The Detective Prince
Preparation For the Big Dance
He sat at the back of the bus, holding the phone out in front as he dialed the number once more. There was still no response, resulting in him putting the phone away. He looked out the window to a street sign, knowing his destination was fast approaching. He exited the bus upon reaching the next stop, being the only one to do so. He immediately checked the time on his watch, coming to find it was now eight after ten.
"Only a couple miles left, catching a cab the rest of the way there seems fit."
He trailed along side the road looking to do just that.
The energy that followed was a delight. After all the twists that had passed there was now a sense of accomplishment, a feeling that seemed far fetched in the previous hours. He remained seated, going through everything in his head once more to keep it all clear to his mind. Several sounds generated throughout, even coming from the cracked window across from where he sat. None of this disturbed him in the least, he welcomed it even. The door opened without warning, not surprised to be rejoined.
"You've been sitting here in silence for over twenty minutes now, why don't you go up stairs and get some rest." Bruce suggested.
"Not just yet," Conan declined. "There's one last thing I'd like to clear up."
"Your call," Bruce said. "What about Heiji, does he still plan on stopping by?"
"From my knowledge nothing has changed from the last we spoke."
"It's been almost an hour since then, he should be here relatively soon."
"So what happens two nights from now?" Conan asked slightly shifting the subject.
"When you attend the Futures building," Conan replied. "Is the plan for me to stick to the side lines once again?"
"There's no telling what they're after, let alone what they've got planned if they're successful," Bruce replied. "I'm going to need all eyes this time around, which will require your services."
"That leads into my second question, what's the task exactly," Conan questioned. "To look out for anything unusual?"
"Simply put, which directly ties in with the main objective."
"What happens if they discover our whereabouts before hand?"
"That's something to account for, which will heavily rely on our positioning," Bruce replied. "I'm familiar with the layout of the structure and have a good lock on all known exits."
"That leaves us set in that regard."
"But only a fraction of what we need," Bruce said. "We still need to find out what they're after, the sooner we know that the sooner we can build measures for counter."
"Now that we've got the location, my first guess would be they're eyeing something that is scheduled to be revealed," Conan said. "Maybe something that was created in the Scnapp Labs below."
"I'm inclined to agree, but we need to be sure," Bruce said. "Which will be difficult to figure since they're keeping a lid on what they plan to show until the night of the event."
"Regardless, I'm sure somewhere the riddle hints at the content of interest," Conan said. "I'll see if I can at least pin point that."
"I'll do the same when I return, but tight now I have somewhere to be," Bruce said. "If there's anything to report, you know how to contact me."
Bruce left the room with nothing further to be said. He rested his hands to the back of his head as he leaned to the seat. There was no need for him to look to the riddles again, each line sitting with a clear distinction in his mind. He sat there for a time to come, going through everything that had been discovered up to this point.
"There's no apparent nod to what they're after, perhaps there's more than one meaning to each phrase," Conan thought to himself. "Or one complete hidden message within the riddle as a whole."
Most questioning of all was the numbers surrounding the riddles, he hadn't quite determined their complete meaning evolving around the riddles.
"Then there's the lambda figure in the most recent riddle," Conan said with a slight turn in the chair. "The relevance in that defiantly has something to do with place or distance, maybe even a hint at what they plan to do."
All possibilities laid dormant to the back of his mind as he pushed up, heading straight for the book shelf for something he'd come across earlier in his searches. He stopped just before reaching out, feeling a sudden coolness pass through his body. It was then that a bright light flashed past the window, it was brief but just enough to catch his attention.
He put a hold to the investigation, heading out of the room with the switch of the light. The main room was dark as it had been before. He approached the front door, hearing the sound of more than one set of foot steps heading up the stairs from the other side. The door pushed open seconds later, causing him to step off to the side.
"Hopefully I didn't keep you waiting too long." Heiji said entering along with Alfred at his side.
"I had no idea you had left the premises," Conan said. "Were you the one to pick him up?"
"No, I simply opened the gate upon his arrival," Alfred replied with the close of the door. "He pulled up in a cab."
"I thought that much," Conan said. "I saw the tail lights while in the book room."
