This bunny is all YOUR fault, LeonaWriter! *points accusingly* Yes, I'm finally back! And don't worry, I will finally be finishing and updating my old stories as well as working (though less intently) on the newer ones. It's so great to be back!
The instant that he stepped in the office's door after school, Shinichi froze up and felt his heart sink down somewhere beneath the cheap carpet of the Mouri detective agency.
I've got to find Ran and take her with me...run as far away as possible...
He finally felt his mind trying to actually process the situation now, the meitantei managing to sputter out a few questions to himself in his mind as he studied the large guns the massive, black-suited men were holding. How did they find me? What are they going to do to us? He shivered as he realized he already probably knew the answer to that question; they were very meticulous about not leaving any witnesses behind, after all. I'm so sorry, Ran... His mind shifted into defensive mode, Shinichi reaching down for the belt that would release his hidden soccer ball. I have to knock them out and find Ran and Kogoro...if they're still alive.
"Boss, we got another one. A little kid," called one of the men in the direction of the office where Kogoro normally received his clients, the large man barely fitting onto the cushion on the couch he was occupying. "You want we should let 'em in?"
"That's probably the boy we're taking care of, Edogawa Conan, coming home from school," came Ran's somewhat muffled, but very calm-sounding voice out of Kogoro's office. "Hi Conan-kun!"
After the huge wave of relief that washed over him at hearing Ran's voice passed, Shinichi began to realize that something was off here. If these guys were the Black Organization, Ran and Kogoro would have both either been dead or close to it already, with him following closely behind the instant he'd stepped through the door. He studied the men more intently, taking in the clear earpieces they were wearing and thier matching outfits. Some kind of professional outfit? Hired bodyguards for someone, maybe? He felt his eyes narrow a bit.
"Make sure it's him, and then let him through," came a young male voice from the office that sounded far more mature than it should have to Shinichi's ear.
"Shut the door," growled one of the men at Shinichi, waving the end of his sub-machine gun towards the door to emphasize his point. "What's yer name, kid?" he continued gruffly after Shinichi closed the door.
Shinichi blinked before quickly answering "Edogawa Conan" on autopilot, realizing just how easy it had become for him to use the pseudonym. And just who the heck are you guys...? He heard Kogoro's office door open before seeing Ran come out, who immediately ran over to Shinichi and knelt down to hug him with an exited smile.
"Guess who's here, Conan-kun!"
Before Ran could continue, however, Kogoro emerged, followed by two bodyguards that scanned the area before nodding to each other and waving back into the office. A boy of no more than twelve or thirteen stepped out of the office, his intelligent deep blue eyes carefully studying Shinichi behind wispy black bangs and his loose, thick waist-length black hair billowing slightly behind him as he walked. He stopped at the office's couches and gave them the same careful scrutiny he'd just given Shinichi. "Do people actually sit on those things?" The voice was the same eerily mature one Shinichi had just heard in the office.
Kogoro looked insulted. "Hey, kid, I'll have you know that I've had those couches for years now, and-"
The boy's posture straightened visibly, his face showcasing clear irritation as he half-glared at Kogoro. "My name is Kaiba Mokuba, not 'kid.'" Mokuba's eyes were narrowed, and he said it in a firm tone that indicated he was very used to being in charge.
"Well, I'd like to take your case, but you really don't have any evidence that your brother is actually missing or in danger." Kogoro offered an apologetic shrug, and he continued in a conciliatory tone. "And really, he hasn't even been out of touch with you since he left- you said he's been calling you regularly, right? I'd bet that you have nothing to worry about."
Mokuba let out a snort. "Would I be wasting my time coming here if he wasn't in danger, Mouri? And even if he's not actually in danger, something's wrong." He shook his head firmly. "When nii-sama leaves me in charge of things, we have code words set up that we use during our calls." He crossed his arms defensively. "He hasn't been using them since he left." He sighed. "Look, I know my brother, alright? Something is wrong, I just don't know what yet."
Shinichi found his curiosity piqued. "A code he hasn't used?" Bright and childlike...bright and childlike...
