I do not own Taurus or any characters that appear in the Gargoyles series.

Reading Material

Adding Up

New York City was the city for vermin. Roaches scattered under slimed covered garbage. Rats boldly perched on the corners of dumpsters. Pigeons cooed from dung covered roosts. Where roaches, pigeons, and rats dare not to tread and treaded, humans lurked. Humans lurked by the thousands. Some walked in crowds down the sidewalks, blind to the world, cells phones in hands and against their heads. In even larger multitudes, more humans in slow, ground vehicles blocked the streets, spewing noise and pollution into the air. The traffic jam slowly worked down the street like a slug down a leaf. Other humans crawled into back alleys, brown bags with bottle necks sticking out and needles hidden away in torn and old clothing. Some stunk heavily of perfume, of concentrated flowers; others stank of the same grotesque fumes of the garbage cans and refuse that littered the streets. None was pleasant to Taurus's broad muzzle.

It was worse that in a city of vermin, Taurus had to find the lowest form of life on earth in the mixing pot of the lowest forms of life on earth.

Taurus, hidden the shadows of an alleyway, stared out into the street, which was hidden under the feet of Homo Sapiens or under the tires of the harmful automobiles. As if this city street was crawling under his skin, Taurus shivered.

Each human could be Proteus, as if he could not become any lower in form. There were too many humans for Taurus to count, too many for Taurus to even handle or ever wanting to see. Thinking back to his training, Taurus tried looking for any atypical behavior in the humans, the behavior that might suggest a shapeshifter was slinking among them. But unfortunately for Taurus and fortunately for Proteus, atypical behavior was the typical behavior of New York.

Every person who slunk into an alleyway drew his attention, but then he saw them pull out a needle or a bottle. Taurus was forced to turn his attention to other places.

This city sickened him. Every time he felt the urge to pull away, to leave, the image of his father burned into his head. Those eyes, wide and unseeing staring up at him, the hand, fingers curled, and the blood, the blood seeping out from underneath him like the slime from the streets. Taurus suppressed a snarl and another shutter, induced from an uncomfortable memory and an even more unnerving place.

Taurus moved farther back into the shadows, behind a dumpster, gripping his laser in his hand. He leaned against the walling, wryly thinking that the wall was much cleaner than the street in which his hooves rested on. From his left eye he watched the humans on the streets as he reflected. Moments later he closed both his eyes as he opened his ears to the world of noise around him. Too bad he could not close his nostrils.

When he wasn't thinking about his father or Proteus or his family's history, he thought about her. Her, Elisa Maza. She was the one human who proved herself honorable in Taurus's eyes. She proved herself quite well, a glittering star in a sky of dull ones. Not much could be said about her race. In New Olympus Taurus said there was hope for the humans, hope for peace between their people. But now standing there, in the shadows by a crowded street and by a dumpster that smelt strongly of old cheese and urine, only one adage came to his mind as he looked out onto the populace.

Snowball's chance in hell.

There was hope for Elisa that was it. But not for them, definitely not for them. This city was huge, the human lands in which they lived were huge, but their world was so tiny. It was like watching ants on the anthill. One little pebble, one little oddity tossed into their oblivious society would cause mass panic.

And anything could squash them.

Or they could swarm.

Taurus scratched the bottom of his long jaw, grinning at the imagery of humans running, scattering, and swarming. They ran in fear, swarmed in stupidity. The grin disappeared. Fear and stupidity are the two most dangerous qualities for anything to have, every police officer knew that.

Taurus had to think of happier thoughts. He was admired in New Olympus as the proud son of Asterius, the epitome of honor and strength by the populace. Admired for the fact he held his head high despite several painful blows to his family and a history to match. But anyone close to Taurus would speak differently of their chief of security. Helios, who feared Taurus more than he esteemed him, was overhead repeatedly referring to Chief of Security Taurus as Chief Stick up the Ass Sideways. Despite overhearing these burning remarks, Taurus said nothing to his second command. Helios did not have an excellent reputation to soil like Taurus had. Much worse has been done to Taurus than a few derogatory comments made by the office asshole. Former girlfriends politely called Taurus "a very absorbed man". The more "shunned" girlfriends would say "he doesn't give a hell about starting a family, just looking back on his", which was true. And the worse part was the bitter women were the ones who really did care about him, the more polite ones were all for the novelty of dating the Chief of Security.

