The Harsh Light of Day, pt. 1
Written by Alan Coleman Waltrip
Story by Alan Coleman Waltrip
Art by Revel and Lynati
December 2173. Egypt
Cairoís harsh sun speared through Harthothís window, shedding unneeded light on his desk. Putting away his pen, the gargoyle rose from his chair and walked over to the blinds. Pulling them shut, he put on his human guise as he felt another presence in the office.
Knowing whom it was, Harthoth did not turn around. "What is it this time?" he asked.
Isfet snarled, more out of her contempt with her fatherís servant than the fact that he had no respect for her. "Is the task complete?"
"As I told you, phase one is done. The target is in custody, and we should not have any problems when the big day comes," Harthoth told her as he returned to his desk.
"I suppose the day of your freedom is almost here, is it not, sorcerer?" Isfet asked, not expecting Harthoth to answer. "You will be one of the few gargoyles who is not enslaved or killed once his day comes."
"I should hope not. Iíve served him for longer than anyone should have to."
Isfet was silent. Finally, she asked the inevitable question. "What about the Timedancer?"
"I can take care of him. I always have."
"So you think. He wonít stand for this," Isfet commented. "If this assignment has any problems, my father will not let you live."
Harthoth was silent.
Isfet smirked. "You would most likely welcome that, though."
The she-snake disappeared from his office and Harthoth sighed. Soon he would be free. Soon they would all be free.
* * * * *
Manhattan -- The Next Day
Sata switched her pruning shears into her dominant hand and snipped at a stray branch of her favorite bonsai tree. This was one of her favorite places to come, especially when the rest of the world was so hectic. It seemed that this entire year had been nothing but one task after another: from Samsonís crisis and the introduction of the Gargoyle Education League (a society that scared her beyond words) to Demonaís kidnapping and the appearance of an even greater enemy in the shadows of the city. The Pyramidís garden was quiet, and almost no one bothered her there unless it was important.
Graeme and Ariana were almost five years old, she realized, and sometimes they could be too much to handle. The Pyramid had a crew of child care providers who had been more than happy to watch after her children at the times when the world needed them somewhere else, or when she or Brooklyn just needed to be somewhere else.
She knew that he had appeared behind her, and in all the time he had visited her, Sata still did not know exactly how Harthoth was able to go between Manhattan and Cairo as he did. It was magic, most likely, but she was not one to pry when it did not hurt anybody. The samurai turned, her pruning shears still in her hand.
"Harthoth," she greeted. Sata almost never spoke first when he visited.
"Samurai," the gargoyle spoke back. He meant it as a meaning of respect, but he always felt that she took it as a patronizing comment. "Iím afraid I donít have time to visit tonight, Sata. But I wanted to check in on you, just the same."
"Yourself? You have agents that could have done that," she told him.
"Yes, but Ė " He was cut off by the sound of the garden door opening.
The jade green gargoyle turned towards the door and saw her love and mate walk in. He look tired, as if he had been working all night, but the sun had just set a few hours ago.
"Hey," he said, kissing her quickly. "I thought I heard you talking to someone in here."
"Just myself," Sata said.
Brooklyn nodded, dismissing it. He breathed in the fresh air of the garden and smiled. "I like it in here."
"So do I. It is a place to retreat to every now and then," she told him.
"Samson and I are going out to patrol. You want to come along?"
"I would, but Iím supposed to visit Anna tonight. We have not had that much time to spend together lately," Sata commented.
"Neither have you and I," Brooklyn told her.
"With everything going on," Sata said, but Brooklyn put his finger up to her lips in a loving manner.
"I was joking. Weíll be back soon, okay?"
Sata nodded. Brooklyn kissed her again, this time a bit harder and bit longer. She put her arms around his neck. When the kiss broke off, she put her head on his shoulder, feeling his heartbeat even through the cold metal of his breastplate.
He turned and left her in the garden, the sound of the door opening and closing again a distant sound in her ear. When Sata was sure that he wasnít coming back, she called out Harthothís name.
Of course, there was no answer.
* * *
Brooklyn smiled as he saw light snow falling from the sky. He and Samson were taking a break on a rooftop in a less dangerous part of the city. The wind had kicked up, but neither of the gargoyles noticed with their thick skin.
"I havenít seen snow in a really long time," Brooklyn said, trying to think back to the last time that he had.
"Itís a rare thing anymore," Samson said. Brooklyn was pleased that he had returned to his old self over the course of the past year. With everything that had happened, he knew that Samson had been through a lot.
