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Honour Among Thieves

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Metropolitan Museum, 00:13 AM

 

There was an almost serene stillness to the museum at night. Soft light from the stars outside highlighted the shapes and silhouettes of the exhibit, as well as the masked figure slowly descending from the ceiling.

 

The soft whirring of his belt buckle grappling hook broke the silence that Kairi had been finding slightly eerie, although he was far more interested in the glass display he was hovering over.

 

Carefully reaching out with a gloved hand, he carefully lifted the glass covering straight off using a suction grip, before taking a moment to look over his prize.

 

Hah, that was easy, He thought to himself as he reached for the piece of the Lupin Collection. His fingers brushed up against it when an explosion rocked through the room.

 

- 15 HOURS EARLIER -

 

Bistrot Jurer, 09:34 AM

 

“Would it kill you to finish setting up the tables?” Touma called from the kitchen. He’d been preparing today’s lunch special - an excellent chicken chasseur if he did say so himself - while Kairi was supposed to get the restaurant ready for opening. As expected, he’d given up halfway to play some games on his phone.

 

“You know, it just might!” he said, flashing a cheeky grin that he knew would wind up his friend further. Touma’s scowl deepened. “I’m kidding, you’re right, I’ll do the last few now.”

 

Kairi jumped up and grabbed the last place settings as Umika pushed open the cafe door. “See!” Kairi called over to a busy Touma, winking at Umika as he placed down a teaspoon. “I wasn’t the only one slacking!”

 

“I believe she was out securing ingredients for more of Master Touma’s delightful poulet a lá chasseur .” A startled Kairi turned to see the mystery voice belonged to Kogure, their… benefactor, stirring his tea with the spoon he’d just set down. “Ah, merci .” Kogure graciously nodded, noticing Kairi’s gaze on the spoon.

 

“While I appreciate the compliment, I assume you’re not just here to sample the lunch menu.” Touma had emerged from the kitchen and parked himself on the bar. “Especially if you waited for me to come back!” Umika added as she sat with Kogure. “Who’s the target this time?”

 

Kogure sipped his tea as he opened a folder. “Not who but what . A lost piece of the Collection has resurfaced: ‘ La vie de pirates pour moi’ . Its presence became known to us once it was donated by the SGS Foundation to the Metropolitan Museum for their ‘Riches of the Caribbean’ exhibit.”

 

“Is that a ruby compass?” Touma studied a photo from the files. “Hmm no, I’d say that’s... red diamond?” Umika mentioned as she turned back to Kogure.

 

“You are indeed correct, Miss Umika,” Kogure sifted through more photos and documents, handing them out to his team. “Although the diamond is mostly a case around the true piece of the collection.”

 

“So do you want us to intercept it on the way to the museum?” Kairi asked as he looked over the flight manifest Kogure had just handed him.

 

“Unfortunately, it is already at the museum.” Kogure admitted. “You’ll have to take it from there. Due to the overall value of the exhibition, security has been tightened, however I’m sure it’s nothing you can’t handle.”

 

Kogure took one last sip of his tea before closing the folder and rising from his seat. “I’ll leave the details on acquiring the Collection piece up to you. I’ll return once you have it. Adieu .”

 

The thieves bid him farewell and began organising the files they’d been handed as Kogure headed towards the door. “Ah, one more thing.” Kogure turned as the team shifted their gaze to him. “May I ask for some of Master Touma’s poulet a lá chassuer ? To go, if you will.”

 

Touma grinned.

 

GSPO Japan Branch Headquarters, 11:06 AM

 

The GSPO Japan Branch Tactical Unit, codename Patranger, sat in the main conference room exchanging nervous glances. Their CO, Commander Hilltop, had mysteriously arranged a sudden briefing for 1100 hours… and he was running late.

 

Keiichiro broke the tense silence with a whisper. “It’s unlike the commander to call such a sudden meeting… isn’t it?”

 

Tsukasa nodded. “I’ve not known him to be late, either.”

 

“Do you… think we’re fired?” ventured Sakuya. Keiichiro and Tsukasa rolled their eyes.

 

The approaching whirring of servos signaled the arrival of their robot assistant Jim, quickly followed by the Commander himself.

 

“Apologies for the short notice regarding this briefing but we were contacted this morning by the Metropolitan Museum over an urgent matter.” Hilltop sat down as Jim handed out some notes and fliers to the team.

 

“It seems the museum has received a tip-off that someone plans to steal the prize piece of their new exhibit which they just received earlier today: El compás rojo , or the red compass.” Hilltop brought up details on the museum and artifact on the display screen behind him.

