Part Four: Black Queen confronted.
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.
"I am Magical Girl Blue Forest," Aoko repeated, blinking her large eyes and staring around at the assembled group. "But... I don't understand why!" Ran put an arm around the other girl's slim shoulders. "I know exactly how you feel," she said soothingly. "And I'll _try_ to explain, but it's not safe to do that here."
"Someone _please_ tell me!" Kid begged. "Am I the third Detective Mask? If so, I might just bash my head against that rock wall now and end my misery."
"You are the third Detective Mask," Shinichi said promptly.
"SHINICHI!" Ran yelled, glaring at him. She turned to Kid. "I'm sorry Kid-san, he can be a jerk sometimes."
"Whoa! Kudo, hold it!" Heiji grabbed Shinichi's arm. "He's on our side, remember?"
Kazuha patted Kid's shoulders in a reassuring fashion. "My guess is that you're going to remain the Kaito Kid," she said. "After all, you're already all dressed up."
"We should go," Tan squeaked in Ran's ear. "I'm sure the Black Queen sensed Aoko's release and she will send someone..."
"Or _something_," Heiji muttered.
"...down to investigate soon!"
"Oh... is that... really a... a... a flying hamster?"
Kazuha sighed wearily. "Yes... sadly we have _two_."
"Right," Ran clapped her hands. "Okay people, let's move... remember, once we take down this Queen then we can hang up these silly outfits!"
Aoko looked down at herself. "Actually, I think it's kinda pretty..."
"You're not wearing pink," Ran said firmly. "Kid-San? Do you know how to get to the throne room?"
He nodded and grinned smugly. "Not only that, but there's a back way which should allow us to sneak up on her unobserved."
"That sounds good to me," said Ran. "Let's go."
Shinichi opened his mouth, but then shut it and frowned. This seemed a little too easy, but he didn't know what else they could do. With an almost grim expression on his face, he followed the others and was gratified to notice that Heiji's expression almost mirrored his.
From the dark shadows in the throne room of the Dark Kingdom, the Night Baron looked up at the Black Queen. She was seated on her throne, her eyes closed, her lips moving slightly, but wordlessly.
He had been thoroughly berated for his attack on the school. She didn't
elaborate on her reasons, but reminded him that there
was 'something important' at Teitan Elementary and it was off-limits to attack. Mid-way through her scolding she had stopped abruptly and whirled around, crying out in fury. The third magical girl had been awoken and she was none other than the girl they had kidnapped to ensure the Kaito Kid's cooperation.
The Black Queen's eyes opened. She was smiling now, her fury vanished as quickly as it had come. "They're coming."
"Do you wish that I go to stop them, my Queen?"
She tilted her head and her smile was playful. "No... let them come, if they can overcome all the little traps. I realize that I'm quite safe from them... there is NO way they will manage to free the fourth!"
"I still don't get it," Aoko complained as they made their way through the dark tunnels. "Are you _sure_ I'm not dreaming? I... OW!" She shrieked in pain and rounded on the Kaito Kid. "What did you pinch me for?"
"To show you that you're not dreaming," he said blandly. "So quit moaning."
"Ooh! I HATE you!" Aoko huffed.
Heiji tugged on Shinichi's arm. "I thought he said that they were friends." he murmured.
"Kid wasn't telling the whole truth," Shinichi scowled at Kid's back. "What a surprise!"
Tan and Tei, who had been scouting ahead, came flying back at top speed. "There's a huge chasm!" Tei squeaked. "We searched, but there seems to be no bridge and..."
"Don't tell me," Ran said with a slight sigh. "It's also very, very deep."
"Brilliant deduction!" said Shinichi a couple of minutes later as they peered over the edge of the chasm. "But I think you were being a bit restrained, Ran. Bottomless would probably be a more accurate description," he straightened and looked at Kid. "_Wonderful_ shortcut, Kaito!"
"Shut up!" Kid flushed. "There _was_ a bridge before..."
"This means that the Black Queen is expecting us then," Heiji rubbed his chin. "Hmmm... I wonder why she hasn't sent something worse."
"Don't worry, Hattori," Shinichi said pessimistically. "I'm sure you'll have enough bloodthirsty demons to keep you busy soon."
Heiji raised an eyebrow. "Well Kudo, you're on a roll tonight. How many people have you sniped at today... a hundred?"
"Not enough, I'm working up to a thousand."
"If you boys would cut the chatter, we can start trying to figure out how to cross this thing," Ran said reprovingly. "Any thoughts?"
