By: Jurgan (email@example.com)
A Gargoyles/Tenchi Muyo! OAV Crossover, set after the end of the second season of the Gargoyles television show
Author's Notes and Disclaimer follow the text
After Puck's attempted theft, Goliath threw the Phoenix Gate into the timestream itself, believing it to be lost forever. But it was not to be. One night, the gate appeared at Castle Wyvern and took Brooklyn away to another time. He traveled through many different times for forty years before returning home. This is the story of one of those adventures...
The familiar red flame subsided and Brooklyn found himself floating through the hot night air. "Just a minute ago I was shivering. These climate changes are getting old." The brick red gargoyle's complaints were cut short by screams coming from far below. The moon was nowhere in sight, so he flew down to get a better view.
On the ground, a tall, square fort was quickly being overrun. A mass of soldiers poured in through the front gates, cheering loudly. On the roof were two young men. One was short with spiky black hair, while the other was slightly larger and had hair down to his shoulders. The two were remarkably calm.
"So, this is the end," said the shorter one. The words hit his ears in perfect English, of course, which he'd learned long ago was a power given to him by the Phoenix Gate.
"I suppose so. I have no regrets."
"I guess I don't either, but I didn't want it to end this way. If that's what our fate is to be, though, then there's no point in fighting it." The two of them slowly reached for their swords.
"Can I interest you in a ride?" Brooklyn swooped down and grabbed each of them by the back just as the enemy troops appeared on the roof.
"Tengu!" one of them shouted in awe as he flew away.
"Yeah, sure, tengu. You two all right?" He looked down and saw that the shorter passenger had fallen unconscious. The other was staring at him, but rather than cringing, his eyes were arched inquisitively. "Heh, maybe we should land first." He tossed the still-conscious one onto his back, making it easier to glide, and headed for the top of a steep hill, aided by an unusually windy night.
Brooklyn landed after a couple of minutes. He set down the man in his arms and the other climbed off. Brooklyn leaned back, stretching. "I think I pulled my back carrying you two."
The man- actually, Brooklyn could now see he was more a boy- turned to him and bowed deeply. "Thank you, noble beast, for your aid. It is a great honor."
"Um... sure. It- was an honor to do it."
As he spoke, the other slowly awoke. When his eyes caught the gargoyle, he quickly flipped over and prostrated himself. "Great tengu! You do us too much honor, saving such unworthy creatures as we. We are eternally in your debt."
"Hey, hey, take it easy. Really, it's no big deal."
"Oh, you are too kind, noble tengu."
"Actually, Akito, I'm not sure he is a tengu," said the long-haired boy.
"He has wings and a beak- what else could he be? Great one, please forgive him his disrespect and bear us no ill will."
"Actually, he's right. I'm not a- tengu. We're called gargoyles. My name's Brooklyn."
"Oh, forgive me for not introducing us," said the long-haired one, laughing nervously. "My name is Masamichi Masaki, and this is my cousin Akito. It is an honor to meet you, Mr. Brooklyn." He pronounced it "Brew-kleen" and bowed again.
"Sure, it's good to meet you too." He clasped his hands and bowed. He had grown used to adapting to other cultures customs. "I was wondering if you could tell me where I am. I've been traveling a lot lately."
"We are in the province of Owari," said Akito. "We just left Fort Marune."
"In central Japan," added Masamichi.
"You didn't even know you were in Japan! How did you get here?"
"That's kind of a long story, and I should probably let you be on your way to wherever you're going next."
Akito jumped. "That's right, the fort! We've got to warn Nobunaga that Imagawa's moving in! How long will it take to get to Kiyosu?"
"Too long, by foot." Masamichi glanced at Brooklyn.
"Sorry, I can't carry you very far. I barely made it just now."
"In that case, we should probably see if there are any horses we can borrow."
Brooklyn chuckled. "Maybe I can make you a couple; after all, I rode one once." The two Masakis looked at him with raised eyebrows. "Never mind."
"Yes, well, we should hope that we can find some benefactor whose load we can lighten. If we're lucky-"
"Look," said Akito, pointing down. At the base of the hill, five mounted men were passing.
"How well are they armed?"
"I can't tell in this light."
"Two of them have muskets," answered Brooklyn. "The other three have only spears, swords, and bows."
"If you say so," replied Masamichi. "I know you've already done much for us, but do you think you could help us a little more?"
"Don't worry. You two look like you're in a real jam, and I try to help out when people need it."
"Thank you. If you can dismount two of them, the rest will probably flee."
Brooklyn arched his eyes. "Probably?"
"You are rather frightening to look at."
"Don't say things like that!" hissed Akito, but Brooklyn had already taken off.
He floated down to where the men were riding idly. Although he couldn't hear the words, the griping tone was unmistakable. The two rightmost in the line carried the muskets, so he approached from that side. Once he was above them, he pulled back his wings and dropped the fifty feet. He pulled up from his dive, slamming into one of the riders and letting his momentum carry him through the next. He landed dramatically on the ground, flaring his wings and roaring, eyes glowing white.
"Tengu," one of the men whispered, before they all took off as fast as they could.
"Some soldiers." Brooklyn easily caught up to the horses, which were running at blinding speeds, and grabbed onto the bridles. As soon as he yanked on them, the horses reared, tossing him around. He held on tightly and tumbled through the air, finding himself in every orientation he could imagine.
"Whoa, boys! Take it easy there- whoa!" The steeds did little to obey his orders. "All right, plan B." Brooklyn released his left hand, switching it to the right horse, then moved the right to replace it, flipping onto his back. He quickly flapped his wings to lower his feet, which were now oriented to grip the rocky ground, and dug in. He felt as though all four of his limbs were being yanked from their sockets, but the horses finally stopped.
It took about two minutes for the Masakis to catch up to him. They ran forward breathlessly.
"Did you get hurt?" asked Akito as the two of them took their horses, speaking softly to calm them.
"From the horses, a bit, but the soldiers were nothing."
"No, Imagawa isn't the most inspirational leader," said Masamichi. "Those five were probably deserters."
"So, which way is this Kiyosu?"
Akito gasped. "You're coming with us? But why?"
"It's- kind of hard to explain. Let's just say I've traveled a lot, and I usually end up places for a reason. It's no accident that I met you two. But first, I want you to tell me exactly what this fighting is about."
"Control of Japan," said Akito, as if that were all it took.
"You see, Japan has been torn by civil war for hundreds of years," explained Masamichi. "It goes through cycles and calms from time to time, but it never ends. Our land has never known peace. There are many strong military forces in Japan. Whoever can build a base of power in Kyoto may be able to get the Emperor's blessing to unify Japan under his rule and eliminate the other warring families. Our leader, Nobunaga Oda, has long desired to do so, but with Imagawa at his back it has never been a real possibility, and now Imagawa is attempting to defeat Nobunaga for good."
"A war like that. I can't imagine."
"You have peace in your home?" asked Akito.
"The last time we had any sort of civil war was over a hundred years ago."
Akito was stunned. "I can't imagine a world like that."
"Yet Nobunaga can," said Masamichi. "It is his vision that will lead us into a new era."
"Well, we must go," said Akito. "It would be an honor to have you fly with us."
"We'll lead the way. When we get back, we have to report what has occurred. We'll meet you outside the castle after we're done." They bowed, then mounted their horses as Brooklyn ran up the hill and jumped into the air.
