73 - "Officer Down"

March 11th, 2002
A light spring drizzle cast down upon the barren asphalt paths and blurred the sharp edges of a Manhattan neighborhood hidden within the labyrinth of dwelling, building and winding road, blending the rows of townhouses into one seemingly endless line drifting far into the darkened horizon, and washing away the grime left behind by the receding snow in ruddy, bronzed streams of rainwater. It lay a soothing harmony across the metal cast bodies of the vehicles lining the smaller residential street, and danced a sweet song of nature upon sheets of painted steel, plastic and aluminum.

They stood watch outside, huddled in their police cruiser to soak up any spare warmth and nursed styrofoam cups, having bred a waft of steam coalesced into a cinnamon tainted vapor crawling it's way across the vinyl interior of the vehicle's roof. Seeing their target within his temporary refuge, where the dim light strummed by the falling rain poured out from the windows, warranting his faint silhouette through the partially drawn blinds, the officer sighed and resumed the silent task of watching the street beyond the water-streaked windshield. She twitched and roamed in her seat to awaken her legs, numbed and pinpricked by deadened nerves by the same position for hours now, and sighed in jaded fatigue. Her partner sitting behind the wheel merely flicked his eyebrows, a reminder without breath of their duty.

"It's been more than eight hours..." she whispered over the rising steam, redirecting the sweetened mist with every movement of her lips. "I can't believe I'm saying this, but...I almost wish something would happen..."

And like a clap of thunder having arisen warningly from the storm, the windows on either side of the cruiser were blown into the interior, showering the officers in a spray of tempered, tinted glass and allowing the wetted scent of rain to quickly permeate the car. Gloved hands reached in through the holes cracked in a spider-web pattern and forced white rags to each of the officers' faces, smothering their mouths with the biting, anesthetizing scent of pure chloroform. They struggled against the chemical swathed rags stealing away their consciousness, the smaller woman almost brought to tears in the fumes laying siege upon her eyes, and her futile fight against a much stronger opponent becoming only just that, futile.

Her vision blurred to the rain outside the glass, and her hands relaxed themselves about the intruder's muscled arm, her nails having clenched so intensely into the leather as to leave distinctive tears in even the thick fabric. Eventually the embracing darkness would claim her within a serenity contemptuously addicting, her form becoming limp and resistless to the ravages of an enforced slumber, as did her partner's. The shadows slipped away and into the obscuring spell of rain where they sought sanctuary between the falling droplets, and climbed the steps of the townhouse with a purpose not to be denied.


He could think now only of his children, his daughter and younger son, as he roamed nervously the safehouse's aged wooden floor, each step a hollow echo mercilessly ringing across the wide expanse of the townhouse. Even a privilege as simple as sleep had eluded him, even a gift as pleasing as putting his children to bed had been cruelly stolen away for his own safety against an invisible foe taking the lives of his trusted comrades if only for a weak theme. Weak, and cowardly, at least to him. Now trapped in this empty house as if a butterfly in a bell jar, he wandered within the darkness with the shadows as his only companions, fearing each and every creak and audible crack released from the varnished slats beneath him.

"Hernandez." A shrill knock succeeded the low brogue from outside the front door, and he jumped in fright when the unexpected sound erupted through the entire townhouse, as if the clouds had opened up to allow a drop of fire into the streets. "Open up, please. We've gotten reports that Smith has been attacked."

"Damn." he muttered, winding his way quickly to the door. His safety and judgment forgotten in the news of a friend, he unlatched the heavy oak door and opened the entranceway to a grayed contour in gnarled human shape, his eyes reflecting a deep golden amber underneath the brim of a stolen police hat. "Is she all right?"

"No." A gun was pulled from the heavy leather coat, and pointed directly at him. "She's dead."

Hernandez shuddered, surprised in the weapon being aimed so mercilessly and purposely between his eyes. "What the hell?"

"You have been targeted, officer Hernandez." the agent warned soberly, a wraith given form by the shadows and the dripping water.

And even as the hollowed steel pressed against clammy, moist skin, he pleaded, "But...my kids..."

"Will hopefully grow up untainted by what you strived to conceal, race-traitor." The agent pulled the trigger and unleashed the shaped steel into fragile human flesh, tearing apart the dark copper-tinted peach of his Hispanic ancestry and trading it for deep, staining crimson. Hernandez was jerked back by the sheer power of the bullet, his head effectively emptied of its contents through a massive, cavernous hole as the projectile passed through and streaked a scarlet trail followed by disembodied gray matter coating the antique veneer surfaces in lost dreams and sodden, shattered memories. The officer's body fell into a heap, his eyes left open and staring blankly at the ceiling, as his lungs pushed the last, rasped breath into his throat, and a dying gasp escaped. "Agent Blue to base." the man called into his cellphone, stepping into the house slightly to see the body almost drowning in the massive, growing pool of blood running across the floor in a languid, creeping viscosity, seeping into the cracks between the floorboards and forever staining this place with his essence. "Hernandez has been neutralized. Only Bluestone remains."



"Good." he answered, and stowed the phone back into his long, trailing jacket. It had begun, the cleansing of the traitors to his race, those who took an oath to protect having silenced either wilfully or forced by a higher authority the worst possible threat to his world. To protect his remaining family and her place in the world, he would force open the heavens themselves with his bare hands and lay a bullet through the lord's condemning gaze.

His handprint, his verification, the fire-filled breeze of cloying oxygen, he stepped into the room housing his greatest treasure and towards where a fallen angel lay eternally close to death in the light of silk set aflame. He pulled back the netting and approached his daughter, the young woman resting peacefully with the constant company of droning machinery. "It has begun," he whispered to the corpse, pallid and unmoving, "your world will be free soon."

