The wind rushed coolly across his face and Tsukune found himself both confused and awed at what was happening. One second he was standing in front of the Special Assault Team soldiers, about to be taken in. The next he was flying over the school and then across the city. He could feel someone's or something's hold on the collar of his shirt, but he could not figure out who it was and was unable to turn around enough to identify the thing that held him. Then, just as suddenly as he had seemingly been taken, the world came to a halt and he found himself atop a nearby mountain. A sudden gust of wind ruffled his torn up clothes and kicked up a little of the dirt around him.
Taking a moment to catch his breath, Tsukune finally looked around and spotted his abductor.
"Dad?" he said in complete disbelief. What the hell? As if this day couldn't get any worse, the world had to surprise him with his father flying. His mind began to spin and he held out his hands a little to steady himself. This had to be a dream. He must have passed out back at the school.
"Tsukune," greeted his father with a slight inclination of his head. Well, he sounded like his father.
He looked completely different than Tsukune remembered ever seeing him before. Tetsuo Aono stood a little taller and seemed a little younger, carrying himself with a greater strength that Tsukune had never seen prior to that moment. A simple robe of white and gold stretched down to his knees, and over it was a set of silver armor complete with a cuirass, faulds, greaves, and gauntlets, all with strange markings and designs. His eyes shone with power as he looked at his son, the concern on his features clear.
"Are you okay? You're not hurt anywhere?" asked the elder Aono.
Tsukune got out of his shock at seeing his father and replied slowly and angrily. "Am I okay? Am I okay? One of my best friends turned into some kind of monster, slaughtered half the local police force, and is now dead. My other best friend will probably lose a leg, if he's still alive. Another good friend got his... got his head stomped. And there's a vampire who's trying to kill me. So no. I am not okay." The memories of their deaths flashed freshly in his mind and his eyes shut tight attempting to get the images out of his head. His breaths were long and deliberate as he tried to calm himself.
"I'm sorry, son." The words were said with heavy sorrow.
"What...?" he asked, his voice barely above a whisper. Tsukune was shaking his head, his eyes still closed, and he found himself unable to articulate what he wanted to say. His mind was a whirlwind of shock and confusion. What in the world was going on? How was this all real?
Tetsuo tucked his hands behind him, his gaze not once leaving his son. "We've kept some big secrets from you, son," he began, "Secrets that we thought would never come to light. What happened at the school today, what you saw... and what you did. That was all part of a world, a life, that your mother and I thought we had left behind."
Tsukune shifted uneasily on his feet. "I don't... I don't understand..."
A heavy sigh escaped his father's lips. "From what I briefly saw as I took you away from the school, you unfortunately encountered what is called a ghoul. I know this is difficult to comprehend and even more difficult to accept, but you saw it with your own two eyes. A ghoul is a type of monster, and yes, monsters do exist in this world. Some of them live among us, but most monsters tend to stay in their respective realms because of the treaty. And there are all manner of monsters, many of which you know from myths and fairy tales. Ghouls, werewolves, vampires, trolls, goblins... they are all very much real."
Well, Tsukune could not deny that. Not after what he had seen in only the last few hours. Not after what he had been through. The new information his father was giving him he wanted to know more about though, so he asked, "Realms? Treaty?"
"Realms are alternate pockets of reality that exist beyond the world that we know. They are formed and kept separate by powerful magic, and magic is essentially a controlled manipulation of energy. These realms were created by the monsters for monsters, and it is a part of the treaty that they agreed to to keep the peace here on earth, our shared world."
"Saito... was he a ghoul this whole time?"
"No, Tsukune. As far as we know, ghouls are a strain of vampire. When a vampire bites someone, they can either suck on their blood or inject their own blood into the victim. If they choose to inject their blood, this effectively serves to turn their prey into one of two things: a vampire, or a ghoul. Although there is also a chance that the body completely rejects the blood and the victim then dies. While a vampire may retain their conscious thoughts, a ghoul is lost completely to violent madness. All cases of ghouls have thus far shown this to be true," explained his father.
