iManhattan Island, 16th New York City Police Department Precinct/i

"None of them has said ianything/i?"

"Naw Lieutenant, they haven't spoken a word; we've laid into 'em all pretty hard…"

the detective pointed at two way mirror and the interrogation room beyond.

Two beefy looking uniformed officers were shouting insults and threats at a fat, heavily bearded man in a grease stained Harley Davidson T-shirt; the biker was staring straight down at the table.

One of the police officers slammed his fist down on the stainless steel table in the interrogation room; the biker stirred slightly and shifted in his chair. It was clear by the expression on his face that he had been sleeping.

This sent the two cops into a frenzy of shouting and fist pounding.

The fat biker grinned and spoke for the first time in the half hour the Lieutenant and the detective had been watching the interrogation.

"This shit is better than watching Gorillas at the fuckin' zoo."

This set one of the officers over the edge and he slammed a fist into the bikers eye, sending the fat man and the chair he was handcuffed too straight to the interrogations room floor.

The officers in the room moved forward, expecting some form of retaliation from the supposedly dangerous felon, but the biker burst into gales of laughter instead.
"Asshole, I spent my whole life gettin' my ass beat by iLA cops/i. You New York queers hit like my sister…" the biker grinned broadly, "So are we done or do you wanna get the nightsticks out so I can sue your asses in style?"

"You motherfuc…" the cop who had slugged the biker roared as he lunged forward. But his partner quickly wrapped an arm around him and dragged him out of the interrogation room.

Back on the other side of the glass, the Lieutenant shook his head and turned to the detective.
"I've seen enough. Ship these sorry assholes off to Rikers Island for the weekend."
"Lieutenant, we still might."

"No. Get these pricks out of my precinct." the Lieutenant turned and left the observation room, "And tell the kids in forensics that their going to be getting a lot of overtime for the next two days. 'Cuz if this case breaks, it's not gonna be because one of these biker assholes starts talking."

iCastle Wyvern/i

Detective Elisa Maza raised a hand to her face to shield herself form the spray of stone fragments as Goliath burst from stone sleep to greet the night.

After shaking off the last of the stone fragments that clung to his skin, Goliath hopped off the crenellation and smiled when he saw Elisa.

""As always, my love, it is a pleasure to see you here when I awake." Goliath bowed slightly to Elisa, who rolled her eyes,

"You and that old world charm…"

"You would be surprised how well it works, my Elisa." Goliath proclaimed, "At least, how well it works on impressionable young human policewomen."

"Oh? And how many 'impressionable young human policewomen' have you tried it on, exactly?"

"Oh, I don't know…I suppose at least a half dozen. All of course, were just practice for the time when I would use them on you, my love."

"Oh really?"

Goliath smiled, and then scooped up Elisa into his arms before planting a deep kiss on her lips.

"Your not normally this…frisky, Goliath. What's up?" Elisa asked her gargoyle mate,

"I apologize, my Elisa…" Goliath nuzzled her neck, "But I believe you are coming up on 'that time of the month'."

Elisa smiled; once a month, her cycle would drive her gargoyle lover into a frenzy of arousal that could only be a male gargoyle during mating season. Unfortunately, unlike a female gargoyle, during her 'breeding' period, she was unavailable for sexual activity. But before her menstrual cycle took full effect though, things could be…interesting.

"Shall we adjourn to a spare bedroom right away, or would you like to know what's been going on after you went to sleep for the day?" Elisa's words surprised her; normally she was hardly this wanton, but she found that both the true love she shared with Goliath and her oncoming period drove her to a frenzy that would nearly match her gargoyle lover's.

Goliath let out a theatrical sigh, then said,

"The news first, I suppose."

Elisa nodded,

"In front of the whole clan might be a good idea. This concerns all of them."

"Is it about the fight with the Vikingz last night?"

Elisa nodded.

"Very well then." Goliath leapt from the tower and glided down to the courtyard where the whole clan had gathered.

Elisa smiled at her clan as they assembled in the courtyard, than began;

"Sorry to sound like a broken record, guys, but I have some bad news; it looks like we definitely don't have enough evidence to charge the Vikingz in connection with the firefight last not…or anything else they've done since they got here, for that matter."

"What?" Brooklyn demanded, "You're telling me they got busted in the middle of a battle that they started, with enough stolen weapons to fight a war, and you ican't charge them with anything/i?"

