The Scottish Play
Greg Bishansky

June 25th, 1999.

The weather was quite temperate for summer in Manhattan. People went about their business, coming and going. But nobody noticed the most unusual sight for midtown. Three barn owls perched atop the roof of one of the city's many courthouses. The middle owl was as black as a raven, flanked by an owl of silver and one of gold.

Within the courthouse, Elisa Maza sat in the gallery as Margot Yale stood before the bench making her closing arguments.

"These three men are animals," Margot said, pacing between the judge and the jury. "Rabid animals. And like any other rabid animal, they must be caged to protect civilized human beings."

"I see," Judge Ian Roebling said. Then he nodded to the defense attorney, who stood as Margot sat.

"Your Honor," the defense attorney said, as she approached the bench. She was a tall brunette with long, flowing hair. "I move for a mistrial."

"Objection," Margot shouted.

"Overruled," Judge Roebling said, then turned towards the defense attorney. "On what grounds, Miss Banks?"

"On the grounds of Assistant District Attorney Yale's conflicts of interest," Miss Banks said. "My clients have authorized me to inform the jury that on two occasions, they have attempted to mug Ms. Yale and her husband, Mr. Quarters. As such, Ms. Yale was under ethical obligation to recuse herself from the proceedings."

"Your Honor," Margot said, as she stood up.

"Ms. Yale, I recommend you sit before I find you in contempt," Judge Roebling said. He sighed, and continued. "By the power invested in me by the city, county, and state of New York, I rule a mistrial."

At the defense's table, three known street punks cheered.

"The defendants will return to the city jail where they will be released."

Elisa sighed, disgusted by all this, stood and left the courtroom. As she made her way outside, Matt Bluestone stood on the steps waiting. "Hey, partner, did they throw the book at them?"

"Weeks of tracking those hoodlums," Elisa fumed. "And they're back on the streets because Margot had to try to punish them, personally."

"Margot Yale, the gift that keeps on giving," Matt said. "Dare I ask who the defense attorney was?"

"My favorite public defender," Elisa said, her eyes narrowed in anger.

"The last time I saw that look was when you thought Dracon might make parole," Matt said. "So, the lovely Sharon Banks puts three more perps back on the street."

"I don't blame her," Elisa said. "I blame Margot. What could have possibly been going through her mind?"

"You don't blame Miss Banks?" Matt asked. "Not even a little? This is the fifth time this year."

"Just because I don't blame her doesn't mean that I can stand her," Elisa said, as she walked down the stairs and onto the sidewalk. "I'm going home to take a nap," she said. "Tonight's my night off, and I'm looking forward to a quiet evening at home."

"Better than another night of arresting perps for crusading public defenders to put back on the street," Matt said.

"Someone please just kill me," Elisa said, as she yawned.

High above her, the three barn owls circled overhead, then flew off.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Columbia University

"And we are slowly discovering more evidence of gargoyles throughout European history," Lennox Macduff said, as he sat in an armchair on stage. He looked out at his audience and smiled. "As detailed in my book, 'Gargoyles In Celtic Legend', gargoyles played an influential, if mostly forgotten part, in our history."

His debate opponent, John Castaway, glared at him, then stood up. "Well, Mr. Macduff, I am not taking chances with human life at stake to sell a book to raise my speaking fees," he said. "The Quarrymen are reprinting Angus Canmore's Demons In the Night, and offering copies to anyone that wants one free of charge."

"I am familiar with that book, Mr. Castaway," Lennox said, as he stifled a chuckle. "It suggests that gargoyles are immortal demons. That could not be further from the truth. Gargoyles are flesh and blood, just like any one of us."

"The book was written in the nineteenth century," Castaway said. "Now we know better than to believe in the existence of the supernatural. But Angus Canmore had direct contact with these monsters. Perhaps his claims of their demonic nature were influenced by their behavior.. Whether or not they are flesh and blood is irrelevant. They pose a danger to us all, and that makes them dangerous."

"Should we trust the words of a man who didn't understand what he was writing about?" Lennox asked. "I believe that book is one of the reasons why the Canmore siblings blew up the 23rd Precinct, three years ago."

"I'm afraid we're out of time," the moderator said as he stepped forward. "I would like to thank both Lennox Macduff and John Castaway for the spirited debate."

The audience began to exit the theater. Castaway stood up and politely offered his hand to Lennox, but Lennox eyed it suspiciously and ignored it. Castaway scowled, then left in a huff.

