POV: Kari (the daughter of Alva; granddaughter of Fenrir; Wolf 3rd Gen Founder)
Recap: Sora finally met her Shadow and made peace with herself. She now has a new drive pulling her toward Kari, and she left Alice to take care of Gurakuqi and Mimi. She’s now carrying Emilia with Mary holding her tails, and they’re going back to leave her in Jin and Eyia’s care as she tries to discover a direction forward.
Kari has gone out on her own to clear her mind, and she discovered a group of people that Fen has influenced. She’s worried about how this new cult might affect Sora. At the same time, Frankenstein just appeared before her, and struck up a conversation; Inari makes it clear that Frankenstein was the same person that gave Sora some clothes in B1 Chapter 2.
Kari’s lips were already set in a deep frown as she listened to the conversation that was somehow happening within her Core and outside at the same time, and the implications made her uneasy.
Frankenstein, a being that dealt with her father, was looking into her Core and communicating directly to her mother and Inari’s Intelligent Constructs.
She’d grown up with this type of open policy with her mother; there wasn’t anything her mother didn’t know about her. However, this felt more intrusive, and yet, she knew that he was so powerful that even the likes of Inari or her mother could likely not stop the intrusion.
The three colossal figures fell silent, causing Kari to pick between her teeth with her tongue as she glanced left at the smiling muscular man, and still, no one spoke.
The sounds of the working humans and Vulpes filtered back into focus with the pause in conversation, causing Kari to push a stream of air through her lips. Having given them ample time to continue, Kari growled darkly.
“Okay, what’s up with you? Are you talking about something secretly or something?”
“You could say that,” Frank laughed.
“Yes,” Inari said with a short pause. “Some things are louder than words and too grand to be detected by someone of your age. This is quite troubling…”
“You’re positive?” Her mother asked with a sharp tone. “I can’t imagine any of the First Generation standing idly by if that were the case.”
Frank nodded with a short shrug. “Well, of course, and I suppose Gloria, Shiva, Yìnglóng, and Anu might be involved. Nilly … I’ll come to that later. Many others might be closing in on the truth.”
Inari’s tone became curious. “The only reason why you’d bring it to us instead of my real body is that this affects someone important within our range of influence … someone that you have stakes in.
“I’m still unsure as to how you fit into the picture with Sora; you must have been involved with my niece, you’re one of the few beings that could have aided my sister with a pregnancy. You wouldn’t happen to be kind enough to share those details?”
“You are quite the opportunist, Inari,” Frank said with a fond smile. “One of my fondest memories of you was when I was discussing theories about that very topic with your mother, watching you subtly manipulate the other Second Generation Founders into making you the leader of your little creation games.”
“My mother was … she never spoke about such conversations. Does that mean that what you accomplished was based on her expertise?”
Frank leaned back, propping himself up on the rock with his hands as he closed his eyes and sucked in a breath through his teeth before letting it out in a slow exhale. “It was decided long before any of the Second Generation were born what stipulations were on each of their abilities. If one exception were made, then it would just spiderweb … although, that ban didn’t last the war.
“Of course, your mother was very dedicated to finding another way to help you and your sister, but the issue wasn’t with your physical bodies, as you know, but an issue with critical functions of your Lethera Floral Maximus in your Oltera Nexus … a core function of who you are.
“Your mother couldn’t even dream about using the simplest proven method, basically killing two of her daughters, that she loved, to fix the problem. In her eyes, it wasn’t the answer; destroying you both was not a solution. So, she came up with several other methods that assimilated with my expertise.”
Her mother’s tone grew a bit anxious as she interjected. “Do we have time for this discussion, Frank? I understand Inari’s focus on this topic, but how much time do we have with you?”
Kari’s shifted a little to get a better view of Frank as he leaned back and reached into his left side jeans pocket, pulling out a vintage watch.
It appeared to be made out of brass, but was a bit too shiny even for that, and had two mechanisms on both sides, one sprouting out of the first. When he flipped open the cover, it revealed a mess of layered gears that were moving about in strange directions behind glass; on the backside of the cover was a rough black chalk-like drawing of a man.
Frank hummed to himself as he watched the horizontal, vertical, and slanted gears work, and after a moment, snapped it shut, returning it to his pocket where the bulge disappeared. “I have a bit of time. However, there’s something else I’d like to discuss.
“So, in the interest of concluding the previous conversation, first, no, you cannot take the same route as your sister, which I believe you must have already come to the same conclusion. You are quite brilliant, after all.
