Lady Shareen saw the pavement hurtling towards her, only scant yards away, when the Jungle Lord was knocked down by Watson from behind. Before she could strike the pavement, the Jungle Lord had rolled over, up to his feet again and caught her. He whirled her to her feet, and without a word swung around towards Watson, who was just getting to his feet.
"Lord Graystone, I seem to have lost my balance." He muttered, confused and dazed.
Lady Shareen looked at her mate, and he at her. Neither said a thing about what had happened, and what could have happened.
Lord Graystone and Lady Shareen sat side by side on the couch, holding hands, as if they would never let go. The near death experience for them had caused both to do a lot of thinking. But they weren't ready to announce anything yet, but everyone could tell by glancing at them, that something had changed. They could also tell that Watson had changed as well, for he sat near the fireplace, avoiding the glances of Mrs. Hudson, as if she were poison to him.
Had they known the personal turmoil he was going through at that moment because of the prior events of that day and night, they might have judged him differently as to his manner.
"I see." Sherlock said, as Challenger and Conan came to a close on their work. His eyes had never left Watson, even as the two distinguished gentlemen and friend had disclosed what they had found out at the Museum.
Professor Langdon stood up to speak next, as his two friends reseated themselves. He was nervous. It had been a long time since so many of the Baker Street Adventurers were in the same room together. Christmas was the last, and even then, not so many. As most had jobs and loved ones that drew them away for extended periods of time, they always took comfort in renewing their relationships and sharing their adventures. But this meeting was different. The atmosphere grave and tense, the weight of the situation heavily bothering all.
"I finished the analysis of the stone and metal..." He glanced towards Tesla and Edison, who stood at the back of the sitting room near the doorway, each holding a cup of tea in their hands, but not drinking. Both men looked haggard and worn from their worries, fears and doubts, and from lack of sleep. Neither had slept a wink thinking about the possibilities of the crime that had been committed in their factory.
"...And with the help of these two dear friends." He nodded towards Tesla and Edison, who acknowledged him with nods of their heads. "And their equipment, which fortunately, remain unharmed from the recent break-in, I have discovered several relevant facts...or perhaps not, depending on how they are interpreted."
Just as he was prepared to speak again, there came a loud pounding on the front door.
Mrs. Hudson, who had been hovering near Watson jumped to her feet. "Sherlock, are we expecting anyone else?"
Sherlock smiled. "You better get the door, the Inspector hates to wait for anything."
"Oh!" She gasped, then hurried out.
They heard the pound of her footsteps, then some light cursing from below, then Inspector Bloodstone came up the stairs and into the room, shaking a light dusting of snow from his shoulders. He spotted the teapot on the table and without asking, went to it and poured himself a cup. After he had taken a long drink, he looked around. He was startled, for he hadn't realized so many would be here and certainly not the Captains of the Industry of so much in the Greater Britains.
"I hope I haven't interrupted anything." He finally said, gathering his wits about him.
Sherlock got up. "Have a seat, dear Inspector. I suspect your duties have left you little time for rest."
The Inspector gave Sherlock a grateful look, then sat down. "I don't suppose..."
He wasn't able to finish. Mrs. Hudson came into view with a fresh tray of sandwiches. She set them down and brought a small plate with two of them for him. He gave her a look of absolute adoration and thanks, as he began eating ravenously.
"As I was beginning to say." Professor Langdon went on. "There is no doubt after the severe analysis and repeated analysis of the samples brought by good Challenger and Conan, that they are not of our world."
The Inspector choked on that last word.
Challenger began pounding on his back. Mrs. Hudson hurriedly handed him back his cup of tea which he gratefully accepted, and drank deeply of, finishing it. He wiped his mouth and mustache with a napkin, then eyed Professor Langdon sternly. "Am I to believe you are saying that this rock you found is not from our planet?"
"And..." Professor Langdon went on.
The Inspector about to bite into a new sandwich, set it back down.
"And...it is man-made. Or rather. Appears to be."
The Inspector's face paled at the words.
