Chapter 1: Run
This takes the absolute cake for the most research I've done for a story. I read about exoplanets and habitability and how blood colors work, etc, for four days. In that process of doing research and checking facts, I accidentally found that I'm fascinated with these things. So this story is gonna be fun.
But It will also be challenging, because this is far different than coming up with my own ghosts and monsters and magic as I do with The Hunters, but knowing me, I'll be coming up with some of the things for this story that don't follow scientific rules, even if this story is scientifically based.
Just bear with me.
It was raining heavily when your shift ended, and you forgot to bring an umbrella. You only realized this as you clocked out, pawing through your messenger bag to check for your usual folding umbrella, the one patterned with lemons and strawberries, staring disdainfully out the glass door and at the rain-slicked street. It was the icing on the cake, really. Your train had been delayed, meaning you’d been late to work. Needless to say, you'd been having an off day.
You stared down at the essay you’d crammed together around midnight the week before, just hours before the time it was due. You still needed to review it because, apparently, staying up until two am when the essay was due at six wasn’t advisable for writing anything coherent. You easily could have written an outline and gotten up early before six to do it, but you were a woman on a mission and things like time didn’t stop you.
You shoved the essay to the bottom of your bag, deciding you could ignore it for a few more hours, just until the rain stopped or slowed long enough for you to bolt from awning to awning until you made it to the train station. You wanted for a while, but it kept going. You frowned, tugging your coat more tightly around yourself, watching with envious annoyance as people walked along the sidewalk with umbrellas over their heads.
You groaned, pulling your coat over your head to shield it, figuring you could just dry it at home if it got totally soaked. You stepped outside, brushing off your coworker’s attempts to give you her umbrella, telling her you just needed to get to the train station and it wasn’t that far. It was a half-truth. The station was two blocks away from the cafe you worked at, and you lived in Tokyo, so they were city blocks, which wasn’t helpful.
As you stepped into the downpour, you realized all at once you should have taken the umbrella. You began to run, cold water falling onto your face as your jacket began to sink lower from where you’d placed it on your head, and you mentally groaned as you hurried under an awning, shivering. You were already halfway soaked and you’d only run around the corner. But, to be fair, that was after running the length of the street.
You really wished you’d remembered to bring your umbrella.
You needed to wait until the weather calmed down if you wanted to make it home without catching a terrible cold, and running with only a jacket as a shield in October rain wasn’t the best way of avoiding that. Your feet were beginning to get cold in your heeled boots, the backs of your feet and socks wet from when you exposed them to the water while running. You glanced at the shop behind you, which was a small convenience store, deciding you’d try your chances inside rather than catch your death in the cold.
The bell above the door dinged to announce your presence, and the clerk, a very bored looking teenage boy, looked up from his magazine for a moment to acknowledge who had come into the store. You offered him an awkward smile which he didn’t return. You drifted about the store, body shivering as it warmed, your wet clothing beginning to become unpleasant against your skin. You snagged a package of potato chips from one of the shelves, checking your bag to make sure you’d at least brought your wallet. You had, thankfully. You also grabbed a pair of thin blue knit gloves from a rack with a bunch of other gloves on it, placing your items on the counter. If you were going to take refuge in the store to warm up, you might as well buy something.
You wandered around a little longer after paying, waiting for the rain to die down enough for you to walk outside. You were already wetter than was comfortable in the lower temperature and you didn’t want it to get worse. You snapped the tag on the gloves off, putting them on your hands and hesitantly putting the tag into your bag after not finding a garbage can in your vicinity. You’d throw the tag away when you got back to your apartment, you reasoned. You also placed the bag of chips in your bag, taking a deep breath before stepping back outside. The rain had lessened to a drizzle, but it still didn’t look inviting, not that a rainy street would. You shielded yourself with the door as a car passed, sending a wave of water onto the sidewalk. You stayed close to the buildings, arms tucked around yourself to keep warm. You flipped the collar of your coat up in an attempt to shield your ears. You were sure if it were any colder it would snow. Which you’d like better. At least you’d be able to walk to the subway station in peace without having to worry about getting drenched.
As you rounded the corner, still walking near the buildings, you ran straight into a young man.
He was several inches taller than you and dressed a little too lightly for the cold weather. He was wearing a pair of white sneakers and dark jeans, a green jacket layered over a blue cotton shirt. The jacket had a hood, but it was more of a raincoat than something one would wear while the temperature was as low as it was.
He was ridiculously good-looking, with catlike eyes and graceful features. His eyes were two different colors, the left one so blue it was almost teal, the right one shockingly grey. There was something off about his eyes, the pupils looked a little too narrow, almost like an animal’s. A large burn scar painted the right side of his face. His hair was also two different colors, the left half unnaturally red, the right side silvery white.
“U-um,” you said, taken aback by his odd appearance, “excuse me.”
He looked just as surprised to see you as you were him. He said something in a language you’d never heard before, something full of vowels where they didn’t belong and bizarrely placed accents. You couldn’t even begin to imagine where a language like that would be spoken.
“What?” You frowned, “I can’t understand you.”
The young man looked over his shoulder hurriedly, said something in his odd language that may have been a curse from the sharp inflection.
You blinked. “I don’t know what you’re saying. Do you speak Japanese? English?”
He mouthed your words slowly back to you as if considering them. He then reached down and yanked your glove from your hand, pressing his palm to yours.
“What- What the hell are you doing?!”
You felt something strange pulse through your body as he removed his hand from yours, then shoved past you, and began to run. He was still holding your glove. And you’d be damned if you’d just casually leave without knowing what the hell just happened. And you wanted your glove back, even if it had been cheap.
“Wait!” You called, taking off after him. He was faster than you by a lot, remaining far ahead of you as you chased. Your lungs were beginning to burn, and the cold air wasn’t helping. The rain had begun to pick up again.