“Second, is there a way for you? With several theories discussed with your mother, yes. That being said, I cannot tell you those theories because of previous vows I’ve pledged. I can say, however, that some of those methods should become clear to you within time, and I expect you to be able to accomplish them.
“Third, how was I involved with your sister?” He shot a dazzling smile at her, which caused Kari’s brow to crease with question; she felt like a third wheel in all this. “Physician-patient privilege, my dear. It is not my place to discuss, and that includes how I might connect to your darling niece.
“Fourth, what is my interest in your daughter, Alva? Let’s just say that I’m aware of certain things that you believe to be private and leave it at that.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Alva growled with an annoyed tone.
“Ah, then it is not me you should take up your complaints with, but the one that designed you. If Alva didn’t wish to even impart that information to you, then there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Inari released a low hum. “I must say, that is a rather crafty tactic, Frank. It raises some complicated circumstances that lean in your favor.”
His lips shifted to the side. “Well, you can’t be in this game for as long as I have and not pick up a few tricks.”
“I don’t like that answer,” Alva said, but her tone made it appear that there wasn’t anything she could do about it.
“Can I object?” Kari asked with a hint of disgust. She glared at the man next to her; his casual smile grated against her nerves. “You’re saying you know something about me? If it’s about me, then tell me.”
Frank hummed for a moment, but his face was impassive. “Light and Darkness are the closest of friends; they stick to each other like brothers, one never without the other. They both hide things, but one is better at it than the other.
“There are two sisters that play with their brothers, Truth, and Perspective. However, unlike their brothers, they’re bitter rivals. Truth reveals both sides equally, while Perspective does not.”
“Huh?” Kari asked, lifting an eyebrow. “What are you talking about?”
Both Inari and her mother sighed before Inari explained. “It’s a metaphor. He’s saying there is an event that is hidden in plain sight or not yet revealed, and us hearing it from him will not give us the right picture to make an accurate judgment.”
“Right,” Alva grumbled. “It’s an excuse that means we have to trust him and the reasons why he won’t tell us the information.”
“Insightful!” Frank beamed. “Now, getting on to the final point…”
“I’m not done,” Kari growled. “What’s up with you, and why do you want to tell my mom and Inari all of this stuff?”
“In short, to protect you and those you love.”
“Why? What’s the purpose?” Kari asked suspiciously. “Maybe my mom and Inari know because of … well, whatever, they’re super old and know a ton of stuff, but I’ve got no clue, and all of this is annoying and confusing.”
Frank nodded, lips dropping into a brooding frown as he sat forward, folding his arms. “You’re not wrong, and if I had the time, then I’d love to go in detail about everything, but unfortunately, that’s not possible. Your mother and Inari will be able to explain to you why that is when I’m gone. There is something important that I need to say, though … potentially even more important than my first warning.”
Kari swallowed and fell silent, knowing that whatever had a being like Frank concerned was a real threat. “Okay, fine. I’ll listen … for now. So, what is it? What’s this big matter?”
Frank took a deep breath before taking out his watch again, looking at it, and returning it to his pocket. “It’s Nilly.”
Kari had no mental picture for the First Generation Founder of the cats; the only image that came to mind was Githa, defeated and lying sopping wet on the fractured concrete floor of the base they’d been trapped in as Sora picked her up.
She felt just as confused as Inari sounded. “Nilly … are we thinking about the same First Generation Founder, Nilly?”
Her mother, however, took a much more serious tone, and Kari soon discovered why, causing a shiver to run down her spine. “What’s wrong with Nilly? She was holding back Sköll, but has that changed? Is my brother on his way here?”
Frank’s pace picked up slightly. “Out of all the First Generation Founders, I grew the closest to Nilly. Her way of thinking was … unorthodox, which is why she did what she did during the war.
“Nilly may not have been among the most powerful of the First Generation, but she was the most unconventional and bizarre … I learned more from her than any of the other Founders. Since her change into a Nekomata … something’s changed.”
“Changed? How so?” Inari asked. “I met with her and had a few laughs. She was having quite a fun time. That being said, if I recall correctly, it was you that helped her transition into a Nekomata during the aftermath. I thought the transformation process into a Nekomata was expected to have a change, and to be honest, I try not to think about that age.”
Frank shook his head, and for the first time, she saw an extremely calculated edge in the man’s eyes. “You noticed the earrings?”
“The seals, yes? I understand that you were the primary engineer in creating the seal, and it had to be complicated to an extreme degree to contain Nilly’s leaking essence.”
“How many rings were on both her ears when you met her?”
“Twelve. I couldn’t stay for long before the thirteenth, and so I needed to leave. As I understand it, and from what she explained, the seal releases in direct response to the strength of the creatures around her. With Sköll nearby, she had ten rings activated.”
