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Batman/Detective Conan_Deck of Minds

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Another Batman/Detective Conan crossover.

 

A Peak into Tomorrow

Darkness… a gap in time before the beginning of life

The same in the arrival of death

In between,

A fine line to walk

From the dawn of creation one is built through the road in which one creates, gaining through the given experiences that life sweeps one's way. Through this character is achieved, a cemented makeup that defines ones very essence as an individual.. a barrier that cannot be broken.

"Or so I thought."

What happens when all you've been taught is challenged? And when all prior belief sinks into doubt? How are you to look to those you trust for guidance when those same friends and allies are truly a hidden enemy? A tear in foundation is sure to ensue, one which will foster its reach throughout the confines of one's very soul.

No more trust, only an undeniable betrayal of those who had offered a hope

No more strength, lost to my body and mind alike

No more drive, all determination had come to seize in wake of my obtained failure

No more hope, my faith has collapsed in finding a means to an end

There is only one thing that has remained for me through it all, darkness.

His remaining strength was little, evident by how he weakly descended down the long fleet of stairs toward the destined location that awaited his arrival. With each step a phrase of set words conveyed to him several months ago played back in his mind repeatedly, months which now felt as if years had come to pass.

"Close your eyes, and in that time allow darkness to carry you to the other side. And when you shed eye once again, you will have arrived."

It wasn't until now that those words began forming into clarity. He pressed on in staggering exhaustion, breathing heavily as a knifing pain soared through his legs. The end was soon reached. It was here that his heart began to race in full stride, glancing directly into the eye of the demon that called for his presence across the way. Even in the wake of his doubt there was no turning back. A heated line of sweat slid down the left side of his face as he commenced, bringing a burn to the small cut on his left cheek.

The gap fell to just inches between him and the opposition after just moments. With the choice to be made there would be no turning back, the life once knew would seize its place to anew. But in doing so he would make the ultimate sacrifice, betraying a promise made to a close friend and ally who had stood by his side from the very beginning of what had come to conspire. A stream of tears formed within his eyes, trailing downward like flakes of water drops upon an oak tree after a passing storm. In disgust his sights retorted toward the floor below in a rejecting defiance to what he knew was to come. With a final cry of emotion to give he spoke a final claim, knowing their partnership of so long would now come to an untimely end.

"Kudo, Shinichi… forgive me," Silence ensued as he focused eye to the one who awaited his decision to make. He inhaled once more before closing his eyes with those defining words returning. "Close your eyes, and in that time allow darkness to carry you to the other side. And when you shed eye once again, you will have arrived."

With the final line clocking through mind his heart seemingly stopped, bringing about an undeniable fright that was capped off by the chanting sound of an army of swarming bats in the clear. In that moment there was nothing but fear, one of death accompanied by only darkness. If the other side was to be reached, could there perhaps be light?

Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds

Con_Batman.jpg

 
To Be Continued

 

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Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds

Chapter 2

The Shows Beginning

 

Several Months ago, When it began

After time and preparation the day finally arrived. The stage was set, and with a week’s notification the chase was about to begin. There was no real secrecy in his approach as he entered the secure room to find the glass case in the center, concealing the prized possession he had set out to obtain. Another step only triggered the alarm, something that came as no surprise. There was no stop in their step as they diligently proceeded forward. Its announcement ignited soon after, the echoing sound of footsteps traveling through the walls on all sides.

A notorious smile came upon his face. “They’re on their way, excellent.”

The clarity in its tune only heightened, an indication they were nearing. With another step the glass case was finally reached. Swaying his left hand up he reached into the right side of the worn jacket, reeling out a paddle of some kind. “Batter up.” He chorused grinningly as he took one clean swipe at the top of the glass case. It didn’t shatter, something he had anticipated.

“Just as I thought.”

With those words leaving his lips the room was raided from the doorway behind. Glancing over his shoulder he came to find several armed officers standing in the clear with guns pointed directly at him.

“Hands in the air, and turn around,” One of the officers in a suit of armor demanded. The opposition’s smirk only widened as he complied with the given command. Feeling a level of control the officer sighed in relief before speaking her next order. “Now, put your hands behind your head and get on your knees.”

All weapons in hand were held tightly, keeping locked onto the target as they waited for his move to make.

“As you wish, fellow officers,” He responded by dropping to his knees all while raising both hands to the back of his head in a circular motion. The assurance in his voice only put them on full alert, sensing a deception in the mist. “So what happens now.. is this the part where you arrest me?”

His indirect taunt was ignored as the officer with the sway of her hand signaled for two of the others to walk over and apprehend the sitting target. Even with things seemingly at a breaths success there was still a looming tension. The distance between them and him came to within a few yards before a booming sound launched; one which sounded as if something was being sprayed from an unknown area of the room.

“What is that?!” Another officer exclaimed.

The grin from before was replaced by a look of testimony, a given look which was followed by the drop of their arms back to their side. “The call of test is complete, now onto the Prince’s saddle.” The captive dispensed to all.

That moment brought a blinding dust of smoke that filled the room, taking away all sight from those who dared to gaze at its arrival.

“No, don’t let him get away,” The head officer exclaimed. There was no way of acting on this given their current predicament. After seconds of a fog infested room the smoke cleared out in gradual fashion. Their biggest fear came into fruition with their vision now clear. The man they sought was nowhere to be seen. The leading officer hissed in disgust. “Dammit, he got away!”

Her surge of anger was soon weathered down, replaced by an undoubtable confusion. The targeted diamond was still in place, securely sitting behind the glass case. But why… why hadn’t it been taken? It was in the thought of this that she noticed something lying on the ground directly in-front of the table where the glass case resided.

“What is that,” She questioned as she marched over. Once in distance she dropped down with an obvious curiosity. Once in range she grabbed hold of what had caught her attention, bringing the item to eye to find it was only a card, one sporting the so very iconic insignia many had come recognize. A tap fell upon her shoulder the next second resulting in her turning around.

“Officer, Officer Sato,” One called from where they stood. “He’s gone, what do we do now?”

She stood back to her feet, turning to face him as she did.

“Search the room, the entire facility.”

“But..”

“If he’s still here there’s a chance we can still apprehend him.”

“But shouldn’t we call it in?”

“Leave that to me, you just worry about getting that search started.”

“Got it.”

He did as instructed, turning back to command the others who were clearly waiting for further instruction. This left her the chance to sink back into her thoughts, but instead of choosing to do so she reached for something in her pocket, taking little navigation before recovering her phone. A number was immediately dialed, raising the phone to her ear which brought the tune of a ring.

Hello,” A soft and lively voice answered moments later. “This is the Tokyo Police Headquarters, how may I help you?”

“This is Officer Sato,” She informed. “I’d like to speak with the superintendent; we have had an unexpected turn of events with the… thief.”

Please hold, I’ll see if he’s around.”

With those final words the wait began. It was also in this time a rehash of thoughts flooded to the surface, particularly pertaining to the card found on the ground. Why not take what he had come here for, why leave behind a card with no explanation to give? But above all there was one thing that loomed above all else in her mind.

How did I get myself into this?”

-------------------------------

Even with the absence of several clouds that had been present the night before the scent left in its wake could still breathed clear. The crack of dawn had finally arrived. After what seemed to be an endless trial of escaping the unavoidable the run seemingly came to a halt. They extended their arm outward in attempt to lean upon a light pole that had been reached. The rush could still be felt from the lengths traveled, the distance an uncertainty.

After the many turns, twists, roads passed, and intersection crossed had the race finally come to an end? As time passed their heart tabbed down to normal levels. They breathed out in a sigh of relief as they pushed away from the light pole with a tiring grunt.

Finally, it’s over.”

They pressed on from where they stood, feeling a growing stress in their legs. The pain was blocked into the far reaches of their mind, feeding into its pain would do them no good. Even as they continued to trot along they remained weary, constantly looking from one end of the street to the other, glancing behind every so often to make sure nothing lurked.

Without warning their heart began to dance once more, triggered by something from above. A chill fell down their spine as they looked to the sky to find nothing soaring in the clear. This only heightened the tension within. Was it paranoia, had they lost all reason? Through instinct they ran once again. The end of the block was coming in range; however they chose to stop due to a sudden sound that whistled from their blind side.

“What was that?”

There was nothing to spot on hindsight, however there was a subtle growl that wisped as they slowly turned and locked eyes with the beast which flashed its fangs as if to present a challenge.

“No, not again!!!!”

Not waiting for its move to make they raced forward only to catch eye of a large snake slithering down a light pole at the end of the block. Panic soared in wake of this. Fear reached its max with the roar from the skies above, looking upward as several ravens zoned in on him from all sides.

“No, why?!!”

There would be no giving in, attempting to run only to trip over something at ground level. A means to an end closed in immediately with the hiss of the snake, the bark of the beast, and the calling of the ravens above. They were to weakened to move, knowing their fate was now sealed. The fear had run its course, finally exceeding the breaking point as they reached across their body to clutch their chest. They coughed out with one last breath to give, feeling as all life was sucked from within.

……………………………………..

With every success loomed a fail. Of all assignments given to them since taking the next step in progression this was the first met with fail. But regardless of this there would be no backing down in light of a single slip. The mechanical doors to the building were reached, watching as they automatically slid off to the side upon her arrival.

The front desk was the place of destination, holding up ID for the clerk working the lobby to see as they passed.

“Welcome back Sato-san, the boss has been expecting you.”

She simply nodded, heading straight for the elevators that resided further up. Contemplating on what she was to say once she came face to face with the boss was something that had been on her mind since the previous night. After entering the elevator they made way to the third floor, exiting to see the door to the office clear down the hall. It took small time for her to fall within range of the door. Once there she reached out with a moderate knock, gaining the response from the person on the other side.

