Author's Note: the characters of Gargoyles are the property of Disney
and are used here without their creators' knowledge
or consent. Mature readers only, please. Happy Birthday, Jen!
A glimmer of light in the sky caught
Tora Hawke's attention. She shaded her eyes, one hand
moving casually to the wide-barrelled weapon strapped to the leg of her lounge chair. To the untrained eye,
it might have resembled a flare pistol, but Tora knew that the micro-rockets it fired could turn a 747 into a
The red-and-white aircraft was a small private plane, not a chopper. Not that it would be; the
reporters had given up shooting film of the devastated remains of Club Gung-Ho over a year ago. No one
had any further interest in what was left of the one-time commando-training four-star resort that had been
(or so the official story went) mistakenly taken for a military installation by trigger-happy terrorists.
Tora identified the plane, double-checked her computer, and nodded. She picked up a small phone
and pressed a button. "Paul? They're early."
Down on the beach, Paul Cannonner motioned for the recruits to continue their calisthenics. "I see
it. Don't care if they, so long as they brought the money."
"I'll clear them to land." She did so, and watched as the plane began its descent toward the paved
runway that went right through the middle of where the hotel/barracks had once been.
Fatigue-clad men jogged out to surround the aircraft, submachine guns held at the ready but in a
fairly non-threatening manner ... as if having a submachine gun anywhere in the vicinity could be
Tora recognized the first passenger as he emerged into the tropical sunlight and scowled at the
meeting-party. Even from here, there was no mistaking that scarred face, and the shining mechanical hand
protruding from his sleeve was a dead giveaway.
"It's Halverson, all right," she relayed to Paul.
"He got his Valkyrie with him?"
"Just a sec ... yeah, there she is."
Inge Runolf glanced at the armed men with a disdain that suggested she could take them out
before they even knew what hit them, no matter their training and gear. By the set of her jaw, Tora
suspected that the blonde woman even believed it herself.
"Two steel suitcases," Tora reported. "The pilot's handing them out right now."
"This ought to be interesting. Wonder if they know who they're really working for?"
"Probably not. They're mercs. Employment record long as my arm. Their endearing and cuddly
personalities ensure that they move around alot."
"Have them sent up to the house. I'll be along in a few."
"Good as done." Tora hung up, swapped the micro-rocket launcher for a more intimate snub-nosed
automatic pistol, and met the new arrivals at the bottom of the stairs.
The house was a bunker carved from the side of a sheer cliff that overlooked Shark Bay (as it had
once been colorfully called in the brochures). Everything at the new and improved installation was designed
to be nearly invisible from above. They wouldn't be advertising, or taking paying recruits, this time.
Judge Halverson looked at her in an evaluating way that lingered more on the muscular arms and
legs showcased by her habitual ribbed tank top and shorts than on her more prominent attributes. Once he'd
assessed her threat level, he then went on to take a brief leer at the rest of her.
Tora shrugged it off. After having to deal with a literal hairball named Wolf, the ogles of normal
guys (and even guys like Halverson) didn't faze her. "Welcome to the island."
"Where's Cannonner?" Inge Runolf demanded.
"On his way. He'll meet us at the house. Where's your pilot?"
"Putting the plane to bed," Halverson said. "Acts like it's a damn baby or something."
She led them up the stairs, the armed escort flanking them just in case Halverson and Runolf
suddenly decided to commit suicide by attacking.
Paul met them just inside the thirty-inch steel doors. The two men sized each other up, then Paul
grinned, his teeth startlingly white against his nearly black skin.
"Judge, you old son of a bitch. Good to see you. How long has it been?"
"Since Cambodia," Halverson said. His metallic fingers clicked and grated as he curled them into a
"Looks like you've seen some action in the meantime."
"If you reviewed my file, you know I have."
"So sue me for trying to make small talk. You've got the goods?"
"Ten million in cash, another ten in gold bullion, courtesy of Horus International. What about your
part of the bargain?"
"Let me show you around, and you'll see for yourself." He gestured at the suitcases. "Tora?"
"I'll handle it," she said.
At her wave, two of the others picked them up and carried them down the hall. They'd go straight
to a containment room deep in the cliff, where they'd be opened under stringent security conditions to
minimize loss of life in the event that someone was playing a trick.
"This way," Paul said to their guests. "We'll start up in Ops."
The three of them walked off, and Tora heard someone approaching from behind. "Nice view in here." A
tall brunette in faded jeans slid mirrored aviator shades down her nose and winked.
"No windows." Tora replied.
"Who needs windows?"
Tora followed her gaze, which went straight to Paul. He was wearing just a pair of red and yellow
spandex bike shorts that stood out in sharp contrast to his skin, his torso stippled with beads of sweat.
"I see what you mean. You the pilot?"
"That's me. Quite a place you've got here."
"I'm Tora Hawke."
"Code name Golden," the brunette said, and made the sign.
"But my friends call me Wcky." She turned and showed Tora the back of her jacket, which read
'The Wcky One' in an arch over the profile of a dragon.
"Guess they think it fits. So, what am I supposed to do while those glorified couriers scope the
"I take it they don't know your ... qualifications."
