Disclaimer: Highlander: the Series and all related concepts, events, and characters are the property of Rysher Television, Gauamont, Panzer/Davis Productions; they do not belong to me, and no money is made off of this. You know the drill.
Disclaimer: Gargoyles: the Animated Series and all related characters, events, and themes are the property of Disney Studios and Buena Vista Television; and are the creation of Greg Weisman, they do not belong to me. They are only being borrowed for entertainment purposes, and will be returned intact once I'm done with them.
Note: An answer, of sorts, to a story challenge posted by Desdemona at the Seventh Dimension Highlander Fanfiction Archive's message board. Gunthar Norman and Bryce Whitlock are characters of my own creation.
"Quicksilver" by Karrenia
The museum's long gallery of British Isles Antiquities soaked up shadows created by moonlight filtered in through the lead-paned floor to ceiling windows. The stately old building felt cold and empty without the lights that were normally turned on during visiting hours, and the sporadic times when the board of directors closed up to rotate exhibits, or to renovate the various wings. A tall, big-boned man, the hood of his jacket pulled down to cover his face, weaved through the hallways and rooms.
He held a flashlight in one hand, pausing to recall the map museum's layout he had committed to memory. He hoped he had also bypassed the security system. He did not want to be tripped up by the silent alarms and security video cameras.
Dealing with the security guard proved to be far easier than he had anticipated; simply holding a rag soaked in poppy seeds to his nose. Gunthar Norman shook his head in reflection, it had not taken as much as the substance as he'd anticipated. The guard had his eyes closed, already nodding off in his chair by the time he had crept up behind him.
After a few moments of mental inventory, Gunthar nodded in satisfaction, and continued on his way.
Unknown to Gunthar, ensconced under an accumulating pile of books, manila file folders, and assorted documents, a research associate by the name of Bryce Whitlock was working late on translating a manuscript written in Latin, determined he would finish it before he left the museum.
Gunthar Norman contemplated the events of several centuries ago, seeing these relics of the past, that might as well have been his present. "I can feel it," he whispered to himself under his breath. "It's almost within reach.
All these centuries of searching, of running into one dead end after another; I'm finally close to achieving my goal, and the ghost of my ancestor, Hakon, will at long last have his long deserved revenge against those Gods be cursed-gargoyles who killed him." Gunthar chuckled, a low rumble at the base of his throat.
"Wouldn't it be ironic if all those urban myths I've been hearing about since I arrived in Manhattan were true? Real live gargoyles protecting the city."
Gunthar paused to admire a sword in glass-fronted display case, while with his free hand he patted his own blade, safely hidden underneath the folds of his cloak. He was distracted a moment later by the sound of shuffling footsteps and a dry cough.
"Who the hell are ye?" the man snarled, irritated that this insignificant person would show up at just the wrong moment to ruin his perfect plan as he whirled around in alarm, mentally kicking himself for not having sensing the approach of someone else in the room with him.
"Nobody," the nervous and dead-tired research associate gulped, his Adam's apple bobbing in his skinny chest. Bryce back pedaled as far as he could go until he backed into his own desk. Bryce hedged around the stranger careful to maintain eye contact with him. Bryce did not have to see hard physical evidence of a gun, or another weapon, he instinctively knew that that this man could be considered armed and dangerous.
Bryce stumbled and almost fell over. He was able to recover in time to hit the silent alarm, and sighed in relief, as the intruder momentarily seemed oblivious of his presence. It didn't last very long.
Bryce fell into his desk chair, trying to hide his movements from the other man, reaching into the drawer where he kept a .38 caliber gun, which he told himself he had only bought for the last leg of the commute to his grungy apartment in the Bronx. New York wasn't actually the safest in the world, so he'd bought a gun to be on the safe side. He hadn't expected to actually have a need to use it at work.
The intruder lunged forward, a nasty looking knife in hand; a dark coiled fury in his dark eyes, making a stab at Bryce where he hid behind the desk. In the split second of that would have seen the glittering silver blade plunged into his chest, Bryce lifted his hand holding the gun in a white-knuckled grip and he pulled the trigger.
The bullet sped through the air and found itself lodged in the intruder's collarbone.
The resulting shock, and recoil of the gun's firing, was finally too much for Bryce to take and he fainted.
When he came to Bryce discovered that the security guard had responded to the silent alarm.
"Is he dead?" Bryce Whitlock stammered his face pale and his heart hammering like a blacksmith striking the metal of his anvil.
The security guard bent down next to the prone body, his hand shaking as well. He reached out a hand by increments to feel for a pulse. The bullet had entered at an angle, and apparently lodged itself in the clavicle. The man he had shot was tall, dark-haired, and wore equally dark clothing. A small crimson stain extended out from his shoulder blades. The guard folded back the hood of the cloak the man had worn, the flesh already going cold in rigor mortis. For a few tense seconds, the body seemed to move, but he dismissed that as his mind playing tricks on him, and pressed his suddenly clammy fingers to the man's neck feeling for a pulse. Nothing. The guard wiped his hand off on his denim jeans, and stood up again to answer the obviously shaken academic. "Yup, he's dead. We'd better call the authorities."
"Of course, there's a phone in my office," Bryce said. "I'll go make the call."
"Uh, what do we do with the body?" He was anxious to get away from the man he had killed.
"Dunno," the guard replied.
"Somehow," Bryce grimly replied, "That does not do much to reassure me," He tossed over his shoulder as he walked over to his office, the door he had left ajar.
Somewhere in mid-town
The lights were turned down to a bare flicker, except for the lamp mounted in its bracket over the metal slab. The doctor whose duty rotation meant he had to stand the graveyard shift in the morgue, arched his back, shifting around to get gain a more comfortable position in his metal swivel chair, filling the last of many of forms following the conclusion of his autopsy on the latest body to be delivered to the morgue. Despite, this one being a John Doe, he had some information gleaned from the autopsy.
'White Male, approximate age30-35, 220 pounds; black hair worn shoulder length, apparent nationality Western European, big-boned. Probable cause of death, a bullet wound lodged in the clavicle, and pierced all the way through with enough force to shock the victim into severe blood loss, the resulting internal bleeding indicates that death occurred at approximately 10pm the previous evening.' Doctor Hamilton rattled off all in one breath as he filled in the corresponding blanks on the medical form.
Gunthar awoke with the taste of rusty nails in a dry mouth along with a throbbing headache. He wondered how his flawless plan of obtaining the documents pertaining to the Stone of Destiny's whereabouts, along with the key to unlock its power, could have gone so horribly wrong. Shifting position on the chilly metal surface he had a least some evidence to go on: He finger-combed his lank black hair, and after a few moments gave it up as an exercise in futility. Rubbing the sleep grit out of his blue eyes.
Just then the body resting on the metal gurney twitched and began moving. Minutes later the 'deceased' sat up and glanced around, taking stock of his surroundings. The white sheet fell to the floor, unnoticed.
"What the hell?" How? You're dead!" Hamilton stammered, sweat beading on his forehead.
"I was dead, I got better," Gunthar grimly replied. "That's all you need to know.
"Do us both a favor, you fill out that death certificate, file the report, and then 'continently' forget that you ever saw me come back, or that any of this ever happened."
Unable to speak, Hamilton simply nodded.
Gunthar grinned, and scooped up the bag containing all the possessions he had on him when he was killed and brought into the morgue, methodically dressing, and leaving behind one very confused doctor, having decided against killing him, Gunthar slammed the door behind him as he walked out into the night.
The red and white classic car pulled up in front of the front entrance of the Eyrie Building, a large marble block with the stark black letters bigger than life, Xanatos Enterprises, on its surface.
"They used to say that the real estate agent retained by Steven Spielberg's production studios remarked once that his house with its high ceilings wouldn't be big enough to contain his ego," Matt Bluestone observed to no one in particular. "This takes the cake."
"We're here," Elisa announced. She turned the key in the car's ignition and unbuckled her seatbelt. That done she turned to her partner and fellow detective, holding up a hand a few inches from his mouth. "Not another word, Matt. Unless it has do with the case at hand?" She smiled, her dark eyes crinkling at the corners, and a mischievous grin curving her lips. "I've just had all I can take for one night."
Matt Bluestone, his red hair plastered to his face from the light drizzle that had been falling all night, returned her grin, and nodded. "Okay, okay. I get it So, if our conversational topics are limited to the case or the weather; how do you suppose a John Doe managed to get up off its slab, check itself out of the morgue, and walk out the hospital and make its way all the way across town, and then return to the scene of the crime?"
"I really don't know," Elisa replied, finger-combing the snarls out of her waist-length black hair, and then zipping up her red-leather coat to provide more protection against the cold and dampness of the rain. "Maybe talking to the guys will provide a fresher perspective on the case."
Entering the sky-scrapper, they tried to avoid appearing overwhelmed by the monument to exuberant wealth possessed by Xanatos and his uninhibited arrogance and in the extravagant way he had of showing it off. Being unimpressed was easier said than done.
Moving over to the bank of elevators that led to the upper stories, by mutual agreement they both took long, deep breaths preparing for the even longer climb up the stone stairs to the roof, and from there the ruins of the Dark Ages fortress that Xanatos had air-lifted by helicopter lock, stock, and gargoyle when he had constructed The Eyrie Building and taken possession of the crumbling fortress in Scotland.
Legend had it, that a clan of real-life gargoyles had been spent the last 10,000 years in enchanted sleep that rendered them stone by and by night. He had been skeptical, of course. He had an interest in the old castle for its economic and architectural value,' a welcome surprise had been to learn that local legends were true; that the gargoyles were living, vibrant, and feeling beings.
David Xanatos had once believed he could exploit the gargoyles to serve his own ends; and for a while they had been enemies.
Not until both sides had been forced to work together to save the life of his son, Alexander. That incident showed Xanatos that he they had so much more to gain be working together instead of at cross-purposes. A truce had been agreed to, and now he and the Manhattan Clan of Gargoyles were at least on speaking terms. Goliath, bless his noble heart, believed in Xanatos' promise, but somehow Elisa firmly believed that old saying that a leopard never truly changed his spots, and she would trust Xanatos any further than she could throw him.
With those thoughts running through her head, Elisa stopped on the threshold of the old castle's double doors, curling her hand around the metal door knocker, gasping for breath. Ever since she had befriended the gargoyles when they had awakened after a ten thousand year stone sleep, she was certain of one thing, being their friend and ally was certainly good for keeping in shape.
"Goliath!" she called out, as she swung wide the doors and entered the entry hall, Matt treading on her heels.
"Elisa!" Goliath called out to her, his bass voice rumbling, threatening to chip loose ever more of the crumbling masonry surrounding them.
Hudson glided forward, his old joints creaking, Bronx on his heels. A wrinkly smile on his wide, expressive face, he enveloped first Elisa and then Matt in his wings, and gave them a smothering hug. "Aye, tis a sight for these old eyes of mine to see the both of ye again."
"You old fuddy-duddy, a century hasn't passed by," Matt laughed, when he had recovered his breath. "Still, it's nice to be remembered."
"Hudson, stop it," Elisa. "If you're not careful you'll having him believing that you're going soft and senile, which is obviously not true."
"What's going on?" Broadway yelled from the open door of the kitchen that branched off from the main hall, holding Angela's hand, and a large submarine sandwich in the other, on his heels were the other members of the Trio: Brooklyn and Lexington.
"Elisa and Matt are here!" Goliath yelled back. "As much as I enjoy seeing you, is something wrong?"
"Nothing wrong so much as it’s puzzling as hell. We're in the midst of investigation. On the surface, it is pretty straight forward. I would call a standard breaking and entry at the Museum of Medieval Antiquities. The prep was shot and killed by a .38 caliber gun carried by a young research associate working late on translating a few manuscripts, " Matt launched ahead with his explanation.
"We've been trying to get a lead in this case, and so far it's getting us nowhere. It doesn't help matters that the body in question managed to get up under its own power, walk out of the morgue, and make another stab at stealing something called the Scepter of Alba and the Stone of Destiny," Elisa added.
"This walking corpse have a name?" Broadway asked.
"Nope," Elisa replied, "Which makes it all that more frustrating."
"We thought you have some more insights to share with us," Matt said.
"It is worth, what is the expression," Goliath grimly said, his dark wings folded around his massive shoulders so that it draped down to the stone floor of the castle parapet like a cloak. "Oh, yes, staking out again. If there is one thing I have learned since our 'awakening' in Manhattan, is that criminals often return to the scene of the crime."
"You'll get no argument from me," Elisa replied. "This might interest you, apparently the thief was after something the museum curator referred to as the Scottish Stone of Destiny, along with the Scepter of Alba, both originating from the late Dark Ages in Cumbria, what's now Scotland. Ring any bells?"
"Indeed," Goliath replied, "although the pivotal times where the Stone of Destiny played a pivotal role came after our time. It was reputed to possess magical powers."
"Then I'd lay odds who was after it," Elisa replied. "You know how obsessed Xanatos has been about securing immortality for himself.
"Agreed. Send the Trio," Hudson rumbled from his seated position in front of the television along with the garg-dog, Bronx curled up at his feet, big dark, intelligent eyes staring up at him, for all that he was the only one who could not speak in words.
"Macleod," Bryce greeted the older Scottish man, the fine lines around his eyes formed by genuine good will and an over tendency to smile at the oddest moments. He enjoyed being surrounded by things of the past. He had always been a firm believer that the past, as dry and dusty and it sometimes seemed to him; there were lessons to be learned, and he enjoyed digging them up, discussing with those of like minds. It didn't hurt to get now and then and enjoy the company of his small circle of friends. Even though, Macleod lived on the other side of the country in Seattle, it was nice that they corresponded on various matters, including the subject of his research.
"Bryce," Duncan Macleod returned the smile and pumped the smaller man's hand up and down in a firm handshake for all he was worth. "It's good to see you again."
"Likewise, Mac," Bryce replied, rubbing his hand once Duncan released it, and stuffing into the jacket pocket of his corduroy pants.
Richie, standing to one side, tightened his mouth, trying to hold his laughter in, having had experience of being on the receiving end of an equal forceful handshake. Mac just didn't realize his own strength sometimes. He waited while they exchanged pleasantries; and news of something or other that Mac was having Bryce research for him; and waited to be introduced.
