Thanks to my wonderful readers and reviewers, as always! :) You guys rock! I'm working on rewriting/editing some of my older stories, so I'm focusing on the newer ones (whose writing I'm much happier with sans editing) for the time being. Sorry this is a bit short, but it felt good to leave it here.
"So, uh, where are we going to right now, exactly?" Kogoro was looking out a heavily tinted window at rows of old, bare trees as the luxurious limousine they were in ground and occasionally bounced its way along a rather small and ill-maintained gravel road, its expensive engine seeming to groan in protest on occasion. "This sure isn't the way to Domino City."
"Nope, it's not" agreed Mokuba flatly as he reached into his pocket, producing a thick silver card that had the Kaiba Corp logo stamped onto it in silver overlay. "I'm stopping here to pick someone up. We'll go to nii-sama's office in Domino City once I'm done here and look around there with their help." He didn't seem inclined to say anything more than that.
Shinichi strained to look out the window as they drove, grabbing the dark brown wood-grained top of the inside of the limo's door and trying to pull himself up. He only managed to briefly catch a glimpse of a medium-sized grey steel sign with the Kaiba Corp logo emblazoned on it in black before he was pulled back down into his seat gently by his waist. Just where is Kaiba taking us to? We've been driving for over an hour now, and we left the freeway a long time ago...
"Conan, don't move around like that. You should sit nicely when you're in a car, OK?" Ran followed the gentle scolding with him a warm smile as the car suddenly stopped in front of a massive pair of gates. Mokuba then held the card he'd pulled out earlier up to the car's window, and a deadpan female electronic voice issued from a nearby high-tech looking speaker box that was on Mokuba's side of the limo.
'Welcome' -there was a momentary pause before the voice continued in a slightly different tone- 'KAIBA, MOKUBA.' The voice then returned to its initial tone. 'Please speak your pass phrase for voice verification and access.'
Mokuba looked at everyone else in the car, including his bodyguards, with a light glare before very slowly opening his window. He then unbuckled his seat belt and stood up, leaning out the window slightly and cupping his hands around his mouth before he very quietly whispered something into the steel box.
'Thank you KAIBA, MOKUBA. Voice scan and pass code authentication confirmed. Highest level security clearance granted.'
The massive pair of wrought iron gates slowly swung open as Mokuba buckled himself back in before looking at Shinichi, Ran and Kogoro in turn as the limo drove down a now smooth, paved one-way road. "This will only take a little bit, so you guys can just wait in the car while I go get them." The tone of his voice was matter of fact, but also really didn't seem to be giving them a choice.
"So, uh, what is this place exactly?" Kogoro noticed that it was no longer trees lining the roads. In fact, there were now several small white buildings scattered here and there along both sides of the road, men with black uniforms and guns standing watch at each and every building. The buildings all looked like large, white single-story warehouses with massive double doors leading into them.
"One of our storage and development facilities," explained Mokuba tersely as they came up to a large, windowless industrial building whose white walls were only broken up by a massive set of metal double doors. The limo stopped and Mokuba quickly undid his seat belt and hopped out, shutting the door behind him and walking over to a scanner similar to the one he'd used at the gate and placing his hand on it. After a few moments, the massive doors swung open and Mokuba entered the large building, all but two of his bodyguards falling in a sort of V formation around him. The two that had been left behind to watch Shinichi, Kogoro and Ran nodded to each other before settling their sunglass-covered gazes on the trio.
"I wonder who he's talking about..." muttered Ran under her breath as she looked out the window at the large building. A somewhat angry-sounding grunt from one of Mokuba's bodyguards cut her off from any further musings, at least verbalized ones.
Shinichi found himself wondering the exact same thing. She's right. I really doubt Kaiba would trust just anyone, at least from what I've seen of him so far...so who could he be talking about? I guess we'll find out when he comes back out with whoever it is. It therefore made Shinichi wonder more than a little when Mokuba got into the car by himself again after a few minutes- although now carrying a very small, somewhat thin well-locked light grey metal briefcase that was chained to his wrist.
"Hey, kid, weren't you supposed to be picking someone up? Where are they?" Kogoro gave Mokuba a puzzled look.
