Christine Morgan (email@example.com)
Author's Note: the characters of Gargoyles belong to Disney and are
used here without their knowledge or consent. The others are my own
creation. This story is a sequel to "Double Date."
Acknowledgements: I'd like to credit Thomas with the idea about Dr.
Sevarius' involvement in WWII. And I'd like to thank author Robert
McCammon for the use of the castle! I heartily recommend his novel
"They Thirst," and just about everything else by him as well.
WARNING LABEL: this story contains scenes of sexual content which
are quite disturbing! Mature readers only! (oh, yeah, there's some
violence, bloodshed, and death too).
"Not the trophy but the race, not the quarry but the chase." -- old
"I shall in all my best obey you, madam." -- Hamlet, Act I, Scene II.
"O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power so to seduce!" -- Hamlet,
Act I, Scene V.
"So shall you hear of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts." -- Hamlet, Act
V, Scene II.
Demona, voice over -- "Previously, on Gargoyles ...
(Dominique Destine's kitchen, early morning)
She listened with half an ear
while planning her strategy for
her first meeting of the day. A Mr. Nicholas Diamant. Much as it galled
her, she had a better chance of destroying the Quarrymen if she was
able to infiltrate their organization.
" -- revealed to be a gargoyle!"
Dominique knocked her coffee
cup to the floor as she spun to
face the television, suddenly sure that she'd been exposed and ruined.
The blow-dried newscaster's
unnaturally perfect smile gave
way to a film clip of a crowded concert, and a dark form gliding down
to the stage.
She knew that form, knew it
intimately. When the spotlight
gleamed over skin like obsidian and hair like snow, she upended her
dining room table.
ONE YEAR AGO -- THE ANVIL CORPORATION
"I said no and I meant no. It
remains far too dangerous."
He turned away from them, toward
the wide windows,
showing them his back. It was supposed to have the effect of silencing
them and making them uneasy, but all it did was free them from his
baleful gaze so that one in particular felt safe shooting off his big
"You're going chicken on us,
J.C!" Nicholas Diamant accused.
"It's been months since we've made a move! I'm getting tired of
smashing statues and listening to you run your gums!"
Murmurs swept the room, the
younger "board members" in
agreement, the older gentlemen in disapproval at Diamant's tone and
choice of words.
"He is still too visible," J.C.
said, glad that he was still facing
away so that they couldn't see how his hands were clenching into fists
so tight that his nails dug into his own skin. "And too far away. We
haven't the manpower nor the resources to risk a cross-country assault
on such a well-known target."
"It would be like assassinating
Michael Jackson or Madonna,"
someone chimed in.
"As if that would be a bad thing,"
someone else added in a low
"It's because of his visibility
and popularity that he should be
our main objective!" Diamant argued. "The others have gone into
hiding. He's out there getting famous!"
"Your grudge against Big Black
is purely personal," J.C.
pointed out, turning to coldly eye Diamant. "Which clouds your
judgement. You've lost sight of the true crusade."
"So have you!" Diamant shot
back. "You've turned us into a
cult, all talk and money-grubbing, and no action! Maybe it's time for a
Another ripple swept the room,
this time comprised of shocked
rustling and gasps. Diamant was on his feet, angrily brushing back his
long, unkempt hair.
J.C. said nothing for a long
moment, letting the others look
back and forth between them. He stood straight, hands neatly folded,
aristocratic manner firmly in place. Diamant was a scruffy juvenile by
comparison, and he knew it.
"A change?" J.C. said softly.
"If you're not pleased with our
progress, Mr. Diamant, I'm sure the board would agree that you are
welcome to seek employment elsewhere."
Realizing he was losing the
edge, Diamant slouched into an
arrogant pose and grinned insolently at J.C. "I might at that! I've been
having some very profitable meetings with Dominique Destine."
J.C.'s compsure shattered like
"I'm surprised you hadn't approached
her yourself, J.C. She's
very sympathetic to our cause and interested in our operations."
"You fool! You unbelievable
fool!" J.C. choked out.
"_You've_ been meeting with
Dominique Destine?" one of the
city's wealthiest investment bankers raised his eyebrows doubtfully.
"She likes younger men," Diamant
winked. "And she's not a
woman who's afraid to take action!"
"No! Idiot! How could you --
how dare you -- " J.C. sputtered.
Diamant looked scornfully at
him. "What bug's flown up your
"SHE'S ONE OF THEM!" he screamed
at the top of his lungs.
"THE ENEMY! SHE'S A GARGOYLE!"
A brief but total silence fell,
during which they all regarded
him with the careful speculation used when one realized one might be
dealing with a lunatic.
Diamant smirked. "A gargoyle,"
he repeated. "Dominique
Destine, CEO of Nightstone Unlimited. A gargoyle. Are we talking
about the same babelicious redhead, Johnny?"
"Imbecile! She uses sorcery
to become human by day! She's
the demon, I tell you, the demon!"
Now none of them would look
at him, only at each other. The
jury was coming in on his sanity, with unfavorable results. He actually
felt their esteem slipping away. Hot blood filled his face, thundered in
"Suuuuurrrrrre she is," Diamant
said, nodding knowingly.
"Suuuuurrrrre she is."
Something snapped in J.C., a
mental circuit breaker sizzling
and blowing sparks. He leapt at Diamant and grabbed the younger man
by the shoulders, shaking him back and forth like a Rottweiller with a
mailman. "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE, YOU FOOL? WHAT HAVE
YOU TOLD HER?!"
Pandemonium broke out as the
rest of the board members tried
to pull them apart. Diamant resisted their efforts long enough to take
swing, clipping J.C. on the jaw and knocking him back. He crashed
over a chair and fell heavily to the floor, his legs tangled.
Diamant stood over him, even
more rumpled and unkempt. His
shirt sleeve had ridden up, revealing a truly appalling tattoo of a robed
figure with blazing red wings.
J.C. summoned all the dignity
he could muster without getting
up. "Turn in your hood and hammer, Mr. Diamant, and get the bloody
hell out of my building."
"I'll tell you where you can
put your hammer," Diamant said.
"And make sure you charge it up first!" With that, he shrugged off the
men that were holding him, flipped back his hair again, and strode out.
SIX MONTHS AGO
From V.I.P. Magazine (Elaine Kristin's byline):
It's a typical gorgeous Southern
California spring day. The sun
beats down brightly on the red-tiled roof of the faux-hacienda, bees
drone lazily in the bouganveillia bushes, and silhouetted against a
brilliant blue sky, a dark and brooding figure looks over the peaceful
Los Angeles, the City of Angels,
is now the home of Scarlet
Angel, one of the hottest young bands in America. And the dark figure
watching over them is none but their own guardian Angel, manager
bass player, known only as Ebon.
Ebon is a gargoyle.
His story seems part Phantom
of the Opera and part Beauty
and the Beast, but also remains one of the deepest mysteries around.
His fellow band members are closemouthed about his past and exactly
how he came to be one of them.
"It's one of those things you
can't really talk about because
nobody will believe you," guitarist Johnny Harlowe says. With his
dreamy blue eyes and movie-star smile, Johnny by rights should be the
male heartthrob of the band, but he doesn't seem to mind being
displaced by a guy with a tail and an eighteen-foot wingspan.
"We all have our secrets," wild-haired
drumstress Pagan adds.
"Ebon's been our good luck, got us moving in the right direction."