"It's very wide..." Kazuha said slowly. "We could try to fly across... I assume Aoko-chan has wings..."
"I have what?"
"Wings, I'll explain in a minute. Anyway, we could lift the boys across, but I have to admit that I'm not looking forward to lugging Heiji the lump again."
"Watch who you're calling a lump," Heiji growled.
Aoko examined the chasm critically. "Can't we build a bridge?" she asked.
Kid snorted. "With what?" he spread his arms wide. "There's nothing here and I forgot to stuff spare wood in my hat today."
Aoko stuck out her tongue at him. "Bii-deh! I was talking about using magic, stupid!"
Ran looked at Tan and Tei. "Can we do something like that?"
Tei nodded. "Yes, but... it only needs one of you and the best person do perform the magic is actually the one who suggested it."
Aoko blinked. "Me? Really?" she smiled broadly. "Alright!" she paused. "Ummm... so, what do I do?"
There was a slight thud as the boys all facefaulted.
"Don't you _know_?" Heiji asked, picking himself off the ground.
"Be fair, Hattori-kun, she's been plunged into this more quickly than Kazuha and I," Ran smiled at Aoko.
Tei and Tan quickly whispered some instructions to Aoko and the blue-clad Magical Girl listened solemnly. Finally, the hamsters moved back and Aoko held out her hand. "Blue Forest wand!" she cried and a blue wand, exactly the same size and shape as Kazuha's appeared in her hands. Raising it, she pointed towards the chasm. "Beating of the heart beyond the countless days*! Blue Forest GROW!"
Vines made of blue light shot out of the wand and arched over the chasm, anchoring on the either side, then they solidified.
"Oooh..." Aoko beamed proudly. "Glass branches! Aren't they pretty?"
Heiji nudged Shinichi. "Well, this is your cue... make a comment."
"Ah.. ah..." Shinichi rolled his eyes. "I just... I just don't know _what_ to say!"
Kid made strangling noises and gestured several times at the bridge before drawing in a deep breath and rounding on Aoko. "Trust you to have a power that's completely impractical! Do you really think that a stupid glass bridge will support us?"
She glared at him. "Don't insult my bridge!" and with a defiant toss of her head, Aoko stalked over to the bridge and stood on it.
Kid lunged forward. "Moron! It could..." he screeched to a halt as Aoko blithely walked across the bridge, followed by Ran and Kazuha. "Break... uh..." he looked at Heiji and Shinichi.
Shinichi shrugged and walked to the bridge. "Crazy it might be," he said. "But it still works," he looked over his shoulder at Heiji. "You haven't been eating too much takoyaki, right Hattori?"
After they were all safely across, Kid took the lead again and they moved silently down down the dark tunnels. There were relatively few obstacles and what did leap out at them was quickly dispatched.
"Wasn't that slight overkill?" Aoko murmured as they walked past a demon which was singed, cut, bruised, wrapped in ribbons and bristling with arrows.
"Overkill?" Kazuha grinned. "What's that?"
"Shhh!" Kid turned to them. "We're approaching the throne room!"
"How are we going to approach this?' Heiji asked. "Do we try to sneak up on her or confront her directly?"
"Confront her," Ran said firmly. She looked at the entrance to the throne room. "She knows that we're coming, sneaking won't do any good."
They entered a huge cavern lit with torches that cast deep shadows into the recesses of the throne room. There was a small lake sunk into the middle of the stone floor, it's surface inky black with a few spots of light reflected on the smooth surface. At the end of the cavern was a huge stone throne surmounted by a star carved out of gleaming jet. Standing in front of the throne was a beautiful blonde woman.
She was robed in a black, sleeveless, high-necked black dress that clung snugly to her torso and flared out into a fuller skirt past her hips. Long black gloves covered most of her arms and her long hair tumbled freely over her shoulders, only held back by a slim silver diadem encircling her brow. She smiled slightly when she saw the group, but didn't move from her position.
"Well, well... so you finally made it, congratulations children," her eyes flicked over each one, pausing on Shinichi and Ran for a moment longer. "And you've uncovered Blue Forest as well as being joined by a turncoat."
Kid scowled. "I never would've joined you if you hadn't kidnapped Aoko!"
Aoko stared at him, blushing slightly. "Huh? Why do you care about me?"
Kid didn't answer as the Black Queen was speaking again. "It's a pity that the knights weren't restored to their full powers," her tone was amused. "I was looking forward to seeing them in full costume and using their true names."
