- Into The Abyss -
The Demon's Husband, Part III
by Earl T. Allison II
Summary: The Hunter returns to Manhattan, but his Prey is now the Quarrymen,
especially John Castaway. But how can that be if Castaway and Canmore are one
and the same? Goliath and the other gargoyles must stop this new Hunter before
he succeeds, and dooms them all to a firestorm of renewed gargoyle hatred.
Disclaimer: The Gargoyles and their supporting cast are the copyrighted properties
of Disney, Buena Vista Entertainment, and Nelvana 1997. Any characters seen
here that are not a part of the Gargoyles universe are the sole property and
creation of the author. Any similarity to persons living or dead is purely
coincidental. If you would like to use any of my characters, please ask and
let me know what you want to do, I'll probably say OK.
Thanks to Goddess for the editing chores on this one, as well as to Wraith,
Gabriel, and everyone else in chat, for their encouragement! Thanks, guys!
"The more things change, the more they stay the same."
"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
This should be rated PG-13 for violence and language that you won't see on the
TV show. Forewarned is forearmed, so read on!
For a frame of reference, this occurs sometime after the episode, "The Journey",
and obviously after my previous fanfics, "Separation Anxiety" and "Broken Hearts"
The seven Quarrymen stealthily made their way through Central Park. It
was nearly dusk, and they had to move quickly if they were to be successful. Their
leader, John Castaway, had received an anonymous tip that a female gargoyle was
in Central Park, concealed among the shrubbery. If they could reach the
abomination before sunset, they could destroy it.
Gunnery Sergeant Thomas White squinted hard in the dim light, trying
to locate their quarry, The tip had been vague. The caller knew she was near
one of the pathways, but had been unable to be more specific, hanging up before
further details could be revealed. He remembered John's words to him when he
was dispatched on this mission, only scant hours ago.
"Thomas," he began. "I want you to lead some of our newer recruits
on this mission. It should be fairly straightforward and simple. I need you to
make sure they understand that they are making this city safe for humanity!"
John had been most specific, destroy the monster.
Thomas had accepted. Life after the military was quiet and uneventful.
After his early retirement at fifty, he had kept active and in shape, but something
seemed missing in his life. It had been purpose, a need to serve. Unlike many of
the other Quarrymen, who were raw recruits, he understood the motivations of the
group. Gargoyles were an evil monstrosity, an abomination that needed to be
When the offer to join had been extended, he accepted almost instantly.
He was able to submerge himself in familiar surroundings and put his talents to
use. Castaway had seen his talent immediately and put him to work preparing
the Quarrymen for their work.
Unlike Thomas and John, most recruits had little experience with weapons,
or with fighting of any kind. While a few were mercenaries or military men like
himself. most were yuppies or concerned citizens, with no real, practical skills.
Within a few weeks, Thomas had set up programs to ensure that all Quarrymen
that went into the field had some rudimentary combat ability. They would at least
be able to shoot straight, handle their weapons with some responsibility, and
possess some basic fighting skill. This would be the first real test of his program,
as all of the men and women with him were about to face their first gargoyle. He
hoped that ...
"Sir, over here! I've found her!" a male voice shouted.
Thomas snapped back to the present, looking for the source of the voice.
One of the men had found the gargoyle. He was pulling some brush away to reveal
the creature, a female gargoyle clad in a weathered halter and loin cloth. She was
adorned with jewelry as well, a tiara, earrings, an anklet, a coil of metal around one
bicep, and bracelets. She was frozen in a crouching position, as if hiding from the
very sun itself. Checking his watch quickly, he prepared himself.
"All right, people! Listen up, there's little time left until sunset. Donna,
would you like the honor of the kill?" he asked.
"Yes, sir!" a female voice answered. Donna Mitchell, housewife, hefted
her hammer and activated it, waiting for the head to charge fully. As she waited,
Sergeant White smiled to himself. Donna was one of his best trainees. She had
joined the Quarrymen to protect her three children from the monstrous gargoyle
threat. After two weeks, she had shown tremendous promise, diligently working
to make herself a useful member of the group. As the hammer's whine reached a
fever pitch, indicating a full charge, Donna readied herself.
In one fluid motion, Donna brought the fully charged hammer down hard
on the stone gargoyle. At the same instant, Thomas thought he noticed an almost
imperceptible seam along the side of the gargoyle, as if it was a casting of some
kind. Before he could stop her, the hammer shattered the stone form, sending
As the last rays of sunlight faded over the horizon and the sky darkened,
nothing happened. The Quarrymen looked around, waiting for a potential response
from other gargoyles, but none came.
As Thomas inspected the debris, he could find nothing to indicate that this
had been a fake. Maybe he had imagined it, his old eyes playing tricks in the light.
Donna's hammer was still humming with power as she stepped forward, holding
the head of her prey high.
"I did it! I got ..."
Her celebration was cut short as a pencil-thin beam of red light flashed
towards her, slicing through the hammer. With a loud clanging, the severed head
clattered to the ground, with Donna still holding the handle.
Before anyone could react, three more beams streaked out from the
darkness, shattering the lights around the cluster of Quarrymen and leaving
them in darkness. Some of them panicked, drawing weapons and firing blindly
into the night, while others charged their hammers or looked to Sergeant White
"Hold your fire!" he ordered. "Everyone activate your night vision
lenses, and just calm down." Even as he spoke, he was scanning the tree line
for the attacker. In a few moments, the others were joining him, thanks to the
special lenses built into their helmets. Given the fact that gargoyles were only
active at night, it seemed a wise addition to their arsenal.
Forming a protective circle, weapons facing out, he called out into the
night. "Show yourself! Only a coward strikes from hiding!" He was hoping to
get some idea of where his opponent, or opponents, were hiding.
A shadowy figure, still partially concealed by branches and shadow, came
into view. It spoke, and the voice was deep, obviously male, and possessed of a
heavy Scottish accent. "Aye, lads. Coward, am I? Yuir the ones that ha' attacked
a helpless foe, not I!"
As Thomas turned to get a better look at his attacker, two of his men
opened fire, blasting away at the shadowy figure. The attacker seemed to simply
disappear, fading back into shadow as the pair advanced, still firing.
"Damn it, hold your fire!" Thomas ordered. As the two lowered their
weapons and turned back towards the group, the figure returned. With a single
motion he appeared behind the pair, knocking their heads together, rendering
both unconscious with a single blow.
As they fell, another of the men advanced, charging his hammer and
swinging it threateningly. As he attacked, the figure simply ducked under the
deadly arc of the hammer, ramming his fist into the man's solar plexus. As the
air whooshed out of the Quarryman, and the hammer fell from senseless fingers,
another blow, this one to the jaw, sent him to join his two friends.
The figure then looked to the remaining four Quarrymen. Details were
visible now, the man was about six feet tall, had an athletic build, and was clad
in some kind of body armor. The armor was red and black, with thick shoulder
guards and a lot of padding. The man's face was obscured by a mask of some
sort, all black, with eyeholes, and three red streaks running diagonally across
the face. Aside from several small pouches, he had a gun of some sort on his
belt and a mace hanging from a loop beneath it. He was also wearing a curious
medallion or amulet of some sort, perhaps a ruby, but too small to discern from
where he was.
He spoke again, this time in a mocking, condescending tone. "Well,
I'm no helpless gargoyle. Come on, then."
As the group prepared to attack, he rushed them, leaping into their
midst. Using his bare hands, the man began to wreak havoc. Thomas watched
with nearly professional admiration as the man dispatched his squad. He couldn't
risk shooting, and with the throng of bodies involved in the melee, nor could be
use his hammer effectively. It seemed that his men knew that too, and they were
at a serious disadvantage. None of them were good hand-to-hand combatants,
and this man seemed to be extremely proficient in several forms of unarmed
One of the women fell to the ground, unconscious. The figure apparently
had a good working knowledge of pressure points, and was putting it to good use.
Another Quarryman attempted to take him from behind, but the man whirled on
An expertly delivered savate kick from the masked man dispatched the
Quarryman as the remainder, now only two and their leader, tried to surround
him. Reaching into a pouch, the man withdrew a small item and tossed it to
one of the Quarrymen, who caught it out of reflex.
The item, a small flash bomb, detonated almost instantly, turning
night into brightest day for a split-second. Blinking desperately to regain his
vision, Thomas could hear the sounds of fighting continue, and then, silence.
As his vision began to clear, he could see the man standing before him, and
strewn about his feet was the entire squad, unmoving except to breathe.
"So much for yuir Quarrymen." he taunted.
Thomas, his vision now clear, spoke. "Why did you spare me?"
"I want you to take a message to John Castaway."
"All right," he started, tightening his grip on his hammer. "What
message shall I ..." he then charged the hammer and attacked, hoping to catch
the man off-guard. Swinging low, he attempted to sweep his legs out from under
The figure merely sidestepped the attack, and grabbed the hammer just
under the head. The two men struggled a moment before the Quarryman had the
weapon torn from his grasp. The man merely tossed the weapon aside, laughing.
He then grabbed the Quarryman leader, lifting him off the ground with
childish ease. "I trust I have yuir attention, laddie?"
A silent nod was Thomas' only response.
"Tell yuir leader that I am the Hunter. I will na tolerate him or his
murderous vendettas against the gargoyles. Tell him that I will be coming for
With that final, ominous threat, the Hunter dropped Thomas and faded
into the darkness. Before the man could even think of giving chase, a light shined
on him. It was the police.
At Castle Wyvern, Hudson and some of the others were watching the
evening news on television. The elder gargoyle was settled into his chair, with
Bronx curled up at his feet. The trio was with him, watching "Nightwatch".
"Good evening. I'm Travis Marshall, and this is 'Nightwatch'. Police
report an unusual attack in Central Park this evening ..."
"Gee, a mugging in Central Park? Who'd have thought?" Brooklyn
said sarcastically, a wide grin on his beak.
"Shhh!" Lexington hissed. "I want to hear this."
"...report that the victims were Quarrymen, seven in all. Although
no serious injuries were reported, the fragments of a shattered gargoyle were
also at the scene. Police refused to speculate on the possible identity of the
attacker or attackers, and John Castaway, suspected leader of the Quarrymen,
was also unavailable for comment."
Hudson shut the television off, looking concerned. "I think Goliath
should know about this. Brooklyn, why don't you go fetch him?"
"Right," he responded. "You think something's up?"
"I think that we're likely to get blamed for this. The Quarrymen already
have most humans thinking the worst of us, and this attack will only make it
worse. Where's Angela?"
Broadway answered quickly. "She went to see Mark again. Said he
had more stuff to tell her about Demona." Broadway wasn't too thrilled.
None of the others cared much for Demona, but she was Angela's mother
and Mark's wife, so no one pressed the issue. Mark was the only one who
was comfortable telling Angela about her.
Brooklyn made his way through the hallways to the library to see
Goliath always marveled at the literature that humans conceived.
It allowed him to experience things he would otherwise have never dreamed
of. It was a shame that most humans couldn't show the same creativity and
openness with gargoyles, but that would change, someday. He heard a sound
behind him, and turned around to see Elisa.