He hadn't been paying attention, and tugged at the black silk tie Macleod insisted he wear to the unveiling event. He glanced at his reflection in a mirror hanging on the wall across the way from him. In the back of his mind, some wayward part of him knew he looked good in a suit, but another part.- How many parts of me are there? He wondered how anyone in their right mind would where one of these constricting torture devices disguised as neckties.
Richie inspected the exhibits, noting the suits of armor set upright as if they really were knights about to sally forth on parade; halberds raised at parade rest, swords hanging from their belt notches. Individual blades were displayed in glass-fronted cases; some pulled halfway out of their sheaths. Others were bared completely out, and gleamed in the light of the fluorescent lights.
"Richie," Duncan began.
Richie could practically see the pained expression on Duncan's face.
"Huh?" Richie replied, distracted from his thoughts. "I'd like to introduce you to Bryce Whitlock, an old friend of mine."
Richie, winning smile plastered on his face, turned around and firmly shook hands with the other man. "A pleasure."
Bryce laughed and returned the hand shake, "You've done wonders with this one, Macleod, if I didn't you know any better I'd say he was born to smooze with the rich and famous."
Richie silently cursed the double curse of blushing and a fair complexion. "Hey, enough with the laughs at my expense!"
"I suppose, it's only fair," Duncan laughed. "Bryce, did you find those manuscripts I asked for last summer?"
"Actually, I did," Bryce replied, gesturing with his hand to the open door of his office. "Why don't we look them over? Since I'm only an associate, I'm not responsible for organizing the events, the parties, and security. That headache's been left up to the director."
"And here I thought your ambitions were much higher than that," Duncan nodded agreeably, following him into his office, Richie bringing up the rear.
"The origin of this famous Stone is shrouded in myth. According to legend it came from the Holy Land were Jacob supposedly used it as a pillow in Biblical times. Transported through Egypt, Sicily, and Spain, it was taken to Ireland, where St. Patrick himself blessed this rock for use in the crowing of kings of the emerald isle," Bryce said.
"On November 15, 1996 the Stone of Destiny, which Scottish kings were crowned since time immemorial, was brought back to Scotland 700 years after the army of King Edward, the first of England, carted it off to Westminster Abbey in London." Macleod took up the story.
"I know where that is," Richie said. "Sounds like they were trying to get away with the logic that possession is nine tenths of the law."
"Okay, wise guy," Macleod continued, not missing a beat. "But do you know this? It was safely ensconced in Edinburgh Castle, and it weights approximately 152kg, the rock is known in places other than Scotland as the
"Stone of Scone" and has joined other Scottish regalia -crown, scepter, sword, and jewels-as a collection."
"Conflicts abound still about whether the stone that rests secure in Edinburgh Castle is the genuine article," Bryce said. "After so many centuries, it is hard to be sure anymore. Most of what we know is based on recorded legend and oral tradition. In other words, stories passed down from generation to generation, and only now written down."
"That's what we're here to find out," Duncan encouraged. "I'm dry. I don't supposed you have any gin in here?"
"No," Bryce replied, "but when we're through here, I'll take you both out, on me." He looked at Richie, you are old enough to drink?
"Urgh," Richie replied. "Yeah, I'm old enough to drink."
"Yes, well," Bryce cleared his throat. "Other legend suggests that the original Stone of Destiny was white marble instead of sandstone and carved with decorative figures- in no way resembling the plain slab of yellow sandstone with its single Latin cross carved into it."
"To make matters more confusing, "Duncan continued. " There may have been several copies, including the one that figured so largely in the fortunes of Bonnie Prince Charlie during the Battle of Culloden in 1783."
"He was the last of the Stuart Monarchs," Richie said.
"It is entirely within the realm of possibility that some canny Scots fobbed off a fake on Edward the first seven hundred years ago, hiding the original coronation stone where it would never be found."
“Even if the fabled Stone of Destiny is fake, "Bryce said, "it qualifies as a historical relic in its own right."
"What's that?" Richie cocked his head, completing a 180-degree turn, his red hair plastered to his face. "I thought I heard something."
"You hear odd things now and again in this place," Bryce soothed, "It's probably nothing." He paused to reconsider "Then again, it's probably the crewmen from the contractors we're using to renovate the east wing."
On the roof
Brooklyn glided to a stop on the tiled roof of the museum, trying to maintain his balance, as Lexington bumped into him from behind.
Broadway and Angela were still behind them by several yards, being more engaged in making lovey-dovey eyes at each other, and rising and swooping on the rising thermal air currents, then they were on investigating criminal activity on medieval antiquities. I guess, Brooklyn thought to himself, he couldn't blame them. He probably would have acted the same way, "Hell even though I've haven't found the "One" If I could find a reasonably attractive female gargoyle that would return my love. Listen to yourself, Brook, you're getting maudlin in your old age. Keep your mind on business. We''re here to keep the Stone of Destiny from falling into the wrong hands. "
Angela and Broadway broke off from what they were doing, and joined Lexington and himself on the rooftop.
"Now what," Lexington asked, looking up at Brooklyn, "You're the second in command, what's the plan?"
"I'm working on it," Brooklyn cheerfully replied, smiling down at the smallest of his rookery brothers. Lexington just gaped at him, and shook his head, trying to recall the layout of the museum's interior he had memorized when he'd brought it up on his laptop computer back at the castle. "I just hope it isn't a plan that translates: I'm making it up as I go along." he thought to himself, levering up a portion of the roof, making the sure the resulting opening was large enough for them to pass through.
"Okay, guys, down to business. We have an in," Brooklyn whispered to his companions and dropped through the gap to land on the floor of the gallery, his black wings folded spread to control his descent, as Angela, Broadway, and Lexington followed along in his wake.
Brooklyn shook himself, checking by hearing rather than with his eyes to be sure of the others whereabouts relative to his own. When he recovered, he learned that they were not alone in the art gallery. Three humans, one short and blond, and very skinny, wearing wire-frame glasses; the second taller and red-haired, wearing a leather jacket, looked like he could put a good fight. The last was taller, and more muscular, he also looked he'd been spoiling for a fight his entire life. "Not bad odds," Brooklyn whispered to Broadway who stood on his left side.
"Hello," Duncan drawled, stalling for time.
"Hey," Broadway tried, breaking up the suddenly tense atmosphere. "A funny thing happened to me on the way to the museum. What to hear about it?"
"Broadway," Angela warned, "This is neither the time nor the place for jokes."
"Uh, you the welcoming committee?" Lexington said.
"Usually criminals would be running away in fear by now," Broadway added.
"Wow!" Bryce Whitlock shouted, pointing a trembling index finger in the direction of the gargoyles. "What are those?"
"Bryce," Duncan began, a warning note in his voice. "Head for your office and lock the door," he added, sending the smaller man stumbling back in the direction of his office. "Don't argue with me; just do it."
"What you see, kiddo," Angela replied. "We're here to serve and protect the people of this city, including you. That is," she shrugged. "Unless you're the ones trying to harm people or steal the relics in the museum, than we're here to stop you."
"Interesting," Duncan replied, absently, distracted by the dull "Buzz' that began at the base of spine and worked its way up to the back of his neck, causing all the dark short hairs to stand on end. He exchanged a glance with Richie, noting that he to felt the 'Buzz, that signaled the presence of another Immortal. They both took a quick glance around in a 360 degree circumference, noting the locations of all possible entrances and exits; and trying to make the best guess of where the other Immortal would emerge.
Duncan, his hand resting on the hilt of the sword hidden beneath his leather coat, felt another sensation coming from where the creatures, who called themselves gargoyles, clustered in a tense semi-circle, he felt an itch, not unlike the one when Richie had first intruded into his four hundred year life; by breaking and entering his dojo. He shook his head to clear of the fogginess, and tried to convince himself that he must be mistaken; but the feeling persisted. It couldn't be that one of them is a pre-immortal? Could it? Okay, file at away, and concentrate on the task at hand." Duncan thought to himself.
Just then Gunthar Norman came into the room, his pale face turning ghostly white as he saw he was not alone, the telltale "Buzz" that signaled the presence of another Immortal overlapping. "Great, two of them." he muttered under his breath.
"Well, well?" Brooklyn drawled, "Look what have here. I don't know or care how you managed to walk around causing trouble when you should have been decently dead and buried by now," he paused to let the full effect of his glowing white eyes daunt his opponent, "but I got a news flash for ya, you're going down!"
"So the urban legends are true. Gargoyles do reside in New York," Gunthar remarked, casually drawing his sword from its sheath. "If memory serves, the terms of the spell cast by the Magus is that the Gargoyles would freeze you lot in a stone sleep for a thousand years until the castle rose above the clouds'. Gunthar moved forward slow step by slow step, drawing to stall for time, until he could achieve his objective.
"Who the hell are you?" Duncan demanded.
"Gunthar Norman." The man replied, with a small bow, in the formal way Immortals introduced themselves to one another.
Not to be outdone. "Duncan Macleod of the Clan Macleod," his sword all the way out of its sheath. "What do you want here?" he demanded.
"I hate déjà vu." Gunthar replied, avoiding the question, and casting his thoughts back to a similar incident that occurred almost a thousand years ago.
Midnight, 994 AD Scotland
A lone figure, his features covered by a dark hood, shoulders hunched the downpour of rain, cursed to himself and wished that there would be a break in the weather any time soon. As accustomed as he was to the dampness and cold of the Scottish moors in late fall, it was a nuisance. The only positive spin he could put on the situation was the fact that the rain kept the sentries off the walls and aided in his task. He levered open the servant's heavy side door, wincing slightly as the iron bolts that held it closed, creaked in protest. He made a mental note to have that situation remedied, and the offending servant flogged as soon as possible. Passing through the door, Gunthar climbed the stone stairs leading the art gallery where the ancestors of the present ruler, Prince Malcolm II of Castle Wyvern, collected his family heirlooms.
Passing to catch his breath on the landing, Gunthar passed through the open doorway and peered inside the open rotund, noting with a sardonic grin the thick coating of dust that sifted over his boots. Seemed that no one had been in here for a while now; either servants or the nobility. He supposed he could chalk that up to the current border tensions between Cumbria and the Viking Warlord, Hakon. The castle had been under siege going on four months now, with no sign of a letup any time soon.
"Who's there?" a voice called from the dim interior.
Coming out of his doze, Gunthar rocked back on his heels, startled. Just then, a form detached itself from a chair in the center of the room and moved towards him.
Gunthar drew his sword, narrowing his eyes to grow accustomed to the darkness. Whoever, or whatever it was, that faced him, seemingly did not suffer from that particular handicap. "You might do me the courtesy of telling me who you are first."
The stranger laughed, "No one important. I got bored of being under house arrest down in the rookery, and thought I'd come up here for something to do. Neat stuff they've got here," he continued in a conversational tone.
"The Eye of Odin, the Grimorium Arcanorum,' he trailed off, and cocked his head to one side, thinking something through. "As I mentioned, interesting stuff, tell me what someone like you would have in this stuff?" he added, the tone of his voice subtly altering from light to serious.
"Came here to look at the artifacts," Gunthar tried to stall for time, when his eyes adjusted to the darkness and see the other's eyes glowing white.
"Hmm," the other murmured, "the Relic Hall is open during the day and the evening, but given the position of the moon coming in through the ceiling windows," he flexed his shoulders, and bat-wings with red and black highlights unfurled. "You are a thief, or at best a deserter looking to for easy pickings of loot. Not going to happen."
Gunthar took a few cautious glances around at the available options; only one way out, down the stone steps, the way he had come from, a retreat. "Damn, a gargoyle. What's the thing doing in here, when it should be defending the castle according to the pact it's kind has with Prince Malcolm?" He dismissed the thought as he would swat a fly, and concentrated on keeping his footing and maintaining his grip on his sword.
The gargoyle, for that was what the stranger was, lunged forward and barreled into Gunthar, who reflexively brought his sword into play in a defensive thrust., ending up getting the hilt stuck in the wings. Releasing the grip, he failed to recall how many steps lay between him and the open door leading to the stone steps and out of the rotunda. He stumbled and went careening down the stairs. "You haven't seen the last of me!" he shouted.
Gunthar was looking for the one called Goliath. None of the gargoyles he saw, matched the description of the lavender skinned, seven foot leader of the Wyvern clan, who been the cause of death for his ancestor, Hakon, and the Captain of the Guard whom had fallen to their deaths all those centuries ago.
To make matters worse; the hackles on the back of his neck were standing on end from the presence of two others in the room. "Blast it all to bloody hell, what are a pair of Immortals during here? If I didn't know any better
I think they were in collusion together against me.") As these thoughts flashed through his mind like liquid mercury, the wheels were already turning in his mind as how to turn these events to his advantage.
The apparent leader was brick-red with black highlights in his wings; it bothered Gunthar no end, that this particular gargoyle was vaguely familiar.
The big one with the potbelly was deep blue and stood protectively by the side of a female gargoyle. She wore her brown hair in a tight braid that hung all the way down her back..
Gunthar exchanged mutual stares for a few tense heartbeats, measuring an exchanging the relative strengths of each other. He curled his right hand into a fist, glancing around at the assembled gargoyles, unable to match faces with the description given to him by late great and then some ancestor, Hakon. Beside them, stood two Immortals, neither of whom he recognized. He dismissed the shorter red-head as a relative newbie, and gave closer inspection of the tall dark-haired man. Definitely someone to be reckoned with. The Buzz simmering down as he finished taking stock of his surroundings.
"Uh oh," Broadway murmured, "This can't be good."
Gunthar, with the speed and dexterity of a magician whipped the Stone of Destiny from where it rested in his pocket. Unwrapping the canvas strips he had carried it in.
"A fine joke on History, and with the Stone of Destiny in my hands, I will be able to change the outcome to one of my own choosing." That said, he crouched down near the glass display case where a jeweled scepter gleamed in the reflected light of his flashlight. Embedded in the apex of its cross was a crystal orb the size of his fist, and in the center was a ruby.
"Uh, Brooklyn," Lex whispered, "I'm no expert on sorcery, but is that thing supposed to be glowing like that?"
"I don't know," Brooklyn replied.