Ran blinked. "Knights?"
The Black Queen laughed. "Oh poor angel! Have your flea-ridden guides told you so little? Your knight is beside you, Pink Orchid," she pointed at Shinichi and smirked at him. "<Hi hi, Cool guy.>"
Shinichi's eyes widened. "Knight? Me? I... wait a minute... what did you just call me?"
"Oh... oh..." Heiji looked as if he was about to have a fit. "I don't believe it! She's... she's whatsit!"
"Oh thanks, Hattori, that's _really_ helpful."
Heiji grabbed Shinichi's arm and shook him. "Aho! Kudo, it's her! The teacher! Don't you see?"
There was a short pause. Shinichi looked very hard at the Black Queen who waved at him.
"Yargh!" Shinichi jumped back. "Ran! It _is_ your weird English teacher!"
"Jodie-sensei?" Ran's brow wrinkled. "But her hair is too long and she's not wearing glasses."
"It is her!" Shinichi insisted. "She probably changes a bit, like you do, when she becomes the Black Queen."
"Ooh... close, but not quite right, Cool guy."
"So this is what you really look like?"
"Tut tut," the Black Queen shook her head. "Distant Mountain, surely you know that I'm not going to tell you something like _that_."
Ran was looking rather distressed. "But I like Jodie-sensei!" she wailed. "She's so nice and friendly... and a good teacher! I can't just zap her!"
"Pink Orchid, you really are an angel. I am... almost... moved by your sentiments," the Black Queen smiled. "However, don't worry, you don't have the power to destroy me."
Kazuha stepped up beside Ran. "How about the combined powers of three?" she asked belligerently.
"Hmmm... I won't deny that you could hurt me, but you still couldn't kill me."
"Why?" Aoko asked. "Why can't we destroy you?"
"Because I am like you," the Black Queen said cryptically, her smirk widened.
"By the Bright Pink of the Great Orchid!" Tan squeaked loudly.
"By the _what_?" Heiji burst out.
"By the Bright Pink of the Great Orchid," Shinichi repeated. "Are you deaf now, Hattori?"
"No, but it's so..."
"Yes, Hattori, I know and somehow I'm not surprised... which rather frightens me."
"It's her!" Tan squeaked, ignoring the two boys. "It's Cry..."
Before Tan could finish, a bright purple lightening bolt erupted from the Black Queen's hand and struck Tan, throwing the hamster against the wall.
"Tan!" Aoko cried. "Oh no... is it dead?"
"Unfortunately not," said Kid as he checked on Tan. "Oh well... better luck next time."
Aoko whacked Kid with her wand. "You are such an insensitive jerk!"
"Interesting reaction," said Shinichi.
"Not really, Aoko's always been a soft touch."
"Not Aoko! The Black Queen you twit!"
"Who are you calling a twit, moron?"
"Idiots!" Ran swiped at Kid and Shinichi with her sceptre. "Stop arguing."
"Kudo's right," Heiji's eyes narrowed and he looked thoughtfully at the Black Queen who was looking a little less composed. "What didn't you want Tan to say, lady?"
"That she is the fourth," Tei fluttered down, speaking quickly. "The fourth magical girl, Crystal Grape."
There was a long silence.
"Did you just say 'Crystal Grape'?"
"_Yes_ she did, Hattori! I thought you said that you _weren't_ deaf!"
Ran looked at the Black Queen. "If you're the fourth, then why are you our enemy?"
The Black Queen was rigid with anger, her blue eyes glittering coldly. "Tell me, _Pink Orchid_, do you like your name and everything that goes with this magical girl junk?"
"Then you'll understand that I LOATHE my name? The ridiculous powers... the stupid dresses... Such tasteless pieces of fluff! And as for the spells..."
Kazuha and Ran looked at each other. "You know she does have a point..."
"But that's no reason to turn evil!" Aoko cried. "Taking over the world just because you don't like your dress isn't a good reason at all!"
The Black Queen blinked. "You need a reason to take over the world? What a novel idea."
"While I understand your reason," Ran said. "I can't let you remain as the Black Queen..."
"Yeah," Kazuha chimed in. "If we have to suffer then so do you!"
For the second time in the day, the boys all face-faulted as one.
Shinichi smiled wryly as he stood up. "I suppose I can't really fault that logic."
The Black Queen laughed. "Who says you have to suffer, Distant Mountain?" she raised an eyebrow. "You could always join me... no more ribbons, no more silly power-ups... and already you each have your own flunky."
