Previously on Gargoyles:
It had been so peaceful, so idyllic on Avalon for so long, that the concept of an attack had been all but foreign to them. But ever since the attack of the Archmage and the return of Lord Oberon and the Third Race, Tom had sworn to himself that they would not be unprepared again. And the time would eventually come when another of the Eggs would want to join their rookery sister Angela in the outside world. He would want them ready for anything.
Tom glanced up at the window to an upper room of the castle. "Katharine! Is Ophelia not done yet?"
Inside the room, Princess Katharine, formerly of Castle Wyvern, called down. "Ach, Tom! She'll be done when she's done and not a moment before then!" She turned her attention back to the ornate mirror before her as the pale green gargoyle behind her continued to try to style the Princess's hair. "Dinnae worry, lass," she said with a wry smile. "Tom may have his wishes, but we have ours as well."
"Is that not the way of all royalty, Princess?" Both Katharine and Ophelia turned as Queen Titania entered the room, and Katharine stiffened. Ever since the return of the Third Race to this island, Katharine had always felt a little insecure around Titania. The unearthly beauty of the Queen of the Fay always made the aging Princess aware of each and every flaw in her own mortal face and form.
"To what do we owe the pleasure of this visit, milady?" Ophelia asked, attempting a curtsey. Katharine hid a smile. There were many things that the gargoyle excelled at, but curtseying was not one of them.
"I wished to look in on my daughter, and needed to borrow my mirror back."
"Oh!" Ophelia's face brightened. "Do you think we can look in on Goliath as well?"
"I don't see why not, my dear." As Titania waved her hand, the mirror clouded over, and soon the reflection of the room was replaced with a scene both familiar and strange to Katharine: the Great Hall of Castle Wyvern. As they looked further, the mirror seemed to center its focus on the tall, severe-looking man talking into some strange device in his hand.
Owen Burnett was momentarily startled. He had the oddest sense that someone was watching him, but he knew that no one was around. Ignoring the feeling, he continued speaking into the cellular phone. "I'm sorry, Mr. Takahashi. Xanacorp has no interest in voiding the contracts. The purchase stands. And as stated in the contract, we will wish to keep you around as an advisor on the project." He paused as the person on the other end started talking again. "I am sure that Mr. Xanatos will call as soon as he is free. Thank you, Mr. Takahashi." No sooner had he folded up the cell-phone than it buzzed again. The Caller ID code was registered to the lobby security guard. He opened it and answered, "Burnett. Yes, Mr. Archer?"
All was quiet as he listened to the young security guard. "No, Mr. Archer, you are not correct. I want you to immediately find Detective Maza, apologize, then escort her back into the building. And in the future, Mr. Archer, Detective Maza is to have carte blanche access. You are to waive the normal procedures and send her up immediately. If you had bothered to read the daily log you would have known of the change in procedure." He paused again to listen to the guard. "See that you do. And Mr. Archer, this is going to be placed on your record."
Folding the phone once again and finally placing it back in his suit pocket, he counted to thirty, then strode across the hall, standing in front of the elevator. As if on cue, the elevator doors opened. "Good evening, Detective Maza." Elisa looked at him quizzically. "This is a social call, is it not?" he inquired.
She relaxed slightly, but was still apprehensive about being back in 'enemy territory.' "I suppose it is at that. I'm here to see Goliath and the clan. Want to make sure they're okay."
"Of course, Detective. Right this way." He escorted her away from the usual route to the roof and down a long corridor in the residential section of the castle. He pushed open the heavily carved door to reveal a library. Elisa noted that the furniture was much more generously cut than the other rooms of the castle she had seen on previous visits. A fire burned brightly under an ornately carved stone mantel. Despite the room's size, the effect was cozy. "Please have a seat. I will tell Goliath that you have arrived." He gave a slight bow and withdrew from the room.
In the television room, Goliath was pacing impatiently. "Ach, Goliath." His mentor and friend, Hudson, was fidgeting in his chair. "'Tis bad enough your fretting is distracting me, but this chair is uncomfortable to my old bones as well." Finally stopping, Hudson grumbled to himself. "Thrice-damned Hunters. Blowing up a perfectly good chair. And just when I had it broken in, too..."
Owen entered the room and was nearly bowled over by Goliath. "Excuse me," Goliath said, his deep voice filling the room. "I didn't see you."
"Of course. Detective Maza is waiting for you in the library." He adjusted his glasses and continued. "Mr. Xanatos requests that you encourage her to reconsider his offer. After the unpleasantness of the other evening, it should be apparent even to Detective Maza that her living arrangements are no longer secure."
A low rumble built up deep in his throat. "I will see what I can do." He took his leave of Owen and Hudson and strode down the hallway to the library.
Goliath opened the door expecting to see the face of his beloved. He was momentarily startled not to see her. Glancing around, he found her curled on the sofa, drowsing before the flames. Her ebony hair caught glints of the firelight and she appeared in his eyes to be a creature from a myth; the sleeping princess awaiting to be awoken with a kiss. He went quickly to her side and knelt, unwilling to disturb her slumber. She must have been very tired to have fallen asleep so quickly. He reached down and gingerly moved a stray lock of her hair back in place. She shifted and captured his hand in hers.
"Hey, Big Guy." She fluttered her lashes a few times, then arched and stretched luxuriously.
"Hello, Elisa. I am sorry if I disturbed you. You need your rest."
She shook her head and sat up. "I can catch up on my sleep later. I needed to see you, make sure you were safe." She paused, looking away. "I've missed you."
He rose long enough to seat himself on the couch and pull Elisa into his embrace. "I've missed you as well." He reveled in her warmth and inhaled her odd but intoxicating aroma of soap and humanity. Elisa snuggled close, sharing his need for tranquility. These last few nights had been difficult on her. Goliath knew that the sudden revelation of the clan's existence had strained the inhabitants of a normally tense city. Elisa's job put her on the front lines, defending the citizens from themselves. But then to be attacked by those madmen, in her own home, was too much for almost anyone. Yet somehow she'd made it through.
He stroked her hair a moment longer and felt Elisa relax against him. She was going to drift off to sleep again. He knew he couldn't put things off much longer. He cleared his throat, wondering just how to approach what was a touchy subject.
"You needn't stay away anymore. Stay here, with the clan. With me."
She pushed away from his chest and looked straight into his eyes, all signs of sleep gone from her face. "What did you say?"
