"All the Empty Places"
Written by Alan Coleman Waltrip
Story by Alan Coleman Waltrip
Artwork by Revel
May 22, 2171. Egypt.
His true name was Harthoth, but most of his associates knew him as the human: James Harthesen. Only a few knew of his true identity, and he felt he had done an excellent job over the years in keeping it a secret. As he sat in his office, his human guise covering his appearance, Harthoth knew that someone was watching over him.
"You really should learn to knock," he said, not looking up from the extensive amount of paperwork that had pilled on his desk in the past week. As one of the four most socially and economically powerful people in the world, he could have employees do these things for him, but there was something about doing the work himself that pleased him. For eight thousand years, he had served one master, and he had worked towards one goal. But that goal was drawing closer, and doing menial tasks such as signing sales reports or approving a go-ahead for a new scientific development helped him get through the day.
While he had everything a living soul could want, he longed for death most of all.
"I apologize, old friend. Are you busy?" a female voice asked him. Harthoth looked up, and surprise filled his face. He always dreaded the visits from Isfet, his partner in serving the Dark One. She questioned his ways, and Harthoth feared that one day she might rebel again him once and for all. But the figure that stood in front of him was not a dragon, but a beautiful female gargoyle.
"Meryt?" Harthoth asked, as a way of greeting. As he stood, a transparent shimmer flowed over his body, and his natural form of a black and gold gargoyle stood in the air-conditioned office. He walked over to the door and embraced his old friend. Meryt hugged back, once arm still grasping on to the small bag at her side. "It's been too long," he told her.
Meryt nodded, staring into Harthoth's eyes. They still had the same soul in them, a soul that was kind and loving, but caught in a deal that he could not escape from. "So long that I don't even know the years," she informed him. "We were still in the twentieth century, I think."
Harthoth smiled, and ushered her into one of his office chairs. Sitting on the armrest, he asked her, "Is there a reason why you're here?"
"There's something going on, Harthoth," Meryt said. "Both of us," she stammered, "we have magic in our veins. You know this. It's why we're still walking the earth. Even though I've never called on the magic inside me, it's telling me that something is going on. You're the only logical choice."
Harthoth nodded, and stood from the chair's armrest. He walked over to his window and looked out at the skyline. The sun was still in the sky, and he longed for the days when his body turned to stone with its presence. While modern biology had shown him that it wasn't the sun that turned him to stone, but the cycles of the earth around the sun, he still longed for those days of friendship and service.
"You are as observant as ever, Meryt," he told her. "Yes, there is something going on, but you know that I can not reveal my plans to you."
"I know. But I thought that I could "
" Stop it?" Harthoth finished for her.
"Not stop it, but... something."
"You don't have to worry about it, my friend," Harthoth told her pleasingly. "I'm doing it for my freedom. For our freedom. Don't you want to be free, Meryt?"
"Not at the expense of innocent people's lives," Meryt told him quickly.
"No deaths. Not by my hand. There will be a period of darkness for everyone, but in the end, we will get what we both want."
"And what is that?" Meryt asked.
Meryt simply nodded. Harthoth motioned his hand towards the door. "Would you care for a tour of my facilities? It has changed significantly since the last time you were here."
The female gargoyle stood. "I'm sure it has. I would love a tour."
Harthoth waved his hand, and the same transparent shimmer washed over him. Meryt saw the human guise of James Harthesen. She gave him an awkward look, and Harthoth smiled at her. "It is simply for the image, my dear. The twenty-third century is upon us. No one will care if they see us together. But none of my employees know my true nature. Now," he opened the door, "we have a lot of catching up to do. Let me tell you what has happened since the last time we met..."
Harthoth and Meryt walked out into the halls of Black Circle Industries. No one cared about the presence of a gargoyle within his or her work place, but the fact that she walked with their boss, the most powerful man in Egypt, raised a few eyebrows here and there. Harthoth didn't care, though. Being with Meryt had been the first amount of happiness he had been allowed himself to have in a while, at least at work, anyways.
* * * * *
Graeme gave a small gurgle as his mother laid him down on a soft bed with his sister. Sata ran her hand over his face and smiled at the similarities between both of her children and their father. Their father was on patrol, trying to be as much a part of this clan as possible. He had only been living in this time period for two years, and still felt the need to carry his weight, plus the weight of twenty other gargoyles double his size. Artus, with his sweet and caring tone, had let her know long ago that she would always be a part of this clan, as would Brooklyn. While she was sure the leader of the Manhattan clan had told Brooklyn the same once he had settled down a bit in this time period, her husband was not the type to bow down to the submission of child care. Neither are you, Sata told herself, as Ariana finally drifted off into a restful sleep. But someone had to take care of their children. Brooklyn was nowhere near a bad father, but even after a little over two years, he was still trying to settle in to this strange new world.
In her former homeland, hatchlings were the responsibility of the entire clan. The clan was your father, and the clan was your mother. From what Sata knew of Brooklyn's life before her, his upbringing had been the same. Neither of them had known their mother or father as their parents. Maybe interacting with different cultures for a significant amount of time had changed these views, and that was why both Brooklyn and Sata had chosen to raise their children on their own. She had been offered help by countless number of clan members who took care of others' children, whether by choice or accident, but Sata had denied all of it. Graeme and Ariana were her children, and she would raise them with the love and support of her husband.
She felt the presence in her and Brooklyn's room as she did every month, usually sometime in the last two weeks. Harthoth might not have been the most consistent visitor in the world, but he was loyal about it. She turned from her child, expecting to see her husband's former friend and enemy, as she did every month. Instead, the dragon Isfet stood before her.
"He couldn't make it himself?" she asked, moving to the side and folding some clothes.
"He is currently indisposed," Isfet told her, looking at the children in their bed. She reached her hand inside and graced Ariana's forehead. Sleeping, the child did not move.
The edge of Sata's sword was immediately at Isfet's throat. "I may be older and a bit wiser than I was when we first met, but touch either of my children again and I will have your head."
Isfet pulled back her hand. "My apologies, samurai."
Sata sheathed her blade.
"Why are you here?" the samurai asked. "Harthoth always visits himself."
"Your presence has been requested in Cairo," Isfet told her simply.
"You know that I do not have the time for trips of that magnitude," Sata said.
"You have made the time in the past, samurai," the dragon replied, her voice becoming harsh. "We will work around your constraints. You will come to Egypt as he has requested."
