B5 — 31. Week 9; I Won’t Lose

PoV:

1. Sora Moore (Our Pissed Null-Void MC!)

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Releasing the air in her lungs in a gradual stream, Sora sat on a lawn chair on a grassy hill, observing her sister’s two pets fight; Rita was a bit of a scaredy-fairy, but when it was just against Kedragor, she got over her social fright.

Sora had to wonder if each of Wendy’s creations were a little piece of herself projected into reality.

Kedragor, the big dragon that was too large and awkward to really get close to cuddle.

Rita, the overly shy and cowardly fairy.

Vix-chu, the hidden little envious vixen within that projected… something; Sora was a little leery as to what the impish fox represented in her sister.  All she knew was that he was a total stinker that tried to annoy her at every turn.

Her attention was pulled to Wendy as she chuckled beside her, casting her eyes to Sora as she shifted in the lawn chair she had crafted.

“What are you thinking about with that look on your face?”

Leaning back to stare at the heavens, Sora followed the pink clouds that cast a slight tint across the landscape.  “I have a lot on my mind, to be honest…  We’re getting stronger.”

“Mhm?”  Wendy hummed, returning to her two summons.  “I guess you are…  I’ve only got a few weeks under my belt now—which is insane—the training rooms, I mean.”

Sora’s lips pulled in.  “Hmm…  How do you think Kari’s doing?  Do you think Mofupsi can handle things if she goes crazy?”

“I knew it!”

“What…”

Wendy gave her a wry smirk.  “You can’t relax at all!  Kari’s Shadow is all you think about lately.”

“Huu-haaa.  I can’t help it,” she grunted, scratching her left ear as it twitched.  “If it would attack Kari, then we could deal with it, but if we’re including days in these time-accelerated spaces, it’s been freaking two months since she collared her, and nothing!”

“The wait’s killing you, huh?”  Wendy hummed, crossing her arms while following her bushy, brown tail poking up and swaying between her legs.  “I mean, honestly, I think Kari’s actually been super cool.  It’s like, take out the bully and leave behind the competitive sports maniac.  You know?”

“I do!  Gah!  I do…”  Sora hissed.  “It’s just… I don’t know.  Kari’s getting along with everyone so easily—it’s just weird.”

Wendy’s wry smirk pulled her gaze.

“What?”

“Haaa.  You’re jealous.”

“What?!  Okay, I’m lost now,” Sora pushed herself onto her side to glare at the brown-haired girl; ever since she’d created her pets, she’d been far bolder than she used to be.  “Are you saying I’m jealous she’s spending more time with everyone else?”

“Maybe,” Wendy shrugged, smiling softly at the two Null-Void constructs as Rita did her best to break past Kedragor’s defenses with her weird, flower-petal-based attacks.  “Jealous may be a strong word…  Mmmh?  Maybe it’s more an agitated dejection—is that a word or thing?”

Sora huffed, flicking her tails to the left as her ears twitched.  “I’m agitated yet gloomy?  Okay… how?”

“Oh, that’s easy!”  Wendy snickered.  “You’ve had Kari all to yourself, and it’s obvious she clung onto you like a little school girl…  Emilia, hmm—starting to connect the dots?  Hehe.”

“I don’t like where this is going.”

“Haha!  Of course not.  No one likes looking at themselves—I know—I hated how I treated you after breaking away, and I made all sorts of excuses for it.  Talk it through with me—see if it helps—there’s no one else around.  Heh, no need to be embarrassed!”

“I’m not.  Gah.  Hmm.  Fine!”  Wendy’s teal-blue eyes drifted to her as Sora continued.  “So, Kari basically was all ‘I can’t live without you’ and ‘do whatever you want with me’ before, and now… now she’s all sports freak again.  It’s weird.  She was shy and standoffish.  Yeah!”

Sitting up to press her fists into her lap, she huffed.  “I could tease her, and she’d blush.  She came to me about things and was excited to share them…  It felt like… like…”

“She needed you?”  Wendy whispered.

Bottom lip pulling in, Sora stared down at her thick, bound copper hair pulled over her front.  “I’m happy she…”  Sora trailed off, causing Wendy to float over to sit cross-legged in front of her on the foot of the lawn chair.  

“You’re the type of girl that needs to feel needed, huh?  I guess it makes sense, growing up together.”

