"So, you going to get on the bus, kid, or what?" Said the bus driver with a gleam in his eye.
The man looking back at the driver felt his ire rise, scoffing as he looked upon him with his hardened, steely gaze, sizing up the age of the being before him. As his logic quickly estimated, he scoffed at the man. This was no new face, far from it. But he was still relatively young in the overall swing of things, at least in the man's eyes.
The Driver's eyes narrowed at the other man's dismissal of his address. "I'm sorry young lad, but what's so funny?" He said, putting a little extra into the evil gleam.
The other man turned and gazed upon the other, sizing him up for a moment before replying: "You're about 600 years old, correct?"
The driver was silent. How did this little brat guess so close to my actual age!? And what's with the air of superiority? I might be spending too much time at the academy…
The other man took the driver's silence as a confirmation that he'd at least been relatively close. Of course, he'd been doing this for millennia, it just so happened that he was living in a separate lifetime; once again. I swear, if my parents were to make it any more obvious, they'd already be pushing female demigods onto me. I swear… He let a small smirk come across his face as he narrowed his eyes at the man in front of him.
He then continued; "surprised? Good, it means I've done a good job then."
The driver's curiosity was now piqued. This young man didn't seem to be all that he was letting on, at least not yet. He needed to know further… "So," he asked, swinging open the doors, "what brings you to Yokai Academy, sir?" He asked, a slight bit of malice entering his voice. The only person that ever talked down to him was Mikogami, and he had earned that right as being one of the three demon lords of the monster underworld. There was no one held above that as those three were all-powerful here on Earth, rivaled only by each other in sheer power. This being said, it made the driver wonder why this man standing before him was able to talk so nonchalantly as if there were no threat to him whatsoever.
This was soon revealed.
"My mother and father have decided that it's about time that I entered school once again to make sure that I'm up to date with the current times and generation at large. Otherwise, trust me, there wouldn't be any necessity to my presence here."
"Although you were briefed about this earlier, may I ask what you are? You seem to be rather comfortable going to an all-monster school, if I may say so myself."
The other man looked to the driver in front of him, and the smirk on his face widened as he realized that he'd captured the attention of the youngling before him. Now, what to actually tell him… Hmmm, this presents an interesting dilemma. I want to tell him just enough to keep him guessing, but not so much that I blow my cover here. Can't have people knowing my true nature, after all. In all, his thought process took less than a second, and he decided on telling the driver two things. His parents' reputation. That'll give him a good scare, if he knows anything about mythology…
"I'm sorry sir, but I can't tell you what I am, because that would be breaking school rules. However, I'll let you in on a little secret." The other man finally boarded the bus, taking a seat in the front, across from the driver. "You might want to get going, this isn't for mere mortal ears to hear after all…"
"Good." With that said, the driver got the bus rolling forward and started off towards Yokai Academy. About a minute later, the Driver then asked; "So, what were you going to tell me..?" He asked the other man aboard his bus.
"It'll have to wait until we are within the portal. I can't risk having anyone overhearing this. Besides, that way, I can ensure that only you hear it." The driver shot him a quick glance. The other man laughed inwardly a little at this as he continued; "Yes, I'm fully aware of the contract and limitations that go with your position. Trust me, I've come very well prepared."
"Well then, why didn't you say so?" The driver asked, flipping a switch on the dashboard, opening a horizontal pit of red-tinged darkness that the bus entered almost immediately.
The other man grinned widely at this. Finally he'd be able to flip this young man's world on top of itself.
"Well, you kept up your end of the bargain, so I'll tell you the one thing only you can know. Do not misunderstand me; this stays between you and me. That means no telling Mikogami or any other dark lord for that matter. I trust that you'll honor my request?" The young man asked the driver, boring his gaze into the back of the driver's head.
It took a moment before the driver could answer the young man as his request surprised him. "Sure kid, whatever tickles your fancy." He finally replied, curiosity overcoming his prior nervousness. He didn't have to wait long before the young lad honored him with a reply.
