Monster Musume: From Hunter to Host
Mid-Autumn had fallen over the remote forests of southwestern Virginia, covering the trees and leaf-strewn ground in a thin, white vapor that carried a soft, gentle scent across the area. From the perspective of one high above the forest, the dense clusters of trees shrouded any signs of habitation. However, at ground level, one might notice the long, winding road leading deep into the forest. Following along this road lead to only one place; a house, sat smack dab in the middle of the forest, as opulent as it was out of place.
Standing at three stories in height, and made entirely of dark red brick, the building was probably better described as a manor a simple house. Yet a cursory look at the driveway showed the presence of only a single vehicle; a black, luxury sedan sat quietly a few dozen feet from the front door of the house. Only a few lights in the home were on, both coming the kitchen, where a man was pacing back and forth, a smile plastered to his face.
He was a handsome man, and he had an air of regality about him. He was tall and broad shouldered, but thin, and rather well built. His face was rugged and chiseled, a thick brown beard covering most of his chin. His eyes were green and his skin was a pale pink color, although his visible cheeks were flushed with red from laughter.
The man was talking into a phone, his gaze pointed through the connector between his kitchen and living room, where a television was flickering, just out of earshot. Two reporters were animatedly discussing something or other, but the man's distance made it impossible to see what was scrolling across on the information bar.
"Oh, yes, absolutely." He said.
His voice was deep, but carried a kind, patient tone that made him sound almost carefree.
"Oh, I'm certain that he'll be thrilled. And you say he knows her?" The man asked.
The voice on the phone responded, and the man smiled even wider.
"I see, well, I'll be honest with you, I can't see this being anything other than a benefit for him. What time did you say your representative was coming by?" He asked.
As the voice on the phone answered, the man turned to a clock just above the connector. 7:45 A.M.
"Five-thirty, tonight? Alright then, I'll be sure to inform him as best I can. Obviously there's going to be a lot of questions on his side of things… Very well, we will see you tonight, then."
The man sat his phone down on the pristine granite countertops flanking both sides of his sink. He looked out through the window positioned over the basin, which gave him a rather beautiful view of the surrounding forest, the low hanging mist shimmering just beneath the canopy. He stared out into the forest for a few moments before wondering just how deep his son had made it into the trees. His hand reached out for his phone, and he turned away with it in his hands, deciding that his son could stay out a little longer before he called him home.
Deep in the forest, a young man strolled casually through dense thickets of trees, his hand grasping a long hunting rifle, its barrel resting lightly on his shoulder. He stepped carefully over tree roots and loose stones, his dark jeans rippling under his movements. He walked out into a small clearing, greeted with streams of unfiltered light from the sky above. He tilted his head upwards and gave a sniff, enjoying the fresh scent of mist on his nose.
He was unlike his father in many ways. His eyes were an off-silver color, giving them the look of pale moons when in direct light. His face, rather than the rugged handsomeness of his father, was thin and angular, and would be more aptly described as beautiful than handsome. His own beard was styled into a long, round goatee that curled slightly under his chin. He had slighter shoulders than his father, and stood nearly a head shorter.
His manner of dress was also a departure from his father. Where his father had on casual morning dress, the young man was clad in a set of dark jeans and a light grey leather jacket with a white cloth hood. The whole effect was, all told, rather suited to him, as it gave his pale skin an almost radiant glow.
He stopped as a bit of movement caught his eye just ahead. He slipped behind a tree, then shifted so he was leaning slightly around it, and leveled his rifle towards the culprit.
A long, slender, scaly blue body shifted some sixty feet from his spot behind the tree. A young melusine had come out to look for food in the early hours of morning. She was low to the ground, her nose working hard to search for her next meal.
He took aim at her, prepared to at least scare her off with a warning shot. But, just as he had steeled himself to pull the trigger, she slithered into a cluster of thicker trees.
Sighing, the young man lowered his rifle and stepped out. He would have to follow her, it wouldn't do to have an unknown creature of her size roaming their land with abandon. He did his best to keep quiet, making sure to step on as few dead leaves as he could manage. He caught sight of her as she coiled around another tree and disappeared behind it.
