The Wreck of the Margot
by Christine Morgan
christine@sabledrake.com / http://www.christine-morgan.org

Author's Note: as usual, the characters of Gargoyles belong to Disney
and are used here without permission. Chas and Eric were created by
Christi Hayden, my spirit-sister and psychic twin. I know nothing about
boats, so I'd like to apologize in advance for the bloopers I'm sure are
contained herein.

#34 in an ongoing saga.



"Are they closed?"
"Yes, they are," Margot Yale snapped. "What's taking so
long?"
"I just want to make sure everything's ready," Brendan
Vandermere replied, glancing at her to be sure that her eyes were,
indeed, closed. He parked the Lexus. "Don't peek yet!"
"I hate surprises, Brendan."
"You'll like this one!" He hurried around and opened her door.
She let him help her out, her nose wrinkling as she sniffed the cold air.
"Where are we, a fish market?"
"Not quite. Now, you can look!"
For once in his life he'd managed to stun his wife speechless.
She didn't know the first thing about boats, but even she was
bound to be impressed by the sleek, pure white majesty of the 180-foot
yacht. And its name, written in gold-edged letters three feet high: THE
MARGOT.
"Oh, my God, Brendan, how much did you spend?"
He told her, and she staggered on her high heels and had to
clutch the side of the car for balance.
"Isn't she a beauty?" he asked proudly. "I can't think of a better
use for the money my great-uncle left me."
"You hate sailing," she said when she'd finished gasping for
breath. "When my father took you out on his boat --"
"A different situation entirely. That was a sailboat. This is a
yacht, only one step removed from a luxury liner. Our own cruise ship,
Margot my darling."
"What in the world are we going to do with a yacht? Commute
by sea from Boston to Manhattan?"
"For starters," he said with a grin, "it'll be the perfect place to
host my sister's twenty-first birthday party."
Her eyes narrowed in speculation and he pressed on eagerly.
"Can't you just see it, Margot? All the best people, boarding
our private yacht for a cruise out to Grafton Point. Twelve-piece
orchestra. That caterer you've been dying to have an excuse to hire. And
you, the gracious hostess, wearing these." He handed her a black velvet
box.
She opened it, and gasped anew at the sight of the Vandermere
emeralds. "Brendan!"
"I didn't tell you, but Great-Uncle Cuthburt left those to me,
along with the money. I can't wait to see you wear them."
In a very uncharacteristic display, she threw her arms around
him. Even though she was wearing a full-length fur and he was bundled
up in a cashmere topcoat, he felt the supple curves of her body against
his, and knew there was one rich boy that was going to be getting some
sugar tonight. And they said money couldn't buy happiness!
"So, what do you say?" he murmured against her smooth
cheek. "Is it worth putting up with Tiffy for one evening?"
"Not to mention that trophy wife of your father's," she said
snidely, but he knew he'd won.
"Yes, mustn't forget her." He laughed. "If Dad hadn't married
her, _he_ would have been the one to inherit! But, since Great-Uncle
Cuthburt would rather die all over again than let Ginny get her hands on
dime one of his money, you and I benefit!"
She possessively stroked the velvet box. "Will Clive be upset
if I'm wearing the emeralds? Won't he think Ginny should have them?"
"I can handle my dad. At the most, he'll make some remark
like --" he huffed haughtily and pretended to peer through a monocle --
"they _are_ the Vandermere emeralds, after all, and if the Vandermere
_name_ isn't good enough for you ..."
"Oh, don't. I'll hear enough of that from him! You'd think I'm
the first woman in history to keep her maiden name!"
"Not only that, my darling, but you insist on working, and we
have failed to produce an heir to the illustrious Vandermere line." He
nuzzled her neck and she let him for a moment, then pulled away.
"If your sister kept her maiden name, then there would be
more Vandermeres," she smirked.
Brendan shook his head. "Not Tiffy. She can't wait to land
herself a rich husband. Which reminds me, you'll have to make sure
your nephew comes to the party so she can show him off to all her
friends."
"I'm sure Chas will be happy to attend. What a shame that we'll
forget to invite his sister."
"What a shame," he echoed, and they shared a smile. "I know
Tiffy will be just _devastated_ if Birdie isn't there. Now, come on, let
me show you around."

* *

Clive Vandermere tapped his pipe thoughtfully against the arm
of his chair. "It is a pretty dress, precious, but it seems, shall we say, a
bit old for you."
Tiffany Ann Vandermere rolled her eyes dramatically. "Dad-
dy! I'm not a little girl anymore! I'm going to be twenty-one! You
promised me any dress I wanted, you did!"
"I rather thought you'd fancy something frillier."
"This is a FoxFire Fashions original! They don't come in
'frilly'! Please, Daddy, pleeeeeeease?"
The dress in question was a not-quite-brain-searingly-vivid
fuschia number with a snug black bodice. Not only was the neckline
exceedingly low, but black-edged diamond cutouts ran from hem to hip
and from wrist to shoulder.
"It's not the most modest of things, now, is it?" Clive mused.
"You bought Ginny a FoxFire. And she's only six years older
than me!"
He refused to rise to the bait. "That color is terribly bright. A
nice rose pink suits you much better."
"Rose pink is for babies," she declared. "Muffy and Babs --"
He waved a hand to silence her. "To forestall a lengthy lecture
on what your friends are wearing and how much better than me their
fathers are, you may have the dress. It does look stunning on you.
You're the image of your mother when she was your age."
She preened at the compliment and turned to the mirror over
the mantle, sweeping up her hair and trying a few styles to see what
went best with the dress. "I bet Mommy's black pearl earrings would
look _so_ gorgeous ..."
Clive shook his head. "Now, Tiffany, you know I gave those to
Ginny."
She spun to face him. "You give her everything! It's not fair!"
"On this, I'm inflexible," he stated, and to prove the finality of
it, he lit up his pipe and opened the Wall St. Journal.

