Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds
A detonator.. could it really be? If so, for what? Surely the Riddler wouldn't give him the detonator to one of the explosives? No, it had to mean something more than that, but what?
"Think Barry, think.." Every moment that passed was critical.
In the heat of thought his wrist device began to vibrate. "Yo Flash, what's going on?" Kaitou Kid radioed. "The countdown on my device is reading that we only have a minute and eight seconds before one of those explosions go off. It makes no sense, not long ago it read that we had over six minutes. What the heck is going on?"
"Well, I can explain that," Flash replied.
The tone in his voice gave it away. "No, don't tell me?"
"Yes, I used one of the service cards," Flash revealed. "Service card number one to be precise."
Kaitou Kid was at a loss for words. "Don't you think that should have been something we discussed, you know.. as a team?"
"Didn't have time to weigh you in on the-" Flash stopped after hearing a ring from the communicator in his ear. "Kid listen, I'll get back to you. I've got an incoming call."
"From someone who can hopefully help us break the code," Flash replied. "Promise this won't take long."
With one conversation ending another began. "Cyborg, please tell me you've got something for me."
"I do," Cyborg happily reported.
Flash was pleased to hear this. "Lay it to me buddy."
"So here's the deal. The train station in east Gotham as well as the station in Burnly both received separate missile threats," Cyborg relayed. "That's why no one is aboard that train you are on, and why no one was at the east Gotham train station."
Flash blinked an eye. "Missiles?" What did it mean? "Cyborg, was there anything different between the two missile reports?"
"Yes, Slight detail differences on each description."
"Tell me, I need to know."
"Ok, so regarding the missile threat received at the Burnley station," Cyborg began. "It was written that there was an incoming missile, one that would arrive within the hour."
"And the missile threat at the east station?"
"That one simply read; a missile will be launched from the premises, all civilians be aware," Cyborg conveyed in full.
"Sounds more like a launch point of a missile, rather than the target," Flash noted.
"As a precaution everyone must have been evacuated out of the area until the situation is assessed thoroughly."
"I'd imagine that much. Thanks Cyborg, you don't know how much your input is appreciated."
"Flash, are you going to tell me what's going on?"
"No time to explain, I'll get back to you when I can. Flash out."
Everything he could possibly need to solve the mystery was now before him. The missile threat from the Burnley, the received threat from the east Gotham train station, and the detonator held in his grasp. The question was, how did it all tie together?
On the other side of Gotham
Nightwing raised the notepad, opening it to discover what was on the first page.
He flipped to the next page to find it empty as well. "Detective, it's me," Nightwing radioed. "Got an update on our notepad."
"What is it?" Kogoro responded.
"The notepad, it's empty."
"What do you mean empty?"
"There is nothing in-" Nightwing stopped. After reaching the final page of the notepad he came upon a line of print. "Hold on, we've got something."
"What does it say?" Kogoro was anxious.
"At my heart awaits the boom. Tomorrow will bring the light day of midnight," Nightwing read aloud.
"Another riddle, wonderful."
"So there are two parts to this one that we have to decipher."
"For us to gain an understanding of the latter is to first determine the meaning of the first."
"You're right," Nightwing agreed. "At my heart awaits the boom. 'Heart', that is the centurial part to this riddle. But what is its meaning?"
"That seems pretty obvious don't you think?"
"What do you mean?"
"What is it to be dark, while also being connected to light? What has a tail, face, and nothing more? Find the grounds that hold the likeness of all sides," Kogoro said in reference to the initial riddle. "You seemed certain that whatever brought you to that police headquarters was what the Riddler wanted us to find. So perhaps whatever we need to-"
"You're right detective Mouri, that's it!" Nightwing lowered the notepad before turning his sights to what had led him here. "The signal."
Nightwing wasted no time in walking back over to the Bat Signal. "In my heart lies the boom." Nightwing leaned forward. Could this be the hiding place of what they sought? "Only one way to find out."
Nightwing firmly gripped the sides of the signal, as he attempted to pull the top off he noticed something. "It's loose." After realizing this Nightwing pulled back with full force, watching as the top of the signal dropped to the ground.
Kogoro could hear its loud thump from the other end of the communicator. "What's going on?"
Nightwing's eyes shot wide upon what he came to discover. "Detective Mouri, you're not going to believe this."
Kogoro braced himself for what was to come. "What is it?"
"One of the bombs the Riddler planted, I'm looking at one of them," Nightwing informed.
"Almost there." That was the thought that raced through Conan's mind as he ran in pursuit of the tea house.
Even with a destination determined, there was still one lingering question. What was he to look for upon his arrival? What could the Riddler have possibly left for him to find? The thought of Ran came to mind, he would not allow himself to fail.
The tea house was in his line of sight in little time. "This is it." Not a moment later the wrist communicator alerted him of an incoming call.
"Shinichi, have you reached the tea house?" Batman dispatched.
"I can see it now," Conan happily conveyed. "I'll be at the front step in no-" Conan seized speaking upon spotting something.
