1. Sora Moore (Our Recovered Null-Void MC Foxy Mom!)
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The chaotic Saturday evening went by like the whirlwind Sora had come to expect from her crew, and the reappearance of her aunts added yet another spice to the mix that exploded into Emilia questioning her great-aunt about the ‘handsome’ young Primordial she’d spied on with Seiōbo.
Sora half blamed herself for her daughter’s sudden spike in the romantic drama genre, but Emi was far more interested in the ‘real life’ equivalence: i.e., Tola and White or this new development with Nari and this mysterious ‘forbidden love.’
Although Nari wasn’t necessarily in that kind of romantic category. More likely, she saw a hot guy and began to daydream, but Emilia was thrilled to indulge in that fantasy, which involved the two on a cold day, meeting in a coffee shop—of course, she had to spill it on him in the most classic meet and greet scenario.
It was right out of one of the dramas they’d watched together, with Nari being the insert character, and Sora could see it being a healthy development for her daughter as she drew toward her first teenage years.
The number of people that were drawn to their house for Jin’s pre-birthday celebration was a bit much for the dragon—who was very used to being alone; Sora intervened to draw her away when she saw the girl getting overwhelmed, which was funny, considering she was ninety-nine years old, and who knew how much of that was time manipulated through dimensions?
Jin didn’t do much talking about herself, yet asked a decent amount of questions. Sora was happy to see her not instantly rejecting the attention, and Eyia’s antics always helped when she challenged the dragon to various games, such as ‘hide and seek in the haunted woods’—Seiōbo’s impish game with her as the monster—Eyia lost trying to take on the beast.
Sora couldn’t help silent laughter as Jin and she floated down from their hiding spot in the high branches as the ‘dark crawler’—Seiōbo as a giant spider—scurried off to chase Emilia and Vix; Eyia was wiggling in her silken trap that even she couldn’t break.
“Classic,” Jin whispered, cutting her down from the base that allowed for the rest of the impervious silk to unravel. “You’re so hopeless.”
Sora would have said she sacrificed herself for Emilia when she’d been spotted—the girl forgot to hide the tips of her tails in a bush—but the reality was that it was all coincidence. Now that she thought about it, Aiden could have been involved with the collapsed branch that made noise for the valkyrie to appear with his causality manipulation.
“Hmmm… Seiōbo is a tricky opponent,” Eyia said, shaking off the silk. “Her web cannot be pierced due to the dimensional variance and dense anti-spatial particles; avoidance is critical when confronting this foe.”
Sora just smiled at her strategy. Leave it to Eyia to turn games into hardcore training, but that’s my icy sister for you, she internally mused.
“The game is not to be caught, straw brain,” Jin snickered.
Eyia flexed her fingers before summoning her shimmering sword that released even more fog and revealed the twelve barbarian berserkers whose spirits were imbued into the dazzling, crystal-like sword.
A small brightened the valkyrie’s face as she held out a hand for Jin to curiously take in a wrist clasp; Eyia’s sign of sisterhood. “In this game, there is a method of freedom via the bonds of those we trust, and you have succeeded in saving me from my confinement—rivals support each other—and my gut tells me I am lacking compared to your recent developments.”
Sora’s heart warmed at the response; Eyia wanted to use this opportunity to find areas she was lacking in when facing a stronger opponent, yet knew she wouldn’t lose because Jin would rescue her, even while competing—she had total trust in the dragon Founder.
Jin sighed, rubbing the back of her neck. “I don’t know what recent developments you’re talking about, but running into danger while expecting me to save your fat butt is annoying…”
“My butt is made of muscle—very little fat is—” she cut off as Jin lightly jabbed the much taller girl’s shoulder.
“Oh, shut up and go be the hero.”
“Someone, save me!” Emilia squealed from within the veil of white as Sora heard both her daughter and her little fox pet get strung up. “The evil spider got me! Help! I need a hero!”
“You know it’s a trap?” Sora asked, smiling off in the direction of her daughter’s pleas.
Eyia grinned. “I believe my chances are slim on my own, but perhaps if you were to join me, sister, we could provide the distraction needed for the rescue.”