"...free...of what?" she answered, surprising the older man in her receptiveness to his words thought fallen on deaf ears. She opened her eyes, and surrounded by pale, dried skin came the light of life set in deep emerald jade. "Of creatures I have known all my life by only your stories?"

"They are not stories, Sarah." His eyes thinned beneath a furled brow, as his voice became grave. "They are an actuality far too real. Like spilled from some madman's nightmare, they infest us. They cause destruction and death. And pain..."

"Maybe..." she gasped, reaching for any breath. "But maybe they're just...misunderstood."

He leaned back, trailing fingers across a brow creased by age and pain and a constant flood of memories threatening to consume him. "Of course." he muttered in revelation, releasing from her hand and drifting through the netting towards the only other piece of furniture in the vast, cold sterility of this chamber. A grand piano within a softened ring of the light above, stranded within the barren sea of black a few paces from the bed and used often to soothe and sedate his daughter in a blissful sleep. To allow her the rare gift of music in such a desolate environment where even the light faded, swallowed by some great beast lingering and waiting for her to die. "You have never seen these creatures, and thus you have never witnessed what form evil decided on to take." He started into the cool ivory keys with skilled fingers, grazing across the surface and allowing his hands to give birth to a melody in haunting measure, as his soul poured freely with the practiced dialect of song. "I'm making this world safe."

"By hurting people." she whispered, and somehow her voice drifted between the high notes and his metrical tapping across the keys, that which plucked the iron wires and transformed the simplest of exertion into sound possessed of the power to fracture the walls in a wailing plea.

"We save people, Sarah. From their own blind ignorance to the true danger presented."

The young woman struggled with a body deprived of strength to a near-seated position, dragging a weighted umbilical of wires and tubes secured into her arms and neck to peer to her father. "You try to save me, but keep me in this room. You have fed me kind words for all of my life, but words also filled with hatred..."

"You are so very right about that, Sarah." he yielded to his daughter's keen observation, the girl having grasped upon the remnants of anger from his tone rarely influenced by what atrocities transpire beyond the dark walls with well-trained ears. "My words, my heart, my very soul is filled with hatred. But like fuel, that hatred kept me going for twenty years without your mother." He tumbled low into the deeper keys with a hand become a blur of dawn, and the reverberating sound trickled from the wooden enclosure and crossed the length of the floor in a resonance that tickled upon the woman's skin with trails of gooseflesh, warm and ironically shivering. "I am forever damned because I was not strong enough to resist the ancient, primal call of anger and pure hatred. But you will be. I will do everything in my power to protect you, and if that means wiping away even the memory of the gargoyle species and their allies, so be it."


Indistinct. A concealment in plain view and using as their camouflage the damnably modest everyday face of humanity. They roamed the corridors in uniforms and civilian clothing, unassuming of their true purpose, and speaking in a language created of furtive glances and hand signals crossed quickly between them. The Guild had infused themselves discreetly into the twenty third precinct, posing as police officers, janitors, even simple criminals to further their cause. One last target, one last traitor to be eradicated.

He ducked the hat lower over eyes as cold as glacial frost, gleaming a dark Prussian in wintry passiveness, and watched him, the detective swathed in an old, beaten trenchcoat and a crucial piece of a puzzle twisted in the final design. He had noticed Bluestone centered within a crowd, where an unobstructed view quickly developed into a shooting gallery of innocents between them, and he idly trailed his fingers over the weapon concealed in the holster below his left arm, his lip trembling with the sheer anticipation. But anger gave way to wisdom, prudence, and the lasting words of his superior. To fire and rid himself of Bluestone now would bring upon the innocent an undeserved fate and condemn the men under him to perhaps capture or death without the prearranged plan for escape, greatly impairing their forces.

And thus, as he found sergeant Cooper walking past him in an opposite direction, he simply nodded to his companion, curbed his impulse and dissolved back into the crowd to await his chance.


He settled into his desk in the near empty squadroom butted against his partner's, and where Elisa across from him barely acknowledged his presence, having buried herself into the sedating caress of mindless paperwork. And when staring headlong into the near blinding reflection cast off a cascade of molten obsidian upon her desk, and effectively, and perhaps deliberately hiding away her eyes, he decided to approach rather delicately with words that could set off the woman of lithe and slender form but hiding beneath her breast a soul brimming with fire. "So, Elisa, Goliath still in the doghouse?" he quipped rather indelicately, knowing of Goliath's treatment of the castle's newest and unwanted guest and Elisa's revulsion of their choice to keep her confined to the Eyrie cellblock.

"Goliath is NOT in the doghouse." she corrected obstinately, her voice tinged with the lasting annoyance of the decision made three days ago. "We may have differed on opinion, but when it comes down to it, my husband has a valid point. There's nothing else we can really do..."

"You sound as if you're trying to make yourself believe that."

Elisa brushed the raven stream back over her shoulder, and slit dark chocolate into a challenging dare, enough for Matt to raise his hands in a cowed gesture and back off.

"And how is the new houseguest?" he then added cordially.


"Hey!!" she screamed at her jailor, the winged being who had delivered her dinner and now stared back at her condescendingly. "I specifically asked for low-fat dressing!"

Broadway watched as Nicole appeared purposely dissatisfied with her meal, a well prepared feast designed to perhaps demonstrate his cooking capabilities and to further their argument they were amiable, diplomatic creatures, but with every and all benevolence they bestowed upon her, she quickly spurned their hospitality. "You're lucky we even feed you, lady." he retorted.

Nicole thinned her eyes to the burly gargoyle cook, and smiled a smile almost maliciously affable. "Yes, first I'm locked up in such," she rubbed her hand down the slick steel surface of the cell, where she had dwelled now since her break-in, "generous accommodations, then spend three days with only Goliath, you and that...annoying Angela woman as company."

