The final part! Can I just say that Moriarty is eerily fun to write? Thank you.
Let me know if you liked it!
John, Donovan and Lestrade hurried into the warehouse. They slowed almost immediately; none of them knowing quite what to make of the sight.
Illuminated, Sherlock stood next to a wrecked laptop, and a tall block of wood; he kept the gun pointed at the electrical system, as if it could suddenly burst into life.
"Ok," it was Lestrade who spoke next; "So what is going on?"
"I'll explain it in the car," Sherlock looked up; his expression instantly switching from despair to excitement. "Come on!"
The trio glanced at one another, not sure what to make of anything, as Sherlock dashed past them; he stopped beside Liz, speaking softly to her for a moment, before glancing up at Lestrade.
"She's coming with us; she's involved. Donovan, you return to the gallery; tell them we should be getting the painting back too. John, Lestrade: we need a car, and something that'll let us track the phone," the detective barely seemed to be breathing. "Quickly! I don't know how long we've got."
"Since when were you in charge?" Donovan shouted, moving after Holmes; catching up with him beside a police car, outside.
"Since I started working to catch you James Moriarty," Sherlock replied, not even turning around, before pointing at one of the many cars. "That one!"
In barely a minute, everything he'd asked for had been achieved. Lestrade, Liz, Sherlock and John sat in the back of a police car, with the driver leading them quickly through the thin, busy roads of London.
Sherlock had given the directions. Using police hardware, he'd connected to a network, and was apparently using a GPS signal to trace something. Whatever the target was, it had just left London; and the driver of the car was anxiously trying to follow it.
The sirens did a good job of clearing the road; but there were still an awful lot of cars and queues that it was impossible to get through. Still, eventually, they were able to escape the main city: and the driver broke the speed limit as soon as the road was clear, followed by a handful of other police cars.
It was their car that lead the way; the driver following the GPS signal.
Once they were on a clearer road, keeping a few turnings away from the target, the driver slowed down. They didn't want to be seen too soon: Sherlock had made that clear. They wanted to wait until the car stopped, properly, before they caught up.
It was when the semi-chase had calmed down, that Lestrade at last spoke up.
"Ok then, what the hell is going on?"
Sherlock turned away from the window, now facing the DI: he smiled to himself, evidently enjoying something.
"Do you want the story from the beginning, or just what we're doing now?" Sherlock spoke so calmly; happy to take his time. Meanwhile, the cars moved at a comfortable pace.
"Both would be good," Lestrade muttered, before sighing. "First, what are we chasing?"
"The painting," Holmes said it as if it were obvious. "I broke open the frame, put my phone inside, and resealed it; it's the phone we're tracking. When it stops and slows to a walking pace, we've found the art dealer who bought it: the same one that was after the Ryder, a case I also took. And I know for a fact that, in the case of the Ryder, Moriarty himself handed it over: I'd say this Turner was worth more, so he should be there as well. Apparently this art dealer makes quite a few exchanges with Moriarty: there should be a wealth of stolen paintings, as well as the spider himself."
Silence; Lestrade looked grudgingly impressed, recalling the name 'Moriarty'.
John turned to glance back over the driver's shoulder, watching the GPS. They were close enough to be able to quickly catch up; but far enough to be unnoticed.
"And from the start," Sherlock lay back, taking a deep breath. "I've mentioned the Ryder; another painting, also stolen and sold by Moriarty. Soon deduced that he was behind it; and my brother, Mycroft, approached me. I wouldn't normally work with him; but for Moriarty, it was worth it. I also spoke with a turncoat, who worked with the art dealer: that's how we found out Moriarty handled the transfers himself. Perfect."
John nodded, slowly managing to piece things together. He had the feeling that he could guess most of the rest just from what they had already. Still, he let the detective continue. Liz listened also; though her eyes were looking out the window. She seemed to glad to have left the warehouse.