Sata turned her attention back to her sleeping children. The gargoyle remained silent. "See you soon," Isfet said as her presence disappeared from her quarters. Sata took Ariana's small hand in her own. Sighing, she walked out of the room and into the halls of the Eyrie Building.
* * * * *
"Are patrols normally this boring?" Samson asked as he, Brooklyn, and Persephone glided over an inactive part of Manhattan. Brooklyn smiled, and looked to Persephone for the answer.
"It's not necessarily a bad thing," Persephone told the younger gargoyle. Samson was still in training to get his patrol license, and it required him to go on patrol with an experienced member of the clan at least twice a month. His training had started about a month before Brooklyn had come back, and he had been going with Persephone most of the time. When Brooklyn returned, Samson's idolatry had switched to the Timedancer, and Persephone didn't mind. Brooklyn was his hero, and Persephone thought it was sweet that he would spend time with his nephew.
"Nights can go by with nothing happening," Brooklyn filled in. "It usually means something big is about to happen."
"Cool," Samson said. He longed for the night when he turned thirty-six, or eighteen in gargoyle years, when he could finally go out on patrol on his own. While it wasn't traditionally Artus' policy to send clan members out to patrol on their own, he hoped his brother would make an exception. He had been training for almost four years, and he had about two more to go. It was true the humans had allowed them to go on patrol, to essentially become a police force of their own, but one hundred years after the fact, they still seemed to be hesitant about it. The clan had to report all crimes to the police department, and clan members had to go through six years of supervised patrol. It seemed that while their help might have been welcomed, they were constantly being watched.
"You want a big fight?" Brooklyn asked, bringing Samson away from his thoughts.
"Some action would be nice. I don't want to go through years of training just to be able to fly around at night and look at things," Samson admitted.
"You're not looking at things," Persephone told him, trying to be as much as a teacher as she could. Samson was her brother-in-law, and she would hate to put a rift between them because of something she might have said. But she was also the second-in-command of the Manhattan clan, a role that overshadowed that of family. "You have to be constantly alert. Just because things look quiet, doesn't mean that they really are. A gargoyle can no more stop "
"Yeah, I've heard it before," Samson informed the clan's second-in-command.
Brooklyn actually found himself laughing. If he had a nickel for every time Hudson or Goliath had told him that phrase during his training to become a warrior, he'd be as wealthy as Alex.
"Don't cut me off like that, Samson," Persephone said, again trying to be as much of a leader as she could.
"Sorry," Samson apologized.
The explosion startled all of their nerves, and the bright flash of light actually blinded Brooklyn for a few seconds. When he got his sight back, he saw that Persephone and Samson had landed on a nearby rooftop. He joined them, and looked to the second-in-command for instructions.
"I think it came from Central Park," she informed them, pointing in the general direction of the park, which now took up a large part of the old city. "Brooklyn, come with me and we'll check it out. Samson, stay here. We'll meet back up with you later."
"But " Samson protested.
Persephone shot him a glance that made even Brooklyn's skin jump a little. "Let's go," she said to Brooklyn, and the two leaped off the building and into the night.
"Fine," Samson said, settling himself onto the rooftop. He sat in a meditative stance Sata had taught him a few months before. It was supposed to help him channel his anger and disappointment, but Samson didn't think it had helped him very much. Sata had told him that it took practice, and he should try it every time he had the chance. Samson closed his eyes and began to clear his mind.
* * * * *
Central Park was less than a mile away. Brooklyn hadn't had the chance to visit the new sections of the park, those that had been built after the Great Quake of 2064. He found most of it very beautiful, remembering those quiet nights back in his own time. They were lead to source of the explosion by the scorched treetops.
Brooklyn and Persephone landed and saw the bodies at the same time. They were human, lying on their stomachs. Brooklyn checked one of the body's pulse. Nothing.
"He's dead," he informed Persephone. She simply nodded, turning to one of the other bodies. She counted five in all, and sighed from the loss of life.
"This one's alive," Brooklyn yelled, and she ran to him. A woman lay on the group, clearly unconscious from whatever had happened to them. The two gargoyles checked the other bodies, finding one more person, a young twenty-something man, still alive. The rest had sustained too much trauma to go on living.
"None of them have any signs of physical damage," Brooklyn said. "It's like they just dropped out of the sky."
"That might be the case," Persephone told him.
"What do you mean?"
"If done correctly, any of my clan, the Avalon clan, that is, can be trained to sense the aftereffects of most spells. Magic leaves a kind of trace signature after it's gone. You and Sata have it all over you. Angela taught me how to do it soon after the draining occurred. These people were touched by magic."
"You can sense that?" Brooklyn asked. "That's amazing."
"Plus there are the burnt treetops. If I had to guess, I'd say someone tried to transport these people here. For what reason, I don't know."
"The Gate," Brooklyn said.
"The Phoenix Gate transports matter with fire."
"But it doesn't burn. It's never burnt anything."
Brooklyn nodded. "When Payne attempted to recreate the Gate's time travel qualities, he used artificial means," he said, thinking back to that time, when Sata was still pregnant. "Maybe this is something similar."
"We should call this in," Persephone said, pulling out a communicator out from her pocket. Brooklyn still found the way gargoyles dressed in this time period a bit off. While he himself had donned armor that he had found very comfortable and maneuverable, the warrior garb of the twenty-third century was still a mystery to him. Persephone wore pants and a shirt, almost so that she dressed like a human.
"This is Gargoyle Patrol number 4-A," he heard Persephone say. "We have three D.O.A.s and two heavily injured humans on the south end of Central Park. Request help as soon as possible."
Brooklyn heard the voice come back. "We hear you Patrol 4-A. We'll send somebody out now. They should arrive in about ten minutes." They severed the connection.
Persephone walked back over to Brooklyn and one of the humans who was still alive. She was young, probably no more than eighteen years. Her skin had gone pale. "It's a shame," she said.
"Could they have been drained, like Anna?" Brooklyn asked, grasping at whatever leads he had.
"I doubt it. That made people weak. It didn't kill them. Not until long after. And these are humans. Besides, this isn't human or even dragon magic, it's fay."
Brooklyn raised his brow ridges. "How can you tell?" he asked.
"Each magic is just... different. It's hard to explain," Persephone told him.
They both heard sirens approaching, and soon three ambulances and half a dozen squad cars greeted them. Both Persephone and Brooklyn were met with a minimal amount of respect. Brooklyn made eye contact with one officer, who made a face and went on with his work.
