Author's Note: Well, it didn't take me as long as I'd expected it would, and I hope that's enough to keep you happy. At least for the time being. Lol. This story should be about 20-ish chapters long, if that. Just so you know, in case you missed the rating, it will be R. This is because – and if you've read the story you full well know this already, it will be violent, graphic and probably contain some rather… foul… language. I'm glad you all enjoyed the teaser. Thanks to those who reviewed it:Graymoon74 – Write for the movies? Wow… quite a compliment, but I'm going to be my modest self and say it's over zealous… I appreciate it nevertheless. Raven Silvers – *puts cotton buds in ears*
Leigh S. Durron – Hehehehe, thanks, Leigh. Appreciate it, pal. Hehehehe, didn't have to bug for long *wink*
Sethoz – Oh god, the stocking thing cracked me up! Don't we all? I'm so happy you enjoyed the trailer. If I had had this all planned out sooner in advance, I might have made a longer one, but alas… didn't happen, and I hope that's okay. I had to put that horseback thing in, since I told you about it after watching the Mummy, and now I have… and it will definitely feature, so don't worry. I look forward to seeing quoteage… quotes from any of his films are acceptable *grins*
Hoshii-chan – I will, and I have *wink*
LotRseer3350 – Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. That was very comforting *smile*
TARilus – Oh, you'll have to wait and see on that note. It would be a HUGE spoiler if I gave away such things *evil laugh* *blink*
DISCLAIMER: None of the ideas or characters in this story belongs to me, unless said otherwise. I just borrowed them without asking, and am having fun with them for my own entertainment, and everyone else's. No need to sue, cuz I don't have anything anyway. Everything in this fic belongs to their respective creators, and I am jealous of the lot of you… ahem. This will be the only DISCLAIMER. Can't be bothered to put that in all of them, lol.
Anyway, enough with the acknowledgements etc, and on with the story. Yes, I know this is the prologue, but it's long and blah, blah, blah. I've got the majority of this planned, and… all this was in one chapter slot, so… ahem… on with the show!
* * *
The three men laughed and talked amongst themselves in the nighttime of London's outskirts, conversing over the flickering, wan fire they had built, drinking from a shared bottle of whisky they had pitched in to buy, and pointing at random points in the sky before elaborating on what it was that they saw. Stars twinkled lazily overhead, blinking and yawning with the drawing in of the dawn. It was closing on three in the morning, and the men showed no signs of lethargy or tiring. They would sit there all night if it suited them… and it most certainly did. This was not the first time they had shared time along on the hill with one another… they did it almost every day, simply to battle the boredom that the rhythm of London life brought with it.
"Well, personally, I don't see it," one of them, Jeff, said, his thinning hair covered by a weathered cap, and took the whisky bottle from his shorter companion before swigging at it. "How can you that constellation looks anything like my mother?"
The youngest of the three, Malcolm, sniggered with slight intoxication and shrugged lazily. "I just think it does, that's all. No need to get all huffy about it." He toyed with the cuff of one of his tatty shirt sleeves and rubbed his hands through his hair, making it stick up in all directions as though it had a life of its own. "Come to think of it… it rather looks like it's growing larger… quite a bit like your old mum actually." He burst into laughter, dodging the swipe that came from the oldest of the three.
"Shut your mouth," he griped, and narrowed his grey eyes warningly, before the middle man, Edward, gazed skyward.
"'Ere, I think he's right," he said quietly, pensively.
"You can watch it an' all!"
"No, look! The star he was talkin' about… it's getting bigger," Edward pointed out. He rose a finger to point as he spoke, "It looks almost like it's comin' toward us. Don't it?"
Malcolm nodded enthusiastically, and furrowed his brow in consideration of the fact. "He's right, Jeff. That ain't no normal star, mate. It is getting bigger. You can't tell me it's not. Just look at the bloody thing!"
"All right, all right, I'll look at the sodding thing, quit buggin' me," Jeff grumbled, and tilted his head. "Bloody 'ell, lads, you're not wrong."