First, I forgot my umbrella and get soaked in the rain. Now, some weirdo steals my glove.
“Give me my glove back!” You shouted, voice thin from running.
The young man called back something in his strange language, and you made a helpless noise.
“I don’t know what that means! What language are you even speaking?”
He seemed to struggle between something before he spoke again.
“I can’t stop moving!” He shouted, his sudden use of Japanese surprising you. His voice sounded weirdly accented though, like the syllables were deeply foreign in his mouth.
“You have my damn glove!”
He briefly slowed to look down at his hand, seemingly surprised that he was still holding the glove.
“No duh, that! Can you stop so we can talk like regular people? I’m gonna bust a lung like this!”
The young man looked deeply alarmed at your last statement, stopping so abruptly you went barreling into his chest, crushing your nose against it. When you pulled back, you felt something warm running down your lip.
“Great,” you muttered, “now my nose is bleeding.”
“Have I injured you?”
You looked up in surprise as you dug through your bag for the small package of tissues you usually carried. You pressed one to your nose.
“No, not on purpose. I’m okay, it’s just a nosebleed. Just… Out of curiosity, why are you running?”
“I have to find something, something lost. Someone… Someone I know.”
You looked at him quizzically, disregarding that his statement had made little to no sense.
“You’re looking for your friend?”
“Yes. And something is following me.”
You pressed your fingertips against your phone, which was still in your bag. “Do you need me to call the police? Are you being stalked or something?”
“Not by something law enforcement can take care of.”
He cursed softly in that language again, and you frowned.
“What is that? What language are you speaking?”
“Oh, apologies, you cannot understand Ozuran. I forget that the people here do not speak it.”
You raised your eyebrows. “I’m sorry, Ozu- what now? Where the hell is that spoken?”
“Ozurus. You’ve not heard of it?”
You coughed. “Afraid not. What’s your name?”
The young man opened his mouth to speak, then paused. “I don’t think you’ll be able to pronounce it.”
Whatever he said didn’t even sound like a name. It was full of sounds that shouldn’t ever go together and accents that drew the letters out a little too far. You nodded slightly.
“Yeah, no. I don’t think I can ever remember that or say it. Do you have a nickname?”
“My people are known to have unpronounceable names, so we adopt new ones while we are on another planet. I’ve taken a liking to the name Shoto, so you may call me that.”
You swallowed, heart jumping into your throat when you heard a gravelly, low snarl from behind you. When you turned to look, there was nothing there.
“Where did you say Ozurus was?”
Shoto shook his head. “I didn’t. It’s in a star system about twelve hundred of your Terran lightyears from here.”
You felt your breath catch in your throat, sending you into a coughing fit. “Oh, so you’re insane?”
He looked at you for a moment, clear offense on his face. “Of course I’m not. If you choose not to believe me, that’s your mistake. The people of Terra never like to believe what they see in front of them.”
You snatched your glove from Shoto’s hand, replacing it on your own. “You say that like you’re not from Earth— Terra. Not human.”
“I am not. I am Ozuran. I already told you that.”
“We haven’t found life in other solar systems yet,” you said, “we’ve found the solar systems themselves, but we have no way of knowing for sure if there’s actual life there, even if the planets are in the habitable zones.”
Shoto looked puzzled. “Can’t you travel there and find out?”
You looked at him, incredulous. “No. We can’t. We haven’t mastered interstellar travel yet. The farthest we’ve been is to the moon.”
The snarl returned, but it was even closer. You whirled around, eyes searching the street, but saw nothing. You suddenly felt Shoto’s hand in yours.
“We need to leave.”
“You don’t even know my name!” You cried.
“Well, what is it?”
As he studied your face, you noticed what was odd about his eyes. His pupils weren’t just a little narrow, they were all too narrow. They were slits, like a cat’s were. And, like your own eyes, the pupils were moving and dilating as they focused on what they were looking at.
“Well, (Y/N), run with me if you want to live.”
And he took off, hauling you behind him, your breath leaving you as you struggled desperately to keep up with his speed. You let a little terrified yelp escape your throat as you grabbed onto his arm with your other hand, shoes scrabbling against the ground. He was going far too fast and your lungs could barely keep up.
“Slow down!” You gasped, and Shoto glanced back, eyebrows furrowed.
He paused, sending you crashing into his back with the sudden stop (you luckily turned your head this time, avoiding getting another bloody nose), and you barely had time to be stunned as he scooped you into his arms completely effortlessly, and began to run again, this time much faster than when he was pulling you along behind him. You curled close against his chest, his body shockingly, almost feverishly warm, even through his clothing.
“Where are you taking me?” You asked, “and why are you taking me with you?”
“Because the creature that compromised my comrade’s mission has picked up your scent, and if I didn’t take you with me, you would have been eaten.”
You looked past Shoto’s shoulder and finally saw your pursuer. It had the form of a scrawny, almost completely hairless dog-like creature, but it was almost as big as a tiger. A ridge of course hair ran from the length of its spine, beginning from between its stubby, pointed ears. Its tail was long, curling around the body, and its eyes were pale and all too wide, like searchlights. Its snout was narrow, but the mouth was full of long teeth.
You screamed, and it growled, the same rumbling sound you’d heard before.
“The actual fuck is that thing?!” You said, voice panicky and shaking.
“An Adraxan Ripper, or that’s what the word in Adraxan translates over to in your language, at least roughly. They come from a tidally locked planet in the star system about four lightyears from here. Since Terra has apparently not sent astronauts to other star systems, you haven’t had many experiences with them.”
You tore your gaze from the creature. It certainly looked like an alien. Was Shoto really from another planet, too?
“You’re not lying,” you said, voice full of quiet wonder, “you’re really an alien.”
“To me, you’re the alien, but yes, I am,” Shoto said.