"We can take it over from here," a female voice told them. Brooklyn saw a medium built woman in her forties coming towards them. She was dressed in a professional looking suit, nothing like what Elisa used to wear. Bracing himself for some type of lecture from the officer, he was surprised when the woman and Persephone embraced.
"It's good to see you again," Persephone said. She turned to Brooklyn. "This is Detective Majandra Richardson," she informed him.
"It's nice to meet you," she said, extending her hand. Smiling, Brooklyn took it and shook.
"Same here," he told her.
"Majandra and I met when we first came here," Persephone told him.
"That was, um, a long time ago," Majandra said to Persephone, a joking tone in her voice.
Persephone smiled and hit her friend lightly on the arm. "I'm going to be the chief detective on this case. Any help you guys can offer would be appreciated," Majandra said.
"Why?" Persephone asked her.
"We're going to need as much manpower as we can for this case," Majandra told them.
"Case?" Brooklyn asked, bewildered. "This just happened not half an hour ago." He motioned towards the ambulance driver helping one of the victims. Both victims still seemed to be unconscious.
"You don't know?" Majandra asked, surprised. Both Brooklyn and Persephone gave her a confused look. "This is the third time this has happened this month."
* * * * *
Meryt walked with Harthoth, in his human guise, and she wondered what exactly she was doing here. She wanted answers, and considering that she couldn't leave Cairo, Harthoth was the only person she could come to. The stories her old friend was telling her was quite interesting, though, and hearing them was reason enough for her to be here.
"I'm happy for you," Meryt told him, truly meaning it. "Will I ever get to meet her?" she asked.
"All in good time, my friend. All in good time," he answered.
"I look forward to it."
The two continued to walk the halls of Harthoth's business. Meryt was quite impressed with what he had been able to set up. Without the use of magic, Harthoth's personality of James Harthesen had become one of the four most powerful people in the world, at least economically. The other three, she knew, had their businesses located in New York. Harthoth always liked to stay close to home, even after eight thousand years.
She found herself back in Harthoth's office, where he closed the door behind her and once again dropped the magical guise around him. She smiled at her friend's true image.
"You know that if people get hurt," she told him, "especially people we both care about, I'll have to come after you personally. I won't hesitate to take action."
"I would not expect anything less from you, Meryt."
The golden gargoyle turned and looked at a painting hanging on the wall. It was beautiful, a landscape of their home in ancient Unnu, something no one had been able to recreate. "Did you paint this?" she asked him
"Not exactly," she heard him say. Meryt continued looking at the painting. It was amazingly accurate. "I had some input, though. The name of the artist escapes me at the moment. I had that done in the late 1980s, when I thought that my memories might be lacking in some areas."
"It's beautiful," she told him. When she heard the click come from behind her, she decided not to do anything. Eight thousand years she had walked through this city, the only excitement coming when Cairo's borders were extended. Sometimes through wars, but most of the time through diplomatic treaties, but it always meant that she could see something new, even if it was more of the desert.
The borders of Cairo hadn't grown in a long time.
The sun has gotten old after all this time.
She longed for pure darkness, if only for a moment.
One question did cross her mind. Why hadn't she thought of this when she came? She had consulted Harthoth for answers, and she never considered that he might have had an ultimate agenda. But of course he did. Harthoth always had an ultimate agenda.
The shot did not hurt, but she turned around to look at his face one more time. With nothing else, she lunged forward, trying to take him out with her. But she was already weak, the drug coursing through what passed as veins in her body. It had to be magic of some type, because her body was no longer her own.
Harthoth knocked her down gently, not hurting her at all. "I'm sorry, old friend," she heard him say as she closed her eyes and gave in to the drugs. At least he had apologized. She wouldn't hold it against him, though, not if it was for their freedom.
Maybe he simply understood that she wanted to see the darkness.
* * * * *
Brooklyn and Persephone watched the emergency medical team as they lifted the last surviving victim into the ambulance. Sighing, Brooklyn turned back around to Detective Richardson, who was one of the first humans he had met outside of the Eyrie Building in the two and a half years he had been back in Manhattan. He didn't see any point in getting more involved in this time period than he had to.
"We don't know what's going on with these... deposits," Majandra had told them. "They've all taken place in Central Park. There's an explosion, or a flash, as some witnesses have described it, and five people are left behind. It's always five people. Those that survive are crazy. They speak in riddles and gibberish. None of our linguistic experts can understand them, much less get them to tell us what happened to them."
"It's just so... odd," Brooklyn said. Majandra simply nodded.
"I'll do the paperwork as soon as I get back to the station," the detective said.
Brooklyn looked at Persephone, clearly confused, and mouthed, Paperwork?
"To get us assigned to the case," she informed him. She looked at Majandra. "Brooklyn isn't a certified patroller."
"Then why is he out here, then?" Majandra said, dropping her voice to a whisper. "Do you know the penalties for something like this?"
Persephone raised her hands, motioning for her friend to settle down. "Artus authorized it. He's a special scenario. It's all passed through the station. He just doesn't have the papers or identification numbers."
Majandra smiled, nodding in understanding. "The Timedancer, then?" she asked.
"Right," Persephone said.
"You know about that?" Brooklyn asked, clearly feeling a bit odd at the conversation.
"Your reputation precedes you, Brooklyn," Majandra told him, smiling. "A lot of us with friends inside the clan know a bit of clan history. Persephone and I are friends, so I know a bit about you all. It's an honor to meet you, actually"
Brooklyn smiled at her apparent interest in his clan.
"It's almost sunrise," Persephone interjected. "We have a trainee waiting, so we should get back to the Pyramid."
"Of course. I'll come by early tomorrow night," Majandra told them. She turned to leave, going back to the rest of the police force.
"Let's go," Persephone said. Both she and Brooklyn climbed a nearby tree and launched themselves into the sky. Samson met them where they had left him, and pointed to the flashing lights that were beginning to leave the crime scene.
"What happened down there?" he asked.
"We don't know. You probably don't even want to know, once we find out," Brooklyn told him. The three gargoyles started home.
* * * * *
"You can not speak of this to anyone," Sata told Alex as she sat in one of his chairs in his roomy office. "Especially Brooklyn."
Alex's hands were clasped in front of his face, his eyes telling Sata that he was thinking things through in his head. She noted that Alex always seemed to be thinking things through, no matter how mundane.
"Of course you have my word, Sata," Alex told her calmly. "What do you need?"
"I have to go to Cairo, possibly for a few days. Again, Brooklyn cannot know of this. Someone will need to watch over the children," Sata said. She never made eye contact with Alex, and he realized that whatever her reason for going was, she felt a deep shame for it.
