Ghost Hunt Fan Fiction ❯ Demon Hunt ❯ The Client ( Chapter 1 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

I own nothing but the plot I created, bending the characters to my will.
A nineteen-year-old Taniyama Mai sighed as she looked dimly at the closed door of Naru's office, wondering when this new client would come out and she could find out if they had a new case. Things were pretty boring lately, just routine haunting of friendly but mischievous ghosts and even the paperwork generated by those cases were finished. Mai had just come in about an hour ago once her last class of the day at the local college had finished; Lin had told her that Naru was in his office with a client; Naru didn't even want tea brought in! `This must be a case that Naru is going to take if he doesn't want a tea delivery to interrupt,' Mai thought, excited by the prospect of actually doing something aside from making tea.
The door to narcissist's office opened abruptly and the narcissus himself stepped out followed by… a young woman? Mai right eye twitched as her interest peaked. Her interest peaked even more when Lin stepped out of his office to talk to the blonde woman.
Mai's interest then shot through the atmosphere when the woman rose up on her toes to kiss Lin right on the mouth! `I can't believe that just happened! I need to call Bou-san and the others,' Mai thought. She was ripped out of her thoughts when Naru looked over at her.
“Mai. Tea for all of us and our guest. Call Bou-san and the others and have them all come over here as soon as they can. Also, I need ---” Naru was interrupted when their client's hand slapped the back of his head.
“Jerk. Didn't Madoka teach you any manners? When you ask someone to do something, at least say `please' if you can't bring yourself to ask in a civilized tone,” the blond woman said gruffly. She pushed a wayward strand of her shoulder-length hair behind her ear, nudging the four chains with charms pierced through her ear. Mai absentmindedly noted that the blue-eyed woman had a large amount of jewelry on her as her jaw dropped and her eyes widened to the size of dinner plates.
“Xue-Lan, be nice to Naru. After all, he is helping you with something isn't he,” Lin asked with a smile as he casually wrapped his arm around the woman's shoulders. Grudgingly, she nodded and glared at Naru one last time before turning to Mai. The brunette assistant warily eyed the client until she smiled and bowed to Mai.
“Sorry, we haven't been properly introduced. My name is Penning Lianette, but as that's a mouthful just call me Ran. You must be Taniyama Mai, the wonderful assistant I heard so much about.”
“Please, call me Mai. You heard about me from who, exactly? And why did Lin call you Xue-Lan,” Mai questioned the newcomer.
Ran smiled and replied, “I was born in Hong Kong to a British mother and a Chinese father, so I have an English name and a Chinese name, which is Feng Xue-Lan. Xue-Lan means `snow orchid', which is why in Japan I go by Ran, as it is also quite similar to Lan. I'll explain why I'm here and the case I brought for Kazuya when the rest of your group arrives, as it'll be easier to explain to situation all at once. Need any help contacting anyone, Mai-chan?” Mai smiled and shook her head. Ran continued, “Well then, while you call everyone you need to, I'll make some tea and any food I can scavenge.”
Mai looked quickly over at Naru before walking to her desk and phoned Bou-san, telling him to come over immediately and to call Ayako. Mai hung up and called John and Masako, telling them the same thing and received an arrival time of about ten minutes, as they were already stopping at the office. Mai hung up the phone and sat down on the couch, joining Naru and Lin as they waited for Ran to return from the kitchen.
“Everyone should be showing up in about ten minutes Naru,” Mai informed him. Naru merely grunted in response and continued looking out the window from where he was standing.
“Don't worry about him Mai-chan,” Ran said cheerfully as she walked into the room with a pot of tea, cups, milk, sugar, and a plate of sandwiches on a tray. “He is just upset about what I asked him to do.” The blonde set down the tray and poured four cups of tea, handing one to Naru and Lin. “Do you take milk or sugar in your tea Mai-chan,” she asked. When Mai replied in the negative, Ran handed her a cup of tea, before taking the remaining one for herself after adding milk. Taking a few sips of tea, Ran moved over to the couch Lin was sitting on and leaned against him. She took another sip of tea and turned to Mai, “By the way, you have five people outside. Are they your friends?”