"Elisa, it is good to see you!" he said, setting the book he was reading
down on a table.
With that, the form of Elisa Maza blurred momentarily and divided into
three identical images of the detective, one with hair of deepest ebony, one with
tresses of the brightest blonde, and the third with hair of the palest white.
"The Weird Sisters!" Goliath exclaimed. "What do you want here, and
why are you posing as Elisa?"
"Peace, Goliath. We come only to give you a warning. We felt this
form most appropriate for you. Goliath, the balance has shifted. The Guardian
has abandoned his post."
"I do not understand. What Guardian? What balance? Wait ..."
They spoke again, as cryptic as ever. "The cycle begins again, Goliath.
You must end the loop before it brings great tragedy to all."
Their message delivered, the three sisters changed back into their true
selves, women of incredible beauty clad in long, flowing white garments. One
gestured slightly, and the three disappeared in a flash of light.
As Brooklyn entered the library, he could see Goliath talking to the
Weird Sisters. As he came closer, he saw them disappear.
"Goliath! Something's happened in Central Park!"
The lavender gargoyle turned to face his second. "What? Brooklyn,
what has happened? Is Elisa all right?"
"Elisa? I dunno, she wasn't mentioned. Look, Goliath, some
Quarrymen were attacked in Central Park. They also said pieces of a gargoyle
were found there, but who could it be? We were all here until sunset, and Demona
doesn't turn to stone anymore. What did the Sisters want?"
Goliath sighed before answering. "I do not know what they wanted. All
they told me was 'the balance has shifted', and that 'the Guardian has abandoned
his post.' I do not know what they meant. Who was behind the attack in Central
"They didn't say." Brooklyn replied. "Hudson wanted me to get you.
He says this is gonna make us look really bad."
Goliath nodded quietly. "Yes, Brooklyn. It will. The Quarrymen will
no doubt blame us for what happened, and relay that belief to the people. Come,
we must speak to the others."
Elisa had just finished getting the information from Matt. Detective
Bluestone had been one of the officers that had interrogated the lead Quarryman,
and although the man's story was vague, the costume he described sent an icy
shudder up Elisa'a spine. It could be only one man, the Hunter. One thing was
bothering her, though. Why would Canmore attack his own men? It could be a
plot to publicly discredit the gargoyles even further, but it was a long way to go
for a public opinion boost.
Even worse, it seemed that Castaway, the identity that Canmore had
been using, was involved with another pre-taped television interview at the time
of the alleged attack. That gave him an airtight alibi. But if it wasn't him, then
who could it be? She wanted to talk to Goliath about this, and to a few others as
She had a short list of suspects, all of them with ample motive to attack
the Quarrymen. Demona's hatred of the group was a big motivation, but since the
attack lasted until *after* sunset, and the attacker had been described as a human
male, Demona couldn't have been personally involved. She could have hired
someone, perhaps, but the attacker wasn't her. MacBeth and Mark Flyer were
the only other suspects she had. Both men had fought the Hunters before. MacBeth
had even used the identity recently, when Demona cast her spell of Stone on
Manhattan. Mark also despised the Canmores. She remembered how close he
had come to killing the three siblings at St. Damien's Cathedral, and the hatred
in his eyes even after she had convinced him to let them live. Her instincts told
her that at least one of the three had either committed the attack personally, or
knew who did.
Angela returned to the castle, alighting gracefully in the courtyard.
She could see the others talking in the Main Hall, looking very serious. Goliath
looked up at her approach.
"Angela! Come here, there is something we need to discuss."
The young gargoyle nodded and walked towards them. "What's wrong,
Father? You look upset."
The lavender gargoyle's expression didn't lighten at his daughter's
approach. "Angela, some Quarrymen were attacked tonight, in Central Park.
The news reports say that a female gargoyle fitting Demona's description was
destroyed there as well."
A look of shock and horror crossed Angela's face. "No! She can't be
dead! Mother's immortal!"
Hudson stepped forward to speak. "She's right, lad. It's simple enough
to check. I can check with MacBeth himself. If one shares the other's pain ..."
"MacBeth's fine. I checked with Matt." said a female voice from behind
Everyone turned to see Elisa stepping out of the elevator. "I radioed Matt
and asked him to check up on MacBeth, just in case. Whatever that was in the
park, it wasn't Demona." she finished.
"Elisa, how serious was the attack?" Goliath asked after embracing her.
"Not bad, I mean, no one was really hurt. No broken bones, no one
was shot. The scary thing is that this guy did it with his bare hands. He took
on seven Quarrymen, and won. From the description, this guy used about
eight different kinds of martial arts. Not your everyday mugger-type, that's
for sure. Worse, he even had a Scottish accent."
"Only his bare hands?" Brooklyn asked, clearly impressed.
"Actually, we picked up the remnants of some kind of flash bomb,
and the guy allegedly used some kind of beam weapon to knock out some lights,
but he didn't use any weapons on the Quarrymen. I also checked on Mark. The
hotel says he went out for a few hours in the morning, came back, and hasn't left
his suite since."
"Is there anything we can do?" Goliath asked.
"Not right now. In fact, considering who was attacked, you guys might
want to lay low for a while. Besides, you haven't heard the worst of it yet."
"What do you mean, Elisa?"
"Goliath, I didn't want to have to tell you this, not after all you've been
through, but the attacker was described as ... the Hunter."
All of the gargoyles looked stunned at the revelation.
"But how ... ?" Goliath started.
Elisa shook her head. "We don't know anything yet, Goliath. We're
going to do everything we can to stop this guy, before the city goes up like a
bonfire. People are tense, scared. This isn't going to help things along."
"We could step up patrols," Brooklyn suggested. "Maybe we'll get
lucky and catch the guy."
"No, Brooklyn. Elisa is right. We must stay out of sight for a while."
Elisa turned to leave. She shouted to them as she left. "I'll see you
tomorrow night! Please be careful!"
As the detective walked down the hallway to the elevator, a small
camera followed her until she moved out of its' range.
Seated in a lavish office was David Xanatos, industrialist. Standing
beside him was his personal assistant, Owen Burnett. Both had watched the
entire exchange intently. Xanatos has taken the gargoyles in recently, but
that hadn't meant accepting things blindly. He was always one to keep
apprised of situations, and this one promised to be interesting.
"Well, Owen, what do you make of that?" he asked, gesturing
to the screen on the far wall.
"Most concerning, actually." Owen said. Although his words
spoke caution, his expression was unreadable. Nothing, no matter how
unexpected or shocking, ever got any visible reaction.
"Explain." Xanatos said calmly, steepling his hands.
"The detective is quite correct in her assumptions. From certain
.... feelings I have had recently, the attacker can be only one of three individuals;
Demona, Mark Flyer, or MacBeth."
Xanatos looked stunned. "Feelings, Owen?"
Owen sighed quietly. "Yes, Mister Xanatos, feelings. Specifically, a
sensation I have not felt for nearly five-hundred years. Have you heard of
"The evil sorceress that wanted to destroy Camelot?"
"The same, sir. She was, and still is, one of the Third Race. Specifically,
she is one of the more adept of us with magical artifacts. Her creation rivaled the
Phoenix Gate and Eye of Odin for sheer power and potential for misuse."
"I'm sure this is a fascinating story, Owen, but is there a point?"
Xanatos asked, looking impatient.
"Of course, Mister Xanatos. The item in question was the Heart
of Morgan, a magical amulet of great power. It granted the wearer total
immunity to all Faerie magic, regardless of the source. While powerful,
it was of limited use to most. None of the Third Race could use it,
because the item also prevented them from using their own powers.
Humans and gargoyles could use it, but since the item only granted immunity
to Faerie magic, they still found themselves vulnerable to more mundane effects.
But the Three are another story entirely. With their immortality, this item could
make them incredibly powerful."
"I don't see how, Owen. Wouldn't the amulet cancel out the spell of
"No, sir. It has no effect on preexisting spells, only on anything directed
at the wearer while he or she has the item. You, of course, see my point, I
"Yes, Owen, I do. Kill Mark, Demona, or MacBeth, and they simply
rise again, ready to continue fighting. The Weird Sisters were the only ones
who stopped Demona months ago, when she cast her spell of stone on Manhattan.
With that amulet, nothing could stop her, or any of them. Do you know who has
"Regrettably, no. The last time I sensed it was, as I said, some five-
hundred years ago, in England. Since then, nothing, nothing until last night.
Since all Three are in the general area, it could be any one of them, sir."
"I see. Well, I guess we'll just have to wait."
It was about nine-thirty, and Mark was settling down to catch up on
the day's news. A knock at his door stirred him from his routine.
"Who is it?" he called.
"It's me, Elisa. We need to talk, Mark."
"Come in, door's open" he replied, getting up.
The door opened, and Elisa came in, a serious expression on her face.
"I assume you heard the news?"
"About the Quarrymen, yes." He smiled before continuing. "In my
opinion, they got exactly what they deserved."
"I'm glad you find this amusing, because it's only going to make things
worse for Goliath and the others. The front desk says that you were here all night,
is that correct?"
Mark looked surprised. "Elisa, if I didn't know better, I'd say you thought
I was a suspect!"
She sighed slightly. "Mark, you are a suspect. I know how much you
hate the Quarrymen. There aren't too many people around who know enough
about the gargoyles to take a grudge with the Quarrymen that far."
"Elisa, if I wanted the Quarrymen stopped, then I would kill them, plain
"You can't be serious! How can you set yourself up as judge, jury, and
executioner like that? In all the time I've known you ..."
"But you don't know me, Elisa, not really. How could I do such a thing?
Very easily. There was a time when all justice was that simple. Don't get too fond
of law and order, after all, it was the same law and order that put many to death in
old Salem Village. Who could forget the incarceration of Japanese-Americans
during World War II? That was legal, too. Don't preach to me about human
laws and justice, Elisa. They don't work."
She looked shocked. "Mark, what are you saying?"
"I'm saying that you humans will find any excuse to kill each other.
Land, skin color, religion, money, power, anything is enough to turn you against
each other. Do you really think that humanity will ever accept gargoyles? You
can't possibly be that stupid!"
Elisa was momentarily stunned. "You, you can't mean that."
Mark's expression, which had become angry and cold, softened. "I'm
sorry, Elisa. I didn't mean to blow up at you like that. This whole thing makes
me angry. I can see the same cycles repeating over and over throughout the
centuries. It's as if humanity never learns a damn thing."
Elisa came over to him, taking his hand gently. "This must all remind
you of your son."
"Yes, it was the same kind of narrow-minded hatred that killed him."
Mark shook his head. "I can't let it happen again, Elisa. No matter the cost,
no matter what it takes, I won't let another gargoyle die needlessly."
"It's not your fight, Mark. Let the law handle it."
"All right, Elisa. I'll do it your way, for now." Mark looked tired,
not the sort of tired that required sleep, but exhaustion of the soul. It seemed
that he had just experienced too much for one man to take.
Elisa smiled, kissed him on the cheek, and headed out. She hoped
Mark would really listen to her, and that he wasn't just humoring her. Still,
she couldn't help thinking that there was something he wasn't telling her.
Anger like that was usually a long time in coming.