“It’s open, come in.”

The invitation was accepted. She walked in to find him standing by the window side left of the room. He shifted with the turn of his broad shoulders to lock eyes with her own, stepping away from the window to greet her in full.

“Superintendent, I tried getting in contact with you last night,” Miwako began as she closed the door she had entered through. “Unfortunately you had left the office by that time.”

“Yes, this information was conveyed to me earlier today,” Kiyonaga replied. “And while your efforts might have come up short in your assignment in assisting the SCU, don’t let it discourage you.”

“I will not,” Miwako assured. She paused for a moments time before taking another step deeper into the room. “And by now you’re probably already aware the mission was a fail, despite the SCU’s set up and reactive efforts we were not able to catch Kid.”

“Yes, I’m fully aware of that,” Kiyonaga acknowledged. “But you shouldn’t be disappointed as you seem to be, Kaitou Kid never makes it easy for whomever is coming after him, and besides last night had you out of your element.”

“I know, but...”

“But the details of how he got away aren’t as interesting as what was left behind,” Kiyonaga began as he leaned back against the wall. “The jewel in question, has anyone been able to determine why Kaitou Kid left it behind?”

“Not as of yet sir,” Miwako replied before pulling something out from her top pocket. “But that wasn’t the only thing left at the scene, but this as well.”

He walked forward, holding out the item which had been sealed away in a plastic covering. “A card.” Miwako informed before handing it over to her superior.

“I see, and one with the insignia of the kid thief himself,” Kiyonaga analyzed while flipping it over to the opposite side to find another marking. “A check mark?”

“Yes, none from the SCU were able to determine the relevance behind it, what do you think,” She stood in silence for seconds to come, wondering if he would be able to make something out of it. “Well?”

“The checkmark is obviously hinting at something,” Kiyonaga answered giving eye contact once again. “I’m sorry to say, but admittedly I’m just clueless as to what it represents myself.”

With that said the card was handed back to her before he stepped around his desk to have a seat on the other side.

“The Kid is no longer our problem regardless,” Kiyonaga said looking to shift topics. “Now onto why I specifically had you summoned.”

“There’s something else you wanted to discuss?”

“Yes there is, a problem I’m sure that has been brought to your attention at some point this week,” Kiyonaga began. The change in tone and the altered look in expression called for her full attention. “There is a new drug on the street, one which has taken the lives of over fifty eight people from what has been documented.”

……………..........................

What had started off as a quiet beginning to the day had now shifted to what most would consider less than typical. But in his case answering to a call such as this was considered protocol. The sun looked on from above, hanging high to reveal all to the eye. There was only one thing in mind, what would they come to find? Shortly thereafter up to four police patrol cars could be seen, letting them know they had arrived. Crime scene tape masked off the area from the general public.

Their vehicle came to a halt soon after. He was the second to ascend from the cab, choosing to stick to the rare as the two made their way over to where the activity was underway. They weren’t engaged until reaching the first patrol car, greeted by a welcoming and familiar smile that could be found upon his face.

“Good to see you Mouri-san, we’re glad you could make it on such short notice.”

“Luckily you called when you did; I was just getting ready to head out at the time.” Kogoro notified.

“Nothing of importance I hope?”

“Not more than this,” Kogoro assured while surveying the area. “Where’s Inspector Megure Takagi-san, I thought for sure he’d be here.”

“He just received the call ten minutes ago,” Wataru replied. “It shouldn’t take long for him to make an appearance.”

It was after this the he took notice of him standing down at his side.

“Conan-kun,” Wataru said with surprise to be heard in his voice. “I had no idea you’d be coming as well.”

“He insisted, I agreed only under the condition that he doesn’t get in the way,” Kogoro said glaring down at him in a suggestive matter. “Something we’re both completely clear on.”

“You have my word Oji-san.” Conan smilingly promised.

“I’ll hold you to it,” Kogoro murmured before turning back to face him. “So what’s the deal, the details of this case given to me over the phone were pretty vague.”

“Come, I’ll explain after you get a look for yourself.”

He directed the two of them with the wave of his hand, both stepping past the crime scene tape as they followed him around a patrol car sitting before them. It was after breaking this barrier that the body in question came into view, lying just feet away on the sidewalk face down.

“Who was he?” Kogoro asked immediately.

“Rio Tanakai,” Wataru replied. “According to the ID taken from his wallet.”

“Cause of death?”

“It seems to be a heart attack,” Wataru replied. “One which was triggered by something.”

“Was he intoxicated?”

“Yes,” Wataru confirmed. “But not by alcohol, but rather a drug.”

“A drug?”

“Yes, a new drug that has come to our attention within this last month,” Wataru continued. “It appears this drug affects the mind in particular, causing anyone to use it to experience… how should I say, terrifying episodes.”

“What do you mean?”

“The people found alive after taking or being exposed to this unmarked drug have shown to fear anything or anyone near them, even the subtlest of sounds seem to rattle anyone under the influence.”

“A paranoia?” Conan questioned.

Wataru nodded in response. “More or less.”

“Not what I was expecting to hear,” Kogoro admitted. “How many cases have been called in involving this new drug?”

“Well over a hundred,” Wataru replied. “Two hundred fourteen deaths in all thus far; fifty eight of them occurring here in Tokyo.”

There was a curiosity after hearing this. “What other cities has this drug been reported to have been used in?” Conan asked.

“Sendai and Nagoya, respectively.”

“What about the drugs origin, do we know where it came from?”

“Given the compounds found in the drug we believe it’s being shipped in internationally,” Wataru answered. “Though we’ve yet to confirm that.”

“And you’re sure the deceased died from this mentioned drug?” Kogoro asked.

“His blood was tested with the results coming back green,” Wataru confirmed. “There’s no doubt about it.”

“And the person to have discovered the body?”

“Over there,” Wataru said pointing to the left. “I’ll take you over if you wish to speak with her.”

“I’d ask for nothing more.”

“Alright then,” Wataru said heading that way. “Follow me.”

With the two leaving the immediate scene this left him alone to reflect on all details known. A hand found way to his chin as he walked forward.

While speaking of the drug itself officer Takagi mentioned the word ‘exposed’… that’s a detail in itself,” Conan thought. “That would imply the drug wasn’t taken by injection, but rather through inhaling or absorption through the skin.”

The body of the victim was reached in those next moments, beginning examination right away. They were covered from top to bottom in clothing, from the sweatpants and sweatshirt to the sneakers and black gloves upon their hands.

It’s a relatively warm day, the amount in apparel worn by the deceased supports that they were afraid of something, why else wear so much clothing,” Conan detailed. “They might have truly believed someone was after them which in turn made them feel the need to conceal their identity.”

He lowered himself to a knee to have a look into the victim’s eyes which were still open, able to see an anxiety and exhaust within them. After sighting this he took notice of the deceased’s right arm buried under his body. With further examination he was able to find the victim had been gripping the area around their heart.

“Consistent with the determination of a heart attack just like he said,” Conan noted as he stood back to his feet to search the terrain. “But why here, what caused it all to end here at this very spot?”

With that question looming his eyes fixated on a crack in the sidewalk a few feet away from the body, now starting to get a visual of how things might have unfolded.

“No doubt he unintentionally tripped in attempt to run after passing that crack in the ground,” Conan determined. “Given the position of the body and the crack in the ground that must mean he was traveling from the west, which means there’s a high possibility he walked through the mall center.. if that is so one of the city camera’s is bound to have caught him on tape.”

But finding out the details of his last hours wasn’t enough, not in his mind. And to top it off, there was no way he was going to crack the case by what was here. He’d have to investigate elsewhere.

“To truly solve this would be to go directly to the source to prevent further incidents,” Conan stated before reaching into his pocket. “Which means finding out who is manufacturing and shipping the drug.”

The navigation to what he wanted was grabbed in no time, pulling out his phone to call the person best suited to help him figure out just that. Within moments his voice spoke from the other end.

Shinichi..”

“Dr. Agasa, I need your help,” Conan announced. “There’s something I need you to look into for me.”

What’s going on,” Hiroshi questioned. “Does this have something to do with a case?”

“Yes, apparently some new drug has found its way to the street,” Conan began. “One that is deadly.”

Are you speaking of the drug that has sent its users into a paranoid frenzy?”

“You’ve heard of it?” Conan asked almost surprised by this.

It was being covered on the news late last night; I knew it would only be a matter of time before you learned of it and took interest,” Hiroshi informed. “Which is why I took the liberty of investigating the matter myself.”

“I can always count on you,” Conan said as he came upon a cross intersection. He made sure all was clear before making way to the other side. “So what turned up in your search?”

As I’m certain you already know the drug has turned up in Nagoya, Tokyo, and Sendai,” Hiroshi began. “Taking in the possibility that the drug was shipped in from out of state I looked into all international purchases that were sent into each city.”

“And?”

Mongolia and Novosibirsk Russia,” Hiroshi replied. “But nothing that would call for suspicion.”

“I thought that much, being that the police came to the same conclusion,” Conan said. “Let’s think of it this way, if someone was sending out drugs wouldn’t they want to keep their business concealed with some kind of insurance, that can be done by shipping it through various locations before reaching its true point.”

That makes sense.”

“Furthermore according to Officer Takagi this episode began a month ago, which gives us a timeline to work with.”

Indeed.”

“Here’s my thinking, whoever is sending the drugs isn’t doing it through direct connection, but possibly from a third destination,” Conan theorized. “Which means our answer lies within finding out shipments sent to both Russia and Mongolia from other locations within the last month; and if all goes right we should find the site of origin.”