"It isn't safe for you to live alone any longer. These Quarrymen..." He trailed off, trying to express a fear that he didn't even want to contemplate. "If anything were to happen to you..." He couldn't complete the sentence, but the look on his face said it all. But then, so did the look on hers.
"Goliath, that's nonsense. Nothing is going to happen to me. Between dealing with big time thugs like Brode and Dracon, not to mention the regular perps I deal with, I thought you knew I could take care of myself." She shook her head and tried to gentle her words. "Besides, I can't live here." She got up and began to pace. "I'm a police officer. Both Xanatos and his wife are convicted felons. I shouldn't even be here now. If my position as a police is officer is compromised, I can't protect you. I can't protect anyone!" She turned back to face him. "Can't you see what I'm saying? Being a cop is as much a part of my life, my way of thinking as protecting the city is to yours."
Goliath rose to his feet, the earlier sedate mood broken. "What if the Quarrymen come back and I'm not there to protect you? What if they come back during the day?"
The toil of another sleepless day finally snapped Elisa's patience. "My grandfather didn't let a bunch of hood-wearing freaks scare him out of his home and neither will I!" Her eyes seemed to glow like burning embers. Whether a reflection of the firelight or the fire burning inside of her, it caught Goliath by surprise. She turned her back on him and stared into the flames.
He came up to her and gently wrapped his arm and wing around her. "I was once told that a home is less about stone and wood and more about being safe with ones loved ones."
"Goliath," she said through clenched teeth, "don't quote my own words back at me."
"But they _are_ good words, Detective." David Xanatos stood in the doorway, leisurely leaning against the frame. "I didn't mean to interrupt, but I did hear my name being taken in vain. Goliath is right. You are more than welcome here."
Elisa could feel the rage in her building even higher. "After what you did to my brother? Not to mention what Internal Affairs would do to me!"
A touch of sadness crossed over Xanatos' face. "I can't undo happened to Derek, but I am trying to make reparations. And if you're worried about your standing with the police, you could always work for me as the new Chief of Security for Xanacorp." Her eyes began to flash again. "Or not," he amended hastily. "I know you don't believe me yet, Detective... Elisa... but I am a new man. Give me a chance to prove it to you. Let me move you into new quarters if you won't come here. Or at least upgrade your current security."
"It seems like a reasonable solution, Elisa," Goliath entreated. "For your sake... for our sake, please say 'yes'."
Her eyes narrowed, the anger on her face more than evident, and focused in on her would-be benefactor. "Xanatos, I don't trust you." She looked up at Goliath, the anger replaced on her face with a look of tender caring. "But for Goliath's sake, I'll think about it."
"That's all I ask." He turned to leave, then caught himself. "One other thing. Speaking of your brother, I can't seem to reach your parents. I have a proposal for them and him." Xanatos could see from her face that he had more than worn out her patience. "But this isn't the time or place to talk about it." He lowered his voice, and contritely said, "I do wish to undo the damage I've done to your family, Elisa." He slowly turned on heel and walked away.
"Will you really think about Xanatos' offer?"
"Leopards can't change their spots, Goliath, and neither can David Xanatos." She turned to face him again. "Besides, I'm not the one at risk right now. I'd don't want you patrolling the city for a while..."
"ELISA!" Goliath broke away, shocked. "How can you even suggest such a thing! It is our duty -- our obligation -- to protect this island! A gargoyle can no more stop protecting than he can stop breathing the air!"
"We poor cops managed before you were here and we'll manage long after you're gone." As soon as the words were said, she realized the damage she had done. The last traces of her anger disappeared. "Goliath, I don't want anything to happen to you, either. If I promise to honestly consider Xanatos' offer, will you keep the clan in for a while?"
He embraced his beloved and held her to his chest. "We are two of a kind, my Elisa. I will be careful..." He tilted her chin up gently so that he could see her eyes. "...if you do the same."
She smiled wistfully at him and then broke the embrace. "I have to go to work now. The city is on riot alert and every officer has been pulling double shifts. I'll try and come see you tomorrow if I can." She looked away, her eyes welling up with tears. "I don't want to lose you now that we've found each other."
He caressed her face and kissed her gently on the top of the head. "I will look forward to then, my love. Be safe."
She gave his hand a quick squeeze then exited the library before she could change her mind. She bumped into Brooklyn as she entered the corridor. "Sorry 'bout that, Brooklyn." She noticed that he seemed to be in a sour frame of mind. "Is something wrong?"
"Oh, not much. Just life... the universe... everything."
There was something about Brooklyn's response that seemed familiar, but she couldn't quite place it. "I'm going to be late for roll call if I don't get a move on it. Would you like to talk about it later?"
"Yeah, sure. O.K."
"I'll talk with you then. Later!" She hurried down the hallway and left Brooklyn staring at her.
He found Goliath brooding in front of the fireplace, took one look at the somber expression on the clan leader's face and snuck quietly out. He got three steps out the doorway before he caught sight of Xanatos heading for the library. "I don't think I'd go in there if I were you," he began in warning. "Goliath has that 'do not disturb' look again."
"I take it that Detective Maza has just left?" Xanatos queried.
"Uh, yeah. Just a few minutes ago. She was acting a little weird, too."
"They were having a minor disagreement earlier. Perhaps Goliath needs something to take his mind off of things. I believe that I have just the ticket. Care to join me?"
"O.K. Yeah. Sure." Brooklyn nodded and followed Xanatos back into the library, keeping a respectful distance from Goliath.
Xanatos cleared his throat as he entered into the library. Brooklyn was right. Goliath clearly looked as if he didn't want to be disturbed. Too bad.
"Goliath. Our little discussion earlier got me thinking. I do want to prove to Detective Maza that I can be trusted. And I know that the castle, generous as it is, must be feeling a little... confining?"
The lines on Goliath's face drew even more severe as his eyes glowed ever so slightly. "And?"
"I had originally planned to use the newest Coyote prototype against you. However, since I no longer have need of it, I want to get it back to the tower to be dismantled. Would you like to go along with it and make sure it gets back here? Stretch your wings, so to speak?"
Goliath nodded. He'd promised that they would be careful, not that they would suspend their patrols. Xanatos did seem sincere in his offer and his change of heart. And surely there was no danger in just following a delivery truck, especially when Xanatos' own men would be with it.
"Wonderful. I'll have Owen brief you shortly." He turned to leave, paused to consider his words and turned back. "I'm sure that whatever Detective Maza said, she meant well. We all have your best interests at heart." Without another word, Xanatos left the two gargoyles alone.
Goliath watched him depart through narrowed eyes. "I wonder what he knows of our conversation?"
