Outline by Robby Bevard
Written by Robby Bevard
Artwork by Robby Bevard
The handsome young man spoke with an air of understanding, the entire mess things had been was starting to make sense.
"This purse of gold I received from you, and Dromio my man did bring it to me. I see we still did meet each other's man, and I was mistaken for him and he for me. It was there that these errors occurred!"
The surrounding darkness hid Brooklynís red hide and white mane of hair as he watched and chuckled. Now he understood the entire situation. The Antipholus guy had a twin brother, and so did his servant Dromio! All this time, the four had been running back and forth to the wrong people! Add to that the fact that their long lost father was here... It had been a confusing timedance, but it all made some sense now, despite the fact Brooklyn's intervention had probably made things worse...
The red beaked gargoyle looked upon the situation playing out before him and sighed as he contemplated the scene. FamilyÖ
The husband reunited with his wife after many years of separation too closely paralleled his current situation. And the fact that they had twin childrenÖthe eggsÖ
Brooklyn heaved another sigh as his thoughts focused more and more on the family missing, and less on the comedy of errors going on below.
He pulled out the Phoenix Gate, the cause of his sorrow, and glared at it. He began speaking to it in what had started to become an unconscious habit.
"So, when are you going to take me back to Sata? I should have just left you when I had the chance. " It's my duty, hmmph. What was I thinking when I decided hanging on to this stupid Gate was the thing to do?" A growl came from Brooklyn's throat and his eyes flashed white briefly before he realized he was talking to himself, which caused him only to sigh again.
"At least when Payne and Celer were around I had someone to talk to. It wasn't great conversation, but it was someone. But you... All you've ever done is cause me misery and pain and dropped me into one bad situation after another..."
Almost on cue the Gate began to warm up, and Brooklyn looked at it. "It wouldn't be too much to ask for you to at least send me some place nice, would it?" As the ball of flame surrounded him, he answered his own question. "Probably not."
* * *
New Jersey, 1735
The rain drove down in sheets, blinding in the black night. A tall, somewhat ramshackle house stood on the knoll of a hill, the rain lashed angrily at the roof and windows. For a fraction of a second a blinding light shone out of the house as a ball of phoenix flame appeared inside, then vanished.
Vinnie Gregarino was packing for his move to Japan. He still felt good after having rescued that big purple gargoyle from the Quarrymen. As he was stuffing his socks into the suitcase on his bed, the brown-haired young man dropped a roll of socks and bent down to get them.
At that instant, a ball of flame appeared in his apartment with an outline of a figure, made a strange noise, and then disappeared before anything could catch on fire.
Vinnie came up with the pair of socks, looking around for whatever had caused the noise. Seeing nothing, yet feeling the room was a bit warmer than it had been a moment ago, the young security guard shrugged, turned up the air conditioner, and resumed his packing.
Ohio River, 1967
A bridge was collapsing when the Phoenix Gate flashed back and forth faster than Brooklyn could get wet or take in the situation. An unnatural creature spotted the bright flash, and recognized the sphere of fire, as well as the Timedancer, in the moment it was there. The creature had an idea of what that meant, and went back about its business.
New Jersey, 1803
The blond haired Stephen Decatur grumbled a bit. He wasnít happy with the way the cannonballs were dropping downrange today. The young man, who had received his captaincy at the tender age of twenty-five, and more recently been granted the title of Commodore, was busy with the tiresome process of figuring out the amount of powder to properly range cannon shots.
"Hmph," he muttered to himself as the cannon fired and the ball dropped just short of the mark, "it needs just a touch more powder." He shook his head; he normally enjoyed the exacting work, but he had been at it for several days now. As a member of the Board of Naval Commissioners, he had been charged with checking both shot and powder quality of the armament coming from the Hanover Iron Works.
"The one problem with this work is that it is so tedious," Commodore Decatur mused. "Lord, I wish that we could do this at sea. A heaving deck does make quite a difference in trajectory and impact." He grinned to himself. "Of course, retrieving and re-using spent shot is a bit more difficult. But still, I could wish for a more exciting afternoon."
His wish was granted almost immediately.
Out of the corner of his eye he noticed something that was not a bird; a strange creature was flying across the sky on a course that would take it near to the young Commodore.
"What in the?" Decatur stared at it for a moment, and decided that he definitely didnít like the beastís looks Ė or the fact that it was heading in the general direction of the nearby town of Hanover. He had already reloaded and quickly adjusted the trajectory with his practiced eye, then fired. A loud boom rang out, and the cannon recoiled.
The naval hero watched intently as the cannon shot arced through the air. The creature was hit squarely with the cannonball which bounced off the creatureís body. It didnít react at all and merely kept flying across the field.
Stephen repeated his question of "What in the?" with far more surprise this time. The winged creature seemed unharmed as it kept flying, but it let loose an unearthly scream that the man could not listen to unless he wanted to be deafened. He saved his hearing by placing his hands over his ears but could not quite block out the piercing cry, which rang through his head, forcing him to his knees.
After a moment, the noise stopped, and Commodore Stephen Decatur looked to the sky, but the creature had vanished into the distance. If he had turned around and had not blinked, he would have briefly seen a flash of phoenix fire in the sky, which vanished as quickly as it had appeared.
New Jersey Pinelands, 1822
The Gate dropped Brooklyn off close to the ground, beak first. Immediately there was pain;it was one of his nastier landings, with no chance to prepare before hitting the ground. The Timedancer began rubbing his beak, and then his head, feeling a bit drowsy and with a headache.
"Well, that was something I havenít seen in a while," he commented to himself and to his sole companion, the Phoenix Gate. "You just rapid danced me through like five places at once, spending only a fraction of a second in any spot." He stared at the red and gold magical object for a moment. It was far more worn than it had been when he first picked it up, fifteen or twenty five years ago. And at the moment, it was cool, meaning it was not going anywhere for a while.
The gargoyle thought for a moment about the multiple dances he had just gone through. It was hard to concentrate; the Gate had moved between them so quickly, firing up before it was even finished, that he had only gotten a glance at his surroundings. He faintly recalled the face of a woman, and little else. He attempted to think of what her features had been, but with only the brief glance he had received, nothing solid formed and his thoughts turned to a more important female instead.
"Sata..." he whispered aloud to no one but the trees. And then thoughts of Sata vanished and for an even briefer moment, he thought of Pandora and how he had spent his time with her in their last meeting.
Brooklyn shook his head, trying to clear it and only making a growing headache worse. He stopped worrying about whatever had just happened, and instead began to examine his surroundings.
He was among trees. A lot of them. Further than the eye could see.
"A forest huh? Wonderful." With a despondent sigh he began walking in a random direction, not really caring at this point where he ended up. It was just another pointless time dance among however many he had already been through. Brooklyn decided that perhaps he should just find a place to sit down and wait out this dance. He just was not in the mood for any sort of adventure tonight.
And then a gunshot went off right beside him.
Brooklyn jumped to one side even as the sound of another bullet rang out. He spun around to see a lantern placed on the ground. The fitful light revealed a man who looked somewhat familiar-- pointing a large gun right at him.
"Napoleon?" he asked aloud as the man fired again. The shot glanced off of Brooklyn's shoulder, and he let loose a gargoyle cry of pain as he moved back.
"I've got you now, devil!" the man shouted, and aimed to fire again.
"Devil? I've been called a demon before, but devil? That's almost a new one," Brooklyn muttered under his breath as he glanced around for some place to run to. His options were limited, surrounded by trees and with the attacker close by with a gun. Then a vaguely familiar voice called out.
"Brooklyn! Don't fire, Joseph, he's a friend!"
The gargoyle looked towards the man quickly running up behind the first and smiled in recognition. "Simon!" He momentarily forgot about the pain near his shoulder at the sight of his old friend approaching.
"Hello, 'Demon'," Simon began with a smile, using the name he and his buddies had first used to call the gargoyle. "What are you doing here?"
"What am I doing here? What are you doing here?"
" I live here! You're the one I wonder about, gargoyle. I haven't seen you in about eight years!"
Brooklyn smiled at the presence of a familiar, friendly face for a change. A bit aged and slightly difficult to see in lamplight, but familiar. Then he looked at the man who had shot him.
Simon looked a bit embarrassed that he hadn't given proper introductions sooner. "Brooklyn, this is Joseph Bonaparte, brother of..."
"Napoleon. I can see the resemblance." The red gargoyle looked at the brown haired man, while holding his left shoulder with his right hand. "Napoleon is an interesting guy, I hope getting to know you is half as interesting as getting to know him was..."
Joseph looked back and forth between the two of them, confused.. "You've known my brother?" Then glancing at Simon, "Exactly what is going on here?"
"We've met before," Brooklyn grinned, and suddenly he winced as the pain in his arm caught up to him.
The blond haired Simon looked a bit surprised. "You're hurt. Joseph got you pretty good, didn't he?" He was already rummaging through his pack to try and find a bandage.
"Itís nothing serious. It will heal in the morning... But tell me, what are you doing? What year is it?"
As the young man began dressing the gargoyle's wounds, and the brother of Napoleon looked on confusedly, an explanation briskly came forth.
"Itís a rather silly question isn't it, Brooklyn? But you asked that last time didn't you? It's 1822, and in New Jersey.
"After I was released from duty in the war, I came back here to marry my girl like I said I would. I became a father six years ago," Simon beamed. "And again three times since."
Brooklyn smiled in approval at his friend who seemed to have done quite well for himself. "Congratulations. So what are you doing out here in the woods, following a guy who wants to shoot me?" he asked as the bandage finished being tightly wrapped and tied.
Joseph Bonaparte, still a bit cautious about the arrival of this strange creature, but put at some ease by Simon's familiarity with him, explained. "We're hunting the Jersey Devil!"
The gargoyle arched an inquisitive brow.
Simon elaborated. "Back in 1816, Joseph saw the creature for the first time one night, and has been hunting for it off and on ever since. No one ever believes him despite the fact the Jersey Devil terrorizes towns and causes schools to close down, because he has yet to come up with proof. But I did, since I'd met you and Sata, I knew there were strange things in this world... "
The blond haired man paused for a moment, and looked around. "Where is Sata anyway?"
The lump that formed in Brooklyn's throat as he lowered his head and frowned was all the message needed. "I'd rather not talk about it."
"Oh, I see." Simon looked away awkwardly.
Trying to shrug off the sudden sadness that had come to him, Brooklyn looked to Bonaparte. "So, what does this 'Jersey Devil' look like?"
To the man's credit, he either hid the fact that he was scared very well, or he had already stopped fearing Brooklyn. "Itís a bit hard to describe. In the last eight years I've only seen the devil a handful of times. I've only seen it at night, which is why I'm looking for it now instead of in the day. As far as the creature, I'd guess it's about four feet tall... Has a horse like head and feet, and wings. A bit like you in fact. It lets out a shrill scream that can make a man go deaf, and its eyes glow red."
