company right now.”Bookmark here

Dolly sighed and lightly tapped her soft lips. “I suppose you’re right." Bookmark here

Her eyes slightly widened when she thought about the monster. "But what about-”Bookmark here

A creature’s howl can be heard from a far distance; it was deeper into the forest's dark ominous pathway, and it perked Netty’s interest. She smirked at Runo, who in return, gave her a single nod.Bookmark here

“Looks like we will be busy,” Netty stomped the ground a couple of times and rubbed her hands together, “We can meet with you two back at the river. I think the more the merrier our travels! So we’ll see ya soon!”Bookmark here

“Ah-”Bookmark here

But the two individuals sped into the darkness, with a trail of dust behind their sprints, leaving Dolly alone.Bookmark here

Tch, I didn’t exactly invite them to join us.Bookmark here

Dolly sighed and ran back towards the direction of the river.Bookmark here

And to be honest, I don’t know if I trust Netty or Runo yet. Eh...I hope Noah's OK.Bookmark here

The android blasted herself among the trees as trails of leaves and blades of grass danced behind her. She eventually reached the creek, where it was gorgeously curving around the landmark. Its clear, crystal waters hopped over the rocks, and the sounds of the sparkling stream perked her ears.Bookmark here

She looked to her right, and her eyes glittered upon seeing Noah, who was fast asleep on a large rock.Bookmark here

That’s dangerous; what if a monster were to show up?Bookmark here

She softly walked over to the sleeping boy, but before she woke him up, she took a glance at his face.Bookmark here

Humans look so calm when their guards are down.Bookmark here

Dolly smiled, the feeling of gratefulness overwhelmed her as she thought how much she had appreciated his company. Even though he could be a nuisance with over-the-top jokes, he did provide some amusement while they were traveling around the forest. She knew she had to thank him for that.Bookmark here

The man grunted, which to Dolly’s response, she decided to poke his stomach.Bookmark here

“WaaaaaAAAAA!!!” Noah yelped and jolted awake, his upper torso swung upwards in such an exaggerated manner as if he just got exorcised. “H-hey!! That’s ticklish!”Bookmark here

But his embarrassment quickly faded when Dolly's voice attracted his hearing. Her laughter, soft yet like a melody. It sung in his ears, and her face was colored with life.Bookmark here

“Huh… I think this is the first time I’m hearing you laugh.”Bookmark here

Subconsciously, he reached for her cheeks, but slowly pulled back his arm.Bookmark here

Dolly stopped giggling and smiled. But then she remembered what she had done earlier and gazed down to the grass. “Hey, about earlier…”Bookmark here

Noah took a peek at her and slowly turned his eyes away. His pink cheeks heated with nervousness.
Bookmark here

“It’s OK man, I know you didn’t mean it.”Bookmark here

The android sighed and sat next to him on the rock. The boulder they were sitting on was facing the beautiful creak, its waters continued to shine as the trees beyond friendly waved with the zephyr.Bookmark here

“Although, I think you should inform me of what’s going on because that Netty girl threw me off course and now I am more confused than ever.”Bookmark here

“That’s fair. For starters, I’m not a human.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, that I can tell.”Bookmark here

Dolly's eyes fluttered as she gazed down at the clear waters in front of her. “I was actually told by my master to keep the whole android part a secret. Netty was supposed to do the same, but she told Runo.”Bookmark here

“Do you know why he wanted it to be a secret?”Bookmark here

Dolly shook her head. “No actually. As much as I hate Netty for cutting all contact, I cannot blame her for her frustration. Sometimes, I don’t get the master either.”Bookmark here

“You said you were sent by your master to track down the scientist that caused the explosion. What makes him think that the scientist is going to be somewhere in this realm, let alone alive?”Bookmark here

“He did say he was certain the scientist is alive, but he won’t tell me anything else other than to search for that person. The scientist could be in a different realm if he’s alive, but since you brought up monster-slaying, I thought I could start in here because then…”Bookmark here

