Dorian Gray walked up brazenly to one of Captain Nemo's crewmen and flipped open the stolen wallet in front of the astonished man's face. "I'm Special Agent Reginald Peterson," Gray said, doing his best to disguise his voice to appear American, while keeping the lip to his hat down low enough that his eyes were hidden in shadow. "A fellow agent is inside that house...."
"Are you here to help that Mr. Malloy then?" the crewman asked warily. He remembered his Captain's order to not interfere with the Secret Service unless they were attempting to take the youngest League member away.
"Yes. First I want to take a quick look around the perimeters to make sure nothing is amiss in Agent Sawyer's protection." Gray gloated inside at how the lowly seaman fell hook, line and sinker for his performance as he began his search around the spy's home. Thankfully Nemo hired them for loyalty, not intelligence, but he would have to continue to play out his new role brilliantly if he hoped to get in close enough to see Sawyer.
Henry rose groggily from the couch, the sound of screaming and yelling reaching his ears.
Was that melee coming from Tom's room? Instantly the doctor flew away from the couch and made his way toward his patient, prepared to give the 'visitors' a tongue lashing for disrupting Tom's much need rest. As he neared the room, Jekyll heard the voice of reason coming from one of his teammates, easing his concern.
"Everyone! Please remain calm!" Captain Nemo exclaimed, holding out the bowl of oatmeal Mrs. O'Brien had let fall from her grasp. He eyed the shell shocked form of Mr. O'Brien who watched his wife beating upon what appeared to be air, and realized he had only one card to play in hopes of getting the irate woman to refrain from her actions against Skinner. He didn't relish having to use force on a female. "Madame, there is no cause for concern. Would you please help Sawyer with his breakfast?"
Mrs. O'Brien stopped pounding upon the invisible mound of flesh before her. "What about the ghost?" she snapped. "We should be finding a chaplain immediately to dispel this demon...."
"Bloody hell, lady!" Skinner yelled out, glad to be free from the pummeling he was receiving. Damn, this tiny woman could hit like a heavy weight boxer! "If I was a bleeding ghost, do you think you'd be able to beat the living hell out of me?"
Jekyll walked up and placed a hand gently upon the frightened woman's shoulder, his voice soft and comforting. "This is Mr. Skinner. He's the one with the very white features in the photograph I showed you. Without the face paint and coat, he's actually invisible, but a human being nonetheless. There's no need to be fearful of him."
"I know it's hard to believe, Miz Amiee," Tom added from his bed, ignoring Allan's orders to stay quiet and reserve his strength, "but he is invisible. He's also a friend of mine. It's okay."
"Skinner, put your damn coat and face paint on," Allan muttered in the thief's direction, as he continued to keep pressure on Sawyer's shoulder with his right hand. All this racket had the boy moving about too much! The O'Brien's looked on in amazement as a human form began to take shape underneath the black leather coat, while the can of white cream fleshed out a face.
Nemo placed the bowl of oatmeal back into Mrs. O'Brien's hand, and pointed to the chair Quatermain had formally occupied. "You and your husband may stay with Sawyer while the rest of us adjourn to the living room."
Charlie O' Brien nodded his approval of the plan, and gently pushed his dumbfounded wife towards the chair. "Appreciate the gesture, Mr. Nemo...."
Malloy and Allan looked ready to protest, but the captain of the Nautilus gave them a glare that was notorious for sending shivers down his crew, instantly calming any rebelling of his orders. "It is only fair for the O'Brien's to have this time with Sawyer since he will be soon joining us on the Nautilus."
Tom perked up at the news. "The Nautilus? I'm really goin' back into the League?" The young agent glanced between his supervisor and the hunter with hopeful eyes. It was almost too good to be true, but so was Allan being alive, and here he was before him.
"Yes, you are, lad," Quatermain confirmed with a smirk in Malloy's direction.
"It's still debatable," the head spy said sourly. "My superior hasn't agreed to anything."
