Story Concept by Todd Jensen.
Written by Christi Smith Hayden.
Previously on Gargoyles....
George: "When are you going to outgrow this pinky
promise thing of yours?"
Richard: "Probably not until I'm old and gray, bro."
* * *
George: "In war, sacrifices must be made for the
greater good. Try to keep that in mind, bro."
George: "Somebody has to pick up the slack and I
don't shirk my responsibilities."
Richard: "My parents want to know what'll happen
to George. Has he shown up?"
Elisa: "No sign of him anywhere. A rookie reported seeing someone
with his description just before he was knocked out
and had his uniform stolen. It's entirely possible he walked right past
us, as bold as brass."
Richard: "That's George, all right."
Garlon: "I've tailed the subject to Philadelphia.
You'll be pleased, I think.
He's clever, creative and resourceful. In short, he's just what the doctor
Transcripts of Voice Mail
December 17, 1996
"This is Garlon. Followed subject to Miami where he sold motorcycle
and bought tickets to Cancun, Mexico. He had reservations at the Hotel
Omni under the name of Peter Mason. Must remember to thank subject for
picking such a delightful destination to hide out in. I detest Christmas
in New York; spending the holidays sitting in the shade of a cabana drinking
rum punch and watching subject tan on the beach and pick up women makes
for an excellent working vacation."
* * * * *
January 2, 1997
*audible growl, high-pitched aircraft noises in background* "This
is Garlon. I don't know how he did it, but the subject got away from me.
It will NOT happen again. Subject had become involved with a German tourist,
seems he speaks the language fairly well. She had talked him into a moonlight
cruise on a touristy old-style clipper ship out to Isla Mujere for a New
Year's Party. As there are no airstrips on the island, I did not tail
the subject, the fact that I always get seasick on small ships might have
also had something to do with it. All I know is they did not return as
scheduled in the early hours of January 1 with the rest of the tourists.
The German woman returned alone later that evening and ordered the hotel
to send his bill to an address in New York. Apparently they rented a room
on the island to celebrate the New Year and when she awoke, he was gone,
leaving a note with instructions for the hotel. A large fishing boat left
about the time of his disappearance and I've traced it to Cozumel, another
tourist spot. Two commercial flights left this morning, one to Miami and
the other to Dallas. I'm scanning the passenger manifests now. Will report
again as soon as I have relocated my quarry."
* * * * *
I. -- Prodigal
January 5, 1997
South Dallas, Texas
A beer bottle smashed against the wall, amber shards of glass scattering
across the nearby booths, barely missing the sole occupant sitting under
one of the few lights in the biker bar. He flicked his blue eyes up once,
scanning the room. Noting the fight in progress, the man with the sun-bleached
hair scratched his scruffy reddish-brown beard and went back to reading
his dog-eared paperback book. A worn backpack was under the table and
a dusty leather jacket was draped on the opposite bench.
At the bar, a nondescript man nursed his beer as he had for the better
part of an hour and studied the solitary reader. He thrust a thumb over
his shoulder and asked the bartender, "So what's with the bookworm?"
The silver-haired man with ex-biker written all over him gave a quick
glance between the two men. "Mister," he said as he drew two
draft beers, "you don't want to mess with him."
"A man's got a right to some privacy," the bartender said bluntly
and walked down to the other end of the bar to deliver the beers.
The barmaid jiggled up with a drink order. She had the biggest, reddest
head of hair of any woman in the place and a strong aroma of AquaNet hinted
at her high flammability. She cracked her gum and leaned up next to the
"Don't mind Bob, honey. He jest don't like gettin' intah othah people's
The man smiled warmly at her. "Yeah? I just thought it was a little
peculiar, reading a book in a bar." He peered at her nametag. "Doralene."
"Oh, honey! We get all sorts in heyah!" She turned around,
resting her elbows on the bar and thrusting her rather expressive bosom
out at the room. "He's jest as sweet as kin be, he jest don't like
ta be bothered while he's reading."
The bartender scowled at her. "Dorrie, you talk too much, girl."
"Ah'm jest bein' friendly!" she protested. "T'ain't no
harm in that, is there?"
Unnoticed, the man at the bar slipped away. He nodded once as he crossed
the room to the flashing lights of the jukebox and began to study the
A table of young toughs began arguing loudly amongst themselves. Some
of the longneck bottles littering their table rolled off on to the floor
and broke. One of them picked up a half-empty bottle and deliberately
threw it across the room. It hit the wall in an explosion of beer suds,
spraying the reader with glass shards and foam.
His eyes flicked up, a hard, cold look aimed at the troublemakers. Very
quietly, he placed an envelope in the book and tucked it inside the backpack.
He slid out of the booth and began to walk across the room. Chairs hit
the floor as the group of young bikers stood up, jeering and jostling
each other. The bottle thrower, clearly the drunkest of the lot, sneered
at the reader. "What's the matter? Did yer little book get all wet?"
"I think you guys have had way too much to drink so I'm going to
be nice about this," the solitary biker said. "Apologize and
I won't hurt you. Much."
"Ooooooh!" the bottle-thrower said sarcastically. "I'm
so-o-o-o scared." He looked over the reader, sizing him up. It wasn't
much of a comparison. The younger man clearly had height, weight and youth
on his side. "Bite me, old man. If you want to read, go to the library
with the rest of the geeks."
"I like it here," the reader said, lifting his chin. He shifted
his weight to his back leg.
"Oh, yeah?" The young tough got in his face and starting poking
him roughly in the chest with a grease-stained finger. "Well, we
don't like you!"
There was a sharp crack as the reader snapped the bone in the young biker's
finger. He kept his grip, drawing him forward as he whip-kicked him in
the groin and stomach, driving his knee into the punk's lowered head.
He swung the punk around and hurled him in a hip throw. The young biker
landed in an unconscious heap by the door.
"Doralene," the bartender drawled out absently. "Go prop
the door open. I think he's fixin' to take out the trash."
The bottle thrower's friends threw themselves at the reader. Their technique
was pure and simple bar room brawl. His was a lightning mix of fighting
disciplines combined with a calm focus on the task at hand. One by one
and in various degrees of damage, the troublemakers made contact with
the cold, cracked concrete of the sidewalk outside.
The reader wiped a trace of blood off the corner of his mouth. He nodded
at the bartender. "Sorry about the mess, Bob."
"S'okay, pal. They weren't from around here." The silver-haired
man yelled into the storeroom. "Kelvin! Git out here and mop the
The nondescript man sauntered over from the jukebox and slipped into
the booth with the reader. "Impressive," he said.
"I'm not interested in conversation," the reader replied. He
ignored the newcomer and took out his reading material.
"Well, Mr. Harrison," the newcomer said, reaching over the
snatch the envelope being used as a bookmark, "you've led me a merry
chase since I handed you this at the Quarrymen rally in Central Park."
His target received major points for the coolness of his reaction, merely
flicking his blue eyes open in an extremely focused stare.
"Uh huh... And you would be...?"
"Cohn, Dave G. Cohn. I head up the Acquisitions Department for Maddox
Harrison glanced around the room and asked quietly, "So what do
you acquire for them?"
"Oh, whatever Mr. Maddox requires, software, hardware, people..."
Dave leaned forward. "Mr. Maddox has a great need for talented people,
especially those with your unique experience."
"So I gathered from the note," Harrison said. "It was
little vague on the job description."
"Mr. Maddox wishes to go into those details personally." Dave
flicked away a shard of glass. "You have an appointment at the head
offices in Manhattan one week from today."
"I might be interested," Harrison said, stressing the last
word, "if certain conditions of my own were met."
"You'll find the employee's benefits package quite comprehensive
and above industry standards."
"Very well." Harrison stood up and put on his leather jacket.
"Tell your employer I'll meet with him."
"I'll take you there," Dave said, also standing. "I'm
authorized to arrange transportation."
"Don't bother, I'll get there on my own," Harrison said, shrugging
on his backpack. "I'd prefer it that way."
"As you wish. I'd tell Mr. Maddox to expect you."
"You do that."
* * * * *
January 7, 1997
Manhattan, New York.
The lone pedestrian carried the two bags of groceries awkwardly with
one arm as he walked towards the apartment building. The other arm he
held gingerly in a sling and winced as he tried to shift it around to
get in his jacket pocket. He was swearing under his breath when a voice
came out of a nearby alley.
"Do you need some help, Richard?"
The young man looked up at the velvet tones and smiled. "Hi, Angela.
Checking up on me again?"
The female gargoyle stepped out of the shadows and took a sack of groceries
from him. "I didn't think you'd mind. I thought you were supposed
to be taking it easy with that arm."
Richard set the other bag on the ground and dug through his pockets.
"A guy's got to eat, you know. Mom stocked the freezer but I ran
out of the staples...milk, butter, bread..."
"Mallomars?" Angela looked up, her hand sorting through the
bag. "A bag of Cheezy Chips? Picante? Richard! Tsk, tsk, tsk...."
He smiled sheepishly as he fished out his keys. "I'm a junk food
junkie, so sue me. After the hospital room and spending the Christmas
break with my mother, I needed a fix." Richard waved at the building.
"You want to come on up?"
"It might not make a good impression on the neighbors if I walked
in," Angela said. "Why don't you open a window and I'll meet
"Okay, sounds like a plan." He managed to get the door open
and went inside.
Richard heaved the groceries up on his kitchen counter, threw his unfolded
laundry in the bedroom and looked around the messy room nervously before
opening the window. Angela came in with remarkable grace considering how
tightly she had to wrap her wings around herself to do it. She looked
around the room while Richard put things away in the kitchen.
"It's a very nice place," she said finally, straightening a
pile of books on the coffee table. "It's very ....masculine."
She tossed a discarded sock under a chair with a flick of her tail.
"You mean it looks like a bear cave," Richard said with a laugh.
"No, bears wouldn't live like this."
"Well, I usually keep it neater. I never know when George might
drop by for inspection." He stopped in the act of putting a six-pack
of cola in the refrigerator and stood there looking at the red cans. "I
wish I knew he was all right."
Angela regarded her friend sympathetically. "Elisa put an A.P.B.
out on him. Someone is sure to find him."
"I don't know." Richard sighed and put the soft drinks away.
"George is really sneaky when he wants to be. In high school, he
took drama and speech classes, and for a while, he thought about becoming
an actor. He could fake anybody out."
There was a picture on the wall. Angela studied it carefully. Richard
and George were smiling at the camera, wearing nice suits reminiscent
of Xanatos's everyday wear. They had the same pleasant blue eyes, George's
hair a slightly lighter shade of chestnut brown. Their faces were also
similar; the straight nose, the strong jawline, but where Richard radiated
a genuine friendliness, George seemed a bit distant. Perhaps it was the
lift of an eyebrow, the rigid curve of his lip, Angela shook her head.
"Is this a recent photo?" she asked.
Richard looked in her direction. "Yeah, that was our Christmas present
to Mom." His eyes saddened for a moment. "When she opened it,
she burst into tears. Normally, that's a good thing but with George missing
and everything, I felt really bad about it."
"It was the thought that counted," Angela said soothingly.
"It's a very handsome portrait. I'm sure once your mother calmed
down, she liked it very much."
"Yeah, it's funny but moms really like it when you make an effort
for them," Richard said. "You know?"
Angela smiled, thinking back on the clan's recent winter solstice celebration.
"Oh, I know exactly what you mean."
He went over in a desk drawer and took out a small picture. "Here's
a copy of that photo for you, if you'd like one."
"Why, Richard! Thank you!" She kissed him impulsively on the
cheek. "I only wish I had something as grand for you."
Richard colored slightly and grinned sheepishly. "Oh, that'll do
* * * * *
January 8, 1997
The Bronx, New York
The biker with the sun-bleached hair came out of the seedy bar one motorcycle
lighter and a few thousand dollars richer. The Harley he'd picked up in
Dallas for a song sold for considerably more here in the Big Apple. He
wandered into the nearest consignment store to update his wardrobe.
Within the hour, a bespectacled student in a second-hand parka was riding
the subway downtown into the business district. His blue jeans, Doc Martens
and baggy flannel shirt attracted no more attention than any other rider
on the train. He blew a longish strand of sun blonde hair out of his eyes
as he scanned the newspaper in his hands. Disembarking at the next station,
he folded it up and stuck it under his arm as he drifted into the crowd.
* * * * *
January 9, 1997
Downtown Manhattan, New York.
It had taken eighteen straight hours at various computer terminals but
he had finally accessed the Maddox Technologies personnel records. As
Castaway's assistant, he had learned a few tricks about corporate espionage.
He'd impersonated a UPS deliveryman and scouted the territory earlier
that morning when he'd lucked into overhearing a conversation between
his target and her friend arranging to meet for lunch. As result, he was
waiting for her, observing her discreetly in his guise of young businessman
going over paperwork at lunch.
"--And then he gave me that killer grin and walked away!" the
young brunette gushed. All three women wearing Maddox Technologies badges
sat at a nearby table nibbling on salad. The industrious young executive
took a sip of his cola while he watched them as he rifled through his
"You get all the luck, Quinn!" one of her companions said.
"Working in Maddox's offices. I think sometimes I'll never make it
out of the secretarial pool."
"Luck, nothing!" Quinn exclaimed. "I'm exhausted. Maddox
is there at all hours. I swear the man never sleeps!"
"Well, you have the weekend off," her other companion said,
"and you're going club-hopping with us in the Village. No going home
until we've all snagged a man."
Quinn laughed, her dark brown eyes twinkling. "That sounds great!"
"Yeah, Ms. Quinn," George muttered with a small smile, "I
think I'll see you there." He lingered over his own lunch while the
ladies finished and trailed them back to the Maddox building. Standing
in the shadows across the street, he pursed his lips as the threads of
an idea began to come together.
* * * * *
January 10, 1997
The Rockaway, Greenwich Village, Manhattan.
The bass backbeat was throbbing through the floor and the dancers could
feel the music through their feet. Quinn couldn't remember the last time
she had really cut loose and let her hair down. She liked being Mr. Maddox's
and Ms. O'Connor's executive secretary but sometimes she felt as if she
lived at the office.
"Great band, huh?"
Quinn turned around and looked into a pair of eyes made even bluer by
a tanned, good-looking face. "Yeah!" she yelled back and started
dancing with him. He was a reasonably cute guy, dressed in a black mock
turtleneck and jeans. His brown hair was streaked with golden sun-bleached
highlights and he had a yummy Patrick Swayze body. He knew how to move
too, Quinn noted with delight. Her last boyfriend had two left feet.
The house lights came up while the next band was getting ready. Her dance
partner grinned and held out his hand. "I'm Jayce. Jayce Roberts.
Can I buy you a drink?"
"Yeah," the short brunette said with an answering grin. "And
you can call me Quinn."
They found a relatively quiet corner upstairs in the balcony and made
small talk as they sipped rum-and-cokes. Quinn found herself becoming
enchanted by Jayce's easy-going manner. He was a sales rep for a telecommunications
firm and regaled her with entertaining stories from his recent Caribbean
cruise where he got his tan. They were swapping vacation stories when
her friends caught up with them.
"...And I was swimming over this sand bar when I looked up to see
this HUGE fish," he spread his arms wide, fingers extended, "I
swear to God, it must have been six feet if it was an inch, and I'm floating
there in the current going 'Hel-LO!'" His eyes widened.
Quinn rested her cheek against her hand, dark eyes twinkling. She hadn't
smiled this much in ages. "What was it?"
Jayce leaned in. "A barracuda. Found that out later, but at that
moment I was too busy trying to swim backwards." He began making
exaggerated swimming motions, leaning dangerously back in his chair and
Quinn began to giggle.
"Hey, girlfriend!" A tall, black girl with a cafe au lait complexion
and a vivacious redhead walked up to the table. "We've been invited
to a party down the street. Wanna go?"
Quinn looked at Jayce and said, "I'll be right back." She hustled
her friends to the balcony edge. "So," she said, glancing back
at the table, "what do you think of him?"
The redhead leered over Quinn's shoulder. "I saw him earlier. Cu-u-ute!"
"Honestly, girl, I can't take you anywhere." The black girl
shook her head, rustling dozens of tiny, shoulder-length braids together.
"What's important, Quinn, is what do you think of him?"
