Dateline: Gotham City, today 2037 right this minute: and so it is that right now, right there, on the (non-existent) 13th floor of the Algonquin Hotel, Miranda Holmquist, Howard Allason and Fred Dinnage watch as JFK opened the door and spoke briefly to the two strangers in the hallway; they catch a few words – President, MacFarlane and Doubleday – uttered in what to their ears is a Scotch accent, and then JFK admits them to the room and joins the others as they sit and stare: the newcomers are dressed in a strange and unfashionable mix of styles dating from some sort of distant past, and then Holmquist remembers an old movie, Highlander and, she can't help it, laughs, stopping abruptly when the taller man glowers at her: "ho-hum," he says, "ye can laugh, Mistress Holmquist, ah tak it it's yersel, Cat Wummin ye cry yersel, weel ye look mair like summat the cat micht bring in an drap at ma feet!" – and she visibly quails, not something she has often experienced, but there is something in the man's tone that warns her; it's Howard Allason who recovers first, and he stands and offers his hand, which the Scotchman waves aside: "aye," he nods, "ah kin see hoo ye'r ca'd The Penguin, ye'r aw blubber," and he looks directly at Fred, "which maks ye The Joker, but ye'r na laughin noo, ur ye?" and Dinnage attempts a grin, which freezes on his face; "relax, ma chiels," says the Scotchman, sitting down and indicating to his companion and JFK that they are to follow suit, "am urny here tae thrash ye, am here tae mak a deal; ah've jist been tae see the President," and he gives a mirthless laugh, "or baith o them, ye micht say, tho ane's mair o a Memory, like a Genii in a bottle, an t'ither's a lost boy twiddlin his thumbs and his secretary, wi no a thocht in his big empty heid, save her blonde quim," and when JFK looks slightly confused – understandable, his last memory being of riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas, Miranda explains: "now that Gotham City – New York – is the capital of the independent Democratic Republic of New York, which includes Washington, DC and England, not New England, the original Olde Worlde England, our President is Barron Trumpet-Trousers, son of the last President of the United States of America, Donald Trumpet-Trousers," and the Scotchman buts in: "aye, the auld man was a Big Fart an his chiel's a Wee Fart! but ye've interrupted ma flow, hen; so, tae continue: ah hud a wee meeting we the wean, an then he took me tae whaur Duck's kept in whit they ca a State o Suspended Animation wi his boady on a bed, aw kinda pipes an tubes keepin him alive, an his brain in a muckle gless boattle, an whit they ca a synthesiser so his voice cums oot o a cabinet, gies me the Holy Wullies the hale thing, like he's sum kind o spider in the middle o his web. but, hoo'ever an anon, we'd a guid chat, me an the Brain, an twis him gied me the lowdoon on youse three as the Maisters o Crime, or twa Maisters an a Mistress, in the hale State; correct?" and he glares at the three, who nod – best to humour him, they seem to think, "an am inclined tae enrol ye intae The Ring o Gold, tae coalesce ye'r different areas o interest wi mine, tae oor mutual benefit – but hoo dae ye fit in?" he asks JFK who, startled at being spoken to, looks around for some support, "let the word go forth from this time and place," he begins, hesitantly, and then finds his own rhythm, "to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans – born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage – and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human . . . . ." and the stranger stands up, "the fuck are ye spielin aboot? am no here fer Poems or Paeans or Pontifications, am here tae hear whit youse anes kin dae fer me, OKAY LOON?" this last he shouts straight into JFK's aghast face, which, lips drawn into a tight rictus O looks as if he has just sucked a very sour hesperidium! and how do I know this? you ask – because, Dear Reader, I am sitting just twelve feet away, behind the drapes, typing silently on my Notebook which, thanks to the marvels of Skynet patches me into any Platform in the entire World; and how do I come to be here? you wonder, and how do I have access to England's MilComSats? well, let me introduce myself: "the name is Bond, Joan Bond 007, and before anyone queries that, yes, I used to be James Bond, but have just completed my Transition!"