Elisa shook her head;

"We can't prove that they were in possession of those weapons at any point; we can just prove that they were in the same building with them. We can't prove that they were using them, at all. And we can't get any of them to fold under interrogation, hell; we can't even get them to talk at all. The only thing they've said so far has been related through their attorney's; they explained their presence at the warehouse by saying they were looking to use it as a hang out for awhile, when a group of Quarrymen chased you guys" Elisa waved to encompass the gathered gargoyles, "inside and started shooting at them. When the police started to close in, the Quarrymen tossed their weapons and ran, and then you nabbed the Vikingz up and restrained them, despite their loud protests that they were completely innocent."

"Oh that story makes a whole lotta sense, doesn't it?" Brooklyn asked, as he planted a palm on his forehead.

"Unfortunately that's the only story we have right now. And considering that the vast majority of the weaponry stolen form that armory was found in Quarrymen hands, it makes a lot of sense to some people. Those people being the ones who have decided not to file any charges."

"But…" Lexington began to protest, but Elisa raised a hand too cut him off,

"However…the D.A. has contacted the prosecutors office in the county that has a warrant out for questioning in that murder case the Vikingz are suspected in. So we have an excuse to hold 'em until that comes through. In the meantime, we have all the time in the world to tie the Vikingz to what happened last night, or the thing in front of their hang out…or the bar Demona and the Vikingz got into that fight in…so really, it's only a matter of time before we can bust them."

"Or so we can hope." Brooklyn muttered,

"But in the meantime, the Vikingz are all either locked up, or, in a few cases, in a high security hospital ward under guard. And of course, Angel is still locked up in the Labyrinth."

"At least we can be thankful for that." Broadway said, with a smile.

"Aye." Hudson replied, "Is there anything else than lass?" he asked Elisa,

"Not on the law enforcement front, at least; things have been pretty quiet lately."

The elder gargoyles smiled,

"That the best news I could hear, Lass. These old bones aren't up to chasing brigands every night." Hudson hopped up on the battlements, "Anyway, enough of this talk, it's time we got to patrolling isn't it?"

Brooklyn looked at Goliath,

"Umm…do you want me to lead patrols for tonight, Goliath?" he asked; he had caught a whiff of the pheromones coming off of Elisa.

Goliath turned a deeper shade of purple,

"I…yes I think that might best."

"Okay, no problem. Catch ya later." Brooklyn and the rest of the clan began to leap off the battlements and take flight over the city.

Goliath turned to Elisa;

"Now, about that spare bedroom…"

iSomewhere in the South Bronx/i

At some point in time, the old brownstone building might have been quite attractive, luxurious even; unfortunately for the buildings current occupants, it seemed to have been at some point before the Civil War.

John Castaway, leader of the shattered remnants of the once formidable Quarrymen group, sat in a small room towards the back of the buildings second story, doing his best to ignore the constant buzzing from a hurricane lamp that sat perched on his improvised desk and perusing through a small notebook filled with a handwritten report on the remaining elements of his organization; between the series of raids by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms a week earlier, and a continuous vendetta from New York's myriad array of outlaw motorcycle clubs, he didn't have that much left.

"This is iinexcusable/i." Castaway muttered, as he tossed the notebook down on the small folding card table that served as his desk, "Two hard years of work…completely wiped out."

"I know sir. It's a travesty, nothing less." said a man sitting across the table from the Quarrymen leader. Castaway looked up at him and smiled bitterly,

"You did good work on this report, Ernest. I just wish more of the organization had your…" ifanaticism/i "commitment."

Ernest sat up straighter in his chair; he still wore full Quarrymen uniform, even though doing so had become a virtual death sentence; just the other day a band of Pagans outlaw motorcycle club members had beaten a trio of Quarrymen almost to death while they had been on a gargoyle search and destroy patrol on Long Island.

"Sir, we still have enough men to launch a recruitment drive…if we could only get some more capital..."

Castaway sighed; his fiscal resources had dried up shortly after the ATF raids, and when he'd tried to contact his 'benefactors' in the Illuminati, all he had gotten was a polite note saying the he was too dangerous to associate with at the moment.

"I know, Ernest, if only we could try and reorganize, gather more support…but I'm afraid that the people of this city have turned away from us, turned away from their protectors, and are even now groveling at the feet of the very monsters we tried to save them from." Castaway ground his teeth together as he spat out those last words.