* *

"Oh, no," Charles Winthrop Yale III groaned as he sorted the
mail.
Eric glanced up. "Another bill, Chas? In trouble with the Visa
people?"
"Worse."
"Draft notice?"
"Worse." He held up a snazzy gold and black envelope. "Aunt
Margot strikes again. They're throwing a party for her husband's sister
on their new yacht."
"Sounds fancy."
Chas nodded soberly. "Large prawns do not qualify as finger
lobster."
Eric just looked at him. Chas had a quirky sense of humor, so
it was sometimes hard to tell when he was joking or what the joke was.
"Can't you get out of it?" he finally asked.
"Not a chance." He tossed the invitation on his desk and shook
his head. "Aunt Margot's got to put on a good show for all her
Vandermere in-laws. Dad will want me to go make nice with the rich
people. Never too soon to start making connections and helping my
career."
"And your mom will have your dance card already full of
debutantes," Eric finished with a knowing nod.
Chas groaned again. "You don't know the half of it. Uncle
Brendan's sister, Tiffy, has had a crush on me for as long as I can
remember. And since Tiffy does, so do Muffy and Babs."
"Tiffy, Muffy, and Babs?" Eric repeated, then laughed. "What
are they, cartoon rabbits?"
"No, serious!" Chas said. "They're weird! I mean it. Sincerely
weird. The three of them, they've been inseperable since grade school.
They even _look_ alike. Identical! Except that Tiffy's blonde, Babs has
black hair, and Muffy -- well, she says it's platinum blond, but it looks
white to me!"

* *

"Well, thank God she isn't coming," Muffy said, carefully
beginning the second coat of polish on her toenails. "I just know she'd
ruin everything."
"She would," Tiffy agreed. "You two weren't at Tina
Diamant's summerhouse last year, but Ginny made me go -- ooh, I hate
that woman! How dare she tell me what to do when she's not even my
mother? Anyway, some of us were playing with a Ouija board, totally
innocuous stuff, right? I'd asked it to tell me what my future held, and it
was spelling out 'a rich man,' at least, that's what it was trying to spell,
except it missed the 'i' and pointed to a 'g' instead of an 'n', and then in
comes Birdie."
"What was she wearing?" Babs asked disdainfully.
"Goodwill's spring line? Or something from the sale rack at Lane
Bryant?"
"She is _such_ a cow," Muffy remarked. "How can you stand
being related to her?"
"I'm not related to her," Tiffy protested. "She's my brother's
wife's niece, that's all. But she comes in, dragging another one of those
Sterling Academy rejects, who sees the Ouija board and starts going on
about how we shouldn't be messing with things we don't understand. It
was _so_ second-rate!"
"What was her problem?" Babs asked. "Was she afraid you
were going to call up Dracula?"
"Who knows? We were just having fun. But she spooked Tina,
so then nobody wanted to play anymore."
"Well, who cares about Birdie?" Muffy switched feet and
brushed at a strand of silvery-white hair that had escaped the towel she
wore turban-like around her head. "What I want to know is if Chas is
coming to the party."
Tiffy smiled. "Oh, he'll be there, but don't go getting any ideas!
I saw him first!"
"He likes me better," Babs pointed out, primping her shining
black tresses.
"He likes me best of all," Muffy said.
"When he sees my dress," Tiffy predicted, "you'll both be as
good as invisible!"

* *

"And let me remind you again, Raymond, large prawns do
_not_ qualify as finger lobster!" Margot hung up the phone and turned
to Brendan. "I swear, if he fouls up a single thing --"
"Now, darling, relax. He's the best in Boston."
"Yes, but I still can't forget your father's wedding."
"Who can?" Brendan muttered wryly. "Honestly, do you think
anyone remembers the lobster business? With everything else that
happened that night?"
She fixed him with a cool glare. "_I_ remember the lobster
business, and you can be sure that all of your father's friends do, too.
Those people don't miss a thing, Brendan."
"Darling, it was years ago --"
"As far as the Boston bluebloods are concerned, the American
Revolution was years ago. Your father's wedding was yesterday! And
not a function goes by that _someone_ doesn't mention that so-called
lobster!"
"Everything's going to be perfect," he said. "Why not just relax
and enjoy the party?"
"Relax? When there's still so much to do?"
"I didn't mean for this to all fall on your head."
"Well, who else is going to do it? Ginny? With her room-
temperature I.Q.? I'm sure she couldn't tell the difference between
finger lobster and fish sticks with a road map and a guide dog!"
"Margot, darling, settle down! You push yourself too hard.
The party is going to be perfect. I promise. Absolutely perfect."

* *

"You're sure this is going to work?"
"Look, if you're so worried about it, why don't you make the
arrangements?"
"Don't take that tone with me," he said.
The smaller man rolled his eyes. "Yeah, sure, whatever. I'm
just trying to tell you my people know what they're doing."
"It seems too risky."
"Getting cold feet now? Hey, if you want to cut and run, that's
fine with me. I'll keep all the money for myself."
"You owe me," the big man snarled. "If not for me, you'd still
be sitting in your prison cell."
"I had just as much to do with organizing that breakout as you
did!"
They glared at each other for a moment, then the big man
manufactured a wide smile. "We don't have to like each other, but we
make a good team."
"Yeah, we would if you'd trust me for a change. Now, listen.
The captain is one of mine. He'll see to it that the weapons are stowed
on board, and once the passengers are nice and liquored up, he'll take
the boat around past the lighthouse. I've got another dozen on board --
waiters, musicians, that sort of thing."
"Good, good. How do you and I get aboard?"
"Speedboat. It's small and quick, so we should be able to get
alongside without anybody noticing. It'll be too cold for these spoiled
rich people to be out on deck. They'll be inside. This is a rocket-grapnel
with retractable cable, hooks to a special belt. Point it, shoot it, pow!
and up you go."
"Ah. Just like your Batman."
"Huh?"
"Batman, the great American superhero."
"Yeah, whatever. Anyway, once we're on board, we round up
the rich people and help ourselves to their cash and jewelry, maybe
some fur coats. Once we've done that, we'll swing around and
rendezvous with your men."
"In the Coast Guard vessel."
"Exactly. Then the captain plots a course straight out into the
Atlantic, and disables the controls and the radio. Hours at least before
they get help, and by then we'll be in the clear. We should walk away
from this job with enough money to finance both of our businesses."
"What about the woman?"
"What woman?"
"Yale. The D.A. She was the one that put me away. I'd like to
thank her personally."
"Right! I've had a few run-ins with that bitch myself! Okay, so
maybe we grab a hostage. Think we could get a ransom for her?"
The big man spit on the ground. "Pah! Her husband would
probably thank us! And I'm not interested in ransom."
"Okay, suit yourself," he said, shrugging.
"Are you sure this captain of yours can be counted on to do his
job?"
"Glasses? Are you kidding me? He's the most loyal man I've
got! You're getting paranoid!"
"I prefer the term 'cautious.' I have no desire to end up back in
prison," Tomas Brode said.
"That's why we're going to do this right," Tony Dracon replied.

