Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Gargoyles canon-osity. I also don't believe that 'canon-osity' is a word, but oh well.
"Faust's clan certainly is an interesting bunch." Fox mused as four strange gargoyles flew by the large, glass windows that kept the garden safe from the city air. Every night for the past week this had happened, as dependable as the sun rising in the east: always four gargoyles total, never long after the sun rose. If she had to guess, she could speculate that their home was not far away.
But that wasn't what she was wondering about at the moment.
"Yes; it would seem that being frozen for a thousand years really does make all the difference." Xanatos replied. The two of them were sitting at an outdoor table. He was reading the newspaper for the second time that day. Disarmingly normal, if one ignored their infant son being taught magic by the Trickster, Puck, only a stone's toss away.
She shot him a smirk, even though he was pointedly not looking at her. "So, why did you agree to it? Why did you hire Faust? Her clan? Her research?"
He looked up from his reading, mimicking a hurt expression. "Do you really think so little of me?"
Fox's smile widened a little as she tilted her head and raised an eyebrow. Do you really think I'm that stupid? "David…"
He sighed and shook his head. She was only going to keep teasing him about it, and when she stopped teasing – if she stopped teasing – she had the potential of getting angry. An angry wife wasn't healthy for any man. "I'm hoping that when he grows up and inherits everything, there'll still be a clan here to protect him." Xanatos looked pointedly in Alexander's direction. It was difficult to believe that the boy had grown so much in such a short time, even if he was part Fay.
"Is that all?" Fox looked in the same direction. No sooner had she asked the question when she knew that that very well could be all. Her David would be completely crushed if anything happened to their son… or to her, but she could take care of herself. Alexander probably could, too, if one were to split hairs, but he was their child; in their minds, he would always need their protection, possibly even well into adulthood.
"For now." Xanatos smirked at her.
Fox chuckled and rolled her eyes. "I think you like getting into trouble."
"Of course. It keeps my life interesting."
"Faust? You in here?"
The geneticist barely lifted her head as the door opened and Elisa and Angela let themselves in. "Miss Maza. Angela. You are here in my laboratory." Glancing away from her microscope, she smirked. "Color me surprised."
"Mephistopheles said you wouldn't mind the visit." Angela was looking around in mild wonder. "This… This is your lab?"
Elisa was reacting in much the same way. "It looks like a New Age shop."
That was a very accurate statement. While the large room had computers, scientific equipment, and several large tubes – like those that had incubated Thailog and the clones – there were also stranger items, like candles, incense, and very, very old books, such as the one that was sitting, open, next to the microscope. Also of note were several items that, while certainly scientific in nature, looked like they belonged in a museum, or an antiques collection.
"I'm pretty sure I've told your clan that I am not purely a scientist." Faust adjusted her glasses, grinning devilishly. "That's why my methods are superior to Sevarius'. That old nutjob's got nothin' on me."
The redhead's demeanor wasn't quite what Elisa was expecting. Then again, that was precisely why she was here – to keep an eye out for her clan until they were all sure that Faust could be trusted. Still… "I wanted to apologize about our first meeting."
"Apologize? What for?" Faust made a face and waved a hand, turning back to her work. "I'm not the most socially competent person in the world, in case you hadn't noticed. Getting along with humans never was my strong suit."
"I can relate." Elisa muttered, frowning a little.
"What are you looking at?" Angela asked, approaching Faust carefully and curiously.
"I have here the remains of a fallen clan, hopefully." Faust stated matter-of-factly. "Mephistopheles and I have put extensive research into retracing the patterns of ancient clans, specifically how they migrated, and what happened to exiles. At about the head of this millennium, entire clans were destroyed by fearful humans in their sleep. They didn't get Wind Ceremonies, and the only upside to that is that their remains may be large enough to get genetic samples from." She looked at them both with a grave look. "And no, I will not allow the Cold Trio fiasco an encore performance."
"You heard about that." Elisa allowed herself to walk a little closer to Faust's workbench as well. "What's a… Wind Ceremony?"
"It's the gargoyle version of a funeral. 'Ashes to ashes, dust to dust; all is one on the wind.'" Faust sat up, frowning at the wall. "When a gargoyle dies, their remains are either burned or crushed, depending on whether they died in their sleep or… some other way. Then, their clan releases the ashes-or-dust and flies through them, so that the fallen clanmates will always be with them."
Angela smiled softly. "That's beautiful. I had no idea…" – Faust shot her a look. – "I was raised by humans on Avalon. I didn't meet another gargoyle outside of my rookery siblings until Goliath and Elisa arrived."