He continued forward, his rifle now clasped in both of his hands, his index finger curled loosely in the trigger guard. He got a glimpse of her again, this time she had put several hundred feet between them, and he felt safe picking up the pace slightly. He broke into a gentle jog, his eyes scanning the treeline just in case she had doubled back for some reason.
As he approached the tree she had moved behind, he realized that she was gone, likely into the underbrush of bush and vine that covered the ground between the more dense areas of forest. He grumbled incoherently as he slung the strap of his rifle over his shoulder.
From a small sheath beneath his arm he pulled a small, thin, machete, and began hacking at the thick brush. After a few swings, he succeeded in making a large enough gap for him to slip through, so he resheathed the machete. With a noise of slight exertion, he pushed himself straight into the underbrush.
He nearly let out a gasp as he his eyes adjusted to the light level of the area beyond. Just beyond the underbrush that he had always been familiar with was a small, beautiful clearing. The forest floor was relatively free of fallen leaves, and a tiny, pristine pond, that was filled to its edges with crystal clear water, a few golden leaves floating lazily on its surface.
He looked around, his eyes locking on a small flash of blue that he caught sight of as his gaze wandered across the clearing. The tail of the melusine was sticking out of a ring of about eight trees. He crept forward slowly, slipping his rifle from his shoulder and leveling it at the creature's tail. He sidestepped around to the opening, training his weapon on where he expected the melusine to be. As he caught a glimpse of pale flesh, he had to fight to stop himself from laughing.
The young melusine woman was sleeping peacefully, curled in a circle and resting on her arms. Sniggering, he slung his rifle over his shoulder one final time and reached out to her. He cleared his throat to try and wake her as he nudged her. She gave a start and jumped up, her hands balled into fists as she prepared to defend herself. This, however, only prompted the young man to howl with laughter and shake his head.
"That wouldn't go over well for you." He said.
They locked eyes for a few moments, then the young man smiled down at her.
"How long have you been camping out around here?" He asked, but continued when she didn't respond.
"I uh… I noticed you stalking around this area a few days ago. My family owns quite a lot of the land around here, including this area." He explained.
She seemed to understand the last part, at least, as her eyes widened with concern as he spoke. He realized that there might have been a better way to greet someone who is knowingly trespassing.
"You knew we lived here when you came, didn't you?" He asked.
She nodded after a few second, looking slightly pale. The young man sighed, then reached out and grabbed her wrist.
"Alright, here's what's gonna happen. I, am going to leave this little place in about fifteen seconds. After I'm gone, you, my dear, are going to slip out behind me and start towards the mountain. It's very important that you get there soon, because I'm not the only "hunter" around here. When you get there, you should be able to see a small opening in the face of the mountain. This is important, because the other hunters don't like going near there, since a bear likes to hibernate there during the winter. There isn't a bear there, though, so it should be safe for you." He explained, taking a long breath after he finished.
She stared at him for a few moments, then nodded.
Satisfied, the young man turned away and began to move back towards the bit of brush he had squeezed through. In the distance he could hear the young melusine pulling herself from the ring of trees. He hoped silently that she reached the mountain before night, as he hadn't really explained just how far it was or how difficult it would be to find in the dark.
Realizing that he'd have to leave the young woman to her own devices, he turned back and started walking languidly through the forest. He felt somewhat peaceful as he slowly loped among the trees without a destination. He stretched his arms behind his head and sucked in a deep breath, filling his lungs with the crisp air.
He walked on, marveling at the natural beauty that surrounded his home, golden leaves swirling up around his as a soft breeze rippled over the ground. His eyes wandered over the landscape, taking in the sight of slowly dying trees and tan grass. Even during a time when the end of so much natural beauty was so prevalent, he couldn't help but find the season to be rather fetching in its own right.
He had walked for another forty minutes before his phone began to vibrate softly in the front pocket of his jacket. He stared down at the screen for a moment, then answered it.
"You have reached the smarter, more charming, and infinitely more handsome Drake Greymoor." He said.
He heard his father's laughter on the other end.