Mai looked at her startled. Ran chuckled and closed her eyes, wiggling a bit to get closer to Lin before she said, “Don't worry. That is part of what I need to tell you all before I can ask for more help. Lin and Kazuya tell me that you have a few psychic abilities of your own, so this case concerns you as well. Hopefully, you'll help me too.” The door to the office opened.
“Yo! What's the big emergency? I brought Yasu too.”
Mai got up and motioned Bou-san and everyone into the room. “In here, guys. Naru has a case for us and the client is here to explain the specifics.”
Bou-san entered first, “What? A case? Is that why Naru called us here?”
“Excuse me for asking, but why do you call Kazuya Naru,” Ran questioned from her position next to Lin once everyone had entered. Her question and her place on the couch drew stares from everyone.
As Mai handed out tea to everyone and introduced them, she explained the nickname.
Ayako looked at Ran and asked, “So you're supposed to be the client?”
“Yes, I am. Well, sort of. I'm actually here to request the help of Naru and Lin and any other spiritualists that they trust to work with and Naru had Mai-chan call you, so I assume you fit the criteria. My English name is Penning Lianette, but call me Ran. I was born in Hong Kong and am twenty-two this year.” Ran sat up and set down her cup. As she looked over them, her friendly demeanor vanished and she was all business. “I am not a ghost hunter nor am I a spiritualist. I am a demon hunter by profession and calling.”
“I've worked with a demon hunter before, back in Australia. He was helping me exorcise a demon from a possessed man who killed his family under the will of the demon,” John said thoughtfully. Ran looked harder at John.
“You are an exorcist? I see. You would be far more useful than the rest, should you decide to help me,” the British-Chinese said.
“Maybe you should just tell us what is going on,” Masako said.
“Yes, of course; my apologies. Like SPR, I take on cases, but ones that involve demons. I don't drive them out, like Miss Hara does with spirits. I kill demons when they cannot or refuse to listen to reason after harming someone or something. Demons are not like ghosts. They have physical form, sometimes more than one form, and they are as smart as humans. Naru has told me that you have encountered a low-level demon on one of your cases; I believe it had to do with a house that had trapped a man inside who killed all young people and had a blood fetish.”
Bou-san's eyes widened in recognition, “You mean the Kaneyuki house. Are you saying that Urado was a weak demon?”
“Yes, I am. Urado had very little intelligence and only had one goal, one he continued from life into death and after. If you had been hunters instead of spiritualists, you would have had no trouble warding yourselves and getting rid of the pest. Even so, I wouldn't have bothered with killing him and would have burned the house down too, as it wasn't worth the effort to go through with a slaying if burning the house was all it took. You all have great power when dealing with ghosts and such things, but that is why you can't kill demons.”
Ran took another sip of tea.
“I can't do a thing against ghosts and spirits because my soul is so attuned to demons that it blocks out all spirits and all my power is channeled to demons. You are all the same way, but attuned to ghosts instead of demons. Because of my lack of experience and ability to deal with ghosts, I have a problem with my current case. There is a demon I am charged with slaying, but the damn thing is smart; smart and strong. It has surrounded itself with high-level spirits, using them similar to shiki; when I stun them, possessed humans throw themselves in my way. Since they are innocent beings, I can't kill them and none of my charms or magic works on them, so I can't reach the demon. The demon was mid-level in power, but it got a hold of some charms that artificially increase its own power. There is also a contractor involved, which makes it even worse.”
Seeing confused expressions, Ran elaborated. “A contractor is a human, normally a spiritualist or psychic, that has made a blood-bound contract with a demon. In most cases, the stupid human falls victim to the power of the demon and carries out its will, first by obligation to the contract, then because the demon forces them with death threats. Then by choice because the human either has become warped by what the demon has made the contractor do, or because the human has allowed the temptation to overtake the soul and as a result, the human contractor enjoys the jobs the demon assigns. My demon is working with a contractor that is voluntarily doing the demon's bidding. Any questions before I go on? I know it's a lot to take in at once.”
Yasu leaned forward and cleared his throat. “I have two questions, actually.”