It is thanks to Ebon's skillful
management that the band has
gone from a hand-to-mouth existence living out of their van and touring
the country for gigs to being one of the most sought-after properties of
the decade. They've produced three albums in the past year and a half,
and two of those have gone straight to number one. Their concert tour,
kicked off by the infamous Blue Moon Concert in Central Park
(revealing Ebon to the world for the first time), was nothing short of
Success hasn't changed Scarlet
Angel, not yet. They're still
close, close as a family. "A clan," lead singer Julianna corrects, saying,
"We all come from broken families, so that word doesn't mean as much
to us. We're clan."
When asked if there is a more-than-clan
her and Ebon, the ethereal brunette only glances up to the roof with a
faraway smile. Since more than half of Scarlet Angel's major hits have
been love songs, she doesn't really need to reply.
The five band members share
the sprawling house. "Way more
room than the old van," keyboardist and lyricist Aquarius, a shambling
goodnatured hippy-type says with a grin. The old van he mentions is
parked in the middle of their landscaped backyard, supposedly to
remind them of their beginnings, a humble gesture uncommon in most
of today' stars.
In a lot of ways, stardom has
yet to go to their heads. They
give cheerful tours of the house and grounds, and in doing so let slip
few hints about their background. Julianna, for instance, is comfortable
with the size of the estate and the servants. That combined with her
slight East-Coast accent suggests that there might be a Boston socialite
or New York debutante hiding in her past. But the faint scars on her
wrists tell a darker history.
"Yes, I have tried suicide,"
Julianna admits readily enough. "It
was a stupid thing, and I'm not proud of it, but I don't deny it. 'Last
Chance,' a song on our new album, is my way of trying to tell people
that it's not the answer."
At dusk, an amazing ceremony
takes place. The four young
people gather on the roof as the sun sinks blazing into the Pacific (the
view from the roof is right off a postcard, especially on days like this
when California is every bit the golden dream it is believed to be). And
then, something incredible happens.
Like the fault lines that underlay
the city, cracks race across
Ebon's stone surface. Chips explode outward as he comes to life. His
friends, his clan, come to greet him.
Are gargoyles monsters?
Ebon looks sinister, with his
jet-black skin and blood-red eyes,
but there is nothing sinister about his welcoming smile. News stories
about gargoyles portray them as vicious, destructive, and uncivilized.
That image is quickly lost in the face of Ebon's polite and charming
Like the rest of Scarlet Angel,
he doesn't like to talk about his
past. He admits a connection with New York's gargoyles ("Relatives,
after a fashion," he says in the deep voice that makes most women
dizzy) but denies any other involvement.
With the news full of gargoyle
sightings and hate groups, it is
dangerous for Ebon to live in such a high-profile fashion. He isn't
concerned, and even hopes that his example will help the rest of his
kind gain some sort of acceptance. "People fear that which is different,"
he says. "But there are similarities beneath the differences, and I like
think that we are helping to show that."
Hot talk on the movie scene
is that Ebon was offered a major
role as a villain in the next Batman installment. "I declined," he says
with an enigmatic smile. "I felt that portraying a genetically-engineered
monster at this point in my career would be backsliding."
So what is next for Scarlet
Angel? They will be appearing on
the Tonight Show with Jay Leno to promote their new album (Embrace
the Night), many videos are in the works, and there are rumors of an
upcoming world tour. For Scarlet Angel, for Ebon, and maybe even for
all of us, it is the dusk of a new night.
ONE MONTH AGO -- SEPTEMBER 1998 -- NIGHTSTONE
"It never rained like this on
Avalon," Jericho remarked,
pausing in mid-set to look up at the water beating on the skylights.
"If you say one more word about
how flippin' spiffy Avalon is,
I'm gonna come over there and pound your butt into the mat," Hector
Gervaso said without looking up from his magazine.
Jericho bristled. He had his
mother's temper as well as her
looks, and while on Avalon he'd tried to keep it under control, here she
encouraged him to let it show. "I'd like to see you try it, bald one!"
Now Heck looked up. His thick
black brows crawled over each
other as he rearranged his features into a glower. "Don't say what you
don't mean, kid, or I'll bump you so hard you really will think you're
back on precious Avalon among the fairies."
"Come on, then." Jericho set
down the barbell and beckoned
with his talons. "Let's see what you can do, old man!"
Heck got to his feet and laid
aside his magazine. The cover
depicted a barechested man creeping in the bushes, his face streaked
with black, a knife in his teeth. "Club Gung-Ho!!!" the title hollered
slashed red letters that looked like they were dripping blood. "The
complete commando training vacation experience!"
Jericho crouched warily, his
legs and tail flexing as he tried to
predict Heck's first move. The human was more than a foot shorter, but
was nearly as wide as he was tall and that width was pure muscle.
Despite his bulk, he was cat-quick and could even take down Demona
three out of five. His official title for payroll purposes was "Security
Specialist," but he was in reality an amoral mercenary and had been
Jericho's personal trainer for the past two months.
They circled each other, each
looking for an opening and
waiting for the other to make a careless move. Jericho couldn't help but
Before coming to New York, his
only teacher had been
Guardian Tom, whose own skills were paltry as he'd lived on Avalon
since he was but a child. Guardian Tom had learned to fight for defense,
for necessity. Heck fought for different reasons entirely, those reasons
being profit and love of mayhem.
More than anything, Jericho
wanted to become a warrior. A
real warrior! He wanted to learn to use any and every weapon there
was, every style of fighting. His mother Demona was fully supportive,
and nothing made her prouder than when he mastered some new skill.
He worked himself to exhaustion night after night just to see that light
in her eyes.
Just as he was about to make
his first move, the intercom
buzzed. "Mr. Gervaso?"
Jericho glanced that way, realized
his mistake too late, and
tried to dodge as Heck's fists came in, one-two, blurrily fast. Next thing
he knew, Jericho was facedown on the exercise mat, snarling in
frustration and humiliation.
Heck went to the intercom and
pressed the reply button.
"Ms. Destine is holding on Line
2," the evening secretary said
He plucked the reciever off
the wall. "Gervaso here." He
listened for a moment. "Eating floor, why? Yeah, okay." Heck tossed
the phone to Jericho. "Your mommy's calling."
Jericho shot him a dirty look
and held it to his ear, checking to
be sure he was doing it right this time. All of this technology was still
fairly new to him, but he was determined to get the hang of it.
"Hello, my son," Demona said
warmly. "How is your training
"I can't stand this human,"
he growled, knowing that Heck
could hear him and not caring. Heck only snorted as if amused and
picked up his magazine again, turning to a section about shark hunting.
"Don't worry about him," Demona
soothed. "You'll learn
everything he knows, become as good as him, and then become even
better. On the day you can best him, you can kill him."
His mouth dropped open. "But
"In this world, Jericho, we
have to learn to kill or we'll be
killed. We can't afford to hold back, to be weak."
"I'm not afraid to kill!" he
declared, moving out of Heck's
earshot. "But I thought he was valuable to you ...?"
"Not a hundredth so much as
you are. Consider it both your
final exam and my graduation present."
"Thank you, Mother!" He grinned
ferally. "I'll devote myself
to my studies!"
"The reason I called," she said,
"was to ask you a favor. I left
something in the research lab. Can you bring it when you come back to
the house? I wouldn't want to trust it to anyone else."
"Good. It's a tan leather case
with my initials on it. If you can't
find it --"
"I'll find it. You can rely
on me, Mother. I'll have it in your
hands by midnight!"
She laughed, the husky throaty
laugh that made him tingle. "I
don't know how I lived without you, Jericho. I'll see you later."
He hung up the phone, letting
his fingers trail across it for a
moment in a lingering caress. His exertions had left him warm but not
_this_ warm. Hurriedly, without so much as a glance at Heck, he
headed for the shower.