"Your passport card should still be valid. I'll have a transport waiting for you in ten minutes. I can take care of Brooklyn, and I'll assign somebody to watch Graeme and Ariana," Alex said, as if everything had already been planned out.
"How?" Sata asked, curious.
"The news reported there was an incident in Central Park earlier this evening. He and Persephone were the ones who stumbled across the case," Alex informed her. "I'll simply make sure he is assigned to be of assistance."
Sata nodded, standing from Alex's chair. "I do not know how to thank you," she told him.
"Don't worry about it, Sata," Alex said, his voice still as calm as ever. "I'm one of the most powerful people in this world. I can do anything." He smiled.
Sata finally looked at him and smiled as well. The two shared a laugh at Alex's comment, but it soon died out. Sata nodded as a way of goodbye, and quickly made her way out of the room.
When the door closed, Alex pushed a button on his desk intercom. "Laurel, get ahold of Detective Majandra Richardson when you get a chance," he said into the speaker.
"Yes, Mr. Xanatos," a female voice came back. Alex leaned back in his chair, not trying to think about what Sata might be getting herself into.
* * * * *
Sata manually turned the lights on as she entered her quarters quickly. The sound of the door shutting made Ariana burst awake, crying for someone to watch over her. Sata ran over and picked her daughter up, hoping the outburst would not wake Graeme up as well.
"It is time to go, samurai," Isfet's voice came from behind her. Sata turned, noticing that Ariana's crying had stopped.
"I have arranged my own transportation," Sata informed her, setting Ariana on the ground. The small hatchling picked up a toy and started playing. Sata kept her eyes on Isfet.
"Very well. We will see you soon, then," the dragon said. Isfet's form disappeared from Sata's room. Sighing, Sata reached over the twins crib and kissed Graeme on the forehead.
"Someone will come to watch over you," she said to both of them. Sata turned and quickly left the room, not looking back at her children as she went to face her future.
* * * * *
Majandra sat in the passenger seat of her police cruiser as her partner, Detective Max Briscoe, drove them back to the station. They were silent most of the way, but she knew Max wasn't one to grasp onto these paranormal type cases. It made him uneasy, and she knew that. "There are just some things that humans shouldn't mess with," he had told her time and time again.
She picked up her small headset and put it on when it started ringing. "Richardson," she greeted whoever was on the other end. Max listened, only hearing her half of the conversation. After a few rounds of "Yes, sir" and "Understood," Max asked what was going on.
"That was Alexander Xanatos," she told him. "You know those gargoyles who found the crime scene tonight?"
"He just requested that they be assigned to the case, especially the male, Brooklyn. I was going to do it anyway," she told him.
"The second in command is a friend of yours, isn't she?" Max asked.
"Yeah. Her name is Persephone. We've been friends ever since I was a rookie. She's helped in cases before, but always by her own choice. I know Xanatos is an ally to the clan, but as far as I know he's never requested an assignment personally. His exact words were, 'Keep him busy at night. Let him sleep at the station house.'"
"Odd. Something internal, you think?" Max suggested.
"If it is, it might not be any of our concern. Let's get some rest. I think tomorrow night is going to be longer than most."
They drove the rest of the way in silence.
* * * * *
Brooklyn, Persephone, and Samson landed at the Eyrie Pyramid as the sun was rising. Artus was there to greet them, and he and Persephone shared a quick kiss. Brooklyn smiled at their display of affection, and wondered why Sata wasn't with him like most nights when he went on patrol.
"Majandra called. You've been officially assigned to the case." He turned to Samson. "Except for you. Sorry, little brother,"
Samson shuffled his feet against the ground and sighed. "It's all right. All in due time, right?"
Brooklyn put his hand on the trainee's shoulder. "Where's Sata at?" he asked Artus.
But before he could answer, the gargoyles' internal clocks clicked into morning, covering their skin with their daily stone shell. It wasn't very often that gargoyles turned to stone out of their roosting spots anymore, but no one would notice for the one night. Brooklyn dreamt of seeing his love when he woke the next night.
* * * * *
May 23, 2171. Egypt.
One of the things Sata hated the most was flying long distances, especially this close to sunrise. She had only flown to Egypt once, and that was almost ten years ago. The change in time zones threw off her internal clock, and Sata ended up turning to stone before the sun had risen. That day she dreamt of being back home, and wishing that she hadn't let her relationship with one of Brooklyn's enemies get this far. It was true that they had become friends since Brooklyn's return to this time period, but they also had to keep their friendship a secret. Sata had come to respect Harthoth, to find that underneath the persona that he portrayed, he had a good heart and a good soul.
As the moon rose in Cairo that evening, several hours away from the sunset in Manhattan, Sata awoke to find herself in Harthoth's office. It was beautifully decorated, showing Harthoth's respect for modern art. She felt sad for him, because he did not belong in this time, no more than she or her family did. Sitting behind his desk, Harthoth made no expression at Sata's awakening.
"Greetings, samurai. I apologize for not coming to Manhattan myself," Harthoth said, motioning for Sata to sit down.
The jade gargoyle took a chair and made herself comfortable. "Why am I here?" she asked him.
"I could not leave Egypt at this time," he told her. "My master has told me of various magical occurrences in your part of the world recently. He found it best for me to stay out of harm's way. I did not want to see you get hurt, Sata."
"I can take care of myself," she told him firmly.
"Of course. I did not mean to imply otherwise."
"What about Brooklyn? Will he be hurt?" she asked.
"Now he might be in a bit of trouble," he said calmly. "Do not worry, though. It's nothing he won't walk away from. Make yourself at home, samurai, at least until tomorrow night, anyway. It should all be over by then."
Sata gave him a hateful look, standing from her chair. "We have agreed not to keep things from one another. I know you will not speak of your ultimate agenda with me, but do not treat me as if I am ignorant. We will speak later?" she asked.
"I look forward to it," Harthoth replied. Sata opened the door and stormed out. Harthoth leaned back in his chair and smiled. At least she would not be hurt. He hoped that Brooklyn could fend for himself.
* * * * *
At another point in the world, the sun set again. Brooklyn came out of his stone sleep, expecting to see Sata next to him. As the events of the previous nights came flooding back to him, he realized that Sata must be in another part of the castle. Before he could once again asked about her whereabouts, Persephone's communicator rang. Looking over the city, he heard her say, "We'll be right there."
