Brenna rode in front of her father on the way to Wyvern Castle

Puppet Strings - Chapter 1

By Kudara

Disclaimer: All the characters appearing in Gargoyles 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 the author.

Warning: Mild violence.

Rating: PG-13

Feedback: Always welcome, feedback is what encourages me to keep writing. Please let me know what you like and what you dislike about the story.

Revision History: 9/5/04; 02/01/08

Summary: Kendra Canmore, a woman with an unusual past, finds out that the owner of Nightstone Unlimited, Dominique Destine, is also the gargoyle Demona. Though her family refused to join the hunt, she is curious about this revelation.

She crouched motionless against the frozen ground, patiently waiting for her prey to step close enough for the quick kill. The night was still, not even the faintest hint of wind stirred the dead leaves still clinging to their branches. Her breath and that of her prey steamed white in the chill air with every breath. The light from the full moon had turned the glade into a sharply contrasting scene of silver light and blackness. The deer standing in the shadows stood almost immobile except for the nervous twitching of its tail and the flaring of its nostrils as it tried to determine what creature had invaded its normally safe existence.

Usually she considered deer elegant, graceful creatures, and she enjoyed watching them play in the mornings as they grazed on the lawn of her estate in upper New York. On the night of the full moon, however the animal nature inside her held sway over her human side and they were her prey. She had picked out one of the weaker, older deer that would probably not last the entire winter, as this moon's quarry. Stalking it, she had easily cut it off from the rest of the herd. Now it stood, terrified and indecisive, uncertain of where to run, then suddenly tried to leap past her. She sprang from her crouch and slapped its head with her paw, crushing the animal's skull with the blow. Ripping open the hind flank of the animal, she settled down to consume her meal, keeping a careful watch on her surroundings as she fed.

She enjoyed these nights of the full moon. She knew that she perhaps shouldn't enjoy them as much as she did, but all her human cares and worries were set aside on this night and only her prey and the exhilaration of the hunt concerned her. It wasn't as if she couldn't change any time she desired, but the nights of the full moon were different, on these nights she felt closest to the cat spirit that lived inside her. On these nights, it did not pain her to change her form; instead, it was a pure, sensual pleasure to slide into the jaguar shape.

She finished eating what she wanted off the deer carcass, and sauntered through the forest toward the river for a swim. She loved swimming, it one of the better things about being a were-jaguar instead of another type of cat, and it had the useful side effect of cleaning her coat of any blood from her prey. She moved through the water powerfully enjoying the feel of the cold water and occasionally ducking her head playfully under the water.

Finally tiring of her play, she decided to head towards the shore. Once there she shook herself dry and headed back to her estate house. The housekeeper and grounds keeper that cared for the house were gone for the evening and she sauntered through the open patio doors on the west side of the house and into her room. She barely spared a glance at the room's carefully designed elegance. Antique cherry furnishings and a monstrously huge four-poster bed sat against antique ivory colored walls. The room itself was spacious, even with the presence of the bed, with plenty of space for her to move about in her cat form.

She glanced at herself in the hanging mirror, admiring for a moment her blocky strong jawed head and muzzle, muscular deep chest, stocky body, deep black coat and thick tail. She was larger and heavier than a natural jaguar by over one hundred pounds and was taller as well at thirty-six inches instead of twenty-seven inches tall.

She concentrated on changing back to her human form, shrinking in mass as she did so and focusing on not crying out from the pain this caused her. Once she had recovered from the process, she stood up and looked in the mirror to see that everything was where it should be. She was slightly taller than average for a woman at five foot ten inches, with light olive skin, black hair and sapphire blue eyes. She was very muscular, both from her jaguar nature and from the hours of martial arts and athletics she enjoyed.

Reassured that everything about her body was in its proper place, she studied her face with a quick intent gaze. Her features attracted many admiring looks from both men and women. Her eyes were her most admired feature, their gemlike clarity of color garnering her many complements. Her strength and determination were revealed in the strong lines of her face, a square angular jaw line and chin, and straight nose. Full lips and a graceful long neck completed the picture, adding a feminine and sensual touch to her face. She was Kendra Canmore, daughter of Robert Canmore and Maria De Santos.

