Things Fall Apart, Part 2
Story Concept by Kathy Pogge.
Written by Rahsaan Footman, Todd Jensen, and Kathy Pogge.
Previously on Gargoyles...
"If that's your decision," said
Mr. Benson with a sigh, "then so be it."
A low rumble shook the business
district. At first it went unnoticed over the roar of the traffic and the hustle
of the city. The rumble grew to a roar. Twenty-seven floors of office building
began to vibrate. Support beams stressed to their limits and began to give way
under the stress as the foundation beneath them cracked. The basement floors
were the first to go and one by one, the first the second, the third. The Consolidated
Financial Building collapsed like a house of cards, then erupted into flames.
Over the Hudson River a smaller
ball of fire erupted ...and a gargoyle tumbled from the sky.
"Nooooo!" Talon screamed.
~ Things Fall
Apart, Part 1
"This is Nicole St John, reporting
from the scene of another bombing. Once again the terrorist group that calls
itself 'Phoenix Rising' has taken credit for the destruction. As you can see,
the building behind me is a total loss. We've also learned that officials had
dispatched a bomb squad from the 23rd precinct shortly before the
blast. There is no word, however, on what their location was at the time of
the explosion. We'll keep you posted on this developing story. Back to you..."
"It's all the gargoyles' fault!"
someone shouted from behind St. John. "They planted the bomb! They're 'Phoenix
The camera cut abruptly from the
newsroom back to Wall Street and St. John, who quickly ad-libbed. "We seem to
have here a potential eyewitness to events. Can you tell us what you know, sir?"
The man appeared to be in his late
twenties, with stringy, unkempt blond hair and rumpled clothes. "I saw one of
those freaks!" he shouted into the microphone. "One of them was flying out over
the river, and then, BOOOM! At the same time, I hear the building go up. The
gargoyles planted the bomb, I tell you! It was them all along!"
"Oh?" asked someone from the back.
"And why would they have created 'Phoenix Rising' in that case, mister? It wouldn't
make that much sense to be turning us against them."
"I don't know!" said the man in
frustration. "Maybe it's to trick us into thinking that they're being persecuted
and get the sympathy vote! Those creatures are evil, I tell you! If we don't
get rid of them now, there's gonna be nothing left of Manhattan but a pile of
St. John managed to take the microphone
back from the "eyewitness", and turned to face the camera. "Could the gargoyles
be responsible for the bombing? Only time and forensics will tell."
* * * * *
"NOOOOO!" Talon screamed in anguish
as the bomb exploded over the Hudson. He threw himself to the ground, partially
to escape the concussion, but mostly because his legs would carry him no further.
"Hollywood, no! Ah jeez, no!"
He looked up at last and scanned
the river, but there was no sign of the brave, but foolish clone. A police helicopter
roared into view, its searchlight playing over the water. Talon melted into
the shadows as the beam played in his direction. He waited long enough for the
search crew to play their lights over the river once more, and then he dragged
himself back to the Labyrinth.
* * * * *
The paramedics were grim as they
bore the last of the gurneys to the medical examiner. They met the senior medical
officer's hopeful gaze with a slight head shake and an enforced air of professional
"They're gone, all of them," the
M.E. said at last, as he ran a hand over his face.
"At least they didn't suffer, sir,"
said his assistant.
"That is no consolation," said the
medical officer sternly. "Dead is dead."
He held back his tears until the
last body bag was zipped up, then turned to his assistant. "I need some time
to myself," he said, and walked away, looking for a reasonably quiet spot near
the rubble, to think things over.
"One way or another," the assistant
heard him mumble, "this is the last time."
* * * * *
"This is the last time," said the
voice from Duval's shadowed armchair.
"Sir?" asked Giles, standing beside
his employer, watching the television news report on the Wall Street bombing
and its casualties.
"Good men died tonight, Giles,"
said Duval, his voice audibly shaken. "This cost is too high. No goal is worth
such a price."
He was silent for a moment, then
continued. "Get Mr. Clifford on the phone. Tell him that the services of 'Phoenix
Rising' are no longer required."
"And if he asks why?" the manservant
"Tell him that the city's probably
gotten the message," Duval replied. "And that if the Mayor and the City Council
still remain stubborn, then there's no way to sway them and we will need to
take a different route."
"And the Xanatos investigation,
sir?" Giles asked.
"Allow it to run its course. But
the bombing has to stop. It's gone far enough. Possibly too far."
"As you wish, sir," said Giles as
he left the study.
Mr. Duval picked up the remote and
switched off the set. Then he rose from his armchair and walked over to the
window, to gaze over the grounds of Bliant Manor. "Would it be simpler," he
mused, "if I were only 'kindly Mr. Benson'? If I let someone else head the Illuminati
or disbanded it entirely?" He lay his head against the glass, the cool night
air soothing his aching head. "If I only had the courage to find out."
* * * * *
Elisa tugged at her unfamiliar uniform
shirt and straightened her necktie as she handed Matt his uniform cap.
"Man," Matt complained, "it seems
so strange to be back in 'blues' again."
"I hear you partner." She tugged
at the necktie again and nodded to another pair of detectives in uniform as
they headed up the stairs to the Desk Sargent.
He grimly passed over a pair of
black arm bands and a roll of black electrical tape as Matt and Elisa signed
in for their shift.
Matt's face tightened as he pulled
two strips from the roll, handing one of them to Elisa before placing the other
diagonally across his badge.
Elisa slipped the armband over her
shirt, then accepted the piece of tape. "I can't believe this is happening."
"None of us can," the Sargent sympathized.
"Watch yourselves tonight. We don't need to add any more names to the memorial
wall." He turned away and Matt and Elisa move off to allow another officer to
sign in for her shift.
"Maza!" Elisa looked up as Captain
Chavez called from across the bustling room. "Step into my office," she ordered.
There was a sharp edge to her voice.
"I'll go pull our ride around,"
said Matt as he pulled a set of keys from one of the numbered pegs on the wall.
Elisa sighed and headed quickly across the room.
Chavez stood by the door as Elisa
entered the office, then stepped in behind her and shut it tightly. Elisa unconsciously
found herself taking an at-attention stance as Chavez circled around and sat
down at her desk, but whether that was because of the unfamiliar uniform or
the Captain's quiet demeanor, Elisa was unsure.
Chavez was silent for several moments
before she spoke, which only increased Elisa's unease. "Elisa, It was Derek
who told us about the bomb right before it went off," Captain Chavez finally
"Derek!" Elisa said, feigning surprise.
"Can't you tell me where he is?
What he's been doing?"
"No, Captain," Elisa said sadly,
the emotion genuine this time. "I can't."
Chavez looked at Elisa for a few
more moments before speaking again. "Very well. That's all, Detective. You're
Elisa slipped out the door quietly
and gave an inaudible sigh of relief as it closed behind her.
* * * * *
Elisa threw the looter against the
hood of the dilapidated squad car. "You have the right to remain silent, if
you wave that right, ..."
Matt stood with his gun drawn as
Elisa "Mirandized" their latest arrest. "The Desk Sarge was right. It is ugly
out here tonight."
"No doubt," she replied as the transport
car showed up. "Another looter," Elisa greeted their backup. "You can have him
with my thanks."
Morgan grinned wearily. "You'd think
this was L.A. the way people are acting." His radio squawked and he stepped
away briefly to listen to the chatter. He nodded at his partner as he slammed
the door on the suspect. "No rest for the wicked. We've got to go. Take care,
* * * * *
"If I didn't know better, Elisa,"
said Matt, trying to shift to a more comfortable position in the unfamiliar
car, "I'd say that somebody doesn't like you."
"What do you mean, Matt? Riot duty
in the worst part of the district? I can't imagine whatever gave you that impression."
She laughed bitterly. "You're right. This is rookie's work. We should be on
"'Should' be is right," Matt agreed,
staring at the side mirror. "The Bureau has us all frozen out. So much for friends
in high places. I can't even get briefed as head of the Gargoyle Task Force.
Their official statement was that it's 'need to know' and I don't."
"And what's their real reason?"
asked Elisa, making a left when the light turned green.
"They're not even hinting at that
one. Like I said it's Juno in December.
Elisa glanced at the rear view mirror,
and frowned. "We're being tailed," she said grimly.
Matt nodded, keeping his eyes on
the side mirror. "Who do you suppose it is? Internal Affairs or the Feds?"
