England sighed as the door closed behind him and he stepped out into the misty night. His damn boss had given him enough work that only two of him could actually finish on time, resulting him having to work late into the night for the past few weeks.
Fishing a cigarette from his pocket, he quickly lit it before taking a drag, beginning to walk to the nearby lot. He felt old on nights like these. No longer was he a knight in a suit of armour with a sword, prepared to defend his fief, just as no longer was he a "barbarian", an imperial power or a pirate, a weapon always with him. His sword was now words written on paper, his spear was sanctions and knife was debate, his shield was alliances with other nations. He wasn't certain he could keep up as with each passing decade; change seemed to happen more and more rapidly (humans having difficulty keeping up, never mind him!), the wide world seeming to close in with no place to hide and everyone was busy and working and there never seemed to be any time, just more and more paperwork...What he wouldn't give to back briefly to his pirate days when the only person he answered to was himself, his only concern was his next target or safe berth and he only concerned himself with the deck under his feet, his crew and the wind in his sails. None of this diplomatic tiptoeing and word twisting; everything was much more clear cut he either would tolerate you or he wouldn't and would run you through. Simple.
On the bright side, leaving work at a time like this meant that the streets were quiet and peaceful and looking up, England could slightly make out the stars (which were never as clear they should be, damn light pollution). He passed under the street lights, his feet lightly crunching the gravel, to where his car was parked, letting the cigarette hang loosely from his lips as he searched through his pockets for his keys.
At last finding them, he pulled them out with a grunt and opened the drivers side, he threw his briefcase in just as he felt his head grabbed and slammed into the car's frame. Making spots swim in his vision, however, was no match for a millenia of battle-honed instincts and he retaliated, quickly knocking his assailant on the ground.
England froze, no human besides his boss knew that he was a nation. Even all the other nations's bosses only knew what their own personification looked like it was just safer that way. So how did this human who was certainly not even one of his people come to know his secret name?
That moments hesitation cost him as the human got back up and smashed him upside the head with tonfa, drawing blood and cracking bone. England suppressed a groan, not only did that hurt and cause the formation of a violent storm a little way away from his south coast but this would result in more paperwork for him and cause France to mock him from gaining such injuries from a mere human.
He used the momentum of the blow to get in a spinning kick and knocked the weapon out of his attackers hand before the man was on him, hands around his throat. As he struggled beneath him, he ground out, "What... the hell... do you want... you mewling... lily-livered...canker-blossom fool?"
The man chuckled and simply pressed down harder, "We want to remove your toxic influences from this world. You are a cancer that has been allowed to fester too long, you sit by and watch the everyman toil while you enjoy your luxuries and simply do as you wish."
England brought his knee up quickly, sacking the human and then delivering a wild haymaker to his jaw before kneeling on his stomach and raining down blows. "'Fraid it isn't as simple as that old chap. Kill a nation? You impertinent scut, do you think it would ever be that easy? You could never succeed in killing a nation and even if you could, to do so would kill the vitality of the soil, the economy would collapse as would any semblance of society, storms and natural disasters would be never ending, the very life would disappear, leaving only a barren wasteland behind."
The man smiled up at him through a mouthful of blood, "Who said anything about killing?"
England got up, keeping his foot firmly on the man's back and called his police, keeping an eye on the incapacitated human on the ground. Though, by doing so, he missed the next few words before the man exploded, a hidden set of bombs activating with his failure.
"All we need is the heart to bring you to your knees..."
Lestrade looked at the wreckage with a groan (this just so happened to be in his jurisdiction), a crater from a homemade bomb, blood everywhere along with what would be the coroners nightmare figuring just who had been caught in the blast and very little evidence or cause.
Beyond that, all they had to go with was a phone call that cut the caller off seconds after it connected by an explosion. What was left around the epicentre of the blast pointed towards a fight, a half melted tonfa and blood distribution suggested two people and they were presently trying to find the whereabouts of the owner of the blue original 1963 mini.
But that was it.
There were no terrorists groups claiming responsibility. There was no ruptured gas line or some other such nonsense. So far, his forensics team and officers couldn't even identify the type of explosive used.
He toyed with his cell in his pocket, he didn't want to call the insufferable know-it-all but he was certain he'd hear from the prat sooner or later. A case like this, well, it was right up his alley, too many unknowns, police baffled, a corpse (or what was left of one) and one dead body when the minimal evidence pointing to there being two.
"Are you sure it isn't nitroglycerin?" He turned to a nearby forensics officer.
"It's...possible." He answered.
40L of a simple Acetylene and Oxygen mixture.
Lestrade sighed, if the consulting detective was showing interest already without any prompting, this would be a very long troublesome case.
"This is Gilbert, Ludwig isn't home Arthur and considering it's 6 in the morning, this had better be good."
They were so strict about security, no where would any of their names be pared with their nations in phone contacts and in case of tracing emails, phone calls, even letters were kept strictly on a human names basis. They would even ensure an even mixing of both human and nation contacts so if the phone were to be taken, it would be unknown as to which were which. So how had that bastard found him?
"This is a code 13029*B Sub-section... Fuck it." England groaned as he pushed his ribs back into place. Why did Germany make these codes so difficult to remember? When Prussia made a snorting sound on the other end of the line he found it in himself to continue. "You try remembering your brother's freaking codes when you would be bleeding to death." The last word turning into a hiss as his skin closed over what used to be a horrific wound. "The whatever-bloody stupid code is the one where I have terrorists on my arse who know about us and seem delighted to use whatever methods to make my life a misery. And likely yours as well."
Prussia was immediately all business. "Alright, I've just sent word out to the nearest signal to yours, Necolai the Romanian ambassador, should be there within the hour. The rest of us should be receiving the alert to go pair off with the nearest representative. Considering the annual meeting is in a few days though Arthur, this will be easier to do but also dangerous; there are far too many of us close together... I don't like this."
Arthur couldn't help but agree as he made quick work of his old phone before he went and hid in a street far away in case the signal was traced. This boded ill.
Russia had just arrived in the airport when his phone buzzed with the simple message:
Code 13029*B Sub-section 45-23 has been activated. Your nearest representative is Matthew the Canadian ambassador, coordinates 51.47° N, 0.30° W . Safe house is at the Lion's Lair. Follow standard procedure.
Great. This was just what he needed. Not only did he just have to suffer through a long flight but some stupid humans were wanting to play. He was hungry, he was tired, he had dealt with screaming children and whining adults and he had been getting very little sleep these past months. Even worse was the weather out, it was far too humid, seeming to sap at his strength.
Reaching up to loosen his scarf with one hand, he erased all contents of his phone (messages, contacts, etc) with the other before he went outside, disappearing into one of the less used paths, hiding from sight between two dumpsters. Opening his briefcase, he quickly dowsed its contents with a bottle of vodka before lighting the papers so sensitive information could not fall into the wrong hands. He took out his wallet next, there was very little in it but a debit card, credit card and some identification papers. So taking out his pocket knife, he quickly chopped each card up into small pieces before throwing them also into the fire along with his passport. Once he ensured that any sort of thing or document that could potentially be linked back to him and his true identity was completely destroyed, all that was left to do was to take battery of his phone, crush the memory chip and destroy the phone itself.
However, before he could do that, a Molotov cocktail hit him square in the stomach, knocking him back before what felt like a concrete block hit the back of his head, killing him.
Canada was nervous, Russia had failed to show up at the gardens, what would be little more then a 20 minute drive.
It had been an hour.
Acting in accordance to the Code, he was now at a nearby hotel, pacing. He had quickly "obtained" a new phone (he was sure the other man wouldn't miss it) and used it to send an email to the English government's internal affairs officer. The poor man who secretly dealt with nation affairs could then pass the message along to England who could then come with his partner to come get him. If someone had managed to take down Russia then it was assuredly not safe to travel alone.
A ping noise rang out from his phone as his email got a new message.
It was from an unknown sender.
Nervously opening it, Canada's eyes widened with horror. It was a picture of Russia, clearly dead (why was he not reviving?) before his heart just about stopped when he saw the simple message that came with it.
You're next. You cannot hide from us.
There was no way.
The ping noise rang out once more and Canada opened the message with shaking fingers.
Hotel by the Kew Gardens, room 206.
He threw the phone against the wall, smashing it, before opening the window and hopping out of his room and running. He could not let them catch him.
Lestrade was not a happy man.
First there had a murder and an explosion. Then there was an explosion and a murder and the victim's heart was gone. In only three days. Sherlock was already involved, having almost gleefully searched around both crime scenes for any signs, or rather, lack thereof. He had already said that those responsible were very thorough in their crime, leaving behind very little evidence.
