Australian in a Strange Land

Chapter 1

“Are you sure I can’t stay at home and help you guys unpack?” I pleaded.

My father turned his head to fix me with a nonplussed stare. “Stop trying to get out of it. You know Zipangu schools aren’t as lax as the ones back home. You’re going to be playing catch-up as it is.”

“Ara Ara~” a soft voice came from behind me. “You’re going to be late, David-kun! Here, I made you lunch.”

“Thanks Takako…” I murmur, reluctantly taking the intricately wrapped lunch box. The snow-fox my father had married fixed me with a sunny smile, but her ears wilted slightly, and I could sense her disappointment. I walked outside, nearly forgetting to swap my house shoes for real ones.

“Dave, C’mere.” My father grunted from the doorway. “Your tie’s all fucked up.”

“Takako’ll have you for swearing dad.” I mocked as he fixed my amateur knot with expert hands.

“Would it kill you to call her mum once in a while?” My father replied in barely more than a whisper. “You know how much it means to her. C’mon sport, help a fella out.”

“She’s not my mum.” I retort hotly.

“Doesn’t stop her from waking up at sparra’s-fart to make your bloody lunch mate. I know this’s been tough, but don’t take the fuckin’ Ilians closing down my department out on her. It’s only her Family’s generosity that scored me the new gig here in the first place.”

I sigh. “Alright Dad.”

“Attaboy, now er… ‘Do your best” My dad offered with an uncomfortable smile, the last in heavily accented Zipangan.

“You’ve been watching too many cartoons dad.” I snicker, waving as I head up the street.

A number of students, both Human and Mamono, were running down the street past me, one eager looking catgirl scrambling into a jacket whilst a piece of bread hung from her mouth. I stepped aside allowing her plenty of room to pass.

I’ve watched too many cartoons as well.

“Class, I’d like you to welcome a new exchange student.”

Oh fuck me that’s actually a thing?

“David-san, please, introduce yourself.”

“G’day… er… ‘Hello” I begin. Fuck Dave, great start, better check your pockets for pasta before you go any further.

“My name is David. I’m from Australia, My Zipangan is pretty poor so I beg your….”

“Sorry ma’am, what’s the word for ‘indulgence’?” I hiss aside at the teacher.

“Indulgence” The Lamia answers, an amused smile on her face, her cobalt, serpentine body coiled demurely beneath her.

“Sorry, yeah. I beg your indulgence.” I said, bending at the waist like Takako had advised.

“You need to write it.” The teacher murmured.

“You wha?” I grunt

“You need to write your name on the board.”

Ah Balls… What was it again? Manky T with a hat on it, drunk T, headless bloke reading the paper on the shitter, smiley looking thing, line with a limp dick and a couple of dashes… There.

Titters sounded behind me at my attempt, I gritted my teeth.

“Thank you David-san. Please take a seat.”

I scanned the room briefly, an empty seat near the back, next to the window.

“I’m the fuckin’ hero”. I mutter in English as I take my seat and pull out my notebook.

Did I mention I watched too many cartoons?

A blonde-haired guy next to me seemed to be trying very hard not to laugh. Looking at me with a conspiriatorial grin, he tapped at his wrist. My own PC vibrated against the skin of my left wrist.

‘DIXIE_MAN_69 wants to send you a file’ the screen read.

Shrugging, I pushed the ‘accept’ icon.

‘Downloading… File transfer complete. Do you want to install ‘W33b-M4st3rs_Zipangan_Translator.pak’

“Oh you are my own personal Jesus Christ, mate.” I hiss, eagerly pushing the ‘yes’ button, fishing my earpiece out of my pocket and inserting it surreptitiously into my left ear.

“…was founded in 2023 with the rise of the then president…” The Lamia’s voice came through in stilted English. Oh beautiful. I was only picking out every third word before that!

The novelty quickly wore off as the humdrum of modern history droned on. The Lamia teacher, whose name I discovered was “Mrs. Seilar” had an odd habit of clasping her hands together in front of her whenever she was asking the class something. This had the added effect of pressing her breasts together, and the buttons on her shirt were performing yeoman duty attempting to keep those puppies contained.

Fuck me, I’m not a robot, shit was distracting.

“David-san?”

Oh fuck. That’s me.

“Sorry ma’am… Could you repeat the question?” I stammered

Titters from the class again. Fuck’s sake…

“When was Mamono citizenship first officially recognised?”

“Oh er… Treaty of Seattle, 2025.” I answered instinctively. “Although…” I drawled. “It can be argued that the inclusion of Mamono under Australia’s Native Title Act in 2021 constituted a recognition of citizenship prior to the official treaty.”

Mrs. Seilar hissed slightly, her eyes widening. “That… Is correct.”

Was this bitch just trying to make me look bad or something?

The bell sounded.

I sighed with relief, grabbing my bag and standing up slightly. A discrete cough to my right. The blond haired boy was shaking his head imperceptibly at me as Mrs. Seilar left the room, trailed by the majority of the other students who were heading to the cafeteria. When the room had emptied save for a few, he turned to me with a grin.

“Howdy. I’m Adam, figured it was a good time to show y’all the ropes over lunch.” He offered good-naturedly, his accent pure southern United States.

I smirked “Eating lunch together?” I widened my eyes comically “I-I don’t feel that way about you, Adam-kun!”

“Fuck man! Don’t even joke about that here!” Adam hissed. “Gonna have them Mamono thinkin’ we’re all deviants up in this business!”

“Mate, if you’re that insecure about it…” I begin.

“I don’t give a fuck, son, but it’s the quickest way to get your ass alped.”

“Alped?”

“Yeah, there was a guy here last year… kept making gay jokes, calling everyone ‘faggot’ and the like. Next thing I know he’s not here and there’s this new tomboy mamono in the class.”

I frown. “You’ve lost me mate.”

“Do I gotta draw y’all a picture? They turned him into a chick!”

“Transmutation? Dad says that’s just Ilian propaganda.” I snort.

“Well I ain’t takin’ the chance man.”

“Orright, orright…” I chuckle. “I was just having a laugh mate.”

“What’s the accent, Australia?”

“Yeah, You?”

“Georgia” Adam replied. “Came here after the folks lost their jobs in the recession.”

“Yeah, my dad was working for the Office of Extraplanar Naturalization which of course got shut down when ‘Humanity First’ got the lob and Prime Minister Jackson came in.”

“Rough man.” Adam said with empathy. “…Why Zipangu though?”

“Stepmum. She’s a Kit. Got some connections here or something, managed to wrangle my dad a position at the Embassy.”

“Damn son, that’s a sweet gig. Gotta admit it’s where I’m looking to end up.”

“Oh yeah, got your life all planned out?”

Adam laughed “Naw. Just pays better than most other shit these days.”

“Heh, fair enough. D’you mind if I eat while we talk? I’m starving.” I say, fishing the lunchbox out of my bag.

“Nah man, that’s a good idea!” Adam declared, fishing his own out.

“Whatcha got?”

“Shit yeah, Fried chicken and mayonnaise! Mom must not have been as pissed off as she was acting this morning.” Adam said with glee.

“That’s good I guess.” I chuckle.

“What about you?”

“I have no fucking idea…” I reply, staring at the intricately sculpted objet d’art sitting where my lunch should be.

“Daaaaayum… Ok son first lesson. Lunch is love here in Zipangu. Your stepmom’s going to that much effort she either loves the shit out of you, or she’s afraid you’ll kill her in her sleep.”

“Really…” I murmur, taking a bite of something rice-looking. An explosion of flavour erupts in my mouth.

“Crikey!” I gasp

“You OK?” Adam asks with concern.

“This is fuckin’ amazing!” I reply, digging in.

“Aw hell, y’all can’t be sayin’ that and not sharing.” Adam lamented.

I laughed, holding out my lunchbox for him to snag a bit. He bites into it and his eyes widen.

“Buh Gawd!” He mumbles around a mouthful of food “Ash shum good shit!”

“No probs. Still owe you for the translator anyway, I figure.”

“Drinks are on you then?” Adam ventured.

I laughed. “Yeah, sure. Whatcha want?”

“Anything but that green tea shit.”

I scooped the last fragments of lunch into my mouth, stuffing the box back into my bag and heading for the door. “Back in a sec.”

“Fucking hell, I knew I had another coin here somewhere…” I muttered to myself as I dug in my pockets. Finding it, I fed it into the machine, pressing a couple of buttons. Lemon squash seemed like a fairly safe bet.

“Hey you.” Came a voice from behind me. Retrieving the drinks, I turned around to see a winged Mamono standing there, a small group of varied followers behind her.

“You’re in my class.” The Mamono declared.

“Guess so.” I replied. Her eyes narrowed in irritation. The fuck kind of person gets offended by that?

“Better quit showing off.” She grated, crossing scaled, clawed arms in front of her chest, a long, draconian tail lashing behind her.

“I have no idea what you’re bloody on about.” I murmur, pushing past her.

“Hey!” She yells, grabbing my arm.

“What?” I snap, locking eyes with her.

“Y-you better learn who you’re dealing with here, outlander!” She blustered.

“The fuck should I care? And just for the record, we usually use ‘outlander’ to refer to things which didn’t evolve naturally on this plane.” I sneered, pulling my arm from her grip.

“After school, you and me!” she yells after me.

“Yeah right, tell yer story walkin” I laugh dismissively as I head back towards the classroom. I was expecting a little force from the Mamono, seeing as they are what they are and I was the shiny new thing. I figured if I didn’t get bailed up in a dark corner somewhere I’d be pretty safe.

I’d be safe, right?

“No sense over thinking things, probably just what passes for a school bully here.” I muttered. I was a full head taller than most of my fellow students, and even a few of the staff. She was just looking to enhance her rep.

That’s all it was, surely.

“B-But you promised, Adam-kun!” a girl’s voice sounded from behind the half closed door.

“Aw baby don’t you be like that, I was just makin’ sure the new guy was alright!” Adam’s voice replied.

“What new guy?”

“He’s gone to get drinks.”

“Oh sure, very conveniMMMfffff… D-Don’t think you can distract me byMMMmmm”

Hmmm… Better see what’s going on here. I slid the door open to see a busty cowgirl sitting on Adam’s lap, kissing him insistently. I coughed discretely, and she jumped up with a slight squeal.

“G’day, this new guy.” I chuckle, throwing a drink to Adam.

“David, this is Laina. Laina, David McDavidson.”

“Pleased to meet you David-san.” Laina offered, straightening her clothes self-consciously.

“You too Laina…” I reply with a smile “Y’know Adz, you could have warned me about that winged gecko thing.”

“Winged wha?” Adam replied, his brow furrowed with confusion.

“Yeah, some winged lizard just tried to pick a fight with me.”

Adam’s face blanched with horror. “What happened?”

“Told the bitch to hit the skids, what else?” I snickered.

“A-and she… took that?”

I laughed. “Reckons she’s gonna fight me after school.”

Adam groaned, putting his head in his hands.

“Oh don’t be so bloody dramatic, it can’t be that bad.”

I was right… It wasn’t that bad, it was way worse.

I squinted as the dragon took wing again, circling above me. I panted, wiping the sweat from my brow and balancing my weight. I was in that moment intensely grateful that my uncle owned a gym and had humoured a young boy’s interest, it was the only thing which had kept me standing.

She crossed in front of the sun and I tensed myself… She was predictable at least, she was coming in for a div…

“Oooofff” I grunted as she drove her shoulder into my midsection, the full force of that dive behind it. I managed to retain enough presence of mind to grapple her, forcing her to the ground with me. For a moment all was claws and scales and hair. A detatched part of my mind admitted I probably wasn’t looking altogether manly, desperately grappling with a dragon-girl in a schoolgirl’s uniform.
“Heh… I’ll credit you for bravery at least…” The dragon hissed, pushing herself atop me. “Just submit. I’ve never had a toy as tough as you before… maybe I’ll even keep you…”

“Yeah nah get fucked” I grated, straining against her. Christ she was strong!

“Well then I’ll just have to take you by for…” Her self-satisfied musing turned to a screech as a beam of violet energy blasted her from atop me. A dark shape ran to my side.

“L-leave him alone! H-he said no!” it cried in a feminine voice. I blinked, rubbing my eyes to behold my saviour. Her black hair was cut in short bangs at the front, framing a large, cyclopean eye. Tentacles writhed from her back, each ending in an eye, two of which glowing with that angry violet energy.

