The Baker Street Universe
Part Two of The Turning
It was the official headquarters of Her Majesty Queen Mary of Scots. What had once been a place known for its foul secrets, its stinking dungeons reeking of the torture and death cries of its inmates secreted below for retribution by royalty and those of money, had now been cleansed for the work that the Queen did, some of it secret, but always for the benefit of the Britains. No one had ever deserved a less sordid place to do their work than her, and because of her very nature she could accept nothing less, wanting to squash out once and for all the dark history of the place.
Even so, the Royal Guard quivered inwardly every time they reported for duty, for many swore they saw the ghosts of dead inmates haunting the place, not only at night, but during the day, some still showing the torn limbs and sockets of eyes they had succumbed to in its dark depths. So it’s no surprise that the single guard at his post, protecting the entrance to the Black Tower, would be outwardly calm, but inwardly counting the seconds until he could scamper home to the safety of his warm hearth and loving wife and family.
Royal Sergeant Tylor stood at the entrance, stiff as the automatons that Wells and Jules were working on with Edison and Tesla at their warehouse. His long mustache drooped towards his chest of medals, and start purple uniform that clung to him tightly from being in the mist so long. The Queen allowed none of her entrance guards to stand in shelter. It was imperative that they be seen at all times so as to subvert attention from the ones who were hidden above in narrow alcoves that could fire directly downwards at any unwanted guests. And there had been plenty over the last year or so as he remembered.
Sherlock shrugged his cape closer about his neck and nodded to Royal Sergeant Tylor, who turned his head in a slight nod. “Her majesty is expecting you, Mister Holmes.”
Sherlock moved to reach for the entrance handle. Tylor blocked his path. “You know the rules, sir.”
“But of course.” Sherlock acknowledged, the hint of impatience touching his eyes, but not his manners.
He reached beneath his warm cape into his double pocked waist coast and slipped out his honorary badge, which had his identification emblazoned on it: Royal Member of the Court and Master Detective Sherlock Aloysius Holmes. Aloysius was a distant uncle he came to know about only in the last few months, when he was visited by the man. He was a very mysterious chap, with an incredible mind and quite arrogant on some levels, but a genius none the less. He and Aloysius had hit it off immediately, much to Watson’s dismay. He had also found out at that time about his own middle name which had not been disclosed to him prior to that. Another mystery to solve sometime in the future perhaps.
“It’s bad enough to have one man overpowering me day by day, let alone two.” He had finally complained
Aloysius had overhead and come directly to Watson and put a delicate, pale hand upon his arm. “I assure you, dear Watson that I have no intentions of tearing your friendship apart, nor of subjugating you to my presence one more day than it has been already.”
And with those words the mysterious uncle had departed, leaving both Sherlock and Watson with a loss for words.
Sherlock said no more, but Watson pondered the strange uncle, his very un-English accent and ways, and the deportment of the men, who moved more like a wraith from hell, than an English gentleman might.
Later Sherlock had learned that his uncle had met with Jules and Wells and taken by them to some distant port of call, which neither would later disclose to him.
“Very well, sir. Sorry for the…”
Holmes smiled, a distant laugh on his lips. “I fear it has done no harm to our relationship, Sergeant, or to her Majesty’s. I was merely testing you as she required.”
His eyes widened a touch, and then he laughed. “Oh, she is a wily one, is she not?”
“Yes, and that is why we both must be on a constant lookout for what is coming. Like the man you missed just a few seconds ago who was tailing me.”
With those words Sherlock spun around and flung what appeared to be a small circular star from the hip level.
Something standing in the mist and shadows let out a grunt and stumbled into view. It was a very large man, wearing a sailor’s outfit, but rundown and mangy. The man eyed the star that had struck him in his belt, knocking the air from him, and then stared into Sherlock’s eyes. “You could have killed me!”
The Sergeant drew his wicked saber, shaped like a half burnished arc and faced the sailor. “IF he had not, then I surely would have. Speak up! What are you here for?”
Holmes watched silently as the sailor ignored the Sergeant and plucked the star from his belt, and then tossed it to the feet of Holmes.
