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Author's Note: My entry for the Transfictional Canonical Defense Authority, a steampunk-themed alternate universe of the PPC started by Pieguy on the Board in May 2012. The original thread is gone, but Huinesoron archived all the story entries. Sherlock Holmes belongs to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Les Misérables belongs to Victor Hugo. Some of the terms used here were invented by other PPCers writing for the TCDA before me.

* * *

Constable Doc adjusted his monocle and frowned as the typewriter on the Transfictionally-Activated Computational Device clicked out a reel of parchment. He leaned over the machine to read as the report slowly appeared.

When he has read enough, he called out, “Miss Vannie! We have received yet another crossing-over between Sherlock Holmes and Les Misérables!”

“That makes three such assignments in under a score of days.” Constable Vanna Toulouse sighed. “Though it gladdens me to see that Mr. Hugo’s works are still popular among the public, I do long for the uncomplicated days before these o’er-crossings entered into fashion.”

Constable Doc moved to join her at the equipment pantry. “I am not certain ‘uncomplicated’ is an adjective which was applicable to our profession at any time.”

“Truly spoken.” The constables both bent down to retrieve a large apparatus from the bottom shelf. “Nonetheless, this Fused-Fiction Disentanglement Device is becoming quite a strain on the nerves, if I do say so.”

“As well as on the muscles,” Constable Doc huffed as they both strained to lift it. “But such is the lot of those of us under the Hydraulic Hyacinth. Her agents aren’t referred to as ‘Various and Sundries’ for no reason, after all.”

The constables carried the FFDD across the room and lay it before the wall where the Aether would soon be parted to allow entry into the o’er-crossed canonical worlds. Constable Vanna then walked to the TACD and began to flip a series of numeric dials.

“May I assume,” asked she, “that Holmes is once again traveling to Paris to consort with revolutionaries, in spite of the impropriety of a well-known British celebrity doing so during a period of social unrest in France?”

“You certainly may assume so, for it is precisely the case.”

Constable Vanna tsked and shook her head sadly. “Well, it falls to us, now. Shall we on, Mr. Doc?”

“Certainly, Madam!”

* * *

In practiced unison, Constable Doc slapped Mr. Holmes across the face with The Sign of Four as Constable Vanna delivered a much softer blow to Monsieur Enjolras with a copy of the Brick. The mouths of both canonical persons expelled a bright white fog, which mixed together to form a ghostly gentleman in top hat and cane. The constables nodded to each other before advancing on the author-eidolon.

“oh i get it were in the steampunk verson and im made out of steam ha ha ha AAAAH”

The eidolon was easily dissipated by copies of two powerful canons being swung through its being.

On the topic of powerful canons, however, Monsieur Enjolras was was now raising a caplock rifle to his shoulder, and Mr. Holmes was drawing an anachronistic Webley revolver.

Each constable drew a small glass ball from a pocket and threw it before one of the canonical men. The glass shattered, and from within, the mists of the river Lethe rose up to the gentlemen's faces. The hands holding their firearms dropped, and their faces displayed a blank expression.

Constable Vanna pulled two handles out of the bank of interlocked gears which covered the top of the FFDD, and locked them into place on opposite sides of the device. “Sir, Monsieur, if I could trouble you to place your hands here, and here . . . Thank you kindly!”

With the canon characters facing each other across two sides of the FFDD, each constable knelt down next to one of the unoccupied sides and began to turn the cranks that protruded from those faces of the machine. The forest of gears began to rotate, all grinding against each other. Warm steam began to billow out from the base of the FFDD.

As the steam streamed past the feet of the canons, growing thicker with every crank, the streets of Paris began to fall away, collapsing like the set backgrounds in a stage show. In spite of the dazed state of his mind, Mr. Holmes detected a sensation of sliding, as though his shoes were running backwards over the rails of a train track. But after a few moments, the river of steam, the sliding sensation and the mental stupor all had vanished. Mr. Holmes found himself reclining in the sofa of his apartment at Baker Street, wondering if he had perhaps mis-measured a dose of cocaine.

* * *

Two weary constables panted as they watched Monsieur Enjolras charge back to the Corinth to rejoin his friends on the barricade. Constable Doc offered his handkerchief to Constable Vanna to wipe the sweat from her brow before using it on his own.

“I should say . . . we did well, today.” Constable Doc said while breathing heavily. “Not overly much madness today.”

“No,” agreed Constable Vanna. “Perhaps next time. Shall we retire to our Readiness Chamber?” She held her arm out with her elbow crooked.

“I certainly think we shall,” her partner replied, linking his elbow with hers.

Author's Note: Lethe was a river in ancient Greek mythology that erased the memories of those who drank from it. Not very steampunk—honestly, the genre isn't my specialty—but of course, neuralyzers wouldn't exist in the proper time period. If someone creates a more in-genre way of erasing memories, I'll probably edit this story to reflect that.

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November 2016

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