"You are coming aboard the Nautilus to recuperate," the captain answered firmly, giving Sawyer a wink only the blonde spy could see. "That issue has been settled. Gentlemen, shall we finish our discussions elsewhere while our friend has his meal?" The five men exited the room quietly, allowing Tom to relax in the care of the O'Brien's.
"I still feel Agent Sawyer should be in a hospital," Malloy groused as he and the others entered inside the living room.
"My Nautilus has the most advanced medical equipment available," Nemo answered curtly. "Sawyer will receive the best care possible. Even your President understands that detail, Mr. Malloy. You should use your time more wisely in trying to investigate who was trying to kidnap your agent, not wasting it on attempting to bully us."
"Why you rotten...," Malloy seethed.
"Nemo's right," Rodney interjected. "There's a bunch of dead blokes not far from here that you should be looking into. Don't want the public having a picnic in the park with a bunch of bodies, do we? Imagine what that would do to the tourist trade."
Giving the thief a nasty glare, the supervisor of the Secret Service stormed out of the house, knowing that he didn't have the authority now to stop Sawyer from being moved to the Nautilus, thanks to President McKinley. No, he would get Whitcomb to handle Quatermain and the President, relieving himself from dealing with these freaks from England.
Trevor Whitcomb was just entering his office to begin his day when a messenger came rushing up to him. Taking the envelope from the breathless young man, the director of the Secret Service noted the Presidential seal immediately.
Ripping open the envelope, he read over the quickly written words it contained, his alarm rising. Agent Sawyer was injured, and Allan Quatermain was with him! How could everything have been turned on its head so quickly?
"Tell President McKinley I'll be there as quickly as I can," Whitcomb told the messenger, who hurried down the hallway to deliver the response to the letter. Passing by his secretary, the director ordered her to track down Agent Malloy and inform him of an emergency meeting with the President.
First came the red flares, then the missing agents . . . now Agent Sawyer had barely survived a botched kidnaping attempt. Was all Hell breaking loose?
As Joe Harper neared Sawyer's house, the young spy was quite unprepared for the sight that greeted him. A large number of oddly dressed men were spaced out over the modest lawn, their dark eyes focused upon the horizon, as if they were watching for someone. Using his spy training, he scurried behind a nearby bush before they could spot him, and watched the strangers intently.
Miz Aimee had told him that Tom had been wounded, and that some of Tom's friends from England were here taking care of him at his home. The only time Tom Sawyer had been in England for the government was to chase after the Fantom, so that meant these 'friends' had to be from the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The small army of men before him looked to be from India, which would tie in with Captain Nemo.
Joe knew a bit about the League, being Sawyer's contact while hiding out in France. The American government had heard about the forming of a group of dangerous outcasts, and they worried it could be connected to the Fantom. Huck Finn's last communication had mentioned a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen being created, and so Tom was sent to England to find out what he could about the Fantom, and this League.
Sawyer did all the leg work in London, passing what information he could find to Joe, who stayed as inconspicuous as possible in the French countryside. The Secret Service didn't want both agents in the same area, in case something went wrong like what happened in Huck Finn's death.
The last communication Harper received from his fellow agent was to let him know that Tom was going to 'join' this League, since he felt them to be part of the solution, not the problem. When Sawyer had found out Allan Quatermain was leading the group, he knew they were not an evil organization. The infamous adventurer would never lower himself to work for the likes of the Fantom willingly.
Taking the chance that these were indeed Captain Nemo's men, Joe came out from behind his hiding place, raising his hands away from his body to show he meant no harm...at least as of now. He walked up boldly to Tom's front yard, and to the group of strangers.
One of the foreign men instantly came up to Harper, his rifle raised half-way as dark eyes scanned over the new visitor. Before the junior spy could speak, he heard the all too familiar voice of his supervisor.
"Harper? Did that busybody, Mrs. O'Brien, send you here?" Malloy demanded, giving Nemo's crewman a surly look. Grabbing a hold of Joe's shirt, he pulled the younger man away, steering him to less occupied area of the yard.
