Case Closed Fan Fiction ❯ Information Highway ( Chapter 76 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Chapter Seventy-Six
Information Highway
“Wow…” Shinichi said, leaning against the foot of Kaito’s bed. “What a load of bull.”
“My feelings precisely, which gives unfortunate weight to the theory,” Kaito said, with a shrug and a wince.
They had been talking for a few hours. Ran had eventually gone home, and Kazuha and Heiji had had their own discussions to hold, while Ai had fled to her lab at the earliest possible juncture, leaving Kaito and Shinichi alone to talk. Kaito had eventually switched on his father’s tape, allowing Shinichi to hear of the supposed “prophecy”.
“But Tou-san was right,” Shinichi sighed. “Whether or not we believe in it isn’t the problem- all our problems have come from the fact that they do. The end result being that they have inadvertently created what they fear.”
“In any case, once we’ve found and destroyed the Pandora, we’ll have struck them an unrecoverable blow,” Kaito said. “They’ll hardly vanish into thin air, but their primary objective will be gone. That all I want, really. I find it hard to believe that any of them have the capacity to love, but I just want to take away from them something that can’t be replaced. I want to do to them what they did to me. That’s all.”
“I know,” Shinichi sighed. “I just want my life back, already… I want my memories and I want my body and I want my life…
“Well, if what that Haibara girl was talking about is true, one is within reach,” Kaito said with a reassuring grin, “and the other… that’s up to you, isn’t it?”
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“It’s been two days,” Jodie said. “We’ve seen a number of Syndicate plants watching the street, but they haven’t approached… they’ve noticed that the FBI are protecting you. It might be safe to leave with FBI escorts…”
No good, they’ll still follow, won’t they? I don’t want to lead them to anybody… I have an idea, though. By the way, what about the Mori family? Did they see Ran’s face?
“We don’t think so,” Jodie said with a frown. “I don’t think anyone’s come to the agency…”
That means nothing… after all, their best assassin is badly injured and most of their people are dealing with the effects of the police purges. Why do you think attempts on the lives of the police officers have stopped? They’re pulling back for now, but…
“They’ll have something else up their sleeve,” Jodie sighed. “They always do.”
How are you doing, anyway?
“Still on crutches,” she snorted. “Bastard smashed my kneecap… Nakamori Ginzo’s getting out today, though… how’s your son and…?”
Shinichi’s ankle is no problem, just a scrape, it hit a vein is all so it looked worse…. Luckily, the shoulder shot was just a flesh wound, so again no problem- he already keeps trying to take the sling off since he’s having a hard time doing everything left-handed. Kaito-kun’s ribs are healing well, I think… he’s staying in bed, on the doctor’s orders, but he insists that he feels fine. On all other fronts… frankly, we have nothing left but waiting…
“Waiting for what is the question.”
I have ideas…
“Don’t you always?”
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Ninzaburo sighed happily as he sipped his drink. Finally being allowed to drink was a luxury, though he and Sumiko had made a little show about demanding that the barman taste-test the drinks himself first, as a joke.
She wanted to know if he’d heard how Conan was getting on- well, she was his teacher, after all. Ninzaburo gave her the official line, which was that he was in America with his parents. Sato had informed him of the truth, however; he and his family were hiding under FBI protection. Ninzaburo felt that perhaps there was more to the story, but for now, he didn’t ask. He felt a little bad about lying to Sumiko, but he didn’t want her to worry. She got so absorbed in detective novels and conspiracy theories, after all…
He glanced around the quiet little bar. Sato had insisted that there was a way that he could help out; he just had to take the first opportunity to go drinking at the Blue Parrot. Sato herself and Takagi couldn’t go because they were probably being tracked. Ninzaburo just had to get something from the barman, and ensure that it reached 2-21 Beika subtly. He glanced at Sumiko again as he waved the barman over to pay.
“Three thousand yen for the drinks,” the old man said amiably.
“Good price,” Sumiko said approvingly.
“I’ll pay,” Ninzaburo insisted, holding up a note- and the card that Nakamori Ginzo had slipped to him. The old man took both without a word, but Ninzaburo thought he saw a smile quirk under the thick grey moustache as he saw the odd joker.
“Arigato Gozaimasu,” he said politely, swinging a bag around the bar and dropping it by Ninzaburo’s foot in one smooth, deft motion, moving away to put the money in the till without a word.
Ninzaburo picked up the bag without a word as he and Sumiko made for the train station, leaving behind the identical-and empty- bag that he’d come in with.
“It was nice seeing you,” she said, smiling prettily. “We should do it again sometime, you know? It’s nice to socialize with someone taller than me.”