"Are we up?" Brooklyn asked.
"We are," she replied. "Majandra said we need to get to the station house as soon as possible."
Brooklyn turned to Artus. "Tell Sata that I'm sorry I missed her."
Artus nodded in agreement. Brooklyn smiled to Samson, who did the same back, waving as he and Persephone leapt off the roof. "We can do some training if you want to," Artus said.
Samson grabbed his brother's arm, and the two hurried to the Eyrie Building's training facilities, the thought of the police case lost between the both of them.
* * * * *
The book was the first thing she noticed when she came into her room. While she tried not to think about it, she knew what was inside. Sata's willpower was strong, but not strong enough to keep her from looking at what secrets the tome might reveal. Settling herself down into a chair, she picked up the book, which had the familiar image of the Phoenix Gate on its cover. Opening it at the beginning, she began to read:
"The Timedancer and his second companion, a Doctor Isaac Payne, encountered
many an obstacle in their time together. Payne, through his own scientific
experiments, had been thrown through the time stream by his own means, and not
that of the Gate. He was discovered in Japan in August of 1945, days before the
atomic bomb was dropped. The Timedancer saved his adversary from certain death,
and the two left Japan. Their adventures, chronicled in this volume, include a
trip to London in 1923, a journey in an unknown territory long before recorded
time involving the gargoyle known as Pandora, and the witness of the destruction
of Pompeii in 79 A.D. After the fay known as Loki possessed Payne,
he survived in a type of magical suspension until 2041. His further adventures are chronicled in tome number nine. As of this writing, Payne's whereabouts are unknown."
Sata closed the book, noting that Brooklyn had not told her about his adventure with Pandora. She knew about their first encounter, but not a second. Pushing the thought out of her mind, Sata forced herself to put the large book down. She did not know how many their number was, or even which volume she had just looked at. Harthoth had learned not to toy with her, and was most likely under the impression that he was doing her a favor.
The scream broke her concentration. It was dull in sound, and Sata hardly heard it. It caused her to stand up and take a fighter's stance, her hand on the heel of her blade. The scream came again, and Sata realized that it was from another part of Harthoth's complex. Running to the door, Sata came into the hall to try and find the source of the disturbance.
* * * * *
Brooklyn, Persephone, and Majandra arrived in Central Park as soon as they could. Majandra had shed her jacket in the car, and Brooklyn could tell that the heat was getting to her. "So we're just going to wait here for something to happen?" Brooklyn had asked on the way over.
"Something is going down tonight. During the day, half of the surviving victims disappeared."
"Disappeared?" Persephone asked.
"Or they were kidnapped. Either way, they're gone. Those that were left have fallen into comas. They're still alive, but they're so far gone we might not ever get them back. The bodies of the deceased have been reported missing, as well," Majandra had told them.
Now, in the park, Brooklyn was more on his guard than the previous night. He'd seen a number of unexplained occurences in his time, but never anything like this. As they patrolled through the park, Brooklyn said, "It's almost as if someone is building an army."
"An army of crazy and dead people?" Persephone asked.
"Just a thought. What other reason would you have for stealing crazy and dead people?" Brooklyn retorted.
"Why would somebody need an army?"
"I wish I knew," he said.
Majandra told them both to be quiet, pulling out her gun as she did. "Look," she said, motioning toward a man walking in front of them. His small figure was hidden by the large trench coat he wore, and Brooklyn wasn't surprised to see him cut into the bushes abruptly, well off the path he should have been walking.
Pushing some of the bushes away, they saw the man huddled over something electronic. It was built into the ground, like it was part of the electrical system that powered Central Park. The small man seemed to be adjusting the controls, but stopped at the sound of Majandra's voice.
"Freeze!" she yelled, pointing the gun at the back of the man's head. "Put your hands on your head and turn around slowly," she told the man. He did as he was told.
"What are you doing out here, sir?" Majandra asked, keeping her gun pointed. Brooklyn and Persephone were in background, but they could still see what was going on.
The man remained silent, his eyes fixed on Brooklyn. The gargoyle stared back, not letting the man daunt him. This entire case had something wrong with it, and Brooklyn just wanted to get home to Sata.
Majandra moved in to take the man's hands, clasping a set of handcuffs around them. "Maybe you'll talk to us at the station house," she told him.
"Am I being arrested?" the man asked calmly.
"Not yet," she told him, pushing him towards her cruiser. "Can you guys follow from above?" she asked Brooklyn and Persephone. The both nodded. "Meet me at the station house, then."
Maybe now they'd get some answers.
* * * * *
Harthoth's security forces were surprisingly lacking. Sata knew that he wouldn't purposely harm her, but someone near her was in pain, and her warrior instincts were telling her to do whatever it took to stop that pain. Harthoth's facilities were quite beautiful, doubling as a business headquarters and living quarters for himself and a large part of his staff, much like the Eyrie Pyramid back in Manhattan. She was sure that nearby, the dragon Apep slumbered, waiting to be awakened. But that was not her main objective, now.
Sata was positive that Harthoth knew she was out of her quarters, wandering his halls and discovering his secrets. Still, he would not let harm come to her, not personally anyway. The voice had stopped its screaming, but Sata had a general idea where the prisoner, if that was who the voice belonged to, was being kept.
"Hello?!" Sata called out, trying to pinpoint the source of the voice even more. She was descending through the floors of the facility, and she knew that she was now underground. Another scream came through the walls, and Sata turned to her left. Eventually, she came to a large metal door, and heard the screaming coming from directly behind it.
Sata called out again, telling the person to stand back. Taking out her sword, she slashed at the door, but it left only a scratch. Sighing, Sata took the heel of her blade and slammed it into the computer console next to the door. A series of beeping ensued, but the door eventually slid open.
The room was dark, and a feeling of dampness engulfed her as soon as she walked inside. Her eyes adjusted quickly, and she saw the imprisoned figure curled in the corner of the room. She was a gargoyle, gold in color, with her blonde hair and reddish wings. Sata knew her well enough.
Meryt opened her eyes, squinting at the sudden burst of light in her cell. Sata took in their surroundings. The cell was padded, with no windows. Of course there were no windows, Sata realized. They were deep underground. "S... Sata?" Meryt called out, bringing herself to her feet.
Sata put her katana back in its sheath. She did not move forward, trying to make sure that the figure she saw in front of her was in fact Meryt. Their eyes met, and Sata held out her hand. The older gargoyle took it, and Sata and Meryt embraced. "I knew someone would come, but I never expected it to be you," she said.