Brooklyn glided through the air and saw a castle approach. It was a wide, squat building. It was square and came out at points in the corners. The main building was two stories tall, and a smaller square room was perched on top. There were sentinels posted on the edges of the castle, of course, but just below the top room a triangular structure jutted out that was a perfect blind spot. As soon as no guards were looking in that direction, he glided down, landing just below the wooden outcropping. Quietly he climbed around to the top of it and crouched just below the balcony, which had an open door to the opulent room within.
Brooklyn peeked inside and saw a man quietly sitting with his legs crossed. He was a thin man, mostly bald except for hair tied back behind his head. He also had a thin mustache and a small patch of fuzz on his chin.
A moment later, there was a knock on the door. "Come in." Nobunaga said in a quiet, relaxed voice as he stood and turned to meet the large man. "I was told you have news, Michiro?"
"The Masakis just arrived," he said gruffly. "They report that Marune has fallen. Imagawa is moving."
"So, after all these years, Imagawa finally got the guts to attack. Why did the Masakis not fall with the fort? Did they abandon it?"
"Most likely. They claimed to have been saved by, if you can believe it, a tengu." Brooklyn couldn't see his face, but he was sure he saw Nobunaga's back straighten slightly.
"We probably shouldn't repeat that one. Rumors about gods being involved in this war could start a terrible panic. The men are already claiming that a shape-shifting demon was responsible for Hiroshi's disappearance."
"My lord, you know Imagawa is determined to break through Owari to Kyoto. I advise you to hold your ground here and meet him in a siege."
"What does his army number?"
Michiro paused. "Twenty-five thousand."
"He outnumbers us eight-to-one, and you think we can weather him? No, my friend, the only way we can compensate for our weaker standing is with a forceful offensive."
"We're still hopelessly outmatched. How are our chances any better in a pitched battle?"
"A material advantage is only meaningful if it can be used. All I have to do is prevent him from using it."
"There are other factors to consider as well, and I will need some time alone to consider them." Nobunaga bowed and Michiro returned it as he exited.
"Added to what you told me, that's two forts that have fallen tonight. No doubt Imagawa's serious this time, wouldn't you agree?"
"Of course," replied a female voice. A closet door opened and a gargoyle stepped out. She was dark green with long braided black hair and a beak, and she wore a loose red kimono.
"What did you think of that Ôtengu' business?" Nobunaga asked aloud.
"It was not one of ours,"
"It was me." Brooklyn swung into the room and landed softly. He was sure this gargoyle was the reason he was here. The room's two occupants jumped and reached for their weapons. "Hey there, easy!" He raised his hands. "Sorry if I scared you, it's just that i wasn't expecting to see another gargoyle." Especially a female one, he added silently.
"Gargoyle?" asked Nobunaga.
"Oh, right, you call yourselves tengu." He put his hands together and bowed. He had become accustomed to matching other cultures' mannerisms.
"Greetings," said the female gargoyle, bowing. "As the leaflet of my clan, I've met with all of the clans in japan, and you don't look like any I've ever seen."
"Yeah, I'm not from Japan. Did you say- leaflet?"
"A leaflet. You know, a leader. Second only to the clan's king."
"Oh, right. I was a leaflet in my clan too."
"Well, I've sort of been on an extended leave of absence. My name's Brooklyn, by the way."
"You see," said Nobunaga triumphantly. "His clan uses names."
"Our clan has never used names. Why should we?"
"Would you please pass me my sword?"
The female looked at the impressive collection of weapons on the wall. "Which one?"
"The long one." She picked up the longest sword on the rack. "No, not the nadachi. Not quite that long." She picked up another sword. "Beside that one. To the left. No, not that one either." She dropped the sword she was holding with a frustrated sigh. "Please hand me the katana." She leaned over and picked up that weapon, handing it to Nobunaga. "You see how much easier that was with names?"
She shook her head and sighed deeply. "Very well. If you insist, you may call me 'Katana' also."
"Now let us discuss our strategy-"
"Just a moment. Is it safe to discuss this here?" Nobunaga glanced at Brooklyn.
"I cannot vouch for him. However, if he would be willing to fight with us, then I suppose we should accept. Will you help us?"
"I have a feeling I should."
"Swear that you will not betray us."
"Don't worry. I'll stick with you guys as long as I can."
"Swear it," demanded Nobunaga.
"All right, I swear."
Katana nodded. "In that case, we are honored to have you fight by our side."
"Unfortunately, we cannot trust you enough to let you know of our plans. You understand, of course. Katana here will meet you outside the castle after we're done and take you to their home."
"Thank you. I'll be waiting." Brooklyn considered trying to hide outside the window, but decided that no gargoyle would be fooled by such an obvious trick, and instead simply flew away.
He waited on a hilltop for a few minutes until he saw the other gargoyle emerge from the castle. He climbed to the top of a nearby tree and jumped after her, gliding close beside. "So, you're a leader in your clan, huh? That must be a lot of responsibility."
"I know how that can be. Of course our clan's only seven people. I'll bet yours is a lot bigger."
"217, plus 41 beasts."
"Yeah, that must be tough. I've had to make some tough calls myself. Oh, man, you should have seen this one time when our leader was gone and we had to fight these- I guess they were like us, except they shot lightning out of their hands. That was a close scrape."
"I'm sure it was." Katana caught an updraft and rose above Brooklyn.
After about ten minutes of gliding, Katana dove down to the mountaintop below them. Brooklyn couldn't see any ledges that would be suitable for gargoyle perchings. He nearly stopped gliding when he realized where she was heading.
"You live in trees?"
Cedars grew thick on the mountaintop, and over a large clearing was a single giant platform, a square one hundred yards on all sides. Katana landed on it, and Brooklyn cautiously touched down beside her. There was a hole in the floor with a ladder, presumably for allowing humans or wounded gargoyles access. Peering through, Brooklyn saw mammoth wooden pillars holding up the platform. At the edges of the clearing it was lashed onto other trees, beyond which hung other, smaller platforms. Brooklyn stomped lightly on the platform, which did not budge under him.
"This is amazing."
"You don't live in trees?"
"We lived on rocky cliffs, or stone castles the humans built. I've never heard of gargoyles building something like this to live in."
"Actually, we live mainly in the trees. The problem is not much light reaches their interior. This platform is in the sun most of the day, so it is where we sleep. We used to sleep on the ground, but that can be dangerous."
"You're back!" A pale blue hairless gargoyle ran forward and gave Katana a quick hug. He also wore a black cloak and a small black hat. He noticed Brooklyn and his posture stiffened. "And who is this?"
"We met at Kiyosu. He says he'd like to help us." She turned to Brooklyn. "I'd like you to meet our clan's king." Brooklyn bowed to the older gargoyle.
"I don't like you flying alone with strange people."
"Oh, must you always worry? You're so overprotective. I can take care of myself."
"I suppose so." Reluctantly, he bowed to Brooklyn. "So what have you learned?"
"Imagawa is attacking Owari tonight. Nobunaga wants us to launch a preemptive strike and lure them into a certain position."
"And you agree with him. Do you really believe that this is the right thing to do? Allying with humans is not our way."
