The Singular Affair of the Second Moriarty

Chapter Eight

by TT (a.m.tilmouth.s99 at cranfield.ac.uk)
This time Beth managed to get halfway across the room before her legs gave way. She was still dizzy but it was wearing off fast. 'Come on, Lestrade,' she said to herself quietly 'If Holmes can make it up a waterfall, you can make it to the door.' Still it was a little while before she managed to drag herself to her feet again. This time she collapsed nearly in front of the door.
'And rest. Phew. At this rate Iíll be old and grey before I get out into the New London smog again.' She grimaced. 'If I get out at all.'
Moving into a kneeling position she steadied herself against the floor and prepared to stand again. Then she heard it, the tiniest of sounds in the keycard lock, like someone very carefully pressing against metal.
'Lestrade?' It was quiet but unmistakably Holmes.
'Holmes!' she cried out, then in a harsher tone. 'What took you so long?'
She heard hissing from the other side of the door. 'Whisper, Lestrade. I have no idea how long it will take him to find the hologram out...can you walk?'
'A bit. The drug he gave me, it's wearing off slowly.' She thought she heard Holmes mutter Ďanimalí under his breath; it was followed by a louder Ďdamní. The door swung open. For a moment the familiar figure stood silhouetted by the door before coming over to help her up. She had to lean on him in order to walk even a little bit, she was still so dizzy.
'We have to get outside; Watson should be waiting with the sky car.'
Lestrade winced as she put more weight than she should have on her injured leg. 'How far up is it? He told me it was a long way.'
Holmesís eyes were darting here, there and everywhere. 'Not as far as all that. Just down this corridor and through the main room. Heís got a good view on his perch, but there are ways round the vats that he hasnít accounted for.'
The Shadow ended the conversation with Scar as quickly as possible; they had done business before and he knew he would be paid well for his work. Even so he hated her; she had discs of him when he was younger, less careful to cover his tracks. They would make good evidence in court if it came to it; his continued services made sure it didnít. The figure of Holmes was still unmoving on the blankets. The Shadow moved over him.Perhaps, he thought to himself, the stunner was set a little high; he should be waking up by now. Impatient to get on with the nightís work, he went to shake the detective awake. His hand grabbed at the air where there should have been Holmes' shoulder; the figure faded. Now he saw the little metal disc on the floor; growling he crushed it underfoot. He screamed out his rage in one long howl of misery before turning and scanning the floor. There was a glimpse of the Inverness disappearing behind a vat; it was quickly followed by a shot.
Holmes pushed Lestrade further behind the metal container. He had carefully calculated the bridges distance from his hiding place; there was no way that the Shadow could line up a shot at them. A few more well-timed dashes and they would be at the exit; he gave Lestrade a push towards the next tank.
'Mr Holmes.' The call was from somewhere over the tanks. 'Come out, Mr Holmes; letís settle this man to man, yes.'
Holmes dragged Lestrade behind the next vat; a shot scorched the leather of his shoe.
'Ah, so thatís where youíre hiding, Mr Holmes. Very clever, using the tanks to block me, but sooner or later you will have to come out in the open. Sooner or later Iíll win.'
Holmes pulled Lestrade up to the edge of the tank, ready to run.
'The hologram -- ingenious, but I wouldnít have thought a man of your time would be so...up to date with such techniques.'
A shot hissed at his heels as they ran for cover.
'So I am thinking, who could Mr Holmes have turned to for help with his little trick...mmm...The police droid could not have made so convincing a model. So I am thinking to myself, who could have programmed such a device...ah, yes, your little crippled friend...what is his name? Tennyson Fayre, thatís it. Maybe he shall be the bait next time.'
Holmes stopped, breathing hard; his fists were so tightly clenched that his fingernails drew blood. Beside him Lestrade was white.
'Maybe we shall see if I can make the mute beg....'
'Leave him alone.' It was Tessaís voice, Holmes heard the swish of the skyboard and a cry from the Shadow followed by a clank of metal hitting metal. He pushed Lestrade down. 'Stay here.'
Lestrade shook her head. 'I can....'
