Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds

Chapter 35

Mystery of the Letter

The message had been mapped out in full; every written character looked over in assurance it was right in place. The message was clear.. decisive. Happy with the results Kaito sealed the envelope before turning for the door. Taking a sip of the cup of tea in hand Kaito sported that snarky smirk of his. He stopped halfway across the room. Its title in bold across the bottom of the TV screen; 'Breaking: Kaito Kid's latest challenge'.

An immediate spatter of the liquid in hold occurred. "What?!"

Hearing the commotion from across the room Konosuke hurried over. "Young Master what has caused the uproar in..?" Laying eye on the TV Konosuke realized the cause in reaction. "Oh dear, it would appear Suzuki-sama has received another letter from Kaitou Kid.."

"Except I have yet to send him my latest note, meaning.."

"Meaning someone else sent the note posing as you.. it leaves one to enquire, who?"

"The Royal Flush Gang," Kaito muttered under breath.

….

A public park; that was the chosen location for their meet. Thirty minutes passed since receiving the message, if all went according to plan he would soon arrive. Scouring the area he spotted him closing in from a distance.

"Right on schedule." Damian was pleased to greet him. Standing from where he sat at bench side he strolled over. "Good to see you father."

"Glad to see you're up and functioning. How do you feel?" Bruce asked in response.

"I'll survive. I was surprised by the news of you traveling here," Damian admitted. "How long do you foresee your stay?"

"Until this matter is resolved. Whoever is behind this there is no mistaking that their endgame is near."

"What makes you so sure of that?"

"The evidence."

"If you've come to such a conclusion I can only assume more evidence was gathered since my unintended leave."

"We have a lot to discuss."

"No need to keep me waiting."

"Not here," Bruce spoke in response. "We'll go over everything once we get to the train station."

Damian was puzzled. "What's at the train station?"

"Tim just wrapped up his initial meet with Mr. Suzuki and is now headed our way by train. I'd like for him to be present before we commence."

Damian shrugged. "Then it will be so."

"Come," said Bruce taking lead. "We have a case to solve."

….

Conan stood to the side, patiently awaiting any information Haibara could pull possibly linking the missing chains in the mystery at hand. In the drift of it all his mind trailed back to the collected evidence at the station.

"The mystery house, expired milk, the receipt, and the deck of playing cards.. then there is the Sunshine ship and the captain himself, Aldor-sama. Aldor and Sunshine put together marks one of the names found on the list of suspects in Sato-sans investigation, and also the name that was registered as the owner of the searched house."

He paused for a short time. "The question now, outside of name coincidence how does the crumbs of evidence found in that house tie to Captain Aldor and his ship?"

Fortunately an answer might come sooner rather than later.

"It looks like I might have something," alerted Haibara.

Conan who was hopeful strolled over to her side. "I knew I could count on you. What did you find?"

"The Sunshine was more than just a cruise for those looking for a sightseeing adventure."

"How do you mean?"

"Its other use was for transportation goods for notable companies," informed Haibara. "Believe it or not this was the case the night of the incident. They were to be exported from the ships luggage room following the conclusion of the cruise. Want to take a guess as to who had some merchandise on the Sunshine?"

"Fun Entertainment Inc."

Haibara nodded in confirmation.

"And let me guess that wasn't the first time F.E.I. had product being delivered from the Sunshine.."

"Two for two Sherlock," replied Haibara. Her eyes shifted back to the screen. "Transactions confirm just that."

"Where was the eventual destination for the products that belonged to Fun Entertainment Inc?"

"A studio here in Tokyo."

"And did they arrive?"

"There were twenty eight crates on the ship that were tagged as Fun Entertainment merch, all but one were still aboard the ship once authorities assessed the damages on the ship."

"The single missing crate must have gone overboard after the explosion."

"I thought so at first, at least until what I discovered what was missing among everything."

"Now this I have to hear."

