Prologue and Chapter One
by Mary Christmas (unicorn_76010 at lycos.com)
December 4th 2089
New London was a beautiful city, even at ordinary times
of the year. At Christmas-time however, the city came alive.
There were Christmas trees in nearly every store window, and
wreaths of holly adorned many doors. The citizens wore green
and red outfits, and some even wore 'Santa hats', just to show
that they had the Christmas spirit. At night, London was aglow
with the many colored lights decorating the businesses and homes.
Amidst all this beauty, however, there was something
wrong. It all seemed so fake, as though the people were merely
performing empty rituals that had long since ceased to have
importance. Fights broke out between shoppers as they tried to
be the first to get to the last one of the latest toy sensation,
or the last bottle of that expensive perfume that was now on sale
for the holidays. Muggers and pickpockets were often made richer
by some poor unsuspecting consumer taking gifts home to be placed
underneath the tree. The fact that the gifts were stolen was not
their biggest problem, however. No, it was the whiny little kid
or angry spouse who accused them of being 'cheap', and idiotic
for letting the criminals get away with it.
Even at church, the real spirit of Christmas was lost.
Oh, you might see a few people in there, but they were merely
trying to console themselves for punching that guy who almost
got to the Real Talking Ninja Master action figure before they
did. After all, their children's wishes were more important than
his, right? They had to make sure the darlings grew up in a
secure world, and if they didn't get what they wanted they
wouldn't feel secure.
All this passed through the young girl's mind as she
walked along the carefully shoveled sidewalks. She was rather
small for her age and much much too cynical. But who could
blame her for that? Everything she had ever been taught was a
lie. It had to be, because she herself was a lie.
She shivered through the warmth of her expensive faux-fur
lined coat, and continued pulling the hovercart, which held her
most prized possessions and a few items of clothing, along
behind her. Running away was a scary position for the
ten-year-old, but staying behind would have been worse. How
could they have lied to her like that? Her whole world had
fallen apart when she had learned she was adopted. She didn't
know who she was anymore. She ignored the tiny voice telling
her she was herself, and that would never change.
As she walked the streets and avoided the large crowds
of people gathered around storefronts, she began to think. She
could find out who her real parents were, or at least her real
mum. With her skill at computers she could do it in no time,
even if it had been a closed adoption.
She jumped when she heard her name called. It was her
mum -- no -- some lady who had been raising her. She turned
around and kept walking. They didn't really care about her.
They couldn't. She tried in vain to ignore the plaintive calls
of the people she had called Mum and Dad for as long as she
could remember. Finally she turned around to see them just
behind her. They had relieved expressions on their faces. Then
they both fell flat on the ground as one of the aforementioned
muggers shot them with a hand laser, killing them instantly.
"Mum! Dad!" she cried, running to them. The constable
who was supposed to be looking out to prevent things like this,
and who had been chatting with a lovely young acquaintance of
his instead, reached out to restrain her.
She quickly ducked out of reach and fell onto her knees
beside her parents. It was all her fault. If she hadn't been
running away, they wouldn't have come looking for her, and they
wouldn't be dead now. She began to rock back and forth,
sobbing, "I'm sorry."
December 2nd, 2105
Singing pervaded the rooms at 221b Baker Street. Holmes
shook his head and grinned. There was still three weeks left
until Christmas, but everyone seemed to want to start now with
getting into the Christmas spirit. His mood had improved
greatly since last Christmas, perhaps because he now had the
Irregulars to think about. They were each old in many ways for
their ages, but ever since the fall holiday, they were acting
more their age.
He chuckled as Watson tried to sneak past him with a
sprig of mistletoe. "My dear fellow, do you perhaps have some
special someone for whom that would be needed?"
The robot blushed. "Oh, certainly not, Holmes. It
just goes with the decor of the moment. However if you wish
me to, I shall take it and throw it away." The expression on
the compudroid's face was so forlorn that Holmes relented.
"Oh, very well, Watson, but don't expect me to
participate in that ridiculous tradition."
"Then don't stand under it, Holmes," Watson answered,
and hung it on the top of the doorframe.
Holmes sighed and turned back to supervising the
Irregulars who were decorating the tree. Wiggins was
stringing lights, while Deidre was putting the tinsel on.
Tennyson was putting the gigantic string of popcorn that
they had made the night before on. It had taken a lot
longer than it should have to make it, since everyone was
inclined to eat more popcorn than they put on.
He smiled as the Deidre and Wiggins sang, while
Tennyson played a tune that he had programmed into his
synthesizer. Yes, this year was much better than last.
After a few hours, all the decorating had been done
and they all sat around the cheerful fireplace telling
stories about their Christmases past. Holmes recounted a
rather amusing tale about how he had tricked his brother
into thinking he was going to be given a book. Mycroft had
the annoying habit of being able to deduce what his gifts
would be. However, young Sherlock had figured out a plan.
He bought a second thing in his brother's presence, something
Mycroft had wanted very much, and had displayed it as his own.
Needless to say, the elder Holmes had been sufficiently
surprised, both at his brother's ingenuity and the present.
Just as they were trying to cheer Watson, who had only
experienced one Christmas, really, the News on Demand came up.
"Princess Catherine is returning home after her
twenty-five year exile; a party of teenagers were caught late
at night in the New London Cemetery."
"More, on both," Holmes requested.
The screen quickly changed to a news conference where
the cameras were centered on a woman standing in front of a
black hovercar. The woman on the screen, though forty-one
years old, looked twenty. She had obviously aged well. "I am
back," she spoke softly, "because my father has requested it.
I am his only child and he is dying." She then turned away
from the camera and settled into the black hovercar.
The screen changed again, but this time it was the
anchor who was shown. "For the last sixteen years, there has
been a rumor of a ghostly figure visiting the cemetery during
this time of the year. It has been the 'cool' thing to do,
for teens, to try and find out what or who this figure is...."
"News off," Holmes said, hearing footsteps in the hallway
outside. "We shall soon have a visitor, I think -- female by the
sound of her footfall."
Sure enough, a woman wearing a thick veil and heavy
winter clothing walked in. "Mister Holmes," she said, "I
desperately need your help."
"But of course, your Highness, anything I can do to help."
He gave a quick bow.
TO BE CONTINUED
Back to the fanfic index