NBA Chapter 3

Fat Dog

The white clock tower was larger than it had seemed from a distance. It leaned against the opposite building, and created a makeshift archway. Kayla glanced up at the stagnant clock hands above, easily as tall as her, only much sharper. After what happened at the subway she was reluctant to go under it. But none of the others seemed to have such reservations. 

”Botty, Botty, Botty, Bot~~ ♪ ” 

Tara held onto Nanny Bot’s hand and swung their arms back and forth as they walked. She hummed an odd tune in time to their steps and seemed happier than she had in a long time. The bot did too, more so, if that was possible.

It turned to her and extended its other hand,「Hold hands?」


Kayla stared at the outstretched metal hand. And glanced over at Bunbun and James. They had already walked in under the clocktower, and in the shadows their slumped figures appeared extra sulky. She carefully placed her hand in its. 


Kayla pressed her lips tighter together. Her arms were spread out as far as they could reach on either side of her and her ears defensively pulled back. She stood her ground. 


James narrowed his eyes and adjusted his grip on the metal pipe. His tail swayed irritably. He stepped to his left, she stepped to his left. He stepped right, she stepped to the right. He hissed in frustration. 

“Kayla what do you want me to do?!” He partially let go of the pipe and waved his left hand in exasperation, “We can’t let it keep following us! It’s dangerous!” 


The metal was warm. She expected it to be cold, or scorching hot due to the sun, but it was close to body temperature. It bent its fingers around hers, and the gentle action was far from what she would expect from a bot. She marveled at the sensation. 

Then the sun disappeared. She looked away from their joined hands and watched the tower above as they continued into the shadows. After a few steps, she felt her hand being pulled at. The bot was lightly swinging their arms, just as Tara did with its other. Back and forth. Back and forth. 

Before she knew it, they exited on the other side. She lifted her other hand to shield from the sunlight. And looked over at the bot. She opened her mouth, and closed it. Her brows furrowed at herself, she lowered her head.


He was right. She knew he was right. But it had saved them. It was the sole reason they were still here, and James still alive. That didn’t mean she wanted it after them, for it to stalk them— She didn’t want to wake to glowing eyes in the night ever again. But she didn’t want James to hurt it either. 

It almost seemed ridiculous to think he could, after what they just witnessed. But it hadn’t fought back the last time, she didn’t see why it would now. 

She raised her chin and opened her mouth, but the childish voice that sounded wasn’t her own— “Nooo!” Tara pointed at James and stomped her chubby leg, two actions that together were quite ridiculous. “Saved you! You-you… meanie!” 


“How?” A simple mumble, nearly inaudible. She slowed, and her hand slipped out of the bot’s grip. She threw a glance at the others again. 

Nanny Bot stopped and turned, its blank face stared directly back at her. She faltered as she met its gaze, but still whispered, “How did you do that? W-Why did you do that?” She couldn’t backtrack now, but she needed to know. 

It tilted its head to the side, and blinked at her. It did not understand the question. 

“Why did you save us?” 


Kayla nodded. She agreed. He definitely was a meanie for trying to destroy it after it just saved him. Definitely. 

James didn’t give up, “We have to. It—“ 

Tara puffed out her cheeks and fumed, then ran behind her and hugged the bot’s leg “Saved ussss!”


It remained silent. She sighed. Shook her head ever so slightly. And began to walk forward. She didn’t know why she had expected it to answer. It was just a ghost. But then it untilted its head, and with a slight buffer said, 

「F-f-feeling should. Wanted.」

She stopped. And processed its words. It felt like it should, and simply wanted to? She was at a loss for words. “Umm…” 

It reached out and, when she didn’t respond, asked, 「Hold hands?」

She hesitated and raised her arm. At that moment she happened to make eye contact with James and received his disapproving glare. She met his glare straight on and grabbed the bot’s hand. It was a reflex at this point. 

“Sure.“ She smiled at the bot. 


Kayla nodded again. It did save them. 

Tara buried her head against the bot, and shouted, “James is a dummy! Kayla is best! Botty is coming with!” 


Kayla nodd— Wait, what now? 


Nanny Bot’s eyes flashed bright in excitement. And it waved their arms together with even more gusto than before as they continued forward. She almost thought it would start humming at any time now as well. It was… cute. 

The thought was unexpected, but true. 

And as the three of them walked harmoniously hand in hand, the contrast between them and the two individuals ahead only grew. Kayla glanced over at their two sulking figures. James was a lost cause, but Bunbun…

She turned to the bot, “Why did you call Bunbun a ’fat dog’?” 

Bunbun paused and his ears perked up. He hadn’t looked back but definitely heard her question, perhaps she could patch this up easier than she thought.

The bot faced her, 「Fat dog is fat dog.」

Or not. So fast… Unlike before the response was immediate. She didn’t dare glance over at Bunbun. How should she fix this? The wind blew her hair into her face, she swiped it away. Ah, he hated to be called this but. 

“Ehh, if anything, wouldn’t he be a bunny?” 

Don’t look. No eye contact. She wasn’t aware he was listening, nope. 

