Story Concept by Sven and Todd Jensen.
Written by Earl Allison.
Previously on Gargoyles....
There was a tap at the window, and she whirled around, her warrior instincts clicking in immediately, prepared for anything... except for what she saw. On the other side of the glass, perched on the ledge, stood Angela, her daughter. Not even taking a moment to check and see if she was alone, she threw open the window and welcomed her daughter in with a small hug and a delighted smile.
"Daughter! You have come to visit me!"
"Of course I have, Mother, I couldn't let you spend Winter Solstice alone, could I?"
~ A Mid-Winter's Tale
* * *
The creature on the table who had once been a man named Wolf began to change. The nurse gasped unable to tear her eyes away. The bones of his skull crawled and reformed, his nose elongated into a canine snout. He howled, an unearthly sound, as he fought against the restraints.
"We're not leaving much tissue are we, doctor?" The surgical technician commented as he disposed of what was once Jackal's ribcage.
"No, it's kind of exciting. This subject and the female that Beta team are working on will be the first of their kinds. A totally inorganic body run by a wet-ware enhanced brain. God I love my job!" the surgeon said with zeal.
"COYOTE 6.0 is ready to go live." The technician hit a button on the master control panel.
Ones and zeros flashed across the display on the robot's chest. A green telltale light flashed on the control panel and a split second later the robot spoke, a trace of mirth in its voice.
"It's good to be back."
~ Something Wicked
"Wretched humans," Demona cursed silently. Being the CEO of Nightstone Unlimited had its advantages, but being bound to a dawn 'til dusk schedule could be maddening. Today had been a prime example. She had met with three representatives from a rival firm, Cerberus Incorporated. The three businesswomen, one a platinum blonde, another a golden blonde, and the third with tresses as black as night, had kept her occupied until nearly sunset. The trio were so alike that they could have been one woman. Indeed, they sometimes acted as one, finishing sentences for one another.
Aside from the maddening details of the meeting, the three had kept her until nearly nightfall. It was all she could do to usher them out before sunset, and the onset of her painful transformation.
Now that she was free of the human world for another night, Demona closed her eyes and smiled. It was a lovely night for gliding, not a gargoyle or helicopter in sight. After over a thousand years of life, she still appreciated nights like this. The cool night air whipping through her hair, the rush of wind under her wings, they were all sensations she truly enjoyed.
As she flew along, she found her thoughts drifting to one of the most important things in her life, Angela. The brief time she had spent with her daughter, showing her around Nightstone and just being able to talk to her, had meant a great deal. The child might have been somewhat naïve in her opinions of humanity, but she also accepted Demona almost without question. It was a gesture she had welcomed happily.
She smiled again and banked her wings, soaring off towards home.
* * * * *
High atop one of the larger office buildings overlooking the city, a lone man scanned the skies. Clad all in black, he was virtually indistinguishable from the shadows he wore around him like a cloak.
Frowning, the man lowered his binoculars. His eyes seemed to flash green for an instant in anger, but the glow quickly faded, revealing his normal blue eyes. The man himself was completely nondescript. There were simply no distinguishing features to be found on his completely average face.
A whooshing sound overhead attracted his attention, and he stepped back further into the shadows, bringing the specially augmented binoculars to his eyes. A thin smile crossed his face as he looked through the device.
There, plain as day, were seven winged forms soaring through the night sky, completely oblivious to his presence. Unclipping a two-way radio from his belt, the man clicked it on.
"Dave to Ultra-Pack, targets headed your way down 8th and Broadway. Prepare to intercept," he said calmly. He then muttered to himself. "Just don't forget your orders."
Waiting a moment, he switched the radio back on. "The hook has been baited, Ms. O'Connor."
A female voice thick with Irish brogue crackled over the radio. "Yuir certain that they understand what's to be done? They may do what they like to the other gargoyles, but 'Angela Destine' is to be brought to me, alive and unharmed. Is that clear?" she asked, her tone making it clear that this last point was not to be questioned.
Dave chuckled and smiled again. "Of course, Ms. O'Connor. Don't worry yourself, they're perfectly clear on that."
* * * * *
Nearly a block away, also concealed by shadow, the Ultra-Pack was laying in wait for the gargoyles. Their leader, a large, well-muscled man, paced back and forth anxiously. Behind him, a massive hulking figure stood at attention.
"Well?" Lobo snapped impatiently, looking up at the other figure. As it stepped out into the half-light of the city's illumination, it was revealed to be Coyote.
Coyote 6.0 was a marvel, the product of cutting-edge technology few even knew existed. Standing nearly ten feet tall, the robot was an incredibly imposing sight. His heavy-set torso was mounted on a pair of tree trunk-thick "bird leg" constructs. The legs were backwards bending, ending in huge three-toed feet. The long arms each had a pair of slender weapon barrels mounted on the forearm, and four massive autocannons sat comfortably atop the metal titan's shoulders.
The cannons were mounted two to either side of the large sensor dome that sat where the head should have been. Each of the long arms ended in massive claw-like hands, not unlike those of a gargoyle. They looked to be capable of crushing steel with ease.
A holographic display in the chest gave Coyote his "face"; the visage of the half-stripped, battered head assembly of the original Coyote robot. The entire machine was done in a deep black with red highlights, as with all of the Ultra-Pack.
The holographic face seemed to stare off into space for a moment. Lobo had come to understand that it was how Coyote accessed his internal sensors. The robot then turned its attention back to Lobo.
"They're nearly in range, sir. Shall I signal the others?"
"No need, love. We're right here," came a decidedly feminine reply.
There, emerging from the shadows, were Hyena, Jackal, and Wolf. Now the Ultra-Pack was complete.
Lobo nodded, looking back towards his newly-arrived teammates. "You all understand your instructions?" asked Lobo, fixing each in turn with his piercing gaze.
Each nodded in turn, except for Hyena, who merely crinkled her pale white nose in annoyance.
"Enlighten me," Lobo growled, staring down the female half of the twin cyborgs. If anyone was going to be trouble, it was going to be her, he noted.
Hyena sighed heavily, popping the extendable blades from her ebony fingertips and raking the stonework absently. "The little brat, Angela, is to be captured unharmed," she droned. Then her eyes lit up. "But we can do what we like to the rest!" she exclaimed, a homicidal grin crossing her face.
"That's my little sister who said that!" Jackal said proudly, putting an arm around his sibling lovingly.
Lobo frowned a little more darkly, and was about to respond, when Bull, his pit bull, began to growl. Wolf also perked up, his nostrils flaring as he sniffed the air. Coyote's autocannons whirred forward with the hum of tiny servomotors, locking into a forward-firing position.
"They will be here in seconds. Shall I ..."
"Shhh!" Lobo hissed, closing his organic eye. "Wait a minute. Accessing ..."
With the speed of thought, Lobo accessed the cybernetic prosthetics in Lex's cyber-eye, giving him a perfect vantage point for spying on the others.
Lexington was apparently at the rear of the formation, which increased Lobo's advantage greatly. Goliath was in the lead, with the others fanning out behind him in a 'V' formation. Brooklyn and Sata soared on the lavender gargoyle's immediate left and right, with Broadway and Angela directly behind them. Hudson and Lex himself were taking up rear positions.
Shaking his head and opening his eye, Lobo looked up at the imposing automaton. "Coyote, bring them down." He then addressed the rest of his team. "Be ready to attack, and remember, we want Angela alive!"
Coyote took a lumbering step forward. The four gun barrels rotated, testing their mechanisms. Finding everything within standard parameters, they opened fire, sending a veritable hail of high-velocity shells skyward.
As the guns lit up the night with tracer fire, the rest of the Ultra-Pack scattered, preparing to take advantage of their surprise attack.
The gargoyles broke formation quickly, trying to glide above the arc of fire Coyote had made. As they tried, the guns began to track targets separately, forcing them to land or be riddled with shells.
* * * * *
"Scatter!" Goliath ordered, trying to soar upwards. As a new stream of shells blocked his ascent, the gargoyle cursed under his breath, angled his wings, and headed for the street. Casting a quick glance around, he saw the rest of the clan landing nearby.
Landing heavily, Goliath scanned the immediate vicinity for their attackers. At the same time, the firing stopped. Sata alighted gracefully nearby, Brooklyn and Hudson were some distance away, and the others were clustered together at the mouth of a nearby alleyway.