Gunthar removed the Stone of Destiny, holding it aloft until its facets caught the light of moonlight through the high arched windows. Slowing rotating it right and then left, he allowed them all a good view of the legendary stone, is ruby gem in the apex glowing like blood. Seeing them, tense up, Gunthar laughed, his voice hoarse. "At long last I will have revenge and my ancestor, Hakon, will finally rest in peace!" Bringing the stone level with his own beating heart, Gunthar began chanting in an odd mixture of Latin and Old Norse.
Richie heard him mutter, "I really hate this magic stuff, it's not good or evil in itself, I believe that; it's the character of the wielder that determines the outcome; but I don't have to like it."
Scintillating silver light, moving far faster than they eye could see or the mind capture into a coherent picture. To Richie, it was like staring through the top of a kaleidoscope tube and watching the various geometric
colored bits of glass go around and around until they finally resolved themselves into a pattern that made sense. Crouched in wary pose beside Richie, the one called Brooklyn, confronted the stranger, his eyes glowing with a silver-white light. "Tell me again about deja-vu," he growled.
"You will just have to wait your turn," Gunthar replied.
"I've had it," Duncan declared, moving forward, sword in hand. "If it's all the same to you, I will take my turn and your head."
"Uh, Mac, is that such a good idea?”" Richie, worried about his friend and teacher.
The whirling colors coalesced, sparks spitting from the stone and from the floor of the gallery. Everyone in the room had to shield their eyes from the glare to prevent going blind. When it subsided, there seemed to be less oxygen in the room to breathe; they were being slowly smothered in some slow, cruel, trap making it harder to think, or to move.
Duncan slammed straight into an solid, but invisible wall, cursing under his breath, but sheer stubborn will drove him forward, with an equal measure of desire to see Gunthar's smirk wiped off of his face. Duncan could faintly hear Richie yelling behind him, but blocked it out, and plowed through the barrier.
Gunthar broke off his chanting, the hand with the Stone of Destiny falling to his side, his face beaded with sweat, an astonished look on his face replacing the confident grin. "You really should not have been able to do that. I was just about to get to the good part."
"And that would be?" Duncan demanded.
"The part where I use the Stone of Destiny to re-enact the spell of Eternal Stone Sleep began ten centuries ago by the Magus, that allowed the gargoyles to survive, and reawaken in the present. I will literally, rewrite history, so it will be as if it never happened, and at last I will have my revenge."
"As my student would no doubt say at this point," Duncan grimly stated, "That is so not going to happen. I neither know nor care what kind of bone you have to pick between you and these gargoyles, "
"Since when did this become a spectator sport," Gunthar asked, gesturing with the opposite hand in the direction of the cluster of watchers standing in tense attitudes on the opposite side of the barrier.
"That your way of getting out of a fight?" Duncan causally held his sword hilt, so it's cutting edge was held parallel to the floor. "If you hadn't so helpfully outlined your intentions, I would have naturally assumed you were head-hunting; but I guess that's not the case."
"No it wasn't," Gunthar replied, shoving the Stone of Destiny back into its casing, and pocketed it. "I'm willing to make an exception."
"Fine by me." Duncan responded by flexing his shoulders, to loosen up the kinks in his muscles, at the same time sizing up his opponent. “Big, muscular; appears quick on his feet despite his size. No worries here,’ Duncan thought to himself.
Gunthar lunged forward his own sword levelled, his two-handed grip enabled him to keep control as he swung the sword in wide arcs. Duncan leapt backward and took advantage of an opening in the other's defense. The other man had a tendency to lean too far forward on the follow through; ending up with his feet crossed beneath him.
Gunthar grinned, showing all his teeth, and began circling forcing Duncan to counter, keeping his left shoulder exposed to his opponent's blade. Duncan tuned out the shouting from his audience, as it was either a distraction or Richie's well-intended advice.
Duncan tried a whistling arc with his katana blade and angled the cut past the enemy guard. He attempted a fient which was parried, and then another lunge; the blow landing with the chill ring of metal on metal. Gunthar tripped up, making the mistake of getting caught with his feet crossed, and Duncan immediately exploited his advantage. Duncan's slender katana sword and Gunthar's heavy Claymore spun in and out in an intricate but deadly dance of silver light. Duncan feinted again, knocking Gunthar's sword from his sweaty grip, placing the blade against the other man's neck. "Guess who won?"
Gunthar slumped to his knees, and looked up into Duncan's eyes. "Kill me, now. And make it a clean death, Macleod. I was foolish to believe in a legend of the Quicksilver, no doubt has lost much of its potency over the centuries."
Duncan stared down at the man wondering how anyone, even an Immortal could place the outcome of a battle on a centuries old talismans. Nodding his head, he delivered the coup de grace, removing Gunthar's head from his body. Gunthar toppled over, and lay still.
Duncan sunk to his knees on the floor, waiting for the inevitable transfer of power from the Quickening, ironically hoping that the magical barrier, Gunthar referred to as the "Quicksilver." would protect the others from the coming electrical barrage. As it was, he still lost his grip on his sword as the storm of the incredible energy enveloped him, ran its course, and then subsided.
"Now what?" Angela asked, bending over the dead body.
"We'll call the police, let them deal with it," Broadway answered, ignoring Brooklyn's arched white eyebrows. "Good enough."
"In the meantime I think we should make ourselves scarce," Brooklyn added. "It won't take long for the police backup to get here, and the sunrise is less than two hours away."
"Guys," Elisa looked up from where she and Matt were conferring in low tones, "Go. We've got things covered here. Elisa glanced over at Duncan and Richie, "I think that's your cue to leave also."
The night after
Duncan stood on the parapets of Castle Wyvern, feeling a mixed sense of longing for days gone by and vertigo. He made the mistake of staring down at the congested concrete streets of upper Manhattan, many hundreds of feet below him. Although, he had witnessed it with his own eyes, he still had a bit of difficulty wrapping his mind around a couple of facts: One, that the castle stood here at all, atop one of the tallest modern ivory towers he had ever seen in his four centuries of life; and two, the fact the its inhabitants were living, breathing gargoyles trying to protect and serve in the modern era, hailing as they did from a Scotland as it was almost a thousand years ago.
"I hate to burden with another concern after everything that has happened, "Goliath began, "But you have a look about you of a person who has been many different places and seen a great deal." he trailed off.
"What did you have in mind?" Duncan asked.
"I was wondering if you had previously encountered any other gargoyle clans, and if so, if they thrive, as we have," Goliath said.
"Goliath, I've heard a great deal about you," Duncan began, noting the look in his eyes, "Don't worry, I believe in taking that proverbial grain of salt, your troops admire you a great deal, as does Detective Maza. He trailed off,
"Don't let her hear I said that, or she might be inclined to rearrange my features by breaking my nose."
"Indeed," Goliath rumbled in amusement: “Although, Elisa has never felt the urge to improve my looks by breaking my nose. Brooklyn, on the other hand has had several close encounters with sharp-edged objects threatening to remove his beak."
"His beak?" Duncan echoed, startled, "Oh, his nose. But getting back to your original question, I'm afraid I'm going to have to disappoint you; until two nights ago, I've never run into gargoyles before, not live ones at any rate." The fact that they spent those intervening ten centuries trapped in a magical stone sleep wasn't lost on him.
"As I suspected, lad,” Hudson added, moving over to stand beside them. "Goliath at one time took a magical 'world tour,' and encountered a few remaining gargoyle clans; At one time, there were clans all over the globe, but human distrust of what they perceived to be 'monster's, and general attrition caused our people to all but die out."
Duncan glanced at Richie, who leaned against another outcropping of rock that he had been told was where the gargoyles took up positions during the day when they turned to stone to sleep; and was engaged in chatting with one of the younger gargoyles, Brooklyn. The confusion of the last several days prevented Duncan from mulling the matter over in more detail, but a feeling nagged at the back of his mind and refused to go away. It was a faint trance, but it was entirely possible that Brooklyn was a pre-immortal. "The magic of the Stone o Destiny wasn't quite what Gunthar Norman had evidently expected, and it turned on him." he remarked to the old gargoyle, Hudson, who stood beside him.
"That is why I've never held much stock in sorcery, lad," Hudson said, nodding, "I prefer to trust in what I can, see, hear, smell, and touch. Like my good steel blade here. Much like yours," Hudson added, gesturing with his left hand to where Duncan's katana sword was resting in its sheath.
"So what's it like?" Richie asked, rocking back on his heels, shifting from one to foot to the other.
"What?" Brooklyn asked, fingers combing through the fall of his snow-white hair.
"You know? This, 'We're gargoyles, we protect and serve the city and its people?" Richie rattled off all in one breath, recalling something that Angela had said when they were fighting Gunthar Norman.
"Like everything else, it has it ups and downs. More of the former and less of the latter, ever since we got some of the more vehement anti-gargoyles enemies off our backs," Brooklyn replied, grinning and showing all of his sharp white teeth.
Richie stared at him for a few heartbeats, not certain if Brooklyn was being serious or yanking his chain. He had shown a tendency to show off a dry sense of humor, one that Richie instinctively liked and could appreciate. "I guess so. Richie smiled, "I hate to sound corny, so is this the start of a beautiful friendship?"
"Hah!" Brooklyn laughed, almost falling down. "Funny you should ask that, because that's the same thing Elisa said when she first stumbled on us, literally."
"Goliath," Duncan called the big leader over to where he stood. "There's one more matter that I wished to discuss with you before we head for home.
"Of course," Goliath replied. "What is it?"
"Your second in command," Duncan replied, wondering just how much he should tell Goliath about Immortals, or the his impressions about Brooklyn's pre-immortality status. Thinking about it, he had held out as long as possible when it how come to Richie's circumstances. Richie hadn't been one of the easiest kids to live with and train. In fact he had been a royal pain the ass," Duncan thought with some mixed fondness and irritation, Look at how far he's come now.
"You are going to think this is crazy to begin with, then again it's probably not the strangest thing that's ever happened to you," Macleod said aloud. "Until almost three days ago, I wouldn't have believed that gargoyles were anything more than Medieval water-spouts carved on religious edifices to educate and frighten the masses, then again…"
"I understand where you're coming from," Goliath nodded encouragingly. "You were saying, about Brooklyn?"
"It's like this, you see I am one of many others who have a very long life-line,' Macleod said, feeling his way as he spoke the words. "We're Immortal, and we can't die unless some takes our heads, and with our power. We can die," Duncan added, seeing the skeptical look form on Goliath's head, his brow furrowing with tiny lines. "There are others like us, some good, some evil. We're only safe on holy ground."
"As fascinating as all this is," Goliath interrupted, raising a hand to stop him, "Let's say, for the sake of argument, I believe you. Trust me on this one, Mr. Macleod, I'm not stranger when it comes to sorcery and the supernatural. Are you familiar with someone called Demona? She's Immortal to a degree, due to a spell cast by the Weird Sisters a thousand years ago."
"Never heard of her," Duncan replied, wondering this was going.
"All I am saying is, if Brooklyn is an Immortal, how come we haven't seen it yet?"
"He hasn't had first death? Shown any signs of aging at a slower rate than is usual for your people?" Duncan asked, waving a hand vaguely at Brooklyn's fall of snow-white hair.
"No, the white hair is natural for him," Goliath laughed. "He's had several close shaves, been caught in the crossfire of panicked criminals with guns, threatening to fire at hi. Other than that, nothing unusual."
"Well, If I could ask you for one favor," Duncan said.
“Name it," Goliath nodded.
"When Brooklyn does realize that's he's Immortal, call me," Duncan added, handing a white card with his name and the address of his dojo in Seacouver, Washington, "He'll need someone to help him through the growing pains. OH, and if I'm not available, please call the other name on the card. My kinsman, Connor Macleod. Same clan, different vintage."
"I believe that I understand," Goliath grinned, and rustled his wings to remove the kinks from his shoulder muscles. "If it's agreeable to you and Richie, I would like to say that we have made some excellent allies this evening." He paused, "Scratch that, good friends."
"Good friends. While we're on the subject: There are many rules, and the number one rule I want you to help reinforce in him:" Duncan stopped for breath, and continued. "Make absolutely sure he doesn't lose his head."
"You have my word," Goliath promised, exchanging conspiratorial winks and a firm handshake. "Let us return to the party."
"As long as you have brandy stored somewhere in this rock of castle you call home," Duncan agreed.
Chapter 2: Sea-Change
Duncan calls in a favor of his fellow Immortal, as he would put it, same clan, different vintage, Connor Macleod to act as Brooklyn's mentor.
Disclaimer: Highlander: the Series, and all related characters, concepts, and events belong to Rysher Television, Panzer/Davis Productions, and their respective creators and producers, and are not mine. I am only borrowing them for the story.
B) Gargoyles: the Animated Series is the property of Disney Studios and Buena Vista Television. Note: This is the sequel to "Quicksilver."
"Sea- Change" by Karen
Brooklyn crouched atop the roof of the venerable old brownstone mansion he had scoped out earlier that week. He could imagine, that if any chance passerby happened to glance up and see him grinning down at them, that is, without the rain coming out of his mouth, it might startle them out several years' growth, at seeing a real, breathing gargoyle.
Urban myth becoming urban reality, not that he was there to improve public relations between humans and gargoyles, that was Elisa and Matt's job, aside from serving and protecting the citizens against criminals. The duty of a gargoyle was similar, but in done their own unique way. His purpose was helping make the city a safer place to live for all humans and gargoyles alike.
With that in mind, Brooklyn shifted his weight, trying to find a more comfortable position on the crumbling stone, wincing as he followed down the track of chipped stone and dirt that landed with a thud on the ground far beneath him. He marked where it landed with his eyes, the gray flaring to white as he noted where the sound attracted the attention of a group of dark-clad men wearing sweat-shirt, the hoods, pulled up close to cover their faces.
Brooklyn shrugged, the movement making his black wings flexes and settles back to into their original position, in the manner of a cloak down his back. His movement caused the mortar to crack and sent several good-sized pieces of stone hurtling down to the street far below. Shifting his weight, he let a growl to slip out, at the same time watching the blocks of stone fall. It felt like watching events pass by in slow motion, like being underwater; rather peaceful and sleepy-inducing when you stopped to think about it; that is until the thud of crashing rock, wood and dirt hit with a jarring impact.