 

“I actually know about this.” Sakuya’s demeanour suddenly became more serious as he looked over the flier he’d been handed. “The Riches of the Caribbean exhibit, right? The compass itself is made of red diamond and was once owned by a legendary pirate. It’s now the symbol of some powerful organisation.”

 

Keiichiro raised an eyebrow. He was impressed. “More importantly, it’s basically priceless.” Hilltop added. “The museum has requested extra security from the local police, who also contacted us. They’re worried that the thieves could be the Lupinrangers.”

 

A puzzled look spread over Tsukasa’s face. “Commander, it’s not usually their MO to steal random precious items, especially when there’s seemingly no connection to the Ganglers or Lupin Collection. They don’t send out warnings ahead of time either.”

 

Hilltop nodded. “That was my assessment, too. The top brass also agree with you Detective Myoujin, however they decided it would be good to help out the local forces, keep up our good relationship with them.”

 

“Well we’re happy to help, right?” Keiichiro looked around at his colleagues as they nodded in agreement. “Besides, looking at these plans, the compass should be extraordinarily difficult to take. Pressure plates in the room, bars on the windows, tamper-proof glass display, laser tripwires on all the doors. Heck, the only safe way in is to lower yourself from the ceiling, and no one would be stupid enough to try that.”

 

Bistrot Jurer, 02:49 PM

 

“So I guess I’d have to lower myself from the ceiling.” Kairi said as he looked over the museum plans after the lunch rush. Kogure was right - security was pretty tight. Child’s play though for the Phantom Thieves.

 

Touma made a pained expression. “You just want to Mission Impossible this job, don’t you?”

 

A grin crept across Kairi’s face.

 

Umika sat down at the table. “I’ve just spoken with Noel in France, he says that the local police are providing extra security for the museum, as expected.”

 

“Which means the plan stays pretty simple then.” Touma picked up his notes. “The main control room is just behind reception, which is where the guards and police will be posted. Umika will distract them while I sneak into the control room, take out the guard there, and temporarily deactivate the display cases tamper sensors. Meanwhile, Tom Cruise here-”

 

“- meanwhile , I sneak in with the rest of the janitorial staff after the museum closes at 11 PM.” Kairi interrupted. “I hide in the toilet and change out of the extremely fashionable overalls before making my daring journey through the vents to the exhibit hall.”

 

“Don’t forget your suction hand for the display case.” Touma added.

 

“Of course,” Kairi proudly presented his ‘modified’ plunger. “I’ve already camouflaged it.”

 

“How are you going to lower yourself down from the vent? You’ll need two hands, so you can’t use the belt grapple.” Umika asked.

 

“Ah, I’ll just tie it around my waist.” Kairi waved off the question. “I’ll put some padding on so that the wire doesn’t cut into me. I won’t be suspended for long anyway.”

 

“After that, you crawl back through the vents, Touma sneaks out, and I find an excuse to leave. Seems simple enough!” remarked Umika. Touma wasn’t quite as cheerful as her but he accepted the plan, and nodded in agreement.

 

Metropolitan Museum, 4:58 PM

 

Despite the threat of an impending theft, security and staff at the museum seemed fairly relaxed. A small police detail was working with security, and the GSPO Tactical Unit members had decided to support them in shifts. Tsukasa was currently on duty as the final touches to the Red Compass display were made. She checked the security system over one last time, making sure she was satisfied that the installation had been completed as expected.

 

Her phone chimed, letting her know it was 1700 hours. Her shift was over. No sooner had the chime died down when her earpiece crackled to life.

 

“Tsukasa, this is Keiichiro,” his voice came through the static. “I’m here to relieve you. Meet you at the museum lobby for a quick debrief.”

 

“This is Tsukasa; roger that, Keiichiro, on my way.” Tsukasa turned on her heel, waving a quick goodbye to the police officer at the door to the exhibit hall. GSPO had rented accommodation near the museum so that their team could rest between shifts, but still be in the vicinity for any emergencies.

 

Right now, Tsukasa was just looking forward to taking a shower and getting some sleep between now and her 3AM shift. She was pretty confident though that whoever had made the tip off would be deterred by the increased security, or more than likely had just been pulling a prank.

 

Metropolitan Museum, 11:06 PM

 

Adjusting his cap, Kairi resisted the urge to look up at the security camera. He’d memorised his eyelines and walking paths for this part of the job so that the cap would obscure his face, but he still felt a bit exposed without his thief mask.

 

The museum’s usual janitorial contractors had received a request for extra cleaners this evening to make sure the building was sparkling before the exhibit’s grand opening the following day, so Kairi didn’t stand out as a temp among the usual staff.

