Some months ago...
Jenny pours brandies for Vastra, Doyle, and their guest, Robert Mapplethorpe of the Natural History Museum. “I must say,” Mapplethorpe begins, “I was somewhat dubious about hiring the two of you last time. Couple of women I'd scarcely heard of but for Artie's say-so meant I was rather putting my neck on the line.” He swirls the drink in his cup. “But you and your associates certainly handled things rather well, and now you can hardly swing a cat in all of England without hitting a glowing review of the Veiled Detective. It'll be a bit of a coup if I can land you lot for this job.” Vastra gestures for him to continue as Jenny takes up her usual, unobtrusive listening spot. “One weekend only: an exhibition of some of the rarest, largest, and most unusual gemstones in the world under one roof. Our roof.” He beams with delight. “Such an exhibition as will never be rivaled! Needless to say it shall prove quite the temptation for every jewel thief in Europe.”
“Needless to say, indeed,” Vastra concurs with a deliberate motion.
“And, of course, there is the curse on one of the gems,” Mapplethorpe reveals, almost off-handedly. Vastra snorts as Doyle leans in, interested. “Not the largest or the most valuable, but very finely carved is the Serrano Diamond, and always in its wake is death and destruction.” He smiles. “Indeed, that was part of why I desire most strongly to hire you specifically. After all, I know you have a certain level of expertise with such unusual matters.”
“I wouldn't have thought you would believe in curses, Robbie,” Doyle observes.
“I don't,” Mapplethorpe corrects. “But the general public does.”
“Well, you may certainly rely on us,” Vastra assures him.
“I assume there will be nothing of the same nature as your last visit to the museum?” Mapplethorpe asks.
“I cannot promise that,” Vastra admits. “But tell me, will your museum play host to the Pandorica, or anything guarded by the Lone Centurion?”
“I beg your pardon? The who?” Mapplethorpe blinks. Of course, Vastra chides herself as Jenny reminds her with a look. He has never been aboard the TARDIS.
“Nothing of importance,” Vastra replies with a wave of her hand. “Is there anything else of note?”
“Well, the Jubilee Diamond, of course. Recently mined, and intended to be presented to the Queen for her Diamond Jubilee. It is an extremely valuable stone, both intrinsically and in terms of the symbolic power that it has for the Empire.” Vastra bites back a comment about oppression and imperialism, and nods curtly.
“Clarence,” he whispers. “Clarence DeMarco, wake up.” His preferred tool of the past several months starts and shivers. “It is time to get moving, Clarence.”
Clarence nods. He had been wandering aimlessly through the world before his new master, working odd jobs here and there. He'd killed a woman, so long ago, so far away; London was the first place he could settle down in quite a while. Lots of people to kill here, and nobody to miss them, and things to do besides. Things with a purpose for once. Clarence smiles, and listens to the whispers.
“So, Robbie, tell me more about this curse,” Doyle asks as he nods towards the Serrano Diamond.
“Nonsense, of course,” Mapplethorpe begins hesitantly. “Though there have been some very strange things happening around it lately. Indeed, I suspect that may be part of why the current owners decided to loan it to the museum. Perhaps you and your friends might look into it once they are done here.”
“Perhaps,” Doyle acknowledges. “Though with Kingsley being born, I don't get out to as many of these as I used to—I thought watching a few gemstones during the day would be safe enough, though.”
Mapplethorpe blinks. “ Congratulations, old chap! Wee lad doing well, I take it?” Doyle nods proudly. “Well, at any rate, I hope the curse, or whatever it is, doesn't follow you here—fires being set, windows and mirrors being smashed, eerie whispering noises. Some of the servants have gone missing, though that's as likely to be them scared off as any foul play.” He snorts. “What do you make of it, Artie?”
“I think I shall be sadly disappointed if I find that all our efforts to contact the dead for benevolent purposes have yielded nothing but frauds while this curse turns out to be the work of some malignant spirit. For a change, I might well hope that this is the work of some deranged criminal mind or of some,” he bends close to Mapplethorpe's ear, “hostile alien, rather than a manifestation of the spirit world.” He shivers. “Though perhaps I would not be surprised to learn that it was some phantasm, angered by some injustice suffered in this life and determined to repay it in the next. Lord only knows that there enough such tormented souls.” Doyle crosses himself. “Come, old friend, let us move on to happier topics.”
