Chapter 1: Prologue
Prologue – Last Flight of The Traveler
August 14, 2010
It started with a serene near-quietness. I was surrounded by these wondrous devices that the shop assistant called televisions. She had showed me the inner workings of one of the televisions, apparently, it had a tube that had burned out. Then suddenly there was a muffled sound of a gunshot. The girl tensed and dropped her tools and reached into a nearby bag. To my surprise, she had a gun in hand and stowed it under her jacket at the small of her back before taking off in a sprint.
I felt compelled of course to follow and assist. Armed or not, in a situation of grave danger a gentleman could not leave a lady to face it alone. I took off after her and rounded to the next door at the right. A sudden feeling of dread came over me as I saw her disappear into the rooms being rented by my other friend, a fellow inventor, the eccentric Hououin Kyouma. As I reached the door, I saw that the television shop’s assistant had somersaulted over a group of men pointing rifles at my friends. She was pointing her gun up at a woman in black whose profile looked very familiar.
They seemed to be in a sort of deadlock, both ready to fire at each other and it seemed the assistant didn’t show any concern for the fact that she was outnumbered. With her surprise entry, the others did not seem to notice my own presence. I dared to peek in and suddenly felt the same sickening but also raw fury that had come over me in the Morlock caverns in the far future. Kyouma’s dearest friend Mayuri Shiina laid on the floor with blood pooling from her chest.
“The machine!” The assistant called out to Kyouma. The woman in black tensed the finger she had on the trigger while the riflemen leaned forward ostensibly to prevent Kyouma from moving. I grasped my walking stick and yelled out, swinging it like a baton at their heads. The woman in black turned her attention to me and made her mistake. The assistant pointed her gun at the woman in black and fired three times, throwing her onto her back.
Some of the rifleman started to turn to head me off while one or two kept focus. Kyouma attached a strange headset to his head as another one of his friends, the red-haired Kurisu Makise got in front of what they had called a computer when I first made acquaintances to them. The riflemen that were focused on me tried to swing around and point their guns at me and I responded with a flurry of blows while the remainder’s rifles barked loudly. Kyouma, the assistant and Makise had no chance even while I struck at their attackers. Their equipment sputtered with smoke and sparks while their bodies convulsed and seeped with blood from their wounds.
The only one left standing was Itaru Hashida. He simply stood there in disbelief, a shadow of his relaxed, stout self. I slowly stepped over the fallen riflemen and walked over to him. He stepped over to where Kyouma and Makise were slumped and collapsed to his knees, saying nothing even while tears fell.
“My friend.” I said softly, reaching out to grasp his shoulder. “Please, we must go for a constable and a doctor. Perhaps we can help them!”
Itaru choked out a pained whine and pointed to his fallen friends. “You…y-ou can’t h-help a headshot from an AK-47, man!”
“We still have to get assistance from the police!” I said. Itaru raised his hands up to his face and lifted his glasses, the whining giving way to sobbing. Damn the man, barely out of boyhood! “Besides, these damned butchers may awaken any moment and they will be out for our blood too.”
“I don’t care anymore!” Itaru cried. “It’s not like we can change anything. The machine is fried. My friends are dead. They might as well finish the job.”
Machine. Change. My hands clenched around my walking stick as I realized my next intention. It seemed the process of time travel that I had developed never had reached practical application in the next century. In fact, it was only now with Kyouma and his friends that humanity seemed to reclaim the ability to send just mere information through time. For some reason the attempts of the agency they had culled information from that started this tragic course of events had failed to send a person through, with fatal results.
“Not while I still stand and breathe, Mr. Hashida.” I proclaimed. He looked over at me, eyes red and glasses askew. “I still have my machine. Today is the fourteenth of August, is it not?”
“Y-Yeah.” Itaru said with a small gulp. “Are you sure that’s really a good idea though? Organic matter we’ve tried to send through ends up Jell-O.”
“You forget that I have made this type of trip several times. As you can see, I am not jellified like your bananas.” I countered placatingly as I withdrew my pocket watch and made note of the time along with an estimate as to how much time had elapsed. “I will go back a few hours and bring the police. Surely several armed constables will deter these murderers from carrying out their attack.”
Itaru slowly stood up and leaned in, taking a pin from Kyouma’s white coat and staring at it. He then turned and held it out to me. I took it as he stood up and moved over to Mayuri’s body, taking a small metal toy from her open hand. He reached out and handed that to me as well. I stowed them away in my pockets and bowed my head as I took in the grisly scene for a final time before slowly starting to leave.
“I will do my utmost to help your friends Mr. Hashida. For the time being, leave this place and bring the police.” I advised.
“I’ll be behind you. I just need a few minutes.” Itaru said flatly. I nodded and finally left, going down the stairs. When I reached the door to the outside, I heard another muffled gunshot and whirled around, my blood running cold as I realized what had happened. Despondent with the loss of his friends, despite my promise, it seemed that Itaru had committed suicide.
I reached up to wipe the sweat from my forehead and then sank down to sit at the stoop. Then I reached into my jacket and withdrew my flask, uncorking it. Soon I was draining the Scotch whiskey inside of it to empty before returning it to its place. My face soon grew hot and flush from its effects as I found myself moving with a numb sensation to where I had secreted my machine.
I climbed onto the carriage made of nickel, ivory and quartz crystal and stared at the small readout at its front. Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 10:25 AM Greenwich Time, 6:25 PM locally. I manipulated the lever with a methodically slow pull towards myself until the time on the readout was 8:00 AM Greenwich. 4:00 PM, that should be more than sufficient time to get the police and forestall this terrible event. Pressing in on the locking-brake lever, I watched as the world around me began to spin around counter-clockwise slowly. People and the horseless carriages on the street began to move backwards until everything became a mishmash of faded colour.
Chapter 2: A Study in Catatonia
Chapter 1 – A Study In Catatonia
Thursday, May 9, 1895
The Traveler’s Laboratory
London, Great Britain
My name is Wells and I am a writer. This day would finally resolve the questions I had for my friend, the Time Traveler when he left me in his laboratory after disappearing in time. But it would also bring about newfound concern for his condition. We had sat down to dinner much like before, preset by his instructions to his housekeeper, Mrs. Watchett. The table however was short two places as the Medical Man and the Psychologist had left on holiday. Filby cocked his head and started to fill his pipe. The Provincial Mayor nervously looked over at the clock before pouring himself another glass of brandy from the decanter sitting near the centre of the table.
There was a sudden crash that seemed to shake the foundation of the Time Traveler’s house. We looked to each other and rose from our seats almost simultaneously. Filby made his way towards the door that the Time Traveler normally came through when he sat down to dinner with us. Suddenly there was a shriek from Mrs. Watchett and that caused Filby to wrench the door open. We bounded down the stairs and soon saw what had disturbed her so.
Our friend the Time Traveler had indeed returned. However, his mouth was taut and his clothes were dishelved. Blood was all over his vest and hands and we could even see bloody handprints on the levers and other controls of his Time Machine. His hands were folded in front of himself and then he seemed to notice us, as if for the first time. The Time Traveler bent his head forward and began to shake uncontrollably, uttering a low moan. Then to our greater surprise, something moved behind him and off from his back. For whatever damned strange reason, the Time Traveler had brought back a passenger!
The passenger was a young girl, perhaps around thirteen or fourteen. She had long black hair that ran down the length of her back and purple eyes framed in rectangular glasses. The girl appeared to be wearing a bright tan school uniform with a red bow tied under her collar. She reached for the Time Traveler and gently grasped his hand, tugging at it. The Time Traveler seemed to acknowledge her presence by slowly climbing off from the Time Machine. He bent forward for the girl to take the valise that was connected to him by a leather strap looped through its handle.
