I was awoken on the next day not by the dew dripping from the tree leaves, but from the sharp pain where the debris had been lodged into my body. I went looking for a nearby river. The rest of our traveling party was asleep, leaving me to inch along and endure the pain. I found the river, rolling through the plains of Ayase at a brisk pace, and put my skirt on a nearby tree. The cold water brushed past my legs, refreshing me.
I heard the sounds of someone else further down the riverbank. From here, they looked like a fuzzy silhouette against the rising sun. I called out to them.
"Are you a local?" she asked in return.
"Here on a visit," I said.
"Visit for what?" she called out in response, scooting further down.
Now I had a better picture of who she was. Short hair, a sizable bust, taller than average height.
"We're investigating that campus. I think it's closed," I said.
"You don't want to go there," she replied, "Sometimes the past must be left alone."
"Better to work with what you know than what you don't," I said.
In the blink of an eye, the girl on the riverbank had vanished. I felt something warm at my back. Sherlock, having just woken up, had lazily stumbled over to me. Her ribbon was askew and her clothes hung off her shoulder at odd angles.
"Good morning, Watson," she said, "I dunno if soaking your legs in the river will help your shoulder."
"I-it wasn't my shoulder," I said, "It was my... thigh that was hurt."
"Let me take a look at it," said Sherlock, leaning down on the ground.
"You don't need to, really," I insisted, "I've shrugged off stuff worse than this."
Cordelia, Nero, Hercule and Kokoro called out to us from the top of the slope. Nero was holding a bag full of convenience store goods. Suddenly I knew where our little traveling money had gone to. Everyone was dressed in their Holmes Academy uniforms, our outfits having been dirtied the day before. This included Kokoro.
"It looks cute on you," said Cordelia, leaning down and rubbing her cheek against the junior police officer.
"Sometimes a cop has to go undercover," said Kokoro, "It's not like I like this..."
"We're burning daylight," said Nero.
The distance across the grassy plains and uncrowded streets felt much longer than it was. The only sound we heard was the wind blowing through bus stations that hadn't been used in years, and voices from behind every bit of scenery. Unusual flowers were spread across the landscape. Some had petals that looked like they were made of flame. Others were translucent, but still alive. The flowers closest to the school were thriving in the darkness and weak soil near the gates.
"I don't like this flower garden," said Cordelia, clinging to Kokoro.
"It's okay, Cordelia," I said, reaching down into the flower garden and picking up a tropical flower with a natural luminescence. "We don't have any flashlights, but you can use this."
Cordelia, shivering, took the flower in hand. She extended her arm past Sherlock's face. Sherlock caught the scent of the flower, and in that moment, felt something hot run through her body.
The air was thick with the anger of those that had been involved in the Toys rebellion, and it only became thicker as we entered into the school building. The hallway was completely dark, and the windows had been boarded up. Cordelia held the glowing flower close to her face until she saw a large, ornate set of doors.
"Even without my Toys, this door feels strange," said Cordelia. "Warm. Like it's recently been used."
She clenched the stem of the glowing flower between her teeth and ran for the door. She pushed on the door hinges with all her might, but they refused to move. There were no visible locks on this side, and the door felt smooth to the touch. In spite of the building's exterior, someone had been keeping the interior in pristine shape.
"Elly, help me out here!" said Cordelia.
Hercule grabbed onto the door handle with one hand. She strained to push the door open, her face blushing even brighter, but her Toys refused to activate. Sherlock's eyes darted back and forth, looking at the firefly-like flower, then at me.
"Was Victoria's secret mission anywhere near here? This flower, I think I've felt this Toys aura before..." Sherlock said.
I did not respond. I was clutching my body, trying to withstand the injury.
Hercule had suddenly gained that same red ring of light around her eyes. She told Cordelia to stand back. The detective in green grabbed onto the door handles and, with a single shove, sent them spinning around until they had become embedded on the other side of the wall. Hercule clutched her stomach. Her eyes returned to normal; the first thing they saw was Cordelia embracing her.
"This room's lit!" she said, "Elly, thank you!"
