Things Fall Apart, Part Two


Idea by Kathy Pogge

Written by Rashaan Footman, Todd Jensen, and Kathy Pogge


Previously on Gargoyles...


"If that's your decision," said Mr. Benson with a sigh, "then so be it." He hung up.


A low rumble shook the business district. At first it went unnoticed over the roar of the traffic and the hustle of the city. The rumble grew to a roar. Twenty-seven floors of office building began to vibrate. Support beams stressed to their limits and began to give way under the stress as the foundation beneath them cracked. The basement floors were the first to go and one by one, the first the second, the third. The Consolidated Financial Building collapsed like a house of cards, then erupted into flames.



Over the Hudson River a smaller ball of fire erupted ...and a gargoyle tumbled from the sky.


"Nooooo!" Talon screamed.


- "Things Fall Apart, Part One" -




"This is Nicole St John, reporting from the scene of another bombing. Once again the terrorist group that calls itself 'Phoenix Rising' has taken credit for the destruction. As you can see, the building behind me is a total loss. We've also learned that officials had dispatched a bomb squad from the 23rd precinct shortly before the blast. There is no word, however, on what their location was at the time of the explosion. We'll keep you posted on this developing story. Back to you..."

"It's all the gargoyles' fault!" someone shouted from behind St. John. "They planted the bomb! They're 'Phoenix Rising'!"


The camera cut abruptly from the newsroom back to Wall Street and St. John, who quickly ad-libbed. "We seem to have here a potential eyewitness to events. Can you tell us what you know, sir?"


The man appeared to be in his late twenties, with stringy, unkempt blond hair and rumpled clothes. "I saw one of those freaks!" he shouted into the microphone. "One of them was flying out over the river, and then, BOOOM! At the same time, I hear the building go up. The gargoyles planted the bomb, I tell you! It was them all along!"

"Oh?" asked someone from the back. "And why would they have created 'Phoenix Rising' in that case, mister? It wouldn't make that much sense to be turning us against them."

"I don't know!" said the man in frustration. "Maybe it's to trick us into thinking that they're being persecuted and get the sympathy vote! Those creatures are evil, I tell you! If we don't get rid of them now, there's gonna be nothing left of Manhattan but a pile of smoldering rubble!"

St. John managed to take the microphone back from the "eyewitness", and turned to face the camera. "Could the gargoyles be responsible for the bombing? Only time and forensics will tell."


"NOOOOO!" Talon screamed in anguish as the bomb exploded over the Hudson. He threw himself to the ground, partially to escape the concussion, but mostly because his legs would carry him no further. "Hollywood, no! Ah jeez, no!"

He looked up at last and scanned the river, but there was no sign of the brave, but foolish clone. A police helicopter roared into view, its searchlight playing over the water. Talon melted into the shadows as the beam played in his direction. He waited long enough for the search crew to play their lights over the river once more, and then he dragged himself back to the Labyrinth.


The paramedics were grim as they bore the last of the gurneys to the medical examiner. They met the senior medical officer's hopeful gaze with a slight head shake and an enforced air of professional detachment.

"They're gone, all of them," the M.E. said at last, as he ran a hand over his face.

"At least they didn't suffer, sir," said his assistant.

"That is no consolation," said the medical officer sternly. "Dead is dead."

He held back his tears until the last body bag was zipped up, then turned to his assistant. "I need some time to myself," he said, and walked away, looking for a reasonably quiet spot near the rubble, to think things over.

"One way or another," the assistant heard him mumble, "this is the last time."


"This is the last time," said the voice from Duval's shadowed armchair.

"Sir?" asked Giles, standing beside his employer, watching the television news report on the Wall Street bombing and its casualties.

"Good men died tonight, Giles," said Duval, his voice audibly shaken. "This cost is too high. No goal is worth such a price."

He was silent for a moment, then continued. "Get Mr. Clifford on the phone. Tell him that the services of 'Phoenix Rising' are no longer required."

"And if he asks why?" the manservant inquired.

"Tell him that the city's probably gotten the message," Duval replied. "And that if the Mayor and the City Council still remain stubborn, then there's no way to sway them and we will need to take a different route."

"And the Xanatos investigation, sir?" Giles asked.

"Allow it to run its course. But the bombing has to stop. It's gone far enough. Possibly too far."

"As you wish, sir," said Giles as he left the study.

Mr. Duval picked up the remote and switched off the set. Then he rose from his armchair and walked over to the window, to gaze over the grounds of Bliant Manor. "Would it be simpler," he mused, "if I were only 'kindly Mr. Benson'? If I let someone else head the Illuminati or disbanded it entirely?" He lay his head against the glass, the cool night air soothing his aching head. "If I only had the courage to find out."


Elisa tugged at her unfamiliar uniform shirt and straightened her necktie as she handed Matt his uniform cap.

"Man," Matt complained, "it seems so strange to be back in 'blues' again."

"I hear you partner." She tugged at the necktie again and nodded to another pair of detectives in uniform as they headed up the stairs to the Desk Sargent.

He grimly passed over a pair of black arm bands and a roll of black electrical tape as Matt and Elisa signed in for their shift.

Matt's face tightened as he pulled two strips from the roll, handing one of them to Elisa before placing the other diagonally across his badge.

Elisa slipped the armband over her shirt, then accepted the piece of tape. "I can't believe this is happening."

"None of us can," the Sargent sympathized. "Watch yourselves tonight. We don't need to add any more names to the memorial wall." He turned away and Matt and Elisa move off to allow another officer to sign in for her shift.

"Maza!" Elisa looked up as Captain Chavez called from across the bustling room. "Step into my office," she ordered. There was a sharp edge to her voice.

"I'll go pull our ride around," said Matt as he pulled a set of keys from one of the numbered pegs on the wall. Elisa sighed and headed quickly across the room.

Chavez stood by the door as Elisa entered the office, then stepped in behind her and shut it tightly. Elisa unconsciously found herself taking an at-attention stance as Chavez circled around and sat down at her desk, but whether that was because of the unfamiliar uniform or the Captain's quiet demeanor, Elisa was unsure.

Chavez was silent for several moments before she spoke, which only increased Elisa's unease. "Elisa, It was Derek who told us about the bomb right before it went off," Captain Chavez finally said quietly.

"Derek!" Elisa said, feigning surprise.

"Can't you tell me where he is? What he's been doing?"

"No, Captain," Elisa said sadly, the emotion genuine this time. "I can't."

Chavez looked at Elisa for a few more moments before speaking again. "Very well. That's all, Detective. You're dismissed."

Elisa slipped out the door quietly and gave an inaudible sigh of relief as it closed behind her.


Elisa threw the looter against the hood of the dilapidated squad car. "You have the right to remain silent, if you wave that right, ..."

Matt stood with his gun drawn as Elisa "Mirandized" their latest arrest. "The Desk Sarge was right. It is ugly out here tonight."

"No doubt," she replied as the transport car showed up. "Another looter," Elisa greeted their backup. "You can have him with my thanks."

Morgan grinned wearily. "You'd think this was L.A. the way people are acting." His radio squawked and he stepped away briefly to listen to the chatter. He nodded at his partner as he slammed the door on the suspect. "No rest for the wicked. We've got to go. Take care, detectives."


"If I didn't know better, Elisa," said Matt, trying to shift to a more comfortable position in the unfamiliar car, "I'd say that somebody doesn't like you."

"What do you mean, Matt? Riot duty in the worst part of the district? I can't imagine whatever gave you that impression." She laughed bitterly. "You're right. This is rookie's work. We should be on the case."

"'Should' be is right," Matt agreed, staring at the side mirror. "The Bureau has us all frozen out. So much for friends in high places. I can't even get briefed as head of the Gargoyle Task Force. Their official statement was that it's 'need to know' and I don't."

"And what's their real reason?" asked Elisa, making a left when the light turned green.

"They're not even hinting at that one. Like I said it's Juno in December.

Elisa glanced at the rear view mirror, and frowned. "We're being tailed," she said grimly.

Matt nodded, keeping his eyes on the side mirror. "Who do you suppose it is? Internal Affairs or the Feds?"

