Toys, miracle blossoms flowering in the hearts of the chosen. Some bloom into pure flowers, others, into poisonous ones. It is the age of phantom thieves. These two flowers wage war to see if the great detectives or the phantom thieves are the most beautiful.
Holmes Academy is the most prominent of the detective academies in Japan, but it is not the only one. Last semester, one of our students, Sonia, was transferred to Poirot Academy, and the all girls' school of Gray (nee Pryde) Academy is the living, breathing version of the flower garden Cordelia Glauca desires. Wolfe Academy is primarily a culinary school, and focuses on students with Toys that need to be powered by food. To be a detective in this, our age, is a wonderful thing.
Except for one little detail. We're being trained to counter the phantom thieves that have made their home in Yokohama and other cities across the country. It's a dangerous job, with property of international importance on the line, but we keep fighting until the day that gentlemen thieves are no longer a threat.
Greetings. My name is Akiko Watson. Holmes Academy is approaching its graduation ceremony, an eventful time for everyone. Except for one group of students who has higher goals on their mind than the graduation ceremony. What the Academy has put on them is little compared to what society has put them through. Their name is whispered throughout the school, their influence on us all cannot be measured, their most loyal companion is a cat. Time and time again I wonder why I got involved with Milky Holmes.
Sherlock Shellinford, the only one of the group who's never abandoned a case, even when she had no idea what she was doing. Hercule Barton, a painfully shy girl whose demeanor belies her strength, both moral and physical. Nero Yuzurizaki, who can eat her weight while remaining her weight, and can be swayed by nothing but food. Cordelia Glauca is selfless to a fault, but when she acts on behalf of herself, the flowers in her hair apparently take over her brain.
After the Marlowe Hunt, in the middle of the spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, comes another event. It's one that brings together detective schools from around the nation, giving young detectives a chance to prove their skills. The Case Market, or Caket for short, is where people can bring in what little information they have, and hand it off to a detective willing to take on the case. These cases range from small and harmless, like finding a lost pet, all the way up to elaborate conspiracies that require the collaboration of several teams. It was the 80th Case Market, and Holmes Academy had been transformed into a hub of activity.
"Henriette really came through for us this year," said Sherlock.
"The food stands look better than ever. I wonder where she gets the money for all this," said Nero.
"What's important is that we figure out this," said Cordelia, reaching into her breast pocket and producing an old key.
This curiosity had been located inside of an envelope given to us by Mycroft Shellinford. Milky Holmes had spent some time examining it shortly after the Hunt, but in time became distracted by other things. Many of these other things were at the insistence of their junior, Mori Arty.
"There are lots of famous detectives here. Maybe one of them knows?" said Hercule.
"Has anyone seen Mori?" I asked.
"She offered to clean up our dorm, she'll be right along," said Sherlock.
We pushed further into the Case Market. It eventually reached a point where our motion was halted entirely. To pass the time, Nero reached into her hat and produced today's copy of The Scotland Yard. Sven Motomoto had written an article correcting the previous article, stating that Nero's Toys were likely not from a demonic source. The crowds dispersed as the booths appeared before us. Detectives our age and several years our senior were present with their envelopes.
"What are those gold marks on the booths?" asked Sherlock. "I think sis had some of those."
"The Kudo Award," I said, "It's Holmes Academy's end of the year award for the detective or detective team that had the greatest overall success in their cases. Named in honor of the mysteriously vanished high school sleuth Shinichi Kudo."
He was out there, somewhere. I had reason to be suspicious. That is for another case, though.
"I don't see this one on the map," said Cordelia, pointing to a booth that had been built near the fountain.
"Well, you can't just sneak into these things," said Nero, "Maybe they registered late."
"Let's go, let's go!" said Sherlock.
There was only one person at the small wooden table. They had a black cloak that obscured their face, making them look like a monk from some long lost religion. A sketchpad was beside them, filled with random drawings from their previous cases. Cordelia placed the key before this person on the table. They picked it up and examined it between their fingers, running over every crevice.
"Have you looked at the writing on this key?" asked the person, speaking in a boyish voice.
"It's kind of worn," said Hercule.
"I believe I've seen something like this before, yes. You lose many things when you're on a journey, but the things you gain in return, perhaps, are of more value," said the cloaked figure.
"So you know what it's for?" I asked.
