A/N: Sorry this took so long guys. This chapter was…frustrating and horrible to write and edit. Though, on the plus side, it seems rather fitting that this goes up on the same day that series three starts filming :D
Sherlock hit the floor with a force that would be sure to leave a bruise along his left bicep. Not willing to hang about, he kicked out with his free foot and connected with a body, finding the blow was slightly cushioned (short fur, one to two centimetres). The muscles were toned and hard (a strong creature). It was either an animal or a large man (weight-lifter of some variety) wearing a fur coat. The growl that the animal let out was distinctly canine: he would have said a wolf, but that was highly unlikely in London, so more likely a husky. However, both were unlikely considering the fact that dogs didn't have hands.
The window board bounced back into place as he twisted round to look at the thing, reducing the light to nothing more than a millimetre sliver that barely penetrated the darkness. Sherlock may have excellent eye-sight, but he didn't have nocturnal vision. He could just about see a vague mass that stirred while the edges faded into darkness. He scrambled to his feet knowing he had to get away, but his back hit the wall (plaster over brick, judging by the sound) rather than finding an escape route.
A loud sniff cut through the air and the floor creaked. The creature was shifting its weight (the creak, strain of the floor-boards and what he had summarised of muscle density placed its weight closer to 14 stone rather that his original 12-stone guess), alerting its next move to Sherlock. The detective ducked to his right just in time to dodge his opponent's charge. The creature slammed into the wall and the room shook. It must have been heavier than Sherlock predicted to do that (at least 16 stone) or perhaps the shock came from elsewhere (the vibrations through the floor were very prominent). There was a slight rustle and the creature sounded as if it was sitting, most likely stunned from the impact. Taking advantage of the short break, Sherlock shoved his hand into his pocket and roughly pulled out his phone. Tapping on the screen, he cast some extra light in the room. It wasn't much (five watts), but at least he should be able to…
No, it was useless. It was impossible to see what his eyes claimed they saw in the dim, they must be playing tricks on him in the restricted light (which was almost as unlikely as what he was seeing. His sight was perfect, only time failing him due to the effect of a drug). A creature like that wouldn't be able to move, let alone track anything across London. Yet, as the creature shock its head, the sound and the movements matched perfectly. He saw the creature shift and the floorboards groaned in time (thicker floorboards than originally supposed, a part of his brain rationalised), but then the mind could play remarkable tricks on a person to match the senses.
'It's a clever trick,' he told himself, as he side-stepped another charge, 'but it's still a trick.'
Sherlock moved aside a third time, towards the centre of the room, but he wasn't so lucky. The hand grabbed him tightly by his elbow, pulled and swung him round. His phone flew out of his hand from the unexpected force and the breath fled him as he hit the wall (the impact would cause cracks in the plaster). A hand enclosed around his throat; it was definitely not human but his mind refused to focus on what it was as his airways constricted and oxygen failed to reach the rest of his body. He tried to pry the hand away from his neck, a futile attempt; he would die before he loosened that grip. He let go with his right hand and struck out with a boxer's blow, catching the monster on the muzzle (yes definitely muzzle-like and distinctly wolf-like). Whimpering, it let go and the detective slid to the floor. Canines, he knew, often had noses highly sensitive to impact as well as to smell.
There was a rush of footsteps (spacing between footfalls indicated sprinting), and a loud bang as the door burst open. A sixty-watt bulb flared into life. He blinked several times and looked up for his first clear glimpse of the creature that towered over him. He found his breath catching for reasons other than restricted airways and a…fear (?) he hadn't felt since Baskerville. This…the…it wasn't possible. He understood now why he'd been unable to identify the creature before. It wasn't an animal, it was several.
In the full light of the room, as well as the hallway's light, there was no denying what he saw before him. It wasn't possible to entertain the prospect that the creature before him wasn't real. The idea that it was an impressive animal suit immediately fled his mind. It was too big for one person, two people could never move like that and it was far too realistic. Drugs then, or an illusion, but that conclusion fell through without taking any hold. He had felt the hot air against his face, smelt the meat on its breath. When he had hit the creature, he was hitting flesh that was really there beneath the fur and skin. It moved, rippled and reacted in a way that could not be faked. The grip around his throat moments ago was not something that could purely be a figment of his imagination.
