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  1. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 31 Mystery aboard the Cruiser: Part Four Heiji wasted not a moment. Leaning forward he reached for the object in sight only to have it snatched away within a hairs grasp. "Hey!" Heiji glared at Damian who now stood at his side with the discovered booklet in hand. Surfing through pages of the booklet Damian made quick note of its content. "A school year book." Heiji raised a brow. "A year book?" Damian gave confirmation by nodding. "That's what I said." Osaka's teen detective stood to his feet. "How recent?" Damian shrugged; a show of little care. "Does it even matter? I doubt it has anything to do with what just happened to Konya." Heiji who took possession of the book strongly disagreed. "Seemingly relevant or not, everything should be taken into account. When it comes to solving the unknown; something as simple as the misplacement of a streak of grass can be telling." "And what great detective said that," questioned Damian who crossed his arms over his chest. "What's it to you?" to which Heiji replied. "Only ask because I am entirely certain you came up with that just now." Ignoring the discussion altogether he focused back on the task at hand. "This book is dated from seven years ago. The school class being Pinkelton High." "You go there yourself?" "No. But I've heard of it." Investigating further Heiji began flipping through the pages of the book. "You're wasting your ti-" Damian stopped in mid-sentence upon hearing a certain sound. Heiji as well as Aellun heard its approach. "Footsteps.." whispered Heiji. "Someone is coming, and fast!" Aellun made a quick move to his feet. "You two, get behind me!" Pointing his flashlight and stun gun in the direction of the incoming Aellun prepared himself. In a moments time something charged into view, a person. "Stop there! Put your hands in the air!" The person to have slid into view was a young man wearing a pair of goggles that sat atop his forehead. He made an immediate move to raise his hands, clearly frightened. "Officer Aellun, it.. it's just me!" Heiji and Damian looked to one another. Slowly lowering his weapon Aellun caught eye of the face of the person who stood across. "Eljan-kun? What are you doing down here? You were instructed to stay in the control room." "Wait, you know him?" questioned Damian taking a step. Eljan waved. "Hiya, nice to meet cha'." Aellun would confirm the asked. "This here is Eljan, Eljan Hirata." "Hirata? You mean like the captain?" "That'd be right, the cap'n is my father," Eljan relayed. He then looked in the direction of Heiji "But forget about all that, you're here!" Heiji raised a hand, pointing to himself as if to seek confirmation. "Huuuhhmmm.. Me?" "Yessir! I'm like, your biggest fan ever!" Eljan raced over, grabbing hold of Heiji's hand he vigorously shook it. "It is an absolute honor to finally meet you. I.. I still can't believe it, I'm shaking hands with the great detective from the west!" Any doubt from before Heiji now knew who this was. "So this must be the birthday guy." Damian was rather humored by it all. "So Hattori has his very own fan boy, lovely." "I have so many questions I want to ask!" Eljan continued. "Where to even begin?!" "Not to turn you down or anything, but now isn't the best time," Heiji kindly shot down. "Well since no one has asked the obvious then I'll inquire it for myself. Through the duration of this cruise where have you been?" Crossing his arms Damian stared up at the newcomer. "I was in the bridge," Eljan conveyed. "Bridge, as in the Pilothouse?" "Yep." Damian kept pressing for more. "What were you doing in the Pilothouse? Were you alone?" Eljan was becoming increasingly uneasy. "What's with all the questions?" "Standard procedure for a situation like the one we're dealing with," Heiji explained. Wishing for an answer himself Heiji asked for a second time. "Was anyone in the bridge with you?" Eljan shook his head. "After that body was discovered my father left the room and asked for me to stay put until the situation was resolved." "How did you learn of the hanging man?" asked Heiji out of curiosity. "While not as many, like the security room we have a set of TV screens in the bridge that feedback footage of things happening in specific areas on the ship," Eljan revealed. "What an unexpected way to celebrate your birthday with a murder mystery in the mist," Heiji commented. "Huh?" Aellun expressed a look of surprise. "Is that true Eljan-kun? Is today really your birthday?" Eljan gave the confirming nod. "You bet." He then faced Heiji with a look of astonishment on his face. "But how did you know? Gee.. you might just be the world's greatest detective!" "Doubtful to the highest degree," mumbled Damian. Heiji laughed at complimented. "As much as I'd love to say I deduced that very fact, that would be untrue. It was actually the captain who told me, your father." "Wait.. he told you?" "He knew you were a huge fan of mine, thus as a surprise for your birthday he invited me on this cruise so you could meet me," Heiji relayed. "Sorry we couldn't meet under better circumstances." "You kidding?!" Eljan's fists tightened. "Not only do I stand within your company, I.. I get to watch you solve a case first hand!" Heiji showcased a half smile of surprise. "This guy does realize a murder is involved right?" It was all starting to come together in Damian's mind. "That would explain why no one really saw Hattori for the duration of the first part of the cruise, clearly he was instructed by Captain Hirata to stay out of sight." Not a moment more movement was heard from behind. This grabbed all focus. "It's Yuriko-san," Aellun noted. "She's moving," added Heiji. Refocusing back to the matter at hand the three strolled back to where she laid. Watching on in anticipation Eljan rubbed his hands together. "I can't believe it, I actually get to watch Hattori-sama tackle a case live!" Finding a spot beside her Aellun held out his hand, as expected Yuriko grabbed hold of it. Pulling upward Aellun helped her to her knees. "Konya-san, are you ok?" "I.. I think so," replied Yuriko who rubbed the back of her head. Damian would not waste any time in pressing for information. "What happened?" Looking up Yuriko delivered what she could. "It happened so suddenly. One moment I was walking, and the next.. there was a struggle behind." "So you were walking in front of Yasu-san on your way back?" Heiji was left to assume. Yuriko gave the confirming nod. "When I turned around to see what was going on all I saw was that book of hers laying on the ground," Yuriko pointed. Heiji's eyes narrowed ever so slightly, taking into account all that was being relayed. "Then what happened?" "At that point I freaked, so.. so I screamed," Yuriko said. "And that must have been when you got knocked over from behind," Aellun concluded. "Perhaps.." "Question is, why take Yasu-san and leave you behind?" Aellun questioned. "Clearly their quarrel is with Oehi, whoever is behind this," Damian noted. "What we need to answer is if this is all tied to our hanging man." "Given the circumstance, I'm almost inclined to say it is. But we won't know until further investigation," said Heiji. "Whatever the case we better hurry and solve this, I don't believe this is over, not by a long shot." The following second Eljan caught sight of a light, one that sprung from the far end of the hall. "Hey guys, hate to interrupt, but it looks like someone is coming." Taking note of this Aellun stood back to his feet, flashing his light's ray in the pointed direction. "Know who it is?" asked Damian. "Can't tell just yet," Aellun replied. Watching closely he made out who it was as the gap closed. "Oh, it's just Nenjo-kun." "That's one of the cooks right?" Heiji asked. "Correct. He went to go and check the electric panel to see what's been going on with these lights." "Given they're still off I'd conclude his travels amounted to nothing," Damian remarked. "Nenjo-kun, were you able to determine the source of the problem?" Aellun asked. "I was," the cook confirmed. "It appears we're dealing with disconnected wiring." "Disconnected wiring? You mean as if it were cut intentionally?" Nenjo shook his head. "It looks more like it suffered from ware over time. I'd suggest we stay out of that room until someone with experience can go and check it out, there were open wires swinging about, last thing we want is for someone to get hurt. This is all unfortunate given what's been happening." Damian was suspicious. "No way is this coincidence. Some point this evening someone cut those wires." There was no one who could convince him differently. By this time Aellun had turned his sights back on Yuriko. "Can you stand?" "I.. I think so." With a helping hand Aellun helped Yuriko to her feet. "Thank you kind sir." "Let's all head back to the cafeteria, I'd rather we not stand around here," Aellun said. No objections came. Following his lead everyone returned to the cafeteria where they were immediately greeted by the captain. "What happened out there? I was getting worried when you bunch didn't return within the minute," Aldor voiced. "Yuriko-san was attacked, but she's ok for the most part," Heiji conveyed all while shinning a light on Yuriko to showcase her presence. Spotting her friend from across the way Chiasa dashed over into the frame of things. "Yuriko! Are you ok?!" There was a notable relief to be found upon her face. Yuriko responded with an assuring nod. "I'm fine Chiasa. Just a silly hit over the head is all." "Heya; why don't you come over and have a seat? You shouldn't be standing right now." Taking charge Chiasa lead her friend over to one of the many of the tables in the clear. Aldor took a deep breath in relief. "What about the other young lady who traveled to the bathroom as well?" "You mean Yasu-san? That's still up in the air. We can only assume whoever attacked Yuriko-san took her with them," Aellun concluded. This infuriated Aldor. "Dammit! And to think all of this is happening on my watch! On.. on my ship!" "Never you worry captain, I will get to the bottom of this. You have my word," Aellun promised. The security guard then made a move to grab hold of his walkie talkie. Nenjo curiously looked his way. "Who are you calling?" "Yumin," Aellun replied. "He needs an update on the current situation." "Makes sense." "Don't sweat it dad," said Eljan who stepped to the front. "Don't forget we've got the best from the west on our side. No way Hattori-sama won't be able to solve this." "Eljan?!" Aldor was most notably surprised. "What are you doing here?! I specifically told you not to leave the-" "You never told me Hattori-sama was on board. No way I was going to sit around after seeing him appear on the camera feed. I.. I just had to meet him!" "Well as you can see the cats out of the bag, so to speak," Heiji noted. Aldor huffed. "I guess this is one way for my son to meet his idol, no matter who unprecedented it may be." Watching from a distance away Kiyoshi and Saburo couldn't help but notice the absence of a certain someone. Wanting nothing more than to seek answers the pair headed over where they were immediately crossed up by the captain. "What seems to be the problem gentlemen?" Aldor asked. "Yo, where Yasu at?" asked Kiyoshi. "She should have come back by now." Aldor was at a loss for words how to respond. "Well, you see.." Stepping in, Heiji left it to himself to explain the situation. "Here's how it is guys. When returning from the bathroom Yasu-chan along with Yuri-" Aldor would interrupt him. "Hattori-kun, I don't think telling them th-" "We were wrong for withholding information for what was going on from the moment the hanging man was discovered. That ends now." Heiji turned to face the two once more. "Your friend Yasu-san, while she and Yuriko-san were making their way back here they were attacked. We found Yuriko-san lying on the ground." "Yasu, what about Yasu?!" Saburo exclaimed. "Nowhere to be found. We can only assume whomever attacked took Yasu-san with them, for reasons we don't know at the moment," Heiji said. "Then if someone took her, then what are we doing standing around here FOR?!" Saburo shouted. The uproar in speech grabbed the attention of all who were unaware of what was going on. "I wonder what that guy is screaming about?" Kiku said. "Whatever it is it doesn't sound good," Shou voiced. Learning of what conspired there was no way Kiyoshi would not go in search of his friend. "Screw this! If someone has Yasu there aint no way I'm sitting around doing nothin'!" "Right with ya bro," Saburo stated. Without so much as a warning the two set their sights on the door. Only making minimal progress forward Aellun stepped up, blocking their path in attempt to plea with the duo. "Please, you mustn't leave the room. As it stands now we're not entirely certain what is going on right now." "So we're supposed to sit here and do nothing?!" Kiyoshi snapped. "That is not what I was suggesting. Yumin and I are doing all we can to-" "We all seen just how great that's been working out," interjected Saburo. He turned to his comrade. "Let's bounce, Yasu needs our help." "Right behind ya," Kiyoshi backed. Aellun stood firm in his stance. "I'm sorry, but I can't allow either of you leave this room." "Good look with that," said Kiyoshi as he and Saburo pushed past him with moderate difficulty. Captain Aldor watched in despair. "Aellun you can't let them leave this room, if anything happens to them as well I.." "There's not much I could do, no way I could hold both of them back." Aellun for the second time in the past minute radioed the other security guard. "Yumin we've got another problem, you copy?" By this time a number of people were now making their way over, clearly wanting an explanation for what was happening now. Among them was Anna along with her son Samuel. "What's happening now? I demand an explanation!" Anna shouted. "What was with those two just now? Why did they storm out like that?" Kiku was just as curious for what lead to their untimely departure. At this point there was no denying the events that had taken place. "According to Konya-san's given statement on her way back from the bathroom she and Oehi-san were engaged by someone, ultimately with a struggle ensuing," Aldor explained. "That explains the scream we heard." Anna put one and two together. Aoko had strolled over as well. "Shouldn't someone be out there looking for her?" "It will be so. The rest of you I want to remain in this room until the situation is resolved in full. Is that.." Aellun brought his speech to a halt upon spotting four different individuals making a move toward the exit. "Hey! You heard the captain, no one leaves this room!" Damian's eyes flashed in the direction of the person who was now looking to make an exit. The person was none other than Bane. Accompanying him was Bird, Trogg, and the mystery woman he had yet to identify. "What is he up to now?" When Aelluns efforts failed Captain Aldor tried his hand at getting the attention of those who were looking to leave. "Hey, didn't you all hear? No one is to leave this room!" Only taking another step Bane came to a complete stop, his peers elected to do the same. Motioning his head he locked eyes with the captain. "I will no longer limit my energies to this secluded space. You need not worry about us," said Bane. "You can't leave. There's a clear danger aboard this ship, the last thing we want is for anyone else to get hurt," Aellun explained. Bane was not in the least bit concerned. "Let us pray that this person is lucky enough not to cross me, yes?" There were too many moving parts, so much to account for. It was almost as if he was missing a piece to the puzzle. But what? Perhaps having a mind for collaboration could help unravel that mystery. Damian was ready to swallow his pride for the case at hand. Mitsuhiko watched as Damian put distance between them. "Where are you going Damian-kun?" Mistsuhiko asked. "Stay there. This won't take long," Damian replied. From there Bane set his sights back on the door. As he set out to o he along with the rest of his crew exited the room. Aoko was in disbelief. "So they're just going to let them walk out like that?" Kaito shrugged. "Can you really blame them? Doubt they could restrain the big guy, even if they tried. The man's a complete brute." Kaito could see it in her eyes. Aoko was becoming growingly worried. The thought of it was now front and center on his mind. What was going on? As he had before Aellun radioed a message to the other security guard on duty. "Yumin is up to speed on everything that has been going on from our side of things. I'm going to head out and meet him on the top deck." "Where is he now?" Aldor asked. "He is currently on his way to the backup power panel to switch on the emergency lights." "I see." "Listen, in light of everything that has occurred, I don't think you should be traveling the halls on your own," Heiji said. Aellun nodded. "Would you like to assist me?" "Not yet, there is still something I have to do." Eljan couldn't let the opportunity slip. "Count me in. I'll go with you." Aldor glared. "No you're not! You'll be staying in the cafeteria along with everyone else." "Oh come on dad, this is a once in a life time experience!" Eljan argued. "I may never get the chance to help with something like this." "You're staying here, and that's final!" Aldor snapped. "This is something I have to disagree on captain. Of everyone Eljan is one of the few who know this ship well," Heiji spoke. "I think it would be in your best interest to allow your son to assist Aellun-san." "You really think so huh?" "I do." Aldor took a couple seconds to decide on the matter. "Very well. Eljan, you will walk with Aellun." Eljan was most pleased. "Thanks dad." "Keep your eyes peeled, and don't drop your guard. Anything goes south call me, got it?" "That's a guarantee," replied Aellun giving the thumbs up. With that sorted out Aellun turned to Eljan. "You ready?" He nodded. "I am." The two would press on from there. Aldor was surprised by Heiji's decision. "Why did you elect not to go? What is it you still have to do?" "I'd like to have a word with a few of the passengers before I leave," Heiji responded. This came as a surprise. "We already questioned everyone. What could you possibly want to ask anyone that hasn't already been covered?" "Perhaps we weren't asking the right questions." Heiji paused. "Besides, I found something interesting regarding one of Aellun's encounters from before." "What? With whom?" "Kaito-kun," Heiji replied before pushing onward. "Wait.. what was so intriguing about what was spoken between the two of them?" Unfortunately Aldor would not get an answer. Watching him carefully as he approached it didn't take long for Kaito to notice who the detective had his eyes set on. "He's coming towards us," Aoko noted. "Ya.. but why," Kaito wondered. There could only be one reason in Aoko's mind. "He must have more questions for us." Kaito looked to his friend. "They already questioned us before. What more could they possibly want to ask?" "I don't know?" Kaito stared over his friend. "Hey, you still haven't told me the real reason why you invited me on this cruise." Before she had a chance to respond Heiji made his presence known. "Yo Kuroba-san, mind if I have a word with you for a quick sec? This won't take long." Kaito shrugged. "Why not?" The pair stepped off to the side where no one was within ten feet of them. "Lay it to me, what do you want to ask?" "There's just something I wanted to follow up with you about." "Ok.." "When you spoke with Aellun-san before you mentioned crossing a masked man outside of the computer room?" Kaito gave the go-ahead nod. "That'd be right." "The mask in question, can you explain it for me?" "What do you mean?" "What did it look like?" replied Heiji giving clarification. "A hygiene mask, right?" "Damian-kun?" Heiji shifted focus. "Is that your specialty, appearing out of nowhere?" "Am I right Kuroba?" Damian asked ignoring Heiji. Kaito nodded. "That's right! You see that guy too?" "His name is Manabu Yoneda," Damian relayed. "Tsuburaya and I watched as he boarded the ship earlier." "So Yoneda-san had a mask on since the start of the cruise, I see," Heiji said. "Did not see him myself." "You guys thinking the masked guy is the one behind the killing?" Kaito asked. "Can't say for sure, though he's certainly a person of interest," Heiji replied. "I don't want to draw any conclusions until we have all of the facts." Joining the fray was Mitsuhiko. "Speaking of facts there is something you need to know." "Hmm.. what is it?" "I need to tell you-" Damian would cut in before he could finish. "Hold on, just what do you plan on telling him?" "Everything," Mitsuhiko replied. "He needs to know. If there is anyone who can help solve this it's him. He's like.. the second best detective I know." Heiji's eyes narrowed. "Second best?" Mitsuhiko looked up at Heiji ready to reveal everything. "The man we found hanging in the armory, well.. I kinda saw him before he was placed on the ship." Heiji was shocked, as was Kaito. "Hold, say again?" "It'd be best if I started from the beginning. Honestly it was never my intent to be on this ship," Mitsuhiko began. "I was supposed to meet up with Conan-kun and the others over at the Dr. Agasa's." "What altered your plans?" asked Heiji. "Well on my way over I saw someone, a suspicious man. He was wearing a tan coat that had a hood, baggy clothing, and a pair of shades. What made it so strange was the weather, it was really nice out." "And your suspicions lead to you following this man?" Heiji assumed. Mitsuhiko gave the confirming nod. "I followed him for several blocks until they finally reached their destination outside of some construction site. Obviously I kept out of sight," Mitsuhiko continued. "After like a couple minutes of waiting another guy showed up. That's where things started to get interesting." "Can't wait to hear this." "So this man to show up his carrying this silver brief case right, and he says to the other guy 'I'm sure you're anxious to know what I have for you this time?'.." This was very telling in Heiji's mind. "Clearly there is some a level of familiarity between the two. Which leads to this, what was inside the briefcase?" "Not what anyone would expect. It was perfume." A dumbfounded Heiji was speechless. ".. Perfume?" "Ya, he claimed it was the newest addition to their perfume brand. He also went on to say it would be perfect for tonight's occasion, and something about retribution coming full circle," Mitsuhiko explained. "That right?" Heiji thought deep on everything that had been relayed. "The perfumes in question, was there anything spoken about the product specifically?" "Yep. While not much, he did have a name for each canister. The first he called.. I think it was 'The Sweet Death of Quicksand'." "And the second?" "Second Life," Mitsuhiko recalled. "At that point I figured the only thing I had walked in on was a perfume sale, and with that I was about to leave." "And did you?" "Well, ummmmm, things got really tricky from there. You see the guy in the business suit said he had something else he wanted to show the other guy. At that moment they began walking in my direction and.." "What happened?" Mitsuhiko exhaled deeply. "I panicked. The truck I was hiding behind, instead of running I decided to hop into the back that was open at the time." "A genius move," Damian sarcastically remarked. Kaito who had been listening on as well grinned, having an idea for what happened next. "Let me guess, you ended up getting locked inside that truck?" "Once the guy started driving I tried to scream to let them know someone was back there, but no one could hear me. It was almost as if it was sound proof or something." Heiji took mind of that very detail. "Did you try reaching someone using your phone?" "I did. But for some reason there was no service inside that trailer." If there wasn't a reason for suspicion before, there was now. "While I was locked away it didn't take long for me to breathe in a strong odor, one I was familiar with; Clorox." "Clorox? As in bleach?" Heiji asked. "Yes. My first thought was maybe it was product stashed inside the truck somewhere, cus's there were a lot of boxes you know," Mitshuhiko explained. "To keep a long story short during my trip in that truck a large crate fell over at some point, there is no way I could have been prepared to find what was inside." "What was it, a body?" Kaito jokingly asked. Mitsuhiko nodded in confirmation. "It was." Kaito was beyond shocked. "You've got to be kidding me." "Believe it or not the body I discovered inside that trailer was the same man that ended up hanging in the armory of this very ship," Mitsuhiko revealed. "I'm not sure how relevant this detail is, but when I initially discovered the body he was completely naked, not clothed like how he was found in the armory." "Someone obviously took the time to dress him. That only further enforces the fact of a hidden message," Heiji said. "The question to ask; for whom?" "You got me." Mitsuhiko was as clueless on that front. "Anyway, eventually that truck came to a stop. In the process of it all I managed to exit the truck undetected after it was unlocked, it was then that I witnessed that businessman that I mentioned before, hand the crate over to another man, a Stevedore, who then transported the body onto this ship." "And that concludes his journey to how he ended up here," Damian said. Heiji did not speak, opting to remain silent for several seconds. Mitsuhiko did not know how to feel about this. "Is something the matter?" "I must inquire, two things actually." Heiji faced him. "The person you initially followed, you never saw their face right?" Mitsuhiko shook his head. "I was unable to." This led to the second. "They speak any?" "Huh..?" "You gave a rundown of everything the second man said; but what of the person you initially followed? Did they ever speak at any point?" "Well.." Mitsuhiko took a couple moments to think back on the asked. "Now that you mention it, no, I don't think he did." Damian rolled his eyes. "Hardly see how that holds any relevance." Heiji proceeded to asking the second question on mind. "Mitsuhiko-kun, you believed the truck you were riding inside was transporting shipments right? My question is this, did you catch the name brand on the side of the truck? Or even a logo?" Mitsuhiko responded with the immediate nod. "Travelway. I saw the print on the side of the truck after I managed to escape." "Great, we're making headway," Heiji thought to himself. Kaito was ready to chime in. "You followed the shipment onto this ship right? So is it possible you might know who the person was to handle the crate after it was placed onto this ship?" Mitsuhiko shook his head. "By the time I got to the storage room the body had already been removed." "The only thing to find was an empty cooler," added Damian. "What's that? An empty cooler?" Heiji was surprised to learn this. "If the body was inside a cooler than that would further distort the actual time of death of Lukmar Xiene." Things were becoming growingly complex by the second. "From that point on me and Damian-kun went up to the top deck, our goal was to look over everyone who boarded, of course with the intent to see if anyone appeared to be suspicious. By that we could determine who was behind all of that." Mitsuhiko informed. "And what did your sightings amount to?" Heiji asked. He followed that up by pulling out a notepad as he prepared to jot down any notable details. "Not many stood out except for a selective few," Damian replied. "Manabu Yoneda, simply because of what he was wearing. The only others to prompt question at first sight in my mind was Yasu Oehi and her two travel mates. Call it an inner vibe, I just felt they were up to something." "I didn't have the luxury of crossing Yoneda-san myself, so could you describe to me what he was wearing?" Heiji placed the pen's tip atop the paper. Thinking back Damian listed all that he could remember. "For starters he was wearing a ski cap, in this weather If anyone won the award for the; 'look at me I'm a suspect' it was him. Outside of that he sported a thick coat, a set of shades, and a hygiene mask." "That's him! That's the guy I spotted hanging outside of the computer room," Kaito noted. "I'm sure of it." Heiji was sure to list that in his notes before going on to ask another question. "Damian-kun, what of everyone else? What did your observations bring of the rest who you watched board?" Damian didn't see a point. "Does any of that really matter?" "Something seemingly irrelevant could in turn be the key to solving a case. I speak that fact from experience." Heiji responded. Damian shrugged. "In order of the way they boarded; first was Lukmar Xiene, or rather his imposter. The guard asked for his name, they gave it, that was it. Nothing noteworthy. Next was the newlyweds and the blind guy; Taro, Kiku, and Katsuo Yanagi. Everything seemed genuine, Taro introduced everyone, they continued on from there." "Got it," said Heiji writing it down. "Dellmara appeared next. There wasn't much of an exchange outside of her showing identification. Neour Cheon reported soon after, like Dellmara he showed ID and that was it," Damian recalled. "Following them up was Manabu Yoneda, he didn't even need to speak to register to the radar of suspicious." "I can't imagine why," Heiji sarcastically remarked. "Tsuburaya suggested we follow him, but given everyone had yet to board at the time I opted against such a decision, and besides if he had caught onto us trailing him who know what that would have triggered," Damian said. "After our masked friend trotted off Reira Jo and her body guard showed face." "And to think Damian-kun had never heard of Jo-san before tonight," Mitsuhiko stated. "An irrelevant point," muttered Damian before flipping things back to the matter at hand. "The person to appear next on the ramp was Hepperway, the woman who is currently missing." "What was your first impression of her?" asked Heiji. "Hrrmm.. Like most she didn't speak much, after confirming her ID she was allowed on. I can only assume discovering that body put her in a state of shock." "Fair assessment." "Yasu, Kiyoshi, and Saburo boarded next," Damian continued. "Shortly after came Anna and her young son, Samuel." "Umhm." Heiji jotted that information down as well. "The duo to travel up the ramp next was Kuroba here and his girlfriend," Damian continued. Kaito's eyes spun. "Time out! Hold on, Aoko is not my girlfriend." Damian looked at him. "Is she not your friend?" "Of course. She just happens to be a girl who is a friend," Kaito said in his own defense. "Who boarded next?" Heiji asked. "That would be Chiasa-chan and Yuriko-chan," Mitsuhiko replied. "I can't remember all that was said between them, though after they boarded I do remember Chiasa-chan questioning Yuriko-chan about her hair." "Her hair?" "Ya, I guess it was wet for some reason. Don't know why, but whatever the reason it got a laugh out of Chiasa-chan." "Another bit of information that no one cares to know," Damian said. "Anyway, those two were the last to board. Anyone else not mentioned was already on the ship before we started count," Damian informed. "Of course." Heiji was sure to add that to his list of growing notes. A number of seconds past before he was to speak again. "I have one more question. Outside of your sightings of those who boarded, did either of you spot or hear anything that you would deem.. noteworthy?" Damian and Mitsuhiko looked to one another, before facing him once more. "I got nothing," Mitsuhiko said. Heiji then pressed sole focus on Damian. "What about you? Think hard, it could be anything.. something seemingly unimportant as the sound of a whistle." Damian blinked. "What do you want me to say? That I heard a loud splash next to the ship?" "Did you?" "I might have." Heiji placed the pen firmly upon the page. "When?" "Is this guy serious right now?" Damian couldn't believe it. Hoping to satisfy his suspicions he replied. "The first loud splash I heard was shortly after Taro Toda and his family stepped onto the ship, and the second-" "The second? There was another loud splash?" "That one came after Hepperway boarded," Damian confirmed. "Don't see how any of that matters, unless you believe some large fish are in on this scheme." Mitsuhiko chuckled. "Outside of what happened during the boarding process is there anything else you two have to add?" Heiji asked. Mitsuhiko shook his head. "Nope. Nothing comes to mind." "Damian-kun?" He took a couple seconds to think hard on the asked. "Actually, yes," Damian answered. "When we were in the recreation center I overheard a conversation between Neour Cheon and someone else.. a woman. What was said between the two? Well, let's just say it was interesting." "Huh? When did that happen?" Mitsuhiko had no recollection of such an event. "It was when I walked up to the second level, you know.. where I asked for you to remain at the bottom of the staircase." Mitsuhiko snapped a finger. "Oh, so that's when this happened." "You said you heard them, were you not able to see them as well?" asked Heiji who sought clarification. "The door leading to the track on the second level of the gym was locked, so I could only hear them," Damian explained. "Obviously I was able to make out Cheon's voice." "Tell me, what did you hear?" Heiji readied himself for what was to come. "While the full details of it all are still unknown to me, there was a level of distress heard in the woman's words specifically," Damian said. "She mentioned something about it not being a coincidence Cheon, herself, and a few others ended up on this cruise together; even going as far as to refer to some event that happened seven years ago for the reasoning behind their gathering." "Ok.. that's an unexpected twist," Mitsuhiko said. "You said the woman mentioned a few others. Did you manage to catch names?" Heiji was hopeful. "Naba and Mar-kun," Damian answered. "I can only assume those are nick names for two passengers who are currently on this ship." "Did the two go further into detail about this.. event that occurred seven years ago?" "If they did I wouldn't have heard. It was around that time that Hepperway discovered Xiene's hanging body, and of course her screams drew me away from what was being discussed behind those doors." "I see." After accounting for that bit of information Heiji elevated his sights elsewhere. "Kuroba-kun I've got a couple more questions for you if you don't mind." "Ask away," Kaito accepted. "We've already covered the details of our masked friend. I want to take a step back. Can you go over everything that happened leading up to that moment? No need to be detailed, a brief summary if you will." Kaito shrugged, he had no problem with this. "After receiving my room card that's where I headed, along with Aoko. Of course we split given we had separate rooms," Kaito began. "It was after reaching my door that I crossed Chiasa-chan and Yuriko-chan for the first time. After a brief exchange with them I entered my room." "When you spoke with Aellun-san before you alluded to falling asleep for a time, how long would you say that was for?" "I don't know.. twenty, thirty minutes maybe? The thrilling part was that sound that woke me, ya, glass shattering." Heiji found himself drawn in by the claimed. "You heard the sound of glass shattering?" "I was certain it came from outside, so I stepped out onto the balcony." "And..?" "Nothing… I don't know, maybe I was just hearing things. Not long after I heard the shower from the room next to mine. Maybe that's where the glass sound originated?" Kaito assumed. "After gathering myself I left the room, and that's the part where I spotted Manabu-san, our masked man." "I see." Heiji stroke each detail in fine print. "And from there you headed to the pool room?" "After a couple of twists and turns, yes, I eventually made it there," Kaito confirmed. Heiji took that final note. "Oh kay." Kaito crossed his arms. "Anything else you got detective?" Heiji shook his head. "I have no further enquires. If the three of you don't mind I would like this little discussion of ours to stay between us, at least for now." This surprised Mitsuhiko. "Aren't you going to tell the security guards at least?" "At this given time I will refrain from doing so, at least until I'm certain Yumin-san and Aellun-san are not involved," Heiji stated in response. Mitsuhiko was stunned. "Wh.. what?! You think they have something to do with what has been happening?" "I can't say for sure. But if there is one thing to consider, it is the possibility of there being an inside person," Heiji said. "Someone among this cruises' staff is involved in some kind of capacity." "Now that's what you call an unexpected twist," Kaito remarked. "Do you really believe that?" asked Mitsuhiko who inched a half step closer. Heiji would elaborate on his declaration. "Think about it.. the technical difficulties some surveillance cameras have been having on certain floors on this ship, most recently with the blackout of the lights. Coincidence? I don't think so. Whoever is behind this has some knowledge about how this ship operates down to its blueprint." "Your prime suspects the two security guards?" Damian asked. "Captain Hirata, the two cooks, both Aellun-san and Yumin-san, and yes, even the captain's son; they are all equals in terms of possible involvement from where it stands now," Heiji replied. "There is still too much unknown to determine ones guilt." "I imagine since you're sharing this with us bunch you believe we're innocent in all of this?" Kaito assumed. "That would be fair." With nothing more to add Heiji turned his back to the four. "Remember, keep what we discussed just between us." "Where are you going?" Mitsuhiko asked. "The investigation must continue," Heiji simply put. The three watched as the teen detective marched toward the center of the room. Mitsuhiko locked in on his every move. "What does he plan on doing now?" Kaito shrugged. "Maybe a toast?" "Doubtful," said Mitsuhiko. Unknown to them Damian strolled off as well. Once making way to the sought spot Heiji held up the book he had discovered in the hallway. "Can I have everyone's attention?!" Surveying the room Heiji continued only after noting all eyes were now on him. "This book here, I want you all to take a close look." Anna crossed her arms across her chest. "Now just what is this about?" "You got me," said Aoko who was just as clueless on the matter. "Do any of you recognize this book? If you don't have a clear view, feel free to come closer," Heiji continued. Of everyone who stood in the room Kiku Toda and Taro Toda were the first to move forward. Neither recognized the booklet. "I can't say that I've seen that book before," Taro said tilting his glasses "Nor have I," Kiku said. Heiji nodded. "Thanks for having a look." The next to approach was Rosetta who was shaking her head as she closed in. "Never seen that in my life." Matching her eyes with his she inquired further on the matter. "What does this book have to do with anything?" "This book, I found it lying on the ground. No more than a couple feet away from where Yuriko-san was discovered out in the hall," Heiji relayed. Without warning Reira Jo strolled into the center of things with something to add herself. "That booklet, is that Yasu-chan's ? I could have sworn I saw her with that while we were in the bathroom? That has to be her copy." Anna looked at her curiously. "Excuse me, what do you mean by copy?" "A year book for Pinkelton High from our senior year of high school," Reira explained. "Yasu had one with her earlier." This came as a surprise. "You and Yasu-san went to school together?" Heiji wanted to be sure he heard her right. "We did." "Was not expecting that." Heiji was pleased to learn this. "You're sure this very year book belongs to Yasu-san?" "Well, there is one way to know for sure." Reira motioned forward. Upon reaching him she held out a hand. "May I?" Hesitant at first, Heiji handed it over. Now in hand she began flipping through the pages. Heiji was understandably curious. "What are you doing?" "Hold on this won't take long." Reira continued to move from one page to the next, eventually stopping. "Here! Yep, there is no question, this copy belongs to Yasu." The book was handed back to Heiji who immediately looked down at the presented page. "What am I supposed to be looking at?" "My signature," Reira pointed out. "Yasu asked for me to sign, see, right under my picture. I even gave her one of my special edition pens." Heiji noticed a picture of Yasu Oehi as well, clarifying what he had suspected. "So you were classmates after all?" Reira gave the confirming nod. "I wouldn't lie to you detective." Heiji dropped focus back to the book in hand, what he could come to discover would be very telling. Surfing over the several names and faces on the set page he stumbled upon the unexpected "Cheon Neour?! No way, he went to school with them as well." Was it possible that someone else on board the Sunshine had a connection to the Pinkelton High graduates from seven years ago? Coming to the final name at the bottom of the page Heiji would have that question answered. "Xiene Lukmar!" A look of shock now resided on the young detectives mind. It wasn't long before Reira noticed. "Is something wrong?" Now in deep thought Heiji lowered the book aside. "The Pinkelton High graduates from seven years ago aboard this ship; Yasu Oehi, Neour Cheon, Reira Jo, and the deceased Lukmar Xiene. Damian-kun mentioned overhearing Cheon-san discussing something with a woman that happened seven years ago, a conversation that hinted at some level of distress." Heiji began pacing, stringing it all together piece by piece. "What exactly happened seven years ago? Could it be those events are directly tied to what has been unfolding tonight? With every reveal I get one step closer to the truth. Xiene-san is dead and Oehi-san is missing. That leaves Jo-san and Cheon-san as the prime suspects.. still, I can't help but feel. There is something missing. What is it?" To Be Continued
  2. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 30 Mystery aboard the Cruiser: Part Three The grounds covering the school, the park, and even the arcade; no matter where they searched there was no sign of their friend. Conan's concern was now on the edge of its peek. Where was Mitsuhiko? "We've looked everywhere you guys," said Genta. "Where could he be?" "I dunno."" Ayumi was just as worried. Verbal input was unneeded. It was clear Conan felt the same. "He's not at home and failed to meet up with the rest of us like we planned hours ago. We've accounted for all places Mitsuhiko would have likely gone." Now juggling with his inner thoughts Conan brought a hand to his chin. "As much as I hate to admit it, other possibilities have to be considered." The scenario that stood at the top of his mind, kidnapping. If that were the case at the very least they had a set timeline for when it could have occurred along with an idea of where it would have to of occurred. "At some point Mitsuhiko left his house with the intent of meeting us at Agasa's. That's a twenty minute time window, since it would have taken around that time for him to reach the Doc's place." "Hey Conan, what-cha thinking about?" Ayumi asked. Knocked off of his mark Conan responded. "I was just considering the possibility that-" "Guys, standing here won't get us anywhere," interjected Genta. "We need to keep looking!" "But where do we go from here?" asked Ayumi. Genta responded by rubbing the top of his head. "Well.. I hadn't thought that far ahead yet." While Conan hadn't realized it before he noticed that there was one missing from their ranks. "Haibara.." Taking a half step back he turned to spot Ai who stood alone a number of feet away next to a tree. "She's on the phone, who is she talking to?" Curious, Conan walked over. "Conan, where you going?" Genta enquired. Ayumi wasted no time in trailing him. "Let's follow." Finding no reason to object Genta too tagged along. The trio soon reached the large tree in the clear, joining Haibara who had since placed the phone away. Conan asked the questioned that loomed. "Who were you speaking with?" "Dr. Agasa," replied Haibara. "It would seem he received a call from Mitsuhiko's mother." "And?" "Mitsuhiko is fine," replied Haibara pleased to convey. Both Genta and Ayumi cheered in happiness while Conan sighed in relief. "Where was he?" "Well according to Agasa he is currently aboard a cruiser," Haibara relayed. This was not what any of them were expecting to hear. "A cruiser? Like a ship?!" Genta asked. Haibara nodded. "Um hm." This brought yet another question. "What is Mitsuhiko doing on a cruiser?" Conan questioned. In no way was he expecting to get an answer. "There has to be a reason why he didn't tell anyone." "The details of that weren't completely given, at least not to Agasa," Hairbara responded. "The reason we didn't hear from him sooner was because the battery on his phone burned out." "How was he able to contact his parents then?" asked Genta. "He borrowed a phone from someone who was also on that cruiser, someone of familiarity to us all." Conan blinked an eye. "Who?" Haibara revealed the name in question. "Our detective friend from the west." There was no mistaking whom she spoke of. Conan knew exactly who it was. "Hattori.." "I wish I was on a cruiser," Ayumi spoke. "Me too," Genta backed. "He's probably having the time of his life." Haibara looked to the sky. "It's dark. I think it would be best if we all headed home. The last thing we want is for the rest of your folks to start worrying." "You're right about that," said Genta who looked down at his watch. "My dad will probably call to check up on me anytime now." "We've had enough excitement for one evening. We'll all head home, we can meet back sometime tomorrow," Conan said. Genta was the first to take off. "I'll see you guys tomorrow." Haibara stayed at Ayumi's side as the two strolled along. "I'll walk you home," Haibara accompanied. This left Conan who went his separate way. While relieved, he still had multiple questions for how and why his friend was on a cruiser, and with Heiji Hattori of all people. "Just what is going on?" … The process was soon to begin. Holding a picture high into the air Aellun made an announcement for all to hear. "This here is a photo of the missing passenger. I will now call each of you up individually for you to take a closer look." Aellun wasted no time in signaling for the first person to join him at his position in the room. "And you are?" began Aellun as he looked over the listed names in hand. "Inaba Shou," the man relayed. Gaining that bit of information Aellun pressed to the matter at hand, starting off by holding out the mentioned photo for him to take a look at. "You see this man?" Shou responded with an immediate nod. "After boarding myself, he was the first guest I encountered." "And did the two of you exchange words at any point?" "That would be a no sir." "And by any chance did you happen spot him anytime tonight after the initial time the two of you crossed?" Shou shook his head. "Outside of my first ten minutes on this ship, haven't seen the kid since." "I see." Aellun was now ready to press for the real topic of interest. "Tell me Inaba-san, I'd like a rundown of how your evening has gone since this cruise launched." "If you're looking for an exciting story then you have definitely come to the wrong guy," Shou said as he leaned his head into the cushion of his hands behind. "While everyone else headed for the lower levels for activity I remained at top deck, doing what I do every year when I ride the Sunshine, observing the sea." One line interested Aellun. "Excuse me, every year you said?" Shou nodded. "Ehm hm. For the past eleven years I have made it a priority to ride this ship at this time of year." "Why's that?" "It started with my uncle when I was just a boy, he brought me along for a cruise, told me every ride out at sea is a unique adventure in itself.. just to watch the stream of the fish below, the waves of the sea even." Shou paused, looking to the ceiling in those silent filled moments before facing him once more. "He passed eight years ago unfortunately. Even with him gone, this is something I have chosen to continue. Call it tradition if you will." "I imagine you two were close. Sorry for your loss." "No one lives forever." ".. So, at no point did you leave the main deck?" "Not until this gathering." "I see. Tell me, you hear or see anything up top you would have deemed out of place or unexpected?" Shou shook his head. "No, I can't say that I did." Having nothing more to ask of him Aellun cut him loose. "You can go and stand back where you were before. I have no further questions for you." Understanding the situation Shou nodded before doing just that. Aellun wasted no time in waving over the next person to question. "Your name.. you're Kiyoshi-san correct?" The man now standing across from him would nod in confirmation. "Ya, that's right. So what it be? You have some questions for me or somethin'?" "Yes, that's why we're here." "Then what do ya say we get to it? The faster I can get outta here the better." Kiyoshi was anxious. "You cross this guy anytime in the past couple hours?" Kiyoshi looked over the picture of Heiji. "Nope, never seen em in my life." Placing his pen upon the paper in hand Aellun continued. "Tell me, do you recall the very first thing you did after boarding?" "Well obviously I went to the room linked to my key card," replied Kiyoshi. "After setting my belongings down I headed straight to the arcade room where my buddy was already waitin'." After writing that bit of information down Aellun referred to the last given detail. "Your buddy? And who is that, if you don't mind me asking?" "Over there." Kiyoshi pointed over his shoulder. Aellun took note of the individual in question. "And your pals name is?" "Saburo," Kiyoshi answered. After jotting down that bit of information Aellun looked to him once more. "So you were in the arcade, what happened after that?" "Well, we were summoned to this room." "So you never left the arcade room until everyone was instructed to the cafeteria, that correct?" Aellun ran down. "That'd be it." "I see." "Got anything else for me, or am I free to go?" "You may rejoin the others, but no one can leave the cafeteria until all have been questioned," Aellun conveyed to him. Kiyoshi shrugged as he turned back for where he had come. "Whatever you say man." Aellun pressed down to the communications device on his ear. "Hattori-san what do you think?" "A bit snappy, but outside of that he seemed genuine with his responses," Heiji radioed in return. "You think he was telling the truth?" "I believe so. We'll know for sure once we review the tape and have everyone's stories to cross reference. Call for the next speaker." "You got it." Whom would he choose to bring forward next? Taking a quick look his eyes fell on the obvious. "Saburo-san, could you please step over here?" Having himself addressed Saburo moved his way. "What's good?" "Listen up; I'm going to ask you the same set of questions as your friend." "Give it to me straight." Saburo was ready. "First off, have you seen this man tonight?" Seeing Heiji's face Saburo was certain he had not seen him. "Nope." Aellun placed the picture away. "According to Kiyoshi-san the two of you spent an extended amount of time in the arcade room?" "That's right." "If you don't mind me asking, of the two of you who was the first to arrive at the arcade?" Lifting a hand Saburo pointed to himself. "That would be me boss." This was an important detail in Aellun's mind. Saburo and Kiyoshi's stories matched thus far, bringing small room for doubt on their behalf. Unexpectedly Heiji chimed in from the ear communicator. "Yo Aellun-san." Turning his head away from the subject Aellun responded. "Kind of busy at the moment." "Ask Saburo-san if he heard or saw anything unusual on his way to or during his time inside the arcade," Heiji passed. Aellun would do just that. "I have something to ask of you Saburo-san. At any time during the duration of this cruise did you see or hear anything you would deem.. out of the ordinary?" Saburo shook his head. "I can't say that I have. Why? I don't see how that would help with someone who is just missing. For all we know this guy could be sleeping, and that's why he hasn't turned up in a while." "Maybe so." "Anything else, or is this interview over?" ".. Go ahead. You can return to where you stood before," replied Aellun giving him the clear. Skimming through the list of names in hand he called for the next person to approach. "Rosetta Dellmara, would you please join me?" Removing the single earbud in ear Rosetta complied with the asked. "Well, here I am," said Rosetta who raised her hands to her waist as if to announce herself. "I have a couple questions for you. I promise to keep this brief as possible." Aellun began with the expected. "Mind taking a look at this picture? You see this man?" Laying eyes on the photo of Heiji jilted nothing. "I have not," replied Rosetta shaking her head. "Sorry." He moved onto the important topic of discussion. "Could you give me a quick rundown of your activities for this evening before now?" A questioning look arose. "Is any of that really necessary?" "Please, any detail could help in finding the missing." "Well, what can I really say? I spent about twenty minutes in my service room, after getting situated and a change of clothes I headed straight to the gym." "And?" "That was it. I remained there all the way up until your security guard buddy asked for me to report here." Aellun pushed for more. "While in the gym, did you see anyone else?" While she didn't see how any of this information would be of use she answered. "Wasn't really paying attention to all that was going on around me to be honest," Rosetta admitted. "I did however notice a couple people who entered the gym while I was there." Aellun placed the tip of the pen upon the sheet of paper. "Names?" "You expect me to know a bunch of people's names who I just met?" Rosetta laughed. "If you can at least point them out for me that would be great." "First you had Mr. sunshine, he was already in the gym before I even got there." Aellun was uncertain for whom she spoke of. "Who?" "That man who marched off a short time ago," Rosetta conveyed. "Oh yes, Neour Cheon." Aellun wrote down this bit of information. "Anyone else?" "Ya, leather jacket woman showed up within thirty minutes of me entering the gym." Looking over her shoulder Rosetta pointed in the direction of the person of who she spoke of. "Yasu Oehi." Aellun too added her name to the list. "Were there any others?" Rosetta nodded in confirmation. "The only others to enter the gym in my time there was those two boys and that man over there." "Damian, Mitsuhiko, and Taro. No surprise there, this fits with where they said they were when they heard Hepperway-sans screams initially." "Can I go now?" Rosetta was hopeful. After a brief period of silence Aellun finally nodded. "Yes, I have nothing more to ask of you." Proceeding to reinsert her ear-buds Rosetta turned to walk away. "Thank goodness." Following that Aellun felt a buzz from the device in ear. "Hattori-san?" "At your service," Heiji dispatched in response. "So.. how am I doing?" "Not bad, though I'd advice to tone it down just a bit. Remember this isn't an interrogation, so you don't need to press so much," Heiji replied. "Loud and clear." Communication fell between the two as expected. Unexpectedly Reira Jo made a move toward him. "Excuse me; is there something I can help you with?" Aellun asked. "If you don't mind I need to use the ladies room," replied Reira. "I promise I won't be long." Should he allow it? On one hand there was a potential danger present on the ship. On the flip side people would start to get suspicious of the current circumstances if he didn't allow her to go. Aellun took a deep breath. "Go ahead, I'll question you once you re-" "Make that the two of us," interjected Yasu who motioned forward as well. "What, you too?" Not a second more Issuma Sadow joined the growing group. "If I must, as Jo-sama's body guard I wish to assist her." Aellun sighed. "Why not. Just make sure you all come back once you're all done." Issuma nodded. "You have my word." He then looked to the two beside him. "Ladies, you ready?" From there the three of them walked toward the exit. In the time of this happening Aellun made the obvious call. "Hattori-san listen, I want you to keep an eye on those three. If anything alarming occurs alert me as well as Yumin." "I can do that," assured Heiji. Little by little the scattered pieces to the puzzle were beginning to shape into form. In the end, would it lead to the reveal of the killer? ….. The Recreation Center The burning surge in his arms could now be felt. Finding the strength to reel upward for a final time Neour exhaled before placing the bar back into place. Sitting up he reached for the towel positioned on his left. After wiping the sweat from his forehead he took a sip of water from his water bottle that had been set aside. "Mind if I join you?" Neour looked up to find security guard Yumin. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised." "I have a few questions, and then I'll be on my way. Is that ok with you?" Not once dropping eye contact Neour took another sip. "Go on, ask away." "Let's start from when the ship officially left the dock. Between then leading up until now.. you cross him?" Yumin would then go on to hold out a photo. Reluctant at first, Neour would eventually accept the picture into hand. He took one quick look at the photo before handing it back. "Na." "Are you sure?" "Never seen that kid in my life," Neour denied. Yumin studied him closely, he seemed truthful in his words from what he gathered. "Ok, how about this? Have you heard or witnessed anything tonight you would deem strange?" Neour took a moment to think on the posed. "No, I can't say I have." "Positive?" Neour looked at him in a questioning manner. "What is this really about? All these questions, I hardly see how any of them would be relevant to finding that guy in the.." he paused momentarily before taking a deep breath. "The photo." "Something that may seem irrelevant could very well turn out to be the opposite. You seem a little out of breath, you ok?" Neour wiped a spot of sweat from his left cheek. "I'm fine. Now, you got anything else for me? If not I'd gladly appreciate if you'd allow me to resume my routine." No words were spoken for a couple seconds. Yumin nodded as he proceeded to take a step back. "If anything comes up or you remember something that you wish to share, come find me." Neour gave him the thumbs up. "Don't count on it." As Yumin walked toward the exit he grabbed hold of his walkie talkie. "Hattori-kun I had a talk with Cheon-san." "And?" "He wasn't exactly the most forthcoming but he did talk." "Was he believable?" "He gave me no reason to doubt. Even still I'd keep a sharp eye on him," Yumin advised. "That applies to everyone," to which Heiji replied. "As it stands now everyone is a suspect." Yumin was curious by his choice of words. "Even me?" "I'm not ruling anything out at this point. If you are indeed innocent like I suspect, then you have nothing to worry about." "I'd expect nothing less from the superintendent's son." Heiji smiled at the complimented. "What now, will you return to the cafeteria to rejoin the others?" "Not until I run another sweep of all levels," Yumin replied. "Hepperway and Yoneda-san are still unaccounted for, finding them is as important as cracking this case." "Stay alert. Either one of them could be involved with the body that was discovered. There's no guarantee this ordeal has reached its conclusion." Heiji had a feeling this evenings trials had only begun. As precaution Yumin pulled his gun from its holster, preparing himself for anything that could pose as a threat. "You don't have to worry about me. I'm prepared. Just remember to keep an eye on Neour Cheon outside of the others in the process of being interviewed." "Never you worry; I've got this all on lock." "Good, that's what I wanted to hear." With nothing more to add Yumin ended the connection between them. "Now to find the missing passengers." … Detective Agency Conan waited patiently ring after ring. Leaning against the wall where he sat Conan lowered his phone as the answering machine emerged once more. There was only one thought that resided on his mind. "Heiji.. why aren't you responding? What could possibly be going on, on that cruise?" The thought of it stuck strongly on his mind. … Aboard the Ship After dousing her hands in soup Reira Jo placed them under the warm shower of water that fell from the faucet. Turning in position Reira spotted Yasu. There appeared to be a look of inquiring intent in her eyes. "Is there something I can help you with?" "Well, if it's not too big of a problem would it be alright if I.. ya know, got your autograph?" Drying her hands Reira tossed the hand of paper towels into the trash near. "Well of course. I see no problem with that." She inched toward her. "Did you have something you wanted me to sign in particular?" Yasu responded by holding up a booklet of sorts. "Yes, I would like for you to sign my school year book." Yasu wasted no time in handing it over. "I left a bookmark in there, you can leave your signature on that specific page." Flipping to the page of choice Reira would then pull out a pen she had stashed away. Yasu's eyes brightened. "Tha.. that's one of your special edition pens! I've been tryna get my hands on one of those for the longest! They're so hard to come by." Reira smiled. "Very well, you can have it." Yasu was speechless. "What, are you serious?!" "It's the least I can do. After all it is fans like you that inspire me to keep pressing forward with my passion." Reira focused back on the book "So is there a specific spot you want me to.." It wasn't until that moment that she realized, a look of shock now present on her face. Reira stared at the page with a blank expression then to Yasu before looking back at the book. "You.. you're Yasu Oehi!" "One and only," replied Yasu proudly pointing to herself. "As to where I want you to sign, that goes without saying." Signing her name Reira handed the book back along with the pen as promised. "I can't believe it's really you. You look so different now Yasu-chan." "And you certainly have made the best out of yourself; strangely you and I aren't the only two on this cruise who went to Pinkelton." Reira was surprised. "What?! Who else?!" "Little Cheon," Yasu conveyed. "As you've probably noticed, he aint so little no more." "You mean that guy who had that outburst back in the cafeteria? That's our Cheon-kun?" Reira was dumbfounded. "Don't feel bad, I didn't recognize him at first either." The bathroom door cracked open seconds later, bringing the appearance of yet another. "Mind if I join you guys?" "Feel free," replied Yasu. Reira nodded her head in Yasu's direction. "Hey, we'll catch up later kay?" "That's a guarantee," Reira replied as she stepped out past the door. Yasu then watched as the woman to enter the room walked toward the sink before placing a purse upon the counter top. "You know, you look kinda familiar. What's your name again?" Pulling out a spray can she aimed upward before releasing it. "Hemmm, much better." She then looked back at Yasu. "You say something?" "I was wondering your name." "Konya, Konya Yuriko," she relayed. "Can't say I've heard that name before. You must just resemble someone I once knew." Yuriko was curious. "And who might that be?" "Can't think of who at the moment." "You're not the only one, it happens to us all." Yuriko would then draw focus back on her purse. Reaching a hand into her bag to grab something the lights throughout the entire bathroom blinked, flickering a number of three times before falling steady once more. "What the hell was that?" Yasu wondered. "You got me," Yuriko said. "Well I'm goanna head back to the cafeteria, see ya'round," conveyed Yasu before going on to leave herself. "Hold up for a min," Yuriko said. "I'm going to come with you." … Cafeteria Several had been questioned about their whereabouts in the minutes that had passed. Damian stood with a stoic look on face. There was only one man in his sights, Bane. Whoever was behind this, it had to be him.. right? "Just what kind of game are you playing, Bane?" The lights in the room began to flicker, lasting for only a couple of seconds. This bothered captain Aldor. "That's the third time in the past couple minutes with those lights. What the hell?!" Making way toward the captain as he raised a hand was one of the cooks. "Yo captain, I can go and check the light panel if you want to make sure everything is ok." Aldor took a moment to think about it. "Sure, go for it Nenjo-san. Hurry back alright, I want everyone here until we find that missing passenger." Nenjo nodded. "Loud and clear." From there he excused himself from the larger group, exiting the room in short. Aellun now stood in thought, mentally recollecting all that had been conveyed to him from each individual. Kiyoshi and Saburo, both claimed to be in the game room the majority of the cruise leading up to the discovery of the body. Rosetta, like Neour noted she was in the recreation center. There was no evidence to dispute the claim. This lead to the last people he had questioned; Kiku Toda and her father, Katsuo Yanagi. They were already in the cafeteria before everyone else had been assembled. According to them they had been here since the cruise took off, along with Reira Jo and Issuma Sadow. Aellun didn't find this hard to believe since Reira and Issuma were present before the gathering to the cafeteria. There were still a number of names to call. Who would be next? Aellun looked down the list in hand. "Chiasa Waitto, you're up next." Hearing her name called the young woman strolled over. "Ayelo," Chiasa greeted. Aellun started off by holding out a picture of the reported missing. "You happen to spot him during your travels tonight?" Chiasa took a hard look at the photo. "Nope. Never seen that dude in my life." Aellun huffed, placing the photo away he preceded to questioning her. "Ok, let's shift gears a bit. Briefly rundown how your night has gone." "Huh? Why?" "Please, any details that you may have, seemingly unimportant or not could play an integral part in finding him." "Whatever you say." While slightly annoyed she would not deny the requested. "So we boarded, then-" "We?" Aellun questioned. "Ya, me and Yuriko-chan," Chiasa replied. "Your travel mate, yes?" Chiasa confirmed this with the go ahead nod. "After we were given our key card we headed for the room." She stopped in mid thought, chuckling momentarily. "Anyway, Yuriko-chan's silly self took us to the wrong room. Right number, but wrong floor. Obviously we eventually got that figured out." "Go on." "So after getting a change of clothes I went to the pool room, it was there that I met Aoko-chan." "What of Yuriko-san, did she join you as well?" "Not initially, she stopped by the cafeteria first to get some snacks," Chiasa replied. "She eventually showed up though." "Did anyone else make an appearance in the pool area besides you three at any point?" "Well.. there was someone in the lap pool across from the one we were in." "You have a name?" "Sorry, never got a clear look at who it was. Oh yah, there was also Kaito-kun. I first met him when we were on the wrong floor like I mentioned a second ago. He showed up at the pool too," Chiasa informed. "He didn't stay very long however." "Do you know what prompted him to leave?" Chiasa shrugged. "I aint got a clue. One moment he was there, the next gone.. poof. Like magic." "When I arrived at the pool to ask you all to the cafeteria you, Aoko-san, and Yuriko-san were the only ones that were in that room. I must ask, while the three of you were together did any of you leave the room at any time?" Chiasa shook her head. "No way, we were having too much fun," she expressed. "I see," said Aellun taking final note. "Ok Chiasa, you're all good." Upon releasing her the cafeteria door slid open. Expectedly Aellun took a look to find Reira Jo and her body guard; Issuma had returned. "Where are the other two?" Perhaps they were strolling close behind? Regardless the process needed to continue, eyeing the list in hand he called for another. "Kaito Kuroba, can you please step forward?" "It's show time," Kaito voiced. Aoko suspiciously looked him over. "What do you mean it's show time? You better not be planning to do something embarrassing." "What in the world would give you that impression?" questioned a grinning Kaito who marched onward. As they passed one another Chiasa winked over at Kaito who simply maintained a smile. The process would remain the same. Aellun began by displaying the photo for Kaito to see. "Did you cross paths with this gentleman at any time tonight?" Kaito shook his head. "That's going to be a hard no." "No one seemed as certain about that as you appear to be," Aellun said as he once again set the photo aside. "Let's get to the next point to cover, your activities since finding your way onto this ship." "My activities?" "Everyone I've called forward has been asked to give a small rundown of what they have done, seen, or heard since boarding. This of course is to help determine the whereabouts of Hattori-kun," Aellun assured. Preparing himself he placed the tip of the pen upon the paper. "Might want to hold off on the script Sparky, I really don't have much for ya. If I'm to be honest, I actually slept for like twenty minutes. After getting up I went to the pool room for a little, after leaving there I was approached by your partner in crime who asked me to come to the cafeteria," Kaito conveyed. "According to Chiasa-chan you left the pool without so much as a goodbye." Aellun stared him down as if to study him. "There a reason for that?" Kaito kept it simple. "Had an important call to take." "Mind if I ask from who?" "A friend," Kaito simply put. "We're collaborating on a school project, one involving a giant bat and a couple of ghost statues." "Sounds lovely." Aellun jotted the detailed down. "Let us back track a bit. Tell me Kaito-kun, was there any point tonight where you might have seen something that could call for concern?" "You mean like that weirdo man I saw standing outside of the computer room?" This drew Aellun's interest. "What was this man wearing?" "A thick coat with an added mask over his mouth. I wasn't able to make out who he was because of all he was wearing." "When did you see this induvisual?" "Can't remember a specific time. But you're free to ask the other security guy, I ran into him around the time of that occurring." Aellun nodded. "I'll check with Yumin on the matter." Kaito watched as he made some notes. "Anything else you want to ask?" Aellun shook his head. "No. You're good to go my boy." He took the time to look over his notes, cross referencing all statements he had accumulated to this point. While not fully clear, a picture was gradually being painted. "It's only a matter of time before all chips fall into place." There was no time for delay. Knowing this Aellun brought focus back to the list of names in hand. Noting a name that had yet to be crossed off of the list Aellun called for their attention. "Enab-san, could you please join me?" Damian's eyes perked as he watched the giant man proceed forward. "Bane.." Aellun put on a smile. As he had with all others; he held up the photo of Heiji. "As I have asked of everyone before you, at any time since you boarded this ship have you seen this-" Bane would snatch the photo out of his hand, a move which ultimately caught the security guard by surprise. Slightly intimidated Aellun cleared his throat. "So.. have you seen him?" Bane took one quick look at the photo before going on to crumple it in hand. Several gasped, this was most unexpected. "Hey! What is that all about?!" Captain Aldor shouted. "Why did you-" Bane would cut him off. "Let us refrain from playing any further games." Aldor put on a look of confusion. "Games?! What kind of game do you think is being played right now?" Turning, Bane glared in his direction. "You may be able to deceive the others, but you're mistaking if you believe you can make a fool of me." Confusion circulated. "What the heck is he talking about?" Akoko voiced. Chiasa shrugged. "You got me." Kaito on the hand rubbed his hands together in growing anticipation. "Oh man. This is looking to get good." Holding out his hand, Bane let the crumpled photo fall freely to the ground. "Let us be honest, if this was just a case of a missing passenger you wouldn't have gathered us all here in the fashion that you have. Simply showing anyone you crossed the photo of the missing would have sufficed. Instead you elect to not only gather us all in one spot but choose to enquire about the events of our evenings? A soft interrogation is how I see it. The question one would pose; why?" Bane felt he had an answer to this. "You see, I presume the circumstances are far more drastic than what you have relayed. The fact you are hesitant to even let someone leave this room unattended speaks volumes. It almost seems as if you feel there is a threat of some level within these walls." Staring into Aellun's eyes, Bane could see he was on the brink of breaking. "Am I right?" "No, that's not it at all!" Aldor denied. "What we have said is the tru-" The captain's words would be cut short by the cafeteria door flying open. The majority gasped in surprise at who stepped into view. "It's him! The guy from the photo!" Kiku pointed. "What the hell is going on," a dumbfounded Rosetta questioned. A stunned Kaito clapped his hands, intrigued above all things. "What a crazy plot twist!" Bane narrowed his eyes over at the newcomer, softly quivering his name through his teeth. "Hattori.." The young detective allowed the door to shut behind before making a move forward. Aellun wasted no time in marching his way. "Hattori-san what are you doing? The plan was for you to observe from the security room." The secret had been broken. "I want an explanation, and I want it now!" shouted Anna who made her presence known. She directed all focus on Heiji. "You said this boy was missing, yet I heard you just say something about him being in a security room. What is this all about?!" "Well… umm," stuttered Aellun who struggled to find words of explanation. Fortunately for him Heiji would take the honor of answering the sought. "Not to worry, I'll explain everything," Heiji promised. Mitsuhiko seemed uncertain about the decided. "You sure that's the right thing to do? I mean.. there is no telling how everyone will react." Damian felt different on the matter. "Is there really anything else he can say? By revealing himself that puts everything into question, he can't afford to give anything but the truth." Noting that all eyes were drawn upon him Heiji went on to reveal the deadly truth. "I'm going to give it to you straight. You weren't all gathered to this room because someone is missing, no.. it is much more complex than that." "What do you mean by complex?" Kiku questioned. There was a long pause. Clearing his throat Heiji spoke what everyone was waiting to hear. "We found a body, that of a deceased man who was hanging from the armory ceiling." Many gasped. There was disbelief. "Are you being serious right now, a dead body?!" Anna was skeptical. "How do we know you're telling the truth?" "There is no reason to doubt this young man's words," spoke Taro who inserted himself into the fray. "I saw the body myself." Kiku turned to her husband, stunned by his admission. "Is that true?" Taro would not deny the fact. "I was in the gym at the time. Out of nowhere the boys and I heard a loud scream," he said pointing to both Damian and Mitsuhiko in reference. "Naturally the three of us ran to investigate what the uproar was all about, and that's when we found him.. hanging." This begged the obvious question. "If someone was killed, don't you think all of us should have been alerted?! That's not something you keep from everyone." "All that would have done is caused an unnecessary uproar, and besides we didn't believe anyone else would be in danger of being attacked," Heiji stated. The comment interested Bane. "And what lead to that belief?" Facing him Heiji answered. "The man who was discovered hanging, given my expertise I'd say he's been dead for at least twenty four hours." "And what expertise is that?" asked Bane honing his eyes deeper into his. "I'm a detective," replied Heiji who proudly pointed to himself. He would then refocus things back to the matter at hand. "In other words the killing happened before anyone boarded this ship." "If that is the case, couldn't the body have been planted before any of us even boarded?" Rosetta questioned. "Definitely not," Captain Aldor spoke with a bold of confidence. "Before any cruise is to launch there is always a full launch ship inspection." "I was part of that process myself," confirmed Aellun. "When I entered the armory earlier this afternoon there was not such a sight to behold." "Meaning the placement of the body occurred after this cruise began," concluded Heiji. Silence fell upon the room. Everyone knew it just as much as the person standing next to them, whoever was responsible was aboard this ship. This left the obvious to ask. "Why?" Kiku didn't understand. "Why would someone do this? There has to be a reason right?" "That's what we're trying to figure-" In the moment of Heiji speaking the lights in the room completely blanked out. "Wha.. what happened to the lights?" "AugghhhaaHHH!" Everyone listened on in shock. "Someone screamed!" Reira shouted instinctively. "It came from the hallway!" Aldor noted. "Already on it." Aellun took off in the rush of the moment as he snapped on his flashlight. "I'm coming too," stated Heiji who followed after him. "Stay here. There's no telling what's going on out there," said Aellun voicing concern. "No way I'm letting you go it alone," Heiji shot down. Knowing he wouldn't convince him otherwise Aellun conceded, besides there was no time for verbal disagreement. Damian too would not allow himself to wait. "Tsuburaya, keep a look out here. I'll be back." As Damian raced along he locked eyes with Bane momentarily. There was no doubt in his mind who was behind all of this. Strolling out into the hall they found her lying face down. "It's Yuriko-san!" Aellun pointed. Making haste he raced to her side to check her condition. "She ok?" Heiji asked. Felling for a pulse Aellun sighed. "She's alive." Flashing a light in the general area he didn't spot anyone else. This was concerning. "Wasn't Yasu-san with her?" "According to Reira-san, she should have been," Aellun replied. "So… where is she?" Aiming his lights ray around the body Heiji spotted a phone lying nearby. There was no doubt in his mind it belonged to Yuriko. Kneeling down he reached for it to make an alarming discovery. "Uhh.. no signal." Placing her phone aside Heiji checked his own to find he too did not have a signal. "Any idea what happened to her?" Heiji jumped at the sound of someone speaking from his left side. "Geez, when did you get out here?" Heiji said aiming the light up to find Damian standing at his side. "Aellun?" Damian pressed once more all while ignoring Heiji. "Can't really say kid, but if I had to take an educated guess I would say she was knocked over from behind," Aellun replied. "Given she was lying face down, I'd find that scenario to be favorable," agreed Damian. What really happened? Perhaps there would be something in the surrounding area that would give a hint? Looking past the body with the aim of his light it didn't take long for Heiji to spot another object no more than six feet away. "What's that?" Keeping his guard up the detective inched past the three beside him, stopping once he reached the item of interest. There it was, lying on the ground at his feet. "A book?" Could this book be the key to solving the case? To Be Continued
  3. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 29 Mystery aboard the Cruiser: Part Two The guard's eyes drifted wide. "You.. I've heard of you. That's right! You're that up and coming detective from Osaka! My niece talks about you all the time!" The young detective advanced forward. Damian's eyes sharpened, following each and every move made by the newcomer. "Him… this must be the guy Inaba mentioned earlier," Damian figured. "Clearly he boarded before the rest of us." As he neared the body himself Heiji took notice of Mitsuhiko. "You're that kid! Hey, is Kud.." Heiji managed to stop himself in mid-sentence. "I mean.. is Conan-kun with you?" Mitsuhiko shook his head. "No, it's just me." He proudly pointed to himself. "The lone Detective Boy ready to solve this case." Heiji was a bit disappointed to learn he was alone. Either way that was of small concern, what mattered was finding out the mystery behind the hanged man. While he hadn't paid it much mind before the detail of it was very prevalent. "This room.. it is notably warm in comparison to the other rooms I've visited thus far," Damian took mental note of that very detail. "Is there a reason for that?" "Hey!" the security guard spoke. "You seemed positive this man was dead, what made you so certain about that?" Heiji raised a hand. "There." Everyone looked to the directed, the placement of the dagger that had been driven into the victims abdomen. The security guard didn't quite understand. "That confirms nothing. Many people can and have survived being stabbed." While he hadn't realized at first, Damian too noted the undeniable evidence. "Blood." Both the security guard and Mitsuhiko looked over at Damian. "What are you talking about?" Mitsuhiko asked. "There is no blood, look," instructed Damian who nodded in the direction of the body. "Think about it, when someone is stabbed, especially in the place our vic' here was wouldn't there be-" It was now becoming clear. "Blood! Yes, there should be blood. Since there isn't that can only mean.." "That's right," Heiji said. "The insertion of the blade occurred postmortem." The question now, why? "Well there's that, that also raises the question for how long he has been dead," the security guard said. "That's quite the question isn't it?" That was something he hoped to determine. Heiji pressed on once more. After only taking two steps he heard a splash under foot. He looked down to spot a puddle. "Water?" Where had it come from? Focus then trailed to the main attraction, the body. Moving another inch forward he held out a hand, placing it upon the deceased's neck as he examined further. The neck was the main area of emphasis; it took little time for him to note something of importance. "So that's how it is." In those quiet filled moments the security guard crossed his arms across his chest. ".. Well?" Heiji lowered his hand back to his side as he turned to face everyone. "He's been dead for at least a day." "AT LEAST A DAY!" both the security guard and Mitsuhiko shouted at once. Damian instinctively narrowed his eyes. "An entire day? Then who the hell was the man I saw board earlier?" Could things be any more sophisticated? "Just what the hell is going on?" There was one more alarming detail yet to be revealed. "From the feel of his body and the fact there is not a single trace of blood on the knife, I'd say our dead man was drained of his blood," Heiji added. Mitsuhiko's eyes widened as he gulped. "Blood drained as in.. like he encountered a vampire?!" "Well.. something like that," Heiji said in short. "Though, that does beg the question of why?" "Try that for this entire situation. Why kill a guy by hanging, and then drain his blood with the finishing touch of planting a dagger in him," the security guard questioned. "This is all so bizarre." "About that," Heiji began as he looked back at the body. "This man did not meet his end by hanging. I checked the marks on his neck, like the dagger they too came postmortem." The surprises just kept pilling. "What?! Then if he didn't die from hanging or being stabbed, then what is the cause of his death?" The security guard questioned. Heiji looked hard and long at the body. "I honestly can't say at the moment." "None of this makes any sense," Damian said aloud. "I saw that man board just like everyone else." "Looks can be deceiving," Heiji spoke in response. "Someone clearly must have disguised their self as this individual." Heiji couldn't help but raise a hand to his chin. "The question is.. why?" Focus drew back to the hanging man. "Looking at it as pieces, rather than as a whole there seems to be some kind of .." "What are you talking about?" the security guard did not understand. Heiji began breaking it down. "A man is killed, then hanged.. stabbed, left for us to find. There is no mistaking it." "Mistaking what?" Mitsuhiko asked. "A hidden message," Heiji conveyed. He lowered his hand, reaching into his pocket to grab hold of something. "Furthermore the victim's apparel seems to give further credibility to what I believe." "What the victim is wearing?" the security guard questioned. The lighting in the room was notably dim, making it hard to make out the fine details from where he stood. Surfing through his pocket Heiji finally made contact with what he was searching for. "Here, have a look for yourselves." Pulling out a miniature flashlight, he pointed its ray of light upon the hanging man. Damian looked over every detail. The victim had on a three piece suit of white and black, the two colors split directly down the center. This was the same for his shoes, one shoe was white, the other.. black in correlation with the black half of the suit. Damian then took note of the placement of the dagger. "He was stabbed directly where the black and white meet." All doubt had withered away. "This detective from Osaka is right, there's definitely a hidden message within all of this. That now leads to.. who is the message meant for? I decipher that; I should be able to figure out who is behind this." If there was anything Damian was certain of, whoever did this was aboard the ship. "I have a feeling our display dead body killer is not done yet. I need to find out who it is before they're able to make another move." One name stood above all others, Bane. Could it truly be him who is behind this all? "Yin, Yang." Those were the words that escaped Heiji's lips as he looked the body up and down. "Dark.. light, the two sides meet at the destination of the blade. Then there's the hanging and the drained blood… only one detail is left unsolved, how did he truly succumb to death?" "So you can't tell what that may be just by looking at him?" Heiji turned to face the security guard, shaking his head as he did. "Unfortunately that's not the case with this one." He nodded, understanding there would be occurrences such as the one they now faced. "By the way, my name is Aellun." "Aellun?" Heiji paused. "That certainly is an unusual name." "My father was never one for the norm, so we'll chop it up as that," Aellun concluded. "Given the circumstance I'm going to need you all to stand outside the room." "Fair enough." Leading the way Aellun, Heiji, Mitsuhiko, and Damian all stepped out of the room to rejoin Taro in the hallway. There was an immediate difference to notice. "Hepperway," Damian said looking from one end of the hall to the other. "Where is she?" "Who?" enquired Heiji who was clueless for whom he spoke of. "She was the woman who was the first to discover the body," Mitsuhiko informed. Aellun looked at Taro. "Did you see which way she went?" Taro nodded. "After you bunch entered the room she strolled that way." He pointed to the left. "Did she say where she was going?" Heiji was hopeful. Taro shook his head. "She said nothing. Though it was clear she was in distress as she walked away." "Understandably so. It's not every day you come across a dead body." Aellun then reached down to grab hold of his walkie-talkie. "What are you doing?" Taro asked. "Contacting Yumin," Aellun replied. "Yumin?" "He's the other guy working security with me for this cruise," Aellun relayed. "I wish for you to all remain here with me. I will have Yumin gather the remaining guests and bring them here. Everyone will need to be questioned regarding this situation." "What about Hepperway-san?" Taro questioned. "I'll leave it to Yumin to track her down and bring her back as well," Aellun responded. "Like everyone else she too will need to be questioned about her whereabouts leading up to the discovery of the body." Aellun raised the walkie-talkie in hand, making the expected call. "Yumin, emergency red, third floor." "Aellun-san, if I may, I feel this is the wrong action to take," Heiji voiced. "I beg your pardon?" Aellun lowered the phone in hand. "If you elect to bring everyone down here and question them about the body it will only bring panic," Heiji stated. "Then what do you propose I do? I can't let this go-" "Call for a roll call," Heiji suggested. "Gather everyone in the cafeteria." "And then what? Getting everyone together isn't going to magically unravel who killed and left this man hanging in the armory, not without questioning everyone directly." "He makes a good point," Taro agreed. "You will question everyone; the key is not to present it as an interrogation. Nor can they know about the murder," Heiji ran down. "Instead you'll simply pass it off as one of the guests aboard the ship has gone missing, which in turn will give you a legitimate reason to question everyone about their whereabouts within the past hour or so. Anyone who comes off as nervous or frazzled during the gathering or questioning process will be our prime suspect, or suspects." "That's genius!" Aellun was fully on board. "So we'll simply say the victim is missing and from there we can-" "No, that won't work." Heiji shot down. This caught most of them by surprise. "What do you mean it won't work, this was your idea after all," Taro felt the need to remind. Of the bunch there was one who agreed with the detective from the west. "Hattori is correct," Damian backed. Mitsuhiko's instant reaction was to look over at him. "He is?" Damian went on to clarify. "That plan would fail for one reason, whoever placed the body there would know Lukmar Xiene has been dead for over twenty four hours," Damian noted. "Thus leading them to determine the whole gathering would be for determining who killed Xiene." Heiji finished. "Exactly. We won't name Lukmar Xiene as the missing party, but rather.." A grin formed across the young detectives lips. "Me." Aellun gasped. "What?! You?!" "Yes," Heiji responded. "If the killer believes you're simply looking for a passenger that is unrelated to their scheme there is a chance they will be far more forthcoming with handing out details about their activities within the past hour, as opposed to knowing they're being set up to give that information." "You know.. you make a really good point." Aellun could not deny this. "Let's say we go through with this, where will you be stationed while everyone is being questioned?" "Would I be right in assuming there is a security room on this cruiser somewhere?" "That would be correct." "Then I'll observe all interactions from there, giving me the option to watch over everyone without anyone being aware." Heiji replied. "Of course if that's ok with you?" Aellun gave it a seconds thought. "That may very well be the wisest action to take." Heiji was pleased to hear this. "Then it is settled." Taro was in full agreement. "The rest of us can study each and everyone's reactions front and center. The guilty person will no doubt reveal themselves in one way or another." It was now time to take action. "I'll call it in," said Aellun who raised his walkie-talkie in hand. "Yumin, do you copy?" Damian and Mitsuhiko looked to one another, both sharing the same thought, would this strategy work in reeling in the killer? "Who would have thought your dead man in the back of a truck finding would have led to this?" Damian said. "To think, you running into that man on the street all happened by chance." Mitsuhiko's mind immediately reverted back to the trials leading to this point. His eyes popped. Damian noticed this. "Something wrong?" "My friends.. my parents!" Mitsuhiko yelped. "I almost forgot, no one knows I'm here! They must be really worried." Damian didn't see the problem. "Then why don't you call them?" "My phone's battery ran out," Mitsuhiko reminded. Overhearing their conversation Heiji stepped up. "Here, you're free to use mine," the detective offered. Mitsuhiko's face lit up. "What? Really?! Thanks a lot!" Mitsuhiko happily accepted the phone in hand. Damian who now stood off to the side had only two things on his mind. "Who killed that man? And what is their end game?" The same thought sat at the top of Heiji's mind. "No matter what, I will find out who is behind this." … The details of it all weighed heavily on Miwako's mind. Who was Aldor Sunshine? The house that had been discovered in his name… Fun Entertainment Inc, a jug of expired milk, a deck of playing cards, and a receipt for a Kamen Yaiba show. What did it all mean? Who is Aldor Sunshine? Is he truly the one behind the spread of the toxin that had been unleashed on Japan? Miwako tightened her grip around the steering wheel as she came upon a stop sign. Yielding to a couple of pedestrians who walked across she continued onward after they cleared. It was now all fogging into a cloud of clutter. Everything was there; all that remained was to piece it together. "I have a feeling Aldor-san will act again soon. I need to find out what that may be before he can act." The thought of it finally slid to mind. "If there is anyone who can figure it out it's Mouri-san.. yes, I'll bring all I know to him." … Fifteen minutes passed. Many now stood gathered in the cafeteria. Damian's immediate focus turned on Bane who stood a number of feet away. If there was someone to suspect it was him. The boy wonders eyes then drifted to those who stood at the giant man's side. Trogg and Bird, there was no mistaking who they were; the third, a long brown haired woman wearing a white dress shirt and a pair of grey khaki pants. "Who is she?" Damian didn't recognize her. Taking a couple moments to look the woman over he noted her hair was in the process of drying. "Could it be she was the person I spotted in the lap pool earlier?" The door leading into the cafeteria swung open in the following moments. Aellun and the captain of the ship who stood beside him both looked over to spot Yumin, to their dissatisfaction he was alone. Yumin shook his head as he stepped in range of them, looking from one to the other. "Aellun-kun.. Hirata-sama, there was no sign of the remaining two," Yumin conveyed to the pair. "Wherever Hepperway-chan went after discovering the body is a mystery, and Manabu Yoneda has not been seen since he boarded the ship initially." Damian batted an eye upon hearing this. "Yoneda.. that was the suspicious man who was one of the first to board." "Their rooms, did you check their rooms?" Aellun questioned. "Of course," to which Yumin replied. "There was no sign of either of them in their respective rooms." "I see.." Yumin went on to give his full focus to the captain. "Captain Hirata, has Aellun-kun gotten you up to speed on what's going on?" Hirata nodded. "He has; every important detail there is to know. It all makes no sense though, there's still so much we don't know." "How do you mean?" Yumin asked. "The man who was found hanging is someone who apparently boarded my ship just hours ago, yet.. he's been dead for at least a day?" Hirata shook his head in ultimate confusion. "It's a mystery that clouds us all," Aellun said. Those who had been gathered to the room and had no idea why were now becoming impatient. "Hey! What's the big idea?!" Anna called. "Why have you gathered us all here?" "Yah, we deserve an explanation!" Saburo added from another side of the room. Clearing his throat Captain Hirata stepped forward. "Yes, I'd say an explanation is well in order. Listen up, here is the deal," Hirata began. "We have a passenger that has gone missing aboard this ship. His name is Heiji-san, he is traveling with a young boy who wants nothing more than to be reunited with his travel mate." Hirata then went on to point in the direction of Mitsuhiko who sniffled, giving off a display of sadness in his face. Damian was impressed. "Tsuburaya sure is playing his role rather convincingly." "In attempt to find Heiji-san you all have been gathered here for questioning in regards to your activities for the past hour," Hirata relayed. "The safety of everyone aboard this ship is my top concern. Each of you will individually be questioned by either officer Yumin or Aellun, anything you may have heard or seen over the past hour, whether it may seem important or not could be key in finding the missing passenger." "That's all well and said," Anna spoke. "But what's the point? Doesn't this cruiser have surveillance? Couldn't you find out where this Hej guy is by simply checking that?" "A great question, but it is unfortunate for me to inform that our security has been.. sustaining some difficulties in certain areas of the ship," Yumin informed. "That's right, that was mentioned to me earlier when I crossed the security guards," Kaito recalled internally. A couple feet behind Yuriko pulled out a small bottle before going on to spray something. "Uhmmmm.. that smells so good," Chiasa commented. "What is that flavor? It gives off a, I don't know.. variety apple, grape, berry scent?" "Not entirely sure," Yuriko admitted. "Saw it on sale and decided to give it a try." "Hey! Watch where you're spraying that stuff!" Neour angrily grunted. "Not all of us are interested in smelling like a pile of fruit." "Well please do forgive me," apologized Yuriko who rolled her eyes in the process. Neour went on to clutch his fists. "Forget all this. I've yet to finish my reputations for the weight lifting." Neour made an immediate move for the door. "If y'all want me, you know where to find me." "Hey, you can't just leave," Reira stated from where she sat. "Watch me," Neour venomously responded. In short he found his way out of the room. Captain Hirata turned to Yumin who stood right of him. "Yumin-kun, follow him. There's no doubt he's heading to the recreation center." Yumin nodded. "I'll question him in there." From there Yumin followed after the man who had excused himself. Aellun moved to his captain's side. "Shall we get started Captain Hirata?" He nodded in response. "Yes, it is time." Unknown to most Heiji watched on from the security control room through the surveillance feed, intrigued for what he would discover from what was to come. "And so it begins." To Be Continued
