By Leonard Pigg. Illustration by Sterling Clark.
Dr. Henry Jekyll stands on the rooftop of Scrooge Industries, holding the lapels of his lab coat as the wind blows across the Chicago skyline. There are two robots nearby, keeping watch as he paces around the roof. He takes a great sigh of pride as he stands at the place where he challenged Ebeneezer Scrooge for his place with the Six Emperors, a secret cabal that runs the world from the shadows. Now he stands as the owner of a science company he was once an employee for and he has his alter ego, Mr. Hyde to thank for it. Jekyll was encouraged by Professor Moriarty to challenge his abusive boss, Scrooge. For years, Jekyll came up with many devices and serums for Scrooge, only to be verbally and sometimes physically abused. He thinks to himself, “Maybe I should change the name of the company to Jekyll Industries?” He reaches into his pocket and takes out a iPod, putting the ear buds into place. Scrolling through his music selection, he stops on ‘Tam Harrow’ and nods his head to the rhythm. He sits down on the ledge, content in the moment. “Now, sir?” A voice says, disturbing his quiet time. Dr. Jekyll removes the ear buds and turns to see a masked man in a ninja uniform, taking a fighting stance. He gets up and says, “Actually, you were supposed to try and catch me off guard. Oh what the hell, I guess we can just do this.” He starts throwing punches at Jekyll, who blocks them and begins humming along to the music. The ninja nails him in the gut with a kick, knocking him back. Jekyll takes off his glasses and charges at him, unleashing a volley of kicks. He connects twice, sending the ninja back. The two begin trading blows again, neither bothering to block. It becomes less of a martial arts battle and more of a savage brawl. As the fight progresses, Jekyll finally gets the ninja in his grip, strangling him. Once he goes limp, Jekyll puts his glasses back on and turns off his iPod, putting it back into his pocket. The two robots come forward, picking up the unconscious ninja and taking him back into the building. “Take him to the infirmary, please.” Jekyll says calmly. “It looks like I’m going to need a new trainer. This one’s out of tricks. I should have taken Helen of Troy up on her offer to teach me some moves.”
“That might not be a bad idea, Henry. She has had centuries of practice. Gods and goddesses pride themselves on their prowess, it seems. You should meet Hercules sometime, although he’s become a bit of a hipster in recent years.” Jekyll turns suddenly to see where the voice is coming from and sees Professor James Moriarty, one of the nefarious Six Emperors, wearing a tuxedo. He slicks back his silver hair and smiles widely. “I hope you’re adapting well to the new lifestyle. Not everyone is able to cope with suddenly being able to do anything you want or having powerful friends. You seem to be performing admirably.” Jekyll goes over to Moriarty to shake his hand, but he passes through like a ghost. “How did you-” Jekyll’s thought is interrupted by the Professor. “Dear boy, I can hi-jack satellite frequencies and beam down a signal that creates a holographic image of me and allows me to communicate with some of my more sketchier contacts. I would be there in person, but my physical presence is required in Italy. It would seem that a fellow by the name of Maciste has been interrupting my gun-running operations. He’s strong as an ox and quite resilient. Captain Nemo is coming to help me deal with this interloper. Regardless, I thought I would check in on my new Emperor.” Jekyll bows and says, “I appreciate the thought. I’m adapting well. Thanks for taking the time, James.” Moriarty nods and the holographic image fades away, leaving Jekyll alone with his thoughts.
Moments later, a small copper-colored helicopter arrives and lands on the helipad. From it exits Doc Ardan, a scientist-adventurer and longtime friend of Dr. Jekyll. Ardan has close cropped white hair. He looks like a dashing hero that’s aged quite well. He wears a tan dress shirt and a green safari jacket. Sporting khakis and black boots, he looks like an adventurer. Long before Jekyll had joined the Six Emperors, he had gone traveling around the world with Ardan. The two both sought cures to the troubles in their respective lives, until Jekyll finally made peace with Mr. Hyde inside of him and harnessed him for good at times. Meanwhile, Ardan had taken to adventuring after discovering he had a rare form of cancer. In the years since then, he has used a combination of meditation, herbs and potions to keep himself alive. Most recently, Ardan had found a mystical talisman called “The Yeti Heart” and has been wearing around his neck to enhance his strength, stamina, reflexes and extend his life. The two shake hands and smile. “I see you’ve become your own boss, eh?” Doc Ardan says to Jekyll, who laughs. “Long story, Francis. Come in and we can have a bite to eat. I’ll tell you everything,” Jekyll says with a smile, knowing he wouldn’t tell his old friend about being a member of the Six. “I see you still dress like Indiana Jones, Frank.” Jekyll says with a grin. “Of course. I see you’re still borrowing your wardrobe from Doctor Omega.” Jekyll looks puzzled and says, “Doctor who?” Ardan laughs and says, “I guess you haven’t met him yet. He’s all over the place.”
