Chapter One Hundred Five
As the war ships rose from the Thames they immediately began searing the merchant ships, war vessels and dockside structures with deadly swaths of living fire. It was hell on earth. Sailors, tourists, soldiers, civilians screamed and ran for their lives in a futile effort to avoid the flaming death.
A young mother with a baby carriage dashed for the safety of a building, only to have it erupt in flames. Frightened out of her wits she screamed, causing her baby to scream even more in terror as she whipped the baby carriage around to flee in another direction.
Five soldiers ran forth to cover for her, firing at the nearest of the war machines. They never missed a round, but their bullets were useless against the field of green glowing energies that lit up and flashed about the body of the war machines as it was struck.
The war machine slowly turned its evil muzzle of doom towards them and its lens flared to full fury, then the machine vanished in a halcyon of furious energies that resembled threads of force and vanished from existence.
The soldiers and woman looked up and a beautiful flying ship tore across the sky, letting loose first one bolt of powerful energies at a war ship, then launching a torpedo of the same that sawed through the air and took out another war s hip.
The woman suddenly became aware of her baby again and hurriedly swept it up into her arms and cuddled it close. "Now, now, hun, you'll be fine. You'll be fine."
The soldiers ran with her and the baby to a waiting Tesla carrier and it drove off with them, rushing from the hurricane of power weapons pounding each other behind them.
The Master of the World, the incredible ship of Jules and Wells, acquitted itself well that day, annihilating first one war ship, then another before they could move from the Thames or achieve any kind of coordinated firepower.
The sound of fire trucks and paramedics was everywhere on the docks as the last of the warships angled down against the far bank of the Thames, its muzzle of doom slowly drooping until the entire ship came to rest and never moved again.
The soldier who helped the woman and baby into the carrier gave her his coat and even though it was freezing, insisted that she use it. He pulled it close over her and the baby, smiling. "You and your old man must be very proud to have such a fine young girl. I've always wanted one."
She looked up into his eyes. Saw a kind, considerate soul she could learn to love. "I have no husband. He ran off to join the war in the India Isles and never returned."
The soldier shook his head. "How could anyone ever leave someone as beautiful as you and this fine child alone like that? Shame on him!"
She smiled. She did like him. More and more.
Later on, after they parted, but he with her address, and she with his, they would begin seeing each other frequently and one day their friendship would develop into a strapping young boy to join his older sister in play.
So even in those foul conditions where London had come so close to death and destruction, some good had come into being.
Chapter One Hundred Six
"Prepare to engage!" Captain Nemo announced as the golden Nautilus shot into the Thames channel.
Later on Captain Nemo would reveal to Sherlock and his other friends why there were no more war machines rising from the Thames. He and his crew fired their Tesla torpedoes into their underwater base and sent it to the seventh level of hell.
Harry and Moriarity looked on in awe as the Tesla device caused the massive underwater structure to be torn into numerous parts which in turn broke into many more parts, all burning fiercely, as if they were made of magnesium and not plain metal.
No one knows now or then how many poor souls died in that conflagration, but it must be assumed that there were thousands. And to that memory Captain Nemo later on constructed a beautiful underwater shrine to commemorate and remember those souls who had lost their lives in the underwater battle due to no cause of their own. It was a weight and a burden that he would bear with him to his dying days, his inability to spare those lives. For he was neither a cruel man, nor an unjust one and to take even one life in vain was to him a sin worse than death.
Chapter One Hundred Seven
Constable Evans sat on the top step of the constabulary, his eyes on the setting sun. There was so much destruction around but somehow the building still stood.
He felt a presence beside him and then Constable Evans sat next to him.
"We have a lot to talk about."
Inspector Bloodstone raised his weary head to look into the eyes of the child he had helped to bring into this world. "Yes, we do. Son."
Constable Evans smiled. Perhaps hell could sometimes bring also a piece of heaven.
Chapter One Hundred Eight
And so it was that the brave adventurers met one last time before each returned to their various occupatiaons and duties. It was a sad meeting, for many of their friends had not been saved in the cleanup that occurred afterwards. Many of the zombies escaped from the various hiding places and started a different kind of war that caused citizens to use any kind of weapon they could find to save themselves and their families.
It was a short, brutal war that caused even more death, pain and suffering for an already devastated London, but its citizens were made of proud fiber and it's Queen Mary of Scots a brave soul went from city block to city block to speak to her citizens, to encourage them and to render aide wherever possible.