"My hunch is that it's the FBI," said Elisa. "Well, if they want to play, then let's do it."

She revved the engine. It sputtered and the entire car shook. "Not a word," said Elisa to Matt. She smacked the dash with the flat of her hand and the car roared to life with a belch of smoke.


"I was too late," Talon explained grimly to Goliath and the others as they gathered in the living room. Maggie wrapped a blanket around his shoulders and forced him gently onto the couch. The television was muted but scenes of the explosion at Wall Street played every few minutes, as did footage from demonstrations and riots throughout the city.

Angela wrapped an arm around the weeping Delilah as Broadway held a cup of tea to her lips. She sipped slowly, then pushed the cup away. "Hollywood did a brave thing," Delilah said, her voice muffled by her tears.

"Yeah, he did," Broadway agreed.

"I should have done more!" Talon berated himself.

"You did not know that Hollywood would act." Goliath attempted to console.

Talon looked up as if he suddenly remembered something. "Where's Sharon? She was behind me when I ran after Hollywood."

"I have not seen her," Sata said. The others shook their heads, a new worry blossoming.

A muffled thump came from the corridor and then Sharon's voice, clear and firm, though clearly tired. "Could somebody help me with him, please?"

The gargoyles and mutates rose as one and ran for the corridor.

Sharon came into view. She was half carrying, half dragging something large and heavy looking.

"Hollywood!" Maggie exclaimed.

"Is he?" Talon asked quietly unable to complete the question.

"He lives," Sharon replied. "But he is badly injured."

"Where?" Talon managed at last.

Broadway and Brooklyn relieved Sharon of her burden and carried Hollywood to the infirmary, Delilah and Maggie close behind.

"By the docks," Sharon replied as Claw handed her a blanket. She smiled at him then began to rub at her fur. "I lost you in the tunnels as we chased Hollywood. You must have taken the opposite fork of the juncture route. I ended up at the river. I heard the explosion then I saw Hollywood tumble out of the sky and into the river. He got caught in the current so I followed him from the river's edge." She shook her head. "It's a little foggy, at this point. I must have dove in after him. But I do not remember doing so. I pulled him to shore and carried him here."

Maggie and Brooklyn re-emerged from the infirmary.

"He's resting now," Maggie said with a sigh. "If he can hold on long enough, the sun will heal him."

"Sunrise is five hours away," said Goliath. "Is there anything else that we can do?"

"I've called Dr. Goldblum. He's on his way," Maggie replied. "Claw, I could use your help." She gathered up the silent mutate and returned to the infirmary.

"'Phoenix Rising' is to blame for this," said Talon, his eyes glowing in anger. "And they will pay!" He clenched his fist.

"I share your feelings," said Goliath to him. "But we must act carefully. A counter attack might only convince the public that we really are monsters, and fuel the fire. We cannot afford that."

"Yeah," agreed Brooklyn. "Besides, we don't want to risk scaring them off. Otherwise, we'll never know where they are."

Talon nodded, but his face remained grim. He turned to Sharon. "Get everybody in the Sanctuary together. It's time we gathered some information on 'Phoenix Rising'."

He turned to Goliath. "You'd better sit one out."

Goliath looked pained. "I do not like the idea of hiding from our enemies," he said.

"He's got a point there, lad," said Hudson. "We canna go outside while the city's in this sort of mood."

"Very well," said Goliath, with a sigh. He took his position up outside the infirmary, waiting to learn what the outcome would be for Hollywood.


"You certainly have a strange idea of 'fun', partner," said Matt, though not so loud that Elisa could hear him.

It had not been an easy night for him. First, Elisa radioed headquarters that they had received a hot tip on 'Phoenix Rising'. They had gotten out of any more riot duty, but she had then proceeded to stalk her "so called informant" from one doughnut dive to the next, until the back seat of the squad car was filled with dozens of crullers and jelly-filleds. Then they had headed for the dock district where they proceeded to interview transients about a series of unsolved warehouse robberies, passing out pastry as bribes.

"Shut up, Matt," Elisa growled. "If you're bored just imagine how our tail feels." She glanced over her shoulder. "Now come on. I want to talk to Old Martha. Grab the box in the back will you?"

"Not Crazy Martha the Cat Lady?!" Matt pulled a box of canned tuna out of the back seat. "Elisa!"

She ignored him, greeted the old woman cheerily, and proceeded to talk about the finer points of cat behavior for an hour before the plain blue car that had shadowed them all night drove away.

"Elisa it's five o'clock. Don't you think we can give this a rest?"

"Yeah, sure," she said her voice flat.

They climbed into the squad car. The engine clicked but wouldn't turn over. Elisa cranked the starter again and again.

"Elisa?" Matt attempted. She kept cranking the engine. "Elisa!" he finally shouted at her as he pulled the keys out of her hand.

She slammed her fist against the steering wheel, her pent-up frustration boiling over at last.

"It's Xanatos," cried Elisa furiously. "Always Xanatos! That man can ruin my life even from a jail cell!"

"Elisa," said Matt in a gentler voice. "You know that's not true."

"Oh?" she replied, glaring at him. "He might be sitting in jail, but I'm the one paying. I can't move without being watched. I'm cut off from the clan. I can't be with Goliath. And I'm stuck in this lousy squad car in uniform when I should be doing real police work!"

"I'm not saying that Xanatos is a saint, Elisa, but he's not personally responsible for everything that goes wrong in your life."

"I know," said Elisa, with a sigh. "I guess I'm a little frustrated."

"A little?" Matt said incredulously.

"Those people, whoever they are, know I'm involved somehow. I can't act. I'm completely cut off and I can't do a thing about it."

"But I'm not," said Matt. "Elisa, give me a day to see what I can find out."


"I've still got a friend at the Bureau," he replied. "And he owes me a favor."

"Just as long as he isn't a UFO nut," said Elisa, with a weak smile.

"Hey, everyone's gotta have a hobby," said Matt, taking out his cellular phone to call for a tow truck.


Giles entered Mr. Duval's study. "Mr. Clifford is on the phone, sir. He wishes to speak to you."

"Didn't you tell him that I wasn't accepting telephone calls?" asked Duval, looking up from the book that he was reading.

"I did, sir. Repeatedly. But he insists on speaking to you anyway."

Duval sighed and picked up the phone by his chair. "This is Duval," he said.

"This is Robert Clifford," said the voice at the other end. "I'm sorry to trouble you this late, sir, but we really need to talk."

"About what?" asked Duval.

"Your insistence that 'Phoenix Rising' disband," Clifford replied. "I'm sorry, sir, but that's just not an option that I can accept."

"Clifford, we have no choice," said Duval. "The explosion that your people set off at Wall Street killed an entire bomb squad."

"An unfortunate incident, I know," said Clifford. "But a small price to pay for ridding the city of those monsters."

"Clifford, it has to stop now," said Duval. "I want your organization disbanded by tomorrow morning."

"But we're winning, sir," Clifford protested. "Public opinion is turning against the monsters, thanks to the explosions and to that 'eyewitness' that you planted in the crowd. A good touch, by the way. Not the most honorable means, I know, but sometimes we have to take such measures in the war against the instruments of darkness."

"Your war is endangering the city," said Duval. "And becoming a potential disruption of... other business. It is not in anyone's best interests to have one of the world's leading cities plunged into chaos."

"And it is not in humanity's best interests to be preyed upon by winged demons," Clifford replied. "You must understand, sir. This is a duty. I must stop this plague, before it destroys or corrupts all Manhattan. I don't like these human deaths myself, but they're the lesser of the two evils. We have to clear the world of the gargoyles, for the sake of our lives... maybe even our souls. And I cannot compromise or abandon this mission, not even for you.

"It's just not worth it, Clifford," Duval protested. "Not even the noblest of causes can justify such means."

"Odd sentiments coming from you," replied Clifford sharply. "You were the one who advised us to take on the bombing strategy, and even supplied us with the materials."

"Irrelevant. I'm cutting your funding as of now." Duval proclaimed.

"It hardly matters," said Clifford. "You're not my only backer anyway. There are others who are willing to help with the cause. Not the allies that I would have chosen, perhaps, but I can't afford to be too particular. Not considering what's at stake here. Good evening, Mr. Duval."