"Pffff," she said, blowing out breath through her teeth. "Those two? They're not even cleared to
know their own qualifications. But they might get suspicious if I got the grand tour too. Got a pool, a bar,
someplace I can kick back?"
Tora laughed. "Sure, why not? Come on."
An hour later, they were poolside and into their third margarita apiece.
The pool was a natural grotto beneath the overhang of part of the cliff, which had been so well-
hidden by hanging vines that even Tora and Paul, who had gone over the island with a fine-toothed comb,
had missed it. If not for the mayhem a few years back, the resultant fires never would have seared away the
vines and revealed this little slice of paradise. The pool was fifteen feet at its deepest, clear as a bell, and fed
by an underground aquifer.
A little work had been needed to turn the ledge around it into a terrace suitable for holding tables
and chairs. It was a cool and welcome haven from the sun-blistered beach or the humid jungle.
"But, you see," Wcky sighed, licking crushed salt from the rim of her glass, "there's a wife and kids
in the picture, so he's behaving himself."
Tora groaned in sympathy.
"Besides, I may be too wild for him." She purred huskily. "Grrrowr! Or I might leave marks!"
"You might ... you seem the type."
"But I wouldn't leave them where they'd show!"
"Okay, so give ... what's the wildest thing you've ever done?"
Wcky grinned. "You wouldn't believe me."
"Even if it's a lie, I bet it's a good story."
"It's no lie. I have proof. Pictures."
"Yeah? Of what?"
"Fess up. What'd you do?"
"I've been dying to tell someone ... okay, here, look at this." She unzipped an inner jacket pocket
and slid a square across the table. A Polaroid photograph.
Tora picked it up, looked, gasped, stared incredulously at Wcky, looked again, and sat there with
her mouth hanging open.
"He's a gargoyle."
"I know. His name's Jericho."
"You know him?"
"Sure, he's been here! He was here when Club Gung-Ho went to that big boot camp in the sky! But
..." she goggled at the photo again, " ... he was dressed ..."
"He's dressed! See, his loincloth's right there. It's just ... bunched up."
"Oh. Yeah. I didn't notice."
"No wonder, with everything else there is to look at."
"He's ... he's ..."
"Hung like a bull moose?" Wcky supplied helpfully.
"At least! Where'd you get this?"
"Took it myself."
"Oh, yes. That shed's at my airport. He got a whiff of some chemical that knocked him out, and we
had to hide him. Only place was the shed, which the pilots use to take breaks. Charming place, as you can
tell by the decor. Hustler, Penthouse, only the best for my employees. Anyway, they dumped him off
there to let the stuff work through his system."
"Uh-huh." Tora had only barely listened to the explanation, her eyes drawn back to the photo.
"God, he's built."
"Oh, I know!" Wcky exclaimed rapturously.
"I mean, Paul's got a bod on him that could stop a truck, but these gargoyles almost make him look
"Especially when they're like this." She handed Tora another Polaroid.
"I said to myself, self, that can't get any bigger."
"Way wrong. I don't know what was going through his mind, but the minute I touched it ... so,
Tora, what would you do if you saw something like that?"
She swigged deep of margarita and got a killer slurpee-burn. Coughing, she spent several seconds
working up enough saliva to swallow and thaw her frostbitten throat. "Either run for my life or jump on
board and ride him like a pogo stick until he begged for mercy."
Wcky slapped her on the shoulder good-naturedly. "Guess which I did?"
"Oh, no. No, you're putting me on!"
"Told you you wouldn't believe me."
"You ... you did? You really did?"
Wcky nodded slowly. "Except he didn't beg for mercy. Poor guy didn't wake up the whole time."
"You mean you just ... took him? While he was out cold?"
"Yeah ..." she smiled, her dark eyes taking on a faraway look as she remembered. "I just went in to
see him up close. Real live gargoyle and all. Sure, I'd seen them on the news, seen that one on MTV -- I met
him, too, by the way -- but this was the first one I'd seen in the flesh. Gorgeous. That chest, those legs,
those arms ... then I saw that he was rolling his head a little, like he was dreaming. And then I got the idea he
was dreaming something fun, because there was ... stirring going on."
"So you took a look?"
"Hell yeah! Then I took a picture!"
"And then you ... touched him?"
"His skin's so soft. You wouldn't know it by looking at him. Like it should be all coarse. But it's
soft, like suede." She tossed her head and ran her tongue along the lower edge of her teeth. "Of course,
that's the only part of him that is soft!"
"And he didn't wake up," Tora marveled.
"If he'd seemed like he was going to, I might have chickened out. And I almost did anyway, I mean,
he's so huge."
"They say size doesn't matter."
"Uh-huh, sure, the little ones say that."
"But there's such a thing as being too big!"
"That's what I wanted to find out. So, when he didn't wake up, I locked the door. Took off my
Tora gaped at her.
"I could barely get my mouth around him," Wcky said, shaking her head in fond amazement. "And
some people tell me I've got a big mouth, though they might mean it differently. But I tried, and oh, the
sounds he made! Sort of a rumbling growl, and his tail was slithering all over the floor like a big snake." She
had to stop and run the cool margarita glass over her forehead. "His tail ..."