Later, his hair still damp from
a torturous five-minute
immersion under the icy spray, he stepped into the elevator and used his
code key to descend to the basement sub-level 5.
He didn't much care for being
down here, as if he could feel
the entire massive weight of the skyscraper pressing down on him, tons
upon tons of concrete, steel, and black glass, not to mention the weight
of the many human drones and their machines. But he always kept his
nervousness on a tight rein, never wanting his mother to see it.
The subterranean corridors were
spotlessly clean and well lit,
yet still managed to give the impression of dungeon gloom. The air had
a medicinal tang to it that couldn't be overpowered by the forest-fresh
Jericho poked around, being
careful not to touch the
machinery, until he found the forgotten leather case. It was unlatched,
so when he picked it up, it swung open and dumped a drift of papers
onto the floor. A couple of computer disks also fell out but he was able
to catch those before they struck.
He muttered an oath and bent
to gather the papers. Atop the
pile was a slick magazine, and when he turned it over and saw the front
cover, he froze.
A gargoyle. A gargoyle who,
except for his coloring, looked
exactly like Goliath. He was shown in profile, facing a darkhaired
human female over a microphone. Across the top were the letters V.I.P.
and a date (April 1998), and across the bottom: "Scarlet Angel -- On the
Wings of Love."
During their few days on Avalon,
his mother Demona had told
him her millenium-spanning life story. Including how she had been used
and betrayed by the clone Thailog.
"How dare he!" Jericho snarled,
crumpling the magazine's
slick paper in his fists. He set it aside before he could damage it and
thumbed through the rest of the papers. Maps, addresses, notes, but
nothing that immediately caught his eye.
He read through the article.
California, he knew, was on the
other side of the country. This world was far, far bigger than the one
he'd known, so he couldn't very well rush off and avenge the slight to
his mother, no matter how much he'd like to.
Putting his temper on hold,
he replaced everything in the case
and headed for the elevator. When he found himself in an unfamiliar
corridor, he realized he must have taken a wrong turn.
Grumbling, aware that midnight
was fast approaching and he
had promised to be home by then, he went back but still didn't come to
a place he recognized. Rather than keep wandering, he paused and
listened, then set off in the direction which hinted at being less deserted.
His ears led him to a large
room filled with monitors and
medical devices. One entire wall was taken up with a window of thick
glass, looking into another room.
In that other room, a man was
strapped securely to a hospital
bed. Tubes and wires connected him to a variety of machines. His eyes
were taped shut. He was unclothed, and, Jericho observed with some
distaste, in a state of apparent arousal. Through speakers, he could hear
the man, groaning in combined ecstacy and mortal terror.
The human was painfully thin,
just the wasted shell of what
must have been a fairly robust body. His skin was sallow, his brown
hair was a snarled horror, his features nearly lost in a tangle of beard.
There was a discoloration on his arm, a reddish shape that from here
almost looked like a gargoyle.
The sound was sharp and loud
as a gunshot, and right behind
Jericho. He spun, every nerve afire, claws hooked to gouge and tear.
"Guten Abend, mein Herr."
Jericho relaxed, but only a
The sharp sound had been the
metal-shod tip of the doctor's
cane slamming down on the tiled floor. His long-fingered hand caressed
the silver gargoyle's head at its top.
Gustav Sevarius was tall, but
stooped with age. His thick white
hair was severely short, his face as distinguished as that of a gentleman
esquire. His eyes were a bright, direct green, and Demona had
laughingly confided to Jericho that the staff believed Sevarius to be
Dominique's father because of that clear emerald gaze.
He was the only human Jericho
had met that made him uneasy.
"Exploring your castle, young
Jericho?" he asked with casual
disinterest as he went to one of the monitors and made an adjustment.
He spoke with a thick accent which Jericho had come to believe was
largely contrived, turning "exploring" into "eckshplorink."
He held up the case defensively.
"My mother asked me to
bring her this." His curiosity overcame him and he had to add, "What
are you doing to that human?"
"What is it to you?"
"I want to learn all about Nightstone's
projects," he said.
"As the heir apparent?" Sevarius
cackled. "Very well. Some
background is in order. My brother and I have long been interested in
science. But where Anton chose to study the body, I devoted my studies
to the mind. We enjoyed the height of our research in Germany --" his
accent made it come out "Churmunny" -- "during the war. Oh,
technology has advanced a thousandfold since those days, but the
experimental subjects were much more readily available." He gazed
into space, nostalgia coloring his words.
"What did you study?" Jericho
asked, drawn despite himself.
He was dimly aware of the war of which Sevarius spoke, since Demona
had mentioned it fondly in her biography. Anything that led to humans
killing each other on a grand scale had her approval.
"My area of expertise was behavior
modification and memory
enhancement. Hypnosis, regression, interrogation, truth serums --"
"False memories?" In his spare
time, he was a voracious movie
watcher, and because his mother favored high-body-count action flicks,
he had recently gone on a Schwarzenegger binge, including the space
movie Total Recall.
"Very good," Sevarius said,
nodding. "Those as well. In time, I
became fascinated with the effects of traumatic memories on the brain
and nervous system. Test subjects had strong reactions when asked to
recall unpleasant events. I wanted to find out what would happen if we
could isolate an experience and, if you will, put it on constant replay."
"That's what you're doing to
him?" Jericho stared through the
"Indeed. With a combination
of mnemzetropine and electrical
synaptic stimulation, we have effectively trapped that man in a single
moment of his life, causing him to relive it again and again."
"For how long?"
"Almost a year now," Sevarius
said proudly. "It has made his
psyche extremely malleable."
"You mean he's mad as a badger."
"Words mean nothing. Results
"What good is it to destroy
his mind?" Jericho wondered
"He becomes as a blank slate,
the perfect subject for behavior
modification. You see, with traditional brainwashing methods,
including drugs and hypnosis, it is possible to accomplish a great deal.
However, it remains difficult to program a subject to perform an act that
goes against his moral code." He sneered the last two words as if he
doubted they existed. "This process should eliminate all traces of
personality, eradicate the very soul, if you will."
"You say that as if you don't
believe in souls."
He laughed. "Between my brother
and I, we have dissected
every inch of the human body and brain. We know its structures, its
cells, every part and function. Never, in all our years of study, have
found any evidence of a soul."
He screamed until his larynx
ruptured, and only then did
merciful darkness claim him.
For a while.
And then it began again.
He stretched out on the bed
as she'd directed. The black satin
sheets were cool and slippery against his bare skin.
He watched with growing desire
as she stripped off her blouse.
"For an older woman, you've still got what it takes," he said
She freed her hair from the
bun, letting it tumble over her
shoulders. "You like?"
"Surprised I invited you here?"
"No," he lied brashly. "I saw
the signals. I'll tell you, though,
I'm not used to the woman making the first move."
Her skirt slid down her legs
and she stepped out of it, now in
nothing but lace bra and panties so filmy he could tell she was a natural
redhead. "You know what really excites me?" she breathed.
"Being in control." She unhooked
her bra and dropped it, then
placed her hands behind her head and took a deep breath.
"You mean, being on top?"
"That, too." She turned so that
her back was to him and rolled
her panties down, bending over and giving him a world-class view of
her shapely tush. "But that's not all."
She practically _oozed_ to the
bedside and stood in a pose that
begged him to reach for her. So, not being dumb, he did.
She grabbed his wrist and before
he knew what was happening,
had whipped a fur-lined cuff around it and snapped it tight.
"Being in control, like I said.
He was startled for a beat or
two, then grinned. "Okay, if that's
what gets your motor running."
"Yes," she said. "It does."
