Night Terrors

Chapter 7: Wake Me Up

New York City, Warehouses, Nightfall

Crane had awakened now, and was currently active as night was falling. He was preparing for a battle to come, as he had suspected the other gargoyles might, perhaps, be able to sense their own, by smell or other means. He had rested in the daylight, expecting not to have any trouble, but his mind had raced in his sleep, and now he was suspicious, perhaps even paranoid, of an attack by the other gargoyles. It had not helped he had noticed a certain resemblance to bats, and that had triggered nightmares of the only thing he could feel fear from anymore, and that was the Batman. Crane prepared by loading a satchel full of fear dust, and hooking up a small tank to his side to keep his syringe needles full of his fear toxin. He lamented the loss of his scythe as a weapon, but that would have been too difficult to travel to Gotham by bus with and not have questions asked. His thoughts were interrupted by Demona yelling out in pain, and he was certain it was from pain, and not from fear. He believed that Demona was changing back to a gargoyle, and when he went to check, his suspicions were confirmed. Crane prepared to assault her with more fear chemicals once she finished; having earlier witnessed the transformation seems to burn through the chemicals' effects.

"I will kill you, human." Demona stated, furious.

"I sincerely doubt it." Crane retorted, then reached into his satchel with his non-syringe gloved hand, and threw dust at Demona's face.

Demona coughed at this, trying not to breathe in, but she could already see the effects of the hallucinations, the jagged, distorted lines and bleeding colors of the world around her. She grimaced at this, and tried to ignore it, reaching for the bars of the cage. She pulled her arms back, however, when she saw Scarecrow attempt to stab her with his syringe claws again. She didn't need to be in a complete nightmare world again, and she knew that. Scarecrow's laugh echoed in her ears, as were all sounds, distorted by auditory hallucinations. She could still see and hear enough to notice Crane looking to the door, and heard the doorknob being tried. She remembered breaking it herself, but Crane had apparently replaced it sometime in her nightmares.

"I'll deal with you later; it appears we have unwelcome guests."

Demona saw him heading towards the door, and tried to reach for the bars again, fumbling for them. As she got a grip on the bars, Crane was floored by something ramming the door and having it crash into him, knocking him on his back.

"The direct approach is effective too…" she heard someone familiar say, but in her haze, she could not recognize it as it was too recent a memory.

"There he is!" She heard a more familiar voice say, it was Brooklyn.

Determined not to suffer indignity by being found captured by a human, and hoping not to be captured and taken to the underground prison Talon ran again, she grabbed the bars firmly and tore them apart, getting out of the cage quickly. As for the other gargoyles, they had lunged at Scarecrow to try to pin him down, but unfortunately one of them landed on his back of powder, and scattered the contents of the powder into the air around them. Several coughing fits ensued, as Scarecrow wiggled loose of them while they were distracted, and got to his feet. The gargoyles got up to chase him, but they too began to see the jagged edges and bleeding colors, as well as other fears.

"Not again! I can't see!" Hudson shouted out, trying to rub his eyes.

The other gargoyles were suffering as well, Brooklyn flailing on the ground, envisioning he was falling again. Lexington started to see effigies of Alex Xanatos being murdered in horrific ways, trying to push his way past them to get to Crane, but was deeply disturbed by what he was seeing, and between the scrambled vision, and the sights of seeing Alex being beheaded on a guillotine, he stopped and fell to his hands and knees, vomiting from the graphic horrors.

"That's an interesting reaction." Scarecrow noted, before turning to flee.

He was stopped, however, by a bolas snare thrown expertly at his ankles, tripping him up and having him hit the ground with a thud. He didn't even need to look to realize who that was.

"B-Batman! Isn't there anywhere I can go and be left to my research?" Scarecrow exclaimed, trying to untie his feet.

"Give up, Crane. You're surrounded." Batman stated.

Scarecrow moved to look around him, but was quickly and easily lifted off the ground by Goliath, who appeared to resist the fear dust. Goliath growled at him, and shortly, Demona's growl could be heard as well.

"He's mine to deal with!" Demona demanded.

"I have to argue that." Scarecrow stated, before jabbing Goliath with his gauntlet of needles, pumping him full of fear toxin.