Ran and Kazuha hesitated, even Aoko paused. The Black Queen's offer was very tempting... Then Ran shook her head. "No," she said firmly.
The boys all looked relieved, none of them had appreciated being described as a flunky.
Ran turned to Tei. "So how do we turn her back into Crystal Grape?"
Before the hamster could answer the Black Queen spoke. "It's not that simple, Pink Orchid. I can't be... 'saved' in the same way as Blue Forest, No, I can only be brought back by the power of the ever-so cliched true love... expressed by a kiss naturally," her mouth curved into a smug smile. "Which essentially means that a magical girl and her knight has to kiss."
Shinichi flushed and looked at his feet. *I would, but not with an audience...*
Ran pressed her hands to her suddenly hot cheeks. *Kiss Shinichi? In front of _everyone_? No... NO!*
*A.. as if I'd want to kiss Heiji...*
*I'm not kissing Kazuha in public!*
*Aoko would probably slap me if I even tried.*
*Kiss the Kaito Kid? N... no way!*
"So I gather from that reaction that none of you are really willing to do that," the Black Queen sat down on her throne and leaned back, her expression extremely smug. "So, why don't you reacquaint yourselves with the Night Baron?"
He exploded out of the shadows before any of them could speak, a horde of demons rushing behind him, their sharp teeth and fangs gleaming. Within a few seconds the throne room turned into a battle ground as Ran and the others used their magic, their weapons and, when all else failed, fists and feet against their attacks. Smoke billowed around, adding to the confusion and Ran soon found herself separated from the others. Three demons leapt at her, but she dispatched them quickly with swift kicks and punches.
"Doing well, Ran!" Shinichi appeared beside her. "Are you okay?"
She smiled at him. "Yes, but somehow we need to get close to the Night Baron... if we defeat him I'm sure that the demons will disappear."
"I'd agree with that," Shinichi pulled her behind a rocky outcrop. "But I don't think it's going to be that easy."
Ran bit her lower lip. "Ummm."
Shinichi smiled gently at her and then laid his hands on Ran's shoulders. "Don't worry, Ran, we'll get him and soon."
Ran smiled back at him. "Of course! And then we'll figure out some other way to turn Jodie-sensei into Crystal Grape and everything will be okay! And I can stop being Pink Orchid."
Shinichi laughed. "It's elementary!"
"When everything is back to normal... are you going to disappear again?" Ran's eyes were shining with tears now.
"I..." Shinichi faltered. He had no idea whether he would continue to be Shinichi Kudo without being Detective Mask, somehow he suspected he wouldn't. "I don't know..."
Ran ducked her head, hiding her face from him. "Mou... you are so unreliable! How long to you expect me to wait?" she whispered brokenly.
"I'm sorry, Ran," Shinichi replied. "I wish I could give you a definite answer," he swallowed as a thought occured to him. *Do it!* a little voice (sounding suspiciously like Heiji) yelled in his head, *when are you going to get another chance? Don't blow it _this_ time!* Shinichi drew in a deep breath and placed one hand under Ran's chin, raising her face. "Ran, there's so much I want to say, but..." he stopped and kissed her full on the mouth, pouring all his feelings into the action.
"Mmp?" To say that Ran was surprised was a gross understatement. However, after the initial shock wore off, she relaxed and responded enthusiastically.
Meanwhile Kazuha narrowly escaped death by falling rocks, thanks to Heiji dragging her out of the way just in time. "Aho! Be more careful!" he yelled when they were safely out of the line of fire.
"Don't yell at me, Heiji Hattori!" she glared at him. "Thanks for the rescue and all, but you don't need to tell me to be careful!"
"Because I care about you! Idiot!" the words escaped Heiji's mouth before he could stop them.
Kazuha stared at him. "Heiji...?"
He smiled wryly. "Aho," he said gently and then kissed her.
On the other side of the cavern, Blue Forest was having problems of her own. Despite Tan and Tei's attempts to stay with her and give instructions, Aoko had been separated from the flying rodents. Now she faced a small horde of demons and was struggling to fight them and not burst into tears at the same time. Suddenly being a magical girl wasn't fun at all.
"Duck, Aoko!" a voice yelled and she instinctively obeyed, dropping to the ground as razor sharp cards tore through the demons and disintergrated them. Aoko looked up as the Kaito Kid strode towards her, his expression concerned.