Broadway now clenched his fists as his mate was spoken about with a barely concealed disdain. "Angela has been trying to educate you on our race and customs." he hissed, his drawl lowered brusquely and unlike that of his usually agreeable demeanor. "And I'm thinking it would serve you well to listen, before you go out and spin more lies about us."

"Don't you get sick of being married to a woman who blindly believes in total peace and unity and holding hands and all that crap?"

It was now Broadway's turn to smile, an expression troubling the reporter when she expected not such a response. "Her dream may be long in coming," he whispered in defiance, "but dreams sustain us, and the dreams and hope we carry for the future is what keeps us going. And I envy Angela in her faith for that world." He rapped on the cell door a few times and waited for the entrance to unseal and open. "See you tomorrow night."

"They're going to come looking for me, you know!" she warned quickly, as Broadway stopped in the doorway with an almost laughable premise. "They're going to find me, and then you in the process. And then bang, fat boy! Story of the century."

"You know the funny thing, Nicole," he stepped out and allowed his fading words to be a parting barb towards the reporter, "in three entire days, no one's made a peep about your disappearance. That's pretty sad." The door clanged shut almost cruelly, and locked the human back into her cell.

Nicole sneered defensively, settled into her bed and returned to her meal.


"Damnit, Angela!!" he screamed in sheer frustration. "Why were we assigned to take care of that...that," he bit his lip and censured the readied blaspheme sitting on the tip of his tongue, "woman."

Angela watched in intrigue her mate's already massive form swell with threaded muscular power as he swallowed the urge to physically display his anger into the awaiting wall. "Because we are regarded as two of the more patient members of this clan." she explained, tapping a hand to Broadway's shoulder. "And frankly, we're some of the only ones who won't get so easily upset by Nicole." Her eyes then glanced down when attracted to the larger gargoyle's straining, clenched stature. "Well...perhaps I am."

"It's like she wants to get me angry on purpose!"

Angela shrugged her shoulders in response, and started in a whisper, "Of course, anger is the perfect weapon for a reporter, to seek the knowledge she so desperately wants when it's spilled unintentionally. We have to remain calm."

"Someone else could do this!" he raved, his aquamarine skin flushed in dawn. "Goliath, Brooklyn, they're the leaders of this clan, and yet we get dumped with her!"

"We all share a role."

"But why do we get this particular role?"

"I volunteered us."

"I'm sorry, what?"

Angela peaked her slender, horned brow, and tugged upon Broadway's arm, a gesture strong enough to usher his direction towards a bench invitingly plush and resting against the wall. She leaned against him, and soothed a hand across his chest, and feeling with receptive flesh his thunderously beating heart. "Well, frankly, half the clan would be unable to control themselves in her presence. Shadow, Othello, Brooklyn, Elisa, Annika, even Lex or Sata would most likely end up getting angry."

Broadway roused his thick ridges in the explanation. "You don't get angry? I find that hard to believe, considering your parents. All three of them."

She settled her gaze on his own, and turned down her lips in a warning both subtle and fierce as not to further his argument. "We're the best choice besides Desdemona, and Goliath has done his share already. It's now our task to inform her of our race, and our clan, and help change her deeply rooted perceptions."

Broadway relented in a forced sigh, and crossed his arms in annoyance. "Fine. But tomorrow, she's getting leftovers..."


"That bad, huh? Well, feel better, partner," Matt whispered jokingly, turning his attention back to a silent watcher standing guard over him, "maybe Nicole will be attacked by the bionic dildo." He then stared to the figure, the officer assigned to watch him standing a comfortable distance, and he too felt trapped, a prisoner being yet further bedded with a nursemaid. "Figg." he called to the young rookie holding himself a few meters from him and attempting if not successfully to appear indistinguishable from the rest of the officers, lest his clandestine task be revealed undoubtedly to any passerby. "Nathan. Are you going to hold yourself over me all night?"

"Sorry sir," he apologized, his voice breaking slightly in speaking to the superior officer, "but I was assigned to watch you tonight."

Matt sighed and soothed calmingly a few fingers to the bridge of his nose. "I'm in a building full of police officers, Figg. Do you really think I'm in danger here?"

He pulled off his hat and ran his hand through the jagged standing peaks of deep golden blond. "Well, I have my orders, detective Bluestone," the goateed rookie answered, dodging his glassy, woodland brown eyes around the room almost nervously, "and they come from captain Chavez herself. As long as you're in danger, you're to have a police escort at all times."

Matt lowered his gaze and relented to the orders given by the one woman who made it increasingly difficult to be denied of her authority, and instead of furthering his stubborn argument he swiveled back to his desk only to discover a dark brunette leaning casually over the laminate surface, and smiling with an irresistible force inherent in dark coral lips turned upwards near devilishly.

"Hi, lover."

Through the constant drone of the background noise, even the soft, embracing tone drifted clearly. "Jeez, Sara, what are you doing here?" he almost demanded of the uniformed woman, the tables turned when not just he, but his lover's own safety was now threatened in their close contact.

Sara Jasper lifted from the desk and threw down a plastic container. "Dinner." An answer too succinct for Matt's liking, she pulled a chair to the side of the desk and opened her meal, even as he stared fiercely at his girlfriend. "Want some?" she offered, holding out the curled pasta salad on her fork.

Matt waved her off, and leaned in close to whisper angrily, "I thought I told you I wanted you to stay at the fourteenth until all of this is over."

"Yeah, and I ignored you." she replied, continuing uninterrupted in her meal and guiding her free hand over Matt's inner thigh. "You know, for a guy who feigns ignorance and even a stubborn boldness in the danger, you sure get worried." Matt bowed his head slightly, in seeing the truth in her statement. "You sure you don't want any? It's delicious."


