Not five feet away stood Jin with the biggest man she’d ever seen; the man didn’t smell human either. Jin had black pants and a white V-neck t-shirt on. She had gained a few golden accessories too, a gold chain necklace and a few rings.
The giant next to her wore a black tank-top and shorts that extended a little past his knees. He had black sunglasses and white shoes. If Devin was trying to imitate a thug, this was a gangster. Swole and intimidating with black hair and a neatly trimmed beard, he looked like he could crush Jin like a water balloon.
Sora couldn’t speak. What the crap is up with today? Is it meet in front of Sora’s hotel day?!
Jin’s smile broadened as she approached. “Sora, I thought I smelled you nearby. There are also some rather odd scents around here, so I thought I’d check it out. Nice tail and ears by the way, what made you transform out of your human state?”
Sora grinned tiredly and was about to answer when the mountain next to her spoke in a deep, gruff manner. “Yo, D. We ain’t messin’ with the Miami Beach pack, are we?”
Jin’s features hardened as she looked up at the man. “What, ya scared of some dogs, Green? Didn’t think ya were such a punk!”
Sora’s grin became a line. There she goes, adapting to whatever person she’s speaking to. It’s actually pretty amazing.
“Naa,” Green shifted nervously as the people along the sidewalk and street gave them a wide berth. “Ye hear ‘bout Sunny Side gang’s run-in?”
“Pfft, ya know I just landed in da’ Sun. Ain’t no clue ‘bout this Sunny Side gang, sound like dewdroppers.”
“They weren’t like that, but after the Miami Beach pack finished up, they were dewdroppers. Half the group was sent back in pieces. I ain’t want a part in that.”
“This a friend of yours?” Sora questioned, trying to get some answers.
Turning back to her, Jin shrugged, tone shifting. “He helped Eyia and me out with a place to stay and some food. I was going to help him get a friend back as payment. He’s only a quarter Ogre, so he can have trouble with a few Orcs.”
“Orcs … in Miami?” Sora asked in disbelief.
How many monsters are in the city, and, hold on, I thought she didn’t like getting involved in conflicts?
Green nodded gravely. “The Thuggin’ Four. I run the South Heart Gang … the Halin’ Roaches want a piece of the pot, so they snatched one of my crew. Cowards wouldn’t do it themselves, so they brought in the Thuggin’ Four.”
Jin sighed while addressing Sora. “I left Eyia back to protect the rest of Green’s group in case they showed up again. Honestly, if I let her come … let’s just say she doesn’t take kindly to people kidnapping those that help her. Also, the whole incident the other day with the girls in the parking lot … it just wouldn’t be good for Eyia to get involved. We’ll pay you back some other way.”
Green nodded. “Don’t wanna start a big war.”
“I understand,” Sora nodded.
Jin and Eyia are in the monster gang scene now? Eh, more like they got help and are paying it back?
Jin shook her head. “I don’t. Green doesn’t want the war, but if we kill them all, then that’s that. It’s over.” Switching gears, Jin asked, “What’s up with those scents, though? Did you meet with some other monsters around here?”
Sora hesitantly nodded. “I don’t know what kind of monsters they are, but I’m pretty sure they’re a part of Kari’s brother’s gang. One of them was Devin, which I think is pretty high ranked, another was Aiden.”
Green’s face paled. “We should bounce. I’ve heard of ‘em.”
“Man-up!” Jin spat. “I’m hot, so don’t piss your pants! They wouldn’t step up with me,” she huffed.
Features softening as she turned back to Sora, she asked. “That’s two scents, but what about the other?” Her eyes narrowed. “The smell … something extremely dangerous left recently—and if I’m saying that…”
“There was a purple-eyed lady in my hotel that didn’t smell human, but … she really didn’t smell like anything I’ve ever experienced. You might be smelling Nilly; she was here recently,” Sora said with slight concern.
Jin’s face pacified. “Nilly…” She licked her lips before slowly looking around, obviously deep in thought. Her vision centered on Sora, eyes seeming to penetrate right to her soul.
“A fight?” Green asked, tensing.
Sucking on her lip, Jin shook her head slowly. “Nah.” Her tone shifted as she addressed Sora. “You know a monster named Nilly?”
Feeling tingles shoot down her spine, Sora shrugged. “I met her a few days ago. She seems to be following me.”
Green looked lost in the conversation but didn’t interrupt Jin as she seemed to be contemplating something serious. Her eyes shifted down, “Huh, that’s interesting.”
“Do you know Nilly?” Sora asked, hoping to learn something about the mysterious cat.
