All the characters appearing in Gargoyles and Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles are copyright Buena Vista Television/The Walt Disney Company.
No infringement of these copyrights is intended, and is not authorized by the copyright holder.
All original characters are the property of Storyseeker.1.
Many thanks to Aesop for his assistance in everything from beta reading to suggestions and ideas! AND for keeping me sane in my darkest hours!
"I'm not saying we should forget about the Venes," Brooklyn defended himself. "I'm just saying we should face the facts. For the moment, the Venes are untouchable. They have all their magic to protect themselves, and now they have our twisted mirror versions to defend them. So maybe we should take a time-out from them and turn our sights to Aster's problem instead?"
Goliath growled deeply below his breath, partly in frustration at the mere suggestion of forgetting about the Venes, even if just for a short time, but also because he knew deep down Brooklyn was right.
Brooklyn had begun defending Broadway's suggestion that they should help Aster in fighting the Entity, implying all the facts that they had about it and the Venes. He had made a pretty good argument, one that not even Goliath could deny.
"I have a plan," Aster suddenly said, earning stares from all the clan.
"Since when?" Goliath demanded.
"I have actually been studying a number of magics for a number of years," Aster added. "At first all my searches proved fruitless, but over time I believe I may have come up with a idea to take down the Entity."
"What is your plan?" Brooklyn asked.
"During one of my visits to one of the other alternate realities I've visited in the past," Aster explained. "I told you that one of the clans in them gave me an alternate Phoenix Gate, one that travels through other dimensions, so it would allow me to keep up with the Entity."
"And in another dimension I dropped in, I also found a spell," Aster continued. "This spell is like a… I suppose you could say it's a bit like steroids. It gives whoever uses it a kick-start with their abilities, whatever they are, increasing their power levels almost tenfold."
Goliath's face looked on in interest. "Could this spell be used against the Venes?"
"Forget about the Venes, will you?" Aster snapped. "From what I've seen of them anyway, even tenfold wouldn't bring you anywhere close to fighting them. They have too much energy packed in from their family's aeons worth of magic-hunting."
Goliath eyed him dangerously, but said nothing.
"When combined with the power of the Phoenix Gate," Aster continued. "The spell would cause something like a rift in time and space, and as I once told you, the Entity is a being that exists outside the space/time continuum. This kind of phenomenon would attract it like a bug to heat. Once we have him where we want him, we can use the spell again to enhance Darlene, Demona and even Puck's magic to counteract the Entity's, giving us the chance to destroy him once and for all!"
The way he spoke then, with an over eager excitement, reminded Goliath far too much of Demona when she had attempted to exterminate humanity on the night of the Hunter's Moon. Even the look in Aster's eyes seemed all too familiar, disconcerting him gravely.
"Sounds easy," Lex remarked. "Too easy."
"Trust me, it isn't," Aster replied. "Getting the Entity where we want him is going to be hard enough, but the spell is complex and overly powerful. Even with Darlene, Demona and all of us working together, the power may be too much and could cause an explosion where we could all find ourselves being cast to the four corners of the globe simultaneously."
"Is it wise then to have so many sorcerers in one place?" Darlene asked. "Why not just use one?"
Aster shook his head. "The Entity exists outside time and space, and can destroy entire realities. For all we know, even the three of you with the spell might not be enough to destroy him, but it's our best chance. However, worst-case scenario is that the spell will not destroy the whole world. Most likely it will just blow up a few blocks… or possibly the city."
"We cannot endanger innocent lives!" Goliath exclaimed, as he heard Aster's last words. "I will not aid in the destruction of… "
"And if we do nothing then the Entity could take out this entire world!" Aster shot back. "We've been through this before, don't start again! It's kill or be killed, Goliath! Take out a few to save all! Sounds harsh, but that's the way it is. You were a warrior in medieval times, so don't tell me you don't understand!"
Goliath shut his mouth then. What Aster just said was true. Being a warrior, he had many times been presented with a terrible choice where he would have to sacrifice some to save all.
"Is there no other way?" he asked finally.
Aster shook his head. "This is the only way I've ever been able to find," he said, almost sorrowfully. "Believe me, if there was an easier way I would have found it by now, considering the amount of time I've spent searching."
Darlene kept mostly silent. On the one hand she feared what Aster was saying, for if something were to go wrong then her children would be in danger. Yet if what he said were true, then the Entity might end up destroying them anyway, along with everyone else.
"I think Aster is right," she said out loud, not even sure if she believed what she was saying. "I have children, and I would rather kill myself than put them in harm's way, but… As Aster said, unless the Entity is stopped then my children will be in danger anyway, along with everyone else in this world."
The rest of the clan stared at her, some with surprise, others with understanding and some with pity, knowing that this must have been a hard decision for her to make.
"Thank you," Aster silently said, mouthing his gratitude to her, though she did not know why. It seemed clear to her what they all should do. She had just been voicing what clearly must be everyone's opinion.
Goliath frowned, as he considered Aster's proposal, but then sighed…
"It seems we are left with few options," he admitted, looking at the young dimensional-jumper. "Very well, Aster. For now we will make preparations for your plan, but this does not mean that we will not also be looking for another one."
Aster nodded, satisfied that Goliath seemed to be listening to him at last.
Demona sat still, as she listened on her receiver to the clan's discussion. Although she had no wish to go to one of the clan's gatherings, that did not mean she had no desire to hear it, which was why she had placed a small radio transmitter upon Darlene.
She frowned, as she listened to Aster. His idea was sound, but there were too many variables. Despite his assurances, there was no guarantee that the Entity would follow his spell to its source, and if it didn't then the whole spell would be for nothing.
Then she heard about the spell he was planning to use, to enhance another sorcerer's magic, and she stopped.
The spells sounded very familiar.
Getting up, she went to check some of her shelves, containing numerous spell-books she had collected over the centuries.
After a few minutes, she soon found the one she was searching for… It was slightly different from what Aster had described, but its purpose was the same, to enhance another sorcerer's magic.
She frowned again, scratching her chin in thought. Finally, she picked up her phone and dialled,
"Lightning," she said into the receiver. "I require your assistance now."
Elsewhere in the house, Lana sat reading her magazine while Jarred was sitting at the table, studying some of the magic-books that their grandmother had given to them to read. They were nothing more than simple basic spells that any apprentice sorcerer could use… changing the colour of inanimate objects, making a dog meow and a cat bark, that sort of thing.
"What are mom and Griff up to?" Jarred asked.
Lana shrugged. "Who knows? Ever since we moved to New York, I haven't a clue what she gets up to. Before, the worst we had to expect from her was her going out for dinner with dad. Now we've got monsters, trans-dimensional entities, sorcerers, demented clones… "
"All right, I get it!" Jarred interrupted her. "Sheesh!"
Lana had paused for a moment when she mentioned 'demented clones', referring of course to Thailog. The spells her grandmother had placed in her mind had helped her to rest peacefully, but she could still feel him trying to enter her mind.
'He'll never let me have peace,' she thought.
Just then, the balcony doors opened in the other room, signalling someone had returned home.
"Mom?" Lana called out.
"Yeah, we're here," Darlene's voice replied. A few moments she entered the room, together with Griff and Gabriel.
Lana smiled, as Gabriel came over to her, enveloping her in his arms and wings, embracing her softly yet firmly.
"I missed you," she said coyly into his ear, enjoying the feel of the strong muscles of his arms.
"I missed you more," he replied, nuzzling her ear affectionately.
"Ahem," Darlene coughed. "Need I remind you that your mother is still in the room?"
"What? You can have a social life with Griff and I can't with Gabriel?" Lana scoffed.
"Oh yuck," Jarred muttered.
Darlene ignored him for the moment. "Lana, where's your grandmother?" she then asked.
"Still in her study," Lana noted, not taking her head from Gabriel's chest. "Hasn't come out all night."
"Fine," Darlene inwardly seethed, and started out of the room. "Griff, Gabriel, please make yourselves comfortable. I need to speak with my mother."
Griff merely nodded, as she made her way out of the room, before going over to talk to Jarred.
"So how's the studying going?" he asked in a friendly voice.
Jarred merely shrugged. "Fine, I guess," he muttered.
"Problems, my boy?" Inwardly he already knew what the problem was, as Darlene had filled him in on their way to the Eyrie, explaining how Demona had apparently lost her temper with her grandson. He had been surprised, as he thought out of all of Darlene's children, Jarred was Demona's favourite, seeing as he shared her fascination for sorcery.
But Jarred was clearly not in a talkative mood, as he just shook his head, not even bothering to raise his head to look at him, keeping his nose in his book.
Griff took a peek at the book's title, and recognised it as one of the many spell-books that his clan had at their shop 'Into The Mystic'. He himself had read it once years ago when he had been a hatchling.
Coming from a clan that owned a magic shop as he did, basic training in sorcery was kind of a necessity, but he was no sorcerer. He had neither been interested in the subject, nor had he the magical Gift that all would-be sorcerers required to practise mysticism, but he knew the basics at least.
"Need any help?" he offered.
While he attempted friendly conversation with the boy, Jarred's mother had in mind a different type of conversation intended between her and her mother.
"Mother!" Darlene demanded, as she stormed up to her mother's study. Waiting even knocking, she twisted the doorhandle, only to find it locked.
Cursing under her breath, she banded on the door. "Mother, let me in!"
A few moments later, the sound of a lock being turned was heard, and the door opened, revealing Demona's face looking inquisitively at her. "Yes?" she asked.
Darlene walked into the room. "Why did you lock the door?"
"Why shouldn't I?" Demona said sharply. "This is my house, and this is my private study. I have a right to lock one of my rooms if I wish, don't I?"
Darlene frowned in wonder, as her mother had never bothered locking doors before, at least not while she had been living there, or even when she had been a hatchling, which was part of the reason why she had been able to summon that Fire Spirit that nearly burnt down the whole house.
But she shook off this wonder for the moment, as she had bigger fish to fry. "I've come to talk about Jarred," she explained.
"What about him?" Demona replied, seemingly uncaring.
"He told me you and he had some sort of fight," Darlene queried. "That you shouted at him. Is that true?"
Demona scoffed. "It was hardly a fight."
"But did you shout at him?" Darlene insisted.
Her mother shrugged. "Maybe, maybe not."
Darlene hissed in frustration. Why did her mother have to be so damn mysterious and secretive? "Did you or didn't you?"
Her mother gave her a hard stare. "Yes," she then simply replied.
Darlene stared back at her, mildly in shock. "Why? What did he do to deserve… "
"He was interrupting an important experiment I was doing!" Demona snapped. "Need I tell you the importance of interrupting a sorceress at work? Don't tell me you've forgotten that much?"
Darlene sighed. "Of course not, mother. But I must ask you to at least be a little more sensitive to Jarred's feelings. He values your opinion over him more than anything."
"I have no time for this," Demona concluded.
"Mother, I'm not…. " Darlene started, but Demona was quick to interrupt.
"I said I have no time for this!" she snapped. "I still have much work to do, and your being here does NOT help. So please go!"
Darlene stuttered for a moment, but finally just shook her head and turned to leave, as she knew it was pointless to talk to her mother when she was like this.
As she passed the door, she thought she noticed a small cellphone on her mother's desk. Unfortunately, Demona left her no time to investigate and quickly ushered her out the door.
"I would also appreciate no more disturbances for tonight!" Demona declared, before slamming the door shut on her daughter.
"Thailog!" Cecile's voice called him.
Thailog stifled a growl beneath his breath, but got up quickly to answer her, knowing better than to keep her waiting.
