AN: This was supposed to be released sometime in September… but I wasn't brave enough… Now that there are 11 chapters ready for this, I think I can publish it now.

Please review if you read! I don't write without reviews (but there are 11 chapters ready for your reading pleasure and I release one chapter a week!).

Summary: When their schools are rezoned, Blondies, Mongrels, and Elites must learn to get along nicely if they want to pass. But there is something bigger than academics out there to get them…

The Difference

Two Months Before Iason Mink's Junior Year, Summer Vacation

Iason Mink was a young man of few words. As a Blondie, he was only required to say what was necessary and so far in life accomplished that feat rather well. Yet, he has gathered a unique group of rather non-conforming Blondie friends. At the same time he has garnered enough respect from upper and lower-classmen to make his reputation almost spotless. It had already become known that Jupiter, the sentient computer-ruler of the diverse land of Amoi, would take him as Head apprentice as soon as he passed his Blondie exams.

Still, this silent achiever could have said something about the jumping of the mongrel there in the alleyway of Midas- the city within the city of Tanagura, the capital of Amoi and the current holder of Amoi's now public Academy. The Academy was directly in the middle of Tanagura, protected by the surrounding populated area.

Four older men pummeled the small mongrel to the ground, and Iason watched. His friend Omaki Ghan said he had two emotions: mildly upset and mildly amused. But at the moment no emotion prevailed on Iason's face. And then his visage changed to something spectacular.

Curiosity spread across his face, and he walked towards the one-sided fight. Jupiter would have died at the sight of the unorthodox Blondie behavior and the strange emotions fluttering through Iason's intensely intrigued mind. Jupiter thought it had made Iason perfect. Obviously, that was not the case. Something could move the young Blondie other than itself, and that was seeing a mongrel for the first time- or mongrels, as he thought they all were.

"Stroll around! Here! One more time! Mongrel! And this! Is what you! Get!" threatened one of the beaters between kicks, delineating his status.

Tanagura could be separated into three large subsections, also separating its three classes of citizens. Smallest subsection Eos housed the first-class citizens, Blondie Elites, synthetically-woven persons built by an unknown faction, under Jupiter and the Head of the Syndicate's complete control.

Second-class were lower Elites, natural-born, able to have pride in being the middle-class and above the third tier but also took aim for the statuses above them. They lived primarily in Midas and had some curious characters in their midst. The lowest of the middle class, the worst of them some may say, had multi-colored hair. Some of them descended from the vast array of humanoid races that used to be prolific during the colonization period of Amoi. Middle-class humanoids ranged from horse-like creatures to winged beings- often majestic animal-like species.

The low-class citizens resided in Ceres, mostly, though some had made it across some streets into Midas. They were unmistakably humanoid creatures, subhuman, and drastically poor. They lived abundantly in the slums and held a pride of their own. It was no wonder; Ceres practically bred haunted dwellings and most of Tanagura's suspicious greenery- though Midas and Eos had a few spooks of their own.

Now, Blondie Iason couldn't really tell a mongrel from a lower-middle-class citizen, except when the man called the mongrel, a mongrel. It was only evident that the ones doing the beating were horse-like in appearance and had little magic power- or held little of Amoi's life energy, as was the proper phrasing (most went with magic).

Blondies were built to hold, channel, and withstand magic- not like that was needed; they were naturally more intelligent and had more physical strength; plus, no one knew how to teach magic on the planet; only small bits of magical abilities were spread throughout the population. Still, being able to sense someone's channel of energy did come in handy. For example, Iason knew the Midas dwellers were no match for him. The mongrel, however, was giving off a weird vibe, tweaking more of Iason curiosity.

Iason took the wrist of the nearest assailant. With laughable ease, he squeezed the wrist until he was sure it would bruise even the bones. The man let out a yell of pain, a braying snort, and the others noticed Iason's presence.

"A Blondie! What's one of them doing here?"

"Let's get the hell out of here."

"Come on, man, get up."

The 'man' he had injured turned around to face Iason fearfully, but upon looking him full in the face he said, though cradling his arm, "It's just a kid."

Upon catching wind of this, the others relaxed. Iason become not just a little irritated at this change.

A blue-haired man, admittedly quite a bit older than Iason, patted him on the shoulder. He was a little shorter than the Blondie. "How about you get along now. You're off to school, right?"

"It's summer. School is out," Iason said curtly, using the tip of his fingers to remove the man's hand from his body.

"What grade are you in?"

"I'm a rising junior."

"Well, you're old enough to mind your business. I'll just let what you did to me slide if you let what you see here go in one ear and out the other."

Iason smiled, mildly amused by the man's nonsensical suggestion.

