So this is a story that's been sort of sitting in my files for a long time now, that I thought I'd just go ahead an post the first chapter of it. Modern Lois Lane and Shinichi have basically the exact same personality, and I find that hilarious, so...this somehow happened? And superwoman Ran and friends. And super villain Kaito and Sherry and so much more.
Warnings: Some violence, swearing, and complicated drama-filled teen romances and friendships. Gayness. Love triangles. Unfaithfulness, betrayals, secrets, etc. Current ShinRan and KaiAo, eventual KaiShin, CoAi, SeraRan, HakuAo, and plenty of other messy relationships. Because super powered teenagers are even more dysfunctional than normal teenagers. And shitty parenting.
Disclaimer: Anybody/anything you recognize doesn't belong to me! I gain no profit form this work! (Except for your love?)
Chapter 1: Mr. Big-Name-Kid
"So, Niwa-san, your company can attest to owing its recent, and very impressive, success to you new summer line?"
Niwa Hachiro: head of the popular textile company that produced the Sakura Loom line that was released into stores last June. The company, S&L Co., was until the most recent spring suffering under millions of yen in debt, until sudden boosts in profits worldwide, and the cutting of paychecks and letting go of a vast amount of employees, revitalized the failing business. The company had always produced high-quality, fashionable clothing, usually accompanied by a heavy price tag. Production, based of last week's visit to retailers, had oddly increased in recent months, despite the loss of a major portion of the workforce, and its cost had apparently lessened significantly, and the now cheaper clothes caused an extreme increase in sales.
Niwa preened under his apparent praise, a proud grin stretching across his face, as his dark eyes flickered form the camera lens back to the reporter's seemingly vapid face. He leaned a fraction of a centimeter in towards the microphone held out before him. Niwa's eyes slip down with the casual movement, tracing over the questioner's long legs with a subtle leer.
The CEO began to speak. "Yes, our summer line has been doing very well, but we must also thank every single one of our employees who have been dedicating themselves to ensure its success."
The reporter almost raised an eyebrow, but refrained, maintaining a perfect expression of unsuspecting interest while pulling the microphone back to his own lips. "It's very impressive that morale has remained so high despite the recent firings. How has your company managed to inspire it's workforce so?" The company head's pleasant smile grew, and sharp blue eyes caught how his fingers wiggled, as if itching for something. Greedy little motions.
"Well, S&L has always prided itself on being a family, factory workers included. The inability to pay so many of our precious employees hit us all hard, so we've redoubled efforts to bring the company back from the brink. With continued success we hope to be able to rehire everyone we've lost, so everyone is very dedicated to the current projects."
"Your company has also always prided itself on centering its factories here in Japan, rather than outsourcing, correct?" Niwa blinked, slightly blind-sighted smile faltering for just half a second before it returned back full-throttle, but with a sinister twist that renders it a smirk.
This CEO was tougher than he initially thought; he had a good grasp of his own reactions and how to work the camera to his favor. Pity he still didn't stand a chance.
The reporter quietly and unobtrusively traces his knee with his microphone-free hand, and the businessman momentarily paused at the movement, slightly distracted. He hated these tactics, the little movements, the near imperceptible flirtations. Just enough seduction to make even the minds of the least interested people wander.
Just the briefest falter, the shortest moment of distraction, could lose a player the game.
And so his opponent, the CEO, refocused and made his next move. "Yes, the previous heads have always maintained a tradition of keeping the company within our country. As a proud Japanese company, we must do our best to give back to our people and the economy."
"You only took up the headship two years ago. Will this be changing under your leadership?"
"Certainly not. Especially not considering the current recession." Niwa's smile couldn't be called that anymore, reduced to a tight quirk of the corners of his lips. The reporter leaned forward, exposing his collarbones from where they peeked out of his loosened tie and dress shirt. Sexuality meant nothing when it came to certain thoughts; even a man's neck could elicit images, recollections, and half-remembered desires in the straightest of men.
"How many factories does S&L have producing the Sakura Loom line?"
"Three." The businessman replied, as a dress shoe slid up his leg, an action the questioner knew, while out of sight of the camera, was pushing the limits of propriety.
"The first two are in Yokohama and Himeji, right? Where is the third?" He pressed, and Niwa took a moment to gather his concentration, eyes refocusing, and hastily responded. His gaze flickered to the top right; inconclusive studies reported that could mean he was visually constructing an image. But there was no real need for that observation. "Yokkaichi." Inwardly the reporter smirked. Outwardly, he smoothed his hand over his thigh, a casual but eye-catching movement.
"I was under the impression that the Yokkaichi factory was taking commissions for new school uniforms for the coming school year." He said with an innocent mix of confusion and insecurity. The businessman ate it up, grasping the apparent insecurity like a dog presented a steak, eager to tip the scales of power back in his own favor.
"Wrong impression, then." Niwa smiled genially, forcing an easy air. The reporter relented his little distractions, picking up a binder from the desk before them with slender fingers. The innocuous binder had rested there during the interview, next to his jacket and the tripod; its damning contents always at hand. He rested it in his lap and took his time flipping open the black cover, revealing carefully laminated forms and photos, marked with the official S&L logo.
"These production records from the factory say differently." A smile of the reporter's own played across his lips, his eyes suddenly predatory, as if he were descending upon a cornered meal. Niwa jolted, lurching forward, all fake good humor lost. The reporter flipped the page, presenting a new set of papers. "And these import records also say that the Sakura Loom line was not produced in Japan at all, but rather was brought in from India."
The CEO's mouth hung open, wide eyes racking over the presented images and forms in abject horror.
