A/N: *Sheepishly pokes head up* Hi! We're finally back! I'm sorry it's taken so long (since June!) to get back in gear. I mentioned in my Halloween fic that I'd been dealing with writer's block, and I think I've finally broken through it. (Thanks Leroy! :) ) Bossybossninja and I have come up with an exciting chapter for you. I hope you enjoy! (Fingers, toes and eyes crossed it won't take another 5 months to write the next one. *Beckett Eyeroll*)
Nissa was pensive as she walked beside Gideon on the way to the precinct, dispelling the fog to a few feet in front of them, just enough so they could see where they were going.
"You're being very quiet," Gideon mentioned, not concerned, but curious.
"I don't know, Gideon," Nissa replied. "I just have a feeling we may have made a fatal error."
There were a few seconds of silence that passed between them, making it seem the entire world around them was holding its breath.
"That's just it, Gideon. It's like it's right there," she pointed to her head. "But it won't come out."
"I wish I knew how to help you," he said. "Perhaps it will come through when we're all together."
"I hope so."
Time goes ticking away. For them.
Garruk was on the move, not really knowing where he was going in the fog, but gathering mana like a leech wherever he went.
They only stall because they know their fate. They will pay for their crime against me!
A disembodied voice flowed through the fog.
"... Did you get that honey? … I know … I'll be there as soon as I can. This is the last time I walk home from work, I promise … I know, this fog has me all turned around … No, I think we should just wait."
Garruk homed in on the sound of the voice. The closer he got, the surer he was that this wasn't a planeswalker, but he might just be able to get some important information out of him anyway.
The man's eyes grew wide as he stepped into the area Garruk had cleared of fog and saw the giant with his axe staring at him.
"Uh… honey…" he mumbled softly into the phone. "I need you to call the cops. The guy from TV… yeah, that one… He's here." The man broke into a run, his only thought to disappear into the mist.
Stupid. Garruk thought as he flicked his wrist. A root jutted out of the sidewalk, tripping the man before he had taken three steps, sending him sprawling onto the ground.
"None of that, foolish man. Tell me where the planeswalkers are, or you will wish you were dead!"
Jace and Chandra were already at the precinct when Nissa and Gideon arrived. No pleasantries were exchanged as Beckett led them into a conference room to discuss logistics.
"So, what are we looking at here?" Kate asked. What spells do we need and what kind of spells are we expecting from Garruk?
"Well, monsters, of course," replied Jace, lightly rubbing the spot on his thigh where the Terra Stomper had gored him. Nissa and Gideon's healing ministrations had left no scar, but Jace could still feel some pain, and likely would for awhile. "Terastodon, Baloth, Primalcrux…"
"We also need to be prepared if he uses a black spell," cut in Gideon. "Perhaps a Crypt Ghast, or Fleshmad Steed."
"Ummm… how many monsters are there?" asked Kate.
"Too many," the others replied in unison.
"And don't forget Elementals," Chandra continued. "An Ivy or a Greenwarden. I wouldn't be surprised if he pulled a Vortex Elemental, with all the water and blue mana around."
Nissa gasped, her dismay evident.
"Nissa?" queried Jace.
She replied to the other man instead.
"Gideon, you remember the walk here? The feeling that was nagging at me?"
He leaned forward, a thoughtful look on his face.
"Yes, a 'fatal error', you called it."
"I was so stupid not to think of it; especially since I was using it myself," she went on in a self-deprecating tone. "Dispel."
All the planeswalkers except Kate groaned. Nissa continued for her benefit.
"It's a blue spell and Garruk usually has a one-track mind with using green spells. But this is one of the easiest spells for anyone to learn, even a mage who doesn't have a spark."
"That's true," said Chandra. "Even though dispel is not a particularly powerful spell, neither is fog. It would likely work if he thought of it."
"So, what you're saying is Garruk can get rid of this fog with a wave of his hand – or however he casts spells?" asked Kate.
"Yes," Nissa answered. "All I've done with the fog is made it easier for him to hide his moves."
"Great," said Gideon sarcastically. "I love playing chess blind."
He was telling the truth.
Unfortunate that the man had no news of the planeswalkers. He claimed not to know what a planeswalker was, much to Garruk's disbelief. However, he did have one piece of information that was useful.
"There is a green place across the water, I can smell it. How can I get there?" Garruk tightened the vine he had conjured around the man's chest and arms.
"You mean Weehawken?" the man – whose name was Larry – wheezed.
With a flick of his wrist, the vines squeezed tighter.
"Tun-…Please… Can't breathe…"
The vines loosened – but only just.
Larry took a few shallow breaths, the constriction still too much for anything deeper.
"Lin-Lincoln Tunnel's a block away. But there's no pedestrian access. You'll need to go to the George Washington Bridge at 178th, to walk across, or take a ferry."
"What is a ferry?"
The man looked at Garruk like he was stupid, but still trying to not piss him off even more.
"A boat," he answered, beginning to struggle against the vines, which tightened again.
"I don't wish to take a boat," the giant said. "Is the bridge close by?"