She had not always been a were-jaguar, when she was fifteen she and her parents had gone exploring Mayan ruins in Brazil after visiting her mother's parents. Separated from her parents in the ruins, the young girl had come across a hurt jaguar trapped in one of the rooms. The animal was unable to stand on its own, and watched her intently and without any apparent fear or hostility as she examined it. She looked around the room the jaguar had fallen into for a way to free the animal, and decided that if she could move some of the fallen masonry sections she could free the beautiful animal.

She climbed carefully down into the room, staying away from the hurt animal, and began to work on clearing the fallen rubble. She had not been paying attention to the trapped cat as she worked, and was surprised when the animal rubbed up against her side, apparently having freed itself. She turned slowly and looked unblinkingly into the animal's eyes, telling herself to betray no fear, though she was not really afraid of the animal for some unknown reason. It was one of the largest black jaguars she had seen, she found the animal's strength and presence impressive and its green eyes compelling, as she slipped into unconsciousness.

When she came to her clothing was bloody, but she could find no wounds on herself. Puzzled, she looked around for the handsome animal but could not find any trace of it. She had climbed back out of the room and found her family afterwards, telling them the blood was from a hurt deer she had found and freed. Her parents would panic and start yelling at her if she told them the animal had actually been a jaguar. That was something the teenager was not eager to experience, so she kept that particular detail to herself.

One year after the incident with the trapped jaguar, Kendra's father was killed and her mother severely injured in a car accident. Maria Canmore left the hospital after several weeks, but the accident left Kendra's mother with permanent spinal injuries and she would never walk again.

A few months after the accident Kendra began dreaming of being a jaguar, of her body changing, stretching, fitting into the shape of the cat she had believed she was rescuing. On the night of the full moon, exactly year later from when the dreams began, she transformed into a jaguar for real. The first time the transformation happened was very frightening and confusing for the young woman despite the dreams that had prepared her for the process. The following full moon was as exhilarating as frightening, and by the third full moon the transformation had barely frightened her at all. Even with her fears about what was happening to her and the questions she had about why and how she transformed, Kendra kept silent. She told no one, not even her mother, and due to her mother's injuries, it had not been difficult for her to hide the fact that she was changing into a jaguar every full moon.

Five years ago, her mother had followed her husband into death, leaving their only daughter significant shares in several businesses, a considerable fortune and an estate in upper New York as well as a large loft condo in Manhattan.

All in all, she enjoyed her life more now than before meeting the jaguar. She was much stronger and quicker after the transformations began than before, and had learned, after a few startled looks from her class mates and teachers in high school, to be careful to not bring undue attention to herself by displaying her higher than normal strength and quickness. Her body now healed at an increased rate. Fortunately, nothing had happened to her to bring it to anyone's attention exactly how fast she healed. She didn't know what she would do if she were ever injured badly enough to require hospitalization. The doctors would notice immediately that something was very different about her, no normal human healed as fast as she did.

She had been dealing with the changes for ten years, and was twenty-seven now; over the years, she had learned how to control the changes so that she changed only when she chose to do so. Now it didn't matter if it were day or night, or whether or not the moon was full. It was fortunate for her that she had learned how to do so for seven years ago, while she was visiting the loft in Manhattan, four men had attacked her in Central Park. Finding herself unable to fight them all off in human form, she had changed into her jaguar form and killed them.

Because of that night Kendra started martial arts classes, determined to be able to protect herself no matter what form she was in. Now, seven years later, she was an accomplished martial artist, having taken too unarmed fighting like a duck to water. Her martial arts teacher had commented more than once about how easily she seemed to learn the skills.

Her visual double-check that she did every time she changed shape complete, Kendra dressed and pulled out a suitcase to pack for her trip to Manhattan. While there, she planned to visit her cousin Jason who had been paralyzed in a mysterious accident over a year ago. He was very reticent about the cause of his condition during their phone call, and she suspected it had something to do with his family's obsession with gargoyles.