"What about it?" Tora asked in fascination.
"He curled it around me, that soft suede tail wrapping all around me, over my tits, between my legs,
and then ... I still don't know exactly what he did, but I have never gone off that fast or that hard. I
thought my brain was going to melt and leak out my ears!"
"With his tail?"
"With his tail, so help me God."
"Are you sure he wasn't awake?"
"Not one hundred percent, but he didn't open his eyes, and the only time he said anything, it was
garbled. Like a foreign language. Does 'a neekie sondry' mean anything to you?"
Tora shook her head.
"Though," Wcky went on thoughtfully, "He did call me a bitch at one point."
"Well, after that tail trick, I was ready to see what the rest of him could do. So I got onto the cot,
but that's when the damned old second thoughts crept in. Did I really want to do this? With a gargoyle?
And even if I wanted to, could I? From where I was, it looked like he'd go all the way to my collarbones."
"But then I asked myself how often I'd have a chance like that. There was once, a guy I really
wanted, and I could have gone to his room ... why didn't I go to his room? He would have let me in, let me
stay." She bit her full lower lip wistfully. "Where was I? Oh, yes. Making up my mind. I didn't want to regret
it for the rest of my life. So I got a bottle of baby oil; one of the pilots kept it in the desk, said his hands got
chapped in the winter, a likely story since that was the drawer he also kept his stroke-books in. The first
squirt dribbled all over his chest, just running down the muscles and making them shine. Then I slicked him
all up, and by now he was writhing. Really writhing. I'm glad I had the foresight to tie his wrists with a cable,
just in case."
"God, a gargoyle all tied down and oily!" Tora smacked herself lightly across the face.
"Hell of an image, isn't it? I climbed back on, and was trying to figure out the best way to do it, ease
down nice and slow, you know, to make sure I didn't hurt myself. But then that tail, he just whipped it
around my waist and pulled me down, all the way in, right to the base, and I was sure this was it, I was going
to die, I could just imagine the coroner's report. But as much as it hurt, it also felt good, better than good,
great! And he snarls, mutters something that sounds like it was about how he wasn't like his father, and
then he starts going to town."
"Going to town?"
Wcky patted her hand and sweetly explained, "Fucking, Tora. Holding me on with his tail and
slamming up into me ... it's a miracle the cot didn't collapse."
Tora whistled long and low.
"You said it. I came screaming like a fire alarm, and if the Emir's jet hadn't been taking off right then,
the whole airport would have heard me."
"Did he ...?"
"Oh, yeah. Like Mt. Vesuvius." Wcky polished off her margarita in a single gulp. "Roaring until I
thought the roof would cave in."
"Then what'd you do?" Tora asked.
"When I could move again, I crawled off of him and cleaned us both up and got the hell out of
there before the mad scientist that was with him came to investigate."
"And he never woke up. Not once."
"Well ... I did run into him later, and the second he saw me, he got the most horrified look I'd ever
seen and ran like a rabbit. So I think he might have remembered some of it, or I found my way into his
Tora exhaled slowly. "Wow. That is, without a doubt, the damndest tale I've ever been told."
"Yeah, I think I do."
"Then you'd understand why I want seconds."
"Who'd blame you? I've never touched him and I want seconds!"
"Then you'll help."
Wcky leaned forward conspiratorially. "Help me catch him. I want him. Can't go through official
channels; the others would want to know why."
"Wait, wait, you want me to help you abduct Jericho?"
"That's right. He's feisty, might need some persuading. I'll make it worth your while."
"How?" Tora regarded her suspiciously.
No words seemed adequate, so Tora only sat utterly dumbfounded.
"Or," Wcky went on, "if you don't like that idea, we can come up with a suitable financial
"I ..." The story whirled through her mind, making her knees weak and her insides fluttery-buttery-
"Wait!" Barked sharply in a German accent, it came out "Vate!"
Tora and Wcky both jumped, knocking over salt-crusted glasses that crashed musically to the
"Runolf," Tora said. "What are you doing here?"
"The boys went off to talk about old times." The high-cheekboned blonde bent over and planted
the heels of both hands on the table. She looked evenly at Wcky. "I'm in."
"You?" She packed an encyclopedia of surprise into that one word.
"Don't worry, I won't intrude on your fun. I'm in it for the money."
The stealth hovercraft hummed quietly
on its course through the towering Manhattan skyline. The
interior of the cockpit was lit only by the scarlet and amber glow of the instrument panel.
Wcky was in the pilot’s seat, Inge riding shotgun. Tora stood behind and between them, leaning
over their shoulders to look through the windshield.
“Nightstone building at two o’clock,” Inge reported.
“Wouldn’t it be easier to do this by day?” Tora asked.
Wcky shook her head. “He’d be solid stone, we couldn’t move him. I want him hard, but not that
“He’s not the only gargoyle living here,” Inge said. “Are you up for that kind of a fight?”