The few pedestrians and motorists that hadn't fled at the sounds of gunfire vacated the area quickly after sighting the gargoyles.
Watching the scene from above, Hyena's eyes fell on a target she simply couldn't pass up. There, just below her, was Angela, Lexington, and Broadway. The three were clustered together, completely oblivious to her presence, and totally vulnerable!
Flashing a cruel grin, she thumbed towards them, looking back at Jackal and Coyote, the only others with her. "Wanna give me a push?" she asked of Coyote saucily, bending to show off her armored posterior.
Coyote simply ignored her, as he had always done of late. Before Hyena could complain or protest, Jackal planted a foot on her rear and pushed.
"Sic 'em, sis!" he howled, watching her go over the edge.
In mid-fall, Hyena's body writhed and contorted, tucking into a black ball. Picking up speed, she kicked in her internal loudspeakers, howling like the Banshee herself as she bounced off the alleyway walls towards her prey.
As one, the three gargoyles looked up at the hellish noise. All three leapt away from the lethal lady, scattering. Broadway, slightly slower to move, was knocked to the ground as Hyena struck him in the shoulder.
"Rats!" she shouted, her amplified voice echoing through the mostly empty streets. "Maybe I can pick up the spare!" she cackled.
"The Ultra-Pack!" Goliath roared, moving to help Broadway. Before the lavender gargoyle could take three steps, a massive shadow loomed over him as his ears were assaulted with the roar of ramjet engines.
There, descending on twin plumes of fire, was Coyote 6.0, loaded for bear. With a pavement-crushing impact, he landed between Goliath and his clan.
"I'm so glad you accepted our invitation, Goliath," he said sarcastically. "I have so missed our little scuffles." Coyote then lifted one mammoth arm and fired, scarlet and azure beams of pure energy streaking towards the gargoyle leader.
As the massive robot fired, Sata slipped unnoticed into the shadows, her now-glowing almond eyes watching intently.
Momentarily distracted by Coyote's entrance, the others scrambled to react. Hudson was the first to reach Broadway, helping the portly gargoyle to his feet. A cursory examination confirmed his suspicions. Broadway had received a minor bruise, nothing more.
A fiendish cackle from above attracted their attention. Looking up, Hudson and Broadway saw Jackal, perched on a fire escape like some metallic ebony monkey. With a howl, the demented acrobat dropped from his perch onto the pair. The distinctive sound of finger blades being extended to the 'ready' position accompanied his descent. Hudson barely had time to ready his sword before Jackal landed on him, bringing his arm back.
Brooklyn growled angrily, his eyes glowing like white beacons. "That's the last time I leave my gun at home to spare Broadway's feelings!" he muttered. Moving to engage Jackal, he barely noticed the black blur of motion at the extreme edge of his vision. It was Hyena!
In a flash, the woman had vaulted over Brooklyn to land in front of him, effectively preventing him from helping Hudson. "Going somewhere?" she teased, grinning viciously.
Snapping his fist back, Brooklyn's eyes narrowed. "Yeah, through you!" he yelled, his eyes glowing even more hotly. Hyena grunted in pain as Brooklyn's expert punch sent her sprawling. Unfortunately, she was up again in an instant. "Was that a punch, or are you just happy to see me?" she taunted.
Lexington scrabbled up the side of a building, Wolf in hot pursuit. The mutate had failed to follow up on Hyena's attack quickly enough, and the littlest gargoyle had taken full advantage of Wolf's inability to follow. As the mutate snarled and growled, trying to leap up to Lex's level, the golden-skinned gargoyle pelted him with bricks from the wall. As another sizable brick smacked into Wolf's nose, the mutate snarled, now frothing at the mouth. His curses and threats had already given way to animalistic growls and snarls. Wolf's face had even become more lupine, the nose and jaw elongating. Lex tore another brick loose and hurled it at the Ultra-Pack's strongman, his mind racing. It seemed like Wolf's strength effected his mind. The stronger Wolf got, the more like his namesake he became. As Lex climbed a little higher to avoid Wolf's ever-increasing leaps, he began to plan.
Enemies all around her, Angela looked to see who needed her help most. She saw Broadway as he was knocked to the ground with an expert kick from Jackal, and prepared to help him. A loud, booming bark attracted her attention before she could act.
Lobo and Bull strode purposefully towards her, confident and powerful. Bull was easily as large as Bronx, and just as dangerous. Alone, he was a formidable foe. With Lobo to guide him, Angela knew she would be in for a real fight. The pit bull picked up speed, breaking into a run. As the dog prepared to pounce, Lobo looked around. Where was the fat one, Broadway? After Jackal had struck him, Lobo had lost track of the aquamarine gargoyle. Surely he hadn't been hit that hard, had he?
Powerful leg muscles exploded as Bull launched himself at Angela. Lobo turned his attention back to the matter at hand, ensuring that Bull wouldn't damage the girl. The dog was loyal, but there was no reason to leave this to chance.
Suddenly the cracking of concrete and the groan of straining metal attracted Lobo's attention, snapping him out of the mental link he had started to form with Bull.
"No!" Lobo shouted, turning towards the noise. Broadway had uprooted a lamppost and was wielding it like a baseball bat. The makeshift weapon caught Bull in mid-leap, sending the enhanced pit bull crashing into, and through, the plate glass window of an electronics store. Sparks erupted from some of the live appliances as they were smashed by the airborne animal, then everything within went silent.
Lobo's mental link with Bull told him that the animal was unconscious, but otherwise uninjured. Growling like his namesake, Lobo flexed his muscles and advanced on the pair of gargoyles.
"If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself!" he snarled, tensing.
Goliath leapt to the side as twin beams sliced through a parked car beside him, detonating it with a fiery explosion. Goliath shielded himself with his large wings as red hot shrapnel tore into the pavement. Luckily, none struck the gargoyle leader, and he steeled himself for Coyote's next attack. Looking to either side, Goliath's eyes fell upon a small foreign car. Grunting with exertion, he sank his talons into the vehicle, straining to lift it.
Unseen by either combatant, Sata gripped the hilt of her katana tightly. Closing her eyes, the Japanese gargoyle marshaled her inner strength. Eyes snapping open, she sprang at the ebony robot, bringing her blade down in a deadly arc and roaring ferociously.
"What?" Coyote turned, distracted by the noise. Denied her initial target, Sata's blade sliced neatly through one of the feed mechanisms to Coyote's autocannons, rendering the right-hand part useless as the unfired shells clattered to the ground.
Seeing an opportunity in Sata's attack, Goliath struck home. Muscles screaming in protest, Goliath lifted the vehicle off the ground with supreme effort. His eyes blazing white, he roared and hurled the car at Coyote.
"Bad idea, my friend," Coyote quipped, turning his full attention to Goliath once more. Targeting sensors locked on to the car, and the remaining pair of autocannons opened fire, tracer fire ripping into the fiberglass and metal frame.
In mid-air, the car ignited. The flaming projectile slammed into Coyote, propelling the robot backwards into another storefront. This store was a jewelry outlet. Glass, stonework, and the flaming debris of what had once been a car all crashed down on Coyote. The automaton disappeared from view, buried by a pile of rubble.
Goliath breathed heavily, rubbing one of his biceps tenderly. He had strained his muscles seriously, but he had managed to stop Coyote. Looking at Brooklyn's mate, he smiled and bowed. "Arigato, Sata-san," he said politely.
Sata merely returned the bow before returning her blade to its sheath and looking for another opponent. Nearby, Hudson and Jackal struggled mightily, each trying to find an opening in the other's defenses.
Hudson brought his sword up, barely deflecting the barrage of deadly knuckle spikes Jackal had fired. As the cyborg paused, his internal systems reloading the weapon, Hudson reached forward and grabbed him roughly by the shoulder.
"Not in the face! Not in the face!" Jackal protested as Hudson knocked him across the alleyway with a powerful punch.
"Ach! That'll be leavin' a mark," the elder gargoyle grimaced, rubbing his sore knuckles.
Twisting in midair, Jackal landed on his feet, virtually unharmed. With a nasty grin, he sneered at Hudson. "Y'know, old man, you've got a bit of an attitude problem there. Maybe I can take a little off the top," he said wickedly. With a loud metallic sliding sound, a foot-long blade extended from Jackal's right palm. As soon at it reached its full extension, the entire blade began to hum and glow a soft blue color. With a battle cry, Jackal hurled himself at the grizzled warrior, bringing his vibro-blade down. Hudson countered with his archaic blade, and the two glared at each other across their swords.