The dragon landed with a look of disgust and annoyance. “I don’t want it any more, it’s got gazer all over it.” She sneered, before launching herself into the air and away.

“Thanks” I grunted, hauling myself to my feet.

“N-no problem.” The girl replied, turning her eye away with a slight blush.

“I’m David”

“I-it’s ok, you don’t have to pretend to like me.” The gazer murmured.

I laughed. “You just saved my arse, probably the rest of me too, why wouldn’t I like you?”

She muttered something inaudible, shuffling her feet, her tentacles coiling and retracting to peer shyly over her shoulders at me. I looked at her bag.

“No shit, you like Fade Empire 3?” I exclaimed.

“I-I liked the other ones… I h-haven’t played this one yet.”

I grinned at my shy deliverer. “Want to?”

Her name, I discovered, after coaxing as much conversation out of her as I could, was Ume, and she liked video games and astronomy.

“I didn’t think Zipangu would be big on that.”

“Hmmm?” Ume asked, one of her appendant-eyes looking at me.

“Astronomy, I mean, doesn’t the light get in the way?”

“Well dad usually has to drive a fair way to set up the telescope, and you have to do it pretty late at night…” she murmured “…But I don’t want to bore you.”

I chuckled. “Ume, if I wasn’t interested, I wouldn’t be asking.”

“Y-you could just be acting polite.” Ume murmured.

“Polite? I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m Australian. Our fondest greetings are venomous insults in most parts of the world”

“Oh.” She mumbled.

“Well, we’re here.” I offered, putting a hand on her arm to indicate the otherwise inconspicuous gate. She flinched slightly, and the appendant eyes nearest my hand flashed between it and my face in seeming incredulity at the contact.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“It’s ok.” She replied, and I swore I saw the ghost of a smile on her face.

“I’m home!” I called as I entered, remembering to kick my shoes off (bloody weird custom, the whole house is hardwood floor anyway) “And I’ve got company.”

“Gudday son.” My dad replied, wiping his hands with a rag as he entered. “And…”

“Dad, this is Ume.”

“Ume, pleased to meet you.”

“P-pleased to meet you.” The Gazer mumbled, her appendant eyes retracted nearly entirely into her back.

“Your accent’s gotten better.” I jested.

“Shaddup boy.” My dad replied with a grin.

“Guy at school gave me something interesting, I’ll show it you later.”

“Sounds good, I’m just fixing the bike, come get me if I don’t hear your mother call for dinner.”

“Yeah, sure…” I murmur, an odd feeling in my guts.

“C-Can I use your bathroom?” Ume mumbled

“Sure, third door on the left, I’m just gonna put something away.”

Ume murmured thanks, heading towards the toilet. I walked into the kitchen, where Takako was humming away, preparing something for dinner.

“Oh! David-kun! Welcome home!” She near gushed, turning to face me with that sunny smile.

“I-I just wanted to say… Thanks for Lunch… Mum.”

The last word grated in my throat, and my eyes began to sting. Takako pressed her hands to her mouth, her heart in her eyes. Wordlessly, she opened her arms to me, and I accepted her embrace. She was soft, so soft… How did I not notice it before?
A soft sound intruded, and I noticed her shoulders shaking slightly.

“You crying mum?” I asked.

“N-no… Don’t be silly!” She sniffed, wiping her eyes. “It’s just the onions. Now give me your lunchbox so I can wash it with the rest.”

“Yeah, sure.” I replied, forking out the container and putting it in the sink.

“Don’t keep your friend waiting.” She admonished softly.

“I won’t.” I grinned.

“Oh HELL no! What the fuck was that even!” I cried.

“And you thought I was wasting time completing that artefact set.” Ume drawled, her eye fixed on the screen.

“I’ve got five levels on you… that’s just… And of COURSE that’s a full heal for fucking nothing. That’s OP as shit.” I lamented as my character’s death animation played again.

“I-I didn’t mean to upset you.” Ume whimpered, her appendant eyes studying me furtively.

“Nah, I’m just a sore loser. Good game Ume.” I admitted, patting her hand.

She flinched again at the contact. “W-why do you keep doing that?”

“Doing what?”

“Touching me, asking me about myself… Acting… interested.”

“In you? Why wouldn’t I be?” I asked, puzzled.

“B-because usually boys are afraid of me.” Ume replied, her voice barely a whisper.

I put the controller down. “Ume, look at me.”

“I am looking at you.”

“With your other eye.”

The gazer reluctantly set the controller down and turned her head to face me. Slowly, deliberately, I took her hands in my own. They were soft, small, delicate.

“I’m from the Land of the Rainbow Serpent. The Aborigines claim that she carved out a river on her way to the sea, she was so big. And now she’s real. In Australia we have snakes and spiders that could kill you eighteen ways from Sunday, and that’s BEFORE there were Mamono versions.” I raised my hand to cup her cheek. “I can see nothing, NOTHING here to be afraid of.”

Ume’s eye almost glowed in the dim light of my room. My mind was yelling at me…

…I leaned in and softly pressed my lips to hers.

She seemed almost shocked, her body shaking, dim sensation of her appendant eye-stalks flailing wildly, then with increasing fervour, she began to return the kiss, sliding her soft arms around my neck, her cyclopean eye closed as we kissed.

“Wait…” She breathed.

“Sorry, too much?” I apologised.

“No… It’s just… I’ve never done that before… Wow…” She giggled.

“Yeah, I figured I’d be the one doing the saving, not rewarding the saviour…” I snickered.

“Don’t be mean.” She admonished, pushing at me, but her eye was still alight with her smile.

“Another game?”

Ume nodded “Sure.”

Chapter 2

“You sure you’re going to be OK walking by yourself?” I asked concernedly.

Ume fixed me with that slight smile again, laughter in her eye. “I’ll be fine David.”

“Well hang on, you’re forgetting something.”

“What’s that?” she asks.

“This.” I reply, pushing the case for Fade Empire 3 into her hands. “Hang onto it for a while.”

“David no, I couldn’t.” Ume objects, trying to give it back.

“Please, I’ve got a helluva backlog as it is, you’d be doing me a favour!” I laugh.

“Well alright… Thank you.” She murmurs.

“You forgot something else…” I venture.

“Oh?” Ume asks, looking puzzled. “I don’t think I brought anyth…”

“This” I interrupt, leaning forward and kissing her again. Her eye widens with surprise, and she gives that cute little giggle again.

“Goodnight David.”

“Yeah… Night Ume.” I reply, watching her walk down the street, her appendant eyes staring coyly back at me until she turns out of sight.

Fall down and worship me, I am the fuckin’ man. I almost swagger back inside, thoroughly pleased with myself.

“Ume’s not staying for dinner then?” My dad ventures as I pull my socks off, not bothering to wear those ridiculous slippers.

“I just met her Dad!” I lament “That’s a bit of an ask.”

“I’m just pulling your leg mate. I’m glad to see you’re making friends.”

“To be honest I kind of just fell into it… Well, apart from Adam. Oh! Yeah, he’s the one who gave me this beaut transla…” I begin, raising my wrist to show dad the translation program.

“David McDavidson!” Takako’s shocked yell rings out.

I freeze. Fuck. Did she find the porn? Please don’t tell me she found the porn…

Her ice-blue eyes are filled with a mixture of anger and concern as she holds out my school shirt from today, the back is covered in dirt and small rips, and there are three distinct claw-tears on the front breast.

Ah. That.

“Care to explain?” She asks evenly, her tail swishing behind her.

“I… got into a fight.” I murmur “I’m sorry about the shirt, you can take it out of my allowance if you wan…”

“With who.”

I blink, shocked at her forcefulness. She’s usually MUCH more reserved.

“Some Dragon. And pardon the bloody cliché, but she started it.” And fuckin’ how did she start it!

“A… Dragon?” My dad asks incredulously.

“Yeh. Wings, scales, tail, pushy.” I reply, “Am… I in trouble here? You guys’re acting a bit odd…”

“Did you win?” Takako asks, still looking at me intensely.

“No… Ume did a Mamono thing, knocked her off me. She seemed to lose interest after that.” I reply, frowning slightly in confusion.

“Did she say anything?”

“What are you after, a bloody blow by blo…”

“Answer your mother.” My dad barked.

“Orright orright, Jesus tapdancing Christ… She said something like ‘I don’t want it any more, it’s got Gazer on it.’ Which didn’t make any sense because Ume’s not even slimy or anyth…”

Takako sighed heavily, stepping towards me and taking me in her arms “Thank Maou you’re alright.” She murmured.

“You took a big risk there, Son.” Dad chides.

“Alright… I had the fight but I think I have the least bloody idea what’s going on here.” I retort in confusion.

Takako released her embrace, holding me at arm’s length. “The Tatsuyokai… The Dragons… They’re a pretty powerful faction in Zipangu politics. If you’d bloodied up someone important’s little princess your father and I would have had some quick work to do to avoid retaliation.”

“Or worse, if she’d taken a liking to you, I’d be fitting bars to the windows.” Dad chuckled.

“Brian, this is no laughing matter!” Takako chided.

“Sorry love, but you know it’s true.” Dad replied, gripping my shoulder. “Come on, dinner’s gonna get cold.”

“Mmff. Love this is amazing.” Dad gushed around a mouthful of food.

“Ara Ara~ you’re too sweet Brian… Do you like it David-kun?”

“Can’t talk. Eating.” I grunt, pretending to shovel my mouth full before giving Takako a grin. “Yeah Mum, it’s great.”

Her answering smile is like the sun coming up.

“Thanks mate.” My dad murmurs, a soft smile on his face. “So what’s this thing you want to show me?”

“Oh, here. Met a guy called Adam from the States in class. He gave me this translator.” I reply, pulling my wrist up eagerly to show dad the program.

“Hora, no computers at the table!” Takako chides.

“Sorry.” Dad and I both answer simultaneously. I palm the screen lock, pulling my sleeve back over it.

“What’s the processing delay like?” Dad asks, clearly interested.

“Milliseconds. Teacher sounded like she was a bit drunk through my earpiece but that’s no big deal, we managed to understand Miss Rockbiter back home well enough.”

“You did at that.” Dad laughed “Bitch on the battery?”

“Language!” Takako chides

“Sorry love.”

“Honestly between the two of you…”

“We can’t get away with blaming cultural influences?” I asked cheekily. Takako fixed me with a level stare.

“Guess not.” I concede, turning back to dad. “Oddly no. Well, no more than the music player, it is streaming to my earpiece after all.”

“Huh. Published?”

“Don’t think so, Adam had to peer it to me.”

Dad nodded “See if you can find out if he knows the author. A translator that efficient could save me hours of work a week.”

“I can just peer it to you dad, no need to get the guy to reinvent the wheel.” I reply

“And you really should be working on your Zipangan anyway.” Takako added, “You’re not going to make very good in-roads with diplomats with your eyes on your wrist the entire time.”

“Nono, you’ve both got me wrong. Think about how much useless duplication we’ve got at the moment. If we had someone who could integrate a translation algorithm that’s intuitive enough that it can real-time speech without putting a PC’s processor through the shi… er, through the wringer.” Dad quickly corrected himself “Then we’ll effectively be doubling productivity.”

“Guy better know how to negotiate a contract.” I snickered.

“Honestly mate, he could write any number down he wanted for the work and I’d pay it. I tell the Tanukis in accounting ‘100% productivity increase’ and they’ll be begging to lick…” Dad paused as Takako cleared her throat pointedly. “Er… Begging to… Oh hell, I don’t even have a non-filthy analogy for how grateful they’d be. You get the idea.”

“Yeah” I snicker as Takako rolls her eyes helplessly.

“Give me a hand clearing up Dave?” Dad asks.

“Sure Dad.” I reply, grunting slightly as I stand from the low table around which we had been sitting.

“It’s alright.” Takako objected “I’ll take care of it.”

“No love, you cooked, we clean, that’s one Australian thing I’ll insist on keeping.” Dad retorted gently.

Takako conceded, smiling her thanks.

“We’re being horribly sexist assuming it’s a bloke, you know.” I jest, following dad into the kitchen.

“Are you setting me up for another Intel bankruptcy joke?” He chuckles, setting the dishes down and throwing a tea-towel at me. “My inbox is full of pisstakes of that ridiculous ‘Chapter 11 is Misogyny’ spot they let air the other week.”