* *

"Charlotte! I'm so glad you could make it!"
"Lovely boat, Margot. Do you have a wireless fax machine?
Something's come up at the office. Oh, this is my husband, Drew." She
returned her attention to a cordless phone. "No, Johnathan, you're going
to have to get those files to Mr. Yamaguchi by Monday! I don't care
how you do it!"
Margot directed her to the fax machine, then checked yet again
to be sure the buffet was in order. Not a finger lobster out of place.
They _were_ finger lobster, tender and succulent, and the buttery
dipping sauce was free of greasy film.
The guests were arriving, in a parade of sleek luxury cars that
made the valet attendants' eyes sparkle with automotive lust. The
coatroom was a forest of mink, sable, and fox. Already, people were
mingling and chatting, the men in tuxedoes, the women in evening
gowns and brilliant jewelry.
But no jewelry was more brilliant than the Vandermere
emeralds. She'd chosen a simple black Dior gown and pinned her hair
up, so there was nothing to distract from the necklace. The central
emerald was the size of a half-dollar, surrounded by diamond-encrusted
gold, and progressively smaller emeralds marched the rest of the way
around her throat. The earrings were perhaps a little too big, a little too
flashy, but they caught the light wonderfully.
She drifted over to Brendan as he was greeting one of his old
friends from college, a dapper and fastidious blond man with thinning
hair.
"I'm so sorry that Meris couldn't attend," he was apologizing as
Margot joined them. "But she got stung by a bee and swelled up to a
size four, and simply _won't_ leave the house."
"Here comes Dad," Brendan murmured. "I can't wait to see the
look on his face when he spots the emeralds."
Clive Vandermere, who had the distinguished silver hair and
photogenic features of a man who could easily and successfully run for
high office, came up the gangplank. His second wife Ginny was
showing the smile must have made her dentist a wealthy man, cooing
and clinging to Clive's arm as she slithered along in a dress that looked
like liquid fire.
"I don't believe it, she's not showing the assets that made her
Miss Boston Tea Party of 1994," Margot observed, noting the lack of
plunging neckline.
"Now, darling, Dad swears that he voted for her because of her
'freshness and originality,' not her cleavage." Brendan was about to say
more, but then Clive helped Ginny off with her coat and they saw that
her dress, no matter how demure from the front, was backless down to
the start of her curvaceous behind.
"I stand corrected," Margot said.
"Must admit, it is fresh and original."
Clive paused to exchange pleasantries with a handsome dark-
haired man, then approached his son and daughter-in-law. "I see
Colecourt made it. Nice to have someone with a British accent around;
gives the place a touch of class."
"Despite those who drag down the average," Margot said
under her breath.
Clive glanced at her. "What was that, dear? Oh ... are those the
... they are! I say!"
"Great-Uncle Cuthburt left them to me," Brendan remarked
casually. "I thought we might as well show them off, rather than let
them gather dust in a vault."
"Ooh, Margot, they're gorgeous!" Ginny enthused, without a
trace of envy. "And this whole big boat, named after you! You're so
lucky!"
Margot sighed.
Clive forced a chuckle. "Better not let Tiffy see them. She
might rip them right off your neck. Maybe you should let her wear
them. After all, tonight's her night to shine."
"I think she'll shine enough. She always does." Brendan
steered Margot away before a catty comment could escape her lips.
"Come, darling, we have guests to greet. Isn't that William Harmond?"
The former senator, nearly as distinguished-looking as the
senior Mr. Vandermere, shook Brendan's hand while his tiny china doll
of a wife beamed at them. "Nice of you to invite us, Margot, Brendan."
"Glad you could make it, Senator."
"Bill," he corrected. "Or William, if you feel you must be
formal." He turned to Margot. "No hard feelings about our last
meeting?"
"Last meeting?" Clive Vandermere asked, having edged close
enough to overhear.
"Oh, she read me the riot act for speaking up in defense of
gargoyles." Harmond smiled at Margot, and she showed her teeth in
return and tucked her hands behind her back so nobody could see how
her fists clenched. "One of them saved our lives, brave little chap."
"I believe I saw something about that on the news," Clive said.
"That sinkhole in Manhattan?"
"It was horrifying," Judith Harmond piped up. She had a voice
like a bird, high and sweet. "Our car very nearly went in. If that young
gargoyle hadn't saved us ... why, I don't like to think of what might have
happened! We should all be grateful for those magnificent creatures."
Margot couldn't keep her mouth shut any longer. In her most
drippy, sympathetic voice, she said, "It's wonderful that you can feel
that way, especially after losing your daughter the way that you did."
She regretted it immediately, because poor Judith Harmond's
face seemed to shatter and such stark hurt leaped from her eyes that it
nearly knocked Margot flat. Everyone else stared in appalled silence.
Of all people, it was Ginny who spoke up. "Mrs. Harmond, I
was just going to powder my nose. Would you care to join me?"
"Yes, thank you," the older lady mumbled, and Ginny
shepherded her away with a single smoking glare at Margot.
"Senator --" she knew that calling him by his first name now
would not win her any points, even though he'd invited her to do so just
moments before "-- I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have mentioned it."
"You've upset my wife, Ms. Yale. We lost our daughter years
ago, when she ran away from home. It was only because of a
_gargoyle_ that we were able to know what had become of her. It was a
_gargoyle_ that gave her a chance at reaching her dreams. A _gargoyle_
that made her smile in the pictures I've seen. If she had come home to
us and wanted to marry that _gargoyle_, I would have gladly given my
blessing."
He took a deep breath, and when he exhaled, he was just a
sorrowful elderly man. "I will not have you mention this to my wife
again. Not gargoyles, not Julianna, none of it."
"I won't," Margot promised.
"Let's go see about some brandy, shall we?" Clive Vandermere
said, and walked off with Harmond.
"Damn," Margot breathed, and raised a hand to her brow.
"Margot, darling ..." Brendan began.
"I know what you're going to say. You're going to tell me that I
put my foot in it, two hundred dollar shoes and all. And you're right.
But you're also going to tell me that I've got to get off this hobbyhorse
about the gargoyles, and you're wrong!"
"Now, I'm the first to agree that they're ... well, destructive ..."
"I should hope so! How many cars, Brendan?"
He hesitated. "Are we counting the one the blonde woman
blew up?"
"Never mind! The point is, they're monsters. All right, so the
Quarrymen are extremist vigilantes, but they've got the right basic
idea!"
"Darling, do we have to talk about this tonight? Let's just try to
enjoy the party. We've got a ship full of important, influential guests --
look, here comes Mr. Burns -- and we're hundreds of miles from the
nearest gargoyle."