"I know it's hard for you to accept, but the world is changing and we can't stay in the shadows forever. We've been able to hide all this time because the humans were too busy fighting each other to have much concern for us, but this war isn't going to end until one person unites all of Japan, and when that happens, he will make sure that we fit in with his plans. This is the best chance we'll ever have to be sure that it's an ally of ours in that position."
He was quiet for a moment. "Our utmost duty is the protection of our own clan. That is why we have never lived amongst humans. But you're right. Now the only way to ensure our safety is to reveal ourselves." He ran off and jumped onto one of the nearby trees.
"Was that your father?"
"I have many rookery fathers and mothers. He's a little embarrassing, isn't he?"
The platform shuddered as a horn bellowed above them. "They should start showing up any minute now. Stand over there." Brooklyn walked over to a spot she had indicated. "Stand up straight. Look like you belong here."
Almost immediately, gargoyles began to land and fill the platform. Brooklyn noticed that they almost all had beaks, a feature fairly rare amongst Scottish gargoyles. Most of the gargoyles' color was pale, though it did vary widely. They all wore more clothes than Brooklyn's clan generally did, with a particular fondness for black cloaks and hats. They also almost all had weapons on them, mainly swords. The gargoyles formed up into rank and file. Brooklyn stood awkwardly near the front and tried to ignore whisperings behind him.
The leader of the clan dropped in the front once most of the gargoyles had gathered, and they all became silent at his appearance. "You may pick your warriors."
Katana walked briskly through the ranks, quietly tapping gargoyles on the back. She picked about 120, but did not choose any beasts. "All of you come with me." She led them towards the edge of the platform and lined them up in rows of ten. Brooklyn ran up to her.
"What about me?"
"I appreciate the offer, but you do not need to come with us."
"We do not need your assistance. My group is full."
"Then I'll go with one of the others."
Katana raised her brow ridges. "Why do you want to go into a fight?"
"I don't. But your clan's in a tough spot. If I can help, I'd like to, and you're in no position to turn it down."
Katana was quiet for a moment. "Very well. You may go in group four." She pointed to another group made up of all male gargoyles and he ran over to it. She walked to the leader of that group and whispered something to him.
Katana walked forward again and began speaking to the group. "The plan is simple. First, we must find a contingent of Imagawa's men small enough for us to defeat. Our objective is to scare Imagawa, so we attack this unit from above, making sure to allow someone to escape, preferably an officer whom he will trust. We will split into twelve groups of scouts. Try to find a group of appropriate size, but do not engage. Report back in one hour. That will give us two hours to fight before dawn." Katana ran off the edge of the platform and leapt into the air. The other groups quickly followed.
The ten in Brooklyn's group searched for forty-five minutes. They crossed several mountains, as well as some rivers, but their mission was a categorical failure. They had passed Imagawa's main force, but there were far too many for them to face.
"Let us hope that the others have had more success. Troops: Return to base!" The squad turned back to the west and flew away.
They were the last group to return. Before they were even able to land on the platform, the others took off in their direction.
"We've found some," said a yellow female. "About six hundred gathered near the ocean. They were moving quickly; we'd better hurry."
"Lead the way." The group turned right, away from the yellow half moon just beginning to rise. The mountains gradually shrunk, giving way to flat plains, grass, and rivers. Within ten minutes they could see the ocean.
"They were heading west when last we saw them." The group turned right and flew along the beach line.
"There!" called a green gargoyle, pointing inland. The targets were a few hundred yards up from the beach.
"All right. Go for the mounts first. Also, it is critically important that some officers are allowed to escape." Katana unsheathed her sword, which caught the glare of the moonlight, and grinned. "Now the fun starts."
"Don't smile too much," said Brooklyn. "You might crack your face." The group dove down, unleashing a torrent of blood-chilling howls.
The soldiers shot their heads up as the beasts poured down on them. Brooklyn grabbed one man off the ground and threw him at the legs of a horse, causing it to trip into some others. All around, weapons flashed in the moonlight. Brooklyn passed over a musketman and tail-whipped him into unconsciousness. He was flying and fighting on autopilot until he noticed the ground was being stained red. It had been a long time since he had fought in a real war, and he hadn't considered that those around him would be using their weapons. The sudden onslaught on carnage overwhelmed Brooklyn, causing him to freeze for a second, and then he felt a biting pain in his abdomen.
The ground rushed up at him and the people below were spinning. He was jerked upward and felt claws in his armpits.
"Hang on there. You'll be fine."
"Katana- I'm sorry-"
"You should be. Were you trying to get us all killed?"
"No, I didn't mean-"
"I don't care right now; I've got more important things to do than babysit." She dropped him gracelessly on the beach and turned back towards the battlefield.
"Idiot," muttered Brooklyn, plopping down on the sand. His breathing was heavy and his words came haltingly. "She's not supposed- to save you." He felt the spot on the right side of his abdomen. The metal ball had entered the center of his body at such an angle that it went straight through and came out the right. "Lucky thing. Remember- what happened to Elisa." His vision turned black and he shook his head in an attempt to clear it. "Keep awake, Brook. Keep- talking. What about infection? What's good? Salt water." He pushed up onto his feet and staggered towards the water, bathing the wound. The moon was slightly less than half visible. It was low on the horizon and dark yellow, and its reflection on the water seemed to stretch out all the way to the horizon.
"H-hah! It stings!" Brooklyn stayed mostly submerged for a couple minutes, listening to the soft beating of the waves mixed with the nearby sounds of battle. He pulled himself out of the water and was chilled by the winds whistling over the ocean. This kept him alert as he continued to berate himself over his failure. He kept himself occupied in this manner until he felt the sun begin to rise. He loped up the beach and hid himself as best he could between the dunes as he felt his flesh harden.
Brooklyn's eyes flared open and he pushed off the ground as his stone skin burst off of him. He felt his side. Not surprisingly, the wound had vanished. He felt a little tired- he guessed from having spent the day in partial shadow- but otherwise he was good as new. "Back to the clan, I guess." He climbed to his feet and took off.
The night felt considerably warmer than the last. Brooklyn reached up to wipe away sweat that was getting in his eyes. "Oh, right- it's not the heat, it's the humidity," he said, a maxim anyone who has ever lived near water knows.
Brooklyn saw the cluster of trees approaching. As it grew closer, he noticed a congregation of both gargoyles and humans on the main platform. Nobunaga stood in the center with the humans behind him and faced the clan leader, who had gargoyles standing behind him. Brooklyn dropped softly on the gargoyle side, noticed by only a few.
"What's going on?" he whispered to a purple gargoyle.
"I thought you died. Well, you made it just in time. Nobunaga is about to tell us what we missed today."
Nobunaga cleared his throat and began speaking. "We have done well this day. Most of you don't know the extent of our plan yet. Your attack was launched for one purpose: to scare Imagawa. He believed that his troops were under a full attack by tengu, and so he moved into Dengaku gorge in order to be able to guard against an aerial assault. The confined conditions there prevented him from taking advantage of his superior numbers when our army attacked. It gives me great pleasure to inform you that, thanks to the combined efforts of humans and tengu, Imagawa's forces have been totally destroyed." A wave of cheers erupted amongst the gargoyles, with the humans shortly joining in. Nobunaga waited for them to quiet down, grinning from ear-to-ear.