"How long have you been in here?" Sata asked.
"A day... maybe two. I'm not sure."
"Then let us go. I can take you to Cairo's borders. Will you be safe there?"
"I should be. I came to see him because... for my own reasons," Meryt told her. "I'll tell you all about it when we're in a safe place."
Sata realized that Meryt was not in a weakened condition, and the two left her cell. The door stayed open, but Sata prayed that they would be gone before their absence was noticed. The two gargoyles started to make their way out of Harthoth's facilities.
* * * * *
"What do you think you are doing?" Isfet asked, as she and Harthoth watched Sata and Meryt from a television screen. In his office, Harthoth was silent. "Our master wants her taken care of, not escaping with the Timedancer's mate."
"Over the years," Harthoth told her. "I've learned that the best way to defeat an enemy lies within their own mind. If Apep wants Meryt disposed of until after the deed is done, then we will indispose of her mind, not her body. As an added bonus, Sata's presence here will help with the events back in Manhattan."
"I shall never understand your methods, sorcerer," Isfet said. Harthoth did not comment.
He heard Isfet vanish from his office. Leaning back in his chair, Harthoth continued to watch Sata and Meryt on his screen.
* * * * *
"Max identified him as David Garlon Cohn, III," Majandra said. Her partner had decided to stay behind that evening. She did not know if he had something again the clan, or if he simply felt that four would have been a crowd. He had processed the suspect's genetic information, which had given them some background information to start with.
"Is that all?" Persephone asked as she, Brooklyn, and her human friend looked at Cohn through a two-way mirror.
"Pretty much. New York native, born in 2134. Honestly, some of this info looks a little faked. It's too sparse to be real. Some of his other papers, like his passport, are clearly forgeries. Brooklyn would have more information than this guy."
"So, what does that mean?" Persephone asked.
"It means we can hold him for being registered under suspicion of false documents. I doubt David Cohn ever actually existed. It also means we can question him about why he was in Central Park."
"What about the electronic device he was tampering with?" Brooklyn asked.
"That's the odd thing. It was some type of power monitor. Like an old fashioned fuse box," Majandra told them. "Do you know what company provides power to Central Park?" she asked.
Persephone obviously knew, but Brooklyn continued to watch Cohn. "Who?" he finally asked.
"Xanatos Enterprises," the detective said.
Brooklyn turned to look at her. "Alex? He wouldn't be involved in any"
"Some more reports came back on the victims, too. The burns they suffered were electrical in origin," Majandra interrupted him.
"Brooklyn's right," Persephone said. "Alex couldn't have anything to do with this."
"I'd usually be inclined to agree with you. Did you know that Xanatos personally asked for you two to be assigned to this case?" she asked.
"Why would he do something like that?" Brooklyn wondered.
"He asked me personally. You guys wouldn't be pulling off an inside job, would you?" she asked accusingly.
Persephone shot her a look. "How could you even think such a thing? Even if Alex were involved in something like this, which he isn't, the clan would never sanction it. Especially not something that was bringing harm to humans."
"Okay, Persephone. I'm sorry," Majandra said. "It was just a theory. This situation is too weird not to consider all the possibilities."
"It's alright, MJ," the gargoyle said. "I understand."
"So what do we do now?" Brooklyn asked.
"Well, I'll interrogate him. See what we can find out." Majandra moved towards the door, and entered the room. Brooklyn noticed that police procedures hadn't changed much since his time, and the interrogation room looked just like those he had seen on all those cop shows he used to watch with Hudson.
Persephone and Brooklyn listened through a set of speakers.
"Mr. Cohn, it's good to see you again," Majandra said.
"Detective Richardson," the man greeted her.
"You want to save us both some time and just tell me what you were doing with that monitor this evening?"
"I was simply out in the park for a walk. I needed some fresh air. People do still take walks in the park, don't they?" Cohn said mockingly.
"Most people don't tamper with private property while they're getting fresh air," the detective told him.
Cohn didn't respond. Finally, he looked at the mirror and said, "Is the Timedancer watching us from behind that mirror?" The man gave a small wave to his reflection. On the other side, Brooklyn continued to look at the man.
"Are you picking up any magic from this guy?" he asked Persephone.
"Like you wouldn't believe," she said.
Brooklyn saw Majandra motion for him, and the gargoyle entered the room. "I'll leave you two alone," the detective said, going back into the viewing room.
Cohn leaned back in his chair and smiled. Brooklyn didn't bother to sit down, but circled around the table like he had seen done on television. "How do you know about the Timedancer?" he asked simply.
"I'm a mouse, my dear friend," Cohn said, hoping to stir something in the gargoyle. "Just don't ever call me that yourself. Mice watch and listen better than any other animal in the world. We have always watched the Timedancer. We hide in the woodwork, taking our notes and gathering our forces, waiting until the time is right to attack. There are a lot of mice out there, Brooklyn. Are you ready for an attack?"
Brooklyn ignored the question. "For a mouse, you were caught pretty easily."
"I was only caught because I wanted to be here, Timedancer," Cohn said.
"I know what you are. You reek of magic. I'm surprised I've never met you before, actually," Brooklyn told him.
Cohn smiled. "You only know half the truth. When we meet for the first time, I hope you have a better recollection of me."
"I'll do my best," Brooklyn said. Aware that he wasn't going to get any further with this fay, Brooklyn exited the room. Persephone and Majandra were there waiting for him, along with a human male whom Brooklyn guessed was Majandra's partner.
"Bad news, Brooklyn," Majandra told him.
"Just tell me," the gargoyle said.
"Apparently the paperwork involved for nailing someone for false paperwork is in itself fairly extensive. For right now, we can't hold him. Added with the fact that we didn't pick him up for false documents in the first place, we'd have a lawsuit on our hands if we kept him here any longer."
"It's all right," Brooklyn said. "I don't think Mr. Cohn is going anywhere for a while. Can you guys at least keep an eye on him?"
"We'll assign some officers to keep watch," Max told him. "The patrols in Central Park have been kicked up a notch, as well. If what's been going on is in any way connected to that monitor you guys found this guy next to, we shouldn't have anything to worry about."
"It's almost daylight, guys," Majandra said. "Since, for the moment at least, this thing is tied up, you guys should probably head back home."
"You're right," Persephone agreed. She and Majandra shared a quick hug. "You don't be a stranger, okay?"
"We'll have a late dinner sometime," the detective told her.