"Hey," she broke through, brandishing the steel eating-implement as if a weapon before a wary sapphire glare, "I'm not going to be scared away by some fanatical freaks and their hard-ons for destruction. Especially when we have more important matters to discuss."

Her hidden meaning served to broaden in fear the red-haired detective's eyes and he bit his bottom lip impulsively, and though small it was a gesture Sara picked up upon clearly. "Listen, Sara, I..."

"How long have we been going out?" she questioned him quickly, this time her lover left without the chance to escape from an answer she knew has was well aware of. "Three years? Four?"

"Four at least."

"And very single time I want to talk about furthering this relationship, you either fake a beeper call or roll over and go to sleep. Kind of like after sex."

Matt settled the lapels of his trenchcoat and curled in deeper into the tanned material. And even under the scrutiny of Sara and her pronged sword, he found Elisa peeking around her computer monitor and possessed of a smirk far too devious to be of any help to his cause. "Sara," he whispered, as he noticed his young and enforced bodyguard as well listening in to the conversation, "can we talk about this later?"

"Later...right." She dropped the fork into the plastic container and wiped the sauce from her lips with a single finger, as if annoyed continually with Matt's evasion of the subject. "Now I know just how committed you are to this relationship." she sighed in defeat, and moments before she turned away, a strong hand grasped firmly to her cheek.

"Very." he whispered in adamant resolve, pulling the woman closer with the wheels attached to her office chair. "I love you, very much." He roamed his hungry lips into the cleft of where her neck sloped into her shoulders and peeled away the uniform to kiss gently her receptive skin, a slender and subtle curve that opened her mouth in a silent cry of addictive pleasure. "And we'll talk later about this, our future together, after my shift," he whispered, as Sara relented, smiled, and nodded, "I promise."


She traced her fingernails down the plastic casing of the telephone in a repetitive line back and forth and back again, debating against fear and doubt and an uncertainty in the answer she would receive in divulging such a bombshell to him. Maria found herself a slave to the rhythmic cadence of the antique clock adorning her desk, filling the office with an incessant reminder of the child within her, growing with every night she went without telling him of the gift, or perhaps curse, he had bestowed upon her in a night of pleasure and sheer uncommitted passion.

But a nagging question remained in the back of her head as her own low sultry voice wilted and echoed uncomfortably into a plea. Was it the fear of the child, or the fact that one evening and the delicious loss of control that followed had now forced her into a relationship with him, and influenced by the new life within her in betraying the undying promise she made to Carlos Chavez.

Gathering the courage with a breath inhaled over a lip wavering in anxiety, she plucked the receiver from the cradle and dialed the castle's private number.

"...Castle Wyvern..." It was Owen Burnett, his thinly veiled monotone unmistakable when answering.

"Owen, it's Maria. Maria Chavez."

"...Captain Chavez..." he greeted amiably, though with the distinctive robotic drawl. "...What can I do for you?..."

"I...I need to speak with Hudson."

"...Of course. One moment please..."

The telephone was abandoned for the search, as Maria waited intently on the other side, debating whether or not she should disconnect and run and hide once more in the safety of ambiguity. And every passing second seemed an eternity, and only did her resolve grow increasingly weaker to unload onto him the burden of a child of his blood.

"Ach, I hate these blasted machines..." a new voice then echoed distantly into the line, with the telltale scrape of talons against the telephone's shell. "Hello?"

She could not help but release a small laugh in Hudson's stubborn aversion to any technology save his television, and heralded in pleasure the sound of his voice. "......hi, Hudson." she at last answered the elder Scottish gargoyle.

"...Maria??..." It was a heavily accented tongue seemingly gasping in surprise. "...'Tis been a while, lassie..."

"I know, and...I'm sorry." she whispered in a voice nearly inaudible. "Are you...free tonight?"

"...Fer ye, aye..."

"My shift ends at midnight. Can you meet me at my apartment then?" she asked hesitantly, though bravely. "I have something to tell you..."



Matt raised his eyes to the frantic scream having echoed into the squadroom, as another uniformed officer forced his way through the blended crowd in a desperate bid to reach him. "What is it?"

He approached and slumped upon the desk to rest, his breath lost and his gaze dark and bereft of sensation. "Hernandez and Smith are dead..." he quickly relented.

"What??!" Elisa gasped, standing with Sara.

"They got to them..." he gasped, defeated, exhausted and leaning against the desk to brace himself. "They knocked out the escorts and shot them...they're both dead...they're dead..."

"Damnit." Elisa muttered furiously, brutally skipping a pen across her desk in sheer frustration, as Sara turned and looked in utter fear to her boyfriend, speaking in a seldom seen panic with her eyes quickly glossing over. "Okay, Matt, we're getting you somewhere safe."

He watched from afar the amusing drama play out with a smile unnervingly sick, and perhaps in an exact duplication of how he had seen such a confrontation in his mind. With Elisa now herding Matt towards the corridor opposite their desks, a few passed glances from agent to disguised agent coerced into motion the trap planned long ago. They spread out quickly, moving past the officers standing in stunned silence and digesting the news of their comrades' deaths and forcing a web drawn as invisible as spider silk around the retreating target.

Figg, Bluestone's bodyguard, took up the rear with gun drawn and held preparedly beneath the flap of his jacket, ensuring his fears were just that, born of an overactive imagination as he scanned the room and peered into each and every one of the faces of colleagues he had known for most of his fledgling career.