"So that's why... but he recognized me initially! How could he recognize me if he was completely mad?" Tsukune looked to his dad in confusion.
"He was recently turned, and like most people who are turned he fought against the darkness that tried to take over his mind. Unfortunately, almost everyone succumbs to it. Your friend was no exception."
There was a long silence as Tsukune thought of his late friend, realizing that he had been trying to cling to his humanity, and his sanity, before he went berserk. Saito had been bravely fighting to maintain control, but ultimately lost himself.
"Am I like you then?" he finally spoke again. "I felt this strange power surge through me. It was... different. And yet familiar. And I somehow managed to punch a vampire and send her flying."
Tetsuo suddenly look even more worried. "Yes. You have my blood in you and so you are like me. But hold on, there was a vampire there?" At Tsukune's nod, he started mumbling to himself worriedly, "This is troubling news. Very troubling... A vampire and a ghoul out in broad daylight, killing humans... maybe... well, no... no, it's just an isolated incident, I'm sure... but that means..."
"That means what, dad?"
"There will be others of our kind here soon. They will want to investigate for themselves what happened," replied Tetsuo.
"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"
His father's mouth twisted into a frown. "It most likely is both."
Another moment of silence ensued.
Tsukune then asked, "So are we... monsters?" He glanced down at his hands with growing concern, turning them over and back slowly, as if they might sprout claws and scales all of a sudden.
"No, Tsukune. We are not like the vile creatures you faced at school. We are not monsters."
"Then what does that make us?" asked Tsukune, relieved that he wasn't a 'monster' but still wondering what exactly he was now.
"We're... different. Some of our kind would have us believe that we are simply a higher form of humanity, though the vampires most certainly dispute that claim," his father replied wryly. "Others would say we are a different species come from a different world altogether."
"Dad. What. Are. We? Stop avoiding the question... I... I need to know."
His father let out a heavy sigh. "Before I tell you, I want you to know that putting a label on something does not necessarily define what it is. Remember that, and remember it well, son." Tetsuo's eyes flashed briefly and suddenly white and gold streams of light escaped from his back and in a bright rush they formed into glowing wings far bigger than the man that bore them. They flared out, extending fully. Each wing looked to be at least seven feet long and were covered with what looked like feathers, but they seemed unreal because they glowed softly with an ethereal light, like they were wings of energy instead of actual, physical wings.
Tsukune could not help but feel awed at the sight, and again so many questions popped up in his head, but before he could ask them his father spoke further.
"Humans," his father said, "They would call us angels."
Moka's hands shook as she read the message a second time through eyes blurred by warm tears. She kept telling herself that this was not real, that this was not happening. The one true friend she had finally made, the one she felt this special connection with, no longer wanted to see her. She couldn't understand why he was saying such things. How could he be so cruel to her? How could he not even let her explain what happened and why? He must have read the letter she left him, but apparently it was not enough.
Moka, I never want to see you again. Don't bother trying to get in touch with me. I've moved on.
The phone suddenly slipped through her fingers, her grip weakening, and it fell to the hard stone floor with a loud clatter. A few pieces of the plastic case broke off from the impact, but she barely noticed.
Sobs racked her body as she suddenly felt weak and collapsed to her knees, head hanging down towards her chest. Tears escaped freely from her eyes and her entire body started to feel numb. She could not imagine Tsukune ever saying that to her and being so mean, so cold, and yet the text message she received was proof enough. It was real. She wanted to call him, but he had said not to bother trying to get a hold of him. She couldn't even try to explain, try to reason with him, and she had never thought she would feel so lost again.
All those years spent shunned and alone out in the human world ran through her mind. Tsukune's friendliness and kindness towards her had been so surprising. He had rekindled her ability to be happy and had shown her that not all humans were the same. They were not all bad, there was some good in humans too. But now that didn't matter anymore and she felt devastated for the second time in only a few days.