Which has been done.”

A look of surprise fell upon his face after hearing this. “What, you already looked into the possibility?”

Yes, admittedly it was Ai’s initiative which led to this,” Hiroshi credited. “She thought you might come to the same conclusion.”

“Why am I not surprised,” Conan spoke softly. “And what did the results amount to?”

Of the two possibilities Novosibirsk is the one we believe there is a connection to be made.”

“How so?”

While there is several shipments to be documented sent from place to place worldwide Novosibirsk has seen an increasing amount of goods sent in from two locations in North America,” Hiroshi informed. “All which began just over a month ago.”

“Is that right,” Conan said taking an obvious interest. “And the names of these two places?”

Tampa Florida; and a city further north of there known as Gotham.” Hiroshi informed.

“That’s a start,” Conan commented. “This gives us a foundation to work off of, thank you Doc.”

What now Shinichi?”

“Wait there,” Conan replied. “I’m on my way.”

Then I’ll see you soon.”

With that the conversation came to an end. And though there was still much to discover, his confidence couldn’t be any more leveled.

Not matter the distance away or deception used by the ones responsible, only one thing is certain… truth will prevail, and I’ll be there to see it through.”

To Be Continued

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Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds

Chapter 3

Piece to the Puzzle

Could it be any more climatic? The stakes were on the brink of peaking over the edge. One move right or wrong would ultimately decide the outcome to an end for an encounter that had seemingly carried on for a lifetime. Only a distance and the darkness of the shadows that peered stood between him and the chased. And with the gap closing with each moment there was still the fact of the unknown, a path which lead only to that of the faceless.

He was close. A scent came on strong from the surrounding area. A cool breeze blew in the opposite direction, whispering as if to convey a message.. a warning? All seemingly slowed to the mind; feeling as if each step taken was in an eternity in itself. A heart leaped at the excitement of the chase.

Had they truly heard the call of the one they pursued, or was it his own beat that had rung clear to him? A disturbance launched from within, finding his legs depart as he fell forward with the clutch of his chest. There was no stopping the fall to the ground, toppling to his backside with a wail of pain to release. It was here that a wetness fell from above, an obvious drizzle of rain which seemed only there as a means of taunting. The sharpness in his chest only broadened, watching as a dark figure appeared, standing over him with a plain look to express. There was nothing to make out, nothing but those dark eyes that seemed to gaze right into his soul, a stare which sent a shock through his heart which snapped him back into reality.

He pushed up with the open of his eyes, coming to a realization that couldn't be more comforting. "A dream… just another dream." The room was nearly pitch dark, the only lighting coming from the moon that peaked in through the window deeper into the room. It was only at this moment that he found his right hand gripped to his chest just as it had in the dream, lowering it as he took a deep breath of sighing realization. "That's the third one in the last two weeks.."

He closed his eyes for several seconds, reopening them shortly after. He shifted in position to glance over at the digital clock aside the bed.

'11:26 P.M.'

The day had gone, his time had come. As he stepped out of bed a knock could be heard at the door on the far side of the room. "I'll be there in just a moment." He grabbed hold of a pair of pants and a shirt that had been sitting atop the dresser on his way across. Once the door was reached he opened it to a routine greeting.

"Good evening Master Wayne, I take it your rest was serviceable?"

Pulling the shirt over his head he responded. "Alfred, has there been an update on the situation in the last hour?"

"No," The trusty butler replied. "The investigation is still pending."

His eyes narrowed in contemplating fashion. ".. I see."

"You don't sound surprised."

"When it comes to Crane, there's bound to be a crossroads."

With nothing further to add he turned for the left side, beginning to walk down the long dark hall as his hands found place in his pockets. "Master Wayne, where are you going?" Alfred inquired.

"The cave."

It was now time to clear out all doubts and anything that cluttered the path from the truth itself. There was only one thing that mattered, the mission, one which now found its path tangled with a face a familiarity. It was not only dark but relatively silent as he walked along, hearing only the occasional sound of the wind that soared by from the outsides of the mansion. He slightly leaned forward in position after beginning his ascension down the staircase to the floor below. There was a growing fear of uncertainty to be felt with each passing moment, something he couldn't quite grasp his conscious around for why. Was there any true barring to it?

The main floor was reached with yet another step taken, immediately turning his attention left to a door directly across the way. "Almost there." The door was reached a short time after. He opened the door to find himself in the room the 'family' had come to know as 'The Study'. There would be no stopping there. He made way toward a large Grandfather Clock, one which stood even over him in height. He stopped, taking note of the presence of another in the room.

"Will you be coming down as well, Alfred?" Bruce asked turning back to see him standing in the doorway.

"Not my intent sir," Alfred replied. "There's actually something else I wanted to bring to your attention."

"About?"

"A business concern," Alfred informed. "A message was left for you from a representative at Wayne Enterprises detailing an incident that they felt should be brought to your attention."

He paused at the thought of it. There was already a lot on his plate, but he had a feeling this was something that should not be ignored. "Come," Bruce said turning back for the clock. "You can tell me all about it down in the cave."

 

…..

The details had been discussed in full, both were now on the same page pertaining to the situation. All deaths were gone over in full, keeping note of all important details which included; time of death, location, and the age of each of the victims. In each case there was nothing decisive to determine. The time and place for where each of the deceased was discovered was different in all cases, the age range varied on a large scale. He tapped his right index finger upon his left wrist after learning of this. It was frustrating not to have any solid leads; with what they had there wasn't much they could do to counter this current epidemic.

"So that's it," He began after looking up from where he stared. "That's the only information we have on this new drug?"

"Afraid so," Miwako replied from where she sat now in front of his desk. "Based from the results of the autopsies that were done on each of the deceased the only thing that can be determined is that all victims ultimately passed due to heart failure."

"The key element being fear, we can't forget that," Kiyonaga said quick to remind. "You said it yourself, all who died might have experienced severe episodes of an inner fear or phobia which resulted in the heart attacks."

"While that seems to be the case," Miwako agreed. "There's still room for other possibilities. The only certainty is that none of the victims were in the right state of mind leading up to their deaths."

"I'm almost certain you wouldn't have brought all this information to my attention unless you had some plan for action."

"A fair assumption," Miwako replied not denying the claim. "Here's the thing, the first steps taken in this operation will be vital to success."

"Agreed, but first there's something I'd like for you to do Sato," Kiyonaga began with a pause. "As we know this drug came into the light in this past month."

"That is correct."

"With that known fact we have a timetable for when the drug was in all likelihood first being distributed," Kiyonaga continued. "And since we have knowledge of this, we might have an idea for when an appearance was made."

"I don't quite understand."

"Let's skip the small talk and get straight to the point, here's what I want you to do," Kiyonaga announced leaning forward in his position. "Pull up all records that you can in the last two months."

"Of?"

"Files detailing information for any outsiders who came to Japan within a two month period, specifically for those who have made several trips back and forth," Kiyonaga replied. "And after you've successfully done that, we'll narrow down the list by process of elimination."

 

 

The names had already been chosen and stamped to the front; all that remained was to determine which one was the true beginning for where it had spawned. This was the only thing on his mind, looking further into the matter while his eyes traced from one end of the screen to the other. There wasn't much that could serve as a distraction, one exception being that of the sound of the doorbell.

He immediately put a hold to his searches upon hearing this. "That must be him." He hurried toward the door, not wanting to keep them waiting. One quick move was made to open the door, looking downward to see him standing there with that same inner intensity that always showed when the situation called for it.

"Shinichi," Hiroshi welcomed. He opened the door wide following this. "Come in."

He nodded, accepting the invitation in. "Have you made any progress since the last time we spoke?"

"Unfortunately not," Hiroshi replied closing the door after watching him step through. "At least not yet."

He removed his shoes before surveying the room with an inquiring look forming. "Where is Haibara?" Conan asked looking up at him.

"Still asleep." Hiroshi informed before making a move back for the other end of the room.

"That's the late hours for you," Conan smilingly noted as he followed at his side. "Either way let's get started, we can always get her up to date on any new information gathered."

Once the computer was reached he took a seat in the chair as he had before. "So tell me," Conan asked with the cross of his arms. "What have you been looking into while I was on my way here?"

"Shipments," Hiroshi answered. "All shipments from both Tampa and Gotham; in correlation with Novosibirsk of course."

"And how many companies came up in your cross-reference?"

"Too many," Hiroshi simply put. "We're going to need to substantially narrow the list down if we're going to make any real progress."

"Large cooperation's, ones that have a record for doing overseas business in large," Conan conceptualized uncrossing his arms. "Let's focus on those types of companies first."

"Are you sure?"

He couldn't be any more confident, nodding his head confidently. "If my hunch is correct, we'll have this case closed in no time."

 

….

There was only one face to be seen documented on the large screen above. Below the visual was an extended list of successful heists, each detailing the many different tactics used in each case to obtain what was taken. His name sat at the very top of the page, one which he read aloud as if to greet someone for the first time.

"Kaitou Kid.."

"Precisely sir," Alfred said from his position aside the chair. "He's the famous thief of Japan."

"Many claim his actions are run by nothing but the thrill of the chase," Bruce said voicing his knowledge of the Kid thief. He eased back in the seat as he thought deeper on the matter. "Kaitou Kid adventures are typically within the borderlines of Japan."

"He has traveled overseas before in regard to his activities if he sees fit," Alfred quickly noted. "Which reminds me of another night dweller I'm familiar with."

Ignoring the obvious comparison he continued. "I'm aware of Kaitou's out of state travels," Bruce acknowledged. "His latest actions have managed to graze the boarder of my radar due to his infiltration of the Skytale building in Japan."