The three men all stared skyward as the star right in the centre of their field of vision began to almost swell and bulge, truly appearing to grow larger, but in reality… it was growing closer. The size was not changing, but the distance between it's celestial point of beginning and Earth was closing, and it soared inward to break the atmosphere. Even as Jeff, Edward and Malcolm watched, in a peculiar mix of horror and fascination, it began to glow, a fiery ring surrounding it now as it approached, entering the very edges of Earth's outer layers, coursing through them with enough speed to tear through any barriers in its way. It was gathering more speed as it came, ever closer, growing larger and larger and seeming to bulge at the edges, and pretty soon, a dull whine, rising in pitch, could be heard accompanying the approach.
"Erm… anyone else think we should probably move?" Edward stammered, swallowing the lump that had suddenly formed in his throat constrictively. The other two men nodded, even as the object careened in their direction.
Before long, it was swallowing up the sky, blocking out most of the stars they had previously been admiring and scrutinising. The three men were beginning to panic inwardly, but all three were too proud to show it to either of their companions, and though their eyes were wide, their held their ground, even as the gigantic object soared right over their heads to slam into the ground behind them. A choking cloud of dust and debris was sent up and around it, coating everything surrounding it, and blocking off all natural vision for a few minutes, as the men coughed and wheezed, shaking and terrified.
"Bloody hell!" Jeff croaked, eyes wider than they had ever been, his breath quick and trembling, vision clearing as the dirt settled back to the ground where it had risen. "That can't be a star!"
"It might be," whimpered Malcolm in a frightened manner, small and cowering, behind the other two men as if for protection. His beady eyes gazed over their shoulders as the last of the dust fell, and they could see the odd object in its entirety. It was huge, almost coppery in appearance, though the heat still seeped through the shell of whatever it was and made it glow eerily with an otherworldly light of mystery. It resembled an enlarged bullet of sorts, explaining why it had cut through the atmosphere so neatly and cleanly. If they hadn't have known better, the three could have collectively sworn that there was seam in the middle, running around like a crack or the lid of a jar almost.
"That ain't a star, Malcolm… don't be so bloody naïve for a change," Edward mumbled, in disbelief as to what they had just witnessed. As a unit, the three men advanced, approaching the gargantuan crater the thing had created upon landing. It had simply slammed into the ground, making a kind of nest for itself, with all the dirt around it for several meters having been kicked aside, so there was a drop around the sides.
Malcolm whimpered quietly, clearly terrified beyond reason or individual action, for he remained solidly behind Jeff and Edward.
As they reached the edge of the perimeter, the shell – for that was what it appeared to be – hissed like a wary cat, and smoke or steam seeped from the seam. A whine and a groan was heard, and the three men leapt backward as one, pausing in terror six feet from the edge when something started to move. Something rose from within the confines of the unusual shell that had fallen from the very heavens, and a lazy noise – one that served only to unnerve the three men further no less – made its way into their sense of hearing. It sounded not too unlike a sigh, accompanied by the creak of technology and… metal?
The men gasped when it appeared there was an eye blinking at them…a green, wide, slanted eye that glowed. Then it rose from the crater on a stalk, like a neck and almost weaved like the head of a cobra prepared to strike. The eyes hummed ominously, and Malcolm made to move backwards, only succeeding in falling to his rear with an 'oof'. Edward and Jeff were too transfixed to move, and simply stared up with saucer-shaped eyes at the odd device that loomed watchfully over them.
The whine started to increase in fever and pitch, reaching a frightening crescendo that swirled and pained their ears, until there was a blinding light… and nothing more.
* * *
Mycroft Holmes was a rather… rotund man at best, and the judgement upon first setting eyes on him had been that – in answer to the mystery over Sherlock Holmes, his missing brother – he had eaten his absent sibling. Of course, they had pretended to ignore that comment, though it was more than a little certain that all of them had laughed internally at least, at that. He stood at the head of the table now, forever dressed in a neatly pressed pinstripe suit of dark tones, such as grey or black, with a white shirt, a black, clipped tie, a striped – and often clashing – waistcoat, with a chain dangling around his rather large waist, no doubt holding a pocket watch on the concealed end.