Ran nodded towards him. “Please continue. I'll try to clear up what I can.”
“You mentioned that your charms and magic doesn't work on the spirits and the humans. What charms and types of magic do you use? I assume it isn't the same as the warding magic that our group uses.”
“You would be correct. My magic is different. It is a combination of chi manipulation and elemental castings, with air as my main element. My charms are more complicated.” The petite woman pulled up her hair with one hand, motioned to the eight silver chains in her ears and shook the many charms bracelets on each wrist.
“Some of these, like these silver chains in my ears, are personal protection charms and energy stores; others are general and specialized offensive and defensive spells I pre-crafted for commonly used situations and in case of emergencies. A few are weapons I can enlarge with a little chi if I need them. One of the side effects is I tend to sound as though I'm carrying a fortune in loose change around, but if I were to ever rely on surprise I wouldn't be a very good demon hunter in the first place.” She looked around at the others and said, “Anything else before I go on?”
“Why are you after this demon in particular,” asked Bou-san.
Ran's ice blue eyes narrowed and her grip on the teacup she had just picked up tightened to a white-knuckled grip before she set it down hard. Lin pulled the hunter gently back against his chest and clasped his hands over the center of her collarbones, rubbing his thumbs lightly over one of the charms falling from her black choker in a soothingly manner. The blonde softened into Lin momentarily and closed her eyes. A few seconds later, she straightened and the hard look returned to her eyes, though she let Lin keep one arm around her shoulders.
“This demon is the only remaining spawn of a more powerful demon, Ryuukawai, who has been dead for two years now. The spawn, Nakuwai, is too dangerous to be left alive and refuses to be sealed away from humans. Sealing is a painless way to deal with demons that are not evil, but can be controlled. Ryuukawai killed my brother, Lucas, but I killed him in turn; not only was Lucas my brother, my twin brother, but he was my hunting partner and my Sword. I'll try to explain this concept.”
Ran turned to Naru and asked in English, “Do they know about the twins?” She was wary of how to phrase the question, as she knew that John understood English perfectly.
“Yes, they know about Gene,” the head of SPR replied, staying in Japanese. Ran sighed in relief.
“Good. I was afraid of how I would broach the topic without talking about Gene.” She turned her attention back to the other members of the group.
“In Naru's case, the reason that he can no longer handle his power is due to the fact they are too much for his body alone. People like Naru and Lucas usually come in a set, which is where Gene and I come in. Lucas channeled all of his energy through me and manipulated and called whatever he wished, while I reigned in all the excess energy that normally causes the user to pass out and focused the energy going into the spell. Lucas was what is called a Sword and I was his Shield. Swords and Shields are very sensitive to power and the types of power used and can only partner and work together as one pair at a time. In other words, while Lucas was alive I could not act as a Shield to anyone else. Even now, it is extremely hard for me to Shield anyone; Naru is the only one I can Shield when he is unlimited in what powers and spells he pulls.
“We,” she indicated Lin, Naru, and herself, “believe that this is because Naru and Lucas had roughly the same power level and techniques. It may also have to do with the fact that Lucas specialized in fire related summoning and Naru works with lightning-related things; I also focus on air spells and Gene focused on water spells, so we have similar meshing. Surprisingly, opposite elements work better with these things because opposites fill in the gaps for the different weaknesses, sort of the way the ying-yang symbol fits together. Naru, Gene, Lucas, and I had previously worked a few spells together, so that has an effect on the joining.”
Ran cleared her throat and took a few sips of now lukewarm tea. “For this problem, Naru has agreed to act as my Sword and Lin offers his specialties and those of his shiki. All I need from any spiritualists that join me is a path; I need a clear path through the possessed humans and free spirits to the demon.”
She turned to Mai, “Except you Mai-chan. The only way you can help me is using your dreams in case you are contacted and warding magic to stabilize any barriers I put up and act as the anchor. That is where your strengths lie and are perfect for what I need.”
The brunette nodded solemnly and replied, “If that's what you need from me, I'll do it.”
The hunter smiled at Mai, blinked and turned to Ayako. “Oh yes. Ayako, there are tree spirits in the area for you to use, should you decide to accompany me.”