“I’m sure,” Ninzaburo laughed. “Oh, and by the way…” he proffered the bag. “There was a case a while back, and we had to impound this as evidence… but can you see that it gets returned to Haibara Ai? She’s in your class too, right?”
“She hasn’t been in the past couple of days,” Sumiko said worriedly. “Flu, Agasa-Hakase said. But if she’s not in tomorrow, I’ll give it to her friends to pass on.”
“That would be lovely, thank you,” Ninzaburo said with a friendly smile.
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Ran stared idly out of her window, tapping her pen on her homework- completed homework. She was actually watching a figure sitting on the roof opposite. She couldn’t tell if it was FBI or Syndicate. In either case, better to make it look like she wasn’t watching them.
Faint sounds of her parents arguing again drifted through, but for once she didn’t mind. The arguing had taken on a mundanity, generally ending in laughter from either party or Ran, which would become contagious to the rest. Not one argument had featured the harsh words, the cruel insults and attacks, the sheer hatred of the arguments that had shattered their marriage twelve years ago. Stupid arguments- and they always were- were just that: not preludes to house-rocking lung-rippers which only ended in tears and painful silences and, eventually, a taxi engine. The thought made Ran smile. She had her mother back, and she had Shinichi back. Did it get much better than that?
A few minutes later, she answered that question. It got better than that when a bomb wasn’t planted in the Cafe beneath your house, blowing the cafe- and your floor- to shreds.
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Eri’s next remark was cut off by a scream as an explosion sounded beneath them. Kogoro yelled, grabbing Eri close to steady her, as the floor began to collapse beneath them, throwing her over his shoulder to Ran’s doorway. Ran’s room, not being directly over the main cafe- which was surely where they’d subtly planted the bomb, the bastards- hadn’t collapsed but was tipping precariously towards the huge and rapidly collapsing hole in the living room floor. Kogoro saw Ran scramble out of her room and grab her mother, dragging her towards relatively stable ground, as he fell into the hole.
“Anata!” Eri grabbed his outstretched hand, holding them in a precarious human chain, Ran with her legs hooked across the doorway, holding Eri’s arm with both hands while Eri held Kogoro’s arm in an iron grip, his feet dangling. Gritting his teeth, Kogoro reached up and grabbed the remaining floor, trying to grab something that wouldn’t collapse. Ran panted in exertion as she leaned back, pulling the weight of both of her parents. Getting a grip, Kogoro hauled himself up, trying to take his weight off of his wife and daughter.
“Go!” he yelled, ordering the pair to climb to their feet and run as his movements caused more of the floor to collapse. He himself scrambled up on all fours, trying to outrun the collapsing floor and reach Ran’s window, which had a fire escape under it which would lead to the next roof. The windowframe hit his armpits just as the last of the floor fell away.
It was pitch black outside- the bomb had gone off at half past midnight, clearly underestimating their capacity for paranoia and insomnia. The explosion itself hadn’t been particularly powerful- something bigger could have levelled the whole building in an instant. But then, something bigger probably would have been too difficult to secrete into the cafe and hide from the sharp-eyed Asuza- part of Kogoro was still trying to figure out where the bomb could have been hidden- and in any case, this one was doing the trick. The floors had all been blown out, as had most of the ground-floor walls. The only thing stopping the building from collapsing entirely was the support of the buildings on either side, and even they could only prop it up for so long.
Kogoro dropped out of the window and onto the fire escape after Ran and Eri just as the whole building jerked, the walls collapsing towards the street. The fire escape balcony was already at an angle of forty-five degrees, the three of them running with one foot on the wire frame and one on the wall as they made for the next roof. Ran leapt first, her karate instincts reminding her to roll as she landed. Eri followed suit. Kogoro, running almost solely on the wall as it tipped, leapt for the roof just as the wall fell away, landing a little harder than the lighter women but still making it alive.
“Oh, Kami- are you both all right?” Eri panted, staring at the still-collapsing building, neighbours staring out of their windows and gathering in the street in horror. “Anata, you’re bleeding!”
Kogoro glanced at the gash on his leg, probably sustained when the floor collapsed. “It’s nothing,” he insisted. “Are you all right, Eri? Ran?”
“I-I’m fine,” Ran said shakily. “What hap-”
Something pinged off the concrete an inch away from her. Kogoro’s instincts got him to pull both Ran and Eri to their feet, running for cover as more shots hit the concrete, before stopping abruptly. Kogoro turned to the angle of fire, seeing a rifle drop from a limp dark shape leaning over a rooftop opposite.
“So it was a sniper,” Ran gasped, staring at the roof. Kogoro ran down the stairs of the building next door, ignoring questions and his burning leg, and shouldered past the rubber-neckers in the street to try to reach the rooftop of the opposite building. By the time he’d reached the roof, however, whoever had killed the sniper was gone, and only the sniper’s body was left dangling over the edge, a single bullet in its head.