As neither victim had any confirmed identity yet, all that even connected the two was that the small carving of an unshackled chain on both the tonfa and on the remains of the bottle label... This was understandable in the case of the former, but the second body was intact and yet they could not find a match in the British records. They had sent out appeals to other countries systems to see if he could not be identified but the only response had been from the Russians who had sent a garbled email saying that the fingerprints and DNA matched the entire directory. They received a follow up email moments later saying that there had been a computer error, the technician responsible had been fired and that there had been no hits.
Besides there victims being mystery men, it was also becoming frustrating as far as any of them could tell, there wasn't even a motive and that the one responsible was just killing at random.
These were the hardest and most dangerous kind of killers to catch.
His thoughts were interrupted though when Sherlock called out, "John, give me your phone."
As Dr. Watson begrudgingly did so, Lestrade hurried over in time to see Sherlock clean off what appeared to be a cell chip and put it inside Watson's phone.
Moments later, Sherlock said "We need to move!" He got up and began to run westwards. "Our killer sent an email with this phone to another person. He has a new victim already picked out!"
In the ensuing hour, Sherlock with all the skill of a blood hound - along with an actual bloodhound - managed to track down the man who had been in room 206. They passed through the hotel, the gardens, backyards, a house, doubled back through a river.
The man clearly knew that someone was after him (not surprising considering the messages sent) and was skilled enough to trick both Sherlock and the dog once or twice before they came at last to an old abandoned building.
It was a near thing as upon bursting in, a figure was seen fleeing the window. As Lestrade sent out officers after him, Watson ran to go look after the downed man on the ground but it was too late.
The man was gone.
Sherlock paced the floor at St. Bart's, Lestrade and Watson watching him wearily. It was getting late, but as Sherlock seemed on the brink of an epiphany and Lestrade's shift wasn't yet over, they remained.
Just as Watson was about to convince his flat mate to call it a night and at least return to Baker Street, two men entered, a number of men in suits behind them. The one man was tall, slightly tanned, had blonde hair and striking blue eyes behind glasses while the other was albino with white hair, white skin and blood red eyes. Both looked exhausted.
"Are you Sherlock Holmes?" The red-eyed man said.
"Doesn't matter. If it helps, he is the aid of the American President and I work with the Chancellor or Germany. Happy? Now, are you or are you not?" Came the terse reply.
"Good. We need your help and Mycroft speaks highly of you." Glasses said, shoving his hands in his pockets.
"Mycroft?" Sherlock said, before turning, striding towards the door. "I've heard enough, not interested. Goodbye."
Men in suits, stepped in front of him, blocking the doors.
"We can't have that." The blonde with glasses said, his voice weary. "This is a matter of international secrecy and the Queen herself is counting on you."
"Just who are you?" Asked Lestrade, annoyed.
"I'm afraid we can't tell you that..." The albino said, his ruby red eyes roaming over them all. "In this our Rules are clear and if we break one, well, what's to say we won't go against them all. We need something to trust so, to bind us so sorry but you must guess."
"Guess what?" Watson said irritably, likely annoyed that they weren't being allowed to leave. "Your names?"
"Why?" Sherlock said sharply at the same time, curious.
The blonde opened his eyes and looked over, allowing them to see them truly for the first time. The youth's blue eyes were overcast and deep, if eyes were the mirror to the soul then the boy's was scarred, having evidently seen a lot. Too much perhaps. "No. Who we are, because otherwise we can't tell you and you'll never be able to solve this."
"I don't care who you are. Why is an aid to the American President interfering in a simple murder investigation in London?" Lestrade asked.
"Because it is necessary." The blonde answered again. "This is much bigger then a plain murder, no, the scale is enormous, bigger then you know. Any of you been watching any international news? What's happening in Russia? What's happening in Canada? Your simple murder case has everything to do with what is starting to happen on an international scale. Do you think England won't be affected by what is coming? You must guess."
Watson sighed. "And we'll not be allowed to leave until we do?" The albino nodded. "Do we get any hints?"
"We've already hinted a lot, think at anything you've already discovered." Blue eyes mumbled.
Albino interrupted him. "I'm guessing you haven't been able to track down those two yet." He said waving his arms at the autopsy tables. "Officially, they're Ivan Braginski and Matthew Williams respectively, though like us, that is not who they are. Personal relationship wise, I knew Matthew when he was a kid through his Dad and I worked (here he shivered)...under Braginski for a while. We didn't get along very well, before that we had had a long relationship of tolerance and mutual hatred and abuse. Al here is Matt's twin and he also didn't get along well with Braginski, even having a feud that lasted years. Does that help at all with your analysis?"
Well, that was a curious introduction, with it they had both become suspects having had a feud with one of the deceased and had told them who two of them were, which seemed to ruin the purpose of the "exercise".
Sherlock sighed, going along with it. "You are both an abnormalities. You are both young, far too young for the amount of scars and old wounds that can be seen or alluded to by your posture and movements you carry yourselves like old men! The scars that I can see have clearly been made by weapons differing by centuries in technology or caused from what appears to be within, with no blade or other such thing. The way you act and hold yourselves, you are both soldiers, yet could also pass for diplomats or politicians with how you speak and yet, to contradict those ideas, you dress like unruly and act like rebellious university students."
He began to walk again as he continued to speak. "The way you stand and the callouses on your palm claim you are used to warfare and holding a weapon but others still on the fingers claim that they are more accustomed to holding a pen. Your accent is both from the South of the US, though you do not look like a Southerner, while also sounding from the American East Coast, though you act somewhat like someone from the central states but you lack the attitude or drawl that is normal for the area. Your companion is even worse, speaking with every regional accent in Germany, though by his mannerisms I would say he is from the East part. Between the two of you, your tones and intonations cover nearly thirty-two different speech patterns from what I can only assume are your respective nations."
He took a deep breath before whirling to point at the white haired man. "You are albino and thus thrice more difficult to tell what region you are from while he is entirely too pale for the South and the countryside, yet too tan for urban sprawl and the Northern States and yet, seem to share all of their mannerisms. Your aviation jacket is old, looking to be one of types initially handed out to World War One pilots yet it doesn't look like it has ever had another owner while the German has a Iron Cross dating back to when they were first awarded in 1813 and has been wearing it so long the chain had worn into his neck, something that would not have occurred if you are as young as you look. Besides the sheer difficulties present in determining your origin, it is even more so with where you have been recently. You both have mud splattered on the hem of your jeans from Plymouth which is absurd considering it is hours away and the dirt is fresh. In the American's jean pocket, I can see the stub of a ticket sticking up from the New York transit system, for an hour ago. Finally, you want us to figure out who you are but you just told us two of their full names and gave me his nickname and yet the game is still afoot. You are engimas, paradoxes."
Blue eyes, who had been named as Al by the albino, began to speak. "That was more then I expected, but you are thinking too rationally, too narrowly. Think outside the box then Mr. Holmes. Gil and I can give you Matthew's personal history, even our own if you choose, though my brother's should be enough as he shares our... fate if you will. We're twins, though it's kind of funny, our nationalities are different. They were visiting family in Stanstead, Québec / Derby Line, Vermont (AN-town is divided by Am/Can border) and were in the Haskell Free Library when Mom went into labour with us. A month premature, neither she or Papa were prepared and she ended up having Mattie on the Canadian side of the border in the library and me on the American side. Both of them got really sick and died when me n' Matt were about 6 and we lived on our own for a while. I remember that at one point we got in a fight with some Nordic kids in the area we were pretty wild then."
Al looked sad, pausing before he pressed on. "One night, it was really stormy and we got separated. A British man found me and took me in, he tried to help me look for Matt while raising me as his own. It was at a family reunion years later that I saw Matt again, he had been found by my guardian's brother, a French man and raised in Québec. Now Arthur (my adoptive Dad) and Francis (Matt's adopted Dad) were quarter-brothers (they shared the same grandfather) of a sort and they hated each other. I forget what started it, but the reunion became a bit of a war zone and at the end of it, Matt came into the custody of Arthur with me. Those years were great... " The boy took a deep breath before continuing, it was evident this was hard for him to talk about, regret clear in his eyes. "If only they had stayed that way. As I grew, I began to find Arthur to be too overbearing and stifling, it felt sometimes that he favoured Matt over me...So I took all his tea one day and flushed it..."
