The back of the Notre Dame under stormy skies

Sir John, Miss Henderson, Morag and Phlebotomous walked across the Archeveche Square, at the end of the Ile-de-la-Cite. The Square was dominated by the gothic magnificence of the Notre Dame cathedral. Despite the circumstances, Miss Henderson felt herself in awe of it.

They were wearing rather unusual hats, which alone would probably have raised eyebrows anywhere in the world, and Phlebotomous was wearing a full body suit that would normally cause uproar. But this was fin-de-siecle Paris, and they received barely a murmur of comment as they passed.

The quartet easily found who they were looking for. They saw Pook, another man of similar build but infinitely better dress sense and two large gentlemen holding a sack. This group stood close to the back of the Notre Dame. With glances at each other and one final nod, the quartet walked over.

As they approached, Pook saw them and smiled greasily.

“So nice to see you all,” he said. “I can honestly say it is an unmitigated joy for us that you chose to acquiesce to our humble request. If you would be so grateful to deliver to us the artefact we require, we may return your missing property and we can all continue our day mutually satisfied.”

Pook smiled, held out his hand expectantly then looked confused.

“Oh!” he said, “some manner of mechanical or magical subterfuge I suspect. Never mind, we did guess at such a potential outcome and came up with a means to redress the balance.”

Bisset produced a handgun and pointed it at Sir John. The two men with the sack pulled back their jackets to demonstrate holsters and pistols.

“I always find it prudent to have multiple options when negotiating,” said Bisset.

“You’re the man from the big door!” said Miss Henderson. “The one who ran in after Sir John.”

Bisset winced a little then recovered.

“Monsieur Bisset at your service,” he said. “Now, the key piece, please.”

“You’ll kill us as soon as you have it,” said Sir John.

“Not as soon as,” said Bisset, “but soon after, yes.”

“We need a guarantee of safety,” said Sir John.

“How about this,” said Bisset and shot at Sir John. Sir John gasped as his hat flew off and then he looked glassy eyed and stepped toward Pook, pulling the key piece from his jacket.

“No!” shouted Phlebotomous and suddenly his arms extended dramatically accompanied by the sound of gears whirring. One arm shot towards the wriggling sack between the two bodyguards and the other towards Sir John. Mechanical hands clamped on both targets and there was a sound of machinery as Phlebotomous’ arms reeled back in, pulling Sir John and the sack to him.

“Go!” shouted Miss Henderson and there was a sound of a spring. Phlebotomous, firmly attached to Sir John and the sack shot into the air and landed 100 feet away. There was another spring sound and the trio shot up and away again.

“Oh, how tiresome,” said Bisset and shot Miss Henderon. She clutched her stomach, looked confused for a second then fell to the ground.

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