The others in the room began talking excitedly.
Harry Houdini, who had been absent during the earlier days of investigation, stood up to speak. "Do you have the sample with you, Challenger?"
Challenger reached into his pocket and took out a cloth sack. He tossed it to Harry, who caught it deftly in his right hand, then proceeded to open it.
Everyone in the room looked on in curiosity as he took out the samples and dumped them onto the table with the food. "Mrs. Hudson, if I may..."
She smiled, then began moving the food, plates and silverware away from the samples. Finally, she set them on an empty tray and looked to Harry, who gave her a grateful nod.
He looked at everyone.
"What I am about to do is not stage magic. This is real. When I was last in Fairie..." He glanced at Lord Graystone, who gave him a nod. "My good friends there." This time Lady Shareen gave him a smile. "Introduced me to a certain Elf. He is one of the Twelve, Elders of the Race of Elves. They have accumulated much lore and magical abilities over the thousands of the years, and are typically over a thousand years old themselves."
The Inspector began choking again.
Harry withdrew a small bag of magical powder from his jacket, and sprinkled a small portion of it over the samples. They began to glow softly.
Challenger just watched, but Conan let out a sound of awe. He was still not used to the magic of this world and reality, even though it had been some years now since he had arrived from his death to his dear old world.
Lady Shareen clasped Lord Graystone's right hand tighter and he gripped her back, giving her assurances as Harry began chanting ancient Elfish tongue over the samples. The samples began to glow brighter and brighter. As they did a bubble of light arose from them and began to open up wider and wider.
Those closest fell back from it, unsure of what was going on.
Only Sherlock stood his grounds, an amused look on his face.
Watson, on the other hand, was staring at the bubble, his eyes hard and his face filled with anger. No one saw that but Mrs. Hudson who crossed herself and edged away from him, not knowing what was going on, what had changed him.
In a few minutes the bubble opened up into a screen of images that showed a red planet. The view of the planet was from space, but rapidly nearing the planet.
"What you are seeing are the memories of the samples." Harry explained.
The Inspector, awestruck by the view, blurted out. "But rocks and metal don't have memories, my dear Houdini."
"Oh, but yes they do. Because our civilization is dumb to their voices and eyes, does not mean they do not exist as such." Harry replied in a professorial tone.
The atmosphere of the planet was slight and soon the view smashed through it towards a deep crater.
Conan rose, stuck a hand against his mouth, then spoke. "I recognize that crater! It is upon Mars. The Red Planet Mars."
Mutterings and dumbfounded noises went about the room.
Watson's eyes narrowed, as if he were a snake about to strike.
Mrs. Hudson nudged Sherlock, who looked at her, then the direction of her eyes. His face remained normal, but his eyes narrowed. He glanced at her and gave her a slight nod of reassurance, then put a finger to his lips.
The view smashed into the crater and then into the wall of the crater where it stopped in a very strange, hollow cavern filled with huge stone-like structures. About the floor of the cavern crawled hordes of slimy-looking creatures, all eight to ten feet tall.
"Bloody Hell!" Challenger shouted in response.
The vision shattered.
Watson jumped up and ran towards Harry, pulling out his weapon as he did so. He never made it that far. Sherlock caught his weapon hand and stopped him, the same time as Lord Graystone lifted him off the ground between his bulging arms and clasped him so tight he couldn't even kick.
Watson began to froth at the mouth and scream. "Let me go! Let me go!"
Mrs. Hudson burst into tears and fled the room.
Lady Shareen rushed after her.
Sherlock looked into the face of his friend. "My dear Watson, whatever has come of you?"
Then Watson stopped trying to break free, shut up and collapsed in Lord Graystone's arms, his head falling to his chest.
Lord Graystone gave Sherlock a frightened look. "He's not breathing!"
He gently laid Watson down on the couch. Sherlock put a hand to Watson's chest, then to his throat and looked up, his eyes moist with tears. "My friend is gone!"
Sherlock lifted his head back and let out a cry like a wounded animal, then screamed. "Nooooo!"