As Lennox left the stage, a Chinese-American woman, flanked by a tall Middle-Eastern man, a short Korean woman, and an average-sized British woman, approached him. "Mr. Macduff," she said. "My name is Khulan Chung. I'm the President of Citizens with Wings."

"Charmed," Lennox said as he shook her hand.

"I just want to thank you for your debate performance," she said. "Thanks to you, we're already in the process of signing up at least a hundred new members."

"You do good work," he said.

"Thanks," Khulan said. "I would like to invite you to speak at one of our meetings."

"And I'm afraid I must decline," Lennox replied. "But I will send you copies of my book to hand out."

He stepped out of the auditorium and was on his way to his car when something bumped into him from the side. Instinctively, he reached out and took the hand of the woman before she could trip. But the stacks of bound documents she was carrying scattered all over the ground.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I should have watched where I was going."

"Oh it's all right, lass," Lennox said. He suddenly paused and took her in. She was gorgeous. Long, flowing red hair, deep blue eyes, and just a couple of inches shy of six feet. She was wearing a pair of faded blue jeans, and a black t-shirt depicting Princess Leia holding a blaster rifle. "My name is Lennox Macduff."

She looked him in the eye and giggled. "Seriously?" she asked.

"Yes," he replied. "Seriously."

"I'm sorry," she said. "I'm Veronica Baird, professor of Shakespeare."

"I thought you looked familiar," Lennox replied. "I attended one of your lectures a few years ago. The one about proto-feminism in Shakespeare. I was especially impressed by the case you made for Portia."

"Portia is easy," Veronica replied. "But I think I won a few people over on Juliet."

"I was especially interested in what you had to say about Miranda," he said.

"You really did come to my lecture," she said. "And with a name like 'Lennox Macduff', I would hope so."

"Let's just say, the Bard is so near and dear to me. One could say he was a friend," Lennox said with a grin. "I've even acted in a few of his plays, in my time."

"How interesting you should say that," Veronica replied. "Because this year, I was chosen to direct Shakespeare In the Park's presentation of 'The Scottish Play'."

"Superstitious?" Lennox asked.

"Not at all," Veronica replied, then laughed. "But the man playing Duncan is, and he's convinced that if anybody says the title, doom will rain down on us. Or some crap like that."

"Well, I wish you luck," Lennox said. "Perhaps I'll attend a showing."

"Right now, I don't think there's going to be a showing," she said. "My leading man just dropped out. He ate some bad clams and is suffering from food poisoning. And his understudy was just cast for a recurring role over at Packmedia Studios."

"Someone said the name, I see," Lennox said, with a grin.

"The actor playing Duncan is convinced someone did," Veronica said, then giggled again. "He went on a tear the other day trying to find out who it was."

"Well, I've played the lead part once or twice," Lennox said. "If you need someone to step in, I could do it. I would never turn down an opportunity to participate in one of Will's greatest comedies."

"Comedy?" Veronica asked. "That's an interesting interpretation, Mr. Macduff."

"Sorry," Lennox replied. "But I'm also a bit of a history buff. The real Macbeth was much more noble than Shakespeare's ambitious villain. And the historical Duncan was certainly no victim."

"I know," Veronica replied. "I've read your book."

"You have?" Lennox replied, and smiled. "I'm flattered."

"I especially loved the paragraph about how you believe that William Shakespeare based Lady Macbeth on a gargoyle that served in Macbeth's court, while his wife was in actuality a kind and gentle woman."

"Well, it is just a theory of mine," Lennox said, still grinning.

"I liked it," she said. "In fact, I've chosen to interpret Lady Macbeth as a gargoyle in my play."

Lennox laughed, "I'm sure John Castaway would love that."

"Now, now," she said. "I'm balancing things out. Macduff and Duncan will also be portrayed as gargoyles."

"Interesting," Lennox said. "I'm now all too eager to see it."

"How about you come to my office for a private audition?" Veronica asked. "I need to cast Macbeth and fast."

"You just said the name," Lennox said.

"I know," she replied. "Screw it." The two of them laughed, as he helped her pick up her papers, then they strode together across the campus towards her office. "Let the witches curse us as they please."

