Story Idea by Todd Jensen and Kathy Pogge

Written by Nicholas Marchese, Rahsaan Footman, and A Fan


Previously on Gargoyles...

Matt (to Elisa): They're called the Illuminati, and the way I hear it, they run everything. Even the President works for them.

-- "The Edge"


Mace Malone: What a majestic beast.... The Illuminati will be pleased, Mr. Bluestone.


Matt: Just tell me what I have to do.

Mace Malone: Bring us a gargoyle. (Revelations)


Matt (to Hacker): You? You've been one of them all along? Why, I ought to knock you flat!


Hacker: See you soon, Matthew!

Matt: Yes, you will! And that's a promise!

-- "Revelations"


The strongest appeal of Central Park is its serenity. In the midst of a city that is too big, too bright, too loud, there is a place of simple beauty, a place where there are trees and a chance to see some sky. A place where you can move without bumping into someone or stepping into the path of a honking car. Even at night, one can almost see the stars and take a deep breath without choking on steam or exhaust.

It is an appeal that drew the O'Hara couple as they strolled through Central Park this evening. The transplanted Washingtonians were not foolish. When they left Seattle, their friends had warned them about the muggers, thieves, and all the other traditional New York hazards. But they'd been here for six months, taken several trips through the park this time of night, and nothing bad had happened. Until now.

Staring at the barrel of the gun embedded in the side of his wife, Mr. O'Hara handed over his wallet and watch to a pasty-faced teen with a shaven head and smoky sunglasses. Mrs. O'Hara was so frightened, she dropped her purse. The mugger grinned evilly. It was so easy to be a mugger in New York nowadays, if you got there before one of your colleagues took advantage of your 'customers'.

There was a rush of air behind him. "I don't like guns," the voice behind him said as a greenish colored hand to knocked the gun into some bushes.

"Not this time," the youth said, quickly turning to the gargoyle, struggling out of his grip. "After you freaks got me busted I took a self-defense course. Gargoyles," the mugger snorted, "you ain't so tough."

The gargoyle's eyes flared up and he charged the punk who had just broken out of his grip and ran to the bushes in search of his gun.

He was trying to decide if muggers were getting tougher or just dumber. He must have seen this guy or someone who looked a lot like him half a dozen times. Before, they just ran for their lives, but now they wanted to put up a fight. Castaway received some of that blame. He placed a bounty on them: a million dollars, dead or alive, preferably dead. But this guy didn't seem interested in that.

"Die, you ugly green freak," he said, quickly moving out of the way of the charge, letting out a noise that would have made proud the Neanderthal ancestors that he emulated as he crawled around in the dirt in search of his shiny tool.

Another gargoyle, this one purple and female, landed in front of him. "That isn't very nice," she said, quickly grabbing him by the shirt. "I think you should apologize."

He squirmed defiantly in her grip, and would have kicked her had she not been holding him away from her, like a foul object. "Who's gonna make me? You, toots?"

Broadway got up, finally getting himself untangled from the bush that he had run into. "Remember this, punk," he said, jabbing his knuckle softly into the man's chest with each sentence. "Wherever there's a crime, we'll be there. Wherever criminals are hurting innocents, we'll be there. Whenever..."

"Broadway?" Angela said, gently nudging him and dropping the punk to the ground. The young criminal sank into unconsciousness.

"Oh, yeah."

Angela picked up the purse from where it lay in the dirt, made a slight attempt to brush the dirt off, and attempted to hand it to the couple, who had stood, stunned, at the periphery of the fight. Regaining control of their motor skills, they ran off into the night in blind terror, leaving Angela holding Mrs. O'Hara's purse.

She frowned. "If I kept track of how many humans did that..." she sighed.

"I know, Angela" Broadway said consolingly. They looked at each other a moment before the big blue gargoyle spoke again. "We'd better leave before the police come."


Martin Hacker sat uneasily in his chair, watching the tall gaunt man standing in front of the fireplace, throwing one pamphlet after another into the flames with a look of sour disgust upon his features.

He looked away from his superior to take in the furnishings of the study: the leather-bound books filling the shelves, the faded tapestries upon the oak-panel walls depicting medieval battles, hunts, and feasts, the thick carpeting on the floor, anything other than Mr. Duval.

"Absolute rot," said Duval, the disgust clearly audible in his voice. "The worst that I've seen in years."

Hacker turned his attention at once back to the head of the Illuminati Society. "What is, sir?" he asked.

"The things that Jon Castaway has been saying in these tracts," said Duval, pointing to the booklets now rapidly being consumed in the blaze on the hearth. "Have you read these?"

"No, sir," said Hacker.

"You haven't missed much," said Duval, walking over to his chair, and seating himself in it, facing the FBI member straight across the oaken desk. "The absurd tales that the man has been spinning in them! I knew that he was unbalanced when Mr. Cohn first brought him to my attention - after what happened to him in St. Damien's Cathedral, it was almost inevitable - but this goes beyond my worst expectations!"

He was silent for a moment, fidgeting with the ring that he always wore on the middle finger of his left hand, then continued, his voice a trifle calmer now.

"Anything that you could think of to turn the public against gargoyles, he's put in those pamphlets. Insinuations that they're aliens, the advance party of a belligerent extra-terrestrial civilization bent on planetary conquest. Or that they might be demons, who turn to stone in the daytime because sunlight always counteracts black magic. He's found ways to blame them for everything terrible that's taken place in Manhattan in the last two years. If the stock market were to crash tomorrow, he'd find a way to make them appear responsible."