“Then?”Bookmark here

The android shifted her head to meet with Noah's heterochromatic eyes.Bookmark here

“I mean, wouldn’t it make sense that the scientist would go to the very realm where there are monsters trying to eradicate humanity since it’s a direct result of the explosion? So isn’t that what I’m here for? I need to find the person who caused all of this so that humanity can be saved. Maybe the scientist knows how to reverse this realm problem..."Bookmark here

Noah took a deep breath. “And there's more to it too."Bookmark here

“What do you mean?"Bookmark here

“Well, I mean,” Noah turned away from Dolly and stared into the distance, “for one, the majority of the creatures have dominated the world. The strongest kinds.”Bookmark here

Dolly looked a little surprised, but she kept her composure. “Ah, I see.”Bookmark here

“And well...I was born a few months before the explosion occurred. Luckily my mom and I were far from it, and we weren’t close to the ocean, so we weren't affected. But that’s what I was told when I was a child.”Bookmark here

“Oh?”Bookmark here

Noah's eyes quickly glanced up as if he was trying to gather his thoughts, before bringing his pupils down and rapidly blinked.Bookmark here

“It turns out my mom died trying to rescue me," his voice stuttered for a moment, "I later learned from my adoptive parents that my real mom passed away because they were fighting with everyone else to get on an airplane.”Bookmark here

“I’m sorry,” Dolly said softly, but Noah did not hear her.Bookmark here

“The airplanes were meant to carry survivors to higher ground at first, but right when they got in, a few people started grabbing women and children and pulled them away from the entrance."Bookmark here

A sigh of relief, or perhaps it was anxiousness. The duo can envision the nightmare as the sounds of heavy footsteps stepped over injured bodies, piling onto each other to grasp the unreachable doors of the airplane.Bookmark here

"I was one of them, along with my mom, but she was trampled to death. Some smarter individuals who had built underground bunkers brought people in, and the person who grabbed me to safety is my adopted mom.”Bookmark here

“What about the airplanes? Where did those people-”Bookmark here

“Gone,” Noah interrupted. His voice slightly raised for he didn’t want Dolly to finish her sentence. His fingers fidgetted and interlocked as he parted his lips. “The air was toxic, and with everyone panicking, I heard that the pilot of that airplane forgot to turn on the cabin pressure.”Bookmark here

“Oh. So that means…” Dolly stared at the grass solemnly.Bookmark here

“Yeah, Everyone died of hypoxia.”Bookmark here

Dolly continuously stared at the ground. She didn’t want to meet Noah’s eyes and taint their sparkling beauty with the bloody imagery of countless people who died from the chaos. “I’m really sorry. That’s awful.”Bookmark here

“When you talk about finding the scientist,” Noah started, “I think of my missing dad.”Bookmark here

Wait. What?Bookmark here

My foster parents have told me my dad was a brilliant man who knew his way around physics and robotics. But I don’t think it’s him.”Bookmark here

How would you know? What if he IS the scientist that caused all this mess?Bookmark here

“What makes you think it’s not him?” Dolly curiously asked.Bookmark here

“Hmm,” Noah took a deep breath, “I just don’t think it’s him. My instincts never fail me, so I hope I’m right.”Bookmark here

Dolly didn’t say anything, but she’s uncertain whether she could trust him on this one.Bookmark here

“Oh, you sort of remind me of a doll I used to own,” he scandalously wiggled his eyebrows.Bookmark here

Hold on, this is a lot to take in. What is he saying?!Bookmark here

“My foster parents said my mom was carrying a doll, and that before she was trampled, my foster mom took it because she knew I would want something that would remind me of my birth parents. Haha, it’s so funny actually, the doll’s hair was pink like yours, so when I saw you…”Bookmark here

Noah inched his face a little closer to Dolly. The android couldn’t control her dilated pupils.Bookmark here

