Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds
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?"
"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