"My hunch is that it's the FBI,"
said Elisa. "Well, if they want to play, then let's do it."
She revved the engine. It sputtered
and the entire car shook. "Not a word," said Elisa to Matt. She smacked the
dash with the flat of her hand and the car roared to life with a belch of smoke.
* * * * *
"I was too late," Talon explained
grimly to Goliath and the others as they gathered in the living room. Maggie
wrapped a blanket around his shoulders and forced him gently onto the couch.
The television was muted but scenes of the explosion at Wall Street played every
few minutes, as did footage from demonstrations and riots throughout the city.
Angela wrapped an arm around the
weeping Delilah as Broadway held a cup of tea to her lips. She sipped slowly,
then pushed the cup away. "Hollywood did a brave thing," Delilah said, her voice
muffled by her tears.
"Yeah, he did," Broadway agreed.
"I should have done more!" Talon
"You did not know that Hollywood
would act." Goliath attempted to console.
Talon looked up as if he suddenly
remembered something. "Where's Sharon? She was behind me when I ran after Hollywood."
"I have not seen her," Sata said.
The others shook their heads, a new worry blossoming.
A muffled thump came from the corridor
and then Sharon's voice, clear and firm, though clearly tired. "Could somebody
help me with him, please?"
The gargoyles and mutates rose as
one and ran for the corridor.
Sharon came into view. She was half
carrying, half dragging something large and heavy looking.
"Hollywood!" Maggie exclaimed.
"Is he?" Talon asked quietly unable
to complete the question.
"He lives," Sharon replied. "But
he is badly injured."
"Where?" Talon managed at last.
Broadway and Brooklyn relieved Sharon
of her burden and carried Hollywood to the infirmary, Delilah and Maggie close
"By the docks," Sharon replied as
Claw handed her a blanket. She smiled at him then began to rub at her fur. "I
lost you in the tunnels as we chased Hollywood. You must have taken the opposite
fork of the juncture route. I ended up at the river. I heard the explosion then
I saw Hollywood tumble out of the sky and into the river. He got caught in the
current so I followed him from the river's edge." She shook her head. "It's
a little foggy, at this point. I must have dove in after him. But I do not remember
doing so. I pulled him to shore and carried him here."
Maggie and Brooklyn re-emerged from
"He's resting now," Maggie said
with a sigh. "If he can hold on long enough, the sun will heal him."
"Sunrise is five hours away," said
Goliath. "Is there anything else that we can do?"
"I've called Dr. Goldblum. He's
on his way," Maggie replied. "Claw, I could use your help." She gathered up
the silent mutate and returned to the infirmary.
"'Phoenix Rising' is to blame for
this," said Talon, his eyes glowing in anger. "And they will pay!" He clenched
"I share your feelings," said Goliath
to him. "But we must act carefully. A counter attack might only convince the
public that we really are monsters, and fuel the fire. We cannot afford that."
"Yeah," agreed Brooklyn. "Besides,
we don't want to risk scaring them off. Otherwise, we'll never know where they
Talon nodded, but his face remained
grim. He turned to Sharon. "Get everybody in the Sanctuary together. It's time we gathered some information on 'Phoenix Rising'."
He turned to Goliath. "You'd better
sit one out."
Goliath looked pained. "I do not
like the idea of hiding from our enemies," he said.
"He's got a point there, lad," said
Hudson. "We canna go outside while the city's in this sort of mood."
"Very well," said Goliath, with
a sigh. He took his position up outside the infirmary, waiting to learn what
the outcome would be for Hollywood.
* * * * *
"You certainly have a strange idea
of 'fun', partner," said Matt, though not so loud that Elisa could hear him.
It had not been an easy night for
him. First, Elisa radioed headquarters that they had received a hot tip on 'Phoenix
Rising'. They had gotten out of any more riot duty, but she had then proceeded
to stalk her "so called informant" from one doughnut dive to the next, until
the back seat of the squad car was filled with dozens of crullers and jelly-filleds.
Then they had headed for the dock district where they proceeded to interview
transients about a series of unsolved warehouse robberies, passing out pastry
"Shut up, Matt," Elisa growled.
"If you're bored just imagine how our tail feels." She glanced over her shoulder.
"Now come on. I want to talk to Old Martha. Grab the box in the back will you?"
"Not Crazy Martha the Cat Lady?!"
Matt pulled a box of canned tuna out of the back seat. "Elisa!"
She ignored him, greeted the old
woman cheerily, and proceeded to talk about the finer points of cat behavior
for an hour before the plain blue car that had shadowed them all night drove
"Elisa it's five o'clock. Don't
you think we can give this a rest?"
"Yeah, sure," she said her voice
They climbed into the squad car.
The engine clicked but wouldn't turn over. Elisa cranked the starter again and
"Elisa?" Matt attempted. She kept
cranking the engine. "Elisa!" he finally shouted at her as he pulled the keys
out of her hand.
She slammed her fist against the
steering wheel, her pent-up frustration boiling over at last.
"It's Xanatos," cried Elisa furiously.
"Always Xanatos! That man can ruin my life even from a jail cell!"
"Elisa," said Matt in a gentler
voice. "You know that's not true."
"Oh?" she replied, glaring at him.
"He might be sitting in jail, but I'm the one paying. I can't move without being
watched. I'm cut off from the clan. I can't be with Goliath. And I'm stuck in
this lousy squad car in uniform when I should be doing real police work!"
"I'm not saying that Xanatos is
a saint, Elisa, but he's not personally responsible for everything that goes
wrong in your life."
"I know," said Elisa, with a sigh.
"I guess I'm a little frustrated."
"A little?" Matt said incredulously.
"Those people, whoever they are,
know I'm involved somehow. I can't act. I'm completely cut off and I can't do
a thing about it."
"But I'm not," said Matt. "Elisa,
give me a day to see what I can find out."
"I've still got a friend at the
Bureau," he replied. "And he owes me a favor."
"Just as long as he isn't a UFO
nut," said Elisa, with a weak smile.
"Hey, everyone's gotta have a hobby,"
said Matt, taking out his cellular phone to call for a tow truck.
* * * * *
Giles entered Mr. Duval's study.
"Mr. Clifford is on the phone, sir. He wishes to speak to you."
"Didn't you tell him that I wasn't
accepting telephone calls?" asked Duval, looking up from the book that he was
"I did, sir. Repeatedly. But he
insists on speaking to you anyway."
Duval sighed and picked up the phone
by his chair. "This is Duval," he said.
"This is Robert Clifford," said
the voice at the other end. "I'm sorry to trouble you this late, sir, but we
really need to talk."
"About what?" asked Duval.
"Your insistence that 'Phoenix Rising'
disband," Clifford replied. "I'm sorry, sir, but that's just not an option that
I can accept."
"Clifford, we have no choice," said
Duval. "The explosion that your people set off at Wall Street killed an entire
"An unfortunate incident, I know,"
said Clifford. "But a small price to pay for ridding the city of those monsters."
"Clifford, it has to stop now,"
said Duval. "I want your organization disbanded by tomorrow morning."
"But we're winning, sir," Clifford
protested. "Public opinion is turning against the monsters, thanks to the explosions
and to that 'eyewitness' that you planted in the crowd. A good touch, by the
way. Not the most honorable means, I know, but sometimes we have to take such
measures in the war against the instruments of darkness."
"Your war is endangering the city,"
said Duval. "And becoming a potential disruption of... other business. It is
not in anyone's best interests to have one of the world's leading cities plunged
"And it is not in humanity's best
interests to be preyed upon by winged demons," Clifford replied. "You must understand,
sir. This is a duty. I must stop this plague, before it destroys or corrupts
all Manhattan. I don't like these human deaths myself, but they're the lesser
of the two evils. We have to clear the world of the gargoyles, for the sake
of our lives... maybe even our souls. And I cannot compromise or abandon this
mission, not even for you.
"It's just not worth it, Clifford,"
Duval protested. "Not even the noblest of causes can justify such means."
"Odd sentiments coming from you,"
replied Clifford sharply. "You were the one who advised us to take on the bombing
strategy, and even supplied us with the materials."
"Irrelevant. I'm cutting your funding
as of now." Duval proclaimed.
"It hardly matters," said Clifford.
"You're not my only backer anyway. There are others who are willing to help
with the cause. Not the allies that I would have chosen, perhaps, but I can't
afford to be too particular. Not considering what's at stake here. Good evening,
Duval sighed, and turned back to
Giles. "I want an immediate investigation of 'Phoenix Rising'," he said to his
aide. "Clifford has other financial backers, and I want to know who they are."
