Gargoyles, co-created by Greg Weisman, is the property of the Walt Disney Company.

Special thanks, as always, to Gryphinwrym7, Masterdramon, GregX and BookwyrmPendragon13 for providing beta-reading and feedback.

Nightstone Unlimited, Manhattan, August 18th 1998 A.D.

"The story is told, though who can say if it be true?" Shari spoke, casually popping a skinned grape into her mouth as alarm klaxons rang throughout the command center.

Thailog loomed over a table-top display of the building's interior. Eyes locked on the tiny red dot that was steadily making its way to the top floor.

Across the chamber, Brentwood sat before a bank of monitors; watching as one by one their feeds abruptly cut to static. "Shock Troopers Three, Five and Six go bye-bye!"

"Of Áine, a great lady of the Sidhe, who offered her love to a great lord among mortal men..." Shari continued nonchalantly.

"Goneril, Regan!" Thailog bellowed.

Two new clones, both sharing Thailog's own coloring but bearing an uncanny resemblance to Angela of the Manhattan Clan, leaped into action. They trained their particle rifles on the reinforced steel door that marked the hidden entrance to the command center.

The chamber echoed with the dull clunk of massive steel locks seemingly moving under their own power.

"Brentwood?" Thailog spoke calmly, only the slightest edge of annoyance in his voice.

"Brentwood not know, Master!" the clone exclaimed. "Can't override!"

"Only to be cruelly betrayed by the man she had loved," Shari concluded sadly.

The steel door slid back as a cloned Shock Trooper stumbled over the threshold, cybernetic implants sparking. Dozens of tiny, vaguely humanoid, shapes crawled all over the clone's body; biting flesh, scratching at armor and gnawing on wires.

The creatures' skin was the color and texture of dried bark. Twig-like arms and legs ended in claw-like brambles. One of the things looked up with eyes like green dew-drops, smiling through a mouth filled with scarlet thorns.

"Pistachio!" it chirped.

Goneril and Regan unleashed a barrage of particle fire. Again and again they fired, not stopping until Shock Trooper and creatures alike had been reduced to an unrecognizable smoking charred mass.

For one long moment, only tense silence filled the command center until...

"Curse and swear Lord Kildare, Fiach will do what Fiach will dare. Now FitzWilliam, have a care," a voice lilted through the smoke. "Fallen is your star, low..."

Its owner was a middle-aged human clad in a thick black overcoat. He stepped gingerly over the smoking remains of the clone, leaning on a slim black cane topped by a silver serpent head.

A low whine filled the command center as Goneril and Regan trained their particle rifles on the intruder's skull.

The invader slowly raised his hands. "In my defense," he spoke softly in a light Irish accent, smiling disarmingly through a short gray-yellow beard. "I did try to make an appointment."

Thailog's eyes burned a dull crimson. "I value my privacy deeply, Mr...?"

"Gerald FitzGerald, Lord Kildare, at your service," the stranger spoke, giving a short bow. "And believe me, I understand completely. Perhaps... we can discuss this over a drink?"

Thailog gave Goneril and Regan a silent nod, causing the two clones to cautiously lower their weapons. "Shari, I believe there's some single-malt whiskey in the liquor cabinet."

"On it, Mr. Thailog," she beamed brightly.

"Sorry about your man back there, by the way." FitzGerald spoke apologetically as he removed a pair of black leather gloves, revealing an iron ring inscribed with Celtic runes upon the fourth finger of his left hand.

"I can always make more." Thailog waved his talons dismissively, taking a seat as he gestured his guest to do likewise. "What brings you here, your Lordship?"

"A mutual acquaintance, I believe," the Irishman answered. "A rather spirited red head?"

"Ah..." Thailog sighed, steepling his talons. "I suppose the fact that you're even here means there's little point in denying it. So, you and Demona are what exactly... old rivals?"

"Old school chums," FitzGerald answered as Shari passed him a glass. "You?"

"Exes," the gargoyle shrugged, sipping his drink.

"Mr. Thailog..." FitzGerald whispered, slowly raising an eyebrow. "You're clearly a far more formidable man than I thought."

Thailog's only response was a slight smirk.

"At any rate," FitzGerald continued. "Over a year ago, Demona stole something very valuable to me; an ancient gigantic boar tusk. I've been trying to track it down ever since."

"Interesting..." the gargoyle mused.

"Mr. Thailog incinerated it," Shari interjected, pouring herself some water.

Thailog shot his assistant a glare. "Yes... I'm afraid Demona left me no choice."

