*Beep* *Beep* *Beep*
Arthur rolled over, still drowsy after being jarred awake by the punishing noise of his alarm. He blinked for a moment since his eyes were still bleary, and he could only stare at the harsh red display. It was 6:30 am, and he knew he needed to get out of bed, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Finally, laziness lost to aggravation as the screeching alarm continued without mercy.
Cursing loudly, he got up and stumbled across the room. He wondered what he was thinking when he was setting the alarm at night. Did he think he would actually enjoy this? Why would he never give himself the extra five minutes he craved?
‘I must be some kind of sadist…’ He thought. With a long and drawn out groan he stretched out and then unceremoniously slammed his hand on the alarm clock, silencing it at last.
“Why did I have to enroll in the early morning classes this semester?” He lamented to himself as he slid off his night clothes and tossed them lazily into a hamper.
Walking into his bathroom, he flipped on the lights with a wince and sat his towel on the side of the sink. He stretched once more and proceeded to start his daily routine.
He stepped into the shower and turned the knob to the warmer side, though he knew it would first come out cold. His body tensed and he sucked in a breath as the frigid water splashed over him. He was awake now and he steadied his breathing as the water began to warm up. ‘Definitely a sadist… if I wasn’t I wouldn’t tell myself to do this every morning.’
After the water warmed up he relaxed and ran his fingers through thick brown hair before grabbing a tube of mint and eucalyptus face wash. He squeezed some onto his hands and began rubbing it into his face and he felt a cool tingle pass over him. Honestly it was his favorite part of the morning as he washed it off and felt like a new man. He finished his shower, climbed out to brush his teeth, and started to get ready for the day. Looking himself over in the mirror, he was happy to see he didn’t look half-dead anymore.
“I guess I just need to get used to it.” He said wrapping himself in the towel and walking back out into the small apartment. Entering his bedroom, he tossed the towel into the hamper and got dressed for the day.
Honestly he wasn’t looking forward to classes today. The first day was always easy but last semester he barely made it through his prereq’s, scraping by with C’s in all his classes.
“Why did I choose business anyways?” He wondered aloud as he sat on his couch with a cup of leftover noodles. He turned on the TV and checked the weather, “Light snow today huh? Well I guess half an inch isn’t terrible.”
He flipped the channels until he hit a news station covering the anti-mamono integration rallies. Ever since the order’s corruption and lies had been revealed, the governments of various regions began to integrate the mamono into normal civilization. First it was those of more gentle temper and disposition like the dragons or cat girls they allowed in. Now though, as demand for mamono products like arachne silk dresses grew, the restrictions loosened and more of the “Dangerous” types were being allowed in.
Most of the protesters were members of the order that remained faithful despite the truth that had came to light. Arthur understood why they could feel so strongly about it though. This new batch included the likes of Ushi-oni’s, Manticores, and even a few hellhounds, though they were kept under very tight restrictions. Things were moving quickly towards full access for Mamono and it even had him on edge. His parents were devout members of the order and his father was especially fervent on these matters. Honestly, the prejudice had affected him as well but he fought his instincts and conditioning to give them a fair chance.
An alarm on his phone went off and he sighed, “Life can’t wait.” He flipped off the TV and walked out the door. Sure enough it was a chilly morning and fat snowflakes were falling from the sky already. He zipped up his jacket and pulled the hood over his head. “At least the commute will be nice.” He said taking off for his school.
He had managed to get into a decent school since his test scores redeemed his bad grades. He always had a problem with homework and almost never actually did any. Now that he was in college, it was a different story and he was struggling against his bad habits to try and keep his grades passing.
As he walked down the street he greeted a few people he knew and even a few he didn’t. Arthur was always quick to smile and he always respected himself enough to make sure he looked good. Those things put together made him approachable and more often than not he would catch the occasional off stare from a woman.
Today was worse as more than a few tried to use the snow to talk to him. He would stop and speak for a moment but always excuse himself shortly after. It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested in the girls but none of them ever stood out. He had girlfriends before but all those relationships never got far. It was getting to the point now where his parents were wanting him to prove he wasn’t gay.
He let out an exasperated sigh as he remembered his mom talking about the nice clothes, clean appearance, and tidy apartment.
‘Now dear there’s nothing wrong with taking care of yourself, but you still haven’t had any kind of real relationship with a girl even though they’re available and want you. You’re twenty now… I’m just saying the evidence is stacking against you.’