"I have pictures of the factory, as well, if you'd like to see them. Particularly the regulation breaking locked exits, inexistent fire escapes, and what appears to be child labor. Not to mention the entire building's unstable infrastructure detailed in these blueprints, and samples of the fumes your workers are spending eighteen hours a day inhaling." The reporter continued mercilessly, and Niwa made a sort of choked noise in the back of his throat.
"Bizarrely enough, the building and conditions are identical to another factory that recently collapsed after a manufacturing accident started a fire. The flames resulted in the explosion that sent the entire building collapsing in on itself and six hundred workers, only ninety of which survived. The workers had been unable to escape due to there being no emergency exits, stairs, or windows, and the locked doors essentially trapped them in a collapsing oven.
"Even more coincidentally, this incident has gone unreported by Japan's news, despite the indisputable owner of the factory being the S&L Corporation.
"Well, Niwa-san, what's your response to all this? Will you take responsibility for the hundreds of deaths—"
"I deny all theses accusations!" Niwa yelled, face purpling with frustration and rage, but the reporter was already moving. He threw his jacket over his arm while tossing the microphone into his bag, and collected the camera and tripod as two security guards slipped into the office. Despite his agility, his equipment weighed him down, and the two men in suits managed to catch hold of him and wrestled out the camera. One dutifully removed the memory card, while the other held him still by the forearms, ignoring his struggles and squawks of protest, before the video camera was carelessly tossed back into his bag. The card was handed directly over to Niwa, who held it triumphantly out, teasingly waving it back and forth as he began to gloat.
"Honestly, brat, so arrogant to think I'll just let you walk away with this?" The black binder was pulled out next, and tossed onto the desk. "Though, I must say that I appreciate that you brought all this lovely evidence to me first."
"Give that back!" The reporter hissed, his foot slamming into his captor's shin with a satisfying crack. The burly man groaned and momentarily released him, only to snatch him bodily off the ground as he tried to make a run for it. The guard's arm wrapped around the reporter's chest as he painstakingly heaved the struggling kid around to be dumped outside the building. "Give it! I didn't make—" He cut off his own protests, a panicked expression flitting across his face in a single, damning instant.
"No copies, huh? This is precisely why high school brats should stay out of the game." Niwa laughed, and the teenager made a strangled sound of fury. "Get rid of him, boys."
Security carted him out through the halls, the elevator, and then the lobby, throwing him out into the street with disgusted huffs. He was left there on the sidewalk, wide eyed and shaking, as they disappeared back into the S&L building with victorious smirks.
Kudo Shinichi got up, dusted himself off, and collected his bag and jacket from where they had fallen with a restored cool, just the slightest smile threatening to break out across his dignified expression. The memory card he had hastily replaced with a blank with some sleight of hand before he was caught was returned to the camcorder, and the real binder pulled out from where it had been hidden underneath his school uniform in his bag. Pleased with both his act and the successful bait-and-switch, he sauntered away from the building, happy to catch the bus back home and ruin a multi-billion yen company.
The Kudo Manor was waiting for him with lights off, a definite sign that he was the only one home. Feeling relieved, he made a beeline for his room, and more importantly, the computer within. He didn't dare bring his laptop to interviews; angry scoops were often all too willing to crush nice things (he hadn't actually expected his camcorder to survive today, but wow, maybe even his luck can be good sometimes). While he waited for the interview to upload for editing, he got to work touching up the article detailing the events in India and the cover up, while adding in Niwa's denials and quotes from the afternoon showing the man's reluctance to admit to his actions.
It was well into the evening by the time the story was ready to go live, but there was no denying the overwhelming feeling of satisfaction that swept over him, after weeks of travel, heavy research, and erasing any evidence of the more questionably legal actions that resulted in the truth finally being released to the public. Not exactly how most teens would boast spending break, but there was no feeling better than seeing hard work pay off as everything came together. The mobile app for his website immediately informed his readers that a new article had been published, and right away his site's views rocketed up as thousands introduce themselves to Kudo's newest big scoop. Many were loyal fans; others were newscasters, reporters, and all his other competitors waiting for a story to pounce upon. He held no claims to the stories he published, except enough to discourage plagiarism, of course, so as many stations, papers, and sites can report in on the dirt he unearthed as possible. So long as the truth got out, he was satisfied; though, in the end, everyone still knew exactly who came out with it first.
Satisfaction curled in his stomach as he crawled into bed after a quick meal and removing the carefully applied makeup from his face. He has been working on this story for weeks with few breaks for rests, and he was still pretty jetlagged, so the bed felt like heaven. Tomorrow he'd wake up to the fallout, but for now, he didn't guilty about resting his eyes for a moment.
The skyline of London was alit with a certain energy that night, the flashes of blue and red lights dancing through the streets as helicopters spun through the air, shining beams like spotlights down below. The air carried a brilliant, energetic feeling, as if crackling with excitement and buzzing with anticipation.
A crowd gathered outside a museum, moving and rippling with the wind as their eyes collectively set on the sky, hearts pounding and breath held.
It began with someone muttering slightly under their breath, a quiet whisper of awe, before soft exclamations burst forth, building and amplifying into a solid chant, voices rising and falling in excitement-induced unison.
"KID! KID! KID!"
The cheering raised in volume and tempo as the sirens increased, sharp wails cutting through the air in time with the voices, until broken by an unexpected disturbance from above.
A sleek black jet descended towards the roof of the museum, carrying a bold emblem on its side: a plain, grinning theatre mask.
The crowd shifted anxiously, and annoyance built among the audience, until another enchanted murmur started the chanting afresh, this time stronger, wilder, and faster, as if rebelling against the intimidating presence of the plane and its occupants.