This was certainly something to inquire about. "What's going on down there?" Batman asked.
Conan responded. "Up ahead, I see something."
"What is it?"
The closer he got the clearer it became. "It looks like a box.. it's covered by wrapping paper like a-"
"A present?" Batman assumed.
"That looks to be the case, yes."
"Tell me what you're seeing. Every detail could amount to something."
Conan kept that in mind as he closed in on the lone box that was about the size of a typical shoe box. Conan came to an immediate stop upon reaching the box. "I wonder what's inside?"
The young detective was curious to say the least. The wrapping paper was green in color with a purple bow sitting on the top. As Conan moved in on the suspicious box he caught eye of something. "What's that there?" Upon further inspection he found that it was a silver colored envelope. "And so the trend of the silver envelope continues."
Conan stripped the taped envelope from the box as he flipped it to the other side. His eyes lifted ever so slightly after finding that the envelope was addressed to Ran Mouri, beneath her name, tomorrow's date. His heart began to race, his fingers tingled even. There was one thing that seemed strange, the color of the print itself. "Indigo?" This was not in line with any of the previous silver envelopes he'd come to hold. What was to be made of this?
The crease of the letters weren't completely straight, something which prompted Conan to trace a finger over each letter and number individually. "Texture.. the print is texturized." It almost felt like a paint of some kind. This was certainly questioning. Was there a deeper meaning to it? Investigating further Conan raised the envelope to his nose, sniffing it for a possible distinct scent. "Nothing." Conan lowered the envelope before flipping it to its backside.
"Now to find out what's inside."
Placing a finger onto the crease of the envelope Conan looked to find out what was sealed inside. The wrist communicator activated moments later. "Shinichi, what's the status of the box?" Batman asked.
Holding the voice changing device to his lips Conan responded. "Attached to the box is an envelope, one that is silver in color like the previous ones."
"And inside the envelope?"
"I have yet to open it," Conan informed. "Though, there is something that could be of importance I discovered on the outside."
When Batman didn't reply Conan continued on. "The print on the front of the envelope, every letter and number has texture to them."
Conan clarified. "The envelope was addressed to Ran Mouri. Directly under her name was tomorrow's date."
"The texture you speak of.. how would you describe it?"
"Paint," Conan replied as he thought of other possibilities. "Maybe even a thick pastel of some kind."
Silence ensued. "Yo partner, you still there?" Conan radioed.
"What about the box?"
"The wrapping paper is green, with a purple bow on top. What's inside is still unknown," Conan replied.
Conan couldn't agree anymore. "You got it." His first move was to open the envelope. He reached inside to come into contact with something. "What is this?"
Pulling back Conan came to find a folded red slip of paper inside. Unexpectedly there was but a single word to be found in the center of the paper, one in gold print. "donG," Conan read.
"The note inside the envelope, that's what it says," Conan reported. He then flipped the red colored paper to the opposite side to a message that read; "To where is my position in the house?"
It was clearly another riddle; one which he assumed was directly linked to what had yet to be discovered. The only thing that remained was for Conan to open the box. He believed this would be the true delivery of the Riddler's message to them. His first move was to remove the purple colored bow on top, ripping the green paper from the box directly after. It was during this process that he heard a sound from inside the box.
"What was that?"
It almost sounded instrumental. Once the paper had been removed completely Conan went on to tearing the box open to discover what was inside. What now sat before his eyes was not what he was expecting to find.
"Knight," Conan radioed. "I now know what is inside the box."
Somewhere else in the city
Minutes had passed since the last announcement was made by the Riddler, so it came as no surprise when his face appeared on all television screens once again.
"Back with an update for you my patient bystanders! I am happy to report that things are truly heating up in this game against time." Riddler didn't stop there. "In regards to our lovely participant's front and center it would seem some are draining out of time faster than others."
Damian who was listening in on the broadcast himself did not know what to make of these comments. "What is that lunatic carrying on about now?"
"First, with the most time remaining we have Gotham's proclaimed 'knight' and the lone horse chip in Tokyo. With the second most time remaining to them we have the Sleeping Kogoro bunch who have nearly just as much time as the former," Riddler informed. "Last, with only fifty eight seconds remaining before something goes Boom! We have ourselves the infamous Kaitou Kid and a certain speedster. No magic trick will prevent what is to soon occur. Prepare yourselves gentlemen and ladies alike; the end of this will bring about the closing to a prologue."
Saying nothing more the transmission to the broadcast blacked out once again. There was immediate panic to be heard from the surrounding area. "Why is it Kid's group has less than a minute before their deadline is reached?" Damian wondered. "They should have just under six minutes remaining by my count."
Something wasn't quite adding up. Pressure was mounting by the minute. "I need to find Nigma, and fast," declared Damian. It was something that wasn't going to come easy.
Time was quickly running out. With everything he knew about the kidnapping of Ran Mouri, Damian still felt as if there was something he was missing, something he needed to solve the case. "Think.. what am I missing?"
