(The joshiki-maku, which was the striped curtain used in Kabuki performances, was lifted, to the sound of distinctly Japanese percussion instruments.)
(On the stage was the main ensemble of Meitantei Konan: Conan, Nancy, Kogoro, Eri, Dr. Agasa, Haibara, Sonoko, Mitsuhiko, Ayumi, Genta, Heiji, Kazuha, Inspector Megure, Takagi, Sato, Chiba, Shiratori, Kobayashi, and Masumi. They were all dressed either in kimonos or yutakas.)
("Konichi wa," Conan said. "The start of this new year, 2021, marks the 25th anniversary of the Detective Conan anime and the 27th anniversary of the manga.")
("Looking forward to this new year, we hope that you our fans will continue to watch the show and the movies, and read the manga as it is serialized in Shounen Sunday," Kogoro said.)
("We can promise you a year full of exciting new developments and plot twists," Heiji said. "I'm telling you, you aren't gonna want to miss-
("Hold it!" Conan said. "Heiji-niisan, you haven't been skipping ahead, I take it?")
("Whatever could you mean?" Heiji said, a grin on his face that meant he wasn't even going to try to deny it.)
("You know exactly what I mean!" Conan said. "You've been reading the manga, haven't you?")
("Maybe, maybe not," Heiji said, still grinning.)
("Oh come on, that's so uncool!" Sonoko said. "That means you know exactly what's gonna happen!")
("Oi, Heiji," Kazuha said, whispering. "Does anything...interesting happen between the two of us this coming year?")
("Aho, I'm not telling you that," Heiji said, blushing. "You're just gonna have to wait and see for yourself.")
("Anyways," Nancy said, facing the screen, "2021 should prove to be an exciting year for Detective Conan, as we hope to provide you with new original content, episodes, storylines, and of course mysteries.")
("And don't forget about the fan service!" Sonoko said.)
(Wrong series, Conan thought with a deadpan look.)
("THANK YOU FOR WATCHING!" they all said, bowing as the curtain closed.)
(White Sails by Maroon Festival)
(Conan's Voice: No pain, no gain! In the course of exposing the flaws in others you'll often uncover unwanted truths about yourself! This series has now reached 1000 episodes! So to celebrate, today's episode is about...Wait, what do you mean that we...No! No! Just no! Screw this! I never signed up for this! This time somebody else can do the stupid summary!)
(Sonoko's Voice: Alright then, I'll do it! In today's adventure, two lovebirds go and have a great time at the Maison Ikkaku! You're not gonna wanna miss this one! Oh yeah. And there's also a case, but what else is new? I need to wrap this up, so...Something, something, Detective Conan. There you go. Cue the OP.)
(Nancy's Voice: Huh? How can you not know it after all this time? Whatever.)
If you look now you can see them departing from the docks
Bravely embarking beyond the horizon visible from the shore
Venturing into the endless deep-blue expanse we call the earth
Filled with anticipation and the realization there's no turning back
A trail blazed by the trade winds, overhead, blowing on their hair
Their time-worn wooden craft dipping into the crashing waves
The furthest out of the land-based seagulls seeing them off at last
As they boldly tread where none of their kin have gone before
"Isn't it great to be alive in these times?" the captain says, leaning against the deck
"Our forefathers made the way for this glorious day: let's not let them down, eh?"
White sails unfurled, capturing the wind, our time is here and now
We are the human race, the inheritors of a momentous undertaking
Today we write the next chapter in the timeless story of the proud
So they'll say of us, "They pushed the boundary to the next level."
Shinichi and Ran's Weekend Off
January 17, 1991, 11:06 AM, Local Time
Shaikh Isa Air Base, Bahrain
His mechanical wind-up alarm clock had failed to go off. Again. He should've known that going away present from his prankster best friend was invariably gonna be rigged or defective in some way.
So instead, he was woken up to this:
"Hey, Brian, what the h*ll you doing? You're due in the air in 20 minutes. We're fueling your craft now."
And with that, Brian practically leapt out of bed and grabbed his pants.
