Part Three: The third one.
Disclaimer: I lay no claim to Meitantei Conan or the characters. They all belong to the wonderfully talented Gosho Aoyama (*worship* *worship*), I swear to return the characters in one piece and only slightly singed.
This fic is the result of wanting to write a silly Detective Conan fic and having seen WAY too many Magical Girl series for my own good. This was inspired by one of the (many) Conan anime ending sequences where Ran is surrounded by a swirling blue light that looks ALOT like the beginnings of a transformation sequence. Ran's name means 'Orchid' and there rest of it... well, I said I wanted to write something silly, ne? ^_^
I have kept the Japanese honourifics mainly because there is nothing in English that sounds right! 'Ran-neechan' means 'Big sister Ran' and is used by children to young people older than themselves. Ai calls Conan 'Kudo-kun' when they are alone as she knows that he is Shinichi Kudo. Heiji calls Ran 'Neechan' or 'Mouri no neechan'.
Aoko Nakamori is Kaito Kuroba's (aka Kaito Kid) childhood friend. She doesn't know that Kuroba and Kid are the same person.
Words in <...> are in English.
With an impatient gesture, the Black Queen banished the image in the water and stalked back to her throne. She sat down and leaned back, staring into space with a slight frown on her face. "Two of them now..." she murmured eventually. "And if they awaken the third..." her blue eyes narrowed and she focused on the figure of the Night Baron.
He stood in the shadows, his form concealed by the black cloak, only the white grinning mask showing clearly. When the Black Queen looked at him, he moved and bowed silently to her.
She smiled coldly. "My little thief isn't cooperating very well, Baron," she held out one hand, the diamond Kid had given her gleamed on her palm. "Did he really think I could be fooled by such a fake? I will have to punish him when he returns."
The Night Baron straightened. "What of the insects biting your ankles?" he asked, his voice a deep growl.
"Hmmm..." the Black Queen pursed her red lips. "I want to swat them hard, Baron," she smiled at him. "I'm sure that is within your capabilities!"
He bowed once more. "Consider them swatted, my Queen."
She stood up and, with a sweeping gesture, opened a door in the air. "I'll leave that in you hands then," she said. "I have another job to do."
Her black dress and long blond hair shimmered and changed. The dress metamorphosed into a short, deep red mini-dress and her hair shortened into a fashionable cut. Finally she placed some black rimmed glasses on her face. With a mischievous smile, the Black Queen stepped through the door.
Ran was very preoccupied as she entered the first class of the morning. She had been thinking about the events of last night over and over again since she woke up and found herself caught up in a whirl of emotions ranging from relief to anger. She was relieved that Kazuha and Heiji were part of the equation and that they were going to be staying for a while. Just before they left, Kazuha had hugged her and said they would be seeing Ran again very soon. Ran assumed they were going to meet her after school so they could sit down and talk about what to do next.
Ran chewed on her lower lip and sat down at her desk, frowning. She was very worried about the Kaito Kid and his friend. Would Kid be able to get in contact with them? Or had the Black Queen rumbled him and hurt him?
And then there was Shinichi. Ran's frown deepened. That idiot! How could he just show up like that and then disappear into thin air... again?
Next time she saw "Detective Mask" Ran vowed she was going to get a more satisfactory answer. After all, Heiji's explanation about teleportation was just so... implausible.
However, Ran reflected ruefully, considering _she_ was now a magical girl it didn't seem _that_ impossible that Shinichi had acquired some sort of teleporting power.
"Eh?" Ran looked up and realized that the entire class was staring at her, Sonoko was tugging on her arm and her teacher was standing in front of her desk. "Uh..."
Jodie-sensei smirked and leaned forward. "Daydreaming again, Mouri-san?" she waggled a reproving finger at Ran. "Do I have to give you another piece of extra homework?" she winked. "Like when I told you to find the meaning of 'X'*?"
Ran blushed and shook her head. "Sorry, sensei, I'll pay attention."
"<Oh, good!> However, I think you should read out..."
A sharp knock on the door of the classroom interrupted Jodie and everyone's attention was taken away from Ran as the door opened. The Principal stepped inside, behind him were two teenagers in school uniforms. As Jodie hurried up to the front of the class, the newcomers moved to stand in front of the blackboard, facing the class.
Ran's jaw dropped. "Kazuha-chan? Hattori-kun?" she blurted involuntary.
"No way!" Sonoko blinked. "What are they doing here?"
Heiji and Kazuha grinned, Heiji even winked while Kazuha just waved.