"That does seem likely, Mr. Duval," agreed Hacker, nodding.

"Hacker, this cannot be permitted to continue," said Duval. "The man is endangering our targets. Remember, we need them alive, and if Mr. Castaway destroys the gargoyles, or spurs the public into destroying them, then we will never be able to make use of them. Dead gargoyles are of no value to us whatsoever."

"If I might take the liberty, sir, Mr. Xanatos managed to bring a dead gargoyle back to life," offered Hacker. "We could try the same thing."

Mr. Duval shook his head. "Mr. Xanatos had help then, help that he no longer has. And I would prefer not to make the same alliance that he did. There are too many risks in dealing with her. No, we have to bring the gargoyles into our grasp alive, and we must do so quickly, while we still can. They've survived the fury of the Quarrymen so far, but it can't last forever. Sooner or later, Castaway's hammer-wielding followers are going to destroy them, if they remain in Manhattan, and they are the only gargoyle clan that we know of. Possibly the only gargoyle clan left in the world. It's Goliath and his followers, or nothing."

Hacker nodded. "Whatever you think is best, sir," he said.

"We'll also have to deal with Castaway himself, in time," said Duval. "I think that he is becoming more a liability than an asset. He almost reminds me of Xanatos's former partner, such is his vengeful intensity. Worst of all, he may leak some information about the Society in his speeches and pamphlets - and I don't need to remind you that we would be in considerable trouble if that were to take place. The one thing that we cannot afford is public exposure. But that can wait. For now, our first priority is to find some means of securing the gargoyles, and securing them now."

"But how will we do that, sir?" asked Hacker.

"With some help from one of our newest members," replied Duval, with a slight smile. "One whom you know very well. And one in a position to easily assist us. Detective Matthew Bluestone, the head of the Gargoyle Task Force. I believe that it is high time that you had a meeting with him."


"May you live in interesting times," Matt Bluestone said, reading off the tiny slip of paper.

"That's a Chinese curse. What's it doing on a fortune cookie?" Renee Hernandez pointed her chopsticks at remains of the cookie.

"Who knows? Maybe they ran out of blessings? Doesn't seem like a good business move though." Bluestone shrugged as he tossed the broken cookie into his mouth, "Anyway back to work. What's the latest news?"

The five members of the Gargoyle Task Force shared take-out while they conducted their weekly meeting. This week it was Chinese.

"I took the statement of the latest victim attacked by the gargoyles." Steve Maguire reported, "Right before he called a lawyer to sue the city."

"Another one?" Jay Smith asked, "What's his beef?"

"He thinks the city is responsible for the park being unsafe to mug decent people." Maguire explained. "The DA can't even shut him up with a felony charge, because the couple's too scared to come forward."

"Yeah, that is a real surprise. Anything we can do to change that?" Bluestone finished a soda.

"Yeah, catch the gargoyles!" Maguire replied.

An uncomfortable silence passed between all the officers. Each was aware that since the Task Force was created months ago, they'd made no headway on the gargoyle problem. Actually catching a gargoyle seemed even less likely. In the meantime, they were the scapegoats for all gargoyle-related groups, from the Quarrymen to the press corps, even City Hall, the folks that put them together in the first place. Bluestone changed the subject.

"How are we on that warrant for Xanatos' building?" Matt asked.

"Without probable cause? Nowhere." Jay Smith sifted through the paper wrappings, finding the relevant folder.

"Hey!" Miko Tanaka sat up in his chair, "Xanatos served some time at Rikers. 'Receiving stolen property', I think. Harboring fugitives is enough of a felony for parole violation. We could get a warrant on that?"

Bluestone shook his head. "No, that was nearly two years ago. His probation ran out long ago. Anyway, he set up that Homeless Foundation not that long ago. With something like that under his belt, we need something darned good to justify a search."

"Besides, what fugitives?" Renee added. "We caught the ones responsible for the bombing. It's hard to be fugitives if someone else is convicted of the crime."

Tanaka sank back into his chair. He let out a breath, blowing the hair over his eyes out of the way.

"What about the Feds?" Maguire asked, "When are we going to get some help from them?"

"You know federal agencies," Smith answered, "They move slower than molasses going up hill in the winter time. No offense, Matt."

"None taken. No one finds the federal government more funny than the people who work for it." Bluestone smiled. "You have your pick. Fish & Wildlife wants to tag them, INS wants to deport them, and CDC wants to quarantine them. Half a dozen other agencies want to do one thing or another with the gargoyles, but none wants to risk political suicide getting involved. Catching the gargoyles is our problem."

"And that's not bloody likely is it?" Maguire complained.

"What's your problem, Steve?" Tanaka stared at him across the table of empty containers.

"I'm just tired of these things getting away with vigilantism." Maguire folded his arms across his chest. "Everyone makes heroes out of these punks, while we take our lumps and no one notices."

"If someone wants to mix it up with the bad guys, hey, they can knock themselves out." Miko returned.

"If they want to protect the city, then they can enroll in the Academy like the rest of us." Hernandez sided with Maguire. "We don't tolerate vigilantes for a reason. They put retribution above the safety of innocents. Lives are endangered by such action."