* *

"I think the mist is lifting," Broadway said, peering ahead of
the skiff, the pole clutched in his hands.
"What do you see?" Elektra asked, standing. "Is it
Manhattan?"
"Can't tell. There's some sort of a light -- yow!" The
exclamation burst from him as a rotating beam of light splashed across
his face.
"Mayhap 'tis a lighthouse," Elektra suggested.
"Might as well head that way and figure out where we are."
"Remember, wherever it is, it is where Avalon --"
"Thinks we need to be," he finished with her.

* *

"Hello, Chas!" Tiffy purred, and struck a pose.
"Oh, hi, Tiffy. Happy birthday."
Her brother's wife's nephew, good-looking, a Harvard man,
best catch on the entire boat, barely even looked her way before
returning to his conversation.
She deflated considerably, but the sounds of tittering mirth
from her two best friends spurred her on. She glided up to him and
twined her arm possessively through his.
The man Chas was talking to was about the same age and had
the same economic prospects, but he had freckles and was already
balding. Not even in the runner-up category. But at least his eyes
widened appreciatively as they swept over her.
"I said, hello, Chas. You're exceptionally handsome tonight."
"Thanks, Tiffy. You look nice too. I like your earrings."
"Do you?" She fingered the black pearls. "They were my
mother's. Daddy didn't want me to wear them, but I insisted."
"I bet you always get your way," the freckled man said.
"Tiff, this is Stuart Kaplan."
She tossed him a smile the way she might toss a stray dog a
scrap of meat. "Of the Boston Kaplans, of course."
"Of course. May I also wish you a happy birthday? Twenty-
one, old enough to do anything you like!"
"Yes, well!" she trilled. "What I'd like right now is the dance
Chas promised me."
"I did? Oh, right. Be back in a few, Stu."
Tiffy smirked at the fuming expressions on Muffy and Babs as
she and Chas took to the dance floor. "For heaven's sake, Chas, at least
act like you're enjoying yourself," she pouted.
"I am enjoying myself. It's a great party."
"Your aunt did a nice job," she admitted. "Not like my father's
wedding --"
"Large prawns. Sometimes I think people will be reminding
her of that on her deathbed." He danced well, but whenever she tried to
press her bosom against him, he kept his distance.
"Charles Winthrop Yale, you're impossible," she declared.
"What are you so worried about? This isn't a prep school mixer where
everyone has to have ten inches between them!" She batted her eyes.
"I'm sure you can manage at least eight!"
"Ha, ha. Tiffy, sorry, you're very pretty and all, but I'm just not
interested."
She was disgruntled but too well-bred to let it show, and didn't
miss a step. "Mind if I ask why? I've seen the girls they have at
Harvard; it _can't_ be a matter of looks!"
He laughed. "It isn't that. For one thing, if I go out with you,
I'm setting myself up for certain death from Muffy and Babs. I've
known you long enough to know how you three handle men. You fight
over them until there's nothing but pieces left, and then go off together
as chummy as if nothing ever happened."
She sighed exaggeratedly. "I was _hoping_ this would be the
perfect birthday! But first Margot gets the emeralds that should have
been mine, and then Ginny turns out to be the belle of the ball in her
nothing-to-the-imagination dress --" here Chas gave her a look as if to
say she should talk, which she ignored, "-- and now this."
"Please, Tiffy, don't turn on the waterworks. If it makes you
feel better, Aunt Margot got in a fight with Senator Harmond, and the
only thing keeping him at this party is the fact that he'd have to swim
back to his car."
She brightened, then glowered. "That's just like her, to ruin my
party! Why, did he comment on those _awful_ lobster?"
"No, gargoyles."
Tiffy shuddered, and used it as an excuse to sway closer to
Chas. "Ooh, don't even _mention_ those things! It's almost enough to
make a person want to avoid New York altogether!"
"Hey, we've done it!" Chas said. "We've found something else
you and Margot agree on! First Ginny, now gargoyles! You'll be doing
lunch at the country club in no time!"
"You are so immature, Chas. I don't know why I even bother!"
She waited in a well-practiced huff for him to apologize, but he only
stood there with an infuriatingly merry grin that made him seem even
more handsome. At least, Muffy and Babs, watching the scene, would
think he was being appreciative of her wit and beauty.
"Lighten up, Tiff," he said, and chucked her under the chin in a
gesture too brotherly to be flirtatious. "It's a perfect party and I bet
people will be talking about it for weeks!"