"Right away, sir," said Giles, leaving
* * * * *
Fox paced back and forth in her
husband's office, grinding her teeth and clenching her fists in frustration.
The large television screen was switched on to the news.
"This is Nicole St. John, reporting
live from the 23rd Precinct. As increasing evidence continues to
surface connecting billionaire industrialist David Xanatos to the terrorist
organization known as 'Phoenix Rising', public opinion turns steadily against
New York's most notorious CEO."
Fox glowered at the reporter on
the screen, and wished fervently that she could muster up enough of her halfling
powers to transform the reporter into a rat. Then she shook her head. "That
would be an insult to the rats," she muttered. "Owen, this is not looking good,"
she said to the ever-efficient major-domo, standing by her side.
"I agree, ma'am," said Owen, looking
thoughtfully at the image of the protesters. "They can't even spell 'gargoyles'
"This is no time to be acting like
your alter ego," said Fox sharply, switching off the set. "Owen, this is serious!
We have to prove David's innocence!"
"My apologies, ma'am," said Owen,
nodding. "However, we do have some good news on that front. Our independent
audit discovered that the computer core had indeed been tampered with, and the
entries relating to 'Phoenix Rising' planted. Our lawyers intend to submit it
as evidence tomorrow."
"That won't do much good," said
Fox, with a sigh. "It'll help dismiss the charges, but it won't clear his name.
Only exposing 'Phoenix Rising' will do that."
"But how?" said Fox. "There's nothing
that anybody can do. I can't even leave the building with out someone watching
me. We need a new strategy"
She flung herself down into a chair
and stared out the window. "I'm just a princess trapped in my tower and Prince
Charming's in a holding cell," Fox fumed.
"Then maybe you need a little help
from your fairy godmother," a familiar voice added silkily.
Fox whirled around in her chair,
facing her mother, Anastasia Reynard.
Owen placed himself in a defensive
position between his mistress and his queen.
Anastasia raised her hand. "It's
all right, Owen. I haven't come to fight. I've come to help."
"Yeah, right," Fox crossed her arms
across her chest.
"I told you I'd be looking in, and
I don't like the turn events have taken." Anastasia looked wounded at her daughter's
"Do tell," Fox pressed.
"You are quite correct in your belief
that dropping the charges isn't enough. David and the gargoyles must be exonerated
in the eyes of the people.
"Since when did you care about the
lives of us 'mortals'?" Fox sneered.
"I know you won't believe it if
I said I'm doing this out of the goodness of my heart. So I'll put it to you
this way. All of you might be called upon to do some things in the future. Things
you can't do, if David's in jail and the clan is hounded by Phoenix Rising."
"So you're just helping us because
you might need us as pawns in another one of your chess games, mother?" asked
"If my suspicions are correct, this
is more than a game," replied Anastasia calmly. "Fox, do you want my help or
Fox was silent for a long while.
Owen raised an eyebrow at the former Mrs. Reynard. Anastasia's eyes crinkled
in response. In the space of a few seconds and a couple of meaningful glances
a whole conversation passed between the two fay.
"What do you need to do?" Fox asked.
"Me? Nothing. You on the other hand
will need to learn a little magic," Anastasia explained.
"Oh dear," said Owen paling visibly
as he recalled Fox's last venture into magic. "Do you think that's wise?"
Both Anastasia and Fox shot Owen
a hard look, silencing further protests.
"Why?" Fox asked breaking the silence.
"To vanish from the face of the
earth." Anastasia smiled.
* * * * *
"Well, Giles?" Duval asked his aide.
"What have you learned?"
The aid-de-camp handed Duval a manila
folder. Duval shuffled through the papers, his brow furrowing as he skimmed
Giles summarized the file. "Mr.
Clifford wasn't being boastful about his other backers. His bank accounts record
large amounts of cash being deposited from various corporations."
"Crime, Inc.," Giles explained.
"Even the Yakuza made a donation. Apparently they're taking advantage of the
anti-gargoyle hysteria to get rid of a potential menace. The crime bosses don't
want to go the way of Tomas Brod or Tony Dracon. I'm sorry to say, he's well
funded without our help."
"The Illuminati's strength has never
resided fully in money." Duval dismissed the unsettling news. "Lean on the bosses.
Let them know their silent partner will be displeased if they continue to support
Phoenix Rising. The Yakuza should follow suit if they see the other crime families
"Very good, sir."
"I do not like the way that things
are going," said Duval. "Giles, what have you found about Robert Clifford? Why
is he defying my orders?"
"It seems that we struck a chord
in Mr. Clifford. He actually believes that gargoyles are literal demons. He
believes he has a moral obligation to destroy them."
"Another Castaway," said Duval,
with a groan.
"Worse than Castaway, I fear. He's
not doing this out of personal hatred. He's doing this because he thinks that
it's the only way to save the world. He's on a crusade."
"How did he slip through?" said
Duval, shaking his head. "I am going to need to have a few words with the agents
that we assigned to investigate the man before contacting him. Arrange it."
"Is there anything else, sir?" Giles
Duval shook his head. "That will
be all, Giles," he said. "You may go."
After his aide had left the study,
Duval shook his head. He stared for a long time at a small oil painting of a
spider web. The fine silk sparkled in a perpetual morning dew. "Truly it is
a tangle web I have woven," he muttered as he contemplated the painting.
* * * * *
"You're still being stubborn," Anastasia
rebuked her daughter, "Magic won't work if you don't believe in it."
Fox stared at the ceiling in frustration.
"Next, you'll want me to clap my hands if I believe in fairies," she growled
at Anastasia as she worked a stress induced kink out of her neck.
"You'd be surprised what wonders
that can work," Anastasia replied smartly.
Fox clapped her hands. "Well?" she
snapped at the fay who watched with quiet amusement.
Anastasia's eyes twinkled. "Bippidee-boppidee-boo."
With a snap of her fingers and a shower of pixie dust, Fox was transformed.
She stared at herself in disbelief.
A moment before she had been wearing blue jeans and a white Oxford shirt. Now
she was dressed for the ball. The full white gown shimmered with sequins. Her
arms were encased in elbow length gloves. "Glass slippers, mother? Don't you
think you're going overboard?"
Anastasia merely smiled as she adjusted
her watch to midnight. At the twelfth beep, Fox's outfit reverted back to shirt
and jeans. Anastasia placed a hand on her daughter's shoulder. "Fox, my dear
child, magic is more than just nonsensical words. It's your heritage. Denying
it is like denying you have a foot or red hair."
Fox's face softened at her mother's
"Let's try this again," Anastasia
smiled. "Close your eyes. Clear your mind of everything except for the love
you have for your husband and son."
Fox did as she was told. She emptied
her mind of all thoughts, save the image of David holding Alex in his arms.
Fox felt a tingle spread through her limbs. A light cool breeze blew between
her fingers, carrying wispy strands of her hair.
Anastasia saw she was centered.
She slid quietly to her daughter's ear, "Speak the words from your heart."
"By the hearts of men both strong
and meek/ Give me the power to be what they seek." Fox opened her eyes.
Her mother wore an approving smile.
"I did it!" She tried not to sound
too excited and failed. Anastasia nodded. Fox rushed to the window to see her
reflection in the plain glass. She saw her same fiery red hair and athletic
features. She whirled on her mother, "I look the same!" she protested, confused.
"Of course, you're expecting to
see yourself," Anastasia explained, "but you go down to the offices, no one
will notice you as Mrs. Xanatos. They'll mistake you for Mary, or Sue or even
Bob, depending on the person. Oh."
Fox could feel it. The spell faded
out. She looked to her mother, but Owen stepped in to explain.
"Using magic is like tensing a muscle.
If you haven't used that muscle before it can't hold up for more than a short
while. The more you practice the stronger it gets."
"What happens if this fails when
I need it the most?" Fox asked.
"You'll just have to use it sparingly,"
Anastasia answered, "But you can do it and it will get
easier to call it up every time."
Anastasia came forward and hugged
her daughter. "I'm so proud of you. Give my love to David and Alexander." She
vanished in a shower of rainbow lights.
* * * * *
Matt Bluestone waited impatiently
by the hot dog cart at the bottom of the precinct staircase. He took a bite
out of his frankfurter and grimaced when he realized he'd forgotten his usual
toppings. His target descended the steps as he remedied the situation with a
generous squirt of brown mustard.