"Well, that's disapp-" FitzGerald suddenly broke down into a violent coughing fit, holding a small handkerchief to his mouth. He drew it away, revealing a single drop of scarlet staining the white cloth.

"Perhaps," Thailog intoned. "I could interest you in some form of...compensation?"


National Museum of Ireland, Dublin, March 23rd 1999 A.D.

Rory Dugan's own reflection stared back at him from the polished surface of the glass display case. Within the case lay an almost complete set of ancient human bones, save for the missing skull and right hand.

Rory's eyes drifted to the small brass plate affixed to the bottom of the case...

Remains of first century Celtic warrior

Excavated near Liscoo, Co. Donegal

"What happened to the head?" Rory asked, turning to Molly as she began signing in ISL.

Maeve had it cut off and taken back to Connacht as trophy.

"Well, that's a cheery thought," Rory snarked.

Molly shrugged apologetically.

"No, it's all right," Rory replied. "I just thought being here might trigger... whatever happened last Christmas again. Instead it just feels weird, staring at me own bones."

The past is dead, Rory. Sometimes, it's best to just let it lie.


The museum guard looked up from her magazine as the metal detector at the entrance began shrieking in a series of high-pitched squeals. "Not again..." she sighed.

A couple of tourists, clad in long gray trench-coats stood by the entrance. One was a tall man wearing a patch over his right eye. The other was a brown-haired woman who's lips curled upward in a thin smile.

"Sorry 'bout that," the guard apologized. "The bloody thing acts up at least three times a day."

"Not at all," the tall man drawled in what sounded vaguely like an American accent. "Technology can be so... unreliable."

"Must be the metal plate in my head!" the smiling woman cackled uproariously, drawing the attention of several other patrons as the two proceeded deeper into the museum.

"Yanks," the guard swore before returning to her magazine.


After a long moment, Molly's hands began signing again.

Sunset's not long. We should get back to Barghest and your dad before-

"Top o' the morning to ya!" a harsh voice cackled.

Rory, Molly, and the rest of the museum's patrons turned towards the source; a woman casting aside a gray trench-coat, revealing her limbs to be coated in some kind of golden armored plating. Her lips contorted in a manic grin.

"Now, everyone hit the dirt!" the smiling woman shrieked as one of her limbs reconfigured into a particle weapon. She fired off a few random shots into the air, shattering the skylight above and raining countless tiny glass shards down on the now cowering crowd.

"Down!" Rory cried, using his own body to shield Molly as best he could.

A second golden-armored figure joined the woman, a tall man whose right eye had been replaced by a scarlet lens. "Hyena!" he hissed. "I thought we agreed to just case the joint?"

"What can I say, Jackal? I got bored," the woman called Hyena shrugged, before leveling her weapon directly at Molly and Rory. "Hey, lovebirds! Outta the way before I splatter ya everywhere! I just got my chassis waxed!"

Rory's first instinct was to reach for the yew-wood staff slung over his back, but one look at the dozen or so terrified bystanders ruled that out. He and Molly slowly edged out of the way of the marauding cyborgs.

The one called Jackal ripped the glass frame from the display case one-handed, setting off a cacophony of security alarms. He paid them no mind as he carefully placed the ancient bones within a foam lined metal case, one by one.

Rory's knuckles went white as he clenched his fists. It was all he could do to keep himself from jumping the creep.

"The toe bone connected to the heel bone, the heel bone connected to the foot bone..." Jackal hummed as he completed his task, snapping the case shut. "We're done here, sis."

"Afraid that's all we have time for, folks!" Hyena broke into a mad cackle, firing wildly in all directions as bystanders began to stampede. "Last one out is beef jerky!"

A moment later, rockets on the twin cyborgs' backs flared to life. They were swiftly carried out through the shattered skylight, mad laughter echoing in their wake.

In the ensuing chaos, no one but Rory noticed Molly ducking behind a large display or the night-black crow that emerged a moment later; a gold band wrapped tightly about its beak.


Phoenix Park, Dublin

Sean Dugan flipped through his paper absentmindedly as the red-gold light of sunset filtered through the trees. The massive stone form of a monstrous hound sat attentively by his bench, as though guarding the Ulsterman.

Sean's ears perked up at the sound of approaching footfalls, but otherwise he gave no reaction as a female jogger turned the corner.

"You know..." she huffed, jogging in place. "I've ran... this route... over five years... I never noticed that... statue before?"

Sean grunted something monosyllabic, barely looking up from his paper.