"What do you wish, my mistress?" he said, entering her room and using the title and manner he was told to address her with.
"I've been considering our new guests," she mused.
"You mean the alternatives," he replied. The Alternatives was more or less the term they had decided upon to use when referring to the dark counter-parts of the clan. "I thought you had decided they would be useful for now?"
"I know, and I stand by my decision," Cecile said snidely.
In truth, Thailog would be happier if Cecile were to dismiss the alternatives altogether, or kill them. Either way, as long as they got rid of them, he would be relieved, as they seemed too unbalanced and unstable for even his taste.
Their want for wine and bloodshed, and their unhealthy beastial lust, sickened him thoroughly. He could still remember the way they had bragged about the human females they had captured and assaulted earlier.
"Feeling threatened, Thailog?" Cecile said, grinning at him.
Thailog frowned. "From a clan of degenerated savages, puh-lease! Why you wish to keep them around is beyond me."
"Because they outsmarted and defeated Goliath and his clan," Cecile said. "That alone gives them more than enough reason to remain and aid us."
"The way they act, they appear more trouble than they're worth."
Cecile cocked an eyebrow at him. "Oh… and why is that? Because they attack and rape helpless females… Wasn't what you were guilty of when I first found you?"
Thailog's eyes flared red. "That was different!" he insisted.
Cecile laughed. "In what way? Lana, although a Gargoyle, is still pretty weak and defenceless compared to you. You wanted her, so you abducted her and raped her, all so that you could have a good time. How is it any different from these guys?"
Thailog's fists were clenched tightly, ready to draw blood. "It was different!" he kept insisting. "I loved her and…!"
"Oh, and you did what you did out of love," Cecile giggled, deducing his words. "Buddy, I may not have Shakespeare's perspective on love, but even I know that people don't hurt the ones they supposedly love. What you did was just for plain old lust, nothing else and nothing more."
Thailog glared at her, but said nothing then.
Cecile patted his large arm with her hand. "Hey, don't get me wrong. I couldn't care less what you did or what you want to do with little miss perfect. You wanna track her down one night, make her your love slave or whatever, that's fine with me. Just do it on your own time! I still have work for you to do, and that includes dealing with the Alternatives."
Thailog looked down at her quizzically. "Dealing with them? What am I supposed to be dealing with them about?"
Cecile shrugged. "Like you said, their intense lust for slaughter and rape is a little extreme. Although their services would be useful in dealing with the clan, I don't intend to spend all my time cleaning up after their messes! Therefore… you shall be in charge of them for now."
Thailog's eyes widened at her. "Me? Just how exactly am I supposed to lead them? In case you haven't noticed, they don't tend to take orders form anyone save themselves, let alone outsiders!"
Cecile waved her hand dismissively. "I'm sure you'll think of something, my dear Thailog. After all, you're the one who's always full of ideas."
'Not enough though to get rid of you apparently,' Thailog thought.
"Talk to them and deal with it!" Cecile ordered.
Thailog sighed, but nodded.
The Alternatives had made their temporary home at the top floor of a penthouse building that was close to the Vene's hotel. Thankfully though, they had not needed to kill anyone this time, as whoever owned the apartment they were in now must have been away, seeing as the apartment had about a week's worth of dust in it.
Thailog felt uneasy, as he approached the apartment building. Needless to say he was not looking forward to dealing with this particular clan again. He had never thought it possible that he would end up meeting a clan that would cause him more disdain that Goliath's clan.
Landing on the balcony, he took a deep breath as he entered the French doors into the apartment.
The apartment was in absolute shambles. The alternate clan had wasted no time in making themselves at home. The fridge looked cleaned out, with bits and pieces of various food sources and drink bottles scattered all over the place, and the odd piece of furniture turned over.
'I see they've settled in okay,' Thailog thought.
He soon spotted his father's double, the alternate Goliath, lying stretched out drunk on a huge sofa with a bottle of wine in his claw. He made no move to get up and greet him, and for all he knew he could very well be unconscious.
The Hudson-twin who called himself Adhamh was, rather unbelievably, sitting in a chair in front of the TV, watching some program.
'I guess some things never change,' Thailog mused, and looked over to the kitchen where he then saw the scarred and skin-tattered Broadway double busy making a sandwich. 'Apparently so.'
He couldn't see the alternate Brooklyn and Lexington anywhere, meaning they had probably gone out somewhere, which was enough to make Thailog feel uneasy.
'Damn it,' Thailog swore inwardly. 'If those idiots are out chasing down women again, they'll have the whole city hunting us all down.'
"Adhamh!" he called out, demanding the attention of the elder. Although their Goliath was supposed to the clan's leader, it was clear he was just the muscle. Adhamh was the brains of the whole outfit.
"Well, if it isn't our new employer's bitch!" Adhamh yelled out, smirking at the dark lavender clone. "Your mistress know you're out of your cage, does she?"
Thailog's eyes flared red at him, but he restrained himself from hurling at the old savage and tearing him apart with his bare claws.
"She… asked me to come discuss some things with you, yes," he admitted.
"And what, pray tell, would they be?" Adhamh said, still smirking, making Thailog's blood enflame.
"She is wondering why she should keep any of you alive when you're out risking our lives with your foolish abductions, rapes and killings night after night!" Thailog snarled.
Adhamh's eyes then flamed white. "Watch yer tongue… "
"Watch your own!" Thailog roared at him. "I know you maybe new to this world, and not used to hiding and keeping yourselves from attacking every man, woman and child that crosses your path… and frankly, I don't give a damn!"
The alternate Goliath then got up, eyeing him dangerously, but Thailog was too incensed to care. The weeks of being forced to serve and kiss the backside of that obnoxious brat Cecile had driven him to the point of despair and insanity.
"Your constant kidnapping and violations of numerous Human women are putting us all in danger!" Thailog said warningly. "Most of the population are already suspecting that we Gargoyles might be in some way responsible. We were fortunate that your counterparts got hold of the women you recently apprehended. I doubt Xanatos will let them go, at least not without first ensuring their silence."
Goliath snorted in disgust. "Why should we care about what Humans think or feel? Because of them our race is all but… "
"I do not care for your pathetic excuses, barbarian!" Thailog shouted. "If the Humans suspect that we are to blame for the rapes and deaths of any of their people, they will launch a witch-hunting campaign on the whole city! None of us will be safe, neither Goliath's clan, yours or myself!"
Adhamh, Goliath and the counter Broadway were all staring at him dangerously, but still Thailog had no care for that.
Adhamh seemed to take his time in answering, but when he did he spoke with understanding. "What you say makes sense." He was just as much a savage as the rest of his clan, but he at least had a brain.
"Good!" Thailog replied. "That is why Cecile has decided to place me in charge of you until your work for her is done."
Adhamh's eyes flared back up, but Goliath was the first to speak that time.
"You dare attempt to take my leadership from me?" he snarled ferociously.
"I'm not attempting to take your leadership, I AM taking it! You and your clan have already caused too much trouble for all of us, including yourselves! It's clear you're not equipped to handle things in our world, and until you learn better I will be taking charge and seeing to everything! You have a problem with that, go take it out with Cecile!"
The last part was meant as something of a challenge to the dark twin of Goliath, one that Thailog knew he would not accept. He was a brute, a savage and a barbarian, but he was not completely stupid. He had already seen the level of magic that Cecile possessed, and knew that going up against her would be nothing less than pure suicide.
"Your… request is accepted," he said finally, though he did so through clenched fangs.
"It wasn't a request," Thailog corrected him. "It was merely a fact."
Goliath said nothing, and stepped back, as did the counter Broadway. Adhamh stood where he was for a few moments, eyeing Thailog curiously.
"What is it?" the clone snapped.
"You know, when I first met you," Adhamh stated. "I figured ye to be nothing more than a male wench, something kept around only for the amusement of that Human sorceress. But now… now I see I was wrong. You have a great temper within you. Perchance you are not the weakling I had thought you to be."
With that, he then walked away, back to his seat, leaving Thailog staring at him in bewilderment.
Xanatos sat up in his bed, with his leg in a cast, as Owen entered the room.
"What news of the women Goliath and his lot brought back?" the CEO asked.
"I'm afraid it is not good, Mr. Xanatos," the major-domo turned Fey reported. "One of the women is in a near catatonic state, two of them have yet to stop crying, and the other two are more or less demanding retribution."
"Not surprising," Xanatos remarked. When he had first heard what those savage doppelgangers of the clan had done to those women, his first thought was that he would let each of the women have the pleasure in castrating all of them.
"Yes, but it is not just their attackers they want punished, Mr. Xanatos," Owen explained. "They desire to have all of the Gargoyle race eradicated, as payment for their violations."
Xanatos sighed. "I feared as much." It was possible it was just their anger talking. They might calm down in time, but Xanatos knew he could not keep them here for long, and there was no guarantee that time would soothe their wounds.
He also knew though that he could not let them leave, at least not feeling the way they did now. This kind of bad publicity was the absolutely last thing the clan needed. If the city so much as suspected the clan of doing what their alternates had done, New York would become one big Gargoyle-hunting ground.
"Can you remove all their memories of the incident from their minds?" he asked.
Owen sighed. "Yes and no, sir."
"What do you mean?"
"I can remove all their memories of the incidents with the Gargoyles, that is true," Owen explained. "But the extraction of mere memories cannot fully take away the trauma of what they've been through."
Xanatos looked questioningly at him.
"The women suffered an almighty trauma, an intense violation upon their bodies. I can take away the memory of the rape, but its ramifications will still continue to affect them. You see, a person's body can sometimes remember things that a person's mind cannot. Like most rape victims, it is more than likely they will continue to feel and suffer the after-affects of their ordeal."
"You mean like intense fear of men, or to be touched in general?" Xanatos said, remembering reading somewhere about rape victims and their attempts to recover.
"Exactly," Owen nodded. "Most women try to forget about it when it first happens, to try and carry on with their lives as though nothing happened. Very rarely does it ever succeed, and most usually go mad with the denial."
"And you think something similar would happen with these women if you erased their memories?"
"It is inevitable, I'm afraid. Even if they don't remember that they were raped, their bodies will know that something bad had happened to them. They could have flashbacks, moments of crushing panic, intense fear of being with someone and so forth."
Xanatos sighed. "I don't want to be party to driving someone to the nuthouse, but I can't see what other option we have. If we let them go free and tell the world that Gargoyles were the ones who assaulted them, the clan will have no peace."
"There is one other option, sir," Owen suddenly said. "Instead of erasing their memories, we could try merely altering them."
Goliath stood with Aster and the others, discussing the layout for Aster's plan. So far, all they had managed to agree on was to disagree.
"But you said so yourself that you weren't sure you could contain the power," Goliath told the young Aster.
"But we won't know for sure unless we try!" Aster countered hotly.
"Goliath?" Owen's crisp voice called.
The clan all looked to see the major-domo standing by one of the doors. "Mr. Xanatos wishes to see you at once."
Goliath nodded, glad for the escape from his heated discussion with Aster. The boy's foolishness and brash behaviour was grinding his nerves.
"Wait here while I see Xanatos," Goliath told his clan, leaving the Hall.
"I'm not risking Angela's life for anyone or anything!" Broadway bellowed.
"If we don't try then she'll be dead anyway!" Aster snapped.
"Shall I assume that you have yet to come to an agreement?" Owen deduced.
Goliath nodded. "It seems all we can agree on is to disagree. Unless we come to a decision over what to do with the Entity, I don't see how we can hope to win."