"With Imagawa routed, we will soon be free to move our forces to Kyoto, and there is now a very real chance that we will be able to unite Japan under our leadership." Nobunaga drew his sword and held it in front of the clan leader. "You have all proven to be staunch allies, and on this sword and my honor, Nobunaga Oda swears he shall never forget his friends!"
Another cheer erupted, this time from both sides at once. "With that spirit of camaraderie in heart, we have prepared a great feast, which waits on the ground below us. Let us dine together in honor of our new partnership."
Nobunaga and his contingent headed for the ladder, while the gargoyles jumped off the platform and made for a cluster of tents in a flat area about a hundred yards downwind. They landed and saw rows of tables with huge portions of food on them. They took seats in small clusters of friends, leaving spaces in between for the humans. Brooklyn sat awkwardly next to one group as noisy private conversations broke out all around and the humans took their seats. Almost all of them immediately began telling stories excitedly. He listened in to the nearest speaker, a human who was gesticulating wildly.
"-so then, just when we're about to attack, we see this huge storm come in, right? I mean, we'd been expecting a storm since yesterday, but suddenly there the clouds are. It crashed on them, and as soon as it cleared we poured into that gorge. Their weapons were all full of mud- they didn't know what hit Ôem!" The group broke out laughing at this. "At first they thought their own men were revolting!" They roared at this point.
"And what are you doing here?"
"Oh, crap." Brooklyn turned to see a very angry female glaring at him.
"You've got a lot of nerve coming back here after the way you screwed up."
"No excuses! How dare you think you can eat with us?"
"Hey, sis, why don't you ease up a little?" asked a pale orange female. "He just wants to eat."
"You didn't see how he froze in battle."
"At least he was in battle. I remember one time when, before a fight even started, someone ran for-"
"You make a good point," she said, sitting down nearby. "Forget I said anything." The conversations resumed, awkwardly at first, but they quickly gained momentum.
"So, the whole army was defeated?" asked Brooklyn.
"Oh, you should've seen it. They were slogging through the rice fields trying to get away from us."
"How many prisoners were taken?" Everyone, human and gargoyle alike, sent confused looks to the brick red gargoyle.
"Prisoners?" asked one gargoyle. "What do you mean?"
"Any soldiers who were unable to escape were killed," said a human.
"You mean- you mean you kill people even if they surrender to you? You keep killing after you've won?"
"I don't understand. Why does this bother you so?"
"I was fighting- for something like that. For a murderer."
"Watch your mouth," a human said sternly. "Nobunaga is a great man. He doesn't need an outsider telling him how war should be fought."
Brooklyn staggered to his feet and walked away from the gathering. He walked uphill to a sheer cliff face. He sat down and hung his legs over the edge while folding his wings. On the ground by him he saw a trail of ants slowly tearing apart a dead beetle. "I don't believe it. This can't be why I was sent here."
"And why not?"
Brooklyn spun and popped his wings open before recognizing Katana. "Why do you keep doing that?"
"Forgive me if I'm a bit worried over you."
"I thought were mad at me."
"A little. That doesn't mean I want you to be alone. So what's wrong?"
"This is a brutal age- world, that's all. I was always taught that killing was an absolute last resort. It's something I'm proud to say I haven't done in a very long time, even in the heat of battle. Killing people who were running away... that would be inconceivable for my clan."
"I understand you, but this is the only way we know how to live. I do enjoy fighting- I won't lie about that- but I hate killing. For centuries, Japan's been torn apart by war. Now we have a chance to end it. We can make a world of peace, but people will have to die for it."
"Then is it worth it? I just don't know." He sighed and looked over the cliff edge again. Suddenly he felt himself tackled from behind and falling through the air.
Brooklyn flapped his wings and wheeled around to see a grinning Katana diving towards him. "Are you crazy?" he called, dipping below her line of attack. As she passed over, she whipped his back with her tail. The two of them turned face-to-face in midair. Katana and Brooklyn flew at each other outstretched with their arms forward. As they came within arms' length, Brooklyn flapped his wings to turn upright and slow. He grabbed Katana's outstretched claws and leaned back to toss her, kicking her in the thigh as she passed. She flew forward out of control. When she turned around it was to see Brooklyn bearing down on her. She thrashed with her tail, but he caught it with his while clawing at her shoulder. She leaned back and his claws caught the fabric of her kimono, causing her left sleeve to fall off. He punched at her chin with his right hand, but she caught his arm and yanked it forward, straining the muscles in it. Brooklyn's tail slackened, freeing them as they fell through the air. They flared their wings and caught a strong gust propelling them upwards. Katana soared up faster, and as they cleared the top of the cliff, she reversed direction and crashed down on Brooklyn, changing direction so that the two hit the ground at a shallow angle with her on top.
"What the heck are you doing?"
"Feeling better?" asked Katana, grinning. Brooklyn was about to respond angrily, then stopped, noticed the look in her eyes, and burst out laughing. She rolled over to lay beside him, laughing as well.
"Oh, you're too much, Brooklyn!" she said while gasping for breath. "I don't know when's the last time I had so much fun!"
"Hey, I never would have expected miss Ôserious leader' to have such a wild side."
"Have I come at a bad time?" asked a new voice. The two gargoyles jumped up and saw Masamichi Masaki standing a few feet away with a bemused grin on his face. Brooklyn and Katana looked each other over. They were panting for breath, coated in sweat, and- in Katana's case- partly disrobed. Brooklyn saw Katana's face approaching the color of his own, and knew that, if his could turn any redder, it would.
"Masaki, I assure that this is not what it appears." Katana stood up straight, while Brooklyn also erected himself.
"I'm sure it isn't," he said, chuckling.
"No, really, nothing happened here," said Brooklyn.
"Don't worry. Your secret's safe with me. You kids have fun."
"Kids?" asked Katana. "I'm pretty sure I'm older than you."
"Hm. You may be right, but don't tengu mature more slowly than humans?"
"Well, yes, that is true, though I'm not sure how much of a difference it makes. Enough of that. Was there something you needed, Masaki?"
"Actually, yes- thank you for reminding me. Some of the men are still worried about Hiroshi's disappearance. There hasn't been any time to look for him until now, but with the battle over, a search party has begun to form. The last thing anyone remembers, Hiroshi had gone into a segment of this canyon about a mile north of here. They're all searching different parts, and they asked me to get a couple people to check my section. Brooklyn, I was hoping you'd lend a hand. You, too, if you like."
"What about your cousin?" asked Brooklyn.
"He was wounded today. It'll just be the three of us."
"Well, I'm up for it. You coming, Katana?"
"I might as well."
"Come with me. I know a shortcut there-"
"It'll be faster if we fly," interrupted Katana. "I'll carry you, Masaki."
The human went along with this easily. Katana lifted him and he leaned against her chest. "You've got good taste, Brooklyn my friend."
"Don't tempt me to drop you, Masaki."
It didn't take long for them to reach their goal. The canyon had rocky walls, but the floor of it was fairly lush. There was grass growing around a stream in the center and several trees scattered around.
"So what is it we're looking for?" asked Brooklyn as Katana set down Masamichi.
"I can't say for sure. We just cover this entire area and look for any signs of what happened to Hiroshi. It's only about half a square mile. It shouldn't take us that long. When we're done, we'll all go back and see if we've found anything. If not, we'll try again in the daytime."