He took a sharp turn into an alleyway, and the creature streaked past. Shoto took this opportunity to scale the chain-link fence that divided the alley down the middle, all while still carrying you in his arms.
“What are you going to do?” You asked in a whisper.
“I have to kill it or it will begin to kill Terrans. One Ripper alone can wipe out entire cities with their insatiable hunger. I’d hate to see what it would do to this one when very few of your human weapons can harm it.”
Your head felt fuzzy, you could feel a migraine coming on. “I think I’m gonna be sick,” you said.
You stared at Shoto, incredulous. “Because while I knew aliens probably existed, I didn’t know for sure. And now I’m learning all at once that they’re very real, and who knows how many more are out there? It’s a little overwhelming.”
Shoto thought for a moment. “The Intergalactic Union is made up of many planetary empires throughout the galaxy and the surrounding galaxies. I would estimate that there are trillions of citizens living in them and tens of thousands of species. There are even more that are not even a part of the Union. Ozurus and Adraxi are only scratching the surface. You haven’t met the Adraxan people, the species which dominates Adraxi.”
Your eyes went wide. “An intelligent species?”
“Yes. They live mostly underground since the conditions of their planet is so harsh. Peaceful people, though. The ambassador of Adraxi, Raq’aers Vilquil, I believe her name is, holds a seat on the Council of Interplanetary Relations.”
You lowered your eyes. “This isn’t helping with the whole ‘overwhelmed’ thing.”
You heard the snarl again, and apparently so did Shoto, because he bolted down the street, clutching you tight to his chest.
“You said you were looking for your friend, wh-what species are they?”
“Ozuran. He came here to gather some minerals from the surface of Adraxi, but he was followed by a Ripper. It snuck inside his ship, and he only realized it was there while he was already in flight. He sent a distress signal, landed outside this city, then tried to hide inside it. But Rippers don’t give up once they’ve got your scent.”
You took this in. “Your planet, Ozurus, is twelve hundred lightyears away, you said. By that logic, if we were to travel by the speed of light, it would take twelve hundred years to get there. Just how old are you?”
“I’m not over twelve hundred years old. Ad we don’t travel at the speed of light. We travel faster. We call it the Jump Drive. Each of our ships has one, including pretty much every ship in the Union. They have different speeds depending on the setting. I couldn’t tell you how fast we go, you’d have to ask an engineer.”
You didn’t want to ask how that was possible, because in your head, in a lot of people’s heads, this was something from science fiction. Something from Star Trek. Because apparently, this ship had a goddamn warp drive.
Sorry, Jump Drive. Same difference.
“Where are we going?”
“To find him.”
“He goes by Izuku on this planet. He’s been here far more often than I have.”
You tucked your head against Shoto’s shoulder. “Do you know where he is?”
“Roughly. I’m able to sense him. He’s close by.”
Shoto was suddenly in front of a small corner store. There was a for rent sign on the door, which had been forced open, more and more obvious as you looked at it. The lock had been broken.
“In here,” Shoto said, using his shoulder to open the door, not putting you down.
There was blood in the room, but it was odd somehow. It looked ever so slightly orange, but nearly undetectably so.
Shoto called something out in Ozuran, and another young man appeared around the corner. He was bleeding from a gash in his arm, which had been bandaged. He was wearing a tight blue shirt with a high collar, as well as dark trousers and shoes. He had wild green hair and a face full of freckles. His eyes were the same shade as his hair. He was a little plain looking, but not unpleasant.
The boy took in your appearance with a confused expression, then replied to Shoto in Ozuran. They talked for a few minutes, Izuku seemingly trying to calm Shoto.
“Who are you?” Izuku finally said, this time in Japanese.
“My name is (Y/N),” you said, “I don’t know what’s going on— I’m scared.”
Izuku stepped forward a little. “I would be surprised if you weren’t. Terrans aren’t accustomed to this kind of thing. To you, we must be strange creatures.”
You noticed that his pupils were slits like Shoto’s were.
“Not as strange as that,” you said, “that... creature. Shoto, can you please put me down?”
He did, and you took a second to steady yourself as your feet hit the ground.
You pressed your palms against your temples. "Let me get this all straight. You two are from a planet twelve hundred lightyears away, have technology advanced enough to travel here in a reasonable amount of time, and you both have ships which can do this. You, Izuku, went to Adraxi and were followed by the ripper, and now you're here."
Izuku nodded. "Yeah, you're right. But I didn't come here alone."
Shoto looked wary. "Who did you bring with you?"
"Ochako. Shoto..." He paused, voice full of emotion, "she's hurt. We need to get her back to Ozurus, but we can't leave the Ripper here, either. We need to kill it or incapacitate it until we can take it back to Atraxi, but seeing as how physically strong those creatures are, I think killing it is more or less the only option. And this woman-"
He cut himself off, studying your face for a moment. "There's something off about her."
Chapter 2: Blood
Note: I chose Taekwondo as MC's martial art because I took it myself for several years and it's the one I know the most about in terms of how it works.
I loved sparring.
"And this woman-"
Izuku cut himself off, studying your face for a moment. "There's something off about her."
"Off?" You echoed, "what's off?"
Izuku shook his head. "It's probably nothing."
You looked at your shoes, a knot of unease forming in your throat.
Shoto grabbed your hand as he began to go to the door, and you dug your heels into the ground. "Why am I coming with you? I can't fight!"
"Because," Shoto said, "the Ripper has your scent. And if I leave you here, it will follow it. We have someone injured here, and Izuku's strong, but he's injured too, and I don't think he'll be able to hold it off on his own."
You let out a breath. You didn't want them to get hurt further, even if you yourself were terrified. "Okay. I don't have a choice, really, do I? Let's go."
You clenched your first to stop it from shaking.
The rain had all but died when you went outside, and the streets were wreathed with fog. The low visibility didn't help staunch your anxiety. You tightened your grip on Shoto's hand.