The entirety of what he knew ran through his mind, stemming from his first day arriving in Tokyo. Was there something they had not accounted for? Could it be that they had overlooked something? During this time of thought Damian's mind clicked. "Could it be?" There was one small detail that no one had really put much thought to. "That could be the key to finding where Nigma is keeping Mouri."
There was not a moment to waste. Damian called the one person he believed would have the answer he sought. "Batman, can you hear me? There's something I need to ask you." Five silent seconds passed by. "Father?!"
Damian dropped his hand from his right ear in frustration. "Why isn't he answering? Is the signal jammed.. or could it be something else?" Damian raised his head to the sky as if to search for answers, ones which he knew wouldn't come. "Just what is going on?"
Little by little people were finally beginning to clear out of the building. This night was no longer about apprehending Kaitou Kid, no. This night was now about 'THE Riddler'.
"Sir, we've searched the entire premises," an officer reported. "All is clear. There were no explosives to be found."
Inspector Ginzo sighed in relief. "Good, now we don't have to worry about anyone possibly tripping a wire and setting off an explosion. Everyone is now free to go."
The officer standing before him bowed his head before looking to take off. "I'll give the word."
Not a second later Jirokichi approached from behind. "What's going on now?"
Ginzo faced him. "I have just received word that there is no a bombs located in this building. People will now be allowed to depart at their free will."
"Everyone inside this building has been searched as well," Ginzo informed. "I can say without unreasonable doubt that Kid is no longer among us."
This did not surprise Jirokichi in the slightest. "So then it's true huh? Kid is taking part in that Riddler character's game."
"That seems to be the case, yes," replied Ginzo. "The Riddler has certainly caused uproar. He's got more than seventy percent of this cities law enforcement not only in search of him, but for the potential explosives he has claimed to have planted throughout Tokyo."
"This crazed clown won't get away with this," Jirokichi stated.
"You're right, he won't. I won't allow it, none of us will," Ginzo declared.
Standing from a short distance away Haibara watched as everyone began to exit the room little by little. "It would be best if we left as well. There is no reason for us to remain here any longer."
"Yay!" Ayumi yelled happily. "We finally get to leave!"
"It's about time," said Mitsuhiko who was almost just as happy to learn this. He then looked up at Hiroshi who was in the process of placing his phone into his pocket. "Any luck getting a hold of Conan-kun?"
Hiroshi nodded. "Oh yes, he met up with a relative who is visiting the city for the week," Hiroshi lied. "He's doing just fine. He's very busy, so I wasn't able to talk to him for long."
"So that's why he ran off in such a hurry," Mitsuhiko figured.
They too made their way toward the exit. It was during this time that Ayumi noticed the absence of a certain someone. "Hey, where is Damian-kun?"
"Have you already forgotten, he said there was somewhere he needed to go," Genta reminded.
"And since he hasn't come back yet, I guess whatever he left for must be important," Mitsuhiko assumed.
"Come along," said Hiroshi who took charge in leading them out. "It's time to get all of you home. I imagine your parents will all be pleased to see you."
"No kidding!" Mistsuhiko stated. "Since the first broadcast my mom has been checking in on me every other minute."
"Mine too!" Ayumi yelled.
"Let us not keep them waiting another minute," Hiroshi said.
In little time they too found their way out past the doors.
The train continued to soar along the tracks at high speed. Everything needed for him to solve the equation of the unknown was all there. The evacuated stations, the two missile threats, an empty train, and a suspected detonator he held in hand.
Less than a minute remained before time was to expire. Flash clutched his fists at the thought of it. "Think Barry think, how does it all link together?"
The sound of his giggles came without warning. "Well, well, well, it would seem you've found yourself at a bit of a.. halt."
Flash sourly spoke his name. "Riddler."
"Tick, tick, tick inhales the fat lady. Lights.. camera, and action. All eyes are now upon her," Riddler continued on. "Tick, tick, tick. The fat lady will soon sing."
"No one is going to die today," countered Flash.
"Well, that all depends," the Riddler voiced with a change in tone. "Tell me, can you accept the weight of hundreds of lives hanging in the balance? Can you solve the riddle? Are you fast enough Flash?"
The transmission between the two ended. There was no denying the affect behind the Riddler's words, it had irked him. He wanted to run as fast as he could in search of answers, but to what conclusion would that bring?
"Flash-sama, you there?" Kaitou Kid dispatched.
Raising the wrist device Flash replied. "I'm here. Listen, we're running out of time, we only have-"
"Less than forty seconds, I know," Kaitou Kid said. "What I want to know is who you contacted with the service card."
"A friend," Flash simply put. "What's important is the information I was able to obtain. I now know why this train is empty of any passengers and why the two train stations were evacuated."
"Can't wait to hear this."
"Two separate threats of a missile launch. So the missile threat received at the Burnley train station claimed there was an incoming missile, one that would arrive within the hour. The threat at the east station said a missile will be launched from the facility and that all civilians should be aware," Flash conveyed. "So besides the explosives we now have two potential missiles to account for. We better hurry and figure this out before all chaos erupts."