The bot stared at her, then re-scanned Bunbun. She was a bit impressed the rays reached that far. And of how Bunbun pretended he didn’t notice, even as they swept over him. The scan concluded. 

「Incorrect size. Conclusion: Fat Dog.」

Bunbun stopped— That word again— He dug his claws into the ground and his body tensed to the point it trembled. He barely kept it contained. 

Kayla hummed. She didn’t get where it got “dog” from, but, to be fair, he was way too big to be a regular bunny. In that case, 

“How about a fat bunny?”

He whipped around, his reaction so quick and explosive she nearly didn’t get to finish— “KYUU!!!” 

Bunbun stood in their way and panted from his outburst. They stopped. And the first to speak up was unexpectedly James. He half-turned and addressed the bot, “He isn’t an animal, he’s a shifter.” 

He was sticking up for Bunbun, though his dead voice made it sound like he could care less if it knew or not. He resumed walking. 

Nanny Bot looked from him to Bunbun. It did a thorough data search. 

「Shifter. No information.」

It had no network access. The search was limited to its preexisting data on the common interstellar races, and those native to this planet. 

James scoffed and spoke without looking back, “That’s kinda the point.” 


Kayla rolled her eyes. She let go of the bot to tie her hair back and keep it out of her face, “We didn’t know either, remember? We almost ate him.” 

Tara’s eyes widened, “WHAT!? You tried to EAT BUNBUN??” 

Ah. Right— Kayla winced from her shrill voice— They had found Tara a mere month after, but obviously, she hadn’t been there when Bunbun and they first met. She gave up on tying it and let her hair fall back down. How do you explain to a four-year-old that they trapped and almost barbecued someone who was essentially her best friend? If Seth hadn’t intervened… She leaned around the bot to make eye contact with Tara. “Yes.” 

Tara gaped. Her confused face clouded over with something akin to betrayal, or outrage. Kayla hurriedly waved her hands in the air, as if she could physically wipe the expression off her face, “BUT we clearly didn’t.” 

She gestured toward Bunbun and pleaded for help. Bunbun snorted, and turned away. Was that because she said “fat bunny”? She should have known he would keep grudges. Dammit. She opened her mouth and met Tara’s eyes, “I mean—“ 

Tara brought out the pouting lip, and, like Bunbun, turned away dramatically. 

Kayla stuttered a few aborted syllables. And her whole body deflated. Dammit. Then James spoke again, “Seth knew. And stopped us.” 

It was short, but the first time he mentioned Seth since the explosion. Her drooped ears cautiously rose as she picked up where he left off.

“He noticed the star-shaped birthmark under his right paw…” She smiled at the memory, then knocked the bot’s arm, “Shifters aren’t from our planet, and they were supposedly even rarer here before The End than after. It’s not that strange you bots don’t have information on them.” 

「”The-End”? 」

Kayla nodded, “Yeah, can’t say how it was during the war, but X-ers don’t respond to Shifters who are in animal form now at least. So more survived.”

She glanced around. They had left the main city, there were the suburbs left, after that there was only woodland. It would be some days before they reached the next town. She eyed the villas. Some of the more poorly constructed had succumbed to partial or complete collapse, but there were many standing. 

They weren’t out, but it might be a good idea to forage for supplies while they still coul— Her heart froze. That sound. She blindly grabbed the bot’s arm to get it to stop and stand still. And listened. Tried to hear it over her own heartbeats. 




There it was again. Metallic footsteps, X-er footsteps. 

She frantically looked for the source, the direction, and for places to hide. Again. It happened again. For it to happen again. Three times. Three days in a row. Just how many X-ers were there in this accursed city?! She gritted her teeth. She needed to— She needed to— 

A metal hand touched her shoulder. She jumped, her fur standing, and spun around. Blue eyes. The bot, ghost, nanny. Right. Right. It could handle them for them. Right. She placed a hand on her chest, closed her eyes, and focused on her breaths. In and out. In and out. It wasn’t until she started to calm that she realized just how erratic they had gotten. But it was okay, it was okay. 

Back in control, she opened her eyes. And was met with three, (or four?), pairs of worried gazes. Being at the end of them made her a bit embarrassed, especially since she so obviously overreacted in front of everyone. 

She forced a laugh, to cut through the tension, and rubbed her neck, “I heard… X-ers…” Her hand fell back to her side, she looked away and shrugged. 

There was a morbidly awkward pause. She didn’t want anyone else to panic the way she first did, so she slapped the bot’s back, and extra cheerfully said, “But you will take care of them with that super beam of yours right?” 

It was pretty much a rhetorical question, a half joke, she hadn’t expected an answer. But she got one. The bot turned to her. Blue eyes met hers. 


Recharging? What does—





Everyone froze. James’s and her eyes found each other. They widened. 

They needed to hide! 


I hope the cuts in the first half of the chapter weren’t too jarring, I felt some gaps needed to be filled in and wanted to try something new. 


Nanny Bot who got to hold hands —> ・:*+.\(( °ω° ))/.:+

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