"Well, I'm sorry to be the bearer of more bad news, but I'm afraid there is one more decision that you have to make, hence the reason why Mr. Xanatos wishes to see you."
"I think it would be best for Mr. Xanatos to explain it all," Owen replied politely.
Goliath wanted to ask further, but the night's events so far had left him without the strength, and so, he decided to let it be and just see what Xanatos had to say.
A few minutes later, he was in Xanatos's bedroom, the CEO lying in bed with his leg bandaged and encased.
"Hope Owen didn't pull you out of anything important?" the clan's former enemy asked.
'More like saved me,' Goliath thought, but he merely said, "No. What was it you wanted to discuss with me?"
Xanatos quickly explained all that Owen had just gone through with him, concerning the women who their dark selves had captured and assaulted. The subject sickened the clan-leader to even think about it, but he knew it was something he would have to think about sooner or later.
"Alter?" Goliath asked when Xanatos explained what Owen had said about erasing the women's memories, but would be unable to erase the trauma inflicted on their bodies during the assault. "What do you mean?"
"As I told Mr. Xanatos," Owen revealed. "I can take away the ladies' memories of their actual rape, but the body can sometimes remember what the mind cannot. They could have flashbacks and such, so I would not recommend it as an option. It could lead to severe mental damage, perhaps even to insanity. The only other option to save your clan's reputation, and to prevent a city-wide Gargoyles hunt, would be to alter their memories slightly."
"You mean enter their minds and change their memories?" Goliath exclaimed aghast. "Have not these people been violated enough without you having to rape their minds also?"
"Believe me, Goliath," Xanatos said sympathetically. "I was not all for this when Owen first suggested it, but in all honesty I see no other way… We can't keep them here forever, most of them want blood for what was done to them, particularly your kind's blood, and there's no way we can explain to them that the ones who assaulted them were not really you, but your clan from another reality. And frankly I don't think they would care either way."
Goliath stayed silent, his fists clenched and his eyes downcast, his thoughts in conflict.
"Owen suggests that we allow him to enter each of the ladies' minds, as you just said, and slightly alter their memories of what happened in that place where you rescued them from."
"Little things, really. First of all, he would alter their perception and make them believe that the males who were raping them were not Gargoyles at all, but mere men. He can arrange it so that they could not see who their attackers were, but enough to believe that they were not Gargoyles."
"Until we came and rescued them?" Goliath asked.
"No, we feel it would play better if they forgot that any of your kind were there at all."
"Memory alterations are very tricky," Owen added. "If they remember that any of your kind were there, the sight or discussion of you could lead to their memories being restored."
"How would you explain them being here then?" Goliath then asked.
"Owen will also erase their memories of ever being brought here," Xanatos continued. "I will have my men take them down to an abandoned warehouse or some place, and leave an anonymous tip to the police of where to find them."
Goliath did not like the idea of fooling around with another person's mind, but what Xanatos said made sense, and it seemed the only possible escape for them right now.
"I will talk to Elisa and explain the situation," he said. "I will tell her to expect such a call."
"But how will Owen or Puck be able to complete the mind spell?" the Manhattan Gargoyle suddenly realised. "Oberon's law forbids him from using magic except in the training of young Alexander, and surely he's too young to attempt such a spell?"
"You assume correctly, Goliath," Owen revealed. "But I am also allowed to use my magic in the protection of young Alexander as well. If the city were to explode into an all out Gargoyles hunt, they would tear this city apart looking for you, attacking anything and anyone that got in their way. And, needless to say, if they were to discover that you were living here, Master Alexander's safety would be severely jeopardised."
"So Puck would be allowed to use his magic in just securing the protection of Alex," Xanatos noted.
Goliath sighed. "I do not like this idea, Xanatos, but I can see the logic in it. We have very few options left to us, and with all the current dangers in the world, we cannot risk more troubles arising just yet."
"So do we have your consent?" Xanatos asked.
Goliath sighed again, and nodded.
Veronica Simpson sat up in the medical bed that had been prepared for her, her nerves shocked and her mind in a haze.
She was not crying. She couldn't cry, for she had no more tears to shed.
Before those Gargoyles had abducted her, she had never really paid much attention to all the news and gossip circulating Manhattan about the living drainpipes. After all, she had her own problems to deal with every day, so she had no time to spend thinking about statues coming to life. The whole thing had just seemed ridiculous to her.
But then they had come… come and taken her.
Veronica's whole body shuddered, as she remember how they had carried her upside down, humiliating her as they pointed and laughed at her choice of underwear, and sniffed and licked at her crotch.
But that had been nothing compared to what they had done when they had brought her to their home.
Veronica wanted to be sick, her body still convulsing, as the memories of what happened when they had brought her to that old building and dropped her, starting with that huge aquamarine Gargoyle with the tattered skin and huge ears that looked as if they had been put through a shredder.
He had been the one who had taken her.
Veronica still couldn't bring herself to say the word "rape", as it still didn't seem real to her. She knew she was delaying the inevitable, but she just couldn't bring herself to face it. Even now she was trying to convince herself that it had all been nothing more than a horrible nightmare, one brought on by too much cheese before bed or something.
"God please," she whimpered. "Why is this happening to me?"
She remembered how the large one had grabbed her, throwing her to the floor before proceeding to… sit on her.
His weight had been enormous as his height, almost crushing her to the point of suffocation. But the worst part had been what he had done after he had sat on her.
She had been stuck underneath his huge posterior, struggling in vain to escape, but only managing to elite a few sniggers from him, and then she had felt the tail… It had felt like a long snake, slithering around between her legs before it had plunged right into her.
She had screamed, and the first wave of tears had begun streaming down her face, but the beast paid no attention to her, except for what its tail was doing. She didn't know what else he had been doing, her being in the position she had been in and not being able to see, but she knew he had been doing something. She had seen the other women in the room before the beast had converged on her, and the constant growls and laughter he had been sounding had been enough of a giveaway to what he was doing.
Veronica felt her stomach beginning to heave again when the door to her room opened again.
"Miss Simpson," the voice of the blonde man with the glasses said. "I'm sorry for leaving you for so long, but I wish to speak to you on an important matter."
Veronica could only numbly nod her head in acknowledgement.
Owen walked up to her, kneeling in front with his blue eyes looking into hers. "I am sorry for this," he then said.
Veronica resisted the urge to snort in disgust. Ever since she had come here she had had countless people telling her they were sorry for what had happened to her. Sure, they're sorry, she's sorry, everybody's sorry! But what good does that do her now?
She remembered the Gargoyles that had attacked her then violated her, and then as a final indignity they had brought her here under the pretence of saving her.
"I know you've been through a terrible trauma," the man's voice continued. "I wish I could take away your pain, but for now all I can do is this… "
Veronica turned her sight back to him, wondering what he was talking about, and then…
The man's form seemed to melt in front of her, as his appearance shrunk and his hair grew long and turned white, but before she could even take the time to think of this…
"Bliss of sleep take thee, let thy mind now open to me."
Veronica had no time to wonder about his choice of words or the way his voice seemed to change in tone, when she felt her eyes begin to grow heavy and her conscious slip into oblivion.
Puck wasted no time and began to dive deep into the woman's sub-consciousness, but at the same time he tried to respect her privacy as much as he was able to by not viewing any intimate or personal memories. He soon found what he was looking for and began the editing…
In the place of her Gargoyle attackers, he placed the shadows of mere men, cloaked and unrecognisable. The appearance of the actual clan, he removed completely.
'I cannot take away the pain of your trauma,' Puck said mentally. 'But at least I can help save the clan's reputation, and make you forget you were raped by actual beasts.'
It was small comfort, but at least it was some to the trickster.
45 Minutes Later; Downtown:
Elisa had received a call from Goliath, informing her of the women who had been abducted and raped by their counterparts, and was on her way to the rendezvous point where she would find the missing women.
Elisa shuddered, remembering how the counter Goliath had came onto her, no doubt intending to do the same to her as his clan had to those poor women. She was just thankful that her Goliath had arrived to help her.
Like Goliath, she had not been too fond of the idea of Puck/Owen invading those women's minds, but like him, she could see no alternative. The last thing the clan needed was for the whole city to go mad for Gargoyle blood.
'I wonder how many Fey have just strolled into another person's mind happily,' she thought, 'and violated whatever memory they had, all for the sole purpose of amusing themselves?'
Elisa had no great love for the Fey, not even Puck really despite the number of times he had helped the clan recently. They had no respect for others, especially those of her kind, and just did whatever they wanted to do and to hell with the consequences.
And the fact that they could just enter a person's mind at will and fool around with it, making them do whatever they wanted, scared the heck out of her.
"This the place?" Matt's voice broke her out of her thoughts.
Elisa checked the address that Goliath had given her, and nodded.
"Better get on with it then," Matt said, sighing as he got out of the car.
Elisa swallowed the lump forming in her throat, and followed him out.
The site was an old abandoned building with easy access. They soon found a way in and entered.
"Hello?" Matt called out. "Anyone here?"
A few moments passed, and then…
"Help… " a tiny voice cried out pitifully.
Matt spared Elisa a glance, and then hurried over to where the voice had come from, behind a pile of old boxes.
The voice turned out to belong to a young woman, scarcely clothed. No doubt the clan, Xanatos's men or whoever had brought them there, must have thought it would seem more realistic that way, which Elisa had to admit sounded logical, as real rapists would not have bothered taking any time to redress their victims.
Elisa quickly approached the young lady. "What's your name?" she asked urgently.
The woman stuttered for a moment. "Ve… Vero…. Veronica Simpson," she said finally.
Elisa didn't want to ask the next question, as she already knew the answer and she felt it unjustly fair to ask, but she knew she had to, to keep up the pretence… "What happened?"
Veronica's lower lip quivered slightly. "There was a man…" she said, seemingly gasping for breath. "A bunch of men… The-they-they… they ambushed me, took me away somewhere, and then…" She burst out crying.
Elisa embraced the woman, to comfort her. "It's all right," she said, trying to reassure her. "You're safe now."
The rest of the women started to wake up, most of them screamed when they first saw Matt, as they obviously must have mistaken him for one of their rapists.
Elisa knew it had been a bad idea to bring Matt with her, as most rape victims were always deadly afraid at seeing another man right after their attack, but she couldn't ask another officer to join her, as she had no reason to, not without revealing the fact that she knew something the others didn't.
Elisa continued holding Miss Simpson near, as she sobbed into her arms while the others either still screamed or started crying around them.
The detective prayed at that moment that when the clan eventually tracked down those sons of bitches, they would make them pay for this violation with their lives. For if they didn't then she would.
On the other side of New York, the Entity stood on one of the many rooftops of Manhattan, overlooking the vast concrete isle before him.
"So many souls and not a drop to eat," it mused. It cursed the fact that it could only drain the souls of those who were dead, and not the living. It would sure make food a lot easier to find if it could.
It had attempted to find some lost souls, but so far could find none. Usually, it would have gone to another alternate universe where it would have already experienced this reality's timeline, and thus change it. But alas, this reality was apparently unique, the first original reality it had met in so long a time.
It recognised the inhabitants of this world and universe. The Gargoyle clan, its leader and members were all familiar to it, having seen so many other alternatives of them already in various worlds. But the timeline of this world was unlike any it had seen in its vast life.
The Entity lived outside of time and space, so it could be changing the history of this world already by just being there. However, it had obviously not done anything too remarkable to change the timeline otherwise this world and all its reality would have long since dissipated by now.