"I take it you can handles yourselves from here, if needed I'll be up stairs." Alfred said before making his way along.
"Have you leaned anything since the past hour?"
"More than we could have asked for."
"And Ran," Conan asked. "Did you get a hold of her?"
"She didn't pick up, but I'm certain she'll call back at her earliest convenience."
"Did you leave a message?"
"I'd rather I speak with her on the matter rather than leave a message."
"So tell me, what did you come across on your searches?"
"The Futures Building is the place, I'm sure of it," Conan said in response. "Bruce seems to agree."
"Alright then, what closed your decision between the two?"
"The riddle of course, but not just the riddle itself," Conan replied. "The distribution of the last riddle played a hand in our belief."
"I thought that might prove to be a deciding factor."
"With that in mind we looked to the cause of each, the audience can be just as important as the product."
"No disagreement there."
"What I came to find is the event being held at Delmore Industries is targeted at the locals, while the other has sparked an interest on a global level," Conan continued. "Why else spread the riddle across and out of town, it was a hint to where they plan to be."
"Clever, and their motive?"
"Still unclear," Conan replied. "I've gone through all the riddles an uncountable of times and can't seem to pin point what they're hoping to gain."
"Thankfully we've got time on our side."
"But it'll have to do," Heiji said. "Any analogy to what the lambda represents in relation to the location?"
"Haven't quite figured that out either," Conan replied. "Nor have we been able to deduce the role of the numbers."
"What if it's not dealing with location, but rather time and position?"
"Perhaps, but then there's also the deceptive nature of the individual in question," Conan said. "Instead of trying to understand what the numbers represent, why don't we try leveling our minds within a zone relative to theirs?"
"Putting ourselves in their shoes?"
"We have a small understanding on how the culprit thinks, that gives us a tweak of light to exploit," Conan said. "From what we've learned thus far, if you were the fugitive what would the numbers be used to symbolize?"
"That's a good question." Heiji said giving it some thought.
Neither had an answer, both diving deeper to try and gain an understanding of what they should prepare for. He looked to him with the shake of his head, seeing he to had nothing to say concerning the angle.
"Trying to match our psyche with whoever we're dealing with isn't exactly an easy task." Conan thought.
"There has to be something," Heiji said. "It doesn't fit the criteria for someone to give us a time and location but no hidden cause."
"Maybe not, but that might be the point," Conan said. "Instead of figuring out what we don't have, why don't we keep our focus to what we do."
"What are you thinking," Heiji questioned. "That this might lead to what they're hoping to obtain?"
"Not what I had in mind, but we're thin on leads as it is."
"I was thinking we should start with the location, the Futures Building," Conan began. "That's one known fact we now know."
"As well as the time."
"What if we inserted the location into the riddle itself?"
"Insert the location?"
"the Shows beginning shall proceed with all λ_0-(-30) 105 accounted in (Y)," Conan repeated. "The zero aside the underscore is what caught my attention."
"Zero is usually the starting or center point on a coordinance, what if that point in this case is the Futures Building?"
"Ok, let's say this is true," Heiji said. "What about the -30 and 105?"
"Maybe two important locations aligned with the Futures building, or even something within it."
"Clever, and there's no telling since we don't know what the distances represented here are," Heiji said. "It could be miles, yards, even inches from point zero for all we know."
"Taking into account we still don't have a confirmed position for point zero, we should also look into other potential sites."
"Any that may be of interest, perhaps Starlest," Heiji said. "That's where this whole thing began."
"Then of course there's the center of the city itself, don't know what the odds are of that being the main point of focus."
"It's up in the air right now."
"How to narrow the list down from here is the question."
"How about starting with the first part of the last riddle," Heiji suggested. "(X) the prosper of growth isn't fostered within the past or present, for the Diamonds eye is for all to see."
"That first line seems to pack a message of its own."
"I got the same feeling while reading over it on the way here." Heiji said as the sound of his phone buzzed from within his jacket.
"Who is it?"
"One moment." Heiji said pulling it out to have a look.
He held the phone out in front of him, getting a clear view of the incoming call.
"Who is it?" Conan asked once more.
"It's Ran, keep it quiet for a second," Heiji said. "You speak with her as soon as I'm finished explaining."