"I see." Faust sighed half-heartedly. "Well, that's no surprise, then. It's good, actually. Who wants to think about death within their own family? Especially so close to the upcoming solstice. Only a few months to go…" She leaned back in her chair, gazing at the various pieces of what Elisa had previously thought was rubble. "…I wonder if I shouldn't wait for the next generation to be hatched before asking Akriel and Brighid to perform a Wind Ceremony for these souls. Maybe then they will find some rest."
Elisa picked up a large chunk of stone thoughtfully. It was the size of a misshapen bowling ball. "I thought you were looking for genetic material."
"I am. Even the dead want descendants sometimes. Nothing brings greater peace of mind than to know that the clan will continue to survive." Faust suddenly gave a grunt and a groan. "All of this talk of the dead! Even they don't want to hear about it. Can we change the subject? Does your clan have plans for the Hatching? I mean, I know that there's only one egg in your rookery, but that's still gotta be cause for celebration, right?"
"Yes, we're all happy about the Hatching of Egwardo!" Angela giggled. It was like the ice had officially been broken. "Hudson and Goliath have been reminiscing about past Hatchings. They said that the clan used to have celebrations for many nights while waiting for the rookery to hatch!"
"No joke." Faust grinned. "It's the most important celebration on the gargoyle calendar!"
Goliath and his clan were not the only Wyvern survivors with the coming hatching season on their mind. Demona had seen the egg that Brooklyn's mate took about with her, everywhere she went – even in the short while that Katana and Nashville had been in this time, it was hard to miss. It was hard for someone like her to miss. That single egg brought a small glimmer of hope for the next coming generation of gargoyles, although her hatred quickly dashed that hope when she thought of how Goliath's soft-hearted leadership would no doubt get the hatchling, his brother, indeed their entire clan killed in the end.
Her surveillance didn't miss the new scientist Xanatos had hired… or the clan that followed. This 'Mephistopheles' was as much a fool as her former beloved, putting so much faith in so foul a creature. Faust and Xanatos conspired to bring about a legion of gargoyles subservient to humans. That was obvious to her, so why could no one else see it?
She had watched Mephistopheles' clan as it came and went. When she couldn't find their home or their rookery quickly, it had made her blood boil. But, she reminded herself, perhaps it would not do to try and infiltrate their clan. She had toyed with the thought of taking on an alias, asking to join them… but surely Goliath had already 'warned' them of her and the threat she posed to their human pet – and she did pose a threat to the human.
But the human had uses, perhaps. Any human could be bribed into doing something, so long as one had the thing that they wanted most; usually, that was money. Humans worshipped it more consistently than anything else. They built empires around it, fought and killed to have it, believed that it symbolized power. In fact, it was because of this simplistic belief that it did symbolize power in their world.
The pale blue female watched her surveillance tapes for perhaps the millionth time. She would have to kill the spy who usurped them for her – the videos held none of the answers that Demona wanted or needed! She wanted to know how this Faust worked, and why her methods were supposedly superior to Sevarius', as the young woman claimed on more than one occasion. She spoke of mixing sorcery and science, and of alchemy. Alchemy was sorcery and science, so why on earth would she refer to it as a third, standalone thing?
Demona reclined in her seat with a tight frown, her claws intertwining as she scowled over them. The human could be lying. Maybe she was trying to pass herself off as something she wasn't while trying to use Xanatos' funds and influence to meet his own gain. Demona was all too aware of the namesake of Johanna Faust and Mephistopheles, of the tale of an elderly alchemist who longed for greater knowledge and sold his soul to some demon of the human underworld: Johan Georg Faust and the Devil's errand-runner, Mephistopheles.
What could she do with this information? Her mind turned the facts over and over, going through them with a fine-toothed comb. It made her angry that the fool, like Goliath, had allowed himself to be named by humans after one of their villains. But what of the woman? Why would she merely gender-swap a name to create so weak a cover-name? And she had had it for so long – years, according to the information that Demona had collected while researching the human's history – and yet… it didn't escape the gargoyle that Faust appeared to be very young. She had to be immortal.
Immortality wasn't for humans. Macbeth was proof of that. They didn't learn from their mistakes, be it on an individual level or as a species. The thought made a small growl escape the gargoyle, her eyes briefly glowing red. Perhaps she and Macbeth weren't the first to fall victim to the Third Race and their so-called gifts…
She did her best to push the anger aside. She would have to have a word with this Faust, so that Demona could, hopefully, finally obtain the clan that she so ached for.
"So, your name is… Akriel, was it?" Hudson frowned. "Tell me, lad – what's wrong with your eyes, then?"
This was the first conversation that the old gargoyle had sought out with any of the strange clan's members, and it just so happened that it was because the one he'd decided to speak with had the unusual disability of being blind. He was, otherwise, a physically capable young male, almost as tall as Goliath and Mephistopheles but far leaner. His rookery sister, Brighid, and another male had helped the boy glide to the castle, and he made his way about with a sort of collapsible cane for aid.