“They are beautiful, aren't they?” Jenny blinks at the interruption. She supposes she had been staring off into space—and right at one of the display cases—while lost in thought.
She turns and smiles at the newcomer, a handsome woman in her late twenties or early thirties with an American accent. “Yes, they certainly are,” Jenny agrees, extending her hand. “Jenny Flint.”
“Florence Bascom,” she replies.
“You've come a long way,” Jenny observes. “What brings you here?”
Florence gestures to the array of display cases. “As a student of geology, and especially crystals, I couldn't pass up such an opportunity.” Jenny raises her eyebrows in surprise, causing Florence to blush. “After spending three years behind screens to keep from being a distraction, I shall be Dr. Bascom in the spring.”
“That must have been incredibly difficult,” Jenny observes, awestruck.
Florence shrugs. “My father teaches at Williams, and pushed me to further my education.” She smiles, a bit vicious. “I was happy to prove him right, to show the world that women are more than second-class and servile.” She gives a nervous giggle. “No offense intended to current company, of course.”
“None taken; madame and I have a...rather unique partnership. But it does seem to work for us.” No need to get into a discussion of their personalities, habits, preferences, and kinks, she thinks. Jenny's brow furrows. “I must say I've never heard of Williams, though news doesn't always cross the Atlantic.”
“You wouldn't have,” Florence shakes her head as they move to another gem. “And I, in turn, am not as familiar with you as I gather I might be.”
Now it is Jenny's turn to blush. “Oh, Madame Vastra and I are detectives, solving mysteries and collaring criminals.” She grins. “Very exciting. We're helping guard all these lovely, shiny rocks.”
“They do have a certain allure,” Florence admits. “I suppose you won't chalk it up to my femininity as so many of my peers might?”
“Of course not,” Jenny says with a laugh. “I have an education perhaps less formal than yours, but you'd have to be mad to think that.”
“It is good to find a kindred spirit,” Florence confesses. “Please, take my card; perhaps we can meet again while I am in London. Tell me, have you heard of the suffrage movement?”
“It is marvelous to think that such beautiful stones can come from such base beginnings,” Nellie observes quietly. Neville has been up late with a fever the past few days, and Nellie is staying up with the toddler—and helping Jenny and Vastra watch the gems by night—to let her siblings sleep in peace.
“Do you mean from under the ground, or from the exploitation of the miners?” Vastra asks, mindful of her own subterranean roots.
Nellie flushes, bouncing Neville in her arms. “More that they come from the same dark stuff as coal, though I suppose that goes to show appearance isn't everything. You forget that such hard work goes into them, and for so little reward.”
“And yet they are becoming ubiquitous symbols of eternal love,” Jenny notes, amused. “Even us common folk are starting to be able to afford them nowadays.”
“I apologize, my love; do you require some expensive trinket to adorn you? I am rather thoughtless in these matters.” Vastra's crests flare, just a little.
“No, madame,” Jenny shakes her head. “Maybe it's keeping the books that does it, but I can't help but think of scads of things I'd rather do with that money. A simple gold band is quite enough for me.”
Vastra nods. “I bow to your pragmatism. What of you, Nellie?”
She grins and rests Neville against her shoulder. “I don't mind looking fancy, but I can't say I've had too many chances of late. I'd probably just be worried that my little one would swallow it if I took it off for even a second. Shh, shh,” she coos, then pauses. “Do you hear something?”
“Footsteps,” Jenny whispers, and they duck behind a large cabinet of specimens to watch as an athletic, feminine form tiptoes up to a glass case. The well-muscled body could belong to any number of notorious cat burglars. Well, Jenny amends as she creeps around to flank the intruder, not the one billing herself as the Leopard. She was in the smokehouse after an ill-fated knife fight. She watches as Vastra soundlessly draws one of her blades and it catches the dim gas light. She flashes her signal to Jenny, who uses her katana to flash in reply. One...two...three!