Everyone looked at him, waiting for him to continue but it soon became clear that he was lost in memory. The albino cleared his throat. "Yeah. Hmm. Well then. Anyway, it didn't go over well. It resulted in Francis and I going and helping the boy set up his own place and move out, he tried to get his brother to come with him but Matt refused, deciding to stay with the Brit instead. Arthur and Al have only recently begun talking again. Let's see, anyway my Bruder and I are they're second-cousins or something...Just a warning, our family is really extended and fairly messed up, we have at least a relative in each country and micro-country and we all seem to have love/hate relations. It gets confusing." He seemed to think about it for a moment before saying. "Okay, I think we're their second-cousins thrice removed? Fuck if I know, anyway that's how I know this stuff. Anyway, a little bit after that Francis and Arthur began fighting and Arthur would sometimes go to Al's house to "borrow" some things (which he claims were his to begin with) to prank the Frenchie and Al ended up getting really upset and tried to take over Arthur's house while he was beating up Francis but Matt held him off, though he got really upset when Al burned the garage down and in retaliation, set his kitchen on fire...Hang on a tic, I'm their Uncle cause Francis and Ludwig* are brothers...or are they half-brothers? Step? Wait...I'm Ludwig's brother, does that mean Frenchie's my half-brother then too? Hmmm."
Lestrade and Watson (Sherlock looked minutely bored) were now openly staring at the German, how the hell had these people gotten away with all this without a criminal record (which they could find) or being imprisoned and why were their family relations that bad?
"Then there was that time he was involved in a fight with our cousin from the Netherlands over this kid he was looking after from South Africa...oh! And that time when one reunion resulted in an enormous fight between me and my Bruder and a bunch of our relatives and he sided with the Brit... Poor Ludwig had to make Francis so many coocoo clocks to pay him back for the damage done to his house, then Ludwig flipped his lid and..."
Al interrupted, his voice cracking and clearly barely holding it together. "'Cause we were so young and we never really celebrated, we actually don't remember our birthday Matt insists...insisted that it was on July 1st while I think it was July 4th... I wish now that we just picked a date in-between so we could celebrate together. See, C-Matt is frequently overlooked because of me and sometimes those we cared about would forget about his birthday and I know it hurt him. M-Maybe if we had done that he wouldn't have felt so lonely, he wouldn't have been alone that night."
"Hold on." Lestrade spoke up. "Quite a bit of that sounds familiar. Why can't you tell us directly again?"
"Because no one can be told directly, you must guess. It's the Rule." Gil said.
"Who's rules?" Watson piped up.
"Can't tell you that." Al said, having collected himself.
"How old are you?" Sherlock suddenly asked, his eyes sharp.
"A lot older then I look." Gil said wryly as Al nodded, both of them seemed to have a different air about them then before, their focus visibly narrowing to only Sherlock, like a cat watching a mouse.
"I don't suppose either of your fingerprints would also match an entire national directory as well would they?" The consulting detective continued, clearly on to something.
"Likely," Al said. "Though I'm not so sure about Gilbert his may match only those of East Germans..."
"I'm Prussian damn it." Gil said. "Don't give me this East German crap, that's Ludwig's job."
"Speaking of jobs," Sherlock said. "You say you both work for your nations' respective governments, do Ivan and Matthew as well? For Russia and Canada...no don't answer that. I don't suppose you could repeat some of that background with just your nationalities could you?"
Gilbert smirked at him, "Oh-ho~ I think he's got it... This is even better then when the older brother figured it out! I don't think that breaks the rules, Al?"
"Sounds good, let's hurry this up." Al was beginning to look very twitchy, constantly shifting his weight and looking over to the door leading to the autopsy tables.
Gil, rubbed his hands together before gesturing dramatically. "Okay. Canada's background, the abbreviated version. He and America lived on their own for a while after their parents die. They're separated, have a bit of a run in with some Norsemen before England finds America while France finds Canada. England raises America then he and France have a fight resulting in Canada being handed over to England's custody. Shortly after, America got tired of living under England who was getting overbearing and dumped his tea. France and I, Prussia, helped him move out and live independently while Canada stayed with England. France and England began fighting again and England kept going over to America's house to borrow some things (which he claims were his to begin with) to use against France. America, annoyed, goes to England's house and ends up fighting with Canada and sets the garage on fire. In return Canada burned his kitchen. Canada also got in a fight with England against the Netherlands over South Africa and then another time ended up fighting me, my brother Germany and a few others like my cousin Austria and his wife Hungary which ended up with my brother having to pay France back for damages and a long standing grudge between them..."
Sherlock interrupted dryly. "You expect me to believe that your countries? That is most illogical."
"Bingo! And hell yes I expect you to believe it! You're supposed to be, like, like the smartest person in the world or something!" Al said, whirling around and pointing. "Now, will you please let me see my brother?"
"Prove it." Sherlock said, his voice holding a challenge while Lestrade and Watson just looked between the two, somewhat confused and startled.
"Fine." Prussia said, with an enormous grin. "Hey America!" He called to the pacing blonde who then stopped and turned to glare at the albino.
"What." he snarled.
"Sorry in advance." Then a whistling sound rang in the air for but a moment a silver blur made contact with the blonde's shoulder. The three stared as Alfred nonchalantly drew the thrown blade out of his shoulder and watched as the wound began to close the instant it left his body.
"Holy shit." Watson hissed, his eyes wide.
"Well, that proves you at least have some unknown major science on your side." Sherlock responded drily. "That or you've found the fountain of youth, which in all honesty I find more plausible then the personification of nations."
America ignored him and instead hissed at Prussia. "Prussia, because of that Ohio just experienced a minor earthquake. This results in me having quite a bit of paperwork. Which I will have to do with time. I. Don't. Have. Right. Now. I don't need anything more on my plate right now, thank you very much so kindly refrain from doing that yet again for a third time today."
"Get over it, stop acting like you're only a decade old. It was only a dagger, and the first time you totally deserved it too." Prussia smirked before he chose to address Sherlock's concerns. "I expect you to at least take it as a possibility because the sake of the world depends not only on the capture of these men but the recovery of Russia's heart. The collapse of the government followed by insurrections and anarchy that is occurring in his lands right now is happening because of the theft and it will spread. Like a disease, chaos contaminates everything it touches; citizens will become increasingly paranoid, there will be increased suspicion of foreigners, nationalism will be on the rise, the building of armies,weapons and factories, distrust of the government, frustration over recent changes on borders, trade, military, anything. It will build and build until there is nothing but hate and distrust which will consume everything. Don't believe me? It has already begun! and before the end of the decade, we will have World War Three on our hands. I don't care if you believe us or not, but we need your help in this if you help us, you will see the proof you require."
America, clearly having had enough of the discussion and was at the end of his rope turned and ran through the door that went to the autopsy area.
"Hey! You can't go there!"
America plainly couldn't care less, and it became obvious that neither did Prussia as he went over to join him to stare down at Canada.
"There." America said quietly pointing at a spot above the skull. Prussia leaned over before muttering his agreement. The blonde turned to the the three that had followed them and who were staring at them with astonishment. "Hey...docs, do you think you could remove a bone fragment from his brain?"
"Soooo. Let me get this straight. You cannot be killed unless you are officially dissolved or your country destroyed."
"So you revive when you are otherwise injured."
"So why do we have two of you dead?"
Prussia sighed, borderline exasperated. "Do I really need to reiterate? First, because Russia's heart was stolen. That corresponds to his government and capital, which is why Russia is presently falling into a state of anarchy and until it is returned, he won't wake and whoever has his heart...well, let's not go into that just yet. Needless to say, it's unpleasant. Second, Canada is still dead because there is a bone fragment imbedded in his brain which is continuously killing him. So he's reviving and dying probably once every three seconds, that why we asked if you could remove it."
"Right...You do realize we're not brain surgeons?"
"Watson was a Field Doctor once and any damage you do will be repaired as long as that bone fragment is removed. Yes, it may cause a tree or bridge to fall down or something, but in the grand scheme of things it is much better then what will happen if this continues. Canada's GDP will continue to plummet, his citizens will begin to loose their drive, those with weaker wills have already likely succumbed to feelings of depression and hopelessness and the life, the vitality, in the very soil also suffers. Please."
"Why can't you do it?" A very nervous Lestrade asked.
"Because," Prussia said, weary. "As the personification of a nation and with the present situation, if America or I make a mistake when doing this, bruise the brain tissue or anything of the sort, it would transfer as our nation attacking Canada. The governments of the Commonwealth and England will immediately support him, as will France and much of the world would as well as America or Eastern Germany would be considered the insurgents. Many would side against America simply due to past grudges, you've seen the state of international politics, all they need, all they want is an excuse. Some might even try to connect our lands with what is going on in Russia. And Voila~ Once more, a major war will result, one that will perhaps completely destroy this age. So, no matter how much we want to, we can't do anything."