"Fine by me." He flopped on
his back and obligingly stretched
out his arms, trying to look as if he'd done this a hundred times before.
He'd have his chance later to be in charge, the way it should be.
She restrained him at the wrists
and the ankles, then regarded
him with her hands on her hips. "My, my, don't you look tempting, all
helpless like that."
He laughed. "When do you get
out your whips and leather?"
"Maybe later." She crawled sinuously
onto the bed and began
running her hands lasciviously over his captive body. She toyed with
him, not touching him where he really wanted to be touched, paying
attention to every other part of him except that major part. Her hair,
lips, her tongue, her breasts, she was all over him.
He tried to grab her whenever
she got within reach of one of
his bound hands, but she twisted away with a chiding smile. This game
was getting old, he wasn't used to this sort of frustration, but he was
willing to go along because if he didn't, she'd show him the door.
Finally, when he was so hard
it hurt, she straddled his hips. He
bucked upward eagerly but she anticipated him and shifted so that he
missed. She bent close, her breath warm on his face, hands braced on
either side of his head. Lowered her hips so that he was poised at the
very gates of paradise, but holding him pinned with her muscular
thighs, she darted her tongue across his lips.
"Excuse me while I change into
something more comfortable,"
And then it happened.
Her claws ripped furrows in
the bed as her hands convulsed.
Mattress stuffing bulged upward like disembowled intestines, blinding
white against the shredded black satin.
Wings exploded from her bare
back. Her skin shaded rapidly
to blue. She threw back her head, mouth open to expose fangs. Her ears
stretched into points. When she snapped her gaze back down, her eyes
were hell-furnace pools.
His body was rigid with shock,
except for the part that was
rigid with arrested lust. His chest was paralyzed. He wanted to scream,
surely would scream as soon as he could draw in a breath through a
She thrust her hips down and
engulfed him in her slick
Panting with dark excitement,
she rode him feverishly. He
lunged against his bonds but his feeble struggles only seemed to further
her cruel passion. She growled savagely, using him, rudely taking her
Now he could breathe, and now
he could scream. Now he
_had_ to scream as he felt, even through unimaginable horror and
revulsion, the rushing onset of an unspeakable event.
As his body betrayed him and
shuddered in explosive orgasm,
he screamed until his larynx ruptured, and only then did merciful
darkness claim him.
For a while.
And then it began again.
NOW -- OCTOBER 1998
"Don't play with that," Gustav
Sevarius said. "It isn't a toy.
One slip, and you'll be reliving your stupidity for the next month."
"I wasn't going to slip," Jericho
complained, but he
nonetheless turned the weapon so that it was pointed well away from
himself. "It looks like a flare gun."
"The barrel must be wide in
order to accomodate the
projectile. In future revisions, we will doubtless be able to scale it
"It will be fine for this first
... field test," Demona said, resting
a hand on Jericho's shoulder.
"Now. Attend please." Sevarius
opened the small black case.
"Six projectiles, all plugged into this battery pack. They can only hold
charge for a matter of minutes on their own, but once in contact with the
target, the galvanic currents in the skin will prove sufficient to power
them indefinitely. The drug is here, in this glass ampoule."
"Are those prongs strong enough
to pierce clothing?" Jericho
"Of course. They will even go
through bone, which is what we
want. You will shoot for the head. Barring that, the spine. Any other
site is likely to have less than optimal results. Of course, we still have
no way of knowing what effect it will have on gargoyles. I do wish a
test subject had been available."
"And I told you, that wasn't
possible," Demona said harshly.
"We'll have to try it and see."
"What could happen?" Jericho
"Total synaptic collapse, hallucinations,
knows?" Sevarius shrugged. "Even to me, the human brain remains
mysterious, and the gargoyle brain all but a complete unknown."
"You'll carry the gun," Demona
He swelled with pride. "I won't
"I know." She twined a lock
of his scarlet hair around her
finger, then tweaked his ear. "I know."
She was waiting for him when
he awoke, a lovely vision
against the gold and amethyst sky.
"Julianna," Ebon said warmly.
He held out his hand. She
clasped his fingers, her smile lifting his soul.
"This came in the mail." She
held out a thick ivory envelope.
"It got mixed in with the fan letters and Johnny only just found it. But
look at the return address!"
He did so. "The Aerie Building,
"It isn't his handwriting."
Ebon opened it, read the card
that slid out, and his brow ridges
raised in surprise. "Mr. and Mrs. Peter Maza are pleased to announce
the wedding of their daughter, Elisa Maria ... to Goliath of Castle
"A wedding invitation?" she
gasped. "But he's ... but they're
"Not entirely unlike us," he
finished, looking at her.
She blushed and averted her
eyes. "When is it?"
He consulted the card. "The
thirty-first. Halloween. If I'd
known sooner ... "
"If you want to go, we can manage
"No. I made a promise to the
hospital. The children are
"At least now you know that
the clan trusts you," she said
gently. "If Goliath still held you to blame for what happened before, he
wouldn't want you at his wedding. "
"You're right, my angel." He
caressed her cheek. "As usual."
She closed her eyes and leaned
into his touch for a moment,
then pulled away. He sighed. Even after all this time, she was reluctant
to fully let go, afraid to get too close.
"I have to get going," she said
hastily. "Johnny and I are going
to the premier party for the new Robin Williams movie. Sure you don't
want to come?"
"Another time," he promised.
"When the theater constructs a
seat that will hold me and not let my height obscure the view. Give
Robin my regards, though, and tell him I thought his impression was
actually quite humorous."
"I will." She brushed a quick
kiss on his cheek. "See you
He sank into a thoughtful silence,
watching the lights come on
in the vast urban sprawl that was the L.A. basin. Their estate was
perched high in the Hollywood Hills, isolated, solitary. The only other
building in sight was the Kronsteen Castle, which had been unoccupied
for several years and was now a ruin of its former dark glory.
Isolated. Solitary. Remote,
even. Far from prying eyes.
Why, then, did he have the cliche
feeling that he was being
Demona set down her binoculars
when Thailog left the roof of
the Spanish-style house.
"It must be a genetic flaw,"
she muttered. "This weakness for
Jericho glided down to land
beside her, carefully, for the old
stones showed some signs of crumbling. "Is it time?"
"Soon, my son. Soon."
"Did you sleep?"
"Revenge will rejuvenate me
the way a day's stone sleep once
did. Just being here," she gazed around at the towers, the arrowslits,
menacing gargoyles, "is restful in itself. Do you know, I lived here
once? When the horror movie star who brought it over from Europe
was killed, the castle got the reputation for being haunted. It provided
me a good hideaway in exchange for furthering that legend."
"What were you doing here, in
"Trying to survive," she said
bitterly. "I'd been driven out of
my previous home by the Hunter, and thought he'd never find me here.
It was here that I met Xanatos, when he and Fox were trying to start up
The Pack. But that's all in the past." She tensed alertly, picking up the
"What is it?"
"Two of the humans are leaving.
They're getting into the car."
"The fewer we have to deal with,
"No," she declared. "We'll deal
with those two first."
"I think you two are great together,"
Julianna didn't reply. She sat
in the passenger seat, hands
primly folded in the lap of her pale blue dress.
"Everyone thinks so," he continued.
"Well, except for those
loonies that send you the hate mail, but who cares about them? Can't
please everybody, right?" He chuckled, expertly steering through the
first of the switchbacks that would take them past the Kronsteen place
and down into civilization. "I remember when we first met him, he just
loomed in front of us --"
Something loomed in front of
Julianna cried out in surprise
as the winged shape sailed over
"Hey! Was that Ebon?" They veered,
but Johnny quickly
corrected and slowed down. "What the hell is he doing? I nearly pissed
myself!" He craned his neck to peer ahead and up.
