The Singular Affair of the Second Moriarty

Chapter Six

by TT (a.m.tilmouth.s99 at cranfield.ac.uk)
Holmes was pacing up and down the room and Watson had a mere suspicion that his neck joints were going to need oiling if he watched him for much longer.
'She’s late, Watson.'
Watson sighed. 'By twenty minutes, Holmes. It could be a late bus.'
'Or it could be that maniac the Shadow, I should never have let her go out alone.'
There was a tap on the window. Holmes spun round in time to see Tessa crawl through. Her hair fell back; the plastic disguise was gone, and underneath the shiny, slightly melted skin of her face glinted in the light of the room. Holmes took her mask from the dressing table and handed it to her; she looked at the inside thoughtfully for a minute before putting it on.
'You walked through town.'
She shook her head. 'I flew out of Tennyson’s back garden on my board. The disguise fell off; should have remembered it’s about the time for daffodils.' She pulled a disc of metal from her pocket. 'Here’s the projector. Tennyson gave me every assurance it would function.' She paused and rubbed her fingers under the mask before reaching up to secure it.
'He is a remarkable young man!' said Holmes looking at her as she flicked the catches on her mask closed
'Yes,' she said, smiling, 'He is. And now, Mr Holmes, you will tell me your plan.'
Holmes opened his e-mails two hours later; a surprise was waiting for him.
'Tonight, 10’oclock, by 221b. Come by yourself. If I return to my lair alone, Lestrade dies...horribly.'
Tessa was sitting at the back of the room; she had been silent for most of the time, Holmes suspected lost in quiet contemplation, a visit with Tennyson could do that to you. Now she lifted her head slightly and nodded.
'That’s the Shadow; for most people putting "she dies" would be enough.' She shuddered 'He’s a sick monster.'
Holmes got up and fetched his deerstalker and Inverness from the chair. 'It’s eight fifty-one now; we shall have to hurry.'
Tessa disappeared back into her room. Moments later she came out dressed in a black flight jumpsuit and her helmet; the skyboard was tucked under an arm, Holmes couldn’t help but notice the stunner had been replaced by something altogether more sinister.
'Both of you will have to walk across town separately; he’ll be watching you most of the way, Holmes.' She turned to walk up to the roof where she could lift off. Pausing, she turned back, put the board on the floor and gave both Holmes and Watson hugs. The next time she spoke, her voice was slightly choked under the helmet. 'Don’t give me three others to avenge, Mr Holmes; come back safe.'
Holmes still reeling from the hug said nothing as she picked up her board and hurried towards the roof.
Beth tried to sit up in her bed; the world spun about her in furious haste. She sank back down. Something in the water, she managed to decide, something horrible, but she had been so thirsty. The voice came from all around her at once.
'I see the drug is working, Miss Lestrade; you’ll be pleased to know I have decided on something a little more sophisticated for your friend.' She heard the electrical fizz of a stunner fire off into the room.
'Much quicker and it fits into the pocket. I wouldn’t try to move too much, Miss Lestrade. The drug will wear off later, but it will keep you quiet while I’m collecting Mr Holmes.' She tried to sit up again and fell back.
'If you keep doing that you’ll make yourself sick, my dear. There is a bucket next to you but I doubt you’ll be able to find it in time, so best just keep still, yes.' Beth’s brain clicked into gear; he was going to get Holmes, to drag him back here to this hole and probably torture them both and eventually kill them. She wondered how her brother would react when they found her body; for a moment she wondered who would mourn Holmes and whether they would bury him the second time in the same coffin as the first. The Baker Street Irregulars flashed into her mind for a moment followed by Watson. Poor Watson, she thought, his memory will be wiped for sure.
She heard the cell door click shut. In the darkness lights danced in front of her eyes. It was now a waiting game to see if the Shadow would return while she was still drugged or whether it would wear off and give her a chance to escape before he returned with Holmes. She tried to relax and let her body deal with the drug; she took the time to think, to plot, to plan.
The black shape skimmed in and out of the clouds above New London, careful to avoid leaving trails in the sky. Tessa felt the board hum underneath her; it had been a long while since she’d felt joy at flying her board and parts of her brain that had been buried under the weight of recent events tried to surface. Later, she promised them, I’ll take a holiday and skim the tops of buildings and create water trails in the sea, but not now; now is the time for concentration. She felt the mental buzz start as the adrenaline kicked in; it happened sometimes when she was racing when she knew it was going to be a good race. She missed racing more than she could describe; it had been a part of her since she was eight. A memory of her dad cheering her on in the junior championships reared up and then faded. Maybe one day, she thought to herself as her nightgoggles revealed the heat image of Holmes far below, I’ll go back. She dodged a tall office block that loomed out of the clouds ahead of her, keeping close to the black surface as the moon appeared for a second; maybe one day soon.
The clock was just striking ten as Holmes reached the steps of 221b. Plastic sheets covered the broken window; across the door a yellow ribbon proclaimed a "police line, do not cross." Holmes tapped the plastic sheet.
'Solid,' he exclaimed, 'At least no one will steal my slippers for souvenirs.'
'I wouldn’t be too sure about that, Mr Holmes, yes.'
Holmes straightened and turned round slowly.
The Shadow stood by the corner of the house, leaning on the brickwork. His face was covered with a piece of grey fabric, his hands were gloved and he wore soft-shoes, the kind Holmes associated with burglary.
'Where’s Lestrade, Shadow?'
The eyes gleamed above the fabric. 'Safe enough for now, Mr Holmes. Where’s the droid!'
'This is not Watson’s fight; this is between you and me.'
The figure laughed heartily.'Oh, yes, very good, Mr Holmes. I forgot you came from the age of stupidity. The droid might just have evened up your chances of winning, but you, you are no match for me.'
Holmes went to strike but the Shadow already had the stunner in his hand, a bolt of blue light hit him directly in the chest. Holmes’s long figure crumpled like paper under the shot.
'Excellent,' hissed the Shadow as he picked up the limp body. 'Just as I had planned.'
He swung the body over his shoulder and walked over to a blue hovercar parked nearby. Strapping Holmes securely in the back seat, he started the car and lifted off into the night.

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