Majandra and Max watched as the two gargoyles left the viewing room. "Why didn't you come tonight, Max?" the female detective asked.
"Four's a crowd. Besides, that brick-colored one "
"His name is Brooklyn," Majandra interrupted him.
"I've heard things about him. He doesn't have the right papers, MJ. Both their leader " he was cut off again.
"Artus. His name is Artus," she said.
"Fine. Artus and Captain Saddiq have both let that slide. Why?"
"I don't think that's your business, Max. It's clan business."
"Whatever. Look, I have paperwork to do. Tell that guy he can go." Max pointed toward Cohn. "And then I think you need to sit down and re-evaluate your position in the world. I've been reading these articles, about gargoyles. It makes a lot more sense than what the news has been telling us for the past two hundred years. Have you seen the old news reports? From back when the clan made their first appearance? People were scared back then, MJ. I think they had a reason to be."
"I am not going to talk about this right now. Go do your paperwork, Max. I'll see you tomorrow."
Majandra watched her partner leave, wondering exactly what he had been reading. Most of the police department either ignored the clan, or openly made their disdain for the gargoyles' help known. Things were changing in the department, and she hoped she was on the right side. She knew that Captain Saddiq, who had been in charge since before she had joined the force, was a good friend with Artus. Maybe she would go and talk with him. But it would have to wait until tomorrow.
"You're free to go, Cohn," she said, only sticking her head through the door. "Don't leave town for a few weeks, just in case we have some questions."
Majandra left the viewing room without another word. Before he left, Cohn leaned back in his chair once more and smiled. Tonight had worked out exactly as he had planned it to be.
The boss was going to be pleased.
* * * * *
Brooklyn and Persephone flew over Manhattan in silence. Both of them were tired and hungry, and that night's events had hit a bit to close to home. Brooklyn didn't know exactly who he had spoken to tonight, but he knew that he was a fay. The Timedancer hadn't encountered every fay, and he knew that there were a substantial amount of them in the world. Brooklyn just didn't like surprises, or being kept in the dark about anything.
"Look down there," he heard Persephone say. Turning his head, Brooklyn noticed a group of humans wandering through the streets. There were about seven of them, a fact that Brooklyn found odd in itself.
"What about them?" Brooklyn asked. "Besides being out this close to sunrise, I don't think they're doing anything suspicious."
"They're touched, Brooklyn. I can feel it. Plus, I recognize some of them from the park."
"The victims?" he asked.
"No. They're the ones who had died," she told him.
Suddenly, an electrical blast shot through the air towards the two gargoyles. They dodged it, sending the charge into a building behind them. The group of humans had stopped in their tracks, looking and pointing up towards Brooklyn and Persephone.
"What are they doing?" Persephone asked.
"I think they're attacking us," Brooklyn said, diving towards the group.
Some of the humans made a guttural bellowing sound as Brooklyn came closer, his eyes glowing a bright light. They did not seem capable of coherent speech, but somehow they were communicating with one another. Brooklyn rammed a female human, knocking her to the ground. The woman yelled, trying to hit Brooklyn in the face. The stronger gargoyle held back her hands, trying to get a good look at her face. It was scarred, burns covering most of it. Her eyes had become a deep red, and her hair had been singed at the tips. Brooklyn reeled back in shock, giving another one of the humans a chance to throw him off.
Looking up, Brooklyn saw a male, his features the same as the woman's. Something had happened to these people, and it truly scared the Timedancer. He had never seen anything of this magnitude, and he hoped that there was a way to reverse what had been done to them. The human male pointed to Brooklyn, another electrical charge forming on the tip of his finger. The gargoyle almost had time to roll away, but the charge struck him in the shoulder. Clutching the wound, Brooklyn yelled out in pain.
Persephone swooped in, bringing Brooklyn's assailant to the ground. The brick colored male brought himself to his feet, realizing that the entire group of humans was preparing to attack. There were five, plus the two they had taken to the ground. Brooklyn looked at Persephone, who was readying herself for a fight. "It's almost sunlight, Brooklyn," she said. "Why don't we just get out of here?"
"That plan sounds good," Brooklyn said. The two gargoyles broke out of the circle, running towards the nearest building. Another magical shot was fired, missing both of them. Brooklyn and Persephone climbed a nearby wall and glided off into the night. They could hear the humans' growls from below them, eager for a longer fight.
"What are they?" Persephone asked as they approached the castle.
"I think they were... zombies," Brooklyn said. Tonight had definitely been a weird one. He couldn't wait to tell Sata about it.
* * * * *
Sata and Meryt ran through a brightly lit hallway. If she remembered correctly, there was an exit nearby, and the two could finally escape. Sata would have to face Harthoth sometime in the near future, but she had a thought that all of this was a plan of his. In that case, he was using her as a pawn in a larger game, which upset her to no extent.
Both of the gargoyles suddenly became aware that they were being followed. Turning around, Sata and Meryt saw a group of human guards coming towards them. Sata pulled out her sword while Meryt positioned herself in a warrior's stance.
"We have orders not to kill you," one of the guards said. "But we can hurt you."
"I'd like to see you try," Meryt said.
"We don't want a fight," another guard said, pulling out a gun. He pushed in a clip and aimed it at Sata. She saw him pull the trigger, heard the bullet released from its chamber, and pulled up her blade as a shield. The target ricocheted off of the metal and imbedded itself inside Meryt's forearm.
Meryt looked down to see a tranquilizer dart. She pulled it out and dropped it to the ground, smiling at the guards.
"Use the special gun for the gold one," a guard said. The one who had gotten a shot off at Sata had reloaded his gun. The jade female didn't see him shoot his gun this time, and looked down to see a dart enter her right leg. The drug took effect almost immediately, though Sata had enough time to put her blade up before her sight started to get fuzzy.
Meryt saw her would-be savior fall to the ground. Her eyes glowed a deep red while she rushed the guards. She clawed one in the chest. One guard shoved the butt of his gun across the back of her head, and she felt another dart enter her back. It was the same type Harthoth had used when she was first knocked out. Meryt felt her limbs go numb as she fell to the ground.
One of the guards pulled out a communicator. "Sir, the targets have been neutralized."
Harthoth's voice came back. "Take them to the samurai's quarters."
"Load them up," the guard said to the others. He pulled out a remote control and pushed a button. Two hover beds came from around the corner, and the guards loaded Sata and Meryt on. They began to push the beds back to Sata's room.