With a burst, they have cornered the young woman, and Vastra has unmasked her. Jenny blinks. She does not recognize the face, and yet she should be familiar with any criminal skilled enough to attempt such a heist. Vastra, too, shrugs at the Mediterranean features; perhaps she will cable to Carmilla and Kaida tomorrow night if necessary to see if there are any rumors of new jewel thieves operating out of Spain or the south of France.
The feeling, however, is not mutual. “You two,” she says with a resigned groan. “Again?”
“You have the advantage over us,” Vastra informs her. “Perhaps you could refresh our memories as to our previous meeting?”
The cat burglar sighs. “I'm the Rani.”
“You!” Jenny snarls as Vastra counts her lucky stars that Henry isn't here at the moment.
“Regenerated, I see,” Vastra observes. The Doctor has explained the process to them. “You'll be spending quite a while in prison, though I suppose it won't feel as long to you.”
“Wait! If it makes you feel any better, I don't need it to do anything you would call unethical. I'm just trying to repair my TARDIS,” the Rani pleads.
“So that you can move on and perform more of your twisted experiments?” Jenny asks.
“No,” the Rani shakes her head, “someone is chasing me, trying to find the Doctor.” That causes the three other women to stop, stock-still. The claim is too audacious to be false. “For all I know, they might be after you as well,” she adds.
Without lowering their guard, Vastra, Jenny, and Nellie exchange looks. Vastra isn't particularly worried for the Rani's sake, or for her own. She expects full well that whatever it is, she can handle it. But if some of her friends get caught in the crossfire...she shakes her head. Jenny comes to much the same conclusion, deciding that a mobile Rani is more likely to draw this unseen enemy's gaze away, and provide them with more information, to boot. Nellie cannot help but look into their old foe's eyes and see a gentler light there. The Doctor often said that regeneration brought a change in personality; is it not possible that the Rani's has changed for the better?
Reluctantly, Vastra and Jenny lower their weapons. “Tell us everything you know about the matter,” Vastra demands.
“I traveled for quite some time after our last meeting,” the Rani begins. Jenny wonders if she is being deliberately vague to conceal her timeline; perhaps they will have the displeasure of meeting the 'old' Rani again in their future. “My most recent project involved conducting research on energy fields, nothing too dangerous or harmful. But then I detected an extremely powerful psychic energy signature unlike anything I had ever seen before. I observed it, but as it seemed to be harmless, I recorded it and moved on. But there it was again, on the next planet I visited, a thousand light-years away. I checked my meters for faults, but discovered none. Strange, but perhaps a coincidence. I recorded it again, thinking nothing of it, and moved on to another planet. The same energy field awaited me there. Now I began to worry. It was psychic, after all; perhaps it was capable of observing me without my knowledge and discerning my next destination. I made some changes to my TARDIS's navigational circuits, added a complex randomizer, and shielded my craft even more heavily. It didn't work; the energy field was already there. Planets, moons, asteroid belts, or the middle of deep space: it made no difference. The energy field was there. I could feel it lurking, almost malignant. I tried again and again to evade it, altering my TARDIS's machinery further and further until finally she crashed, here and now.” The Rani shakes her head. “I looked back at my readings and discovered that I had made a fundamental error. The energy field was not following me; it was merely omnipresent. And it was aware of me, intelligent and malevolent, though it seems incapable of doing me direct harm.”
“If it can't harm you, then why did you regenerate?” Jenny asks.
“I stated that it could not harm me directly; all Time Lords have more than enough psychic ability to fend off its assaults, even without the aid of a TARDIS. Even, I suspect, a healthy human mind's natural defenses would be sufficient to repel its feeble probes. But a damaged brain or unwell mind would be susceptible, or if the target were already under quite a lot of stress, and I suspect that such a one attacked me under the influence of this evil psychic field.”
“Why didn't you just leave again, or stay in your ship?” Vastra inquires.
