Gargoyles – The Island – Episode I: Cytosine

Disclaimer: In case you haven't figured it out yet, I don't own Gargoyles. All Gargoyles-related characters, settings, etc. are the intellectual property of Disney, Greg Weisman, and Frank Paur.


The University of Oxford, Oxford, England

July 6, 1976 A.D.

"I'll be blunt, Anton," said the head of the doctoral committee. "We are not accepting this dissertation. The only question is whether to reject it under the grounds of being a spectacular flight of fancy…or, on the off-chance you're actually serious about this, for disregarding even the most fundamental ethical considerations."

Graduate student Anton Sevarius, dressed in a suit and tie so ill-fitting on him they looked like a skin he couldn't wait to shed, quietly seethed in his chair.

"I won't speak to the 'ethics' of the matter," he rumbled, tossing off the word as it was a vile curse. "But I assure you, my proposals are firmly grounded in reality. With just a little bit more funding I could…"

"Reality? The reality of science fiction, perhaps," another member, his own undergraduate biology professor, cut him off. "Look, Anton…I like you. You're undeniably brilliant. But for as long as we've known each other, your head's been in the clouds. And not the most pleasant of clouds, either."

"A century ago, airplanes, television, and the cure for polio were also science fiction," replied Anton haughtily. "And my work dwarfs those discoveries by a factor incalculable."

The third member of the committee, a woman a fair bit younger than her fellows, looked on thoughtfully at this exchange, but didn't say anything.

Instead, the head spoke up again, waving a hand dismissively. "Enough of this tripe," he said. "We have eight other candidates to get through today. I'm not wasting any more time on this lunatic."

"Now, Milton," cautioned the second man. "Don't you think that's a little har…"

But he was interrupted as Anton abruptly leapt to his feet, sending his chair clattering to the ground.

"How dare you? How dare you?!" he demanded, jabbing an accusatory finger in the committee head's face. "You feeble, insignificant, decrepit little peons. Throw your gray matter together in a blender and hit frappé, and you still wouldn't measure up to a single percent of my brainpower! You know how they say, 'those who can't do, teach'? Well it appears that aphorism needs some work, because clearly you three can't do either!"

The committee was speechless as Anton came down from his rant, his shoulders rising and falling with each, heavy breath.

Then, his hands folded together, the committee head calmly leaned forward.

"Might I suggest, Anton…" he told the student, his voice level. "A change in majors. Clearly, the theatre is where your true talents lie."

And with that, he quietly shoved the entire dissertation off the desk between them.

Thousands of pages fell to Anton's feet in a cascading heap. His meticulously crafted notes and charts were strewn about the floor, jumbled utterly out of order. Finally, drifting down with almost comical slowness, the title page landed on top of it all.

On the Refinement of Techniques for Accomplishing Radical Cellular Alteration through Vivisection, by Way of Recent Advances in the Engineering of Genetic Code

"I…I see…" said Anton, kneeling down to begin the long, laborious process of reassembling his masterwork. "So it seems you reduce me to yet another cliché. The brilliant visionary, shunned by lesser minds, unable to appreciate his genius. Socrates, Galileo…I suppose I should be proud to add the name 'Sevarius' to such an esteemed list."

The two men on the committee, however, weren't listening to his muttered invective. Indeed, they'd already left the room.

Anton continued on for several moments, before he was surprised to see a stack of papers being offered to him.

"I believe these are in the correct order," declared the final committee member, a brunette woman in a lab coat. She was also on her knees. "And quite fascinating, to boot."

"Really, now?" he asked, raising a skeptical eyebrow. "Then was there a reason you didn't say that during my defense?"

"It wouldn't have done any good, I'm afraid," she responded with a shake of her head. "Besides, I don't necessarily disagree with their points. Your work is fanciful, as well as…dubious, at best, in the ethical department. And, putting that aside…it is also fascinating."

"As if it's possible to revolutionize the world without an appetite for drama, or a rejection of such small-minded constraints," said Anton. "You know, the notes I used as a basis have been sitting there in the library, untouched, for over half a century. Damned fools. As if being associated with Oxford's most infamous expulsion makes his papers somehow contagious."

"An interesting perspective," she remarked, as they continued to pick up pages. "Given what he's most famous for today."

The graduate student made a scoffing noise with his tongue.