He shook the thoughts from his head and continued on. He was almost two blocks out from school when he heard an upset voice.
“Where am I..? Why do these maps have to be so confusing?” The feminine voice lamented.
She was just a few feet away behind a standing map of the campus area. He felt bad for her since it did sprawl out over a couple of square miles. He put on a smile and decided to walk over to her.
As he got closer he noticed that it was paws showing underneath the board and that caused a bit of anxiety to creep up. While the integration was happening the girls were still pretty uncommon so there hadn’t been enough contact to stomp out the deep ingrained belief of being raped and then eaten alive.
He swallowed hard and continued on, “Probably just a cat girl…” He reasoned to himself.
When he got closer he could hear her whimpering slightly on the other side, ‘And she seems upset…Doubtful it’s anything dangerous.’
He rounded the sign with a broad smile, “Hey I heard you were upset and sounded los…” He froze on the spot. Before him stood a manticore. who turned and looked at him expectantly.
He looked frightened and took a step back, “S-s-s-sorry to bother you.” He said backing up further and further. This was one of the most dangerous. He had been warned about her type and their potent venom. He shivered thinking about becoming prey for her in such a way.
The manticore girl reached out a paw, “Wait! I-I’m sorry I scared you but I’m lost! I have to get to class soon!” She said looking panicked.
Arthur stopped and blinked for a moment, ‘She had to pass screening to get in. And she doesn’t seem hell-bent on assaulting me…’ Arthur blushed in embarrassment at how he reacted to her.
“O-ok.” He said walking back over to her. Now that he was looking at her he realized she was wearing a bag for school books. Come to think of it she was actually the picture of feminine perfection and he gulped slightly as he realized not all of the orders warnings were lies. She had darker caramel skin with purple fur covering her arms that ended in a flair of white fur. The same was true of her legs and she had a pure white mane and wild purple hair grew from her head and was kept styled in a cut most would call rebellious. Then there was her tail. It was long and of moderate size compared to her body so it fit her well. And the end had a smaller bulb than what he had seen before in pictures though he knew it probably had the same power of turning men into slaves just like any other. It was also covered in a double row of spines that made him swallow hard once again. His palms were sweaty as he remembered how he was told their venom could corrupt your mind and turn you into a permanent man slave with one sting.
“So where are you trying to go?” He asked coming a bit closer so he could see the map. He managed to stay a bit away from her as the tail worried him greatly.
The Manticore smiled and wiped her eye with a furry paw, “Well I have a class in 20 minutes. It’s in the Stanson building on the second floor but I can’t figure out where to go. I just got into the city yesterday and I’m not used to it at all.”
Arthur nodded his head, “I actually have a class there too so it will be easy.” His eyes drifted back down to her tail and once again to her.
The girl looked down at her tail and it perked up. She moved it around until the tip was next to her head and pointed at him, “Is my tail making you nervous?” She asked cocking her head to the side. A small grin broke out on her lips, “Or is it getting you bothered? I know the stories that were told about us and even if I’m considered to be a calmer manticore than my sisters it doesn’t mean my tail is any less effective.”
She somehow had a completely innocent look on her face while saying that and it made his stomach drop. “N-no I just heard the stories about the venom and it made me nervous. It’s not been very long and my entire life I was told that you were one of the most dangerous.” He explained, deciding the truth was better than a lie at this point.
She lowered her tail down and sighed, “I was allowed in because my temperament is better and I won’t go off raping random guys. I was just having some fun with you that’s all. But I don’t want you to be afraid of me, you’re the first person who’s spoken to me that didn’t have an obligation to. You’re even helping me out and walking me to the building so I won’t do anything. Even if you are a cutie.” She said smiling at him.
Arthur felt a little better after what she said though the cutie thing worried him. “No one else has talked to you?” He asked taking a step closer to her.
She shook her head, “They are afraid of me for the same reason you were. My venom can convert human women into manticores and most guys think I’ll just attack them on sight. I have standards you know!” She said crossing her arms. “The only ones who have talked to me are the government agents, My landlady, and the coffee shop barista. They’re all obligated to.” She said looking sad.
Arthur felt like shit now and even though he was nervous he smiled, “I’m Arthur what’s your name?” He asked, holding out his hand. The girl looked at it and him and a grin grew on her face, “Cassie! It’s short for Casandra!” She beamed happily. A large paw met his hand and he was surprised by how soft and silken her fur was.