After a lavish meal and catching up on old times, the two scientists begin to walk through the regular parts of the lab and finally, Jekyll takes Ardan to his secret area. Doc Ardan walks around, mystified at all the bleeding edge technology. “Absolutely amazing, old friend. You’ve truly been given a great gift here.” Doc says as he looks at a vat that has a strange, tentacled creature inside it. “Some of this tech doesn’t even look like it’s from this planet or time period. The same could be said for some of these creatures contained here.” Jekyll goes over to what looks like a deprivation tank. He goes over to its control panel and starts pressing keys. A moment later, the top opens and there is a bubbling liquid inside. “Get in Francis. This is the key to your salvation. I’ve had this in storage and you came to mind when I inherited all this. This is the least I can do for you, for being my friend and helping me come to terms with Hyde. It’s a regeneration chamber. It can rebuild a person at the cellular level. If you spend a session in it, I’m certain it will cure you of your cancer. You’ll finally be free!” Jekyll says. Doc goes over to Jekyll, teary eyed and hugs him. “All this time I’ve been searching for a cure in the jungles and the fringe of the world and here it is…” Doc begins to get undressed and climbs into the chamber. He sits back and breathes deeply as the vapors from the liquid rise around him. The talisman around his neck begins to give a subtle glow. “Okay, I’m closing you in the chamber and your body should be fully recovered in a couple of hours. Just relax and you’ll be a new man when you get out.” Ardan lays back in the liquid as the top closes. The chamber seals and begins to hum. While Doc Ardan is in the chamber, his mind wanders to images of dozens of tall and lean Yeti running through the forests. Their sinewy bodies covered in fur and their glowing red eyes. He sees several coming out of the sewers and they all give a collective howl. He snaps out of the vision immediately, deciding to focus on his breathing and think about his healing process.
Jekyll walks around the lab, after adjusting the settings on the chamber. He goes over to a workstation and sits down. All is quiet, so he takes time to meditate while his friend is healing. Dr. Jekyll is snapped out of his meditation by an alarm going off. He looks around, then notices that his defense androids are in the thick of a battle with a dozen Yeti climbing up the side of the building. “Are you kidding me?! The drones should be able to sort this out,” Jekyll says aloud. A moment later, he sees the ghostly image of Mr. Hyde pacing back and forth by the workstation. “Let me out, Henry. I want to play with the Yeti. I’m curious as to what they taste like…” Hyde says to him with a sneer. Jekyll shrugs and says, “The security protocols are in place and working fine. I’m saving you for an emergency, Edward.” Hyde continues pacing and scoffs. He then stops in place and looks at Jekyll with a grin. “I know what this is about. You’re ready for another episode of the ‘Hank and Frank Show,’ so you and Doc Ardan can team-up again like old times. Don’t forget I was part of that, too… Hank.” Jekyll takes a deep breath and sighs, then stands up. He goes over to the chamber where Doc Ardan resides. Checking the console, he sees that Ardan is cancer free and the recovery time is almost complete.
Suddenly, two Yeti burst through the wall of the secret lab with damaged androids clinging to their fur. Finally, tearing the droids in half, they see Jekyll and charge towards him with a feral roar. Dr. Jekyll whips out a can of mace, spraying in the direction of the creatures. The two pause, choking on the mace and back away. He then leaps across the room and scrambles to grab a gun from the wall. “The sonic blaster should give these beasts a hard time.” Jekyll says firing at them. The creatures howl and scurry off in the opposite direction. Two more crawl through the hole in the wall and he fires at them, knocking them back outside.
“Emergency protocols! Code 765! Now!” Jekyll yells. A panel on the far wall opens and five more androids step from behind the wall and engage the Yeti. He rushes toward the regeneration chamber and starts to type into the console to release Doc Ardan. One of the creatures leaps over the androids and onto Jekyll, knocking him to the ground out of the reach of the blaster. “Give me the Heart… We can sense it here…” the creature utters through fetid breath, as Jekyll is overwhelmed by the attack. It grabs him around the throat, strangling the scientist. Jekyll’s adrenaline kicks into high gear and he says, “Hyde Out!” A moment later he bursts from his clothing, having transformed into Mr. Hyde. Hyde slams the Yeti into the side of the regeneration chamber repeatedly, damaging the creature and the machine. Sparks fly from the console and the chamber starts to vibrate. Hyde punches the creature and throws him across the room, crashing into the other Yeti and the androids. Hyde roars, then turns and tears the top off the regeneration chamber and throws it at the creatures. “Wake up, Ardan! It’s time to handle business!” Hyde says as he charges towards the beasts, plowing into the them and brawling. Doc Ardan springs from the chamber with a leap, looking at himself restored to his physical prime. His white hair is once again red and he dives towards his clothes, dressing quickly and picking up the sonic blaster Jekyll had left behind.