The three of them spread out and began searching. They were quiet for around half an hour. Brooklyn was looking near the wall when he tripped and fell onto a bush. To his surprise, the bush did not stop him but instead fell over, revealing a crack in the rock. It was about two feet tall and several feet wide. Brooklyn ran to get the others.
"So what do you think's in here?" he asked as they gathered around it.
"Someone went to a good bit of trouble to keep us from finding this," said Masamichi.
"A spy?" asked Katana. "This could be a good place to hide."
"You're right about that. Let's go in."
They laid down on the ground and crawled through. They crawled for about ten feet, scratching themselves slightly, until the passage instantly opened outward into a chamber too dark for Brooklyn to see more than a few feet ahead, and he guessed Masamichi could see even less. Their claws clacked quietly on the ground.
"Do you hear that?" asked Masamichi. "There's no echo. This must be a large chamber."
"Ah!" Katana yelped slightly as she stepped on something. The three of them leaned over and saw a body with a gash across its neck.
"Hiroshi," said Masamichi. "He found something, all right."
"What's that down there?" asked Katana pointing down below. Several hundred feet below there was dim lighting.
"I'd imagine that's what got Hiroshi killed. Let's see if we can get a closer look."
Katana put Masamichi on her back and began climbing awkwardly down the wall backwards, while Brooklyn went face-first, moving slowly to allow her to keep up. Eventually they were able to see a small ship, about fifty feet long, which appeared as little more than a grey box. "What in the world is that?" asked Katana, gasping.
"Something that doesn't belong here," answered Masamichi.
"Thank you for stating the obvious, Masaki."
"So let's check it out," said Brooklyn. They stepped onto the floor of the cavern and walked cautiously up to the ship. Brooklyn put his hand on the metal. It was surprisingly warm. They walked around the edge to look inside the open hatch, Brooklyn carefully avoiding the water dripping from a low overhang.
"Wait- there was no water dripping anywhere else." He turned and looked at a puddle of thick ooze on the floor. It appeared purplish, but then waves of other colors bled through it, causing it to fade blue in some parts and red in others. Looking from other angles made it appear different colors. The others gathered around it.
"What is this?" asked Katana, leaning over the puddle.
"Be careful!" warned Masamichi, but as he said that, a foot-thick tendril shot out and hit her in the face, throwing her across the room. The ooze quickly pulled itself up into a humanoid form.
"Space-Spawn!" cried Brooklyn and Masamichi in the same awed voice.
Masamichi drew his sword and he and Brooklyn swiped at the creature. They both left gouges in its body, which healed almost instantly. It shot its arms at the two of them, which extended beyond its body. They ducked inward, but the arms dropped and hit them on the sides, knocking them together.
Katana came charging forward. The Spawn stepped over Brooklyn and Masamichi to meet her, but melted to the floor as she approached, causing her to crash into her allies. The three of them were carried by her momentum into the wall under a low overhang.
The Spawn shot out a tendril to its ship and pulled out a small gun, aiming it at them. Masamichi raised his sword just as it pulled the trigger, deflecting the beam that flashed out of the gun into the ceiling above them. "Stay down, we can't win!" hissed Masamichi as the hail of rubble collapsed on them.
The three were buried in the rubble, unable to move or see. They heard the creature walking softly through the chamber.
"That's the second time someone's wandered in here," said the creature in a low, gurgling voice. "Perhaps this location is a bit too conspicuous. Still, at least I've seen how little threat these creatures are. They'll be happy to hear that." It was quiet for a moment, and then they felt a dull rumble. Brooklyn managed to free just enough of his face to see the ship exit through a newly appeared hole in the ceiling, which closed after the ship left, leaving them in total darkness.
As soon as they were alone, Brooklyn pushed his way free of the rubble with the others quickly following suit.
"That truly was a demon!"
"Not quite. I think Masamichi here knows exactly what that was, though I'm not sure how. Fess up, you're not just some army kid from Japan."
"And you're not just a run-of-the-mill tengu, either." Brooklyn could almost hear his grin.
"Excuse me, but what is going on?"
"Have you ever looked out at the stars at night, Katana?" asked Masamichi. "Have you ever wondered just what they were? I know, because I've seen them up close. It's a dream of many tengu to one day see the sun, but what they don't realize is that they see many suns ever night. Nearly every bright light you see in the sky is another sun, just like our own, but much farther away. And if there are other suns, then that means around them are other worlds."
Katana was silent as she took all of this in. "So you are from one of these other worlds? And that thing we fought also?"
"They are called the Space-Spawn," said Masamichi. "They first appeared tens of thousands of years ago. No one was sure what to make of them, but the legend was that some powerful spacefaring race was performing experiments in secret on a ship in an attempt to create a new type of living being. Somehow, they lost control of their ship and it vanished into space. It reappeared near a sun just as it was exploding. It was referred to as an act of God- it was so improbable that they should appear right there. But even stranger was that somehow the release of energy towards their ship caused the experiment to mutate out of control. It killed everyone on the ship, and then started reproducing. Using their extreme natural abilities and the technology on the ship, they expanded blindingly fast and are now a huge empire, or were last I heard. They reproduce incredibly quickly, and so they are constantly attempting to take new worlds."
"Is everyone hear from another world? What about you- Brooklyn, I mean?"
"Me? No, I may be from far away, but I'm an Earthling. I've met a few out-of-towners, though, including some of those things. It usually doesn't work out much better than that."
"And how have you met them?" asked Katana. "Why don't you tell us just where you're from now?"
"I can't do that. I'd like to answer your questions, but if I did, you'd ask me more questions, and I couldn't answer those either. What I know is much too dangerous. All I can say is that something else sent me here for a reason, and I'm guessing we just saw it."
"You're probably right," said Masamichi. "But what can we do? There could be thousands of these among us."
"I doubt it. That one said it was going to report back. I think it was a scout."
"You understand their language, yet you're not from space?" asked Masamichi.
"I understand you, but I'm not from Japan. We don't have time for suspicion. We have to stop that thing before it calls up an invasion."
"Can they be beaten?"
"Not easily," replied Brooklyn. "They can change their bodies into any form and heal wounds almost instantly, but physical abilities aren't the problem. It's their weapons that worry me."
"Then maybe Nobunaga can spare come troops-"
"They have weapons that can wipe out entire armies in seconds."
"Then what chance do we have?" asked Katana, her voice cracking.
"You never know. We might be able to surprise it."
"After how well we just did?"
"There may be a way," muttered the previously silent Masamichi. The gargoyles waited for him to continue.
"Speak up, Masaki."
"If you've got a plan, now would be a nice time to tell us."
"A secret weapon. There's an energy source that only I can use. It'll just be the three of us- I can't afford to let anyone else know about it, and any more than a few probably won't help much." Masamichi sighed contemplatively. "I hadn't planned on ever using it again to fight, but given the circumstances..."
"So you think we can beat it with this energy source?"
"There's a good chance of it. But I can't use it from here. We have to get to Okayama."
"Okayama! That's on the far side of Kyoto- there are at least four armies in the way."
"Then we'll go around. Let's go for a boat ride."