Duval sighed, and turned back to Giles. "I want an immediate investigation of 'Phoenix Rising'," he said to his aide. "Clifford has other financial backers, and I want to know who they are."

"Right away, sir," said Giles, leaving the study.


Fox paced back and forth in her husband's office, grinding her teeth and clenching her fists in frustration. The large television screen was switched on to the news.

"This is Nicole St. John, reporting live from the 23rd Precinct. As increasing evidence continues to surface connecting billionaire industrialist David Xanatos to the terrorist organization known as 'Phoenix Rising', public opinion turns steadily against New York's most notorious CEO."

Fox glowered at the reporter on the screen, and wished fervently that she could muster up enough of her halfling powers to transform the reporter into a rat. Then she shook her head. "That would be an insult to the rats," she muttered. "Owen, this is not looking good," she said to the ever-efficient major-domo, standing by her side.

"I agree, ma'am," said Owen, looking thoughtfully at the image of the protesters. "They can't even spell 'gargoyles' correctly."

"This is no time to be acting like your alter ego," said Fox sharply, switching off the set. "Owen, this is serious! We have to prove David's innocence!"

"My apologies, ma'am," said Owen, nodding. "However, we do have some good news on that front. Our independent audit discovered that the computer core had indeed been tampered with, and the entries relating to 'Phoenix Rising' planted. Our lawyers intend to submit it as evidence tomorrow."

"That won't do much good," said Fox, with a sigh. "It'll help dismiss the charges, but it won't clear his name. Only exposing 'Phoenix Rising' will do that."

"Yes, ma'am."

"But how?" said Fox. "There's nothing that anybody can do. I can't even leave the building with out someone watching me. We need a new strategy"

She flung herself down into a chair and stared out the window. "I'm just a princess trapped in my tower and Prince Charming's in a holding cell," Fox fumed.

"Then maybe you need a little help from your fairy godmother," a familiar voice added silkily.

Fox whirled around in her chair, facing her mother, Anastasia Reynard.

Owen placed himself in a defensive position between his mistress and his queen.

Anastasia raised her hand. "It's all right, Owen. I haven't come to fight. I've come to help."

"Yeah, right," Fox crossed her arms across her chest.

"I told you I'd be looking in, and I don't like the turn events have taken." Anastasia looked wounded at her daughter's distrust.

"Do tell," Fox pressed.

"You are quite correct in your belief that dropping the charges isn't enough. David and the gargoyles must be exonerated in the eyes of the people.

"Since when did you care about the lives of us 'mortals'?" Fox sneered.

"I know you won't believe it if I said I'm doing this out of the goodness of my heart. So I'll put it to you this way. All of you might be called upon to do some things in the future. Things you can't do, if David's in jail and the clan is hounded by Phoenix Rising."

"So you're just helping us because you might need us as pawns in another one of your chess games, mother?" asked Fox sharply.

"If my suspicions are correct, this is more than a game," replied Anastasia calmly. "Fox, do you want my help or not?"

Fox was silent for a long while. Owen raised an eyebrow at the former Mrs. Reynard. Anastasia's eyes crinkled in response. In the space of a few seconds and a couple of meaningful glances a whole conversation passed between the two fay.

"What do you need to do?" Fox asked.

"Me? Nothing. You on the other hand will need to learn a little magic," Anastasia explained.

"Oh dear," said Owen paling visibly as he recalled Fox's last venture into magic. "Do you think that's wise?"

Both Anastasia and Fox shot Owen a hard look, silencing further protests.

"Why?" Fox asked breaking the silence.

"To vanish from the face of the earth." Anastasia smiled.


"Well, Giles?" Duval asked his aide. "What have you learned?"

The aid-de-camp handed Duval a manila folder. Duval shuffled through the papers, his brow furrowing as he skimmed the reports.

Giles summarized the file. "Mr. Clifford wasn't being boastful about his other backers. His bank accounts record large amounts of cash being deposited from various corporations."


"Crime, Inc.," Giles explained. "Even the Yakuza made a donation. Apparently they're taking advantage of the anti-gargoyle hysteria to get rid of a potential menace. The crime bosses don't want to go the way of Tomas Brod or Tony Dracon. I'm sorry to say, he's well funded without our help."

"The Illuminati's strength has never resided fully in money." Duval dismissed the unsettling news. "Lean on the bosses. Let them know their silent partner will be displeased if they continue to support Phoenix Rising. The Yakuza should follow suit if they see the other crime families pulling out."

"Very good, sir."

"I do not like the way that things are going," said Duval. "Giles, what have you found about Robert Clifford? Why is he defying my orders?"

"It seems that we struck a chord in Mr. Clifford. He actually believes that gargoyles are literal demons. He believes he has a moral obligation to destroy them."

"Another Castaway," said Duval, with a groan.

"Worse than Castaway, I fear. He's not doing this out of personal hatred. He's doing this because he thinks that it's the only way to save the world. He's on a crusade."

"How did he slip through?" said Duval, shaking his head. "I am going to need to have a few words with the agents that we assigned to investigate the man before contacting him. Arrange it."

"Is there anything else, sir?" Giles asked.

Duval shook his head. "That will be all, Giles," he said. "You may go."

After his aide had left the study, Duval shook his head. He stared for a long time at a small oil painting of a spider web. The fine silk sparkled in a perpetual morning dew. "Truly it is a tangle web I have woven," he muttered as he contemplated the painting.


"You're still being stubborn," Anastasia rebuked her daughter, "Magic won't work if you don't believe in it."

Fox stared at the ceiling in frustration. "Next, you'll want me to clap my hands if I believe in fairies," she growled at Anastasia as she worked a stress induced kink out of her neck.

"You'd be surprised what wonders that can work," Anastasia replied smartly.

Fox clapped her hands. "Well?" she snapped at the fay who watched with quiet amusement.

Anastasia's eyes twinkled. "Bippidee-boppidee-boo." With a snap of her fingers and a shower of pixie dust, Fox was transformed.

She stared at herself in disbelief. A moment before she had been wearing blue jeans and a white Oxford shirt. Now she was dressed for the ball. The full white gown shimmered with sequins. Her arms were encased in elbow length gloves. "Glass slippers, mother? Don't you think you're going overboard?"

Anastasia merely smiled as she adjusted her watch to midnight. At the twelfth beep, Fox's outfit reverted back to shirt and jeans. Anastasia placed a hand on her daughter's shoulder. "Fox, my dear child, magic is more than just nonsensical words. It's your heritage. Denying it is like denying you have a foot or red hair."

Fox's face softened at her mother's words.

"Let's try this again," Anastasia smiled. "Close your eyes. Clear your mind of everything except for the love you have for your husband and son."

Fox did as she was told. She emptied her mind of all thoughts, save the image of David holding Alex in his arms. Fox felt a tingle spread through her limbs. A light cool breeze blew between her fingers, carrying wispy strands of her hair.

Anastasia saw she was centered. She slid quietly to her daughter's ear, "Speak the words from your heart."

"By the hearts of men both strong and meek/ Give me the power to be what they seek." Fox opened her eyes. Her mother wore an approving smile.

"I did it!" She tried not to sound too excited and failed. Anastasia nodded. Fox rushed to the window to see her reflection in the plain glass. She saw her same fiery red hair and athletic features. She whirled on her mother, "I look the same!" she protested, confused.

"Of course, you're expecting to see yourself," Anastasia explained, "but you go down to the offices, no one will notice you as Mrs. Xanatos. They'll mistake you for Mary, or Sue or even Bob, depending on the person. Oh."

Fox could feel it. The spell faded out. She looked to her mother, but Owen stepped in to explain.

"Using magic is like tensing a muscle. If you haven't used that muscle before it can't hold up for more than a short while. The more you practice the stronger it gets."

"What happens if this fails when I need it the most?" Fox asked.

"You'll just have to use it sparingly," Anastasia answered, "But you can do it and it will get easier to call it up every time."

Anastasia came forward and hugged her daughter. "I'm so proud of you. Give my love to David and Alexander." She vanished in a shower of rainbow lights.