“Eh, not really. I just heard a rumor once about a Nekomata named Nilly, but it was a long time ago. It’s not that important. What’s up with your appearance, though?”
“Right,” Sora breathed, “my appearance.” Debating whether to tell her the truth, she decided she needed answers from somewhere. “Umm, it may be hard to believe, but I’m turning into a fox. I was a perfectly healthy human girl until like four days ago … the night, well, the night I first met you guys is actually when it started…”
Jin’s eyebrow was raised in question as she mulled around her explanation. “That’s—not normal. You’re obviously a Nogitsune, but there are some very odd things about you that drew my interest. Your spirit is completely out of sync, fluctuating in a very odd manner.”
The girl scratched her neck. “In fact, it’s changed completely from the last time I saw you. I’ve never seen a spirit shift so drastically in such a short amount of time … and it’s like your spirit is forcefully altering your physical form. You’re devouring natural energy like a ravenous void too, way too much energy than you should … way too much.”
Rubbing her shoulders to ease, Sora suppressed a shiver at the thoughts running through her brain. “Umm, Jin … am I possessed by a fox spirit?”
Jin’s studious expression broke into open laughter, tears coming to her eyes. “Poss-possessed? That’s hilarious! Absolutely not. Your spirit is the only one I can see in that body—bizarre beyond belief—but yours alone.
“No, you’re definitely going through a change. When I first met you, it was hardly noticeable, but if I looked closely, I could tell you were a Vulpes, especially your scent. I mistook you for a Kitsune because of the odd way you were absorbing natural energy. You should be grateful to Eyia; I was going to rip your heart out when we left the store.”
Sora’s body went numb at her casual words. “You—were going to kill me?”
Jin nodded without hesitation. “Of course, I hate Kitsune. But when Eyia pointed out you didn’t have white hair, I had to take a double look, and sure enough, you’re a Nogitsune. Shocking in itself, most Nogitsune joined Inari and became Kitsune; you’re a rare breed.”
Sora couldn’t help but feel defensive after hearing Jin’s blatant plan to murder her. “You … don’t plan to kill me now?”
Jin shook her head with a questioning laugh. “No? If I did, you’d be dead. Your cluelessness about Eyia and me seems understandable now, though. You had no idea monsters existed until just a few days ago … that you were a monster?”
Sora nodded. “I’m trying to find answers. My dad won’t be back for a few days, and I was told my mom died in childbirth. What’s a Vulpes, though? You said I was a Nogitsune and a Vulpes?”
“Ah, Vulpes is like your race. You have Húli Jīng, Kumiho, Nogitsune … Kitsune is just a group; you could have a Kumiho be a Kitsune. Kitsune are changed by Inari to be a part of her faction. Each kind of Vulpes normally has their own specialty in magic or feats, but Kitsune have almost every Vulpes talent unlocked by Inari.”
“That’s crazy … how is all this kept secret?”
Jin shook her head. “No clue. I’d suspect it’s the humans that want everything kept quiet; monsters don’t really care—as far as I know. I’ve just recently come into human society after all.”
“In just a few days it seems like my entire world was flipped upside down … I didn’t even know Kari was a monster until just recently.”
Jin scratched the back of her head with a deep frown as she averted eye contact. “Yeah, best to keep Eyia and her apart. This is supposed to be a vacation for Eyia … not a revenge mission.”
“Wait, what’s that supposed to mean? Eyia doesn’t like Kari? Do they have a history?”
Clicking her tongue, Jin breathed through her teeth. “Not with Kari herself, no.”
Green spoke up. “D, we should get over and bust out Ian.”
A sigh left Jin’s lips. “Yeah, sorry to leave so abruptly Sora, but Ian’s probably getting tortured right now. We can continue this conversation later. There are quite a few things about you that interest me.” She waved goodbye as they walked off.
Sora waved after them with a deep frown. Jin left me with even more questions. I still feel like confronting Kari’s a good idea though. I need to find out more about myself, and I feel a drive pushing me that way … instincts? Why would my instincts want me to enter a confrontation with a dangerous monster?
She scratched the base of her ears with irritation. I’m a Nogitsune, whatever that means. The Wiki page makes Nogitsune seem bad or kind of neutral while painting Inari and Kitsune like saints or tricksters. Yet, Jin, a real monster, absolutely hates Inari and Kitsune, while seems perfectly fine with me being a Nogitsune. Devan was even turned on … ew.
Looking around at the crowd of faceless people passing her, she took a deep breath. No more surprise monster visits? Nope, all human. How is that a normal thought? Whatever, this is reality.
Anticipation shot through her body as she made her way toward school. “This one-sided game is over!”