The look on the beaked gargoyle's face showed his surprise and interest at the description. "That sounds like a gargoyle. A female one at that."
"Female?" Bonaparte asked in bewilderment. "If the devil is female then you creatures have a horrible selection in wives."
Brooklyn ignored the comment and tried not to think of Sata, or Pandora for that matter. He considered what course of action to take for a moment as Simon filled Joseph in.
"Actually his mate is a bit of a beauty once you get past the horns and green skin."
"So how have you been looking for the Jersey Devil?" the brick red gargoyle asked, changing the subject.
Joseph beamed with his tracking knowledge. "Itís pretty simple really. The creature has horse like hooves, so it leaves tracks like a horse. And since horses don't normally travel through heavily wooded areas like this..."
Brooklyn nodded. "All right... I'll help you look for the Jersey Devil. If it is another gargoyle, having me along could help smooth things out some if we find her."
The good sense of this thought was immediately agreed upon, and the three began looking for a trail of some sort. Hoof prints in the dirt were the thing to look for. With something to keep Brooklyn's mind occupied, he was able to go a few moments without thinking of Sata. Or Pandora. Or Meryt; even though his feelings for her had subsided some over the course of the years, she still haunted his thoughts on occasion.
Hoof prints were all Brooklyn thought about for now. He did not see any. He tried to, but after a few minutes of looking alongside his companions without satisfaction, his mind naturally wandered again.
Silence for a while. And then...
"You're a lot quieter this time around Brooklyn. What is the cause?" blond-haired Simon asked.
"I'd rather not talk about it," Brooklyn muttered under his breath.
"Did something happen to Sata?"
"Something happened to me," the gargoyle growled. "It was my choice and I've regretted it every single second of my life since I made that choice. Now, I said I'd rather not talk about it." His eyes flashed their white glow for a brief instant, and Simon seemed to get the message. Still grumpy, a question came to Brooklyn that he would have asked sooner if his head had been clearer.
"Whatever happened to William and Henry?"
"Not sure, rightly. Haven't heard from them in a few years. It wasn't quite the same once I came home, got married and had a family. Iíve gotten a few letters from Henry. He went west into the new territories and seems to be doing well. He had taken a job at a ranch as cook last I heard from him. William went home and opened a tavern. I hear that his cooking is famous for miles around."
"Really, now." Brooklyn cocked his head sideways to look at his friend dubiously, remembering all too well the lack of culinary skills that had characterized the three in the blockhouse. He nodded wryly, then dropped back into silence.
Joseph Bonaparte had listened to the whole conversation without a word. He still did not understand it and stayed out of it. He just looked for tracks.
Utter silence. Quiet, save for the crackling of a few leaves as they were stepped upon.
Then more silence without a word. Nothing was happening. Brooklyn did not want to talk, Simon did not want to be rude, and Joseph was still a bit confused.
"Have the years really changed you so much, Brooklyn?" Simon asked of his old friend.
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"You weren't at all like this before."
The winged one replied, "You weren't either. People grow up, change. Itís the way things work. There's nothing you can do about it."
Simon was going to reply when a shrill noise filled the air. It did seem like a gargoyle scream, but there was something about it. All three hunters covered their ears in agony, as the sound reverberated throughout the woods. It was like a siren crossed with a hound in pain, with something unnatural thrown in. It was a horrible fingernails across the chalkboard sound, and the group was falling to their knees.
Then sound was horrible, and a few more moments of it would have done a few nasty things to the hunters. Just as it seemed they could not take any more, it stopped.
The humans and gargoyle slowly pulled their hands away from their ears, and searched around, trying to find the source of the sound.
"I take it that was the sound of the Jersey Devil?" The red gargoyle asked dryly, shaking his head to try to get the ringing out of his ears..
Joseph nodded, a bit deaf temporarily, but certainly in pain. Gargoyle ears were more acute than a human's, so naturally they hurt worse.
"Geez, wailed like a banshee," Brooklyn muttered under his breath, perfectly well aware that a banshee did exist, and he had no idea what she sounded like.
After that, the search continued with a new enthusiasm - and a new reluctance. Enthusiasm because there was something out there. Reluctance for the same reason. Still, when they eventually came across horse tracks in the middle of nowhere, they all knew what the tracks belonged to.
Brooklyn stated the obvious. "She's close." And then looking to the sky, stating something that mattered little to Joseph or Simon. "We need to stop looking now."
The soldier suddenly began to remember a fact about gargoyles. The brother of Napoleon looked at the red creature with disdain.
"Are you daft? We're close! If we stop now, we may not get near the Devil again for days, or even years!"
Brooklyn muttered under his breath, starting to drop back into a bad mood. "Gargoyles turn to stone in the day. If the Jersey Devil is a gargoyle, she will turn to stone, not go anywhere, and it will not matter. However, if she is not a gargoyle, I will be stone, unable to help you and unable to follow or catch up easily tomorrow night. I suggest we stop and rest."
Bonaparte looked unsure, but Simon nodded in agreement and sat down to begin setting up camp for the day. The hunt would have to wait a little while.
The little while ended up being about half a minute.
Before Joseph and Simon could even grab the camping equipment, the shrill scream sounded again and everyone quickly covered their ears. If last time the scream had been terrible, this time it was closer and much much worse. And then the tone of the unearthly yell changed into something almost pleasant. Strange, but pleasant.
The trio looked in the general direction of the sound, their ears uncovered now, and finally got a look at what they were tracking.
The humans were simply stunned, or frightened, it was hard to tell which. The gargoyle however, was curious more than anything else.
It looked like a gargoyle, but there were odd things about it.
It was about three and a half feet high. The creature's head was like that of a collie dog combined with the face of a horse. It had a long neck, with wings about two feet long. Its back legs were those of a crane, and it had horse's hooves. It walked on its back hind legs and held up two short front legs with claws on them, similar to some dinosaurs. Its color was reddish, and it was almost certainly male. It matched the criteria for a gargoyle, except its eyes... The Jersey Devil's eyes glowed red Ė a trait normally possessed only by female gargoyles.
Brooklyn spoke to his human companions. "Stay back. This thing may look like a gargoyle, but itís not." The white haired gargoyle's mind raced at what this could be. The creature was clearly puzzled as well. It looked at him, almost as if it recognized him.
The two red creatures took a hesitant step towards one another, examining the other, Brooklyn easily towering over the Jersey Devil.
Brooklyn watched as the creature sniffed at the air, trying to distinguish his scent.
The beaked one attempted to start a dialogue. "Um, hello?"
The horse-headed thing suddenly hissed and leaped at Brooklyn. Its hands revealed sharp claws Brooklyn had not noticed before, and as Brooklyn unfurled his wings and prepared to jump back, the creature slashed at him.
The attack came on Brooklynís wounded side, jostling the injured shoulder. Brooklyn hissed sharply as he felt the wound begin to reopen.
The beast snapped its jaws and barely missed Brooklynís beak as he jerked backwards. Its eyes burned red as it attacked in a frenzy, leaving several small wounds.
The two red beasts battled. Brooklyn was trying to get away at this point, but he had to keep the thing from attacking him or his human companions. So he fought back. Blow after blow, scratch after scratch. He was doing a fair share of damage, but the Jersey Devil deserved its name. It was small, quick, and quite dangerous with razor sharp talons, and possibly poison. It was hard to tell, but Brooklyn was already feeling a bit woozy even though his adrenaline should have had him riled up and fighting at his best.
It was obvious the battle was not going in the gargoyle's favor, and the Jersey Devil was not about to talk peace, so it came as little surprise when a gunshot went off.
Joseph Bonaparte smiled as the bullet hit the creature's head.
The near-gargoyle was driven back a foot or two by the blow and it screamed in pain. Its eyes burned with glowing ruby incandescence as it turned its attention towards the human. Letting forth a nasty growl, it leapt at the brother of Napoleon. There was no doubt that it intended to kill him.
Brooklyn dashed forward and rammed his shoulder into the creature while it was in mid jump. The creature screamed its unearthly scream again, but this one was clearly a scream of pain and anger. Brooklyn wanted to cover his ears but could not as he held the Jersey Devil's arms and finally pinned it against a tree.
He was rewarded for this maneuver by a powerful pair of horse hooves to the chest. The beaked gargoyle let his own eyes flare white and prepared to fight again, when a glance at the sky worried him. The sun was rising.
He looked at the Jersey Devil, and growled, prepared to end this quickly. He leapt at the beast, and tried to pin it. If he turned to stone while holding his new foe, it wouldn't be going anywhere.
It briefly occurred to Brooklyn that if the Jersey Devil was a gargoyle it would be a moot point, and that if it wasn't, it might be able to shatter stone. But just as quickly as these thoughts came, so too came thoughts of the humans he was protecting and gargoyle instinct took over.
He dashed towards the creature; his left arm was throbbing at the point of the shoulder wound and all the other little bite and claw marks were pinpricks of fire, but he had to finish this now.
As the two combatants met, the Jersey Devil slashed its claws at the Timedancer, the gleaming talons crackling with red energy. Brooklyn's wounded shoulder was hit again, and his eyes went wide in surprise as the energy poured into him. It felt for all the world like the time he had grabbed the bars of Macbethís security cage, but turned up by about forty notches...
Why Brooklyn suddenly remembered his first encounter with Macbeth was hardly relevant. For if the sun had not turned him to stone right then, his injuries would have knocked him out. Either way, all was darkness...
The Jersey Devil looked at the humans, particularly at the one who had shot him. Joseph took aim again, and Simon also drew a bead on the creature. They fired as one and the unnatural creature looked at them...
* * *
Brooklyn awoke from his stone sleep with a roaring yawn, and then a cry of pain at the feeling in his shoulder. Most of the minor markings from the previous night had been healed by the stone sleep, but his shoulder was in bad shape. He blinked. Normally, such a wound would have been healed by now. But he remembered some cases where the Elderís wounds hadnít healed quickly. If this one was like those, it would take at least three days to heal, and it might take weeks before it healed properly Ė if it did at all. The gargoyle groaned, and then thought to look for his companions.
"Simon!" he called out. "Joseph!" Brooklyn searched for the pair, and was relieved when a voice spoke back.
"We're right here, Brooklyn," Simon smiled. "No need to shout."
"Heh. I suppose not." The gargoyle faked a smile and hid his worry. He got straight to the point and asked what he wanted to know. "What happened after I went to sleep?"
"That's the weird part," Joseph began. "Even weirder than your arrival in the first place. You turned to stone and left us in a mess. Simon fired my other gun at the devil, and the shots didn't seem to hurt it at all, unlike the way the first one did. It wasn't at all bothered that it was being fired on. It looked at us, sniffed for a moment, then opened its wings and flew off."
"And that was it," Joseph said finally. "We've been wasting the day waiting for you to wake up."