"Hacker," he said to the FBI agent.
"I heard you were in town. You're ignoring me," he added his voice full of mock
pain. "No early morning taxi rides, no mysterious phone calls..."
Hacker ignored him at first, ordering
a hot dog with everything from the vendor, and a bag of peanuts for later. Then
he turned to face Matt. "Sorry I haven't stopped by lately, Matthew. You know
how it is; the investigation and all."
"No I don't," said Matt sharply.
"We've been kicked off it, in case you've forgotten."
"Sorry, but that's Standard Operating
Procedures," said Hacker with a shrug. "No offense, Matthew, but the feeling
at the Bureau is that the NYPD just doesn't have what it takes to mount this
sort of investigation. You wouldn't want 'Phoenix Rising' to escape because
of something that you missed, now, would you?"
"Oh, I don't miss much," said Matt
sharply. He tugged on his lapel, briefly showing his Illuminati pin.
"You know that the upper-echelon
members don't approve of wearing the Society's badge in public," said Hacker
in a low voice, carefully leading the red-haired detective away from the hot
dog cart. "Keep this up, and you might be earning yourself a dishonorable discharge."
"Actually, it's probably a good
thing that I'm not part of the investigation," said Matt, ignoring Hacker's
warning. "I've had a lot of time to think it over. One little question keeps
bugging me. Just what is the Illuminati's stake in this whole affair?"
"And what makes you think that the
Illuminati have anything to do with this?" asked Hacker patiently.
"Well, that tape for one thing,"
said Matt. "The one that was addressed to my partner's friends. Afraid that
you'd be giving the game away if you were the one who delivered it, Hacker?"
Hacker said nothing, but simply
munched silently on his hot dog. When it was clear enough that he would make
no reply, Matt continued.
"Yeah, that tape was suspicious
enough, Hacker," he said. "The way that it invited Goliath and the rest of the
gargoyles to Long Island. Reminded me a lot of that Hotel Cabal scheme with
Mace Malone. And what about David Xanatos? Mace told me that Mr. X is a member
of the club. Now, I know that Xanatos is too clever to get directly involved
with terrorists, and he's not sloppy. And yet, there's that tape. The Society's
fingerprints are all over this thing, if you know to look for them."
Hacker finished his lunch waiting
for Matt to finish presenting his case.
"So here's what I think. The Illuminati
want to get their hands on the gargoyles, and they want to frame Xanatos for
'Phoenix Rising'. You want to tell me why and how, Hacker?"
Hacker stopped sipping his soda,
and looked straight at him. "Why do I need to tell you, Matthew? You seem to
be answering your own questions nicely enough without any help from me."
"All right, I'll come straight out
and say it," said Matt. "Why are the Illuminati backing 'Phoenix Rising'?"
"You know the rules, Matthew," said
Hacker, wiping the crumbs from the hot dog bun off his gloves. "'Need to know'.
Matt glowered at him. "As I recall
from my Latin 'Illuminati' means 'the Enlightened Ones'. So if I'm an Illuminatus,
why am I being kept in the dark?"
"Don't be like that, Matthew. It's
all for the best."
"The best?" replied Matt sharply.
"For whom? Certainly not for the Xanatos's."
"And since when have you worried
about what happens to them?"
Matt stared at him grimly.
Hacker relented at last. "Maybe
you'll benefit by watching the examples of others, Matthew. This is just a disciplinary
action. Xanatos is simply being reminded of the obligations that he holds to
"All those good people died as a
lesson?!" Matt said aghast. His face paled in anger. "Eight good officers died
in that explosion on Wall Street. Was that all part of your plan?"
"It was... unfortunate," said Hacker,
after a moment's pause, with a bit of a shrug. "But you needn't worry. 'Phoenix
Rising' is being disciplined for it as well. In a couple of days, it'll be a
thing of the past, and things can get back to normal."
"You still let them die," said Matt,
glaring at him.
"Let me make one thing perfectly
clear, Matthew," said Hacker in an equally sharp tone of voice, his original
demeanor of pleasantness now gone. "I did not let anything happen. Nobody in
New York was even supposed to know about those bombs, especially the NYPD. Why
do you think the Bureau took over the case and kicked everyone else off?"
"How's the view from that fence
you're sitting on?" Matt asked him in return. "How long do you think that you
can be both a member of the FBI and an Illuminatus? Because I can tell you right
now, they're on different sides right now."
"I can stay on that fence just as
long as you can," replied Hacker. "Or have you forgotten, Matthew? On whose
behalf are you speaking, anyway? Yours? Elisa's? The gargoyles'? Before you
go around asking me where my loyalties lie, you just might want to take a good
long look in the mirror."
And with that, he turned away and
walked down the sidewalk. Suddenly, he halted in his steps, and turned his head
around to face Matt. "Oh, and if you've got any pull with the gargoyles, you
might want to suggest that they accept Mr. Benson's offer. It's the best choice
for them, and the best choice for this city."
And with that, he was gone, leaving
Matt standing on the sidewalk alone.
* * * * *
Fox took a deep breath as the elevator
reached the ground floor of the Eyrie Building. She had cast the "spell of inconspicuousness"
upon herself on the way down, just as her mother had taught her. "Now to see
if it actually works," she muttered as the doors opened, admitting her to the
She stepped out of the elevator,
and walked among the crowd of Xanatos Enterprises employees leaving the building
at the end of the day. Not one of them seemed to notice her. Even the security
guards glanced briefly at her, then went back to their work. Fox smiled.
She walked past two federal agents
in formal suits standing next to the revolving doors. Neither one seemed to
notice her. In a moment, she was out of the building, standing on the sidewalk.
"Free at last." She twirled and stretched in sheer delight.
"Taxi! Hey Taxi!" Fox yelled some
minutes later as another hack passed her by. "There's a downside to this thing."
She walked up to a well-dressed gentleman who had successfully flagged down
a cab. "You're such a darling," she purred as she stepped around him into the
car. "Driver take me to the 23rd Precinct Station!" He nodded and
pulled away from the curb.
* * * * *
Elisa arrived at the police station
just before rush hour. She headed for the locker room to change into her uniform,
but was stopped by Captain Chavez.
"You won't need those blues tonight,
detective. I want you and Bluestone to corroborate the statements of the firemen
and the security guards from the courthouse bombing."
"All right, Captain." She tried
mightily to keep the relief from her voice and almost succeeded.
"Also, that reporter from The
Sentinel is hanging around your desk. Get rid of him."
"Yes, Captain." Elisa stowed her
uniform then went to track down Jerry Pearson. She found him attempting to interview
an FBI agent. He concluded his interview as soon as she made eye contact.
"Detective Maza," he greeted warmly.
"Hi Jerry. Any luck with the Fed?"
"I've seen more talkative clams,"
he complained. "You know they haven't had a single press briefing since the
explosion? Information keeps showing up at T.V. stations and in our press room,
but there's no way to corroborate it. It's like someone's baiting us," he added
"I hear you, Jerry. They're doing
it to us too. Freezing us out of the investigation. Letting us run errands,
to make us feel useful."
"Is that on the record?"
"Unnamed source, but yeah." Elisa
took the reporter's arm and steered him out of the squad room. "That's all I
can tell you, except that the Captain doesn't want to see your face right now."
She paused. "Jerry, maybe you can do something for me. I've read some of your
editorials. I think we need one now. A 'voice of reason' type thing. Something
to counteract the nightly news."
"I appreciate your optimism. But
one picture is worth..."
"I know, I know, A thousand words.
So find a picture, Jerry. Show the city its face." Elisa's voice cracked under
the strain of the last few days. "See if you can make the people see themselves
in the mirror."
"I'll try, Elisa. I'll try."
* * * * *
Applause rang in the busy squad
room. Elisa turned around to see a petite blond teenaged girl dressed for a
rave standing behind her. "What are you doing here?" she asked, startled.
"That was beautiful." Fox said,
ignoring Elisa's question. She looked around. "Is there anywhere we can talk,
"Do I know you?" the detective asked,
"Detective Maza, it's me, Fox Xanatos!"
the teenager said urgently. "Please, I'm not sure how long I can keep this up."
Elisa hustled her quickly into an empty supply room. "How'd you get passed everybody?
Why are you here?" Elisa asked once they were alone.
"Mother stopped by for a visit.