"It's like there was this voice in my head, guiding me," said Hercule.
Sherlock grabbed me by the arm, asking once again about Victoria. I informed her that Victoria would never take up a case in Ayase for a long time. We looked above us. There was a sign reading "Auditorium", with a smaller, temporary sign beneath it that said "under construction". The chipped paint hinted that it had been under construction for a long time.
Rows upon rows of seats, stretching up to the ceiling, lined the room. We reached the middle of the aisle when a whooshing sound came from one of the boxes. We looked up and saw a girl with a cat backpack, two wobbly antenna balls on her head, and, in something unseen previously, a magnificent red and black mantle.
"Mori!" exclaimed Sherlock.
"Welcome to your final problem, Milky Holmes," said Mori. "How about if we even the odds a bit? A fair fight? Napoleon Six, assemble! Phantom Thief Armitage, if you please."
A squeaky platform rose from beneath the stage. On it was a girl with light hair, carrying a lantern in her right hand. Sherlock recognized her face right away.
"Victoria?" asked Sherlock.
"Ah, my foolish little sister," said Armitage, "The way of a great detective is so boring. We call the shots in this city, not you."
From the side of the stage, another girl walked in. She had blue eyes and blonde hair, instantly letting Nero know she was American. She wore the Dupin Academy uniform a little short. "The name's Zecker," she said, drinking from the flask on her hip, "Lookin' forward to fightin' you, Yuzuruzaki."
A girl old enough to be at university, her hair cut like a Japanese princess, walked into the balcony behind Mori. Sparks flew through her eyes. She reached into the holster on her belt and drew out a rifle. A bullet made from concentrated air shot down into the aisles, forming a small crater. We scrambled to get out of the way. A girl with a knife in her pocket appeared behind her.
"Moranne, Sylvia, let them know who we are," said Mori.
"Do you know what Dupin Academy currently is, Milky Holmes?" asked Moranne, the girl with the gun.
"Haunted?" asked Cordelia, saying the first thing that came to mind.
"A school for phantom thieves," said Sylvia.
"We're Napoleon Six, the top of the class," said Armitage.
"Lady Mori told us to kick your ass," said Zecker, sucking from her straw.
"What are you going to do?" asked Mori, "I know you don't have your Toys. Never thought I'd see the day you'd be the most competent person in the room, Kokoro-chan."
"Shut up!" said Kokoro, slapping Sherlock with a backhand by instinct.
"Enjoy, Milky Holmes," said Mori, taking her seat.
I fell into the crater between the seats, landing on my bottom. A sharp, searing pain drove through my body. Sherlock, caring more about me than herself, ran down into the pit and started feeling around the right side of my body, trying to figure out where I was hurting.
"Your arm? Your thigh?" she said, "I'm a detective, I know things about the human body..."
"They shot me in the ass, okay?" I said.
"Come on," said Hercule, bending down and showing me her back, "I'll get you to safety. I'd rather not fight either."
Hercule ran me out into the hall, which was only somewhat more safe. We peeked back inside at the battle going on between Milky Holmes and Napoleon Six. It was a clearly uneven bout. Milky Holmes' instincts were for reasoning and mystery, not knowing how to dodge a punch. I cringed as I saw their faces become bruised, their opposites showing no mercy.
Nero held one of her wristbands in her right hand, groping around the side of the auditorium for the fuse box with her left. Zecker walked towards Nero, holding out her right hand. It was wrapped in a metallic gauntlet. Nero got close enough to the lights, hoping to turn one of them on Zecker and end the fight. The blonde girl grinned. Her eyes lit up with the spark of Toys.
"Electromagnetic Toys," she said, "Wave!"
A concentrated burst of energy shot from her palm towards the stage lights, instantly knocking out one of them. She held her hand towards Nero.
"I've never seen Toys like that before," said Nero.
"I've always used this on machines, but..." Zecker made a fist with her gauntlet, "I'm curious. What would happen if I used it on a human?"