"Yes, the museum funded heavily by Wayne Enterprises," Alfred pointed out. "Not to mention the buildings surveillance is tied to the company as well."

"Which leaves a big question mark as to how he bypassed security, and escaped for that matter," Bruce said bringing a hand to his chin. "Furthermore the diamond he came to seize was left in the wake of it all, but why... the move makes little sense, why go through all the trouble only not to collect?"

"Perhaps there's more to the story than we know?"

"Maybe… or it could be the police are withholding additional information," Bruce stated. "Information they're still in the process of examining."

"It sounds to me like you've taken an interest in this case?"

"I don't have time to be chasing down thieves, there are immediate matters that are far more important here in Gotham," Bruce relayed in response. "However I will keep an eye on the situation in the case things.. escalate."

"I'd find it hard not to agree," Alfred said. "For starters you've yet to track down Scarecrow, or figure out the reasoning behind his latest moves."

"Tomorrow will make a month and two weeks since he's been on the loose," Bruce reminded. He lowered his hand from his chin. "And already he's taken large strides, globally."

"Yes, from the reports coming in from the international news stations Cranes fear toxin has shown up in South America, a few locations in Europe, and Japan," Alfred detailed. "Unfortunately for most, they have no knowledge on how to combat the toxin."

"I've already put a plan in place to get the vaccine out there, however to truly end this we need to find the source," Bruce declared. "Which means determining the location of where his fear toxin is being produced; and where he is shipping the product out from."

"That would seem to be the inquire of the day, since finding out about the gas's shipment internationally two days ago," Alfred began. "You've searched the city from top to bottom with no leads to gain."

"This is why collaboration is needed." Bruce devised.

"What do you mean?"

It was with that question posed that an alert came upon the computer screen, one which read 'Incoming Transmission'.

"It's him." Bruce said after sighting the number.

"Who is it?" Alfred asked.

"An outside source."

The call was accepted, both watching as a familiar face appeared on the large screen. "Batman," A man in a suit of red and lighting yellow spoke. "It's me, I've got an update for you."

His eyes perked in surprise. "The Flash, well this is unexpected." Alfred voiced.

"It has been two days," Bruce said easing back in the chair once again. "What do you have for me Allen?"

"Something you'll be interested in knowing."

"Alright then," Bruce said handing the floor over to him. "Tell us what you've learned."

To Be Continued

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Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds

Chapter 4

A Trip to Take

He was attentive to the one who took center stage, ready to hear what it was he had to share.

"It's just as I had expected," Flash began. "Central City is the location for where your guy has been getting his stuff produced."

He was surprised to learn this, but didn't allow it to be expressed in the least. "Is that right?"

"I infiltrated the place ten minutes ago, it was all there," Flash added. "From the supplies they were using to produce the toxin, along with a list of all upcoming shipments."

"And Crane?"

He lightly chuckled for what he was to be conveyed next. "Now here is the funny part.. depending what you consider humorous this might not be funny at all," Flash continued with a sudden pause. "Crane was nowhere to be found, or anyone for that matter."

There was an awkward shift in his eyes to see in light of receiving this news. "What?"

"It is just as it sounds."

He was finding this hard to believe. "Are you certain of this?"

"I searched the lab up and down, and then some."

"I see," Bruce said. Silence fell between the two for seconds to come. He took the time to process everything collected to this point before speaking further. "Tell me about the scheduled shipments you obtained."

"Yea, about that," Flash replied laughing softly. "There's just one problem."

"What?"

"I've tried, but haven't been able to open any of the files as of yet."

"Then how did you come to conclude that they have a set schedule for shipments for Crane's toxin?"

"There are names on each folder that were found on the hard drive I took from the facility, each folder is encrypted with a password," Flash informed. "And since that is the case we won't be able to open any of the files until the."

"Security lock is bypassed." Bruce interjected.

"The detective marks his spot."

"Send me all files now," Bruce instructed. "I'll have everything decoded before."

"Already did," Flash noted. "The second I made contact with you was the moment all collected data was forwarded to you."

"Is there anything else I should know?"

"Besides the files and the chemicals discovered there was something else I came across," Flash conveyed. "Something that not only pertains to Central City but Gotham as well, this whole thing is a lot deeper than just the selling and shipping of Dr. Crane's fear toxin."

"How so?"

"I can't confirm anything at this exact moment," Flash said in response. "But if I wind up with something concrete on my hunch you can be rest assured you'll be the first one to hear from me."

"If you have nothing more, I'd like to focus my efforts on getting these files open."

The man in a suit of gold and red nodded. "Good luck."

"Wait.." Bruce said with another thought coming to mind.

"What is it?"

"Have you alerted the police about your findings?"

"No, you're the first to learn of the situation," Flash answered. "I'm going to call and inform them as soon as."

"Don't," Bruce interrupted. "If the police are to learn of this matter all details are bound to be released to the public, that would give Crane the chance to adjust any further plans he may have."

"You're right," Flash said coming to the same realization. "This also in affect gives us the advantage, we could plan an approach f surprise."

"Exactly."

There was now a clear understanding between them. "Keep me informed, Flash out."

The transmission between the two ended, leaving the large monitor above blank. He immediately opened a new window which showed he had a newly received message.

"There it is," Bruce said opening the message to find the content inside. "Here are the files Barry sent."

"I find this all to be rather intriguing, don't you sir."

His comments led to him shifting in position, slightly turning in the chair to glimpse back at him. "What do you mean?"

"You and Mr. Allen," Alfred clarified. "Outside of your work with the League you both rarely find yourselves intertwined in a mission that calls for a correlation between you two."

"That may be true, but when a situation arises such as this I'm open collaborating with Barry," Bruce said in response to this. "He's a detective in his own right, and is excellent in his studied field of forensics."

"As are you."

"Time is our greatest challenge," Bruce said turning back for the computer. "I need to decode these files as soon as possible."

.

The search had been launched. They waited patiently with an anticipation that could clearly be felt among them. The amount of time that passed since beginning was uncertain. His hands were now down at his side, all attention on the screen as the given search seemingly came to an end with a small list of results coming in.

"Is this it?"

"Yes," Hiroshi replied as he looked over the listed names. "From what you diagnosed earlier the list has now been narrowed down to four companies, three in Tampa with only one registering from Gotham."

"An improvement," Conan acknowledged as he crossed of his arms over his chest. "But we've still got a ways to go, finding out which company is behind the shipments is our ultimate goal."

He couldn't agree anymore. "Which would you prefer we start with?" Hiroshi asked.

"The obvious is Gotham, being that only one result came up in its corner we may be able to eliminate that city from the equation completely pending what we learn about the company in question," Conan replied. "That would then lead us with only Tampa Florida to focus on."

"Excellent decision Shinichi, I'm inclined to agree."

With the decision made he clicked on the link which resided under the line which read 'Gotham'. After doing so a new page appeared, one which revealed the title of the company.

"Wayne Enterprises," Conan read as he uncrossed his arms. There was an immediate familiarity, one which he voiced. "I've heard of some of their services they have to offer, particularly with their technology and aerospace programs."

"There is a full list of all services here," Hiroshi pointed out with a move of the computer mouse. "Why don't we take a look?"

There was no reason not to, standing there as a new window popped up with a list to show. "Wow, this list is longer than I had been expecting." Conan admitted. What was at the top was the two branches that had already been mentioned.

"So we have Wayne Industries, Electronics, a medical department," Hiroshi began as his eyes traced down the list. "Then there's a research institute, there is even a couple running foundations."

The broad list brought much to consider. He looked over each titled branch individually, mentally subjecting them in line with the case they now found themselves intertwined with.

"Wayne Chemicals," Conan pointed. This was definitely one that caught his interest. "Take us to that page."

"As you wish." Hiroshi said complying with what was asked of him.

After navigating to another page a description was given about Wayne Chemicals. He raised a hand to his chin as he began reading through the information.

He watched him the entire time as he did. "So what do you think?" Hiroshi asked looking back at him.

"It appears Wayne Chemicals is primarily a development and research firm, and not what I was expecting initially."

"And what do you make of that?"

"Even so Wayne Enterprises can't be eliminated from consideration," Conan responded. "Let's shift our focus on those who run and operate the company."

"In the case of that don't you think we should begin from the top?"

"That would be a good start, yes." Conan replied in agreement.

"There's none higher on that list than the owner of the company himself, Bruce Wayne," Hiroshi noted. "Whether he's someone we should suspecting in the spread of this new drug is another question in itself."

"Until further notice everyone in high position will be in consideration," Conan declared. "That goes for the other three companies as well."

"I expected that much."

"We know he owns the company in name, but is it also true he runs the daily operations?" Conan asked.

"One moment."

He navigated once more, heading back to the main page which featured the sought information. Once there it didn't take long for a name to be spotted with the listed position. "It says here the company's operations are mainly handled by a man named Lucius Fox," Hiroshi pointed. "Which isn't all that surprising, it is common that owners of large corporations leave the running of their business to others."

".. I see."

"So, what do you think?"

"Wayne Enterprises is definitely worth looking into," Conan concluded. "But before we go any further with our investigation I would first like to have a look at the other companies, the sooner we can get the list narrowed down the better."

"Then let us continue."

The decision was anonymous.

"I'll find out what's going on, the reveal of the truth is inevitable."

….

For most a task such as this would be considered a top end difficulty, a skill which required a substantial amount of time to master. To his credit this was something he had put much time into. It was due to this fact that an ending was reached within a short period. He opened the sitting folder with the click of a button.

"It's all here," Bruce announced. "The Scarecrow's toxin has been being distributed in high quantities throughout several regions of the world just as I had predicted."