"KID! KID! KID!"
"Man, they're really riled up tonight." A heavy accented voice echoed down, speaking in Japanese. Clinging to the military-grade, inch thick wires that descended from the jet's bay were multiple figures, all masked and armed and defiantly glowing in the darkness of the night. The one who spoke was dressed in deep greens and bright reds, and his dark skin emitted a fiery brilliance, as if he were another star in the night sky. He watched the crowd carefully through the veiled eyes of his domino, mouth twisted in aggravation.
"Well, it's been months since the last heist in England." A girl was drifting through the air, surrounded by a halo of soft light. The white, red, and soft pinks of her costume contrasted brilliantly with her long, dark hair. Though she spoke softly, her voice was strong, carrying even in the churning air and wild wind.
"Why are they cheering for that jerk, though?" Another girl grumbled, clinging to her wire a little nervously. Her costume was blue and white, in contrast to the figure next to her, who wore red and black and dusty brown. "He's a bad guy!"
"Some people call us the bad guys, Tsuyu." The man at her side replied, tone even, as he carefully measured the direction of the wind that tussled his blond hair.
"Well," The final figure huffed, as she bounced between the hanging lines at neck-breaking speeds. She wore dark green and grey, but her skin radiated a ghostly aura. "It won't be an issue anymo' since we're gonna bring him down!" Her voice rose sharply near the end of her statement, and those nearby flinched from the shrill sound that pierced the air.
"Watch whatcha doin', Banshee!"
"Shut up, Heiliopause, ya idiot! I'm in complete control—"
The frustrated shout was interrupted by a sudden jerk in the jet's hovering, jostling the hanging crew and even knocking loose Tsuyu, whose grip on her wire had already been tenuous.
"Tsuyu!" The flying girl in white swept her out of the air before she could fall very far. "Are you alright?"
"I'm okay, Angel, but—"
"The hell was that, Hawk?" Heliopause snarled upwards, glaring at the bottom of the jet. Again, the whole craft shuddered, before beginning to bank to the left, away from the museum.
"Don't tell me…" Hawk muttered and fortunately, no one had to. As their plane went haywire and lead them away from the scene, the crowd began to go wild with excitement, as all the sirens went silent and interfering lights were one by one extinguished.
Atop the museum, a figure emerged from a sudden burst of mist, with a showman's cry of "Ladies and gentlemen!" Clad elegantly in a flawlessly white suit and top hat, with a flickering cape behind him, the star of the show finally appeared.
The heist began.
He woke up earlier than he would have liked the next morning, Saturday, the second to last day of break, to noise that could only be created by a handful of uninvited teenagers. He groaned as he tugged his pillow over his head, trying to block out the distant but disturbing arguing, clattering, and laughter. A very familiar voice was singing, likely in the kitchen, with no distinguishable melody. His mother must have been helping Ran make breakfast.
His mother, when did she show up? His father must be around as well, which explained the absolute ruckus downstairs. Kudo Yusaku was a man with a great deal of followers: "interns" that invaded the manor whenever he was in town.
Shinichi wistfully recalled three years ago, when the city was still peaceful and normal, when he would not see his parents for months at a time, but with the sudden increase in meta-human activity and near-apocalyptic attacks on the metropolis, the two of them have made more of an effort to return every few weeks, bringing along with them his father's apprentice and his entourage of friends. The only silver lining was that Ran was a part of the posse, so he finally got to see her after long periods of nothing. They'd been dating for nearly a year and a half, and yet lately, he rarely ever saw her outside, and sometimes even in, school. They used to be inseparable, but since joining up with Yusaku's protégé, she seemed to have become perpetually busy, inconsistent, and unreliable.
(He knew he wasn't being fair, but it was so much easier to be mad than hurt.)
She was downstairs now, though. He could go spend some time with her. Months ago that thought would have had him up and out of bed in a instant, now his limbs didn't even so much as twitch.
Something angry twisted in his stomach. He didn't want to see her, not really, not today. He had felt so good, relieved and proud, last night; he wanted to savor his own success a little longer. His mother would come up soon, to check if he was actually home and if so wake him for breakfast. He had to get out of the house before then.
And, well, if his father was in town, something big must be going down. His father's returns seemed to have an uncanny correlation with explosions, super villains, not-so-natural disasters, and the Earth's imminent doom. He could almost smell the scoop developing somewhere through the pillow over his face.
Two big stories in a row? Maybe his luck was finally taking a turn for the better. Big news tempted him out of bed like a seductress would in, so he heaved himself away from the warmth and soft firmness of his mattress to the closet. Thankfully, there's a bathroom connected to his personal quarters, so he didn't have to sneak about any invaders that could report his presence to his mother. Ten minutes later he was freshened up, dressed professionally but comfortably, and began to pack. Freelance press ID? Check. Digital camera? Check. High-end camcorder? Check! Lock picks? Handcuffs? Voice recorder? Microphone? Batteries? Everything else?
It paid to be prepared in his line of work, particularly with his crazy life as a crime-magnet. His big duffel bag was heavy when fully packed, but he had no other choice as an independent, high school, freelance reporter without a cameraman. And even burdened, he was damn fast on his feet, as the starting striker and captain of the soccer team, which also happened to be an essential skill to escape this house. The second floor was relatively safe, the only visitor that would be up here was his father, and if so, he would be locked up in the library or office. The first floor would be harder to navigate, with his mother and Ran blocking off the kitchen and therefore the backdoor, and the other's likely invading the living room, in-between the stairs and the front door. Not that any of them could really stop him from leaving, but they could alert Ran. So, dining room window it was.