Simon looked bewildered. "What was it, Brooklyn? Iíve seen and heard of a lot of strange things in my life, but never anything like that!"
The snow haired gargoyle sighed. "I don't know. It looked like a gargoyle, but it was male and had red glowing eyes, which means it either wasn't really a gargoyle, or it was a strange variety I've never heard of before. And the fact that one bullet hurt it and not another..." A stray fact came to Brooklyn that he recalled from Goliath's stories and what he himself had seen in effect over the years.
"Joseph, is your gun loaded with iron bullets and that one not?"
The man was confused by the question. "No... Thereís iron shot in both. Why?"
Brooklyn sighed. So much for the passing theory it might be a member of the Third Race." Both men looked confused.
"It's nothing," he said as he shook his head. "I suppose we should start looking again?"
The gargoyle was determined to keep his mind off Sata. Pandora. Meryt. But those glowing red eyes, despite being on a male creature, had triggered so many inner memories... And the only way to keep from lapsing into thoughts like that again was to keep distracted. But it seemed that Jersey Devil hunting was the only way to do it.
As Brooklyn thought about this, he winced in pain as an injudicious movement of his shoulder caused the wound to flare in agony. "Jalapena!"
His human friends looked concerned. Brooklyn winced, and looked to Simon. "Do you think you can bandage this up again? It hurts like... " And with that, the Phoenix Gate flared to life, whisking the Timedancer away.
* * *
Outskirts of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, 1967
The Phoenix flame faded, and Brooklyn finished off his sentence to no one in particular. He stood on a grassy hill with no real trees, held his shoulder with one hand, and winced at the pain.
"I hope this heals soon," the gargoyle grimaced. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, his mind flashed to the image of a human woman. He could not quite think of her features, but he recognized her and he was trying to think of her for some reason... Why was this woman on his mind?
Brooklyn concentrated, trying to think out the woman's face clearly, where he had seen her before, and above all, trying to keep his mind off the burning in his shoulder. All concentration was lost though when an unearthly scream resounded through the hills.
He was at full alert, recognizing the scream as the Jersey Devil's. There could be no other sound like it. He glanced around, trying to locate its source, and saw that it was probably coming from the small town near the bottom of the hillside.
Examining the town from a distance, Brooklyn could see many houses and a small downtown area with a few two and three story buildings. There were some cars parked here and there, models much older than Brooklyn was used to seeing, but the street signs seemed to be in English Ė a good sign. He figured that he must be somewhere in the United States, but at an earlier time than his own.
"But that's a long ways off from 1822 for the Jersey Devil to still be around..." Brooklyn frowned at that, but still, the unearthly sound was unmistakable. It was the creature he had just fought and lost against. More than a hundred years older, but still...
Brooklyn unfurled his wings and realized they were a bit sore. The creature had damaged those as well as his shoulder. But another stone sleep should fix them up. He remembered that when he was young, some of the warriors had ached for days after receiving heavy wounds in a battle. "Hmph. I must be getting old," he grumbled. "Next Iíll be wanting to curl up on the couch and watch TV."
Brooklyn sobered a moment as he was reminded of Hudson and the clan. He glanced up at the stars, then down at the Gate. "One dayÖ" he trailed off as his shoulder twinged, breaking his reverie, and glanced down into the town again. "Ah, well. I might as well find out whatís going on here."
The white-maned gargoyle felt for an air current, and when a reasonable amount of wind came in his direction, he began a dash, and jumped off the hill, to begin gliding towards the town. His wings ached some, but that was nothing compared to his shoulder, which the gargoyle did his best to ignore.
Within minutes Brooklyn had glided into town, hopefully unseen, and he did his best to go unnoticed.
It was quickly apparent that something was wrong. The streets were deserted. Yet lights were on all over, so the town itself was full of people.
"It can't be that late at night," the maned gargoyle muttered, noting the overall darkness of the sky. "Everyone is inside for a reason." A slight smile came to his beak, as he realized that would make it far easier to go unnoticed.
With a soft thud, the gargoyle landed and caped his wings, taking extra care to not jar his shoulder any further. Despite the streets being empty, Brooklyn did his best to stay quiet and in the shadows. If the Jersey Devil was here, people might be on alert and more likely than usual to attack a strange demonic looking gargoyle.
In a corner trash can, the Timedancer found what he was looking for -- a newspaper.
"Lesee," he began to mutter to himself, as he had often lately when he had no companions. "What do we have here? December 14, 1967. Sightings of a strange creature that emits a horrible noise..."
Brooklyn got no further as the scream of the Jersey Devil echoed throughout the town of Point Pleasant. He covered his ears as around him, windows cracked, and all lights and electricity flickered for a moment. Brooklyn's eyes automatically began to glow white in reaction to the scream; it was like a reflex he could not help. Then, as suddenly as the horrible noise started, it stopped, and all the electricity came back on.
The red gargoyle glanced around for the Jersey Devil, but did not see it. He took a deep breath.
"Oh yeah, he's definitely here." Brooklyn moved into an offensive pose, and prepared to run in the direction the sound had seemed to come from, but then his judgment overcame his normal instinct and attitude. "Calm down, Brooklyn, you're not going to do any good rushing into trouble. You got beaten up by Demona enough times to know this..." Mumbling to himself, the white haired one continued to read the paper, hoping it would tell him something useful. It did.
"Mothman continues to scare. Interesting title." He began to skim, not wanting to waste too much time before he looked for the one familiar thing here.
"The Mothman, first spotted around November fifteenth 1966, and named after a comic book character, has been spotted again..."
Brooklyn paused and thought about that before reading further. "But that would put J. D. at about 145. And when I saw him, he certainly wasn't a hatchling. Even for a gargoyle, that's pretty old... Hmm..." He kept reading.
"Witnesses say the creature possesses enormous red glowing eyes and only makes a sound of a piercing shrill cry. No one has ever been harmed by the Mothman, but the creature may have eaten a pet dog...
"That certainly matches what I saw in New Jersey," he mused aloud.
Brooklyn absorbed the material with great interest, and continued reading aloud to give himself some company other than the Phoenix Gate.
"The Mothman has generally made contact with people while they were in their cars or by looking into the windows of their homes. Hmm, this all sounds like something one of the fay would do... Hmm..."
This thought gave Brooklyn reason to pause. "Could the Jersey Devil be a fay just playing some kind of trick? That would explain the age... And why his eyes glowed red...but no, it wouldnít have explained why the monster didnít react to Joseph and Simonís bullets." This thought on his mind, he kept reading.
" It is possible the beast can speak directly into someone's mind... Some claim it has warned them about an impending disaster on the Ohio River..."
The gargoyle finished the article and nodded. "Well, all in all, this doesn't look good. But it sounds like the Jersey Devil all right. It should be fun meeting this 'old friend' again, eh Sata?"
Brooklyn's eyes widened as he suddenly realized what he had just said. He missed his mate so much... He could almost see her beautiful face and jade green skin again, and just as he began to see that pleasant image, his mind thought once again of a human woman he could not remember having ever met.
He shook his head, and concentrated once again on trying to find the Jersey Devil. Or Mothman as it was known now. A grim look came over his face as a sense of determination set about him, like something out of a heroic story. Then, his left arm convulsed as a searing pain ran through him in waves, starting at the shoulder, and he collapsed to his knees.
Brooklyn looked at his wound. It had somehow reopened, and the coloring around the wound was starting to look a bit more purple than red.
"Wonderful... It's infected..." he winced, before dropping the newspaper and collapsing against the side of a nearby building.
* * *
The gargoyle opened his eyes, not really too sure of how long he had been out. Being unconscious was unfortunately not a new experience to him, but having an infected wound that caused him to feel sick was something new. Usually stone sleep killed any virus before it could become a problem.
A low guttural growl came involuntarily from Brooklyn's throat as he tried to not feel the pain.
"That does it, I need to find a way to heal this up before it gets worse... I need to find a doctor's office..."
Brooklyn dug his right hand claws into the side of the building he had collapsed against. And then slowly, reluctantly, and with far to much pain, he pulled his left arm up and dug his other set of claws into the way.
Haltingly, agonizingly, he climbed to the top of the building. It was only one story, but something that usually took a few seconds took several long minutes now. Right before reaching the top, something in his left arm pulled, and the snow haired gargoyle let loose a cry of pain that echoed throughout the night. His eyes widened with worry that someone would hear and come find him. So far everyone had remained indoors, but that did not mean a strange sound would not attract attention.
The red gargoyle hurriedly pulled himself over the rest of the way onto the roof, breathing hard. Within a moment, he was proven right as the first human he had seen so far in this town rounded the corner.
"Hello?" an auburn-haired woman wrapped in a long dark coat called out. She looked cautiously around, and, not seeing anyone, quickly scurried down the block to a car, unlocked it and dove inside, then drove hurriedly down the road towards a cluster of houses.
Brooklyn ignored her, but the female voice calmed him down a little as once again thoughts of Sata, Pandora, and Meryt came to him. His mind dropped into a fuzzy haze. It was harder to think, but the pain had mostly gone away. What remained felt distant. Brooklyn smiled, caught his breath, and then tried to think of what he had hoped to accomplish by climbing onto the roof.
Long after the woman had left, he remembered. "Oh yeah," he began chuckling. "Find a doctor's office. Heh."
Standing straight up, Brooklyn took a deep breath, ignored the pain, and began moving from roof to roof in the hope of finding something labeled 'doctor'.
The somewhat delirious gargoyle lucked out after half an hour. "The old Brooklyn luck strikes again," he smirked, forgetting for a few moments that up until now he had had terrible luck in all things, be it dodging laser fire, romance or picking up a stupid magical trinket called the Phoenix Gate. His luck was not about to change.
* * *
He unfurled his wings and jumped down from the building he was on, trying his best to land softly. The gargoyleís wings and feet slowed his descent and cushioned the landing, but it still sent a shock through to his arm.
"Arrg!" Brooklyn winced. I hate this! Not able to work with even one floor buildings..." He growled for a moment uncontrollably at the pain, then took a deep breath. Looking at the doctor's office, he peeked through a window and saw the building was dark and empty.
"Probably home hiding from the Jersey Devil like everyone else. Good." Trying not to make noise, the beaked gargoyle tried opening the front door. "Locked of course. Hmm..."
A breeze filled the air with a slight chill. Normally Brooklyn was not affected by cold any more than other gargoyles, but with an infected wound, even a mild breeze repeatedly aggravated the injury. He quickly searched for another way in.
"Break through the window? No, that's just asking for looters and costing someone a good window... Hmm..." He walked around to the side of the store, and found there was another door. This one was also locked, but it was a bit rusted.
"Wonderful. If the doc was in, I could just walk in and risk scaring the life out of him. But I can't just break down the door..."
Then, that unearthly scream came again. Closer than before. The gargoyle covered his sensitive ears reflexively, then hissed as the movement sent a searing stab of pain through his arm.