The girl then looked upon us and shifted her focus to Mrs. Watchett. She pointed to the stricken Time Traveler but said nothing. Mrs. Watchett wrinkled her nose but took the meaning quickly. She moved over to the Traveler and the girl now tugged at his jacket. Obeying this strange non-verbal command, the Time Traveler started to follow Mrs. Watchett out, still moaning. The girl nodded once and slung the valise’s strap onto her shoulder.
“I apologize for interrupting your meal.” The girl said, bowing. “My name is Miss Homura Akemi. I came back with him because I wanted to ensure his safety. But before he fell into his state, he also asked that I carry out specific instructions were we to return to his home in 1895.” Miss Akemi patted the valise.
“Are you from the future Miss Akemi?” Filby asked curious. The girl nodded and that caused the Provincial Mayor to laugh merrily.
“The man has done it, I thought this whole time travel business was a damned farce. He went forward to 802,701 and brought civilized organization back to the Eloi!” The Provincial Mayor declared.
“802,701?” Homura shook her head. “I am sorry to disappoint you but I came from the year 2011.”
“You said you had a specific set of instructions, Miss Akemi?” I asked with a glance at the valise.
“That is correct, Mr. Wells.” Homura replied.
My eyebrows raised in surprise. The girl knew my name? Then the surprise slowly died away as reason tamped it down. Of course, my friend would have told her about us if he had trusted her to bring him back to us.
“What were they?” I asked.
“I must seek two men at a London address. One is a doctor and the other a detective.” Homura reached into her pocket and withdrew a small slip of paper. I took it and immediately recognized the address: 221B Baker Street within inner London.
“You would need to go into London. It might be best to hire a cab.” I suggested.
“I apologize for imposing with my next question.” Homura lowered her gaze. “Might I borrow the cab fare? I have no British money and I was not going to just take my friend’s money, even for his own purposes.”
Very well-mannered and humble, I observed. I nodded and offered my hand to her.
“As a matter of fact Miss Akemi I am curious as to what happened. He is my friend too, so not only am I willing to loan you the fare, I will accompany you!” I said. Homura raised her head with her cheeks flushing slightly, but also with a gracious smile.
221B Baker Street
London, Great Britain
Though it was late evening, the lights above for 221B Baker Street were on yet dulled. However, it was known from Dr. Watson’s published works that Sherlock Holmes kept irregular hours for the fact that problems such as theft, blackmail and murder kept no straight timetable. Homura and I disembarked from our hired cab and I handed the driver a sovereign for the distance but also the efficient speeding of his horses. We stepped up to the black door and I knocked loudly twice.
The door opened out slightly and an elderly woman in a purple dress stared at me in recognition and then to the girl. She kept her place with a hand on her hip and bowed her head.
“Good evening Mr. Wells!” The woman said.
“Good evening Mrs. Hudson,” I said, doffing my hat and bowing in return. “Is Mr. Holmes and/or Dr. Watson in now? I apologise for the lateness but there is a very important matter regarding two friends that could use both. One of them is standing beside me.”
At that, Homura bowed much like how she did earlier to us at the Time Traveler’s home.
“Good evening Mrs. Hudson,” Homura said. “My name is Miss Homura Akemi.”
“Oh goodness. How very pleased to meet you Miss Akemi. I have never met a lady from the Orient. May I ask where you have traveled from?” Mrs. Hudson asked.
“Tokyo.” Homura smiled thinly and straightened up. “I also apologise for the late hour but Mr. Wells and I desperately need to speak with Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson if they are available.”
“I must also apologise, for Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson are both in Oxford on a case.” Mrs. Hudson said, clasping her hands together. “If you would like, I have the address for their hotel should you wish to send a wire.”
“It is very important for me to see him, Mr. Wells. Time is literally of the essence.” Homura said quietly, looking up at me.
“Well, we could take the train from Paddington and take up lodgings where they are staying.” I suggested. “But,” I then looked down at her. “You didn’t bring anything with you, did you?” I received a shake of the head. “Whatever would you wear? I certainly would not expect you to wear the same clothes overnight and tomorrow. If we are to go, let us stop at my home in Regent’s Park and pack a bag. I believe my wife would have some of her clothes that you could borrow.”
“Your hospitality is very much appreciated, Mr. Wells. Biographies and books do you little credit.” Homura said, cheeks flushed as she bowed again to me.
“A servant’s loyalty to his master’s son and redemption in Rhodesia.” Sherlock Holmes mused as he sat with me in the Randolph’s smoking room which was empty save for us. I lowered my journal and pen with a small laugh as I opened my jacket and withdrew two cigars. I held one out and Holmes took it up with those long, slender fingers. We both struck matches and lit our cigars, puffing on them with mutual satisfaction.
The Adventure of The Three Students was still fresh in my mind as it was only resolved earlier today with Holmes’ masterful presentation of the facts to reveal who had copied Mr. Hilton Soames’ galley proof at St. Luke’s College to swindle a prominent scholarship. Through the application of that razor-sharp mind, Holmes could piece together the culprit from the black clay of the long-jump pit that was found in the room. Only one man had presence in such a pit, the athlete Mr. Gilchrist, whose father was the servant Bannister’s former employer. Sir Jabez Gilchrist ruined himself on the rugby turf which left the family close to poor.
With the facts laid out, Gilchrist admitted to his deed and Bannister admitted to covering for the young man out of that old-found loyalty. Instead of sitting for the exam, Gilchrist bowed out from St. Luke’s to join the Rhodesian Police, the copied proof consigned to the fire, consciences and case cleared.
Holmes sat up in his chosen chair and drew his knees up as he smoked. He withdrew the cigar and sighed quietly.
“Here we are Watson, back to idleness. I loathe to think of the lack of crime or worse yet, the paltry and simple cases waiting to be proffered back at Baker Street.” Holmes demurred.
“Always pessimistic, Holmes.” I said, shaking ash into a nearby scuttle.
“It is not a matter of pessimism but realism, Watson. I almost wish that Moriarty and I were still dueling in the shadows of London.” Holmes replied, popping the cigar back into his mouth.
“Well for the sake of the public at large and even more importantly for your health, I am certainly glad the blackguard is gone, with his gang.” I said with a small smile. “There will be other Everests to conquer, surely.”
“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more world to conquer.” Holmes interjected, sharply inhaling on the cigar, lowering his legs to the floor and sinking in the chair.
“Plutarch?” I tilted my head in surprise.
“I suppose that classification you clapped upon me on our first meeting of ‘Knowledge of Literature – nil’ can no longer stand.” Holmes grumbled. He flicked the ash of his cigar that had formed from his slow but heavy draws into his own can. Holmes cocked his head as we both heard approaching footsteps.
“A man and a young girl, the man stands at five-feet and nine. The girl stands at five-feet and two. This sounds like work, Watson.” Holmes commented, starting to straighten up in his seat.
“However could you come to that?” I asked, lowering my cigar.
“From the pitch and duration of the sound. Taller people have heavier footfalls and slightly slower ones while shorter have lighter and faster ones.” Holmes explained. “As far as potential work, they are coming to the smoking room. We are the only two in this room and have been, ergo they asked for us at the front desk. Also, what is so important to bring a young girl to the Randolph this late in the night and especially in tow to the smoking room? It has to be something of a sinister or mysterious nature, Watson.”
Holmes took a few more drags from his cigar and then dropped it into the ashcan before rising to his feet. He stretched and adjusted his brown jacket and locked his fingers together behind his back before turning to face the open entryway to the smoking room, walking to it. I deposited my own cigar into the scuttle and stood to move to his side. As he said, a man close to Holmes’ height approached with a young girl, perhaps around fourteen in age. With his drooping mustache and profile, the face became more familiar as I kept my gaze.
“Mr. Wells!” I exclaimed with a wide smile, moving closer to offer my hand. Wells took it and shook it vigorously.