 

Which also hopefully meant they wouldn’t notice if he didn’t leave with the rest of them.

 

As he shuffled in with the group, his heart skipped a beat. The green GSPO cop was at the security desk.

 

---

 

“Sakuya’s there?” Umika turned to Touma. “Noel never mentioned anything about that. Maybe he’s just visiting the museum?”

 

They were hiding out in a nearby cafe that had closed for the day. Apt, for the trio.

 

“No, he’s in his uniform and looks all kitted out.” Kairi’s distorted voice came over the speaker phone.

 

“Are the other global cops there?” Touma inquired as he begun to dig up the blueprints. If they needed to change the plan, they’d have to do so fast, and if Kairi needed an escape route, he’d need that even sooner.

 

“Not that I saw, and I don’t think I’d miss K-Man.” Kairi replied. “Listen, he seemed pretty relaxed, even for him, and there were fewer cops than we thought. I think it could still work.”

 

Touma hesitated. The GSPO being there added an extra variable they hadn’t considered, however Kairi was right: with just one of them, the plan would still work. The Phantom Thieves could even handle the full Patranger team if it came down to it, especially if it just meant escaping.

 

“I think we should still do it.” Umika broke the tension, expectantly looking at Touma. He nodded to her. “We have your back, Kairi. Just don’t mess it up.”

 

Touma swore he could hear Kairi’s grin as he said his goodbyes and hung up. “Let’s not leave anything to chance - I’ll contact Noel to see if he has anymore info on the global cops involvement. Get yourself ready, you’re up in half an hour.” Touma smirked. “Get ready to flirt with the green guy.”

 

Umika shot him a death glare.

 

---

 

The coast was clear for Kairi, so he nonchalantly exited the closet and got back to the original plan. Skirting the edge of the CCTV coverage, he made his way to the bathrooms. Luckily, he only crossed paths with one of the other cleaners, a dour guy looking down at the floor. Poor dude. Hopefully his shift was nearly over.

 

Slipping into a stall, he locked the door. So far, so good.

 

Metropolitan Museum, 11:47 PM

 

Sakuya checked his watch again. Only 45 minutes into his shift, and he was already getting pretty bored. One of the local police officers yawned. I feel that, pal.  

 

Suddenly, a rattling followed by a sharp tapping sound came at the entrance door. Just outside the glass stood Umika, the girl from Bistrot Jurer. What on Earth was she doing here?

 

---

 

After an initial look of surprise at her presence, Sakuya hurried over to the door. Umika’s role was simple: it was cold outside, and she just needed to get inside to wait for a ride. She’d purposefully underdressed for the weather as part of the act, although it did mean her shivering was more real than acted.

 

“Hey Umika, what are you doing here?” Sakuya opened the door slightly so he could talk to her, the warm air hitting her face. Excellent. Foot in the door. “Can I help you?”

 

“Wow, Sakuya!” she said, pouring it on. “Imagine seeing you here! Only it’s a bit cold out here, and my friend won’t be here to pick me up for a while. Could I wait inside, do you think?”

 

“Oh, yeah sure!” He waved at the cop and guard at the front desk to let them know everything was fine and let her in.

 

“So, what are you doing here?” she said quickly, trying to cut him off from asking the same thing, and loudly, so the others would hear her.

 

“Ah, that’s er… unfortunately I can’t really tell you.” He looked a bit sheepish. The two at the desk were now looking at the pair, and didn’t notice the flash of blue that had just snuck in through the window. “It’s just some increased security for an exhibit tomorrow.”

 

“Oh, exhibit?” Out of the corner of her eye, she saw an OK sign coming from the security room with the CCTV. So far, so good.

 

A whooshing sound suddenly came from outside, and the police radio sprung to life.

 

Metropolitan Museum, 00:14

 

Kairi’s fingers were just brushing up against the La vie de pirates pour moi when the explosion occurred at the halls entrance, the shockwave swinging him away from the collection piece. Dammit he cursed inwardly as he reflexively dropped the glass case back down and reeled himself up. Was it the Ganglers? What had happened to Touma and Umika?

 

Through the smoke a gun appeared, followed by the shadow of a person. Not just any gun either - it looked like one of the flintlocks that were also in the exhibit lining the room. Suddenly, the alarm started blaring, casting light upon the new intruder: he was a man with spiky black hair, and a long red coat. He twirled his gun and rested it on his shoulder, cocking an eyebrow.

 

He wasn’t one of the cops. Maybe he was a Gangler in disguise? The plan had completely gone to trash now anyway, so Kairi dropped from the ceiling in front of the intruder.