"Where is it?" You asked.
"I don't know. We have to find it," Shoto said, "or wait for it to find us."
You didn't like that idea.
"And how will it find us?"
Shoto didn't look at you. "It'll follow your scent."
You froze for half a second, eyes narrowing.
"Shoto, are you using me as bait!?"
He flushed very lightly, the sudden orangy-red coloring visible on his pale face. "No, of course not. Not directly. I would like to protect you if possible, and having you here with me is just the safest place for you. It also keeps the Ripper away from Izuku and Ochako, but my intentions are simply the safest option for everyone."
As much as you still felt like you were being used as bait, and despite Shoto's reassurances, you knew he was right. You'd taken Taekwondo until you were fourteen years old, but it was almost six years ago that you'd dropped it. You could spar very well, sure, but in a fight with a person (or creature) that meant to seriously harm you, you'd be paralyzed. You'd never seriously fought with someone outside of a competition, and even then, if they harmed you, the fight would be stopped immediately.
But if the Ripper attacked and you got hurt, there would be no tweet of a whistle, no black belt intervening if it kept going regardless, no nothing. You could die. And that terrified you.
"Can you defend yourself?" Shoto asked, and your mind flashed back to what you'd been thinking about.
"I'm a little rusty," you said finally, "and I've never sparred with an alien before."
"Well, I hope you're able to hold your own. Because if you pause or look away for one moment, the Ripper will take that opportunity to try and kill you."
You gulped back the nervous lump rising in your throat. "Thanks, that's very helpful," you muttered.
"I'm glad to be of service," Shoto said.
You gave him a sidelong glance. "I was being sarcastic."
A low growl interrupted whatever Shoto was about to say in response.
"On your guard," he said, releasing your hand.
You nodded, turning and pressing our back to Shoto's so, if the Ripper was behind you, it wouldn't be able to sneak up on you.
But the growling sounded like it was all around you.
Then, you looked up.
The ripper was hanging to the side of the building nearest, its eyes fixed on you. Its fangs were bared, lips pulled back into a vicious snarl.
"Shoto," you said, keeping your gaze on the creature, "I found it."
"Try looking up."
Shoto cursed softly in Ozuran. "It's going to pounce. Move the opposite direction of me... now!"
You did, nearly tripping face-first onto the pavement, and not a moment too soon, because the Ripper landed exactly where you'd been standing before, jaws snapping at the air.
Remember what Master Kitagawa taught you.
I need to fight.
But... I can't move.
The Ripper was stalking towards you, teeth glinting in the light of the street lamps. You were shaking, hands posed in front of you in a fighting stance, but you couldn't move.
Shoto's cry snapped you from your stupor and you grit your teeth, swallowing the hard lump of fear that had settled in your throat. You staggered back, shoes skidding against the ground, and as the creature reared up to attack, you did an attack of your own. With a shout, you leaped up and high kicked the Ripped in the chin, the momentum you'd gathered sending it tumbling backward onto the asphalt.
Maybe I can do this.
But at the rate it was recovering, you had a feeling you'd gotten a lucky hit.
You couldn't afford to hesitate.
It lunged again, and this time, you were ready. It swept its claws at your feet, and you jumped, but not soon enough. The very tip of its claw grazed your right shin, tearing your tights. You winced at the sudden rush of stinging warmth that spread from the area, at the pulse of pain when you landed. You couldn't look down, you couldn't stop, or you'd die, even if the pain was making it difficult to stand.
It swiped again, and you staggered right to dodge, its claws ripping into your shirt, but not your side. You delivered a punch to its eye, making it howl with pain, distracting it enough that you could send an axe kick into the crown of its skill.
You felt your leg throb, making you stumble.
Shoto appeared from behind it, a small, short blade made of an odd glinting florescent metal in his hand. When the creature rose, he sunk the blade into its throat, but to your shock, that didn't kill it, even as pitch-black blood trickled down its chest. Shoto's skin seemed utterly unaffected by its claws, though they did leave orangy-red swatches where they touched. Shoto was fast, that much you knew, but you didn't know he could move that fast.
You forced yourself to move, to help him, the only thing on your mind the thought of survival. You couldn't do a flying side kick, you didn't know how badly that would further damage your leg. You didn't even know how bad it was damaged, just that it hurt. You tightened your fists.
Then, something strange happened. Your hands were suddenly flickering with pale lavender light, and your shock made it explode outward in jagged spikes, knocking the creature on its back so forcefully it almost cracked the pavement. It flickered out as you stared at your palms.
What was that?
The creature was suddenly lifted into the air, the air around it trembling with red and blue swatches, and Shoto drove his blade into the Ripper's throat once more, and the thrashing stopped.
Everything was completely still. You lowered yourself to the pavement, looking at your leg. It wasn't as bad as you thought, however, but it sure wasn't good. It was a somewhat deep diagonal gash that started about six inches below your knee, extending and curling for about another six inches before stopping near where your calf began. While it wasn't necessarily shallow, it wasn't nearly as deep as you'd expect something like this to be, especially with how it hurt.
And you could still stand.
What's wrong with me?
There was blood, but similar to the cut, not as much as you felt there should be, even if there was still enough to make you nervous. Shoto knelt beside you, lifting your leg into his lap. Shock painted his features as his hand hovered over the wound.
"Your blood looks strange."
You frowned. "Gee, thanks."
"It isn't an insult. It looks like..."
He trailed off, and you gave him a frightened, concerned look.
"Looks like what? Shoto, what's wrong with me?"
"So that's why you felt strange. (Y/N), do you have an absent parent?"
You paused, taken aback. "Yeah, my dad. He... Mom loves him, but he almost never comes home. I think he's been gone a year and a half now. He's always traveling for work. He calls whenever he can, but it's still... I don't see him often."