“I am certainly glad to see you, Dr. Watson and especially Mr. Holmes.” H.G. Wells said with a nod. He then gestured down to the girl. “A very strange event has happened with a close friend of mine, Mr. Holmes. This girl was apparently a traveling companion of his. Her name is Miss Homura Akemi of Tokyo.”
“Good evening Mr. Holmes, Dr. Watson.” The black-haired girl slowly bowed to Holmes and myself. “Mr. Wells has been more than accommodating but he is correct, I have special instructions to seek the two of you if disaster had happened to my friend. And it certainly has, he has gone catatonic from the events he has witnessed.”
“Does this friend have a name?” Holmes asked, reaching inside of his jacket for his clay pipe.
“His name is Moses Nebogipfel but we call him the Time Traveler.” Wells said.
“The Time Traveler. A historian?” I asked.
“In a sense. An inventor by trade and I mean this in all seriousness, gentlemen. He has created a device that allows him to travel backwards and forwards in time. Moses has found and breached the boundary into the fourth dimension of time.” Wells explained. I looked to Holmes for a reaction but his face remained reserved.
“Which would explain Miss Akemi’s presence, for she is not of this era.” Holmes said, gesturing towards her. That prompted me to raise an eyebrow in surprise and earned a nod from Homura. “Pray, come in and draw up a seat. If it is with Miss Akemi’s approval, I shall offer you a cigar Mr. Wells, then the two of you can tell me what has happened to Mr. Nebogipfel.”
Chapter 3: Data, Data!
Chapter 2 – Data, Data!
“You are correct, Mr. Holmes.” Homura bowed her head once to Holmes from the seat she took across from him. I moved to a chair next to Holmes and turned it to face her and Wells. “While knowing of your talents as a logician, I would of course like to see the reasoning that you followed to determine that I did not come from the 19th century.”
“The clothing and glasses primarily.” Holmes explained, filling a briar pipe with black shag. “Your jacket, blouse and skirt are made of synthetic materials that are not produced anywhere within this time. The frame of your glasses is also made of another synthetic and the lenses are devoid of scratches. For a young woman like yourself who has worn glasses for so long, I would expect there to be scratches in their lifetime if they were made in the nineteenth century. The only other logical explanation is that the lenses were treated with a layer of special material that makes them resistant. Also, a young girl, especially hailing from Japan would not have travelled to England alone, even during summer holiday, which has not started yet.”
“Correct on all points, Mr. Holmes.” Homura nodded. “For obvious reasons, I must ask that any written account of what I am to explain as well as the actions we may be taken to be held in strict confidence to avoid potentially disrupting the timeline.”
“This is practical.” Holmes looked to me. “We have kept certain accounts of sensitive cases held in such confidence before.”
“Quite right.” I confirmed.
“I certainly have enough literary work on my plate.” Wells added.
“Very well.” Homura held her hands together in her lap. “As I mentioned to Mr. Wells earlier when I appeared in Mr. Nebogipfel’s laboratory with him, I come from the year 2011. But Mr. Nebogipfel’s story started here in 1895. He had already visited the year 802,701 AD once and as Mr. Wells will chronicle, he left again ostensibly to return to that same year.” Homura reached into the valise and removed a leather-bound journal, opening it to a page. “However, on his way forward he encountered something very peculiar. Two people were traveling through the timestream around the years of 2010 and 2011. He slowed his time machine down and doubled back to observe. Both travelers originated from Japan. I was the second traveler in 2011 but the first was a man. Neither one of us were moving through a machine like his own. That logically caught his interest. Mr. Nebogipfel stopped in 2010 and found himself in the Akihabara district.”
“If I recall, Akihabara had experienced a rather terrible fire in 1869.” Holmes interjected, a plume of smoke shooting up from the bowl of his pipe. Homura wrinkled her nose but nodded before turning the page on the journal.
“The first traveler was a man named Okabe Rintarou, though he used the alias of Houoin Kyouma for an unknown reason. Mr. Rintarou was a student at Tokyo Electronics University and what you would term a mad scientist, designing strange gadgets with several of his friends in his apartment. They formed a club called the Future Gadget Laboratory. At a point in June while experimenting with modifications made to a microwave-“
Homura watched Holmes arch an eyebrow. “A food heating device,” she clarified. “The modifications somehow allowed messages that he sent from a communication device to travel backwards in time. Mr. Nebogipfel expressed interest in the theories behind the device and aided in developing further modifications, becoming Future Gadget Lab Member #009.” She moved forward several pages in the journal. “The main incident that brings us to you occurred in August, 2010. Some of the information used in modifying the device was gained through accessing the research material of a worldwide scientific research organization known as SERN, the Société Européenne de Recherche Nucléaire.”
“French,” Holmes said, continuing to puff at his pipe as he pressed his right index finger to his temple. “The European Society of…Nuclear Research?”
“Correct.” Homura nodded. “It seems that SERN had discovered the Future Gadget Laboratory’s work and sought to secure it by force, whether to utilize the technology or to suppress it. One of the other laboratory members-“ She turned the pages of the journal and then held it out for us to see. “Member #005, Moeka Kiryū was apparently an agent working for them.”
Holmes, Wells and I stared at a colour drawing of a woman with pale skin, light brown hair, pinky amber eyes and glasses similar to Homura’s own that was on the page opposite of the writing that Nebogipfel had made about her.
“When Mr. Nebogipfel met me, I agreed to travel back with him, at first attempting to intervene but ultimately I ended up drawing this likeness of her for the record. Miss Kiryū and fellow agents had attacked the laboratory. They had killed one of Mr. Rintarou’s friends, a Mayuri Shiina as a show of force and attempted to seize the remaining lab members and the equipment. Another lab member, a Suzuha Amane who worked in the shop beneath the laboratory had heard the commotion with Mr. Nebogipfel and attempted to assist. They provided enough of a distraction to allow Mr. Rintarou to attempt to use his equipment but the agents opened fire on them. Miss Amane, Mr. Rintarou and Miss Kurisu were killed, but the agents were knocked out by Mr. Nebogipfel. He and Mr. Hashida, the laboratory electronics expert were the only ones alive. Mr. Nebogipfel promised to try to travel backwards to head off the attack. No matter what he tried, the conditions worked out to where the lab members were killed, either directly by the agents or indirectly by strange events. That was when he went forward to 2011 and met me. We tried to work together but ran into the same problem which was when he devised of the plan to engage you, Mr. Holmes. But the interventions had taken a toll on his mind and he fell into the state of shock that he is in now. I took control of his time machine and brought him back home to 1895, then asked for assistance in reaching you.” Homura closed the journal and put it back into the valise.
“Which brings you here to me. A very perplexing series of events, indeed.” Holmes lowered his pipe. “A French scientific society with armed men at their command, murder and burglary. This certainly has the markings of a case with far reaching consequences and suggestions of a criminal network much like that of the late Professor Moriarty. Well, you did the right thing by coming here. I will accept the case.”
“Thank you, Mr. Holmes.” Homura stood up and bowed to him. “I understand that you would likely require payment for your services, which is why I have been authorized to utilize Mr. Nebogipfel’s funds for such.”
Holmes waved his hand. “There are certain cases that I take where the challenge itself is payment enough or the moral cause simply stands to where I must assist. This will not put me in the workhouse by any means.”
“The generosity of the British gentleman at hand for you again.” Wells commented with an approving nod.
“Quite.” Holmes slowly stood up and knocked his pipe against the inner rim of the ashcan to remove the ashes from the bowl. “Firstly, we should visit Mr. Nebogipfel. Watson, I think your talents will be necessary in bringing him back to his senses. We will likely need his guidance in future-Japan. He is resting at this time?”