He could not help the gargoyle roar of agony that burst forth. Wincing and in pain, Brooklyn fell against the door, and broke it right off its hinges.
Abruptly, the noise of the Jersey Devil ceased. Brooklyn opened his eyes, and searched for where the sound had come from. His ears were ringing, his shoulder hurt worse than it did a minute ago, and all in all, he was not feeling very pleasant. The side door of the doctor's place already broken down, his decision was made for him. He was in and the damage had already been done; he might as well try to cure some of his pain.
His gargoyle eyesight adjusting to the near pitch darkness of the room, Brooklyn stumbled around looking for a few items. Disinfectant and bandages.
"I wonder if they've made anything for headaches yet?" he pondered as he came to what looked like it might be what he was looking for. However, in the near pitch darkness, none of the labels could be read.
"Oh come on, why can't things be fair to me for one moment?"
Pain and frustration combined with the fact he couldn't put on any lights for fear someone would investigate turned into anger and Brooklyn's eyes glowed a brilliant white. For a moment he did not realize what he had done. Almost as soon as it came to him that his eyes provided a great light source, his anger faded leaving him again in the dark.
"Arrg!" The sudden change in events maddened him again, and this time he was frustrated enough that he was able to read by the light of his furiously glowing eyes. His taloned hand grabbed two bottles of disinfectant and two small boxes of bandages. One of each he stuffed in the pouch that carried the Phoenix Gate. It was a tight fit, and frustrating to squeeze in, but already Brooklyn realized if his arm did not heal totally in his next stone sleep, he would have to go through this again.
One set safely packaged away for future use, he put his mind back to taking care of his injury.
Almost fumbling, Brooklyn poured disinfectant on his major wound and hissed. The stuff bubbled against the infection, but it stung quite a bit. In his current condition, even a bit of extra pain was bothersome.
After the bubbles had disappeared and disinfected, Brooklyn poured the stinging stuff on the wound again. It had to be cleaned before it could heal properly. He cursed softly at the renewed sting. His arm and his eyes both burned and stung, but it had to be done.
Breathing hard, the gargoyle's long beak curved into a smile. "That wasn't too bad, now was it? Considering you've taken the major impact of a bomb before... That brought back memories...
"Ai stiteru yo."
He smiled for the first time in a while thinking about when he and Sata had first confessed their feelings for one another.
"It means I love you, she said." And then as the next few words of that wonderful moment came to mind, Brooklyn's smile faded.
"I promise if you let me share this journey with you, I will never break your heart. She had said that too... Hate to disappoint you Sata, but you did manage to break my heart." He sighed and tried to hold back the tears that were coming as a result of the memory, and was only stopped by the pain returning full force to his arm.
Brooklyn shook his head and returned to business at hand, and started trying to bandage his shoulder. It was tricky business with only one hand in near pitch darkness, and certainly not as good as the one Simon had made only a few hours ago, but it had to do. With one hand he tied a knot in the end, and hoped the bandage would hold and do the trick.
Leaving the building, he did his best to put the door back into place. It was not locked and anyone seriously looking would notice this, but like the bandage, it was the best possible solution for right now and it would have to do.
Brooklyn sighed and looked at the night sky. It was still hours until daylight, and so it would be a while before stone sleep would heal the wound.
Sneaking through alleyways and staying out of sight despite the fact there was no one out to see him, the wounded gargoyle eventually found an office building with convenient projections that would be a simple matter to scale with one hand.
He climbed atop the structure and was breathing hard. He sat down to rest for a moment, and leaned against the chimney. He was almost immediately asleep, exhausted from what would have normally been an easy task. He slept right through the sound of the Jersey Devil screams three times that night, and when the sun rose, he did not notice stone sleep had come upon him.
* * *
Point Pleasant, West Virginia, December 15, 1967
Brooklyn awoke with a roaring yawn as the sun set. He instinctively flexed and stretched, and pain shot through his arm. The bandage had naturally torn off when Brooklyn awoke, as he did not consider it a part of himself.
Hissing a bit, the gargoyle examined the shoulder wound. It was still a bit purple, and where the wound had been the skin looked like it was developing a scar, but stone sleep had helped quite a bit. His shoulder had sealed up, and the pain was not nearly a great as last night.
"The stone cold cure all... Gotta love it," the snow maned gargoyle smiled as he flexed his shoulder a bit, trying to work out the stiffness in it. That was a mistake.
"Ahh..." he moaned. "Still hurts to the point I can't use it. Wonderful." Gritting his teeth, Brooklyn took a deep breath, and tried to decide what he should do.
"Okay, I know the Jersey Devil is here. Or Mothman, or whatever itís called. And I know itís causing some trouble with electrical disturbances whenever it goes by. That scream that it has ruins windows and stuff by hitting a high pitch... And itís been warning people about a disaster on Ohio River...
"I think I need to find Mothy. And fast."
Realizing quickly that a one-story building was not the best place to figure out what to do next, Brooklyn looked for the tallest structure around.
There weren't many, it was a small town after all. However, there was a fairly tall church that would serve his purposes.
His gargoyle wings unfurled and, with a brief run and jump, he caught an updraft and was able to glide to his destination with a minimum of effort.
Perched on the church's high steepled roof, Brooklyn had a better view of the surrounding area. It was the perfect image of a small town: a few office buildings and stores, a few gas stations, and lots of houses. This place did not have much. And with everyone hiding in their homes to be away from the Mothman, he was willing to bet the property values wouldnít be increasing anytime soon.
Brooklyn skimmed over this all at a glance as he searched for a nearby river. It was easy enough to spot, even from a distance. It looked to be a few minutesí glide, but that would not be much trouble considering that that was where the Mothman would probably be.
"Well Brooklyn, if you're going to do it, do it." He took a deep breath, and jumped off the church towards the Ohio River.
In the entire course of his flight, he saw only one man out on the streets, and the man did not see him. Brooklyn was thankful for that much as he glided on smoothly, despite lingering pain in his left shoulder.
All was calm. The wind blew through his hair and filled his wings. There were the natural sounds of crickets chirping, but little else.
The beaked gargoyle muttered, "It's quiet. Too quiet." Then he rolled his eyes and groaned. "Why did I say that? Whenever anyone says itís too quiet that's when something jumps out at them..."
Nothing happened. Brooklyn glided on in silence, expecting at any moment to be attacked or shot at or something. Despite his being on edge, nothing exciting happened at all. Uneventfully, he reached the Ohio River and landed.
He was a bit out of breath, his shoulder was still making things difficult for him, but not nearly as badly as last night. "Okay Jersey Devil, Mothman, whatever you're called, come on out! I'm here!" His eyes darted back and forth, his head turned to search for signs of anything, but nothing came.
Brooklyn began to walk along the river, not sure what he was looking for. Horse prints in the dirt? Maybe... Nothing turned up, and it began to seem like this was a waste of time and the wrong place to be until something clicked.
"I've been here before..." he started. "But when?" He began trying to recall in his memory why this place was familiar. But after fifteen or twenty or maybe thirty years of timedancing, there were more places than he could possibly remember.
While thinking about this, the image of a woman's face once again came to him. Another thing he couldn't place... And then Brooklyn knew where he had seen this place before.
"When I rapid danced earlier... I was here for a moment... Not long enough to get a good look, but long enough to recognize it."
That finally settled, Brooklyn smiled and relaxed a bit. And then his stomach growled. "Oh, that's right... I haven't eaten since looking for the Jersey Devil with Simon..." With nothing better to do, Brooklyn hunted for food. In no mood to actually hunt, he instead looked for berries and edible plants.
The gargoyle found plenty. Making sure not to eat anything he did not recognize, he chowed down on some blueberries, and wished Broadway was here. "He'd know how to make a meal out of nothing..."
Thoughts of Manhattan and his rookery brothers began to come back. Broadway... Lex... Goliath and Elisa... Angela...
A piercing shrill cry broke the natural sounds of the night. Startled, Brooklyn glanced up and saw something flying. And it was not the Jersey Devil.
The gargoyle's eyes widened at the sight of the creature. It was at least seven feet tall, and resembled a bird more than a moth. It had huge featherless wings that spanned ten feet across, and its eyes perfectly matched those of the Jersey Devil, as did its shrill scream.
"It's... not the same creature..." Brooklyn's jaw gaped. After the moment of surprise wore off, he saw the creature was flying full speed towards a bridge not too far down the river. And its speed was incredible, nearly a hundred miles an hour Brooklyn judged. It was not flapping its wings, it seemed to glide. Then pulling his attention from the creature to the target, Brooklyn saw the bridge was full of people driving by.
"I don't know what's up, but this can't be good..." Brooklyn whispered under his breath, as he began to run after the creature, the "Mothman", with no chance to get airborne. He shouted at the thing that was the Jersey Devil, but was not. "Wait!" The giant bird turned its head towards the gargoyle, and in the back of Brooklyn's mind, a single word came forth.
The beaked one was confused, but he continued to run after the strange thing, ignoring the pain that was shooting up into his arm. More words flooded into his mind, in a strange voice that he barely comprehended, but felt he knew.
Bridge has been weakening! No fix! Soon break! Must stop! Brother help?
If felt like more words were going into Brooklyn's head, but these were all that were coming out. Still, he got the gist of it. The bridge was about to collapse, and there were a lot of people on it that would get hurt! This Mothman might not be a gargoyle, but it had a gargoyle's sensibilities. Without saying a word, Brooklyn ran faster and pretended incredible pain was not shooting through his not fully healed shoulder.
At a reasonable point the gargoyle unfurled his wings and jumped over the bank towards the river. He barely pulled the glide off, but with the bit of momentum he possessed, he managed to get some air and readjusted his course to match the large bird's glide path and attempted to move towards the bridge.
As he got closer, Brooklyn saw quite clearly where the problem lay. The bridge had been badly built, its entire structure was collapsing, and it was giving way. People in their cars were only now starting to realize this as the bridge was unable to fully support its own weight and was collapsing all over its span into the river . Some humans left their vehicles and began running towards safety on whatever end of the bridge was closer. Others were stubborn and would not leave their automobiles. However one thing was clear, the Mothman's arrival did not help.
Cries of "Monster!" and "It's the end of the world!" were among the many that came forth. Brooklyn was still not close enough to help when his shoulder flared up in pain, and aches shot all throughout his left wing and shoulder. He lost his gliding ability and skimmed the water. He then fell in and the current began to push him away from the bridge, and he barely managed to save himself by grasping for land on the side of the river.
By the time he was readjusted, it was too late for him to help.
The Silver Bridge over the Ohio River was collapsing. Off in the distance the Phoenix Gate flashed for a brief second. Brooklyn did not see it, but the Mothman did. He recognized the sphere of fire, as well as the Timedancer, in the moment it was there. The creature had an idea of what that meant, and went back about its business of trying to save innocent lives.