* * * * *
The lights were turned on low in her room, but Sata could see just fine when she finally regained consciousness. Meryt was already awake, sitting in a chair in the corner. "You're finally up," the gold female commented.
"How long?" Sata asked, still a bit dazed.
"I honestly do not know," Meryt said. "The sun has not risen yet. The dragon will probably keep us here for the rest of our lives, Sata."
The samurai was silent at the comment. Soon, she heard Meryt laughing.
"Do you realize that I may never die?" she heard Meryt ask.
"No being is truly immortal, my dear," Sata said, trying to console her. Standing up, she went to the door, hitting buttons on the console next to it. The door did not open.
"Don't bother with it, Sata," Meryt said. "He'll just come back for us."
Sata heard the door open, and knew that it was Harthoth on the other end. He crossed the threshold and stood in front of Sata. They both looked at each other's eyes, neither of them saying a word. Meryt wasn't looking at them, but heard Sata's hand slap across her old friend's face. Still, she did not hear Harthoth speak.
Footsteps approached her. "I am simply doing my job, old friend," Harthoth said. Tears started to form in Meryt's eyes. At least, they were what passed for tears in this fake metal construct. "Surely you see that once I am done, we will both get what we want."
"And what is that?" Sata asked from her spot by the door.
"Death," Meryt answered, her words laced with tears. It was the same answer that Harthoth had given her.
Sata stood quietly, watching the scene in front of her. Harthoth came back over to her, wiping his own eyes. "It is almost sunrise. If you leave now, you should be able to see Brooklyn before he goes to sleep for the day."
"I am not your puppet, Harthoth. Never forget that," Sata said.
"I beg your forgiveness," Harthoth said, truly meaning it. "Have I ever told you the old Egyptian blessing that is close to my heart?"
Sata shook her head.
"It goes, 'May the spirits stand between you and harm, in all the empty places where you must walk.' I have enjoyed that. Until we meet again, I give that blessing to you."
"Until that time," Sata said, bowing her head. Harthoth smiled at her. As she left, Sata did not look back at Meryt, who was curled in the corner of the room.
His back to her, Harthoth decided to talk to Meryt a bit more. "You know what has to be done. I assure you, old friend, this will all be over within three years. You can live in the dark for that long." Meryt heard the door slide open again. Two of Harthoth's guards stood awaiting orders.
"Take her back to the cell," he said, walking out into the hall.
Meryt cried as the guards approached. She went with them without force or hesitation. Maybe the darkness would be good for her. As her old friend had said, someday they would both be free.
* * * * *
May 24, 2171. Manhattan.
In the early morning hours before the sun had risen, two beaten and bruised gargoyles landed on the parapets of Old Castle Wyvern, built into the Eyrie Pyramid after the Great Quake had occurred. Neither of the gargoyles noticed the transport land elsewhere in the Pyramid, but they did notice Artus awaiting their arrival.
"What happened to you two?" he asked, giving Persephone a quick kiss.
"We were attacked by what may have been some of the victims of the incidents we were investigating," Persephone told him.
Brooklyn continued, "They had magic at their disposal. We'll be fine by tomorrow night."
Artus nodded. "I'll go call it in before sunrise," he said, hurrying to his office.
"We make a good team," Persephone said, still recovering from the attack.
"You sure do," Alex said, coming to see them. He turned to Brooklyn. "Sata is waiting for you in your quarters. I'd hurry if I were you. I think she's missed you."
Smiling, Brooklyn nodded a quick farewell to Persephone and Alex and made his way toward his room. He had missed Sata over the past few nights, as well.
"So, how'd it go?" Alex asked.
"Well enough," she answered, motioning for them to walk. "But there's something going on, for sure."
"I'd do some checking in your employees if I were you, Alex. Your company powers Central Park, right?" she asked.
"Most of it. When they expanded its boarders after the Quake, we offered to help out," Alex said. "What are you trying to say?"
"Just that someone might be taking advantage of that good nature. Check out your people. I have to go before the sun comes up."
"I'll see you tomorrow night, then," Alex said, bidding Persephone farewell. The human watched her go, then turned to look over the city skyline. Manhattan had always been beautiful to him. Sighing, Alex walked back to his office.
* * * * *
"Hey you," Brooklyn said as he entered his quarters, seeing Sata sitting in the dark. "You okay?" he asked, turning on the lights.
"I'm fine, my love," Sata said, motioning for Brooklyn to come sit next to her. He made himself comfortable, putting his arm around Sata. She leaned her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes. "I'm just tired," she told him.
"I can understand that," he said, stroking her hair.
Sata smiled, though her mind was still on the events that had happened on the other side of the world. This was one of her dark places.
"You are my spirit," she said, thinking out loud.
"What was that?" Brooklyn asked.
"An old friend once told me something. May the spirits stand between you and harm - "
"In all the empty places where you must walk," Brooklyn finished for her. "I've heard it before. A long time ago."
"You are my spirit, my love," she told him.
"And you mine," Brooklyn said back. While the sun didn't touch them, its effects ran its course over their bodies. The two lovers turned to stone in each other arms. Only Sata dreamt that day.
She dreamt about her life and her love, and of the secrets she kept. She didn't know how Brooklyn would feel if he ever found out about their relationship. Harthoth was her mate's worst enemy, and his best friend. He had become the only one she could talk to, and the only one who would understand. Sata only wished she could have saved Meryt, and cursed herself for even think about turning her back on the helpless soul.
Meryt would be fine, Sata told herself, over and over again. She would have to be fine, or the samurai would never forgive herself.
* * * * *
Garlon walked through the dark halls of his master's headquarters. Tonight had gone well, their plan executing itself exactly as planned. The Timedancer's presence had been unexpected, but he could be easily factored into their equation.
"Did they learn too much?" his master asked.
"Not at all. The Timedancer was there, but he has not yet experienced the Second Unseelie War. Our new recruits proved to be formidable opponents even to the Timedancer and the clan's Second," Garlon said.
His master leaned back in his chair, smiling. "Good. When the time comes, we'll have a force to put on the front lines."
"We'll have to move the process away from Central Park, I'm afraid," Garlon said.
"That wasn't unexpected, especially this close to the end."
"I only wish that we had the same resources as Lord Madoc. When he started this process, he had the subjects' approval. We are doing this to them forcefully. Needless to say, the outcome has been a bit... different."
His master nodded his head in agreement. "They still get the job done."
"We're doing well with what we have," Garlon noted.
"Our plans are finally coming into place."
"Indeed they are," his master said. "Indeed they are."
* * * * *