Brooklyn also watched the departing Xanatos. "Trust me, Goliath. It doesn't take surveillance gear to figure out that something's going on." And with that he beat a hasty retreat to let the others know that they had some work to do.
As the mirror clouded over again, Ophelia frowned. "Something seems amiss with Goliath and the Lady Elisa."
"Indeed," agreed Katharine. "What sort of peril would cause their love to fray like that?"
"And cause my son-in-law to offer his protection?" Titania finished. "I don't like this. Anything that could threaten your clan may also threaten my grandson." With another wave of her hand, the glass once again regained its focus. The ladies looked at each other with puzzled glances.
"Why, a tavern?" exclaimed Katharine. "What could threaten the clan or the babe in there?"
"The same as in any tavern," Titania said. "Conspirators, assassins and thieves."
"Will you relax?" Jackal hissed as he swirled the last of the soda in his glass. "You're drawing attention with all that fidgeting!"
Hyena fidgeted again, as much to annoy her brother as to try to get comfortable in the bulky jacket and hood she wore. "We could've gone to France, Spain, even Florida! But nooooo... We had to come back to the Big Apple! Home of Xanatos, Gargoyles, and prison! And I've had quite enough of the last, thank-you-sir!"
Jackal glanced around the room and looked at the assembled human wreckage. He recognized more than a few old business associates quietly playing pool and soaking up beer. "I doubt the 'A List' is going to make an appearance tonight, Sis. So just chill out. I've set us up with a sweet deal..." One of the pool players scratched a shot and sent a ball flying towards Jackal. With a sweep of his arm, he snatched the ball out of the air and crushed it into powder with one hand. "Eat your heart out, Lee Majors..."
"Well, don't keep me in suspense, tell me more!"
"This guy, Dave G., said that his employers are very motivated to find associates with... 'special qualifications.' And they are willing to pay handsomely..."
"Money's nice," Hyena agreed reluctantly, "but diamond's aren't this girl's only friend." She tried to pick up her drink, but the servos in her arm malfunctioned, leaving the glass suspended in mid air. "A little help here?" she prodded as she looked at the glass and then her arm in disgust. "Stupid thing hasn't worked right since they cut all the wires back in the pen. And it's soooo hard to find a good mechanic."
Jackal poked at the arm's control panel. There was a slight spark as a wire contact melted and fused. The arm jerked slightly, spilling the soda on Hyena, but then began to move correctly once again.
"You did that on purpose," she accused, wiping the drink off of her.
"Moi?" Jackal said, the picture of innocence. "Would I do that to my loving sister?"
"In a heartbeat, brother dear. So, will this job give us enough to fix these things?"
"That's the best part of the deal, Sis! They will do upgrades, install the latest technology, the works! We'll be better, stronger, faster..."
"At a cost of..."
"Cost is no object to my employers. If you can do the job."
Jackal knocked over his glass as a third party, covered head to toe in black clothing, seemed to just appear behind him.
"Geeez, Dave! How many times have I told you not to do that!"
Hyena, for her part, was trying to get the 'sudden malfunction' in her autonomic system to settle down. "You move kinda quiet, guy. Kinda like a big mouse, y'know...?" Her breathing slowed down as her heart rate finally returned to normal.
"Never call me that!" he hissed, the smoky bar room light making his eyes look like they were glowing with a weird green light. Hyena cringed in the corner.
"Sorry! Really! It was a compliment!" she added hastily.
"You are forgiven, then," he said, "this time...
Be sure not to repeat the error." As he calmed down, his eyes lost
the weird glow. "Perhaps we should discuss the matter at hand."
His voice became low and soothing and the siblings had to lean inward to
hear his voice. "There is a certain armored car that is going to
deliver some technology my employers would find... useful to own
now rather than develop independently. They wish you to divert the
car from its route and deliver it here." He pulled a map from his
pocket and explained the
specifics of the plan.
When he finished, he looked at them with a gaze that seemed to penetrate to their souls. "Are you quite clear on the instructions?"
"Sure, piece of cake." Hyena drawled. "Right, brother?"
"You can count on us, Dave. You know you can. Just like we know we can count on you to deliver the goods." Jackal agreed.
"If you do as you are instructed, the world will be your oyster. Good night." He backed away from the table and seemed to fade into the shadows.
Jackal stared off into space for a moment and then tapped his eyepiece. "Y'know, I think this thing must be fritzing again. I could've sworn that Dave wasn't quite there and I was looking right at him."
"Great," Hyena complained. "He's a weirdsmobile and you're losing it. What have I gotten myself into?" she moaned as she emptied her glass. They started to get up when Jackal noticed that there was something blocking his path. 6 feet 2 inches and 350 pounds of biker.
"You broke our ball."
Jackal looked over at his sister. "Hey, sis! Congratulate him! Mad Dog finally stopped dragging his knuckles!"
It took a moment for the insult to filter its way through what passed for a brain in the thug. "Hey! I'm gonna cut you man!" he yelled as he pulled a switchblade out of his belt.
Hyena sauntered her way over to him. "You call that a knife?" she queried, looking at the switchblade. "Nah," she said with disdain in her voice. "This is a knife!" At that, she held her hand up, extending the blades out of her fingers to their full length.
The blood drained from Mad Dog's face as he looked at the extended blades, then quickly bolted to the back of the room. The two siblings just looked at each other and laughed as they walked out the door.
"Something is dreadfully amiss." Titania tore her gaze away from the glass and frowned. "There is something extremely familiar about that man." She shook her head in frustration. "He has the air of evil about him. Sisters three, attend me!"
As one, the three sisters appeared in front of the mirror. "You command us, Milady, and we come," they spoke with one voice.
Titania motioned for them to move aside and had the previous scene replay itself on the mirror. "This man, the one in black. I want you to go the mortal realm and watch him and all who he deals with."
The three replied in turn, as if in performance:
"We would like to assist you, Lady."
"But Oberon has commanded the fay not to leave Avalon."
"If we obey you, we risk his wrath."
Titania's eyes flashed with anger. "Would you rather upset Lord Oberon, or would you rather upset me?"
The three opened their mouths to speak, but Titania interrupted them. "Did his Lordship not say that you are to obey my commands as if he spoke them himself? Now go!" Light streamed from Titania's eyes, enveloping the three and temporarily blinding Katharine and Ophelia. By the time their eyes cleared, they saw the sisters had disappeared.
"Can you trust them, milady?" Katharine inquired gently.