"Achem!" the principal cleared his throat. "Sorry to interrupt your class, Saintemillion-san, but these are two temporary transfer students from Osaka, Hattori Heiji and Toyama Kazuha. They'll be attending here for a week."
"Oh... really?" Jodie was a little taken-aback, but recovered her composure quickly. Once the principal left, she looked at Heiji and Kazuha and smiled. "<Welcome! I hope you enjoy your time here.>"
Kazuha blinked, trying to decipher all the English words, but Heiji bowed slightly to Jodie.
"<Thank you, Ms. Jodie,>" his smile broadened. "<How nice to see you again. I hope you're doing well.>"
Jodie's eyes flashed briefly, but she just laughed. "Very good, Hattori-san! Well, let's not interrupt the class any further. Toyama-san, take the empty seat in front of Mouri-san and Hattori-kun, please take the seat on Mouri-san's right."
Whatever Heiji thought of where Jodie was placing them, he didn't say, but just nodded and followed Kazuha to take his seat beside Ran. He winked at her as he sat down. "See, neechan? Told you we'd see you soon!"
"You might have warned me!" Ran hissed under her breath.
"Sorry, Ran-chan," Kazuha murmured. "I forgot."
"<Okay boys and girls!>" Jodie rapped her knuckles on the blackboard, bringing everyone's attention back to the front. "Back to work!"
"We'll talk later," Heiji said. "We need to plan..."
"Er... yes, sensei?"
"Since you love to talk, how about dazzling us with your ability to speak in English?"
Heiji looked at Jodie, a glint in his eyes and a smirk on his face. "If you absolutely insist, sensei."
In Teitan Elementary's playground, Conan bounced the soccer ball on alternative knees, a slight frown on his small face. Things were just getting stickier; Ran wasn't going to accept his excuses for long and he could wind up hurting her more than he already was. Conan sighed and increased the speed of his rifting.
"What to do... what to do..."
The scream rang out across the playground and Conan whipped around to discover the cause, the soccer ball bouncing away from him.
Standing at top of the slide, holding a struggling boy by the collar, was a man in black. Conan's eyes widened as he recognized him. "Night Baron!" he cried in astonishment. *Dad's most famous literary creation... who is doing this? Is he another one of the Black Queen's minions?*
Conan's eyes narrowed. This wasn't the time to figure out this man was, right now he had to save the child the Baron was holding.
"Here," Ai held the soccer ball out to him. Her pale face was expressionless, her tone cool and flat.
"Thanks!" Conan adjusted his high kick powered shoes to their highest setting and took the ball from her. Drawing in a deep breath, he threw the ball into the air and leapt up, kicking it with everything he had.
With a loud whooshing sound, the ball sped through the air and struck the Baron's arm. He fell back, letting go of the boy who tumbled down the slide and scurried away, crying.
The Baron halted his fall in midair and righted himself, floating above the playground. His cold eyes met Conan's and he snarled.
"Foolish little boy! Do you think you can stop me? Your power is nothing!"
The Baron flung out his arms and darkness sprang from his fingertips, rushing out to encompass the playground. Soon a black dome covered the area, trapping the students and teachers inside. Conan watched in horror as glowing green shadows in human form emerged from the ground and advanced on the terrified children.
"NO!" he flung himself forward, but halted suddenly a burning sensation ran through him. "Shit..."
He was changing into Shinichi, into Detective Mask... in front of everyone... And worst of all, in front of the Baron! He looked around frantically, but there was nothing, no cover.
"This way!" Ai tugged his arm and, before he could protest, she dragged him towards two trees in the corner of the playground. "It's not much, but it should cover you enough."
"Yes... eh?" Conan stared at Ai. "What... wh... how...?"
"Oh please, Kudo-kun... I'm not stupid! You hiding in the toilets and then Detective Mask appearing? It couldn't just be coincidence. Besides, I _know_ that Edogawa Conan is really Kudo Shinichi, unlike _her_."
Conan couldn't argue anymore, heat was raging through him and the pain was making it impossible to speak. He stumbled behind the trees and gritted his teeth as his body grew and reformed. Finally, Kudo Shinichi aka Great Detective Mask (Eastern), emerged... just in time to see AI grabbed by one of the green shadows.
"Kudo-kun!" Ai cried before going limp as the green shadow drew a white, glowing ball from her mouth.
"Haibara!" Shinichi brought up his crossbow and shot at the shadow. With an unearthly shriek it dissolved as the arrow struck it and the glowing ball flowed back into AI
Shinichi knelt beside the blond girl and helped her up as her eyes fluttered open. "Are you okay?"