"Are you okay?" he held out his hand.
"Umm... yes," Aoko put her hand in his and allowed him to help to her feet. "Why did you help me?"
"That's a stupid question," Kid said irritably. Then he smiled and winked. "Anyway, I _am_ your knight, so it's in the job description to save you."
Aoko sucked in her breath and attempted to tug her hand away from his grasp. "If that's all it is then I don't need a knight like you!" she snapped, blinking away some unexpected tears that rose to her eyes. "You really needn't concern yourself with me."
He gripped her hand even tighter in response. "Don't try to shove me away! I'm always going to protect you!"
She stopped struggling and looked into his eyes. Her brow wrinkled and her lips moved soundlessly, shaping the letters of his true name. "But why?" she whispered finally and he sensed there was a double meaning to her question. He couldn't answer, so he acted... trying to show what he was unable to say.
The Black Queen as she reclined on her throne and waited for the battle to finish. She felt a little regret that things had to come to this and she couldn't play with the children any longer, but she was adamant that she was not going to be forced back into Crystal Grape. Her mouth streched into a wide, smug smile. Those children were much too inhibited to kiss!
Something sparkled from one corner and she glanced over. Suddenly her smile slipped and her eyes widened. "No..." she murmured as a thin, glittering arc of blue and bronze light crept towards her. Then, out of the corner of her eye, she noticed another arc of light heading in her direction, this one orange and silver.
Eyes narrowing, the Black Queen threw up a protective shield around herself and smiled in satisfaction as the light streams hit the barrier and failed to penetrate. Clearly there was not enough feeling to affect her. "I knew... huh? Oh &^$%!" she screamed as a huge stream of pink and gold light slammed into the barrier and shattered it.
The scream brought everything to a screeching halt. The smoke began to clear, revealling the Night Baron standing admidst a pile of demon bodies. It was difficult to express chargin through a mask, but somehow the Baron managed it.
Heiji and Kazuha leapt apart to such a degree that they were almost on opposite sides of the cavern. They looked briefly at each other, both blushing furiously and wondering what on earth had come over them. Then they noticed something that made them forget everything else.
Aoko was jolted back to reality and shoved the Kid back so hard that he almost fell over. She drew in a deep breath and was about to berate him soundly when something caught her eye and she paused, her mouth open. Kid, about to protest Aoko's reaction to his kiss, frowned and turned to see what she was staring at.
Shinichi and Ran could be seen clearly in one corner. They were locked in a deep embrace, oblivious to everyone's staring eyes. Ran was even sparkling slightly.
Quickly coming over her astonishment, Kazuha sighed happily and clasped her hands together, a sappy smile on her face. Aoko soon followed suit, but the Kid and Heiji just gaped. Then Heiji shook himself and cleared his throat.
"Kudo... Neechan... I hate to break this up, but this isn't a love hotel AND we still have the Night Baron to deal with."
Shinichi and Ran broke apart very abruptly and both turned fire engine red. Ran looked down at the ground, refusing to meet anyone's eyes, her blush clashing terribly with her dress. Shinichi blinked several times and scuffed his toe along the ground. "Ah..."
Kid grinned. "So, when's the wedding?" he teased and Shinichi glared.
"Very sweet indeed," the Night baron sneered drawing everyone's attention back to him. "But this time I..."
"Night Baron! DIE!" a voice reverberated around the cavern. Something whistled though the air and struck the Night Baron before he could move. It was a long gleaming staff with a sharp point on one end and an ornate, sparkling design on the other. The sharp end drove through the Night Baron like butter, coming out the other end and slamming into the stone floor. The staff stuck in the ground, pinning the Night Baron like a butterfly. He croaked, blood bubbling from his lips, and then went limp, sliding down to the ground with a meaty thud. "Oh!" Aoko shuddered and turned her face away. "How gross..."
Even Kazuha and Ran, who were more used to dead bodies, grimaced. Shinichi raised an eyebrow. "Quite... ummm... effective."
The click of high heels on stone sounded behind them and they all turned as one to face the newcomer.
Ran's jaw dropped. "Uhh?"
"Whoa..." Kazuha blinked.
"No way!" breathed Aoko.
"Un..." Shinichi's verbosity escaped him again.
"Ugh," Kid shook his head.
"So," Heiji said conversationally. "Did no one in the old days have _any_ taste?"
