wellingtongoose (wellingtongoose) wrote,

Land of Hope and Glory - Chapter 4


“John stares blankly at the detonator in his hand. He knows he will never live to be eleven or twelve or thirteen. He deserves to die, but the man standing next to him doesn’t Sherlock doesn’t deserve this.”

Summary AU – The British Empire spans the globe: her greatest threat is not foreign enemies but domestic terrorists, killing in the name of freedom and independence. Mycroft Holmes leads the grim war on terror and Sherlock is his best secret agent: cold, calculating and obsessive, who is hell-bent on destroying the militant rebels until one explosive day when he meets a child soldier named John

Rating PG-13

Genre Adventure/Action, Kidfic, Espionage, Romance, Dark,

Characters Sherlock/Irene, Sherlock&John, Mycroft/Anthea, Lestrade, Sally Donovan, Anderson, Moriarty

Length 40,000+ 16 Chapters

“So you used your powers of deduction on the kid,” said Lestrade incredulously as he fingered through Sherlock’s report.
Rebel jamming equipment had meant that none of the conversations in the Underground could be recorded by any device, and Lestrade was forced to rely on Sherlock’s report to piece together the day’s intelligence.

Sherlock didn’t answer him at first, because the socially inept agent was too busy pulling coloured contact lenses out of his eyes. Lestrade turned away in disgust and slurped down some coffee to pass the time. He was forced to put his mug down when Sherlock flicked his used lenses into the bin and slammed both hands down on Lestrade’s desk with a resounding thud.

“The point is,” snapped Sherlock, “that kid has been living down there all his life! He asked me what grass felt like and why pigeons cooed so loudly.”

“Alright, so there’s a Rebel base directly under our feet, we missed it, and we’re sorry you were dragged through the mud on this one,” replied Lestrade calmly. In truth he knew that Sherlock’s obsession with the Underground theory was just a small part of the problem. Even if the maverick secret agent hadn’t become fixated on the idea that there was a secret rebel base in the London Underground, he would still have been drummed out of MI5 eventually. His even greater obsession with catching Moriarty at all costs and his blatant contempt for protocol would have seen to that.

“You’re sorry?” hissed Sherlock, “After all these years you’re just sorry?

“Sherlock, you and I both know you would’ve been kicked out of the Service anyway. This was just an excuse to fire you when they did. I know your life hasn’t been easy since then –”

Sherlock laughed bitterly and flung himself back down into his chair with unnecessary force.

“– I know it’s not been easy, but haven’t I always said you don’t belong here? You’re not suited to life in MI5 – the rules and regulations were choking you to death.”

Sherlock sneered but didn’t meet his eye.

“Look, once this is over you can go back to doing your freelance stuff, chasing down terrorists however you like,” muttered Lestrade, pinching the bridge of his nose in a vain attempt to keep at bay the pounding headache he could feel developing in the front of his skull.

“You don’t understand, do you?” said Sherlock, suddenly jumping from his seat and leaning over Lestrade’s desk like a bird of prey. “God, what does it feel like to be inside your tiny little mind?”


“Moriarty!” Sherlock shouted, pounding his fist down on Lestrade’s desk and sending droplets of coffee spewing from his Starbucks mug. “Moriarty is going to be there!”

“Sherlock, if you can’t be reasonable –”

This is his moment of crowning glory, this is what he has been waiting for all his life: to blow up the Houses of Parliament and reduce London to dust. He’s not going to hide in the shadows and let some crony plan the details. He’s going to appear, Lestrade. This is our best opportunity to catch him.”

“Forgive me, Sherlock, but I’ve had enough of your bright ideas for a lifetime. This mission isn’t about Moriarty, because he’s dead. It’s about saving London from a dirty bomb.”

“Catching Moriarty would save the whole world!”

Lestrade gave him a long, weary look; he’d heard it all before. All he wanted now was to go home and forget he had ever met Sherlock Holmes.

“Lestrade, you have to listen to me!”

“No, I don’t.”