"How soon until the next load is shipped out?" Alfred asked upon hearing this.

He continued to the next line of information to find out just that.

"Less than two hours from now," Bruce informed. "Lucky for us they're shipping the toxin from the Gotham airport which means I'll be able to get there in time to intercept the load."

"What airline is being used to ship the gas?"

He clutched his right fist after reading over the next bit of information, keeping his eyes to the screen as he conveyed the information to him with a subtle bitterness in tone. "They're using a private plane, one from Wayne Electronics."

His eyes widened after learning this. "What?!"

"I for one didn't authorize this," Bruce stated. He stood up from the chair with an added motivation. "That's a question in itself, one which I don't have the time to dwell on momentarily."

"What now Master Bruce?"

"What needs to be done, I'm going to board that plane," Bruce declared. "I need to know who is receiving the toxin and who's buying, above all I need to confirm that what was decoded from those files is true."

"You have your doubts?"

"Flash said Crane nor anyone else was at the site when he infiltrated the place," Bruce reminded. "Something isn't adding up."

"What about the plane, how do you plan on entering without being seen?"

"I've got an idea or two," Bruce assured. He faced him with intent now burning in his eyes. "Alfred, I want you to call Wayne Enterprises to schedule a meeting for tomorrow evening."

"For what reason?"

"I need an alibi."

He was confused now more than ever. "I don't understand?"

"I'll explain later," Bruce promised. "If they ask for what reason, tell them it's to address the incident that occurred at Skytale."

"Understood sir," Alfred said with the nod of his head. "I do have one final question."

"What is it?"

"Where is the fear toxin being shipped," Alfred asked. "Where will your travels be taking you?"

He turned to face him with two words to give. "Novosibirsk, Russia."

There was nothing to see or predict. And how could there be? As it stood there was only a blank board that sat atop the table in front of him, not a single piece had yet to be set in place. It wasn't a matter of when it would begin, because it already had. The only thing to remain was to stamp everything to where it was in their favor, no.. to where victory was guaranteed. The silence of this very thought was broken by the crack of the door on the far end of the room, bringing in a small streak of light in its wake. There was no denying the presence of another, tilting his head with an obvious irritation with the first words to give.

"I see you've returned, how did your... presentation go?" He inquired.

"I have been accepted," A voice of another spoke pleased to announce. "I did what was required, the Organization was nothing short of impressed."

"Outstanding Tia.." They began only to be cut off.

"It is Horilka now."

Nothing was spoken for many seconds. "With this our plan can now move forward."

"Undisputedly."

"My base of operation requires a presence in Japan, will that be a problem?" Horilka asked.

"No, not at all," He answered. "We will do what we must to see our vision through."

"Even so we must remain weary; it will only be a matter of time before he suspects."

Moments passed following the spoken. "I've already accounted for the, Sleeping Kogoro," He insisted. "When the green light hits, him nor anyone else will have a clue as to what is going on; not with all eight phases that have been put into play."

"So what's our plan once I've taken out the visionary, will we spring our entrance then?"

"Your comprehension of my words fall short, it only begins there," He continued. "When all hits the entire world will feel the affects of the change to come, and when that occurs not even the Earth's so called defenders will be able to stop the chain reaction; in short laying seed for another symbol in the form of our cause."

"We do not have the means to take on the League, or even a nations army for that matter," Horilka quickly reminded. "We are in no position to allow arrogance to cloud."

"Patience," He interrupted. "While the structure of your mind might be primitive in nature, you too will come to understand that no matter what they do they won't be able to fight us.. for my dear, we will be one of them."

To Be Continued

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Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds


Chapter 5


Connection to Make


 


The second stage was now underway. He had no basis for how long it would be before he would finish. He sighed before turning in the chair, looking down to see him still standing there; clearly in a quarrel with his own thoughts.


 


He was hesitant, but chose to speak. "Shinichi," Hiroshi said. "You don't have to stay here and wait, I can always call you once I have searched through everything we've gathered to this point."


 


He nodded in light of this. "That might not be a bad idea," Conan agreed. "If anything I should return to the crime scene."


 


He was surprised by this. "For what purpose," Hiroshi inquired. "Surely you took everything into accounted the first trip around?"


 


"Yes, but there's always the possibility something new came to the light after my departure," Conan replied. "And by new, I'm referring to the victim himself; Tanakai-san."


 


"True, other than his name you received no further information on the deceased," Hiroshi said coming to an understanding. "Who knows, perhaps his background could give us a clue as to where he might have come in contact with this 'new' drug."


 


"I'll call if anything comes up." Conan assured.


 


"You can expect the same from me," Hiroshi promised. He then turned back to the monitor to see back to the task at hand. "Do you have a set time for when you may return?"


 


"I am uncertain," Conan said in response. "We'll see how everything plays out."


 


"Very well," Hiroshi said now focusing entirely to the task at hand. "I'll keep my ears open for any calls, oh.. and don't forget to lock the front door on your way out."


 


"Of course." Conan nodded. Following this he made way toward the other side of the room.


 


Nothing more was spoken on the matter. Even with a clear path being paved there was still an uncertainty of what the end would hold, a fact that loomed without saying.


 


….....


 


The last of what needed to be placed into the holding area of the aircraft was now underway. All merchandise was looked over before being tagged and loaded into the dock. Everything was either sealed in a box, or one of the many crates.


 


"Looks like we're all done here," A man in possession of notepad filled with a checklist announced to three others who stood before him. "Let's get it all locked up."


 


Just as they were to comply with what was instructed of them the sound of someone approaching could be heard. The three of them turned just as a woman came walking over, all while reeling a large crate along. "Hold on," She stated. The woman did not stop until coming within feet of the trio. "We've got one more."


 


He gazed over the checklist, raising a brow as he looked back up to address her. "According to the list we have all the scheduled, whatever you have there was not included.. would you happen to know what's inside?"


 


"Not a clue," The woman admitted. "I was instructed by the clerk at the front desk to make sure this box of goods gets loaded onto the plane headed to Novosibirsk."


 


"Hmmmm…must be one of those last minute orders," The man concluded. "Bring it over, we'll make sure it reaches its destination."


 


"Will do," The woman said before moving forward once again. "Not that it means anything to me, but is all of this stuff going to Novosibirsk?"


 


"Yes," The man confirmed. "Nonstop."


 


"That's at least a thirteen hour flight, correct?"


 


"Not with this new line of tech these planes are tanking," One of the others noted "It should only take a little over ten hours for Novosibirsk to be reached."


 


"I knew these line of planes were fast, but not to that degree."


 


"You're not the only one," The man said in response. "Wayne tech excels in producing some of the most highly advanced aircrafts, on all fronts if I should say so myself."


 


"I see."


 


"But enough about that," He said with the sway of his hand. "Let's get this crate aboard with all other shipments; we have a schedule to keep."


 


With nothing more the final crate was loaded onto the plane along with everything else before locking up the holding block.


 


…..


 


He glided along masterfully down one street to the next. The wheels beneath swayed ever so smoothly with every turn made. Before he knew it the crime scene came back into view. By this time the body was being placed onto a stretcher, a sign that they were now moving on with the next stage in the investigation. He didn't let this stop him from skating over, only stopping after reaching the crime scene tape which was still present. Once there he surveyed the area. After a short search he spotted the person he was hoping to find.


 


"Officer Takagi." Conan called out. He caught wind of his call, immediately looking his way. "Conan-kun." Wataru said surprised to find that he had returned. He walked over to join him in that instance, pushing past the crime scene tape in the process.


 


"Why have you come back," Wataru asked. "I was under the impression you took off with Mouri-san when he went to the station ten minutes ago."


 


He used this bit of information to his advantage. "It was Kogoro-no-ojisan who sent me back," Conan clarafied. "There's something he wanted me to ask of you."


 


"What is it?"


 


"Details about the victim," Conan replied. "Has his age, or even occupation been determined?"


 


"We don't have an exact age as of yet," Wataru admitted. "But we most certainly have a narrowed range for what that could be."


 


This was a start. "You do?"


 


"Yes, besides the identification card that we found on him earlier we also came across another ID he was carrying," Wataru informed. "His school ID."


 


His mind froze at the given. "He was a student." This fact coupled in with the victims appearance gave him a solid estimation for what grade they might be in. Pressing for more information he continued. "Really, where did he attend?"


 


"Ekoda High." Wataru informed.


 


His head leveled down ever so slightly. "A high school students, this shifts things to a whole nother perspective," Conan collected in mind. "And that's not a good thing, if a school kid was able to get his hands on a lethal drug as the one we're dealing with now there's no telling how complex things will get."


 


His thoughts would be broken in that split second.


 


"Was there anything else Mouri-san wished to know?"


 


"No, that's all he wanted to know," Conan smilingly thanked with that child innocence in his eyes flashing. "I'll be sure he receives the details."


 


"I'm glad I was able to be of assistance." Wataru boasted proudly.


 


With that he walked off. It was now time to factor in the newly learned information into the already cycling equation. The fact that the drug in question had been obtained by a student increased the bar of possibility, an indication the drug could possibly be being distributed in a public place easily accessible to teens… but where? No matter the circumstances to be presented, he was determined to crack this case.


 


"This is turning out to be broader than I originally thought."


 



 


After hours of travel the destination was now in reach. The wheels touched down to the solid surface, an impact which could be felt throughout. It was a concrete indication that they had truly arrived. His stance had to be maintained throughout; knowing even the subtlest of movement could blow his cover.