Nero jammed her wristband into the fuse box, but only got sparks flying back at her. Zecker bent down and looked at Nero, her clothes sparking. She ran her free hand around Nero's cheek. Her fingers moved past Nero's frizzy hair all the way up to her hat. Nero bolted up, but not quickly enough. Zecker placed Nero's blue cap on her head, spinning around and parading it like a trophy.
"Give that back!" Nero said.
"Take it from me first," said Zecker.
Armitage appeared to have vanished. Cordelia closed her eyes, hoping that canceling one of her senses would increase the others. The sounds of the auditorium had been drowned out by the battles behind her. All she could rely on was smell. Something moved beneath her feet, and a pair of hands ran up her torso until they reached the bottom of her neck. Cordelia opened her eyes and turned around. Armitage, half of her body sinking into a shadow on the stage, had made her move.
"Shadow Toys," she said. "Undetectable even by you, Glauca. Now," she whispered into Cordelia's ear, "imagine yourself in a wonderful flower garden..."
That was all she needed to hear. Drool started running down Cordelia's cheek. Armitage materialized the rest of her body from the shadows and stomped on Cordelia's back, sending her onto the stage. The trap door, giving way to an endless darkness, opened beneath Cordelia. She dangled over the edge, unaware of her impending fate.
Kokoro was fending off attacks from Moranne and Sylvia at the same time. Her G-Shield was still recharging. She reached for her leg holster and produced an extendable baton. The baton and Sylvia's knife clashed against each other, sparks starting to fly. Sylvia's eyes lit up.
"Speed Toys," she whispered.
In an instant, her knife became a blur. Kokoro jumped backwards, keeping herself just barely out of arm's way. She rapidly pressed the deployment button on her wristwatch. From the box above, Moranne was loading another air bullet into her gun. She pressed down on the trigger, sending a bullet of condensed air towards Kokoro.
Kokoro ducked out of the way. The bullet left a small explosion in the wall behind her. She turned around, pressing the button on her watch even faster. Sylvia's momentum caused her to embed her blade in the wall, bringing her to a sudden stop. All the force of her impact flew back into her body. Moranne loaded another bullet. Kokoro deployed her shield, only to have Moranne shoot her on the top of her hand seconds after it deployed. The shield vanished once again.
"Not again..." Kokoro said, "It's all up to you, you idiot!" she shouted at Sherlock.
"Why are you doing this?" asked Sherlock.
Sherlock dashed through one of the side doors, following a winding spiral pathway up to the boxes. She heard Mori's voice over the loudspeaker. A feeling of dread and confusion came over her body. This building was supposed to be a safe haven, but around every dark corner, Sherlock heard the pattering of feet or the reverberations of Mori's voice. She felt like she was trapped in a demonic fun house.
"Why? The answer's been in front of you this whole time, Sherlock," said Mori's voice, "Dupin Academy did start as a school for delinquents, but it was eventually revealed that the government was using our information without consent, deciding our futures for us. A young girl from a rich family had been on campus that day, and took pity on us. No, she aligned herself with our cause, and became to Dupin Academy what Opera Kobayashi is to you.
"We fought back, and claimed this place as our own. No teachers were needed, just masters of a new craft that could be passed on through the generations, and she would be our first. She was the one who started the practice of taking on code names at this school. Our guiding light, our captain against society. The Phantom Thief Arsene!"
"Arsene?" said Milky Holmes, surprised.
"So this is the Phantom Thief Empire's headquarters?" said Sherlock, reaching around for her magnifying glass.
"We don't have headquarters, you idiot," said Mori, "I saw Arsene myself when I entered this school, but my chance to be with her, to have her heart at my back, that chance never came. She was distracted by you. I don't know what she sees in you, Milky Holmes. You can't do anything right. I just had to see why she cared so much about you. So much that I followed the same path she did. Yet, I never broke ties with Napoleon Six.
"Now we can get rid of you and Lady Arsene will be ours once more!" she said.
Mori snapped her fingers, teleporting a railing from her box into the hallway. Sherlock tripped over the metal bar, falling onto the rough carpet. Her knee had been scraped. The stinging pain slowed her speed, but not to the point where she couldn't keep running. The doors to the box were in sight. Mori snapped her fingers, and the doors swung shut, slamming Sherlock in the forehead and knocking her backwards into the wall. She looked up to see that a light fixture, the wiring in it already shoddy, was about to fall. Her joints were numb. She closed her eyes and hoped for a miracle.