"I don't think it was --" Julianna
began, and then there was a
The roof of the car buckled
inward, punctured in two places by
sharp talons. Johnny yelled and slammed on the brakes. Julianna's
seatbelt locked tight, crushing the breath from her lungs. The car slewed
sideways and came to a shuddering stop.
The thing on the roof flipped
forward onto the hood, crouching
there with white-blazing eyes and a snarling fang-filled mouth. A
gargoyle, but not Ebon.
His fist crashed through the
windshield, showering Julianna
with bits of gummed safety glass. Claws shredded her seatbelt, then
hauled her out through the broken glass. Johnny grabbed at her feet,
suspending her in an agonizing tug-of-war. She shrieked and flailed her
"Hang on, Jules!" Johnny hit
the horn with his elbow. It blared
mindlessly into the night.
Another shape dropped on his
side of the car and ripped the
door off. Johnny's grip on Julianna let loose so fast that the gargoyle
backwards, dragging her with him. They tumbled over the hood and
into the road, gravel grinding beneath them.
A female gargoyle slammed Johnny's
face into the steering
wheel. His scream was cut off even as it began. He slumped sideways,
out of Julianna's sight.
The male jerked her to her feet,
her back to him. One large
hand pinned her wrists behind her, while his other hand closed over her
throat. "I have her!"
"Well done!" The female approached
and studied Julianna
with utter loathing. "I cannot comprehend the attraction," she said
"Please ..." Julianna whispered,
tears welling up.
The female's mouth twisted in
disgust. "Begging, so soon? Not
much like the detective, are you?"
Julianna's entire body was quaking
with fear. If the male hadn't
been holding her upright, she would have collapsed.
"I understand we have a couple
of things in common. Nick, for
"Nick!" Julianna bolted, her
sudden move taking the male so
much by surprise that his hold slipped. He recovered fast, wrenching
her left arm painfully. "Nick! Where is he!" Her eyes darted back and
forth in bright panic.
The female caught Julianna by
the chin. "He's a continent
away and in no condition to trouble you. The one you should be afraid
of, sweetness, is me. And I'll see that you are."
Her fist flashed out. Julianna's
head snapped back. She went
"Leave her there for now." Demona
pointed to the side of the
road. "Dirt will be the last of her worries."
Jericho did as she commanded,
then joined her at the side of
the stalled car. "What about him?"
"Here, help me push it."
He looked from the unconscious
human inside to the steep
drop ahead. "But ... he's helpless. It'll kill him."
"Do you think he'd hesitate
if the situations were reversed? Do
you think the Vikings had second thoughts as they were about to shatter
our clan? Humans have chased us from our homes, hunted us to near
extinction! I thought you understood, Jericho! I thought you wanted to
be a warrior and take back the world for gargoyle kind! Now I see that
you're more concerned with protecting the precious humans!"
She spun away, shoulders sagging
in defeat. "Just like your
The words fell upon him like
"Never," he whispered, and threw
his weight against the car.
He strained, muscles quivering, teeth clenched.
The car began to move, sluggishly
at first because three of the
tires had blown, and then quicker as Jericho dug his back claws into the
asphalt and cried out from the effort. It rolled ponderously, picked up
speed, and then he was trotting alongside it as it wobbled toward the
The car got hung up on the edge,
its undercarriage caught on
scrub brush and rocks, so Jericho gave it a final shove and felt gravity
The noise was horrific, squealing
and crunching. The
remaining doors and the hood were torn off in tangles of metal.
Jericho could see the human,
held fast by his seatbelt, tossed
bonelessly back and forth. A final bounce punched in the entire driver's
side. The car came to rest a hundred feet below, crumpled like a beer
He stood on the edge, wings
flared slightly, waiting for the
explosion that a steady diet of action movies had taught him to expect.
Aside from a small, disenheartened lick of flame, though, there was
Nothing but the battered, lifeless
shells of car and man.
He slowly turned, and raised
his head to Demona.
Pride shining in her eyes, she
opened her arms to him. He
accepted her embrace and rested his brow against her shoulder. She
stroked his hair, murmured his name.
He closed his eyes and breathed
deep of her scent. Leather and
cinnamon, and the lingering ghost of Dominique's musky perfume. His
arms went around her of their own accord, drawing her firm curves
against his body.
Conflicting fires burned in
him, incendiary, consuming. He
wanted her; she was his mother. His desire was greater than anything
he'd felt for any of his sisters on Avalon; some inner voice cried out
it was wrong. He shook from the force of that inner struggle.
"The first kill is the hardest,"
she breathed, comforting him,
evidently mistaking his reaction for shock and remorse. "It is easier in
battle. You'll see."
How could he explain to her
that the human was the last thing
on his mind? She saw him only as a son, that much was obvious. What
was also obvious was that she still harbored some feelings for this
Thailog, although he had ill-treated her. When Thailog was out of the
way ... and possibly even Goliath himself ...
Ebon strummed thoughtfully,
then nodded at Aquarius. "Yes, I
think we've got it. Shall we again, from the top?"
"Just a mo. My incense is burnt
out." Aquarius set aside his
keyboard and gangled over to the shelf where he inserted a long stick
between the pursed lips of a marble gargoyle and lit it up. The fragrant
smoke slipped toward the ceiling.
"Where is Pagan tonight? Did
she go with Julianna and
"Nah. She's dying her hair."
"What color this time?" he asked
"Last I saw, she was trying
to decide on whether to tip the
yellow spikes with purple or green." Aquarius shook his head. "Fret it
not, big dude. She'll grow out of it."
"I'd like her opinion on this
new --" he broke off, listening
intently. "Did you hear something?"
"Nothin' but the turning of
the great cosmic wheel, man."
All of the lights went out.
"What the --" Aquarius began,
but Ebon hushed him with a
"Something's not right," he
whispered. He gripped the
overlarge bass guitar like a weapon. "Stay here."
Ebon crept through the house
as quietly as he could, the glow
through the windows more than enough to light his way. The house felt
_wrong_ in a way that a mere power outage could not justify. The
sound he'd heard just beforehand, a sound like breaking glass mingled
with a muffled cry ... ungood.
He reached the door to Pagan's
room. It was standing open,
and the air reeked. Hair dye ... and blood.
Alarm shot through him, but
he did not rush blindly in.
Moving with extreme caution, he went to the next room down, which
adjoined via a bathroom. It was dark and silent, undisturbed by so much
as a breath or motion.
He eased the bathroom door open.
The stink intensified, nearly
gagging him. Against the white tile and porcelain, the stains stood out
like visual screams. Spilled dye and splashes of blood, modern art for
museum of death.
Pagan was in the tub. Her colorful
hair was matted maroon by
the blood that sluggishly flowed through it and into the drain. Her throat
had been sliced open, almost to the point of decapitation.
A single glance told him that
she was beyond help. His instant
of grief turned swiftly to fury. He had failed as her protector; he would
have to settle for vengeance.
Whoever had done this atrocity
was still in the house. He
sensed it. He had to find the killer, and right quick, because Aquarius
was still upstairs. They could escape, but Julianna and Johnny might
return at any time. He couldn't have them walk in on such danger.
He spared one final grief-stricken
look back at Pagan. For a
moment, he saw Julianna's lovely features superimposed over hers,
an omen of things to come.
No. Not Julianna. He would die
a thousand times over before
letting her suffer the merest hurt.
He made no more effort to be
quiet. Let the killer hear him,
come to him. He wanted to be found, wanted a chance to deal with this
in a personal and final manner. Not the police, no, he had seen enough
of human law to know that murderers often went unpunished even in the
face of overwhelming evidence.