With another laugh, Jackal tried to shove Hudson back. "And now, for the unkindest cut of all!"
Meanwhile, Brooklyn and Hyena circled warily. They had traded a few blows, but Brooklyn hadn't been able to knock her out. With a vicious laugh, Hyena sprang at Brooklyn, rebounding off a wall like a demented rubber ball. She hurtled over the brick-red gargoyle, landing on his back and wrapping her limbs around him like a constrictor snake.
"Gotcha!" she exclaimed. Then, with a nasty gleam in her eyes, she began to tighten her grip. "Gee, sweetie, looks like I've got a crush on you!" she whispered huskily in his ear.
Brooklyn strained and struggled furiously, but to no avail. He was stronger, but he lacked the leverage to break free. Hyena's hold was too secure, even Goliath couldn't have broken free. He groaned in pain as the air was slowly squeezed from his lungs. Suddenly a new sensation was introduced. Hyena seemed to be getting ... warmer? No, she was getting downright hot!
Sure enough, Hyena's metallic frame began to glow as her internal generators dumped excess heat into her "skin" to cool her inner workings. She had found a way to turn a simple maintenance design into a weapon! With another heartless laugh, she berated Brooklyn. "Is it hot in here, or is it just me?" Brooklyn's only reply was another moan of pain.
Seeing her mate's predicament, Sata tried to help. Unfortunately, the heat rolling off Hyena's frame was becoming too severe. Shielding her eyes from the bright white glow now emanating from Hyena, Sata prepared to hurl her wakizashi. If her aim were true, her blade might pierce the armor and hit something vital.
Lex also saw his rookery brother's predicament, and clenched his fists angrily. "I gotta help him," Lex muttered. With a shrewd smile, Lex set his hastily-conceived plan in motion.
Leaping off the wall, Lex hurled another brick at Wolf. "C'mon, you flea-bitten mongrel! Over here!" he taunted.
Wolf snarled angrily and followed the diminutive gargoyle from the ground. His mind could no longer understand the gargoyle's words, but their tone was still clear.
Steeling himself against the pain he knew was coming, Lex drew his wings in close and landed behind Hyena and Brooklyn. The heat against his back and membranous wings was tremendous, but the golden-skinned gargoyle stood his ground stoically with little more than a grimace of discomfort.
Wolf roared angrily, now frothing at the mouth like a rabid beast. Muscles in his legs tensed like coiled springs, and he charged. Raising one paw-hand high, he prepared to disembowel Lexington, ignoring the increasing temperature.
At the last possible second, Lex dove to the side, dodging the lethal swipe. Looking back, he saw that his plan had worked after all. As with the Steel Clan robots, he had managed to get two enemies to take each other out. He watched with satisfaction as Wolf's claws ripped a deep gouge in Hyena's back.
Twin screams broke the night air. Wolf pulled back a badly burned, still smoking hand, and Hyena dropped Brooklyn to the ground, arcs of electricity surging from the tear in her chassis. Wolf's claws had bitten deep indeed, exposing the cyborg's inner workings!
As Hyena fell to the ground, Sata and Lexington hauled Brooklyn away from his attacker. The brick-red gargoyle had burn-marks all across his back and wings. Slowly, Brooklyn managed to stand, Lexington helping to support him.
Sata looked into her mate's eyes, and he smiled back weakly. She said nothing, but the look of concern in her eyes spoke volumes. Brooklyn tried to reassure her.
"I'll be fine," he lied, wincing in pain as he tried to stand on his own. Sata rolled her eyes and took his arm. "Thanks for the assist, Lex. Really." Brooklyn added.
The small gargoyle smiled up at his rookery brother, feeling truly useful for the first time in a long time. "No problem. What are rookery brothers for?"
The trio of gargoyles made their way towards an alley, away from the fallen Ultra-Pack members. They were also starting to recover. A look of pure hatred formed on Hyena's chalk-white face as she whirled on her teammate.
"Idiot! I _had_ him!" she shrieked, still on her knees. Her damage control systems were dealing with the torn internal circuitry, but the tear in her outer "skin" couldn't be repaired in the field. "What were you thinking?" she spat angrily. "Can you even think at all?"
Wolf's hand and forearm was also healing rapidly, his enhanced immune system regenerating damaged tissue at a phenomenal rate. In a few minutes, he would be as good as new. Clutching his hand, Wolf glowered at Hyena. The pain and shock of his injury had served to snap him out of his bestial state, and he was able to respond.
"Don't complain to me, witch!" he retorted angrily. "I nearly finished off the little one!"
As the pair argued, miniature battles raged on all around them, the Manhattan Clan fought for their very survival.
Broadway staggered backwards, reeling from the flurry of punches Lobo had delivered. His vision blurred, he could barely make out the Ultra-Pack's leader as another painful blow knocked him to his knees. With a grunt of pain, he tried desperately to rise, shaking his head to clear it. Above him, Lobo interlaced the fingers of both hands, bringing them up high over his head to deal a death blow.
Angela tackled him in an instant, shrieking like a wildcat. Her eyes blazed bright red, like the burning embers of a fire. Tossing him into a wall, she flared her wings out and lashed her tail back and forth, assuming her most aggressive posture.
Lobo wiped a trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth and smiled. "So, the cub thinks she's a tigress, eh?" Inwardly, he smiled. He could ensure her capture himself and finish the others off at his leisure.
"Well?" he taunted. "I'm waiting."
Angela growled and charged, preparing to rend him with her talons.
Lobo merely sidestepped the clumsy attack, flipping Angela into a cluster of trash cans with a casual twist. "Typical gargoyle bluster," he chided. "Nice try, little girl, but not good eno - URK!"
Lobo's taunt was cut off as Goliath's powerful arms wrapped around him. In an instant, one of Lobo's arms was twisted painfully behind his back and his air was being choked off. Goliath had managed to restrain him.
"No one threatens my daughter!" Goliath roared angrily, his eyes shining like beacons.
The two leaders struggled, both evenly matched. Lobo's strength was easily the equal of Goliath's, but his superior skill was countered by Goliath's use of leverage. The two strained mightily, trying to end their stalemate.
A recovered Broadway helped Angela to her feet, and the two prepared to assist Goliath. Before either gargoyle could move, a virtually undamaged Coyote emerged from the rubble of the jewelry store, small fires from spilled gasoline still burning on his exterior. Turning, the robot loomed over the pair.
"Going somewhere, my dear?" Coyote asked mockingly.
"Angela, go!" Broadway shouted, pushing her out of the robot's path. As Coyote lumbered towards him, Broadway charged, roaring. Using all the strength he could muster, Broadway threw a wicked haymaker. Unfortunately, Coyote's hardwired reflexes were faster, and he caught Broadway's fist in his oversized hand.
"I'm disappointed, Broadway," the robot said, sounding insulted. "Every time we meet, I go to all the trouble of trying different things, and you try the same stunt you tried on my second incarnation." He sighed. "Ah, well, live and learn."
Six small compartments in Coyote's chest irised open, each the circumference of a basketball. With a whooshing sound, thick metal cables shot out of the openings, wrapping around the aquamarine gargoyle's chest and arms. Once Broadway was held fast, Coyote sent a powerful surge of electricity through them and into the helpless gargoyle.
Broadway screamed in agony, attracting Goliath's attention. The lavender gargoyle was distracted for no more than a split-second, but it was more than enough for Lobo. Sensing a slight shift in the gargoyle's balance, Lobo got the leverage he needed to break Goliath's hold. Executing a powerful kick, he knocked Goliath backwards.
Goliath hurtled into a lamppost, bending the metal with the force of impact. As he fell to the ground, dazed, Angela leapt to Broadway's aid. Talons extended, she prepared to slash at the metal tendrils that were electrocuting her mate.
With an almost inaudible sigh, Coyote reluctantly deactivated the current scant seconds before the female gargoyle's talons severed the cables. Had he hesitated, Angela might well have been injured herself, and that would have violated his mission directives.
Like a puppet with its strings cut, Broadway went down in a heap. Angela was at his side in an instant, checking his vital signs. Thankfully, he was still breathing.