"Have you had a high body temperature your whole life? Is your skin tougher than the average human?"
You chewed your lip. Your body temperature had always been a little higher than normal, maybe a handful of degrees, and because of that reason, when you were very small, you had to undergo testing to make sure your abnormal heat wasn't caused by a disease. When the doctors found out there was nothing wrong with you, you lived normally. As for your skin, when you had to get injections, doctors did have to press reasonably hard to get the needle through. You were once chopping vegetables and accidentally sliced down on your hand, and were met with pain, but your skin hadn't broken.
"Yes...?" You said finally.
"Stronger, faster, sharper senses?"
You paused. "I mean, sort of, but I'm not superhuman in that sense."
"(Y/N), that glow, I have it too. So does every other Ozuran. And I think you're one of us."
Your eyes went wide. Last you'd checked, your pupils were round, just like every normal human. You excelled in sports and martial arts because of your strength and natural athleticism, but you'd met people far more athletic than you were who could outrun you in a heartbeat. You could smell very well, able to catch and identify small scents, and you had a slight bit more stamina than your classmates in high school, but still, there were still people with more.
"W- excuse me?!"
Shoto nodded, fingertip pressing to the area around your wound, coming back up stained with blood. You watched as he examined it, eyebrows furrowed.
"You're only a half-human."
You glanced at the wound. The blood certainly looked red. You looked more closely, and the longer you looked at it, the more you noticed there was an almost indetectable orange undertone. Almost faintly rust-colored.
You swallowed, trying and failing to dislodge your heart from your throat. "And half what?"
"Half Ozuran. I think your father comes from my planet."
Your head was swimming, body numb with shock. "I'm... what?!"
You'd always been told you were human. Always thought you were human. Always known you were human. But to think your dad was from another planet, it almost felt too improbable to be real. But Shoto was living proof of extraterrestrial life, and blood like yours flowed through his veins. Being human, like most other humans on the planet, was an identity. It was what you were, and now, to find out that that was only half of what you were, it was terrifying. It was terrifying not to know anything about the other half, and now, with these powers that had suddenly made an appearance, it was terrifying not to know what you were even capable of.
You realized tears were running down your face. You reached up to wipe them away.
"I'm... not human?"
Shoto sighed. "No, you are, but only half. A lot of Ozurans like Terra. And sometimes one comes to Terra and falls in love and has a child, which is where you come in. Your father must be an Ozuran official, or he'd most likely be living here with your mother. Many Ozurans do, they find they like this climate more than their homeworld. Not being human is reasonably easy to keep secret if they wear contact lenses, and since full-blooded Ozurans don't get sick with human illnesses, they rarely have to go see a doctor, and when they do, they go to Adraxi for it."
He paused for a moment. "Your father may be a scientist since scientists often go on interplanetary journeys for their studies, but always have to go back to Ozurus to report their findings. He could also be an ambassador because they often go to other planets to meet with government officials or check on the quality of life to see if the Union needs to offer its aid. Your mother most likely knows his true identity, which is why she allows your father to leave for so long."
The shock dissolved into incredulous denial. "No. No, this is some sort of prank, right? Dad isn't... He isn't an alien. That's insane. I'm human, I've always been human. If I weren't human, I would've been told, right? Well, this is really funny, so good job, you really had me going there. You even got your friends in on it."
Shoto's serious expression remained fixed on his face. "I'm not joking, (Y/N)."
Anger flared. "Okay, that's enough, drop the act. And you know what, no, this isn't okay, this is dickish, because in what world is it okay to prank some random girl on the street? I'm already having an off day, and this just makes it worse. So if you'll leave me be, I think I need to go to the hospital for-"
Your eyes landed on the beast you and Shoto had just defeated, and your face went ashen.
"You... This isn't a joke."
Shoto extracted a small disk-shaped device that projected a screen when he tapped the center. The language written on the holographic screen wasn't remotely similar to any you'd ever seen. It was made up of oddly shaped symbols with shapes incorporated into them. Shoto swiped into a new screen, then extracted a small port from his pocket, which he touched to the Ripper's side.
It disappeared, fading as if sucked into the port. Shoto then plugged it into the disk, waited a few seconds, then shut it off, replacing it in his pocket. After that was done, he reached down and picked you up in his arms, beginning to walk back to the site of the abandoned corner store Izuku was inside.
"I can walk, you know," you said, but Shoto ignored you, much to your displeasure.
You blinked. "Yeah?"
"This injury cannot be healed well with your Terran remedies. Since your glow is now awakened, your Ozuran traits will begin to show more strongly, which means your skin will become tougher, and stitching, as this inevitably needs, will not be successful."
You narrowed your eyes. "Bullshit."
He looked offended. "It isn't, I assure you. Ozuran skin cannot be cut by ordinary metals, and we have accelerated healing. Since you are half Ozuran, this applies to you as well and may become stronger over time."
"And what are you implying?" You asked.
Shoto shouldered open the door to the shop. "I'm implying that you need to come with us back to Ozuras for medical attention and wound care. Izuku has some medical supplies, but not enough to fix you up to how you were. Adraxan Rippers carry a type of poison on their claws, and even if it's fairly weak, it can severely damage tissue if left untreated. Your Terran medicines will not be able to treat it effectively. "
You swallowed your shock. "I- I'm sorry, what?! Poison?!"
Izuku emerged from the back doorway to see what was going on, expression darkening when he saw the cut on your leg.
"Is she a-"
"Yes," Shoto said, "it grazed her with its claws. We must stop at Adraxi on the way back to pick up a remedy for the poison and to drop off the Ripper. We will then need to take (Y/N) to Ozurus for further medical attention."
"Wait, wait, slow down," you said, voice a little strained, "I'm going where?"
"Adraxi, then Ozuras," Izuku said, "the poison will start to take effect in about six hours, so we need to move quickly. It would be more like four hours if you weren't a half-breed."