They both looked up at the sound of a hover transport to see one flying high overhead. Brooklyn almost dismissed the sight, until he heard Samson say, almost absently, "It looks like my sisterís."
"What?" Brooklyn asked.
"Oh, right," Samson said. "Um, she came to visit me."
"She what? Youíre talking about Gwenyvere?"
"I donít have any other sisters, Brooklyn," Samson told him.
"But, yeah. She came. Last February. Just for a minute. I never actually saw her ship, because I think she parked it on the outside of town, in the ruins. On my way home, though, I saw a ship just like that heading towards the east," Samson admitted.
"Why didnít you tell anyone about this?" Brooklyn asked.
"Are you kidding? My mom would still be searching for her. Sheís been gone for fifteen years. I just didnít think it was the right thing to do. She gave me a number to reach her at, but I threw it away."
Brooklyn nodded, understanding, but at the same time curious. "Why?"
"Because she came here for her own sense of closure. When I need that same closure, Iíll find her myself," Samson told him.
"Thatís a very mature thing to say."
"Iím sure she would appreciate it if you didnít tell anyone about this," Samson said, ignoring Brooklynís comment.
"You have my word," Brooklyn promised.
The two gargoyles went back on their patrol, not seeing anybody in danger or any crimes to stop. The talked casually as they always did, as a teacher and his student.
Finally Brooklyn asked, "You said her ship was heading east?"
Samson nodded, not saying anything about the sudden change of subject in their conversation. "I think so; more southeast, actually. It was a few months ago."
"Right. Letís get back to the Pyramid. I donít think anything is going to happen tonight." They flew the rest of the way in silence.
* * * * *
Sata held Graeme in her arms, trying to get him to take a nap. Of course, it was not any use. He moved this way and that, and would sometimes attempt to move his wings into a different position. When she heard her husband come into their room, she decided to give up. Setting her son on the ground, Sata went to meet Brooklyn.
She went to embrace him, as she did most times when he returned from patrolling. This time, though, he avoided her for a few moments. He settled on the couch, swinging Ariana up into his arms, and whisking his tail away from Graeme's sharp teeth at the last moment
"Whatís wrong, my love?" she asked.
Brooklyn slowly stood setting Ariana down beside her brother. "Is something going on?" Brooklyn asked slowly.
Sata looked at him oddly, hiding the truth perfectly. "What do you mean?"
"Something Samson told me about Gwenyvere. Have you... seen her?" Brooklyn stumbled.
"Not since she left, Brooklyn. I would tell you otherwise."
"Right," Brooklyn said, knowing that something more was going on. He was about to continue, but their communicator screen beeped, interrupting their conversation.
"What is it?" Brooklyn asked, clearly annoyed.
"Itís Alex. Weíve got a message for you on a priority channel. Itís pre-recorded. You want it now?"
"Yeah. Put it though," the gargoyle told him.
Harthothís face appeared on the screen. Brooklyn sighed, while Sata just stared at the familiar face projected in front of her. "Hello, old friend. Iím afraid the time has come that we need to meet, face to face. I believe you know where I am, and I must insist that you come. If not, I can send someone to... escort you." The screen went blank.
Brooklyn was not sure how long they stood there in silence, not touching each other. For a moment, he wasnít even sure if Sata was still behind him. Finally, he heard her sweet and gentle voice. "Are we going to go?"
Brooklyn sighed. "Iíll go. Alone." He turned to her, looking into her dark eyes. "I love you. Weíll talk when I get back. Is there something that you need to tell me?"
Sata looked away, but Brooklyn put his hand on her chin and gently held it in place, keeping his gaze on her own. "Whatever it is, however bad it is, I will always love you, no matter what. You know that, right?"
Sata nodded. He kissed her, hard and lovingly. With his eyes closed, Brooklyn turned towards the door and exited the room. Sata picked up Ariana, who latched onto her mother with all the love in the world, and sat down. She could only wonder about what to do next.
* * * * *
Alex and Artus watched the message from the humanís office, neither of them truly understanding the implications of it. They did not know Harthothís face or voice, but if it concerned Brooklyn, it most likely concerned them as well.
"You know, this can only end badly," Artus said.
"Thatís what the notes say. I just wish they were more specific." He turned to his friend. "Anything you need, you have. The power of my company is at your clanís disposal."
"You are a part of this clan, Alex. I thank you," Artus told him. He sighed, rubbing his eyes in exhaustion. "Iím going to see Sata."
