CHAPTER 6

16.

What should I do?

Currently lying in my bed, thinking about the next step that I should take. The opportunity is already in front of me, its just a matter of what should I do? Why do I have to choose? Why can I just do both? I already know the answers to these questions but it still bothers me. Any second from now will determine the future. I must decide firmly.

While looking at the window on my left side, suddenly, my digital nameplate pops out of nowhere. I was startled, it made me jump out of my bed. What is this? Why does my digital nameplate appear? Im not even casting it on my own. I used my hand to drive it away but its not closing. Normally we can show and then hide it at will, why is mine sticking at the top of my head!

I cannot understand whats happening. I was about to run towards my adult pair but my nameplate suddenly glowed. I was stunned by the circumstances, I can move a muscle. I waited as the nameplate glows even brighter then eventually, the color changed!

What on bubble… IM AN ADULT NOW!?

I don understand, what, how, why? I immediately search for the art materials that I have. Maybe Im just hallucinating, maybe this is not the same color as the adults. Im just stressed, maybe thats why…

After a couple of minutes, I managed to gather multiple colored royal blue objects; a colored pencil, notebook, spray paint, and a keychain. I compared every single one of it and everything matches the color of the digital nameplate.

I guess its official, Im an adult now…

Upon calming down, my nameplate finally closed. I stepped outside of my room, shocked, speechless. I walk towards the living room were Nato and Kari chilled.

”Whats up sweety, you look pale? Is there something wrong? ” Kari asked.

Without saying a word, I showed them my nameplate.

”OH YOURE AN ADULT NOW! CONGRATS! ” Nato energetically said.

”We should throw a feast. Ill prepare the foods ” Kari happily said as she immediately went to the kitchen.

”Right, right, Ill get the best meat from the neighbors ” Nato said as he panicked.

”Wait wait wait, why? Why are you guys so excited about it? ” I confusedly questioned.

”Because sweetie, its a new phase of your life, and we are wholeheartedly willing to support you with it ” Kari softly said.

”Kari is right, being an adult is tough. I still remember the day when Kari and I became both adults at the same time. ” Nato mentioned.

”Wait… You remember? I thought you said that the day you clearly remember was the day Kari chose you? ” I questioned.

”I did? I can remember when did I told you that but it is indeed true. Our nameplates glowed and turned into royal blue when Kari accepted me as her pair. ” Nato answered.

”Both of you became an adult when you entered that phase? Then how did I become an adult? I don even have a pair! ” I replied.

”Well I think you don necessarily need a pair to be an adult. Its all about entering a different phase ” Nato replied.

”Different phase? ” I asked.

”Yes, when Kari accepted me as her pair, I just feel like that was my fate. I have to man up and give her a comfortable life with me. My life will be entirely different with her. Just like what Ive said, its a different phase. ” Nato explained.

”Your fate… ” I silently reacted.

”Im sorry sweetie, we have to cut our chat here. I need to secure the best meat! Be back in a minute! ” Nato said as he immediately ran off.

”Be careful! ” Kari said to Nato.

I sit down on our sofa as I digest the scenario. Im about to enter a different phase… It is my fate…

Almost an hour has passed, and at 20:00, the feast has started. I tried my best to be enthusiastic during our meal. I want them to know that I appreciate their support, Im just having a hard time processing all of these.

Our feast went great, the food was delicious, Kari and Nato were clearly cheering me up, it was priceless. After our feast, we all settle for the night. I hugged them tightly like it was the last meal that I will have with them. Its probably one of the meals that I will surely remember. Kari and Nato are entirely clueless but I think they wouldn cry like last time. I just have to say goodbye.

Preparing for my next step, I got a paper and a pen, then started to write a note. Its melancholic but at least Im given a chance to say farewell. I wish I could do it personally but I might not continue if I saw them cry. I do think that they will support me all the way, its me being this attached to them is the problem. Its better to write it all down as I take this next step.