Yasu spoke up with a sheepish look, “I'm afraid I can't help you, as I'm just part of the research team and am not a spiritualist.” Ran smiled softly.
“Yes, I am aware of that. You don't shimmer the way the rest of them do.” Ran sighed and leaned back against Lin. “Do you mind speaking for awhile? The rest is strategy, and you know you're much better at that than I am.” Her blue eyes shifted back to the group and smirked, “My usual style is to gather minimal intelligence on the demon and its location and rush in to kill it. For this bit, that didn't work at all and I need a plan this time.”
With a deep sigh, she pushed herself off the couch and stood. Ignoring the shocked expressions from everyone but Mai and Naru, she kissed Lin. Actually, she kissed him for much longer and much deeper than necessary, but he didn't seem to mind it too much. Pulling away, she gave him a smile and said, “I'm going to go to your office and catch up on some sleep while all of you figure out what you want to do.” She looked over the group, meeting everyone's eyes and continued, “No hard feelings if you don't except. Just know that I won't expect you, nor will I allow you to face another not a spirit or ghost or the like. An answer is needed by tonight though; I can't wait much longer than that.”
With that, the petite blonde woman walked into Lin's office and shut the door, leaving SPR to their decision-making.
Everyone was silent for awhile, thinking over and processing what they had just heard. Yasu broke the silence after an hour.
“So, Lin. Is Ran your girlfriend or something?” Lin looked at Yasu, startled.
“What does this have to do with her case, Yasu,” the tall man asked.
“I already decided to offer my help in doing any research Ran needs, but I'm curious about you two.”
The Chinese man sighed and shook his head. “No, Ran isn't my girlfriend. Years ago we decided that being attached when we were in different countries for so long wasn't fair. We have what you might call an open relationship, though we are only interested in each other. It is a unique situation, but is suits us. Now, can we get back to the matter at hand?”
John looked at Lin and said firmly, “I will help. Ran has my full support. Devils are forms of demons and I swore to get rid of all devils when I took my oath as a Catholic priest and as an exorcist.”
“I'm in too. I don't know anything about demons, but I know spirits and I have a major problem with anyone using them to harm people,” Bou-san added. “What about you Ayako?”
Ayako brushed her hair over her shoulder and remarked, “I'll help Ran; if there aren't any tree spirits, I won't be able to do much except warding magic and charms, in which case I would be in the way. With the trees, I can actually help.”
“Unfortunately, I will be of little use clearing a path to the demon,” Masako said softly. “However, I am willing to wait outside and distribute any spirits you send out and keep any from entering.”
Naru nodded and stood. “Alright then. I'll go and get Ran while Lin fills you in on the strategy we have come up with for this case.”
Mai looked surprised. “Why are you getting her instead of Lin?” Naru looked uncomfortable with the question. Mai looked closer at his face. `Is he blushing?! Why would he be blushing?''
The head of SPR looked over at his male assistant and Lin nodded. “Maybe it would be best if they could watch you two linking as Sword and Shield so they can see how it works and we can avoid more time wasted on explanations.” Naru nodded again and walked into Lin's office, leaving the door open. Everyone watched as Naru shook Ran awake, who was somehow sleeping comfortably curled up on Lin's desk. The blonde rolled over and jumped to her feet.
“Everyone made a decision then,” she asked settling herself back against Lin.
“Yeah, but I think you and Naru have something to do first, right,” Bou-san inquired. The hunter blinked in surprise and faced Naru.
“Are we linking up in front of them?” At Naru's nod, she asked him if you bag was still in his office and he nodded again. With a sigh, Ran go up once again and walked into Naru's office, emerging ten seconds later with a large black duffel bag slung over one shoulder. Without saying anything, she walked into the bathroom. Everyone sitting exchanged glances and looked at Lin and Naru.
Lin just said, “She's changing for the linking.” A few minutes later, Ran reemerged. Jaws dropped as they took in the difference in the fair-haired woman. The casual jeans and flowing top were gone and in their place was a deep gold corset and a jagged edge black skirt that reached a few inches above her knees. Her sensible running shoes were replaced by thick-heeled black motorcycle boots and her hair was bound back in a ponytail with a netting of gold and silver chains and charms over her hair. Her arms were covered in black sleeve-like gauntlets that were secured by gold ribbons. She had two short swords in each hand and handed two to Naru after he stripped off his jacket.