The ride to Okayama was uneventful. Nobunaga was willing to loan them a boat and allow them temporary leave and the three of them were soon at their destination. The early night air was warm, but a soft, quiet wind was constantly whistling by and cooling them off. There were a few dark clouds overhead and an occasional dull rumble of thunder in the distance. The grass they walked through was damp, and Masamichi had removed his shoes as to avoid getting them wet. Brooklyn and Katana were walking alongside to a hill where they would be able to enter the air. The three of them approached a series of stone steps.
"Looks like a long climb," muttered Brooklyn.
"You get used to it."
"You've been here before?" asked Katana. "I thought Akito said you just met?"
"That's what he thinks." She waited for elaboration but none came. "This place hasn't changed a bit. A shame, seeing it abandoned."
"So why did you abandon it?" asked Brooklyn.
"Because Nobunaga asked me to. Our families have been friends for over twenty years, as far back as when his father was assisted to the Owari deputy of the Echizen constable. He was so desperate he was hiring bandits to fight for him."
"And so you went to join him."
"Loyalty is an important virtue, Brooklyn."
"So is self-determination. Blind loyalty gets people killed.""I don't understand you, Brooklyn," said Katana. "'Blind loyalty?' You fight because your friends need you."
"Or you try to convince them not to."
"It's too late now, anyway. Nobunaga's way is paved for him. Although there are still a couple provinces to get through."
"He'll probably win them over by marrying off his family members," said Masamichi, frowning. "Nobunaga's fond of arranged marriages. Here we are," said Masamichi as they reached the top of the hill where a small building rested. He walked over and peeked in the window. "Nope, hasn't changed a bit. And I can see Funaho from here."
"Who's Funaho?" asked Katana.
"Our secret weapon," Masamichi said, pointing down the hill.
"What, a tree?"
"You'd be surprised."
"Let's go over the plan once more," suggested Brooklyn.
"It's fairly simple. You said that creature is looking for anything that could be a threat. We provide it with one. I'll start drawing on the tree's power, and the Spawn will arrive to investigate. With this energy, we should be able to beat it."
"And what are we to do?" asked Katana. "Will we even be able to help?"
"Good question. With the magnitude of energy that will be used, I'm not sure how much you two can do. We'll play it by ear."
"And we'll probably end up getting worfed."
"Never mind. It's from Star Trek, this- show me and my brothers used to watch. Good show, though I never much cared for Marina Sirtis. Never mind."
"Well, I suppose we should get this over with. Good luck." Masamichi began walking down the other side of the hill towards the tree.
"Are you nervous?" asked Katana.
"A little, I suppose, but we don't have much choice. Whatever happens, happens."
"So you think we'll win?"
"I wouldn't fight if I thought we'd lose."
"And when we do, then what? Will you be leaving?"
The question caught Brooklyn off-guard. "I guess so. It's not really my choice."
"You know, I was just starting to like you. It'd be a shame to see you leave so soon."
"I'm not sure I've ever heard a female say that."
Katana laughed. "Don't worry, I'm sure you'll hear it again." Then she thrust her beak against his and left a quick kiss on his lips. "For luck." Brooklyn did not respond. He watched Katana jump on top of the small building and take off, then followed after her.
On the ground, Masamichi had just reached the tree he had called Funaho. He sat down in a meditative stance at its base and beams of light shot out from the tree into the pool at its base.
After a few minutes in the air, the ship appeared in the air below them. They had not seen it approach, but there was no denying its current presence. It was a quiet ship and it did not give off much heat, which made it easy for the gargoyles to land on it. Brooklyn had considered trying to make it crash by attacking the engines, but there were no visible engines, leaving the mechanics of the ship's motion a mystery.
The ship lowered to where Masamichi was standing, smiling and with sword in hand. A burst of blue light exploded from the front of the ship and rushed towards the ground. He jumped back effortlessly and it dissipated upon hitting the ground. "No damage," muttered Brooklyn. "Nonlethal."
Brooklyn and Katana dug their claws into the hull of the ship. The metal was surprisingly light and peeled away easily. They opened a small hole and dropped in, where their foe was waiting for them. It stood six feet tall and was bipedal with a thick tail. Its body was purple but fading to darker red. In one of its four thin arms it held a small gun trained on the intruders.
"Stay back," warned Brooklyn. The alien drew back as he spoke. "You don't know what it could do with that thing."
"It won't use it in here; it might damage the ship." Katana strode forward confidently as she spoke. The alien hesitated a moment, then its two left arms melted into one and shot out at her head. She ducked and chopped off the end of the tentacle, which fell to t he ground. At the same time, she whipped her tail up and hit one of its other arms, knocking the gun free and clattering across the room. The Spawn spun around, swinging its stiff tail at Katana. Her sword blocked it with a dull clunk as the severed body part jumped up to rejoin the rest. Katana pulled back for another swing and the Spawn melted forward, suddenly facing her without having turned around. It had only one long, sharp arm now, and it lunged forward, thrusting it like a sword at the other. Katana dueled with her single sword while dealing with the other attacks that came from the Spawn's body.
Brooklyn jumped past the Spawn and grabbed the gun off the ground, looking around the ship for the controls. Like its owner, the ship had little or no strict form. It was little more than a plain room with few prominent objects ornamenting it. The room was a surreal blend of colors casting dim light throughout. Brooklyn saw lights that appeared to form a pattern on one wall and fired at them. An electric blast issued forth, and upon contact the ship shuddered and began to fall. Brooklyn shot at the back of the Spawn, but its skin turned dark gray before impact and the blast dissipated. He tossed aside the weapon and charged the Spawn from behind, but it melted to the floor and he ran into Katana, who was barely able to move her sword aside before their collision.
The Spawn slithered along the ground and reformed next to a wall. It plunged its hand into the wall, which appeared to offer no resistance, and pulled out a few handheld weapons, then jumped at the wall. A hole appeared in it and the gargoyles rushed to follow, but the shock of the ship hitting the ground threw them to the floor again. Once the ship stopped, they righted themselves and ran out the rapidly closing hole.
As soon as he hit the grass, something jumped on Brooklyn's back. Katana froze as he was spun around and wrapped in the Spawn's tentacles. "What are you?" it said in its oozing voice. "How do you speak my language?"
"I'm just full of surprises. Here's another." From behind, Masamichi shoved his sword into the Spawn's torso and sliced upwards, splitting the top half of it in two.
The tentacles released and Brooklyn jumped away from the Spawn. Katana ran to his side, and as the two came close, the Spawn raised a handheld weapon at them. A red burst of energy came from it, but a white light appeared in front of the gargoyles and the red orb was deflected, making splinters of a tree across the lake. The Spawn leapt backwards through the air over Masamichi's head and shot a tendril down at him. A white light wall appeared and the Spawn's body rippled upon touching it. It hit the ground with a sloshing sound, then slowly pulled itself upright. A head formed facing Masamichi. "Light Hawk," it warbled. "So this is where you've been. It's not every day one meets a living legend. But how are you doing this?"
"Now what fun would it be if I told you all my secrets?" Masamichi smirked and charged the Spawn.
Masamichi's sword flashed as he swung at the Spawn, which shifted its form rapidly as it attempted a shot with its gun.
Katana ran forward to the melee.
"Wait!" called Brooklyn. Noticing a ring of grass missing from the ground about twenty feet in diameter, he picked up a rock and threw it at the combatants. It vanished in midair before it reached them. "There's a forcefield. One of them doesn't want us interfering."