And from the corner, a uniformed shadow peered in veiled malevolence behind a mechanical stare, using the red hair as a perfect target sight. "Imagine seeing your planet overrun by creatures bigger, stronger and a hell of a lot more deserved to ownership of this soiled mudball by evolution." he whispered, a sneer of hatred like acid spilling from his thin, glacial lips. "And then seeing your fellow man concealing their presence, bowing down on their knees, and even spreading their legs for them as if willing to hand over their very lives." White pulled from his jacket his gun, and using the police attire as a perfected camouflage he aimed through the silent crowd towards the shock of red standing out as if a floating fire. "Makes my bloody skin crawl." He eased into the trigger with a gloved hand, and grasped to the swirled ivory handle like caressing a lover's most delicate curves. "Goodbye, Mr. Bluestone. Enjoy the afterlife."

An explosion erupted into the room and a piercing cry of steel dropped the entire crowd to the floor in pure instinct, as Figg had noticed first the weapon revealed in dangerous intent and the expression of anger and loathing directed callously towards the man he was assigned to protect. He had aimed and fired into the corner, and clipped a bullet across White's shoulder, tearing apart the stitching of the jacket in a shot warning of his intention. "Damnit, they're here too!!" he screamed. "Go, Bluestone! Now!!"

"Let's go, Matt!!" Elisa yelled, covering her partner as she pushed him between her and the open end of the hall. She unleashed with perfect aim into those who now fired against her, dropping two of the agents with two bullets and allowing Matt and Sara to flee to safety down the hall, as the Guild members shrugged off the blows and struggled to their feet.

As White cringed and swiveled around to defend the bullet-inflicted wound, the Guild members allowed a metallic fire to erupt from their hands, firing with merciless purpose upon the small group, brutal, savage almost in their cause both twisted and worth dying for. Figg opened up with his revolver, unloading the clip towards another Guild member glancing between a few desks and leaving behind him a trail of copper-tinged smoke. The others scattered and dodged between the lethal hail of gunfire transforming the squadroom into a battleground, climbing the walls and scraping the ceiling with deadly projectiles, and only those with weapons defended against the invaders who would strive to kill another of their own.

White winced in pain, seething with an arrogant madness in having his flesh torn apart, in seeing the splash of crimson fluid seeping through the jacket lining. "Damned boy..." he hissed, lifting up and firing against an occupied Figg, dropping the rookie with a bullet through the shoulder, as if to match wounds and give back what this police officer had dared to mar him with.

The powerful, brutal punch of the bullet easily shredded through stitched nylon, skin and muscle and pressed the young man against the wall, forming a streak of his own blood to where he collapsed into the ground. "Ouch." His arm went instantly numb, and he dropped his weapon, that which had protected him. "He fucking shot me..." Figg whispered, clutching a bloodied hand to the wound slowly draining his fluids into the warm, stale air scented with gunpowder and coffee grain.

"Consider yourself lucky," White seethed as he stood over the now disarmed young man, allowing the remaining operatives to clear the room with their superior firepower, "our mighty leader commands no innocents are to be taken." He waved in condescension his gun towards Figg, lashing the barrel hot from discharge across the tender skin of his brow, as the youth noticed the fallen officers struggling with wounds only meant to pacify, not kill. "This time." he though warned, and appearing as if reluctant to leave this boy alive, he thrust the solid butt-end of his gun against Figg's temple and toppled him, knocking the officer into unconsciousness, then quickly slipped down the corridor after his true target.


She found the music beautiful, if not tainted by his anger, the music almost withering when crossing through the thick, fire-filled air of rich oxygen suspended like a low, underlying mist. Her father's back was facing her, the leader of the Guild trumpeting his song of torment as she watched helplessly through the netting from her berth and prison. "I don't want you to hurt anyone, daddy." she called to him, seeing him shift his head and press his cold gaze to her from around the skin creased near his eyes. "How do you know for sure these creatures are what you say they are?"

"I know," he answered firmly, "as I have seen firsthand what they're capable of."

"So you label an entire race as evil?"

The sonata changed tempo, a Beethoven concerto once a frothy prance across the keys of reflective white glass now becoming dark, desperate and almost chaotic. "That is exactly why I have labeled them as you so say." he hissed, stamping upon the ivory piano keys and unleashing a passionate thunder. "They never cared for us. They never did a damned thing to help us when we lay dying at the bottom of that ridge, and thus killed two innocent people...my wife...my son..."

"Good and evil exists in everyone. There's no way an entire species can be evil."

"Did your books teach you that?"

"No," she whispered, reaching out and running the maliciously velvety walls of her prison to gain a better vantage of her savior and caretaker, "my father did."


"Damnit, they're everywhere!!" she screamed, unloading yet another clip towards more disguised Guild members, ricocheting bullet after bullet against the disguised Kevlar beneath the attacker's uniforms.

Matt backed against Elisa and fired down the opposite side of the corridor, coating the hall in the shrill, howling chime of gunfire. "We're surrounded on both sides!" he yelled, noticing the bullets were being aimed towards him, almost as if they were ignoring the others.

"Then may I suggest we hold up in here?" a voice both serene and calmed advised from their side, as Maria pulled the small group into her office, allowing a temporary refuge to the hail of bullets streaming past. "I guess I don't need to ask what's happening." Maria wheezed, readying her gun by ensuring she had a full clip as the others ventured towards the rear of the office, using the desk and couch as effective barriers.

"The others are dead, captain," Elisa steamed impassively, dropping her emptied clip onto the laminate surface of the office floor, and passing by the superior officer now grieving the loss in a shattered, tearing facade, "they were killed less than an hour ago."

"So Bluestone's the last?" asked another occupant in the office.