"It's true that they have their own goals," Titania admitted. "But my place is here. They will answer truly." Her eyes once again flashed with the magic of her race. "For their own sakes, they will."
"Lady Titania?" Ophelia said, her voice a whisper. "Surely there must be someone to help. Are there not any allies for our kin?"
"You want me to drink leaves boiled in water?"
"With a splash of lemon or perhaps milk, your majesty."
Anyone who entered the "Into the Mystic shoppe" now would be stricken with the differences between the two men arguing. One embodied the past of England. The strength of arm and steel, when magic and sorcery was something strange and wonderful to behold and when a dream called Camelot was more than a dream. All in the man known as Arthur Pendragon, Lord of the Britons and the once and future king. The other, Captain Colin Marter, formerly of the Royal Air Force, was straight out of the English Gentleman's Handbook. Suit completely pressed, umbrella and bowler at his side, and completely unflappable, he was holding out the china cup and saucer filled with his best freshly brewed Darjeeling tea.
Arthur sat back in his chair and scoffed. "Merlin made me drink such things as a youth. I doubt the flavor has progressed in the time since." "Now this," he said, grabbing a hold of a nearby tankard, "is a man's drink. Something to test a man's fortitude and put hair on his chest." He looked across the room at the two gargoyles sitting there, chuckling to themselves. "What did you call this again, Sir Griff?"
"Prune juice, your majesty."
Colin had opened his mouth to respond when the telephone rang. "Into the Mystic. How may I help you?" He paused. "I understand." Setting the phone next to it's cradle, he walked over to the older of the three gargoyles. "Leo, it's for you. It's Drake."
The leonine gargoyle padded over to the phone. "Leo here." After several minutes of listening to Leo 'mmmhmmm' to the party on the other end, the whole room grew quiet as they watched him. "You can tell those youngsters that until the entire clan is ready, we shall continue to operate as we always have." A moment more and then Leo put the phone back on the cradle, ending the call.
Griff walked over to his friend. "Here now, Leo. It can't be all that bad."
"Unfortunately, my friend, it is. Ever since the Hunters revealed the existence of Goliath's clan, some of the younger clanmembers have wanted to reveal themselves on the telly. 'Great publicity,' they say. 'No more skulking about the castle.' Bah. They don't see the dangers that can come about from such foolishness. What was Goliath thinking?"
"From what I saw, Leo, it wasn't exactly his choice."
"You got that lock secured, Mike?" The driver called out to his partner. "Mr. X will have our heads on a platter if something happens to this load!"
"Ah, you worry too much, Morty," he heard from behind this truck. "Besides, I've been wanting to get away from this Mickey Mouse operation for some time. Too many problems with those gargoyles."
"Yeah, yeah. Right next to the pink elephants." Morty waited as his partner climbed into the cab. "I'll stick to the late show, thankyouverymuch."
"I don't know, Morty." Mike replied, momentarily shaken as the truck pulled out. "I have this cousin, see, who has this girlfriend, who's sisters fiancée jogs in Central Park and sees 'em all the time."
"Oxygen deprivation from running," Morty replied knowingly. "Too much blood is used by the muscles that there's not enough for the brain."
"Then you ought to be the smartest man around, Morty."
He shot a glance at his partner. "Ha, ha. But I digress. It's mass hypnosis or some sort of government cover-up, yaknow? I keep tellin' ya those TV shows are real. They put it out as fiction to throw us off the track."
"So what you're sayin' is you believe in a bunch of people behind the scenes pulling the strings of the government, but you don't believe in magical creatures?"
"Nah... Never in a million..."
Just then, a large shadow passed over the cab. The shadow of a man-shaped object with huge bat-like wings.
"Well, I suppose they could be aliens..." Morty said.
Goliath circled around again as the truck entered the main street. He signaled to Brooklyn and Broadway to fall back a bit and for Lexington and Angela to take point. "Xanatos was right", he said to himself. "It is good to get away from the castle and feel the air on my wings." He waved to the other four and had them fall back into formation behind him.
They had just crossed the Williamsburg Bridge when the complaints began.
"I don't know, Broadway. This whole 'patrol' feels like busy work," Brooklyn began. "A 'get the gargoyles out of the castle' type of thing."
"What? Do you think he's got some type of plot he's hatching?"
"This is Xanatos we're talking about. Of course he has some sort of plot."
Over to his right, Lexington overheard their conversation and winked at Broadway. "Hey, Davy! What are we going to do tonight?"
"The same thing we do every night, Fox," Broadway replied, lowering his voice, "try to take over the world!"
Lex, Broadway and Angela broke up in laughter while Brooklyn just looked at them. Goliath was beginning to wonder if discovering television was a good thing after all.
"Quiet," Goliath commanded. "Xanatos is showing us his good faith by the destruction of this robot. Let's focus on the task at hand."
"Yes, sir," they all responded.
But the joking continued. Goliath counted ten before he fixed his charges in a steely glare. "I said attend to your duties. Lexington, Drop back! Angela, fly his wing. Keep your eyes on that truck and no more talk!"
"Are you ready, sis?" Jackal yelled over the roar of the traffic.
"Ready, willing, and able!" She thumped her creaking arm and gave a thumbs up.
"Let's get to it!" He extended his prosthetic eye around the span of the bridge and then slid the rest of himself into position behind a support beam. "Here it comes!" He retracted his eye and prepared to vault to the truck. Reaching behind him, he pulled out a grenade and lobbed it into the traffic.
The subsequent explosion caused the traffic behind the truck to go flying everywhere, drawing the attention of its flying escorts.
"Angela!" Goliath roared. "Lexington! Fly over the bridge and meet it on the other side! Brooklyn, Broadway, follow me in!"
"Yeeehah! E-ticket ride, bro!" Hyena screamed as she jumped onto the passenger's riding board and put her fist through the door.
"Told you, sis! Fun and profit! Aren't you glad you came along for the ride?" Jackal vaulted onto the driver's side. "What do you think, sis? Over the bridge, off the lamppost, nothing but net?"
They both reached in and threw Morty and Mike high into the air, and reveled in the screams before climbing in.
Broadway pulled his wings in tight to build up his speed, then grabbed the definitely non-aerodynamic driver. "Hi," he said to Morty. "Thank you for flying Broadway Airlines. Please watch the 'Fasten Seatbelts' sign and don't forget to return your trays to their upright position." Morty took one look at his rescuer and fainted dead away.