He had a rounded face, with thinning but neatly combed and flat greying hair, browner towards the ends, tidied away from his face. His eyes were wise, but concealed somewhat in the shadow that forever seemed cast over his pensive features, a broad brow and a constant frown of consideration.
Campion Bond was the equally overweight man at his side, wearing similar attire, though resting himself on a polished cane before him. His left hand was completely adorned – save for the thumb – in golden rings of varying styles and importance, no doubt, ranging from sentimental to downright pointless. He had golden cufflinks, seemingly just to look important, his collar was starched, though it seemed exaggerated, as though he were trying to outdo his superior, just for the sake of it. His black hair was slicked 'stylishly' to one side, and he forever wore a long, navy blue jacket, though it was never understood why. He had once had a moustache, but had endeavoured recently to shave it off, perhaps to hide his age, make his face younger, though the lines were still visible, perhaps now even more so. He had brown, deep eyes that seemed to hide many secrets, and even as he stood there, he dabbed his brow with a handkerchief, stitched with the initials 'CB' in one corner.
Around the table they stood to the head of, were a collection of rather mismatched individuals. The first was a very neat woman, with her auburn-tinted brown hair pinned back from her face in a very prim bun atop her head to the rear, a few strands falling loose every few moments, only to receive a tuck behind the ear. Her cool blue eyes stared only around the walls, to the various portraits and oddities that adorned the walls of the Albion Museum's lower level. She was tall, though it could not be proven whilst she was seated, and was dressed in the formal, proper attire for a nineteenth century lady. White blouse, red scarf about her neck, over her black, buttoned jacket, the corset concealed beneath the clothing devoid of creases or marring. Her lean face was beautiful but had a hidden darkness to it, as though some terrible secret was concealed just beneath the surface. Mrs. Wilhelmina 'Mina' Harker cleared her throat quietly, and released a delicate sigh.
The second figure sighed heavily, and removed a golden pocket watch, flicking it open and shut a few times before actually allowing his chocolate-coloured eyes to settle on the ticking hands within. He set it back in its pouch within his grey waistcoat, and neatened the lapels of his black dinner jacket over the top, checking the tidiness of his collar. His chestnut hair was combed over his right eye simply, simply to keep it from obstructing his gaze, which seemed to blaze with the wariness of two people. There was a readiness to his lean limbs that seemed to scream enthusiasm for action, yet the apprehension in the face said otherwise. Humming lightly to himself now, Doctor Henry Jekyll – vessel for Mr. Edward Hyde, scourge of London and Paris for many a year – lowered his eyes from the clock on the wall.
The third figure did not sit slouched like in the others, not even in the slightest fashion with the first two. His back was straight, as though set with a pole, and his dark eyes were shaded in mystery. His black beard and moustache were finely trimmed and combed to the finest detail, curled up slightly above his top lip, as if framing his face lightly. His hair was covered by an immaculate cyan turban, decorated with a silver Nautili shell, a feather pressing out of the top, catching the light ever so slightly and reflecting it for a moment. The silver trimming continued down along his regal uniform, complete with sashes and fine belt, all polished and scrubbed to rid it of any marks whatsoever. There was not a speck of dirt or dust on the man, especially not on his fine scabbard at his left hip, the ornamental hilt of the beautiful sword a resting place for one tanned weathered hand. The lined face – delicately showing his years – turned to regard the others for a moment, before Captain Nemo simply took to staring at the far wall over the top of Jekyll's head.
Fourth at the table, was a yawning white face, framed by the unique silhouette created by his tall, wide peaked trilby, black along with everything else in his attire, save for the paint on his features. Pince-nez glasses were pinched lightly but firmly onto his nose, saved from having to grip behind ears. The long leather duster was folded in such a way that showed invisible arms were crossed over a broad chest, refined but not overly muscular in a way that suggested amazing strength. He had an air of stealth and cunning, with a sly ever-present smirk that betrayed his love for mischief. He bobbed his booted foot over one knee to a nonexistent rhythm only he could hear, and glanced around him lazily at the decorations. Rodney Skinner, self-proclaimed 'gentleman thief' sighed lightly, and craned his neck.