The trio looked at them and saw, perhaps, for the first time just how tired and helpless the two felt.
"I'll do it." Watson suddenly said with confidence he didn't really feel.
As they sat above the autopsy room, looking in through the windows and waited for Watson to begin, Lestrade, clearly uncomfortable due to America's pacing and Sherlock's intense stare below, turned to talk to Prussia.
After a while, Lestrade, clearly curious and having been thinking about it for a while asked him, "So since you're a nation and ridiculously long lived, what was World Wars II like, I mean, what role did you play?"
Prussia looked uncomfortable and ran a hand through his hair. "Why is it whenever people learn of our secret they never ask about Old Fritz or the Teutonic Knights but always about him? Why are you asking me? I'm sure you knew the bastard was Austrian... Besides, the Rule applies for everyone, even our bosses, and Hitler never guessed who we were. Not the Priss (Austria), Herr Stick-in-the-Ass (Germany) or yours truly. He knew we were important but we didn't leave many hints as we had read his book** and had a good idea of where his extremism would lead. Then, after my denunciation for what his government was beginning to do with "undesirables" such as the mentally ill and the camps made for political prisoners, I was sent to Dachau for being an Anarchist and a threat before the war even broke out. I spent the entire war there, in pain for the battles fought in my name, my people dying both on and off the battlefield and from being dissolved into little more then a province. Germany followed a few years after (he didn't know where I went, he thought I'd died with the dissolution) having been found out for his love for North Italy, a man. Austria himself had had to go into hiding when he publicly burned the flag of the Reich (Specs did have his moments of ballsy-ness, he would give him that). So of course as soon as he did this he began to lose the war; nothing helps this more then imprisoning and abusing the very nations you are trying to strengthen, the moron. Happy?"
Before Lestrade could say anything, Sherlock sharply said "Quiet! He's starting!"
Dr. John Hamish Watson was not freaking out.
No he was not and let no one even a certain dratted Sherlock Holmes tell you otherwise.
Not. At. All.
He had only been entrusted with performing brain surgery on a dead man who was supposedly not dead and in fact a nation. Something he had stupidly agreed to do in a moment's curiosity. Harry was right, one of these days curiosity was going to be the death of him.
When was the last time he had even done brain surgery anyway?
Oh, that's right. Never! Because, dammit, he was a doctor, not a brain specialist! It wasn't like he could just take a hammer or something and start whacking his patient's head with it and shout "Get better brain!" and expect him to miraculously heal! Seriously! What had he been thinking? The man was a corpse! This was clearly an elaborate joke that the universe was playing on him! He wasn't trained for this and he is presently being requested to treat a cadaver.
Clearly he needed to be locked up in the looney bin or some more therapy, serious therapy.
Luckily before he could really start to freak himself out, the part of his brain that had saved him many times over in Afghanistan kicked in.
Calm down John. Now, Try to remember your university classes where the professor had once covered it on a lark...
Let's see...ah. Yes. He supposed that they were all very lucky that John had been a very diligent student as he had nearly skipped the class due to an enormous hangover from the night before.
Taking a deep breath, he reached out with calm and steady hands and picked up the first of many tools he would need.
Step One remove the hair on part of the scalp and quickly clean it...
Why did he agree to do this again?
Step Two create a hole in the scull and create a bone flap.
Yes he was a trained professional
Step Three Examine the MRI/CT on the wall to double-check of where he needed to go.
But there was a reason he didn't go into brain surgery!
Step Four Quickly pray that he didn't mess this up.
This would be so much easier with someone helping him.
Luckily for him the fragment was fairly easy to find and he was able to remove the bone piece with little difficulty. Placing the small sliver of skull onto the tray beside him, John turned to begin putting the bone flap back on and clean up but as soon as the piece was in place, the cadaver's eyes snapped open and the once-dead man took a deep breath.
John dropped the small knife he had been holding and had to grab the nearby table to steady himself. Up until now, he hadn't really believed the duo's claim about what they were but now... how could he not?
He then felt his heart stop as the clone of Alfr-no, America, sat up and turned his indigo eyes towards him. Suddenly it felt as if a great weight had fallen his shoulders along with a wave of hate, fear and rage, pinning him like a beetle on a card.
He couldn't breathe. He couldn't move and why couldn't he get his lungs to breathe? His world was beginning to narrow and go dark.
"Whoa! Canada! Chill!"
Then the weight was gone and he collapsed to his knees, shaking and sweating as he gasped for air.
A gentle but strong hand began rubbing his back. "Deep breaths man, in and out. It's okay. It's okay." However, before more could be said, he felt himself be yanked backwards and found himself in the arms of Lestrade as Sherlock stood in front of him protectively.
"It is not okay! What on Earth did this...Canada, do to John?"
America sighed from where he was crouched before he straightened. "He didn't do anything. If you were attacked and knocked unconscious, what would your first reaction be when you woke up?" America didn't let them answer though and just ploughed on, "You would fight right? You would be scared and angry, right? It's the same for Canada but because of what he is and that he has been dying and reviving for the better part of the day, that feeling is...amplified? The best way I can think of to explain it would be killer intent. You recall how earlier I was saying that in cases such as this, more then the land is affected? His GDP was plummeting, mass layoffs were announced, I wouldn't even be surprised if his industrial sector or something has collapsed by this point. So, he just took all the feelings of himself and of his people and pushed them out which is more then any one human can handle...it's a defensive mechanism really."
Before anymore could be said, a whispery voice cut through the silence "Sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you. Are you alright?"
The four quickly looked over to where Prussia was helping up a considerably meeker looking Canada.
Watson, now breathing easily again, gave a weak smile and said "I'm fine, none the worse for wear anyway."
The blonde visibly slumped in relief before offering a similar watery grin. "Thank you for your help Doctor, I-"
Before Canada could continue to talk, Lestrade's cell phone began to ring causing the detective to fumble for it.
"Inspector Lestrade." He answered
"Hello. This is American Homeland Security, clearance code 94562102, could you pass the phone to Alfred F. Jones please?"
"Er...one moment please." He looked over to where the others were and whispered "Does clearance code 94562102 mean anything to you? Or should I go tell the big guys in suits next door that someone is masquerading as your Homeland Security to talk to you?"
America nodded and walked over, hand outstretched as he said "That's the right code, I'll talk to them."
Lestrade then passed the phone to the curious America before muttering "How did they even get this number?"
It wasn't long before the supposed-youth wandered back over to them , tension radiating over ever part of his being.
"We need to get to the Phoenix meet-up point."
As they began to walk off and none of the humans began to follow them, Prussia rolled his eyes and grabbed them. "You're involved, you're obviously coming with us."
"What? Where are we going?" Greg said.
"Do you remember the fifth of November, Inspector?" America said cryptically before helping to drag them out of the room..
"Wait!" John protested, "let me clean up! Or at least let me take off the scrubs!"
"That was quite clever of you. Phoenix. It took me a moment but the Phoenix in that... infantile book was called Fawkes and the fifth of November, that is the Gunpowder treason by Guy Fawkes that occurred under Parliament. Very tricky."
"Why thank you," Canada said, sounding quite pleased with himself, "a few of us put together a list of coded safehouses and checkpoints for each meeting location in case of emergency. That one was one of my suggestions."
They were presently weaving their way in the tunnels under parliament for reasons America had yet to divulge but considering the worried look on his face and that he had appropriated Lestrade's phone, it was serious. They came to a momentary halt when the three nations stopped to push in a sequence about ten bricks and a door swung open, revealing another corridor.
Once they were all inside, America slammed the door shut before turning on a flashlight and pointing it at the ground where a small trail of blood caught everyone's attention. There was a brief rustling of cloth then the sounds of a few pistols being loaded could be heard before they then they continued down the narrow corridor.
As they went, America began to whisper. "This should be safe enough to explain here. The phone call I just got was from the English internal affairs officer through my own government. Romania and England were to meet up with Thailand and Australia before proceeding to their own designated safehouse but..."his words echoed ominously off the barely lit stone, "they were attacked. They were to jump to the next safehouse, Oliver's Place."
"Jump?" Sherlock asked sharply, as he always did when he couldn't quite understand something, making him frustrated. "Is that how America got over to England so quickly despite having been in New York an hour before?" (AN- remember the train ticket stub in the last chap?)