“Won’t have to be,” Wcky said complacently. “My source says Jericho goes out every night
around this time. Looking for someone. We’ll just make sure he finds someone.”
“We’re picking up something,” Tora said, pointing at one of the screens. “Gargoyle, I think, but
Inge magnified the image. “Not your boy-toy,” she told Wcky. “Female.”
“Let’s follow her,” Wcky said. “Maybe she’s who he’s looking for. A little midnight rendezvous.
Love among the TV antennas.”
They cruised slowly after the female. She couldn’t have been more than five and a half feet, and
that was counting the backswept crest rising from the top of her head. Her wings stretched between wrist
and knee like those of a flying squirrel, so that she resembled a grey kite as she glided along.
She landed on the fire escape outside of a dingy brick apartment building, tapped on the window,
and then opened it to scramble inside.
“Not much of a love nest,” Tora remarked. “I think we’re barking up the wrong tree here, ladies.”
“Maybe so,” Wcky said. “But there aren’t that many gargoyles in this city, and I’m sure if we take
our time and keep our eyes peeled, sooner or later we’ll find the one we want.”
“Sooner,” Inge said.
“Sooner. There he is.”
Jericho, nearly seven feet of beefcake on the wing, descended to a ledge on the building across the
street from the apartment and tossed his long red hair back from his brow.
Either the shadows were laying oddly across his face, or he had gotten much grimmer and more
sinister of aspect since Tora had seen him last. The gargoyle she remembered, who had called her the ‘token
chick,’ had seemed young and unsure, covering it with a thick layer of cockiness and attitude. A lot must
have happened to him since then.
“Barking up the wrong tree?” Wcky nudged Tora as Jericho stared intently at the apartment.
He sprang from the ledge and his wings snapped out, and two-thirds of the women in the
hovercraft uttered identical sighs. Inge merely snorted and switched on the targeting computer.
“Subject acquired,” she said. “Stun-net armed and ready.”
“Better get him before he wears himself out,” Tora said.
“There’s going to be one disappointed little gargoyle in Manhattan tonight,” Wcky said. “Fire.”
Just as Inge’s thumb moved to the button, Jericho veered and dove, not at the fire escape for a
neat landing, but with fists extended straight through the living-room window. Glass crashed inward,
tattered curtains billowed outward.
“Scheisse!” Inge spat.
“Directional mike,” Tora said, leaning past her to flip the switch.
From inside the apartment, they could hear startled cries, thuds and grunts of combat, and then a
female voice. “Ooh-la-la, battle of the hunks!”
Another voice, also female but higher and near panic, “Birdie, this is serious!”
Furniture splintered. Dishes smashed.
“You can’t kill me,” a man said, deep and with a shivery-delicious accent.
“The last thing I want,” Jericho answered, “is your death!”
The curtains flapped apart and together, affording Tora a quick glimpse of Jericho tusseling with a
grey-bearded man in a short terrycloth bathrobe that had come untied and flared behind him like a cape.
“If we can’t get Jericho,” Tora said, “how about him?”
“Hey!” the female who had made the comment about battle of the hunks shouted. “Big Blue!”
There followed a hissing, splattering noise and Jericho’s indignant roar. Then a solid crunch.
Tora’d heard that sound before, knew it for a direct-hit powerhouse kick.
Jericho flew tail-first out the window, taking the curtains with him rod, rings, and all. Shrouded in
the fabric, struggling like crazy, he plunged toward the street.
“Oh, goddam!” Wcky yelled. “There he goes!”
She yanked so hard on the hovercraft’s controls that the vehicle tipped onto its side. Tora clung
madly to the backs of the seats, her feet flailing.
“Seatbelts save lives,” Inge coolly said.
“Stuff it!” Tora shot back.
Jericho had fought his way free of the enveloping curtain. Curds of white glop flew from his head.
He’d just gotten his wings straightened out and was working on his bearings when Inge fired the stun-net.
The capsule popped from the underbelly of the hovercraft, expanding in mid-air to become a net of
dark red cords joined by small metal spheres. It struck him, the weights on the corners whipped around him,
and even before he could look around to see who’d attacked him, the net blazed with current.
His back arched until his head nearly met his heels. His bellow could have nearly split rocks. Then
he went limp, and swung down on the cable that led from net to hovercraft.
Wcky compensated for the sudden drag. “Reel him in, make it quick.”
Tora rushed to the lower compartment and twisted the hatch release. The winch was whirring,
pulling up the revolving bundle. When he’d cleared the interior, Tora closed the hatch and lowered him to
“Got him!” she shouted into her headset.
“Okay, we’re gone,” Wcky replied, accelerating. “How’s he doing?”
Tora unwound part of the net. “I think he’s got rabies.”
“What are you talking about?”
“This white stuff is all over him. Frothing at the mouth, the eyes, the nose.” She took a closer look.
“Wait a minute ... what the hell?”
“What have you got, Tora?” Wcky demanded.
“It’s ... whipped cream.”
“Say again? I didn’t get that, thought you said whipped cream.”
“That’s what it is. The kind that comes in a can, the spray stuff. Someone nailed him in the face
with a can of Reddi-Whip.”