Mike had a completely different reaction to his rescuer. "Angela, is it? Y'know, Angie, if you ain't busy some time, I know this great little bistrooooOOOH!" The expression on Mike's face rapidly changed from amorous to nauseous as Angela raced around the nearby trees before alighting on a footbridge.
"Sorry. I've already got a boyfriend." She
turned, and with a sideways
glance over her shoulder said, "and don't call me 'Angie.'"
"Don't look now, bro, but we got hitchhikers!"
Jackal swiveled the side mirror up and out. Reflected in its surface, gliding along at a good clip, were the remaining three Gargoyles. He looked over at his sister, who was frantically trying to get the laser removed from it's sheath in her arm. "Scenic route?"
She grinned; not altogether a pleasant sight. "Scenic route!"
He jerked the wheel to the left, swerving through traffic and knocking Hyena against the door. "Stop playing with that, sis," Jackal hissed, "and get in the back. See if there's anything there to help us out."
Ripping through the metal with her claws, Hyena climbed into the rear of the truck and started opening crates. "Flashlight, nope. Uzi, nope. And what's behind the curtain?" she said as she pulled the large tarp off it's hidden contents. "Helllloooo, nurse!"
Jackal was swerving in and out of traffic and buildings, but the gargoyles were still on his tail. "Whatcha got, sis?"
"You'll never believe who's along for the ride! Coyote, and he's got a whole new look! Gee, you're awfully quiet tonight..." There was the sound of a thump and a bump. "Oh, no juice. Oh, my poor baby..." Hyena cooed to the machinery. "Let's see if we can't make some sparks..."
"Hyena! Quit trying to to make out with that tin plated Romeo and get up here!" Jackal swerved barely in time to avoid a city bus. "Well, one-way streets are a stupid concept anyway...." he muttered.
There was an ominous metalic whirring in the back of the truck. "What was that?!" He swerved again, giving several innocent cars parked on the street a new "compact" look.
"N-nothing," she stuttered as the truck took a corner on two wheels. There was a loud thud and a thump and Hyena cursed loudly. "Watch it will you? I just had my hair done!" She poked her head out into the cab. "Coyote was just stretching a bit. It's kinda cramped back here."
Broadway was hard pressed to keep up with the antics of
the driver. "Who's driving that thing? Mel Gibson?"
"Move in!" commanded Goliath. Wings folded back tight against their bodies, they hurled themselves at the truck.
Sheet metal groaned as Brooklyn impacted with the cab of the truck. "Oh, that's going to leave a bruise." He peered into the window. "Why am I not surprised?" He raised his fist and plunged it through the driver side window, and grabbed for the steering wheel. The truck lurched as a startled Jackal fought for control.
"Flying freak! Let go!" He snuck a quick glance at Hyena who was having problems of her own. She was slapping at the firing control mechanism on her laser arm and ducking as Goliath attempted to haul her out of the truck. The Coyote robot groaned and there was an ominous lurch from the back of the van.
Jackal jerked the steering wheel, sending the vehicle into a parking lot full of Mercedes and BMW's. "Insurance agents are gonna be in therapy for weeks," he cackled happily. He dove under Brooklyn's embrace and tumbled out onto the pavement. Hyena used the open door as an escape hatch, tumbling out behind her brother. The trio of gargoyles circled....
Goliath eyed their opponents warily. "Be prepared for anythi..." he started to caution, as Broadway and Angela rejoined the fray. He cut himself off as the rear of the truck burst open, revealing its sole cargo - the Coyote robot - activated.
"Scatter!" The robot was momentarily still as it took in its three targets. Raising the large weapon in its sidearm, it started firing away.
"Lasers," Lexington moaned, "why is it always lasers?" He wrenched the side view mirror off the nearest BMW and attempted to deflect the high energy beams back toward the robot as he dove underneath a Camry. The car was scored neatly down the middle, but the beam caught the corner of Lexington's mirror and bounced back at the robot striking a glancing blow. It was enough to distract the creature long enough for Goliath to launch a flying tackle and send it crashing towards a brand new Mercedes, crushing the German car badly. The robot locked Goliath in a lethal embrace, hugging the gargoyle against his chest as he reclined against the demolished car. Goliath struggled mightily and then slumped as the robot squeezed the air from his lungs.
Angela saw her father's futile attemps to free himself
and dove into the fray, heedless of her own safety.
The lights were low and the candles flickering served to enhance the romantic mood. Patrons had fought for reservations for months in advance to earn the right to dine at The Blackstock, the hottest of the hot new restaurants. Every one who was anyone was seen there, including one of the city's district attorneys.
"Your soup." The waiter placed the bowls of tomato bisque in front of the diners and withdrew discreetly.
"I'm telling you, Brendan. This city is getting even stranger than its normal strangeness. I'm glad that we finally have a nice, relaxing evening."
A blonde man with a thin 'Boston Blackie' mustache approached the table. "Excuse me," he said. "You are Margot Yale, are you not?"
"Why, yes," she responded, surprised at the unexpected attention.
"I saw you on Nightwatch the other evening. I was impressed by your sentiments regarding the gargoyle menace." He reached into his pocket. "May I have your autograph?" he said, pulling out an ornate pen and notepad.
Margot smiled and gave a sideways glance at her husband, who opened his mouth in surprise and quickly shut it again. "And who do I make this out to?"
"Please, make it out to Jon..." The blonde man didn't get the rest out as the maitre' de yelled out from his podium. "Run for your lives!"
Everyone looked at each other for a moment. But only for a moment, as the wall exploded with a fury, revealing a gigantic robot grappling with several gargoyles.
"MARGOT! DUCK!!!" Brendan pulled Margot down behind the table as the Coyote backhanded one of the gargoyles into them. The robot drew a bead on the downed gargoyle. Another one, still gripping his back, began to dig into the metal of the robot, hoping to reach its head.
The screams of the injured patrons were drowned out by the roar of the gargoyles' battle cries.
Coyote forgot about Broadway as he attempted to reach around to the nuisance on it's back. Not being able to reach the offending gargoyle with its arms, it paused, then rammed itself backwards, knocking the rust-colored gargoyle into the wall, stunning it. Before he could finish turning the rust colored gargoyle into a rust colored stain, a furious Broadway broadsided the robot sending it flying through a plate glass window and into a heap on the sidewalk.
Taking advantage of its prone position, Goliath grabbed one of the nearby lampposts that had been sheared off by the conflict, and speared the robot to the ground. The electricity of the lamppost sparked through the robot. Brooklyn looked at the robot twitching. "I don't like the looks of this..."