The final figure was perhaps the most relaxed-appearing of all of them. His slouch was less than subtle, and his posture betrayed his years. He was about five seconds of boredom away from putting a boot on the table, but seemed to be refraining from such action lest it earn him a scolding. His body was thin, but not overly so, tall and athletic, showing he either exercised religiously, or was in the business of pursuit. Green, hazel-flecked eyes showed intelligence and a wit unbecoming someone of his years and – seemingly – lack of experience. His defined chest rose and fell with a lazy sigh, and he rolled strong shoulders under a black cloth duster, his white shirt sleeves rolled up to the elbows beneath. A black waistcoat rested unbuttoned above that, and the edges of a holster harness could be seen about his torso, normally housing two polished and cherished Colt six-shooter pistols. Blonde hair fell youthfully around his boyish features, resting on his furrowed brow in gentle locks that seemed to have lost a little curl over the time in whatever service he worked for. Braces hung down from his belt, having no real purpose other than to sit uselessly and give him an adolescent 'appeal'. His normal cheeky and inwardly charming grin was not present, instead his mouth was slightly down turned into a pensive frown as he twirled one of his pistols around his right hand using the trigger guard, reflecting wan light in every direction. Beside him rested a prized Winchester lever action rifle, housing eight rounds of explosive ammunition, propped against his leaning chair. The stock had been decorated with a silver dollar on one side, and the firing chamber had been styled with delicate inscriptions, making it a true one of a kind weapon that he adored, though it was not his first, and he had had to acquire a new one in his country of origin. Special Agent Thomas 'Tom' Sawyer of the American Secret Service raised his thoughtful gaze to the woman at the table for a secretive moment, before falling back to his idle amusement.
When it seemed the only noise would be that of Jekyll's light humming, and the rhythmic tick-tock of the clock hung high upon the wall above the tall oak doors opposite the table, a cockney accent broke the tension, "Well… this is riveting, but I'm sure there's a reason we're all goin' numb in these godforsaken chairs, 'eh?" His blank – quite literally – gaze turned upon the government officials, representatives of 'Her Majesty's Empire' and Skinner raised his painted brows.
As usual, it was Campion Bond – and not Mycroft Holmes – who spoke, saying in response, "Patience gentlemen." He paused, his somewhat nervous gaze meeting that of Mina Harker. He cleared his throat and added, "And lady, of course. We need wait only a few moments more, I am certain."
Mycroft Holmes nodded aloofly, and Tom Sawyer rolled his eyes with boredom and annoyance at the lofty behaviour of the bureaucrats. They all seemed the same to him, and each one he had met over the years had irritated the life out of him, just about. He had been inches – each time – from breaking their nose or pulling a gun just to get them to act normal or shut up. He knew he couldn't do that here… ever since the British Empire had instated them as an official team – wherein the Queen had realised she really did need elite protection such as this – and they now followed – at least for the most part – the orders of the two men standing before them, or any of their lackeys they sent to do their job for them. Lazy, in Tom's opinion.
But Skinner had a good point… they had been summoned, from the middle of the Atlantic no less, in order to sit in the lower levels of the Albion Museum – their headquarters – for, it seemed, no reason. They had been here nearly half an hour, musing away, and watching the time trickle past.
"What are we waiting for?" Tom inquired when his patience hit a barrier, and refused to stretch any further. "We weren't exactly sittin' on our hands when you sent the message, y'know."
"Agent Sawyer," Mycroft began, and startled the American by speaking at all. Tom actually nearly lost the grip on his Colt, snapping his fingers around the handle so suddenly that it jolted slightly. The youthful emerald gaze floated to the larger of the two men and locked there as he persisted in his firm accent, "I should imagine you will relent from speaking any further in a negative manner when you realise the reason for such a message, hmm?"
Maybe I will and maybe I won't, Tom thought, dropping his gaze and feeling a little lower all of a sudden, as though he had been knocked down a peg, despite being joint commander of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen along with Mina Harker. It wasn't that he couldn't handle the responsibility of leadership on his own… no, he had enforced missions at the Secret Service a few times in the past, but this was different… he wanted help, as it were. This wasn't just America's safety he was dealing with anymore… this was the world. He welcomed the assistance, and knew Mina was more than happy to provide it.