"I guess... this park's just... full of surprises," the jogger panted.

Sean grunted again, flipping another page.

The jogger shook her head before continuing on her way.

Sean peered over his paper to make sure she was out of sight. What was it about southerners that made them want to strike up a conversation with every random stranger they bumped into?

His son had always been the same way. Rory could walk up to someone out of nowhere and in five minutes, the two would be laughing and joking like they'd been friends for years. The elder Dugan didn't know where the lad got it from.

No, that was a lie. Sean knew exactly where, or rather who, the lad got it from.

"DA!" a voice rang out, mercifully breaking Sean's train of thought. He turned to see his son running up the footpath.

"Rory!?" Sean exclaimed. "Where's Molly?"

"That's... a long story," Rory panted, bending over as he caught his breath.

As the sun dipped below the Dublin skyline, cracks began creeping along the stone skin of the monstrous hound. Its eyes flashed bright crimson as it cast off its stone skin with a night piercing howl, revealing coal-black skin beneath.

Within the blink of an eye, the beast pounced; pinning Rory to the grass before slobbering joyously all over his face.

"Blaaagh... down girl!" Rory groaned, gently shoving the beast off. "We got work to do."


Dublin Port

"This is Kate Reed of Dalriada Broadcasting reporting from the National Museum of Ireland; the site of a brazen daylight robbery only a few short hours ago!" the young dark-skinned reporter exposited from a glowing screen.

"Descriptions of the thieves match those of the American criminals known only as Jackal and Hyena; former television stars turned international fugitives." The screen transitioned from an old publicity still of the twins locked in mock combat with a band of scarlet clad 'ninjas' to a pair of grainy mugshots.

"See?" Jackal drawled, flicking off the TV.

"Hey! I was watching that!" Hyena snapped.

"Thanks to your... impetuousness, dear sister, everyone on this god-forsaken rock is going to be looking for us!"

"Would you relax? They don't even let the cops here pack heat! What are they gonna do, throw their batons at us?" Hyena cackled, skinning an apple with razor-sharp metallic claws. "No gargoyles, no Dingo and his do-gooder friends... I could get used to jolly ol' Oirland!"

"Personally, I'd rather settle down somewhere where it doesn't rain three hundred and fifty days of the-" Jackal was cut off by a loud ping coming from the corner of the old warehouse, where a slim laptop lay on an old crate.

"That who I think it is?" Hyena inquired.

"Indeed," Jackal mused, reading through the new email. "It appears our employer wants to set up a meet, face to face."

"About time," Hyena said, leaning over her brother's shoulder. "When and where?"

Neither cyborg noticed the black crow that sat in the warehouse's rafters, watching them with glinting bright yellow eyes. Eyes brighter than even the golden band wrapped around its beak.


Rory paced up and down the shadowed alley. "She's been too long... we should do something?"

Barghest watched him, the beast's webbed ears drooping as she whined with concern. Rory had been the first living thing she had seen upon hatching barely a year ago and in all her life, she'd never seen him like this.

"That's it," Rory decided. "I'm going in!"

Before he could storm the warehouse, a crow fluttered out of the black sky. Eldritch light enveloped the avian as it came in for a landing, resuming the form of Molly.

"Are they in there?" Rory blurted.

Molly nodded.

"Fine, then lets go in there and bust their-" Rory began before Molly restrained him. Her hands began signing.

We have to wait. They're planning to meet someone.

"I don't care!" Rory snapped.

Keep it down. What's gotten into you?

"I... I don't know, it's just," Rory's shoulders fell. "Seeing those two maniacs make off with Cú Chulainn's bones... my bones felt... violating. God, that sounds insane, doesn't it?"

Molly's eyes softened as they met his, her hands moved slowly in response.

No... it doesn't. But we need to know who wants Cú's bones so badly and why.

"You're right," Rory sighed. "So, where do they plan on meeting Mr. Mystery?"


Kilkea Castle Hotel, Co. Kildare

The silver light of a full moon filtered through a thin mist, shining down on the grim wrought-iron gates. A simple wooden sign hung from the metal bars...


In the dead of night, no human eyes saw as a black sedan pulled up to the gates. The darkened windows rolled down, revealing Jackal's leering face as he reached to press the gate's intercom.

A security camera affixed to a stone pillar swiveled in his direction as a static tinged voice spoke. "Yes?"

"Setanta sent me," Jackal answered.