These thoughts of women brought Taurus back to Elisa. She was a very honorable soul indeed. However, Taurus would never admit, not even to himself, that maybe, he did not admire her completely for her principles. He could say she was honorable, trustworthy, and intelligent, and continually go on about those qualities. He thought wryly that there were many more qualities to Elisa than just those, but those were the only he would vocally speak of to others. Certain qualities were kept to the back of his mind and continually shaken off.

Duty calls; the duty to his family and to his land. Taurus had much more important obligations to tend to than possible blooming emotions to a human female who was obviously taken by the gargoyle Goliath, who himself was an respectable person, but he was only thought about when Taurus became to deep in thought over Elisa. Love was a possibility, meaning it could happen, meanwhile, Proteus was on the loose and dangerous. And he would do something dangerous. Would outweighed could on the thought scales of the minotaur police officer.

So lost in his thoughts, Taurus did not even sense the darkness behind him split as the backdoor as one of the shops that made the alley opened. Though his ears were appointed to the sounds of the streets, he did not hear the click of a key in a lock or the clicking of a heels on slimy pavement.

His thoughts were disturbed by a gasp behind him and several loud thuds.

Instinctually Taurus turned, pulling the laser gun out his belt and aiming into the darkness behind him, aware of spoiling his position. His ears and eyes pinpointed the cause of the sound and the barrel of his gun focused on a human woman standing in misty light of the alleyway.

The young woman stood there, hands held up, fingers spread in terror. She had already turned pale at the sight of Taurus. With the barrel of a contraption that appeared to be from the future aimed at the middle of her forehead in the three fingered hand of a creature from mythology, she paled even more. Before Taurus could shout an order at her, her eyes rolled in the back of her head and her knees gave out. With a moan she fainted, hitting the street soundly.

Taurus winced, gritting his teeth at the audible thump of a body hitting stone. He lowered his gun, praying that his position was not exposed. Sacrificing a moment, he looked over his shoulder to the streets. People still continued on with their lives, strolling down the sidewalks as if the thump was nothing more than a car horn. Taurus returned his attention to the girl spread out in the slime of the alleyway.

The girl was out cold, if it was not the fright that knocked her out, it had to be the fall. Tentatively Taurus put a heavy finger against the large vein in her neck. He could feel her steady pulse through the thin layer of skin and muscle in her neck. Several books, originally in a bag, lay at her feet. With equal apprehensiveness Taurus picked one up.

In order to read the book, Taurus had to practically press the book against his snout.

The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break

Minotaur

Taurus looked back at the woman. He chewed his bottom lip. Then he looked back at the book and then down at the two other books and numerous magazines laying in the muck.

Taurus gathered up the books and set them on his hovercraft. He returned to the woman and stood only a few feet from her head, contemplating. Other than Elisa Maza, Taurus had not seen a human up close. The only thing Taurus could say about this human's appearance was that she was not Elisa Maza. In fact, she looked exactly like the thousands of other New Yorkers in this city. Her hair was brown, that was obvious, and her build was soft and slim, lacking muscle structure. He wondered if all humans were this "squishy".

He could have left her there in the alleyway. She was just a human, just another one of those people out there on the streets. But she was harmless. In fact, she was terrified when she saw Taurus. Leaving her there could be a death warrant, she would be vulnerable for the lowest of the humans to prey upon, and Taurus could not be responsible for that. He was Chief of Security, his job was to protect, to uphold justice. He was feeling responsible as well for her current status.

He picked her up, wary not to let her touch him completely or smear any of that sludge on his chest plate. He took her to the building that she exited. The door was locked, but digging through her purse (it was the lesser of two evils he decided), he discovered the key and her driver's license.

Rachel.

Her name was Rachel.

He unlocked the door and dragged her into the building. In the shadows of the building, Taurus could make out bookshelves, several book shelves in fact, they took up the whole store. It was a bookstore, he presumed. He pulled the girl behind the register and set her there.