“That is correct, or at least his maid was trying to get him to.” Homura replied.
“Then I suggest that we take to our beds and proceed to his home in the morning. Do you have rooms?” Holmes asked.
“I will return to Regent’s Park to my wife.” Wells said, standing up. “But Miss Akemi has a packed bag.”
“We will secure a room for her.” Holmes declared. I smiled as Holmes reached into his pocket and withdrew a fiver, holding it out to me. “Would you mind making the arrangements, Watson? Preferably a room adjacent to our own, or at least as close as possible?”
“Certainly, Holmes.” I said, taking the fiver before standing up with a twinge from my Afghan wound. Wells shook Holmes’ hand and then my own before tipping his hat and bowing to Miss Akemi, leaving the room.
“While that is being settled, I think this would be a fine time for Sarasate.” Holmes stowed his pipe into his pocket and held his hand out to Homura. Her cheeks flushed as she took it and the three of us left the smoking room in tandem.
Friday, May 10, 1895
My ears were not deceiving me when I thought that I had been hearing Holmes’ violin in my sleep. I sat up and stretched my arms out, wincing and pressing a hand near the scar in my shoulder from that damned Jezail bullet that had struck me down at the Battle of Maiwand. Sliding out of bed, I tried to identify the melody while changing into the day’s clothes. What I had heard drew no known pieces. Obviously one of Holmes’ own compositions though there was a peculiar quality to it that seemed out of place.
It seemed to convey melancholy and that definitely did not seem characteristic of Holmes, especially right on a new and intriguing case. Perplexed, I scratched at my mustache and proceeded to the doors that would lead to our shared balcony. The violin abruptly stopped and I turned to face a surprised Miss Akemi standing beside Holmes, his Stradivarius and bow in her hand. Holmes laughed softly as her cheeks turned pink and clapped rapidly, leaning against the railing of the balcony in his purple dressing gown. He withdrew a clay pipe from the pocket and filled it with loose tobacco that was inside of it, then found a match. Raising his left foot up, he drew the match against the sole and obtained a flame, using it to start his pipe.
“My apologies, Watson. I thought that I would give Miss Akemi an outlet to feel more comfortable amongst us.” he said, cocking his head.
“I thought as much, Holmes. It was no bother, I was waking up anyways.” I waved the apology away with a small smile.
“You may keep playing.” Holmes said, nodding at Homura. The young girl put the violin back up against her shoulder and began to play again, picking up directly where she had cut off earlier with precision.
“One of our more helpful and energetic clients.” Holmes mused, waving his hand towards the way into his room. I led the way in as he walked behind me, continuing to smoke. Pinned to the wall were several scraps of paper, connected with strings and pins, that familiar way that he sometimes filed information. Sitting open on the desk near the wall was the valise that Homura had carried, beside it Mr. Nebogipfel’s journal. It was opened back to the drawing of Moeka Kiryū which was copied meticulously onto another piece of paper that was pinned to the wall.
“Agreed.” I said, peering into the valise. There was a card inside. Curious, I reached in and closed my hand around it, lifting it up to examine it. A colour photograph of Homura was on the left side of its face. It appeared to be an identification card for a school known as Mitakihara Middle School. I was relieved to see that the English language was still in place in the 21st century, for there were translations of each of the items in the card’s native Japanese.
“Date of birth: July 11, 1997. Only one hundred and two years from now. “ I said, setting the card down.
“Including two months and one day.” Holmes added, crossing his arms. “In either event, Miss Akemi and Mr. Nebogipfel both have provided so much information in this journal that I am at a loss. We have a large amount of time available to us, but the question that plagues me is what to do after we visit Mr. Nebogipfel. This time travel business is akin to a chess game. The novice tries to make the fastest moves while at the same trying to take as many of the enemy’s pieces out of the game as possible. This usually costs them, dearly. While if one plays the long game, they can carefully measure and analyze the consequences of their move and use that information to formulate their next move.”
“In either event,” I suggested. “We need more information. Journals can only do so much.”
"An excellent assessment, Watson.” Holmes said. He reached into a pocket on his vest and withdrew his watch, opening it. “But first, breakfast.” Holmes walked to the balcony and nodded at Homura. “That will do for now, Miss Akemi. Come down with us for breakfast, if I am not mistaken it has been some time since you have had a meal.”
Homura stopped playing and then lowered the violin and bow with a nod. Holmes held his hands out and she put both in his hands. Carefully, Holmes came back in and put the violin and bow back into its case before closing it. She looked down at the borrowed dress that she wore and smiled. Together we left Holmes’ room and proceeded down the stairs to the ground floor.
We settled down at a table in the Randolph’s dining room. It did not take long for a waiter to approach. All three of us ordered tea while we perused the menus that were brought to us. Holmes would have his customary ham and eggs while I ordered eggs and sausages. Homura seemed to have some difficulty deciding until ultimately, she decided to follow Holmes with ham and eggs, while having hers scrambled.
“A blueberry muffin for my young companion too.” Holmes said as he closed his menu and held it out. “Also, waiter if you could spare a moment?” He withdrew a small notebook from his pocket and a pencil. Scratching something out, he set the pencil and notebook down on the table before tearing the page out. Then he withdrew three sovereigns. “I need a runner to fetch a map. The information is on that paper. A sovereign for your time, the rest for the map and the runner.”
“Of course, sir. I will see to it.” The waiter said. Holmes held out the paper and the coins and nodded. “Thank you.”
Homura blushed before waving her hand. “I have my phone, Mr. Holmes.”
“Your what?” Holmes asked. Homura opened the valise and withdrew a small shiny object that was rectangular, holding it up. With a press of a button, the front suddenly glowed and a clock appeared. Holmes raised an eyebrow.
“What exactly is it?” I asked curiously.
“It is a portable telephone, actually we call it a smartphone. It allows you to make voice and video calls as well as obtain information from a network known as the Internet.” Homura explained.
“The Internet.” Holmes stared at it.
“Of course, it doesn’t work here entirely. The systems that support it are in my time.” Homura said. “But when we return forward, it has a mapping system that we can use.”
Holmes smiled and took a sip of his tea with a nod.
“I will still wait for a map of the area, I wish to learn the nuances of the district in case I need to break away to conduct independent operations.” He steepled his fingers for a moment before withdrawing, loading, and lighting his pipe.
After some time, our breakfast arrived. Holmes set his pipe down in a tray near the centre of the table and we began to eat. I noticed Holmes’ eyes dart over briefly to Homura, watching her as she attacked her meal. He said nothing, methodically forking egg and ham slices. Even set in the nineteenth century, she seemed to attach urgency to everything she was doing now. To think that such a young girl was thrust in the middle of all of this. Even then, there was one thing I was curious about. The Time Traveler had found her in the timestream itself, independent of any device? Why?
“Excuse me, Miss Akemi.” I said, after waiting patiently for her to finish the portion she was on. “I wish to ask a question, if I may?”
"Of course, Dr. Watson.” The girl replied.
“What exactly were you doing before you met Mr. Nebogipfel?” I asked.
Homura set her fork down beside her plate and stared at it for a few moments. Then she looked over at me.
“I was trying to help a friend. I didn’t think it was relevant, but I do have a natural ability to time travel, but I could only go back to a certain point without outside assistance. That was the reason I rode back on his machine.” Homura explained.
“May I ask what you were trying to help your friend with?” I asked.
Her eyes lowered back down to the plate and then she reached out for the blueberry muffin that Holmes had ordered for her. She held it before her eyes and stared at it.
“She can wait for right now. Besides, with what is going on in 2010, this problem may have repercussions on that if left unresolved. I cannot help Madoka if the future is dramatically altered in an unfavorable way.” Homura said quietly.
“Madoka?” I blinked, not having heard the name mentioned earlier.