Finding Mycroft wasn’t hard, given Sherlock’s resources and prodigious talent at tracking people. However, breaking into his office during his brother’s protected lunch hour was quite another matter. He made it as far as the outer office before the bane of his life stepped through a side door and levelled him with a sardonic smile.

“Good morning, Sherlock, what brings you here in that handsome coat of yours?”

Sherlock knew the woman standing in front of him was 5ft 6in (five-foot-eight in high heels) and weighed 100 pounds – except when she was on a conjoined diet with her husband, when her weight generally dropped to 90. More importantly, should he choose to engage her in combat, she would be able to snap his neck in under a minute…if she was feeling merciful.

“I need to meet with my brother.”

“Mmm…considering you scaled ten floors and climbed through a ventilation duct to get in here, I assume you already know he’s not available.”

“Good deduction, Anthea,” said Sherlock sarcastically.

“In which case, please come back when you actually have an appointment, Sherlock. Oh, and tell my darling sister that she’s invited for dinner tonight at seven and she’s to bring that charming boyfriend of hers….”

Anthea gave him a toothy smile that made him feel like the imminent loser in a game of cat and mouse. Gathering his wits about him, Sherlock curled his lip back at her. “Irene isn’t coming, and neither am I, for that matter. I’m sure Mummy thinks it would be awfully convenient if I married your sister like you married my brother, but it’s not going to happen.

“What? You don’t want to go on a double date?” asked Anthea, pantomiming a string of sad expressions.

“I’d rather blow up Buckingham Palace,” spat Sherlock.

“Well, that’s good to know,” interjected the smug voice of Mycroft Holmes as he stepped elegantly out of his office, holding a plate of half-eaten chocolate cake in one hand and a newspaper in the other.

“How’s the diet?” snarled Sherlock, whilst glaring at his brother in disgust.

Fine, now tell me what you are doing in my office.”


“– is a fine, upstanding Intelligence Officer.”

“I can’t work with him. He refuses to believe me about Moriarty!”

Anthea rolled her eyes dramatically and slipped off into Mycroft’s office to attend to more important matters.

“Can you blame the man?” asked Mycroft, tilting his head down and looking up at his brother. “You almost destroyed his career.”

“If Anderson and Donovan hadn’t blown my cover in the Congo –”

“– you might still have returned empty-handed. Sherlock, we are not doing this all over again. Lestrade is commanding this operation; you will answer to him if you want to stay in the loop.”

“Or what? You’ll throw me off this mission? You wanted me to take it in the first place.”

“Only because I knew you would gut the entire country looking for a ghost if I didn’t. Little brother, it is time to move on.”

“Why? Because it’s more convenient for your lazy government to believe that Moriarty is dead than to face up to the evidence that he’s still out there?”

“Sherlock!” growled Mycroft, finally beginning to lose his temper. “The evidence you provided to the Select Committee amounted to nothing more than circumstantial hearsay from a bunch of homeless people you paid to be ‘informants’.”

“Can’t you see, they are the people who can get the closest to the LRA, the people least likely to be suspected –”

“We have our own sources, thank you very much, even if they are not in the Underground. Now if you have nothing reasonable to say, I have a cardiologist’s appointment in ten minutes.”

Sherlock scowled at his brother and wondered if he could get away with making a remark about the man’s arrhythmic heart, but Mycroft was already turning to leave.

“They didn’t blindfold me inside the base, you know,” said Sherlock abruptly. “Don’t you think that’s unusual?”

“Sherlock, the Underground covers over a thousand miles of tunnels; as long as you can’t find your way back there from the surface, there is no reason for them to fear you. Remember, dinner at seven.”

The old Euston station platform was deserted, the once-white tiles smeared with decades of dust. Behind the curtain of grey, one could still make out the blue circles and red lines that symbolised the London Underground, which had transported millions of people across the city at the height of its glory. Now rats, mice, and other creatures had become the masters of this domain, scuttling noisily through the tunnels where trains used to hurtle past. The platform was illuminated by numerous small, hanging glow orbs – which provided a mellow, orange light from chemical reactions – to conserve electricity. The old iron benches, covered with pieces of salvaged cardboard, provided beds for the members of Company C.