Goliath roared in rage at this, and Demona leapt at Crane as Goliath dropped him from the pain of the sudden injection. Scarecrow dodged to the side, barely avoiding Demona's wrath as she lunged past him. Her reflexes were slowed by the poison in her bloodstream, and he knew this. She turned her head to look at him, eyes glowing red in anger as Scarecrow ran past a staggered Goliath, heading deeper into the warehouse. Batman scowled at this, then fired his grapple gun to the ceiling, quickly swooping up and onto the stacks of crates, planning to track down Crane from there. Meanwhile the other gargoyles were recovering from the brief dusting they received. Hudson blinked his good eye, as Lexington got up off the ground along with Brooklyn. Broadway helped Angela to her feet, as Elisa came in to check on the group so far, having been keeping a watch for anyone coming.

"What happened?" She asked the gargoyles.

"That blasted magic dust of his got to us." Hudson stated.

"Ugh…food tried to eat me!" Broadway added.

"Heh, didn't think you'd be afraid of food." Brooklyn joked, poking Broadway in the stomach.

"I don't want to go through that again…" Angela remarked, and then looked around, "Goliath?"

"He's gone!" Lexington exclaimed.

"And so is Demona." Brooklyn added.

"What would Demona be doing here in the first place?" Elisa mused.

During this, Goliath and Demona had split up to try to track down Scarecrow themselves, though they were not exactly working together right now, simply both after the same target. Goliath was currently trying to fight off the effects of the stronger dose of fear toxin, seeing the world in a blur of colors, stumbling along between crates and feeling his way through. He saw one box he had his hand braced against come alive and try to devour his arm, but he growled at this, swinging his fist free and shattering the crate, seeing through the illusion.

"Scarecrow! Show yourself!" Goliath boomed.

"Awww, does the gargoyle not like his medicine?" Scarecrow taunted, his voice sounding harsh and loud to Goliath.

"Your trickery won't scare me so easily." Goliath retorted.

"Is that so?" Scarecrow inquired, auditory hallucinations beginning to plague Goliath now, beginning to hear Scarecrow talk when he was no longer talking, "What do you fear? Death of a loved one perhaps? Two?"

As the hallucinatory Scarecrow asked penetrating questions to Goliath, the view around him changed to Castle Wyvern, back as it was one thousand years ago.

"What sorcery is this?" Goliath asked.

Goliath could see the remains of a fire at the castle, recognizing this moment. He began to panic, as he had done then, even though he knew what was coming. He found himself climbing up to the parapets, finding the shattered stone of his rookery brothers, and feeling his dread when he believed Demona, once his "angel of the night", was among them. No, he knew this was more illusion, and he tried to fight it, unaware that Scarecrow was closing in behind him with his bag of dust refilled.

"WHAT DO YOU SEE!" Scarecrow demanded of Goliath, "TELL ME!"

"I will not give you the pleasure, Scarecrow."

"Then it's time to terminate the experiment." Scarecrow said, implying something sinister.

Goliath roared out, trying to hit his assailant despite not being able to see him, as Scarecrow moved closer with his syringe glove ready, and a handful of the feat powder, intending to give Goliath a massive overdose to scare him to death. However, he was tackled out of this attempt by Demona, raging mad, and spilling his handful of powder into the air around himself and Demona. Demona roared at the second dose of fear powder, as Scarecrow also plunged his syringes into Demona's arm, fighting back, injecting her before trying to get away. Demona growled in rage, trying to hold onto Scarecrow, but her grip weakened as she began to black out once more…

Nightmare

Demona found herself on a farm, distantly familiar, yet so far back in her past. It was back in the Medieval era, a poor family's farm, and it was night. She wandered the nearly barren land, a forest off in the distance beyond a barn. A young boy was heading out to the barn with a lantern, but paid Demona no mind, as if she weren't there. Demona reached for him to grab his arm to ask why he didn't fear her, but found her talons passing through a mist, as though the boy were another illusion.

"Enough of this, Scarecrow, I have no time for your games." Demona stated.

"Ahhh, but this is no game, Demona." She heard Scarecrow's voice tell her, "Don't you recognize this place? No? Of course you don't. After all, it was only you sewing more seeds of hatred towards Gargoyles."

"What do you mean by that? How would you even know my past?" Demona inquired.

They were fair questions, if this were the real Scarecrow she was asking, but he is just another hallucination of Demona's. However, the increasing doses of fear toxins in her blood stream and brain have burrowed deep into her psyche, her past, and were dredging up information Demona had forgotten consciously. Demona followed the boy, having no other options for now. She found a scene she began to remember, of her physically older, but chronologically younger self stealing from the barn for food, and lashing out at the boy, scarring him with three distinct claw marks.

"Why is this important to you, Scarecrow?" Demona demanded.

"Why isn't it? It was you who damned gargoyles into being reviled by humans, not us."