“I used to play with these when I was a child in the Chinas.”
Holmes eyebrows rose somewhat.
“Sergeant, let this man pass.”
“But you just attacked him…”
“No, I was merely…”
“Testing me.” James Moriarity said, grinning as he shrugged off the dingy sailor jacket, then his cap, revealing his very finely tailored suit that had been hidden beneath. He allowed the pillow he had used to bolster his middle to fall to the cobbled stones, then released a prosthetic from his mouth that had widen his jaw and gave it the square look that had first appeared on his face. He plucked the unibrow eyebrows from his forehead, then slipped off several layers of skin that were made from a false skin that Professor Langston had provided him.
“James.” Holmes greeted, the hint of a grin upon his looks at the profoundly confused look that threatened to become a full panic upon Royal Sergeant Tylor’s face.
Royal Sergeant Tylor lowered his weapon. “Sir, had you only asked.”
“But I was also testing you.” James pointed out, reaching out to clamp a warm hand on the Royal Sergeant’s shoulder. “And you have passed the test admirably.” He looked to Sherlock. “From both of us.”
He stooped, picked up the pillow, and thrust it into the Sergeant’s arms. “You won’t be needing this here, but surely your family could use an extra one.”
Royal Sergeant Tylor nodded, his face still in shock as both James and Sherlock opened the entrance door, pausing only as it creaked mightily, groaning on its ancient rusted hinges, to turn back and nod to the Sergeant, then enter, closing the door noisily behind them, leaving behind a confused Royal Sergeant, but a more alert one as well.
As they ascended the hundred steps to the top of the tower James and Sherlock exchanged pleasantries, both men’s minds elsewhere in many ways, but still intent on showing their civilities towards each other.
“How have you and the Princess been?”
James smiled, a dreamy look on his face. “Exquisite.”
Sherlock smiled. He had no woman in his life. He had no need of one as far as he was concerned. The one woman he had fallen for had been a genius in many ways, but unfortunately for her and him, a genius of dark skills. She had fallen to her death from one of her own traps spent to ensnare him and coax him into her control as so many others before her. It had failed. He had exposed her threat, and rather than face the shame of her betrayal as she saw the look on her face, she had thrown herself from the cliff they had climbed upon. He never found her corpse. It would have been impossible. The portion of Fairie they had thrust themselves into from his alternate London had a wild river that brooked no lives to cross or meander into it. Anyone who fell there was surely going to die a horrible death upon the sharp rocks that its waters surged furiously over, if not the drop itself killing them.
They reached the hundredth step, which opened up onto a somewhat large open space with branching corridors that led to different parts of the tower. One was well lit, with a Royal Guard stationed every six feet, but the others were semi-lit with only a single guard at the farthest end. Their eyes followed James and Sherlock as they stepped into view, and then were lost as they marched along the main corridor leading to the Queen’s office.
The corridor walls were peppered with rich velvet, purple cloths that hung gaily from the dark ceiling above. In their middle were portraits of magical creatures and heroes of the past, including King Arthur and Merlin. The one, who was believed to be sleeping in Avalon, somewhere deep in its earth, and the other still alive and working, but secretive and extremely hard to contact. Perhaps grieving for his lost king, or keeping watch for the fateful day when Arthur would arise to keep the prophecy made of him…to save the kingdom from darkness with Merlin by his side, his staff of power ready to strike down the enemies of the Britains.
James and Sherlock both gave each other a quick glance. They had been thinking the same thought. What if the kingdom needed him now?
Before they could reach the last door, the Royal Guard standing there stepped aside from the door and opened it wide. “They are here, Your Majesty.”
“Send them in.” She commanded, her bright and cheerful voice belying the weight she felt in her heart and soul at that moment.
She looked up from a stack of reports given her just within the hour as both men stepped into her office and gave her elegant bows She smiled, rose, then offered them each her hand, which both kissed gently, while pressing her arm with their other at the same time. She smiled into each’s face, and then motioned to two comfortable
Edwardian chairs with highbacks and plush velvet, purple cushioned backs and seats.
