The police van's sirens were designed to not drown out people speaking within the vehicles; even so, the Task Force had to nearly shout to be understood.
"Sir! We've tracked down Kid's cellular service," Lieutenant Doi reported. "It's a pay-as-you-go account, registered to a Morisu Aasen, age thirty-three!" Nakamori cursed perfunctorily, then caught the grab bar as Hosoda took a corner at breakneck speeds. Doi fumbled his phone, which went sliding somewhere under the van seats with an ominous crunch.
"Sir!" Another Task Force officer leaned forward, his own phone in hand. "Nonaka-san contacted the precinct in Beika. She says Investigative Unit One got the same text and are on the scene--"
The radio crackled, and in the front seat, Kurosawa turned. "Sir! The chief wants us to prove Kaitou Kid was not involved--"
Half of Nakamori's response to that blistered the air around him. "A missing kid and a possible murder is not Kaitou Kid!"
Another sharp corner, the van's tires squealing, and they screeched to a halt at the back of a trio of police cars, their lights flashing blindingly through the darkened street. As Saguru clambered out with the horde from his van, the rest of the Task Force vans arrived and disgorged their officers.
For a moment, all Saguru could see was a veritable zoo of police -- not that Investigative Unit One was all that large, maybe half a dozen strong, but the Task Force was considerably larger. Then against the flashing lights, Saguru caught a glimpse of a couple thirteen-year-olds in the mix.
Kid must've also texted Conan's team of kids with karma as bad as his own. The Shounen Tantei. Saguru counted up only three of the children, then spotted Sleeping Kogoro near Inspector Megure.
They could have the shoutout with Nakamori, Saguru thought, heading towards the cram school's closed gate. The girl there -- the dark-haired young teen with the headband -- looked up from her examination of the sidewalk before it. Her face was a little blotchy, Saguru noticed, before she gave him a fierce smile not unlike Conan's. "Hakuba-san," she greeted, bowing. "Yoshida Ayumi, detective. I've seen you on TV. Did Kid-san call you too?"
"Texted, to be precise," Saguru corrected.
She nodded, then pointed at the tea-blond girl hovering near Sleeping Kogoro. "Ai-kun checked Conan's cousin's house when we got the message. She lives next door to it... usually when he doesn't go home, he stays there."
Considering the 'cousin' was Kudou Shin'ichi, Edogawa's true identity, that made sense.
"Here." She gestured at the patch of sidewalk and the gate. "Tell me what you think of this."
Saguru pulled on a pair of latex gloves, reached out, and shook the gate testingly. "Locked." He peered closer at the worn, matte metal. "No fresh tool marks... though admittedly," he added, looking at the wide crossbars of the gate and rough concrete walls, "It wouldn't be particularly difficult to get in without a key."
"It's not," Yoshida-chan answered. "Mitsuhiko-kun and Takagi-san went over the wall in case the lock's evidence."
"I should think it is," Saguru said. "If we don't locate Edogawa-kun within the walls, the culprit must have removed him from the scene. I daresay it would be extremely difficult to carry him over the wall." At knifepoint was out of the question. Too many chances for the boy to overpower his adversary and escape.
"Sato-san's having the department get a warrant for the school's employee list." Now she crouched, waving him down too. "But look: mud!"
It was already a couple days into June; mud was plentiful, but so was pouring rain that washed every trace from the sidewalks. They'd had a mild storm just that morning that, while it wouldn't have made much impact in the municipal runoff system, should've left the streets relatively pristine. "It may have accumulated from the students," Saguru murmured, "but in that case, the flakes of bark on it should have been crushed."
Yoshida-chan nodded. "Also, there are some leaves in it, and they're still green."
"Barely wilted," Saguru agreed.
A pair of large shoes came into Saguru's vision. He looked up, seeing the largest member of Edogawa's gang, shadowed by and dwarfing the tea-blonde girl.
"Haibara Ai-kun. Kojima Genta-kun." Yoshida-chan pushed herself up, Saguru following. "Hakuba-san."
The blonde girl's eyes flicked over Saguru, then included Yoshida-chan. "The Task Force's men are going to comb the perimeter and work outward. They ask that we stay in groups of at least two and defer to the police."
The young trio's lapels chirped.
We've found Conan's glasses on the third floor, a tinny voice, too young to be a policeman's, piped out. His badge was in his shoe locker.
"I'm going to kill him," Kojima remarked conversationally.
"Get in line," Haibara muttered. "The badge has a pin for a reason."
Saguru was missing something. "And what reason might that be?"
Cool blue eyes snapped up to him. "Emergency locator," Haibara said. "There's one in his glasses, too."
What on earth would compel Edogawa to remove such a device? "I see," Saguru murmured, letting his professionalism mask the gears turning in his mind. Kid had said Edogawa wasn't expected home that night...