It had been the torso and arms of the gorilla that made up its upper body. His eyes travelled #to where the gorilla's body seamlessly fused with the hind legs and body of a lioness (both animals still young, both developing and relatively small/light. Lioness, twenty months. Gorilla, around 8 years). The only line was where one set of fur blended into the other. There were no stitches, no scar line, nothing. He could not see how the two parts had been attached to one another. The head was no better. His first guess had been right, it was a wolf, but this creature shouldn't be able to move, to think, to see. It should be impossible for someone to successfully take apart three different animals and then attach them together so it pumped blood around the millions of vessels and send thousands of electrical impulses between three vastly different biological bodies that should be dead. Spinal cords, circulatory systems, immune systems, all totally incompatible. They shouldn't be able to do that after being separated from their owners, he didn't understand how it was alive. He didn't know who had the technology and the knowledge to create this…thing.
The creature didn't seem to notice the light, its focus on the shocked detective under him, raising its fist to strike again.
A sharp whistle from the doorway suddenly drew the creature's attention away and both of them turned to see The Doctor standing, holding the sphere before him. "This is what you want, isn't it?" the man spoke again, waving the object before him as the creature's eyes became rooted on the globe. The arm fell, seeming to forget all about Sherlock as it turned to the other man. "Yes, that's it. Come and get the shiny orb. Yeees. That's a good Henchman." The Doctor watched closely as the creature slowly stalked towards him, speaking to it as if it were a particularly stupid child or dog. "That's a good boy. Now, fetch!"
The man threw the sphere and it shot through the boarded window (at a trajectory to hit street-level 15.6-15.9 yards away), creating a small exit-hole. As soon as the sphere disappeared the Henchman ran after it, crashing through what remained of the boards and into thin air. Judging from the startled cry that accompanied the breaking twigs as it flew into the tree, it had either forgotten it was upstairs, didn't know or it hadn't occurred to it that jumping would cause painful injuries. Four seconds later there was a heavy thud as flesh hit the concrete pavement. It wasn't dead though; a creature that size and strength falling only five metres would only have some broken bones, but wouldn't die.
"Are you alright?" The Doctor rushed to his side, but Sherlock simply brushed him off.
"I'm fine," he rasped out from his abused throat.
"You sure? You don't sound fine."
"Positive. It will heal."
"If you're sure," he relented before continuing, "We need to get downstairs before it returns. I've bought some time but it will be back for us. All depends on how long it spends looking for the sphere." The man turned and strode to the door, Sherlock quickly following.
"You threw it out the window."
"It was you or the sphere and you're a lot harder to replace."
"I wanted to examine it."
"Yes, well you can examine it later, when we're done. First we need to block that signal, unless you want to run from chimeras for the rest of your life." The man slipped out of the room and down the hallway towards the stairs, once again forcing Sherlock to follow his lead. Annoyed by this aggravating pattern, he snapped out a retort.
"It's not a chimera."
The Doctor stopped at the top of the stairs. "Sorry?"
"The Chimera was a three-headed monster, with the foreparts of a lion, the middle-parts of a goat and a snake for its tail, therefore it isn't a chimera," he was unwilling to admit at this point that the meaning of the word had changed over time, he was going to get back on top. The Greeks often combined different animal to make different creatures, the chimera just happened to be the most famous. It was a small fact that he had absorbed from Mycroft during his brother's obsession with the classics. It was completely useless and under normal circumstances he would have 'deleted' the information, but it was difficult to discard anything to do with his brother. One never knew when the slightest detail maybe useful when dealing with his sibling. "Unless you're talking about the medical term, in which case you're even further off."
The other man gave him a long look that was somehow vaguely bemused but not at the content at his words. "I was talking in more general terms," there was a sharp, but soft intake of breath and a small curious frown creased his brow. "You really are a stickler for details," and then he was gone, quickly descending the steps, leaving him in no better a position than when he started.
The Doctor stood at the base of the steps, hand resting against the wall as he examined it. He pressed an ear against the cracked, white-washed surface, running his hand over the wall. "Perception filter?" he muttered as Sherlock stepped onto the bottom stair. "Maybe…no, just a wall. Door's been removed, it was here though."
Sherlock couldn't see any indication that a door had been there at any point in time, but his attention quickly passed over it to something far less subtle; the gaping hole in the wall (one and a half meters tall and 80 centimetres at its widest) that lead to the outside.
"That wasn't there when we entered the building."
"It wasn't there before you entered the building." The Doctor passed him by, moving down the corridor.
Catching the meaning, Sherlock stepped closer to the new entrance. "You made it?"
"How did you think I got in?" he asked as he fiddled with the door under the stairs, sounding a little surprised at the question.
However, he would need explosives to do that and he couldn't hide those on his person, not enough to make this large a hole. On top of that, the bricks that lay scattered on the floor were whole. That would not have happened if explosives had been used.
"You didn't use explosives."
