The demon detective raised his head from behind the newspaper he had been reading, searching for word of interesting and profound mysteries for him to eat.
Sunlight streamed through the large windows behind him. It was a beautiful day by human standards. The office was spotless, each tile pristine due to a recent cleaning by the slaves. The only other resident in the room was Katsuragi Yako.
Nougami Neuro raised his eyebrows. “Yes, slug?”
Brushing off the condescending nickname with practiced ease, the high school detective answered. “I’ve been wondering…about when you eat a mystery.” Her brown eyes narrowed in thought.
“Out with it Yako,” said Neuro. “It would be a waste of valuable energy to have to deduce whatever matter is on your puny mind.”
The high school detective went on. “I’ve been with you for a while now. I’ve seen countless mysteries be solved and eaten by you. It doesn’t faze me in the least anymore.” She frowned. “But there’s one thing I’ve never been able to figure out.”
“When do you eat your mystery? I mean, by now I’ve seen you feed,” she quickly continued, “but other…other humans don’t seem to notice anything different. Not when you use your hellish tools, not when your head turns into its true form. They all act like they saw nothing happen.”
Neuro smiled a slightly-too-large smile, green eyes glinting. Yako looked back at him, getting more and more confused. He wasn’t saying anything. He just continued to sit there holding his newspaper. Nothing had changed. Was that bad? Did she say something wrong? She should probably apologize before he made her lick his shoes-WAAAAAAAUGH!
“What’s the matter, louse?” Neuro said innocently. He had suddenly appeared standing on the ceiling, his head a few inches away from Yako’s, startling her considerably. His happy-blank face was on, complete with a sharp-toothed smile.
“How did you do that?!” the girl demanded, sprawled out on the couch she had fallen backwards onto in shock. “I didn’t see you move at all!” Well, he is a demon, she reminded herself. Maybe he really can move that fast.
“Of course you didn’t,” came his smooth voice from the ceiling. The demon’s face returned to normal. His long arms crossed lazily, as if the whole thing—appearing on the ceiling and all—was nothing special.
“How many tools of the demon world are in my possession?” she heard as a gloved hand latched onto the young detective’s head and harshly pulled upright. “Or is your brain too inadequate to even recall the many times I’ve announced it?”
“Aah! Umm…777.” Yako struggled. The hand let go and she fell down heavily on the couch.
“Correct,” Neuro said as he sank into a crouching position, still on the ceiling. His face remained tilted up and looking at his partner, so he was effectively looking down on her and yet up at the same time. It was a truly disconcerting maneuver.
“I have tools for every conceivable use and purpose, including some very silly ones. What you just witnessed,” his shark grin grew wider, “or failed to, was also one of those 777. You’ve seen this one before, many times.”
A thought seemed to occur to him. “Actually, it may be the most common one you’ve seen. I do have to use it a lot in the human world.”
Yako blinked up at the demon, trying to figure out which tool it was. She had seen so many of his tools, but certainly not all in his possession.
Suddenly the room seemed to be dyed varying shades of red. As she looked above herself, something appeared. An umbrella, colored a sickly green, began to unfold over her head from a white pole and purple attachment. It easily covered both her and the grinning demon on the roof. Once the device had reached its full span, numerous eyes with purple irises opened from slight folds, staring down at the young girl.
“777 Tools of the Demon World – Evil Illusion,” Neuro’s voice proclaimed. “It takes the form of what best can be described as a demonic umbrella. Don’t worry about the eyes looking at you louse, it’s just friendly. It creates a small rift so I can eat my meal uninterrupted. In this tiny space, who knows what the holder of the mystery will see?” He gave another of his frequent smiles. “I imagine they tell very interesting stories to the police.”
“But its most useful power affects those on the outside. You humans can be so very oblivious, but you might notice something if I were to suddenly revert to my true form and attempt to feed. You said that you often saw me standing still near the perpetrator, or that I didn’t do anything? Simply Evil Illusion doing its job. This tool makes it so that anyone watching will see nothing out of the ordinary. Not my real self. And not me using other tools,” said Neuro.
Satisfied at the expression on Yako’s face, Neuro dismissed the tool. The umbrella retracted back and disappeared into thin air, purple eyes closing shut. Last to fade was the unearthly red tint to everything in sight.
The demon chose that time to jump down from his gravity-defying perch. His long body twisted effortlessly, landing on his feet like a cat. “It’s very useful,” Neuro proclaimed, turning to address Yako. “It asks only minimal amounts of Demonic Energy to summon, meaning I can safely use it without the cost offsetting the nutrition that I gain from a mystery.”
His voice became teasing. “However, that does mean that I wasted some energy just now, calling it for no reason. So I’ll be expecting you to fetch me a stellar meal to make up for it, slave number one.” He pointed at her with his right hand, middle finger out.