"A meaningless, fantastic screed. No more accurate than Stoker's account of Vlad III," he tossed off, lip curled. "Clearly, Wells read the same notes. And then, knowing nothing of biology himself, he imagined a scenario in which they were realized to an utterly impossible extent. His hypotheses were sound – as a baseline. But his crude methodologies would've killed any subject long before he reached that point."

"And you believe you are capable of bridging that gap?" she murmured coolly. "With cutting-edge genetics?"

"That, and about half a billion pounds," answered Anton. "You know, give or take. Money holds little value to me for its own sake, but the avenues of research available without it are…limited."

"I suppose that is the case. At least in the present era," she said, a strange distance to her tone. Not for the first time, he got the distinct sense there was a great deal this woman wasn't telling him. "Well, if that's all you require…I may have some suggestions."

She fished a business card from her pocket, and handed it over with another thick stack of documents.

"My husband and I are…taking something of a break, at the moment. But I know he's presently recruiting for talent," she continued on. "Perhaps you'll find better fortune in America. Land of opportunity, as they say. I'm sure you can find a university there willing to help you finish your doctorate. And after that…"

She tapped the face of the card with one finger, and whispered, "Consider giving us a call."

Anton looked upon the card, and the woman, for several moments. Then, his mouth broke out into a grin – though it could perhaps better be described as a leer.

"Enchanté, Madame Renard," he told her, with a bowed head of respect. "I think this might well be the start of a beautiful relationship."

"Please," she said, as she handed him the last few pages of his dissertation, and then rose to her feet with an almost queenly grace. "Call me Anastasia."


The Labyrinth, New York City, United States

June 7, 1997 A.D.

"Appreciate you being here for me and Derek, big guy," muttered Elisa Maza, as the two of them made their way through the winding tunnels of Cyberbiotics' abandoned underground base. "Particularly given the, erm…history you two have."

"Your clan is about to welcome a new life into its ranks, Elisa," replied Goliath, just as quietly. "That makes the child clan with us as well. I would not miss this for any reason."

"I think Derek and Maggie'll appreciate that," she said. "Family…always makes these things easier."

A few seconds later, the pair entered one of the larger chambers of the Labyrinth proper, a former research station converted into dwelling space for about two hundred homeless.

Several of the longer-term residents, who were rather used to neighbors with wings at this point, offered friendly waves. Elisa and Goliath returned them, if a bit awkwardly in the latter case.

"I can never be certain whether I am performing these gestures properly," he confided in her, as his broad arm fell back to his side. "In some ways, I welcome how adept humans of this era have become at non-verbal communication. But the various facets can get…confusing."

"It's something you just get used to, I think," spoke Elisa's voice, though it did not come from her. Instead, a hybrid-gargoyle stepped away from a crowd playing poker, providing her own brisk wave. "Certainly has its advantages with Malibu and the others. For one thing, you don't have to worry about verbs."

"Delilah. It is good to see you," said Goliath, clasping her in a very brief warrior's handshake.

Elisa also shook the clone's claw, though their contact was even shorter. While she tried not to show it, there probably would never be a time in which interacting with Delilah wasn't at least a little uncomfortable.

"I expect you two are here for Talon," the clone continued on, her tones clipped and businesslike, though not unfriendly. "You'll want the passageway back there, third door on the right. Cyberbiotics had an old med-bay we were able to retrofit."

"Thanks," responded Elisa, her eyes following the arc of Delilah's outstretched talon. Then, trying to be casual, she gestured toward the mix of humans and cloned gargoyles playing cards. "How's the game going, by the way?"

Delilah made a face halfway between a grin and a grimace. "Depends on how you look at it," she told the policewoman. "Burbank in particular seems to have a real knack for these things, but…"

She was interrupted by the bearded clone proudly proclaiming, "Burbank have four crown-men. That good hand!"

All the surrounding humans immediately groaned and folded.

Elisa chuckled. "I'm sure he'll get the hang of a proper poker face eventually," she said. "Anyway, it was nice catching up, but we should go check in on the parents-to-be."

"Let Boss-Cat know we're here if he needs anything!" called out Al, who was looking very grateful he'd sat out the last pot. "I got a bunch of ice and towels from the surface a few hours ago, but if she's starting to run low…"

There was a general chatter of assent among the gathered homeless, many of them quite enthusiastically.

Both Elisa and Goliath nodded their gratitude. As they proceeded toward the door Delilah had indicated, the purple gargoyle whispered, "It really is quite…gratifying. To see how they rally around your brother. He truly has grown into an exceptional clan leader."