Mokuba turned to face Shinichi, nodding slightly. "Yeah. We always use it when nii-sama has to leave the country on business, so that I know any directions he's giving me are really coming from him." He looked up at Kogoro again, placing his hands on his hips. "And there's only two reasons it could be happening. Either the guy talking to me on the phone isn't really nii-sama, even though he looks and sounds just like him, or nii-sama's been kidnapped and he isn't using our code because he's being given orders by someone else to give to me."
Kogoro looked up at the ceiling for a couple moments and rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Hmm. That sounds like something really could be going on." He sat down on the couch and pulled out a pencil and notepad from his breast pocket. "Has he said or done anything else anything unusual on the phone? Besides not using your code, that is."
"So you're finally taking me seriously." Mokuba let out an irritated sigh and reluctantly sat down on the love seat across from the couch, his bodyguards standing at attention on either side of him. "No, he hasn't done or said anything else weird, but believe me, him not using our code is weird enough all by itself." There was a carefully controlled, but worried undertone to the response.
"When was the last time that you saw him physically? When you went to the airport to see him off, like you were telling us about in the office earlier?" Kogoro was continuing to write down notes.
Mokuba cleared his throat. "Yeah. Nii-sama said he'd been approached about a contract to develop some 3-D games using the technology Kaiba Corp developed for our Duel Disks a while ago, but he didn't say much more than that. He took off in his private helicopter pretty early in the morning three days ago." He shifted his weight on the love seat, settling in a bit. "His helicopter got to the other airport OK, and is still sitting in storage there. But no one seems to have actually seen nii-sama since he checked in and got taken off in a big, black stretch limo after he arrived in Kyoto from Domino City."
Shinichi's eyes narrowed reflexively as he took the information in, his detective instincts kicking into high gear. Pretty strange. If he's been kidnapped, you'd think there would be some kind of ransom demand or something like that, with how much the guy must be worth. Well, assuming that Mokuba is talking about Kaiba Seto, the CEO of Kaiba Corp, like I think he is...He dearly wished that he could knock Kogoro out and let 'Sleeping Kogoro' take over the questioning of Mokuba, but Shinichi knew it would be far too obvious and awkward to attempt. I hope Mouri-ojisan at least thinks to ask him about who the older Kaiba was going to see...
Kogoro flipped to a new page of his notepad. "And I take it you don't have any idea exactly what company that he was going to meet with? I'm sure you would have checked with them already if you did."
The shake of Mokuba's head in reply was accompanied by a dejected slump of his shoulders. "Nope. Which is another weird thing about this- nii-sama usually always puts his appointments in his digital calendar, but I couldn't find anything for the meeting he went to at all. The detectives we keep around can't seem to find anything either, even working around the clock." He looked up from the floor. "Which is why I've decided to hire you." Mokuba then pulled out a thick file folder, opening it to reveal several photocopied articles about 'Sleeping Kogoro's' exploits. "They say you're one of the best detectives in Japan, 'Sleeping Kogoro', and the background checks I've had done seem to prove it." His eyes flicked to Ran, then Shinichi, then Kogoro again. "I want you to find my brother."
"Of course," Kogoro began eagerly. "There is, however, the matter of a retainer and expense money for research." He bowed his head slightly at Mokuba. "Just a formality with you, I'm sure-"
Mokuba just leveled an annoyed glare at the detective before digging into his pocket and impatiently half-tossing a rumpled piece of paper roughly the size and shape of a check across the table. Kogoro picked it up off of the table and let out a small yell of excitement as he examined it.
"What are we waiting for? Let's go check Kaiba's office and see what we can find!" Kogoro raced out the door as he tucked the check into his pocket.
Mokuba got up off of the love seat impassively. "Well, there is someone I need to talk to at the office anyhow." He turned to Ran and Shinichi and cocked an eyebrow. "Is he always like that?"
Only when a lot of money's involved, thought Shinichi with an inward laugh. Now to figure out how to go along to the office with them so I can poke around...
Just what in the hell have you gotten me into this time, Gozaburo?