The only reason why the Entity had not left to go find a more familiar world, one with plenty of lost souls for it to claim and consume, was because it had decided that that young Gargoyle Aster had to be dealt with. It had not been bothered with Aster at first, and truth be told it had even found it amusing to watch as the young Gargoyle had tried fruitlessly to vanquish it.
But that had been then, and Aster had been trailing after the Entity for many years, during which he had acquired some measure of power. It was nowhere near enough to destroy or even harm it, but it could be enough to cause it some distress at least.
The Entity had not spent all those countless centuries of travelling across trans-dimensions to be taken down by a simple mortal Gargoyle now. To be stopped so would be… humiliating.
Unfortunately, killing him might be complicated. The Entity had vast powers to be sure, but only in crossing dimensions, binding and consuming lost souls, and of course attacking its enemies, but killing was another matter.
The Entity had never had a travelling companion, which was what Aster was, to lack a better description, so it did not know the consequences of its actions in destroying him. For all it knew, killing Aster might cause this entire reality to immediately be sucked into oblivion at once, along with the Entity.
The Entity had always ensured that whenever a reality was about to implode on itself, it left with plenty of time so it did not get caught in the devastation. Not even it could survive the destruction of an entire dimension.
So it would not destroy Aster, but it would ensure that the young Gargoyle would never bother it again. The Entity couldn't just leave, as it knew Aster had a way of somehow tracking it, thanks to that bothersome trinket he had picked up in one of his first jumps. But perhaps he could find a way of somehow subduing him.
The Entity had been around long enough to learn of several ways to incarcerate people, such as Cryo-Stasis, turned to stone and other such ways. It would simply just do one of those things to Aster, thereby not killing him, but ensuring his nights of troubling it would be over.
The Entity smiled, laughing as it imagined painful but deathless ways of subduing the troublemaker.
"So the women have now been taken care of?" Brooklyn asked his leader.
Goliath nodded. "Puck erased all memories they had of ever being with any of us. They still remember being raped, but as far as they know it was by mere human men."
Angela looked disturbed, as she looked at her father. "Could he not have removed all memory of their rapes also?"
Goliath shook his head. "I asked him about that, Angela, but sadly no. He said all that would do would remove the memory, but the trauma of what was done to them would remain. They would know something bad had happened to them, but they wouldn't remember what. At least this way they will be able to get help from human sources to aid in their recovery."
Angela slowly nodded, but still looked unsure.
"In that case, we can now put our attention to other bigger matters," Aster added. "Have you heard yet from Darlene?"
Goliath spared him a short but hostile look before replying. "Darlene said she first had some personal issues to deal with concerning Demona. She will get back to us as soon as she could."
Aster scoffed. "Nice to see she's keeping track of important matters."
Goliath stared hard at him. "Nothing is more important than family, even if that family involves Demona."
Aster stared back at him, but gave no reply to what he just said, and just carried on with what he was originally going to say…
"I've been thinking about the plan and where we should execute it," he told them. "Since we don't know the magnitude of the explosion, assuming there even is one, might occur when we complete the spell, I believe we should stage the trap at a remote location, one where there will surely be no people about."
"Agreed," Goliath said. "Where did you have in mind?"
"I thought Liberty Island," Aster quickly replied.
Goliath blinked, as did the rest of the clan.
"Liberty… Island?" Brooklyn said slowly. "Are you out of your mind freaking nuts? That's where… "
"I know where it is and what it holds, Brooklyn," Aster said lowly. "My universe was not completely different from yours, at least not when concerning its historical attractions, especially the Statue of Liberty."
"If this spell goes wrong, we could end up… "
"We could end up destroying the whole island and the statue with it," Aster finished for him. "I know all that, Brooklyn, and furthermore I couldn't really give a damn! For one thing, we do not know for absolute certainty that the spell will blow up, as there is a chance it won't, however small. And even if it does… what's more important, the risk of losing a statue or the risk of your entire universe getting destroyed? I feel fairly certain that given the choice, most people would prefer to live."
Goliath had to accept his logic on that, as did the rest of the clan.
"The humans are NOT gonna be happy if we end up losing one of their most famous landmarks," Lex said, groaning.
"Do you think they'll be happier if they end up losing everything else?" Aster asked snidely, earning a short glare from the green Gargoyle. "If not then stop whining. Liberty Island is isolated and far away from any populace, so if the spell does blow up then hopefully the devastation and risk of lives will be low."
Goliath nodded. "The safety of others does take precedence over mere landmarks, Lexington."
"Somehow, I doubt the Historical society is gonna see it that way," Lex said nervously.
"Anyway," Aster continued. "We'll set up the trap there. Demona, Darlene and myself will cast the spell. With a bit of luck, once the spell takes hold and the rift in space and time is opened, the Entity will come and we can take him down."
"I still believe we should look for another plan… " Goliath started, but Aster was quick to interrupt.
"We do not have time for another plan, Goliath!" Aster shouted. "Every second that the Entity remains here in your world, the more chance it has of destroying it! We need to strike him down now and be done with it, otherwise the next minute could be your last!"
"Well, like it or not, your plan will have to wait for another night, Aster!" Goliath shouted back. "There's not enough night left for us to carry out your plan, and we first need to give time for Demona and Darlene to prepare for the spell."
Aster hissed, as he paced back and forth. Since he had gotten the clan to agree with him in taking down the Entity, his obsession with completing his plan seemed to be slowly consuming him, something that hadn't gone unnoticed by anyone.
"Fine!" Aster finally relented. "We'll do it tomorrow."
"Tomorrow…?" Goliath, but Aster interrupted him.
"Yes, tomorrow! The spell is not that complicated so it won't take long to learn, and everything is simple enough to set up, and the sooner we set it, the sooner your world and every other world will be safe, okay?"
Goliath frowned for a moment, but nodded in agreement.
"Great," Aster said. "Now, about Darlene and Demona… I'll call them and let them know what they have to do to prepare for the spell. You have Owen arrange to bring any and all of the weapons he can afford to spare… "
"Weapons?" Broadway asked in confusion.
"We can't afford to take any chances. When the Entity eventually figures out what we're doing, or what we're trying to do, he'll hit us with everything he's got."
"We have never had to resort to such violent acts before," Lexington retorted. He knew their coming fight with the Entity was bound to be a bloody one, and although the thought of using any of Xanatos' high-tech was appealing to him; the idea of using such underhanded and violent acts was disconcerting to him.
"Desperate times call for desperate measures," Aster told him simply. "We won't get any second chances with this plan, so it's important to get it right the first time."
Goliath nodded. "Aster is right. In fact, when you call Darlene, have her and Demona look up any other spells that might aid us."
"Good idea," the young traveller said agreeably, and had already moved over to the telephone.
Brooklyn stared for a moment unbelieving at his leader. "You certainly changed your tune quickly," he said.
"Believe me, I am as happy about this as anyone," Goliath whispered to him. "But sadly, what Aster says makes sense. We won't get any second chances with this."
Brooklyn sighed, but nodded. "So what do we do now?"
"What Aster said, gather as many resources as we can and prepare for battle!"
Darlene listened intently, as Aster revealed to her their plan.
"I understand," she replied. "I'll have mother bring out all her books to research on any spells that might help us. I should have something for you by tomorrow night."
With that, she hung up and looked over to where Griff was still chatting with Jarred, and bouncing Gem on his knee.
"More trouble?" he asked her.
"Nothing as of yet," she mused. "But I doubt it's far behind. Aster wants me and mother to find out any other spells that might help us defeat this Entity of his. Seems he's not taking any chances. As well as having spells from us, he's asked Xanatos to provide with al the latest weapons he's got."
Griff cocked an eyeridge. "Sounds as if he's preparing for World War III."
She nodded. "The thought had occurred to me."
"Are you going to ask for your mother's help now?"
She shook her head. "I'll give her a few minutes more. When she's in this type of mood, it's never a good idea to disturb her." She then grinned. "I maybe brave, but I'm not suicidal." Eliciting a chuckle from all of them gathered.
From the other side of the building though, a keen ear that had been listening intently to Darlene's conversation with Aster gently placed the telephone she had been holding back into its cradle.
Demona sat still for a moment, chewing her lower lip thoughtfully, before she picked up the phone again and began dialling.
A few moments later, another phone started ringing across town, someone picked up and answered. "Hello?"
"The time has come," Demona replied. "I need you to relay the information to your employers."
A short time passed before the voice on the other end answered. "You do realise the risk I'm taking here?"
"As you said last time," Demona snidely responded. "But rest assured, you will be more than well reimbursed for all your trouble. That and more."
A sigh came from the other end. "Fine. What would you have me do?"
Cecile stirred the water in her cauldron, calling upon the image of the clan, but was finding it difficult. No doubt the magic of that confounded Fey was trying to mask their presence, and prevent the Venes from seeing them.
It was nothing she couldn't deal with though. From all the magic that her family had gathered over the aeons, there was no spell she could handle. It would just take a little time in trying to figure out what spell to use. Fey were notoriously tricky, and because they themselves were composed of pure magic, their spells proved a challenge to counteract. Not impossible, but hard nonetheless.
The balcony doors of their room-windows opened, indicating the return of her favourite muscle-bound Gargoyle.
Thailog walked over into her room, bowing respectfully before her.
"Your report?" she simply asked, not even bothering to look up at him.
"The alternate clan have seemingly agreed to my… proposition," he told her. "For the moment they are taking my orders and have agreed not to attack anymore humans."
Cecile shrugged. "Good. At least we don't have to worry about that no more."
"What about your… " Thailog paused, wondering what to all the little girl that the alternative had abducted, the one with a demon in her.
"Sarah is confined to her room for the moment," Cecile told him. "Her visions will prove invaluable to future dealings with the clan, but at the moment I'm just a little bit concerned about that creature that came with that new Gargoyle."
"You fear its power?"
Cecile looked up dangerously at him. "No Vene worth their blood fears any kind of power," she hissed. "However, I did sense a lot of energy within him. Normally, those of my kin would do all they could to usurp and absorb his power into ours, but his aura is different from any we have encountered before. It's like he exists and yet does not exist at the same time."
Thailog was about to ask something else, but before he could, the phone rang.
Cecile answered it. "Hello? Yes, pass it through."
She waited a moment, and then raised her eyebrows in surprise. "Lightning," she mused. "Well, well, to what do I owe this pleasure? I have no job for you."
A few minutes passed, as Cecile listened intently to the voice of her family's own personal thief.
"Really?" she said, seemingly fascinated by what Lightning aka Brent Maza was telling her. "Well, this is certainly a great help to us, but tell me… What does she get out of this?"
A few seconds later, she chuckled loudly. "Should have known," she mused. "Very well, tell her we agree to her demands. And let it not be said that we Venes are ever ungrateful for your help, Lightning. $10,000 enough? Don't go giving me that, I'm only willing to pay so much for just a bit of info. Take it or leave it!"
She smiled, as Lightning seemingly agreed to her offer. "Thought you'd see it my way. Thanks for your help." She hung up.
Thailog looked at her with a cocked eyeridge. "Some news?"
Cecile just smiled at him. "Seems we've caught ourselves a break concerning the clan and that Entity fellow."
"I'll explain later, but for now call your troops," Cecile stood tall, her grin never-ending. "Tomorrow we're going to be busy."
Next Day; The Labyrinth:
Elisa waited at the entrance to the Labyrinth. She had arrived a few minutes earlier, meeting one of the clones who had even now gone to find her brother.