The leader left without another word.
* * * * *
Brooklyn entered the Eyrie Pyramidís transport hangar, a plan already forming in his mind. He quickly grabbed a gun from the shelf near the entrance, knowing that he did not have clearance to do any of this. Hopefully, he would go to Egypt and get back before anybody noticed he was gone.
Unless, of course, this was all a trap.
But that was not Harthothís style. He knew the sorcerer better than anybody else, and he could play Harthoth just as well as his old friend could play him. At least, he liked to think that he could. Brooklyn had not seen the black gargoyle since he had returned to Sata, and now a million thoughts ran though his head.
He knew that something was going on with Sata, and he knew that she had a good reason for keeping whatever it was secret. What if Harthoth, or any other number of his enemies, had infiltrated his clan, or even his family? What if they were watching his every move, even now? What if...
No, he would not let himself think that. It was impossible for that to happen. They had too much love between them, and even Harthoth had enough respect for him to not even think about that.
Approaching a standard transport, he climbed inside and set the course. Southeast. His mind did not want to think about that possibility, either. Brooklyn set his pulse rifle in the seat next to him and confirmed the destination. He should be there by the next evening, if not earlier.
This was what it had all been leading too. Maybe he could finally get to peace, after everything was done.
* * * * *
2064 -- Manhattan
Nobody could have imagined that something this horrible could have happened, especially no one in her family. As far as Gwenyvere knew, nothing like this had happened in her twenty-six years of living. Though she was only a child of thirteen in gargoyle years, she knew that what had happened was bad. Her father had said they would write about the earthquake in history books long after they were gone from this earth.
It was three days since a force of nature had destroyed her home. And now they were picking up the pieces. The clanís leader had told them all that this would help the humans understand and accept them. Gwenyvere did not know very much about that, but she knew that she hated cleaning up debris. Normally children would not be allowed to do such a thing, but the desecration of the earthquake stretched across the entire island, and the clan had promised to give all the support they could. Her mother had said that it was important, and Gwenyvere was inclined to agree.
Her older brother Artus, who was a gleaming gem in the clanís eye, was in front of her, trying to work as hard as he could. He was twenty three gargoyle years of age, the most popular male in his generation. He knew, as did Gwenyvere, that it was more because of his bloodline than anything else. She loved her brother, but sometimes she felt that he got all of the attention. The attention that did not go to Artus went to her six-year-old brother Samson. At times, Gwenyvere could understand that. She knew that her parents loved her, especially her dad; but she also knew that they loved her siblings as well.
She leaned over and picked up a rock, throwing it lightly towards her brother. He turned at the sound of it hitting the ground and turned to her, smiling.
"Hey, little sister," he said lovingly, motioning for her to come closer.
"You all right?" Artus asked, taking a break from his work.
"I guess so," she said innocently. "I just donít understand why exactly weíre doing all this. Everything was pretty much destroyed except the old castle and some of the newer buildings."
"Weíre doing this because weíre the only ones who can get around the destruction. A lot of people were hurt the other day, and most of the city has been evacuated under the mayorís orders. Xanatos said that heíd help us out as much as he could, and we are going to help as much as we can."
"Spoken like a true hero," Gwenyvere said, almost sarcastically.
Artus did not respond to her comment. "Donít worry. Everything will be okay. We can rebuild the city as much as possible. This is still our home. In fact, when weíre done, it will be even more our home because weíll be the ones who build it."
Gwenyvere nodded, watching her brother return diligently to work.
* * * * *
December 2173 -- Manhattan
Angela awoke from her nap with a jump, rubbing her eyes. In her old age, she had grown accustomed to taking a nap now and then. But lately, her sleep had been filled with dreams of days gone by. Those were days that she had tried long and hard to forget about.
Since this was not her natural stone sleep, Angela had suspected that the dreams might be magical in origin. None of them had been from her point of view, but from that of someone close to her. The one tonight, though, was longer and more detailed. And each night, they were growing closer to... well, closer to that fateful day.
Standing, Angela rubbed her eyes and decided to go find Broadway.
* * *
Sata heard a knock at her door, and for a moment considered not answering. If it had been Harthoth, he simply would have appeared to her. If somebody had gone to the trouble of coming to her, it must be important. The female gargoyle waved to the door, and it opened.
Artus stepped forward, his large frame taking up most of her doorway. She looked up at him, not realizing that she had been crying.
"Whatís wrong, Sata?" Artus asked, going to sit by her side.