Suddenly he was yanked forward by her and felt himself overpowered easily by incredible strength. His heart dropped again as he thought she would take him now for sure. Instead, he found himself with his face buried into her soft mane and her arms around him in a tight hug.
Arthur tried his best to return the hug but his arms were being more or less held against his body and he was forced to breathe in the scent of her mane. It was odd and unexpected but she smelled of a slight musky scent overlaid with delicate florals. She definitely smelled like a girl. The next thing he realized was how soft and warm she was, and how gifted her breasts were. They pressed into his chest and he realized now how purpose made her body was to pleasing a man. He felt himself get somewhat aroused at the thought but shook it away as he was set back down on his feet.
“Sorry! I didn’t mean to scare you. I just was really happy and got carried away!” She said smiling cutely.
“It’s fine. I’m sure you’re just getting used to things.” HE said with a shaky smile. It occurred to him how truly terrifying that cute smile was. Her body was a genuine purpose crafted machine and it came with super speed and strength. The old stories about escape being impossible he now believed were true.
“So…Cassie. I guess we should go. We’ll probably be late for class at this rate.” He said looking at his watch.
“Aw… I didn’t want to make a bad impression on the first day!” She said with a pout as they began walking.
Arthur laughed, “Don’t trouble yourself with it too much. In college everyone is an adult so if you want to skip class or be late it’s fine. They only care if you learn the material or not. Usually to learn it you have to be in class though.” He said with a laugh.
“What a relief! I just hope I don’t cause too much of a disruption. My kind is pushed back by a ten foot pole from humans.” She said with a frown.
Arthur looked ahead and sighed, “People still aren’t used to it yet. I mean I was sure you were going to attack me. You haven’t though, which means not everything that was taught is true. Sometimes a Manticore is in class to learn something.”
Cassie was thankful he walked in front of her because she was blushing quite hard at his words. “I am happy I met a kind human like yourself.” She said trying to make the blush go away.
Arthur smiled at her compliment and continued to lead her to the building. After a few more minutes they arrived inside, “Alright here we are! The first number of the room indicates what floor it’s on. The others are the room number for that floor.” He explained.
Cassie nodded her head, “Thank you so much! I appreciate it! I think I might stay in the human world if there are nice, cute guys like yourself!”
There was a great number of onlookers and whispers happening now that everyone could see the manticores happy and wide grin aimed at Arthur. It was no doubt they would soon be the talk of the school.
“Awesome I’m glad I could help you out.” He said bidding her farewell. He began to ascend the stairs and ignore all the looks he got from others.
Of course the ever present stares might have came from the fact the manticore was still following him up the stairs. Despite everything that had happened he was growing more and more nervous. He rounded the stairs and came out on the fourth floor. He walked down the hallway until he was almost to his door. When he noticed Cassie was still following him, “Yes?” He asked turning around. “Why did you follow me up to the stairs when you have to be in class?” His gaze was suspicious and probably a bit harsh.
Cassie looked down, “M-my class is on the fourth floor too.” She said looking hurt. “So I followed you up to keep from getting lost again.”
Arthur’s eyes immediately softened, “Sorry… I didn’t mean to accuse you of something like that. I was a jerk.” He said with a blush. He looked out the window for a moment,embarrassed at his reaction, though when he looked back to the Manticore his blush grew even deeper. She was standing there giving him a very discomforting smile while her tail fidgeted around behind her.
“Well my class is 407.” She said breaking the gaze and walking towards the door. “How about you?”
“Well… 409 actually.” He said, still a tad nervous at the expression he got from her earlier. “So I guess we’re right next to each other.”
Cassie grinned broadly, “Can I see you’re schedule?” She asked suddenly excited. Her butt was wiggling slightly as she watched him pull out the paper.
“Sure. Here.” He asked holding it out. He was caught off guard when she snatched it away and unfolded it quickly.
“Yay! I see here that we both have the same three days for class each week! Wait! Aww… But none of our other classes matchup.” She said looking sad as she handed him back the paper. “Well at least I can see my friend often!” She said perking back up almost immediately.
Arthur wasn’t sure they were friends yet but he honestly enjoyed the company of the lively manticore and had to admit that he was excited about the schedule as well. There was also something great about all the stares they attracted when they walked together. “That’s right. At least a few times a week.” He said smiling at her.