"There was once a pair of beings trusted so greatly by god that they became his war generals, taking on his enemies with honor and decimating those aligned with the pure darkness of old. However, after many battles and many days' meditation over the nuances and actualities of the universe, they realized that they couldn't remain aligned with god in good conscience. They had realized that if they were to remain with god, that there would be too much light in their existence, and the monotony of everlasting peace would someday lead to unrest among those in god's domain. These two entities came to the conclusion that they must part ways with god and establish their own realm wherein they could maintain a balance of both light and dark in equal measure, neither overpowering the other; the two forces instead feeding into one another rather than fighting each other for control, and allowing both chaos and harmony to coincide with each other with minimal conflict.
These two entities then made to play a role in the ensuing battles between dark and light, maintaining balance throughout so that their universe could remain in existence. Neither ally nor enemy of light nor dark, they have maintained this dimension of existence for seemingly endless amounts of time. These two beings are named Bathin and Sitri. You've heard of them before, I presume? At least in mythology, if nothing else." The driver nodded his head, paying sharp attention to the young man behind him, listening closely. "Believe me when I say this: the most you need to know is that I'm well acquainted with both individuals, hence my apparent lack of concern coming to this school."
Well, that would just about do it… the driver thought to himself, gaining a new respect for the individual in his midst; having friends like that will give you a lot of sway no matter where you go. Ooo, the end of the tunnel. "Well kid, looks like we're here," the driver told the young man, pulling out of the tunnel, slowing the bus to a stop in the clearing next to a sheer cliff. Lifting the handle release and swinging the double-doors open, he swung his head back towards the boy re-acquiring his luggage from the adjacent empty seats and moving towards the exit.
As the boy faced the door, he swung both of his arms, tossing his luggage out the door and onto the dry earth beneath. He walked down the steps and off the bus, bending back down to retrieve his previously chucked luggage, turning to face the driver as he stood, fully laden with his things, looking at him as if expectant of more conversation. He wasn't disappointed.
"So kid, I never did catch your name."
"Oh, how rude of me. All this talk and you still don't know my name. With all due respect sir, my name is Thane, but here and now I must be known by my alias Tsukune Aono. Trust me, it's much more human-sounding than my true name. Besides, speaking my true name has some pretty bad consequences… Hehehe, that's a story for another day, I'm afraid. Well, sir driver, I wish you well until we should have the good fortune to meet once more." Tsukune finished, bowing his head politely to the driver before making his way in the direction of the campus.
"Well wishes to you too kid; though for some reason I don't think you'll need them. Heh, funny… I don't remember a time where I didn't wish my kid good luck before… Who knows, maybe he'll be the one to survive this place…" the driver said, mostly to himself; closing the doors of the bus and returning to the interdimensional tunnel once more, not to be seen for quite some time.
Thane was calmly strolling through the current spread of dormant ground, appreciative of the somewhat barren trees surrounding him, hands in pockets. All they need is a little more time and a little effort, and they'll be blooming again. Besides, with Sakura trees like this, it'll be a beautiful sight once they're in season. Granted, that doesn't mean they're an eyeful in their current state, but still… he thought to himself, getting lost in his thoughts while enjoying his little stroll. It was peaceful and quiet. Tranquil, even. Raising his head a little, he saw the entrance gates to the campus starting to come up; he'd be upon them within the mile. Smiling to himself, he slowed his pace slightly, wanting to enjoy his walk a little longer before reporting to the school he'd supposedly spend the next three years in, learning as much as he was supposed to about monster society. Which was a cause for his scrutiny at one point, raising a legitimate question; why go to a human integration school for monsters only to learn about the monsters attending that were trying to integrate themselves into human society? Didn't that seem to grind against the whole purpose of the institution? But, of course, so far it wasn't his place to defy his purpose simply due to that relatively small technicality.