“Well you just took the bloody fun out of it, cheers for that.” I grumble in mock irritation. “Could be a Mamono though.”

“Nah, they don’t do so well with technology for some reason.” Dad replies, shutting off the water and sliding the first of the dishes below the suds.

“Neither do half the people anywhere, ‘swhy IT departments are still a thing!” I retort

“Yeh nah, Mamono are a whole different level of technophobic. It’s like there’s a part of their brain that just refuses to connect when it comes to anything related to tech.”

“Hora, I heard that!” Takako’s voice came from the lounge.

“You can yell at me about it when you can install a patch on your tablet without going to pieces love.” Dad cried in response
A wordless growl was his only reply.

“You’re in trouble.” I jest.

“Probably, but she gets upset when she’s got nothing to try and bully me over. There’s still a lot of the fox in her and sometimes I think she misses the play-fighting.”

“She’s complicated, isn’t she?”

“Yeah… Part of what attracted me to her after… well… After your mum.”

“Yeah.” I muse, the heaviness back in my guts at the memory.

“Sorry mate, I didn’t mean to bring it up.” Dad apologises

“S’orright… We can’t keep dodging around it forever.” I reply. “Besides, we’ve got Takako now, right?”

Dad chuckles. “Sometimes I forget how much you’ve grown mate. Sixteen already… I’m proud of you, son.”

“C’mon dad…” I murmur, a flush of embarrassment rising to my face.

We did the dishes in silence for a little while.

“Hey Dad?”

“Yeah Dave?”

“I was wondering about girls.”

Dad pauses, a wry grin on his face. “Didn’t we already have that discussion a few years back?”

“Oh very bloody funny.” I remark, rolling my eyes. “No, I mean Human girls, I haven’t seen more than a handful since we got here.”

“Ah. That’s… a touchy one.” Dad replies reluctantly.

“It’s true isn’t it? What the Ilians are saying about Mamono, that they turn women into… them.”

“It’s a little more complicated than that…” My dad begins delicately.

“Nah dad, they either do or they don’t. Adam said a bloke got ‘alped’ last year… Didn’t just end up a monster, it frankenfurtered the poor bugger.”

“And that’s another matter entirely.” Dad sighed, pausing again for a moment. “It’s not at all what those bloody cultists claim. Mamono don’t go out looking for converts, they breed well enough on their own.”

“Yeah, with human men.”

“Irrelevant, and when did you become a bloody neophyte of the Order?” Dad asked, elbowing me slightly.

“I’m not, it’s just…”

“If there’s one thing you think you can rely on, it’s going to bed and waking up the same species as before, eh?”

I nod. “Something like that, yeh.”

Dad sighs again. “It’s easier to say the whole claim’s propaganda than to try and explain the intricacies… Long story short, when it comes to women, it’s because they want it.”

“Eh?”

“You heard me. They fall in love, or they covet what the Mamono are, or have, or can do. Somewhere in their hearts, a little voice says ‘I want to be like you.’ Mamono’s… Abilities largely focus around emotion. Something in that little voice grabs at the power, and draws it in.”

I look skeptically at dad. “That’s pretty vague.”

“I’m not a sodding magician son, hell, I’m not even sure there ARE any humans who can understand the process, not really. The best I can do is allegory and metaphor.”

I nod slightly. “And Alps?”

“That’s even more complicated. Firstly, a guy who ‘gets alped’ to coin the vernacular, has to already have an attraction to men.”
“So it’s just gay guys?”

“Not even that. Gays can like men but also like BEING men. Alp candidates somewhere, deep inside, want to be a girl.”

“So trannies then?”

“No, Gender Dysmorphia isn’t a factor, in fact lots who have it, or claim to, and go looking to become an alp, the process doesn’t… stick. Bloody hell this is hard to explain… it’s magic…”

“…You don’t gotta explain shit.” I finish with a drawl, holding up my hands to the sides of my shoulders.

“Huh? Oh!” Dad chuckles, getting the reference. “Christ, that was old when I was about your age. Is that still around?”

“The ‘net never forgets.”

“Heh. True. Good talk son.”

“Yeah. Cheers Dad, and thanks for being straight up with me about it.” I say sincerely.

Dad grips my shoulder again. “Least I could do after… y’know… with Takako.”

“No worries.” I grin.

Shrill sound of my alarm.

Guuuuurgh… nope nope nope…

I stagger out of bed still half-asleep and into the bathroom, stripping off and standing under the water of the shower. It’s one of these Zipangu bathrooms where the shower’s separate to the bath, sort of just sticking out of the wall and emptying out onto the tiled floor. You’re supposed to rinse off before you get into the bath… Which is full… Strange… Why is the bath full at this time of the morni…

“Ara Ara~ You really should knock first, David-kun.” Takako’s voice chides softly. A milky leg comes into my field of vision as she shifts herself in the tub.

“ShitI’msorryIdidn’tseeanythingI’llgetoutnowI’msorryohgoddammit!” I stammer, clasping a hand over my crotch and grabbing frantically for a towel with the other.

“It’s alright David-kun, we’re family after all.” She says with a slight chuckle.

No it is bloody well not alright.

“Still, you’re right, I should have knocked”

“Well you know for next time. Are you having a bath?”

Goddammit woman…

“No, er, thanks, I’m good. I’m done. Um… Bye.”

I wrap the towel around me and walk with as much dignity as I can scrounge to the door. Turning as I close it, I can see Takako’s dripping form standing under the showerhead I just vacated, luxuriating under the hot water… Sleek… curvy… her wet tail streaming water ending at rounded buttocks you could bounce a goddamn coin off…

A problem is arising.

Don’t you fucking dare you sick motherfucker that’s my goddamn stepmother and she’s mamono she can probably smell you oh fuck Dave flee flee for your life.

I shut the door and scramble back to my room, jerking my pants on roughly over the confused beginnings of my erection.

“What a great fucking start.” I snarl at nothing in particular.

“David-kun, don’t forget your lunch!” Takako calls sweetly from the door.

“Er, yeah, thanks mum.” I reply “And sorry again about… earlier.”

“Eh? What happened earlier?” My dad asks, stepping around the side of the house.

Please don’t tell him please don’t tell him…

“Oh David accidentally walked in on me in the bath.” Takako says without hesitating.

Fuuuuuuuuuuck.

Dad looks at my no doubt woebegone expression for a moment before bursting out laughing. “Culture shock eh Dave?”

“Something like that.” I reply, feeling slightly relieved. What was I expecting him to say? Fuck. I have no idea.

“Have a good day mate.” He chuckled, shaking his head slightly.

I wave, heading up the road towards the school. Ahead of me, the catgirl from yesterday is stammering apologies and helping up a dark-headed boy who she has clearly just bowled over in her rush to school.

Is that her hunting method?

That poor doomed bastard…

I snicker, my mood somewhat improved from the schadenfreude. As I walk through the gates, a group of Mamono point at me and rush over.

“Hey! Are you the guy who got into a fight with Emiko-senpai yesterday?” A Kitsune at their fore asks breathlessly.

“Er, yeah, if you mean that Dragon. She never introduced herself come to think of it.” I reply, slightly taken aback.

The girls squeal and giggle, chattering amongst themselves.

“I hear he almost beat her!”

“I hear he turned her down!”

“No stupid, that gazer jumped him!”

“He’s kind of kawaii though…”

Aaand I am not hanging around for the rest of this. As if answered by divine portent, I spot Ume walking alone towards the school.

“Hey Ume!” I call, walking towards her. One of her appendant eyes snaps around, widening in recognition. She turns her head to face me, her cyclopean eye unreadable.

“Oh, Hi.”

“So… Did you play much more last night?” I ask.

“Not really.”

“Oh. Um…” Nice work you silver tongued fuck.

“I have to get to class.” She says simply.

“Oh. Yeah. Me too, I guess. See you around?” I ask lamely

“Sure.” She replies, turning and walking away, her appendant eyes staring dully at nothing much in particular.

Fuck… Wonder what I fucked up there? Apart from the metric shitload of spaghetti currently metaphorically cooling on the pavement.

My slight increase in mood dampened, I head to class. Emiko spots me entering, and makes a point to pretend I don’t exist. I return the favour, no sense repeating past mistakes. Adam turns to me as I sit down.

“Little bird tells me y’all took the gazer home last night.” He murmurs.

“What of it?” I reply, probably a little more surly than I indend.

“Woah, don’t bite my head off bro.” He exclaims.

“Sorry, bit of a shit morning. Yeah, Ume came back to mine.” I admit.

“And did you…”

“Did I jump the girl I just met who just pulled my nuts out of the proverbial fire… Wait, can Dragons breathe fire?”

“Not until they’re fully grown, and don’t be changin’ the subject, did you?”

“No.”

“Awww, damn son. Too bad. Still, probably for the best.”

“Why’s that?” I ask, not sure if I want to hear the answer.

“Gazers are trouble bro. They’re dangerous.”

“So are most mamono.” I reply.

“S’why I’m dating a Holstaur man. Cozy as fuck and minimal chance of accidental death.” Adam drawls with a grin. “But seriously, Gazers got a rep. They get… mean.”

“Huh.” I grunt, musing on Ume’s behaviour that morning. Could that be it? She’s really just a cold bitch and the shy-girl act the night before just an act to get at me?

“David-san…” Comes the voice of Mrs. Seilar.

“Yes Ma’am?”

“The principal would like to see you in her office.” The lamia offers with a slight smile.

Well fuck, the world does not like me today.

“You asked to see me, Ma’am?” I offer, sticking my head through the door.

“Ah yes, please, come in.” A female voice replies.

I enter, getting my first real look at the principal. Her hair is golden, a pair of foxlike ears protruding upwards from the side of her head. She’s… different from the other kitsune somehow though.

“Glad to meet you in person, Mr. McDavidson” she says evenly, standing, nine soft, bushy tails fanning out behind her.

Oh fuck.

Nine tails.

That is a fucking Inari.

I fight the urge not to grovel as her presence hits me.

“I received a disturbing report about a… disagreement you had with another student yesterday afternoon.” She muses, still in that deceptively even tone.

“Yeh, Sorry about that, I didn’t realize Dragons were so… Touchy.” Fucking mad cunts, more like.

“And I understand you rejected her advances.”

“Those were advances?” I snort incredulously.

“Yes… Which is what makes this so… interesting.” She muses, tapping a long, elegant finger against pursed lips.

“I… Don’t think I quite get what’s goin’ on here Ma’am.” I offer confusedly.

“Oh. We’ll see about that. Strip.” She orders.

“You fucking what?” I gasp.

“Mind your language with me, young man!” She barks imperiously, her eyes flashing. “Now do as I say”

“I really don’t understand…” I reply lamely.

“Take. Your. Clothes. Off. Do you understand now?” the principal demands, her eyes intensely boring into my own.

My hands are moving on their own, removing the clothes from my body as if they belong to someone else. Before long I’m standing naked before her, unable to even conceal my dignity as she studies me.

“Turn around.”

I do so, shame stinging in my eyes.

“Well.” She breathes, tracing an elegant hand briefly along my shoulderblades. “Not bad. But fortunately for you, you don’t have it. You may dress yourself.”

“Have what?” I demand, hurrying back into my clothes.

“A mark of The Order.”

“You think… You think I’m Ilian?!” I exclaim in vicious disbelief.

“It was an accusation brought forward by certain parties. They trusted me to discover the truth one way or another.” She replies nonchalantly.

“Fuck you.” I snarl.

Her eyes flash with fury. “You little…”

“No!” I roar. “The Ilians ruined my goddamn LIFE! And you’ve got the gall to bring me in here and VIOLATE my fuckin’ person like this, accusing me of being on their side?”

She looks taken aback. “I… Wasn’t aware. I’m sorry if this has been uncomfortable for you. But we are in a delicate situation here in Zipangu… Much like you, I would imagine.” That last remark pointed… Fuck, she knew Dad’s situation. Don’t know how she knew, but she may as well have fucking painted it on the wall.

I grit my teeth. “I was… brash. Forgive me.” I apologize with a bow.

“I accept your apology, but do try and keep hold of your temper in future.” The Principal offered graciously. “You’re an interesting young man, Mr. McDavidson. I hope we have the opportunity to become better acquainted when you’ve… matured a little.”

The look on her face was openly lascivious. Nope nope nope the fuck out of there.