"I told you we didn't need him, and he has made it very clear that he doesn't need us either. So stop crying, stop acting so weak, and move on like that filthy human has," her inner voice berated, although the tone was not as harsh as it could have been.
Outer Moka could not simply stop her feelings though, and she continued to cry for another hour. Inner Moka remained silent for the rest of the night.
Finally, numbly, she ran out of tears and moved to her bed, sobs still shaking her body every now and then. She wiped her nose with the back of her hand and hugged one of her soft pillows tightly, her moist cheeks dampening the pillowcase. It didn't take her long to fall asleep, emotionally and physically exhausted from the last hour.
"What the hell were you thinking, Akua? Were you even thinking? Do you have any idea what you have just fucking done? What your actions will now cause?" spat a seething Gyokuro as she sat rigidly in her ornate chair, her slitted red eyes glowing furiously as they fastened themselves upon the dark-haired young woman standing in front of her desk.
Kahlua had just finished her report on what she had seen when she went to collect Akua, and the carnage she described along with the fact that the media was there to cover it all had really pissed off Gyokuro.
Akua lowered her gaze. She knew full well what the consequences for her actions would be, but she honestly couldn't care less. The damned treaty was signed more than a millenium ago, before even Issa Shuzen became a vampire. Things had changed considerably since then, and a peaceful coexistence was not something she wanted to continue. That was a viewpoint that she and Gyokuro shared, and that was why she offered to help the vampiress in the first place. Still, she held her tongue and said nothing, knowing that any words - even if they were true and honest - would only serve to further anger Gyokuro. And that was best to be avoided, even though Akua had full confidence in her abilities, picking a fight with another one of the most powerful vampires in the world was not something to be done lightly. She would be reprimanded, perhaps punished in some way, but they would all move on and all of this would eventually be forgotten.
"You have just made things more difficult for me, and even more so for you, Akua," Gyokuro continued, her voice harsh and unforgiving, "The Council will undoubtedly meet very soon to decide your fate. And those damned winged insects will have heard of what happened by now and they will come and demand their foolish justice. At best, you will be severely punished by the Council and it will not be pleasant. At worst, you will be banished from the vampire realms and given as a prisoner to Elysium."
Akua looked up at her, finally speaking with a hint of dismay in her voice, "They would not... You wouldn't..." Punishment at the hands of the Council, while most likely to be agonizing and horrible, paled in comparison to being banished and imprisoned in Elysium. Those holier, literally, than thou creatures would make sure she suffered tremendously; she would rather be punished by her own kind - better the devil you know, as they say.
"You have endangered us all, Akua! I cannot protect you from both the Council and Elysium if, and when, they come for you. Not even Issa can. Anything less than cooperation would risk open war."
"On top of that, my carefully laid plans are in danger of being completely ruined all because of your egregious lapse in judgement," Gyokuro let out a heavy breath, "No, even if I could shield you I would not. You have become too much of a liability, Akua. I cannot allow you to stay with me any more. You will be escorted before the Council immediately."
Akua took a step back, the words hitting her hard while her gut tightened. This was far worse than she had expected Gyokuro's reaction to be. Akua knew that she had gone a little overboard, but surely what Gyokuro was saying was exaggerated. The Council would not be so harsh as she said because her father would help protect her from the worst punishment. He had to! And after all that she had done for Gyokuro, how could she not protect her? How could she just kick her away? She was technically her daughter after all. They were all family!
"I'm more useful to you alive and at your side! Besides, you're attempting to take control of the world, mother. Doing that would lead to war anyway! What does it matter if it starts sooner rather than later?" Akua retorted, her own red eyes flashing. She clenched her fists, giving in to her rising anger at being discarded so easily.
Gyokuro stood abruptly, eyes narrowing. "You were useful to me. Before you went and publicly attacked humans in broad daylight in blatant violation of the treaty and of our own laws. And you of all people should understand how important timing is for plans to work. Now, Elysium will be more alert, more suspicious than they would have been without your idiotic stunt. My plans are in serious jeopardy now and I would punish you myself if I didn't think the Council would do a good enough job."