"You can't be serious, does the Riddler truly intend to launch.. hold on."
"What's wrong?" Flash enquired.
"A riddle, that's all it is." Kaitou Kid seemed sure of this.
"We are talking about the missiles, right?"
"Yes," confirmed Kaitou Kid. "Think about, the way in which the bomb threats were described."
"I don't quite follow," admitted Flash.
Kaitou Kid took it a step back. "Admittedly I'm not much of a mystery solver, but look who we're dealing with, The Riddler," Kaitou Kid reminded. "I don't know him very well, but from what the bat said about him I'm willing to bet these missile threats are a hint to something more."
Taking that possibility into account Flash began to try and piece it all together. "Ok, so we've got two empty Gotham stations, a single train traveling south from Burnley to the east station." Flash then opened the palm of his hand to spot the item in hand. "And last, a detonator."
"I say we focus on the missile threats," Kaitou Kid said. "I'm thinking that will be the key to reeling everything together."
"Burnley, there is to be an incoming missile," Flash began.
"East Station, a missile will be launched from the facility," Kaitou Kid added.
Flash blinked an eye as he began to pace in place. "I don't know about you, but it almost seems as if they're directly linked somehow, almost as if there is a hidden.. hold on."
"You got something?" Kaitou Kid was hopeful.
"An incoming missile, a missile that is to be launched.. Kaitou Kid, I think I know what the riddle is referring to," Flash replied. "The missile isn't a missile at all, the train, this train is the missile! If I were to take a guess I'd say one of the bombs has been planted on this train somewhere."
"What, are you sure?" Kaitou Kid wasn't completely convinced. "How do you figure?"
"Think about. This train is traveling from Burnley to the East Gotham train station, the train launched from one facility and can be looked at as incoming to the other," Flash explained. "And we both know once this train reaches the East station our time will be up."
"There is just one problem with that analogy. The missile threat at Burnley like you said is the one that claimed a missile would be incoming, but we both know the train is traveling from Burnley to the East Gotham train station," Kaitou Kid reminded.
Flash was bummed out. "Darn, you're right."
It was only at that second that it clicked to Kid's mind. "No wait, you might actually be right," Kaitou Kid retracted.
"I just remembered, Batman kept stressing the theme of the Riddler's game, a mirrored deception," Kaitou Kid recalled. "Meaning that whatever appears to be true in hindsight could very well mean the opposite. The missile threats that the Riddler sent to each of the train stations, there was a reason each of them were worded in the way that they were, their chosen locations even."
Not a moment later the pair could hear the sound of clapping pumping through their wrist communicators.
"Well done Flash and Kaitou Fraud. You have determined where and what the missile is," Riddler radioed. The deduced was now confirmed. "Above you Flash, in one of the overhead bins throughout the entire train is a single bomb, one that will soon explode with the power to wipe out an entire city block. How will you choose to stop it? Oh, and before you try anything irrational, I should let you know opening any of the overhead bins will trigger the bomb to explode immediately.. oh, and you have only fifteen seconds before the deadline is reached. Tah tah!"
The Riddler's laughter could be heard as his voice faded. Flash looked out the window on the right, the East Gotham train station was now in the clear. The pressure was now in full force.
"Now what?!" Flash's heart was racing as fast as it had since they had begun.
"Flash-sama, I've got an idea," Kaitou Kid said. "Hurry and get to the cockpit of that train."
Turning around Flash raced toward the front of the train, vibrating his molecules to bypass the door to the control room. "I'm in," Flash radioed. "What did you have in mind?"
"Wow, that was fast." Kaitou Kid was impressed. "Look, the theme of this entire challenge has been a-"
"Mirrored deception, I know. Why did you want me to come to the cockpit?!"
"I was thinking, what if we were to set the train in reverse? That would be the opposite of-"
"Of moving forward. Kid, you're a genius!" Flash complimented. His faith however would soon disperse into flames. Upon looking down he came to find that the entire control panel had been destroyed, sitting on top was a sticky note with a green colored question mark. "Damn! He was one step ahead!"
When Flash didn't speak again Kaitou Kid radioed once more. "We've only got six seconds remaining. Flash-sama, what's going on?" He received nothing in response. Fear began to flow within. "Flash… Flash!"
Elsewhere in Gotham
Nightwing still couldn't believe his eyes, had he truly come to find one of the explosives that the Riddler had planted? All he needed to do was disarm the bomb. Was that all that remained, was it that simple?
"Hartwell-san, Hartwell-san!" Kogoro spoke. There was almost an excitement to hear in his voice. "Are you seeing this?!"
"Care to feel me in on what I should be seeing?"
"The timer on my wrist band has completely stopped, is that the case for you?" Kogoro asked.
Glancing down Nightwing found that the same applied to his wrist device. "You're right, the timer on mine has stopped as well," Nightwing informed. "But what does it mean?"
The voice of another weighed in on their situation. "It simply means a job well done."
Nightwing's eyes squinted upon hearing him speak. "Riddler.."