"But Goliath, we can't just stay locked away up here forever!" Brooklyn
"I do not intend for us to." Goliath replied. "You, Lexington, and Broadway
will stay together on patrol tomorrow night. Hudson, Angela and I shall do likewise.
We will keep Bronx here to guard the castle."
"But I was going to see Mark tomorrow night." Angela said, looking a
"You can see him after our patrol." the lavender gargoyle said. He then
smiled. "Mark has gotten along without you for centuries. I'm sure he will survive
a few hours."
Angela smiled back. "I'm sorry, Father. You're right, of course."
"Aye, lass," Hudson said. "Now that we're all in agreement, it's nearly
The seven gargoyles took up positions just inside the castle, turning to
stone as the first rays of sunlight peeked out over the horizon.
John Castaway paced his office angrily. Someone had dared to attack
his Quarrymen, setting them up last night in Central Park. That someone would
pay dearly, he swore. Unfortunately, he still didn't know who it was. He had a
short list of suspects, but most had been otherwise occupied at the time of the
The Demon wouldn't have bothered with such subtlety, he was sure.
His brother, Jason, was still in the hospital because of the injuries those
abominations caused, and would likely never walk again, so he was also
an unlikely assailant. Robyn was still serving a brief prison sentence, so she
too was innocent. That only left MacBeth and Mark Flyer as the most probable
This suspicion was further reinforced by the statue used to set the trap.
It had been a visage of the Demon herself. Only a few people had ever seen her,
fewer still were still alive to remember her. The false Hunter obviously knew
who Castaway was.
He himself never knew who MacBeth was, until a pair of new recruits
offered some very ... interesting information. Mark was married to the monster,
a traitor to his entire race. It had to be one of the two.
Unfortunately, he couldn't simply attack private citizens. Gargoyles were
one thing, as long a they were thought of as monsters, the police tended to turn a
blind eye, but people would be another matter entirely. As much as he hated to,
he would have to wait for a better opportunity.
"Any luck, partner?" Matt called out cheerfully as Elisa waited for him
to get into the Fairlane.
"Nothing. Mark's alibi stood up so far. You?"
"We couldn't get anything more out of the Quarrymen we picked up.
Thomas White, the leader, wasn't telling us anything. What did the gargoyles
have to say?"
Elisa shrugged. "What else? They're concerned, and with good reason.
Whether this Hunter is trying to help or not, he's just going to make things worse.
I'll talk to Demona and MacBeth today. Maybe they can shed some light on this."
"Demona?" Matt asked. "Are you sure that's a good idea? As I recall,
you and she don't work and play well together."
"Maybe not, but I don't think she's going to risk anything by attacking
me. We may not have been able to implicate her or Nightstone in the virus
incident, but she certainly doesn't need more scrutiny from the police or the
media. As long as I make it clear that I only want information on the Hunter,
and I only see her in the daytime, I should be fine."
Detective Bluestone shrugged. "Okay partner, your choice. What do
you want me to do?"
"You're in the Illuminati now, and I trust you a lot more than Xanatos,
do you think they might have something?"
"They might. I mean, I doubt that much goes on without their knowing
about it, but I'm pretty low on the totem pole ..."
"Can you try?"
Matt laughed. "Sure. Can do, partner." He shook his head.
"Remember when you told me that you didn't believe in secret societies?
Now you're asking me to shake them down for information!"
Elisa flashed a sly smile. "I also said I didn't believe in flying
saucers or the Loch Ness monster. Remind me to tell you about my trip
to Avalon sometime."
"Avalon? This, I gotta hear."
Elisa's red Ford Fairlane pulled up just outside the Nightstone
Unlimited building. It was an imposing structure, almost a modern-day
castle of glass and steel. Checking her watch, she noted that it was almost
noon. With some luck, she would catch Demona still in her office. Mentally
preparing herself for the worst, she walked in, heading to the receptionist's
The woman looked up at her approach. She was an older blonde,
just starting to gray. She was wearing a pair of glasses and a smart blue business
suit. "Can I help you?"
"Yes, I'd like to speak to Ms. Destine, please." Elisa reasoned that there
was no need to flash her badge, not yet.
"Do you have an appointment?" she asked pleasantly.
"No, but we're ... old friends. Just tell her that Elisa Maza is here."
"Very well, one moment, please." She then turned and picked up her
phone. "Yes, Rhonda? There's a Miss Elisa Maza here for Ms. Destine. She
says she's an old friend." She waited a moment, and continued. "Send her up?
Very well. Good-bye." She then hung up the phone.
Pointing, she started to give Elisa directions. "Just take that elevator
to the top. When you get out, take the long corridor to the left. Rhonda will
show you in."
Elisa nodded. "Thanks." Privately, she was surprised. She expected
Demona to let her in eventually, but she had expected more of a fight. Maybe
Demona was learning to interact with humans after all. Stepping into the
elevator, she couldn't shake the uneasy feeling that she was walking into
the lion's den.
As the elevator ascended rapidly, slowing to a halt, she prepared
herself mentally. Talking to Demona wasn't going to be easy, but it had to
be done. The doors opened silently, and Elisa exited the elevator, walking
to her left. Sure enough, there was another receptionist, presumably Rhonda.
Rhonda was a fiery redhead, dressed as neatly as the woman in the
lobby. As Elisa approached, she looked up from her paperwork. "You must
be Miss Maza. Please go right in, she's expecting you."
Taking a deep breath, Elisa steeled herself and opened the door.
Demona's office was quite simply breathtaking! Done in marble, and with
antique furniture, it must have cost a small fortune. It was also set up in
a specific manner.
Demona's desk was set in front of a row of wall-length windows,
on a raised marble dais. The way it was set up, people addressing her not
only had to look up, but the sun was shining right behind the desk, making
it difficult to see her. Clearly, the entire office had been designed to
intimidate. Somehow it suited her, Demona always fought to win, presumably
in business as well as war.
Dominique Destine descended from her modern-day throne, walking
across the room towards Elisa. Smiling evilly, she noted Elisa's reaction to
"Do you like it, detective? The architects who designed this were quite
good. It would seem that you humans have your uses, after all."
Elisa frowned. Demona was deliberately trying to bait her. "I just
want to talk."
"I assumed as much. What could be so important that you would
come to me?" she purred, looking for all the world like a cat with a cornered
"You heard about the Quarrymen?" Elisa asked.
Demona grinned again. "Oh, yes. How ... unfortunate, for them."
"Did you have anything to do with it?"
Demona laughed. "My, aren't we forward. No beating around
the bush? Oh, I am surprised."
"Just answer the question, yes or no." Elisa growled. She was getting
annoyed with this game.
"Very well," she sighed. "No. I wish I had thought of it, but I didn't.
Why do you care? No one was seriously hurt."
"Don't you see? This will only hurt the gargoyles, including Angela!
Everyone will blame them, and it will put the Quarrymen one step closer to
becoming completely accepted."
Demona's green eyes narrowed slightly. "I see your point, but why
come here? You know I wasn't the attacker."
"No, but you might have hired someone. You might also have a fair
idea of who *was* responsible."
She shook her head. "No, human, I don't. Despite what you and the
others may think, I want the best for Angela. Goliath and I merely disagree
on how to best ensure her safety. The Quarrymen are a nuisance, nothing
Elisa scrutinized the ensorcelled gargoyle carefully. Demona was
the type to speak soothingly and convincingly while she stabbed you. Something
in her words made Elisa believe her, though. Demona wasn't full of the venom
and hatred she usually demonstrated. Aside from the minor verbal shots she'd
made, Demona seemed sincere.
"All right. That's enough, for now." Elisa said. "I'll show myself
"Very well. Elisa?"
"Yes?" She was astonished, Demona had actually called her by name!
"Tell Angela ... tell her that I love her very much."
Elisa looked back, and for a moment, she thought she saw a glimmer
of hope in the woman's eyes. "Sure," Elisa said. "I'll tell her."
As the detective left, Demona sat down, swiveling her chair to look
out over the city. She had managed to lie to the detective. Oh, yes, she had
a *very* good idea who was behind the attack. She only prayed that she was
wrong, for Angela's sake.
An hour later, she found herself sitting comfortably with MacBeth,
sipping tea. The man had been a total gentleman, showing her every courtesy.
Elisa hadn't been so quick to accuse MacBeth. After all, the man had publicly
spoken on the behalf of gargoyles. He had come a long way from the man who
attacked the clan at the castle some two years ago.
"Now, Detective, surely you didn't drive out here so I could bend your
ear with tales of yore. It's the attack, isn't it?" he said pleasantly.
Elisa nodded quietly. "I know for a fact that you used the Hunter
identity before, and the Quarrymen who were attacked say their assailant had
a Scottish accent."
"True enough, lass, but my days of revenge are behind me, thanks to
you and Goliath." He shook his head solemnly before continuing. "I meant
what I said to the Sisters, I *am* tired of it all. I have no wish to walk that
"Do you think Demona was involved?" Elisa asked.
MacBeth scrutinized her. "Come now, lass. Demona has ne'er
shown such mercy to her foe. D'you really believe she is involved?"
Elisa looked down at the cup in her hands, watching her reflection
in the tea. "No," she said quietly. "But if it isn't you or Demona ..."
"Aye, Detective, we both know who it must be, don't we?"
Hacker waited impatiently outside the police station. Nothing ever
changed, he thought to himself. Matt was never on time, not when they
were with the Bureau, and not now that he was a detective. Even before
Matt had been inducted into the Illuminati, he had been assigned to watch
him, to keep him chasing red herrings.
All that had changed when Matt discovered the Hotel Cabal. Although
a minor piece of the puzzle, Matt's discovery of it and its' curator, Mace Malone,
had been enough to impress the higher echelon. Matt had been inducted, and was
now part of a global secret society so vast that none outside perhaps a dozen men
knew the full scope.
He had anticipated Matt's request for information on the mysterious
attacker that had fought the Quarrymen, and so had his superiors. Within four
hours they had sent him a large dossier, with explicit instructions to give it to
Matt Bluestone. It was nearly dark before the large redheaded man approached
"It's about time, Matt. What kept you?" Hacker asked.
"Some of us have jobs to do, you know. We can't all play mind games
with people." he retorted, smiling. "Is that the stuff?" he asked, gesturing towards
the thick folder.
Hacker nodded. "Yup, for your eyes only. Read it, and destroy it."
"My eyes? Don't you know what it says?"
"I'm not on the 'need to know' list, Matt. Oh, one more thing."
"What is it?" he asked, eagerly reaching for the folder.
"This person *has* to be stopped. It's vital to the organization, as well
as to your gargoyle friends."
"So why don't you guys take care of him? Can't you just kill him?" Matt
asked again. He didn't want the man dead, but the whole thing seemed odd. The
Illuminati had always removed obstacles from their path before, why did they need
"I don't know. When I asked, it was made clear that everything you need
to know is in the report. Somehow, the Illuminati can't touch this guy." Hacker
then handed the folder over to Matt. "Remember, your eyes only."
"Yeah, yeah, I got it." he said absently, leafing through the folder.