The robot began to twitch and gyrate like a bug pinned in a giant's collection. "Systems failure. Unrecoverable," it said, its voice much more tinny than usual.
All three gargoyles dove for cover behind nearby cars as the robot erupted into a fireblossom. Its head rocketed from its body, arcing away from the explosion like a cannonball.
"Where's Hyena and Jackal?" Broadway wondered. The sounds of sirens in the background were getting closer and closer.
"No time!" Goliath commanded. "We've got to get out of here!" The gargoyles bounded out into the night, seeking the safety of the roof tops as the patrons of the restaurant began to gather around.
"My Beamer!" one exclaimed, picking up a chunk of rock. "You wrecked my Beamer!" His frustration unleashed as he threw the rock, hitting Broadway square between the wings. Other patrons, not quote as bold, hurled insults at the escaping gargoyles.
"I think that's our cue to book, Sis! This party's getting a little too wild!" Jackal yelled.
Hyena peered out from behind a Cadillac El Dorado and gestured at the gathering crowd. "What about them?"
"No one's looking for us, stupe! It's the gargoyles they're after." He gestured towards the Xanatos delivery truck. "This heap still drives! Let's move it!"
"Just a second!" She quickly snagged something out of the air and began to run. "Gotcha!" she cried triumphantly as she ran for the van.
The police, followed by the NYFD pumper trucks and the news crews finally appeared. Quickly setting up the camera and lights, the news team caught the gargoyles on tape before they could glide off into the night.
"GET THIS AREA CORDONED OFF NOW!!!" the lieutenant yelled into
the megaphone. "I WANT EVERY AVAILABLE UNIT HERE, PRONTO! MOVE IT,
PEOPLE! THIS IS NOT AN EASTER EGG HUNT!" He glanced up as the officers
started moving people back behind the perimeter. He signaled to the paramedics.
"Over here. We have injured civilians in the restaurant." He waved
to two nearby officers in riot gear. "Phelps! Santiago! Over
here! I want you two to escort the paramedics in." The pair adjusted
their helmets and fell in around the paramedics.
Nearby, Nicole St. John looked at her cameraman. "Do we have go for a live feed?" He listened to his headset. "We have go in five..., four..." He silently counted down the time before signaling to St. John to start.
"This is Nicole St. John bringing you a WVRN exclusive report. The mysterious 'gargoyles' have yet struck again, creating a scene of devastation and destruction in their path..."
"I'm telling you, Matt," Elisa was saying to her partner as they walked out to her car. "I feel like someone is trying to set up the guys."
"Detective Bluestone?" a voice called out from the nearby car. "Are you Detective Matt Bluestone?"
Both Bluestone and Maza checked to make sure their service revolvers were handy. With the weirdness, you never could be too careful. "Yes. May I help you?"
A tall, dusky-skinned man stepped out of a broken-down wreck of a car. "Jerry Pearson, sir. From the Sentinel. I wanted to congratulate you on your promotion to the head of the 'Gargoyle Task Force,' and to see if I could get a couple of words from you." A flash of excitement and a boyish grin shone on his dark-skinned face before a more professional look replaced it.
Both officers let their guard down. "A couple of words, eh?" Matt said. "How about 'No Comment'?"
"Sir," the persistant reporter continued, "there seems to be a lot of anti-gargoyle sentiment around the city. Everything from graffiti and signs to this 'Quarrymen' group. Yet no evidence appears to exist to implicate the gargoyles in any of the alleged crimes. Any comment on that?"
"Kid," Bluestone said as both he and Elisa climbed into her car, "if I find anything out, you'll be the second to know..."
The radio began to issue their call sign as soon as Elisa turned the Fairlane's key and flipped on the police scanner. "Delta 5, Delta 5 do you copy?"
"We're five feet from the precinct. What could possibly be so important?" Matt wondered as he grabbed the microphone.
"Delta 5, copy."
"GTF business, detective. Respond to the disturbance at The Blackstock. Broadway and West 87th. Riot Squad scrambled. Code Three."
"Roger that. Delta 5 responding." He hung the microphone up and made a grab for his seatbelt as Elisa careened around a corner and punched her siren in one smooth gesture. The expression on her face was unreadable. That meant one of two things. She was either really worried or really, really mad. Actually in this case he considered it was probably a combination of the two. "I thought you said..."
It was only then that Matt realized they had aquired a
passenger. Jerry Pearson peered up out of the back seat. "How did you get
there?" He tried to shush his partner but she missed the cue.
Her eyes never left the road as she jerked the Fairlane around a slow moving taxi. "He promised me. He said they'd be careful!" A look of comprehension stole over her face. She cursed under her breath as she appreciated the verbal trick. "He said they'd be careful, not that they'd stay in...."
"Easy Elisa! I'm sure your parents will be fine. Even without the shield, your father's still a cop." Matt grabbed for the dashboard as they ran a red light. "It won't do anybody a bit of good if we end up taking a detour to Manhattan General!"
A look of total non-comprehension crossed Elisa's face. "What are you talking about?" She finally spotted a perplexed Jerry Pearson in the rear view mirror. And realized how close she had come to giving away her secret. Cop's luck, Maza, she thought to herself. "Yeah, well... I told him that he should stay close to home. No point in him getting shot after he hung up his shield. Is there?" She swung around another corner. "And just what are you doing in the backseat of my car?"
"Saving the price of admission to Disneyworld... Watch out!" Elisa swerved neatly around a Subaru that failed to yield to her lights and siren. Jerry took a deep breath and started again. "I figured there was no better way to get a scoop than tag along." He pulled out his tape recorder. "So, Detective Bluestone. What is the main mission of the Gargoyle Task Force?"
Matt shot a look at Elisa. She shrugged her shoulders. They needed a friendly voice in the press and Pearson's had been the most honest reporting of the incidents she'd seen to date. "Answer a question first, Mr. Pearson," Elisa challenged. "What do you hope to get out of all of this?" If he answered "a Pulitzer," Elisa was going to dump him out of the car herself. With or without Matt's help.
Despite the swaying of the fast moving car, Pearson righted himself as fully as he could and answered. "The truth, Detective Maza. It may not be what the public wants, but it's what they need."
Her shoulders seemed to relax and Jerry took that as permission to continue the interview. "So how about it, Detective Bluestone?"