On the ground floor, I looked at Hercule. She was crouching in the corner, an aura of fear surrounding her.
"Don't be afraid. I've got a plan," I said.
"But you're hurt..." said Hercule.
"If we can at least even the odds," I said, clenching my fists.
Hercule nodded, and charged ahead into the auditorium. Armitage descended into the shadows and slid across the floor. She found herself in Hercule's shadow. Hercule stomped her foot against the ground, but it was to no effect. Her shadow began to rise up. Armitage had taken over her shadow, making her look like the person she had chosen, but with a black wardrobe and blank, black eyes. Hercule closed her eyes and extended her first, but Armitage stopped her, grabbed her first, and threw her to the ground.
She transformed back into her true form, letting Hercule's shadow free.
"That's all of them," she said, "What do you think, Lady Mori?"
"I want them dead," said Mori in a childish voice.
Sherlock heard a voice in her head. Her body felt warm, and her eyes no longer felt heavy and dry. She looked down at her bruised body. She stretched out her hand, hoping to do something to stop Mori. A pink aura surrounded her hand, and the cuts on it began to heal. The leader of Milky Holmes shot a psychokinetic blast at the wall with her left hand, propelling herself up, and fired another in the direction of the ceiling lights, stopping them before they crashed and shattered into destructive shards.
"My Toys..." Sherlock said, "How did they...?"
"You had some help," said my voice from within her head.
"Watson?" said Sherlock, panicking, "Where are you?"
"I'm part of you. My Toys are Astral Projection. As long as I'm in your body, I boost you enough so that your Toys can be used. It's good to be in a form where my butt doesn't hurt," I said.
"You can do that?" Sherlock said, her brain short circuiting at the idea.
"For a few minutes at a time, yes," I said, "You wanted to face Mori, didn't you?"
"Right!" said Sherlock, "Psychokinesis!"
She pried open the lock on the box door, and walked into Mori's chamber.
Mori turned around, standing up on the edge of the box. Her cape fluttered in the wind of the open auditorium. Lights shone down in her direction. It seemed peaceful up here compared to the chaos that had ensued down below. Sherlock stood in the entryway, and pointed her finger at her junior, standing proud.
"That's as far as you go," said Sherlock.
"If it isn't the idiot detective," said Mori.
"Wrong!" said Sherlock and myself, our voices in sync, "We are two detectives in one! Now, count your crimes!"
I thrust Sherlock's arm upward, sending a psychokinetic sphere outward, hoping to grab Mori. She snapped her fingers and vanished, leaving her cape and her antenna headband in her wake. She dropped down from above, her foot heading towards us. Sherlock and I created an energy shield. Mori's foot ground against the pink ball; she teleported away once again, trying to punch her way through an opening. We sent the energy ball flying outward, knocking Mori off the edge of the balcony.
"Mori!" said Sherlock, her mind operating independent of mine.
"Like that would get me," Mori said, teleporting to our side.
Mori grabbed Sherlock by the ribbon and smirked. The world before us momentarily became black, and before we knew it, we were on the crumbling roof of the Dupin Academy building. Sherlock was unprepared, and tripped. Her face met with the rooftop tiles. Mori watched from the edge of the rooftop entrance with a smile.
"I'll handle Sherlock, the rest of you finish them off," said Mori into her cell phone.
"Roger," replied Sylvia and Moranne at the same time.
"Got it, boss," said Zecker, clenching her fist.
"I'm afraid I can't do that," said Armitage.
"What?" said Mori.
"I may be a phantom thief, but to commit cold blooded murder on a weakened enemy is not what Lady Arsene would have desired," said Armitage.
"Arsene isn't here! I'm the one in charge of this group now, and I say that we take them out for good!" said Mori. "Teleportation Toys!"