"She said Tom was hurt," Joe began to speak before being cut off.
"According to those freaks inside, Agent Sawyer is just fine," Malloy said with heavy disdain. "Even though he was ambushed, shot, then almost nearly bled to death."
"What?" the former Missouri boy gasped in alarm. "Is he okay? Do you know who did it?"
"Yes, Sawyer will recover, but we don't know who was behind it. That bastard Quatermain said–"
"Wait a minute! You mean the deceased Allan Quartermain?"
Rolling his eyes, Malloy let out a huff of irritation. "Yes, that overstated glory hound is alive and well. Royal pain in the ass is more like it."
Joe pointed to Sawyer's home, itching to see for himself his friend's condition. "Would it be okay if I just step in a bit to see Tom?"
"You have ten minutes. Doubt if you'll get more than five minutes with Sawyer anyway with that circus inside. After that, meet me in Lafayette Square before heading into work."
"Of course, sir," Joe replied politely, pushing his curiosity about the order to the back of his mind. Seeing Tom was his first priority.
Mrs. O'Brien came out of Tom's room with a half empty bowl of oatmeal and walked up to the League members. "Poor dear fell asleep, but at least he did get some food in him."
"Tom told us that all he needed from his home was his clothes and the trunk at the foot of his bed," Charlie O'Brien spoke as he walked up beside his wife. "The elephant gun hanging over the fireplace was to be given back to Mr. Quatermain, and he'd also like to be moved to the Nautilus as soon as possible, even if he's sleeping at the time."
Allan grunted in agreement. He hated to disturb the lad's sleep, but this couldn't wait any longer. "Captain, would you mind alerting some of your men to start preparations for transporting Sawyer and his belongings?"
"With pleasure," Nemo replied with an slight smile. He walked swiftly over to the door, but before he could fully open it, another figure from outside almost ran into him.
"Joey!" Mrs. O'Brien called out when she spotted the young man. "It's all right, Mr. Nemo, he's Tom's friend."
"We've been expecting you, Mr. Harper," Captain Nemo said to the newcomer. "I am -"
"Captain Nemo!" Joe interrupted happily. "I've heard a lot of amazin' things about you!" The spy glanced over at the group of men standing near the kitchen. "I'm goin' to guess the gent with the white face is Rodney Skinner, the invisible man, and the man with the nice suit is Dr. Jekyll. Sure is an honor to meet you all!"
Walking up to Quatermain, Joe held out his hand for the explorer to shake. "And there's no mistakin' you're Allan Quatermain. Glad to see you aren't dead after all."
Allan shook the youth's hand with a slight smirk. "You certainly know about us."
"Yeah," Harper said with a fast nod of his head. "I'd love to chat more, but my supervisor said I don't have much time, so I'd like to see Tom, if that's okay."
The hunter's dark brows rose in surprise. "You're a direct lad, aren't you? Thomas is resting in his room . . . ."
"I'd better warn you, Mr. Quatermain, Tom hates bein' called Thomas. Be better for you if'n you just called him Tom. It'll be a whole heap easier." Joe looked in the direction of his friend's room. "Is he awake?"
"No, but it'll be all right for you to see him," Jekyll answered. "He'll be leaving soon to go aboard the Nautilus to recuperate."
"Thanks, I'll do my best not to rouse him." Stopping briefly to give Mrs. O'Brien a big hug, the young Missourian hurried to see his old friend.
Quatermain huffed irritably as he watched Joe enter Tom's room. "Be easier for me? Be better for me to obey the whims of a youngster? What a bunch of rot. If the boy's name is Thomas, it's Thomas!"
Skinner and Henry exchanged amused glances. This was going to be an interesting war of the wills coming up!
Dorian had made his way to the back of the house without any trouble, avoiding any contact with Nemo's men for good measure. Eyeing the small window that was awash in the glow from the fireplace inside, the immortal inched closer, hoping to be able to tell the state Sawyer was in.