He'd taken off on his first sortie against Iraqi targets at around 3:00 earlier that day/night. Since then, he'd done 3 more sorties before being allowed to take a break and sleep it off for a few hours back at base.
On January 15, 1991, the deadline set by the UN Security Council's Resolution 678 had expired. Saddam Hussein, dictator of Iraq, had been ordered to withdraw his forces from Kuwait or else "all necessary means" would be used to force them out. At around 2:20 AM of January 17, the US launched an Apache helicopter raid on Iraqi radar installations to create a gap in the country's IADS (Integrated Air Defense System). From there, planes from the Coalition, the greatest multinational military force seen since World War II, poured down upon Iraqi positions, especially targeting the Iraqi Air Force, its air defense and Scud launchers, and its Command and Control bunkers, which would serve to demoralize and scatter the notoriously centralized Iraqi army, which was known to discourage its officers from taking any kind of individual initiative or being equipped to do so should the need arise.
Iraq was surrounded: The Coalition scrambled fighters and dropped missiles and bombs from Carriers located in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. War planes were launched from Coalition-friendly and NATO air bases, especially the Incirlik Air Base located in Turkey, forcing the Iraqis to split their forces into northern and southern theaters of operation.
The night before, President Bush had announced the US's objectives in and rationale for taking military action against Iraq: To repel Iraqi aggression, but more importantly to uphold the international law and bring about a "new world order" void of military conflict between states. The Coalition was comprised of many different countries, most notably the UK, which was still led at this time by the "Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher, but people generally agreed that the US led the way in this fight.
The army, navy, and air force of the United States of America had spent the last 45 years preparing for a war with the Soviet Union that never came. Now that it turned out their opponent was little old Iraq, battered from eight bloody years of war with Iran and situated along flat desert terrain where its armies would have nowhere to hide from the Coalition air strikes, they were super ready to get the job done, even if they weren't aware quite yet how much of a curb stomp this fight would be. The Persian Gulf War would showcase to the world just how powerful the Americans had become, and pave the way for Bush's "new world order" that would come to pass at the end of that year when the U.S.S.R. collapsed from within, leaving America as the world's sole superpower.
Corporal Brian McDowell, age 24, put his uniform on, brushed his teeth, tied his bootlaces, put his dog tags around his neck, and went to be briefed.
He only had about 15 minutes to spare, but it was enough that he got the gist of the mission. Reconnaissance conducted in the past few hours gave him and his team a general idea of where to strike.
He ran back to the barracks and grabbed his Walkman. He never got into a plane without it.
The F-4G Phantom II equipped with "Wild Weasel V" capabilities having been prepped for the mission, he climbed inside the cockpit and took it to the runway.
"Rising up, back on the streets...Did my time, took my chances..."
"Mission control, am I clear for takeoff?" Brian asked.
"Roger that, Griffin One. You are clear for takeoff. Godspeed."
"Went the distance, now I'm back on my feet, Just a man and his will to survive..."
His light fighter-bomber craft specializing in the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) combat role went up into the air and on its way towards the war zone.
"It's the Eye of the Tiger, it's the thrill of the fight, Rising up to the challenge of our rivals..."
Present Day, Tokyo, Japan
She pulled on the door and stepped inside. It was nice and cool in there.
But she hadn't come to cool off, or even for pizza, though she did plan on having some while she was here.
There was nobody else there, save the employees.
"Hi, welcome to Pizza Hutt," the college-age guy in an apron and a hat said. "Are you here for the buffet or would you like to order off the menu?"
"Um, the buffet, I guess," Nancy said. "But um, first of all, I'd like to access Line Zero."
"You know, Line Zero. Or do you want me to tell you the password first?"
She just got a blank stare from him.
"...This isn't the right Pizza Hutt, is it?"
"Dunno what you're talking about. Sounds important or something, but I just work here."
Nancy sighed and got up. "That's alright. Sorry to bother you. I'll be going now."
Fifteen Minutes Later
She arrived at the other nearby Pizza Hutt.
"Hi. Can I take your order?"