The treasures of the Empire were likely to remain in short supply for decades to come, but the war for survival of man was over and it was now time to rebuild and to heal.
Sherlock stood at the window overlooking the street and smiled as he noted the many children outside playing in the snow, making snow angels and snowmen.
"It seems as if things are slowly getting back to normal." Watson said from beside him.
Sherlock turned to his friend, but he did not see him. The concussion which had rendered him blind had apparently left him that way. Watson didn't care. He was his friend. He felt another presence and turned to face James Moriarity, who was now clean shaven, dressed in a top hat and suit and a cane to support him. He stood on the other side of Sherlock.
"Don't worry, Watson, I shall be his eyes if he needs them."
"And I." Came the voice of Professor Langdon from behind.
"And I." Came the voice of Lady Shareen, holding onto the arm of her dear Lord Graystone, who looked scarred somewhat and fatigued, but as handsome as ever.
"All of us shall be his comfort and his sight." Challenger roared.
The room was silent a moment, then Mrs. Hudson in her own ineffable way lent a charm to that moment by coming into the room with a huge tray of glasses already filled. "I suggest a toast to our brotherhood."
Conan applauded. They all did as they took a glass.
Watson took a glass and put it into Sherlock's hand Sherlock put a hand over Watson's hand and squeezed. "It's good to have you home, John."
Watson smiled kindly at his friend, his heart torn with emotions. "And it's good to be here with my friend."
Sherlock nodded and raised his glass. "May we always see the Light in all the darkness we must face and may we always cherish the one real thing that life can never take away from us."
He turned towards Watson. "Friendship and love."
"Hear. Hear." Roared his friends and family.
James smiled. He already had plans for Watson and Sherlock, but had not disclosed them for fear of them not being appropriate at the time. But there was no way he was going to break up this new friendship. He had nothing but love and admiration for this man from another world. For had he not also come from another world as well.
Then they heard this tremendous droning sound in the air. They wedged into the narrow area of the window to look out. The Master of the World was descending slowly from the skies.
"I think we have much to discuss with our friends." Captain Nemo pointed out.
Harry, juggling cards between his hands, looked at the First Moriarity and smiled. "All our friends."
Moriarity gave Harry a smile that could be mistaken for nothing less than his heart in his eyes and face.
James looked on the crowd of friends, his memories finally coming back more and more clearly. There was so much to be done. So much healing and mending to do, but now was not the time to dwell on tomorrow.
He raised his own glass. "To Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Watson and the Baker Street Adventurers!"
They all cheered and drank their toasts.
Inspector Bloodstone signaled the driver to stop.
Sherlock looked at him.
"I know of a way they may not suspect."
"This way." The Inspector told them, and they piled out of the back of the Constable's wagon and followed the Inspector as he led them through the back of the Highgate Cemetery, where there were no gates, just an abandoned series of buildings that abutted it.
"I learned of these during the Ghost Caper that you helped me with Sherlock."
Sherlock gave him a puzzled look.
"I mean the other...uh...sorry."
Conan and Challenger both felt memories flush their minds for a moment, then swept them away. There was work to be done.
Edison and Tesla tossed their devices into backpacks they had jury-rigged to carry over their shoulders, then Edison pulled out his tracking device. It immediately lit up and pointed the way.
As they made their way through the maze of deserted buildings, in a decrepit door hanging on rotting and rusting hinges of wood and metal, they scented fragrances that could only be found in the detritus of humanity, the cast off wastes that most produced, but cared little to discuss.
Conan and Challenger wrapped their mufflers about their noses to mute the sharp tang of the odors, while Edison and Tesla, both engrossed in the device leading them, barely noticed.
Sherlock's mind was on the hunt and no hint of death would stop him.
The Inspector and Constable Evans levered their service revolvers to be ready in their hands, then froze as the air shimmered ahead of them.
Sherlock's face broke into a mile.
"You did make it after all."
The shimmering diminished and Professor Langdon appeared. He had a rifle over his right shoulder and bags weighted with something no one could see, but he knew were deadly explosives, made in his own laboratory per Sherlock's instructions.
"Did you ever doubt I would?"The Invisible Man, Professor Langdon, said with a sharp smile that portrayed just the slightest hint of amusement and a brace of anger.
Sherlock put a hand on his arm. "You found him then?"
Professor Langdon didn't have to speak the answer. Sherlock read it in his eyes.
He turned to the Inspector. "Follow your course. We have another path to follow."