I bow again, hurrying as fast as I could back to class.

“…be sure to have those chapters well-read for tomorrow’s test.” Mrs. Seilar remarks. “Ah, David-san. Welcome back. Just in time for lunch.” She says with a smirk, turning and slithering from the class as the bell sounds. I sit in my chair, my mind swirling with disbelief. I spot a note scrawled on my notebook.

“Test tomorrow, will copy my notes for you. Having lunch with Laina. –Adam” It reads.

My fucking nigga.

I grab my bag and head out of the classroom. Fuck eating in there. I spot a sign atop the stairs. “Roof Access.”

It’s a good spot to sulk in the cartoons, why the fuck not?

I head up the stairs, opening the door. Not locked, fuck yeah. A familiar shape is sitting by the cyclone fencing which surrounds the roof.

“Hi Ume.” I offer, walking over to her.

“Oh. Hey.” She replies dully.

“Did I… do something to upset you?” I ask incredulously.

“No.”

“Then why the cold shoulder?”

“It’s nothing.” She replies shortly, not looking at me, not even with her appendant eyes.

“Uh huh…” I reply. Fuck this headgame shit. “Heard a funny thing this morning. Got told Gazers were dangerous, and that’s why you’re alone all the time. Any truth to that?” I drawl, allowing a hint of venom into my voice.

An empty drink bottle is rolling aimlessly in the light breeze. An appendant tentacle whips around, focusing on the bottle. A beam of… Something… launches from its centre. I want to say ‘dark light’, but this was like the antithesis of light, complete and utter darkness. The bottle appears for a moment in negative, before it is gone.

“Yes.” She spits.

“Crikey.” I mutter, my eyes wide.

A soft sound is intruding.

Ume is crying.

“Hey… hey… I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be mean about it.” I offer in a conciliating murmur, kneeling down next to her.

“G-go away. You’re j-just like everyone else!” She sobs.

“You’ve been stonewalling me all morning, and I’m the one who’s like the rest?” I reply

“I’m not s-stupid! I know what they say about me! Just wait for the Gazer to snap… Wonder who she’ll end up killing… weird loner girl…” She retorts shakingly.

“So… Why play to the stereotype then?”

“Do you think I WANT to live like this?” She cries, turning her cyclopean eye, flowing with tears to regard me incredulously. “Don’t you think I want to laugh with my friends? To see the world in daylight? To be happy? To go out on dates with my boyfriend?”

“You’ve got a boyfriend then?” I ask.

“Well… N-no” She retorts.

“Want one?” I murmur, moving closer to her.

“W-what?”

“Do you want to be my girlfriend?” I ask with a grin.

“I d-didn’t think you were serious…” She murmurs.

I give a bark of disbelieving laughter, “Ume, I kissed you. Twice. What made you think I wasn’t keen?”

“You didn’t give me your e-mail…”

Dafuq.

“That’s a thing?” I exclaim incredulously.

“Well… yeah.” She replies, wiping her eye.

Sighing, I tap at my wrist, and I hear a beeping as a message is received on her device.

“There. Now. Do you want to be my girlfriend?”

“O-okay.” She says with a slight smile.

“Great.” I say, taking her face in my hands and kissing her.

“Oh, Ume?”

“Yeah?”

“That.” I gush, pointing at the void where the bottle once was. “Was fucken noice.”

Chapter 3

“A-a little to the left, David…” Ume murmured.

“Here?”

“Yeah, that’s perfect…” She said, smiling up at me, her eye nearly luminescent in the darkness.

“Shall I put it in now?” I asked in a hushed voice

“I think so…” Ume nodded

“Alright.” I murmured, pushing downwards.

“Oww!” She squealed.

“Sorry! Are you OK?”

“Yeah.” She smiled, “I’m good.”

I stood up, wiping the thin sweat of concentration from my brow. “Bugger me. I didn’t think putting a telescope together was going to be such hard work!”

“Yeah, it’s not the easiest thing in the world. I don’t know how Dad does it so quickly on his own.” She agreed, sucking her delicate little hand slightly where the insert had pinched her. I looked to where a wild-haired man had set up a larger unit and was frantically alternating between looking into it and muttering to himself, scribbling spiderlike on a notepad.

“What’s he doing?” I murmur

“Chasing his whale.” Ume replied softly

I raise an eyebrow in confusion “Come again?”

“Have you seen the news lately?”

“Ohhh… Is this about meteors knockin’ those GPS satellites for six?”

Ume giggles “Sometimes you are absolutely adorable.”

“Er, thanks?” I mutter. The hell did I say?

Ume stands on her tiptoes, sneaking a furtive kiss. “But yes. It’s about that… Well, sort of. Dad thinks they’re flying saucers and he’s trying to prove it.”

“UFOs, dear girl. UFOs, and please refrain from canoodling over there.” Ume’s dad interjects. “You, boy. Come here and look.”

“Er, It’s Dave, sir.” I remind him.

“Yes yes of course” he waves dismissively, “Come look.”

I walk over, putting my head to the eyepiece.

“Do you see it?”

A bright, moving dot took up the centre of the lens.

“Yeah.”

“And what’s it doing?”

“Buggered if I know… Looks like it’s drunk!” I drawl in jest, goddammit I will get a laugh out of this high-strung prick if it kills me. Dad’s approval means trust, trust means unsupervised time with Ume…

…I’m sure you see where I’m going with this.

“Precisely my boy!” He crows, slapping me on the back with a bony hand. “Erratic movement within the gravity well of a planetary body! It shouldn’t be possible! But there it is!”

“I’ve seen meteors… they ain’t exactly aerodynamic. Shouldn’t it be standard for them to tumble a bit?” I ask.

Ume’s dad splutters “But of course boy! Rotation will occur naturally, but what you’re seeing isn’t just rotation! Think of it like doing a cartwheel and ending up fifty feet in the air halfway through.”

“Oh yeh?” I exclaim, suddenly interested. “What’s causing that then?”

“Well my current theory is the density of the object combined with a strong magnetic blahblahblah…” The astrophysics suddenly goes well above a sixteen year old’s paygrade.

“When was the last time you calibrated your lens though Dad?” Ume interrupts.

“Well it was…” the man pauses, his eyes widening “Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear! Those readings are crucial! Leave me be you two, go play or something.” He waves dismissively, frantically unscrewing the base of the telescope.

“He doesn’t strike me as the kinda guy who wouldn’t do that on the regular, Ume.” I mention as we walk back to her smaller telescope.

“He isn’t, he calibrated it before we left.” Ume replies with a smug grin.

“Then why would you make him bloody doubt himself like that?” I ask, shocked.

“Because I am NOT going to have my boyfriend stolen by my Dad when we’re on a date.” She declares insistently.

“Oh they were right. Gazers are cruel…” I drawl mockingly.

“Sometimes…” Ume giggles, putting her arms around my neck and kissing me thoroughly.

Unfortunately, Ume’s dad was a minor savant when it came to telescopes, and had it set back up in no time, limiting us to one questionably satisfying make out session that night. We did end up doing some stargazing, and I acted suitably impressed by all the various brightly coloured dots Ume pointed out.

I also found out that ‘Uranus’ jokes don’t really work so well in Zipangan. I was a bit bloody disappointed at that.

We packed down insultingly quick, considering how much effort we went to in order to set the bastard thing up. Ume dragged me into the back seat on the excuse of ‘Showing David some star charts,’ which lasted for about thirty seconds before she was cuddled into my shoulder. Her father’s small, bright eyes were watching me like a bird of prey, so I wisely kept my hands in sight.

Farewell was a chaste peck on the cheek from Ume and what I thought were effuse thanks from me to Ume’s dad, which he seemed to take graciously, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that he was looking at me like some kind of insect… one he was deciding whether to pin to a board or step on outright.

“Ow! Bugger!” I curse as I smack my toe into the slight step leading from the door to the house proper.

“David-kun, is that you?” Takako’s soft voice floats down the hallway.

“Yeh mum, sorry I’m so late, I’m pretty sure Ume’s dad is part machine.” I murmur apologetically.

The pale figure of Takako appears in the hallway, clad only in a brief chemise.

“Oh Jesus mum!” I blurt, averting my eyes.

“Oh! Whoops!” The Kitsune gasps, realizing what she is wearing.

“Ahhhh!” A satisfied sigh drifts from the kitchen. “Refueled, re-armed, and ready for round four.” My dad mutters, strolling up behind Takako and nuzzling into her neck… Stark naked with an OH SWEET ZOMBIE CHRIST there is not enough eye bleach!

“Uh… dear…” Takako murmurs sheepishly

“Whazza… Oh… Hi Dave.” Dad replies lamely, seeing me standing frozen in what I sincerely hope looks like bloody traumatized shock on the landing.

“AUSTRALIANS ALL LET US REJOICE FOR WE ARE YOUNG AND FREE!” I start singing loudly, marching pointedly up the stairs to my room.

“Shhhh Dave! The Neighbours!” Dad hisses

“I’VE SEEN SOME SHIT AND NOW I’LL SPEND THE YEAR IN THERAPY!” I continue to the tune of ‘Advance Australia Fair’.

“Langua…” I hear Takako begin before I slam the door behind me.

My PC vibrates against my wrist. I pull up the notification. Message from Ume.

“Thanks 4 a gr8 nite.”

“Thank YOU. I had a blast hanging out with you.” I reply. Slight exaggeration but fuck me, youse all know how the game’s played.

1 image received

Oh please oh please oh please…

Ume’s cyclopean eye, glowing slightly, dominates the frame, framed by the raven-black of her fringe, her appendant eyes looking over her shoulders towards the camera. She’s smiling cutely, her bottom lip caught between her teeth. Shadows begin to hide what is… definitely cleavage held in naught but a lacy bra.

Fuck yeah! Fuckin’ saved.

“So mean…” I reply. “…I don’t know how I’m going to sleep tonight after seeing something that irresistible.”

“LOL <3” comes the response.

A few more cutesy messages back and forth before I realize we’re both just killing time trying to tease each other. We wish each other sweet dreams and I pull the PC off my wrist, setting it in its charger. Pulling the covers over myself, I set to scrubbing my brain of the image of Dad and Takako canoodling in the hallway.

Heh… Canoodling… What century is Ume’s dad from anyw…

The last conscious thought before dreamless sleep overtakes me.

“Saturday fuck yeah…” I mumble into my pillow, rolling over and away from the insistent sunlight which is streaming through my window.

Sleep in, population Dave.

My stomach grumbles.

Shut up. For the glory of cozy snooze time, you prick.

My stomach grumbles again.

“Traitorous cunt.” I mutter, swinging my feet out of bed and hunting for some trackpants. Padding down the stairs, I go into the kitchen. ‘0930AM’ is displayed on the oven.

No breakfast… Hmmm… I check the fridge. Nope, didn’t miss it… There’s not even a pot of coffee on… If they were up all night shagging…

Nope nope nope bad images, by fire be purged!

A sound from the lounge room. The TV’s on.

“Hey, what’s a bloke gotta do to get some breakfast up in this…” I drawl cheekily, walking into the lounge.

“Shhhh!” My dad hisses insistently, waving a hand at me, his eyes glued to the TV.

“…News now coming from the Vatican, where Pope Innocent XV has just ratified the acknowledgement. In a historic development, the Catholic church has renounced the worship of Jesus Christ, and dedicated itself to the worship of Ilias.”

Image of a silver haired man kneeling before a black-uniformed Order officer, kissing his hand and accepting a chain about his neck from which hung the winged emblem of Ilias.

Image changes to a church… somewhere, the writing was Zipangan and gone before I could translate it. A middle aged human woman crying, yelling something unintelligible, other men and women behind her watching in horror as the metal cross is removed from the church roof, to be replaced with the Ilian iconography.

“This momentous decision has sent shockwaves through the Christian faith. Anglican and Lutheran leaders are discussing a joint council to investigate the legitimacy of the Holy See’s declaration. Numerous independent Baptist congregations throughout the United States have issued open invitations for Catholics to ‘Cast aside the Whore Ilias and return to Chri…”

Dad shuts off the TV. His jaw clenched. His eyes wide and furious.

“Hey… you alright there dad?” I venture

“Those boy-buggering CUCKS!” dad roars. “Fucking shifty silk wearing faggot fucking CUCKS!”