Sirens were sounding in the street as Kogoro returned, police cars, a fire engine and an ambulance all braking, police officers trying to control the crowd, firemen fighting small blazes in the ruin of the building, paramedics leading Ran and Eri to the ambulance.
“Otou-san!” Ran cried. “What happened?”
“There’s a dead sniper on that roof,” Kogoro said to the nearest cop. He joined Ran and Eri in the ambulance, paramedics fussing over his leg. “I think a bomb was planted in the cafe somehow. Something powerful, but in a small quantity… damn, the box of coffee delivered today, that must have been it! They didn’t open it, Asuza-chan said they weren’t going to need it until tomorrow… won’t need it at all, now… The building was going to collapse on us, and if that failed the sniper was to finish the job. Only someone finished him first. Whoever it was is gone, though…”
“We’ll investigate, Mori-tantei,” one of the officers reassured him, one of the younger dibbles that he’d presumably come across at some homicide or another. “You’re just lucky to be alive. Looks like you have some kind of shadowy guardian angel.”
“Who, though?” Kogoro muttered, looking mainly at Ran, who was more in the loop than her parents.
“I don’t know,” she whispered, staring at her hands. “Closest I can think of is… he’s bedridden, but he’s kind of stupid like Shinichi so he might… but he never kills. He couldn’t even do it accidentally, he doesn’t carry real guns, and the sniper was shot, right?”
“One through the back of the head,” Kogoro confirmed.
“So… can’t be FBI, they wouldn’t have hidden… I can’t think who would have…” she muttered. “But the other day…”
“You mean the day… you and Shinichi-kun…?” Eri said tremulously, referring fearfully to the day when her daughter had come home and just collapsed on her bed, muttering about gunfire and Shinichi being injured and men in black. Kogoro had been on the look-out for the past two- three, technically, now- days since, in case they had seen Ran’s face and came back for her, not even drinking in his need to keep vigilant…
And then it had all very literally blown up in his face.
“Someone shot at the men in black,” Ran said. “A sniper. They found traces that he shot from inside Shinichi’s house, but he vanished without a trace… they say someone was sniping at the Syndicate on the last Kid heist, too… nobody knows who it is yet, but…”
“A rogue agent,” Kogoro muttered. “Somebody must know who they are, though, since whoever they are they know where to be…”
“Hey, what hospital are we going to?” Eri asked the driver.
“Beika General,” he said.
“At the risk of making this sound like a taxi service, can we go to the Haido Central?” she asked. “There’s a doctor we know there, he’s just moving out, you know, might need to find a new place to stay, obviously, I figure we’ll be able to get it off him cheaper…”
“No problem,” the driver said.
“What?” Ran said, staring at her mother.
“Okay, that was a line,” she muttered, “but you know who is at the Haido Central?”
Kogoro grinned. “FBI.”
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“Just when I worried that I was going to get lonely without Shiratori,” Wataru joked, rubbing his head with his good arm.
“The leg’s not as bad as it looked,” Kogoro said. “Eri and Ran are fine, we just didn’t exactly have anywhere else to go for now… well, there’s Eri’s place…
“It’s already got more bugs that Butterfly World,” Jodie said, swinging in on her crutches, left knee thickly wrapped up. “They predicted that you’d run there next, I guess… we already have a few people on this place, only a couple, base guards, most of them are quietly watching the addresses we’ve got so far, though most of them seem to be deserted and a good few have gone insurance fire. They’ll have cut loose any liabilities. The rest are watching 2-21 and 2-22 Beika. Ravens have been circling it but we’ve made the FBI presence not entirely subtle, so they know they can’t just strike… when they do go it, it’ll be all guns blazing, though.”
“Oh, Kami,” Ran gasped. “Shinichi…”
“They’re safe for now,” Jodie said. “In fact, given the fact that most of that street are away for their Christmas holidays…. only one household still home at the end of the road… well, we’ve basically fortified the street. It might actually be one of the safer places to be, if you’re one of Their targets… we’re wanting to move them out ASAP, however, probably to America. Well out of Their reach. That’s what we want to do with you…”
“I’m going when Shinichi and his family do,” Ran insisted. “Please… can’t we go there, first? With them? We’ll all head out together…
“I’d like to say something derogatory about eggs and baskets,” Jodie said dryly, “but at the moment that street is a hell of a basket, so it might be the safest locale to keep you for now. But we move out soon and let the police and FBI finish this. We need to tell that to whatever vigilante’s been sniping at the Syndicate and killed two of their snipers last night…”
“Hold on,” Kogoro said. “Two?”