Clearing her throat, Mina sat forward a little more in her chair, and leaned over the table. Tom caught her visual cue, and did the same, tilting his head so she could whisper in his ear; "We will give them five more minutes… and then leave, whether they authorise it or not."
Tom nodded subtlely, and took satisfaction in seeing the curiousity on Campion Bond's round face. Tom offered him a lazy, crooked smile, and settled back into the slouch he had assumed ten minutes previous. He twirled the Colt a few more times, watched by Jekyll, and slotted it firmly back into its holster on the right side of his waist, mirroring the other.
That was when there was a loud knock on the double doors that shut off the room they occupied. The eyes of the League and its liaisons turned as one to the barricade, and Mycroft called out clearly, "Enter."
The American was sure – when looking at the faces of his companions – that he was not the only one who sensed trepidation when those handles started to shift downward to open the doors. Without explanation, a shiver ran along his spine, and his brow furrowed uncertainly, even as the doors parted, and permitted a figure entry.
He was pretty damn certain that if he had still been holding his pistol at that moment, he would have clean dropped it to the floor in an instant. His eyes widened – and though he would never admit it due to pride, he thought they welled slightly – and his jaw dropped just a little as his breath caught in his throat.
All around him – save for, annoyingly, Holmes and Bond – the rest of the League took on similar expressions of shock, disbelief and downright confusion as the man strode a few steps further into illumination. He lifted the peak of his adventurer's cap, and bent it slightly upward, revealing the dark yet wise eyes, beneath greying brows and whitening hair. His trim beard and moustached lined his mouth, which was slightly upturned into a mildly amused smile at their reactions. There was a tan-grey sash tied loosely but securely around his neck, widening the collar of his white shirt, covered with a taupe waistcoat, complete with pouches and slots for bullets and hunter's equipment. The vague shape of a pair of spectacles could be made out in the breast pocket on the right of the waistcoat, only partially covered by the lapel of the long brown leathery coat that brushed around the hardy boots, where the hilt of a blade protruded from one top. His pants were beige, and rimmed with a rawhide belt, where a menacing bowie knife was slotted securely. Inside the jacket – Tom knew fair well – was a Webley revolver, slotted into a single holster, and hidden from prying eyes. Finally, in his weathered hands, covered with wrinkles that showed his age and experience from adventures long completed and hunts long succeeded… was a Winchester rifle; lever action… holding eight rounds, with a dollar in the stock and inscribed ornately around the chamber.
Tom could not slow his racing heart as the tall man that was Allan Quatermain stepped closer once again, saying, "Hello again."
No one spoke… no one could find the words with which to return the man's greeting. All simply stared as though they had seen a ghost, which – in Tom's opinion – was very much the case. He had died… Tom had seen it happen, considered himself to blame for the demise of the great white hunter. He had been stabbed in the back whilst saving Tom Sawyer's life, and had died not long after at the hands of Professor James Moriarty, now deceased at Tom's hands.
"You died…" Skinner uttered none too eloquently. He slurred his words as though drunk – which, for once, was not the case – and stammered as if nervous.
"I did, yes," Quatermain responded with an acknowledging nod, furrowing his brow with a smile of mirth as he continued, "but, Mr. Skinner, I thought you would at least remember what I told Dorian Gray in his library." When the invisible thief did not respond in any shape, way or form, Quatermain added, "…Africa would never allow me to die…"
"Good lord… it is good to see you again," Jekyll fumbled, and blinked disbelievingly for a few moments, not really sure how he had managed to speak a whole sentence.
"Mr. Quatermain… it is truly a miracle… and I welcome it," Nemo said, speaking for the first time since entering the Albion Museum, and it was with a tone of awe that he did so. He nodded his head in respect to Quatermain, who returned the gesture. The two men had always got along well, and treated each other kindly given their first impressions.
"Mr. Q… welcome back," Mina managed to say breathlessly, as though she had never seen anything so astonishing in her life. Her blue eyes were filled with wonder, and she only barely forced a smile onto her flawless face. Quatermain laughed quietly, and thanked her.
