The Fall of the Phoenix

Chapter Ten

by TT (a.m.tilmouth.s99 at cranfield.ac.uk)

A dragon flew through the air above the trees; black and red shimmered against the afternoon sky. Blood-coloured fangs framed the black abyss through which two brown eyes stared into the space ahead.

Peter Ling had first come to England a year ago after being signed for the Hornets based in Dagenham and he had never looked back. His mum, originally from Hong Kong, and his dad, a full-blooded New Yorker whose grandfather had come over from China, had wished him well, helped him pack and then gone back to enjoy their retirement in California. He missed the shopping but these days New York was no more than a short flight away if he fancied a holiday. Heíd been planning to take Tess there when the season finished and they got a month's break before the training for the internationals started; sheíd never been to America before. He gritted his teeth as the thought popped into his head; he would take her there someday...soon.

Tennyson, Holmes, Lestrade and Watson had left earlier that day after some time in the garages. Ling wished he knew what they were up to.

Tennyson was to stay at Baker Street that evening; he was set up in front of the computer in the room scanning through race footage. Holmes had placed himself on an armchair near the fireplace and Watson had gone on shutdown for a couple of hours. Holmes stared into the projected log fire and tried to concentrate on the task at hand -- to assemble and analyse data surrounding the disappearance of the Phoenix.

Tennysonís eyes were having trouble keeping in touch with Tennysonís brain; he kept drifting in and out of wild imaginings. The Dragon had not been as much of a comfort as Tennyson had hoped, choosing to lock down his own emotions and ride or punch them out, he had real trouble keeping close enough to avoid freezing from the cloud mist on their ride earlier. Holmes, his other source of comfort, was in pursuit of the case and Tennyson wouldnít normally have tried to disturb him, but....

'Whurrr beep.' Tennyson backed away from the screen and rubbed his eyes under his goggles; he was getting tired, then something caught his eye. 'Whurr.'

Holmes seemed to come out of his trance-like state of concentration and walked over to him. 'What have you found, son?'

Tennyson tapped on his keyboard and a tiny part of the image over the woods on the track enlarged. Tennyson hit it again, and after a little adjustment the tiny speak above the trees became the clear image of a large sky car taking off out of the wood.

'Excellent, Tennyson. That is exactly what weíre looking for; it should be little trouble to track it for at least part of its journey now.'

Tennyson smiled and rubbed his eyes again.

Holmes smiled. 'I keep forgetting how late it is. I think, Tennyson, it is time for you to head off to the spare room and catch up on your sleep.' Tennyson nodded and Holmes laid a hand on his shoulder. 'Weíll find her, Tennyson, weíre on the trail.' Tennyson nodded again and smiled, then carefully he turned his hoverchair and left the room.

It was late morning. Watson had taken Tennyson to school for the day, and there had been no sign of Holmes since the previous evening. Lestrade arrived just after lunch, she looked tired and slumped into an armchair, accepting the cup of tea that Watson offered. 'Jut was found dead this morning in his cell.'

Watson looked up from a newspaper. 'Oh, my.'

Lestrade nodded. 'In a locked cell, no less. Itís a real pain in the neck, I can tell you.' She rubbed an aching patch on her neck; it had been a late night. 'Where is Holmes, anyway? He should really know about this latest event.'

As if on cue, somebody knocked at the door. Watson got up and walked over. 'Good evening, madam, can we help...oh, dear.'

A scruffy, grimy, dishevelled old woman hobbled into the room. "Iím 'ere to see Mr 'Olmes." She hacked away into a handkerchief. "'S very important."

Lestrade got up from the chair. 'Mr Holmes isnít here right now; can we help?'

The woman coughed again. 'I douít it. I was 'ere to tell 'Olmes personal-like, but if he canít even be bothered to turn up for his own meeting he can find the damn girlie 'imself.'

She turned to hobbled out the door but Lestrade bounded in front of her. 'Inspector Lestrade of New Scotland Yard. If you have information regarding Tessa Moriarty youíll tell us or spend a day in the cells.'

The woman protested but was dragged back into the room and sat in a chair. Watson went to fetch another teacup from the kitchen, Lestrade leaned back and closed her eyes for a minute, pinching the bridge of her nose. Man, she was tired and her head was beginning to ache.

'If your head hurts, Lestrade, there is aspirin in the top drawer of the desk.'

Lestrade shook her head. 'Thank you, Holmes, but Iím....' Her eyes snapped open.

In the other chair sat Holmes, eyes sparkling, in a black blouse and a skirt; the overall effect was rather disconcerting. Watson came in just as Lestrade was getting ready to throttle the great detective.

'Holmes!'

Holmes chuckled. 'Hello, old friend. I couldnít resist a little joke as I had the costume on. Is that tea?' Watson gave him the cup.

Lestrade sat back and sighed. 'Black may be your colour, Holmes, but the A-line skirt definitely doesnít suit you.' He laughed and disappeared to get changed.

'Watson, did my relative go insane after dealing with Holmes for so long?'

Watson looked up from clearing the tea things. 'I donít think so.'

Lestrade pinched her nose again. 'Good.'

A short while later, Holmes reappeared in more normal attire and sat down.

Lestrade leaned forward until her elbows were on her knees. 'So apart from your feminine side, Holmes, what else have you found?'

Holmes raised an eyebrow. 'Last night, Tennyson found a picture of the car Miss Moriarty was kidnapped in. Today I have been following its trail.'

Lestrade frowned. 'How?'

'Eyes and brains, my dear Lestrade. Even sky cars need fuel, and it was a very distinctive model. It would have to be to be big enough to fit the hover trailer in.'

Lestrade leaned back. 'So thatís it, then. We go and storm the building, arrest the bad guys and back in time for tea.'

Watson frowned. 'That would be a bit difficult, Lestrade, since itís only six hours till teatime and including travel and arrangements....'

Lestrade groaned. 'I was being sarcastic, Watson.'

Holmes seemed to be lost in thought for a minute. Under his breath Watson thought he heard him mutter, 'No way around it; without a distraction sheíll be dead before we can blink, and still...can he be trusted with the lives of others, even his own family?'

'Whatís that, Holmes?'

He straightened. 'Nothing, Watson, just thinking out loud. I think tonightís work will be rather...specialised. There is no doubt Scar will kill her if they get half the chance...I will make arrangements, if you will be so kind as to get Mr Ling and meet me here at ten.' Holmes made his way to the door, taking up his deerstalker and Inverness from their hooks.

'And where are you going, Holmes?'

Holmes paused before closing the door behind him. 'To get Moriarty.' And then he was gone.

On to Part 11!

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