The gates pulled back with a pained metallic creak as the black sedan continued up the gravel path, finally coming to a stop before a looming medieval castle.

"Swaaanky," Hyena whistled, stepping out of the sedan's passenger seat.

"Just let me do the talking, sis," Jackal hissed. "These are aristocrats; well-bred, refined, genteel."

"You saying I can't be genteel?" Hyena barked, before thinking a moment. "Okay, fair point."


Both twins turned in the direction of the castle's portcullis. There stood a young, olive-skinned girl no older than eighteen or nineteen; blonde hair cropped short and clad in a simple black business suit.

"Lord Kildare will see you now," she intoned.


Jackal and Hyena's metallic footsteps echoed through the castle's empty corridors as they followed the young woman deeper into the fortress.

"Charming place you have here," Jackal mused. "If you don't mind my saying?"

"I'm afraid our family sold Castle Kilkea back in the sixties," the girl intoned flatly. "But father likes to visit every few years or so... for old times' sake."

For a moment, Hyena thought she caught something in the corner of her vision; tiny green eyes that glittered like dew-drops. In the split second it took to turn her head, they were already gone; leaving only a faint tittering.

"It's just the brownies," the girl answered Hyena's unspoken question. "Pay them no mind." She pushed open a pair of heavy oaken doors to reveal a sumptuous dining hall awash with a warm orange glow.

Before a roaring fireplace stood a tall man clad in a heavy black overcoat. His back was turned to the arrivals as he leaned upon a slim black cane topped by a silver serpent's head.

"May I present Gerald FitzGerald," the girl announced. "Earl of Desmond and Lord Kildare."

"Thank you for that marvelous introduction, Geraldine." FitzGerald turned, revealing a haggard ashen face. "Now go wait in the hall, this is grown-up business."

The girl opened her mouth as though to protest before thinking better of it. "Yes, father."

The elder FitzGerald smiled warmly through a short grey-yellow beard, gesturing to a fully stocked banqueting table. "Please, sit. Eat and drink your fill. I detest doing business on an empty stomach."

"I like your style, old man," Hyena cackled, savagely tearing a drumstick from a roast turkey before ripping a strip of meat from it with her bare teeth.

"What my sister means to say," Jackal began, shooting Hyena a glare. "Is that we'd be honored, your Lordship"

"I take it you've brought the merchandise?" FitzGerald inquired.

"Naturally," Jackal answered, brandishing the metal case.

"I'll have to inspect it, you understand? I'm afraid I've been disappointed too many times before."

"By all means," Jackal placed the case on the table, unlocking the latch. "Though frankly, one set of old bones looks much the same as another to me."

"You'd be surprised," FitzGerald smirked, gently lifting a finger bone from the foam padding.

He carefully used a small knife to shave a few flakes of bone onto a pure white napkin. Next, the Irish lord drew a vial of some brown-reddish liquid from his coat pocket.

"What's that?" asked Hyena through a mouthful of turkey meat.

"Iron oxide suspended in alchemically treated water," FitzGerald responded before pouring the bone flakes into the vial. He watched the contents with desperate anticipation, gently swirling the glass.

After one agonizing moment, the red-brown liquid began emitting a soft golden glow.

"Yes... YES!" FitzGerald yelled, leaping to his feet. "I'd almost given up hope!"

"I take it you're satisfied then?" Jackal interjected.

"Yes... yes, of course. Geraldine will see to your pay-" FitzGerald froze as his eyes passed over the window across the room.

Perched amid the branches just beyond the glass, sat a night-black crow with a golden band wrapped around its beak. It's wings began beating frantically as it realized it had been spotted.

With a single viper-like motion, FitzGerald drew the silver serpent head from his cane as though unsheathing a sword. Yet instead of a metal blade, it revealed a short rod of gnarled ancient oak.

"Tar tintreach!" FitzGerald bellowed as a bolt of emerald lightning shot from the tip of his wand, shattering the window and sending his guests diving for cover.

"Father!" Geraldine yelled as she burst into the room. "Are you alright? I heard-"

FitzGerald silenced her with a gesture, turning his attention back to Jackal and Hyena. "How would you two like to double your pay?"

"We're listening..." Jackal spoke, dusting himself off.

"Sweep the castle grounds," FitzGerald snarled. "And kill every last man, woman or beast you find."


The crow came in for a landing in the wooded undergrowth surrounding the castle, where Rory and Barghest lay in wait. Molly resumed her human form with a flash of blue light, signing frantically.

I was spotted.