The detective sighed. Unknown to the clan, she had been spending a lot of time researching at the precinct, and had even gotten Xanatos to help out with his underworld connections. She didn't like to keep secrets from Goliath or the others, but this was a personal thing she had to do.
A few moments later, Talon aka Derek Maza arrived at the doors to the Labyrinth.
Every time when Elisa saw him and the eye-patch that now covered his eye from where those demon-snakes had ripped it out, she still shuddered.
"Hey, sis," he greeted her.
Elisa however did not greet him with her usual cheerfulness, which indicated to him instantly that something was wrong.
"What's up?" he asked.
"I found him," she simply replied.
Talon kept silent for a moment, and then added, "Did you bring the van?"
"It's ready and waiting up top."
Half Hour Later; Penthouse Apartment:
Sash was sitting in the lounge idly touching up her nails, while Brent aka Lightning the thief was in the other room with his daughter.
A few moments later, the doorbell rang.
Sash looked up, as Brent walked in looking suspicious and on edge. "Expecting someone?" she asked.
"No, and that's the problem," Brent replied. Being a thief meant you had to have your eyes constantly open unless you wanted to get caught by the police, or worse by rival gangs and cat-burglars. There was always the odd rival who would attempt to get the drop on you, especially if you were the current top thief in the business. Brent had already had several other burglars break into his home to either steal something he had already stolen, or to make way for them to be the next top cat burglar.
Brent indicated Sash to go into the room where his daughter, Hannah, was, before heading over to the front door. He reached it, pausing to look through the peephole.
'Elisa!' he thought, recognising his sister instantly. 'Damn it!'
He immediately turned around, preparing to head back to his daughter's room, only to be stopped by the second surprise of that day…
The glass-door of the balcony shattered open, and a large cat-like creature on two legs and with giant bat-wings came striding in.
"Sorry about the mess, little bro," the creature said. Just the sight of it would be enough to shock anyone into oblivion, if Brent was not already used to seeing such beasts around Manhattan, but the voice was enough to do so. It had matured a lot on years, but Brent recognised any voice of his kin.
"Derek?" Brent said in amazement.
Just then, the front door banged open, as Elisa kicked it in. She came in with her gun drawn, but soon stopped when she saw both of her younger brothers still in the room.
"We have some unfinished business you and I, Brent," she greeted her youngest sibling.
A low cry came from one of the other rooms, and just when Elisa and Derek/Talon looked over to see, the door also burst open, revealing a Goth-girl armed with a pistol aimed right at them.
"Drop it and kiss the floor!" she shouted, her finger on the trigger.
Elisa cocked her eyebrow at her. "Been watching one too many cop shows I take it?"
Sash glared at the woman in the red jacket and pulled the safety trigger off the pistol.
"Hold it, Sash!" Brent cried out, signalling her to stand down. "Let's hear what my siblings here have to say?"
"Siblings?" Sash asked, her eyes widening.
Brent shrugged. "Yeah, Sash meet Derek, my brother." He pointed over to the large cat-like thing with the eye-patch.
Sash blinked. "Dude, you seriously have got one twisted family, you know that."
"Apparently more so than even I believed," Brent replied, and signalled her to go back into the room. Once she had gone, he turned back to his brother and sister. "So… to what do I owe the pleasure of this little meeting?"
Elisa then walked straight up to her youngest brother, grabbing him by the shirt and forcing him into a chair. "An explanation for starters!" she demanded.
"An explanation for what?" Brent asked, unmoved by his sister's manhandling.
Elisa glared at him. "About why you have forsaken everything our parents always taught us to believe in!" she explained. "A thief, Brent… How could you descend into that?"
Brent glared back at her. "Don't talk about things you know nothing about, Lise!" he said, using the nickname he had called her as children. "I noticed you're not doing too badly. Smart clothes, a comfortable apartment, handsome salary… When was the last time you ever had to beg on the streets for food?"
"You could have had it all, too, if you had just gone home!" she retorted.
"Fat chance of that!" he swore. "After what dad did, I wouldn't go home for all the tea in China!"
Talon sighed. "Brent," he started. "We are sorry for what happened, but… Dad had no control over what happened to Sally. It was just the way things were back then. If he had known, he would have figured something else out."
"Spare me!" his brother spat. "You all told me to put trust in the law, so I did. What's more, I put all my trust in dad, and what did he do? He allowed them to take her back to her folks, and into her grave!"
Talon and Elisa both exhaled. The memory of that day was painful to all in their family. Neither of them had expected the law to ever actually give Sally back to her parents, considering the charges brought up against them, but they had been smart and well connected, and Elisa's father suspected they had bribed some of the jury or even the judge himself.
"There was nothing more we could do," Elisa said, almost pleading. "We couldn't keep Sally from her folks after the verdict was given. Keeping her would have been a crime. We tried… "
"Don't go giving me anymore of your excuses, Lise!" Brent seethed. "Sally trusted me to help her, I trusted you all to help me help her, and you end up delivering her right back into their hands!"
Elisa closed her eyes for a whole minute then opened them. "I know, Brent," she added. "And believe me, there isn't a second that goes by when none of us, me, Derek here, dad, mom and even Beth don't regret it with every fibre of our being. But what's done is done! Sally's dead! She can never come back nor is there anything more we can do to help her. But at least take some comfort in the fact that what happened to her helped wake up some of the idiots in the justice system. The police take extra special care now whenever dealing with an abused child, and never send them anywhere where they feel she might not be safe."
Brent just stared at her. "A pity they didn't realise it sooner," he just said.
Elisa sighed and looked at Talon.
"But none of this explains why you fell into a life of crime, Brent," Talon added. "You, like the rest of us, always knew that crime didn't pay. How many hours did we have to deal with dad teaching us that lessons?"
Brent scoffed. "From my experience, crime pays rather well actually."
"But why?" Elisa nearly pleaded. "Couldn't you have got some other work, and what the hell did you do to yourself? How could you allow yourself to become a guinea pig in a lab experiment?"
Brent stiffened, as though uncomfortable. "That's my business."
"And what about the kid… Your daughter Hannah?"
Brent looked up at her. "She's none of your business either!" he hotly replied.
"She's our niece," Talon stated calmly, coming nearer his brother. "That makes it our business. Please, let us help!"
"I have everything under control!"
"You call being a criminal under control?" Elisa insisted.
Brent didn't look at her. "You do what you have to do to survive."
"And what about her mother, who was she?"
Brent kept silent, but Elisa's persistence wouldn't allow him any rest.
"Well?" she demanded.
Brent sighed. "Her name was Hannah," he admitted. "We met while we were living on the streets together. She'd run away from a foster home. Sash, who you met just now, came… Well, I don't know where she came from. She never talks about her past, and I never ask, but anyway… Hannah and I met, eventually we sorta dated, and then she told me I was gonna be a dad." Brent looked at them with a humourless smile on his face. "Nearly made me wanna do a runner then, I can tell you."
"Seems to be what you're good at," Elisa replied, but a nudge from Talon silenced her.
Brent ignored them and continued with his story. "Times were tough, we had barely any food and rarely a roof over our heads. I did whatever work I could find, and before you ask, no it wasn't anything illegal that time. It was what you would call 'honest work'. It was only after that I went off the rails… "
Brent paused for a moment. "After Hannah died… The birth was difficult. She didn't make it."
Elisa was silent for a few minutes, until finally she said… "I'm sorry."
Brent just shrugged. "It wasn't as though we were really in love, you know," he explained. "We were never actually lovers. We were just two kids living on the streets. We would take comfort wherever we could find it. Unfortunately, comfort like all things sometimes comes with a price. In our case, it was little Hannah."
"So you turned to a life of crime to help support your daughter, when you could have just come home and asked for help."
Brent gave her another glare. "I told you once, and I'll tell you a thousand times… Nothing will ever make me go back home!"
"Not even your own daughter?"
Brent stiffened again, but said nothing to that. He only carried on with his story. "I started looking for any kind of work I could find, including the not so legal jobs. Eventually, I heard about some doc who was looking for volunteers and paying big money for their services. I was desperate, so I agreed."
Elisa started to get stiff herself, but kept herself composed.
"He did some stuff, injected me with some chemicals. Next thing I know, I'm making sparklers with my hands. Came in quite handy in a few robberies, I can tell you."
"And the Venes?" she asked. "How did they come into all this?"
Brent looked uncomfortable. "Shortly after I first got these… powers, I started feeling queasy. I managed to go to another doctor at some refuge, but he could do nothing for me. He couldn't understand what was happening to me, and said I would need to see a specialist at a hospital for me to find out, but obviously I couldn't do that without getting caught by the cops. So I stayed hidden, and without medical treatment my condition worsened. I was almost dead by the time the Venes found me… "
"And how did they find you?" Talon asked suddenly.
"In an alley if you can believe," Brent shrugged. "They claimed they were looking for some new agents to replace some ones they had lost. They asked what I would be willing to give in exchange for life. I told them what I needed way more than life… I needed cash, and lots of it." He paused for a second, smiling. "That seemed to amuse them, so they cut me a deal. They would heal me, but not only that they would also increase my power, allowing me complete control over it. With it I could do anything, so long as I served them whenever they called, but… they would pay for my services as well."
"So you sold your soul for money," Elisa said disappointedly.
"I'd hardly call it selling my soul, sis," Brent retorted. "But I was dying, in case you forgot, I had a daughter to support and no way of doing so. I did what I had to do, end of story."
"And where is your daughter then?" Talon asked. "Do we get to meet our little niece?"
"I would rather you not," Brent said, again uncomfortably.
"Why? Embarrassed to show us to her? Or vice versa?"
"No!" Brent shouted. "But… Well, there's one other little thing I haven't mentioned."
Brent didn't answer, as he merely got up and walked over to the bedroom door, opening it and showing them in.
Elisa and Talon shared a look before going in.
Sash was on the floor playing with a little girl. She spared them a glance, but a look from Brent told her not to react.
"This is Hannah," Brent said, coming over to the toddler child. She had his dark hair and eyes, with tanned skin just a tone lighter than his.
"Hello?" Talon greeted warmly. He was worried that the girl might be spooked by his appearance, but then again she wasn't even three yet so who knows? So far, she hadn't made any response, nor had she even looked at them.
"Hiya?" Elisa added, but still the girl didn't look at them.
They shared a look, but Brent quickly explained. "She doesn't look at anyone."
His brother and sister looked at him.
"She's autistic," he said. "Need anymore explanation as to why I chose this particular form of career?"
Elisa and Talon froze for a moment. In truth, they did begin to understand a little better. The idea of one of their own family being a criminal was still unthinkable to them, but at least now they knew why he had turned to it. Living on the streets as a single parent was bad enough, but living on the streets as a single parent to a child that was also autistic was almost impossible.
"Surely there must have been people you could have gone to, like charities…" Elisa began, but Brent quickly cut her off.
"And they would have wanted to know all my life history, why I was on the streets in the first place and everything. I know all about those places, Lise. I had no desire to be caught anymore than I do now."
Talon stared at his niece, as the one called Sash played with her. "Why didn't you call me then?" he then asked. "You knew I would never have betrayed you by telling mom and dad. I never did before. Why didn't you trust me?"
Brent sighed. "I did trust you... when I was a kid, Derek. But… I couldn't be certain I could trust you then. Time changes a person, as it did me, so for all I knew you could have grown up into the dedicated cop that dad and Elisa were."
Derek paused then, seeing as he had been a cop. It hadn't been something he really wanted to do, but he had done so because it was what Elisa and his father had both wanted for him, and he had been eager to please them.