Silence. She could just see Wcky and Inge sharing a disbelieving glance.
“He’s also kind of banged up,” Tora went on. “Whoever that stud in the bathrobe was, he can sure
fight. Our boy here is going to have one mother of a bruise on his chest.”
“As long as they weren’t fighting dirty,” Wcky said.
“You want I should check?” Tora offered, grinning.
“Just remember, I get to kiss it and make it better.”
“He’s out cold,” she said. “Not sure if it’s from the zap he got or from getting kicked out the
window. Either way, we don’t have to worry about him waking up just yet. A few other bumps, some
lacerations to the knuckles -- that’s from his dramatic entrance, I bet -- and one set of claw marks on the
forearm.” She spread her fingers to match. “From someone with little tiny hands, our grey kite-girl is my
guess. Wonder what that was all about?”
“Who cares?” Wcky came back. “We got what we wanted. Okay, so it wasn’t exactly smooth, and
when Bathrobe, Ms. Reddi-Whip, and Kite-Girl ran to the window to see what happened, they probably
spotted us. But I don’t think they’ll bust their buns to report it to the police, do you?”
“Yeah, guess not,” Tora said. “What now? Tag him and release him into the wild?”
“Depends on how you define ‘tag,’” Wcky said. “Right now, I’m plotting a course that’ll take us
into a holding pattern over the Atlantic. I’ll put it on autopilot, and then the fun begins.”
Tora found bottled water and a
roll of paper towels, and swabbed away the sticky residue of
whipped cream and the crusted blood on Jericho’s knuckles. He groaned thickly as the water ran down his
“He’s coming around. What do you want me to tie him up with?”
“Nothing,” Wcky said, unzipping her jacket. “I like living dangerously.”
“What should I tell your next-of-kin?”
“The Society’ll come up with something.”
“You know,” Tora said, looking down at the semi-conscious gargoyle, “this isn’t a very nice thing
“Chickening out on me?”
“Abducting and violating him, though ... maybe he’s not the nicest guy I’ve ever met, but he and
Hudson did save Paul’s and my life. He doesn’t deserve to be treated like this.”
“You haven’t been following his career,” Wcky said. “I have. Want a list of the people he’s
killed? Want to know what the other gargoyles think of him? But for all his faults, he has one very large
redeeming feature.” She snatched away Jericho’s loincloth. “Two, if you count the tail.”
“Uh ...” Tora said.
Polaroids didn’t really do him justice. And despite her objections, there was something appealingly
raw and primitive about seeing him helpless at their feet. He was their captive. They could do whatever they
wanted with him. A magnificent male beast at their disposal.
“Ours to possess, control, own,” Wcky said huskily. “Men have been doing it to women for
thousands of years. It’s our turn.”
Jericho’s eyes fluttered open. He peered groggily at Tora, frowned as if trying to identify her. Then
he saw the knowingly smiling Wcky, and it was as if they’d dumped a bucket of ice over him.
“You!” He scrambled backward on hands and heels, thumping into the wall.
“Well, hello there,” she replied. “Miss me?”
“What do you want?”
“Nothing you haven’t given me before.” She trailed one hand from her neck down the line of
buttons on her blouse, then hooked her thumb into her waistband and rocked her hip to the side.
Jericho paled to the shade of a winter’s sky. He bared his fangs. “No.”
Wcky picked up his loincloth and dangled it idly from one finger. “No?”
“Never.” He looked at Tora again, this time with recognition in his eyes. “Tora Hawke. You’re in on
She nodded slightly, pained, knowing that now was when he’d appeal to her for help, remind her
that they’d been on the same side once. Then she’d have to decide whether she should just sit it out or try
more strenuously to stop Wcky --
“Vile human bitch,” Jericho said to her. “Hudson should have let Wolf have you!”
Tora jerked as if slapped. “Bastard!”
“Told you so,” Wcky said. “But he’ll make it up to you.”
“Not a chance,” he stated flatly.
“It’s not like you’ve never been with a human.” Wcky started opening her blouse. “Don’t you
“You’re starting now?” Tora said. “Here?”
“Lies! I loathe humans!”
“That’s what makes it even better. You loved it, and you hate yourself for it.”
“Nothing happened!” He crouched, eyes burning white. “It was a dream, a hallucination!”
“Nuh-unh,” she said sweetly. “You were fantastic.”
“I would sooner die!”
He leapt at Wcky. Tora was too far away to intervene, had left her weapons in the cockpit just in
case, damn it, why hadn’t she insisted on tying him up?
Wcky stood her ground, and just as he was about to seize her in his claws and shred her to
lunchmeat, she whipped up a small cylinder and sprayed him in the face.
He spun instantly away from her, hands clamped over his eyes, and dropped heavily to his knees.
“Pepper spray?” Tora asked.
“No, something I tossed together myself. A concentrated version of the same hallucinogenic that
messed him up before, mixed with a gargoyle aphrodisiac.”
Jericho crumpled to the floor, chest heaving in ragged gasps. His claws flexed against the floor in
chalkboard screeches. His wings drew in tight against his back, the tip of his tail quivered.