“You’re probably wondering why I summoned the both of you at this ungodly hour.”
“No, I wasn’t.” Sherlock spoke first.
“Nor I.” James added.
She eyed them both a moment, as if weighing the import of their words, then nodded. “I expected no less from the two of you. Then you already know.”
Sherlock nodded. James blinked his eyes.
She rose and went to her window to look out over the sleeping town of London, the fogs swirling about its towers, minarets, and river. “It’s a dark day come yet again. Will there never be an end of it?”
Neither man answered. She was talking to herself, not them.
She finally turned around to face them. “I have word that the Chinas have been invaded.”
She gestured to the stack of reports on her desk. “Just flown in by Tesla Blimps this morning.”
“By whom?” Sherlock asked, his voice tense with unspoken emotion. He knew, but he wanted confirmation.
She looked down at her hands, as if blood were all over them, and then rinsed them symbolically. “We cannot be responsible for their errors in judgment. Jules and Wells went there…”
James rose, surprised at the words. “Then that’s where they went so abruptly last night.”
“Indeed.” She said, noting the apprehension in his face. “They told you nothing?”
“Only that it was a mission of the direst sort.”
She motioned him to sit again and he did, albeit reluctantly.
“I’m afraid we cannot stop the scourge they face. It has been festering off their shores in the islands they refuse to turn over to us for protection and now gentlemen, they must face the consequences of their both their tyranny and the neglect of their citizens.”
“Their peoples shall suffer greatly.” Sherlock uttered, tasting bile in his throat as he spoke. The bitterness of the situation turned his stomach.
“Yes. But we cannot help them. The Emperor and President of the Chinas refuse aide of any sort. The will rely instead on the Kali cult to help them.”
James turned pale as a ghost, as did Sherlock.
“This is blasphemy!” James burst forth. “They align with devils…”
“Precisely, Mister Moriarity.” The Queen answered, cutting off his words by reminding him of where he was.
He settled back on his chair and sighed. “I apologize.”
“No apology needed, but accepted nevertheless.” She said with a kind smile.
“Then what is our purpose here?” James inquired.
The Queen looked to Sherlock, who spoke quietly. “The Invaders are back.”
“Them!” James uttered, the distaste thick in his voice. “They nearly destroyed our fair city last time.”
“I fear they will do much worse this time. For they have been hiding here as well as in the Chinas.”
Sherlock rose. “Then we have very little time left to prepare.”
She nodded. “Oh, but we do.”
Sherlock’s right eyebrow rose questioningly.
“You see, we have captured the Mummy Creature who started all of this. And without him to guide the others, they will be causing harm, but minimal damage.”
“Then how is it that they are invading the Chinas?” Sherlock demanded.
“Because there are two such creatures in this world.”
James turned pale again. “But that’s impossible!”
“We thought so too until Professor Challenger returned from where the first Mummy had been discovered to find out there had been more.”
“More than one?” James asked.
“Much more.” The Queen replied, her own hands shaking. “And we have no idea where they have been taken, or if they were ever taken, but instead had slipped into our various societies, waiting for the day to overrun us.”
James rose then and inclined his head. “If you’ll excuse us, Your Majesty, we will be seeking the counsel of our fellow friends in this matter.”
“Do. And then when you have discovered that which you seek…
James didn’t answer. He didn’t have to. He knew what she needed, as did Sherlock.
They exited the room, not even noticing that the Royal Guard no longer stood outside, they were so absorbed in their thoughts and worries. At least until they reached the main corridor. Sherlock stopped James. “Where are the guards?”
“Quick the Queen!” Sherlock uttered as James looked about.
They ran back to her office and flung the door open. As the door cleared their vision, they saw her standing in the widow that overlooked the Thames, with something out of a nightmare facing her, reaching for her.
She looked to Sherlock and James, smiled, and then stepped backwards, falling from view.
Both men reached for their weapons as the creature turned about to face them. It was the Mummy Creature. The original one and it was angry. Very. Very angry.
It rushed them, its mouth growing larger and larger as it closed in on them, its hands turning into metal spikes to pierce their flesh and bones.