"Perhaps. Since you came to my booth, would you be interested in taking up my case?" said the cloaked person.
"Of course! Thank you, mystery person!" said Sherlock.
The person in the cloak handed us the envelope. I paid the small cost for the clues, as Milky Holmes was still lacking any funding. I invited Sherlock and the rest into my clubroom. It was a long walk across campus towards the classrooms where the clubs were. This gave us a chance to enjoy the landscape. The sky was cloudy, but not overcast, the sun's warmth broke through the clouds, and a soft wind blew across campus, shaking the flower gardens.
The following events I only heard later from Sherlock, and even then they might be exaggerated. She walked off the beaten path and into a room full of old school uniforms. Kamboko the cat had somehow gotten in there. He nuzzled up against his master's leg, taking a break from pawing at the dusty fabric. He sat down and started licking his paws. Then he began to speak. His mouth never moved and his face never changed expressions, but his voice could be heard loud and clear.
"Become a great detective, and I'll give you your Toys. All you need to do is make a contract with me," said a voice from the vicinity of the cat.
Power to the powerless was a strong temptation, especially in this modern world where Toys could change your life. Sherlock Shellinford, however, treated any mystery like her first, and was at the moment more surprised that Kamaboko was talking than why he was talking. She picked him up and started tickling him.
"You can talk! You sound like Nezu," said Sherlock, "I bet you have a lot of things you want to tell me. Unless Nezu became a ventriloquist or there's a speaker somewhere..."
"Would you listen to what I'm trying to say?" said Kamaboko, "Make a contract with me to become a great detective, and I'll give you your To-"
Sherlock placed the cat on her shoulder and faced the window of the old uniform room. The light shone past her giant ribbon. Kamaboko was distracted by the sunbeams. Sherlock pointed towards the door. She took out her lucky magnifying glass and held it up to her eye.
"Solving mysteries with our lovable talking cat! Milky Holmes' triumphant return starts today!" said Sherlock.
"You're a dense one, aren't you? I'm offering you a way to get your Toys back," said Kamaboko.
"That's what that was about? Mori told me I just need to get into a death-defying situation, and I'm still waiting for one of those. Anything else wouldn't feel right at this point. I promised her, you know," said Sherlock.
"Sherlock Shellinford, you are a strange person," said Kamaboko.
Sherlock walked out of the uniform storeroom with the cat on her shoulder. She turned around to ask him another question, but the cat had returned to being a cat. He had always been just a cat, because Arsene was hiding on the rooftop of the school, using her Illusion Toys. She clenched her teeth and growled something under her breath. The rest of the Phantom Thief Empire came to her side.
"Things are going to get critical," said Arsene.
"Did that cat sound like me?" said Rat, looking down at the ground, "That's really what I sound like?"
"Does this begin before we met you, Lady Arsene?" asked Stone River.
Arsene removed her mask, returning to being Henriette. "I've done things to get ahead that I regret. If any of you know a way to stall Milky Holmes, please. Do it for me."
"Don't worry, Lady Arsene! Beautiful me will be in their faces before you know it!" said Twenty, hollering loud enough that he attracted the attention of students down below.
Case Market 80 drew to a close. What cases had been given, however, would have their effects felt throughout the school for some time to come.
This was the first time the other three from Milky Holmes had seen our clubroom. Cordelia and Hercule took their seats at the desk. Sherlock pulled out the computer chair, clutching the envelope between her fingers with excitement. Nero immediately started looking for the mini fridge.
"Even the school clubs are eating better than we are," Nero said, "Hey, Akiko, where's the food?"
"You're not going to find that much here," I said, "We spend most of our time in the shadows. If an Irregular was caught, it would spell the end. Inviting Henriette's anger has never ended well."
Memories of last semester returned. Henriette had seen no problem with Milky Holmes' attic room exploding. The room had since been rebuilt, but that brief period where the top of the dorms was a mess of charred ash and rubble still haunted their memories. Sherlock sat at the table with the rest of us.
"Where's Victoria?" she asked.
"Out on a special assignment from the president," I explained. "This case file is sealed really well. It looks professional."
I opened the envelope and found a small folder within. The first thing to fall out was a piece of paper. On it were super deformed drawings of a girl in the manga style. She was moving her arms and legs about. It looked like someone had traced them out of a flipbook. There appeared to be no immediate pattern in the girls' motions.