Mori held her hand out. Sparks flew through her eyes. Debris and shards of glass from around the building moved away from their original location and around Mori, orbiting her like a celestial body. Mori grinned, and sent them all towards us. Sherlock and I put up a shield, but it could only be held up for so long. The shield broke, and we became bruised and cut by the whirlwind of pain.
"Here I thought you'd become a challenge," said Mori, "but you don't even have your Toys back, do you? You have to rely on Watson to do all your legwork."
"Sherlock is someone I... admire," I said, my voice coming through her mouth, "I chose to do this."
"You admire me?" said Sherlock.
"I don't want to hurt someone. Who doesn't deserve it," Mori said, "You will be spared."
Mori pointed her finger at me and thrust outward. Her other hand traced an arc across the sky. My comatose body appeared on the rooftop, collapsing without someone to control it. The criminal mastermind pulled inward, forcing my astral self to reconstitute outside Sherlock's body. I regained my senses, awakening in my own body. After getting a feel for where my fingers and toes were, along with the sharp pain from the rock embedded into my ass, I witnessed the last thing I had wanted to see.
"Farewell, Shellinford," said Mori.
Sherlock had been frozen for a moment, clutching her stomach from me having exited her body. When she could process what was going on, she was above the rooftop, and standing on nothing. She only had a moment to look down before rapidly falling through the sky, the wind rushing past her eyes. No matter how fast she moved her limbs, gravity was winning. I rushed to the edge and looked downward in fear. I wanted to cry out her name.
"Is this where it ends?" Sherlock thought to herself, "The clouds..."
There was a warm, soft feeling in the back of her head. Her ribbon had become limp. One of the rabbit ears had folded over her eye, and the other was caught on something. Sherlock saw the world momentarily start to blur. She closed her eyes, preparing for impact. When next she opened them, she was standing on the rooftop. That warmth was still surrounding her. She moved her arm up and felt something soft and springy.
"I told you not to do this, but you've always got to make your own way," said a familiar voice.
"President Henriette!" said Sherlock, wrapping her head in the president's breasts once more.
In that brief moment, Henriette had bounded up from the ground and captured Sherlock in her arms, bringing her to the rooftop to resume the battle. Like Mori, Henriette was wearing the uniform of Dupin Academy. There were a few years of experience and her face was fuller, but it looked identical to the picture we had found in Mori's case file.
"There you go again, saving her! What about me?" asked Mori.
"My absence was supposed to make you stronger, not turn you into the kind of thief even other thieves despise," said Henriette.
"Excuse me. Wasn't your teacher Arsene? This is Henriette," said Sherlock.
"Er, Shellinford, have you really not noticed...?" I said.
"Noticed what?" Sherlock asked.
Mori's cheerful expression had been replaced by tranquil fury. She stared at Sherlock and Henriette. Except for the dim light of Toys in her eyes, there was no life in there. She moved her hand upward and summoned a door that had been knocked out of its frame during the fight in the auditorium, and placed it directly above Sherlock's head.
"Arsene is mine!" she said.
The door crashed onto the roof, but then stopped. A pink glow surrounded it. It hovered a few centimeters above the dent it had created, with Sherlock struggling to push it to the side, under her own strength. She swung the door outward. It shattered into wooden shards against the side of the academy building. The detective in pink walked through the rain of shards, advancing towards Mori. Her eyes had dancing balls of light within them, pulsating in time with the pink glow on her body.
"Yo-your Toys? But you shouldn't have them. Watson's over there, and... what's going on?" Mori said in flat disbelief.
Sherlock calmly walked across the rooftop, her energy barrier protecting her. She embraced Mori and nuzzled against her cheek. Mori was flustered, unable to comprehend what was going on.
The same thing had happened in the auditorium. Hercule and Cordelia had righted themselves, knocking away the weaponry that had come their way. Nero had caused an electrical wire to shoot out of the wall, coiling itself around her hat and returning it to its rightful place. Kokoro pushed herself out from under the weight of her shield, covering her eyes from the three colored glow that had spread throughout the auditorium.
"Thank you," said Sherlock honestly.
"What? I was trying to kill you," said Mori.