Crystal Grape stood before them in all her glittering splendor, her expression stony. She wore an outfit that was similar in style to the others, but instead of a frills, her purple skirt was made of a stiff material much like a ballerina's tutu and decorated with small crystal beads. The pale lavender bodice was low cut and more crystals glittered along the neckline ending in the middle with several put together in the shape of a bunch of grapes. Her long blond hair was swept up with some curls allowed to tumble down to her shoulders. Crystals, some individual and others in grape bunches, glittered in her hair. The entire ensemble was completed by the crystal choker around her throat, long lavender gloves and thigh-high boots with two-inch heels. She scowled fiercely at Heiji's comment.
"Watch your tongue, Orange Knight. What happened to him," she nodded in the direction of the skewered Night Baron. "Might just happen to you!"
Heiji sweatdropped. "Heh... just kidding..." he paused. "Orange Knight? Is that my... er... other name then?"
"Well, it makes sense," Kid said, his voice was slightly strained, almost as if he was trying not to laugh hysterically. "Since Kazuha-san's dress is orange, so I'm the Blue Knight then and Kudo is... is..." Kid lost it and began to howl with laughter, barely managing to squeeze the words out. "Is the... the PINK Knight!"
Shinichi grimaced as the two other boys dissolved into laughter and the girls all giggled. "I think I'll stick with Detective Mask, thanks."
Crystal Grape smirked at his discomfort. "Never mind, Cool guy... be thankful you're not in armor," she stalked over to the Night Baron and yanked the staff out of his body. "Hmm... not too much blood, good."
"Ugh," Aoko shuddered. "How could you _do_ that?"
Crystal Grape raised an eyebrow at her. "Well, I really felt the need to vent some frustration then and he was the most obvious target. Besides, the Night Baron was only an anthropomorphic manifestation... he would have dissipated anyway once I changed into this."
Shinichi looked around the cavern. "Does the same hold true for this kingdom?" he asked a little anxiously.
There was a loud rumble and the ground shook violently beneath their feet.
"I think that answers your question, Shinichi," Ran said as she picked herself off the floor. "Ummm... Jodie... ER sensei..."
Crystal Grape smiled enigmatically, "Call me Chris**."
"Chris-san, can you show us the way out?"
"And appear in public like this? No."
"WHAT?" Kazuha cried. "But we can't stay HERE!"
Chris opened her mouth, but before she could say anything an explosion ripped through the wall and they were all thrown down again, by the force of the blast. Rocks rained down around them and it was only by the timely protective shield flung up by Kazuha and Ran that saved them from being crushed.
"Look," Heiji said fiercely to Chris. "I don't care HOW embarrassing you think your get-up is, but I'm not going to let myself or my friends die for the sake of your image!"
Chris looked remarkably unruffled by the chaos or Heiji's anger. She shrugged. "Well... I can understand your sentiment," she tapped her fingers on her staff thoughtfully. "Alright... if one of you can guess my spell chant then I'll get us out of here."
"WE'RE ABOUT TO DIE AND YOU WANT US TO PLAY GUESSING GAMES??" Heiji screamed, veins popping on his forehead. "ARE YOU INSANE???"
"Calm down, Hattori," Shinichi tugged at the Osaka detective's arm. "Screaming at her isn't going to help," he looked at Chris with narrowed eyes. "The only thing we can do is play her game," he looked at Ran and Kazuha. "Can you girls hang on a little longer?"
"Yes... I think so," said Ran. "Aoko, can you lend us your strength?"
"Can I?" Aoko looked at Tan and Tei for confirmation. When the two rodents nodded, she got to her feet and helped to strengthen the shield.
Ran grinned at Shinichi. "We'll be fine, just do your stuff Mr. Detective Mask!"
He grinned back at her. "That's my girl..." he noticed the others looking at him with raised eyebrows. "ER best friend! Just friend!"
"Sure... Kudo, whatever you say," Kid smirked, then turned his attention to the job at hand. "Well, judging by the spell chants that the other girls have then I'm guessing that Crystal Grape's is something equally silly."
"Naturally," Shinichi rubbed his chin. "But the evidence suggests that hers is even sillier..."
"'Always give my love to you***, Crystal Grape magic'?" Heiji suggested through gritted teeth.
Shinichi looked at Chris, but she shook her head and smiled in amusement.
"'Fake your eyes**** Grape Magic'?" Kid offered.
Again she shook her head, her smile broadening.
Shinichi drew in a deep breath. "'Step by step, case by case. Love is burning, love is passion!***** Sparkling Crystal Grape... magic'?" he ended doubtfully.