She taught me a new trick. You can notice me because I spoke to you, but to
anybody else, I'm just one more person in the background." She stumbled a little
and Elisa automatically reached out a hand to steady her. "The problem is I
don't have a lot of control over the spell. It's kind of like running a marathon
and juggling at the same time."
She dropped the spell and Elisa
blinked as the teenager turned into a woman. "So why are you here?" Elisa asked
her, getting down to business.
"I'm going to find 'Phoenix Rising'.
Find them and expose them. But I need help." She smiled at the detective hopefully.
"I don't suppose you have any leads?"
"Actually..." She froze as the door
to the supply room opened and grabbed for a tablet of paper, "Let's see, I need
arrest reports..." she pulled a stack of forms at random.
"Arrest reports are on the top shelf.
Those are stolen property logs."
"Matt!" Elisa cried as she spun
to greet her partner. "Uh, what brings you here?"
"Hello Mrs. X." he waved to Fox.
"I needed a new pen... Mrs. X!" He skipped a beat. "Elisa what's going on?"
"It's a long story," said Fox.
Matt stared at Fox for a moment
before continuing. "It's just as well you're here. I ran into, uh, my friend
today. I think I rubbed his fur the wrong way."
"Did you find out anything?" Elisa
"Plenty," he replied. "But we'd
better get out of here first. Her too," he said as he pointed to Fox.
* * * * *
A few minutes later, the three of
them were in Elisa's car, driving past the thick crowds still practically camping
on the station house's doorstep. Elisa checked her rear-view mirror, and smiled
in relief. "Looks like we've lost our tail," she said.
"After what you put them through
last night, who can blame them?" said Matt with a grin. He leaned back to address
Fox. "Fox, check below the seat, you should find my hat. That red hair and tattoo's
a bit flashy."
"The spell broke? Blast!" Fox searched
for the baseball cap. "I didn't feel it slip that time."
"Huh?" Matt said, confused. "Oh
right." He said putting things together at last.
"It takes a lot of effort to keep
it going," Fox tucked her hair in the cap, pulling out a ponytail and tugging
the brim well over her face.
"You thought a blonde aerobic instructor
would be less noticeable?" Matt asked.
"What are you talking about, she
was a party girl," Elisa argued.
"It's the spell," Fox explained,
"You see what you want to see. Something easily dismissed.
"So, what did 'your friend' say?"
Elisa asked trying to keep the conversation on track.
"Well" said Matt, gathering his
thoughts. "The Illuminati are definitely involved in it. They framed Xanatos."
"What?!" Elisa cried.
"I knew it," said Fox. "But how
do you know about the Illuminati?"
"Don't get him started." Elisa cautioned.
Matt gave her a dirty look before
answering. "He said it was a lesson... a disciplinary action, to remind Mr.
X. of his obligations."
"That makes sense. I think David's
been ignoring them lately. Since our marriage, The Society hasn't seemed to
interest my husband anymore." Fox said thoughtfully, recalling events of the
"My contact said that 'Phoenix Rising'
was partly set up to teach Xanatos a lesson," Matt explained. "And partly so
that the Illuminati could get their hands on the gargoyles."
"I might have known," said Elisa
in disgust. "It seems that nearly everybody in the world either wants to control
Goliath and his clan, or destroy them. I suppose it was only a matter of time
before the Illuminati decided to join in. So I suppose that Lionel Benson's
one of them."
"Lionel, who?" Fox asked perplexed.
"I'll explain later," said Elisa.
"You know, there's something familiar
about that Benson guy," said Matt, frowning thoughtfully. "Almost as if I've
seen him somewhere before. I just can't place him."
* * * * *
"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
Welcome to Nightwatch. I'm your host, Travis Marshall. Tonight,
we're continuing our coverage of the latest 'gargoyle crisis' that is rocking
New York, thanks to the emergence of 'Phoenix Rising'. With me in the studio
is Alderman John Holmes." He turned to the moustached man in a smart-looking
business suit, seated to his right. "Mr. Holmes," Marshall began. "I understand
that you've been adamant in your demands about deporting the gargoyles ever
since their revelation to the general public?"
"Absolutely," said the alderman.
"Why should this city be in chaos over a handful of illegal aliens? Deport them
out of the country. End of problem."
"Countering this statement is Nicholas
Maddox, CEO of Maddox Technologies, speaking to us from his home." Marshall,
gestured to the screen on his left. "Thank you for joining us Mr. Maddox."
"Yes!" cried Lexington eagerly,
jumping up in his excitement. When the others stared at him, he shrugged and
said, "Hey, he's on our side. Isn't that reason enough to be rooting for him?"
Lexington's clanmates and the others
gathered around the Labyrinth's television set looked at him oddly then returned
their attention to the screen.
Maddox opened his mouth to rebut
Holmes statement, but was cut off by Travis Marshall.
"Sorry to interrupt," he said, "but
we've just received a report that rioting has broken out in the 23rd precinct, and we're covering it now, live. Over to you, Nicole."
Goliath leaped to his feet in alarm,
even as the scene on the television set changed to a scene of turmoil in the
city streets. "This is Nicole St. John," said the blonde reporter, standing
carefully at some distance from the fighting now taking place on the screen.
"I'm reporting live from Central Park just one scene of many being played out
all over the city. What began as a peaceful rally against 'Phoenix Rising' turned
ugly tonight, as demonstrators lost their tempers. Blows were exchanged and
the violence escalated. There are reports that gunshots have been fired. Earlier
today..." The footage switched to a similar scene. "It was supporters of the
controversial group that ignited during a demonstration in front of City Hall..."
"I've heard enough!" bellowed Goliath,
his eyes blazing white. He turned and charged towards the entrance to the Labyrinth,
but Brooklyn and Sata managed to hold him back.
"Goliath, wait for a minute!" said
Brooklyn desperately to his leader. "Let's hear what she's got to say first."
Goliath sighed, and reluctantly
turned around to face the television set. Nicole St. John continued with her
"Police have been quick to respond,
riot squads have been dispatched throughout the city to hot spots. Arrests have
been numerous. No number has yet to be officially released, but estimates have
it at least two hundred and fifty and climbing. The NYPD has asked us to urge
everybody to stay indoors. Repeating our story, rioting has broken out throughout
New York City."
"We must leave, now," said Goliath.
"No! Don't go out there, Goliath!"
Fox stood in the doorway.
"Why not?" asked Goliath sharply,
a low growl at the back of his throat.
"Elisa sent me," she began, using
the one name that could momentarily calm the enraged Goliath.
"I'm listening," said Goliath, looking
at her warily.
"Elisa wants you to stay here,"
said Fox. "She believes that if you are seen that the rioting will get worse."
Goliath didn't look convinced. "She needs to know that you're all out of harm's
way so that she can do her job."
"I am not over fond of hiding,"
"Look at it as a different way of
protecting the city," said Fox. "If you stay here people may start to cool down
after a while. But if you do get seen, it would be like pouring gasoline on
a fire. The best thing that you can do for this city is to stay in the Labyrinth...
at least, for now."
"Very well," said Goliath reluctantly.
"I've got information on 'Phoenix
Rising'. Let me bring you up to date." She took Goliath's arm ignoring the looks
of surprise. "Is there someplace we can talk?"
Goliath nodded. He escorted Fox
to the kitchen while the others drifted off to other pursuits.
* * * * *
Mr. Duval watched the evening news
from his study, a troubled look on his face. A map of the city was now being
displayed on the television screen, showing how the fighting had radiated from
the 23rd precinct police station. Flash points were appearing in Central Park,
and outside the Eyrie Building. The camera switched to a compilation of videotape
chronicling the violence.
Duval groaned, shaking his head,
as the violence continued to rage across Manhattan. People ran through Central
Park, throwing bottles, rocks, or anything else that they could find at the
police. Protesters snatched up sledgehammers, and set to work smashing any statue
that they could find, amid cries of "Kill the monsters!" Others stood around
them, cheering them eagerly. Some charged at a brownstone townhouse, demolishing
it and the statues on its cornices, as the owner stood by helplessly.
"'The blood-dimmed tide is loosed,
and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned'," quoted Duval
to himself. "'The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full
of passionate intensity.'" He stared at rioters, who had attacked a startled
jogger, forcing him to flee for his life.
Duval switched the set off, and
buried his face in his hands.
* * * * *
The destruction playing out on the
television was an irresistible magnet. One by one, the clans gathered before
the set drawn by the cries of disbelief of their clanmates.