"Oh.... so he doesn't have movie star looks but he's so easy to
talk to and he's funny and he's got a great laugh and...."
"Sounds to me like you've bagged your limit tonight," her friend
said with a laugh. "See you at work Monday." She and the redhead
"Have fun!" the redhead called. "Don't do anything I wouldn't
"And just what wouldn't you do?" the black girl asked with
"Not much!" A bubbling laugh echoed up the stairwell.
Quinn stood there with arms crossed, quietly giggling as she watched
them leave. Jayce came up behind her. "Hey, I hope I didn't run off
"No," Quinn said, looking up at him. "They're off to a
"Well, if you want to go," he said with a wistful puppy dog
expression, "there's no reason to stay here on my account."
A slow ballad began to play over the club's sound system. Quinn threaded
her arms through his and linked her hands behind his back. She smiled
and said in a low voice, "I like it here."
Jayce chuckled and put his arms around her. "Then I guess we'll
just have to make our own party." He tilted his head down and brushed
his lips against hers, softly at first and then with gradually firmer
Quinn sighed and closed her eyes. She felt his kiss all the way down
to her knees. This was turning out to be a memorable weekend.
* * * * *
January 12, 1997
Maddox Technologies, Manhattan.
At precisely nine o'clock, Nicholas Maddox and his partner Mavis O'Connor
stepped out of the private elevator onto the floor housing the executive
offices of Maddox Technologies. With their dark hair and gray eyes, they
were a perfectly matched set although it was clear to anyone within a
few minutes, that they were strictly business. Their chief expediter and
head of Acquisitions met them at the elevator door.
"Well, Garlon?" Maddox asked as he gazed mildly around at his
employees swarming around the office like bees. "Has our acquisition
The unremarkable man with mouse-brown hair frowned. "Not yet."
"I don't see why ye didn't be more forceful in Dallas," Mavis
said, chameleon gray eyes taking on a greenish cast. "It's not like
the man had many other prospects."
"No, Garlon acted correctly," Maddox said quietly. "I'll
explain later but for maximum efficiency, it must be a voluntary act."
They strolled into the executive suite. The secretary's desk was vacant
and the door to Maddox's office was ajar. Garlon instantly stepped in
front of his employers and pushed the door open cautiously, one hand inside
A well-dressed man with sun-bleached brown hair and blue eyes stood in
front of the polished teak desk, a leatherbound binder in his hand. He
smiled and nodded at Garlon.
"Your letter did say the appointment was for nine a.m sharp."
Garlon held the door open for his employers. "Ms. O'Connor, Mr.
Maddox, may I present George C. Harrison, formerly head of Marketing and
Public Relations at Castaway Industries?"
Nicholas Maddox regarded George with dry amusement as he greeted him.
He sat down behind the desk and watched Mavis at work.
"Mr. Harrison, I'd be wonderin' how ye got in here? Security is
under orders to notify us when visitors enter the building." She
sat down in the throne-like chair Garlon provided for her.
George took a relaxed military stance, facing her. "Well, Ms. O'Connor,
at this moment I imagine a certain Ms. Quinn Ramsey is waking up right
now in her apartment, wondering where the handsome stranger she met over
the weekend has gone. After she wakes up a little more, she'll probably
be wondering where her security pass has gone." He reached into his
inside jacket pocket and pulled out a magnetic passkey and a laminated
employee tag. He tossed it on the desk. "She's a lovely and talented
young lady but quite a security risk."
"I see I'll be havin' a little chat with personnel later,"
"While you're making out her severance check, include one for the
security guard downstairs," George said with a little smile. "He
didn't even blink when I passed through his checkpoint and this is not
one of my better ID forgeries."
Garlon nodded at Mavis and Maddox. "I'll handle it."
"It's clear to me," Maddox said firmly, "that our security
procedures are incredibly lax. I believe I'd like both of you to look
into this matter while I conduct the interview with our industrious Mr.
Mavis met his gaze with an amused one of her own. The corners of her
mouth turned up in a small, quirky smile as she left the room. Garlon
returned her chair to its place in the corner of the room behind the desk
before following her out and shutting the door.
The darkly handsome executive gestured to the upholstered chairs in front
of his desk. "Please, Mr. Harrison, sit. Be comfortable."
"Thank you, sir." The tanned younger man sat down in a relaxed
yet attentive manner.
"Tell me about yourself." It wasn't so much a question as it
was a command.
"Well, sir," George began, "my name is George Clarence
Harrison. I'm twenty-six years old and I have a degree in Political Science
from New York University. I was in R.O.T.C. throughout my school years
and I served in the United States Air Force for two years before taking
employment at Castaway Industries."
Nicholas Maddox leaned back in his high-backed office chair and steepled
his fingers together as he regarded George Harrison thoughtfully. "So,
Mr. Harrison, besides it being an impressive display of ingenuity, exactly
why did you decide to circumvent my security systems?"
"Well, sir, I'm afraid I'm a persona non grata in the state of New
York, with a warrant out for my arrest. There was the outside chance that
there might a few of New York's finest waiting here in your office to
greet me. A number of ranking Quarrymen implicated me when they plea-bargained
for lesser sentences."
"Loyalty is a rare and high-priced commodity," Maddox said.
"I was deeply saddened by Castaway's downfall. He had true vision
when all around him were blind to the truth."
"Exactly." George leaned forward, his attention sharp and focused.
"He had such insight into the dark side of those creatures. He wasn't
fooled for a minute by that 'we want to live in peace with humanity line'
they fed the media." He shook his head and sighed. "I've heard
that he's had a complete nervous breakdown. To be betrayed from within
like that," he set his jaw and lowered his voice, "and by my
own brother yet, I can't help thinking that I could have done more."
Maddox nodded. "Perhaps I can help you," he said.
"How so?" George asked. "The Quarrymen have been disbanded,
the police are a joke and those creatures are still loose in the city.
What kind of a chance could an ordinary man have against them?"
"True, the Quarrymen are no more," Maddox said shrewdly, "but
there are those who worked behind the scenes, keeping them supplied with
weapons and technology." He lifted a regal eyebrow. "Maddox
Technologies developed the Quarryman hammer."
"Really?" George said curiously. "I never knew that. Castaway
always handled weapons acquisitions himself."
"You realize I couldn't support him openly," Maddox explained.
"Unfortunately, I'd have risked getting my factory shut down by those
'bleeding heart liberals' who run this city, since they think that the
Quarrymen are terrorists, rather than the last defense against the terrors
of the night."
"You sound as if you know the subject well," George ventured
"I lived in Europe for many years. The people there have known of
the existence of gargoyles for centuries. The information is available,
if you know where to look. I am convinced that these abominable creatures
pose a real threat to humanity. That's why I was eager to support Castaway
and his family against these demons." His gray eyes grew distant.
"Now Castaway's dream will die unless another is willing to take
up the cause." He focused his gaze on George. "I think with
your skills and the time you spent as Castaway's lieutenant, you could
fulfill that dream."
"Hmmm." George's eyes took on an unfocused cast as he considered
the idea. "I don't know. The civil authorities will be on the alert
for any organized anti-gargoyle movement. The media is already engaged
in a major PR push promoting interspecies tolerance."
"I agree," Maddox said. "I find the evening newscasts
most distressing. You must find them especially disturbing, what with
that film clip of your brother and the female gargoyle that the networks
keep showing over and over."
"I don't know what kind of unnatural hold she has on him,"
George said bitterly, "but I've washed my hands of him." His
jaw thrust forward as he frowned and looked away. "After all we've
been through together, he let me down."
"You have my sympathy," the dark-haired executive said with
a pained sigh. "My brother and I never quite saw eye-to-eye ourselves."
A distant ghost passed before his eyes that only Maddox could see and
for a few moments, the silence of centuries filled the room. He shook
it off and turned his attention back to young Harrison.
"I can help you destroy the gargoyles," he began, "but
this time, it will be an entirely covert operation, more subtle with a
select number of operatives, every one hand-picked for complete loyalty."
Maddox arched a regal eyebrow. "Interested?"
George nodded. "Go on, I'm listening."
"There will be some minor personal risk involved," Maddox commented.
"What I'm proposing is a radical new procedure that may seem hazardous
but will yield great advantages to its participants."
"Sometimes risk is necessary to affect change," George said
with a shrug, "We're never going eliminate the gargoyle threat if
we don't take chances."
A small, knowing smile traced Maddox's lips for a second and then vanished.
"I recently hired Dr. Anton Sevarius, one of the finest geneticists
in the world, to assist me in a few projects for my company. One of them
involves bioengineering, introducing new genetic material into an individual's
DNA. It would enhance your strength, speed and other natural abilities
"This would.... change me?" George asked hesitantly. "How?
What kind of test results did he get? Is the procedure reversible?"
"Initial results were quite promising. However, I won't lie to you.
You would be the first test subject. And the doctor assures me that he
can undo his handiwork, if necessary." He noted the shift in the
younger man's body language. "I assure you, Mr. Harrison, that this
is for the greater good. Sometimes, to battle the darkness, you must gather
a little darkness to yourself."
George chewed his lip pensively. "I'd like a little time to think
Maddox nodded. "It's not the sort of decision one should just jump
into head-first. Please, take your time but I would like to hear from
you in the next day or so." He activated his intercom. "Garlon,
a moment of your time, please."
The nondescript man with the mousy brown hair entered the office. "Greywolf
and I have started revamping the security measures, Mr. Maddox. He's downstairs
reviewing the staff problems personally."
The executive raised an eyebrow. "Excellent work." He gestured
towards George. "Mr. Harrison wishes to consider his options before
making his decision. Will you please issue him a visitor's pass to be
left at the lobby desk?" He gave a worldly smile. "As unwise
as Ms. Ramsey seems to have been in her romantic affairs, she was a most
capable executive assistant. I would much rather you return through the
front door next time as opposed to seducing the remaining secretarial
"Very well, sir." George stood, shook hands with Maddox and
left with Garlon. Maddox took a remote control from his desk drawer and
pointed it at a section of wall. Previously undetectable panels retracted,
revealing a bank of video monitors and computer equipment. The screens
showed various areas of Maddox Technologies, the offices, the R&D
labs, the gymnasium and the lobby. Maddox concentrated on that last image,
watching as Garlon escorted young Harrison to the doors. He was deep in
thought when Mavis put her hand on his shoulder.
"What? The lad's leavin?' Not the sort you'd thought he'd be, is
he?" she asked in her Irish lilt.
"Don't write our Mr. Harrison off yet. Quite a bit more sensitive
than I first imagined, true, but he's cunning and quick of thought. I'd
take those qualities over brute strength any day."
"Aye, he's a clever one, and bold as brass, too," Mavis commented.
"I had a word with Quinn. She's been too good a secretary to just
let go on short notice so I've had her transferred to one of our other
offices that'll be having unexpected layoffs in a few weeks. T'would be
awkward if those two ran into each other here in any case."
"Agreed." Maddox smiled coldly. "That stunt was rather
inconvenient but nicely ruthless. He's more like one of us than he thinks."
* * * * *
Upper West Side Manhattan.
Schlatter's Drugstore was busier than usual for a Monday. Richard had
been called in early to help in the storeroom and he was hustling around
stocking shelves while Mrs. Schlatter took care of customers and Mr. Schlatter
filled prescriptions in the pharmacy. He noted the people in the store
but his mind was on his work, and he didn't think any more about them.
It wasn't until he was wheeling a case of toilet paper past the small
children's section that he noticed it.
At first, it was just the flash of color, one solid block of yellow seen
in a blur from the corner of his eye. The strangeness of it stopped him
a few steps away and Richard turned back to stare. Someone had taken every
'Curious George' book with their bright yellow covers and lined them up
along the front of the book rack. His mouth fell open and he took a look
around the store. The only people present were a mother with two small
boys and an elderly man at the pharmacy window.
Richard raced to the front door and ran outside. "George?"
He ignored the two old ladies sitting there when he stood on the back
of a bench, holding onto a lamp post for balance. "George! GEORGE!?!"
Some of the afternoon pedestrians turned to look at him but the one face
Richard most wanted to see wasn't there. He cupped his hand to his mouth
and yelled again, "GEOOOOOORGE!!!!"
* * * * *
In the restaurant across the street, George Harrison felt his face grow
hot and schooled his expression into a rigid mask to hide his true feelings
as he watched his little brother looking for him. Richard was naive in
a lot of things but he wasn't stupid. He'd noticed the subtle message
George had left behind during the few minutes Richard had been occupied
in the storeroom. The Schlatters had never met him so to them, George
appeared to be a browsing customer and nothing more.
Richard finally hopped down from the bench, still looking around, growing
disappointment and anxiety growing on his face. He mouthed the word, "George,"
one last time before frowning and returning to work. George let out the
deep breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. He was still angry at
Richard, deeply, terribly upset at his betrayal but looking at the lost
look on Richard's face, it was all George could do to stay seated. Despite
what he might have said to Maddox earlier, he never could stand to see
his little brother unhappy like that.
He remembered what it had been like when they were kids and their father
had left. Mom had been an emotional wreck and it had fallen to him to
take care of Rich. When he needed help at school, George would put his
own homework aside to work with him. The neighborhood bullies soon learned
that picking on Richard meant a rather unpleasant encounter with George
later. He'd made sure that Richard's childhood innocence hadn't been stripped
away as his had been, and they had been closer than mere brothers. They'd
been each other's best friend up until the Air Force and even then, he'd
never felt as faraway from Rich as he did right now.
Pulling out his wallet to pay for the coffee he hadn't touched, the rough
edge of a piece of slick paper brushed against his fingers. George took
it out and carefully unfolded it. He had torn it from a magazine he'd
seen at a newsstand in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. It was a shot from
the last Quarryman rally, a bit grainy from being enlarged, of Richard
and that lavender female holding hands. There was a story there, George
was sure of it. They were smiling but Rich's eyes were sad, resigned and
it was that look that made him want to hear Richard's side of it -- before
he killed the gargoyle that turned his brother away from him.
He crumpled the magazine clipping in his fingers.
And if they were lovers, he'd kill them both.
* * * * *
Richard paced nervously on the roof of his apartment building, watching
his breath steam in the frigid air. A movement in the corner of his eye
caught his attention and he cast his eyes skywards. "Angela!"
he called as he waved her in. He took a step back to look at the others
with her, two gargoyle kids and a gargoyle pup about the size of a Labrador
retriever. The green-skinned beaked boy gargoyle set the little beast
down and it promptly barreled into Richard, woofing and wagging its stubby
tail as it knocked him down.
"Oh, you're ferocious, you are!" Richard told the drooling
creature as it washed his face. "You must lick people to death."
"Uh, sorry," the young male said, lifting the heavy gargoyle
pup easily. "Nudnik gets a little excited when we take him along."
"I can see that," Richard replied as Angela helped him up.
He smiled at the younger gargoyles. "Taking the rookies out for a
"Something like that," Angela agreed. "This is Ariana,
Graeme and you've met Nudnik." The immature gargoyle beast wagged
his stub of a tail like a propeller.
"Sorry, pup...I don't have any food on me, just chewing gum."
"Oh, he loves chewing gum," Graeme said cheerfully. "Strawberry-Banana-Rama
is his favorite flavor." Nudnik whined and wiggled in his master's
Richard laughed and unwrapped a stick of gum for the beast, who nibbled
at it delicately. "If you teach him to blow bubbles, I'm calling
that talk show with the dumb pet tricks."
The red-skinned young female shook her mane of long, black hair, tiny
beads clinking together. "Oh, pul-leeeeze!" Ariana whined in
sisterly annoyance. "He'll just drool all night now."
"What are you complaining about?" Graeme retorted, roguish
glint in his eye. "I'm the one carrying him. If you get caught in
the spray, it's not MY fault, is it?"
"Well, I thought they were brother and sister from the noses, but
this clinches it," Richard said to Angela. He sighed and led her
away from the bickering twins. "Speaking of sibling rivalry, George
is back in town."
Angela put her hand on his arm. "You've spoke to him?"
"No, but he was at the drugstore I work at this afternoon."
He turned away and looked out at the street. "Whenever George was
angry at me, he'd never raise his hand to me. Dad used to hit him and
he swore he'd never, ever treat me that way. Instead, George would give
me the silent treatment. If he had to communicate with me, he'd do it
without speaking, like a twisted game."