Inside the transit tunnels leading away from the platform, the constant dripping of rainwater leaking from the world above produced intricate patterns of mould and mildew on the once-lifeless concrete walls. Long, snaking rivulets of green, brown and yellow were spaced at regular intervals, marking the original construction joints. The darkness was kept at bay by white emergency lights dotted sparsely throughout the tunnels, connected to the electric substation humming away constantly in the Company C base.

Evening was a good part of the day for John, when the frantic bustle died down to something resembling peace. The everyday sounds he was constantly surrounded with suddenly became so much clearer. He could hear the low the rustle of ancient debris rolling down the disused tracks and the scuttling of numerous animals wandering about.

The best creature John had ever met was a small yellow dog…or at least it’d become yellow once he had wiped the grime off its coat. The platoon had adopted it as their unofficial mascot and named the overexcited, yapping thing “Hoot”. Sadly, it didn’t live very long, and once it died the officers decided there was not much point in letting good meat go to waste. John had kept the collar and tag, though. The tag was engraved with an address on the front, a place called Eaton Square. He like to imagine he would be able to find the owners someday, when he was finally free to go the surface. He wanted to them that Hoot hadn’t been alone when he’d died, that he had been loved to the end of his days.

 John suddenly wondered if anyone would be able to tell his family the same thing. It was strange that he would start thinking about this now, of all times. It had never crossed his mind very much before, but since meeting Dr Sigerson from the surface, John had been daydreaming more often about the world above his head. He still got shivers of fear down his spine at the memory of the light and the terrible noise, and all those strange yet wonderful people in outlandish clothes. It was almost as if he’d lived his whole life in black and white, then for a brief moment glimpsed true colour. It terrified and fascinated him in equal measure.

“You down there?” asked the deep, commanding voice of Captain Moran.

“Yes, Seb,” he called out from the tracks.

Heavy, thudding footsteps came closer, and Seb stepped calmly off the platform onto the tracks below.

“That Sigerson fellow,” he said curtly, “what did he say to you?”

John blinked at his hero, commanding officer, and sometimes fantasy father. “He looked at the bomb and asked me how old I was.”
“That it?” demanded Seb, looking down at him from a great height.

John nodded emphatically; he thought it was best not to mention how Dr Sigerson had guessed his life story from just one look, or how he had smiled at John. No one in Company C trusted the stranger from the surface, and John really, desperately wanted to see Dr Sigerson again.

“Strange fellow,” muttered Seb, more to himself than to John, “I don’t trust him.” Then he turned back to John, who was listening attentively, as always. “You’ll be prepping the bomb tomorrow.”

John stared back at his Captain and father figure, hoping he would clasp his shoulder or ruffle his hair…but the man climbed back onto the platform without a backward glance, leaving him alone in the shadows.

That evening Sherlock lay on the sofa with three nicotine patches lined up on his forearm, enjoying the stimulant as it diffused slowly into his bloodstream and floated into his brain. The pieces of the puzzle were still rolling around erratically inside his mind despite a dedicated afternoon of thought.

This was a three patch problem.

The first anomaly was the surveillance drone. These drones had been in active deployment for nearly ten years, ever since the first suggestion that the LRA had set up a base inside the disused Underground. Why, after ten years of constant patrols, had the surveillance drone finally caught something on camera?

The second anomaly was the boy, John Watson. He was physically less impressive in person, a small runt with dirty-blond hair and clothes stiffened by layers of grim – but in his eyes Sherlock had seen the bravery and resolve of a righteous soldier. John was at once so innocent, yet wise beyond his years; a rare paradox that could only exist in such an extraordinary child.

Sherlock took out the photo of John and looked once more into the boy’s wide eyes. He couldn’t comprehend what an entire life lived in the damp, dark tunnels of the Underground was like – a life without family or school or even the most basic necessities, a life lived at the whim of the most dangerous of terrorists. What kind of person had this life produced: a hardened war criminal, or a confused little boy? Could this child really detonate a bomb that would wipe out the population of London?