Jin rolled her eyes, arms crossed under her small bust, before glaring at the innocent and trusting look in the golden-haired girl’s face. “And I’m supposed to be your knight in red scales that rescues you from the bear after dipping your fingers in the honey pot?”
The valkyrie blinked in bewilderment. “Bear… honey… Seiōbo has taken the form of a giant Spider? Honey would be excellent for—”
“You’re impossible,” Jin hissed, but it was followed by silent laughter. “Go be you…”
Sora shrugged and spread out her four chakrams, leaving her lower hair in a swiftly created Null-Void metal band to remain in place. “Operation ‘Rescue Helpless Daughter’ is a go.”
“And Vix-chu?” Eyia asked as Sora created her body double.
Not particularly wanting to, yet knowing her daughter would cry to go back if she didn’t, she let out a low discharge of “I guess…”
Sora caught Jin’s smirk that said the Korean girl knew about her annoyance with the small fox, and Eyia nudged her head toward Emilia’s cries in the swirling mist, making motions with her hand that said to keep between their formation.
Darting out, the berserkers tried to defend against the webs, but one by one, they were wrapped in the silk, and, to Sora’s surprise, Seiōbo fully encased them so they couldn’t just disperse into the mist to escape.
One of her chakrams was caught, and the second the thread latched onto her, Sora’s gut tightened—her perception of Existence became an impossible maze—Seiōbo had somehow created a pocket of twisting reality around the copy that had her lose all track of where it was.
She could burn a path through the walls, but Sora had no idea where she was going since Seiōbo had basically created an ever-shifting vortex of Existence; it was her first time encountering such a tactic, and spoke to her aunt’s experience.
Her chakram exited in some distant area—she couldn’t even conceptualize the distance to recover—forcing her to abandon it and create another copy.
I cannot let my real chakram be caught; I could end up in Africa for all I know—and by my own design! She’s basically made a pandora’s box of connection points throughout the omniverse.
Sora hadn’t expected to learn something, but Eyia was right, you could make just about anything training when dealing with stronger people.
A thread shot at supersonic speeds toward her, yet a frost-like mirror crystalized nearby—one of Eyia’s items—and she passed through it just as the web split around the object to cocoon them both.
Passing through it, she entered some kind of parallel frozen world, ice crashing around her as thread broke through the dimensional barriers, chasing her chakram and body; glaciers crashed against each other in the infinite space of floating ice, pillars moving to block the speeding web.
Sora’s mouth dropped open as the silk split into numberless branches to enclose everything in sight, creating some kind of cage; yet another shimmer brought the mirror back for her to enter the foggy woods again.
The biting chill ceased, and she was impressed by her aunt’s magic again after countering everything Eyia threw at the vulpes, and the valkyrie shot across her path to engage the giant black arachnid that pounced at such a speed that Sora couldn’t hope to match upon exiting.
Two of the barbarian women took the silk that went in for a pincer attack, and Eyia’s spear appeared in her hand through pulsating rainbow hues for the valkyrie to throw it at the spider—invisible thread stopped both it and Eyia, having emerged from hidden dimensional edges that seemed to surprise the warrior; Sora was right in front of her enthralled daughter, though.
Sora’s clone cut through Vix’s hanging thread as she did the same to her daughter’s, catching them; her copy weapons expanded, creating an Existence slipway to escape through.
“You’re so cool, Mom!” Emilia squealed. “B-But what about Auntie Eyia?!”
“Shhh!” Sora chided, expanding her true chakram—the only one she had enough control over to do one of her new techniques—and slipping it around them to generate a Null-Void bubble.
Emilia breathed in awe as colors she’d never seen before mixed around them. “So pretty… Mom, what are you doing?”
She forced a chuckle as her clone chakram was encased in webs, yet they remained undiscovered. “I call this Null-Void Technique: Invisible Mode. If someone doesn’t know how to navigate the Null-Void, they can’t hope to find us—checkmate!”
Her daughter accepted a chirping Vix in a hug as her clone released it from the wrapping and vanished. “So awesome; Auntie Eyia, though—she needs our help!”
“Eh-heh…” Sora motioned her daughter to the Null-Void sphere she’d made as the impossible-to-perceive space began to show gaps, revealing the woods. “I can’t keep this up for long yet, and your Auntie Jin will help—”
“Sister, we have been captured—go on without us!”