"Depends. Do you know what Line Zero is? "
"Oh, you must be that girl Ran Mouri we've been told about," the middle-aged woman said. "But just in case, what's the password?"
Hmm, let's see, Nancy thought. Shinichi said they normally change it about once a month. The last call was more recent than that, so it should be the same...but then again, Elena-san called us last time, so...
Nancy's phone rang. It was Elena's number.
"How did you know I was calling?"
"I have my sources," Elena said. "By the way, I'd just like to add you really screwed up bad mixing up the two Pizza Hutts. Now we're gonna have to reboot that employee you asked about us. He's gonna want to know where those last two weeks of his life went."
"Reboot? That's what you call it now?"
"Eh. Reboot has a nice ring to it. Anyways, what did you want to contact me about? Not to sound rude, but I'm not one for leisurely calls. I sincerely hope you had a good reason for calling."
"That depends. Does Nobutaro count as important?"
There was silence on the other end.
Hmm? Nancy thought. Did she hang up?
"...Where did you hear that name?" Elena demanded.
"A dead girl told me."
"Nevermind. It's not important. Let's just say I have someone on my side, somebody who was nice enough to tell me about Nobutaro. Her description of him was short but telling...and I think I might've recently met him."
"What? Was I not supposed to do that?"
"Nobutaro has been dead for nine years," Elena said.
"So? You've got that miracle drug, right?"
"No. That wouldn't have done any good in his case," Elena said. "His body was completely destroyed in the freak accident that killed him."
"Were there any witnesses to this?" Nancy asked.
"Yes. His death was witnessed by a large number of people. The Black Organization saw fit to investigate the matter and concluded that he was truly and irreversibly dead."
"Hold on," Nancy said. "Nobutaro was connected to the Organization? How? Was he their arch-enemy?"
"On the contrary," Elena said. "Nobutaro was venerated as the Oracle of Milcom. The Council of the Black Organization held him and his prophecies in such high regard that he has shaped their policies and objectives even to this day. Of all the figures in the history of the Organization, only Hajime Suzuki has had a more profound impact on who they are as a group."
"What did he look like?" Nancy asked.
"Well, at the time of death he was an old man. He was born around 1950, I think, which honestly wouldn't make him so extremely old, but over the course of his lifetime the persistent use of his powers took a heavy toll on his body. When I last saw him before his death he looked like he could've been eighty."
Well that doesn't add up to the man I saw, Nancy thought. "Hey, where did he die at?"
"It's a place called Maison Ikkaku. Located in Nara."
Three Days Later
"Thanks for taking us up here, Professor," Conan said.
According to the sign, they were now nearing Maison Ikkaku, a rural but well-frequented establishment.
"You know," Nancy said to Haibara, "I was never clear on why you had to come up here with us."
"There's a donut shop we passed about 15 miles back that sells really good cinnamon and creme flavored ones," Haibara said. "I figured the Professor would've stopped there on the way home, so I came to make sure he doesn't stuff his face. Our goal is for him to lose 10 pounds this year, and we haven't been off to a very good start."
"Just admit it," Dr. Agasa said with a chuckle. "You want one too, don't you?"
"Maaaybe," she responded cheekily.
They finished removing their bags from the trunk.
"When you're finished here, call me and I'll come pick you up," the Professor said.
With that, Dr. Agasa rolled the window up and drove off.
Maison Ikkaku was a large, Western-style two story building. Behind it was a downward-sloping field that stopped at a lake. The lake was fairly large. If one walked around the edges of the slope leading to the lake they'd find themselves in the car lot where guests parked their vehicles. If one was lucky enough to have a room at the back of the building, they would have a scenic view of the lake and the plains and wooded areas surrounding it. Of course, such rooms were slightly more expensive.
Conan and Nancy went inside, into the lobby.
They passed by a man and a woman:
"I had a great time here," the woman said.
"Yeah," the man said. "We should come back here for one of our anniversaries someday."
"Huh," Nancy said. "Looks like they might've come here for their honeymoon or something."
They went up to the front desk.
"Um, hi, " Conan said. "If I'm not mistaken a reservation has been made for us."