"He gives them hope. A lot of these people haven't had that in a long time," she explained. "He and Maggie starting a family, even after everything that happened to them…that means something to these guys. And hey – human or gargoyle, rich or poor, everyone gets excited for a new baby."

As they neared their destination, Elisa had to stop short to avoid being bowled over by a man in a heavy trench coat, scarf hiding most of his face. He coughed out a quick, gravelly apology, then continued on as if nothing had happened.

"Well…almost everyone," she added with a shrug.


They immediately knew they had the right door when they saw Claw standing outside of it, holding vigil with his zapping arm at the ready. Derek clearly wasn't taking any chances on this night…and given the Labyrinth's recent history, Elisa couldn't honestly blame him.

Still, the mutate visibly relaxed when he saw who was approaching. He grinned toothily and flashed two big thumbs-up – which, given his tiger-like face, was probably intended to look a lot less scary than it came off.

"Hey, Claw," said Elisa, returning the thumbs-up. "Ready to be an honorary uncle?"

Claw nodded eagerly, miming swathing a baby in his heavily muscled arms. The detective was struck again by just how dramatically the impending birth seemed to have impacted the atmosphere down here. Nowhere was that more apparent than with the mute mutate, who looked more cheerful now than she'd ever seen him.

After Claw and Goliath clasped arms, the tiger-like mutate opened the door for them, exposing a small medical lab hastily converted into a birthing suite. Three other mutates were in the room, and all raised their arms in greeting – though one, understandably, a bit weakly.

"Sis! God, I'm glad you could make it. And you too, big guy," exclaimed Talon, though he didn't get up from his seat at the bedside. Once of his hands was laced tightly around Maggie's. "I was beginning to think none of the fam would be here for this."

"Bad timing all around," replied his sister, commiserating as she placed a hand on his shoulder. "Water just had to break when dad was visiting Beth in Phoenix, and mom was attending that conference in Prague. They're all flying in right now, of course, but…"

"But they're not going to make it in time. I know, it's fine," Maggie interjected, her breathing just a bit heavier than normal. "It's not like any of us could've predicted this. I'm four weeks early."

"Doc Shirakawa thinks the mutation might've affected the gestation period. But far as her tests have shown, the baby itself is healthy," Talon told them, though it was clear from his tone – and by the rings around his eyes – that he'd only fully believe that once the child was in his arms. "She's the OB Sato recommended. Al gave her office a call from a topside payphone, and she said she's on her way."

"And in the meantime," said Thug, who was setting up an oxygen tank with shocking dexterity, given his scaled fingers. "I'm pitchin' in best I can."

He must've caught the look of surprise on her face, because he then added, "Hey, don't let this handsome mug fool ya. I was actually a med student before, y'know…all this. Then I defaulted on my student loans, wound up on the streets, an'…"

The mutate let out a long, heavy sigh – which, given the size of his jaws, made for quite a sight.

"Well, I think ya get the picture," he finished, his voice light and casual once more. "Obviously I'm not licensed ta practice, but hopefully I can hold things together till the real doc arrives."

"And we appreciate it, Thug," stated Maggie warmly. "Thank you all for being here. It'd be…a lot more difficult, otherwise."

"Are there no members of…your own clan…able to join you here?" asked Goliath, trying to phrase the question delicately.

Unfortunately, the darkening of her expression was answer enough.

"The only family I have left is my mom, back in Ohio," she responded. "We…didn't exactly part on the best of terms. She has no idea what…what happened to me. And I want it to stay that way."

A heavy silence fell over the room for several moments. It was broken only when a muffled voice cried out, "Yeah! I just totally skadooshed you, Erin!"

"That's not a word, Benny," said a slightly older, but still young voice. "Anyway, c'mon. Best two out of three."

"Oh yeah. Now that you're here, E…" murmured Thug, taking Elisa aside. "Mind if ya help me watch the tykes? I've got 'em in the other room there, playin' Space Whackos. But I could concentrate a lot more on Maggie's condition if I knew ya had an eye on the kids."

She let herself be led by the crocodile mutate over to a side room, where a glass window in the door allowed her a clear view of two more, much smaller mutates. They were hunched over an old television and a video game console, controllers held awkwardly in their altered hands.

"You've even got video games down here? Wow," she commented, impressed.

"Ya wouldn't believe what people jus' throw away in New York every day," he explained. "The TV's an antique, but the PlayStation's practically bran' new. Not that I'm complainin'. Those two…they deserve all the distractions they can get."