Privately, he was worried. What kind of man could be beyond the reach of
the Illuminati? His eyes widened when he looked at the first page of the report.
"No! It can't be!"
As the sun sank over the horizon, seven stone forms stirred, coming to
life. Shaking the stone shards free and greeting the night with their customary
roars, the gargoyles descended from the walls of Castle Wyvern. Goliath looked
around eagerly, hoping that Elisa would be here waiting.
"Okay guys, let's get ready to go!" Brooklyn said, addressing Lexington
and Broadway. Both nodded in agreement, following their rookery brother to the
"Wait, Brooklyn." Goliath rumbled. "Remember what we discussed.
No unnecessary risks and no foolish heroics. Agreed?"
A smile crossed Brooklyn's beak. "No problem, Goliath. Once around
the city, and home. Hey, you and the others be careful too."
With that, the trio took off into the night sky, soaring on currents of air.
"I hope Broadway will be careful." Angela said, watching him fade into
Hudson placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry, lass.
Those three will be fine. Well then, shall we be off?"
"Yes, old friend, let us go as well." Goliath replied. He then took Angela's
arm, escorting her to the edge of the castle. Looking back, he addressed Bronx, who
was whining, clearly unhappy with the notion of staying behind. "Stay and guard
the castle, Bronx!"
The massive guard dog gargoyle looked pleadingly at the others for a
moment, then plodded dutifully back inside. Goliath and the others took wing,
gliding towards Central Park.
John Castaway was in his office, on the phone with one of his field leaders.
"I don't care *how* long it takes. I want this 'Hunter' found and eliminated! Is that
After a few seconds, he hung the phone up. Sitting at his desk, he went
over his reports again. With Quarrymen contacts throughout the entire city,
including the police force, it had been easy to "acquire" a copy of the police
report. Thumbing through it, he still had no answers. The report was at best,
sketchy. All he knew was that the man knew several forms of unarmed combat,
had access to high-tech weapons, and had an ax to grind with his Quarrymen.
What the report didn't say was that the man knew a great deal more
than anyone should. It was possible that the Hunter costume was coincidence,
but that was highly unlikely. Clearly this man, or his employer, knew who John
Castaway *really* was.
He was so engrossed in his report that he didn't notice the small red dot
climbing up his shoulder.
As Brooklyn and the others quietly soared overhead, a flicker of light
from a nearby rooftop attracted their attention.
"What's that?" Broadway asked, angling back for another look.
"Dunno, too far away to make anything out." Brooklyn replied. "Lex,
can you see anything?"
The littlest gargoyle was already squinting towards the direction of the
flicker. "I think someone is on the roof!" he exclaimed. "Do we check it out?"
Brooklyn nodded. "Goliath would, so should we. Follow me, guys."
The three gargoyles swooped low over the rooftops, closing in on their
The Hunter had set himself up across from John Castaway's office,
waiting for the right moment to strike. Laying flat on the roof, he watched
his target through a sniper scope attached to an M-16. An underslung laser
sight would ensure that he only needed one shot. Gently thumbing the safety off
and setting the rifle to single shot mode, he lined up his target, bringing the red
dot of the laser sight to rest on Castaway's temple. His finger tensed. One shot,
and it would finally be over. Without Castaway, the Quarrymen would fall apart,
and the gargoyles would be safe. He could finally rest. Just as he was about to
squeeze the trigger, a huge shape loomed up in his sights.
As he looked up to see what could be blocking his view, a lanky red
gargoyle snatched the gun from his hands. With almost childish ease, the
gargoyle snapped the gun in half, and casually shoved the Hunter back into
the arms of another of the creatures.
"He's all yours, Broadway!" the gargoyle said. Before the Hunter
could get his bearings, two powerful, dark green arms wrapped tightly around
his torso, pinning his arms to his sides. "No problem, Brooklyn," the gargoyle,
presumably Broadway, said. "He isn't going anywhere!"
The red gargoyle, Brooklyn, spoke again. "Okay, jerk! Who are you,
and what are you doing here?"
"Fools! This does nae concern you!" the Hunter spat angrily, struggling.
"Uh, yeah, right." Brooklyn replied. Looking away, he addressed a
third gargoyle, who was peering into the night. "What's up, Lex?"
"I think that's what he was aiming at." the small gargoyle said,
pointing. "It's Castaway, in his office."
While the gargoyles were distracted, the Hunter spoke again.
"You gargoyles never learn, do you? Strength is nothing without leverage!"
He then planted his feet firmly, twisted, and slipped free of Broadway's grasp.
Turning, he grabbed one of the gargoyle's arms and sent him sprawling with
a judo throw.
As the stocky gargoyle fell hard, crashing into the roof, the other
two whirled on him, eyes glowing angrily. Brooklyn roared a challenge
and rushed the man. Calmly standing his ground, the Hunter grabbed the
young gargoyle's horns and sent him flying, using his own momentum
against him. The final gargoyle, Lexington, watched carefully, looking
for an opening. Without warning, he sprung, tackling the Hunter around
the midsection and holding tight.
"Impressive, Lexington," the Hunter said. "If you ha' the strength
of the others, you would ha' stopped me." He then dislodged the small
gargoyle with a mild jolt from a lightning gun holstered at his waist.
Momentarily stunned, Lexington tried to stand.
At the same moment, Brooklyn rushed the Hunter from behind,
knocking the gun from his hand. Before the young gargoyle could strike
again, he was tossed into Lexington, and the two fell in a heap. Before
they could rise, the man fired another gun. In moments the three gargoyles
were trapped under an electrified net similar to the ones MacBeth used the
first time they met.
"I've reduced the charge significantly. I dinnae want to hurt you,
but I canna have you interferin'. The current will cut off in two minutes,
which should be enough time for me to get away!" As he finished speaking,
he snatched up his gun and leapt over the side of the roof. By the time the
trio could safely remove the net, there was no sign of him.
"Oh, great. Goliath's gonna love this." Brooklyn said. "I don't get
it, why would he dress up like the Hunter, but leave us alone?"
"Because he isn't really the Hunter, and he wasn't after us." Lex
said, examining the net. "He was going to shoot Castaway, and he knew
who we were. Did you guys see his gun?"
"Yeah," Broadway answered. "Just like MacBeth's."
"Or Mark's." Brooklyn finished. "I just hope the others are having
better luck than us. Let's get back to the castle."
The three winged shapes jumped off the rooftop, and headed back
to the castle.
As the trio returned to the castle, they could see that Goliath and
Hudson were waiting for them. Landing, Brooklyn walked over to Goliath,
head bowed slightly.
"Brooklyn? What happened?" Goliath asked, looking concerned.
"We ah, well, we lost him." Brooklyn admitted. Both Lexington
and Broadway looked downcast at that. "We tried, but he just had us outclassed.
I don't know who he was, but it's like he fought gargoyles before."
The lavender gargoyle looked down at his second. "It's not your fault,
"Where's Angie?" Broadway asked, looking around.
"Where do ya think, lad? She's visitin' her stepfather." Hudson
Angela landed softly on the terrace. Since the lights were on, she
assumed he was home. After all, that was the signal they had worked out.
Hearing a sound inside, she walked in. It was coming from the bathroom.
Since the door was wide open, she peered in cautiously, to see Mark pulling
a shirt on. Such behavior was normal, of course, but the large bruises on his
ribs were not. She then watched as he put a small amulet with a red jewel
into a small metal box and closed it. He then turned around and noticed
"Angela! It's good to see you!" he said, embracing her and kissing
her cheek gently.
She hugged him back, more gently than usual, considering his ribs.
Mark noticed immediately.
"What's wrong, kiddo? Don't you love your stepfather anymore?"
"No, it's just ... well I saw ..." she said, trying to be tactful.
"The bruises? Don't worry about them. They'll be healed in an
hour or so. I got them convincing some less-than-honorable youths that I
wanted to keep my money."
"You were mugged?" she asked.
"Not really. As the saying goes, you should see the other guys. I
sent them packing." He smiled at her. "You sound worried."
Angela smiled back, flushing a little. "Of course I do! You and
Father and the others look out for me, so it seems only fair to be concerned
"Thank you, but you know I'd be all right, no matter what happened."
"What's in the box?" she asked, gesturing towards the small metal
container she saw earlier.
"That? Oh, just some old junk." he answered.
"Can I see it?"
Mark looked at her a moment, saw her hopeful expression, and
relented. Opening the box, he pulled out the amulet and handed it to her.
Turning it over in her hand, she scrutinized it carefully. The long
metal chain seemed to be made of iron, but the stone itself was magnificent!
It was blood red in color, mounted on a golden disc. The border of the disc
was inscribed with bizarre sigils of a type she barely recognized. They were
"What is this?" she asked again. "These characters look like things
we saw on Avalon!"
"I don't really know, Angela. It was a gift from a woman many
"Mother?" she asked, hope swelling in her.
"No, someone else. Someone who I haven't seen in a long, long time."
Mark put the item back into the box and shut it.
Angela noticed his expression. "You don't want to talk about it, do you?"
"Not really, Angela."
She nodded quietly. "All right. Mark?"
"Has Elisa told you about the attack last night?"
"You mean the Hunter?"
Angela nodded quietly.
"Yes, Elisa told me. Don't worry, Angela. I won't let anything happen
"I'm not worried about myself, but what if he should attack Mother, or
Mark gently kissed her on the forehead. "I'll survive, like I always have.
Don't worry about Demona, either. From what Elisa said, this man is after the
Quarrymen, and I wish him the best of luck."
"Mark, please don't say that. I know you don't mean it." she said.
"Angela, you just don't understand. You're young, sheltered, and you
just don't see what's going on. Not all people are as altruistic as Elisa, most
humans hate anything different. The Quarrymen are the worst examples of
humanity. They would destroy you simply because you exist."
"But they don't understand what we are. They aren't evil, just ignorant."
"Enough of them do know. Angela, humans fight and prey on each other
constantly. That has never changed, even after gargoyles faded into obscurity.
Even if they were educated, do you really think they would accept you? Some
might, yes, but most wouldn't."
"Mark, I think I should go." Angela said, turning to leave, tears in her
eyes. "I'll come back when you aren't so angry ..."
"Angela, wait." Mark said, putting a hand on her shoulder hesitantly.
The young gargoyle stopped, turning back to look at him, visibly upset.
"Angela, I want you to remember something. No matter what happens,
I will *always* love you, understand?"
She nodded, hugging him tightly. He held her close for a moment
before letting her go. Standing on the terrace, he watched her glide back to her
home atop the Eyrie Building.
Angela landed softly in the stone courtyard of the castle. She wished
Mark had told her what was bothering him. Something had certainly gotten him
angry, but what? Seeing Brooklyn and Broadway talking with Goliath, she decided
to join them.
As she approached, Goliath looked up and saw her. "Angela, the trio
encountered the Hunter tonight. It seems that his quarrel may be with Castaway
"How do you know that?" she asked.
"Because he nearly gave the guy a terminal case of lead poisoning."
Quickly, Angela was filled in on the trio's encounter. Her eyes widened
as she heard about the fight. It felt as if her blood had become like ice in her
veins. Surely the Hunter couldn't be Mark! Looking up at her father, she spoke.