While Jackal and Hudson still dueled blade-to-blade, the injured gargoyles and Ultra-Pack members began to recover. Brooklyn was now standing on his own, preparing to re-enter the fight, and Hyena and Wolf were sizing up the opposition as well.
As Angela crouched over Broadway, Hyena bounded towards her, laughing evilly. Angela stood her ground, letting the cyborg come to her. In a fluid motion, she grabbed one of Hyena's extended arms and threw her into a wall, using her own momentum against her.
Hyena screamed as already-damaged systems suffered another blow. Rebounding off the wall with inhuman resilience, she turned to face her opponent. A murderous glint in her eyes, Hyena's psychopathic gaze fell on Angela. Grinning insanely, she shrieked and lunged at Angela, arms and legs extending into her 'spider' configuration.
* * * * *
As Demona soared overhead, the sounds of battle broke through the calm of the night air. Her curiosity aroused, she drew her wings in tightly and angled towards the noise.
"Humans," she muttered angrily. "It must be those pathetic humans, fighting with each other again."
* * * * *
Angela heard the scream, and her own eyes went wide in fear. Hyena looked like some nightmarish spider, arms and legs elongated to an incredible degree. The look in the cyborg's eyes was one of pure, unadulterated hatred, and it chilled Angela to her very soul. There was no reason, not even so much as a trace, in those eyes.
Bracing herself for the impending attack, Angela prepared to dodge. As she did, Hyena extended the blades from all her fingers. Picking up speed, her nightmarish legs closed the distance to Angela in seconds. Drawing an arm back, she brought it down in a wicked arc, attempting to cleave the gargoyle in two.
"Kill kill kill kill kill!" she shrieked, eyes wide in insane rage.
As fast as Angela was, Hyena was a fraction of a second faster, her blades slicing through flesh and muscle, grazing the bone. Angela's reflexes saved her, however, turning a blow that would have instantly killed her into "merely" a crippling one.
The young gargoyle's face contorted in pain as the claws ripped into her leg, laying a gash open from hip to knee. Pain from the grievous wound, coupled with shock, mercifully rendered her unconscious. A soft moan erupted from her lips as she fell.
Her blood lust somewhat abated, Hyena came out of her berserk fury. Blinking, she regained full conscious control. She always lost control like that when she became angry enough. Unfortunately for her, she had little time to reflect before she was attacked from above.
* * * * *
"NO!!" Demona screamed, terror welling up in her. She watched in horror as Hyena's blades tore into her daughter. With a battle cry that would have given even Goliath pause, she attacked.
Diving towards her target, Demona brought her wings in close, picking up speed at a tremendous rate. She slammed into Hyena's side with the force of a runaway train, sending the cyborg sprawling.
As Hyena crashed into a wall, dazed, Demona took a moment to inspect her daughter's condition. Her eyes went wide at what she saw. Demona had seen, or caused, enough injuries like this to know that Angela would die without some kind of serious intervention.
She quickly ripped her loincloth, tearing a long strip off. With practiced skill, she bound Angela's wound, trying to stop the bleeding. The fabric turned a deep red color, but no blood seeped through. Satisfied with her efforts, she made ready to take Angela away.
Before anyone could stop her, Demona gingerly gathered her daughter's fallen form up in her arms. She then scaled a nearby wall as quickly as possible without further injuring Angela, and took off into the night sky unseen.
* * * * *
Shaking his head to clear it, Goliath took in the entire scene before him. At least two of his clan had been seriously injured, and Angela was nowhere to be seen. The Ultra-Pack also seemed to be distracted by something. Now was the time to strike!
With a loud roar, the massive gargoyle slammed into Coyote's side as hard as he could. As he struck home, Sata lashed out as well, slipping her katana between the armored plates of Coyote's right leg. A spurt of blue hydraulic fluid jetted out from the leg, causing the robot to list dangerously. Another blow from Goliath caused Coyote's undamaged leg to buckle, and Coyote went down in a heap, cracking the pavement beneath him.
Pressing their momentary advantage, Lexington and Brooklyn each grabbed one of the stunned Hyena's arms and threw her into a hydrant. Although she was relatively unhurt by the impact, she struck with enough force to crack the hydrant open. This sent water everywhere, including into the tear in Hyena's back.
With another shrill cry of agony, Hyena twisted and contorted madly, trying to shield the damaged area from the water. Neon blue arcs of electricity coursed over her sleek black form as she writhed in pain.
Bull crashed out of the wreckage of the storefront he had been buried by, barking angrily. Spying a relatively easy target in Broadway, who was only just staggering to his feet after Coyote's assault, the enhanced pit bull charged. Nearby, Lobo smiled to himself, taking control of the animal through their link.
Suddenly Lobo was the pit bull, seeing through his eyes and smelling the blood in the air through the dog's nose. Grinding his own teeth in anticipation, he prepared for the taste of blood as Bull's jaws opened wide.
"Ach!" Hudson exclaimed, dropping his sword and clutching at his eyes. Jackal laughed evilly as his tear gas took effect, the miniature ejector nozzle already retracting into his chest. Readying his vibro-sword, Jackal prepared to behead the elder gargoyle.
Hudson, still rubbing his eyes, whirled around, bringing his powerful tail into play. His aim was true as he felt it strike his foe solidly. As images began to clarify in his eyes once more, he stooped over to recover his sword. Looking towards the others, he watched in satisfaction as Jackal slammed into the charging pit bull.
"Hah! That'll teach ye to underestimate a warrior, laddie!" he snorted.
Lobo's contact was broken abruptly as Jackal hurtled head over heels, crashing into the dog in mid-stride. Looking up angrily, Lobo saw Hudson crouched low, sword in hand.
"Where the devil is Wolf?" he wondered aloud. "This fight is becoming a disaster!"
A guttural snarl revealed the mutate's position somewhere to Lobo's left. Wolf snarled again and lunged straight at Goliath. All sense of reason lost, the mutate charged his prey like his namesake, fangs bared.
Goliath merely stood his ground, watching the man-beast advance. Pulling his fist back, Goliath punched Wolf with terrific force, sending the mutate flying backwards into a wall, where he slumped to the pavement, unconscious.
Most of the Ultra-Pack was now damaged or disabled as Goliath and his clan surrounded them, slowly advancing. Lobo was no coward, but neither was he a fool, the look on his face made it plain, he knew he was outmatched.
"Nothing to be gained by staying to fight now," he admitted. "Coyote, we need some cover."
The robot nodded. A new pair of compartments, these in his lower torso, cycled open. With a loud thump, a pair of thick canisters fired out of them and landed between the Ultra-Pack and the gargoyles. The projectiles promptly exploded, and a large cloud of thick green gas billowed out.
As the gargoyles coughed and choked, the Ultra-Pack made their escape, obscured by the smoke. Coyote had Wolf in one of his huge hands, and Jackal helped his sister as the group faded into the shadows.
* * * * *
With the Ultra-Pack in retreat, Goliath and the others made ready to withdraw as well.
"Can you make it?" Lexington asked, looking worriedly at Brooklyn.
The beaked gargoyle nodded. "Yeah, I'll be fine," he replied. "Just led with my chin," he muttered.
Sata merely smiled one of her patented you-said-it-and-I-didn't grins.
"You have something to add?" Brooklyn asked, mock-glowering at his mate.
"Only that I am pleased we left the twins and Nudnik to play with Bronx tonight," she said.
"Yeah, me too."
Broadway, leaning on Hudson for support, suddenly looked around. "Where's Angela?"
Goliath bowed his head for a moment before answering. "Demona has her," he finally said.
"What? What was she doing here?" Broadway shouted in desperation. "Why didn't you stop her?" he accused.
Brooklyn quickly inserted himself between the indignant gargoyle and the object of his anger. "Whoa, Broadway, take it easy! We were all a little busy, remember? You were unconscious, but the rest of us saw Demona take her. She was pretty badly hurt, too."
Seeing another question forming on his rookery brother's lips, Brooklyn quickly continued. "I know, I was always the first to accuse her, Broadway." He sighed heavily. "But it's hard to hold onto that kind of anger after forty years. She'll be fine."
Broadway's shoulders slumped. "Yeah, sorry about that, Goliath," he said sheepishly. "Brook's right."