She wiped her eyes, shaking her head. "Nothing to concern yourself with."
"Youíre clan, Sata. More than that, youíre family."
She nodded. "What do you know of a creature called Harthoth?" Sata asked.
"Clan stories, from my childhood before the Quake. Clan legends and things like that. According to them he died a long time ago. A very long time ago, in fact. Why?"
Sata sighed, thinking about telling him everything. The stories about Apep and Meryt, about how Harthoth and she had become close friends since Brooklyn had come back to her. But he would not understand. Artus had not lived the life that she had.
"No reason. Iíve just been thinking."
Artus nodded. "Listen, I know Brooklyn got a message earlier tonight. He borrowed a transport, but weíre not sure where he went. Do you have any idea?"
"Egypt. Cairo, most likely."
"Whatís in Cairo?" Artus asked.
"His past. His future. Thatís a hard question to answer, my friend."
Artus smiled, putting his hand on the samuraiís shoulder. "Heíll be home soon enough. Brooklyn can take care of himself."
"I certainly hope so."
* * * * *
After traveling in time for as long as he had, Brooklyn was somewhat used to irregular sun cycles. However, he had been stationary for almost four years, and coming to Egypt had disrupted his internal clock. When he awoke that evening in the transport pod, he knew that he had not been asleep for that long.
Brooklyn stepped outside, breathing in the harsh air that had not seemed to change in eight thousand years. He knew it had though. The air was full of technology and sound, even in this barren desert. Brooklyn guessed he was maybe five miles from Harthothís compound, and there seemed to be no way to get at it from an altitude.
"Timedancer," he heard a voice say, knowing immediately who it was. Its slithery sound oozed around the red gargoyle and made him to grind his teeth in remembered pain and hatred, and Brooklyn turned slowly to its source.
"Isfet. Long time no see," he said.
"I wish I could say it was more welcome." Brooklyn saw a group of Isfetís followers behind her, ready to attack if she gave the command. This was an ambush, plain and simple. "Harthoth wishes to see you," she continued. "But luckily, my father has allowed me to have a little fun first."
Brooklyn smiled. "If I knew you felt that way, I would have come earlier." His eyes became their bright white with adrenaline, adding to the dim light provided by the stars and moon.
Isfet held out her hand, a blade standing at ready. "Iím almost glad that itís this way. Of course, I would rather you died eons ago." She attacked, jumping in the night air. Her minions stayed back.
Brooklyn caught Isfetís arm, digging his claws deep into her skin. The dragon female screamed, reaching for her enemyís face. He pulled out from her arm, throwing her into the desert. "You want to keep doing this, Isfet? I can go all night."
"Iím sure you can, Timedancer. Unfortunately, we simply don't have the time." Isfet smiled, looking past Brooklyn to her minions behind him. "Do it now," she said simply.
Brooklyn whirled around on his heel; his eyes still their bright white. He felt a sharp pain in his leg, but never saw the man who had shot him with the tranquilizer dart. He knew he should have come better prepared, but he knew in his heart that Harthoth would never kill him.
Of course, he could not say the same about Isfet.
As Brooklyn fell the ground, he sensed Isfet walk up to his body before he lost total consciousness. Smiling, she knelt to him, grabbing his head by his long white hair. "This is what it comes to," she said, bringing the sharp talons of her hands down on his back.
"Master," one of her servants said. Isfet looked up at him, aggravation apparent in her face. "Harthoth wants the gargoyle alive."
Sighing, Isfet dropped Brooklynís head back down the ground. "Indeed he did." She stood, dusting her clothes absently with her hands. "Take him to a cell. Try not to be to careful with him." The dragon waved her hand, disappearing with a transparent shimmer.
* * * * *
2065 -- Manhattan
"One year later." That was what all of the news reports had started out as. Gwenyvere was tired of hearing that, but on this particular night she could care less. Central Park was finally reopening, and her parents had taken them all to see it, along with most of the clan.
"Come on, Artie," she called to her older brother, pulling on his muscular arm. "I wanna go play."
"Gwen, I told you not to call me that."
"Take your brother with you," she heard her mother say. Gwenyvere turned, seeing her mother carrying Samson in her arms.
"But, Mom..." she said.
"Come on, Sweetie," her father told her lovingly, smiling down at her. "Give you mother and me some time alone."
"Alright. Come on, Samson," she said, carefully taking her brother from her motherís arms.