“Brian!” Takako gasps, taken aback by his furious outburst.

“WHAT?” Dad snarls. Takako recoils in terror.

Dad swears again, stalking out the back. I hear the noise of a shovel blade striking the earth.

Takako bursts out weeping, I walk over and put my arms around her. “He didn’t mean to yell at you mum. It’s OK.”

“Oh David-kun! I’ve never s-seen him like this! I d-don’t know what to do!” She sobs, clinging to my t-shirt.

“I have… Just after…” the words catch in my throat

“Her?” Takako suggests delicately

“Yeah.” I nod. “Don’t worry, I’ll sort it out.” I assure her, patting her on the hand gently and extricating myself from her grip.

I walk out the back, breathing deeply. He’s your old man, he’s not going to take a swing at you.

And what if he does?

Fucking stop it, he’s not even mad at you.

Dad is hacking at the ground, tossing dirt in a pile over his left shoulder.

“I’m sixteen and I can’t get away with doin’ my quince like that Dad.” I chide softly when I’m sure he’s noticed me.

“Bugger off Dave. I’m fuckin’ snakey right now.” He snarls.

“I noticed. You didn’t need to yell at mum about it though.”

“Your mother is dead!” He spits.

“Yeah. And you’ve got a Kitsune in there who loves the both of us just as fucking much as if she were her fucking reincarnation.” I hiss, jabbing a finger back at the house and ignoring the sting of his words. “And she doesn’t deserve to have it aimed at her, dad!”

Dad pauses, straightening. “Shit… You’re right. I was a bit of a cunt there, eh?”

“If our situations were reversed you’d be taking a belt to me right now.” I reply seriously. “What the hell brought that on? We’re not micks, hell, we don’t even go to church but Easter and Chrissie.”

Dad took a deep breath. “It’s not the faith… It’s the bloody history. Two thousand years, give or take. Two thousand years of history, tradition, advancement… The Catholics didn’t make western civilization on their own but they certainly lent a sizeable bloody hand to it! And now just like that. Bam. Gone. Those Hypocritical Order CUNTS have the flamin’ audacity to claim to stand for Humanity, and they’ve just taken a hacksaw to two millennia of human history.”

“Yeah, they’re fuckheads, no argument, but you laughed when they razed Mecca to sea level.” I interject. “What’s really bugging you?”

“Islam’s distilled and unrepentant barbarism, you know my stance on that. But at least the muzzies FOUGHT it. Hell, you’re still getting downy cheeked muds strapping C4 to themselves and doing runs at Order encampments in Lebanon and shit.” Dad gesticulated with the shovel, trying to find his point.

“You reckon we oughta start seeing that in the west then?” I replied

“Fuck no mate… But the micks are sitting on one of the richest single organizations in the world, and they just… gave it up.” Dad gave a gallows sigh, planting the shovel’s blade in the ground. “If the fuckin wingalings had been forced to sack Vatican City, had dragged Pope Innocent out onto the street and put a round in the back of his skull, I’d have understood. But they just gave it up. Like everyone who sacrificed all they had for the hope of a better world, from Christ to your mum… didn’t even matter…”

“You alright now?” I asked.

“Yeah mate. Reckon I oughta go inside and apologise to your mother.” Dad replied with a guilty grin.

“I-it’s alright.” A small voice came from behind us. Both of us turned in surprise to see Takako standing there, her ears drooping slightly. “I-I know I’ll never be who she was to you, Brian…”

“No, Takako, love….” Dad gushed, taking her in his arms. “I loved Wendy, and I buried her, and I grieved… and then I moved on. I’m not going to have you competing with a ghost.”

Takako’s heart was in her eyes, and she kissed my dad tenderly. I coughed with embarrassment.

“I’m just gonna go… Not here… Okay. Good talk.” I muttered to nobody in particular, leaving my father and step-mother wrapped up in the bliss of each other on the back lawn.

In retrospect I should have turned the bloody retic on them.

“So’s Ume gonna meet us out?” Adam asked, taking a bite of the fried thing-on-a-stick as we walked through the stall-lined street.

“Nah, she says she’s helping her mum today and… nevermind.”

Adam raised an eyebrow “Y’all are holding out on me… Don’t tell me you…”

“No. She was just being cute and it’s… personal.” I explain uncomfortably “What about Laina?”

Adam sighs, “Actually I didn’t invite her.”

I blink in surprise. “Everything orright mate? You guys on the rocks or something?”

“No, not at all… The opposite in fact.” Adam takes a deep breath. “I think she wants to… y’know.”

“What, meet your parents?”

Adam stares at me nonplussed. “No dumbshit, my parents love her… C’mon, don’t make me spell it out… She wants to… Go all the way?”

“Noice.” I grin “So what’s the problem?”

“What if I fuck it up?”

“Bring more than one condom.”

“What if I’m… bad?”

“She’s got liquid cheat mode just sitting in those bountiful norks, mate.” I snicker.

“That’s my girlfriend son!” Adam exclaims. “Wait, you mean her milk?”

“Yeah mate, I’ve heard it turns even the biggest one-pump-chump into a fuckin satyr.” I reply, taking a sip of my drink and looking pointedly at him over the straw as he processes it.

“Aw hell, Isn’t that… a little weird?” Adam asked. I stare at him for a moment before bursting out laughing.

“I don’t see what’s so funny man.” Adam retorts with injury in his voice. I raise a hand, pointing at a bottle on a nearby display shelf.
“Unless my Zipangan is worse than I think it is, which would make Mrs. Seilar a really easy marker considering I beat you on that last test, that says ‘with real holst-milk extract’, right?”

“Yeah… so?”

“So if Holstaur are willing to SELL the shit…” I lower my voice “…Why on God’s green earth would she be adverse to giving it to the bloke she’s fucking?”

“Oh yeah…” Adam admitted, comprehension dawning with his smile. “Oh SHIT!” he cries, looking at his wrist. “I gotta get home man. I owe you for lunch, don’t let me forget!”

“You’re good for it mate.” I chuckle, waving briefly.

I turn, strolling along a narrow street I hadn’t been down before. I spot that catgirl again, latched to the arm of that boy she had knocked over a couple weeks previous. He had a bashful smile on his face as he humoured the enamoured neko’s attention. I give the guy a grin, which he returns incomprehendingly.

Yeah, poor doomed fucker has no idea who I am…

My wrist buzzes

“I C U” the message reads. No sender.

“Funny. Who’s this?” I reply

“Come find me…” A screencap of a map.

The direct route was obvious, so we won’t go that way. I slip into the crowd.

Buzz at my wrist “Where’d you go? C’mon, don’t be a pussy…”

I chuckle to myself, two great things about weekend stalls here. One, it’s easy as hell to lose someone if you’re of a mind to. Two, you can locate just about anythi… ah.

I found what I was looking for, and had the stall-keeper put it in a plain brown paper bag for me. Smiling and bowing my thanks, I continued the roundabout route to where the map was leading. Left here, second right, is that a street or an alley? Whoops, yep, that was it.

Blind alley, cliché much?

“Alright then. Whaddaya want?” I said to nobody in particular, holding the bag containing my purchase at the base.

“Clever…” a voice whispered behind me. “I didn’t think you’d come around that way.”

“Well I’m just full of bloody surprises…” I drawl, spinning around and pulling the bag away with one hand, the other holding the chocolates in front of me with a grin. Sure enough, Ume’s cyclopean eye widened with surprise.

“For you, gorgeous.” I chuckle. Ume puts her hands up to her mouth.

“Cherry ripe? I LOVE those!” he squeals, throwing her arms about me and kissing me soundly.

“How did you know it was me though?” She asks, stuffing a chocolate into her mouth.

“Came into my ‘verified’ box, and I don’t got but half a dozen buggers in there.”

“Still, if it hadn’t been…” She pouts

“What, you think someone would have gotten your chocolates? No fear, I’ve got a little something for that too.” I snicker, holding up a palm-sized aerosol.

Ume squints at the tiny can. “What’s that?”

“Finish what’s in your mouth first, Don’t need you choking.” I explain, scanning the ground. Spotting a discarded piece of paper, I pick it up, giving it a tiny spray with the aerosol.

“Now smell this, but carefully. Don’t go sucking it into your face.”

Ume leans forward and inhales delicately. Her eye goes wide, then screws shut, and she begins coughing and gagging.

“Oh… *koff* Maou… *koff koff* What IS that?”

“We call it ‘Canned Fuckoff’ back home. Pretty sure it’s highly illegal here in Zipangu but I for one wasn’t going to take the chance.” I grin “Silver nitrate, Capsaicin, and Vegemite extract. Pretty much an all-in-one punch for any Mamono who feels like getting too proactive.”

Ume rubs her streaming eye, her appendant eyes focused on me. “Why didn’t you use that on Emiko?”

“And get done for assault, end up some Oni’s little plaything in gaol? Nah, this is pretty much for when life or virtue is at risk only.” I snicker.

“Like now?” Ume murmurs sultrily, sliding her arms around me again.

“Well not any more, hehe.” I chuckle

“You’re so sure?”

“What, gonna murder me in a dark alleyway hun?” Ok this was taking a turn for the creepy.

“You said life OR virtue…” She whispers in my ear, catching my earlobe between her teeth.

Knees weak, palms are sweaty… Ume pulls back slightly, giving me a serious look before leaning in and kissing me again.

Nobodycanseeusawwwwwyiss

I reach my hands around her back, sliding them down to her butt. Hey! She’s got like a tail thing back here… Feathers? Fur? Dunno, it’s flat and fluffy and also in my way.

I gently push her tail aside and grab her buttocks in both hands. You know those asses that just sit in your hand like a perfectly weighted… something… fuckit, brain is experiencing a severe lack of bloodflow right now… It’s one of those asses anyway. I squeeze gently, feeling myself grow hard against her as she pushes up against me.

“Well hel-lo…” She drawls softly, moving her mouth to my neck and biting gently. I slide a hand around to her front, cupping at a breast through her clothes and am rewarded with a cute little gasp.

I have never seen a dick used as industrial equipment, but right now you could cut concrete with mine, no word of a lie.

“I want you…” She gasps

THANK YOU JEBUS!

“Back at you…” I groan, sliding my hand down her body, only to have it stopped by hers.

“Not HERE…” She admonishes. “…and not at that skeezy Love Motel down the road either.” She quickly adds, seeing the rapidity of a Human Male’s lateral thinking when fuelled by lust written on my face.

“Where then?” I murmur, reluctantly allowing my hands to be drawn away from their intended targets.

“I don’t know… But I want my first time to be… special.”

Fucking women…

I nod. “I guess I can understand that” I concede with as much graciousness as I can muster. I take her delicate little hand in mine. “Walk you home?” I offer with a grin.

“Why are you walking like that?” Ume asks as we turn the corner towards her house.

“Fucken’ blueballs if I’ve gotta be honest babe.” I wince

Ume looks at me askance

“Well it’s when a guy gets really worked up and then… stops.” I explain. “Gets bloody uncomfortable.”

Ume puts her hands to her mouth in horror “O-oh no! Y-you mean I…”

“Hey. Don’t worry about it.” I murmur. “Just because my dick’s having a tantrum there’s no need to feel guilty about you having some standards.”

“Y-you’re so lewd sometimes.” Ume stammers, blushing.

I chuckle, taking her in my arms and holding her close. “It’s hard to reconcile shy-Ume with that vixen who just accosted me in the alleyway.”

Ume looks at me with her big, glowing eye. “It’s your fault, you know…”

“How d’you figure?”

“I have friends now, David. Real friends. I never thought I’d ever have that, and I never would have if you hadn’t been there to give me a push…” She blushes slightly “…And I’ve got you.”

“Damn right.” I bluster, but my heart’s melting… Shit… I didn’t do anything special, and yet Ume’s lookin at me like I’m some kind of miracle worker…

Fuck, not equipped for this. Quick, change the subject before she makes you feel feelings any more…

“What were you doing in the market anyway? Thought you were out with your mum.”

Ume smiles guiltily ‘I kinda lied to you…”

“Are you stalking me?” I drawl “Because that would be awesome.”

“No Dummy.” She retorts, giving me a playful push. “Laina thought Adam was going around behind her back. He’s been… distant since she told him… well… I’m not sure I’m allowed to say.”

“She wants to make the beast with two backs with the bloke.” I add simply.