"What did he do?"
"His favorite children's book was 'Curious George' and somebody
came in, pulled every one of those books out and put them on the front
of the book racks, every row." He hung his head. "It's George's
way of telling me he's back in town and that he's really mad at me."
"Richard, maybe it isn't your brother, maybe it's just a prank."
"No, Mrs. Schlatter said that there was a man in the store just
before it happened that reminded her a bit of me. Her eyesight's not the
greatest but it's too much of a coincidence."
"Well, I'll pass the word and we'll keep an eye out." Angela
reached out and patted Richard's good shoulder. "He'll forgive you
eventually. It's what family's all about."
He put his hand on top of hers. "I hope so. I'd give anything to
talk to him right now." A high-pitched squeal from Ariana drew their
attention and they both watched the twins laughing and hurling snow at
each other, Nudnik running between them, barking excitedly. Richard laughed.
"Hey, if those two can patch it up, there's got to hope for me and
Angela was laughing too much at the twins' antics to do more than smile
and nod in agreement.
* * * * *
His fingers tightened on the night vision binoculars as George watched
Richard and the gargoyle laughing together on the rooftop. They seemed
too comfortable with each other, too friendly for his taste. He could
imagine them doing other things as well. The bile rose in his throat.
George stuffed the binoculars savagely into his backpack and stalked
through the empty apartment. He'd picked a tall building a few streets
over from Rich's place to do his surveillance and had broken into a corner
penthouse which belonged to a couple named Yale according the mail laying
out on the table. He jerked the refrigerator open and looked for the familiar
white-striped red cans of his favorite brand of cola but found only bottled
spring water, deli boxes of leftover pasta salad, and caviar. He slammed
the door shut in disgust. Maybe he was a little jaded, hanging out with
bikers for the last few weeks, but he considered cola a dietary staple.
What kind of preppie freaks were these people anyway?
He spied the phone and pulled a business card out of his pocket. He was
a little surprised at how quickly his call was answered.
"Nicholas Maddox here," said the voice on the other end of
"Mr. Maddox," George said, slightly taken back. "I'm sorry
to be calling so late. I thought I'd get your voice mail."
"Think nothing of it, Mr. Harrison. I keep my own hours. How can
I help you?"
"I've make my decision." He took a deep breath and let it out.
"I'm ready. I'll do it. When do you want to start this procedure
"Very, very good, Mr. Harrison. I'm delighted to have you,"
Maddox said with conservative enthusiasm. "Be at my office around
nine o'clock tomorrow morning."
"I'll be looking forward to it." George hung up the phone and
glared out the window. The roof of Richard's building was bare. He stared
out at the night while a soft snow filtered down to erase all evidence
of the gargoyles' passing.
* * * * *
II. -- Catharsis
January 13, 1997
Maddox Technologies, Research & Development Labs.
"And these are our R&D laboratories," Mavis O'Connor was
saying as the elevator doors opened and she stepped out with Nicholas
Maddox and George Harrison in tow. "It's here that we've been conductin'
research into cybernetics, nanotechnology, computer wetware, and of course,
genetic research." She indicated a door at the end of the hall. "Right
An aristocratic-looking man with graying brown hair in a white lab coat
greeted them effusively. "Mr. Maddox! Ms. O'Connor! How delightful
to see you again!" He turned his oily charms on George. "And
is this our volunteer?"
Mavis stayed a few steps out of range. "This is George Harrison."
She rested her long fingers on George's shoulder. "This is Dr. Anton
Sevarius, the geneticist in charge of our bioengineering project."
"Welcome aboard, my dear boy!" Sevarius exclaimed as he shook
George's hand. He kept his grip, checking George's pulse and feeling his
biceps under his jacket. "Yes, yes! We'll have to run a full physical
but he's an excellent specimen. I can do a bang-up job with this!"
George retrieved his hand, wiping it against his pants leg and serendipitously
turned his back to the wall. Mavis noted his actions and smiled wryly.
She leaned towards him and said in a low voice, "Don't let his personality
bother you. It might seem as if the good doctor's been through one too
many showings of 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' but I've never caught
him prancin' around the lab in a corset yet."
Sevarius looked up sharply and George choked back a laugh with a snort.
Another doctor led George away to do a full physical work-up and to prep
him for the procedure. Maddox leisurely strolled over to a Plexiglas case.
"Is this the formula?" he asked casually.
"Yes," Sevarius answered. "That's the catalyst."
He laughed harshly. "One of my assistants has dubbed it 'The Changling
Factor.' A bit fanciful, perhaps, but aptly named."
A technician stepped into the lab. "Doctor, the tank's up and fully
"Ah, if you'll excuse me," Sevarius said as he started walking
to the door, "I want to go over the final checklist. We want this
to be perfect, don't we?"
"Yes, we most certainly do." Maddox waved him aside. "Take
your time, doctor." When Sevarius had left the room, both Maddox
and Mavis became alert and wary. Maddox opened the case and took out the
vial of pink-tinted liquid. His sharp gray eyes focused on the substance
in the tube, as if his intense stare was dissecting it on a molecular
level. He chanted something, low under his breath, in Latin. A pinpoint
of neon pink light appeared in the center of the vial, irradiating the
fluid, making it glow for a few seconds, leaving a spreading pink halo
effect before fading.
Maddox turned the vial, examining it briefly before returning it to the
case. He turned back to Mavis, a faint smile curving his lips.
"Well?" she asked anxiously, eagerness lighting her eyes, turning
them a brilliant green. "Did it work?"
Maddox nodded. "We shall see."
* * * * *
George eyed the peculiar one-piece bodysuit they had insisted that he
wear as he reclined on the examining table. It was composed of a large,
open, mesh-like material with openings for sensors that the doctor and
his assistant were applying at various pressure points. "What exactly
is going to happen here?" he asked finally.
"Well, my dear boy," Sevarius said with oily charm, "you're
wearing the latest in medical technology, a sensory web that will pick
up the most minute impulses from your nerve synapses. We're attaching
leads to collect E.K.G., brain activity, and other standard information."
"Sounds like you plan on keeping me here a while," George commented,
wincing as the assistant slid the IV shunt home. He was beginning to feel
"Just relax," Sevarius said as he injected something from a
hypothermic into the IV. "Think of this as your home away from home."
"What?" George shot a look at Maddox and Mavis. "Just
how long am I gonna...be...herrreee....?" His voice faded away as
the sedative took effect.
Sevarius straightened out the young man's limbs and snapped out, "Let's
get him in the tank!" His assistant and two orderlies transferred
the limp body to a gurney and took him into the next room.
"I'm curious," Maddox said smoothly, "why did you bother
to tranquilize him? He was willing to cooperate."
The scientist snorted. "Oh, they always SAY that but the minute
things start to get interesting, they panic and then you've got a ransacked
lab, test subjects loose in the building, interfering busybodies on rescue
missions -- trust me, it's MUCH easier this way." He collected the
vial from the Plexiglas case and gestured extravagantly. "Shall we?"
The orderlies were lowering George's unconscious body into a cylindrical
tank half-filled with a viscous fluid. A headpiece including visor, earphones
and air mask had been fitted over his face, its purpose clear as the tank
continued filling until he was totally immersed. Sevarius fitted the vial
into the base of the tank and they watched as the pinkish fluid filled
"That's it for now," the geneticist announced. "The Fluorosol-DA
emulsion has been oxygenated, the sensory net is registering properly,
all the tubes and wires are in place and the subliminal learning software
is ready to go." He looked up at George, floating in the chemical
solution. "If he survives the conversion, this will have been a VERY
interesting experiment indeed."
Maddox and Mavis exchanged an enigmatic look and left the lab.
* * * * *
January 17, 1997
Excerpts from lab notes, Dr. Anton Sevarius, recording.
"Test subject entering fourth day after being inoculated with the
'Changling Factor.' The as-of-yet-to-be-determined genetic material has
begun bonding to the test subject's DNA strands and the projected mutations
have begun. Even now, the internal organs have become more efficient.
The cardiovascular system is transferring oxygen at a much higher rate
than human norm. His immune system, in particular, has become hyperactive.
Could this technique be considered as a possible AIDS cure? Must make
a note of that as a possible money-making venture.
"In the past few hours, the test subject's bio-electrical field
has been spiking. This has led to around-the-clock monitoring so that
the resulting power surges do not burn out the equipment. Brain activity
has also increased, indicating that although subject is in a drug-induced
coma, something is definitely going on in there."
* * * * *
The world was filled with rivers of light. George watched them flowing
all around him and wondered how he'd missed seeing them before. They were
everywhere, ribbons of energy passing through land, sky and water. He
felt drawn to their electric beauty. As he grew closer, he could see universes
dying and being reborn in an endless cycle. He reached out and touched
The energy surged through his body, numbing and stimulating at the same
time. It was like the most intense pleasure he'd ever had times a hundred.
His neural synapses were firing, his very molecules vibrating faster and
faster until the entity known as George Harrison flew apart and became
one with the light.
Past, present and future versions of himself collided, minute atoms crashing
together and building to higher levels of energy. It became a solid thing
in his hands, a malleable substance to use according to his own desires.
As he poured brilliant streamers of energy from hand to hand, George realized
that as of this moment, the world truly could be exactly what he made
* * * * *
January 23, 1997
Maddox Technologies, R&D Labs.
Nicholas Maddox leaned against his silver-headed cane as he stared into
the cylindrical chamber as he did every day at this time. He stood so
still, head slightly cocked, unblinking, scarcely breathing, that Sevarius
wondered what precisely his employer was looking at. The test subject
was at rest presently and hardly doing anything worth noticing. The anomalies
with his bio-electric field had gradually leveled out, although the initial
power surges had been spectacular.
"Doctor?" Maddox asked quietly. "Have you begun the subliminal
Sevarius checked his computer screen. "My assistant started the
tapes thirty-six hours ago. EKG activity has been fairly high but at the
moment he's in alpha rhythms."
"Alpha rhythms?" The hawk-faced man still had not turned to
speak to the scientist directly. His eerie focus was unsettling.
"He's sleeping," Sevarius answered. "Or to be more precise,
he's dreaming. Ideal condition for implanting the subliminal information."
Maddox nodded and allowed himself a small smile. "Good."
* * * * *
George wrinkled his forehead. Latin? He didn't know Latin from Greek
and yet in his mind's eye, he could see lightning flashing and smell the
discharge of ozone in the air. His hands tingled and raw power crackled
as it arced over his head. He saw the gargoyles flying overhead and as
he sent the lightning shooting skywards, the release of energy surged
through him in an orgasmic rush.
* * * * *
"Omnes conspecti, Omnes auditi
In nocte usque ad saxum commutate
Dum caelum ardeat!"
His limbs became stiff and heavy. George looked down to see his skin
becoming gray and mottled, like finely grained granite, like.... his blood
ran cold with the realization.... like a gargoyle. He began to lose sensation
as more and more of his body became entombed in stone.
* * * * *
Water lapped against the sides of the small wooden boat. George found
himself with a long pole, propelling his craft through thick mists, to
where, he had no idea. Land was somewhere near. He could smell wet pine
needles and wildflowers blending in with the salt of the ocean and the
musty smell of the boat.
A breeze lifted the foggy veil for a few seconds and he caught his breath
in astonishment. George had never seen the island that lay before him
in his life and yet he felt such deep heartsick longing for it. The rolling
green hills, the lush forests, everything about the land laying in front
of him seemed familiar. He pushed down on the pole and propelled the skiff
forward towards the harbor, a blazing caldron high atop a cliff to guide
wayward travelers safely home.
The hairs on his forearms stood on end and his skin prickled as the energy
lines all around flared to life, so many that the iridescent shimmers
blotted out the surroundings in blinding white light. Three women appeared,
suspended in their own ethereal glow, barring his way.
The dark-haired one in the center spoke.
"Know this, mortal man, and know it well,
Never on our fair isle may you dwell."
The blonde picked up the refrain seamlessly.
"No more son of Adam as you were from your birth,
Your soul now suspended twixt heaven and earth."
The last, with hair of silver moonbeams, spoke.
"Choose well your allies o'er the coming storm,
Or abandon forever your rightful form."
All three women lifted their arms as the wind rose with a howl. George
fell to his hands and knees in the bottom of the boat as he was tossed
on the violent waves, back into the mists. He looked back and caught a
glimpse of the island before it faded from view. Without explanation or
reason, his heart broke into a million pieces and an overwhelming sense
of despair swept over him.
* * * * *
III. -- Transformation
January 29, 1997
Maddox Technologies, Recovery Room.
"He's reached transition!"
"All right," Sevarius' voice said above the background noise.
"I want ten c.c.s of adrenaline and a cardiac needle. Let's bring
him out of it."
Up in the executive offices, Maddox, Mavis and Garlon watched intently
as George was removed dripping from the tube. Sevarius and his staff swarmed
over the body as they began to revive him.
Mavis looked over at Maddox. "Do you think it worked?"
He arched an eyebrow. "We will see." He flicked a look at Garlon.
"I want him up and running as soon as possible. Use any means necessary."
* * * * *
A nasty, licorice taste was in his mouth and every inhalation brought
the sickly sweet smell deeper into his lungs. George coughed and the jerky
movement brought on an unavoidable wave of nausea. He fought it back,
gritting his teeth.
"Hey, mack. You okay over there?" a low growl of a voice asked.
George cracked an eye open and wished he hadn't. The room was so bright.
He tried cover his eyes with his hand but it was like his muscles were
made of rubber. He gave up, swallowed and croaked, "Where am I?"
"You're in the Medical Wing. They just uncorked you this morning,"
the voice answered. "I've been here two days. The name's Wolf."
"Hiya, Wolf." George narrowed his eyes and managed a glimpse
of a rather hirsute muscular figure with white hair and beard. He smacked
his lips and grimaced.
"Mouth tastes nasty, don't it?"
"It's that clear goop they put in the tubes with us. You can even
breathe it but I don't know of anyone that might want to." Wolf snorted.
"Nurse'll give you something for the nausea but that taste will be
with you for a while. I still get a whiff of it."
"Swell," George groaned.
* * * * *
Dr. Sevarius and the medical staff were in not long after, poking and
probing. Even with the room dimmed to the lowest light setting, George's
acute photosensitivity persisted. Finally, a pair of sunglasses were appropriated
and the smoky lenses seemed to cut the glare. The anti-nausea medicines
were administered and he had gained enough strength to move around by
the end of the day.
The bathroom was another shock. After a long shower, George started in
on the scraggly beard he'd woken up with. He wondered exactly how long
he'd been under; the last time he'd had this much hair on his face was
when he'd been out camping and his Cancun tan was long gone. Something
had bleached his hair a reddish gold with dark auburn roots. He fingered
a longish strand and frowned. It was much longer than he preferred to
wear it and when he was combing it irritably away from his face, he got
another rude surprise. His ears were ... pointed.
George craned his head and examined them carefully. He may have not made
many aesthetic appraisals of his ears in the past but he was positive
they had been rounded before, not curving up into sharp points. He squinted
through the sunglasses at them. That was another weird thing. Sevarius
told him that his eyes would gradually re-adjust but it wasn't the room
lights that were bothering him. It had to be some sort of optical illusion
but there were streamers of blue-white light wherever he looked. They
gave off a brilliant radioactive glow. He felt stronger when he came close
to one and he felt there was something he was supposed to do with it,
but what that might be escaped him.
He dressed in a comfortable old T-shirt and boxers and padded back to
his hospital bed. Wolf's bed was empty; he'd been released into the custody
of a long-haired Hispanic man with an eye patch. George tried to get comfortable
but sleep did not come easily. His body was aching from his brief activity
after weeks of stillness and his head felt like his brains were covered
in gray fuzz. As he dozed, the whispering in his mind grew louder, a litany
of Latin phrases that made no sense at all. When sleep finally came, it
was troubled and fretful.
* * * * *
February 6, 1997
Maddox Technologies, Gymnasium.
"I don't know, bro," Hyena said as she watched her brother
go through his martial arts routine, out of habit, if nothing else. Since
their cybernization, it had seemed a little silly to her to keep up their
workouts. "It's a big step."
"What's to worry about, sis?" Jackal said, his eyes on the
mirror, following his movements. "It's just an upgrade."
"Point is, it's THE upgrade. Don't-pass-Go, the point of no return."