"So what do we do?"
"It looks like we're out of this fight."
The Spawn fired its weapon at Masamichi. He swatted the energy ball aside with his sword and it dissolved on the force field. The Spawn fired several more misses, causing the air within to glow red. Masamichi continued his assault relentlessly, scoring several blows.
"You're doing well," the Spawn oozed.
"Don't feel bad. I'm just too strong for you."
"Only because of a gimmick."
"I use what I have available."
"Then pray you never lose it." As it said this, the downed ship suddenly sprang to life, charging full speed at Funaho. Masamichi jumped and stretched his hand out at the tree, but in that moment of distraction the Spawn hit him on the back. His face dropped to the ground and the ship crashed into Funaho, ripping it from the ground as Masamichi's white light faded.
The Spawn raised its gun at Masamichi. He ran forward and hit the gun with his sword as it fired another blast, throwing it from his enemy's hand. He rolled sideways to grab the gun, but the Spawn flicked a tendril out and the gun flew into the forcefield. The tendril reversed direction and hit Masamichi in the chest, causing him to make a gagging sound. He scurried along the ground attacking the Spawn, but his advantage was gone and he seemed to be weakening by the moment.
Brooklyn dove to the edge of the forcefield and shoved his claws into the dirt. Katana saw instantly what he was doing and joined in. Within seconds, the rain-softened ground gave way and a hole formed under the forcefield. Masamichi rolled under the Spawn's legs and fell into the hole, popping up on the other side as a burst of air exploded from his lungs. He gasped loudly as they ran away.
"Were you holding your breath?" asked Brooklyn.
"That place was full of ozone; I couldn't breathe without my wing. Thanks for the save."
"Just a little trick I picked up from Oberon."
Masamichi's jaw fell open. "You know Lord Oberon?"
Katana's tail whipped their legs and they met the ground as another burst of energy flew overhead.
The three of them turned around and charged the Spawn, Katana and Masamichi ducked with swords drawn and Brooklyn charging on all fours. The Spawn tossed a small metal orb at them and it exploded in front of Masamichi, throwing him back and leaving a deep crater. It also shattered a large boulder, sending shrapnel in all directions. A large piece was heading for Katana's chest and Brooklyn jumped in front, causing it to imbed into his abdomen.
"I'm fine," he grunted, pulling the shard out as blood oozed past it. He grabbed the rim of Katana's kimono and tore a piece off, hastily wrapping it around the wound as he jumped back onto his feet.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
"No sweat. Nice legs, by the way." Brooklyn ran to the downed spaceship and jumped on it, then up into the air, while Katana ran to help the staggering Masamichi who was covered with blood. The Spawn pulled out another gun and ran at them, preparing to fire.
"You forgetting someone, slimy?" shouted Brooklyn as he dove for the Spawn, screeching. It stopped in front of the others and turned to fire at him, but Masamichi hit the gun with his sword, causing his aim to go wide. Brooklyn came near and the Spawn shot a thick tentacle up. He pulled sideways, grabbed it, and flared his wings, sending himself to the other side of the Spawn while yanking on the tentacle. It stretched but did not break until Katana sliced it off. It dropped like a rock, but then bounced off the ground and hit Masamichi squarely in the chin, who promptly slumped to the ground.
"He should stay down this time," said the Spawn as the detached body part slithered back and rejoined it.
Katana slashed at the Spawn furiously. It easily jumped over her, kicking her in the back of the head and dropping her to the ground. It then sprouted a pair of wings and began flapping after Brooklyn. Katana ran to the ship and jumped off of it, riding the strengthening winds into the sky as she felt a few drops of rain on her back.
The Spawn flew up quickly. Brooklyn was a couple hundred feet in the air, higher than anything around short of the mountains. Within the last couple of minutes, fast moving black clouds had covered the sky so that Brooklyn could barely see the pale gray Spawn charging at him with an array of serrated tentacles in front. Brooklyn dove under and was sliced lightly near the base of his left wing as the rain began to pour down. He saw a tentacle trailing down and could barely make out Katana bound in the air about twenty feet below him. The Spawn was suffering little adverse reaction to the pounding rain against which Brooklyn was fighting to maintain every foot of altitude. He considered taking the fight back to the ground. He couldn't even tell for sure which way was up. He could barely see the pale gray alien.
Brooklyn inhaled sharply. Pale gray- "Katana, throw me your sword!" he screamed over the noise of the storm.
Despite her current handicap, Katana was still a master with a sword, and it flew straight towards Brooklyn. He dove to catch it as the Spawn dropped a tentacle to do the same. It got there first, but Brooklyn swiped the tentacle off with his claws and grabbed the weapon as the severed piece slice into Brooklyn's wrist. He flew under the Spawn and, sheltered from the torrent, flared his wings to charge up at it with the sword outstretched. The spawn formed a shield to block it, but Brooklyn pointed the sword forward and pierced the surface. With the sword sticking out of the Spawn, Brooklyn dove for the ground, a tentacle extending to chase after him. He couldn't see to the ground, but he was able to remember where the battle had begun, and aimed for the spot where Masamichi had fallen. As he neared the ground, the tentacle grabbed his ankle and slammed him onto the ground next to the fallen human. Brooklyn grabbed Masamichi's sword and stabbed through the tentacle, pinning it to the ground. it released its hold promptly, and Brooklyn grabbed Masamichi in his arms and ran away as he heard a deafening crack and saw a blinding flash of light.
Brooklyn turned around and walked back towards the Spawn. He saw Katana standing on the ground. Setting Masamichi down, he walked over to where she was squinting at a multihued puddle on the ground.
"What did you do?" she asked in awe.
"I'll explain in a minute. We need to wake up Masamichi- I can't tell if this thing's dead."
"I'm awake," he groaned, causing them to jump as he stood up behind them. He squatted over the puddle and poked it. It rippled slightly. "It's alive. You two watch it; I'm going to go find something to hold it with." He ran up to the downed spaceship. Moments later, bright lights came on from the ship, causing them to squint. Brooklyn could still see the afterimage of the earlier flash as Masamichi came running out with what appeared to be a vacuum cleaner, with which he sucked up the alien.
"What did you do to this thing?"
"When I tried to shoot it with the electric gun earlier, its skin turned gray. And up there, it was all gray. It's skin was insulated. I just had to give the electricity a path through it and a conductor to attract it."
"Why couldn't it simply change its shape and shake free?"
"My guess is that since it had to keep a layer of insulated skin on the outside of its body, it lost a lot of flexibility and didn't have time to get rid of Katana's sword."
"Which it doesn't look like I'll be able to find any time soon. What's electricity?" Brooklyn and Masamichi looked at each other and chuckled. "Oh, it's one of those alien things."
"Right," said Masamichi, laughing. "I'll tell you what- I'll take care of the alien. I've got a friend who will know what to do with it. Come to think of it, he should have come here... I hope nothing happened to him. You two stay here. I'll be back in about an hour."
"I'm not sure I'll be here in an hour," said Brooklyn. "It looks like my job here is done. I might have to leave soon."
"I see. All right, then, I'll be back in an hour one way or the other. If you're here, you can come back with us. If not- well, it has been an honor fighting with you, Brooklyn." He bowed deeply.