You pressed your forehead into your hands. "Fine. Fine. If I have to leave, let me at least get some of my things from my apartment. At least give me that."
Shoto nodded, setting you down, but keeping you steady on your injured leg.
"I'll take you there."
Chapter 3: Launch
After you packed a few suitcases, basic toiletries and comfort items, just as you were getting back off the train to go back to the corner store, your leg started to hurt. It didn't hurt bad, just a dull ache, but it was still unpleasant enough that you had to limp. Izuku had bandaged your leg so you wouldn't get any stares, and you'd had to replace your skirt and tights with jeans to avoid getting concerned looks while on the train.
Nobody wanted to see the off-colored bloodstains. Not even you did.
By the time you got back, dusk had fallen, and Izuku was waiting for you. There was a girl in his arms, gathered close to his chest. She had a round, cute face and round eyes. Her pupils were slits. She had her hair cut to her chin with two long locks in front. Her cheeks were rosy. She was wearing a pair of white jeans and black high top sneakers, as well as a large pink sweater. Her arm was in a sling, tucked against her chest. There was rust-colored blood staining the bandages that covered her arm. Her leg was also bandaged, but there was less blood.
The more you looked at her, the more disheveled she looked. Her hair was messy, her eyes were half-lidded, and there was an off-colored bruise on her collarbone and jaw.
Izuku perked up when you and Shoto approached. Shoto's expression melted into concern. "She needs that antidote."
"Wait," you said, not taking your eyes off the girl, "if she's Ozuran, how did she so easily get injured?"
"With enough force, some creatures can break Ozuran skin. She was pounced on. Shoto remains uninjured because he was only grazed, hence the bruises," Izuku said.
You then noticed the oblong discoloration on Shoto's collarbone, disappearing past his shirt collar.
"Is she Ochako?" You asked, and Izuku nodded.
"The poison is beginning to hurt her. We need to get to the ships. Mine is in my storage shell; I needed to hide it since I landed relatively in the open. Getting it back out will take too long, so we should go to yours. Where is it?"
Shoto pinched the bridge of his nose. "In my storage shell, same as you. We have to find a remote area to take off. (Y/N), do you know of any?"
You thought for a moment. "There's a park near here that's usually deserted around this time. It's not terribly far, but there's a train that goes straight there."
Izuku looked down at Ochako, worry clear in his eyes. "We can't bring her on a train like this. It'll attract too much attention. We gotta move."
"That might be a problem," you said.
Izuku raised his eyebrows. "How so?"
You looked down at your leg. "My leg... It's beginning to hurt. I don't know how fast I can be."
Shoto's expression was serious. "Then we won't run at full speed. It won't do you any good if you injure yourself further."
You glared. "Thanks, I didn't think of that myself. "
You sighed. "You really don't get sarcasm, do you?"
Shoto looked slightly indignant. "Of course I do."
You snickered. "Liar. I was just being sarcastic and you missed it."
"As important as this conversation is," Izuku said, tone rushed, "we have to figure out how to get (Y/N) to that park without hurting her further."
Tokyo's nightlife was beginning to wake up, and a woman in too-tall heels and a little black cocktail dress passed you, applying a liberal amount of magenta lipstick while looking in a compact mirror as she walked. A man and a small giggling woman passed on the sidewalk across the street. Ochako and her injuries would draw attention, and so would you. Your face was a little ashen in the reflection in the window beside you, and your limp certainly didn't help. You knelt with some effort and unzipped your suitcase, withdrawing a watermelon patterned blanket from within.
"Cover her with this," you said and helped Izuku tuck the blanket around Ochako's body. You re-zipped your suitcase.
"That was sweet, (Y/N), but we need to worry about you, too," Izuku sighed.
"I can carry her," Shoto offered, but you shook your head.
"I need to pull along my suitcase, and it would be difficult to carry me and be inconspicuous while also doing that. It's a little too large for me to tuck against my chest."
Izuku frowned. "Then we have to choice but to go slowly. Let's go."
Shoto took the handle of your suitcase before you could protest, almost looking offended when you reached for it as well.
"Focus on moving. I'll take care of this. Don't slow us down."
You gave him a dirty look.
You hobbled after Shoto and Izuku as fast as you could move, and your leg was aching terribly once you'd gotten to the park. To make matters worse, you traveled along the twists and turns for a good ten more minutes until finding a clearing in the trees. You sat down in the grass, pressing your fingers to the tender area, yelping in pain at the sharp sting.
The clearing you'd arrived in was a little off the trail and there was a large boulder in the center of it. The bushes rustled as your arrival startled whatever was lurking inside them. You put your hands on your bent knees to catch your breath, nearly buckling as you applied pressure to your right leg. You didn't need to look at the wound to know whatever was beginning to happen to it couldn't be good. It was beginning to sting.
Shoto extracted the disk he'd used to dispose of the Ripper from his pocket, pressed the button in the center, then tossed it into the air about twenty feet in front of him.
Something began to take shape, slowly materializing into what looked to be an oddly formed jet plane, but far bigger. It took several minutes for it to become solid, the disk throwing itself back into Shoto's waiting hand. The ship was unlike anything you'd ever seen before. It was gunmetal grey with a large streamlined body, red striped painted along the side. The wings were vast and looked like they could be fonded and unfolded. There were several jets lining the underside of both wings. The ship altogether reminded you of some sort of bird of prey, especially with how the nose hooked downwards and the front windows were wide and reminded you of eyes.
Shoto approached the ship, and after he said a string of Ozuran words, a ramp came down. You hesitantly followed him, taking your suitcase from where Shoto had left it and rolling it behind you awkwardly on the grass.