"YOU LIE! The humans came and destroyed the Wyvern Clan!"

"But it was YOU who incited it. Don't you remember? You made the bargain with them to attack during the day."

"Destroying us wasn't in our agreement then!"

"So you DO remember. Good, good…" Scarecrow stated, then chuckled, "Tell me, anything familiar about the boy?"

"Nothing." Demona replied.

"Oh but there IS, Demona." Scarecrow taunted.

Demona was puzzled by this, before she saw a scene of something she had not personally seen, but had imagined from being told about it, the first Hunter to come after the gargoyles, the first to bear the mask with three red lines across it.

"And what does this have to do with the boy?"

Scarecrow materialized and laughed, taking his hand, and pulling away the hunter's hood, to show an older version of the boy, still with his scars.

"So the human carried his grudge against me."

"Do you not yet realize what I am telling you? Are you that unintelligent?"

Demona roared, and lunged for Scarecrow, only to have him blow away into a mist. She was getting quite infuriated with the human now. Suddenly, an army of Scarecrows appeared, all pointing at her.

"YOU are your own worst enemy, Demona! It is, and has always been, your actions that caused the initial divide between humans and gargoyles. There may have been petty squabbles before you, but you were the one who has sown the seeds of discord and hatred to become widespread."

"NO!" Demona shouted against their cries.

The Scarecrow horde then faded away, and Demona was back on the farm, but this time the Manhattan Clan were there, on crosses of wood, the kind a scarecrow would be hanging from, as the clan was doing now, bound to the wood.

"You were the one who betrayed US, Demona." Brooklyn told her.

"Yeah, you broke the peace we had with the humans we protected." Broadway added.

"You left us to die!" Lexington roared out.

"You betrayed my faith in you, Demona." Goliath told her sternly.

"And you chose your hatred of humans over your love for me or father!" Angela shouted.

Demona stepped back from this scene, shocked by it, and trying to fight it, even as the clan taunted and jeered her.

"Stop this Scarecrow! These are more of your illusions!" Demona growled out.

"My dear Demona, I do not make illusions and you know this. I bring your fears to LIFE! They are your own inner demons let loose from the bottle. You can try to deceive yourself as you have for all those years, rationalize your actions, but you are still DAMNED for them!" Scarecrow said to her.

Even as he said this, he materialized, scythe in hands, slowly marching towards her, sweeping the blade through the gargoyles on the wood crosses, cutting them apart, killing them before her very eyes. Demona stepped back, truly afraid of Scarecrow now, and upset by the loss of her clan.

"No! Stop this!" She demanded.

"I cannot stop what you've set into action. All I can do for you now, is to end your wretched existence. You may not die physically due to your link to Macbeth, but I can destroy your mind! I'll see you in Hell, Demona!"

Demona stepped further back from Scarecrow, tripping on the ground, falling onto her back as Scarecrow loomed over her, raising his scythe…

New York City, Warehouses, Night

Scarecrow had gotten himself loose of Demona's grip, and was now running down one of the aisles between the crates, looking back to see if he was being pursued, only to run into someone or something ahead of him, falling onto his rear end. He looked up to see it was Batman.

"Boo." Batman said to Crane.

"S-stay away from me, Batman!" Scarecrow stammered, scrambling to his feet.

When Scarecrow turned to run away from Batman, he was hit with the flat side of a sword, flooring him.

"And that's for making me live through blindness!" Hudson exclaimed.

Scarecrow groaned, before he was handcuffed by Batman, arms behind his back now. Elisa and the others caught up to them quickly.

"I see you've got Scarecrow." Elisa noted.

"Where is Demona?" Batman queried.

"Goliath's missing too!" Broadway noted.

"I am here. Still uncertain of my surroundings, but I am standing." Goliath noted, stumbling closer to them from behind some crates.

"It will pass with time." Batman stated, "But that leaves Demona unaccounted for."

"She probably fled." Elisa muttered.

"No. She was also poisoned by the Scarecrow. I don't know where because I can still hardly see straight." Goliath responded.

"Then we had better find her." Batman noted, heading off into the warehouse.

"What about Scarecrow?" Lexington asked, but too late.

Batman was already gone by the time Lexington asked, and Brooklyn smirked, whispering to Lexington.

"Not a bad idea considering what he's done to us." Lexington said.

"What are you two up to?" Hudson asked.

"We're going to give him a dose of his own medicine." Brooklyn told him.

"I don't think you should do that." Angela chimed in.

"Agreed. We're not heartless as he is." Goliath stated.

