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Title: Those Were the Memories [1/?]
Author: Kikiam-sama
Rating: PG-7
Description: Those were the memories of a girl called Kaori, the memories of a man named Raife, and the memories of a certain spider who could never forget them. [Shalnark x Shizuku x OC]

Notes: Raife is an original character. Kaori is Shizuku before she joined the Ryodan. Mire is the member Hisoka replaced, but she really isn't significant. haven't written a 'real' fic for some time now, so please bear with me. At the same time, this is my first Ryodan fic [since really don't like them that much]. Comments are highly needed and accepted.

DISCLAIMERS: Hunter X Hunter belongs to Yoshihiro Togashi. The characters are only being used for fun. No profit is being earned. Please don't sue me.

ADDITIONAL DISCLAIMERS: The Golden Racoon, the Racoon Palace, the Eight Golden Orbs, Spot, and Memeria belong to Elmer A. Damaso, taken from his story Cat's Trail which is published in a local comic entitled Culture Crash. Liu Mao-hsing's legendary cooking utensils and his recipes are taken from Chuuka Ichiban!/Cooking Master Boy and belong to their rightful owners. Those mentioned above do not belong to the author of this fanfic and are only being used for entertainment purposes. THERE IS NO PROFIT BEING EARNED, I repeat. Don't sue me.

Translations:
» Aniki - big brother
» Danchou - chief

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Chapter One » Raife
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It was humid inside the warehouse that day. Despite the cold and desolate look of the place, the temperature was around 32 degrees Celsius, even worse than an ordinary summer day. Outside, the sun shone like a big ball of fire roasting everything that was on the path of its light. There weren't many people in Yorkshin that day, and even the animals were missing. The people preferred to stay inside the air-conditioned rooms to escape the heat while the animals decided to stay in the woods for the comfort of the trees' shade. Only those with real business were on the streets, making the big urban city look like a small ghost town.

I wiped the sweat off my forehead and waited for Danchou to speak. He was sitting on a wooden crate at the center, with twelve of us surrounding him. Usually, we would huddle close to each other, but today, we were no less apart than six inches. We wanted as much space as possible. The heat was making it harder fo us to breathe.

Machi held the front of her shirt and flapped it up and down so she could fan herself. The low collar of Paku's blouse seemed lower that day. Meanwhile, Ubogin had taken off his measly top and so had Nobunaga. Bonerenolf and Colotopi sat on two opposite sides of the warehouse and stayed close to the cool walls. Sphinx was in an argument with Mire, probably caused by the heat. On the other side of the room. Feitan, strangely enough, hadn't taken off a single piece of his heavy clothing, although he also stayed close to the walls. Only Danchou seemed to be in Winter Wonderland for he was still clad in his favorite black trench coat.

Aside from Danchou, there was another person who didn't show much signs of irritation towards the weather. It was Raife. He stood gazing outside the window, thinking, as usual. The bright rays that went through the broken glass didn't seem to matter to him. However, he looked like one who wasn't used to sunlight. His skin was as pale as the sun was bright that day, a contrast to his black raven hair. His blue eyes watched the empty street, being as observant as he always was. He rubbed his long nose, once in a while, to show that he wasn't comfortable at that moment, but that was all. He really wasn't the type to blow his top off like Sphinx or be totally indifferent like Danchou.

I decided to approach him. It was no use staying quiet in such weather.

"You're quiet today, Aniki," I told him. We weren't brothers, in fact, we don't look one bit alike. I was almost as short as Machi while he was almost as tall as Sphinx. My skin was tan while his was almost white. I preferred bright colors for my clothes while he stuck to a dark blue robe. And with the choice of weapons, I used a cellphone while he used a long metal staff with strange rings on top.

"It's just the heat, Shal," he murmured.

"Yeah... 'Can't really see the point why Danchou wants all of us here in such weather."

As if answering his question, Danchou suddenly raised his head and spoke.

"I think it's about time that I begin."

The members of the Ryodan turned their heads to Danchou and listened to what he was about to say. Although he had such a gentle voice and a thin frame, he was able to command twelve ruthless people who seemed to obey no masters.