"What are you going to say?" Conan asked with skepticism in his tone.
"Relax, I'll keep this as straight forward as possible."
He took his word for it, taking a step away as he watched him bring the phone to his ear as he answered the call.
"Good to hear from you, I heard about your adventure to that camp."
"How'd you find out?"
"From a mutual friend of your fathers," Heiji replied. "So, how did you like it?"
"It was a wonderful experience," Ran answered with high energy. "There's a plan for another around this time next year."
"And you plan to return?"
"Possibly," Ran replied. "I saw that you had called, why didn't you leave a message?"
"I was in the middle of something at the time, still am."
"Am I to assume it has something to do with a case?"
"You hit it right on the nail." Heiji confirmed.
"Where are you anyway," Ran asked. "When you called earlier your number registered as long distance."
"That's exactly what I wanted to speak with you about," Heiji said. "I'm actually on a trip of my own, been out here for the past week or so."
"Past week, where are you?"
"We're currently here in Chicago, but plan on taking our investigation to Ohio in the next two days."
"We, what do you mean we?"
"Well you see," Heiji laughingly said. "The kid's actually been accompanying me on my travels."
"You mean Conan," Ran questioned. "I was told he was in Gotham."
"That was the case four days ago."
"So you've been with him this whole time?"
"From day one."
"And why are you dragging him along on this case you're working?" Ran asked becoming short in her tone.
"Sightseeing was the planned agenda, things just happened to take an unfortunate turn."
"Where is he now," Ran asked. "Can I speak with him?"
"Of course," Heiji said dropping a hand down to his shoulder. "He right here next to me, I'll put him on right away."
"I'd really appreciate that."
He lowered the phone down to him taking a step off to the side after doing so. He immediately brought the phone to his ear, standing there for a brief period time before finally bringing himself to speak.
"Conan, are you ok?"
It was only shallow at first, increasing with each moment that passed..
The surging streak coolness from within took over, rendering him speechless. His sense of feel became lost to which resulted in the phone releasing from his grasp. His vision followed as he toppled forward into what could have been a pit of darkness.
The sound of the drops trailing along the window side served as a lullaby, even while his mind was closed off from all else around. A flash of light passed from afar, doing just enough to alarm him. He was unsure of where he was, only feeling a sharp pain on his left arm and the smooth surface below. His eyes slowly opened, rolling to his side to see the rain pouring down from outside. He then pushed up, taking little time to look to his left arm to see something wrapped to the upper half. He was back, back to the room registered to him from the day he had arrived.
"My arm.. I wonder what happened to it." Conan said slightly moving his it to test it.
He quickly stopped in response to the expanding pain. He then brought his right hand to his head, trying to recall what had put him in his current position. Bits came back little by little. He then looked to the window again to see the sun making its descension to the other side. It seemed to have gotten lighter from what he remembered.
"I wonder how long I was out?"
He looked down to his wrist to answer that very question only to find his watch no where to be seen. Before another attempted move could be made the door opened.
"I see you've finally awoken." Alfred said closing the door upon entering.
"We're still in the process of figuring that out."
Feeling light he leaned back to the headboard of the bed as he looked to the ceiling.
"How long was I out, about an hour or so?"
"Afraid not," Alfred replied. "You were out for nearly twenty four hours."
"Twenty four hours?"
"We've been monitoring your condition ever since your unexpected fall."
"What about my arm," Conan said focusing his sights downward. "Why is it wrapped up, did I hurt it on my fall to the ground?"
"As I said before we've been monitoring your condition," Alfred stated. "After you didn't awake by noon of today we decided to extract blood from your system to have a closer look."
"And the results?"
"Master Wayne hasn't gotten around to that just yet," Alfred replied. "He and the others are down stairs discussing the plans for tomorrow nights big event."
"That's right, the Futures building." Conan said making a move to get out of bed.
"I strongly object, in no way should you be up and about at this time," Alfred said. "The last thing we'd want is for your condition to worsen."
"How long do you propose I sit it out here?"
"At least until the morning," Alfred replied. "If you show convincing progress I see no harm in you rejoining the others, but until then it would be wise for you to rest for the time being."