"Thank you, Masamichi," said Brooklyn, returning the gesture. "It's been an honor for me as well." The human then turned and climbed onto the ship. The hole they had made appeared to have healed itself, and the ship lifted off the ground promptly and disappeared into the night.
Brooklyn and Katana were quiet for a long moment. "Maybe we should get out of the rain," Brooklyn finally suggested.
"A good idea. I saw something up the hill a little. Come on." Katana led Brooklyn through the dark and rain, fumbling their way forward until they reached a large cave. On the inside was a wooden gate that had turned rotten and was easily pushed open. The two of them walked back through a tunnel a way, shivering and shaking their bodies dry. It was, of course, pitch dark, but they followed the tunnel back until it opened into a wider room. When they felt the space, they sat down on the floor.
"So, you're leaving soon," Katana said, sighing.
"It looks like it." He paused for a moment, then, feeling his face flush, he said, "I'll miss you."
"Thank you, Brooklyn. I will miss you as well."
Brooklyn felt himself shaking, but forced out the next words. "Well, maybe you- could- come with me."
"I just thought- well, if you wanted to-"
"You still haven't even told me where you're going."
"I know. I really shouldn't..." He sighed. "I will if you never tell anyone. I'm traveling through time. It's like- how do I explain this? I'm from many tomorrows away. But when I leave, I could be back at yesterday. And I don't know where or when I'm going. It's sort of like-"
"I understand what you mean by time travel. It sounds crazy, but I know I can trust you. Could I come, if I wanted to?"
"I have no idea. It's not something I've ever tried before. I think it depends on if you are meant to come or not. If you're meant to come with me, then you will. On the other hand, maybe you're meant to come or not come because it's what you would choose to do. In that case, I'm not sure what kind of a choice you have."
"I don't understand what you're saying. Do I have to go or not?"
"I don't understand either. I've been trying to figure it out all along, and every day it gets more confusing. Calvin didn't even scratch the surface. Here's my advice: forget all that. Decide for yourself. Maybe it's already been decided, and maybe it hasn't. Either way, I know whatever decision you make will be the right one."
"Thank you, friend. I do care for you, and I would like to go, but I don't think I'm ready. My clan needs me. I was the one who pushed for our new alliance with the humans, so now they need me more than ever. But I will miss you."
Brooklyn leaned towards the sound of her voice and entered into another kiss with her. Unlike their last, this was not a quick peck, but a deep and passionate experience- Brooklyn's first, though he would never admit it. As it broke, the room was lightened by a glowing gold shield in the back of the room. A ring of flame appeared in front of it.
"I guess that's my ride." He tried hard to hold back the tears he felt threatening. "That thing appears and disappears all the time and takes me with it. But someday, I'll catch it, and I'll be in charge. And when that happens, I'll be back. I promise you that." He turned and ran forward into the flames, which then disappeared, leaving Katana alone in the dark.
Masamichi saw the approaching island lit by the rising sun. He descended slowly, admiring the craft of the massive stone heads erected across it. As he approached, he heard a beep from one of the ship's monitors. "Really, what have we here? Someone's erected a stasis field and put you in suspended animation? Well, that shouldn't be." He punched a few buttons, and the ship's monitors showed the energy field dissolve. He carefully landed the ship by a hill near the edge of the island as a piece of the hill slid open. Masamichi stepped off the ship, while out of the hill an eight foot tall armored man with a blocky head similar to the statues emerged from the hill.
"Greetings, Nokkar," said Masamichi, bowing to him.
"And you as well, your highness."
"There's no need for such formality. For now, I'm just Masamichi Masaki, a humble priest from Japan."
"Who also knows how to fly a spaceship."
"Is that humor, Nokkar?"
"Thank you for the assistance, sir. What became of the Spawn?"
Masamichi lifted the carrier and handed it to the other. "I assume you will know what to do with this?"
"Again, thank you. I was unfortunately caught by surprise. The Spawn was using new technology- no doubt stolen. With time to study this ship, I should be able to prevent it from occurring again. Just send it back here after you get home."
"I admire your vigilance, Nokkar. The war between our three empires has left you here a long time."
"It is our burden to bear. The N'kai were but a simple, planetbound people until a redheaded woman descended from the sky and showed us we could be more. Yet if she knew what we had done with her gift... We must suffer this eternal penance. It is the only way we may atone for our original sin." The two parted ways and returned to where they came.
"I will try to make this quick, Spawn. I am a Sentinel, and not allowed to take prisoners. First, though, I will have to examine your memories and learn what your mission here was."
"Oh, my, that will not do," mused the invisible spectator of the events. "My lady would be most displeased if you learned too much. I will just have to ensure that there is nothing left to learn." The spectator reached out and felt through the Spawn's mind, wiping everything it could find there, until nothing was left but a jumble of impulses as chaotic as the Spawn's own form.
Author's Notes and Disclaimer:
First, the disclaimer, which will be very complicated. Tenchi Muyo! and all its characters and ideas are the property of AIC and Pioneer. Gargoyles is property of Disney and Buena Vista. Other aspects are a bit more confusing. The idea of Brooklyn's traveling through time, as well as the idea of an invasion of Earth by aliens known as Space-Spawn and a three way war between them, Nokkar's people the N'kai, and a third group, were created by Greg Weisman, producer of Gargoyles, but never used because the show was canceled before they could be integrated. However, I will say that these are the intellectual property of Greg Weisman. Katana is the same, although her physical description and approximate time of origin was taken from the joint fanfiction project "The Gargoyles Saga." If you'd like to learn more about these, you can visit www.s8.org/gargoyles or www.gargoyles-fans.org All concepts are used without permission of the creators and done solely for love of the shows rather than any attempt at profit.
Big, big thanks go out to BlaqueTalon for prereading this story and helping me iron out the final version- there were quite a few wrinkles he helped me spot. Remember, Blaque, if you ever need the favor returned, you know where to find me.
If you read this story, please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. I always like to know if people are reading my work.
Following are historical notes on the time period. Nobunaga Oda was one of the most influential figures in Japanese history. The battle described in the story took place much as described on June 22, A.D. 1560. It was fought in Dengaku-Hazama (hazama meaning gorge), though for reasons unclear to me and possibly unclear to historians as well, it is known as the battle of Okehazama. Regardless, it was clearly a major turning point. Had Imagawa defeated Nobunaga, there is little doubt he would have made it to Kyoto and become the most powerful warlord in Japan, which would have monumental impact on history. After Nobunaga's defeat of Imagawa, all events seemed to move in his favor and he soon became the ruler of all Japan, helping to usher in the Tokugawa era, which lasted for 250 years.
If you're interested in seeing Kiyosu castle, go to
http://library.thinkquest.org/C001119/tour/parse.php3?src=kiyosu&tqskip1=1&tqtime=1102 or http://www.geocities.com/castlejapan/kiy_bp1.html
The concept of tengu is part of Japanese mythology. Tengu were believed to be lesser gods who lived in trees. They had beaks and wings and were typically good with swords. Following the pattern of the Gargoyles television show, it seemed an obvious choice to claim that these mythological figures were based on a more humble truth.
This was a fun story to write, and I hope you all enjoyed my first crossover. Actually, this story suggests the possibility of a much larger crossover, but I have little desire to write it at this point. If anyone else wants to, though, I do think it's a good idea and a lot could be done with it. Love & Peace, all!