"Congratulations to the both of you, you two have successfully completed my challenge within the given deadline," Riddler informed.
"Are you serious?" Nightwing questioned.
"It can't be!" yelled Kogoro.
"I was expecting you two to be far more delighted with this delivery of news, relived even," Riddler admitted. "Just let it be known that your involvement in these proceedings has reached its climax. Until next time, gentlemen."
"What do you mean until next time?" Kogoro questioned. "What about my daughter? Have you released her?!"
The Riddler did not respond. "Hey, HEY!" Kogoro exclaimed.
"It's no use detective," Nightwing said. "The Riddler disconnected his line."
"What about Ran? We need to find her!"
"And I have no doubt that we will," Nightwing said assured by this. "Though, don't you feel.. I don't know, unsettled?"
"This whole thing, the challenge.. it almost felt too easy," Nightwing finally let out. He rested his chin atop his left fist. "For Riddler's standards, this isn't quite adding up."
"Whether it makes sense or not is irrelevant. Our focus now should be locating my daughter," Kogoro stated.
"Hold on detective," said Nightwing. "I've got an incoming call, I'll get back to you in a minute."
Nightwing then went on to activate the communications device in his ear. "This is your captain speaking, how may I be of service?"
"Grayson, it's me."
"Listen, there is something I need to ask," Damian began. "I tried contacting Batman but was unable to get ahold of him."
"No doubt it is because he's caught up in Riddler's game," Nightwing figured. "What do you need?"
"While the rest of you are locked in a game of chess against the Riddler I have since switched my focus to finding the girl."
"You mean Ran Mouri?"
"I've hit somewhat of a wall with my investigation."
"And you believe I possess some super top end information that you need?"
"I was told that after Detective Mouri initially found out about his daughter's kidnapping that he went in search of her, and in the process of doing so he came across her cell phone at a bus stop."
Nightwing was uncertain where he was going with this. "And?"
"Father said the detective found the phone stashed in between the pages of a magazine," Damian continued. "What I need to know is what kind of magazine was it."
"What kind?" Nightwing was confused. "Why would you need to know something like that, I doubt that would.. then again, this is the Riddler we're dealing with."
"Do you know what kind contents were within the magazine?"
"I don't, but I know someone who does," Nightwing replied. "Gimmie a sec. I gotcha."
"Your timer starts now Grayson," declared Damian.
"And here I thought I was done with deadlines for the day," Nightwing said. Following this he reactivated the wrist communicator. "Detective Mouri, it's me. You still there?"
"Where else would I be?" Kogoro replied.
Nightwing managed a smile. "Listen, there's something I need to ask. Something that may help us pin point where the Riddler is keeping your daughter."
Kogoro couldn't be any more pleased to hear this. "What is it? What do you need to know?"
"Earlier today you came across your daughter's cell phone at a bus stop, correct?"
"Yah, that's right," confirmed Kogoro. "What about that?"
"The magazine you found the phone in between, what kind of magazine was it?"
"If I can recall I beli.. wait, hold on a second," Kogoro stated. "How do you know about the situation pertaining to my daughter? Let alone about me discovering her phone? Just who are you?"
"No time to explain. Let's just say I know someone who wants to help," Nightwing said in response. "Time is of the essence detective, I need to know what kind of magazine it was that you found your daughter's phone hidden within."
Kogoro took those next moments to rehash just that. "If I'm not mistaken the magazine was from a company known as 'Travelway'. That's what I remember seeing on the front cover."
"Travelway?" Nightwing had never heard of such a company. "What do you know about Travelway detective?"
"Next to nothing," replied Kogoro. "Today was the first I'd ever seen the name."
"So what does this Travelway have to do with finding Ran?"
"That's what I'm hoping to find out," Nightwing answered. "I'm going to have to let you go detective. I promise I'll get back to you when I have an update for you."
The line between the two was cut following Nightwing's final words. "So the question is," he said with a pause. "What is Travelway?"
"That's right," Conan confirmed. "A silver colored bell with a gold ribbon attached to it. Any guess to what is symbolizes?"
"Silver, gold, and indigo," Batman wondered. Was there something relevant to the three colors within the confines of the Riddler's riddle?
This very thought flowed through Conan's mind as well. "So, what are you thinking?" Conan asked.
"The bell," Batman began. "What kind is it?"
Conan looked over the bell closely. Upon inspecting it he was certain of its type. "It's a sleigh bell," Conan conveyed. "Do you believe there is some relevance to that?"
"There is also the note which was inside the envelope attached to the box," Conan brought up once more. "One side read 'donG'."
"While the opposite side's message was; 'To where is my position in the house?" Batman completed.
"Are we in agreement that the note and bell coincide with one another?"
"Yes, but to what degree?"
Conan was unsure of what to make of this remark. "What are you trying to say? That there may be further meaning to the note that doesn't pertain to the bell?"
"Both the bell and note alike," Batman clarified. "While I believe the two share a link to solving the riddle, I also believe the two represent something larger in Riddler's game on their own merits."