Her smile dropped abruptly. "I should have known that you'd get it."
Shinichi's jaw dropped. "Huh? But that was a guess!"
"Good guess," Chris sighed. "Oh well... I said I would, so I will. Drop the shield... now!"
She raised her staff and began to chant. "Step by step, case by case. Love is burning! Love is passion! Sparkling Crystal Grape WAVE!"
Wind appeared from nowhere and whipped their clothes against their bodies as a swirl of sparkling light surged around them. Chris thrust the staff violently upwards and the light split in several directions, striking the falling rocks and changing them into crystals which immediately shattered into thousands of tiny pieces.
"Hmmm..." said Chris in the silence that followed. "Oops."
Shinichi gingerly brushed tiny shards from his jacket. "I'm not sure if this solution is any better..."
"OOPS?" Heiji seemed about to burst a vein again. "We're surround by a trillion tiny, sharp pieces of crystal and all you can casually say is OOPS?"
Chris shrugged. "I'm just a little out of practice."
"Whatever," Kazuha picked some pieces of crystal out of her hair. "Is the way out going to be this explosive?"
"Well actually," Chris twirled her staff between her hands. "I was aiming to get us out just then."
Kid sighed. "I knew it wouldn't be that easy. So you don't have enough power then?"
"So we're STUCK here?" Aoko looked mildly panicked.
"Not if I can help it," Ran looked grim. "Tan, Tei... in every magical girl book I've read there has always been some ultimate power-up thingie which everyone has to do together. Since, so far, we've followed a fairly stereotypical pattern I assume we can do something similar?"
"Oh yes!" Tan squeaked. "It just requires you all to link hands and say a spell."
Ran's eyes narrowed. "What _kind_ of spell? It's not going to be some awful dribble is it?"
"Silly question, Ran," Chris fixed the hamsters with a steely glare. "You _know_ it's going to be stupid."
Kazuha drooped. "I don't know how much more of this I can take... maybe being crushed to death wouldn't be so bad."
Aoko patted her shoulder. "Surely it can't be any worse than anything else we've had to do so far."
Tan fluttered excitedly. "Once you've said the words then you'll be transformed into your princess forms and will be able to use your ultimate power."
"I'm sorry..." Kid held up on hand. "Did you just say 'princess'?" he snorted. "Ha! If there's anyone less like a princess it's Aoko."
"Does this princess form come with manners and grace? Kazuha needs some of those!" Heiji chuckled and dodged Kazuha's furious lunge.
Shinichi smiled, but he didn't laugh. He did have a better sense of self-preservation and he couldn't help remembering the time that Ran had been a princess in a school play and he had been her knight. Maybe fate had been trying to tell him something then...
As Aoko and Kazuha threatened their knights with death, Ran turned to Chris. "I guess we don't have any other options, do we?"
The blonde woman shook her head. "No, we don't. And despite what I said earlier, dying is not really in my game plan at the moment."
Ran's mouth thinned into a determined line. "Fine. Let's do it. I want to get out, finish this Pink Orchid thing for good and handcuff Shinichi to me before he can slip away again."
Chris arched an eyebrow. "What interesting ideas you have, Ran. I always knew that you were a girl after my own heart."
Ran choked. "Sensei!"
The other two girls were gathered up and, once the boys were told not to laugh on pain of death, the four magical girls joined hands. Immediately they knew the spell they had to say and all displayed expressions of deep disgust.
"This IS worse than anything else!" Aoko wailed.
Shinichi and Heiji exchanged looks. "If _she's_ saying that then it MUST be bad," Shinichi said.
Kid grinned. "This is going to be amusing."
"You really do have a death wish, don't you?"
"Don't stop him Heiji, let him hang himself."
Ran fixed all the others with a glare. "No complaining!" she said sharply. "This is the only way we can get out of here."
Chris' mouth quirked into a half-smile. "Quite true... O wise Leader."
As one they began to chant. "Quest for truth! Thrill, shock, suspense! Beyond the countless days! Love is passion! Pink Orchid! Distant Mountain! Blue Forest! Crystal Grape! Swirling, sparkling, colourful heart-shock wave!"
As the boys watched, the girls began to glow. The light sheathed them and pastel sparklies erupted from the light, swirling around the cavern and surrounding the group. Some bright, bouncy music could even be heard, although there was no indication of the source. Flower petals of every description and colour flooded the area, almost choking the boys who wrapped their cloaks around their mouths and noses in an effort to avoid the cloying scent. The light around the girls died and they were now dressed in long, flowing dresses with little tiaras on their heads. Surprisingly the princess gowns weren't _that_ bad. However there was no time for the boys to comment on this, they were lifted off their feet as the girls floated upwards.