She crossed her arms and leaned against the wall. "I've always known
I'd never be another suburban housewife, but when we go under the knife
this time, it's forever."
Jackal stopped and looked at his sister, his normal mocking expression
softening. "We'll be unstoppable. No one will ever hurt us again."
His eyes focused inward. "We'll be immortal."
"But will we still be human?" Hyena watched Wolf working out
on the weigh equipment, growling ferally with his exertions. She let her
gaze wander to the lone figure at the far end of the gym. The leanly muscled
man was going through his own katas, a blend of tai chi, karate, tae kwon
do, and number of others that looked familiar but Hyena couldn't find
a name for. He bent over for a stretch and she yelled, "Hey, nice
Jackal smirked. "What a wuss! You know what his name is? George."
He laughed mockingly. "'Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie!'"
"Ha, ha!" Hyena called out, "Betcha if you'd kiss this
girl, I'd make YOU cry!"
The target of their jibes ignored them and that just infuriated them
* * * * *
Garlon found Greywolf in the darkened security room, watching the activity
in the gymnasium. George was still going through his katas, ignoring the
Pack heckling from the other side of the gym. Garlon gestured at the screen.
"What do you think of him?"
"He's got to be ex-military," Lobo said, not taking his eyes
from the screen. "He's got that blend of disciplines technique that
they like to use. If he's not black belt, he's close enough."
"Air Force. He was hand-picked to go into their intelligence corp."
"It shows." Lobo pointed at the Pack. "They've been giving
him a hard time but he just ignores them and lets it roll off his back."
The non-descript man nodded and continued to watch the monitors. George
had moved on to some of the equipment. According to the dossier Garlon
had gathered on George Harrison, he had been a moderately good gymnast
in high school and it showed as he worked out on the pommel horse and
the parallel bars. He seemed to have regained his strength and agility
Maddox had been watching George's daily progress from his office monitors
and was getting impatient. Realistically, the executive accepted Sevarius's
assurances that the catalyst had bonded successfully to the human DNA
strands and that the test results so far analyzed had been positive. Young
Harrison had recovered fairly quickly and had been a regular visitor to
the company gymnasium, exercising gently at first, regaining flexibility
and coordination before moving on to more complex martial arts routines
and weight training. Outside of a startling show of strength, there had
been no outward sign of any other changes. George kept any revelations
to himself, he spent his days quiet and introspective.
Long fingers tapped against crossed arms. "How do you think he'd
fare against your team?" Garlon asked thoughtfully.
"No contest," Lobo said confidently. "They'd cream him."
"Let's find out."
* * * * *
"C'mon, bud," Wolf called out. "Three more reps and you're
done with this set."
George set his jaw and lifted the weights overhead. The truth was, he
was barely straining and he was at least a hundred pounds over his personal
best. He saw the security chief and Maddox's assistant come in and frowned.
Something was making the hair on the back of his neck stand up.
"Uh, oh, the boss is here," Wolf commented. "Hope you're
done 'cause I've got to go."
"No problem, thanks for spotting me." George sat up on the
bench and watched the odd group meeting at the end of the gym. Wolf had
talked about his partners, Jackal and Hyena. The thought of someone willingly
mutilating their bodies in order to gain cybernetic abilities turned George's
stomach. He fingered the pointed tips of his ears. At least his procedure
had left him his humanity, with only minor cosmetic changes. He picked
up his towel and started to walk to the showers.
"Going somewhere, Georgie-porgie?" Jackal asked mockingly.
The one-eyed cyborg blocked his way.
George ignored him and kept walking. He ran into a hairy wall and was
shocked to see Wolf growing more feral and beast-like before his eyes.
The werewolf growled out, "Nuthin' personal. Orders is orders."
The punch was telegraphed by the contraction of Wolf's chest muscles,
but even though George rolled with it, it still packed a wallop. He backflipped
out of Wolf's reach but missed the third member of the Pack. She didn't
"Go get him, sis!" Jackal called.
Her kick caught George under the right arm. He caught a gamine grin of
pure malice as Hyena bore down on him. She must have been quite a looker
before all the cybernetic bodywork. He looked into her eyes as he blocked
her punches. There was something there, a deep longing for ... he had
a sudden flash of insight, he couldn't explain why, but in an instant,
he knew what he had to do. It was risky but his instincts were telling
him what he had to do. He dropped his guard and crossed his fingers.
George hit the mats hard, Hyena landing on top of him. Panting, he stared
up at her but strangely enough, his eyes began to gleam eagerly and he
smiled wickedly. "That's right," he said in a hoarse voice.
"Hurt me again. Ple-e-ease." George licked his bleeding lip
with the tip of his tongue. "Mistress." The word came out in
a seductive whisper.
Hyena actually backed off for a minute or two, her mouth open in gleeful
astonishment. "All right! Finally a guy that's kinkier than me!"
She pinned his arms down and kissed George deeply. Licking his blood off
her mouth, she said, "Mmmm, and tasty too."
"What's going on here?" Wolf asked, pointing. "Did I miss
Jackal ran his hand down his face and sighed in exasperation. "Sis,
quit playing around and take him out."
George gave her his most winning grin. "Sounds like a plan. Wanna
go out, brown eyes?" He began humming Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed
Girl" under his breath. "We'll do anything you want."
"Yeah," Hyena said. She stood up and pulled George to his feet.
"One last fling before I do it." She turned around and glared
at her brother and Wolf. "You got a problem with that?"
"Fine, whatever," Jackal said, rolling his eyes. "Have
fun with your little boy toy while he lasts."
Garlon and Lobo watched the exchange with amused interest. Lobo turned
to the man next to him and commented, "Now either that hombre has
major cujones or else he's muy loco."
"Tell me about it," Garlon said. He followed George into the
locker room and found him peering into a mirror dabbing at the cut on
his lip with a wet towel. Garlon leaned up against the wall. "That
was very risky out there," he said brusquely. "She could have
"Impossible," George said. "I was calling the shots."
"Excuse me?" Garlon raised his eyebrow. "That's not what
it looked like from where I was sitting."
"In any dominant/submissive situation, it's always the submissive
that calls the shots." George pulled his gray T-shirt off stiffly
and examined the bruises under his right arm. "The minute I gave
her the option of hurting me, she chose not to and let me take over. I
told her what to do and it saved me some broken ribs."
The man with mousy brown hair thought it over. "Man, you are majorly
George flung his shirt over his shoulder and smirked. "Adapt, improvise,
* * * * *
"He did WHAT?" Although Maddox seldom raised his voice, the
stress he placed on his words spoke volumes.
"He went on a date," Garlon said levelly. "With Hyena."
"That harridan?" Mavis asked, aghast. "I'd be thinkin'
he'd have better taste."
Garlon shrugged. "It seems he's got some kinks we didn't know about."
"And he showed no sign of using his power?" Maddox asked. The
only visible sign of his anger was the measured flaring of his nostrils.
"There was a moment there when I felt something," Garlon admitted.
"But it was very fleeting, almost a ghost touch. He used his wits
and nothing else."
"I'm going to say this only once and I'm going to make this very
clear." Maddox's gray eyes blazed with cold fire. "I want results
and I don't care if you kill him getting them."
"I understand." Garlon turned and left the room.
* * * * *
February 7, 1997
Atlantic City, New Jersey
The Stardust Hotel & Casino
"Woo hoo!" Hyena crowed as they came back to their suite above
the casino. She had donned a plasti-skin body glove to conceal her cybernetics
and almost seemed like a normal girl, most of the time. Her high-pitched
laugh had stopped dealers and players in their tracks, however, and the
comedians at the comedy club were probably still cringing. "What
a great time I'm having!" She looked at George hungrily. "And
the night's not over yet, snake hips."
A moment of panic passed as George pasted a seductive grin on his face.
He'd been dreading this moment ever since he'd used Hyena and her security
clearance to get him away from the Maddox building and the hidden cameras
that he was sure followed him everywhere. He cleared his mind of such
anxieties and took her hand. "I ask only one thing, before you do
what you will with me." His voice was low and suggestive, his blue
eyes wide and trusting.
Hyena squirmed and grinned eagerly. She liked this game. "What is
it, boy toy?"
George smiled and led her to the bed. "All I want in the world,"
he said slowly, "is to look in those big beautiful brown eyes of
yours and tell you how beautiful you are and how much I want to pleasure
you." Listen to the words behind my words, he whispered in his mind
as he held her vapid gaze unblinkingly. Believe only what I tell you and
Obey only me.... He spiraled into her mind, images of Hyena's
life, as cybernetic mercenary, as acrobatic media superstar, and beyond
... to a vulnerable, young girl lost, alone, and long forgotten.
Hyena stared blankly into space, her breath shallow, mouth slightly open.
George let out a long drawn out breath and smirked. He'd toyed around
with hypnotism before but he'd never had a reaction like this. A gut feeling
had told him to try and it had worked. There had been impulses he'd been
fighting for days, things that his brain said were impossible but his
instincts were screaming to try. He looked into Hyena's blank stare and
"You're getting very sleepy, Hyena," George said calmly. "You're
going to lay back in this bed and sleep for the next twenty-four hours.
All you will remember is I gave you the wildest and most fulfilling weekend
of your life. It'll be wonderful. And when I give you the following code
words, you will instantly do whatever I say." He leaned forward and
whispered in her ear. He leaned back and asked. "Do you understand?
"Yes." The word was flat and unemotional.
"Good." George pushed her down on the bed like a mannequin.
"Go to sleep."
Hyena obediently closed her eyes. George collected his things and left,
locking her in the room without a second glance.
* * * * *
The night air was cold and bit into his lungs as George walked the mostly
abandoned boardwalk, the signs on the buildings casting garish neon shadows
to echo the bright streamers of light all around him. He'd finally gotten
used to them, at night anyway; he still replied on sunglasses to cut the
glare during the day. One wide beam of blue-white energy ran parallel
to the beach. George shuffled through the sand towards it.
He looked around carefully. It had become clear to him days ago that
only he could see these things. People walked through them all the time
and it took a conscious effort not to flinch when they did it. However,
when George touched them, he got a sharp static charge followed by an
incredible surge of energy. There was something he'd been meaning to try
and the abandoned winter beach seemed the ideal place.
Feet tingling through the soles of his boots, George felt the power surging
though him as he stepped on the ground-bound ribbon of energy. It felt
slippery beneath his feet and as a whim, he pushed off as if he were skating.
The first stride took him halfway up the beach, the second farther still.
He grinned, shifted his leather overnight bag so it was slung across his
back and began traveling back along the stream of energy, speed building
as he focused on his destination.
The scenery blurred around him in multicolored horizontal streaks. He
stopped his footwork, the increasing velocity of his glide propelling
him on. It was like riding down an empty highway in the dead of night,
throttle full open, feeling the vibration from the engine in your teeth.
George whooped as the lights of New York City loomed on the horizon. He
grinned as the world zoomed by. What a rush!
He sailed over the Hudson River in a rainbow arc, gradually slowing as
he peaked over the water. Jumping off as he reached the other side, George
found himself in a seedy neighborhood just outside of Chinatown. A snap
of his fingers let loose a shower of sparks and he regarded the shimmering
of energy beneath his skin. There had been a number of things he'd daydreamed
of doing with this kind of power. This might be the ideal time for a little
private experimentation, away from prying eyes. He grinned, shouldered
his bag and went looking for trouble.
* * * * *
February 9, 1997
The neatly groomed executive watched George entering the building on
the monitor bank. A vein pulsed in his forehead as Maddox carefully and
deliberately spoke. "You say, he eluded you again?"
"Yes, sir." Garlon flipped a leatherbound notepad open. "He
and Hyena were all over Atlantic City but when I checked on them, only
Hyena was in their suite at the Stardust Casino. Hotel employees didn't
notice him after Friday night."
"This is intolerable," Maddox fumed. He looked at Mavis. "Is
"Aye, and we've got two more volunteers." She glanced at the
screen. "What about young Harrison?"
"Dispose of him," Maddox said bluntly.
Garlon nodded and left the room.
* * * * *
Wolf leaned forward and looked across the breakfast table at the picture
on the cover of 'The Daily Tattler' that Jackal was reading. "'Asian
youth gang wiped out by mysterious assailant. Coroner's office baffled.'"
He straightened up and frowned. "What's it mean?"
Jackal snorted. "There's a loose cannon in town." He shook
out the paper. "Says here that some kind of charged weapon was used.
According to the coroner's report, the wounds were cauterized on impact.
Maybe somebody modified some of the Quarryman hammers."
A maniacal laugh from the doorway caught their attention. Hyena sauntered
in lazily, a satiated grin on her face. She flopped down, legs dangling
over the arm of the couch. "Hiya, boys," she said cheerfully,
stretching her arms over her head. "Wunnerful day, isn't it?"
Wolf raised a bushy eyebrow. "Somebody got hammered around here
anyway," he commented, shaking his head.
"So, sis," Jackal began as he folded up the paper. "How
was the weekend? Boy toy survived the experience?"
"Hmmm-MMM!" Hyena smiled and ran her hands down her body. "I
had the BEST time. George was incredible." She sighed. "He likes
me just the way I am. I'm not going through with it."
"It's IN your contract," Jackal reminded her testily.
"I don't care," Hyena answered. "Maddox can have my signing
Her brother rolled his eye and sighed. "Sis, why is your biological
clock ticking NOW? You know what's at stake."
Hyena sat up, glaring at him through her shaggy brown hair. "I know
what it'll cost me. Maybe you want to be immortal, Mr. Fifteen-minutes-as-a-god,
but I want live and feel and be me right now. You go your way and I'll
The cybernized twins were still staring each other down when Lobo came
into the room. He gave them a hard look and glanced at Wolf. The bearded
man merely shrugged and concentrated on shoveling in the rest of his breakfast.
"Okay, team," Lobo said briskly. "Maddox wants us to take
care of a little problem. Let's go."
* * * * *
Something was up. The prickling on the back of George's neck was spreading
down his spine. The mousy-haired man that served as Maddox's assistant
had come into the gym without a word and was leaning against the wall
watching him. George tucked his sunglasses into one of his shoes and began
one of his t'ai chi routines. Since he'd learned to channel the energy
around him, the glare was getting almost bearable. He took a deep cleansing
breath and moved into the first forms, to all appearances a model of concentration
but behind the mask, his curiosity was growing.
Angry voices were coming closer. Hyena, George cringed inwardly, was
the loudest, her raw-edged tones rising above the others.
"No! I don't believe it!" Hyena came bursting through the gym
Lobo simply looked at her. "It's an order," he said bluntly.
"Carry it out."
In a fraction of a heartbeat, several things fell into place in George's
mind. The sudden alertness in Garlon's slumped pose against the wall,
the rabid eagerness in Jackal's step, and the outraged concern in Hyena's
voice. All his internal alarms and buzzers went off. George centered himself,
eased into the next set of postures and scanned the room. Several light
lines intersected the room. It was funny but coming back from his weekend
out, he'd noticed that Maddox Technologies was positioned at one of the
central points for the strange beams of energy in the city. He began to
travel with his t'ai chi movements, edging towards the nearest ribbon
"Baby," Hyena said, walking across the room. "It's not
true, is it?"
He gave her the barest of looks. "Baby? Who ARE you talking to?"
She stopped, her mouth opening and shutting. "B-but this weekend,
you and me, we --"
"Sorry, sweetheart," George said with a smirk. "But I'm
just not interested in a woman whose idea of body lotion is motor oil."
He deliberately turned his back on her and started walking away.
A high-pitched, wordless, emotional screech conveyed all of Hyena's anger
and indignation as she unsheathed her finger blades at once. Jackal chuckled
and said to Wolf and Lobo, "The romance is gone. He's hamburger."
Hyena lunged at him. George put one bare foot in the power stream and
let it surge over him. Hyena bounced off like she was hitting a brick
Garlon's mouth dropped open and he shot a startled glance at the room's
hidden security cameras.
"What the--" Hyena touched her face gingerly and stared at
the blood on her fingers. "You little two-faced jerk! You broke my
nose!" A weapon popped out of her forearm casing and she fired at
him point blank.
Eyes glowing, hair standing eerily on end, George grinned at her through
the resulting smoke. "Naughty, naughty. Daddy spank!" He aimed
at open-handed slap at her, with a resulting blue-white wave of energy
that caught her and hurled her head over heels across the room.