"Uh..." Ai swallowed weakly. "Yes... I think so."
"Good," Shinichi stood up. "Hide here, I'm going to stop the other shadows."
"Be careful, Kudo-kun."
"Don't worry about me!" he called as he ran off, heading for a group of shadows advancing on Genta, Ayumi and Mitsuhiko.
"So, there's been no word from you-know-who?" Kazuha whispered as she bent over her textbook.
"Nothing yet," Ran sighed. "I hope he's okay."
"Oh no..." Ran groaned as Tan's squeak filled her head. "No, no, NO!"
"AH!" Kazuha jumped in her seat. "Oh damn!"
Jodie looked over at them. "Is there a problem, girls?"
"No, sensei!" They said in unison. "Sorry, sensei!"
*Ran, you have to hurry! It's another attack!"
Ran gritted her teeth. *Tan, I'm in the middle of a class! I CAN'T just leave!*
In front of her, Kazuha was muttering. "You pick the most inconvenient times! I'm in class!"
Heiji got to his feet and cleared his throat. "Sensei?"
"I have to go to the little boys room," he said casually.
"<Oh!> Alright then," Jodie nodded. "Be quick."
"Yes, sensei," Heiji sauntered out of the classroom.
Kazuha and Ran rolled their eyes. "That was pathetic!" Kazuha cried. "Couldn't he have come up with something better?"
The two girls paused and looked at each other for a moment. Ran sighed. "Well, I can't think of anything else," she confessed.
As one Ran and Kazuha stood up. "We have to go to the little girls room."
Jodie's eyebrows shot up. "Really? Well, if you have to go, then go."
Sonoko blinked in astonishment as they walked out. "What the...?"
Jodie frowned and chewed the end of her pen thoughtfully. "Curious."
"OH NO!" from across the room, a girl jumped to her feet, staring at her mobile phone in horror.
"Takada-san?" Jodie moved from her desk and went over to the girl. "Sending e-mail in class again?" she frowned. "I told you..."
"Sensei, I'm sorry, but..." Takada waved the phone at Jodie. "My big sister... a teacher at Teitan elementary... she just told me that the school's being attacked by aliens!"
"What?" Jodie grabbed the phone from Takada and looked at the message.
Her mouth thinned into a grim line. "I see..." she said slowly, sounding unlike herself. "Takada-san, don't worry. I will check this out personally."
"Class, stay here and continue your translating," Jodie ordered. "I will be back soon," and with that she hurried out of the classroom.
Shinichi stumbled back as a shadow swiped at him. He had seen enough to realize that if one of these things grabbed him they would suck out his energy and leave him lifeless. He raised his tired arm and shot yet another arrow, wincing as the shadow it hit emitted the now familiar unearthly shriek before dissolving.
Still floating above the chaos, the Night Baron laughed coldly. In one of his hands he held a net containing several glowing balls of energy, culled from the children Shinichi hadn't been able to reach in time. With an abrupt gesture he flung out his free hand and all the teachers who had been felled, trying to help their students, rose to their feet.
Shinichi sucked in his breath. The teachers' eyes glowed green and their faces were blank as they advanced on him steadily. "Shit..." *Where the hell are you, Ran?*
"Can't you go any faster?" Heiji yelled. "This is taking WAY too long!"
"We'd be a lot faster if we didn't have this dead weight hanging off us!" Kazuha snapped, glaring down at him.
"You are a little heavy, Hattori-kun," Ran agreed.
"He's been eating too much takoyaki!" Kazuha smirked, her eyes narrowing with laughter. "He's getting fat!"
"Aho!" Heiji reddened. "It's muscle! MUSCLE!"
"I don't see that much muscle!"
"Grrr..." Heiji jerked the ribbons angrily. "You..."
"HATTORI-KUN!" Ran glared at him. "Do you _want_ us to drop you? Stop moving about!"
Heiji looked down and gulped slightly. He had almost forgotten that all there was between him and a messy death were the pink and orange ribbons he was hanging onto, the girls' arms and the wings keeping them aloft. He had to admit that he wasn't feeling very secure right now. After all... the ribbons might be magical, but how much stress did it take to break a magical ribbon? Heiji shook his head, trying to rid himself of the increasingly morbid thought that he was going to turn into a splat on the ground.
"There it is!" Ran pointed with her free hand.
"Are you sure, Ran-chan?"
"Kazuha-chan... how often do you see big black domes over playgrounds?"
"Okay, okay..." Kazuha grinned and clapped her hands together. "Right, let's go and..."
"EYAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!" Heiji screamed as he fell downwards.
"AAAHHHH!!" Ran cried out as the sudden increase in weight jerked her down.
"ACK!" Kazuha flew down and grabbed the orange ribbon she had accidently dropped. "Sorry!!"
"AHO!!!!" Heiji's brown face was the colour of milky coffee. "ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME???"
"I said I was sorry!"
"Not good enough!"
Ran jerked her ribbon impatiently. "Argue about it later, guys!" she ordered. "Right now we have to save the kids... and Conan!"
*Conan won't be there,* Heiji thought grimly, *but Shinichi will... and how is he doing all by himself?*
"How are we going to get in?" Kazuha asked when they reached the dome. "It looks pretty tough."
"Our magic might get through it," Ran answered, although she looked equally dubious.
"The amount of magic you'll need to break that will drain you of half your power!" squeaked a voice behind them. Tan flew into view, Tei beside her. "And I think you'll need to be at full power against this one."
"Tan... Tei..." Ran sighed. "Can't you offer up something a little bit more positive?"
"I can break it," said Heiji. "Move over the top and drop me."
Kazuha raised an eyebrow. "First you insist that we _don't_ drop you and then you order us to do it? Make up your mind, Heiji."
"Kazuha... shut up. I'm going to cut it open with my sword. I _know_ what I'm doing!"
"There's a first."
"Not _now_!" Ran growled. "If you're sure about this, Hattori-kun?"
He nodded. "Do it!"
Without saying another word, the two girls flew upwards and hovered over the dome. Kazuha looked down at Heiji, her eyes betraying her anxious feelings even if her mouth didn't issue them. Heiji grinned up at her and winked. "Don't worry, Kazuha," he said. "I'll be dancing on your grave before you dance on mine!"
"Oooooh! AHO!" Kazuha yelled and let go of her ribbon.
"Good luck, Hattori-kun!" Ran cried, releasing her ribbon at the same time.
"GERONIMO!!!!" Heiji screamed, raising his sword over his head and bringing it down in a wide arc.
There was a stunned pause. Ran and Kazuha looked at each other and sweatdropped.
"Why is he...?"
"I don't know... too many American Westerns?"
"He LIKES those?"
"HE DID IT!!" Tan was bouncing up and down in excitement. "Look! The dome is dissolving!"
Ran looked down. "Well, what do you know..."
"Look up there! I can see the two ladies' panties!"
There was a sudden whooshing sound and the two, now red-faced, magical girls were on the ground in seconds. Ran tugged at the hem of her skirt, trying to lengthen it, while Kazuha glared around. "Okay... which kid needs a spanking?"
"YAAAAAAAH!!" a woman rushed at them, swinging a large stick in her hands.
"Eep!" Kazuha ducked. "I'm sorry, Ma'am! I didn't MEAN it! I wouldn't spank your students, honest! Hey! Are you trying to kill me?"
"AAAAAAAAAA!" Ran side-kicked the stick out of the woman's hand. "Look at her eyes, Kazuha-chan! She's possessed or something!"
Kazuha looked at the woman's glowing green eyes. "Oh yeah... that's definitely NOT normal!"
The teacher lunged at them again, her fingers twisted into claws. However, Ran grabbed her arm and deftly threw her down, then stepped back and looked around quickly. She saw Heiji battling several green shadows while several children cowered behind him and running towards her, pursued by more people with glowing green eyes was...
"Ran! Where have you been?" Shinichi screeched to a halt in front of her.
"How did you get here?"
They both cried out at the same time. Shinichi ran a hand through his fringe and looked away from her troubled gaze. "I.... Well, it's like Heiji said I... umm... teleported here."
Ran's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "But I thought you were supposed to teleport to wherever I was when I transformed. Why did you end up here?"
"Uh..." Shinichi sweated. "Well..."
"Can we discuss this later, guys?" Kazuha interrupted. "I think there are a few things that are a _little_ bit more important right now... such as the man about to bust your head in, Kudo-kun!"
"What?" Shinichi whirled and ducked just as a burly teacher punched out at him. Ran reacted immediately and planted her foot in the man's face. "I'm so sorry!" she cried as he tumbled backwards. "Please forgive me!"
Shinichi made a face at her. "Idiot... he can't hear you!"
"But he's still a teacher and it's not his fault that he's attacking us! I'm really sorry, Miss!" she said as a blow to the neck felled a teacher lunging at her.