The Mothman had no time to look back, but it knew already that the gargoyle it had just seen a moment ago would not arrive in time to help. With a sudden, terrible rush, the bridge collapsed. The Mothman emitted its screaming cry, but this time it was a scream of terror. Brooklyn gasped as he helplessly watched the Mothman and quite a few other people fall helplessly into the river, buried under tons of steel and concrete.
He turned his head and began to shed a tear at the sad scene he could do nothing about. With that final sight on his mind, the Phoenix Gate sparked and whisked him away.
* * *
Crawfordsville, September 5, 1981
The familiar fire faded and Brooklyn landed in a large puddle of water. He was on his knees as he splashed the water with his right fist, still avoiding use of the pained left arm. Tears were coming forth, he could not help himself.
"It's not fair!" he cried out into the night, followed by a sob. "So many people... And the Mothman... I couldn't help any of them! It's not fair!" A tear fell into the water, and he tried not to cry as he took in a breath.
"You're better than this, Brooklyn."
A deep breath. "Youíve seen people die before. You've been unable to help them despite the Phoenix Gate taking you there..."
A sob. "You put up with Payne that entire time you were with him... You didn't cry then..."
A gulp and heavy breathing. "What's so different about this time?"
As Brooklyn struggled to regain his composure, he already knew why, though he would not say it aloud. He wanted to be with Sata.
Thunder clapped in the background, and rain began to pour. Brooklyn hardly noticed, wallowing in his own misery, as his most cherished memory came forth...
It was a night with Sata shortly after they had mated. It had been a peaceful timedance that stretched well into its second month. Their nights had been quiet and fun for a short while then, with no dangers... They laid together, relaxing in each other's arms, not a care in the world. They did not need sleep, but the moment was right for it and they were together... The here and now was all that mattered...
Except here, in the rain, the now was gone. Brooklyn lingered on the past, remorseful. His tears mingled with the rain, and as he looked into the water and saw his reflection, angry at the circumstances, he could have sworn he saw a pair of red glowing eyes.
Hoping against hope, the gargoyle sat up.
"Sata!" he called out and looked around, only to see nothing.
"Sata..." he whispered into the night, misery setting in again. The white maned gargoyle shut his eyes, not wanting to see any more, wanting the world to end now.
Looking into the puddle again Brooklyn's eyes glowed with frustration and misery. As hundreds of rain droplets hit the pool of water distorting the image, Brooklyn noticed something was wrong with his reflection, but could not place what.
The rain poured and the lightning cracked, and Brooklyn was oblivious to it all. Nothing could have gotten him to move -- except for a sudden familiar scream.
This time it was not deafening or horrible, even though it was the same sound the Jersey Devil and Mothman had made. As Brooklyn looked into the air and saw a creature that would later be named the Crawfordsville Monster by locals, he was amazed.
The two previous creatures with ruby red eyes had been impressive, but this creature outdid them both. A hundred feet in the air hovered a twenty foot serpent with several pairs of wings. Its sheer size was incredible, and it squirmed as if in agony. Its scream changed into a wheezing, plaintive sound, but it was still the familiar scream.
"These things just keep getting bigger," Brooklyn gaped, unaware of the fact he had seen the Mothman a good seventy six years from now, and still oblivious to the rain.
The gargoyle's heart thumped faster, his breathing quickened. His despair had turned to wonderment... and a bit of fear. "What are these creatures? What is their connection. and why am I running into them?"
For a brief second the unfamiliar woman's face flashed in his mind again, though by now Brooklyn was starting to recognize her from the brief glimpses at her face.
His wounded shoulder began to pulse -- in pain -- to the thumping of Brooklyn's own heart, in response to the dragonlike creature above him, though he did not know it. The pain was returning though, and it hurt.
The red one let out his own howl of pain, and for a moment his eyes flashed red. The flying creature seemed to react to this, and began to move in on Brooklyn's position, ignoring the rain in much the same way he did.
In the sky the dragon coiled and uncoiled, its heart urging it towards this other.
"No... Get away!" Brooklyn called out.
The gargoyle turned and began to run, but the world spun around him. He felt as if he were drunk. Trying to run, Brooklyn fell to the ground and collapsed, his shoulder wound reopened and his eyes glowed ruby red. He gasped for air and control of his suddenly frightened emotions as the Phoenix Gate flickered again and took him away before the Crawfordsville Monster could investigate further.
* * *
Time and place unknown
Brooklyn groaned in pain as the Gate dropped him off. His shoulder was bleeding, and the barely scarred tissue had been reopened. The infection was getting worse. He needed more time in stone sleep to heal it. A brief glance at the sky told him all he needed to know. Day would not be coming for a while.
Grimacing in pain, he fumbled for the disinfectant and bandages in his pouch. His hand shakily grabbed the items and barely pulled them out of the stuffed pouch. They fell to the ground, and he fell after them, gasping and wheezing for breath as the world seemed to spin around him.
Brooklyn's eyes closed as he faded again into unconsciousness...
He dreamed something. But it was not a dream, it was more of a memory.
I am being born... the thought came to him. In his unconsciousness, he spoke aloud, arguing with himself.
"No, I was hatched, I can't remember being born..."
And as the blue light brought me into existence and I saw my mother for the first time...
He saw the familiar woman's face, almost clearly. "Gargoyles don't... have mothers..." he argued painfully. "They're raised by the clan..."
And then something happened. Fire appeared and hurt me...
Pain came to Brooklyn, and he awoke screaming, clutching at his wounded shoulder.
The gargoyle's breathing was fast and labored, his vision blurred. But he saw the disinfectant and untwisted the top. His shaking hand spilled some of the stuff onto the ground, but it got to his shoulder, which bubbled immediately and painfully. Brooklyn hissed at the searing burn as he shut his eyes, trying to ignore the pain.
After several minutes of agony and reapplication, Brooklyn took his bandages and tried to wrap the wound. He was not very successful, but it was better than leaving the wound in open air to be further infected.
Then all was silence. Brooklyn did not speak, he hardly thought, he did nothing but listen to the sound of his own breathing. He concentrated, trying to bring back the dream he had just had. But it was not a dream, he knew that. It was something more...
Then, a voice spoke to him.
A female voice. "Hello, Brooklyn."
A familiar voice. "What are you doing here?"
A voice with many memories attached - some very bitter. Brooklyn turned around, and saw who he knew and feared would be there. "Demona!"
* * *
The creature pulled its four fangs out of the goat's neck, and growled. It hated surviving like this. If it were only as strong as it had once been, it would not have to rely on exsanguination to survive.
Two small triangular holes were left in the animal's neck.
"Chupacabra" the natives called it. Goat sucker. It was appropriate enough, but that did not mean it enjoyed living this way. To be whole once more and never to need to do this again... Suddenly, it felt a presence.
A familiar presence.
It is him.
The two-legged creature's eyes glowed crimson red. Off in the far distance, Brooklyn's eyes did the same. Yes, it was him all right... After hundreds of years of waiting, it was time to end this.
* * *
Brooklyn's raspy breath and cracking voice, combined with his very apparent shoulder wound, revealed he was in no position to make threats, yet he made them still.
"Leave me be, Demona! I am in no mood to see you right now!"
The blue skinned gargoyle smiled somewhat wickedly at that. "That is a pity, Brooklyn. For I am here, and so are you. There is no escaping that fact."
The red gargoyle was panting for breath. "I said, 'Leave me be, Demona.'"
"Oh come now. Itís been so long since we last saw each other, Brooklyn. And you are in no condition to argue. I can defeat you in battle on one of your good days."
Demona sat down in the grass and looked Brooklyn in the eyes. "Now tell me, what are you doing here?"
Brooklyn did not reply.
"Of course," the red haired female smirked. "Considering the year and how old you appear to be, this must be one of your timedances. How fun."
"You know about my dances?" the gargoyle asked curiously.
"If I revealed that, it might change the future or the past. So I won't. It is enough that I know."
"What do you want, Demona?" Brooklyn growled.
"Company," the former mate of Goliath smiled. Brooklyn did not like seeing her smile. And something was different about her; she seemed at peace with herself. It unnerved him.
Doing his best to control his breathing, and trying to ignore the fact the world was spinning before his eyes, he considered the situation. Not knowing the year, he did not know if Demona deserved his sympathy or not. So he let his eyes glow and muttered under his breath. "I don't want your company. I hate you Demona."
She frowned at that. Making no mention of the fact that his eyes glowed red now, she just looked at him. "Why?"
"You know why."
Demona showed an unnatural calmness, considering the way she usually acted. "Perhaps I do. But tell me all the same."
"You betrayed me! You made me trust you and then you turned Goliath into a zombie and had him attack me!"
"You tried to kill all the humans on the planet for one thing," he growled, recalling the entire incident with the Hunters from so long ago.
"What is it I have done to you, Brooklyn, that makes you hate me so? Yes, I was wrong to trick you then, but what else have I done to you? It has been a great many years since you last saw me, I am sure of that. So why do you hate me?"
The male looked away.
"What is it you blame me for?"
Brooklyn's eyes narrowed and seemed to darken with anger. "My entire life has been taken from me, Demona. That's enough. You don't have to gloat over it."
Now Demona seemed angered as she stood back up and her eyes began to glow. Her wings unfurled as she yelled at him. "I'm not gloating! I just want an answer! Why do you hate me?"
"I don't!" Brooklyn yelled, pushing himself up and half unfurling his own wings despite his condition.
"Then why did you just say you did?" she snapped.
"Because!" the snow haired gargoyle yelled.
"That's not an answer!" the fire haired one replied.
Barely noticing the tears that were starting to come forth, Brooklyn turned away and caped his wings. His tone quieted. "I don't know why I hate you."
Demona was silent.
"Several years ago, maybe in the future to you, maybe in the past, I met you again. And you had changed. I felt sympathy and sorrow for you. From that day forth I could never think of you the same way again. I could never truly hate you anymore, and yet I still do."
"Why?" Demona asked calmly, apparently a bit unsettled by this.
"I don't know. Maybe I blame you for the problems the Phoenix Gate has brought me. Maybe, you being an old grudge, you're easier to hate than Payne or Harthoth or Isfet."
Brooklyn was calm and his voice was icy cold. All his pain both internal and external was frozen for a moment of utter honesty. "They aren't friends of mine, Demona. And neither are you. You never will be."
"I see." the immortal gargoyle looked on in some understanding. "I can understand that. Even after forgiveness, things can never be as they were back at Castle Wyvern when we were young."
Brooklyn nodded, slowly turning to Demona, seeing that she understood, and amazed by that as she continued speaking.
"Do you remember when you were a hatchling, and you thought you and Lexington had broken one of the eggs in the rookery?"
"It was just a pot. Yeah, I remember. Itís one of the only memories I have that far back. You were different then, Demona."