"Sis!" Jackal fired a salvo of missiles before bolting for
Hyena. They impacted harmlessly off the now visible energy surge surrounding
"Wolf!" Lobo shouted as he ran forward. "High-low, let's
George thrust both hands forward and sent a sparkling blast of concussive
force at the Pack leader. Lobo hit the wall only inches from Garlon. The
nondescript man tucked his cell phone under his chin while he checked
the stunned man. "Are you watching this?" Garlon asked into
the phone as he glanced up at the action.
* * * * *
"Aye, that we are," Mavis answered absently as she and Maddox
stood transfixed in front of the video monitors in the executive office.
They watched as Wolf shifted into a more feral form, dodging the force
blasts George was firing at him. The enhanced ex-Quarryman did the impossible
-- he started skating away only inches from the floor, gaining in speed
while Wolf chased him. He jumped from the floor to a point on the wall
just before he collided, continuing his run horizontal to the floor, as
incongruous as that appeared.
"He's learned how to use the ley lines," Mavis said to her
partner in a hushed voice. "I haven't seen anyone do this since,
"My brother's aide-de-camp," Maddox agreed. His eager smile
grew as George back-flipped off the wall and attacked Wolf, his body still
guarded in an energy field. "It seems we may have our own trickster
in our midst."
"Ye might want t'be gettin' down there before he kills the lot of
them," Mavis pointed out. "We haven't gotten our money's worth
out of the Pack yet."
"I'll take care of it," Maddox said as he headed for the door,
picking up his falcon-headed cane on the way.
* * * * *
"C'mon, Wolf," George grunted as he slammed the mutated mercenary
with a high round kick, "Give it up, dummy." He blocked his
opponent's advances as they became more savage and animalistic. Foam was
dripping from Wolf's mouth and any sounds he made were far removed from
any human language. George saw Hyena push her brother aside and start
his way with blood in her eye. He smiled wickedly.
"Georgie, porgie, puddin' and pie," George sang out, eyes blazing
blue fire, "I kissed ya, girl--" he hurled Wolf in a shoulder
throw, "--Now make him die!"
Hyena's right arm raised and fired. She stared at her weapon, her face
a mask of confusion and shock as the smell of burnt hair filled the air.
"What the--" she muttered. She looked up to see the arch smirk
on George's face. "What did you do to me?"
Jackal tackled George from behind, sending him sprawling. The cyborg
was on top of the transformed man, the impact of his blows dulled by George's
force field but somehow connecting. "Answer her!" Jackal demanded.
"What did you do to my sister?"
George looked up at his opponent coldly. "Hyena, girl," he
said in an even, calm voice, "Kill. Him."
Jackal glanced up at his sister. Her arm was shaking as she fought her
body's response to the post-hypnotic command. Her brown eyes were wide
with horrified realization as her voice trembled, "Bro...I can't....stop....!"
She screamed in frustration as her weapon began to charge.
"Sorry about this, Sis," Jackal muttered as he fired a taser
from his chest, its full charge over-loading his cybernetic sibling's
circuitry and knocking her unconscious. The force of the taser blast shifted
his weight and George used that minute leverage to turn the tables.
An unholy glee lit George's face and his eyes glowed incandescently.
"Who's on the cutting edge now, Tin Man?" he asked Jackal softly.
He raised up his fist and a blade of pure energy formed around it. "You're
obsolete. Prepare to be recycled." The energy knife began to come
down, aimed straight at Jackal's head.
George jerked his head up in the direction of the new voice. Maddox was
standing in the center of the gym floor, Garlon standing back and to the
right of him. The aristocratic man rested one hand on a silver falcon-headed
cane as he calmly regarded the chaotic war zone that had once been his
corporate exercise facility.
"Mr. Harrison." Maddox smiled archly. "Very impressive."
Rising to his feet, George walked over to the executive and his assistant
without a second glance. He was only a few feet from Maddox when Jackal
charged. A sharp look from the hawk-faced man warned George and he pivoted
around to release an energy blast. The invisible shock wave hurled Jackal
the length of the gym, leaving a body-shaped impression in the wall.
Maddox and Garlon exchanged an enigmatic look before George turned back.
"Sorry about that," George said, panting slightly and glistening
with a light sheen of sweat. "I don't like him very much."
Maddox nodded. "In that case, I pity the gargoyles."
"Their days are numbered," George agreed. "I think it's
time for some fieldwork."
"Indubitably." Maddox cast a brief glance over his shoulder.
"Garlon, see that Mr. Harrison has everything he needs. He's going
* * * * *
IV. -- Massacre
February 14, 1997
Castle Wyvern, Central Park South, Manhattan.
"But you and Angela promised!"
"Yeah, but that was before we found out about that special fund
raiser at the old opera house. Some of the acts are straight out of the
Brooklyn and Broadway glared at each other for a few seconds. The red
gargoyle took a deep breath and lowered his voice. "Look, Sata and
I were really looking forward to a night out, you know, just the two of
us." He gave his rookery brother a knowing look, rich with implication.
"My mate and I need to be alone sometimes."
"Oh." Broadway flushed crimson. "Hadn't thought of that.
Sorry." He sighed. "I don't know, Brooklyn. I've been wanting
to ask Angela something really important and this seemed like the perfect
"Yeah?" Brooklyn backed up to give the big blue gargoyle a
sly look. "I thought it was about time for that." He socked
his brother playfully in the arm. "Well, Hudson went on patrol with
Goliath and Lex and they took Bronx. Owen's still steamed about the mess
Nudnik made in the pantry. Sata and I will just have to do something else
with the twins."
"I agree, beloved." Both male gargoyles turned and Brooklyn's
eyes glowed appreciatively. His mate had brushed out her long hair like
an ebon waterfall and had changed into a feminine white kimono with elaborate
pale green embroidery. Sata smiled at his reaction. "Angela and I
have spoken and she's talking to a friend about it right now."
Brooklyn walked over and brushed his talons across Sata's brow ridges,
trailing his fingers down into her silken hair. "So, we're still
on?" he asked hopefully.
She kissed the end of his beak. "We will see."
* * * * *
Upper West Side, Manhattan.
"But, Dad...." The young gargoyle's whine trailed off as the
family glided through the night sky.
"No buts, Graeme," Brooklyn said firmly. "The last time
we left you two alone at the castle, you didn't keep an eye on Nudnik
and he made a huge mess."
Ariana glided level to her parents. "Not a babysitter, please, Mother?
We're over eighteen human years old."
"But Ari-chan," Sata said patiently, "you and Graeme-kun
are only nine in gargoyle age. Not even human parents leave their children
alone when they are so young. What sort of parents would your father and
I be if we did that?"
Ariana and Graeme exchanged an unhappy look behind their parents' back.
Brooklyn and Sata merely smiled as they began to spiral in for a landing
near the Columbia University campus.
"Hey!" Graeme yelped. "This is where Auntie's friend Richard
"Yeah! Angela took us to meet him only a few weeks ago," Ariana
added excitedly. "He's a nice human."
Richard was waiting for them when the gargoyle family touched down. "Hey,
kids! You're just in time. The theater down the street is having an Anime
fest. Wanna go?"
"Anime?" Graeme exclaimed loudly while Nudnik yipped in his
arms. "Are you kidding? I love Anime! What's showing?"
"Hmm, lessee..." Richard began ticking off titles on his fingers.
"There's 'Domination: Tank Police,' 'Project A-ko,' and 'Ghost in
the Shell.' There's a few others but I can't remember the names."
"Oh, too cool!" Ariana threw a big hug around her father's
neck. "Can you give Richard a lift to the theater, Dad? Please?"
She smiled impishly and batted her eyelashes at him.
Brooklyn laughed. "All right, all right." He rubbed eyebrow
ridges with his daughter. "Think you and Graeme can manage to bring
him back here after the show?"
"I know we can!" Ariana kissed him on the beak and danced over
to hug Sata. "Oh, thankyouthankyouthankyou!"
Richard laughed. "Gee, I don't think I was ever this happy being
left with the sitter."
Graeme leaned towards him. "Hey, we usually get left behind. This
is a big deal."
Brooklyn came over and took Richard securely under the arms. "Hope
you're not scared of heights," he said and jumped off the roof with
him. The human's excited yelp echoed off the surrounding buildings.
* * * * *
Sata waited as Brooklyn dropped Richard at the theater and gave the twins
last minute instructions. She smiled at his eager expression as her mate
soared on an updraft to her. "You seem happy, beloved," she
"Hey, the kids and Angela's friend are hitting it off, it's a beautiful
night, and I'm alone with you," Brooklyn said, taking her hand and
kissing it. His eyes glowed faintly as he looked his dark-haired mate
over again. "This outfit reminds me of your wedding kimono."
"I thought it might." Sata swung under and twined her arms
around his neck, their double pair of wings holding them aloft. "It
was a glorious night."
"So I remember," Brooklyn answered and tightened his arms around
her. Their tails twisted together. "Wanna relive it?"
A smile lit her eyes. "Always, beloved."
* * * * *
Richard watched the two adult gargoyles sailing off. They seemed very
affectionate and he laughed. "I guess it must be date night for your
folks, huh?" he asked Graeme.
The young green gargoyle bent down to scratch Nudnik's tummy. "Hmm?
Oh, them? They're just going off to mate." He picked a piece of wire
up, examined it, and stuck it inside his vest.
"Oh-kay." Richard blinked and muttered, "Kids say the
"Graeme!" Ariana patted the human's arm. "You'll have
to excuse my brother. He forgets that humans and gargoyles don't think
"No, that's all right." He smiled and ran his hand nervously
through his chestnut brown hair. He started opening the roof hatch. "C'mon,
let's see what's showing."
* * * * *
Perched on a rooftop, George watched his brother and the younger gargoyles
disappear into the theater. He shook his head as he put away the night
vision binoculars. Richard always could make friends with anything. It
didn't matter, he wasn't concerned with the offspring; it was the adults
he was after tonight.
A sharp cackle in his ear alerted him to an incoming transmission. "I'm
here," George muttered as he tapped the headset. "What's up?"
Garlon's voice reported. "The patrol group is sweeping south of
the park. A pair headed to the East Side, looks promising. What do you
George looked at the theater and frowned. "Lost 'em. I'll head over
to the East Side and check it out. On my way."
He stood up on the building's edge, clad in dark colors, blending with
the night. Scanning for his power sources, 'ley lines' Garlon called them,
George spotted two, both too high or too low to safely jump to directly.
Fortunately, they ran nearly parallel to each other and there was a faint
static field running between them. Reaching out to the ribbons of light
with his body's new abilities, he leaped off the building, charcoal gray
canvas coat billowing out like wings. It wasn't exactly flying, but rather
falling with style, letting the radiant energy dispersed by the ley lines
Landing like a cat, George began skating along the energy pathway, heading
east, far above the street.
* * * * *
Dicapo Opera Theater
Upper East Side, Manhattan.
Broadway peered cautiously through the narrowly cracked open door. "C'mon!"
he whispered and taking Angela's hand, quickly and with surprising lightness
for a gargoyle of his size, dashed across the carpeted hall way into the
tiny room with the sign 'Closed for Remodeling' on the door.
"Oh!" Angela exclaimed in a hush. She moved to the edge of
the shadows to stare down at the whispering crowd, the orchestra warming
up in the pit and the flickers of movement behind the curtain. "We're
"Good." A blare of noise from the brass section neatly covered
a sharp popping sound. Broadway smiled as Angela turned back curiously
and held out a glass of bubbling champagne to her.
She smiled back, her eyes laughing. "Owen is going to skin you for
raiding the wine closet again."
"Heh, I could take him." The blue gargoyle touched his glass
to hers with a gentle ring. "Happy Valentine's Day, my love."
"Happy Valentine's Day," Angela answered, leaning forward to
kiss him. That lead to another and yet another. The champagne was soon
set aside and if it wasn't for the dramatic start of the overture, they
might have missed the show all together. Broadway didn't know which was
more intoxicating, the champagne or the sight of his music-loving companion
staring in rapt fascination at the show below. He didn't care for the
singing himself but he loved arranging these little surprises for her.
If it made her happy, he could endure anything.
Angela sighed contentedly and nestled back into the curve of his arm.
Broadway smiled. The music on stage became less like cats being strangled
and more like angels singing.
* * * * *
Near the Empire State Building.
Hudson squinted at the streets below. " 'Tis a quiet night for a
holiday," he observed.
"Humans place a great deal of emphasis on their holidays,"
Goliath rumbled. "Elisa was most ... unhappy to be working tonight."
His taciturn expression suggested that the police detective was not the
only one displeased at her work schedule.
"Some gargoyles make a big deal out of it too," Lexington said
from high overhead with a bitter sigh. Both of his rookery brothers had
taken the night off to be with their female companions and in midst of
making their individual plans for the big night out, had completed excluded
their sibling. Lex had responded by going off by himself as he often did
but Goliath had insisted on doing a patrol sweep tonight.
"I wonder how Bronx is doing?" Lex asked in a deliberate attempt
to change the conversation.
"Och, he's probably havin' a grand time chasin' muggers up trees."
Hudson laughed. "I'll have to have Graeme bring Nudnik out to the
park with us sometime. Might help settle the wee beastie down. He makes
Bronx tired with all that energy!"
Lex grinned. "Yeah, and Owen would probably appreciate it too. Remember
the awful mess Nudnik made of the laundry room?" He chuckled. "And
he still has that shredded pair of Owen's boxer shorts stashed away somewhere."
"Aye, chewed them to bits, he did." Hudson looked thoughtfully
towards the park. "Perhaps we should have a bit of a look, just to
check on Bronx. What say ye, Goliath?"
"I don't see why not," Goliath said. "I think we should
go through the theater district and the park is on the way."
Lexington stifled a gleeful grin. Goliath had wanted Broadway to tell
him precisely where he and Angela were going tonight but the big blue
gargoyle had stubbornly refused on the grounds that it was a surprise
for her. There wasn't a vicious bone in Lex's body but he thought there
might be a certain justice in it if they managed to catch Broadway in
the act. He canted into the wind and headed north-east with the others.
* * * * *
Upper East Side, Manhattan.
George blew into his cupped hands and let his breath warm his face. By
all rights, he should be freezing but with the ley line energy running
through his body, he barely noticed the weather at all. He was just southeast
of the Central Park Reservoir, perched on the roof of the Metropolitan
Museum of Art. He relaxed, letting his mind drift as his eyes scanned
The wind stirred a crumpled red aluminum can, rattling against the coarse
grit on the roof. George glared at it resentfully. One of the major down
sides to his new powers was a number of strange allergies. Most of them
he could put up with, but anything with caffeine in it gave him violent
nausea and seizures. He really missed his daily soft drink fix, that cold,
icy sizzle going down his throat. He made a gun out of index finger and
thumb and zapped the can, popping it high into the air. He was watching
the arc, lining up for another shot when he saw two shadows pass across
the face of the moon.
* * * * *
"Oh, I just loved it when they sang that selection from 'The Phantom
of the Opera,' didn't you?" Angela asked as she linked arms with
"Hey, I was just happy they sang in English!" the big blue
gargoyle joked. "But you're right, that was one of my favorites too."
He caressed her hand against his biceps. "Sort of put me in the mood
for a little romance."
Angela smiled and surprised him by swinging into his embrace. "Mmmm...me
too," she said with a kiss. She folded her wings up and let him do
With a delighted grin, Broadway lashed his tail around her waist and
stretched his wings to their fullest. This unexpected turn of events worked
into his plans delightfully. He sailed towards the park, the shadowy outline
of Belvedere Castle in the distance. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. The
big gargoyle did a lazy barrel roll as his beloved's kisses fell upon
his face like rain.
The night turned a sizzling blue-white. It felt like someone had slammed
a telephone pole across his back and Broadway had just enough presence
of mind to unwind his tail and push Angela away before going unconscious.
"BROADWAY!!!!!" Angela grabbed him and tried to slow his descent,
straining her wings until she thought they'd snap. He still drove a deep
furrow into the frozen ground of the Central Park meadow.
Angela landed and rushed to his side. One wing seemed dislocated and
the membrane was tattered. His pupils were uneven and dilated. She knew
there was no way she could get him airborne alone. A familiar scent caught
her attention and she sniffed deeply to confirm it. A relieved smile crossed
her face and Angela stood up and whistled. "BRONX!!!" she called.