“Hmm…”  Scooting back to cross her own legs, Sora puffed out a sigh.  “I didn’t think I was, but…  I like it when people need me, I guess.  Vix is stealing Emilia’s attention with Luna and Rayla.  White and Tola monopolize all her time during the day, and she talks about it all the time…  She’s trying to be her own girl; I get that.”

“Just rough?”  Wendy smiled, rubbing her knee.  “Eyia and Jin have been away doing a ton of training, too.”

Sora nodded, studying the environment around them.  “They’re working hard…  To be honest, I’m happy Eyia has been busy; I don’t know what would happen if Kari and her met… if Kari’s Shadow broke free when she’s near.  Am I insane?  Talking about it makes me feel insane.”

“Hehe.  No.  No.  I think you realize you’re also changing and projecting your insecurities outward.”

Opening her mouth a second, Sora shut it, opened it again, and shifted her creased eyes to the left.  “I… huh—I’m projecting my insecurities outward?  Explain that one for me.”

Wendy leaned back to give the sky a wistful stare.  “Let’s see…  I was the same, I think.  I needed my mom to love me… someone to love me, and after Kari scared me off, I really started to have withdrawals, I guess.”

“Really?”  Sora scooted closer, paying closer attention to her sister’s thoughtful fidgeting.  “I didn’t know that.”

Her light-brown hair shifted against her shoulders as she brought around her tail to hug it.  “Mhm.  I had to make a choice—a choice I didn’t want to make… one I put off for over a year, but Kari forced a decision.  I could keep being friends with you and continue to annoy my mom—push her away—or… break away from you and work to earn her love.”

“Earn…”

“I know!  Heh.  I know.  My mom should have just loved me, but that’s what I thought… what I felt, and I projected the guilt of wanting to see you… hang out and laugh—I won’t say I didn’t miss all the fancy stuff we did.  Hehe.  My life became so boring and… and hard, but I told myself it was worth it if my mom loved me.”

Sora looked down at her lap, pulling around her own tails to stroke them; there was something therapeutic about it: probably the endorphins the stimulation brought.

“I was so jaded about no one believing me… my psychiatrists making things up and the meds…  Yeah, the meds and the stuttering.  How my dad was turned against me by these random medical professionals… at least until Mary showed up.  I just wanted someone to believe I wasn’t insane.”

Wendy giggled, infecting Sora as she followed her.

“And look at us now; I’m a book, and you’re a frisbee!”

“Am I ever going to live that down?”  Sora sighed, rubbing the back of her neck.

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“Nope.  Emi will tease you forever.  Hehe.  Her Vulpes side?”

“Probably…”  Sora groaned.  “Despite the tails, I’ve been feeling pretty lackluster in that department lately.  It’s like my dad’s side just stamped that part out of me.”

“I can see that,” Wendy nodded, floating her book around her back to hold it up—now able to detach it from her body—flipping open the cover to thumb through the few pages.  “Back to the original topic…  I think we both fear being alone in our own way, and you don’t want to lose Kari now after growing closer to her in the past several months.”

Sora rose into the air, Wendy pursuing as she stared up at the sky in her aimless wander, wanting to move for some reason.  “I gain family members and lose them at the same time.  My… our grandma’s out there, a prisoner.  Here we are, going through our own little problems when there are people we need to protect, yet…”

“Emi?”

“Mhm.”  Sora flipped around, moving to the calm ocean in the distance as the two Null-Void creations ceased fighting to trail after them.  “I’m growing six times faster than her—six days to her one—but somehow… it feels like she’s keeping pace, and I don’t know if I want to take her on this journey to meet Jin’s big sister.”

Wendy’s solemn eyes centered on the gentle waves of the sea they were coming up on.  “But you can’t leave her.”

“Yeah…”

Silence ensued as they reached out to run their fingers over the water’s surface, leaving a small ripple; Sora’s heart and mind didn’t reflect the serene ocean as she tried to puzzle through how their conversation kept moving from Kari to her daughter.

Could I even talk like this with Kari?  I don’t know if I could…  We’ve grown closer, but not like Wendy, who I’ve known most of my life.  I’m sure I will at some point, but…

Vision going black, she dove into the embracing waters, feeling Wendy right behind her; sound dampened, yet her other senses quickly took over to provide a perfect understanding of her environment.

What are my motivations?  I don’t have some grand crusade or desire to save the universe or world…  I just want to explore and live peacefully, enjoying my time with my friends and family… but it’s like everything is against me.