"I know. It worked. A death-defying situation was all it took to get our Toys back. You must have been planning this all along," said Sherlock.
Technically, this wasn't untrue.
"I'm so glad to have you as our junior," said Sherlock.
"How dense can you be?" said Mori, "I've been trained to be a phantom thief. You're a detective. We're supposed to hate each other."
"I don't think Sherlock hates the same way you do," said Henriette. "She puts up with worse from her friends."
"Like Kokoro-chan," said Sherlock, stopping her hugging to look up.
Down in the auditorium, Kokoro Akechi sneezed. With her last bit of energy, she projected her G-Shield upward, freeing herself from the rubble. Fueled by adrenaline that only immaturity can produce, Kokoro raced to the rooftop, bolted through the door, and jumped on Sherlock's back, grabbing her by her ribbon.
"Don't call me Kokoro-chan!" she snarled.
"Detective, phantom thief, policewoman," said Mori, counting them off, "Doesn't matter. I'll destroy all of you!"
In the auditorium, the members of Napoleon Six, except for Armitage, briefly regrouped.
"So you have your Toys back, big deal," said Sylvia.
"Without Shellinford, you're weaker than ever," said Moranne.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" asked Zecker, taking another drink.
Kokoro had long since fled the room, and the remaining members of Milky Holmes were outmatched. That didn't matter. Nero tossed her hat into the air, grabbing the snack she had been storing in it. She took a bite and grinned. A sparking yellow aura surrounded her.
"An east wind has blown, one that Yokohama has never seen," said Nero.
"Things may have been cold and bitter, and our futures were lost," said Cordelia, placing her hand on Nero's right wristband.
"A safer, more peaceful city lies in the sunshine; the storm has cleared," said Hercule, her blush replaced with a confident glare.
"That moment is now! Milky Holmes has returned at full power!" the three said in unison.
Moranne reached behind her back and produced a large rifle. She set the sights on Milky Holmes, whispering "Wind Burst Toys," under her breath. The rifle was loaded with three bullets. She pressed on the trigger and, in rapid succession, the compressed air projectiles soared towards the detectives.
Cordelia's eyes lit up. She ducked out of the way, and pushed Nero and Hercule into position where the bullets only grazed their hair. Large craters appeared in the stage wall behind them. Cordelia stood up and brushed her hair back. She was unharmed. Moranne fired another round of bullets at the stage, this time aiming for the sandbags.
"You can't pull the same trick twice," Nero said, "GO!"
Nero inserted one of her wristbands into the controls on the side of the stage. The rotating platform beneath her started to spin, causing her to be out of one of the air bullet's range. The other two were heading straight for her. Hercule, without saying a word, motioned for Nero to jump off.
Hercule dug her fingers into the edge of the turntable, prying it out of its spot and holding it in front of her, Nero and Cordelia, absorbing the bullets. Something of this size was light for Hercule. She grabbed the back of it with one hand and ran ahead, plowing through the aisles to reach Moranne.
"Let's see how you do in the dark," said Zecker, firing an EMP pulse out of her hand at the lights above. The auditorium fell into near complete darkness, except for the lights in the eyes of the detectives and thieves.
"Just fine," said Cordelia, her eyes lighting up. "Elly!"
Hercule dropped the turntable, letting it roll like a clunky wheel. It spun out, knocking back Moranne and Sylvia. Their weapons fell far away, and their bodies, having been dealt a major blow by part of the stage, couldn't move. Hercule leaped into the air and bounced off Cordelia's shoulders, holding out her first. A green aura surrounded it as she let out a hot blooded war cry.
"No way," said Zecker in shock.
Zecker held out her gauntlet, palm forward. Hercule's fist met with the metal weapon and crunched it, creating a pile of wires and scrap metal. Only a small portion remained on Zecker's hand. She looked at her hand, glowing bright red, and collapsed to her knees. Without a way to focus her powers, she was no good in a fight.
"I concede," said Armitage walking out of the shadows and slowly clapping.
"Come on, I'm still raring for a fight," said Nero.