"That was all we needed to know," Sherlock's account of things had barely slowed: "The plan was to steal a valuable painting, and have someone ask for Moriarty's help in selling it. That was what Liz was for; part of my homeless network, and willing to join in. We soon managed to set up a meeting with Moriarty; and of course, I couldn't go. He'd recognize me immediately, as he would Mycroft, or John, or anyone I normally work with. So we used Liz; she went to the warehouse, and made a deal with Moriarty. She'd steal the Turner; and he'd find a buyer."
As John had predicted. The blogger smiled to himself, glancing sideways; Lestrade was listening, intent.
At least they couldn't really charge Sherlock any more: it would be easy to involve 'extraordinary circumstances' in the court case, or perhaps some technicality involving the security arrangements: so long as Mycroft regained the painting, he could say it was all for security purposes.
"She was to return to the warehouse a day after the story was in the papers," Sherlock carried on, unfaltering. "So the crime had to take that long for you to solve. I could have made it a perfect crime, but then Moriarty would see my involvement, or think I'd intended him to see it; so, instead, I just made it confusing. Mycroft explained the situation to the guards: made sure all of them would let Liz through. She can tell you what happened there," the detective lay back, at last breathing in once more.
He was relaxed; comfortable. Somehow the fact they were driving after a criminal art dealer and James Moriarty didn't faze him.
Liz on the other hand, was evidently slightly more nervous. She fiddled with a credit card, flicking it between her fingers; toying.
"The guards let me through, as he said," she began; more confident here than she had been against Moriarty. "I walked into the painting's room, made everything as confusing as I could. Any security systems were off; I walked through the room with different shoes on, put a chair up, before knocking it over. Then I climbed up at a different spot, and went into the ceiling there. I put the painting up there, and left it there. It would be seen if I pushed it out then: I left it by a gap that'd already been cut. Then I left: walked back out again, and waited for tomorrow."
Liz hesitated there, glancing out the window, and at the GPS: when would they be at the art dealer's location?
"I waited outside the gallery," the woman spoke again; "When Sherlock came, I went to the right point outside, and waited for the police officers to enter. When the gap in the wall appeared, the bricks taken away, I reached up to catch the painting. Someone took a photo of it; they were part of the plan, to reveal it to the police at the right time. I walked to a car, and the driver of it took it away to Baker Street."
Lestrade nodded slowly; knowing what would have happened after. The phone had been fit inside the frame, and the painting left inside 221C until today.
One day after the theft was reported in the papers; Sherlock had let the police know what was happening via an arranged witness, with the photo he'd arranged, so they'd break into 221C. In there, they'd read the letter he'd left them.
And in that time, Sherlock would have escaped his room and headed for the warehouse: having moved the painting to wherever it was meant to be.
"Even you should be able to guess the rest," Sherlock suddenly spoke again. "Obviously Moriarty wasn't actually in the warehouse; but if I acted as though he was, then he wouldn't suspect we could track the painting."
"Wait," John interjected, frowning: "How did you know Moriarty wasn't waiting in the warehouse?"
"Really John?" Sherlock seemed disappointed: "It was obvious that he wouldn't be interested, but most of all, remember the illustrated client?"
"What?" Watson hesitated, trying to.
He could; eventually. They'd been visited by a man with something for Sherlock to investigate; he'd been covered in tattoos, prompting the nickname. Holmes hadn't been interested in taking the case; admittedly, John could see why. It was more a curiosity than a crime. The client had been able to access the Internet at a point they hadn't expected to be able to.
"They were able to reach the Internet: right outside that warehouse," Sherlock said it as if it were the meaning of life; "Why? Boring by itself, fine: but the same warehouse that Moriarty was in? Why would Internet access suddenly appear there? Because Moriarty arranged it: and why? There's no reason for it, unless it's needed for something: obvious deduction is that he's sending a transmission. Moriarty said he was in Switzerland; but he has to be lying. He'd be involved in an exchange of this much money."
At last, the detective was quiet, having explained the whole basis behind the plan. Even Mycroft had been involved; and if Moriarty was behaving as, apparently, he normally did, then the police would at last be able to catch him.
No questions were asked; they had a few, but the most pressing were answered, and now didn't seem like the right time.
"Hold on," Lestrade suddenly said; turning to the homeless woman. He hesitated for a moment.