Elisa eyed sergeant Cooper, almost disgusted by the emotionless tone he allowed to spill from his mouth, as if he was making certain in some repellent satisfaction of the officers' demise and mocking her own bitter voice. "Yeah, Cooper, they're dead." she replied coldly towards the wounded officer, the flesh around his eye still marred a deep lavender shade from their earlier encounter days ago. "And now we're trapped within an office with their last target, and I'll be damned if I'm letting some racist bastards off my partner."

Cooper strained to mask the conceited smile erupting onto thin and maliciously crooked lips, and silently turned away, preparing his gun to feign a defense in Bluestone's name.

"Shouldn't we call for 'help'?" Sara asked nervously, flicking her eyebrows knowingly to Elisa.

But the detective quickly shook her head, hurriedly preparing her weaponry and brandishing two loaded guns in each hand, sneering anxiously and wanting for the chance to unleash her growing anger against an enemy she knew to be prowling just outside the thin office walls. "If these guys are killing on the theme we think they are, then it would only make things worse and put more lives in danger." she explained quickly, as Sara's expression fell slightly, knowing her lover's very life now stood on five shoulders alone. "Where the hell is our back-up?"

"The phone went dead a few minutes ago," Maria cut through, "it seems we may be cut off from the rest of the building and the city, at least for a few minutes."

Cooper bowed down deep into the corner and lifted his chin only slightly, brooding over Elisa's words and wondering if she had only added credence to his argument of her suspected involvement with the gargoyles like the rest. "Listen," he whispered, silencing the others, "the gunfire's died down. Either we won, or..."

"Or these bastards have fought themselves into a better position and have pinned us down." Elisa finished, lifting up from her concealment near the desk and moving forwards to cautiously peer through the windows partially covered by the slatted blinds, and staring into the dark unknown as the inky, swallowing abyss stared back. The lights had been extinguished, leaving only the faint glow of the emergency lanterns down the opposite end of the corridor, and a slight shiver passed through Elisa's spine in a dreaded feeling quite rare, a fear of the dark.

"Then we wait." Chavez growled soon after. "We're in the middle of a police station. Our back-up will arrive soon."

"What if they don't?" Elisa pressed back. "What if there're more of these guys than we ever thought? We could be totally alone..."

"The captain's right," interrupted Cooper, ambiguously, "we should wait here..."

"It seems your position is quite precarious, detective Maza!"

Elisa lifted her eyes to the voice ringing from the hall beyond, a rasped, vicious snarl attempting to pass itself across as almost sociable. She licked dry, tensed lips, and tightened her fingers around her guns, her knuckles turned white in the pressure applied to the cold metal casing.

"We want the traitor." he called once more, this time demanding, harsh, his cordial tone eclipsed by a malevolent purpose either by intent or mistake.

"Traitor?" Elisa echoed loudly.

"Bluestone. The last of your so called gargoyles task force."

She twitched slightly, perhaps bringing this entire theme into focus. "Why?"

The breath was then suspended, the darkness obscuring any trace of the enemy known to be resting just outside. "Please don't stall for time, detective Maza," he continued, "we are both professional enough to understand our situations. Like chess, I am the king with a full board, and you are left without any aid on an emptied battlefield."

"We're quite capable of holding our own," Elisa called back to an adversary both unseen and unknown, making contact with just the voice, "so why would we give in to you when we all know help will be arriving soon?"

"Your help," he answered back, as Elisa swallowed the forming lump, "or ours?"


"They left us to die, Sarah." The song grew in intensity, and shrouded the entire room with massive wings bred from the shadows and creeping across the walls to encompass even the darkness itself. "They left us to die!" he almost screamed, his anger being sparked by just the memory, and the images inherited by his past swirling and forming upon the crystal film of the tears streaked across his eyes. "And now they even have human allies, blind allies, who try in vain to teach tolerance of a species who think we are a mere stepping stone in their quest for the top of the food chain."


The mansion stood, the castle a part of his ancient past and allowing him if only mere fragments of comfort, a small sense of home in this suffocating, modern world. The castle home of Lennox MacDuff castle sat quietly, marked against the backdrop of towering, ever-climbing foliage and the glowing city backdrop beyond, where was birthed a subtle, bobbing chorus unending in melody.

The automatic sensors were online, searching relentlessly for anything that would dare breach the walls with cameras standing tall almost challenging in their frigid, programmed sight. And unbeknownst to even the best technology money had to offer, were the small packages disguised and resting at the base of the walls, where drifted the fields of an emerald sheeting swaying gently in the breeze. Giving off no electrical charge to warrant activation of the sensors, they waited patiently for their one, suicidal task to be fulfilled.

Timed perfectly, they powered up, and in one simultaneous attack upon the walls they sent an arc of energy up the barriers of brick and mortar, attracted by the metal casing of the cameras and concealed weaponry and melting sinisterly the circuits within, causing a feedback loop within the electronic systems. Enough to cause a short circuit and disrupt the entire network of cameras, and condemn modern machinery to flaming pyres, leaving a trail of sparks along the barrier walls.

He noticed outside his windows a reflection upon the sectioned panes as fire colored sapphire, and he leaned over from the pages of his book to gain a better look. His entire security system was being slowly damaged, destroyed by an unseen hand as curling tendrils of electricity quickly shorted out his defenses. "What th' bloody hell?" he gasped in an ancient brogue, seconds before the explosion that preceded a blinding flash of light. The windows imploded inwards, and the Scottish king ducked and rolled for the exit, running from the lapping, grasping flames as his home was completely engulfed.

A pillar of thick, clouded orange rose up into the atmosphere and set alight the entire sky, spewing a tempest of flame, smoke and debris as MacBeth's mansion was ripped apart by smaller explosions coalesced into one, massive thrust of screaming fire. A dying wail was released, as the ruptured gaslines only served to add to the eruption with a pungent and invisible fuel. The shockwave flattened a perfect circle for meters beyond, followed by the chunks of stone and flaming metal that was once a home and liege to its king, and left behind in the wake a barren, steaming scorch mark, where the charred, jagged skeleton pierced tall from the ground and stood as marker to a flaming grave.