“D-don’t just say it like that!” Ume hisses, blushing again. “But… Yes.”

“Tell Laina everything’s fine. Adz wanted to talk to me on exactly that subject. He’s nervous, sure, but I figure she’ll be able to get him past that… ‘talented’ as she is and all.” I snicker, miming sizeable breasts in front of my chest.

“Pervert.” Ume chides.

“Guilty.” I reply, nuzzling into her neck. She giggles, twisting away. We walk quietly for a little while.

“Are you?” She asks hesitantly.

“Am I what?”

“N-nervous… you know… if we were to…” Ume stammers.

“Part of me is, sure.” I admit honestly. “But it’s you hun… I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather share it with.”

“Y-you make it v-very hard to think sometimes David.” Ume stammers, blushing furiously. I put my arms around her again. She is so fucking cute…

On instinct, I run my hand along one of the eyeball-ended tentacles which branches from her back.

“Ahn!” she gasps, clinging to me a little tighter.

“Sorry, bad touch?” I murmur

“N-no… just be gentle, they’re… sensitive.”

Make a fucking note of that! I trace my fingers gently along its length, feeling her almost purr in my arms.

“Y-you’re so mean…” She moans.

“I learn from the best.”

“See you Monday?” She asks with a smile.

“Sure.” I reply, kissing her gently and waving as she walks through the gate leading to her house.

“Cheap!” I yell at the screen as my character’s head seperates from its shoulders.

‘U R having a meltdown aren’t you? :)’ a message pops up in the chatbox.

‘Hope you’re having fun whooping my arse in starter gear adz… enjoy it while you can.’ I reply.

‘I’m done for the night d00d. ttyl.’

‘Yeh night man.’

My wrist vibrates.

1 image received

“Hope this makes up for you missing out this afternoon. <3” the text reads.

I open the image with near shaking hands. Ume is lying prone on the bed, one hand clearly holding the camera at arms length, the other poised with a finger between her teeth, her mouth curved in a coy grin.

She’s also naked as the bloody day she was born. I’m almost drooling as I let my eyes play over her skin, so pale as to be almost white, yet mottled with charcoal near her waist and hips. Her nipples are the same colour as her lips… funny that… because I have the same urge to get my fucking mouth on them. She’s crossing her leg over the other demurely… bloody playboy pose… but still…

“God DAMN Gorgeous 0_0!” I reply.

“Have fun baby… I am. ;)thinkin of u xoxox”

This gazer will be the fuckin’ death of me, I swear to Christ.

Chapter 4

Tinny sound of a laugh track. Man TV just didn’t give a shit anymore, they don’t even attempt to make it sound natural.

I lazily aimed the remote at the set, changing the channel. Bloody hell… Who’s the blondie with the wings?

“Good evening.” The slick presenter began, his accent urbane and posh. “Tonight, it is my distinct and overwhelming privilege… or, dare I say, blessing, to introduce the Goddess Ilias, Sovereign and Rightful Deity of Humanity. Your Radiant Gloriousness, we are insects in your magnificent presence.”

The Winged blonde reclined in the chair opposite gave a demure, crystalline laugh. “Of course, Henry.”

“You have deigned to exalt us with Your Most Holy and Wonderous Self for a very specific reason, I am to understand.”

“That’s right Henry. You see, I’m here tonight to reach out to all of My wayward children, who may still be labouring under the misapprehension that I’m just the deranged fantasy of some violent cult. As you can see, whilst the word ‘Fantasy’ has been used to describe me…” a pause for another perfect crystalline titter “…I am very, very real.”

“That you are, your Perfect Excellence.” Henry grovelled. “And I understand there’s another point which has seized upon your displeasure.”

“Yes Henry. I know that some of you have succumbed to the temptation to… couple with the Mamono.” A look of profound distaste crossed Ilias’s perfect features.

“How Vile!” Henry agreed, “And what should such deviants expect for that behaviour?”

“Oh, They will burn, Henry.” Ilias assured. “And unless they beg My forgiveness and turn from their Sin, They will burn, and burn again in hell.” The deity paused, looking directly at the camera. “And that includes ‘innocent’ little high-school romances like yours, David.”

“The FUCK?!” I exclaim, almost clawing my way over the back of the couch in surprise. “How the fuck is she…”

“How am I talking to you David? Did you miss the part where I’m God?” Ilias interrupted sweetly.

I am shitting broken tiles. My heart’s going a million miles an hour. “G-Get thee behind me S-satan…” I stammer. Ilias erupts in another peal of crystalline laughter.

“Oh David, even if that pathetic revenant of yours was real, remember you have to BELIEVE for it to have any power. And your faith died with your mother, didn’t it?”

“J-Jesus… Please…” I sob, Ilias’s words slicing into me like hot knives.

“Ohhh. Did that one hit home? I’m so sorry…” Her musical voice dripped with smug sarcasm. “…How would your mother feel about what you’re doing right now… Living with your father as he fucks a beast… Calling it ‘mum’… Defiling yourself with a THING…”

“No… God… no…” I gasp, tears starting in my eyes “Please… Help me…”

“Stop praying to a Myth, David!” Ilias demanded. “I am the only one who hears your prayers!” She sits back in the chair, smiling that perfect smile. “I know, why don’t we ask her? Roll the footage please Henry.”

The image changes to a dock, grey bodies lined up along its length, coastguard and police milling about. The camera focuses on a face. Dead, its colour leeched by the sea…

…A face I recognise instantly.

“Fuck you!” I scream “You’ve got no RIGHT!”

The dead eyes open, milky orbs looking right at me.

“How could you Davey?” the corpse whispers, bubbles of seawater spilling out the sides of its mouth “How could you forget about me?”

“Yes, How could you David? Your mother giving her time and effort to making the world a better place, and you and your father abandon her memory by consorting with monsters?”

“No… No, that’s not how it is!” I insist.

“Really? How do you feel about what David is doing, Wendy?”

My mother’s dead lips curl in distaste. “Sick… You’re sick Davey… sick…”

“You see? All I’m showing you is the truth David… But it doesn’t have to be like this…” Ilias insists, appearing next to my mother’s body. “I can make it so it never happened… Swear yourself to me… Kill that beast your father ruts with. Join my Order. I can make all things new.”

I shut my eyes, clamping my hands over my ears. “A-amazing G-grace… H-how sweet the sound…” I sing brokenly.

“I am the Way, The Truth, and the Light, David… Submit to me…” Ilias’s voice cuts directly into my head.

“…T-That S-Saved a wretch like me…”

“Beautiful voice David… I wonder if you’ll sing so well when you’re burning alive…” Ilias drawls.

“SHUT UP! SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!” I howl, my mind a panicked animal dashing itself against the walls of a prison it doesn’t understand.

“Wake up, David-kun…”

“…David-Kun! Please! Wake up!”

Wait, that voice was different…

I open my eyes to see Takako leaning over me, her hands gently shaking my shoulders, her face a picture of loving concern.

“Mum!” I sob, flinging my arms around her.

“Shhh… I’m here… son… I’m here…” She whispers as I sob into her.

I won’t lie, I cried like I’ve never cried before… But the funny thing about crying is, eventually you seem to run out of tears, and all that’s left is this weird emptiness.

“Ara Ara~” Takako muses softly, stroking my hair. “That must have been some nightmare…”

“And bloody half.” I choke. Sniffing, I tell her about the dream. By the time I’m finished I’m crying again.

Guess I still had some left.

“What time is it?” I ask after I’ve settled again.

“About five thirty.”

“Well hell, I’m not getting any more sleep…” I grunt.

“Would you like me to make you some breakfast?”

“Yeah… Thanks Mum.” I smile.

Our warm moment is broken by a horrific sound, one I’ve never heard before and pray to whoever else is out there never to hear again.

My father is screaming.

By the time we’ve gotten Dad woken up and calmed down it’s approaching seven. Our morning begins as usual, all of us taking comfort in the wordless rituals of domesticity.

“The slut had a go at you too?” I ask dad as we both sip coffee, black and acrid.

“Language.” Takako chides, but there’s no real insistence to it, instead it’s like she’s comforting us through the habit.

“Yeah.” Dad murmurs.

“Mum?”

“Yeah.”

“She’s Lying.”

Dad smiles at me. “I know son. But I’m glad you do too.”

“Rough night?” I ask as I pass Adam’s desk, his blond head resting on its surface.

“Y’all don’t know the half of it brother…” Adam groans.

“Oh, I can take a wild stab. Ilias showed up, grabbed you by your sorest bits and gave a good fuckin’ twist?”

Adam raised his head, looking at me incredulously. “How did you…”

“Got me too. What’d you see, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Laina… She was fucking this massive demon thing and cumming like a belt-fed mortar. Between rounds she’d look at me and ask how she could ever be satisfied with a pathetic little human.”

I give an involuntary snort.

“S’not funny son.” Adam growls.

“No mate, it’s not that… You know why they call you ‘big-dog’ in gym class right?”

“Thought it was just a nickname.” Adam replies.

“Well yeah… And it’s also…” I pause “and don’t take this the wrong way because I have zero interest in the matter” I clarify.

“Noted, what is it?” Adam insists.

“You’re hung like a bull mate. The only way Laina isn’t gonna be happy with what you’re packing is if she’s got a damn tree trunk fetish.”

“That’s… A weird thing to say, dude.” Adam remarks with a look of slight distaste.

“Made you feel better though, yeah?”

“Oddly yeah… Thanks man.”

“No charge.” I grin. “You know I can’t help but thinking that chief bitch wingaling fucked up by hitting everyone last night…”

“Chief Bitch Wingaling… You aussies… that’s gold son.” Adam snickers.

“Seriously. That’s you, me and my dad that I know about. I’d put money on us finding out most if not all the humans in school today got hit too.”

“No bet.” Adam agreed.

“Quiet now everyone.” Mrs. Seilar calls from the front of the class. “I have been asked to remind students that the organization known as the Illian Order is considered a terrorist group in Zipangu, and foreign residents who are proven members are subject to immediate deportation.”

Hel-lo… Someone got the wind put up ‘em… Theory’s looking a bit more likely.

The PA chimes, the class looks up at the unassuming speaker insistently.

“Will all Human students please report immediately to the Gymnasium.”

“What do you think’s going on?” A boy asks.

“Do you think it’s got anything to do with the dreams last night?” Another replies.

“Told you.” I grin at Adam. He returns the smile. Somehow it feels better to know everybody’s in the same boat.

“Wow… The Unicorns are here!” A boy murmurs with a slight snicker.

What? Unicorns? Oh… Not literally, it’s the handful of Female Humans who attend the school. They strut into the gymnasium in a tight pack, looking oh-so-superior.

“D’you think someone should clue them in on the fact that they aren’t the only game in town?” I murmur to Adam.

“Naw son, they look impressed enough with themselves as is.” Adam chortles.

I’ll say right now I’m not much of one to be the centre of attention, but the situation seemed just too good to pass up.

“Oi youse lot. Listen up.” I call.

Murmurs as heads turn in my general direction.

“I’m gonna take a stab at youse all having some pretty fucked up dreams last night. Just wanted to say, Chief Bitch Wingaling is a fuckin’ liar. She can’t raise the dead or make your fuckin’ dicks bigger. Nobody’s doing themselves any favours by listening to the slut… That’s… That’s it I guess.”

Shakespeare eat your heart out. What concerns me more than the pasta I’ve metaphorically spilled on the gymnasium floor is the scattered angry mutters I can hear over the general buzz, and a few filthy looks being shot at me by faces here and there.

“Such a… Charming… address Mr. McDavidson” Sounds a musical voice behind me. I turn around to see the Inari Principal standing there, her nine tails fanned elegantly behind her, a look of slight amusement on her unlined face. “And thank you for being our first volunteer. Follow me please.”

I sigh, ignorning the giggles as I pass the other students, entering a small room to the side of the gymnasium.

“Alright Mr. McDavidson, as before…” The Inari drawls lightly. Movement to the sides of me. I turn my head to see two massive Red Oni waiting with folded arms just inside the door.

“Heh. Orright.” I chuckle, beginning to remove my clothes.

“No resistance this time?” The Inari muses with a note of surprise.

“Honestly Ma’am, after what that winged shit did to me last night I’d cartwheel naked up the main drag just to piss on the bitch.” I drawl, dropping my trousers and standing bare before her.

“We can dispense with the Vulgarity, Mr. McDavidson.” The Inari commands.