Broadway put his arm around Angelaís shoulder as they watched their children go off into the festivities of the Parksí re-opening. "Amazing what you can accomplish, isnít it?" he asked, not really meaning for it to be a question. "To think that we help to rebuild most of this city..." Broadway trailed off. He looked at his mate, seeing in her eyes that she was somewhere else this evening.
"Whatís wrong?" he asked.
Angela sighed. "I want to go back home."
"Do you have a headache? We can get something from the doctor Ė "
She cut him off. "No. I want to go back to Avalon. It can be safe there. My brothers and sisters are there. Our children can survive there."
"Our children can survive here, Angela. This is a safe place, now more than ever," Broadway said.
"But it wonít be soon. Soon the crime and the persecution will come back. I donít want to spend every night wondering if weíre all going to make it to the next morning."
"Weíve been doing that for almost seventy years, my love."
"And Iím tired of it," Angela admitted.
"This is our home, Angela. How could we just abandon it?"
"Itís not my home anymore. Not after the Quake. I havenít been happy for a long time. I think the only place I can be happy is with my other family, especially after all thatís happened. But I couldnít go without you. Just think about it, okay?" she asked.
"Iíll do that," Broadway said. "You know that Iíd follow you into Hell, right?"
"Trust me, I know."
* * * * *
2173 -- Manhattan
"I remember that night," Broadway said. "I just try not to think about it that much. Why do you think youíre dreaming about it?"
Angela nodded. "Iíve been dreaming about that entire time period after the Quake."
"What do you think it means?"
She shook her head. "Iím not sure. But... what if Gwenyvere is in some type of trouble? What if these dreams are her way of telling me that she needs to see me?"
"Sheís survived for over a decade without us," Broadway said, not seeing the hurt look in Angelaís eyes. "We wouldnít know where to look for her in the first place."
She nodded. "Youíre right. Weíll just have to wait and see what happens."
"Thatís all we can do." He put his hand on her head as she settled it on his shoulder, trying her hardest not to cry.
* * * * *
Brooklyn snored like a child who had taken cold medication. The loud, drawn out noises eventually found their way into his dreams, waking him up with a jump. He felt damp and cold, as if he had been taken out of Egypt completely. He did not know if that was the situation, as Brooklyn could hardly see two feet in front of him.
The breathing sound was constant in the other corner of this cell he had been taken to. The breath sounded almost unnatural, and the person whom it belonged to never really crossed his mind until he knew the truth.
"Whoís there?" he asked, his voice harsh from the drug.
"B... Brooklyn?" someone asked.
"Who are you?"
"I knew youíd come for me. It was all a matter of time," the voice, clearly female said.
"Meryt?" Brooklyn asked.
"Itís always been a matter of time with us, though, hasnít it?"
"I guess it has. What are you doing here?" Brooklyn stood, walking towards the sound of her voice.
"Harthoth got me, some time ago. I really donít mind it. Itís a nice change of scenery," Meryt told him.
"Well, you know, if youíre immortal."
Brooklyn found her, helping the ancient gargoyle to her feet. The hugged, Meryt leaning on him more than standing on her own. She was still cold to the touch, as she had been for so long.
"You shouldnít be weak," Brooklyn said.
"Itís a spell. It wears off when I move around," she explained to him. "Heís trying to keep me here. Iím not sure for what."
"Weíll find out," he said. "Weíll get out of here, and weíll stop it."
* * * * *
"You have a message," Lexingtonís computerized voice came through to Artusí office. Sighing, he set down his pen and stretched out his neck, wishing he could be out in the sky with some of the other patrollers. But unfortunately, a large part of being clan leader had become official duties, and that meant large amounts of paperwork he knew nothing about.
"Letís hear it," he said.
Artus looked at his computer screen, seeing it filled with a black-skinned gargoyle. His long white hair was pulled up in a ponytail on the top of his head, looking old and respectable at the same time.
"Greetings, Leader. I felt it my duty to inform you that the Timedancer is in safe keeping at my facility. I have no intentions of hurting him, and he should return to you shortly. It is my request that you stay as far away from here as you can, or my intentions might be persuaded to change. I bid you and your clan well, Leader."
The screen went blank.
Artus rubbed his eyes in frustration, recognizing the figure from the message that Brooklyn had received earlier that evening. Sunrise was almost upon the city, and he knew that if they were going to do anything, it would have to be before then.
"Lex, can you tell where that message came from?" Artus asked.
"I can tell you it was circled through the Vancouver branch of Black Circle Industries. Their head offices are based at an enormous facility in Cairo," the voice came back.