"Besides," Brooklyn added. "She's Demona's daughter, too. No matter what else she might be, I don't see her as the type to hurt her own child, Broadway."
"She will not get the chance to turn her against us with words, either!" Goliath looked to Hudson hopefully. "Can you track her, old friend?"
The elder gargoyle stopped for a moment at the site where Angela had been taken. "She took to the air here, Goliath. She's too smart to go to ground anywhere nearby, there's nothin' to track," he said solemnly.
Lex snapped his fingers. "Macbeth!" he exclaimed. "He's chased Demona for centuries. If anyone can find her, he could!"
Goliath nodded. "True, and he did offer to help us someday."
In a few seconds, the six remaining gargoyles were on their way, headed to Macbeth's manor.
* * * * *
"She's not with them," Coyote noted, watching the retreating gargoyles. "All were accounted for except for her."
Lobo frowned. This mission was getting worse and worse. "You're sure?"
"Of course he's sure!" Jackal snapped. "He gets everything but satellite TV in that thing of his! I'm pretty sure he can tell one gargoyle from another!"
"Where is she, then?" Wolf asked, sniffing the air. "Can't smell her anymore."
"Who saw her last?" Lobo asked, scrutinizing Wolf and the twins.
"Wasn't me," Jackal answered. "I had my hands full with the old man." To emphasize his point, he stroked a deep slash in his chest armor.
Lobo nodded. "I saw her for a few seconds, before Goliath attacked me. Coyote?"
"I saw her when she came to Broadway's aid, but I lost track of her soon after," he answered.
Hyena was uncharacteristically silent, a fact that didn't go unnoticed by the others. She also kept her hands behind her back.
"Hyena!" Lobo snapped. "What did you see?"
"Well, I did attack her, but ..."
"That's just great!" Jackal shouted angrily. "You killed her, didn't you?"
Hyena instantly snapped into a defensive mode, shooting a withering glance at her brother. "And just what is that supposed to mean?" she growled, clenching her fists, which were clearly covered in blood.
He pointed at her hands. "I'm betting, sister-dear, that you've got gargoyle blood on those hands. Am I right?" he sneered.
"So what if it is blood?" she shot back, covering her hands reflexively. "That doesn't mean anything! I only nicked her a little!" she protested.
"Oh, that'll make all the difference to our employers when they hear that you went against express orders and killed her!"
"I didn't kill her, Jackal! When I kill someone, believe me, you'll know! Are you volunteering to find out firsthand?"
"So maybe she dragged herself off somewhere to bleed to death! How could you be so incompetent?" Jackal asked. "They spelled it out for us, sis. Unharmed, not folded, spindled, or mutilated like one of your old boyfriends!"
"That's it!" she screeched, popping her finger blades out. Jackal quickly responded in kind. The two squared off, preparing to settle their disagreement in their typical fashion. Before either cyborg could attack, though, Coyote separated the pair by stepping between them.
"Enough of this!" Lobo yelled. "Coyote, can you track them?"
The huge robot paused for a moment as he accessed internal sensors. "Nothing. They are too far away now, I'm afraid."
"Wait a minute," Jackal interrupted. "She's Goliath's daughter, right? He'll be looking for her too. Why not use them to do our work for us?"
"Excellent idea, Jackal," Lobo praised. "Coyote?"
"Radio Dave, tell him you and Hyena are coming in for repairs. The rest of us will split up to find the gargoyles."
"Of course, sir."
* * * * *
Demona stood over her daughter's unconscious form, draped across a large couch in the library. Wincing, she dragged a large, wicked-looking knife across the length of her arm, letting the blood trickle into a small basin. In the basin was a small, white stone on a golden chain. As the blood flowed into the container, the stone glowed briefly, and the blood vanished. Only the stone, now a rich red in color, remained.
Picking the talisman up, Demona gently placed the chain around Angela's neck, fastening it in place. As she did so, the stone began to glow, and Angela's wound began to close.
"From my blood to your blood, daughter," she said softly, watching the Bloodstone work its magic.
She then sat back and waited anxiously, looking down at her beloved daughter. The young gargoyle stirred, waking from her unconscious state. Demona hurriedly examined the wound, now little more than a long white scar along her leg, and smiled to herself.
"A day of stone sleep will finish the job, child."
"F ... father?" Angela whispered, becoming fully conscious.
Demona reached out to her daughter, putting a hand on her cheek and stroking it gently. "I'm here, Angela."
Angela blinked her eyes in an exaggerated motion, trying to clear her head. She sat up, and her eyes fell on the azure gargoyle before her.
"Mother!" she exclaimed, trying to rise. A white-hot dagger of pain stabbed through her leg, and she fell back onto the couch, wincing.
"Be still, daughter," Demona lectured gently. "That insane human would have killed you if I hadn't stepped in. I brought you here to help you, nothing more."
"Where are the others?" Angela asked worriedly.
"They should be fine, Angela. As I left, they looked to be fending the humans off. If there's one thing Goliath is, it's a fine warrior."
Angela seemed satisfied with the answer. "What's this around my neck?" the young gargoyle inquired.
"A Bloodstone," Demona replied matter-of-factly. "Like the amulet you used when we spent the day together, it's something I've had little use for until now."
Angela prepared to rise again, testing her wounded leg. "What was the price, mother?" she asked. "You said magic always carried a price."
"The Bloodstone requires a small infusion of blood to power the magical healing process." She shrugged. "With my immortality, I hardly needed such an item, but I'm glad I had it here for you. Your leg is going to be weak for a time, Angela. You nearly died, you need to give it time to heal. Please stay a while, at least until you can walk unaided."
Angela flopped back onto the couch, relenting. "You're right. I can barely stand." She smiled. "All right, mother. I'll stay for now. We can talk some more."
"Thank you, daughter," Demona replied lovingly. "I wish you'd reconsider staying here, I should think tonight's attack proves my point. Humanity will never accept us!" Demona finished her sentence angrily, eyes flashing red briefly.
"Mother!" Angela shouted. "How can you say that? I've already told you, the castle is my home. Besides, there are always good humans. There was that one you remember so fondly, and Elisa, and so many others. Why do you hate humans so much?"
Demona's eyes seemed to look through Angela as she searched for the strength to reply. "Daughter, you will never understand what they have taken from me, and from each other. I have seen humans do things to one another that would chill you to the very depths of your soul. Even before the humans turned on us, they were always fighting with their own kind."
Angela tried to respond, but Demona continued. "Perhaps there are good humans out there, daughter, but they are few and far between. We were hunted in an age when gargoyles were known to exist! We were an accepted part of the world then, and we were still hated! Now things have come full-circle. Humanity learns of our existence here in Manhattan, and groups like the Quarrymen spring up, ready to deny us the very right to exist! I only want you to be safe, Angela," she said, her expression softening slightly.
"I know, mother, but we have to work towards being accepted. If it worked in Japan, than there's no reason to think we can't be accepted here as well. At least grant me that."
"Perhaps," she relented. "But if you only understood what humanity has done to me."
"Maybe talking about it will make you feel better," Angela offered.
"It happened centuries ago, Angela, in our home, Castle Wyvern ..."
* * * * *
"We're here," Lexington announced as the clan soared over Macbeth's manor. The archaic structure seemed to be completely recovered from the damage suffered months earlier in a Quarryman attack.
Inside, Macbeth sat across from one Joanna Walker. She was his co-worker, but things had begun to take a more personal tack lately.
"It really is a wonderful dinner, Len," she said, smiling across the table.
Macbeth took the compliment gracefully. "Thank you, lass. When ye've been alone as long as I have, ye learn to cook or starve," he joked. "I want to thank ye again for acceptin' my invitation, it means a great deal to me."
"You knew I'd accept," she replied.
"Aye, and I'm beginnin' to be somethin' of a celebrity," he mused aloud.
"What do you mean?" she asked curiously.
"Well, two lads from my lecture in Scotland, Mark and Henry, also wanted ta meet with me over dinner. I'm glad, too. They helped remind me of something I'd forgotten." He remembered it well, the realization that he was afraid of being alone. It held more terror for him than anything.
"Oh, do tell," she teased, smiling warmly. He was beginning to open up to her, and she wasn't about to discourage him now.
Macbeth opened his mouth to respond, when he heard a sharp "Pssst!" Turning to the source of the disturbance, he saw a small gargoyle, golden-skinned, trying to get his attention.