 


The aircraft came to a complete stop after what only seemed to be a couple minutes. What was next? This question would soon be answered, feeling as the large crate he found himself hidden within was lifted. Few words were exchanged by those on the outside. What they were discussing was less than clear, but that wasn't of importance… but rather, where they would be going next. After being carried for what was estimated three minutes he was finally placed down once more, hearing as several other shipments were stacked down around him.


 


He moved a little in position, shaking off a stiffness that had crept in. "Everything has been transferred, but to where?"


 


There was no doubt about it. Possibilities began to scatter in mind as the sound of an engine erupted, followed by movement of the vehicle he now found himself riding in. The drive to wherever he was now being taken lasted for a little over twenty minutes. A short time after coming to a stop his crate was pulled into the grasp of two individuals. He made no movement from his end, as not to draw suspicion. The longer they traveled the more curious he became as to where they were going. After a short time he heard a sound on the outside which gave off a hint of sorts.


 


"Stairs.."


 


There was an undeniable descend to be felt, concluding he was being taken down a fleet of stairs due to the bumps in the path to be felt. This lasted for a marginable time. Eventually an electrical sound found way to his ear. But was it? The sound of automatic door perhaps? All movement seized soon after, a sign he had been placed down. Soon after conversation ensued between those on the outside, this time able to pick up what was being said.


 


"So this is it, we're just going to leave all the goods here?"


 


"Yes, our job here is done," Another spoke. "Next step is for the captains to come and collect, they get the task of dishing out the picks that are being transferred in from the other two locations."


 


"Let's get going," A third interjected. "They'll be expecting us back within the usual thirty minute time frame; you know how the boss doesn't like to be kept waiting."


 


"Don't have to tell me twice."


 


The only sound to follow was that of footsteps, a sound which faded with every second that passed. There was only one thing to make of this. ".. They're gone."


 


With a fierce explosion of strength the crate was shattered from within. He stepped out, minding the several wood bits that were now scattered across the ground. The room was dark. But even still he could make out how large it was in space.


 


"Now, let's see where my travels have landed me."


 


Before another move was made a ring came from the com-link within his ear, alerting him of an incoming call.


 


"Alfred.."


 


"The systems showcased an increased movement from you Master Bruce, so I assume you arrived?"


 


"Yes, I have," Batman confirmed. "But where that is, is still unclear."


 


"By what do you mean by that?"


"Once we touched down in Novosibirsk the crate I was hidden within along with all other shipments was then exported to another plane before taking off once more."


 


"That would explain why it took so long for me to pick up any activity from you."


 


With the coast clear he moved forward. "Where I am is an uncertainty. The room I walk now is significantly dark, but from the looks of things I'd say I'm in a storage space of some kind."


 


"Which should come as no surprise."


 


With another step walked he activated the night vision within his cowl, giving him a better view of the path he now trailed. "If Crane's product is here I will find it."


 


"I have no doubt." Alfred spoke assured.


 


"What about the bat plane," Batman questioned. "Has it been sent?"


 


"Autopilot," Alfred confirmed. "Wherever you are now it will track onto your signal."


 


"I'll have things wrapped up here soon enough."


 


With that said he reached down for his utility belt as he stepped forward, pulling out a small device of some kind. "This will allow me to pick up which box Crane's product is stashed in." There were several crates and boxes that could be holding the sought subject. He commenced through the dark room, listening to the sound of the signal that strengthen with each taken step.


 


He made the decision to go right, following the wall on that side as he hovered the device over every box passed to try and find what had brought him here. In doing so there was something on the wall that caught his attention, a mark. His search was put on hold as he inched in closer to find that is was actually a print, one which brought an alarming discovery.


 


"Alfred," Batman radioed. "I know where I am and where Scarecrow's toxin has been getting shipped to."


 


"Where?"


 


"Tokyo, Japan," Batman reported. "I've discovered Skytale's insignia on a wall down here, there is no doubt about it."


 


"Well that sure adds another unexpected kink in the road," Alfred noted. "Not only was one of your planes being used to help in the transportation process, and now we've come to find that destination of the chemicals is none other than a museum associated with Wayne Enterprises."


 


He brought a hand to his chin with his thoughts taking center stage. Yesterday's incident at this very location was one of the very first things to come to mind. It was almost too convenient.


 


"The Kid Thief infiltrated this facility yesterday night by bypassing the security set up in this building by Wayne Tech, and yet when he had the sought possession in reach he decided not to take it," Batman spoke aloud. "And instead chose to leave behind a note, why… could he possibly be involved with this whole ordeal in some way?"


 


It was certainly a possibility, one which he wasn't going to let stay refrigerated. "Alfred."


 


"Yes Master Bruce?"


 


"I have a favor to ask," Batman replied. "I want all files on Kaitou Kid, from case files to any sightings that have been reported on him worked into my data base."


 


"For what reason?"


 


"He might be involved with this in some capacity," Batman replied. "Every possible lead needs to be covered, including this one."


 


"What do you hope to accomplish?"


 


"Finding and bringing the Kid Thief in for questioning," Batman declared. "Even if it means by force, finding him will be the first step."


 


"Something you won't have to try hard."


 


"What do you mean?"


 


"Just about two hours ago Wayne Enterprises received something, a letter… one which was addressed to Bruce Wayne," Alfred informed. "I had hoped to bring it up to you once your mission was complete. But this moment seems appropriate as any other to bring you up to speed. Believe it or not the letter in question was sent from none other than Kaitou Kid himself."


 


His eyes flickered at the announced. "What?"


 


"And sir, he plans to make a move on one of your most prized valuables," Alfred informed. "Well, at least that's what I was able to make from the written message."


 


"How soon?"


 


"If what I think is to be true," Alfred began. "Less than twenty four hours."


 


And with that, an inner clock began its spin as he muttered his name. "Kaitou Kid.."


 


To Be Continued


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Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds


Chapter 6


A Connection?


 


The winds pushed in defiance of the taken path. By this time the speed in which was traveled had drastically decreased. The destined location was now in sight. And with a mission now checked complete, there were more questions to be asked than what was learned. The next moment came with a nose dive, soaring with a burst of speed that blasted downward. Within feet of reaching the ground a passageway opened to allow entry into the dark depths. Now in a dark tunnel he followed a trail of lights found along each wall that guided his path further. An end to his travels came soon after, bringing the aircraft to a stop after reaching his destination.. the cave.


 


A large platform sat in the clear, the obvious land mark for where he was to land. Once he touched down he lunged out from the cockpit, finding that his travels back clocked in at a notable two hours and ten minutes. His attention was immediately honed in on the sound of someone taking a step toward him from his blind side.


 


"Welcome back Master Bruce," Alfred greeted. "How was the first test of the upgraded bat plane?"


 


"Its sonic speeds worked precisely as I had imagined." Batman noted. He was now ready to proceed with the task at hand.


 


"I take it you will now commence with Kid thief matter?"


 


"While I was away were you able to find anything additional regarding him?" Batman inquired before turning for the stairs left of where they stood.


 


"I downloaded every record there is in connection to the Kaitou Kid," Alfred replied. "And while I looked over every file extensively there was nothing that I found that incriminates him in relation to this fear gas fiasco."


 


"That has yet to be seen." Batman noted.


 


"What about the toxin sir," Alfred questioned. "Did you find what was suspected?"


 


He was just a step away from reaching the stairs, stopping after hearing the asked. "Yes, I did.. but what I found was not what I was expecting," Batman relayed. A hint of uncertainty found way to his face after hearing this. Before continuing he faced him completely. "What I discovered in three of crates in that storage room of Skytale was not Crane's toxin, but rather a powdered substance that only makes up one third of the Fear Gas."


 


The shock on his face couldn't be any more evident. "But what does this mean?"


 


"It's clear Alfred, Crane has been shipping the supplies necessary to produce the toxin not only separately; but from different locations as well." Batman revealed.


 


"How did you determine that?"


 


"Admittedly I was unsure myself when I first came upon the crates in question, but then I remembered.. something that was said," Batman began.


"Before breaking free of the box I was in I overheard a discussion by two of the individuals who had taken all products to the Skytale museum."


 


"And what was it you heard?"


 


"The other two thirds of the chemicals needed to produce the Fear Toxin was transported to Japan by other means, there is only one thing to make of this," Batman said assured. "The fear gas is being produced overseas, and not being sent off as a finished product as I originally believed."


 


"That certainly complicates things."


 


"Scarecrow is using this method of business for one purposes, and that is to ensure his toxin isn't apprehended before the shipping process," Batman deduced. "So if we're to put an end to this there is only one solution."


 


"To find Scarecrow."


 


"Exactly."


 


"What about the crates, surely you didn't just leave them there?"


 


"I tagged each of them with a tracker," Batman informed. "Whoever comes to pick those crates up will lead me straight to where the gas is being made in Tokyo, and while that doesn't account for all other locations tied in all of this it is a start." His words were finished with him turning back for the stairs.


 


"Alfred, did you save all the files on Kid as well?"


 


"Already on the main hard drive," Alfred confirmed. "I even took the liberty of saving it to a backup drive for you."


 


He nodded as a way of showing his appreciation. He made his way to the next floor where the super computer resided. His eyes made way to the large monitor just in time to see an image of something fall from the screen only to have another appear. This was an indication someone was looking over something, but who was it? He had no clue for who it could be as he moved in. Once the computer was reached the person sitting in the chair looked up to face him, clearly expecting his arrival.


 


"Welcome back Bruce."


 


"Barbara," Batman said expressing his surprise. "What are you still doing here?"


 


"And here I was hoping for a thank you, after all I did play a hand in getting you shipped off."


 


He ignored her remark completely. "You didn't answer my question."


 


"Working the case of course," Barbara replied as she turned to face the monitor once more. "After learning about Kaitou Kid's note sent to you I decided to step in to see if I could lend a helping hand."