Also in the folder was a picture of Henriette. She looked a year or two younger, and her hair was longer. She was also dressed in a different school uniform, one that nobody could immediately place. The last piece of information was a printout from an image board conversation two years ago. It was written in a language that was barely comprehensible, but still appeared to be Japanese.
"Students attempt to use Toys to overtake school?" I said, reading the article.
"That sounds like the kind of thing a phantom thief would do," Nero said, eating a candy bar she had pulled out of her hat.
"What does this have to do with Henriette?" asked Hercule.
"The four of you are supposedly the top students, so..." I said, "Do you know what the first detective academy established was?"
"I know," said Cordelia, "Dupin Academy. Didn't it start off as a school for delinquents?"
"Originally. Then it became one of the chief centers for Toys research, but closed down to an incident that the papers haven't revealed. It's outside of Holmes Academy's territory, so Victoria and I haven't been able to uncover much. What I am certain of is that the key Mycroft gave you has something to do with it."
"Sis!" said Sherlock, pounding her fist into her hand.
In her career, there had been one case Mycroft Shellinford was not able to solve. She had been asked to solve a case of detectives and civilians being found Toyless in the countryside, but there was little evidence, and what clues they could find tended to loop back on themselves. Mycroft hadn't given up the case, but decided to pass along the key to the younger generation, hopefully her sister, knowing they might understand the nature of Toys better than her.
"Dupin Academy hasn't been demolished?" asked Hercule.
"It's too important to be," I said, "We can solve this Caket file later. The four of you need to get Henriette to let you take a field trip, no matter what you have to do."
"Henriette's the best student council president this school's ever had. There's no way she wouldn't let us go," said Sherlock.
"Miss President..." said Sherlock, frozen in shock.
"Your Toys still aren't back, and every time you do attempt to do something, you screw it up. Why should I allow you to go outside Yokohama with school sanctions?" said Henriette.
Ishinagare, Nijuuri and Nezu were hanging off the edge of the second story window, peeking in the room.
"We think we might have a lead on the key Mycroft left behind," I explained.
"Another thing," interrupted Henriette, "Where's Mori?"
"She's with her first year friends," said Nero, "Let the kid have some time to herself. She can't be with Milky Holmes all the time."
From the window, Nezu whispered to the other two.
"That's what Lady Arsene is worried about," he said.
"All of you are on cleanup duty after class today," said Arsene, "This is the president's orders."
"This gives beautiful me more time. Thank you, Lady Arse-" said Nijuuri, about to jump into the president's office.
Ishinagare snagged the back of his collar with his sword. Nijuuri found himself dangling from the blade like a harness, the soft grass waiting for him below. He escaped the only way he knew how. By removing his jacket and landing on the ground, rolling in the dirt and smiling at no one in particular.
"For thieves, we're not very stealthy," said Ishinagare.
Milky Holmes, dejected, returned to their classrooms. Sherlock tried to pass notes to the others, but Mr. Nijuuri kept grabbing them and reading them aloud. I, sitting several rows across, could only wonder where Sherlock's passion came from. Her older sister was trying to get out of solving cases, her friends were as delusional as she was, and for as much as she respected Arsene, she was willing to ignore her too. It was as if she hadn't even noticed the world was disagreeing with her.
Sherlock pulled out the first piece of paper she could find in her notebook. She hastily scribbled a message onto it. "We begin after school." She handed the note over to Hercule, but Mr. Nijuuri chose that moment to look up from the blackboard. He did not see the message written, but what it had been written on. He reached into his pocket and produced a monocle, then called out into the hallway.
"Lady Arse- I mean, miss president!" he said.
Henriette walked into the classroom and looked at the piece of paper. Her face turned bright red. She turned it around and presented it to Sherlock. It was the strip of paper with the dancing girls from the case file. Sherlock's penciled message was visible through the transparent paper.
"Do you know what this is?" she asked.
"None of us does," Sherlock answered honestly.
"Thank you," said Henriette under her breath. She spoke aloud again, "Don't forget cleaning duty."
The end of the day was approaching. Brooms and dustpans had been set out in all the classrooms. Milky Holmes, watching the other students leave homeroom, knew they had a tedious task ahead of them. I, waiting outside in the hallway, was reclining against the warm windowsill, looking out across the campus. Hard to believe only a few days ago it had been swarming with activity. I walked through the hall, towards the student council's office. They were wrapping up a meeting on what to do about the Kudo Award.