"Nope, just my trusty sonic screwdriver, doing what it does best," he added more distractedly. He could hear the man rustling behind him, searching his pockets, followed by the familiar high-pitched whirring noise. He was opening the door…oh, of course, but a wall and a door were two completely different things.
He could hear shifting and sniffing from the outside. "Doctor," he warned, stepping back from the gap and towards his companion.
"I know. Just another minute, this lock is a little tricky…" Sherlock could hear the henchman approaching coming up to the hole of an entrance in the back of the house. The consulting detective scanned the area for escape route, finding his options sorely limited. Scooping down he picked up one of the bricks (weighing 2,238 g, would cause sufficient damage if wielded correctly) scattering the floor. Just in case…
He could hear the small door open and felt a sharp tug on the back of his coat as he was pulled in after the Doctor and the door slammed shut behind them. The first thing he noted, as his companion attempted to lock the door with his sonic screwdriver (something he'd yet to be convinced of), was the low hum that seemed to fill the room and how this room seemed to be brighter than any other in the house. The hum was distinctive: computers. And not just one, but many small ones. Turning round, he set his sights on the old shop floor.
It had clearly been, until recently, a local corner shop (he quickly decided that in the larger scheme of things, the question of why the cupboard-under-the-stairs led to the shop floor was irrelevant). The rows of shelves were still intact, running down the centre of the room, but now they held computers and machines, not day-to-day necessities. Opposite them, sitting against the right-hand wall, sat a huge supercomputer. However it was more accurate to say it was several small computers attached and piled on top of each other to reach the ceiling (the satellite dish was on the other side of the wall). In the centre of the tower was a very large radio, and beside it a discarded microwave.
All the machines appeared to be custom jobs, using a mix of components that had to have been ordered in and imported from specialists, generic parts from main-stream dealers and mechanisms from a wide range of everyday appliances. He took a step forward, careful not to catch his feet on the mass of wires that carpeted the floor. However, apart from these devices, and a standard looking PC screen and keyboard, where the cash register should be, it appeared as if the rest of the room had be cleared out (several light shapes, mainly rectangular, along the walls, patches of thinner dust along the shelves/floors, as well as dents and scuff marks on the floor) and recently so.
There was a loud bang as the Henchman threw himself against the closed door. Sherlock didn't flinch or acknowledge it. If it was throwing itself against the door then it clearly couldn't get in yet, though judging from the cracking and creaking of the wood, they only had another four minutes, four minutes and thirteen seconds if they were lucky.
"We don't have long," The Doctor confirmed his thoughts, appearing beside him. "We need to…oh, this is beautiful!" The man's face lit up as he dashed forward to look at the enormous machine and the contraptions around it. "I mean, really ingenious. I'd love to meet the mastermind behind all of this. They didn't have a psychic transmitter, so they just got bits and bobs they could find on Earth and made-do. See here, they tried using a microwave, isn't that clever! 'Cause the radio was a better idea, only problem is that they have to avoid interfering with other signals, not easy in London. They must have created a whole new wavelength. Drawback is that they can't send complicated messages, short and simple. If they wanted to do more then they'd need resources you can't find here, not in this time anyway. You'd need a real mind to drive it properly, so whoever did all this clearly didn't want to stick around and watch. They've just left it on autopilot. Most of the energy this sends out now goes on keeping those Henchmen up and running."
"They're essentially remote-controlled robots, just made with flesh rather than metal and wires. They aren't alive; they're just a shell for the program. The computer here," he indicated to the ones on the shelves, "contains the data, travels through the wires and is then converted to be broadcasted across London. The Henchmen must have receivers inside them somewhere."
The door buckled, threatening to give way at any moment.
"We have less than a minute before we're joined by your friend."
"My friend!? You were the one who was getting close and personal earlier."
There was another loud bang and the wood cracked.
"He's about to get up close and personal to both of us."
"No problem." He pulled out his screwdriver again and flipped it on. However, this time his face fell after eight seconds. "Ah, it's deadlocked. Another way then... I can't see a power source, no mains plug. Oh, power inside, a powerful one. So not just 20th century technology. That makes sense, can't be a human from-"
He was abruptly cut off when the door burst open and the creature crashed to the floor before them. The Doctor backed away as it picked itself off the ground and slowly blinked. Its eyes remained fixed on The Doctor as the man backed away, edging round the side of the room.
"It would appear as if you have its undivided attention," Sherlock commented.
"Yes," he replied, cautiously moving into the empty half of the room. "I think you'll-"
"Keep him busy," Sherlock interrupted, taking advantage of the beast's distraction to back towards the only keyboard and screen in the room.
"Oh, yes! Distract the big ugly walking patchwork quilt! And what are you doing?"