Several of the smaller pieces showered a group of cloaked and hooded men wearing gray hooded sweat suits, and gold chains around their necks. A few looked up; others reached to pull the drawstrings of their hoods tighter.
Swearing in colorful language, as a group, they turned their attention back to the deal that was in the offing. "Don't worry none about it, man," the leader muttered to the others huddled around him, "Them old buildings are always falling down. Let's get back to business."
"What if," the smallest of the group whispered, glancing up at the roof of the old building and then back at the dirt under his feet. "It was bad enough when all we had to worry about were the cops, now they've got them gargoyles…. And 'they' always show up at exactly the right time to ruin things." He shivered, and not from the cold of New York in wintertime. Darting nervous glances at the roof of the old building far above and equally nervous glances down the mouths of dark alleys, he stuffed his hands deep into the pockets of his gray sweat pants and shuffled his feet.
"Don't even go there," the leader shrugged and rolled his eyes at his flunky. "If we don't get this over with sometime soon, you won't even have to worry about them gargoyles, because if they don't get you, the cops will."
"I dunno," the other man said. "It don't seem fair." He shuffled his feet "You got the goods?" kicking several loose chips of paving stone with the heel of his leather boots.
“Hate to burst your bubble, man" the leader said, "Life ain't fair. Now are we going to do this or not?" speaking and gliding forward at the same time until he could all but smell the beery breath of the other man, and leveled a glare at the shorter, mousy man.
"We gotta wait for the client to arrive," another member of the gang remarked, shrugging his shoulders, the gold armbands around his wrists glinting in the moonlight shadows and the small amount of light that seeped in from the street lamps that lined the road.
By the time the long hand on the leader's gold faux Rolex watch had reached had wound itself almost to the 12 and the short hand had met up with it, the client finally elected to make an appearance. The car he pulled up in was black with its smoky windows tinted purple.
The driver left the motor idling and pulled the car to a stop at the intersection of two alleys. Getting out, he walked around to the side door and pulled it open at an odd mincing gate, so that he chiseled profile showed to the men watching this entire procedure. He stepped to one side to allow his passenger to get out. He was tall, dark-skinned, but light enough to be in the realm of cinnamon brown.
"Dracon," the gang leader greeted, his tones even but the newcomer could detect the undercurrent of irritation and threat in the other's voice. "It's about time. Much longer of keeping me waiting and I would have taken the entire stash and bolted. I do have other customers as exacting as you, and they show up on time, no matter how much you're paying to secure the goods for you."
Dracon shrugged, the movement sending his dark hair to come loose from the ponytail he had tied it back in. "Your clientele is not my concern. I was unavoidably delayed. Now do I get my merchandise or not?"
"Fine. Let's just get this done." The leader nodded, and with a wave of his hand he signaled to one of the others to come forward with a metal briefcase. The man stepped forward, crouching down, and then undid the fastenings on the case, and flipped the lid open so that everyone had a good view of the contents.
Just as the leader was about to drop his arm back to its relaxed position by his side, a dark shadow swooped down from the roof of the old building and landed directly in front of him. "Ergh!" was his last coherent thought.
Brooklyn plummeted down to the ground to land with a resounding thud that jarred his bones, and he quickly shook it off. His eyes glowed white and a growl low formed low in his throat. Eyeing the group of druggies with interest, 'Not too tough," he thought to himself.
The one that held open the briefcase took one look at him, and let out a high-pitched scream and bolted down the nearest alley. "One down', Brooklyn thought.
"Game over, boys," Brooklyn said aloud, making sure they were all looking at him, his tail lashing behind him, wishing he still owned the leather jacket that his rookery brother Lexington has once given him when they had been trying to restore an old-fashioned Harley Davidson. That was long gone, both the leather jacket and the ride; the jacket had been ripped to shreds, the motorcycle blown up.
"Ignore it" The leader yelled, "Grab the loot and take the money and run!"
"Shoot it!" one man shouted, making a grab for his gun and began shooting wildly in every direction, ineffectually not hitting anything except for the walls of the surrounding buildings and a few dumpsters.
"I ain't shooting it," another shouted.
Brooklyn brought his wings forward and hunkered down trying to present as small a target as possible, wondering what he should do next. All he wanted to do was get them from finalizing their deal, subdue them, and leave them for the cops. He wasn't that keen on letting them use his hide for target practice, even if it appeared that they could use the practice. 'Come on, guys," Brooklyn tried, stalling for time,
"Put the guns away, and we can do use this the easy way, you take a few swings at me, I land several blows on you, tie you up and leave you out to dry for the boys in blue. How does that sound?"
"Go to hell!"
"Nothing is ever easy," Brooklyn muttered and darted forward swung and connected with the man's jaw, snapping his head back. On the follow through, he lifted the man with dark-haired man off his feet, holding him by his collar, and launched him in the direction where his fellows clustered, splintering them apart like so many pins in a bowling alley.
Completing a 180 degree half-circle Brooklyn glanced for other opponents, and was about to call it in using the portable radio Elisa had given him last month for his naming day, when he felt a sudden stiffness in his left shoulder blade. He capped his wings so that they hung down his back like a cloak, and could feel dampness coat his wings. He turned around and growled, irritated more with them than with himself for allowing them to get a shot in. He dodged another shot and leapt atop one of the nearby dumpsters, prepared to jump into the air and take off on the night rising thermals of air. "Okay, guys, I can take a hint. After about the third or fourth not so subtle hint, I can tell when I'm not wanted. But this isn't over."
Brooklyn took off into the night air, gliding back to the Eyrie Building and home, wondering how he could disguise the stiffness in his left shoulder from the others, because one, they would either chew him out for getting hurt in the first place. Or two, Angela, most likely would coddle him and try to nurse it back to health. As he glided on the wind, his wings spread to full length, Brooklyn figured that all he would night was a good day of sleep, and once he woke up the following evening, he would be as good as new.
In the shadow of a dumpster and a pile of discarded rags, a bum warming his hands at a garbage can fire, witnessed the entire thing.
Meanwhile, Connor Macleod stepped out of the double doors of his studio apartment in Greenwhich Village, on his way to Madison Square Garden to take advantage of the season tickets he had purchased a month ago, on a whim, and he had never had an opportunity to use. As he entered the stream of traffic that was New York on any given day, elbowing his way forward, he could not help but think, that if there was anyone who would appreciate a good sporting event involving lots of action coupled with lots of imbibing of beer, that person would be his fellow clansman and friend, Duncan Macleod.
"Too bad he lives all the way across the country," Connor muttered aloud to himself. "He doesn't realize just what he's missing. In the back of his mind he knew he should have even an iota of curiosity about the package and its accompanying letter that had been delivered to his home two months ago, but one thing had led to another, and he never got around to opening it. Duncan didn't often communicate with him, and when he did, it wasn't exactly a social call.
Usually it involved, Duncan's student and protégé, Richie Ryan, and usually one or both was in trouble, often involving danger from another Immortal participating in the cosmic Game. Connor hated to admit, but after 800+ plus years or more of being Immortal, the last thing he needed to take on was another student, and for the life he couldn't imagine how Duncan put up with it. Thinking of the young man in question, maybe the problem was both were fond of the kid, and that was part of the problem. "Get over it, old man,' you're not here to get all nostalgic, you're out tonight to enjoy yourself, and that's exactly what you are going to do!" he mentally chided himself.
The taxi driver let him off at the entrance to the arena; Connor came to the belated realization that he should have left at least four hours earlier if he wanted to avoid the congested crowds swarming into the arena. The place was packed with people. It was good thing he had bought season tickets, which afford him good seats. As it was he still had to elbow his way through the crowds, oblivious of the stares and shouts to watch where he was going. In a momentary clear spot he raised his arm so he could check the time on his wristwatch.
The hockey game was scheduled to begin in exactly fifteen minutes, which gave him just enough time to stand in line at one of the concession stands, order a hotdog with relish and ketchup, a beer, and still make it to his seat in time for the start of the game, that is if he hurried. Picking up the pace, Connor marched over to a nearby concession stand, ducked to avoid the low ceiling, cursing as he dragon-headed cane caught on a woman's purse, and together they managed to untangle from each other.
He apologized and then went off to stand in line, fuming with impatience. Ten minutes later, packet in hand, he found his seat and settled himself to enjoy the game, allowing the sounds of the crowd, the whir of the Zamboni machine cleaning the ice of the rink, and the throbbing, pulsing sound of piped in rock and roll and music to wash over him. It had been a very long time since he had felt this good and he was going to pump it for all it was worth.
Connor had just settled in to enjoy the thrill of forced in overtime power play as the New York Nets elected to have their star player poised at the blue line to score the winning goal. His opponent, clad in red and green striped with white which to Connor's admittedly jaded sensibilities, the goalie appeared like nothing so much as a giant Santa Bear wearing knees pads and overstuffed padding, blocking the wire mesh cage with his entire body. Connor found that he was cheering at the top of his lungs right along with the rest of the crowd. Savoring the last sip of his beer, wondering if he should head off to the concession stand for another.
Connor munched on his hotdog, dabbing at the trickle of ketchup that leaked out of the bun and onto his chin. Polishing it off, he turned his attention back to the game. Groaning as the number 25, wearing red and white colors knocked his counterpart into the wooden panels, and the referee skidded onto the ice and broke them apart using the width of his out flung arms, which meant said player was sent off to the penalty box.
All of which meant, the opposing teams granted a power play. Connor realized that if the puck went out of bounds he was in a perfect position to catch the puck. Grinding his teeth, Connor settled down to see how things turned out, thinking as he did so, that hockey was even more exciting than basketball, and a lot more bone-jarring.
Several hours later, and well into the second period, the puck went sailing over the walls of the ice arena and into the general vicinity of the bleachers; Connor and everyone around him stood up, some even leaning precariously over the guard rails. Connor made a grab for the black oblong object, and nearly fell out onto the rink; when he recovered his balance, he was vaguely aware that a little boy of about ten or show had claimed the puck. Connor shrugged and collapsed back into his seat. Just then, Connor felt a dull buzzing begin at the base of his spine. It worked itself all the way to the base of his skull.
It was the early warning sign that made all Immortals instantly tune out of whatever they were doing, having a conversation, making love, drop everything and instantly take a quick look around to watch for potential enemies out looking to take their heads. Connor, had been around a long time, he knew the signs.
As it was, Connor nearly fell out of his seat, jostling his nearest seatmates in the over packed hockey arena, oblivious to the roar of the crowd, the thud of smacking hockey sticks and bodies crashing into the wooden boards, and the cold temperature of the ice. His bemused rather dazed state went unnoticed by his the crowed that were on their feet cheering on their team's winning goal. It did not even register on his dazed senses that the game was over and the crowd was leaving the arena in droves.
For a few seconds Connor could not remember where he was or what he was doing there, but it gradually came back to him. Connor felt a large hand thumping him on the back and trying to pour liquid down his throat, and a voice in his ear asking him if he all right.
By this time Connor realized that buzz could be classified as a headache, but if there had been an Immortal around, he or she was gone now, our just moved out of range of his admittedly drunk senses. Connor shook his head to rid it of the attendant cobwebs, and tried to focus on his surroundings.
"Hey! A low tenor voice asked in an anxious tone of voice.
Connor shook the hand off, trying to focus on the voice, but he was drunk, and trying to get to his feet too quickly was a mistake. On the first try, his knees refused to support him.
On the second try, he felt the hand and the person it was attached to, steady him and almost drag, carry him down the steps to the arena's exit. Connor's drunken stupor had subsided by then, and he was able to look the other in the face. What he saw was 5"8 humanoid creature with black wings with red highlights, a beaked nose, and brick-red coloring, and gray eyes. Its mouth was creased in a thin line that Connor took to be a smile. Wondering if he was hallucinating, Connor decided it wouldn't hurt to initiate a conversation, because it seemed friendly enough.
"Uh, hello" So, that was that a good game or what?"
"Yeah," Brooklyn replied, "I kinda only caught the last forty five minutes though, because I was watching it from up where they announce the scores and run the advertisements, but it was a great game." Brooklyn replied, pointing with one hand to the score board and the square roofed building below the board.
Connor glanced in the direction Brooklyn pointed, and wondered how or why anyone would watch a hockey game from the roof of the arena. That thought was jolted out of his head with Brooklyn's next question.
"Uh, mister, you seem like a pretty reasonable guy," Brooklyn said, "When I arrived, you looked you were enjoying yourself a little too much, so I came down to make sure you didn't wind up on the ice.
"Thanks, I think," Connor replied, wondering if this was a waking dream. "Uh, I don't mean to be rude, but what are you?"
"I don't know, if you'd believe me if I told you," Brooklyn replied. "but thanks for asking." Brooklyn drew himself and capped his wings. "I'm a gargoyle." The smile becoming a full-fledged grin.
Connor thought back to the last time he'd ever heard of gargoyles, as far as he knew they were nothing more than ornamental waterspouts built atop medieval and gothic architecture. Ever since he'd been following some of the more obscure press releases, he recalled hearing something about urban myths, but having other worries.
Connor had not really paid those rumors and news reports much attention. And then it hit him, at about the same time that the story first brook about gargoyles being spotted in the Manhattan area, there had also be a corresponding drop in the major crime and violence rate in New York City. On the heels of that thought, Connor also realized that there had also been a corresponding rise in the activity of a certain vigilante group that called themselves the Quarrymen.
"What do you call yourself?" Connor asked.
"Do you mind if I ask you a question?" Brooklyn asked.
"Uh, uh, I asked first. It's common courtesy that you answer first," Connor said.
"Well, I guess that makes sense," Brooklyn shrugged, "It's just that you are one of the first people I've ever run across that didn't run in terror at the sight of a gargoyle, so I was wondering why that was."
"Maybe I don't know enough to do that." Connor shrugged. "Chock it up to have an insatiable curiosity. I'm sure you've heard that old saying about curiosity has done in thousands if not millions of felines?"
"Yeah," Brooklyn replied. "Friend, let me tell ya, you're a strange one, but anyway, I got my name from the bridge around here. I'm Brooklyn."
"Wait a minute," Connor said, taking his hand back and stuffing it into the pockets of his jeans. "Brooklyn, as in the bridge?"