Neither of them noticed the black, silver, and gold stray cats that watched them from under Lennox's car.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Nightstone Unlimited

Dominique Destine made her way through the building, carrying a large violin case. Along the way, a few of her employees stopped to greet her. But even more of them stayed out of her way, just as she preferred it. She entered her office, and found a tall, bespectacled Eurasian woman with long dark hair, and a blonde streak running down the side.

"Ms. Destine," she said. "I'm Victoria Saffron, Vice President of the coffee franchise."

"How lovely," Dominique replied. "I don't have time for you, do show yourself out."

"As you wish, Ms. Destine." Victoria stood up, showing no sign of protest and exited the office.

Dominique watched her go, somewhat surprised. "I wish all of them complied as easily as she."

She locked the office door, then pressed a button on her desk. The book shelf behind her chair slid open. Dominique opened the violin case, producing a mace. She then stepped through the passageway into Nightstone Unlimited's command center.

She crossed the command center to a staircase at the far wall. She scowled at the sight of the statues of those twin Angela clones, Goneril and Regan, standing at attention. She'd deal with them later. They were also flanked by two clones of Bronx and Fu-Dog. She walked past them, and up the staircase towards Thailog's personal quarters. His door wasn't even locked.

As she entered the windowless rooms, she rolled her eyes at just how decadent it all was. And there he was. Thailog, frozen in stone, wearing only a loincloth. This would be so easy, she almost felt sorry for him. She slowly sauntered closer to him, raising her mace.

Suddenly a bolt of electricity blasted into the mace. The shock of the blast briefly electrocuted Dominique's hand, causing her to drop the mace. "Who dares?" But her answer stood before her.

A female mutate, bearing a slight resemblance to Talon, stepped out of the shadows and snarled. The mutate had a mane of hair as white as Thailog's, and a cybernetic brain implant. Dominique's eyes narrowed. Despite the mutation, the resemblance was undeniable. A clone of Elisa Maza, mutated just as her brother had been.

Another human stepped out of the shadows. This one was barely out of her teens, dressed like a goth, and wearing too many chains around her neck. "You must be Dominique Destine," she said. "My name is Shari, and I am Mr. Thailog's personal assistant."

Dominique glared at Shari, but said nothing.

"While Mr. Thailog is happy that you are taking an active interest in the company, it would be unwise to forget that you two are partners," Shari said. "Which is why he enlisted Talon Commando Number One here to remind you that he doesn't want visitors while he sleeps."

"He clearly, doesn't pay you enough," Dominique said, scowling.

"I don't serve at his behest for the money, Ms. Destine," Shari said. She suddenly smiled. "And please behave. Because if you don't, never forget that Mr. Thailog knows how to deal with you on a permanent basis."

Dominique's scowl became a snarl, as close to what she would be capable of at night as possible. She picked up her mace, turned and exited Thailog's quarters. As she made her way though the command center, she looked out the giant windows and pondered her current predicament. "Perhaps it's time to remove my greatest liability."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

The Eyrie Building

Atop the tallest tower of the castle, the gargoyles slumbered. But the sun set beyond the horizon. As its last rays vanished, the stone skin of the gargoyles began to crack. Then they each awoke with a growling yawn, as the shards of skin scattered into the air.

Goliath leaped off the tower and landed below, next to the rest of his clan, as they each brushed the flakes and shards of skin off of themselves.

"What a beautiful night," Hudson said, as he took a whiff of the summer air.

"Indeed," Goliath said, as he stared out over the city.

As the gargoyles mingled, Owen stepped out of the doorway, approaching Angela. "Forgive my intrusion, but you requested today's copy of the New York Times?"

"Yes, thank you," Angela said. She took the paper and flipped to the Arts & Entertainment section. "There's supposed to be an interview with," her head briefly sank. "Oh, St. John Devereaux dropped out of Shakespeare In the Park's production of Macbeth."

"Don't worry," Broadway said. "I'm sure they'll do a good job recasting."

"I know," Angela said. "But I loved him as Falstaff in 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' last summer."

"Well, how about we sneak into a movie," Broadway said, but then noticed this wasn't cheering her up. "Or we could go see 'Miss Saigon'."

"I'd love to," Angela said, before she smiled. The two of them took each other's hands and then soared off.

Staghart finished brushing some stone flakes off his white fur and joined Lexington. "Those two are adorable together," he said as he watched Broadway and Angela soar off.

"Yeah," Lex replied, as he squeezed Amp's hand. "Oh, come on, let's head inside."