"Well, I don't know about all that, I'd say your old man still has some of his roguish good looks, but that's got nothing to do with why I called. We're having a guest over, so I want you home by three." His father said.
"Alright, don't have much more to do out here, anyway. I'll be home in a couple of hours, I might not have been out for too long, but I need a shower." Drake sighed.
The call ended silently, but something sat at the edge of Drake's mind; why on earth was there a guest coming tonight? It might have been fall, but Thanksgiving was still a ways off. He felt a twinge of annoyance as he considered a rather unwelcome potential guest. He quickly realized, however, that he had no control over who his father allowed to visit their home. He gave a sigh, then turned away from the direction of his home. He had a few hours to kill, and he wasn't exactly in a hurry to get home.
Mid-afternoon came, and with it, a soft glare of sunlight that cast odd shadows through the trees, scattering patterns of sunlight on the ground in front of the tree that Drake had fallen asleep against. He stifled a yawn as an errant sunbeam sent bright light into his face, fully forcing him out of his restful nap. He unlocked his phone to get a look at the time.
He rolled his shoulders a few times, trying to loosen himself up, then started towards his home. Despite the considerable distance, he managed to reach the front door as his phone buzzed to inform him of the time. He pushed his key into the front door and slipped inside.
"I'm home, pops. I'm heading upstairs to shower." He called.
"Alright, don't take too long now, I don't know if the guy that's coming is getting here early or not." His father said.
Not pausing to look in on his father in the kitchen, Drake sped upstairs, pulling off his clothes with abandon, and nearly bowling over the family maid, Emily, in the process. Shouting a hasty apology, he bolted past her and into the bathroom.
He exhaled slowly, letting the fatigue he had built up drain from his legs. The upstairs bathroom was easily the smallest room in the large manor, barely large enough to fit a single person after including the shower, sink, and toilet. Drake pulled two towels from the cabinet below the sink and set one in the floor, while throwing the other onto the empty towel rack facing the sink.
The warm water of the shower was blissful, heating him against the lingering chill of the outside air. Underneath his clothing, Drake was rather different from his father. While he was well built himself, he was more lean and agile. His skin was also a shade or so lighter, and showed little signs of age. He ran his lather-covered hands across his chest, lingering on a thin, pearly scar that ran horizontally just below his right pectoral. It was the only spot or blemish across his otherwise unremarkable skin.
He rinsed his body, then his hair, then stepped out onto his towel, the cold air making him shiver as he reached for the towel on his left. He toweled himself off, then opened the bathroom door, letting the steam and warm air of the room into the long hall.
"Well it took you long enough! You feeling better?" His father's voice called up the stairs. "Don't forget to leave the door open up there, we want the bathroom to cool down asap so the floors don't start creaking cause of the steam." He said.
"Yeah, I know. What time is our guest getting here?" Drake called back.
"Not long now, I don't think, better not dilly-dally in any case." Came the reply.
He moved towards the door to his left, where his own bedroom sat untouched since he had vacated it that morning. It was large and tidy, two bookshelves resting against the wall. His bed sat against the far left corner of the room, clad in soft white sheets with three large pillows resting upright at the head. His two wardrobes sat adjacent to the end of the bed, one open, revealing dozens of neatly pressed dress shirts, none of which had been touched in quite some time, if the layer of dust coating each of them was any indication.
He strode past the first wardrobe and pulled the door on the other one open. This one was obviously used often. Coat hangers sat empty in between various t-shirts and jackets, several of them slightly bent. He pulled out a casual pair of grey sweatpants from the drawer and a light blue shirt from one of the hangers.
Dressed, showered, and as refreshed as he could be, Drake made his way down the stairs and into the living room, where his father was sat silently on a large, ornate wooden chair. He turned to face Drake when he realized he was there, but didn't speak for a few moments.
"Well, our guest should be here sometime soon. Emily's in the kitchen making dinner; we're having roast chicken, by the way." He said.
Drake shrugged. "That's fine. So, who exactly are we entertaining tonight?" He asked.
"Oh, actually, the one getting entertained is you." His father replied.
Drake was taken aback slightly, his eyebrows raised as he looked down on his father.