Angela pivoted and stared at the human standing there, startled that
she had not sensed his approach. His red-gold hair floated eerily about
his head even though there was no breeze. He was clad in dark colors,
giving his skin an unearthly glow. There was something about him, something
familiar. The shape of his face, the straight nose, the blue eyes -- Angela
His eyes burned with blue fire. "Wrong Harrison brother."
A ball of shimmering energy appeared in his hand and before she could
react, he threw it at her. Angela dodged it and gaped at the burning hole
it had left in the tree behind her.
"And you're that gargoyle," he spat the word out like venom,
"that turned my brother away from me." Hate consumed his whole
being like a pitch black aura.
"You're wrong, George," Angela said calmly as her pulse raced.
"Richard has been terribly worried about you. He misses you."
She sniffed. The scent was growing stronger.
"Shut up," George said brusquely. "I'll deal with him
later. Right now, it's just you and me." His coat suddenly billowed
around him as if hurricane force winds were coming out of the ground.
Angela's skin began to crawl with static electricity. Energy crackling
all around him, George raised his hands and aimed --
The underbrush exploded as Bronx broadsided his mistress's attacker,
taking the blast meant for her. Angela was up the nearest tree and airborne
at the same moment. She didn't want to abandon Broadway and Bronx but
she knew when she needed help.
* * * * *
Swearing, George let the gargoyle beast bowl him over, the momentum rolling
him to his feet. He let loose a force burst, slamming the animal into
a tree. The creature struggled to its feet and let out a weak growl that
faded to a whine before it collapsed to the ground. Panting, he almost
didn't hear the cackle of his headset in his ear. He glared up at the
night sky as he answered.
"What happened?" Garlon's voice asked. "I saw the flash."
"I've got the bait and the lure's on her way," George answered.
He smiled coldly. "Get ready to spring the trap."
"I'll meet you there."
George heaved Bronx over his shoulder and started dragging Broadway by
a foot. He stepped on a ground bound ley line and silently slipped away.
* * * * *
The Golden Cup Coffee Shop
Greenwich Village, Manhattan.
Elisa frowned and stared out at the darkened, watching the couples walking
by. She glanced up at the sky and let out a deep sigh.
"Sweets for the sweet?"
She looked down at the plate with slivers of chocolate truffle pie, raspberry
cheesecake, and pecan pralines. "Bluestone, your teeth are gonna
rot right out of your head."
Matt laughed and handed her a cup of coffee. "You're just jealous
because Madelaine lets me have a sample of everything."
"Yeah, right." Elisa broke a corner off the chocolate pie and
smiled as it melted on her tongue. "She's just got a thing for red-headed
cops with big blue eyes."
Her partner winked over his shoulder at the older woman behind the counter,
who covered her mouth and giggled like a schoolgirl. "I could do
worse," Matt said lightly, "than to marry a woman that knows
how to cook."
Elisa started to reply to that when her phone rang in her jacket pocket.
She took it out and flipped it open. "Maza here."
"Elisa!" Angela's voice was frantic. "I need help! He's
got Broadway and he's hurt and Bronx too and --"
"Whoa, Angela! Calm down and take it from the top." She listened
intently while the female gargoyle spoke. Matt looked at his partner intently.
"You're sure it's George Harrison?"
"Yes," Angela answered. "Richard gave me a picture of
him and his brother. He's changed though. It's not just the hair color,
there's something strange about him. He's gained some sort of powers,
almost like what we encountered on Avalon, but I don't know how that could
"Me neither." Elisa took a deep breath. "I'll contact
the others. Matt and I are in the Village but we'll be there as soon as
"Someone needs to find Richard. I tried calling his apartment but
he must still be at the movies with the twins. George said he'd be taking
care of him later."
"I'll pass the word." Elisa hung up with Angela and starting
dialing another number even as she stood up from the table. "C'mon,
partner. Time to roll."
Bluestone nodded. "See you later, Madelaine! Duty calls!" he
said as he followed Elisa out to her red Ford Fairlane. "I'll drive,"
he told Elisa, "you call the troops."
* * * * *
Over Rockefeller Center, Manhattan.
"Wait up," Lexington called. He tumbled in mid-air as he adjusted
his headset. "Call coming in."
"Who is it?" Goliath asked.
"Elisa? What's up?" the green gargoyle asked. His eyes widened
and he shot a startled look at the two older warriors.
"Here, lad," Hudson said gruffly, "What's the matter?"
"Angela's in trouble. Broadway and Bronx are down. Central Park
East, near the Met."
Goliath's expression darkened. "Tell Elisa we are on our way."
* * * * *
Randalls Island, Manhattan.
The stars in the midnight sky shone clear and bright through the skybox
window as Brooklyn gazed at them in sleepy bliss. Sata's kimono lay neatly
folded over a seat while his loincloth and armor were scattered across
the room. He half-heartedly chuckled. Sata had been very enthusiastic
tonight. He kissed the top of his mate's head pillowed on his chest, the
silky black strands of her hair cascading over them both.
"Mmm." Sata reached up and stroked his beak. "It's wonderful
to be alone like this again."
Brooklyn smiled. "Yeah. We're lucky it's the off-season. This place
is really hopping in the summer; track and field, soccer, summer concerts."
"But tonight," Sata rose on her elbow to look at him like a
predatory cat, "just us." Her dark eyes glimmered scarlet as
she slowly edged closer.
Brooklyn smiled wickedly and reached for her.
An annoying electronic chirp came from one of his gauntlets. The mated
pair did their best to ignore it but finally Sata frowned and looked pointedly
at the offending mood breaker. The red gargoyle sighed and went to answer
"I need an answering service," Brooklyn grumbled as he flipped
on his communicator. "Yeah, I'm here."
Elisa's voice came on, broadcasting into the room. "Brooklyn, Angela
just called me. She, Broadway and Bronx were attacked by someone who she
says is George Harrison."
"Richard's brother?" Sata asked.
"Yeah, but according to Angela, he's not the same guy anymore. He's
got some kind of magical powers and he's got a grudge against Angela and
Sata and Brooklyn exchanged a startled look. "The twins!" the
Ishimura gargoyle exclaimed. "We left Graeme and Ariana with him!"
She jumped up and started putting on her clothes.
"Look," Elisa said. "Matt and I are heading over to Central
Park East to meet up with the rest of the clan. That's where they were
attacked. You guys take care of Richard. He might be the next target."
"Will do, Elisa. We're on our way." Brooklyn replaced the gauntlet
on his forearm. Sata had collected his things and thrust them at him.
"Hurry, beloved!" Sata said as she tied her obi in place. She
took her tanto, a razor-sharp dagger, from her thigh band and tested the
edge of the blade on the hem of her kimono. It cut the silk like a whisper.
"I wish I'd brought my katana. If this strange human touches a hair
on our children's heads..."
"I know, Sata." Brooklyn buckled on his loincloth and checked
his armor. "Trust me, there won't be enough pieces left to bury."
The grim parents were out the window and flying away from the stadium
without a second glance.
* * * * *
The Majestic Theater
Upper West Side, Manhattan.
It wasn't exactly the way he'd thought he'd be spending St. Valentine's
Day, Richard mused, but his companions had more than made up for it. Ariana
had both elbows planted on the balcony railing, staring raptly at a never-before-seen
Sailor Moon episode, fresh from Japan, that the theater was showing between
movies. Graeme had rolled his eyes at her and was fiddling with some junk
that had been laying here and there on the floor. Even Nudnik was good
company. The gargoyle pup had gorged himself on caramel corn and was asleep
with his head in Richard's lap.
Graeme had a dozen rubber bands chained together and was fooling with
them when Richard became aware of a tiny voice. He glanced at the screen.
The cartoon was captioned in English with the dialogue in the original
Japanese that both twins seem to understand perfectly. Forehead wrinkled,
Richard looked around trying to pinpoint the sound. "What IS that?"
he finally asked irritably.
Nudnik raised his head and cocked it. He got up and padded over to Graeme,
nudging his way into the young gargoyle's vest.
"Hey! What's with the cold nose?" Graeme dug around inside
his vest and came up with a compact communicator designed to fit around
Richard recognized it. "That's a Quarryman comset."
"Yeah, Uncle Lex let me have it to tinker with," Graeme answered.
He fitted it on his own pointed ear and listened. His eyes grew round.
Ariana came away from the balcony and knelt by her brother. "What's
He glanced at her. "Somebody attacked Uncle Broadway and Aunt Angela.
She got away but he's got Broadway and Bronx."
"What should we do?" Ariana asked. "Should we go help?"
"Your parents left you here with me," Richard said firmly.
"They'll expect you to be here when they get back. I know it's not
going to be easy, but that what you should do."
"Who's George?" Graeme asked. "They're all talking about
some guy named George." He touched the comset with his talon tips,
listened intently for a few seconds, and glanced up, startled. "They
say he's coming after you next."
"Whoa." Richard sat back stunned. "Where are they? Where
did this happen?"
"Somewhere near the Metropolitan Museum of Art," Graeme said.
"Goliath has found Angela. She's been tracking them. This George
guy has taken Broadway and Bronx somewhere." His eyes narrowed. "Heading
towards the East River, Hudson thinks."
"East River, East River ... why does that sound familiar?"
Richard snapped his fingers. "Castaway! He used to have a warehouse
near the Hell Gate Ferry. It was a drop point for arms deliveries. Tell
them they need to go to --"
"Can't," Graeme interrupted. "This thing only receives,
Lex was going to give me the spare parts to make it operational but he
hasn't gotten around to it yet."
"Then we need to go there." Richard stood up and started towards
the roof hatch. "C'mon, kids."
Ariana frowned. "But you said we shouldn't --"
"Yeah, but sometimes you have to know when to break the rules so
you can do what's right." He started up the ladder to the roof. "I'm
not sure what George is up to but I'm probably the only person he'll listen
to. Let's hurry, okay?"
* * * * *
An abandoned warehouse near the East River.
His first conscious intake of air was mixed with dust and Broadway awoke
with a painful spasm of coughing. The screaming pain in his wing was doubled
by the awkward way he was chained to some large piece of machinery, its
many protruding bits prodding and pressing against his injuries. A familiar
whine nearby made him crack an eye open.
"Hey, Bronx." It hurt to get the breath to talk. "Angela...here?"
Intelligence shone in the gargoyle beast's eyes as he shook his head
to the best of his ability. He too was tied down with heavy chain to another
massive machine. Broadway couldn't begin to guess where they were but
the musty feel made him think that wherever they were it hadn't been used
in a long time. He sighed and counted his lucky stars that at least Angela
was free and hopefully with the others.
Voices started coming closer. Broadway shut his eyes and hoped he still
looked like he was passed out.
"She'll be back with the others and then we can pick them off. I
know this warehouse inside out. It'll be like shooting fish in a barrel."
"Sounds good but don't get too cocky."
"Don't plan on it ---Sssssssssss! Owch!"
Broadway's eyes flicked open involuntarily at the outburst of pain. Two
men were standing near one of the machines, one with unremarkable features
and mouse brown hair and the other -- Broadway squinted at him. He wasn't
sure but the strange man with the reddish hair holding his hand looked
an awful lot like Richard's brother from the picture Angela had shown
him weeks ago.
The mousy one looked at the injured hand and clucked. Broadway could
see even from his vantage point that the hand was turning an angry red.
"Nasty iron burn." He pulled a silk handkerchief from the inside
pocket of his jacket and wrapped it around the hand. "Keep your gloves
on in here. You're right about this being a great place for a trap but
there's too much iron around for comfort."
"Iron?" The injured man stared at his associate in disbelief.
"How can cold iron do this?"
"Look, Newton had it right. 'For every action, there is an equal
and opposite reaction.' You wanted power, well, this is the price."
Mouse narrowed his eyes and his voice took on an edge. "There's always
"But this can be reversed, right?" Burned Hand asked in a stunned
voice. "He said the procedure was reversible."
"Sometimes words are just that, only words." Mouse raised an
eyebrow, showing no emotion. "Unfortunately, reversing what was done
to you is impossible. You made your choice freely, now live with it."
He glanced up sharply. "They'll be here soon. Let's go." The
nondescript man melted into the shadows.
An eerie chill went up Broadway's spine. He'd never seen anyone do that
before; one minute he was there, the next, gone. He was staring at the
blank space when the first blow was struck. Lights danced in front of
his eyes and the teeth in his jaw felt a lot looser.
"What are you looking at, monster?" Burnt Hand screamed. He
was an average-sized human but he was stronger than he looked. He clocked
Broadway with another roundhouse. "This is ALL your fault, do you
hear? ALL *pow* YOUR *pow* FAULT!!!" The human's eyes lit up with
an unholy fire and his lips curled back in a snarl.
Broadway let himself go limp and endured the blows as best he could.
He'd been tied in such a way that freeing himself was impossible. It was
like a scene from a detective pulp novel, except it wasn't as entertaining
being on the receiving end. Finally, the beating stopped and the blue
gargoyle slumped in his chains.
* * * * *
Somewhere over Madison Avenue, Manhattan.
Richard clutched Nudnik to his chest and tried very hard not to look
down. The twins had a firm grip on him, Ariana on the right side and Graeme
on the left but he could tell they were tiring. He could feel the muscle
tremors traveling down their arms to his. Over and over in his head, he
alternated in telling himself that this was his idea and what a big dummy
he was in suggesting it.
"Graeme?" The gargoyle girl's voice was shaky.
"Yeah, Ari-chan?" Her brother wasn't much better.
"We need ...to take...a little break. I'm getting a cramp in my
"Oh-okay." Graeme started to steer towards the nearest building.
A sudden updraft between buildings caught them and Ariana's wing twisted.
She shrieked and let go of Richard to tumble away.
"ARI!" Graeme shouted as he quickly shifted his grip. The human's
quilted parka slipped in his fingers.
Richard started mumbling a quick, extremely sincere prayer under his
breath. He and the young gargoyle dipped dangerously towards the street.
He closed his eyes. Nudnik yelped in his ear.
"Hold on there! I got you!" Another set of arms scooped Richard
up and he opened his eyes to find himself looking at Brooklyn, the twins'
father. Coming towards them was his jade green mate with Ariana in tow.
They landed on a nearby building.
"All right, what are you guys doing over here?" Brooklyn demanded.
"You're lucky Sata and I were headed your way." He looked at
Richard. "Your brother's back."
"I know," Richard answered. "And I know where he's headed.
We have to hurry."
Sata looked up from where she was massaging her daughter's wing. "Ari-chan
is not badly hurt. Contact the others and we'll meet them there."
"We?" Brooklyn asked, eyebrow ridges raised as he activated
the communicator on his gauntlet.
"I want my children where I can protect them." She smiled and
cupped her daughter's chin. "And where they can protect me if necessary."
* * * * *
"Goliath?" Lexington called. "Brooklyn's checking in."
The gargoyle leader glanced over. "What does he have to report?"
"They've found Richard and the twins. He says there's a warehouse
near the Hell Gate Ferry that the Quarrymen used to use. George might
take Broadway and Bronx there."
"Hudson?" Goliath queried.
"Aye," the old tracker agreed. "'Tis only a few miles
to the ferry and he's been following the river right enough."
"Let's hurry then, Father," Angela said, eyes full of worry
and concern. "Broadway was very badly hurt. There's no telling what
George might do to him."
"Very well," Goliath said. He looked at the green gargoyle
gliding off his left wing. "Relay the information to Elisa. She and
Detective Bluestone can meet us there."
Lexington nodded and swung up to get some altitude. When he came back
down, he reported, "Elisa and Matt are coming up First Avenue. Another
twenty minutes, if they can beat the traffic." He shook his head.
"I've never heard Elisa use such language before. I think Matt's
been driving on the sidewalks again."
* * * * *
Richard pointed at a warehouse a couple of blocks from the ferry. "That's
it," he told Brooklyn. "You can get in from the roof, the loading
bay, front and side doors."
The red gargoyle nodded and glided to a building down the block. He looked
sternly at his children. "You two stay here and protect Richard.
I'll keep my comlink open and," he reached out to tap the comset
on Graeme's ear, "if things get hairy in there, I want you all to
get out of here. Don't wait for us, just go."
