A Minor Misdemeanor

Chapter 3

Strax knew better than to hang around, once Jenny had been dropped off at the prison. Hopefully, Vastra would have cleared the party afterwards, otherwise he could well imagine there being blood everywhere when he got back.

He'd given the temporary maid an instruction to the effect that she should not stay in the house with Vastra alone, and that she should be extremely careful when preparing game or other meat for the table, as she reacted extremely badly to blood. He'd said it in a way that suggested she would freak out and panic, or perhaps suffer an episode of mental illness at the sight or smell of blood, rather than attacking her in an attempt to kill and then eat her, which was far more likely, if still reasonably unlikely, even after an extended period among primates of all kinds.

Frustrated by the situation, he pulled out a small notepad Jenny had given him several months earlier, when she was infiltrating a household as part of a blackmail scheme's dissolution, in order to gain unquestioned access to areas of the house. To aid the deception, she'd brought with her several packets of assorted medical documents about Madame Vastra, along with bills for bull's blood, large amounts of beef and for several unusual leather items from a small shop in Soho many aristocrats had not visited or purchased items in.

In fairness, none of the information had been damaging, and Vastra had spent several days drafting the medical documents, ensuring that everything in them was false, misleading and/or unpublishable in a newspaper.

As for the leather items… well, the shop didn't keep records, did it?

When he reached the house, Vastra was in the kitchen.

Unfortunately for the kitchen, Jenny had never got round to teaching Vastra how to actually operate some of the more technical features, such as the primus stove she'd recently imported from Sweden to increase the speed at which she could prepare tea.

As an almost inevitable result, when Strax pushed open the door, he immediately ducked the still alight primus, which whistled past him at head height, before thankfully hitting a wool tapestry, then landing on one of the brightly coloured wool rugs.

"What sort of useless ape designed that thing?" she hissed, claws out and clearly looking for something to kill. "First it wouldn't light, then, when I stuck it in the fire, it got really hot and started to hiss."

"Milady, please." Strax said, entirely unsure how to calm her down. That had always been Jenny's job. "It was a mistake." He continued, quickly stepping over to the device and stamping on it until it went out.

There were several minutes of incoherent hissing and odd sounds, then Vastra seemed to calm down slightly.

"Strax, get me the number two grappling hook, the metal saw, and my swords. I'll be getting into my hunting clothes."

The idea, initially, didn't seem a bad one to Strax. Leave a member of the unit in the lurch, and in enemy hands? Never! However, there was also the consideration that the likelihood of Vastra being caught, injured or otherwise troubled was high, as he rather strongly suspected that a prison would have considerable security to protect against the more nimble type of thief gaining entry or egress without permission or consent. While Vastra had certain advantages over a skilled cat burglar, such as an enhanced sense of smell, and vision at least partially in the infra-red part of the spectrum, not to mention her chances of fighting off a guard unlucky enough to disturb her being somewhat higher, he rather suspected that the result would be her in prison for attempted jail breaking.

When he arrived at her chambers, she was already dressed to conduct an intrusion, wearing the leather suit she favoured when ease of movement and protection against simple weapons were required, and was buckling her sword-harness around her waist, carefully securing it so as to prevent any movement that might hinder her during combat.

"Your Cocoa, Milady." Strax said, holding out the cup of milk and chocolate powder that Jenny had managed to begin giving her lover lately, to help her sleep.

"Strax, where is my sword?" she demanded, looking just as furious as she had downstairs ten minutes earlier.

"In the armoury, Milady." He replied. "While normally rescuing unit members is optimal procedure, in this case, the risk of capture is too high to proceed. The enemy will release her soon enough, milady. It isn't like she killed him or anything like that."

"Strange…" she mused, accepting the warm mug and blowing on it to quickly cool it. ”Normally, I rely on Jenny being around to talk me out of crazy ideas. Now she's gone for a while, and you take over the role."

"As it is only a temporary tasking, I can deal with it, Milady."

"Now, Strax, unless you want to help undress me, it'd be most pleasing if you'd go and polish your weapons again."

"Yes, Milady."

Still nursing her cocoa, Vastra crawled into her bed, before fetching out an extremely thick duvet from where it lived under the bed, before crawling under it, leaving her cocoa on the night table briefly, before turning out the modern gas lamp above her bed.

The cocoa was consumed rapidly, once the lights were out or at least fading, due to the manner of operation of the incandescent gas mantle.

Only an ape, in Vastra's opinion at least, would consider using a radioactive substance in a light fitting, but on a social visit (excepting the cyberman on the loose in the royal armouries.) the doctor had lent her a Geiger counter, allowing her the peace of mind that sleeping within a few feet of one was not going to cause Jenny any health problems, particularly after the inclusion of an ornamental reflector that happened to be made of highly polished lead, and half an inch thick, although he had helped her install a ventilator above the mantle, owing to the sudden surge of radiation when it was switched on.

As she turned over, after finishing her cocoa, she attempted to snuggle closer to Jenny, before realising that the human was currently in a cell somewhere inside Newgate prison. The motion briefly stoked her anger, before the Silurian-safe sleeping pills Strax had slipped into her cocoa put her out for the count.

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