"Their lives are already endangered by the perps. Besides, you can't deny their effectiveness," Tanaka pointed out, "Crime has gone down since the gargoyles were first reported. And I haven't heard anyone dying in the episodes of 'night guarding'. And I'd like to see you send a gargoyle to the Police Academy."

"So what do you want to do? Pin a medal on them?" Maguire argued.

"Be friendly, maybe?"

"All right," Bluestone steered the argument back on track. "Right now, we're just looking to hold them for questioning?"

"Then why pussyfoot this thing? I know some pilots on air detail and Renee's got some friends in SWAT. If when plan this right, we can nail those gargoyles in a night, three nights at best. What do you say?"

"Sorry Maguire, but we have to do this clean."

"What do you mean clean? There's nothing dirty about it. We're just calling in a few favors and saving ourselves a few headaches."

"And if it goes wrong?" Matt asked pointedly. "Our butts will be served up to the City Council extra crispy. We do this with due process and above-board. Last thing I want is the press questioning us on a hidden agenda or some violation of civil rights. Is that understood?"

Matt talked to everyone, but his eyes were specifically on Steve Maguire. Steve harumphed, "Yeah, whatever." The others nodded and gave likewise gestures of agreement. That settled, Matt continued with the meeting.


Bluestone walked down the steps of the building, giving a little wave to the familiar face who sat on the side of the steps, drinking a cup of coffee. He would have raised his hand a letter higher above his waist, but he was dead tired. "Hi, Morgan."


"Why are you waiting around out here in the cold instead of going home to your family?" Bluestone pulled his trenchcoat a little tighter around him. Winter was coming.

"Just finishing up my coffee. The last time I tried that in the car, I hit a pothole and spilled hot coffee all over my pants. What about you?"

"On my way home to reacquaint myself with an old friend whom I've been neglecting lately. Mr. Bed."

"What about your partner? I usually run into her on her way out. Didn't see her tonight."

"Elisa left early. She had a date."

"She's been spending a lot of time with this new boyfriend of hers. I would have thought that after she got Xanatos arrested, she wouldn't want anything to do with him and his company. Yet now she's dating one of his top security men."

Matthew wondered exactly what Elisa had told Morgan and hoped he could pull off a conversation without arousing suspicion. "Luckily, they both work the night shift and they arranged it so that their nights off coincided."

"I saw her come into the precinct the other day with this odd little smile on her face. She must really like this guy."

"I think she does."

"Has she taken him home to meet Peter and Diane yet?"

"I think so. She said something about her family and his and their friends having dinner together last week. And they had Thanksgiving together."

"I have to be honest with you, I'm worried about her. As much as I've seen her happy about this relationship she's having, I've seen her come in here in all sorts of conditions."

"Morgan, you know how she is."

"Yeah. But I worry about her. I've been friends with the Mazas for a long time. I'd hate to ever have to tell Peter that something happened to her."

Matt yawned. "Sorry, Morgan, I'll have to talk to you later. I'm going to drop." He started down the stairs and was not more then ten steps out of the building before something stopped him.

"Matthew," a familiar voice said from behind him, "We need to talk."

"Can't this wait? If I don't get into my car and get home soon I'll probably fall asleep at the wheel."

Martin Hacker opened his trenchcoat and revealed the Illuminati pin that was pinned on his lapel.

All of the sarcastic comments that Bluestone had been formulating vanished. "You wanted to talk?" Bluestone prompted his former partner as Hacker gestured him into Bluestone's car.

"The Illuminati want the gargoyles and you're going to deliver them." Hacker spoke plainly.

"And I suppose I'll get the standard fee of thirty pieces of silver," Matt didn't disguise the sarcasm in his voice. "I didn't betray them before. What makes you think I'd do it now?"

"Because I'm asking you," he replied, somehow managing to look nothing more like a man who had done more dirty work for the Society then a man with a toothbrush who had been hired to clean an outlet mall.

"As a friend?" Bluestone shook his head. "You ruined that, keeping me in the dark for so long. As an Illuminatus? You know I want to expose the society, not become one of its toadies. So I'll ask again, what makes you think I'll sell out the gargoyles?"

"And I'll asked you again. Will you deliver the gargoyles?"

Matt wanted to think it over, but his heart spoke first. "No!" he said firmly. "I don't care if it costs me my spot in the Illuminati, or even my life. I don't betray my friends."

"All right," Hacker shrugged it off.

"That's it?" Bluestone looked mystified, "What's the catch?"

"No catch," Hacker brought up his hands, gesturing 'no tricks'. "I asked you for your help and you said 'no', fair enough. The Illuminati won't force one of its members to do something they don't want to do if the goal can be accomplished in some other way. We just go to Plan B."

"That's not where you dress in a grass skirt and dance the hula," Matt quipped.

"Very funny. No, we use live bait: Detective Maza."

"Kidnapping her?" Matt laughed, "Been there! Done that! Doesn't work! Next you'll be tying her to some railroad tracks."

"It's simple logic, Matt. Where she goes, the gargoyles are sure to follow."

"Leave her out of this," Bluestone's bravado covered concern for his partner. He didn't want Elisa to go through that hell again.

His brave front didn't phase Hacker. "We won't touch her if we don't need to. It's your choice." Hacker opened the door of the car.

"Wait a minute!" Bluestone stopped him. With a resigned sigh, Bluestone conceded. "What do you need?"

"Go home, get some rest, Bluestone. You're of no use if you are barely conscious."