He was hesitant but found it in himself to stash himself back under the sheets.
"Is Heiji here as well?"
"They all are." Alfred confirmed with a nod.
"Before he leaves do you think you could send him up, there's something I'd like to ask."
"Of course, I'll gladly let him know," Alfred said. "If there's anything you may need, call and I'll be here."
With that he turned for the door, exiting as swiftly as he had entered.
They all stood gathered around the table, watching as a large sheet was placed out in front for all of them to view. Each section was just as complex as the other in form.
"This is it," Bruce said. "The floor plans for the Futures building."
The next moments were taken to familiarte themselves with each divided section, taking note of the marked areas.
"What do the red areas represent?" Heiji asked.
"Where each of us will be positioned, I also circled in all the exits in blue," Bruce pointed out. "Knowing all potential escape routes is just as important as finding out what they're after."
"So besides Grayson and Damian the rest of will be in attendance?"
"Correct," Bruce confirmed. "They will be watching the outer boundaries as we discussed."
"Why don't we go over the fine details once more just so we're all certain everyone is on the same page." Dick suggested.
"Agreed," Tim said. "We've only got one nab at this, we've gotta make it count."
"Then we'll start with the perimeter," Bruce said. "Our other sites to account for."
"Which means referring back to the riddle," Heiji said. "We've all come to agree the zero is the vocal point, being the Futures building."
"Then there's the -30 and 105, and with the lambda attached it points directly to longitude," Dick added. "With that known fact the Futures building should be viewed as the Prime Meridian, for this case."
"The only given coordinates are a -30 and 105," Tim continued. "All numbers east of the Prime Meridian are viewed as positive, on the flipped side all numbers located west of point zero are negative."
"And exactly 0.0597 of a mile to the east of the Futures building you have the Starlest that was originally targeted," Bruce said. "While 0.01704549 of a mile to the west of the Futures building is where the original Starlest facility is located, and exactly thirty miles to the north of that is the Gotham City Police Head Quarters."
"0.0597 and 0.01704549 when converted into yards amounts up to 30 and 105 yards respectively." Heiji added.
"Though each of those locations have played a prominent role in our investigation, we still don't know what their relation is to the planned heist." Dick said.
"Which is why you'll be covering the west side within a two mile radius from the Futures building," Bruce said. "I'll leave the east end for Damian to watch."
"And what is it we should be looking out for?" Damian asked.
"Anything out of the ordinary," Bruce replied. "Remember to keep your sights on Starlest, if anything comes your way be sure to radio before pursuing after anything."
"Sounds simple enough."
"Which leaves the rest of us to occupy the insides of the chosen target." Heiji said.
"You almost sound displeased." Dick commented.
"Not at all, I'd take this over sitting in wait any time of the week."
"So now that we've got everything lined up, what happens next?" Heiji asked.
"We keep digging until there is nothing else to find, starting with what is directly located in between the first Starlest hit and the Police headquarters," Bruce said. "The connection between the two as opposed to the Futures building may prove worth while."
"I'll look into it as soon as I touch base with something else I've been working on." Tim volunteered.
"Good," Bruce said turning his sights elsewhere. "The police seem adamant this thief will make their move at Kelver's, Heiji I'd like for you to have a word with Gordon."
"What do you want me to say?"
"Present to him what we've discussed," Bruce replied. "At less we'll get a small margin to attend the Futures building tomorrow night."
"I'll head there first thing tomorrow morning."
"Will that be all?" Dick asked.
"I'm going to call their center to check for scheduling, but other than that it's a wait and see approach." Bruce replied.
The door opened just as they were closing up, all looking over to see Alfred enter in.
"I've come with some pleasing news," Alfred informed. "The boy has finally awoke."
"How is he?" Heiji asked
"He seems fine, but advised for him to stay put until tomorrow," Alfred replied. "He asked to see you, you're welcome to go up any time."
"I think I'll do that."
"I'll come with you." Tim said.
The two of them left the room in that given moment with Alfred following in their trail. That left the three of them as the only to remain in the room.
"I must say, I'm surprised in your decision to have Heiji talk with Gordon on the subject rather than going to him yourself."