  4. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 28 Mystery aboard the Cruiser A mystery man, a truck, a crate, and a dead body. Damian was stunned. Was everything he said true? "And you're certain about all of this?" "I'm not lying," Mitsuhiko assured. "If we go back to the storage room you'll see." "See what?" questioned Damian. "The crate I told you about before, the one where the body was hidden inside," Mitsuhiko began. "It's here on the cruiser. Why else would I sneak onto this ship?" "I don't know.. maybe to get a free cruise out to sea?" "Come on, I'm being serious." Learning this Damian raised a hand to his chin. "So that would explain." "You believe me right?" Of everything that had been learned there was one thing to question. "If all of what you say is true, why not alert the police? Why try and investigate this yourself instead of leaving it to the professionals?" "I was unable to call anyone," Mitsuhiko informed. "Why's that? Do you not have a phone?" "I do." Proving this Mitsuhiko reached into his pocket to reveal just that. "See." "That puts us back at square one. If what you say is true, why didn't you contact the police?" Damian asked. "Your phone ran out of juice or something?" "Over time it did, but not at first," replied Mitsuhiko. "When I was stuck in the back of that truck I was unable to make any calls, there was no service for some reason. It was almost like my phone's signal was blocked." Damian's eyes narrowed. "He's right, his phone's signal must have been jammed while traveling in that truck. That is very telling." Damian looked back at Mitsuhiko. "So the truck finally reaches its destination, and then you manage to escape. What happened next?" "Well.. I." Mitsuhiko began rehashing all that happened following his exit of the truck. "After I escaped I hid behind a large garbage bin, one in the alley the truck was parked in." "Go on." Mitsuhiko nodded. "The driver of the truck returned to the back shortly after." "And what did he do after he came back?" "Nothing," replied Mitsuhiko. This was not the expected answer. "I waited, as did he. A minute passed, then a whole bunch more." "Was he waiting for something?" Mitsuhiko nodded. "Eventually another man showed up, a stevedore." "A stevedore?" It was now all coming together. "And this stevedore transported the body onto this ship right?" "That's right." "I see." Damian turned for the door. "Where are we going?" "To confirm your claims," replied Damian. "Come on." The two stepped past the door leading them back into the hall. The destination was clear, the storage room. Both of them kept an eye out for anyone else roaming the hall. "We're good to go," Damian said. "What's that supposed to mean?" Mitsuhiko asked. "Do you not want us to get seen?" "Anyone sees us heading for the storage room will have questions," Damian replied. "I don't want questions." Continuing onward the pair made a move around the corner. The door to the storage room was now in view. "Almost there." As they neared unexpectedly a door on the opposite wall flew open. The two instinctively stopped as they watched one of the security guards step out. Turning, he immediately noticed the pair. "What are you kids doing down this way, and alone for that matter?" "We were.." Mitsuhiko was at a loss for words. "We are on our way to the pool," Damian stated. "The pool, oh I see!" The security guard laughed. That very moment the door to the storage room opened. Someone exited. Who was it? Due to the security guard standing in his line of sight Damian was uncertain. "If you're looking for the pool you'll find that you'll reach it much sooner if you turn back from where you just came," the security guard pointed. "You'll take a right at the end of the hall, keep going straight from there. No way can you boys miss it." "Thanks," replied Damian who made a move to turn. "We clearly took a wrong turn." "No big deal, it's to be expected. Especially if I am to assume this is your first trip aboard this cruiser." Damian retreated back into the direction they had come with Mitsuhiko following. "What, so that's it? We're not going to go to the storage room?" "Follow my lead," responded Damain. "But the body.. we need to go to the storage roo-" "And we will," Damian promised. He stopped. "Look, I don't want to arise any unwanted attention. If that guard sees a couple of kids going into the storage room unattended he'd surely have questions and that could blow whatever investigation it is you've got going.. what we've got going." Mitsuhiko took a deep breath. "So what are we going to do now?" "What I told the guard we would do," Damian replied. "We go to the pool room." "Then?" "We walk past there and circle around until we reach the storage room again," Damian replied. "Ok." "After we search the storage room for the special box you spoke of we'll adjust from there if need be," Damian continued. "Sound good?" Mitsuhiko nodded. "Works for me." Damian made a move to walk again. "Let's move. Doubtful this case solves itself." Mitsuhiko paced forward, finding his way to Damian's side in no time. "Hey, you still haven't told me." "About?" "Well.. it's clear you're investigating something as well." Mitsuhiko was certain of this. "When do you plan on sharing what that is?" "My answer hasn't changed. The less you know the better." Even though he wouldn't answer it had to be questioned. What had brought Damian to join this cruise? Had someone sent him? Or did he join this cruise by his own choice? And if so, for what reason? …. In Gotham The board meeting had reached its conclusion. With his business concluded at Wayne Enterprises for the time being Bruce now walked clear of the premises. He raised a hand, blocking the shine of the sun as he searched the ongoing traffic. "There." Spotting the expected vehicle he pressed on. Alfred drew eye to him as he approached. "And how did the meeting go Master Bruce," Alfred greeted. "Well," replied Bruce who entered the car. Following this Alfred returned to the driver side as he too entered the vehicle. "So everything went as expected? That's good to hear sir." "Not everything." Alfred strapped his seat belt on. "What's that?" "Before the board meeting I was approached by an unexpected visitor." "A politician looking to push an agenda no doubt," Alfred assumed. "Not entirely," Bruce replied. "The man I speak of, his name is Jirokichi Suzuki." Alfred turned the key in the ignition. "Should that name ring a bell?" "Kaitou Kid," Bruce replied. "There is no man on this planet that has a profiled history longer with Kid than him." "So he shows up at Wayne Enterprises, what happened next?" "He held out a hand in suggestion of a partnership," Bruce informed. "Given that Kid hit the Gotham Museum and the art show I set up in Japan, Mr. Suzuki felt I'd be the man for such an arrangement." "And why is that?" "In both cases; the museum and the art show Kaitou Kid managed to get past the Wayne security that had been set up. Mr. Suzuki believes that trend will continue," Bruce explained. "And is that your belief as well?" "I believe Kaitou Kid has an agenda, hitting places that are backed by Wayne security is not it," Bruce replied. "Given what happened in Tokyo involving Kid and the Royal Flush Gang, he might just be caught up in more than I originally thought." "If I may enquire, what do you believe the connection between Kaitou Kid and the Royal Flush Gang is?" Now with an opening Alfred pulled into the active stream of traffic. "I'm not going to jump to a baseless conclusion. We do know that Kaitou Kid's current interest seems to reside on the Revenant Warriors," Bruce noted. "One has to wonder, could this be the connection between Kid and the Royal Flush Gang?" "To answer that we'd need to determine the Revenant Warriors importance. What could possibly be the end game for achieving all?" "I've asked that question myself, something I'm still investigating," Bruce admitted. "We figure that out, we may be able to determine what Kaitou Kid hopes to achieve. As far as the Royal Flush Gang is concerned it is far too early to draw a conclusion for what their involvement may be." "What end came of you and Mr. Suzuki's little meet?" Alfred was curious. "Did you reach some kind of agreement?" "Yes, a partnership. His knowledge of Kid, my technology." Bruce confirmed. "Though I made it clear to him that I wouldn't be able to maintain a lengthy presence in Japan, and instead let him know I would be sending someone in my stead to oversee any operations involving Kid." "And who will you send on your behalf?" "Someone I trust to unravel this mystery, the one person who thinks the most like me," Bruce answered. Alfred was pretty sure he knew of whom he spoke of. "I see. And when will this overseas operation to apprehend Kid begin?" "Tomorrow," Bruce replied. "He'll arrive in Tokyo tomorrow." ….. Aboard the Cruiser In short time Damian and Mitsuhiko spotted a large sign hanging over a door on the left, one reading; 'Pool'. Mitsuhiko looked to Damian. "Should we take a peek inside?" "I'm more interested in what's in the storage room," Damian said. "But with that said, we'll need to check out the pool area at some point, and since we're here now we might as well put in our time now. We'd only waste ground if we go to the storage room only to backtrack this way after we finish." "You make a good point." Mitsuhiko saw the logic behind this. "Listen, we're not staying for long. We give it a quick look, anyone or anything that seems off we'll take note of and go." "Got it," Mitsuhiko nodded. "Alright then," said Damian stepping up to the door. He was the first to step in. Their nostrils were immediately met by a strong scent of chlorine. The room was massive in size. Looking to investigate further the pair advanced. Mitsuhiko initially looked left to find a lap pool. There were five lanes in all, all of which were empty except for one. The second lane in, there was someone swimming from one end of the pool to the other. Outside of the pool was a bench area that also hosted a towel rack. There was no one else to be found on that side of the room. "Everything looks pretty typical." There was nothing out of ordinary from what he could tell. Damian's focus was drawn to the other side; it was here he spotted what was clearly the main pool. "There are two people the pool.. Chiasa and Aoko." Damian recognized them both from the boarding process earlier in the evening. He double checked, there was no one else, only the two of them. It didn't take long before Mitsuhiko noticed the pair. "Damian-kun, should we say anything to them?" Damian shook his head. "Only observe." For many seconds he did just that. The two were standing in the four foot section of the pool. While he was uncertain for what they were discussing, he was able to make out their expressions. It may not be much, but it was enough to tell a story. "They seem eased and focused on the moment. Not something you'd equate with someone who is plotting or scheming something." In those silent filled seconds something else caught Mitsuhiko's sight. "Damian-kun look, over there." Damian's eyes fell in the pointed direction to spot a door clear across the room. "What of it?" "Any guess for what's on the other side?" "That's where the steam room is located." "How do you know that?" Mitsuhiko asked. "If you haven't already forgotten," replied Damian who held up his phone. "I have the blueprints for the entirety of this ship." "I didn't forget," Mitsuhiko said. "So are we going to check it out?" "Later," Damian replied. "Given that neither of us are sporting any water play attire that'd make us the suspicious party if anyone notices." Mitsuhiko understood. "Well you do make a good point. So it's off to the storage room now right?" "Would you have it any other way?" "I guess not." "Then let's go." As he walked Damian noticed the woman in the lap pool. From her figure alone he was uncertain of who she was, and given that she wore a pair of goggles and a swim cap he was unable to make out any defining features. "Never mind it.. she's probably nothing to worry about." The two left in the fashion that they had come. Now back in the hallway they quietly traveled along. While proceeding Mitsuhiko gave eye to the many different works of art that were present along the walls, a majority of which were paintings. They turned right after reaching the end of the hall. Was Mitsuhiko's claim true? Was there really a dead body aboard the cruiser? That begged the question, who was the one responsible? "Bane.." That was the first name to come to Damian's mind. But that would beg the question of why. "If Bane is wrapped in something like this, why would he have the body of someone he killed shipped on a cruiser he is taking part in? That's not his style and above all would make little sense." There fact still stood Bane had surveillance running in the storage room, so any conducted investigation on those grounds would be viewed by him. This was a detail that Damian could not ignore. "Hey Damian-kun," Mitsuhiko spoke. Pulled away from his inner thoughts Damian responded. "What now?" "Earlier you mentioned the steam room and the pool area," Mitsuhiko recalled. "What else is located on this floor besides those and the storage room?" "The recreation center and the armory," Damian reminded. "Both of which are by the storage room." "Are you sure there is nothing else down here?" "I'm sure? Why are you asking?" "Well there was also the security room, and you didn't mention that when we initially agreed we'd be searching every floor," Mitsuhiko noted. "Only because we won't be going into the security room," Damian replied. "We're not authorized to do so after all." Taking another right the two were now back in sight of the door leading to the storage room. Continuing the two immediately passed a door which had a sign reading Recreation Center. Halfway down they passed a second door, one hoisting a sign that read 'Armory'. "Are we not going to search those rooms?" "We'll fall back and check those after you show me this discovery of yours in the storage room." The task was simple, find the body. Damian looked from left to right, the coast was clear. With that accounted for he opened the door to the storage room. Now inside Damian looked to Mitsuhiko. "We're here. Now show me," Damian said. "Show me where the body is supposedly hidden." Sure of where it was Mitsuhiko wasted no time. Marching forward the young detective locked in on the crate he had seen while riding in the truck just a few hours prior. "There," Mitsuhiko pointed. "It should be in that one." Damian came to his side, noting the wall of other packages that was blocking the sought prize. "Well, let's get started." Not another word needed to be said. The both of them began moving objects out of the way that blocked their path to what they sought. Damian moved quickly, knowing if Bane was in fact watching he could arrive at any moment. "That's the last one," said Mitsuhiko as he dragged a bulky barrel off to the side. The lone crate now sat before them. "Now for the moment of truth." Mitsuhiko watched as Damian dropped to a knee, his heart now racing. "This is it. Now he'll see for himself." Tightly grasping the sides of the crate Damian pulled the top off. What he discovered inside was not a body, but rather a large cooler, one at least six feet in length. "I.. I don't recall there being a cooler," voiced Mitsuhiko. Only one step remained. Damian placed a hand atop the cooler, pulling its top off with minimal difficulty. Mitsuhiko gasped in disbelief. There was but one thing to find inside, many cubes of ice sitting in an empty bed of water. "It.. the body's not there!" Mitsuhiko still couldn't believe it. "Where could it have gone?" After placing the top of the cooler back on Damian stood up, looking at Mitsuhiko with a questioning look to display. "There's no body." Words could not describe his disappointment. "You don't believe me, do you?" Damian looked away, dropping focus back to all of the items they had moved out of place. "Let's clean up," Damian stated. "Once we finish, it's off to the Recreation Center followed by the Armory. Our investigation isn't over." Mitsuhiko could see it in his eyes, Damian didn't believe him. He couldn't be any more disappointed. None of it made any sense. He was certain that was the crate the body was inside. "I don't understand.. the body was in there. Where is it now?" … Kaito had checked the first and second floors and in both cases there was no sign of Aoko. "She said she would be in the cafeteria, yet she wasn't there." He now walked down a staircase that would lead him to the third floor. Halfway down Kaito pulled out his phone, attempting to call his friend once again. "Aoko it's me, Kaito.. trying to call you for like the fifth time. Whenever you decide to pick up would be nice. So if you get this message I'd really appreciate a call me back." Placing the phone back in his pocket Kaito continued down the stairs. "This is the only floor I haven't checked." Kaito then referred to cruiser handbook that he had stashed away. "I wonder what is all down on this level? If Aoko is down here there must be something that would have brought her." Kaito reached a pair of doors which he walked past after reaching the bottom of the stairs. Not taking another step he began looking through the handbook. "An Armory! There's an armory on this ship?! I'll definitely be checking that out." Not stopping there Kaito noted what other rooms were on this floor. "A recreation center.. yah, not my kinda thing. Let's see here, there's also an inside swimming pool. Bam! That has to be it; that has to be where she is!" Tracing his hand over the page Kaito was able to determine where he needed to go. "Need help finding something?" Kaito looked up to find a security guard standing no more than six feet away. It wasn't the same man he had encountered on the upper floor. "Was just looking to see which direction the pool is in," Kaito replied. "There," the security guard pointed. "Head down that way and you'll reach it within the minute." "Thanks a ton," Kaito replied. "Anytime. Hope you enjoy the rest of the cruise." From there the security guard turned for the opposite direction. "Now to get back to fixing these forsaken cameras." After stashing the booklet into his jacket Kaito began walking. "If I go this way and take a right further up that should lead me to where I want to be just like he said." From there Kaito pressed on. As suspected, within a minute Kaito came to spot a sign over a door reading 'Pool'. "Bingo." Entering the room the first thing that came to ear was laughter. At long last he had found her. "Aoko!" Kaito called her name for a second time as he walked forward. Aoko who had her back turned to him shifted after hearing her name called. "Kaito!" "Yo what's up?" a grinning Kaito approached. "Where have you been?! I tried calling you several times." Kaito shrugged. "I was napping for a bit. Besides, in your message you said you'd be in the cafeteria which makes you partially to blame. Plus I called you and you didn't pickup.. I guess I know why." "I should have expected no less from you." "What's that supposed to mean?" Aoko rolled her eyes. "Forget about it." She then turned for the woman who was in the pool across from her. "Look, there is someone I want you to meet." Raising his head the Kid thief came to spot the girl in question. "Chiasa?" Chiasa waved. "Hi Kaito-kun!" Aoko looked from one to the other with a look of surprise. "Hold on, you guys know each other?" "We met just a bit ago," informed Kaito who took another step forward. "It happened shortly after you went into your room. Chiasa-san and her friend were having trouble with their key card so I approached in hopes of fixing their problem." "Turns out we had the right room number but wrong floor," Chiasa laughed. "It was totally Yuriko's fault." "What was my fault?" Everyone's attention was diverted to the door leading into the room. Now approaching was a young woman wearing a violet colored swimming suit and a pair of black colored cut gloves. "Yuriko, you're finally here!" Chiasa happily jumped. "Don't try to flip it," replied a frowning Yuriko who dropped her hands from the towel around her neck before placing them upon her waist. "You were just talking about me, weren't you?" "I can promise you it was all good," Kaito said. Yuriko shifted her focus. "You.. that's right, you're that guy from earlier. Kitto-kun was it?" Aoko giggled in light of this. "Kaito," he corrected. "Kaito, oh that's right," Yuriko recalled. "Chiasa-chan is she the friend you were talking about earlier?" Aoko asked. "Yep, that's her," Chiasa confirmed. She then looked to her friend. "Hey Yuriko, are you going to come in?" Yuriko reached for the towel around her neck. "Don't mind if I do." Yanking the towel down she looked toward Kaito. "Mind holding this for a bit?" "Auhh, well.." before Kaito had a chance to reply the towel was tossed into his arms. "Sure, why not." Dashing with a run start Yuriko lunged for the pool. "Bon voyage!" She dropped in with a big splash. Ascending from the depths of the water Yuriko looked up at him with a wink. "Thanks Kitto-kun." This brought laughs from both Chiasa and Aoko. Kaito merrily rolled his eyes. "It's not that funny." "Do you plan on joining us at any point?" Yuriko asked. "Unfortunately I didn't bring any swimming garments along for the trip," Kaito replied. "You could just strip down to your underwear," a smiling Chiasa suggested. This caught Kaito by surprise. "That.. umm, sounds like a great idea, it's just." "I get it, you're lady shy," Yuriko assumed. "As if," Aoko stated. "I'd say it's quite the opposite. He seems to take pleasure in tormenting me on a daily basis for example." "Hey, that's not true," Kaito denied. "Is to!" Aoko fired back. This moment brought a realization for Yuriko. "Would I be right to assume you two are heavily acquainted?" "Unfortunately," Kaito muttered under his breath. Subtle movement came from his pocket at that moment. It was the vibration of his phone. Flipping in hand he found it was an incoming call from Konosuke. "I have to take this." "We are, we've known each other since we were little. We currently attend the same high school too," Aoko conveyed. "I'm not surprised in the least." "What about you and Yuriko-chan?" Aoko asked. "How long have you and Chiasa-chan known each other for?" Kaito saw this moment as a window of opportunity. "Now is my chance." "Chiasa and I?" Yuriko looked up as if to surf through her thoughts. "If I'm not mistaken it's coming around to three years since I was brought on as her personal tutor." "Tutor? You're her tutor?" This bit of information caught Aoko by surprise. "A part timer if you will," Yuriko confirmed. "My main job is as a mechanic." "What can I say, my grades in school before Yuriko came on board weren't exactly comparable to what you would see from a model student," Chiasa admitted. "There is no mistake about that," Yuriko said looking toward her friend. "You used to be a class clown of sorts. Thankfully you're past that stage." "That scarily sounds like someone I know," said Aoko who looked to where Kaito once stood to find that he was gone. The only thing that remained was Yuriko's towel that hung over the pool rail. "Kaito! Where did he go?" Yuriko and Chiasa noticed as well. "Gee, someone was in a hurry," Yuriko noted. "Any idea where he might have gone?" Aoko shook her head. "When it comes to Kaito there's no telling." "I wouldn't worry, I'm sure he'll be back shortly." Yuriko seemed sure of this. At that moment Aoko and Yuriko were met by a wave of water that forcefully splashed on them from behind. Their immediate reaction was to spin around, both coming to face a grinning Chiasa. "Oops, my hand might have slipped." Yuriko and Aoko looked to one another. "You thinking what I'm thinking?" Aoko asked. "That retribution is best served in waves?" Yuriko responded. "Let's do it!" …. Recreation Center That was what the sign hanging over the door read. Damian's thoughts were clouded. What Mitsuhiko had said about the events leading him to boarding the ship, was any of it true? "So are we going in?" Mitsuhiko questioned. Pressing against the door Damian forced it open. He said nothing as the two entered. The room had a lot of space. There was a basketball court located toward the right. The section was empty, not a person in sight. Shifting their focus to the left they came to spot an area that was filled with a wide variety of equipment for working out. To their delight there were two people to find. The first was a man who was lifting a set of dumbbells who had his back turned to them. Because of this neither was able to tell who he was. The other person to spot was a red haired woman who was pacing herself on a treadmill. Both recognized her, Rosetta Dellmara. Mitsuhiko gave Damian a nudge. "Hey look, it's your dream girl." "I see you're still riding that assumption," replied Damian. "That didn't sound like a denial," Mitsuhiko grinned. The floppy hat and summer dress Rosetta had worn before had been replaced with a sports headband and top along with a pair of sweat pants. "Let's move," Damian said before advancing in the direction of the two. "What?" this was surprising to Mitsuhiko. "I thought you didn't want to talk to anyone, only that we would observe." "I don't intend to, look," Damian pointed as the two proceeded. "There's a staircase. I want to see what's on the second floor of this room." The two reached the bottom of the staircase in little time. "Stay here," Damian instructed. "If you see or hear anything strange take note of it. I promise I won't be long." "Roger that captain." Mitsuhiko gave him the thumbs up. As expected Damian began his journey up the mountain of stairs. Mitsuhiko crossed his arms over his chest. "What legitimate investigation only involves observing?" he shook his head. "At this rate we'll never learn anything and we'll be too late to stop the potential killer." It was now time to act. Now with Damian's back turned to him, Mitsuhiko was ready to make a move. Steering away from what they had agreed upon Mitsuhiko walked toward the man who was still weight lifting. Narrowing the distance between them to where they were now only feet apart Mitsuhiko spoke. "Excuse me sir." Hearing someone speak to him, the man placed the dumbbell weights to the ground before turning around. Now able to see his face Mitsuhiko knew who it was. "He's Taro Toda.. that's right, I crossed his wife while I was in the cafeteria earlier." "Is there something I can do for you young man?" asked Taro who wiped a streak of sweat from his forehead using the towel that was positioned around his neck. Taking a couple seconds to think up a question of response Mitsuhiko responded. "I was just wondering," Mitsuhiko began as he turned in the direction of the stairs. "Do you have any idea what is on the second floor?" "Oh yes," Taro said pleased to inform. "I visited up there a short time ago. There isn't much mind you, just a couple of tracks." "Tracks?" "Yes, for running," Taro replied. "There are four lanes total. The two outside lanes are for those who wish only to walk, while the two inside lanes are for joggers and runners. That's pretty much it and a bag of chips kid. You won't find anything else up there." "Did anyone else besides you go up there?" "Now that you mention it, yes, there was some other guy up there who was running in the lane beside the one I was using. Not sure if he's come down yet," Taro ran down. "Was there anyone else?" Mitsuhiko asked. "Not that I can remem.. hold on, there was another man," Taro recalled. "Yes, that's right. On my way down he was walking up the stairs." "How long ago would that have been?" "About three minutes ago, give or take," Taro noted. "Why do you ask, are you looking for someone?" Playing it off as that Mitsuhiko nodded. "I knew he would be in this room somewhere." Taro smiled. "Glad I could be of service." Feeling there was nothing more to say Taro diverted his attention back to the weights that lied before him. Mitsuhiko then looked in the direction of Rosetta who was still running on the active treadmill. Given that she had earplugs on as well Mitsuhiko decided against approaching her, instead opting to reverse his tracks. Once he reached the bottom of the stairs he stopped. "I'll wait here, it shouldn't be too long before Damian-kun returns." Marching up the long fleet of stairs Damian managed to finally reach the top. Now standing before a large door he attempted to open it. The door knob wouldn't turn. "It's locked." He attempted to open it for a second time only to receive the same results. "Looks like this little tour is over." As he turned to walk away Damian heard a voice, one that had carried from the other side of the door. "Someone is in there." Returning to the door Damian curiously placed his ear against the door in hopes of hearing what was being said. "That is one crazy conspiracy theory you've got wrapped in that head of yours," the voice of a man spoke. "I don't even know how you could come to a conclusion like that." "Theory? Try fact," another responded. It was a woman, Damian was sure of this. "I don't believe in coincidence Neo." "Whether you want to believe it or not, sometimes things just happen to line up by chance," the man replied. "This just so happens to be one of those cases. There is nothing more to it." "You, me, Mar-kun, and Naba. There is no way we all ended up on the same cruise by chance." "Oh come on, do you really believe us being here has something to do with what happened that night seven years ago? Don't be ridiculous." Damian's interest began to rise. "This sounds promissing," he softly spoke. Anticipating what would be said next another sound echoed from the grounds, one of agony. Damian immediately pushed away from the door. "Someone screamed." Turning, Damian raced down the stairs as adrenaline began to rise. He reached Mitsuhiko who had a look of concern on his face. "Tsuburaya, what happened?!" "I'm not sure, I heard someone scream," Mitsuhiko replied. Taro who wasn't far away walked up on the two from behind. "It sounded like it came from the hall somewhere," Taro said as he reached into his pocket. Pulling out a pair of glasses he placed them over his eyes. "We better hurry, if someone is in trouble they may need our help." Mitsuhiko nodded. "He's right." They wouldn't waste another second. Charging toward the door the three of them pushed past it which brought them back into the hall. It was there that they saw her, sitting on the ground just feet away. "That woman, she's Freya Hepperway." Damian instantly recognized her seeing her earlier. "Ma'm, are you ok?" Taro called to her as they closed in. She raised a hand, pointing to the door she sat before. "There, in.. inside," Freya fretted. Taro who stood to the front of the pack made a move for the door, swinging it open to have an instant fright over take him. He stepped back as he screamed out in fear. "What the hell happened?!" Damian and Mitsuhiko took to the front, both witnessing what the others had with their own eyes. No more than ten feet into the room a man dressed in a clown suit hung from the ceiling by the rope that was tied around his neck. Drilled into the hanging man's abdomen was what appeared to be a dagger. Narrowing his eyes Damian stepped into the room. "Hey kid, what are you doing?!" Taro yelled. Now closer Damian stared up at the man who hung, it didn't take long for him to ID the victim. "Lukmar Xiene, he was the first person I witnessed board this ship." Damian then turned to his side to find Mitsuhiko, there was a dumbfounding look on his face. "What's wrong?" "D..Damian-kun, that's him." "Him? What the heck are you talking about?" "The body that I told you about, the one that was in the back of that truck.. this is him!" Damian's eyes widened. "What? That can't be so! I saw this man board the ship myself," Damian declared. Mitsuhiko faced him. "I know what I saw, you have to believe me!" The two would then be joined. "What the hell happened in HERE?! The two spun around to spot one of the security guards. "Well.. are any of you going to answer?!" "We just got here," Damian explained. "He was already here." The security guard moved deeper into the room. "Then step aside! We need to cut him down, there's a chance he could still be alive!" Making a move toward the body the security guard would be stopped by the voice of another. "I wouldn't bother, he's already dead." Mitsuhiko, Damian, and the security guard all turned around to now find a man wearing a sports cap standing in the doorway. "Are you the one responsible for this?" the security guard questioned. "Of course not," the newcomer responded. "Then how the hell would you know?!" "The evidence is all there, he's gone I'm afraid." "Just who are you?! I command that you identify yourself!" The security guard yelled before pulling out a stun gun which he then aimed at him. He held up his hands to showcase he wasn't a threat. "I am a detective," replied the young man who stepped forward. "Heiji Hattori." To Be Continued
  5. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 27 A Secret to Share The sky darkened by the minute, the sun would soon set. Conan had since separated from the others. There was a lot on his mind; the Black Organization, the assurgent of the drug he had come to know as 'Fear Gas', and most recently the Riddler. The question residing on the surface of his mind.. what next? The Detective Agency was now in view. Leaning his head forward he began to slow in step, there was something that came to mind, something he had not considered before this very moment. "Could it be?" He stopped. "The fear gas originated from Gotham City before finding ground here in Japan. Gotham is also home to Edward Nigma.." Conan looked upward. "It can't just be a convenience.. can it?" What if the distribution of the fear gas and the Riddler's presence in Japan were linked? Conan gave the possibility some thought. "But then it wouldn't really make sense. Nigma traveled to Japan with one clear goal in mind, to challenge the oji-san and Kid. If he was in fact responsible for the spread of the toxin one would have to ask.. why?" Conan's thoughts reverted back to the riddles; stemming from Nigma's initial words all the way through the night of challenge. Was there anything that hinted of his connection with the toxin? Conan didn't feel such a conclusion could be reached. "If there truly is a connection, there is only one way to determine that. The beginning," Conan said. "I'll have to start from the very beginning." Conan reached for his phone, scrolling through his contacts he found the name he was looking for. Placing the phone upon his ear Conan stood in wait, listening to the sound of the ring that came from the other side. "Come on, please answer." Unfortunately the only voice to come was that of an answering machine. Sighing, Conan went on to leave a message. "Jodie-sensei, it's," Conan began. He paused. "Listen, I have a favor to ask, there's something I need from you. Get back to me when you can." Taking a deep breath Conan dropped the phone back to his side. "Well, I guess I better head in for the nigh-" In the moments of him speaking his phone began to ring. "Jodie-sensei?" Conan was hopeful. Raising the phone he found this not to be the case. "It's Dr. Agasa." What could he possibly be calling about? A break in the case regarding the fear toxin perhaps? "Doc, it's me," said Conan answering the call. "What's up?" "Shinichi, it's Mitsuhiko-kun," Hiroshi dispensed. "Did he finally turn up?" there was a relief to be heard in his voice. "Where was he?" "No, I just received a call from his mother," Hiroshi replied. "Shinichi, like the rest of us.. she hasn't been able to get ahold of him. He's missing." His phone began to tremble in hand. "No…" ….. The boarding process had finally concluded. Now traveling down a fleet of stairs Kaito brought eye to the key card in hand, one which read; 'R 22B'. The end of the staircase was reached shortly after. Lowering the card in hand Kaito referred to his travel mate. "Aoko, what room number are you in?" "6B," replied Aoko who walked a short distance ahead of him. Catching up to her side Kaito spoke again. "So.. when are you going to tell me why you really invited me on this cruise?" There had to be a reason. "Surely you didn't drag us all the way out here for just a little sightseeing?" "If I were to tell you now that would ruin the surprise," Aoko replied. "Surprise?" The door reading 6B was reached moments later. Holding out the key card Aoko swiped it which allowed her entry to the room. "We'll meet back up in a bit, there's a few things I need to do," said Aoko who stepped in past the door. Kaito watched as the door closed before him. "How long before you want to-" "I'll call you," Aoko's voice carried from the other side. Sighing Kaito turned back for the hall. It was here that he laid eyes on two women who strolled past. "I recognize them. Yah, they're one of the last people who boarded this ship." No doubt they were heading toward their assigned room. Given his room was in the same direction Kaito followed. While proceeding Kaito took note of the fact all even numbered rooms were on the right while all odd numbered doors were on the left. Room 22B was reached sooner than he expected. "Now, where did I put that key?" Moving his hand through his pocket Kaito grabbed hold of the room key. "There you are." Just as he was to swipe it he caught eye of the two women who were standing outside of the room next to his own. "I wonder why they haven't entered yet." "Oh come on," she said taking another swipe of the card. "It's not working." "Maybe you're sliding it wrong," the woman beside her stated. "I've already tried both ways," she responded. "Here, why don't you let me take a look," greeted Kaito who approached the two. The girl holding the key froze upon his approach, her eyes locked in awe. Reaching out Kaito grabbed hold of the card she possessed. "Hmmmm.." After examining the card Kaito then looked up at the room they were attempting to enter. "So that would explain." "What?" questioned the woman with the longer hair of the two. "Have you figured out what's wrong?" Nodding Kaito handed the key card back to the shorter haired woman. "This room 24B, your card is for room 24A," Kaito pointed out. "In other words, you're on the wrong floor." The two women looked to one another, then back at him before laughing. "Oops, my mistake," said the longer haired girl who wore a pair of finger cut gloves. "I had forgotten that I asked the captain to move us up a floor." Kaito smiled, finding humor in the situation. "It happens to us all. Don't mind it." "Well then, we better get going." Kaito went on to turn back for his room. "Wait, what's your name?" the shorter haired girl asked. Turning once more Kaito came to face the shorter haired girl. "Kaito," he replied. "It's nice to meet you Kaito-kun, I'm Chiasa," she replied bowing her head. "And this is Yuriko." "Perhaps I'll see you both around," Kaito said. Chiasa smiled brightly. "I sincerely hope so!" "Ok, we really should be going," said Yuriko who grabbed hold of her friends hand before marching forward. "See you later Kaito-kun!" waved Chiasa as the two departed. He watched as the pair strolled away. "Did you have to make it so obvious," scolded Yuriko after the two were halfway down the hall. "I can't help it, he's really cute," argued Chiasa. Vaguely hearing their words Kaito smiled as he turned for the door he stood before. Sliding the card he forced his way in. "Might as well get myself acquainted." Now inside the room he did just that. To his surprise the space to find was much larger than he had anticipated. Far across the room was screen door, one which provided a view of the ocean on the outside. Toward the right was where the bed was located; next to it on the left was a night stand. Kaito then looked to the other side of the room to find a TV attached to the wall, below it was a dresser. There was a door to spot further up, what could be on the other side? He assumed it to be the bathroom. "Well, I'm not exactly in a rush to go anywhere," said Kaito who walked. Finding way to the side of the bed he removed his bag before tossing it into a chair that was near. Fading back he fell onto the softness of the sheets below. "Just what will this delightful cruise bring?" Laying there his mind began to flow to a matter that had been lost to him since arriving. "The Riddler." There was no way that what occurred the other night was over. On the contrary, that was only the beginning. There was no doubt about this in his mind. "Lucky for me I took note of every riddle the Riddler gave that night." Raising his phone to eye Kaito went on to open a window that had stored notes for everything he had accounted for the previous night. "You played your first hand man of riddles… just what will be your next move?" …. Ten minutes passed since the ship's departure. In that time everyone had cleared the deck, all except Mitsuhiko. He was becoming growingly anxious by the minute. If there was a possible murder to come, what good would standing around do? Damian who had left for a short time returned, clearly focused on something that was on his phone. "Damian-kun, didn't you say we should be on the lookout for anything or anyone suspicious?" reminded Mitsuhiko. "How can we do that if we stay up here?" Damian didn't respond. "Hey, are you even listening?" asked Mitsuhiko trying to get his attention for a second time. "Silence," Damian retorted. "You're distracting me." "What could be more important than our mission?" Damian didn't respond. Could it be that he wasn't taking it serious? The thought of it crawled into mind. "Should I tell him?" Mitsuhiko looked over at Damian. "Should I tell him the truth? No.. I can do this. This is my case, I'll crack the mystery, no matter what!" It was time to act. "Standing around isn't going to get me anywhere." As Mitsuhiko turned to walk Damian spoke. "That's it, bout time." His words pulled Mitsuhiko's attention. Curious as to what he was talking about he looked back at him. "What are you talking about?" "I hacked into the server," informed Damian. "Now we'll know who is staying in which room aboard this ship." This was good news. "What! Really?!" Raising the phone Damian skimmed through the list he now had at his disposal. "Where are you Bane, what name are you traveling under?" The thought of that rolled through his mind as he scrolled down. He stopped upon coming across a certain name on the list. "Enab? … That's Bane's name spelled backwards, that has to be him. Room 12B." Directly under Bane's listing he found the names of two others that grabbed his attention; Drib and Ggort. "Room's 13B and 14B, Bird and Trogg no doubt. You seriously can't convince me that was the best they could come up with for fake names." "Damian-kun." "What?" questioned Damian who swung his head to face him. "What about that really suspicious guy we saw board earlier," Mitsuhiko asked. "The one who was wearing the hygiene mask.. what was his name again?" "Manabu Yoneda," answered Damian who now had his name atop the list. "Room 2B." "Great, then that's where we'll go." "Pretty sure we're not getting in without a key card to that room," Damian noted. "And it's not like we can just knock on his door and say let us in, we're investigating you for looking painfully suspicious." Mitsuhiko chuckled. "Why not, we could at least give it a try." "Very humorous," replied Damian with a dose of sarcasm. "Hey, where did you go just a while ago," Mitsuhiko asked. "You told me to stay here, but you never told me where you were going." "Oh yah, I almost forgot about that." Reaching into his pocket Damian revealed a key card. "This one is yours, Room 25A." Damian handed the key card over to him. Mitsuhiko was admittedly surprised. "You really got me my own room? How much did it cos-" "An insignificant detail," Damian shot down. "Here's the deal, this ship has four levels; the deck where we are now, floor A which is directly beneath us, floor B, and the bottom level which we visited earlier." "You mean where the storage room is right?" "Yes," Damian confirmed. "I purchased you a room for floor A and my room is on floor B. This was intentional." Mitsuhiko's detective instincts kicked in. "I see, you wanted us to be able to explore both floors without coming off as suspicious to the other guests. As long as I have my key card for floor 'A' no one will question me roaming that area, likewise for you on floor 'B'." Damian was impressed. "Perhaps you'll be useful after all." "Wait, are you saying you didn't believe in me beforehand?" "Ah hem," Damian huffed as he turned away. "Listen, this is all that is located on floor A outside of the rooms for guests. Toward the rare of the ship is where this ship's kitchen is located; in there is where the cooks will be." "Why do you say? Do you want me to investigate them too?" "It wouldn't hurt," Damian replied. "He's right," Mitsuhiko thought. "I still don't know the full circumstances for what is going to happen." Damian continued. "Located beside the kitchen is the cafeteria, you'll want to check there as well." "Got it," nodded Mitsuhiko. "Now on the opposite side of floor B is where the game room is located." Mitsuhiko's eyes lit up. "Game room?" Damian's eyes narrowed. "That's not going to be a distraction for you is it?" Mitsuhiko shook his head. "Of course not, why would it?" Damian took a long hard look at him. While not completely convinced he found it in himself to take his word for it. "Like the cafeteria, if there is anyone in there I want you to observe them from a distance. Don't engage or bring any attention to yourself, just observe." He nodded. "Got it." That moment was when it really hit him. "Hey, what exactly should I be on the lookout for?" "As I said before, if anything out of the ordinary happens you'll keep note of it and report to me." "Well.. that doesn't really help." "Is the makeup of my words that difficult for you to comprehend?" questioned Damian. "I fully understand, that's not what I'm saying." "Then what?" "You still haven't told me why we're doing this," Mitsuhiko replied. "If you tell me what we're specifically looking for it would give me a better handle for what I should be searching for." "Trust me when I say the less you know the better," Damian shot down. "Either way that wraps up all there is to find on floor A." "What about floor B?" "You need not concern yourself with that," replied Damian. "I'll be searching floor B myself." "So I search floor A, you search floor B.. then what?" "We regroup and head to the bottom level together," Damian responded. "Outside of the storage room there are still a number of other places we need to check. These areas would include; the indoor pool, a steam room, a recreation center, and the armory." Mitsuhiko was surprised by the last. "An armory? What is something like that doing on a cruiser?" "It's merrily there for guests to spectate if they so choose," Damian explained. "Nothing more. Unless you have any more enquiries, shall we proceed?" "I do have one more question. How long do you want to search floors 'A' and 'B' before we meet on the bottom floor?" "Hmmm.." Damian gave it some thought. "Let's try and keep it within the fifteen minute range, a little under or over is ok. That all?" Mitsuhiko nodded. "That's it." "Very well." ….. Conan had searched high and low. No matter where he looked there was no sign of Mitsuhiko. He stopped after reaching a certain street corner. Once there he looked down at his watch. "They should be here any moment," Conan determined after noting the time. As expected a short time later Haibara and Ayumi came into view from his right while Genta panned in from the left. "Any luck guys?!" asked an out of breath Genta. "No sign of him at the park," Ayumi replied. "He wasn't at the school either," Genta conveyed. "We've searched every place we'd expect him to be," Haibara added. "Dammit," hissed Conan under his breath. "Just where could he be?" "According to what was told to the Professor from Tsuburaya-kun's parents, he was on his way to meet the rest of us," Harbara relayed. "Something clearly happened that prevented him from showing." "But what?" Genta questioned. "It could also be something prompted his focus elsewhere," Haibara added. "Wherever he is, Tsuburaya-kun has either lost his phone or is unable to use it due to his situation or the battery being dead all together." Ayumi gulped. "Or maybe it's because he's.." "Don't think that," Conan stated. "He's alive for sure, I know it. We'll find him, so don't you worry." Haibara looked to the sky, noting how dark it had gotten within the past couple minutes. "It's getting dark, perhaps we should continue our search of the neighborhood inside the car alongside the professor." Conan agreed. "I'll call him and let him know to meet us here." The young detective did as he said he would, raising the phone to ear as he waited for an answer. "We'll find him no matter what." … Mitsuhiko now walked the floors of level A. He had just exited the stairwell. On the right was another door. He could check to see what was on the other side or instead opt to go down the long hall that led to the other side of the ship. "It'd be best if I checked this room now, I'll save myself a trip." With his mind now made up Mitsuhiko turned for the door. After reaching it he noticed a sign hanging over the door, one which read 'Cafeteria'. "Damian-kun was right; the cafeteria is definitely on this floor." Now with an idea what to expect Mitsuhiko turned the door knob which allowed him entry. The cafeteria was much larger in size then he had been expecting. Subconsciously he began accounting for everything that came to view. There were fifteen seating areas spread across the room … no seventeen, each from what he could tell could at least host twenty people at a time. Mitsuhiko scoured the room further, counting off every person that fell in his line of sight. "One, two, three.. four. That's it," Mitsuhiko said. "There's only four people in here." While he may not have noticed at first glass, far across the room in the right corner another door was spotted. "Could that be where the kitchen is located?" Pressing an inch forward Mitsuhiko stopped after catching eye of something left of him. "Oh, it's just a water fountain." Further down was a hanging sign which read 'Rest Room' was spotted. He looked away, refocusing on what was most important; the subjects to investigate. "Damian-kun said only to observe, not to engage. I don't see how that's going to help us learn anything, and with a possible murder on the line there's no way I can just sit back and make mental annotations." With his mind now made up Mitsuhiko walked toward the four who sat near the door. "I recognize all of them. The two sitting with their backs to me are Kiku Toda and her father Katsuo Yanagi." Mitsuhiko was sure of this. "The two sitting across from them is that up and coming singer Reira Jo and her agent Issuma Sadow." Reira who was holding a menu in hand was the first to notice him approaching. "Hey there," she greeted. Mitsuhiko waved in return. "Hi!" Everyone else who sat among them became aware of his arrival. "Who is this?" Issuma asked. "Reira-san, do you know this boy?" She responded by shaking her head. "I do not." Reira then looked him in the eyes. "I take it you would like an autograph?" This was the perfect opportunity. Mitsuhiko played it off as that, nodding as to confirm the predicted. "Yes, I would really like that!" Reira turned to Issuma. "Sadow-kun do you have a pen and a piece of paper on you?" "Of course," he replied. A few moments was all it took for him to search his pocket for a writing utensil and a notepad. Ripping out a page he handed it over along with the pen. "There you go." Reira wrote her name down before holding it out for Mitsuhiko to handle. "All done, here you are little guy." Mitsuhiko bowed his head before thanking her after accepting the piece of paper. "I can't thank you enough." It was now time to act on his true motive for what brought him here. "Jo-san, what lead to you joining this cruise, if you don't mind me asking?" She took a couple seconds to think about the asked. "A small vacation would be the best way of putting it," Reira replied. "What better way to do that than taking a cruise?" "Hard to argue against that," Mitsuhiko said. "Better make that the both of us," spoke Kiku who sat directly across from Reira. "There's nothing better than taking a cruise to get away from it all." Mitsuhiko looked up at her. "So you're on vacation?" "That's right," confirmed Kiku who looked down at him. "Today marks my father's Birthday who just turned fifty two. To celebrate that my husband and I who just married a couple months ago decided we'd go on a cruise to celebrate." Mitsuhiko looked around after hearing this. "Where is your husband now?" "Upstairs resting up for a bit, he plans on joining us in a bit," Kiku replied. "It's been a long day to say the least." "Tell me about it," murmured Mitsuhiko. "Where are my manners, I failed to ask your name," Reira said. "Tsuburaya Mitsuhiko," he proudly replied. Reira smiled. "Well it is a pleasure to meet you Mitsuhiko-kun. So who are you with? Your parents? Surely you aren't traveling alone?" "I.." Unexpectedly the five would be joined by a young man who made his way over from across the room. Taking note of his apparel which consisted of a white apron and white fluffy hat sitting atop his head there was no mistaking who it was in Mitsuhiko's mind. "This must be one of the cooks. None of these people seem all that troublesome, there's no need for me to stick around any longer." "Hello everyone, my name is Nenjo, and I will be the one serving you tonight," he introduced. "Can I start you all off with some drinks?" With everyone's attention now diverted on the cook Mitsuhiko took that opportunity to stroll off. He exited out the same door he had entered. Now back in the hall he took a deep breath. "That takes care of the cafeteria, now for the game room." From there he marched onward. As he did he couldn't help but shed eye to the number of guest rooms he passed. 1A, 2A, 6A.. 13A. The numbers increased the further he progressed. One of the doors ahead flew open without warning. Mitsuhiko stopped, was someone about to come out? "Yuriko, I'll meet you down at the pool!" Mitsuhiko was uncertain of who the voice belonged to. "Ok," another spoke. "I'll join you soon Chiasa. I'm going to stop by the cafeteria first to get us some snacks." "Alrighty!" A moment later a young woman dressed in a two piece gold and black swim suit stepped out. Not wanting to get in her way Mitsuhiko stepped off to the side. Noticing his gesture Chiasa spoke. "Thank you." "You're welcome," a smiling Mitsuhiko replied. Now with a clear path ahead the young detective continued forward. The final guest room on this floor was 25A. Making a left turn after reaching the end of the hall Mitsuhiko came to find a door on the right no more than five yards away. He rubbed his hands together in anticipation. "That has to be the game room." Excitement mounted. What would he find on the other side? What kind of games would be available? The door was reached in short. Once inside he was astonished by what he saw, not expecting to sight as much as he did. There was a pool table no more than ten feet into the room. Turning his head he spotted a badminton setup nearby, a set of dart boards, and a table hockey further left. While the lights were a bit dim in this room he was still able to make out where everything was. "What to try first?" Moving deeper into the room Mitsuhiko noticed a fleet of stairs toward the right, his eyes widening after spotting what was on the second level of the room. "Arcade games!" Following the floor lights that were embedded Mitsuhiko excitedly hurried to the next floor. Once at the top he heard a sound that was familiar. "Could it be?" It sounded like that of someone mashing buttons, which could only mean one thing, someone else was in the game room besides him. Determined to find out who Mitsuhiko followed the continuous sound to its source. Maneuvering around two arcade machines Mitsuhiko came to spot two men who were seemingly battling against each other in one of the games, due to them standing side by side. Closing the distance Mitsuhiko came to recognize who they were, the black leather jackets they wore being a dead giveaway. "Kiyoshi and Saburo.. yah, I'm pretty sure that's what their names are." How should he greet them? That was the question that resided. Mitsuhiko contemplated that as he continued to approach the pair. "There we go! How do you like that combo?!" "Phff!" the other grunted. "The red button on this control pad was jammed there for a second, that's the only reason you were able to land those hits." "That's right, let's hear those usual excuses Saburo." "I'm not lying," Saburo protested. "Switch me sticks, you'll see!" "Stop ur complainin', the match isn't over yet." Mitsuhiko stopped after falling within inches of the pair. It didn't take long for one of them to notice. "Yes!" shouted Kiyoshi who threw his arms into the air. "I'll take that win! At this rate you might want to retire my friend." "It's not even like that, I was distracted by this kid," Saburo argued. "Are you really fallin' to that level of excuses?" Kiyoshi laughed. "An imaginary friend, really?" "No, I'm not kidding," said Saburo who pointed directly at Mitsuhiko. "Look!" Feeling his friend was telling a tall tale, Kiyoshi gave his friend the benefit of the doubt and looked to find there was someone else now among them. "Who the hell are you?!" Mitsuhiko gritted his teeth. This was not how he envisioned things going. "I umm.. I was just looking for a game to.. play." "Cool it Kiyoshi, you're scaring the boy," Saburo stated before looking back down at him. "What's your name kid?" "Mitsuhiko," he replied. "That's my name." "Well then Mitsuhiko-kun, is there something we could help you with?" Saburo asked. "Perhaps you wanted to play the game we're currently occupying?" Mitsuhiko waved his hands back and forth in denial. "No, that's not it at all," he assured. "I'm just looking around." Following this Mitsuhiko made a move to walk away. "I guess I should be going now." The thought of it ran through his mind, to ask or not to ask. Unexpected to the others Mitsuhiko stopped after only taking a couple steps. "Something the matter?" questioned Kiyoshi. "You drop something?" Mitsuhiko had made up his mind. He looked back at the two men. "I hope you don't mind if I ask you guys something." "It depends what you're askin'," Kiyoshi replied. Dropping all hesitation Mitsuhiko went on to ask what was on his mind. "What made you guys decide to join this cruise?" The pair looked to one another before looking back at him. "Admittedly none of this was planned," Saburo informed. "It was Yasu who received three tickets in the mail about two months ago for this specific cruise." "Yasu.. that must be the girl that was with them the first time I saw them," Mitsuhiko remembered. "You said she received the tickets. What do you mean by that? Did she not go out and purchase them?" Kiyoshi shook his head. "She won them in some kind of prize drawing, one she didn't recall entering, her own words." "Whether she remembers or not, we'll take it!" Saburo yelled. "I've never been on a cruise before now!" "I see.." Mitsuhiko paused. "What's this all about anyway?" asked Kiyoshi. "Why do you care to know all of this?" "Well, I guess I should be going. My friend is probably wondering where I am," Mitsuhiko smilingly waved. "See ya!" The young detective took off from there, not once looking back. Kiyoshi shook his head as he watched the boy turn the corner. "What a strange kid." "You can say that again," agreed Saburo. He went on to shift his focus back to the arcade game beside them. "Up for a couple more rounds?" "More rounds of grown ass beatings delivered to you? How could I possibly turn down such a generous offer?" Saburo rolled his eyes. "Ya, we'll just have to see about that. Let's do this!" …. BWOOM! Kaito pushed up from where he had fallen asleep, his heart now pounding. "That loud noise, what was that?" He stood up from the bed as he looked to the screen door right of him. "It sounded like glass shattering.. like it came from outside." Walking over Kaito opened the screen door. Now on the balcony he searched the area. There was a glass table aligned with two chairs on the right. Looking left there was nothing more to find. He was certain what he had heard came from the outside. Yet, there was nothing that appeared to be broken. Kaito went on to step up to the railing, looking overboard he saw nothing but an endless sea. "Maybe I was just hearing things." Kaito looked to the night sky. The view of the moon was enough to draw a smile. A sound suddenly erupted from back in the room. "My phone." Retrieving his phone which was still positioned on the bed Kaito came to find he had five missed calls and a number of unread texts. "Of course all of them would be from Aoko. No doubt she's wondering where I am." Checking the time Kaito found that over twenty minutes had passed since he had entered the room. "I better get going before Aoko orchestrates some kind of riot to find me." He checked the most recent received text which read; "In cafeteria, where R U?!" "Yep, I better hurry." Placing the phone back into his pants Kaito walked toward the door. He stopped, it was subtle, but he was certain he heard something. Kaito looked right; it was coming from the other side of the wall. "It sounds like a shower is running. I guess someone is in room 24B after all." Continuing onward Kaito made his way out, certain to make sure the door was securely locked on his way out. Kaito looked right; rooms 24B and 25B directly across could be seen. Past both rooms there was a lone door at the end of the hall. "I wonder what's in there?" Upon questioning this Kaito spotted a sign cemented above it, one reading 'Computer Room'. "That's definitely not where I want to be. If I'm not mistaking the staircase to the next floor is this way," said Kaito who turned left. He took only a step after hearing something from behind. Looking over his shoulder he saw nothing. He stood there for several moments before going on to shake his head. "I guess it's nothing." As he walked his thoughts drifted back to what he had been thinking about earlier. He tried to block it all out. "I'll worry about all of that later. One night of a relaxing cruise shouldn't hurt." As Kaito came within feet of the door leading to the stairwell he heard a sound once more, one which echoed through the hall. He grinned. "And this is the part where I turn around to find that there isn't anyone ther-" Kaito was cold stunned to find that there was someone standing at the far end of the hall where he had come. It looked to be a man, one wearing a white jacket, shades, a ski cap, and a hygiene mask over his mouth. Their sights were aimed dead on each other. Kaito felt as if his heart skipped a beat. In the heat of the moment the door from behind swung open, startling Kaito who spun around and raised his hands to the air as if to prepare for a fight. "Relax kid, I'm just running a surveillance check for this floor. We've been having a couple glitch problems with a couple of the cameras." Kaito sighed in relief after finding it was only one of the security guards. "Sorry, you startled me," Kaito apologized as he lowered his hands. "I figured that much," replied the security guard. Kaito looked over his shoulder to find that there was no longer anyone standing at the end of the hall. "Did I envision all of that?" The security guard noticed this. "Something wrong?" Kaito shook his head. "Nothing, nothing at all.." … Mitsuhiko couldn't get the thought of it out of his mind. The mysterious man he had followed earlier in the day, the truck driver, the dead body, and now the possibility of a planned murder. How did it all tie together? Above all, was it wise for him to keep this all to himself? He was starting to question that very thing. "I wish Conan was here, he would figure this out no problem." After refocusing his sights Mitsuhiko found only three steps remained before he was to reach the bottom; noting this instead of continuing to walk Mitsuhiko jumped, bringing him to the stairs end. "Now, to find Damian-kun." The door leading to the hallway was only a few feet away. Pushing toward it Mitsuhiko heard a voice. "Don't bother." Mitsuhiko turned around just as Damian stepped out from the side of the stairs where he clearly had been waiting. "Took you long enough." "Don't do that, you scared me!" Mitsuhiko shrieked. "Hardly see how that's my problem," Damian said in response. "How did things go on floor 'A'? Anything worth reporting?" Mitsuhiko shook his head. "What about you?" "Outside of the rooms for guests, there was only the computer and laundry room on that floor. Both which were empty.. now, shall we?" commented Damian who took a step toward the door. When Damian realized Mitsuhiko wasn't following he stopped. "What's the big idea? Why aren't you moving?" "Damian-kun, I… there is something I need to tell you." "We don't have time for any of that, come on," Damian responded with the sway of his left hand. "It's really important though," Mitsuhiko argued. Damian grunted as he faced him once more. "Alright then, what's so important?" "Well.. you know how earlier I told you I ended up on this ship by accident? I might not have been entirely honest." Damian crossed his arms over his chest. "Didn't I tell you I didn't care why or how you ended up on thi-" "There's a dead body in the storage room." Mitsuhiko jumped straight to the point. "And if what I heard earlier is true, someone aboard this ship is going to be killed before this cruise is over." Damian's eyes widened as his arms dropped down to his side in disbelief. The uncertain look on his face turned to one of determination just as fast. "Tsuburaya… tell me everything." …. Traffic was light at the given moment. How much time had passed since either had spoken a word? He blinked an eye, the urge to close his eyes completely weighed heavily. It had been a long day to say the least. Passing another street light his eyes peered off to the right side, he was familiar with the area and knew a coffee shop would soon be reached. When that time came he took a right, pulling into the parking lot of the desired location. The man sitting in the passenger seat was confused by this action. "Gin, what are we doing here?" "To get a drink, why else would I stop here?" questioned Gin who pulled into an empty parking space. After bringing the vehicle to a halt he looked to his comrade. "You coming?" Vodka shrugged. "Why not?" The two exited the vehicle to be met by a passing breeze. "Finally a chance to stretch my legs." Gin said nothing as he advanced toward the coffee shop. "Bro, hold on," Vodka called. "What about the meeting, is it still going down Saturday?" Gin stopped before turning to match his eyes. "The meeting has been pushed back due to that side show being pushed to Sunday," informed Gin. "In other words our meeting will occur Sunday night to coincide as we originally planned." "No doubt all because of that Riddler fiasco," Vodka assumed. "I still don't see why it's so important for our meeting to fall in line with that Kamen Yaiba showing." "Complaining isn't going to change that." "I'm aware." Moments of filled silence passed between the pair. ".. Gin, tell me. What have you heard about the newcomer, Horilka? You never specified to me what they're bringing to the table." "… They have a special background for hunting." "Hunting? Doesn't sound all that special to me," Vodka remarked. "Last I checked we're not an organization of poachers." "Horilka hunting is for a special kind of people." "Oh yah, and what kind of people are we talking?" "Mercenaries." Vodka was now intrigued. "Mercenaries? Since when do we go after mercenari-" "The moment one foiled not one, or two, but three of our organization's operations within the past four months," relayed Gin. "I never heard that." "I received the news myself earlier today," Gin said. "In regards to the new, Horilka is being brought in to find them, and when that happens.. I will put the pest on ice myself." This was not what Vodka was expecting to hear. "Someone has been screwing with our business?! Who?!" Gin turned for the coffee shop. "We don't have a name, no knowledge of where she or he is from, we don't know who they answers to.. if anyone. We know very little, only that they are skilled in the art of combat and are proficient with firearms." Gin began to walk with Vodka following. "Nothing we can't handle." Vodka was confident in his words. "Bro, this person.. the mercenary, do we at least have a description for what the bastard may look like?" Now halfway across the lot Gin stopped, facing his partner for a final time. "No one has gotten a look at their face, even if they've managed to come within feet of them." "Huh? If people have gotten that close how were they not able to make out their look?" "I'm told this specific mercenary wears a hood over their head," answered Gin who turned to walk once more. "A 'red hood'." To Be Continued