She pounced him in a bear hug one more time and then released him. “Well I need to stop being so late! See you later Arthur!” She said disappearing into the classroom.
Arthur watched her vanish and let out a sigh, “Well things just got more interesting.” He said to himself as he walked into the class. Throughout his lesson his mind kept wandering back to everything that had happened today. He found his mind lingered on certain details longer than other. The softness of her skin and fur, the pleasant smell of her mane, and her gorgeous and bright smile. He sighed in contentment but then realized what he was doing and shook the thoughts from his head. he had a light blush and looked around expecting everyone to be staring at him oddly. Thankfully it was all in his mind and the other students were buried in their notes or texting on their phones as the professor droned on with his monologue.
The rest of class he tried to focus and take notes, determined that this semester would be far better than the last one. As the clock hit 10:30 though, he was grateful to get out of class. He stepped out into the hall and looked at the view from the fourth floor window though his attention was quickly ripped from the view by a now familiar voice.
“There he is! It’s my hero!”
Arthur turned around surprised to see her grinning and waving at him. She bounced over from between two girl and smiled, “My class is out 5 minutes before yours so I waited!”
“Wow, I’m actually a little jealous.” He said scratching his head.
The two girls she had been talking to previously walked over to him and gave him appraising glances. “So this is the guy that helped you find your class?” Asked the one with brown hair.
“Yep! He was sweet and is my first friend I’ve made since I got here!” She said wrapping an arm around him and pulling his tight against her. The mane was right there again and her scent found it’s way to him once more.
“S-she was having difficulty with the map.” He stammered out.
The girl with brown hair nodded, “Well it’s good to know there are others who don’t hate the stronger Mamono on sight. I’m Amy.” She said introducing herself. The shyer blonde girl stepped forward,
“And I’m Joslyn. We are two members of the Mamono integration committee here at the campus. We only have a small number on campus now but there isn’t too much trouble.”
Amy laughed, “I’m glad I applied to a liberal arts school now. But we have other classes to get to. See ya!” She said as they both waved and departed.
Arthur watched them go, “Seems like this semester will be more interesting at least.” He said turning back to Cassie. “So what are you in school for anyways?” He asked straightening up his bag after the hug.
“Well I’m undecided but I was thinking something in the medical field.” She said leaning against the window. “It’s actually kind of rough in the human world. I only have a few more months before I’m out of pre-req’s and have to pick my actual courses or I risk falling behind. It just doesn’t seem like enough time for such a big decision. Life in the wild was easier since your big concerns were what you felt like catching to eat and which man to make your husband. But I guess that was a little boring sometimes.”
Arthur laughed at her words, “I guess things can get complicated if you live in a city. But it’s the reason we have cities and all the entertainment we do have. Complexity is rough sometimes but it’s always worth it for the new things you get to discover and enjoy.”
Cassie looked out the window thoughtfully at the cars and the people coming and going from various business’ down the main road that ran through campus. “It has been interesting. I got a coffee yesterday and some pizza that night.” She turned and looked at him again with her soft smile, “Well I have to get to my next class so… I guess I will see you later.” She said sounding a bit sad.
Arthur nodded, “It’s better when you arrive on time.” He said walking with her down to the second floor. They parted there as she went to her class which was on that floor leaving him with his thoughts once again.
It was later that night and Arthur walked into his apartment. He shut the door behind him and sat down on the couch with a sigh. He had just gotten off of work at the deli and he opened the bag with his dinner. He always considered himself lucky in life. He had gotten into a decent college and even gotten a nice apartment on campus for dirt cheap because his aunt owned the buildings. Now he was enjoying yet another perk in his life, The ability to bring home dinner with him as often as he wanted. Tonight was his favorite: a toasted beef reuben and kettle chips.
He flipped on the TV and the news station from earlier came back on the screen. The coverage was still about the anti-mamono movement though it had moved from a protest to a riot. Watching the people attacking and throwing rocks made him think about everything that had happened today. He found it odd how one of the most dangerous and protested against species was now his friend and seemed a great deal less than what they were making it seem. Of course he knew she had a milder temperament but it seemed they were intelligent enough to control themselves in a setting like this. A few hours later he had picked up his mess and laid out everything for the next day. As he now settled down into the bed sleep quickly came over him and his dream were full of her scent and smile though they grew more lewd as the night progressed.