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