"Sir it's not as bad as that. It can't be. We do still have enough resources left for one more operation. If we can find the gargoyles nest we can wipe them out, once and for all!"

Castaway sighed an waved a hand at a large map of New York City that been tacked into the crumpling plaster of the wall next to his desk.
"But where are they? We were never able to locate the…"

The hurricane lamp on the desk flickered, and then died, plunging the room into blackness.

It came back on quickly, and Ernest took the momentary interruption to field a plan;

"Sir, if we deploy enough surveillance teams to each city borough, we might be able to track one of the monsters back to their nest." Ernest looked over from the map and back to Castaway.

The Quarrymen leader had gone white as a sheet, and was staring at something behind his subordinate with wide eyes and a terrified expression.

"Sir what's wrong?" Ernest demanded, as he stood and looked around in confusion.

Castaway pointed a finger.

Ernest whipped around, and shouted in surprise as he found himself face to face with four bizarre…people?

They stood in loose order in front of the single door to the room, each one dressed in an identical dark suit, white shirt and red tie. Each one had their arms neatly folded behind their back in an identical fashion, adding another layer of stiffness to their already ramrod straight stance.

The most eerie feature of the quartet, however were the masks they wore; each one wore a full face mask, all white except for the features of a man with high, arched eyebrows, rosy red cheek coloration, a thin mustache and goatee, and a small, mocking smile.

"Identify yourselves!" Ernest shouted as he jumped to hid feet, panicking at the sight of these masked intruders, "Identify yourselves or I'll shoot!" the Quarrymen began to reach for his side arm…

the light flickered again, and suddenly one of the intruders was right next to panicked Quarrymen, and was nestling the barrel of a small machine pistol in the man's ear.

"We do not recommend that." the intruder said, the first of the quartet to speak; his voice was oddly hollow, and had a mechanical edge to it, "Calm yourself and sit back down. We mean you and your leader no harm."

Ernest didn't respond; his eyes were wide and staring, his mouth open in shock,

"Please Mr. Rohm, sit down." the stranger prompted again

The use of his last name startled the Quarrymen out of his stupor

"How, how did…you get over here?" The Quarrymen stammered,

The stranger removed the barrel of his pistol and stood back,

"We have our ways, Mr. Rohm, now sit down, if you would." one of the intruders by the door commanded.

The still startled Quarrymen did as he was asked.

"How do you know his name?" Castaway asked; the Quarrymen leader seemed to have regained his composure while the intruders had been dealing with his subordinate.

The stranger turned his masked face to Castaway, who flinched slightly under its seemingly eyeless gaze;

"We have our ways, Mr. Canmoore." another of the strangers by the door answered

Castaways eyes went wide,

"How did ya' know my name?" he demanded, his Scottish brogue coming on thick in the moment of surprise, "I swear ta' god if ya' don't keep that ta' yuirselves I'll…"

The intruders began to laugh, a sound that despite the same hollow, mechanical tone the first one too speak had shown, came across as gleefully maniacal.

"We are amused by your threats, John." one of the unknown intruders by the door explained, somewhat unnecessarily, "But you should know," the strangers voice lost the slight edge of amusement it had held before, and filled with ominous intent "nothing can hurt us, Mr. Canmoore. Nothing at all."

Castaways eyes narrowed,

"And why is that?"

"We are everyone. We are everywhere."

"And who, exactly, are you?" Castaway asked,

The figured al let out a small chuckle,

"We have had many names…" the one by the door supplied,

"…dozens in fact…" the one next to Ernst continued,

"…but for the sake of convenience…" another took up the sentence

"…you may address us as Unknown." the last finished.

Castaway and Ernest looked confused,

"But what do we call you as individuals?" Canmoore asked

"We are not individuals. We are one."

"But…" Castaway shook his head, as if too clear it, "Fine, I don't care. What is it you want with us."

"We want to help you hunt gargoyles." one of Unknown supplied, "We have never done it before, and we wish to experience it."

Castaways eyes flickered with anticipation for a moment, but he quickly regained some measure of shrewdness,

"And why should we let you join us? What do you bring to the table."

One of the Unknown cocked his head,

"Let us make one thing clear…we are not ijoining/i you. We are assisting you in hunting down the gargoyles because it's amusing to us. We will take your suggestions and allow ourselves too follow your commands, but we will not be your underlings."

Castaway ground his teeth together before asking,

"Then you had better be bringing me a hell of a lot of assistance."