"Aww fine. But he does deserve it." Brooklyn remarked.

Meanwhile, Batman had come across Demona's body, curled up in the fetal position, shivering, muttering. Batman recognized this as signs of deep fear consuming her, and rushed over, taking out a breathing mask and put it to Demona's mouth, discharging a strong release of oxygen to her lungs to help her purge the dust from her system, while he began to try to assess her vital signs, noting similarities to humans in panic. He was not, however, so absorbed in his work that he did not notice the others approaching.

"She's dying." Batman noted to them.

"There's some kind of spell on her. She can't die, not like this." Elisa stated.

"Perhaps not physically." Batman added, "She's not responsive to stimuli. I've seen this before in Crane's victims. She may lose her mind. I'm going to give her antidote."

"After what she's done?" Brooklyn asked.

"Death is not justice." Batman replied, "Whether it's the body or the mind dying."

Batman took out a syringe gun from his utility belt, then loaded a vial from another utility belt compartment into it.

"Crane updates his poisons, so I have to use generic antidotes. They don't always work, but I'm not going to do nothing."

"As much as we may live to regret this, I have to agree with you." Goliath stated, now coming out of his hallucinations.

Goliath stepped closer, as Batman tried to restrain Demona to inject her, but found her too powerful, and her body flailing from her nightmares. Goliath then came over to hold her down, and between him and Batman, they injected the antidote into her arm.

"Now all we can do is wait."

"We'll take her underground. We have a prison there for her." Elisa stated.

"No." Batman stated, "Her role as Dominique Destine is too important to this city."

"What?" Elisa responded.

"She knows about the Quarrymen using her company to get weaponry. She's the only one we can trust to keep it from happening again." Batman told her and the others.

"We can't just let her go! She's tried to kill us before, several times!" Brooklyn growled at Batman.

"If you have any better ideas, I would like to hear them." Batman growled back in his dark tone.

Elisa started to say something, but then sighed and crossed her arms, before shrugging.

"You know what, fine. I was going to suggest Xanatos buy out her company, but he's had his own agendas in the past before." She said, frustrated.

"You can't be serious!" Brooklyn shouted.

"Brooklyn! I know you resent her using you before to get to me, but this…Bat-Man, is right. How many others in her employ harbor Quarrymen? Help them? Are them?" spoke Goliath.

"Not to mention there would be resistance to a hostile takeover." Batman remarked.

"So what do we do with her?" Lexington asked.

This was a good question, which they ruminated over, as Demona lay there...

Nightmare

Demona shrieked out as Scarecrow raised his scythe, and was about to bring it down on her. However, the swing was stopped by a gloved hand, and the Scarecrow hallucination turned back to look.

"Eh?"

He turned in time to be socked in the jaw hard, letting go of the scythe, which was discarded by a mirage of Batman. Demona stood up now, still shaken, surprised to see him here in her nightmare. Scarecrow got to his feet, chortling at this, intrigued to see him here.

"Well now, the Batman…what brings you into this cozy little nightmare?" He said, suddenly looming over them all, a giant.

"It's over, Scarecrow." Batman retorted.

"The fear is only beginning!"

Scarecrow then formed his syringe arm, reaching out over Demona, who was standing up now, and she yowled out, confused by what was happening now.

"What is going ON here?" She demanded of them.

"I said it's over. You've been injected with an antidote by Batman. You heard this and felt this in the physical world. Your hold over Demona ends here, Scarecrow."

"Not quite, Batman." The hallucination of Scarecrow responded, "She also heard him say it might not work. And I will see to it that it's too late!"

Scarecrow then formed a massive scythe, swinging it at Demona, who leapt back to avoid this.

"That's it Demona, fight it!" Batman cheered for her.

"It will do you no good!" Scarecrow taunted.

"We will see!" Demona shouted back, leaping up at Scarecrow.

Scarecrow glared at her with eyes glowing like spotlights, as she turned into human form in their gaze, falling to the ground.

"Fear of being human I see. Feel how weak and pathetic you are as one of the vermin!" Scarecrow shouted at her.

She got up slowly, shaking in fear again, as Batman leapt up at Scarecrow and began to attack him, distracting his gaze and returning her to gargoyle form.

"Fight it, Demona!" Batman called out.

Scarecrow grabbed at Batman, squeezing him in his much larger hand.

"No, Dominique Destine will suffer, just as any other human would!"

Demona didn't know what to do now, her hallucinations driving her out of her mind. She held her head in pain, falling to her knees, growling out.

"S-stop this! Stop!"