Graeme swallowed and traded a look with his sister. She nodded. They
knew that no-nonsense tone of voice. "Okay, Dad," he answered,
Richard watched the adult gargoyles fly away before heading for the fire
escape. Ariana followed him over, eyebrow ridges twisted with concern.
"What are you doing?" she asked. "We're supposed to stay
"Look, you kids stay here," Richard called up as he kept climbing
down the ladder. "That's my brother in there and I'm going to talk
some sense into him if it kills me."
The twins watched as their human friend descended to the alley and crossed
the street in the shadows. Graeme looked at his sister. "Dad's not
gonna like this," he said soberly.
"Yeah," Ariana agreed. "But he also told us to protect
Graeme scooped up Nudnik. "Well, we certainly can't do that from
"Nope." The little red female spotted a length of pipe laying
half-buried in the snow. She tested it for balance with a few parries
and thrusts to adjust her hold. "It's not my bo staff but it'll do."
She jumped up on the building's edge. "Let's go."
"Right behind you, Ari-chan." The two young warriors and their
pet dropped off the roof into the dark alley below.
* * * * *
Goliath looked up as his second-in-command and his mate arrived. "How
does it look?" he asked. "Any sign of Broadway?"
Brooklyn nodded. "I didn't go down to sniff around but something
big was brought in through the loading bay. The tracks were fresh."
"Yes," Sata added, but with a slight frown, "but I am
puzzled. There was only one set of footprints. How could one human drag
both Broadway and Bronx?"
"Maybe he used some equipment," Lexington suggested. "A
hoist or a loader or something."
"There were no treadmarks or wheel ruts." Brooklyn turned his
face into the wind, his cottony mane of hair trailing behind him. "Something
about this is setting my teeth on edge. I wish I knew why." Wordlessly,
Sata put her hand on his arm and they exchanged an enigmatic look.
Lex tapped his earpiece and looked down the street. "Elisa and Matt
are here, Goliath."
"Good." The gargoyle leader jumped up the building's edge.
"Tell them to go in from the front."
"The side door at the alley is blocked," Brooklyn interrupted.
"There's a couple of dumpsters wedged against it."
Goliath nodded. "Then you, Sata and Lex will go in from the roof
while Hudson, Angela and I take the loading bay."
"Agreed." Brooklyn gave Sata a hand up and glanced back. "Let's
go kick some tail, Lex."
The web-winged gargoyle cracked his knuckles. "Yeah. Let's go get
The clan broke up into two groups and glided swiftly and silently away.
* * * * *
Richard had waded through a mess of rusted-out trash cans and reeking
plastic bags to the alley entrance. The door lock was still burnt out
like the last time he and George had been here on Quarryman business.
Of course, there had been a few more people here to move the dumpsters.
He managed to worm his way between the big metal trash bin and the wall
and pressing his back on one and bracing his boots on the other, tried
to shove the dumpster away.
"UUHNNG!" Sweat poured down his face as Richard strained. It
moved a few inches. He tried the door but there was still not enough room
to slip inside. He took a couple of deep breaths and pushed. His knees
popped with the strain but the darned thing refused to budge.
Dimly, he heard rustling in the trash bags. "Oh, great," Richard
muttered to himself. "Rats." The next second, the bespectacled
human landed hard on his rear as the dumpster suddenly lurched towards
the alley. Nudnik clawed his way past the trash and planted his smelly
paws on Richard's chest, snuffling and whining anxiously.
"Eeeeuw." Ariana leaped from the top of the dumpster to imbed
her talons into the wall, clinging to the bricks. She pinched her nostrils
shut delicately, metal pole tucked under her arm. "Icky poo. I wouldn't
sit there too long, Richard. You're gonna reek."
Graeme climbed over and dropped down by Richard to help him up. "Yeah,
yeah, we know, we're not supposed to be here." The dark green gargoyle
shrugged. "Ari and I figured if we're gonna be in trouble, we might
as well go all the way."
Richard took a hard look at the gargoyle twins and the little beast sniffing
at the bottom of the door. "Kids....." He thought about it for
a minute. The twins might only be children but they were still faster
and stronger than he was. "Okay," he said finally, "but
we're all going to be very careful, all right? You let me take care of
my brother and you guys can look for Broadway."
"Deal." Graeme gently gripped the door and quietly jerked it
out of the door frame. "Ladies first," he said pertly to his
sister. She shook her head and neatly swung inside.
"Is that wise?" Richard whispered. "What if she runs into
Graeme snorted. "Are you kidding? She LOVES to hit things!"
* * * * *
White blisters were forming on the angry red burn on the back of George's
hand. Over and over in his head, he kept asking: What have they done?
Why? Was he something else? Not gargoyle, he was sure of that, but what?
Gingerly, he re-wrapped the silk handkerchief around his hand and awkwardly
replaced it inside his leather gloves. That was another weird thing. Cold
air on the burn just fanned it into more intense levels of pain but the
spider-web kiss of the silk quenched the burning. That was insane.
George caught a brief glimpse of his face in a dusty pane of broken glass
and stared. He almost didn't recognize himself. His face had changed subtly,
a little more angular, cheekbones more prominent, the tips of his pointed
ears clearly visible while the static charge of the ley line energy stored
in his body made his reddish hair stand on end. His breath caught in his
throat as the hard cold truth hit. He was no longer human.
A faint beep in his coat pocket distracted him. George pulled out the
slim palmtop computer and checked his perimeter sensors. Garlon had let
him select his choice of armaments from the weapons development lab and
George had prepped the warehouse with the latest security monitoring devices.
Something had tripped the sensors on the roof and the alley. He checked
the others. The security camera at the front revealed two familiar faces.
George smirked and tapped his comset.
"Detectives Maza and Bluestone are about to come in the front door.
Think you could entertain them while I take care of business?"
There was a crackle and Garlon answered. "With pleasure. Good hunting."
he heard a sharp crack of the bolt on a rifle being pulled back and then
the radio was silent.
A tremendous roar, accompanied by screeching sound of metal tearing,
snapped George's head around. Nimbly, he ran along the catwalk towards
the loading bays. The big lavender gargoyle, Goliath, was standing in
the doorway, the crumpled door still in his hands. George's mouth twisted
into a smug sneer and he thrust both hands forward in a grabbing motion,
casting force waves away from him. The invisible blast of energy caught
the big gargoyle unawares and drove him into the alley. The ruined door
suddenly folded around Goliath as George drew his hands together and squeezed.
The roar of pain that followed was music to his ears.
George watched as Angela and some old gargoyle tried to free Goliath.
The desperate expression on her face pleased him perversely and he jumped
off the catwalk to put things on a more ...personal level.
* * * * *
Matt saw the flash just before the bullet careened off the light pole
next to them. He grabbed Elisa and threw them both behind a parked car.
"Sniper!" he barked out. "Top floor window, upper left."
Elisa edged around for a look. "You sure? I don't see a shooter."
"Caught the flash." Matt double-checked his gun. "You
want to call for back-up?"
His partner frowned. "I don't know. We're hardly on official police
Another bullet struck the sidewalk nearby, raising sparks. "Call
me cynical, Elisa, but I think shooting at us makes it official, don't
"Let's see if we can take care of this without going through channels,
okay, Matt?" Elisa clipped on her lapel mike. "Brooklyn? You
* * * * *
The red gargoyle raised his gauntlet and answered softly, "Yeah,
Elisa. We're in." He, Sata and Lex were inside the stairwell. "Something's
going on downstairs. Did you hear Goliath?"
"No." There was a troubled pause during which two clear zings
of ricocheting gunshots were heard.
Brooklyn raised his brow ridges. "Who's shooting?"
"We got a sniper. He's on the top floor, upper left. Matt and I
are pinned down."
Brooklyn nodded. "We'll take care of it. Hold on."
"What about Goliath?" Lex hissed. "I didn't like the sound
of that roar."
"Angela and Hudson can handle it. Let's take this sniper out hard
and fast." Brooklyn opened the door quietly and scanned the darkened
hallway cautiously. He exchanged a glance with Lex and the smaller green
gargoyle nodded as he took the point, creeping silently forward on all
* * * * *
"C'mon, kids," Richard whispered as he ducked under a fallen
door. "This way." Nudnik stayed at his heels, snuffling and
whining while the twins traveled along the upper walls, avoiding the debris
"What did they do in this place, Richard?" Graeme asked quietly
as he peered in vacant doorways curiously.
"Oh, they re-tooled machinery mostly," the ex-Quarryman answered.
"We used to store weapons shipments here. I don't know who actually
"Shhh!" Ariana dropped to the floor a few yards ahead. She
beckoned to them. "There's someone up ahead," she said. "I
can hear them."
Nudnik raised his head, sniffed and bolted past them all, wuffing and
whining excitedly. Both twins tried catching the little garg beast to
"There goes the element of surprise," Graeme said disgustedly.
"He's such a little nudnik sometimes."
They peeped out into the main workroom. Nudnik was butting Bronx under
the chin and crooning pitifully even as his stubby tail swirled like a
propeller. Ariana and Graeme carefully scanned the room for hostiles,
top, bottom, sides, before heading into the room with Richard. The red-skinned
gargoyle girl was almost to Bronx when her eyes widened and her beak gaped
"Oh, no! Uncle!"
Graeme and Richard ran around the piece of heavy machinery. The rotund
blue gargoyle hung limply in the heavy chains, his ape-like face bruised
and cut, dried and fresh blood staining his skin. One of his wings was
terribly ripped and heavy scrapes covered him from head to toe.
Richard swallowed and reached out to peel back one of the gargoyle's
swollen eyelids. "Pupils are still responsive," he said thoughtfully.
"Pulse is good."
"J-just don't ask me to do the macarena," Broadway mumbled.
He blinked his eyes slowly and peered owlishly at them. "Rich...get
the kids outta here. Too... too dangerous."
The twins traded a look and went into action simultaneously. Ariana climbed
up the wall and took her post as lookout. Graeme pulled a piece of wire
out of his vest, snapped it in two and bent them both into L-shapes. "Now
let's see if I remember exactly how Uncle Matt showed me how to do this,"
he muttered. The dark green gargoyle boy stuck his tongue in the corner
of his mouth and bent to twiddle the lock binding the chains together,
all the while absently singing under his breath, "'You put your right
foot in, you put your right foot out, put your right foot in and you shake
it all about...."
Broadway managed a half-smile. "Kid, that wasn't Matt, that was
a rerun of 'Moonlighting.'"
"Whatever." Graeme snapped the lock open. "It worked."
He went over to set Bronx free while Richard pulled the chains off of
The big gargoyle put a shaky hand on Richard's shoulder. "Your-your
brother.... something's different about him. He's changed."
Richard frowned. "What do you mean?"
"It's not so much the way he looks but the way he is, the strange
things he can do." Broadway shook his head. "I know it doesn't
make any sense but he touched some iron and it burned him."
"Iron?" Graeme scraped a hand through the debris under the
machine press Bronx had been tethered to. He came up with a mix of rat
droppings, dead roaches, dust, and twisted metal shavings. Pursing his
lips and narrowing his eyes, the young gargoyle began filling his pockets.
"Guys?" Ariana's voice called from the catwalk, her dark skin
tone blending into the shadows. "I think...we'd better get Uncle
Broadway moving. We're about to have company."
* * * * *
"Father!" Desperately, Angela tried to reach him but some invisible
force separated them. Goliath's eyes rolled up in his head and blood bubbled
from his mouth. "Father!!"
Hudson growled and glared past her into the gloom of the warehouse. "You!"
he shouted. "This is your doing, is it, laddie? NO MORE!!!"
The old gargoyle drew his sword and charged.
Angela turned her head and caught a glimpse of a shadowy figure approaching.
With sickening recognition, she cried out, "HUDSON! No! Keep away
A blue-white fireball rocketed out and spun the old warrior around. Hudson
slammed into some crates and lay still. His attacker stepped out of the
"Hello there, pretty." George smiled coldly at her. "Daddy
and Grandpa can't help you rescue that fat slob now."
Her eyes blazed scarlet. "Don't you DARE call him that!"
"I think I can call him anything I want," George said cattily.
"When dawn comes, I'm going to call him gravel."
"No. I won't let you."
"You?" He tightened his jaw and gestured. Angela found herself
being clutched in an immense invisible hand, the air slowly being forced
from her lungs. "Only thing you'll be doing is watching." He
pulled her closer. "You see, I'm not going to smash him all at once.
I think I'll break him up a little bit at a time, a finger here, a foot,
an arm, a leg. I wonder just how long you'll be able to stand it, watching
him disappear piece by piece."
Angela stared into the madness glowing in his eyes and shuddered.
* * * * *
Sata knelt in the dust, eyes intent on the floor. She held one hand up,
beckoning her mate and his rookery brother over. Silently, the japanese
gargoyle traced the barely visible trail of footsteps leading through
the dust. Brooklyn leaned in and whispered into Lex's ear. The web-winged
gargoyle went into a room across the hall and slipped through the window.
Brooklyn preceded his mate down the hallway, moving stealthily and without
sound as only a gargoyle could. The door was ajar and they could both
see a hooded figure by the window, rifle held at the ready. The sniper
lifted the weapon, sighting on his target. Locking his eyes with Sata,
Brooklyn lowered his shoulder and leaned back for a little momentum.
The door splintered under Brooklyn's charge. The sniper started to fire
at the red gargoyle but Lexington swung in through the open window and
wrenched the gun away. The hooded human backhanded the green gargoyle
but Brooklyn flattened him against the floor with a bone-crushing tackle.
A pile of cardboard boxes toppled over on top of them. Lex jumped in to
help, tossing the boxes aside but found only Brooklyn, rubbing his jaw
and glancing around sharply.
"Where the devil did he go?" Brooklyn demanded.
Sata's gasp by the doorway drew the males' attention. The sniper had
somehow slipped by them and had a thin blade pressed to the jade gargoyle'
swan-like neck. Unfortunately, the human could not see the flinty look
in Sata's dark eyes as she locked stares with her mate.
"Don't be stupid," Brooklyn said softly. He motioned to Lex
to back off.
"That's right, monster," the human said, his voice muffled
by the hood. "Back off or the female gets it." He started moving
into the hall with Sata.
"Brooklyn......" Lex said, shooting a quick look at his rookery
"Yeah, I know," the red gargoyle muttered. "I hope she
doesn't hurt him too much. Elisa and Matt will want to talk to him later."
They trailed after Sata and the sniper, following at a respectful distance.
The second there was enough room, Sata struck with cobra-like swiftness.
The sniper's knife went flying along with the sniper. The Ishimuran had
a particularly vicious smile at odds with her feminine costume of the
evening as she blocked a kick strike, seizing the leg and hurling the
man into the wall. Oddly enough, the hooded man rolled with it and dashed
past her onto the catwalk. Sata chased him, tanto held ready to either
throw or slash.
There was a blur as the man passed a support beam and then somehow, he
was behind Sata. Silently, he slammed her with kicks to the abdomen and
torso and clocked her with an underhanded double-fisted punch to the jaw,
sending her pummeling off the catwalk. She disappeared into the shadows
below, a hollow whoomp to mark her body's impact.
Before his roar died down and Brooklyn could take two steps, a red-skinned
valkyrie came out of the shadows, swinging a dull metal pole. Ariana's
eyes burned crimson as she screamed, "You leave my mother alone!!"
Her improvised weapon caught the sniper across the shoulders with the
down swing and in the stomach on the way back up.
The hooded man snarled and grabbed the metal pole, jerking the juvenile
warrior towards him. Ariana's toes left deep scratches in the metal catwalk.
"I don't think so."
Turning towards the gruff voice, the sniper was given a close-up view
of four incoming brick red knuckles before he toppled off the catwalk.
Ariana bit her lip. "Father, I know we're not supposed to..."
"Shhh...later." Brooklyn held out his hand and gave her a little
smile. His daughter threw herself into his arms and he gave her a quick
hug. "That's my girl. Let's go see about Sata and wrap up that guy
to give to Elisa, okay?"
* * * * *
Graeme bolted when Sata's body fell from the catwalk overhead and crashed
into a pile of cartons, scattering them. A diamond-shaped green gargoyle
coasted down like a kite. Broadway leaned heavily against Richard.