Conan glanced down at the device attached to his wrist. "Whatever that may be we've got four minutes and fifty six seconds to figure it out before the Riddler sets off one of those explosives." It was now time to crack the case. "Just what could the bell be signifying? The previous riddle that lead us to this point said we would find we sought once we got here. Is the bell the sought prize? Or could it be that we're missing something?"
"Dong.. To where is my position in the house?" Batman's focus was on the note that had been sealed within the envelope. "The key to this riddle is the house."
"I was thinking the same," Conan agreed. "But what could it be? What house is it that the Riddler is referring?"
In the streets of Japan
"That's what detective Mouri said," Nightwing dispatched.
"I've never heard of it."
"That makes the three of us," Nightwing noted. "Mouri himself didn't seem all that familiar with the name."
"Is there anything else I can do to help with your mission?"
"As far as I'm concerned I can handle things moving forward," replied Damian. "Any further assistance is not required."
"Loud and clear, I'll leave it all to you. Nightwing out."
It was now up to him. "Travelway," Damian spoke. Could this be the key to determining the whereabouts of Ran? Damian was now ready to conduct a search. "Let's see what I can find on this Travelway."
He reached down, now with a digital device in hand he ran a quick search of 'Travelway'. The immediate results were quite insightful. "By air, ground, or water. Travelway is the way to go," Damian read. It was now clear what Travelway was. "So, Travelway is a company that offers traveling services."
Damian lowered the digital device as his mind reverted back to the task at hand. "But how does a company of this kind factor into the mystery of the Riddler's challenge?"
Damian began to move in a circular path. Where was the Riddler? Where was Ran? Were the two of them at the same location? He needed to find out, and it needed to be soon. "It's all in the riddle. I need to piece everything together."
There was only one way to do so, starting from the beginning. "Adam, Goliath.. enemies in this game of chess."
He then drew focus to the first riddle. "The silver blade placed into your chest I pull out into creation of Gold. Come tomorrow's fall of dawn the Gold shall flow with waves towards its destination of multiply. Bring to me the Light of whose hands are unclean to which he touches. Midnight's deadline waits at the Eye and Hand overlooking all," Damian read. "That was the initial riddle, and also the basis for every riddle that followed."
Then was the second point in the timeline to account for. "A day after having Nigma visit him at his agency Mouri received a package, one addressed to him that was clearly sent by Nigma," Damian continued. "Inside were a number of photo's, all of which were of his daughter, Ran."
This brought him to the phone and magazine. "After receiving the photos it was clear to Detective Mouri that his daughter was the target from the beginning. After setting out in search of Ran, detective Mouri discovered her phone at a bus stop," Damian noted. "Travelway, the magazine brand the phone was hidden between."
"Morning, day, and night. Are you able to name three consecutive days without using the words; Sunday, Saturday, Friday, Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, or Monday? Those were the Riddler's initial words to father when they first spoke. No doubt it is a riddle hinting at something, but what?" Damian stood in silence as he contemplated on the matter further.
Damian pressed on to the next point soon after. "The biggest hint we have about Ran's whereabouts is what Nigma hinted in regards to her current status," Damian said. "Tomorrow she could be in several places. Today she floats a stream of the moment. Yesterday, you'll have to flip it all around to make any sense of that. If I can decipher the meaning of this part of the riddle everything else should fall right in place."
Damian was certain of this. There was only one riddle that remained. "A single finger? How about two? Double provides for a two way route, in turn allowing an additional option." Two way route.. an additional option? Everything was beginning to unfold into clarity. "Could it be that the Riddler was referring directly to Ran and himself with that line?"
The panic from bystanders traveled through the air, accompanied by the police sirens that seemingly traveled in all directions. Damian blocked it all from his mind. If he was to solve this there could be no distractions. His mind remained focused on the last riddle. 'Double provides for a two way route, in turn allowing an additional option'.
"Two way route.. additional option." Damian paused. "Two, additional.. both equate to double. Meaning that there is more than a single location I need to find. Nigma and Ran must not be at the same location."
Damian was certain of this. It was now time to determine the where. He looked through all the gathered material once more, of everything he held there didn't appear to be anything that blatantly hinted at the Riddler's location. "Hold on, I might have something." Damian drew attention to yet another line that had been spoken by the Riddler.
"Today she floats a stream of the moment. The key word is moment, which means now," Damian noted. "The question is, what is the significance behind floats and.."
Damian stopped in mid-sentence. He felt as if he was coming onto something. "Float, stream.. a river! Could it be that Ran is currently floating along a river, or possibly even lake somewhere?"
The last thing he wanted to do was jump to conclusion. Damian surveyed over all clues once again. It was the first of the lot that drew in his focus. "The silver blade placed into your chest I pull out into creation of Gold. Come tomorrow's fall of dawn the Gold shall flow with waves towards its destination of multiply." It was the second line in particular that he deemed relevant. "The gold that will flow with the waves towards its destination of multiply, could the gold referenced in this part of the riddle be referring to Ran?"