The two gargoyles made their way into one of the lower levels of the castle, where Lex found his laptop. He then pulled up his browser. "Okay, that anti-virus program that I've been working on should finally be good to go."

Amp looked over his shoulders at the specs. "This is amazing," he said. "How did you do it?"

"I was poking through Xanatos's shadier files and found that virus the government infected Coldstone with, once," Lex replied. "So I reverse-engineered that, and now we have the most advanced anti-virus program on the planet. Now, all I need to do is finish setting up the website and we'll be good to go."

"Neat," Amp said. "How much will you be selling it for?"

"Selling?" Lex asked. "I thought I'd put it up for free. I mean, what do we need with money?"

"The London Clan runs Into the Mystic to pay for Knight's Spur's expenses," Amp said. "I know Goliath is still stuck in an earlier century, but if you made a tiny little profit off of this, I don't see the harm."

"Well, we don't really have expenses," Lex said. "Xanatos pays for everything… and I see your point."

"Capitalism isn't so bad," Amp said. "And if profiting off of this bothers you, you could always donate your proceeds to charity."

"Good idea," Lex said. "Maybe that Citizens With Wings organization."

"Jolly good show," Amp said. "But your business needs a name. How about 'The Lexington Corporation'."

"A little unoriginal, but why not?" Lex said, as he began typing into his keyboard.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

SoHo

Goliath soared through the air, over the various apartment buildings, before circling around his destination and landing on the rooftop outside Elisa's loft. He strode over to the open window and let himself inside.

"Elisa?" he called. There was no verbal response, but he quickly found her to his right, sitting alone at her dinner table. She was wearing an over-sized black t-shirt, her bare left shoulder sticking out through the neckline, and a pair of white panties. She had a glass of bourbon in one hand, and an open bottle in front of her. "Are you all right?"

"Weeks of stakeouts, weeks of building a case to send those three animals up the river, and it all falls apart because Margot Yale is a vengeful idiot!" Elisa cried, before taking another sip of her drink.

"What happened?" Goliath asked, as he took a seat at her left and gently set the bottle out of her reach.

"She'd been mugged by those thugs," Elisa said. "More than twice!"

"And this is a problem?" Goliath asked, genuinely confused.

"It's a conflict of interest, Goliath," Elisa said. "Justice is supposed to be blind."

"Why does the city not remove her?"

"Because she comes from a very influential family," Elisa replied, seething in anger, "so she can screw up and not face any consequences. I feel sorry for that schlub she's married to."

"I understand," Goliath said. He took her by the hand, and led her away from the table. "Why don't you just sit down. I will make you a cup of tea."

"Sounds good to me," Elisa said. "I'm sorry, Margot is the last person I want to think about. How about you and I just sit back and watch 'Casablanca'?"

Goliath filled the teapot with water and placed it on the hot stove. He then made his way over to Elisa, placed an arm around her, and drew her in for a kiss. "Oh, my Elisa, you are my night," he said. "I do not know what I would do without you." Elisa smiled, and snuggled up against him.

Neither of them noticed three barn owls of black, silver, and gold perched on the ledge outside, watching them with their large dark eyes.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Central Park, June 30th.

"This is Beatrix Carradine live at the Delacorte Theater," the WVRN correspondent said, as she held a mic and spoke into the camera. "I am joined by Veronica Baird, Professor of Shakespeare at Columbia, and director of this summer's production of Shakespeare In the Park."

"Thanks for talking to me," Veronica said.

"What changes can we expect in the play?" the reporter asked, trying to sound interested and just barely succeeding.

"I've just cast Lennox Macduff in the role of our infamous villain protagonist," Veronica replied. "Naturally, St. John Devereaux will be missed, but Lennox knows the role cold. He had no trouble stepping into his shoes, and I think all of you will be particularly impressed."

"There have been rumors that over the last week, you have had two costuming and prosthetic companies working on gargoyle costumes," Beatrix asked, her interest perking up.

"Guilty is charged," Veronica said, then laughed. "Considering some of the recent theories about the role gargoyles may have played in medieval Scotland, I thought it'd be fun to add a little gargoyle flair to the production."

"Do tell," the reporter pressed.

"To start with, Lady Macbeth will be portrayed as a gargoyle," Veronica replied. "So will Macduff, and King Duncan. I mean, why not? Given current events in our city, let's have a little fun."