* *

"Broadway, is that another boat?"
"Yeah, a speedboat. But it's just sitting there with all its lights
and engine off. Maybe they're in trouble. Maybe they need help. Let's
go that way and check it out."
"Aye, quietly, lest there is some peril."
They poled the skiff closer, hugging the high rocky point so
that the lighthouse didn't expose them to the other boat, which similarly
floated in a pool of darkness.
Broadway was confident that a gargoyle's superior nightvision
would let them get a look before any humans on board could see them.
"Maybe drug runners, weapon smugglers," he whispered
eagerly.
"Methinks you watch too many action movies, my friend!"
Elektra teased. "Mayhap 'tis but some young lovers on a starlit sail."
He had to reject the first five or six things that came to mind,
all the while hearing her brother Corwin in the back of his head, asking
him when he was going to confess his feelings to her. He was glad she
was looking the other way, because he knew he was either blushing or
wearing a dopey smile, or, more probably, both.
He was saved from that awkward moment by a flashlight
beam, quickly hooded. In that brief pulse of illumination, though, he
saw something that almost made him drop the steering pole.
"Hey!" he blurted in a harsh whisper. "Did you see that?"
"Aye. 'Twas a man there, black of hair yet striped with white."
"That skunk-stripe is Tony Dracon! What's he doing out of
prison?"
The covered light made a faint glow on the speedboat, and
Broadway's eyes made out the shapes of two other men. All were clad
in tight-fitting black, and he saw that Dracon was pulling a ski mask
over his head. Then the biggest of the men moved, and Broadway saw
his face.
He nearly fell out of the skiff in his shock. "Brode!"
As if he'd called the man, Brode's gaze swung searchingly in
their direction, and for the first time Broadway was aware of how palely
Elektra's ivory skin stood out against the night. Well, it wasn't the
_first_ time he'd noticed, but it was the first time there was an element
of danger about the realization.
No time for debate. He swept her into his arms and wrapped
his wings concealingly around her slender form. His coloring was
darker than hers, nearly invisible in the night.
"Broadway!" she whispered, startled.
"Shhh!"
It just wasn't fair. Here he was, alone with Elektra, hugging
Elektra, and he couldn't even enjoy it because any second Dracon and
Brode might tear up the night with laser fire.
Brode turned away and pulled a mask over his head too. Over
the water came the muted sounds of metal clinking against metal, and
then the light was doused.
"Dracon and Brode," Broadway said, letting go of her but
keeping his body between her and them. "What are they doing working
together? Last time we saw them, they were trying to kill each other!"
"Who are these men? Knaves, ruffians?"
"Big time knaves and ruffians." He quickly briefed her on his
many prior encounters with Dracon, still as always feeling that horrible
churn of guilt he got whenever he thought of how he'd shot Elisa. Just
as he was finishing describing how they'd foiled Brode's attempt to take
over Dracon's turf -- and managing to do it without bringing up all the
stupid macho posturing that had gone on -- another boat came into
view, and he fell into awestruck silence.
The only thing he could think of was the opening scene in Star
Wars. Here they were in their tiny skiff, and Dracon and Brode in a
boat not much bigger. Then, from around the lighthouse point, came a
ship. A big ship. That went on and on. And on.
It wasn't stark Imperial grey, it wasn't bristling with weaponry.
On the contrary, it was blindingly white and lit up like a Christmas tree
with string after string of sparkling golden bulbs. Colorful Japanese
lanterns hung along the decks. The windows all blazed with light.
Silhouettes of people moved about to the faint strains of classical
music.
Elektra gasped in wonder. "What manner of craft be this?
Forsooth, never have I seen its like! Behold, there are letters upon it.
The Margot?"
Before Broadway could answer, the speedboat's engine roared.
It leaped forward, practically jumping from one wave to the next.
Broadway could see the men, and if they'd been looking this way, they
could have seen him too, because that yacht lit up everything for
hundreds of yards around.
"Highwaymen?" Elektra said. "Do those knaves mean to
attack?"
"That's why Avalon sent us here," Broadway declared. "We've
got to stop Dracon and Brode!" He poled the skiff to the rocky shore
and Elektra swiftly tied it off, then they climbed high enough to take to
the air.
The speedboat came up alongside the yacht. Dracon and Brode
swarmed up the side on climbing cables and were hustled through an
open door by a man in a white jacket. Even from here, Broadway had
no trouble recognizing Glasses, who he'd once held aloft by the skull
until the man decided secrecy wasn't all that important. The boat veered
away, unnoticed by anyone else on board.
He swooped closer, expecting to hear gunfire and screams, but
the party continued unabated. He caught an updraft and beckoned to
Elektra.
"What is our course?" she asked. "It seems there is a gathering
aboard, not unlike Oberon's. Such finery -- these folk are highborn and
wealthy."
"That must be why Dracon's here. It's a floating buffet for a
thief like him! Come on!"
"But, Broadway." She spread her hands and looked down at
herself. "Would they accept our aid?"
"We'll worry about the dress code later." He glided down and
landed on the walkway that ran along the side of the boat and looked
through the windows, trying to spot trouble.
He spotted it right away, though it had nothing to do with
Dracon or Brode. Trouble wore a black Dior gown.
"Uh-oh," he said. "I was really hoping that was a coincidence!"
"What?" Elektra landed beside him.
"That's Birdie's aunt. Oh, crud, and there's her parents and
grandpa."
"Is Birdie here, then?" Elektra asked brightly.
He shook his head. "She wouldn't be caught dead at one of
these snob-fests. There's Chas, though. Her brother."
"So these folk are friends of your clan."
"Not hardly. Margot, the lady with the necklace, hates our
guts. That guy is her husband. We've banged up his car a few times, and
it kind of made him upset. Even though it looks like he can afford all
the cars he wants!"
"Oh, but aren't they magnificent? Their clothes, so beautiful,
so colorful!"
"You should have worn the dress Fox made for you! Then
you'd fit right in!"
She blushed a creamy rose hue. "I don't quite dare, truth be
told. It astonishes me that she hopes to sell such garments."
"Yeah? Look again." He pointed. "At least four of those
women are wearing her stuff. That one in the red, and those three
girls --"
Elektra gasped. "Upon my word, can it be?"
"What?"
"The Sisters, here? In mortal guise? Many times have I seen
them upon Avalon, for the Magus was no friend of theirs and they did
come often to gloat his passing. But see! There, and there, and there! I
am certain of it!"
"Okay," Broadway said slowly, puzzlement creasing his face.
"So what are they doing here? And dancing with Birdie's brother? And
where do Dracon and Brode come into it?"
He got an answer to one question right on cue. The band
stopped playing mid-sonata, and as people were turning toward them in
mild confusion and surprise, their faces suggesting that they were
expecting one of their own to be comandeering the microphone for an
announcement or a toast, the the band members whipped out machine
guns and fired bursts into the ceiling.
Gunfire and screams. A little later than Broadway had
anticipated, but here it was. Chandeliers exploded and crystal shards
rained down on the expensive hairdos of the partygoers.
"Nobody move!" a voice commanded. Tomas Brode, his
accent thick as ever, strode into the middle of the room with a weapon