Smiling as she turned in seat Haibara waved him in. "Here, why don't you take a look for yourself detective."

Laying eyes on the screen himself Conan mustered a grin of his own. ".. It's as I thought, there is a connection after all. The missing crate.. maybe it's disappearance isn't due to the explosion at all."

...

'Ring in the bell. On noon brings your coming Year.. And Lit bring the FLame i find Under the years past greatS. Game is Now in play, may the Anointed one strike at midnight to !Grasp the tusks of the beast at the step of our first meet?'

Kaito studied over the message carefully, taking each word as a smaller piece to a larger puzzle. What was before a seeming certainty was now becoming a doubt in belief. Konosuke could see the shift upon his face.

"What seems to be the problem?"

"The letter.. something is off," Kaito noted.

"How do you mean?"

"Ignore the message as a whole and merrily pay attention to the capitalized letters."

"And you end up with?"

"R..O..Y..A..L..F..L..U..S..G..N..A..G," Kaito read off. "If this was in fact a riddle mapped up by the Royal Flush Gang there are two errors in this design. There is a missing 'h' that should follow the 's'. Secondly the 'n' and 'a' in GANG were swapped in order."

"Two letters switched and a missing one altogether. Strange indeed." Konosuke took a second to contemplate. "Do you believe an accident was made?"

"They would have had plenty of time to proof read, I don't think that's the case we are dealing with," replied Kaito. "The makeup of it all was intentional, I have no doubt about that."

"The Royal Flush Gang, you still believe they are the handlers of this.. riddle of sorts?"

"My mind says so, but my gut.. we could be dealing with someone altogether. Someone who wants me to believe this is the Royal Flush Gang"

Konosuke was surprised. "And who do you suppose that may be?"

"Only way to determine that is to decipher this message, not just the mystery of the capital letters but the package as a whole," Kaito responded. "Everything we need to uncover the truth is right here."

...

They had been sitting in wait for approximately ten minutes. Damian's eyes flashed down at his watch, growing impatient with every passing minute. "He should have been here by now."

"He'll turn up any moment now," Bruce assured.

The next train came strolling in shortly after, docking into place as all passengers exited out. Sure enough he came trotting along, putting an end to the wait.

"It's about time Drake," Damian remarked.

"Good to see you too," Tim replied before looking to Bruce. "So now that we're all here are you going to give us a rundown on how you want to proceed?"

Standing up from the bench Bruce pressed forward. "Walk with me."

Sharing a brief glance both Tim and Damian did what was instructed.

"How did your first meeting with Mr. Suzuki go?"

"He was skeptical of me initially, expectedly. Think I won him over in the end," Tim replied.

"And your discussions in regards to catching Kid?"

"We didn't get that far. The makeup of our conversations were focused on Kaitou Kid's latest message."

"Latest message..?"

"Mr. Suzuki received another letter from Kid within the last couple hours," Tim informed. "You were still aboard the plane during the broadcast."

Damian's curiosity had been sparked. "What was the content of the written?"

Pulling from his pocket was a folded piece of paper. "Here, I have a copy of it if you would like to take a look."

Damian took the paper in hand before reading off what was written. "Ring in the bell. On noon brings your coming Year.. And Lit bring the FLame i find Under the years past greatS. Game is Now in play, may the Anointed one strike at midnight to !Grasp the tusks of the beast at the step of our first meet?"

"If you pay attention strictly to the capitalized letters you end up with; R, O, Y, A, L, F, L, U, S, G, N, A, G," Tim noted.

"Nothing but a clutter of gibberish." That was Damian's take on it.

"Only because the message wasn't meant for us," Tim spoke in response. "It's tailored for a specific set of eyes. It's our job to decipher what that message is."

"Don't you mean yours? Last I checked you were the one assigned to deal with the clown thief," reminded Damian.

"Damian let me take a look at that." Bruce took a number of seconds to analyze the message himself.

"So what do you think?" inquired Tim.