Kendra's father had always said that his brother Charles' choice to continue the Canmore obsession with hunting gargoyles would result in nothing but grief and it had not surprised her father that one had taken exception to being hunted one night and had tossed his brother off the side of a very tall building. Compound the tragedy was the fact that Charles had taken his children to watch and they witnessed their father's death.

Her uncle's children, Jason, Jon, and Robyn Canmore, had all vowed to hunt down and kill the gargoyle that had killed their father. They asked Robert for his help, but her father had refused. He was sorry about what had happened to his brother, but he would not kill a creature for defending itself. Kendra's cousin's had been shocked and angered by the refusal and all conversation between the two families had ceased, at least until last week when Jason had called and asked her to come and visit him at his new apartment in the city.

Kendra left for Manhattan the next morning, the moon was just beginning to wane and she knew she would not feel the overwhelming urge to change for another three weeks. Besides, she was curious about all the gargoyle stories she had been hearing on the news from Manhattan. Kendra doubted the gargoyles were the demons the Canmore's made them out to be, but other than that, she felt she really knew very little about them.

Oh, she knew the history behind, and the reason's the Canmore's claimed for their brutal vendetta against the gargoyles. She had read a few of the journals written by Canmore hunters, journals where they kept their tally of the number gargoyles they had found and killed. She had been horrified at how the hunters boastingly wrote about how many hatchlings and eggs they had destroyed. As a young teenager, she had wondered if the hunters had committed murder and infanticide, but in the end, the young Kendra decided it didn't really matter to her if the gargoyles were intelligent or not. The fact that the hunters had killed helpless babies was enough to convince her that the hunters were demons not the gargoyles they boasted about killing, and she was all the more proud of her father for rejecting his father and brother's beliefs.

The family histories included surprisingly little about what the gargoyles were other than calling them demons. They included lots of information about how to find and kill them, but little to nothing about basic things like what they ate, what their social structure was, or even how long they lived. She knew that they could speak and turned to stone during the day but that was about the extent of her actual knowledge of gargoyles. She had no idea exactly how intelligent the gargoyles were, the fact that they could speak indicated a high level of intelligence. Perhaps she would get the chance to see one in the city and look into his or her eyes and find the answers to some of her questions.

She enjoyed the ride down to Manhattan in her black Jaguar convertible; really, she couldn't possibly have bought any other type of automobile, and she always smirked just a little bit in amusement every time she slid behind the wheel. She stopped by the loft condo and dropped off her suitcase before continuing to Jason's apartment.

Her cousin answered her knock in a wheelchair and invited her inside exclaiming, "Kendra, you did decide to come!"

To Kendra's surprise, there was another person in Jason's apartment. Staring out the barred patio door was a woman with long dark hair. Kendra had a brief moment to admire the woman's trim feminine figure before the woman turned around to stare at her curiously. Kendra smiled thinking that the woman was a nice to look at from the front as the rear. Jason definitely had good taste.

Jason introduced them, "Elisa Maza, meet my first cousin Kendra Canmore. Kendra, Elisa is a detective with the 23rd Precinct in Manhattan."

Kendra nodded politely to the detective in response to the woman's greeting, "Nice to meet you." She raised a curious eyebrow at her cousin, wondering how he knew a police detective.

"I met her while pretending to be a newly transferred detective. She was assigned as my partner. She's been nice enough to come by and visit every week," Jason answered the silent question.

Kendra glanced over at the detective, she wanted to ask if her cousin had gotten hurt hunting gargoyles, but she didn't want to bring up the subject with the detective there. "How are you doing?" she asked instead. As fine as the woman looked, right now Kendra really wished she wasn't present.

Jason stared at her for a second, "Fine," he answered slowly following her gaze. "She knows," he sighed, "she knows about the gargoyles and about our family's history with them."

"Your families," Kendra corrected immediately, and then regretted it when her cousin flinched.

Jason grimaced, "Right, my families," he agreed and she thought she detected an overtone of regret in his voice.