His shadow paced him as he crossed
the spacious living room.
Not his shadow.
He whirled toward the gargoyle,
whose build was enough like
his own to have fooled him. But already the other was too close,
moving with deadly proficiency and speed. Ebon started to raise the
guitar but it was ripped from his grasp and careened across the floor.
Instinct, yes, Ebon had instinct
aplenty, but no training and
little experience in combat, whereas his opponent benefitted from all of
the above. He struck with both power and efficiency, driving Ebon
gasping to his knees with a combination of blows.
The cold tip of a blade, tacky
with what he knew was Pagan's
blood, pressed against his temple.
"Move an inch, and I'll spit
you like a roast of beef."
Ebon's first insane thought
was that his attacker was Goliath,
because of the shape and the strength and the skill. But the voice, which
should have been a copy of his own, was different. Not Goliath. Not
anyone he knew.
"Well done," a new voice, a
richly textured female voice that
sent unaccountable chills through him, said proudly.
Ebon looked up. The living room
was open to the second
floor, and ringed by a gallery where they displayed their gold records
and framed enlargements of their album covers. At the top of the stairs
was another gargoyle, standing in the skylight's radiance.
Her, he knew, by reputation
and by strong warnings from
"Demona," he said.
She unfurled her wings and leapt
to land in front of him. "You
know me? Nick told me you had amnesia."
"Lexington told me you were
the cause. Why have you done
this? I am not the gargoyle you knew!" The knife dug harder against his
temple as he started to surge forward, and he subsided.
"Just because you don't remember
doesn't mean I've forgotten!
Nor does it excuse you! Still," she mused, tapping her claw against her
lips, "it is less than satisfying. You should know why you're being made
"I only know what I was told.
It means nothing to me."
She glanced at the other gargoyle,
who Ebon could now see
was a young male with coloring similar to hers. Her expression was wry
and chagrined. "I should have had my memory expert working on that,"
she said to the other.
"It will gain you nothing to
kill me. Your revenge will be
empty," Ebon said, promising himself that _his_ revenge would not be,
not when he himself was the cause of poor Pagan's murder. If not for
him, this harridan would never have come here!
"Still, I have an idea." She
picked up Ebon's dropped guitar
and ran her fingers over the strings, drawing forth a tortured sound.
"This always works in the movies."
With that, she swung it with
all her strength.
The heavy instrument, modified
to withstand the strength of
Ebon's hands, came down on the top of his head and snapped in two.
"Everything's going according
to plan," Demona uttered in her
best imitation of David Xanatos.
"Will the cage hold him?" Jericho
"If you couldn't break out of
it, how can he? You're younger,
stronger." She touched his arm, tracing the swell of his bicep, feeling
him shiver. "He's grown soft living among the humans. If he does
awaken with his memory restored, he'll be disgusted with himself."
She gave the cylindrical iron
cage a disdainful push, setting it
to swing on the thick chain with a rusty squeal. Thailog did not move.
She'd feared she'd killed him outright with the blow, which would have
been a disappointment and a shame. She had a better fate in mind for
"How long will it be before
someone finds the others?"
"We'll be gone by then," she
promised. "Tonight, we'll finish
with him and be on our way."
"It wasn't much of a fight,"
he said sadly.
She turned to him and took his
face between her palms,
smiling up at him. "You'll have other chances to test yourself. This was
only an appetizer. Humans like those could hardly pose much of a
challenge, especially to a trained warrior like yourself. Even Thailog
couldn't stand against you. Look how your studies have progressed! I
am so very pleased! More than I ever hoped!"
"It's all for you," he said
earnestly, putting his hands over hers.
"I want to make you proud of me. I want ..."
She let her gaze soften, parted
her lips slightly. "What do you
want?" she breathed.
He faltered, looked abashed.
"Uh ... to make you proud of
me," he repeated.
"Oh, I am! I am!" She caressed
the line of his jaw, making him
tremble. She inhaled deeply so that her breasts pushed briefly against
his chest. As he began to lean helplessly toward her, she added, "What
mother wouldn't be?" he withdrew in sudden shamed confusion.
"I ... I'll go patrol the walls
until dawn, just in case," he
stammered, and hastily turned from her to hurry away.
Demona laughed silently as he
left. When her eyes chanced to
fall on Thailog, though, her mood soured. "It's your fault, you know,"
she berated the unconscious gargoyle. "You and Goliath. Mostly
Goliath, yes. He could have made me whole again, had he but loved me
again! The other males, so very long ago ... they were nothing to me.
Dalliances, a night's pleasure here and there, always on the run from the
Hunter and the rest of the humans, never secure enough to choose a real
mate and breed, and then they were all dead and I was alone! I could
have won Goliath back to me, but even upon the very night of our
reunion, he rushed away from me to spend time with a human!"
Hot tears stung her eyes and
she angrily dashed them away.
"And then there was Brooklyn. I admit, I made a mistake there. I was
too quick with him. A slower seduction and I might have won his
loyalty for all time instead of having it so fast turn to hatred. Then
She laughed again, this time
with a hard, cruel edge. "You. A
hatchling in a full-grown body, knowing only those things that Xanatos
programmed you to know, crude and unsophisticated when it came to
coupling! And unwilling to learn! That first time, when you took me
against the wall of Notre Dame ... you grunted like a rutting boar!
MacBeth was worlds better!"
The words startled her so much
that she clapped a hand over
her mouth and glanced around in alarm. A hot flush suffused her body
as unwanted memories washed over her. She firmly put them out of her
"How long were you going behind
my back with that ... that
abomination?!" she demanded of him, although he could not answer
even if he remembered. "What did you call her? Delilah? Oh, very
clever, Thailog! Such a clever name, a play on words, and how dare you
suggest that it would be an improvement on me to combine my cells
with that infernal human?! Of all the millions of them, you chose her,
for no other reason than to infuriate me! Well, it worked, Thailog. It
worked. And tomorrow night, you'll pay the price for your insolence."
Demona stalked from the dungeon
and up the seemingly
endless winding stair that led from the undercellars of Kronsteen Castle
to the highest tower.
She emerged into the night air,
smelling the salt of the Pacific
freshening the usual miasma of L.A. To the west was utter blackness, to
the east was a pale line behind the mountains. In New York, it would be
day already, Goliath and his clan sealed in stone, too far away to
interfere with her plans this time.
Below, Jericho was just leaving
the courtyard, entering the
main keep of the castle. Something about his manner, his posture,
seemed furtive. As if he didn't want to be noticed.
Demona frowned. He couldn't
be having a fit of conscience,
could he? His performance had been excellent after that initial bit of
backsliding. He wouldn't take pity on the human female, not after he so
cleanly did away with her three friends.
She glided down to follow him
at a discreet distance, silent as
a cloud moving across midnight.
When she found him, she realized
at once that he belonged to
He was in a shadowed corner
of an antechamber off the grand
hall, a place which upon first look seemed private. But she knew this
castle far better than he, knew secrets about it that even Kronsteen
himself hadn't known, so it was an easy matter to find the spyhole.
The torture she had been
inflicting on him was having the
desired effect. Unable to cope with the mixed messages of temptress
and mother, he was in dire need of some outlet for his frustrated
arousal. To that end, he had taken matters into his own hands.
"My, my," she whispered under
her breath. "You do take after
your father in some respects!"
His head was thrown back, eyes
closed, face tense with the
urgency of his need. But, urgent as it was, he seemed unable to find
release, tormented no doubt by the forbidden thoughts racing through
She hadn't been unaffected by
her games, hadn't missed
noticing what a fine figure of a gargoyle he was. Now, seeing him like
this, she felt the familiar yearning course through her.