“A very close friend of mine.” Homura closed her eyes before starting to unwrap the muffin from its paper. I could not help but to notice small teardrops forming from the corners of her eyes. Holmes reached out and gently pressed his right hand to her shoulder.
“There will be time for that later. And should you need help with that matter, we will certainly be at hand.” Holmes said placatingly. Homura nodded and Holmes pulled his hand back as she started to eat the muffin, cheeks flushing.
It was surprising to see Holmes, who was normally emotionless and passive, treating her with such sensitivity. To see such considerations meant that he empathized with her in some way. A rare but touching thing to witness from a man with an iron mind. My thoughts were momentarily broken as the waiter cleared his throat behind me.
“Mr. Holmes?” He inquired.
We turned our attention to the waiter, who was holding a rolled-up sheet of paper that was tied with string.
“Your map as you requested, sir.” The waiter said.
“Thank you.” Holmes held out a half sovereign as I was reaching for my own coins. He waved his other hand to me with a small smile. “I believe I asked you to accompany me, Watson. Let your purse rest.”
The waiter took the half sovereign and bowed before handing the rolled-up map to Holmes. He pulled the string off and unrolled the map, scanning it for around two minutes before rolling it up. “That settles it then, we are ready to go. Time to pack, Watson! Then it will be a cab for three and tickets to Twickenham.”
Nebogipfel’s Home & Laboratory
A knock at the door of Mr. Nebogipfel’s home gained Mrs. Watchett’s attention and she answered the door, keeping it partially open. She looked to Holmes and mself but then noticed Homura.
“Oh hello, we meet again.” Mrs. Watchett said.
“Good morning, madam.” Holmes said with a nod. “I am Sherlock Holmes and this is my associate, Dr. John Watson. We are here at Miss Akemi’s instructions and wished to see your employer.”
“He is in bed and has decided to stay in. I am rather concerned Mr. Holmes, he has refused breakfast and even brandy.” Mrs. Watchett replied, lowering her eyes.
“May we see him?” Holmes asked.
She turned her head towards the interior and then stepped back, fully opening the door.
“I will speak to him.” She said, gesturing. “Do come in though. Shall I have tea set out?”
“Certainly.” Holmes replied before stepping forwarding, motioning for us to follow. We walked in, settling down on chairs she indicated.
“Please wait, I will speak to him now.” Mrs. Watchett said, going up a staircase in the room. Holmes looked around at various objects in the room and studied the titles of books that were scattered around.
“A man that takes a leaf from my book,” Holmes said. “Various texts regarding scientific subjects, mainly focusing on chemistry and physical sciences.”
“Two focuses that would have led to construction of his machine.” I observed.
“It should still be in his basement laboratory.” Homura said, before the sound of Mrs. Watchett descending the stairs caught our collective attention.
“He will see Mr. Holmes, mentioning your name seems to have made him the most coherent that he has been.” Mrs. Watchett declared.
“Relieving prospects,” I said as we rose. Holmes led the way up the stairs.
“His door is the only one partially open.” Mrs. Watchett called up to us. From there we took a left and walked towards the door at the end of the hall. Holmes opened it fully and stepped in.
We glanced at the bedroom before directing our attention on the bed and its occupant. Mr. Nebogipfel looked around thirty. His complexion was pale and sweaty and his short hair showed signs of unkemptness. He slowly sat up and looked to us, staring at Homura in recognition. He held his hand out to the girl, who stepped around Holmes slowly and took it up.
“You brought help.” Nebogipfel said before wrapping his other arm around her in a hug. Homura closed her eyes, cheeks flushed. Then he slowly withdrew, Homura stepping back between me and Holmes.
“Mr. Nebogipfel,” Holmes said with a nod.
“Moses please, Mr. Holmes.” Nebogipfel replied, holding his hand out. Holmes shook it once and lowered his arm. “I take it this is the esteemed Dr. Watson.”
“Quite right.” I said with a small smile before raising my black medical bag. “Would you mind if I made a brief examination?”
“Not at all, Doctor.” Moses said in agreement. “My regular doctor was apparently engaged.”
I stepped forward and set my bag on a free spot on the bed before reaching out, taking his hands. Using a combined effort between Holmes’ analytical skills that I have started to apply and my standard tutelage I took note of the complexion of his skin, then extended his arms out to full length, then let go. His arms dropped normally with no visible lapse in reflexes. Then I took out my stethoscope and inserted the tips to my ears before opening his shirt slightly at the chest, slipping the diaphragm in to press against where his heart would be. Auscultating his heartbeat, I found it to be excited in rate but heard no murmurs or other pathological cues. Then I withdrew it.
“Raise your shirt please from the back, please.” I requested. Moses nodded and slouched forward, reaching down to raise the tails of his shirt. I pressed the diaphragm against his back.
“Breathe in and hold it in please.” I said, hearing a strong gasp and intake, waiting. Then after a few moments I nodded. “Now release it.” There was a low whoosh of air that met to my approval. “Thank you, you may sit back.”
I lowered the stethoscope back into the bag and withdrew a pen, while Holmes held out his magnifying glass. I took it up and held the pen directly before Moses’ eyes. “Follow that please.”
I moved the pen slowly from left to right as I peered through the glass at each eye in intervals, then moved the pen more rapidly. His reflexes seemed to be proper in those respects. I returned the glass to Holmes and put the pen back into the bag before closing it and taking it up.
“You appear per my report, to be in good physical health.” I said before stepping back.
“That is a relief at least.” Moses looked down and buttoned his shirt. “Mentally however, the ordeal of the last few weeks has taken a toll as you know. You read my journal of course Mr. Holmes?”
“Correct. Everything was laid out in excellent detail. However, I came here to make a request that will need your assistance.” Holmes said.
“Certainly, whatever I can do to help.” Moses replied.
“While the facts are set in your journal, it is said that evidence and conclusions are best made at the scene of the crime. Which means we need to travel forward to Akihabara.” Holmes said, bridging his fingers together. “Would your machine be able to handle the trip again?”
“It should.” Moses said, looking up at him. “But I will need to make modifications so that it can take on more passengers. It’s really a matter of new seating and field adjustments. If you would not mind acquiring the materials I need, I can get started today. I assume we would need seating for three? No, perhaps four in case you need to bring an additional person, maybe small cargo.” He motioned towards a small desk. “Homura, would you mind opening the drawer? My chequebook should be there.”
“Of course,” Homura said, moving around the bed. She reached for the drawer and rummaged around, removing a small leather case, holding it up. “Is that it?”
“There it is. Wonderful girl.” She held it out to Moses who then looked to me. “Might I borrow your pen, Dr. Watson?”
“Certainly.” I opened the bag again and withdrew it, holding it out. He took it up and tested the bit against a blank space before writing a cheque out. Removing it, he withdrew another and turned it on its back, writing some things out. Then he held both papers out to Holmes. “That should cover everything and give an idea of the materials needed.”
“I will attend to it.” Holmes said. “Thank you.”
“In the meantime, I might as well try my hand at eating. Brandy and tea, Doctor?” Moses asked.
“Thank you very much.” I said. “That is very hospitable.”
“I will change and meet you downstairs then.” Moses said. Holmes nodded and turned to step out. “Would you like to come with me Miss Akemi?”
“Of course!” Homura smiled and started to follow us down.
Chapter 4: The Time Machine Mark II
Holmes had returned later in the day with workmen assisting in moving the requested equipment down into the laboratory basement. He paid them well for the effort but also for confidentiality. Once the deed had been done, we had a lovely dinner prepared by Mrs. Watchett and then finally the main body of work had begun. Holmes and I had assisted Moses down into the basement and we had begun to make the necessary changes to the Time Machine.