"Lexington," he whispered under his breath. He then turned back to Joanna. "Please excuse me a moment, lass," he said, promptly excusing himself.
A few moments later, the immortal Scot found himself in the hallway outside the dining room talking with Lexington.
"What are ye doin' here, laddie?" he asked anxiously. "Ye're lucky she didn't see ye."
Lex's expression drooped slightly. "I - I know, but we need your help. Demona's kidnapped Angela, and we need to get her back!"
"Slow down, lad. Tell me everything from the beginning," urged Macbeth.
Lexington quickly relayed the night's events, from the Ultra-Pack's initial attack to Angela's abduction by Demona. Macbeth listened in silence, only nodding or stroking his beard occasionally.
"We need your help in finding her, and in getting Angela back," Lexington said plainly. "You've had more experience in dealing with her than we ever will."
"Aye, that's a fact," Macbeth grumbled, annoyed. "Ah, well, it cannot be helped," he sighed. "I just wish this could have waited," he continued, looking back into the dining room. "I'll be a moment, wait on the roof."
Lexington scampered upstairs, presumably to whatever means he'd used to get in, and Macbeth walked back into the dining room. His face took on an apologetic expression. "I'm so sorry, Joanna," he said, taking her hands in his. "I'm afraid something terribly important has come up, something I couldn't have foreseen."
Joanna squeezed his hands. "Don't think you're going to get away this easily," she teased. "I understand, we all have our obligations."
"Thank ye," he said, obviously relieved. "We'll just have to do this another time, I promise ye."
"I'm counting on it."
* * * * *
Macbeth watched the car pull away and make its way down the long driveway. He then made his way to the roof, where the rest of the gargoyles were waiting.
"I understand my help was requested," he said, stepping into the light. He was clad in his traditional black body armor.
Goliath was the first to speak, moving forward. "Thank you, Macbeth, for helping us tonight."
Macbeth held up his hand, silencing the lavender gargoyle. "I'm glad to help ye, Goliath. I gave ye my word, and I meant it. Even after all I'd done to ye, ye still came to help me. That's a debt I can never truly repay."
He pulled out a sheet of paper. It looked to have been torn from a computer printer, with an entry circled in red. "It'll be easy enough to find her now that I know who she is," he mused aloud. "Dominique Destine, a name I'll not soon forget."
He chuckled. "Demona may have an unlisted number, but I was able to find it with a special program of mine."
As the gargoyles made ready to depart, Macbeth activated one of the small flitters from his hangar. Taking to the air, he led the small formation of gargoyles towards their destination.
"Ah, Demona. Ye've always caused me nothing but misery," he whispered. "'Tis a never-ending cycle, I hunt you, you hunt me, over and over again. And yet," he paused. "And yet perhaps we're both to blame for all this."
Goliath saw Macbeth lost in thought and angled his wings slightly, bringing him up alongside the sleek craft.
"Macbeth? Are you well?" he rumbled.
Macbeth snapped back to the present. "Aye, I'll be fine. This just reminds me of another hunt centuries ago. D'you remember what I told you the first time we met, after I told ye who I was?"
Goliath's reply took only a moment. "You said that you would not have attacked us while we were asleep, but that once awake, we were a fair target. Why?"
Macbeth's expression changed to one of deep shame. "Because, Goliath, that wasn't always the case. It all happened in Scotland, over four hundred years ago ..."
* * * * *
Scotland - 1545 AD
The lone figure walked deliberately down the long, winding path to the abandoned castle. Clad in a long, flowing black cloak, almost all distinguishing features were completely obscured from view.
As he approached, the state of disrepair was obvious. One wall had almost totally collapsed, and much of the moldering stonework of the ramparts had been worn away by the elements.
It seemed that the superstitious folk around here had been telling the truth. This was indeed the infamous Castle Wyvern, the one he had sought for years now, ever since he had learned of the importance it held with a former ally. As his gaze moved up to the far ramparts, he saw his quarry, six stone figures poised as if to strike.
"Gargoyles," the figure remarked, pulling the hood off. It was Macbeth! Smiling to himself, the Scot began the long trek towards the ensorcelled gargoyles, pulling the hood back down to obscure his face.
"It ends tonight, Demona," he growled.
He looked back on the events that brought him to this point. Demona's betrayal had cost him everything; his wife, his son, and his crown. Somehow, she had evaded him that night, for when he awoke from Canmore's cowardly attack, none but his beloved Gruoch remained.
Losing her had been the most painful thing he had ever suffered. For a time, he had tried to lose himself in the world, to forget about his curse of eternal life. Sadly, that was not to be. Wherever he remained, the hushed whispers of "witchcraft" and "sorcery" began, and he was forced to move on again.
All this was because of Demona, his former ally. For unknown reasons, she and her clan had deserted him, leaving his castle, Moray, vulnerable to the former ruler's son and his English cronies. Since then he had tried to forget her, to put the past behind him. Sadly, centuries of watching friends grow old and die had made even that simple idea impossible.
Years of aimless wandering had left him with one choice left. He had to kill the one being that could end his torment. He had to kill Demona to find peace. And if he had to destroy those she held dear to do so, than so be it!
* * * * *
Demona had come here, as had been her ritual for over five hundred years, to see Goliath and the others. They were all she had left in this world. Landing softly on the flagstones of the castle courtyard, she climbed up the wall to be near her beloved. She spent a few minutes pulling some of the collected ivy and moss off her frozen clan-mates gently.
Normally she would have spent the day perched beside her love, but she had been frozen by the sun almost a mile away.
A tear trickling down her cheek, she brushed her warm lips over Goliath's cold, stone ones, running her talons over his brow-ridges.
"Hello again, my love. I know I've been away for a while, but I haven't forgotten you," she said tenderly. "I've been to see my human friend, Michel. You'd like him, I think," she continued, tears in her eyes.
"He speaks of great glass spires, and of the day when we might be together again, my love. For that, I would risk anything, even the Hunter."
She continued to talk to her stone mate for some time, pausing every now and then to simply look at him, or to immerse herself in the life she once had. This place was very special to her, not only being the place she had been happiest in, but also where she had been accepted. Even her time with Macbeth, in the peaceful years, had lacked something. She had never truly been accepted by the humans.
"I will find a way to awaken you, my love," Demona swore, the tears now streaming down her beautiful face. "I'm just so ... alone," she said softly, falling to her knees and weeping. "We are the last of our kind," she sobbed.
A rustling sound from somewhere down below attracted the azure gargoyle's attention. Wiping the tears from her eyes, she stared hard into the darkness, her night vision picking out the lone individual picking his way through the rubble towards her clan. Her sadness swiftly gave way to anger and outrage.
A growl rising in her throat, Demona moved to hide herself nearby. "I cannot risk you, my love," she whispered before moving off. "If the human sees me, he may smash you." She paused momentarily to run the back of her hand across Goliath's brow-ridge again. "You and I are one, always." She then slipped into the darkness, praying that the human would think her clan was nothing but chiseled stone.
As she crouched low behind a crumbled wall, a familiar feeling raced through her body. "Curious," she mused. "That's something I've not felt since ... No! It can't be him!" she exclaimed, fear gripping her.
* * * * *
Macbeth slowly made his way up to the castle wall, approaching the gargoyles carefully. Demona was here, he could feel it. The centuries they had shared linked by sorcery had made him extremely sensitive to her presence.
"I know you're here, Demona!" he shouted, removing his hood again. "Come out, monster!" he raged, unhooking a mace from under his cloak.
"All right, then. Watch, while I smash your friends to rubble!"
Macbeth raised the mace high, preparing to bring it down on the head of the frozen gargoyle beast. As the mace began its descent, a wildcat's shriek came from the darkness.
Two red eyes glowed with all the fire of Hades itself, and Demona launched herself towards her ancient enemy. She was magnificent in her fury, wings flared out and talons ready to tear flesh.
"How dare you!" she screamed indignantly, knocking the mace from his hand with a crack of her tail. She winced as sympathetic pain tore through her own wrist and hand, spreading her wings and soaring out over the courtyard.
"How dare I?" Macbeth replied angrily. "After what you took from me, you can say that!"
Ignoring the pain in his hand, Macbeth reached into his cloak for another weapon, one that would make the odds more even. Withdrawing a small pistol, he took aim at the fleeing figure and fired, closing his eyes as the cloud of black powder erupted from the weapon.
