The streets were thankfully quiet at this time of night but it was still well after midnight by the time Greg finally reached the old Public Baths on the edge of Richmond Park.
He skidded the car to a stop, opened his door and scrambled out. The scent of chlorine and brick dust and explosives clawed at the back of his throat.
Christ, not again!
The building was a smouldering ruin. He could see fires burning amongst the rubble in strange contrast to all the water, gushing everywhere from burst pipes. It looked like something from a Blitz documentary.
Like a bomb's hit it...
A lot of people in reflective clothing were rushing around with single-minded purpose; firemen and medics swarmed over and into the wreckage, others had already set up command points and a perimeter.
Where in the hell did they all come from - and how did they get here so quickly?
Someone ran up to tell him he couldn't be there. The 'someone' was in a plain black suit, not a uniform, which set Greg's alarm bells ringing all over again.
Have the spooks got involved now? That's all I need...
He flashed his warrant card. "D.I. Lestrade, Serious Crime Command."
The man pressed his finger to his ear and relayed Greg's name to someone else. He paused then stepped aside to let Greg pass.
"What happened? Was there anybody in there?" Greg asked. "Who's in charge?"
"You'll need to speak to him, sir." The suit pointed to a large black car parked some way back from the chaos. A tall, slender man in a light grey three-piece suit was standing talking to three more black suits. There was an attractive young woman next to him whose thumbs were a blur as they moved over the phone in her hands.
Everything about Grey Suit's stance and attitude screamed Senior Civil Service, especially the umbrella he was incongruously leaning on, though there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Greg was sure he'd seen him before but he couldn't for the moment think where.
He was on his way to speak to the man when a loud and urgent shout from the workers near the building distracted him...
The structural damage was extensive, but not quite enough to topple the aged Victorian building; things were built to last in those days.
Mycroft Holmes, however, was a master at finding weak spots. He knew exactly where to give things a gentle nudge in order to provoke the desired outcome, and it was vital to his plans that the devastation was both complete and unquestionable.
"Moriarty is confirmed dead, sir," Anthea informed him. "Doctor Watson is secured and stable."
"And DI Lestrade has just arrived." Anthea looked up and directed Mycroft's attention to a car that had drawn up at the perimeter.
Quicker than Mycroft had expected - before Doctor Watson could be safely removed from the scene. Unfortunate but not insurmountable.
Anthea typed into her Blackberry then looked up again. Moments later there was a loud rumble. The roof collapsed, the walls folded in on themselves and what little had been left of Richmond Baths came crashing down until barely one brick was left on top of another.
Mycroft surveyed the scene as the smoke cleared. How fortuitous that the sole survivor had been pulled from the building moments before. No-one could have lived under that. He was sure of it - and so would everybody else be...
Greg turned just in time to see the rest of the building come crashing down. A huge cloud of dust and ash blew out towards him and on the very edge of the rush of air he caught just a trace of...
John! Oh, God - John!
Greg charged headlong towards the wreckage but John's scent drifted off to one side, to where a stretcher was being loaded into a waiting ambulance. He sprinted towards it. His eyes anxiously strained to make out the figure under blanket and oxygen mask even as his nose told him exactly who it was.
The feeling of relief when he saw those blue eyes flicker open was nearly overwhelming.
John was barely conscious. His head was bleeding badly and his breathing was all wrong. His clothes were shredded by myriad shrapnel tears and covered in blood and dust.
"John - what are you doing here? What happened? Was Sherlock in there?"
John nodded - or tried to. The brace around his neck prevented him. "Find him. Please."
"I will. I promise. Are you alright?"
"Please, sir - we need to get Doctor Watson to hospital." One of the paramedics pushed Greg aside.
"'Yeah. 'm OK. Find Sherlock," John wheezed.
"I will. I'll let you know as soon as there's news, John. I promise." He grabbed John's hand and squeezed it.
John didn't reply. His fingers went limp and slid out of Greg's grasp as they loaded the stretcher up into the vehicle. The doors slammed shut and it raced away, sirens blaring.
Greg turned to head back towards the building when he heard someone call him.
It was the man with the umbrella by the car.
Greg jogged over to him.