Even as a small, outlying portion of Manhattan burned far outside, the melody continued uninterrupted as the leader tapped lightly and methodically upon the keys. "There are even some who deem these creatures equals, Sarah," he whispered, "and dare love them as if they were human. They risk dilution, and contamination of our very species for the few seconds of perverted, beastial pleasure."


She brushed away the wild strands of shoulder-length satin, and headed towards her small door among a labyrinth of many, the bright lighting of her apartment hallway forcing her to narrow her languidly drifting gaze. Iliana was returning home after her shift, having missed just narrowly the firefight, and unaware of the twenty-third and the sheer chaos contained within. "Oh man," she whispered exhaustedly, though just barely coercing her lips into a wry, sensual smirk, "what I wouldn't give for a little bit of ninja..."

The dark warrior had promised to meet with her after her shift, to spend perhaps a quiet evening alone and together and in each other's arms, her promise of their relationship and the deliberately slow yet steady progress remaining a bright spot in her life. Iliana rested against the door as she fumbled with the unruly bundle of keys, stifling a yawn and hoping she would not drift off in Shadow's strengthened embrace.

The latch released in customary approval, and Iliana pushed open the door, only to be met with a muted click, and a viral, venomous hiss from within the murky, spectral darkness of her apartment. She widened her eyes in the recognition of the odd sound, her academy training once buried now forced to the front with brutal comprehension. "Oh shit..."


He guided himself towards the aged apartment fascia from the wafting starlight above, and descended upon the cooler strands of air, settling quickly to swing around near the front window, waiting only for small, slender hands to allow him passage into the apartment. He circled a few times, becoming impatient with the constant travel within such an open area, where the spotted, broken light from the streets rose up and fused into the deep, distant lavender of the evening spring sky and exposed his dark silhouette to any searching above.

Shadow weighed his options, and then dived quickly towards the window in his haste to conceal himself against a revealing sky. But as he neared the window, he found inside an odd golden cloud expanding towards him, bursting with black smoke and ravenous orange fire. As time slowed, the window bowed out in a perfect concave, before the intense pressure cracked and shattered the glass and launched the fragments towards the gargoyle in merciless approach. As the razor-sharp glass lay quick siege to his flesh, the explosion channeled through the apartment's window and emptied a breath of fire into the street, capturing the ninja in its brutality of light, power, and the extreme heat.

Shadow was thrown back and driven across the entire street against another building, cracking the brick exterior in his weight and sheer density. He caught a hold with a taloned hand entrenched into the soft material, shook the debris and glass from his face and peered to where Iliana's apartment had once been, now replaced with a burning, emptied husk vomiting clouds of oily smoke. "Iliana..." he gasped, steadying his damaged form. "ILIANAAAAAAAAAA!!!!" A howl of terror and pain permeated the night sky above even the raging fire, and the dark warrior leapt towards the open hole without a thought for his own safety and disappeared through the flames.


The song yet continued, the piano tamed and mastered by a master himself and played to precisely measured tune. "It's a slow, merciless claim to their land, and we are being gradually extinguished. It is time to return the favor."

"How do you know that?" the young woman pleaded, and as she tried and again failed to rise from her bed, her own form had betrayed her to weakness and the sickness having plagued her all of her sheltered existence. "I don't want you to hurt anyone."

"I am protecting."

"You are merely thirsting for revenge."

"No!!" At last the music stopped when his hands were released from the keys and balled into heaving fists, leaving in the cessation of sound a rapid, heavy breath. "I am cleansing this planet!"

"How many people are you killing?!!" she screamed, her lungs still of the power to heave a rasp far into the air, and if it was fire, she would have set aflame the pure oxygen. "You say you protect, and then kill those you deem impure. You have contradicted yourself." She found his expression of disbelief in her knowledge uniquely humorous. "You think I don't know what you do outside? Do you think I'm blind to your actions?"

"Sarah, I..."

"Are people dying right now? Are you cleansing more of our species because you fear another and blame them for something that happened twenty years ago?"

"How dare you!!" he snapped back, raising from the bench and quickly swathing through the netting to face his daughter, the girl cowering slightly in her father's angered rant. "How dare you condemn me! I have done nothing but ensure your safety, and that of your very life and world!!"

"There are other ways to protect." she cried. "Killing blindly is not one of them. And I think the greatest threat to my world is when people like you play God."

He pursed his lip, trembling from a growing, swelling rage held deep within his breast, and covered in black layers of leather and thick neoprene plating as if to ensure he was dutifully sheathed in darkness, and comforted by obscurity. He reached to a table beside the bed and grasped upon a small syringe, and within the clear glass bobbed a deep, amber fluid. "I'm sorry, baby." He wrenched her arm towards him and plunged the needle deep into her artery, quickly emptying the contents of the syringe before her wide, frightened eyes.

"What...what is...this..."

"Sleep." he commanded, as she clenched her hand into the heavy coat to protest in a silent struggle, and eventually grew slumberous, her effort for consciousness made all but useless by the powerful sedative coursing through her weakened system. He guided her thin, emaciated form back into the bed and straightened the sheets about her in meticulous care. "Sleep. And dream of a world without traitors and the monsters they conceal."


"Why are you doing this?!"

"To fulfill our task. To eliminate those who chose to conceal from the populace the greatest threat we've ever faced. We don't want to kill you, detective Maza, but we will only if you so force us to."

"If you want Bluestone," Elisa challenged the hidden speaker, "you'll have to go through us."