"N-n-no," Larry stammered. "It's over a hundred blocks from here."
The vines became so tight that Larry was turning blue. A tendril snaked its way up to his neck, circling it.
"I will walk across through the tunnel."
"P-please!" Larry croaked.
Garruk relented. He needed to conserve mana, and although he was going to a place with a lot of it, the less he had to gather meant there would be more during the fight.
Larry gasped a few deep breaths and looked up at the giant.
"I'm a maintenance worker," he said. "I know how to get you across the tunnel, but I'm wondering why you don't just go to Riverside Park?"
The vines tightened again.
"W-wait!" Larry gurgled. "I can show…"
The vines eased.
"Show me what?"
"Can I get my phone out of my pocket?"
The cursed planeswalker acquiesced. The vines loosened enough for Larry to retrieve his phone and pull up the maps app. He scooted closer to Garruk, showing him the map.
"See, here's where we're at now, and here's Weehawken," he said. "It's closer, one and a half miles across the tunnel, and Riverside starts at just under three miles from here. But look," he scrolled the map up. "It's skinny, but it's long. And there's more than one park going up the island. You said you wanted green space. You don't have to go to Jersey, you can just stay here."
Garruk examined Larry's phone. It was like no map he'd ever used, but he understood the gist of it.
"Which direction?" he asked Larry.
The man pointed north.
"You have done well."
The vines fell away from Larry's body and he watched the being stride away – hoping he hadn't helped destroy the city by helping the giant with the axe.
The group of magic users was somber as they filed out of the conference room. They had all spent some time after the meeting gathering what mana they could in preparation for the battle coming. It would be enough to begin… they hoped.
"I need to make a couple of calls before we head out." Kate stepped away from the others and pulled her phone from her pocket. If she noticed any disapproving looks, she ignored them as she pressed the speed dial.
"Hey, Katie," Jim's voice came over the line. I just got back from the cabin a few minutes ago. You would not believe how many voicemails I have!"
"Guess it serves me right for turning the phone off for the past couple of weeks up there," he interrupted. "What's on your mind, Honey?"
Kate was going to tell the whole story to her father, but decided against it. There wasn't time.
"I have a pretty good idea of what those voicemails are about, Dad. After we hang up, I'm going to call Castle. I'm going to ask him to take his family to his house in the Hamptons."
"And you're telling me this because…?" Jim asked warily.
"I want you to go with him," she ran her fingers through her hair. "I know you just got back, but I really need you to go."
"Katherine Houghton Beckett, what's going on?"
Oh, boy, it's The Full Name. He's pulling out the big guns for an explanation.
"Please, Dad, I don't have time to explain, just – listen to your voicemail and Castle can fill you in on the rest – and maybe he can pull up a couple of YouTube videos for you. I'm positive something's been posted."
"Dad I really don't have time. Just… please. I love you."
She clicked off and immediately called Rick, motioning the others to follow her out of the precinct.
"I've got the news on. They've been showing footage of the big axe guy I'm assuming is Garruk. Now they're talking about the weird fog. You guys set that up, right?"
"Yeah. We're heading out to face him now."
"Ooh! Where should I meet you?"
"Nowhere, Castle!" she exclaimed – much sharper than she had intended.
"I'm sorry, Castle…" Kate's voice was contrite and worried and frightened all at the same time, which Rick could hear through the line.
"But I do need you to do something for me."
I need you to go to your place in the Hamptons. Take your mom and Alexis. And would you swing by and pick up my dad?"
"I thought you told me he was up at his cabin?"
Kate smiled a little at the domesticity of the conversation. Circumstances aside, it seemed so normal.
"He just got back. Please, Rick?" Using his first name. She could pull out the big guns too. "I just need to be able to do this without worrying about all of you."
"Consider it done. I know you've given me your dad's address before, but give it to me again so I don't have to go searching."
Kate breathed a sigh of relief, gave him the information and hurried out to her cruiser.
My rage will guide me. My army will crush them. I will finally be free. It is time.
When Garruk reached Riverside Park, he closed his eyes to calm himself for the task ahead. He needed monsters – and a lot of them. When he had conjured the elemental yesterday it took more out of him than he had thought it would. Creating the creature then sending it into a pocket dimension felt like a waste of mana, but it was necessary to keep his true scheme undiscovered.
He spread his arms, the warmth of the sun enveloping his body. He was so consumed by darkness most of the time, it was a welcome change. It helped in gathering mana as well.
And gather mana he did.
Garruk didn't drain the place, he didn't want anyone discovering his plan until he set it into motion. He used the mana to summon several creatures, then placed them into another pocket dimension until he called them to emerge and wreak havoc on the city.
Then he moved on to the next park, repeating his actions until he reached the north end of Manhattan.
The cursed planeswalker spoke a simple command.
And all hell broke loose.
The fog disappeared in a flash. Immediate action was taken by the police force, scanning traffic cams to search for any sign of Garruk. It wasn't long before they found a few.
"What's out there?" Kate was on the phone with Gates, driving her Crown Vic with Nissa riding shotgun.