"Time?" a commanding female voice shouted over the warehouse floor.

"Fifteen minutes," one of the personnel on the floor shouted up to the catwalk.

"Do it in seven," her voice brooked no complaints from the underlings. The blonde woman continued along the catwalk, inspecting the elaborate setup.

The 'personnel', commando teams of three each, moved about the darkened warehouse with night vision goggles and particle guns. The teams subdued mock-ups of the gargoyles. Their performance so far hadn't satisfied Mandy.

"Number One, report," Bruno met her at the ladder.

"Fifteen minutes," she reported with disgust in her voice, "It'd be easier if we did a dry run with live targets."

"It'd be a whole lot easier if the gargoyles just walked in and lied down to be captured, but that's not likely either. I want every man available, not laid up if a practice run goes too far."

"Commander!" another member of their mercenary team joined them, "I got it." He popped open his briefcase and held it up for inspection. Inside the foam lining were five green canisters labeled with some cryptic scientific description.

"Good work, Henry," Bruno took one of the canisters out of the case, "Have any trouble acquiring them?"

"Nah. You know how lax security was when we worked at Gen-U-Tech. If those mutates can escape, I can break in. Access couldn't be easier. This is the gas Sevarius developed for knocking out gargoyles. One whiff of this and they'll be helpless."

"When do we pick up the 'bait'?" Mandy asked.

"We're not." Bruno returned the canister to the case. He nodded for Henry to put the briefcase in a secure area. "Plan's been changed. The gargoyles are being diverted to this area. All we have to do is look like robbers."

"Disappointed?" She noticed her leader's interest in this policewoman.

It wasn't love and it wasn't hate. It was grudging respect. Bruno and several of his team had several run-ins with the cop and the gargoyles. Every time, the mercenaries came to regret the encounter. But Detective Maza took out most of their team the first time they crossed paths. That's something you don't forget.

"What's so special about this cop?" Mandy asked.

"She took you out, didn't she?"

Mandy showed no emotion, but beneath her sunglasses her eyes flashed. She could never live it down, pulled into a lake by a cop. While she relived that little blooper in her life, Bruno kept asking questions.

"Mandy?" Bruno brought her back. "Pay attention! Have the teams become familiar with the Hunter's gear?"

"Yes," she rushed to his side. "Steel mesh grenades, stun disks and flash boomerangs, all the non-lethal ordinance. I still think this is foolhardy. We've been up against these things, before. Why are we playing with kid gloves?"

"Because the 'employer' wants them alive," Bruno explained for the umpteenth time.

"Give me a tranq-gun and I'll drop all six in three minutes." Mandy followed Bruno down the ladder to the table where the weapons were laid out.

"There are eleven now and you had your chance with the big one, remember? That sedative should have laid him out in thirty seconds, but he kept on going. We don't know what will stun them and what will kill them. That's why we have redundancy. Speaking of which what about the exosuits?"

"Jordan and Daryl 'liberated' them this morning. Daryl's almost finished with the modifications. They might make proper replacements for Sean and Andrew yet."

"Good. If all goes to plan, in sixteen hours we'll be eleven million dollars richer." Bruno kept his eye on the prize, the bounty. "Keep me posted."


Steve Maguire searched the squad room for Bluestone. Instead he found Tanaka.

"Who are you looking for, Maguire?"

"Bluestone. You seen him?"

"What do you have planned to recommend for the gargoyles next? Declaring martial law?"

"I don't understand you pro-gargoyle cops. Law enforcement belongs to those with a badge. That is what the crooks are supposed to respect. I don't have to like you, Tanaka." He pointed to the badge. "That is what I have to like. As long as you wear that, you are a member of my family."

"Really? And what do you want to talk to daddy about?"

Maguire scowled. "What I said at the meeting yesterday. I want him to speak against vigilante justice, whether it is gargoyle or Quarrymen. Am I that bad, Tanaka? Just because I think that a bunch of gargoyles shouldn't be fighting crime. Hell, we don't even know what they are. Most of the statements call them monsters, the rest of them seem to figure them for guardian angels."

"Just accept they are doing something good and make the government tell us what to do with them."

Maguire shook his head. "Anybody here seen Bluestone?" he shouted.

One of the clerks pointed Maguire to one of the empty offices. Steve looked into an office through a slightly ajar door. Matt was sitting in a chair. He couldn't see who he was talking to. Turning around to leave, he heard a voice say, "We don't tolerate betrayal, once you commit yourself to something, there is no turning back. You may not have any family Matthew, but what about your Captain and her family? Your partner knows the risks she took on by being the gargoyle's friend. But Chavez is totally in the dark, isn't she?"

"You wouldn't..."

"Let's just hope that isn't necessary. Just have your friends patrol the waterfront around 3 am. We'll take it from there. And don't worry, everything is non-lethal. And don't tip them off." Maguire overheard a soothing, unfamiliar voice talk with Bluestone.

"You don't ask for much, just betray a friend's trust." Bluestone grumbled.

Maguire quickly hurried away from the door. Inside, Hacker paced the floor in front of Matt's chair. "You betrayed the gargoyles once before. Trust me, betrayal gets easier the more you do it."

"You can't hold them you know," Matt said confidently. "Better villains than you have set up better schemes than this. You're going to fail."

"You still don't get it," Hacker replied, "We aren't the bad guys, although sometimes it seems that way. We're trying to insure the gargoyles' safety."