that looked better suited to sitting on top of a tank.
Broadway's spirits sank. Dracon and Brode, he could have
handled. Even Dracon, Brode, and Glasses. But a dozen thugs with the
military budget of a small country? Bad news, bad news indeed.
"Everybody cooperate, and nobody gets hurt," Tony Dracon
added, producing a large quilted sack. "Now, gentlemen, how about
ponying up your contributions to our retirement fund?"
None of the guests seemed particularly forthcoming, until
Brode started jabbing people meaningfully with the barrel of his gun.
Then, with extreme reluctance, the men gave up their wallets, money
clips, silver cigar cases, pocket watches, cufflinks, jeweled tie tacks,
and other odds and ends.
"Ladies too," Brode said, approaching the trio of young
women. "Let's not be having discrimination, shall we?"
Elektra tensed expectantly, and Broadway found himself
waiting for the moment when the Weird Sisters would shuck their
disguises and turn Brode into something even more disgusting than he
already was.
He was going to have to wait a long time for that moment. The
three women huddled together until Brode seized the blonde and jerked
her forward so roughly that she almost spilled out of her fuschia-and-
black Foxfire gown.
Incredibly, she shrieked at him, "You can't do this! It's my
birthday!"
Brode and Dracon exchanged a glance that was probably
bemused under their ski masks. "Oh? How old are you?" Brode asked
"For God's sake, Tiffy, shut up!" Margot Yale's husband --
Brendan, that was his name, Broadway suddenly remembered --
shouted.
"Twenty-one," she announced imperiously.
"Twenty-one," Brode repeated with a thoughtful nod at
Dracon. "Well, that is special." And then he whirled her around and
spanked her on the behind, loud whacks. "One, two, three --"
Tiffy's screams were indignant and ear-piercing, and the rest of
the crowd was too flat-out stunned to do anything but stare.
"Leave her alone!" the brunette cried, taking a bold step
forward. And a quick, mincing step back as one of the band members
pointed his gun at her. She clung to the white-haired one, and no signs
of magic were forthcoming.
"And one to grow on!" Brode's last spank would have knocked
Tiffy off her feet if he hadn't been holding her by the arm. He spun her
around again, peeled his ski mask up to his nose, and gave her a deep,
invasive kiss.
"Are you finished?" Dracon asked irritably. He scanned the
room, then froze as he caught sight of Margot Yale, around whose neck
gleamed a fortune in emeralds. "Well, well, what have we here?"
"You sons of bitches!" she screeched, turning to the nearest
thing at hand -- which happened to be the buffet table -- and the next
thing Broadway knew, the air was filled with a barrage of canapes and
finger lobster.
"Margot, for God's sake!" Brendan cried.
"They've ruined my party!" And *splat!* went a custard-filled
pastry against Tony Dracon's chest.
"Hey!" Dracon protested. He seized up a silver tray of
mushrooms stuffed with shredded crabmeat and feta cheese, dumped
them over her head, and used the tray as a shield.
Broadway started to laugh. He just couldn't help it. This was
the most expensive food fight he had ever seen. Everyone else in the
room was still stunned and horrified, except the blonde called Tiffy,
who tried to slap Brode and succeeded only in tearing the mask off his
head.
"Tomas Brode!" Margot gasped, shaking mushrooms from her
hair.
An explosion shook the ship, drawing startled cries from the
passengers. The Margot listed terribly to one side, wallowed like a sow,
then recovered and picked up speed.
"There's the signal!" Brode called to Dracon. "Your man's just
blown up the helm!" He grabbed Tiffy and twisted her arm behind her
back, making her gasp in pain.
"Chas, do something!" Tiffy's brunette friend ordered.
"Just try it, pretty boy," Brode snarled, "and I'll break her arm
off and beat you with the shoulder end." He emphasized by jerking
Tiffy's arm higher, and she wailed.
Broadway wasn't laughing anymore. He threw a quick glance
Elektra's way. "Guess the ball's in our court after all. You'd better stay
here."
"No," she replied instantly. "We must protect these people."
"Don't expect a thank-you note," he muttered, then folded his
wings around his head and dove through the plate-glass window. Before
the shards had finished falling, he had rolled most of the way across the
floor, come up in a crouch, and bellowed, "Dracon!"
Everyone whirled toward him, Tony Dracon fastest of all.
Broadway drew himself to his most impressive height, sucking
in his gut and spreading wide his wings. "It's over, Dracon!"
Elektra sprang through the hole he had made, landing catlike
on a table. She no longer looked the least bit demure and proper, not
with her eyes glowing jack-o-lantern orange and her pearly fangs bared.
"Gargoyles!" someone screamed.
The room trembled on the edge of panic.
"They're here to help us!" an elderly man shouted.
"Aaaagh!" Tony Dracon thrust his laser rifle toward
Broadway. "You again!"
Just as Dracon pulled the trigger, Margot Yale brought one of
her two-hundred-dollar shoes up like she was punting a football. A
scrawl of laser beam scorched the shining hardwood floor, making an
abstract design all around Broadway's feet.
"There's the kick in the ass the legal system couldn't give you!"
Elektra leaped toward Brode, feinted to the left, and whipped
her tail around his gun. She yanked it from his grasp, making him
stumble and knocking Tiffy into her two friends.
Now the panic that had been briefly forestalled by the elderly
man's assurance boiled over.
The band members swung their machine guns at the
stampeding crowd. Broadway hefted a table overhead, spilling a floral
arrangement and a bunch of napkins with "Happy Birthday Tiffany"
embossed on them.
He hurled the table at the band. It flew across the room like a
comet with a linen tail and scored a direct hit on the platform, the
instruments, and the armed men.
Brode swung at Elektra, a glancing blow. She returned the
favor with a vicious swipe. Had she been a full gargoyle, her talons
would have taken the side of his face off. As it was, she only laid it
open in a ragged flap that exposed the cheekbone.
Dracon was facing Margot now. The barrel of his laser rifle
was inches away from her face. Despite the kick and the chaos, he was
keeping his cool. With his other hand, he tore the necklace from her.
She winced as the clasp dug into her flesh, then snapped.
"Come on, sugar," he said, stuffing the necklace into his
pocket. "We need a hostage, and you're elected."
"Margot, no!" Brendan charged at Dracon, but stopped short
when the laser rifle put a neat, smoking hole through his collar.
"Next shot won't miss, rich man," Dracon sneered.
Broadway was about to rush Dracon when he saw Brode head-
butt Elektra so hard she crumpled into a dazed heap.
"Elektra!" His eyes became white supernovas and he was on
Brode without fully realizing how he'd gotten there. He grabbed the big
man in a bear hug and squeezed until Brode whistled like a teakettle.
At that moment, Glasses raced into the room. He was wearing
a white jacket with gold braid and a silly captain's cap, but he was
carrying a gun just like the one Brode had dropped. He did a horrified
double-take when he saw the gargoyles, then swung up his gun and
fired it into the ceiling over Broadway.
Huge chunks of plaster and wood crashed down. Broadway
grunted and dropped Brode, and fell to one knee.
"I've blown the helm," Glasses yelled to Dracon. "Let's get out
of here!"
Broadway shrugged off the debris and got up, just in time to
take a solid punch in the jaw from Brode. It made his head reel and he
sagged down again. He fought to keep his eyes focused, and saw
Dracon, Glasses, and Brode hustling out of the room with Margot Yale
in their midst.
Then, cliche as it was, everything went dark.