"Dammit," Rory swore. "Alright, we need to keep moving and-"

He was cut off by a barrage of particle fire raining down on the trees from above.

"Scatter!" Rory yelled as he, Molly and Barghest took flight deeper into the woods.


Hyena touched down in a grassy clearing. She upped the gain on the audio receptors implanted in her ears, until she could hear the echo of every rustling leaf.

Somewhere behind her, a boot squeaked softly.

Hyena's upper body spun a whole 180 as her arms extended telescopically, allowing her robotic fingers to grip tightly about the throat of her would-be stalker.

"Gotcha!" Hyena cackled, lifting the pink-haired girl to eye-height. "So, what's your deal?"

The pink-haired girl didn't let out so much as a whimper, struggling against the cyborg's grip.

"Fine," Hyena shrugged, extending the claws on her free hand. "I don't really care anyway."

Before Hyena could deliver the killing-blow, she was blinded by a bright blue flash. Next thing she knew, the pink-haired girl was gone only to be replaced by a violently trashing gray she-wolf in a golden bladed muzzle.

"GAAGH!" Hyena shrieked, tossing the animal across the clearing. It hit ground with a soft thud before leaping to its feet and diving into the undergrowth with whip-like speed.

"Nice trick, wouldn't mind being able to do that myself," Hyena rasped. "But a chick that turns into animals doesn't even make the top three weirdest things I've seen, girlie!"

Hyena's hand reconfigured into a particle weapon as she began firing wildly into the foliage, starting half a dozen small fires.

Another blue flash and a night-black crow burst from among the leaves, raking Hyena's face with its talons as it took to the air.

Hyena's hand reached to her bloodied face, she watched the crow circle the full moon before swooping to dive-bomb the cyborg.

"Come on, you stupid bird!" Hyena shrieked, claws fully extended. "Take your best shot!"

Blue light enveloped the crow as it morphed into the form of a giant white heifer mere feet above Hyena.



Jackal swooped again over the wooded grounds, his cybernetic eye shifted into infra-red as he surveyed the landscape below. "Where are you hiding, you little-"

Out of nowhere, something like a shaft of shimmering golden light whooshed by, mere inches from Jackal's face. His neck craned as he watched the strange glowing projectile turn in mid-air before fly back in the direction it had come.

"Well... that's different," Jackal mused.

Standing in the open green lawn by the castle, was a tall muscular figure clad in little more than a flowing red cloak and bronze helm. The shaft of glowing light flew into the warrior's hand, where he grasped it as though it was a solid object.

"Nice outfit," Jackal drawled as he touched down on the green. "Shouldn't you be running away?"

"I'm here to challenge you to single combat!" the warrior bellowed imperiously.

"You can't be serious?" Jackal scoffed.

"If I win, you return what you stole," the warrior snarled in annoyance.

Jackal cocked an eyebrow. "And if I win?"

"You get my head," the warrior answered flatly.

"Hmm... sounds fair," Jackal chuckled darkly, flashing his claws. "Come on, then."


From atop the castle battlements, FitzGerald watched the two combatants lunge at each other. A small brownie perched on his shoulder, gnawing upon a bare turkey bone.

He watched as Jackal slashed again and again, only for each blow to be expertly parried by the mysterious warrior's shining spear.

"Gáe Bolga...?" He whispered in awe.

"Father, shouldn't we get you away from here?" Geraldine interjected. "We have what we came for."

"Flee in the face of the enemy?" FitzGerald asked indignantly. "No true FitzGerald would even countenance such a thing."

Geraldine bit her lip, falling silent.

"At least..." FitzGerald mused, turning his attention back to the duel below. "Not without gaining the foe's measure first."

He drew his oak wand and whispered "Rian", inscribing a glowing green Ogham rune upon the bottom of the metal case.


Jackal was sent sprawling to the ground as his foe took the legs out from under him with a sweeping kick. A split-second later, the glowing spear-tip was at his throat.

"Where. Are. The bones?" the warrior snarled.

"In the castle," Jackal panted. "The old man has them."

"Don't let me catch you on my island again," the warrior spat, turning his back to stomp towards the castle.

"Bad move," Jackal whispered before pouncing. His claws tore five bloody gashes across the flesh of his enemy's back.

The warrior swore in a language Jackal didn't understand as he fell to his knees.

"Real bad move," Jackal drawled, raising his claws to deliver the death-blow.

Next thing Jackal knew, something coal-black with blazing red eyes leaped from the shadows. Its gleaming fangs chomped down on the cyborg's arm before wrenching the limb clean off.