Of course, it's never that simple, now is it?
Hakuba caught him just as he had silently made his way down the stairs, expectant.
"Sneaking out so soon? You haven't even greeted Ran-san." The blond always spoke with such maturity that Shinichi almost wanted to like him. He and the other were alike in so many ways; they shared the same interests and passions and would likely get along fantastically if not for two very debilitating reasons.
"I figured she already has plans for after breakfast that I'm not invited to." He remarked right back, purposely adding a sharp edge to his words while still remaining completely civil. What ever plans Ran undoubtedly had, they likely involved the blond and not him, her supposed boyfriend. Hakuba recognized a topic that will inevitably result in conflict, and let it go.
"I read your story on the factory collapse." He tried instead, expression pleasant. Shinichi was not fooled.
"Honestly, Kudo-kun, when you went off to India to investigate a 'huge scoop' I was not expecting it to be this huge." The blond continued, sounding half-impressed and half-exasperated. "How did you even pull this off?"
"Don't worry, Hakuba, there's no proof that I did anything illegal to obtain any of those documents and pictures." Shinichi didn't bother with pretenses; he knew exactly what Hakuba was really asking. As a detective, the blond was always suspicious of something or other.
"You're as bad as Kuroba-kun, sometimes, I swear." Shinichi rolled his eyes. Case in point of Hakuba being a completely paranoid busybody: Kuroba Kaito was some guy he had never met in Hakuba's class, that the detective was absolutely convinced was also the infamous jewel thief Kaitou KID. But had absolutely zero evidence besides the circumstantial to prove it. Honestly, he respected the British boy's abilities as an investigator, but some days it felt like the guy believed everyone around him to be a superhero or villain until provided with reason to actually assume otherwise. It was always guilty until proven innocent with Hakuba.
Or maybe Shinichi was just a tad bitter when it came to his acquaintance, who, funnily enough, had everything he always wanted. Kudo Yusaku had taken the blond under his wing when both boys were just nine, guiding Hakuba on the path towards becoming the most renown teen detective in both the United Kingdom and Japan, while simultaneously sabotaging all Shinichi's own attempts to follow after his role model Sherlock Holmes's example. His father, acclaimed as the "World's Greatest Detective" despite being a novelist, believed the career of a private eye too dangerous for his own son, but ideal for another man's.
But Shinichi was contrary by nature, particularly when his parents were involved, and by the time he was twelve he was secretly running a crime blog from his desktop computer. Ha, take that, Father.
When Yusaku had gotten wind of these Internet activities ("He's not just watching porn? Wait, he's not watching any porn? Then what's he doing in that bedroom of his all day and night?") via one baffled Inspector Megure, it was too late. Shinichi had made a career as an investigative reporter.
"If you're heading out, then I assume you've… caught a scent, so to speak?"
Shinichi smiled despite himself. "Maybe. Want in?"
"I would never dream of interfering with a news investigation. But I am a detective, and I know how you are prone to, ah, coming across criminal inconveniences. Do try to be careful."
Oi, oi, I don't want to hear that from you.
Shinichi promptly decided the conversation was over, and continued on his way, brushing past the blond with his head held high. No point skipping the lobby now that he had been spotted, he would just have to hurry through.
Unsurprisingly, that weird Osakan and his ponytail girlfriend were spread over the couch, arguing. He almost managed to walk right past them, both too caught up in clawing at each other to pay much attention to their surroundings, but another girl walked in just as he'd almost completed his escape.
"Oh, Kudo-kun!" She called, noticing him immediately, which snapped the bickering pair out of the dispute and brought their attention towards him. The whistle-blower was Nakamori Aoko, who he knew the least well out of all his father's interns. She looked remarkably like Ran, which was reason enough for him to try and keep his distance, even though he loathed admitting it even in the safety of his own mind. "Good morning! Already heading out?" She asked, but he didn't quite have a chance to answer due to Hattori's happy exclamation of "Kudo!"
The Osakan was, frankly, an enigma. Friendly and outgoing, he somehow ended up taking a shine to Shinichi on the first day they met. Shinichi had at the time thought, hoped, if he was honest with himself, it was the beginning of a long-lasting friendship. He wasn't wrong, but not exactly right either. Their acquaintanceship was one of endless mixed messages. Hattori had a habit of lighting up the moment Shinichi stepped into the room, of chattering to him about sports and food, and calling him frequently with more chattering. But, in contrast, he constantly changed the course of conversation, or sometimes abruptly ended it, if Shinichi brought up cases, or work, or his father and family, or Ran, or any of their mutual acquaintances really, or just about anything that wasn't school, sports, and restaurants. Such interactions make it abundantly clear that Shinichi was locked permanently out of the loop about a lot of things, and since Hattori was obviously a shit liar and secret keeper, the other teen often avoided Shinichi or blatantly ignored him for days on end after such blunders, going from clingy to guiltily chilly basically every couple of weeks.
Shinichi hated lies, hated secrets, and most of all, hated the reminder that he is basically drowning in both those things, and therefore, kept his distance as much as he was able. Today, though, it seemed Hattori had elected to speak with him. "Hey, man, every news channel is talkin' about ya!"
Kazuha, Hattori's not-quite girlfriend, slapped him on the arm. "Moron, ya make it sound like they're gossipin' 'bout him!"
With a look that mimicked how annoyed Shinichi felt, Hattori snapped right back. "Idiot! Kudo knows what I mean, don'tcha Kudo?"
But Shinichi just sighed and hefted his bag a bit further up his shoulder, and departed from the scene of impending couple drama with a wave to Aoko. The continuing bickering followed him right out the front door.
