Disclaimer: I don't own any of the League, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, or the villain; they all belong to their respective creators, and I'm just borrowing the characters for a bit
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The Adventure of the Seven Legends
An hour later, having contacted the other members of the League and returning to their apparent headquarters underneath the British Museum, the League, Holmes and myself found ourselves sitting around the table, looking expectantly at Doctor Jekyll as he stood at the top of the table.
"Right then, Henry," Agent Sawyer said, leaning over to clasp his hands together as he looked critically at his friend, "now that we're all here, care to tell us all how you and the little midget Hyde can be active at the same time?"
"And come to that, care to explain where the big guy comes into play if this little dude's the original Hyde?" Mr Skinner inquired, tilting his head to one side; at present he was only wearing his coat and hat, minus the white greasepaint he wore when in public, so the only sign of the action was the hat tilting slightly in apparently thin air. "I read the book you gave Sawyer, but I always thought that the little guy just grew a lot over the years or something."
"A reasonable guess, but an incorrect one," Doctor Jekyll said, shaking his head slightly at the former thief before he turned his attention back to the rest of the League. "Firstly, I must apologise for never mentioning that this had taken place, but I assure you that, at the time, I assumed it had been dealt with at the time and would never return to trouble me again."
"What wouldn't trouble you again?" Professor Hartdegen asked, raising his eyebrow curiously; having returned to the Museum and transformed back from Jospeh Seeque, he had changed into a spare jacket and shirt that had been laid aside for him, and now looked as though he'd never transformed in the first place.
"That is a complicated story, but I shall do what I can to explain it," Doctor Jekyll said, nodding briefly at his friend before he turned to look at the entire League once again. "For the benefit of those of you who are unaware of the events in Stevenson's book, my original transformation to Hyde was, as it is now, triggered whenever I drank a potion, this one consisting of, among other things, a certain white powder that I would rather remained nameless. As time went on, Hyde began to grow more and more dominant in my psyche than he had been originally, with the result that I sometimes found myself transforming into him without the potion, commonly whenever I was tired or thought an impure thought. Originally, I resigned myself to simply keeping my secret by remaining in my rooms and maintaining regular access to my potion, but things eventually became more difficult for me when I began to run out of the powder that I had used in the original potion. Initially, I attempted to simply recover more supplies of the powder, but further supplies had no effect beyond making me ill and weak; no transformation of any kind resulted from the experience. I eventually concluded that the first supply of the powder had not been pure, and it was that unknown impurity that was the vital ingredient in the transformation."
"Wait a minute; you were running out of the key ingredient to your potion?" Professor Hartdegen said, looking in confusion at Doctor Jekyll. "But then… how do you manage to keep so much of it available?"
"Oh, the explanation for that is straightforward enough; it's the consequences of the reasons for that change that are the problem here," Doctor Jekyll explained, shaking his head slightly as he continued to study his friends and teammates. "You see, once I concluded that, since duplicating the original formula for my serum was clearly impossible, it occurred to me that my only chance to maintain my original identity was to come up with a new serum that would do the opposite of what I had originally sought; repress the darker sides of my nature once again, and allow me to once again regain dominance over him. In the moments between my transformations as Hyde, I worked on modifying my original formula to incorporate the lack of the powder and bring the transformation further under my control once again. According to all my calculations, the Hyde personality would no longer be as suppressed as it had been in the past- I would henceforth be aware of him even when I was not him-, and there might be some other side-effects to the transformation, but in exchange for regaining control of my ability to turn into Hyde, I felt it worth the risk."
"So what happened from there?" Mrs Harker asked, looking curiously at the former London doctor. "Where does the Hyde we know come into existence?"
"The answer to that question can be found on the last night I spent in my rooms at London," Doctor Jekyll explained, as he sat down in a nearby chair, the better to continue the conversation in relative comfort. "I had finally managed to come up with a formula that I believed would prevent my periodic transformations into Hyde, albeit at the cost of giving him some degree of influence even when I had not actually transformed into him. With the knowledge that I was rapidly approaching a point where transformation would be imminent, I drank the potion, and, for a moment, lost consciousness as the transformation overtook me.
"The next thing I remember- or rather, the next thing that Hyde remembers- is standing in my rooms, now seemingly having shrunk a significant amount, and facing, much to my surprise, the familiar dwarf-like form that was my former appearance when I transformed into My Hyde."
"You were facing him?" Holmes asked, leaning forward to look inquiringly at Doctor Jekyll. "As in, you had woken up and you were now facing yourself? He was literally now an independent entity; this did not merely occur as a dream of some sort?"