"But there is strength in numbers!" The Inspector declared.
"The Queen's Royal Guard should be in place by the time we all reach our goals."
He turned to Challenger and Conan. "You're with me."
Edison and Tesla looked up expectantly.
"Stay with the Inspector. He needs your protection."
"I'm not a helpless old man."
"Listen to Mister Holmes, father. He knows what he's doing." Constable Evans blurted out unexpectently.
The Inspector turned to look at him sharply. "Did you just say what I heard you..."
Constable Evans moved closer and searched the man's eyes. "I did my research. You have been very clever over the years to hide the tracks of your lineage to me, but I found it nevertheless, once the clues had been lain."
Sherlock smiled at him. "We each have someone we love to protect. See that you two do as well."
Without another word he, Conan and Challenger split off and followed Professor Langdon who began to turn transparent, but only enough so that he wouldn't be easily seen, but enough so they could follow.
"When we're within fifty yards, you must go totally invisible." Sherlock insisted.
Professor Langdon began vanishing entirely.
Challenger caught Sherlock by the arm. "How shall we find where he's going then?"
Conan laughed. "Come on, Challenger. You're the big hunter. You've never tracked an animal before?"
Challenger blushed, then shoved past Conan and Sherlock and began following the footprints left by the Invisible Man, Professor Langdon.
A mongrel searching for scraps usually left behind by the Caretaker by his home, scented something that threw terror into his heart. He ran away, screaming in utter horror.
A moment later ground about the tiny building began to bulge and ripple like water during an massive rainstorm. Slowly, but steadily the building began to rise from its foundations. Even the very base of the building began to rise, as well as various cemetery stones and crosses about the building.
In a few moments the ground erupted, revealing a massive structure that was extremely polished and glowed an odd reddish color. Panels of red and green rotated about its rim, in and out of the earth dropping away from it.
Finally, a snake like hose tore through the building and the structure shattered, revealing the dome of a massive saucer shaped object and a huge snake like metallic hose with a lens of three colors at its tip that glowed faintly.
As it continued to rise it began to emit a high pitched humming sound.
For miles around every animal that could hear in that range of sound began to scream, holler and bark in terror.
The golden beauty that was the Nautilus flowed beneath the towering waves high above it like a dolphin finning for home. It moved as swiftly as the most powerful of Tesla planes of that day, of which there were few, logging in nothing less than 90 nautical knots per hour.
James, Captain Nemo, Harry Houdini and Professor Moriarity stood in the nose of the sleep vessel, watching the view forward as the powerful atomic motors of the ship drove its powerful shape through the depths of the sea towards its target.
"This is an extraordinary vehicle, Captain. I commend you on its beauty. It is nothing short of splendid and marvelous." Professor Moriarity almost cooed to the Captain.
The Captain eyed his comrade, somewhat warily.
"Yes. I suppose it is."
"I could see why you would want to live beneath this vast body of water, with such a marvelous piece of machinery to carry you about. The places you must have seen, the extreme bursts of beauty and wonder."
Captain Nemo looked at Harry, who shrugged. "It does me well."
Harry felt this strange energy in his head, then reached into his pocket and took out a minature purple crystal. He gazed into it. "It's begun. We may be too late."
Captain Nemo raised the speaker tube near him to his lips. "More power, lads. We have a date with death!"
Cheers bellowed from the earpiece and about the ship as the might vessel leaped forward even faster.
James eyed Moriarity. "None of us might escape the coming war."
"Then so be it. I can't think of a better place to die than with..."
He started to finish his sentence, but could not.
And in that moment Captain Nemo he would die for this new Moriarity as well as James. He turned back to view their path and his mouth opened to reveal a smile that was almost carnivorous in its intensity. "I have no intentions of dying this day."
Wells and Verne stood outside a quaint looking warehouse, which had the lettering Verne and Wells, Craftsmen above its main entrance. They were both wearing heavy cloaks, and pants to shield them from the freezing wind that had started blowing prior to their leaving for the warehouse.
When the Jungle Lord's call rang across the streets and alleyways citizens looked around to locate the source of the sound. Many hurriedly threw closed doors and shutters in case it was more of the mayhem that had invaded the city over the last weeks. Others, whose curiosity, or perhaps morbidity was greater stayed outside straining their necks and eyes to catch what was going on and none of them were prepared for what came next.