Keeping her sight fixed on him,
she slid her hands along her
thighs and under her garment. Her tail as well, timing her movements to
What would he do, she wondered,
if he could see her like this?
Would he flee from her in shame, or fall upon her with a frenzied lust?
What would she do, seeing the direct heat and intent in his eyes?
He cried out, low and gutteral,
and she nearly echoed it with
an impassioned moan of her own that would surely have alerted him.
She bit her lip to hold in such outbursts. Slower, now, she moved her
hands and tail, slow and forceful, while Jericho quickened his pace.
Another, louder cry was wrung
from him as he yeilded to his
need. An instant later, she followed suit, her knees buckling so that she
sank to the floor of the passage. She rested her brow against the cool
stone, feeling the tremors gradually subside.
By day, Los Angeles looked far
less impressive than it did by
night. The twinkling sea of lights gave way to a dull collection of flat
buildings, all canopied by a greasy, murky brown pall. The mountains
trapped the smog, except on those rare occasions when the wind blew
the whole stinking biosphere out to sea.
Demona, now in the guise of
Dominique, stood on the curved
terrace and thought that if she'd seen the place by day all those years
ago, she wouldn't have found it nearly so fascinating.
She swept her gaze over her
old stomping grounds. Malibu,
Burbank ... how perfect it had seemed, once she'd learned that Goliath's
clan chose names from New York, to give the clones names that had
meaning to her.
Her grin faded. Thailog had
ruined that as well. Stolen her clan
before they even emerged from their tanks, made them blindly loyal to
He'd even destroyed the one
that meant the most to her. Oh,
he'd claimed that Ventura's death was accidental, a result of a chemical
imbalance, but now she knew better.
Had it been fear that led him
to kill her? Fear that she, a Snow
White in reverse with hair as white as snow, skin as black as ebony, and
eyes as red as blood, might have been mistaken for his own offspring?
And then Angela had rejected
her again, so she'd lost both the
real daughter and the false.
Now, though, she had her son.
She walked over to him where
he crouched in a protective pose, and ran a hand over his stony flank.
What _would_ Goliath think,
she wondered. He'd never win
Jericho away from her the way he had won Angela.
Far below, she heard the insignificant
popping sounds of
humans using guns on one another. It brought a smile back to her lips.
That was part of the city's more recent charm. In the fifties, when she
had been a frequent guest at this castle, the days of freeway shootings
and the like were unimaginable. New York, for all its crime, had never
reached this level of degredation and squalor.
"I love L.A.," Demona murmured.
"It hasn't worked," Ebon said
by way of greeting as Demona
entered the dungeon, the sputtering torches turning her scarlet hair to
"I'm sure that's what you'd
like me to believe, to buy yourself
"I still remember nothing!"
"It won't work, Thailog. I know
He lunged back and forth within
the cage. "I speak the truth!"
The other gargoyle came in behind
Demona. He was carrying
a black case and a strange-looking weapon. He glared scathingly at
"What enemy am I of yours?"
Ebon asked him, perplexed.
"He is my son," Demona boasted.
Ebon studied the young male
piercingly and made a very good
guess. "If so, then you must have some of your father's nobility --"
Demona laughed. "Why? You didn't!"
"Don't speak of him to me! Would
that he wasn't my father,
and that I was no kin of his, nor yours even by clonish proxy!" The
male's eyes flared white.
"Wait, Jericho, wait," Demona
soothed. "We're not yet
He nodded and moved to stand
beside and behind the cage,
barely within Ebon's peripheral vision.
"So you plan to torture me?"
Ebon asked, his voice filling with
scorn. "When, for all intents and purposes, _I_ remain innocent of what
this Thailog has done?"
"You are good," Demona remarked,
cocking her head. "I could
almost think you meant it." Her wings flew suddenly wide and her tail
lashed in anger. "But it will not save you now!" She sprang to the wall
and turned a rust-clotted torch holder.
Stone grated against stone as
part of the wall slid aside.
"And there she stood," Demona
said. "Delilah, living proof of
your betrayal. But this was the best I could do."
"Julianna!" Ebon threw himself
against the bars with all his
Manacles joined her wrists.
She still wore the pale blue gown
she'd put on to attend the movie premiere, but it was dirty and torn and
stained. Her fair shoulders were scratched, bruises darkened her skin.
Her eyes, when she turned them toward his cry, were fogged with pain
"Release her!" Ebon thundered.
"She is no part of this!"
"I loved you," Demona said.
"I trusted you. Together, we built
a new clan. And then you took it all away from me. Well, now you
know what it is to love, to trust, to have a clan. And I am going to take
it all from you." She dragged Julianna, dazed and unprotesting, from the
recess in the wall. "You are never going to forget the price you paid for
"Let her go!" he commanded.
"Will you beg me, proud Thailog?
Will you grovel on your
knees and beg for this wretched human's life?"
"You would not free her if I
did. You have no honor."
"Behold who talks!" Demona showed
all of her teeth. "Ah, but
how should it be? Should I use some of these?" She waved at the array
of old torture implements. They glimmered in the torchlight, all sharp
edges and vicious points. "Should I throw her to the floor and bid
Jericho to use her, so brutally that she would die of it?"
"No!" Ebon cried, horrified.
"What?" the male said, startled.
Julianna seemed unaware of her
surroundings, unaware even
of his presence, and did not react to the hideous threat.
"Do you want her?" Demona offered
to her son.
"No! She's ... no!" he stammered,
"Good," she said, satisfied.
"That is one more thing you didn't
inherit from Goliath."
"Don't do this," Ebon said to
him. "She is insane, surely you
can see that. Don't let her lower you to her level."
"I go willingly wherever she
would take me," Jericho declared.
Demona smiled smugly. "Now,
that is loyalty."
"Demona, if you have an ounce
of compassion, let the girl go!"
"This from the gargoyle who
didn't hesitate at trying to blow
up Goliath's human sweetheart on an oil tanker, just because she had the
bad luck to be there. Compassion, Thailog? For humans? That was
burned out of me centuries ago!"
"No one is innocent. But I grant
you this -- at least I'll let it be
With that, she snapped Julianna's
The thin crack! was audible
even through Ebon's roar.
Demona threw Julianna. She landed
near Ebon's cage, a
broken doll. Their eyes met one last time, and then life fled from hers
while anguished tears blurred his.
"Now," Demona said.
Whuph! A coughing noise sounded
Something struck Ebon in the
back, square between the wings
and just below the base of his neck. Metal fangs bit deep, cold, so cold,
injecting icy poison into him. The coldness crawled over the inside of
"Well, it's about time," Gustav
Sevarius said. The small
monitor was grainy, but it still captured the calculating menace of his
emerald eyes. "Progress?"
"Here." Demona plugged the mediscanner
into the base of the
monitor, then ran the device over Thailog. "He's alive, barely. You
should be getting the readings on your computer now."
"Hmm. He's not showing the typical
responses. His EEG is
nearly flat, and there doesn't seem to be the expected activity in the
affected regions of his brain. On first impression, we must conclude that
the drug is not interacting properly with his brain."
"You mean, he's not going to
relive that moment for all time?"
Demona's lip curled, then she relented. "Well, he did live it once!"
"I'll be surprised if he lasts
the hour," Sevarius said. "It seems
that the systems of his brain are shutting down one by one. I'm afraid
you'll have to settle for the fast-food version of your dish served cold,
my lamb, rather than the nine-course meal you were hoping for."