"Mycroft Shellinford received many Kudos," said the vice president, "Should her younger sister be considered for one?"
"Sherlock has messed up far too much," said Henriette, "but saving the city is something noble. She should be on the list, at the very least."
Henriette left the classroom. I reclined against the wall and closed my eyes. The air in the hallway changed. It felt warmer for a second, and a peculiar smell hung in the air. Henriette grabbed her stomach. She checked to make sure if everything was alright, and resumed her walk through the hallway. She was going to check on Milky Holmes once again.
In the classroom, Cordelia was drawing scribbles on the chalkboard instead of cleaning it. Nero was holding out one of her wristbands, looking at the supplies in the closet. Sherlock and Hercule were the only ones actually sweeping up the room. After collecting a large wad of dust, Sherlock stared at it intensely. She hoped her Toys would return, but all she got was a large sneeze, sending the dust flying and scattering across the room. Henriette walked through the cloud of dust.
"Henriette! We weren't slacking off, really!" said Sherlock.
"Except for Cordelia," said Nero.
"I'm trying to make this room look pretty," said Cordelia, finishing her crude sketch of herself frolicking in the flower fields.
There was something different about Henriette. Her eyes had a faint red circle around them, giving her an otherworldly aura against the painted sunset. She was the same in all other respects. She spoke to Sherlock, her speech patterns a bit less formal than usual. It was the afternoon and Henriette had been hard at work, so perhaps this was a side of her Sherlock had never seen before.
"The student council has agreed to let you go on your expedition, on one condition," she said, "Whatever you find must be submitted to win a Kudo Award. You have to win. I've always believed in you, Sherlock! The school is counting on you."
Sherlock embraced Henriette, her face resting on her breasts. Henriette briefly hugged Sherlock back, then let go. Sherlock turned to the others and pulled out her lucky magnifying glass, holding it to the sunset window.
"Something small is about to become much, much larger," she said, "Let's go!"
Milky Holmes charged out of the classroom, thanking Henriette as they went. Henriette clutched her stomach once more. She opened her eyes. The red ring around them was gone. With Milky Holmes nowhere to be found, Henriette climbed onto the window and scaled to the rooftop.
The four detectives ran past me in the hallway. I opened my eyes, waking up from my catnap. Sherlock embraced me by the hand, pulling me along.
"This is the adventure you've wanted to go on with me, isn't it?" she asked.
"What's going on?" I said.
"Henriette gave us permission," said Nero.
I replied, "Really...?"
"She is a kind person deep down. She wouldn't give up on us again," said Hercule.
"Has anyone seen Mori?" asked Cordelia as we reached the end of the hallway.
"I think she was sleeping," said Sherlock, "Using her Toys must be tiring for her."
In an unrelated incident, Mr. Nijuuri's hug pillow, "Beautiful You", had gone missing from the laundry that evening. He had hijacked the PA and declared to the entire school that anyone who found his beloved pillow would receive extra credit. The detectives of Holmes Academy would leave no stone unturned, but that is another story for another time. With only a map, a single backpack full of supplies, and the clothes on our backs, we departed from Holmes Academy.
The sun set on another day at the Yokohama Police Station. Kokoro had been rallying to be on the night shift, wanting to prove she was more than a kid, and so her squad mates had obliged. Hirano, Tsugiko and Saku, already changed into their casual clothes, were leaving Kokoro behind at the station.
"Call us if you see anything," said Hirano.
"Food's in the fridge. Don't gorge yourself," said Saku, rapidly clicking on her keyboard.
"See you in the morning, Kokoro," said Tsugiko.
"Stop treating me like your little sister! The beautiful genius Kokoro Akechi, who graduated from Harvard at the age of 13, will take none of this from people who are supposed to be my friends!" exclaimed Kokoro, barely stopping to catch her breath.
"You need to prove yourself. You haven't even solved a case on your own yet. That Kudo kid makes you look like an amateur," said Saku.
"I'll solve a case by tonight," said Kokoro, crossing her arms.
"Okay, okay. Have fun on the graveyard shift," said Hirano.
The rest of Genius 4 departed. Kokoro took a seat. The station she had been put at was on the far edge of town, where Yokohama bordered Yamato. She sat down and opened her meal from a nearby convenience store. She wished she could get the kind of meals she had at home, or even at school, but the Yokohama Police had recruited a genius like her the moment phantom thieves started appearing. A picture of Genius 4 hung on the wall. Kokoro looked at herself, propped up on Tsugiko and Hirano's shoulders, smiling smugly.