He picked up the man's scent as he got closer. There was something familiar about it but also something wrong. It set Greg's nerves even further on edge but he addressed him with a steady voice born of years of experience.
"I understand you're in charge, sir. There's at least one other person unaccounted for. A man by the name of--"
"Sherlock Holmes, yes." The man looked down and inspected the handle of his umbrella as if it was far more worthy of his attention than Greg. "Your assistance will not be required. The situation is out of your hands now."
"But you don't understand!" Greg said. "You need to let me search that building. I can help find him! I'm... I've got..." How do I explain it?
"I'm well aware of your unique capabilities, Detective Inspector," the man cut him off. "However, my own people have already ascertained that sadly there is very little left of Sherlock for you to... sniff out."
He raised his head and gave Greg a look that was twice as cold, clinical and soul-stripping as anything he'd ever gotten from Sherlock.
Greg instantly realised that this man was Sherlock's notorious elder brother, Mycroft, he was far more than just a minor civil servant and he knew.
There was no signal given that he was aware of but two very large men suddenly unfolded themselves from within the car. They kept their eyes firmly fixed on Greg as they reached into their jackets.
Greg put two and two together, came up with Shit! and seconds later was running at top speed across the car park towards the woods at the edge of the Park.
He was almost at the tree-line when the first dart hit his back. The second lodged in his right thigh. The drug took a few steps to kick in and sheer momentum carried him a few more after that, but he'd made it less than twenty yards in total before he crashed to the ground, unconscious...
Mycroft had briefly considered stopping any interaction between Watson and Lestrade but it couldn't affect anything and would only raise both men's suspicions so he let them exchange a few words.
Letting Lestrade anywhere near where Sherlock was supposed to be was another matter entirely. Mycroft distracted him before he could get too close.
It was tempting to take a little time to study the man in more detail before the inevitable conclusion the the meeting. Mycroft had never been this close to him before. Still, there would be plenty of time for that later.
Anthea had disapproved of the risk but Mycroft knew Lestrade would run rather than attack. He smiled thinly at her as Lestrade proved him right and took off towards the trees.
He had a remarkable turn of speed - something else Mycroft determined to study later - but not quite fast enough. He fell heavily into the bushes at the edge of the parking area as the tranquiliser flooded his system.
One of Mycroft's men moved forward and checked Lestrade while the other kept his gun trained on him in case he was pretending. The first man confirmed he was out and they both holstered their weapons before picking up Lestrade's body and carrying him back to the car. They laid him face down on the floor in the back of the car and quickly started securing him according to the instructions Mycroft had given them beforehand.
Lestrade's wrists were placed behind his back and bound together with strong cable ties, as were his ankles. The man at his feet bent Lestrade's legs at the knee and drew his feet up towards his hands, connecting the ties around each with a short length of chain. The man who had climbed into the car first and secured Lestrade's wrists took a blindfold from his pocket and positioned it carefully over Lestrade's eyes. A muzzle gag followed, wrapping over the blindfold and around Lestrade's head, holding a thick pad over his mouth and completing covering his chin and lower face. Finally Lestrade was rolled onto his side, facing the back seat, and the chain between his hands and feet was secured to a bolt fitted into the floor, just in front of the partition between passenger and driver.
Lestrade showed no signs of regaining consciousness.
The man closest to the door looked up at Mycroft. "Anything else, sir?"
"No, that will do. Thank you."
The men climbed out and got into the front of the car. Mycroft was just about to get into the back when another police car drew up and a woman he recognised as Detective Sergeant Donovan got out. She spoke to the man at the perimeter and came over. The car door was between her and Mycroft, blocking her view of the car's interior.
"Excuse me, sir. I was told you're in charge. Have you seen D.I. Lestrade?" she asked.
"He was here but I'm afraid he was called away urgently - on a matter of national security," Mycroft said with complete honesty. "I believe a D.I. Dimmock is on his way to take over."
"What? He just left? He wouldn't do that. Not when we're still looking for the Fr-- I mean, not when there's still a civilian missing."
"You needn't be polite on my account, D.S. Donovan. I am well aware of your views on my younger brother. I believe the search will be called off very shortly. Dr Watson is sadly the sole survivor of this evening's events."