The other nodded. "That's the one."
Connor thought back to a several weeks ago, and mentally shuffled through all the compartments of his mind, trying to fit the name to his present situation. It took him a matter of ten minutes when it clicked; he remembered that he had meant to get around to reading the correspondence sent to him by his kinsman, Duncan Macleod of Seacouver, Washington.
It was under rare and usually dangerous circumstances when Macleod contacted him, and usually involved Duncan's protégé, Richie Ryan, but he did visit the younger member of Clan Macleod for social events as well.
Connor looked at Brooklyn and then remembered the package he happened, idly went through when he was bored, and recalled the letter that had accompanied a Scottish two-handled claymore sword along with instructions to take on a newly immortal student. He had assumed it was Duncan's way of playing a practical joke, "I mean, how many Immortals do you know are named, Brooklyn."
"What the hell I am supposed to do with him now?" Connor muttered aloud.
"Are you okay?"
"Fine, Fine. So, what's it like?"
"Hell, I must be senile and drunk at the same time," Connor muttered, grabbing Brooklyn by the arm, and attempting to drag the gargoyle in the direction of the exit, "Come with me, I've got stuff to tell you and it's best down in the privacy. So let's get the hell out of here."
"I'm all for that," Brooklyn replied, folding his arms over his chest, and planting himself firmly on the floor, so he was about as hard to move as if he had been frozen in the stone sleep that his kind went into during the day.
"I'm not going anywhere with you until I get a few questions answered. "Exactly who are you with? And where are you taking me. How do I know I can trust you?
"Man, you are hard to move? Connor grunted, releasing his grip on the other's arm.
"To answer your questions in the order, 1, I'm with no one but myself; 2, I already told you where we're going; and three, trust is a funny thing, you take your chances and it works both ways. Now, are you coming or not?
"I'm coming," Brooklyn nodded, capping his wings, and rubbing at the fine white lines on his shoulder which meant his injury was healing a lot faster than he had thought it would take to heal. He shook his head and ground his teeth together, wondering what he was getting himself into.
Even though he knew it was dangerous for gargoyles to trust humans, and after his experience with Demona and the few bikers he tried to befriend during the clan first weeks in Manhattan, it was hard not to resist the obvious charm of this Connor Macleod; Brooklyn instinctively felt drawn to him; and that there was something about that made him want to trust him. Underneath the sarcastic, irritable façade, there was a good man there. And the clan good use all the friends/allies they could get, Detective Elisa Maza and Matt Bluestone seemed to be the only people in the city they could trust, and it was all the fault of one mad-on female gargoyle Demona.
Later, at an abandoned office complex that had been up for lease.
"What are we doing here?" Brooklyn asked, giving the place a 360 degree inspection. It was wider than it was long, and it looked like no one has used it for its intended purpose in years. Brooklyn felt a vague itch make itself known at the base of his spine, and he looked around in the corners and shadows, wondering if this had been abandoned recently, because it might have been used as a base of operations for the Quarrymen. Connor's next question distracted Brooklyn out of his wildly meandering thoughts.
"You know how to use a sword?" Connor remarked, tossing Brooklyn a sharpened blade, its dull, notched edge showing. In the next move, the older Immortal had spun around, and threw the sheath in Brooklyn's general direction.
"Yeah," Brooklyn, "This is going to sound really weird…."
"What about this situation hasn't fit into that category?" Connor interrupted.
"Okay, okay," Brooklyn continued, "but where I come from, I mean where' talking the Dark Ages of Scotland, everyone used swords, so I think I think I can figure which end is the business end, and I know enough about to hold one."
Connor nodded. "Pretending I'm still following all of that, there is a difference."
"There's one thing I don't understand," Brooklyn said, "What's with the swords. I was doing all right with what I have, and it's not like I'm going to be use this," hefting the sword and taking a few practice swings with it, "one the goons, thieves, and other undesirables, so why do I need to know how to use one?"
"Because, I said so," Connor snapped. "This is serious. Being Immortal has its price. There are rules and limitations that you need to learn and relearn if you want to survive."
"Brooklyn let the sword hang limply from one hand, his beak hanging open in shock. "Survive?
"You heard me," Connor said, marching forward until he was eye level with Brooklyn, "You see, rule number one is never let anyone take your head. Rule number two: Older immortals usually take on students and teach them the Rules of the Game, and the techniques necessary for survival. You already know why I agreed to take you on, although I must admit this has to be one of my kinsman, Duncan's more bizarre requests." He shook his head. "There are other Immortals out there, all competing in a contest called "The Game" There are as many shades of gray among the participants as they are layers in an onion. Some good, some evil, some in between."
Brooklyn groaned and let the sword drop to the floor with a ringing clang of metal on metal. "Uh, no offense, but I can give up my membership now?"
"NO! This isn't a club. You don't get a choice. "
"So, what does the winner get?" Brooklyn whispered.
"According to legend, the last one standing will have the power and knowledge of every immortal who ever lived."
"Jalapena" Brooklyn muttered under his breath.
"Don't worry," Connor said, "I just wanted to let you know what you'll be up against. My job is to make sure you cannot just hold your own, but live to fight another day, and in between times, learn to enjoy the good life."
"Uh, since you're got some stock in my continued well-being," Brooklyn muttered, " I think you deserve to know something that could be a serious liability."
"What are you talking about?" Connor asked, looking over Brooklyn's well-muscled arms, chest, and wings. "I would think you'd have an advantage."
"You see, we're nocturnal," Brooklyn replied, "Gargoyles sleep during the day.
"So, we turn to stone during the day," Brooklyn replied, folding his arms over his chest.
“Turn to stone? Connor stared at the other. When he recovered use of his voice, he smiled and clapped the other on the shoulder, muttering an apology when the impact of his hand reopened the rapidly healing wound in Brooklyn's shoulder blades.
"You should tell your uh clan about your being Immortal," Connor said, "they deserve to know.
Brooklyn nodded. "It's funny, but that other immortal who was here, Duncan Macleod, I think may have dropped some subtle and not subtle hints to Goliath. It's been hard to wrestle with this myself, I mean, whether or not to tell them, how to go about it, and all that. I kept telling myself that they'd find out on their own, or it wouldn't come up. Or that I was waiting for the right time."
"I understand," Connor said. "Although, it's been so long that I kept forgetting what 'newborn' immortals go through.
Scotland, 1746 AD
Connor rode through Scottish countryside, it's rolling green hills dotted with purple heather and brush. The trees of late summer either standing in rows like sentinels or few and far between and barely clinging to the rocky soil. Connor wished that he had more time to stop and admire the view, but he carried important dispatches from the capital to his prince in field. How he could have missed the signs of civil unrest and dissension among the advisors the surrounded the court of the young upstart his detractors called the "Pretender" he would never know. It did little good to second guess himself at this late date. Connor shook his head to clear of distractions and the attendant cobwebs, and wondered just how much of the unrest had been caused by rumors and spies sent over in England. He knew that this was exactly the opportunity that the Duke of Cumberland and his Hanoverian army had been hoping for.
Connor grasped his hammer-headed horse's reins tighter in his gloved hands and urged the animal on to greater speed, ignoring the clammy feeling of sweat running down his back and lathering the horse around it's mouth and flanks., urging it on to greater speed.
As he topped another low hill and saw a snaking line of mounted men wearing red coats camped in the valley below.
A day later, Connor pulled into camp at Narin, and was greeted by the body servant to Bonny Prince Charlie, certain to retrieve the saddle bags before handing over the reins to the boy. Connor nodded his silent thanks watching as the boy led the animal away to join its fellows along the picket at the east end of camp where a meal of mashed oats and barely awaited it along with a rubdown.
Connor one last fond glance at his mount, wondering if he could get the same service, instead he had dispatches and a warning to deliver.
As he passed through the camp, he silent counted to himself the clans he knew and several that he did not, by the expression on his face he realized that he realized that not all of the highland chiefs who had pledged their support had arrived. He reached the command tent with the image of a thistle emblazoned on the front the silk tent streaked in patterns of blue and brown. The light of a camp brazier was lit so he knew that the Prince was awake.
"Sire," he began.
"Macleod," Charles replied. "I've been expecting ye. He straightened up from where he'd been poring over maps of the surrounding terrain, and with a curt gesture dismissed the other advisors, coming over to clasp forearm in the traditional highlander greeting.
"Be welcome. Would you like some wine? It's a long ride from Edinburgh and a dry road. Knowing ye I can only assume that ye rode here in haste."
"I did. I would love wine, thank you," Connor replied.
"Dispatches from the capital," Connor replied.
"Leave them on the map table, I'll look at them later. But I can only imagine that it's all bad news." Charlie replied, taking a few steps to one side and lifting a pitcher of wine and pouring them into two cups. "Riding is thirsty work and so is arguing with one's generals, I'll have some too, if you don't mind?""
Connor grinned," Not at all," accepting the cup when it was offered and clinking the drinking vessels together when he raised it, savoring the taste on his tongue as it went down.
"Sire, I think we may have our hand forced sooner than we expected," Connor said.
"The British are here, and they're close, just a matter of a less than a days' ride. They're camped in the valley not far from Dunkirk. If we want to surprise them, I suggest we march by night to Culloden Moor. It's open and flat, and we stand the best chance of pushing them back.
"Are you insane?" Charles demanded.
"No more than you are to try and win back the Stuart Crown and your father's throne." Connor replied smoothly, folding his arms across his chest. "Take it or leave it, Sire, at this point are limited at best."
Charles cocked his head to one side as if thinking the matter through, his blues intent and icy. "The men fought well at Dunkirk, but it would almost impossible to ask them to do a forced overland march at night. They're exhausted, hungry…. Do you know what you're asking?" Charles demanded, idly watching as the cup shattered in his grip and the pieces fell to the floor.
"I do, Mi Lord, and as matters I do not believe we have been given a choice in the matter.."
"Very well, I will inform the troops," Charles decided, heading towards the tent entrance and yanking the flap open partway. "Be certain you are ready to ride by tonight, Macleod."
Interlude present day
Back at Wyvern Castle, Hudson reclined in his old but comfortable leather rocking chair; his fingers laced in front of him and considered the images and the commentary that went along with the 10 o-clock newscast.
Crouched at his feet, Bronx, the garg-dog, raised his spiny head and stared at the eldest of the gargoyle clan with his soul in his eyes, his tail whirling like a corkscrew. Hudson regarded Bronx for a few seconds, wondering
what by all lights he was supposed to do. One of the many thoughts that swirled through his head: the one he decided on was: 'I'm getting too old for this."
Hudson shook himself, feeling his left leg tingle as the blood sluggishly coursed through his veins; he knew it meant his leg was falling asleep and he should get and walk around the room, but it he was old, and Bronx was heavily draped over his feet. The next thing he knew, his attention was riveted on the image being broadcast on the lit television screen blaring in front of him. Elisa he knew, he had also become familiar with the face of the reporter that always seemed to be in the right place at the right time to get the first scoop on any news worthy story involving the city's recent urban myth become urban reality, gargoyles.
The blue and white police cars were gathered in a loose semicircle in front of the headquarters, along with an ambulance from St. Lucia's General Hospital, along with the usual attendant people who were galvanized to witness tragedy, like car crashes and other disasters.
Hudson had to wonder what it was about the human species that made such things, as they went, fascinating.
Hudson, smacked himself on the head and brushed the back of his hand over his tired eyes, squinting to make out the images on the screen, knowing that he had been ignoring his clan's and friends' well-meaning hints to get his eyesight checked. Another sign of his advancing age, "I am not yet decrepit and moribund." Hudson muttered aloud to himself. He had missed the reporter's opening remarks, but decided it did not matter, because apparently the story did involve a gargoyle who had gotten involved in a drug deal, gone sour. Apparently the two parties involved were in the midst of the deal, when a brick red gargoyle leapt into the middle of the group, eyes flaring white.
One of the men huddled in a miserable ball of fear:
"This is a member of the street gang who had been peddling the drug for sale, in the midst of the transfer of ownership of several kilos worth of heroin were thwarted in their efforts by a brick red gargoyle.
“Apparently of several that have recently made Manhattan their stomping grounds. The gang member admitted to panicking. He and others began shouting for everyone to shoot the gargoyle."
'In an uncontrolled spray of bullets. According to Detective Bluestone, a total of eleven bullets, two of which found their target. The only eyewitness was a bum warming his hands at a garbage can fire, wrapped in discarded blankets. Not being able to locate the street bum for further questioning, it unknown at this time whether or not anyone of those involved sustained any injuries. The gargoyle in question left the scene as shown as he began bleeding from his left shoulder blade. The cops arrived shortly thereafter, but refused to provide more details. Back to you, Shelia." the reporter wrapped up his report.
Hudson leaned forward, turned the television off, and then snapped his fingers to bring Bronx to his feet, his corkscrew tail wagging in slow circles. Hudson maneuvered his bulk around his T.V chair and began his descent down to the kitchen where Broadway and Angela were cooking dinner.
Hudson, was old enough and wise enough to not allow the growing crooked smile to show as he caught them in mid-embrace, Angela in the act of smearing a piece of chocolate frosted cake over Broadway's already quite sticky face. Hudson, hated being the bearer of bad news, but under the circumstances, it was unavoidable.
At the same instant they could hear footsteps on the steep, narrow staircase the wound through the building as someone made their way up from the street level all the way to the top. A man with red-hair and a white duster coat paused halfway in, and cleared his throat, while a woman with dark-hair and a matching black leather jacket, wound her way past him.
"Aye, tis a sight for sore eyes, lass," Hudson greeted. "Elisa, Matt, always a pleasure."
Elisa nodded and was about to reply as whatever response she would have made was swallowed up in three pairs of gargoyle wings, as they did a group hug. When she could breathe again, she laughed, and nearly fell over into Matt's waiting arms. "Careful there, partner," Matt replied. "All I can see, is that ever since I've been assigned as your partner, it's been good for the waistline, just look at all those stairs." Matt added, waving his arms in the direction of the staircase.
"I wish, this were a social call, guys," Elisa began, her smile fading.
"I fear, I have some bad news, as well," Hudson nodded.
"Then you already know what's happened. Have you heard anything from him?