It was Prussia who answered. "Yes. It's a skill of ours we use very rarely as it is both dangerous and costly. We have to visualize the place we want to get to exactly and can...jump there. However, if any mistake is made, you can end up anywhere, you could appear in front of someone which would potentially expose us and it is very costly on our own energy and draws some of the vitality from the soil. So it's a technique reserved for extreme emergencies as if overused, droughts or diseases or something of the like can occur."
"Ah. So that is why the trail of blood just appeared, correct? You said jump to the nearest safehouse but as this is apparently Pheonix's safepoint and is certainly not the most secure or safe of places, therefore this is not where they intended to go. As such, I would guess that your comrades are badly injured and couldn't make it all the way to... Oliver's Place. That is why you were contacted to go get them, one was able to call and ask for help. However, considering you haven't mentioned England, something has happened to him. That is why you insisted that we come with you because you need our help. If you had just left us with your secret service, you would know that whatever it is you have gotten us involved wouldn't be a problem."
America smiled grimly at the front, "You know Sherlock, you certainly live up to your reputation."
Before they could talk anymore, the tunnel which had seemed to stretch on forever began to widen and then they emerged into a small room where the heavy scent of iron clung to the air.
Immediately John and Greg began to curse, both the Doctor and Inspector being far too familiar with that smell, the harsh scent of blood unmistakable. After America's flashlight showed the room to be empty of any but them and two bloody figures, Watson ran forward.
At the sound of footsteps, the brunet struggled to his feet and got into a fighting stance, one hand clenched and the other holding a wicked looking knife; though it appeared to be a bit of a struggle to remain upright.
Prussia whistled admiringly, "That's the Aussie I know. Half-dead and still ready to put up a fight."
Canada held up a placating hand and began to speak rapidly in a tongue that only the nations seemed to recognize, though Sherlock might have understood as his expression was closed and unreadable. Australia gave a sharp nod before trying to step forward but had his legs collapse under him, America diving to catch him.
Immediately Watson ran forward and began to examine both him and the other unconscious figure.
America asked, "Australia, what happened? Where's Romania? Where's England?"
After a few moments, the Australian seemed recovered enough to brokenly speak as he struggled to remain conscious. "Grenade h-it and 'hen came outta, nowh-ere...,then their weapons, they...have som-e sorta poison... won' heal...Roma, on oth'r side o'room, he...jumped 'fore us 'nd Da' stayed ta' 'old them off."
Watson piped up "We need to get these two to a hospital. So far it's a miracle that neither of them are dead from blood loss."
America had a tight lipped smile on, his fists balled at his sides and a wild look was in his eyes, clearly afraid and angry while trying to hide it, just as Prussia and Canada were.
Prussia, it seemed, reigned in his emotions first and holstered his weapon. "I'll jump us back to that hospital St. Bart's was it?" He held up a hand as America opened his mouth, concerned expression on his face, "and don't argue America, I haven't jumped today or hit a major recession as you have recently and Canada's GDP is too hard hit right now to do anything. I know you think I'm fragile because I'm technically dead but you forget I'm still part of Germany and I won't get taken down that easy so hurry up and grab my hand or arm and let's get on with it."
So America gently picked up Australia while Canada did the same to Thailand and, after a little prompting, Lestrade, Watson and Holmes all grabbed Prussia's shoulder along with that of one of the North American siblings.
Then the room spun around them and they were gone, only to end up in part of the nearby park. Luckily the sun was just beginning to come up and they were under the cover of a small bridge so very few people were about and they weren't seen. Prussia began to sway as the cost of jumping with so many caught up with him, only to be caught by Lestrade, for once accepting the help with no complaint.
America cursed, "I knew you shouldn't have done that! You are only half a nation, this weakened you far too much!"
Prussia growled as he took a raspy breath "America, you...talk...too much. 'M fine."
"You're clearly not." Canada countered, looking concerned.
"Don' *cough*, don't worry 'bout...me." Prussia quietly commented waving his hand in a it-was-nothing gesture, looking a little lost in how to respond. "Lass... uns gehen, quick...now."
Realizing they were wasting time arguing, they decided not to argue and instead simply nodded. Emerging from under the bridge, they then began to run to the hospital, doing their best not to injure the three being carried.
Their arrival threw the hospital into a frenzy as the receptionist took one look at them, covered in blood, dirt and who knows what else and suddenly doctors were everywhere, taking a now-unconscious Prussia, Australia and Thailand off with them. Canada also snuck off for a moment, before coming back, his hair cut off and dyed brown with some fake studs in his ears. At both Lestrade's and America's raised eyebrows and whispered, "If they weren't so concerned for those just brought in, I'm sure they would've noticed that I look like a body they had in the morgue up until a few hours ago."
Leaning back in the not-so-comfortable chairs, Canada, America, Lestrade and Watson began to wait while Sherlock paced, clearly lost in thought.
After an hour or so and doctors came out, saying that Gilbert Beilshmidt was able to receive visitors and that Steven Walker and Aran Thanasukolwit had been stabilized but were still in critical condition.
They sat in Prussia's hospital room as the unconscious nation lay there, connected to a respirator and looking considerably paler, something that most wouldn't consider possible considering Gilbert is albino.
"Now what?" Watson cautiously asked, clearly at a loss.
Sherlock stopped pacing, "That much is clear, is it not? We need to track down loose ends we need to find the motherland. When we find England, we should find our answers."
"And how do we do that?" Canada asked, exhausted and exasperated while Lestrade nodded beside him.
"We need to find out where he was. Most of the clues that your comrades clothes could have told us was destroyed by mud and blood but there is still one other..."Here he paused, his brilliant mind clearly searching for something before he carefully continued. "There was...the Romanian representative there as well, correct? He has since supposedly made it to one of your safehouses, that would be a good place to start."
"Very well," America answered, "we'll leave once we get some secret service here to protect the three here."
However, before they could leave, Lestrade's phone rang once more and upon looking at the caller I.D., he was surprised to see it was his wife. Perhaps it was due to that since his promotion and increase in hours, they had rarely seen each other but he had warned her that he would not be coming home until this case was solved...so why was she calling him?
Only one way to find out, "Lestrade."
"What have you gotten yourself into this time?" She quickly whispered.
"Pardon?" He asked, confused.
"You heard me!" She whispered again, sounding terrified. "What. Have. YOU. Gotten. Into. Gregory Lestrade? What have you gotten me involved in?"
"Calm down dear, please! What's wrong?"
"DON'T tell me to calm down!" She shrilled into the phone, nearly hysterical now, "I just received a bloody finger in the morning post! Now either you find another job or find yourself another wife because I can't take this anymore!"
Lestrade felt his stomach drop and he suddenly felt numb, "We'll be right there." He promised before he hung up and looked up into the curious faces of the room.
He gulped, "We need to go to my flat. Now."
Canada returned to 221B along with a few members from the Yard to bring Mrs. Hudson back with him for police protection with the promise that they would meet back up shortly, that he also just had to get something. So it was just the four of them that went to the Inspector's flat despite America's vehement protests of allowing Canada to go off on his own. Upon their arrival, Sherlock, Watson and America all quickly entered the small sitting room, the latter three because, upon entering, Lestrade was immediately confronted by his wife (who he was to convince to go join Mrs. Hudson at the Yard) and the trio wanted to avoid the awkwardness. Sherlock, on the other hand, just wanted to see the finger.
He examined the box carefully followed by the finger with fascination and began to muttering very rapidly.
"The man for it belonged to a man left hand, index finger, skin is fairly dark...from the Mediterranean area, calloused, used to work though of both kinds being formed from holding tools and also pens the dirt under the nails...he enjoys gardening in his spare time, particularly spices" He paused, taking a small pick to get some of the dirt from under the nail "cumin, cardamom and cinnamon certainly, along with a fondness for dates... slightly old-fashioned, using an old fountain pen as evidenced by the slight ink stains, partiality to rings...most telling though, is that it appears to be very fresh,as though was cut off on moments ago and moreover, judging by the slight scars left behind some modern, others...less so, I'd say he is one of yours. Know of any by that description? The Egyptian representative perhaps?
America stared for a moment completely blown away by how quickly the man had managed to determine all of that before he nodded, that sounded like Egypt.
Lestrade came back into the room looking considerably more exhausted and wordlessly sank into the nearby settee as Sherlock once again examined the box and the simple note that said "Do not interfere further, Death awaits those who help the monsters."
Sherlock appeared lost in thought for a moment or two longer before smacking his clenched hand down upon his open palm. "That's it. They're in the Imperial War Museum, the building has been undergoing repairs recently and is closed off to the public. What a better place to hide? Especially considering the ones likely behind this, such symbolism...poetic even."