  6. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 26 Guest List First the fear toxin, then Riddler, and now.. now him? Damian couldn't believe it. There was no way this could be coincidence, could it? Trogg turned to the man that now stood behind him, a questioning look prevalent on his face. "You sure about this, don't you want me to-" "Unnecessary," rejected Bane. "A matter such as this doesn't call for such action. You may see yourself out Trogg." "But boss." Trogg would be cut off for a second time. "I don't plan on dismissing you for a third time, go." The command in Bane's voice was powerful. "I.. yes, of course." Making his way by Trogg exited. This left just the three of them. Mitsuhiko turned focus to the items that had fallen out of the barrel he had inside. Walking over he picked up each and everything that had scattered back into the barrel. After doing so he sat the barrel back up. In that moment Mitsuhiko's eyes popped. "There it is!" The very crate that had led him to this point was sitting in the far right corner of the room, stashed behind several other shipments. There was something strange, something that didn't sit quite right. "The strong odor I smelled while in the back of that truck, how come I can't smell it anymore? The body is just over there, so shouldn't we be able to smell it?" Damian glanced over at him in the seconds that followed. "What is it?" questioned Mitsuhiko after noticing this. "Would you mind waiting outside?" Mitsuhiko pointed to himself. "You want me to wait outside?" "I'm certain you're the only one standing next to me," Damian pointed out. "Who else could I possibly be talking to? Your imaginary friend?" "I don't have a.."Mitsuhiko paused. "Forget it." Turning in the direction of the doorway he gulped upon sighting the large man that stood in wait. When Mitsuhiko didn't immediately begin walking Damian gave him a push. "The door isn't going to come to you." "I know that," muttered Mitsuhiko. He pressed on, his legs feeling as if they were weakening with each taken step, almost as if he was walking through an endless swamp of mud. The closer he got, the faster his heart raced. He took one look at Bane before swinging his head elsewhere. "Gee, that is one big guy! I'd hate to get on his bad side." As Mitsuhiko came within inches of Bane he began to shiver. He glanced up at him for a second time, bringing about a fear he only got when coming across that of death. Mitsuhiko managed to look away, hurrying along after stepping past him. After reaching the door Mitsuhiko breathed a sigh of relief. He looked in the direction of the crate for a final time. "I will solve this mystery, no matter what." From there Mitsuhiko stepped out of the room. This left just the two of them. Many seconds passed, not a word. Damian took the liberty of delivering the first line. "Well." "Well," to which Bane responded. Damian knew he would have to choose his next words carefully. There was no way he could afford confrontation, especially not against someone like Bane without the assistance of any of the others. Maintaining a look of confidence Damian strolled over, coming within feet of him in short time. "I would have never expected to cross you while on my travels," Damian admitted. "Likewise." Damian's sights fell to the ground momentarily. Twitching an eye Bane grunted; he was becoming impatient. Damian faced him once more. "What are you doing in Japan? And on a cruiser of all places? Admittedly, I never took you for a vacationer Bane." "I'm not obligated nor will I answer to the likes of you," Bane scoffed. "You will however tell me what you're doing aboard this ship, I don't believe in unwanted coincidence to this level." Damian went on to cross his arms over his chest. "And if I don't?" Leaning forward Bane closed the distance between them. "Listen here chico, I'm going to ask one thing of you and I'm only going to ask it once. Stay out of my things and out of my way, clear? That goes for your camarada as well." "You don't intimidate me," Damian retorted. Bane grinned. "You're alone. What hope would you have against me?" "What makes you so sure I'm alone?" "I have surveillance installed in certain locations on this ship, one being this storage room," Bane relayed. "Did you really think it was coincidence that I tailed you down here so soon after you arrived? And from the footage I've gathered I know you've come alone." "It appears I've been figured." "I'll always be a step ahead." "What the hell are you planning to do?" Bane stood back up straight. "I plan nothing. And if you mind your own business I give my word no harm will come to you or anyone else," promised Bane as he turned for the door himself. "Dear cross me bird, and I'll break you." There was nothing more to say. Bane exited the room in the same fashion he had come. Now alone, Damian stood in silence. What was he to do now? Somewhere in the room Bane had already set up a recording device of his own, so if he were to plant one himself Bane would surely know. Clutching his right fist Damian stomped a foot. "Damn him.. this changes everything." Moments later the storage door cracked open once more. "What now?" wondered Damian. In seconds he came to find it was only Mitsuhiko. "Oh, it's you." "Hey, what's that supposed to mean?" Mitsuhiko questioned, referring to the tone in his words. "Ah.. nothing," Damian responded. "Aren't you going to come out," asked Mitsuhiko who stepped back into the room. "Or do you plan on staying in here?" "Of course I don't plan on staying in here," replied Damian who launched an effort toward the door, moving past Mitsuhiko in the process. "Hey, wait for me!" called Mitsuhiko who followed after him. Now in the darkness of the hall Damian raised a hand to his chin, his thoughts scattering to make meaning of it all. The shipment of the toxin, Bane.. both on the same cruiser? What was the connection? Was there even a connection? Could it be pure coincidence? "Father once said the obvious is never to be overlooked, but to also account for the unlikely or unexpected." This in Damian's mind meant everyone else on the cruiser was just as much of a suspect as Bane in regards to who was linked to the shipment of the toxin. The question now, who? "Damian-kun, so," began Mitsuhiko. "I got the vibe you knew those guys. Are they friends of yours?" His words did not register to Damian who kept moving through the hall. "Given that Bane already has cameras stationed throughout the ship, me doing the same would only draw his attention. I'll have to go about my investigation in a more discreet way," Damian thought to himself. "But even with that said I need something to expand my sight.. I need an extra set of eyes." "Hey Damian-kun, are you even listening?" asked Mitsuhiko who continued to pursue his attention. "That's it!" Damian stopped abruptly which caused Mitsuhiko to do the same. "What's wrong?" Mitsuhiko asked. Facing him Damian responded. "You'll have to do." Mitsuhiko was puzzled. "Wh.. what?" "Listen Tsuburaya, I have an assignment for you," Damian conveyed. "I need your help with something." Mitsuhiko was not expecting this. "You need my help?" "You and your friends.. you're the Detective Boys, right?" Mitsuhiko nodded, giving confirmation. "What about it?" "I need that side of you, a detective. The task is simple. How should I put this.." Damian momentarily fell silent. "I just need you to keep an eye on things." "Keep an eye on things?" Mitsuhiko went on to rub the top of his head in obvious confusion. "Um, yah.. I don't get it what you're talking about." Damian clarified. "All passengers on this ship besides you and myself, I want you to keep a lookout for anyone or anything suspicious." "Have you already forgotten? I ended up on this ship by accident," Mitsuhiko reminded. "Without a paid ticket I'll be kicked off the cruiser if security or the captain finds out." "Drop it already, we both know you didn't end up on this ship by some unplanned measure of coincident," stated Damian who began walking once more, pulling out his phone in the process. "As far as a paid ticket is concerned, you need not worry about that. I'll make sure that's not a problem." Mitsuhiko followed after him. "Where are we going?" "To the deck," replied Damian. "Everyone who is scheduled to be a part of tonight's cruise should all be boarding soon. First impressions are always very telling." "How many people will be on board in all?" "The number I have is only for those who pre-paid," replied Damian. "That won't account for those that will show up within the hour. I checked the list for staff earlier, outside of us the people confirmed to be on board are the captain, two security guards, and two cooks." "What time is the cruiser supposed to depart?" "Seven forty five sharp," replied Damian who went on to check the time. It was twenty two after seven. "We have roughly twenty five minutes before that time comes." "You said before you want me to look out for anything suspicious," Mitsuhiko referred back to. "And?" "Why?" asked Mitsuhiko. "Believe me Tsuburaya, the less you know the better." That was the only answer Damian was going to give. This sparked a possibility in Mitsuhiko's mind. Could it be that Damian too was aware there was someone aboard the ship who was possibly plotting to commit murder? "No, there's no way he could know. He must be looking out for something else." Mitsuhiko seemed sure of this. The question residing on mind now, should he tell Damian everything he had seen and gone through within the past couple hours? The two walked in silence the rest of the way. In small time the two made it to the destined location. This was Mitsuhiko's first time standing on deck; he looked on in awe at the sight to see. "Wow.." The rich white color of the ship's floor, the gold railings even. What really caught his eye was the outside pool sitting directly in the center of the ship. Mitsuhiko's train of thought would be cut off by Damian who waved him off to the side. "Come on." "Where are we going?" asked Mitsuhiko. He would soon find out. After coming within inches of the railing overlooking the sea Damian stopped. Turning around he began scouring the deck for any new faces. "It doesn't appear any one else has boarded since I visited the storage room." Upon having his view fall toward the far left he noticed the tall man he had spoken with earlier. "Hey, Tsuburaya," Damian began. "Stay here for a sec, I'll be right back." "Where are you going?" Mitsuhiko asked. Damian walked off without so much as an explanation. "Well, I guess I shouldn't be surprised." It didn't take long for Damian to close the distance. It took only moments for the tall man to notice him. "So the little guy returns." "Damian," he went on to convey. "Damian Wayne." "And I'm Shou Inaba. The pleasure is mine Wayne-kun." Damian crossed his arms over his chest. "Question for you Inaba, within the past couple minutes has anyone else come aboard the ship?" Shou looked up as if to think. "Well, outside of two guys I presumed to be security guards I've yet to see anyone board the.. wait, hold on." Shou paused. "What is it?" Shou looked down at him. "Actually there was someone who did board, some kid in a sports cap," Shou recalled. He then went on to look across the deck area. "Not sure where he ran off to though, that would have been about two minutes ago." "What did he look like?" Damian asked. "Didn't get a close look at him," Shou admitted. "He was young, no older than twenty if I had to take a guess. Why do you ask? You expecting someone?" Damian made a move to walk away. "Something like that." By this time Mitsuhiko's sights had gravitated to the view of the ocean. The sound of footsteps approaching bled through the sound of the sailing waves below. Still focused on the ocean Mitsuhiko spoke. "Did you find what you were looking for?" "To an extent," Damian replied. Turning he leaned his back to the railing as he looked in the direction for where the ramp connected to the ship was. He knew anybody who was to arrive would have to board from there. Standing beside the ramp was one of the security guards. "Hey, Damian-kun.. don't you still want to know what lead to me ending up on this ship?" "At this point in time I don't really care," Damian admitted. "We need to focus on all who board. That's all that matters." Mitsuhiko looked back at the ocean. "So, what now?" "We wait." Individually both had a lot on their minds. Bane's unexpected appearance.. the Scarecrow's toxin, a possible murder plot. Just what twists and turns would this cruise bring? It was in those silent filled moments of thought that Damian really began to dive into the possibility of it all. "The more and more I think about it the less sense it makes. Bane is a conqueror, and is rarely subtle about how he chooses to make noise. Spreading fear toxin.. that's not his style." It was feeling more and more unlikely by the minute that Bane was linked with the fear toxin. If not him, who? Could it be one of the other passengers that would be a part of tonight's cruise? "From here I'll need to analyze each and every one who boards this cruiser." Without warning someone appeared from afar, someone who made their way up the ramp. Giving sharp eye, Damian made out as much of them as possible. It appeared to be a man based on their stature and size. He had long brown hair, wearing a pair of jeans, blue colored sneakers, and a tan colored sweater. Damian watched as he spoke with the security guard who was handling the boarding check ins. "And you are?" asked the security guard. "Lukmar Xiene." the man held up an ID to confirm this. The security guard then went on to check the list showing who had paid, nodding his head before giving him the ok. "Got ya, you're free to enter." He then went on to hand him a key card. "Your room number is 24B." Moving past, Lukmar walked across the ship's deck. He didn't stop, continuing toward the left end of the ship. "Doesn't appear to be anything suspicious about him, even so I'll be sure to keep an eye on him just in case," Damian said. Not long after three more people marched up the ramp. Traveling in the front was young man and woman, both dressed in what one would describe as jogging attire. The woman had two carryon bags while the man had only one. Along with them was an older man who trailed slightly behind. He wore a pair of shades and held a cane in his left hand. "Welcome to the Sunshine cruiser. And you three are?" inquired the security guard. The young man took the liberty of answering. "I am Taro Toda," he replied before then turning to the woman who stood at his side. "And this is my wife Kiku Toda along with my father in law, Katsuo Yanagi." The security guard found their listed names in little time. "You may proceed." They too received card keys. "Clearly they're traveling as a family." Like the first there didn't appear to be anything suspicious about the trio. Unlike the man to have boarded before them the three of them headed towards the right. Suddenly a sound was heard, a loud splash that came left from where he stood. "What was that..?" Damian assumed it to be some fish splashing about beside the ship. Moments later someone else appeared at ramp side. "Good, everyone is showing up now." This time it was a single woman. She had long red hair that was tied in a ponytail. Sitting atop her head was a grey colored floppy hat, complementing that was the grey summer dress she wore. The only carry on item she had was the suitcase she dragged along. "She looks innocent enough." Damian couldn't help but look her up and down. The shape of her body, the configuration of her face, the complexion of her skin even.. there was something there. "I don't know what it is, but something seems really familiar about her. I can't quite pin point what though.." Seconds into staring her over Damian felt a nudge at his right arm, turning to find a grinning Mitsuhiko. "What?" Damian questioned. "You're totally checking her out," Mitsuhiko accused. "I am not," denied Damian who looked away. Mitsuhiko giggled. "Yah, whatever you say." "What a delusional claim," remarked Damian under his breath. "Ma'am, would you please state you name," the security guard asked of her. Turning her head with the swing of her hair she held up her ID. "Rosetta," she replied. "Rosetta Dellmara." "You're clear to pass Dellmara-san," the security guard conveyed after checking the list. Given the ok to do so, she grabbed hold of the key card before doing just that. Directly following her was a bald man who stood at least six feet tall. He had on a red tank top and a pair of black colored jeans. Sitting over his shoulders was a backpack, he carried nothing more. "Neour Cheon," the man reported in. "You're listed here, you can enter." Damian caught eye of something over to the right. It was Bane. "What's he up to now?" wondered Damian. Bane wasn't alone; Trogg was with him along with two others, another man and a woman. Damian immediately recognized the long haired blonde man. "That's Bird, Bane's right hand man," Damian noted before turning focus to the woman. "Not a clue who she is, no doubt a new recruit or a business partner of some kind." Not wanting to miss the boarding of anyone else Damian refocused his line of sight. A minute passed, then a couple more. Mitsuhiko spoke once more. "Has everyone boarded yet?" Damian replied. "Still ongoing." A second later another person appeared. The boy wonder's suspicions were tickled. The person to appear wore a thick white jacket, a pair of shades, a ski cap, and a hygiene mask over their mouth. Could it be that they were simply ill? Or was there more to it than that? "State your name," the security guard asked of them. "My name?" "Yes, confirming you're on the guest list or have already paid is a requirement before I can allow you to board." "Oh yes, of course. Manabu Yoneda." Like those who previously boarded his name too was checked off the list. "Welcome to the top of my list of suspects," Damian announced internally. "Hey Damian-kun, look!" Mitsuhiko pointed. "I see someone suspicious! See that person in the jacket?" "Nice catch genius," Damian muttered under his breath. The two watched as the person who was fully covered from head to toe strolled off to the left side of the ship. There was only one thought in Mitsuhiko's mind, was this the person he needed to be weary of. "Damian-Kun, think we should follow him?" "No. If they're up to something us following them will only alert them to the fact we're coming onto them," Damian explained. "We'll watch from afar, and if need be we'll act when the time is right. Got it?" Mitsuhiko nodded. Manabu fell out of sight after turning the corner on the far left. Shortly after two more people approached the security guard. It was a woman and a man. The woman wore a black dress and had on black elbow length gloves. The man standing next to her wore a black suit and carried a brief case in one hand and held a suitcase in the other. "Names?" the security guard went on to ask. "I am Reira Jo," the woman answered before looking toward the man who stood beside her. "And this is Issuma Sadow." Smiling, the security guard nodded his head. "How did I not realize it?! It is a pleasure to meet you Jo-san, I'm a big fan of your work." Reira was flattered to hear this. "Why thank you." "I passed your names on the list earlier, you're free to board," conveyed the security guard who stepped to the side to allow them entry. Damian blinked an eye. "Reira Jo? Is she famous or something? Cus I've never heard of her." Mitsuhiko was surprised to learn this. "You haven't?" "Who is she anyway?" Damian asked. "Some kind of big time star?" "Yep. She is an up and coming singer," informed Mitsuhiko. "Everyone in school has been talking about her. Jo-san's newest track is scheduled to come out early next month." "Is that right?" Damian looked back in the direction of the singer and the man with her. He'd definitely keep tabs on the two of them. The next person to approach the security guard was an older woman, one whom he presumed to be in her late forties, early fifties. She was alone, and carried with her a single suitcase and wore a straw hat atop her head. "Hello there," the woman greeted. She was fully aware of the procedure that was to follow. "My name is Freya Hepperway, I purchased my ticket online about-" "Two hours ago, yes," the security guard confirmed. "I added you to the list of attendees first thing." "Thank you," replied Freya who went on to board after receiving a key card. Splash! For a second time within the past ten minutes Damian heard a loud splash which yanked his attention, even if only a little. "Those must be some good sized fish if I can hear them from here," Damian thought to himself. Redirecting his focus he looked just as three more people came within view. It was a woman accompanied by two men. All three wore sun glasses, stylish black leather jackets, and a backpack of their own. "And you three are?" asked the security guard. The woman who stood front and center titled her shades down to where her dark brown eyes could be seen. "We're the fun bunch," she replied, blowing and popping the chewed gum in her mouth. "I'm Yasu Oehi, and these two freeloaders are-" She would be cut off by the shorter man of the pair. "Name's Kiyoshi, and my pal here is Saburo." Looking over their ID's and running eye down the guest list once more the security guard nodded before looking back at them. "You're all listed, step right on through." The two continued to observe. "They certainly look like a bunch of winners," Damian remarked. "What's that supposed to mean?" Mitsuhiko asked. "Only that they're people we should keep an eye on during the duration of this cruise," answered Damain. "Are you ever going to tell me what exactly we're looking out for?" "Probably not," Damian admitted. Mitsuhiko frowned. "Come on, we're a team now." "No, you're just an extra set of eyes," Damian noted. "Why are you so mean?" asked Mitsuhiko who turned to where he now fully faced him. "I swear you ask too many questions." Mitsuhiko was baffled. "Look," Damian pointed. "Someone else is coming." This time it was a woman, standing at her side was a young boy. How old was he? Six? Maybe seven? The two were greeted by a security guard like everyone else before them. "Need help with your suitcase there kid?" the security guard offered as he gave eye to the boy. "Oh, he'll be ok," the woman assured. "Won't ya Sammy?" The young boy nodded. Smiling, the security guard stepped off to the side. "You're a strong one aren't you?" "You know it," the boy smiled in response. "I'm guessing you're the party of two at the top of the list, Anna and Samuel Hamilton?" "You hit it on the nail mister," confirmed Anna. "That woman is clearly that boy's mother," Damian figured. "No doubt about that." Mitsuhiko agreed. The next to appear was a pair of teenagers, both had on uniforms Damian assumed was representative of whatever school they went to. "Hey, hold on a second," said Mitsuhiko whose eyes narrowed. He took a long hard look at the two to have just arrived. Damian looked at him. "What is it?" "I knew it!" exclaimed Mitsuhiko. "I totally know that girl. Yah, she's Aoko Nakamori, daughter of the inspector of the Tokyo district, Ginzo Nakamori." Damian's mind flashed back to the night he spotted Ginzo for the first time during the whole Riddler fiasco. "Is that right?" Damian then looked to the one who accompanied her. "What about the guy, you know him to?" "Hmmm, he does look familiar," admitted Mitsuhiko. "But his name leaves me at the moment." "Would the two of you show me some form of identification?" asked the security guard. "Of course," replied Aoko who went on to hold out her ID for him to see. She then looked to Kaito who was seemingly searching through any and all of his pockets. "What are you doing?" "Well.." Kaito began as a huge grin formed. "I have seemed to misplaced my ID." "What do you mean you misplaced it?!" exclaimed Aoko. "Are you telling me we traveled all this way for nothing?!" Ignoring her Kaito faced the security guard. "Hey, I may not have my ID. But you seem like a reasonable guy, any chance you'll let me board by taking my word for who I say I am?" The security guard smiled himself. "That's not how things work. No ID, no cruise." Kaito's eyes widened, a freight now present on his face. "What is that?!" The security guard nearly jumped. "What is what?!" "There, beside your left ear, a spider!" Kaito pointed. He took a step forward. "Don't move, I'll grab it!" Aoko was confused. "What is he talking about, I don't see a spider." Reaching out to the left side of his face, Kaito pulled back with such force. "Got it!" Kaito stated as the smirk from before returned. Kaito then went on to open the palm of his hand. "Oh.. I guess it wasn't a spider, but rather.. my ID!" Kaito held up his ID for the security guard to see. He couldn't help but laugh. "Impressive, how did you do that?!" "Well," began Kaito who bowed his head. "I'm magic." Kaito then looked over at Aoko whose hands were now on her hips. She wasn't amused in the least, the glare on her face all too telling. Kaito looked back to the security guard. "I think someone needs a sense of humor," Kaito whispered to him. "No comment," was all the security guard would say. The security guard then went on to handing each of them separate key cards. Damian watched as Aoko went on to seemingly nag her companion as they walked. "I doubt either of them are connected to Scarecrow's goods," thought Damian. "But looks can certainly be deceiving." A short time later two additional women walked up the ramp. Both were in high spirits. "Hello ladies, may I enquire your names and see a form of identification from you both?" The two of them held their ID's up for him to read, leaving him to do just that. "Chiasa Waitto.. Yuriko Konya. I have the both of you listed, you're good to go." Receiving their tickets the two marched forward, as they did the longer haired girl stopped. This prompted her friend to do the same. "What's wrong Yuriko-chan?" Yuriko went on to grasp her hair, twisting it in attempt to ring out the water. "My hair is still wet, it's really bothering me," Yuriko replied. "How did you get wet again?" Chiasa laughingly asked. She took amusement in her friend's displeasure. Yuriko simply rolled her eyes. "I already told you, and I don't plan on repeating myself." This only garnered further laughter from Chiasa. "There doesn't appear to be anything suspicious about those two," Damian said to himself. "You think that's the last of them?" Mitsuhiko questioned. "Last or not, everyone who plans on going on this particular cruise will have to be on board within the next minute or so," replied Damian. "So we must be close." Another couple minutes passed as the two stood in wait. The ship's departure had to be close, right? "The cruiser will depart at seven forty five right? What time is it now?" Mitsuhiko asked. Checking the time Damian responded. "We have exactly six minutes before the deadline; we'll be heading out before you know it." A look of intent grew on Mitsuhiko's face. "And that's when the investigation will truly begin." Mitsuhiko was not only excited, but even a little frightened. His friends weren't there, no Conan.. this was his moment, if there was ever a time to prove himself as a detective the time was now. "I can do this," said Mitsuhiko attempting to wash out any doubt that lingered. A short time later a new face appeared, but this time it wasn't someone who was boarding from ramp side, but rather someone who panned into their line of view from the right. "Who is that?" Mitsuhiko wondered. There was no doubt in Damian's mind who it was. "Based on their apparel I'd say that's the captain, Hirata." The sailor themed suit and hat was very telling. "If he's making an appearance that can only mean we'll be setting sail shortly." The man who Damian assumed to be the captain didn't stop, continuing across the deck of the ship clear to the other side. "What do you think he's doing?" Mitsuhiko asked. "He's heading in the direction of the control room," Damian pointed out. "That can only mean we will depart soon." This thought would only be further backed by what happened next. The ramp that was connected to the ship was disconnected, meaning that no one else would be boarding. The cast was now set, and the show would soon begin. "There are thirty two people on board including Tsuburaya and myself. Of the large remaining sum there are five staff members; the captain, two security guards, and the two cooks," Damian took mental note of. There was only one thing about this cruise that held any real meaning in his mind. "So.. which one of them is it?" That was the question above all, of everyone on tonight's cruise who was the one tied to Scarecrow's fear gas? Similar thoughts ran through Mitsuhiko's mind. There was no doubt; someone was aboard the ship with intentions of killing another. But who? Of the thirty two people outside of him and Damian, who could it possibly be? And who was the target? Whatever the case he'd have to determine that, and soon.. before it is too late. Mitsuhiko looked over at Damian, the question lingering.. should he tell him the truth about what lead to him ending up on this ship? Whatever the choice, he knew it would bring ramifications. But in what light? Good or bad? The roar of the ship's engine ignited seconds later, the cruise was now to begin. "Here we go." To Be Continued
  7. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 25 Paths Crossed Conan stood by window side, staring up at the sky that gradually darkened. The voices of his friends carried from the near distance. What they said didn't register. There was only one thing on his mind. "Mitsuhiko.. where are you?" Nearly an hour had passed since the others arrived. Lowering his head Conan raised his phone in hand. He had yet to receive a message from Mitsuhiko. This was concerning. Of their group, Mitsuhiko was the last one he'd expect this from. "Conan," Genta called. When he didn't respond Genta tried for a second time. "Yo Conan, you ok?" Conan finally acknowledging him stepped away from the window. "I'm fine," assured Conan. Strolling over, he took a seat in an empty chair left of everyone else. "I was just thinking is all." "You're worried about Tsuburaya-kun," Haibara noted. There was no hiding this fact. Conan didn't try and deny it. "Have any of you heard back from him?" "I haven't," replied Genta. "Me either," said Ayumi. "I wouldn't worry about it. He might just be busy," Haibara assumed. "That wouldn't explain why he hasn't at least called to let us know that," Conan responded. Haibara took a deep breath. "Everything doesn't have to be some big mystery that needs to be solved. It could simply be that he is away from his phone right now." Even if just a little, this comforted Conan. "Maybe she's right, maybe I am overthinking the whole situation." "Hey, why don't we go to the park?" suggested Genta. "There's still plenty of time before it gets dark." "Seconded!" said Ayumi cheerfully. "For what?" Conan asked. "To play ball of course," answered Genta. "You know, that doesn't sound like a bad idea." Conan then looked toward Ai. "What do you say Haibara? You want to join us?" Ai shrugged. "I don't see why not." The four then made their way toward the front door. They didn't get far before hearing his voice. "Conan-kun, there's something I'd like to show you before you depart," Hiroshi called from where he sat in front of the computer. "You guys go on ahead, I'll catch up," Conan said to his friends before making way over to Agasa. He stopped after reaching his side. "What is it doc?" Hiroshi shifted in the chair before delivering the news. "The results of the scan are in," Hiroshi informed. "From the DNA I collected from you, and the saliva samples I pulled from the glass cups for Ayumi-chan and Genta-kun." Conan was not only pleased to hear this, but anxious. "So?" "The fear toxin, like what was present in Ai-chan's system." Hiroshi paused. "Like her, I detected traces of it in all three of you as well." There was a mixture of emotions. Was he surprised? Not entirely. How did they come in contact with the substance? When? The possibilities began coursing through his mind. He could only assume the same was true for Mitsuhiko. "Shinichi, aren't you going to say something?" Hiroshi questioned. There was one question above all others Conan wished to know. "Why?" Hiroshi looked at him curiously. "I beg your pardon?" "Haibara was affected. What about the rest of us?" Conan knew an answer wouldn't come easy. "Why didn't we feel the effects?" "That is the question, isn't it?" Like Conan, Hiroshi was just as clueless on that front. There had to be a reason, but what? … Gotham, Wayne Enterprises "I can't thank you enough for agreeing to have this meeting with me on such short notice," said Jirokichi. Bruce who took lead as they traveled through the long halls stopped upon reaching a certain door. "This is it." Bruce opened the door, stepping aside as if to invite Jirokichi in. "Welcome to my office." Nodding, Jirokichi accepted the invitation in. The first thing that caught his sight was the large windows, ones which provided a view of the entirety of the city. Trotting over, Jirokichi placed his arms behind his back. "Absolutely magnificent." The point of view, the colors, the wide range of structures, it was all so.. breath taking. Looking down upon an entire empire is what it felt like. "It is quite the view." Bruce couldn't agree anymore. He pressed on toward the large desk across the way, taking a seat after reaching it. "You wished to discuss business, so shall we?" Jirokichi stepped away from window-side. "Yes, I won't let the view detract me from why I've traveled all the way here." Jirokichi walked over and took a seat in the chair directly across from Bruce. "Back in the lobby, you mentioned Kaitou Kid," Bruce said. "From the limited knowledge I have about you one thing is notable, your long list of encounters with that thief. You two certainly have a lengthy history, don't you?" This caught Jirokichi by surprise. "So you have heard of me? Well I'll be damned, my reputation precedes me. Well since you have that much knowledge then I don't really need to explain who I am, or even why I'm here." Slightly leaning forward Jirokichi went on. "I'd wager you've already determined that." "Kaitou Kid stole from the Gotham Museum days ago, and then just yesterday took an item from the art show I had put together from here," Bruce noted. "In both cases the Wayne security that had been set up was bypassed." "Kid eluded the police and myself at the Midtown Tower as well," Jirokichi added. "And not just last night, but for years now." "Double jeopardy at its finest," remarked Bruce. "Onto the matter at hand; am I right to assume what you seek is an open hand for a partnership?" "The last two places Kaitou Kid has hit have been linked to you in some form or fashion." "And you believe that trend will continue?" ".. That is yet to be seen." Bruce eased back in seat. "I must ask.. what is it you want from me? How would a partnership between us prove beneficial?" "My initiative and deep knowledge on Kaitou Kid's habits coupled in with the technology you hold at your disposal is a match that can't be overcome." Jirokichi seemed confident in stating this. "I took some time to look at some of the branches of your company, Wayne Technologies and the Wayne Electronics caught my eye in particular. So Wayne-sama, how do you feel about taking up the challenge of capturing one of the world's greatest thieves?" Bruce eased up, resting his chin atop his hands that had been placed together. Nothing was said for seconds. Jirokichi was unsure of what to make of this. "Wayne-sama?" Bruce stood to his feet. "For starters, no need to be so formal Mr. Suzuki. Call me Bruce." "Bruce, yes, of course." "And to answer your question.." Bruce now looked him dead in the eyes. "I think it is high due time that Kaitou Kid was apprehended." Jirokichi couldn't hold back a smile. "I'm over joyed to know we're on the same page." "You do understand Mr. Suzuki that I will be unable to travel back to Tokyo with you at this time?" Bruce voiced. "Yes, your position here I'd imagine would prohibit such an action." Jirokichi fully understood. "Besides, you also have a charity event you're hosting later this week; No doubt that holds high importance." "So you're aware?" "I happened to come across the tabloid on my way to this very building." Bruce smiled as he proceeded to have a seat once more. "Even with all that said I'd like for us to keep a close.. hand in our efforts for catching Kid." "And how do you propose we do that Bruce-san?" asked Jirokichi who gave a grin of his own. "We live worlds apart." "I'd like to send someone for you to closely work with on my behalf, an associate, a close ally of mine if you will," conveyed Bruce. "They would help oversee any operation we put together, serving as the physical presence in Japan that I can't be on a consistent basis. Of course it will be someone who if familiar with the tech that I have to offer." Jirokichi's grin widened. "I like the way you think." "Then it appears we have an agreement," replied Bruce who held out his hand. Jirokichi firmly shook his hand. "Let's call that a checkmate." And just like that a new partnership was formed. ….. Tokyo, Japan Panic? No, there was no time for that. Mitsuhiko's body was now shaking. Fear resided, but he would not let that overcome him. "So I have no idea where I'm going, check. I have no way out of this truck, check. Oh, and there's also a dead body, check." Mitsuhiko had since focused his attention away from the body. It was that moment that the thought occurred to him. 'I'm a detective'. In some strange way he felt obligated to investigate the situation at hand. "What would Conan do?" That very thought streamed through his mind. Mitsuhiko gulped, shivering as he reached for his flashlight once more. Forcing himself back to his feet he shined the light's beam into the direction of the body. He took a deep breath. "Alright Mitsuhiko, you can do this." Stepping around a set of boxes the body was back in view. There was no stopping now. It felt as if his legs became weaker with every taken step. Mitsuhiko stopped after reaching the body. He was frozen in place. The thought of his friends came over him, leading to his hand tightening around the flashlight in hand. "I have to do this." Mitsuhiko lowered himself to a knee. Now with a clear view of the body it was time to begin. "Ok, fi.. first I need to check the temperature of the body." Even with the strong scent of bleach the truck had been doused with, there was no denying the smell of death. Mitsuhiko reached forward, his hand making contact with a strand of long shoulder length hair. "Dark brown," said Mitsuhiko taking note of the gathered detail. Using his index finger he pushed the hair aside before pressing his hand against the deceased's neck. The body was cold, hard. "From what I can tell they've been dead for at least twenty four hours. How much more than that I can't say." What was the cause of death? That was the top question to be asked. Using the lights ray Mitsuhiko searched all boundaries of the body. No wounds, nothing to suggest foul play as far as he could tell. "There has to be something to go off of," said Mitsuhiko who stood back to his feet. He now looked over the body from a different vantage point. Based from the physique of the body he assumed the victim to be male. There wasn't any glaring details or features on the body such as a tattoo or scar to make for any further determinations. "Even with all that, I still know little to nothing. Think Mitsuhiko, think." The young detective took a step back. "Conan once said, if the body doesn't tell the story then perhaps the scene of the crime will." Mitsuhiko then went on to focus his attention on the surrounding area. "I doubt whatever happened to this guy happened here. If I had to take a guess, if he was killed it would have been somewhere else and then his body was brought here to.. wait, that's it!" Mitsuhiko turned in every direction to have his thought confirmed. Fear and fret had blinded him from realizing sooner. No matter where he looked there were boxes and crates to be found everywhere. "Now I see, the driver of this truck must work for some kind of shipping company." Wanting to be sure of this he began looking over each and every box. Sure enough, each of them had a label, showing they were destined to reach a certain location. Somehow Mitsuhiko managed a smile through it all. "There's also the bleach. It is clear they were trying to hide the smell of the decaying body," He determined. Mitsuhiko's focus then fell back to the former. "Hold on a sec, if all these boxes have a label, then the crate the body was hidden in must have one as well." Mitsuhiko immediately looked back into the direction of the body. "If I can find out where the body is supposed to end up at, then perhaps I'll have a deeper understanding for what is going on." Even with that said, there was still so much that was unknown. Mitsuhiko made his return to the side of the body. Once there he turned his focus on the boxed shipment the body had been sealed in. A mere couple seconds was all it took for Mitsuhiko to notice a shipment label attached on the side of the large crate. "Let's see here." Holding the light steadily Mitsuhiko went on to read what was printed on the label. "End in Uji, rebirth in Bay." He read over it a number of six times, and with each there was not much to make of it. "Unlike the labels on the others packages, this one doesn't even have an address attached to it," stated Mitsuhiko. "Just some random words. Is it an inside message of some kind?" Mitsuhiko thought back to the events that had led him to this moment. The suspicious person in the coat, the man they met up with at the construction site. "Wait a minute.." Mitsuhiko didn't put much stock into their words before, but now with the dead body.. could it be there was something alarming in their conversation that he had failed to consider? "The man in the suit mentioned retribution would come in full circle tonight, is he taking revenge on someone?" Mitsuhiko began shaking at the thought of the possibility. "That could mean another killing." He couldn't allow that. "What a lousy time for me to be separated from Conan and the oth-" Mitsuhiko stopped. Something unexpected happened at that moment. The truck came to a complete halt, with it bringing the stop of the vehicles engine. Mitsuhiko's eyes fired wide. "He stopped, which means there's a good chance he'll come back here. That's not good!" There was only one thing on his mind. "I have to hide!" As he had before, Mitsuhiko made haste to the far end of the trailer, taking position behind a number of boxes as he turned off his flashlight. He sat in silence, listening to the sound of the passing vehicles on the outside. A sound was heard soon after, one which echoed throughout the entire trailer. There was no mistaking what it was. "Someone's opening the trailer doors." Mitsuhiko's heart began racing as it had before. Light from the outside charged in the moment the doors were opened. "It's time to begin." There was no mistaking who the voice belonged to, it was the man in the business suit from before. Following the claimed, the sound of him hopping into the trailer was clearly heard. Mitsuhiko tightly closed his eyes as he braced for all outcomes. "Please don't let him see me. It can't end like this!" Movement was heard, he was clearly moving deeper into the trailer. "He's getting closer.." Mitsuhiko was dead frozen. He knew the slightest of movement could very well give away his position. All sound seized in an instant, it could only mean one thing in Mitsuhiko's mind. "The body." Uproar unleashed. "What the hell!" Silence followed. The body had clearly been discovered. Did he believe the body falling from its seal was the work of someone's direct actions? "Hmmm. I'll have to drive more carefully next time. The poor bloke must have fallen out during one of those intersection turns." Mitsuhiko breathed a sigh of relief. "Phew, just my luck." "I better get this all wrapped up, can't have a great show without a sparkling beginning," the man spoke one again. "If I'm not mistaken, still have some of that wire in the passenger seat. I'll go and grab some of that to make sure the body is tightly secure this time." As before, Mitsuhiko listened as he exited the trailer. There was no way of putting it. If there was ever a time to make a move it was now. "He's gone, this is my chance." Swallowing all fear Mitsuhiko jumped to his feet. Leaping out from behind the boxes that had shielded him he proceeded to race forward, jumping over one obstacle after another. Excitement kicked in as the exit came well within his range. "I'm home free!" With one final launch Mitsuhiko glided out from the depths of the trailer, landing onto the hard pavement that waited. Mitsuhiko didn't stop there, spotting a large garbage bin a few feet away he continued running until he managed to find cover behind it. His heart continued to race. Had he been heard? Had he been seen? Where was he now? Looking to the surrounding area there was no mistaking it, the truck had been backed into an alley. Turning his head slowly Mitsuhiko peeked out from the side of the garbage-can. There was no one in pursuit. He breathed out in relief. The man dressed in the burgundy colored suit returned a short time later. Now in his right hand was a long strand of wire, in his other hand was a phone he held to ear, clearly conversing with someone. Mitsuhiko could only assume the carried wire would be the one he would use to secure the body back in the large crate it had fallen out of. As he had before, the man in the business suit hopped back into the trailer. Mitsuhiko patiently maintained his position, keeping lookout for what would happen next. Over a minute passed. In that time Mitsuhiko caught eye of something printed on the side of the truck, a line of bold print which read; 'Travelway'. "So this guy works for Travelway." Mitsuhiko was able to determine. Time continued to pass. "He still hasn't come out," Mitsuhiko spoke softly. "What could be the hold up?" After having that thought come to mind the man reappeared, dragging what appeared to be the same large crate the body of the deceased had been in before. Once he neared the edge the individual in the burgundy suit dropped back down to ground level before turning immediate attention to the watch on his left wrist. "What's he doing now?" Mitsuhiko wondered. "Is he waiting for someone?" A minute passed, then two. Who or what could he possibly be waiting for? That question would soon be answered. Left of the large truck a dark figure was spotted, one that was heading directly toward them. "Someone's coming." As they neared Mitsuhiko was able to get a clearer view of them. It was a man who was wearing a top hat and a black colored suit, with him he dragged along what appeared to be a large electronic wagon of sorts. Why the wagon? Was he a business man looking to sell? The man in the burgundy colored suit turned eye to the gentlemen who approached, smiling as he did. "I take it you're the Stevedore who has been sent to collect the package?" "Stevedore? Isn't that someone who loads and unloads trains, trucks, airplanes, and ships?" Mitsuhiko was sure of this. "Yes, I'm the one they sent," confirmed the Stevedore. "Where is the package you need loaded to the ship?" He swayed his head in the direction of the trailer. "Right over here." He led the Stevedore to the edge of the truck before stopping. "It's a little heavy, so allow me to help you lift it down into those wheels of yours." "Of course," replied the Stevedore. The pair then went on to grab hold of the crate that was now wrapped in packaging wire. Pulling forward, the two carefully lowered the package into the wagon. "There we go. Will there be anything else?" "Yes. For record purposes I'm going to need you to sign here," replied the Stevedore who went on to hand him a clip board and pen he had stashed inside his jacket. After signing the paperwork the two exchanged a final nod before the Stevedore turned back for the direction he had come. Closing the doors to the trailer the man in the business suit evilly smiled. "Yes, everything is going according to plan." Following the stated he walked back to the driver side of the vehicle before proceeding to enter the truck. If one thing was clear, his business here was completed. The question now became, what was Mitsuhiko to do next? "I have to follow that Stevedore," the kid detective declared. "I need to know where he is taking that body, and if there is another killing that is supposed to happen tonight.. I will prevent it. Whatever is going to happen, I have a feeling that body will be at the center of it." The Travelway truck started up moments later, Mitsuhiko stepped out from behind the garbage can after it had completely turned the corner. The mission couldn't be any clearer Mitsuhiko thought as his eyes locked onto the Stevedore who was now a distance away. "I won't let him out of my sight, no matter what." With that Mitsuhiko fell in pursuit of the Stevedore. …. The premises had been completely searched, from the inside out. Not once, but twice. Yet.. Miwako felt no closer to the truth than before she had entered. She now found herself seated across from Kiyonaga which felt like the tenth time this week. He looked at her curiously, patiently waiting for what she would reveal. "So, what did you find at the Sunshine residence?" Kiyonaga finally went on to ask. Miwako who stared down at the surface of the desk raised her head, her eyes meeting his. "There wasn't much, nothing that really tells a story." The disappointment in her voice could not be denied. Kiyonaga felt differently. "No matter how little there may have been there's always a story to find." The superintendent nodded. "Now tell me, what did you find?" Miwako rehashed every small detail in mind that there was to account for. "The yard itself was in well condition. If I had to take a guess I'd say the lawn had been mowed within the last week." There was a pause. "It was strange.. the opposite seemed to be true on the inside." "What do you mean?" "While the outside of the house heavily implied someone lived there, the inside made it seem as if someone may have recently moved out," Miwako stated. "Throughout the entire one floor home there was only one table, which was located in the dining room area." "What else?" "There were three sets of curtains, two that blocked the windows in the front of the house with the third accounting for the windows located at the back of the house." Miwako didn't stop there. "We checked all cabinets, nothing. We checked all kitchen drawers, empty. The one bathroom there was had none of the usual supplements you would expect to find either." "I see." Kiyonaga was now getting a picture for everything. "You've spoken of what wasn't, what about what you did find." "Oh, yes. For starters we came across a set of playing cards that was on top of the table I mentioned before," Miwako informed. "They have since been sent to the lab to test for finger prints." "What condition was the deck of cards in when you found them? Were they laid out across the table or stacked?" "Stacked," to which Miwako replied. "There was something else I came across; a single receipt which was found in the trash can beside the table." "And the purchase?" "The receipt was for a Kamen Yaiba show.. though, there wasn't a date attached for which showing," Miwako reported. "It could have been a receipt for one that already occurred or for one that will play soon." "…." "There was one last thing we found, one jug of milk sitting in the fridge with an expiration date that will be reached this Sunday," continued Miwako. "Was that the only item in the fridge?" Miwako nodded. "Yes, it was. Like the receipt and deck of cards, it is currently in the lab being tested for finger prints." He found this to be strange. "Good work Sato." "Thank you Superintendent." Miwako then stood up from where she was seated. "If any new information comes to light I will make sure you're informed." "I'll be here." Following that Miwako made way for the exit. Would light soon shine on the mystery of the unknown? …. This was it, what he had been sent for. Damian strolled across the deck of the ship, stopping after reaching the rail on the far end. He stared down at the calm waves that pressed against the ship. "According to the tracer father planted, the materials for creating Crane's toxin are aboard this ship. One of two things is going to happen." Two possible scenarios ran in mind. "A. the one looking to make the pickup will be waiting at the finish line of this ships adventure. B. the person who has been given responsibility of collecting the materials will be aboard this ship, and look to make a move during the duration of the cruise." With both possibilities accounted for, there was only one thing left to determine. If someone aboard tonight's cruise was to make a move on Crane's substance, who would it be? That was something Damian would need to figure out, sooner rather than later. "According to the online guest list I was able to pull, there will be a total number of twenty nine people, including the captain and the rest of the staff." He would definitely have his work cut out for him. "I'll wait until everyone has boarded before I launch my investigation in full." Damian caught eye of someone who stepped up from the left, joining him at rail-side. "Beautiful view, wouldn't you say kid?" the tall man who now stood beside him spoke. "It doesn't get any better than this." The man then went on to place his hands atop the railing, leaning slightly forward as if to expand his view of the sight to behold. It was that moment that Damian noticed a mark on the center of the man's right hand, a tattoo." "Is that supposed to be a moon?" wondered Damian. It wasn't long before the large man noticed Damian had taken an eye to his ink. "It's a Waxing Crescent," he conveyed. "Which is-" "The first phase to come after a New Moon," interjected Damian who turned to walk away. "You know your stuff." "That wouldn't be inaccurate." "See you around kid," the man waved. Damian continued to stroll away, not stopping until he reached center deck. "I'd best make a trip to the storage room, it would be wise to set up surveillance, that way I can investigate things from the surface while keeping tabs on what's going on down there." Damian had studied the ships blueprints before boarding, so he knew where the storage room was. "I'll have to keep a look-out; the last thing I want is for anyone to catch on for what I'm going to do." Damian hands sunk into his pocket as he walked once more. There was a door on the far end of the ship, one which would lead him to the lower levels. He was cautious; making sure no one was looking before he opened the door. After stepping to the other side he tightly closed the door behind him. Things were going according to plan. "Now to visit the storage room." From there Damian made his way down a fleet of stairs. The many scenarios that could possibly occur ran through his mind. He would prepare for anything that could be deemed unexpected. After short a short time the final step was reached. Damian then went on to draw focus to the set of blue prints in hand. "If I go straight and then take a right followed by a left I should reach the storage room in no time." With that in mind Damian pressed on. The first intersection was reached, he slowly peeked his head around the right corner to find two staff members locked in conversation. "Damn, just my luck." Sticking to the plan of not wanting to get seen Damian opted to instead go left. He moved quickly, not wanting to be spotted by the pair who was near. Once he reached the end of the hall he turned right, given that was the only option available to him. He then referenced the sheet once more. "If I go all the way down this hall and take another right that should take me to where I want to be." He went on to lower the sheet in hand. "Short or long route, I will get to that storage room." Commotion from the deck above could be heard as he pressed on. The boarding process was clearly now underway. Damian followed what was shown on the sheet. Within a minutes time he stopped after reaching a certain point. "This should be it," said Damian who looked at the door he now stood in front of. He pressed his ear against the door. There was nothing to hear on the other side. "The coast is clear." Turning the knob the boy wonder forced the door open, quietly closing it after doing so. The area was large, spanning at least twenty five yards from one end to the other from his estimation. "It would be wise to set up the camera in range of the box Scarecrow's goods are in," Damian stated. With that in mind he pulled out his phone. "Now, let's see where the tracer's signal leads me." Now with the signal on lock Damian made a move for the left side of the room. "The package is over there somewhere." He took but a mere to steps before stopping. There was a sound, one that came from nearby. "What was that?" Triggered, Damian was now on high alert. Was he being watched? Could it be that he was just hearing things? No, he was certain he had heard something. He turned to the right, his sights immediately falling in line with a lone barrel. There was something suspicious about it. In what way he couldn't say. "Hmmmm.." Damian's eyes narrowed as he pressed forward. Upon reaching the barrel Damian pushed it over to have his suspicions confirmed. The barrel slammed to the ground as its top rolled across the room. "Ouuhhww!" someone shrieked from inside. Damian stepped back as he watched someone slowly crawl out past several enclosed packages that had been inside the barrel as well, to his ultimate surprise it was someone he recognized. "You're that kid from Teitan Elementary, Tsuburaya right?" "Damian-kun!" replied Mitsuhiko who was just as surprised to see him. Rubbing the side of his head he stood to his feet. "What are you doing on this ship, let alone hiding in a barrel of all places?" "I, ummm.." Mitsuhiko froze. Should he tell him the truth? The truth about the body of the dead man he had come to cross along with all details that had lead him to this point? No, surely Damian would freak out and in turn ruin his investigation. "Well, you see.." Damian who was becoming impatient crossed his arms. "Come on, get on with it already." "My friends and I, we were.. playing hide and seek," Mitsuhiko smilingly fibbed. "Yah, that's it." Damian blinked an eye. He wasn't convinced in the least. "Playing hide and seek where? Surely you didn't choose to stay in that barrel from Tokyo all the way to Osaka? And why would you choose to remain in the barrel when you could clearly feel that you were being carried away." Stunned, Mitsuhiko was uncertain on how to respond to the inquired. "I see you've realized there are more holes in your story than the sinking titanic." Damian went on to lower his arms down to his side. "So, how about telling me the truth for why you were hiding in the barrel?" Mitsuhiko's hands were now tingling. What was he to say? Before he had a chance to respond, things were only going to get more complicated. Unexpectedly the door to the storage room flew open. Now standing before them was a man who looked each of them over, he then shed eye to the product that lied on the ground that had been stashed away in the barrel. "What? What are you kids doing with my shipment?!" he yelled. "Th.. that was yours?" fretted Mitsuhiko. "Your damn right it is!" he shouted angrily. "Now I'm not going to ask again, so I better get an answer! What are you kids doing with my-" He would be cut off by another. "Trogg, there is no need to exert yourself so," someone softly spoke from the darkness of the hall. Damian's heart began racing. "That voice.. could it be?" Footsteps followed, ones heavy in impact. To his ultimate fear Damian's prediction walked into absolute clarity as the six foot eight man entered the storage room. "After all amigo, it's merely a child and a little bird," stated the newcomer who stared directly at Damian. Tightening his fists Damian went on to hiss his name. "Bane.." To Be Continued
  8. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 24 Common Problem Uncertainty, disbelief, was there anything else to feel? Each of them was just as shocked as the other by the revealed diagnosis. "Components of the fear toxin.. inside me?" Haibara was at a loss for words. "Doc, are you sure of this?" questioned Conan. "There is no mistaking it," Hiroshi said. "The results are unmistakable." Conan then looked toward Ai. If the diagnosis were true there would have been warning signs, right? "Haibara, at any point did you experience any of the known effects of the toxin?" Haibara shook her head. "Outside of a little light headedness I felt relatively normal throughout the day." "That's strange." Conan crossed his arms over his chest. "You came in contact with the fear toxin, yet you didn't undergo any of the frightening episodes that all other victims experienced." "How strange indeed," agreed Hiroshi. "Well, there could be a reason for that." "And what do you think that is?" Haibara asked. "Well, for starters your body only took in two percent of the toxin," Hiroshi reminded. "Perhaps such a small amount isn't enough to bring about the damaging side effects that have been documented." "Well, I did have.. a dream," Haibara noted. "A dream? What do you mean?" "Never mind it," replied Haibara. It was all still that of a blur. "It's unimportant." "Well since we know you came in contact with the fear gas at some point, that begs the question of the when and where," Conan said. "Haibara, do you have any idea when you might have been exposed to the drug?" She responded by shaking her head. "I don't, sorry." "I was afraid that would be the case," Hiroshi said. "We'll just have to narrow the possibilities down," Conan stated. "And how do you propose we do that Sherlock?" quipped Haibara. Conan smiled as he looked to Dr. Agasa. "It's simple, we'll test my DNA to see if the toxin is in my system as well." "I see," Hiroshi realized. "If there are traces of the toxin in you as we'll be able to determine you and Ai-kun were together when it occured." Conan nodded. "Exactly." "Brilliant," Haibara remarked. "Whoever is producing the fear gas in Japan, we might be closer to finding them than we realized," said Conan. "Between this and the bit of information detective Takagi has I'll have this case closed in no time." Conan's confidence was steadily rising. "So how is it you propose to get the information from Detective Takagi?" Hiroshi asked. "I doubt he'd freely give out the details of the case, especially given the sensitivity of the situation and all." "It's simple. All I need is a phone and this," replied Conan who pointed to the voice changing bowtie sitting upon his shirt. "I'll call him using oji-san's voice, obviously with the intent of wanting to help with the case." "Well, that plan has worked wonders for you in the past," Haibara noted. "Don't see why it would fail now," Hiroshi added. He then turned direct focus on Conan. "Shinichi, are you ready?" Conan nodded. "I'm ready." "Very well," Hiroshi said before turning for his desk across the room. "Come, let us make haste. The sooner I get a sample of your DNA, the sooner I can run the scan." "Dr. Agasa, the sample that you need," Conan began as he followed him all the way to the desk. "Does it have to be blood?" "Not particularly," replied Hiroshi. "A saliva sample would be just as effective. Why do you ask?" "Good." Conan was pleased to learn this. "I'll call the others over as well." This caught Hiroshi by surprise. "What for?" "To truly track where Haibara came in contact with the toxin, we need to know if the others did as well." ….. Gotham, inside the Bat-cave The Fear gas, the Riddler.. what was the connection? The challenge he and everyone else had been put through the day prior, what was its relevance? Batman knew the Riddler all too well. It wasn't just about testing the subjects in question, no, there was something more.. something deeper. But what? What was the Riddler's true motive? To discover that was to first figure out if Nigma and the presence of Scarecrow's fear gas internationally was linked. It was in those silent moments of thought that a sound was heard. Batman turned in seat to discover someone approaching. "Alfred." "You've been down here for quite some time now, I thought for sure you would have begun your routine patrol by now," Alfred admitted. "I've been.. preoccupied," replied Batman who turned back to face the computer. "I have no doubt about that. Well since you're still here I guess you wouldn't mind me reminding you of the scheduled board meeting tomorrow." "I haven't forgotten." "Of course not." Alfred took another step forward. "What of your overseas activities, I take it the investigation is coming along?" "Progress," Batman simply put. "The tracer I planted while at Skytale will be on the move soon." "That must mean production is going forward with producing the fear gas itself," Alfred figured. "It was only a matter of time." "I've already alerted Robin about the situation," Batman informed. "Speaking of which, how is the young master holding up in the city of Tokyo?" "As fine as I would have hoped." "Will he be following after the tracer you planted?" "Yes. Though, I'm not expecting any further activity until six tomorrow morning." "Why six?" "Because that's when the ship will depart?" Alfred was more lost than ever. "Excuse me, a ship?" "I'll get you up to speed in time." Batman then gave a command. "Computer, initiate scan." Following this Batman stood up from the chair. "Whatever are you scanning?" asked Alfred out of curiosity. "The coffin Ran Mouri was stashed in," Batman answered. "I want to take a closer look. If there are any clues to unravel for what Riddler is planning next, I will find them." "And in the meantime?" "I have some hunting to do," Batman replied. "Hunting sir?" Batman faced him one final time as he passed. "Yes, the Ghost Dragons." …. Tokyo, Japan. Police Station She had been summoned to the Superintendent's office. Miwako could only guess to what the reason could be. Either way she would soon find out. In a short amount of time she found herself standing in front of the door to his office. Miwako knocked, bringing an immediate response. "You can step in." With permission given Miwako did just that. Now inside she bowed her head. "You asked to see me?" "Yes," replied Kiyonaga. "I have something for you." Surprise filled her face. "You have something for me?" "Please, step forward." Miwako was completely unsure of what to expect. Walking up to his desk he handed over a folder. Opening it, Miwako came to discover what was inside. "A search warrant.. is this?" "Yes," confirmed Kiyonaga. "For the house that you came across registered to Aldor Sunshine." There was now a look of accomplishment on her face. "That's great news! I can't thank you enough." Kiyonaga sat back in his seat as a half-smile formed across his lips. "Well, you better get going. I doubt that case is going to solve itself anytime soon." Miwako nodded. "Yes, of course." There was no time to waste. What was to happen next was clear. As she walked through the halls of the station she heard someone call to her from behind. "Sato-san!" "Takagi-Kun," replied Miwako after facing him. "I just got a call from Detective Mouri," Wataru informed. "And?" "I got him up to speed on the investigation we've been working," Wataru replied. "So if he happens to come across anything possibly involving the case he said he'd be sure to report it." "I certainly won't say no to that." "It looked like you were in a hurry just now," Wataru noted. "Are you going somewhere?" "I just received a search warrant for the house we stopped by the other night. The house registered to Aldor Sunshine," Miwako relayed. "I'm heading over there now to investigate the premises." "I see," Wataru learned. "You don't mind if I come along do you?" "Of course not," Miwako said as she began walking. "Either way let's get a move on. I have a feeling we're getting close to getting the answers we have been searching for." "Right behind you," Wataru said following after her. ….. Mitsuhiko now made his way down the side of the road. He had received a call from Conan letting him know to meet him and the others at Agasa's house. For what he wondered? No explanation had been given. He soon came to the end of a block, making sure to look both ways before crossing to the other side. Once all was clear he did just that. "I guess I'll find out when I get there." Mitsuhiko walked in silence, listening to the herd of passing vehicle, the whistles of the birds overhead. He raised a hand to his eyes, noting the brightness of the sun in line of his path. A man on a bicycle passing in the opposite direction waved, Mitsuhiko waved in return. He was now nearing a street intersection. Once there he stood in wait for the street light to turn red. It was during this time he took notice of someone. "Who is that?" Mitsuhiko had taken eye of an individual walking down the right side of the street where he stood. It was someone dressed in a tan colored thick coat along with baggy pants and a pair of shades. Sitting over their head was a hood. Mitsuhiko's eyes narrowed in undeniable suspicion. "What is it, like eighty two degrees out here? They're really over dressed for a day like this." The street light turned red moments later. There was now a decision to make. Gritting his teeth, Mitsuhiko ultimately opted to follow after the stranger instead of crossing to the other side. "I'm sure the others won't mind if I'm a little late." Moving cautiously and maintaining a notable distance Mitsuhiko followed after the person in the coat. What all of this would lead to was anyone's guess. He followed them up one street and down another, crossing roadside a number of two times. How much longer until they were to reach their destination? It was after having that thought come to mind that the person in the coat came to an abrupt stop. Mitsuhiko immediately took coverage behind a mailbox that was near. "They've stopped. Could it be that they've almost reached wherever their going?" Mitsuhiko slowly peeked out from the side of the mail box to monitor their actions. The person of interest was now in the process of observing the surrounding area. "They're obviously looking out to make sure they're not being followed," Mitsuhiko figured. After finding that the coast was clear the person in the coat began walking once more. Not wanting to lose track of them Mitsuhiko followed after them once again. Another minute went by. It was in that time that a construction site came into view. Like they had before the person wearing the coat scoured the area for anyone who could possibly be walking in their tracks. As he had before Mitsuhiko stayed out of sight. "They must be getting close to wherever they're going." Mitsuhiko was sure of this. He continued to look on from where he stood beside a bus stop. A minute passed, then two. They had yet to make a move in that time. "I thought for sure they were going to enter that construction site." Mitsuhiko was surprised they hadn't. Could it be that they were now awaiting the arrival of another? "I need to get in closer." Mitsuhiko took immediate notice of a large truck with a semi-trailer attached alongside the road. "Great, I can use that truck for cover." With his mind now made up he advanced forward. While the back doors to the trailer were open, there was no one around, making ideal for him to wait it out there. After reaching the edge of the truck Mitsuhiko took to a knee before peeking out from behind the large tires. "This is what you call a front row seat." He kept sharp eye on the opposition who stood no more than twenty feet away. Even with as close as he was Mitsuhiko was still unable to make out any defining features of the person he had followed. "What's going on? Why are they just standing there?" That very question would soon be answered. A subtle sound traveled with the soft breeze that blew past, that of footsteps. Someone was coming Mitsuhiko realized. A couple seconds was all it took for someone to emerge from the depths of the construction site. Now in view of clarity was a tall man in a burgundy colored business suit. In his left hand was a silver briefcase. By this point Mitsuhiko's heart was racing. "Now for the moment of truth." "I was watching from the control room, you came early," the man in the business suit noted. The person in the coat simply nodded. "Enough about that. Why don't we get onto business, yes?" from there he raised the briefcase in hand. "I'm sure you're anxious to know what I have for you this time?" What could possibly be inside? Money, drugs of some kind? Those were the two possibilities that registered to mind. The man in the business suit raised the briefcase in hand before making a move to reveal what was inside. What Mitsuhiko came to witness was not what he was expecting. "What is that?" It appeared to be two spray cans that sat beside one another. "Tada! The two newest additions to our perfume brand. Both will suit you well for tonight's occasion out at sea. Tonight will bring retribution full circle." Mitsuhiko was disappointed. Had his suspicious just lead him to a perfume sale? The man in the suit raised the first perfume bottle. "This I simply call, the Sweet Death of Quicksand." Once placed back in its pouch he raised the second. "This beauty I call 'Second Life'." There was nothing worth staying around for in Mitsuhiko's mind. "Alright, it's time to-" Before Mitsuhiko had the chance to leave the man in the three piece suit began walking into his direction. "Come, there's something else I have for you." Mitsuhiko heart began to race. What was he to do? If he ran they would surely see and chase after him. Turning he made a decision based on pressure of the moment. After taking a couple steps back he lunged into the trailer, leaping over a couple of crates to try and get as deep into the truck as he could. Now shielded out of sight he sat in the darkness of the trailer as his heart continued to dash with each taken breath. "Please don't get seen, please don't get seen…" That very thought plunged through his mind several times over. The sound of footsteps outside the walls of the truck could be heard clearly. It wasn't long after that the man from before was heard again. "Here, I've also got something for you to wear." His voice carried from the entryway. A sound was heard in the moments that came, one Mitsuhiko assumed to be the opening of a box. "Here we are. This will fit the occasion perfectly. At long last this chapter in our lives can be put to a rest." What Mitsuhiko heard next made his heart sink. The doors to the trailer slammed shut. "No way! Now I'm trapped." It wasn't until the door was closed that its scent really registered. "What is that smell?" Bleach… Clorox? Why was its presence so strong? Even if it was the smell of product that was to be shipped Mitsuhiko would not expect it to come on this strong. It was almost as if the entire space had been drenched in its strong fume. He took small breaths, not wanting to breathe in the strong scent. What was he to do now? Listening on he could hear as they walked alongside the truck from the outside. What was said between the two from there flew right over his head. The only thing that mattered in his mind was finding a way out of this mess without alarming the two he had just been spying on. Should he try using his phone to reach out to one of his friends? That idea was quickly shot down. "They'll definitely hear me if I make any calls." If not that, there was only one other logical solution in his mind, opening the doors to the back of the trailer himself. Moving quietly he maneuvered his way through the dark, occasionally having his leg bump into some unknown object. In very little time he found himself with his hands pressed against the doors, looking for any kind of handle that could lead to his exit. "Darn it," Mitsuhiko hissed angrily. "It looks like the only way to open this door is from the outside. I'm virtually stuck here unless I let those guys know I'm back here." His eyes began to tear up from the bleach flowing through the air. Mitsuhiko now had a choice to make, to wait it out or to let those on the outside know he was here. The decision was easy in his mind. "I might as well speak up," Mitsuhiko said. "I'll just tell them I ended up back here by accident. I mean, what bad could come of it?" Before Mitsuhiko could act on the decided a sound erupted, that of the trucks engine. "Oh no," Mitsuhiko said in fear. "He must be getting ready to drive off!" With that in mind Mitsuhiko yelled at the top of his lungs. "Hey, there's someone back here! Stop the truck!" The vehicle began to slowly pull forward shortly after. Mitsuhiko's heart was racing even more now. "What, can you not hear me?!" He tried again. "Hello, I'm stuck back here! Can you hear me, can anyone hear me?!" Like before, no one responded. Could it be that they really couldn't hear him? There was only one option remaining. "Looks like I have no choice but to call someone." The question then became, who? "If I call my mom I have no doubt she would be angered by these circumstances." Mitsuhiko gulped at the dreaded thought of having to explain his current predicament to her. "I'd probably be better off calling Dr. Agasa." Mitsuhiko nearly lost his balance as the vehicle began to pick up in speed. He made the quick decision of taking a seat against the closed doors. Now sitting in place he held up his phone to make an unexpected discovery. "You've got to be kidding me! No signal, really?!" Should he be alarmed by this. Mitsuhiko lowered the phone back to his side in despair. "Well, it looks like all I can do now is, wait." He slouched downward as frustration began to emerge. "I can't believe I got myself into this mess." …. Kaito laid atop his bed deep in thought. The weekend was now upon him. The question was, what was he to do in the next few days? The Revenant warrior statues, the Riddler, the Royal Flash Gang, and above all, Batman. Would the Riddler strike again? Should he make the next move in luring the Royal Flush Gang out once more, or should he wait for them to play their next card. Then there was Batman, could it be that Gotham's dark knight still wished to track him? If so that would be something else to account for. "Decisions, decisions, decisions," Kaito repeated as he laid his hands to the back of his head. Shortly thereafter his phone sitting on his desk beside the bed began ringing. Moderately irritated by the fact his thoughts were interrupted Kaito rolled his eyes as he sat up to reach for it. "Who is it now?" Raising the phone to eye he came to find who was calling. "Oh.. it's just Aoko." Slouching back onto the bed Kaito brought the phone to his ear before answering. "What do you want now?" "What do you mean what do I want?" Aoko retorted. "Where are you, I've been waiting for you." "Waiting for me?" "Yes, at the train station. Remember, we have to catch the train to Osaka. That's where the cruise ship will be departing from that you so confidently agreed that you would be joining me on," Aoko reminded. Kaito's eyes widened as he shot up from where he laid. "Wait, that's today?! I thought the cruise wasn't until tomorrow evening." "I only told you like six times the cruise was Friday. Which you know happens to be today." Kaito couldn't help but laugh. "Oops, my bad." "Never mind that, hurry up and get down here," Aoko said. "If we want to make it in time for the ships departure we need to catch the train to Osaka that leaves at four fifty." Kaito looked to his clock across the room. "That's less than twenty minutes from now." "Still plenty of time for you to get here. See you soon," Aoko said before choosing to hang up. "Great," said Kaito who lowered the phone to his side. "Now instead of focusing on my next move I get to go on some lame cruise… fun." …. The doorbell rang. Conan who was the closest to the door walked over and opened it. As expected his classmates were on the other side. "Hey guys," Conan greeted. "Come on in." "You don't have to ask me twice," replied Genta who was the first to accept. Ayumi followed in right after him. Conan then realized the absence of a certain someone. "Hey, where's Mitsuhiko?" Conan asked. "He's not here yet?" Ayumi questioned. "I thought for sure he had beaten us here," Genta added. "It's no big deal. I'm sure he'll be here soon." Conan was sure of this. "Drinks for everyone," announced Hiroshi who stepped into the room with four cups in hand. "Great, I am a little thirsty," admitted Genta. "Me too," said Ayumi as the two headed toward Hiroshi. Conan took one final look out the doorway. There was still no sign of Mitsuhiko. "It's nothing to worry about, he'll be here soon," Conan thought to himself as he closed the door. … How much time passed since Mitsuhiko had found himself in this unexpected situation? The battery to his phone had burned out a time ago, so he was uncertain of what the current time was. There was only one thought on his mind, how was he to get out of this situation? Given that the door could only be unlocked from the outside and he had no way of calling anyone, he'd have to wait for the owner of the truck to unlock it. Mitsuhiko rested his head to the wall of the truck as he stared off into the darkness, not focusing in on anything particular. "My parents are going to be so mad." He dreaded the thought of having to face them, especially after not checking in after such an extended period of time. Since being trapped in the storage area of the truck Mitsuhiko felt as if he had been drenched in the strong scent of Clorox. His eyes had since seized watering, though his dried tears could subtly be felt upon his eye pouches. He leaned forward. "I've been sitting for so long." He felt the need to get up. Mitsuhiko cautiously stood to his feet, given that the truck was still moving the last thing he wanted to do was lose his footing. "Let's see, I think I have a flashlight here somewhere." Reaching a hand into his left pocket Mitsuhiko found what he was looking for. "There it is. Now to have a look around." Using the light to guide his path Mitsuhiko began his search. Moving from one end of the trailer to the other he occasionally placed a hand on top of a box to maintain balance. "Everything seems to be sealed. I guess I won't be able to find out what is being shipped inside thes-" The truck came to a sudden stop, one which resulted in Mitsuhiko losing his balance. He immediately fell to the ground before rolling and crashing into a large crate that had been leaned against the wall. "Ouuo! That hurt!" he yelped before reaching for the top of his head. Not a second later the crate he had made contact with began to slide forward. "Uh, oh." Mitsuhiko made an instant move to lunge out of the way as the crate came toppling down. It landed with a loud thump, one which resulted in its top falling off. "Phew, that was close." Mitsuhiko was most relived. Tracking his flashlight that had traveled a couple feet away he aimed it into the direction of where the crate had fallen. "I wonder what's inside." Stepping around a couple boxes he walked over. Nothing could have prepared him for what he would come to discover. Aiming the projection of the light downward Mitsuhiko felt as if his heart skipped a beat. "Yo..you've got to be kidding me." There lying on the ground was the naked body of someone who was lying face down. What followed was a strong odor of familiarity, one that brought confirmation of his deepest fear. "They.. They're dead.." What did this mean? … Gotham, Wayne Enterprises It was business as usual. "Will this be far enough sir?" Bruce nodded in return. "Yes, this will be fine Alfred." After the vehicle was parked Bruce stepped out. "Good luck with today's affairs Master Bruce. If there is anything that you may need please don't hesitate to call." "I'll be in touch," Bruce replied before beginning his journey toward the building. He listened on as the Alfred drove off. As Bruce came within range of the front entrance the doorman waved, he did the same as he always did when coming in. "Welcome back Mr. Wayne," greeted the doorman. Bruce nodded. "Of course." Now inside he strolled past the main lobby, heading straight for the elevator clear across the way. As he walked he couldn't help but overhear the conversation between the desk clerk and someone who stood on the other side of the counter. "What's going on over there?" Curious, Bruce walked over. "Sir, listen if you would like an audience with Mr. Wayne you'll have to schedule an appointment," the clerk conveyed. "I need to speak with him now! My travels have brought me from a faraway place you see, and I do not wish to wait any longer," the man explained. "This matter I come with is a problem that we're both intertwined in, Wayne-sama and myself that is." "I'm sorry sir, but meeting with Mr. Wayne is through scheduled appointments only," the clerk repeated. "Now if you would like me to set up an appointment for you I'd be more than willi-" "That won't be necessary," announced Bruce who joined the pair. "M.. ," said the desk clerk who was surprised to see him. "It's not even six. I wasn't expecting you in until later this morning." "I thought I'd come in early and get a few things prepared before today's board meeting at nine," to which Bruce replied. He then turned focus on the visitor. "And who is our guest?" The man who sought to speak with Bruce faced him. "Bruce Wayne, the Prince of Gotham himself." He held out his hand. "The pleasure is mine." Bruce shook his hand in return. "I overheard a little of your conversation. You mentioned some problem we're both intertwined in." "Yes, that's right," the man standing before him replied as he released the hold. "Who are you, and what is this concern you wish to bring to my attention?" Bruce asked. "Yes, introductions are always needed before business can be discussed. I am Jirokichi Suzuki," the man relayed. "And the problem I speak of revolves around a certain thief, one I'm sure you're familiar with, Kaitou Kid." To Be Continued
  9. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 23 What Next? He gazed into her eyes. The red haired woman did the same in return. The others stood by in silence. "Problem? What kind of problem?" Batman finally spoke. Batgirl stepped forward as she spoke her stance. "Ghosts." Flash lifted a brow. "Ghosts? Now that sounds like a predicament." Batgirl faced him. "Not as thrilling or supernatural as it may sound, I'm merely referring to the Ghost Dragons," she clarified. "Ghost Dragons? As in that street gang known as the Ghost Dragons?" Flash asked. "That'd be the ones," confirmed Batgirl. "And let me guess, our neighborhood friends have struck again?" Nightwing assumed. "Burnside yesterday. West end of Gotham tonight, a local bank," Batgirl began. "They appeared during a burglary." "It's not like them to show up on the grid so freely," Batman said. "They weren't the only ones who were at that bank," Batgirl informed. "A public gathering of bad guys, can't wait to hear this," remarked Nightwing. "Who else was at that bank?" Batman asked. "That I am unsure of. I'm still investigating," Batgirl replied. "Was this other group collaborating with the Ghost Dragons?" "Quite the opposite actually," replied Batgirl. "A fight broke out." "And?" "Our mystery group, all dead," Batgirl revealed. "A single slash wound, the same in each place for every single one of them." "The neck?" Batman assumed. Batgirl nodded. "Hit it right on the mark." "And what of the Dragons?" Batman questioned. "Not a trace." "What about security camera's?" Flash questioned. "Certainly surveillance must have picked up something?" "All cameras were disabled," Batgirl informed. "So the sequence for what entirely went down is still partially a mystery." "Well if that's the case, then how can you be sure the Ghost Dragons were involved?" Nightwing put into question. Batgirl raised her left hand, revealing a small device in hand. Nightwing blinked an eye. "What's that?" "I found it on one of the deceased," Batgirl replied. "It is a com-link, one which Black Mask's men used to communicate with one another." "What's its significance?" "Playback," answered Batgirl. "The man who wore this, his final words was recorded. Once you listen to this there is no doubt of the Ghost Dragons involvement." Batman held out his hand. "May I?" Batgirl handed the device over to him. "Of course." "So, what happens now?" Nightwing questioned. "We prepare," replied Batman who then went on to make way toward the super computer. "Well, unless you guys have anything else, I better be getting back to Central City," Flash said. "I have another local case that I need to get back to." "We appreciate you coming through," Nightwing said. Flash gave him the salute. "If you guys need me, I'm just a ring away." Nightwing gave him the thumbs up. "Dually noted." In the blink of an eye the Flash was gone. "Well I guess that just leaves the three of.." Nightwing paused after hearing a beeping sound that came from a device strapped around Batgirl's wrist. "What's that?" Raising her left arm Batgirl gave quick eye to the device before responding. "Car chase, police are in pursuit." "Where?" "Near the Riverfront Center in the old Gotham district," informed Batgirl. "There are eight fugitives in all, five vehicles between the pack." "Sounds like our kind of party," Nightwing smilingly remarked. "Does that mean you want to tag along?" "If you don't mind," Nightwing replied. "I could use a little night out." Batgirl turned away before proceeding to walk. "Try and keep up." "Go on ahead, I'll catch up to you," Nightwing called. He then looked back into the direction of the super computer. "Yes, that's it," Batman spoke out loud. Nightwing who heard this was most curious to what it was he spoke of. "What's going on?" Nightwing stopped after stepping up to the right side of the computer chair. "The materials to create Crane's fear toxin that was shipped to Tokyo, the batch that ended up in the storage room under the Skytale building," Batman began. "What about it?" "The tracer I placed on the package sent a signal, the materials are on the move." Batman faced him. "No doubt the package is en route to its final destination." "For where the gas itself will be produced?" "Exactly." "Sounds like it's time for a little intervention." Batman was in full agreement. "It's time to play our hand." "So," Nightwing said as he crossed his arms over his chest. "What's the plan?" ….. The hand struck another length, announcing the passing of another hour. The school bell rang within moments, carrying out through the halls of the school. Conan who had just taken his seat placed a pencil atop his desk as he proceeded to slouch back. His eyes carried into the distance, not particularly focused on anything. He was in the moment, but his mind was anywhere but the present. "Kaitou Kid, the Elephant Revenant, the fear toxin from Gotham, Batman… it almost feels as if it all links together in some way. Question is, how?" His chain of thought would be cut off by the sound of three claps which came from the front of the room. Conan leveled his head to find it was his teacher. "Happy Friday everyone." "Happy Friday!" To which the class responded. Sumiko smiled brightly. "Given that it is Friday, do you know what that means?" She paused momentarily before continuing. "That's right, show and tell! I hope you all have something interesting to share with your peers today." "I do!" one shouted from the far left. "Me too!" another exclaimed from the back of the room. "That's good to know," Sumiko said pleased to hear. "So, what do you say we get started?" "Yahhh!" the majority of the children in the class chanted. Sumiko then surveyed the room before locking in on a specific student. "Zeily Zandreu, as the newest member of this class, would you like to present first?" All eyes swayed to the left side. There she was, seated in the back corner of the room. Her raven black bangs sat just above her eyes. She looked forward before giving a subtle nod. "Okay," said Zeily who dropped down from her seat. Crossing her arms across her chest she slowly made her way to the front of the classroom. Not once did she make eye contact with anyone on her way to the front. Damian who stood beside the exit door took notice of this. Once Zeily reached the front of the class she nervously raised her head as she prepared to share what she had brought to show. Reaching into her pocket she pulled out a hand sized object. "What is that?" questioned Genta who sat in the front row. "It looks like a wrist brace," another guessed. Sumiko stepped over before tapping Zeily on her left shoulder. "Go on Zeily-chan, tell everyone what you have to share today." Raising the object in hand Zeily did just that. "This is my special horseshoe," she finally revealed. "Papa made it for me at the old lab." "It's a lovely horseshoe," Sumiko commented before turning focus back on the wider class. "Now class, why don't we all give Zeily-chan a round of applause?" As Zeily made her way back to her seat all of her classmates clapped upon her presentations end. "Alright, who would like to go next?" "Me! I wanna share!" Ayumi volunteered with the wave of her hand. "Very well," smiled in Sumiko. "The floor is now yours." As Ayumi made her way to the front of the room Damian felt the vibration of his phone in his left pocket. He pulled out his phone to find there was an incoming call, one from his father. Why now of all times? It must be something important Damian figured. With that in mind he looked toward Sumiko. "Ms. Kobayashi." Sumiko faced him almost immediately. "What is it?" "Would it be alright if I stepped out for a moment?" Damian asked. "I'll be no more than a minute." Sumiko nodded. "Of course. That is fine by me." With that Damian walked out of the room. Conan watched as the door closed on his way out. "I wonder what that's all about?" Conan then looked over at Ai who sat one seat away. She was seemingly struggling to keep her eyes open. "That's strange. It's not often Haibara doesn't get sufficient sleep." Now on the outside Damian pulled out his phone, wasting no time in returning the missed call. It didn't take long for another voice to come from the other end. "Damian, we have an update," informed Bruce. This was promising. "For what?" "The ingredients for Crane's fear gas, the product is on the move," Bruce relayed. "The tracer I placed on the crate indicates this." "It was only a matter of time. So, where's our important package now?" "That's why I've called. Here's the plan, so listen up." …. Another street block was passed as he tracked on in the dark empty streets. No matter how far, no matter how hard he ran, he did not tire. How long had he been running for? Above all else, what was he running from? This was something of an uncertainty. There was only one thing that was to feel inside, a fear, a fear of stopping. He pushed himself further, picking up with each stride. Unexpectedly it felt as if he was getting slower, as if time was freezing right before his eyes. This was followed by an immense pressure that ravaged throughout his entire body. "I can barely move, barely.. breath. What's happening? Where am I?" Upon questioning this a hiss was heard, one followed by a loud growl. It felt as if his heart skipped a beat. "What was that?!" Once again he tried to run, an attempt that would prove fruitless, he was unable to move. "Why.. why can't I move?" What came in the wake of what he assumed to be a warning growl was a terrifying roar. Fretting, he glanced over his left shoulder to spot what he believed to be a giant bat which was soaring down at him from above. A sharpening fear erupted from within. "I've found you now Kaitou Kid! There is no escaping!" The creature flashed its readied fangs. He looked into its eyes, watching as it soared in ever so closely. "No, it can't end, not like…" ….. "Not like THIS!" The running, the dark city, the bat.. they were all gone. "A dream," Kaito realized. He looked to find he was in his own room, now sitting up in bed. He breathed out in relief. "It was just a dream." Kaito raised a hand to wipe the sweat that streamed down the left side of his face. He then looked to the clock sitting atop the dresser beside his bed. "I over slept by almost two hours!" After realizing this Kaito jumped out of bed. "I can't believe I forgot to set the alarm last night. Well, considering what went down.." He sighed before making his way toward the door. "I've already missed one entire period of class, I'm not looking to make it two." He stopped about halfway across the room after spotting his phone sitting on his desk. Grabbing hold of it he found several calls had been missed, all of which coming from one person. "Aoko." Kaito placed the phone back onto the desk. "No doubt she was calling about that cruise she wants me to join her on tomorrow night." He paused at the thought of it. "Not so sure I have the room in my schedule right now. There's far too much on my plate as is." With that Kaito reached the door, turning the knob as the previous night's encounters poured to the forefront. "The Royal Flush Gang, the Batman.. just what will it all lead to?" The thought of it alone excited him. The uncertainty, the thrill of a chase he knew was to come. The question was, what would be at roads end? … The final bell of the day rang. One by one everyone poured out of the classrooms, relieved the weekend was now upon them. Conan was no exception to this. He anxiously made his way down the hallway, there was only one thing on his mind, getting to the hospital to check on Ran. "Hey Conan, wait up!" "Genta," said Conan who turned around to spot his friend. He wasn't alone. Traveling at his side was the rest of his friends. "We're going to come with you," Mitsuhiko said. "Ya! We want to see Ran-chan too," added Ayumi. "You don't mind if we come too do you?" Genta asked. Conan smiled. "Of course not." "Then to the hospital we go!" declared Genta. As they began to walk Haibara faded to Conan's right side as the others took the lead. "I'm curious." Conan looked at her, he then faced forward. "About?" "Do you plan on asking her?" Haibara began. "I mean, about what happened leading up to her being taken captive?" "I'd rather not," Conan replied to her surprise. "Besides, I'm certain the authorities will blitz her for any information they can obtain in regards to her kidnapping. Whatever they learn, I'll know as well." In little time they found themselves on the outside of the school. Several moments more passed before Haibara spoke again. "Who's to say they'll ask the right questions?" Conan was unsure of what was meant by this. He looked to her once more. "What are you trying to say?" After another taken step Haibara stopped. She placed a hand upon her forehead as if to check her temperature. Conan stopped as well. "You ok?" Her hand dropped back to her side. "I'm fine," assured Haibara. "Just a little light headed." "Hey, look guys," Mitsuhiko pointed. "What do you think is going on over there?" Conan looked into the pointed direction. There were a total number of two police vehicles on the opposite side of the street. Two officers stood in sight, talking with someone who looked to be a civilian. He didn't recognize either of the officials. Looking further right he spotted someone of familiarity. "Officer Takagi is over there," Conan pointed. "I see him!" Mitsuhiko acknowledged. "I wonder what he's doing here?" "Only one way to find out," Genta said in response. Nothing more was said. The five wasted little time in marching across the road. From his position beside one of the cars Wataru noticed the group as they approached from the other side. "It's Conan-kun and his friends." This was an opportune moment in his mind. "Takagi, what are you doing outside of our school?" Genta asked being the first to speak. Wataru answered. "Safety precaution. After what happened with Eilji Amou it was decided that extra measures were to be taken. That is why two officers are stationed here." "That makes sense," Haibara said in light of this. Wataru then looked directly at Conan. "Sato-san mentioned she ran into you last night while at the Fun Entertainment Inc building." "I did," confirmed Conan. "What was Officer Sato doing there?" Ayumi asked. "Well, she.. I mean, we were searching for someone." Wataru paused. "Well, at least we thought we were." "You were with her?" Mitsuhiko asked. "I was." Conan's interest had been sparked. "You said you were searching for someone?" "Oh, yes. A man by the name of, Aldor Sunshine," Wataru revealed. "According to an online profile it was said he worked at the Fun Entertainment building located here in Tokyo. We visited that very facility last night. Unfortunately we learned that no one by the name of Aldor Sunshine was employed there or at any other Fun Entertainment Inc building for that matter. Here or overseas." Wataru then looked to the sky. "Furthermore there is a house, one registered to an Aldor Sunshine no more than a couple miles from here. When we visited the house in question there was no one to find." Wataru's sights dropped back down to ground level. "It's almost like this Aldor person is a ghost." "Ghost?!" Genta, Ayumi, and Mitsuhiko all gulped at the thought of it. "What's so important about this Sunshine-san anyway?" Conan asked. There had to be a good reason for why they were so driven in finding this individual. "Well.." Wataru brought a hand to his chin. "I don't know if I can say. This isn't probably something I should be discussing with all of-" "Please!" Conan pleaded. This was tacked on with a look of innocence. "I really want to know. Plus, I could pass everything you tell me to Oji-san on your behalf." Wataru gave it a moment's thought. "Well, you see," Wataru said figuring how to put it in simple terms. "This Aldor Sunshine was part of a list." "What list?" Haibara asked. "A list of suspects," continued Wataru. This drew him in even more. "A suspect for what?" asked Conan. Wataru looked to the boy in glasses once more. "Well to put it simply. The names on this list in question are people who have been traveling in and out of Tokyo at a high rate. We believe one of these people is involved with the shipment of the toxin that Eilji Amou and many others were affected by." Conan was completely drawn in. "Now we're making progress." "What about the house registered to Aldor-san?" asked Mitsuhiko. "Have you gone back after your first visit to see if someone is there?" "Well, we.. I think we've discussed this enough," said Wataru looking to change the subject. "What about all of you? Where were you off to before you encountered me?" "We're going to the hospital," Ayumi informed. This was not what he was expecting to hear. "The hospital? What business do any of you have there?" "We have to go see Ran-chan," Ayumi replied. Wataru smiled in that instance, one that brought a surprise to each and every one of them. "What's so funny?" Mitsuhiko asked. Wataru shook his head. "No, not funny. But rather good news I have to share," he clarified. "For starters, Ran-san is doing fine. I got a chance to speak with her just before I came here." The Detective Boys cheered in happiness. Conan sighed in relief. "She is currently at the police station," Wataru informed. "So if you wish to see her, that's where she is. No doubt she will be released soon. There is no need for any of you to visit the hospital." "Thanks for letting us know Detective Takagi," thanked Conan who bowed his head. No sooner after that did it take for him to take off running. "Come on guys, let's follow him," Genta said being the first to follow after him. Ayumi and Mitsuhiko were next to take off. "Wait, hold on!" Wataru called. The four of them came to an immediate stop. Conan looked back at him. "What is it?" "No need to run," said Wataru. "I'd be more than willing to give you a ride. That is.. if you don't mind?" "But don't you have to stay here and stand guard?" Mitsuhiko questioned. "I'm not the one assigned to this post," Wataru clarafied. He then looked in the direction of the two other officers who stood