Matt Bluestone waited impatiently by the hot dog cart at the bottom of the precinct staircase. He took a bite out of his frankfurter and grimaced when he realized he'd forgotten his usual toppings. His target descended the steps as he remedied the situation with a generous squirt of brown mustard.

"Hacker," he said to the FBI agent. "I heard you were in town. You're ignoring me," he added his voice full of mock pain. "No early morning taxi rides, no mysterious phone calls..."

Hacker ignored him at first, ordering a hot dog with everything from the vendor, and a bag of peanuts for later. Then he turned to face Matt. "Sorry I haven't stopped by lately, Matthew. You know how it is; the investigation and all."

"No I don't," said Matt sharply. "We've been kicked off it, in case you've forgotten."

"Sorry, but that's Standard Operating Procedures," said Hacker with a shrug. "No offence, Matthew, but the feeling at the Bureau is that the NYPD just doesn't have what it takes to mount this sort of investigation. You wouldn't want 'Phoenix Rising' to escape because of something that you missed, now, would you?"

"Oh, I don't miss much," said Matt sharply. He tugged on his lapel, briefly showing his Illuminati pin.

"You know that the upper-echelon members don't approve of wearing the Society's badge in public," said Hacker in a low voice, carefully leading the red-haired detective away from the hot dog cart. "Keep this up, and you might be earning yourself a dishonorable discharge."

"Actually, it's probably a good thing that I'm not part of the investigation," said Matt, ignoring Hacker's warning. "I've had a lot of time to think it over. One little question keeps bugging me. Just what is the Illuminati's stake in this whole affair?"

"And what makes you think that the Illuminati have anything to do with this?" asked Hacker patiently.

"Well, that tape for one thing," said Matt. "The one that was addressed to my partner's friends. Afraid that you'd be giving the game away if you were the one who delivered it, Hacker?"

Hacker said nothing, but simply munched silently on his hot dog. When it was clear enough that he would make no reply, Matt continued.

"Yeah, that tape was suspicious enough, Hacker," he said. "The way that it invited Goliath and the rest of the gargoyles to Long Island. Reminded me a lot of that Hotel Cabal scheme with Mace Malone. And what about David Xanatos? Mace told me that Mr. X is a member of the club. Now, I know that Xanatos is too clever to get directly involved with terrorists, and he's not sloppy. And yet, there's that tape. The Society's fingerprints are all over this thing, if you know to look for them."

Hacker finished his lunch waiting for Matt to finish presenting his case.

"So here's what I think. The Illuminati want to get their hands on the gargoyles, and they want to frame Xanatos for 'Phoenix Rising'. You want to tell me why and how, Hacker?"

Hacker stopped sipping his soda, and looked straight at him. "Why do I need to tell you, Matthew? You seem to be answering your own questions nicely enough without any help from me."

"All right, I'll come straight out and say it," said Matt. "Why are the Illuminati backing 'Phoenix Rising'?"

"You know the rules, Matthew," said Hacker, wiping the crumbs from the hot dog bun off his gloves. "'Need to know'. You don't."

Matt glowered at him. "As I recall from my Latin 'Illuminati' means 'the Enlightened Ones'. So if I'm an Illuminatus, why am I being kept in the dark?"

"Don't be like that, Matthew. It's all for the best."

"The best?" replied Matt sharply. "For whom? Certainly not for the Xanatos's."

"And since when have you worried about what happens to them?"

Matt stared at him grimly.

Hacker relented at last. "Maybe you'll benefit by watching the examples of others, Matthew. This is just a disciplinary action. Xanatos is simply being reminded of the obligations that he holds to the Society."

"All those good people died as a lesson?!" Matt said aghast. His face paled in anger. "Eight good officers died in that explosion on Wall Street. Was that all part of your plan?"

"It was... unfortunate," said Hacker, after a moment's pause, with a bit of a shrug. "But you needn't worry. 'Phoenix Rising' is being disciplined for it as well. In a couple of days, it'll be a thing of the past, and things can get back to normal."

"You still let them die," said Matt, glaring at him.

"Let me make one thing perfectly clear, Matthew," said Hacker in an equally sharp tone of voice, his original demeanor of pleasantness now gone. "I did not let anything happen. Nobody in New York was even supposed to know about those bombs, especially the NYPD. Why do you think the Bureau took over the case and kicked everyone else off?"

"How's the view from that fence you're sitting on?" Matt asked him in return. "How long do you think that you can be both a member of the FBI and an Illuminatus? Because I can tell you right now, they're on different sides right now."

"I can stay on that fence just as long as you can," replied Hacker. "Or have you forgotten, Matthew? On whose behalf are you speaking, anyway? Yours? Elisa's? The gargoyles'? Before you go around asking me where my loyalties lie, you just might want to take a good long look in the mirror."

And with that, he turned away and walked down the sidewalk. Suddenly, he halted in his steps, and turned his head around to face Matt. "Oh, and if you've got any pull with the gargoyles, you might want to suggest that they accept Mr. Benson's offer. It's the best choice for them, and the best choice for this city."

And with that, he was gone, leaving Matt standing on the sidewalk alone.


Fox took a deep breath as the elevator reached the ground floor of the Eyrie Building. She had cast the "spell of inconspicuousness" upon herself on the way down, just as her mother had taught her. "Now to see if it actually works," she muttered as the doors opened, admitting her to the lobby.

She stepped out of the elevator, and walked among the crowd of Xanatos Enterprises employees leaving the building at the end of the day. Not one of them seemed to notice her. Even the security guards glanced briefly at her, then went back to their work. Fox smiled.

She walked past two federal agents in formal suits standing next to the revolving doors. Neither one seemed to notice her. In a moment, she was out of the building, standing on the sidewalk. "Free at last." She twirled and stretched in sheer delight.

"Taxi! Hey Taxi!" Fox yelled some minutes later as another hack passed her by. "There's a downside to this thing." She walked up to a well-dressed gentleman who had successfully flagged down a cab. "You're such a darling," she purred as she stepped around him into the car. "Driver take me to the 23rd Precinct Station!" He nodded and pulled away from the curb.


Elisa arrived at the police station just before rush hour. She headed for the locker room to change into her uniform, but was stopped by Captain Chavez.

"You won't need those blues tonight, detective. I want you and Bluestone to corroborate the statements of the firemen and the security guards from the courthouse bombing."

"All right, Captain." She tried mightily to keep the relief from her voice and almost succeeded.

"Also, that reporter from The Sentinel is hanging around your desk. Get rid of him."

"Yes, Captain." Elisa stowed her uniform then went to track down Jerry Pearson. She found him attempting to interview an FBI agent. He concluded his interview as soon as she made eye contact.

"Detective Maza," he greeted warmly.

"Hi Jerry. Any luck with the Fed?"

"I've seen more talkative clams," he complained. "You know they haven't had a single press briefing since the explosion? Information keeps showing up at T.V. stations and in our press room, but there's no way to corroborate it. It's like someone's baiting us," he added with disgust.

"I hear you, Jerry. They're doing it to us too. Freezing us out of the investigation. Letting us run errands, to make us feel useful."

"Is that on the record?"

"Unnamed source, but yeah." Elisa took the reporter's arm and steered him out of the squad room. "That's all I can tell you, except that the Captain doesn't want to see your face right now." She paused. "Jerry, maybe you can do something for me. I've read some of your editorials. I think we need one now. A 'voice of reason' type thing. Something to counteract the nightly news."

"I appreciate your optimism. But one picture is worth..."

"I know, I know, A thousand words. So find a picture, Jerry. Show the city its face." Elisa's voice cracked under the strain of the last few days. "See if you can make the people see themselves in the mirror."

"I'll try, Elisa. I'll try."

* * * * *

Applause rang in the busy squad room. Elisa turned around to see a petite blond teenaged girl dressed for a rave standing behind her. "What are you doing here?" she asked, startled.

"That was beautiful." Fox said, ignoring Elisa's question. She looked around. "Is there anywhere we can talk, privately?"

"Do I know you?" the detective asked, perplexed.

"Detective Maza, it's me, Fox Xanatos!" the teenager said urgently. "Please, I'm not sure how long I can keep this up." Elisa hustled her quickly into an empty supply room. "How'd you get passed everybody? Why are you here?" Elisa asked once they were alone.