"Goliath, we need to talk ..."
"You're *sure* this information is genuine?" Elisa asked, looking the
Illuminati report over again. No matter how many times she read it, she
couldn't believe what she was seeing.
"Why would they lie?" Matt asked. "I've been over it a dozen times.
The Illuminati is convinced that Mark Flyer is the Hunter, and that he's some
kind of immortal!"
Elisa sighed, hoping she wouldn't regret what she was about to tell
him. "Matt, he, he is immortal. He told me so himself a few months ago."
Matt's eyes widened. "What? Just how many little secrets do you
have?" he asked in amazement.
Elisa smiled at him. "That's pretty much the end of them, except
for the Avalon trip. Still, have you read all this? Some of it is amazing!"
Matt handed her another thick batch of papers. "You haven't read
the best part. This might explain why he attacked the Quarrymen. It's a
damn shame I can't use any of this, we could bust the whole group right
Elisa took the new stack of reports and bean to read. She was
astounded by what she was seeing! Apparently the Illuminati had known
about him since 1073, the year he and Demona had built Unity Keep.
They had been content to merely keep tabs on the immortal for quite
some time, observing quietly and gathering information. She was relieved
to see that the Illuminati was aware only that Mark was possessed of
immortality, and knew nothing of the conditions of how he acquired
Their first official contact with him came in Scotland in 1365.
Mark had wandered much of Europe, searching for Demona. It seemed
that he was not the only one who had lost track of her, as the Illuminati
themselves made no mention of her whereabouts. Mark had been offered
a high-ranking position within the secretive society, and had been one of
the few to reject the invitation.
The reports went on to say that another effort was made in 1780,
in Great Britain. Again, membership was offered and refused. By this
time, Mark had been deemed a serious threat to the organization. In the
four-hundred years since they had first spoken with him, the immortal had
been quietly gathering his own information on the Illuminati, enough to
know more about them than any non-member to date.
While the official recommendation was to leave matters as they
were, things took a turn for the worse in 1923, when a lower-echelon
member, eager to enhance him own reputation, attempted to kidnap Mark
to learn the secrets of his immortality. The act cost over fifty members their
lives when the immortal "refused" to remain at their facility. Elisa winced
Unlike most threats to the organization, Mark posed an entirely
new problem. He couldn't simply be killed to ensure silence, and he had
twice refused membership. They could attempt to reveal his immortality
to the world, since he would very likely end up in some laboratory somewhere
if such facts were made public, but this would have a severe price. It was
estimated that, by 1923, Mark had acquired intimate knowledge of the
membership and locations of at least 15% of the Illuminati, and could deal
them a severe blow in retribution.
It went on to say that the power of the Illuminati rested largely with
the organization's secrecy. While powerful men and women were what gave
them their strength, the fact that these people enjoyed total secrecy to assist
the organization added to it. If Mark revealed what he knew, the group
would be crippled, and it would take hundreds of years to rebuild
A third offer of membership was offered in 1924, largely to
smooth over relations. While the offer was refused, a compromise was
reached, one that allowed both parties to continue their own agendas
without interruption. Since conflict would be costly to both sides, regardless
of who won, a truce was called. The Illuminati would leave Mark alone,
completely. They would not interfere with him, directly or indirectly,
which tended to protect anyone he associated with. In return, Mark would
keep whatever information he possessed of the Illuminati private.
Things went smoothly after that, even with Mark's arrival in
Manhattan back in 1996. Despite Xanatos' Illuminati membership, his
clash with the immortal was not deemed a violation of the truce. The
only potential problem the report noted made Elisa's eyes widen.
She read the passage over and over, not believing it.
'Illuminati funding for the Quarrymen project may have violated
the pact formed in 1924 with the man currently known as Mark Flyer.
There is no suggested course of action at present.' It seemed like the
Quarrymen were being bankrolled by the Illuminati!
This clinched things, considering the targets of the Hunter's
attacks, and this new information from the report, Mark *had* to be
Elisa shut the report quickly, which attracted Matt's attention.
"Hard to believe, isn't it?" he said. "All this information, and
we can't use, or prove, any of it."
The detective nodded quietly. "All this talk about secret
societies, I just can't ..."
"Take it easy, partner. Maybe we can still reach him, before
it gets worse." Matt said, trying to reassure Elisa. Personally, he doubted
it. If Mark wanted to carry out his vendetta, it was going to be tough to
stop him without somehow getting the gargoyles involved. Even then,
there were no guarantees.
"Matt, I have to take this Goliath and the others, soon." Elisa
"Yeah, I kinda figured that. Still, it'll be daylight soon, will
you have time?" Matt asked.
"Not tonight, no, but I have to be there tomorrow night, right
when they wake up." Elisa replied.
"Are you going to try and stop him?"
"No, not alone. This anger has been a long time coming.
Goliath told me how angry he was when everyone thought I was
dead. Whatever Mark's been holding back, it's eating away at him,
probably has been for centuries."
"How do you figure that?"
"It's all he talks about lately. When the Quarrymen first
appeared, he tried to live with it, to wait for it to die down, but it
never did. He told me how humanity is always fighting, how we
never change. Mark's seen so much of the worst in humanity over
the centuries, I think he's forgotten the good. Maybe I can get some
John Castaway paced the floor of his office angrily. His
agents had been unable to tell him anything about the Hunter. Even
more unsettling was the broken rifle found on a nearby rooftop. The
sniper sight on it seemed to imply that *someone* had tried to kill
Just then his phone rang. Picking up the receiver, he snapped
at the caller. "Yes? Who is it?"
"Now, John, is that any way to talk to an old friend?" the voice
answered. It was male, and possessed of a Scottish accent!
"Who the hell are you?" John demanded. Quickly, he typed a
few commands on the computer nearby. If he could keep this person
on the phone long enough ...
"Don't bother tryin' to trace me, lad. I'm nae stupid, I've
relayed this through enough other lines to keep you searchin' for
John frowned angrily. "What do you want?"
"I want to end this, once and for all. Meet me where you took
everything from me, at what's left of the old Cathedral. Come alone."
"All right, I'll be there. When?" John replied. He had no intention
of coming alone, but there was no reason to tell this man that.
"Tomorrow, just before sunset. I would nae want any gargoyles
interfering. You can understand that, can't ye, Jon Canmore?" The signal
went dead as the Hunter hung up the receiver.
John's eyes widened. Whoever it was, they knew everything about
him. Still, he now had a time and place. Soon, very soon, and he would
remove this nuisance. Then the Demon and all her abominable kind would
Mark hung the receiver up quietly. Two paths had laid before him
for centuries, the open hand and the sword. He had tried, truly tried to
embrace peace, to gently nudge humanity towards peaceful coexistence
with gargoyles. He had failed, and that failure had cost him his child, his
wife, virtually everything he touched. The grass-roots movement of the
Quarrymen had proven that humanity simply seemed incapable of tolerance.
The sword was the only option left. If humanity could not police itself, then
he would do it for them.
He could see the rays of the sun just starting to creep over the horizon,
and smiled slightly. If all went well, the next time the gargoyles awakened,
they would be safe. Without Castaway, Jon Canmore's new identity, the
Quarrymen would fall into disarray. If they persisted, they would join their
leader, and be destroyed.
Mark clenched his fists angrily at the thought. He would see to
it that no other gargoyle died because of them, no matter the cost!
Elisa had likely figured things out by now. He was surprised that
she hadn't brought the gargoyles here already. After all, he knew that Matt
had received a report from the Illuminati, and he had a pretty good idea what
that report said. It didn't really matter, since the Illuminati would be dealt
with soon anyway. Bankrolling the Quarrymen had been their last mistake.
Half-hearted attempts like using the Hotel Cabal to capture Goliath had been
easy enough to ignore, but nearly inciting a race war was not!
He changed and settled in to get some sleep. Soon his plans would
be set in motion, and he would have revenge on all who had hurt him.
Elisa had ultimately decided to ignore her own advice, pulling up
to the Manhattan Arms hotel. It was nearly five in the afternoon, almost
one hour until sunset. Maybe, just maybe, she could reach Mark, stop him
from making a terrible mistake.
Racing through the lobby, she passed Peter, one of the regular
employees, and ducked into the private elevator. Pressing the single button
inside, she waited as the doors slid shut.
When they re-opened, she walked down the corridor to Mark's
private suite, and knocked at the door. There was no answer.
"Mark? Are you here?" she asked, straining to hear any sound
from within. There was no reply, no sound at all. That was odd, she
had called the hotel, and they said he had never left. It was just like
the attack two nights ago, Mark had allegedly never left his suite.
Frowning, she checked the door, and found it unlocked. Of
course it would be unlocked, most people never even got to see this
door. He had his own private elevator, and the only other people who ever
came in (besides the gargoyles) was the hotel staff. She remembered Mark
commenting that he rarely locked the door just for that reason.
As she opened the door, she looked around carefully. Nothing.
Almost everything was in the usual place, except for a large sheet of what
looked to be parchment on the table. Walking over to it, she picked the
parchment up and looked it over. Her eyes widened as she read what was
written on it.
Printed in neat black ink was a list. It read:
Jon's name had a red mark through it, and there were smaller
notations in the margin that made mention of other reports. Presumably
it referred to other sources of information on these individuals.
She then noticed a small manila envelope, addressed to Mark,
but with no return address. It was already open. Her curiosity aroused,
she pulled the contents out.
There were several photos inside. Flipping through the pictures,
she noted that they were all of Dominique Destine, and apparently taken
without her knowledge. From the vantage points of them, they appeared
to be surveillance photographs! Someone had been tailing Demona in her
human form, apparently in and around the Nightstone Building! Each
photo had small crosshairs drawn over her head, probably to show just
how easy it would have been to kill her. The photos had likely come from
Castaway, but there was no way to prove that. This was probably just a
way to bait Mark, and it seemed to have worked far better than expected.
Looking around, her eyes narrowed as she saw his bookcase.
Pulling out the worn Shakespeare tome, she stood back as the secret
door slid away. Walking into his vault, Elisa looked the room over
carefully. When Mark had shown this to the gargoyles, she had paid
special attention to the placement of items. That action was rewarded
as she noted that certain objects were missing.
She noted that Mark's copy of the Grimorum Arcanorum was
missing, as was the steel broadsword he kept on one wall. This was bad,
it meant that Mark was probably planning to use them on the Quarrymen!
Just then, the phone rang. The sudden noise caused her to jump,
and her heart to race. She waited for the phone to stop, and the answering
machine to switch on. The voice she heard startled her almost as much as
the message it relayed.
"Detective Maza, I assume you are there now, searching for Mister
Flyer. If you are, please pick up the phone. I have some news that you
may find of interest."
It was Owen's voice! Somehow, he knew she would come here.
She quickly snatched up the receiver and answered.
"Owen? Hello? Are you still there?" She could feel her heart
pounding in her chest as she awaited a response.
Finally, Xanatos' assistant responded. "Detective, please come
to the castle immediately. It may not yet be too late to stop your friend."
Elisa slammed the phone down and ran to the door.