"Liz," she prompted.
"Liz," the DI echoed; "You were paid for the painting? How much? You know you can't keep it, right? Stolen property."
"I know," she couldn't help but feel slightly disappointed; wordless, she gestured with the credit card she was holding. "They made a bank account."
"Twenty four million pounds," Sherlock cut in; "I heard."
Liz glanced up to him; surprised, but she soon schooled her expression. She nodded. Lestrade's eyes widened slightly at the size of the number.
Liz suppressed an amused smile; what would his expression be if he knew it was twenty six million?
"Right," the DI soon continued. "When we get back to the station, you can transfer that to a charity of your choice."
Silence, at last. The driver glanced again at the GPS, watching the painting turn into a smaller road. The car slowed down much more: the target wouldn't be going as fast on those roads, and they didn't want to catch up just yet.
It was more than likely that just a glimpse of a police car would ruin the whole plan. Only when the painting had stopped would any attempt be safe: then they went in quickly, and the criminals wouldn't have any time to escape.
As the driver watched; the dot came to a halt, and for several seconds it was completely stationary. Then it began to move again; but so much slower. Walking pace.
"Catch up," Sherlock murmured urgent; "Now!"
The police car instantly accelerated; as did the few following it. Lestrade leaned across, sidling past John to get near the door; ready to leap out as soon as they arrived. They couldn't give anyone a chance to escape.
The driver braked sharply, a line of police cars forming outside what seemed to be more a mansion than a criminal's lair: still, unsurprising. Anyone rich enough to buy and collect such paintings wouldn't live somewhere shabby.
John couldn't help but wonder what kind of person they were; willing to spend so much on a painting they could show to barely anybody. An obsessive, probably.
Whatever the case, he, Sherlock and Liz just watched as the police leapt out the cars, rapidly entering the building.
Almost quarter of an hour later, and things were done. The art collector was handcuffed, and sent off in one police car, and with him were two accomplices.
"Well, that's it," Lestrade came up to Sherlock and John; as they waited beside the mansion. "We've recovered the Turner, the Ryder, and half a dozen or so other stolen paintings. We're looking for any more."
"And Moriarty?" Sherlock looked over his coat collar, unblinking.
The DI paused for a moment, before continuing: "Good job on the Turner frame, by the way. Can't find where your phone was inserted; we'll need you to help take it out, and probably repair it again after. We-"
"Lestrade," Sherlock spoke again; warning.
The Inspector hesitated for several seconds, almost reluctant to speak. Then, exhaling, he reached into one pocket, before pulling out an envelope. He gave it to Sherlock, almost as if he were afraid of the detective's reaction.
"No sign of him," the DI spoke, watching as the detective turned over the envelope to read the two words on it: Sherlock Holmes. "Found this on a guy called Ronan. We know he works for Moriarty."
Wordless, Sherlock tore open the envelope, eyes scanning the paper within.
You know, I was really in Switzerland. Sorry for spoiling your fun. I wasn't lying when I said I knew you were involved: and I don't underestimate people.
No, that's unfair. You did a good job: if you're reading this, you're better than that adorable little police force your friend works for. Just, I'm better.
I'd say you've impressed me, but you really haven't.
Sherlock looked up from the letter, silent and irate. He exhaled, breath rattling; so close, it seemed. Only he'd known about his second, main plan: the traceable phone in the painting's frame. That was meant to catch the criminal.
But Moriarty had guessed his actions; guessed them enough to know where he'd be, and how to deliver this letter successfully. It seemed he'd have a worthy opponent for a while longer. He almost smiled.
John took the letter; read it, before frowning towards Sherlock.
"I don't understand," he said to the silent, contemplative detective: "If he knew you were coming, why didn't he warn them? He's just lost helpers and buyers needlessly."
"He doesn't play the game for the money, John," Holmes replied, eyes not moving from where they stared; unfocused. Thoughtful.
Still contemplative, Sherlock Holmes folded up the letter, and pocketed it; before turning to head back to a car, and back to London. It seemed catching up to Moriarty would have to wait.