"Reports are just coming in, and it doesn't look good. Kate, he has an army, and they're everywhere."
"Define everywhere." Kate held her breath, not exactly wanting to hear the extent of the situation.
"The Northwest side of Manhattan is being attacked."
"Then Plan A it is then. Local National Guard combined with our forces and the planeswalkers hold out until reinforcements arrive."
"Sounds good…Hang on a second, Detective."
Gates covered the phone and spoke to someone. Kate heard a muffled yell that sounded like a 'WHAT?!' from the captain.
She came back on the line
"One more thing. A little bigger than our other issues. He made… a mountain move."
"Like a geographical mountain?" Kate bit her lip, knowing there was a small chance it could be that, but not likely.
"No, more like the 'walks on four legs and is headed straight for midtown kind."
Of course. The literal mountain would have been easier – as weird as that sounded – and they couldn't have that.
"Shit. That's a problem. Is it coming from the north?"
"Yes. Tell the other planeswalkers, see if they have a solution. If not, God help us all."
Kate dropped her phone and slammed her foot on the gas, jolting Nissa forward.
"What's this about a mountain?" she asked.
Kate flipped the siren before answering, it screaming as they sped down the street.
"Captain Gates said there's something – some sort of monster, I guess – that's so huge she described it as a mountain. That can't be right, can it? She's exaggerating, right?"
"Did she describe it further?" asked Nissa.
"Just as a mountain."
Nissa closed her eyes and Kate recognized she was contacting the others. When she opened them, she turned to the woman in the driver's seat.
"We're in deeper trouble than we thought…"
"Deeper trouble?" Kate exclaimed. "How the hell can we be in deeper trouble?"
"Jace and the others have seen it," Nissa replied. "It's an elemental known as the Lord of Extinction. And it is the size of a small mountain."
"What are we going to do?"
My deception is working. It is coming together now.
Garruk, after taking every last bit of mana that he could, had left Fort Washington Park in a state of death, not purposely, but because of his curse the place was left withering. He quickly generated a new fog spell – I can play that game too – and began moving south.
Hidden by the fog, Garruk emerged in West New York, finding his way to where he knew the creatures that he had summoned were clashing against the planeswalkers.
North Manhattan was a warzone. Rubble and debris of every kind were strewn about, lights of every color flashing in the air and ground, and outlandish creatures of every shape clashed with each other. In the center of it all, the five planeswalkers fought on, aided by the fantastical creatures they summoned and the more mundane help of hot lead spewing from a firing line that offered support and a wall of defense to keep the creatures from rampaging through the city.
"The Lord of Extinction is almost here! We need a solution!" Panic swept across the entire city and no doubt the nation as news helicopters showed footage of the monstrous beast that was nearly half the size of the city.
"We could try to exile it back to the Æther!" Jace shouted as an azure drake he had summoned flew over him, a baloth in its claws.
"The power required, that would take a whole lot of energy, Jace!" Nissa was in the process of trying to keep a shambling mound of plant material from engulfing her when Chandra sent a jet of flame its way, consuming the monster with a flash of light.
Bullets whizzed in the air, riddling a baloth and sending it sprawling. The planeswalkers were very grateful for the city's assistance – crude weapons or not.
"We need to try!" Jace barked. "We have to push forward unless we want to meet the giant in the middle of the city!"
Gideon shouted as he raised a glowing spear into the air. "Today the combined strength of us will not fail!" He chanted a spell, and a shimmering golden sphere appeared around not only all five planeswalkers, but also the entire NYPD.
"We have to reach the Lord of Extinction before it reaches midtown!" Kate cried. "Let's move!"
With newfound vigor, the whole of them surged forward, laying waste to the many beasts before them.
Overhead, the thunder of jets could be heard. The few bystanders who were brave enough to watch the battle outside looked on as three fighter planes flew over Manhattan and sent several rockets straight into the behemoth headed toward the middle of the city. Partially fazed by the spectacular explosions that erupted in its face, the colossal monster stopped, but only for a few seconds, then continued forward.
"We need more firepower!"
"Pay attention to the monsters on hand!"
"Look out Jace!"
"Another at your side, watch that firing line!"
All hell certainly had broken loose. But would the combined effort of the defense be enough to overcome this onslaught? The question ran through everyone's mind. And then the worst thing that could happen did.
It turned out the bubble wasn't a shield – as Kate had hoped it was. When Gideon had cast it, she felt a boost of power and witnessed a baloth trying to stomp one of the soldiers, but the man jumped right back up to spread a hail of bullets into the creature.
The feeling of invincibility was short lived, however. The dome dissipated quickly, and injuries began mounting again.
Kate looked at the ground as a low rumbling was heard and felt below her feet. Kate looked at Nissa, who shook her head and continued fighting.
A Bellowing Tanglewurm, a monster as terrible as its name, burst out of the ground directly in front of Nissa. She tried to jump away, but couldn't move fast enough.
A spike on the creature's head tore through her shoulder, nearly severing her arm.
A/N 2: We'd love to hear your thoughts!