"Mother stopped by for a visit. She taught me a new trick. You can notice me because I spoke to you, but to anybody else, I'm just one more person in the background." She stumbled a little and Elisa automatically reached out a hand to steady her. "The problem is I don't have a lot of control over the spell. It's kind of like running a marathon and juggling at the same time."

She dropped the spell and Elisa blinked as the teenager turned into a woman. "So why are you here?" Elisa asked her, getting down to business.

"I'm going to find 'Phoenix Rising'. Find them and expose them. But I need help." She smiled at the detective hopefully. "I don't suppose you have any leads?"

"Actually..." She froze as the door to the supply room opened and grabbed for a tablet of paper, "Let's see, I need arrest reports..." she pulled a stack of forms at random.

"Arrest reports are on the top shelf. Those are stolen property logs."

"Matt!" Elisa cried as she spun to greet her partner. "Uh, what brings you here?"

"Hello Mrs. X." he waved to Fox. "I needed a new pen... Mrs. X!" He skipped a beat. "Elisa what's going on?"

"It's a long story," said Fox.

Matt stared at Fox for a moment before continuing. "It's just as well you're here. I ran into, uh, my friend today. I think I rubbed his fur the wrong way."

"Did you find out anything?" Elisa asked him.

"Plenty," he replied. "But we'd better get out of here first. Her too," he said as he pointed to Fox.


A few minutes later, the three of them were in Elisa's car, driving past the thick crowds still practically camping on the station house's doorstep. Elisa checked her rear-view mirror, and smiled in relief. "Looks like we've lost our tail," she said.

"After what you put them through last night, who can blame them?" said Matt with a grin. He leaned back to address Fox. "Fox, check below the seat, you should find my hat. That red hair and tattoo's a bit flashy."

"The spell broke? Blast!" Fox searched for the baseball cap. "I didn't feel it slip that time."

"Huh?" Matt said, confused. "Oh right." He said putting things together at last.

"It takes a lot of effort to keep it going," Fox tucked her hair in the cap, pulling out a ponytail and tugging the brim well over her face.

"You thought a blonde aerobic instructor would be less noticeable?" Matt asked.

"What are you talking about, she was a party girl," Elisa argued.

"It's the spell," Fox explained, "You see what you want to see. Something easily dismissed.

"So, what did 'your friend' say?" Elisa asked trying to keep the conversation on track.

"Well" said Matt, gathering his thoughts. "The Illuminati are definitely involved in it. They framed Xanatos."

"What?!" Elisa cried.

"I knew it," said Fox. "But how do you know about the Illuminati?"

"Don't get him started." Elisa cautioned.

Matt gave her a dirty look before answering. "He said it was a lesson... a disciplinary action, to remind Mr. X. of his obligations."

"That makes sense. I think David's been ignoring them lately. Since our marriage, The Society hasn't seemed to interest my husband anymore." Fox said thoughtfully, recalling events of the past months.

"My contact said that 'Phoenix Rising' was partly set up to teach Xanatos a lesson," Matt explained. "And partly so that the Illuminati could get their hands on the gargoyles."

"I might have known," said Elisa in disgust. "It seems that nearly everybody in the world either wants to control Goliath and his clan, or destroy them. I suppose it was only a matter of time before the Illuminati decided to join in. So I suppose that Lionel Benson's one of them."

"Lionel, who?" Fox asked perplexed.

"I'll explain later," said Elisa.

"You know, there's something familiar about that Benson guy," said Matt, frowning thoughtfully. "Almost as if I've seen him somewhere before. I just can't place him."


"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Nightwatch. I'm your host, Travis Marshall. Tonight, we're continuing our coverage of the latest 'gargoyle crisis' that is rocking New York, thanks to the emergence of 'Phoenix Rising'. With me in the studio is Alderman John Holmes." He turned to the moustached man in a smart-looking business suit, seated to his right. "Mr. Holmes," Marshall began. "I understand that you've been adamant in your demands about deporting the gargoyles ever since their revelation to the general public?"

"Absolutely," said the alderman. "Why should this city be in chaos over a handful of illegal aliens? Deport them out of the country. End of problem."

"Countering this statement is Nicholas Maddox, CEO of Maddox Technologies, speaking to us from his home." Marshall, gestured to the screen on his left. "Thank you for joining us Mr. Maddox."

"Yes!" cried Lexington eagerly, jumping up in his excitement. When the others stared at him, he shrugged and said, "Hey, he's on our side. Isn't that reason enough to be rooting for him?"

Lexington's clanmates and the others gathered around the Labyrinth's television set looked at him oddly then returned their attention to the screen.

Maddox opened his mouth to rebut Holmes statement, but was cut off by Travis Marshall.

"Sorry to interrupt," he said, "but we've just received a report that rioting has broken out in the 23rd precinct, and we're covering it now, live. Over to you, Nicole."

Goliath leaped to his feet in alarm, even as the scene on the television set changed to a scene of turmoil in the city streets. "This is Nicole St. John," said the blonde reporter, standing carefully at some distance from the fighting now taking place on the screen. "I'm reporting live from Central Park just one scene of many being played out all over the city. What began as a peaceful rally against 'Phoenix Rising' turned ugly tonight, as demonstrators lost their tempers. Blows were exchanged and the violence escalated. There are reports that gunshots have been fired. Earlier today..." The footage switched to a similar scene. "It was supporters of the controversial group that ignited during a demonstration in front of City Hall..."

"I've heard enough!" bellowed Goliath, his eyes blazing white. He turned and charged towards the entrance to the Labyrinth, but Brooklyn and Sata managed to hold him back.

"Goliath, wait for a minute!" said Brooklyn desperately to his leader. "Let's hear what she's got to say first."

Goliath sighed, and reluctantly turned around to face the television set. Nicole St. John continued with her report.

"Police have been quick to respond, riot squads have been dispatched throughout the city to hot spots. Arrests have been numerous. No number has yet to be officially released, but estimates have it at least two hundred and fifty and climbing. The NYPD has asked us to urge everybody to stay indoors. Repeating our story, rioting has broken out throughout New York City."

"We must leave, now," said Goliath. "Follow me!"

"No! Don't go out there, Goliath!" Fox stood in the doorway.

"Why not?" asked Goliath sharply, a low growl at the back of his throat.

"Elisa sent me," she began, using the one name that could momentarily calm the enraged Goliath.

"I'm listening," said Goliath, looking at her warily.

"Elisa wants you to stay here," said Fox. "She believes that if you are seen that the rioting will get worse." Goliath didn't look convinced. "She needs to know that you're all out of harm's way so that she can do her job."

"I am not over fond of hiding," said Goliath.

"Look at it as a different way of protecting the city," said Fox. "If you stay here people may start to cool down after a while. But if you do get seen, it would be like pouring gasoline on a fire. The best thing that you can do for this city is to stay in the Labyrinth... at least, for now."

"Very well," said Goliath reluctantly.

"I've got information on 'Phoenix Rising'. Let me bring you up to date." She took Goliath's arm ignoring the looks of surprise. "Is there someplace we can talk?"

Goliath nodded. He escorted Fox to the kitchen while the others drifted off to other pursuits.


Mr. Duval watched the evening news from his study, a troubled look on his face. A map of the city was now being displayed on the television screen, showing how the fighting had radiated from the 23rd precinct police station. Flash points were appearing in Central Park, and outside the Eyrie Building. The camera switched to a compilation of videotape chronicling the violence.

Duval groaned, shaking his head, as the violence continued to rage across Manhattan. People ran through Central Park, throwing bottles, rocks, or anything else that they could find at the police. Protesters snatched up sledgehammers, and set to work smashing any statue that they could find, amid cries of "Kill the monsters!" Others stood around them, cheering them eagerly. Some charged at a brownstone townhouse, demolishing it and the statues on its cornices, as the owner stood by helplessly.

"'The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned'," quoted Duval to himself. "'The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.'" He stared at rioters, who had attacked a startled jogger, forcing him to flee for his life.

Duval switched the set off, and buried his face in his hands.