a short distance away. "They're the ones who are stationed to keep a look out in this area. I only dropped by to check in with them, and shortly after that is when-" "We came into the picture," Haibara figured. "Pretty much," Wataru confirmed. "But enough about that, who's ready to go to the police station?" "Yaah!" Genta, Ayumi, and Mitsuhiko all chanted together. Wataru then went on to unlock the doors to his vehicle. Haibara found way to the front passenger seat while Conan and the others piled into the back. Wataru waved to the other officers before stepping into the vehicle himself. "Alright everyone, remember to put your seatbelts on," Wataru reminded. Once he was strapped in himself he turned the key in the ignition. And just like that, they were on their way. Conan sat in silence as his friends carried on with conversation. What was discussed between them did not register. The only thing on his mind was Ran. How was she feeling? What was he to say to her? That and much more surfed through his mind the entire trip. In no time they arrived at the police station. "Alright everyone," Wataru said as he brought the vehicle to a complete stop. "We're here." His words were immediately followed by Conan unbuttoning his seatbelt and exiting the vehicle. "Hey, wait for us!" Ayumi yelled as she, Genta, and Mitsuhiko hurried after him. Wataru sighed. He then looked to find Haibara still sitting beside him a few feet away. She showed no sign of taking off as the others had. "You ok? You look a little out of it," the detective observed. "I'm fine," Haibara assured. "Will you be joining your friends?" "Of course," to which Haibara replied as she turned into the direction they had gone. "I just don't feel the need to run." Wataru nodded. "I understand." Unbuckling her belt, Ai too exited the car. "Thanks for the ride." "Um, yah. Anytime." As Haibara advanced toward the building distress in someone's voice was heard, the voice of a woman. Stopping she looked to the right. A short distance away two police officials were speaking with a woman. Who was she? Given the large floppy straw hat atop her head and the scarf tied around her neck it was hard to make out any distinctive features. "What's going on over there?" Haibara wondered. She couldn't help but stick around to find out just that. "I'm sorry Hepperway-sama," apologized one of the two officers. "But it is as I said, we have no new information regarding the disappearance of the girls." "What about the jeep? Has there been any word on if it has been found or not?" The other officer shook his head as a saddened look fell upon his face. "That would be a no on that account as well. I'm sorry Hepperway-sama." "I see.." The woman said no more. She turned as she made a move to walk away. "Off to Osaka it is." "Will that be all?" One of the policemen asked. Still trailing away the opposite direction she responded. "No, that will be all." From the little that she gathered there was only one thing to conclude. "A kidnapping." From the sound of it, two young girls were the subject of the woman's distress. Why hadn't she heard about this situation in the local news within the past couple days? Surely something like that would have high coverage? "Aren't you going to join your friends inside?" someone spoke from behind. Startled, Haibara leaped back as she turned around to find who had approached. Her eyes narrowed upon seeing him. "Damian-san." "Don't look so surprised," replied Damian who stepped around her as he proceeded to make his way down the sidewalk. Haibara watched as he departed. There was one thing to question. What was Damian doing at the police station? What could have warranted his visit? She was certainly curious, if not a little suspicious of the unknown circumstances that brought Damian to the police station at the same time as them. What exactly had prompted his appearance here? Either way, that would have to wait. "I better head in before the others become worr.." As Haibara turned in the direction of the entrance she stopped. Her light headedness had reached its breaking point. "All of a sudden I don't feel so..." In that moment it felt as if all control had become lost to her. It started with her legs, how weakened they became. Her vision blurred soon after. As she attempted to take another step she stumbled forward, landing on the grass surface below. … There was nothing to hear, nor anything to feel. Everything was blank. It felt like that of an empty void. Then suddenly it hit; a sense of reality. Awareness had finally kicked in. The question now became, where was she? The uncertainty brought a raise in one emotion, fear. There was a raise in heartbeat, an irregularity in breathing. Before she knew it, she was shaking from top to bottom. A voice of familiarity soon came, piercing through the empty void which raised her from a state of unknown. "Haibara, Haibara!" Her eyes sprung open as she shot up from where she laid. Vision was still that of a blur. A shower of sweat was felt, a wet stream that slid down her face. "Where am I?" While she wasn't able to see she was able to hear. There was a sound. "What is that?" No matter how subtle it was in voice she knew what it was. "A river.." Within seconds her vision gradually restored, bringing clarity of sorts. She came to discover she was in what appeared to be her school homeroom classroom. The moons light peered in from window side. There was no one there but her. "Why am I here?" She checked her phone in hopes of learning the time. To her dismay the battery was dead. "Well of course," Haibara remarked. "How the hell did I end up here anyway?" her memory was somewhat of a blur. A subtle sound then came to ear, one from beneath. "What was that?" It sounded like a stream, the carrying of a river. The sound only got louder with every second that passed. This freighted her. "I need to get out of here." Standing to her feet brought the sound of a crack from below. Looking down Haibara came to find the very floor she stood upon was beginning to break apart, similar to that of a deteriorating surface of ice. Instinct took over. Without a seconds thought Haibara raced toward the door, she only made it halfway across the room before the floor caved in on her. She screamed in fear as she fell into a dark pool of water, one that captured her like a whirlpool. Try as she may, there was no escape. All seemed lost as she sank deeper into the cold stream of nothingness. When all seemed lost she heard the call of her name through the fog of it all, then for a second time. It was only then that her eyes truly opened. …. "Look, I think she's finally coming through." "It appears you're right Shinichi." "Haibara, say something." Her eyes slowly opened. She looked from one to the other. "Please tell me this isn't another dream." Hiroshi smiled. "How are you feeling?" "Tired.. a little woozy," Haibara answered. "Where am I?" "Back at the house," Hiroshi informed. "Haibara, what happened?" Conan asked. Haibara looked into his eyes as if to show a surprise. "I was hoping to ask the same." Conan and Hiroshi briefly glanced at one another before tracking their eyes back on her. "Ok, we'll take it a step back," Hiroshi began. "What's the last thing you remember before waking up here?" "..I, we were at-" the sound of the phone ringing brought an interruption. "I'll be right back," said Hiroshi who made his way over. "So what was it? What do you remember last?" Conan asked. "Well." Haibara slowly sat up. Moments passed as she rehashed everything in mind "School. We had just finished our last period of the school day." "And after that? Do you remember where we went after that?" "I.. we, that's right." It was all now coming back to her. "We were on our way to the hospital to visit Ran. That's when we came across officer Takagi. We were informed that Ran was at the police station, he offered to give us a ride there." "That's right. Do you remember anything else?" A long pause followed. After some thought Haibara shook head. "I don't." she no longer wished to be kept in the dark. "Tell me, what happened? And how did I end up here?" "When I entered the police station along with the others I found it strange that you didn't join us after a minute or so passed," Conan conveyed. "So I went back outside." "And?" "That's where I found you, lying face down in the front lawn of the station," Conan informed. "Thankfully I found you before anyone else did, the last thing we needed was an audience. No doubt you would have been investigated, background check and all. That's the last thing we need to deal with right now." "So, that's what happened.." "And you really don't remember any of what happened leading to whatever caused you to pass out?" Haibara shook her head. "Sorry." "Well, if you start to remember anything." "I'll be sure to let you know." Not a second later Hiroshi rejoined the two. "So, what did she say?" "She doesn't completely remember," Conan replied. "I feared that much," said Hiroshi who wasn't surprised. "What about the others," Haibara asked. "Are they aware of what happened?" Conan shook his head. "Fortunately they were all still inside waiting for Ran to finish with the questioning process. After I found you, I took you to the side of the building before calling Dr. Agasa. He arrived within a two minute frame." "I just happened to be passing through the area," Hiroshi noted. "I see.." Haibara sat in silence for seconds to come. "While you were out I took a sample of your blood," Hiroshi informed. "I'm awaiting the results of the test now. Hopefully we'll have answers for what caused you to lose consciousness." "How long was I out?" Haibara asked. "Three hours, give or take," answered Conan. "Ai-kun, would you like something?" Hiroshi asked. "Perhaps something to drink?" "I'm fine, thank you," said Haibara. "Very well," nodded Hiroshi who then turned his sights to the computer across the room. "I'll be back momentarily. I'm going to go check the status of the scan regarding the blood sample I extracted from you." The two watched as Hiroshi made his way to the computer. Turning, Haibara looked toward Conan. Noticing, Conan did the same. "So, how is she?" inquired Haibara. "Huh?" It was evident by the look on Conan's face he was uncertain for what it was she was referring to. "Ran," Haibara clarified. "How is she coping?" "Oh, yah. She's fine, considering," Conan replied. "What did she say about the Riddler?" Haibara asked. "Did she relay anything insightful about the whole ordeal?" Conan shook his head. "Unfortunately she didn't recall much." "That's probably for the better." "All she can remember is when Edward-san asked her for help in finding a location. Shortly after that she claimed everything went blank," Conan informed. "It's pretty clear once Ran was taken out Edward-san kept her under the entire time everything went down." "I see.. I guess that puts us at square one regarding the whereabouts of your riddle playmate," Haibara smilingly remarked. "He's not my playmate," Conan shot down. "You can certainly keep telling yourself that." "Now that you bring up the Riddler, it's all kind of strange though," said Conan. "What are you talking about?" "The words between the Riddler and the man I was linked with electronically during Riddler's challenge." "What was so strange about what was said?" "He had something to hide, something big." "Who?" "The Knight." "The Knight?" Haibara questioned. "Am I supposed to know who that is?" "Oh, sorry," Conan apologized. "That was the title Riddler gave to the man who I was paired with. Outside of him, Kaitou Kid was simply the Magician, and Oji-san the Investigator." "I see," Haibara realized. "Who was it that had something to hide? Nigma-san?" "Not him, the Knight," Conan clarified. "At least that's what the Riddler seemed to be implying at the time." "This supposed secret.. what relevance does it have pertaining the whereabouts of the Riddler?" asked Haibara. "A connection," Conan replied. "I believe whatever the secret is something that connects the Riddler and the Knight in some way." "And let me guess." Haibara leaned forward. "You believe if you're able to find out this secret it'll get you one step closer to finding the Riddler?" "Maybe.." "Any clue as to what the secret may be?" "There is little to go off of right now. I think our best bet is to investigate Edward Nigma further," Conan said. "The more we learn about him, the better prepared we'll be for when and how he makes his next move." "And if we're lucky perhaps we'll intercept whatever he has planned before he can act." "That's the plan. Even with all that's happened there's still one thing I'm struggling to understand." Conan stepped away from the sofa. There was now a focused look to be found on his face. "What was the point of it all? What was the Riddler hoping to accomplish with his challenge? Why broadcast it?" "Isn't it obvious?" questioned Haibara. "His entire goal was to prove to himself and everyone else he was superior to his selected subjects." "Was that really his objective though?" There was now an enquiring expression to be found on Haibara's face. "What are you implying?" "Think about it," said Conan who was looking at it from another perspective. "From the moment Edward Nigma stepped in past the doors to the agency, there was one theme that stood above all else, deception." Haibara was beginning to get an understanding for where he was going with his train of thought. "So, you believe the spectacle put on was nothing more than a distraction for what he truly has planned?" "Not so much a distraction, but rather a hint." Conan crossed his arms across his chest. He thought long and hard on the matter. "Last night was just a hint to something else, something bigger. A prologue if you will. Whatever Riddler has planned, I don't think it is as simple as a test. He was reaching for something more.. but what? I'll figure it out, no matter what." "You seem rather certain of yourself," pointed out Haibara. Conan smiled. "I didn't say it was going to be easy. Besides, I like a good challenge once in a while." "Don't forget the other matter we have to investigate. That fear toxin that originated from Gotham City," Haibara reminded. "About that, I think we can gain some ground on that front," Conan replied. "All we need to do is obtain all of the information that Detective Takagi has concerning the case." "I'd ask how you plan on doing gaining the information, but I think I have an idea for what you have in mind." A couple seconds later Hiroshi rejoined the pair. "The diagnosis on the blood results came back positive," Hiroshi revealed. "Positive?" Conan questioned. Haibara showed a look of concern. "For what?" Neither of them could have been prepared for what came next. "Found in your blood was a two percent dosage of the very toxin that has plagued the very streets of all of Japan." Conan's eyes leveled wide. "What, that's impossible! How?" To Be Continued
  10. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 22 An Act's Close A burning sensation in Conan's legs heightened with each stride. How much time passed since the discovery was made? How much time remained before the deadline? Those very thoughts ran through his mind. "I can't fail.. I won't." After making a left turn around a large tree the exit was now in sight. "Almost there!" Conan pressed himself further, feeling the urge to collapse with each step. He willed himself through the exhaust and sharp sting in his legs. With a leap toward the finish line Conan launched himself past the doors. He then looked to his wrist to find the timer had come to a complete stop. He had beaten the buzzard by twenty six seconds. "I.. did it." Conan immediately fell to the comfort of the grass, gasping for air as he managed a smile. "Shinichi, do you copy?" Batman radioed. "The countdown has seized, did you make it out with the bell?" Conan tiredly raised the bowtie to his lips. "I'm never running that fast again." That all but confirmed the questioned. Not a second later a certain person chimed in on their success. "Three for Three!" Riddler dispatched. "In no way in my right state of mind would I have imagined all six of you would survive the opening act without casualty." Batman spoke his name. "Riddler." "Tell me, in what frame does the end begin before the beginning?" "Enough riddles Nigama. Where is she?" Batman asked. "Where is Ran Mouri?" "Tsk, tsk, tsk.. for is it my secret that you wish to learn? Let us be fair," Riddler said. "If I am to reveal my secret, you'll have to do the same." "What are you talking about?" "My, my." Riddler chuckled. "Have you told your partner? Does Detective Kudo know your secret?" Hearing this Conan sat up in position. "What is he talking about?" "What indeed," said Riddler. "Go on now. Why don't you tell him, I'm sure he'd love to know just who it is he has been collaborating with for the last handful of minutes." "I know what you're trying to do, it won't-" Batman said only to get interrupted. "I only wish to lay it all onto the table," Riddler responded. "All cards in the deck. So, what do you say Dark Knight?" …. Where to begin? The Edo River is thirty seven miles in distance, something Damian was aware of. If she was truly traveling through the river somewhere, how long would it take before he would find her? "Yo Robin, coming at you with an update," Nightwing happily radioed. "This better be good," Damian responded. "I looked into the situation regarding the helicopters that were dispatched to overlook Kaitou Kid's heist, the heist that obviously got interrupted." "And?" "Here's the thing. Each helicopter is identified by code, represented in the form of a number," Nightwing explained. "I don't know if you noticed, but located on the left side of each helicopter is where a printed number can be found." "And which helicopter do you believe is the one Nigma is currently piloting?" "At first I was stumped," Nightwing admitted. "But then I came across something." "What?" "Helicopter number six was supposed to be inactive tonight, due to repairs that were to be made on it," Nightwing informed. "And let me guess, it just so happens to be flying the friendly skies tonight?" "Right on," Nightwing confirmed. "That means we know where Riddler is." Damian was absolutely pleased. "Next will be formulating a plan for apprehending Nigma without him realizing we're onto him." "Got any catchy ideas?" "We'll find a way," Damian put in short. "Unless you have something else to bring to my attention, I have an important matter that needs my full devoted focus." It was only then that he heard the loud sound that could be heard in the background. "Hey, what's that noise?" Damian was clueless as to what he was talking about. "You'll have to be more specific Grayson." "That grumbling sound," Nightwing clarified. "Just where the heck are you?" "Oh, that." Damian realized what he was referring to. "It's the speed boat." "Speed boat..?" Nightwing paused. "Wait, what speed boat?" "The one I'm riding now," Damian conveyed. Suspicion arose. "And where did you get a speed boat from?" "I borrowed it," Damian declared. Nightwing chuckled. "Borrowed?" "I'll return it in the shape I found it in," Damian assured. "What are you doing with a speed boat for anyw-" Damian interrupted. "Have you already forgot, the Mouri girl is traveling down the Edo River somewhere. That is where I am now," Damian informed. "If you weren't aware the Edo River is thirty seven miles wide. I don't think a canoe would be sufficed for the situation, thus why I've opted to a speed boat." "How much ground have you covered?" "A mile and a half, give or take," replied Damian. "I'm in current en route to Ichikawa. That is where the Edo River will empty into the Tokyo Bay. This entire river is flowing in that very direction." "You're on your 'A' game today," Nightwing complemented. "If Ran Mouri is truly traveling along the Edo River somewhere there is no way you can miss her. Keep your eyes peeled. Good luck, Robin." "-TT-." "Nightwing out." Now with all distractions aside Damian's full focus was on the river itself. He leveled up in speed, flowing in perfect tune with the waves beneath. "Where is she?" That very thought weighed heavily in mind. He kept himself centered as best as he could, looking from one side of the river to the other. There was nothing in sight. A minute passed, then two. "I wish I knew what it is I should be looking for." Soon after posing that very question Damian caught eye of something in the distance afar, a large object floating along the river as he did. "What's that?" There was only one way to find out. Could it be that he had found the sought? His heart now raced with anticipation. Putting the speed boat into full throttle Damian charged forward. "Only one way to find out." … On the rooftop Batman stood stone still, unsure of how to respond to the posed. "So what's it going to be?" Riddler further pressed. "A trade off, bread in exchange for iron, your secret as well as mine. A conclusion can't be made without-" "This is non-negotiable," Batman shot down. "I will find her and you as well. There's an empty cell waiting for you back at Arkham." "You speak as if you're in control, as if you know what is to come," Riddler said. "Tell me, how does the blind man fail to find his way through the lost forest when the exit is right behind him?" There was a long pause. "Perhaps it isn't the exit he seeks," Batman figured. Riddler groaned. "No, no, no! You're looking at it all wrong." "I'm done playing games Riddler," declared Batman. "Question is.. whom is it that is choosing to play games?" "…" "Ohh, you didn't think I would realize that you're stalling?" Riddler stated. Conan who had been listening in the entire time finally chimed in. "Stalling? Stalling for what?" "What indeed," Riddler said. "If I had to take an educated guess, I'd say it has something to do with one of his freelance sidekicks." "Sidekicks?" Conan did not know what to make of these comments. The next second someone else joined in on the conversation. "It's over Riddler, I've found her," Damian dispatched. "You've lost." "Her?" Conan thought to himself. "Is he referring to Ran? Furthermore, who is this guy?" The sound of clapping could be heard coming from the Riddler's line. "Excellent work, though I must note that you're roughly a minute late from the time I predicted you would reach this point," Riddler stated. "I know where you are, you've been keeping tabs on everyone from the sky," Damian revealed. "You're in helicopter number-" "Six, yes," Riddler confirmed. Upon learning this Batman immediately looked to the sky to find several helicopters were now heading in the direction of the rooftop he, Kogoro, and Kaitou Kid stood upon, none of which were helicopter number six. "They're coming." "I'm sure you've noticed by now that you've got incoming company Dark Knight. As much as I'd like to see how it all plays out, I must put in my timely leave," Riddler said. "Until next time, yes?" And with that Riddler's communication line cut off. Batman looked over his shoulder to find Kaitou Kid was now gone. He wasn't surprised in the least. "Is it over?" Conan radioed. Batman responded. "Yes." The helicopters overlooking the city continued to close in on their location. It didn't take long for Kogoro to notice as well. "What the hell is going on?" Batman took a step forward, placing a foot onto the edge of the building. "It's over," Batman relayed. Hearing this Kogoro made a move toward him. "My daughter? What about Ran?" Batman looked to him for a final time. "She's fine detective, an ally of mine has assured her safety." Batman conveyed. Kogoro sighed in relief. "There is one thing I'd like to ask of you." Kogoro looked him in the eyes. "What is it?" "Everything that happened on this roof tonight involving Kaitou Kid and myself, it never happened," Batman stated. "What do you mean it never happened?" "Goodbye detective." Batman looked to the distance afar. Kogoro raced over, witnessing as Batman glided off into the night. He was at a loss for words. Not a moment later a bright light shined down upon him. Kogoro looked up to find the several helicopters hovering above. There was now a sense of relief. Question was.. was it truly over? ….. Eleven Hours Later The room was silent. Only the subtle sound of the steam rising from the cup of hot tea sitting atop the desk was heard. What exactly had happened the night before? The details of it all were still that of a blur. The sound of a knock at the door came a moment later. Leaning back in the chair Kiyonaga invited the visitor in. "You may enter." A familiar face stepped in past the door. "Sato, you're here." "And with an update," Miwako reported. Kiyonaga was pleased to learn this. "What were you able to uncover?" "How do I put this?" Miwako stopped after reaching the desk. Kiyonaga waved a hand. "Why don't you have a seat?" the Superintendent offered. Miwako nodded. "Thank you." Now seated, she proceeded. "As you know I have been investigating all parties that were on the list I formulated in regards to the drug that hit the streets." "And what has your investigation amounted to?" "A prime suspect," Miwako replied. "If you can even call it that." Kiyonaga didn't know what to make of her words. "What are you trying to say?" "Sunshine Aldor," Miwako said. "That was one of the names on the list of suspects that I gathered. I went in search of Sunshine-san last night." Kiyonaga leaned forward, placing his hands to the top of the desk. "And?" "Aldor Sunshine doesn't exist," Miwako finally revealed. "At least, that's what appears to be the case. According to the online file I found on him it was said he worked at a Fun Entertainment Inc. building located here in Tokyo. Last night I went to visit his office." "He wasn't there," Kiyonaga guessed. "That's right. Not only that, the office room he was supposedly occupying didn't exist either," Miwako continued. "I spoke with the clerk who was working at the front desk last night, according to her there isn't an Aldor Sunshine employed there, nor has there been in the past." "Could it be that Aldor Sunshine simply works at another one of the FEI buildings?" Kiyonaga questioned. "I looked into that very possibility before I came in. There is no Aldor Sunshine working for Fun Entertainment Inc. Not here, nor at any of the other facilities located throughout Japan." "I see." Kiyonaga rested his chin atop his hands. "What a dilemma this is." "There was also a small house registered to Aldor Sunshine located here in Tokyo." "Have you visited it?" Miwako nodded in confirmation. "No one answered when I visited last night, nor when I returned there early this morning." "I take it you would like to get a search warrant?" Kiyonaga assumed. "One of many reasons I'm here," Miwako confirmed. "I will see to that," Kiyonaga assured. "I couldn't ask for anything more." "Unless you have more for me; you're dismissed." Miwako nodded before standing back to her feet. About halfway across the room Kiyonaga called to her. "Sato, one last thing." She faced her superior once more. "Good work." "Thank you sir." And with that she advanced onward, closing the door on her way out. Kiyonaga turned in his chair to where he was now looking out the window. "First that drug, then that Riddler character last night. Just what the hell is going on in this city?" ….. Friday! The end of the school week had finally arrived. It was just the two of them, walking side by side. "You have barely spoken since you came over this morning," Haibara said. She could see the look on his face, the deep intent in his eyes even. He was in the process of trying to solve something. But what? "Shinichi?" Hearing his name Conan finally responded. "Sorry," he replied. "I have a lot on my mind." "Anything specific?" "The Riddler.. the identity of the man I was paired with, the game itself," replied Conan. "I have so many questions." "The good news is it's over," Haibara said. "And above all, no one got hurt." "Is it really?" "Excuse me?" "Is it truly over? The Riddler was not apprehended. Who's to say he won't strike again at some point?" "Do you believe he will?" "I do. Last night was just the beginning." Several silent filled moments passed. "How long will Ran remain at the hospital?" Haibara asked. "I don't know," Conan admitted. "She has yet to awake, not since she was found on the side of the river last night." "Who was the one to find her?" Haibara was curious. "It was a call in," Conan informed. "From an anonymous caller. When the police arrived on the scene there was no one there but Ran." "Hmmm. That's rather suspicious," Haibara noted. "I agree." "I take it detective Mouri is currently at Ran's side?" "He is," confirmed Conan. "It's strange though." Haibara looked over, now with an enquiring look on her face. "By what do you mean?" "What was the point of it all? What was the Riddler hoping to accomplish with that game of his?" Conan still didn't know what to make of it all. "All that set up.. for what? Everything ended so abruptly." "It's like you said, last night was only the beginning." "The question is, how and when," Conan said. "There is something else. Oji-san's statement that he gave to the police last night while we were at the station, it was strange." "Starnge?" Haibara questioned. "How do you mean?" Before he had the chance to respond the two would be interrupted. "Hey guys, over here!" Looking across the way the two spotted their friends who were clearly waiting for them. "Looks like we'll have to put this discussion on hold," Conan said. They found themselves in the company of the others soon after. "It's about time you guys showed up," said Genta. "Have you guys been waiting long?" Conan asked. "Almost six minutes," replied Mitsuhiko who checked his watch. "We still have over fifteen minutes before class starts, so we'll be ok." "Let's go!" Ayumi said cheerfully. "You seem pretty happy," Conan noticed. "Do you have something special planned for the day Ayumi-chan?" "We all do!" to which Ayumi replied. "What? We do?" Conan was uncertain for what it was she was referring to. "Today is Friday," Ayumi reminded. "And also show and tell day." "I completely forgot about that," murmured Conan. "You forgot, didn't you?" asked Haibara who came to Conan's side. "Of course not," Conan lied. "How could I?" "Come on guys," Mitsuhiko directed with the wave of his hand. "Let's get going." "Right behind you," said Genta who was the first to follow. And with that their day was now underway. As they pressed on there was another matter that came front and center to Conan's mind. "There's still the fact that Kaitou Kid decided to hand over the Elephant Revenant to me. But why? What could be the reason?" ….. Gotham City It started with a right turn, followed by a left. Soon the combination was realized in full. With the lock now disabled he stood to his feet. "Opening this door will send out a signal to the GCPD, we'll have anywhere from three to six minutes before they arrive. So we'll need to move swiftly. Everyone got it?" "Just open the damn safe," another said in response. "Let's get the money and hightail outta here, the longer we mess around the higher the chance we'll encounter you know who. Besides, we still haffta make plans for the next bank we bout to hit up." "Yah, yea, I hear ya." He turned back in the direction of the door only to hear something drop down to the ground from behind. "Now what?" Turning around he along with everyone who stood in rank with him came to lock eyes on a dark figure hiding among the shadows across the room. There was no doubt in their minds who it was. "Batman!" "We can do this the easy way, or the painful one," the voice of a woman conveyed. "The hell? That aint the bat. Who are you? Show yourself!" "You're in no position to give orders," she replied. "It's eight against one, I like our odds." "But I am not of one," the woman declared. Following this more figures appeared within the darkness of the room. "We are many, ghosts of this world." "I don't care who you people are. Alright boys, light em up!" … Several miles away The hand on the clock turned, signaling the passing of another hour. It was now eight o'clock. Soon it would be time to venture out into the night. He now sat at the chair in front of the large super computer, all collected information had been gathered into one file. The only thing that remained to do was to piece it all together. "What was Nigma doing down in Japan? Was his entire purpose for being their completely tied to his game? Or could it be more.. could it be that the spread of Crane's toxin was also part of his doing? And then there's the Royal Flash Gang, what did they want with Kaitou Kid?" Those very questions carried on through his mind. The sound of someone approaching from behind came in those following seconds. Turning in his seat he came to find who it was. "Nightwing, Flash, thank you for coming." "It's been a steady in Central City all evening," Flash noted. "Taking a short leave shouldn't cause for too much concern." "Batman, what is it?" asked Nightwing who advanced forward. "Have you figured something out?" "Work in progress," Batman replied. "The details involving yesterday's case isn't entirely why I have summoned you both." "Ok, consider me surprised," Flash admitted. "If you didn't call us here to discuss the Riddler, then why are we here?" Batman turned in the chair to where he now faced the two entirely. "Because this matter might concern you both just as much as myself." Both Nightwing and Flash looked to one another before looking back down at him. "Excuse me?" Nightwing questioned. Batman would now elaborate. "Barry, do you recall when this all started?" "Well, of course," Flash replied. "The moment the Riddler showed up at detective Mouri's agenc-" Batman interrupted. "No, it began before that." "What, before? Are you sure?" "Central City," Batman said. "That is where Scarecrow's toxin was being produced, the batch that was ultimately shipped to several parts of Japan." "You're right," Flash said. "I almost forgot about that." "Could it be that Riddler's appearance in Japan is tied to Crane's toxin?" Nightwing questioned. "Is it possible?" "It can't be coincidence," Flash said. "The Riddler, Scarecrow.. there has to be a connection to make." "Any guess to what that could be?" "If there is a connection to make, we will find it." Batman was certain of this. "I said you both are involved in this just as much as myself, and not just the two, but the other three as well." "Other three?" Nightwing questioned. "As in the guys we were paired with electronically during Riddler's fun game?" "Yes. Detective Mouri, Kaitou Kid, and myself were all targets from the beginning," Batman pointed out. "The moment the both of you and detective Kudo picked up those communicator devices was the moment you became just as intertwined in all of this as the rest of us. We can't shy away from the possibility that you two might specifically be a part of the Riddler's ultimate plan going forward." "You know the Riddler better than anyone," Flash said. "What do you believe he is planning?" Batman gave the only answer he could. "I don't know, at least not yet." Pivoting in the chair all focus fell on the computer. "Before I called the two of you here I put together a timeline for every action the Riddler made within the last three days." "And let me guess, you think you might have an idea for what Riddler's next move will be?" Batman replied. ".. Maybe." He proceeded from there, opening a file on the screen for all to see. "Prepare yourselves gentlemen and ladies alike; the end of this will bring about the closing to a prologue. That was the closing line of Riddler's last announcement to the public." "What of it?" Flash questioned. "Do you think there is some relevance to that line?" ".. Prologue," Nightwing said. "That is the key word. If yesterday was a prologue then there is certainly more to come." "Ok, but what?" Flash wondered. "The pieces are all here, we just need to put them together," Batman said in response. "There is one thing in particular Nigma asked of me that seems to be the most telling." "Let's hear it." "Morning, day, and night. Can you name three consecutive days without using the words; Sunday, Saturday, Friday, Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, or Monday?" "What was your response?" Flash asked. "Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow." "And what did he say in response?" "He claimed the answer I gave was incorrect," replied Batman. "Figuring out the true answer could be key to determining what the Riddler plan's to do next." "Something we can all agree on," Flash said. "Another thing we should take into account is the theme of these proceedings, a mirrored misdirection. For all we know something like that could still be in play for whatever he is planning next." "Something I am accounting for," acknowledged Batman. "There was something else Nigma said that has been on my mind." "And what's that?" Nightwing asked. "In what frame does the end begin before the beginning?" Batman ran down. "There is no doubt in my mind he was hinting at something." "Question is, what?" "I do have something else I do wish to ask, since we're semi on the subject," Flash said. Batman took a moment to look away from the computer. "What is it?" "Ran Mouri, the daughter of the detective," Flash said. "Where was she anyway?" "Floating along the Edo River inside of a coffin," Nightwing revealed. Flash was surprised to learn this. "A coffin? Now that's unexpected. Where is it now, in the hands of Tokyo's authorities?" "They are unaware of the coffin," Batman said. "You don't mean.." "Yes, when I returned from Japan I brought the coffin back with me," Batman confirmed. "It is currently in my evidence lab." Batman then turned focus back on the computer. Flash crossed his arms over his chest. "Why am I not surprised? So, did the coffin hint at anything? Did you discover something that might tell us where the Riddler is or when he might strike next?" Batman responded. "Nothing that could be made out from the naked eye. I'll have to run some further tests to be sure. On the subject of the coffin, Riddler knew Ran had been found before Robin even reported it over the communicator," Batman said. "My guess is that Nigma installed something inside of the coffin which allowed him to know when someone opened or came near it." "Which gave him the opportunity to hightail out of there before anyone could get the chance to get the drop on him," Nightwing said. There remained only one thing to enquire. "So.. what happens from here?" Batman stood up from the chair with only one thing to say. "We prepare." The sound of a step echoed through the room, then another. "Someone's coming," Flash noted. "You expecting more company?" "No, I'm not." The three of them looked into the direction of the stairway to find a dark figure approaching. "I hope I am not interrupting anything," someone spoke. Batman recognized the voice immediately, watching as they stepped into the clear. "Batwoman." "Batman, we have a problem." To Be Continued
  11. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 22 An Act's Close A burning sensation in Conan's legs heightened with each stride. How much time passed since the discovery was made? How much time remained before the deadline? Those very thoughts ran through his mind. "I can't fail.. I won't." After making a left turn around a large tree the exit was now in sight. "Almost there!" Conan pressed himself further, feeling the urge to collapse with each step. He willed himself through the exhaust and sharp sting in his legs. With a leap toward the finish line Conan launched himself past the doors. He then looked to his wrist to find the timer had come to a complete stop. He had beaten the buzzard by twenty six seconds. "I.. did it." Conan immediately fell to the comfort of the grass, gasping for air as he managed a smile. "Shinichi, do you copy?" Batman radioed. "The countdown has seized, did you make it out with the bell?" Conan tiredly raised the bowtie to his lips. "I'm never running that fast again." That all but confirmed the questioned. Not a second later a certain person chimed in on their success. "Three for Three!" Riddler dispatched. "In no way in my right state of mind would I have imagined all six of you would survive the opening act without casualty." Batman spoke his name. "Riddler." "Tell me, in what frame does the end begin before the beginning?" "Enough riddles Nigama. Where is she?" Batman asked. "Where is Ran Mouri?" "Tsk, tsk, tsk.. for is it my secret that you wish to learn? Let us be fair," Riddler said. "If I am to reveal my secret, you'll have to do the same." "What are you talking about?" "My, my." Riddler chuckled. "Have you told your partner? Does Detective Kudo know your secret?" Hearing this Conan sat up in position. "What is he talking about?" "What indeed," said Riddler. "Go on now. Why don't you tell him, I'm sure he'd love to know just who it is he has been collaborating with for the last handful of minutes." "I know what you're trying to do, it won't-" Batman said only to get interrupted. "I only wish to lay it all onto the table," Riddler responded. "All cards in the deck. So, what do you say Dark Knight?" …. Where to begin? The Edo River is thirty seven miles in distance, something Damian was aware of. If she was truly traveling through the river somewhere, how long would it take before he would find her? "Yo Robin, coming at you with an update," Nightwing happily radioed. "This better be good," Damian responded. "I looked into the situation regarding the helicopters that were dispatched to overlook Kaitou Kid's heist, the heist that obviously got interrupted." "And?" "Here's the thing. Each helicopter is identified by code, represented in the form of a number," Nightwing explained. "I don't know if you noticed, but located on the left side of each helicopter is where a printed number can be found." "And which helicopter do you believe is the one Nigma is currently piloting?" "At first I was stumped," Nightwing admitted. "But then I came across something." "What?" "Helicopter number six was supposed to be inactive tonight, due to repairs that were to be made on it," Nightwing informed. "And let me guess, it just so happens to be flying the friendly skies tonight?" "Right on," Nightwing confirmed. "That means we know where Riddler is." Damian was absolutely pleased. "Next will be formulating a plan for apprehending Nigma without him realizing we're onto him." "Got any catchy ideas?" "We'll find a way," Damian put in short. "Unless you have something else to bring to my attention, I have an important matter that needs my full devoted focus." It was only then that he heard the loud sound that could be heard in the background. "Hey, what's that noise?" Damian was clueless as to what he was talking about. "You'll have to be more specific Grayson." "That grumbling sound," Nightwing clarified. "Just where the heck are you?" "Oh, that." Damian realized what he was referring to. "It's the speed boat." "Speed boat..?" Nightwing paused. "Wait, what speed boat?" "The one I'm riding now," Damian conveyed. Suspicion arose. "And where did you get a speed boat from?" "I borrowed it," Damian declared. Nightwing chuckled. "Borrowed?" "I'll return it in the shape I found it in," Damian assured. "What are you doing with a speed boat for anyw-" Damian interrupted. "Have you already forgot, the Mouri girl is traveling down the Edo River somewhere. That is where I am now," Damian informed. "If you weren't aware the Edo River is thirty seven miles wide. I don't think a canoe would be sufficed for the situation, thus why I've opted to a speed boat." "How much ground have you covered?" "A mile and a half, give or take," replied Damian. "I'm in current en route to Ichikawa. That is where the Edo River will empty into the Tokyo Bay. This entire river is flowing in that very direction." "You're on your 'A' game today," Nightwing complemented. "If Ran Mouri is truly traveling along the Edo River somewhere there is no way you can miss her. Keep your eyes peeled. Good luck, Robin." "-TT-." "Nightwing out." Now with all distractions aside Damian's full focus was on the river itself. He leveled up in speed, flowing in perfect tune with the waves beneath. "Where is she?" That very thought weighed heavily in mind. He kept himself centered as best as he could, looking from one side of the river to the other. There was nothing in sight. A minute passed, then two. "I wish I knew what it is I should be looking for." Soon after posing that very question Damian caught eye of something in the distance afar, a large object floating along the river as he did. "What's that?" There was only one way to find out. Could it be that he had found the sought? His heart now raced with anticipation. Putting the speed boat into full throttle Damian charged forward. "Only one way to find out." … On the rooftop Batman stood stone still, unsure of how to respond to the posed. "So what's it going to be?" Riddler further pressed. "A trade off, bread in exchange for iron, your secret as well as mine. A conclusion can't be made without-" "This is non-negotiable," Batman shot down. "I will find her and you as well. There's an empty cell waiting for you back at Arkham." "You speak as if you're in control, as if you know what is to come," Riddler said. "Tell me, how does the blind man fail to find his way through the lost forest when the exit is right behind him?" There was a long pause. "Perhaps it isn't the exit he seeks," Batman figured. Riddler groaned. "No, no, no! You're looking at it all wrong." "I'm done playing games Riddler," declared Batman. "Question is.. whom is it that is choosing to play games?" "…" "Ohh, you didn't think I would realize that you're stalling?" Riddler stated. Conan who had been listening in the entire time finally chimed in. "Stalling? Stalling for what?" "What indeed," Riddler said. "If I had to take an educated guess, I'd say it has something to do with one of his freelance sidekicks." "Sidekicks?" Conan did not know what to make of these comments. The next second someone else joined in on the conversation. "It's over Riddler, I've found her," Damian dispatched. "You've lost." "Her?" Conan thought to himself. "Is he referring to Ran? Furthermore, who is this guy?" The sound of clapping could be heard coming from the Riddler's line. "Excellent work, though I must note that you're roughly a minute late from the time I predicted you would reach this point," Riddler stated. "I know where you are, you've been keeping tabs on everyone from the sky," Damian revealed. "You're in helicopter number-" "Six, yes," Riddler confirmed. Upon learning this Batman immediately looked to the sky to find several helicopters were now heading in the direction of the rooftop he, Kogoro, and Kaitou Kid stood upon, none of which were helicopter number six. "They're coming." "I'm sure you've noticed by now that you've got incoming company Dark Knight. As much as I'd like to see how it all plays out, I must put in my timely leave," Riddler said. "Until next time, yes?" And with that Riddler's communication line cut off. Batman looked over his shoulder to find Kaitou Kid was now gone. He wasn't surprised in the least. "Is it over?" Conan radioed. Batman responded. "Yes." The helicopters overlooking the city continued to close in on their location. It didn't take long for Kogoro to notice as well. "What the hell is going on?" Batman took a step forward, placing a foot onto the edge of the building. "It's over," Batman relayed. Hearing this Kogoro made a move toward him. "My daughter? What about Ran?" Batman looked to him for a final time. "She's fine detective, an ally of mine has assured her safety." Batman conveyed. Kogoro sighed in relief. "There is one thing I'd like to ask of you." Kogoro looked him in the eyes. "What is it?" "Everything that happened on this roof tonight involving Kaitou Kid and myself, it never happened," Batman stated. "What do you mean it never happened?" "Goodbye detective." Batman looked to the distance afar. Kogoro raced over, witnessing as Batman glided off into the night. He was at a loss for words. Not a moment later a bright light shined down upon him. Kogoro looked up to find the several helicopters hovering above. There was now a sense of relief. Question was.. was it truly over? ….. Eleven Hours Later The room was silent. Only the subtle sound of the steam rising from the cup of hot tea sitting atop the desk was heard. What exactly had happened the night before? The details of it all were still that of a blur. The sound of a knock at the door came a moment later. Leaning back in the chair Kiyonaga invited the visitor in. "You may enter." A familiar face stepped in past the door. "Sato, you're here." "And with an update," Miwako reported. Kiyonaga was pleased to learn this. "What were you able to uncover?" "How do I put this?" Miwako stopped after reaching the desk. Kiyonaga waved a hand. "Why don't you have a seat?" the Superintendent offered. Miwako nodded. "Thank you." Now seated, she proceeded. "As you know I have been investigating all parties that were on the list I formulated in regards to the drug that hit the streets." "And what has your investigation amounted to?" "A prime suspect," Miwako replied. "If you can even call it that." Kiyonaga didn't know what to make of her words. "What are you trying to say?" "Sunshine Aldor," Miwako said. "That was one of the names on the list of suspects that I gathered. I went in search of Sunshine-san last night." Kiyonaga leaned forward, placing his hands to the top of the desk. "And?" "Aldor Sunshine doesn't exist," Miwako finally revealed. "At least, that's what appears to be the case. According to the online file I found on him it was said he worked at a Fun Entertainment Inc. building located here in Tokyo. Last night I went to visit his office." "He wasn't there," Kiyonaga guessed. "That's right. Not only that, the office room he was supposedly occupying didn't exist either," Miwako continued. "I spoke with the clerk who was working at the front desk last night, according to her there isn't an Aldor Sunshine employed there, nor has there been in the past." "Could it be that Aldor Sunshine simply works at another one of the FEI buildings?" Kiyonaga questioned. "I looked into that very possibility before I came in. There is no Aldor Sunshine working for Fun Entertainment Inc. Not here, nor at any of the other facilities located throughout Japan." "I see." Kiyonaga rested his chin atop his hands. "What a dilemma this is." "There was also a small house registered to Aldor Sunshine located here in Tokyo." "Have you visited it?" Miwako nodded in confirmation. "No one answered when I visited last night, nor when I returned there early this morning." "I take it you would like to get a search warrant?" Kiyonaga assumed. "One of many reasons I'm here," Miwako confirmed. "I will see to that," Kiyonaga assured. "I couldn't ask for anything more." "Unless you have more for me; you're dismissed." Miwako nodded before standing back to her feet. About halfway across the room Kiyonaga called to her. "Sato, one last thing." She faced her superior once more. "Good work." "Thank you sir." And with that she advanced onward, closing the door on her way out. Kiyonaga turned in his chair to where he was now looking out the window. "First that drug, then that Riddler character last night. Just what the hell is going on in this city?" ….. Friday! The end of the school week had finally arrived. It was just the two of them, walking side by side. "You have barely spoken since you came over this morning," Haibara said. She could see the look on his face, the deep intent in his eyes even. He was in the process of trying to solve something. But what? "Shinichi?" Hearing his name Conan finally responded. "Sorry," he replied. "I have a lot on my mind." "Anything specific?" "The Riddler.. the identity of the man I was paired with, the game itself," replied Conan. "I have so many questions." "The good news is it's over," Haibara said. "And above all, no one got hurt." "Is it really?" "Excuse me?" "Is it truly over? The Riddler was not apprehended. Who's to say he won't strike again at some point?" "Do you believe he will?" "I do. Last night was just the beginning." Several silent filled moments passed. "How long will Ran remain at the hospital?" Haibara asked. "I don't know," Conan admitted. "She has yet to awake, not since she was found on the side of the river last night." "Who was the one to find her?" Haibara was curious. "It was a call in," Conan informed. "From an anonymous caller. When the police arrived on the scene there was no one there but Ran." "Hmmm. That's rather suspicious," Haibara noted. "I agree." "I take it detective Mouri is currently at Ran's side?" "He is," confirmed Conan. "It's strange though." Haibara looked over, now with an enquiring look on her face. "By what do you mean?" "What was the point of it all? What was the Riddler hoping to accomplish with that game of his?" Conan still didn't know what to make of it all. "All that set up.. for what? Everything ended so abruptly." "It's like you said, last night was only the beginning." "The question is, how and when," Conan said. "There is something else. Oji-san's statement that he gave to the police last night while we were at the station, it was strange." "Starnge?" Haibara questioned. "How do you mean?" Before he had the chance to respond the two would be interrupted. "Hey guys, over here!" Looking across the way the two spotted their friends who were clearly waiting for them. "Looks like we'll have to put this discussion on hold," Conan said. They found themselves in the company of the others soon after. "It's about time you guys showed up," said Genta. "Have you guys been waiting long?" Conan asked. "Almost six minutes," replied Mitsuhiko who checked his watch. "We still have over fifteen minutes before class starts, so we'll be ok." "Let's go!" Ayumi said cheerfully. "You seem pretty happy," Conan noticed. "Do you have something special planned for the day Ayumi-chan?" "We all do!" to which Ayumi replied. "What? We do?" Conan was uncertain for what it was she was referring to. "Today is Friday," Ayumi reminded. "And also show and tell day." "I completely forgot about that," murmured Conan. "You forgot, didn't you?" asked Haibara who came to Conan's side. "Of course not," Conan lied. "How could I?" "Come on guys," Mitsuhiko directed with the wave of his hand. "Let's get going." "Right behind you," said Genta who was the first to follow. And with that their day was now underway. As they pressed on there was another matter that came front and center to Conan's mind. "There's still the fact that Kaitou Kid decided to hand over the Elephant Revenant to me. But why? What could be the reason?" ….. Gotham City It started with a right turn, followed by a left. Soon the combination was realized in full. With the lock now disabled he stood to his feet. "Opening this door will send out a signal to the GCPD, we'll have anywhere from three to six minutes before they arrive. So we'll need to move swiftly. Everyone got it?" "Just open the damn safe," another said in response. "Let's get the money and hightail outta here, the longer we mess around the higher the chance we'll encounter you know who. Besides, we still haffta make plans for the next bank we bout to hit up." "Yah, yea, I hear ya." He turned back in the direction of the door only to hear something drop down to the ground from behind. "Now what?" Turning around he along with everyone who stood in rank with him came to lock eyes on a dark figure hiding among the shadows across the room. There was no doubt in their minds who it was. "Batman!" "We can do this the easy way, or the painful one," the voice of a woman conveyed. "The hell? That aint the bat. Who are you? Show yourself!" "You're in no position to give orders," she replied. "It's eight against one, I like our odds." "But I am not of one," the woman declared. Following this more figures appeared within the darkness of the room. "We are many, ghosts of this world." "I don't care who you people are. Alright boys, light em up!" … Several miles away The hand on the clock turned, signaling the passing of another hour. It was now eight o'clock. Soon it would be time to venture out into the night. He now sat at the chair in front of the large super computer, all collected information had been gathered into one file. The only thing that remained to do was to piece it all together. "What was Nigma doing down in Japan? Was his entire purpose for being their completely tied to his game? Or could it be more.. could it be that the spread of Crane's toxin was also part of his doing? And then there's the Royal Flash Gang, what did they want with Kaitou Kid?" Those very questions carried on through his mind. The sound of someone approaching from behind came in those following seconds. Turning in his seat he came to find who it was. "Nightwing, Flash, thank you for coming." "It's been a steady in Central City all evening," Flash noted. "Taking a short leave shouldn't cause for too much concern." "Batman, what is it?" asked Nightwing who advanced forward. "Have you figured something out?" "Work in progress," Batman replied. "The details involving yesterday's case isn't entirely why I have summoned you both." "Ok, consider me surprised," Flash admitted. "If you didn't call us here to discuss the Riddler, then why are we here?" Batman turned in the chair to where he now faced the two entirely. "Because this matter might concern you both just as much as myself." Both Nightwing and Flash looked to one another before looking back down at him. "Excuse me?" Nightwing questioned. Batman would now elaborate. "Barry, do you recall when this all started?" "Well, of course," Flash replied. "The moment the Riddler showed up at detective Mouri's agenc-" Batman interrupted. "No, it began before that." "What, before? Are you sure?" "Central City," Batman said. "That is where Scarecrow's toxin was being produced, the batch that was ultimately shipped to several parts of Japan." "You're right," Flash said. "I almost forgot about that." "Could it be that Riddler's appearance in Japan is tied to Crane's toxin?" Nightwing questioned. "Is it possible?" "It can't be coincidence," Flash said. "The Riddler, Scarecrow.. there has to be a connection to make." "Any guess to what that could be?" "If there is a connection to make, we will find it." Batman was certain of this. "I said you both are involved in this just as much as myself, and not just the two, but the other three as well." "Other three?" Nightwing questioned. "As in the guys we were paired with electronically during Riddler's fun game?" "Yes. Detective Mouri, Kaitou Kid, and myself were all targets from the beginning," Batman pointed out. "The moment the both of you and detective Kudo picked up those communicator devices was the moment you became just as intertwined in all of this as the rest of us. We can't shy away from the possibility that you two might specifically be a part of the Riddler's ultimate plan going forward." "You know the Riddler better than anyone," Flash said. "What do you believe he is planning?" Batman gave the only answer he could. "I don't know, at least not yet." Pivoting in the chair all focus fell on the computer. "Before I called the two of you here I put together a timeline for every action the Riddler made within the last three days." "And let me guess, you think you might have an idea for what Riddler's next move will be?" Batman replied. ".. Maybe." He proceeded from there, opening a file on the screen for all to see. "Prepare yourselves gentlemen and ladies alike; the end of this will bring about the closing to a prologue. That was the closing line of Riddler's last announcement to the public." "What of it?" Flash questioned. "Do you think there is some relevance to that line?" ".. Prologue," Nightwing said. "That is the key word. If yesterday was a prologue then there is certainly more to come." "Ok, but what?" Flash wondered. "The pieces are all here, we just need to put them together," Batman said in response. "There is one thing in particular Nigma asked of me that seems to be the most telling." "Let's hear it." "Morning, day, and night. Can you name three consecutive days without using the words; Sunday, Saturday, Friday, Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, or Monday?" "What was your response?" Flash asked. "Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow." "And what did he say in response?" "He claimed the answer I gave was incorrect," replied Batman. "Figuring out the true answer could be key to determining what the Riddler plan's to do next." "Something we can all agree on," Flash said. "Another thing we should take into account is the theme of these proceedings, a mirrored misdirection. For all we know something like that could still be in play for whatever he is planning next." "Something I am accounting for," acknowledged Batman. "There was something else Nigma said that has been on my mind." "And what's that?" Nightwing asked. "In what frame does the end begin before the beginning?" Batman ran down. "There is no doubt in my mind he was hinting at something." "Question is, what?" "I do have something else I do wish to ask, since we're semi on the subject," Flash said. Batman took a moment to look away from the computer. "What is it?" "Ran Mouri, the daughter of the detective," Flash said. "Where was she anyway?" "Floating along the Edo River inside of a coffin," Nightwing revealed. Flash was surprised to learn this. "A coffin? Now that's unexpected. Where is it now, in the hands of Tokyo's authorities?" "They are unaware of the coffin," Batman said. "You don't mean.." "Yes, when I returned from Japan I brought the coffin back with me," Batman confirmed. "It is currently in my evidence lab." Batman then turned focus back on the computer. Flash crossed his arms over his chest. "Why am I not surprised? So, did the coffin hint at anything? Did you discover something that might tell us where the Riddler is or when he might strike next?" Batman responded. "Nothing that could be made out from the naked eye. I'll have to run some further tests to be sure. On the subject of the coffin, Riddler knew Ran had been found before Robin even reported it over the communicator," Batman said. "My guess is that Nigma installed something inside of the coffin which allowed him to know when someone opened or came near it." "Which gave him the opportunity to hightail out of there before anyone could get the chance to get the drop on him," Nightwing said. There remained only one thing to enquire. "So.. what happens from here?" Batman stood up from the chair with only one thing to say. "We prepare." The sound of a step echoed through the room, then another. "Someone's coming," Flash noted. "You expecting more company?" "No, I'm not." The three of them looked into the direction of the stairway to find a dark figure approaching. "I hope I am not interrupting anything," someone spoke. Batman recognized the voice immediately, watching as they stepped into the clear. "Batwoman." "Batman, we have a problem." To Be Continued
  12. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 21 The Locations A detonator.. could it really be? If so, for what? Surely the Riddler wouldn't give him the detonator to one of the explosives? No, it had to mean something more than that, but what? "Think Barry, think.." Every moment that passed was critical. In the heat of thought his wrist device began to vibrate. "Yo Flash, what's going on?" Kaitou Kid radioed. "The countdown on my device is reading that we only have a minute and eight seconds before one of those explosions go off. It makes no sense, not long ago it read that we had over six minutes. What the heck is going on?" "Well, I can explain that," Flash replied. The tone in his voice gave it away. "No, don't tell me?" "Yes, I used one of the service cards," Flash revealed. "Service card number one to be precise." Kaitou Kid was at a loss for words. "Don't you think that should have been something we discussed, you know.. as a team?" "Didn't have time to weigh you in on the-" Flash stopped after hearing a ring from the communicator in his ear. "Kid listen, I'll get back to you. I've got an incoming call." "From who?" "From someone who can hopefully help us break the code," Flash replied. "Promise this won't take long." With one conversation ending another began. "Cyborg, please tell me you've got something for me." "I do," Cyborg happily reported. Flash was pleased to hear this. "Lay it to me buddy." "So here's the deal. The train station in east Gotham as well as the station in Burnly both received separate missile threats," Cyborg relayed. "That's why no one is aboard that train you are on, and why no one was at the east Gotham train station." Flash blinked an eye. "Missiles?" What did it mean? "Cyborg, was there anything different between the two missile reports?" "Yes, Slight detail differences on each description." "Tell me, I need to know." "Ok, so regarding the missile threat received at the Burnley station," Cyborg began. "It was written that there was an incoming missile, one that would arrive within the hour." "And the missile threat at the east station?" "That one simply read; a missile will be launched from the premises, all civilians be aware," Cyborg conveyed in full. "Sounds more like a launch point of a missile, rather than the target," Flash noted. "As a precaution everyone must have been evacuated out of the area until the situation is assessed thoroughly." "I'd imagine that much. Thanks Cyborg, you don't know how much your input is appreciated." "Flash, are you going to tell me what's going on?" "No time to explain, I'll get back to you when I can. Flash out." Everything he could possibly need to solve the mystery was now before him. The missile threat from the Burnley, the received threat from the east Gotham train station, and the detonator held in his grasp. The question was, how did it all tie together? … On the other side of Gotham Nightwing raised the notepad, opening it to discover what was on the first page. "Empty?" He flipped to the next page to find it empty as well. "Detective, it's me," Nightwing radioed. "Got an update on our notepad." "What is it?" Kogoro responded. "The notepad, it's empty." "What do you mean empty?" "There is nothing in-" Nightwing stopped. After reaching the final page of the notepad he came upon a line of print. "Hold on, we've got something." "What does it say?" Kogoro was anxious. "At my heart awaits the boom. Tomorrow will bring the light day of midnight," Nightwing read aloud. "Another riddle, wonderful." "So there are two parts to this one that we have to decipher." "For us to gain an understanding of the latter is to first determine the meaning of the first." "You're right," Nightwing agreed. "At my heart awaits the boom. 'Heart', that is the centurial part to this riddle. But what is its meaning?" "That seems pretty obvious don't you think?" "What do you mean?" "What is it to be dark, while also being connected to light? What has a tail, face, and nothing more? Find the grounds that hold the likeness of all sides," Kogoro said in reference to the initial riddle. "You seemed certain that whatever brought you to that police headquarters was what the Riddler wanted us to find. So perhaps whatever we need to-" "You're right detective Mouri, that's it!" Nightwing lowered the notepad before turning his sights to what had led him here. "The signal." Nightwing wasted no time in walking back over to the Bat Signal. "In my heart lies the boom." Nightwing leaned forward. Could this be the hiding place of what they sought? "Only one way to find out." Nightwing firmly gripped the sides of the signal, as he attempted to pull the top off he noticed something. "It's loose." After realizing this Nightwing pulled back with full force, watching as the top of the signal dropped to the ground. Kogoro could hear its loud thump from the other end of the communicator. "What's going on?" Nightwing's eyes shot wide upon what he came to discover. "Detective Mouri, you're not going to believe this." Kogoro braced himself for what was to come. "What is it?" "One of the bombs the Riddler planted, I'm looking at one of them," Nightwing informed. ….. In Japan "Almost there." That was the thought that raced through Conan's mind as he ran in pursuit of the tea house. Even with a destination determined, there was still one lingering question. What was he to look for upon his arrival? What could the Riddler have possibly left for him to find? The thought of Ran came to mind, he would not allow himself to fail. The tea house was in his line of sight in little time. "This is it." Not a moment later the wrist communicator alerted him of an incoming call. "Shinichi, have you reached the tea house?" Batman dispatched. "I can see it now," Conan happily conveyed. "I'll be at the front step in no-" Conan seized speaking upon spotting something. This was certainly something to inquire about. "What's going on down there?" Batman asked. Conan responded. "Up ahead, I see something." "What is it?" The closer he got the clearer it became. "It looks like a box.. it's covered by wrapping paper like a-" "A present?" Batman assumed. "That looks to be the case, yes." "Tell me what you're seeing. Every detail could amount to something." Conan kept that in mind as he closed in on the lone box that was about the size of a typical shoe box. Conan came to an immediate stop upon reaching the box. "I wonder what's inside?" The young detective was curious to say the least. The wrapping paper was green in color with a purple bow sitting on the top. As Conan moved in on the suspicious box he caught eye of something. "What's that there?" Upon further inspection he found that it was a silver colored envelope. "And so the trend of the silver envelope continues." Conan stripped the taped envelope from the box as he flipped it to the other side. His eyes lifted ever so slightly after finding that the envelope was addressed to Ran Mouri, beneath her name, tomorrow's date. His heart began to race, his fingers tingled even. There was one thing that seemed strange, the color of the print itself. "Indigo?" This was not in line with any of the previous silver envelopes he'd come to hold. What was to be made of this? The crease of the letters weren't completely straight, something which prompted Conan to trace a finger over each letter and number individually. "Texture.. the print is texturized." It almost felt like a paint of some kind. This was certainly questioning. Was there a deeper meaning to it? Investigating further Conan raised the envelope to his nose, sniffing it for a possible distinct scent. "Nothing." Conan lowered the envelope before flipping it to its backside. "Now to find out what's inside." Placing a finger onto the crease of the envelope Conan looked to find out what was sealed inside. The wrist communicator activated moments later. "Shinichi, what's the status of the box?" Batman asked. Holding the voice changing device to his lips Conan responded. "Attached to the box is an envelope, one that is silver in color like the previous ones." "And inside the envelope?" "I have yet to open it," Conan informed. "Though, there is something that could be of importance I discovered on the outside." When Batman didn't reply Conan continued on. "The print on the front of the envelope, every letter and number has texture to them." "Print?" Conan clarified. "The envelope was addressed to Ran Mouri. Directly under her name was tomorrow's date." "The texture you speak of.. how would you describe it?" "Paint," Conan replied as he thought of other possibilities. "Maybe even a thick pastel of some kind." Silence ensued. "Yo partner, you still there?" Conan radioed. "What about the box?" "The wrapping paper is green, with a purple bow on top. What's inside is still unknown," Conan replied. "Proceed." Conan couldn't agree anymore. "You got it." His first move was to open the envelope. He reached inside to come into contact with something. "What is this?" Pulling back Conan came to find a folded red slip of paper inside. Unexpectedly there was but a single word to be found in the center of the paper, one in gold print. "donG," Conan read. "Dong?" "The note inside the envelope, that's what it says," Conan reported. He then flipped the red colored paper to the opposite side to a message that read; "To where is my position in the house?" "…." It was clearly another riddle; one which he assumed was directly linked to what had yet to be discovered. The only thing that remained was for Conan to open the box. He believed this would be the true delivery of the Riddler's message to them. His first move was to remove the purple colored bow on top, ripping the green paper from the box directly after. It was during this process that he heard a sound from inside the box. "What was that?" It almost sounded instrumental. Once the paper had been removed completely Conan went on to tearing the box open to discover what was inside. What now sat before his eyes was not what he was expecting to find. "Knight," Conan radioed. "I now know what is inside the box." …. Somewhere else in the city Minutes had passed since the last announcement was made by the Riddler, so it came as no surprise when his face appeared on all television screens once again. "Back with an update for you my patient bystanders! I am happy to report that things are truly heating up in this game against time." Riddler didn't stop there. "In regards to our lovely participant's front and center it would seem some are draining out of time faster than others." Damian who was listening in on the broadcast himself did not know what to make of these comments. "What is that lunatic carrying on about now?" "First, with the most time remaining we have Gotham's proclaimed 'knight' and the lone horse chip in Tokyo. With the second most time remaining to them we have the Sleeping Kogoro bunch who have nearly just as much time as the former," Riddler informed. "Last, with only fifty eight seconds remaining before something goes Boom! We have ourselves the infamous Kaitou Kid and a certain speedster. No magic trick will prevent what is to soon occur. Prepare yourselves gentlemen and ladies alike; the end of this will bring about the closing to a prologue." Saying nothing more the transmission to the broadcast blacked out once again. There was immediate panic to be heard from the surrounding area. "Why is it Kid's group has less than a minute before their deadline is reached?" Damian wondered. "They should have just under six minutes remaining by my count." Something wasn't quite adding up. Pressure was mounting by the minute. "I need to find Nigma, and fast," declared Damian. It was something that wasn't going to come easy. Time was quickly running out. With everything he knew about the kidnapping of Ran Mouri, Damian still felt as if there was something he was missing, something he needed to solve the case. "Think.. what am I missing?" The entirety of what he knew ran through his mind, stemming from his first day arriving in Tokyo. Was there something they had not accounted for? Could it be that they had overlooked something? During this time of thought Damian's mind clicked. "Could it be?" There was one small detail that no one had really put much thought to. "That could be the key to finding where Nigma is keeping Mouri." There was not a moment to waste. Damian called the one person he believed would have the answer he sought. "Batman, can you hear me? There's something I need to ask you." Five silent seconds passed by. "Father?!" Damian dropped his hand from his right ear in frustration. "Why isn't he answering? Is the signal jammed.. or could it be something else?" Damian raised his head to the sky as if to search for answers, ones which he knew wouldn't come. "Just what is going on?" …. Midtown Tower Little by little people were finally beginning to clear out of the building. This night was no longer about apprehending Kaitou Kid, no. This night was now about 'THE Riddler'. "Sir, we've searched the entire premises," an officer reported. "All is clear. There were no explosives to be found." Inspector Ginzo sighed in relief. "Good, now we don't have to worry about anyone possibly tripping a wire and setting off an explosion. Everyone is now free to go." The officer standing before him bowed his head before looking to take off. "I'll give the word." Not a second later Jirokichi approached from behind. "What's going on now?" Ginzo faced him. "I have just received word that there is no a bombs located in this building. People will now be allowed to depart at their free will." "I see." "Everyone inside this building has been searched as well," Ginzo informed. "I can say without unreasonable doubt that Kid is no longer among us." This did not surprise Jirokichi in the slightest. "So then it's true huh? Kid is taking part in that Riddler character's game." "That seems to be the case, yes," replied Ginzo. "The Riddler has certainly caused uproar. He's got more than seventy percent of this cities law enforcement not only in search of him, but for the potential explosives he has claimed to have planted throughout Tokyo." "This crazed clown won't get away with this," Jirokichi stated. "You're right, he won't. I won't allow it, none of us will," Ginzo declared. Standing from a short distance away Haibara watched as everyone began to exit the room little by little. "It would be best if we left as well. There is no reason for us to remain here any longer." "Yay!" Ayumi yelled happily. "We finally get to leave!" "It's about time," said Mitsuhiko who was almost just as happy to learn this. He then looked up at Hiroshi who was in the process of placing his phone into his pocket. "Any luck getting a hold of Conan-kun?" Hiroshi nodded. "Oh yes, he met up with a relative who is visiting the city for the week," Hiroshi lied. "He's doing just fine. He's very busy, so I wasn't able to talk to him for long." "So that's why he ran off in such a hurry," Mitsuhiko figured. They too made their way toward the exit. It was during this time that Ayumi noticed the absence of a certain someone. "Hey, where is Damian-kun?" "Have you already forgotten, he said there was somewhere he needed to go," Genta reminded. "And since he hasn't come back yet, I guess whatever he left for must be important," Mitsuhiko assumed. "Come along," said Hiroshi who took charge in leading them out. "It's time to get all of you home. I imagine your parents will all be pleased to see you." "No kidding!" Mistsuhiko stated. "Since the first broadcast my mom has been checking in on me every other minute." "Mine too!" Ayumi yelled. "Let us not keep them waiting another minute," Hiroshi said. In little time they too found their way out past the doors. …. In Gotham The train continued to soar along the tracks at high speed. Everything needed for him to solve the equation of the unknown was all there. The evacuated stations, the two missile threats, an empty train, and a suspected detonator he held in hand. Less than a minute remained before time was to expire. Flash clutched his fists at the thought of it. "Think Barry think, how does it all link together?" The sound of his giggles came without warning. "Well, well, well, it would seem you've found yourself at a bit of a.. halt." Flash sourly spoke his name. "Riddler." "Tick, tick, tick inhales the fat lady. Lights.. camera, and action. All eyes are now upon her," Riddler continued on. "Tick, tick, tick. The fat lady will soon sing." "No one is going to die today," countered Flash. "Well, that all depends," the Riddler voiced with a change in tone. "Tell me, can you accept the weight of hundreds of lives hanging in the balance? Can you solve the riddle? Are you fast enough Flash?" The transmission between the two ended. There was no denying the affect behind the Riddler's words, it had irked him. He wanted to run as fast as he could in search of answers, but to what conclusion would that bring? "Flash-sama, you there?" Kaitou Kid dispatched. Raising the wrist device Flash replied. "I'm here. Listen, we're running out of time, we only have-" "Less than forty seconds, I know," Kaitou Kid said. "What I want to know is who you contacted with the service card." "A friend," Flash simply put. "What's important is the information I was able to obtain. I now know why this train is empty of any passengers and why the two train stations were evacuated." "Can't wait to hear this." "Two separate threats of a missile launch. So the missile threat received at the Burnley train station claimed there was an incoming missile, one that would arrive within the hour. The threat at the east station said a missile will be launched from the facility and that all civilians should be aware," Flash conveyed. "So besides the explosives we now have two potential missiles to account for. We better hurry and figure this out before all chaos erupts." "You can't be serious, does the Riddler truly intend to launch.. hold on." "What's wrong?" Flash enquired. "A riddle, that's all it is." Kaitou Kid seemed sure of this. "We are talking about the missiles, right?" "Yes," confirmed Kaitou Kid. "Think about, the way in which the bomb threats were described." "I don't quite follow," admitted Flash. Kaitou Kid took it a step back. "Admittedly I'm not much of a mystery solver, but look who we're dealing with, The Riddler," Kaitou Kid reminded. "I don't know him very well, but from what the bat said about him I'm willing to bet these missile threats are a hint to something more." Taking that possibility into account Flash began to try and piece it all together. "Ok, so we've got two empty Gotham stations, a single train traveling south from Burnley to the east station." Flash then opened the palm of his hand to spot the item in hand. "And last, a detonator." "I say we focus on the missile threats," Kaitou Kid said. "I'm thinking that will be the key to reeling everything together." "Burnley, there is to be an incoming missile," Flash began. "East Station, a missile will be launched from the facility," Kaitou Kid added. Flash blinked an eye as he began to pace in place. "I don't know about you, but it almost seems as if they're directly linked somehow, almost as if there is a hidden.. hold on." "You got something?" Kaitou Kid was hopeful. "An incoming missile, a missile that is to be launched.. Kaitou Kid, I think I know what the riddle is referring to," Flash replied. "The missile isn't a missile at all, the train, this train is the missile! If I were to take a guess I'd say one of the bombs has been planted on this train somewhere." "What, are you sure?" Kaitou Kid wasn't completely convinced. "How do you figure?" "Think about. This train is traveling from Burnley to the East Gotham train station, the train launched from one facility and can be looked at as incoming to the other," Flash explained. "And we both know once this train reaches the East station our time will be up." "There is just one problem with that analogy. The missile threat at Burnley like you said is the one that claimed a missile would be incoming, but we both know the train is traveling from Burnley to the East Gotham train station," Kaitou Kid reminded. Flash was bummed out. "Darn, you're right." It was only at that second that it clicked to Kid's mind. "No wait, you might actually be right," Kaitou Kid retracted. "What, really?" "I just remembered, Batman kept stressing the theme of the Riddler's game, a mirrored deception," Kaitou Kid recalled. "Meaning that whatever appears to be true in hindsight could very well mean the opposite. The missile threats that the Riddler sent to each of the train stations, there was a reason each of them were worded in the way that they were, their chosen locations even." Not a moment later the pair could hear the sound of clapping pumping through their wrist communicators. "Well done Flash and Kaitou Fraud. You have determined where and what the missile is," Riddler radioed. The deduced was now confirmed. "Above you Flash, in one of the overhead bins throughout the entire train is a single bomb, one that will soon explode with the power to wipe out an entire city block. How will you choose to stop it? Oh, and before you try anything irrational, I should let you know opening any of the overhead bins will trigger the bomb to explode immediately.. oh, and you have only fifteen seconds before the deadline is reached. Tah tah!" The Riddler's laughter could be heard as his voice faded. Flash looked out the window on the right, the East Gotham train station was now in the clear. The pressure was now in full force. "Now what?!" Flash's heart was racing as fast as it had since they had begun. "Flash-sama, I've got an idea," Kaitou Kid said. "Hurry and get to the cockpit of that train." Turning around Flash raced toward the front of the train, vibrating his molecules to bypass the door to the control room. "I'm in," Flash radioed. "What did you have in mind?" "Wow, that was fast." Kaitou Kid was impressed. "Look, the theme of this entire challenge has been a-" "Mirrored deception, I know. Why did you want me to come to the cockpit?!" "I was thinking, what if we were to set the train in reverse? That would be the opposite of-" "Of moving forward. Kid, you're a genius!" Flash complimented. His faith however would soon disperse into flames. Upon looking down he came to find that the entire control panel had been destroyed, sitting on top was a sticky note with a green colored question mark. "Damn! He was one step ahead!" When Flash didn't speak again Kaitou Kid radioed once more. "We've only got six seconds remaining. Flash-sama, what's going on?" He received nothing in response. Fear began to flow within. "Flash… Flash!" ….. Elsewhere in Gotham Nightwing still couldn't believe his eyes, had he truly come to find one of the explosives that the Riddler had planted? All he needed to do was disarm the bomb. Was that all that remained, was it that simple? "Hartwell-san, Hartwell-san!" Kogoro spoke. There was almost an excitement to hear in his voice. "Are you seeing this?!" "Care to feel me in on what I should be seeing?" "The timer on my wrist band has completely stopped, is that the case for you?" Kogoro asked. Glancing down Nightwing found that the same applied to his wrist device. "You're right, the timer on mine has stopped as well," Nightwing informed. "But what does it mean?" The voice of another weighed in on their situation. "It simply means a job well done." Nightwing's eyes squinted upon hearing him speak. "Riddler.." "Congratulations to the both of you, you two have successfully completed my challenge within the given deadline," Riddler informed. "Are you serious?" Nightwing questioned. "It can't be!" yelled Kogoro. "I was expecting you two to be far more delighted with this delivery of news, relived even," Riddler admitted. "Just let it be known that your involvement in these proceedings has reached its climax. Until next time, gentlemen." "What do you mean until next time?" Kogoro questioned. "What about my daughter? Have you released her?!" The Riddler did not respond. "Hey, HEY!" Kogoro exclaimed. "It's no use detective," Nightwing said. "The Riddler disconnected his line." "What about Ran? We need to find her!" "And I have no doubt that we will," Nightwing said assured by this. "Though, don't you feel.. I don't know, unsettled?" "Unsettled?" "This whole thing, the challenge.. it almost felt too easy," Nightwing finally let out. He rested his chin atop his left fist. "For Riddler's standards, this isn't quite adding up." "Whether it makes sense or not is irrelevant. Our focus now should be locating my daughter," Kogoro stated. "Hold on detective," said Nightwing. "I've got an incoming call, I'll get back to you in a minute." Nightwing then went on to activate the communications device in his ear. "This is your captain speaking, how may I be of service?" "Grayson, it's me." "Damian?" "Listen, there is something I need to ask," Damian began. "I tried contacting Batman but was unable to get ahold of him." "No doubt it is because he's caught up in Riddler's game," Nightwing figured. "What do you need?" "While the rest of you are locked in a game of chess against the Riddler I have since switched my focus to finding the girl." "You mean Ran Mouri?" "I've hit somewhat of a wall with my investigation." "And you believe I possess some super top end information that you need?" "I was told that after Detective Mouri initially found out about his daughter's kidnapping that he went in search of her, and in the process of doing so he came across her cell phone at a bus stop." Nightwing was uncertain where he was going with this. "And?" "Father said the detective found the phone stashed in between the pages of a magazine," Damian continued. "What I need to know is what kind of magazine was it." "What kind?" Nightwing was confused. "Why would you need to know something like that, I doubt that would.. then again, this is the Riddler we're dealing with." "Do you know what kind contents were within the magazine?" "I don't, but I know someone who does," Nightwing replied. "Gimmie a sec. I gotcha." "Your timer starts now Grayson," declared Damian. "And here I thought I was done with deadlines for the day," Nightwing said. Following this he reactivated the wrist communicator. "Detective Mouri, it's me. You still there?" "Where else would I be?" Kogoro replied. Nightwing managed a smile. "Listen, there's something I need to ask. Something that may help us pin point where the Riddler is keeping your daughter." Kogoro couldn't be any more pleased to hear this. "What is it? What do you need to know?" "Earlier today you came across your daughter's cell phone at a bus stop, correct?" "Yah, that's right," confirmed Kogoro. "What about that?" "The magazine you found the phone in between, what kind of magazine was it?" "If I can recall I beli.. wait, hold on a second," Kogoro stated. "How do you know about the situation pertaining to my daughter? Let alone about me discovering her phone? Just who are you?" "No time to explain. Let's just say I know someone who wants to help," Nightwing said in response. "Time is of the essence detective, I need to know what kind of magazine it was that you found your daughter's phone hidden within." Kogoro took those next moments to rehash just that. "If I'm not mistaken the magazine was from a company known as 'Travelway'. That's what I remember seeing on the front cover." "Travelway?" Nightwing had never heard of such a company. "What do you know about Travelway detective?" "Next to nothing," replied Kogoro. "Today was the first I'd ever seen the name." "I see." "So what does this Travelway have to do with finding Ran?" "That's what I'm hoping to find out," Nightwing answered. "I'm going to have to let you go detective. I promise I'll get back to you when I have an update for you." The line between the two was cut following Nightwing's final words. "So the question is," he said with a pause. "What is Travelway?" …. In Japan "A bell?" "That's right," Conan confirmed. "A silver colored bell with a gold ribbon attached to it. Any guess to what is symbolizes?" "Silver, gold, and indigo," Batman wondered. Was there something relevant to the three colors within the confines of the Riddler's riddle? This very thought flowed through Conan's mind as well. "So, what are you thinking?" Conan asked. "The bell," Batman began. "What kind is it?" Conan looked over the bell closely. Upon inspecting it he was certain of its type. "It's a sleigh bell," Conan conveyed. "Do you believe there is some relevance to that?" ".. Maybe." "There is also the note which was inside the envelope attached to the box," Conan brought up once more. "One side read 'donG'." "While the opposite side's message was; 'To where is my position in the house?" Batman completed. "Are we in agreement that the note and bell coincide with one another?" "Yes, but to what degree?" Conan was unsure of what to make of this remark. "What are you trying to say? That there may be further meaning to the note that doesn't pertain to the bell?" "Both the bell and note alike," Batman clarified. "While I believe the two share a link to solving the riddle, I also believe the two represent something larger in Riddler's game on their own merits." Conan glanced down at the device attached to his wrist. "Whatever that may be we've got four minutes and fifty six seconds to figure it out before the Riddler sets off one of those explosives." It was now time to crack the case. "Just what could the bell be signifying? The previous riddle that lead us to this point said we would find we sought once we got here. Is the bell the sought prize? Or could it be that we're missing something?" "Dong.. To where is my position in the house?" Batman's focus was on the note that had been sealed within the envelope. "The key to this riddle is the house." "I was thinking the same," Conan agreed. "But what could it be? What house is it that the Riddler is referring?" "Which indeed." ….. In the streets of Japan "Travelway?" "That's what detective Mouri said," Nightwing dispatched. "I've never heard of it." "That makes the three of us," Nightwing noted. "Mouri himself didn't seem all that familiar with the name." "T..T." "Is there anything else I can do to help with your mission?" "As far as I'm concerned I can handle things moving forward," replied Damian. "Any further assistance is not required." "Loud and clear, I'll leave it all to you. Nightwing out." It was now up to him. "Travelway," Damian spoke. Could this be the key to determining the whereabouts of Ran? Damian was now ready to conduct a search. "Let's see what I can find on this Travelway." He reached down, now with a digital device in hand he ran a quick search of 'Travelway'. The immediate results were quite insightful. "By air, ground, or water. Travelway is the way to go," Damian read. It was now clear what Travelway was. "So, Travelway is a company that offers traveling services." Damian lowered the digital device as his mind reverted back to the task at hand. "But how does a company of this kind factor into the mystery of the Riddler's challenge?" Damian began to move in a circular path. Where was the Riddler? Where was Ran? Were the two of them at the same location? He needed to find out, and it needed to be soon. "It's all in the riddle. I need to piece everything together." There was only one way to do so, starting from the beginning. "Adam, Goliath.. enemies in this game of chess." He then drew focus to the first riddle. "The silver blade placed into your chest I pull out into creation of Gold. Come tomorrow's fall of dawn the Gold shall flow with waves towards its destination of multiply. Bring to me the Light of whose hands are unclean to which he touches. Midnight's deadline waits at the Eye and Hand overlooking all," Damian read. "That was the initial riddle, and also the basis for every riddle that followed." Then was the second point in the timeline to account for. "A day after having Nigma visit him at his agency Mouri received a package, one addressed to him that was clearly sent by Nigma," Damian continued. "Inside were a number of photo's, all of which were of his daughter, Ran." This brought him to the phone and magazine. "After receiving the photos it was clear to Detective Mouri that his daughter was the target from the beginning. After setting out in search of Ran, detective Mouri discovered her phone at a bus stop," Damian noted. "Travelway, the magazine brand the phone was hidden between." "Morning, day, and night. Are you able to name three consecutive days without using the words; Sunday, Saturday, Friday, Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, or Monday? Those were the Riddler's initial words to father when they first spoke. No doubt it is a riddle hinting at something, but what?" Damian stood in silence as he contemplated on the matter further. Damian pressed on to the next point soon after. "The biggest hint we have about Ran's whereabouts is what Nigma hinted in regards to her current status," Damian said. "Tomorrow she could be in several places. Today she floats a stream of the moment. Yesterday, you'll have to flip it all around to make any sense of that. If I can decipher the meaning of this part of the riddle everything else should fall right in place." Damian was certain of this. There was only one riddle that remained. "A single finger? How about two? Double provides for a two way route, in turn allowing an additional option." Two way route.. an additional option? Everything was beginning to unfold into clarity. "Could it be that the Riddler was referring directly to Ran and himself with that line?" The panic from bystanders traveled through the air, accompanied by the police sirens that seemingly traveled in all directions. Damian blocked it all from his mind. If he was to solve this there could be no distractions. His mind remained focused on the last riddle. 