Author: karrenia PM
An Immortal, Gunthar Norman arrives in Manhattan seeking the Stone of Destiny to exact revenge agasint the Gargoyle clan that he blames for the death of his ancestor, Hakon, and runs into more than he bargained for as the clan joins forces with Duncan MacRated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure - Chapters: 3 - Words: 25,269 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 1 - Updated: 10-10-03 - Published: 09-04-02 - Status: Complete - id: 950734
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
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 Karen
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.
Scene 2 Plans
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. At Castaway's order.
"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.
Scene 3 Encounter
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 circled 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.'
Scene 4 Interlude
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 small bookcase 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. After all, remember after we first awoke in this Manhattan after a 10 centuries worth of stone sleep."
"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."
Scene 5 Flashback
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."
Scene 6a 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 met 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!"
"Thatisn'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."
Scene 7a Confrontation
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 a stairway 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!"
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.
Scene 7b Fight scene
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
"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 2inch 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.
1 Scene 8 Aftermath
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.
Scene 9 Conclusion
"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."