"Should I wait for the case to come to me, or should I go to it?" asked Kokoro to herself.
She heard the sound of footsteps in the darkness. Milky Holmes, being led by me, approached the station. The very small police box was suddenly filled with more people than it was meant to hold. Nero reached into her pocket and pulled out a fresh pair of chopsticks. She reached for the plum on top of the rice in Kokoro's lunchbox. Kokoro noticed a second too late.
"That was my dinner," said Kokoro, pouting.
"We've been running for hours, I need something," Nero said.
"Where are you running to? Academy expel you again?" asked Kokoro.
"It's a case for the Kudo Award," said Hercule.
"We're investigating Dupin Academy," said Cordelia.
Kokoro, standing under the sole light bulb in the police box, had her eyes light up at hearing that name. She scrolled through her tablet's database, looking for something in the Yokohama Police's history. She pulled up the file.
"You mean the Dupin Academy where a Toys rebellion took place?" she asked.
"That's the one!" said Sherlock.
A smirk crossed Kokoro's face. She presented her badge to Milky Holmes, the golden lettering shining underneath what few street lights there were.
"Something this dangerous will require some supervision. A professional officer like myself should go with you and make sure the proper authorities can be reported to if something bad happens," she said, straining to hold back her deviousness.
"You're younger than us," said Hercule.
"Dumber too," said Nero.
"As the oldest, I would be the one in charge of this group," said Cordelia.
"I don't want to hear that from the failure detectives!" said Kokoro, her mask of sincerity breaking as quickly as it had been built.
"So you're going with us?" asked Sherlock.
Kokoro stood on top of the table, momentarily banging her head onto the ceiling. She crouched down. "Of course I am. It's only one of the most famous cold cases in years. You're going to need someone with an IQ of 180 trillion like me to help you dumbasses do something right."
"Thank you, Kokoro-chan!" said Sherlock, embracing her tightly.
Kokoro slid her foot into the gap in the chair behind her. The chair flipped over, sending the golden mask that had been on the seat off like a catapult. Sherlock was knocked backwards. The mask rebounded off her face.
"Don't call me Kokoro-chan!" said Kokoro, catching the mask as it spun around in midair.
Sherlock just as quickly stood up, ignoring the large bump on her head where the mask had struck. She held her finger up to the nearest street light.
"We're heading to Ayase!" she declared.
"Shellinford, you are aware of how far that is?" I asked, whispering the distance in her ear.
Sherlock's face froze.
Kokoro walked into the station and got on the radio. She sounded bored, despite the weight of the conversation. "Hey, Chief. Officer Akechi. Gonna need to borrow the copter for tonight. Yes, I'm with an adult! Later." She turned to Milky Holmes. "G4's chopper is all ours."
Kokoro took us to a field not far from the police box. A large helipad, lights shooting up into the black sky, had been set up. The helicopter, dark blue and emblazoned with the Genius 4 emblem, descended. The pilot stepped out, waving to us.
"What do you girls need this for? I can fly you to wherever," he said.
"We don't need your help. Kokoro Akechi can fly it herself. Plus, it's classified," she said, speaking the last sentence with the utmost seriousness.
"After you, Watson," said Cordelia.
I climbed into the helicopter and took a seat in the back. I reclined my head across the seat, closing my eyes to shield them from the bright glare of the city lights in the distance. Hercule, Cordelia and Nero took seats beside me, with Sherlock and Kokoro moving up to the front. The helicopter door slammed shut. Kokoro strapped herself into the pilot's seat and extended her leg towards the floor. The helicopter, though turned on, did not move.
"Have you ever flown a copter before?" asked Cordelia.
"Of course I have, I'm a genius!" said Kokoro.
"I get it," said Nero, holding in her laughter, "You're short."
"Cut it, tomboy," said Kokoro, glaring at Nero with the fury of an angry bear.
"Say, Yuzuruzaki, you can control machines, can't you?" I asked.
"Well, yeah," said Nero, "but I don'..."
"Being that high up in the air with our reputations at stake... this is a death defying situation, isn't it?" asked Hercule, hiding her face beneath her hat.
"Guess it is," said Nero, "Back off, shorty. I'm flying this thing."