"So a mixture of good guys and bad guys?" Beatrix asked. "That won't make the Quarrymen or PUIR happy."

"Oh, if they don't like it they can just kiss my..." Veronica suddenly remembered she was on network television and caught herself. "But yes, a mix on both sides. What's more, Macbeth and Lady Macduff will still be portrayed as humans. A little bit of 'Beauty and the Beast'."

"There's a rumor of a pretty charged love scene in the play," the reporter said. "Will it be between man and gargoyle?"

"Well, I guess you'll just have to see for yourself," Veronica said, then smiled.

"Well, Professor Baird, we here at the network wish you luck," Beatrix said, as she turned back towards the camera. "This is Beatrix Carradine reporting live at Delacorte Theater. Back to you, Travis."

Behind the stage, Lennox watched as the interview ended, and laughed to himself. "Will would have enjoyed this."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

The Quarryman Brownstone

Castaway shut off the TV and scowled. "And who does this woman think she is to pollute Shakespeare's masterpiece with this trash?" His voice dripped with disgust.

"Normally I'd say that it's just a play, and leave it be," Sarah Browne said, as she sat in front of his desk. "But she just implied that she will be depicting bestiality on stage. Maybe this is why Devereaux dropped out."

"And, of course, Lennox Macduff is in the starring role." Castaway sat back down behind his desk. "He is trying to normalize these monsters."

"We could organize a boycott," Sarah suggested.

"I intend to," Castaway said. He stood up again, and paced around his desk towards the window. "And we'll organize a protest. Tonight."

"I can't tonight," Sarah said. "William and I are taking Billy and Susan to the Yankees game."

"Sarah," Castaway said, as he strode over and placed a hand on her shoulder. "I have long considered you the conscience of the Quarrymen. I must have you there. These gargoyles are dangerous, they are killers. We cannot allow the public to be misled."

"All right," Sarah said with a sigh. "I'll tell my husband to go without me."

"Splendid," Castaway said. "Now, please help me with the press release."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

The Eyrie Building

"And it was supposed to be a quiet evening," Angela said, disappointed at the news.

"Yeah, Castaway is describing it as a mass protest," Elisa said. "We're expecting a few dozen at most. But, you know Matt, it's all hands on deck to keep the peace."

"Fox and I already planned to attend with Alexander," Xanatos said as he paced through the Great Hall, hands clasped behind his back, and his usual smirk on his face. "But knowing you'll be there will put our minds at ease."

"And putting your mind at ease is why I get out of bed each day," Elisa said, then rolled her eyes.

"I'm more amused that Macbeth is playing himself," Lex said.

"There's typecasting and then there's, well, I don't know what I'd call it," Staghart added.

"Do you think he's up to something?" Broadway asked.

"Leave Macbeth be," Hudson said. "He's not caused us grief in a long time."

"Then tonight we will all attend the play," Goliath said.

"All of us?" Brooklyn asked. "What about Tachi?"

"Coldstone and Coldfire will remain here to take care of her," Goliath ordered. "I am not expecting too much danger, but I want us all there in case Castaway instigates violence."

"You just want an excuse for an evening of culture," Elisa said, as she wrapped her arm around his.

Goliath laughed for a moment, then spoke. "I admit that it is not often that we all take in the theater together."

"I think it sounds wonderful," Angela said. The rest of the clan nodded and spoke in agreement.

"Then let's go," Goliath said. He led them out of the Great Hall and up to the castle's ramparts, from where they all took wing over the city.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

On the lower east side of Manhattan, in one of the seedier parts of town, stood a run-down, boarded-up warehouse, right on the docks of the East River. Within the warehouse Piles of crates stood against one of its walls inside, but most of the warehouse was a spartan, empty space. This was Coldsteel's lair.

And, in the middle of the warehouse, Coldsteel was in the middle of assembling a large, steel box. One steel plate lay on the floor, while plates of equal size and dimension were being welded together by the robot. After about twenty minutes, he had finished, except for one plate yet to be welded, thus keeping the box unsealed.

Not too far away, Demona sat at a desk, reading the evening paper. Her pet beast, Hellhound, lay on the ground, at her side. She glanced over at the incomplete steel box and nodded her approval before returning to her paper.

"I don't understand, sister," Coldsteel said. "Why not just kill this Macbeth?"

"I have my reasons, brother," Demona replied, not glancing back his way. "I would prefer that he suffer."