"He's dying, then?" Demona kicked
Thailog in the jaw and he
didn't even blink. "Misbegotten oaf, you could have at least given me
the pleasure of dying well!"
"We're gaining some valuable
information," Sevarius consoled
her. "I'm sure that next time, we'll be able to obtain the desired results."
"Won't he be healed by next
dusk?" Jericho asked while
Demona, unconsoled and not happy about being called "my lamb"
either, stormed about and threw things.
Onscreen, Sevarius shook his
head. "Dust from a gargoyle's
stone skin was added to the metal alloy that makes up the prongs. The
device will turn to stone and back as he does. Sleep may give him some
surcease from the memory, but then again, it may not. I've not yet been
able to determine the levels of brain activity and dreams in a sleeping
gargoyle. And this is all assuming, of course, that he survives. Which
Demona ran her claws through
her hair and exhaled in disgust.
"Oh, chain him down and leave him to it. Even without Goliath here to
thwart me, I am thwarted!"
"Shall I finish him?" Jericho
"No. Let him linger here, chained,
in the company of the
dead." She rolled Julianna's body close to Thailog. "There."
"Ah, the classic error," Sevarius
remarked. "Leaving the foe
Demona switched off the monitor
and Sevarius vanished in a
jagged scrawl of static.
HEADLINES -- NOVEMBER 1998
From V.I.P. Magazine (Elaine Kristin's byline):
It's been over a month since
the bodies of three out of five
members of the megastar rock band Scarlet Angel were found dead in
and around their California home.
All three cases are being investigated
as murder, even the fatal
car crash that claimed the life of Johnny Harlowe. Police sources say
that there were "irregularities" about the crash.
Two questions are on everyone's
lips -- who could do such a
horrible thing, and what has become of the last two members, Julianna
An insider, who wishes to remain
anonymous, suggested to
this writer that the answer to both of those questions might be easy.
Damage to the car that is inconsistent with a crash but could very well
have been caused by claws, and the tremendous strength necessary to so
completely mutilate a human body (as this insider says was the case
with one of the bodies but refused to name which one), point to a
Could Ebon himself have been
responsible? Could he have
turned on the people he earlier in this very magazine referred to as his
"clan" and viciously murdered them? Has Julianna been carried off to
some gruesome fate, or might she have even been in on it?
This writer refuses to believe
such vicious accusations. But as
the weeks go by with neither of them coming forth, the only other
explanation is that they, too, are victims and their bodies remain
Manhattan's gargoyle task force
expert, Detective Matthew
Bluestone, has been working closely with local investigators. He states
a lack of belief that Ebon has committed this terrible crime, but would
not comment on the possibility of other gargoyle involvement.
This brutal tragedy has shocked
the entertainment world.
Scarlet Angel fans across the country have been holding memorial
services in the band's honor, but many times those services have been
broken up by sign-waving anti-gargoyle groups ...
From The Daily Tattler:
GARGOYLES RAMPAGE IN SOUTHERN
(artist's conception of an actual
Monsters live among us! That
is the cry of the Quarrymen,
whose dedication to the pursuit and extermination of these living
nightmares has been vindicated by the recent murders of celebrities.
"They've been doing this for
years and getting away with it
because the public doesn't believe," a spokesman for the Quarrymen
says. "Now everyone will have to admit the truth. They must be
Gargoyles -- the urban Bigfoots
-- have been in the news for
years. All that time, the Daily Tattler has faithfully printed every
encounter, sometimes to the ridicule of skeptics. It can only be hoped
that in the wake of the recent bloodbath, gargoyle sightings will be
taken more seriously.
They could be anywhere. They
could strike at any time. What
innocuous-looking stone figure might, under full moonlight, transform
into a bloodthirsty demon ...
From The Los Angeles Times:
SCARLET ANGEL INVESTIGATION
EVIDENCE OF EMBEZZLEMENT
In a startling new development,
discovered band's group, business, and even individual members'
private bank accounts have all been drained dry ...
From "Stranger in the Night" magazine:
For Sale -- complete Scarlet
Angel album collection,
autographed posters, T-shirts, much, much more. Get yours now before
the loonies (or my mom) burn them! Call Joey at (123)555-1234 ...
From The New York Times, obituary column.
Hector Gervaso, decorated veteran,
died suddenly in a work-
related accident ...
From a pamphlet distributed by Strikehammer California (West Coast
branch of the Quarrymen):
Fast track to Hell -- Scarlet
Angel, gargoyle worship, and
Satanism. Are YOUR children, YOUR friends, YOUR neighborhood,
YOUR community, in danger? What YOU can do to prevent it!
Workshop and rally November 6th, 7:00 PM ...
From "Psychobabble Today" magazine:
Angels of Death -- A Statistical
Analysis of Popular Music,
Cults, and Teen Suicide ...
NOVEMBER 1998 -- NIGHTSTONE UNLIMITED.
"So, naturally, Ms. Destine,
everyone in Accounting is deeply
concerned," the rabbity-looking man finished, blotting his nervous
palms on his handkerchief.
Dominique scowled and sifted
through the sheaf of papers he'd
brought. "There must be some mistake! These figures cannot be
"Our point exactly. But the
numbers are too ... expansive ... to
indicate a simple computational error. Even a series of errors would not
produce discrepancies of this degree."
Behind his wire-framed glasses,
his normally meek brown eyes
were uncharacteristically suspicious. Dominique saw how he was
watching her, looking for a reaction, looking for guilt, and knew what
he was thinking.
"Accounting concludes that someone's
been dipping their
fingers in the till, hmm?"
"Well, that is one possible
explanation ..." he stammered, then
firmed up. "But, if so, whoever is doing it isn't being particularly
careful. These sorts of things are usually more discreetly handled,
concealed to avoid detection for as long as ..."
"This is absurd," she said.
"There must be a mistake in the
computers." She switched on hers and drummed her fingers impatiently
while it hummed into life.
"We've never had such problems
before," the rabbity man
"No, and I've used the same
program ever since ..." her voice
failed her and she went cold, remembering just who had designed that
particular program. Who would be just the sort to leave hidden
trapdoors and codes even though she'd changed all of the passwords.
"Surely there must be --" he
She silenced him with an inhuman
snarl that left him shaking
in his chair. Her hands flew over the keyboard, calling up the desired
Instead of what she expected
to see, four words floated in the
middle of the screen.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES.
"Bastard!" she raged.
Even as she read them, the words
disappeared. Instantly, data
began scrolling past, fast as the eye coud see, snippets of directories
systems, subsystems and files.
Dominique shrieked in negation
and horror as she realized
what was happening. She slapped the power switch and the screen went
How much? she wondered frantically.
How much damage was
From the outer office, through
the half-open door, she heard
Stephanie's startled exclamation and the patter of her keyboard.
"Turn it off!" Dominique yelled,
bowling rabbity-man to the
floor as she charged from her desk.
All over Nightstone Unlimited,
technicians and engineers
fought helplessly as their computers ate themselves and went dead.
Even the giant supercomputer, called Shelob after the great she-spider
in Tolkien, fell prey to a worse beast.
Dominique Destine walked in
a daze through the building,
growing numb as the full magnitude of her ruination sank in.
The grave was marked with a
solid block of stone that ten men
couldn't have budged. Moonlight turned the granite to silver, except
where a large shadow blotted out the light.
The shadow moved, and now the
moon looked down on the
letters, carved into the stone not by hammer and chisel but by claws.
"Heaven too soon called home
this fairest angel."
From the International Journal of Neurologic Medicine, January 1999:
" ... newly patented drug mnemzetropine
has been found
singularly effective in the treatment of amnesia and also shows
promising results for coma patients ..."
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