"By ambushing them and keeping them prisoner? Somehow I doubt they'll feel safer around you guys."

"Think what you will of us," Hacker started to leave his office, "But we are your friends best allies."

"Then why don't you ask them what they want, instead of trapping them like animals?" Matt growled.

Hacker didn't answer that question. He instead left the office, leaving Bluestone alone. Matt put his hand to his forehead. He had to figure out how to get the gargoyles out of this.


"I'm sorry Detective, but I can't do that," the clerk at dispatch denied Maguire.

"This is important," Steve pleaded his case. For twenty minutes he had argued with dispatch to get an open channel. He needed to know if anything went down tonight.

"No authorization, no luck," the lady rebuffed him.

"There are problem?" Jay Smith joined his blue brethren at the Dispatch desk.

"No problem, Jay." The clerk smiled. "Just a guy who's a bit hard of hearing."

"All I need is tonight. Isn't the Gargoyles Task Force important enough to this department to get whatever it needs" Maguire sounded desperate.

"What's up, Steve? You look troubled?"

The clerk had just received a call, and was focusing on the caller rather than Maguire. Steve had to tell someone, but he didn't know who to trust.

"If I can help in any way?" Jay offered.

Steve took a deep breath. "I think the gargoyles are going to make a move tonight. And you know Bluestone. He never moves fast enough."

"How do you know they'll make a move tonight?" Jay asked.

"Call it a hunch. I wanted to get an open channel to dispatch so if anything goes down we can get there before the gargoyles bug out."

"All you have is a hunch?" Jay looked hard at Maguire. "Well, Steve, it's your lucky day. It just so happens I believe in hunches. Linda?" The clerk just got off the phone. She looked up. "Remember Calvin's retirement last month?"

"You're calling that in?" Linda fumed, but relented, "Fine. You'll get your open channel. I'll have the frequency on your desk in an hour. But after that we're even."

"Deal," Jay smiled.

"There you go. I hope your hunch pans out."

"Jay, can I talk to you for a second...alone?"

"Of course." The two stepped into a corner.

"I think someone is blackmailing Bluestone."

"What?" Smith looked surprised.

"I think that is why he won't let us do more then take statements instead of trying to capture the gargoyles."

"Can you prove it?"

"Not yet. Right now it doesn't quite hold up. Keep your eyes open, will you?"

"Sure. But why are you telling me this?"

"Because you never seem to leave either way on the gargoyles issue. You're the closest thing the task force has to neutral."


Bluestone sat parked across the street from a warehouse. He'd staked out the waterfront for three hours and seen only minimal movement. From his blind behind a dumpster, Bluestone spied about a dozen people coming and going from one warehouse, which had a newly installed sign on the outside, Farsight Electronics Corporation. It seemed unlikely that the gargoyles could be attracted to any of the nearby warehouses. People rarely steal fish guts. No one he recognized, mercenaries most likely. There were two loading bays, one wharfside and the other for trucks on the opposite end. Both had their rolling garage doors down.

And as much as the side door opened with all this traffic, Bluestone couldn't get a good look inside. He wanted to know what the Illuminati had planned. Maybe he could figure out a weakness. He didn't have time for that. He checked his watch, sunset was in a half-hour, and he had to make it to the Eyrie building and play his part as traitor.

Matt was so absorbed in his own dilemma, he never noticed Maguire in the car across another street, watching him through a pair of binoculars.

Matt's car pulled away from the curb and headed in one direction. Maguire prepared to follow him, checking his own time and cursing. His shift started in several minutes. He would have to hurry to get there on time. Bluestone would have to wait.


"Matt, lad. We haven't seen ye in a while," Hudson smiled.

Matt smiled nervously. "Well, running interference for you guys takes a lot of my night time. Tonight is sort of an emergency. I got an anonymous tip that a warehouse near the waterfront is going to be hit. I did a little checking and there is a high-tech electronics warehouse down there. From what I was told, it may be the Yakuza again, or some other group. As head of the Task Force, I can't get people down there and I can't convince Organized Crime to take a look at it."

"So you want us to do it?" Broadway asked.

"Yeah. You know what I always say, who better?"


"Quiet as a church on a Saturday night," Broadway commented.

"Still hitting the detective novels." Brooklyn smiled.

"A seedy waterfront, a bust going down, an expectation of danger? You tell me if it isn't a scene right out of Sam Spade or Dixon Hill." Broadway replied.

"Any signs of activity?" Goliath asked Lex as he landed on the roof.

"I've spotted some guys entering that electronics warehouse through the side entrance door. A truck's parked down the alley, could be how they plan to move the stuff."

Goliath processed all this. He had brought the whole clan, save Bronx and Nudnik, on this one. They waited for his command.

"Brooklyn, you, Sata and Hudson go in from above. Lexington, take the twins and watch that truck. If it's the getaway vehicle, make sure they have some engine trouble. Angela, Broadway and I will go in through the loading bay and act as diversion." The gargoyles followed their instruction and went their separate ways.

Broadway and Goliath's claws got under the loading bay doors, forcing the rolling metal slats upward. They joined Angela walking down the corridor made of boxes and crates. They moved cautiously through the quiet warehouse. That's what put them at unease, the quiet. There was no shouting, nor shooting, no sign of the thieves.