The large figure stood atop Castle Wyvern, looking the stone
gargoyles over. Dressed in heavy red and black body armor, he made
an imposing figure. It was the Hunter!
Reaching up, the Hunter removed his mask, to reveal the face
of Mark Flyer. Tucking the mask into his belt, he reached out and brushed
Angela's stone cheek lovingly.
"Remember that I will always love you, Angela." he whispered
gently. "You and the others deserve the right to live in peace, and I'll see
to it that you get that chance, no matter the cost."
"Owen! How long has he been there?" Xanatos demanded.
They were in David's office, watching the exchange over one of the video
"Approximately fifteen minutes, sir." came the calm response.
Xanatos looked pensive for a moment before answering. "Why
didn't security detect him? And why didn't you stop him?" he finally
Owen looked back at his employer. "I suspect he has used some
sort of equipment to avoid our systems, sir. As to why I did not attempt
to restrain Mister Flyer, that answer is twofold. First, you see the amulet
"The Heart of Morgan." Xanatos said. It wasn't a question, but
a statement of fact. Everything began to make sense now.
"Exactly, I cannot affect him while he possesses it. Further,
Mister Flyer will likely not view young Alexander as a threat for another
ten years or more, if then. Since Oberon has decreed that I may only use
my powers to defend or instruct Alex, neither exception would seem to
apply." Owen continued.
"Yes, sir. Mark will likely need that time to shatter the Quarrymen
and the Illuminati. Both tasks will take considerable effort."
"But why?" Xanatos asked curiously.
"I have known Mister Flyer for some time, and the roots of his anger
stretch back through many centuries. It is an anger that will not easily be
quelled if he fully gives himself over to it."
"And what do you propose we do about it?"
"Nothing, sir. The solution does not involve us. However, I have
contacted Detective Maza, and she is on her way."
David Xanatos smiled. "As always, Owen, you have things well
in hand. I'm sorry I ever doubted you."
"Of course, sir. Thank you, Mister Xanatos."
Elisa raced up the castle stairs, to reach the gargoyles. Owen
had told her that Mark was here, and briefly explained things to her.
The Heart of Morgan made it impossible for Owen to interfere, even if
he had wanted to.
Oberon's spell ensured that Owen could become Puck only to
safeguard or instruct Alex, and Mark's presence alone was insufficient
to fill either provision of the spell. He wasn't currently a threat to the
child, unless he managed to turn public opinion against gargoyles to
the point that the Xanatos family came under assault, nor was he attacking
the child directly.
As she exited the stairs, emerging outside the castle, she could
see Mark standing before the stone gargoyles. It looked like he was talking
She decided to make her presence known. "Mark, she won't forgive
you for this."
Mark barely moved. His body tensed slightly, but he didn't turn
around. "It doesn't matter, she'll be safe. They all will." he said, indicating
the rest of the clan.
Elisa walked over to him, putting a hand on his armored shoulder.
"Don't do this, please. You'll only make it worse, you know that. Killing
Castaway won't solve anything. Let the law handle it."
Mark laughed grimly. "Grow up, Eilsa. You know that isn't true."
"Meaning what?" Elisa said angrily. "Damn it, Mark! I'm sick
and tired of this! What the hell happened to you?" she demanded, whirling
Mark's eyes met hers, and they locked gazes. "I woke up, Elisa.
Why won't you? Take a good look around you, humanity, for all it's
vaunted society and laws, has learned nothing."
"That's not true ..." Elisa shot back.
"Isn't it? What do you *do* for a living, Elisa? You see what
goes on. You try to preserve order in a world that has supposedly
become civilized. Has it?" he asked.
Then, before she could respond, he continued. "No, nothing
has changed. Humans still fight one another over the slightest difference.
Each other! You humans can't even live together in peace, and you want
me to let humans sort out their problems with the gargoyles? I will not
let it happen again! For nine hundred years I played your game. I tried
to let humanity learn and grow, I let things be, and look at what it has
cost me! I've lost my wife, my child, my home, everything I touch! No
more! If humanity wants a war, then I'll show them how it's done!"
Elisa merely looked back, stunned. "Mark, you can't do this.
Think of Angela. She'll hate you for what you've done."
Mark's response was cold, but direct. "At least she'll be alive
to hate me."
"You're becoming just like Demona. Are you listening to
yourself?" Elisa replied.
Mark laughed again. "Like Demona? Hardly. For the first
time in centuries, my eyes are open! You think Demona hates humanity?
That she hates you? Her own clan? There's one person she hates more
than anyone, Elisa. Herself. She doesn't realize it on a conscious level,
but she blames herself for what happened to her clan. She lashed out at
the most convenient target, humanity, and has been fighting them ever
"Mark, after all the times she's tried to kill me, or Goliath, you
can't believe that."
"She tried, but she never succeeded, did she? Don't you think
that after one thousand years, she would have had some success in
destroying humanity, however minor? Demona won't admit the truth, not
even to herself, she's not ready to accept that yet. She hamstrings her
own plots, holds herself back somehow."
"All right, then. Why are you doing this, then? If Demona is
just deluding herself, then why not help her, and leave Castaway and
his Quarrymen alone?" Elisa asked.
"Have you ever heard the saying; 'Just because you're paranoid
doesn't mean they're not out to get you'? Demona was right, Elisa. All
these years, and she was right! Until humanity can deal with it's own
problems, I sure as hell don't hold out any hope that they will be able to
accept gargoyles. I don't intend to wait until after they've destroyed a few
more clans of gargoyles before they learn, either."
Elisa glanced at her watch. If she could only keep him here a little
longer, the gargoyles would awaken. Maybe he would listen to them, if not
Mark pulled the mask over his face with determination. "There will
always be a Hunter, Elisa."
No! He was leaving! Moving in front of the doorway to the castle,
Elisa drew her revolver. "Please don't make me use this, Mark." she pleaded.
Mark simply turned and walked to the castle wall. The sound of a
hammer being cocked, presumably from Elisa's gun, rang out. "Go ahead
and shoot me, Elisa." he said. "Kill me if that's what you want, because
that's the only thing that will stop me."
As Elisa lowered her gun, Mark vaulted over the side. In seconds,
he soared off atop a small hovering platform reminiscent of the one Goliath
described being used by one of Xanatos' MacBeth robots. She couldn't
shoot him, not like this. Her heart sank as the figure faded in the distance.
He could be going anywhere in Manhattan.
"All right! Everyone on board!" Castaway shouted.
At his command, a host of Quarrymen, some of the most experienced
on his roster, filed into the three helicopters waiting on the landing pads atop
Sleek and deadly, these vehicles were bristling with weapons and
heavy armor, fitting chariots for the Quarrymen cause.
John pulled his mask down, turned smartly on his heel, and hauled
himself into the lead ship. As soon as he was aboard, the rotors roared to
life, and the three airships lifted off, flying off in tight formation.
"Damn!" Elisa cursed, waiting for the sun to set. Maybe the
gargoyles could be of some help. Maybe one of them could figure out
where he was going.
Owen's voice startled her. "Can I be of assistance, Detective?"
Elisa nearly jumped out of fright. Damn, but Owen was quiet
when he wanted to be! Determined to save face, she tried not to let her
shock show. "I don't know, Owen. I don't know what to do, where he's
"Perhaps this information may be of use. Three heavily armed
helicopters with Quarrymen markings are headed towards the remnants
of St. Damien's Cathedral."
"The Cathedral!" Elisa exclaimed. "Of course, where he lost
Demona!" She continued, in a quieter voice. "And where I stopped
him from killing Jon ..."
Xanatos walked out to speak to Elisa and Owen. "I can always
dispatch a few Steel Clan robots to follow Mark. He did, after all, use
one of my designs for his newest vehicle. It shouldn't be all that hard
Elisa shook her head. "No, this is something we have to do,
the clan and me. Thank you, Xanatos, but ..."
He merely held up his hand to silence her. "No need for an
apology, Detective. I understand completely. Mark would probably
be less than open-minded right now, and you're not really sure if you
can trust me. Don't worry, the gargoyles will be awake soon."
Mark smiled under his mask. He had known that Castaway
couldn't be trusted to honor an agreement. Good, he thought to himself.
That only made things easier. If these paltry humans wanted a war, than
he would show them how a war was waged. Perhaps then he would see
if they possessed the strength of their convictions.
Flying low, he had avoided the triad of helicopters and arrived
at the Cathedral first. Carefully concealing his hovercraft, Mark gathered
up the items he needed and slipped into the structure. Casting one last glance
at the sky, he noted that there was little time until sunset, perhaps a half-hour at
A few minutes later, all three helicopters touched down lightly just
outside the Cathedral. Approximately thirty Quarrymen exited the vehicles
before they ascended back into the sky and headed back to base.
Castaway stepped forward, brandishing his hammer. "You all know
your assignments, so let's get to it! Alpha Team is with me, Beta Team reports
to Thomas, and Charlie Team will report to Greg. Remember your orders, I
want this man brought to me, alive if possible. And remember, everyone
stays in radio contact, understood?"
A brief murmur of acknowledgment erupted from the crowd.
Mark watched from the shadows, chuckling silently. The fools!
They had no concept of how to fight like this. Their lesson would be brief,
but painful. He carefully opened a large satchel at his waist, sliding the
Grimorum out and opening it to the page he needed.
As one of the groups passed his hiding place, he stepped into view
behind them, holding the book open with one hand and raising his other hand
With the spell completed, a green aura surrounded Mark's raised hand,
and he pointed to his foes.
The Quarrymen whirled as bolts of eldritch lightning raked their ranks.
Then the screaming started.
Thomas heard the screams from his position deeper within the
Cathedral. Damn it! Somehow the Hunter had gotten behind them!
Charging his hammer, he turned towards the screaming, which abruptly
"Come on! This way!" he yelled, charging down the corridor
with the rest of Beta Team in tow.
The sight that greeted them was nothing short of horrifying.
Every member of Charlie Team was lying on the ground, unmoving
except to breathe. Thomas crouched by one of the bodies, looking it
over. He was amazed to find small burn marks on the costume, as if
from some massive energy discharge.
His instincts screaming a warning, he stood up, looking for
his unseen foe. "All right, circular formation, weapons out!" he
Instantly, the Quarrymen complied, charging their hammers
and readying particle beam pistols. Forming a small circle around their
fallen brethren, the vigilantes scanned the room for their foe. Unseen by
all, a lone figure dropped into their midst and lashed out.
Hearing the noise, one of the Quarrymen turned and saw the
Hunter land within their circle. "Look out, he's here!" the man called
out, readying his weapon.
The Hunter struck with brutal precision, felling the Quarryman
with a single blow to the head. As one went down, the others surged in,
swinging their hammers angrily.
Another Quarryman fell, knocked backwards into a wall with a
vicious roundhouse kick that broke ribs. Still another was rendered
unconscious with a sharp blow to the neck. Screaming in rage, another
Quarrymen brought his hammer down with terrific force, trying to cave
the Hunter's skull in.
Expertly, Mark sidestepped the blow, grabbing the man's right
arm. He then wrenched the limb up and back, hard. The snapping of
bone was clearly audible through the fracas as the man screamed in
agony. Mercifully, he lapsed into unconsciousness almost immediately.