They saw the atmosphere begin to curdle, and then whirl like a giant pool in the ocean that sometimes caught unwary sea travelers, but what they expected to happen next did not happen. Instead the hole continued to enlarge. That frightened them more than the yell which repeated again. For coming out of the hole was the mightiest and largest dragon ever beheld by human eyes. They could not possibly know that it was the friend of the Jungle Lord and the King of Dragons. They only knew that hell was on the way.
Everyone dashed for cover, whether it was in a friend's shop or home, they didn't care. They rushed for safety.
"It's come to this, and then has it Wells."
"Yes, I'm afraid so, dear Jules."
Jules looked at his friend. "We had hoped not to be in another war."
"Hopes are the fruit of bubbles; they rapidly grow and rapidly break." Wells replied.
Jules smiled. "To it then?"
"Yes. To it."
They threw open the warehouse doors, and then rushed inside, vanishing from view in the stygian darkness of the interior.
Lady Shareen almost physically shoved Sherlock from the window as she rushed to it, then cupped her own hands and let out her own version of the bull dragon's call. A few moments later it was returned, but with a different inflection to it.
She took a deep breath, and then replied herself. This went on for some time to the consternation of all inside the sitting room, and then she stopped and turned to Sherlock.
"He's found the original."
"There we will find Watson!" Sherlock deduced.
He ran for his cloak and hat, threw his pistol into his coat jacket, then ran down the stairs, followed a few moments later by Challenger and Conan.
They reached the street just as Inspector Bloodstone arrived with Constable Evans in tow, followed by Edison and Tesla with strange devices in their hands.
Sherlock stopped them.
"This will be our final battle. And our last stand if need be. None must leave that ground we go to. None, do you hear?"
"Not even Watson?"
Sherlock stiffened, and then slowly nodded. "If he has fallen to the infection, we will have no choice. We must all..." He looked at all his friends and companions. "We must not fail him in the end, even if it means the end!"
With that final word Sherlock climbed into the back of Constable Evans wagon and the others piled into the back with him, all preparing their weapons as they did so.
Before Inspector Bloodstone climbed in he said. "The Queen has been notified. We will have backup this time."
Sherlock nodded as Inspector Bloodstone leaped inside, then slammed the doors shut, hiding all from view.
Lady Shareen looked back to Madame Curie and Mrs. Hudson. "Do not open the front door for anyone until you know it is one of us. Do not open these shutters after I am gone. And more importantly, do not fear. If death calls, then I shall gladly meet it."
She caught Mrs. Hudson's eye, knowing she was fearful again. "I will not come back alive if I cannot bring back Dear John as well."
With that she stepped outside the window, and then dove into the air. Simultaneously a great wing dipped into view and swept her onto it. She climbed rapidly along the leathery wing; hand over hand, until she could threw herself behind her beloved Jungle Lord, Lord Graystone.
He looked into her eyes. "This may be out last battle."
"Then let it save John at the least. I would not have our dear Mrs. Hudson grieve anymore."
He smiled a smile that would frighten most, but which she recognized as the smile of a man who ate challenges for breakfast and tamed dragons for lunch. "It shall be as you say."
He gave her a swift, sweet kiss, and then urged the King of Dragons high into the air.
The Highgate Cemetery Gatekeeper wiped at the drippings from his nose with a glove that had holes in its fingers. His fingertips were blue from the cold, but his old eyes, which had seen nobles and commoners buried, rich and famous interred therein, thought nothing of what else might be facing him for the night. He had heard many a strange noise at night, but during the day it had abated and so he had given it no more thought.
As he swung the massive gates shut for the evening he saw something move past the periphary of his vision, but when he turned to look he couldn't see a thing. He shrugged his heavily coated shoulders, and dragged his muffler tighter about his throat. Time to get inside, wood up the fire, and break out his brandy to warm up his guts. A good time to relax with his favorite evening drink and toast his bare toes near the fire.
His terrier would be waiting for him to feed him. He looked forward to that; the old dog had been his friends for almost twenty years. It was an ancient animal and others might have tried to release him from his pain of aging, but he had always thought then why do not people do that with each other if they value life so little. No his "Gertie," would live as long as he.
A prediction that was soon to become true as he trudged along the wet snowy path to his one room caretaker's cottage and flung open the door. What he saw on the floor was his dead friend. That threw him into a fit of utter misery. He rushed forward and dropped to his knees to hold his friend once more, and then felt a presence behind him.
He looked over his shoulder, and then his eyes widened with terror as something slimy struck at him faster than a cobra.