Still, the knowledge of his story making such a splash lightened his mood and brought a smirk to his lips. It was a nice spring day outside, still early enough for coffee, but close enough to noon for the air to be warm. He thought about going to Poirot for his daily dose of caffeine, and popping into the Mouri Detective Agency to see if there were any cases he should report on that he had missed in the past two weeks. Maybe there he would pick up a scent of any impending trouble; otherwise he would just make his way to the police station and popular hubs in the city.
Undoubtedly, he'd run into something eventually. That's just how his life went.
When he arrived at the Mouri Detective Agency, he found Kogoro watching TV. Which would be fine if it were anyone else, it was a Saturday morning after all, but considering this seemed to be the itinerary for every day, it annoyed him.
"Good morning, Occhan." He called, as he entered without knocking. The room was cluttered with beer cans and loose papers. Ran must not have been home last night, or earlier today. Actually, it was likely she hadn't been back to the agency in roughly a week, considering the levels of unsorted or disposed trash, the number of convenience store bentos, and heavy scent of tobacco. Kogoro barely looked away from the TV, haggard and worn, and obviously nursing a hangover.
"Finally back to your usual snooping, brat?" Shinichi ignored the response, poking around the desk. There was information about a missing adolescent there. A boy, thirteen and from Osaka, had reportedly been missing for six weeks now.
"Is this your most recent case?" He asked, picking up the paper with the boy's picture and details. Kogoro glared at him.
"Tch, that's days old, so mind your own business."
"The kid's friend dropped by on Thursday, claiming he's been missing for nearly almost two months. Nobody knows exactly when he disappeared, and the parents never filed a missing persons report. Seems to be just your typical runaway."
The mentioned friend had left a cell number at the bottom of the page. Shinichi took a picture of the whole paper, before saving it into his phone. This tale was an unfortunately common one, but something about it bothers him. When he brushed his fingers along the paper, he got a feeling of dread and foreboding, and slight panic.
Well, he came here looking for a scent, so might as well follow it. He pocketed the picture too, figuring he might be able to glean more from it given time.
"Thanks, Occhan. Where's Ran been?"
"She left last Wednesday with Sonoko for some stupid villa visit or something."
Shinichi pursed his lips. The look Kogoro shot him was somewhere between pity and knowing. Which just showed how far his relationship with her has sunk.
He was tempted to call Sonoko and ask her side of the story, but already knew that his childhood not-friend would tell him that Ran went somewhere with her mother, or whatever other excuse she had been fed.
On the way out, back into the streets, he took out his phone to begin the investigation. He called the number that had been left with the case details as he headed down the avenue, already having a destination in mind.
The person on the other end of the line was a volunteer at the local youth center, Asakawa Shimpei. He was nineteen and in college, but spent his free afternoons overseeing the recreational sports teams' practices. The missing one was Moriguchi Satoshi, one of the older kids on the Frisbee team at thirteen, who had stopped going to practices mid-February. The concerned coach visited his home address, but did not meet Satoshi there, and apparently inquiries about the boy's whereabouts to his parents had been met with aggression, and had been thrown out into the street. Unsurprised by the treatment, due to having suspected the parents to be abusive for months, the coach then reported in to the local police, who conducted a search. Satoshi was never found, and when the parents were thoroughly questioned by authority figures they couldn't chase out, they claimed Satoshi had run away to Tokyo.
Investigations of the house revealed that not only was the home in squalor, but a portion of Satoshi's clothes were missing, along with a couple other items. It sounded like tens of other stories Shinichi had heard, but again, a horrible feeling crept up his spine.
It reminded him of the nauseous sensation he always got when he was about to stumble across a corpse.
Well, one missing kid wasn't much of a story, but Shinichi did have an idea about how to pursue it. He headed downtown towards the docks, and subsequently, the warehouse districts. Many runaways, orphans, and other vagabond kids frequently hid out in a particular bunch of rundown, unmanned buildings, gathering with sleeping bags, hungry eyes, and heaps of information.
The place carried the feeling of hopelessness and chaos, so he didn't actually head there all that often, because first off, he grew up in an elegant Western mansion and was generally used to the rigid order of police work, and secondly, well, he usually wasn't very welcome there anymore. That's just what tended to happen when a story a reporter runs, arrogantly thinking that the publicity will help the reluctant subjects and thinking oneself a savior for it, happened to go wrong and resulted in the desperate inhabitants losing yet another shelter. Shinichi had been a different person then, and the shame still weighed heavily on his shoulders, especially the closer he got to his destination.
But he wasn't going to run away. There was a kid in trouble, and Shinichi could help him. He owed those poor vagrants at least that much.
The warehouse he came too was dilapidated and eerie, even in the bright sunlight of the day. Wary, cold eyes tracked him through the dusty shadows, and young teens were scrambling in the darkness, away from the portions of floor illuminated by the sunlight shining through the grimy windows of the rundown building. They tracked his footsteps as he made his way further in, making his presence more conspicuous than he usually would. It was for the best that they didn't have any reason to think he was snooping, lest they get aggressive in their desperation.
The whispering echoed through the quiet halls, nervous and anxious, scared. While the homeless children that hide here from abusive caretakers and a broken foster system tended to be harrowed and weary, they were all still adolescents; the warehouse usually was filled with shouting, laughing, and arguing, just general childish shenanigans, but today the atmosphere was thick with fear, suffocating the warehouse's inhabitants.
Something was very, very wrong.