"No, it's the Night Baron who's doing this. Sorry, sir," Shinichi punched another teacher in the stomach. "He's up there..." he jerked his head towards the jungle gym where the Night Baron still hovered, the hideous mask turned in Ran and Kazuha's direction. "I haven't been able to reach them (I'm really, really sorry, Ma'am), but can you girls get him?"
Kazuha nodded grimly, whacking the last possessed teacher on the head with her wand. "Sure we can, right Ran-chan?"
Kazuha whirled, her face full of worry. "Heiji? Oh no..."
Heiji had destroyed most of the shadows, but now he was facing something worse... the Night Baron had possessed the children whose energy he had stolen and they were advancing on the Kansai Detective in a swarm. Heiji looked helplessly at them. He couldn't attack children, possessed or not, and the remaining shadows were amongst them. The Night Baron laughed coldly and Kazuha hissed through clenched teeth.
Ran put her hands to her mouth, eyes filling with tears. "What are we going to do?" she murmured. "The storm kiss is too harsh..."
Shinichi clenched his fists. "If only we could tie them up, keep them from moving..."
Kazuha's eyes widened. "Tie them up? Of course!" she grinned and pointed her wand at the children advancing on Heiji. "True heart for mystery eyes!** Magical Distant Mountain Ribbons!"
As she finished speaking a flood of sparkling orange ribbons flew out of the wand. They wrapped around the children several times until the kids were unable to move and were forced to sit on the ground, trapped effectively, yet gently. Heiji glanced at Kazuha and grinned briefly before flinging himself at the shadows who had escaped.
"Stupid name, but very effective!" Shinichi said and ran off to help Heiji.
Kazuha glared at his retreating back. "Aho! It's not MY fault!"
Ran spread her hands. "Ah well... forget about it, Kazuha-chan," she looked up at the Night Baron and her mouth thinned into a grim line. "We have something more important to deal with."
"Right," Kazuha nodded. "So... attack one after the other?"
"No..." Ran said slowly, her eyes warily watching the Night Baron who was trembling with rage. "I think he's too powerful for that, we have to attack..."
"DAMN YOU!" he roared suddenly flinging out his hands, a thick dark mist emerging from his fingertips. "Now I will make you watch as I kill those you care for!"
Shinichi and Heiji dissipated the last of the shadows and sprinted towards the girls as the thick mist whirled towards them.
"HEIJI! We can handle it!"
But the two boys didn't listen as the protective instincts ingrained in them took over and they shoved the girls out of the way just as the mist hit. It enveloped them, wrapping around them in the same way Kazuha's ribbons had wrapped around the possessed children. Before long Shinichi and Heiji found themselves pressed chest to chest, closer to each other than they had ever been with either of the girls.
There was a long and slightly uncomfortable silence. Then Heiji sneezed.
"Ugh! Hattori! That went all over my jacket!"
"Excuuuse me, Kudo, but at least I didn't sneeze in your face!"
"You could've turned your head, like this."
"OW! You hit my nose!"
There was another pause. Shinichi sniffed. "Hattori?"
"Are you wearing perfume?"
Ran and Kazuha watched them and sweatdropped for the second time that day. "If this was comic book," said Kazuha. "Fans would be seeing a dozen yaoi implications in this."
"But who would write a comic book about us?" Ran held out one hand. "Orchid sceptre!" she cried. "Come on Kazuha-chan, let's show the oh-so-great detectives how this is done!"
"OI!" both said detectives glared.
"Quest for love, quest for dream, quest for all truth! Magical Pink Orchid Storm Kiss!!"
"Love is thrill, shock, suspense***! Heavenly Mountain Avalanche!!"
With a great roar, a wave of pink, gold, orange and silver light shot straight forward and hit the Night Baron. He threw up a shield, but while it protected him, he was thrown far back into a wall and dropped the energy balls which immediately flowed back into the children and teachers. The children cried out in astonishment when they 'woke' and discovered they were wrapped in orange ribbons. The teachers picked themselves off the ground, many groaning in pain, and moved to help the children. Soon, all the kids were safely hidden away and silence descended.
"Yatta!" Kazuha cried. "We did IT!"
Ran hugged her. "I couldn't have done this without your help, Kazuha-chan!"
"If you two have quite finished, would you mind helping us out?" Shinichi asked testily. "I'd rather not be this close to Hattori any longer than I have to."
"And I love you too, Kudo." Heiji growled.
"Please, not in front of the girls."
Heiji's eyes widened and then he saw the glint in Shinichi's eyes and laughed. "Bastard."
"No more than you!"
"You know, Ran-chan, I quite like them like this," Kazuha grinned and leaned on Ran's shoulder. "Keeps them out of the way and all."