Damian was beginning to link each of the riddles together. "Come tomorrow's fall of dawn the Gold shall flow with waves towards its destination of multiply, today she floats a stream of the moment.. then there is the Travelway magazine. It all must be linked in some way." Taking all of this into account there was another question that arose. "Let's say I give into the possibility the Mouri girl is in fact flowing down a river somewhere, where could the Riddler be. If my hunch is right, then I should be able to narrow down the possibilities for where Nigma is."
If Ran was truly traveling down a river, where? Damian's focus turned to the other that he sought to find. "While I may not entirely know where the Riddler is, I do know he is on the move. The theme of this challenge has been a mirrored misdirection, as father explained. So if I am to take that into account, perhaps the location for where the Riddler is located is opposite of where Ran is. The opposite of water level would be."
Damian looked up toward the sky. Realization came over him in an instant. "How did I not figure it out sooner?!"
Back on the rooftop
Kaitou Kid stood in absolute panic. Five seconds remained, four.. three.. two. He closed his eyes before the timer could hit one, bracing himself for an explosion he suspected would soon erupt. His heart couldn't be pounding any faster, feeling as a hot streak of sweat ran down the back of his neck. Two seconds passed, then five. Nothing happened. Kaitou Kid slowly opened his eyes, taking a deep breath his eyes dropped down to the device on his wrist. What he saw left him almost speechless.
".027," Kaitou Kid read. That was the time on display on the device, a time which showed no signs of changing. "What's going on, did the inner clock freeze or something?"
Not a moment later after questioning this the wrist device began to beep, alerting him of an incoming call.
"Kaitou Kid, it's me."
"It's over, mission complete," Flash reported. "We did it."
There was a sigh of relief, one followed by an explosion of exciting team accomplishment. "What, really?" Kaitou Kid found it hard to believe. "Yeahhaeeeaaahh!"
After calming himself Kaitou Kid went on to ask the obvious. "Was that the key, getting the train to go in reverse?"
"It was," Flash confirmed.
"How were you able to get it to go in reverse?" Kaitou Kid asked. "Did you set it in reverse while you were in the control room?"
"Riddler destroyed the control panel, so I had to find another means for getting the train to go in reverse."
"This I gotta hear?"
"A little over fifteen miles away from where the train was, I traveled to a facility that gives people the ability to command the trains electronically through a signal," Flash conveyed. "Once I came upon the situation in the control room I immediately exited the train and-"
"So you're telling me you traveled over fifteen miles in under like ten seconds to reach that facility?!" Kaitou Kid was speechless.
"Well, I am the fastest man alive," Flash reminded.
"So the stories I've heard about you are true."
"What about the others? Have they completed their assigned challenges?"
Before Kid had the opportunity to respond the voice of another joined in on the conversation. "Well done, if there was a pair I was expecting to fail in this act before the beginning, it was you two."
There was no mistaking who it was. "So, what's the end plan Question Mark Man?" Kaitou Kid asked.
"First off, you'd be best served to fine tune your insults," Riddler replied. "And to answer your question, your involvement in this chapter is complete."
"What do you mean by complete?" questioned Flash.
"Until next time." Those were the Riddler's closing comments to the two.
It was now just the two of them.
"So, that's it?" It all felt so underwhelming in his mind.
"Knowing the Riddler, I highly doubt it," replied Flash. "Either way, how are things looking from your end? Have Batman and Detective Mouri completed their challenges?"
Kaitou Kid took the time to glance over at the other two who occupied the same roof as himself. "Detective Mouri appears to still be worried. Regardless of the possibility of he and the person he is teamed successfully completing their challenge, I wouldn't expect him to showcase anything different. At least not until his daughter is safe," Kaitou Kid replied who then looked in the direction of Batman. "Can't say much for Mr. Sunshine. Since we first crossed I haven't seen his expression change. He's got the ultimate poker face if I've ever seen one."
"That's Batman for you," Flash said voicing a full understanding.
"So what happens now?"
"What happens now? We wait."
The question remained unanswered, the house? What was the house mentioned in the riddle? Did it pertain to the Riddler's or Ran's location? The possibility of that was front and center in Conan's mind.
"We now have three minutes and twelve seconds before time runs out," Conan pointed out. "Our progress has been minimal. It almost feels like we're-"
"Missing something," Batman completed. He was in full agreement. "There must be something. Think back. On your way to the tea house did you hear or come across anything that could be deemed out of the ordinary? Perhaps there was something you saw that you felt could be related to the challenge?"
Conan took a few seconds to rehash his trip prior to reaching this point. "Well outside of the doors to the garden seemingly opening on their own when I arrived I wouldn't say there has been anything unusu-" Conan stopped in mid thought.
"What is it?" Batman enquired
"The silver envelope I discovered attached to the entrance doors to Rikugien," Conan began. "The note I found inside read; 'Ding Dong'."
"No doubt referencing a doorbell," Batman figured.
"Exactly. After reading those words out loud the entrance doors opened," Conan informed.
