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History Lesson

Chapter Text

The second floor of the Victoria and Albert Museum was quiet.  It was half one in the morning and a strange opalescent glow was emanating from a wall display in Room 62.  The case in question was rather unassuming.  Practically every history museum worldwide had a similar display.  It held a modest collection of rather unremarkable medieval British swords and daggers.  The swords were artistically arranged in fan on the back wall of the case while a number of daggers lined the case’s floor.  According to the plaques provided, the purpose of this particular display was to showcase the variety of weapons available at the time as well as to provide acknowledgement of the donors of each piece.  None of these weapons were particularly valuable.  Most of them had been donations from one member of the peerage or another presumably as a tax write off or to gain wall space in the family seat.  Regardless of their providence none of the weapons should in any way glow but there in the case one sword and its companion dagger were quietly sitting creating their own light.

One would assume that those charged with keeping the various museum artifacts safe would have noticed such a strange occurrence.  One would be wrong.  In fact the guards remained blissfully unaware of these events.  The first guard was a stalwart man who took his job very seriously.  He had already checked and cleared Room 62 sometime before the glowing commenced. 

The second guard, a younger man who had been hired for his technical expertise with alarm systems and cameras, was distracted by a phone call from his girlfriend.  The girlfriend had just arrived home from work as a bartender in one of the classier hotels to find her flat in disarray with the window wide open.  Nothing appeared to have been taken but she was understandably upset.  It took him a few minutes to calm her down and return to his normal duties.  The phone call meant that the younger guard not only missed seeing the glow but also missed the fact that various portions of the security systems seemed to be having intermittent problems.  First the sensor on one of the basement doors read “trouble” for several seconds.  Various cameras fuzzed out in static for thirty to fifty seconds or so before coming back on line.  Finally the alarm on the case in room 62 took itself offline and remained so for a little under a minute.  By the time the first guard had finished his rounds and the second had finished his phone call the glowing sword and dagger were both gone.

It took the museum two whole days to notice the theft due to the fact that the curator for that particular collection had been out sick with a case of food poisoning.  It almost wasn’t discovered at all because the plaques corresponding to the missing items had also been removed.  Only the curator who knew his charges intimately noticed the change and raised the alarm to his superiors. 

Upon discovering the missing items the museum Director called New Scotland Yard who immediately dispatched its burglary unit along with a couple members of its antiquities squad.  The officers took an initial report, made a cursory search and called for a forensics team to check for fingerprints.  It was at this point things became unusual.  

Much to the surprise of the NSY officers the crime scene was suddenly invaded by a number of hard faced men and women who politely indicated that this particular theft was now the remit of a department of the British Government that none of the officers had ever heard of but seemed to be somehow connected to MI5.  After discussion with their superiors the NSY officers ceded control and departed leaving the puzzled V&A staff to deal with a bunch of suited individuals wearing earpieces lead by a drop dead gorgeous woman who seemed to be inordinately focused on her Blackberry.

This new set of investigators closed off room 62 and examined it minutely.  They then proceeded to go over the entire museum with a fine tooth comb questioning everyone and anyone who had been in the building after public hours for the past week.  They also requested to review the overnight security tapes for the same time period.  The review revealed the anomalies in the security system of several days prior resulting in a shift in the focus of the investigation.  After background checks and a thorough interrogation the guards were acquitted of anything more than minor inattentiveness.  The intermittently failing cameras and sensors were removed and replaced and the camera feeds on that night were taken into custody as evidence.

Thus, it was on the morning of the fourth day (third if you take into account that the theft occurred in the wee hours of the morning) after the disappearance of the items that a report along with copies of the surveillance tapes was placed on the desk of a certain minor government official in a rather nondescript office somewhere near Whitehall.