"It was no dream; this genuinely took place," Doctor Jekyll said, nodding in confirmation at my friend as he continued. "To date, I have never been able to deduce how that occurred. My best guess is that, when I drank my new serum, intended to permanently suppress Edward Hyde physically, Hyde had established himself as such a strong personality independently that he managed to physically manifest himself as an independent entity when faced with the prospect of being permanently trapped, rather like a wild animal about to be caged will fight the prospect as much as it is capable of."
"So… you're saying, when faced with the choice of being trapped or being independent, Hyde chose to basically 'leave' your actual body?" Agent Sawyer said, staring incredulously at his teammate. "Ouch… that had to hurt."
"Quite," Jekyll said, nodding simply in confirmation. "If it hadn't been for the new Hyde's sheer strength, I may well have passed out long enough for the new Hyde to kill me as a means of revenge for what I had done to him; as it was, Edward was capable of forcing back the pain long enough to confront this new individual.
"Confronting my… well, my other self is the only term Hyde and I have ever found to describe the individual in question… Hyde soon determined that he retained all my memories of my actions both as myself and as… himself… and rapidly decided that there would be nothing to gain by leaving him alive and free. A short battle took place, resulting in the original Hyde being seemingly beaten to death by the new model; his natural cunning allowed him to land some blows, but the new Hyde was significantly stronger than he was, and he has only grown in size and power each time I drank my new formula."
"OK, so that fills in the question of how the guy seems to be walking about without being you; what I don't get is how he's still breathing after you apparently beat him to death," Agent Sawyer mused, before he glanced over inquiringly at Holmes and myself. "I don't suppose your last meeting with Jekyll holds any clue? You did say you'd encountered him on his last night in London…"
Holmes shook his head. "Unfortunately, at the moment that encounter appears to only add to our questions rather than answer them," he said apologetically as he looked at our new allies. "Having discovered what we could of Jekyll's past history and his near-obsession with the duality of human nature, I had already at least partially deduced the truth behind his connection with Edward Hyde, but sought to uncover proof by confronting him in his own study once and for all. Arriving there, Watson and I found ourselves confronted by Edward Hyde in Jekyll's clothing, but he subsequently drank what he described as the last phial of his serum, causing him to transform back into Jekyll and subsequently explain the whole thing to us."
"Hold on; he could turn into Jekyll?" Professor Hartdegen said, looking incredulously over at my friend. "But… even assuming that the original Hyde survived our Hyde's attack, how could he have turned into Jekyll when he wasn't part of Jekyll any more?"
"Just because he was an independent entity wouldn't have stopped him possessing some aspects of Jekyll that the serum could affect," Mrs Harker put in, leaning forward to look inquiringly at Doctor Jekyll as she spoke. "He must have still possessed at least some fragments of his original identity that the potion could bring out, but he would have simply lacked the strength to remain Jekyll for as long as usual."
"Indeed, that would account for the haste of his transformation back into Hyde," Holmes mused, glancing over at me. "Would you not agree with me, Watson, that the Jekyll we encountered turned back into Hyde after only an hour or so at most?"
"That does appear to fit," I replied, nodding in confirmation as I looked at the doctor in question. "Would I be correct in assuming that such a rapid transformation back was not a regular occurrence for you, Doctor?"
Jekyll shook his head. "No, Doctor Watson, it was not," he replied, a thoughtful expression on his face for a moment before he looked back at Mrs Harker. "It would appear that your theory was correct, Mina; there would be enough of my personality left in his body to enable him to transform back and forth with the original serum, but not enough to allow him to maintain my appearance for the regular length of time. The serum could have only brought out whatever aspects of me remained in that Hyde; as the purest personification of the evil within me, it is only to be expected that he would not be capable of existing in his 'Jekyll' identity for long."
"OK, so we've got the 'how he could become you' bit sorted out; what we don't know is what happened afterwards that means he's still walking about" Mr Skinner said, glancing back at Holmes as he spoke. "Care to fill us in on what happened after he'd told you everything?"
For a moment, Holmes and I exchanged reluctant glances- even after so long, the events of that last confrontation in Doctor Jekyll's study was still a somewhat uncomfortable subject among the two of us-, but finally Holmes spoke.
"Having told us the truth about his life as Hyde, and having revealed that he had failed in every attempt to duplicate the original serum- without, of course, mentioning this new formula that the good doctor developed-, the doctor revealed that he had lain out a phial of cyanide on the table, hoping that Hyde would chose that option rather than the gallows. However, Watson and I both expressed our disbelief that someone as in love with himself as Hyde would ever commit suicide, prompting Jekyll to take up a poker and move to attack us, citing his actions as the actions of a man who lacked both the will to live and the courage to die. I was forced to shoot him to stop him killing Watson and myself- apparently at the moment he was transforming into Edward Hyde-, and, with Utterson and Poole banging on the door, we departed the laboratory by the window, throwing Jekyll's papers into the fire to prevent anybody from ever attempting to duplicate his experiments."