In a faint light, Taurus examined the woman's driving license. It was similar to the identification cards he carried in jail. He could read her name, age, gender, and address. He chewed his thumbnail, his eyes darting to the door, his minding thinking about the books sitting on his hovercraft. There were numerous books in this store he could browse through. He could only imagine what the books were about, what the humans said about the Minotaur, what truths or lies that were held in the pages. However, he had no human money and he could not exactly take them. That would be stealing. Even if he did not tell anyone that he stole the books, it would still be on his conscience. If inventory was taken in this store, it would be obvious that the books would be unpaid for and gone. They would know he stole the books, if this girl came to and remember what occurred earlier. Anyone knowing that the chief of security stole made Taurus stick to his stomach.

But there were the books outside on his hovercraft. He knew she owned them or bought them. He could just borrow the books. It is not stealing, and he could just return them.

Taurus removed his digital calendar from his belt. Flipping it open, he scanned through the dates. In two months, he had a week off, required by Boreas. He contemplated. His gaze flipped flopped between the digital calendar in one hand and the driver's license in the other.

Taurus typed into his calendar and returned it to its pocket on his belt. He hung around for a few minutes in the store before heading back out onto the street.

&&&

"Oh my god, Rachel, what happened to you?" Lisa, the store manager exclaimed. "Did someone rob the store?"

Rachel sat up, pressing her hand against her skull. At first she thought her hair stiff clotted with blood, but dirt crackled in her hands. "I think I was mugged last night."

"Oh my god, what happened?" Lisa quavered.

"I was jumped in the alleyway. The guy, he was, he was, he was…big. He pulled a gun on me. I fainted. He dragged me into the store," she whimpered.

"Were you raped?" Lisa asked, kneeling down beside her.

Rachel grew ecstatic. "No. Where's my purse?"

"It's over here, on the counter," Lisa said.

Rachel's purse lay on the counter, its contents spread out.

"It doesn't look you're missing any money; your pay check is still here," Lisa said.

"I had books," Rachel spoke up. "Where are my books?"

"I don't see them. Maybe they're out in the alley," Lisa said, helping Rachel up. "Do you want me to call the cops?"

"Please," Rachel said, stumbling to the back door.

Rachel opened the back door to the alleyway, lit in the morning sun. The alleyway was bare with the exception of a dent in the muck where her body lay.

"He stole my books," she said entering the store.

"Just your books? Were they of any value" Lisa said, setting the phone down. "I don't think the police are going to believe this one."

"Neither do I," said Rachel. She looked back out the door at the unobtrusive hoof prints in the muck.

&&&

Lisa did not bother calling the police. Both of them came to the agreement the cops would never investigate this sort of crime. Three books and magazines were gone, stolen. A register, a purse, and a young woman left untouched. Things did not add up.

Rachel went home and called work off for later that day.

After an hour long shower to remove all that alley slime, Rachel recollected the events of that night. She sat down on her couch and turned on her television. Frankly, she wanted to be reading her books instead of watching the morning news. It was irritating; she could not think of a reason why anyone would steal her books. In fact, the books were not even brand new! She had just the books returned to her last night by a college buddy after six months, and now, after finally receiving them, she has them taken away again! It was irritating.

Just who or preferably what attacked her was completely unknown. She thought she saw horns and maybe a snout. But she was sure of the gun. Maybe she was just jumped by one of those costumed Star Wars fans she see coming in and out of the comic store across the street. This was just a harmless prank, a harmless WEIRD prank that only they were capable of. Rachel made a note to visit that comic book store tomorrow before class and see if her books were there.

Rachel emptied her purse; before she left work in a hurry, she dumped everything in a ball into it. She wanted to make sure that everything was there, just in case. She spread the contents out on her coffee table. Several of her credit cards were pulled out of the slots in her wallet, but all were there, spread out through her makeup kits and keys. With receipts from earlier purchases, Rachel found a folded up piece of paper, a note written on the paper from a notepad from work. Rachel did not recall writing a note and putting it in her purse, so she opened it.

To whom this may concern,

I have required several of your reading articles, which have to proven to be of particular interest to me and my plight. My deepest apologies about last night. It was not of my intentions to frighten you, nor take your books. Your reading materials will be properly be returned to you in two months time, on Julius Eighth at 9:00 pm.

Deepest regards,

Taurus

Things definitely were not adding up.