Walking to the side of the room where there was no furniture, they faced each other and then started moving counterclockwise a sword in each hand and held out next to their sides, chanting inaudibly. With each step they took, the air became heavier and charged with their power. After the fourth circle, they clashed their swords together in Xs over their heads and had them meet in the middle of the circle they traced. They stepped towards each other one step at a time, keeping the swords in position until they were flush against each other, panting with the exertion of melding their magics together.
Ran and Naru leaned into each other and slowly brought their faces closer together, still chanting under their breath.
Masako looked on in shock, her eyes huge and her gaping mouth hidden behind her kimono sleeve; Bou-san smirked in a self-satisfied way after glancing at Lin's impassive face. Ayako's mouth had dropped open as she gaped at the sight, while Yasu watched as impassively as Lin; Mai was not so passive and her eye twitched violently.
Ran and Naru leaned closer and their mouths met. For them, there was nothing romantic about it. `In fact,' Mai thought, `it doesn't look like they're kissing. It looks like…they're breathing into each other?'
The sword-wielding duo parted and brought their swords between their bodies and took slow steps back from each other, keeping their swords touching as much as possible. Once only the tips were touching, they took one final step back and stared walking clockwise with the swords back at their sides. Once they completed the fourth circle, Ran and Naru stepped back one more time and turned to face their audience. Ran spoke first.
“It is done.” She took a staggering step forward and fell to her knees. Naru helped her up, unsteady on his feet as well. Lin rushed over to help Ran to the couch, Naru following and collapsing into a seat.
Lin took the swords from their hands and put them back into Ran's bag; he quickly made two cups of tea with heaps of sugar and milk and handed them to Ran and Naru. The two drank gratefully and looked less pale afterward; Lin handed each of them a sandwich and the rest of the group watched as the two devoured three a pieece.
Popping the last bite of her sandwich into her mouth, Ran chewed and swallowed while turning her head to look at Naru. “Well, I wasn't expecting our strength to have grown that much. I almost lost my grip in the beginning.”
Naru just looked at her and said in a monotone, “And you didn't feel the need to inform me that you had developed some Sword magic, so I think we're even.”
Looking sheepish, the blonde woman looked down at her lap. “Well, I couldn't do all defensive work when slaying and I can't Shield anyone else, so I had to use some Sword magic. I stick to spells that Lucas used multiple times with me, though when I call something it isn't even close to being as strong.” A thought struck Ran and she looked up at the quiet narcissist. “Do you still summon Byakko as your contract spirit?”
“Yes. Do you still work with him as well?”
“I do, which is perfect since he is the embodiment of lightning and air. Now, there is just one thing left you need to do for me Naru,” Ran said with a smirk and a mischievous glint in her eyes. Naru warily looked at her.
“Take Mai-chan into your office and tell her.” Without waiting for the smart-ass reply she knew was coming, the blonde grabbed on of Naru's wrists and one of Mai's and practically threw them into Naru's office. She swiftly took one of her bracelets off and hung it over the doorknob.
Sitting back down and snuggling next to Lin, she shared her joke with the rest of the group. “That bracelet is a ward against anything of anyone going in or coming out and protects against physical or mental attacks. Now let's discuss the attack plan while they straighten some things out.”
Lin explained the situation and the strategy for slaying the demon. A few hours later, when everyone had understood and agreed on a plan, Ran opened Naru's door after removing the seal. A few minutes later, a ruffled-looking and blushing Mai exited followed by and equally rumpled Naru, sans blush.
Ran smiled warmly at them, half-embraced by Lin. Then her slayer face wiped away all expression and she smirked darkly.
“Let's go kill a demon.”
Ghost Hunt was written by Fuyumi Ono.
Ran, her brother Lucas, the concept of Swords and Shields, and any magic associated with them are products of my creative writing binge.
Ryuukawai and minions are villains I have created.