The destruction playing out on the television was an irresistible magnet. One by one, the clans gathered before the set drawn by the cries of disbelief of their clanmates.

Maddened citizens pounded statues along Central Park West, reducing them to rubble.

"Shut it off, lad," Hudson told Broadway. "I don't think we need to see anymore."

Broadway turned off the television. He put his arm around Angela.

"Maybe we should leave," said Angela. "We'd be safer on Avalon," she offered.

"New York is our home," protested Brooklyn. "We can't abandon it."

"What choice do we have?" asked Angela. "They don't want us here, and we're only risking our lives by staying. Besides, maybe Mr. Holmes was right. Maybe the city would be better off without us."

"You can't say that, Angela!" said Broadway. "Think of all the good things we've done. The people we've helped."

"And think of all the damage that the Quarrymen and now these people did to the city, trying to destroy us," said Angela gloomily. "It's us that they hate, not the other humans. If we'd never come here in the first place... These riots are all our fault."

"They smashed us as we slept at Wyvern." Lexington reminded the others. "They'd do it again in a heartbeat a thousand years later. Some progress."

"I have considered all of this," said Goliath, joining them. Fox was at his side. "And it is true that we are all in danger here. But that is precisely why we cannot leave."

"If you ask me, that's exactly why we've got to leave," said Lexington sourly.

"There are some things more important than survival," Goliath countered. "Our duty is to protect our home, and protect it we must, even if it costs us our lives. We must chose to stay here in Manhattan and serve as its guardians, not because it is easy, but because it is right."

"Besides, I don't think that we'd be solving anything by running away," said Brooklyn. Sata gave him an uncomfortable glance and the children eyed him as well.

"Dad," Ariana mouthed.

Brooklyn ignored her. "Macbeth said once that Demona took her clan and broke their alliance after she overheard his father-in-law suggest that his enemies would retreat if he got rid of the gargoyles. It didn't help. The English still sacked Castle Moray."

The other gargoyles were silent, listening. At last they nodded.

"We'll stay, then," said Angela. "But I just can't help wondering, father, whether... "

A street urchin entered the room just then, and whispered something in Talon's ear. The Mutate listened with interest, his eyes brightening. He patted the boy on the head, and walked over to the gargoyles.

"Good news," he said to them. "Justin's discovered 'Phoenix Rising's' headquarters."

"Where?" asked Goliath.

"Down by the docks near the garment district," said Elisa's brother. "They're holed up in an abandoned sweatshop."

"We must leave at once," said Goliath.

"Out into that mob?" asked Lexington. "You've got to be kidding."

"We have no choice," said Goliath. "Now that we know where those terrorists are hiding, we must seek them out and turn them over to human justice. It is our duty as protectors."

"No, Goliath. Please do this my way!" Fox argued.

"I cannot let you go alone." Goliath protested.

"I'll escort the lady." Talon stepped in smoothly. "If she'll allow me?"

"I need a guide. Thanks." Fox gave the mutate a look of appreciation. "And I suppose it couldn't hurt to have someone at my back."

Talon turned to Maggie, Claw, and Sharon. "Keep a close eye on things here," he told them. "And let Elisa know what's going on." Then he turned and extended an arm. "After you." Fox took a deep breath and disappeared into the tunnel, Talon close at her heels.

Goliath watched them leave frustration evident upon his features.

Brooklyn took him aside. "Sometimes you have to let others fight your battles, Goliath."

"Knowing what is best does not always make what must be done any easier," he brooded.

"Believe me," Brooklyn confided. "I know. Trust me, I know."


They halted at a ladder that led to the surface. Fox put her foot on the first rung and began to climb. Talon stopped her. "Take this," he said handing her his miniature microphone. "I'll wait for your call."

"Thanks." She climbed up the ladder until she was directly below the sewer grate. "By the hearts of men both strong and meek/Give me the power to be what they seek." She emerged from the sewers.

On one side of her were docks and wharves jutting out into the river. Behind her stood a long warehouse with burnt-out windows near the roof. Fox approached the front door, then paused. There was motion in the alley. Moving cautiously, she saw four men waiting by a side door.

One of them knocked on it. "Come on, open up!" he called. "It's cold out here!"

Fox waited until the door closed. She entered the alley and approached the door. She knocked on the door. "Come on it's cold out here!" The door flung open, the door keeper tensed, then relaxed.

"Oh, it's you, Don," the sentry waved her in, "I thought you couldn't make it."

"With all that's going on out there, where else would I be?" Fox answered smoothly.

"Too right," he jerked his head toward the interior of the warehouse, "Clifford's up in his office. Something's ready to go down."

"Can't wait." Fox slipped past the guard and made directly for the stairs leading to the second level. Fox noticed right away the differences between Phoenix Rising and it's predecessor, the Quarrymen. Phoenix Rising was plain clothes. Not a hood or hammer in the place. The walls were lined with rifles and shotguns, even some particle weaponry. Phoenix Rising seemed like a working man's hate group. Fox passed what was once the lunchroom. Mostly men, but some woman lounged around the tables, watching the TV. None spared a glance in Fox's direction so she moved on.

She slipped into a restroom to give herself a few minutes breathing space. She dropped the spell and smiled wryly as she concentrated on happy thoughts as her mother and Owen had instructed her. Feeling much stronger, she recast the spell and ventured back out into the corridor. She took a deep breath. 'Phoenix Rising' was on the move.

She passed effortlessly through the building, a few people paused to give her a casual wave. Most ignored her entirely. She climbed up the stairs to the floor above, and made her way to what had once been the manager's office. The door was open, and she peered in.

A dozen television sets, many of them portables perched on folding tables, stood ranged about the room, continuing to report on the riots taking place. Two men were watching them, one a neatly-dressed man in his late twenties, seated in a swivel chair, the other a thirtyish man in more casual attire. The seated man was taking notes.

She overheard a voice talking on the phone. "Then we're all set? Excellent. Wait for my call before you detonate." The caller hung up the phone curtly. He turned in his swivel chair, staring directly at Fox.

"Hello Janine, what a pleasant surprise." The man smiled.

Fox held her breath. Did her spell fail? No, only David and her parents knew her given name. She was about to comment when someone came bursting in. A young man in his late teens with a black T-shirt and jeans. His face was flush from running.

"Man, this is it! This is it! It's all going down Mr. Clifford!"

"Calm down, Chris." Clifford poured the boy a glass of water. "Tell me."

"The Police are locking down the city," Chris reported. "They got our man at the Park and the sharpshooter at the Eyrie Building. They're picking us off, one by one."

"Not before we reach our goal," Clifford reassured his follower, "We'll stop the gargoyles, by taking out their support."

"But the police have the Eyrie building locked down tight. No way we can hit the castle."

Inwardly, Fox gave a sigh of relief. She kept her eyes and ears open. Quietly, she moved closer to catch every word.

"You're a good man, but you do not see the greater picture," Clifford admonished Chris, "We need to take out their support in the government, the mewling cowards of City Hall."

Chris suddenly smiled with dawning realization. "You got a bomb into City Hall!" His eyes widened in excitement. "When are you going to blow it?"

"Soon, very soon. " Clifford patted Chris on the shoulder. "We'll finally get City Hall moving in our direction."

"In a million pieces," Fox said under her breath.

Clifford escorted Chris out of the office nodding absently in agreement at the excited teenager's enthusiasm. He gently propelled the boy out into the corridor and closed the door. He looked up sharply at the older man who'd been assisting him. "Quickly! Go verify young Christopher's information."

The aide nodded and followed the excited youth out of the office.

"Alone at last, my pet." Clifford looked up at Fox. "I am so glad you came to share this, our shining hour, with me."

"Of course, darling," Fox improvised quickly. "Where would I be but at your side?" She moved towards him and he reached forward to pull her into an embrace. Fox cold cocked him with a sharp rap to the temple. Robert Clifford slid to the floor, unconscious.

"Fox, you've still got it! Now let's get the goods. Wait! City Hall!" She reached for her transmitter. "Goliath! Goliath do you read me?"

Lexington looked up sharply from the computer magazine he'd been reading. "Goliath, Fox is transmitting! And she's asking for you."