'Double provides for a two way route, in turn allowing an additional option'. "Two way route.. additional option." Damian paused. "Two, additional.. both equate to double. Meaning that there is more than a single location I need to find. Nigma and Ran must not be at the same location." Damian was certain of this. It was now time to determine the where. He looked through all the gathered material once more, of everything he held there didn't appear to be anything that blatantly hinted at the Riddler's location. "Hold on, I might have something." Damian drew attention to yet another line that had been spoken by the Riddler. "Today she floats a stream of the moment. The key word is moment, which means now," Damian noted. "The question is, what is the significance behind floats and.." Damian stopped in mid-sentence. He felt as if he was coming onto something. "Float, stream.. a river! Could it be that Ran is currently floating along a river, or possibly even lake somewhere?" The last thing he wanted to do was jump to conclusion. Damian surveyed over all clues once again. It was the first of the lot that drew in his focus. "The silver blade placed into your chest I pull out into creation of Gold. Come tomorrow's fall of dawn the Gold shall flow with waves towards its destination of multiply." It was the second line in particular that he deemed relevant. "The gold that will flow with the waves towards its destination of multiply, could the gold referenced in this part of the riddle be referring to Ran?" Damian was beginning to link each of the riddles together. "Come tomorrow's fall of dawn the Gold shall flow with waves towards its destination of multiply, today she floats a stream of the moment.. then there is the Travelway magazine. It all must be linked in some way." Taking all of this into account there was another question that arose. "Let's say I give into the possibility the Mouri girl is in fact flowing down a river somewhere, where could the Riddler be. If my hunch is right, then I should be able to narrow down the possibilities for where Nigma is." If Ran was truly traveling down a river, where? Damian's focus turned to the other that he sought to find. "While I may not entirely know where the Riddler is, I do know he is on the move. The theme of this challenge has been a mirrored misdirection, as father explained. So if I am to take that into account, perhaps the location for where the Riddler is located is opposite of where Ran is. The opposite of water level would be." Damian looked up toward the sky. Realization came over him in an instant. "How did I not figure it out sooner?!" … Back on the rooftop Kaitou Kid stood in absolute panic. Five seconds remained, four.. three.. two. He closed his eyes before the timer could hit one, bracing himself for an explosion he suspected would soon erupt. His heart couldn't be pounding any faster, feeling as a hot streak of sweat ran down the back of his neck. Two seconds passed, then five. Nothing happened. Kaitou Kid slowly opened his eyes, taking a deep breath his eyes dropped down to the device on his wrist. What he saw left him almost speechless. ".027," Kaitou Kid read. That was the time on display on the device, a time which showed no signs of changing. "What's going on, did the inner clock freeze or something?" Not a moment later after questioning this the wrist device began to beep, alerting him of an incoming call. "Kaitou Kid, it's me." "Flash?" "It's over, mission complete," Flash reported. "We did it." There was a sigh of relief, one followed by an explosion of exciting team accomplishment. "What, really?" Kaitou Kid found it hard to believe. "Yeahhaeeeaaahh!" After calming himself Kaitou Kid went on to ask the obvious. "Was that the key, getting the train to go in reverse?" "It was," Flash confirmed. "How were you able to get it to go in reverse?" Kaitou Kid asked. "Did you set it in reverse while you were in the control room?" "Riddler destroyed the control panel, so I had to find another means for getting the train to go in reverse." "This I gotta hear?" "A little over fifteen miles away from where the train was, I traveled to a facility that gives people the ability to command the trains electronically through a signal," Flash conveyed. "Once I came upon the situation in the control room I immediately exited the train and-" "So you're telling me you traveled over fifteen miles in under like ten seconds to reach that facility?!" Kaitou Kid was speechless. "Well, I am the fastest man alive," Flash reminded. "So the stories I've heard about you are true." "What about the others? Have they completed their assigned challenges?" Before Kid had the opportunity to respond the voice of another joined in on the conversation. "Well done, if there was a pair I was expecting to fail in this act before the beginning, it was you two." There was no mistaking who it was. "So, what's the end plan Question Mark Man?" Kaitou Kid asked. "First off, you'd be best served to fine tune your insults," Riddler replied. "And to answer your question, your involvement in this chapter is complete." "What do you mean by complete?" questioned Flash. "Until next time." Those were the Riddler's closing comments to the two. It was now just the two of them. "So, that's it?" It all felt so underwhelming in his mind. "Knowing the Riddler, I highly doubt it," replied Flash. "Either way, how are things looking from your end? Have Batman and Detective Mouri completed their challenges?" Kaitou Kid took the time to glance over at the other two who occupied the same roof as himself. "Detective Mouri appears to still be worried. Regardless of the possibility of he and the person he is teamed successfully completing their challenge, I wouldn't expect him to showcase anything different. At least not until his daughter is safe," Kaitou Kid replied who then looked in the direction of Batman. "Can't say much for Mr. Sunshine. Since we first crossed I haven't seen his expression change. He's got the ultimate poker face if I've ever seen one." "That's Batman for you," Flash said voicing a full understanding. "So what happens now?" "What happens now? We wait." ….. Rikugien Garden The question remained unanswered, the house? What was the house mentioned in the riddle? Did it pertain to the Riddler's or Ran's location? The possibility of that was front and center in Conan's mind. "We now have three minutes and twelve seconds before time runs out," Conan pointed out. "Our progress has been minimal. It almost feels like we're-" "Missing something," Batman completed. He was in full agreement. "There must be something. Think back. On your way to the tea house did you hear or come across anything that could be deemed out of the ordinary? Perhaps there was something you saw that you felt could be related to the challenge?" Conan took a few seconds to rehash his trip prior to reaching this point. "Well outside of the doors to the garden seemingly opening on their own when I arrived I wouldn't say there has been anything unusu-" Conan stopped in mid thought. "What is it?" Batman enquired "The silver envelope I discovered attached to the entrance doors to Rikugien," Conan began. "The note I found inside read; 'Ding Dong'." "No doubt referencing a doorbell," Batman figured. "Exactly. After reading those words out loud the entrance doors opened," Conan informed. Batman was beginning to catch on with where he was going with this. "To where is my position in the house?" Batman repeated. "Shinichi listen, you need to get out of there along with the bell." "What?" "The note you found by the entrance coupled in with the one you found attached to the box when read together is; Ding Dong, dong, to where is my position in the house?" Batman ran down. Conan realized the truth behind the mystery in that moment as well. Holding up the bell that sat in the palm of his hand a grin appeared on his face. "I understand now," Conan said. "A bell's position isn't within a house, but rather outside of it. The house linked to this riddle is the Rikugien Garden itself, which means the key to completing this challenge is to get this bell back to the entrance." "Exactly." "It took me over four minutes to reach this point," said Conan who looked down to find the time remaining to them. "We have far less than that." "Then you better hurry," Batman said. "There's no time for further conversation, get out of there." "You won't have to tell me twice." There was nothing more that needed to be said, the task was clear, a race against time to the finish line. …. Gotham With the assistance of Detective Mouri, Nightwing was successful in accomplishing the challenge that had been given to them. Nightwing had since left the GCPD headquarters and was now on his way to Wayne Manor. "I haven't heard from Batman or the Flash, I hope they.." Nightwing paused. "No, they will pull through. There is no doubt about it." Nightwing picked up in speed as he launched himself to another rooftop. Upon touching down he received a call. He came to an immediate stop before taking the call. "This is your captain speaking, how may I help you?" It was Damian. There was a rising rush to be heard within his voice, exhaust even. "Grayson listen, huha.. I know where the Mouri girl is," Damian dispatched in between breaths. "Where are you? Are you close to a computer? I.. I need you to look into something." "Woh, slow down," Nightwing said in response. "Wait.. you know where Ran Mouri is?" "I'll have her to safety in no time," Damian all but confirmed. "That's not what's important, or rather what I need your help with." Nightwing grinned. "You asking for a favor?" "Do you want to catch the Riddler or not?" "What do you need?" "So after determining the connection between the Riddler and Mouri's whereabouts, I was able to pin point both of their locations," Damin explained. "All which I was able to figure from each of the hints and riddles dropped by Nigma." "How do you mean?" "Mirrored misdirection, or in this case, their locations are mirrored of one another, opposites," Damian revealed. "One in the sky, the other by water." "What? Are you certain of this?" "Double provides for a two way route, in turn allowing an additional option. The Riddler was referring to not only Mouri location, but his as well." Damian continued. "Then there is the remark that the Riddler had about the Mouri girl; 'Today she floats a stream of the moment', which to me hints at a lake or river." "That's a bit of a stretch," Nightwing stated. "Are you sure you want to go full force into something without an absolute certainty?" "The magazine Detective Mouri found his daughter the phone hidden between, Travelway. I took the liberty of checking out their website." "And?" "There were ten places that were being heavily promoted on the front page of the site for tourist attractions, and of the ten do you know which place was featured from Tokyo? That would be the Edo River," Damian conveyed. "And you believe that is where Ran Mouri is?" How can you be certain that is where she is and not Riddler?" "Take the time to really think about it Grayson. Nigma needed a way of observing Batman, Kaitou Kid, and Detective Mouri all while this is going down, to make sure they complied with the rules of his game," Damian noted. "What do you think is more convenient for keeping a close eye on someone? From below? Or from above?" "Well, when you put it that way.." "This leads to my next point. Of any day, why did the Riddler choose to spring this game of his tonight? Why not yesterday, why not tomorrow?" "And you have the answer?" "It's simple, opportunity." Nightwing didn't quite follow. "Opportunity?" "The Riddler needed a way of being able to oversee everything going on upon his games beginning. That's why he chose tonight, because this is the night Kaitou Kid was to pull one of his scheduled heists, and everyone knows when Kid is to put on a show there will be lights, cameras, security guards, and above all." Damian paused. "Helicopters." Everything became clear in that one moment. "Nigma high jacked a helicopter, brilliant! That would also explain why you were unable to get a clean lock onto the Riddler's signal earlier," Nightwing realized. "Not only was he on the move, but also a great distance above. Have you relayed any of this to Batman?" "That would be unwise," Damian replied. "I imagine Nigma is keeping close tabs on him and the other two. Any attempt at contacting him about this could result in the Riddler learning that we are aware of his location." "In short taking away the element of surprise in regards to apprehending him," Nightwing said. "So, what exactly is it you need me to look into?" "I have a feeling that there is an odd helicopter among the bunch, possibly one that might not even be authorized to be flying at the moment." "That would be a bullseye for the helicopter the Riddler is occupying," Nightwing stated. "I'm on my way to the cave now, I'll contact Alfred and let him know about the situation. We'll definitely find out which helicopter the Riddler is currently in control of." "I'm holding you to that Grayson." "You just make sure you keep up your end of the deal and bring Ran Mouri home safely," Nightwing countered. "-TT-" With neither having anything else to add the transmission between the two came to an end. Nightwing took a deep breath as he looked to the sky. "And so the final act begins." To Be Continued
  13. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 20 Connecting the Dots The Riddler's voice had come and gone once more. And just like previous attempts Damian had failed to get a distinct lock on the location for where Riddler was broadcasting from. "There must be another way," Damian declared. "This method for trying to track Nigma is proving to be ineffective. I need to find a way to spring him out into the open.. but how?" His entire mindset completely shifted. In his mind taking a proactive approach as opposed to a reactive one would be the fastest way to determining Riddler's location. ….. Hiroshi held the phone close to his ear. He moved back and forth in a secluded area of the gallery. The tune of the ring played clearly in his ear, fading as it had the past four attempts. With no success Hiroshi placed the phone back into his pocket. "Still no luck in getting in contact with him," Hiroshi stated. "Of course not," said Haibara. She did not seem surprised by this development in the least. Hiroshi was curious as to why. "What are you trying to say? That you know why Shinichi hasn't contacted us back?" "I believe I do," replied Haibara. There was an assurance to be heard within her voice. "One of the communicator devices the Riddler spoke of in his initial broadcast, I'm certain Shinichi found the one located here." "You really believe so?" Haibara nodded. "I do." There was no mistaking it. "He must be locked in the challenge Riddler keeps speaking of." "You're right." Hiroshi now felt enlightened. "That in itself would prevent him, or at least keep him from being able to respond at this time." "There's no telling how long this will drag on for." "There must be something we can do to help," Hiroshi said. "There isn't much we can do with the limited information we have," replied Haibara. "For now all we can do is wait." Hiroshi smiled. "He'll pull through. He always does." …. Nightwing placed a hand above his eyes, shielding his view from the brightness of the sun. "What is it to be dark, while also being connected to light? What has a tail, face, and nothing more? Find the grounds that hold the likeness of all sides," spoke Nightwing aloud. "We both agree the location we need to find is in Gotham," radioed Kogoro. "I'm not particularly familiar with Gotham if I am to be honest." "Understandable." "Perhaps you'll be able to determine the location after we have pieced it all together," Kogoro said. "We've already determined the meaning of the riddle at face value, what each element represents." "All that is left to do is apply it to a location we need to find," Nightwing concluded. "Our biggest hint in the riddle is darkness intertwined with light." "How do you figure?" "I see it this way," Kogoro began. "The location we're looking for will be considered in high regard by most, possibly even well known. On the flip side, it will be a place that holds a darker side, something secretive.. something your average tourist would not be aware of." "Tying directly with the yin/yang and two sides of a coin point we agreed on," said Nightwing. "You know, you might just be onto something." "Is there any place in Gotham you can think of that could fall in line with the described?" "Nothing at the top of my head comes to mind," admitted Nightwing. The former boy wonder raised a hand to his chin. He thought hard on the matter. Many possibilities came to mind, all of which lacked a distinctive or notable importance to the city itself. Nightwing was certain whatever it was Riddler was hinting at would be a location of importance. Over four minutes had passed since they last heard from the Riddler, meaning only six minutes remained. "Wherever it is, I better figure it out. Time is fading, and fast." … In another part of Gotham Flash had since stopped running. To decode the mystery was to break it down piece by piece. "My heat runs to serve all. My voice can be heard from behind, from below, even from above. What am I?" The words of the given riddle looped in his mind over and over. "Yo, Flash," Kaitou Kid dispatched. "About the first line of the riddle, what do you think 'heat' is representing in this case?" Flash replied. "I believe the heat in this case is directly referencing the location we need to find," Flash noted. "A location that is seemingly everywhere, that is if we take the riddle at face value." "Runs to serve all." "What was that?" Flash asked. "That is the line directly following the mention of 'heat'," Kaitou Kid responded. "A line which I feel we have overlooked. It could very well be the key to determining where the mystery location is." Flash came to a complete stop in that moment. "There are two parts of that sentence to breakdown." "Runs," Kaitou Kid began. "Run like the wind, as they say." "To serve all," Flash completed. "Runs.. that could very well be implying the location we need to find is possibly one that is moving?" It was now starting to come together. "My voice can be heard from behind, from below, even from above," repeated Flash in reference to the second half of the riddle. "That part of the riddle seems to back that possibility. If you can be heard from below one moment, behind another, and above the next then it would stand to reason the location we're looking for is in fact one that is moving!" "To serve all," said Kaitou Kid. "That's the key to unlocking the what and where. What could it be that is moving that serves all? Any ideas?" Flash's mind ran through several possibilities, all while remembering everything Riddler had said to them in his last message. The speedster's eyes widened after recalling Riddler's closing statement. "I've got it!" exclaimed Flash. Kaitou Kid was pleased to hear this. "Please do share?" "May luck come to your stop," Flash conveyed in response. "That was the last thing the Riddler said before cutting off communication." "I remember?" "What runs to serve all that comes to your stop?" questioned Flash. "The answer, a train." "So the riddle was hinting at a train," Kaitou Kid realized. "Any idea where this supposed train is located?" "The Gotham Rail." Flash was certain of this. "Kaitou Kid, do I have your consent in going to-" "Gotham Rail it is." Nothing more needed to be said. The agreement was clear. Flash took off, wasting not another moment. …. In Japan He stood silently in the west corner of the building he stood atop. How much time had passed since the challenge was issued? Three minutes? Five? The riddles content surfed through his conscious with every passing moment. 'To find me is to pass the hills and bridges. I am a goddess, I am a lord. My beauty mark of 2071 is matched by few. In my heart lies what you seek'. What was it? What grounds held the mystery of the riddle? His thoughts would soon be interrupted. "Knight, can I ask you something?" "What is it?" "2071,what does it mean to you? As I noted earlier, I believe it is hinting at a coordinance to the location we need to find." Batman gave some thought to it himself. "Maybe.." Something hit him in that moment. "That's right." "What's right?" Everything was slowly coming together. "From the beginning the theme of Riddler's game has been a mirrored misdirection and time. This is no different." Conan was curious as to what was meant by this. "I'm open for elaboration." "2071, a mirrored reflection gives us 1702. A number which I believe does not refer to a particular coordinance, but rather time," explained Batman. "Time as in?" "A year," replied Batman. "The year 1702. The location we need to find I believe is tied directly to that year in some important way." "You might be onto something." "To find me is to pass the hills and bridges." "Hills... Bridges." "I am a goddess, I am a lord," Batman continued. "Could it be that the location we seek is viewed in high regard?" "My beauty mark of 2071, or rather 1702 is matched by.. hold on." Conan paused. Had he figured something out? Batman wanted to know. "What is it detective?" "Hills and bridges, a goddess.. a lord. A beauty mark of the year 1702." Conan couldn't be any more certain. "That has to be it, Rikugien Garden!" "Rikugien Garden, established in the Edo Period on the date of 1702," said Batman. "You're more informed than I would have thought." "Rikugien Garden certainly falls in line with all of the details of the riddle." "So, are we in agreement that Rikugien is the location that needs to be investigated?" asked Conan. "You have my permission to proceed." "That's all I needed to hear," said Conan. "Though there is one problem, Rikugien is closed off to the public. Viewing hours are from nine a.m. to five." "And that will stop you from entering?" "Well.. of course not." "Remember, 'In my heart lies what you seek', which means whatever the Riddler wants us to find will be somewhere near the center of the garden." "My thoughts exactly." "One final thing, once you've reached the premises of Rikugien, stay alert," Batman stated. "There's no telling if the Riddler set up any kind of traps. I certainly wouldn't put it past him." "I'll keep that in mind." "We've gone over all necessary details. Now go," Batman instructed. "We have less than seven minutes before the deadline is reached." Nothing more needed to be said. Not wasting another moment Conan leaped aboard his skateboard before soaring off into the direction of Rikugien Garden. ….. Kogoro and Nightwing were the only two who had yet to determine the location for where their riddle was pointing. "What is it to be dark, while also being connected to light? What has a tail, face, and nothing more? Find the grounds that hold the likeness of all sides," Kogoro said aloud. "Come on Hartwell-san, you must have an idea to where the Riddler is referring to?" "Before we can figure that out, we still need to determine what grounds the Riddler is referencing in the riddle," replied Nightwing. "It is clearly something specific. That there is where the problem lies." "How do you mean?" Kogoro asked. "To put it short, there are a number a possibilities," replied Nightwing. "There has to be something.. maybe something Riddler said earlier that could give us a further hint to the location." "Or perhaps you're only focusing on the eye instead of the entire face," replied Kogoro. "Excuse me?" "What I am trying to say is." Kogoro paused. "Perhaps you're looking for a specific detail in a painting, instead of looking at it in its entirety. Maybe the riddle isn't referring to a specific location, but rather Gotham City as a whole?" Nightwing took his words into account. Silence fell between the two for many seconds. "Hey, Hartwell-san," Kogoro radioed. "You still there?" Realization kicked in at that moment. "That's it!" Nightwing chanted. "Detective Mouri, you're a genius!" "I.. I am?" "I now know the location for where the riddle was referring to. I need to get to the Gotham City Police Department," Nightwing conveyed. "Do I have your permission to make my move?" "Wooh woh, slow down," Kogoro said. "Aren't you going to tell me how you got to your conclusion?" "I'll explain in time," Nightwing promised. "Please Mouri, we don't have much time." "You better be right." There was uncertainty heard in his voice. "Is that a yes?" "You have my consent." Nightwing was pleased to hear this. "Cool. I won't let you down. Hartwell out." Kogoro stood in silence in his corner of the rooftop. He looked upward to spot the number of helicopters that continued to search the city. All he could do now was wait. … Where was the Riddler? Where was Ran Mouri? That was the question of the hour, and also his mission to determine. "If I am not able to track the Riddler electronically then I'll have to find another way." How to proceed, that was the question that resided on Damian's mind as he advanced down the street. If he couldn't track the Riddler, then perhaps he could tempt him out of hiding? Something like that would be farfetched. It was now time for a new approach, one that could lead to finding Riddler. "The investigator's daughter." Could it be that Ran Mouri was the key to finding the Riddler? Damian stopped in his tracks. "Sometimes reaching the sought subject is not to take the direct approach," Damian stated. "I want to find Nigma, perhaps if I focus my efforts on finding the girl she'll lead me right to him." Directly following this Damian reached into his pocket, pulling out an electronic device. "Father sent me all the information detailing Mouri's disappearance." He proceeded to turning on the device. "It all began when Nigma visited detective Mouri's office yesterday, presenting himself as a client. He claimed the daughter of his friend, 'Adam', had been kidnapped. He didn't name the kidnapper, simply referring to them as Goliath." He looked over the next line of information. "The silver blade placed into your chest I pull out into creation of Gold. Come tomorrow's fall of dawn the Gold shall flow with waves towards its destination of multiply. Bring to me the Light of whose hands are unclean to which he touches. Midnight's deadline waits at the Eye and Hand overlooking all," Damian read out loud. "That is the riddle that Nigma left with detective Mouri before leaving his agency. The riddle was sealed in a silver envelope, I wonder if there is any significance to that?" There was certainly something to consider in that regard. "Fast forward to a day later, detective Mouri receives a package, one addressed to him from Eddy. No way could he have ever anticipated that the contents inside would feature photos of his own daughter," said Damian. "That marked the reveal behind Eddy's true motive for visiting the Mouri residence. There's also the fact Nigma left Ran's phone for her father to find, at a bust stop under a magazine.." The question arose again, was there any relevance to that fact? Even with all he had, he didn't feel it was enough. It felt as if there were still pieces to the puzzle missing. "There has to be more. There must be something father forgot to mention." In his mind there wasn't enough to build off of. He did the only thing he could think to do in a situation of uncertainty. "Batman?" Damian radioed. Seconds of silence passed before he received a response. "Now isn't the time Robin, I'm in the middle of-" "Father, listen. I'm having troubles locking onto the signal the Riddler is using to broadcast his messages," relayed Damian. "Upon my investigation I have come to find that wherever Nigma is closed up isn't in one particular spot." "On the move?" "That seems to be the case," replied Damian. "Since I have been having troubles, I have since turned my investigation elsewhere. Instead of tracking the Riddler electronically I'm going to try finding him by tracking the girl." "Ran Mouri." "I have looked over all of the information you forwarded to me." "And?" "I don't feel there is enough here to really be able to pin point where the Riddler might have taken her," replied Damian. "We know how Nigma operates, in between conversations he likes to drop subtle hints about the given challenge." "I didn't hear a question?" "In the past twenty minutes or so surely he has graced you with his words of challenge?" Damian asked. "There must be something he said, something that could give us a hint to where he is keeping Mouri?" Batman replied. "Morning, day, and night. Are you able to name three consecutive days without using the words; Sunday, Saturday, Friday, Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, or Monday?" Damian was confused by the given. "What?" "Those were Nigma's initial words to me when we first spoke," Batman clarified. "I answered with 'Yesterday, today, and tomorrow." "And his response?" "He said I was wrong," replied Batman. "Whether those words have any bearing to where he is keeping Ran Mouri is another question in itself. At one point I asked the Riddler where he was keeping her, to which he replied by saying it depended on the time." "Time?" "Tomorrow she could be in several places. Today she floats a stream of the moment. Yesterday, you'll have to flip it all around to make any sense of that," Batman ran down. ".. Interesting." "There was one final thing the Riddler said that was rather telling. A single finger? How about two? Double provides for a two way route, in turn allowing an additional option," Batman relayed. "Those were Nigma's words in response to Mouri telling the Riddler not to lay a finger on his daughter." "That would seem to imply something deeper," Damian agreed. "And you're certain there wasn't anything additional that Riddler said that could be looked upon as a riddle to the girl's whereabouts?" "No, there wasn't." Batman was confident in declaring so. "Well in that case, I will commence with my investigation." It was clear what needed to happen next. Their connection seized moments later. Did he now have all of the necessary pieces? If so the only thing that remained, putting the puzzle together. … In Gotham Seconds was all it took for the Flash to make his way to the Gotham Rail. To his surprise there was no one to be found at the station in the waiting room. It was odd, especially given the time of day. He then came to find no staff members present. Was it coincidence? Or had the Riddler set it up to where everything would fall in this order? Wasting no time Flash began searching the area. First was the several chairs and select number of benches. Nothing turned up. He then proceeded to look behind trash cans and search the few flower pots that were present. Again, there was nothing noteworthy that came to eye. It wasn't long after that his wrist communicator began to ring. "Yo Flash," Kaitou Kid radioed. "Have you arrived at the Gotham Rail?" "I have," confirmed Flash. "I've searched the entire area, but.." "You haven't found anything," Kaitou Kid figured. Flash continued to walk in search. "There has to be something, I'm certain the riddle was referring to.. hold on." "What is it?" Kaitou Kid asked. "May luck come to your stop… what if the Riddler was referring to the train itself and not the station?" "You could be right." "Kid. I need you to do me a favor." "I'm all ears Flash-sama," replied Kaitou Kid. "Do you currently have access to something you can use to find out the current train schedule for the Gotham Rail at the east end of the city? Perhaps a mobile device of some kind? If the Riddler is referring to one of the trains, I need to find out which one is linked to the riddle. Also, I want you to look into what could have possibly warranted no one showing up to this train station today. There are no staff members here, nor anyone looking to travel." "Almost sounds like a horror flick. Not to worry," assured the Kid thief. "I have just the thing." "Whatever you're planning, you better make it fast. Every minute that passes brings us one step closer to-" "Twenty seconds," Kaitou Kid declared. "That's all I need." "Counting now," remarked Flash in response. Every passing second felt like two. The tension couldn't be any higher. What would this challenge lead to? Was the train the final stage? "Hey, I've pulled up the Gotham train schedule," Kaitou Kid announced. "That took longer than twenty seconds." "Twenty eight to be exact, but that's beside the point." "So, what are we looking at?" "You're currently at the east Gotham train station. The last train to pass through there was over twenty minutes ago," Kaitou Kid conveyed. "When is the next train scheduled to arrive here?" "There are actually two that will be passing through there in the next forty five minutes," informed Kid. "The first is traveling in from a place called Burnley." "I know of it, that train is traveling from the south region of Gotham. And the second?" "Otisburg," Kaitou Kid replied. "North/West," Flash noted. "Kid, when are each of those trains scheduled to arrive here at the east station?" "The one from Otisburg won't be there for another scheduled forty two minutes." "And the train traveling from Burnley?" "Given the current time." Kaitou Kid paused. "It should be there in less than seven minutes." Flash then checked the timer on the communicator device that continued to clock down. "We also have just under seven minutes before the deadline is reached," Flash noted. "Could it be..?" "Yes." Flash was in full agreement. "The moment that train arrives at this station will mark the end of our time limit." "Then you're going to have to get to that train before it arrives. Is that doable Flash?" "Of course," Flash said as a grin found way to his face. Moving forward Flash dropped down to the tracks below. "Don't forget, I'm the fastest man alive." "I'm going to hold you to that." "Kid, what about the fact that there aren't any staff members working at the station today? Were you able to find anything?" "Whatever is going on in that regard is a mystery," replied Kaitou Kid. "I was unable to find any information concerning that matter using a simple web search. Sorry partner." "Not a big deal, I'll get back to you soon. Flash out." The dynamics of the mission was now clear, board the train before it could arrive at the station. Flash didn't waste a moment. He took off with an explosion of speed. A mere second was all it took before the train came into view. "Here we are." Now within feet of the train Flash launched himself up as he went on to vibrate all of his molecules, allowing him to pass through the outer walls of the train. Once inside his eyes widened. What he came to find was not something he was expecting to. "Empty?" There was not a single person to be found on the train. This was unsettling. "First there was no one present at the east Gotham train station, and now this? This can't be a coincidence." Flash was certain of this. "Is the Riddler behind this?" If so, was it relevant to the challenge? That was something that had to be considered. Instead of choosing to advance Flash activated the communicator device in his ear. "Flash to Justice League, can anyone hear me?" When no one responded he tried for a second time. "This is Flash, does anyone-" "No, no, no! Bad Flash! You know that is not how this game works." Flash immediately recognized the voice. "Riddler." "You know the rules, you can't reach out to anyone in this game outside of your chosen shepherd," Riddler reminded. "Unless.. unless you would like to use a certain card? Service card number one?" The Riddler chuckled at the thought of it. "You blocked my signal," Flash stated. "Not so much blocked as intercepted," Riddler corrected. Anticipation began to boil in his voice. "Let's not beat around the bush Flash. What is your decision? Will you use a service card or will you opt not to?" Should he use a service card? Flash was still uncertain of why no one was at the train station, nor why no one was aboard this train. There had to be some significance to this, right? Was the wager of losing time worth it? Flash's fists tightened, knowing whatever he was to decide needed to happen soon, they were losing time with every moment that passed. "Riddler, I.. I have decided I would like to use service card one," Flash hesitantly conveyed. Riddler was intrigued. "Is that your final answer? You haven't forgotten service card number one decreases your time by five minutes?" "A minute is all I need," replied Flash with a bold of confidence. "Very well." Riddler found himself humored with the decision "You're remaining time drops from six minutes and twenty two seconds, to only a minute and.. now twenty seconds. Good luck, contestant." The train immediately increased in speed, confirming that when this train reached the station his time would be up. Flash wasted no time in trying to make the desired call. "Flash to Justice League, this is an emergency." A few silent filled seconds passed before the voice of another was heard. "Loud and clear Flash, Cyborg here." Flash sighed in relief. "Couldn't have hoped for anyone better." "What seems to be the problem?" Cyborg enquired. "I don't have time to explain at the moment, I will when I get the chance. Right now there's something I need you to look into for me," Flash said. "There's a situation I'm caught up in here in Gotham City." "Gotham?" Cyborg questioned. "Sounds like something you should take up with Batm-" "Batman has his hands full at the moment, to put it simply," Flash informed. "We're both tangled in a dance if you will, but that's beside the point." It was clear they were dealing with some kind of disturbance. Knowing this Cyborg jumped straight to the point. "How can I be of assistance?" "The train station located in east Gotham, there was no one there when I just departed. There was no one in the waiting area, not even any staff members working the counter. It was almost as if the place had completely been abandoned." "That certainly is strange." "There is also a train that departed from Burnly Gotham which I have just boarded that is en route to the East Gotham train station. Like the station, this train is empty." "And let me guess, you want me to look into what could be the cause?" "I'd sure appreciate it," Flash replied. "You can count on me," Cyborg said in response. "It'll only take me a minute." "We don't have a minute." Cyborg could hear the urgency in his voice. "Give me twenty five seconds." "I'll be here." Conversation seized. What was to happen next was clear in his mind. "It's time to search this train." If this was truly the location that the riddle was referring to, then there would have to be something on board for him to find? Flash began his journey down the aisle of the train, looking from one side of the train to the other as he did. It wasn't until he made it halfway through that he caught eye of something sitting in one of the empty seats. "What's that?" Stepping toward the left Flash came upon a brief case. "Did someone accidently leave this behind, or could it be..?" There was only one way to find out. Leaning forward Flash reached for the silver colored briefcase. Now in hand he flipped it over to the other side to bring eye to a green colored question mark. "The Riddler," murmured Flash. This briefcase was clearly meant for him to find. What was inside was anyone's guess. He began to open it. His heart was now racing. In the matter of a second he pulled it open. What he came to find left him speechless. "Is this.. is this a detonator?" …. Somewhere else in Gotham Its words played through his mind several times over. 'What is it to be dark, while also being connected to light? What has a tail, face, and nothing more? Find the grounds that hold the likeness of all sides'. What was the answer to the riddle? It was now as clear as the sun gazing on from far above. Closing in on the edge of the building Nightwing picked up in speed as he prepared to launch himself to the next. "The GCPD headquarters, of course," Nightwing thought to himself. "It's not the headquarters itself the Riddler was pointing to in the riddle, but rather what resides on top of it." Nightwing went airborne, swiftly touching down to the next building. Raising his arm he checked the wrist communicator to find that exactly five minutes remained before the deadline would be reached. "There's no doubt about it, what the Riddler was referring to in the riddle is the bat signal." Nightwing was positive of this. "Being connected to light, while also the dark. Light is what the signal represents, symbolizes.. one bedded in the darkness and secrets of this city." Nightwing took aim with grappler as he looked to latch onto a building across the way. "The grounds that hold the likeness of all, I see it now; it was never referring to a specific location. No, the riddle was referring to the entire city." Nightwing took flight, swinging to the top of another rooftop. "In a way the bat signal represents what Gotham is, a never ending shift in balance between good and evil. Riddler must view Gotham in that light." Nightwing placed a hand above his eyes to block the view of the sun. "There," Nightwing pointed. "The GCPD headquarters is now in view." It was after speaking this that his wrist communicator began vibrating. Nightwing activated the moment it did. "This is everyone's favorite sheep speaking, how may I be of service?" "Hartwell-san, are you almost at the headquarters you spoke of?" Kogoro asked. "Roger that cap'n, it's in view now," informed Nightwing. "I'll be there in no time." Kogoro was relieved to hear this. "So you get to that police headquarters, what happens next?" "We'll just have to wait and see," Nightwing replied before dropping off from the edge of the building. Now in free fall he tightly gripped his hook-line as he proceeded to take aim. "Perfect." Once more he used the grappler to propel himself onward, welcoming the cooling wall of air that blew in defiance of his path. With one final swing Nightwing soared onto the top of the police headquarters. "Detective," Nightwing radioed. "I'm in position." "Good to know we're making some progress," replied Kogoro. "So tell me, what are you seeing? What exactly is there that lead you to believe that is the location the Riddler was referring to in our written challenge?" "Gimmie a sec. I'll know for sure after I check something out." Nightwing's attention fell to what stood on the opposite end of the roof. "Now for the moment of truth." Nightwing hurried along, knowing every coming second was just as important as the last. The bat signal was reached in short time. It was here that he came to have his hunch completely rewarded. "I knew it!" There sitting atop the signal itself was a small silver colored notepad, one which had a green question mark attached to the center. "Detective Mouri, we've got something." "What is it?" Kogoro was anxious to know. Nightwing reached forward. Now with the notepad in hand he responded. "Why don't we find out?" …. Back in Japan All the pieces he needed were now in hand. The only thing that remained was to put it all together. "This will be a piece of cake," Damian declared. There were two things he needed to determine, the Riddler's location, and the whereabouts of Ran Mouri. "I doubt Nigma has the girl with him. He wouldn't make it that easy." The question now became who to track first? Could their locations be connected in some way? That was something else he had yet to confirm. "There is one line in particular that has sparked my interest. 'Come tomorrow's fall of dawn the Gold shall flow with waves towards its destination of multiply'." Damian thought long and hard on that particular line. "If we are to believe that the Riddler is truly on the move, could this perhaps be a hint to where he is going?" It was certainly a mystery. His mind then reverted to something else of notability. "A single finger? How about two? Double provides for a two way route, in turn allowing an additional option." Those words that had been relayed from Batman played back in his mind several times over. "That could also be something the Riddler said as a means of giving a hint of his or Mouri's location. Could it be tied to the riddle in some way?" He began walking once again. "Morning, day, and night.. the two main themes of Nigma's challenge is misdirection and time," Damian noted. He took some time to consider both elements. "Could it be that they're intertwined somehow? Maybe the Riddler and Mouri's location are dependent on what the time is. Then there's the mirrored meanings behind the majority of the riddles that have come our way thus far. Is it a possibility Nigma and Ran's current locations mirror one another?" It was a stretch, the possibility was certainly there. Damian's mind then channeled to something else the Riddler had said to Batman. "Tomorrow she could be in several places. Today she floats a stream of the moment. Yesterday, you'll have to flip it all around to make any sense of that." What was the meaning behind his words? Had the Riddler been speaking in literal terms, or were his words of symbolic meaning? That was something else Damian felt he needed to figure out. "One could argue that I have everything I need to track the Riddler. Why then does it feel like there is still something I am missing?" ….. Several blocks away Luckily for Conan the Rikugien Garden was only a couple blocks away from where he had been prior to the made deduction. "Shinichi, are you almost there?" Batman asked. "Rikugien is now in view," Conan confirmed. "Remember, you need to get to the center of the exhibit," Batman reminded. "Whatever the Riddler wants us to find will be there somewhere." "Loud and clear." The entrance to the garden itself was closed off as expected. This presented a problem. "How am I supposed to get in?" Upon reaching the towering doors blocking his path Conan came to a complete stop. How was he to get in? As that thought ran through his mind something caught his attention. "Huh? What's that?" Stepping away from his skate board Conan walked toward the entrance doors. There pinned on the center was a silver envelope with a green question mark on it. There was no mistaking it, this was left here for him to find. Grabbing hold of the envelope Conan ripped it open to find a note inside which he read out loud. "Ding, dong." The moments those words were spoken the doors to the garden began to slowly open. Conan took a step back. "Is someone there?" The doors came to a stop soon after. Now with an opening Conan stepped forward, pressing on with caution. Once past the doors he came to find there was no one there. How did the doors open without someone doing it? He was now more alert than ever. Now in the premises of Rikugien Garden, Conan held the voice changing bowtie over his lips before reporting his progress. "I'm in." "Don't forget what we discussed. Stay alert." "Right. There's no telling what the Riddler has in store." "You better get moving. Five minutes give or take before the deadline is reached." Conan understood that fact just as well. He moved forward, stopping after hearing the swing of a tree branch off to the right. "Anybody there?" The only response that came was that of a cool breeze brushing pass the side of his face. "It.. it was just the wind." Conan turned on the flash light attached to his watch. Given the time of day, he was going to need it to keep a clear path. He couldn't help but wonder about the circumstances of the others taking part in this challenge. "I wonder how Kid and the old man are faring. No way any of us will be able to live this down if we fail." By the second Conan made his way deeper and deeper into the exhibit. He marveled at the beautiful sights of the many different trees, looking on in awe at the view of the moons ray tracing the tops of the lake. Without even realizing he became lost within the moment. It was the ring of the communicator that jarred him back into the game. "Shinichi, where are you now?" Conan stopped before flashing his light to observe the surrounding area. Now with the bowtie in position he spoke. "I can't say for sure." "There is something I wanted to address, what we need to address." Batman's words came as a bit of a surprise. "And what might that be?" "The last line of our given riddle; In my heart lies what you seek," Batman noted. "We both came to an agreement that the heart is the center of the garden." "Yes." "There is just one thing wrong with that idea," Batman said. "What does the Riddler consider to be the starting and ending point of the Rikugien?" Conan didn't quite follow. "What are you trying to say?" "Since we last spoke I have since looked over a map of Rikugien Garden," Batman relayed. "Depending on what side of the perimeter you're looking at, the center of Rikugien varies." His point was now clear. "I see. So the center of Rikugien Garden is dependent on what one would consider the face of Rikugien." "And given that we don't know what that would be in Riddler's mind-" "In my heart lies what you seek must be referring to something other than the center of the garden," Conan realized. "Exactly," Batman said. "We need to figure out what that is." "And fast, we have less than.." Conn abruptly stopped. "What is wrong?" "That's it!" stated Conan. "Tell me?" Conan did just that. "Outside of the garden itself Rikugien is also widely known for the Green Matcha Tea that gets served here." "Where?" "A tea house," Conan replied as he spun his head toward the right. "The shop itself is about two minutes from here. Do I have your permission to-" "We don't have time to debate otherwise. Go," Batman said voicing his acceptance. "Loud and clear." And with that Conan took off. Could it be? Was the tea house where the challenges end awaited? He would soon find out. To Be Continued
  14. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 19 Ding! It Begins Relaying an understanding, that is what Batman hoped to accomplish with his words. Time was of the essence, there was not a second to spare in his mind. "So essentially the Riddler's ultimate goal isn't something he seeks to obtain, but rather a thrill of a challenge? One in which he hopes to prove his superiority over all involved?" "In short, yes," Batman confirmed. Shinichi was now beginning to gain an understanding for the man whom they now faced. "There's something I want to ask you." ".. What is it?" "Of us all you're the most familiar with the Riddler," Shinichi noted. "Then you must have an idea for where he is right?" "I don't," Batman responded. "At least not yet. Finding the Riddler's location is part of the game in his eyes." "Go figure." "While I may not know the exact location, I know he's near." Batman was certain of this. "He'll be watching us all closely." "One does have to question though." "What's that?" "The whole plot to get the three of you together, setting up the broadcasts to where he can't immediately be pin pointed, the setup of the explosives even," Shinichi ran down. "What of it?" "Just how much time did the Riddler have to put all of this into motion?" Shinich wondered. "How long has he been planning the events leading to this night?" "I've found myself questioning the same. But that is not something we should ponder on right now." "You're right," Shinichi agreed. "We need to complete the challenge and find Riddler at all costs." That very fact was something neither could deny. Without either announcing an end to their discussion, all talk seized. Not a second more the sound of someone approaching from his blind side was heard. As expected it was Kaitou Kid and Detective Mouri. "The Riddler said he would be contacting us back within ten minutes," Kaitou Kid reminded. "I thought it be wise if we held one last therapy session before that happens." "…" Kaitou Kid looked him deep in the eyes. "You know this man better than anyone here. Tell us Mr. Batman, what is the Riddler planning to have us do?" Staring back into his eyes with just as much intent Batman responded. "I don't know." ….. On the streets below A pickup truck trailed by, following in its path was a red colored minivan. Several vehicles came and gone. The question was, which one was Edward Nigma traveling in? That was the task Damian now faced, figuring out just that. "I have to narrow the search down somehow." This would be imperative if he was to find Riddler. "If there's one thing I know about Nigma is that he's bound to drop a riddle about his whereabouts at some point. It's in his blood." That moment the possibility came to mind. What if Riddler had already sent a secret riddle hinting about where he was? Had Damian missed it? "Eventually Nigma will make another announcement, and when he does I'll be sure to close the gap." … Midtown Tower Jack now paced back and forth a distance away from everyone else in the room. He too had listened in on Riddler's broadcast just minutes prior. Several things circulated through his mind at that time. Above all, he had yet to receive word from other members of the Royal Flush Gang concerning their mission. "The timing couldn't have been any less convenient. The riddle man and the bat himself," Jack pondered in thought. "What could have possibly been triggered to bring the both of them here to Tokyo, Japan of all places?" Then there was the fact the Royal Flush Gang had their eyes set on the renowned Kaitou Kid, an interest that was revealed to be shared by the Riddler as well. The circumstances couldn't be any more intriguing in his mind. A ring in his left ear informing him of an incoming call was all it took to scatter his thoughts. "It's me," said Jack who took the immediate call. "There has been a change in plans," Queen spoke from the opposite end. Jack grinned. "Oh, please do share." ….. In Gotham Nightwing stood in between two statues overlooking the city as he waited. Placing a hand just above his eyes Nightwing looked into the direction of the sun which was partially covered by a pair of fluffy clouds. He was not used to suiting up this early in the day, but given the circumstances his presence was needed. The sounds of sirens rang loudly from far below, his eyes tracing every patrol car that traveled by. Given the raise in activity within the last ten minutes there was no doubt that Riddler's announcement had set off a trigger of sorts. Through it all there was one question that resided on his mind since all of this had begun, why? What was the point in intertwining Gotham and Tokyo in on his latest scheme? What was the Riddler hoping to accomplish? There was still so much left unanswered. Unexpectedly his ear communicator began to vibrate. Nightwing wasted no time in taking the call. "This is your captain speaking," Nightwing conveyed. "Grayson." "Robin," Nightwing said upon hearing his voice. This came as a surprise. "I take it you were the one to find the Riddler's final communication device?" "I was not," Damian sourly admitted. "What?! Someone found it before you?" This was most unexpected. "If you weren't the one who retrieved it, then who?" "Don't know, don't care." Nightwing grinned. "If I didn't know any better I'd say you're a little bitter." "Hmph," grunted Damian. Choosing not to dwell on the topic any further he switched the subject "Listen, there's something important I need to run by you." "Talk to me." "I was able to latch onto Nigma's signal for a short time the last time he broadcasted one of his messages. The problem was even when I did I could not maintain the connection." "What do you mean only for a short time?" "I have a theory," Damian began. "The reason I wasn't able to maintain connection is because Nigma's on the move. He must be broadcasting from a moving vehicle of some kind." "Brilliant," remarked Nightwing. "Any leads to what or where that vehicle might be?" "Not yet," Damian replied. "But that's only part of the reason why I called. I was thinking, what if the signal I've been trying to hone in on is a decoy?" "What are you trying to say?" "Father believes Nigma is stationed here in Tokyo somewhere," Damian noted. "But what if that's what Riddler wants us to believe? And in reality he is in-" "Gotham," Nightwing figured. "So what's your point?" "The next time Nigma makes one of his little announcements I want you to see if you can pin point a potential signal." "Gotcha." Nightwing fully understood. "Have you told Batman about any of this?" "There's no need," Damian replied. "He and I are here, while you're clear across the globe. I can handle things concerning this matter from my end." "Even so, I think it would be best if we let Batman in on this information as well," argued Nightwing. "Perhaps. Robin out." And with that communications were cut. Nightwing gazed down at the roads yet again. With a new knowledge in mind he looked over every passing automobile with a new intent in mind. "Could it be? Could the Riddler really be here in Gotham somewhere?" … Tokyo Batman had since rejoined Kaitou Kid and Kogoro near the center of the rooftop. Kid stared into the distance, taking eye of one of the helicopters that patrolled. "Over seven minutes have passed since the last we heard from our host," Kaitou Kid noted. "It won't be long now." Batman placed a hand on his chin. "Something doesn't make sense." Kogoro looked over at him. "What are you talking about?" "This whole thing, stemming from the beginning when you received that riddle back at your agency. Every riddle leading to this point has had a mirrored or misdirect meaning," Batman ran down. "I don't follow," Kaitou Kid admitted. "What are you getting at?" "The subjects for tonight's show are Tokyo and Gotham, both of which are located on opposite sides of the globe. Riddler made it to where two of us are paired with others located in Gotham," Batman explained. "In simple terms, a mirrored collaboration will be needed in the trials to come." "What's the point you're trying to make?" Kogoro asked. Batman pointed to the black colored device on his wrist. "The person I am linked to is here in Tokyo as well," Batman reminded. "You're right," Kaitou Kid realized. "That doesn't exactly fit the mold." "So what of it?" questioned Kogoro. "Do you think there is more to it? Maybe even some kind of hidden message the Riddler left for us to decode?" "… Maybe." Batman wasn't completely sure himself. This was not a coincidence. Batman knew there was a reason why the Riddler had set things up this way. The question was, why? It fell completely out of line with everything else. No more than ten seconds passed before each of their communicators began to produce a sound of static, followed by a voice all too familiar. "Hello contestants! Sorry to keep you waiting!" "If it isn't the man of the hour," Kaitou Kid remarked. "I know you're all so anxious to get started. So why don't I tell you how this is going to work, aye?" "Let's hear it," Kogoro said. "This is how it's going to be, so strap those handy listening caps on tightly," Riddler stated. With that he began. "The trio of chosen ones will act as a voice, one which contributes to the actions of their very own extensions." "And that's supposed to mean what exactly?" questioned Kaitou Kid. "Another riddle, wonderful," Flash commented from his end. "Oh, but it's not. I'm being clear as a hawk overseeing the stream of a river," Riddler said in response. "Well forgive us for not understanding your delivered clarity," Kogoro stated. "Why don't you elaborate for us all?" "The trio of chosen, Riddler is clearly referring to us," Batman said looking over the two who stood next to him. "We'll act as a voice that will contribute to the actions of our named extensions. The extensions being the three other participants linked to us through our communicators." "And the detective does it again!" shouted Riddler with glee. "I don't quite get it," Kaitou Kid admitted. "The whole bit about our voices contributing to the actions of the people we're paired with." "Allow me," said Riddler who was hoping to bring clarification for all who were uncertain. "Magician, Investigator, and Knight, your roles are simple. For this challenge the three of you will remain on the roof you stand upon now." This was unexpected. "What's that?" "It is as I said Kid Thief. You along with the other two who make up the three shepereds will remain where you are," Riddler reiterated. "Each of you will stand in separate corners of that roof. You the magician have been assigned the south corner, investigator the east, while the west corner of that building falls to the knight himself." "He's still choosing not to address them by name," Shinichi noted in mind. "Is there a reason for that?" "What about the north corner?" Kogoro asked. "Why.. what a marvelous question!" Riddler exclaimed. "But one must ask. Does the emptiness of the north corner hold any significance? Or is it nothing more than a flash in the pan?" "Well?" The tone in Riddlers voice changed. "Well investigator, that is for you to determine." "What about the rest of us?" Flash questioned. "So is our role simply doing what we're told by-" "Slow down Flash," Riddler interrupted. "Relax yourself. I was just about to get to that. Here's how it is going to work. Each of you as a pair will be given a separate challenge. One piece to a larger puzzle." "Sounds like fun," Kaitou Kid said. "I noted before Kid thief you and the two standing before you are the shepherds. Which now brings us to the sheep," Riddler said. "The sheep?" Flash questioned. "That's right Flash," Riddler said in response. "You along with our two other guest entrants are the sheep." "Not sure how I feel about that," Nightwing said. "We're the shepherd, they're the sheep." Kogoro gathered that much. "What's it supposed to mean?" "Come on. Surely the great detective of Japan can figure that out," Riddler stated. "Set the shepherd to round up the sheep," Kaitou Kid remarked. "I think I get it Riddler-guy. Like a shepherd rounding up a herd of sheep to wherever they choose, similar will apply here with our communicate mates we've been linked to." "Perhaps you aren't overrated after all," confirmed Riddler. "Furthermore the sheep also have a say in what happens as well. We'll call it a collaboration of ears and eyes. A challenge cannot be successfully completed without the efforts of both parties involved. However, a sheep may not under any condition act on their own will or hunch without the direct order or approval of the shepherd." "Loud and clear." "Now unless any of you have anything additional to inquire, shall we begin?" When no one responded the Riddler continued. "Alright shepherds, I'm going to ask that you all take to your assigned corners." It was now time. Batman looked to the two standing beside him for a final time. "Remember what we discussed." Kogoro nodded while Kaitou Kid proceeded to give him the thumbs up. Kaitou Kid quickly made his way to the south corner of the roof, while Kogoro walked toward the east. This left Batman who capped it off by finding position in the west corner. The question now became, what was going to happen next? Of the three proclaimed shepherds, Kogoro was the first to receive a call. "Hello investigator, to you as well former sheep wonder," dispatched Riddler. "You two will be the first." Kogoro clutched his fists while doing his best to hold in all emotion. "Let's hear it. What's the challenge?" Riddler replied. "What is it to be dark, while also being connected to light? What has a tail, face, and nothing more? Find the grounds that hold the likeness of all sides." "What? I don't understand." "Your challenge is set. I will now start the ten minute countdown." Riddler chuckled. "Good luck, Mouri." … Gotham City Flash now stood in the confines of a narrow ally leaned against a stone wall. He eased forward after hearing the approach of someone who happened to be passing by. "Little bit early for Halloween wouldn't you say?" a man in a purple colored cap questioned before moving on. Not long after the civilian's departure, the communicator on Flash's wrist began to ring, the sound of the Riddler's voice was heard soon after. "Arguably the greatest thief alive and the fastest man alive," Riddler stated. "What a promising combination." Flash was ready to begin. "So, what do you have in line for us?" "My heat runs to serve all. My voice can be heard from behind, from below, even from above," the Riddler conveyed. "Who am I?" "I don't get it," said Kaitou Kid. "What's the challenge?" "My dear lad, it has been given," Riddler replied. "Your ten minute countdown begins now. May luck come to your stop." The transmission between the three ended in that moment. … Tokyo, Japan Batman stood with his left foot pinned atop the edge of the building. He waited patiently for the call he knew would soon come. Everything he had learned to this point, every word that Riddler spoke played back in his mind. The ringing tune of the communicator came soon as expected. "Well, well. Saving the best for last," Riddler said. "Tell me Dark Knight, wouldn't you say this is a great night to finally surcome to the fact that I am better than you in all forms of the imagination?" "What's the challenge Nigma?" asked Batman getting straight to the point. "Skipping the tease of a tasty appetizer to move onto the main course," Riddler remarked. "I had not realized you were so desperate to bring about your defeat." Riddler wanted nothing more than to push him to the edge of brink. When Batman didn't respond Riddler continued. "Very well, here is a map to the location for where your first challenge will begin," said Riddler. "To find me is to pass the hills and bridges. I am a goddess, I am a lord. My beauty mark of 2071 is matched by few. In my heart lies what you seek." Batman cemented every spoken word. "Your move, detective," Riddler conveyed. "Oh, and did I mention you only have ten minutes to complete the task? If you fail, kaboom! I get to set off one of those marvelous explosives! Now let the world truly see whom is the best." Feeling his point had been made Riddler cut off communication. All three challenges were now underway. The only question that remained, would they succeed? … The Streets Below The search to find the Riddler was now in full force. It wasn't just the occasional patrol car that drove past. Now walking the sidewalks was an increased number of police officers. "They'll stop at nothing to find him." There was no doubt about that. The same was felt by Damian who patiently awaited Riddler's next broadcast. There wasn't much he could do until then. Damian looked into the direction of a large screen TV attached to the side of a building. "What's taking you Nigma?" Not soon after speaking those words the Riddler's face reappeared on many televisions throughout the city. "Ladies.. gentlemen, the game has now begun!" Riddler announced. The opportunity had now come. "Now's my chance," Damian said. As he had before, Damian attempted to lock onto the signal being emitted. "The hour to come will bring not only the greatest tension these two great cities have ever experienced as one, but an unmatched excitement!" Riddler truly believed this in his mind. "Listen on as I bring you live updates on the progress of our contestants." The hunt was now on, on more fronts than one. Damian began to walk once again as he tried to lock onto the signal once again. His objective was clear. Find the Riddler. ….. On the rooftop "What is it to be dark, while also being connected to light? What has a tail, face, and nothing more? Find the grounds that hold the likeness of all sides." Kogoro spoke the riddle given to them word for word. "But what does it mean?" "It's clearly hinting at a location. Wherever it is, we have less than nine minutes to figure that out," dispatched Nightwing. "I never did catch your name. Who are you anyway?" Kogoro asked. "Oh me," Nightwing laughed lightly as he thought of something on the fly. "Detective. Call me Detective Hartwell." "Just my luck huh? It's fortunate another detective found the communicator linked to my own," Kogoro said. "Who do you work for anyway?" "Private Eye for the GCPD. But that beside the point," said Nightwing. "Trading information about our employers isn't going to solve the challenge that has been presented to us." "You're right, my apologies. So tell me, what are your thoughts on the challenge Hartwell-san?" "There are three separate parts to the riddle," Nightwing noted. "The first thing we need to determine how each are linked together." "What has a tail, face, and nothing more? That is the center piece of the riddle," Kogoro pointed out. "I believe what is being referred to is two sides to a coin." "Agreed." "Further reinforcing this; what is it to be dark, while also being connected to light? Yin and Yang, light in the presence of darkness," Kogoro continued. "Two interconnected forces of dualities, same as that of two sides of a coin. Separate, yet as one." "You live up to your name Sleeping Kogoro," Nightwing complimented. "So you have heard of me?" "Find the grounds that hold the likeness of all sides. That's the part of the riddle that is still unanswered," Nightwing said. "I believe this also to be the part hinting at the location we need to find. Given that you're the shepherd and I'm the sheep, I think it's safe to assume the place of interest is somewhere in Gotham." "If that's the case, we better get started," Kogoro shed an eye over his watch.. "We only have eight minutes left before our given deadline." … Gotham City Since their challenge had been given to them Flash now ran up and down the streets, trying to pin point anything that could be related to the riddle that had been relayed to them. "Anything yet?" Kaitou Kid radioed. "Nothing in particular," replied Flash who zipped past a pickup truck. "My heat runs to serve all. My voice can be heard from behind, from below, even from above. What am I?" Kaitou Kid said in reference to the riddle. "I don't know about you, but it almost sounds like this riddle is hinting at some kind of entity that is, well.. everywhere." "That's what it sounds like," agreed Flash who looked from left to right as he continued to run. "But what could it possibly be?" Flash stopped after reaching a light pole. He placed a hand over his eyes to block out the brightness of the sun as he peered across the road. "Any ideas?" "I've circled the entire city five times in all in the past half-minute, I have not a clue as to what the riddle is hinting at," Flash admitted. "We better figure it out soon," Kaitou Kid said. "Because if we don't, lives will be lost." That was the frustrating part. "Yes.. I know." ….. Tokyo, Japan After finding a secluded spot behind a phone booth Conan finally stopped. Holding the voice altering bowtie in hand he proceeded to speak. "Sorry about that, had a run in with a couple who needed directions to the local hair salon. What do you say we crack this thing now?" "To find me is to pass the hills and bridges. I am a goddess, I am a lord. My beauty mark of 2071 is matched by few. In my heart lies what you seek," Batman ran down. "That is the riddle given to us in full." "The last line of the riddle holds the least importance to figuring out where the hidden location is," Conan voiced. "In my heart lies what you seek. I believe once we determine the location, that final piece will come into play later in the challenge." "On the flip side the portion of the riddle that read; 'My beauty mark of 2071 is matched by few', could be the most telling," Batman believed. "Beauty and 2071 being the key components." Conan couldn't agree anymore. "The question is, what do they represent? Beauty mark.. could it be referring to a land mark considered in high regard?" several possibilities ran through his mind. "Then there is 2071. Is it hinting at a coordinance perhaps? Time even?" "Riddler also mentioned a goddess, a lord," Batman reminded. "To have an audience with the spoken is to first bypass the hills and bridges. Everything is closely tied together in some coordinated way." Conan leaned his head against the glass wall of the phone booth as he looked up at the night sky as if to look for an answer he knew would not come. "Whatever it is, we have less than ten minutes to find out. People's lives are depending on us." The pressure was now on. It was now time to deliver. To Be Continued
  15. Chapter 18 Stage Set Had someone other than Robin truly found the final communicator? This was certainly an unexpected turn of events. Detective.. Kudo, Shinichi. The name played back in his mind several times over. Batman was certain he had not heard the name prior to this moment. The question now became; 'Who is Shinichi Kudo?' His inner thoughts would however be cut off by an all too familiar voice. "Well, well, well. It would seem everyone is connected. Stage one complete!" Riddler radioed. "I just know you're all so, so anxious for the real challenge to begin, yes?" When no one responded Riddler laughed. "Speechless with anticipation no doubt," Riddler concluded. "A shared sentiment, if I should say so myself. All will be well once the world opens its eyes to the true, unchallengeable, undisputed, greatest mind on this planet." "If you're done with the self-gratifying speech of yours, I wouldn't be alone in saying that we would all like to hear the details of this challenge of yours," Flash dispatched from his end. "Patience, that will come soon enough," Riddler assured. "But first, there's an announcement I need to make to the audience. Stay tuned!" Those final words brought the end of the transmission. "What an interesting character, this Riddler," Kaitou Kid remarked. "Now what?" questioned Kogoro. Not a moment later a vibration came to Batman's ear, alerting him of an incoming call. This prompted him to stray away from the pair once again. Seeing this Kogoro crossed his arms across his chest. "And once again our bat friend here chooses to stroll off." "I'm sure he has his reasons," Kaitou Kid said in response. Once Batman was a safe distance away from the pair he took the call. "Father, we have a problem," Damian radioed. "I retrieved the outer case but I didn't find the-" "Robin, listen," Batman said cutting in. "Riddler's final communicator has already been found by someone else." Damian could believe it. "What?! By whom?!" "That is unimportant, there is something else I need you to do," Batman responded. "We have until midnight, so listen up. Wherever the Riddler is, I imagine he is somewhere in this city." "And you want me to try and pin point his location?" "Exactly." "How can we be sure that he is here?" Damian questioned. "I spoke with Pennyworth a short time ago. I know the Riddler has implemented Gotham into this game of his as well. Who is to say he isn't there?" "Riddler's main draw is on Detective Mouri, Kaitou Kid, and myself," Batman reminded. "He'll want to be as close to his subjects as possible." "So, how am I supposed to find him?" Damian questioned. "I've not a clue to where he could be." "You'll have to try tracking him with the very thing he has provided." Damian instantly realized what he meant. "We can track him through the broadcasts he's no doubt going to continue to make. There must be a signal I can latch onto." "Riddler won't make it simple task." Damian huffed with confidence. "We wouldn't want to make it too easy." "The Riddler will make his next announcement soon," Batman conveyed. "I have no doubt law enforcement will try to locate the Riddler as well. It's a race against time from here." "I welcome the pressure." "Robin, there is something else." "And what might that be?" "As leverage and a means of getting detective Mouri to agree to his terms of participating Nigma has taken Ran Mouri hostage, Kogoro's daughter," Batman informed. "Her whereabouts are unknown." Damian knew exactly where this was going. "And let me guess, you want me to find her?" "As far as I know Riddler isn't aware you have traveled here as well," Batman stated. "That's one of the few advantages we have." "Every great player has a hidden trump card," said Damian putting it into perspective. "But even so, how am I supposed to find this girl? I have nothing to go off of." "I've been building a case since the moment I learned of her disappearance," informed Batman. "I'm forwarding all necessary information to you now. Ran is depending on you. Tokyo and Gotham are depending on you." "I'll find the girl and have Nigma in a straitjacket behind bars before night's end," Damian declared. "Robin out." Batman drew focus back to the two on the rooftop along with himself. The question that couldn't be avoided came to mind. Were they ready? Would they be able to handle everything the Riddler is about to throw their way? Knowing Nightwing, his own protégé and the Flash would be assisting them through communication helped to ease uncertainty. Then there was this detective Shinichi Kudo, who was he exactly? Given the circumstances now was not the time to investigate him. There was one focus, and one focus only, the Riddler. "Ladies and Gentlemen, I return to you with a highly anticipated update!" Riddler's broadcast had begun once again. Kogoro, Kaitou Kid, and Batman listened closely. They knew any word to be spoken could be a hint to something larger. "The final three communicators have been found and activated, which means I won't detonate one of the six explosives that remain. Fortunately for all of you, the trial will proceed without any casualties." "I'm getting tired of hearing his voice," Kogoro spat. "You all are probably asking.. Riddler, what is this trial you speak of? Well, that is simple," Riddler said. "All three selected contestants will be given a single timed challenge, assisted by the people who recovered the three additional communicators. Of course if they are unable to complete the given challenges within the required time I will set off an explosion. However if they are to succeed, no such event will occur." "That certainly sets the stakes," Kaitou Kid said. "Oh, and did I mention the next explosions to go off will be front and center?!" Kaitou Kid gulped. "I'm not so sure I like the sound of that." "Citizens of Gotham and Tokyo, I'm afraid I must clock out once again. But I must ask that you refrain from leaving your seats," Riddler dispensed to all. "For I will return shortly. And with that I will bring play by play coverage for each of our three contestants. Until then.. ladies and gentlemen." This brought an end to the Riddler's broadcast for a second time. "What now?" questioned Kaitou Kid. Batman responded. "We wait." "Wait for what?! I see no point in sitting around here," Kogoro stated. "Didn't you hear? He plans on setting off more explosives!" "I won't let that happen." Kogoro laughed at the given declaration. "Oh yah? And how can you be so sure about that?" "The Riddler is a lot of things, one is that he is a man of his word," Batman stated. "If we successfully complete Nigma's challenges within his given time frame he won't set off the bombs." "What about my daughter?" Kogoro asked. There was a bitterness to be heard in his voice. "Will she be released as well?" All fell to a dead silence. With the games fast approach there was still much left unanswered. …. Back in the Midtown Tower Damian had since returned to the tower where he began the process of attempting to track the Riddler's signal after the second broadcast occurred. "The moment his announcement ended the signal fell completely blank," Damian took note of. "No matter, I have no doubt Riddler will return with another video soon. The man just can't seem to get enough of himself." Damian directed his attention to center room. Gathered around Jirokichi Suzuki were several security guards. As expected they too were trying to detect the location for where the Riddler was broadcasting from. Either way, Damian wasn't about to leave it to them to get the job done. His mission was set, it was time to deliver. "Doubtful Nigma is hanging around here somewhere, but it is still a possibility." The thought of it slid through Damian's mind as he scanned the room full of people. "For all we know the live footage that was just played could have been a pre-recording." Moving from his position in the corner he had been standing most of the evening Damian advanced forward. As he moved along he took eye to all who stood in attendance. It didn't take long for him to conclude that the Riddler was not present. "It's time to widen the search." In that moment Damian decided it was now time to make his exit. "It's unlikely Nigma has stationed himself in this building. I'd be better served looking elsewhere." The question now became, where? Where was the Riddler now? "Damian-Kun!" Hearing his name called Damian turned just in time to see someone approaching. "It's that girl." "I thought you left already," Ayumi said after stopping in front of him. "I departed for a short time, yes. Where is your friend with the glasses, Conan? I saw him leave earlier; he looked to be in a hurry?" Damian was moderately interested in knowing. "As far as I can tell he has yet to return." "I don't know where he is," replied Ayumi. "One second he was with the rest of us. Then we saw that man with the green suit on the TV, and then Conan just-" "Left," Damian completed. Ayumi nodded. "Mmhum." "I see." Was there something to this? No, there couldn't be. Conan was just a kid. Surely he wasn't onto something? There was now a worried look to be found on Ayumi's face. "Why did you ask? Do you think something bad happened?" Damian looked away. "That's not what I was implying." Both Genta and Mitsuhiko joined the two after spotting them. "I didn't know you were still here," said Mitsuhiko. "Why wouldn't I be?" Damian questioned. "As I told you when you first arrived, I'm here on behalf of my father. But in light of what has happened my presence is needed elsewhere." "You're leaving?" asked Genta. Damian began walking once again. "For the time being, yes." With that he was on his way. "Guys, Conan has not come back yet," Ayumi said. "It has been awhile since he left." "Over ten minutes," said Mitsuhiko who looked down at his watch. "I thought he would have come back already." "Maybe he's looking at the art in the hall like he was before," Genta said. Mitsuhiko pulled out his phone. "I'll call him right now." After the number was dialed he raised the phone to his right ear. Many seconds went by. "Well?" questioned Genta. Lowering the phone back to his side Mitsuhiko shook his head. "I didn't get an answer," Mitsuhiko reported. "Do.. do you think something happened to him?" Ayumi fretted. "I wouldn't worry," said Genta assured. "I bet he'll turn up any time now." "Maybe so," agreed Mitsuhiko. "Though it does beg the question, where is he?" …. Back on the roof One minute passed, then two. How much longer until Riddler's challenge would begin? Kaitou Kid looked up toward the sky to see a number of helicopters still in search of him. "Relentless as always," Kaitou Kid noted. "Even with the circumstances as they are now they're still attempting to locate me." "Hmph. Why wouldn't they?" Kogoro questioned. "You're a highly wanted criminal; they won't stop until you're caught." "Maybe so," Kaitou Kid admitted. "Even still, you would think a man threatening to set off explosives in the city would have completely diverted their attention elsewhere for the time being." "Who's to say that isn't the case?" Batman stated. Kaitou Kid looked over at him. "What's that?" "The Riddler showed to everyone his face," reminded Batman. "It could well be that they are searching for Nigma now." "You know.. you could be right." At long last the moment they all had been waiting for finally came. Each of their communicator devices vibrated before hearing his voice. "Are you all excited? You should be," Riddler spoke. "Can't you feel it? That taste of accomplishment.. victory?" "Gee, the amount this guy self boasts makes a broken record seem like a speechless pineapple in comparison," Kaitou Kid thought to himself. "Riddler, my daughter," Kogoro began. "If we successfully win this game of yours, will Ran be set free?" "What is it called when something isn't atop, within, or below a presented subject?" replied Riddler with another riddle to deliver. "I'm not playing games with you!" Kogoro snapped. "That answer is the incorrect," conveyed Riddler in return. "Answer the damn question!" Kogoro fired back Riddler chuckled. "Oh, but I already have." Kogoro was now more impatient than ever. "No! All you gave was another one of your twisted ridd-" Kogoro would be cut off before his thoughts could be finished. "What's not atop, within, or below a presented subject," Batman repeated. Kogoro looked over at him questioningly. "What of it?" "Atop, within, and below are all one in the same," Batman explained. "They are the subject, or in other terms object of reference." "I don't get it," admitted Kogoro. "What are you trying to say?" "It is simple detective Mouri," replied Batman. "When something isn't part of an object, it is on the outside. Putting that into terms to what you asked the Riddler concerning your daughter, the answer is no. Her fate is not part of this challenge's wager." "Bingo! The bat knight nails it again!" confirmed Riddler. Kogoro was now furious. "Then what is the whole point of this game if I can't-" "Patience, investigator," interjected Riddler. "You will have a chance to determine your daughter's fate. But first, you must prove you are worthy of such a granted opportunity." Kogoro gritted his teeth. "You disgust me! You hear?!" Riddler chuckled. "Your words plant a blade to my chest. Never the less, why don't I start off by giving you the rules of the game, yes?" "Bout time," Kaitou Kid said planting his left fist into his right palm. "Finally, the part we have all been waiting for." "Rule number one; the person linked to you is the only person you are allowed to collaborate with in between each challenge," Riddler relayed. "Any attempt to seek outside help such as the authorities or any other parties involved will result in destruction! Yes, I will set off one of the explosives." "Peachy," remarked Nightwing from his end. "Rule number two; both parties must stay standing throughout the entire challenge." "What's that supposed to mean?" Flash radioed. "Simply that I will set off another explosion if both participants are not able to complete a task as a team," Riddler responded. "So basically if someone taps out," Nightwing figured. "So, what's the third rule?" "There is no third rule," Riddler replied. "However, there's something additional you all might find to your advantage." "Can't wait to hear this," said Kaitou Kid. "We'll call it, your service cards," Riddler described. "Each of you as a pair will have two service cards that you can use at any time during your given challenges." "What do these service cards do?" questioned Nightwing. "Let's say mid challenge you find yourselves in a slump, in a place that leaves you feeling blinded on what to do next. That's where the service cards come into play, they grant help to the most primitive of minds," Riddler explained. "The first; a free phone call to anyone of your choosing! Of course there is one exception to that, you may not reach out to anyone else participating in this challenge." "And service number two?" Kogoro enquired. "A riddle," Riddler softly laughed. "A hint if you will. A hint that will help you to solve the given puzzle." It couldn't be this simple. There had to be more to it than that right? "What's the catch?" Kaitou Kid asked. "I beg your pardon?" replied Riddler. "You don't take me as someone who would be so generous with the.. services you have mentioned. There must be some kind of catch to all of this," Kaitou Kid assumed. "Oh, how right you are," confirmed Riddler. "If you are to use service card one, five minutes will be deducted from the time given to you to complete the challenge." "Sounds simple enough." "That is only for service card number one. The penalty for using service card number two differs," conveyed Riddler. "How so?" questioned Kogoro. "If and when you choose to use service card number two the remaining time left on the clock for you will be cut in half," Riddler explained. "Meaning if we have twenty minutes remaining, the time would be reduced to ten," Kaitou Kid realized. "That would be correct thief Kid," Riddler confirmed. "Now here is what is going to happen gentlemen. In approximately five to ten minutes I will be giving you all information for the task you will be taking on. Now before I can do that I have one more announcement to make to the good people who will spectate. So it goes without saying that I must put in my leave for the time being. Until then.. competitors." The only sound to hear in those following moments was the spin of the propellers above and the traffic that resided in the streets far below. Kaitou Kid shed eye to Kogoro who stood to the left of him. He was in deep thought. There was now a fire to see in his eyes, one Kid had not seen before. He couldn't even begin to imagine what was rolling through his mind in those silent filled moments. Kaitou Kid then turned his head to see Batman had moved to the opposite side of the roof once more. "There he goes again," Kaitou Kid said. Now out of range of the others Batman activated the communicator device on his wrist. Raising his hand he spoke. "I have one question I'd like to ask of you, detective," Batman said. "You managed to retrieve Riddler's final communicator, how did you come across it?" "I'd love to entertain you with the details, but I don't believe now is ideal to discuss that," Shinichi softly replied. "Wouldn't you agree?" Batman's attempt at learning more about the opposition had been completely shot down. But even then, Batman knew he was right, all focus needed to be directed on the Riddler. "Shinichi, listen," Batman began. "What you're about to face.. what we're about to face, things won't be as simple as they appear." The spoken had to be questioned. "Care to elaborate?" "I don't know what the Riddler's challenges will present, nor do I know what his end game is," admitted Batman. "But if there is one thing I am certain of it is that we need to look at the simple as complex and the complex as simple." Conan was not completely sure what was meant by this, but kept his words in mind none the less. "So this Riddler guy, how much do you know about him?" "Enough." "Before he referred to detective Mouri as the investigator, Kid as the wizard, and you as the dark knight," Shinichi said. "Why did he refer to you as a knight? Just who are you anyway?" "Who I am is unimportant," replied Batman. "I will however answer your question pertaining to the Riddler. If there is anything you should know; it is having an understanding for the way Nigma thinks." "Knowledge that could prove pivotal," agreed Shinichi. There was no denying that fact. "I'm all ears." …. Somewhere on the streets Since departing from the Midtown Tower the question now became, where to look? Where could the Riddler possibly be hiding? No matter where it was Damian was determined to find him. "I can't believe someone else found the last communicator device before I had the chance to retrieve it," muttered Damian under his breath. He clinched his fists at the thought of it. "Now I'm regulated to headlining a side mission." Who could it be? Who was the person to have found the final communicator? It was a question that rested at the back of his mind. Then there was the obvious question. How long had the Riddler been planning all of this? "It's clear Nigma has put a lot of time and thought into this scheme of his, this certainly wasn't a heart of the moment decision," Damian thought to himself. "If I had to take a guess I'd say he's been planning this for weeks, possibly months." Even though he would have preferred the former there was no denying the importance of the task that was left to him; finding Ran Mouri, and above all determining the location of Edward Nigma. Damian stopped after coming to the end of the street he walked, peering ahead to the traffic that continued to muster with patrol cars. "Security is increasing as expected," Damian took note of. His focus then switched to his phone in hand. On the screen was a picture of the kidnapped, Ran Mouri. Now familiar with her appearance Damian opened the download that had been sent to him from Batman. "This must be the information father spoke of," Damian noted. A moment later the street light above him flickered. Noticing this he looked up as it occurred for a second time. "Now what?" It didn't come as a surprise to him when Riddler's voice returned, listening as it echoed throughout the area. "The wait is almost over ladies and gentlemen, the show will begin shortly!" Damian knew it was now time to make his move. "Alright Edward, let's see what door you're hiding that arrogant face behind." As the Riddler continued to speak, Damian attempted to pin point his location using the device held in hand. "You're all probably enquiring the understandable, why make another announcement? Especially one not stamping the beginning of the game, well I'm going to answer just that." In that moment the sought was achieved. "I've got it! I'm locked onto his signal." Damian couldn't be any more pleased. However the thrill of success would fade almost as fast as it had come. "What?! The signal.. it's gone." As the Riddler continued Damian attempted to regain the connection. "Citizens of Tokyo and Gotham, I was doing some thinking. You are all merely spectators right?" Riddler noted. "Why don't we amp up the experience? I now hold my hand out in invitation; you are all welcome to the dance!" Damian finally regained the signal that had been lost. "The signal is weak," Damian said. "Which means I must be a good distance away from wherever-" He stopped after the connection was lost for a second time. "What?!" "You now ask, well Mr. Riddler how do I join?" Riddler chuckled. "My answer for now is, stay tuned. Your knowledge on future, present, and past will be the subject of test." When Damian wasn't able to immediately reconnect he began to walk, testing to see if relocation would help his cause. "There, I've got him." The moment the reconnection was made it faded once again. Damian clutched his fist in growing agitation. "I must now unfortunately depart once more my dear guests. Keep my words in thought, until then." And with that the Riddler ended yet another one of his broadcasts. "I don't understand. Why wasn't I able to get a clean lock on his.. wait." Damian attention was diverted by the sound of a police siren. He looked to roadside, watching as two patrol cars zipped past. It was only at that second that the possibility came to mind. "Could it be?" Could that be the reason why I wasn't able to sustain a distinct lock on Nigma's signal? There was now a look of clarity to display. He had to be right. "The Riddler's not camped out in some classic shielded hideout, no. He's on the move," Damian realized. His eyes narrowed as he watched every passing vehicle that came in sight. Edward Nigma could be in any of them. "The question is, where or what is he broadcasting from? And.. where is he keeping the girl?" To Be Continued
