The Labyrinth, April 20th, 2198
The storm she could weather, but the calm was a different story. Following Samson's failed attempt to make a statement to the world, they had returned to Manhattan and hid in the Labyrinth. The world at large might not know their movement existed, but it was a safe gamble that the Space-Spawn were hunting them in secret. So they had hidden themselves in the Labyrinth; in a section that even most of its denizens were unaware of, while Samson himself spent the night using his connections to spread word to friends and allies across the planet. At least one new associate was due to arrive any day now.
Demona herself did not care; she mostly kept to herself, to her own little corner where she was given her privacy. Her so-called comrades seldom spoke to her, which was more than fine with her. Now, in her human form, she was getting some much needed sleep. She lay on a mattress, covered only in a sheet and a blanket, trying but failing to sleep. Why was she doing this? Her comrades didn't like her, nor was she fond of them. But that was the case from the beginning; she was not here to make friends. She was here to help rescue or avenge those eggs. But after what she saw at the Pentagon, was such a thing even possible?
She heard the sound of chatter outside, the human, Guardian, and the voice of a human female. Chatter turned to laughter before she heard some rustling on the curtain separating her corner of the lair from the rest, and the teenager called to her. "Hey, Demona," he said. "Make yourself decent, we've got a company."
Demona gritted her teeth before sitting up, her arms briefly hugging herself as the blanket dropped and chill gave her goose bumps. She quickly pulled a green bathrobe around her bare body and stepped out onto the cold, concrete floor. "I've told you before not to disturb me!"
"Yeah, right," Guardian said, obviously not caring about her wishes. "But I've got an old friend who's been dying to meet you."
From around the corner came a human girl, about Guardian's age. Her skin was dark; she looked aboriginal save for her long, blond hair. "So, this is the infamous Demona," she said, speaking with a slight Australian accent. "I used to tell Nick ghost stories about you when we were in school together."
"Demona," Guardian said. "This is Helen Monmouth; she's also part of the Order of the Guardian."
"This is surreal," Helen said. "I must admit, after hearing about you since before I could walk, I'm a bit underwhelmed. But I suppose if I went back in time and met Hitler, and he had just rolled out of bed, wearing just his bathrobe, I'd be underwhelmed too."
"How quaint." Demona rolled her eyes. "Well, I hope the experience was fascinating for you, guardian."
"Hmm, if there's two of us with the same codename, this could get confusing," Guardian said.
"No worries," Helen smirked. "I always did prefer the title of 'Hunter.'"
"What?!" This had gotten her attention, and Demona quickly studied her features. Although she was several generations now removed, there was no mistaking it. "You are a Canmore."
"Long time ago," Hunter answered. "But yeah, Robyn Canmore is my ancestor." She reached into her pocket and produced a very familiar object. "I even have the mask."
She was so angry, Puck's spell of transformation glitched and even in her human form, her eyes sparked red. "This is who modern gargoyles are teaching our ways to!" she screamed. "Hunters!"
Zafiro came speeding around the corner, still awake thanks to the Mayan pendant he wore. "Is there a problem in here?"
"No problem," Hunter said. "We're just getting used to each other."
"Samson cannot possibly expect me to work with a Hunter!" Demona screamed.
"Samson did not expect her until later this evening," Zafiro said, quickly coming between her and the two humans. "He expected this could open old wounds and hoped to arrange the introductions himself. I'm sure he will apologize."
If Demona could growl in her human form, she would have. Instead, she retreated behind her curtain, dropped the robe and donned a pair of jeans, a green v-necked blouse, socks and walking shoes, and a black leather jacket before stepping back out and walking right past them.
"Where are you going?" Zafiro asked.
"I'm going up into the city to get some air," she snarled.
Zafiro quickly slithered in front of her. "Before you go, here's the identification you requested," he said as he handed her an envelope. Demona quickly inspected it. An identification card with her picture and the alias 'Dominique Bourreau,' as well as a bank card with the same name. "Divine Executioner, how appropriate," he said before adding, "We're running low on supplies down here; perhaps you can go on, as Nicholas would say, a food run for us."
"Fine," Dominique hissed. "Just as long as I am not down here." She was almost to the door when Guardian and Hunter caught up with her.
"I think we should come with you," Hunter said in a playful but calculated tone. "We got off on the wrong foot. Perhaps we could do some bonding."
"Helen's kidding," Guardian said. "We're just not dumb enough to let you walk around the city unsupervised."
Dominique sighed, and pondered whether remaining in the castle's dungeons was preferable to this.
~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~
Once upon a time, she would have just killed them outright. Of course that option was still on the table, especially as Hunter and Guardian looked at each other as if one was about to conduct a mating ritual any second. How they could cease to take their eyes off each other without taking their eyes off of her was a mystery. When she stopped at a small bistro in Little Italy, she demanded her own table, only for them both to join her. Perhaps it was their intention to starve her since she soon lost her appetite.