Eventually, a tall figure emerged from the murky gloom, hovering threateningly in his path. Shinichi recognized this teen, which was just a year older than him and far more sharpened by strife. Daichi was rugged around the edges, with dark skin and darker eyes and bleached hair so filthy it might as well still have been brown, but he was also powerfully built, and deadly in a fight. The ringleader and protector of the little refugees gathered in this ragged shelter.
He glared and sneered, bodily blocking any further progression into the base, "Look who it is. The rich smarty is back. Gonna screw us over again?"
Shinichi wasn't really listening to his snarls, instead observing the stressed and anxious figures scattered in the hall, quivering with too bright eyes.
"What's going on here?" He asked, skipping any pleasantries or snark. Daichi bristled and frowned at him, aggression fading into cold wariness. He knew his usual howling and barking wouldn't scare off Shinichi, even if it sent gangsters scrambling for safer turf.
"None of your business, snoop. Why are you here?"
Shinichi pulled out Satoshi's picture, and presented it to Daichi, who took it with a look of slight disdain. "I'm looking for this boy. Do you know him?"
Daichi was still, face carefully blank in frustrated annoyance. "...No. Why?" Not necessarily a lie, but the posture of the rugged teen suggested evasiveness and unease. Daichi was hiding something.
"He ran away from his abusive home in Okinawa. He supposedly came here."
"So, why look for him? Drag him back to his good-for-nothing parents?"
"Of course not. But his friend is very worried about him. This kid might be in trouble."
Daichi frowned, but relented. If there was anything this dilapidated pack leader couldn't resist, it was a troubled kid on the lamb. "I'll ask around," Worry had tightened the corners of his eyes and there was an ill-boding droop in his shoulders as he finally rasped out his answer.
Shinichi didn't ask. "Thank you."
Yellowed teeth flashed in a snarl, but there was no real animosity in the gesture. "I'm not doing this for you. I'm doing it for him. Sometimes it helps just to know somebody's looking for you, that someone out there cares."
I wonder, Shinichi thought, privately.
"Some of my kids say they saw him around about a week ago. They tried to snag him, but he said he didn't need any help. He was hanging around the old fish garage on the docks, about six blocks from here, for two days. They haven't seen him since."
The "old fish garage" was actually another old, abandoned building that had been given up as a lost cause after an incredibly bad, and ill attended, mold infection spoiled the stock that was processed there. For months it had been up for demolition, but the project would not begin for another two; however, as Shinichi stood in the dust and gloom after jimmying the lock to slip inside, he realized that the building might not even last that long.
More importantly, there were vestige signs of an inhabitant underneath the rusted stairs. A stained blanket and pillow had been carelessly thrown on the grimy floor, and junk food bags and tinfoil were haphazardly scattered about, left to attract ants and possibly mice, if the holes chewed through them were to be taken at face value. After some shifting around, he pulled out a backpack, stuffed with worn and unwashed clothing and odorously beginning to stink, from under an overturned steel barrel.
Most interesting was the tale told by the disturbances in the dust built on the floor. A single path of overlapping footsteps carved through the building, suggesting that Satoshi had taken the same route in and out of his temporary shelter several times, but elsewhere were scatterings of much larger prints, likely from differently people all in the building at the same time. They lead to overturned equipment and mindless destruction and vandalism, and most ominously, to Satoshi's bedding.
Shinichi's jerk impression was that a gang had stumbled their way in and caused chaos, but instinctively, it rang false. From the entire room he received the impression of extreme fear, cruelty, but no anger or amusement, or excitement. Physically, it presented a clear picture of teen vandals; emotionally, it suggested a job preformed with cooler heads and colder hearts, detached and unvested in their actions. More than that, he noted the graffiti was not at all like the style of any of the local gangs and delinquents, and more stereotypical, like what an adult might suspect street art was supposed to look like, rather than what it actually resembled. Whoever made the markings was also likely to be inexperienced with spray-paint, considering the smudging and failure to apply the correct number of layers, and just generally made amateurish mistakes too often to be well practiced.
And the footprints. The marks of the soles had faded, probably four or so days old, but he could still recognize that sneakers did not make them: they were the wrong shape. From the markings he could still distinguish, he assumed they were made with practical business shoes.
Whatever had happened here, it was not gang violence.
Shinichi took detailed pictures of everything, careful to not disrupt as much as possible, before giving the whole building another search, to just ascertain that Satoshi really was gone.
He found nothing more of interest.
And then, suddenly, the Earth began to shake. The whole building seemed to rattle ferociously, foreboding groans of an unsteady structure on the verge of collapse blocking out all other noise. Horrified, he dashed for the exit, deciding that running across unsteady ground and risking tripping and injuring himself was better than remaining in the rickety building any longer, lest the roof cave in on top of him.
When he burst back out into the street, stumbling over his own feet and unsteady with the added weight of his bag, Shinichi froze.
It wasn't a natural earthquake, he realized. Such an occurrence would be impossible, because the ground was shaking in intervals, a pattern he recognized as footfalls of something really ridiculously gigantic.
Above him, a block away at most and closing steadily, stories high and billowing, was a gargantuan inferno of flame and smoke and what vaguely appeared to be some sort of molten figure underneath the violently red licks of fire. It moved with swinging, humanoid steps that seemed to take a great deal of effort, with moans, more akin to a landslide rumbling than anything a person's vocal chords could produce, pronouncing every shuddering step.
Seemed like he was right about the impending doom descending upon the city.
But whatever it was, it was making its way towards him.
Meaning, Shinichi had to the hell out of there, right away. He sprinted away from the docks and the warehouses, noting that the humongous, walking lava flow must have begun somewhere in the same district, as surely he otherwise would have felt the vibrations in the ground before it could get so close.