"There is no need," said Armitage, vanishing into the shadows, "I'm only in this for the rewards. Comitting murder isn't really my style. Perhaps we'll meet again someday, Milky Holmes. Give my greetings to Victoria."
The auditorium fell silent.
"So... we won?" asked Hercule.
"Not quite," said Cordelia, listening to the rooftop, "Sheryl still has her own battles."
"I'll hold them off, you idiot," said Kokoro, shooting her recharged G-Shield in front of the motley party, making it large enough to shield all of them.
"I won't lose," said Sherlock.
"It's an honor to fight with you," said Henriette, closing her eyes and moving her hands about until she looked like the Buddha.
Even in a do or die situation like this, there were things Henriette did not want Sherlock to know. Her Toys were still a complete mystery to Holmes Academy, and would remain so until she chose to reveal it on her own. Beneath her eyelids, a dim light shone. The blur created by her arms was aimed in Mori's direction.
Mori had focused her anger on Sherlock to the point that she considered Henriette a noncombatant. Her body started to feel light and euphoric, yet shaky and cold. The rooftop appeared to vanish beneath her shoes, showing the long way down into the auditorium. Mori did not know when gravity would take effect and stood there, waiting, motionless.
"Mori Arty!" Sherlock shouted.
Pink energy surrounded Sherlock's hands and Mori's body. Mori saw herself suspended in a pink cloud of energy. Sherlock spun her finger around, causing Mori to do the same. Fragments of the roof lifted up, aiming to lightly strike her.
Mori's world became blurry and her body became dizzy. She stumbled around. Henriette changed the illusion to a carnival, full of bright lights and loud noises. Mori forced an empty, depraved laugh. She had no idea where she was anymore, and the decorations at the park all looked like Sherlock, staring down at her.
"Who are you? You should have been dead!" said Mori.
Mori extended her fingers. The illusion didn't break, but merely changed. The school rooftop appeared to her as a large ravine over a roaring waterfall. The fragments of the roof were redirected. Henriette jumped out of the way to a spire above. Kokoro called for Sherlock to get behind her shield, but Sherlock did not. She crossed her arms and braved the storm of debris.
"I'm not sure who I am," said Sherlock. "I'm not the top student at Holmes Academy. I'm not as good a detective as sis. Yet this world still calls out to me! The place I end up is not the place I set out for, but the me who arrived there is better than the day before. I'm passive, but my mind is racing. There are so many little things in this world worth finding out. Grandpa Holmes taught me that. Mycroft taught me that. Henriette taught me that. Even you have taught me that! So I'll keep on fighting."
The G-Shield vanished. Henriette jumped down from the spire, grabbing onto part of the railing, and used it to block the last piece of tile. With the rail dented, their last line of defense was gone.
"Sheryl..." I said.
I tried to walk in front of Mori, but she stuck her arm out, preventing me passage.
"I'm Sherlock Shellinford! The most ambitious detective in the world!" she shouted. "Kokoro-chan! Henriette! Put your hands on mine!"
"Just this once, I'm not going to hit you," said Kokoro.
"Don't tell me she's going to-" said Henriette.
A wave of white light washed over the rooftop, spreading out from Sherlock. She let go of Henriette and Kokoro's hands and bounded off the top of the wave, sailing higher into the air. Her pink aura was drawn closer to the pink aura that had been placed around Mori. Though harsh winds from the attack were blowing, Sherlock called out to me.
"Watson!" she said.
I nodded in return. It was clear what I had to do.
"Astral Projection Toys!" I said.
My body glimmered with multicolored sparks. The sparks converged and became a quasi-solid mass in the shape of myself. That form shot itself into Sherlock's body, aiming for her heart. Sherlock's eyes gained the red glow that signaled I was in there. With her powers already back, my presence magnified them to a level even greater than before. Sherlock punched through Henriette's illusion barrier. Mori's back was within her sight.
Sherlock put her hands together and extended her pointer fingers. She landed on the ground, bending down to her knees. The wind blew Mori's skirt upward. Sherlock thrust her hands at Mori's buttocks. forcing the cloth uncomfortably into her junior's anus. Mori's eyes went blank and her mouth opened in shock.