"It was for Room 223, I think," Nancy said.
When Sonoko heard about their plans to investigate this place, she was all too eager to help them out. She even called ahead and paid for them to have a room here the next few days.
She was a little too eager, Conan thought suspiciously. Oh well. It'd only been twelve days since she found out about Ran and me.
The concierge checked the computer. "Yup, a reservation has been made for this room. Are your parents waiting elsewhere to access the room?"
"Um, yes," Conan lied.
"Okay, and the room is made out to...?"
"Um, is it Conan Edogawa and Nancy Akechi?"
"No, that's not it," the concierge said.
"Shinichi Kudo and Ran Mouri?" Nancy asked.
"Um, almost, but not quite," the concierge said.
Good grief, Conan thought with a deadpan look. That total b***h, she always has to meddle in our business, doesn't she?
"Is it made out to Shinichi and Ran Kudo?" Conan asked, feeling really uncomfortable and awkward saying it out loud.
"Yes, that's it," the concierge said. "Here's the room key, and I hope your parents enjoy their honeymoon."
"H-Honeymoon?!" Nancy exclaimed, mortified as she realized what this place was for and why Sonoko was so happy to help the two of them reserve a room here.
After taking all their bags up to Room 223, they wanted nothing more than to lie down and take a quick rest, when-
"Wait, what the...!"
"There's ONLY ONE bed?!" Nancy said, blushing but also a bit upset.
"Sonoko did this for sure," Conan said. "She's had to have asked them for a room with only one bed."
"Why would she do this?!" Nancy said. "I mean, sure, she always says we're like a married couple, but this is taking it to an extreme!"
"I'm going to go down there and ask them for a different room," Conan said.
"HEEEEEEHHH?!" Conan said. "What do you mean there are no available rooms?"
"I'm sorry," the Concierge said. "That's just the way it is. Some anonymous person called us and rented out every available room besides the one you're staying in."
Sonoko, Nancy thought, a bit teed off, did you really go to such lengths to make us sleep in the same bed?
"But didn't a couple leave earlier as we were walking in?" Conan asked.
"That room has already been reserved by somebody else a few hours back," the Concierge said. "By somebody else, actually."
"Can you tell us who it was?" Nancy asked.
"A middle-aged man. Sounded Osakan."
And then he walked in.
"T-That's him," Nancy whispered.
"That he's here cannot be a coincidence," Conan said. "Is he hear to thwart our investigation or-
"You should probably whisper a little more quietly," Yasuda said.
He went up to the front desk. "Ey. I'm here for Room 215. Name's Yasuda. Ya' gonna gimme my room key?"
The Concierge handed it in to him. "Do you have anybody here with you?"
"Nah. It's just me and my left hand."
Conan then noticed that Yasuda was holding a magazine. It looked rather crude and sexually suggestive.
"Yup, I can't keep stuff like this around the house where I'm living now," Yasuda said. "The folks who own it have a young daughter. I wouldn't want to accidentally expose her to something like this. So I just decided to take off work, come here, and enjoy myself a little while."
"Um, excuse us," Conan said. "How many beds does his room have?"
"Um, two, I think," the Concierge said.
"Neh, Yasuda-san," Conan said. "You remember us, right?"
"Of course. We solved that case at your school not too long ago. What's up?"
"Um, if it isn't too much of a bother," Nancy said, "would you mind switching rooms with us?"
"Sure thing," Yasuda said casually.
January 17, 1991, c. 7:00 PM, local time
The large desert expanse of Western Iraq was the "hunting grounds" in what would be remembered as the Great Scud Hunt.
Saddam Hussein had an extensive arsenal of Scud missiles and launchers, modified to increase range, that he employed as weapons of terror against neighboring Arab states and against Israel. One of these, the Al Hussein missile, had a range of 400 miles and could be fired from a mobile launcher, and could be re-fired in less than 30 minutes time. It could hit Jerusalem with a 1,000 lb. warhead comprised either of explosive material or chemical/biological weapons, such as Mustard Gas, Sarin, Anthrax, and even Smallpox, which had otherwise been eradicated 10 years earlier but had reportedly been used as a weapon of war against Iran during the 1980s.