The ramp closed after Izuku carried Ochako onboard, locking you inside. You got that tugging sensation inside that one gets when they feel like they're leaving something important behind. The room you were in was circular and lit by pale blue light. On the side of the room opposite to you, there was a curved door that Shoto opened with a grunt of effort after tugging on the handle for a short moment.
Your breath caught in your throat as you entered the room beyond the door. The cockpit was at the very front of the room, the farthest away from where you stood. There were holographic screens blinking in the walls and in midair, and in the middle of the room was a collection of comfortable looking chairs and a large sofa. The looked to be attached to the ground. The walls were metal as well, but they were painted a mauve color, decorated with strange scrawlings and, in some places, garlands made of species of flowers you'd never seen before, not even in pictures. There was a workbench on one wall, the tools all strapped to the desk's top. There was a door to your left, slightly ajar, and another to your right, which was closed.
Izuku turned and disappeared through the door to your right as soon as he could, and Shoto hurried to the front. You followed, absently taking a seat in a chair diagonal to what you assumed was the captain's chair. You sat your luggage down beside it.
"Put that in that compartment," Shoto instructed, gesturing to a handle on the wall not far above your head.
You leaped a few times to catch it, and it took a few minutes of gasping and straining before Shoto put the suitcases in the compartment for you.
Shoto began muttering to himself in Ozuran, pressing buttons at the front console and messing with the holograms popping up on the glass window in front of him. The ship began to hum.
"Set to multilingual mode," a smooth woman's voice said, and you frowned.
"What's that?" You asked.
"The ship's computer," Shoto said, "I set the language so it the ship detects what the passengers speak and allows them to hear what it says in their language. It picks up brain waves."
Izuku reappeared with Ochako, who looked a little more alert. She allowed him to lead her to the seat beside yours, then to buckle her in. You took the initiative and buckled yourself in as well, following how Izuku did it.
"Hello," you said, and Ochako smiled.
Her voice was weak, but she seemed happy.
"I'm (Y/N)," you said, and Ochako nodded.
"I picked that up. You know my name?"
You made a noise of assent. "Yeah, I was told."
She grinned. "Good. Spares us the extra effort of an introduction. You're a half-breed?"
You swallowed. "I'm still taking that in, but yeah, it appears I am."
"Stand by," the computer said, and Shoto sank into the captain's chair, strapping himself down.
"Cloaking mode on."
Izuku strapped himself down.
The ship began to tremble under your feet, and you curled your feet in your shoes.
"Does this... hurt?" You asked Ochako, and she shook her head.
"Not really. It's a little intense the first time, but if you do it enough, you get used to it. Just hold on tight until we clear the atmosphere and you'll be okay."
"Beginning to hover. Cloaking mode is holding stable. Stand by."
A soft pinging began, and you swallowed your building nervousness.
"Engines preparing. Stand by."
The tremble melted into a shake, and your fingers curled around the armrests of your seat, nails digging into the material.
"Take off in five... four... three... two..."
Your eyes went wide as the shaking became a rumbling hum.
Everything dissolved into noise, though somewhat less of a roar than you expected. You watched as Shoto tapped the displays on the screens, text in Ozuran popping up and disappearing.
You screamed as everything jolted backward, and you felt like your stomach jumped straight to your throat. You watched with wild eyes trees and paths of the park shrank, and the city shrank below you. The pressure was slamming you into your seat, your whole body felt heavy, twice your usual body weight, and you couldn't even scream or lift your hand. The ship tilted up, and you grit your teeth to avoid biting your tongue as the entire cabin shook.
Oh my god.
Oh my god.
The sky was getting even darker than the dusky hue that you'd been seeing before, becoming so black it was almost unfathomable.
The mounting pressure in your ears faded, and your breath found your lungs again.
Then, you could see the stars. At first, there were few, about as much as you'd see in a small town without the city lights, then as much as you'd see if standing in the middle of a desert, and finally, they were everywhere. Your eyes were wide and full of wonder, of shock and slight terror as it dawned on you just how much space you were looking at. It was black and deep and seemed to be completely endless.
Your hair was floating around your head, fanned out in the air, and your necklace was hovering in front of your face. Your feet floated in front of you, and everything felt so utterly and completely light, a sharp contrast to the crushing pressure of before. You wanted to unstrap yourself and let yourself float about the room, bouncing off the walls, utterly and completely weightless.
"Applying artificial gravity."
Your hair fell back around your face and shoulders, and you raised your hand to brush it back.
You watched with awe as the ship circled the earth, as night turned to day, and then it picked up speed.
"Preparing for jump speed."
"You can move around now," Shoto said, and you hesitantly undid your buckles.
Your head was spinning as you stood, and you felt a wave of nausea wash over you.
"Uh," you said, "I don't feel good."
You found a garbage can in the corner and promptly vomited up your lunch, the acid burning your throat.
"Sorry," you croaked.
"It happens to first-time travelers," Izuku unbuckled himself, walking towards you, "it's a little hard to adjust to the switch from gravity to zero gravity and back to gravity again and not get sick if you have no prior experience to it. You'll get better at it."
He helped you up, plopping you down on the sofa. You slumped back against it, head fuzzy.
"I'll get you some water," he said, exiting through the door on the left of the entrance, then reappeared a few moments later with a glass of water.
You took it and drank it carefully, the fuzziness diminishing slightly with each gulp.
"Thank you," you breathed.
"Entering jump speed."
The ship jolted slightly, but not as much as when it was exiting the atmosphere.
"We will arrive at Adraxi in ten minutes," Shoto said, "(Y/N), there are living quarters through the door on the left of the entrance. If you please, go choose an empty one."
You rose, pressing your palm to your forehead as another wave of dizziness crashed over you.
"Okay," you said, shuffling over to the bin where Shoto has put your luggage.
He stepped in front of you, almost effortlessly lifting down the bags. You took the handles.
He nodded, then sat back down in the captain's chair.