 


"Have you come to any conclusions?"


 


"Still working on it."


 


His eyes looked up to the monitor as well. After analyzing the provided information he inquired about one of the most prominent details. "Kaitou Kid sent a letter to Bruce Wayne," Batman spoke with his eyes still in study of the screen. "Would we happen to have a copy of that letter?"


 


Her attention was immediately dropped from the computer before looking to him once again. "You bet," Barbara confirmed. She reached past the computer mouse to grab hold of a white envelope which she held up for him to take. "Here you are."


 


He accepted it as he posed yet another question. "Is this the original?"


 


She nodded in confirmation "Yep."


 


His investigation was now to truly begin. The envelope was dark red in color. The print was a glittering green which read 'Mr. Wayne'. He wasn't sure what to make of this at first glance, wondering if there was any relevance to the design. This was something that fell to the back of the mind for the time being, reaching in to pull out the note which rested inside.


 


The surprises only continued to stack from what was pulled out. The scheme was now in reverse. The sheet of paper was green while the print of the message was red.


 


"Hmmmm.."


 


This was a detail he made sure to account for. With his eyes now on the written message he read aloud what had been sent directly to him.


"The check has been made in complete success, all that remains is to collect the ultimate prize," Bruce read while surveying to the second line. "The blanket of armor falls come thirty after eight tonight, thus revealing the ultimate fail."


 


He paused upon finishing, noting the iconic signature that was associated with the Kid Thief himself. No words were spoken for several moments. Curious as to his thoughts on the matter she finally spoke. "So what do you think," Barbara asked breaking the silence. "Any ideas to where he plans to strike, or take for that matter?"


 


"I am unsure," Batman admitted. "But based from what's hinted at, I can only assume he's after more than just some dated portrait or prized diamond."


 


"But what?"


 


"I will find out," Batman assured. "Barbara I need you to check into something."


 


"What is it?" She asked.


 


"The incident that occurred at Skytale involving Kid, I want a list of all the people who were there that day of the incident."


 


She brought her hands back to the keyboard before doing just that. "Loud and clear."


 


Alfred joined the two of them with only one thing to make of this. "Are you thinking there might be a connection to find between the incident and the letter sent to you?"


 


"Yes, and if there is we have less than twenty hours to make the connection before Kid plays his hand," Batman replied. "Alfred, has my meeting with the public on yesterday's matter at Skytale been set?"


 


"Yes, for five O' clock this evening."


 


"Good."


 


"What's so important about addressing what occurred at Skytale?" Barbara asked still focused on the computer.


 


"Insurance is always key."


 


She was tempted to press for more but quickly decided against it. "… I'm not even going to touch that one."


 


"What time is it now?" Batman asked.


 


"Thirteen after two," Barbara answered. "Is there something you need to do?"


 


"That's more than enough time." Batman replied while turning for the other side of the cave.


 


"Where are you going?"


 


"Upstairs," Batman replied with the removal of the cowl from atop his head. "I'll return soon, keep me updated if anything additional comes up."


 


"Ok.. will do."


 


With that the conversation came to an end between the two, leaving her to investigate on her own from there.


 


..


 


A new day arrived, and yet little resolve to speak of. With the hand of the clock making its next move, it alerted him another minute had past. Not that he was really paying attention. There was an endless cycle of cases that had found way to his desk, giving him nothing but an added determination to drive on.


 


A sudden knock at the door across the room broke all silence, taking a deep breath as he gave the ok'ing response. "It's unlocked."


He kept his eyes centered as the door opened, pleased to see who came walking through the door.


 


"Sato, you have returned," Kiyonaga greeted. "I was not expecting you to be working this time of hour."


 


"Getting this case closed is all that's been on my mind," Miwako said in response to this. "And there won't be any stopping until that goal is reached Superintendent."


 


She marched forward, not coming to a stop until reaching his desk. It was here that she placed a folder in front of him.


 


"What is this?" Kiyonaga asked.


 


"The names," Miwako said pleased to announce. "The names of all who have come and gone throughout Japan in the last two months, traveling in and out at least seven different times."


 


"Good work Sato." Kiyonaga thanked before opening the folder to view what was inside.


 


What he came to find was not what most would consider to be expected. "Only twelve names?" Kiyonaga inquired before looking up at her once again.


 


"Process of elimination, of the names that turned up in the search these twelve individuals are the ones that caught my eye," Miwako began. "All of the listed not only spent more than a week here in Japan, but were apparently here on business, this of course was all determined by the financial records I was able to pull on each and every one of them."


 


"Excellent work." Kiyonaga commented after hearing her given rundown.


 


Without further ado he focused all attention to the list that now sat before him to note all names that fell down in a straight row;


 


Nella Kelmoe


Jarvis Jellson


Kanae Salvan


Nelgar Jefferson


Sandra Wu-San


Thomas Garrfield


Danielle Peerman


Sukia Lemnai


Tiasa Herman


Lonnie Machin


Frederic Gormon


Aldor Sunshine


 


After reading through all listed names he directed his attention back to the one who stood before him. "And do we have contact information for each of the listed individuals?"


 


"Yes," Miwako confirmed. "However I have not yet determined all home addresses for all of them."


 


"Which is alright, something you can see to tomorrow," Kiyonaga said closing his eyes for a brief moment with a staggering tiredness to be seen. "It is possible that none of these people have any involvement with the spread of this new drug, but this at least gives us a base to work from, good work Sato."


 


"Is there anything you have for me?"


 


"No, you may go," Kiyonaga replied. "We'll pick up where we've locked down tomorrow, is ten a good time for you?"


 


She nodded in response. "Yes, ten will work perfectly."


 


This stamped the end of their conversation, leaving him to look over the list of names for a second time.


 


"Could one of these listed truly be the one we're searching for?"


 


....


 


Hours passed since making his return, after finishing with what he considered a successful conference he now found himself walking down the long fleet of stairs, ones which lead to the darkest and deepest of depths, a place where his ultimate secret resided.


 


"I'm back." Bruce announced after walking down past the final step.


 


Her long hair swayed as she swirled in the seat to face him, a clear look shown that she had been anticipating his return. "How was the conference?"


 


"As expected," Bruce replied. He removed his hands from the depths of the worn jacket. After doing so he looked down at his watch. "It's now twenty after three, I only have a couple hours to get this solved."


 


"Whether you want my help or not, I gathered all information on what happened at Skytale," Barbara said pointing at the computer monitor. "It's all here."


 


He wasted no time in making his way over to her side, looking up to lay his eyes on what now resided on screen. "A playing card," Bruce noted after sighting the two images stacked aside one another. "Are these images of the same card?"


 


"Yes," Barbara confirmed. "Front and back."


 


"One side holds Kaitou's insignia, while the other showcases a check mark."


 


"I've yet to determine what it signifies." Barbra admitted.


 


"Which might not be possible looking at it as one piece," Bruce noted. "But what if we add it to the equation?"


 


She was unsure of what he meant but was intrigued none the less. "What do you mean?"


 


"This card is clearly a message, one which could directly be linked to the note received by Wayne Enterprises addressed to me."


 


"You really think so?"


 


"Think about it, Skytale's security is directly linked to Wayne tech," Bruce began. "Kaitou Kid infiltrated the museum only not to take what he set out to retrieve, why?"


 


"Your point?"


 


"Then he decides to leave a custom card behind for police to find, a move which I believe is the connection to make," Bruce hypothesized. "The letter sent to Wayne Enterprises is nothing more than an extension of the card collected by the Tokyo police force, he never intended to take the jewel.. his real goal was nothing more than to test the security set up at Skytale."


 


"When you put it that way it kind of makes sense," Barbara realized. "But even so, do you have any ideas what his ultimate plan will lead to?"


 


"No," Bruce admitted with a hand coming to his chin. "But time is of the essence, whether we crack his code or not Kaitou will make his move. He won't get away for a second time."


 


It was with those final words that the alarming signal from the bat computer erupted, alerting him of an unrelated situation unfolding in the city.


 


"And just when I thought things couldn't become any more complex."


 



 


The brightening sky from hours before was now weighed down by an early darkness from the several rain clouds that peered over the city. The position from where he stood was the grandest of them all, able to pin point everything there was to see with the turn of his head. The winds were calm, massaging the sides of his long white cape which fluttered in its wake. The moment was perfect, bringing a grin to his lips as he leaned forward to gaze down at the plane below.


 


"Only two hours remain for the ultimate prize to hold, a monument of the Kid Thief himself.. in service and bound shall I have."


 


This wasn't just a feel of confidence, but an almost certainty that could not be mistaken. And with the clock continuing to tick away, it would only be a matter of time before everything fell into place of the planned.


 


To Be Continued


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Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds


Chapter 7


Time's Ticking


 


The alert stopped upon answering the call. What came to the eye was live feed of an ongoing shootout between authorities and another unknown group. Finding out who was priority. He continued to watch, pausing the footage at the sight of a notable detail. "There." He zoomed in on the point of interest, spotting a tattoo that resided on the left arm of one of the gunmen who returned fire against the police. He recognized the mark on immediately, knowing exactly who was in a quarrel with the police force after making this discovery.


 


"The Ghost Dragons," Bruce noted. He crossed his arms as he continued to monitor the footage. "It has been quite some time since they have been active."


 


"The Ghost Dragons," Barbara questioned. She took a closer look at the footage herself. She wasn't completely convinced. "Are you positive it's them?"


 


"There's no mistaking it; the marking on that individual's arm is the gangs insignia," Bruce pointed. He paused, leaning back ever so slightly in inquiring fashion. "Why now.. after a timed hiatus, what is their reasoning for reappearing?"