Maddened citizens pounded statues
along Central Park West, reducing them to rubble.
"Shut it off, lad," Hudson told
Broadway. "I don't think we need to see anymore."
Broadway turned off the television.
He put his arm around Angela.
"Maybe we should leave," said Angela.
"We'd be safer on Avalon," she offered.
"New York is our home," protested
Brooklyn. "We can't abandon it."
"What choice do we have?" asked
Angela. "They don't want us here, and we're only risking our lives by staying.
Besides, maybe Mr. Holmes was right. Maybe the city would be better off without
"You can't say that, Angela!" said
Broadway. "Think of all the good things we've done. The people we've helped."
"And think of all the damage that
the Quarrymen and now these people did to the city, trying to destroy us," said
Angela gloomily. "It's us that they hate, not the other humans. If we'd never
come here in the first place... These riots are all our fault."
"They smashed us as we slept at
Wyvern." Lexington reminded the others. "They'd do it again in a heartbeat a
thousand years later. Some progress."
"I have considered all of this,"
said Goliath, joining them. Fox was at his side. "And it is true that we are
all in danger here. But that is precisely why we cannot leave."
"If you ask me, that's exactly why
we've got to leave," said Lexington sourly.
"There are some things more important
than survival," Goliath countered. "Our duty is to protect our home, and protect
it we must, even if it costs us our lives. We must chose to stay here in Manhattan
and serve as its guardians, not because it is easy, but because it is right."
"Besides, I don't think that we'd
be solving anything by running away," said Brooklyn. Sata gave him an uncomfortable
glance and the children eyed him as well.
"Dad," Ariana mouthed.
Brooklyn ignored her. "Macbeth said
once that Demona took her clan and broke their alliance after she overheard
his father-in-law suggest that his enemies would retreat if he got rid of the
gargoyles. It didn't help. The English still sacked Castle Moray."
The other gargoyles were silent,
listening. At last they nodded.
"We'll stay, then," said Angela.
"But I just can't help wondering, father, whether... "
A street urchin entered the room
just then, and whispered something in Talon's ear. The Mutate listened with
interest, his eyes brightening. He patted the boy on the head, and walked over
to the gargoyles.
"Good news," he said to them. "Justin's
discovered 'Phoenix Rising's' headquarters."
"Where?" asked Goliath.
"Down by the docks near the garment
district," said Elisa's brother. "They're holed up in an abandoned sweatshop."
"We must leave at once," said Goliath.
"Out into that mob?" asked Lexington.
"You've got to be kidding."
"We have no choice," said Goliath.
"Now that we know where those terrorists are hiding, we must seek them out and
turn them over to human justice. It is our duty as protectors."
"No, Goliath. Please do this my
way!" Fox argued.
"I cannot let you go alone." Goliath
"I'll escort the lady." Talon stepped
in smoothly. "If she'll allow me?"
"I need a guide. Thanks." Fox gave
the mutate a look of appreciation. "And I suppose it couldn't hurt to have someone
at my back."
Talon turned to Maggie, Claw, and
Sharon. "Keep a close eye on things here," he told them. "And let Elisa know
what's going on." Then he turned and extended an arm. "After you." Fox took
a deep breath and disappeared into the tunnel, Talon close at her heels.
Goliath watched them leave frustration
evident upon his features.
Brooklyn took him aside. "Sometimes
you have to let others fight your battles, Goliath."
"Knowing what is best does not always
make what must be done any easier," he brooded.
"Believe me," Brooklyn confided.
"I know. Trust me, I know."
* * * * *
They halted at a ladder that led
to the surface. Fox put her foot on the first rung and began to climb. Talon
stopped her. "Take this," he said handing her his miniature microphone. "I'll
wait for your call."
"Thanks." She climbed up the ladder
until she was directly below the sewer grate. "By the hearts of men both
strong and meek/Give me the power to be what they seek." She emerged
from the sewers.
On one side of her were docks and
wharves jutting out into the river. Behind her stood a long warehouse with burnt-out
windows near the roof. Fox approached the front door, then paused. There was
motion in the alley. Moving cautiously, she saw four men waiting by a side door.
One of them knocked on it. "Come
on, open up!" he called. "It's cold out here!"
Fox waited until the door closed.
She entered the alley and approached the door. She knocked on the door. "Come
on it's cold out here!" The door flung open, the door keeper tensed, then relaxed.
"Oh, it's you, Don," the sentry
waved her in, "I thought you couldn't make it."
"With all that's going on out there,
where else would I be?" Fox answered smoothly.
"Too right," he jerked his head
toward the interior of the warehouse, "Clifford's up in his office. Something's
ready to go down."
"Can't wait." Fox slipped past the
guard and made directly for the stairs leading to the second level. Fox noticed
right away the differences between Phoenix Rising and it's predecessor, the
Quarrymen. Phoenix Rising was plain clothes. Not a hood or hammer in the place.
The walls were lined with rifles and shotguns, even some particle weaponry.
Phoenix Rising seemed like a working man's hate group. Fox passed what was once
the lunchroom. Mostly men, but some woman lounged around the tables, watching
the TV. None spared a glance in Fox's direction so she moved on.
She slipped into a restroom to give
herself a few minutes breathing space. She dropped the spell and smiled wryly
as she concentrated on happy thoughts as her mother and Owen had instructed
her. Feeling much stronger, she recast the spell and ventured back out into
the corridor. She took a deep breath. 'Phoenix Rising' was on the move.
She passed effortlessly through
the building, a few people paused to give her a casual wave. Most ignored her
entirely. She climbed up the stairs to the floor above, and made her way to
what had once been the manager's office. The door was open, and she peered in.
A dozen television sets, many of
them portables perched on folding tables, stood ranged about the room, continuing
to report on the riots taking place. Two men were watching them, one a neatly-dressed
man in his late twenties, seated in a swivel chair, the other a thirtyish man
in more casual attire. The seated man was taking notes.
She overheard a voice talking on
the phone. "Then we're all set? Excellent. Wait for my call before you detonate."
The caller hung up the phone curtly. He turned in his swivel chair, staring
directly at Fox.
"Hello Janine, what a pleasant surprise."
The man smiled.
Fox held her breath. Did her
spell fail? No, only David and her parents knew her given name. She was
about to comment when someone came bursting in. A young man in his late teens
with a black T-shirt and jeans. His face was flush from running.
"Man, this is it! This is it! It's
all going down Mr. Clifford!"
"Calm down, Chris." Clifford poured
the boy a glass of water. "Tell me."
"The Police are locking down the
city," Chris reported. "They got our man at the Park and the sharpshooter at
the Eyrie Building. They're picking us off, one by one."
"Not before we reach our goal,"
Clifford reassured his follower, "We'll stop the gargoyles, by taking out their
"But the police have the Eyrie building
locked down tight. No way we can hit the castle."
Inwardly, Fox gave a sigh of relief.
She kept her eyes and ears open. Quietly, she moved closer to catch every word.
"You're a good man, but you do not
see the greater picture," Clifford admonished Chris, "We need to take out their
support in the government, the mewling cowards of City Hall."
Chris suddenly smiled with dawning
realization. "You got a bomb into City Hall!" His eyes widened in excitement.
"When are you going to blow it?"
"Soon, very soon. " Clifford patted
Chris on the shoulder. "We'll finally get City Hall moving in our direction."
"In a million pieces," Fox said
under her breath.
Clifford escorted Chris out of the
office nodding absently in agreement at the excited teenager's enthusiasm. He
gently propelled the boy out into the corridor and closed the door. He looked
up sharply at the older man who'd been assisting him. "Quickly! Go verify young
The aide nodded and followed the
excited youth out of the office.
"Alone at last, my pet." Clifford
looked up at Fox. "I am so glad you came to share this, our shining hour, with
"Of course, darling," Fox improvised
quickly. "Where would I be but at your side?" She moved towards him and he reached
forward to pull her into an embrace. Fox cold cocked him with a sharp rap to
the temple. Robert Clifford slid to the floor, unconscious.
"Fox, you've still got it! Now let's
get the goods. Wait! City Hall!" She reached for her transmitter. "Goliath!
Goliath do you read me?"
Lexington looked up sharply from
the computer magazine he'd been reading. "Goliath, Fox is transmitting! And
she's asking for you."
Goliath moved rapidly to Lexington's
side. He removed his headset and handed it to his clan leader.
"Yes, Fox, I am here." Goliath held
the speaker to his ear.