You had to pause and lift the bags over the metal threshold, which for some reason made you feel woozy.
How long had it been since you'd been poisoned? About three or four hours? Maybe the poison was to blame for how off you were feeling. You leaned against the wall to catch your breath, then walked down the hall after accomplishing this. It was a well-lit corridor with white walls and a tiled floor, lined with doors. One of them was slightly ajar, and you gently pushed it the rest of the way open.
It was clearly Shoto's room since it was decorated. The room was about the same size as a mid-size dormitory. The bed was in an alcove on the wall opposite you, the alcove itself made up of storage compartments. It was a good-sized bed, large enough to fit two people if they pressed together. It was neatly made with dark blue covers. There was a digital tablet on the bed, switched off. There was also a desk on the wall to your left, bits and bobs decorating the surface, as well as a slim computer that you almost didn't recognize as a computer. There was a low grey sofa across from the desk. On the wall beside the bed, there was a large star map with notes written in white ink, all in Ozuran. There was a door to your right which presumably led to a closet.
You slowly backed out of the room, returning the door to the position it was in before.
You turned to the door directly beside Shoto's bedroom, opening the door with a grunt of effort. The room was identical to Shoto's, minus the decorations. You let your luggage fall beside the desk, then half knelt to unzip the bags, wincing at the spike of pain that traveled up your leg. You pulled a comforter from your bag, spreading it on the bed, then adding the few stuffed animals you'd brought, as well as your pillows.
You then hung a string of lights above the bed, put your laptop on the desk (though you couldn't find a charging port, you'd have to ask about that), and unpacked your clothes. You found that the door on the left wall was indeed a closet, and that there were no clothes hangers. You'd have to ask if anyone had some, or find some kind of substitute. You instead folded your clothes and put them in the chest of drawers in the back of the closet. The ones that didn't fit were placed on top. You also put various soft knickknacks on the sofa, folding small blankets to make it more inviting. You noticed some sort of handle on the wall beside the bed, and you crawled across it to grasp it. It was able to be pushed up, and what was beyond it stole your breath.
It was a window and a large one at that. The view was of the stars, moving past at a quick rate, glittering in the vastness of space. You sat cross-legged on the bed, pulling your comforter up around your shoulders to watch the infinite night, eyes full of wonder as you watched asteroids and stars pass in the distance. You decided you'd leave the window cover open as you slept, because, to you, this type of thing was a view that could never get old. It was occurring to you now how fast the ship had to be going to be passing stars so quickly, to be passing so much in so little time. It was faster than anything you'd ever been on, and the more you watched, the faster you realized it was.
There was a knock at the door, and Izuku was standing in the doorway. "We'll be there any minute, so get ready to land, okay?"
You glanced back out the window. "Yeah, okay."
You were beginning to feel nauseous, and your leg was now all but throbbing. You pressed your fingers to it, frowning.
You tore your gaze from your leg and stood, wincing at the pressure. You slipped on a pair of sneakers before exiting the room, because if you had to run, you sure as hell weren't doing it in heels again.
You strapped yourself in as the ship warned you of descent, watching out the front window as a planet came into view, a planet with clouds and rocks and water. One side was very very dark, though, as opposed to the other side, which was varying in geography. There was a large storm, it appeared, that took up what had to be several miles of land. The ship jolted as it entered the atmosphere, soaring down towards where the planet's darkness met its light, and then with a mighty thud, it landed.
"Are we on Adraxi?"
"Yes," Shoto said, "we will get you and Ochako treated here. The air is thinner than Terra's, so take this."
He reached into a compartment beside his seat and tossed you a slim mask, one that looked like it would fit over your mouth and nose. You unstrapped yourself and followed Shoto out into the circular room you'd entered in. You fixed the mask over your face, and it immediately extended so soft straps linked behind your head and the back of your neck.
It was very cold on the planet's surface, but Shoto seemed unbothered, even as you began to shiver. Shoto opened a small device with what looked to be a keypad and typed something into it. The ground suddenly split into a staircase leading down, and a girl popped her head up. She was the first one of the aliens you'd seen so far to look truly like an alien, save for the Ripper. She had bright pink skin and wild pink hair from which yellow horns sprouted from. Her scleras were completely black, her irises yellow.
She was wearing some sort of shimmery dress that reached her mid-thigh. It had a high collar and was sleeveless, exposing the toned expanses of the girl's arms. The dress was layered over a pair of metallic leggings with a pair of black knee-high boots with thick soles.
She smiled broadly when she saw you and the others, but it fathered when she saw the state Ochako was in.
She muttered something in another strange language, and Shoto answered in the same.
"Human?" She suddenly said, in English, which took you by surprise. You scrambled for the words to answer her, assuming she didn't speak Japanese.
"Yes," you said, "half-human, half Ozuran."
She chuckled. "What's your name?"
"It's (Y/N)," you said.
You spoke English well enough, at least according to you. It was your minor, after all, which was convenient.
"You speak it well. Do you speak other languages?"
You nodded. "I do, my native language is Japanese."
The girl gave you the radiant grin again. "My Japanese is very poor, I'm afraid. I love Terra, and Japanese fashion is one of my all-time favorite things, so I really should learn more about how to speak it. My name is a little long, so you can just call me Mina for short."
She looked over at Ochako, at the bandages around Izuku's arm, and at the odd position you were standing in to avoid putting too much weight on your injured leg.
"A Ripper happened," Shoto said, "I have it in my storage shell. I'm not certain that it's dead, they're annoyingly tough. (Y/N) and Ochako have been poisoned. Izuku too, but not as badly. Since (Y/N)'s only half Ozuran, she needs attention before the poison begins to hurt her badly. Ochako has had the poison in her system longer, though, so she needs it fast."
Mina nodded, turning to walk down the stairs. "Follow me," she said.
And you descended into the darkness after her, followed by your new companions.