Opening her chakram’s complete sight to observe the pristine underwater paradise in all its glory, Sora puffed out her lungs before filling them with water to be converted into whatever she used to sustain herself.

She couldn’t have dreamed of a more vivid vision than this magically constructed world, and it reminded her of their trips to Tahiti, but she wasn’t enjoying it at all.

Her intense training had ramped down for some time now, spending more time helping Wendy acclimate, and now she supported Kari; it could have been the compounding similarities of her daughter and Fenris Wolf friend going through similar phases of pulling away, but it sucked all the same.

At first, she was amused that Emilia couldn’t sleep without sharing the same bed, and now she missed those first few innocent weeks.  She had had something to look forward to each day, yet now Emilia pulled Wendy and Kari away to hang out, leaving her somewhat of a third wheel.

It wasn’t the twelve-year-old’s fault; it just made her wonder how much further they’d go.  Emilia used to be so clingy; now she had to wonder if she was actually the clingy one.  It had been a long time since she had friends or people to hang around, and maybe this was just things tapering off after her own high.

Scanning the flora growing across the coral reef, Sora swallowed the saliva in her closed mouth, tasting a bit of the lingering salt flavor of the ocean they flew through, feeling the current pull her hair up.

I don’t know if I can pull Emilia out of her happy little bubble here… but I know it’s the right thing to help Jin and probably the right thing for Emilia in the end, too.  Is this how Aunt Inari felt when talking to me?

Sora rose to the surface to see the setting orange sun falling across the pink-tinted ocean, Wendy stopping beside her.

“Figure it out?”  she asked, carefully filtering out the water in her Null-Void training clothes, hair, and skin.

Sora let the water drip below, not feeling the chill of the gentle breeze.  “I don’t want to ruin Emilia’s peace…  To subject her to the hardship she had to deal with after she was born, and I think I felt Kari’s gamble pissed me off so much for a lot of reasons—one being I care for her—but the other…  She could pull Emilia back into that desperate depression she was in before.”

“Hmm.  I see,” Wendy whispered, her gaze lingering on the sun.  “So… do you not want to leave?  We could continue training here until we’re strong enough to help our aunts—heh, as weird as that is to say still.  You don’t really owe Jin anything.  Right?”

Lifting her hand to stare at her palm, Sora chuckled.  “Honestly…  I owe her a whole lot, Wendy.”

“Really?”

“Even if Jin was just sticking around to pass the time or for amusement…  I don’t think I’d be here without Eyia and her…  Emilia wouldn’t have been because we would have been captured by Bathin and in Hell or dead…  Eric might have killed me without them…  Jin brought Eyia to Miami, and they caught onto my aunt’s hints that we were being followed after coming through the portal.”

Wendy’s mouth tightened.  “Mmh… I don’t want to ruin the mood, but wasn’t all of that more Aiden’s thing?  He manipulated stuff to happen this way, right?”

“It’s not fate,” Sora mumbled, fingers closing into a fist.  “He works through causality, which isn’t really foolproof but a nudge in a general direction.  Everything was her decision… to help me when Eric tried to eat me…  All of it.”

The brown-eared Vulpes circled to her front with a questioning expression.  “So… you owe her?”

Folding her arms, Sora shook her head.  “It’s not really like that…  I want to help her, I think.  I want to see her be happy, too.  From the vibes I get, she really isn’t too happy, which is why she kind of stuck around Eyia to pass the time in her mundane life.”

She laughed as Wendy scratched her right ear, lifting an eyebrow to stare at the inland.  “I know it doesn’t make much sense.  Huu-haaa…  How do I put this?”

Studying the two Null-Void entities as Kedragor gently coaxed Rita to test out flying in the water, Sora giggled; the fairy seemed to have trouble, which was why the dragon carried her before.

“I think my only option is to get strong enough to make Emilia’s life better away from this little Vulpes bubble…  As Aunt Inari said, without power, you can’t protect anything.  Want to help?!”

Wendy snickered as Sora gave her a toothy grin, spinning her book around her body.  “The plan to be strong enough that even if Kari’s Shadow shows up, you can restrain her if needed until she’s good?”

“Nope!”  Determination lit in Sora’s narrowed eyes.  “I have to unlock my Vulpes side again… for my Kari and our Aunts’ sakes.”