“Are you sure you didn’t kill him?”
He rose shakily to all fours, hair hanging in his face. When Wcky said his name, he slowly turned
his head. His savage expression utterly convinced Tora that she wanted nothing more to do with this
lunatic adventure. All she wanted was a gun. A big one. Right away.
“Jae’elae,” he rasped.
What? Tora mouthed.
Wcky ignored her. “What do you see, Jericho?”
He rose to his full height. “Where are the bonds now, Golden One? Where is the altar?”
“Golden One? Why did you call me that?” Wcky demanded.
“Isn’t it what your subjects call you? Where are your huntresses, your warriors? Just one guard ...
trusting of you. Or foolish of you. Do you think you can tame me so easily?”
“Just give me what I want, Jericho, and you’re free to go.”
“I know what you want,” he growled. “Amazon slut, I know what you like.”
“This is nuts,” Tora said. “He’s going to kill you.”
Wcky deliberately looked down, over his chest and taut stomach, to the rampant and rigid length
jutting from his loins. “He won’t hurt me.”
“Hateful human,” he said, jaw clenched and a pulse beating in his temple. “Leave me alone!”
“You don’t want to be alone, Jericho. You want to be with me.” She leisurely, artfully, stripped until
she was bare as the day she’d been born, and stood proudly before him. “Don’t you?”
Blood dripped from fists curled so tight that his claws gouged holes in his palms. “No,” he choked,
backing away until he was against the wall.
“Don’t you?” she persisted, and stepped closer. One hand was behind her head, the other
poised on her hip. Her full lips pushed a pouty kiss at him.
“Leave me alone,” he said again, this time nearly pleading. “I can’t ... I can’t ...”
“Yes, you can,” she said. “Go ahead, Jericho. Remember how it was before? Remember how it felt
to be inside me? You weren’t shy then. You coiled that tail of yours around my waist and just yanked me
He made a strangled, agonized sound.
“Oh, and look what I brought!” She half-turned, bent over, and began rummaging through her
strewn clothes. Shifting her weight from one foot to the other, making her bottom sway. Jericho bit his lip so
hard a thread of blood ran to his chin.
Tora bit her own lip, not quite as hard. She really didn’t want to be here, really couldn’t tear herself
away. Seeing him there, a gorgeous contrast of readiness and reluctance, brought a fevered flush to her
cheeks and made perspiration sheen her forehead.
Wcky stood straight again and held out a plastic bottle. “See? I brought oil. Watch.”
She tipped the bottle over her chest and moved it back and forth. A stream flowed into the valley
of her cleavage, trickled in waterfalls from the tips of her breasts, coursed down her belly, beaded in her
silken nest of dark curls.
Jericho trembled all over, every muscle jittering beneath his skin. “I ... won’t ... do ... this,” he
managed to say, in between harsh gasps.
She took one more step. He was out of room to retreat.
Her arm slowly extended. Oil poured from the bottle she held, drizzling over his stiffness. Her other
hand reached, paused just before her fingers would have encircled the slick shaft. She looked up at him
through sultry lashes.
“I think you’re ready,” she breathed.
He roared and grabbed her, whirling and slamming her against the wall. “Is this what you want?”
“Yes!” she snarled back, snaking her legs around his waist.
“And this?” He shoved hard, impaling her in one brutal thrust.
“God, yes!” she screamed.
Their oil-coated bodies rubbed and worked against each other, slippery, hot, glistening, writhing. The
more fiercely he went at her, the more she bucked her hips back at him, exhorting him to even greater efforts.
Wcky’s head was pounding the wall. She didn’t seem to care, didn’t even seem to notice, one hand
clutching a fistful of his hair, the other raking across his shoulder and back.
Tora couldn’t tear her eyes away from him. The way his thighs and calves flexed, the way his ass
tensed with each stroke.
His tail, what was he doing with his tail?
It snuck around between their bodies and his wing blocked her view, but suddenly Wcky was
shrieking and howling.
And it didn’t stop, sweet Jesus, didn’t stop, he kept going, kept doing whatever he was doing,
Suddenly it was as if Tora could read his mind, not coherent thoughts but descent into an animal
frenzy of lust and fury.
Oh, she wanted it and now she was going to get it, going to get more than she’d bargained for, all
she wanted and two extra.
Or was he killing her? Tora couldn’t tell, was she coming or going or both? Couldn’t stand there
and let him kill her friend, even if the woman was two tacos shy a combination platter!
So as Wcky’s flailings abruptly ceased and she was rag-doll boneless, Tora found herself racing
over there, and leap-kick, got him in the side, just under the ribcage.
She meant to follow up with a kick to the head but her foot skidded in oil and down she went,
breath knocked out of her.
Jericho moved away from the wall and Wcky slithered to the floor, still breathing but out cold, out
cold with the world’s biggest smile on her face.
And now he was looking at her.
Tora’s eyes nearly bugged from their sockets. She crab-scuttled away from him, shaking her head.
“Oh, no. No, no. Not me.”
“Your queen seems to have had all she can handle,” he said, stroking himself. “I’ve had a lot of
practice satisfying demanding females.”