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“Dibble” is a slightly derogatory way of referring to a rookie cop, one who’s young and/or inexperienced. Just thought I’d clear that up since I don’t know how widely the term is used… ^_^;
Now they know, A Midsummer Night’s Dream… now just about everyone knows… XD
I don’t believe I’ve mentioned Akai’s name yet, FHP2208… XD I know what you mean. Nobody can do it alone! There’s a bit of Kaito and Shinichi for you here…
Ai was already on evil-sense overload, MimzSilver, due to Gin’s presence, so you never know… One by one, I murder your theories XD Gaaah! Shinichi’s after me! XD
Gin and Vodka didn’t realize the FBI’s connection to Shinichi, KageNoNeko, but it won’t set them back for long…
You’re right, Marie Ravenclaw… books don’t tend to do it since every Wiccan sect has different practices… it’s generally a focus on the powers of nature and medicine, though. It’s not much of a secret at this point… XD
Well, there’re so many people on Gin’s list that he probably won’t get to me for a loooong time, TwilTye… XD Heiji does know how to be sweet, though it’s generally when he’s not trying… XD
Welcome back, Fireline! XD yeah, there’s really no such thing as a perfect moment… I’m trying to write Kaito and Saguru a little closer, as friends. I think it would be beneficial for both of them. I wasn’t sure how many of the things Heiji went through people would get… I just Wikied it to see what I got. People really shouldn’t slag the Burakumin, or anyone else for that matter. They picked up the codename when hacking his computer, it would have been in his emails or something. Somehow, I can’t see her filling any jail time at all. But then, I know what’s going to happen to her here… That chapter was more or less what the entire fic developed out of, with only small details changed… it was my favourite scene to write. ^_^ Yeah, I cried whenever I worked on it or read over it… ^_^ There are 88 chapters of the main fic, a prologue, and epilogue, and 21 chapters of the companion fic (I added one a couple of days ago to clarify a point that I realized I hadn’t addressed…). So 111 in all. It’s final now. Finally. And really, really long… Hakuba doesn’t express emotion very well, but he needs to share with SOMEONE… ATM, Kaito has fractured ribs, Shinichi has a shot shoulder, Jodie has a shattered knee, Gin has a broken arm and several wounds, Kogoro and Aoko both have sore but non- detrimental leg injuries… I think that might be the roster for now… I keep changing who all’s there in every chapter anyway XD probably nobody but me can keep track of my M8s… XD I like the FBI, they’re generally passed off as jackasses in western stuff (Think Die Hard for a prime example) but here they’re cool. Especially Jodie and Akai, though I like Andre’s driving skillz. I wonder if he went to the same driving school as Yukiko XDXD
It’s very much down to the wire now, FaithlessGirl…
I think Sato probably will tell Takagi, Pretztailfan95… after all, it’s the answer to his question XD That passage was so chaotic in and of itself, I love the effect… Well, I did check back in on them quite a while after the explanation and initial token freakouts… XD HeijiAi? Did I? O_o THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT! XD A man in black… after you brought that movie back up it won’t get out of my head XD I know… *ducks and hides* XD YES A ONESHOT! Given the cracky focus I couldn’t figure out any way to expand it… Nobody is better than Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door! XD (Although Bruce Lee is also awesome. Ninja awesome. XD) awww… kawaii! ^_^ Sensible categorization, though I’m slowly shifting everybody into the third group… XD I think Shiratori might be in the first group… Akemi was probably the first initially, then moved rapidly through the second and third in her dying moments. After all, he told her who he was. And she knew who Kudo Shinichi was through her sister…
I keep shooting Gin, Desperatembrace… I don’t think he likes me very much for it… XDXD He did have a better range than either Korn or Chianti…
To WAR, StargateNerd! XD
Yuusaku’s always on the ball, HaibaraDaiFan XD Yes, Jodie saw it just like the rest of them… of course you’re insane. But so am I and my Banterful M8s, so is that a problem? XD
Wild guess away, Lawliet Tenshi…
I just do one a day, DiGi XD At least it’ll make the police more inclined to listen to random little kids… XD Yay for 3 in the morning guesses! Laura has a tendency to prophesize, but did she make THAT prophecy?
I do not claim to own any of the characters in Meitantei Conan. They are the intellectual property of Aoyama Gosho. All characters, couples and locations, if Canon, will be faithful to the manga, so if you’re into fics with weird pairings like Shinichi and Heiji, the back button is at the top there. The fic may not make sense if you have not read up to chapter 698, which you can do at a site called (read between the lines) O/n/e/ma/n/g/a, but I advise you to buy the official Tankoban novels (up to volume 30 are out in English at the time of writing) so that Aoyama-sensei can afford to continue gracing us with his imagination. Now, I hope you enjoy the fic! (If you don’t, please see my previous comments re the back button).
Speak Of The Devil
The Basket