But they weren't completely useless; after stopping at the market, Dominique decided they could carry the bags all by themselves. As they walked back towards their destination, Dominique made sure to keep at least twelve feet ahead of them. It wasn't long until sunset, and it was best for her to get out of sight.
As they began heading past Union Square, she heard Hunter cry out, "Hey, Nick! Look!" Dominique's curiosity got the better of her. She looked towards the park herself, and saw a large gathering of humans. And crawling all over the place there was a small army of Quarrymen. In the center of the small park, a stage was set up, and at the podium stood Marcus Castaway.
"Let's go look," Hunter said as she dragged Guardian across the street into the park. Dominique followed, not sure why.
"It was their hatching that our leaders attended!" Castaway screamed. "Our leaders were at a gathering of gargoyles! They were all in one place! How convenient that the Space-Spawn arrived on that day!"
Dominique made her way through the crowd, coming up along her two companions. The little Hunter had annoyed her to the point where she wanted to get her own dig in. "A relative of yours?"
"Marcus is a distant cousin," Hunter whispered. "A very distant cousin." She pointed towards the stage at a blonde woman standing to the far right, flanked my two large men in Quarrymen uniforms. "Marcus is a gifted orator and their spokesman, but do you see that woman there?"
Dominique nodded. "I've seen him on television. I have no idea who the woman is."
"That's his sister, Lillian," Hunter explained. "She stays out of the public eye, but she's the matriarch of the family and the brains behind the Quarrymen."
"I have long desired to end this clan." Dominique nearly spat as she stared at the Castaway siblings, imagining their deaths at her hands.
"We cannot defeat the Space-Spawn through strength of arms," Marcus said as his tone changed to a more solemn one. "But we can stand united as one human race. Now, more than ever, we have to take care of each other. Treat one another as family. And we must remember who the true enemy has always been."
On a screen behind Marcus, images of various gargoyles appeared, almost like an old-fashioned slide show before they stopped on an image of Demona herself. "History may have forgotten Demona, but we cannot. She was and has always been the true leader of that evil species."
Hunter sidled up to Dominique and whispered, "Looks like you've got a fan club." But Dominique ignored her.
"I will tell you this, my friends!" Marcus cried. "She is not dead. The Canmore clan had tried to protect humans from gargoyles, and Demona especially, for hundreds of years. How is it that she has lived so long? How is it that in 2056, the leader of the clan in this city, Angela, never showed the world a body? No Wind Ceremony was ever conducted for her. They even gave a human woman a Wind Ceremony, but not one of their own? I know this sounds like an insane conspiracy theory, but even if she is dead, her legacy lives on. Our leaders being lured to their hatching only to be kidnapped by their Space-Spawn allies is exactly the sort of scheme only she could have concocted."
Dominique was fuming. Guardian checked his watch; it was only minutes away from sunset. "I think we'd better get going," he said. "Like right this second."
At that moment, a police officer tapped Dominique's shoulder. "Excuse me," he said. "May I please see some I.D.?"
"What is the meaning of this?" Dominique said rudely.
"You match the description of a suspect," the officer said. "This won't take more than a minute."
"I don't have time for this." Dominique was snide as she stormed past the police officer, only for him to grab her by the arm.
"Don't make me place you under arrest." The officer had dropped all pretenses of being friendly.
"What crime is my associate suspected of?" asked Guardian.
"Theft," he said. "A woman matching her description was reported stealing diamonds from a shop three blocks from here thirty minutes ago."
"Does she look like she has diamonds?" Hunter asked, sounding angry for the first time since Dominique had met her. As the sun slowly began to slip beyond the western horizon, Hunter dropped her groceries and kicked the policeman in the face, causing him to let go of Dominique. "You can thank me later," she said, knowing Dominique had no intention of it. "We have to go."
As they began to fight their way towards the park exit, three hooded and armed Quarrymen stepped between them and their escape. "We saw that," one of them said before hitting his ear piece. "We found three troublemakers assaulting a cop. We'll hold 'em until the police arrive."
Then the sun set. Dominique nearly fell to her knees in pain as her skin turned blue and spurs grew out of her knees and elbows. Her feet morphed into taloned haunches just as her hands changed and her wings and tail exploded from her back. Fully energized, she let out a mighty roar and violently dove at the Quarrymen, taking all three at once as she slashed one with her talons, broke another's leg with her tail, and kicked the third ten feet into several civilians.
All eyes were suddenly on her, expressing either shock or fear. Demona grinned as her eyes burned red. Fear. These humans feared her. How she missed this.
"Mother of God," Marcus whispered from behind the microphone. "Stop her," he cried. "Stop her!"
"Face me, humans, if you dare." And with her eyes still glowing, she growled.
