Stranders – Oneshot

A trio of robotic dolls reach a deserted island.

Usil was the first to open her eyes. She blinked and sputtered, seawater still choking her breathing pipes. Standing up on her elbows, she checked her body to see if everything was yet in order. On the white sand of the farthest shore, the lingering murmur of the Sightless Sea echoed through her perceptors; she roamed her hands all over her body, to do a quick check-up. Her sensors picked up the usual murmuring whine from her core engine, humming through the sable-colored plates that composed her dermal layer. She reached her hair and pulled them back, squeezing salt water out of them. 

“Did we make it?” She stood on her legs now, one dark-skinned figurine on a line of glistening diamond dust. 

The wreckage of their boat answered her: it lay drunken on its side, already half-submerged by the treacherous waves, surrounded by flotsam and jetsam that used to be their belonging, their provisions for their mission, their precious tools. 

But all that did not matter. In that moment, her intro-ceptors crackled alive with joy, rushing onto her chest in waves of golden joy. She put her gloved fingers to her forehead, screaming: “girls, we made it!”

Usil turned to look for her companions. 

A few steps to her right lay a taller woman, with the same sable skin and the same black hair, but hers reached to the small of her back. She was dressed in thicker and more rugged clothes, lined in brown leather. “Thiur!” Usil waved rushing at her, leaving behind a few puffs of diamond-like sand as she screamed her name. “Thiur!

“Nine more minutes,” the taller girl huffed, turning on her side. “I carried you two through a stretch of storm and I don’t even get to lay on the sand for a while?”

“Oh, stop it you,” Usil laughed crouching next to her, “you’re just cranky because we aren’t praising your strength as much as you’d like.”

The other one scoffed, feigning ignorance, crossing her fit arms over her rounded chest. 

“Maybe? I mean, I didn’t even hear a-”

“… Thank you,” Usil interrupted her, passing a hand through her wet and sticky hair. “I don’t even know if we are allowed to drown, and I wasn’t keen on finding out. You were amazing out there.”

“It’s just a stretch of angry sea. I’m sure the island has something more in store for us three,” she replied, sitting up at last, white sand sticking to her clothes and hair and half her face, making her look like she just rolled in sugar. “Speaking of which, where is Pulum?”

“Let’s go look for her,” Usil helped her up, even though with Thiur being a good head taller than her and a who knew how many times stronger, it was more of a considerate gesture than anything else. But it was enough. Their friendship was based on tiny stuff like these: small considerate gestures. She had a feeling they were going to need this kind of stuff if they were to survive her on the farthest shore. 

“She’s probably picking up shells or something like that,” Thiur said, with a disinterested tone but already scanning the horizon for the third member of their group. “You know how she gets.”

“Well, she’s going to be a great help cataloguing what little we have left,” Usil replied, looking at the wreck of their ship and the crown of lost supplies floating about amidst the roaring waves and the dark, foaming whirlpools. There was no salvaging those. Maybe Thiur could swim through them once or twice, but with each wave as the sea withdrew and hurled forward another tide, black shiny rocks, sharp as knifes, bit onto the skin of the sea. 

The idea of watching her companion crash against those sent shivers through her intro-ceptors. 

“Pulum! Where are you?” Thiur shouted, but her voice got lost in the rumbling of the waves and the winds coming from the forested inside, a thick line of green that extended from one end of the island to the other, rising onto hills and blasted mountains. And amidst all that, there was no trace of their last friend. 

“We should split up,” Usil said pointing her arm to her left. “We should cover more ground.”

“As long as we don’t get lost as well.”

“Tall as you are, you stick out like a black-haired poppy.”

“Thanks for pointing out I’m stunning,” Thiur replied with a smirk, flicking her hair, which was somewhat diminished in its dramatic effect with how wet they were. She chuckled and began to walk a little farther from her, widening their lines of footsteps.

“Pulum,” Usil called out cupping her hands on her mouth. She had seen mothers do the same back home, when they were worried about their children running away. It made sense to do the same: weren’t they the last three children of the Hearthwomb? “Pulum!”

Again, no answer. 

She slowed down, her eyes following Thiur as she began to trace an arc, aiming for the forest. Which did not really make sense. Where was she…?

Her intro-ceptors started to fray at the edge with worry.

“Come out, Pulum!” Usil picked up pace. “Pul-”

Her voice died in her throat. 

Behind a large black rock that had insofar hid her from view, standing with her legs in the water, stood a petite and slender version of her, her short black hair hanging against her cheeks by water. She looked out at the sea that had locked them out of any route back home, stunned, her mouth hanging open, as if to hold onto a breath which she would never take. Her hands lay limp at her side, her thin white clothes hangin from her slight chest. 

“Pulum!” Usil began to ran. The waves were rolling around the smallest of their trio, threatening to pull her in at any moment. What was she doing? Of all the moment she had to get lost in one of her fantasies… 

Thiur spotted her as well. Dashing on sand so quick she left a line of sharp diamond clouds behind her, she threw herself at the smaller girl, curling her in an embrace and picking her up. Usil had barely reached the line where sand turned wet when Thiur poured her down on the sand, still stunned beyond belief. 

“What kind of trick are you pulling now?” Thiur frowned, shaking her slightly. 

“She’s out of it. I might have to pull a soft reboot.”

“Already? It’s not even been a day!”

Pulum’s hands reached for the white sand. She picked up a handful and let it slowly fall, dispersing the white grains in the wind, each of them glistening in a thousand refracted colors.

“It’s polycarbonate,” she whispered. “It’s not silica. Traces of tetracerarmid and complex plastics. It’s… it’s true. It’s all true. Who knows what else remained… the interior must be full of remains from the Capsizing…”

“And you have to stay sharp to see it!” Thiur punched her shoulder with enough strength to make her wobble. Her blue eyes focused back on the two of them and a thin smile dawned on her lips.

“Girls? Sorry. I was a bit out there. We… we made it!”

“We did, and for a bit I feared it would just be the two of us,” Usil said pulling her in a hug. Thiur did the same, drawing the two of them to her and brushing her forehead against Pulum’s neck.

“You pull anything like that again…”

“She won’t,” Usil answered for her, killing the ensuing argument. “Will you, Pulum?”

“No. Sorry. I got lost in the moment.”

“At least we found you,” Thiur sighed, withdrawing from the embrace and looking down at her clothes, as if the momentary outburst of emotions left her lessened or weakened. 

“We ought to stay close from now on,” Usil mused, holding onto Thiur and Pulum’s hands. She looked onto the island’s interior. It seemed to stare back, with its store of mysteries and ruins that had not been seen for an age. “We have no way back, little to no supplies, and no idea what awaits for us. But we’re together, and together we’ll be alright. We’ll complete our mission, find what remains of the old world and make the King proud.” Usil beamed and lifted their hands up at the sky. “Welcome, to the farthest shore. Welcome to Anthilia!”

Author’s Notes: I wanted to write something different from Patina for today’s update. I am planning a whole story with these three. I think I’ll start publishing it after Patina, but for the time being wanted to show something new to you. I hope you liked this little piece. Thanks for reading!


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