“Get back, Hyde!” Doc Ardan yells as he fires toward the ceiling, causing debris to crash down on the Yeti. Hyde dodges just in time and gives a monstrous laugh. “Just like old times!” Hyde says. “I guess they want your necklace!” Doc Ardan fires at each creature as they crawl from the rubble. “I don’t think I’ll need it anymore, since I feel like a kid again!” Ardan says, ducking behind a case and searching for other weapons. Hyde continues to fight the creatures, getting clawed, but eventually beating them down. All is silent for the moment until the alarm goes off again. Ardan and Hyde look at the view screen and see more Yeti coming. “We’ve got to get out of here or at least get this damned necklace out of here. There’s at least a dozen more coming!” Doc Ardan says, while finding a few grenades and tossing them out of the hole in the wall. As the explosions erupt outside, the roar of the creatures echo through the building. “If they’re drawn to me, then we take the chopper and make a stand elsewhere. Can you create a distraction while I get to the chopper outside?” Doc Ardan asks, as he pushes a large metal bookshelf in front of the hole in the wall. Hyde grins and shows him a hidden elevator. Before the two enter, Ardan loads up on guns and hi-tech weapons. Once on the roof, Hyde sees the Yeti climbing up the side of the building. He stands on the ledge and gives a thunderous clap toward the beasts below. The shock wave shatters the glass on the side of the building, which rains down on the creatures. Some fall off crashing onto the streets below, while others barely cling onto the wall. The chopper starts and Doc Ardan waves Hyde over to him. Once inside, the two take off from the roof, just as the remaining creatures reach the launchpad. As the chopper flies away, the remaining Yeti leap from rooftop to rooftop, trying to keep up with duo. As Ardan pilots, Hyde looks out and sees they are still following. He grabs one of the guns Ardan has and starts firing at them. Hyde continues firing, bringing down a couple more. “I should probably explain this whole thing. I liberated the talisman from a cave in the Canadian wilderness. Ever since I’ve worn the necklace, I felt strong and I’ve also had these things following me. I figured crossing into the U.S. would keep them off my tail, but I assume they’re drawn to the item. I’ve been killing these things here and there in self-defense, but they always seem to catch up. I’m sorry to have drawn you into this, man.” Doc Ardan says woefully, as he maneuvers through the city. Hyde sighs and says, “Well, I didn’t tell you I’m part of a secret society that runs the world from the shadows. Dracula, Professor Moriarty, Helen of Troy, Captain Nemo and the Bride of Frankenstein are a part of it. That’s how I got the company, I killed Ebeneezer Scrooge, one of the Six Emperors in ritual combat. I wasn’t going to tell you, but I figure since we’re being honest…” Doc Ardan shrugs and says, “That’s some serious company you keep. The Nyctalope and I foiled some of Captain Nemo’s plans in France years ago, but I only know the others by reputation. You know Frankenstein’s Monster runs with a biker gang? They’re all zombies, except for him. This world keeps getting darker and darker, my friend.”
Doc Ardan gets towards the outskirts of town and finds a wooded area to land at. He hops out of the chopper, placing the talisman under the seat and presses a red button on the console. He and Hyde get out, getting distance from the vehicle. The horde of creatures rush toward the chopper, ignoring the armed duo and converging where the talisman is. Doc Ardan whips out a detonator as they scramble around inside of the helicopter. He presses the button and the chopper detonates, destroying the talisman and all the Yeti that came to get it. The explosion rocks the area, shaking the ground and creating a column of fire that streaks off into the sky. Hyde shifts back down into Dr. Jekyll and the two scientists, high five each other and laugh. “The Hank and Frank Show, baby!” Doc Ardan says with a grin. The two start to walk through the woods, back towards civilization. “You think they’ll come after you for revenge?” Jekyll asks. Ardan says, “I doubt it. None of them lived to tell and they did get what they wanted in the end. There’s a ton of those things overseas, but not many in the States. Looks like I owe you for restoring my health, Henry. I’m not sure how I can ever repay that.” Jekyll stops and puts his hand on Doc Ardan’s shoulder. He replies, “There’s actually one thing… I could really use your scientific acumen at my company and it would be nice to have someone back me up, when needed. I’m a scientist, not a tycoon. Your genius and mine together could change the world!” Ardan pauses a moment and takes a long breath. He continues walking. Jekyll follows and says, “Well?” Doc Ardan takes a cigar from his pocket, puts it in his mouth and lights it. Taking a few puffs, he finally stops and says, “I’m in, kid. The world’s in bad shape and it would seem that it needs a doctor. In this case, two of them.” They wander off into the night, ready to take on the world.