Batman was beginning to catch on with where he was going with this. "To where is my position in the house?" Batman repeated. "Shinichi listen, you need to get out of there along with the bell."
"The note you found by the entrance coupled in with the one you found attached to the box when read together is; Ding Dong, dong, to where is my position in the house?" Batman ran down.
Conan realized the truth behind the mystery in that moment as well. Holding up the bell that sat in the palm of his hand a grin appeared on his face. "I understand now," Conan said. "A bell's position isn't within a house, but rather outside of it. The house linked to this riddle is the Rikugien Garden itself, which means the key to completing this challenge is to get this bell back to the entrance."
"It took me over four minutes to reach this point," said Conan who looked down to find the time remaining to them. "We have far less than that."
"Then you better hurry," Batman said. "There's no time for further conversation, get out of there."
"You won't have to tell me twice." There was nothing more that needed to be said, the task was clear, a race against time to the finish line.
With the assistance of Detective Mouri, Nightwing was successful in accomplishing the challenge that had been given to them. Nightwing had since left the GCPD headquarters and was now on his way to Wayne Manor.
"I haven't heard from Batman or the Flash, I hope they.." Nightwing paused. "No, they will pull through. There is no doubt about it."
Nightwing picked up in speed as he launched himself to another rooftop. Upon touching down he received a call. He came to an immediate stop before taking the call. "This is your captain speaking, how may I help you?"
It was Damian. There was a rising rush to be heard within his voice, exhaust even. "Grayson listen, huha.. I know where the Mouri girl is," Damian dispatched in between breaths. "Where are you? Are you close to a computer? I.. I need you to look into something."
"Woh, slow down," Nightwing said in response. "Wait.. you know where Ran Mouri is?"
"I'll have her to safety in no time," Damian all but confirmed. "That's not what's important, or rather what I need your help with."
Nightwing grinned. "You asking for a favor?"
"Do you want to catch the Riddler or not?"
"What do you need?"
"So after determining the connection between the Riddler and Mouri's whereabouts, I was able to pin point both of their locations," Damin explained. "All which I was able to figure from each of the hints and riddles dropped by Nigma."
"How do you mean?"
"Mirrored misdirection, or in this case, their locations are mirrored of one another, opposites," Damian revealed. "One in the sky, the other by water."
"What? Are you certain of this?"
"Double provides for a two way route, in turn allowing an additional option. The Riddler was referring to not only Mouri location, but his as well." Damian continued. "Then there is the remark that the Riddler had about the Mouri girl; 'Today she floats a stream of the moment', which to me hints at a lake or river."
"That's a bit of a stretch," Nightwing stated. "Are you sure you want to go full force into something without an absolute certainty?"
"The magazine Detective Mouri found his daughter the phone hidden between, Travelway. I took the liberty of checking out their website."
"There were ten places that were being heavily promoted on the front page of the site for tourist attractions, and of the ten do you know which place was featured from Tokyo? That would be the Edo River," Damian conveyed.
"And you believe that is where Ran Mouri is?" How can you be certain that is where she is and not Riddler?"
"Take the time to really think about it Grayson. Nigma needed a way of observing Batman, Kaitou Kid, and Detective Mouri all while this is going down, to make sure they complied with the rules of his game," Damian noted. "What do you think is more convenient for keeping a close eye on someone? From below? Or from above?"
"Well, when you put it that way.."
"This leads to my next point. Of any day, why did the Riddler choose to spring this game of his tonight? Why not yesterday, why not tomorrow?"
"And you have the answer?"
"It's simple, opportunity."
Nightwing didn't quite follow. "Opportunity?"
"The Riddler needed a way of being able to oversee everything going on upon his games beginning. That's why he chose tonight, because this is the night Kaitou Kid was to pull one of his scheduled heists, and everyone knows when Kid is to put on a show there will be lights, cameras, security guards, and above all." Damian paused. "Helicopters."
Everything became clear in that one moment. "Nigma high jacked a helicopter, brilliant! That would also explain why you were unable to get a clean lock onto the Riddler's signal earlier," Nightwing realized. "Not only was he on the move, but also a great distance above. Have you relayed any of this to Batman?"
"That would be unwise," Damian replied. "I imagine Nigma is keeping close tabs on him and the other two. Any attempt at contacting him about this could result in the Riddler learning that we are aware of his location."
"In short taking away the element of surprise in regards to apprehending him," Nightwing said. "So, what exactly is it you need me to look into?"
"I have a feeling that there is an odd helicopter among the bunch, possibly one that might not even be authorized to be flying at the moment."
"That would be a bullseye for the helicopter the Riddler is occupying," Nightwing stated. "I'm on my way to the cave now, I'll contact Alfred and let him know about the situation. We'll definitely find out which helicopter the Riddler is currently in control of."
"I'm holding you to that Grayson."
"You just make sure you keep up your end of the deal and bring Ran Mouri home safely," Nightwing countered.
With neither having anything else to add the transmission between the two came to an end. Nightwing took a deep breath as he looked to the sky. "And so the final act begins."
To Be Continued