We left our heroes departing the Bavarian Embassy, casting about for new leads for investigation. We decide to go to the pub where the unlamented Major Murchison died so mysteriously. We dawdle about shopping for a while, then arrange to arrive at the Fife and Sabre an hour before closing time. It's a slightly flashy pub in a semi-seedy part of town. When we enter, three apparent men and three women, more than half of us fay, all of us dressed like toffs, the conversation stops dead. Oops.
Looking about, we see there are NO other women here, and most of the men are wearing uniforms or clothes that look like they used to be uniforms. Outsiders, apparently, are not welcome. It had been or plan to have the ladies bustle into the loo, then bustle out again, having left Salimar inside to shrink into a high-denisty mouse and scout the pub's recent history with her retrocognition, the other two women departing with a bit of decoy glamour run by Mithriel. But we are stonily ignored, the silence is as thick as concrete, all eyes are upon us, and a bit of clairvoyance reveals the loo is a horrid bog. So we retreat as gracefully as may be and hear the conversation resume behind us.
We can hear it very well, because Tom left a clairvoyant tracer behind. After closing time, Tom checks on the tracer and finds the barkeep alone with two late customers. Eavesdropping on them, Tom finds they are making some kind of plans for gun-running or mercenary operations, or something of that sort. They finish, thank "Gunny" (the bartender), and leave. We send our cab by and drop off Salimar, who squeezes down into the aforementioned high-density mouse, then shoves in under the kitchen door, leaving delicate little footprints in the oak flooring. Evading Gunny, she makes her way into the now-empty pub and runs her retrocognition. She casts an aura of greenish-purple octarine, in the light of which she sees Murchison seated alone at a table, drinking. He keels over.
Salimar rewinds and shares the images with Tom telepathically. He notes that the waiter who gave Murchison his pint passed very close to someone who, on close examination, was Ferret Face of the Assassination Bureau, in diguise. As he passed, the waiter may have been momentarily distracted by the crash of a falling plate. So perhaps the assassin had a chance to introduce an exotic South American poison or something of the sort.
Mission accomplished, Salimar retreats the way she came, gets to the alley, starts to turn back into a humanoid, and is forced to retreat behind a dustbin, awkwardly half-morphed, because the bartender comes out to investigate the noises made by a 150-lb mouse stomping about, squeezing under doors. Eventually, she makes itback to the cab in her humanoid form.
What next? Salimar suggests we stop by a chemist's shop for equipment to draw blood. She plans to go to the morgue where Murchison's body is being kept and get blood samples for analysis. We have a spiffy, futuristic autodoc that ought to be able to help, and maybe Holmes could get something out that the coroner missed, though he has not yet met Dr. Watson.
Waxing enthusiastic on the morgue-raiding idea, Salimar morphs into a male form and asks if Dafnord would come with her (or him), since they could be readily cast as a pair of undertakers. Alternatively, Salimar could be a doctor and Dafnord could be Igor. Then they could steal the body from the morgue under false pretenses and give it a really good autopsy. We could leave Holmes a tissue sample. Say a foot. With a card, telling him, "Here's the game." (The game's a f-- Oh, you get it.) Better still, does the autodoc do re-animations? Even temporarily? We could interrogate Murchison, or do a memory audit.
No, Tom tells Salimar repressively, it probably can NOT revive any one who's been dead all day in a London summer. However, if Salimar really wants to audit Murchison's last experiences, there's using retrocog on the body, a la the Lorelei McHerron School of Revolting Psychic Applications. The best method would probably be to take the brain, or maybe the whole head, and see if the autodoc can freshen it up a little, then-- Why is he helping with this!? Tom shuts up.
We return to the hotel. Dafnord and Salimar lay their plans and leave to do whatever it is they're going to do. The others wonder if there is a way of getting an unlisted number on the telepathy net and consider going out for a show, or anything else to dissociate themselves from this.
Then Jeffry the bellhop shows up with a Confidence for us. (Tom's imagiantion pictures Jeffry in the lobby a few hours from now, greeting Salimar. "Take your bag, ma'am?" "Certainly. Always happy to see someone trying to get a head." Shudder.) There's a man known as Ragman Charlie, who buys "lost and found" items off the less scrupulous servants. He's been asking after a gentleman who's been around to see us lately -- Somerset Hall, we determine, from the description. Now why would a fence be asking after Hall? We send a warning note to Hall, and urge him not to leave his hotel.
While Jeffry's here, Mithriel creates another glamoured copy of the Report and has Jeffry take it off to mail to Dragomilov. This fits in with our strategy of disarming candor and may tell Dragomilov some things he needs to know about the uses his Bureau is being put to.
While Mithriel glamours and we consider what to do about Dragomilov, Kate takes a short nap. It concludes with a nightmare and a scream. Kate relates a dream of walking about in a fog, pursued by a hidden menace, ending when a terror-striken child rushes out of the mist at her. His suspicions aroused, Tom feels about psychically and detects a trace of something or other, too odd or close or something to get a positional fix on. But he thinks it likely that Kate's dream was sent as a harrassment, perhaps by the Temple of Ra, who have a grudge against us and are known to do dream magic.