"...I'm not even going to ask." Lestrade wryly commented, just glad they had a location.
"You know the motive?" Watson cautiously asked.
"Oh course not John!" Sherlock lightly snapped, as they followed them down the stairs and out to where the car was parked. "I have a working potential, hence the likely in the sentence, meaning that there are many possible options as there are yet pieces missing to this puzzle. Theories to facts not facts to theories John, else you're contaminating the case with your own preconceptions... Stop being so dull and do try to keep up."
Despite it being a week day, the museum was deserted, leaving the grounds as an obstacle course of sorts with trenches and hills along with planks, nails, steel beams, tool boxes and heavy machinery everywhere.
As they cautiously made there way inside, things did not improve. As the building was under construction, all the exhibits had been moved elsewhere, giving the place a creepy abandoned feel. Especially with the broken glass and cement dust on the floor. Despite how quietly they were moving, their footsteps still seemed to resounded loudly, the sound bouncing off the different levels and walls.
They advanced as quickly as possible, checking out the different levels but each was abandoned...had Sherlock been wrong? Soon there was only the boiler room left, Sherlock picking the lock before the quietly made their may down the metal steps.
This place was different.
It was cleaner for one thing, no construction debris littering the ground and the pipes, ducts and wiring needed for the room all appeared intact and in their proper places. For another, there were electrical lights up and running, ominous in their presence and the boilers were running, making the basement type place a veritable sauna. The concrete dust that had made it to the room, however, was the most telling.
There were footprints.
Most clearly defined but also two sets that appeared to be caused by someone injured due to the stumbling and slight traces of blood that were left behind. Reaching the bottom of the stairs, they carefully negotiated around the corner, trying to remain hidden behind the pipes as they begin to hear murmured voices.
Negotiating down the corridor is somewhat tricky as the amount of piping at the ground level grows less and less instead joining up with pipes running along the ceiling but they managed and soon the voices were clear.
"Why haven't we just killed these freaks and be done with it?"
"Patience Akira. We need information."
"But this is getting us nowhere Gahiji!" The one now identified as Akira answered.
Before Gahiji could answer, a third voice snapped, "Quiet! Both of you!"
However, Akira, an older man was not about to just be quiet, "My family, all of those I knew have waited long enough for their vengeance from these cowards who just allowed such a fate to befall them Min-Jung! The one who I seek is not even here so can we kill these two and move on!"
"Akira. Do you not think it is the same for any of us? For Gahiji who lost his entire family right before his eyes and barely escaped with his own life? For Adrianna who lived in fear and narrowly escaped "disappearing"? ...
"Don't bring me into this please!" A forth, younger voice piped up but Min-Jung ignored her and kept talking.
"And for myself who, not even born yet, lost all of my family but my mother when the government turn against us in a witch hunt? For any of us? I know you have been waiting for a long time and that few others have been waiting just as long as you but that does not make our desire any less. It's not easy but we are all waiting for vengeance, patience."
Akira grumbled and his angered footsteps announced his departure from the group before the sound of flesh meeting flesh resounded and a cry of pain was heard.
America started. He sadly knew those cries of pain too well, he had heard them enough at meetings when the hapless nation continued the pursue the last representative of dictatorship in Europe, Belarus.
Lithuania was here also.
The others noticed his reaction, John placing a restraining hand on his shoulder while he and Greg looked at him worriedly (Sherlock just looking curious). So, through his best miming and with some sign language why did the Brits not use American Sign Language? This would be so much easier in order to communicate the presence of another nation. He then mentally sighed, the stakes just kept climbing...
Egypt awoke once more, dazed and in pain, though he forced his limbs to stay lax and simply listened, trying to learn more about what was going on. He and Lithuania had been taken captive where they were supposed to be meeting up with Canada and Russia, both of whom never showed. Instead it had been men with strange weapons that injured them and prevented it from healing. Worse yet, they had somehow managed to overpower the two of them and torture them. Even now, he could feel the dull ache in his left hand where his index finger used to be. Though the oddly warm room did help somewhat, the heat comforting him, reminding him of his home.
How strange this was, what did these people want from them? How did they know about them? Just what were they upset about? They didn't seem concerned with any specific action performed by the nations, their grudge, their anger was just directed to wanting to see them all dead.
Especially England for some reason.
All of their questions throughout all of their "questioning" had to do with the British nation and what sorts of abilities the nations had. It didn't take very long for Egypt to come to the conclusion that Britain had somehow warded all of the safehouses so that these ...terrorists, couldn't get in.
He heard angry footsteps followed by a harsh sounding punch causing Lithuania, a man who had endured Russia, to minutely cry out. Opening his eyes just a sliver, he was able to see that the middle-aged Japanese man had donned some brass knuckles and was presently taking out some of his frustration on his poor comrade. Well that just wouldn't do. He was certainly no masochist, but he was also no coward and would not let his fellow nation take the brunt of what was turning out to be an awful world meeting.
So, he then put on a show of "regaining" consciousness, sluggishly bringing his head up before allowing his eyes to widen and pretending to panic acting very out of character, Lithuania was staring at him as he began to show emotion shouting in his modern tongue and his mother's ancient one, tugging at his bonds, the whole shebang.
The man smirked, "Awake are we now sleeping beauty? Allow me to give you a kiss awake." With that, his fist "kissed" Egypt's face.
That did it.
With a nod from the Inspector, America charged with a roar going for the one beating up on Egypt and Lithuania. Lestrade and Watson followed a moment later, running to take out the other three lounging around the basement. Watson rugby tackling the Argentinian woman, the only one on her feet with a weapon handy while Lestrade managed to shoot the other two in non-lethal areas as they went for their own, giving him a chance to cuff them.
It was over in moments.
As Watson and America began to free the two chained to the nearby pipes and look after their wounds, Sherlock and Lestrade went to go question their captives. However, as they did so, they were astonished to see them all with blood around their mouths, something was very wrong.
However, he realized the true danger when the one woman (Korean, likely the one called Min-Jung) began to chuckle, a bone-chilling laugh. "We were expecting you Mr. Holmes."
Sherlock froze before his mind went into overdrive. They had swallowed something, a poison perhaps that would keep them and any information they had from falling into enemy hands. This theory was confirmed when one of them went limp as death took hold, his eyes glassing over. " Do you really think that we would so easily allow you to come here and rescue them? It is too bad you threw your lot in with the monsters Mr. Holmes, Inspector. The ones who did nothing to ease any suffering and languished in luxury as the citizens they were to protect died around them. Tell me, do you think even America is strong enough, powerful enough or that he even cares enough to protect you from what happens when all the safety features on a boiler fails, nevermind three?"
"Run!" Sherlock cried out, America and John helping Lithuania and Egypt to their feet, beginning to make a mad dash for the exit.
"Die!" She laughed once more before her eyes clouded over in death.
They were almost to the exit when at least one of the boilers blew, shooting up through the floor sending tile and various shrapnel everywhere. In that single instant, Watson felt himself be tackled to the ground by the nation that had dark brown hair (Lithuania was it?) and covered. When the dust finally settled, they were well and thoroughly buried under rubble.
Watson did a brief assessment of his own injuries and was pleased when he felt everything respond. He was sore but nothing was broken or worse, he was about to Lithuania when he felt something warm fall on his cheek. His heart stopped. The man...person...nation?...had been so injured before he shielded him from a falling building! National economy or whatever it was America had said helped them heal couldn't help everything he was sure.
So, in a shaken voice he asked, "Are you alright?"
However, Lithuania was prevented from answering when the concrete above them was shifted before being thrown and a very bloody and relieved looking America leaned down to help fish them out before doing the same thing for where Egypt and Sherlock were buried.
Only a few minutes after all of them were back up at the surface and the nations had begun to remove all shrapnel from their skin and properly treat the injuries caused by the poison treated weapons, the surgeon inside John wincing as they did so , Canada came running over, out-of-breath officers following close behind while sirens began screaming in the distance.
"Al! What did you do?" He said, once he was in earshot.
"Boiler room exploded." He answered as if that answered everything once he removed the last bit of metal from his skin, sighing as the skin closed properly once more.
Sighing, knowing he really wasn't going to get much more of an explanation, he turned to Sherlock. After a few minutes, he gave a self-satisfied smirk, the one he wore when things finally came together. They then began to talk; or rather, Sherlock began explaining, and they listened.