"ROYAL FLUS GNAG seems to be how the message lines out," Bruce noted.

"Few spelling errors. If this guy was trying to send a love letter to the Royal Flush Gang he certainly gave a lack luster performance," Damian made note of.

"That night with Riddler, you did say Kaitou Kid was caught in a clash with the Royal Flush on some level," Tim referred back to.

"The complete makeup of their encounter is still a mystery," Bruce said. "The only link to speak of is the Revenant Statues. There is a common interest in collecting each from the pack. For what purpose is still yet to be determined."

"You think this is Kid's way of calling out to him?" Tim questioned. Many silent filled moments would go by. "Bruce?"

"On the night of the encounter Kaitou Kid was evading the Royal Flush Gang, it was them who were more or less in pursuit of him."

"Then that would mean.. you're right," Tim realized. "Why then would Kid want to reach out to them through a note given to Mr. Suzuki, that is of course if the capitalized letters are in fact referring to the Flush Gang."

"If we are to take that detail into account, then perhaps we should consider the possibility it wasn't Kaitou Kid who sent the letter to Mr. Suzuki," Damian suggested. "But rather the Royal Flush themselves."

"Unlikely," Bruce responded. "Letters and riddles aren't their m'o, furthermore they wouldn't risk the chance of someone catching onto their activities."

"This could be their way of contacting him," Damian said. "I mean, it's not like they have his number."

"There are many methods they could use to gain his attention that are far more discrete," Bruce replied. "And as I said before such a move would be out of character for them."

"Either way if we are to assume the Royal Flush Gang have some interest in Kid there is no doubt they'll make a move soon."

"We get Kaitou Kid, we'll have them as well," Tim said. "Well, at least that's the plan. Obviously that isn't our top priority."

"Crane's toxin," Damian grunted.

"So what's the plan boss?" asked Tim who looked to his mentor.

"We've been largely reactionary up until now, tonight we're going to take a more assertive approach," Bruce stated.

"Bout time." Damian was pleased.

"Regarding the events of the Sunshine ship, we know Harley Quinn along with an unknown accomplice seized control of the materials needed to create the toxin," Bruce ran down.

"Obviously Quinn is involved somehow, but I'm strained to believe she is the mastermind behind what has conspired." Damian stumped.

"To be honest I'm surprised she would even involve herself in a scheme like this," Tim said. "I can't quite put my hand on it, but something feels off about it all."

"Outside of the toxic materials there was another container that was taken from the ship when Harley departed," Bruce brought to light.

"Do we know what it was?" asked Damian as they continued to walk.

"According to the ships log of luggage what lied in that particular container was two props and a suit," Bruce informed. "Both which were to be used in a live performance tonight."

"For what?"

"A Kamen Yaiba show," Bruce revealed.

"Kamen Yaiba.. what's that?" Tim enquired.

"Yaiba is a fictional hero who brings doom to all wrongdoers," Damian informed. "And don't bother asking me how I know that."

"Don't see how that connects at all, at least not in hindsight. Why steal apparel for a show such as that unless.."

"Unless that Kamen Yaiba show stacks in their plan in some capacity," Bruce said.

"I would imagine it wouldn't be hard to get your hands on duplicates of basic Kamen Yaiba accessories," Damian noted. "Keeping that in mind it does raise the question of why Quinn took the package that was on board."

"To leave a message." Bruce seemed sure of this. "Harley isn't the one behind this. She's clearly working with someone; their motive.. the end game, I believe it comes full circle tonight."

"Whatever it is we'd best figure out what that is before they pull the trigger," Tim said. "I fear for the ramifications if we don't."

"That won't happen," Bruce stated.

"We'll stop them, we always do," Damian added with just as much confidence. "On the flip side tonight will knock another tally off of my bucket list."

Tim's interest was piqued. "Oh ya, and what's that?"

Damian looked to him as to respond with a hint of sarcasm. "I get to attend my first Kamen Yaiba show."

To Be Continued