Behind Akua, the double doors that led into Gyokuro's office opened and she could sense six vampires approaching with haste. She immediately knew what they were there for and, thinking quickly, she snarled and showed her fangs in anger before swiftly running and jumping out through one of the large windows. The glass shattered into hundreds of pieces with a crash, a strong wind blowing into the office from the sudden exposure ti the elements, as she hurtled through the air. The vampires that had just arrived started chasing after her but stopped short at the edge of the building and simply watched as she fell.
With the wind rushing all around her, Akua looked down at the rapidly approaching street and readied herself.
Her anger subsiding a fraction at the sudden action of her daughter, Gyokuro shook her head and ever so slightly smirked, gazing at the broken window that the younger vampire had leapt through. She did not expect Akua to go without a fight, and she definitely didn't expect that she would run instead of trying to kill them all. It was tough to cut her loose like this, but it had to be done. The young woman was right in her assessment of her usefulness - she was as good as Kahlua at doing what needed to be done. Except where Kahlua was restrained and obedient, Akua was wilder and far more independent-minded. As Gyokuro had observed, she was a liability, one that she simply tolerated before her recent mess up.
Issa would do everything he could to protect her, she was technically a part of the Shuzen family after all, but Gyokuro had neither the patience or the affection for her delinquent daughter to do the same. Not when there were far more important things to focus her efforts on. And not when it was hopeless to keep her from severe harm. Besides, the holy beings of Elysium most likely will be watching Akua closely from here on out, and Gyokuro could not afford the risk that the extra scrutiny might reveal her plans to the angels too soon.
The vampires who had entered were still looking out over the edge, the strong wind blowing on their pressed dark suits. One of the six vampires who entered finally turned away from the broken window and approached Gyokuro, bowing respectfully at the waist. "Lady Gyokuro, shall we pursue her?"
"No," she replied, and she saw the look of surprise cross the man's features. "You can return to your duties for now. Oh, and get someone to fix this mess." She waved her hand lazily towards the broken window.
"Right away, my Lady." The vampire bowed and then beckoned to his companions to leave.
Kahlua was quickly at her side once they were gone, gazing intently at her. "Shall I chase after her, mother?" Her expression was neutral, but there was a tinge of excitement in her voice that her mother was able to discern.
Gyokuro looked towards the broken window and said, "No. I won't waste any more time or resources on that girl. We keep moving forward with the plan. The Council and Issa can worry about Akua."
"You've got to be kidding," Tsukune declared, taking a seat on the ground because he couldn't keep standing, his mind spinning.
"Does this look like I'm kidding?" his father asked as he furled and unfurled his magnificent wings again.
They were silent for a time, Tetsuo allowing his son a peaceful moment to process everything.
"So is mother...?"
His father nodded. "Yes."
"Does that mean we're immortal?"
"Not quite. We live far longer than humans because we age much slower, but living in Elysium extends our lifespan even further," replied Tetsuo.
"It is the home of all angels."
"So you mean... heaven?" Tsukune felt strange saying that like it was a real place. He never really believed in all that, but now he was realizing that there were a lot of mythical things that might actually be real.
A short chuckle escaped from his father's lips. "You could call it that, but Elysium is its real name."
"This is all so... unbelievable," he said, rubbing his left forearm with his right hand. Tsukune looked up at his father. "But why? Why did you leave it behind? Why didn't you tell me anything?"
Tetsuo sighed heavily. "Your mother and I left that life behind because of two reasons. First and foremost was because we wanted you to have a normal, peaceful life away from the trappings of our society. Second, we did not agree with the direction that Elysium's leaders was taking us. It is of course far more complicated than that, but I would rather not go into the specific details."
"The trappings of our society? What does that mean?"
"It's complicated..." his father gave him a pained expression, not wanting to explain further.
Tsukune looked up at the night sky, the sun having set already and the moon bright amongst the stars. "So... does that mean... that God is real?"
Tetsuo was about to reply when he suddenly looked sharply at the sky, eyes narrowing. "They are here."