"We can't find Brooklyn anywhere, and according to police procedure, we can't exactly file a 'missing persons' report until he's gone missing for a maximum of three days."
"Brooklyn's missing?" Angela whispered releasing Broadway's arm and moving closer to the two human police detectives.
"I figured he'd turn up at the hockey arena, or at Madison Square Garden for the concert, since that's one of the usual haunts where the Trio hang out," Matt shook his head, "Nothing. And how hard is it to find a 5'7 brick red gargoyle even in a town this size?"
"I have been monitoring the picture box." Hudson said.
"It's called a television, Hudson," Broadway interrupted.
Hudson growled low in his throat, "as I was saying, the picture box, and a that reporter, Hamilton, ran a segment that a gargoyle was injured in a scuffle with a some criminals thwarted in their drug dealing."
"I don't know if I'm more worried about Brooklyn not being able to find a place to sleep for the day, or the fact that's he's injured and alone. It wouldn't do for the wrong people to find him, if you know what I mean," Elisa said.
"I don't mean to be downer," Matt said, aware of the raised eyebrow of his partner." But if we're looking at the worse -case scenario, it's possible that the reason he hasn't checked in, or tried to get in contact, is because he can't"
"Don't even think like that!" Angela shouted.
"Matt," Elisa warned, "No conspiracy theories; I can't deal with them right now.
"All right," Matt muttered under his breath, "I can take a hint."
"Here's what we'll do. We wait for the rest of the guys to return from their nightly patrol," Elisa said, glancing down at the watch on her right wrist, "It's getting too late in the day to do anything about this tonight, because they're turning to stone pretty soon, but we'll met back her tomorrow night and start a search for Brooklyn."
"Agreed. "He's has to be somewhere close, and he should know enough to hole up somewhere to sleep during the day," Angela replied.
"Okay, okay," Broadway nodded, "but I don't have to like it," his broad, craggy face creasing even more with worry about the safety of his fellow rookery brother, wondering they would break the news to Goliath and
Lexington. Goliath took his role as clan way too seriously, but how would he handle the fact that his second in command was injured and missing? Broadway, wasn't exactly the most imaginative of gargoyles, being slower in the uptake than tech-minded Lexington, and modern-street savvy, Brooklyn, but he knew at thing or two, and this was bad news by anyone's standards.
Connor and Brooklyn left the building where they had been sparring, the former grudgingly admiring the other's native fighting skills while at the same time wondering what he was doing even considering the proposition of taking the latter on as a student. Connor thought back and mentally did the math in his mind; it had been all told, about two hundred years since he had last taken on a student.
Even though his old teacher, Juan Sanchez Vlla Lopez Ramirez was dead, Connor could vividly recall every velvet smooth lesson his old teacher had ever drilled into him, sometimes with words, sometimes literally, so he could feel the bruises days later. Connor wondered, now that Ramirez was dead, if there was someplace in heaven where he would be looking down and smiling in approval whenever his protégé did something right, and turning over in laughter whenever he screwed up. Connor ground his teeth together, and wondered if he should do something appropriately nasty to his younger kinsman, Duncan Macleod for roping him into this bizarre situation in the first place.
Brooklyn, on the other hand, had insisted on going back to a place he called the Eyire Building, and Connor seeing the insistent look in the other's eyes, had agreed without putting too much of an argument.
Connor was about to suggest they hail a taxi, when Brooklyn gathered him up into his arms, spread his wings and launched into the air, his wings spread to full extension to catching the evening wind currents. "Ergh!"
Connor managed to choke out, making the mistake of looking down at the ground below. Feeling the effects of vertigo sweeping over him, Connor tried to keep his dinner down and not hurl the contents of his stomach.
Closing his eyes, he whispered "I just hope you don't drop me, my friend." Hearing a low chuckle in the other's voice, "Don't worry, I haven't dropped any passengers yet."
"Oh, I feel so relieved, don't let this be a first," Connor muttered.
"Yes, Sir," Brooklyn laughed and kept flying in an easterly direction.
Later back at the Eyre Building.
Goliath stepped forward to confront both his second-in-command and the stranger, a low bass rumble of a growl forming in his throat.
"He's with me," Brooklyn said, indicating with a gesture of his thumb at Connor, in his white duster jacket and tennis shoes.
"Indeed, lad," Hudson added, coming over to greet the missing member of the clan. "And where have ye been off to?" Ye had us all mighty worried."
Lexington looked up from the laptop computer that Elisa had given him on her last visit, and remarked that Brooklyn looked pretty good for someone who had gone missing for the last two nights in a row. "So, nobody got to you first. You might have called to let us know where you were."
Brooklyn set Connor down, and looked around with a rather foolish expression on his face, his already brick-red coloring turner an even deeper shade of red as, embarrassed, his hung his head and tried to look remorseful. "Uh, I forgot. I'm sorry."
Connor felt for him, while at the same time he was reeling from several shocks of the previous night; the old saying that you can pick your friends but you're stuck with your relatives running through his head. After one shock, he was about to be greeted with another when he realized that a genuine Dark Ages castle had been securely perched on the roof of the Eyire Building. He decided it was worth asking about, he took a 360 degree inspection of the place and wondered if he suffering one of the more interesting hangovers he had ever experienced. As he opened his mouth to say that it was his fault Brooklyn hadn't called to his 'clan' know about his whereabouts."
"Now," Broadway yawned, "If were second-in-command, I would let my clan know where I was at all times."
Lexington glared at him and said, "If you were in charge, I would be someplace else at all times."
Angela quelled the friendly squabbling with a glare and got in between them, "Stop it, both of you."
Brooklyn tried not to laugh, but it was funny so he limited his amusement to a small grin, figuring he was over the worst of it, except when he happened to glance in Elisa's direction, who was impatiently tapping her foot on the stone flooring, did he realize he had been a bit hasty in assuming that it would blow over that quickly.
"Who is this person, and why did you bring him back here," she demanded.
Before Brooklyn could reply, Connor stepped forward so that he was in the line of sight of the dark-haired police officer, "Madam," bowing low and take her hand, and planting a kiss on it. "Allow me to introduce myself, I am Connor Macleod of the Clan Macleod, and it was entirely my fault that your friend, uh, was unavoidably detained. I apologize if it caused you a moment's concern or inconvenience."
"Nicely done," Elisa snapped, snatching her hand out of his grip, " but I still don't buy it."
"Nor do I," Goliath rumbled from his perch on the stone parapets, feeling a stirring of memory at the mention of the last name, Macleod. He turned it over in his mind over and over again, when it clicked, he associated the name Macleod with another Scottish visitor we 'recently 'entertained', a Duncan Macleod. When he realized the implications, he recalled the other Highlander's veiled warning/caution to make sure that his second-in-command did not lose his head; it shook him to realize why that instruction had been necessary. Brooklyn was an immortal, although not the same nature as the clan's black sheep of the family and nemesis Demona.
Brooklyn was an immortal all the same, and apparently this man had seen fit to take him under his wing, so to speak, and make sure that he had someone to look after him make sure he know the implications and consequences. Goliath shook his head, wondering how that would affect his relations with his clan and his duties as a gargoyle.
Elisa would no doubt accuse the clan's leader of being overly cautious and someone who had a tendency to brood too much, but he preferred to mull things over in his mind before reaching a hasty decision, and if he made a mistake, to err on the side of caution. With that going through his head, Goliath jumped down from his perch and came to confront the pair.
"Brooklyn must have his reasons, but I think we can let that slide for you. What I want to you know is what 'he' is doing here," Elisa said.
"Well, it's like this," Connor replied, rocking back on his hells and folding his arms over his chest. "Brooklyn, from what I can gather, was injured during a scuffled with a group of some of this city's less than desirables. I wasn't there, so I don't know what happened, exactly. But, taking off, we met up at the end of a hockey game. I was a bit drunk. Okay, a lot drunk."
"Hockey game?" Angela wondered.
"Yes, hockey game, and it turns out we have more in common than anyone thought. I took him to a place I know, and we talked."
"We did more than talk," Brooklyn interrupted, rubbing the sore muscles in his arms, wishing that they could this part of the evening over so that he could get up to his perch on the parapets and get some well-deserved stone sleep.
"And what did ye have to talk about, lad, that was so bloody interesting?" Hudson asked.
"I want you to tell them," Connor whispered to Brooklyn.
"I don't know if I'm ready."
"They're going to find out some time, and it might as well be now."
"Okay, okay. Gee, I can see we're going to have a fine time, you do this to all your students?"
"No, just the stubborn ones, go ahead and spit it out."
Turning back to the circle of puzzled looks on the faces of the people facing him, Brooklyn sucked in a deep breath of the chill New York air, and rambled off. "Uh, guys, I don't know if you're going to believe me or not, but I think I 'died' once already since we've been here, and that Duncan fellow said, that the reason I'm still around is because I've got a long life-line…"
"Of for the love of a name," Connor interrupted, "He's an Immortal, just like I am."
"He's a what?" Matt exclaimed.
"You heard me," Connor replied.
"I uh, I thought so," Hudson remarked in the midst of the sudden dead silence that had fallen over the group. Winking at Brooklyn and the equally stunned Connor, he chuckled low in his throat, a broad smirk spreading across his lined brown face, :"You see, I always knew there was something special about ye, lad, ever since ye were a hatchling. This does put an interesting wrinkle into the situation."
"Let assume, for the sake of argument that I'm buying all of this, "Elisa began. "Now that he's an immortal, that won't affect his ability to serve as second-in-command of the clan, right?"
"I shouldn't think so, although rule number one, and I want you to remember this one, do not ever lose your head. Rule number two, don't go around bragging to everyone, that's a sure way to get yourself killed. Just because we're immortal, doesn't mean we can't become dead as dead."
"I don't understand," Brooklyn muttered.
"Exactly, that's why I'm here to teach what you need to know, the Rules of the Game, and the tactics needed to survive. There are others out there, who will try and come after you."
"Great, that's all I need, more enemies, you'd think I'd have enough by now of everyone going after gargoyles'
"Stop being so cynical, I'm trying to make a point, so continue to train with me, learn what I teach, and the rest is up to you."
"Connor," Goliath said, "As clan leader, I think it would not be asking too much, is that we kept informed of what happens, because what affects one member of the clan affects all. That is not asking too much, is it?"
Connor looked up and up at seven of muscled gargoyle, and found himself taking at least three steps backwards, until his back came up against one of the stone parapets. When he recovered his poise and his balance,
Connor stepped forward again, and shook the other's extended hands. "No, I don't see how that would be a problem."
"Then it is settled," Goliath said.
"I guess it is," Connor agreed.
"Welcome to the clan, lad." Hudson came forward and gave Connor a rib-cracking bear hug, wondering why it did not bother him, that this oldster could get away with calling him 'a lad' after he'd been around for well over five hundred centuries.' Oh well", he thought in the privacy of his mind, "Go with the flow."
Meanwhile Brooklyn laughed and was swallowed in a group hug by his rookery brothers, Lexington and Broadway. "Just one big happy family," he heard Elisa say, as she and the other detective went down to the kitchen to retrieve a bottle of scotch that saved for special occasions.
Chapter 3: Karma
Disclaimer: Highlander: the Series and all related concepts, characters, events are the property of Rysher Television, Gauamont, Panzer/Davis Productions and their respective creators. They are not mine, and no money is made from this. They are borrowed simply for entertainment purposes. The same goes for the characters, concepts and events of Gargoyles, property of Disney and Buena Vista Television.
Note: follows "Sea-Change."
"Karma" by Karrenia
Manhattan, present day
Streamers draped across roofs and walls, fluttering in the afternoon breeze, their bright primary and pastel colors vainly attempting to outdo the neon lights of the billboards and skyscrapers. The Big apple was decked out for the annual May Day parade.
Standing on the outdoor patio of his favorite restaurant, Connor Macleod chose a prime vantage in order to watch the parade, ignoring the hubbub of other diners, shoppers, tourists, and other people going by on the street. 'Waiting was always the hardest part, be it battle or love.' Connor thought to himself, occasionally scanning the tangle of cars, police and civilians to see if he could catch a glimpse of a certain red-haired police detective and her partner: a woman officer with black hair. Both Bluestone and Maza apparently had been assigned elsewhere for he couldn't spot either of them in the crowd.
Connor took the bottle of white wine with him and used a linen napkin with the restaurant's logos stitched onto of it, to wipe down the condensation around the brim, before downing a sip and appreciating the wine's fine bouquet. He found it rather amusing that like fine, which was a vintage white grape, a quarter his age, several hundred centuries to be exact.
As the liquid went down his throat, he couldn't help but observe that one of the many things he enjoyed about being Immortal, included wine, women, good food, and good friends, but not necessarily in that order.
Speaking of women, it had a very long time since has last wife, Rachel Macleod died a very mortal death and it was hard to maintain a calm and content state of mind on the night of the anniversary of her death. In the back of his mind, he tried to visualize Rachel: what she had looked like; the way here eyes crinkled around the edges with her smile:
He even recalled how she became impatient with his methodical ways: Connor had truly loved Rachel and she him.
"Bugger the rules about Immortals falling in love with mortals. If I had to do it all over again, I would not change a thing," Connor said aloud.
At that instant the matrie-de came around to inquire if he would need anything else, or would like the bill. Overhearing the last muttered comment, he tapped Connor on the shoulder. "Sir," I am sorry if I am interrupting anything, but if would you like more wine or should I just bring the bill?"
Connor turned to face him: "No, just bring the bill."
"Very good, Sir."
Connor tuned the man out and concentrated on listening to the last faint strains of music of the passing parade and anticipating the thunderous but muffled explosions of the closing fireworks. Brief multi-colored trees of and pinwheels lit up the Manhattan skyline, lasting all of a few seconds then burning out one after another.
In an abandoned building the lights were dim and folding chairs had been lined up in even rows going five feet deep. Soothing the harshness of the concrete walls, folds of navy blue cloth had been draped from hooks on the wall, slit down the middle so that everyone could see the embroidered silver hammer. That same device, silver hammer on navy blue cloth was also repeated in the clothes worn by every man in that room, waiting in tense silence for the opening speech from their leader.