Ahead of him, a police car careened around a corner, sirens blaring. For once, Shinichi thanked whatever bad luck constantly attracted law enforcement to him like moths to a lantern, and threw his arms into the air, waving madly.
Screeching to a sudden stop, the car and its occupant barely waited long enough for him to throw open the door and swing himself in before rearing off again, shrieking down the road. The officer behind the wheel was vaguely familiar, and staring between him, the impending disaster, and the street with wide, unnerved eyes.
"Kudo-kun!" The woman grunted, hands tight on the steering wheel.
"Hey," Shinichi said, cracking a smirk at the driver, before going back to apprising the most recent assailant of the city.
"Hi—No! I mean, grab the radio for me!"
Shinichi snatched up the transceiver of the radio, tuning his focus onto the flurry of words coming through the speakers; thankfully Megure's voice was mixed in somewhere, barking orders. Recalling the identification of the vehicle he saw for half a moment, he prattled of the car's ID code into the receiver, before beginning his spiel. "This is Kudo Shinichi, with Traffic Police Sergeant Naeko Miike. Megure-keibu, can you hear me?"
"Kudo-kun! What are you doing—"
"No time for that, Inspector. Tell me, do you have visual on the threat?"
"We're just arriving now—by god, is that—"
"A giant, walking inferno? It would seem so." Shinichi replied, worry twisting his gut. The monster, or whatever it was, was without a doubt immensely dangerous, and the city was buzzing with activity at this time of day on the weekends. Thousands of lives, if not millions, were very suddenly in danger.
He unpacked the video camera he used for live streaming broadcasts and deftly turned it on, beginning to film the scene through the window of the still speeding patrol car. The more people made aware of the current situation, whether across the country or just in the city, the better. It was possible people within the danger zone thought the shaking of the Earth was simply an earthquake, like he initially believed, and not some kind of flaming Godzilla leisurely taking a stroll through Haido Park.
"Where are you now, Megure-keibu?"
"The corner of 78th and Teiba!"
"Alright, we're heading there now!"
"Hold on, Kudo—"
Moments later, Shinichi was bursting out of the vehicle and joining Megure on the sidewalk, blocks away from the monstrosity, camera still running. The inspector raised a disapproving eyebrow, but there was little time for reprimands in this desperate situation.
"We need to broadcast an emergency evacuation notice." He suggested sternly, but Megure was on the ball.
"Already working on it." He grunted back, before turning to his men, "Get some copters in the air! I want eyes on this thing!" The Inspector barked, to both the handful of men that accompanied him there and the radio receiver clutched in his fist. It was not exactly in his jurisdiction to demand such a thing, but Shinichi figured that Superintendent Matsumoto was probably already thinking along the same lines.
"Sir," Takagi called, face creased with worry, communicating with someone over the other radio in the police car, "There's a helicopter near us right now that the Superintendent wants you on."
"Good, get it down here."
Shinichi frowned, eyes still tracking the lumbering, smoking atrocity in the distance. "Wouldn't it be best if you had cameras up there to broadcast the scene, so people know what's going on? Right now, the whole city is liable to descend into panic."
Megure eyed him, already knowing what harebrained scheme he was suggesting, but Takagi was less quick on the uptake.
"Yes, but unfortunately, we don't have time to retrieve the necessary—"
"I've got the equipment right here."
Both police detectives frowned, but there were no other options. The evacuation notice need to be made immediately. There were no further arguments as the descending aircraft whipped the air around them into a frenzy.
From up in the air, the disaster was all the more apparent, and thankfully more observable. Perfect for a live broadcast.
And, of course the whole situation in general was entirely convenient for him. Camcorder out and held steady, directed at the flames below, he began, "This is Kudo Shinichi bringing you live coverage of Tokyo's newest disaster. About five minutes ago, fires broke out in a warehouse off of Main Street, quickly escalating into an all out explosion. In the center of the blaze, a huge shadow can be seen but has not yet been identified. I'm here with Megure-keibu, who will now advise us on the emergency protocol of this situation."
He directed the camera to the Division Head, who nodded curtly and spoke, clearly and authoritatively, "All citizens within three kilometers of this event should immediately evacuate to the nearest shelter. All hospitals and schools have already been contacted and advised. All citizens outside of the immediate radius should remain indoors and keep calm. Please tune in with your local news stations and wait for further information, directions, and police bulletins."
Shinichi turned the camera to himself to quickly detail the addresses of all shelters within four kilometers for those that were unaware. Outside the helicopter, the fires rose higher and were spreading over to the adjacent buildings as the figure within them stirred. A roar tore through the city, a bellow of animalistic fury and pain, followed by an explosion so furious their transport was knocked backwards by the force of it, teetering in the air. He held desperately to the leather grip above him during the sudden lurch, his grip on the camcorder hard.
When they steadied, he directed the camera back out the window, capturing the image of the great figure rising up from the smoke, standing sixty stories tall and spanning the width of a skyscraper. The flames seemed to cloak it, swathing around it in a fiery shield even as it lurched forward into the street directly. Alongside him, Megure-keibu let out a horrified gasp. "By god…" The flames swirled around, and if not for the obvious form of some kind of humanoid giant underneath the raging red and orange, he would think he was looking at a tornado of energy making its way downtown, towards thousands of undefended citizens.