The terrorists were comprised of those who had suffered or who had had family suffer or were nationalists that were furious over certain events that had happened in their nations. They had somehow found out about the existence of the personifications and had been furious that these immortal beings that were supposed to represent them had done nothing to prevent their fate. Akira's twin and parents along with their entire neighbourhood had died in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he had only survived as he had been in a bunker when the blast occurred, running messages back and forth. Gahiji had lived through the Rwandan massacre, had felt the world betray him as they did not step in to stop the killings, not until his wife and child were dead. Min-Jung's family had been accused of being a communist sympathizer in the 50's in Korea and her pregnant mother had just managed to avoid death in the Bodo League Massacre. Adrianna was a rebellious student in the Dirty War in Argentina who still bore the scars from what had happened to her and the mental ones from what she had managed to avoid happening to her.
Then as Matthew had come to tell him, they had at last been able to find out who one of the victims was in the explosion in the car parking lot. Rajesh had been an Indian nationalist who's family had suffered greatly with British occupation and had wanted vengeance, the the blood sample they had been unable to make heads or tails of but Matthew knew, it had been Arthur's. He had also gone and done some of his own research and in his digging has found some recent arrests that might have something to do with their own problem.
Mykhaylo, a Ukrainian Chernobyl survivor had been arrested the day before as he had been trying to through some highly suspicious items into the river, namely one cell phone and some blood-stained sneakers. The cell was found to have the IP address from which the emails were then sent to Matthew's email. Yue was a Chinese refugee turned immigrant after having fled during the famine with her parents who had been working in Parliament, though she had recently been fired as she had been found to be wandering around the top secret part of the Internal Affairs department. Then there was Jack, who Matthew remembered as the man who had nearly killed him and taken his heart, a Cree-Canadian who resented what had been done to himself and his people through the residential school system. With his description, the Yard had managed to apprehend him as he tried to sneak over the Channel to France.
With them, the police had been able to track down a number of potential members of this terrorist group - including the embarrassing leak in their Internal Affairs department - and had already sent out a list to other governments of potential risks within their own borders. It had also been through these investigation that they had found a partially burned letter, the contents of which Canada had also been told.
These were angry souls, frustrated and betrayed had gradually managed to find each other and a common cause. The deaths (of a sort) of the symbols of the treachery that had befallen them. They wanted to collect the hearts of those they managed to talk out in order to enforce their own regime, one that they'd deluded themselves into thinking would put an end to the violence, suspicion and death.
No more war.
No more poverty.
No more inequality.
They had wanted to create a utopia.
Sherlock spelled these facts out, plain and simple, next pulling out a cellphone and a wallet he'd managed to nick out of the terrorists backpack and going over the contents with them. Sherlock could look at a name, the sorts of texts sent (though they were all encoded) and how they were sent could give away exactly where they were from. There were those from the Middle-East, from Iran and Iraq along with many others from Africa from areas like Ethiopia and Sudan, from all over Europe and North America (America's fists clenched as Sherlock pointed out names that were his) and Oceania.
That was just the tip of the iceburg though and they all knew it. History was not especially kind to those that weren't male, white and at least middle class and even then...If they the personifications had held onto all the grudges of their people then America was sure they'd have all gone insane long ago. There was only so much hate they could tolerate, they had always had to move on not exactly forgive and forget but rather make their peace with the fact that it was in the past and nothing could now be done about it because when they became too involved in an issue, so to did their citizens. It was too bad that these people had been unable to do just that because they were now on a destructive path, one that put them directly at odds were the oldest and most destructive-when-angered beings that still walked the Earth.
After all, the laws of celestial mechanics dictate that when two objects collide, there's always damage on a collateral nature.
And America intended to be the one to give out that damage.
Through what he had learned from Australia and Thailand and with the phone and receipts, Sherlock was able to pinpoint two different locations where he believed England was and where Russia's heart was being kept. Westminster Abbey and the Bank of England.
After receiving minimal treatment for their injuries, the two rescued nations insisted on remaining with them until the case was solved, despite efforts to convince them otherwise. So they divided, Egypt, Lithuania, Sherlock and Watson going to the Bank of England with Yard back up while Lestrade, Canada and America went to the Abbey.
As they walked up to the large doors, Watson asked, "The heart is here? How did they even sneak it in?"
"Yes." Sherlock answered "The receipt in Adrianna's wallet states that she deposited a parcel at 10:03, shortly after the time when Russia was attacked. Mykhaylo and she worked together and while he went to get rid of the evidence against them, she went her. The heart was kept in an airtight box, but, as you know, the teller is supposed to check the contents. So what then? Logically, the one who supposed to check the contents was on their side See the name? Hakim Krama, an Algerian name, judging by this, his signature and how it was written graphology does have some valid points he is past middle-aged and has experienced great trauma resulting in him becoming mentally unstable and develop a complete lack of empathy. Thus, the box is in a secure facility where no-one would think to look for it due to the security."
Watson took a long breath before asking, "So what now?"
"We break in and steal it." Sherlock smirked and answered matter-of-factly.
The police officer behind them looked surprised before he coughed to get their attention. "That will hardly be necessary Mr. Holmes, we have a warrant."
The consulting detective sighed and dismissed him with a wave of his hand. "Dull."
Watson put his head in his hands and groaned "Sherlock."
"What?" He drawled back, sounding almost like petulant child. Almost.
"A bit not good." Watson reprimanded, sounding exhausted.
Sherlock looked put out before acquiescing, "Very well Watson. Let it never be said that I don't do what you want at times."
"Thank you Sherlock." John offered in turn, looking relieved that his flatmate had listened to him (for once!)
As the two had begun to talk, the officer along with had snuck around them and entered the bank, presenting the warrant to the manager of the building, the others running to catch up while their other three "escorts" remained outside.
They were brought behind the counter into a locked corridor which evolved into a great maze of lockboxes. "387 is the number!" Sherlock called out, and they began to search for the elusive security box.
Upon finding it, Watson gave out a call and Sherlock, being closest was the first to meet him there followed by the bank manager and the officer. The lock was swiftly opened by the master key and the box removed from it's hiding place before Sherlock opened the lid to reveal a still beating heart.
However, before the two uninformed men could even process what was contained within, two shots rang out from either side killing them as Watson tackled Holmes to the ground.
Looking up, Watson saw two bank employees on either side of the row running towards them, weapons levelled; one name tag read Hakim Krama while the other Drazen Tahirovic.
While he wished desperately that the manager had made him leave his own gun at the door, he heard Holmes sigh beside him, "Always something...there were two of them. How could I have missed it?"
They were now upon them, a gun pointing to either of their temples. "Hand the heart over." Hakim said.
"No." Sherlock said blandly, as though this was a great game.
His reward was to have his head slammed into the wall of security boxes behind him. "Now. Hand. It. Over. Do not make the mistake of betraying your race! They are not human. They do not care what happens to you..."" Drazen hissed through clenched teeth, leaning over him, making a vital mistake.
It was in that instant, two shapes jumped to the ground and four sharp blows caused Drazen to drop while a leg sweep followed by a haymaker to the jaw left Hakim unconscious. A decidedly unimpressed Lithuania and Egypt stood in their places.
"They never look up." Sherlock said after a moment, a grin in place.
"No." Lithuania answered calmly as the bank entered into lockdown and the British SWAT the SO13 ATB came running in to secure the building, "No they don't." They were then able to secure an escort back to St. Barts while the pair of terrorists were arrested.
They descended into the bowels of Westminster, weapons at the ready, far beyond where the public was typically allowed to go. Lestrade shook slightly, his skin sweaty where it came into contact with the cool metal of the gun.
Even he had never been this far and he had had to investigate a murder down here a few years ago. Yet the twins seemed to know every nook and cranny, each secret pathway, each tunnel behind a tapestry or alter and turning them down corridors that should be dead ends but aren't; deeper into what was seeming to become a labyrinth of stone. All along the walls stood ancient stone figures peering at them as they slunk by and the non-period lighting illuminating each area eerily.
He needed a vacation. After this case...he was more likely to have a mental breakdown then be of any assistance for the next few weeks.
Yes, a good long vacation was what the doctor ordered...
...Just how far underground did these passages go? They still continued to descend as they had for the past few minutes. It was getting a little disturbing honestly.
At last they emerged into what appeared to be an enormous cavern, a small lake to the side. However, it was not that that had Lestrade and the two nations stifling gasps. By the edge of the lake, hovering slightly within a cocoon of water was Arthur. His hands hovering in front of him as though about to grip the blade that rose from beneath him; which, upon closer inspection, was held by a lily white hand.