Taking a breath, Thane took in his surroundings once more, thinking to himself whether he should take it upon himself to revive the surrounding trees. But, just as he finished the thought, he heard something coming towards him from the rear, quickly approaching. Closing his eyes for a scant moment, he concentrated on the sound. Sounds like a pedal bike, and if I may say so, one whose chain hasn't been maintained as regularly as it should. Hmmmm… Thane thought as he opened his eyes once more. The sounds was getting progressively louder, and it seemed that it was heading directly at him, showing no signs of stopping. Either the person behind him wasn't paying attention or had it in for him on some degree. Of course, coming to a monster school of all things, it would make sense for someone to attack me out of the blue to test the waters and see where a new student like me stands. Let's just see how this works out…
Focusing on the sound alone, he waited until the absolute last moment to juke just outside its trajectory and watch said pedal bike pass right by him, right towards the- tree root sticking out of the ground. Uh-oh. Thane thought, wondering if the astride patron knew of the obstacle that lay ahead. Apparently they didn't, as the bike rode head-on into the tree root, high-siding and bucking its rider off too quick for their reflexes to recover from. Hmmmm… someone's a klutz. Thane thought, resuming his walking pace, aimed towards the remains of the incident, a small chuckle escaping under his breath.
He called out to the individual ahead of him, who by the skirt they were wearing was presumably a female, but hey; who knew? He'd known more than his fair share of cross dressers and others who indulged in an alternative lifestyle (which he had no qualms with). "Hey, you alright? You kind of hit the root there." He asked, tilting his head to the side in an attempt to try to get a better glimpse at the (supposedly female) student ahead of him.
She turned to look at him, a pained smile on her face as she replied; "I'm fine. I just wasn't paying attention to where I was going…" she finished with a sheepish look on her face.
"Obviously, or else you wouldn't be on your ass right now, would you?" He replied, starting to chuckle again. He finished waltzing over to her and extended his hand out to her, not regarding her pouty expression, no doubt a reaction to his remark. "Funny thing about riding a bike in the forest is that there's more things on the ground that can trip you up. Gotta watch out," He said, still holding his hand out to her.
She turned her head away from him slightly, replying; "Well you don't have to make it out like I'm an incapable idiot. I already knew that… I was just thinking about other things, that's all."
"I know, I was just giving you a hard time. Come on," He gestured with a grin and his hand again, "let's get you back up and running again otherwise you'll be late on your first day." Thane perked his head up slightly, taking in a precursory glance at his surroundings. Good, nothing's come up yet. He continued; "As far as I've heard, that's not something you want to do here…" As he finished, she turned back to him, finally extending her hand out to him, pulling herself up. It was then that he finally had a good look at her, and as he caught his first full glimpse, something tickled the back of his mind. She had eyes the color of jade, and long, flowing pink hair. Along with those traits, she was of good stature, with a well-rounded physique and trim tone. One thing that struck him as odd though was the choker she had around her neck with a rather large cross dangling from a chain connected to the choker. Must be a youki limiter. Interesting. She's strong enough to require one to subdue her youki, so she must be strong, at least for a monster, but just how strong is she I wonder? Thane thought to himself, saving that observation for a later time. He took a second to reflect upon himself, remembering quite clearly that he'd required seven limiters to lower his aura to imperceptible levels. She strode over to where her bike lay on the ground, a few yards away from her. Pulling it up, she began to walk towards the school, toting her bike next to her. Thane resumed his gait once more, keeping in line with the girl he'd just met. Oh, wait… I don't even know her name yet… that'd probably be a good thing. He turned his head towards the girl, speaking once more; "I'm terribly sorry ma'am. I seem to be very lacking in my manners today." Seriously, I'm forgetting formalities left and right… I'll have to meditate on this tonight and figure out what's wrong with me. "My name is Tsukune Aono, and it is a great pleasure to make your acquaintance, miss…?"
The girl stopped and turned to face him. "Oh, I'm Moka. Moka Akashiya. And I, uh, it's nice to meet you as well." Akashiya… pretty. Languid, rather easy to flow off the tongue. Very nice. Thane regarded the girl that had resumed her pace alongside him, matching his walk as they made their way towards the front gate of the campus. Well, no time quite like the present to invest in a friend. Might as well strike while the iron's hot. "So, you a freshmen too?" He asked, partially shifting his gaze towards the school, but keeping the girl in his peripherals as well.
She replied; "Yes. It's my first year here, and I'm kind of nervous. I'm not too sure of what it'll be like here, and to tell the truth, I'm kind of scared." She admitted to him, not entirely sure why she was telling him these things.