“Sorry Ma’am… I plead cultural influences.” I grin.

“No doubt. You’re clear. Thank you for your co-operation, and… thank you for your… loyalty.” The last hesitant, and with a note of real gratitude to it.

“Ma’am, I’ve got a thought, and I’m not sure if anyone’s told you yet.” I offer.

“Oh? Please…”

“From the speed at which you’re on this, it’s clear you’re… connected.” I begin.

“In a manner of speaking.” The Inari admits.

“Then lemme pass something along to you, and hopefuly it reaches the right ears. Humanity’s a bit weird. We might complain about being physically weaker than a lot of you, or the fact that youse’ve got magic, or we might bang on about the rap… er, ‘proactive dating’…”
One of the Oni snickers at the euphemism.

“But at the end of the day, we’re designed to overcome that. We’ll look at it as a challenge, we welcome that sort of thing.”

“Are you reaching some kind of point, dear boy?”

“Yeah. One thing youse should never do is try and put a boot on our necks. I get the feeling that the bigwigs, whoever they are, got the wind put up ‘em a bit by this business with Wingalin… er, Ilias, piss on her, and want to step on it before it has a chance to get out of control. I’ll just say. Answer her propaganda with your own, but don’t try and subdue us. We have a bad habit of extinguishing things that try to do that.”

“Is that a threat, Mr. McDavidson?” The Inari asks evenly.

“No Ma’am. A warning. Mamono have welcomed me, a stranger in a strange land, so to speak. I don’t wanna be on the opposite side, they don’t fuckin’ play nice at all.”

“You are a very, very interesting young man.” The Inari muses, patting my cheek with a note of… regret? “And Ume is a very lucky girl.”

“I’d say we’re lucky to have found each other.”

A genuine smile from her at that. “Run along now.”

“Yes Ma’am.” I grin.

“Oh, and Mr. McDavidson?”

I pause, turning my head to her.

“Happy Birthday.”

“You Alright then?”

Adam snorts, “S’nothing son. Had worse with penis inspection day back in the states, at least I didn’t have some hairy-chinned school nurse grabbing at my Junk.”

I blink in surprise. “That’s a THING?!”

“Yeah dude, what, you don’t have it in Australia?”

“Nah mate… not at all…” I muse.

“Don’t change the subject!” Ume demands. “It’s your birthday and you didn’t tell me?”

“To be honest it snuck up on me, what with everything… I’m sorry babe.”

“A-And I didn’t get you anything…” She stammers, looking thoroughly miserable. Suddenly, her head snaps up.

“Laina… can I borrow…”

Laina gives a discontented sigh. “I was going to…”

“B-But it’s his BIRTHDAY.” Ume insists.

“Alright, but you owe me.” The Holstaur replies resignedly, scraping a digitigrade hoof on the pavement in irritation, handing something to the Gazer.

“Thank you!” Ume beams, before grabbing me by the arm.

“Happy Birthday bro!” Adam calls after me with a chuckle as Ume insistently pulls me away.

“So what’s this then?” I ask as she leads me to an unremarkable door.

“You’ll see…” She murmurs, opening the door and pulling me inside. Inside the room are scattered gymnasium mats, a few burned out candles, some assorted jetsam from a forgotten school project. My vision of these items dims as Ume closes and locks the door behind me. Thin red beams arc out from her appendant eyes, setting the candles alight.

“That was cool.” I grin.

“Uh huh… Now come here.” Ume whispers insistently.

I walk over to my Gazer girlfriend who immediately pulls my head to hers, kissing me thoroughly. Without wasting any time she breaks the kiss, dropping to her knees and fumbling with my trousers.

“Ume… You don’t have to…” I murmur. She looks up at me, her cyclopean eye fixing me with a nonplussed expression.

“Will you shut up and enjoy your present?” She hisses, before freeing my dick from my pants and taking it into her mouth.

She’s clearly no expert, but holy hell does she learn quick! Before long she’s settled into a rhythm which seems to rock my entire body. I feel a sensation building… building…

“Ume…” I gasp “I’m gonna…”

She takes me to the hilt in her mouth as I erupt, giving a slight muffled squeak as my seed bursts into her throat. Swallowing eagerly, she gives one last long suck, making me groan involuntarily as she drains me thoroughly.

“Mmm.” She murmurs, releasing me with a wet pop. “I should have done that earlier.”

“Can’t brain…” I gasp “Too awesome.”

Ume giggles. “Happy birthday.”

She gives the end of my rapidly deflating dick a last, brief kiss before tucking me back into my trousers.

“So why did Laina have the key?”

“She was gonna have her way with Adam today.”

“Ah hell. I cockblocked Adam?”

“It’s your birthday!” Ume insisted.

“Still…” I muse. Tapping at my wrist, I bring up an interface.

“Why do you have that?” Ume asks.

“Was gonna see if you were keen on giving it a try.” I admit

“Not really what I wanted, David.” Ume replies with a note of slight irritation

“Yeh, and it cost me nothing to download. If you said no you said no… And since you’ve said no, no sense letting it go to waste.” I grin in the soft candlelight. “And done… Have you got a pen?”

Ume moves to retrieve a small pen from her shirt pocket. My hand beats hers to it, and I sneak a feel of her pert breast before retrieving it.

“Cheeky.” She giggles.

“How could I resist?” I drawl, scribbling a few notes on a scrap of paper. “Shall we babe?” I ask, slipping the pen back and having another feel, leaning forward and kissing her for good measure.

“In a moment…” Ume replies, her appendant eyes launching beams of light-blue energy which extinguish the candles. The darkness is sudden, and she takes my hand, pulling it downwards. I feel her thighs around my hand, and a soft wetness on my fingers.

“Let’s talk about where and when soon, yeah?” She whispers in my ear.

Oh hell yes…

Hand in hand we walk back to Adam and Laina, who are both looking at us with conspiratorial grins.

“Well?” Adam insists.

“A gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell.” I chide.

“He was delicious.” Ume offers unhesitatingly.

“Fuck! Ume!” I gasp.

“What? You were…” She grins, blushing slightly.

From the heat on my cheeks I think I’ve got her beat.

“Oh! Before I forget.” I press the piece of paper into Adam’s hand. “Tonight.” I say insistently, staring my friend in the eyes. He looks at the paper and his own eyes widen.

“Do it mate. For King and fuckin’ country.”

“America’s a republic.” He replies.

“Nobody’s perfect.”

“Why did I ever give you that translator…” he laughs helplessly.

Oh fuck me.

The Translator.

“Oh! One thing. Dad wants to know who wrote that thing. Do you know the guy?”

“Yeah, I know him, why?”

“There’s a job opportunity in it for him. Dad didn’t exactly talk brass tacks but I think it falls into the ‘Stonking great’ variety.”

“Y’all serious? No chance of me saying I did it, I guess…” Adam laments.

“Not unless you can deliver mate.” I chuckle.

“Aw hell. I’ll take you to see him after school. Before… Y’know.”

Ume and Laina are talking in hushed whispers slightly away from us. The Holstaur is keeping a deadpan expression with all her might but her tail is slashing the air with anticipation like a stockwhip.

“Cheers mate.” I grin.

“This is it?” I ask incredulously, pressing myself to the wall to let Adam squeeze past me on the tiny balcony.

“Yeah, His parents went Order, he’s been living alone for the last six months, poor guy.” Adam replied, sympathy welling in his voice. “Mom and Pop have told him he’s got a standing invite for dinner whenever, but he hasn’t come round a lot lately. Not sure why.”

“Huh.” I grunt, pushing the bell.

A scuffling from inside. “It’s the landlord! Shit! Quick Nat! The closet!”

A meyow?

A dishevelled young man opens the door, peering around it at myself and Adam. My eyes widen with recognition.

“Doomed Bastard!” I exclaim, recognising the Catgirl’s boyfriend.

The young man frowns at me in puzzlement. “Who the hell are you?”

“Friend of mine Keito, he thinks he’s funny, but that’s probably just because he’s Australian.” Adam interjects

“Oh!” The young man exclaims. “You’re the Gazer’s boyfriend!”

“Better than some things I could be known for.” I snicker. “Name’s Dave.”

“That’s not the landlord, Nyaa~” Comes a voice from within the cramped apartment.

“Yeah, it’s alright Nat, come on out.” Keito sighs.

“Christ mate, you look like you haven’t slept in a week.” I murmur.

Keito rubs his face. “I probably haven’t, what with working two jobs and trying to stay on top of school.”

I grin. “Well it’s your lucky day. Got a proposition for ya.”

“Oh? Who says I’m interested?” Keito asks suspiciously.

“Does the name ‘Brian McDavidson, Development Executive for the Pandemonium Embassy’ melt that cynicism any?” I drawl.

Keito’s eyes widen and his hands start to visibly shake. “W-what…” He gasps.

“My Dad. He saw your translator. He wants to make you an offer.”

“When can I meet him?”

“How’s right now?”

“B-but my suit’s ruined, I’ve got nothing to wear!” Keito objected.

“Pants your wearing have got a seat on ‘em don’t they?”

“Yeah but…”

“Then you’re fine. It’s what’s between your ears Dad wants a look at mate.”

“T-That’s not how it’s done in Zipangu!” Keito insists, yelping and scrambling forward, rubbing his backside.

“Honestly nyaa~, don’t look a gift centaur in the chest.” The catgirl chides, retracting claws delicately and stepping around the door.

“Shall we then?” I grin.

“I am so glad to meet you!” Dad almost gushes, taking Keito’s hand in a firm grip.

“M-Me too, McDavidson-Sama.” Keito stutters, bowing.

“Please mate, call me Brian.” Dad offers casually. “I’ve got some stuff here I’d like you to take a look at…” He ventures.

I press myself to the wall of the hallway, listening intently.

“What are they doing, Nyaa~” The catgirl asks softly

“Oh hey… Nat was it?” I murmur

The catgirl nods “My name is Natsumi Nyaa~”

“Gudday Nat, I’m Dave, and Keito’s about to blow my dad away.” I grin.

“Well it’s really quite simple, if we take this here…” Keito begins “…and assume it as a common factor, then we can do away with unneccesary checks here, here and here.”

“But what about the off chance of an anomaly?” Dad asks.

“Honestly you’ve got more chance of the building spontaneously combusting. Humans are creatures of habit.” Keito replies.

The conversation rapidly becomes far too esoteric for me to follow, until my dad let loose with “Well stone the bloody crows. I think I’ve heard enough.”

“Oh… I’m sorry McDavidson-Sama. I didn’t mean to waste your time, I’ll just be going…”

“Going where mate?”

“Home?”

“Like hell! I’m not letting you out of my sight until I have your name on at least three pieces of paper.”

“W-What?” Keito gasps

“You’re right, of course. We should talk remuneration. How does this look?” The sound of a piece of paper being pushed across the table.

Keito started making strangling noises.

“You’re right, much too low. How’s an extra zero on the end strike you?”

“W-wonderful!” Keito managed to stammer.

“Eh… I don’t like the look of that 7… let’s make it a 9 instead. Much nicer looking.” Dad drawled.

Keito was audibly whimpering.

“What is your dad doing to my Keito Nyaa~?” Natsumi demanded.

“Setting him up for life by the sounds of it.” I snicker.

Keypad sounds from Dad’s PC… “Yes, Emily? I want forms eighteen, twelve and a standard four-fifty two e-mailed through to me now. Thank you dear.” A few more key noises. Soft shush-shushing of the printer.

“Now, Keito, if you could sign here, here, initial here. Hang on a mo this will sting, there we go, just press your thumb down there… Congratulations. Welcome to the Embassy.”

“T-Thank you McDavidson-Sama!” Keito gushed.

“I said to call me Brian, mate.” Dad chided gently.

“Sorry, Brian.”

“There you go, make an Australian of you yet! Now I’ll want you to start next Monday…”

“But what about school?”

“Huh, you’re still seventeen? Gimme a sec…” More keypresses.

“Chairwoman Akemi, good evening, hope I haven’t caught you at dinner… Yes that’s right… Uh huh. One ‘Kusanagi Keito.’ Oh really? Well that does make life easier.”

“Congratulations on Graduating.” Dad chuckled.

“G-Graduating?” Keito gasped.

“Yeah, can’t make you Dux, that’s just being a bit too dodgy.”