"Why do you still do it though?" Elisa then asked. "You clearly have more than enough to support yourself, your daughter and even your friend here. Why are you still going around stealing?"
Brent shrugged again. "Most of the people I work for are not the kind you want to say no to, especially the Venes, as I'm sure you've found out already. But also… " He grinned. "I also get a thrill out of it."
Elisa looked disgusted. "So you go around stealing other people's property because it gives you a thrill?"
"Hey, I only steal from those who can afford it, sis," Brent said indignantly. "The people I've stolen from, I doubt they even notice. Hell, they probably have more in their old trust-funds than what I took from them."
"Stealing is stealing, Brent! It doesn't matter who it's from or for what reason. A crime is a crime."
"If you're gonna start preaching law school again, you can show yourselves the way out."
Elisa then gave him a hard look. "No, Brent. I'm a cop, and if I had any sense in me I would haul your ass to jail right now, but… "
"But you know I'd take precautions, right?" Brent said, smiling. "I know about your involvement with those Gargoyle things. If I go down, I'll be sure to take you with me."
Elisa didn't even look at him. "Figures you would, but that's not the reason. My friends and I are all in the middle of a war, Brent, a war with the Venes. You've worked for them so you know what a threat they are to everyone. They've already killed numerous people. Hell, they let loose a dragon for Pete's sake on the whole of Manhattan!"
Brent looked up at them.
"We don't have time for this sort of thing, but… " Elisa looked crestfallen. "I just wanted to know why, why you had forsaken everything dad taught us, why you do what you do. I guess I just wanted to understand."
She then turned around. "I'm sorry about what happened to your friend Sally, and all that's happened to you since then. Most of all I'm sorry about your daughter, but… I'm a cop, Brent, sworn to uphold the law. So I give you this one and only warning… Stop what you're doing. If I catch you thieving again, no matter what the reason, then brother or not, I will catch you and take you down, okay?"
Brent didn't answer.
"Okay?" she repeated, more forcefully.
"Fine," Brent replied.
Elisa nodded, and then looked to Talon who nodded back and began making his way over to the balcony to begin his glide home, while she headed for the front door.
"Oh, Elisa!" Brent called out. "Before you go, word of advice… "
Elisa looked back to him.
"Take care and grow eyes at the back of your head. You never know who's going to sneak up on you." Brent smiled. "Most of all, you may wanna keep an extra eye out for some lady friend of yours. Apparently, she's got her own agenda."
Elisa looked at him curiously, but still she said nothing, and then continued making her way out.
"Aren't you gonna ask him who?" Talon asked her.
"Why bother?" she said. "He'd never give us a straight answer." She paused, as she and Talon were about to part company, as he would return to the Labyrinth while she went home. "Oh, Brent?"
Her brother looked up from where he was now playing with Hannah.
"Just so you know… mom and dad know about Hannah. They also know everything else. It wasn't easy explaining their son was now a criminal, but they took it fairly well… They also said that if I ever saw you again, to tell you… "
"That I'm a disgrace to the family, to never darken their doorstep again, yadda, yadda, yadda," Brent added, sounding bored.
"No," Elisa replied emotionlessly. "They said they want you to know that they forgive you for any mistakes you have made, and ask that one day you will consider forgiving them, too. They also want to extend an invitation for you to one day visit them. They would like to meet their granddaughter someday, and to see you again, too."
With that, she turned and finally made her way out, leaving Brent behind to watch as she and Talon/Derek left the apartment.
Eyrie Building; Sunset:
The last rays of daylight faded away over the horizon, and the first cracks along the clan's structures appeared.
Goliath roared, as he came to life, showering the stone-floor of the castle's highest tower with his shedded skin.
"Never get tired of that," he heard Elisa's voice say behind him. Smiling, he turned around and saw her looking at him.
"My Elisa," he greeted her, holding out his arms towards her, to which she responded, accepting his warm embrace gratefully. "Are you well?"
Elisa sighed. "Depends on how you rate fine."
"What do you mean?"
"I went to see Brent today," she told him, not quite meeting his gaze as she did so.
Goliath's eyes went wide a little, but didn't flare up thankfully. He looked more surprised than angry. "Your brother? What happened?"
She sighed again. "I… I didn't want to say, as I knew you wouldn't want me going after anyone even remotely involved with the Venes. But this was personal, Goliath. No matter what mistakes he's made, Brent's still my brother. I had to speak with him."
"I understand that, but what happened?"
"I asked Xanatos to keep an eye out and let me know if and when he got any information about where Brent would be living. He found out earlier today from some old colleagues of his, and Derek and I got together and went to go see him. We talked about what had happened to him after he left home, how he got involved with the Vene and such. I even met his daughter, my niece…" She paused.
"She's autistic, Goliath," she admitted. "When I found out, I found my views on Brent getting changed all over again."
"How do you mean?"
Elisa frowned, throwing up her arms in exasperation. "I don't know," she swore. "I'm a cop, Goliath, sworn to uphold the law. I've always believed that anyone who does a crime should be taken down, let justice prevail and all that. But now…" She moaned. "I just never thought one of my own family would be on the receiving end of the law. It just seems so… so wrong! None of us have ever been in trouble before."
"That's perfectly understandable," Goliath said honestly. "You spent your whole life hunting criminals. You just never expected one of them to be one of your own clan."
"I don't know what will happen if Brent gets arrested, Goliath," Elisa said lowly. "The kind of charges he would be facing would be enough to have him put away for at least a good decade or so. And if he got arrested, I don't know what it would do to mom and dad. They're taking the news that he's a thief bad enough as it is, but now… I'm starting to wonder if maybe I would have done the same thing as him if I had been in the same situation."
Goliath looked shocked. "I don't believe that for one minute," he said insistently.
"Don't be so sure, Goliath," she countered. "I mean, put yourself in Brent's shoes for a moment… You're young, you think your family's betrayed you, you're living on the streets, starving, you just found out you're gonna be a dad, then when the kid comes along it turns out to have special needs and your girlfriend is dead. Your options are limited, you can't go home and you're all alone. So… what would you do?"
Goliath hesitated. "I'm… not sure," he admitted finally.
"I don't think anyone would be in that kind of situation," she said, sighing. "I'm torn, Goliath. The part of me that's a cop is screaming at me to arrest him and take him in, yet the other part…"
"Still views him as your brother," Goliath finished for her. "And you cannot help but feel pity for him and his plight."
She sighed again. "What would you do, Goliath?"
The Manhattan clan leader frowned. "To be honest, I'm not so sure," he relented. "I doubt anyone would until they were in that situation. In the past, I often had to deal with those of my rookery siblings who did some crime and had to be punished, Coldsteel among them, and it was hard for me to pass judgement over them."
"But you did in the end, didn't you?" she deduced.
Goliath nodded. "As leader I could do nothing else. But… it was never easy, having to pass judgement over those who I had grown up with, even Coldsteel. And I often wonder whether I could do it again if I had to."
"So you're saying I should swallow my doubt and turn Brent in?"
"No," Goliath explained. "I am merely telling you what I did in the past, but what I did then does not necessarily mean it will work the same for you. Times are different, and human law is not always the same as Gargoyle law." He sighed, as he looked at his wife. "Only you can make this decision for yourself, my Elisa. And when in doubt, trust your instincts and follow your heart."
Elisa bit her lower lip and opened her mouth to speak again, when…
"Goliath!" Aster's voice called up. "We need to get everything ready! You coming?"
"I will be right there!" Goliath yelled back to him.
"When will we be departing?" Elisa then asked.
Goliath turned to his wife. "My Elisa," he said seriously. "Forgive me, but I must ask you not to come with us on this mission."
"What?" she said, looking at him in shock. "Why?"
"This Entity sounds as dangerous as the Venes if not more," Goliath' worried eyes stared at her. "All the clan will be there, so there is no need for you to be there also."
"Goliath, I have faced terrible dangers before," Elisa said, looking annoyed. "I face them every night as well when I'm on the clock. Why should this be any different?"
"Elisa, please!" Goliath said earnestly. "Just this once, please, stay away. I could not bear it if anything happened to you. The rest of the clan will be with me so I will not be alone, and you yourself said that you still have your brother to attend to."
Elisa's expression looked lost for a moment, but for once it seemed that fate was on Goliath's side, as she sighed and nodded.
"All right, just this once," she relented. "But if you're not home by supper-time, I'll be coming looking for you, okay?"
Goliath smiled. "Of course."
The clan had all rushed with the preparation for the Entity's trap, first going to Xanatos and Owen to collect all the high-tech weapons he had promised them, and then waiting for Darlene and Demona to arrive with all their mystic items.
Demona had seemed quietly reserved, refusing to speak to anyone, even to her own daughters. Angela and Darlene had both been concerned, but at the moment they were too busy with other things. They promised each other that they would talk to their mother after the battle… assuming they were still alive that is.
"You sure this will work?" Broadway asked Aster, as he heaved some weapon of Xanatos's over to the other side of the building.
"Nothing is certain when the Entity is concerned," Aster replied simply.
Broadway snorted. "You know, you could have lied just then, just to spare us the truth?"
Aster shrugged. "Sorry."
Demona and Darlene had helped Aster in sorting through the incantations for the required spell in enhancing the magic of the Phoenix Gate. Goliath and the others had preferred to stay out of that, as none of them were trained in sorcery or had ever had any good experience with magic.
Demona sprinkled some incense over the Egyptian symbols drawn into the circle on the head of Lady Liberty. This was part of the ritual spell was needed for enhancing one's own abilities.
"Everything ready?" Aster said, mostly addressing Darlene instead of Demona, still finding it uncomfortable to be around her. It was hard to look upon one who he had once been obsessed with hunting down in his own universe, only to fail and in a way help destroy it. He had seen many alternate versions of his dark grandmother from countless realities, some good and some bad, but each one he saw had been and was a constant reminder of his biggest and greatest disgrace of a failure. It also served to remind him that his world was now gone forever.
Darlene nodded. "Everything is ready." If Demona minded him ignoring her then she didn't show it.
From beyond them, Arthur and Griff were watching the skies. The clan had decided to gather all the forces they could muster, with the exception of Xanatos who didn't want to risk leaving his family in case the clan should fail, and Lana who had stayed behind to watch over her younger siblings, with Gabriel with her.
Aster nodded back at her and then looked over to where Goliath was watching. The rest of the clan and their allies were all in their respective positions, awaiting the eventual arrival of Aster's long-time enemy.
"Everyone set?" Aster asked everyone. The unsure looks he got from the clan were, he guessed, the best he could do for confirmation. "All right then. Let's do this!"
Aster walked up to the circle drawn on the head of Lady Liberty, withdrawing a scroll of paper from his loincloth, along with his Phoenix Gate. At once, he began reciting from the words written upon it, speaking in a language that none could identify. It could have been an ancient language similar to one from their own world, but since the spell had originated from another universe, who could tell?
As Aster completed the last verse of the spell, he held out the Gate in front of him in his paw. "Deflegrate muri tempi et intervallia!"
All at once, a large ball of fire emitted from the Gate, which grew until it had consumed the Gate and then proceeded to continue growing until it was twice the size of Lady Liberty's own torch.
Suddenly, there was something of an explosion that occurred right within the ball of fire, and all the flames were seemingly sucked into some kind of portal within the ball. The flames continued to burn inside the portal, but aside from that it was all darkness.
"The rift's open!" Aster yelled over the roar of the portal and the flames. "Now all we can do is wait for the Entity to pick up the bait!"