Sherlock skipped over the wires that led from the hard drives to the screen and keyboard. Swinging round the short counter he looked at the screen. "Hacking into the system, of course. It goes down, then so does the creature. I thought that would be obvious, based on what you've said." Power light was flashing, on sleep mode. Why leave it on sleep mode? Didn't matter presently. He hit the 'enter' button and watched the screen flicker into life.
"Oh, you're just going to hack into an alien computer, are you?"
"Naturally." He frowned at the screen as a series of white circles scrawled themselves onto the display.
"So you're just going to waltz into the system with a few taps. Who d'you think you are? Me?"
"No, I'm better." He tapped the keys and watched the circles shift and change. A code then.
"Be-," his outraged reply was abruptly cut off as the Henchman launched itself at him. The Doctor ducked to the side, away from Sherlock and the path of his attacker. The creature didn't quite reach him though. Its aim was true, but rather than make the bound in one leap, it landed on the centre isle of shelves. The paws settled on the plastic and, unable to hold the foreign weight, it collapsed in on itself bringing the creature and the computers crashing to the floor. The Doctor briskly crawled round the edge of the shelves, closest to the door to look at the scene.
"That was close. I was nearly squished like a pancake there."
Sherlock barely glanced at the creature or the man. He was more focused on the screen in front of him, but no matter what he did, the screen refused to change from series of circles. He even tried the standard 'Ctrl Alt Del' combination, to no avail. Even if the circles were some kind of code, without a starting point, his own Rosetta Stone, he couldn't begin to decode it in the limited space of time they had. This wasn't as simple as one of Mycroft's government lackey's codes.
He slammed his palms down on the counter in irritation. Damn it. He quickly slid his eyes over to the hostile creature to check his outburst hadn't drawn unwelcome attention, and paused.
The Henchman writhed as it tried to roll back to its feet amongst the broken equipment (odd that it hadn't risen yet, must be disorientated). When it clumsily rose to its feet, it shook its head, turning left and then right before sniffing the air. Following its nose, the head turned to the Doctor (loss of eyesight). The Henchman took a step forward, but stumbled feebly as the front legs crossed over each other and drastically miscalculated where the floor was (motor functions damaged as well). Whatever had been damaged in the fall had taken the creature's sight and motor functions with it.
He quickly bent down and searched the back of the computer screen. He followed the cables to the nearest hard-drive. Slipping round the counter, cautious of the Henchman stumbling around, he edged round until he was by the fallen equipment. The Henchman stumbled round, dragging itself closer to the Doctor by the second.
"It's disorientated," The Doctor began, stating the obvious, and shifted his weight to scramble out of the creature's way when it lunged forward, "If you-"
"I know what I need to do," Sherlock cut in and the other man spluttered in indignation. Perhaps he would have replied, but instead his attention was taken up by this predator's advance. It half-dragged its way across the floor towards him, then lashed out blindly, missing a red converse by a hair's breadth, and fell to the ground again.
He crouched down by the closest hard-drive that had been knocked to the floor, but still appeared to be functioning. A quick scan of the wires at the back told him which ones were important. He grabbed them in his fist, pulled… and it exploded.
It wasn't a large explosion, just a small pop that was barely audible over the snarling beast and a small tremor that ran through the casing. Black smoke drifted up through the cracks and into the air. There was another small pop, and another, and another as a chain reaction was set off through all the small computers and a wisp of smoke drifted up from many sources. The hum of machines died down and the life from large complex of computers faded with the Henchman's. The creature, half risen, collapsed back onto the ground, its head lolling back onto the ground and clearly dead.
"Well," the Doctor started from where he still sat on his hands and knees. "That was anti-climactic."
Sherlock was about to comment that having your life saved could hardly be described as anti-climactic, but he found himself agreeing with the odd man. Looking up, he met the strangers gaze, seeing his own thoughts and feelings reflected on the other man's face. A small bubble rose in his belly and the struggle only lasted a moment before they both burst out laughing.
Well, there's the pre-arch. I'll be honest, I'm not really happy with this conclusion at all, but hopefully the others will be better. As my beta-reader/brother said, 'can't always have a personal best.' Anyway, feel free to leave your own thoughts on it. I'm open to comment on con. crit.
The basic set-up of this fic will be a series of arcs, each lasting 3-4 chapters (though it's looking like it will be more like 4 now) each leading up to the finale. Between each arch will be a small in-between adventures chapter. Sherlock and the Doc in their down time, so to speak.
Next chapter: Sherlock meets the TARDIS and we have a special guest.
Oh, and if you like a challenge then check this out: forum/Fictunes/129656/