He couldn't stop the minute gasp that escaped him now. It was like the Arthurian legends told, the Lady of the Lake holding out Excalibur...
They were jolted out of their thoughts when a booming voice broke the silence "Balam! Have you figured out how to disable this...enchantment yet?"
The unfortunate Balam spoke up "No, it resists any sort of outside stimulation. It appears it must be broken from within."
The voice began to talk sarcastically "And how are we going to go about that? Excuse me, Mr. England, could you please lower your shield so we can kill you and remove your heart?"
"Shut up Hung," Balam retorted, "I don't hear you offering any suggestions."
The pair descended into bickering while the few other members lounged around the area, clearly used to the fighting, before Lestrade felt the cool metal of a knife kiss the skin of his throat.
"I have one." Came the voice behind him, "Perhaps, should someone important to him be injured directly in front of him, he would lower the spell."
"Oliver?" Hung said as all the others in the area turned to where the trio had concealed themselves.
America began to turn only to freeze upon seeing both Lestrade and Canada with dirks across their throats, poisoned no doubt and had a blade be lowered at their own throats.
"Come on now. Let the rats come forward." With some poking and prodding, the three reluctantly stepped out into the open.
America could barely hold it together anymore. He couldn't think clearly a haze setting over his mind muting Canada's and Lestrade's appeals for them to stop and sharpening the pain.
They had begun with him, thinking that he was closest to the England. With a deadly blade threatening his brother (and to a lesser degree Lestrade, after all he hadn't known the human for a few thousand years), America didn't dear move while he was hurt.
Each slash seemed to leave a wake of fire in it's wake, the minor injuries seeming more painful then the worst one he had ever had. Then, as though he was bored and tired of no visible reaction, Oliver lunged forward and Al screamed out in pain as the blade pierced his side while his head was simultaneously wrenched back to an unnatural angle.
However, before the violence could continue, a rumbling sound and quick as thought, tendrils of water swatted the terrorists to the ground. Looking over, he could see the watery prison that had held England slowly breaking apart, like spring runoff as snow melted. Blinking he missed the movement but he heard Balam cry out and suddenly America's rapidly darkening vision was filled by England's back and then Canada's face as he ran over.
The former British Empire was holding Excalibur perpendicular to the ground, his eyes glittering with fury and his voice laced with acid as he hissed until the still air. "You children are incredibly foolish to take on an old pirate on his home turf. How much do you know of nations? If you had truly done your research, you would know...it doesn't do to make us angry."
Lestrade felt a... tug. A call to arms while at the same time he was hit by a wave of overwhelming power and emotion, something felt his entire being down to his very core, his knees nearly buckling as he was exposed to the full fury of his nation. This was England. The terrorists had it worst though as everything Lestrade felt was but an echo directed at them. As England walked forward, it was as though the cave came to life, the earht swirling and bucking beneath their feet and plants growing from nowhere to tangle and trip their limbs. The next few minutes were almost to quick to follow as he darted around his opponents, quickly incapacitating those who had had managed to cause so much damage in so short a period of time.
That done, he then jumped the three of them back up to the surface and the ambulance while he then escorted the Yard once more into the depths of the Abbey to arrest those that had dared cross him.
Luckily the damage to their nations was minimal.
There were a few earthquakes, collapsed bridges and buildings, fires, extreme heat waves and a downturning economy but there was nothing permanently done. Already the nations that had managed to avoid capture were helping bail out those that had been and helping them rebuild. The task of recovering was also improved when Watson and a group of doctors were able to find a cure for the poison administered, allowing their injuries to truly heal.
However, the humans had still seen them injured and, to be quite frank, they all needed a break so they pretended to still be wounded and remained on bed rest at St. Barts.
It was when they were in Gilbert and Alfred's room once more that the police once more arrived. In the form of Watson and Holmes's favourite member of the police force, Sally Donovon.
"What have you managed to do this time Freak?"
Before anyone could say anything though Lestrade put his head in his hands after shooting an apologetic look to Sherlock Prussia opened his eyes and glared.
"Excuse me? Freak?" He growled, drawling on his old general's voice, the one that could even make Greece wake up and snap to attention."What is this? The Victorian Era?"
Sally managed to maintain eye contact with the furious red eyes for only a few moments before she had to look away, though she still defended, "Well he is! He gets off it all. He's a psychopath and one of these days, catching the killer won't be enough to interest him and he'll be the one killing! Whenever there's some sort of major case with lots of blood and gore, you can bet he'll be in the thick of it!"
Prussia stretched the truth somewhat as he commented "And I care, why? The Bundespräsiden trusted him enough to request help from him," Sally's eyes widened at the mention of the German head of state "and not only is helping solve an international incident but he also just managed to save the lives of some of my closest friends. Freak as you call him is not a title for one such as him..."
He then smirked causing both Canada and America to get a sense of foreboding, "In fact, I have one better. Sherlock Holmes, as ambassador for Germany in payment of the debt I owe you and your actions, I bestow upon you the title of Ehrenbürger von Deutschland."
Canada groaned and put his head in his hands with a mutter of "Far too impulsive." as the room fell into an astonished silence before Watson curious asked, "What did you call him?"
"Honorary citizen of Germany." Prussia answered, cracked smile on his face "So should you ever need help or a place to go, Germany will gladly answer...oh! Sherlock, can you come a bit closer for a moment?"
Sherlock paused for a moment before answering Prussia's crazed grin with a smirk of his own and did so, kneeling. Immediately, Prussia picked up his IV and tapped him on either shoulder. "Sadly I don't have my sword with me but... regardless. Rise now as Sir Sherlock Holmes of the Hoher Orden vom Schwarzen Adler...Oh! Watson! Lestrade! C'mere for a moment! I need to knight you too!"
America sighed from his own hospital bed and condemned the albino, "Ludwig is going to kill you Gil." He paused for a moment before musing "And they can become America's honorary citizens too!"
Sally just looked stunned and slightly faint as the two hospitalized representatives continued to try and give some of their nations greatest honours onto the trio with Watson and Lestrade humbly trying to refuse while Sherlock just looked amused by the proceedings.
Having had enough, Canada quietly declared "Arthur will murder you both for even trying to steal some of his prized citizens...and we're going to get kicked out if you continue to raise a fuss."
It had been a month since the case of the Disappearance of a Two-Headed Eagle - as Watson had taken to calling the case - and things had finally returned to normal at 221B Baker Street. Or at least as normal as they ever got around here, John still woke up to smoke alarms, violin and gunshots, found frozen toes in the fridge and weird experiments everywhere in the house, but still normal for them. The media circus had at last left them alone about the case and the role they had played. They were still subject to a few articles every now and again considering Sherlock being Sherlock and also due how many honorary citizenships and awards they had been granted by America, Germany, Australia, Thailand, Russia, Canada and others; but it was still an improvement.
With a grumbling Sherlock behind him (he had managed to trick him into coming to the grocer's with him), Watson climbed the stairs before juggling the groceries in his hands to fish out his keys but to his astonishment, he found the door unlocked.
Opening the door cautiously, both he and his flatmate came into their apartment and were startled to see a man in a suit with large eyebrows and sandy blonde hair was sitting on their couch, ankles crossed and sipping tea.
"Excuse me, but who are you and why are you in our flat?" Watson asked as politely as he could.
The man put his cup down on the saucer before setting both down on the side table with a click and lacing his fingers together on top of his knee. "Oh but you already know the answer to that."
His voice. It was many things, it held the sharp authority of a general yet also the loving embrace of a parent, it was inviting yet was laced with hidden power, it was so foreign yet so familiar. Each word seemed to resonate, draw them in and make them listen. Each deliberately articulated syllable called to something in their bones, to something they had known and loved all their lives...
"You're England aren't you?" Sherlock asked, deliberately as nonchalantly as possible, yet coming across as awe-struck.
England nodded slightly, small smile on his face. "Indeed. I have come to thank you lads for your assistance in that nasty piece of business."
"It-It was nothing." Watson stammered, before sitting down - hard - in the nearby chair. He was talking to his nation, one who seemed a lot more intimidating then the others they had met over their adventure.
England just finished his tea and smirked, "Of course. Regardless though ol'chap, you still have my undying gratitude and my support. Remember that if you should ever need assistance, England will never abandon you." Then he stood, quickly brushing of his pants before grabbing his coat, as though slightly embarrassed by what he had just said.
Making his way out, he paused at the door and turned slightly as he quickly commented, "Please keep making this century interesting Sherlock and Watson, your nation expects great things from you."
A few weeks later, they were contacted by Henry Knight over some gigantic hound in Baskerville.