Scarecrow then threw Batman through the roof of the barn in this nightmare, causing him to cry out in pain, as Scarecrow loomed over Demona and grinned, bats and beetles coming out of the stitches for a mouth.

"WHAT DO YOU FEAR!" Scarecrow demanded.

Demona was about to give up, when she saw Goliath glide to her rescue, attacking Scarecrow's face, forcing him to back off.

"Demona will not be your plaything any longer!"

Scarecrow stumbled back, trying to attack Goliath now with his syringe hand, Goliath still small compared to the giant hallucination.

"Give into your fear! Feel its embrace! Succumb!" called out Scarecrow.

Batman then emerged from the barn, joining in on the attack, Demona still hesitant as she watched this, both her protectors being beaten back by the tormentor. Demona began to sink into despair, and with this, Batman and Goliath began to weaken.

"Yes! Submit! Your fear will consume you!"

Demona was about to, when she heard voices. They were coming from outside the nightmare, in the waking world.

"Is she waking up?" Xanatos asked.

"No…she isn't." Goliath replied.

"I've given her all of the antidote I have with me." Batman noted, "All we can do is to wait…"

She heard footsteps leaving, and Demona's heart sank more, the world going black around her as Scarecrow laughed, until one more voice was heard.

"Mother…"

It was Angela. Demona still cared about her, and apparently Angela cared about her fate as well. Demona began to stand up, growling at Scarecrow, the world beginning to clear up, Scarecrow's form becoming misty.

"You've lost, Scarecrow."

"Hardly. You've given up!"

"No, I won't give up now. You were right. It was my fault. But that doesn't mean I can't live with that. I know there are gargoyles…and humans…who care enough about me to give me another chance."

"You would only betray them again, Demona. We both know this. You can't stand humans, and you won't tolerate those who side with them." Scarecrow taunted.

"Perhaps, but I have nothing to fear from you now."

Scarecrow then groaned as he faded into nothingness, and Demona began to wake up.

New York City, Eyrie Building, Night

Angela was currently sitting in a chair, carefully, beside the bed that Demona was laying in, recovering. The others had stepped out now, waiting as well, though it sounded like most of the others were heading out, and Batman was leaving to deal with Scarecrow, who was currently being held at a precinct in New York. Angela was brought out of thought by Demona groaning and sitting up. Angela took an offensive stance, not having expected her mother to wake so soon.

"Demona!"

Demona growled a bit at this, before lunging at Angela. Angela moved to brace herself, but was caught off guard by Demona holding her arms against her. At first Angela thought this was an attack, but when Demona did nothing after this, just holding her. It was…a hug?

"W-what…?" Angela asked, blushing slightly in confusion.

"I've thought over a lot of things while under the effects of that toxin, Angela. You are my daughter, and will always be, in spite of our different opinions on humans." Demona told her, "I should have never used you to try to slay Goliath."

Angela was overcome with emotion at this point, genuinely surprised at Demona's behavior. She slowly hugged back, still a bit confused. Soon Demona let go of Angela, and backed away from her.

"Don't think this means I will join this Manhattan Clan. I still hate humans. But I will not use you in my plans now." Demona stated.

Demona then turned to head out the window to the room. It was a bit small, but she managed to fit through it, and glide away, leaving Angela confused.

Gotham City, Arkham Asylum, Night

Crane was currently restrained in a straight jacket, being led to his cell by two of Arkham's toughest interns, armed with batons. Crane knew better than to bring up the gargoyles, being sane enough to know that he would just be medicated with more drugs if he started ranting about living gargoyles. Batman was also with the two interns, following behind, glaring at Crane. Crane knew this, and was intimidated.

"Welcome home, Crane." One of the interns mocked him, pushing him into the cell, which was then closed and locked.

"Just wait, I'll be back to my experiments soon." Crane muttered.

"Yeah, we'll see." The intern told him, heading off.

Soon, it was just Crane and Batman, with Batman on the outside of the cell. Batman glared at Crane, who looked back, trembling a bit.

"I think I'll stick to Gotham from now on. It's a less complex test environment." Crane told him.

"I'll be watching you, Crane. And if you head back to New York, so will they." Batman growled at Crane.

"Oh, trust me, I'm done with New York." Crane stated simply, as Batman quickly left.

Crane grumbled at this, sitting down on his bed now, scowling. He heard laughing, implying the Joker was back in his cell as well. Crane lied down on the stiff cot, muttering to himself.

"Oh just you wait, Batman…you, and the gargoyles, will get what's coming to you when I'm free again."

End