"We're going to make this easy. I ask a question, you answer the question. You understand, Ms. Shannon?"
She nodded. "I understand perfectly, Inspector."
"What are you doing with this garnet?"
"I was getting ready to return it."
I raised my eyebrow, trying to catch her in a bluff. "What do you mean, return it?"
"It was stolen, right? I tracked down the thief, and snatched it from him. I was going to return it to its rightful owner."
"You do know that the ends don't justify the means?"
"You could say the same for the man who stole that garnet veined with granite. Sure, you can take that garnet, harness the natural vibrations, and keep everyone on schedual with the most accurate timepiece since the atomic clock. But swiping it from a simple research scientist isn't the best way to acquire an accurate timepiece."
I nodded. "And you tracked down the thief?"
"I did. Research and personal connections work wonders, Inspector."
I paced a bit. It was one of my obnoxious habits. "You know, I think you should just explain. Just... just explain." I crossed my arms expectantly.
Shannon took a deep breath. "I hope you're up on your crime bosses past and present, Inspector. It will make things easier in explaining." I nodded. "Who do you think of when someone mentions the biggest boss of the decade, possibly the century?"
I shrugged. "Easy. The one and the only Kahn Rey."
"Then you'd know that he's somehow connected with everyone who's anyone, both shady and righteous. Brutally tough, everyone both respected and feared him. Hence the name."
I nodded. "This is all nice, but is this all necessary?"
"Please, Inspector, it is. Do you know anything about his wife?"
"Indeed, the great bounty-hunter-turned-socialite. A very elegant woman, very elegant." It was true, I had the pleasure of meeting the graceful Jenna Rey once. It was nearly impossible to believe she was the most feared bounty hunter in the city. "But, from what I hear, she 'tamed' Kahn once they were married. He turned from crime to society, but still maintained ties."
She nodded. "You know a great deal, Inspector. Now, do you know of the crime boss tradition of branding kin?"
"Every boss has his or her own ensigna, yes. Kahn Rey's is probably the most recognised of them all: a snake and a rose intertwined."
Shannon nodded again. "Come here, Inspector. I want you to rip my sleeve off. The right one."
Tentatively, I gripped the black cloth on her shoulder. My eyes met hers, and she nodded. I pulled down as hard as I could, the sound of shredding cotton pierced the air, mixing with my gasp.
There, on her thin muscular forearm, was a winding black serpent that twisted around a scarlet rose. Under the tail of the snake was a tiny scrolling dove.
"Kahn Rey's brand..." I breathed. "With the dove. The dove's only on the... the..."
"Daughter, yes." I stepped back, still in shock.
I couldn't believe it. Shannon, the daughter of the most notorious crime boss and bounty hunter.
"So... so can you...?" I stuttered.
She nodded. "Kahn's most distinctive trait was that he was a shapeshifter. Well..." She closed her eyes. To my astonishment her lower arms seemed to turn to a flowing purple substance, and the cuffs clattered to the floor. When her arms returned to substance, her whole complexion was about five shades darker. I looked into her face, and I noticed her nose was a bit smaller than before. Her hair, formerly sleek and shoulder-length, was now wavy and halfway down her back. The only things that were the same were her piercingly blue eyes and the brand on her forearm.
"The agenetic nature is hereditary."
"Agenetic. For the most part, I can change my DNA on a whim. The only permanent things about me are my eyes, the brand, and any scarring I receive."
"The last two are understandable... but... but..." I collapsed onto a nearby stool. "I still can't believe this."
She shrugged. "I've met more people than most people will ever know. I've seen more things, learned more things, than the average person. I have sharp eyes and a memory like a bear trap. I picked up on my father's knack for language and hunger for knowledge, and my mother taught me both grace and stealth."
I could scarcly believe it. Was I actually sitting in the presense of the offspring of two of the most dangerous people in New York?
"Do you get," I asked, "how hard it is for me to fathom all of this?"
She smirked, nodding. "I can kind of tell."