Nero sat down in the pilot's seat. She strapped herself in and closed her eyes. When they opened once more, a red ring was around the edges of her eyes. She pulled off one of her wristbands and stuck it into the control panel. Electricity flowed from the machine to her fingers. The rotors began to whir, and we felt ourselves lifting into the air. The city of Yokohama looked like a toy from up here; the sites of previous battles all lined up before us.
"This is Copter G4, now departing from Yokohama to Ayase. We should be arriving at our destination before midnight," said Nero.
"Nero..." said Cordelia, "Your speech sounds so feminine. Maybe your girliness has finally blossomed?"
"Think nothing of it," said Nero.
The night skies of Japan spread out before us. We passed over Yamato for a brief moment before Ayase came upon us. Ayase didn't have its own train station, leaving it disconnected from the rest of the world. We flew over a large grassy field when something struck the propeller. We saw something black and round roll down the side of the copter. It caught itself in the landing gear. The fuse burned down, and the bomb went off, making a dent in the side. We started spinning out of control.
"We're doomed! This is all your fault, you idiot!" said Kokoro, holding close to Sherlock.
"If we can land on something..." said Nero, "Hold on!"
The helicopter's blades got stuck in a large tree. The door opened, allowing us to scale down the branches. We were bruised, but still able to function. Nero blinked and clutched her stomach. Her eyes had returned to their normal color. Hercule's long skirt became trapped on the branches on the way down. She quickly moved her hands to her legs to hide anything. Cordelia and myself grabbed onto her arms and pulled her down, ripping her skirt in the process. Hercule blushed even brighter from the light breeze blowing across her leg.
The grass started to rustle. We weren't the only ones here.
"Did my bomb cheer you up?" asked Rat, holding another one in his left hand.
"You'll go no further," said Stone River, drawing his katana.
"The Three Cards," said Cordelia.
"There's two of them," said Nero.
"Where's-" Hercule was cut off in mid sentence.
A flash of wind blew past a nearby telephone pole. A pair of panties appeared. Arsene looked like a tomboy compared to the figure before them. She had a top hat and a billowing cape, her face adorned by a simple butterfly mask. "The noble lone butterfly dancing in the night!" she declared, jumping onto the ground.
"What's going on?" asked Rat.
"High, distant, beautiful, the gorgeous and elegant flying form! There is nothing I cannot steal! A gorgeous and elegant lady, the name is Phantom Thief Roll! On stage!"
She held her hand to the side of her mouth, laughing maniacally.
"Did Lady Arsene send you?" asked Stone River.
"It's the least I could do for Twenty," she said.
"Stone River! Rabbit! You have nothing to do with this," said Sherlock, "We're going to Dupin Academy, and you're not going to stop us."
Roll's face twitched in annoyance.
"My name is Rat! After all the times we've met, I expect you to get it right!" Rat said, lobbing a bomb at us.
"What's at Dupin Academy?" asked Stone River.
Kokoro stepped in front of us. She wasn't going to block much with her height. "G-Shield!"
A golden police shield appeared in place of the golden mask she carried with her. It diverted the fire from Rat's bomb, charring only the surrounding landscape and not us. She ran ahead, hoping to knock the underpowered Three Cards out of the way and clear a path for us. Rat and Stone River jumped out of the way. Kokoro felt something bouncy reflect her shield, pushing her back.
"What kind of Toys is this?" asked Kokoro, unable to see anything.
"Officer Akechi, I don't think that's..." I tried to warn her.
"This is the best Yokohama can produce?" said Roll, pushing Kokoro's G-Shield into the ground, "Your superhero toy is cute. For a little girl."
Kokoro launched her spiel at Roll once more. Her face was turning red, and she was standing on her tiptoes in an attempt to appeal taller. The flat plain wasn't doing her any favors.
"No wonder Twenty didn't mention you. You're not worth mentioning, Kokoro-chan," sneered Roll.
Kokoro retracted her shield. She held her arm close to her chest, depressing the shield deployment button against her chest. She swung her arm out with a whoosh, projecting the golden shield into the distance. It spun around like a boomerang, slamming into Sherlock's back and sending her to the ground. It came full circle, and Kokoro rammed it into Roll.
"Don't call me Kokoro-chan!" she shouted.