Goliath moved rapidly to Lexington's side. He removed his headset and handed it to his clan leader.

"Yes, Fox, I am here." Goliath held the speaker to his ear.

Fox paced back and forth in the office, searching cabinets and desk drawers. "You've got to get to City Hall. Phoenix Rising's placed another bomb, in the building. They're going to blow up the mayor and the council members."

"We're on our way, get out of there and contact the police," Goliath ordered.

"No can do," Fox found a cabinet lined with video and audio tapes. She began checking their labels. "I've got to find some proof. Don't worry, I'll be fine."

"Fox..." Goliath began to argue, but she clicked off the microphone.

She looked down at the unconscious form of Robert Clifford. He began to stir. She gave him a lady-like foot to the temple and he settled back down. She didn't have much time. Finally, she found a tape that looked promising.

There was a cassette player on Clifford's desk. Popping the demo tape in, she listened with her fingers cross. "Come on! Come on!" she prayed as the tape began to unwind.

"Are you ready, Mr. Hill?" a tinny voice came over the studio's microphone.

"I need my lucky worry stone first," the actor held everything up, "I can't perform without it."

"What's to perform?" Clifford now came over the off studio mic, his mild demeanor slipping "You imitate Mr. Xanatos's voice and say the lines. This isn't theater in the round."

"I found it! I found your rock!" a young voice crowed.

"Probably lose his head if it wasn't screw on his neck," Clifford said sullenly, "Are you ready to 'perform' now?"

"Let's go," Mr. Hill gave the go ahead.

"Yes, we received the material," the Phoenix Rising voice confirmed.

"You're satisfied, then?" Mr. Hill did a stunning impression of her husband.

Fox didn't hear any more of the tape. A loud banging at the door brought her back to the present. Fox looked up at the door. "Mr. Clifford, everyone's waiting for you. Mr. Clifford? Hello?"


On a good night, with prevailing winds, the flight from the west side to City Hall wouldn't have taken more than five minutes. But Fate was conspiring against them. Many of the rioters had escaped to the rooftops with their guns. Shooting started as soon as the gargoyles took to the air.

"Let me wrap those rifles around their necks," Broadway prepared to dive.

"We don't have time," Goliath held the blue green gargoyle back, "That bomb can go off any minute. We have to save them."

The gargoyles gained an updraft that took them high above the rooftops. The clock continued to tick.


Matt tugged at his riot helmet and tried to look threatening as he stood before the City Council chambers shoulder to shoulder in a phalanx of protective blue. Elisa stood at his side, her baton resting comfortably against her hip.

The last member of the Council, Alderman John Holmes, arrived moments before the meeting was to begin, clearly in a foul mood as he stepped out of his car. As he passed by Matt on his way up the steps to the City Hall's entrance, he glowered at the detective.

"Bluestone. You're finally doing a job that suits your qualifications. This is partially your fault, you know," he said sharply. "If you'd done your job as the head of the Gargoyle Task Force this situation would be happening. There wouldn't be any riots or an emergency council meeting!" Before Matt could reply, he stormed inside of the building.

"Well, he's certainly a charming fellow," said Matt to Elisa. "If I ever get a fruitcake for Christmas, I'll know who to send it to."

Suddenly, Elisa's two-way radio buzzed. "I'm here. Go ahead," replied as unobtrusively as possible.

"Elisa? It's me, Lex. Fox found 'Phoenix Rising's' headquarters. She got in! Elisa, they're going to bomb the City Hall! You've got to get everyone out of there!"

"What?" said Elisa in alarm. "Lexington, quick! Give me the details!"

Elisa grabbed Matt, breaking the phalanx. "'Phoenix Rising has mined the building! Let's move!"


High above the crowds, in an office building across the way from City Hall, two men watched the arrival of the City Council members through a set of high-resolution binoculars.

"Any word from Clifford?" The first man asked his companion. The second man shook his head. Number One went back to scanning the crowd. "What's Clifford waiting for? The Council meeting's getting under way. Now is perfect."

Number Two panned the crowd with his own binoculars. "You know, the crowd there is supporting our cause." He pointed out the many 'Get rid of the gargoyles' signs waving in the evening breeze. "They'll get caught in the blast."

"So?" Number One said callously, "A few days ago, these people didn't care one way or the other. Today they're with us, in a week they might be against us. They're sheep, bleating and milling about mindlessly. We're not doing this for them, we're doing it for us."

Number Two didn't say anymore, he just waited for the call.


"Elisa, look up!" Matt tilted his partner's chin upward as he roared over the din of the crowd. Gargoyles on the wing were heading straight for City Hall.

Elisa smiled in relief and then her face clouded with worry. "Why does he always have to be so brave? Come on Matt, we've got to provide some ground support."

Their warning to the Riot Squad Team Leader began to have effect. Equestrian officers move in smoothly, interspersing themselves among the crowd and casually moving them away from the City Hall. The ground forces followed in their wake further dispersing the crowds.

Bluestone spotted Martin Hacker and began to push people aside in his effort to reach the FBI agent.

Hacker was getting off his own cellular, when he spotted Matt and Elisa approaching. He gave a long-suffering sigh. "Save it, Bluestone, my spotters have already sighted the gargoyles. They'll be here within minutes and I have orders to take them alive."

"There's a bomb in City Hall," Matt said, cutting off his former partner. "Evacuation procedures are underway. But we need everyone's help right now!"

"Look around," Hacker nodded behind them. The crowd was surly, and resisting efforts directed at making them leave the area. "You want to break that up fine, but I have my orders."

"From which side of the fence?" Matt asked quietly.

Hacker looked at his ex-partner stunned. With a frown and a tug on his hat, Hacker got on the walkie-talkies. Agents in plain gray suits began to assist with crowd control. Matt gave his ex-partner a grateful smile. It looked like everything was going to turn out all right, when somebody in the crowd saw the gargoyles. Pandemonium ensued.


A key turned in the door and Clifford's aide, followed by two armed security guards forced their way into the room. Fox stuffed the cassette into her pocket. She started to mutter her spell, but couldn't muster the concentration. "By the hearts of men..." she began as the door opened and Clifford sat up holding his head.

"You!" He exclaimed as he crawled to his feet. His followers, their guns at the ready moved in.

Fox backed against the window and flung it open. She glanced over her shoulder, too high to jump. "Uh oh." She smiled at the gunmen. "Now guys, there's no reason to be hasty. Maybe we can cut a deal," she smiled hopefully.

"Make sure they find her body someplace public," Clifford said viciously.

Guns trained on her. Fox backed up against the windowsill. She tensed, willing herself to jump. She leaned backwards and a pair of furry hands grabbed her from behind. She was falling. Then she was flying. Fox looked up and saw Talon.

"Lucky for you, I tagged along," Talon said by way of greeting.

"Lucky me. Thank you, Derek," Fox managed before gunshots rang out. Talon tucked and rolled as they made good their escape. Phoenix Rising kept firing even as their targets glided away.

Police began to pour through the warehouse doors, ending the reign of "Phoenix Rising."


"Gargoyles!" Somebody yelled.

The crowd stampeded. Some ran for the relative safety of the City Hall or other buildings. Others began to try and attack the creatures winging towards them as floodlights were brought to bear. Gunfire began to rain down on the crowd as misguided citizens fired blindly upward.

In the midst of the chaos, the police and FBI agents continued grimly to attempt to disburse the crowd and evacuate the City Council.

Hacker roared into his cell phone then shook his head. "There's no way to get them out!" he yelled at Matt in frustration.

Matt shook his head, pointed and grinned. Hacker followed his gaze and his jaw dropped. The gargoyles were heading straight for the Council Chamber.

Elisa looked upward silently thanking everyone she could think of. An odd glint in a window caught her eye. Something clicked.

"Hacker!" she yelled, fighting her way through the crowd. "Tell your agents to search the neighboring buildings!" Elisa pointed at the office buildings across the street.

Hacker just got off the phone with riot control. "Why? What for?"

"Just do it!" Matt backed his partner.

Hacker called his men, ordering them to search all the buildings circling the City Hall. When he hung up the phone, he cast both a dark look. "We could use their help right now," he said pointed towards the gargoyles. "You might want to tell those gargoyles of yours to back off. They're not making things any easier."