The Entity stood on the rooftop of one of the many towers of the concrete isle they called New York, Manhattan. He looked out to the horizon, eyeing distastefully the city before him. Out of all the dimensions he had visited previously, he had to say this one was one of the more pitifully small cities he had ever seen.
He frowned, as he continued to ponder how he was going to deal with his hitchhiker, the one called Aster, when…
The Entity stiffened, as it felt the pull of… something, tugging at its subconscious. It didn't know what it was, but it could feel it calling to him.
Driven by instinct and its own curiosity, the Entity listened to its senses, allowing them to lead it to the source of the summoning.
Aster stood where he was, the laser-gun that Xanatos had supplied him with in his claw, anxiously clicking the safety on and off.
Brooklyn looked at him in concern. "You okay?" he asked.
Aster just replied with a shrug, and Brooklyn knew now was not the time to start conversations, not when the Entity could show up any minute.
"Here he comes!" Broadway shouted.
And apparently that time had now come.
"Everyone, take your positions!" Goliath ordered.
The Entity had felt the pull of the strange energy calling to it, but even it had not imagined the magnitude of what it would be, the enormous portal of darkness, surrounded by a circle of burning flames.
The portal seemed to exist outside of space and time, hence the reason why it had felt drawn to it. Such anomalies were like magnets to the Entity.
"Glad you could make it, slug-face!" the obnoxious voice of his would-be nemesis, Aster, cried out to it.
The Entity sighed and looked below him. "I take it this carnival trick is of your doing, master Aster?"
Its only answer was a shot from some laser that pierced the Entity's shoulder, singeing it. It gazed at its burnt shoulder for a moment, as the wound quickly healed and vanished.
"I'll take that as a yes," it simply added, and then roared as it dove down on him.
Aster was quick to dodge the Entity's charge, and the Entity was so focused on him that it did not notice the other clan-members near by.
Angela and the trio roared at the dimension travelling beast, each armed with some of the weapons that Xanatos had supplied them with. Most of them were high-tech lasers, and electrical guns to fire energy-nets on the beast.
The Entity swung from side to side to avoid the young ones' attacks, but the young warriors were quick to adapt. Goliath and Hudson had trained them all well.
It seethed, as Brooklyn fired the first of his energy-nets on it. The pain of the electrical field sent shivers through it, but the Entity soon hoisted the net off with a mental blast, but Brooklyn's attack was only the first of many to come.
Broadway roared, as he fired one of his own shots together with Brooklyn and the others, Aster beside him.
While all this was going on, Demona and Darlene were working quickly to recast Aster's spell to enhance the strongest containment spell that they had found in Demona's vast collection of mystical incantations. The spell they had found was supposed to be strong enough to contain any creature of supernatural force. Of course, the mages who had conducted this spell had most likely never met the Entity, but with Aster's spell it just might do the job.
Arthur gave a battle cry of his own, as he swung Excalibur, neatly clipping the end-talon of the creature.
Darlene recited the spell from the scroll that Aster had given them right after he had cast the spell the first time, while Demona prepared to cast the containment spell. For some reason, she seemed almost disinterested in current events, but did as instructed by continuously reciting the incantation.
The Entity was more focused on the battle between it and the rest of the clan, so it did not notice the two sorceresses in the midst of their spell casting. Darlene read out the last of the enhancement ritual, as Demona once more recited the containment spell.
A dark red cloud began to take form in front of Demona, which then started to float away to where Demona's sights were centred on, namely on the Entity. It hovered quickly over to the dimensional creature where it began to grow, spread out and take effect.
The Entity discovered its presence all too late.
The blood-red cloud had enveloped the Entity, and before the Entity even had a chance to strike out, the cloud seemed to take on a life of its own, as it crackled with yellow lightning, striking at the Entity first.
The travelling monster roared in anguish, as it struck out against the cloud, but none of its power seemed to have any effect. It was like it was trapped inside red sand, for whenever it attempted to move; it felt like it was crushing him.
"Moan all you want, bastard, but you're not getting out of there!" Aster roared back at him, as the Entity continued thrashing about within the cloud of smoke.
"How?" it hissed.
"I didn't spend all those years travelling around infinite worlds without learning a thing or two," Aster smirked.
The rest of the clan kept their assorted weapons aimed at the Entity, none of them faltering for even a second, until Broadway finally spoke. "What do we do with… him, now?" he asked.
"I'd slit his throat if that were even possible," Aster quietly replied. The clan all hoped he was joking, but the look in his eyes told them otherwise.
"Seriously," Goliath added. "What are we to do with him? This beast can't be killed."
"So we'll have to keep it contained?" Brooklyn said in disbelief. "You're saying we gotta be stuck with this thing living under our roof for the rest of our lives?"
"I don't think you need worry about that, Brooklyn," Demona's soft yet steel-edged voice said from behind him.
"Huh…?" Brooklyn turned around, but didn't even get to see what she was talking about…
"Dominatai Hostus, May-e-u-be status!" Demona cried out, using the spell known to Goliath very well, as he remembered it from the time when the British Gargoyle Una had used it on him, Elisa, Angela and Bronx in London. A trail of electricity shot out from her talons, striking all of the clan simultaneously, electrifying the lot of them.
As Goliath fell to the ground in a heap, his last sight was of Demona, her face unreadable. But he saw her looking over to where Darlene now lay, and heard her say… "Forgive me, daughter," before he passed out.
"You did well, Demona… or is it Miss Destine now?"
Goliath could vaguely make out the arrogant voice of the Vene girl, Cecile, coming from somewhere. He tried to open his eyes, but his head was still pounding from the shock spell that Demona had laid on them. It took him a few moments, but eventually he forced them to open.
Once he had done, though, he wished he hadn't.
All around him were his enemies, the Venes, the alternate versions of himself and the others from his clan, and Thailog, while Goliath's clan, including Griff and Aster, were all lying seemingly unconscious right beside him.
Darlene and Angela seemed to be tied up somewhere ahead of them, nearer to where his enemies were all stationed. It didn't take him long to figure out why.
Demona was standing right before him, practically hand in claw with the female Vene, acting as though she had just completed a business deal.
"You recall the details of our arrangement," Demona said to the young girl. "Neither you nor Thailog," she said his name with venom in her voice, glaring daggers at the cloned warrior beside the young sorceress, "will go after me or any of my family."
"As promised," Cecile confirmed, nodding. "You and your kin are safe from mine."
As Goliath peered closer, he noticed the small Seer demon-child, Sarah Foster, standing between the two Gargoyle doubles of Brooklyn and Broadway. She did not look scared, but then she never looked anything. The years of being the Vene's slave, and being bound to a demon, had drained her of any and all emotion within her.
The two savages were staring at Darlene and Angela with their usual lustful glares, something that didn't go unnoticed by Demona who stood right between them and her daughters, snarling at them viciously.
Cecile gave a small grin, but raised her hand at the Gargoyles, indicating that they were not to go any further to the fair-haired and young Gargesses.
"Demona!" Goliath growled, his strength returning. "You… betrayed us… again!"
Demona did not even turn around, but merely replied, "I do what I do to protect my clan, Goliath, as you yourself should know better than anyone."
Goliath snarled, but was still not strong enough to raise himself.
"I should've known better than to trust any dimensional version of that flame-headed witch!" Goliath heard Aster swore beside him, and for once he heartily agreed with him.
"Enough talk for the moment," Cecile declared, and walked over to where the Entity was still bound in his magical cloud. "You and I have things to discuss, my travelling friend."
"What do you seek from me?" the Entity asked, curiously.
"A creature with your ability to move through other realities would prove to be most beneficial to my family," Cecile explained. "I'm certain my father would have great use for you. Swear to serve my clan, and we will grant you your freedom."
"I serve no one!" the Entity hissed.
"Not even to gain your own freedom?" Cecile smirked. "And rest assured, in return for your services, my family would be more than happy to supply you with all the souls you can digest."
The Entity paused at that, as the idea of getting free so that he might escape one day was good enough, but the notion of having all the souls he could eat was priceless. Perhaps it would be best if he stayed around for a while… for now.
"Let's talk," it replied.
Goliath could only lie where he was, glaring at all of them individually. The counterparts of his clan were all busy smirking at them, Thailog just stood perfectly still where he was, and Cecile and her brothers were busy chatting away with the Entity. As a result, no one noticed the way that Demona kept edging away from them.
Excalibur was lying on the ground. Cecile had taken great joy at seeing that when she had first arrived. She had paraded around with it for a few minutes, brandishing it everywhere until she had finally set it down again when she was discussing details with Demona and then the Entity.
It was the sword that Demona was now heading towards, taking care not to let anyone spot her doing do. She soon reached it, picking it up in her talons.
"Now, what shall we do with you?" Cecile then spoke, casually walking over to the clan, smirking at Goliath.
The clan leader roared, as he attempted to raise himself again, but was still unable to, making Cecile laugh.
"Forget it, handsome," she boasted. "While you and your clan slept, I enchanted you all so that you would all be weak and helpless as kittens for hours to come. It is in this state that you shall remain until your fates are decided."
Demona began heading over towards the portal, which was still open, its flames still burning and being sucked within the abyss.
"I can think of a few things that your counterparts here would love to do to you," she said, continuing to smile, as Adhamh and the counter Gargoyles all grinned nastily at the Manhattan clan. The way Adhamh brandished his own sword was enough to chill Goliath's blood, particularly when he saw him looking at one of the trio.
"Stay away from them!" he demanded.
Adhamh just grinned at him. "Care to fill me in on how you'd be able to stop me, lad?"
While he was talking, Demona raised Excalibur above her head and began chanting…
She spoke the same incantation, as before and as quickly as possible, which she aimed at the sword. By the time the Venes turned to see what the noise was about, she had already completed the spell.
"What on…?" Cecile Vene started, but before she could fully ask the question, the whole world seemed to explode before her eyes.
In truth, it was not the world, but in fact Excalibur. The sword shone with the light of a thousand suns, as it glowed within Demona's grasp. The immortal Gargess however had her eyes shut, so the light would not bother her, and the next thing she did was fling Excalibur at the portal itself.
"NO!" Cecile cried, raising her hands to retrieve the sword by magic, but was not in time.
The instant Excalibur was pulled into the portal, it exploded with a further force, the flames kicking up with excessive light, followed by the vacuum force increasing to the point where it almost felt like the very head of Lady Liberty was about to be ripped off and pulled in.
The Entity roared, as it whizzed right through the air, landing straight in the centre of the portal, disappearing from view.
"What have you done?" Cecile screamed, as she also felt herself being pulled toward the portal.
Demona snarled at her. "Given you what you wanted, whelp! You desired the power of Excalibur so much, so I gave it to you… after increasing its power almost ten fold!"
The dark counterparts of the clan were the first to go, their exit all the more hastened thanks to the wind and their wings. Goliath's doppelganger roared, as he felt himself soar up into the air, being sucked right into the portal. Adhamh and the alter-trio soon followed, their inhuman roars and snarls echoing behind them.
Cecile screamed, as she tried summoning all her strength and magic to protect or teleport herself, or anything that would save her from the maddening magic before her. But no matter how hard she tried, it appeared Excalibur's magic was stronger than anything she or the entire generations of her family-line had ever encountered.
"Demona!" Goliath yelled, as the Vene's binding spell over them all had faded since Excalibur had been thrown into the portal. "What has happened? What did you do?"
