The start of this arc is here.
All the way back to the Archive Chris talked about Mycroft.
I didn’t understand all of it. Actually I didn’t understand most of it. Fortunately as a historian I’m used to putting a story together out of bits and pieces I don’t fully understand.
They built Mycroft to hunt down meaningful patterns and gaps in those patterns. They did it partly to create a practical tool, partly as an intellectual exercise and partly because they knew that pattern recognition is a component in true intelligence. Neither the DRG or Mycroft himself is entirely sure how he became self aware. In fact the DRG aren’t convinced he is self aware. They think it could be some form of emergent behaviour like the seemingly organised patterns of flocking birds. Mycroft is very sarcastic about that.
Back at my office in the Archives I picked up a few things, mainly my bag and a few spare rubber ferules for the bottom of my walking stick. Chris raised an eyebrow at me and Mycroft flashed a big question mark on his screen. “The first one of you that works it out will win cake. If I have to show you then you buy me cake.”
“You’re supposed to be cutting back on the carbs.” Said Mycroft.
“If I have to show you then I shall deserve cake.” I said.
I lead them back to the ‘Deen through the secret ways of the Archive. One of the great secrets of the Department is our mastery of short cuts. The walk from the Archive offices in the British Library in the middle of London to the Central library in the heart of the ‘Deen took less time than the journey across London from Whitehall. And then we hopped on a bus.
People say the ‘Deen is parochial and that’s not just because it’s a long way from London. It’s as much a group of villages as it is a single city. There are parts of the Deen that could be any Scottish City but there are others that are unique. We were headed for one of those. An urban village built of granite and slate on a wedge of land between river and sea. There are streets there where everyone is related: Old ‘Deen families who’ve been there for generations, groups of Polish Immigrants who all came over at the same time or Travellers who’ve settled (at least during the winters) but still keep to the old ways.
They look out for each other and interlopers are not welcome. And yet there was a culdesack here with 7 buildings, 21 households and just 3 surnames where the Dingo had been the sole social worker for 17 families over the years. And none of them had complained. Some of them had requested her. And when she was in trouble they wrote letters in her defence which must have been tough because the kids were hardly ever in school and hadn’t been for at least 3 generations back and some of the adults were on record as functionally illiterate.
Mycroft had dug out the school records for us, which I’m pretty sure he’s not supposed to be able to do, and we saw that all the kids had terrible records – poor attendance, bad discipline, missing homework, exclusions, expulsions and terrible exam results. Normally the sort of stuff the Dingo would have been all over. But not in this street. Not a single child from this street had been in care even for a single night.
Something wasn’t right here and clearly someone was owed or had repaid a giant favour.