 

“Hey man, sorry to say, but I already got to this treasure. You’ll have to find something else. I’m sure there’s another pirate exhibition elsewhere.”

 

The man smirked. “That there is the Shiniest Treasure in the Universe, and I’m taking it by force.” Kairi had barely enough time to react and dodge as he brought his gun down and shot at him.

 

Who was this guy?!

 

---

 

Umika was sitting on the floor with the rest of the guards, police, and Sakuya as the mean lady dressed in yellow dragged an unconscious Touma out of the security room.

 

“...the Phantom Thieves are here?” Sakuya said as Touma was dumped next to them.

 

“Shut up, idiot.” the yellow lady said. She turned to her friend, a guy with long hair wearing a blue jacket and brandishing a cutlass. “This one set off the alarm but the Doc is trying to disarm it.”

 

“It’s probably too late now.” The blue guy replied. “Anyway, I’m sure Marvelous has got what he came for.”

 

This is bad. Umika thought. She looked around to see if there was anything she could use as a distraction to escape. Suddenly, the pink one knelt down in front of her.

 

“I must ask you to please refrain from doing anything foolish, as I will not hesitate to stop you.” Despite her polite and friendly demeanour, Umika knew she wasn’t bluffing.

 

---

 

As Kairi rolled away from the blast of the red pirate’s gun, he heard glass shattering behind him. Stupid, stupid, he was aiming at the display case!

 

Kairi leapt up to see him strolling towards the collection piece, now free for the taking. He raised his VS Changer and fired a warning shot at his feet. “I wouldn’t go any further if I was you.”

 

The man stopped but seemed completely unfazed at being shot at. He sighed and pulled out a flip phone. “I guess I’ll have to make a show of this. Gokai change!”

 

He inserted a key into the phone. Without waiting to see what happened, Kairi pulled out his Dial Fighter. “Kaitou change!”

 

---

 

“Joe, there’s a problem!” shouted the wimpy-looking green guy as he ran out of the security room. Before anyone could react, a loud commotion could be heard coming from the main exhibit hall…

 

… and Lupin Red came flying down the corridor, landing hard on the floor of the lobby. As he got up, a red pirate came charging down the hall, firing his gun. His comrades got out of the way, changing their attention to the fight. Umika saw her chance.

 

“Sakuya, I think we can go!” she whispered, nudging him. He nodded “OK, stay low, and run for the door, I’ll cover all of you.”

 

As she ran outside with Sakuya and the others, she quickly stepped to the side, out of sight. In one swift motion, she removed her civilian clothes to reveal her phantom thief costume underneath.

 

Donning her mask, she charged back into the lobby. The other pirates had transformed but Kairi was managing to hold his own for the moment. She ran over to Touma.

 

“You’re just faking it, right?” she stooped over her friend. He opened his eyes. “Just waiting for the right moment.”

 

Touma jumped up and stood next to Umika. Kairi whirled to their side as the pirates looked at them from across the lobby.

 

“Didn’t quite go to plan then?” Touma quipped at Kairi. “Yeah, not quite. You think you could help me out?” Touma and Umika nodded, brandishing their VS Changers.

 

“Kaitou change!”

 

---

 

For Sakuya, everything had happened so fast. Suddenly pirates were fighting the Phantom Thieves, then he was sneaking hostages out of the museum to the sounds of gunfire, and now he’d lost Umika. To top things off, he’d just seen Lupin Yellow turn up to the fight as well!

 

He needed to get back up, and fast .

 

---

 

Five against three were not good odds. The pirates were tough, and the three thieves were having a tough time defending themselves. As Kairi’s sword once again clashed with the red pirate’s cutlass, he realised they weren’t getting anywhere. They needed a change of tactics. And to get the Lupin Collection piece out of the red pirate’s hand.

 

Using the force of the clash to aid his jump back, he came up to Touma hiding behind the Scissor Shield as the green and pink ones barraged him with gun fire.

 

“Any ideas?” Touma asked, throwing the Blade Boomerang once again in a vain attempt to attack the pirates. Umika joined them. “We should smoke them out.”

 

Kairi nodded. The blue and yellow pirates were advancing holding two swords each. He put the fire truck trigger machine into his VS Changer. “OK, here we go.”

 

“Keisatsu boost!” yelled his changer as he raised the Splash Buster and fired. A thick smoke blasted out and quickly filled the lobby, surprising the pirates. Kairi looked over at the red one so he could plot out his next move. For a brief moment he saw his helmet before it was obscured by the smoke and even though he couldn’t see his face he swore he seemed… like he found the situation funny.