"Gyah!" Heiji found himself upside down and flailed his arms around frantically, trying to get right side up.
"MMf!" Shinichi was nearly smothered by his cloak.
Kid grinned, he alone had managed to remain upright and unencumbered.
The light solidified around them and they pushed on upward, speed increasing as they hurtled towards the cavern roof.
Shinichi blinked. "I really hope this works... otherwise it's going to be painful..."
They burst out of the cavern with a loud thundering boom and collapsed on the ground in an untidy heap as the light disappeared along with the hole they had created. All except for Chris who managed to land on her feet and stood, chuckling lightly at them "Well... that wasn't so bad was it?"
Ran gasped and rolled over onto her back. "You could've warned us!" she snapped at Tan and Tei who hovered over her. Lying there she became aware that she was staring at a blue sky and the scent of fresh grass reached her nose. Cautiously, a little concerned about her stomach's reaction if she moved too fast, Ran propped herself up on her elbows and looked around. Her worst fears were realized.
They had burst out into the middle of one of Tokyo's busiest parks right after school. The place was packed with school children of all ages and adults, all were staring at the new arrivals with open-mouths... and some amusement. Ran winced when she saw Conan's young friends there, Ai was looking very wild-eyed and was staring at Chris with a slightly fearful expression. Ran frowned, she was only thankful that Conan wasn't with them. That kid would probably have spotted her for who she was immediately, he was so smart, just like... Ran sat up abruptly. Come to think of it, whenever she had been Pink Orchid she had never seen Conan...
"Whoa... what a wild ride..." Shinichi sat up beside her and grinned. "Reminds me of my mother's driving... Ran? What's wrong?"
She stared at him. No way... after all, it had been proven time and time again that Shinichi and Conan were NOT the same person! Ran shook herself and got to her feet. "I'm fine, Shinichi, I was just a little shaken up."
"Weren't we all!" Heiji massaged his neck. "Ow..."
"So now what?" Kazuha asked deciding that the best way to deal with the people staring at them was to ignore them. "We've defeated, so to speak, the Black Queen and stopped the 'evil menace'. Do we go home or is there something else?"
"There must be!" Aoko clasped her hands together. "Another evil that we have to fight together for the sake of the world!"
There was a long silence. Chris nudged Kid. "What is she _on_?" she asked.
"I don't know, but I don't want it," he replied.
Chris glanced around at all the spectators. "I think it's time that we move from here..." she raised her staff. "Sparkling grape wave!"
"Not again!" Heiji complained uselessly as everyone was surrounded by crystals and, with a violent yank, they were all teleported to a quiet grove.
After a few moments silence as everyone regained their breath, Ran tapped Tan on the head. "So, can you answer Kazuha-chan's question? Is there more that we have to do?"
"Of course there is," Shinichi said acidly. "I imagine that there is this great evil in the world which requires lots of pink petals and pastel sparklies to defeat it. Oh, and the knights will get possessed and turn against you, so that you have to save them, but not after going through a whole load of angst."
"Well..." Tan squeaked eagerly. "There is this dark power on the moon which threatens..."
Chris's hand wrapped around the hamster's head, muzzling it. "No," she said flatly. "Absolutely not. I've done my piece," she looked down at her lavender princess gown in disgust. "And I refuse to be a part of this idiocy any longer!"
Letting go of Tan, she waved her hand and a cellphone appeared in it. "I'm going home and..." the phone rang, cutting her off. "Hmm? Hello?"
"VERMOUTH!!!" a coldly furious voice bellowed down the phone. "This is YOUR fault! How the HELL did you manage to put me in this ridiculous get-up?"
"Gin?" Chris blinked.
Shinichi and Heiji's heads whipped around. "What did she say?"
"ANIKI???" another voice cried over the phone in shock. "Why are you wearing a purple tux?"
Chris laughed suddenly. "Well, well..." she said lightly. "Maybe this won't be so bad after all."
to be concluded..
*adapted from Step by Step - Ziggy
**Vermouth's real (??) name is Chris Vinyard.
*** 'Always' by Mai Kuraki
**** 'Destiny' by Mai....
***** 'Step by Step' - Ziggy and 'Meikyuu no ravaazu' - Heath
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