Picking up the hammer, Mark charged it. As the head crackled
with power, he slammed it into the arm of another of his foes, shattering
every bone in the Quarryman's arm. As the man went down, Mark
discarded the weapon.
As men fell all around him, Thomas tried to contact Castaway.
"This is Beta Leader to Alpha Leader, over!" he reported. "Subject
located at ..."
John Canmore shifted his hammer from hand to hand nervously.
Where the hell was he? This Hunter, no, he corrected himself, Flyer,
had wanted to meet him, but there was no sign of him. Could he have
seen the helicopters and retreated? Suddenly, he received part of
"Say again, Thomas," he replied, abandoning protocol. "Message
incomplete, say again." he repeated. Nothing, the line was dead, he was
only receiving static.
"The Hunter is here!" Castaway announced angrily. His men
perked up, charging their weapons and readying themselves.
Mark was hardly even winded. The few injuries he had suffered,
largely stray shots from the Quarrymen while they were firing wildly, had
completely healed. Only the burns on his costume betrayed the fact that
he had even been hit.
Looking around, he admired his handiwork. Twenty Quarrymen
down. Sorcery made things so much easier, he mused. Much easier than
hand-to-hand fighting, faster certainly, but less satisfying. He was slowing
down in his old age, though. That last batch of ten had taken nearly fifteen
seconds to eliminate. In the old days ... he shook his head. There was time
for reminiscing later. Right now, he had a job to finish. Gathering up the
Grimorum, he tucked it back into his satchel, and headed deeper into the
Elisa waited with anticipation as the sun disappeared from view,
and the gargoyles awakened. With a roar and a scattering of stone skin,
each gargoyle greeted the night as he or she dismounted from their
Goliath's smile upon seeing his human love faded when he
saw the concern etched in her face. "Elisa, what is wrong?" he asked,
his voice tinged with concern.
"Oh, Goliath! The Hunter, it's ..."
"Mark," he finished quietly, embracing her. "I know, Elisa.
Angela discovered that last night, but it was too close to dawn to be able
to tell you." The other gargoyles crowded around the pair, trying to offer
some kind of support.
"It's worse than that!" Elisa continued. "He's going after Castaway,
tonight! Owen said there were Quarrymen choppers headed towards the
Cathedral. He also said Mark had some kind of amulet to protect him from Faerie
magic. We have to stop him!"
"The amulet you described earlier?" Goliath asked, looking at Angela.
The young gargoyle merely nodded silently.
"Did I miss something?" Elisa asked.
"Angela has told us what happened last night when she visited Mark Flyer.
She mentioned an amulet with Fae writings on it. Mark has learned from Demona's
defeat, his amulet must protect him from the Weird Sisters."
"Which explains why they asked you to help them!" Brooklyn exclaimed.
"Yes, somehow, we must find a way to end the cycle of vengeance, tonight,
before Mark Flyer's actions destroy us all." Goliath said.
"How?" Elisa asked. "He told me that the only way to stop him was to
kill him. How can you stop him?"
Goliath shook his head sadly. "I don't know, Elisa. Mark's wounds
apparently ran deeper than any of us realized. It would seem that he never
got over the death of his child, that he merely buried that pain deep, and let
it fester. Losing Demona for a second time, reliving the anti-gargoyle hatreds
that lead to the loss of his son, it must have brought all that pain to the
"Goliath, we have to stop him." Brooklyn said. "If we don't, Mark's
intentions, good or not, are gonna get us all killed!"
"Take it easy, lad." Hudson said, putting a hand on Brooklyn's
shoulder. "Goliath's right. No matter how much we want to help, Mark
isn't going to listen to reason. Right, Goliath?"
The lavender gargoyle nodded. "Yes, when I wanted to kill the
Hunters, that was *all* that mattered." He put an arm around Angela
and smiled at her. "I was concerned for my daughter, and that was more
important than anything. I cannot even begin to imagine the horrors that
Mark has seen, or what he feels he is preventing now. Nonetheless, we
will go to him."
"What about Mother?" Angela asked. "He might listen to her."
Brooklyn frowned. "Yeah, right. Even if we knew where to
find her at night, how could we trust her?"
"That is enough, Brooklyn." Goliath said. He then looked back
at Angela. "We cannot enlist her help, Angela. Brooklyn is right, we
don't know where she is."
Elisa spoke up. "Asking Demona is a bad idea. She would
probably encourage him. Besides, it's largely his concern for her, and
for you, that prompted all of this. Seeing her again could make things
even worse, especially if Castaway sees her."
Angela looked away, hurt by Elisa's words. No matter what
Elisa said, she knew in her heart that her mother could reform, and
that she loved Mark still.
"Take it easy, Angela." Broadway said reassuringly. "We'll
get through to him, I promise."
Angela smiled weakly. She knew that her love was only trying
to comfort her, but she appreciated the effort. "Thanks, Broadway."
Owen walked into their midst, carrying a small device that
resembled an electronic compass, complete with LED display. "I believe
this may be of some use," he said, handing the device to Lexington.
"What's it tracking?" Lexington asked, scrutinizing the device.
"Mister Flyer's vehicle. Since it was a Xanatos design, and
currently the only one in service to our knowledge, it should lead you
to him. Mister Xanatos felt that it was the least he could do." Owen
"The very least." Brooklyn muttered.
"No, Brooklyn," Elisa said. "I asked him to keep out of
this. Don't blame Xanatos."
The young second hung his head slightly. "Sorry."
"Come, let us go to the Cathedral." Goliath said, gathering
Elisa in his arms. "Tell Xanatos that we appreciate his help." he said
"And I'll be stayin' to guard the castle, lad." Hudson said,
patting Bronx lovingly.
"Very well, old friend." Goliath answered.
The five gargoyles, accompanied by one human, swooped
off into the night.
As Hudson watched them glide away, he turned to Bronx.
"Stay and guard the castle, boy. I have someone I must see."
As Bronx whined and paced at the castle wall, Hudson leapt
off the tower and headed upstate. He hoped that this last option would
work. If it didn't, there would be dark days ahead for them all ...
The doors to the inner chamber, where Demona had once nearly
destroyed humanity, fairly exploded off their hinges. The pair of Quarrymen
nearest to the doors were thrown across the room. Both hit the wall with
considerable force, and slumped to the ground.
The Hunter strode in, one hand held high. As the rest of the
Quarrymen moved to protectively shield their leader, he spoke.
The bursts of magical energy scattered the Quarrymen like
leaves in a whirlwind, tossing them around like rag dolls. In seconds,
it was over. All of Castaway's team lay unconscious around him. Oddly
enough, he himself was untouched.
Castaway braced himself for a magical attack. To his surprise,
the Hunter merely closed the arcane tome and placed it to one side. The
loud boom it made when it was shut was further enhanced by the echoing
quality of the empty halls.
The Hunter spoke, the Scottish accent from earlier now completely
gone. "You should feel honored, John. I haven't used sorcery in over three
"You're no sorcerer!" Castaway spat angrily. "And how dare you
sully that uniform!"
The Hunter laughed, echoes booming throughout the chamber.
"True enough, I'm no sorcerer, but destructive magics take so little practice
to master ... not like the spell that imprisoned the gargoyles. No, magic on
that scale is well beyond me. Destruction is easy, but creation ... that's
entirely different. Why, even *you* could handle that minor spell, if
you had a mind to." He then looked down at his uniform in mock surprise.
"This? Why, John, I thought you of all people would appreciate it!"
Now that the Hunter was standing in full light, Castaway could see
every little detail. The uniform was an exact replica of the one Jason had
once worn, albeit a little smaller, since Mark wasn't as large.
A large satchel was at his waist, presumably where that damned
magic book had been hidden. Slightly below that was the lightning gun
that he had before. He wore a strange amulet around his neck, with a large
red stone in the center. He also had a sheathed sword at his waist, on his
"Damn you!" Castaway hissed. "You aren't fit to wear that uniform!"
he roared, charging his hammer angrily. Powerful arcs of electricity began to
play across the head of the weapon.
"You should have stayed away, Canmore," Mark said menacingly.
"Did you really think that a name change and accent would fool me? Elisa
had convinced me to let you live, despite my personal misgivings. I was even
willing to overlook your little Quarrymen movement, even with your choice
of financial ... partners, but you had to persist, didn't you?" Mark drew his
sword, the steely rasp as the blade was pulled from the scabbard ringing
throughout the room.
As both men advanced slowly, Canmore ripped his hood off.
"That abomination? I wanted you to know just how easily I could get to
her, to know that I knew the truth!"
"The *truth*? The truth is that your damned family has tormented
her for centuries! Small wonder that she hates humanity! Your father
deserved what he got! All any of you had to do was to walk away, to
abandon the Hunt, but you didn't. You crippled your own brother over it!"
Mark retorted furiously.
"And you took up with an inhuman monster!" Canmore shot
back. "You turned your back on your own kind for a, a beast!" Jon had
lapsed back into his native Scottish brogue, even as Mark had abandoned
With a roar, the two men hurled themselves at each other.
Sparks flew as steel sword met high-tech hammer in a battle not just
of men, but of will and ideology. Mark drove Canmore back with a
flurry of thrusts and feints, bringing his sword down hard, only to
have it parried by the haft of Canmore's hammer.
Jon responded swiftly, bringing his hammer down in a deadly
arc, only to have it parried by Mark's blade. Once again, the two warriors,
the two Hunters, threw themselves against each other in battle.
"I wonder," Jon taunted, "if yuir beloved Demon is nearly
as resilient by day? Perhaps I'll send some Quarrymen ta test tha'
Mark roared in anger, slashing wildly with his sword. His
swipe missed the Hunter-turned-Quarryman, and scored the wall
Gone were all the pretenses of noble combat. This was no
longer a simple skirmish that would end in defeat, but rather a terrible
brawl that would end in a fatality, unless someone or something
Within minutes, the two found themselves on the roof of
the Cathedral, still locked in deadly combat.
Canmore brought his hammer down yet again, and Mark
parried, bringing his blade just under the charged head of the
weapon. With a shove, Mark forced him back, freeing their weapons
in a shower of sparks. Both men raised their weapons simultaneously,
bringing them together with terrific force!
The raw power of the blow staggered both men, but Mark's
ancient sword failed him. The impact shattered the steel blade, with
shards of the metal exploding outward.
For Mark, it was as if time itself had stopped. Looking at the
fragments of the blade as they fell, he saw images from his past, as if
unbidden memories had been recalled.
He saw Demona, that first night they had met, the firelight
playing off her beautiful blue skin. Yet another sliver suspended in
the air showed him a vision of his son, shattered and broken, lying
on the castle courtyard. Another fragment summoned an image of
Demona, stunningly beautiful in her stone sleep. Still another showed
a new visage of Demona, this one of her as the redheaded reporter at the
Then, the moment was lost, and reality reasserted itself. As
Mark hefted his now-useless weapon, barely a foot of blade left on the
hilt, Canmore brought his hammer down on an unprotected knee. It
felt as if every nerve in his leg screamed in agony as the weapon struck
and bone shattered. Mark fell to his good knee, struggling to regain his
footing, and biting back the pain.
