Characters/Pairings: Everyone, Sherlock/John and hints of Lestrade/Mycroft
Genre: Adventure, General
Ratings/Warnings: PG-13 bordering on R, rating may change?
Summary: In a clockwork world of assigned occupations and predetermined destinies, Forensic Researcher Sherlock Holmes and Army Surgeon John Watson are brought together to determine the truth about the Legacy Project. [summary set to change]
Disclaimer: I do not own the BBC adaptation of Sherlock.
Early evening. London was foggy, grey, foreboding. The street-lights flickered to life one by one as little clockwork droids flitted from lamppost to lamppost, lighting the gaslights within. A brougham clattered away down the cobbles, ostensibly carrying a middle-class couple back to their townhouse. Automobiles were for the rich.
It felt like the breath before the plunge – gloom and tension had descended upon Britain. No one felt the chill as keenly as the man who sat in his office on Downing Street. He was, nominally, the Archagent of Occupations, but he really was one blink away from becoming the personification of the British Government.
He was also twenty-three years old.
Mycroft Holmes hailed from an illustrious family. It was only five generations ago when his namesake had held this very office. A portrait of him sat across from the current Mycroft's desk, imposing despite the blatant corpulence. Mycroft sometimes feared he was heading down that path.
Squish. The fork stabbed into the cake with an air of murderous finality and Mycroft sighed, rubbing his forehead as he read through the despatches.
A knock at the door. Mycroft muttered a weary "come in", and the door opened to reveal his Protector Assistant, her face hidden behind more papers.
"The finalisations of Stamford's assignments, sir," she said without preamble. Mycroft smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes.
"Thank you, Anthea," he replied. It's not her real name. When one was the Protector Assistant to someone as important as Mycroft Holmes, they made up so many aliases that they often forgot their real name.
It didn't matter, though. She's only eighteen, and she's a natural. Her Assignment Agent had chosen well.
Mycroft took the papers and gratefully set down the depressing dispatches. It had been inevitable anyway. "Contact the Permanent Undersecretary. Tell him to recall the Delegates from the Ottoman Empire." He paused, taking in her expression. She was obviously trying to hide her shock. "I knew it would come to war."
Anthea choked back the lump in her throat. Mycroft knew why. Just last year he had approved her brother's assignment as a Soldier. He could see all the arguments, all the pleas she's restraining. Couldn't they negotiate with the sky corsairs? Couldn't they wait a little longer? Couldn't they – no. Whatever she had thought of, Mycroft had already tried.
"I'm very sorry about all this, Anthea," he said. "Deployment begins in three weeks. You have those three weeks off."
"B-but sir, what about you –"
"Say goodbye to your brother for me, won't you?"
Anthea sighed, nodding. "Thank you, sir."
Mycroft watched her go with a heavy sigh of his own, and then he turned his attention back to Stamford's assignments.
"What do you think you'll be?" Whispers and nudging filled the room. All of the sixteen-year-olds were sitting together in order of birth date; apprehensive eyes were trained on the door marked MIKE STAMFORD. Waiting. They're waiting for their destinies to be called by the Assignment Agent of their district.
John Watson sat with the March birthdays and tried his best not to look nervous.
Just five years ago his older sister Harriet had entered that office and had been assigned as a Worker. The factories always needed more Workers, and a majority of the children were thus assigned to that unless the Agent chose different career paths for them, careers better suited to whatever talent the Agent had noticed over their sixteen years of life. John wondered what he'd be assigned to. What had he done before that could show that he had any sort of talent? He didn't want to be a Worker, like poor Harry. But he wasn't sure if he had anything special enough to avoid that assignment.
"Oh, I hope I get to be a Teacher," Mary Morstan whispered from three seats away. She smiled at John, winking, and John blushed because everyone knew that he had had a crush on her since childhood. Mary turned back, talking to some girl John dimly remembered as Sarah Sawyer. Everyone spoke in hushed tones, too scared to hear their voices bouncing through the room.
Mike Stamford exited his office. He was rotund and cheerful-looking, with a pair of thick-rimmed spectacles sitting on his nose. He carried a list in his hand – their names. He smiled at them, and called the first child. So it began.
The January children were called first. John watched them – recognising some of them – enter the room and come back out with folders, colour-coded by assignments. Many of the children received the blue Worker folder, as predicted. John's pretty sure that some them didn't mind. Being a Worker isn't always as bad as people make it out to be. It's just a constant cycle of overwork, underpay, and under-appreciation. With more emphasis on the first two.
February was next, and then March, and pretty soon John heard his own name being called. His knees knocked together; his legs felt like jelly. He staggered his way to the door, swung it open, and entered.
Mike Stamford's office was cosy, with a cheery fire crackling in the grate – it's the first day of the New Year, after all, and the frost still clung to the windowpanes in spidery webs – and portraits of former Assignment Agents for this particular district hanging on the walls. The man himself, however, sat behind a mahogany desk, holding John's folder. It's green, olive green. John's first instinct was to breathe a sigh of relief over not being assigned as a Worker.
His insides seized up when he saw the gold-embossed lettering on the front. Army Surgeon, it said
"T-thank you," he told Mike, taking a seat and opening the folder.
"You will start training tomorrow. It will take up to a year; depending on how quickly you pick up the skills. With the current… state of things… you may even see front-line action in Turkey." Mike smiled. John nodded numbly.
Army Surgeon. John has heard the news, of course. Just last night, Britain had finally declared war on the Ottomans. People said it was inevitable. John hoped that the war would be over soon. He also knew that it wouldn't. Not with the history behind these tensions.
"Okay," he said after a moment, and Mike smiled, reaching over to pat his hand.
"No, sir…" John clambered out of his seat, smiling flatly. When he left the office, he counted his footsteps out the door.