The pilot in front seemed at a loss of what to do, until Megure directed him to move the helicopter after the maybe-creature. They swung through the air after it, maintaining a hopefully safe distance above it, with Shinichi habitually, unthinkingly narrating the entire scene to his viewers. The blazing figure left behind pools of melted and cracked concrete with every huge, shuddering step. Each time it lifted its foot and put it back down, the whole city seemed to tremble. The smoke and heat rising from its form distorted the air and vision, and Shinichi could feel the hot touch of roaring flame on his face, even inside the helicopter. That…thing was positively blistering, way hotter than a normal house fire. Luckily the block seemed entirely vacated of all screaming, human life, and now other police helicopters were swinging around, and he could hear the distant sirens of fire trucks on their way.
He didn't think they would do much good.
But he also believed they wouldn't be necessary. Those guys were surely on their way already.
But that thought jinxed them, as the creature seemed to take notice of something for the first time; what could have been a head in the center of the blaze turned up, as if looking at the circling helicopters. It groaned, a horrible sound of crackling flame and pain, and lifted a flaming arm.
"Bank right!" Shinichi screamed, and the sheer authority in his voice caused the pilot to jerk the joystick right, bringing their transport into a sharp arc through the air. A trail of fire ripped suddenly through where they were just hovering, the heat singing the helicopter's side. They had escaped the first attack, but they were not safe yet.
The monster was preparing round two, the flames along its arm pulsating dramatically for another shot.
"Down! Go down!" Shinichi barked, but there was no time. The pilot forced their elevation down a few meters just as a second blast of fire roared towards them, a meteor that would swallow them whole.
The reporter calculated the trajectory. The shot was too high, going to go right over their head, but the rotors were going to be caught in—
He was too late. The fire passed right by the nose of the helicopter, catching the rotors and blasting one off along with a portion of the roof. The helicopter shuddered, and then began to fall, the single rotor left sending them careening through the air as the vehicle spun wildly right, before shutting down completely. They rolled and turned, and Shinichi suddenly wished he had buckled up properly. Thrown from his seat, the whole world spun before his eyes and distantly, he could hear Megure yelling. But then all the colors changed and he was no longer being rattled, as if he was on a rollercoaster, and instead he was freefalling. He plummeted down, face up, and could see the melted, open top of the chopper, and the hole he had apparently slipped right through.
Shit, shit, shit. If only he had a parachute, a glider, anything besides the stupid camcorder in his hand.
Where the hell were those idiots?
He had roughly four seconds before he hit the ground. Shouldn't his life flash before—
And suddenly, there were arms around him, first falling with him before slowly pressuring, gently reducing their acceleration completely before reverse their direction entirely, heading back up.
A masked girl with long brown hair smiled down him while readjusting her grip, so that she had one arm under his knees and the other supporting his back as they floated upwards. "You alright?" His savior asked, and he almost, almost blushed, because wow, she was always so damn pretty, but managed to keep his expression under control.
"Yeah, but you guys sure took your time getting here."
She laughed sweetly, and he almost groaned. God, this girl. "Sorry about that. I'm gonna pass you to Hawk, just stay relaxed and loose, alright?"
"Hey, hold on—"
And then he was lurching through the air again as Angel tossed him like he weighed nothing at all. For a moment he was falling again, and then another muscular arm caught his waist. Gruffly, he was pulled tightly against another familiar face. Hanging by line from the usual black jet that served as these guys' usual transportation was Hawk, while Angel flitted about, moving to catch the still careening helicopter with Megure and pilot inside.
Shifting in Hawk's grip, he tried to get a better shot of her rescuing the Division One head, but a disapproving noise reminded him to keep still. "Oi, I could drop you." Hawk reminded, clearly not even remotely pleased with the situation.
"You won't." But Shinichi reached up to grip the line supporting them anyway, not particularly interested in relying on Hawk for anything, ever. He could almost hear the hero's eyes rolling behind the mask. The jet supporting them slowly drifted through the air, dragging them over a building that was thankfully not on fire and to the creature's back. Hawk dropped him there none too gently.
"Stay here, don't move, don't do anything suicidal, and please, please stay out of the way. I mean it." Hawk promptly commanded, tossing Shinichi something shaped like a small boomerang, "Use this if you absolutely have, and I mean have, to get off this roof and the stairs aren't an option. Emergencies only!" It was made to look like a bird, but in reality it was more like a grappling hook gun, as Shinichi knew from experience.
"You said that last time. I know."
Hawk made a very frustrated and exasperated noise, like a strangled cat. "And you still didn't listen!" He seemed ready to go on a full out tirade, but a notable explosion in the distance behind him stole his attention away. "Emergencies only! And stay here! At the end of this, if this building is still standing, I better find you on top of it!" He was still shouting even at the black plane pulled away from the rooftop, back towards the battle, and his voice faded out, no doubt still fussing. Knowing the hero wouldn't see it, Shinichi took great deal of pleasure in rolling his eyes as dramatically as he could manage.
As if, there was reporting of the truth to be done.
So, some notes!
1. Dominoes, sadly, will NOT have a regular update schedule, unlike Schrodinger's Detective, which takes priority. Updates will be sporadic, but long.
2. This takes place in a sort of Metropolis-esque Tokyo.
3. Yusaku is basically Batman, I guess. Ran and friends are pretty much the Teen Titans. KID is not evil, but still kinda darkish. He won't hurt anyone physically, though. We'll have plenty of other super villains for that.
4. Our superheroes and their powers will become clearer next chapter. Does Shinichi have powers? Who knows! (Me.)
5. Yusaku and not letting Shinichi be a detective: he has a really good reason, actually.
6. ShinRan's relationship issues: When Ran's the one with secrets, the relationship doesn't really work, does it? I wanted to explore that a little.
7. If I stick with this fic, it's going to be really really long.
Thanks for reading!