She sighed, "Sorry, I shouldn't have brought it up. So how did you get hurt, a gargoyle?"

"No, actually I saved ones life by stepping between Jon and it. Jon shot me by accident," he answered.

Kendra straightened up surprised, "Ok, now I'm really curious. I never thought I'd hear you say that you saved a gargoyle in my wildest imagings."

Kendra listened intently to Jason's story interrupting him to clarify some points. As he continued, she became more and more puzzled over the Demona that he spoke about so frequently, and what connection a gargoyle could possibly have with Nightstone Unlimited, which she knew was owned by Dominique Destine. Finally, feeling that she was missing a vital piece of information, she asked, "How did a gargoyle manage to direct such a research effort? What connection does this Demona have with Nightstone?"

Jason paused, hesitant. She waited as still and patiently as she had waited last night for her prey to approach knowing that he would eventually decide answer her questions. Finally he began speaking again, nervously revealing that this particular gargoyle used sorcery to turn herself into Dominique Destine during the day. Kendra was fairly certain that only a slight widening of her eyes possibly betrayed her surprise at this information, she knew about the woman from business dealings with Nightstone in the past.

"Let's say for now that I believe that sorcery can change and woman into a gargoyle and vice versa," Kendra smirked, letting Jason assume that she didn't really believe that such a thing was possible, when, of course, given her own reality, she did believe him. "It at least explains how she was able to get the resources to develop such a virus. So…go on," she prompted him to continue.

Detective Maza had sat down in a chair earlier and was listening intently to Jason's tale; at this comment, she glanced sharply in Kendra's direction and regarded her suspiciously. Kendra returned the stare with a smirk, and then followed it with a slow, appreciative sweep of the detective's body. A flush of color in the woman's cheeks and a narrow eyed glare rewarded her, she smoothly turned her attention back to her cousin as if her appreciative examination had never happened knowing that was likely to provoke the detective even more.

Jason, who had evidently not noticed a thing, was busy describing how he had saved the leader of the Manhattan gargoyle clan, Goliath, from being shot by Jason, and how Goliath had ruined Demona's enchantment that would have spared the gargoyles from a general plague to wipe out all intelligent life. Demona had tossed the canister containing the plague virus in the air and had gotten away as Goliath had scrambled to catch it before it broke on the floor.

Kendra noticed how tense Elisa became every time Jason spoke of the other gargoyles besides Demona. It was not something Jason noticed, and Kendra doubted most humans would notice but her predator senses had alerted on the small signs of nervousness. She filed it away for further consideration along with Elisa's silence during the story and merely nodded. She asked Jason, "So you and Robyn are done with this nonsense?"

Elisa looked surprised at her statement, but Jason simply nodded, "I am at least; Robyn is in jail serving a ten year sentence for various charges her first chance at parole comes up in two years. I would be in jail as well but they aren't going to press charges given my injury."

Kendra asked, "And Jon? What's he up to?"

Jason grimaced, "Jon blames the gargoyles for this instead of himself and has started a group called the Quarrymen to destroy the gargoyles."

Kendra rolled her eyes in annoyance; she had begun to hope that Jason would say they had all given up their continuation of the Canmore's vendetta against the gargoyles. From what her father had told her, and from her own brief chance to read Duncan's own journal, she knew that Duncan the First's had been a ruthless and unprincipled king. Duncan had only begun hunting gargoyles because a clan of them were allied with Macbeth and he wanted them killed before beginning his attack. Duncan had died to the gargoyle clan's female leader while attacking Macbeth's castle, and later when Canmore became king after defeating Macbeth, he had begun hunting that particular gargoyle along with any other seeking revenge for his father's death.

Her thoughts reminded her of something she had just heard Jason say. She frowned confused, "You really believe this Demona is the same gargoyle that first Duncan, and then Canmore, fought? But that would make her around a thousand years old." She stared incredulous at Jason wondering how he was going to explain that.

Jason winced, "Goliath said that she was probably the same person, she's immortal."