"Ah," Doctor Jekyll said, nodding in understanding as he looked at the two of us. "Well, that would certainly account for your surprise at finding me alive when you joined us…"
"But it still fails to provide us with an explanation for your other self's continued existence," Captain Nemo pointed out, looking critically at his ally before turning to look at Holmes and myself. "I assume there is no possibility that your bullets failed to actually wound Mr Hyde?"
Holmes shook his head. "I fired at him from practically point-blank rage three times and saw each bullet leave a bloody wound; my shots definitely struck home," he assured the Indian captain. "With that in mind, his continued presence remains baffling, even with the initial puzzle of his independent existence solved…"
"Maybe not that much of a puzzle," Mrs Harker put in, a slight smile on her face as she looked over at Doctor Jekyll. "Tell me, Henry, when you initially transformed into the other Hyde, Stephenson's novel records that you were an almost ape-like being in some ways, on some occasions displaying a preternatural strength for a human of his size and bulk."
"Yes…" Jekyll said, nodding uncertainly as he looked at Mina. "Your point?"
"My query is, did you at any point test your ability to heal from injuries?" the part-vampire inquired, leaning back in her chair to look quizzically at her colleague.
Doctor Jekyll's eyes widened in shock, inspiration striking him at almost the same moment it occurred to the rest of us.
"Accelerated healing…" Agent Sawyer groaned, as he clasped his forehead in frustration. "Great… not only have we got an evil midget genius to deal with, we've got to deal with an evil midget genius who's at the very least very difficult to kill."
"Quite," Holmes said, nodding in agreement with Agent Sawyer's assessment before he looked back at Doctor Jekyll. "Shall I assume that your other self's healing abilities are merely somewhat faster than the human norm, rather than being as impressive as those possessed by, say, Mrs Harker?"
Doctor Jekyll nodded. "Precisely," he said, confirming my friend's guess. "If Edward had taken the time to confirm that Mr Hyde was truly dead- if he had broken his neck or something similar- I have no doubt that Mr Hyde would have died, but, as it is, he must have simply escaped after regaining consciousness, leaving a similar enough body behind that nobody would question it. I doubt that his malevonent aspect would be expected to endure after his death, and his apparent use of cyanide to kill himself could have accounted for any of the facial disfigurement that might have been used to account for his changed appearance."
"As reasonable an assumption as any," Holmes said, nodding thoughtfully at Doctor Jekyll before he turned to look at Agent Sawyer. "Given this new discovery, what do you feel our next move should be in attempting to track Mr Hyde?"
Sawyer shrugged. "We've got some personal information about the guy that we didn't have before, and we have access to the person who knows how he thinks best out of anybody; personally, I'd say ask Jekyll how he feels about this guy and take it from there."
"A sound strategy; I agree with you," Holmes replied, nodding in approval before looking at Doctor Jekyll. "Well, Doctor, do you have any ideas where your other self may be concealing himself at present?"
Almost instinctively, Jekyll began to shake his head, but stopped himself mid-shake and began to slowly nod, tapping his chin thoughtfully as though trying to remember something.
"Well… there is one possibility…" he said reflectively as he looked around at the League, a slightly embarrassed expression on his face at the thought. "There were a few locations in Soho that Hyde frequented more than others; even if he isn't actually there, we might be able to find somebody who can tell us where he is."
"Ah; undercover mission, eh?" Mr Skinner said, smiling casually over at the doctor as he stood up, stretched slightly, and glanced over at Agent Sawyer. "So, you want me to lead this little mission?"
Sawyer nodded. "You've got first-hand knowledge on how these guys operate; if there's a better candidate for that job, I can't think of him," he said to the invisible man, before he began to briefly scan the table before coming to a decision. "Terry, Holmes, Watson, you three go with Skinner; if Holmes's skills at disguise are anything like what I've heard, you should be able to blend in convincingly enough, and you might need Terry's strength if things get ugly."
"Is that your power?" I inquired, looking curiously over at the mysterious Terry Nator; of all of our new allies, he was the one whose origins and nature of his powers remained a mystery to both of us. "Enhanced physical abilities?"
"Among other things," Mr Nator replied, as he looked over at me with an almost worryingly neutral gaze.
For a moment, I simply sat and waited for him to elaborate on that, but when no explanation came from the League's most enigmatic member, I decided not to press the issue. If it was relevant to the issue at hand, I had no doubt that Mr Nator would have told me more about his powers; as it was, if he wished to keep his origins and history to himself, I would not pressure him to reveal more than he was comfortable with.