"More than Detective Maza?" Coldsteel asked. "You must truly despise him."

"That isn't your concern," Demona growled. "I'll bring him back here, and then you will seal him away in that box."

"Yes," Coldsteel replied. "And then how about I fly the box out over the ocean and drop it?"

Demona's lips curled into a wicked smile at the thought. "Perhaps we can concoct an even worse fate for Detective Maza after we deal with Macbeth."

"I'm sure that devious mind of yours is bursting with ideas, sister," Coldsteel said as he double-checked his welding job.

Hellhound suddenly leaped to his feet and started growling. He ran towards a corner, and continued to bark. Demona got to her feet, newspaper still in hand, and ran after him, then slowly pulled him back.

"It's just rats, my pet. No need to spoil your appetite," she said. "We're going to the park tonight, and I'll find you a decent meal."

Demona then unrolled the paper, and held up a story in the Arts & Entertainment section announcing Lennox Macduff's starring role in Shakespeare In the Park. "What I wouldn't give to return to eleventh century Scotland and watch his kingdom burn in flames one more time."

But what Demona failed to notice, were the three rats scurrying away. One with black fur, another with silver fur, and the last with gold.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Central Park

The line stretched back for what looked like a mile, but couldn't be. People stood waiting in line for hours to see the free show. But even at a free show, money opens doors. Fox and David Xanatos soon arrived, bringing their son, Alexander, a three-year-old child that didn't look a day over five.

Xanatos looked back over the long line and smiled before he presented his pass to the usher and was escorted inside with his family.

On the other side of the path, two dozen Quarrymen stood, holding signs protesting the play. Some of them chanted beneath their hoods.

"Mr. Castaway?" Sarah asked, as she approached her hooded leader.

"No names," he replied. "Quarrymen must be anonymous."

Sarah nodded beneath her hood, and pointed at the line. Officer Tri Chung stood on it alongside his teenage cousin, Terry. "I know them," she said. "That's my friend Ambassador Chung's son and nephew. I don't understand how she can allow her child to watch this trash."

"It is a disgrace," Castaway said. He then pointed towards the Gargoyle Taskforce, which stood nearby monitoring them. "As is Detective Bluestone."

"Our tax dollars," Sarah said. "He should be hunting those beasts."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

"Hey, Detective," Officer Morgan said. "Isn't this a waste of the city's money?"

"This play is already courting controversy," Matt said. "Personally I think nailing Castaway to the wall would be worth it."

"No arguments here," Elisa said, as she sipped a cup of Dunkin Donuts' coffee. "All we need is for one of these idiots to act out."

"And I think this is a big fat waste of time and resources," Margot Yale sneered, as she held a hand-held fan pointed at her face. "And it's too damn hot out here!"

"Maybe you should go somewhere colder," Elisa muttered. "Like your bedroom."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Not too far up the path, three street thugs walked opposite the line of theater-goers, slowly casing out each and every one of them.

"Play ends at ten, and then we have our pick of the litter," the small, bald one said.

As they made their way through the crowd, they stopped at the sight of the Gargoyle Taskforce. "Hey, isn't that Maza?" the tall, dark-haired man asked.

"Looks like Christmas came early," the muscular bruiser said. "Payback is gonna be a bitch."

"I wish we could get her alone," the bald one said. "Then we could put her in a shallow grave."

The three thugs laughed to themselves, paying no attention to the three cats that sauntered past them. One black, one silver, and one gold.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

The gargoyles soared north, in formation, over Central Park. It wasn't too long before the Delacorte Theater came into view.

"I have a bad feeling about this," Lexington said. "Every time we come here, something weird happens."

"We're steering clear of Belvedere Castle, this time," Brooklyn said. "That place is a magnet for weirdness."

"The roof of the theater is large enough to accommodate us," Goliath said, as he pointed towards it. "And the trees should keep us hidden from the Quarrymen."

"All right, lads and lasses," Hudson said. "Let's enjoy the show."

One by one, each of the gargoyles alighted on top of the roof. Brooklyn and Broadway let Bronx and Fu-Dog go, and both beasts laid down.

"Everyone get comfortable," Brooklyn said. "But stay on alert."

Angela sat, Indian style, and leaned against Broadway as she looked down towards the stage. "Personally, I hope for a quiet evening."

"We're not that lucky," Broadway replied.