“My ship crashed, and thanks to my modifications, it has been unable to repair itself.” The Rani sighs. “I have been searching for the components I need to repair my TARDIS, and that diamond, stained green with Artron energy, is the last item I need to restore its functionality.” She gestures towards the exhibit she had been trying to steal, labeled 'Dresden Green Diamond.' “The traces of energy stored in its crystal structure should be enough for me to jump-start my tachyon motivator, and then I can give it back and leave.”
“What was all that about getting attacked, again?” Jenny prods.
“A madman ambushed me with a knife.” The Rani scowls. “Hardly a worthy use of one of my lives. As he jumped me, the shock of the assault weakened my mental barriers, and I could hear a voice in my head asking about the Doctor: where he was, who his friends were. I suppose it singled me out for such treatment based on my TARDIS.”
“If it's everywhere, why doesn't it go after the Doctor itself?” Nellie asks.
“I don't think it's ready to. Not yet, anyway. It still felt very weak, and I wouldn't be surprised if it had a more complicated plan still to come.”
Jenny and Vastra trade nods. “Troubling news indeed,” Vastra observes.
“Not as troubling as the fact helping you seems to be in our best interests,” Jenny quips. “I still don't trust her.”
“Please,” the Rani begs, “different face, different personality. I'm not the same woman who committed those crimes.”
Vastra is about to continue the argument just as Jenny holds up a finger. “Do you hear that, madame?” she whispers.
“Yes, dear,” Vastra replies automatically. “Something electronic, footsteps...”
“'Dear'?” the Rani asks. “I should have known you were bluffing with her,” she notes before Nellie hushes her.
“Get down,” Nellie hisses as they watch a handful of alien humanoids enter the room and walk over to a cabinet on the far side of the room.
Vastra watches as they smash the case and take a massive diamond. Scaly-looking armor and nasty-looking guns to go, she observes. Not a winnable fight. She makes careful note of froglike faces concealed behind mist-filled domes.
“What are you going to do about them?” the Rani whispers.
“We are going to follow them. All of us,” Jenny rejoins. “Bloody well not letting you out of my sight.” The Rani's lip curls into a frown at this, but while she's within reach of their blades, she hardly has a choice. Reluctantly, gracelessly, she scuttles after them, hiding behind walls, columns, and opaque displays until they are out of the museum.
“Split up,” Vastra hisses.
Jenny nods, and grabs the Rani by the hand. “We're going to circle ahead and try to cut them off; less conspicuous than a group of four.” The Rani nods. At least she has been captured by creatures of intelligence, she thinks, still annoyed at the circumstances. Not like the time she was surrounded by giant slugs and she had to fight her way out with brute force and a salt-shaker. She sighs. She'd promised herself that she would pay more attention when gathering specimens from then on. Still, maybe if she helps her current captors recover this diamond, they will be more reasonable about her own needs. At least this body is in good physical condition, she observes. Between the sneaking and the running, this is rather more physical exertion than she is used to.
Jenny finally deems that they have gotten far enough ahead of them, and signals for a stop. “You haven't got anything that can track them, do you?”
“I might,” the Rani allows. “Have you?”
“Didn't figure so many aliens for jewel thieves,” Jenny admits.
The Rani allows herself a moment's gloating while she produces a scanning device. “I can't say I recognized our slimy friends, but there can't be too many advanced power sources on this backwards planet.” She pronounces the last word in such a way as to make it clear that she means 'hellhole.' “This way.”
“Heading towards the Thames,” Jenny observes. “Makes sense—”
“—given our foes' amphibian features,” the Rani concludes, then shudders. “Let us never do that again.”
“Agreed,” Jenny decides, putting on another turn of speed.
“Do you truly believe we should forgive her?” Vastra asks Nellie as they trail after the frog-faced aliens. “She has done awful things.”
“I'm well aware of what she did,” Nellie notes dryly. “I was next in line. But people change—not always quite so literally. And we've all done things we regret, haven't we?”
Vastra's breath catches in her throat. “I suppose so,” she admits. She hadn't expected that blow to hit quite so hard. “And you?” she asks in reply, with the barest of nods towards Nellie's still-slumbering burden. Neville sneezes and falls immediately back to sleep.