That tore it. “Oi Dad!” I yell from the hallway. “Why you making me go to bloody school if you’ve got that kind of kick?”

“Revolutionize the entire communications industry on my coffee table and we’ll talk, boy.” Dad grated.

Oh sure… Make it all about ability… bloody weak.

“Now, the position does come with an executive suite… Where are you currently living?”

“Er… The ‘bachelor’s arms?” Keito replied lamely.

“Like hell!” Dad exclaimed. More key-presses. “Emily, I want a furnished apartment booked for the next week at the Regent Pavillion… That’s right. Have the removalists pack and move Mr. Kusanagi’s belongings from the bachelor’s arms apartments to his new residence once that’s been prepared… And have a Limousine ready to pick him and Miss Natsumi up from mine. Thanks, treasure.”

I took the risk of staring around the corner into the lounge room. Keito’s eyes were nearly standing out on stalks, he was gripping his knees hard enough that his knuckles were pure white.

“Now, Keito. Mate. Is there anything else you need before Monday?”

“J-just one thing, Bruce…” He murmured. “Natsumi, could you come here?”

The catgirl cautiously approached.

“Our lives are about to change very drastically.” Keito said gently to the Catgirl. “And I don’t know what that’s going to mean. But I need to ask you something very important.”

He sank to one knee. “Will you marry me?”

The Catgirl gave a yowl of joyous surprise. “Yes! Yes! Nyaaaaa~” she squealed before throwing her arms around him and showering his face with kisses.

“Isn’t that lovely…” Takako murmured from where she had soundlessly approached behind me, resting a gentle hand on my shoulder and dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief.

“Poor Doomed Bastard…” I murmur softly.

“So…” I drawl, elbowing Adam in the ribs.

“Seven.” He murmured.

“Sorry, I don’t speak wuss, could you try that in Human?”

“Seven times…” Adam replied, blushing furiously.

“Make way for Adam!” I cried “A bloody Titan amongst men!”

“Shhh!” Adam grinned “It was the milk more than anything…”

“Oh yeah? Come on mate, you gotta give me the filthy details now…”

“I barely suggested it and she practically SHOVED her tits in my face! I swear she came like three times just from me sucking on them… Or that she was riding me at the time.”

“Maaaaaaate.” I drawl “I’ll admit, I’m positively jealous.”

“You mean you and Ume haven’t…”

I shook my head “Not yet, but you know what’s really fucked?”

“What man?”

“I’m not in any rush.” I laugh in spite of myself. “Can you believe that? I’m so happy with her that I’m just content being around her.”

Adam peered at me quizzically “You must be sick or something.”

“Hah. Loses his cherry and he’s a satyr all of a sudden.” I snicker.

“Fuck you son.” Adam laughs.

My PC buzzes at my wrist. “Hullo, it’s Dad.”

“Everything alright?” Adam asks

‘Your Mum misses the snow, feel like inviting your friends up to the lodge for the weekend? – Dad’

I grin at Adam “You and Laina busy this weekend?”

The door opens before my hand’s even made contact. Ume’s Dad peers at me, a swollen suitcase in his wiry hand. “Oh! Hello boy. Sorry, must be going, no time to chat.” He states brusquely.

A beam of energy zaps between us, incinerating a few leaves on a nearby bush.

“Not so fast…” A woman’s voice rings out.

Ume’s dad rolls his eyes. “Honestly dear! It’s made landfall! A Crystalline Matrix of some kind, I simply MUST be there when they bring it up!”

“Kisses first.” The woman insists softly, and a mature version of Ume floats… yes. FLOATS into view.

Ume’s dad turns around, throwing his arms around his wife and kissing her soundly.

“This will change everything darling! Just wait and see!” he murmurs enthusiastically.

“Have fun dear.” The Gazer muses indulgently. Ume’s dad practically scrambles past me, a few seconds later his car is heard ripping down the road.

“Honestly he’s so reckless sometimes…” She murmurs, before seeing me. “Oh! Hello, you must be David.”

“Yes Ma’am.” I reply as politely as I can, sketching a deep bow. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“So well mannered!” She remarks.

“Don’t believe it mom! It’s all an act!” Ume’s voice rings from within the house.

Ume’s mother chuckles. “I understand I have you to thank for the life my daughter’s been displaying of late. I really cannot thank you enough, she’s been so happy.”

“M-My pleasure Ma’am.” I stammer… Her cyclopean eye is boring into me… her gaze is almost predatory.

Without warning, an appendant eye whips around and I find myself ensnared in a beam of energy. The force lifts me bodily off the ground until I’m eye to eye with the Gazer.

“DO see that it stays that way… Or there won’t be enough of you left to hold the funeral…” She muses, her tone still deceptively sweet.

“Y-you have my word, Ma’am.” I gasp. Ohhhh fuck mate, screw her dad, this is a million times more terrifying.

I spot Ume from over her mother’s creamy shoulder. She rolls her cyclopean eye in exasperation. “Honestly mom, put him down.” She demands.

“Have fun you two…” Ume’s mother offers. “So NICE to meet you David!”

“Y-you too Ma’am.” I reply. Pick up the spaghetti, pick UP the spaghetti…

“You alright?” Ume murmurs

“Yeah babe… Just… wasn’t expecting that.” I chuckle as we walk back to my house. Dad’s already loaded the car, and I can see Adam sitting in the back with Laina.

Fuckin’ bastard, that was MY covert grope spot.

“Come on you two, don’t stand around like one o-clock half struck!” My dad cries, gesturing to us.

I take Ume’s hand with a grin. “Let’s go.”

“Urghhhh…” I groan, picking myself up off the snow.

“Well it’s official Dave, Y’all can’t ski worth shit.” Adam mocks, coasting in elegantly beside me.

“Adam! It’s not his fault.” Laina remonstrates, holding a tray of hot cocoa in her mittened hands.

“Bloody right. I’ve never even SEEN snow before.” I mutter.

“Excuses excuses…” Adam chortles, giving way to a loud exclamation as my perfectly thrown snowball pops him in the gob.

“VENGEANCE IS MINE!” I roar, beating my chest with both hands.

“Cometh not pride before the fall…” a soft voice from behind me, then suddenly cold as Ume dumps a massive double-handful of snow down the back of my jacket. Swearing, I dance about, trying to shake the freezing powder loose before it melts.

“You…” I snarl, shooting a mock glare at Ume, who squeals and runs away.

Quickly detatching the remaining ski from my boot, I give chase, catching her about the waist and kissing her soundly.

“Ravisher! Oh my precious virtue!” Ume laments, beating softly on my chest with her delicate hands, now covered with thick gloves.

“Isn’t that my line?” I snicker.

“Play your cards right…” Ume murmurs, a wicked glint in her eye

“Ara Ara~ Come on inside, it’s almost time for dinner!” Takako calls from the door of our ski lodge.

The fire popped and crackled as we sat around it, luxuriating in the warmth and each other’s company. Dad and Takako sat sipping mulled wine from ceramic goblets.

“Any chance of a small one Dad?” I venture.

“Legal drinking age is twenty here, you trying to get me in trouble boy?” Dad snickers.

“Bloody stupid law…” I grumble, yawning slightly.

“Welp. Guess it’s about that time. Orright, boys on the left, girls on the right, and I don’t wanna hear a peep of any shenanigans, clear?”

“You can bloody talk.” I snicker, yelping as dad clips me across the ear.

“Don’t sass me boy.” He growls

“Yes dad.” I murmur, as we reluctantly retire to our rooms.

I toss and turn under the thick covers, the thought of Ume so close and me being unable to do anything about it is maddening.

A tapping on the window.

“The hell?” I murmur, opening the window to see Ume floating there in mid-air.

“Close the window, it’s freezing out there.” She whispers, floating into the room. I do so.

“I didn’t know you could do that!” I murmur with a grin.

“Girl needs some secrets.” Ume muses, kissing me softly.

“And what can I do to… er… FOR you babe?” I jest.

“Oh… I can think of a few things…” Ume replies, pulling me gently towards the bed.

My hands start to shake… “You’re sure? I mean, you want to?”

Ume nods, blushing adorably. “It’s been such a perfect day… I-I can’t think of a better way to end it.”

I smile stupidly, kissing her and letting my hands roam along her soft skin. She unzips her jacket and shrugs it off, revealing her naked body underneath.

I gasp as she is revealed to me… this beat the FUCK out of pictures! My hands still shaking, I cupped her bare breasts, bending to take a nipple in my mouth. Her gasp is punctuated by a soft moan.

My dick is once again heavy machinery, and she seems to sense it, pushing at my trackpants and sliding them off me, taking me in her cool, soft hand.

I pull my shirt off, relishing in the feel of her naked skin on mine, my hands stroking gently along her tentacles, Ume making small noises of pleasure as I do so, planting small, light kisses teasingly on my mouth.

“I want you…” She whispers, lying back and opening herself to me.

“Wait… Ume…” I gasp.

“What is it?” she asks, a note of concern in her eye.

“I have to say something… before we go any further…”

She sits up slightly, looking at me intently.

I take a deep breath… Here goes…

“Ume… I…” I swallow. Come on you pussy, out with it.

I look her deeply in the eye. “I love you.”

Her hands fly to her mouth and she gasps. “Oh David!” She throws her arms around me “Maou, but I love you so much David! I love you!” She pulls me to her, and in that one motion our bodies are joined as one.

Now I could bullshit you about how we made love like goddamn marathon runners, climaxing together and all that other stereotypical horseshit, but in actual fact it was awkward as shit, both of us learning, teaching, exploring each other’s bodies as well as finding the limits of our own… But it was loving, caring, tender… and when we were both sated we lay back staring at each other with eyes full of love for one another.

“We DEFINITELY need to do that again.” I breathed.

“Oh my yes… I can’t say I’m happy about having to sneak around though… Floating is hard work!” Ume replied with a soft smile.

“Well Mum and Dad are pretty avid hikers… It’s likely they’ll be gone for the majority of the day tomorrow.”

“Oh? We should probably clue Adam and Laina in on that as well.”

“What are friends for?” I snicker.

“Hey David?”

“Yeah Love?”

“Mmm… I like that…” Ume murmured. “I was just thinking… We’ll be graduating in a few months… What… what happens then?”

“I don’t know…” I sighed “I’ve got no idea what I want to do, where I want to go…” I propped myself up on one elbow.
“But I do know, wherever the bloody hell I end up, it’s with you. You make me feel whole, Ume, and I’m never letting you go.”

“I’m so glad.” Ume smiled, pulling me in for another kiss.

We both knew in our hearts that the swelling of first love wouldn’t last, but we knew something more precious lay beyond the horizon. However the world turned from here on out, we had each other.

Until the end of the earth…

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13 thoughts on “Australian in a Strange Land”

  1. Dis was gud! I enjoyed it! Gamer-Gazer-chan strikes back cutely.

    Were the Mamono recognised as holding title to their ancestral territory concurrent with Aboriginal title? Then, ipso facto, considered citizens (de facto anyways, as they hold title as legal entities, with their title perpetuated to the current state, rather than categorised as “Fauna”, as Aboriginals were until the 60’s or something)?
    >Mabo’s descendant lamia in the supreme court.

    >An Australian missing an opportunity to tell a shitty goddess to get a dog up her cunt.
    >An Australian not drinking by age 15.

    1. >Native title

      Pretty much. “You’re Kangaroo people, therefore you’ve been here as long as the Abos, stick yez in there, fucking sorted. Let’s go to pub.”

      >Ilias with a dog up her

      It was a nightmare and David’s 17. He was shitting broken tiles as it was. Telling someone to get a dog up ’em requires a certain level of calm contempt.

      >Not drinking

      I never really spelled it out but David’s dad is actually in Zipangu under political asylum. So as Principal shotafucker implied, he gets in the SLIGHTEST legal trouble he’s fucked. (IE don’t tell your daddy I stripped you or I’ll have him thrown out the country)

      1. >Australians ever managing calm contempt and not blatant belligerence.

        The political situation would have to be extreeeeeemely tenuous for that haha…
        That said, my parents were never keen on my drinking, but what they didn’t know didn’t hurt them.
        Except when they had to fish me out of the ED.

  2. Too….much….hilarity!
    Jesus H Christ! I read this at night and almost woke the entire house!
    Very, very, very, good mate. I enjoyed every bit of Australian cultural influence and jokes, I loved it.

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