"I know where itís located," he said. "Thanks, Lex. Tell Sata and Alex to meet me in Transport Hangar C. Weíre going to be taking a little trip."
* * * * *
Artus, Sata, and Alex came into the transport hangar, ready for a battle at any minute. Artus had quickly grabbed a small pulse pistol from the castle arsenal, while Alex had donned the latest version of his personal exo-suit, the same crimson red color that his fatherís had been almost two hundred years ago. Sata looked as she always did, quietly ready for action, her twin blades at her side.
"We can land at the Cairo branch of Xanatos Enterprises," Alex said. "From there we can do what needs to be done."
"I trust you have a more detailed plan that?" Samsonís voice asked.
The three rescuers looked at the transport, seeing others from the clan waiting for them. Samson stood next to Broadway and Angela, while Persephone and Serena waited a few feet away.
"How did you know we were here?" Artus asked, a little surprised.
"Lexington let us know," Angela answered.
Artus and Alex walked over to Persephone and Serena, each taking them into their arms. Persephone drew back first, looking into her mateís eyes. "I hope you know what youíre doing."
"So do I," Artus told her. He kissed her, lovingly and deeply.
"I donít think weíve ever been apart. Not when there was the danger that you couldnít come back," Serena told Alex, her head lying on his shoulder. She did not care about the cold metal that covered her husband. She knew he was under there somewhere.
"I was alone every night before I met you," he said.
"Even when you were with..." Serena never liked to think about Alexís first wife.
"That was a different life. You make me complete now."
Sata had walked over to Samson and his parents, putting her hand on Samsonís shoulder. "I want to come," he said.
"It will be dangerous, my child."
"Itís Brooklyn. Heíd want me there," Samson argued.
"You canít go," Angela said, her voice already stern.
"Itíll be good for him, mom," Artus said, his hand and Persephoneís intertwined.
"Then I want to go, too," she said.
"Angela," Broadway protested.
"Iíve been having dreams, Artus," she told her son. "Theyíre getting worse, and I think going with you is the only way to stop them."
Artus looked at her eyes and nodded. There was not much arguing with his mother once she had made up her mind. "Very well," Artus agreed.
Alex kissed Serena and boarded the transport, a large pulse rifle in his hand. He chose not to look back. Artus squeezed his mateís hand, letting go slowly to pull his father in an embrace. "Sheíll be okay," Broadway said.
"She can definitely take care of herself," Artus said, stealing a glance at his mother. Artus walked up the transportís stairs, fighting his hardest not to look at Persephone.
If he had looked, he would have seen her talking to Samson. "You bring him back."
"Artus or Brooklyn?" he asked.
"Both," she said, smiling. She kissed his cheek, letting him go to fight a battle that would shape the person he would become when the real tragedy came upon them all.
He walked slowly to the transport, looking at his father. "Come home," he said, putting his arms around his youngest childís neck. Samson boarded, looking at his family the entire time.
Sata looked at those who were remaining, trying to find something to say to them. They had all been so good to her since she had arrived. They had given so much and asked for nothing in return. Now they were giving up their own family to save hers, and she had nothing to give them in return.
"Anna," she said suddenly. "Tell her I did not have time to come by."
"I will," Serena said.
Sata nodded and entered the transport. Broadway, Persephone, and Serena stood back as the launch doors opened, the wind harsh and cold this high up. The transportís thrusters lifted the pod and it shot out of the building and into the night sky.
"Alex must be driving," Serena said, smiling. Broadway gave a small chuckle and patted her on the shoulder. He turned to leave the hangar, guessing that this would all be over soon enough.
He could not have been more wrong.
* * * * *
The darkness was still all around them, growing into their skin with each breath. Brooklyn was not sure why Meryt was breathing, but guessed she always had, even though it was not necessary. A beep from a hidden intercom system drew both Brooklyn and Merytís attention away from their inner thoughts.
"Hello, my friends," Harthothís voice seeped through into the room.
"Whatís going on?" Brooklyn asked, not sure if Harthoth could even hear him.
"Youíll find out soon enough, Brooklyn. In the meantime, there are numerous ways for both of you to escape, all of which are open to you. As always, my friend, I mean you no harm."
"Then let us go," Brooklyn said. He found Meryt in the darkness again and helped her to her feet.
"At the moment, that is not a possibility. Itís almost over, Brooklyn," Harthoth told him.
"Iím going to try and get us out of here," he told Meryt. "Iím still with you, though, okay?"