Hudson had only known a few elders in his life who had lost their vision late in their own lives, and they had perished not long afterwards.
"I lost my vision in a battle when I was still a fledgling, actually." Akriel said as he settled into one of the library's chairs. He placed his cane across his lap and patted Bronx's head as the beast crawled up to his side and sniffed at him curiously. "Ah, someone new. You're probably thinking the same thing, eh?"
"Aye, Bronx has been quite interested in all of these new gargoyles. We lost our own clan long ago, and then we were cursed to sleep for a thousand years." Hudson sighed and shook his head. "It was a rough night, to say the very least."
"That would explain the accent your clan has. Your diction is very… proper. It makes for a nice change. And yours in particular is Scottish, right?" Akriel rubbed his chin. "Brighid told me there were two gargoyles who were each missing an eye. You are…?"
"Hudson, aye; sorry for my rudeness, lad."
"Rudeness? Hardly. Needing to exchange names is not something that our kind has done as long as the humans and the Fay have, or so I'm told." The younger male turned his head as the door opened. Goliath and Brooklyn had come to visit with their mentor, and they seemed a little surprised to see a blind gargoyle in a room full of books. "Hello?"
"Goliath, Brooklyn; this is Akriel, the eldest of Faust's… er, 'created' rookeries." Hudson said as they drew closer.
"It's good to meet you, Akriel. I hope that the trip wasn't difficult for you." Goliath said, taking the male's outstretched hand and shaking it.
"No. Gliding is easy enough once you've learned how. Learning to do so without sight is possible." The stranger shook Brooklyn's hand as well before resuming his scratching of Bronx's head. The beast was in heaven with the simple gesture. "I was just telling Hudson about it, actually. Mephistopheles told Brighid and I stories about what happened to gargoyles who lost their sight or their wings when we were hatchlings. Faust was never very happy with him for it." He cracked a grin.
"Aye. He says it happened when he was a fledgling." Hudson ran his claws through his beard. "Though I must ask, lad – what would so young a gargoyle be fighting with? Humans?"
"Other gargoyles, actually. A small cell, hardly larger than our own. We were vying for resources at the time, and their leader was threatened by Mephistopheles, I believe. As you've seen, he is a very large male, but he's also very calculating. The leader of this other clan was a female, also calculating, although she didn't have nearly as much brawn. I have a hard time remembering her appearance beyond that." Akriel frowned in thought. "Brighid and I had wandered off into their territory. Their beast attacked her. I tried to get between them, and his claws dug right in. Our parents were so angry with us for doing something that they had warned us about, and Faust was especially upset over my injuries when stone sleep didn't restore my vision. I think we were… maybe twenty human years?"
"You'd have been about the same age as Nashville." Brooklyn winced at the thought. "So… what's your place in your clan?" He winced again, this time as both Goliath and Hudson shot him stern looks.
"I am as much a warrior as my brothers and sisters." Akriel sounded amused, waving away any thought that he might have been offended by the question. "Faust knew that it would have killed any gargoyle to be rendered useless in a battle, so she insisted on my training being carefully thought-out from that point."
"Katana's homeland had stories about blind warriors. Swordsmen and ninjas who fought so well that it made their opponents feel as though their eyesight was more of a liability than an asset." Brooklyn recalled. "I never met any for myself. Her clan's leader said they were just myths and legends."
"Then perhaps we should spar sometime." The younger gargoyle grinned, getting to his feet. "For now, though, it seems I'm wanted elsewhere. You'll have to excuse me."
"Wanted elsewhere…?" Goliath turned his head as Akriel passed him and was surprised to see Brighid had been standing quietly at the door. Judging from their similar expressions, Hudson and Brooklyn hadn't noticed her, either. "Brighid, how long have you been there?"
"Not long." She smiled and put her claws in Akriel's. He brought them to his lips, kissing them gently in greeting. "I wanted Akriel to meet Angela and her mate. The large one."
"Broadway. Yeah, he and Lexington should be out on patrol. They're due back any minute." Brooklyn looked at his two clanmates and whispered, "How did he know?"
"Because when you are blind, you learn how to hear a pin drop… or a heart beat." Akriel chuckled as he walked out of the room. "Alright, Brighid, let's meet this Angela who you're so fond of."
She giggled at the older males. "Sorry about him. He might be young, but you'd think he was an old man!" With that, she hurried to walk with him, holding his free claw in hers as they went along together.
My goals for this chapter was to make clear Xanatos' starting motive for having hired Faust in the first place, strengthen the relationships a little more between Mephistopheles' and Goliath's clans, and cue in to the fact that Demona is aware of Faust's presence. She's a very clever gargoyle, after all – it would be hard to believe if she wasn't aware of Faust! Also, I've something in store for Angela. Hm… *nefarious kitty thoughts*