"Shut up and watch, Hacker," Elisa growled with satisfaction.


"If we could bring this meeting to order?" The mayor rapped his gavel against the table and cleared his throat. "I know the crowd outside is distracting, but ladies and gentlemen we have a crisis on our hands..."

"I don't know, Phil, I think you should see this," one alderwoman said, nervously.

Curiosity overcame the City Council. They gathered at the window and watched the riot unfold.


"Quickly, now! We haven't much time!" Goliath dove downward, heedless of his own safety as he made for City Hall. He landed on the window ledge. The rest of the clan followed slightly behind him. The startled Council people jumped back in alarm.

Goliath put his first through the window and opened it. An alderman staggered backward, stunned.

"A bomb has been planted in the building. We will take you to safety." Goliath offered his hand.

"What?" an alderwoman sneered at the gargoyle.

"Come on! We don't have a lot of time!" Brooklyn pressed them. "Do you want to die?"

"No," the mayor answered.

"Then come with us!" Goliath urged with all his being. The mayor hesitated, then climbed on Goliath's back. The others followed suite. Alderman Holmes looked ready to protest then realizing that he was the only one left climbed into Sata's arms, and fainted.


"Where on earth is Clifford!" Number One paced in front of his outpost window tearing his eyes away from the rescue at City Hall only long enough to stare at his still mute cellular phone. "We have the gargoyles and the city's leaders all in one place. What is he waiting for?" He reached for the detonator, his patience exhausted. "Something must have gone wrong at headquarters. We can't wait anymore. I'm blowing it."

The tiny telephone rang. As Number Two reached for it, the door burst open and two FBI agents hurtled themselves through, their rifles trained on the bombers. Number One's fingers closed around the detonator, but the spotter was faster. The control pad exploded in a thousand plastic bits. The phone continued to ring.


The crowd began to calm as they slowly took notice of the escaping City Council. Law enforcement pressed its advantage and announced the bomb threat. The crowd began to disperse in earnest, dropping their signs and placards in their haste to evacuate.

"Things going our way?" Hacker looked amazed at the order emerging from the chaos, "That can't be right."

"Anything's possible with gargoyles involved," Elisa smiled.

Hacker's walkie-talkie beeped loudly. Hacker answered it. "You have them? Excellent. Get 'em down to booking quickly." He turned to the detectives. "Team four found a couple of guys with a remote in a high-rise catty-corner from here. How did you know?"

"It was a hunch," Elisa shrugged, "The last bomb was activated by remote. I figured someone did it near by."

"Well I'm impressed. Got quite a partner there, Bluestone." Hacker excused himself, leaving Elisa and Matt to deal with the fading remnants of the mob.


"You saved us from danger," the Mayor thanked Goliath, "Why? We haven't exactly welcomed you with open arms."

"It's not about welcome," Goliath explained, "A gargoyle protects. You were in danger; we acted to help. For that is who we are."

With a flurry of wings the gargoyles departed leaving the arriving FBI and NYPD officers to take care of the mayor and the city council members. The humans stared bewildered at the departing gargoyles until they vanished into the night.


"Good evening. I'm Travis Marshall. Tonight's top story: Last night, an anonymous tip led police to the garment district headquarters of alleged terrorist group 'Phoenix Rising'. Numerous arrests were made and a large cache of explosive materials confiscated. A citywide manhunt is underway for suspected 'Phoenix Rising' leader, Robert Clifford, who eluded police in last night's raid.

"In related news, Billionaire industrialist David Xanatos was released from custody, after authorities found audio tapes at the 'Phoenix Rising' headquarters of a voice actor impersonating Mr. Xanatos. That actor, whose name has not been released, is being sought for questioning in his role in the conspiracy to implicate Mr. Xanatos as the source of munitions in Phoenix Rising's' recent campaign of terror against the City of New York. Mr. Xanatos was reunited with his family, wife, Fox and son, Alexander earlier this afternoon."

"And he's not the only one who's glad to be back," said Brooklyn, as the gargoyles stood in the entertainment room of their wing at the castle, watching the news.

"Yeah," said Lexington. "But how about Robert Clifford? Do you think that they'll find him?"

"I hope so," said Angela. "There's something about him that scares me, even more than Castaway did."

"I know what you mean. People whose hate is fueled by conviction..." Elisa shuddered and Goliath wrapped an arm around her. "I brought you tonight's Daily Sentinel. Check it out." She turned the paper to the Op-Ed section and handed it to Goliath. There was a photograph of a man, his features distorted by rage as he raised his fist to strike a blow at another person, whose features were obscured. A fire burned in the background. Underneath was a short editorial column.

A police officer asked me to hold a mirror to the city.
If it saw its face, the officer reasoned, then maybe the madness would stop.
Last night, this was the face of a city united in hate.
Look at this face and look in the mirror.
What were you doing last night?

~ Jerry Pearson ~


"Were you that police officer, Elisa?" Broadway asked as Goliath finished reading the editorial.

"Yeah, I don't know what I expected when I asked Jerry to do something. I think that there's going to be a lot of guilty people trying to figure out how to deal with what they did over the last couple of days."

"Well," David said as he entered the room with Fox on his arm. "I think we can do something about that. The theater benefit has been extended over the next two weeks. My private foundation, and that of several other large corporations, including Nightstone Unlimited," he glanced at Angela, who smiled back proudly, "are joining together to organize a volunteer drive to repair the damage from the riots. And I think that if Goliath and the clans were to take advantage of the occasional photo-op, while doing a good deed, it wouldn't hurt their cause in the least."

"Couldn't hurt," agreed Brooklyn. The others slowly nodded their agreement.

"Maybe I should get a new fedora," Broadway mused.

Angela slapped him on the bicep. "Do not let the idea of publicity go to your head, my love," she warned. There was a smile beneath the threat.


"This is only a minor setback," said Robert Clifford, seated by himself on the train heading for Boston. He contemplated the view outside his window and consoled himself. "Every noble cause goes through its time of trial. But it triumphs in the end. I can make it through this bleak hour. Be patient, Clifford. Those demons cannot thrive forever."


Xanatos was happily playing with Alex in his office when Owen entered, a dour look on his face. "Mr. Duval is on the phone again, sir," he said. "Should I tell him that you are out?"

"No, Owen," said Xanatos, handing Alex to his aide. "I'll take it from here."

He held up the cellular phone to his ear. "Xanatos, here."

"I trust that you have learned your lesson from all this, David."

"Trust me, sir, I have," said Xanatos, his voice sounding tight.

"Then perhaps we can avoid similar such lessons in the future," said the leader of the Illuminati Society. "Good day to you." The connection severed. Xanatos switched the cellular phone off, and leaned back in his chair, frowning thoughtfully. At last, he got up, shrugged off the frown, and took Alex back from Owen's hands.


Duval labored over his computer keyboard typing a report. He paused to read what he had written, backspaced a few times and reworded a sentence. Finally he saved the report to a file, pulled up his e-mail program and selected a series of addresses. He attached the report, hit the "Send" key, then printed a copy for himself. He picked the hard copy up out of the printer tray, adjusted his reading glasses on his nose, and read the report he had transmitted only a few moments before.

"PROJECT PHOENIX RISING - RESULTS: There is a traditional saying: 'I've got some good news and some bad news.' Those words are very apt for the outcome of this project.

"The good news is that our primary goal has been achieved. David Xanatos was reminded of his duties to the Society. It seems very likely that he has been given a new healthy respect for the wishes of the Illuminati. It is very doubtful that he will ignore our demands in the future.

"The bad news is that our other goal met with less success. The gargoyles rejected my offer to reside at Bliant Manor. It seems wisest to respect their decision for now. If they remain at Castle Wyvern, we will at least be able to monitor them, to a certain extent. Continued attempts to capture them may be detrimental to our long-term goals. Until they trust us, it will be almost impossible to control them."

Duval rose, then tapped the Speak key on his intercom. "Giles, I wish to remain undisturbed for the next couple of hours."

"Understood, sir."

He studied the intricate painting of the spider web and sighed. "All those interconnected plans, just like a web. But am I still the spider?"