Holmes snapped at her, 'For once in your life, woman, do as youíre told.' He turned and darted out of sight.
She had drawn blood. The long thin spring blade on her wrist gleamed red with it. The Shadow put a hand to his shoulder; it came back thick with red. He looked shocked rather than actually hurt.
'That was for my mother, you monster.' The board had clattered off along the walkways over the vats. Tessa ignored it. Her helmet and mask had gone; she faced her enemy with the full horror of his actions. Filled with bloodlust and anger she struck. Below she could hear the clatter as someone climbed a ladder.
The Shadow managed to block the next few strikes with a metal wristband, but on the fourth she faked and lunged, catching him in the leg. 'That was for my father.'
In the background of her mind she could hear pounding feet followed by cursing; Holmes had come to the fallen bridge that separated her pathway from his. The Shadow hissed and tried to smack her down but she dodged, fuelled by pure rage. He tripped and fell, head over the edge of the bridge. Below lay the sharp, twisted pieces of the fallen bridge. He smiled as she stood over him the blade at his throat.
'Let me guess,' he said. 'The dog.'
She shrugged. 'No, this oneís just for me.'
She readied the blade, but this time she heard Holmes' words over the fury inside her.
'Professor James Moriarty,' he said coldly, staring straight at her. 'We meet again.'
She looked up horrified. 'I am not....'
She didnít get the chance to finish. A leg caught her straight in the stomach, lifting her up and over the bridge and into the air. For about a second the ground loomed to meet her, then stopped. Something fell. The blade dropped off her wrist, the mechanism broken; it clattered down into the forest of jagged metal below.
'Holmes!' She looked up; he was flat on the bridge, his hand wrapped around her ankle.
'Donít...move.'
She heard a chuckle from the other side of the bridge. The Shadow was standing looking down at them, his gun was back in his hand and he was lazily aiming it at Holmes' shoulder.
'One arm less will not matter, Mr Holmes.' He levelled the gun. 'And one less Moriarty is always a blessing.'
Tessa hung there frozen for a second, before she remembered her board. Taking aim, she smashed her heel against the edge of the bridge. 'Goodbye, freak.'
The board caught him full in his legs; the shot firing off into the roof, the gun clattering along the bridge. The Shadow hung over the edge of the pathway for about a second before falling. Tessa looked away just before the impact. When she opened her eyes, the Shadow looked like an oversized pincushion. She felt sick.
Her board hovered upside down by her feet. 'Let go, Holmes.' Her voice was shaky, the blood was rushing to her head.
Holmes shook his head. 'You will fall.'
Tessa tried not to look down. 'The suction will catch before that happens. Please, I donít feel too good.'
Gently, Holmes released her ankle. There was a brief moment of uncertainty and then her feet caught the board. Flipping, she turned upright and moved over the bridge.
Holmes got up off the floor, dusting off his knees and Inverness. She dug her mask from a small backpack and slipped it on.
'Holmes!'
'Yes.' He turned to face her.
'On the bridge when I had the blade to his throat and you said....'
'I knew associating you with your relative would cause such loathing that it would prevent you from carrying out your intended assassination. Even so...'
Tessa stuck a finger under his nose. 'Donít ever call me that name again...ever.'
Holmes nodded. 'I hope I shall never need to.'
The sound of a motorcar started up behind them. Turning, they were just in time to see Holmesís hovercar brake and turn. It levelled up at the bridge and the door opened.
'Hello, old chap.' Watson waved from the driverís side. Looking at Tessa, he patted his pocket. 'Had them in here the whole time, must have got caught on something. Never mind, hey.'
Lestrade wound down the passenger window.
Holmes sighed. 'Just for once, Miss Lestrade, it would be nice if you did what you were told.'
'If I did that, Holmes, Iíd never get anywhere. Whereís the Shadow?'
Holmes pointed down as Tessa went to fetch her helmet from its hiding place.
Lestrade looked, then moved over to the radio in the car. 'Better get a black and white down here before somebody stumbles on him.'
Holmes climbed in the car. Tessa got into the front seat and the door closed.
'Heíll be safe enough for the moment in that vat, Lestrade,' said Holmes, leaning back in the car seat. 'Letís go home.'

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