“Not him: never him,” Nellie vows, then yawns. “He has been running me a bit ragged, lately.”
Vastra nods. “It is no shame to spend time raising your young.”
Nellie shakes her head. “Need the money to help keep him fed, plus all my siblings and my niece. And I'll not take any charity from you; you pay too well as it is.”
“I suspect that my pay is barely adequate, and it is other professions which do not pay enough,” Vastra counters. “At any rate, Jenny and I can afford to pay you and the others more easily than we can afford to do without your help.” Or without your angel on our shoulders, she thinks. “Would you take some time off if you had the money?” she asks as they watch the amphibian aliens move into their ship, hidden in a dilapidated building at the edge of the river.
“I don't know that I would. But I could send Neville to school—he'll be old enough, soon—and the others could go as well instead of working odd jobs and getting in Mother's way.” She smiles. “Then, perhaps, we could get somewhere in the world.” Vastra nods, and catches a glimpse of Jenny and the Rani approaching from the other side.
“Here we are, then,” she observes. “Come, let's join them.”
“I do wonder what they want with the diamond,” Vastra wonders aloud.
“And just that particular diamond,” Jenny notes. “Plenty to choose from.”
“Sadly, Earth minerals are not my strong suit,” the Rani admits.
“The Excelsior is one of the largest known diamonds in the world,” Nellie remarks. She blushes when the other three women look at her, surprised. “I was reading the placards to Neville; thought he might learn something...and fall asleep. Anyway, perhaps its size is important to them.”
“An excellent theory, dear child,” Vastra remarks.
“But we won't know how they plan to use it until we get aboard their ship,” Jenny adds. “Since apparently there are all sorts of uses for diamonds.” She aims this last at the Rani. “Say, you aren't in league with them, are you?”
She snorts. “That sort of convoluted scheme was more the forte of a classmate of mine. Foolish man. If it helps convince you, let's go, and I'll break us into their ship.”
Jenny shoots Vastra a look, but ultimately they can do nothing but shrug. If it is a trap, then it is a very good one, Vastra thinks, and she has laid traps for sentient beings before, so many millions of years ago. “Come on then,” Jenny says at last. “We've got a diamond to steal back.” And a Time Lord to keep at swordpoint, she appends mentally.
For all Jenny's skepticism, the Rani joins them in slinking through the shadows, and she has the door open quickly and quietly enough. “It's reasonably large,” she observes. “We'd best split up again.”
“Come with me,” Vastra commands. “In ten minutes, if you haven't found the diamond, create a diversion,” which Jenny hears as “Blow something up.” “If we're lucky,” she continues, “that will create enough space for us to get away.” Jenny and Nellie nod, and head to the left while the other two head to the right.
“Do you think Henry fancies me?” Nellie asks Jenny. Jenny blinks. That was rather out of the blue. “Sorry, it just occurred to me, and I thought I should ask.”
“Yes, I think so. At any rate, he did. Probably Anaya, as well.” She frowns. “I just hope he never took a shine to me or madame.” The two women share a quiet giggle. “Do you fancy him?”
“I don't know,” Nellie replies, biting her lip. “I think I might, but then, I've been wrong so often in the past.”
Jenny nods. “I can understand the feeling; I fooled around with a few girls before I met madame, but then I was just after a bit of fun at the time.” She blushes. “Kissed a few boys before I figured that one out, but I think deep down I always knew.”
“You don't think I could...like girls?” Nellie's brow furrows.
“You'd know better than me,” Jenny whispers just before they duck into a closet to avoid one of the aliens. “This is where I would offer to let you kiss me if this were some dirty old man's fantasy. And you weren't holding a sleeping toddler.” Nellie stifles a laugh with her free arm, and they creep back into the hallway. “But in all seriousness, you'd know. When I look at madame, or, really, at any pretty woman, I feel a little tingly, and start warming up, and start thinking about things I'd like to do to them, or let them do to me.” She blushes. “Your business who you feel that way about, far as I'm concerned,” she concludes, and Nellie knows she won't get any more from her employer and friend just now.