* *

"The radio's out and we can't regain control of the ship!" one
of the crewmen said.
Brendan barely heard and didn't care. "Margot! Margot!"
"Thank heaven, the Coast Guard!" someone cried.
"Let me go, you bastard!"
Brendan saw his wife struggling with the three men as they
tried to load her into one of the yacht's lifeboats, which his own disloyal
captain began frantically working to lower.
Heedless of his own safety, Brendan ran along the deck. He
shoved mayors, bankers, society matrons, and congressmen out of his
way, and hurled himself over the rail into the lifeboat.
He landed on the one called Brode, and as luck would have it
one of his flailing elbows whacked Brode just over the ear and knocked
him out.
"Brendan, you idiot, what are you doing?" his wife said by
way of grateful welcome.
"You'll never get away," Brendan announced. "Here comes the
Coast Guard! They'll put an end to your crime spree!" He pointed
triumphantly at the approaching vessel, and faltered when Dracon and
Glasses both began to laugh.
"Those are our partners, quiche-for-brains!" Dracon jeered.
Infuriated, Brendan grabbed the first thing he could get his
hands on. It was the heavy sack of money and jewelry. He swung it, and
to his surprise it smashed right into Dracon's face and sent him tumbling
backward and overboard.
Dracon caught hold of the edge of the boat. The whole thing
tipped, the ropes that held it squealing in protest.
"Glasses!" Dracon called, dangling above the water.
The ex-captain, Glasses, seized Dracon's forearms and held on,
trying to help him climb back in. Their every move made the lifeboat
rock and sway crazily.
"Quick, Margot!" Brendan boosted his wife toward the rail of
the yacht. "Grab on!"
"To what?" she complained peevishly, evidently not noticing
just how heroically he was rescuing her. "I can't reach!"
Brendan stepped onto Brode's thick chest and pushed her
upward, realizing as he did so just how many times he'd put off using
his expensive fitness equipment.
She finally got the hint and made an effort. Other hands,
crewmen and guests, came down to help her the rest of the way.
"Good job, son," Clive Vandermere said, looking over the side
at Brendan. "Now it's your turn. Upsa-daisy."
Brendan reached for his father's hand, but just then Glasses
gave an extra-hard tug, like a fisherman landing a big one, and pulled
Dracon into the boat. It proved too much for the ropes. One snapped,
and the stern swung down.
Dracon, who had just started to heave a relieved sigh, fell into
the water. Glasses also went in, head first. Brode slipped out from under
Brendan's feet and both of them looked likely to follow, but then the
other rope gave way and the lifeboat splashed into the waves.

* *

"Broadway! Hey, Broadway!"
He groggily opened his eyes to find Chas Yale looking
anxiously down at him.
"You okay?"
"Elektra!" He bolted up.
"I'm here," she said, rubbing at her brow like a woman filming
an aspirin commercial.
"Did he hurt you?" Broadway hitched over to sit beside her,
and took her face tenderly between his palms. "I'll --"
"Uh, excuse me," Chas said.
Broadway flushed and pulled his hands away. Then something
occurred to him. "Hey, how'd you know my name?"
"Birdie's showed me pictures of the whole clan. Except this
lady; she must be new. But, look, we can do the small-talk thing later.
Those two guys got away, and they took Aunt Margot with them." He
grinned wryly. "I know she's not your favorite person, but ..."
"Saving _her_ from Dracon. Talk about the lesser of two
evils." Broadway helped Elektra up.
The panic in the ballroom had temporarily abated, but now a
throng of guests came back in, babbling to each other that the ship was
out of control and they were headed straight for the point.
"We're going to crash!" the white-haired girl who wasn't a
Weird Sister wailed, and burst into mascara-ruining tears.
"When does Sandra Bullock turn up?" Chas murmured.
Broadway laughed despite himself, liking this brother of
Birdie's now that he'd met him. But his laughter cut short when Elektra
turned to him, her face pale. "She speaks true, Broadway. Behold!"
The lighthouse was looming large and dead ahead. And if
anything, the yacht was picking up speed.

* *

"Know you aught of boats?" Elektra asked urgently.
"Not a thing." Broadway stared at the confusing array of
equipment, then looked at Chas. "Any hints?"
"I'm on the rowing team; give me an oar and maybe I could do
something."
The problem was further complicated by the fact that there was
a big blackened and melted patch, and the remains of a bomb.
The crew were useless, since it turned out half of them had
been on Dracon and Brode's payroll and jumped overboard to be picked
up by the stolen Coast Guard ship, and the remaining ones had joined
the panicked free-for-all that had engulfed the guests.
People were running forward, running aft, fainting, yelling,
and generally carrying on. Some had held onto enough presence of
mind to call for help on their cellular phones since the radio was out,
and others were trying their luck getting the other lifeboats launched,
but most were in a heck of a state.
"I don't suppose you know any magic that might come in
handy?" Broadway asked hopefully.
Elektra shook her head. "Remember, I am no sorceress, not
without a book of spells. But mayhap if we damage the machines that
make this craft sail ...?"
"Good idea! Chas, where's the engine room?"
They started for the stairwell, but their way was suddenly
blocked by trouble in a Dior gown, though by now it was a badly
stained and rumpled Dior gown. "Haven't you monsters done enough?"
"Aunt Margot! You're okay!"
"Hardly!" she said. "That idiot husband of mine decided to
play hero. Now, look at this mess! The party's ruined! All thanks to
these --"
"Muzzle it, lady, we're trying to save people's lives!"
Broadway barked, and hustled past her down the stairs.

* *

Tomas Brode regained consciousness to find Brendan
Vandermere half-sitting on him, kicking ineffectually at Dracon and
Glasses as they tried to scramble into the lifeboat.
He blinked to clear his groggy eyes and looked around, seeing
the yacht on a direct course toward Grafton Point. One Coast Guard
vessel, the one his men had stolen, was swinging away from it. In the
distance, many more lights were headed this way. Ships, and even
helicopters.
He also saw the speedboat streaking across the waves toward
them. Heinrich's loyalty was admirable although his good sense could
be questioned.
Brode sat up, wincing as the movement triggered new pain in
his torso, and hoped that the gargoyle's grip hadn't broken any bones.
He yanked Vandermere around and pistoned a fist into his
face. The man's head snapped back and he went limp. Brode dropped
him into the muck sloshing around in the bottom of the boat and turned
his attention to the others.
He briefly considered caving in both of their skulls and ridding
himself of Dracon once and for all. He still loathed the arrogant
American scum, but Dracon's potential usefulness outweighed the
satisfaction Brode would get by seeing him sink beneath the waves.
He hauled them both into the boat, then unclipped a small
flashlight from his belt and signaled to Heinrich.
"Well, _that_ sure didn't go as planned," Dracon said when he
was through spitting seawater.
"Thanks to the gargoyles," Glasses added. "Where the hell did
they come from? I recognized that blue one; he's from New York!
What's he doing in Boston?"
Dracon shrugged. "Don't care, don't want to know." He picked
up the bag and held it against his chest. "We got what we came for,
anyway."
"Except the woman," Brode said, scowling.
"Cash first, revenge later," Dracon said. He stood as the
speedboat zipped alongside, and Brode resisted the impulse to plant a
foot in his rear and send him over.
"What about him?" Glasses asked, nudging Vandermere with
his toe.
"Leave him." Brode produced a knife.
"What, you're going to ventilate the guy?" Dracon said.
Brode ignored him, bent, and drove the knife through the
bottom of the boat. Water welled up like blood from a wound. He
worked it back and forth, widening the hole. "There. That will keep him
busy."