Yako groaned, seeing that her “assistant” had managed to rope her into another future mess. It wasn’t pleasant seeing so many dead bodies at her age! Of course, Neuro didn’t seem to care at all, simply walking back to his blood-red desk, Troy.
Yako watched him from her seat on the couch. He really did have a lot of those tools, she thought. She had seen ones for practical detective reasons, some for combat, a few for punishments, and many more of them that seemed ridiculous and would never be thought of to serve a logical use.
The high school detective dug out a pile of newspapers to get started on finding the next case as she entertained those thoughts. How did he even come to own those things? Did he collect them all himself, or did somebody in the underworld give them to him? She chuckled at the thought of Neuro answering to a boss. Unlikely. It was hard to picture him being submissive to anyone. If anything, he would be always be the one in charge.
Still, some of the tools were dangerous, like the 7 Weapons of the Demon Emperor. Wouldn't other demons be a little concerned about how he might use them? And 777 freaky gadgets was a lot. A lot to memorize, a lot to learn how to use effectively and at the proper time, and a lot to become adept at.
Although, this was Neuro she was thinking about, Yako reminded herself.
Still, how did he master the 777 Tools of Hell?
The 344th day of the 16th month, Demon Year 666666.
The rust-red ground was littered with midnight-black stones and the pale bones of unfortunate creatures. Small wisps of blood-colored fog floated along close to the ground, desperately clinging to the dirt. The sky gleamed dully with reflected hellfire from the Fields of Punishment. Not a single star was to be seen in the thick slurry of dark clouds above, as if even the small light of hope was hidden far, far away behind them, where no resident of this land could ever know of it. Ribbons of strange light filled with illogical patterns streaked though the perpetual curtain at odd times. It was said that those “scratches” in time and space led to other worlds, even the human one if a demon was lucky. But they were so far away, and so very, very hard to reach.
It was a beautiful night by demon standards. And tonight, Executive Officer Asanteoh “King” Leonfang was in his office awaiting a very important arrival. A leonoid demon, Asanteoh sported a lion’s signature golden-brown mane, which swept over his (rather cute and tiny actually) ears and spilled onto his strong shoulders. His nose was decidedly feline, and between his black lips impressive fangs showed. His head rested upon broad clasped hand-paws, dark eyes staring intently at the door.
The door to the base of Hell’s Disciplinary Action Committee: Order Branch was suddenly opened by a wolf demon with a poorly done half-human appearance. “Hey Boss!” he barked at Asanteoh, gaping mouth drooling stupidly with excitement, “Your new guy’s almost here!”
That was not the arrival Leonfang was hoping for. “I know that, Lucard Throatbane,” The lion demon growled at his subordinate. “Now get over here and calm yourself.” Demons weren’t ones for kind words. “You almost broke the door again.”
“Sorry, King,” said Lucard as he crossed the room over to his superior’s side. “But this is exciting. It’s been a while since we got a new recruit.”
That was true, Asanteoh would concede. No one in Hell looked upon justice and a police force fondly, but for practicality’s sake there had to be some limits. No killing each other off willy-nilly and the like.
The wolf demon tossed a few folders, which Asanteoh had already seen, onto the desk. “He’s a special guy sir. Name of 'Braineater' Neuro. Form: Animalnoid like you and me, boss. Some bird, most likely a parrot. Intelligence: as yet unsurpassed, five stars.” Lucard’s eyes narrowed. “Strength: two stars, three if he’s clever.”
“Well, we’ll fix that right up, won’t we?” murmured Asanteoh behind his folded paws.
“Indeed. Age: Barely over his 1000th year sir. That’s young! Technically he’s a young adult, but still.” Lucard gave a soft whistle. “He’s a prodigy. However, it makes sense that he would be a natural at solving crimes.”
Lucard grinned and tapped at one section of the report. “He has to, you see. Food: Mysteries. Now that’s unique. Never heard of a demon like that before, huh?” His wolfish grin continued, sharp teeth glinting. “His diet makes him a natural asset for us.” Lucard shook his head bemusedly. “What a guy. I wonder how we’ll deal with him, don’t you, King?”
Asanteoh Leonfang said nothing. But privately, he agreed. This “Braineater” Neuro’s mind was a great thing, if the stories and papers were correct. In an honest fight, his physical strength would be no great threat, but that would soon change thanks to the Tools. Combined with this demon’s intellect, they would be even more formidable. But it didn’t matter, the King told himself. This was often how demons came into employment. Left on their own, emerging threats would be dangerous—it was better to recruit those who showed ‘talent’, keeping such demons safely on one's own side, under your control. Especially if they were going to give him those…
What of this demon’s personality? Asanteoh wondered. All great detectives were eccentric in some ways, it seemed. Would he break the pattern, or be the quirkiest of them all? Would he be their ace or their flop? A help or a hindrance? Obedient or Rebellious? Or something else entirely?
Either way, the leonoid thought, he really must be something special to even be considered worthy of the 777 Tools of the-
There was a knock on the door.