"That's my rookery brother, Lex," the big gargoyle commented.
"The cavalry's here." He started to weave.
"C'mon, Broadway," Richard said firmly. "Sit down before
you fall down."
"You mean before I fall on you and squash you flat."
"Yeah, that too." He had just managed to ease Broadway down,
with Nudnik and Bronx both milling about protectively when they both heard
a familiar voice cry out.
"Angela!" Broadway tried to struggle to his feet. Richard was
already running in the direction of her voice. "Bronx! Nudnik!"
the blue gargoyle commanded. "Go with Richard! Help him save Angela!"
Bronx growled and galloped after the human, Nudnik at his heels.
His head spun and multi-colored lights passed in front of his eyes as
Broadway laid his head on the filthy floor and watched them go.
* * * * *
His heartbeat was the loudest thing in the world at that moment as Richard
dashed through the darkened warehouse. The big gargoyle beast passed him
but Nudnik hung back and kept pace with him. He rounded the corner and
his mouth hung open in shock. Goliath was wrapped in a metal cocoon, Hudson
was in a crumpled heap and Angela was being held in mid-air. Her head
lolled to the side and she went limp.
Bronx snarled and leaped at the strange man holding his mistress captive.
The man's head snapped around and beams of light shot from his eyes, striking
the gargoyle beast in mid-leap. Bronx yelped and landed near Hudson. He
crept towards the old gargoyle and began licking his face.
"George?" Richard stepped into the long rectangle of moonlight
cast by the open loading bay doors. "You're alive." He forced
a relieved smile on his face, fighting the cold fear of this stranger
with his brother's face, the last flickers of blue-white flames dancing
all around him.
The eerie glow lingered in his brother's eyes. "Hello, Rich."
His mouth tightened. "Come to rescue your girlfriend, little brother?"
"She's a girl and you're right, she IS my friend," Richard
admitted, "but George, she's a gargoyle for cryin' out loud. Can
you imagine me bringing her home to Mom?"
George raised an eyebrow and flicked his eyes between Richard and Angela,
the glow subsiding and his normal blue eye color returning. "Hmmm."
"Yeah, hmmm! It'd be worse than that time when you brought the iguana
home. She had kittens then. I don't even want to think about the hysterics
she'd have over a gargoyle."
"Good point." A corner of George's mouth quirked up. "I
still miss that iguana."
Richard walked a little closer. "It's good to see you, bro. I was
getting worried about you."
"I've been busy." George ran a hand through his hair. "How's
"She missed you at Christmas. You should give her a call."
George nodded. "I'm still mad at you."
"Okay." Richard took a good long look at his brother. "This
is a new look for you. What's up?" He glanced at the female gargoyle
still floating above the floor and frowned. "Besides Angela. Would
you please put her down, bro? I don't think she's going anywhere."
Angela dropped roughly to the ground. George took a kick at Nudnik, who
yipped and hid behind Richard's legs. "Don't go making friends with
these freaks. They're gonna die. They're all gonna die."
Richard sighed and crossed his arms. "Look, let's not have that
fight again right here, right now. I want to know what's happened to you.
I mean," he looked his brother up and down, "the hair, the ...ears,
this crazy voodoo that you do, what's up with that?"
"I think I made a bad deal." George swallowed and looked down.
"I don't even know what they did to me. They lied to me, bro."
He looked into Richard's eyes. "Look at me! I'm not human any more."
His forehead wrinkled and an edge of panic crept into his voice. "And
I don't know if they can change me back."
Angela moaned and Nudnik went over to nuzzle her cheek. Richard carefully
placed himself between the gargoyles and his brother and kept George talking.
"What do you mean, not human?"
"I don't know exactly! Just a feeling I have," George said.
"I'm stronger, faster, better in a lot of ways but I keep changing."
A worried look came into his eyes. "I'm not sure who I really am
"You're my brother," Richard said firmly. "And no matter
what happens, that's the one thing I'm always sure of." He reached
out and hooked his little finger through his brother's. "I love you,
George. Nothing will ever change that. I promise."
They stood there silently for many heartbeats. George blinked hard several
times and his mouth twitched as he worked up the courage to speak.
"Harrison!" Garlon's voice shouted. "Get in here!"
An unearthly glow lit George's eyes. "This is for your own good,
bro," he mumbled and grabbed Richard's wrist, throwing his brother
across the room. He turned his back on him and disappeared into the shadows.
"R-richard?" Angela coughed and struggled to her hands and
knees. She crawled over to where her human friend lay sprawled inverted
against the wall, not far from Hudson. Nudnik was already there, washing
Richard's face. "Why did he do that?"
Reaching for his fallen glasses and pushing the eager gargoyle pup away,
Richard smiled. "George always did have a hard time saying certain
things." He rubbed the back of his neck and winced. "I think
this is what they mean by 'tough love.'"
* * * * *
"Uncle Lex?" Graeme asked worriedly, his talons gently stroking
his mother's glossy black hair. "She's going to be all right, isn't
Lexington felt quickly along Sata's body. "I think so, Graeme. No
broken bones that I can find. She's lucky she landed in this pile of empty
Elisa and Matt came running in, guns drawn. Matt knelt by Broadway laying
on the floor. "Hey, pal," the red-headed cop said. "Looks
like they worked you over with the rubber hoses."
"I'll never look at another pulp-fiction detective novel the same
way again," Broadway groaned as Matt helped him sit up against a
"Uh oh," Brooklyn said. He and Ariana were searching through
the debris on the warehouse floor. "No body. That sniper's running
around loose in here."
"Is he armed?" Elisa called. She turned around slowly, sharp
eyes taking in all the nooks and crannies.
"If you're talking about that other guy with George," Broadway
said shakily, "we're in trouble. He can vanish like a ghost. Never
saw anything like it."
A nasty laugh echoed hollowly in throughout the empty warehouse. "And
that's the LAST thing you'll ever see." A bolt of energy shot out
of the darkness, narrowly missing Elisa. A second shot deflected off Brooklyn's
armor as he was pulling Ariana down to the floor.
Graeme saw the discarded metal rod, sticking out from under the flattened
boxes his mother was lying on. His pockets were heavy with iron filings
and on his wrist, the chain of rubber bands. Sata stirred and as soon
as he spied the torn hem of her kimono, all the pieces fell into place
and the young gargoyle knew what he had to do. Tearing a swatch of silk
away and ripping it into several squares, he dumped out his pockets and
made loose bundles of them.
"Matt!" Elisa shouted. "Do you see him?"
"Negative!" Her partner peeked around the heavy equipment he
was using as cover and was rewarded with a shower of sparks as a bullet
caromed near his head. "Sniper's back and he's packin'!" The
red-headed cop began swearing under his breath.
Energy bolts flew like tracer fire, deadly fireworks in the close quarters
of the warehouse. Brooklyn had flattened himself over his daughter's body,
their meager cover of a few crates being blasted to splinters in the crossfire
Working quickly, Graeme bent the metal rod into a 'Y' shape and wrapped
the doubled up rubber bands around the 'arms' of the Y a few times. He
eyed the catwalk while he tucked the ammo bundles into his belt pouch.
It creaked and swayed as if someone was up there but even a gargoyle's
night vision showed no one there. Graeme cast a look at Broadway. If his
uncle was right about the invisible guy, and as for long as Graeme had
known him and beyond, Broadway had always told the truth.... the young
gargoyle stood and aimed.
His first shot went up and burst against the roof, scattering metal shrapnel
in a wide spray across the room. The second went directly to the spot
on the catwalk that suddenly lurched crazily as if someone had just flinched.
"Graeme!" Brooklyn bellowed. "Get down!"
A man with Richard's features but without his friendliness stepped into
a pool of moonlight and sneered at Graeme. "So you wanna die young,"
George said bluntly. "Be my guest." Blue-white fire shot from
"Bite me," Graeme muttered and fired. A blue-green blur passed
beneath his feet and the young gargoyle landed flat on his back, knocking
the air from his lungs.
The silk bundle hit the transformed human in the center of his chest.
His eyes widened for a second and then George screamed, an insane, unearthly
howl, the energy from his eyes engulfing his entire body. When the dancing
spots cleared from everyone's vision, only the clan and their human friends
were left in the warehouse.
"Kid," Broadway said crossly, body still extended, tail twitching.
"That was incredibly dumb."
"Yeah, well," Graeme wheezed, rubbing his chest and coughing.
"What was that you shot at him?" Elisa asked.
"Well, Uncle said iron hurt him and there were all these metal bits
under the machines," Graeme said, opening one of his bundles to show
them. "I just stuffed some of it in my pockets for, well, you know,
just in case." He blushed and ducked his head sheepishly.
"You little pack rat!" Ariana crowed.
Sata stood up groggily and held out her arms. "Graeme-kun,"
she murmured as her son hugged her tightly, "my clever, clever little
Brooklyn simply reached over and ruffled his son's unruly black hair,
exchanging a proud look with his mate. "I say we find Goliath and
blow this pop stand."
"An excellent suggestion," a deep voice rumbled behind him.
Goliath staggered towards them, supported by Angela and Hudson, Richard
following behind with the two gargoyle beasts.
Elisa ran towards him. "Goliath! You're hurt!"
"It will heal," the gargoyle leader said stoically. "But
I don't know if any of us will ever recover from this night. Some new
evil is at work in our city and it bodes ill for us." He glanced
over his shoulder at Richard. "All of us."
* * * * *
February 15, 1997
Westchester County, New York.
The Maddox Estate
The hawk-faced man at the head of the table looked up as his business
associate came into the morning room, an informal dining room with French
doors overlooking the elegant flower gardens and estate ground beyond,
now covered with crisp snow. Mavis was dressed warmly in ski overalls
and an Aryan cable knit sweater and set her matching ski jacket and boots
on a chair.
Maddox raised a leisurely eyebrow. "Going out?" he inquired
"Aye," Mavis answered as she filled her plate from the sumptuous
breakfast set out on the sideboard. "I thought I'd be doin' a bit
of cross-country skiing this morning." She took her seat and spread
her napkin in her lap. "It's been ages since I've had the time and
the woods are so lovely after a fresh snow."
"Hmmm." Maddox looked out at the winter landscape. "Yes,
it's a picture postcard sort of morning, isn't it?"
The dark-haired woman laughed. "You could always come with me, you
know. Do you a world of good, it would."
He sipped his coffee, holding the bone china cup between his fingers.
"It's tempting. Pity I left my hawks back in Europe. It would be
a good morning for hunting rabbits."
There was a commotion out in the hallway and the dining room doors burst
open. George Harrison stalked in, his face an oncoming storm, with Garlon
and an extremely disturbed butler in his wake.
"I beg your pardon, sir," the butler said nervously, "but
this gentleman insists on seeing you."
"That's quite all right, Edward. You may go now," Maddox said
mildly, setting down his cup. He gazed unperturbed at the young man glowering
at him. "Good morning, Mr. Harrison. Would you like some breakfast?"
"What I want," George said, squaring his jaw, "is some
answers." He opened his coat and tore open the front of his shredded
shirt. His chest was an angry red, dotted with dozens of tiny crusted
cuts. "A few hours ago, this looked like hamburger. Now it's almost
"And now you wish to thank me." Maddox blinked calmly. "You're
"No, you don't understand. Humans don't heal like this. They don't
have pointy ears and they don't see energy beams." George slammed
his hands down on the table, shaking the dishes. "What am I?"
"I should think that would be obvious." A cold fire flickered
in his ice-gray eyes. "You're no longer merely human. You're better."
Energy crackled around George's head as his hair stood on end and his
eyes blazed. "I want out of this deal! Change me back! Now!"
Maddox let out a long-suffering sigh. "Believe me, Mr. Harrison,"
he said, "we have larger plans in sight than the extermination of
a few gargoyles. You are just the first of many who will help us fulfill
those plans. You are one of us now, and you cannot leave us."
The color dropped out of George's face and his lip curled in shocked
horror. "You USED me." The corona of now-visible energy surrounding
him suddenly surged toward Maddox --- and just as suddenly, reversed and
fed back onto George. He screamed as his body alternately stiffened and
spasmed, his fingers spread and extended, every hair on his body standing
straight out. Fire smoldering in his eyes, the young man fell to the ground,
curling up in a fetal ball.
Maddox leaned back against the armrest of his chair. "I knew that
the geas would come in handy," he commented, smiling slightly. "His
loyalty to us is sealed."
Mavis glanced over the edge of the table at George and then back up at
Garlon. "So," she asked, delicately sectioning her grapefruit,
"how did he fare last night?"
The mousy-haired man gave a half-smile. "Oh, he's good. He hurt
them bad last night. Imagine what damage we could do with an army of them."
"Until then," Maddox rang for his servant, "see that he
is tended to. That kind of neural feedback can be quite painful and equally
educational, one would hope." He watched as Garlon hung one of George's
arms around his shoulder and helped the stunned man stagger from the room.
"I believe it was Neitzsche who once said," he commented, "the
battler of monsters may all too often risk becoming a monster himself."
Mavis smiled. "It's a grand beginning."
"And this time," Maddox said, raising his coffee cup, "we
will win the war."
"To success." She clinked her coffee cup to his and they both
smiled. A chill filled the room to match the wintry scene outside. In
the distance, storm clouds gathered.
* * * * *
Every nerve in his body was on fire. George could barely move. He'd been
dimly aware of being taken upstairs and deposited on the bed in a guest
bedroom. It wasn't the physical pain -- that was almost down to bearable
levels. It was that split-second that he looked into Maddox's eyes and
realized he lived or died at the whim of this cold-eyed man. All his free
will drained away at that moment, George knew without a doubt, he would
do whatever Maddox said and that there was nothing he could do about it.
It was all the fault of those gargoyles. He cursed them silently, thinking
of how he had almost had them, the horrified look that Angela had given
him when he'd been taunting her. If Richard hadn't shown up when he did
-- his blood froze. Richard. If Maddox ever found out about Richard's
involvement and how George had been distracted, it could be very, very
bad. If he was ordered to kill his own brother, there would be absolutely
nothing he could do to stop himself.
George had always prided himself on his independence, on doing things
his way. It was all gone. Everything. His heart sank and he'd never felt
so close to tears in his life. He stared at the wall in despair. There
had to be some way out of this.
As he stared at the shadows, a dark thought occurred to him.
* * * * *
February 20, 1997
Schlatter's Drugstore, Upper West Side, Manhattan.
Quinn chewed on her lip nervously as she compared the two boxes in her
hands. She absolutely could not believe this was happening to her. First,
she got downsized at Maddox Technologies, shuttled off to an office manager
position for a few weeks and just as she was getting settled in, the whole
office was laid off. It had taken a bit of networking but she had landed
a new job in a law office just off Columbia Circle. To top it all off,
when she tried to call Jayce, the number he had given her had been disconnected.
No biggie, they'd had their fun but she really would have liked to have
seen him again.
In the midst of all the fuss, between new jobs and missing boyfriends,
Quinn had become aware of certain biological events that hadn't arrived
on schedule. It was probably just stress, she told herself, she'd always
been careful about that kind of thing but it couldn't hurt to double check.
She finally chose one of the home pregnancy tests and paid the older woman
at the counter. A brown-haired guy with glasses opened the door for her
as she was leaving.
Quinn gave him a quick smile. "Thanks!"
"Hey, no prob. Have a nice day!" He waved and went inside.
* * * * *
Richard looked after the short brunette leaving and smiled. "Hey,
Mrs. Schlatter!" he called cheerfully as he came around the counter.
"You're early," she said. "Just as well. A package came
for you this morning. It's in the office."
"Okay, thanks!" He whistled as he went back. He often had packages
sent to him here at the drugstore and the Schlatters didn't mind. It was
a medium-sized box wrapped in brown paper with a computer printed label
and no return address.
Curious, Richard unwrapped the package and found a hard plastic case.
He opened it and gawked at the Beretta nine millimeter handgun inside.
It was the exact same type George preferred, he'd gone out to the gun
range with him enough times to recognize the model. There was a note tucked
beneath the barrel.
If you still love me, if you ever loved me...
The next time you see me,
"Oh, God." Richard sank into the cracked leather of the office
chair, and stared at the handwritten note. "Bro, what kind of mess
have you got yourself in?" A drop of water splatted onto the paper,
followed by another, and yet another while he watched the ink run.