Demona pivoted in midair, and the small metal ball tore into the delicate membrane of her left wing. Crying out in pain and rage, she landed heavily next to the stone gargoyles.
Macbeth cried out too, feeling the pain in his shoulder despite the fact that he had no wings. Throwing the now-useless gun aside, he drew his sword, steeling himself for her charge.
Demona watched Macbeth warily, her tail lashing back and forth as she circled him. She couldn't risk letting him damage the others, no matter what! With a roar, she lunged forward, trying to drive him back.
Macbeth was ready for her charge, and brought his sword down hard, aiming to decapitate the object of his torment. But Demona's skill was equal to his own, and she knocked the blade aside.
The two grappled, with Macbeth using leverage to counter Demona's superior strength and natural weaponry. He moved his head to the side as she snapped at him, and fell backwards, letting her land on top of him.
He then bunched his legs up beneath her, putting his feet against her belly, and shoved hard. Demona hurtled towards the wall, but tumbled skillfully and rose to her feet in front of the wall.
However, instead of pressing her advantage, Demona hurled herself from the castle wall, taking to the air. Wincing in pain, she faltered somewhat, her wounded wing slowing her flight.
Macbeth watched furiously as Demona made her escape. Turning back to the stone gargoyles, his gaze fell upon Goliath, Demona's former mate. Looking back towards Demona, he shouted a warning.
"If you run, lass, I'll smash them all!" he threatened. To emphasize his point, Macbeth put his weight behind Goliath, and began to move him slowly towards the edge of the wall.
With a shriek of despair, Demona turned back towards the castle, eyes wide with fear. "No! I won't let you hurt him!" she roared, images of the Wyvern massacre filling her head. "I can't, I WON'T let it happen again!"
Just as Demona was about to reach Goliath, Macbeth brought his mace down on a portion of stonework nearby. Already weakened by age and disrepair, the entire area collapsed on top of her, nearly crushing her.
As Demona fell to the courtyard, pain coursing through her body, Macbeth doubled over in pain as well, his mace clattering to the ground. Despair gripped Demona as the horror of her situation overwhelmed her.
"If I stay, he'll kill me!" Demona gasped. "Goliath and the others will be destroyed either way! I can't protect him!"
Ignoring her pain, Demona staggered to her feet, making her way to the castle wall once more. Hating herself with every step, Demona leapt off the battlements. Her vision went white for a moment with the pain, but she forced herself to keep going.
"I'm sorry, so very, very sorry," she sobbed over and over. "I failed you all," she moaned. Goliath and the others would likely die because of her failure.
As she put distance between herself and Macbeth, the pain lessened somewhat, and she searched for a place to roost for the day.
Macbeth watched her go, barely able to make her out through the haze of pain. "I almost HAD her!" he fumed, standing and recovering his weapons. He then turned towards Goliath and the others, and his eyes narrowed to angry slits.
"Let's see how well Demona takes the loss of her family!" he said, raising the mace again. As he prepared to smash the helpless gargoyle to rubble, visions of his own family appeared before him. Was this the kind of man he had become?
"What, what am I doing?" he said, dropping the mace in disgust. Then, he sank to his knees, cradling his head in his hands. "What have I become, to kill helpless innocents? I'd have been no better than Canmore himself!"
Macbeth stayed until sunrise, still in shock at what he had nearly done. As the first rays of the sun appeared on the horizon, Macbeth gathered his things and left, never to return to the site until 'the castle rose above the clouds'
* * * * *
"I nearly murdered you all, Goliath," Macbeth said solemnly. "I didn't think I was capable of such things."
Goliath, who had been listening intently, tried to comfort the immortal.
"But you didn't, Macbeth. Your sense of honor, even then, was too strong to allow you to do such a thing."
"You forgive me, then? Even for that?" he asked.
"You need to forgive yourself, Macbeth. Nothing can change the past, but we can honor the memories of those we love by what we do today. I only wish Demona had understood that."
"Aye," Macbeth agreed. After a few more minutes of flying, he pointed to a large house. "There she is, Goliath. That's where Demona lives now."
Both gargoyles and flitter descended rapidly towards the spacious grounds surrounding Demona's home. Their approach did not go unnoticed.
* * * * *
Jackal watched from a nearby alleyway, adjusting the display on his infrared eye. Flying gargoyles were rather hard to miss, after all.
He activated his internal transmitter with a thought, opening a channel to Lobo.
"What is it?"
"I found the gargoyles, and they've got a friend. I'm betting they've just found our missing girl. Here's my position ..."
* * * * *
Scotland - 1545 AD
The next night, Demona returned to the castle. Her expression, even her body language, had changed dramatically. Where she had been loving and happy the previous night, she was now cold.
Macbeth was nowhere to be found. Landing next to Goliath, she moved him back to his original position on the wall.
"I will avenge you, my love. I will avenge you all!" she said. Her voice was almost without emotion. There were no tears, no words of love, simply words of vengeance.
"To destroy me, that wretched Macbeth would have destroyed you, Goliath. I swear, on my life, that I will make him, and all humans, pay for what they have done to you!" She took a deep breath before continuing, as if she were justifying her motives to her former love.
Inside, in the back of her mind, Demona wept. She wept for the death of her love for Goliath, and for the gargoyle she had been. Now, there was only revenge to sustain her, revenge on all of humanity for their sins.
Demona raised her head to the heavens and shrieked in despair. There was nothing left for her now but revenge.
As she left the castle, the gargoyle that had been Goliath's "Angel of the Night" died, leaving only Demona.
* * * * *
Angela listened solemnly as Demona concluded her tale. The normally proud gargoyle hung her head as she finished.
"Mother, are you going to be all right?" she asked, putting a hand on Demona's shoulder gently.
She nodded. "I'll - be fine, Angela," she replied, straightening up. "Do you understand now?"
"I think so, mother, but times have changed. Maybe it's time to let go of the past. Please, if not for yourself, then at least consider it for me?" she asked.
"We'll see, Angela." Just then, Demona's attention was attracted to a flashing light on a console behind Angela.
Uttering a stream of curses that made the younger gargoyle blush, Demona threw a series of switches, watching the console intently. Finally, she got the message she wanted.
* * * * *
"Perhaps she can be reasoned with," Goliath said, studying the house.
"'Tis a better idea than rushing in to attack," Macbeth agreed. "I'm not so eager to end things as I was."
Goliath nodded his agreement. "You mean because of the woman you were with?"
"Aye, thanks to you and the detective, and I suppose even to Demona, I have learned to care for someone again. It's a sensation I've no wish to abandon just yet."
The gargoyles and human made their way to the front door cautiously, avoiding the various cameras and electric beams through a combination of Macbeth's and Lexington's expertise.
"Looks like no one's noticed us," Brooklyn said.
"At least you didn't say, 'it's quiet'," Lexington said, checking a small infrared scanner.
"As in, 'too quiet'?" Broadway asked.
The whirring of heavy machinery directly in front of them made the gargoyles take cover. A large laser cannon slid out from a space behind one of the large trees in front of the house, and opened fire, targeting an area behind the gargoyles.
"She missed?" Brooklyn said curiously.
"Apparently not," Sata observed, watching the impact point carefully.
* * * * *
With a speed that belied his bulk, Coyote took up a position in front of the other members of the Ultra-Pack as the laser beam streaked towards them. Other than a pretty light show, the beam seemed to have little effect on the gigantic robot's hull.
One pair of autocannons was gone, replaced by a curious box-shaped assembly on Coyote's right shoulder. There were six large holes in the front of the object.
"We've been discovered!" Lobo shouted. "Attack!"
As the others scrambled towards the house, Coyote simply stood his ground. With the speed of thought, mini-missiles roared out of the box-like assembly on his shoulder, speeding unerringly towards the offending laser battery.
The laser managed to destroy two of the missiles, but was then destroyed itself in a fiery explosion as the remaining missiles found their mark.
* * * * *
Inside, Demona snarled angrily as the LED display of her laser winked out. Throwing more switches, she activated the remainder of the antipersonnel defenses.
"Your father has led those humans right to us!" she spat venomously.
"Will they be all right?" Angela asked, concern etched in her lovely face.
"If they stay out of the way, they'll be fine," reassured Demona. Typing a last set of commands, she stepped back as the far wall slid open.