"As were you, Brooklyn. We were both innocent and naive then. I've longed for more than a millennium for things to be like that again, but they never can be." Demona seemed almost wistful and happy at the memories, as was Brooklyn. He could not help but crack a bit of a smile.
Then his blue skinned enemy looked him in the eye, all seriousness again. "But what is the real reason, Brooklyn?"
"You don't hate me as much as you claim to just because of that one incident. There was always something else, and that something seems to be stronger."
This had been a long time building, and both gargoyles knew it. Brooklyn sighed as the truth finally began to come out.
"The honest answer Demona, is that..." A deep sigh to prepare to unburden his soul. And then -- an unearthly scream sounded nearby.
Demona covered her ears and screamed in pain. Brooklyn just turned his head towards the direction of the familiar sound made by the ruby eyed beasts.
His heartbeat quickened; his shoulder throbbed but went unnoticed as his vision seemed to blur. Everything took on a red tint. Brooklyn was still unaware that his eyes now glowed red, and right now, he did not care.
Something within him, something savage was touched when he was around the ruby eyed creatures. He did not know if this was one he had already seen, or if it was a new one, but it was familiar at an instinctual level.
The gargoyle's eyes glowed a crimson red and he hissed as the Chupacabra approached.
This one was similar to the Jersey Devil, in that it walked on two hind legs and resembled to some degree a velociraptor.
You... came the voice in the back of his head.
Yes. Brooklyn responded, this time in enough synch with the creature to communicate.
Must die. The voice spewed hatred.
Brooklyn's eyes widened and his brief connection with the creature faded as his glowing eyes returned to normal. The creature hissed, now unintelligibly, and it jumped at Brooklyn.
The gargoyle instinctively raised his arms into a defensive posture as the screaming creature's single leap brought it to him. Using the beast's own momentum against it, Brooklyn tossed it away from himself right into a tree.
The Chupacabra was barely fazed, and the pain in Brooklynís shoulder was telling him that that particular move hadnít been one of his better ideas.
"Demona, some help here!" Brooklyn called out to no avail. The creature's screams not only drowned out his voice, but made Demona suffer and fall to her knees. Brooklyn was more or less on his own.
Die! a voice screamed in his mind as he was attacked again.
This time the creature planned its jump better and knocked Brooklyn to the ground, and it hissed in his face. Its jaws snapped and bit at the gargoyle, its red eyes burning bright in Brooklyn's face.
You must pay for the sorrow you have brought me! the voice cried as the attack continued, the beaked gargoyle barely avoiding the other creature's snapping jaws.
He smashed his right fist straight into the side of the attacker's jaw, with enough force to knock a tooth loose and faze it a little -- but not enough.
The goat sucker continued its primal scream, incapacitating Demona and only slightly bothering Brooklyn. It would later occur to him that the scream should have taken him out, but just now he was more concerned with survival.
Like the Jersey Devil, this ruby eyed thing easily had the strength of a gargoyle, and an even tougher hide. On a good day Brooklyn and Goliath would be hard pressed to win a fight against a beast such as this. As it was, with the Jersey Devil's venom affecting all of Brooklyn's bodily systems, the gargoyle was almost punch drunk, resulting in the battle going rapidly downhill.
The beast leaped at the snow maned gargoyle again, who this time managed to jump out of the way and barely dodge. The Chupacabra skidded for a moment in the grass, turned and leapt at Brooklyn again, very nearly catching him.
The gargoyle gasped for breath. He was almost exhausted already. This could not drag on much longer. The Chupacabra charged this time rather than jumping, and Brooklyn countered with a flying tackle of sorts.
Pinning the feral beast, Brooklyn growled and flared his eyes in anger. Their red light seemed to affect his enemy, as it suddenly stopped struggling and opened its jaw, apparently in shock. His eyes glowed an ever brighter red than his opponent's, and all of his anger and frustration was channeled as he shouted.
"Leave me alone!" While not speaking to the creature's mind as he had done a moment ago, the message was clear and the Chupacabra struggled, perhaps in fear.
The gargoyle in a move of rage and temporary insanity, slashed the creature leaving a nasty wound, and then tried to bite his enemy -- at which point he was kicked off by powerful hind legs to the gut.
Brooklyn hit the ground with a thud, landing flat on his back. He sat up, gasping for air to his bruised lungs, wincing as his diaphragm muscles throbbed. His shoulder was pulsing in pain, and he was covered in new cuts and bruises. But that did not matter anymore as his eyes flared in anger and he rushed the creature again. It took one looked at the snarling face of the gargoyle, then turned tail and ran.
The white-haired gargoyle started to give chase, but his anger could only carry him through his exhaustion, pain, and wounds for so long and he quickly collapsed to the ground, the ruby eyed beast easily outrunning its maddened pursuer.
* * *
He has changed. the creature thought. He is a force to be reckoned with, and he must die for what he has done.
The goat sucker paused for a moment and examined its new wounds. Even hurt as he is, he was able to fight back and display a remarkable amount of anger. He... He frightened me.
Growling a little at the pain, the beast the natives called Chupacabra grew angry. One day he will pay, but not today. I can wait. I have waited this long after all. When I am whole again... That will be the time... Yes...
* * *
Brooklyn opened his eyes sometime later, still exhausted, Demona sitting beside him. She smiled.
"Quite a display you put on. Scared that creature right off."
He smiled weakly at that, he was in no condition to brag. He wished now he had some more disinfectant; he had a few more wounds now that were in serious need of some stone healing. At least his shoulder had not been attacked this time. It still hurt though... After several moments of thinking to himself, he responded to Demona's compliment.
"Thanks." Brooklyn gulped once for air and then looked at her. Evil as she often seemed to be, Demona was pleasant to look at.
She did not mention the fact that his eyes had glowed red, and he did not know himself that they had. Nor did she bother to ask what the creature had been, so the subject went untouched as Demona seemed to take on an innocent tone.
"So what were you going to say earlier before we were interrupted?"
"Wha..?" the chalky-haired male responded weakly.
"I had said something along the lines of you don't hate me just because of that one thing with Goliath, and that there was always something else, and that something seems to be stronger. You began to respond with ĎThe honest answer is...í And then we were interrupted."
"Oh yeah," Brooklyn frowned, looking away, with hardly enough energy to do much else. The moment no longer seemed right to confess to Demona. Despite how nice she was being now, and the fact that in the future she was a changed gargoyle, she was still an enemy to some degree. And yet...
Demona was silent as she waited for an answer.
"I'm not sure I can explain it."
"Try. I want to know why you hate me."
"That's just it, I don't really hate you anymore."
"But you said you did," the red haired female noted as she moved into a more comfortable position.
With a reluctant sigh, Brooklyn stared up at the night sky and saw the millions of stars and the brilliant moon.
"Part of it is, when we were younger, I was attracted to you a bit."
Demona raised one browridge in a questioning manner. It was hard to catch, as it was largely hidden by her golden headpiece.
"Don't misunderstand. You were a whole generation separated from me, and you were after all, Goliath's mate. And I looked up to Goliath and you both."
"I see," the female nodded. "Go on."
"I had a minor crush on you. Of course, I had a minor crush on every female around." He began to chuckle. "Do you know the story of how I treated Maggie Reed and Angela when I first met them?"
The red-haired gargoyle looked a bit concerned at where this was going.
Brooklyn smiled. "I made a total and absolute fool of myself trying to impress them and make them love me. I was in love with the idea of being in love, I think."
"And this concerns your 'hatred' for me how?"
"Well the thing of it is, during the course of my timedances, this has happened a few more times. It genuinely was love a few times, I think. Meryt and Pandora come to mind..."
Demona was silent as Brooklyn rambled.
"But then there's Sata... She's a lovely flower with sword blades for petals... A well-spring that never runs dry but always leaves you thirsty for more."
Demona saw the 'in-love look' on Brooklyn's beak and acknowledged it. "I know the feeling well. Goliath and I used to be like that."
"Hmm." Brooklyn looked away, temporarily thrown off by the mention that Demona was not quite his friend again. Why was he baring his soul to her?
Because he needed to, and in many ways, she was exactly who he needed to be with right now.
"Sata and I were forcibly separated about... Two years or so worth of timedancing ago. I've been horrible company since we departed, especially since I left her right before she laid our eggs..."
The female's eyes widened into a mix of surprise and hatred. "You left her right before a laying?!? But that's..."
Brooklyn sat up and shouted back, "I didn't have a choice, okay? I've hated every second of my life since then and been totally miserable! I want nothing more than to be back with her!"
Demona's quiet tone was a surprising contrast to Brooklyn's now loud and angered voice. "I understand completely. Thatís how I want to be with Goliath again..."
Brooklyn's voice lowered again as took a deep breath and continued, his voice quiet and tears coming forth.
"I just want to be with her again," he sobbed, his voice a shaky mess. "And when I saw you..."
An awkward moment as Brooklyn tried to regain his composure and Demona looked on, not saying a thing, not even a taunt at his moment of weakness.
Catching his breath, and his voice still wobbly, the brick-colored gargoyle continued.
"You were the last female I wanted to see right now. I wanted Sata and I got you. My enemy..."
The blue skinned gargoyle spoke softly. "I'm not your enemy any more. Not if you don't want me to be."
Brooklyn looked into her eyes and saw nothing but sincerity. She had been crying too, but not quite as much. He had not even noticed until now. Demona smiled softly, not the hardened, angry woman he had known.
It was not love by any means, but it was peace. Battered and bruised, but no longer in pain, Brooklyn felt warm all over for some reason, so it was not until the last moment that he began to feel the Phoenix Gate warming. He stood up and stepped away from Demona, not looking back.
"I'm glad I ran into you, Demona," he both smiled and sighed. "But I have to leave now, I can't control when the Gate decides its time to go." He frowned and held the object in front of his face, examining it for the umpteenth time.
Demona nodded but Brooklyn did not see the motion as his back was turned. Thoughts of Sata suddenly came forth and he briefly compared the two females. Both so similar and yet so different... In another time, another place, things might have gone differently between him and Demona. But these thoughts did not linger long as Sata filled his mind and the flames of the Phoenix Gate took him away.
* * *
Time and place unknown
The magical artifact gave Brooklyn a smooth landing for once. As the fires vanished, his feet appeared on solid ground, instead of in the air or underwater or some other annoyance. Looking at the horizon, it was clear it was going to be daylight soon. Another meadow spread out before him, filled with small bushes and wildflowers.
Brooklyn's beak curved into a smile. He was happy for once, he and Demona had finally had it out. He'd had a reasonable timedance landing, the wounds he had received over the last few dances would be healed come daybreak... At this rate, he might get home soon!
Those hopes were suddenly dashed when pain shot through his shoulder. A familiar scream sounded in the background. Brooklyn's eyes burned red, his shoulder throbbed with its magical infection, his teeth clenched in pain and his sanity started to slip.