  16. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 17 Meet the Contestants Time counted down as Haibara attempted to contact Conan for a third time within the last minute. "Dammit," Haibara cursed under her breath. Hiroshi stood a short distance behind. He could see the disappointment in her posture alone. "No luck?" Haibara nodded. "I can't get through to him." Turning around she looked up. "I don't have a good feeling about this. What if something has happened to him? It's not like Edogawa-kun not to answer." Uproar in activity was heard in those next moments. "What do you mean we don't have any service?!" shouted Jirokichi from across the room. This gathered immediate attention from Haibara who looked over to find Mr. Suzuki talking to a group of security guards. "What's going on?" Haibara wondered. "It is as I said, we have no service right now," one of the guards responded. "All electrical communication has been cut within the building. We're looking into the matter now. Rest assured, we will get to the bottom of this." "You better make it quick! I want immediate pursuit of Kid who is now traveling in the direction of," Jirokichi began as he looked to the tracking device in hand. His heart nearly skipped a beat at what he saw. "No, it can't be!" "What's wrong?" "The signal, it.. it's gone!" Jirokichi was infuriated. "No way Kid could have discovered the tracer so SOON!" Haibara watched from a close distance away. A smile found way after hearing his words. "It would seem Edogawa-kun has disabled the tracer." "Looks like we have an answer for why we haven't been able to get in touch with Shinichi," Hiroshi said looking down at his phone which he held in hand. "But what could have caused the jam in service? This almost seems too convenient." "It does," agreed Haibara. "Do you believe Kid is behind this?" "I do not," replied Haibara. "I don't see what Kaitou Kid would have to gain from something like this if he has already escaped." "Then if Kid is not the cause.. then what?" …. Batman looked directly into the eyes of the renowned detective. "His name is Edward Nigma, though he is widely known as The Riddler." "The Riddler." Kogoro paused upon hearing the name. "I've heard of him. Isn't he that criminal who takes pleasure in leaving riddles behind after departing a crime scene?" "He is the one who has your daughter." "But why? What could he possibly want with me?" "The Riddler seeks one thing, and one thing only," Batman said as he looked to the sky. "And that is to prove that he is the greatest master mind in the world." "And how does kidnapping my daughter help to prove any of that?" Batman looked down at him. "Don't you get it? Nigma's game began the moment he stepped into your office. He was testing you detective," Batman explained. "Taking your daughter is only a means to raise the stakes, all while forcing you into a corner. Riddler wants you at your most desperate, pressing to see if you will break under his control." "To test me?" Kogoro questioned. "Test me for what?" "To heighten his own limitations, as well as proving not only to himself but to the world he is the greatest master mind of all," Batman replied. "Through his eyes you and Kaitou Kid both threaten that very thing." "It's all starting to make sense," Kaitou Kid said. "You seem to be very knowledgeable about the Riddler Mr. Batman." "Our paths have crossed more times than I have bothered to count," Batman acknowledged. "You said that the Riddler wants to prove to the world that he is top game," Kaitou Kid said. "How does he plan on doing that exactly? It's not like he has an audience." Batman chose not to respond, knowing full aware whatever the Riddler was planning had yet to truly begin. The only question, what? "So, how are we supposed to find where he has taken Ran?" Kogoro questioned. Batman faced him. "There is no we. I will pursue the Riddler alone," Batman stated. "The Riddler wants us," Kaitou Kid said quick to remind. "Further reason for you two to remain here, bringing either of you along would only put you at risk." Batman's mind was made on the matter. "You can't just leave us here tied up like this!" Kogoro yelled. "I can, and I will." Batman then turned focus back to the phone that was in his possession. "Nigma called once and sent two text messages to Ran Mouri's phone, all which came from the same number." Batman then made a move away from the pair who were still tied to one another. "Hey, where are you going?" Kogoro asked. Once Batman was at a distance where he believed neither could no longer hear he stopped. "Alfred it's me," Batman radioed. "I take it your travels have been a success thus far?" Alfred said in return. "There is something I need you to look into. I have number I believe the Riddler called from to the phone I'm holding now, I want you to try and track the location of the phone Riddler used," Batman explained. "The Riddler?" Alfred was surprised to hear the name. "I would have never imagined he would have gotten caught up in that Kaitou Kid chase of yours." "It's complicated," Batman put in short. "I'm sending all necessary information to you now." Communication ended between the two for the time being. This left Batman to think about everything he had gathered leading to this point. Of everything he had learned there was still something that bothered him. The Treble. Kogoro Mouri and Kaitou Kid only amounted to two, so who was the third? "Who is it Nigma.. who else do you have your eyes set on?" This thought carried through his mind for the next minute. When he least expected it a ring came to his ear. "Alfred?" "I have pin pointed the location of the phone with the number you sent to me," Alfred informed. "I'm forwarding the location of the phone to you now sir." Batman's eyes dropped to the device around his left forearm. "It's located about eight minutes away from where I am now," Batman realized. "A welcomed convenience," said Alfred. "If you need anything else don't hesitate to call." "I will. Batman out." Ending the transmission Batman made his way back over to Kaitou and Kogoro who anxiously awaited his return. "I see you haven't forgotten about us," Kaitou Kid remarked. "I've determined the location of the phone from which the Riddler called your daughter from earlier today," Batman conveyed to Kogoro. There was now a sense of hope to be seen within Kogoro's eyes. "You know where she is?!" "I won't know until I get there," Batman replied before turning for the edge of the building. "You two will remain here. I will return when I can." Batman took all but two steps before Kaitou Kid spoke again. "What makes you think this rope of yours will hold me for long?" "You're free to try and break free," Batman replied. In short time he found way to the end of the building. He looked up, taking note of the number of helicopters that now patrolled the area. "From here I'll have to move with caution." With nothing more Batman jumped, gliding into the night. …. Everything was going smoother than he could have hoped. Conan now soared down the sidewalk on his board, mindful of others as he weaved his way along. After reaching the end of the block he stopped, looking down at his watch. "I have nine minutes before the time he said we would meet. I need to hurry back to the Midtown Tower." Once the road was clear of any ongoing traffic Conan rushed to the other side. He was becoming anxious by the second, knowing that every minute that passed Ran's fate hanged in the balance. In the moments that followed Conan caught eye of someone who he was not expecting to see. "It's Officer Sato." Conan then noticed the building she had walked out from. "Fun Entertainment Incorporation.. what would she be doing at a place like that?" Conan wondered. As Conan neared it didn't take long for Miwako to notice him as well. Conan smiled, waving as he did. "Hi hi!" "Conan-kun," Miwako said waving back. "I wasn't expecting to see you." She then looked past him as if she was expecting to find someone else. Conan immediately noticed this. "Is something wrong?" "It's nothing," Miwako said looking back down at him. "I just wasn't expecting you to be alone, that's all. Usually you're with your friends or Mouri-kun." "I'm on my way to join them now," Conan said before taking a look back at the building she had just exited. "What were you doing here?" Miwako looked back at the Fun Entertainment Incorporation building before looking back at him. "I don't know. I thought I was looking for someone." Miwako turned away before gazing up at the sky. "But that someone might just be a ghost." Confusion came to Conan's face, coming with it, an interest. "A ghost? Ghost's don't exist Officer Sato," Conan laughed in a childlike manner. He was hopeful that he would learn what brought her here, pressing for just that. "Did someone disappear?" Miwako smiled, closing her eyes for a split second. "Never mind it. This is not something you need to concern yourself with." Neither said another word for several seconds. Conan's mind quickly reverted back to the mission at hand. Steering once more, he waved to Miwako for a final time as he left. Not long after his departure Wataru walked out from the Fun Entertainment Inc. building himself, stopping only after reaching Miwako's side. "Was that Conan-kun?" Wataru asked. "It was," Miwako confirmed. Silence ensued. "So… what happens now?" Wataru enquired. "We have our main suspect," Miwako replied. "It is time to file a report." …. The further he traveled the stronger the signal became. Through it all the identity of the third and final person that the Riddler sought ran through his mind. Who could it be? Above all what was the Riddler's end game? Batman was determined to find out the answer. He leaped to yet another building, looking down at the tracker as he finally came to a stop. "It's here." He followed the given trail which led him directly to the center of the building. Pulling his arm aside Batman looked to the ground to find what appeared to be a disposable phone. His eyes narrowed at the sight of it. Why here of all places? Before he was able to take any further action, unexpectedly the phone began to ring. Batman wasted no time in reaching down for the phone, taking the call as he placed the phone to his ear. "Riddle me this, riddle me that," a familiar voice spoke from the other end. "Nigma.." Batman muttered. "Morning, day, and night. Tell me Dark Knight, are you able to name three consecutive days without using the words; Sunday, Saturday, Friday, Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, or Monday?" It was at that moment that Batman realized who the final person of the sought treble was, it was himself. But how could the Riddler have anticipated that he would be in Japan? Not wanting to keep him waiting Batman answered the inquired. "Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow." "Ohhh bwuuufff! Wrong! Yet.. yet so close," Riddler chuckled through his teeth. "Where is she Nigma?" Batman cut straight to the point. "She? Hmmmm, who is she?" "I'm not playing games with you Riddler," Batman growled. Riddler took humor to his words. "Oh but you must, no.. you will!" Riddler corrected. "You have no say in the matter. And to answer your question detective, Nar is perfectly fine.. for now." Nar? It was now clear Ran represented the kidnap victim that had been detailed to Kogoro in the story fed to him by the Riddler. "Where is she?" "Well that all depends on the time." "Time?" "Tomorrow she could be in several places. Today she floats a stream of the moment. Yesterday, well.. you'll have to flip it all around to make any sense of that." "I'm only going to ask you once more." Batman was quickly losing his patience. "Where is the girl? Where is Ran Mouri?" "There is a box, located on the north/east corner of the building where you currently reside. You will open this box," Riddler instructed. "Inside you will find three wrist bands. One is for you, one for the grieving investigator, and one for the ladies' man wizard." "Why are you doing this? Why now?" There was now a fire of passion to be heard within his voice. "Because I must," Riddler replied before conveying one final message. "Have at you, detective." And with that the line between the two was cut. Batman dropped the phone to his side. "I have no choice but to play his game." He looked to the corner of the roof, and there it was. Sitting in a shadowed area was the box the Riddler mentioned. What was going to happen next was a given. ….. Haibara and Hiroshi watched as many security guards raced from one end of the room to the other. Things were clearly heating up. While it wasn't completely clear what was going on, they had a good feeling they would soon find out. "Hey, you over there," Jirokichi said gaining the attention of one of the security guards. "What is it?" he asked as he approached. "That television there," Jirokichi said pointing to the ceiling. "Do you have a remote to turn it on. I want to follow all coverage that is going on, on the outside. If there is something on Kid I want to know right away." The security guard bowed his head. "I'll go and fetch the remote." "Looks like we're still out of service," Hiroshi said after taking another look at his phone. "I wonder where Shinichi is now." "None of this is adding up," Haibara said. Hiroshi looked down at her curiously. "What are you talking about?" "Jamming phone signals, this is not something Kaitou Kid has ever done in the past," Haibara said. "He has always been about the mystery of trick, and the thrill of the chase." Hiroshi didn't quite follow. "What are you trying to say?" "That someone else is behind-" "Haibara, doc!" Haibara looked across the way to find Conan had finally returned. "Edogawa-kun." "I finally managed to find and turn off the tracking device the old man installed." "We figured that much. If you don't mind me asking, where was it?" Haibara asked. "The tracking device was hidden in the structure of the small glass case the miniature statue was sealed inside," Conan informed. "It wasn't until I pulled the case apart piece by piece that I discovered the tracking device. And to my luck it had an off switch." "So, you had the Elephant Revenant after all. I was also told you were pursuing Mouri-kun as well." Hiroshi was almost surprised to find he wasn't present. "Where is he now?" "I was following him," Conan acknowledged. "But there was a change in plans." "Change in plans?" "The Elephant Revenant, where is it now?" Haibara asked out of curiosity. "Somewhere safe," Conan replied. Haibara and Hiroshi looked to one another. This was not the response they were expecting. "Somewhere safe?" questioned Haibara. "That would imply you're trying to keep it out of the hands of someone." "That's the whole point," Conan confirmed. "We can't let them get their hands on the Elephant Revenant." "Wait, slow down," Hiroshi said. "Who are these people whom you are referring? And above all, how did you get a hold of the Elephant Revenant in the first place?" "Kaitou Kid," Conan revealed. "What?!" Hiroshi couldn't believe it. "When? How? Why?" "As much as I'd like to explain there is a deadline I have to meet," Conan explained. "The deadline isn't until midnight," Haibara reminded. "There is plenty of time for you to-" "I'm not talking about Eddy, I'm talking about Kid," Conan clarified. "In the note he left for me, he said we would meet on the roof of the Midtown Tower at ten o'clock, that's two minutes from now." "That's going to be difficult," Haibara said after hearing this. There was now a questioning look on Conan's face. "What do you mean?" "The rooftop is currently occupied by security," Hiroshi informed. "It is believed that they came across Kiatou Kid a few minutes ago. Whether they have apprehended him or not is unknown at this time." "I don't know what you and Kid agreed on, but it would seem the circumstances have drastically changed since your arrangement was made," Haibara said. "I doubt Kid is still up there, and even if he is there is no way Inspector Ginzo will allow you or anyone else to go up there." Conan couldn't deny the truth behind her words. "She's right.. as much as I hate to admit it. But I have to, this is my only chance to make contact." Conan tightened his fists as emotion began to fume. "Ran's life depends on this." "Edogawa-kun," Haibara spoke. Before Conan had the chance to respond he heard the call of his name. "Conan! You're back!" Genta made his way over. Mitsuhiko and Ayumi followed a short distance behind. "Took you long enough." "We were beginning to worry," Mitsuhiko admitted. "What happened? Did you get lost on the way back?" "Well, uhhh." Conan paused. "The art. I got caught up in some of the art in the hallway leading to the gallery. There was a couple paintings I was looking at." "I wanna see them," Ayumi said. "Perhaps on the way out," Hiroshi suggested. Conan's focus reverted back to the matter at hand. Everything that had been going so smoothly had now completely folded. What now? What was he to do next? Whatever it was he knew it would have to happen soon. ….. Batman now traveled back into the direction he had come. Grappling from one building to the next, the wind now blew in defiance of his efforts. "It couldn't just be coincidence. How did the Riddler know I'd be here in Tokyo?" The unlikely possibility had to be considered. "Could it be that he has played a hand in the distribution of Scarecrow's toxin? That could explain his anticipation of my arrival." It was hard to believe, it had to be something else. But what? The rooftop Batman had left Kaito Kid and Kogoro on was now in sight. Roughly eighteen minutes passed since he departed. Gliding down from above he landed with a soft touch. Looking over to the right he came to find Kogoro was the only one still tied up, and bound to his mouth was what appeared to be a handkerchief . "Where is Kaitou Kid?" Had he really escaped? Before Batman had the opportunity to investigate Kaito Kid stepped out from the dark side of the roof. "So nice of you to rejoin us," Kaitou Kid greeted as he marched forward. "Conversation was growing thin with just the two of us." "You didn't run," Batman said. "You seem surprised." Batman looked back at Kogoro before facing Kid once more. "You didn't cut my line," he noted. "How did you get free?" Kaitou Kid twiddled his fingers. "Have you forgotten, I'm a magician." Batman chose not proceed with the discussion any further, knowing there would be no ground to gain. His attention fell back on Kogoro. "Why have you silenced him?" Batman asked in reference to the cloth wrapped over the detective's mouth. "Well, there is a reasonable reason for that," Kaitou Kid replied. "A short time ago I managed to get free. It was also at that time that one of the helicopters just happened to be hovering above this roof. Long story short, Mr. Detective here tried to gain the attention of our airborne friends. That was a big no no." Batman walked over, pulling the handkerchief from Kogoro's mouth who immediately spoke. "Ran, do you know where she is?!" "On your feet." Batman forcefully lifted Kogoro up before spinning him around. "What the hell are you doing?!" Kogoro exclaimed. In short time Batman removed the grappling wire that bounded detective Mouri. "Much better," Kogoro said delight. He then turned to face the man who sprung him free, surprised that he had been cut free. There was now a hopefulness to be seen in his eyes. "Ran.. please tell me you know where she is." "If you want to find your daughter, we're going to have to play Riddler's game," Batman said. "Which means the three of us will have to work together." "Excuse me?" Kaitou Kid wanted further detail for what it was he was talking about. "So does this mean you are the third of the treble?" Not choosing to answer Batman continued. "I tracked the phone which the Riddler used to call detective Mouri earlier today, the moment I did the phone rang." "And did you answer it?" Kaitou Kid asked. "Riddler confided that he does in fact have Ran, more importantly that she is alive," Batman relayed. Kogoro sighed in relief. "Tell us something we don't know," replied Kaitou Kid in light of this news. Reaching for the side of his belt Batman pulled out what appeared to be three wrist bands, each seemingly with a small speaker installed in the center. "What do those have to do with anything?" Kogoro asked. "These were left for me to take after finishing my conversation with the Riddler. He wants each of us to wear one," Batman informed. "For what?" Kogoro questioned. "He did not say." Kaitou Kid noticed a certain detail about each of the wrist bands. "They're all different colors." Red, Yellow, Black, the colors for the trio of wrist bands. "Are there any other differences between them?" "As far as I know, no," Batman replied. Wasting no more time he kept the black one for himself before holding out the remaining two for them to select. Kaitou Kid instantly grabbed the red colored wrist band. "Can't go wrong with the red." With yellow being the only option remaining Kogoro reluctantly took hold of it. "I would have preferred black or red," Kogoro muttered. "So, what is this game the Riddler spoke of?" Kaitou Kid asked. "And how will we know when it will begin?" "I believe the game will start the moment we put these bracelets on," Batman assumed. "No doubt Riddler has a way of knowing once we've placed them on. Given that all three bracelets have a speaker unit installed I am certain Riddler will be able to contact us whenever he wishes." "Then what are we waiting for?!" Kogoro stated. "No, not yet," Batman shot down. "Before we throw ourselves into the ring of challenge I believe it would be wise for us to go over everything we know, starting from the beginning.. the riddle." "The silver blade placed into your chest I pull out into creation of Gold. Come tomorrow's fall of dawn the Gold shall flow with waves towards its destination of multiply. Bring to me the Light of whose hands are unclean to which he touches. Midnight's deadline waits at the Eye and Hand overlooking all," Kogoro read from the note in hand. "We also know the Riddler referred to Ran as Nar. Then there is also the Adam and Goliath mentions," Kaitou Kid recalled. "But what do they symbolize?" "Let's not forget the most important element to all of this, twisted perception," Batman reminded. "Every riddle to this point has painted an indirect or mirrored message." "He then used my own daughters phone to make contact with me," Kogoro continued. "Can't forget the photos you received in the mail," Kaitou Kid noted. "To obtain the sought, bring to me the treble who oppose El Acertijo. That was the message sent to your daughter's phone after you retrieved it," Batman said. "Last is the most recent message that was sent to Detective Mouri," Kaitou Kid said. "Come and get me." "That leads to the discussion I had with Nigma over the phone. One of the first things he did was ask a question in the form of a riddle," Batman relayed. ""Morning, day, and night. That was the opening of his point. He then went on to ask if I was able to name three consecutive days without using the words; Sunday, Saturday, Friday, Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, or Monday." "And what was your answer?" asked Kaitou Kid. "Fun day, sad day, and off day?" Batman replied. "Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow." "Touché." "Riddler deemed my answer as incorrect." This came as a surprise to both Kid and Kogoro. "Have at you. Those were the Riddler's final words to me before our conversation ended," Batman informed. "Have at you?" Kaitou Kid questioned. "I've heard the term before," Kogoro said. Kaitou Kid looked over at him. "You have?" "It's a declaration from one person to another, an indication that they will strike," Kogoro explained. "Usually with a sword or some other kind hand based weapon." "And given the situation, I've figured how the term fits into all of this," Batman stated. "Have at you.. The silver blade placed into your chest I pull out into creation of Gold. It is simple, the silver blade in the riddle is a representation of the challenge." It was all starting to make sense. "What about this creation of gold?" Kogoro inquired. "Any bright ideas for what that could possibly mean?" "The gold is the equivalent to one's victory," Batman explained. "The Riddler is predicting our failure, thus leaving him as the victor. That is a simple way of looking at it, but I'm almost certain there is more to it than that." "You seem pretty sure about all of this," Kaitou Kid noted. "I know the way he thinks." Batman then glanced down at the black colored wrist band. At this point they had gone over everything they possibly could. All that remained was to begin. He looked back at the two men standing before him. "I don't entirely know what the Riddler is planning, so I'm only going to say this. Whatever happens, keep a level head. If we can do that collectively, we can't possibly lose." Of the three Kaitou Kid was the first to slide on his selected wrist band, quickly followed by Kogoro. Seeing both of theirs neatly in place Batman did the same. The moment he did all three bracelets vibrated. "Here we go," Kaitou Kid thought to himself. The sound of static came from the speakers. It didn't surprise anyone when someone's voice followed. "Greetings you over hyped tier level seconds. This is your host speaking." Kogoro recognized his voice instantly. "Where is she?! Where are you keeping my daughter?!" "Oh, is that you Sleeping Kogoro? It is so nice to hear your voice again," Riddler pressed. "If you've put a finger on her I swear that-" The Riddler interrupted. "A single finger?" Riddler chuckled. "How about two? Double provides for a two way route, in turn allowing an additional option. Even you should know that Mr. Investigator." Batman took note of his words. "Two way route.." Kogoro exploded. "WHAT WAS THAT?!" "Detective Mouri, enough," Batman said hoping to refocus him. "Remember what we discussed." Kogoro took a deep breath, exhaling just as slowly. "That's right, I need keep a clear head." "Batman of the black, ravaging red hoisted by the Kid Thief, and Sleeping Kogoro ends up with the left over yellow. Excellent," Riddler said. "The three of you selected the wrist bands I had envisioned.. Ohhhh, how I love to be right." Raising his arm Kaitou Kid spoke into the wrist band. "Yo, Riddle guy," Kaitou Kid said. "You still haven't told us why you're doing this. Are we right to believe you want to challenge us?" "A challenge? A challenge would imply that one see's another as a threat. This is not a challenge," Riddler clucked. "This is an opening of the curtain. It is time for the light to shine where it is destined! Tonight, Today! The world will finally see whose greatness is above all others, I, the Riddler.. will see that it is so." "Someone needs a serious ego check," Kaitou Kid remarked. "Tonight, Today." Those two words rung clear in Batman's mind. Could it be a hint to something bigger? "Night… day, what are you planning Nigma?" "Hmmm, if I'm not mistaken Mr. Kid Thief," Riddler spoke. "You don't have the Revenant Elephant on you, do you?" Kaitou Kid grinned. "What's it mean to you either way?" The Riddler did not reply. "So tell us, how do you plan on proving yourself to the world?" Kogoro rolled his eyes. "As far as I can tell it just seems to be you, and a handpicked trio of your choice. Not much of an audience." "Though it may seem that way now, once we begin you will see that isn't the case. Everyone will be invited." "All that has come from you is self-boasting and a bunch of noise," Kaitou Kid stated. He pumped his fists as if to accept the challenge. "How much longer do you plan on prolonging this dance of yours?" "We wait no further. Contestants, can I get your attention into the south/west direction of where you stand now?" All three of them complied. "Is there something in particular we should be seeing?" Kogoro asked. "Look afar, in that general area construction has been getting done for the past week. Workers on the site have gone home for the night." "So, what of it?" Kaitou Kid asked. The Riddler giggled. "We're going to start the game with a BANG!" In that instance transmission was cut off. Not a moment sooner a loud boom was heard, followed by an explosion, all of which came from the direction of the construction site. "NO WAY!" Kogoro yelled as he looked on in despair. The sound of screams and aguish carried with the wind. Kaitou Kid clutched his fists in disgust. The flames from the explosion burned hot in Batman's eyes, reminiscent of the fire within. "He won't get away with this," Kogoro declared. As it had before, all lights within the general area began to flicker. "Again?" And in the breath of the moment all electricity blacked out. "What the heck is going on?" Kaitou Kid questioned. Electricity returned after only four seconds of total darkness, but with it came a change. Every TV located in Tokyo was taken over, with every station playing one single thing. Using the zooming system within his cowl Batman was able to see exactly what it was, in view on a large screen on the side of a building was none other than the Riddler. "Nigma," Batman muttered. "Hello citizens of Tokyo and Gotham alike, for those of you who are unaware I am The Riddler. I would first like to apologize for interrupting your many programs. But I bring to you an important event, one of life or death!" … Just as those on the outside, the broadcast was visible for those who were inside. Conan's eyes were now locked onto the TV screen that hung from the ceiling in the gallery. Conan recognized him the moment Riddler's face appeared on the screen. "That's him, that's Eddy!" "My, this man heavily resembles Edward Nigma," Hiroshi noted. Conan looked up at him after hearing this. "Edward Nigma?" "He's the man whom I wanted to tell you about over the phone. Unfortunately the signal in this area was cut off for a time," Hiroshi replied. "Anyway, after doing some research on your behalf I came across an Edward Nigma in the criminal data base. Nigma-san resides in Gotham City, and given his background and appearance he fit the description that was given to me from you." "I see," Conan said before focusing back on the TV screen. By this time the Riddler began to speak once again. "By now I am sure some of you are aware of the explosions that just went off in your respected locations. I wonder who could have been responsible for that? OH!" Riddler raised his hand. "That would be me. Don't worry, no one was hurt. At least not intentionally." Jirokichi who held the TV remote in hand attempted to change the channel, when he did he came to find the Riddler once again. He switched through several channels only to find him on every single one. "This clown is on every damn channel! What the hell is going on?!" "Listen up gentlemen and ladies, stack on in, because the show is about to begin! Tonight's main event will feature Tokyo's so called greatest detective, the thief boy in white whose hands cling to whatever the desired may be, and Gotham City's very own Dark Knight." Riddler then rubbed his hands together in excitement. "I have a game for our contestants to compete in, one which will showcase their worth, or.. lack thereof. If each of them are to successfully complete the trials given to them, the game will be over. You all will be able to return to your daily lives." "I knew it, Kid is in on this as well," Jirokichi stated. "What happens if one of them fails?" Mitsuhiko questioned. Riddler would soon answer just that. "Now in the case that anyone of these three fail to complete their given puzzle, I will set off more explosions," Riddler dispensed. He grinned evilly. "Oh, and this time casualties would be a guarantee." Jirokichi crossed his arms over his chest. "It's a bluff, no way he is telling the truth." "I don't believe that is the case," a security guard standing behind said. Jirokichi turned around after hearing this. "What's that?" "I just received word from the unit on the roof of an explosion south/west of here. So there might just be some weight to his words." "Dammit," Jirokichi hissed before looking back toward the TV. Riddler didn't stop there. "But why should we let them have all of the fun? To make this once in a life time event special I'm going to allow three special civilians to get in on the action. Now listen closely. Each of our three contestants are wearing communication devices that are strapped around their wrists, all of which are different colors," Riddler relayed to the wider audience. "Here's the important part. There are three more of these devices, all identical to the ones the investigator, the kid, and the knight are wearing." Conan's eyes narrowed. "What is he getting at?" "For those of you who reside in Gotham, two of the three are located in the city, you just have to find them," Riddler informed. "The final one is located in Tokyo somewhere. The investigator, the kid, and the knight are the only three who are forbidden from attempting to find the remaining three." "What makes this man think anyone is going to play this game of his?" questioned Haibara. "Let me guess, there are those of you asking.. why would we want to participate?" Riddler laughed at the thought of it. "Well that's quite simple, because if those wrist band communicators aren't found in ten minutes, there will be more explosions to come!" "Guess that answers that," Haibara said. "Now, now.. it would only be fair if I gave you a hint as to where they are located," Riddler said. "The thief stands atop the face of the past that holds two hands over looking all.. What is it that the thief takes that becomes poison to his hands?.. The thief then proceeds to take from the ruins of the past." "What kind of hints are those?" Jirokichi said throwing his hands into the air. "Here is what is going to happen, whoever the lucky winners are to find the hidden wristbands will place them on. This will of course link you directly to one of the three contestants; you will simply serve as their support in this game. Isn't it just grand?! There is no telling which one of you will find them. It could be you, or possibly even the person standing next to you!" Riddler exclaimed. "Before I go there is one final thing I feel I must share with all of you." Reaching down to his side, Riddler held up a small device in hand for all watching the broadcast to see. "As to make sure all of you are aware, this is what the devices in question look like." Conan's eyes became wide the moment he laid eyes on it. After a couple of seconds the Riddler dropped the device back down to his side. "Now without further ado, let the hunt begin!" Not a moment later the Riddler blacked out from the screen, replaced by a green colored question mark and a ten minute count down directly below it. "This is absurd!" yelled Jirokichi. With not a moment to spare Conan turned into the direction of the exit before sprinting off yet again. "Conan-kun, where are you going?!" Hiroshi called. Not once did Conan look back on his departure. "Hey guys, shouldn't we follow him?" Mitsuhiko questioned. "No, we will stay here for now," Hiroshi declined. "I'm certain Conan-kun will return as soon as he can." "I hope he'll be ok." Ayumi was now worried. "It looked like something was wrong." Unknown to them Damian watched on attentively from a far corner of the room. "What is that boy up to now?" …. Even where they stood on the rooftop, they had heard everything. "This Riddler friend of yours really wants to prove his point," Kaitou Kid stated. Batman who was focused on the streets below finally turned his focus back to the two who accompanied him. "The authorities are scrambling down there as we speak. No doubt they'll attempt to find the Riddler's location." "Do you believe they will?" "Nigma won't make it easy." Batman then made way to the other side of the roof. Seeing this Kogoro felt the need to say something. "Hey, where are you going?" Batman did not reply. Once he was a safe distance away he made the call. "Alfred." "I was expecting you would check in soon." "The Riddler just broadcasted a message to all citizens of Tokyo, Japan-" "A recording that was received here in Gotham as well sir," Alfred reported. His thoughts were now confirmed. "Riddler set off an explosion south/west of where I am," Batman informed. "Did the same occur in Gotham?" "That would be correct. Fortunately no one was hurt." "Where?" "Robbinsville," Alfred conveyed. "An abandoned apartment complex was the selected target." "Robbinsville.." There was a long pause. "That's north/east." "Is there something to that?" ".. Maybe. We have less than ten minutes Alfred to find the three communicators, two of which are located in Gotham." "Master Grayson is already on the task. I'll patch you into him right now." Letting a couple seconds pass Batman spoke. "Nightwing." "Yo," Nightwing dispatched. "Alfred says you're handling situation involving the Riddler's challenge." "No better man for the job." "Where are you now?" "I'm on my way to the Gotham museum," Nightwing informed. "The same museum Kaitou Kid broke into on his trip here." "Do you believe that is where the Riddler has hidden one of the communicators?" "I have no doubt about it. I mean, think about it. The final hint the Riddler gave about the location of one of the communicators was; The thief then proceeds to take from the ruins of the past," Dick ran down. "First thing that needs to be taken into consideration, the thief. Given the circumstances I believe the 'thief' is referencing none other than our boy Kaitou. After all he's tied directly into all of this." "Agreed." "And where can you find ruins of the past? A museum is the first place you'd look. Kaitou Kid took from the Gotham Museum, that has to be where Riddler has hidden one of his devices." Nightwing was almost certain of this. "Nightwing, how much longer until you reach the museum?" "Six minutes no sweat." "Good, contact me once you've reached the museum." "What about the other communicators?" "I'll worry about them. You just focus on the one." Not wasting anytime Batman made another call to one of his other allies. "Damian, it's me. I believe I know where the communicator located in Tokyo is, so listen up." On the other side of the roof, Kaitou Kid and Kogoro were on the same topic. "Thief… the Riddler must have been referring to me in his hints," Kaitou Kid assumed. "Well, that's good for us," Kogoro said. "That means you should have a good idea for where he has hidden them all." "I would like to believe that, but.." "But what?" "The thief stands atop the face of the past that holds two hands over looking all. That is the first hint the Riddler gave for the whereabouts for one of the communicators." "So? What of it?" "I'm not sure what it could possibly be referring-" "Wait a minute, face that holds two hands.." Kaitou Kid looked over at him. "Have you figured something out?" It snapped in Kogoro's head at that moment. "A clock," Kogoro stated. "A clock has two hands and a face. That must be it." "That leaves the last part of the hint; overlooking all." Kaitou Kid gave some thought to the matter. "That's it, overlooking all! The NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building, that is the largest clock tower in all of Japan. That has to be where Riddler has placed one of the communicators." Kogoro shook his head in disagreement. "That's not right." Confusion found way to the Kid thief's face. "You disagree?" "You're forgetting that bell tower is not the tallest structure in Japan, how then can it overlook all? The Abeno Harukas building in Osaka owns that title. Even here in Tokyo alone the Toranomon Hills is the tallest standing structure," Kogoro stated. "You're right." Kaitou Kid was bummed. He then looked into the direction of Batman. "So if not the bell tower here in Tokyo, then maybe?" Kogoro too looked to the Dark Knight. "Yes, perhaps the hint was referring to one of the communication devices in Gotham City." "Heya Bats!" called Kaitou Kid. "I think there is something you need to hear." Walking back over, Batman rejoined the two. "What is it?" "The thief stands atop the face of the past that holds two hands over looking all," Kogoro said. "We believe that the Riddler was hinting at a-" "Clock tower?" Batman interjected, showing he had visited the same possibility. Kogoro nodded. "Yes." "The clock tower located in Gotham is far from being the tallest building in Gotham. The same can be said for the Yoyogi Building located here in Tokyo, which also happens to be the second tallest clock tower in the world." Kogoro was impressed. "You really know your stuff." "So if the Riddler's hint isn't referring to a clock tower, then what?" Kaitou Kid questioned. Batman placed a hand under his chin as he thought hard on the matter. "The thief stands atop the face of the past.. past. Past is the key word." Kaitou Kid was curious. "What makes you say that?" "The Riddler is hinting at a location that overlooks all, something that did in the past that is." It was now starting to come together. "That holds two hands over looking all. Two hands, the past.. the present. That's it." "What's it?" Kogoro asked. "Have you figured it out?" Batman faced him. "The hands the Riddler was referring to are a representation of time, not a clock. One hand represents the past, the other represents the present." "So where is the communicator located?" Kaitou Kid asked. There was now an assured look to be found on Batman's face. "Gotham City, the old Wayne Tower," Batman said. "While it may not be the tallest building in Gotham now, it was for a long time. It was built as a symbol to welcome anyone entering the city." "Overlooking all.. sounds like we have our place," Kaitou Kid agreed. A questioning look then came to Kaitou Kid's face. "That's strange, I've never been to the old Wayne tower. I thought every place the Riddler hid those devices had something to do with me." Batman stepped aside once again before making a call. "Nightwing, it's me. I need a status update." "Perfect timing," Nightwing cheerfully replied. "I've got it Batman. Riddler's device was in the exact spot Kaitou Kid stole the Revenant Warriors from. Never imagined it was going to be yellow. Not exactly my type of color." "Nightwing, you need to place the device on your wrist," Batman instructed. "That is the only way it will become activated." "Gotcha." Nightwing did as asked of him. The moment he did Kogoro's wrist communicator vibrated. "What was that?" "Nightwing, I know where the other communicator located in Gotham is," Batman informed. "I want you to send one of the others to go and retrieve it." "Babs is way across town, and Stephanie is unavailable. Which leaves only Cassandra , and given that we're dealing with the Riddler she wouldn't be much help," Nightwing stated. "Robin is with you, and everyone else is out of the city right now." "Not to worry Master Bruce." "Alfred?" "I've been listening in. I already contacted one of your outside allies," Alfred informed. "While he certainly wouldn't have been your first choice, I contacted him for the very fact that we're dealing with time here." "Flash.." "That's right, no way are you guys going to be able to tackle this without me," Flash radioed. "Why not hand me the MVP award while we're at it?" "Flash, how far away from Wayne Tower are you?" "Be there in.. here," Flash reported. Seconds went by before the speedster spoke again. "Got it. Looks like I found Mr. Riddler's device. So, all have to do is place it on right?" "Yes." In that instance Kaitou Kid's communication bracelet vibrated just as Kogoro's had. "Looks like I'm all good to go." The Kid Thief then directed his attention to Batman. "I overheard you talking. Mind telling me who I'm going to be collaborating with?" Batman looked at him before turning away once again. "Flash." "Flash, as in THE Flash?" there was a genuine anticipation that carried in his voice. "One and only," Flash spoke from the other end of the device. "That just leaves the final communicator," Batman said. "That must mean the final one is here in Gotham," Kogoro noted. "The remaining hint; 'What is it that the thief takes that becomes poison to his hands?' That is the hint the Riddler gave for his communicator device located here in Tokyo. But what does it mean?" Kogoro turned focus to Kaitou Kid. "All of these riddles seem to be centered on you in some kind of way," Kogoro pointed out. "If there is any of us who might know where the last-" "I believe I do," Batman announced. All attention drew his way. "You do?" Kogoro questioned. "If that is so, then shouldn't we-" "Someone is already in pursuit of it," Batman assured. Kogoro checked his watch. "We have less than four minutes before the deadline." He then turned attention back to Batman. "This is my daughter's life on the line, I don't like being kept in the dark. If you know where the final communicator is I would like to know. For all we know you could be wrong about its location." The moments those words escaped Kogoro's lips Batman's wrist device vibrated, confirming that someone had found and placed the final communicator on. Batman looked Kogoro dead in the eyes. "Will there be anything else?" Kogoro huffed before turning away. Batman then proceeded to walk away from the two once again. "There he goes again," Kaitou Kid asked. When no response came the Kid Thief simply snapped a finger. "Huuhph, I bet he's really popular with the ladies." Once he felt enough distance had been put between him and the pair Batman came to a stop. "Good work Robin," Batman radioed. A casual laugh came in response. This prompted him to raise a brow. "Robin?" "I don't know this Robin whom you speak of, but I can assure you I am no bird." Batman did not recognize the voice. "Who is this?" the Caped Crusader narrowed his eyes ever so slightly. "Ace Detective," the voice of a teenage boy responded. "Kudo, Shinichi." To Be Continued
  17. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 16 The Treble? How much time passed since Shinichi departed? It had been at least ten minutes by Haibara's account. "He hasn't called." She stared down at her phone in hand. Why had he chosen to follow Kogoro instead of going after Kaitou Kid? Couldn't he have simply placed a tracer on Kogoro? And above all other things why had Shinichi been so confident with Jirokichi words of confidence in regards to Kid? She became growingly anxious by the minute. Just what was Detective Conan planning? "Haibara!" Hearing her name called Ai looked over her shoulder to find her peers walking towards her. "Finally, we found her!" Ayumi said. Dr. Agasa and the rest of her friends approached as well. "Where is Conan?" asked Genta who looked around curiously. "He went to the bathroom," Haibara quickly responded. "He should be back anytime now." "What happened to Kaitou Kid? Did they catch him?" "I don't know," Haibara answered. "No one seems to know," noted Mitsuhiko. She looked over at him. "What do you mean?" Haibara asked. "In the past minute or so I heard some claim that Kaitou Kid is on the roof while others stated he escaped on his glider along with what he came here to take." "I got it!" shouted Genta who raised his hand. With all eyes now on him he continued. "Maybe he escaped, and then.. he came back!" Mitsuhiko narrowed his eyes, clearly unconvinced. "Why would he leave only to come back if he knows the police would be waiting for him?" Genta rubbed the top of his head. "Hmmm, I didn't really give that too much thought." A short time later an additional group of officers entered the room. This was something that caught their attention. Leading the charge was none other than Inspector Ginzo. "He's back," Haibara noted. This was unexpected. "But why so soon?" "Hurry, everyone to the roof!" Ginzo ordered. "We have him cornered! He won't get away this time!" "But what if he retreats? There is always the chance he manages to make his way back through here." one of the officers pointed out. "If he attempts it he'll be in for a surprise when he reaches the lobby." Ginzo was sure of this. "Come, we don't have a moment to spare!" The group lead by Inspector Ginzo charged off just as fast as they had arrived. "They must be referring to Kaitou Kid. So, he's on the roof after all," Haibara realized. "If so, could that be where Shinichi is as well?" There was only one way of finding out. Pulling out her phone Haibara made the call. It rang and rang. There was no answer. She attempted to call for a second time. When no one picked up she placed the phone back into her pocket. It was not like him not to answer unless something was wrong. "Shinichi, just what is it you're planning?" "Hey guys, we should follow them," suggested Genta whose eyes fell in line with the officers who were storming towards the elevators. "I don't think they will mind if we tag along." "Yay! I want to see Kid too!" Ayumi was all for the idea. "As promising as that may sound I don't think we will be allowed to up there. After all they're trying to catch him, allowing spectators onto the roof that would only complicate things," Mitsuhiko explained. "Then how are we supposed to get a close up look at Kaitou Kid?" Genta asked. "We might not get that opportunity." "If he does manage to escape there is also the possibility that he'll swing by on his glider from window side," Hiroshi noted. Without hesitation the three of them skipped over to the window. "Let's go!" Ayumi yelled. This left only Hiroshi and Haibara who stood down at his side. Now that it was just the two of them he leaned down before calling to her. "Ai." Turning, she glanced up at him. "What is it?" "Shinichi, where is he?" Hiroshi asked. "I suspect he didn't truly go to the bathroom?" "He went after detective Mouri," Haibara confirmed. "Mouri-kun is here?" This was unexpected. "He was," Haibara corrected. "He left a short time ago. Our very own ace detective decided following him was the best move to make." "You don't sound convinced." Haibara shrugged. "It doesn't matter what I think." "And do you know where they went?" "I do not." "That's too bad, I was hoping to give him an update on the information I pulled while searching." Haibara looked at him questioningly. "For which search?" "Oh, sorry for not being specific," Hiroshi apologized. "Ever since we arrived I've been continuing the search I began back at the house. I have been trying to determine who Eddy truly is?" "I see. And have you any luck?" "No, at least not yet," Hiroshi replied. "There is simply too many names in the data base to try and determine who our guy is in such a short amount of time." "Then we'll simply have to increase our odds," replied Haibara. An uncertain look came on his face. "Increase our odds? By what do you mean?" "Eddy, could be short for Edward. So try searching using that name," Haibara began. "Given what we know about the kidnapper regarding his twisting approach in the form of riddles, there's a chance he could have a background in psychology, anthropology, or possibly even sociology. All which fall under the field of social science, something I believe paints a partial picture of the man we're looking for." "I will register those details to the search," Hiroshi said taking mind of her every word. "Also, check for anyone fitting that profile who may also have a criminal record," Haibara added. "If this man was willing to kidnap Ran in the fashion that he did, who's to say he hasn't attempted something similar before? A man like this is bound to have a record of some kind." "Will do," nodded Hiroshi. "I'll contact Shinichi and let him know about any progress that is made." "Perhaps you'll have better luck than I," remarked Haibara, implying she had already attempted to do the same. There was something wrong about all of this. She didn't know what, but she was determined to find out. Haibara held up the written message in hand, knowing these were the key words for unlocking the truth. "What am I missing?" ….. Since the bright light in the form of a question mark appeared in the sky all activity on the rooftop of the Midtown Tower had seized. "Commander, what is that up there?" "I am uncertain." What happened next was even more unexpected. In the breath of a moment power throughout the city within a square mile shut off, bringing an instant darkness. Kaitou Kid's eyes widened. "What the heck is going on?" He didn't allow this situation to stun him for long, knowing this was an opportunity that could not be ignored. "Now's my chance." Before Kid had the chance to attempt his escape his left arm was grabbed tightly. "As I said before, you're not going anywhere." Kaitou Kid rolled his eyes in moderate annoyance. "Can I get a Rain check for this little talk of ours? Because I really have somewhere I need to be." In that instance something wrapped not only around Kid, but the officer next to him. The two were now tied together. In a burst of energy the Kid hief attempted to rip free from what bounded him. "What is this.. some kind of rope?" No matter how hard he struggled he was unable to escape. In a matter of a second Kaitou Kid felt the ground fall beneath him, or was it that he had been pulled into the air? It was exhilarating, exciting even. There was nothing to hear, nor anything to see in that moment. Everything had fallen blank. After about ten seconds sitting in darkness all electricity that had burned out returned in the blink of an eye. "What was that all about?" one of the officers wondered. "Your guess is as good as any of us," spoke another. It was only at that moment that it was realized that their target was missing. "Kaitou Kid, he's gone! He must be the one who was behind that entire fiasco!" the commander yelled. The following moment the door to the roof was kicked open as Inspector Ginzo and his unit finally made their appearance. Taking a quick look he was unable to spot the target. "Where is he?!" Ginzo immediately asked. "Where is Kaitou Kid?" "We don't know. There was a sudden blackout, and once all the lights came back on he was gone." An enquiring look came to the inspector's face. "Black out?" "Yes, a portion of the city's electricity just short circuited right before you arrived." Ginzo rolled his eyes. "No doubt Kid was behind it." Either way, he was not about to let him get away. "Make contact with the guys on ground level. No matter what, he will not escape! Not this time!" ….. The darkness that had blinded everything to the eye was now gone. His sight was now clear as ever. But where was he now? Kaitou Kid now lying on his side was still bounded back to back with the officer that had confronted him before. He slightly moved his head up to see they were on a rooftop, just not the Midtown Tower. But how did they end up here? Kaitou Kid attempted to move. The moment he did a dark shadow casted over him as he heard his imposing voice. "Up." Not a second more Kaitou Kid was forcefully lifted to his feet, coming face to face with the dark knight yet again. "Fancy meeting you here," Kaitou Kid remarked. "Who's there," the officer with his back now to the two asked. "Who are you talking to Kid? And why are we tied up?!" Ignoring his words Batman addressed the man in white. "You and I need to talk. Once you tell me what I want to know, I'm handing you over to the authorities." "What a way to warm the mood," Kaitou Kid replied. "No! I will not allow Kid to be handed over to the authorities! I need him, my daughter's life depends on it!" Hearing the announced Batman's focus turned to the officer tied to Kaitou. There was distress heard in his voice, coupled in with his heavy breathing there was no denying the truth behind his words. With the two still tied together Batman flipped the two to where he was now facing the police officer who jumped in immediate fright. "A giant BAT! What.. WHO ARE YOU?!" "I was hoping to ask the same of you officer?" Batman responded softly. He was hoping this would calm him, even if only a little. As his heart beat gradually dropped back to normal levels he responded. "Now I see, you.. you're that bat character I've heard stories about. You're the Man-Bat! I thought for sure you were nothing more than a rumor." "You said your daughter's life depends on Kaitou Kid. Who are you?" When he didn't respond Batman reached forward, stripping the helmet from his head to reveal the man beneath. "Kogoro Mouri." Now exposed, Kogoro stared up into the eyes of the dark knight as an expression of surprise formed on his face. ".. You know me?" "You're a private investigator," Batman began. He was curious about the circumstances surrounding his current situation. "You're not obligated to wear this uniform. So why are you dressed like someone from the Division 2 unit?" "Just who the hell are you?" "Someone willing to help, but I'll need your cooperation." Kogoro lowered his head, a clear indication he did not wish to speak on the matter. "You mentioned your daughter, where is she detective?" Batman inquired. Kogoro began to shake, slowly looking up as he locked eyes with him for a second time. He said nothing, simply staring on as if to look through him. "Listen," Batman said leaning inward. "I can't help unless you talk to me. Where is your daughte-" "That son of a bitch has her!" Kogoro erupted in a heat of emotion. In that moment Batman realized three things; Kogoro's daughter had been kidnapped, the situation was in some way tied to Kaitou Kid, and given Kogoro's outburst time could very well be running out. But for what? This only left the obvious to ask. "Talk to me detective, who has her?" … Back in the art gallery several feet below Haibara held the riddle in hand, reading over it time after time. "The silver blade placed into your chest I pull out into creation of Gold. Come tomorrow's fall of dawn the Gold shall flow with waves towards its destination of multiply. Bring to me the Light of whose hands are unclean to which he touches. Midnight's deadline waits at the Eye and Hand overlooking all." With each additional read, the closer she felt to closing in on the truth which seemed to be within arm's reach. She looked up after hearing laughter from someone near. It was none other than Jirokichi. "What has him so upbeat?" Haibara wondered. A confident look came on Jirokichi's face as he took to the center of the room. "It's time." Reaching down he pulled out a square shaped device that had been stashed away in his pocket. "Now Kid, let's see where you are." Haibara continued to look on from a short distance away. "What is that he's holding?" That was a question that would soon be answered. Raising the device, Jirokichi slid a finger across the top of it, which in turn powered it on. After doing so Jirokichi smiled as he raised a hand, signaling to the officer standing a few feet away. After noticing his gesture the woman in uniform approached. "What is it?" she enquired. "Kaitou Kid is heading in the direction of Fuji Xerox," Jirokichi informed. "What? Are you sure?" "Unknown to Kid or anyone else I placed a tracer on the Elephant Revenant, in a place Kid would not expect," Jirokichi relayed. "Contact Inspector Ginzo, it's time to collect." "Fuji Xerox is in the west of Midtown," she noted. "I'll send out the word right away." "Excellent," said Jirokichi in response. He stood in patience, his grin only widening as he waited for the message to be passed. It didn't take long for the officer to look back at Jirokichi, shaking her head as she did. "It's no good." "No good? What are you talking about?" "This walkie talkie is out of juice, I'll go and grab another." Following this she dismissed herself. Haibara who still stood near heard everything that had been spoken between the two. Could it be that Conan and Kogoro were in pursuit of him? Were they too in the west side of Midtown? She reached down, contemplating on whether she should try calling Conan for a second time. It was also at that moment that Hiroshi voiced an excitement. "I think I have something," Hiroshi announced. Haibara turned immediate attention to him. "What is it?" Hiroshi looked her straight in the eyes. "We have him," Hiroshi replied. "I believe I know who has taken Ran-kun." …. The amount of time that passed since Conan departed the Midtown tower had become lost to him. There was only one thing that mattered, the objective. The end of the block was now within sight. He repositioned himself on the skateboard he stood upon for the turn that he would soon make. The next second brought the tune of a ring. "My phone." Coming to a complete stop Conan took the call. "Haibara." "Shinichi, where are you?" "I'm a few blocks away from the Fujifilm building," replied Conan. "That's in the west side of Midtown," Haibara noted. "As I suspected, you're in pursuit of Kaitou Kid." "..Huh? No, that's not why I'm here," Conan replied. "What lead you to believe Kaitou Kid is heading in this direction?" This was not what she was expecting to hear. "Jirokichi-san secretly attached a tracer to the Elephant Revenant. So wherever Kid go's Jirokichi-san will be able to track his every-" Conan cut in. "Haibara, listen. Kaitou Kid doesn't have the Revenant Elephant." There was a sudden silence between the two. "What do you mean? You were here when he-" "I have it, the Elephant Revenant is with me," Conan finally revealed. "..What?" There was a pause. "What do you mean you have it? How did you get your hands on the Elephant Revenant?" "Look, it's a long story. We don't have much time," Conan stated. "Is Dr. Agasa with you?" "He is," Haibara confirmed. "Has he made any progress with the search? Has he compiled a list of names for potential suspects?" "Yes," Haibara was pleased to announce. "There is one man in partic^^^ that we believe mi^^t be the one. His name, E^wa^d ^^ma." "Haibara, you're breaking up," Conan said. "Can you repeat what you just-" Before he could convey his message the connection between the two was lost. Conan immediately tried to call her back. When the call failed to go through he lowered the phone down to his side. "Dammit," he hissed under his breath. Conan's focus then turned to the matter that had been brought to his attention. Dropping down to a knee he slid the bag sitting on his shoulder off. Reaching inside he pulled out the Elephant Revenant. "Haibara said the old man planted a tracer on this elephant somewhere. I need to find and remove it," Conan said. From first glance he didn't see anything that remotely resembled a tracer. But he knew it was there, and he was determined to find it. "No matter what, I can't let them get their hands on Revenant Elephant." ….. There was uncertainty, hesitation, fear even. All emotion had to be set aside. He knew this all too well. After a long pause, Kogoro finally spoke. "He introduced himself as Eddy, the kidnapper." "Eddy.. could it be?" A picture was now being painted. "You came face to face with the man who took your daughter?" Batman asked. Kogoro nodded in confirmation. "He stopped by my detective agency yesterday," Kogoro began. "Just like any normal customer, he scheduled an appointment for us to meet. When he arrived he described to me a problem that had been brought to his attention." "Tell me everything." Taking a moment to rehash yesterday's meeting Kogoro began from the beginning. "So according to Eddy he had a friend whose daughter was kidnapped, it was told to me that her name was Nar." "What about this friend that was mentioned?" Batman asked. "Was he ever given a name?" "Eddy called him 'Adam' for the sake of discussion. His real name was never given. I then went on to ask him if he had any idea who the killer might be," Kogoro explained. "To which he replied he had no clue. By his own word Eddy referred to the kidnapper as Goliath." "For the sake of discussion," Batman figured. Kogoro nodded. "My left pocket, can you take out what's inside?" the detective requested. Given that Kogoro was tied up and unable to reach for it himself Batman complied. Reaching in, a silver envelope was removed. "What is this?" Batman wondered. Opening the envelope he slid out a folded piece of paper that was inside. Unwrapping the page his eyes fell upon what appeared to be a scramble of random letters. "It's a written message, however it is written-" "Backwards," Batman cut off. "Ho.. how did you know?" Using the cowls lenses Batman reversed his vision of view to where he could now clearly read understand the message. "The silver blade placed into your chest I pull out into creation of Gold. Come tomorrow's fall of dawn the Gold shall flow with waves towards its destination of multiply. Bring to me the Light of whose hands are unclean to which he touches. Midnight's deadline waits at the Eye and Hand overlooking all." After reading the message aloud there was no doubt in Batman's mind who they were dealing with. "Nigma.." He then turned eye back to Kogoro. "This is a riddle. When did you receive this letter?" "Eddy brought it with him when we met for the first time," Kogoro replied. "He claimed that his 'friend' found it posted on his window sometime yesterday morning." Batman looked down at the riddle for a second time, analyzing each point on their own merit. "Midnight's deadline, no doubt referring to twelve tonight considering this riddle was handed to you yesterday." "I gathered that much as well," Kogoro agreed. Batman faced Kogoro once more. "Detective, when was the last time you saw your daughter?" Kogoro took a few moments to think about that before finally responding. "The last time I saw her was yesterday night, right before she went to bed," Kogoro recalled. "And while I didn't see her this morning, I did hear when she got up to go to school.. which she never made it to." A time table was now set for when Ran was taken. It was only at this moment that Kaitou Kid finally forced himself back into the equation. "I don't get it. What does any of this have to do with me?" "Bring to me the Light of whose hands are unclean to which he touches." Batman read that line for a third time before addressing Kogoro. "Detective Mouri, am I right to assume this is the line which prompted you to seek out Kaitou Kid?" Kogoro was surprised, impressed even to discover how fast Batman was able to deduce that very fact. "Who the hell are you? Some kind of detective?" "So let me get this straight," Kaitou Kid said trying to look at everything as a big picture. "The reasoning behind this creep kidnapping your daughter was nothing more than a scheme to drive you into capturing me?" Just as Kogoro was to reply Batman cut in. "It's not that simple." "What do you mean it's not that simple?" Sidestepping the enquired Batman asked a question of his own. "Tell me, how did you learn that your daughter was kidnapped?" His heart began to race as his mind fell back to that moment. "I received a package in the mail addressed to me from Eddy," Kogoro informed. "It was to be expected. When Eddy and I initially met he didn't bring with him any photos of the girl he claimed had been kidnapped." "And you didn't find that strange?" A brief silence ensued. "The package arrived at the agency this morning. To my despair I found photos not of someone of unfamiliarity, but of my very own daughter." Kogoro's fists tightened. "From the very beginning Eddy's visit was nothing more than a foreshadow for what had yet to occur. How.. how could I have not seen it?!" Irritation began to fuel as Kogoro attempted to break free. "Untie me, you have to! The longer I remain staggered here the closer the deadline-" Before Kogoro had the chance to finish his thoughts the phone sitting in his right pocket began to ring. "That tune, that's Ran's phone." "Ran? Is that the name of your daughter?" Kogoro nodded. "You have her phone?" This was not something Batman was expecting to learn. "Did she not have it with her when she left for school?" "She did," Kogoro replied. "If that is so, then how have you ended up with it?" "After I learned of her disappearance I logically went to search for her," Kogoro replied. "Eddy had made it clear Ran would be harmed if I involved the police, so I was on my own." "Where and how did you come across the phone after you set out to search?" This was a crucial detail in his mind. Surely the location where the phone was found was also where she had been abducted? "Her phone, I found it sitting on a bench at a bus stop. The thing is I didn't even notice it at first," Kogoro admitted. "I actually walked by, it was only after hearing the phone ring that I became aware of it. I recognized the ring tone, it was the same as-" "Your daughter's," Batman concluded. Kogoro nodded. "I walked over to the bench, and there it was," Kogoro said referring to the phone. "Under a magazine that had been set on top of it." This brought more questions to the forefront. "I doubt it was left there by accident," said Batman. "It felt almost too convenient," Kogoro agreed. "For the phone to ring just after I arrived.. he must have been close." "Who was the call from?" Kogoro shook his head. "The call came from an unknown number," informed Kogoro. "Of course I tried calling back, no one responded. However, almost a minute later I received a text message from the same unknown number. It read 'To obtain the sought, bring to me the treble who oppose El Acertijo'. I can't even begin to understand what any of it means." "If the message is directed at you, then we can assume the sought is your daughter right?" Kaitou Kid spoke from behind. "That still doesn't account for everything else," Kogoro stated. Making a move forward Batman reached into Kogoro's pocket to remove Ran's phone. "Hey, what are you doing?!" exclaimed Kogoro. Ignoring his words Batman raised the phone as he stepped back. He opened the newest message received, his eyes slightly narrowing at what he saw. "What does it say?" Kogoro was anxious to know. Lowering the phone Batman responded. "Come and get me." "Come and get me?" confusion arose. "That's what the message says?" "Seems rather direct compared to the rest of his written messages," noted Kaitou Kid. "Perhaps there is more to it?" Batman's thoughts fell back to the first text message Kogoro received upon discovering the phone. "To obtain the sought, bring to me the treble who oppose El Acertijo." It was now time to break it down. "Treble, if we look at it objectively means consisting of three parts which could amount to something bigger. As a noun it would be referring to a number in regards to quantity, which in this case would be three. If looked at as a verb or pronoun the meaning can differ slightly, but the common denominator remains the same." "Which is?" Kogoro asked. "A collection of three, a trio if you will," Batman explained. "The mentioned treble is directly followed by the announcement of a El Acertijo. In Latin America and Mexico El Acertijo in literal terms means 'The Riddle'." "The riddle?" questioned Kogoro. "That makes no sense. Is he referring to himself?" "It's not that simple, it never is with him," Batman stated. Kogoro caught on to the inner meaning of his words. "That would seem to imply that you know who the kidnapper is?" Carrying on Batman ignored Mouri's comments. "Detective, did you consider the possibility that Kaitou Kid wasn't the only thing that the kidnapper took an interest in?" "What are you trying to say?" Kogoro asked. "Kid isn't the only target," Batman declared. "You are as well." "What?! Me?!" "The man who has your daughter, there are three things he seeks.. the treble," Batman explained. "Both you and Kid make up two thirds of this treble." "Oh kay then.. who is the third?" Kaitou Kid questioned. "That I have yet to determine," admitted Batman. "You didn't answer my question before," Kogoro said staring deep into his eyes. "The man who has my daughter… Do you know who he is?" To Be Continued