She'd heard, secondhand, that Sevarius' latest batch of mutates had included two young children, but she'd never had a chance to meet them before now. A surge of even greater hatred for the amoral geneticist bubbled up inside her.

"You take care of them?" she asked, voice soft.

Thug shrugged his reptilian shoulders. "Not like anybody else will," he said. "Never seen hide or hair o' the parents. They say their dad's a truck driver, but the bum definitely ain't here. Before the mutation, Tasha was kinda keepin' an eye on 'em, but…"

He looked askance, as if he'd mentioned something he shouldn't have.

"Anyway…" he went on, after a noticeable pause. "Mos' people down here aren't all that judgey, but…well, Benny especially. People dunno how ta react ta 'em. It's hard ta look at all that armor, an' still see the kids underneath. Obviously…it's easier for me than most."

Elisa looked on through the glass as they started up another round, unable to think of anything to say except, "They're lucky to have you, Thug."

Immediately after, however, she grimaced. "Sorry…is there anything else I can call you?" muttered the detective. "It's, err…kind of…"

Thug just chuckled. "Yeah, I know it's not the best o' nicknames," he admitted. "But it's what I looked like before I 'scaled up.' Back in the day, had a lotta fun playin' up the stereotype, jus' to send it crashin' down once I started talkin' medicine. And now…hey. All the other mutates have cool, one-word superhero names. 'Thug' works good as any."

But then, what was unmistakably a smile spread over his massive jaws, and he held out a hand.

"Still, if ya want a proper introduction…" he said, voice deep and rumbling but also incredibly gentle. "Then it's Richard. Richard K. Michaels."

She took his scaly hand firmly. "Nice to meet you, Richard," she told him, meaning every word.

Having been a policewoman all her adult life, Elisa liked to think her instincts were just a bit sharper than the average joe's. There was a part of her, deep in the subconscious, that had an innate sense for when something wasn't right.

So by the time Goliath was shouting "Elisa!" her head was already turning toward the door, where the source of the clan leader's alarm became immediately obvious.

Some kind of gas was leaking into the med-bay, its hue a nasty green. After a beat, Elisa was even pretty sure she recognized it: the same kind Thailog had once used, capable of knocking out humans and gargoyles alike.

"Everyone, get away from the door!" she called out. "Derek, try to help Maggie up if you can!"

But it was too late. The gas, seeping through the cracks of the door, was already spreading too fast. She covered her mouth with her hand, and the others hastily did the same, but it wasn't enough.

Soon enough, her vision of the room began to sway.

Then, abruptly, the door was flung open. Claw fell to the ground from the other side, already unconscious.

And, framed in the doorway, stood a very familiar figure, bedecked in a white lab coat and wearing a gas mask over half his face.

"Well, well, well!" said Anton Sevarius, his voice alight with sick glee. "Isn't this the veritable smorgasbord of test subjects, old and new alike? Really, is there a single individual in this room whose DNA I haven't taken under a microscope?"

"S…Sevarius…!" growled Goliath, his eyes burning white. But the gas already had him down on one knee, and the other was wobbling dangerously.

"Really, I'm hurt not to have been invited. Two of my creations, coming together to produce progeny of their own? This may well be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!" he continued on, clearly relishing the chance to ham it up. "Why, from a certain point of view, you could call me this child's grandfather! And papa's got a few gifts for the little sunspot."

A syringe emerged from the mad doctor's pocket, which he casually flicked a few times with his finger.

On the ground, kneeling by his unconscious mate and mere seconds from collapse himself, Talon's eyes went wide.

"You…You bastard!" he roared.

"Well, hopefully that particular avenue won't be necessary," he said, ignoring the insult entirely. "But honestly, Derek, this was all quite foolish of you. I'll be blunt: I didn't design your new forms for procreation. It wasn't one of the client's parameters. So this child…it's a genetic roll of the dice, really. They could be fully human, or some blending of your mutated traits. Frankly, there's a better than normal chance they'll come out stillborn."

He knelt down by the panther-mutate, knowing he was unable to harm him.

"You need me, if you want your offspring to live a healthy life," he told Talon. "But don't worry. Once mummy dearest has been transferred back to my lab, I'll take very good care of them both."

Elisa, who'd been farthest from the gas when it started, was now the only one standing on both feet. As they finally began to give way, she chanced a final, woozy look around the room.

Maggie had been the first one to succumb completely – her bodily systems already so compromised – and now Derek had joined her. Goliath was still struggling valiantly to get back up, but it was no use.