"Me?" He asked.
"Yep, someone called me and asked if one of their representatives could come by and talk to you about enrolling in one of their programs." His father explained.
"And you said yes? Ah well. I suppose I can hear em' out." Drake sighed. "What time is he getting here?" He asked.
"Five-thirty, or so they told me. Wouldn't be shocked if they got lost trying to find this place. We're not exactly on a road often travelled, as I'm sure you're aware."
But, as time would tell, the representative arrived promptly at five-thirty. The doorbell announced his arrival, and Drake's father hurried to the front door to usher him in.
"Adam Morris." Said the thin, weedy looking man, dressed in a charcoal suit. He held out his hand towards Drake. Drake shook it firmly, before being gripped on the shoulder by his father and promptly lead into the kitchen.
"Follow us Mr. Morris, we were just about to start dinner." Drake's father said.
The first few minutes of dinner passed by in silence, save the sounds of silverware on ceramic as Drake and his father ate. Drake glanced up at Mr. Morris occasionally, a odd curiosity stirring within him. Mr. Morris seemed slightly taken aback at the abrupt dinner invitation, and sat fidgeting in his chair, not even touching his plate.
"So." Started Drake, who was so confused that he couldn't stem his curiosity any longer. "What, uh… why exactly are you here, Mr. Morris.?" He asked.
Morris seemed grateful to have a reason to speak and promptly lowered his knife and fork.
"Ah, a very good question. As I said at the door, my name is Adam Morris. I'm a representative for the Department of Interspecies Relations." He said, pulling a card from his suit pocket and passing it across the table.
Drake glanced down at it, but prevented it from breaking his train of thought.
"Interspecies Relations? You wouldn't happen to be talking about non-Humans, would you?" He asked.
"That's exactly right. Err… I'm not sure you heard, but this morning, the UN passed a very important bill, formally acknowledging the non-Humans existence. By the way, it's now more acceptable to refer to them as Extra-Species." Morris said.
Drake considered this for a moment before speaking again.
"I'm, uh… not sure you're aware, but my family has a long, storied history of hunting and killing these, uh, Extra-Species." Drake said.
"Oh, we're well aware of that. In fact, that's exactly why we're here. You see, the bill had a provision that applies funding to the development of a new… Cultural Exchange Program. This program brings in individuals from the various Extra-Species to live in Human homes, in the hopes that cultural integration can be achieved more smoothly." Morris explained.
"So why are you talking to me about this program?" Drake asked.
"Well that's the thing, isn't it? You and your family are one of a select few that already knew of the existence of Extra-Species. Regardless of what your family did with that information, the fact remains that you have a plethora of knowledge that almost no one else does. I'm sure you can understand how that makes you an incredibly valuable asset to our department, and the world at large."
"So… you want me to come to work for you in your department?" Drake said. It was abundantly clear from his tone of voice just how little he thought of this idea.
"Oh, no! No, not at all… you see, we don't wish to coop you up in a dusty old office somewhere. You're a virile young man, after all. No, we were actually hoping you'd be willing to work as a host, for the Exchange program. One of the largest problems this program is going to face is the fact that humans just don't know enough about the Extra-Species to be fantastic hosts to them. You, however, are well versed on the in's and out's of many kinds of them, so you'd be a prime choice to serve as a sort of bridge between our numerous cultures." Morris said.
Drake mulled it over for what felt like an hour, before finally asking;
"So… you want to bring a bunch of Extra-Species to live in our house?" He asked.
"No… we were… actually hoping you'd be willing to relocate. The likely area you'd be relocated to is currently Kitashiobara, in Japan."
Drake perked up slightly at this, his eyes now entirely focused on Morris.
"Japan, really? Well… I suppose I have wanted to travel there… what's it going to cost us?" He asked warily.
"Nothing at all, the provision in the Bill provides an enormous amount of individual funding, enough to comfortably clothe, feed, and shelter you and several others for two decades." Morris said.
Drake looked to his father, who had been watching him closely for a while. He nodded at Drake, who felt his heart starting to pump more quickly.
"...Alright… I'll do it. Let's talk about paperwork."