I have to say seeing it for the first time had been one of the most captivating sights I have encountered. It was a majestic combination of quartz, metal and clockwork, resembling a sled. I saw plainly why the modifications were necessary and walked around the machine as Holmes drew up a seat to a drafting board and helped Moses settle down. They would combine their minds, Moses would draw up the designs, they would make the needed formulas and confirm their findings.
After some time, Homura would join us in the laboratory as well, insisting on helping. Apparently she had a rather good understanding of mathematics, especially of the type that the two men were working with. It made me curious as to what life in the year 2010 was like. I had sat in an empty chair and read through Moses' journal regarding his first trip and found myself looking back at the man every so often. He had been through an adventure worthy of Defoe's penmanship as it was in the year 802,701 AD. Sailing into the great unknown, a sea uncharted. Our planned trip to 2010 would be like a small outing on the Thames perhaps in comparison.
By removing the Time Machine's seat, Holmes and Moses had determined they could set two seats in the front and two raised above in the back. This also called for removal of the railings and reshaping them into an extended form. This seemed to take the longest amount of time along with setting in the base platform for the rear seating. While waiting for the materials to settle before binding, we had all retired to bed.
Saturday, May 11, 1895
In the next day right after breakfast, we had gone back to work. Testing the integrity of the railings, Holmes had set the frame in place and had bolted it down along with the base platform for the rear seating. Once that was done, he put the seats in and settled down in each one. So far he seemed very pleased with how everything had developed.
"It has been a very long time since I have worked on a worthy project of engineering, Watson." he said, lowering himself from the seat and stepping over the left railing to approach us. "Everything appears to be in order. I take it our latest field equations still hold water?"
"Indeed they do." Moses said, looking at the equations written on the large blueprints the had made. "There always was a sort of bubble that seemed to be around me when I traveled, a kind of shell I suppose. According to my calculations, we should have nothing to worry about with our additional load."
"In theory," Holmes agreed. "But we should perform a test to confirm this. At least from the driving position I know we should have no problems."
"Mr. Holmes?" Homura broke into the discussion, raising her head to look at him.
"Yes, Miss Akemi?" Holmes looked to her.
"Perhaps you could use some of the plants from the greenhouse? Some are potted and should be tall enough." Homura suggested.
"The most that could happen is a bit of dirt and the loss of a few plants." Moses said, shrugging his shoulders. "What's a few plants and pots in the name of safety?"
"You are doing well as my understudy." Holmes said as he smiled and bowed towards Homura.
I assisted Holmes in gathering two small trees from the greenhouse that was connected to the laboratory and we lifted each one into the rear seats. Once done, Holmes climbed into one of the front seats and opened his watch, making note of the time.
"I will go forward in time by approximately an hour and return." Holmes declared, grasping the lever that would start the machine, before reaching for the other that would control direction of travel.
"If you come across any trouble Mr. Holmes, I would strongly advise that you stop travel immediately and break away from it." Moses recommended. "Even if it means the loss of the machine. With these designs and the practice already in place building the first one, I can build another. We still have time of course to help my friends."
"Agreed." Holmes nodded and pulled backwards on the first lever. There was a low humming sound coming from the rear. Tools and instruments started to roll around and shake. Moses took up the blueprints and motioned for the staircase.
"Let's give him some room, Doctor." he said.
Homura and I followed him up the stairs slightly and looked back at Holmes. He gave me a mock Army salute and then grasped the second lever, bringing it forward by barely an inch. The time machine began to rotate clockwise now and very slowly with unrestrained items in the lab scattering, it disappeared with him. Then after a few moments, it reappeared spinning counter-clockwise and stopping at its original position. Holmes pushed the first lever forward and the second to its original middle position. We slowly stepped down and stared at him.
"British engineering at its finest." Holmes declared, stepping off of the machine. "As you can see, our ersatz traveling companions have come through unscathed." He gestured towards the trees, which surely enough looked unharmed and complete.
"It seems we are all set and ready." I said, earning a small tired yawn from Moses.
"Before you go, gentlemen I wish to impart some advice." The scientist said. "Bear in mind things are considerably different amongst many structures of society. Not only are you embarking into the future but to an entirely different country. As Homura brought me back here at my direction, I recommend that you have her pilot with Mr. Holmes assisting. She can help guide you through Tokyo. I also recommend that you take and consult my journal. While I was there, I set up an account with Shinsei Bank and deposited money there gained from currency exchange and pawning of some trinkets that would seem to be of value. You may make use of it through a card I attached and a code number. Homura can advise you accordingly. Also please bear in mind the potential for paradoxes. If you can, try to avoid doing anything that might disrupt me from going back to engage you. Better yet if you do encounter me, perhaps you should advise me to go back earlier. There might be some benefit to it."
"Let us see where the adventure will take us, Mr. Nebogipfel." Holmes said, moving up the staircase. "Time to get our bags Watson and check everything over before we go."
Before following, I reached out and took Moses' hand.
"Thank you." I said.
"Thank me? For what, Doctor?" Moses asked.
"I think you have given Holmes a puzzle for the ages. I haven't seen him so motivated since his battle against the Moriarty Organization." I explained. "I have every faith, especially seeing him now, that we will succeed in our efforts."
"Let us hope so, Dr. Watson." Moses said, reaching up to massage his worn eyes. "In the meantime I think-" He then widened his eyes and started up the stairs. "Excuse me! Mr. Holmes! A moment!"
Holmes' footsteps could be heard stopping, along with Homura's. He doubled back slowly. "Yes?"
"If you should fall into some sort of emergency, I think it would be best that we develop a contingency plan." Moses said.
"I agree. How long would it take for you to develop another machine like this?" Holmes asked.
"Perhaps a week or two, less than that if I had assistance." Moses estimated.
"Very well then. If we are not able to make contact with you, and you have no communication from us within that time frame, I want you to contact the Diogenes Club." Holmes instructed. "It is at No. 15 Pall Mall in London."
"Is there someone specific there to contact?" Moses asked.
"My elder brother Mycroft to be exact. He is a functionary in the Government. Explain the matter to him and I can assure you he can gather the necessary materials but also the manpower to develop a second machine, perhaps even trusted men to follow you, should you need to go on a rescue mission." Holmes said. A thin smile formed on his face. "While I doubt it would happen, if dear brother mine decided to join you, I do make one recommendation, a rather wide seat for him on the Mark III model."
"Sherlock!" I exclaimed, biting my tongue before a throaty guffaw came out. His smile turned puckish before his chuckle joined Homura’s and mine.
Before repacking my bag, I had opened the cylinder on my service revolver as I generally did in routine whenever Holmes and I faced potential danger. The well-kept Adams revolver had seen me not only through Afghanistan but also through several cases with Holmes. I distinctly recall its utility when dispatching the terrifying, phosphorous painted Hound of the Baskervilles. Closing the cylinder, I placed it in my pocket and then checked the leather sack that I used to keep its ammunition. .450 Mark III centrefire always seemed to do the job.
With that ritual done, I made my way down to the basement to meet Holmes and Homura. Their bags were stacked atop of one another on one of the back seats upon the time machine. I walked over to it and set my own at the top, then stood back so that Holmes could secure a belt around all three. Moses sat at the lowest step and watched us as we took our positions. Homura sat at the right to control the lever that determined direction of travel while Holmes sat at the left. I took my seat behind Holmes and placed my hands on the armrests.
“Prepare yourself, Watson.” Holmes said, turning to look back at me. “This is certainly an experience that is unparalleled. Even traveling forward an hour has given me new insights.” He then looked over at Moses. “I appreciate your hospitality and willingness to let us use the machine. With success, we will all return together in one piece with the matter resolved.”
“I have every confidence, Mr. Holmes.” Moses slowly stood up and nodded to Homura. “You know what to do from here.”