Tsukune scrutinized the sky, though he didn't see or sense anyone just yet. "Who is?" he finally asked, wondering if he was missing something.
That question was answered when in a rush of wind five winged beings flew down from the sky and landed in a cloud of dirt nearby. A second later and the dirt cloud was dispersed by a strong gust. Tetsuo moved closer to Tsukune, who remained seated on the ground. He noted that his father was suddenly tense, his hands balled into fists, and Tsukune warily eyed the newcomers.
Four of the five were dressed similarly to his father - white robes with gold embroidery and silver armor. The one standing ahead of all of them, and clearly the leader, wore a complete set of white, crystal-like armor that seemed to have its own glow, and a long flowing white cape with gold embroidery. It was a woman. Her long red hair flowed down to curl upon her shoulders, with two bangs of hair spreading around her face to frame it. Silver eyes shone with energy as she looked impassively on the two Aonos.
"Well, it is a surprise to see you here, Tetsuo Aono," the woman said, her voice melodic to Tsukune's ears.
"It's been a while, Lana," said Tetsuo.
"Several decades, I would think," she said, "Acharis was not pleased with your sudden departure."
"Acharis was not pleased with my existence," replied his father coolly.
"Be that as it may, you know the penalty for desertion of your post is most... severe. I do admit that I am impressed you have stayed hidden from us for so long." Her gaze drifted to Tsukune, who could not look away from her. "And this must be your son."
"My son has nothing to do with this. You've found me, and I will return willingly to receive my punishment, but he must go free. He knows nothing of our ways and I want him to live his life away from all of this." Tetsuo's voice was hard and Tsukune suddenly felt nervous.
Lana smiled, her lips parting to reveal brilliant white teeth. "Oh, but this has everything to do with him. Raised as a human or not, he will be brought to Elysium along with you. This order comes directly from the Seraphs."
His father seemed to hesitate at that, and Tsukune wondered what the Seraphs were. "I won't let you," said the elder Aono, taking a step forward, his fists tightening.
"You can either come willingly, or we will drag you there a little worse for wear," her tone indicated that she dared him to try anything. The four angels flanking her spread out more and readied themselves, their eyes glowing.
"Dad..." Tsukune started to say.
"You need to run, Tsukune," Tetsuo said and then he roared a battle cry as he threw himself with astonishing speed towards the nearest angel, catching him by surprise as the elder Aono's shoulder rammed into the man's chest, sending him flying back with tremendous force. The next closest angel sent a kick his way but Tetsuo ducked and then launched himself upwards as he caught the man's outstretched leg. They flew into the air and Tetsuo rammed his fist into the man's side, eliciting a cry of pain, before gripping the man's leg tightly and then throwing him down into the ground, a small crater forming from the impact as dust kicked up into the air.
The other two angels were suddenly upon him, and Tetsuo was forced to go on the defensive as the two attacked simultaneously. Tsukune was impressed with his father's skill as he watched him take on the two angels at once, though he noted that the other two were slowly getting to their feet again, their eyes glowing brighter and their faces full of anger.
Lana seemed to watch the fighting with disinterest for a moment before walking over to Tsukune, who turned to her fearfully. He tried to move away but only managed to get a few feet before the armored angel was standing right over him, her silver eyes studying his own brown ones.
"Many decades ago your father deserted his people, leaving Elysium and his post to live a normal life amongst the humans," said the redhead, "For that the punishment is death. And for your mother as well, assuming we find her, and I am sure we will soon enough. However, the Seraphs have ordered that if you return along with your parents and you all rejoin Elysium, they will be spared." Tsukune's heart was beating fast as he thought about her words. "Will you come willingly?" Her armored right hand extended towards him.
There was only the briefest of hesitations before he took her outstretched hand with a strong grip.
Author's notes: Thanks for continuing to read and review! I hope you're all enjoying thus far.
As for Tsukune's dad: I wanted to change the name. Koji just wasn't working for me. If you don't like the change, tough luck! Go find a more canon story.