* *

The door was locked and there wasn't time to search around
for whoever had the key, so Broadway resorted to brute force.
"Wow," Chas said softly.
"Indeed," Elektra murmured in such a way that made
Broadway want to lift lots more heavy things.
The rest of the yacht was dazzlingly clean and bright, but the
engine room was just as dark and dingy as Broadway expected, full of
mysterious machinery and hissing valves and grease-clotted levers as
thick as a man's arm.
"Okay, somewhere down here's gotta be a fuel line or
something that we can break to slow this baby down. But I don't want to
hit a steam pipe and scald us all to death."
"Why is it," Elektra said to Chas as Broadway peered at a
schematic pinned to the wall, "that you alone are not panic-struck?
Even those who do not fear _us_ fear that this ship might crash or sink,
yet you seem unconcerned."
He smiled, the sort of handsome-guy smile that might have
worried Broadway under other circumstances. "Birdie told me about
your clan. She trusts you, so I do, too. Either you'll save the ship, or at
the very least, I'm thinking you'll give me a lift out of here."
"That we shall do, if nothing else." She returned his smile, and
circumstances or no circumstances, Broadway fought down a twinge of
worry. Chas was exactly the sort of guy someone like Elektra should be
with. Classy, charming, good-looking enough to be on the cover of GQ.
"Found it!" He squeezed past a big pipe, suddenly afraid that
he might get stuck and really look like a dolt. He did reach one point
where he was sure he'd wedge like a cork in a bottle, but he turned
sideways and got through with only a couple of scrapes on his wings.
"This should do it!"
He ripped, pummeled, and gouged until a loud silence fell.
"You did it!" Elektra cried joyfully, and darted easily through
the maze of machinery to give him a congratulatory and all-too-brief
hug.
"But we're still moving," Chas said.

* *

Her engines were cut, but momentum had the Margot in its
relentless grip.
The lighthouse loomed closer and closer, washing the deck
with sun-bright pulses.
Slower she went, and slower.
Those guests that hadn't managed to escape in the other
lifeboats now started leaping overboard. Coast Guard ships, these ones
legitimate, swept in to gather them up, but could do nothing to change
the course of the yacht.
Slower still, and her bottom was dragging along the seabed.
Three figures burst onto deck.
A house-sized boulder punched a long ragged hole in her keel.
Her prow sheared off the tops of some weathered, stunted trees. The
fierce light now beamed over the yacht instead of on it, casting it in
flickering shadow.
"Hold on tight!" the biggest of the three figures yelled.
The Margot shuddered as she grated across rocks. Her whole
front end burst out of the choppy waves and onto the rocky point.
Two of the figures spread their wings and leaped.
For a moment, the huge yacht seemed to be rearing like a wild
horse. Then she came down at an angle and smashed the entire
lighthouse from its foundations.
She heeled over to her starboard side. Her stern flirted around
and wiped out the building that had been connected to the lighthouse,
sending the keeper and his family fleeing.
Still, she did not come to rest, but rolled back off the point into
the distressed surf. A swell picked her up and threw her against the
rocks again, and she cracked apart like an egg.

* *

"Brendan is going to croak." Chas shook his head
unbelievingly as Broadway set him down on Grafton Point. "He blew a
fortune on that boat."
"There was nothing more we could do!" Elektra said
defensively.
"Hey, I wasn't blaming you! If you two hadn't come in when
you did, they would have hurt, maybe killed, a lot of people. And if
Broadway here hadn't gotten the engines off, we would have plowed
into the rocks full-speed. You're heroes."
"Uh-huh, tell it to your aunt," Broadway grumbled.
"I will," Chas said firmly.
"In the meanwhile," Elektra said, "we should mayhap distance
ourselves from this place, lest in the fever of the moment, those who
might otherwise be grateful seek to lay fault at our feet." She gestured
to the approaching emergency rescue vessels and the helicopters. "This
all has caused quite a stir."
"Yeah, you're right, we'd better make ourselves scarce."
"Thanks." Chas offered his hand to each of them in turn. "See
you around."
"Will you be well?" Elektra asked. "We could bear you
elsewhere."
"No, thanks, this is fine. I've got plenty of rides to choose
from."

* *

"Fortune was with us, that we left the skiff on this side of the
point," Elektra remarked as they poled away from the commotion.
Broadway winced. "I didn't even think of that! Yeah, it was
pretty lucky!" He sighed. "We could have handled all that better."
"I thought you were most splendid," she said. "So very brave,
against those villains with their weapons!"
"Aw, well ..." he blushed. "You were pretty brave too, going
after Brode like that."
She smiled, rubbing at the purple knot that had risen on her
brow. "Yet he got the better of me. 'Tis true, the clan from whence I
came had little experience as warriors. No cause for such, until the
Archmage attacked us. I should like it if you would be so kind as to
teach me some small measure of your skill."
"I'd be happy to!" He was so busy beaming at her that he didn't
see the other craft until the prow of the skiff whammed into its side.
Elektra rocked forward and clutched the sides. "What was
that?"
A low, muffled groan answered her from the lifeboat.
"Oh, no, it's Brendan!" Broadway said, recognizing the man
who lay in a semiconscious heap. His head was barely out of the water
that was filling the boat.
"We must help him!"
Broadway dragged him into the skiff. Something fell out of
Brendan's cummerbund as he did so, something cold and hard and
jointed like the skeleton of a snake. Elektra picked it up.
"The necklace of emeralds the rogue called Dracon took," she
said. "It must have fallen from his pocket."
"He's okay. Looks like someone used him for a punching bag.
We'd better turn around."
"Broadway?"
"Yeah, I know, it's not a good idea. They'll probably try and
arrest us. But we can't leave him in that boat; it'll sink before anyone
else finds him."
"Broadway, look."
He looked. "What?"
"The mist. Behold, how it closes about us! Our task here is
complete and onward we must go!"
"But what about him? You can't be suggesting we take him
with us!"
She spread her hands. "I suggest nothing. Avalon's power has
seized us. Even did we turn back, we would not come to the place we
had left. Mayhap ... mayhap this man shall be needed upon our quest.
Suppose 'tis Avalon's will that he accompany us?"
"_This_ guy? Oh, come on, Elektra!" He brought the skiff
around, but soon was forced to admit she was right. He couldn't see the
other boats, the rocky point, any of it.
Only the mist, and the suddenly-gentle sea.

* *

The End.