The light flickered again, and suddenly one of the Unknown was sitting in the small folding chair that sat next to Ernest's; the other three had disappeared.

"We are mister Castaway." the Unknown let out one of those insane, mechanical laughs,

"We are."

iManhattan Island; The Labyrinth/i

Talon stood outside of the cell containing the latest inmate in the labyrinths cell block,

"It's probably just a hangover Mags, don't worry about it."

Maggie looked in on the gargoyle sprawled over one of the cheap cots inside,

"I'm not so sure Talon…he hasn't moved all day and…"

"Fuuucccccck…" at this profane intrusion, both mutates turned to see Angel begin too stir, he tried to stand, but apparently didn't get to far before his hangover hit and collapsed back unto the cot, "Supplement." he whispered,

"What was that?" Talon asked,

"Supplement. I need my supplement, man."

"Your what?"

"Protein…supplement. Should be in a plastic bag in the inside pocket of my rags…"

"Your what?"

"My vest, jackass."

"Right. Tell me why exactly do you need that stuff?"

"Die without it…need the energy." Angel implored, "Please man!"

Talon's eyes narrowed; he'd gone through the bikers leather vest earlier, and had found a plastic bag full of a yellowish powder he had assumed was some kind of drug.

"How do I know you telling the truth?"

"You don't." Angel returned; his normal manner breaking through the desperate veneer he had been putting up, "But I don't have any reason to lie to you about it, do I? So, either help me or take me somewhere where I can fucking well die in peace."

Talon snorted in amusement,

"All right biker boy…even if you are just trying to get you next hit of meth, I don't see it hurting anyone but you."

Angel shrugged,

"Thanks. And I don't do crank anymore."

It was Talon's turn to shrug,

"No difference to me."

Talon hobbled off to get the plastic bag with Angel's protein supplement; the hobble came from the fight the biker had put up when Talon and several of the clones had brought him into the Labyrinth after they caught the outlaw trying to curb stomp some hapless human outside of a bar in Brighton Beach.

The mutate leader returned momentarily and tossed the small plastic bag into the cell with its owner. The outlaw looked down at it, then back up at Talon,



"I need a glass to mix it in. Kind of hard to mix in that fuckin' fish bowl over there." Angel waved a hand at the small stainless steel sink that sat above the toilet.

Taking exception to the tone of command in the imprisoned gargoyle's voice, Talon glowered at the outlaw,

"Maybe you should give it a try." he growled,

"And maybe I should have snapped your goddamn neck when I had the chance." Angel shot back, with a smile.

Talon's glare grew darker; Angel returned it with outlaw mad-dogging that would have made lesser creatures run in terror.

Maggie suddenly rolled her eyes.

"Oh for god's sake…" she shouted before storming off in the direction of the labyrinths kitchen and returning shortly with a plastic glass for Angel to mix his supplement in.

She set the glass on the small opening for passing food in and out of the steel bars that fronted the cage Angel was locked inside.

Angel got to his feet, a little unsteadily, and walked over to pick it up; before he did so, he dipped his head politely at Maggie and smiled slightly,

"Thank you," he said, with more grace in his voice than one would guess he had, "Sorry about the chunk I took out of you last night," Angel said, waving a hand at the bandage that swathed the lioness' right shoulder, "But y'know…you i were/i trying to toss me into this goddamn cage; that tends to put me in a slightly unforgiving mood."

Maggie could only shrug; privately she could understand with the outlaw's point of view, having been thrown into a cage herself on several occasions. On the other hand…the outlaw really did ideserve/i to be locked up.

In any case, Angel took the plastic cup and dumped a goodly portion of the yellow powder into it before filling it up with water from the sink. Using a talon to mix the contents together, he turned back to the two mutates.

"Next question is…" he paused to drain the contents of the glass in one large gulp, "Can I have a toothbrush?"

iSomewhere in Western Yugoslavia/i

Along a lonely, empty, highway a BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle grinds along at full speed; the vehicles commander is standing up in the turret; behind him a trio of men dressed in old Soviet-pattern camouflage uniforms and wearing blue berets are perched on the passenger compartment, their sizable arsenal of weapons pointed outward and ready to react to any threat.

One of the troopers shifted the PK light machine gun he carried on his lap and slapped the commander on the back to get his attention,

"iDai? What is it Kulokov?"

"How much farther to Vostok-2's position comrade colonel?" Kulokv asked,

Sergey Arachenko turned to the mercenary sergeant and shouted,

"A few more kilometers, Kulokov. Get ready."