Fox paced back and forth in the
office, searching cabinets and desk drawers. "You've got to get to City Hall.
Phoenix Rising's placed another bomb, in the building. They're going to blow
up the mayor and the council members."
"We're on our way, get out of there
and contact the police," Goliath ordered.
"No can do," Fox found a cabinet
lined with video and audio tapes. She began checking their labels. "I've got
to find some proof. Don't worry, I'll be fine."
"Fox..." Goliath began to argue,
but she clicked off the microphone.
She looked down at the unconscious
form of Robert Clifford. He began to stir. She gave him a lady-like foot to
the temple and he settled back down. She didn't have much time. Finally, she
found a tape that looked promising.
There was a cassette player on Clifford's
desk. Popping the demo tape in, she listened with her fingers cross. "Come on!
Come on!" she prayed as the tape began to unwind.
"Are you ready, Mr. Hill?" a tinny
voice came over the studio's microphone.
"I need my lucky worry stone first,"
the actor held everything up, "I can't perform without it."
"What's to perform?" Clifford now
came over the off studio mic, his mild demeanor slipping "You imitate Mr. Xanatos's
voice and say the lines. This isn't theater in the round."
"I found it! I found your rock!"
a young voice crowed.
"Probably lose his head if it wasn't
screw on his neck," Clifford said sullenly, "Are you ready to 'perform' now?"
"Let's go," Mr. Hill gave the go
"Yes, we received the material,"
the Phoenix Rising voice confirmed.
"You're satisfied, then?" Mr. Hill
did a stunning impression of her husband.
Fox didn't hear any more of the
tape. A loud banging at the door brought her back to the present. Fox looked
up at the door. "Mr. Clifford, everyone's waiting for you. Mr. Clifford? Hello?"
* * * * *
On a good night, with prevailing
winds, the flight from the west side to City Hall wouldn't have taken more than
five minutes. But Fate was conspiring against them. Many of the rioters had
escaped to the rooftops with their guns. Shooting started as soon as the gargoyles
took to the air.
"Let me wrap those rifles around
their necks," Broadway prepared to dive.
"We don't have time," Goliath held
the blue green gargoyle back, "That bomb can go off any minute. We have to save
The gargoyles gained an updraft
that took them high above the rooftops. The clock continued to tick.
* * * * *
Matt tugged at his riot helmet and
tried to look threatening as he stood before the City Council chambers shoulder
to shoulder in a phalanx of protective blue. Elisa stood at his side, her baton
resting comfortably against her hip.
The last member of the Council,
Alderman John Holmes, arrived moments before the meeting was to begin, clearly
in a foul mood as he stepped out of his car. As he passed by Matt on his way
up the steps to the City Hall's entrance, he glowered at the detective.
"Bluestone. You're finally doing
a job that suits your qualifications. This is partially your fault, you know,"
he said sharply. "If you'd done your job as the head of the Gargoyle Task Force
this situation would be happening. There wouldn't be any riots or an emergency
council meeting!" Before Matt could reply, he stormed inside of the building.
"Well, he's certainly a charming
fellow," said Matt to Elisa. "If I ever get a fruitcake for Christmas, I'll
know who to send it to."
Suddenly, Elisa's two-way radio
buzzed. "I'm here. Go ahead," replied as unobtrusively as possible.
"Elisa? It's me, Lex. Fox found
'Phoenix Rising's' headquarters. She got in! Elisa, they're going to bomb the
City Hall! You've got to get everyone out of there!"
"What?" said Elisa in alarm. "Lexington,
quick! Give me the details!"
Elisa grabbed Matt, breaking the
phalanx. "'Phoenix Rising has mined the building! Let's move!"
* * * * *
High above the crowds, in an office
building across the way from City Hall, two men watched the arrival of the City
Council members through a set of high-resolution binoculars.
"Any word from Clifford?" The first
man asked his companion. The second man shook his head. Number One went back
to scanning the crowd. "What's Clifford waiting for? The Council meeting's getting
under way. Now is perfect."
Number Two panned the crowd with
his own binoculars. "You know, the crowd there is supporting our cause." He
pointed out the many 'Get rid of the gargoyles' signs waving in the evening
breeze. "They'll get caught in the blast."
"So?" Number One said callously,
"A few days ago, these people didn't care one way or the other. Today they're
with us, in a week they might be against us. They're sheep, bleating and milling
about mindlessly. We're not doing this for them, we're doing it for us."
Number Two didn't say anymore, he
just waited for the call.
* * * * *
"Elisa, look up!" Matt tilted his
partner's chin upward as he roared over the din of the crowd. Gargoyles on the
wing were heading straight for City Hall.
Elisa smiled in relief and then
her face clouded with worry. "Why does he always have to be so brave? Come on
Matt, we've got to provide some ground support."
Their warning to the Riot Squad
Team Leader began to have effect. Equestrian officers move in smoothly, interspersing
themselves among the crowd and casually moving them away from the City Hall.
The ground forces followed in their wake further dispersing the crowds.
Bluestone spotted Martin Hacker
and began to push people aside in his effort to reach the FBI agent.
Hacker was getting off his own cellular,
when he spotted Matt and Elisa approaching. He gave a long-suffering sigh. "Save
it, Bluestone, my spotters have already sighted the gargoyles. They'll be here
within minutes and I have orders to take them alive."
"There's a bomb in City Hall," Matt
said, cutting off his former partner. "Evacuation procedures are underway. But
we need everyone's help right now!"
"Look around," Hacker nodded behind
them. The crowd was surly, and resisting efforts directed at making them leave
the area. "You want to break that up fine, but I have my orders."
"From which side of the fence?"
Matt asked quietly.
Hacker looked at his ex-partner
stunned. With a frown and a tug on his hat, Hacker got on the walkie-talkies.
Agents in plain gray suits began to assist with crowd control. Matt gave his
ex-partner a grateful smile. It looked like everything was going to turn out
all right, when somebody in the crowd saw the gargoyles. Pandemonium ensued.
* * * * *
A key turned in the door and Clifford's
aide, followed by two armed security guards forced their way into the room.
Fox stuffed the cassette into her pocket. She started to mutter her spell, but
couldn't muster the concentration. "By the hearts of men..." she
began as the door opened and Clifford sat up holding his head.
"You!" He exclaimed as he crawled
to his feet. His followers, their guns at the ready moved in.
Fox backed against the window and
flung it open. She glanced over her shoulder, too high to jump. "Uh oh." She
smiled at the gunmen. "Now guys, there's no reason to be hasty. Maybe we can
cut a deal," she smiled hopefully.
"Make sure they find her body someplace
public," Clifford said viciously.
Guns trained on her. Fox backed
up against the windowsill. She tensed, willing herself to jump. She leaned backwards
and a pair of furry hands grabbed her from behind. She was falling. Then she
was flying. Fox looked up and saw Talon.
"Lucky for you, I tagged along,"
Talon said by way of greeting.
"Lucky me. Thank you, Derek," Fox
managed before gunshots rang out. Talon tucked and rolled as they made good
their escape. Phoenix Rising kept firing even as their targets glided away.
Police began to pour through the
warehouse doors, ending the reign of "Phoenix Rising."
* * * * *
"Gargoyles!" Somebody yelled.
The crowd stampeded. Some ran for
the relative safety of the City Hall or other buildings. Others began to try
and attack the creatures winging towards them as floodlights were brought to
bear. Gunfire began to rain down on the crowd as misguided citizens fired blindly
In the midst of the chaos, the police
and FBI agents continued grimly to attempt to disburse the crowd and evacuate
the City Council.
Hacker roared into his cell phone
then shook his head. "There's no way to get them out!" he yelled at Matt in
Matt shook his head, pointed and
grinned. Hacker followed his gaze and his jaw dropped. The gargoyles were heading
straight for the Council Chamber.
Elisa looked upward silently thanking
everyone she could think of. An odd glint in a window caught her eye. Something
"Hacker!" she yelled, fighting her
way through the crowd. "Tell your agents to search the neighboring buildings!"
Elisa pointed at the office buildings across the street.
Hacker just got off the phone with
riot control. "Why? What for?"
"Just do it!" Matt backed his partner.
Hacker called his men, ordering
them to search all the buildings circling the City Hall. When he hung up the
phone, he cast both a dark look. "We could use their help right now," he said
pointed towards the gargoyles. "You might want to tell those gargoyles of yours
to back off. They're not making things any easier."