"Indeed," Ran smiled at the boys' outraged expressions.
"Don't celebrate too soon, ladies!" the Night Baron hissed, extracting himself from the wall he threw back his cloak and spread his hands. "You will pay most dearly for this!"
Ran raised an eyebrow. "Mou... do you want to be blasted again?" she raised her sceptre. "Because we're more than happy to oblige!"
"You won't be happy, little Pink Orchid! You will be screaming!" this time a deep purple cloud emerged from his fingers. It flowed upwards, flashes of miniature lightening darting through it, before surging towards Ran and Kazuha.
"Ha! You think a cloud is going to.... EEEEYYYYYAAAAAAAGHHHHHHHHHHH!!" Kazuha screamed. At the same time Ran wrapped her arms around her fellow magical girl, her face white. The two clung together, eyes wide and mouths open, screaming as the purple cloud billowed around them.
Heiji groaned. "And they were doing so well!"
"Ran! Get it together!" Shinichi yelled. "It's only a cloud!"
"It's not just a cloud," Tan squeaked. "That thing is showing them their worst nightmares!"
Shinichi's angry expression changed to one of concern. "Oh..."
"'Oh' indeed!" a new voice sounded beside them and the two boys looked around to see Kaito Kid standing there, shaking his head. "You shouldn't be so disrespectful about such a beautiful lady, Mr Eastern Detective Mask."
Shinichi scowled at him. "Now you show up!" he snapped. "Did you want an invitation or something?"
"Do you realize how much work I had to do? I can't even get back into the Dark Kingdom now and such hostility from you..." Kid frowned and twirled a ace of diamonds in his hands. "It almost makes me want to turn around and leave you and Western Detective Mask in this... cozy situation."
"No!" Heiji cried. "He's just worried about Mouri no neechan and it's making him snappy," he grinned at Kid. "I would _really_ appreciate it if you cut us out of here."
"Kansai people are so friendly," Kid murmured. "Okay, I'll help you out."
He took a couple of steps back and raised what looked like an ornate gun. Heiji's eyes widened, but before he could say anything, Kid pulled the trigger. Several cards flew out, slicing smoothly through the black mist and freeing the detectives.
"Thanks!" Heiji said, jumping back and stretching his arms. "No offense, Kudo, but I don't want to be that close to you again!"
"Likewise," Shinichi jerked his head at the Kid. "Thanks..." he said reluctantly and then turned to regard Ran and Kazuha who were still clinging to each other and screaming. "Time to help out the girls."
However, just as the words left Shinichi's mouth, Ran stopped screaming. She closed her eyes, shook her head and detached herself from Kazuha. Her face was still pale, but she had a determined expression and lifted her chin defiantly.
"I'm NOT going to be scared!" she yelled. "I REFUSE to let you beat me!"
Kazuha closed her mouth with a snap. She stared at Ran, gulped and then drew in a deep breath, forcing herself to look directly at the cloud. The same stubborn expression crept over her face and she held out her wand. "You freak-faced creep!" she yelled at the Baron. "We'll stop you! No matter what!"
"Take my hand, Kazuha-chan," Ran ordered. "I _know_ what to do, but we have to be in synch."
The Night Baron hissed and increased the density of the cloud. The girls flinched, but their resolve didn't waver and a ball of gold and silver light grew around their hands. The two detectives and Kid watched as the light grew stronger until it almost enveloped Ran and Kazuha.
"Quest for love and thrill, quest for dream and shock, quest for truth and suspense! Magical Combination ATTACK!"
The light burst out, pushing back the purple cloud, seeping into it and finally shattering it. The Night Baron howled in fury as the light faded. "CURSE YOU!"
Ran and Kazuha slumped to their knees, gasping for breath. The detectives and Kid ran up to them, Shinichi pulling Ran upright and allowing her to lean on him. "What was that?"
"I don't... know..." Ran gasped. "I just knew that if we combined we could defeat his magic... but..."
Kazuha leaned on Heiji's shoulder. "But it wasn't enough to defeat him and now..."
"You're both exhausted," Kid said grimly. "Not surprising... he's the strongest, except for the Queen herself."
"Kid!" Ran smiled. "I'm so glad you're alright!"
"Say that again later," he said with a little bow. "After we've finished Night boy off."
Kid's tone was mostly optimistic, but there was a tremour of doubt in his words. Heiji and Shinichi glanced at each other over the girls' heads. Would their weapons be enough?
"NIGHT BARON!" a woman's voice rang across the playground, startling them all. Kid sucked in his breath. "The Black Queen..."