Thankfully the curtain was parted an inch, and Gray could see his young charge lying still in the bed, with covers up to his neck. He briefly watched Tom's chest rise up and down in a steady rhythm. The whelp looked to be in one piece, and now it was up to him to make sure the little hellion stayed that way to avoid being sent back to Hell. The brief flashes of Hellfire he felt back at the Treasury Building must've been when Sawyer was injured.
Toying with the idea of prying the window open and slipping inside the bedroom, Dorian decided not to try and force the issue for now. With Sawyer obviously in a deep slumber, the ageless Briton would have to face the others on his own. Not a good plan. Like it or not, he needed the American brat to convince the others to let him rejoin.
The door to Tom's bedroom opened suddenly, forcing Gray to quickly move away from the window to avoid being seen. Lowering his body underneath it, he raised his head over the sill to eye level, hoping to get a glimpse of who had entered. Whoever this person was, he looked to be about Sawyer's age, and from the gentle way the youth took the slumbering man's hand, he appeared to be a friend.
Dorian thought back to what that annoying Mrs. O'Brien said at the restaurant. She mentioned a "Joey" person. Was this the newcomer? A familiar voice booming in the distance tore the handsome aristocrat from his musings. Crouching near a bush beside the window, Gray tried to make his body as small as possible so not to be noticed.
He saw Captain Nemo addressing a small group of his men to the left side of Sawyer's home, and from what he could pick up from the bit of Hindi he knew, it sounded like they were going to be moving the spy to the Nautilus.
The immortal's heart leapt into his throat. If he could somehow get aboard the Nautilus, the rest of the League would have to hear him out! He strained to pick up more of the conversation, hoping for anything to help in his task. A pleased smile formed on his lips when he heard a mention of a trunk at the foot of Tom's bed. It looked big enough to hold a man inside!
A man such as himself.
Mrs. Harker, Campion Bond, and the German Ambassador to England, Fredrick Hartings, traveled silently in the train's first class coach, their thoughts and spirits heavy. None knew for sure what awaited them once they arrived in Germany, but they were each bracing themselves for the worst.
The loss of life kept stabbing at Mina unmercifully, the fact that even innocent children were among the slaughtered. Would even the might of the League be able to stop these horrible aliens? The half-vampiress forced the doubt from her mind. Together, they would somehow find a way. They were Earth's last hope.
Flipping through the little stack of paperwork in her lap, Mina tried to find some clue, some reasoning as to why this particular town called Steinmoss was chosen for destruction. There were other small villages that had fewer inhabitants nearby, so was there something there that drew the aliens to this spot? A stray sheet of paper fell down to the floor near Ambassador Hartings' feet, causing the auburn haired woman to notice his trousers. There was a white, powder substance toward the bottom of one leg.
Her eyes growing large in recognition, Mina asked, "Mr. Hartings, may I ask as to where you might have acquired this white powder that is on your trouser leg?"
Startled by the question, Hartings glanced down, noticing the powder for the first time. "It has been a horrendous twenty-four hours, Mrs. Harker, and I haven't paused to even change my attire," he began. "I must have picked it up at the sight of the devastation. The whole village was covered in it. Frankly, the powder was about all that was left."
Mina gave the man a sympathetic look. "I apologize for my frankness, Mr. Hartings, but in my research of these beings, I have continuously come across a white powder substance."
"Do you have any ideas of what it is?"
Shaking her head, the female member of the League lowered her gaze. "So far I haven't been able to find anything special about it, or even what it is called."
"Maybe when we reach the site, things will begin to make sense," Ambassador Hartings said hopefully. "I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you, Mrs. Harker and Mr. Bond, for your availability in assisting our country."
"All countries of the Earth may need to band together to stop this threat," Bond spoke gloomily. "We can't stick our heads in the sand anymore and say it's the other country's problem."
Hartings nodded his head solemnly in agreement. He wasn't too keen in seeking out the help of the British, but their government's inner workings were more advanced. Bond was right. This could lead to a worldwide catastrophe.
The three traveling companions fell back into an uneasy silence as the train raced down the tracks towards Germany.