"Getting in contact with him these past two days has been difficult, being with the schedule I'm on," Bruce said. "He also wasn't in his office when I stopped by yesterday night, he was probably out making preparations for what he believes is to occur at Kelver Side Crafts."
"I really don't see the use in police force involvement," Damian said. "This is a light task, one which we should be able to handle with little to no problem."
"Having an extra pair of eyes isn't always a bad thing," Dick said in response to his comment. "Not to mention having areas watched we're not able to account for with our small numbers."
"Seeking the help of anyone to increase our numbers far exceeds what is required," Damian said. "My instinct tells me we're dealing with nothing but a push over, one which will fold easily once discovered."
"Never doubt the unknown boy," Bruce warned. "As soon as you do, it will run circles right past you."
"That works both ways," Damian said. "They too have no idea what they're dealing with."
Every minute that past brought a higher level of comfort, easing back down as he looked to the ceiling once again. He laid there for a small amount of time, remembering almost everything that had happened before he had fallen under. He turned his head at the sound of the door, sitting up as he watched the two of them enter.
"Look who finally decided to rejoin us," Tim said. "How do you feel?"
"A little light headed," Conan replied. "But other than that, I'll live."
"That's good to know, we were worried about you there for a second."
"How much did I miss?"
"We believe we solved almost all elements of the riddles," Heiji replied. "Only a few minor points remain to be addressed."
"Any change on where we think the thief will appear?"
"No, the Futures Building seems to be the place," Tim replied. "Though other locations have been added to the mix, we're still in the process of determining their relevance."
"And where are these other places located?"
"Why don't we save that for a little later, now's not the time to over load your mind with anything," Tim said. "We came up strictly to check on you."
"Alfred said there was something you wanted to ask," Heiji said. "I'm guessing it has something to do with the moments following your fall."
"That's exactly what I wanted to ask about," Conan confirmed. "What happened with Ran, what did you tell her?"
"Nothing," Heiji replied. "I hung up."
"That was the best decision that came to mind at the time," Heiji said. "I didn't want to come up with something on the fly, I was more concerned with your condition more than anything else."
"Please tell me you've called her back since then to clarify what happened?"
"Of course," Heiji said. "I simply told her the battery to the phone juiced out during your conversation."
"I guess you can't go wrong there, did she ask for me when you recalled?"
"I told her you were asleep," Heiji replied. "Which worked out for the best since she tried reaching you through your phone as well."
"I better call her back within the next twenty four hours before she becomes worried."
"We've got a lengthy road ahead of us," Tim said checking the time. "Is there anything you need or want before we take off?"
"A sheet of paper and a pen would be nice."
"I don't think so, no riddle solving for you tonight," Tim said. "What you need is some shut eye, we'll evaluate your status come tomorrow."
"Why do I get the feeling I'm being punished?"
"Laying it low isn't always the funnest of things," Tim said. "But it's a good idea at this point, at least until we know what you've come down with."
"Don't worry Kudo, we'll keep you filled in every step of the way." Heiji added.
"I'd rather be a part of it, not just as a spectator." Conan mumbled.
"Well, it's about that time." Tim said. "You should expect my return some time tomorrow morning."
"You plan on coming as well?" Conan asked sitting up even further.
"Don't know," Heiji replied. "I have a trip to make to the police station, how much time that will take up is uncertain."
"And I get to camp it out here, what a joy."
"It might not be for much longer, but until then try to keep a limit on your activity." Tim said turning for the door. "I'll be back no later than ten tomorrow."
The two left the room with nothing further said, shutting the door on their way out. He dropped back to the pillow, setting his sights to the ceiling once again.
The coming hours brought a brightening sky, no clouds to be seen within the seeable distance. He sat there in the quietness of the room, finding it hard to hold back a sinister grin that found its way to his face. He stood up from the chair in the coming moments, pulling an envelope from his jacket as he did.
"It is near."
What was laid away within the envelope was quickly unraveled, staring down at the invitation before him. He traced his finger along the letters, following all the way through to the final line which read out as 'Grand Opening Of The Futures Building'.
"Only one day remains, then the domino will be set in motion."
To Be Continued