Kendra stared at him silently, absorbing the implications, and then nodded. Jason looked tired and she noticed that Elisa was looking at her watch. Kendra commented, "Well I need to go get something to eat, and Elisa looks like she needs to be going somewhere. I will come back and see you tomorrow Jason."

With that, she gave him a light hug, gave the detective a purposefully friendly non-sexual smile to confuse the woman even more, and exited Jason's apartment building with a light step. Walking over to her Jaguar, she noticed the dark-haired detective watching her and saw the envious look at her car. Smiling, she chuckled and pulled out of the parking lot, she had passed by a steak house on her way here. A huge porterhouse sounded real good right now, her stomach had been growling at her for the past hour.

Red wine and steak what a wonderful combination, Kendra sighed in contentment finally full. Pondering everything Jason had told her, the entire tale made less and less sense to Kendra.

Dominique Destine, sole owner of Nightstone Unlimited, was well known to Kendra, she had business dealings with the woman's company in the past. The woman was a shrewd businesswoman. She was not the type to make a mistake like making permanent record of your plan to exterminate the human race, and then leave it in plain sight in the company safe. Moreover, it wasn't as if the plan Jason had described was complicated, go here at this time, do this spell, then release the virus, hardly any need for the disk at all. Who took a newly hired personal assistant down to show off their plan to exterminate the human race, or at least part of that plan, on the first week at work anyway? Kendra thought with a smirk.

Then there was the fact that Robyn and Jon had been lucky that the gargoyle hadn't actually killed them the night before. Kendra certainly would have never walked off without making sure that 'dead' enemies were definitely dead. Something like snapping their necks or crushing their skulls would have been her preferred method of ensuring dead was dead. She would have thought that Demona at least would have checked to make sure of the same, that she hadn't spoke of a sloppiness that just didn't fit with what she knew of Dominique Destine.

Then there was the simple fact that Demona's virus, in the manner that the gargoyle planned to release it, would never have succeeded in infecting many people at all. One container of a biological agent released within a building where the people infected were all aware of the infection had no hope of achieving the stated goal of a world-wide plague, no hope at all. As soon as the city knew a biological agent had been released, and there was no doubt in her mind that Detective Maza would have immediately informed them, Hazmat units would have sealed the immediate area around the building. The CDC would have quarantined everyone within the building, and the so-called plague would have ended rather quickly, though perhaps unfortunately, for those quarantined. It certainly would have never even been given the chance to spread to the general city population.

Nothing that Jason had told her fit with the Dominique Destine that she knew, that woman was a perfectionist. A year ago, Dominique had tried to take over one of the businesses Kendra was a shareholder of, she and the other shareholders had been forced to fight off a carefully orchestrated take-over. Even while Kendra had been combating Dominique's well laid plans to drop the company's stock valuation in preparation for a buy out offer, she had admired the elegance of those plans. Only equal parts skill and luck allowed Kendra and the other stockholders to keep the companies share valuation from dropping. Dominique Destine had never even made the buy out offer once she saw her plans fail.

Maybe she wasn't as intelligent in gargoyle form as she was in human form? Kendra thought back to what she had heard from her business partners of negotiations that Ms. Destine had conducted late at night over the phone. Mulling over the gossip she had heard Kendra quickly discarded the idea that Demona wasn't as intelligent as Dominique, though it certainly would explain why the woman absolutely refused to hold any nighttime meetings.

Which left some burning questions, why would the gargoyle have made that incriminating disk in the first place, why let Robyn, the new hire, see any part of her plans, and why the quite frankly, stupid, method of releasing the virus? Kendra needed to find out more information about Demona to formulate a sound idea. Now if only she could figure out how to go about finding the information she wanted.

Kendra had been interested in meeting the canny Dominique Destine ever since that take over attempt. The woman's voice had been intriguing during various business conference calls she had participated in as a board member. Though Kendra had never meet the woman in person, she had managed to obtain several pictures of Dominique and had been pleased to find that she was as beautiful as Kendra had thought she would be. Maybe this puzzle solving would lead to meeting the intriguing Ms. Destine. Kendra's curiosity was roused now and there was nothing like a good puzzle to keep the attention of a cat.