"Sherlock's dead?" Donovan asked in a stunned whisper.
Mycroft noted with interest how her face paled. Genuine remorse - intriguing.
"Wait - and he's your brother? You don't seem that upset." She switched from shock to suspicion in an instant.
"Was my brother - and on the contrary, this whole situation has troubled me more than you can possibly imagine. If you'll excuse me, please - I have a lot of arrangements to make on my brother's behalf." Mycroft got into the car and quickly shut the door.
As the car stopped to get out through the cordon he opened the window and beckoned to one of his men. "Please ensure Detective Sergeant Donovan is close by when the bodies are found."
"That'll be all, thank you." Mycroft closed the window again and sat back.
He placed the loaded tranquilliser gun on the seat beside him and visually checked Lestrade's restraints as the car sped away. His men had only been given enough information as strictly necessary and he now had to assume that they suspected him of all sorts of sexual deviancy. Kidnapping a Metropolitan Police officer and having him bound and gagged in the back of his car in a very suggestive position would raise a few eyebrows but his people were far too well trained - and paid - for idle gossip.
The truth was that he had no idea how long the sedative would affect Lestrade, so speed had been of the essence. The hog-tie was to ensure that he would be discouraged from shifting form. If he was placed in a position that would dislocate the animal's joints, hopefully that would prevent him from doing so. The cable ties were used so they could be tightened quickly if Lestrade could thin his wrists and ankles.
The muzzle had obviously been first on the requirements list and while the blindfold was not strictly necessary, it certainly couldn't hurt. The more disoriented Lestrade was, the better.
The car had been underway for a little over fifteen minutes when Lestrade stirred. He moved against his restraints then there was a sharp intake of breath before he struggled against them in earnest.
Mycroft picked up the gun as a precaution. He was impressed and, in all honesty, a little awed. The dose Lestrade had been given would have put any other man of his build and health out for well over an hour - more useful data.
"Please calm yourself, Lestrade. This is as much for your protection as anybody else's," Mycroft told him.
Lestrade stopped thrashing and lay still, breathing heavily through his nose. He cocked his head towards Mycroft, doubtless trying to place his voice.
"You must have known this would always be your eventual fate. I allowed you to remain at liberty - under strict observation - because you were useful to Sherlock's work, and therefore his well-being, and you proved yourself loyal to him on many occasions.
"However, with Sherlock's untimely demise, I cannot now in all good conscience allow such an unknown quantity to remain wandering the streets of our capital at will."
Lestrade breathed in sharply again at the word "demise" and his head shook from side to side in mute denial.
"It's ironic in a way," Mycroft mused. "All this time you believed Sherlock was in some small way under your protection, while you were, in fact, very much under his."
Lestrade's shoulders sagged as he let his head rest against the floor again.
"Anyway, I assure you that the doctors I have placed in charge of your care are all of the highest standards and, once we have some minor tests out of the way, I believe you could become a great asset to this country."
A few minutes later the car drew to a stop.
"Our transport is waiting, sir." Anthea's voice announced over the car's intercom.
"Excellent. Please have our guest transferred. I think perhaps four times the initial dose should cover it."
The door opened and Anthea climbed in holding a syringe. Mycroft nodded and she plunged the needle into Lestrade's thigh.
He protested loudly but the gag muffled most of it and the noise quickly died away as the drug took effect.
Mycroft handed the tranquilizer gun to her.
"You'd better give them this in case that dose is insufficient."
Mycroft had wanted to get his hands on Lestrade for a long time but had put his own ambitions aside while the man was useful to Sherlock. Now that was no longer the case, he was very much looking forward to better making Lestrade's acquaintance.
The ink was already drying on Sherlock's death certificate, Sherlock himself would be out of the country for at least a year and Doctor Watson would be incapacitated for weeks, if not months, so he had plenty of time.
Still that didn't mean he could dawdle.
He got out of the car and watched as the two agents unchained Lestrade from the bolt holding him to the car floor and loaded him into the back of the waiting helicopter.
The sky was clear, the weather was good; it should only take them a few hours to reach Baskerville...
END OF PART ONE