They reached an intersection. Broadway's tail had barely followed its owner into the T-junction when large crate fell down, blocking the way they'd come. Two bright lights came from opposite ends of the corridor quickly sped towards them. Two forklifts mounted with halogen floodlamps threatened to run them over. The gargoyles were temporarily blinded, but quickly recovered. Goliath jumped for one, while Angela and Broadway attacked the other. They made short work of them and discovered a surprise. The forklifts were unmanned. From under the seats of the forklifts, a green gas spewed forth.

They immediately saw as the trap it was. Goliath gestured for them to get out of there. They tried climbing the boxes and crates, but they fell to the ground, empty, at the slightest touch, revealing walls of steel beneath.

Angela tried the wall that formed the top of the T, but it was coated with something. She kept slipping down. The gas was up to their hips. Desperately, they dug their claws into the steel walls, but gaining each foothold was time consuming. The gas rose faster than they could climb. Within minutes, all three gargoyles were unconscious from the gas.


Sata and Hudson drew their swords. Brooklyn took his laser, setting it on a narrow beam, and shot through the doorknob. Silently, he opened the door. Sata took point with Brooklyn close behind her. Hudson brought up the rear. They descended the stairs into the warehouse.

"My tail's twitching," Sata whispered.

"What does that mean, lass?" Hudson whispered back.

"It means something's up." Brooklyn explained. He turned to his mate. "I know. I feel it, too."

The stairs opened into an empty section of the warehouse. Hudson felt uneasy at being in the open. But they had to cross the floor to find the thieves. They were halfway across the floor when Sata's ears picked up a humming. It grew quickly. Brooklyn tracked it to the lamps above them. The filaments grew red then white hot, but didn't produce light. Before, they could get out of there. Electricity crackled down from the converted lights, arcing into Sata's katana and Hudson's sword, electrifying both. Sata and Hudson both howled in agony as the electricity coursed through them on its way to ground. In a couple seconds, three more gargoyles were down.


Lexington, Graeme and Ariana had just closed the hood of the truck when they heard the screams. Lex looked up and saw the flashes coming from the warehouse's window. Ariana and Graeme looked frightened.

"Mother!" the twins cried.

"You, two, stay here!" Lex ordered as he sprinted on all fours for the warehouse door. He only got in a few strides before, the door opened and he felt a mosquito bite on his back. Lex's hand came back to slap it and he felt the tranquilizer dart. Immediately, he felt its effects, falling headlong into the ground.

"Uncle Lex!" the twins rushed to him.

Lexington wanted to warn them, tell them to get away, but his tongue had already swelled to fill his mouth. He couldn't get a sound past it. Then the world started spinning. Graeme and Ariana grew ten feet tall and the world dimmed around him.

The twins felt the prick of tranq-darts as well, but that wouldn't stop them. They continued toward the warehouse, to reach their parents. Finally, the sedative took full effect. Both came to a crashing halt two steps beyond Lexington.

Ropes fell down from either side of the alley. The commandos slide down them to inspect their prizes. Mandy flipped her blonde hair.

"Less than three minutes. We'll get a bonus for this," she said with satisfaction.


Commando Team B entered the arena where the three gargoyles lay. They raised the lights a bit to look at their trophies: an old brown male, a red male, and a green female.

"Team B reporting. We've got 'em." Henry spoke into his headset.

He nudged Brooklyn, when the gargoyle grabbed his foot, tipping him over. The red gargoyle came to his feet enraged. Eyes glowing and his white hair flying, Brooklyn made a frightening figure. The other two commandos fired an electrical discharge at Brooklyn. It was absorbed by Brooklyn's chestplate.

Brooklyn reached for his own particle rifle, when Henry backflipped into him. The red gargoyle stumbled back a bit. This gave Team B the second they needed to switch weapons. Jordan threw a grenade that exploded in mid-flight into a red steel-mesh.

The net wrapped itself around Brooklyn. The more he struggled, the tighter it became. Brooklyn was brought to his knees by the constricting net. Henry stepped up to the gargoyle as he donned a gas mask and opened a canister in front Brooklyn. The whole room was thick with green mist, before Brooklyn finally succumbed.

"Team B reporting. Now we've got 'em." Henry repeated through his gas mask.


Maguire waited in his car, listening to the myriad of broadcasts coming in. The only way to catch the gargoyles was to be where they were. That wasn't going to happen if they kept picking up after them, taking statements. And it definitely wasn't going to happen with Bluestone in charge. He listened into the voices of the dispatchers actually receiving the calls.

Robberies, homicides, disturbances ran together as so much noise to the point at which Maguire started mumbling summaries of the dispatches that were sent out over the police band to the appropriate precincts.

"Disturbance reported. Weapons discharged...Yadda, yadda, ya..." He stopped when the address was heard. The same place Bluestone had scoped out this afternoon.

He broke into the channel. "This is Maguire of the Gargoyles Task Force." While the Task Force was a constant source of joking from the department, the higher-ups took it very seriously. "I want a SWAT team and several helicopters on the scene of that warehouse disturbance ASAP."


"Teams? Report? Time?" Bruno ordered.

"Eight minutes," Henry responded.

"It'll take use five minutes to bring in the gargoyles out here." Mandy quickly followed. "They emptied the gas tank and removed several parts from..."

Bruno grunted disapprovingly. "Fine," he growled, "Henry, get your catch into the second truck. Then help Amanda bring in the others. Jordan, Daryl, use the exosuits to load up the big ones. Let's move, people!"