“Our destination will be the Akihabara district of Tokyo on the date of Tuesday, August 10, 2010.” Homura declared. “Ideally at night, I will be targeting a lot near where Mr. Nebogipfel parked his version of the machine. This way he does not inadvertently strand us with the Mark I.”
“Very well.” Holmes said, reaching for his lever and pulling it back. Slowly the machine shuddered as it started to rise. Homura pushed forward on her lever slowly and we began to rotate around, clockwise. It started out as a slow progression around the room, as if we were on a turntable. As the lever went further forward though, its turning speed started to increase. We began to see Moses moving around like a blur, along with Mrs. Watchett and what looked like another Time Machine being constructed. For a moment, I thought I had caught a glimpse of Mycroft before everything had begun to blur. I looked over Holmes’ shoulder as the indicators spun. Days rapidly disappearing into weeks, then months and years and wailing sirens could be heard echoing in and out. I noticed the year at that moment being 1940 and glanced up as large metal craft flew back and forth, explosions bursting around us.
Homura gritted her teeth and pushed further on. The buildings in Richmond randomly gave way to taller, sleek ones and four wheeled vehicles were racing along the streets. This seemed to be 1975. Homura started to pull back on her lever while also pulling it to the right. We seemed to travel laterally and passed through various obstacles. The years were going back more slowly now as we were guided across the vast landmasses. Holmes kept his hand around his own lever, ready to disengage at a moment’s notice.
After going over water, we started to see large gray ships passing back and forth in regular formations. I thought I had caught glimpses of the star-spangled banner of the United States but also our beloved Union Jack. 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000; a brief flicker of fireworks against the sky. Now we were coming upon the islands of Japan and Homura started to pull the lever back towards center on both axes, making fine adjustments every so often. She then looked down and made a final adjustment.
“Now Mr. Holmes!” Homura announced. Holmes pulled back on his lever and the spinning stopped, bringing us into a dark alley. We all looked at the machine’s indicator and surely enough, were at Tuesday, August 10, 2010.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Suzuha Amane grimaced as she followed her target as she typically did every night. Sure, it was an irrational thought to harbor hatred for someone who hadn’t in theory, did anything wrong at this point. But with everything that had happened from there on, the events that culminated in her getting here, the promise she made to her father, she wasn’t going to let anything significant slip by her. Though the idea of just rushing up to her and introducing knuckles to the face was appealing.
Kurisu Makise of course did not notice. Instead she carried a plastic bag full of Dr. Pepper unaware, face flushed as she thought about the antics that went on that the Future Gadget Laboratory. Poor Mayuri, why did she have to have crackpot ‘friends’ like that delusional Okabe Rintorau and the perverted Daru Hashida? She sighted her hotel and started to relax. Though there was something that made her and Suzuha stop and take notice. Three people carrying bags were entering the hotel and two of them looked really out of place.
Suzuha narrowed her eyes, finding the emergence very odd. Could they be SERN agents? Innocent cosplayers? Hard to tell at this distance, investigating meant she had to come up with a viable excuse for following Kurisu. Having to be near the redhaired American as it was infuriating. But security had to be assured; at least she wasn’t jumping away from gunfire here, yet. She started to charge up at a run, waving her hand in the practice that she had when meeting Okabe.
“Yo! Whassup!” Suzuha called out. Kurisu turned and narrowed her eyes.
“What are you doing out so late?” Kurisu asked.
“Exercising.” Suzuha replied, taking a knee. “Then I saw those three weirdos.”
“You too?” Kurisu blinked in confusion.
“There’s a convention going on, right?” Suzuha asked.
“Yeah in a few days if I remember what Mayuri said.” Kurisu mused. “I guess they’re early arrivals.”
“I don’t think so. I thought two of them were dudes and there was definitely a girl with them.” Suzuha thought out loud. “They looked different from each other so I doubt they’re relatives. I was thinking SERN spies.”
“Using a kid too? And even then, you called me a spy earlier.” Kurisu grumbled. “I think you’re just being overly paranoid.”
“Want to get a closer look?” Suzuha asked with a hint of slyness.
“Paranoid schizophrenic.” Kurisu grumbled again. “Fine but I really think you’re overthinking things.”
They moved into the entrance and saw the three people lined up near an ATM. The first was a tall guy in what was a black suit that looked like it belonged in Downton Abbey. He had a matching top hat and a stick in hand. The second guy was shorter and stout with a thick mustache, rumpled brown suit and a derby on his head. Finally there was the girl, who wore a purple and white dress, small purple ribbons on her hair and rectangular framed glasses. They were all carrying bags.
The tall one opened some sort of book and thumbed through the pages, removing an ATM card. He then stared at the machine and inserted it, then looked at the book again. Tapping out the PIN number, he had leaned in and looked at the screen in curiosity. The girl reached forward and started to order a withdrawal.
“Out of towners for sure.” Suzuha said. “Though I don’t get it, it’s like that guy never used an ATM before.”
“Maybe he just didn’t understand Japanese. Maybe the girl’s an interpreter who does this sort of thing on the side for mad money.” Kurisu suggested.
“I think they’re speaking in English, too.” Suzuha said, straining her ears to make sense of the accents.
“Well the girl’s definitely Japanese, full stop. The other two are British, I know that much. The short guy sounds more Scottish, tall guy’s definitely English.” Kurisu determined. “Too old for cosplay. Maybe bankers?”
“I don’t know, I’m still leaning towards spies.” Suzuha narrowed her gaze. She turned away from Kurisu as the party of three stepped away from the ATM and made their way to the front desk.
“Well, you can go ahead and keep up the vigil then, Jason Bourne.” Kurisu grumbled, reaching for a bottle of Dr. Pepper and taking a long sip. “I’m going to bed.”
“Don’t blame me if your accomplices put your head in the trash disposal.” Suzuha smirked. “Later spy-girl.” She waved before breaking away to leave. Kurisu scoffed and started to step past the front desk to go up the stairs.
“And what names shall this be registered under?” The clerk could be heard saying in English.
“Holmes and Watson.” The tall man had said. Kurisu stopped and did a double take, turning to look at them. The girl noticed her and she adjusted her glasses. Kurisu turned away and started to climb up the stairs. Holmes and Watson? What were the odds? Now Suzuha’s paranoia was starting to make some sense, and it was beginning to get scary.
We were struck with awe with the advancement of technology and society in the year 2010 AD. As a measure of courtesy, Homura suggested that we make use of the hotel's electric elevator. Then we were introduced to the concept of the magnetic stripe key card. She demonstrated with her own card, inserting it into a slot above the door knob to one of our three connected rooms. The red light turned green and then she turned the knob and we stepped in.
The room was clean and warm in appearance and environment. The bed looked equally clean and comfortable but our collective attention was on a large panel on the left wall. Homura walked up to it and nodded.
"This is a television." She explained, picking up a small device from the dresser. She pointed it at the panel and pressed a button. It suddenly lit up and with a few more taps, we saw a middle aged woman in a black suit holding a set of papers.
"Good afternoon. This is Sophie Raworth and it is presently 28 minutes past 1 and you are watching BBC News at One." The woman said.
Holmes and I looked to each other and then to Homura who explained, turning down the volume.
"It's a device that shows various broadcasts on different channels. It's a source of news, education and entertainment." She said. "You change channels with this device, it's called a remote. It allows you to turn it off, turn it on, change volume and channels. You'll probably want to stay on the BBC channels."
"What does BBC stand for?" I asked.
"Why, the British Broadcasting Corporation." Homura smiled. She moved away from the screen and gestured to the bathroom. "The bathroom should be self-explanatory, each room is basically the same." Holmes walked over to the curtains and drew them back slightly.
"To think one has to pay extra to be allowed to smoke in their room." Holmes lamented with a small sigh.