Putting that aside for the nonce, we head out to visit Mr. Hall, staying at the Norfolk Arms a few blocks away. Glancing ahead with the tracer he left on Hall, Tom finds him pacing about looking worried. How sensible. Looks like our visit will be appreciated.
We fail to spot any minions of the Assassination Bureau or Ragman Charlie on our way to the Norfolk Arms, and Hall is indeed glad to see us. He's noticed several disreputable sorts out his window recently; he's closed the curtains and avoided them. He accepts our suggestion to move hotels and our invitation to spend the evening with us. Mithriel glamours him a disguise and we leave, taking him back with us.
Shortly after we return, the loyal Jeffry shows up again, to tell us that there are cops asking after us down in the lobby. The night manager is unhappy about it, but it looks like he'll have to let them up. Also, two of Ragman Charlie's ruffians were about.
Then the cops themselves show up. They want to know if we've seen a "Mr. Sanders" (Hall's assumed name) who vanished mysteriously from his hotel room shortly after we visited him. Seems the night manager at the Norfolk Arms got the wind up when he saw us leaving with a stranger (Hall under glamour), investigated, and found Hall gone. sigh Having abstracted Hall under his assumed name, we now introduce him under his assumed face, assure the police there's no one here named Sanders, and resolve to thrash it all out in the morning. Hall suggests he could stop by and check out to relieve the anxieties at the Norfolk Arms. (Why are people competent at the leave convenient times?)
The police also describe the pair of ruffians who were lurking about -- identified by Jeffry (to us provately) as Jack Nicker (sometimes called Jack the Nicker in a bit of gruesome prescience) and the Sapper.
Tom worries that too many innocents are getting endangered. He takes a pair of his calling cards and prints a telepathic message on each. He gives one to Hall and one to Jeffry. If either is in dire straits, they are to tear their card; Tom will then get the telepathic alarm message (though they don't know that and are very puzzled). He also puts a tracer on Jeffry, so he now has tracers on both of them.
The Mutant and the Thing From Outer Space return from body-snatching (or whatever Dafnord and Salimar did) and go to bed. We will get their report in the Next Exciting Episode.
Next morning, while Robby scans the papers and the rest of us eat breakfast, a letter arrives from Holmes, saying he'll be back in town at 4 PM. Good.
Mithriel, who has been doing very well at glamour lately, and as a result is presently too pretty to look at without a doctor's prescription, gives Mr. Hall another glamour disguise. This one, though, he can put on and off at will. It's in the form of a pair of glasses; when he puts them on, his appearance changes, rather like Clark Kent's. He's very grateful.
Next, Jeffry appears to tell us that there are more crooks hanging around the hotel side entrance. Tom and Kate go to investigate, spot the lurkers, and put tracers on them. Returning, they run into Jeffry, who tells them that another bellhop (one Martin) told him the house detective is observing a pair of toffs lounging in the lobby with no obvious business here. Robbie, it happens, has already headed down to the lobby to see if he gets tailed, so he proceeds to the tobacconist's in the lobby, watching the toffs, and waits to see what happens.
Tom kicks off his telepathic link to Robbie, spots the two toffs with clairvoyance, puts tracers on them, and waits, too.
The toffs confer among themselves. They've noticed the house detective noticing them, so they figure they should be replaced. One leaves the lobby, talks to a cab man waiting outside about "replacement," and returns. The other saunters into the tobacconist's after Robbie.
Tom now follows the cabby as he drives to a club a touch to flashy to be a real "gentleman's" club. He speaks to the doorman, who goes in. Inside, the decor runs to hunting trophies, weapons, and military portraiture. The doorman announced "turnover." Two club members change clothes and set out.
Leaving Robbie to watch the changing of the guard in our lobby, Tom steers his viewpoint around the club. In an office, he finds a very military- looking man who reminds him of the higher-ups in the Jack Patrol. He's wearing a suit that is a military uniform stripped of insignia. He's busy writing a letter in cipher, quickly and fluently. Tom duly transmits as much cipher as he can to Robbie, who is at least able to say that it is not the same cipher as Dragomilov's. The man then seals the cipher letter and addresses the envelop to "J. Moriarty."
Katrina identifies the shape of the missing insignia as that of a colonel, leaving small doubt that this is Col. Morran, sinister right-hand-man (or dextrous left-hand-man) of the infamous Prof. James Moriarty. Holmes will be very interested. Tom puts tracers on both Morran and the letter.
Jeffry appears once more, this time with a letter from Dragomilov, addressed to Nick (no longer here) and Mithriel. The letter politely warns them (and, by extension, the rest of us) away from Dragomilov's business and asks to speak with us, or, better yet, that we butt out (more elegantly put, of course). Mithriel writes back that we should meet, and we soon have an invitation for lunch at Dragomilov's house.