Mokuba held the case close to him, almost protectively, as he finished snapping his seat belt and settling in to his seat. He didn't respond to Kogoro, instead looking towards the front of the limo to give directions to the driver and snapping his fingers. "To headquarters in Domino City, and step on it." The limo began pulling away from the facility at very fast pace.
"What do you think, Vermouth? Is he telling the truth?" Gin took a long drag on his cigarette before firmly flicking it over a nearby ashtray. "He wants results, and soon."
"Of course he's telling the truth," sighed Vermouth with a little shake of her head. "He doesn't seem to know anything about the test subject Gozaburo mentioned to us, either. Kaiba-san seems to have been kept entirely in the dark about all of it." She shrugged and took a sip of water. "I suppose that really shouldn't surprise us, though, considering how young he would have been at the time we hired Gozaburo and all of the experimentation and development occurred."
"Well, he'd better come up with something and soon. Some of us are beginning to get the feeling that he's deliberately delaying giving us the information."
Vermouth mulled over the best response for a few moments, carefully keeping her face expressionless. "We've been through it again and again with him, Gin, including using the truth serums multiple times. He has absolutely no idea what exactly we're after. So we need to try and get Mokuba-kun to do the digging for us, I suppose."
"Isn't that what we've been making Kaiba do for the past few days? Why else would we let him contact his brother?" snorted Gin as he tapped his foot once or twice impatiently. "And you're the one that thought it would be a good idea to just kidnap one and not both of them in the first place."
"We had to change our plans when Kaiba-san showed up by himself. You know that as well I do." Vermouth waved her hand dismissively, suppressing a smirk as she did so. "But yes, we've been having him communicate with his brother, ordering him to have his brother look around for whatever he can find."
"Tell him he'd better get moving, then, because he's running out of time and so is his brother." Gin stood up and walked out of the room, pausing to crush his cigarette out on the floor with his heel before looking over his shoulder at Vermouth. "If there isn't some kind of change in the next forty-eight hours I've been authorized to get ugly." He then exited the room, deliberately slamming the door behind him.
He was in an even worse mood than usual, reflected Vermouth before she herself stood up and walked towards the back, fully locked and soundproofed room where Kaiba Seto was being held. She pulled the key to the room out of her purse and opened the door, giving the CEO a few moments with the door still shut to compose himself before she entered the room. "We meet again, Kaiba-san. I'm afraid I have bad news for you."
Seto gave her the cold, icy glare Vermouth had become accustomed to as he crossed his arms, keeping his voice even. "Nothing's changed. I still have no idea exactly what in the hell it is that you people want."
"But we've already told you, Kaiba-san. We're interested in some old projects of your father's. We just need access to his old research, that's all."
The CEO's eyes narrowed as he shook his head. "Then we'll just keep going around in circles and wasting our time, won't we? I already told you, all of that was destroyed when I took over Kaiba Corp, and I don't like repeating myself."
"The people I report to are getting angry, Kaiba-san. And they don't believe you, either." She sighed and wagged her finger. "You'll be dealing with someone much less polite than me if we don't start seeing results soon."
Seto merely shrugged and narrowed his eyes a little. "And that's my problem how, exactly? You people waited until that man's been dead for years to try and get whatever it is you're after." He allowed himself a smirk. "In addition to not doing your homework about the company's recent history."
Even though he was absolutely right, Vermouth wondered just how much she should reveal. "Cooperate with us, Kaiba-san. The sooner you do, the sooner we'll be out of your business."
"How am I supposed to 'cooperate' when I have no idea what you're looking for besides it being something that that man was involved in?" He let out a somewhat irritated snort.
"Have Mokuba go through old records, as we've been asking you to do. That's how." She held out an untraceable cellphone to Seto. "Then we can release you and this will all be over."
Seto looked at the phone before returning his glare to Vermouth. "And how do I know I won't wind up dead once you people have whatever it is you're after?" And that you won't kill Mokuba, though he sure as hell wasn't going to voice that aloud.
Vermouth offered Seto what seemed to be, for her, a genuine smile, though Seto still didn't like how unreadable the woman was. "We really don't like killing anyone unless it's absolutely needed, Kaiba-san. It usually brings...unwanted attention."
I guess we have to break this stalemate at some point. Seto took the phone and dialed Mokuba's number, letting out a relieved sigh when his brother answered. "I"m calling to check up on things," he stated without preamble after Mokuba finished answering, finally using one of thier many codes they had set up.