"We're here to calm the fears of the city, Mr Pearson." Matt launched into a speech that he had practiced in front of his bathroom mirror. It had sounded pretty weak at 10:00 a.m. It still sounded hokey to him twelve hours later, but it was the only one he had. "We're still learning about what and who they are, but from what we've been able to gather so far gargoyles are an incredibly old species that has learned to hide itself to escape human prejudice. We've also learned once they adopt a protectorate they are incredibly dedicated to preserving the peace and watching over the inhabitants, despite the risk to their own safety."
"It sounds like you've had experience with their peacekeeping efforts before," Pearson commented, keeping his voice neutral.
"This is off the record." Matt waited until he heard the click of the tape recorder. "The gargoyles have lent a hand to the police department in the past. They don't want credit and the department has yet to acknowledge their...cooperation."
"So what you're really saying, Detective, is that the brass doesn't know?"
Matt traded a glance with Elisa. "Yeah, something like that."
Pearson looked thoughtful for a moment. "And you'd like to keep it that way?"
"For the time being." Matt replied. Elisa kept silent, her eyes on the road as she dodged slower-moving traffic. He wondered what else she wanted him to reveal. Probably not much. "I think we'd probably leave it at that for now."
"Okay," Jerry replied. "But if you ever want to give an exclusive, you know who to call. And please, the name is Jerry."
"Okay, then." Matt paused and turned to look at their passenger. "I'm Matt and this is Elisa. And if you do a good job, you'll get that exclusive." Matt was saved from making further comment by the glow of the emergency lighting. "Slow down, we're almost there," he cautioned Elisa. She automatically decelerated. Strobes of red, blue and white cut through the night sky. "There's the command post. Drop me there. I'll meet up with you later."
Elisa shot him a quick look, momentarily dropping her facade of professionalism. He had an overwhelming urge to squeeze her hand to let her know it was going to be all right. But the watchful eyes of Jerry Pearson continued to record their actions. "Don't forget it's your night to buy breakfast. Though after putting up with your driving again, there'll be no promises on keeping it down."
"Yeah, yeah," she rallied gamely. "Wouldn't miss it for the world." Elisa slowed as she approached the phalanx of riot gear clad officers. Matt waved his Task Force I.D. and a senior sargent pointed him toward a cluster of uniformed and plain clothed men and women. Elisa parked the Fairlane as far away from the other squad cars as she could, abandoning Matt and Pearson to find her own answers.
"This is CN24, Cable News around the clock. We will have more of this exclusive coverage from New York station WVRN about the latest gargoyle attacks as it becomes available."
Dominique Destine stabbed the control on the nearby remote, muting the TV. She flung her brioche at the wall and fumed as marmalade stuck briefly to the wall, then slid slowly towards the lush carpeting. She fumed. If Goliath hadn't smashed the Praying Gargoyle, the clan wouldn't be having these problems now. She thought about just leaving Goliath to be hoist by his own petard, but a glance at the television screen changed her mind. She fumbled for the remote in numb horror as she stabbed the sound back to life. On screen was her precious Angela. Numbly, she sank back into her chair.
Lexington crawled an alley wall attempting to escape. Angela waited on a ledge holding out her hand to him. The mob surrounded them and the glare of the television camera lights threatend to blind them. She stretched her hand a bit further and as Lex reached to take hold, a large chunk of concrete caught him square on the shoulder. He lost his grip and fell toward the angry crowd of humans.
Angela dove, snatching the at the smaller gargoyle's belt with one hand and driving her talons in to the wall, twisting her shoulder painfully in the process. Her face contorted in agony as she heaved Lexington upward away fromcertain death. The pair quickly scaled the wall and glided away.
Demona reached a shaky hand towards the telephone. She tore her eyes away from the televison long enough to punch the Operator call button. "Oui, Mme. Destine?" a voice promptly purred.
"J'ai besoin d'un vol immediat a destination de New York Cite, tout desuite."
"Oui, Mme. Destine." She killed the connection and started to toss her essentials in a suitcase. "Goliath can kill himself and the others if he wishes," she said to the empty air, "but I will not let him kill my daughter."
"What a rush!" The nondescript van pulled into the darkened garage; it's two occupants hyped up on the excitement. "They'll be talking about that for weeks!" The pair slapped hands in a high-five.
"Which is precisely what we didn't want." The icy-cold voice cut through the psychotic siblings, chilling them to the bone. Jackal turned around, where he spied the gaunt, black garbed man standing backlit in the doorway.
"Dave!" Jackal exclaimed, "don't do that! You wanna give me a heart-attack?"
Hyena elbowed him in the ribs, whispering "Not gonna happen. Gotta have a heart first..." Both snickered like schoolchildren.
The thin man's eyes narrowed, becoming as sharp as razor blades -- as sharp as his voice. "I don't see the humor in the situation. You've drawn the gargoyles' attention, alerted the police that you're back in town, and made the network news! This was supposed to be a quiet operation."
Hyena slid next to him. "C'mon, Davey. If you wanted quiet, you wouldn't have hired us!"
There was a moment of silence as if he was deciding what to do with the siblings. He finally just said, "Quite. Now, do you have the merchandise?"
Jackal reached behind the driver's seat and pulled out a rack of CD's. Handing them over, he said "All of the information regarding the Coyote robot program, fresh off the griddle. And here's a bonus..." He tossed over something to Garlon. Catching it, he looked at it. "The Coyote prototype itself." He glanced at it again. "Well, a piece of it anyway."
Garlon's eyes seemed to sparkle and a tight-lipped grin spread across his face. "Excellent. You have done well. My employer is sure to be pleased." He turned towards the door. "Now, if you two would be so kind as to follow me, we'll complete the other half of our transaction."
Hyena was about to put her arm around him, but after a sharp look, thought better about it. "Davey, boy," she said, a slight shiver in her voice, "pay me enough money and I'll follow you anywhere...."
"Jalapena!" Elisa looked at the aftermath of the restaurant disaster and tried to reconstruct the events. It defied her imagination, and considering some of the things she'd seen that said a lot. The restaurant was a total loss. Glass both from a shattered plate glass window and several table tops littered the floor. Keeping it company were the remains of several very expensive meals and a large smear of what looked like drying blood. She walked over to the stain and stuck her finger in it. Tomato soup. She let out a shakey sigh of relief. Her nerves must really be on edge to make such a rookie error.
Victims of the incident were lined up against the back wall being attended to by the paramedics. She approached them carefully looking for a reliable witness. The unmistakabley nasal whine of the Assistant District Attorney assaulted Elisa from the far end of the room. "Just great," she muttered. "Why is it when ever it hits the fan that woman has to be at ground zero?"