John Castaway emerged from the back room that led into the assembly hall. His blond hair sleeked back like the fur on a lion reclining in the sun. (How fitting," Castaway thought, regarding his reflection in the mirror he held up to the light. (If I looked this composed, confident, and determined all the time I might as well throw my hat in the ring as a candidate for mayor.' He thought. "Unfortunately, our mutual enemies have pretty much shot my reputation to hell. Well, for that, and for a dozen more reasons, I shall have my revenge." Castaway said the last aloud, where a shorter compactly built man, with dark brown hair. This one stood holding his hood, twisting the navy blue fabric in his hands, the brown skin smooth, but crossed here and there with tiny white scars. "About time," the man greeted in a soft but threatening voice.
"Manuel Beneitz" Castaway greeted, "We had an agreement. I expect to abide by it."
"Is that a threat?" Beneitz eyes narrowed into slits and his hands clenched into fists at side.
"No, just a friendly warning." Castaway replied, pulling his hood down over his face and walking into the hall, where his arrival was greeted with muffled cheers and some muffled applause. Castaway allowed himself a grim smile; a narrowing of his thick lips, and ascended the five steps that led up to the dais in front of the audience. Knowing the dramatic effect it would have and playing it to the hilt.
"Good Evening, Gentlemen. I am delighted and proud that we have such a large turnout this evening. It means great things are ahead for our communal brotherhood. I shall make my opening remarks short and too the point, because the fault is mine. I have kept you waiting a very long time." Castaway paused and directed the attention of the audience towards the far well where a man stood by an overhead projector, its wheeled spokes ready with the slides.
"Begin. For our new members and to refresh the memories of our veterans," Castaway began, "A wise man once said, 'know your enemy as well as you know yourself.' As members of this brotherhood, we are friends, neighbors. Gentlemen, what can I say that has not already been said: We are at war. One most people don't even know about. One we cannot afford to lose."
The screen lit up at a touch of a button and a series of images flickered to life: shadows passed across the face of the moon, with glowing white eyes and leathery bat-like wings.
"I give you the gargoyles."
"The first time I encountered them, I thought gargoyles were no more than the eccentric carvings and waterspouts of Medieval and Gothic artisans. Now, I am forced to believe there are real, as real as we are. They bleed, they die. Our task, our purpose is to make sure that this our gargoyle problem is no longer a threat."
Manuel gritted his teeth; he couldn't stand Castaway because he reminded him of the worst of the Spanish aristocrats during the 17th century Siglo De Oro. His native country's so-called Golden Age: a time when of great cultural revival in both art and literature, while that itself was a something he was proud of, the division between the nobility and the peasants had been steep. The nobility took for granted that their wealth and power, pride and privileges were bought and paid for by the sweat and blood of the poor people. It ground his gears to no end to watch that very same scenario played time after time, country after country; and as an Immortal perhaps, he could have done something to prevent that. His memories blurred after a century or two, and in the back of his mind he admitted that hatred was a strong weapon, but it wasn't the only weapon.
Judging from the reactions of men in the room and Castaway's fevered speech; people in this room hated gargoyles.
The only time Manuel had even heard mention of gargoyles was the time he had spent as archivist at the Cathedral of the Burgos.
Back then he'd had his head bent in concentration over the manuscript pages, leaving very little time to lift his head and stare at rock carvings on the lintels of buildings. Gargoyles to him had been nothing more than the eccentric carvings of Medieval and Gothic sculptors and artisans.
The idea that such creatures were real, let alone permitted to run loose in Manhattan was ludicrous. Manuel first been approached by Castaway to join the Quarrymen; he thought the man insane, but through the evidence of his own eyes, he was forced to believe. He didn't give a damn about the man or his anti-gargoyle crusade; he was after bigger prey, a fellow Immortal, Connor Macloed.
Manuel Benitez hated and admired how Castaway played the audience, stirring up strong emotions of both unity and pure division. Perhaps if he had known Castaway in another lifetime they could have been friends, now Castaway and his ilk were just means to an end. He wanted revenge against the Immortal who ruined his life, Connor Macleod.
The only reason he needed The Quarrymen and their resources was because for some reason Macleod had thrown in his lot with the local clan of gargoyles. Manuel shook his head. "One crisis at a time," he muttered under his breath.
Connor paid the fare to the taxi driver and retrieved his dragon-headed cane and leather satchel from the passenger side seat. No sooner did he have his hand wrapped around his hilt, in that instant than he felt a breeze of a passing motorcyclist roar by cursing as the wheels nearly ran over his feet.
Connor spun around, facing in the direction of the fast disappearing rider, raising his free hand into a clenched fist and cursing loudly. Connor sighed and continued on in the direction of his loft apartment.
He had set down the cane whose removable top also doubled as a container for his sword, when the blonde hairs at the base of his neck prickled. Connor had been around too many centuries to ignore his instincts.
Pretending to fumble with his keys, he turned around to face the opposite street, where the same or perhaps similar rider had been joined by at least a dozen others. Connor felt conflicting emotions: annoyance at the interruption in his daily routine and primed for a fight. If that was these strangers wanted he would be sure to give them a good one.
Removing the cap on his cane, and removing the slender katana, the Japanese sword with the dragon hilt that he favored over other weapons, Connor noted the number of opponents he faced: at least a dozen. All of the men armed with .38 caliber guns, all wore identical navy-blue outfits, blazoned on the front with a silver hammer. Not a symbol Connor recognized, but he had had many enemies in his time as an Immortal. 'One thing to be grateful for' he thought 'At least none of them are Immortals,' the 'Buzz' isn't going off.'
"Make your move!" Connor shouted aloud at the circling riders, left hand maintaining a tight grip on his sword hilt.
The circle closed in, an odd slow silence filled the street, and then shots rang out, shattering the silence, Connor dodge out of the path of the first volley and ducked behind another parked car, too early to get shot to pieces this early on. It would hurt and it would slow him down, but it wouldn't kill him. Moving with the grace of a jungle cat, Connor bore down on the nearest rider, whose back was to him, darting into reach he gave the man a whack with the flat of the blade and knocked from his seat, then punched him, making sure the man was unconscious before moving to the man's cohorts. Connor repeated variants of the same strategy until he faced half the original number.
Connor, blond hair plastered to his face with sweat, stood up and faced the six remaining riders, "Cowards! Fight like men! Face to face!" At that instant, Connor felt a lancing pain in his side, his vision went hazy and blackness descended, his last thought was: 'This is not going the way I planned it.'
Hudson stood with his back to the far wall near the stairwell and watched, with some amusement as his clan's second in command swung his much-worn Claymore through the air, and connected with the cabinet holding the smallbookcase and lodged into the wood. Brooklyn muttered under his breath and yanked on the hilt several times without success. "Give it another go."
"I am sorry, Brooklyn-lad, these old ears of mine. I didn't catch what you said."
"I said, if any of this gets out to the others I'll be the laughing stock of the entire clan." Brooklyn replied.
Hudson sighed. "Let me give you some advice. Don't be so worried about what others think about you. I've heard entirely too much about how I am too old to still be of use to the clan; so I am stuck here watching the picture-box."
"Sorry, Hudson," Brooklyn muttered, his head sinking to his chest, and the sword dangling from his hand. "I didn't mean. I'm sorry."
"No need to apologize. Let us move on." "While the blade given to you by your teacher is a fine one, lad" Hudson replied, once his student had the sword dislodged from the bookcase," Goliath and I felt it would be a good idea to accustom you other swords."
"I still can't believe half of this," Brooklyn replied. "I mean, if you were in my place and someone sprung this on you: living forever, fighting with swords until there's only one left,' you'd think they were crazy, right?"
"I am not certain. Perhaps," Hudson nodded and looked down to where the garg-dog, Bronx, curled around his feet. He reached down and rubbed the bone ridges on Bronx's head. "Please move, Bronx."
When Bronx had found another spot to curl up and lie down Hudson turned to Brooklyn again. "After everything this clan has been through both separately and as a group, immortality is not the craziest thing we have had to contend with. "Yeah, I remember. You're talking about Xanatos. Remember how obsessed he was about living forever. Wouldn't that be a kick in the head? I found out by accident how to become immortal without actually trying."
"While I too find that amusing, Brooklyn," Hudson chuckled, and then became serious again; "It would be best for everyone concerned that Xanatos not learn about your immortality."
Hudson launched himself from the stone parapet of Castle Wyvern and into a cloudless night sky. He spread his wings and on a rising thermal and headed out for the main part of the city. While the circumstances of their arrival in this place and time were still mysteries waiting to be solved, concerns on whether they could trust their only allies; Detective Elisa Maza, he felt they could trust implicitly, her partner, Matt Bluestone, would take some time. However the wealthy billionaire, David Xanatos, that was a different matter entirely.
"Why do my guts freeze up every time he utters those words, 'Trust me. ' I don't and that's a fact."
"Hudson? What are you talking about?" Lexington asked, the much small yellow-brown gargoyles falling behind and gliding on low-rising thermal.
"I was talking about our would-be ally in this Manhattan-Island, lad." Hudson replied, allowing his wings to bring him level with Lexington. "I cannae put a finger or give ye specific reasons for why I cannae trust him."
"You think Goliath is wrong to trust humans in this time. What about Elisa and Matt?
You trust them, don't you?" Lexington shouted, worried.
"That's different. Of course I do. Not every human we meet will be the same, just as not every gargoyle is the same," Hudson replied, shaking his gray head, the broadsword at his waist slapping against his left leg.
"But you're always going on about gargoyles are supposed to protect humans something about defending and I forget…" Lexington muttered.
"Gargoyles can no more stop defending the castle than they can stop breathing the air, I don't wanna be repeating myself if you youngsters just let it go in one ear and out the other. But you what I mean."
"What about Goliath, I think he wants to place his trust in Xanatos, aside from Elisa and Matt, we need to have at least some human allies. We need to know so much about this modern world. Is that so wrong?" Lexington asked.
"Not wrong, lad. Just too willing to trust," Hudson replied gliding downwards to land on the roof of a nearby building, with Lexington trailing along in his wake. A loud explosion distracted Lexington from asking his next question, and with a brief nod the pair separated, one going left the other right, investigating the source of the noise and to check for injured people. At the last minute, Lexington felt an unaccustomed twinge in his side, they hadn't been here long, and people were still more afraid of their would-be rescuers than they were of the dangerous situations they were in. "Go figure," Lexington sighed.
Hudson stirred, his old bones creaking in protest at the sudden movement and realized that he hadn't felt the sun in a long time. By his reckoning it should have been at least 12 hours since he landed on the rooftop of the brownstone closest to the Eyrie Building. Dawn had caught him too far from to make it all the way back that same night, if it was still the same night. His one good eye widened, when he realized he was no longer on the roof, but in a dark room filled wall to wall with metal devices.
"Welcome, old one," Xanatos greeted, a narrow smile with all the charm the man could muster stretching his wide lips. "What, no fond greeting for an old friend?"
“You are no friend," Hudson growled. "What have you imprisoned me?"
"Owen, have the preparations been made," Xanatos asked, turning to face a younger man wearing leather shoes, a tweed sweater and carefully ironed slacks. His glasses sat askew on square but otherwise unremarkable face. A casual observer would have seen this man and not bothered to look twice, so plain did he appear.
"Yes, Sir. If you still believe this to be the wisest course. The distraction we sent will not fool the others for long. "
"Owen" Xanatos replied. "Our people do good work. It was an exact replica, a spitting image, right down to the eye patch over the blind side."
"What are you babbling about?" Hudson demanded.
"All in good time, Hudson. You see I have need of you. I would hoped to obtain that help of your own free will, but sometimes one must compel others." Xanatos replied.
"What do you want me for? I am scarcely of any use to my clan," Hudson replied, stalling for time.
"Well, I would love to debate with you, but I am not the one that spends his nights at home watching television." Xanatos. "Do you what this is?" Xanatos walked over and turned on a light switch that illuminated a squat, immense black pot sitting on top a metal platform.
"No." Hudson replied.
"The legends say that whomsoever baths in the waters of the Cauldron of Life will live as long as the mountain stones." Xanatos whispered, pressing the buttons of the device.
Hudson gritted his teeth; his skin felt like someone taking a knife to sandpaper and the achemical transformation from flesh and blood to stone began.
Owen came forward and collected the flakes of stone that were collected by the extraction machine. "Don't feel bad, old friend," Look on the bright side, I need a piece of stone gargoyles as the prime ingredient in the spell. You'll be released and back with your clan when I have what I want.
"You know nothing, Xanatos. Hudson replied, glaring at the dark-haired human. "Immortality isn't about living forever; it's about what you do with the time giving to you." Hudson replied, glancing back at the metal cauldron that Goliath had smashed.
Owen Burnett, Xanatos aide, rolled up his sleep and dipped his left hand into the bubbling mixture in the pot. His teeth gritted in anticipation of pain. Oddly, the mixture was cool to the touch. An instant later, Owen gasped in pain and staggered back as the white skin of his arm all the way up to his wrist turned gray as pewter and then to stone. "Sir," Owen said, quickly recovering from the shock; his calm, measured tones unflappable. "I would hesitate to proceed. It appears the legends of the Cauldron of Life, are in a word, quite literal."
Xanatos looked at the smashed remains of his latest scheme and then glanced at Owen's left arm, glass, metal and wood crunching underneath his boot heels. "Indeed."
Interlude (present day)
"I remember" Brooklyn said. "We really thought you had died."
"Xanatos had a custom-built statue of myself that fooled everybody. Brooklyn, between you and me it was a very poor likeness, got the nose all wrong." Hudson chuckled.
"Stop it. We're supposed to seriously concentrate on my sword training, and…." Brooklyn trailed off, laughing so hard he ended up coughing and falling to the ground with his tail wrapped around his mid-section. When he recovered his composure Brooklyn let the sword drop onto a nearby table, picked up the opened water pitcher, and gulped long draughts, finished, he handed it to Hudson, who finished it off.
"It's almost dawn, and Elisa and Matt will be coming around soon with news on the Draco case," Hudson said.