~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~
It was forty minutes later when Demona, Guardian and Hunter finally made it back to the resistance's hidden corner of the Labyrinth. All were covered in small cuts and bruises, but none the worse for wear. Once they got back, the television was on as Samson glared at them.
"Get dressed, Demona," he said, regarding the tattered remains of her human clothes. "Then we're all having a meeting."
"You guys just made the news," Brooklyn said.
Demona went behind her curtain, removed the shredded clothes and donned her loincloth, breastplate and jewelry before stepping back out. She knew what Samson was going to say, but she did not care. Let him do with her what he would.
"Have you lost your mind?" he yelled.
"This is Demona," Brooklyn cut in. "She lost it back in the tenth century."
Demona was prepared to argue her case when Hunter stepped forward. "What happened was not her fault," she said. "I saw the rally and insisted upon going. I was curious. We had every intention of leaving but were detained and then the sun set. We had no choice but to defend ourselves as we fought our way out."
Samson growled. "Please tell me you didn't kill anyone."
"No," Demona said before smiling. "But I did inflict many permanent injuries."
Delilah turned up the sound on the monitor as Lisa Marshall spoke to Marcus Castaway on television. "And you think this was Demona? She's been dead for over a hundred years."
"It was she," Castaway answered. "How many other gargoyles transform into humans during the day? How she came about this ability and her long lifespan remains a mystery, but check the records, it is her."
Lisa Marshall turned back towards the camera. "And that's my report from Union Square. Were the reports of the demise of history's greatest gargoyle terrorist greatly exaggerated? Hopefully we'll have more to report soon…"
"I hate to interrupt you, Lisa," said the anchorman, "but the Pentagon is releasing a statement as we speak. The very same gargoyle that attacked Union Square was also involved in the attack on the Pentagon, which they now claim was not an accident." As he spoke, footage of Demona, Delilah, and Guardian running through the Pentagon played on the air. "It's beginning to look more and more like Castaway wasn't repeating tired, old conspiracy theories."
"I should have known the Space-Spawn would for a more damaging moment to reveal the truth," Delilah said as she muted the monitor again.
"It was a set up," Hunter interrupted. "Lillian Castaway is Illuminati, she has to be. This was planned out."
"What's done is done," Samson sighed. "This is not the spark I wanted. But we will have to take control of the message."
"Samson," Demona said as she stepped forward. "I do not like being manipulated like a puppet. I promise you this; I will fight for this resistance. Until the Space-Spawn are driven from out world, and the gargoyle eggs rescued. I give you my word."
"And we all know what that's worth," Brooklyn said.
"I believe Helen when she says this wasn't your fault," Samson spoke. "I also appreciate your newfound enthusiasm. May I ask what changed your attitude?"
"As I just said, I despise being used."
"Basically, she took it personally," Delilah said with a sly grin. "You can always trust her when she says she hates somebody."
"Your enemies are now my enemies," Demona stated.
"All right," Samson said. "But from now on, we'll let others do the shopping."
"I'll head topside," Hunter said. "It's my fault, dinner is on me. I'll head uptown this time."
"You are all dismissed," Samson said as he sat down at his desk.
Demona nodded before turning and heading back behind her curtain, and reclining against the wall, picking up her tablet. As she got comfortable, she heard the curtain rustling again as Brooklyn poked his head in and stepped inside.
"So tell me," he said. "What's the real reason you're so eager to play ball now?"
"They feared me," Demona said as she grinned. "I had forgotten that feeling. At that moment I was once again the scourge of humanity. Not a footnote in history. Not the subject of human jokes and human entertainment. They knew I could destroy them. I want the aliens to know that too."
"You're sick," he said, and left.
Actually, it had been a long time since she'd felt any better.
~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~
Hunter climbed out of a manhole and waited. At last a limousine pulled up. She stepped inside and took a seat. "Thirty-six," she said.
"Thirty-three," Lillian Castaway said, as she sat next to her.
"Three," Shari said, sitting across from them as the limo drove uptown. "That went well."
"Nick is a friend," Hunter said. "So are Samson, Delilah and Zafiro. I don't like spying on them."
"It's for the greater good," Lillian smiled.
"We must control all sides," Shari stated. "This is the way we've always done things."
"Their resistance allied themselves with Demona," Lillian said, before adding for emphasis, "the Demon."
"She's not a demon," Hunter said. "Demona is just a very dangerous sociopath."
"A dangerous sociopath that could destroy the world," Shari said. "Samson's resistance is already cause enough for concern. But the fact that they welcomed her into their ranks could doom us all."
"They're trying to liberate the planet from the Space-Spawn," Hunter said. "Isn't that a good thing?"
"Their cause is just, and we have no intention of allowing our world to become a colony," Shari explained. "But the Illuminati is playing a long game. That's why you're there, to make sure they play by our rules. It's the only way they will survive, the only way any of us will survive."
"For the greater good," Hunter repeated.
"You have done well," Shari smiled. "The Illuminati is pleased."