The Night Baron twisted from side to side. "My Queen?"
"I am very displeased, Baron!" the Queen's voice was icy."You attacked one of the few places I wanted left untouched!"
"But... my Queen..."
"ENOUGH! Return to the Dark Kingdom... NOW!"
As she spoke, a large archway appeared behind the Baron and through it could be seen only darkness. The Baron hissed, but dared not disobey and flung himself inside.
"Shinjitsu wa itsumo hitotsu!" Shinichi yelled and fired his crossbow after the Baron.
"Shinichi, what are you... eeek!" Ran shriek as she fell to the ground, overbalanced by the ribbons being rapidly pulled from her legs.
"We want to get in there, right?" Shinichi said quickly. "Then lets make sure we get in there! Grab a piece of ribbon!"
"Shinichi, it's taking the ribbons from my arms too!"
"Just as long as he didn't include your dress as well, neechan."
"Fast work... Shinichi Kudo."
"Thanks, Kid... ah shit... now you know who I am!"
"It's pulling us in!"
"Like a vacuum cleaner."
"I'm ribbonless! Wait... that's GOOD!"
With a sudden jerk, the five teenagers and two hamsters were sucked through the archway and fell, tumbling into darkness.
The Black Queen glared down at the Night Baron who knelt before her. "A while ago I told you that there were some places you could not touch!" she snapped. "Teitan Elementary was one of them. It contains something I'm... playing with and NO ONE else can touch that!"
"Forgive me, my Queen," the Baron murmured. "However, I can tell you some interesting news..."
She tapped the arm of her throne impatiently. "And that is?"
"Kaito Kid has turned against us. And Pink Orchid and Distant Mountain can combine their powers!"
"I knew about Kid... and he has lost his key to this kingdom, but..." the Queen bit her lower lip, betraying a rare glimmer of concern. "Your second piece of news is... not good... it means they are getting closer."
"Closer to what, my Queen?"
"Closer to finding the third and then..." she drew in a deep breath. "The fourth. And I _cannot_ let that happen!"
"Shinichi? Kazuha-chan? Hattori-kun? Kid?"
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, but... HEY! Whose hand is that on my butt?"
"Shinichi? EEEK! Someone touched my... my chest!"
"I don't _think_ it was me, neechan... but..."
"Time for a little light..." a flame flared in the dark and Kid was revealed, standing against a wall, a candelabra in his hands. "Oh... dear..."
Ran blinked, took stock of her position and blushed. She was lying on Shinichi, or rather half lying on Shinichi as she was nearly smothering his face with her front. "You were the one who touch my chest!" she cried indignantly, scrambling up.
Shinichi sat up, he looked exceedingly embarrassed. "Hey! You were smothering me! I was practically dying from lack of air!" *But what a way to go...*
"Aho! You had your hand on me!" Kazuha yelled at Heiji, jumping up from her sprawled position.
"I was trying to find out what the _very_ heavy weight on my stomach was!"
Ran looked around. "Where are we?"
"The Dark Kingdom," squeaked Tei softly. "The Black Queen's lair."
"And the place where your friend is, right?" Ran looked at Kid who nodded.
"Yeah, Aoko's here..."
"We should attack the Black Queen!" Tan squeaked urgently. "Before she discovers your..."
"Muzzle it!" Ran interrupted, tapping the hamster on the nose. "I promised Kid that we would help him and that is what we are going to do!"
"Do you know where Aoko is?" Kazuha asked.
"Yes," Kid motioned them to follow him. "Be quiet... there are many of her creatures around here."
They fell into single file behind him, the girls in the middle, the two detectives bringing up the rear. Shinichi tapped Heiji on the shoulder. "I still don't trust him, Hattori," he murmured. "This could be a trap..."
"Give it a rest, Kudo, the guy's friend is trapped here," but Heiji looked a little doubtful and amended his comment slightly. "We can keep an eye on him, and there IS four of us and only one of him."
"Hmm... I'll keep track of our route as well... just in case we need to make a quick exit."
Kid led them through many corridors that twisted and turned. The journey went on for so long that Heiji was really beginning to fully believe Shinichi's suspicious, but before he could voice this they came to a large door. Kid pressed a panel in the wall and murmured something, then the door opened and they found themselves in a large cavern.
There was no light except what came from the candles and the huge blue, glowing crystal suspended in the middle of the cavern.
"That's Aoko," Kid pointed to the crystal.
"She's the crystal?" Kazuha's brow wrinkled.