Turning to the sun, she summoned all four of her copied chakrams, her main body slipping away from her hair to allow her damp, copper locks to weave in the sea breeze.

“Sora… what are you doing?”  Wendy choked, floating back as Rita noticed the changing atmosphere and shot into her master’s fluffy brown tail, Kedragor positioning to defend her.  “It, uh… looks like you’re trying to blow up the sun!”

“Hehe.”  Holding her hand in front of her true chakram to summon and focus the compressed sphere of Null-Void, Sora started to generate and feed the shimmering white globe.  “Kari consumed a super planet, huh?  Well…  I’m a Star Buster.”

“Sora!  Please, don’t make a supernova; I’ve never tanked anything like that before!”

“Sure you have!”  Sora grinned, giving her sister a side-long look.  “Plus, you’re not tanking a full supernova…  You’ll see.”

“I’d rather watch from a safe, I don’t know, solar system away!”

Teeth clamping together as her fingers started to quiver with the strain of maintaining the sphere, her chakram began to glow while spinning, and her main body separated from the contained Null-Void to take its place at the end; her copy swapped with it to help to maintain the pressure, expanding to not shatter on the recoil.

“Watch carefully, Wendy…  This is what I’ve learned since I began this training.”

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“Okay…  Wooh…  I can do this,” Wendy reassured herself, trying to keep herself from freaking out at the vacuum Sora’s attack generated by pulling in Existence.  “Just… try not to die!”

Giggling, Sora drew back her hand for all her chakrams to condense with her true body at the end, ironically shrinking to the size of a frisbee.  “You ready to go?”

“No!  No!”

Sora shoved her hand forward, and the globe vanished, passing through each ring like a railgun, propelling it through layers of space to instantaneously strike its target, and… nothing happened.

Wendy breathed out a long stream of air.  “Haaa-ha-haha…  Umm…  Better luck next time.”

“Hmm-hmm-hmm.”  Sora wiped her brow, feeling something like sweat now slicking her forehead after the stress of maintaining the sphere; a massive chunk of energy exploded within her chakrams, causing tendrils of cycling white to flow around its illuminated edges.  “So naive.”

“What…  Sora… Why is your chakram glowing like that?”

“I wonder…”  she mused, easing out her chakrams to expand them to their full 3-meter width between Wendy and her.  “You know, light takes a while to actually reach us, right?”

“No…”

Sora pointed at the orange sphere descending into the ocean; of course, that wasn’t what was really happening.  “Give it a few minutes; after all, we’re in the Goldilocks Zone.”

She held her book in front of her, Kedragor ready to assist, and even Rita edged out to peek between her brown locks.

“Okay…  Okay, we can do this, guys!  A supernova… a supernova…  Yeah, we’re dead!  Oh, my—you’re insane, Sora!  What—wha…  Well, s***…”

Vision unaffected by the sun’s intense rays attempting to blind her, she smiled as a massive chunk of light instantaneously vanished, destabilizing the enormous star and triggering a supernova that would be followed by a black hole.

“Sora…  You suck.”

The atmosphere flashed as it was flooded by radiation, turning it violet while striping it away, and Sora watched in fascination as the sea instantly boiled.  The pressure of the cosmic radiation forced the vaporized steam away while Wendy and her feasted on the forces.

After a few minutes, they saw the erupting sun expanding to engulf everything, and Wendy’s lips parted in disbelief at the hellish landscape they hovered above, once lush and lovely.  “Supernovae… are actually really pretty.”

“It is,” Sora whispered, “and I have to make Emilia strong enough to do and see this herself…  I have to regain control over my mother’s side, and we need to help Kari understand her father’s side.  You with me?”

Wendy swallowed, suppressing her nervous laugh in the storm of fire racing toward them.  “Summoner Support Wendy, at your service, Sis!  Just… heh, be gentle—you hurt… a lot, and uh… this is crazy!”

“Haha.  We gotta get crazier if we’re ever going to get beyond here,” Sora laughed, smiling at the effulgence approaching the doomed planet they occupied.  “It’s time I get back to real training!  You ready, Wendy?”

Holding out her hand, her sister laughed and floated over to take cover behind the chakram, taking in the radiation as it came.  “No… but I guess I have to be, you psycho.”

Fingers intertwining, they let the cosmic waves pass, experiencing the cataclysmic beauty it brought.

I’ll be there for you, Kari, Aunt Seiōbo…  When you need me, I’ll be ready.


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