"I think all this Shakespeare stuff is boring," Gnash said, as he sat down, looking glum. "Couldn't he write English properly?"

Goliath sighed upon hearing that. But Brooklyn placed a hand on his leader's shoulder. "He'll grow to appreciate it."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Belvedere Castle

Demona soared in low, over the trees, carrying Hellhound in her arms. Belvedere Castle was deserted. She landed on the lower parapet, and released her pet. The beast stood at her side and growled.

"Patience, my pet," Demona said. She removed a dart gun from her belt and almost caressed it. "We shouldn't be here for very long.

She removed a pair of binoculars from her belt as well, and peered through them. Her eyes glowed red when she spotted the Manhattan Clan gathered on top of the Delacorte Theater.

Her gaze shifted towards the Quarrymen, and her lips curved into a smirk. "Now how to use those hooded fools as an appropriate distraction?"

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Lennox had just finished donning the brown tunic and blue cloak, when he stopped and looked at himself in a mirror. What colors did he usually wear when he was the actual king of Scotland? It had been so long, he had forgotten. More than that, with every passing decade, the color of Gruoch's eyes, the lilt of her voice evaporated, even further from his memory. He sighed wistfully.

He was brought out of his haze when Veronica patted him on the shoulder. "Turn around," she said. "Let's see."

Lennox smiled and complied. He turned away from the mirror, allowing Veronica to take him all in.

"Not bad," she said, then whistled a cat call. "Very handsome."

He took in her black gown, her red hair tied back in a bun, and smiled. This was probably the first time he had seen her not wearing a Star Wars t-shirt. "Not as fair a sight as you, my dear."

"You flatter me," she said. "I can't wait to see what you can really do."

Lennox couldn't help but laugh warmly. "Perhaps we could have dinner after the show?"

"I'd be delighted," she said, before taking her leave of him. She looked back over her shoulder, and grinned. "Rock my world tonight, and I just might rock yours."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Veronica continued her final inspection. The props were in place, the stagehands ready, and the cast assembled. Well, most of the cast.

"Where are my witches?" she asked. "Where are my three witches?"

A woman in blue make-up, a red wig, and costume wings, wearing a green gown, stepped up. "I haven't seen them in over an hour."

"This is the last thing I need," Veronica muttered, biting her lower lip. "Okay, any understudies ready?"

"There they are!" a man in brown make up, wings, and a crown said, pointing at three women in costume.

"Oh thank goodness," Veronica said. She approached the three witches and raised an eyebrow. "I don't know where you did your makeup, but fantastic," she said. She continued to inspect them. "And the different colored wigs are a nice touch. Wish I'd thought of it."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Goliath maintained his vigil, watching the Quarrymen through the trees. He snarled slightly as their chants continued.

"I think the show is starting," Angela whispered.

Goliath turned towards the stage, as the outdoor lights began to dim. A spotlight turned on, and shined on the stage as a tall, red-headed woman in a black gown stepped out from backstage, and sauntered towards the center.

"What a crowd," she said. "Thank you all for coming, for joining us tonight. I was honored to be chosen to direct this summer's production of 'Shakespeare In the Park', and I hope you all enjoy it. As most of you know, I decided to include a few current events in the show."

The audience applauded, and she flashed a grin. "One thousand years ago," she recited. "Superstition and the sword ruled. It was a time of darkness. It was a world of fear..."

"That's catchy," Brooklyn whispered, only to get shushed by Katana.

"It was the reign of Macbeth, King of Scotland!" Veronica waved to the crowd, basking in their applause, as she sauntered away, back stage.

The lights dimmed, and then in the middle of the stage, flames burst into the air. But the flames faded into smoke, and then the smoke faded, revealing three witches standing before a cauldron.

"Those pyrotechnics are really good," Broadway said, mouth agape.

Overhead, lightning illuminated the sky, and thunder roared through the night. But Goliath grew suspicious.

"When shall we three meet again," the silver-haired witch asked. "In thunder, lightning, or in rain?"

"When the hurlyburly's done," replied the raven-haired one. "When the battle's lost and won."

"That will be ere the set of sun," the golden haired one finished.

Goliath watched them, and growled. "No, it cannot be."

"Fair is foul, and foul is fair," all three witches chanted. "Hover through the fog and filthy air!"