A soft chuckle left Frank’s throat, but it didn’t touch his eyes as he leaned forward, resting his head upon his folded fingers and elbows on his lap. “Breaking into the thirteenth seal … you’ve certainly grown a lot more powerful since we last met. It’s hard to imagine, but yes, Nilly could rival Gloria with her unconventional way of fighting, but she never took anything too seriously … and that changed after her transformation.
“The reason why I bring this up is that Nilly wasn’t originally brought into your sister’s inner circle in connection to Sora … Nilly just showed up. The thing that is odd about Nilly is that she’s beyond genius … some of my greatest breakthroughs were because of her, at first glance, frivolous input. Her intuition and instinct are beyond any being I’ve ever encountered, and if her seal is broken to…”
He paused, and Kari stiffened as a sharp tinkling bell rang around the area; a teenage Chinese-looking Nekomata with shoulder-length black hair stood before them. She wore a bright smile, showing pointed fangs.
“Franky!” She cheered, gripping her left wrist behind her back. “Nilly thought Nilly felt Franky’s wibbly-wobbly-woobly stuff here! How long has it been since Nilly’s seen Franky? Nilly doesn’t know!”
“Nilly…” Both Inari and her mother mumbled in shock.
Nilly blinked for a moment before her feline eyes slid to her, framed by her curled in black hair. Without a hint of warning, she was inches from her face, leaning around both sides of her to get a better look while sniffing the air. Kari was utterly stunned, and her instincts told her not to move.
“If it isn’t lil’ Alva and Inari!” She said with a giggle, and her cheeks puffed out. “Alva can be mean!” She sniffed, turning away while folding her arms indignantly. “Alva called Nilly old when Nilly was having fun with Fenny! So rude! Alva’s rude!”
Her demeanor changed instantly, and she leaned in again, looking straight into her eyes, but Kari knew she wasn’t really seeing her. “Inari’s nice to Nilly, though! Inari’s fun to play with, and who’s this? Oh! Oh!”
She bounced back, tails wrapping around her waist as she pointed at her, looking over at Frank as he rose to his feet, stretching out his back while groaning. “Franky, Franky! Fenny has a lil’ granddaughter! Oh, my! Nilly’s gotta tell Fenny!”
“Right,” he chuckled. “She’s almost a pure Fenris Wolf. Crazy, huh? You still visit Fenrir’s grave often, I see.”
“Pfft,” Nilly scoffed. “Only like every other day! There’s so much to talk about with Fenny!”
Her cheer dropped on a dime, and she turned back to her, head cocking while her eyes widened with question. A sharp sense of danger pulsed through Kari’s being like the burning sun crashing into her; her spirit was boiling, and she couldn’t twitch a muscle. Nilly’s tone took on a deadly edge. “But why’d Alva choose…”
“Nilly,” Frank interrupted, causing her focus to divert instantly, and the crushing pressure evaporated.
“Nilly listens! What? What, Franky? Food! Nilly’s starving!” She purred while licking her soft lips. He pulled out a piece of dried meat the size of his hand, offering it to her squealing excitement. “Camazotz meat! Nilly loves Camazotz meat! Nilly—can’t find anymore…” She pouted while chewing on the thin rectangle.
Frank reached over to finger the two linked earrings on Nilly’s right cat-ear. “Is the earrings bothering you?”
“Nilly’s earrings are bothering Nilly,” she swallowed before giggling and looking up at him with an innocent smile. “Franky knows what happens to Nilly when Franky’s around!”
“Yes,” he muttered, “if we don’t leave this tiny Realm, then you’ll eradicate both this Realm and the Earth Realm.”
“Nilly’s so bad!” She said with a wink. “Everybody loves Nilly, though! Nilly’s a superhero, and superheroes are cool!”
“Wait,” her mother pleaded. “What about my brother?”
“Lil’ Sköll?” Nilly asked blankly before a light sparked in her eyes. “Nilly played with lil’ Skoll, and now Sköll is playing with Bathin and Hikaru … they don’t get along very well. Nilly got bored.”
“Well, then,” Frank said with a hearty chuckle. “Why don’t we go see what fun we can have at my lab.”
“Nilly loves Franky’s lab! There’s so much food!”
Before anyone else could say anything more, they vanished before Kari’s eyes, leaving her gasping for air. What was that, mom? That’s Nilly? The one Sora talked about?
Alva hummed darkly. “The moment Nilly’s short attention span focused on you; she instantly knew something I don’t. I have my suspicions by the way she reacted. I still don’t see anything particularly different in her personality, though.”