"We'll meet them on the roof," Brooklyn replied, 'that way we hear the news and still make it back to our resting spots before the sun catches us down here." Brooklyn had one foot poised on the steps leading up to the top of the Eyire Building that was not Castle Wyvern's permanent home when the fine white hairs on the back of his neck prickled, and an insistent buzzing made its presence felt along his spine. He let out a low growl in the back of his throat and spun around in a 180 degree circle, and was about to ask Hudson if it felt the same sensation, an early warning sense that all gargoyles possessed, when he saw Hudson gasp for breath and collapse to the floor.
"Hudson, we need to call the others!"
"That isn't all you need," Manuel said, emerging from the shadows of the stairwell and into the room.
"Who the devil are ye?" Hudson demanded.
Manuel laughed. "Interesting choice of words under the circumstances. I should really mark this down as being a singular event in my experience. It's not often that I get challenged by one-eyed old gargoyle waving a broadsword at me."
"Brooklyn, is it not?" Bennett At last we met. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Manuel Bennett, late of Burgos, Spain, and I have come to tell you on thing: Unless you agree to meet me alone at a location that I will specify; you will never your beloved mentor, Connor Macleod again."
"What have you done with Connor!" Brooklyn demanded.
"Nothing yet." Manuel replied, folding his arms over his chest. "He's my honored prisoner, and will remain my guest. That is, unless you come tomorrow night at. Despite whatever negative opinion you may have formed of me, I am a man of word."
"Do I have a choice?" Brooklyn whispered miserably.
"Just two, really." Bennett replied. "Come and try and save him or let him die. When you put it that way, it's not really much of a choice."
"Where is he?"
"An abandoned warehouse down by the docks," Bennett glancing at Hudson, "by the river that bears your clan elder's name." Bennett, "On the aside, I never really noticed this before, but does every member of your clan bear names of Manhattan landmarks?"
"Yes," Brooklyn snapped. "What difference does it make?"
“None, really, it was merely an observation." Bennett smiled. "I will be expecting you." With that he turned around and ran up the stairs to the roof where a helicopter awaited his arrival, the sky backlit by the first faint rays of sunlight piercing through the clouds.
The next evening
"What did he want?" Goliath rumbled.
"How did he get all the way up without tripping the security alarms or get by us? He certainly did not fly up there?" Angela asked.
"By helicopter," Brooklyn said. "He got away by the same means."
"He's getting away, by helicopter no less," Lexington said, vaulting to the stone parapets and following the departing aircraft with his eyes until it disappeared into the smoky skyline. "It went east," he shade his eyes with his free hand, balancing with the other. "Right into the sunrise. We'll be turning to stone soon. At least we know which we they went. We can catch them tomorrow night. If he's involved with Castaway that can only mean big trouble."
"Aye, lad, and did ye note the symbol etched upon it?" Hudson added.
"Are we going after them?" Broadway asked, his arm looped around Angela's.
"A silver hammer. That tells us he's joined up with the Quarrymen." We could chase after him." Brooklyn paused and wiped the sweat that cooled on his skin. "I think it's time we got the rest of the clan involved. I'm way over my head here."
"You're never alone, Brooklyn," Elisa said, "Remember that."
"Says he has my teacher," Brooklyn replied. "That mean he has Connor. He wants me to come alone to some abandoned warehouse by the docks, or Connor dies."
"Dies. Is he not immortal?" Goliath asked, puzzled.
"It's weird, but from what he's told me, and I'm still having trouble understanding this one, but there's the rule, Immortals can die for good but only if you take their heads," Brooklyn replied.
"Their heads!" Elisa exclaimed.
"It stands to reason, Hudson, "After all the ancient Celts held the belief about heads being a center of wisdom of knowledge, and they were great ones for taking heads in battle as trophies of war," Matt said.
"We don't need a history lesson," Lexington whispered.
“I'm leaving." Brooklyn interrupted, and vaulted off the roof, spreading his wings to catching the rising thermal and disappeared into the New York skyline.
"Wait!" You should have a plan, wait for backup!" Angela yelled after his disappearing form.
"Leave him be, lass," Hudson said, "This is his fight."
Brooklyn landed on the street in front of the entry to the abandoned warehouse. Scanning the shadows and the surrounding area for stray passerby's and any other potential threats, or even if one his clan members had followed him. Satisfied that he was alone except for the marble streaked cat eye with an insolent and suspicious look in its green eyes, Brooklyn wrapped a hand around the rusted door handle hoping that it wouldn't squeak and give his presence away. He know that Beneitz was waiting for him, what he did not was where the rat was hiding, and he did not mean the ones on four legs. The two-legged kind was enough to worry about.
Brooklyn opened the door, wincing at the loud screech the rusted hinges made. He had excellent night-vision; he eyes glowing hot white. As much he wanted to confront Benetiz and make him pay for taking his mentor, Connor Macleod hostage, in a back corner of Brooklyn's mind, he wished that he had the backup of his rookery brothers, Broadway and Lexington. They had been the Trio for a very long time, but Brooklyn realized, there was some things one just had to do alone.
He maneuvered around the leftovers of machinery and stacks of packing crates and barrels that had been abandoned by their previous owners, and now made lumpy and irregular shadowy bumps in the darkness. Turning another corner he came to astairway leading to the second floor. In the moonlight, Brooklyn an crudely lettered sign, marked "Losers ahead." Brooklyn shook his head in disgust, silver locks in a tangled mess. "You have got to be getting me. I mean, how obvious is that?" He reached out, tore it off the railing and threw as far away as he could. "As Elisa always said, "Jalapena!"
Meanwhile Connor fumed. He was angry. Why in all hells had he allowed himself to be in this uncomfortable position in the first place: Tied to a damned chair with irons while an enemy, with a few screws loose, darted around you like a pack of wolves circling a downed stag.
"What are you trying to do? Connor demanded. "Kill me with some kind of one person musical chairs game? If I'm dead anyway, why not get it over with?"
"Oh, no. You see, you will remain very much alive until we have observe a small reunion." Manuel paused in his orbit around Connor's chair to raise his arm so his he had his left wrist level with his eyes. "It is almost time.
Whether you will remain alive and well is very much dependent on when our guest arrives."
"Come again?" Connor, while Manuel was not looking, made a few tentative tries at freeing himself from the chains and ropes.
"You see I've made several arrangements, a maneuvering of chess pieces. A far more honorable and complex a game than the one you suggested only a few moments ago," Manuel replied.
"Humor me," Connor griped.
"You are direct," Manuel snapped, "Very well, you see, I have you, your protégé comes to rescue you."
"You've dragged Brooklyn into this?" He's just a kid."
"A kid with a great deal of experience. And at least I will see if his being a gargoyle will tip the scales in his favor or mine." Manuel replied.
"Go to hell." Connor fumed.
"You first," Manuel retorted, smiling the smile of a skull.
At that instant, the sound of ripping fabric broke the tension in the room. Manuel spun around in a 180 degree circle, the hairs on the back of his neck rising as both he and Connor felt the insistent tingling at the base of their spine that meant the approach of another of their kind, an Immortal. Despite his dangerous predicament, Connor sense there was something distinct about Brooklyn's because he was a member of another species; if asked, he probably couldn't put his finger on what the difference was, but somehow, the 'Buzz' was quieter, more a sensation one had after the passing of short lightning storm instead of during the storm.
Connor redoubled his efforts to free himself from his restraints; oblivious to the pain it caused his muscles and joints. Manuel, his death-grin never leaving his face, calmly removed his sword from underneath his leather jacket where had hidden it, Connor taking stock of his surroundings, noted with sour amusement that the blade was Toledo forged steel, Spanish steel and very sharp.
Brooklyn approached the door, one hand wrapped around the door handle leading into another room, and almost was knocked off his feet when a dull throb made itself known, and hit like a heat wave. Brooklyn reeled, black wings capped and hanging down his back. He rubbed his temples with both hands, wondering if he had fallen into a subtle trap. What felt like a very long time passed, the sensation passed, and Brooklyn passed through the rotting curtains and tarp covering the doorway. He ducked into the room and took stock of the occupants, eyes blazing white.
"Finally," Manuel greeted. "I've been expecting you."
"I'm here now," Brooklyn replied, removing his sword from its place on his leather belt. "Let him go."
"Not just yet," Manuel replied, glancing at Connor, "Interesting." I wonder if you had a good teacher, boy. Also, I do hope you appreciate the fact that I have given you a fighting chance by holding this duel at night."
"You wouldn't come after during the day?" Brooklyn asked.
"Honor would demand no less," Manuel said.
"Yes." I think your mentor would have mentioned that?"
"Why not come and see for yourself," Brooklyn replied.
As Manuel approached, still out of striking zone and they began circling one another.
In the back of his mind, Brooklyn had to admit, 'This wouldn't be like any of the other fights I have ever been in. It's not like I'm up against one another gargoyle or one Xanatos's Steel Clan robots.'
Yes, this opponent was human, but he had learned from Connor that Immortals fought under far different rules. Brooklyn guessed the distance that separated him from Manuel. He had a longer reach and outweighed the human by a good 30 pounds. Brooklyn darted forward, hammering at the other man's sword with the flat of his blade against the other man's sword, then back-pedaled out of the way of the return stroke. Brooklyn yelped when Manuel landed a two-handed blow and the cutting edge of the blade left a three inch wide gash in his arm one he was put on the defensive.
Longer into the fight, Brooklyn noticed a small opportunity. Manuel favored one-handed thrusts and parries, but had a bad habit of bringing his sword over his left shoulder to extra force to messy two-handed swing, like he hacking at a tree. If had tricked Brooklyn into losing his balance, the blow would be effective. As it was, Brooklyn watched it coming and stepped aside.
On the third attempt, Brooklyn gave his opponent time, pretending to stumble, and then swung his sword in deadly arc at the Manuel's ribs. Seeing the blow coming made little difference, and it caught Manuel across the torso freeing a flow of blood. The man arched a like hissing cat while he struggled to stay on his feet.
"You can not win," Manuel shouted. "Why not just admit defeat?"
"As reasonable a suggestion as that sounds, I'm not ready to admit defeat."
"Don't give up!" Connor yelled. "You're doing fine!"
"I'll get you out of this, Sir!"
"Stop worrying about me, just concentrate on the task at hand!"
The ringing sound of metal on metal echoed in the large room. Both opponents were bleeding now, gashes in arms and legs. Brooklyn stumbled again, this time because a blow to his forehead, as Manuel tried to bury his sword in Brooklyn's skull. Using his tail to keep his balance, Brooklyn growled, wiping away the clotted blood with his free hand.
Manuel reeled; this time on the defensive, just blocking blows, protecting his torso and lower ribs with his free hand. He brought up his blade and thrust at Brooklyn's chest, freeing a ribbon of blood. On the follow-through he made a beginner's mistake, his feet crossed beneath him. Brooklyn crouched; wings furled and, eye glowing white, waiting for the right moment. When it came, he drove the sword into Manuel's chest.
Manuel sagged to the ground, eyes rolling back until the whites showed. "Better than I expected, boy. Now finish it."
"Huh?" Brooklyn muttered.
"Didn't your Macleod teach you anything besides how to fight? Rule #1 , the winner always takes the loser's head. Now, boy, make my death an honorable one."
Brooklyn darted a glance over towards Connor, a mute appeal, "I, I don't want to…"
"It's the only way," Connor replied.
The Quickening swept over Brooklyn; more intense than the initial heat wave he had felt when he arrived here. This time it felt like someone was hammering and hammering on his head, and he did not even have a body; he was just an object, like an anvil. Floating in a windstorm, thoughts and emotions flooded through him, despite the pain, it was quite a rush. Rational thought fled and Brooklyn felt like he was drowning. Energy swept over his body, sparkling blue fire hitting at his arms and legs, and Brooklyn screamed.
"Before anything else happens, " Connor said as he stood up from the chair, chains and restraints falling to the ground with a dull thud. Brooklyn exerted all his strength and wrenched them apart.
"Thank you, for everything." Connor said, placing a hand on Brooklyn's shoulder.
"I, I really don't know what to say."
"How about, your welcome." Connor smiled.
"Will it always feel like this?" Brooklyn asked, getting up from the ground feeling sore muscles and bruised ribs.
"You mean the Quickening?" Connor said.
"I wish I could offer some sage words of advice, " Connor replied. "I am sorry, that I put into a difficult position, before you were prepared for it. That you had to fight a battle that should have been mine."
"I want to go home."
"We will, Brooklyn. But I need to ask you one favor."
"I want a ride."
"You know, I want to fly."
"I already took you flying once." Brooklyn growled.
"You don't want to do it again. I'm not that heavy. Or don't you think you can manage it. You mentioned once that your clan leader, Goliath, takes that police woman, Elisa Maza flying all the time."
"Gargoyles can't really fly, our wings are just used for gliding."
"Semantics. What difference does it make?"
"None really, I guess."
"Then let's get the hell out of here." Connor grinned.
"I'm sorry, I should have been forthcoming," Connor shook his head, he could still feel a muffled ringing in his hears, like someone had placed a spiral-shell inside and through he could hear the sound of an ocean's roar. It was just from the aftermath of the fight and the movement of his own blood flowing, which caused him to think up absurd notions. All the same, he had to admit he had been fortunate to come away from the fight with his head still firmly attached to his neck.
"I don't understand," Brooklyn said. "You told me about the rules. You said I could expect other Immortals to come after me. How is this different?" We already know Benitz was playing Castaway and the Quarrymen, using their resources to get to the clan."
"That he way he could find out all the information they had on gargoyles and Brooklyn in particular," Hudson added.
"Rules?" Goliath rumbled. "It seems that these so-called 'Rules' are rather nebulous. If they are broken what are the consequences?"
"We already know that immortals can exist, Xanatos is obsessed with obtaining immortality for himself, and let's not even get Demona involved."
"A former member of clan, and someone who has stored almost 10 centuries of hatred towards humans," Goliath replied, wincing as if even to have brought up the subject injured something inside of him, where the wound could not be seen.
"This is all my fault," Connor muttered, slapping his palms against his pant legs. "I should have be more alert, more careful. It has been a very long time since I've taken on a student. "
"You know, I think this could be a big conspiracy, like the existence of the Illuminati Society, " Matt Bluestone said, starting to get himself worked up.
"Matt, please, "Elisa sighed, running a hand through her tangled black hair. "No conspiracy theories, it's been a long night."