“I’m not demanding anything,” Tora said, hating herself for the melty little thrill that ran through
She groped for a weapon, something, anything, came up with the cylinder of chemical gas. Dumb
idea. All he needed was more aphrodisiac! Still, maybe the initial dose would mess him up as it had
before, give her a chance to escape.
He seized her. She pushed the button.
Cold mist doused her face. Her alarmed gasp sucked it deep into her lungs and her vision
Blind, dizzy, she rotated the cylinder to try again. Didn’t matter. He swatted it from her hand. She
couldn’t see, couldn’t do anything. Head swimming, drowning.
Tora was nearly garrotted when he pulled off her tank top. When her bra proved a problem, he
snapped the straps and flung it aside. Off went the shorts and thong, and then he was all over her, greedy
and totally out of control.
He threw her to her back and fell atop her, his massive thighs parting her own, her legs splayed
achingly wide, feet waving helplessly in the air.
An explosion shattered the world. In that first white-silent instant, Tora was sure he’d killed her,
torn her apart as he entered her, ruptured something, dead immediately. Then the shockwave hit her and
tumbled her like a dry leaf.
It blasted everything from her mind but the survival instinct. When she could see and hear again,
she found herself hunched beside Wcky, naked and dazed but alive.
Jericho was flat on his back in the center of the compartment, smoke rising from his body. Inge
stood over him, shaking her head, a concussion rifle cradled in her arms.
“Disgusting,” she said.
“Did you kill him?” Tora panted.
"Don't be a fool. He wouldn't be worth any ransom if I did."
"Ransom? What are you talking about? Wcky never said anything about holding him for ransom."
The concussion rifle swiveled in Tora's direction, but Inge's tone remained casual. "Wcky has
fucked herself into oblivion. Now it's my turn to get what I want."
"She already paid you."
"Can never have too much money."
Another explosion rocked the hovercraft, canting it drastically to the side. Inge stumbled. "What in
the hell was that?"
"We've been hit!" Tora cried. "That was a missile if I've ever heard one."
"We're fifty miles out to sea! Who's shooting at us?" Inge spun and ran for the cockpit. Tora was
right on her heels.
At first, all they saw was dark ocean, nothing threatening. Then something streaked across the
hovercraft's nose, leaving a phosphorescent trail.
"A Hornet!" Tora identified it. "Remote powered jet, not even on the market yet, packed with all the
"Who makes it?" Inge sprang into the pilot's seat.
"Can't you guess?" Tora said dryly, "Nightstone Unlimited."
"My instruments show ten of them."
"I can take them down."
"Maybe, but you're forgetting something. They're remotes. Controlled from a larger ship, the
Hive. Shoot one down, they'll launch three more to take its place."
The Hornets surrounded them, pacing the hovercraft with mechanical effortlessness. Now the Hive
came into view, a sleek black vehicle bristling with weaponry. It hung there as if preening, allowing them to
"Then we go for the queen bee," Inge said, and opened up on the Hive with everything the
hovercraft had to offer.
Lasers and missiles turned the sky into a fireworks extravaganza. Tora quickly realized that the only
thing keeping them alive was the fact that their foe didn't want them scrap and cinders. Yet.
Inge, whose jaw was locked in iron-hard determination, didn't seem to see the light.
"Give it up!" Tora yelled. "Surrender already!"
Before Inge could reply, a Hornet scored a direct hit and the intstrument panel blew up in her face.
Tora was hurled to the floor by the blast, which saved her from the deadly hail of whickering glass and
Crippled, the hovercraft went into a nosedive straight toward the indigo blue below. Tora fought
back to the cockpit, where Inge was slumped in her seat with shards of glass in her hair, bloodied and
scorched and all but unrecognizeable.
Going down.If she survived the impact, immersion in the icy water would finish her off -- Christ!
and she was still naked! -- finish her off very quickly.
She dumped Inge out of the chair and tried to regain control, to no avail. All her best attempt did
was send them into a sickening spin, and make fresh flames leap from the ruined instrument panel. Tora
flung up her arms to cover her face and backed away from it.
There was a heavy, metallic thunk from somewhere behind her. Then she hovercraft's plunge
began to slow.
Magnet, she thought. Magnet on a tow cable.
The ruined vehicle settled almost gently into the ocean. Tora pushed fallen wall panels out of her
way as she struggled to reach the rear compartment.
The bumpy ride hadn't woken Wcky or Jericho, just thrown them together in a graceless tangle of
nudity. Tora saw Inge's discarded concussion rifle but passed it by, settling instead for grabbing up her
clothes and getting into them quick as she could. Well, part of them ... the tank top and panties had
survived but everything else was a total loss.
The roof hatch squealed open and a harsh spotlight beamed down, pinning Tora like a rabbit in the
path of an oncoming car. She shielded her eyes and peered into the hot glare.
A gargoyle dropped into the compartment, eyes burning red, a laser cannon at the ready. A smaller
one, grey with a crest and flying-squirrel wings, followed after.
Tora raised her hands to show she was unarmed, but the lethal-visaged female only glanced her
way before staring at the unconscious pair in the corner.
