|Author's Note: the characters of Gargoyles are the property of Disney
and are used here without their creators' knowledge or consent. All other
characters property of the author.
For reasons of rescue, a small party has hopped into a parallel dimension,
where they learn "What Might Have Been."
“Whoa,” Brooklyn said in a gust
as if a punch had driven the air out of him.
“My sentiments exactly,” Elisa
The park was the same – Central
Park, with all its trees and paths and nice concealing shadows where the
cream of society was wont to lurk at night, or at least on nights not so
rainy and miserable as this. The weather was the same too, a typical March
downpour. But the skyline of the city was drastically changed, dominated
by a structure that would have given Goliath a heartsick sinking feeling.
The Aerie Building had been expanded,
incorporating lesser skyscrapers on all sides and joined to them by slanting
extrusions that gave the whole affair a pyramidal shape. Suspended at the
apex of this modern-day monument was a shining emblem of bright blue, in
the shape of a foxhead.
“’Tis the same as …” Elektra began,
and trailed off as if she couldn’t quite manage to complete the thought.
“Yeah,” Elisa said.
Flying things buzzed and hummed
over the city. Cybots and Steel Clan robots on preordained patrol routes.
A nasty crawling sensation went busily up and down the nape of Elisa’s
“Creepy,” Brooklyn said. “Who’s
for finding a boat, pronto?”
The other three raised their hands,
and after Elisa safely stowed the crystal rod in her inside jacket pocket,
they headed for the lake. Or where the lake should be, assuming the general
geography continued to hold true.
“Interesting,” Sebastian said,
glancing up at the luminous foxhead. “Do you think --?”
“Don’t,” Elisa said. “Remember
Alex’s advice. This isn’t our world. Whatever happened here doesn’t matter
Nice words, but it became a moot
point moments later as a spate of shouts and the sounds of violence erupted
from a thicket not far from the path. “He’s getting away!” a coarse voice
roared, and the thin beam of a laser seared through the leaves. It just
missed, and in its passage illuminated, a small figure loping on all fours.
“Down!” Brooklyn said to Elektra
and Sebastian, as he and Elisa drew their own weapons. With a sidelong,
wry look at her, he added, “It matters to us now, I think.”
Several men, rough-dressed thugs
that were the same in any dimension, burst from the thicket in pursuit
of the fleeing figure. Some were laughing and enjoying the hunt, but their
leader, he of the coarse voice, was in deadly earnest.
“Oh, my God,” Elisa whispered,
catching a good glimpse as he went in and out of the spotlight of another’s
flashlight beam. “Did you see what I saw?”
“I hope not,” Brooklyn said.
He had. They all had. The man
chasing, and closing on, his prey was in his twenties, with black hair
marked by a distinct white stripe … and he had a blue foxhead tattooed
around his right eye.
The fleeing figure reached the
top of a hill and paused, panting, head swiveling in desperate search of
an escape. Lightning shuttled the sky and they saw the wings, the size.
A gargoyle, a young one. With one wing hanging injured, and broken ropes
hanging from his wrists and ankles.
“Definitely matters to us now,”
Brooklyn said grimly.
Before Elisa could stop him –
and it would have been a half-hearted attempt in any case – he was springing
to the top of a rain-slick bronze statue and launching himself into the
air. Brief pulses from his laser stabbed down, startling the pursuing thugs.
The leader reacted with a true fighter’s instinct. He dropped to one knee,
took bead on Brooklyn’s gliding silhouette, and aimed.
Elisa fired first. She couldn’t
quite bring herself to shoot to kill, winging him and knocking him hard
into the wet grass. His shot went high and wild. The rest scattered as
Brooklyn dove among them.
Elektra raced to the hatchling.
Upon seeing her, the little gargoyle’s eyes ate up his whole face and his
beak dropped approximately to the hem of his tattered basketball jersey.
“Fear not,” Elektra said, opening
her wings to show she was of his kind. “We’re friends.”