  18. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 15 Signal in the Sky As fast as the gas had come, it withered away just as swiftly. Lowering his arm back to his side Conan looked toward the glass case to discover the expected. "It's gone.." "Inspector Ginzo! The Elephant Revenant has been taken!" an officer alerted. "You don't think I can see that?!" Ginzo exploded in response. "Alert everyone on standby, let them know Kid has made his move!" "Yes sir!" Ginzo then turned to another officer who stood nearby. "Send a call to the chopper, I want eyes on the roof as well." "Will do." Jirokichi who was near came to his side, showing a look of unconcern on his face. Ginzo was surprised by this. "Is there something you would like to share with me?" Ginzo asked. The smirk on Jirokichi's face widened. "Tonight is going to be different, that is a certainty." He took another step forward. "He can run, but no matter how far he goes.. he will not be able to hide." "What do you mean? Forgive me for not understanding," Ginzo apologized. "What is so different about tonight than any other time we've attempted to apprehend Kid?" Glancing over his shoulder with a bold of confidence Jirokichi replied. "You'll see." Standing a short distance away Haibara listened to every word that was spoken between the two. With their conversation seemingly coming to a close she turned to Conan whose attention was focused elsewhere. "Shinichi.." When he didn't respond she tugged him. "Hey, are you ok?" Finally acknowledging her, Conan responded. "Sorry about that, it's Kogoro." "What's he doing?" Haibara asked looking across the room herself. Both watched as Kogoro made his way toward the exit. "He's leaving." "He's going after Kid," Conan noted. "Only reinforcing that detective Mouri has figured out what Edy wants," Haibara concluded. "Haibara I want you to stay here for now," Conan voiced. "So, you're going after him?" she paused given the circumstances. "Not that I want to question the decision, but what about Kaitou Kid?" "Kogoro is just as important to the puzzle as anyone else, we need eyes on him too," Conan explained. "Whatever Edy has planned both he and Kid are main factors to his hidden agenda. I believe there is going to be a crash course where everything Edy has set in play comes crashing-" "Together?" "Exactly." "You're leaving too much to chance," Haibara argued. "You still haven't determined how you're going to hand Kaitou Kid over to Edy, let alone catch him." Conan grinned as his head swayed in the direction of Jirokichi who stood a short distance away. "Like the old man said, tonight is going to be different." From this Haibara knew there was something more going on then she knew. Not wanting to waste any more time Conan followed Kogoro who had since made way to the exit. "Haibara, you will hear from me soon," Conan promised as he departed. She watched as he walked, knowing if there was anyone who could uncover the truth behind what awaited them it would be him. "It's all up to you Shinichi." … It was now a showdown of two knights. Since locking sight neither had shed an eye. The two studied each other with high intent, calculating what the other would do given the circumstances. A strong wind blew in from the east, streaming from behind Kaitou Kid into the direction of Batman. Kid's most viable option of escape was covered, he knew it and so did the opposition. Towards the right a handful of barrels could be seen lined up against one another. Could he possibly use them as a distraction to make an opening? There had to be another means for departure. Things were only going to get more complicating. From beneath their approach echoed from the ground. "The stairwell.. they're coming." How many officers were in pursuit? Ten? Twenty? It was now his move to make. Breathing nervously through his gritted teeth he knew whatever he was to do needed to happen soon. Without warning a bright light appeared from above. Raising his head, Kaitou Kid sighted a helicopter hanging from a distance above. "And here I didn't think this situation could get any more complex." Looking back across Batman was nowhere to be found. "What.. Gone?" Not a second more the door to the roof was kicked open as several armed police officers stormed the rooftop. "This is it Kid thief, you're completely surrounded and with no way out," dispatched a woman from the helicopter above. "Get down on your knees and place your hands behind your head!" A smirk formed on Kaitou Kid's face. "No way out she says." He took this as a challenge. Turning his back to the officers Kid raced toward the opposite end of the roof, dropping down a trio of smoke bombs as he did to cloud his movement from all others. "Jii-chan, release the glider," Kaitou Kid radioed. "It's time." "Will do young master," Konosuke dispatched in return. Not far behind many police officials stayed in pursuit of him. "Stay on him! Kaitou Kid must not be allowed to escape!" … Knowledge from what was going on above reached the art room in a short amount of time. "Inspector, Inspector Nakamori! We have an update on Kid!" Hearing this Ginzo turned around. "Where is he?" "Well, he was on the roof.. but he-" At that moment Ginzo caught sight of a certain white glider he knew all too well flying past the window on the far side of the room. "Damn! He's getting away!" Ginzo realized. "I want all available officers in our unit in pursuit!" "Yes sir!" Not a moment later laughter could be heard. Turning to his right Ginzo found Jirokichi who stood a few feet away. "I hardly see what is so humorous." "He can run, but he can't hide," Jirokichi reminded. "You said that before. When do you plan on revealing your master scheme?" He smiled. "Soon," promised Jirokichi. "Well." Ginzo turned for the other side of the room. "I don't plan on sticking around for that. I'm going after Kid." Ginzo raced toward the exit, accidently bumping into a man in a green dress suit as he ran. "Excuse me," Ginzo apologized. "I didn't see you there." "All is forgiven." Tipping his hat to the inspector the man in green proceeded to make a move toward the window as Ginzo moved past. Now in place the man in green peered out to see the glider fading into the distance afar. It was soon after that the expected buzz came to ear. "Everyone's favorite Jack clocking in," Jack said answering the call. "How may I be of service?" "The Boy Thief has made his move," Queen relayed. "We have all eyes on his glider." "As I can see for myself," Jack noted. "There's just one problem." "And that is?" "Our thermal goggles aren't picking up anything," Queen informed. Silence fell between them. "I see," Jack realized. "The Kid must have attached a decoy dummy to his glider.. clever. And since that appears to be the case, where is the beloved thief himself? One can only rationalize that he is still near." "Disguise is one of his known specialties," Queen reminded. "What are you trying to imply my lady?" "Only that the boy thief could very well be making his way back to you, given the circumstances," Queen hypothesized. "Keep in mind.. he could be anyone in that room." Turning away from the window Jack looked to those who still filled the room. "I'll retain a sharp eye," assured Jack. "The Revenant Elephant will fall to the Royal Flush Gang. That is my guarantee." … Conan trailed from a short distance behind. The objective was clear, following Kogoro without being spotted and ultimately determining what brought him to the Midtown Tower. The elevators were reached in those next moments. Kogoro decided to advance past them, opting to continue walking. Conan was surprised by this. "If he's not planning on leaving the building, then where is he going?" That was certainly something to question. Remaining silent Conan kept a safe distance behind Kogoro who he continued to follow. At the end of the hall Kogoro stopped after coming within range of a door. Checking to see if anyone was near the famous detective surveyed the area. Conan stepped behind a large trash bin when Kogoro's eyes traveled in his direction. "That was close." Peeking out Conan looked across the way to see Kogoro was now gone. "No doubt he walked through that door." Not wanting to fall too behind Conan hurried over. Once the door was reached he slowly opened it to discover what was on the other side. "A stairwell.." Conan stepped in, quietly closing the door behind. He looked to the staircase leading up and then to the path going down. In both cases there was no one in sight. "Which way did he go?" Not a moment more a sound came from directly above, answering the enquired. "He went up a level. But why didn't he just take the elevator?" This and much more resided on his mind as he quickly marched up to the next floor. Conan opened the door after reaching it, there was no one to see at first glance. "The coast is clear." Stepping out the same question from before arose once more. "Where is he?" Conan looked to the end of the hall, Kogoro was nowhere to be found. He looked to the right to find a large soda machine sitting in front of the wall. On the left was yet another door to be found. "That must be where he went." Conan approached the door to find a sign above it which read 'Authorized Personale ONLY'. This brought a sudden doubt. "This must be where Inspector Ginzo's unit is operating from," Conan figured. "But why would Kogoro come here? Could it be that he's trying to seek help with-" Conan's thoughts would be interrupted by the sound of several footsteps approaching from the other side of the door. "Someone's coming." Turning around Conan headed toward the soda machine, choosing to hide beside it. As expected a short time later four officers walked out from the room, engaging in conversation as they walked down the hall towards the elevators. "No doubt they're going to the gallery." After all was clear Conan stepped out. Making his way back to the door Conan realized he was still in possession of something that hung from his shoulder. "I can't believe I forgot about this bag. I should have left it with Haibara, I'm pretty sure that guy has returned by.." Conan paused after hearing a sound, one which came from inside the bag. "That beeping sound, what is that?" He wasn't one to look through someone else's personal belongings, but there was a gut feeling that pressed him to do so. Relieving the bag from his shoulder he placed it on the ground. "Maybe I shouldn't." After a seconds thought he decided to proceed. Dropping to a knee Conan zipped the bag open, laying eye to something he could not of began to expect. "It can't be! Why.. why is this here?" …. Back on the rooftop the smoke that had once clouded the area had finally blown away. To no one's surprise the target was gone. "Dammit!" hissed the commanding officer. "We let him slip away." "Not to worry commander," another assured. "The guys in control of the helicopter are staying on his trail, and we also have another unit in pursuit on ground level. All hope isn't lost." "Come, let's head back inside," the commander instructed. "I need to speak with the inspector; he'll give us our next call." With nothing more he turned attention to all others before instructing everyone in uniform to head back into the building. Everyone moved quickly, falling in line with what was ordered of them. In a short amount of time outside of the commanding officer, there was only one other that remained on the roof. "Hey, you there!" the commander called to a woman who stood a few feet away from the edge of the roof. "Didn't you hear? I want everyone to return to the gallery." The female officer looked over at him. "But sir, you know as well as I do how unpredictable Kaitou Kid is. What if he reroutes back this way? Wouldn't it be wise for one of us to monitor things from here?" This was certainly something to consider. He thought hard on the matter, weighing everything in mind before responding. "You know, that's not a bad idea," he accepted. "Not to mention the Midtown Tower provides the perfect vantage point. You keep an eye on things from here, if you see anything, alert me." "You have my word." Nodding his head, the commander too made his exit. The moment the door to the roof closed an accomplished grin formed across her lips. This feeling of obtained success withered away just as fast as it had come by a shadow that toppled upon her. "Enough, the game's over," someone spoke from behind. She gasped. Spinning around she leaped back as a look of fear surfaced. "It.. it's a giant BAT!" Batman glared into the eyes of the terrified individual. "Drop the act, I know it's you." The look of terror quickly faded, replaced by one of amusement. "Oh, was it that obvious?" Kaitou Kid responded using a feminine tone before reverting to his actual voice. "Batman-sama?" Doing a quick spin Kaitou Kid tossed off the worn disguise, revealing his usual apparel beneath. "So it would appear Gotham's home town legend holds some truth," Kaitou Kid said as he placed his hat atop his head. "To what do I owe the honor for this special visit?" "We need to talk," responded Batman who took a step toward the thief. The smile on his face dropped. "About?" Batman stopped, staring down into eyes of someone who hid just as much mystery within as he did on the outside. "What were you doing in my-" He stopped after hearing a booming sound. A moment was all it took to learn the source of the uproar. Ascending from all four corners of the Midtown Tower; Ace, King, Ten, and Queen of the Royal Flush Gang all appeared, each levitating in place on their hovering boards. There was no mistaking it, Batman was just as surprised to see them as they did him. "What the hell is the Royal Flush Gang doing here?" Batman wondered. "Well, well," King said being the first to speak. "If it isn't the thorn in my side I can't seem to dispel." "King," Batman said facing him directly. "What are you and the Royal Flush Gang doing here?" "Business." "What business?" "Something that does not concern you," Queen interjected. She then looked into the direction of Kaitou Kid. "Our interest is with the boy thief." "I suspected that much the moment they appeared." Batman figured as he looked over at Queen before his eyes rolled back into the direction of King. "Well that's a problem, because Kid is coming with me." He laughed. "You're in no position to be making such claims Batman," King retorted. "Try me." "If you haven't already forgotten you, you're completely surrounded," Queen reminded. Kaitou Kid clapped his hands, gaining the attention of all. "Gentlemen, ladies," Kaitou Kid spoke. He looked each of them over. "There is no need for you to fight over me." "Enough!" King shouted. "We will have what is ours, and nothing or no one will get in our way!" King peered over at Batman in anger. "Especially not you. Royal Flush Gang, apprehend Kaitou Kid and take out the bat!" "Then, let the dance begin." Queen launched forward with her hover board. All other members moved in as well, firing lasers from their boards at both Batman and Kaitou Kid who lunged into opposite directions in attempt to dodge the incoming onslaught. "Lasers? They've got lasers?!" This was not something Kaitou Kid was expecting. "Hovering boards is one thing, but lasers too? This night just keeps getting better and better." Leaping over another directed shot Batman noticed the lack in their numbers. "There are only four of them," Batman realized. ".. Where is Jack?" Not only was he alert, Batman was now weary. A surprise attack could come at any time. The question was, from where? The space covering the rooftop wasn't enough for him to work with in his mind when dealing with four opponents zipping by in attack on their flying vehicles. The playing field needed to be widened, even if that meant separating himself further from Kaitou Kid. Before the opportunity arose for him to make a move a bright light appeared in the sky from a distance away.. no, several lights. Using the zooming capabilities of his cowl Batman was able to determine what was incoming. "Choppers, seven of them in all," counted Batman. "And they're headed this way." It didn't take long for the Royal Flush Gang to take note of this as well. Queen hovered over to King's side who was staring into the direction of the incoming helicopters. "What do we do now? They're going to be here shortly." "We have no choice but to retreat," replied King. "We can't be tied to any of this. Our contractor would certainly be less than thrilled, and that would be bad for future business." "What about the Elephant?" asked Ten who joined the two. "Are we really going to abort the mission?" "We must," replied King. "But make no mistake, when the time comes we will retrieve the Revenant Elephant warrior. Come, let us go." Queen focused her attention on Ace, gesturing a hand signal into his direction he too joined the four of them. With nothing more the Royal Flush Gang flew away, disappearing as fast as they had appeared. Kaitou Kid looked on in disbelief. What could have possibly provoked their unexpected departure he wondered. Not a second more the door to the roof was kicked open as someone in full body police tactical gear stepped out. "FREEZE!" "Well, looks like you and I have another," Kaitou Kid began as he turned to find Batman too was now gone. There was now denying his ultimate surprise. But where had gone? "Him too?" Now positioned behind the barrels on the far side of the roof Batman kneeled in a crouched position. "I can't risk getting seen, it's time for plan b." Following this he pressed down to his communications ear piece. "Robin it's me. There's something I need you to do." Kaitou Kid grinningly turned to fully face the newcomer, raising his hands above his head as if to surrender. "So officer, am I under arrest?" The officer moved forward, firmly holding their weapon in hand as they approached. "Kaitou Kid, I.. I need you to come with me," stammered the officer. There was fret to be heard within their voice, something Kaitou Kid immediately picked up. Were they afraid? There was something else that didn't seem right. Why was this police officer alone? If they had suspected he was on the roof wouldn't more troops been sent in pursuit? "In the least you would think this guy would radio for reinforcements." That was the first thought that registered to mind. "Surely he doesn't believe he can capture me on his own?" As they neared Kaitou Kid lowered his hands. The officer in question wore a helmet, making it impossible to identify who they were. "Hey, who are you?" Kaitou Kid enquired. "Have we met?" "Don't move!" he shouted. He didn't stop until coming within a few feet of the notorious thief. Kaitou Kid could see it in the way he walked, in his demeanor even. There was something wrong. But what could it be? As the man approached a bright light shined down on the two from above. He gazed up to find one of the choppers hoovering from many feet above. It didn't take long for the remaining six to close in. "Things are starting to get really tight." Not a second more the door leading to the roof was forced open once again as several more police officials stormed the pavement. "And things just got a whole lot more interesting." "There he is!" one of them pointed. "Kid will not get away!" another declared. Just as they were set to make their move their efforts were brought to a halt from an unlikely source. "Stop!" shouted the man who stood closest to Kaitou Kid, whose weapon was still drawn a few feet away from the thief's head. "That means all of you! I don't want anyone taking another step!" There was a split moment Kaitou Kid could have used to escape, but opted not to. There was a high concern to be felt for this individual, and he would not attempt to leave until he knew what it was they wanted of him. "What do you mean you don't want any of us to take another step?" one of the other officers questioned. "Our objective is to catch Kid. Are you suggesting that we let him go?" Their words were ignored entirely. Still pointing the gun at Kid the man in the full body armored suit lowered his left hand down to his pocket. "Don't even think about moving." Kaitou Kid blinked an eye. "That voice.. where have I heard it before?" Taking a moment to think about it he asked that very question. "Who are you?" Not responding the officer held up a phone, pressing the send button before placing the phone to his ear. Kaitou Kid looked over at him curiously. "Who is he calling?" Kaitou Kid could only imagine. "I have him, I have what you want!" The officer screamed into the phone. "Now tell me where my daughter is!" Kaitou Kid's eyes widened. "Your voice?" It was then that he finally recognized his voice. "You, you're detective Mouri." "You're wrong!" the officer denied. The pressed response.. the shake in his shoulders, there was no doubt in Kid's mind that the man behind the helmet was none other than the renowned Sleeping Kogoro. "Listen to me, I can help," Kaitou Kid said. "But you have to tell me, who has your daughter?" "Look! There's something in the sky!" one of the officers standing a distance away shouted as she pointed up. Kaitou Kid gazed into the pointed direction just as everyone else. There sitting in the sky was a bright light, one in the form of a green question mark. "What is that?" Batman who still hid behind the set of barrels had looked up as well, his eyes locked in on an insignia all too familiar. There was no mistaking its origin. Grinding his teeth he spoke his name. "The Riddler." To Be Continued
  19. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 14 Coming to a Collision She looked into his eyes, anxious to learn what he had uncovered. Conan grinned, but before he had the chance to speak the phone rang. "It is mine," announced Hiroshi who reached across his body to grab hold of the phone sitting atop the computer table. The conversation that came was a short one. Once done Hiroshi placed the phone back down before focusing on the computer again. Conan looked his way. There was an enquiring look on his face. Seeing this Hiroshi questioned him. "Shinichi, is something wrong?" "Who was that who just called a moment ago?" Conan asked. "I heard you mention something about tonight's show." "Oh yes," nodded Hiroshi. "That was Mitsuhiko-kun, he was calling about Kaitou Kid's planned heist scheduled for this evening. He was wondering if I could give him and the others a ride to the Midtown Tower to watch things unfold." "And what did you say?" "Given this current predicament I told him I would be busy with an important project," replied Hiroshi. "And that of course would prevent me from being able to provide the ride." "Call him back," Conan said to their surprise. "Let him know that you can give everyone a ride to the Tower." This was unexpected to say the least. A sentiment shared by both Ai, and Hiroshi who responded. "Don't tell me, you believe that-" "What Eddy seeks is Kaitou Kid? Yes. And I don't just believe it," Conan confirmed. "I'm certain that is what he wants. But before we go, there's an important call I need to make." "To whom?" asked Haibara. "To someone who will assure that I'll have my meeting with Kid." …. Looking down at the coordinance for a final time she brought the vehicle to a complete halt. There was no mistake in her mind. "This is it, this is the place." She stepped out from the driver's side, closing the door as she did. "Sato-san, what exactly are we doing here again?" Miwako looked over as the one to accompany her stepped out from the passenger side of the car. "As I said before, we're here in investigation of that drug that has been spreading throughout Tokyo Takagi-kun," reminded Miwako. Now parked near the front lawn Miwako marched forward. Wataru followed from a short distance behind. "This house, who does it belong to?" asked Wataru. "It is registered to a Sunshine Aldor. According to flight records he has done a lot of traveling in and out of the country over the past couple of months," Miwako briefed. "And you believe this man is somehow tied to the investigation?" "A possibility," Miwako replied. "I won't know for sure until I've spoken with him." "And if he isn't involved?" "There are still four other persons of interest," relayed Miwako. The front door of the small was reached soon after. She rang the doorbell once. No response came after several seconds. "Do you think he's home?" questioned Wataru. Opting for a second attempt Miwako rang the doorbell twice more. When no one came she stepped back. "He must not be here." "What now," Wataru asked as Miwako began her journey back to the car. "Are we going to turn our focus to one of the other suspects?" "According to the profile I pulled on Sunshine-san, he works for a company known as Fun Entertainment Inc." "I've heard of it," Wataru noted. "One of their facilities is located-" "Here in town, I know," acknowledged Miwako. "That is where we are going now." "You believe Sunshine-san is there?" "Sunshine-san's typically works evening according to his schedule," Miwako informed. "If he's not home, then there's a good chance that's where he is now." "That makes sense," Wataru said finally following after her. "Fun Entertainment Inc, here we come!" ….. Phase one of his plan was now complete. In that instance his ear device vibrated, alerting him of an incoming call. "It's me." "What's the situation young master?" inquired a voice of familiarity. "My disguise is complete, I've just stripped one of our kind fellow officers of his suit," replied Kaito proudly who looked down at the man who was lying in the trunk of a car tied up. He had nothing on but a pair of socks and underwear. "Don't worry my friend, once all is said and done I will return to you your belongings." Following that he slammed the trunk of the car shut. "We have exactly forty minutes before I make my move. Jii-chan, are you in position?" "Indeed I am." "Good," Kaito said pleased to hear. "How are things looking from up there?" "Clear as the nights wind young master." "Then we shall commence," Kaito said ready to make his next move. "If all goes accordingly expect to hear from me within twenty." "A night sightseeing will keep me entertained for the time being." "Kid out," dispatched Kaito. After stepping past the patrol car he made his way toward the largest building in the clear. "The Midtown Tower.. what a show this going to be." …. The countdown had begun. Thirty five minutes was all that remained before the show was to begin. Standing decked in a three piece suit he observed all that was going on from the farthest corner of the room. As expected there were a number spectators to be found. Positioned throughout different parts of the room were the notable security guards who looked on as well. The question now became, how would Kid attempt to steal the Revenant Elephant? His eyes traced toward the center of the room. Sitting atop a desk and shielded by a gun proof glass case was the miniature Elephant warrior statue. Blocking its area off was a line of yellow tape that circled around the desk, measuring out at sixteen inches all the way around. If anyone was to step within the circles range a net trap would launch, trapping anything or anyone in its range. That was one of three defensive mechanisms put into place that he was aware of. In the moments that followed a ring came to his ear, there was no mistaking who was calling from the other end. "Not much time remains, where are you now?" "In the south-east corner of the art gallery just as we discussed," radioed Damian. "Keep a sharp look out," Bruce dispatched. "I suspect it won't be long before Kaitou makes his first appearance." "Yes, from the intel we gathered it is a known fact that Kaitou Kid takes a general liking to the art of disguise," Damian took note of. "I have been keeping a close eye on all spectators that have entered the gallery since it became open to the public twenty minutes ago. There is a limit to how many people can enter, that alone will limit how many people Kid can attempt to hide behind." "More so than the civilians I want you to key in on the security guards monitoring the room." "Do you believe the probability of him dressing up as one of the guards is more likely?" "I do," replied Bruce. "Be on the lookout for anyone who is not only observing the activity of everyone, but also has an eye for the layout of the room." "And if I am to determine Kid's position?" "You'll do nothing." This was not what he was expecting to hear. "Do nothing?" "You'll simply observe him," Bruce responded. "I want you to watch his every move. If he does anything unexpected divert him back to where we want, try avoiding direct confrontation if possible." "And what purpose would that serve?" "The mission," Bruce reminded. "We stick to the plan. There is only one ending for Kaitou Kid tonight." "Alright, stick to the plan," Damian repeated. "I understand." Immediately after cutting communication Damian focused his attention on all security guards within view, analyzing each from top to bottom. "Where are you Kid?" Taking a step away from the corner he broadened his line of sight. His eyes coursed over men, women, old, and young; knowing very well Kaitou Kid could be hiding behind any face. His search of the room would however be stalled after hearing his name addressed. "Damian-kun!" Turning, Damian caught eye of the one who had called his name. "It's that girl from Teitan Elementary and her friends," Damian discovered. "Not anyone can just enter the gallery tonight; they must have been given clearance by someone. Furthermore, what are they doing here?" Traveling with the five was an older man he had not seen before, prompting him to question the obvious. "Who is that with them?" Now in range, she spoke his name once more. "Damian-kun," Ayumi said stopping before him. "What are you doing here?" "I'm here on behalf of my father. Unfortunately work prevented him from being here tonight," explained Damian as his eyes continued to survey the room. Conan noticed this as he neared. "What's he looking for? Is he expecting someone?" "Cool outfit," Genta complimented as the rest joined the two. "Given that I am a co-host of sorts, dressing in a suit for this.. formal occasion was only fitting," Damian responded. He then looked up at the man who stood in attendance with the group. "Who is this with you?" "Oh yah, it is only right that we introduce him," Mitsuhiko said looking back at him. "This is Professor Agasa." "Nice to meet you Damian-kun," Hiroshi waved. "I've heard a little about you from what they have told me." "I see," responded Damian who proceeded to study him. It didn't take long for him to drop suspicion. "This Agasa doesn't appear to be hiding anything, and besides I doubt Kaitou Kid would risk his plan to take the Elephant by allying himself with children who could very well handicap his efforts." No longer suspecting the good professor for being linked to Kid, Damian looked away as he returned to examining possible candidates throughout the room. "So why are you all here?" Damian asked choosing to keep conversation. "Did you come to observe the many arts?" "Not quite," replied Mitsuhiko. "We came to see Kaitou Kid!" "What is it he is going to steal again?" Genta asked. "He won't," stated Damian whose eyes were focused elsewhere. "Tonight is going to be different." "What?!" exclaimed Ayumi. "You really think he's going to get caught?" There was now a worried look to be found on her face. "He will," Damian replied. "What makes you so sure of this?" asked Mitsuhiko. They would then be interrupted by someone who approached up from behind. "Hello kids, I have something I think you might all be interested in." Each of them turned to find a man in a baby blue suit standing before them. "There's a show happening this weekend that I'm sure you would all love!" he stated before reaching into his jacket to pull out what looked to be flyers of some kind. Curious as to what this man was speaking of Hiroshi stepped forward. "What is this show that you have mentioned?" "Oh yes," the man in a suit of blue said facing him. "I presume you are the caretaker of these children? Anyway, there's a show that I will be cohosting a few miles from here. A live action Kamen Yaiba show, one coming to you all this Saturday!" Excitement erupted from Ayumi, Genta, and Mitsuhiko all at once. Seeing this, the man in blue couldn't help but smile. "I take it this is something the children would be interested in?" "It appears so," replied Hiroshi who accepted one of the flyers handed over to him. "You folks enjoy the rest of your evening, and I hope to see you all at the show this Saturday." Tipping his hat the man in blue turned away before walking into the opposite direction. Moments after his departure there was a subtle growling sound that could be heard, a sound followed up by Genta rubbing his belly. "I'm hungry, are there any snacks around here?" "I believe I saw a table of collations near the entrance," Hiroshi recalled. "I'll take you over there if you'd like." "For sure!" Genta pumped his fist. "To the snacks we go," added Mitsuhiko as Hiroshi lead the way. As they walked Damian moved in the opposite direction only to stop after hearing his voice. "Hey." Turning around Damian faced the boy in glasses. "It's you." "Before, you said tonight would be different for Kid," Conan noted. "What did you mean by that?" "It's simple," Damian said as he turned to walk. "Tonight Kaitou Kid will fall to fate." Conan watched as he walked off, listening as she came to his side. "To fall to fate is for one to meet his match, perhaps you?" Haibara implied. "You didn't go with the others?" "If you haven't forgotten we have a deadline to beat," reminded Haibara. "You need my help. But first, I think it would prove beneficial if we went over everything that we know thus far." Showing his agreement Conan nodded. "Bring to me the Light of whose hands are unclean to which he touches," Conan began. "That portion of the riddle is directly referring to Kaitou Kid, I'm certain of it. He's the 'light' of tonight's show, the star if you will." "Hands unclean to which he touches hints at a thief," Haibara added. "That backs our assessment further." "But why," Conan questioned. "What is the link between Eddy and Kaitou Kid? There must be a reason why he wants Kid. I feel like there is something we're missing." "Maybe his reasoning for wanting Kid is simpler than you're leading yourself to believe," Haibara pointed. "Perhaps he feels Kid is in debt to him from a previous encounter?" "It's far from being that simple, for starters Kaitou Kid has almost always returned what he has stolen. So a grudge because of something taken at this juncture seems farfetched," Conan stated. "And secondly Kogoro is just as much of a player in this as Kid. If there is a connection to make it's between the two of them." "Nothing within the riddle seems to link the two directly." "If there is anything this riddle symbolizes, it is evolution," Conan stated. "At least for the first half." Haibara looked over at him in questioning fashion. "Evolution?" "The silver blade placed into your chest I pull out into creation of Gold. Come tomorrow's fall of dawn the Gold shall flow with waves towards its destination of multiply," Conan rehashed. "The message in that part of the riddle is referring to a certain element, one which will clearly change by time the deadline is reached." "And what could this element possibly be?" "I'm not entirely sure," Conan admitted. "I have a hunch, but I don't want to jump to any conclusions prematurely. But whatever it is, I don't have a good feeling about it." A few moments more passed before Conan took notice of a suspicious man in a trench coat and brown top hat roaming the grounds a short distance away. "Who is that?" Upon further inspection he recognized who it was after catching a glimpse of the side of his face. "Kogoro?" By the way his collar was pulled up, and how his head was slouched over it was clear he did not wish to be noticed. Haibara noticed him as well seconds after. "So, Mouri-san is here as well," Haibara spoke. "He must have deciphered the first part of the second portion of the riddle just as we have." ".. Maybe," Conan said. He looked over at Kogoro as his eyes narrowed. "Something doesn't seem right, why is he trying to shield himself off from everyone else? Is it possible that something else led him here?" … He looked down at his watch to check the time as they traveled. Almost twenty minutes passed since the two began their journey to Fun Entertainment Inc. Currently backed up in traffic he turned focus on the driver. "Quite the jam in traffic tonight," Wataru voiced. "I wonder if something special is going on around here." "You clearly haven't heard the news," Miwako realized. "What news?" "Kaitou Kid announced the latest valuable that has caught his interest," Miwako informed. "There's an art show being held at the Midtown Tower right now, also where Kid plans to appear tonight." "The Midtown Tower isn't even a mile from here," Wataru said in realization. "That would explain." Within the minute the two came in view of a building with a large sign which read 'Fun Entertainment Incorporation'. "We're here." Weaving through traffic for a short time more the two finally made it to the parking lot of the Fun Entertainment facility. "So, about this Sunshine guy," Wataru began as the two exited the car. "What is his position here at Fun Entertainment?" "He works in the clothing branch of the company," Miwako replied closing the driver side door. "As designer?" Wataru asked. "Does he play a hand in producing his own work as well?" "Why don't you ask him when we see him?" suggested Miwako. The two reached the entrance soon after. Walking in past the automatic doors a woman standing behind a service desk across the room could be seen. The woman noticed the pair as they advanced toward her. "Hello there, and welcome to Fun Entertainment Inc," the woman greeted. "I am Ami Sulmon." "Good evening Sulmon-san," replied Miwako. "Could you point us in the direction of the elevator? That would be most appreciated." "Well of course," Ami nodded before pointing toward the right. "If you go that way you're going to make a left at that corner, and the elevators will be right there." "Thank you." Following what was instructed the both of them took off. The elevators were reached in short time. Clicking the button to signal for the elevator Miwako took a step back as the elevator directly behind them opened. After entering Wataru looked over at her as he asked the obvious. "To which floor?" "Level three," replied Miwako. "That is where all the D-section rooms are located." "And also where Sunshine-san's office is located?" "That's right," confirmed Miwako. The two stepped out from the elevator once the third floor was reached. "The room number is D-31." "Which means Sunshine-san's office will be located on the left side," Wataru pointed out after taking note of the even numbered rooms lined out on the right side. "Time to pay Aldor Sunshine-san a visit." "Right behind you," Wataru followed. The two progressed down the hall, moving from one door to the next. The end was reached in short time, bringing a bit of a surprise. It wasn't what they saw which was surprising, but rather what they didn't. They looked to one another before speaking the same inquiry. "Where is room thirty one?" … Just as he had said, there was a table of refreshments to be found next to the door leading into the room. It was only after reaching the table that Hiroshi noticed that their group was incomplete. "Where is Ai and Shinichi?" he wondered. Looking back into the direction they had come there was no sight of either of the two. "They must be attempting to determine the whereabouts of Kaitou Kid." His inner thoughts would be cut off after having someone tug at his jacket from below. "Professor, aren't you going to have something to eat?" Ayumi asked. "I'm not all that hungry," Hiroshi replied tilting his head downward. "I already had something to eat not too long ago." "Hey, where did Conan and Haibara-chan go?" Genta asked upon noticing their absence. "Umm, well on the way over they took a liking to a collection of paintings that were posted on the wall," Hiroshi quickly announced. "We'll rejoin them as soon as you're all finished here." "Sounds good to me," Mitsuhiko said in agreement as someone bumped into him. "My apologies young lad," a man in a top hat and dark green dress suit apologized. "I didn't see you down there." "Apology is accepted," replied Mitsuhiko with the bow of his head. As the man in green walked off he answered his phone after hearing its ring. "It's me," he grinned happily. "I've managed to make it into the gallery, quite a sight of décor if I should say so myself." "Keep a clear view Jack, there is only one item we're in contract to seize." "I am aware Queen," Jack responded. "What of King and Ten, are they ready?" "Of course." "And Ace?" "On standby," informed Queen. "He'll only act if need be. Don't screw this up Jack. Kaitou Kid must get past the first line of defense; the Revenant Elephant must be ours." "It will be so." Across the way Conan continued to keep an eye on Kogoro who was now casually moving throughout the room, clearly more focused on those who occupied the area more so than the several arts that were being presented. It couldn't be any clearer in his mind. "He's looking for Kid, there's no mistake about it." Conan was almost certain of this. "The question is, did the clues of the riddle lead him here? Or was it something else entirely that brought him to this point?" It was the possibility of the latter that brought an interest. Not only that, but given the way Kogoro was dressed it would also seem to imply he did not wish to be noticed. But why? All of this and more ran through his mind as he heard his voice. "Your interest doesn't seem to be on any of the art." Turning to his right he found him standing at his side. "Damian-kun," Conan said. It would be a lie to not say he was a bit surprised. "That man over there, the one you have been watching for the last minute or so," Damian began. "He seems rather suspicious." Conan gulped, if he didn't act now he knew things could go south from here. "He.. he's from around the neighborhood," Conan finally responded. "You know him?" He nodded. "Giaho-ojisan," Conan quickly made up. "A lot of people know him. He always shows up to art shows like this." ".. Is that so?" It was at that moment that it began, the sound of its tune fading in through the walls. Yes, the 'Kid' chants were now in full play. Damian looked down at his watch, finding only ten minutes remained before the thief was believed to make his move. As he lifted his head upward there were a number of additional security guards who entered the room, all following in the path of two men who Damian was unfamiliar with. "Who are they?" "The guy on the right is Nakamori Ginzo-sama, an inspector," Conan informed. "He's always on the scene whenever it involves Kaitou Kid." "And the other guy?" "Oh yea, the old man," remarked Conan in a childlike manner as he turned focus to the second subject. "Suzuki Jirokichi-sama. He's just as enthusiastic about catching Kaitou Kid as anyone else!" Damian's eyes dropped from the two men and security guards who approached to Conan who stood at his side. "For his age he is quite knowledgeable," Damian thought taking a mental note. The chants grew in strength. The show that was to come was near, and there was no one that could deny it. ….. Right or left, there was not a door to be found with the number 31 attached. There was however a single door directly across from them, however it was unmarked. Rubbing the top of his head Wataru questioned that very fact. "Are you certain thirty one was the number for Sunshine-san's office?" "I'm positive." Miwako reached into her pocket, grabbing hold of a notepad that was stashed away. Turning it to the third page she came within all information that had been jotted down in regards to Aldor Sunshine. She shook her head in confirmation. "Yes, according to his profile room thirty one-D is where his office is located." "Clearly there isn't a room matching that description," Wataru pointed. "I say we return to the front desk and speak with Sulmon-san, no doubt she'll be able to clear this all up." Nodding, Miwako looked to him in agreement. "Let's go." Just as the two turned to walk away there was a sound that prompted them to stop. "What was that?" questioned Wataru. Before she had the chance to respond it was heard for a second time. "It, it sounds like someone is laughing." Miwako turned back to lay eye on the numberless door. "It's coming from there." "Is someone inside?" "Only one way to find out." Marching forward Miwako knocked on the door. "Hello, is there someone there?" The laughs from before turned to low pitched giggles. Hearing this she knocked for a second time. "Hey! Can you hear me?" The giggles then turned into hysterical laughter. Turning the door knob Miwako pressed forward. "I've had enough." "No, wait!" shouted Wataru who was against entering. The moment the door was forced open everything fell to a dead silence. The room was dark, which made it difficult to see what was inside. Miwako immediately looked back at him. "Takagi-kun, I left my flashlight back in the car. Did you happen to bring yours along?" "Humm." Wataru reached into his jacket to find that he did in fact have one. "I do." Pulling it out Wataru handed it over to her. Now with the light in hand she aimed it into the room to find several crates piled throughout the space. Stationed at the far wall was a desk, and sitting on top of it was a single box. But to their surprise there was not a single person to be found. "There is no one here.." "Then what was that laughing we heard?" questioned Wataru. "I am uncertain," admitted Miwako who walked into the room. ".. Are you sure about this?" After a second of hesitation Wataru followed in after her. "What is this place, a storage room?" "That might not be a bad guess," Miwako agreed as she flashed the light toward the right to see a dusty pile of racks sitting in the corner. Her focus then turned to the desk now only a few feet away. She approached it to find that the box she saw before was wrapped in purple wrapping paper with a green bow on top. Not even a moment more she noticed a timer attached to the package, one which read as six seconds. "What's this?" The timer then dropped to five seconds before dropping to four. Miwako's eyes widened as an undeniable realization kicked in. Spinning around she launched herself toward Wataru. "GET DOWN!" …. Three minutes, that is how much time remained until Kaitou Kid was to make his move. Almost all spectators who were currently in the room had been searched by security, a measure taken to assure Kaitou Kid wasn't hiding among them. "Just about everyone has been searched," Ginzo informed. "It doesn't appear Kid is currently present." "Maybe, at least not yet," Jirokichi huffed as he navigated the room with the turn of his head. "Are all exits accounted for?" "Of course," Ginzo replied. "As an extra precaution I stationed a security guard on every floor in the case Kid attempts to use the elevator." "Excellent." Jirokichi was pleased to hear this. Conan stood a short distance away from the pair. His objective was the same as them, to capture Kid. For what purpose? That was still an uncertainty. As he stood in thought he was unexpectedly approached by an officer in uniform. "Hello there little boy," the officer greeted. "Hi!" Conan smilingly waved up in response. "Do you think you can do me a favor?" A questioning look came to Conan's face as the officer removed a duffel bag from his shoulder. "I have to go to the bathroom, would you mind watching my bag for me?" "Am hmm," accepted Conan who nodded. "I'll watch it for you." The officer smiled as he rubbed the top of Conan's head in appreciation. "Thank you, Detective-kun." As he departed Conan eyes followed the officer in a suspicious matter. "Detective-kun? Why did he call me that?" Almost a minute passed as he waited for his return. Conan's focus would however fall on Kogoro who came back into view. Just as he had before Kogoro was still looking over something that he held in hand. "Whatever he's holding must be important. But what could it be?" Conan's curiosity finally got the better of him. He inched in to have a closer look, making sure not to be spotted. Now within seven feet of him, Conan could finally see what was in his hands. It was a phone, but not the one he was expecting to see. "That's Ran's phone! But didn't she have it with her when she was taken? If so, how did Kogoro end up with it?" Before he had the chance the process what he had just learned a cloud of gas began weaved into the room from all vents, bringing limitations to everyone's vision. "It's Kaitou Kid!" shouted Ginzo. "He's making his move! Everyone get into position!" Conan could only place his arm over his face in disgust. "No, not now! This is too soon.. and I haven't solved the puzzle yet!" … "Jii-chan, phase one is complete." "What a dandy." "Floor five is being filled with the smoke as we speak," dispatched Kaitou Kid. "In a minute's estimation phase two will begin. Don't spring the extra glider until then." "One minute it is." "Everything is going according to plan," Kaitou Kid happily said. It was in that moment that a dark shadow casted over him. "A fact that can't be rebutted," an imposing voice spoke from behind. Mildly startled he spun around to lay eyes on what appeared to be a six foot bat standing a few feet away. His heart skipped a beat. There was no mistaking who it was. He had heard the rumors, the stories. "It's him," Kaitou Kid fretted inside. "But why here.. why now?" "Young Master are you still there? Respond," radioed Jii. Kaitou Kid stared into the eyes of the demon as he clicked down on his communication ear piece to reply. "Old man, we have a problem." To Be Continued
  20. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 13 The Countdown It didn't take long before the photo found way into Kogoro's hands. Several emotions rose to the surface in that instance. Sickness, and an undeniable rage. Seeing the discomfort on his face Sonoko took a step toward him. "What's wrong? What happened to Ran?" Lowering the photo Kogoro responded. "She has been kidnapped," shivered Kogoro struggling to hold in a boiling temperament of emotion. Sonoko gasped. Her immediate reaction was to reach for her phone. "I'll call the police!" "No!" Conan shot down. Both Kogoro and Sonoko looked over at him in questioning fashion. "What do you mean no?!" exclaimed Sonoko. Giving direct eye to Kogoro, Conan answered. "If Eddy-san is the one who took her then going to the police is the last thing we should do," stated Conan. "What are you trying to say?" Kogoro replied. At this point he was losing patience. "Think back to what Edy said Oji-san. When you asked him why they didn't go to the police in Nar's kidnapping he said-" "That the kidnappers would kill her if the police were alerted about the situation," Kogoro recalled. "But what does any of that have to do with.." In that moment realization poured to the forefront. "Wait a minute, what if there never was a kidnapping to begin with?" Kogoro gritted his teeth at the thought of it. "Could it be that he was foreshadowing a kidnapping that had yet to occur?" Seeing the look on Kogoro's face Conan could tell he was starting to understand the true nature behind what was going on. Walking over to the desk a few feet away Kogoro forcefully slammed his fist atop the desk. "Dammit! Ran was the intended target from the beginning! How could I have not seen it?!" "From the beginning?" questioned Sonoko. "I don't understand. What's going on?! And who is this Eddy person?" "The one behind all of this! There is no mistaking it!" Kogoro shrilled angrily. "That bastard is the one who has her!" "I don't like this one bit," Sonoko stated. Fear began to settle in. "I really think we should go to the police, the more help there is the sooner-" "And I already told you I can't do that. I have no doubt that Eddy guy is watching me in some kind of way, and if he sees me reach out to the authorities in any kind of way then it will be all over," Kogoro reminded. "This is one I'll have to solve myself. The question is.. what does he want?" Conan looked back down at the scattered pile of photos. Only then did he notice tomorrow's date on the back of one of them. This certainly sparked an interest. Reaching down to grab it he flipped it over to the other side to make a surprising discovery. "It's blank." Raising a hand to his chin Conan stood in silence. "But what does it mean?" …. Many hours had gone by since the last time either had spoken to one another. Damian received a message thirty minutes ago, giving him directions for where it was the two were to meet. Raising his wrist he checked the time to find that only a minute remained before the scheduled deadline. "You're early," a familiar voice spoke. Lowering his arm Damian looked across to address his visitor. "A little formal for this time of day, wouldn't you say father?" In his three piece suit and top hat Bruce inched in toward him. "We have a lot that needs to be discussed." Making his way over Bruce took a seat next to him at the bench. Reaching into the worn jacket Bruce pulled out a newspaper which he held out in front of himself as if to read it. Damian glanced over at him questioningly. "What are you doing?" "The story of the art show is on the front page, and given that Kid has announced his interest in the Revenant Elephant on display I am certain tonight is going to generate a lot of attention." "I hear he has got quite the fan base," Damian acknowledged. "Though, I am curious." "About?" asked Bruce who tucked the paper away. "The decision to have this art show hosted at the Midtown Tower." "…" "You're allowing the clown thief too many options," complained Damian. "By my estimation he has two guaranteed escape routes if he manages to get his hands on the elephant. I did my research." "Three solid escape routes," Bruce corrected. "Two of which will be accounted for, leaving Kid with a single choice." Damian didn't understand his stance. "If we are aware of all possible exits he will take, why not defend them all?" "Who says I don't want him to escape?" asked Bruce as he eased back in place. A dumbfounding look came over Damian. "What's that supposed to mean?" he asked. "I thought tonight was about catching Kaitou Kid. What exactly is our objective?" "I will apprehend Kid, but it won't be on their terms," Bruce responded. "But on mine." "What do you mean by their terms?" asked Damian who leaned back as well. A long pause ensued. "Starting tomorrow I want you back at Teitan Elementary," Bruce said looking to another subject. "That's where you're needed. There is more behind what happened not only at Teitan Elementary, but Ekoda High as well. We need to find out what that is." "Which is why we should be targeting the heart of the source," Damian protested. "Spending my time surveying over a class of children on a daily basis isn't going to amount to any legitimate progress." "Perhaps you haven't been focusing on what you should be?" Bruce suggested. "What do you mean?" "You can perceive the given, but to unravel a mystery is to look past what can be perceived," Bruce explained. "You're a detective Damian. In a room of innocence there is always bound to be a dark secret." "And I'm supposed to make sense of that?" Bruce looked away before moving on to another matter. "So, mind telling me where you were last night?" Damian could see the look on his face, there was no use in denying the truth. "How did you find out?" "On my last visit here I planted a camera in the basement of the Skytale building, thus allowing me to monitor any ongoing activity," Bruce relayed. "I specifically asked you not to go to Skytale, you ignored a direct order." "It was necessary. I found it strange that Scarecrow's product had yet to be moved," Damian explained. "That's what prompted my investigation. And since you planted a camera at Skytale you're probably already aware that the materials necessary to create the toxin were removed and transferred elsewhere." "I am aware," confirmed Bruce. "I also know where the entire product was taken." "You do?" "After being removed from the crate they arrived in, all thirty eight bags of chemicals were placed into a large box before being loaded up onto a truck," Bruce informed. "A truck which was trademarked; 'Fun Entertainment Inc.'." "Fun Entertainment Inc.?" "There are a total of forty eight Fun Entertainment Inc. buildings located throughout the entire world," Bruce informed. "There are three here in Japan, of the three one is located here in Tokyo." "What do you know about Fun Entertainment Inc.?" "Fun Entertainment Inc, or simply F.E.I is a company that manufactures high end props and custom apparel for many different services," replied Bruce. "This ranges from movie productions all the way to live theater performances." "I see." Something didn't quite add up in his mind. "I don't get the choice. It is clear Scarecrow wants the movement of his product to remain quiet, but why F.E.I of all choices?" "This isn't Crane's doing," Bruce finally revealed. Damian sat forward. Saying he was surprised would be putting it lightly. "What do you mean this isn't his doing?" "I came in contact with one of Scarecrow's men last night. Crane isn't distributing the ingredients for his toxin like I initially believed, no.. Like us he is searching for the one who is." "What?!" questioned Damian who shifted in position. "I'm uncertain who that may be or for what purpose," admitted Bruce. "There isn't much to go off of, and I have a feeling the street sales that have been reported are nothing more than the beginning stages of a larger vendetta." "You think there is something deeper at play?" "I do. And whatever it is I believe it is going to happen soon," Bruce predicted. "Whoever is behind this, I need to find them sooner rather than later." "Is there anything I can do to help?" "One mission at a time." Leaning forward Bruce stood up from the bench. He then looked down at him. "Come, there is a lot of preparations to be made before tonight's dance." Speaking no more Bruce progressed further. Not wanting to be left behind Damian dropped down from the bench before following after him. "Just what is going on?" …. Every moment that passed brought the deadline one step closer. With time being his main enemy he found it wise to reach out for assistance. Conan now stood in the company of Dr. Agasa and Ai Haibara, relaying everything he knew to the both of them. "What a strange case," Hiroshi stated. "So this Eddy character revealed himself to you and Detective Mouri before even committing the kidnapping?" Conan nodded. "That's right." "But why?" questioned Haibara who took a seat on the couch a short distance away. "What was the point of him showing his face to you? Wouldn't that put him at disadvantage?" "Every move he's made to this point, it paints a picture," Conan noted. "A picture?" asked Haibara. "Yes, about Eddy. First we have the riddle like messages he no doubt wrote himself. Then there's the fact he showed his face to us," Conan ran down. "This is nothing more than a game to Eddy." "How can we be sure that his name is truly Eddy?" Haibara enquired. "I'm almost certain it is. Hiding his face or name doesn't seem to be part of his game," Conan responded. "This isn't as simple as you may think. The only thing I don't know is if he has any accomplices that are assisting him." "Besides you and Mouri-kun is anyone else aware of this situation?" Hiroshi asked. "Only Sonoko," Conan revealed. "When I left she was still at the Agency." "And Mouri-kun?" "I'm not sure," Conan admitted. "Kogoro left a short time before me, he said he would return shortly. No doubt he went to search for any possible clues." "You don't suspect he's gone to the police for help?" asked Haibara. "He knows Eddy's terms. If we go to the police Eddy will harm Ran," Conan reminded. "We have no choice but to play Eddy's game. We have until midnight to complete his challenge." "I can only imagine you came here because you feel there is something I can do to help?" Hiroshi assumed. "We have a name and a profile to go off of. I need you to run a search," Conan confirmed. "If we can find out who this guy truly is, perhaps we can find out what his motive is. And if we can determine a motive; that would get us one step closer to finding out where he might be keeping Ran." Understanding the importance of the situation Hiroshi hurried toward the computer. "I'll get on that right away." As the professor saw to that matter Conan reached into his pocket to pull out the blank photo with tomorrow's date on it. Everything he needed was right in front of him. How much would it take to unravel the truth behind this mystery? And above all, would he be able to piece it all together in time? Haibara could see the look of intent on his face. "Shinichi." He didn't budge in the least. "What are you thinking?" Conan faced her. "Everything," he replied. "Little by little, it is all starting to make sense." "On what grounds?" "For starters the theme following this game is misdirection, or in this case opposite of what one would initially perceive," Conan explained. "This is evident by the backwards written riddle and the chosen name for the child who Eddy claimed had been kidnapped, Nar." "Which is Ran spelled backwards," realized Haibara. Conan clutched his fist in disgust. "How could I have not suspected it sooner?" "Even so, how does this backwards perception of such add up in the grand scheme of things?" "I haven't completely figured that out," Conan admitted. "Then there are the names Eddy selected to headline a point he wants to make." "Adam and Goliath?" Haibara presumed. Conan nodded. "I imagine there is some significance to why those two names were chosen." "Do you believe Adam represents detective Mouri in this whole scenario?" "Maybe…" Haibara could sense the uncertainty in his voice. "You don't sound convinced." "While everything we know so far would indicate the Adam and Kogoro connection I don't want to jump to that conclusion. At least not so soon," Conan stated. "As I mentioned before the main theme seems to be misdirection. So while Eddy's Adam reference may seem to refer to Kogoro, I'm almost certain there is more to it than that. To figure out what that is, I'll first need to figure why the name Adam was chosen to begin with." "And what about Goliath," Haibara asked. "Do you think Eddy was simply referring to himself?" "Possibly, but again," Conan said giving the matter further thought. "It's probably not that simple." "What about the riddle itself?" "What about it?" "Have you deciphered its hidden message yet?" He shook his head. "I'm still working on it." Conan reached into his pocket to pull out a copy of the message. Seeing this Haibara stepped forward. "May I?" "Of course," replied Conan who handed the slip of paper over to her. Now in hand Haibara read the riddled message in full. "The silver blade placed into your chest I pull out into creation of Gold. Come tomorrow's fall of dawn the Gold shall flow with waves towards its destination of multiply," Haibara read. Her eyes traced over the final line. "Bring to me the Light of whose hands are unclean to which he touches. Midnight's deadline waits at the Eye and Hand overlooking all." "Silver and Gold," Conan spoke. "Those are the makeup of the riddle." Haibara looked over at him curiously. "What do you mean?" "For starters the envelope that the riddle was sealed in when Eddy-san showed it to us for the first time was silver," Conan informed. "Going off of the riddle's implications in regards to the colors I would say the silver and gold references are a direct link to one another. I haven't quite figured out what that may be, or how it ties into the rest of the puzzle." "What about the closing lines of the riddle?" "The first portion is obviously hinting at what Eddy seeks, with the second pointing to a destined location for where I assume the final act will occur." Conan slouched forward. Gripping his hands at the sides of his pockets he contemplated on the many possibilities. "What exactly does he want?" "Bring to me the Light of whose hands are unclean to which he touches," Haibara repeated. Curious, Conan looked back at her. "What of it?" "We should start with deciphering this part of the riddle," Haibara stated. "That portion seems to indicate what Eddy-san wants. If we can find out what that is I believe unraveling the rest of this mystery would be less challenging." Giving it some thought Conan shook his head in agreement. "I can't deny that." "What do you think this 'light' detailed in the riddle is?" "Whose hands are unclean to which he touches," Conan simply replied. "That line is explaining just that. It all seems to be symbolic in some kind of way; I just haven't been able to piece it into a level of clarity yet." "Perhaps you're over complicating things," Haibara suggested. "Why don't we look at each section individually? That could prove useful. First we have 'light'." Conan stood in silence, ready to hear what she had to say. "It is doubtful the light referenced in the riddle is in literal terms. Light can have several meanings," Haibara noted. "Light could be a reference to a positive emotion for example. An individual who has high popularity could also be viewed as the center of light within a room. As the saying goes 'The light shines brightest on the star of the stage'." "You sure that's a saying?" murmured Conan under his breath. She continued. "Whose hands are unclean to which he touches." Haibara paused. "From what I can make of this is that the subject's hands are clean up until the moment they touch something, perhaps an item that is dirty? No.. it can't be that simple." In that moment something snapped in Conan's mind after hearing her words. "Wait a minute; their hands are clean up until the point contact is made?" Conan took a step back. "Can't one's hands also be deemed unclean if contact is made with something that doesn't belong to them?" Conan eyes sharpened in realization. "That's it!" He turned back to face her before placing his hands on her shoulders. "Haibara, you're a genius!" While puzzled at first, she couldn't say she was surprised. "You've figured something out, haven't you?" Conan nodded confidently. "I have," confirmed Conan. "I now know what Eddy-san wants." To Be Continued
  21. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 12 A Realized Deception Everything was accounted for; the six surveillance cameras, the rotating spot light atop the facility, and the four security guards patrolling on the premises below. "This should pose little difficulty," Robin claimed upon determining the full extent of the circumstances before him. His eyes channeled into the direction of the spot light, studying the timing of its 180 degree path it followed. "Eighty three seconds, that's a minute twenty three," Robin memorized. With that now accounted for he then focused on possible entry points. There was the front entrance far below, a vent on the far left side of the building, and the last being a half opened window on the 73rd floor of the Skytale building. The question now became, how to proceed? "My destination is the basement beneath the surface. Going to ground level is out of the question, besides the guards and spotlight they've got motion sensors installed." This left only one option. His eyes peered toward the window on the 73rd floor. "I'll have to start at the upper levels, and gradually make my way down. –TT-." With his mind now made Robin put the first stage of his plan into action. Now with the spot light occupying the other half of the vicinity he pulled out a jamming device that had been stocked within his belt. "Eight seconds," He activated it as he launched himself from the edge of the building. "Is all I'll need." He soared swiftly across the way, not a single eye to spot him as he did. He dived in past the window, silently rolling to the ground on contact before kicking up to his feet. Light was immediately brought to the dark surroundings from a mini flash light he carried. Taking a few steps Robin scoured the entirety of the small room, from the folder filled desk to the water machine beside the far wall. It was the last thing he came upon that brought accomplishment to his face. "A vent," He dropped down to a knee to size it up. "This should take me to where I want to go, or in the least get me closer." … The glass cup in hand was swayed from side to side, listening to the sound of the cubes of ice inside hit the walls for which it was contained. Kaito took a sip before placing the cold beverage onto the countertop. "Less than twenty four hours until the show begins." "Indeed young master Kaito." Beside the glass of soda was a page from that day's newspaper, an article detailing the Wayne art show that was to be held tomorrow. "Of all places for Wayne to select he chooses the Midtown Tower." "One of the tallest structures in all of Japan," Konosuke noted. "Two hundred forty eight point one meters in height to be exact," added Kaito showcasing he had done his research in that regard. "There are fifty nine floors in all, Wayne-sama's art show will be hosted on the fifth floor according to reports." "I've got a copy of the floor plans if you would like to have a look at them." "Well of course," accepted Kaito. Konosuke wasted no time in handing the prints over for him to analyze. In those moments he began to plan the heist in full. "Jii-chan, do we know where the Revenant Elephant will be on display in the exhibit?" "The information for the exact location has not been released yet, no." "I see. That just means more work for us," Kaito stated. "There are several angles to account for. And we certainly can't afford to have any slip ups with this heist, given that there will be competition." "I presume you're referring to the Royal Flush Gang?" "Precisely," winked Kaito as he snapped his fingers. He stood up from where he was seated as an expression of confidence arose. "While true I need to find out what interest they have with the Revenants, there is another goal at hand. To satisfy the audience I must not only fool the police, but outplay the Flush squad as well." "And do you believe you can do that?" "Believe?" He faced his accomplice. "I don't believe, I know. And I've got the ultimate magic trick to see it through." ….. After traveling through the darkness of the tight space he finally reached the end of the foreseeable path. The vent cage that was now before him was quickly kicked aside. Stepping out Robin stretched his arms in relief. "Finally." He was uncertain of where he was, or what floor for that matter. He pulled out the same flash light from before, aiming it forward to find he was now in a hallway of one of the many floors. As he walked he spotted printed lettering on the side of the wall. "Level 18." The flash light was turned off before being lowered down to his side. "I still have some ground to cover." Robin continued down the hall. In short time an elevator came into view. He stopped, contemplating on if he should take the risk or not. "Given the time of day there probably aren't too many people still working at this hour." His mind was set. Stepping into the elevator Robin clicked on the 'B' button, signaling for it to take him to the basement. He stood in silence as he traveled down from one level to the next. It wasn't until the elevator reached floor six that it came to a dead stop. Thinking quickly Robin launched himself up toward the ceiling. Now latched into place he gandered down at the pair who entered the elevator. "We have until this weekend to have everything wrapped up. You know the boss doesn't tolerate delays," spoke a man. "So I've heard," replied a woman standing beside him. "I haven't gotten the chance to meet him in person yet." "Can't speak for everyone, but the guy gives me the creeps." "You better not let him hear you say that." "Yah, no kidding. I would be a dead man." He laughed. "What about our funds, are you certain we'll have enough for the shows big bang this weekend?" "Given that we have two of our own patched in with the Suzuki Conglomerate we have more than enough." "In other words, we're good to go." "This is going to be the biggest bang this city has ever seen." The two carried on with casual conversation until reaching the first floor where they then exited. With the two now gone Robin dropped down from his position above. "A minor disruption." The elevator reached the basement shortly thereafter. Upon stepping out Robin activated his tracking device. "Now let's see where our merchandise is." In little time he reached a fleet of stairs. He casually walked down which brought him to another room. The signals strength was now at its peak. "I'm close." He pressed on, moving through the dark room which was filled with boxes stacked upon crates in almost every direction. After maneuvering around for a short time the crate in question was reached. It was only then that he came to make an alarming discovery. Not only was the top jarred open, there was nothing to be found within. "The supplies for Crane's toxin, gone," muttered Robin. Emptiness came over him. "… Now what?" … The night had come and gone. A new day had arrived. And for some it began sooner than for others. She walked along the sidewalk, dialing her friend's number as she brought the phone to ear. It rang and rang. When no one picked up on the other end she tucked the phone away. "She must be busy." After taking another step she unintentionally bumped into someone. "I am so sorry," she immediately apologized. The man she had bumped into was holding what appeared to be a map, added on to this was a confused expression on his face. Could it be that he was lost? She checked the time on her watch, there was still plenty of time remaining before class was to begin. Given that she looked back to the man standing across from her. "Excuse me, but would you happen to be lost?" He rubbed the top of his head. "Well you see.. I am a tourist, and this is the second time I have visited these parts," the man admitted. "I was hoping to find this coffee place that is said to be in this area somewhere." "Here, let me have a look." She stepped over to take a look at the map herself. He wasted no time in pointing out the marked location. While the place in particular was in the opposite direction of her destination she chose to answer to the call. "I know exactly where that is, I can take you there if you would like?" "Really? I'd hate to cut in to your schedule." "Nonsense," she protested. "I have time to spare. My class doesn't start for another forty minutes." "Why thank you young lady," replied the man tipping his hat. "Your generosity is most appreciated." She smiled. "Here, right this way," she guided with the wave of her hand. Slipping the map into his jacket he followed. "If you don't mind me asking, what is your name?" Looking back at him she replied. "Mouri, Ran." He nodded. "Thank you again Ran-san. You can call me Eddy." … "Hey, over here!" Conan looked over after hearing the voices of his friends calling to him. He joined them at the back of the classroom. "Conan, what happened yesterday?" asked Genta. "You were supposed to call us when you were ready to meet." "We waited and waited." Ayumi frowned. "But you never did." "Sorry guys," Conan apologized. "But something came up yesterday, so I completely forgot." "It's no big deal," Mitsuhiko assured. "Either way Eilji-sensei is scheduled to be released from the hospital this afternoon." "Does that mean he'll return to school tomorrow?" Ayumi asked hopeful. "Unlikely," replied Haibara. "I don't believe he'll resume teaching at least until next week given what happened." "I would have to agree," said Mitsuhiko backing this. "Hey, what are you guys doing this evening?" asked Genta asked of his friends. There was a brief pause. "Well, I don't believe I have anything planned in particular," answered Mitsuhiko. "I'm free as well," Ayumi replied after giving the posed some thought. Haibara was more curious than anything. "Why are you asking? Is there something you want us to know about?" "Haven't you guys heard!" exclaimed Genta. "Kaitou Kid is going to put on a show tonight! I thought we could all go to the Midtown Tower together to check it out." Conan seemed interested. "If nothing comes up, I certainly wouldn't mind." There was only one person who had yet to give an answer, and all eyes were now on her. "What time would we go to the Midtown Tower?" Haibara spoke agreeing to the inquired, even if indirectly. "Well that all depends," Mitsuhiko replied. He then looked back over at Genta. "Do you know the exact time for when Kaitou Kid plans to show up?" The first bell of the day rang in that moment, signaling that class was to begin. "We'll have to continue this later," Conan said turning for his desk a short distance away. It was only then that the thought registered to mind. "Hey guys, someone's missing." Ayumi stated. From what they could tell all of their classmates were present, and their instructor was sitting at her desk across the way. Each of them looked back at her, puzzled to say the least. "Ayumi, who are you talking about?" Hairbara asked. "The class assistant, Damian-kun." …. The sun peered down at him from above. He sat leaned against a tree, holding a phone against his right ear as he spoke. "Father, it's me." "Damian?" "Where are you now?" "I'm on the plane now. I won't arrive there until this evening," Bruce replied. "But given the estimated time, why have you called? Shouldn't you be in class right now?" "There are places my time could be better spent," Damian simply put. "That is not something for you to decide," argued Bruce. "You were given a mission, that mission is not to be aborted unless I say." "It's a waste of time," Damian retorted. "You will continue to attend class until I say otherwise, is that clear?" ".. Yes father." "I'll see you this evening. Clearly we have a lot that needs to be discussed." With nothing more to add he hung up, lowering the phone down to his side before gazing up at the sky. "Clearly…" …. Class was finally done for the day. There was a lot on his mind as he moved, nothing looming higher on his mind than the mystery of Scarecrow and the supposed Batman. Even still there was another subject of priority. The disappearance of a young women by the name of Nar. According to the written riddle given to them, the deadline for delivering what the kidnapper wished for was Midnight, tonight. "There isn't much time remaining, I have to hurry and solve this." Conan knew every second that passed drew closer to a conclusion. He arrived at the Detective Agency soon after, walking in to find Kogoro seated at the table with a boxed package in front of him. A look of questionnaire came to the young detectives face. "Oji-san, what do you have there?" Conan greeted. Kogoro looked in his direction after hearing his voice. "Home already?" He then realized what time it was after shedding eye on the clock nearby. "Time sure does fly." His attention then fell back to the box before him. "I received this package just a short time ago," informed Kogoro. "It was sent by Eddy-san. Clearly all the information I'll need to close out this case before tonight's deadline." Conan walked over to have a look for himself. Now within range he noticed something on the right side of the box. It was a sticker, one of a green question mark. It was certainly strange, but he didn't think too much into it. Without further ado Kogoro began opening the package. Just before he reached what was inside someone barged in past the door. Both Kogoro and Conan looked over to see her standing there. "Sonoko-neechan?" Conan questioned upon seeing her. There was a distraught of sorts that could be seen on her face. There was now a concern. "What's wrong?" asked Kogoro. "Where is she, Ran?" Sonoko asked in between breaths. "What do you mean where is she?" Kogoro was now confused. "Wasn't she at school?" "Ran never showed up. She tried calling me this morning, I was busy at the time," Sonoko explained. "When I tried calling back no one answered. So that's why I came here to see if she was here." Not wasting another moment Kogoro grabbed hold of his phone. He began to pace in place as he tried calling Ran himself. He attempted this several times before lowering the phone from his ear in disgust. "Dammit," Kogoro hissed. "She isn't picking up. Just where could she be?!" Kogoro then dialed another number before raising the phone back to his ear. "Who are you calling now?" Sonoko asked. "Teitan High," answered Kogoro. "I find it strange that the school didn't call when Ran didn't show up for class." There was no denying it, something was not right. But at the same time Conan felt there was no need for panic. "Her phone could just be dead," Conan mused. "However it's not like Ran not to let someone know where she is. Even if her phone was dead she would find another way to reach out. So why hasn't she?" Within the minute Kogoro removed the phone from his ear once again. "None of this makes any sense!" "What did they say?" Sonoko asked. She was hopeful, but given the look on his face she knew the news to come would not bring joy. "According to the school I called this morning to excuse Ran from all of her classes." Kogoro balled up his fist in growing frustration. "That's just not the case! What in the hell is going on?!" Kogoro slammed his fist at the side of the table, sending the received package flying to the ground as the content within fell out. It was here that the truth behind it all became clear. "What.. what is this?" stammered Sonoko at the sight of what laid before them. Conan looked up at Kogoro, he could see it on his face. He had realized it as well. Conan clutched his fist as he looked down at the scattered photos, all of which were that of Ran Mouri. "What is this?" Reaching down Conan began sorting through the photos, taking note of the written dates on the back of each. Some were taken recently, while others were from as far back as ten years. They ranged from school pictures to casual ones. The question then became, how were all of these obtained? After a short time he came across a photo on its backside with today's date. Seeing this he immediately flipped it over. Conan's heart sunk the instance he laid eyes on it. Bounded by rope and blindfolded, she was laying in the trunk of a car. "RAN!" To Be Continued
  22. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 11 Meet Kogoro's Fan Boy All eyes resided on him. It was clear everyone was waiting for him to speak once more. Damian finally did just that. "I look forward to familiarizing myself with each and every one of you." Sumiko added on to the spoken. "Now that you all know his name, why don't we take the time for you all to introduce yourselves to Wayne-kun?" A cheerful reaction by the majority of the class erupted. She smiled. "Then let us begin." Starting from the left side of the classroom to the right each student introduced themselves. He listened, familiarizing himself with each name and face. After a short time Conan was up. All attention was now on him. He stared into the eyes of Damian who did the same in return. This wasn't a genuine look, no. Was he being analyzed? Conan flicked an eye. Damian didn't budge. The wave of the teachers hand was what brought his attention back. "Edogawa-kun," Sumiko called. "It is your turn to introduce yourself." He smiled brightly. "Oh yea." Conan faced Damian for a second time. "Hi, my name is Edogawa Conan." Damian's eyes casually rolled over to the next student. Was he truly studying each of them? "Maybe I'm just over thinking it," Conan thought to himself. "It has been a long couple days." The remaining students introduced themselves within the next minute. Once that was complete Sumiko took the floor. "Now that you all have introduced yourselves to our guest we will now begin today's lesson." "Ok!" chanted the children cheerfully. Hearing their enthusiasm Sumiko smiled. "Alright class, go ahead and open your text books to chapter six." She looked back down at Damian. "If you'd like you're free to explore the classroom. You can even look over what the students are doing if you'd like." "Duly noted," replied Damian. Sumiko then faced the class once again. "Ok, so who wants to start us off by recapping what we discussed last period?" ….. Four, twenty two, eleven; those were the magic numbers to unlock the locker before him. After rolling through the code Kaito pulled the door open. "There you are." He reached in for the science textbook that was sitting in the right corner of the enclosed space. Once in his hand he closed the door to find one of his female classmates now standing beside him. It was none other than the school witch, Koizumi Akako. "Kuroba-kun," Akako greeted. "Akako, what are you doing here," Kaito asked as he looked down at his watch. "Class begins in less than two minutes." She frowned as if to show little care of that fact. "You haven't attended class since last Thursday." He shrugged. "I've been busy." Kaito simply put. A grin formed following this. "Did you miss me?" She rolled her eyes, ignoring his remark. "Were you so busy that you didn't hear about Tanakai Rio?" The sharp grin on his face faded after hearing this. "Tanakai Rio?" Kaito took the next second to think about it. He shook his head. "Should I know who that is?" "He was an upper classman who was enrolled here at Ekoda High." ".. Was?" "He was found dead two days ago, a few miles from here," Akako informed. "From reports they're saying he died due to the effects of a new drug that has been going around. Prior to his death the last place he was seen was here at school." This was an unexpected surprise. Even still the question had to be asked. "Why are you telling me this?" She turned away with the sway of her long black raven hair. "I had a very telling vision. This is only the beginning," Akako conveyed as she began to walk away. "I foresaw a creature of the night, a demon that seeks you. A Red Demon. It will soon appear, and when it does you must avoid it at all costs." She looked back at him for a final time. "Because if you don't, I fear your end will come." With nothing more to add she trotted off, leaving him more confused than before. "A Red Demon?" He paused at the thought of it. "Could there be some truth to her vision?" Seconds passed. He began snickering at the thought of it. "Akako has always been a little fool of herself," Kaito laughed. Relief came following that thought. "I'm sure there's nothing to worry about." With that he too made his way to class. … Their eyes followed as he paced from the front of the classroom to the back. It was a trend that had gone on for a majority of the period. There was only one thing on his mind, the mission. "I was sent here to uncover the truth behind Scarecrow's operation. I only have one legitimate lead to work with," Damian mused taking another step. He stopped in that instance as he reached into his pocket to grab hold of a tracker device. "Father placed a tracer on a crate that was shipped here from Gotham, a crate filled with materials to produce the fear gas." Damian raised the device to eye level. "And still no movement of the crate." He placed the device back into his pocket. "Just how long do you plan on waiting before making your next move Crane?" Damian began walking once more, this time looking over the students seated before him. The purpose for why he was here rushed to mind in that instance. "Due to what occurred at this school yesterday, my father saw to it for me to be stationed here indubitably. The task is clear, find out how Scarecrows toxin ended up in this school." His hands clutched at the thought of it. "This is not where I belong. I should be on the main lines, I should be searching for Scarecrow.. Not standing here in the service of adolescents." The more he thought about it the more irritated he became. The schools bell rang seconds later, igniting a cheer of excitement from the students. This could only mean one thing. "Schools out!" chanted a boy seated at the back of the classroom. As the children made their way out of the classroom Sumiko relayed a final message to each of them. "Don't forget this coming Friday is show and tell," Sumiko reminded. "So be sure to keep that in mind with the coming days." "We will!" many of them responded. In a matter of minutes the five of them made their way out of the school. It was here that the question was asked. "Before I forget, has anyone heard anything about Eilji-sama's condition," asked Mitsuhiko. "I hope he's doing ok." Conan took no time in delivering the good news. "He's perfectly fine. I got a chance to visit him yesterday along with Kogoro-ojisan. Thankfully Eilji-sama was in stable condition." His peers couldn't be any happier with the news. "What did he say?" asked Ayumi. "Did he tell you what happened to him?" "I didn't speak with him directly," Conan informed. "Well, at least he is ok," Mitsuhiko said relieved to hear. As they continued to walk he decided to flip subjects. "So have any of you decided on what you're going to bring for show and tell this Friday?" "Hmmm.. I'm not sure yet," admitted Genta. "Isn't keeping what you plan on bringing a secret the best part?" questioned Conan before any of the others had a chance to speak. An inquiring look came to his face. "How so?" asked Genta. "By not telling us what you're going to bring you leave room for surprise," Conan simply put. The five soon came to a stop upon reaching roadside. Within moments of this Ayumi pointed to the opposite side of the street. "Hey look guys, it's him!" Each of them looked into the pointed direction to find him standing under the shade of a tree with his eyes closed. "Isn't that Sumiko-sensei's class assistant?" asked Genta. "Wayne, Damian," reminded Mitsuhiko. "And yes, that appears to be him." A concerned look could now be seen on Ayumi's face. "He looks lonely," observed Ayumi. "Do you think we should go over and see if he is ok?" "We shouldn't bother him," objected Haibara. "For all we know he could be waiting for someon-" Before she could finish Ayumi raced across the road that was free of traffic. Both Genta and Mitsuhiko followed after her almost immediately. Conan shook his head before doing the same. Damian's eyes peered open at the sound of their approach. He pushed up from where he leaned against the tree all while uncrossing his arms as he faced the girl now standing across from him. Looking down at her curiously he spoke. "Is there something I can help you with?" inquired Damian. The others arrived in the seconds followed. "It.. it's just that you looked lonely," stammered Ayumi. Damian did not respond, simply looking her over as if to wait for her to continue. There was now clearly a light tension that resided. When neither spoke Genta decided to jump in. "Wayne-san, I take it this is your first day here in Tokyo?" Genta smiled. "If you'd like, we could show you around. I know of some really cool places you might like, especially where we can eat. I'm starving!" "But we don't have time for that. You haven't forgotten about the investigation have you?" Mitsuhiko reminded. This sparked a small level of interest. "Investigation?" asked Damian. He was uncertain if he should reply. When none of the others did he responded. "Yes," Mitsuhiko answered. "I don't know if you are aware, but one of the teachers at our school was poisoned yesterday. It is up to us to figure out what caused it." This was now more than just a group of students that had approached him, but also ones who shared a common ambition as himself. Finding out how Eilji Amou was poisoned. However this was not something he was going to reveal to a group of 'adolescents'. "That sounds like a job for the police," replied Damian. "Children shouldn't trouble themselves with such a task." "But it's our job," Ayumi defended. Damian eyes rolled back into her direction. "What's that?" "We're the Detective Boy!" Ayumi finally revealed. "It is our job to unravel mysteries." "Something none of you are obligated to do," Damian retorted. "Doesn't mean we can't lend a helping hand," challenged Genta in response. "We have solved many cases on our own you know." This didn't change his mind in the least. "Word of advice," Damian began as he turned to walk away. "Let the adults handle public affairs. And for all of you.. Go and be children, while you still can." Damian spoke not another word on his departure. "He doesn't understand," Mitsuhiko stated. "Yea!" agreed Genta clutching his fists. "Hey, hey," Conan said stepping in front of his friends. "Don't let what he said bother you." Following this Conan began to stroll away from the group. Noticing this Haibara questioned him. "Where are you going?" "I'll be back shortly," Conan promised. "There's something I need to ask Kogoro-ojisan." "Where do you want to meet us?" asked Mitsuhiko. "I'll call you." Conan replied. With that he too made his exit. ….. Adrenaline was on the edges brink as they coursed through the night streets. They were now moving at a speed two times of the speed limit. The sirens of the opposition were no longer in sight. Had they finally gotten away? "You see them?" asked the driver behind the wheel. "Na," the man in the passenger seat responded shaking his head. "I think we finally lost em." A smirk registered on his face. "Marvelous." The driver couldn't be any more satisfied. The moment following this brought a dark shadow that casted over them from high above. "It's him!" one of three gunmen sitting in the back shrilled. "Who?!" the man seated in the passenger seat asked. "The.. the Batman." another fretted. "Dammit," the driver spat. "We need to lose him!" In that instance a loud thump was heard from on top of the car. "That's him, fire!" the driver instructed. Without hesitation they began firing at the roof of the car. Now with their attention focused upward Batman smashed his arm in through one of the windows, watching as the scattered bits of glass soared away. Now with an opening he tossed a smoke bomb into the car before leaping off of the top of the vehicle just as the bullets began penetrating through. "I can't see!" the driver coughed. Steering with a blind eye the driver drove off path before crashing into a light pole which brought them to a complete halt. The man sitting in the passenger side immediately forced the door open before falling down onto the side of the road as he coughed out. Within moments the shadow of a bat loomed over him. "Oh shit," the man spat as he felt himself lifted up from the ground. He now stared into the eyes of the bat, feeling a tremble within himself that had never been felt. "It… it's really you." "Where is Scarecrow?!" glared Batman. "No clue." Not satisfied with the given response Batman charged forward, pinning him up against the light pole with ample force. He shrieked from the sharp pain that ignited from his back on contact. "Not the answer I want," Batman declared. "Do you want to try again?" "I don't know man, I swear!" he wailed in fear. "We were only hired to help with tracking Scarecrows stuff, that's all. I promise!" This bit of information interested him. "What stuff," Batman asked pressing him tighter against the pole. "What is Scarecrow trying to track?" "His own product," the minion of Scarecrow clarified. "Someone stole one of Scarecrow's ingredients for his latest toxin and has been not only producing it, but selling it on the wider market. That's the truth man, I'm not lying. That's all I know, I swear!" Batman's eyes tingled after learning this information. But what did it all mean? The approach of police sirens came to ear in that instance. He stepped back, tossing the man who had been in his grasp to the ground. He then reached for his grappling hook, now in hand he used it to propel himself to the rooftops. He now looked on from above, observing as the five men who he had chased were now in handcuffs and being placed into separate patrol cars. But above all what were the ramifications in light of the surfaced information? "If Scarecrow isn't the one who has been shipping the toxin overseas, then who is it?" Batman stood in thought for several moments before hearing a buzz of the communication device within his ear. By the tune of the ringer he knew exactly who it was. "What is it Robin?" Batman answered. "Father, there has yet to be any movement from the shipments you tagged at Skytale," dispatched Damian. "Continue monitoring the situation." "Wouldn't it be sufficed if I went to Skytale to take another look?" suggested Damian. "No, I want you to keep a look out from afar," Batman shot down. "The last thing we want is to tip our hats to the enemy that we're on to them." "Maybe there is something you missed," argued Damian. "Taking another look is only beneficial to us." "You will remain out of costume until I say otherwise, that's an order," Batman retorted. "It would be too convenient if Robin is spotted in Tokyo." "Convenient?" "You just started as a student assistant at Teitan Elementary today," Batman reminded. "If you cause any kind of noise that only leaves room for someone to tie Damian Wayne to Robin, by committing yourself to being patient we can avoid that all together." "I won't get seen," Damian reasoned. "This discussion is over," Batman concluded. He then pushed focus to the other given mission. "Robin, how did things go at Teitan Elementary? Did you look out for anyone suspicious as we discussed?" "Yes, of course." "And?" "Nothing noteworthy," replied Damian. "The mission remains the same. Find out who used Crane's toxin on Eilji Amou," Batman stated. "You do that, that brings us one step closer to the truth." ".. Yes father." "Unless there is something else you would like to bring to my attention, there is a matter I need to attend to." The link between the two shut off in that moment. This left him to sail within his thoughts once again. "If Scarecrow isn't the one behind all of this.. then who is? Just what the hell is going on?" …. The phone rang once, then a second time. It rang a few times more with no one answering. All this meant was that they would have to leave a message, something that didn't bother them in the least. "King, it's me. I would first like to thank you and your comrades for setting another of the so valuable Revenant Warriors within my lap. While unfortunate the other fell into the hands of another, it is now a point of less impact, for I know where the Kid thief will appear next." They took a sip of tea from the cup in hand. "Tokyo, Japan. Your Gotham's famous Bruce Wayne is having an art show put together; and one of the items on display, the Elephant Revenant Warrior. Kaitou Kid will no doubt make a move in attempt to retrieve it, and when that happens you will intercept him. In affect you will not only obtain the Elephant, but the Dragon statue that Kid managed to get away with in your last encounter. Good luck with your new mission, Royal Flush Gang." With their message relayed in full they hung up the phone before easing back in their seat. "The time is near, just a little longer." … Back in Japan Not a single stop was made on his way back to the detective agency. Conan pushed past the door to find the one who he sought staring out past window side. Upon hearing his entry he turned around. "Oh, it's just you," noted Kogoro. "Hmmm, are you expecting a visitor?" asked Conan out of curiosity. "Yes, a client," confirmed Kogoro stepping away from the window. "He should be here any minute now." It was at that moment that Conan took notice of the headline on the TV which read 'Breaking News: Kaitou Kid name's his next prize of interest!' He then looked back at Kogoro. "Before your client arrives, can I ask you something?" Kogoro looked down at him in a questioning matter. "What is it?" "It's about yesterday," Conan began. "You talked to Eilji-sama when you were at the hospital, what did he say?" "What was spoken between us is none of your concern," Kogoro replied. "But it wasn't me who wanted to know," Conan lied in reaction to his response. "Sumiko-sensei is a friend of his, so she's the one who wanted to know." The expression on his face changed completely after hearing this. Just as he was to respond the sound of someone ascending from the staircase on the other side of the wall was heard. There was no doubt in his mind who it was. "That's my client. We'll talk about this later." Given the situation Conan was content for the time being. In a matter of a couple moments the expected knock came from the door. Given that he was the closest Conan walked over and opened it. There standing on the other side was a man with red hair wearing a dark blue three piece suit. He was a foreigner, there was no mistaking it. "Welcome," Kogoro said making his way over. "You must be-" "Eddy," the man in the suit of blue interjected as a look of excitement came on his face. "I can't believe it, you're him, the myth, legend.. I'm now standing before the famous renowned Sleeping Kogoro!" Uncertain on how to respond Kogoro chortled in pride. "Yep, that's me!" Eddy reached out to shake hands with Kogoro who accepted. "Wow, just wow. I'm shaking hands with the Sleeping Kogoro," Eddy said as his excitement continued to rise. He then placed his left hand over Kogoro's right while continuing to shake. "Wow, incredible." "Ohhh kay then," Kogoro said finally breaking away from the handshake. Conan couldn't help but laugh inside. "It would appear Kogoro has met his ultimate fan boy." It was only then that Eddy took notice of the boy standing down at his feet. "Well hello there, you must be the Sleeping Kogoro's sidekick I've heard so much about, Conan right?" "Sidekick.." muttered Conan as he rolled his eyes. "Go on Conan, don't be impolite," Kogoro pushed. "Introduce yourself." "There is no need," Eddy assured. "I know all about little Conan." "Well I certainly hope not," Conan spoke under his breath. "You say something?" Eddy smilingly asked leaning in. "It's nice to meet you!" Conan cheerfully replied. "Why thank you Conan-kun." Eddy then stood up straight as he looked back at Kogoro. "So, about the case we discussed over the phone," Kogoro began. "Oh yes, that is after all why our paths have crossed on this fateful day!" Eddy hollered happily with the snap of his finger. "Come, let's have a seat over by the couch," Kogoro motioned with the wave of his hand as he walked over. "No need for you to stand any longer." "Your hospitality is well appreciated," Eddy complimented as he followed. The two took seats on opposite sides of one another. Now comfortable Eddy reached into the left side of his jacket to pull out a silver colored envelope. He placed it atop the table before sliding across. "What's this?" asked Kogoro grabbing hold of it. "As I relayed to you in our initial conversation over the phone, I'm here on the behalf of a friend," Eddy reminded. "Unfortunately he cannot show his face at this time." "As you said before," Kogoro recalled. "Though, you were vague about the details of his problem." "Now that I'm here we can go over the details in full," Eddy pleasantly announced. "So this friend of mine, we'll call him 'Adam' for the sake of discussion. You see Adam is an honorable guy, good looks, hard worker, and very respected by his peers. Some even see him as the greatest thing to come since the creation of light!" Eddy fell back into the softness of the couch before continuing. "With success such as Adam has seen in this period of his life you're bound to manifest peers in your presence that view your success as a roadblock or even challenge to their own." A saddened look fell upon Eddy's face. "This is the unfortunate case when it comes to my dear friend Adam." "How do you mean?" asked Kogoro. "Tell me detective, in the face of challenge what do you do to defeat the opposition?" After a brief pause Eddy answered just that. "You break them. And what is the psychologically quickest way to break any man? Simple, you go after his children." "What are you trying to say Eddy-san?" asked Kogoro. "Adam's daughter has been taken," Eddy finally revealed. "Kidnapped if you will." "What?!" exclaimed Kogoro. "What do you mean his daughter has been kidnapped?!" From where he spectated from a close distance away Conan's eyes narrowed in light of learning this. "It is as it sounds, Adam's daughter has been kidnapped," confirmed Eddy. "Then if that is the case then why not go to the police?" Kogoro asked. "Because if we do Nar's kidnapper will kill her," Eddy conveyed. "Nar," Conan asked finally joining the two. "Is that the name of your friend's daughter?" Eddy nodded. "That is correct." "How come you can't tell us your friend's real name?" Kogoro asked out of curiosity. "He must remain anonymous for the time being," Eddy replied. "That is why I am here to reach out for help on his behalf." "Do you at least have any information for who the kidnapper might be?" Kogoro questioned. "I do not know his or her name, so we'll simply refer to them, the kidnapper as 'Goliath'," Eddy replied. "After taking Nar the kidnapper taped that silver envelope onto the window of Adam's home. Inside is a hint to where the girl may be, along with what Goliath seeks." Kogoro then opened the envelope, pulling out a folded up sheet of paper that had been tucked away inside. He unfolded it only to have a questioning look come to his face. Noticing this Conan couldn't help but inquire on the matter. "What's wrong?" "It looks like nothing but a several characters randomly placed together," replied Kogoro who handed the sheet of paper over to him. Conan looked it over only to come to the same conclusion. "It certainly looks that way." "I thought the same at first until I looked at it backwards," announced Eddy. "Backwards?" Kogoro was unsure of what was meant by this. Eddy reached into his jacket to pull out a small mirror. "Give it a go little detective. Tell us what you see when reading the note in the mirror." Conan complied with what was asked, holding up the sheet of paper in the mirror which painted a clear message. "The silver blade placed into your chest I pull out into creation of Gold. Come tomorrow's fall of dawn the Gold shall flow with waves towards its destination of multiply. Bring to me the Light of whose hands are unclean to which he touches. Midnight's deadline waits at the Eye and Hand overlooking all." Conan lowered the sheet of paper down to his side after reading through it. "Sounds like some kind of riddle," Kogoro noted. "I share the same sentiment," Eddy agreed. Conan looked up at him. "Eddy-san, when did your friend receive this letter?" "He found it attached to his window this morning," Eddy replied. "Which means tomorrow midnight is the deadline," Kogoro pointed out. "Did you happen to bring with you any pictures of Nar-chan with you?" "I did not, but I will see to it that you have a photo of her shortly," Eddy replied before standing up from the couch. "With it I'll send you all of my friend's personal information that you might need." "Of course," Kogoro said as he too stood back to his feet. After walking past the couch Eddy stopped. "Oh yes, I had almost forgot." He reached into his pocket to pull out a deck of several bills. "Here is one thousand up front. Of course if you are successful in locating Nar there is much more where that came from." Kogoro smiled as he accepted the payment. "I won't let you, Nar, or her father down." With that Eddy made his way toward the exit. Just as he reached the door he noticed a picture of Ran a short distance away. "Cute girl," Eddy commented. He then stepped out, closing the door as he did. And with that a new investigation was now underway. … After the passing of several hours, night fall finally struck. It was now ten after eleven, also marking the end of her shift for the day. "Have a good one Sato-san." One of her associates called. "I'll see you tomorrow," another spoke as Miwako came within feet of the door. As she stepped out she waved to the two to have acknowledged her. Miwako made her way to the underground parking lot in short time. Once in her car she took off. There was only one thing on her mind as she drove, the list. "Of the twelve people that have been traveling in and out of Japan at an alarming rate there are still five whom I have yet to make contact with. No matter how many times I call," Miwako thought to herself. "Sukia Lemnai, Sandra Wu-San, Aldor Sunshine, Tiasa Herman, and Lonnie Machin. There is no doubt in my mind one out of the five has been playing a hand in the distribution of the drug that has been circulating throughout the streets." The next stop light was now in view several feet ahead. Before the light was reached a dark figure dropped onto the hood of her car, blocking Miwako's view of the road for a split second. "Dammit," Miwako cursed as she swerved off to the left. After regaining the wheel she glanced out the window to see what appeared to be someone flying through the air towards the rooftops above. "Who or what the hell is that?" …. After roughly ten minutes of grappling from one rooftop to the next, the building with a sign which read 'Skytale' was now finally in view. And though this went against everything that was ordered of him there was no turning back now. "Forgive me Father," Robin said analyzing the Skytale building from top to bottom. "But I can't subject myself to being just a spectator. I want answers, and I will have them." To Be Continued