To her side, Thug was trying to do the same, but his unique mutation meant covering his mouth was all but impossible. She managed to turn her head far enough back to peer into the side-room; to her horror, the gas had leaked in there as well, and both children were already out cold.

"Shoulda known…you'd live up…another cliché…" she mumbled, as the last ounce of strength left her, and she fell to the ground. "Shoulda decked…mysterious-guy-in-trench-coat…when I had the chance…"

"Trench coat? My dear, you wound me," said Sevarius, placing a hand to his chest in mock-offense. "That was the disguise I used when I was 'Fred.' And no proper thespian reuses a performance wholesale. Tonight's was a birthday clown costume I'm actually quite proud of, thank you very much."

And with that, a pair of burly arms seized him from behind, yanking away his gas mask in one, rigid motion.

The source of the arms wasn't clear, covered as they were by the trench coat in question. But one thing was for certain about their hands: they weren't human.

Sevarius took in a sharp gasp at this observation, which of course was a mistake. Within moments he was tumbling forward into a cloud of his own, specially designed gas.

The eyes of Elisa Maza and Anton Sevarius both closed at the same time, and then everything went black.



June 8, 1997 A.D.

As the sun set down upon the horizon, lattices of cracks began to form along Goliath's stone skin. Finally, with an earsplitting roar, he burst forth from the temporary shell.

Unusually, he was alone in this, the only gargoyle in the vicinity. But that hardly meant he was devoid of sleeping companions.

Arrayed around him were the unconscious forms of five mutates – Talon, Claw, Thug, and the two children – as well as two ordinary humans. Elisa…

And Sevarius himself.

Goliath saw white again, briefly, but he tempered it down. There were far more pressing concerns right now…like figuring out where in the world they were.

One thing was immediately obvious: they certainly weren't in the Labyrinth any longer. The starry sky above was plainly visible, and real earth and rock could be felt beneath his feet.

But this also didn't look like any place he'd ever seen in Manhattan. There were no cars or buildings to be seen in any direction. Only trees and shrubs and greenery. It was undeniably a beautiful sight, but it still unnerved him. How far had they traveled while he was asleep?

Torn between the desire to explore further and the instinct to protect his fallen friends and family, Goliath split the difference and began working to rouse them one by one.

(All except Sevarius, of course.)

Some awoke more easily than others. They'd all fallen unconscious in states of extreme distress, and the first instinct upon waking was to resume fighting back. Goliath had to dodge a lightning blast from Claw and a snap of the jaws from Thug before they came back to their senses.

The mutated children, however, seemed to take all of this in remarkable stride.

"Hey, mister. You're that gurgle Talon's sister likes, right?" asked the boy, after he'd come back to himself. "I heard Talon got all angry about it."

"It's gargoyle, Benny. Jeez, it's only in the papers like every single day," his sister corrected him, arms crossed in front of her leathery shell. "Nice to meet you, sir. I'm Erin, and the idiot is Benny. Do you know where we are right now?"

Claw could offer nothing but an exaggerated shrug. Thug simply stepped forward and held both children close.

Next was Elisa, who sputtered out something unintelligible but probably curse-laden before her self-awareness returned to her. Flushing a bit, she said, "You, uhh…didn't hear that just now, big guy. Anyway, what happened? Last I remember…"

One Goliath had explained, for the third time in a row, that her guess was as likely as his, they both turned to the final unconscious mutate.

"We're gonna have to do this…carefully," she said, frowning at her brother. "He's not gonna be happy when he wakes up – putting it mildly – and you know Derek's not exactly the champion of self-control at the best of times."

"Lemme give it a try," offered Thug, moving both kids behind himself. "If he lashes out, I got one heckuva thick hide. I can take it."

But Claw held him back with one silent…well, claw. To both Thug and Goliath, he shook his head, before stepping over to stand above Talon.

Then he seized his leader by the shoulders, and began to shake him as hard as possible.

Claw took the predictable discharges of electricity and incoherent snarls of rage in stride, simply waiting out his fellow mutate until his senses returned. Unfortunately, the first thing he saw upon doing so didn't exactly help matters.

"Sevarius!" he bellowed, one hand already lighting up with another discharge as he stood over the unconscious scientist. "Oh, I'm going to enjoy this!"

"Not yet, Derek!" said Elisa, leaping between them. "Haven't you noticed there's someone missing from our group?"

A beat passed. Then, the electricity abruptly dissipated, as if it was a candle that got snuffed out.