"The wife of the Prime Minister of Padokia is coming to Yorkshin next week. With her comes her daughter, who carries the key to the Prime Minister's treasure vault in the island of Zebbiri, a few miles north of here. I have long planned to go to Padokia, but I believe that this is a better chance. There would be less bodyguards here, and this is our territory."

We listened to him intently, not missing a single detail.

"The treasure vault is said to contain many items of value: the skull of the first emperor of Padokia; the sword used by Hilenio to murder the dictator of Juyoshi; the Golden Racoon which is said to have disappeared fom the ruins of the Racoon Palace; the magical cooking utensils that were found by Liu Mao-hsing, the youngest super chef ever in Chugoku and there are also his secret recipes. There are also the Eight Golden Orbs of Spot, the greatest thief to have walked the land of Memeria."

Pakunoda raised her left eyebrow and spoke. "And the daughter carries the key?"

"The daughter has an ability to protect objects with her nen. I read in the Hunter website that she creates an invisible barrier around the object, then hides them somewhere. She must be using her nen on the key."

"Gugenka?" I asked.

"Possibly. She can also change the appearance of these objects and camouflage them."

"Henka?" This time it was Raife.

"Most likely tokushitsu." Danchou stood up. "Here is the plan. They will arrive Tuesday afternoon next week. From what I have read, they are looking for bodyguards with enough knowledge of nen to protect the daughter. Shlanark, Raife, you will apply as bodyguards, while Paku will manipulate the ones who will be testing you to make sure that you get in. The two will learn the secret of her nen and where she is hiding the key, then in two weeks, inform us so we can plan a way to stage the attack."

I tensed at the mention of our names. I was going to play a big part in this mission. I was getting pretty excited because I was usually given the brainy role. This time, I was going to be in the scene itself.

"Can't we just break in the vault?" Ubogin asked.

"The daughter's nen also protects the vault. She'd know when we try to get in and take the necessary actions."

"Tricky..." Feitan said rubbing his chin that was covered with black cloth. "If they're this cunning, they obviously have a way to foil up a plan like ours."

"That is possible. Do you have any suggestions?" Danchou looked at each of us. For a minute or two, nobody spoke, which most probably meant that we had none. Raife spoke up.

"Why me and Shal?"

Danchou shook his head. "I just felt that the two of you are most suited for the job."

"Anybody else would have raped the daughter..." Machi said, glaring at Ubogin and Nobunaga.

"Why are they coming to Yorkshin, anyway?" asked Mire.

"Sight-seeing. Even I am puzzled by that reason."

"Surely, there's gotta be more than that," said Raife thoughtfully and rubbed his chin, just like Feitan.

"Whatever the reason is, that is for Shal and Raife to find out."

I sighed then smiled. "We surely will."

"Are there any other questions?" Danchou asked. Again, all remained silent.

"Then, meeting adjourned. See you next Monday for a more detailed briefing. For now, enjoy yourselves."

With those words, the Genei Ryodan dispersed. Nobody spoke, as usual, but there was the aura of excitement and anticipation for another action-filled mission as we left the warehouse. I stayed behind with Raife and sat on the crate beside where he was standing. I looked outside. The sun was almost setting, and it gave a dim orange glow to the sky. It also gave our skins a light orange tint, and it was quite obvious on Raife's pale skin. Well, at least, it was starting to get cooler.

"You're excited, aren't you?" he asked me, gazing outside the window.

"Of course, Aniki," I said with my usual smile. I looked at him. His smile had disappeared. "'Anything wrong?"

"I just have a very bad feeling about this mission."

"Huh?" Sometimes, Raife's 'feelings' were very helpful to us. He had some sort of way to foretell the future. It was quite vague, but it never failed us. "Then tell Danchou."

"Nah. It's nothing. Let's go somewhere else, okay?"

I nodded. He started to walk to the exit of the warehouse and I followed him. We would probably go to a coffee shop or something. However, his words bothered me. He should never disregard his own intuitions. It surely meant something. And the more vague it was, the more importance it had.

We went out to the streets and watched people slowly pour out from their houses. Things were starting to get busier with the lower temperature. City noise and smoke filled the air and neon lights glowed around. At the same time, silly dance music played and got louder with each meter we walked. This was Yorkshin, and it became alive in the night.

However, I still thought deeply about Raife's words. Then, I started to feel the same thing, too.

~Tsuzuku de gozaru yo~
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