  23. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 10 Meet the Assistant How long had it been since his return? An hour, two? Conan completely lost track of how much time passed since arriving back at the detective agency. The only sound circulating through the room was the TV clear on the other side. He paid it no mind. There was one thing on his mind and one thing only, the case. His thoughts would however be jolted by the sound of something on the opposite side of the wall. Tilting his head back he attempted to key in on what it was. "Footsteps." It was coming from the staircase on the other side. His eyes peeked down at his watch. Given the time there was no mistaking who was coming. The door to the room opened soon after. The person to walk through was not only his child hood friend, but the girl he secretly loved. "Dad I'm home," Ran announced prior to walking in. Surprisingly she wasn't alone, stepping in just a moment after her was her best friend and classmate. "And I brought Sonoko with me. We're going to be studying for a big test coming up this Friday." Half listening to what she said Kogoro waved back in acknowledgement. "Fine by me, just keep it down." After shutting the door the two noticed him sitting against the wall. "Conan-kun," Ran said walking over to him "Word spread that Teitan Elementary was closed today because of a disturbance." "And everyone we've asked about it has no idea what the disturbance was. Would you happen to know?" Sonoko asked beaming down at him. Playing into his child act, he stumbled in his response. "Well.. umm, there was-" "One of the instructors at Teitan Elementary was poisoned." Kogoro informed from his position in front of the TV. Focused drew over to him. "What do you mean someone was poisoned?" asked Sonoko. Kogoro rolled his eyes at the fact he was being distracted from his program once again. "It is just as I said," Kogoro replied taking the time to look back at the two. "Someone was poisoned at the school. The circumstances of the incident are still unclear, and as a safety precaution school was canceled for the day. The good news out of this all is that the teacher is in stable condition at the hospital." "That's good to know," Ran said relieved to hear. She then looked over at her friend. "I'll only be a minute. There is something I need to grab from my room." Following her words Ran departed. "This day is one spin wheel problem after another." Sonoko deeply breathed as she strolled over to the sofa nearby. Once there she took a seat, crossing her right leg over her left before leaning back in an apparent exhaustion. She was disgruntled. There was no mistaking this. Curious as to what was bothering her Conan spoke. "Sonoko-chan, is everything ok?" She manifested just enough energy to look over at him. "It's a family problem, something that does not concern you." Sonoko snapped. He huffed. "Why did I even bother?" The next moment brought the ring of Kogoro's phone, immediately answering it he stood to his feet. Conan watched his every move from where he sat. After a half minute of conversation with someone he placed the phone into his pocket. "That was the hospital, Eilji-san has finally awakened," Kogoro dispensed. "I'm going to head up there now." He made his way to the door, stopping about halfway across to look over at her. "Let Ran know I'll be home as soon as I can." She nodded. He then turned back for the door, this time to find Conan following at his side. "Where do you think you're going?" "Can I come too? Please?" Conan coaxed. "I promise I won't get in the way?" He stared down at him for a long moment. Turning back for the door he nodded. "Just make sure you don't get in the way." "You have my word Ojisan!" … Time passed since the scan was initially launched. With it now complete he found himself in the same position he was in hours prior, seeking answers. In that moment he would be approached from behind. He didn't need to turn around to know who it was. "Thanks for coming, Dick," Batman said. "Whenever you need help you know I'll always be here," Nightwing greeted. He stopped once reaching the left side of the chair. "I'm assuming this is about Scarecrow's toxin that has shown up in other parts of the world, notably Japan?" "I spoke with Gordon on that matter yesterday night," informed Batman. "And while it took some strong convincing on my behalf, counter measures have already been taken." "Is that right," Nightwing responded. He then curiously looked up at the large computer monitor to read the headline in bold. "Kaitou Kid Holds Up A Bank In Chicago." "That happened two hours ago," Batman informed. "The hair sample Robin uncovered at the museum came back negative. I had planned on seeing to Kid once I finished dealing with the Ghost Dragons, but he's forced my hand." He looked down at him. "How so?" "His actions," Batman noted. "They're escalating, and I don't think that's going to stop. Then there's the change in his approach. Typically he sends out a notice for what it is he plans to steal, this was different." "I see," Nightwing realized. "Not only did Kaitou Kid not send a notice, but he didn't target anything specifically." "He got away with 2.5 million in cash," Batman reported. "Cash is not something he's ever shown an interest in, nor holding down a group of hostages. And then there's the fact that whatever he steals usually gets returned in a timely fashion, always with a note attached voicing that the stolen was not what he sought." "I take it that has yet to happen?" "It hasn't," confirmed Batman. "I've already strung together a plan that will bring Kid right to me. And if my hunch about Kaitou Kid and Scarecrow being connected is true... two birds, one stone." "What do you think provoked Kid's change in method," Nightwing questioned. "Surely he must have something more to gain than what the surface presents?" A long silence ensued. Deep down there was a feeling of disconnect. Something wasn't adding up. "Dick, I called you here to let you know I'll be taking a trip in three days." He raised a brow. "Business purposes?" He nodded. Seeing this he pushed for more. "By business, do you mean Bruce Wayne or Batm-" "I need you to watch over Gotham for that one day I'm gone." He was smart enough to know he wasn't going to gain any further insight. "Anything else you wanted to ask?" Giving everything needed he stood up from the chair. "I have a lead regarding the Ghost Dragons," Batman conveyed. "You're welcome to tag along." Not saying another word Batman made his way to the Batmobile. Smiling, Nightwing followed. "Just like old times." … After a fifteen minute drive the two arrived at the hospital. At long last, would light finally be shined on the plague brought on by this new drug? There was a hope that resided. Kogoro took charge as the pair walked in past the entrance. It took only a moment for them to spot the front desk further left of where they stood. Standing behind the desk was a young man who smiled the second he noticed the two approaching. "Welcome," he happily greeted. "And how may I be of service for you today?" Before either could respond someone appeared from the right all while addressing them. "So you're finally here Mouri-kun, and I see you brought Conan-kun with you." "Inspector Shiratori!" Conan excitedly voiced in a childlike manner. He looked down at him, smiling as he did. "It is good to see you too." Ninzaburo's eyes then trailed to the man directly across. "We're pleased that you were able to make it in such a timely fashion." "I came as soon as I got the call," Kogoro stated. "What about the state of Eilji-san, how is he?" Ninzaburo couldn't hold back a smile. "Eilji is perfectly fine. And not just him, anyone else in this hospital that came in contact with the drug is fine as well." "Say what?!" Conan too was astonished by this news. "A group of doctors who have been following this outbreak since it began finally whipped up a vaccine.". He sighed in relief. "What about Eilji-san?" asked Kogoro. "Have you spoken with him since he awoke?" "Not yet," Ninzaburo answered. "Still waiting my turn." This bit of information came as unexpected. "What do you mean you're waiting for your turn?" "We're not the only ones questioning the victim, the FBI are here as well." Both of them jumped in surprise after learning this. "FBI, what are they doing here," Kogoro exclaimed. "I hardly see how their involvement is warranted." "I too felt the same, but that was before I learned the extent of what's going on," replied Ninzaburo. "This is much bigger than any of us could have anticipated." He crossed his arms as he awaited the rest. "Please do elaborate." "The FBI," Conan interjected. "Do you know how many of them are here?" He looked down at him. This was certainly not a question he was expecting to hear, especially from him. "Two if I'm not mistaken," Ninzaburo replied giving it a moment's thought. "One of them is still talking with Eilji-san now. The woman however came out a short time-" "One of the FBI agents is a woman," Conan interrupted. Ninzaburo nodded in confirmation. "Where is she now?" He was unsure of the relevance of this question but answered anyway. "Last I saw her she was heading out to the parking lot. She said something about forgetting something in her car." Before he was even half finished Conan was already part way across the room, exiting the building through the same doors he had used to enter. Kogoro shook his head in response to this. "Sometimes that little brat makes no sense." Now back in the parking lot he jogged along, looking from one vehicle to the next as he did. "The female FBI agent … could it be her?" That very thought carried through his mind as he searched. He stopped after reaching the center of the lot. Now with a position overlooking the entire area he began surveying. Within seconds of this he was startled by a single step from his blind side. Through instinct he spun around to find a woman standing over him. Looking down at him she smirked. "Hi, cool kid." What he suspected came to be true. The FBI agent in question was none other than Jodie Starling. One of the few people among his small list of trusted allies. "So," Conan began crossing his arms over his chest. "It's you after all." "I take it you saw Inspector Shiratori?" Jodie assumed given his initial words. He nodded. It was now clear she had planned for him to come in search of her. With that now out of the way he proceeded to the matter at hand. "Jodie-sensei? Why are you here?" Conan finally asked. "What's the FBI's interest in all of this?" She looked him over. There was no mistaking it. "You really don't know, do you," when he didn't reply she continued. "This outbreak, as they're calling it. As you know victims of this drug have been reported not only here in Tokyo, but in Sendai and Nagoya as well." "I'm aware," Conan confirmed. "And since you've been sent to investigate then that must mean my earlier hunch was correct." "Which was?" "That the drug didn't originate here in Japan," Conan replied. "And I'm assuming you know where it did?" She then reached into the jacket she wore to pull out a dark blue folder. She then held it out for him to take. Now in his hands Conan opened the folder to read the title of the file: "Professor Jonathan Crane." His eyes then dropped to the line directly below. "Native of Gotham, psychologist turned psychopath." The beat of his heart raced at the mention of 'Gotham'. It was now all coming together. He looked up at her once again. "This Professor Crane," Conan said in reference to the file in hand. "Is he the one who created the drug that has been spreading in the streets?" "He is." Jodie confirmed. With that known fact he focused his attention back on the information in hand. The first bit detailed Mr. Crane's early life. His father left before he was even born, and his mother was forced to hand him over to her grandmother after his birth. He would then go through early childhood to endure severe emotional and physical torture from his great grandmother. Due to his lanky structure in body he was a constant victim of taunts from several students at school. No doubt this took a toll on his self-esteem. Every sentence read began to paint a picture of this man named Professor Crane. His eyes flickered at what he read next "His grandmother… he killed his own grandmother." Professor Crane's story was becoming clearer. "After high school Crane-san then enrolled at Gotham University, it was there that he became the prized student of a psychology by the name of Avram Bramowitz. It was also during this time that Crane-san took an interest in chemistry," Jodie relayed. "It wasn't long after that time that he developed a powerful hallucinogen that caused people to experience their greatest fears. The name given to this hallucinogen.. Fear Gas." "Gas," Conan paused. "That means the drug must be inhaled to take effect. We're making progress." "Flash forward, Crane-san would then go on to kill several who he felt did him wrong at any point using the Fear Gas he created," Jodie continued. "It was after this that his actions gained the attention of the GCPD." "The GCPD?" "Gotham City Police Department." replied Jodie. "So the GCPD learns of Scarecrow, then what," Conan asked now attentive as ever "Did they ever catch him?" There was a silence that followed. "Here's where the details get sketchy, the file," Jodie pointed. "There's another beneath Professor Crane's." He was unsure of where this was going. Pulling the Scarecrows file aside he laid sight to the one beneath. His eyes sharpened at the title of its content. "BATMAN," He then looked at the second line. "Gotham's Dark Knight, Fact or Myth?" Choosing not to read any further he looked up from the file. "You don't actually expect me to-" "So you've heard of him." "I've heard the stories, yes." "And do you believe what you have heard?" Just as he was to reply he stopped. There was another moment of silence. "So the GCPD and.. Batman learned of Scarecrow, what happened next?" "Long story short, Scarecrow would be taken down before being admitted to an asylum known as Arkham," Jodie detailed. "He has however over the years escaped numerous of times, but with each escape according to inside reports has always been taken down thanks to the efforts of-" "The Batman." She could hear it in his voice, there was no mistaking the fact. "You don't sound convinced," Jodie waited for his response and when he didn't she continued. "I too felt the same before. Even still I'm uncertain of what to believe. But I'll leave you to make your own determination once you know everything." His head tilted slightly back. "Everything?" … The last twenty four hours went far from the expected. But even with a miss in what he had set out to achieve, there was something gained. He now found himself walking casually down the street, side stepping around a group of people who were in conversation at a bus station. "Almost there." After reaching the end of the block his destination was now in view. He arrived soon after, looking up at the sign which read 'Blue Parrot'. He tiredly walked in. Now in the billiards parlor there was only one person to find. There standing behind the counter on the right was a middle aged man who held a piece of cloth in hand which he was using to wipe down a glass cup. It wasn't until he was half way across the room that the man behind the counter noticed him. Surprised he looked over at the clock on the left before looking back at the young man who had entered. "And here I thought you would have headed home to get some well deserved rest," the old man spoke. "How was your trip young Master?" He took a seat in one of the chairs before slouching forward. His head made contact with the countertop as he exhaled. "Exhausting." the boy replied. He was not surprised by this in the least. "I tried contacting you, but it would seem our communications link was cut off somehow. It seems your activities as the notorious Kaitou Kid demanded a lot out of you this time," said the old man. "I presume you found what you were looking for on your overseas trip to Gotham City?" He slowly eased up in position. Now sitting up straight he looked into the eyes of his ally. "Not entirely Jii-chan," Kaito placed his hands atop the counter before proceeding. "While my imposter revealed themselves to me I'm still no closer to knowing who they really are. And to top it off I learned that they were not after what I suspected." "What's that," Konosuke questioned. "But if they weren't there to steal something disguised as you, then what was their goal?" He didn't reply initially, but did after clearing his thoughts. "The Royal Flush Gang." Kaito finally spoke. Konosuke's eye perked at the mentioned. "The Royal who?" He looked up at him once more. "Jii-chan, can you run a search on a 'Royal Flush Gang'?" Kaito asked. He nodded. "Will do young Master," following this the cup and cloth in hand were set aside. Sitting within range was a laptop computer which Konosuke slid over to himself. Not wasting a moment he opened an empty window. "Being that you were on a plane home for the last several hours I'm certain you haven't heard the news." "What news?" Kaito asked struggling to keep his eyes open. Konosuke took a moment to reach for something stashed behind the counter. Pulling out a rolled up newspaper he handed it over to Kaito. Now in his hand he rolled the paper open to set eyes on the article now in hand. "Kaitou Kid Holds Up a Bank." His eyes beamed upon seeing this. "As you can see your other half made another move while you were out of commission for those few hours." "Their antics will not go unnoticed," Kaito assured. "But it does beg the question.. what do they want with me?" "Young Master, what is this Royal Flush Gang you speak of," asked Konosuke. "How do they fit into all of this?" Stepping away from the seat Kaito took a deep breath before beginning to pace. "When I finally found myself in confrontation with my imposter at the Gotham museum we were interrupted by a group of five people who dropped in from above," Kaito informed. "Due to their untimely entrance Kid's imposter managed to escape." "Alright, I have a file pulled up on them now. The Royal Flush Gang." His eyes traced over the gained information as he read aloud. "They are a band of thieves who operate primarily in Gotham. The Royal Flush Gang consists of five members, their names-" "Ace, Ten, Jack, Queen, and King," Kaito said showcasing a basic knowledge of the five. "They were the ones I mentioned. Each of them share a notable quality pertaining to their apparel, Spades." "Also noted here in the file," Konosuke confirmed. "I'd say you found yourself a group of long distance friends." "I'll be sure to write them," Kaito joked. Still pacing he asked another question. "Jii-chan, does it say what interests them? Is there a pattern for what they usually go after?" He looked back at the screen, diving into just that. A few lines more brought to light the sought. "Here's something," announced Konosuke. "It appears that their interests vary from high priced valuables to even technology based products." "I see." "And that's not it. I'm sure you'll find this next bit quite informing Young Master." Kaito stopped after another taken step, waiting to hear what he had to share. "Not only do they steal for their own satisfaction. The Royal Flush Gang are also thieves for hire." This changed the dynamic of things completely. Had the Royal Flush Gang come for the Revenant Warriors on their own accord, or had they been hired? And if the second, who sent them? There was a lot to consider. Several silent filled moments passed. It was during this time that an idea came to mind. "The Royal Flush Gang were after a pair of valuable miniature statues that are part of a larger group of six known as the Revenant Warriors," Kaito recalled. "They got away with one. Jii-chan I need you to find out where the remaining four are currently being held." Confusion settled on his face. "If they got away with only one, wouldn't that mean five remain?" "Oh, I almost forgot," laughed Kaito. Wasting little time he removed the bag sitting on his shoulder. Now back at counter side he opened the bag to reveal what lay within. "Here take a look." Reaching inside he pulled out the mini statue that resembled a samurai that had the head of a dragon. "Is that-" "One of six, of the Revenant Warriors," Kaito gladly confirmed. "There's the dragon, snake, bear, hawk, elephant, and the cat." "And you have the dragon," Konosuke said looking over the one sitting before him. "That begs the question, which of the six did the Royal Flush Gang get their hands on?" "The snake." answered Kaito. With that bit of information he proceeded. Only seconds into the search he gazed at the discovered. "Oh dear.." Hearing doubt in his voice Kaito stepped forward. "What's wrong?" "The bear, it is gone." A puzzled look came to his face. "What do you mean it's gone?" Kaito asked. "Tomorrow will mark a week since The Revenant Bear went missing from an Australian museum." Konosuke relayed. "Missing… more like stolen," Kaito assumed. "It's just as I suspected. The Royal Flush Gang is after the entire set of the Revenant Warriors, which means I can track where they will appear next." He was surprise by his words. "I don't mean to speak in challenge of this Master, but what does this gang of thieves have to do with finding your imposter?" Konosuke asked. "Let's not lose sight of the real task here." "It was too convenient." "By what do you mean?" "I don't believe it was coincidence that the same night I finally encountered my imposter that the Royal Flush Gang showed up at the same place, and nearly the same time as I did," Kaito reminded. "And to top it off the valuables that my imposter led me to believe that they were after was in fact what interested the Royal Flush." He looked away from the computer in that instant. "And you believe your imposter is in league with these thieves?" He paused. "I'm not sure. That's for us to find out," Kaito replied. "I may not be a detective but I believe if we follow the tracks of the Royal Flush Gang I have a good feeling it will lead us straight to the one who has been impersonating me." "And what lead to that conclusion?" "Call it a kid's hunch." "Your call Young Master." He then turned all focus back on the computer. Another minute passed as he looked into the whereabouts of the remaining three Revenant Warrior statues. With his search now complete he stood up from where he sat to deliver the learned. "Regarding the Hawk and Cat there is nothing documented about where they currently are." "That only means we'll have to dig deeper," Kaito stated. "And what about the Elephant?" "It was at an art museum on display for viewing in Africa." "Was?" "Yes, until this morning when it was purchased." He was intrigued. "And who was the one to purchase it?" "A billionaire by the name of Bruce Wayne." Konosuke informed. "Bruce Wayne." Kaito rested his chin into his left palm. "I feel like I've heard that name somewhere before." "I imagine you have, especially with where your recent travels have taken you," Konosuke noted. "Wayne-sama is from the city from where you just returned. There he is widely known as the Prince of Gotham." "And do we know where our prince has taken the Elephant Revenant?" "Yes," Konosuke smilingly replied. "And fortunately for us we won't have to look far." This was surprising to say in the least. "You mean he isn't having it shipped to Gotham?" "No, he's actually having a small art show put together here in Tokyo." A grin formed, he couldn't be any more pleased. "When?" "Two days from now," Konosuke informed. He then glanced back at the monitor. "However a location has yet to be selected for where the show will be held." "Looks like we have a show to attend," Kaito announced. "Keep a lookout for any further details. Once the site of this gathering is revealed it will be time for Kid to send out his notice for the treasured Elephant." He looked back at him. "What exactly is it you hope to accomplish?" "By sending out a notice that I'll be coming to take the Warrior Elephant, there is no doubt in my mind that my notice will not only attract the attention of the Royal Flush Gang, but my imposter as well," Kaito replied. "They'll all show up, and when they do… two birds with one stone." He smiled. "An interesting analysis." "Only two days," Kaito said staring hopefully out into space. "Then the truth will be revealed." …. The clouds hovered partially over the moon as the winds began to fade. They had been traveling for over an hour now. Not a word had been spoken during that time. It was a sudden ring that finally broke the silence. Maintaining a sharp eye on the road the man behind the wheel reached down to grab hold of the phone sitting at his side. Now in hand he took the call. The conversation that came only lasted moments. With no use for the phone anymore he placed it back to where it had been. The man in the passenger seat moved slightly in position before speaking. "Bro, who was that?" Not shedding a single eye from the road the driver responded. "That woman." "Vermouth," the passenger assumed. "What did she say Gin?" They came upon a red light in that instance. Once he brought the vehicle to a halt Gin replied. "We'll be meeting at the discussed location in three days, and not only to discuss our next operation but to greet the Black Organization's newest member," informed Gin. "Horilka." "Horilka huh, isn't that the name of a Ukrainian-" "Vodka, yes," confirmed Gin. "Perhaps you two will get along Vodka." He leaned forward, looking over as if to analyze him. "Did you just make a joke?" "Only an observation of likeness in interest." replied Gin. "What's that supposed to mean?" Vodka murmured sinking back into the seat. The street light reverted back to green, allowing for the two to drive once again. And with that returned the silence from before. ….. It was a filled night of tossing and turning. Everything he had learned the previous day strongly resided on his mind throughout. He now stood against a light pole on a street corner, staring into the distance where the sun was shining its beginning on the horizon. Hearing her footsteps he looked over as she came within feet. "Haibara," Conan spoke. "Thanks for coming." She stopped after a final step. Looking down at her watch she spoke. "We have around thirty minutes before class begins," after noting this she looked up. "What's so important that you wanted to meet early?" "Along with Ojisan I visited the hospital yesterday to check on Eilji-san. When we arrived we learned that he along with all patients that had been under the drugs influence admitted at that hospital had been cured of the effects of the drug." This was not what she was expecting to learn. "What, how?" "I'll get to that," Conan replied. "While there I encountered Agent Jodie." "What was she doing there?" "Jodie-sensei was sent to investigate the situation. The drug that has been slipping through Japan's streets has been getting shipped in internationally, which explains the FBI's involvement." "Did you find out where the drug originated?" He stepped away from the pole. Now standing directly in align with her he continued. "I'll start from the beginning." With that he conveyed to her everything he had learned about Professor Jonathan Crane and his fear hallucinogen he had created. Now halfway up to speed things were now coming into clarity. "So, Professor Crane has escaped that Aslyum again. Is there any clues to where he could be now?" Haibara asked. "That's still a mystery. I have to take into account that he could very well be here in Japan somewhere," Conan stated. He gazed up at a sudden sound from above to find a small group of crows flapping by. "And if he is, I will find him." "You seem confident with that statement," Haibara said before pressing on to the next point. "What about Gotham's bat character? What is your opinion regarding that?" "Admittedly I was skeptical, but after learning what Jodie-sensei had to share there might be some truth to the Batman." This was not the response she was expecting. "And what was it she told you?" "Before I told you that Eilji-san along with all of the patients at the hospital were cured of the effects of Crane's toxic gas." "Yes." "Here's the thing, the vaccine was not created here like they want everyone to believe. According to Jodie-sensei's it was actually shipped in from Gotahm," Conan informed. "And the reason this information is being kept a secret is because of Gotham's police commissioner, James Gordon." She was now more confused than ever. "I don't understand, what does a move of secrecy like that help accomplish?" "According to Jodie-sensei's insider this move was made to ensure that Crane-san stays unaware that the Batman has become aware of his operation." Conan explained. "Batman," She paused. "Don't you mean the GCPD?" "Here's where things get interesting. There is a belief that Gordon-san is working with the vigilante. Furthermore there is a rumor he even has a bat signal of some kind on top of the Gotham police headquarters that he uses to call this supposed Batman. How much truth to this is an uncertainty." Caring less about the small details she jumped straight to the point. "What do you believe?" "Me.. I believe there is a fine line between fact and fiction when it comes to him. For one I don't believe there is a Batman, but rather Batmen. No one man could pull off what the reports suggest," Conan replied. "From all that I've been able to gather, I think it is safe to assume Commissioner Gordon is running some kind of secret operation. One that doesn't entirely follow the rules of the law." "…" "Think about it. Gordon-san doesn't want anyone to know it was the GCPD that sent the antidote for the fear toxin, that alone is already a move at twisting public perceptive away from the truth. With a hired vigilante of Batmen there are lines he could push, illegal lines that he couldn't otherwise," Conan explained. "Here is what I believe is going to happen next. If Gordon-san suspects Scarecrow is here in Japan somewhere he'll send his vigilantes to investigate. A move that not only keeps things under the table at face value, but it also allows him to avoid jurisdiction constraints that would come otherwise." As crazy as it sounded, she was beginning to make sense of his words. "Let's say your deduction comes to fruition, what will you do then?" Haibara asked. "One step at a time," Conan said in response. "There are still some holes that need to be accounted for. I don't want to plan a counter until I am certain of my analysis. Jodie-sensei plans to keep me informed on anything more she learns. In the meantime I'll need to gather as much as I can from my end. Of course that'll require your help." Conan smilingly added. "I figured," Haibara said as she held up her wrist to check the time. "We have fifteen minutes before class begins." "Time sure flew," Conan said grabbing hold of the backpack straps as he began walking. "I'm sure the others are waiting for us." Haibara nodded as she followed at his side. They arrived at Teitan Elementary soon after. And sure enough their friends were there to greet them. "Conan, Haibara-chan!" Genta called being the first to spot the pair. After grouping with the others all of them headed straight for the front doors. They chatted as they made their way to class. Once there the five of them along with their other classmates all sat at their assigned seats. The first bell of the day rang within the minute. There was one thing missing, their teacher. "Hey guys," Genta said looking over at his friends. "Where do you think Kobayashi-sensei is?" "She's probably just running late," Mitsuhiko replied. "I wouldn't worry too much." And just as those words were spoken the door cracked. A sound which commanded the attention of all. But it wasn't their instructor who walked in past the door, no. It was a boy none of them had ever seen before, and given how he looked it was clear he was a foreigner. He was dressed in a black short sleeved polo shirt along with a pair of complementing black dress pants. Walking with his arms positioned behind his back he didn't stop until reaching the front of the class. Once there he surveyed over the entire class as if to study them. It was also from this that he made his first discovery. "I see every seat is filled, good," the boy finally spoke. "The first sign I won't be dealing with any delinquents in this class." Conan's eyes shot wide the moment this was said. "What did he just say?!" The classroom door swung open for a second time with their teacher being the one to enter. She made her way to the front of the class as well. "Sorry I'm late," Sumiko apologized. "I'm glad to see everyone made it to class ok." Now in position behind the boy she smiled broadly with an announcement to make. "Children I want you to meet my assistant who will be helping in class, his name," Sumiko began as she looked down at him. "Damian Wayne." To Be Continued
  24. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 9 A Stare into a Window of Uncertainty He finally returned. But the mission was far from complete. As it stood there were more questions left to be answered then what was known. He pulled into position soon after, bringing the vehicle to a complete stop before jumping out. He paved way toward the computer. Once there he found himself in the company of someone else who sat at the chair. "Alfred?" The one sitting in the seat directly in front of the super computer turned in their position to greet him. "Turning in so early?" "Dick," Batman said stepping forward. He was certainly not expecting to see him upon his return "What are you doing here?" He huffed, loosening his shoulders before looking back at the monitor. "Checking in," Dick replied. "Why else would I be here?" "How did you.." Batman began only to be cut off. "I was the one to summon Master Grayson." A voice spoke from behind. He turned to find his trusty butler descending from the staircase a short distance away. "Alfred?" "I take it you gained insight on the Ghost Dragons unexpected emergence?" "No progress," Batman admitted. "There was ongoing activity, but by the time I arrived at the scene they were already gone." "And you weren't able to determine where they went?" Dick asked. "There wasn't much to go off of," Batman conveyed. "One moment they were there, then the next.. gone." "Like a ghost." Alfred remarked pointing to the irony behind it all. "Alfred," Batman said facing him. "What about the museum, did Batgirl turn up anything in her search?" "She did travel there as instructed by you," Alfred confirmed. "However her searches amounted to very little I'm afraid. By the time she arrived whoever broke in was gone, leaving no trace to who they are." "This means we can't be certain that Kid was involved. Was anything taken?" Bruce asked. "That might not entirely be true. At least not according to witness reports. I also read through the police report just a few minutes ago," Dick informed. In saying this he opened a new window on the computer, bringing up information detailing the situation. "What was taken from the Gotham museum was two rare statues. They're two of a rare bunch." He looked up at the screen himself. "They're from a six piece collection known as the Revenant Warriors. These warrior statues are all the same in stance and mold, each being made out of gold," Dick continued. "Furthermore they are all anthropomorphic in form, being that all of them display the head of a different species. The pair that was on display at the Gotham museum was the Revenant Snake and Dragon, besides those two that leaves four others; the Bear, Bird, Elephant, and the Cat. All which are being set on display elsewhere." "You did your research." Batman noted. "Unfortunately by the time Batgirl arrived at the scene the perpetrator responsible for taking the miniature statues was already gone, but even so there was something to take away from all of this." After hearing this he looked back down at him, waiting for him to continue. He returned the favor by facing him as well. "At the museum Batgirl discovered two separate break in points," Dick informed. "Both which were from different windows overlooking the exhibit. What does this tell us, it's simple; we're dealing with more than one thief." He contemplated on the possibility. "Maybe.." The uncertainty on his face was noticed immediately. "You don't look convinced." Dick noted. He looked back to the computer monitor as a cloud of thought rushed in. There was something missing, there had to be. He could feel it inside. "I'm going to the museum myself," declared Batman. "If there is something to find, I will find it." That moment brought the sound of something plowing down to the ground with a loud thump. "My lord!" Alfred exclaimed startled by this. The three of them turned to see it was a black duffel bag that had caused the uproar. But where had it fallen from? There was one who believed he knew just that, shifting in the chair as a grin came to his face. "I was wondering how long you were planning on hiding up there." Dick called. Following his words someone dropped down from the dark ceiling above, landing within inches of the bag. "So nice of you to join us Robin." "I was merely waiting for fathers return Grayson," Robin stated. His eyes dropped from him to the bag at his side. "What's inside?" Batman inquired. He moved forward, grabbing hold of the bag's strap as he did. He didn't stop until coming within range of him. "While you were on patrol Pennyworth informed me of your desire for me to keep a look out on things from here," said Robin before handing over the bag for him to take. "When the alarm was sounded off at the museum I traveled there immediately." There was a new look expressed on his face after learning this. "I had specifically assigned Batgirl to investigate the situation at the museum, not you." "In all fairness," protested Alfred as he stepped forward. "Master Damian was already absent by the time you called. I had no idea where he went; which left me to assume you contacted him before hand with an assignment of your own to give." "Take a look inside," Robin said. He crossed his arms over his chest in wait. "I wasn't sure what to make of it, but perhaps you will be able to in some capacity." Not wasting another moment he lifted the bag, grabbing hold of the zipper before forcing it wide. What was discovered inside was certainly a surprise. "Kaitou Kid," Batman spoke softly. What was inside was all of Kid's worn apparel. A white top hat, a cape, slacks, jacket, and everything else Kid had been known to sport. He then directed his sights to the one who had made the discovery. "Robin, where did you find all of this?" "Directly behind the display case where the miniature Revenant statues resided," answered Robin as he uncrossed his arms. "Everything was scattered out along the ground as if someone had just tossed it there. I gathered everything I found during my brief investigation and stuck it in the bag." "So Kid was the one at the Gotham Museum after all," Alfred said in light of this. "But why leave a replica of his own worn décor?" "It seems the witness reports were accurate after all. Perhaps this is a sign for what he plans to do next. Even the way in which the clothes were placed could draw meaning," Dick hypothesized. "But still, I'm surprised Babs missed something like that on her trip there." "Which is understandable since I entered and exited before she even arrived," Robin informed. "My given mission or not, I will not detract myself to being reliant on people who can't meet necessary time standards when it comes to handling a task." He couldn't help but chuckle at this. "Just don't let her know you said that." Dick smilingly warned. Reaching into his utility belt he had one last thing to share. "Father, before placing that hat into the bag I came across this," showcased Robin. It was a mini zip lock bag, inside.. a single strand of hair. "Perhaps it belongs to the thief?" He reached out for the bag, looking over the evidence for a second before stashing it away in one of his utility belt pouches. "What about the security surveillance?" Batman questioned turning back to face him. "About that," Dick began. "I already tried hacking into the feed earlier but it appears it had been disabled. Meaning without a visual for the events that occurred, we'll have to piece it all together ourselves." "I will see to it." "So what now?" "Patch into the police radio," Batman replied turning for the other side. "If the Ghost Dragons make any further moves we'll know firsthand." "What about you," Dick called. "Where are you going?" "Out." Batman answered. "I'll go with you?" Robin stated. "No, you won't." Batman shot down. He pressed on with not another word to give. Once the Batmobile was reached he took off with a cloud of exhaust left in his leave. This left just the three of them. With a turn in motion he walked toward the stairs across the way. "If there is nothing more, I will be returning to the upper levels." Smiling he turned to face him. "Thanks Alfred, we'll be fine." "Very well." His eyes traveled back to the monitor as he eased back in the chair. His thoughts soon took over, attempting to decipher everything that had just been brought to the light. However his current position would be interrupted. "Grayson, where do you think he has gone?" asked Robin. Admittedly he didn't know himself. But he did know his mentor well enough to know what his state of mind was just before departing. "Where he is going I'm not sure. But I do know he has a hunch on something he was uncertain about," Dick replied. "I'd imagine he is looking into that very thing now." "What about you," Robin asked. "What do you think about all of this?" "Me," He paused at the thought. "I don't know Damian.. I truly don't know." … Even after a night's rest and further assessment of everything he had gathered to this point he was still no closer to finding out the truth behind this new drug that now plagued the streets of Tokyo. There was a burning intent that resided within his eyes; one that could not be denied if any looked into them. His trance of thoughts however would be shattered by the drift of her voice. "Kudo-kun.." Startled, his shoulders jumped at the sudden mention of his name. He shrugged this off before facing the one who walked at his side. "Did you say something?" "By the look on your face I thought you might have figured something out." To her disappointment he shook his head. "Not yet. There's still too much that's left unaccounted for Haibara." Something she was aware of. "And how do you plan on obtaining the answers you do not have?" "I'm hoping the Doc's searches bring up a connection," replied Conan. "Something we can work with off of what we already know." "And that is what you have been thinking about this whole time?" He looked ahead once more. "But of everything we know Tanakai-san's case is the most telling." A questioning look came upon her face after hearing the mention of this. "Tanakai-san," She paused after speaking the name. After a moments blur it all became clear. "Isn't that the name of the man who was found dead yesterday?" He nodded in confirmation. "What of him," asked Haibara. "Did you learn something more about the circumstances surrounding his death? "I overheard Kogoro-Ojisan this morning talking to the inspector over the phone." "And?" "We now know where Tanakai-san was before his death," Conan conveyed just as the two of them reached the end of the block. This prompted the both of them to stop. He turned to face her as he delivered the final detail. "The place Tanakai-san was traveling from before his death was his school, Ekoda High." After learning this the expected was asked. "Was he a student there?" "He was," confirmed Conan. "A fact that could very well prove key to the investigation." She too knew this was an intrical detail. But even still she wanted to hear his thought process behind it. "How so?" Before he had the chance to respond someone called out from behind. "Conan, Haibara!" Even before turning the two of them knew who approached. "Genta," Conan called in response as he along with their other friends came trotting along. "Hey, what took you guys? Usually we run into one another sooner." "We were waiting for Mitsuhiko-kun," explained Ayumi. "That's what took us so long." "Sorry," Mitsuhiko apologized. "There was something I had to finish before leaving the house." "It's not a big deal anyway," Genta said. "We've got plenty of time before school starts." With the roadway clear of traffic the five of them made their way to the other side in short time. With no warning of its wake a light wind opposed them, blowing in the opposite direction of where they walked. Given the warm weather it was a welcomed addition. The five of them carried on with casual conversation as they continued onward. They arrived within range of Teitan Elementary soon after. But what they came to find left them in absolute shock. "Why are so many patrol cars at our school?!" Ayumi exclaimed. Surrounding the entire premises was a swat of about eight patrol cars in all, sending a shiver of uncertainty down his spine. "What the hell is going on?" He was determined to learn just that. Before making a move he checked to make sure the road was clear of any traffic before darting across. He made it past the first line of defense where few officers stood beside the patrol cars. His move toward the school itself would however be cut off by someone stepping in front of his path. He stopped immediately, leveling his sights up to lock eyes with him. "Officer Takagi, what's going on?" Conan asked with general concern in voice. A questioning look arose on his face in light of the asked. "Conan-kun didn't you and your friends receive the call before coming here today?" In return an inquiring look was to be expressed on his face. "What call?" "I see, you must be one of the few who didn't get the message not to come here," continued Wataru. "Teitan Elementary is closed for the day." "Closed," His eyes subtly narrowed. "Why is it closed?" He was hesitant on if he should say or not. He looked around to find that no one was in hearing distance of the two of them. "I really shouldn't, but since it's you I'll share with you the bit of information that was relayed to me when I arrived about ten minutes ago," He stopped, rechecking to make sure no one was near. He exhaled softly before looking back down at him. "One of the elementary instructors teaching here was found earlier this morning, he.. from early signs it appears he had been infected." His heart began to race. "Infected.. you don't mean?" "Yes, the same drug that has been the story of the month," Wataru confirmed. The pounding of his heart now raced to his ear. He knew the answer to the next question he was going to ask would be very telling. "Where was he found?" "Inside the school," replied Wataru. "Which is strange, because according to his brother who saw him this morning before he arrived at the school, he claimed he was fine." There were many things to consider in this regard, but he pointed to the obvious. "Is it possible that he came in contact with the drug while in the school?" "They're looking into that very scenario as we speak," Wataru assured. After giving this bit of information the two were approached, joined by another police officer. "What's going on?" He asked. Wataru gulped, turning to face him as he explained the situation. "I was just letting this young boy know that school is closed for today and that he needs to return home." The officer then looked down at him. "You heard the man, return home. When the situation has been cleared your parents will be informed." He smiled while nodding his head. "Ok," His expression completely changed to one of disappointment when he turned back for the street side. "And I only had one more question I wanted to ask." He looked up ahead to see his friends still across the street. But it wasn't just them, they were with two officers who were now in the process of heading back his way. There was only one thing to make of this. "That would explain why they never joined me, they must have been escorted back to the other side when they attempted to cross." After making sure the roadway was clear of traffic he made the trip back to the other side, crossing paths with the officers who smiled down at him. He waved in turn giving his biggest smile. "Conan, did you find out what is going on," Genta asked just as Conan stepped up onto the sidewalk. "Those two only told us that school is closed for the day, they wouldn't give a reason for why." "The police withholding information from you guys is understandable, after all we're only kids," reminded Conan. "Even if we are the Detective Boys." "What about you," Haibara asked looking him directly in the eyes. "Did you have any better luck?" He grinningly nodded. "Fortunately I ran into Officer Takagi who is working the case." His friends looked to one another, then back at him. "So there is a case after all." Mitsuhiko said pleased to have this confirmed. "Yes, and according to Officer Takagi it has something to do with that new drug that has been getting covered on the news this whole week," Conan revealed. He paused before giving the next bit of information. "One of the teachers here at Teitan Elementary was infected somehow." They gasped at the learned "How bad is it, what is their current condition?" Mitsuhiko asked. "It isn't Kobayashi-sensei is it?!" Ayumi followed. Conan immediately shook his head. "Officer Takagi referred to the teacher in question as 'he', so it can't be Kobayashi-sensei. I wasn't given the teachers name nor the state of his condition," Conan said. "We were joined by another police officer before I had the opportunity to find out any of that." "So what do we do now?" Ayumi asked. "What we always do," Genta declared raising his hand high. "We the Detective Boys are going to get to the bottom of this!" "Yeea!" Chanted both Ayumi and Mitsuhiko who both pumped their fists into the air. They followed this up by marching off proudly. "Do you guys even have a clue as to where we're going to start," inquired Conan. His words were ignored completely, which left him to shake his head. "Hey, hey.." "I guess it can't be helped," Haibara said. She gave a half smile, before turning and following the others. "This case is becoming more complex by the day," He looked back at the school once more. "There is still a lot I don't know. And there is not much I can do until I get certain things answered." There was no getting around this, without gaining more knowledge on the situation he simply did not have a means for locking onto the source of the problem. His clutter of thoughts would be invaded by the enter of a voice. "Are you coming?" He looked her way, standing there for several silent moments before shaking his head. "I'm going to return to the agency. I'll regroup with you guys later." The look on his face said it all. He was planning something, what that was however was an uncertainty. She chose not to ask, opting instead to follow after the others. "If you need anything you know where to find me," Haibara said. It took little time for her to catch up with the others; it also didn't take long for them to notice someone was missing. "Ai-chan, is Conan-kun not coming as well?" "He has something important he needs to do," Haibara replied. She glanced back to find he was already gone. "And once he completes whatever that may be I'm sure he'll rejoin us." "You're probably right." Nothing more was said on the matter. But even as they walked she couldn't help but think about what was going to happen next. "Shinichi, just what do you plan on doing?" …. He had been on it for hours. The given message needed to convey one of uncertainty, the details surrounding its merits needed to be a perfect picture held in front of a mirror. Months had passed since beginning of this project, and now it was finally complete. His left hand swayed through the air in tune with the techno beat that played on the music box that sat upon the desk where all his working materials resided. His eye took an interest to something he saw displayed on the TV a short distance away. The headline read, "Breaking News". He instantly stopped what he was working on. Wasting no time he turned off the music box before reaching for the remote to the television to turn up the volume. "What do we have here?" "We now bring Breaking News to the citizens Gotham City," reported a news anchor who was now on screen. "There was a break in at Gotham museum tonight, and according to witness reports a man in a whole suit of white was spotted. That's right folks, according to several witnesses it appears we've been visited by none other than the infamous Kaitou Kid himself!" For those who hadn't heard of him a picture of him was displayed on TV for all to see. "We have not yet been given the details for what was taken, when that information becomes available we will share that with you. They call him the greatest thief of Japan, he could also very well be the sharpest master mind Gotham has ever seen.. ok so that last bit is debatable," the anchor woman admitted. "I guess I can't hide my inner fan girl!" The TV screen was met with a flying wrench, shattering the screen completely as he shot up from where he sat. Now infuriated he clutched his fists in disgust. "Sharpest mind Gotham has ever seen! Oh we shall see about that, they will come to detest the day that thought ever came to mind!" They laughed hysterically as their head flung back. "Oh yess, soon the world will see who the true greatest master mind is!" ….. He returned early from his night stroll, spending only minutes down in the cave before heading to the upper floors. Now in a tank top and a pair of jeans he found way to the study. Once there he had a seat at the desk, leaning back in the chair as he looked out the window to spot the moon in the clear. "Back so soon Master Bruce. I presume you found what you were looking for?" Bruce shifted in the chair to see him standing in the doorway. "The Ghost Dragons that evaded me earlier, I know how they escaped," Bruce began. "That bullet I found was just a few feet away from a manhole, and when I took a look inside I found evidence that it had just been used recently." "Are you suggesting the Ghost Dragons base of operations is down in the sewers?" "I spent the last hour looking into that possibility, but it doesn't appear that is the case," Bruce replied. "Though I do believe the sewers might be a frequent traveling option for them, so I'll keep that in mind with any future confrontations." "I'll be sure the others gain traction of this bit of information." "That's not all Alfred," Bruce said pulling out a mobile device which he then laid focus on. "I just learned of two incidents that occurred in Tokyo in the last hour. Crane's toxin was used again, the victims this time was a teacher and a student. Both cases are not directly linked, for each incident occurred at different schools." "Not that this situation wasn't already out of hand, but how does Crane's toxin end up at schools?" "There's a lot still unanswered Alfred. I'm done being reactive," Bruce declared fiddling with the device in hand. "It is time we tried a more proactive approach." "Master Bruce, what are you doing?" "Billing a ticket for the next plane to Tokyo, Japan," replied Bruce. "Whatever operation Scarecrow has running is going to be shut down, that I can assure." "So you plan on returning to Japan?" He looked over at him as he shook his head. "No, there are too many important matters here in Gotham I need to take care of. But rest assured this will all soon be resolved." Bruce assured. Though he didn't know the details of his plan he chose not to question it. Instead he looked to another matter that had found its way to their door step. "What about the strand of hair uncovered at the museum?" "I ran a scan on it before I came up," Bruce replied. "It will be a time before the results come back. Until then it is a wait and see approach with Kid. I'm still uncertain of what his ultimate plan is. The particular museum he infiltrated was not backed by Wayne security, so that completely negates my earlier deduction of what I believed to be his goal. Furthermore I haven't figured out why he chose the Revenant Statues of all things to take." "This Kid thief is quite the mystery." "One that will unravel itself in due time," Bruce said certain of this. "For now I'll focus on Scarecrow and the Ghost Dragons, they are of the highest priority." "Is there anything I can help with?" He eased back in the seat once more, pausing for a moment before speaking. "Go and find Damian. There is something I need to discuss with him." Alfred nodded before turning for the door. "Will do sir." ….. The morning paper was held in one hand with a can of beer tightly gripped in the other. His eyes surveyed over the many articles, ranging from sports news to job listings. But above all there was one single article on this particular day that graced his undivided interest. And it had nothing to do with the article per say, but rather the picture of several women in bathing suits headlining the article. He puffed his cheeks, exhaling with a release of excitement. However all would be swatted away by the sound of the door opening across the room. His eyes fired that way, watching just as he walked in past the door. "Oh, it's only you," Kogoro noted before looking back at the paper. A matter of seconds was all it took before he realized. He lowered the paper as he stared over at him once again. "What are you doing back from school so soon?" He looked to him as well with a direct answer to give. "School is closed for the day." Conan informed. "Is that right?" The look on his face turned to one of suspicion. The phone rang in that instance which prevented him from inquiring further on the matter. He answered the phone to see who was calling. He didn't speak a single word, only listening to what was being conveyed from the end. After roughly twenty seconds he hanged up the phone before having all focus drag back to the paper. Seeing this sudden change in demeanor he couldn't help but question him. "Kogoro-no-Ojisan; who was that?" Still surveying over the contents of the paper he responded. "That was a recorded message from your school saying they're closed for the day due to a disturbance." "Gee, talk about a delay." After traveling half way across the room he was stopped once more. "Hey free loader, while you were up at the school did you happen find out the details surrounding this 'disturbance'?" He looked over at him before nodding. "Yes. Officer Takagi was there, so he told me the little that he knew before sending me home." "And what was it he told you?" Kogoro asked dropping the paper in hand completely. Before he had the chance to reply detective Mouri's cell phone buzzed from in his jacket. He pulled it out, looking down at the number to see who was calling before taking the call. Conan stood in wait. The call lasted for over a minute. Once finished he placed the phone on top of the desk before sitting back with a deep breath. "Who was that?" Conan asked. "Inspector Megure," replied Kogoro. "He told me everything that happened at Teitan Elementary, at least what is known as of now. The good news is Eilji-san is in stable condition." "Eilji-san?" "That's the name of the instructor who came in contact with the drug," Kogoro informed. "When he awakes I'm going up to the hospital to have a word with him. It is time this case got put to a rest." Conan couldn't be more pleased to learn that the victim was in stable condition. "Good. And when he awakes maybe I'll gain the essential key to solving this case." To Be Continued
  25. Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds Chapter 8 One Upped The shadow that hid within the darkness was slender and athletic in figure, giving off a display in stance which could only be described as devious. No move was made on his part, anticipating that the one standing no more than five yards away would soon take the honor. Moments passed with neither flinching an inch. Amused he finally stepping forward with the first words to convey. "I know who you are," Kaitou Kid enunciated. The one standing within the shadows did not respond, not even a nod of acknowledgement. He huffed before continuing. "You're the one who impersonated me at Skytale." A light chuckle came in response of the claimed. The one in the dark clapped as they set foot into the light to reveal themselves in full. The one now standing before him was identical in appearance, the only difference being the taunting smirk across their face. "I'm pleased you were able to deduce the code, you fulfill me with your presence." He was not interested in small talk, evident by the maintained look. "Who are you, and what do you want with me." Kaitou Kid questioned staring deep into his imposters eyes. "Not with, from," There was now a look of concern on their face. "There's something that I desire unconditionally that can only be gained from you, there's a troubled situation that embraces this very moment." His eyes perked at the spoken. While he had no idea what was meant by this, he found himself intrigued none the less. "Don't stop there." Commencing, the imposter reached into their jacket. Their hand rifled through the contents of what lay hidden away. A thirteen inch blade surfaced in the grasp of their hand soon after. "Do you know what this represents?" His eyes widened as a rush of emotions spiraled within. He looked to the sword then back to the empty look on their face, unsure of what it was they were hinting at. Before he had a chance to inquire further the sound of shattering glass was heard from above. Instinct took his eyes to the ceiling as four dark figures dropped in. "Friends of yours," asked Kaitou Kid looking back to make an alarming discovery. "He's gone." This was no time to detract himself from the situation at hand. His eyes aligned back to the other side to face the five newcomers who had arrived. They stood only a few feet away. He looked each of them over, detailing the telling apparel worn by all of them. Standing on the far left was a woman. She was athletic in form, slightly shorter than him in height. She had on white face makeup that covered most of her face. Her long black hair was tied back in a ponytail, with her bangs settling over her eyebrows. Over her eyes sat a black domino mask, one in the shape of an upside down spade.. mysterious was the thought that set in mind. His eyes trailed further down to the white shirt with a large black spade in the center of it. Further down was her black skirt which fell just above her knees. Even though they weren't very large in size he noticed a pattern of white spades that resided at the end of the skirt, a pattern circling around from front to back. She wore knee high socks which were black and white in a stripe pattern. The last detail to note was her black shoes and the single black cut glove on her left hand. His eyes then traced to the woman next to her. While lean as well, she wasn't as athletic in build. Her face was covered in white makeup as well. Her hair was a blood dark red, measuring down to her jaw. Grasping her body was a black leather suit. She wore red boots, both of which had a golden spade on the outside in design. Complementing this was a pair of soft red silk gloves on her hands. His eyes then took note of the golden belt strapped around her waist. Of everything worn by her, the item of highest visual hierarchy was the golden tiara sitting firmly atop her head. The next subject his focus landed on was the man who stood in the middle of the pack. He was big in stature, standing at an estimated six two. The first thing drew his attention was the gold crown resting on top of his head. "Do these people think they're some kind of royalty?" Just as the others there was white face makeup present on his face. He had long curly blonde hair that was shoulder length in reach. He wore a white long sleeves button shirt, the buttons being in the shape of spades and gold in color. Further down was a pair of white dress pants and gold boots. Like his comrade at his side he too sported a gold belt. Resting atop his shoulders was a white cape, one with a rich gold lacing on the boarders of it. Not wasting another moment he turned to the next man who had a huge grin on his face that couldn't be missed. He was smaller in build, no more than five eleven in height from what he was able to make out. He too was covered in white face makeup. Sitting on top of his head was a dark brown top hat. Kid's eyes slightly narrowed at the sight of seeing his hair tied in pigtails. Pushing past this detail he looked to the three piece suit worn by him. The suit itself was dark brown in color, complementing the hat nicely. The under shit was white, topped with a purple tie that brought a white designed pattern of spades. His right hand was tucked away within his pocket, grasping what appeared to be a gold chain. "A pocket watch?" But if that were the case then why did he have a watch on his left wrist? This was something that he kept in mind before looking to the final person standing amongst them. He was the largest of them all, clearly topping out in height at, at least six foot six. He wore a complete tight body black suit which covered his face as well, hiding any defining features to make note of. Clamped to the chest of the suit was a large white single spade. His eyes flickered, he could see it.. they were studying him just as much as he did them. If there was one defining detail to note, it was the 'Spade'. Each of them wore a spade in one form or another. After gazing over them all for a second time he finally decided to speak. "So.. you people must be the Council of Spades Night Stalkers," Kaitou Kid jokingly remarked. He looked over them, expecting one of them would say something in response. This however did not occur. Regardless he pressed once again. "You bunch sure are gifted speakers, that much I can say." The man in the three piece suit softly chuckled in light of this, the others however were less than amused. The silence of the group would come to an end as the man standing in the middle stepped forward. He grunted, looking him up and down before speaking. "You, I recognize you," He said showcasing a look of realization. "Yes, you're that famous Kaitou Kid of Japan, the Kid thief." He grinned as a way of acknowledgement of the suspected, all while planting his hands to his waists in prideful fashion. "My reputation precedes me." "Perhaps," The man in the suit of white conveyed. "You're well respected and admired globally by people like us, there is no mistaking that. But don't delude yourself boy, we will not be outdone by the likes of you." With just those words he learned something about the opposition. "People like us?" What was meant by this? "I never expected to see you here, let alone cross you myself," The caped man continued. "Which leads to my stance of inquiry; what brings the great Kid thief of Tokyo to the grand city of Gotham?" His arms dropped from his waist, knowing he couldn't reveal what truly brought him here. There was too much still unanswered, and besides his business was his own. Looking him dead in the eyes he answered with the most logical explanation to give. "Little dance, little sightseeing," Kaitou Kid began with the resurgence of his grin. "Little something that has caught this thief's eye, and I must collect." He turned, pointing to the two samurai beauties directly behind. "These here are the lucky goats." "Well," The caped man said with a pause. "That poses a problem, because you see.. that's what we seek, and we will have it." There was no backtracking now. He rubbed his hands together as he looked back to the man standing across from him with a new energy in his eyes. "Just who are you people anyway?" Kaitou Kid finally asked. "It's only common courtesy that I ask." "Oh, how rude of me, while we're knowledgeable about you we failed to introduce ourselves. My name is King," The man in a cape and crown revealed proudly. He then focused his attention to the man standing at the end of the line left of him. He pointed to the large man in the full body black suit before speaking. "That there is Ace, he doesn't talk much so I took the honor of introducing him myself." His eyes then traced to the man directly beside him. "And this here is." King began only to be cut off. "The name's Jack mate." The man in the three piece suit nodded with the tip of his hat. There was a significant confidence that sprung in his words, with an added cockiness. This was something he had noticed the moment he laid eyes on him. The next one to introduce themselves was the woman with the tiara residing on the top of her head. She took a step forward, gazing deep into his eyes as she spoke her intro. "I am Queen," She reveled with a sharpen narrow of her eyes. "It is a pleasure to meet you boy thief of Japan." "It's Kid." Jack said quick to correct. "The honor is mine." Kid replied. Whether they got his name right or wrong didn't bother him in the least. Even then she still stared him down. Of them all it was clear she was the most calculative, she watched his every move, his every expression even. This left one final person to reveal their name to him. The woman on the far left raised her eyes from where they stared down at the ground before softly conveying her name. "..Ten." She softly spoke. She said nothing more, dropping eye contact with him almost as soon as it was made. King swayed his arm from left to right, showcasing a look of pride before making his next announcement. "Together we are the Royal Flush Gang!" He managed another smile. "Royal Flush Gang huh, can't say I've ever heard of you guys," Kaitou Kid admitted. "But from what I've been able to gather thus far, would I be right in assuming you guys are a band of thieves?" "That would be correct." King confirmed. "So we're all one big happy family then, this has all been one gigantic misunderstanding," Kaitou Kid said raising his right arm into the air. "I will now see my exit from this dance; whatever remains is yours to take." With that he opened his hand, dropping a capsule of some kind to the ground below. It exploded on contact, bringing a large cloud of smoke. Once it cleared he was gone, but not just him.. but the two prized items as well. His eyes twitched upon this realization. "Ummmm, did he just get away," Jack questioned. "And with the Revenant Warriors?!" "Dammit!" King hissed under his breath. "Last I checked, this guy wasn't a meta." Regardless there was one amongst them who was far from worried. "Relax yourselves, he hasn't gotten away," Queen said looking back up to the broken window where they crashed in from. "Just a head start." Both King and Jack looked to one another, confusion set on both of their faces. They then looked to her, wanting an explanation for what it was she spoke. "What do you mean he has a head start?" King asked. "If we waste any more time it won't be just a head start," Queen said sidestepping the asked. "He will get away. Come comrades, we have a boy thief to catch." … There was nothing but silence within, listening as the time ticked away on the outside. He continued to wrap his mind around it all, feeling as if the answer he sought lay within arm's length. "Time's running out, I need to solve this." He knew with every passing moment that the planned finale was one step closer to erupting. But what were the details surrounding it, and if anything what could he do to prevent it? This however would receive a dagger on point, hearing the sound of an explosion that was no more than a block away from where he currently stood. "Just what I need, a distraction." The grappler sitting in place was reached for, grabbing hold of it at about the same time the sound of gunfire snapped through the air. "Something is definitely going on," Batman said slightly shifting his head right. "No doubt the Ghost Dragons are making their next move." There was no time for delay or for sidetracking himself from the matter that was unfolding, like any uproars such as this, life and death always seemed to weigh in the balance. He aimed the grappler in the direction of choice, lunging into the air while pressing down to the trigger that launched the line. "This ends now." That first swing brought the alerting sound of a ring in his left ear, letting him know of an incoming call. After touching down to the neighboring building he took the call, not surprised to hear who was on the other end. "Master Bruce there is something that has come up that you might be interested to hear." "I'm listening Alfred." Batman said as he continued on his pursuit to the location where he believed the gunfire originated. "There's been a break in sir," Alfred informed. "At the Gotham City museum." "Is that right," Batman said with a brief pause. "Have the police been alerted?" "Already on their way." "You said before this news would be something I'd be interested in hearing, agreed," Batman commented. "This could very well be the Kid Thief's first move." "First move?" "I believe there are two things he plans on setting in motion tonight," Batman replied. "This is all solely based on the criteria of his note left for us." "Is that right?" "I can't go after Kaitou now, is Robin with you?" Batman asked. "Master Damian left minutes ago, where his travels have taken him is unknown to me," Alfred informed. "I've tried contacting him but have had no luck, perhaps you would have better luck?" "No time," Batman stated. "The Ghost Dragons have in fact remerged, they are top priority." "So your concerns have panned out, I see," Alfred said. "I take it this is what resulted in you taking to the streets so soon?" "Yes, their actions already have them crossing fire with the police." "Oh dear," Alfred gulped. "I never expected they would go on the offensive the moment of their return." "Alfred, I want you to contact Batgirl." "For?" "Instruct her to head to the museum, if Kaitou Kid is there he won't get away," Batman said certain of this. "I'll round up as many of the Dragons as I can." "Will do sir, is there anything else that I can do for you?" "Keep me posted on any other activity." "You have my word." "Batman out." The transmission between the two came to an end with that, leaving him to focus strictly on the task at hand. The sound of gunfire had since ceased since hearing their calls only seconds ago. After a soaring glide down to a smaller building he focused his attention to the alley now within his window of sight. "This was where the sound of gunfire came from," Batman said surveying his eyes from end to end."Yet no one is here?" He kept his eyes sharp. There was no sign of the police or the Ghost Dragons. Shots had just been fired moments ago, and since there was no one to be seen it raised the question of where they might have gone. That was only his initial thought. There were no injured spotted, could it be that the target of the fired was not another person? If so, then what? There was no telling what it could have been from his position. He'd have to move in closer to gain a better understanding. There was no second guessing, he leaped down from the ledge of the building into the darkness of the alley in hopes light would shed some truth to the mystery that presented itself. The ground was reached momentarily. He immediately went to work on scouting the area, taking all but one step before noticing something on the ground directly below. "What's this?" He kneeled down, grabbing hold of what had caught his attention. He raised it in hand to find exactly what it was. "A bullet." ….. He moved with persuasion, feeling the delight of success inside as the warm breeze of the night passed through his hair as he leaped from one building to the next. And though he had obtained the sought what was next? If his imposter was truly after them then there was no doubt they'd be coming for them. Had they truly been scared off by the Royal Flush Gang, or was there more to it? But above all, what did they want with him? After all they had lured him to Gotham. "I have no doubt I'll cross with my lookalike again, but just who are they," Kaitou Kid questioned. If one thing was clear it was that there was something they needed of him. But what? Above all, who were they? He would need more before being able to determine the face on the opposite side of the coin. Just as he landed on top of another roof he heard something zoom by from above. "What was that?" He looked up into the sky to find an unexpected sight. It was the Royal Flush Gang; and they were floating in midair due to the hover boards they stood upon, ones that resembled spade playing cards. "Did you really think you could escape us?" King said descending down to join him. Kaitou Kid smiled as he watched King drop down from the hover board. "Nice ride! Can your mom make me one?" Kaitou Kid teasingly taunted. Ignoring him King pushed straight to the subject. "Give them to me," King demanded as he clutched his fist. "Hand over the Revenant Warriors." "Revenant Warriors… that must be the name of the samurais," Kaitou Kid realized. He huffed, turning his back to him before speaking his decline. "Forgive me my king, for I cannot concede to your plea." He immediately launched himself toward the next building. "Get him!" King commanded. And thus the chase began. He trotted from one building to the next in attempt to stay ahead of those who he found now in pursuit of him. "I have to admit, those things are quite handy." There was no slow in their pursuit, soaring from side to side as they closed the gap with every passing second. They were clearly faster then, knowing he'd have to make up for a lack thereof speed with his maneuverability. "How long do you plan on keeping this up," Kaitou Kid asked. "No way you'll be able to catch a talent such as myself. "Your arrogance clouds you boy." Queen jeered in response. "If you say so, girl." Kaitou Kid grinningly retorted. This irked her, but she made sure as not to let it show. "Being the first to capture you will be an honor." Jack noted. He smiled in light of this. "No way I'm going to escape given the current circumstances.. I need leeway for an escape." Kid plotted in mind. He knew what needed to be done, picking up in length with each stride while maintaining a balance as not to throw himself off point as he continued to run. His adrenaline was pumping on all cylinders now. Without warning Ten drilled past him with an igniting burst, stopping directly in his path as the two locked eyes. His reaction had to be immediate, planting his left foot roughly before shifting his sights right and lunging off of the building with a launching jump. "He cannot escape!" King roared. "That was close." Kaitou Kid said to himself as he free fell in midair. Expectedly he unleashed his glider to grant him flight. "Bad move boy," Queen quipped. "The skies favor us." "You can't really be expecting to out gain us with a simple glider." Jack added. "You're right, that would be foolish for me to believe," Kaitou Kid agreed. "This is why we are going to play a little game of catch the snake." "Catch..?" Ten murmured to herself. None of them could have been prepared for what happened next. Without warning he took a drastic nose dive with the motion of his glider. "Is he crazy!" King stated as he and the rest of the Royal Flush gang took off after him. He listened to the whistle of the air current. "Good, they're following." Everything was going as planned. With a shift in push he leveled upward once again, catching a boost from the wind that headed in the direction of choice. This sudden move put him above the gang of thieves who now chased, just as he anticipated. He reached into his jacket to extract the next part in his plan. "Hey princess," Kaitou Kid said glancing over his left shoulder. He looked directly into Queen's eyes before releasing something from his jacket, an item which was tossed directly toward her. "Catch." "It's the Snake Revenant, he just tossed it!" Jack exclaimed. "Don't let it hit the ground!" King roared. The pressure fell squarely on her shoulder as she sized the 'prize' up, accounting not only for the swirling path it fell in but for the wind conditions as well. This all lasted but two seconds, reaching out and grabbing hold of it before it could fall past her. "Got it!" Just as those words blew past her lips a beaming flash of light exploded, blinding all who had set eye on the warrior statue; in this case being all members of the Royal Flush Gang. It took many seconds before their eyes readjusted to what surrounded them. She immediately looked down into the possession of her hands, confirming it was indeed the Revenant Snake warrior that had been thrown her way. But this was only one of two. The Dragon warrior statue was gone, and so was Kid. "Damn him," King venomously hissed under his breath. He calmed himself, looking into the clear to find nothing but an empty sky. "The Kid thief just crossed the wrong pack. No one crosses the Royal Flush Gang." To Be Continued
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