"Maggie…" he whispered, his heart breaking utterly over just those two syllables. "What…What'd he do with her…?

"We do not yet know, Talon," answered Goliath, his wings folded over his shoulders like a cape. "So we should not respond in haste. Now that he is fully outnumbered, I believe it will be safe to wake him for questioning."

Talon still didn't look pleased, but ultimately nodded his assent. Taking that as her cue, Elisa derived a fair amount of pleasure in being the one to rouse Anton Sevarius…

Via a good, strong right hook.

"Ow! Blasted bloody betacoronavirus…" he moaned, rubbing at his soon-to-be-swollen jaw. Claw took this opportunity to seize him by both wrists and force them above his head, affixing him with a growl that managed to come off utterly menacing despite being completely silent.

By this point, Sevarius had managed to take in enough of his surroundings to realize just what kind of a predicament he was in.

"Alright, I'm going to wager that if I call for the mercenaries I brought into the Labyrinth with me, they won't come running," he said. "And here I was, stringing them along with the promise of becoming real scorpion mutates. It was a win-win, honestly. I don't have to waste any of my own funds paying them, and I get five new test subjects for refining my mutagenic formula's compatibility with arthropod DNA. Ah well…spilt milk."

"Enough of that crap!" snapped Talon, getting in the scientist's face. "Where's Maggie?!"

"Would that I only knew," Sevarius drawled. "Right now, I'm more interested in the question 'Where in the world is Anton Sevarius?' But, if you want my best guess…"

He scowled toward his captors for a moment, before finishing, "It seems someone has taken advantage of my dastardly wicked kidnapping scheme…in order to enact their own."

Thug snorted skeptically from his upward-facing nostrils. "Hmmmph…a likely story," he muttered.

"Actually…this might be one thing he's not lying about," said Elisa, though even that limited defense made her feel somewhat icky. "Right before I lost consciousness, I saw someone tear off his gas mask from behind. I won't discount the possibility of a ruse…but then, why would he leave himself along with the rest of us, unconscious?"

"She has a point, you know," responded Sevarius, in such a ridiculously over-the-top way it made everyone want to punch him anyway.

"Hey…cop lady?" spoke up Benny, who along with his sister had wandered a short distance away during the interrogation. "You might wanna take a look at this."

Elisa frowned, but after making sure Claw still had a good hold of the doctor, went to see what the mutated boy was talking about. Goliath accompanied her.

The two children had come to the edge of the leafy outcropping they'd awoken upon. Once they reached the point where they could see beyond it, however, the detective stopped short.

Spreading out before them was a great deal of additional greenery. Beyond that, she could see gleaming shores of white sand, and at the very edge of her range of vision…

Was the unmistakable sight of the cool blue ocean.

"This is…an island," said Goliath, astonished.

Elisa's mouth opened and closed several times, able to form only vague words. Finally, they tumbled out, a hoarse whisper she couldn't even begin to answer.

"Where are we?"


As Elisa and Goliath struggled to come to terms with their new surroundings, a miniscule drone in the shape of a fly darted through the air, recording audio and video of their entire conversation.

Elsewhere on the island, these recordings were observed in real time, on a set of monitors that stretched across every wall of an entire room.

"They're starting to ask the right questions," spoke the observer. His voice was British, heavily accented, but also vaguely distorted – as if spoken through a filter. "I'm sure they'll be here soon enough."

"Master, do you really think it wise to let them roam the island unaccompanied?" asked the gravel-voiced man who'd abducted them, no longer constrained by his ill-fitting coat. "What if they interfere with the delicate balance we've worked so hard to build?"

"Without 'interference,' that balance is going to collapse within days, regardless," he reminded his servant. "I need Sevarius' expertise, and as wide a sample size as possible of his masterwork. In that, you exceeded my expectations, Montgomery. Only the gargoyle and the female detective are unnecessary…and if they can help the others survive this hell, all the better."

He then "gestured" – for lack of a better term – to the wide range of monitors, each displaying a different part of the island.

"There is nowhere they can go where I cannot track them," he said. "Montgomery, you are to remain here, and keep tabs on our 'guests,' while I complete the delivery in peace. I will let you know when it is time to…retrieve them."

At these words, his attentions turned to the central monitor, which was hooked up to cameras in the room just next door.

An improvised delivery room, where on a hospital bed and stirrups, sweating and moaning deliriously…

Lay Maggie the Cat, at best a few hours from going into labor.