"i Da Tovarisch Pulkovnik/i."

The sergeant barked orders and the other mercenaries on the back of the IFV, who made a quick check of their weapons and gear before nodding their readiness to Kulokov.

The sergeant slapped his commander on the back again, and gave a thumbs up when the mercenary leader turned around.

A few minutes later, the BMP ground to a halt, and the three soldiers and their commander leapt off of it and dashed forward along the sides of the road.

Sergey took a small radio off of his equipment harness and hit the transmit button,

"iKulak/i-One to iVoshkod/i-Two, coming up the road to your position at this time."

A few moments later, a reply of "Copied" crackled over the small civilian model radio.

Sergey waved his small team forward and they silently moved the final few meters to a BRDM armored car that had been camouflaged deep in the forest that lined both sides of the crude highway.

"Friendly's coming in." Sergey whispered out loud; his Siberian accented Russian a better recognition than any password or countersign,

"Colonel," a voice drifted up from behind the armored car "Forward element is just up at the edge of the trees."

Sergey nodded, and then motioned for his small squad to wait with the armored car before slinking forward towards the edge of the forest.

"Anyatoliy?" Sergey asked just before he broke out of the trees,

A large clump of dead brush a few feet forward of Sergey suddenly seemed to sprout a hand that motioned for the mercenary officer to come forward. Sergey got done on his belly and crawled over to the forward observation post. It turned out to be a small hole that had been scrapped out and then covered with dead brush and a few living plants, then reinforced with fallen timber. There were two soldiers inside, both wearing multicolored fatigues and camouflage face paint.

"Comrade Colonel." one greeted, nodding, while the other kept staring out through the scope of a Dragunov snipers rifle. Sergey looked out of the small dug out and across the dozen or so kilometers of clear ground between it and the mountain range, forest, and the narrow pass that he and his mercenaries were going to have to traverse to get at the Bosnian and Croatian towns and villages on the other side.

"Anything to report?"

"iNyet/i, we've seen a few flashes of movement in the woods, but it looks to be only deer or some other animal. One odd thing, though; we haven't seen any road traffic either coming or going along the highway."

Sergey's eyes narrowed,

"It makes some degree of sense, I think. The Fat Fucks people all seemed to be scared shitless of these mountains; they think they're haunted or some nonsense such as that. That would keep the Serbs away."

"And everyone else in this god-forsaken country?"

"Is either supposedly hiding in there…" Sergey began;

"Or dead." the sniper coldly finished Sergey's sentence for him.

"iDa/i." Sergey nodded, "The refugee camps across the border were too far away, I'd guess. But that means that if anyone iis/i holed up in those mountains, or the woods over there…" Sergey pointed to the foreboding looking forest that lined the pass and the lower slopes of the mountains, "They'll have nowhere else to run too when we head in."

The sniper grunted in agreement while the observer shook his head,

"They might keep quiet and let us through, if there really is someone there."

"Right, Vanya. I'm sure they'll just let us and the Serb monkeys through unharmed, so we can burn down their cousins and nephews villages on the other side of the mountain." the sniper scornfully spoke, his eyes never leaving the scope.

"Blow it out your asshole, Anyatoliy." the observer countered,

"Both of you shut up." Sergey hissed, and the two squabbling mercenaries promptly fell silent, "Keep eyes on that pass. I'm going back to see where the Fat Fuck and his morons are."

Sergey slipped out of the dug out and then crawled back to the BRDM and his squad before he unclipped the same small civilian radio from off of his ammunition vest and brought it to his lips;

"iKulak/i-One, this is iKulak/i Actual; radio back to Kilajader and get his position, will you?"

"Copy that, Actual."

Kulak slid over to his commanders position and asked,

"Did Anyatoliy and Vanya spot anything?" the burly sergeant asked,

Sergey shook his head,

"No, but that doesn't mean something isn't there. We need to wait till the rest of the unit gets up here, just in case."

Kulokov nodded, than hesitated a bit before saying,
"As much as you'd like to go charging in there by yourself and get shot full of holes, right?"

Sergey's eyes widened,


"We were in the same battalion in Afghanistan, colonel. I know what you and your platoon had to do, and I know you're the last one left. I also know that you're not out here in this tribalistic backwater for the money. You're no combat junkie either, sir. That leaves us with one option, does it not?"