"Not again!?" Jackal shrieked as he staggered backwards, sparking wires dangling from his shoulder socket.

An immense gargoyle beast growled low as it stalked toward Jackal, worrying the cybernetic arm like an old bone.

"How many of you freaks are there?" Jackal shrieked again, eyes agog. He was so stunned that he failed to notice the warrior's fist flying towards his face.


Cú Chulainn flexed his fingers before reaching down to scratch behind Barghest's ears. "Good girl."

Warrior and beast both suddenly turned in the direction of a rustling bush, spear raised and fangs bared.

A moment later, Molly emerged dragging an unconscious Hyena behind her.

"You know," Cú mused. "We've fought terrorists, shape-shifters, crazed cultists and even a resurrected Fionn Mac Cumhaill; but I'm pretty sure these are our first full blown super-villains, with costumes and code-names and everything, I think we're finally starting to get the hang of-"

"Tar tintreach!" a voice bellowed as a bolt of emerald lightning fell from the sky; sending Cú, Molly and Barghest flying across the grass.

Cú groaned, staggering unsteadily to his feet. His ears rang as he watched two figures stride out of the smoke.

A haggard looking man clad in a heavy black overcoat, accompanied by a young woman around Rory's age. In one hand; the old man held a black cane topped by a silver serpent head, in the other; a metal case.

"An impressive show," the haggard man chuckled softly. "And who might you be, young man?"

"I am Cú Chulainn, Hero of Ulster," the warrior's eyes narrowed dangerously. "And you have something that belongs to me!"

"Cú Chulainn...?" The haggard man whispered. His face gaped in incredulity for a moment, before twisting into a satisfied leer. "Fair enough."

"Father, what-" the girl began before being cut off.

"Catch," the haggard man yelled, tossing the metal case to Cú. "No hard feelings, lad?"

"Wait?" Cú stammered. "Who are you? What was all this-"

"A story for another night, lad..." The haggard man raised his cane to the sky. "Ceo cheilt orainn!"

Cú shielded his eyes as a thick swirling mist covered the field, making it impossible to see anything. By the time it cleared, both the haggard man and the girl were gone, along with Jackal and Hyena.

Cú struck Gáe Bolga against the ground, reverting back to the mortal form of Rory Dugan. Molly knelt beside him, signing.

Is that...?

"Only one way to find out," Rory sighed, lifting the lid of the case to reveal dozens of ancient bones packed tightly in the soft foam.

Barghest sniffed the bones cautiously, looking back between them and Rory in confusion.

We can take them back to the museum in the morning.

"Yeah, about that," Rory's brows wrinkled. "I was thinking..."


Cairn na Chullain, Liscoo, Co. Donegal, March 24th

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Sean Dugan asked, raising a skeptical brow as he surveyed the ancient bones laid out upon the stone slab in the very heart of the cairn.

"Yeah, I'm sure," Rory spoke, bending down to pat Barghest's stone form. "I mean... they are my bones, right?"

The elder Dugan raised his second brow thoughtfully. "Hard to argue with that, I suppose."

Molly signed...

Rory is right. Taking Cú's bones from this place was a mistake.

"I just wish I knew what that creepy old wizard wanted with them," Rory sighed. "Or why he gave them up with barely any fight."


Nightstone Unlimited, Paris Office

The steel doors of the industrial elevator drew back as FitzGerald and his daughter stepped into a high-tech subterranean lab. A dark grey-blue gargoyle, clad in silver armor, turned to greet them.

"Ah, Lord and Lady Kildare," Thailog smiled. "Welcome to our Paris branch. Not quite as expansive as our Manhattan office I'll admit, but it should serve your needs."

"I've no doubt, Mr. Thailog," FitzGerald replied. "I'm looking forward to finally meeting this virtuoso of yours."

"By all means," Thailog chuckled, gesturing to a fourth figure who stepped out of the shadows. "Lord Kildare, may I present the greatest geneticist on the planet... Dr. Anton Sevarius!"

"At your service, milord and lady," the red-haired scientist drawled, giving an exaggerated courtly bow. "I understand you have some rather interesting osseous samples for me."

"Oh... I have something far better than that, Doctor." FitzGerald turned to his daughter. "Geraldine."

The girl stepped forward, holding open a metal case containing a severed cybernetic forearm. Its golden claws were stained blackish-red with dried blood.

"Oh my, yes..." Sevarius grinned, practically salivating. "We can have great fun with this."

To be Continued...