”Dear Nato and Kari

Its hard for me to tell everything. I don know where to start. Apparently, I was given this once in a lifetime opportunity that Ive been seeking for. I failed to prepare for the scenario wherein I have to choose between staying here or going out there. I finally understand it now, me, turning into an adult, this event will determine my life regardless of what I choose. I never wanted the easier one. Im sorry that I hid things from the both of you. Don worry, Ill come back. This is just a once in a lifetime expedition and I cannot afford to lose this. Ill try to keep in touch whenever I can. For now, I must leave immediately. I love you Kari and Nato, just wait for my return.

Sincerely,

Tanya, your Goddess child ”

I left the note at the table, packed up my things, went out to the window, and ran as fast as I could. Without looking back, head straight forward to the destination as the night watches me challenge my own fate.

At 21:30, I finally reached the cave where we woke up earlier.

”You showed up, we were about to leave ” Yue greeted.

”I have to see where this ends… ” I firmly stated.

”I admire the dedication, looks similar to Astris ” Yue reacted.

”Im glad that both of them have their resolve in different ways, they are just like the two of us ” Astri mentioned.

”Wait… Both of us? ” I questioned.

”Hi Tanya ” Xav greeted as he walked closer.

”XAV! ” I shouted surprisingly.

17.

The moment that I saw Xav, I was entirely shocked. Well Im glad that he showed up, but I did not expect him to go this far. We did not talk about it, meaning, regardless of my decision he will still be here.

”Why are you so surprised? ” Xav asked.

”Can you give us a minute? Thank you ” I said to Yue and Astri as I grabbed Xav out of the cave.

”What are you thinking? ” I questioned.

”Probably the same as yours ” Xav answered straightforwardly.

Upon realizing that Xav and I are on the same boat, I calmed down. ”Was it tough? ” I asked.

”Of course it was. It was so tough that Im an adult now ” Xav said as he showed his nameplate.

”WHAAAAT YOU TOO? I ALSO TURNED INTO AN ADULT EARLIER ” I reacted as I also showed my nameplate.

”Lets tell Yue and Astri, maybe they can explain why ” Xav suggested.

”No, lets just keep it to ourselves for now ” I replied as I rejected the idea.

”Why? ” Xav questioned.

”Children are treated way more carefully compared to adults. We are now entering a different place, we have to play our cards effectively or they might take advantage of us ” I explained.

”Good thinking, Yue and Astri already saw our nameplates before. They both think that we are not yet adults, the problem will be when someone else asks for our nameplate ” Xav responded.

”As long as Yue and Astri are vouching for us, we are safe. Listen Xav, even though Yue and Astri will take us there, we don fully know them yet. The only one that we can trust is each other ” I stated.

”Just incase will be having a hard time communicating, we can use the codenames ” Xav suggested.

”Codenames? ” I asked.

”Yeah, I am Worrywart right? Then Im WW. You are Curiouscat thats why you are CC. If I used your codename, it means you have to come to my aid immediately. But if I used my codename which is WW, it means Im nearby but cannot interact at the moment. The same setup if you are the one who wants to communicate with me. Lets just be both observant in order to catch our signs ” Xav explained.

After hearing his explanation, I laughed out of nowhere.

”Why? Whats wroooong? Its a good comms ” Xav complained.

”Sorry sorry, just for a second there I feel like we swapped roles. I was the one worrying about whom to trust while you are the one whos arranging the codenames. ” I said as I slowly stopped laughing.

”I guess we really are doing this save the world after all. We have to be professionals! Level up our game! ” Xav enthusiastically stated.

”Haii hai Captain W. Anyway, its about time to leave. Lets go back to Yue and Astri ” I responded.

It was exactly 22:00, and our group immediately moved out. We all need to reach the mist before 23:00. It will help us to be closer to the bubble gap, and also lessen the exposure from the fireflies. Since Yue and Astri are wearing robes, Xav will hide inside of Yues robe while Ill do the same in Astris. Its like 2 people sharing a big full body raincoat. Good thing that Xav and I are quite small.

As we ran through the night, Yue and Astri are both athletic it may seem. They do have the body build, Im just surprised that even for a speedster like me, Im no match for them. Im not even gonna talk about Xavs situation. We occasionally take a 10 minute rest for like every 10 minutes of fast walking. The mist is not yet open anyway even if we arrive there early.