"You donít think that he has every possibility mapped out and taken care of?"
"We canít do anything just sitting around here waiting to die, Meryt."
"I canít die," Meryt said, her voice trembling.
Brooklyn was silent for a moment. "Iím sorry. I shouldnít have said that."
"Just do what you have to do."
The Timedancer stood, feeling his way over to the cellís door. He found the intercom speaker to the right and dug his claws around the edges. It came out easily, the sparks from the electrical current providing Brooklyn with a few moments of precious sight. Sighing, he dug his hand into the console of wires, more sparks coming out.
"Youíre going to get electrocuted," Meryt told him. He looked over at her, now being able to see his old lover. She was curled in the corner of the cell, still as beautiful as he always remembered her being.
"Iím fine," he said. As if on cue, the door slid open, shedding more light into the room. "You coming?" Brooklyn held his hand out.
Meryt looked at him, her magically animated eyes adjusting to flush of light in the cell she had come to think of as home. She saw the gargoyle that she still loved standing in the light, his long white hair a mess from traveling. He looked so old, as if he had lived the same eight thousand years that she had. In many ways, she guessed that he had. The armor he wore, something she had not seen before, reflected the light directly on her face. Meryt smiled, remember all the times they had spent together, and how the first time she had met him had not been the first time for him. She wondered if the same could be said for the last time they would ever see each other.
"Yes," she said. "I guess I have to come."
* * * * *
Early 2066 -- Manhattan
"I can do this, if you want me to," Angela told her love.
Broadway clutched her hand as they went to meet their children. The three of them had gone to the park, and their parents had agreed to meet them before the sun came up. Both of them had broken the news that they would be going to Avalon earlier that evening, and most of them had been sad to see them go. Years later, when they returned, Broadway would realize what they had done, and a certain part of him would never be able to forgive himself for going along with it.
"I should do it," Broadway said.
He looked up towards the entrance of the park, seeing his daughter running towards him with all her might. These past few years had been hard on her, but he knew that she saw Manhattan as her home. At the time, he never would have guessed how upset the move made her.
"Daddy!" Gwenyvere yelled, jumping up in to his arms. Broadway held on to her in a big bear hug, twirling her around. He set her back down on the ground gently.
"Thanks for watching them," he told Artus. He found himself realizing many times that his son was around the same age that he had been when the massacre happened, and how very different their lives had been. He knew that Artus had a right not to come with them. His son was within the legal age, in both gargoyle and human laws, to be considered an adult. Broadway knew that it would break Angelaís heart if he chose to stay behind.
"We need to talk about something," Broadway said, taking Samson from Artusí arms. His youngest son latched on to his chest with his small talons, clearly happy to see his father.
"About what?" Artus asked.
"Yeah, about what?" Gwenyvere repeated.
"Your mother and I have been talking about this for a few months now. Itís something that we feel is best for all of us."
"What is it, dad?"
He looked at his son. "Weíre gong to Avalon," Broadway told him.
"We get to go visit Aunt Katherine?" Gwenyvere asked, excitement in her voice.
"No, sweetie. Weíre going to go there to stay," Angela said.
"We want you to know that you have a choice, son," Broadway said. "You can come or stay here. Thatís your right."
Artus nodded, looking at the ground in thought. "Theyíre part of my family too. If you think this is good for us, then Iíll go along." I just donít want you to come back and find me gone, the clanís future leader thought. He knew better than to say it out loud.
"But all my friends are here," Gwenyvere protested. "My life is here, Mom."
Angela sighed, seeing the argument as nothing more than her childish notion of getting her way. She never really knew that this was where it had all started. Perhaps if she had listened, even a small amount, their lives might have turned out differently.
"Well, weíre going, Gwenyvere," she said sternly. "You have to come with your family."
"My family is the whole clan."
"Thatís not how it is, anymore. Clans are more individualized than we used to be," Angela told her. "Why, your father didnít even have a name until he was Artusí age."
"Yeah, Iíve heard that," Gwenyvere said. "But we should stay here and finish what we started."
"Finish what?" Angela asked, her patience growing shorter. Broadway and Artus had stepped out of the conversation.
Gwenyvere sighed, much the way her mother just had. "There are people here who need our help. Thatís what we do." Broadway looked at her daughter, knowing that their conversation was over. She had said what he had been thinking but had been too afraid to say.
"I am not going to sit here and listen to this. You are not in a position to argue about this, Gwenyvere. Weíre leaving in a few days."
