If you don't know Next Gen or Sherlock Holmes (from the books) this might feel like reading in a foreign language. Ancient Nerd, perhaps. (She says, beating you to the punch before you can mock her.) It's wordy and old-timey. If you're not into that kind of thing, it's best you mosey along.
We all know that Dr Moriarty met the crew of the NCC-1701-D. I always thought it was a shame that Holmes never got the chance. So I fixed it.
Actually, the first two parts of this can feel a bit claustrophobic. Internal monologues, amirite? Skip ahead to part 3 to get straight to some of those juxtapositional shenanigans only fanfic can provide. If you like nineties sci-fi, the original Sherlock Holmes, or gathering intel with which to mock me, by all means, continue...
The Game's Afoot
It took Holmes a mere matter of minutes to realize he was not at all in London. A feeling of too much familiarity had sprung that trap upon waking. Yes, it was 221 B Baker Street, indeed. The view from his window showed the old familiar sites. He heard the clip-clop of horses’ hooves. A delicate frost formed around the windowpanes, like always. It wasn’t that anything was wrong. It was that everything felt...too right.
To most people, the doldrums of existence are formed by the never-ceasing ebb and flow of daily routine. It was repetition that wore down their observational capabilities. For Holmes, whose microscopic insight constantly took note of the world around him, sameness did not exist. There was too much constant variation for that to be possible. He may drink the same type of tea every day, but that didn't mean it was the same cup. Each day the portion was slightly altered, the amount of water it steeped in differed, the condition of the china itself changed by wash or wear.
Every moment of every day differed from the next.
Only those dreaded days without a problem to solve gave him an experience remotely like routine. That’s what he was, a problem-solver, not a mystery man. How he longed for life before notoriety. He dreaded, no, loathed the very word “mystery”. That trumped-up frippery, that linguistic sleight of hand done by newspapermen to lull the masses into behaving themselves. As long as the headlines shouted mystery, they went about their day, satisfied not to mention the many personal injustices they faced that very hour. Entertained into submission.
Holmes shut his eyes and searched his mind. He found dark and unfamiliar thoughts. Too emotional. It was almost as if…perhaps he spent too much time studying the mental health (or lack thereof) of the bothersome Dr. Moriarty. Bothersome. Another theatrical word. Not like him at all.
Holmes’ mind was musical. Each day created a new rhythm. The familiar melody of London was always there. But the melody this morning was identical to yesterday, and the day before. The same shouts and echoes, the same wheels on cobblestone. All in the same order. Just as a needle skipped a record, the patterns all around him repeated despite the interruption of him noticing. And if they were always the same, why did he notice today?
He heard the bell ring downstairs. Moments later, Mrs. Hudson knocked on his door. Sherlock simply replied, “Not now.” He heard her shuffle the good doctor away, mumbling some muffled self-conscious explanation. He knew instantly that it was his new lodger come to inspect the rooms. Dr. Watson was his name.
That’s why this day was familiar. He’d lived it before. All of it. How was it possible to lament his newfound fame when he had not yet achieved it? How did he know Watson would make him a public figure if it hadn’t happened yet? Holmes stood by the door, unmoving, for minutes.
He hypothesized aloud, “What if life is indeed cyclical, performed in some manner of routine? Shakespeare himself said, ‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.’ How do the players know they play?”
He lit a pipe and paced for an hour. He thought of a zoetrope. He pondered Descartes. He remembered a trifle he once ate. His mind was tacitly gathering the gossamer threads of a conclusion. He only needed to wait. To think. To smoke. They would come together.
Maybe H.G. Wells Was Onto Something
Hours later, several experiments later, he discovered an invisible doorway. It was three a.m. London time when he walked through with no thought for his personal safety. It lead to a mysterious corridor, brightly lit and sparsely furnished. He perceived the hum of some great and distant engine. It sounded like an electronic ocean. The thrum pulsed through the soles of his shoes. He found it strangely soothing.
He concluded that this was some type of giant military machine. He felt he was in the belly of a seemingly docile beast. A ship sailing a smooth sea, perhaps.
He encountered two of her officers in the corridor. They asked some questions, escorted him away, and told him to wait. Before they left the room, the officers touched a bit of shiny metal affixed their left pectoral muscle and spoke to the air, which then spoke back. It was a sophisticated communication system, indeed.
Holmes now stood in what appeared to be a war room. There was a long table and many chairs. The décor was Spartan, beige carpeted floors and walls. But then, there was the view from the long thin window that spanned the length of the room. It was the night sky, but not as Holmes had ever seen it before. There was depth and dimension as if he were suspended in the very ether of existence.
“All a stage indeed,” he mused aloud.