They continue in silence until Nellie spots a hatch in the side of the corridor. Opening it reveals a bundle of cables, but no diamond. “I doubt we'll find the diamond here; we must be practically at the end of the ship,” she observes.
“Time to create a diversion, then,” Jenny decides, and slashes through the cables with her katana. “Come on,” she calls, and Nellie runs after her, carrying a miraculously still-sleeping Neville. Nellie knows he's been pretty good once he passes out from exhaustion, but this is still impressive. The lights flash and smoke begins to billow from the wall behind them. “Let's get off this blasted ship.”
Across the ship, Vastra and the Rani wait on the outskirts of what appears to be a command center. Viewscreens show the exterior of the ship, and the surroundings, including the Thames. One of the aliens stands, posture military. Another sits, awaiting orders. Vastra realizes idly that she has no idea if they are male, female, hermaphroditic, or none of the above. One wall of the command post is taken up with an elaborate-looking array of circuits with the Excelsior Diamond in its center.“Calibrate the focusing crystal, Technician,” one of the aliens gurgles.
“Yes, Commander,” the junior alien replies. With a few quick taps on the keyboard, the diamond locks in place and rotates.
“Test-fire on my mark,” the commander croaks. “Three, two, one, mark!”
With the pull of a lever, a burst of light issues from the nose of the ship and strikes the Thames, sending up a gout of steam.
“All systems functional, Commander,” the technician reports. “The heat ray appears to have worked perfectly.”
“Excellent,” the commander bellows. “Once we have converted this planet's water supply into water vapor, this world will become a suitable colony for the Anuran Brood.”
“They must require an extremely high level of humidity, judging by the mist in their helmets and the nature of their plan,” the Rani murmurs.
“Indeed,” Vastra concurs, “and they do not sound at all friendly.” As if on cue, the ship's alarms begin to sound and Vastra crosses her fingers, hoping that Jenny, Nellie, and Neville have succeeded, and not gotten themselves captured.
“Damage report,” the commander orders. “Technician, see to the repairs. I shall prepare for a second test at higher power levels.” The technician leaves by a different corridor. Vastra silently counts to twenty, and then the next time the frog alien in charge turns its back, she brings the hilt of one of her swords down on the back of its head, holding it with both hands and putting every ounce of her weight into the blow. The domed helmet gives way with a satisfying crack and the alien falls to the ground with a thump. She stands, grins, and pries the diamond free from its mount as the Rani sits down at the console. She checks the fallen alien for signs of life. “I expect he'll feel that in the morning,” she observes.
“No, I expect not,” the Rani replies. “I think I just activated the self-destruct.” Vastra's eyes bulge.
“I told you I wasn't familiar with this technology.”
“But you hacked the controls?”
“I am a genius,” she reminds Vastra as they dash away. “Leave it,” she adds of the alien commander.
“And still as ruthless as ever, I see,” she notes.
“They were going to boil the oceans of your beloved homeworld,” the Rani points out. “Ecological catastrophe aside, it didn't sound like they planned on sharing with the natives, human or Silurian.”
Vastra bites back a curse. “This is no time for an argument, which is why we should have discussed this before the timer started counting down.”
“Shut up and run!” the Rani counters.
“If one of my friends is still aboard that ship when it explodes, I'll eat you alive!” Vastra yells, and means it.
Fortunately for everyone involved, Jenny and Nellie are waiting across the street. “Get down,” Vastra advises them as the ship explodes and the building begins to burn.
“Didn't think that cable was that important,” Jenny utters, shaken.
“It wasn't,” Vastra replies, eying the Rani meaningfully.
“I'll be just as glad to have her off my planet,” Jenny decides at last. “Let's get her that bloody green diamond soon as possible.”
“Did you get the diamond?” Nellie asks.
“Yes,” Vastra replies, producing the gem. “No!” she cries upon seeing it. “I must have damaged it as I prized it out of the alien device.”
“Oh dear,” Nellie observes. “You certainly can't give it back like that.”
“Don't look at me,” the Rani protests. “I told you, Earth minerals aren't my specialty. Unless you want me to genetically engineer the perfect jeweler, I can't help you.”