Saddam was firing these weapons at Israeli cities with the objective of provoking the Jewish state into fighting back, which would remove the Arab states and perhaps Turkey from the war, as they would adamantly refuse to fight alongside Israel. This would deprive the US and its allies of access to the air bases and friendly airspace needed to strike Iraq. In short, if Israel took the bait then the war would be over. Iraq would be free to annex Kuwait, and then perhaps go on to invade Saudi Arabia and the other gulf states, which would allow Saddam to corner the world's oil market and bring the West to its knees. Saddam's entire legacy was riding on this war and its outcome, which was why he dubbed it "The Mother Of All Battles".
For the time being, the Israelis were showing the proper amount of courage and restraint in the face of Iraq's indiscriminate bombing of their homeland, but it was uncertain how long they'd be willing to just sit around and do nothing. Therefore, the Coalition was doing everything in its power to target and destroy mobile and stationary, or "static", Scud launchers scattered across Iraq. The Coalition air forces were patrolling the skies and searching the ground below for Scud, even as British special forces operated on the ground for this same purpose. However, it would prove a difficult fight. The Iraqis employed a large number of decoys and littered the terrain with electromagnetic interference. Furthermore, they had a large number of hidden bunkers to conceal their launchers. Most of the Scud launches were happening at night.
Brian and his squadron had spent all day conducting missions in this theater of operations and elsewhere in Iraq, relying upon data collected ahead of time. He had a few close calls, but by now he was starting to lose the jittery-ness that came with being on a battlefield. These missions had by now become a routine matter. He figured that if he hadn't died any of the last few times around, he'd be okay this time as well. All he had to do was his job. Pretty straightforward.
There was a sudden flash out of the corner of his eye. He saw it, on his 2 o'clock:
A Scud had been launched.
He checked his instruments. Then he made a decision:
By the angle of launch, the Scud's intended destination was probably Israel. Having just been launched, the Scud was still in its boost phase, where it was just beginning to pick up speed. Under such conditions, an air-to-air intercept was possible, if improbable. Being a ballistic missile, the Scud would go up, in an arching motion, instead of traveling along a linear flight path. His craft was currently about 55,000 feet up, with a maximum possible elevation of about 60,000 feet; once it reached maximum speed, the Scud would be moving at about 0.9 miles per second. That meant from the time of launch he had somewhat over 10 seconds to act before it transcended his own elevation and journeyed unhindered into the upper atmosphere. The window of opportunity would be very small, so he knew he had to make the most of it.
To make this intercept would require him to break formation and quite possibly even abort the mission. He would be violating orders and subjecting himself to court martial. However, he knew in his heart that he had to do it: Who knew where that missile would hit? What if it struck a bustling apartment complex or a crowded area? Dozens, or even hundreds, of innocent people could die. Brian's fiancee was pregnant with their son. What right had he to return home to his own son if he let somebody else's child die a horrible death?
"Griffin Two, I'm going after the bogey. You're in charge of the mission. Over and out."
Brian hung up.
He broke formation and raced to put his craft in position for the intercept.
Alright, he thought, I got you...
"NOW!" he screamed, deploying heat-seeking missiles.
The Scud soared high above his position.
He missed. The missiles raced forwards, aiming at nothing. A display of impotency that seemed rather Freudian to him.
Taking in what had just happened, he sighed. "Griffin Two, I'll be rejoining formation ASAP."
"Roger that, Griffin One. We'll note in our logs that the launcher was last spotted at-
"Griffin One, what was that?"
"I've been hit! "
"I don't know what it was, but I'm going down! My present location is 57 miles southeast of Ar Rutbah and closing. Tell Kate...Tell Kate that I love her. Griffin One, signing out for the last time."
And soon after he crashed.
They set their bags down in the new room, which had two beds.
"Alright then," Conan said. "Now that that's over with, where do we begin our investigation?"
"We should probably find an employee who was working here nine years ago," Nancy said. "But first: what time is it?"
"We should get some lunch."