He tucked the photo away inside the inner pocket of his suit and placed his thoughts of John back into their dedicated compartment of his mind palace.

The third anomaly was the bomb. As far as Sherlock’s personal sources – whom he had cultivated on his own terms for the last decade – could tell, no nuclear material had been reported missing by any of the official (or unofficial) nuclear powers. Iran, India, and Pakistan had all of their uranium accounted for. China was missing two nuclear warheads, but only because the Russian spies had stolen them last week; and Russia herself was smugly assured that her arsenal of mass destruction was in its rightful place along the border with Britain’s ally, the state of Georgia.

Where had Moriarty gotten the uranium for his dirty bomb? And even granting the uranium, how had he managed to assemble it into a leak-free explosive device? Nuclear experts were few and far between, particularly those that could convincingly fly under the radar of the British Government.

The fourth and most important anomaly was Moriarty himself: the cunning, pernicious spider whose intricate web of lies and deceit spanned the globe. Like all successful insects, he knew when to hide and when to strike.  Sherlock had devoted his life after leaving MI5 to cornering Moriarty, but like a phantom in the night, this vicious, scheming predator had so far evaded him. He had spent countless hours without sleep or nourishment, feverishly assembling information about this ethereal monster, starting from the moment Moriarty had first appeared over a decade ago. He had no official clearance, but through old partners and indebted allies, he had managed to compile an almanac of data, despite being hindered at every turn by the establishment.

The docile, short-sighted bureaucrats who ran the Intelligence Services wanted to believe they had eliminated this threat. They didn’t have the courage to face the truth that right now Moriarty was biding his time, waiting for the fat, senseless fly to zoom right into the sticky tendrils of his web, before devouring it at his leisure.

Suddenly his mobile started to vibrate, instantly bringing Sherlock back from the fascinating world of his mind palace.
“Have you gotten what I wanted?” he demanded abruptly into the mouthpiece, without even looking at the caller ID.

“Hello to you too, Sherlock,” said the deadpan voice at the other end of the line. “I’m guessing you’re in no mood to exchange pleasantries.”

The caller was far too accustomed to Sherlock’s moods to actually be offended. “I have got the documents or rather the document you’ve been looking for, and even though it’s none of my business, can I just tell you that getting some to dig into your girlfriend’s past behind her back is depraved.”

Sherlock scowled up at the ceiling. “You’re right, it is none of your business, but it’s to do with Moriarty, not Irene. Send a scanned copy to my computer over a secure connection.”

“Sherlock,” replied the disembodied voice in an officious tone,“I work for Six, all our connections are secure.”

That remark made Sherlock break into a wry smile. “If that’s what you think, Q….”

Sherlock hung up, curling his lips into a slow, satisfied smile.


Production Notes:

Mycroft and Anthea: Mycroft is the British Government, he actually runs the entire British Empire and is the most powerful man alive. The Queen and the Prime Minister are mere figureheads. His power is unlimited and unchecked; defying him is never an option unless you enjoy spending the rest of your short life undergoing “questioning” deep underground. He the epitome of Machiavelli’s ideal ruler utter ruthless and yet able to maintain a beguiling display of respectability and benign benevolence.

Anthea is his wife, Sherlock’s sister-in-law and Irene’s older sister. She married Mycroft before he took power and she is considered to be his partner in every respect. In the intelligence community she is known as the “master puppeteer” because many people believe that Mycroft might run the Empire but Anthea runs Mycroft. Irene’s relationship with her sister is complicated and in some way a reflection of the Holme’s brothers’ – I don’t get the chance to explore their relationship very much in this story but I do in the sequel.

Q is the Quartermaster of MI6 (think Ben Whimshaw in Skyfall, who I based him on). He’s not going to remain a disembodied voice over the phone for very long.

Please take the time to leave a comment!

Tags: character: anthea, character: john watson, character: lestrade, character: mycroft holmes, character: sherlock holmes, series: land of hope and glory

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