With a wolfish grin, she showed off her fangs. "One should never attack a mother defending her child," she growled. As if to punctuate her point, a half-dozen Valkyrie robots stepped out of the secret area. Done in a metallic blue shade with silver highlights, they resembled their creator, Demona. Each was outfitted with a pair of sleek rocket engines between the shoulder blades, razor-keen talons on both hands and feet, and huge silver wings.
As another secret door, this one in the floor, slid open, the robots marched obediently towards it, disappearing into the darkness. The noise of their engines faded as they streaked towards their destination.
"You've finished them?" Angela asked, remembering the prototype she saw earlier at Nightstone.
Demona laughed. "I've done more than finish them, daughter. Those are the newly-christened Mark II models!" she said proudly. "They'll make short work of that rabble!"
"What about Father and the others?" she repeated.
Demona sighed. "I programmed them to ignore your clan, and Macbeth as well. So you needn't worry about them."
"Oh, yes, Macbeth. I can sense him whenever he's close by. He must have been the one who led them here to begin with," she mused. "Perhaps I should have changed my name after that whole unfortunate business in Paris."
* * * * *
Coyote served as a shield for the rest of his team, as everything from bullets to particle beams slammed into the metal titan, all with no effect. Slowly, the group was edging closer to their destination.
As Goliath and the others looked on, a hatch opened in front of the house, on the well-groomed lawn. With the high-pitched whine of multiple rocket engines, the formation of robots shot out of the hatch, making a beeline for the Ultra-Pack.
The gargoyles simply watched in awe as the feminine automatons tore into their adversaries with programmed determination.
* * * * *
"Oh, no," Jackal said, seeing the robots.
"Allow me," Coyote said, bringing his autocannons to bear on the onrushing robots. The guns roared as a stream of hyper-velocity shells slammed into one of the Valkyries.
The robot faltered under the hail of shells, cutting its engines and landing. Using its arms, the robot shielded the sensitive optics from the gunfire.
Celebration turned to concern as Coyote's sensors began to scan the target. While the shells were hitting the robot, they were having little effect other than a minor dimpling of the armor.
Jackal and Hyena pirouetted and danced around the particle beams being fired at them by a pair of the robots. Sharing a wicked smile, the pair leapt at each other, the robots in hot pursuit.
At the last second, the twins angled their bodies, missing each other by millimeters. Each looked back, waiting for the inevitable collision and explosion. It never came.
The two robots executed the same maneuver, dodging each other with ease. The two continued the chase, harrying the twins with particle beam fire.
"Any more bright ideas?" Hyena snapped, glowering at her brother.
Jackal shrugged as he broke into a run. "It always worked in the movies!"
Wolf pounced on one of the metal maidens as it flew by, landing on its back and knocking it to the ground. As the feral mutate prepared to gut his prize, the robot's eyes flashed a bright blue, and electricity began to arc across the "skin".
As Wolf screamed in agony, the robot rose, grabbing him by the shoulders. The electrical charge then became more localized, coursing into the mutate from the robot's hands.
Bull tore across the lawn, his jaws clamping down on the tail of one robot. As it landed, bringing the gun to bear on the enhanced dog, Lobo attacked from hiding, crushing the robot's head in his powerful hands. The sputtering, sparking machine collapsed to the ground, and promptly exploded.
Although caught in the blast, the two were relatively unhurt.
Coyote was faring poorly, though. A pair of Valkyries screamed around him, taking full advantage of the larger robot's lack of mobility. The two strafed him with particle beams, each varying in intensity. First the beams were a bright red, then blue, and finally green as their variable frequencies found the spectrum Coyote was most vulnerable to.
Although the beams did little more than burn deep gouges in Coyote's surface armor, the massive robot was covered in them. Once the pair concluded that this method of attack was less than effective, they switched tactics. Maneuvering in even closer, the two buzzed Coyote, raking him with their razor-sharp wings.
These cut deep furrows in the armor, severing both the autocannon barrels and the mini-missile launcher. Deprived of his automatic weapons, Coyote tried to blast the pair with his forearm beam weapons, but the Valkyries were too fast.
Maddened by the situation, Hyena lunged at her attacker, her arms elongating to grapple with it. The robot dodged her clumsy attack, and neatly severed the cybernetic limbs at the elbow joint with its wings.
"Ouch!" Hyena cried. There was no pain, of course, but she hadn't expected to lose both arms!
As the Valkyries circled back for another pass, Jackal looked to his sister sympathetically.
"Let's just call it a night, sis."
"You got that right!" she replied wholeheartedly. Her severed limbs scuttled across the ground like something out of a horror film, scampering up her torso and grafting themselves to the stumps. Flexing her fingers, she dropped into a crouch and executed a perfect back-flip, vaulting away from the robots.
Wolf, who had finally broken free of the Valkyrie's electrical grip, bounded off after his teammates.
Lobo and Bull also withdrew, with Coyote lumbering after them. As soon as the Ultra-Pack was gone, the Valkyries gathered up their fallen "sister" and retreated through their passageway back into Demona's abode.
* * * * *
"That was ... interesting," Brooklyn commented. "Why do you suppose Demona didn't sic them on us too?"
"I don't know, but we're going to find out," Goliath said, pointing toward the door. "Let's go."
As Goliath reached towards the knob, the door burst open. There, in the doorway, was Demona, brandishing a VERY large laser cannon. She wasn't pointing it at the clan, but the very fact that she had it didn't bode well.
"What do you want?" she demanded, a sly smile on her face.
Goliath reared up to his full height, clearly unimpressed with either Demona's attitude or her gun. "How dare you kidnap my daughter!" he raged. "You will release her, or I will take her from you, Demona!"
The azure gargoyle laughed, as if Goliath had just made a joke. "After what you just saw, you have the gall to threaten me? The centuries have not only made you weak, Goliath, they've addled your brain as well."
The others gathered around Goliath, voicing their support. Macbeth also stood by Goliath's side, fingering his weapon.
"Suppose we insist, lass?" he said. "Ye can't kill ALL of us, can ye?"
"Don't threaten me, old man!" Demona's amusement melted into anger. "I did NOT kidnap Angela! You forget, Goliath, she's my daughter as well."
"Since when have you ever told the truth?" Broadway accused.
Brooklyn remained quiet. He felt that Demona was telling the truth. After what she had told him of her past (and their future), he believed her.
Sata merely eyed the gargoyle coldly, watching for any sign of betrayal.
Demona was about to respond when Angela limped into view. It was clearly an effort for her to walk, but she was able to put weight on her wounded leg.
"How dare you accuse her like that!" Angela yelled angrily, hobbling over to stand in front of Demona. "She saved my life, and she brought me here to protect me! She is telling the truth!"
Goliath and the others looked back at her, shocked. Seeing her had caught them completely off guard. As Goliath stammered to reply, Angela continued to berate them for their behavior.
"After what we've seen, and the changes Mother has made ... especially after what she has done here tonight ... I can't understand how you can still think the worst of her!" Angela fixed Goliath with a hurt gaze, as if he had accused her personally.
Goliath's expression softened slightly, and he looked back at Demona, who was smirking smugly.
"Perhaps, perhaps we were a bit ... premature, Demona." He then looked to the horizon. "It will be dawn soon, and we need to take our places at the castle. Will you come with us, Angela?" Goliath asked, offering her his hand.
Angela hesitated for a moment, looking back at her mother. Demona would certainly allow her to stay throughout the day here if she wished. As she considered her options, trying to weigh each parent's feelings, Demona nodded her head almost imperceptibly. She understood, and she was telling Angela that she could go. The young gargoyle relented, taking her father's outstretched hand. The seven gargoyles then turned, making their way back to Castle Wyvern.
Scaling a nearby wall, the gargoyles took to the air, Angela nestled gently in her father's arms. Both immortals watched them go for a moment, before Demona turned her attention back to Macbeth.
"Well?" she said impatiently, folding her arms across her chest.
"Ye've a precious thing in that child of yours, Demona. I hope ye realize that and put aside the old hatreds," Macbeth said wearily. He then turned and walked away.
In moments, his flitter was airborne, taking him home, and leaving Demona alone with her thoughts.
As Demona turned to head back inside, she cast a final glance towards the departing gargoyles.
"Good bye, Angela."