An insane glint in his eyes, Jon Canmore raised his weapon high.
"Now nothing can stop me from completing the Hunt!" he cried. "The
Demon will be destroyed, and her damnable clan with her! Now it
Mark's eyes, which had been squeezed shut in an effort to
fight back the pain, snapped open. He couldn't let Canmore win
tonight! If he did, what would become of Angela and her clan, or
of Demona? No, he couldn't fail, not again!
Ignoring the white-hot pain in his leg, Mark pulled his fist
back, and then rammed it into Jon's midsection with all of the strength
he could muster. He felt bone give under his blow, likely a broken rib
or two. As Canmore doubled over in pain, the hammer clattering to
the roof, Mark stood.
Although his knee and leg were already beginning to heal,
the pain was considerable. Rage and adrenaline coursed through the
immortal, and with a strength born of that anger, he grabbed Castaway
by the throat, holding him over the side.
"Yes! Now it ends!" Mark hissed angrily.
Goliath and the others had nearly reached the Cathedral when
they saw the figures on the roof. Angling his wings for a rapid descent,
Goliath swooped in closer, hoping to intervene before Mark did something
he would forever regret.
"You three," he said, indicating the trio. "Go in through the main
entrance, in case there are more Quarrymen."
"Gotcha!" Brooklyn replied. The three gargoyles split off, leaving
Angela and Goliath, and landed at the front of the Cathedral.
Opening the doors carefully, they crept in, looking around for any
signs of reinforcements.
Mark's grip tightened on Jon's throat. The Quarryman uniform
was too heavily armored to be able to throttle him, but enough to hold onto
tightly. As he prepared to drop the man off the roof, he heard the rush of
air against wings, and the sound of two bodies landing near him.
"Mark, do not do this," Goliath's voice said.
"Hello, Goliath." Mark replied. "I assume Elisa and Angela are
with you? Forgive me for not being more polite, but I have some business
to attend to."
"Mark, you can't do this!" Elisa said, coming forward.
Without even turning around, Mark answered her. "Give me one
good reason not to drop him!"
Elisa's blood ran cold in her veins. They were the same words
Goliath said years ago, when he had threatened to kill Xanatos! She had
managed to appeal to the gargoyle's better nature by showing him how
much like Demona he would become, but that wasn't going to work with
Mark, not now.
Goliath stepped forward, gently placing his hand on Elisa's
shoulder to reassure her. "You cannot do this, my friend. I understand
your anger, but killing him will only make things worse for my clan ..."
"Aye, fool, kill me!" Canmore spat angrily. "I will be a martyr
to the Quarrymen, and there will be nowhere for those abominations to
Mark looked back at Elisa and the gargoyles, and then at Canmore.
Without warning, he reversed the sword in his other hand, and slammed the
pommel into Canmore's jaw. The impact of the blow knocked the man out,
and Mark placed him on the roof roughly.
"There," he said. "Goliath, there *is* no other way. You know that."
"No!" Angela shouted. "This isn't like you, Mark. You can't just
kill him ..."
"Angela, you just don't understand, none of you do. How could
you?" Mark replied with tired resignation.
Just then the trio made their way up to the roof.
"Goliath, there are a lot of Quarrymen down there, all unconscious."
"Yeah, and some of 'em are really hurt, too." Broadway added.
"Is that how you intend to 'protect' us?" Goliath rumbled, looking at
the immortal. "By cutting a swathe of bloody vengeance through these
"Yes, Goliath! I have *tried* to let humans sort out their problems,
and they cannot! I won't watch more gargoyles be slaughtered, and if than
means destroying the Quarrymen, than so be it!"
"And when does it end?" Elisa asked. "The Quarrymen? The
Illuminati? Sevarius? My God, Mark, even the Weird Sisters? What has
happened to you?"
Mark ripped the Hunter mask off, his features twisted in rage.
"I will have vengeance for my pain, all of humanity will pay for what
they have taken from me!"
The gargoyles looked back in stunned silence. It was what Demona
had said before she had nearly killed Goliath. What could have changed him
"Mark, if you do kill him, if you kill every man who wears the
Quarryman insignia, do you *really* think you'll be doing the gargoyles a
favor? All of Manhattan will be crying for their blood, and you will be
to blame!" Elisa said.
"Then I will kill them as well, and those who would follow them!"
"And when does it end?" Elisa pleaded. "A hundred, a thousand?
When are the scales balanced for your son?"
"As many as it takes, Elisa." Mark replied. "When humanity can
leave gargoyles in peace, I will stop."
"No!!" Goliath roared. "Kill him if you wish, we will not interfere,
but do not use us as an excuse! You seek revenge, nothing more! You once
tried to stop me from doing the same, my friend, end the cycle, before it
The other gargoyles looked at Goliath in shock.
"What do you mean, 'we won't interfere'?" Elisa said.
Goliath took her hand. "We cannot force him to stop, he must
choose for himself."
Mark looked back at the gargoyles, and down at Jon Canmore.
He was at the crossroads, the sword, or the open hand.
Angela spoke again, tears in her eyes. "Mark, please stop this.
You're not a killer."
"Angela, I can't. It has to end, tonight. He won't stop until you,
your mother, and your clan have all been destroyed." The sword, he told
himself. Only the sword could protect the gargoyles now.
"But you're better than that! You always said that you regretted
what Mother did. How can you do this?" Angela asked.
"No! I'm sorry you can't understand that, Angela, but humanity
has to be stopped, before they destroy you!" Mark said.
Another gargoyle landed on the roof, behind Mark. A new voice
rang out, one with a thick Scottish accent.
"Aye, lad. And perhaps you truly believe that, and it will soothe
your conscience for a century or two, but what then?"
Mark turned, it was MacBeth! Apparently, Hudson had brought
the other immortal here.
"What do you want, MacBeth?" Mark asked angrily.
"I'm not here to fight, lad, but to make you see what you are doing.
Of the three of us, you managed to avoid the cycle of vengeance. Don't
throw it all away now ..."
"You can say that, after all you've seen! Humanity can't live with
itself, and you want me to let them learn to live with gargoyles?" Mark
was astounded. He had expected such a naive response from Elisa and the
gargoyles, but from MacBeth?
"Aye, because it's not our choice. You'll only bring death down
on these gargoyles if you kill him, you will be responsible for the very
thing you sought to avoid. What comfort will that bring you, when you
are truly alone, when you must face the truth?"
"No! The humans took everything from me! I won't let them take
any more, no matter the cost!" Mark screamed.
MacBeth looked him in the eye. "You know better than that, lad.
You stand at the edge of a great abyss. Kill him, and you cast yourself into
it, and it may take centuries to redeem yourself, just like Demona."
"No, Demona was forced; by you, by others, by humans! Always
"And you? Is that what humanity has done to you, turned you
against your own kind?" Elisa asked.
"I stopped being human the moment those Fae witches cast their
spell on me." Mark cursed.
"And that justifies what you've become?" Elisa replied. "If you
kill him, than you'll be no better than the men who killed your own son!
Is that what you want!" Elisa hoped this would work. If she pushed him
too hard, he could snap, and turn on them.
Goliath spoke softly, but with determination. "'He piled upon the
whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his
whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he
burst his hot heart's shell upon it.'"
Mark laughed mirthlessly. "Oh, *very* clever, Goliath. But this
Ahab has caught his whale, and without losing his leg."
"Not all wounds are of the body, my friend. Some score the soul more
deeply than one could imagine." the gargoyle rumbled. "He is there, Mark.
Kill him, end your torment, if you can. But who will you blame when you find
yourself alone, forever? MacBeth is right, *you* will be responsible for
our deaths, as surely as if you killed us yourself."
"NO!" Mark screamed angrily. "What have they done to ..." Finally he
realized the truth, that he was becoming the very thing he fought to prevent.
He was becoming that which had destroyed his beloved son. Mark's rage flushed
from him in an instant. He paled, and closed his eyes. "No," he said sadly.
"What have *I* done? What have I become?" Opening his eyes, he stared down at
his hands, the hands that had nearly brought death down on his beloved Angela,
on the entire clan. Mark sank to his knees, despair washing over him. "Dear
God, what have I become?"
Angela rushed to his side. "It's all right, Mark, it's all right.
You stopped yourself, it's over now." She hugged him tightly, to reassure
Mark looked up, tears in his eyes. "I only wanted you to be
safe, Angela. I only wanted you to be safe ..."
She smiled down at him. His madness had passed, thankfully.
"I want you around for a long time. Who else can I trust to look after the
children I'll have someday?" she sniffled, hugging him.
As Mark and Angela embraced, Goliath walked over to Hudson.
"Excellent work, old friend, but whatever possessed you to seek
Hudson chuckled. "Because of what Angela suggested about
Demona. MacBeth is much like Mark, and we know we can trust him.
That, and I knew where to find MacBeth."
"What about Sleeping Beauty?" Brooklyn asked, thumbing towards
Elisa smiled. "Let me take care of him and his friends. It's not
much, but a trespassing charge might stick, and I doubt Canmore will
want to press charges on Mark. He'd have to admit his relationship to
Back at Mark's suite, he and the gargoyles were making their
"I'm sorry for what nearly happened, Goliath." Mark said,
extending his hand. "If you want me to leave your clan alone, I'll
understand." Mark was still shaken. It had been so *easy*, seemed so
right for him to kill Canmore. He had nearly lost everything.
Goliath smiled. "No apologies are needed, my friend.
Your wounds ran deep, but you stopped, before you started. We
will always be here for you, all you need do is ask." The gargoyle
was still concerned. A thousand years of pain and agony had come to
a head, and the explosion had been averted, but the wounds were still
fresh. Mark needed time to heal, and Goliath swore that he would be
there to help his human friend, not to lose him to revenge and anger as
he had lost Demona.
The two shook hands as the clan, conspicuously minus
Angela, looked on.
From a nearby rooftop, Demona watched in shadow.
Her suspicions had been correct. Mark had taken up the mantle
of the Hunter. Thankfully, he had been stopped before he brought
death down on the clan. As she turned to leave, a familiar figure
stood in her path.
"Angela?" she asked.
"Hello, Mother!" she said lovingly. "You still care for
him, don't you? That's why you came."
Demona embraced her daughter. "Perhaps another time. It's
been a long night, and ..."
"Go to him, Mother. He needs you. Elisa said that it was
because of his concern for you that he acted."
"I ... will consider it." she said. "He needs you too,
Angela, more than you know."
Demona swooped off into the night, as Angela took wing to
see her stepfather. Neither gargoyle saw the brief flash of light as three
beautiful women appeared, each clad in long white robes.
Selene, the raven-haired beauty, spoke first. "The balance has
"And not a moment too soon." Luna, the platinum blonde, said.
"Yes, now our plans may go forth unimpeded." Phoebe, the
golden blonde, finished.
Their cryptic aside complete, the three disappeared in a flash
of light, as quickly as they appeared.
End of Part III - to be continued.
Goliath's quote, for those who didn't recognize it, was from "Moby Dick",
by Herman Melville.