Bluestone watched the warehouse from the docks. He had parked his car inside an abandoned warehouse two blocks away. Matt waited and hoped. He looked to the rooftops to see the gargoyles make an escape. When he heard the screams and the flashes of electricity, his heart sank. Hacker was right. They were ready for them. Now, it was up to him. Matt approached the warehouse.

Matt came to a halt when he saw two of the Hunter-style exosuits deposit Goliath and Broadway into a truck, then returned to bring out Angela. Motion from the alley caught his eye as three more commandos dragged Lex, Ariana and Graeme. There was still hope that Brooklyn and the rest were fighting. That hope expired when he saw them carry Brooklyn and Sata.

Matt stood up from behind the trashcan. He didn't stand a chance against these commandos, but he wasn't going to let them get away with his friends without a fight. He was about to step out of the shadows when he heard a bullhorn.


Matt cursed. "What the heck is MAGUIRE doing here?" he muttered. He donned an antique WWI gas mask he had bought at some garage sale a few months back. It would double as a disguise and to keep him safe from whatever gas they had been using.

The commandos turned as one towards the noise from the dockside entrance. "Cops!" Bruno growled, "We don't need them mucking up everything. We'll hold them off. Mandy, get these 'sleeping beauties' out of here."

Jordan and Daryl marched slowly, but purposefully in their exosuits. The remaining commandos ranged themselves on the catwalks and by the loading bay doors. Bruno signaled to open fire. They'd distract the cops with a firefight in the front while Mandy made off from the back.

Maguire wasn't in a generous mood. He signaled for SWAT to gas them out. They tossed smoking grenades in through the windows. It didn't slow the commandos, as they donned the gas masks they had worn while subduing the gargoyles. They opened fire at the police, but they only carried non-lethal ordinance. The SWAT team was stunned and surprised by the flash boomerangs, but no one was hurt.

Mandy turned just before Bluestone rushed her. Bluestone stood over her.

"Police. I'm taking this truck into custody."

"Not if I have anything to say about it, flatfoot," Mandy swept her foot, knocking Bluestone down. She wasn't going to let another police officer stop her.

The battle between them lasted several minutes. Amanda and Matt were equally matched in fighting ability. Blows were blocked and kicks were countered. She gave Matt a kick upside his head. He staggered, barely avoiding her karate chop. He landed a punch in her midsection. With a kick, Matt knocked her out long enough to tie her up and take her keys.

He checked the back of the truck. The gargoyles were all present and accounted for.

Bluestone jammed the keys into the ignition. The truck rumbled to life. "HO!!!!!" Bluestone whooped as he furiously drove the truck out. The commandos looked behind them to see Mandy lying unconscious by the wayside. Their quarry was getting away.

Matt was just starting to feel they were in the clear when bullets rained down from above. It was the SWAT team. He was being shot at by his own men. "'May you live in interesting times'" Matt muttered to himself as he swerved to avoid the gunplay.

Two boomerangs flew ahead of him, bursting into great flashes of brilliance. The commandos were trying to stop him. It proved the detective's salvation. The flash blinded the snipers using night vision scopes. Matt kept the truck going straight until his eyesight returned. With the shooters off his back, Matt tore out of there like a dragon with its tail on fire.

All the commandos, save Daryl and Jordan, were on the rear loading bay when a concussive boom knocked them all to their feet. There was one thing neither the police nor the commandos figured on: the particularly volatile combination tear gas smoke and the residual green created when mixed together. A stray bullet struck the taser lamps above. The short-circuiting lamp set off the gas with a thunderous boom. The exosuit armor spared their operators the brunt of the damage. Likewise, Bruno and his people were saved by their distance from the explosion.

"Everyone get out of here! We'll meet up at the rendezvous point!" Using the explosion as cover, the commandos disappeared.

Steve Maguire tried unsuccessfully to bring this fiasco under control. "Rodney, call dispatch and get the fire department down here, pronto. And tell them to be on the lookout for that truck." He cursed under his breath. This looked bad for him.

Meanwhile, Matt pulled the truck into the warehouse alongside his car and put his old gas mask in his trunk. Opening the back, he gently shook Goliath, unsure of what happens when you wake up a gassed gargoyle.

A few seconds later, Goliath opened his eyes. "Bluestone?"


"Where are we?"

"An abandoned warehouse on the waterfront. Someone went to a lot of trouble to set up a trap for you guys. You're lucky that I was able to get in there and get you guys out before they did."

"We are lucky to have you as an ally...and a friend."

"It was nothing, really."

"No, it was. Without your assistance, who knows what might have become of us."

"Every single police officer in the state of New York is probably looking for this truck right now," Matt said, attempting to change the subject.

Goliath took one look at the truck, where his clan was slowly awakening. Everyone of course, thanked Matt, despite his attempts at 'modesty'.

The press arrived on the scene, as usual, before the fire department, the ambulances, and the additional police to replace the SWAT.

Nicole St. John climbed out of the back of the WVRN news van and attempted to look bright and energetic at four in the morning. "This is Nicole St. John reporting from Manhattan where a warehouse is up in flames. Earlier this morning around three AM, an apparent robbery was phoned in. We're here with Officer Anderson. Officer, can you tell us what happened here?"