 


"And in the fashion that they have," Barbara added. "Not exactly the subtlest way of getting back into the game, so to speak."


 


"Furthermore this is in Robbinsville," Bruce stated uncrossing his arms. "Something isn't adding up."


 


She looked over at him after hearing this. "What do you mean?"


 


"Robbinsville is not grounds the Ghost Dragons are known for operating."


 


"Maybe they're looking to expand?"


 


".. Perhaps."


 


"So do you want me to."


 


"You'll come as well," Bruce confirmed. "Besides this, we still have another matter on our hands. Which means you could very well be needed."


 


"That thief, right?"


 


Sidestepping the posed he asked a question of his own. "Your suit, did you bring it?"


 


"Never leave home without it."


 


He turned away from the computer monitor with a taken step. "Let's not waste another moment, there is work to be done."


 


She shifted in the seat as he made a move for the left side of the room. "So have you figured out where Kaitou Kid plans to strike?" Barbara asked.


 


"I have an idea or two." Bruce answered.


 


Just as he was to make another move someone marched down from the stairs to join them down in the confines of the cave. "Master Bruce I have a disturbance to bring to your."


 


"The shootout in Robbinsville, I'm already aware," informed Bruce. "We're getting ready to head there now."


 


"I suspected that much," Alfred said before moving to his next point. "Would you like for me to go and summon Damian?"


 


"Only to keep him on reserve here," Bruce spoke in agreement. "There is too much uncertainty surrounding this situation, and I still haven't pin pointed where Kaitou plans to strike, let alone what he's after. Having Robin here gives a line for leeway.. in case of the unexpected."


 


Neither was sure was what was meant by this. The only certainty, there was a situation that called for their attention.


 



 


The room was dark; the only source of light came from a lamp which sat atop a coffee table left of where they sat. It could be looked at as either half done or incomplete. In either case there was still ground to be gained before a finish could be declared. A single piece to the ultimate bigger picture was held in hand, taking several moments before the fitted spot was determined. They couldn't be any more pleased by this development, pushing them one step further to the inevitable conclusion.


 


However this was only a means of putting things into perspective, accounting for the unexpected was not something that could be factored in, given their current stance. But with each push that came with the passing of another day it was clear it was only a matter of time before their time would come to step into the spotlight.


 


"It's not the beginning, nor the build that sets the outcome… but rather the decision made at the crucial moment that will ultimately cement the means to an end."


 


Even without the first hand to truly be played there was something inside that came as an alarm, knowing that what appeared on the surface was nothing but a mere tease at what was really to come. What that would come to be was unknown. All they could do was wait, certain that it would all truly begin soon. But would they be ready?


 


..


 


The gear was now in full force, steaming down the roadside. The feed coming in from the police radio was followed in full. This kept him updated on the matter as he made way to the scene that awaited them.


 


"It has been awhile since I took a ride in this thing." Commented Batgirl in reference to the Batmobile.


 


There was an unconditional focus to be seen on his face. What he was thinking was an uncertainty. He spoke without warning. "The check has been made in complete success, all that remains is to collect the ultimate prize.. the blanket of armor falls come thirty after eight tonight, thus revealing the ultimate fail," Batman said rehashing the words left in the message. "But what does it mean, and what is Kaitou after?"


 


"Perhaps we should try unraveling its content piece by piece." Batgirl suggested.


 


"Which I've been attempting to do since the moment I read the note, I've particularly been focusing on the first line," Batman said. "From what's implied I'd say the first written words detail a connection with what occurred at Skytale, however I'm still uncertain what the success referred to is hinting at."


 


"What about the ultimate prize mentioned," Batgirl asked. "Have you given any thought to what that might be?"


 


"To reach a conclusion is to first solve the core of the question," Batman said in response. "Which in this case being what he accomplished while at Skytale."


 


"He didn't take the jewel that everyone expected him to take. At this point your guess is as good as mine," Batgirl said. "But if not that then what, why go through all the trouble only to leave empty handed? I don't see any success to gain with the decision he made."


 


"Success can come in many forms," Batman reminded. "Finding out the one reached at Skytale is what I need to figure."


 


After speaking this a live update came from the police radio.


 


"Unit six to base, the attackers have split wide," An officer dispatched to all other listening in. "A large number of them have headed East with a smaller group setting out to the West end, I repeat the attackers have split, all are armed and dangerous."


 


This information only complicated things further.


 


"So what now?" Batgirl asked in light of this new information.


 


"West is yours," Batman replied bringing them to a complete stop. "Leave the East to me."


 


"What about Kaitou Kid?"


 


"That'll have to wait," Batman said unlocking the top of the Batmobile. "We have a more important problem to deal with."


 


This was an understatement. She nodded before being the first to leap out from the passenger's side.


 


He jumped out as well before having the Batmobile drive off in autopilot. The two went their separate ways in the wake of this. He grabbed hold of the grappler clamped at his side before using it to spring to the rooftops above.


 


"She's right," Batman thought swiftly touching down to the roof of choice. "We don't have much time before Eight thirty hits, which means I'm going to have to solve the coded message while tracking down the Ghost Dragons."


 


The time was now forty nine after seven. There was less than an hour remaining before the spoken time of the planned move was to be made.


"The check has been made in complete success."


 


That line repeated throughout his mind several times over, feeling this was the key to all hidden secrets that lied beneath. He charged on for minutes, leaping from one building to the next with the thought of the note stemming on the mind.


 


"Looks like we have something."


 


He stopped after dropping to yet another rooftop, gazing down to the streets below to find a solid gathering of police officers searching the area. "Where did they go?" One of them questioned.


 


"It's like they disappeared." Another added.


 


There was no doubt in his mind who they spoke of. "The Ghost Dragons," Batman murmured looking down at the streets. His eyes traveled further ahead to find anyone who fit the visual of the sought. "They must be close, no way could they have gotten far if they were just seen a short time ago."


 


He pressed on once again, finding his thoughts fade back to the other matter with something clicking in mind. This resulted in an instant stop.


"That's it, the card.. the check mark coupled in with Kaitou Kid's insignia," Batman began feeling an opening had finally been reached. "As I figured before Kaitou was never looking for an accomplishment that could be held in hand or looked upon as a trophy, but rather to test if he could bypass Skytales security… Wayne's security."


 


He brought a hand to his chin as he continued his contemplation on the situation internally.


 


"The check has been made in complete success, all that remains is to collect the ultimate prize.. the blanket of armor falls come thirty after eight tonight, thus revealing the ultimate fail," Batman repeated in thought. "There's something that seems off about the sequence in which the message is written… the theme here is deception, could it be?"


 


He dove into the hunch presented in mind, rearranging the written lines in which order he believed would lead to the truth.


 


"The check has been made in complete success, the blanket of armor falls come thirty after eight tonight," Batman cemented. "It makes sense now, the blanket of armor mentioned in the riddle is a clear continuation of what was achieved at Skytale, Kid plans to go after something guarded by Wayne security, and if successful in doing so that would deem Wayne security unreliable in his mind and the minds of many more."


 


That answer could squarely lie in the second half of the message, turning to just that to hopefully find the answer.


 


"Thus revealing the ultimate fail, all that remains is to collect the ultimate prize.. fail," Batman quarreled mentally at the thought of it"What is the ultimate fail hinting at, and more importantly what is the sought prize?"


 


Time was quickly ticking away, if an answer wasn't determined soon there was no doubt the Kid thief's goal would be achieved, something he was not about to let happen.


 


..


 


The final plug pulled on the security feed sparked the beginning of the heist that had been set in motion exactly three months and eight days ago. The glass window was pulled aside after being cut from its hinges. This left him with a clear path to the empty room which was several feet below. A jump was made with no hesitation, touching down quietly.


 


A look of uncertainty formed across his face as he pressed down to the device sitting in his left ear. "This is Kaitou Kid, I'm in," He dispatched. "Keep me alerted for any approaching activity."


 


"Will do sir." Someone spoke in response.


 


"I'm counting on you, Kid out."


 


The transmission ended. This left his focus to drift back to what brought him to this very location. "I'm exactly on schedule," Kaitou Kid noted after checking his watch. He then scoured the room with the turn of his head, looking from one side to the other. "So, where's my inviter?"


 


He moved further into the darkness, feeling something crush under foot. He looked down to find what it was. "Glass.." His eyes then looked to the walls above, coming in direct contact with a window that was shattered. For what was the cause was clear in his mind. His sights dropped back to ground level before pressing on. There was just enough light falling in through the windows above to guide him. He soon came within inches of a table, staring at what resided atop it. There were two humanoid twelve inch figures to be found sealed behind a protective glass case.


 


Both resembled samurai warriors who held a katana blade in their right hands. The armor on both was sculpted in pure gold, not a single difference in stance or style. But they were not completely identical, one distinctive difference, their heads. The one on the left sported the head of a rattle snake while the other resembled that of a dragon.


 


"Beautiful," Kaitou Kid remarked as he looked into the eyes of the snake, recognizing what they were made out of on contact. Even in the dark they sparkled a fascinating pink shine. "Golconda, the most desirable diamonds by most collectors."


 


He then looked into the demanding eyes of the ferocious dragon. Its eyes were an instant allure, captivating him completely. He felt as if he could stare into its purple shine for eternity. "Amethyst Gemstones, magnificent."


 


Even with his drawn fascination he knew he had to maintain focus for what truly brought him here. "This is what they're after.. so why then aren't they here?" Just as those words slipped past his mouth a dark shadow loomed over him from behind. A scolding look of challenge came to his face as he turned to face the opposition. "Now, for the moment of truth."


 


To Be Continued


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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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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.