Kaiba Seto's eyes slowly scanned his prison yet again, his expression stony as he took in the bulletproof, deadbolted windows and thick steel door that couldn't be opened from the inside. Even dead twice over, Kaiba Gozaburo was still managing to be a thorn in his side. His captors didn't seem to want money- one of them had just let out a low, rather amused chuckle when he'd asked if that's what they were after. Whoever this black-jacketed group was, though, they sure weren't interested in the 3-D gaming technology that they'd supposedly set up the meeting with him to look at either.
Of course, they'd made some very careless mistakes besides the kidnapping itself, the biggest one being deleting all records of the meeting from his calendar. That, Seto knew, along with him very deliberately not using thier verbal code during calls would immediately have Mokuba suspicious and trying to track him down- exactly what the CEO was planning and hoping for. At the thought of his brother, he flipped open the locket around his neck that contained Mokuba's picture and studied it. I know he'll figure out that something's wrong...the only question is how long it'll take.
"Tell me. Do you ever smile, Kaiba-san?"
Seto felt his eyes narrow reflexively as he heard the silky, familiar voice of his female captor on the other side of the door along with jangling keys. He quickly shut his card-locket and got up from the seat he'd taken on his temporary bed, steeling himself mentally for another round with the slippery woman who had only given her name as Vermouth. He had a moment of shock as an old man entered the room, slowly shuffling along with a cane and grabbing his hunched-over back with his free hand. Seto realized after a moment that this had to be another one of the woman's disguises and let out a light snort. "Nice costume." This was said in a flat, sarcastic tone.
"Why thank you, Kaiba-san. I'm quite fond of it." The discord between the elderly male face and the feminine voice coming out of it caused Seto to shake his head once. "I'm afraid I have to question you yet again before you can eat this evening," Vermouth continued, this time adopting a gravelly, well-worn old man's voice. "My superiors are getting rather impatient with you." She frowned and wagged an artifically crooked finger at Seto. "That could cause some real problems for young Mokuba-kun, you know." She felt a sudden pressure on her wrist, then realized that Seto had somehow managed to grab it in a split second. His eyes were filled with a cold, piercing hatred that actually managed to elicit a small shiver from her.
"If any of you people hurt so much as a single hair on Mokuba's head," Seto growled in a low, dangerous tone as he tightened his grip on Vermouth's wrist and glared daggers into her eyes, "you'll regret it." The hell if he was going to let them keep shooting arrows into his Achille's heel; Seto decided that it was time to nip any of those thoughts in the bud. He released her wrist, continuing to glare at the disguised woman as she rubbed her freed wrist briefly.
Vermouth recovered quickly, but realized for the first time that they might have grabbed a dragon by the tail. "Well, you won't need to worry about it if you'll simply cooperate with us, Kaiba-san."
"Then you people need to stop talking in riddles and just tell me what the hell it is you want," Seto snapped, his voice full of irritation. "I've been here for three days and I still have no idea what you're after, except for the fact that Gozaburo was involved." He crossed his arms. "And like I've told you over and over, all of that research and development- and yes, I do mean all of it- got stopped after Kaiba Corp became a gaming company. There's nothing left of that man's."
Vermouth tilted her head. "Not even in some backup files or old records somewhere?"
Seto snorted and glared at Vermouth. "All. Of. It. Is. Gone. I'm tired of repeating myself." When she gave him a disbelieving look, he elaborated, though his tone belied his impatience. "When I chose to turn Kaiba Corp into a gaming company, it was a complete and total change. Any workers that didn't agree with the change were let go, all weapons projects were halted and the records either destroyed or returned to whoever had hired Kaiba Corp for the development."
The only response from Vermouth at first was a sigh. "That may have proven to be a most unwise choice for you, Kaiba-san." She shook her head. "And I'm afraid that if your little brother goes poking around in your business much more, he may find himself in way over his head."
"What do you mean by that?"
Vermouth smirked a bit at the question. "He seems to have gone off and hired 'Sleeping Kogoro' to try and track you down. That's what I mean, Kaiba-san." She turned and began walking out of the room. "For your sake, as well as your brother's, you should hope that he's not successful."