"Well, Steve Maguire, he's from that Gargoyle Task Force, ordered SWAT here. We didn't know exactly what the warehouse had inside, but Maguire ordered us to throw tear gas into the warehouse. A few minutes later, the place went up in smoke."

"It appears that Officer Maguire's and the New York Police Department's rash actions have caused yet another situation to become out of control."

Anderson frowned. "Hey!"

St. John ignored him. "We will have more information on this story on the Evening News. We now return to the So Late It's Early Movie."


The Police Commissioner of the City of New York paced angrily in front of the seated Steven Maguire. On the other side of the room, Matthew Bluestone sat, watching.

"Mr. Maguire, what do you think you were doing out there? Neither the Mayor nor I appreciate being called out of bed at five in the morning. The lawyers never sleep; they live to sue the government. You are just lucky that the Farsight Corporation isn't asking the city to pay for the damages you've caused or else I would personally take it out of your hide. All they've asked for is your badge, which I would have taken away anyway. Before I fire you, Maguire, do you have anything to say in your defense?"

"I admit that I should have called the owners to find out if there was anything dangerous in that warehouse, but there was no time. I got a tip that the gargoyles were going to be in the area. I heard the report of a robbery at the warehouse and since wherever trouble is, they always are, I organized SWAT."

"If you believed that the gargoyles were present at that warehouse, then your duty was to alert the head of the Task Force, Detective Bluestone. Bluestone, did you receive any calls from Mr. Maguire?"

"No, sir, I did not."

"There wasn't time."

"That is no excuse, Maguire. First, there is your unauthorized cowboy action, which includes your destruction of private property with no justification, your mobilization of forces without going through proper channels, the fact that those forces were unnecessary, the list goes on. You are lucky that no one has pressed charges. Maguire, your badge and your gun. I'd tell you to turn it in downstairs like everyone else, but I don't trust you to take one more step as an officer. Detective Bluestone, do you have anything to add?"

"No, sir."

"In the future, no member of the Task Force will be allowed to mobilize SWAT or take other such extreme resources without your okay. That should prevent something like this from happening again. Honestly, if you thought we have headaches now... cripes, can you imagine if we ever caught a gargoyle? I sure as heck don't want that responsibility."

"Of course, sir. That is why I was picked."


Bluestone had decided to walk home from work, hoping the fresh air would take away the lingering smell of smoke and gas.

He vaguely became aware there was somebody deliberately in his way. "Need a lift?" Hacker asked-didn't-ask, gesturing to the limousine by the side of the road.

Bluestone briefly considered running.

Then he remembered three things. The first is that one does not escape the Illuminati if they want you badly enough. The second is that they don't even need him in person to make him suffer; his friends will do nicely. The third is that they can't do anything to him that he doesn't deserve.

He got in and came face to face with a tall, gray-haired man he'd never seen before, the Illuminati pin prominently placed on the man's lapel, rather then in a place of concealment.

Hacker climbed in next to Mr. Unfamiliar and shut the door. The driver pulled away from the curb.

Bluestone decided to go for one last quip. "Do I get a choice of poison?" he remarked to the man.

"I was wondering why you were looking so resigned," the man chuckled. "Don't worry. Disciplinary action is the furthest thing from our mind. And as much as Mr. Hacker here may suggest it, such extreme disciplinary actions are avoided as much as possible. The Illuminati's purpose is to control, not to kill anyone who gets in our way."

"That doesn't mean we don't do it. So don't get too comfortable," Hacker added.

Matt gaped, which only caused the man to laugh harder. Then almost delicately, he reached a hand out and cupped Matt's jaw.

"Yes, but we have much more benevolent ways of removing obstacles. Hmm...," he said thoughtfully. "Looks like you could use some dental work. Fortunately, you'll have access to our dental plan now that you've been promoted a grade."

"What?" Matt said intelligently.

The man leaned back into the cushy seat. "We have realized that, in asking to you betray your friends, have made an impossible request. We admire your tenacity. Not many people have the fortitude to defy the Illuminati."

Realization finally dawned on Matt that he wasn't about to die. "So, you're not mad?"

"Mad?" The man said as if the word were in an unknown language. "Why should we be mad? You showed extreme courage in extricating yourself from a prickly situation. We're quite pleased, if you must know. We were also quite disturbed in regards to your experience with the Quarrymen several weeks ago. They have gotten dangerously out of control."

"How did you know...?"

Hacker smirked. "You should know by now that nothing of significance escapes the attention of the Illuminati, Matthew. We know when you're sleeping, we know when you're awake."

"Oh, great. Now you're singing Christmas songs"

The car stopped. "I believe this is where you get off. Pleasure meeting you, Mr. Bluestone."

By this time the old Matt was back in form. "Does this mean I'll get better cable reception?"

The man chuckled. "Sleep tight, Mr. Bluestone. We may have another task for you to perform in the near future."

Hacker contained himself until he saw Matt enter his apartment building. Then, he turned to the figure, who was busily lighting up an ornate pipe.

"So," he said, "that's it, then."

The man nodded wordlessly and puffed on his pipe.

"Bluestone manages to one-up the boys upstairs and gets away with it, even gets promoted. Way I hear it, this was a major mission he just helped botch."

The man looked at Hacker with a very easy grin. "Well...that depends."

Hacker had seen that kind of grin before. He felt his stomach sink into his shoes but had too much momentum going to hold back his, "on?"

The grin got broader. "On what you think the mission objectives really were."