After a series of fast walks and rest, Xav is about to die. I mean we finally reached the edge of the bubble with 10 more minutes to spare. Good thing the idea of rest exists because Im definitely catching my breath while Xav is catching his life force I guess.

”Well done guys, lets do a 20 minute sprint next time, that will shorten the time ” Yue said.

”IM BARELY ALIVE HERE ” Xav complained.

”Next time? ” I asked.

”Oh, right, I forgot to tell you guys. All of us have rotational tasks in order for us to live there in the nothingness ” Yue said.

”Yue and I are tasked to gather food, alongside other pairs. Children do easier tasks but they are being trained to be like us ” Astri added.

”Which means, when I said next time, Ill train you guys inside the Bubble gap in order to be like us ” Yue continued.

Xav and I immediately looked at each other, realized that we were right about the difference between children and Adults. We can investigate further if we can keep our cover.

”Yue and I were both children when we entered the Bubble gap. Lots of children randomly stumble there too. I guess mainly because adults tend to follow the Globules strictly compared to a child. Yue and I became adults there, the both of you will also change there ” Astri said.

”But what if the child does not want to be there anymore? ” I asked.

My question was interrupted when we saw some fireflies come out. ”Quick, hide in our robes, its time to enter the mist now! ” Yue instructed. Swiftly, we all moved as planned. We don want to forget anything as we enter the Bubble gap.

Moving carefully and calmly, Yue and Astri are trying their best to bring us there. Im inside Astris robe at the back side, I hug her toso while stepping on her feet, taking careful steps simultaneously. So far everything is working fine. Im kinda curious whats ahead since I can see anything. My heart beats faster and Im legitimately nervous. How far did we reach at this point? After a short while, Astri stops moving.

”You can go out now, we are here ” Astri said.

Slowly moving away from the robe, my eyes were filled with… nothingness… Aside from the visible glowing blue thingy, similar to Gluengy, at the edge of it all, the surrounding is nothing…

”Don go to that glowing thing. Thats the Ozonosphere, its not the Gluengy that you guys discovered in the cave. ” Yue warned.

Everything is just gray, literal color gray. I mean there are some tents made out of dried branches and stuff, probably from the bubble. The place looks like a dire primitive camp. I can believe what Im seeing…

”I know its shocking, I also had the same reaction back then. It will take time to digest the situation here, for now lets meet the chief ” Astri said as we all followed Yue.

18.

Walking through this vast grayness, Im starting to feel that this place is more of a cult. With their robe brown clothing, no proper shelters, and hiding away from the society, this is technically a hundred percent cult. I did not expect that Ill be joining a cult on my journey. Though I guess more heads are better than one, as long as we have the same goal then everything will be fine.

Moments later, we reached a man made cave looking place. It is where the chief lives. Yue told us to standby for the meantime as he talked with the chief first.

”I just want to ask, why does the chief have a bigger shelter compared to others? ” Xav suddenly questioned.

”Well it is designed that way in order for the people to see his place immediately. Its helpful since everyone here knows where to go if something bad happen ” Astri explained.

”Well you guys could just make it distinct in multiple different ways. Why don you guys build a bigger shelter as well? ” Xav added.

”Living in a luxurious, comfortable life is not our priority here. ” Astri said.

I can see that Xav wants to continue arguing, so I signal him to stop questioning things for now. We still don know what will happen if we defy the norms here.

After a long time of waiting, Yue came out and invited us to go in. He and the chief surely took some time.

”Come in, you guys are welcome here ” The chief said with an old tired voice. Judging from his appearance, he looks like hes been here for ages. Height on average, long white beard, bald, bad posture probably because of his oldness.

”Here are the Kids that I mentioned, Tanya and Xav ” Yue introduced us.

”Interesting, I heard a lot about the both of you. Im Gara, the chief here ” Gara the chief introduced himself as he showed his digital nameplate. Xav and I were both shocked when we saw his nameplate, mainly because of the color. The color of his nameplate is the same as this place.

”Gray… Why is it gray? ” I questioned.

”We got an observant here. Well done, Well done… ” Gara responded. ”You see, when you stay here long enough, your nameplate changes into gray. Im the first one to reach here anyway. ” he added.