Trusting her to take care of that
end, Elisa ran to the man she’d shot. He was rolling, jaw clenched, stoic,
holding onto the wound in his shoulder with blood seeping between his fingers.
No matter how he might have looked like Tony Dracon, he sure didn’t
like him; Elisa knew that Tony would be bawling for a doctor and swearing
semi-coherent promises of payback.
He saw her coming and groped for
his laser pistol, but it had tumbled away when he went down.
“Stay right there,” Elisa said.
Habit took over. “You’re under arrest for violating the Gargoyle Rights
Act, Section 1, Sub-Section ...” She let it trail off, seeing only absolute
incomprehension. “Forget it. Hands behind you, smart guy.”
“You sure you want to do that,
sugar? You know who I am?”
Eerie deja-vu made her rock back
on her heels. She steadied herself and reminded him with a gesture just
who had the gun. “Nope. Why don’t you enlighten me?”
“I’m Joey Dracon. Joey the Fox.”
He jutted his chin arrogantly toward the pyramid. “Her son.”
Elisa didn’t know whether to laugh,
puke, or faint. She settled on none of the above and set the barrel against
“Guess what, sugar?” she
said in a deadly tone. “I don’t give a damn. Hands behind you or I’ll give
you something you need like you need a hole in the head.”
He acquiesced, and she hauled
him to his feet once he was cuffed, glad she’d put them in a pocket as
an afterthought. She shoved-dragged him toward a bench, where Sebastian
and Elektra had shepherded the young gargoyle. They were examining his
wing and conferring in low tones, while the hatchling goggled back and
forth between them.
“Right there,” Elisa said, indicating
a square of cement at the foot of a lamppost. She re-fastened the cuffs
to loop around it, holding him in place.
“You’re gonna get it,” Joey said.
“Who’s he?” Sebastian asked.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I
told you,” Elisa said, fighting down bile. “Take a look at his shoulder
and see if he’s going to bleed to death on us, would you?”
Sebastian, who knew a little bit
about everything, went to do so. Elisa moved closer to the bench and got
a good look at the young male.
He was maybe a year or two older
than the hatchlings back home, scrawny and undernourished. His skin was
a rich walnut-brown, his hair jet-black and tied into a clumsy ponytail.
His ragged jeans had cuffs torn wide to let his talons pass through – his
central toes each rose into a lethal-looking arched curve of claw – and
had a hole in the back for his tail. The jersey was slit from collar to
mid-back, letting his wings stick out. One of the little claws of his left
wing fingers was broken off short, an old scar that stone sleep could heal,
but not replace.
“Look at his face,” Elektra said
in a wondering way.
“I see it,” Elisa said.
“Do you think it’s possible …?”
Elisa looked around for Brooklyn,
saw him coming in for a landing. The hatchling froze, and his tail coiled
in a convulsive spasm as the lower half of his beak began to shimmy up
and down, the equivalent of a quivering chin.
Brooklyn landed with a thud and
blew across the barrel of his laser pistol, which was a wasted gesture
because it didn’t smoke. He thrust it into its holster and swaggered toward
Although it was pretty much what
Elisa and Elektra had been expecting – that beak was a dead giveaway –
it still brought everything to a halt.
“No way,” Joey Dracon said into
the sudden silence. “You’re dead. I killed you. You’re dead, dammit!”
“Dad … is it really you?” The
kid got up and took jerky steps toward Brooklyn. “You’re alive?”
“Hey, wait, hold on …” Brooklyn
sputtered, raising his hands helplessly.
But the hatchling, sobbing with
incredulous joy, threw himself off the bench. The astounded Brooklyn reflexively
caught him and held him as the kid mashed his face against the bronze breastplate
and broke down completely. Above that dark head and those thin, backswept
horns, Brooklyn gaped at the rest of them, as if to ask if they were thinking
what he was thinking.
“I guess you’re right,” Elisa
finally said to him. “It does matter to us now.”