At the word stage, Holmes was reminded of a cheap cabaret. He once chased a thief into the small, dark theater. On the creaking wooden stage, there sat an ample songstress, perched atop a wooden cutout of a waning moon. At the time, he thought it a tacky and preposterous display. He almost cracked a smile, seeing his own hawk-like expression reflected in the glass window. No frost gathered there. He tapped it lightly.
Just then, a whooshing sound, the same one he heard the first time he cracked the code of the invisible doorway. It was a motor, no doubt about it, used to propel the doors open and closed. He was meant to panic upon this discovery. That was evident in the faces of the crew he surprised. In place of panic, all he felt instead was a wash of satisfaction. The warmth of knowing it would be a long time before he faced his dreaded enemy again. Yes, boredom was now a distant foe. Holmes spun on his heels to greet the strangers.
“Mr. Holmes,” said a bald man in the Queen’s English as he walked around the table and extended a hand, “I’m very pleased to make your acquaintance.” Holmes glanced at the man’s hand and extended his own for a firm shake.
“I trust I am not too far from the Queen’s country after all.” Holmes kept his signature cool, but his mind was working a mile a minute. Faster than anyone could discern, beneath his icy pallor and steely gray eyes, his mind churned over possibilities and probabilities.
Apparently, our colonies extend further than I realized, he thought. Before me stands the distinguished head of a militaristic regime. Most definitely ours. Perhaps he's a general.
Holmes deduced this by the small pips on the collar of his burgundy uniform, signifiers of rank for sure. The general was accompanied by two people in different uniforms. They stood behind him, in a mute state of respect.
One was a woman in purple with long dark hair, who seemed to be returning Holmes’ thorough and silent assessment. The general glanced at her quickly; she nodded at him, then smiled gently. The general took a deep breath and nodded back. Their familiarity and comfort were unmistakable.
Ah, then he is a good leader.
The other had deformed ears. They drew into a sharp point. He had a strange way of wearing his dark straight hair, short with a blunt fringe across the forehead. Holmes instinctively looked to his right to impart an observation to Watson. Oh, but they hadn’t met. Yet. That’s right. He glanced at the empty space where Watson should be; confounded once again by memories of a future companion. The intellectual noise was enough to drive him to distraction. Almost.
“Indeed, you are very far from London Mr. Holmes. I am Captain Picard. This is Ambassador Spock and Counselor Deanna Troi. I’ll be happy to explain everything to you. Please, have a seat.” The Captain gestured toward a chair with strength and reason. He seemed to be perfectly calm, even at the physiological level. Holmes, however, was not.
Captain. Not general.
Holmes' eyes were beginning to light, the way they did anytime he was presented with a pleasant quandary. He knew that whatever details were about to follow would surely be fascinating. Everyone took a seat.
Holmes didn’t waste a moment. He settled into his chair, “I’m grateful for the hospitality Captain, but your explanations won’t be necessary.” The Captain looked puzzled. Counselor Troi looked amused. Mr. Spock did not display any feeling at all. “I’ve worked up quite a hypothesis, and the events leading up until this moment have told me all that I need to know. Would you like me to explain?”
Before the Captain could speak, the man with the pointy ears interrupted, “Mr. Holmes, your reputation precedes you. Your intellect is well-known to all of us, in particular to me. Because you lack context, what you may not have discerned for yourself is that I am, in effect, your descendant.”
“This is not possible,” Holmes said as he leaned in eager to make the correction. “I am a player. Shakespeare was more correct than I'd ever imagined. If, in fact, he is not just one of the many Matryoshka dolls that lie within my own stage. If you take my meaning.” Holmes tapped a finger on his left temple.
Picard also leaned forward, “I’m happy to report that William Shakespeare was real. As are you, now." He emphasized on the now. "We’ve had some glitches in our holodeck…our stage, as of late. You may be here because the presence of Ambassador Spock has led another, formerly dormant player…”
“Moriarty.” Holmes settled back in his chair, determined to pay attention without interrupting this time. He had never met a single person who could match his intellect, now he was surrounded by a roomful of like minds. He needed to exercise restraint, both for the sake of dignity and gathering information.
Spock began again, “It is possible, in a way you have not considered Mr. Holmes. I am a descendant of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.” Spock detected the shift in Holmes’ focus, directly to the tips of his ears. “On my mother’s side.”
“Ah,” Holmes nodded with excited approval.
Spock continued, “Perhaps this phrase will seem familiar to you, ‘If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains however improbable, must be the truth.’”
For only the second time in his life, Holmes was completely bewildered. Not since he stood before the empty safe of Irene Adler, had he felt so utterly and pleasantly confounded. Holmes mustered two questions, “Please tell me how you know my very personal philosophy?” and “Who is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?”