"A pity..." he whispered, his impatience and orders to protect the innocent being rewarded with their stubbornness and reluctance to make this task any easier. "It seems we'll have to do this the hard way."

"I dare you!!" Elisa snarled, backing towards the upturned desk where Cooper hunched beside her, her anger seething and roiling to the base of her throat. "Show yourself, you damned coward!"

"I don't need to, detective Maza." he answered smarmily, as Elisa could almost imagine the smile he possessed. "For we were just the distraction. Isn't that right...agent Cooper?"

"Agent Cooper??" Elisa echoed. "Oh god..."

"Consider this payback for the black eye, bitch." he hissed, as Elisa turned only to have the heavy sole of Cooper's boot planted into her jaw and face and rammed her head into the side of the desk. She was sadistically toppled, and Cooper then clenched a fist against Maria's fragile jaw to fall the captain. He lifted his gun and aimed at a stunned Bluestone before any could react. "You have been targeted, detective Bluestone."

"Matt, NO!!!" As Cooper pulled the trigger, Sara pushed Matt away, disrupting the aim of his own weapon and effectively placing herself in the bullet's path. It caressed her brow with cold sterling alloy and broke open her flesh, spattering her blood in a chaotic streak upon the wall to which she was forced against.

"SARA!!!" Matt dove for his falling lover, bleeding profusely from the side of her head, and merely leapt into the path of Cooper's second shot. Bluestone was caught in the temple before he could even reach her, and collapsed onto Sara's lifeless form.


It was the song he played for his wife, for even before they married she would share the bench and lean against him, her long, sweeping tendrils of chestnut brown curling over his shoulder as he performed for her, crooned in wordless song for his greatest love of emerald eye. He played this song for his young son as well, and his daughter, and as he touched lightly to the keys in this dark place, he could swear he felt his wife's presence beside him once again, her steady, gentle breathing guiding his tempo far better than any metronome. "Am I the hand of God, dear Sarah?" he whispered to himself, sorting through his daughter's blaming words in a rasped, tortuous voice. "He creates, and I destroy. And only a sentient species can bring extinction onto another."


"Bastard..." Maria rose up, wiping away the blood from her mouth, and both she and Cooper turned and exchanged fire in synchronized shots, the Guild member aiming unintentionally low when surprised with the captain's assault and tearing his bullet through her abdomen. Maria jerked suddenly, as her midsection was torn open, and sank helplessly to the ground, clutching a hand to the dark fluid leaking from her body and her countenance etched with an expression of pure fear.

"Cooper!!" the voice howled towards the inside of the office, as White watched from the window the rogue agent spread his fire towards those who were to remain untouched. "You idiot!!"

His chest reduced to tattered shreds by Maria's well-placed shot, Cooper staggered back into the line of fire of a dazed Elisa. Her lip split open and gushing a metallic burgundy, and a bruise quickly forming on the side of her head, she raised both her weapons and unleashed into Cooper's exposed frame, doubled by her damaged vision, perhaps the sign of a concussion. "Go back to hell." Two full clips were drained into the last standing man, and when he fell, he was dead before he even hit the linoleum. Elisa dropped her weapons, and even as her head screamed in dizzying pain, she followed in a lethargic crawl the massive pool of blood to Maria, gasping for air in shattered, broken sobs.

"Sir, we have to leave!" a Guild member yelled to White as the others retreated back into the darkness, the second in command watching with great interest through the windows.

"We should check...ensure he's dead. The last thing I need is to be scolded for a sloppy job."

"We don't have time! Our escape won't remain clear for long, and we've already encountered resistance. Besides, no one could survive wounds like that..."

Agent White nodded in affirmation. "Then let's go." he whispered, seeing the limp and unmoving body of Bluestone draped over his lover, the severe head-wound suffered by the detective hopefully having ended their mission. "I believe our chore here is finished."


"No, I am not God. But I will bring peace, and new life. I am the singular instrument of an entire species, and their inability to properly defend themselves. I am humanity's savior." He lunged into the piano keys one final time, his melody finished with the lasting echo of a deep, reverberant cry. "And one day, Sarah, you'll understand that."


"Come on, captain, stay with me." Elisa begged to her superior, cradling the wounded captain in her lap. She was grabbing upon anything to stop the flow of blood pouring from her friend's stomach, even her treasured bomber was used to soak up the escaping fluid and block the hole opened mercilessly into her insides. "Officer down!!" Elisa screamed furiously to anyone who would listen, on the verge of panic in seeing the entire floor covered in the lake of blood ever swelling, and her partner slumped unresponsively over that of his lover. "OFFICER DOWN!!!"

Maria's eyes fluttered, her breathing slowed, and within her, the rhythm she had so depended on for comfort the last month was gradually slowing. "...e...elisa..." she gasped, her entire torso numbed and hot.

"Come on, captain, hang on!" Elisa implored to her as her eyes brimmed with tears, the emotion of so much in so little time overflowing, choking her and her oft-unbreakable attitude. "Hang on, Maria!"


"Baby??" Elisa stroked a hand over the bullet wound, and the indicative bulge in Maria's exposed stomach. "Oh my god...you're pregnant...oh god, someone, please help me!! SOMEONE HELP ME!!!"

The rhythmic dance of life thundered within her ears, a warm, embracing narcosis having settled over her and washing away even the frenetic screaming of Elisa and the arriving help, reducing all to a white noise cresting like ocean waves. The delicate cadence of two hearts eventually faltered, endangered by prejudice and fear, and Maria Chavez slowly slipped away, the child yet unborn having suffered a grievous, fatal wound within a fluid sanctuary thought unbreachable and now stained an earthy crimson. The connection between mother and child severed, the faint heartbeat grew ever slower, dying, withering, and eventually ceased.