“I don’t know, it brings a lot of nostalgic memories. I wanna thank you for that.”Bookmark here

“I- Um….I guess,” Dolly replied timidly. She rubbed her arms, feeling too shy to properly reply to such a comment.Bookmark here

“Yup!” Noah stretched his arms and stood up. “And that’s the story of my life. Ever since then, I have wanted to help other families avenge what they’ve lost by monster slaying. Just think it’s cool to fight rather than be a test subject for newly discovered berries, but I understand this job comes with a price.”Bookmark here

Dolly lifted herself as the soles of her feet felt the thickness of the grass. The two maintained their gaze until it was getting Noah a little flustered.Bookmark here

“H-hey, it’s OK,” Noah stuttered while blinking at the same time, “you know, I get it. It’s hard to open up to someone you just met. I'm extremely friendly, that’s all.”Bookmark here

The sound of a stone within the river shifted ever so slightly. Dolly was fixated at the attractive sight of Noah's face, but his eyes were gesturing for her to say something.Bookmark here

“Actually, I want to apologize.”Bookmark here

“Hmm, for what?”Bookmark here

“For pushing you earlier.”Bookmark here

“Huh? Didn’t you say this already? I’m fine, don’t worry about-”Bookmark here

“No, that’s not it!” Dolly’s sudden yelp immediately silenced the boy.Bookmark here

“I...I didn’t actually get to say sorry, and….” Dolly inhaled as she bowed with guilt. “You’re right. There’s still a lot for me to learn. I wasn’t programmed to fully understand human interaction. So if there’s anything I said before that didn’t make sense, I’m sorry.”Bookmark here

A sudden shift. A soft touch. Dolly’s eyes widened when she felt Noah’s embrace as his arms wrapped around her physique. She could smell the faint scent of cologne he applied earlier that day. He reminded her of a typical gentle, protective guardian ready to hold those who were meaningful to him close. Bookmark here

“Geez…” Noah said while he continued to hug the android, her smooth clothes comforting the palms of his hands. “Don’t worry about what you said. That doesn’t matter. I’m already happy.”Bookmark here

Dolly closed her eyes and let herself relax. She felt at peace for the first time; Her mind, cleared from any stressful thoughts that once lingered with anxiety and frustration.Bookmark here

All Dolly could feel was the sensation of being a gleeful person, who longed for the ability to communicate with humans properly. Her ears could hear the waters celebrating her choice of opening up as the crystal river reflected their cuddle.Bookmark here

"Ah..."Bookmark here

Noah eventually let go of Dolly, and as usual, illustrated his quirky smile. His hair bounced cheerfully from his excitement, his eyes twinkled the sounds of calm waves.Bookmark here

“Do you feel better? I sure hope so because I do ahahaha!”Bookmark here

Dolly sighed at his cringy statement, yet she couldn't help but smile, her arm reaching out to shake his to further their partnership.Bookmark here

“Let’s shake on it, from now on, we can tell each other what we know.”Bookmark here

Noah smirked. He was definitely feeling much happier, seeing that Dolly was being attentive to him.Bookmark here

“Sure, I can do that, and you can even say this is my way of helping you, I want to help you find the bastard that did this to the world.”Bookmark here

Hearing Noah cursed out the scientist seemingly tugged Dolly’s emotions for a second, but she wasn’t sure why.Bookmark here

That feeling… why did it feel-Bookmark here

His hand never reached the soft touch of Dolly's palm, but rather, the android gazed in horror as Noah's body was suddenly hovering in the air. A sharp, extended claw from the monster standing ever so proudly behind him had pierced through his thigh and arm. It let out a small celebratory shriek, while a streak of blood leaked from Noah's arm, and his pants started to get soiled.Bookmark here

His stunning oceanic and silver eyes glanced back at Dolly with fear.Bookmark here

Before the colors of his gaze vanished and he closed them permanently.Bookmark here

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