"Shut up and watch, Hacker," Elisa
growled with satisfaction.
* * * * *
"If we could bring this meeting
to order?" The mayor rapped his gavel against the table and cleared his throat.
"I know the crowd outside is distracting, but ladies and gentlemen we have a
crisis on our hands..."
"I don't know, Phil, I think you
should see this," one alderwoman said, nervously.
Curiosity overcame the City Council.
They gathered at the window and watched the riot unfold.
* * * * *
"Quickly, now! We haven't much time!"
Goliath dove downward, heedless of his own safety as he made for City Hall.
He landed on the window ledge. The rest of the clan followed slightly behind
him. The startled Council people jumped back in alarm.
Goliath put his first through the
window and opened it. An alderman staggered backward, stunned.
"A bomb has been planted in the
building. We will take you to safety." Goliath offered his hand.
"What?" an alderwoman sneered at
"Come on! We don't have a lot of
time!" Brooklyn pressed them. "Do you want to die?"
"No," the mayor answered.
"Then come with us!" Goliath urged
with all his being. The mayor hesitated, then climbed on Goliath's back. The
others followed suite. Alderman Holmes looked ready to protest then realizing
that he was the only one left climbed into Sata's arms, and fainted.
* * * * *
"Where on earth is Clifford!" Number
One paced in front of his outpost window tearing his eyes away from the rescue
at City Hall only long enough to stare at his still mute cellular phone. "We
have the gargoyles and the city's leaders all in one place. What is he waiting
for?" He reached for the detonator, his patience exhausted. "Something must
have gone wrong at headquarters. We can't wait anymore. I'm blowing it."
The tiny telephone rang. As Number
Two reached for it, the door burst open and two FBI agents hurtled themselves
through, their rifles trained on the bombers. Number One's fingers closed around
the detonator, but the spotter was faster. The control pad exploded in a thousand
plastic bits. The phone continued to ring.
* * * * *
The crowd began to calm as they
slowly took notice of the escaping City Council. Law enforcement pressed its
advantage and announced the bomb threat. The crowd began to disperse in earnest,
dropping their signs and placards in their haste to evacuate.
"Things going our way?" Hacker looked
amazed at the order emerging from the chaos, "That can't be right."
"Anything's possible with gargoyles
involved," Elisa smiled.
Hacker's walkie-talkie beeped loudly.
Hacker answered it. "You have them? Excellent. Get 'em down to booking quickly."
He turned to the detectives. "Team four found a couple of guys with a remote
in a high-rise catty-corner from here. How did you know?"
"It was a hunch," Elisa shrugged,
"The last bomb was activated by remote. I figured someone did it near by."
"Well I'm impressed. Got quite a
partner there, Bluestone." Hacker excused himself, leaving Elisa and Matt to
deal with the fading remnants of the mob.
* * * * *
"You saved us from danger," the
Mayor thanked Goliath, "Why? We haven't exactly welcomed you with open arms."
"It's not about welcome," Goliath
explained, "A gargoyle protects. You were in danger; we acted to help. For that
is who we are."
With a flurry of wings the gargoyles
departed leaving the arriving FBI and NYPD officers to take care of the mayor
and the city council members. The humans stared bewildered at the departing
gargoyles until they vanished into the night.
* * * * *
"Good evening. I'm Travis Marshall.
Tonight's top story: Last night, an anonymous tip led police to the garment
district headquarters of alleged terrorist group 'Phoenix Rising'. Numerous
arrests were made and a large cache of explosive materials confiscated. A citywide
manhunt is underway for suspected 'Phoenix Rising' leader, Robert Clifford,
who eluded police in last night's raid.
"In related news, Billionaire industrialist
David Xanatos was released from custody, after authorities found audio tapes
at the 'Phoenix Rising' headquarters of a voice actor impersonating Mr. Xanatos.
That actor, whose name has not been released, is being sought for questioning
in his role in the conspiracy to implicate Mr. Xanatos as the source of munitions
in Phoenix Rising's' recent campaign of terror against the City of New York.
Mr. Xanatos was reunited with his family, wife, Fox and son, Alexander earlier
"And he's not the only one who's
glad to be back," said Brooklyn, as the gargoyles stood in the entertainment
room of their wing at the castle, watching the news.
"Yeah," said Lexington. "But how
about Robert Clifford? Do you think that they'll find him?"
"I hope so," said Angela. "There's
something about him that scares me, even more than Castaway did."
"I know what you mean. People whose
hate is fueled by conviction..." Elisa shuddered and Goliath wrapped an arm
around her. "I brought you tonight's Daily Sentinel. Check it out." She
turned the paper to the Op-Ed section and handed it to Goliath. There was a
photograph of a man, his features distorted by rage as he raised his fist to
strike a blow at another person, whose features were obscured. A fire burned
in the background. Underneath was a short editorial column.
A police officer
asked me to hold a mirror to the city.
If it saw its face, the officer reasoned, then maybe the madness would stop.
Last night, this was the face of a city united in hate.
Look at this face and look in the mirror.
What were you doing last night?
~ Jerry Pearson ~
"Were you that police officer, Elisa?"
Broadway asked as Goliath finished reading the editorial.
"Yeah, I don't know what I expected
when I asked Jerry to do something. I think that there's going to be a lot of
guilty people trying to figure out how to deal with what they did over the last
couple of days."
"Well," David said as he entered
the room with Fox on his arm. "I think we can do something about that. The theater
benefit has been extended over the next two weeks. My private foundation, and
that of several other large corporations, including Nightstone Unlimited," he
glanced at Angela, who smiled back proudly, "are joining together to organize
a volunteer drive to repair the damage from the riots. And I think that if Goliath
and the clans were to take advantage of the occasional photo-op, while doing
a good deed, it wouldn't hurt their cause in the least."
"Couldn't hurt," agreed Brooklyn.
The others slowly nodded their agreement.
"Maybe I should get a new fedora,"
Angela slapped him on the bicep.
"Do not let the idea of publicity go to your head, my love," she warned. There
was a smile beneath the threat.
* * * * *
"This is only a minor setback,"
said Robert Clifford, seated by himself on the train heading for Boston. He
contemplated the view outside his window and consoled himself. "Every noble
cause goes through its time of trial. But it triumphs in the end. I can make
it through this bleak hour. Be patient, Clifford. Those demons cannot thrive
* * * * *
Xanatos was happily playing with
Alex in his office when Owen entered, a dour look on his face. "Mr. Duval is
on the phone again, sir," he said. "Should I tell him that you are out?"
"No, Owen," said Xanatos, handing
Alex to his aide. "I'll take it from here."
He held up the cellular phone to
his ear. "Xanatos, here."
"I trust that you have learned your
lesson from all this, David."
"Trust me, sir, I have," said Xanatos,
his voice sounding tight.
"Then perhaps we can avoid similar
such lessons in the future," said the leader of the Illuminati Society. "Good
day to you." The connection severed. Xanatos switched the cellular phone off,
and leaned back in his chair, frowning thoughtfully. At last, he got up, shrugged
off the frown, and took Alex back from Owen's hands.
* * * * *
Duval labored over his computer
keyboard typing a report. He paused to read what he had written, backspaced
a few times and reworded a sentence. Finally he saved the report to a file,
pulled up his e-mail program and selected a series of addresses. He attached
the report, hit the "Send" key, then printed a copy for himself. He picked the
hard copy up out of the printer tray, adjusted his reading glasses on his nose,
and read the report he had transmitted only a few moments before.
"PROJECT PHOENIX RISING - RESULTS:
There is a traditional saying: 'I've got some good news and some bad news.'
Those words are very apt for the outcome of this project.
"The good news is that our primary
goal has been achieved. David Xanatos was reminded of his duties to the Society.
It seems very likely that he has been given a new healthy respect for the wishes
of the Illuminati. It is very doubtful that he will ignore our demands in the
"The bad news is that our other
goal met with less success. The gargoyles rejected my offer to reside at Bliant
Manor. It seems wisest to respect their decision for now. If they remain at
Castle Wyvern, we will at least be able to monitor them, to a certain extent.
Continued attempts to capture them may be detrimental to our long-term goals.
Until they trust us, it will be almost impossible to control them."
Duval rose, then tapped the Speak
key on his intercom. "Giles, I wish to remain undisturbed for the next couple
He studied the intricate painting
of the spider web and sighed. "All those interconnected plans, just like a web.
But am I still the spider?"