"...wh-what?" she said.
"Kancho, Milky Holmes version!" said Sherlock, "You're a prankster, Mori. I wanted to play one on you in return."
"I feel kind of dirty. I need a long shower," said Mori. "Just go."
"You're welcome at Holmes Academy anytime," said Sherlock, "Will we see you back at the dorms?"
"I'll think about it," said Mori flatly. She whispered under her breath. "Why did I not plan for that?"
The battle finally over, I separated from Sherlock and returned to my own body. The rest of Milky Holmes ran up to the rooftop, getting Mori wrapped up in the big group hug by mistake. Sparks were still flying off their bodies, but there were genuine smiles on their faces.
"Sheryl, we totally showed those thieves," said Nero.
"It looks like you're alright," said Hercule.
"President Henriette?" said Cordelia, looking over Sherlock's shoulder, "When did you get here?"
Henriette reclined against the wall. "I've always been here. Cordelia, do you still have that key on you?"
Cordelia reached into her hat and produced the bent key. Henriette ran it between her fingers and instructed us to follow her back into the school.
We walked through the nearly empty corridors, watching the sun shine in through the windows. Cordelia's glowing flower looked even more radiant now. There were no attackers waiting for us. Henriette's presence must have told them we were alright. At the far end of the school, beneath a staircase, Henriette brushed aside a clump of dust to reveal a small keyhole.
The key was used, and the door gave way to a small room. It didn't look like it could hold more than two people. The walls of this tiny room, lit by a single lamp in the center, were lined with photographs of the students of Dupin Academy. Everyone in these pictures was smiling, having fun, even if they were unaware of what was happening at the moment. Henriette pulled open a drawer and revealed several diaries, including her own, full of more photographs and stories.
"It's kind of embarrassing," she said.
"Henriette, you used to be a detective?" said Sherlock.
"I still am," she replied, "Some of the time. I didn't want you to think I cared about my old school more than you guys. You're both pretty important."
"Looks like we can declare this case solved," I said.
"We really oughta be getting back," said Kokoro, "but the helicopter crashed. Chief's going to kill me for this."
"I've got it under control," said Henriette.
This would not be the first time most of us had ridden in a limo. For Kokoro, it would be the first time she had not rode in the trunk.
"The presentation of the Shinichi Kudo Award for Excellence in Crime Solving will now be awarded," spoke the school's principal.
It would be summer soon.
For now, Milky Holmes still had their Toys, and had been hoping that they would not vanish again. Mori sat with us in the audience, with Kamaboko on her shoulder. Despite her absence, she had gotten back on Mr. Nijuuri's good side by finding Beautiful You under her covers. She had been the one to put it there in the first place, but Nijuuri did not care about trivial details.
"Aki," said Victoria, sitting beside me, "You saw my sister, didn't you?"
"Yeah. Last we saw, she and Roll were riding off towards another city," I said.
"She'll come back," said Victoria, "and if not, I'll find her myself."
"The Kudo Award goes to... Henriette Mystere, for stopping the activities of Napoleon Six," said the principal.
"Huh?" said Milky Holmes.
"Serves you right," said Kokoro from the front row, "People who sneak out don't win awards."
"You went with them," said Tsugiko.
"The copter too," said Hirano.
"Guys, the stage," said Saku, tapping idly at her laptop.
Henriette accepted her award, though she was confused as to who had nominated her. The ceremony eventually came to a close.
"We'll be graduating someday," I said to Sherlock, "What do you guys want to do after that?"
"More detective work," said Sherlock.
"I wanna try something different. Maybe being a chef," said Nero.
"Are there any universities out there?" asked Hercule.
"I'm not going to end up on the streets again," said Cordelia.
"The important thing," said Sherlock, bringing everyone close together and holding her magnifying glass to the sky, "is that we'll always be Milky Holmes." Kamaboko leaped onto her shoulder. "Watson, join in. This photo op will go away soon."
I got in the picture, standing to the side, but my arms close to Sherlock's. She pulled me in closer. I could tell from her smile that the admiration was mutual.