Sergey glowered at his machine gun toting comrade, than nodded,

"I suppose it does."

Kulokov set a hand on his commander's shoulder,

"It doesn't do to live in the past, Comrade Colonel. There's nothing we can do to change it."

With that, the big sergeant nodded and slipped away, promptly disappearing into the thick underbrush from where he had come.

Sergey gazed after him, and then shook his head. The problem with forgetting the past was that every time he closed his eyes, he could still here the screams of every man, woman and child he'd killed that day in the Afghan mountains.

Sergey was still sitting next to the camouflaged armored car three hours later; he'd barely even noticed the spreading darkness that had covered the thin forest. He was brought back to reality by the radio clipped to his ammunition vest, which crackled to life as a voice came out of its small speaker,

"iKulak-1/i to iKulak/i Actual."

Sergey quickly unhooked the radio and brought it to his lips,

"iKulak/i actual here."

"Kilajader and his paramilitaries are two kilometers away; they should arrive momentarily."


i Back on Manhattan Island /i

Three gargoyles darted through the sky, high in the air above Fifth Avenue, oblivious to their surroundings as they made their way back to the massive sky scarper with its medieval adornment that they called home.

The three were eagerly recounting an earlier encounter they'd had that night,

"Did you see the look at the stupid junkies face?" Brooklyn laughed, both at the memory and the joy of using a word unique to this new modern world.

Lexington chortled,

"He had to be high, man. Seriously, who tries to take on three gargoyles with a broken bottle?"

Brooklyn and Lexington laughed harder, but the third gargoyle cut in,

"It seemed to work pretty well on that old man he was slicing up before we got there." Broadway pointed out, quickly cutting off the fun of the other two, "And let's hope that guy can get some help when the cops pick him up, otherwise we'll see him again."

The other two gargoyles glowered at their suddenly serious minded comrade,

"It's out of our hands after we break up the crime, Broadway." Lexington said,

"And I doubt that low life will be getting out of jail anytime soon."

The three glided on in a sudden moody silence, and Broadway gathered speed before drifting up close too his two friends,

"Look I'm sorry about that…"

Lexington and Brooklyn turned too look at Broadway.

"But it's just…you guys are confusing me."

Brooklyn raised a brow ridge,

"Do what now?"

Broadway heaved a sigh,

"Look, a few weeks ago you two were either pretty depressed, or pissed off, or…whatever. I thought you guys were resentful over…y'know…me and Angela…but now you both seem fine, almost ecstatic, all the time. What happened?"

"Oh, I see… your pissed because we're not resentful you got the girl…you're an egotistic bastard, aren't you?" Lexington growled.

"Wait, no! That's not what I meant…" Broadway trailed off as his two friends burst out in laughter, than glanced at each other; Brooklyn nodded to Lex, who turned back to Broadway,

"Look, we couldn't be happier for you and Angela, alright? Seriously, congrats man."

Broadway smiled,
"Well I'm glad you guys aren't mad anymore, but what's going on, really?"

Brooklyn laughed again,

"Lets just say, we've moved on. In fact lets say that we found…" before Brooklyn had a chance to tell Broadway what it was he and their web winged brother had found, the air between the three gargoyles was rent by a massive explosion which sent them hurtling in all directions, and then sent them falling towards the ground below.

They were almost even with the rooftops that lined the street s below before the startled gargoyles managed to catch more air currents under their wings and get themselves under control and even out their descent.
"Quarrymen!" Lex shouted as he looked up and spotted a pair of air skimmers bearing down from above.

Both skimmers opened up at seemingly the same time, pouring down a rain of crackling blue energy bolts,

"Watch out!" Brooklyn yelled as one of the bolts narrowly missed him, its charged passage leaving his hair standing on end, but the call came too late, as one of the bolts connected solidly with Lexington. The small web winged gargoyles eyes went wide, than closed, as his limp body suddenly fell towards the streets below.

Brooklyn and Broadway cried out in anger and fear as they watched their friend plummet back to earth, and they made a nearly identical dive to reach him before he connected with solid earth. Above them, the two skimmers let loose with a new weapons; charged electrical nets. Broadway shouted a warning to Brooklyn, and they both managed to dodge these bizarre missiles with relative ease. The skimmers promptly let loose with another barrage of electric bolt fire; all of it just barely missing the two gargoyles as they rushed to grab their comrade. Broadway got their first, but his hasty grab for Lexington was to fast, and he ended up joining his smaller brother on his trip to the ground for a few seconds before he regained some measure of control; Brooklyn quickly caught up with the pair, and with his help Broadway managed to slow his and Lexington's fall.