"Oh that reminds me of one last thing." Homura went to the nightstand next to Holmes' bed. "This is a wired telephone, it allows you to make calls much like my mobile. You would likely end up calling the main desk and room service, the numbers are on this laminated sheet in both Japanese and English." Then she picked up a pen and a small piece of notepaper with the hotel's letterhead and wrote something out on it. "There is my number as well. For now I will leave you two to get some things from home in Mitakihara."
"Are you sure that is wise, going out alone?" I asked.
"I do it all the time, but thank you for your concern, Dr. Watson." Homura's face flushed slightly before bowing. "Call if something comes up."
"Thank you Miss Akemi, may you return to us safely." Holmes said, returning the bow. The girl broke away and left through the door we came in.
Kurisu inserted a coin into a drink machine and caught a glimpse of the girl she saw earlier with the two men. She knelt down but turned her head towards her, removing the Dr. Pepper bottle that fell down in the vending catch. Straightening up, she opened the bottle which hissed, catching her attention.
Homura turned towards the sound and raised an eyebrow, stepping up to the woman. They were almost exactly the same height, she noticed. Then recognition dawned on her from what she remembered drawing in Nebogipfel's journal.
"Kurisu Makise?" Homura asked, adjusting her glasses.
"That's right." It was Kurisu's turn to raise an eyebrow now. First that strange meeting with Okabe at the Radio Kaikan Building and now a girl noticed her. Though with the way she was dressed it was entirely possible she simply recalled her from some advanced study class or reading Sciency. "I saw you earlier with those men."
"We were actually going to start looking for you and your friends tomorrow." Homura gave a smile worthy of the Cheshire Cat.
"Oh?" Kurisu's eyes widened. Was Suzuha really right about these three? Did they come from SERN? Panic started to sweep through her body, making it run cold. The bottle of Dr. Pepper shook in her grasp, causing foam to leak out the sides.
"You're with the Future Gadget Laboratory." Homura said, leaning forward. "Isn't that right?"
Dead to rights. Was she going to deny it and take a risk? Looking at the girl, she didn't seem to be armed but there was that one movie with Saoirse Ronan, a trained assassin. Hanna?
"That's..right." Kurisu stammered, closing her eyes.
"Good." Homura tilted her head. "Well, you can stop being nervous now. We're here to protect you and your friends. Mr. Holmes is the best private detective one can get."
"Holmes?" There was that name again. Kurisu blinked, trying to make sense of it. Surely there was another Holmes down the family tree that picked up the famous line of work.
"That's right, Sherlock Holmes." Homura widened her smile. Kurisu made a death grip on her Dr. Pepper, causing more to slosh out.
"Sherlock H-Holmes...you have to be kidding me." Her voice was shaky and quiet. "Sherlock Holmes lived long before any of us, surely it's a great-grandson or-"
"We just arrived from 1895. Anyways, I'd recommend that you stay in your room until I get back. We have a lot to talk about." Homura waved and then shook her head at the pool of cola on the floor before leaving.
"Wait!" Kurisu called out but it was to no avail. How was she to meet them without knowing where their rooms were?
When Homura had returned, she had a black back around her shoulder and a set of what she described to be rolling luggage. She put the luggage away in her room, returned to us, putting the black bag on Holmes' bed and opening it. We watched as she removed some sort of rectangular device with a purple exterior from within. She carried it over to a desk, then went back to the bag, removing a small black box with two cables and putting it near the device.
"I happened to make contact with Kurisu Makise." Homura said, turning to face us.
"The prodigy." Holmes said, closing his eyes as he recalled information. "Mr. Rintorau also gave her the nom de plume of 'Zombie', 'Assistant' and 'Christina' respectively. A published authority in neuroscience as well as physics according to the Nebogipfel Journal. Age 18 if I recall."
"That's the one Mr. Holmes." Homura acknowledged with a nod. "She's staying in the same hotel."
"That much was known in the journal, down to the room number." Holmes remarked. "Which is why I am not surprised."
"Oh, well that is true. I didn't think of that." Homura admitted with her cheeks turning pink.
"Let us see if she is available to speak to us." Holmes said, reaching out for the handset. He picked it up, pressed it to his ear before keying buttons on the telephone's console. I was able to catch a humming sound that droned for a few seconds.
"Is this Kurisu Makise?" Holmes asked. He nodded then. "Ah, excellent. This is Sherlock Holmes." He was about to form his next words then paused, angling the handset to where we could hear a excited yet agitated female voice. "Yes, the consulting detective. You met Miss Akemi earlier. I was wondering if we could meet."
Another nod. "Capital! We will be there in a few minutes. Thank you Miss Makise." He set the handset down, rising up to his feet. "Well Watson, shall we?"
Homura was the one that knocked. The door slowly opened to allow the pale, redhaired woman inside to look out at us. She apparently had the lockchain set, but given what we were up against; paranoia was likely to be expected. Homura bowed to the woman, smiling.
"It's Homura Akemi, we met earlier. I have Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson with me as well. May we come in?" Homura asked.
"You don't have guns do you?" the woman asked.
"Just my service revolver, but we truly mean you no harm. In fact we wish to offer protection to you." I said, my mustache bristling as I pressed my hand against my jacket pocket. "In any event, I am a doctor, not an assassin."
"Very well." The woman reached up and undid the chain before fully opening the door. She bowed her head to us as we entered. We stood close, watching while she closed the door and turned to face us.
"I am Kurisu Makise as you know. She said you also knew I was with the Future Gadget Laboratory. How exactly did you find that out?" The woman asked.
"We were engaged by a client who will be visiting the laboratory very soon. He will be witness to the events that lead him to consult us." Holmes explained. "You as well as your friends are in grave danger. The laboratory will be attacked soon by armed men, led by a mole."
"Suzuha?" Kurisu's eyes narrowed and her mouth curled into a disapproving line.
"No. A tall woman with light brown hair and glasses. Her name is Moeka Kiryu." Holmes said.
"That strange lady with the cell phone addiction? Damn." Kurisu muttered. "So what do you intend to do?"
"We wish to meet the other lab members, preferably after our friend's first visit. Then we can organize a defence against those that will attack the lab." Holmes said. "It is as plain as that, if we can turn the tables then we may be able to identify them, who their employer is and importantly put them into police custody."
“That might not be as easy as you think, even if they are caught in the act.” Kurisu said, looking at Holmes. “An organized group like that might have connections.”
“Then we will follow the silk of the web to the spider.” Holmes proclaimed. “When will you next visit the laboratory?”
“Tomorrow morning. We can go together and inform the others.” Kurisu smiled thinly before reaching up to brush strands of hair out of her eyes. “May I ask a question, Mr. Holmes?”
“Of course.” Holmes folded his hands together.
“Well you and Dr. Watson are obviously from Britain but you don’t dress or even speak like you’re from this era. Is it some kind of tradition you carry on in your agency?” she asked.
“Agency?” Holmes asked.
“Well yes, I assume you have been named after your ancestor and the doctor was as well.” Kurisu said, arching an eyebrow. “I mean the only other thing that could explain this is impossible. Homura said you were from 1895 but surely she was joking, the other explanation is just..impossible.”
“You mean time travel?” Holmes smiled thinly. “Well it was always a maxim of mine that once you eliminate the impossible, then whatever is left, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” He bowed and gestured towards the door. “Let us retire to bed, Watson. We have a big day ahead of us in 21st century Japan.”
I could see Kurisu’s eyes widen after Holmes’ grandiose display. Her fingers twitched and her pale face reddened. She knelt down in front of a wooden stand that had a large metal box with buttons on its face and tapped on them before pulling down on its handle. Opening its door, she reached in and withdrew a large envelope, staring at it. As I glimpsed her before closing the door behind us, she still seemed to be transfixed upon it.