Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds
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."
"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."
"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?"
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