And then Iason saw the mongrel getting up, struggling to his feet. The mongrel was a wolf- not a cursed werewolf, danger to all, mind you- but a wolf humanoid. He had three tails, and preoccupied all of Iason's interest. He was only fifteen, and even he thought that that sort of thing was kind of cool.

He was ignoring the man talking, and the man became quite incensed, taking his chin in hand.

"Listen to me when I'm talking to you, boy."

At first Iason was only surprised. And then he punched the man in the face, sending him flying into the wall. The man staggered away, holding his broken jaw, and gestured for the others to follow him. They ran away.

Iason wiped off his chin, quite disgusted, yet proud that a fifteen-year-old like him bested a man probably twice his age. He turned back to the mongrel, or the slum dog, half-expecting him to be gone, but he was there, arms crossed and looking rather angry himself.

"What you go and do that for?"

"I did it because I wanted to." And because I wanted to see you up close, Iason didn't say, though he was feeling rather talkative today. Interestingly enough, the mongrel had jet-black hair and eyes and darkly tan skin, and wore ripped black denim pants with a black shirt, torn the same. Iason wasn't sure if that was just slum fashion or if he was too poor to buy good clothes.

The mongrel sniffed, then shrugged, saying, "So what do you want? You saved my ass so you can get, what, a blowjob or something?"

The seriousness of the inquiry temporarily stunned the young Blondie.

"How old are you?" Iason asked after a long silence.

"I'm fourteen, a sophomore at East Ceres High School."

"Had you said blowjob?"

"Yea." The sophomore started. "You didn't do it to get some, did you?"

Iason lifted his eyebrows. Blinking slowly, he sighed, "No."

"Then why did you do it?"

"Because I wanted to. I told you."

"Hot damn! Just your neighborhood friendly Blondie, now aren't you?"

Iason smiled, again mildly amused.

Quite abashed, the mongrel whipped his tails from side to side. Something about his rugged appearance sparked a part of Iason that the Blondie seldom felt as an android. Though only fifteen years old, he was old enough to tell when he was interested in someone, but that feeling was countered by a small feeling of disgust.

Most teachers goaded the discrimination of the other classes. The Blondies especially, since they were brought from Jupiter itself, were subject to intense peer pressure to act as if they were the best thing since Jupiter.

But Iason only felt mildly repulsed because he wasn't sure if the mongrel had enough money to buy water to wash himself. He had heard rumors that the lower class were so poor that they bought everything instant, like coffee and noodles. Who knows what else they couldn't buy?

And did the mongrel say blowjob?

"So what do you want?"

"Nothing."

"Just nothing? What, this was just some sort of pet project for you?"

Iason thought that was pretty funny, him using pet when he looked part animal, but the Blondie didn't laugh. He had a feeling that the mongrel wouldn't have found it all that amusing.

"I wouldn't use those words. It was more like something that I did on a whim."

"Hmph," the mongrel said, and then extended his hand, his nose scrunched up in distaste. Iason had his hands bare for the day, as he didn't think it would match his polo dress shirt and khaki pants- unless he wanted to look like a golfer. He took the mongrel's hand.

"Riki," the mongrel muttered.

"Iason Mink," Iason answered, wondering if the boy had a last name. He held the hand, it was surprisingly soft. And Riki didn't have a bad smell like he had anticipated. He smelled like he showered well, shampooed his hair, enjoyed a good toothbrush. A mongrel wasn't at all as bad as he thought!

Riki snatched away his hand. Though Amoi was a planet of males, except for the girl here and there, he didn't quite like his hand being held by a Blondie like he was some fascinating science project.

"You're never seen a... what do you call us... mongrel like me before, have you?"

Iason admitted, "No."

"That's why ya' Blondie ass jumped in... Wanted to see me up close?"

"Yes," was the honest answer.

Riki spread his hands, gesturing at his body. "So how do you like me?"

"You're fine."

Riki rolled his eyes, digging in his pocket. He pulled out a pen. Uncapping it, he took Iason's hand again and wrote down a number. His number. He stepped back, pocketing his pen in one part of his jeans and taking his cell phone from the other.

"You have a cell phone."

Riki smiled. "It's not mine- but anyway, you can wash your hands or call me when you need a favor, even though, as ya' can see, I'm all healed already."

The mongrel indeed had no bruises or cuts, injuries which should have been evident after he had received such a beating.

Iason looked at his hand, memorizing the number, almost instantly storing it into his long-time memory bank. When he looked back up, the mongrel was already walking away, the suspicious phone to his ear and talking to some person named Guy.

Iason turned the way he came and headed home.