"Oh, gosh," the little grey one said. "Demona --?"
"Uh ... nothing." She shrank back, eyes enormous.
Demona stalked over to Wcky, pried one taloned foot under her, and flipped her off of Jericho.
Tora wouldn't have thought it possible for her scowl to get any deeper, but when she saw what he wasn't
wearing, saw the gleam of oil and sex in the spotlight, it did. Oh, did it ever!
"Oh, gosh!" the grey one said again, and covered her face in maidenly horror.
The kick did what the crash couldn't. Wcky groaned and sat up, blinking blearily around. Then she
saw the intruder, and got a scowl of her own.
Demona seemed to be searching for the words to express her fury, but was coming up empty. Her
mouth worked soundlessly, her body shook, her baleful gaze painted everyone with blood-light.
Tora was suddenly very homesick for the island. She even would have gone gladly back to the
very day the bomb went off, rather than be here right now.
Wcky raised her chin defiantly at Demona and took hold of Jericho's wrist. "Finders keepers."
"Get your stinking human hand off of him!" She said it without once unclenching her teeth, and
still managed impressive volume. She grabbed his other wrist.
Jericho started to revive as Wcky and Demona pulled him back and forth, the living rope in their
jealous and vindictive tug-of-war. Dazed and semiconscious, he didn't seem to be aware of where he was or
what was happening, or hear the increasingly vile invectives the two combatants spat at each other, in
between grade-school exchanges of:
The tug-of-war ended when Wcky punched Demona in the eye. Now the rumble was on in earnest.
They both let go of Jericho (he, not ready for the sudden loss of support, toppled forward and fell on his
face) and pounced on each other.
Rolling, roaring, brawling, gouging, biting, hair-pulling, claws and fingernails raking, biting,
screaming, swearing ... Tora just got the hell out of the way.
Jericho found his way to his knees and Tora had no idea what he beheld, whether he was still
under the influence of the drug or not, but he was utterly stunned.
And to top things off, the hovercraft tilted and water came rushing through a breach in the outer
The little grey female, blushing purple and trying desperately not to look at any of the masculinity
on display, crept up and tapped Jericho on the shoulder.
He turned swiftly and she flinched. "Who are you?!?"
"Um ... I am Aiden ... the small, and meek ... come on, we've got to get out of here!"
"But Demona ..."
"Go!" Demona growled, trying to get her hands around Wcky's throat. "I'll follow!"
"No, you don't!" Wcky pressed the heel of her hand under Demona's chin and began forcing her
head backward. "I caught him fair and square!"
The pummelling began anew, a gush of seawater poured in, and Tora decided that Aiden the small
and meek had the right idea. Time to go.
She struggled upstream back to the cockpit, where the ocean was forcing its way through the
smashed windshield like manic shoppers at the biggest sale of the year.
Inge's pulse was shallow but steady. Not off to Valhalla yet. Would have been easier if she had,
but since she was still alive, Tora couldn't leave her to drown.
Lifeboat, lifeboat, where was the damn lifeboat? Aha!
Several hair-raising minutes after that, she was paddling for all she was worth away, Inge in the
bottom of the boat bleeding on orange rubber.
From a prudent distance, out from under the stationary circle of Hornets and the bulking shadow of
the Hive, she watched anxiously as the hovercraft went down.
"Demona!" Jericho bellowed in the most terrible anguish Tora had ever heard.
As if in answer, a drenched scarlet head broke the surface and a blue arm reached up in
supplication. Jericho swooped, caught, and lifted Demona from the waves, then swept her into a panicked
"Oh, shit," Tora murmured, scanning the sea. "Come on, come on!"
The gargoyles retreated to the safety of the Hive and it screamed away, taking the Hornets with it,
leaving her in darkness. She found a flashlight in the emergency supplies box and played the beam across
Until a hand splashed up right next to her.
Tora yelled, almost went in headfirst, and dropped the flashlight. It sank, spinning, casting a
revolving and diminishing ray of brightness into the depths.
Wcky surfaced, gasping and coughing, fans of water spraying from her hair. She hooked her arms
over the side and hauled herself partway aboard, breathing raggedly.
"Omigod, you're alive!" Tora pulled her in, yanked off the blanket she'd so considerately draped
over Inge, and threw it around Wcky's shoulders. "Are you all right?"
"Got to get you to shore before you freeze!"
"Sure, that'd be nice." Wcky huddled around her knees and massaged her varied and extensive list
of aches and pains.
Tora started paddling again. "Wcky?"
"What are we going to tell the Coast Guard?"
"Sorority hazing ritual."
"We're ... a little old for it."
"They're going to pick up one naked woman and one nearly naked woman," Wcky pointed out. "Think
they'll really stop to ask questions?"
"Yeah, okay ..."
Wcky curled slowly into a ball beside Inge, stealing some of the blonde's warmth. "What a night. What
a goddam night."
"So tell me ..."
"Was it worth it?"
"Hell yeah. Do it again in a second."
Tora laughed and shook her head. "You're the craziest damn woman I have ever met."