|Standard Disclaimer: All the Gargoyles characters are property of Disney.
They own all the rights to the characters and the show, and I am just borrowing
them for a bit to write what I hope is an interesting story. Only Cyberhawk
is mine. This is the first time that I have ever written, and is also the
longest single work of fiction I've ever managed to produce, so this is
new to me on a bunch of levels. I had fun writing it, and I hope that you
enjoy it as well. The reasons for posting this up are to get one of my
stories out, and more importantly to get feedback. ANY feedback would be
hugely appreciated, as I need it to help improve my writing. Email me at
with positive, negative, or just plain comments if you want to. This story
is set between "The Price" and "Avalon, Part 1" during the second season.
Last point, though it is probably unnecessary; Cyberhawk is a character
in the process of being created and already has a futre planned out, at
least to a point. His primary developement is nowhere near finished, so
please don't use him in any stories. Thank you.
David Xanatos had found that of late
he had come to hate sunset.
The young billionaire sat in his office
at the top of the Aerie building, his chair turned away from his desk,
allowing him to cast his gaze through the large window at the back of the
room. The last rose-red light of the day still lit the sky, but the sun
itself was already hidden behind the towering cityscape of New York, and
would soon pass below the horizon itself. And with that final passage,
the gargoyles would awaken.
It was not that he bore them any real
animosity; in fact, he was forced to admit that he had a certain, strange
fondness for them. They had their uses, truth be told. They served his
ends quite often, despite the fact that they had managed to escape his
custody. He was even in debt to them in certain ways; without their intervention,
he would have lost Fox through his own machinations, a thought that still
had the power to send a chill through him. Even when the Gargoyles' actions
interfered with his plans, the damage they did was never enough to severely
hinder him, and he could hardly fault them for taking action against someone
who had so often worked towards their detriment. People would fight their
enemies; it was pointless to hate them for doing so. It was not hatred
or anger that he felt towards them, but rather annoyance, a sense of frustration
that dug deeply into him.
He lacked control.
He had always sought control, and since
the arrival of the ancient coin in the mail so many years ago, he had possessed
the power to gain it. Every obstacle fell before him; he had risen with
ease through the business world, his intelligence allowing him to out-think
and out-maneuver those around him. Soon he had become one of the richest
men in the country, and his prestige and influence had opened door after
door for him. Those doors that did not open for him he opened on his own
through whatever means necessary. But the gargoyles had changed that.
They had been his doing, truthfully.
Without him, they would still be nothing more than decorations on a crumbling
Scottish castle. He had brought them back into the world on his terms.
He had dictated the early course of their new lives, acting as the only
one in this new world that knew them and would help them. At least that
was how he had planned it. None of them were stupid, but none possessed
an intelligence to match his own. By all rights, he should have had no
trouble dealing with them. However, they surprised him at every turn, out-thought
him, maneuvered around him. Even their assistance with Fox had in the end
been voluntary; his own manipulations had fallen flat. They saw through
his plans, and defeated the ones that managed to work. Again and again,
they broke through where he had expected them to fall. His constant failure
to control them was beginning to grate on him.
Xanatos sighed to himself as he swung
this chair around to face his desk again. His fingers dashed across the
keyboard as he called up some of the more recent reports that he had requested.
While most activities were handled by Owen or another of a faceless sea
of underlings, Xanatos made it a point to try a keep a general idea of
what was going on in the company. Keep his fingers on the pulse, so to
He was interrupted from his studies
a short time later by a sharp knock on the office door, followed almost
immediately by Owen's stiff figure.
"Excuse me, sir, I don't mean to interrupt,
but something rather interesting has arisen."
"No bother. I wasn't really doing anything
important. What's happened?"
"A man arrived in the lobby several
minutes ago requesting to see you. Normally security would have simply
turned him away, but he was quite insistent. He demanded that they contact
you. The guard at the front desk put in a call to me and I spoke with the
man. He refused to leave a name, but he supplied the name of one of our
outside projects and claimed to have brought information concerning it."
"Did he now. Which project?"
"The Cyberhawk project, sir, under Dr.
Xanatos nodded in recollection. "Ah,
yes, I remember him, the cyberneticist. I had almost given up hope on him
ever completing the project. Did the man give you any other information?"
"I am afraid he refused to tell me more
before he could talk with you."
"I suppose I'd better meet this mysterious
messenger of his, then. Where is he?"
"I had him brought up to the castle.
He is waiting for you in the Great Hall."
"Well, let's not keep him waiting."
Walking around the desk, Xanatos walked out the door with Owen falling
into step beside him. As they walked down the halls, he spoke up again.
"I can't help but wonder what has taken the good doctor so long to bring
us any news of his project. I would have expected him to have already completed
it by now; the Pack's cybernetic enhancements took only a fraction of this
time. I can only hope that the finished product warrants both the time
"I do not doubt that it will, sir. I
has researched many of Dr. Centaro's past works; he deserves his reputation
as the best in the field."