"Hey, it's alright to be a little apprehensive of new things; it's only natural. But hey, if you want, I'd be more than willing to tag-team the whole new-school thing with you if you want." Thane replied, not really wanting to suffer through the administrative process on his own, knowing how long and dragging it could end up being. There it was… that tickling feeling in the back of his mind once again. Something about this whole situation was reminding him of something that he couldn't recall at the moment. Setting that thought aside, he noted the slight relaxing of her posture, continuing; "If you're really nervous, I could try and be your first friend here. I mean, I know how much it sucks going through the first few- ooof!" he exclaimed as Moka suddenly lunged towards him letting loose of her bike and instead concentrating her grip on enveloping him in a great hug.
"Oh would you really!? That'd be so wonderful! I was so afraid of not being able to make any friends here, but here we are!" She hugged him tighter as she spoke, happiness pouring out of her so greatly it was almost palpable. Disregard the curiosity about how strong she is. This hug frigging hurts… Thane thought to himself. But then suddenly, just as he thought her hug couldn't get any tighter than it already was, she suddenly let go and backed off, a wary look in her eyes. "But wait, how do I know you're being sincere? Not less than five minutes ago you were making fun of my misfortune," She exclaimed suddenly, slight hurt and apprehension seeping into her previously joyous expression.
Of course it had to come to this. He thought. He'd been hoping to avoid this type of situation, which is why he was kicking himself mentally for simply being his smart-ass self earlier, which had a bad habit of biting him in the ass when it came to forging relationships. Thane knew he had to clear her misunderstanding quickly if he wanted her to be his companion in the upcoming months he was here.
He stopped, fully turning towards Moka, causing her to subconsciously stop next to him as his gaze took on a new intensity as his hardened resolve started to show through. "Miss Akashiya, I will admit that I did find amusement in your little mishap earlier, but let me tell you a little something about myself. Everything that I say, do, think, feel and believe is genuine. I do not fake, and I don't tolerate it from myself or others. I refrain from lying under all circumstances except those warranting a lie's very existence beyond a shadow of a doubt. I live by no false pretenses, nor do I expect my peers to do so either. What you see in front of you is the real me, all the time, every time. If I laugh, it's because I truly find something funny. If I'm angry, it's not going to be over something trivial or temporary. If I am holding something back, it is because I have good reason to do so, and is not meant as a means to keeps those close to me in the dark. I remain unwaveringly loyal to those who truly deserve my loyalty, and I most definitely take care of my own. So know in your heart and mind that when I ask you to be my friend, there is no falseness or reason to doubt my request. I truly mean it." It was at this point that Thane intensified his gaze, hoping that she could feel the sincerity and meaning behind what he was telling her. Did she know how far out on a limb he was putting himself willingly right now? Regardless, he continued; "So, Moka, would you find it within you to consider being a friend of mine?" he finished, hoping his words had reached her.
Wow… Moka thought to herself. So he really does mean that he wants to be my friend after all… After the past few years being completely friendless, now seeing someone who so irrevocably wanted to be friends with her shocked her, if nothing else. Resigning herself to her current situation, she acquiesced with his request, and decided that it might not be so bad if she had a friend walking into this strange new environment she now found herself walking into. A genuinely happy smile once again breaking uncontrollably across her features, she once again loosed her hold on her bike and leapt towards Tsukune as she gave him his reply.
Now expecting her bone-crushing squeeze, Thane readied himself and caught her embrace as she replied "yes, Tsukune Aono, I would be honored if you would become my friend."
The two held the embrace for a moment or two before letting go and separating, distancing themselves slightly while staying close to one another. Moka retrieved her bicycle once again as they started off once more, Thane speaking up, a mischievous smirk adorning his features; "I'm seriously starting to pity that bicycle. I mean, really, look at the poor thing. It keeps getting thrown so violently to the side…" He teased Moka as she let go of the bike once again in an attempt to knock his shoulder, Thane slipping just of her reach before her hand could connect. Thanks chuckled as he continued; "See? You keep letting it fall, it's not gonna last the semester if you keep dropping it like that!"
"Well if you stopped giving me such a hard time I wouldn't have to let go and chase you down, now would I?" Moka retorted sharply, the frustration apparent only in her voice as a smile slipped across her lips as she started to laugh with Tsukune, both of them slowly finishing their approach towards the academy grounds as Moka regained a grip on her bicycle, truly happy she'd gained a friend so early in the game.