With the full momentum of her swing behind it, Kokoro climbed onto the shield and urged us to follow. We ran after her, jumping onto the increasingly large weapon, riding it into the streets towards our destination. We heard the sound of a bomb exploding behind, knocking the Three Cards into the air. Rat and Stone River brushed the soot off their body and prepared to report to Arsene. Roll would not go so lightly.
"I wasn't informed this would happen," she said, "Your ride ends here, Milky Holmes! Spin spin spin spin spin..."
She pulled out a cane from her shirt and began whirling it around, creating a whirlwind. Rocks were picked up off the ground and began flying through the air, aiming for us like granite butterflies. We ducked, making us go even faster. I collapsed onto Cordelia's back. Cordelia felt a sharp pain in her stomach. She blinked, and, in an instant, felt the world around her become full of sights and sounds in a way it had not been before.
"Kokoro, turn right," she said, "Car incoming."
Kokoro pulled hard on the edge of the shield, diverting us away from traffic. One of the rocks Roll had sent flying slammed against my body. I showed no reaction, enduring the pain for now, but it felt like something had been lodged inside of me. I could deal with that later. Cordelia shouted more directions to Kokoro, which eventually took us to the top of a small hill. We launched into the air. The shield, its energy having run out, vanished, and we fell to the ground.
When Cordelia opened her eyes, once with a red ring around them, had returned to normal.
"Is everyone alright?" asked Sherlock.
"I thought you didn't have your Toys," said Kokoro.
"When did I use my Toys?" asked Cordelia.
I stood up and grabbed my shoulder. "There's only a little bleeding. I'll be able to make it," I said.
"If you're hurt, you should let us know," said Hercule.
"Hey, guys," said Nero, pointing to the horizon line, "Do you see what I see?"
A great campus loomed in the distance. The stone walls where gates had once stood were there, but the gates themselves had crumbled into rusted fragments of metal, barely resembling their original form. The building had once been a sandy color, but had become overgrown with ivy to the point that it looked a sickly green. Nero read one of the road signs posted beside us. The paint where someone had tried to cover up the name of the building ahead had begun to crack, revealing the true nature of the location.
"Dupin Detective Academy," said Cordelia.
"We made it," said Nero.
"I told you I'd get us there!" said Kokoro, brushing herself off and adjusting her skirt.
"Come on, Watson," said Sherlock, wrapping her arm around my shoulders, "I'll get you there."
We started walking towards the campus, but our bodies gave out before we did. We found a nice patch of grass in a forested area, and rested near each other under the shade of an old tree.
At a campsite not far from where we slept, an elaborate tent had been set up. Two men and two women were sitting around the campfire. All of them were dressed in costume.
"We would've had them, Lady Arsene, if it wasn't for this third rate criminal tagging along in Twenty's place!" said Rat.
"If Twenty had been there, I think we would have still lost," said Stone River.
"You can't expect me to get along with someone I barely know. I can at least tolerate you two!" said Rat.
"I'll have you know that back in my hometown, I'm looked up to as a hero," said Roll, taking off her butterfly mask and rubbing it on her dress.
"We're not supposed to be heroes," said Arsene, exiting from her tent, "We work on the opposite side of the law for a reason. All I asked you to do was take care of Milky Holmes. Expect anything from them."
"What about the Yokohama Police?" asked Roll.
"Why would they be in Ayase?" asked Arsene.
Roll stood up and set down her top hat, brushing her drill curls past her face, "It was that little brat Kokoro. If it hadn't been for her, I would have taken them!"
"This is no place for would haves," said Arsene, "Leave the rest up to me."
"Lady Arsene!" said Rat and Stone River together.
"What about me?" said Roll, shouting over them.
Arsene stood up and removed her mask, transforming into Henriette. She grabbed the edge of her sleeve and tossed her Holmes Academy uniform into the air. Beneath it was a completely different uniform, colored a much darker shade of black, with a red bow. It emphasized her figure, which only drew attention to the fact that it was half a size too small.
"You're as important to me as they are. This is not the Lady Arsene you should know," she said.
"I'll go with you. Let me get revenge on that Akechi girl," said Roll.
"Go back to your own city, Makiko," said Henriette.
Roll froze. She got down on her knees and into the same circle of confusion that Rat and Stone River were already in. In a few hours, the birds would start chirping, signaling the beginning of a new day. The weather was perfectly clear. It only served to make Dupin Academy seem more dilapidated.