"I used Aster's spell to enhance the magic of Excalibur!" she yelled back, rushing over to her daughters to keep them from being pulled into the portal's grip. "The sword's whole existence is solely for the expulsion of evil! When I cast the spell, it read my mind and is now using the power of the portal to expel all the evil that is here!"
"WHOA!" Lexington yelped, as he was nearly swept up with the rest of the dark clan. "Hey! I know I maybe on the computer a lot, but that doesn't qualify me as evil!"
"The portal must be too powerful now, so it's taking up everyone and everything until all the evil ones are gone!" Demona explained, trying desperately to hold on. She, too, was finding it increasingly difficult to escape the portal's pull. She didn't want to admit it, but all the centuries of dark deeds she had done had more than earned her a place in the portal's grip.
"NOOOO!" Cecile screamed, as she and her brothers felt their grips loosening. The two Vene brothers, Damien and Nathan, were also using every trick they could muster to escape, but to no avail.
"THIS ISN'T OVER, GARGOYLES!" Cecile screamed at them. "MAKE NO MISTAKE! WE WILL BE AVENGED! OUR FATHER, OUR WHOLE FAMILY WILL… AAARGHHH!"
Cecile's screamed her last, as she lost whatever grip she had left on Lady Liberty's stone-hair, soaring straight up into the air and into the portal, her brothers following after her.
From beyond them, Thailog, who had nearer the edge, had already taken flight and escaped. He had been the only one who had noticed Demona edging herself toward Excalibur, and guessed that she was up to something. He had said nothing because deep down, he yearned for the Vene's vanquish more than anything. Being their bitch was definitely not something he looked forward to spending the rest of his life as.
Sarah Foster was not staying where she had been, but was actually apparently edging herself closer to the portal itself.
"Sarah, no!" Goliath yelled, trying to reach her in time. "Get away from there! You'll…!"
"I know, Goliath!" she yelled back. "But this is the way it has to be." She looked back to stare at him sadly. "My life ended long ago, Goliath! My family are all gone, and I am forever bound to the life-force of a demon, one who takes me over and kills whoever crosses its path! If I remain here, that will be my fate for all eternity!"
Goliath stared at her intensely. "We could find a way to help you!"
"No, you won't," she shook her head. "Trust me, I know! I've seen it." She said the last part quieter, but Goliath knew what she was saying, and deep down he knew she was right.
Sarah then got up and threw herself over to the portal, instantly being pulled in.
"Sarah!" Goliath roared, but could do nothing, as the lifelong prisoner of the Venes left their world forever.
But still the portal did not close.
"What's happening?" Darlene shouted, having regained consciousness.
"The portal will not close, it's grown too powerful for me to shut off!" Demona cried out, holding onto the ground with all her might.
"What does that…?"
"It means the portal won't close from this side!" Aster called out to her, looking as though he were getting ready to stand up. "But it may be able to be closed from the other side!"
Goliath turned at stare wide-eyed at him. "No!" he shouted. "We've lost Sarah, we won't lose another one!"
"Don't be such a pansy, Goliath!" Aster said, half-mockingly. "You and I both know it makes perfect sense! What are you gonna do? Let me stay while the rest of your world gets sucked into oblivion?"
"Stay with us, Aster!" Angela's voice pleaded with him through the roar of the portal. "You can make a new home here with us!"
"My home's been gone a long time now, Angela," Aster replied, his lowered to the point where the whole clan had to strain their ear to listen. "And you're not the first clan that's offered me sanctuary. I thank you, but the truth is, I should've have died with the rest of my world years ago. Since I lost my world, I've been living nothing more than a half-life. At least this way, I get to go out with a bang!"
"I won't let you!" Goliath cried, getting up to charge after the young traveller. He had already lost one innocent, he would be damned if he would lose another one.
"Sorry, leader," Aster added, and then with one sharp kick from his foot, he sent Goliath sprawling on the ground. "But time's-A-wasting!" With Goliath gone down, Aster hurried over to the portal, but not before taking one short look at the genetic double of his grandmother.
"Never thought I'd hear myself say this on any world," he then added. "But… thanks, Demona. You've helped me today more than anyone has done in years."
Before Demona could make a response, assuming of course if she had been about to, Aster hurled himself up into the portal's suction. As he past through the portal, he recited the anti-incantation, which would end the spell once and for all. He recited it quickly, but efficiently, and a second later… he was gone.
The flames around the portal began to flare up again, as they circled the black hole within their circle, closing in upon it until finally… The circle seemed to fall in on itself, closing up completely before everyone present. There was a flash and a further explosion, which echoed throughout the entire island and beyond to Manhattan, and then… silence. There was one further sound, but only that of a small clanging, like metal banging against metal, but after that there was no sound to be heard whatsoever.
When the dust had settled, everyone looked up to see the portal gone from sight, with Excalibur lying on the ground where it had been. The sword had obviously been the clanging sound that they had heard last.
The clan slowly got up, moving over to where the portal had been, staring at the place like they would at a grave…
"How?" Darlene finally asked after a few minutes of silence.
"The dragon," Demona simply replied.
"The dragon?" Hudson queried, staring at her curiously.
"When me, the detective and that annoying lawyer were on that blind date with that dragon lord," the immortal explained, "the Venes must have forgotten, or just didn't care, that when the dragon got his mistress, he would bestow upon one a powerful gift of insight or knowledge. I was the last to leave, so he bestowed his gift upon me, and he gave me the ability to foresee what was to come, and how to counter it."
The others just stared at her.
"You've known this was going to happen all along?" Lex said, astounded.
"Not this precisely," she admitted. "But I knew something was going to happen, and I knew the key to defeating all our enemies lay within Excalibur. Its power has been used for centuries to combat evil, so it just made sense. I contacted the detective's younger sibling, the thief, and got him to tell me everything he knew of the Venes, and to inform them of tonight's attempt to subdue the Entity."
"You helped them to entrap us!" Goliath snarled.
Demona snarled back at him. "It was the only way to defeat both them and the Entity, Goliath. They're all gone now, so quit whining!"
"They're not the only ones who are gone, mother," Darlene said sorrowfully.
"Couldn't you have done something to save Aster?" Angela near pleaded.
Demona just sighed. "Even if there was, I doubt he would have taken it. You heard him yourselves, my daughters. As far as he was concerned, his spirit died long ago, along with the rest of his world. At least this way, he can now have some peace."
"What about Thailog?" Brooklyn suddenly asked. "He never went through the portal with the others."
Darlene's eyes flared red at the clone's name. "Damn it!" she swore.
Demona was inclined to agree. "He may have escaped, for now, but he no longer has access to the Vene's magic, so he can't hurt Lana anymore. His financial resources have been stripped away. His… business dealing with the Venes gave me valuable time with which to locate and sever any remaining ties he had within the business world. As a result, he will have to spend an enormous amount of time trying to rebuild his financial empire."
"So that's it?" Broadway asked. "It's all over?"
Hudson snorted. "Hardly, lad," he mused. "It might take a while, but Thailog has proven time and time again that he's one clever bastard. Who knows what he's capable of? And don't forget that those Vene brats were still no more than that… brats. They no doubt had parents or some form of relatives out there somewhere. Once they learn of their kin's exile from this world, they'll no doubt want revenge."
Goliath heaved a deep sigh. "Undoubtedly," he agreed. "But I think it's best if we worry about that another night. We have achieved a great victory tonight, and lost much at the same time, too. So for now… let's go home."
The rest of the clan agreed, and started to make their way home.
Arthur went to collect Excalibur from where it had fallen, and then hitched a lift with Goliath to return to the Eyrie, with Hudson, Brooklyn and Lex behind them. Angela wanted to stay with her mother for a while, but then decided that Demona was more than okay with just Darlene for company, and so chose to instead return to the Eyrie with the others, her arm closely entwined with that of her beloved Broadway. And Griff chose to accompany Darlene back to their manor house, his concern for her most touching.
Within moments, the whole clan left Liberty Island, returning to their homes, safe and secure in the knowledge that, for now, all their enemies were vanquished.
The days passed by fairly quickly, and each of the clan had his or her own demons to settle.
Demona had a lot to make up with her grandson Jarred. The first thing she knew was that she had to apologise, something that she had never been very good at. When she eventually did say it, her apology came out in a stutter of mumblings and constant pauses. But in the end, a few extra lessons in magic seemed to do the trick, and Jarred soon forgot all about their minor mishap. Though the magic lessons had come with a price, mostly for Demona, as her house had now suffered a large number of explosions.
Demona also had the rest of the clan to apologise to, but as far as she was concerned, the rest of the clan could go take a flying leap. The only two Gargoyles she cared about enough to apologise were her own two daughters. Darlene had accepted her apology quickly, knowing that she had had little choice, not if she were to have been successful in vanquishing everyone. Angela was a different story though.
Angela had been furious with her mother for her deceit and lies, even if they had been for the right reasons. They never had a loving mother/daughter relationship, but they got by. It had taken time, but gradually she learned to forgive and forget.
With the Venes gone, King Arthur had soon taken his leave to continue his quest to find his friend and teacher, Merlin. Griff had of course gone with him, though he had been more than reluctant to leave Darlene in doing so. Darlene, too, had been reluctant to part company with him, but she knew he had his duty to Arthur and couldn't drop it, even for her. They had spent one final evening together, soaring the skies and wrapped in each other's arms and wings. The following night they had had a tearful goodbye, but one that ended with a promise from Griff that someday he would return to her, which he swore with his life blood.
Darlene had sworn not to cry, but she had always been the more emotional one of her family, but she took his oath and also swore to wait for him, no matter how long it took for them to be together again. Until then, she had more than enough to keep her busy. She decided to re-take the lessons she had once taken with her mother, to polish her forgotten skills in fighting and sorcery. Not to mention she still had her children to raise as well.
Lana had been doing quite all right now. Since Thailog no longer had access to the Venes magic, so he could no longer invade her dreams and mentally torture her from within. With the promise that he couldn't hurt her anymore, Lana had soon recovered, putting him out of her mind as much as possible. And whenever she felt threatened or ill at ease, Gabriel was there in a heartbeat to comfort her.
Angela also took comfort, whenever offered, from Broadway, and Elisa from Goliath and vice versa. Perhaps it was all the love in the air that made Brooklyn and Lex want to leave for a while.
Brooklyn and Lex had spent the next few months with the clan, fighting to make the city a safer place, but in the end they decided that they needed to take a break, namely to go visit Avalon and the two rookery sisters of Angela that they had met at Goliath and Elisa's wedding. Thus, they had, and because of the time difference on Avalon, they had been gone for months, but eventually they did return, and when they did they were not alone.
Angela's sisters had returned with them, intent on remaining in the mortal world with them and making Manhattan their new home and protectorate.
More months passed, and the clan grew more at ease with each passing night. Elisa continued her night-shifts, fighting crime and making nice with her Gargoyle husband at night, and sleeping during the day. Hudson forever said that she would make a terrific Gargoyle.
Jarred worked hard on his studies, both on his magic and his warrior skills. He became a most promising student, but he still couldn't find a way to escape the affection of Bronx's over-grown tongue.
Gem learned to talk, and was soon walking on her two legs instead of all fours. Xanatos made a few more business mergers. Alex honed his magical skills well under the guidance of Puck/Owen.
And somewhere, a red-eyed Gargoyle and a vengeful father made plans to attack…
This marks the end of my Darlene saga, as I've just grown too bored with it to continue. I believe I've settled everything so that there are no loose ends, but left it off on a small cliffhanger in case I should ever wish to return. If anyone else wants to write my saga or use any of my characters, be my guest.