Mar 5, 2014

Episode 1 - Part 3

     Ever since John had left for his honeymoon tour, Sherlock had been plagued by boredom. He would slip into his old ways just to keep his mind silent so that it didn't bother him all the time. The lack of progress on the Magnussen matter contributed to his present foul mood. But the spurt of the same old cases that he was getting - jealous lover, missing person, etc infuriated and bore him. Atleast John helped him filter some of those out so that he could find the hidden gems in all the muck. He needed something...something exciting! So that he could feel his blood pumping and mind racing again. Approaching footsteps irritated him and he didn't want to be disturbed right now...

     "Mrs Hudson! I told you I didn't want any visitors today. Please ask them to go away! Their trampling about is giving me a headache". "Ah brother dear. Always so warm and inviting" smiled Mycroft as he opened the door. "Well Mrs. Hudson did try her best to stop me but I could not help myself. I just had to visit my dear sibling. Look! I even bought a gift for you. Come now and be nice. After all mother will be so disappointed to know that you forgot your manners in the presence of a lady".

     Sherlock got off the couch he was lying on and stood to observe the woman standing behind his brother. A quick glance told him all that he needed to know but the haze in his head goaded him into making a snarky comment. "Really Mycroft! You have stooped so low as to bring me a lady friend? I might be bored but I'm not that bored. Besides I like to find my own company". "Oh Sherlock! don't be so crass" fumed Mycroft. "I have bought her as your body guard. Lord knows you have enough enemies to need one. With John around there was always someone to watch your back and babysit you when needed. But now that he is married things will be different around here. And though it pains me to say so, I cant be around all the time to clean up behind you. Ms. Singh here has agreed to take on this task for a considerable fee. Come nice".

     The woman stood there in the at ease position of a military personal. Her back straight, shoulders back and hands clasped in the back. Her hair was tied in a bun and she looked straight ahead. Not a muscle twitched, expression form nor did she look at Sherlock even once. Everything about her spoke of her extensive background in the service. "I'm sorry for the trouble my brother put you through Ms. Singh" said Sherlock. "But I have no need for a body guard nor a sitter. I have managed quite nicely for all these years and don't like people mucking about my business. I'm sure Mycroft will provide you with adequate compensation for your troubles. Now if the both of you would clear out of the room, I have pressing matters to attend too."

     Mycroft opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by Ms. Singh. "Mr. Holmes, I assure you that I'm quite capable and up for the task at hand sir. Your brother has briefed me about the details of this job. I'm an expert at blending into the shadows and can assure you that you wont be aware of my presence. I'm also skilled at a number of defense arts and can prove to be useful to have around. Would you like a demonstration sir?" she spoke in a professional manner devoid of emotion. 

     "I'm sure that you are capable Ms. Singh otherwise you would not have been standing here. My brother does not tolerate fools or inadequate people and frankly neither do I. But I do not require your services". "Allow me to demonstrate atleast. Since I have come so far it would irk me that I could not show you what I was capable off" she said. "Oh very well! go on then" sighed Sherlock. "Amaze me!" he mocked. "As you wish" she said and bowed her head slightly. She moved forward and stood in front of him a few feet away. She drew a Samurai sword from behind her back. 

     Sherlock wondered how she managed to keep that hidden as he had not seen anything remotely resembling a scabbard behind her. She took a stance, closed her eyes and then a calmness descended upon her. It felt as if time had come to a standstill. Then she opened her eyes and the air around her came alive with a charge. She went on to execute a range of movements that spoke volumes about her skill. It was not merely what she was doing rather the way she performed the steps - smooth, fast and lethal. Like a dance, he though, a very deadly dance. After slicing the air one last time with the sword she stood frozen for a moment in the last pose and then collected herself and bowed low to him. 

     "I will admit that your style is impeccable and your skill is at par with some of the best I have seen. But I have not changed..." Sherlock began. She looked into his eyes for the first time then and gave him a mocking smile. It sent a shock through Sherlock as some instinct told him that he had been grossly misled. "Perhaps this will convince you" she purred. With those words she went around him in a circle displaying a sword play like he had never seen before. The blade was invisible and only the sound of it cutting through the air could be made out. If he thought her to be lethal before then that was not even the tip of the iceberg compared to what was before him now. 

    She completed the circle around him in a blaze of movement and in its finish went down on one knee with her head bowed before him. There was utter stillness in the room. Nothing moved nor breathed for a moment. Then one by one things around him began to fall apart - a stack of books on his right had been cut diagonally in half, the back of his favorite seat had been slashed away, one of the paintings on the wall was hanging by a mere thread and he spotted a lock of his hair on the floor. She got off the floor and looked at him then with a glint in her eyes and that smile on her lips. She lifted an eyebrow in question. 