But by then, the asphalt below was barely ten feet away, and the trio was about to be forced to land on the busiest street in Manhattan.

iWestern Yugoslavia/i

Sergey and his small troop of ex-Soviet paratroopers and Special Forces were at their normal post at the head of the long column of Serbian paramilitary vehicles.

The Russian expatriates did their best to keep their eyes on their surroundings as the convoy ground forward towards the narrow mountain pass, but they kept stealing glances behind them, at a pair of open topped cargo trucks their employers had picked up, and filled, at some point between the last villages they'd raided and when they'd caught up with the mercenaries.

Sergey was turning his head back to the mountain pass when his eyes caught Kulokov's, who was doing the same thing.

The big sergeant shook his head and muttered before saying out loud;

"I was not sure I could feel worse about this business, colonel."

Sergey could quickly looked away, before Kulokov could get a read on his feelings.

Sergey, in all honesty, felt worse than his sergeant about the new addition to the convoy;

The Serb militia had rounded up all the women and girls from the last two villages, and had thrown them into the two trucks.

Sergey had been slightly confused when the two trucks had shown up with his troops paymasters, but that fat bastard Kilajader had gleefully explained that they were planning to sell them to "western buyers" in Amsterdam and Italy, who were in need of "fresh stock".

The fat bastard had laughed at Sergey's expression, and then, his voice loud enough so all the mercenaries could hear, had explained that this was how they'd been paying their wages from the start.

All of which had a wonderful effect in the normally ruthless mercenaries; despite their new calling, they regarded themselves as professional soldiers, and found the idea of being funded by slavery somewhat…distasteful.

None of that mattered in the end, of course, as the convoy moved into the foreboding mouth of the dark mountain pass.

"iVoshkod/i-two, iKulak/i-1 ," Sergey spoke into his throat mic,

"Move ahead of the column about a hundred meters and send me status reports every ten minutes."

"Copy that, iKulak/i-1."

The BRDM scout car at the head of the column accelerated and pulled away from the column; soon, it disappeared from view around a bend.

"All units switch to infra-red and night vision." Sergey continued.

He ignored the chorus of acknowledgements from his troops and reached down in the turret of his BMP for his pair of night vision goggles; like the Japanese made walkie-talkie radio on his ammo vest, the goggles came from America; a gift from a concerned Serb immigrant living in the United States, who nonetheless thought he needed to help out his mother country in her time of trouble.

Sergey looked out upon the landscape through a fuzzy green haze as the goggles powered on and illuminated the night. The eerie green glow did nothing to make the scenery less foreboding, Sergey noted, as he shifted the assault rifle in his lap and surveyed the deep forest that lined both sides of the road, broken occasionally by a steep cliff or rock face.

A few minutes later, the headphones on the mercenary leaders ears crackled with iVoshkod/i-2's first situation report .
"iKulak/i-1, we are eight kilometers into the pass; no contact so far."

"Copy that, iVoskod/i, keep moving."


Sergey turned to look behind him at the strung out convoy of military and civilian vehicles behind him, and nodded in satisfaction when he saw that the camouflage painted armored vehicles of his troop of mercenaries maintained a steady speed and a good distance between each vehicle. But sandwiched between the groups of disciplined Russian soldiers was a motley group of vehicles, clumped together in many places, of Serbian paramilitaries in vehicles ranging from Soviet made GAZ command cars to civilian cars and Mercedes trucks painted in bright blues and reds.

Sergey sighed in frustration; because all sides in the conflict were in the habit of using civilian vehicles, the Americans and their NATO allies had taken to attacking any vehicle on the road, including civilian trucks, cars and busses.

It was nasty little war he had found to die in, that was certain.

The convoy moved on in silence as they rolled ever deeper into the dark mountain pass.

Sergey lifted his night vision goggles off for a moment, and found that the world around him was pitch black; he could barely see his hand in front of his face.

i'This is unnatural'i/ Sergey thought,i 'There was a half moon out just last night, how could…'/i Sergey look upward, and found that the sky was completely dark; he couldn't spot a cloud a star, or any other light.

"iBozhemoi/i." he whispered.

And that's when the guttural, hellish roars exploded out of the depths of the forest, and the Serbs in the middle of the convoy began to scream.

i New York/i