"No, Kazuha-chan, look... the middle of the crystal!" Ran pointed and they all could see the figure of a teenage girl in a school uniform suspended inside.
They walked down until they were infront of it and Kid laid his free hand on the crystal. His face was a mixture of anger and sadness. "I don't know what sort of magic the Queen used... I can't free Aoko and I've tried everything I know!"
Ran frowned and tilted her head to one side, regarding the crystal intently. "There must be something," she said and laid her hand on the crystal. "We can't leave her here!"
"No way!" Kazuha agreed. She touched the crystal. "But how do you break something so solid?"
"Hey... can you hear that?" Heiji frowned. "Something's... humming."
They listened and realized Heiji was correct. There was a humming sound, it was coming from the crystal and more specifically it was coming from Ran and Kazuha's hands.
"Don't remove your hands!" Tei squeaked urgently.
"Of course!" Tan did little excited loops in the air. "_You_ are the ones who can break the spell because your power is on a par with the Black Queen's!"
The humming increased in volume until it was almost painful and the entire room was throbbing. The crystal's glow increased and everyone squeezed their eyes shut, struggling to stay upright as the room rocked.
Then, with a mighty bang, the crystal exploded. Shinichi and Heiji pulled the girls down, covering them with their bodies, while Kid flung himself to the ground and covered his head.
"Is it morning already?" said a sleepy voice in the following silence.
They looked up and saw Aoko floating in the air, rubbing her eyes and yawning.
"Aoko!" Kid cried.
"Eh? Kaito? What are you doing in my bedroom?" Aoko opened her eyes
fully and looked around. "I ought to... EEEEEEEEEE!!!" she screamed when
she realized her position. "Ah... ah... ah... ah... AAAAHHHHH!"
Aoko suddenly dropped.
"Got you!" Kid cried, leaping forward and grabbing her before she hit the ground. "Are you okay?"
"I... oh... I... KID!" Aoko thumped him on the chest and struggled out of his grasp. "What are YOU doing here and..." she looked at the others. "Who are you people?"
"I am... uh... M...Ma...ummm..." Ran coughed. "We're friends," she said firmly.
Kid grinned at Ran's evasion. "Aoko Nakamori, meet Magical Girl Pink Orchid, Magical Girl Distant Mountain, Eastern Detective Mask and Western Detective Mask."
Kid was immediately glared at by the others.
"Did you HAVE to say the names?"
"It's _Great_ Detective Mask!"
Aoko stared at Kid and shook her head. "This is a weird dream..." she said. "And I thought I had weird ones before."
Kid grinned. "Oh yeah, like the one with the ferrets and the..." he stopped and coughed. "Er... hem."
Ran smiled reassuringly at Aoko. "I know this is weird, but everything will be okay, I promise."
Aoko frowned. "It's strange, but I believe you and..." she touched her head. "Oh... I feel strange... like there are some words in my head and I have to say them..."
Kazuha and Ran froze. "No way..." whispered Kazuha. "She CAN'T be!"
"Don't say anything!" Ran cried, but it was too late.
"Quest for love! Quest for dream! Quest for all truth! Blue leaves surround me! Grant me the power to preserve love and dreams! Forest Magic!" Aoko cried and she was surrounded by sparkling blue light. When it vanished Aoko was...
"Oh God... NO!" Kid cried. "Don't tell me this makes me Detective Mask three!"
Aoko blinked and looked down. "What the...?"
She was dressed in an outfit virtually identical to Ran and Kazuha's. However her dress was blue and trimmed with bronze ribbons, and her shoes with high heeled ankle boots with little wings on them. Entwined in her hair were blue and bronze ribbons and she held a blue wand like Kazuha's.
Shinichi rubbed his temples. "Okay then... so there are three. Somehow this doesn't really shock me. What's your name then?"
Aoko blinked. "My name? It's..." she paled. "Oh no... that's so stupid!"
"Can't be any stupider than Pink Orchid and Distant Mountain," Heiji said encouragingly.
She swallowed. "My name is... Magical Girl Blue Forest!"
To be continued...
* In vol. 34 Jodie asks Ran to find out the meaning of the 'X' mark. Ran discovers that the meaning Jodie wanted was the kiss meaning ^^.
** From the opening song 'Mysterious Eyes' by Garnet Crow
*** From another opening song 'Koi wa thrill, shock, suspense' by Rina Aiuchi
"Aho" is similar to "Baka" and means "idiot/fool".
Takoyaki = cooked floury balls with octopus inside. Very popular in Osaka.
Yatta! = All right! Great!
Yaoi = boy x boy romance
Go ON to Part Four
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