She shot up, long hair clinging to her sweat soaked skin. Her pale legs were tangled in her thin blankets and she wrestled it off as she staggered upright and away from her cot. With a sprint in her step, she sprinted to the door and nudged it open before slipping through the doorway. The dim church lighting cast an eerie glow over the floor as shadows danced across the walls, reaching for her as she sped through the main hall. Even abandoned, the church was in relatively good condition... sort of.
Once at the other end of the room, she paused outside base –once the head priests office- and collected herself, all the while praying that no one else was awake to comment on her choice of sleepwear. The weather had grown warm in the month-and-a-half since their previous case and that was enough incentive for her to wear a singlet and shorts to bed. Even though she was grown woman, she still had her insecurities. Not that she'd let anyone know that. Taking a breath, she pushed the door before her open. No one, surprisingly, was there. With a sigh, she stepped into the threshold and moved towards the far wall. It was a perfectly rectangular room, both ends acting as a mini lounge and research areas with seats and a coffee table. Directly in front of her, between two tall windows were make-shift shelves with monitors and equipment stacked carefully upon each other.
Mai was certain that the windows once held beautiful coloured glass that sent rainbows dancing across the room in a mirage of colours. In her gazing, her eyes locked onto the dark space beyond the window, where some of the stained glass was missing, and her dream flashed before her eyes. Just as quickly as it had come, it was gone, leaving her chilled to the bone despite the heat. To distract herself, she focused on the monitors.
Just as she spotted movement on one of the screens, the door to base creaked open and she spun around just as Naru and Lin entered. The men stopped in the doorway, each holding a book and laptop –respectively- and gapped at her. Naru's eyes held an odd glint Mai flushed at and Lin couldn't help the small smile that formed on his mouth at the silent exchange between the young woman and his boss. The brunette grappled for a distraction, swearing she very possibly resembled a tomato, when her eyes grew wide. She rushed towards them and out of base, yelling back as she went. The men followed her as she ducked into her room and slipped on a pair of ballet flats before bolting towards the front door, her gun held firmly in one hand, torch on, as she forced the heavy entry door open. Naru and Lin were hot on her heels as she made her way down a dusty, beaten trail around the side of the church and towards the back of the stone building. The sound of pounding footsteps sounded in time with her heavy breathes.
The wind rushed past the trio as the smell of limestone filled the air before they skidded to a stop in a juncture of the trail. Down both tracks, in the distance, they could vaguely make out tomb stones and Mai shone her light through the thick trees around them. Naru hissed a curse as the light passed over him as Lin looked into the surrounding darkness, the blackness more menacing against the dim glow of their only light source. It was only when the light sputtered and dimmed dangerously that they noticed the thickening fog around their ankle and Mai recalled what John had told them.
With the SPR office refurbished, Roy (Mai's police chief), had kicked her out of the precinct and forced her to 'get along' with her old colleges better. Something about paranormal cases being solved easier if she was with a professional team or something. Ever since Naru and Lin had returned, Mai hadn't been on any police cases – ones involving LIVE suspects- and, while she loved ghost hunting with the team, she felt she was neglecting her other work. After having been reassured that she was, in fact, working on cases that benefited both teams, she reluctantly left the precinct with all her things. She did however see one upside to being in a special police sector. That upside was that she could work with her family again. It had been during her musing that she had checked her e-mail and found the case John had sent.
Upon receiving the case however, Naru and Mai had a few things to sort out first. In the day of receiving the e-mail, the pair helped Akito and his fiancé move into 'her' apartment. She had, rather sheepishly admitted to the narcissist that she had simply been house sitting and had accidently admitted she needed to find a place to say. Sufficed to say, Naru was annoyed at her. Considering though that he had moved into his own apartment weeks prior, he offered Mai his guest bedroom (forced is more accurate, not that she was complaining). The pair had argued the entire time that they packed away Mai's things into boxes, hardly noticing the highly amused Omnioji that snickered quietly whenever he passed them, arms filled with items. His excuse to help was that he had the van and was also Naru's neighbour, soon to be Mai's too. (Even though he would have helped if Mai asked anyway. Not that he'd let either of the young adults know that.) It was only two days later that Mai showed Naru the e-mail, to which the entered another argument about her forgetfulness.
The case was at an old graveyard on the outskirts of Shibuya, an abandoned church on the grounds, to act as their temporary home, would be fixed up in case the took the job and a list of activity and been added. John obviously wanting to make it easier for them as he himself could not attend to investigation and felt bad that, should they take it, he would not be there as the required informant.
Reports of people being pushed and attacked were some of the more common complaints. Others included sightings of 'Shadow People' which chased people out of the graveyard. Mai hid her panic well despite the foreboding feeling she received upon reading some of the reports. Shadows were beings that died with sin and had, evidently become spiteful spirits that, while uncommon, were viscous and notoriously known by the paranormal society as the 'mischievous tricksters.' Shadow people were members of the ghostly family you didn't want to run into. Right up there with Hell Hounds and boogiemen. Mai just knew those three would be involved in the case somehow.
Despite the area being abandoned however, bodies had started being dug up, open graves littering the once untouched ground. Naru had warned her that it was dangerous to be alone... and his words actually stayed with her like a safety net, ready to drop incase she did something life threatening...
End Flash back
"Oh no..." She whispered, backing into Naru and Lin.
"Mai?" Naru asked, catching her shoulder in his hand but never turned towards her. His hand on her bare skin sent tingles down her spine and she felt safe so close to him. To which she mentally slapped herself for feeling.
"Naru. I think it best we left." Lin told him, his voice firm and laced with warning.
The air grew cold and Naru felt Mai shiver against him, goose-bumps raising rapidly on her exposed skin as eerie giggles filled the air. Shadows shifted against the trees, taking shape slowly... mockingly. It was then that her torch finally died.
"Crap! It's them!" Mai hissed, hands shaking as they holstered her gun, the men not having noticed she had her gun holder around her waist. Both men tensed at her confirmation shuffling cautiously backwards before they turned and walked away. None of them could keep the anxiety out of their steps as the spirits laughed, the sound worse than nails on a chalk board. Nausea rose and fell in them in waves as they sprinted around the church. Once inside, Mai slammed herself against the door, grabbling for the handle as she struggled to pull the heavy wood closed. Naru joined her efforts quickly, easily noticing that the paranormal forces were holding it open, their shadowy claws tearing at the edge of the already splintered wood.
Mai yelped as the door slammed closed, her hand held tightly to her chest. With a wince, the unclenched her hand and extended her arm. Three thin lines marred the pale skin of her forearm, the longest mark stretching from her elbow to the beginning of her middle finger. Blood slowly dribbled from the wounds. The world pitched suddenly, her vision hazy before she collided softly with something. Drowsily, she turned her head and realised dully that she was resting against Naru's firm chest.
"Mai?" Naru asked, eyes narrowed slightly before lifting his hand to her forehead. A sigh left his lips and he glared at her. "I told you not to stay out in the sun so long."
Mai stared in confusion at her boss, ignoring her dizziness and stood up. Her retort was cut short as she wavered on her feet, hand resting gently against her forehead.
"You're an idiot Mai." He chuckled at her weak glare and wrapped his arm around her waist before guiding her to her room. "Only you could get heat stroke."
Lin watched them until they disappeared behind the bedroom door and frowned. Something was up with this place and it wasn't good.