Kari’s annoyance grew. Hey, this is my Spirit! Tell me what’s going on … what was all that about? Was it just a warning, and what did he mean you’d explain things to me?
“Dear,” Inari said with a forced laugh, “We’re trying to come to terms with what just happened and the possibilities this brings. Frankenstein is not just anyone, but a being that has an unknown origin. It’s one of the things that drew the First Generation’s attention. He utilizes a strange type of magic that is similar to science, but much different.
“What he did to us is … I can explain it like the human’s multiverse theory, but it’s much more complicated, and the approach is not quite right. You see, Frankenstein created or simply used a split in reality that caused you to continue sitting on the rock while the Herald of Sakura watched you, or you might have gotten up and moved off or done something else.
“The reason why he looks at that watch of his is that somehow it connects to the phenomenon and he knows when exactly he needs to leave. The moment he left, these two branches, in reality, merged again, causing a distortion that melds both aspects. You don’t recall doing it, but if you were to search your memories carefully, then you’ll find everything you did in the previous branch.
“Now, from his statement, we can also determine that even a being as powerful as The Herald of Sakura, with all her eyes and abilities … is totally unaware of such a thing occurring. Frankenstein utilizes very unorthodox methods that are hard for me to grasp without thought.”
Her mother replied shortly after Inari finished. “That is important to note. Neither I, you, nor The Herald could have recognized there was anything odd happening in the first place with Frankenstine’s warp in reality, but Nilly could, and not only that, but slipped into that branch. Now that I think about it … I don’t ever recall my father telling me about Nilly’s abilities.”
“No, neither did my mother,” Inari mumbled. “I always assumed Nilly’s powers had taken a massive hit since transforming into a Nekomata. However, it appears that that might not be the case, and Frankenstein is concerned about her reaching the final seal. I think the real question is if Frankenstein knew Nilly would show up, and if so, how accurate was he?”
Kari knew the conversation was essential to have but hated that she had to be a part of it when she had no clue how to contribute, and the moment one of them asked a question, and the other was proposing a solution before she could even speculate.
“I believe you could make a case that he knew she would appear; it’s why he was checking his watch near the end. I think that she surprised him within a minute’s prediction; he was off in his calculations.”
“I agree. Nilly is certainly dangerous, but the possibility of what Frankenstein revealed about her connection to my sister and Sora … I did notice that Nilly has been in my niece’s life for years. Not as a spiritual presence, but if you search every visual image, then she’s been around Sora since she was a little girl.”
“Yet, she didn’t even acknowledge my daughter, and I can’t find any images of the same with her. Perhaps it could have been Aiden’s influence over causality that kept them separate?”
“It’s a possibility … that she would just show up randomly, and hang around Sora without my sister ever telling her about it. It was such a remote chance that I hadn’t put it that high on my list of prospective events. That raises a lot of red flags for me, but I can’t tell my main self about it … not after what I saw.”
“Do you think that was one of the reasons why Frankenstein presented himself and this situation in this manner? If Nilly is that astute, to even catch him at his own game, then how far ahead is she playing? Beyond Gloria and the other First Generation? Was there a reason why she sacrificed herself in that manner in the first place?”
“It’s hard to believe … millions of years of planning, but after what we just witnessed … it’s more concerning than I’d like to admit. I counted Nilly off the main table since her deaths … if that was all planned. For what reason?”
“That’s the main question. What is Nilly’s reason to be here? However, I think we’ve confused my daughter far enough,” her mother laughed. “I’m sorry, Kari.”
“Oh, goodness! Yes,” Inari mirrored Alva. “This is something for us to ponder. You have your own pressing issues to deal with. Why don’t you go clear your mind of all this madness and try to figure out more about this insurrection Fen’s starting? I’m confident my niece will need to meet you later on, and she’ll seek you out.”
I hate all this chess-play. Kari growled. How much do you guys actually plan?
Her mother released a tired sigh in her mind “Cascading waves of change … the future is an effect some think to be inconsequential, and thereby affect the future unintentionally.”
Inari continued. “However, what if you had the power to affect monumental change? Would you let fear consume you, or would you overcome? We are the ones sending a message across reality … a warning; numberless actions inspired by that message. The story some foretell is not inevitable, and everything evolves. We can change our fate.”
Alva laughed with a bitter tone. “We think further than I care to admit, but it’s how we survive. It’s second nature to us.”
Whatever … I’ll just do my own thing. She mumbled.
Getting up, she stretched out before following the scent of the man she’d talked to before.
What’s up with everyone having their own agenda?
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