"Oh no... Not again..."
This creature slowly lumbered up to Brooklyn. It was big. Not as big as Crawfordsville Monster by any means, but larger than the Mothman. All in all it looked to be about eight feet in height, and could only be described as a big bird.
Locals were already calling it just that in fact, but Brooklyn had no way of knowing this as he growled.
"Back off! I'm getting sick of red eyed things! Go away!"
A voice spoke into his mind. Not quite the same voice the others had possessed, but similar.
The gargoyle went into an angry defensive stance. Ready to run, ready to attack. Currently a bit more prone to attack as his blood boiled with some instinct that was not his own. "Must die. Yeah, I know this part already. I've already been attacked by quite a few of your buddies, thank you very much!"
The creature did not understand his words, but continued to approach.
Brooklyn arched a brow. "Help?"
We... Are dying...
It was with that thought that the first rays of sunlight hit the gargoyle and he turned to stone.
* * *
With a roaring yawn as the sun went down, the white haired gargoyle awoke. And he immediately saw a familiar face. An unwanted familiar face.
"Payne!" he growled, eyes going bright red in anger.
"That is my name..." the scientist smiled. But the smile was wider than Payne had ever smiled in all his nights with the gargoyle. Something was wrong... The world was not quite right. Colors were swirling around him...
"What are you doing here Payne?"
"Brooklyn my friend, you've gone insane.
Seems something is wrong with your brain.
I'm not here, and neither are you.
Yet still you suffer Payne that's new."
Brooklyn paused, confused. "You're speaking in riddle and rhyme..."
Payne smirked and leaned on his hands.
"Because you've gone nuts lost in time.
I find it funny, Timedancer,
You think of me. Instead of her.
It says something about your mind,
You want Sata who's sweet and kind.
Yet still you conjure little old me,
Something is wrong here, don't you see?"
"You are dreaming." Payne smirked as he began to fly upside down.
Brooklyn's mouth gaped. "Why am I dreaming about this? Is it the creatures I've kept running into?"
The annoyance that was Isaac Payne went into verse again.
"The ruby eyed beasts are involved,
Quite a problem that must be solved."
"Who are they? What am I meeting them?"
"And why should I know? Tell me that.
This is your dream, you time-brat."
Payne swam through midair like it was water. Clearly this was indeed a dream, and a screwy one at that.
Brooklyn snarled. "You're not like Payne, youíre more like Puck..."
"Does that make you want to say..."
"Payne!" Brooklyn shouted.
"Yeeeeeees?" the nightmare slowly turned and grinned.
"Why this now? I don't dream like this!"
"Because of Sata, whom you miss." The doctor rhymed, and then continued.
"Normally your life is a mess,
Now you suffer a lot of stress.
No children and no loving mate,
You seem cursed to an awful fate.
Add in two years of frustration,
With no chance for relaxation,
Then mingle in a wounded arm,
And beasts that mean to do you harm,
Just that alone could be the scheme,
Conspiring to make you dream."
"But why am I imagining you?"
Payne's form suddenly shifted to that of Xanatos in exo-armor, and the voice changed with it. Around him the world shifted from the flowing dreamy colors to Manhattan's scenery. With a wave of his hand, a stone statue of Goliath appeared , arms akimbo and towering over Brooklyn. Brooklyn stood in the statue's shadow. The rhyme continued.
"Because back home you have been gone,
Twenty years is so very, very long.
Think of Goliath, your leader
Only your age, what could be neater?"
This gave Brooklyn pause to think. If he ever did get back to Manhattan, he would have aged so much no matter when he got back to them... Things would be so different... He had never thought of that before. No, he had, this was his dream, everything being said was of his own thoughts...
Xanatos waved his hand again, and stone statues of the rest of the clan appeared, and he continued singing.
Lexington's statue was in his normal attack pose, glider wings outstretched.
"Think of Lexington, your best friend,
His a friendship that should not end,
Yet with you older and with a wife,
He will not fit your social life."
The statue of Goliath's daughter was in a loving embrace with Broadway.
"Broadway and Angela, how cute,
Their love you did try to dispute,
When you left you felt you loved her,
This hurt your rookery brother."
The next set of statues displayed the remaining members of the clan.
"Hudson and Bronx..." Xanatos' dream self began.
Brooklyn yelled in protest. "Shut up! This is just a nightmare! They are my family! They miss me and I miss them! I will get back to them!"
The image of Xanatos vanished, and a voice came from behind Brooklyn.
"Which family?" came a woman's voice.
The beaked gargoyle turned in his own dream as the Manhattan scenery disappeared and was replaced with utter darkness.
"Sata!" Brooklyn ran to the one he loved and tried to hug her. His arms went right through her. His eyes widened in horror.
"You can not have it both ways Brooklyn-san," the jade female said flatly. "The Phoenix Gate may take you back to Manhattan. But if it does, which year will it take you to? If it takes you to when you left, you shall never see me again. And if it takes you back to me, you will never see them again."
A sledgehammer suddenly appeared in Brooklyn's hands, and Sata turned to stone. The red male gasped briefly, unsure of where this dream was going.
Suddenly, the blackness was engulfed in flame, and the Phoenix Gate appeared, larger than life and twice Brooklyn's size. The fire bird emblazoned on the front seemed to speak.
"Wha? I can't choose between them..."
"What about the ruby eyed things? I gotta find out what the..."
"CHOOSE," the bird repeated, starting to sound angry.
"I can't!" Brooklyn gasped.
"CHOOSE!" the Gate seemed to scream.
And so, with one swing of the hammer, tears flowing, Brooklyn brought the sledgehammer right through Goliath, then Lexington, and then the rest. Blow after blow, he crushed them.
"Please..." he begged, down on his knees. "Just send me back to Sata..."
Laughter came from behind him. He turned again, and saw Payne once more. Payne continued laughing, then sang a familiar line.
"If we shadows have offended,
Think but this and all is mended..."
Payne then began to let his eyes glow blue as they had in Pompeii when he had developed his strange ice powers.
"No!" Brooklyn shouted, suddenly afraid. Then, Payne transformed again, not into Xanatos, but into Puck... No, not Puck, but similar. The white haired being that inhabited the Gate. The face he had only seen once.
The Unseelie smiled. "Remember, Timedancer....
You have but slumbered here,
While these visions did appear."
Then, Loki vanished, to be replaced only briefly by the face of the woman Brooklyn had seen from time to time since he started running into the ruby eyed creatures. Here face then twisted a final time. Her eyes began to glow, and that unbearable scream came back anew...
* * *
Brooklyn cracked out of his stone slumber, the scream still going. He panted and gasped for breath, that horrible dream had lasted the entire night...
Coming to his senses, he quickly checked his body. Most of the cuts and bruises he had received over the last couple of dances were healed, except for his shoulder, which was still infected, but not really hurting at the moment. His bandage had been shredded when he woke up, and he was out of disinfectant. There was little he could do about the wound.
He gasped, trying to visualize the dream again. It was all so vivid. Like the fever dream of being born only a dance or two ago...
And then he saw it, the big bird he had seen before falling asleep. This creature was different than the others somehow, weaker and more drained.
Help us... the creature began.
Brooklyn looked at it. If he could solve the mystery of these red eyed creatures, that would be one last thing on his mind. Still trying to shake off the dream, he tried to ask. What is the problem?
We are dying.
"We?" he asked aloud, losing concentration, and making it impossible for the creature to understand. The gargoyle was about to ask more and try to get some answers when he felt a familiar warmth.
He glanced at the pouch that held the Phoenix Gate and screamed. "No, not..."
The fire took him away.
* * *
"Now!" he finished all too late.
Brooklyn gasped, for some reason out of breath, and then cried out in agony. His magically infected shoulder wound was bubbling, something it had not done before. His hand clasped the wound to no avail, the wound was burning hot, and he immediately had to pull his hand away.
A gargoyle scream filled the night air, and his eyes flared red. A similar scream came back at him, it was the scream of the creatures. There was another one here, in...
"Manhattan..." Brooklyn gasped, suddenly aware of where he was. His eyes faded to normal for a moment.
"I'm home..." Then, without warning, his shoulder began to ache even more, and he screamed again.
"No... This can't be Manhattan. I'm still dreaming... And itís not the right time anyway. This isn't 2158..." His breathing quickened and he growled fiercely as a voice came to him.
You again... It was the same voice as all the rest, but it was weak. Brooklyn saw the sixth ruby-eyed creature. This one was not very tall, but long. It resembled an alligator with wings more than anything else. It was breathing hard, apparently in pain similar to Brooklyn's own.
Brooklyn growled and his eyes glowed red. "Leave me be..." his throat let loose in a guttural way.
Then, he just snapped. The stress of coming home, but it could not be home... His wound and the opposing creature, added in with his dream, drove the gargoyle to the brink of insanity.
He leapt at the alligator and slashed at it with his claws. He left a mark which the creature shrieked at. But the scream of pain did not stop the gargoyle, he clawed and bit at the beast in an insane frenzy. The battle was sorely mismatched.
Brooklyn's insanity and natural gargoyle strength were too much for the beast, which had clearly been weakened by something. It fought back though, snapping and scratching, opening up cuts and wounds.
The snow-maned gargoyle's shoulder pained him, but pain no longer mattered. All that mattered was that the ruby eyed beast must be destroyed so it would stop coming to him!
The beast realized quickly that it was losing and that the Timedancer did not care about being hurt now. With a fast and furious tail swipe, it knocked Brooklyn to the ground, and ran, itself hurt and wounded more than it had imagined possible.
The crazed one was almost immediately back up on his feet. "Don't you run from me!" Eyes glowing a fierce red, he dashed after the beast.
The chase quickly went out into the street, the alligator running on all fours, leaping over cars and anything else in its way to escape. Brooklyn bounded after it in hot pursuit.
Margot Yale gasped and was more than a little annoyed as she heard two separate 'thuds' hit the roof of her car, and saw the dent form. He car insurance had been murder lately with all the "accidents" she had been in. But before she could even investigate, the creatures were gone.
Citizens saw what was going on, and several calls were phoned in to the Quarrymen.
The chase continued. Brooklyn would have caught the creature, except in his current state, things were a bit hard to follow. Flashing lights, noises, and everything else that had been familiar once now only caused him to pause and look around, breathing hard.
His eyes lost their red glare as ungrounded fears flooded him. "Too loud... Too bright..." His breathing quickened and the insane gargoyle became frightened, terrified, and then angered.
"Aaarggg! Stop it!" he howled into the night air scaring more than a few people. His eyes flashed back to red, and he resumed his pursuit of the creature.
The alligator was scared by this new, but familiar, enemy -- and it was dying -- it was in a bad position. It ran towards home, having gained some distance from Brooklyn's temporary distraction. And so the chase went, car hopping and dodging, fast and furious down across several streets.