“Ugh…” Sora hung her head as she heard Eyia’s shouts.
“No,” Jin growled. “I saved you; you just rushed right back at her and got us both caught, blunder butt!”
“How does one’s butt blunder?”
“Uahhgh—kill me, please!”
Emilia giggled, but Sora saw her daughter’s pleading eyes. “We’re going to get caught—no shot we actually save them this time.”
“We go down as a family!” Emilia cheered, hearing her bushy brown-tailed sister’s cry in the distance. “No! Not Auntie Wendy, too…”
Their ears twitched when Liz’s voice penetrated the fog from the opposite direction. “Oh, c’mon!”
“Got ya, babe—oof…”
Sora snickered at Liz’s dull voice as Aiden was caught.
“Got me, huh, babe?”
“Give it time… Yes, knew you had us, Tola!”
Emilia’s eyes sparkled at the addition of the Blue Councilwoman. “Mom! If Tola is here, White will save her; we could win against the spider with White’s help!”
Sora wasn’t so sure. She could see the man performing some dramatic save of Tola that Seiōbo would set up with her sister’s help; there was no way Nari wasn’t a double agent, and it would make for a funnier story.
They managed to save Wendy and the bickering valkyrie and dragon; Jin just couldn’t get over Eyia’s inability to understand similes, yet the dragon couldn’t stop herself from using them, which made the banter keep going around in entertaining circles.
Sure enough, though, eventually, Nari revealed herself as the ‘evil twin sister’ who had infiltrated their ranks, devastating Emilia at the deception—she didn’t see it coming at all—and as a surprise twist, White betrayed Tola, being the ‘Spider King.’
He got close enough to Tola, Aiden, and Liz’s party to counter the firebird’s causality manipulation, capturing them while Seiōbo and Nari pinned down the others.
Something Sora found quite amusing due to the context that her aunts were the queens and how that connection bridged; the playful comment had her daughter’s head spinning.
Once the game was done, Seiōbo dismissed the pocket dimension, revealing they’d been in Sora’s house the entire time; it became time presents before dessert, which mostly came in the form of clothes and accessories.
Emilia mostly took inspiration from Korean fashion catalogs she’d gotten from White on request: shorts, blouses, skirts, stockings, and, to top it off, a traditional hanbok—mentioned and guided on its creation by White—for her special day tomorrow when she became an adult Founder dragon.
Sora recalled the jewelry she’d worn in Miami and used the Realm’s power to teleport to the ruby mountain where Emilia had crafted her pendant and crafted an arm brace, infusing it with a Null-Void coating; she used a very healthy chunk of her energy to make it fairly indestructible so she could use it as a guard if needed.
Everyone else had simpler gifts since it was such short notice, but Jin accepted each one with a sheepish smile; Sora was happy the dragon was opening up to everyone—it had taken over a year and her fears to build to the point of confiding in her.
Sora was a little sad she didn’t have her family for what was supposed to be a special occasion for the dragons, but that could have also been Jin’s own doing in distancing herself from her own community.
It came as a shock to her that the cocky and powerful girl had a confusing inferiority complex when it came to being a 2nd Generation Founder; it didn’t help that she was younger than her very distant nieces and nephews and had been constantly compared to their race’s paragon.
Jin drew closest to Nari and Seiōbo throughout the day, though, and it made sense; only the pair knew the world Jin was supposed to be born into—at the beginning of the 2nd Generation—and could tell them stories that made the mountain that was her eldest brother seem far less intimidating.
Sora couldn’t help laughing with Jin—the Korean girl’s face red with entertainment—as Seiōbo painted the dragon’s idol and bane as a socially awkward fool that pined for Nari’s attention—something the blonde hadn’t experienced after reviving—and Gong-Gong did it in the most ridiculous ways.
From writing terrible poetry to attempting to learn how to dance or sneaking her into his mother’s palace to play tricks on his siblings, Nari had him wrapped around her finger and, most importantly of all, against their mother’s wishes, showing defiance to her authority was actually something the Dragon Mother respected.
The final gift came from Nari and Seiōbo. Sora sat a little straighter upon seeing Jin’s expression upon receiving a rather charming, red-jade binyeo with a dragon’s head fashioned from green, translucent imperial jade.