Green energy exploded from their cauldron, firing up into the air, as a dense green fog coalesced throughout the entire theater.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Lennox poked his head through the curtain and watched as the spectacle unfolded. He gasped at the sight of the witches and his excitement was replaced with dread.

"Veronica!" he called. "Get the rest of the cast and evacuate, sound a fire alarm, we need to get out of here!"

"What are you talking about?" Veronica asked, raising an eyebrow suspiciously.

"Please," he said. "I know we've just met, but trust me. I will do whatever it takes to protect all of you."

But as he spoke, the green mist coalesced around them.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Goliath leaped to his feet and assumed a battle stance. His eyes blazed white, and his wings flared. "Fan out!" he ordered.

The gargoyles quickly took to the air, while the beasts jumped from the rooftop down to the ground below, and ran towards the stage.

Brooklyn, Katana, Hudson, and Nashville soared at Goliath's left flank, while Angela, Lexington, Broadway, and Staghart glided at his right.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Demona circled over the theater, high above the Manhattan Clan. Her eyes burned like embers as she spotted them converging on the stage. She looked towards the Quarrymen, gathered outside the theater, and smiled sadistically.

Like the Banshee, her battle-cry echoed through the night as she dove down, through the Manhttan Clan's formation, and swerved towards the Quarrymen's picket.

"It's Demona!" she heard Angela cry out. But she ignored her daughter, and swooped in front of the rally, roaring like a cougar.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Castaway fell backwards as Demona swooped in front of his gathering, mere feet above all of them. She then veered back towards the theater.

"The demon!" he shouted. He lifted up his hammer and activated it. "We cannot let her escape!"

"But, boss," Banquo shouted, as Castaway took off, after Demona.

"Hey, time to earn our pay," Fleance said as she and Banquo took off after him, followed by the other Quarrymen.

"Whatever it takes," Castaway shouted, his faux British accent slipping as his Scottish brogue emanated from his mouth, "I will follow the demon through the very gates of Hell!"

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Behind her tiara, as she heard John Castaway's shouting, Demona raised a brow with interest.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

"So much for a quiet evening," Matt said. He watched Castaway and the Quarrymen chase Demona back into the theater. "Okay, move!"

"What the hell is she doing?" Elisa muttered. She drew her gun as she and the rest of the Gargoyle Taskforce pursued them.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

"What is she doing?" Brooklyn growled as Demona came soaring back towards the stage, being chased by about twenty Quarrymen.

"Moany's crazy," Nashville replied. "I stopped asking two years ago." He then turned away, and drew his blade, diving towards Demona.

"Gnash, you can't fight Demona," Broadway cried.

"Away from her, lad!" Hudson called. "You'll be killed!"

"Better than watching a boring play!" Gnash growled.

"This is anything but boring!" Brooklyn cried as the green fog began to surround each of them, one by one.

Goliath looked right to left as one by one, each of the other gargoyles began vanishing into the fog. He looked down towards the auditorium floor and gasped as Elisa rushed in, as she too vanished into the fog.

But Goliath's concentration was broken as he heard the familiar growl of his former mate. Somehow, Demona had gotten above him, and dived directly into him, knocking him out of the air.

As they tumbled to the ground, Demona flipped Goliath over, mid air, wrapped both of her taloned hands around his throat, and began to squeeze. "I don't know what is happening here, Goliath," she said. Her eyes glowed red, and her voice dropped into a more menacing tone. "I did not come here for you. But I will not allow you to leave here alive!"

Goliath's eyes glowed white. As they hit the ground, he managed to wrestle her off of himself. He was quickly on his feet. The theater was empty. The Quarrymen had vanished. Even Demona was nowhere to be seen.

"What sorcery is this!" he growled. He turned towards the stage, and gritted his teeth as the three witches transformed into three younger-looking maidens, all clad in white gowns and blue robes.

"The Weird Sisters," he said. He roared as Seline, standing between her Sisters, smirked. "I will do whatever it takes to defeat you!"

As Goliath pounced towards them, everything in his field of vision vanished, replaced only by a blanket of green fog.

Goliath landed face first in a field of grass. He got to his feet and looked around. He was standing on what appeared to be Scottish highlands. He looked around; nothing but rolling hills for as far as his eye could see. The skyline of Manhattan had vanished.

"Where am I?" he asked. He suddenly noticed he was wearing a medival tunic, chainmail, and a sword hung at his belt. "What happened?"

To Be Continued...