Any other time, and Brooklyn might have stopped to note what happened at a store he ran past. Yet in his current mode, the gargoyle totally missed the brown haired man who bore a striking resemblance to a young woman he had met on one of his other time dances.
Even less important to Brooklyn at the time was the fact that the man was clutching an airline ticket and baggage, and staring at a lottery ticket. The man was comparing the piece of paper to a television screen playing something in a street window.
"Hey, I got four numbers! That's like five thousand bucks! Would ya believe it?"
The fierce gargoyle began to close in on the green, ruby-eyed beast when the creature finally sought what it had been looking for. Rushing, it closed its wings around itself and squeezed through a large drain, and for the moment, vanished.
"There really are alligators in the sewers..." Brooklyn grumbled, his insane determination not wanting something like a stupid sewer to stop him from finding the creature. His shoulder bubbled far worse than before, and pain coursed through his entire body, but he hardly noticed now.
The red one searched for a way to go after the creature as he would not fit through the drain as it had. Brooklyn would have found a way eventually if not for a sudden pain in his back, different from everything else he was feeling.
He spun around and growled, pulling out the electric tazer that had been fired by the Quarryman.
His eyes burned a brighter red as his anger increased and he leapt at the navy-blue clothed attacker. There were several other Quarrymen, but they did not matter. The gargoyle delivered a mighty punch to his enemy's head and sent him reeling, and then turned his attention to the rest.
"Get him, Quarrymen! This one has already been injured!" yelled someone under a hood.
Brooklyn lunged in another one, toppling them to the ground. He growled in their faces and nearly blinded them as his eyes flared to an incredible bright red intensity.
They ganged up on him and used their hammers to strike several blows. The feral beaked gargoyle barely felt the hammers, though later the cracked ribs would make themselves known.
He toppled each and every one of the Quarrymen, but did not linger to do more. He arched his head in the air, and sniffed. For some reason, his nose was now keener than before, or at the very least, it was able to pick up this particular scent for the first time.
Brooklyn rushed off towards where he knew the alligator creature would be.
He ended up in a dead end corner, with several Quarrymen right behind him. Then with no warning, the Phoenix Gate took him away, leaving the hoodlums wondering where he had gone. They stopped wondering a moment later when Angela, Broadway and a much younger Brooklyn arrived to investigate the disturbance.
* * *
New Jersey, Time Unknown
Brooklyn appeared and hissed as he was overwhelmed in the scent of the creatures. He was inside a room with walls made of wood and stone. Very old wood and stone. And the sense of the ruby-eyed creatures around him was very strong.
Even is his now limited mental state, he soon understood why. Five of the creatures were there. The Jersey Devil, the giant Crawfordsville Monster, the Chupacabra, the Big Bird, and even the sewer alligator he had seen only moments before.
Brooklyn growled and his eyes burned more intensely. He felt like this was not all of them, but he could not remember what was what. The creatures had him trapped in a circle, and the Crawfordsville creature's sheer size made it formidable. Yet, they did not attack.
They were sick. Dying. Brooklyn did not care. He leapt at the Chupacabra and slashed at it, the blow leaving a clear mark. The creature screamed and fell to the floor. It growled and its own eyes burned a fierce red that matched Brooklyn's. It got up and attacked him.
With a swift swipe the gargoyle knocked the creature aside with his left arm, but at a cost. His wound opened once again and the pain flared. He winced and grabbed his shoulder, pain once again starting to register.
The crimson eyes of the Jersey Devil flashed as it rammed his chest and chomped down right into his shoulder, where he was most wounded and vulnerable. Brooklyn tried to shake the raptor-like thing off, but to no avail. He heard and felt something break in his shoulder, and suddenly his arm was useless.
In a sudden surge of adrenaline followed by the rush he had been suffering for hours, the white maned gargoyle managed to pry the thing off and knock it away and out.
Gargoyle and unnatural creatures alike growled and blared red eyes.
You die! came the voice of one, seemingly, the Chupacabra, who was up on him again.
Brooklyn was knocked to the floor and winded. His ribs ached; some of them were probably broken too. With a fierce kick, he knocked the creature away and into a wall. It was far weaker than it had been the first time, and Brooklyn was far angrier and crazed.
The gargoyle continued to growl, and stared at the others. He was more than ready to fight them all, still not thinking straight and the pain not quite registering. Yet with the Chupacabra and Jersey Devil down, the others did not move.
The image of that woman's face came to him again and he froze. Where had he seen her before?
One of the creatures shouted, which one Brooklyn could not tell.. Stop it!
The advice was unneeded; the gargoyle was too exhausted and wounded to do anymore. He collapsed to the floor. His eyes closed but did not lose their red glow. He was defeated.
He must be destroyed for what he has done! one cried. The Jersey Devil?
Another one chimed in. After what he has cost us, he deserves no less! Chupacabra, Brooklyn thought.
A calmer voice. Crawfordsville Monster. Look at him. He is beaten as badly as we are. He is dying, we are dying.
When I watched his dreams, he seemed troubled but not spiteful enough to do this to us. Big Bird?
"What's...going on?" Brooklyn managed to let out.
The creatures heard him but did not understand. He tried thinking it. What's going on?
He is becoming one of us by this point...
He might be the key...
He must pay!
Look at his wound. His blood boils like ours. His eyes glow like ours. He dies as we do.
Thoughts raced back and forth, to the point where it was clear that each beast had a different personality. Some were quiet and held back, others angry and bitter, and more. There was really no time to pick them out and learn about them though, Brooklyn had little energy and no idea how far off sunrise was.
"What...?" He caught himself. What is going on?
One of the calmer voices came forth. That is a story that is very old and goes a long way back.
The gargoyle gasped for air and smiled weakly."I'm not going anywhere..." He tried to joke, the words again lost on the creatures.
It began about 300 turns of the season ago... As the creature spoke, images came to the gargoyle, like memories.
A woman named Leeds lived in Jersey. With this, Brooklyn saw the woman's face, for the first time totally clearly and he knew her...
She was a sorceress. She used magic to try and create a creature to do her bidding. What that bidding would be, I do not know. But still, she set about casting a spell.
At this point, somewhat familiar images began to come forth.
The first thing I remember, is being born. A blue light brought me into existence and I saw the Leeds woman, my mother, for the first time. But as I was being born, something happened. A great ball of fire appeared...
The Phoenix Gate! Brooklyn thought automatically in response.
It hurt me... And since I was only then being created, the magic affected the spell being used to create me. The spell was twisted, and I was broken. Into how many pieces, I am not sure. Still, I was broken, and spread around the country. Different parts took on traits of the one who had inhabited the flame...
Thinking about it, Brooklyn suddenly realized that the creatures did bear a certain resemblance to him. And in other cases, a bit of Sata too. If these creatures had really come from his thoughts, that would explain a lot...
However, once the spell was completed, none of the pieces could remember how we were originally or where we had come from. We had no idea of where to go or what to do. Yet every piece has known you instinctively as our father of sorts...
That gave the gargoyle a moment of pause, but the creature continued.
The reactions of some were to just attack you in vengeance for pain you had caused. We did not know what pain, but that you had caused it and because of you that we were not whole. Others barely reacted, like the one that died. Despite meeting you though, the pieces did not remember to come back together. So, we settled into where we were, and some did different things. Most of us protected the area we were in, one terrorized, others just hid. Our personalities stemmed from you.... And then, roughly 60 turns of the season ago, something happened.
There was an unbearable scream of agony shared between us as one of our number died.
"The Mothman!" Brooklyn realized, suddenly knowing which creature was missing.
Then, those of us who had already met you began to gather and come together where we were born, and we waited for the rest. it was only recently that the last one came...
An image of the alligator looking creature came to Brooklyn's mind.
And we tried to come back together into one creature, to be whole again. But we could not.
"Why?" Brooklyn corrected himself. Why?
An entire piece of us was gone. And you were not helping. When you first encountered the "Jersey Devil" some of his blood went into you and began to spread. As you have come across each piece, a part of that piece has naturally been absorbed into you.
So I have a part of you that you need?
You have a part of each of us. And you have part of our lost member as well. You may be our only chance to become whole again.
Why should I let you? Leeds created you for something specific, she might have had bad things in mind to use you for. Brooklyn retorted, his mind barely keeping up with all of this.
You are responsible. You caused the accident that split us, you are our "father", and if you do not, our essence will continue to consume your body until there is nothing left.
Then I suppose I have no choice. I'll do it. But let it wait until tomorrow night. After a morning's healing, I'll be better prepared for whatever is needed.
NO! all five voices shouted in unison.
Why not? the gargoyle asked.
We are dying. We might not have survived until the morning anyway. With your presence here to hurt us and steal more of our essence, we will surely die and then all will be lost.
All right, Brooklyn winced in preparation. Let's do it then.
There was no telling how much time passed in the next moment. It might have been seconds, it might have been hours, but Brooklyn felt energy flowing in and out of him. He was on his knees with opened eyes, watching as the creatures began to become one. Energy crackled and the room filled with unnatural blue lightning.
What they would look like when they were one remained to be seen. For a moment it occurred to Brooklyn that these things might still intend to kill him when all was said and done.
He hoped not.
Dawn fast approached, and the joining was almost done. The snow-haired gargoyle could feel his anger and frustration falling away from him. His eyes had been glowing red for several hours, but they had began to glow white again as the process neared its end.
As the magic that was the ruby-eyed beasts left his body, Brooklyn suddenly began to feel in full the pain of the last few days. His shoulder was shot and in agony. Ribs and bones in his arms were broken. Muscles were sore and pulled. Loss of blood and overuse of adrenaline suddenly caught up with him and the gargoyle felt very tired. He hurt, he just wanted to sleep and heal...
Ignoring the hurts of his body, Brooklyn briefly saw a vision of the Mothman, but his thoughts turned to and lingered on Sata.
He could see her loving smile, her shining eyes, her wonderful jade complexion... Could almost hear her whisper "Brooklyn-san..."
And just moments before the creature had fully come back together, the sun rose. Brooklyn turned to stone, and did not hear the pained scream.
* * *
When the gargoyle awoke, it was not with a roaring yawn or stretching. The cracking began around the eyes, which emanated simple glowing white light. The stone skin fell away gently, and Brooklyn was at peace. His ribs felt better. Not quite totally healed, but better.
Without even looking at his shoulder, he knew it was much better, the magical infection gone. There was a faint scar that would never fade completely, and his shoulder was sore and pained. It might never work quite right again after all the abuse it had taken in the last few days, but only time and stone sleep would tell.
Silent and contemplative, Brooklyn looked at where the creatures had existed. They were gone now. He briefly wondered if the merging had worked or not.
Silent, the beaked gargoyle pulled the Phoenix Gate out of its pouch and whispered.
"Please. Take me home."
The phoenix fires flared and the Timedancer vanished.