“You’re… giving me this for my birthday?” Jin whispered, seemingly more captivated by the item than anything she’d received, sparking Sora’s interest.
Nari giggled as she held it up for Jin to take. “I remembered something my mother said in one of our lessons on your family. For female dragons Founders, it is customary for her to receive a binyeo on her day of maturity in a coming of age ceremony.”
Seiōbos nodded. “White doesn’t know the ceremony, and I wasn’t able to attend any since your eldest sister was still younger than you when I last saw her, but she was looking forward to receiving one from her mother. I hope this is appropriate.”
“Heh… who cares,” Jin mumbled, fixated on the hairpin in her palm. “It’s not like she’s here. Thank you,” she whispered, showing a true smile as she fought back tears. “It really does… mean a lot.”
Eyia cocked her head. “Do you stab someone with it? I received my first weapon from my father on my first kill.”
“Meathead…” Jin mumbled, using one hand to toss a couch cushion at her head; she simply caught it. “No. It’s something symbolic. Really, thank you, Nari, Seiōbo.”
Nari flashed her teeth, tail wagging. “Of course! I’m sure Gong-Gong would have wanted to give one to you; Bobo says he was very protective of Nüwa. I wish I could have met her, but I guess I will.”
“Me too…” Jin mumbled, still studying the binyeo. “Eldest Sister Wahuang is what most dragons call her… Empress Wa. The most beautiful dragon to have ever been born.”
Sora could hear the apprehension in Jin’s voice, and it struck her that the girl had been imprinted with a repository of information from her mother since birth; her view of things would be skewed from that perspective, yet, at the same time, she fought against any influence her brother had.
Jin loved and hated her mother—wanted to know and reject her—her mother was an enigma yet more familiar than she knew herself in an utterly confusing way. No wonder she was so intimidated by the giants she’d been born into the shadow of.
Sora knew the little family she was trying to bring the dragon into would never be a replacement for the one she felt isolated from, but she could show her there was a family that was here for her no matter what.
Emilia jumped forward to follow her great-aunts’ advice on crafting Jin’s silky black hair into a bun to show off the binyeo, but the dragon politely refused, saying she couldn’t wear it until 4:23 p.m. tomorrow; the sad vulpes perked up when Jin said she could be the one to craft her hair when it was time.
Dessert came next, followed by more talks until 11 p.m. hit, and everyone departed for bed; Jin rose to the 6th dimension to meditate, thanking everyone for everything they’d done today, and Sora could sense most of the stress on her shoulders had fallen away.
Waving her off, she wondered how Emilia would handle her first birthday—which happened to be more like her 13th. Her daughter joined her in the time-accelerated room from time to time, she knew it would come sooner than she expected.
Sora glanced down at her mother’s bracelet on her wrist, knowing she wouldn’t miss her granddaughter’s first birthday—and, hopefully, she’d have more concrete information on where the matriarch of their family was being held.
Is it possible Jin’s mom has her reasons for staying away like my mom did? Who knows… but, in the end, she’s not alone anymore. Eyia, me, and now my aunts… she’s building her own little family.
“Going to brush your teeth or get cavities, Mom?!” Emilia called from upstairs.
Sora giggled upon hearing her daughter’s eight short tails wagging with her brush strokes; it was a cute habit the vulpes child had developed. “Oh, no! Not the cavity monsters! You’ll have to save me from them, Captain Tail Wag!”
“Wha! Mom, you know I can’t help it!”
“I think it’s cute.”
Wendy chuckled on her way to her room, using a floss pick; she usually had one by her bed that became a collection over the week before cleaning up. “She has a point, Emi.”
“No! It’s annoying… Stop wagging!”
Teasing Emilia about how adorable she was, Sora cleaned up for the night and went to bed; it had been a great day. She loved that they were beginning to celebrate birthdays and couldn’t wait for the next one; they were really beginning to feel more like a family.
Tomorrow, they’d be there to support Jin in her transition from an Imugis—a lesser dragon—into a full-fledged, young Korean dragon.
Mofupsi cleaned up the house with a snap of her fingers—performing her sister-maidly duties—before joining Sora in her fox form at the foot of her bed; life as a family was good.
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