Angela turned in a huff, towards the direction of home. Broadway and Artus exchanged a glance, the elder gargoyle nodding as if to say, "Go on. Itíll be okay." His son followed his mother, taking his brother from his fatherís arms. Broadway put his large hand on Gwenyvereís back, kneeling down to get in her line of sight.
"Do I have to go?" she asked, tears starting to perk in her eyes.
Broadway nodded, pulling her into a hug. "Itís going to be okay, sweetie. Weíll be there for each other, okay?"
"I guess weíll have to be," Gwenyvere said. It was the real last moment of her childhood, but not quite the first moment of her adult life. In the years to come when she reflected back on this moment, of how her father held her in his huge arms and almost cried with her, she realized that this was why she always loved him. She realized that she could feel no different about him, because he was always there for her, even when she was not there for herself.
* * * * *
"Mother," Artus said, placing his hand gently on Angela's arm. She stirred, opening her eyes to see the roof of the transport pod. She looked around, memories coming back to her. She had fallen asleep again, and of course the dreams had continued.
"What is it?" she asked, her voice a bit dry.
"We're here," Alex told her. She looked at the human, seeing so many qualities of his father in the man's face. Angela was always grateful that he had not known the man his father used to be, the man Angela would have to hate because both her mother and father always hated him.
"Time flies, and all that," Alex said. He still had on his exo-suit, something Angela was glad he had.
"So, what's the plan?" Samson asked, sitting on a cot next Sata.
Alex turned to a computer screen, punching in a few directions. The screen brought up a map that Sata instantly recognized as Harthoth's facility. She knew that to the world it was Black Circle Industries, one of the major manufacturers of satellites, military weapons, and hundreds of other commodities.
"This is where the call came from," Alex said. "We're not really sure why Brooklyn would be here, but it's owned by James Harthesen. The facility is structured much like the Eyrie Pyramid, in that it houses all of its workers, including Harthesen and his wife. It's easily penetrable." Alex's mind shot back to the time almost fifteen years ago, when he had been saved by that mysterious gargoyle who had made him promise a favor in exchange for his own life. Alex had not thought about that event since it happened, and had no idea why it was coming into his mind now.
The human pushed the thought to the back of his mind, continuing the briefing. "Artus and I will be the first wave. We'll open a way for the rest of you to get inside and get Brooklyn. Once you have him, come back to the transport and head back home."
Artus stood, seeing the worried look in his mother's eyes. "Do not worry about us if we're not here when you get back. Alex has a base here that can get us home. The main priority right now is Brooklyn. Understood?"
Samson and Angela nodded. Sata was polishing one of her blades, ready to get this mission over with.
"All right, then," Alex said, locking down the taloned gloves of his armor. "Let's rock and roll."
* * * * *
This particular hallway was a complete contrast to the dark room they had just been held in. Brooklyn and Meryt wandered forward, neither of them expecting what was to come next.
"We're underneath his facility," Meryt said, remembering the tour Harthoth had given her before he had taken her captive.
"I just want to get us both out of here," Brooklyn said.
"I wish I could come with you. You know, back to Manhattan."
Brooklyn stopped and looked at her, not knowing exactly what to say. Finally, he nodded. "So do I."
The Timedancer stopped, looking at one of the many doors in the hallway. "What is it?" Meryt asked.
"This door," he said, holding his hands over its surface. "I feel drawn to it."
"What do you mean?"
"Like I should go in here." Brooklyn punched the button towards the side of the door, watching it slide open.
The inside of the room was dark, though not near as dark as their cell. Brooklyn stepped inside, immediately recognizing it as a rookery from the smell alone. The harsh smell of dampness and moss taking him back to his days as a youth.
"Why would Harthoth have a rookery?" he asked.
"Why would he have an egg?" Meryt said, pointing towards the corner of the room. Brooklyn walked towards it, seeing the large spotted egg under a dim light. The spots around it told him it was maybe five years away from hatching.
Brooklyn turned to Meryt, meeting her eyes. "This is getting weird."
"Brooklyn?" the voice came from behind them.
Both turned, Meryt not recognizing the figure that had come into the room. Brooklyn, of course, knew who it was immediately. It was a face he always thought of, one that had been burned into his memory as that of beauty and family. In a million years, he would never have put these pieces together, but in that moment, everything made sense. He knew where she had gone, and he knew that she was safe. Even when it made sense, though, Brooklyn was still confused.
* * * * *
TO BE CONTINUED...