 

Seriously, who was this guy?!

 

He pushed the thought out of his mind and went to work, quickly and silently making his way to where the red guy was. He’d take the Lupin Collection piece while Touma and Umika ran interference with the other pirates, leaving him with an avenue to escape.

 

“Gokai change!” came a voice from up ahead. What now? “Hurricaneger!”

 

A blast of hot air shot a perfect hole through the smoke past Kairi’s shoulder. Before he could react, a light whooshing noise came closer and suddenly a red ninja appeared to the other side of him.

 

“Chou Ninpou: Kage no Mai!” yelled the ninja. The world around Kairi grew dark and suddenly he found himself being hit hard from all directions, unable to defend himself. The red ninja appeared for a final blow that launched him straight towards the glass doors of the lobby, smashing through them.

 

Landing awkwardly on the grass outside, Kairi groaned as he got up. He saw the smoke was pouring out of the lobby, along with Touma and Umika running after him.

 

Kairi staggered to his feet as the red ninja followed them out. In a glow of red, he became the red pirate again. Pretty neat trick. He thought What next, a dinosaur?

 

The other pirates came out after him.

 

“Marvelous, are we done here?” the blue one asked.

 

“We have the treasure. Let’s g-hey!” red guy had just figured out he no longer held the collection piece.

 

“Ah, looking for this?” Kairi produced the La vie de pirates pour moi. He’d managed to grab it during the ninja attack.

 

“Hmph, you’re good. I’ll give you that. Now hand it back before we take it back.” the pirate took half a step towards Kairi.

 

A cry from behind them shattered the tense stare down. “Freeze! Global Police!”.

 

Not the cops. Not now. K-Man sure knew how to ruin a party. He began to turn as the roar of a rocket filled the sky. A massive red galleon shot towards the museum, causing the Lupinranger and the cops to hit the deck.

 

Kairi turned back just in time to see the pirates swinging up to the ship, dodging out of the way of the yellow one as she came very close to them. “See you later!” she yelled, and was out of sight. The ship blasted off into the night sky.

 

“Let’s go.” Kairi said. He’d seen enough for one heist. Before the cops could recover, the Lupinranger swang away themselves.

 

---

 

Bistrot Jurer, 01:27

 

The trio entered the cafe silently, making sure not to disturb the neighbours and raise suspicion. Touma flicked the lights on, and Kogure was there, sipping tea. Of course.

 

“Do you like drinking tea in the dark?” Kairi said.

 

“I trust the mission went well?” Kogure smiled.

 

“Yeah, we have the collection piece right her-huh?!” as he pulled out the collection piece, he noticed that the red diamond casing was gone.

 

“How did you lose part of the collection?!” Umika cried in despair.

 

Kogure chuckled. “Remember what I said? The red casing is actually not part of the true collection piece. Although it would have fetched a tidy sum. Now, if you will…?” he opened the Lupin Collection book to the right page and took the piece off Kairi. La vie de pirates pour moi melted into the book.

 

Merci . Now good night, I shall see you again soon. Adieu .” Touma opened the door for Kogure as he walked out into the night.

 

“Well… I guess it could have gone worse?” Kairi ventured.

 

Touma and Umika looked at each other. “I’m going to bed.” Touma ignored Kairi as he went towards the stairs. What a strange night.

 

---

 

“What’s up, Marvelous?” Luka’s oddly cheerful voice snapped her Captain’s attention back to reality. “Moping over the Shiniest Treasure in the Universe?”

 

“It’s not often he’s bested in a heist.” Joe said from his sit-up bench.

 

“Ah, shut up, or you’ll all walk the plank.” He was in no mood to be teased.

 

“Oh really?” smirked Luka. “Even though I managed to snag the Shiniest Treasure in the Universe?” She produced the red diamond they’d been after.

 

“How did - you picked his pocket when we left?” he jumped up to take the diamond off Luka.

 

“Yep, swinging onto ships and stealing precious treasures, you’re truly lucky to have me on your crew. Shame it’s a fake.” Luka pointed towards it. “It’s just red quartz.”

 

“What the-?!” Marvelous roared.

 

---

 

“It was like you said, Balance. It was quite easy to take.” Naga inspected the red diamond. It was… shiny.

 

“Heh heh, that’s right partner! No one noticed me pretending to be a statue in that room o’ statues! Easy pickings!” Balance danced alongside him.

 

“Someone saw me come out of the organic waste facility. I think they may have been after it as well.” Naga said.

 

“No matter, finders keepers, and we didn’t get caught! Another success for the BN Thieves!”

 

END