     The haze in his brain cleared as his mind processed what he had just witnessed. This was no military personnel...not even close! The skill he had just seen was the work of a master of the craft. "That execution, those movements...only a master can perform them the way you did." he wondered aloud. "If I recall correctly there are only three known ones - one is dead, the other is 103 and then..." It hit Sherlock then. Serves him right for using again, he thought. Had he not been under the influence he would have made the connection earlier...or could he? 

     He was in the presence of a genius... a master...the most dangerous assassin the world had seen. He looked at his brother then "Oh Mycroft! What have you done?". He could feel her eyes on him. Gone was the entire military persona rather she had transformed completely and became the Panther she was known as. She looked like the cat playing with its prey. There was an air of danger around her combined with something else...THE woman had it too...sensuality combined with complete confidence. A very dangerous combination indeed. 

     "Have you finally lost your head!?! Do you know who she is or is this some kind of joke? You want the Panther to protect me?" screamed Sherlock. "Calm down Shirley and don't be such a drama queen" she drawled. "Of course he knows who I fact he called for me. He had a very tempting offer, one that I could not refuse. Besides, one simply cant pass up the chance to work with the world's greatest detective. What a pair we would make - the assassin and the detective".

     "I do not work with vile creatures like you" sneered Sherlock. "I exist so that I can put people like you in their rightful place - to rot in the depths of hell! Your mere presence nauseates me...". "Careful!" she said as she slid the sword in a concealed pocket on the side of her leg. "I would be careful if I were you. Did no one teach you any manners? You don't have to like me Shirley. But! You...will...respect me!". Sherlock advanced upon her and said "Get out of my house you filthy...". She moved then...there were a series of jabs on his chest and he felt himself falling...

     Sherlock fell with a thud on his back. He couldn't breathe! He tried taking in long gulps of air in but it didn't help at all. Something was blocking the air from reaching his lungs. Dizziness and panic overcame him. "What have you done!!!" screamed Mycroft and started to move towards Sherlock. She threw him a look and he found himself rooted to the spot. "I would not do that if I were you" she said. "Unless you want to kill him I suggest that you stay where you are. I have stopped him from breathing and the slightest touch from you could kill him in an instant!". "Please stop it!" implored Mycroft, "you will kill him!". "Oh pish-posh! I know what I'm doing. He has another minute or two to live" she pulled at her bun and let her hair fall down in a mass on her back. 

     "Shirley needs to learn some manners first. And I'm happy to teach it to him" she mocked. "Please stop now! He will behave. Please just stop" begged Mycroft. "Oh very well!" she said. She leaned down on her knees and ran a caressing hand on the side of Sherlock's face. She then bent and whispered in his ear "Remember Shirley. You might not like me....but you will respect me!". She made a series of jabs to his chest again and held him down while he took in big gulps of air and could breathe again. Sherlock grabbed her wrists and pushed her hands off him while he sat up. He willed his breathing to come to normal and his heart to lower the panic beating. He tried getting up and Mycroft helped him to his feet. 

     "Im sorry Sherlock." said Mycroft. "Matters are out of my hand now. Please understand. I did this only to protect you! Little did I think of the consequences of walking into the lion's den. But what is done is done. Please try to behave. The fate of the entire nation and yours rests on how you treat her. She could prove to be an asset. Try to work it out". Sherlock sent a look of pure loathing at his brother. Once he got himself under control again he turned to look at the Panther. 

     She was lounging calmly in the couch he was sleeping on earlier. Her eyes were focused on him while she twirled a strand of hair around her finger. A look of utter satisfaction framed her face as she looked at him haughtily. Anger and bile rose in him but he focused and calmed himself down. She was dangerous and it was foolish of him to take her head on like that. He will get the best of her, he thought, in a manner that fitted him. And a time and place that was suitable. This was neither the time nor the place. 

     "Tell me my dear brother. What grand scheme you have in mind to bring us two together. You went to great lengths to reach this end. And now that we have made nice, as you call it, enlighten us with the nature of this venture" Sherlock plopped down on his favorite couch. Mycroft sighed "I have a mission in mind that will be of great interest to the two of you. Something that will need your combined skills to penetrate". "Hmm...That sounds naughty Mikey" she purred again. "I'm liking this partnership already" she smiled. "Ahem madam please. Let us concentrate on the task at hand. There have been enough games and power plays in this room today. Let us move on too more constructive aspects." She sighed "Just when it was getting interesting. Trust you to be a kill joy".

     "Enough!" said Sherlock, "for god's sake man spit it our already! I'm tired of it all and need to get back to more important things. What could possibly be there that the two of us would have interests in? Would require our skill? Be done with it already!" growled Sherlock impatiently.

     Mycroft paused for effect and then said those two words which changed the entire atmosphere of the room in a split second...

 "Magnussen's Vault".

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