”How long have you been here? ” Xav asked.

”Hmmm… I actually could not remember! ” Gara the chief said then laughed afterwards. His old tired voice is definitely creeping me out.

”Seeing both of you in the flesh made me believe that what happened out there was no accident… Its fate… ” Gara said. I don know why everything gets creepier the more that he talks. My instincts are telling me that something is behind the curtains.

”What do you mean? ” I asked.

”Most of the people here have the resolve to change the world after they left the bubble.. But you… the both of you…. You guys already have it before leaving the bubble… Interesting… ” Gara mentioned.

”If you don mind, I just want to ask what are the things that you guys discovered so far? ” Xav intervened.

”Well plenty, Im pretty much sure Yue and Astri already told you everything. A knowledge of one is knowledge of everyone here ” Gara replied.

I understand why Xav asked that question. Gara has been here for as long as he could not even remember, yet there are not that many discoveries. I personally could have discovered everything that they know in a week. But I guess Ill give them the benefit of the doubt for now, maybe this place is really scarce and unforgiving.

”About the thing that you discovered, Gluengy was it? ” Gara mentioned.

”Yes, Yue said that it was similar to the Ozonosphere, upon seeing the Ozonosphere, I agree as well. ” I answered.

”Interesting. This Gluengy that you discovered cannot be found elsewhere? ” Gara asked.

”So far its the only one that we saw. There is still a possibility of more ” I carefully answered.

”I wish that I could see that for myself, but as you can see Im too old. I might not be able to go there efficiently. ” Gara said. ”Wait, I know… Since this is a new discovery, Ill give you kids the task of studying Gluengy even more. Ill send Yue and Astri as well. What do you guys think? ” Gara offered.

”It will be an honor for us chief ” Yue said as he and Astri bowed their heads.

I personally would want to work here and observe more, but I guess this will benefit us since we are the ones that discovered Gluengy. Maybe theres more to it that we failed to assess. ”We accept ” I answered.

”Gooood, the Mist will close soon and it will be a bad idea to go back there right away. Both of you stay here for now and be ready to go back by tomorrow. ” Gara said.

”Astri, would you mind taking the kids for a tour around. Yue and I have to discuss the rations first ” Gara added.

”I understand Chief ” Astri responded as the three of us left the shelter.

As we gained distance, Astri told us that we are free to go anywhere, just not too far, especially not to cross the Ozonosphere. She will be helping the others in terms of workload thats why she can no longer accompany us.

While we were roaming around, Xav suddenly asked a question.

”Do you think its weird? ” Xav mentioned.

”In what specifically? ” I replied.

”About everything here. I do understand that the resources are scarce and none can be built from nothingness. But why do the shelters look like these? ” Xav questioned.

”What do you mean? ” I asked for clarification.

”They have an hour or so off pulling in more materials. Crops rot easily but the materials do not. Why can they prioritize shelter first? You can live for like a week or 2 without food but a person can die immediately without a proper shelter. ” Xav explained.

”I am also curious as to how many people died here. Does the Globules produce a new birth if the person dies in the Bubble gap? ” I added.

”Now that you mention it, I kinda want to know the answer to that ” Xav responded.

”I also think that theres something wrong… about Gara particularly ” I said.

”He is indeed creepy. By the way, why did you accept the mission about Gluengy? ” Xav asked.

”I think its the safer choice for now. Its evident that this place has nothing to offer, except the Ozonosphere. Not to mention, Gluengy is a new discovery for them. As the chief, he will definitely send someone to investigate it, its better that we know the info right away. ” I explained.

”Fair point. I would also prefer to be there than here. The atmosphere here is somewhat depressing. Its hard to think and formulate new ideas with this type of environment ” Xav said.

Xav being skeptical is nothing new, its like his second name. But for me, I have never been this skeptical before. I just feel like theres something off. Its like everything is intentionally made to be this way, I just don know why.

The discussion only leads us to further questions. Xav and I went back to the camp and decided to call it a day. We stayed inside Yue and Astris shelter. Its been a long day, but it is just the start of the longer ones…

End of Day X

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