“We may not need to,” Jenny says decisively, producing Florence's card.
Neville chooses this moment to wake up. “Mummy? Where are we?”
“Out for a stroll, love,” she reassures him. “Look, it's Auntie Jenny and Auntie Vastra, and there's the river!” And there's a burning building, she thinks. All perfectly normal. But Neville simply nods, sticks his thumb in his mouth, and rests his head against her chest.
“Why don't you take him home?” Jenny asks Nellie. “We should have this all taken care of.” Nellie nods and says her goodbyes.
Florence Bascom is damn well unamused at being woken at the small hours of the morning. “I'm a scientist, not a gemcutter,” she explains. “And you can't just repair a gemstone. You'd have to cut it down.”
“Could you use it to focus energy? Of any sort?” Vastra asks, remembering what the aliens had said.
“Not in its current state. Not with the defects.”
“And if it were cut down?”
“Yes, theoretically.” She shakes the sleep from her mind. “What the devil is going on?”
“It's, erm, very complicated,” Jenny offers. “And a matter of national security.”
Florence blinks. “I knew you were famous detectives, but I didn't think...” She trails off. “Where was I? Yes, you could use it to focus energy, but along a different wavelength than before, because it would be cut at a different angle.”
Vastra nods. “That will do.”
“Are you certain that you couldn't cut it down?” Jenny asks hopefully.
“It's one of the largest and most famous gemstones in the world,” Florence snaps. “You can't just hack away at it and hope nobody will notice.” She sighs. “I'm just glad I got to see it before it was damaged.”
Vastra curtseys. “Sorry to wake you, Ms. Bascom. But it was a matter of utmost importance.”
Florence yawns. “Yes, yes, go on. Just tell me what all this was about some day.”
When they return to the museum, they take the Dresden Green Diamond to the Rani's TARDIS, and let her work her magic on it; Jenny doesn't understand what she is saying, and frankly is too tired to care. They have just gotten back to the exhibit room when Mapplethorpe walks in with a security guard rubbing his head. “Where have you been?” he asks.
“Retrieving the Excelsior,” Vastra offers the damaged stone guiltily.
“And the thieves?” He eyes the Rani suspiciously.
No, not me.” She slips the Dresden Green back into its case discreetly. “Just helping out. The thieves...evaded capture.”
Mapplethorpe raises an eyebrow, but at Jenny and Vastra's nods, he accepts the Rani's word. “It's a shame that we couldn't apprehend them, and the damage to the Excelsior is regrettable.”
“What about that one?” the guard gestures toward a still-empty case; the placard reads “Serrano Diamond.” “That was why I roused you, sir. Someone knocked me over the head and I saw that that one was gone. Didn't even notice the other.”
“Bloody curse,” Mapplethorpe mutters. “Well, this is a gigantic nightmare for the museum; I may even get the sack. All we had to do was hold onto these stones for one weekend, and we couldn't even do that.” His shoulders slump as he walks out of the room. “I shall have to tell the directors, and the owners of the gems...” His voice becomes inaudible as he leaves.
“This would probably be a bad time to cut and run?” the Rani asks.
“Go,” Jenny says simply, pulling Vastra to her. The Rani nods, and leaves. “Well, at least we saved the world, madame.” At the cost of their reputations, she thinks.
“From one threat, at least,” Vastra agrees. “But another thief after a single jewel? One wonders if there is something behind the supposed curse.”
“Three aliens trying to steal three different diamonds all on the same night?” Jenny asks skeptically.
“You are probably right, my dear,” Vastra agrees, pulling Jenny into a kiss. “Let us just hope no more of our gleaming charges fall under attack—at least until Strax relieves us.”
He watches as Clarence DeMarco admires the Serrano Diamond in the gaslight. It is beautiful, he supposes, and DeMarco was certainly entertained by the havoc he caused playing up the curse which led the owner to donate it to the museum. But as far as he was concerned, its main value was that it was one more step on the road which would let him walk the earth once more. He would smile if he could at the thought. And then he could revenge himself upon the Doctor and destroy his friends.