And that was when he stopped in front of the silent American youth, who could only stare up at him in shock and disbelief, breathing quickly at what he had never – until this moment – thought possible. He was so close, he could be touched if Tom reached out with a hand, but he was too amazed to do, and he narrowed his eyes for a moment, trying to make words come into being, and failing spectacularly in a fashion that must have made Jekyll blush.
Quatermain saved him the trouble, saying, "Sawyer," in a fatherly way that broke the tense silence and stirred Tom into action. He practically leapt from his chair, and threw his arms around the hunter in a tight and reassuring embrace, closing his eyes as he buried his head in the broad shoulder, feeling the affirming hand on his back as Quatermain added, "I missed you too."
Tom pulled himself away, slightly embarrassed, and quickly cleared his throat, his blonde bangs in youthful disarray, before he said, "Don't scare me like that again…"
Quatermain chuckled lightly, and nodded, before raising the Winchester in an offer, holding it forward gently. "I think this belongs to you… you left it behind."
Tom moved to take it back, and then stopped himself, curling his hand into a light fist, before he said, "I meant to."
Quatermain nodded, even as the voice of Holmes broke the moment, much to Tom's chagrin, "I hate to disrupt the reunion, gentlemen… and lady, but I believe I hear someone approaching, considering Mr. Quatermain did leave the door open."
The older of the men in the room raised a greying brow in a reproachful manner, and huffed quietly in regards to the gentle chide. When Tom paid attention, he too could hear someone coming closer. Their echoing footfalls were hard to miss, channelled down the staircase to their ears.
"Are we to assume that Mr. Quatermain is to be rejoining the League?" Nemo inquired in his normal, calm tones, ones that commanded attention and respect. Campion Bond looked in his direction and nodded.
"If that is his wish."
"It is," Quatermain confirmed immediately, and patted Tom on the shoulder encouragingly, before taking the empty seat next to where the American had been sitting, on the curve of the table between the two new leaders of the team. Tom took his chair again, still shaky after the shock. Back from the dead… he couldn't believe it, and he far from understood it. He assumed it had something to do with that odd man he had seen in Africa, chanting and parading around a fire, but he decided not to dwell on it, and instead return to the matter at hand.
A gruff looking gentlemen – whom the League had seen before, and knew to be in Holmes' employ – entered the room somewhat apprehensively, as if afraid to disrupt the meeting that was in order. He cleared his throat nervously, and stammered, "Excuse me… um… Mr. Holmes, sir?"
"We… we've received word from some locals on the outskirts of London, along with our officials in that area… that there is a disturbance that could use your attentions… sir." Wilkins shuffled on his feet and wrung his hands as though he had never been so intimidated in his life.
"What kind of disturbance?" Holmes inquired further, knitting his brow in a perplexed manner.
Wilkins coughed lightly, and scratched his grubby fingers through his hair, before saying, "Well, sir… it would appear as though something has fallen out of the sky."
"… Out of the sky, Wilkins?" Bond urged, sceptical, but dabbing his brow with the handkerchief once again.
"Yes… some people saw it crash into the common. That was a few hours ago. Locals have been approaching it to investigate despite the officers instructing them to keep back. Some have even entered the pit with digging equipment, Mr. Holmes. We thought you'd be wanting to know, as it were."
Holmes nodded. "Very well, Wilkins. Dismissed. Have a cab waiting out the front for our associates, would you? And a separate one for Mr. Bond and a guard to accompany him."
"Yes, sir." With that, Wilkins scuttled away, reminding Tom none too gracefully of a terrified insect. Raising a brow, Tom regarded Holmes.
"You're sending us out there?" Jekyll asked, confused. The pocket watch opened and closed in his hand, over and over… open, closed, open, closed.
"Yes I am, Dr. Jekyll. I take it there are no objections? From the sounds of it… this is right up your alley." The intelligent eyes cast collectively over the team gathered. As he suspected, there were no objections, and that was when Holmes and Bond took their leave.
The League looked on after them, a team of six once again, and remained in confused silence until Skinner chose to speak somewhat casually, "Well," he said, "looks like our holiday's over."