Turning her back, she waved her badge at the first civilian
who looked capable of coherent speech and began to gather facts.
Jerry Pearson wondered if someone wasn't spiking the city's
water supply. He watched Detective Maza and the evidence technicians gather
evidence for a while and when they had taken their last photo and departed
he had slipped through the police 'crime scene' tape and began to note
the destruction around him. He had been standing close enough to the ambulances
to hear the chef, the last of the victims, as he was sedated and prepared
to be taken away for a night of hospital
observation. He had flamboyantly described to anyone who would listen how gargoyles had destroyed his beautiful restaurant while battling a giant robot. There didn't seem to be any evidence of a robot now, just a lot of metal fragments and.... He paused. Metal fragments?
He carefully looked both ways and knelt to the sidewalk, picking up a chunk of metal and examining it under the faded glow of the streetlight.
This wasn't car metal.
"Hey you! What do you think you're doing!" A burly cop appeared out of no where. "Authorized personnel only! This is a crime scene!"
Pearson carefully pocketed the fragment and raised his hands. "Jerry Pearson, from the Sentinel. I thought the investigative team was done so I..."
"You thought wrong. Move along or I'll run you in for tampering with evidence."
Jerry sized the cop up. He looked like he had an Excedrine headache and a low I.Q. Time to go. "What ever you say officer. Goodnight."
He tried to look innocent as he ducked under the tape and wandered toward the command post. It looked like Matt Bluestone was getting ready to make a statement. He nudged past a camera crew and stuck his own tape recorder out among the others.
Matt winced under the bright lights trying to get his eyes to adjust. He resisted an urge to pull out his sunglasses, and then remembered he didn't have any. Maybe he should start carrying them. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be brief. And since this is now part of an ongoing investigation, there will be no questions. At approximately 9:35 p.m. there was an incident at The Blackstock. Eyewitness reports state that some sort of prototype device was..." Matt searched for a properly neutral word. "engaged in a struggle with several gargoyles. The damage to the restaurant was fallout from alleged attempts by said gargoyles to subdue the prototype which had apparently gone out of control." He paused and wondered who in the Illuminati he'd have to curry favor with to get himself transfered off of this detail. "It is not known to whom the prototype device belonged or how it found its way to midtown Manhattan." Matt paused and took a deep breath. "That's it. Thank you and good night." He was off the podium before the reporters had a chance to digest what he had said.
Jerry stuck his tape recorder back in his pocket, reminding him of the fragment in his pocket. It was too thick to be from any of the exploding cars, and yet too new to be from any of the buildings around here. There was a mystery here. Maybe this metal piece was part of the answer. Maybe a quick trip to NYU's metallurgy department might be in order. He started to head for his car before remembering that it was still back at the precinct.
"In five, four, three..." he switched to hand signals... two fingers and then he pointed at her. The light on the camera turned green.
"Nicole St. John reporting live from the scene of the
latest gargoyle-related tragedy. We have just had a brief statement from
the head of the Gargoyle Task Force, Detective Matthew Bluestone." She
looked away from the camera toward the director, he shook his head and
pointed to his watch. "He says that due to the fact of the ongoing
investigation, no detailed information can be revealed at this time." She
allowed the corners of her mouth to turn down slightly to indicate her
skeptisism at the detective's statement. "But he did say that at approximately
9:35 p.m., another gargoyle attack occured at The Blackstock. The details
are sketchy but the police are indicating that some mechanical device of
unknown origin was somehow involved in the attack on the restaurant."
She glanced back at the director who was now slicing his hand across his
throat. "Now back to you, Travis."
"Thank you, Nicole, for that on-the-scene report." He turned away from his moniter and looked toward his audience. He glanced at his in studio director who looked like she was ready to have kittens. "That's all we have time for on tonight's edition of 'Nightwatch.' Our viewers are reminded that our schedule interview with noted European businessman, multimillionaire and recent New York resident Nicholas Maddox will be shown next week. For WVRN and Nightwatch, this has been Travis Marshall. Goodnight."
"And we're clear!" An assistant took Nichole's microphone and scurried away.
Back at the crime scene, Jerry Pearson looked at all of the hooplah with a chuckle. After his impromptu talk with Detective Bluestone, her broadcast rang hollow. "Laying it on a little thick for the rubes, aren't you, Nikki?"
Nicole St. John squinted until she made out the profile of her rival. "I'll get an Emmy before you do, Pearson."
"Of course you will, Nikki." Jerry replied good naturedly. "I'm a newspaper reporter. We don't _get_ Emmys." He looked around momentarily, then looked back at Nicole. "Now, if you excuse me, I've got to find a ride back to the police station. I was so busy doing my job that I forgot my car there."
"Jerry, Jerry, Jerry," she replied graciously. "All you have to do is ask. I'd be glad to give you a lift back to the police station. I happen to be headed near there anyway." She took his arm, leading him towards the news van. "Jerry, my dear, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
"Konichiwa! This is Vinnie." The young security guard leaned back in his chair, looking at the construction going on around him. Who knew that a banana cream pie would lead to such a well-paying job and an opportunity to travel? Sure, learning Japanese wasn't easy, but he had plenty of time to do it on this job. "No, sir," he said, returning attention to the call. "I haven't seen Mr. Takahashi since last night. He seems to want to do a lot of the work at night. I'll tell him you called, though."
As he hung up the phone, Vinnie turned to the other security guard. "Y'ever meet Mr. Burnett, Tachi? Kinda reminds me of that guy on Star Trek. Couldn't ya just see him with pointed ears?" Chuckling, he returned his attention to the security cameras, just missing the flight of gargoyles passing by.
The mirror grew foggy again, and then returned to its normal reflective status. "These are dire portents indeed," Titania murmured to herself. "Dire indeed." She looked at Ophelia. "Child, maybe you ought to go down and join your brethren in their weapons practice."
Ophelia looked back at her, quizzically. "But I need to finish the princess' hair, first."
Walking to the window, Titania seemed oblivious to the
Katharine laid her hand on Ophelia's shoulder. "'Tis all right, Ophelia. Go ahead."
Titania looked out at the practicing gargoyle clan. "I have not always been there for my daughter," she said, more to the air than to the princess. "There is trouble on the horizon and I do not know what to do about it."
Katharine joined her at the window. "Sometimes the best thing a parent can do is to let her children take care of themselves." She turned to look at the fay queen. "Sometimes, all we can do is pray that they have the strength to make it through."
"I fear," Titania said, her voice a low whisper, "that even that may not be enough."