A few moments later, the stepped through
a final door and into the Great Hall and Xanatos finally got to see the
He was Caucasian and fairly young, not
looking a year over twenty-four. He stood tall, several inches over six
feet, and had a head of slightly unruly dark brown hair. His right arm
was outstretched as he ran his hand down one of the many hanging tapestries.
He wore black leather gloves and a long, dark-gray trench coat. Though
the coat obscured much of his figure, he seemed to have a solid build.
He seemed to hear their approach and turned to meet them with a smile.
Xanatos found himself having to suppress
a small shudder. The man's smile held all the warmth of a glacier and his
gaze seemed to almost bore into him with analytical intensity. The man
stepped away from the wall and walked to meet them, extending his hand
"It is good to finally meet you, Mr.
Xanatos," he said as he took Xanatos' hand in a firm handshake. "I have
heard so much about you from Dr. Centaro. You were most generous in your
dealings with him."
"Gladly so," replied Xanatos, slightly
surprised. Despite the man's cold expression, he seemed ready to conduct
himself with all courtesy. "I must say, though, that I don't understand
why exactly you are here. Dr. Centaro has never so much as called with
a progress report. Why now has he actually sent someone to report to us?"
"I regret to inform you that dear Dr.
Centaro has passed away. I'm afraid that his health has been in a downward
spiral since his son was killed by those creatures."
Xanatos felt a sinking feeling in his
chest, caused not so much by sadness at the doctor's passing as from the
realization that he might just has blown millions on a project that would
never be finished. "That is indeed regrettable. But even that you could
have told us over the phone. You didn't happen to bring the project to
New York with you? Having whatever has been completed would help me to
recoup some of the loss."
"Oh, fear not, Mr. Xanatos," the man
replied, a hint of humor creeping into his voice. "The project was completed
before the doctor's death, he made sure of that. I have come to deliver
"How kind of you. If you would just
tell us where it is, we can take whoever it is off your hands immediately."
"That will hardly be necessary. That
'whoever' is already here," he said as his cold smile slid into an equally
cold grin, his amusement now fully evident.
It took Xanatos only a fraction of a
second to catch his meaning. "You?"
"You sound surprised."
"I am given the time and money that
went into this project, I was expecting something a little more, well,
impressive," Xanatos replied, waving his hand at the man's all-too-human
The man chuckled. "Don't worry Mr. Xanatos,
I am much more than what I seem. In fact, my ability to blend in is one
of my most effective weapons."
"Well then, I hope you can live up to
your claims. Do you have a name?"
The man's smile wavered for a second,
twitching at the edges, before his face regained its amused expression.
"Cyberhawk will suffice."
Xanatos frowned slightly. Something
about the man seemed off, but he could not quite place his finger on what
it was. "Very well. So, Cyberhawk, when exactly can you begin your work?"
"I intend to start right away."
"Excellent. You will be coordinating
mainly with Owen, but …"
Cyberhawk raised his hand to stop him.
"I'm afraid that I, like the doctor, will be working independently on this
one, at least for now. If my current plans fall through, I will have to
come back to you for help, but otherwise, I will act alone. My visit here
was merely to tell you that the project was complete and to inform you
of my intentions."
Xanatos frowned again, letting some
of the annoyance and anger that he felt show on his face. "I must say,
after pouring so much capital into this project, I expected to be a little
more in the loop than this. Dealing with the gargoyles is a rather high
priority for me, and if this project ... you … cannot deliver on your promises,
all that I have invested in your creation can be written off as a complete
loss. I may be a rich man, but I did not acquire my fortune by allowing
my money to be wasted."
Cyberhawk chuckled, obviously amused
by Xanatos' annoyance, causing another wave of anger to rise within the
billionaire. "I'm afraid that I must remain adamant on this point, Mr.
Xanatos. Given my skills and method of operation, I can only be completely
effective if I am allowed free reign. Not my fault; its part of the design
that the good doctor used. And though I really have not made any real promises
so far, I can say with certainty that you will be pleased with the results
of this particular project."
This time it was Xanatos' turn to smile.
"You sound fairly confident of your success."
His accusation was met with yet another
chuckle as Cyberhawk drew his amused smile back into a wicked grin that
sent a shiver up Xanatos' spine. "I assure you, my confidence is not unfounded.
Give me one week, and I guarantee that the entirety of the Manhattan clan
will be under your control once more."
"Well, Owen, what do you think of our
latest … acquisition?" asked Xanatos as the two men re-entered his office,
Cyberhawk having already gone his own way, back out into the city.
Xanatos' ever-proper assistant took
a moment to collect his thoughts as he adjusted his glasses on his nose.
"I must say that my feeling are mixed, sir. The man himself left me with
a rather negative impression, pertaining to both his character and his
sanity. On the other hand, he had a certain air about him that leads me
to believe that he might be ideal for dealing with the gargoyles."
"I must say that I agree with you, on
both counts," replied Xanatos as he settled into his chair, turning once
again to face out over the city. "There are very few people who make me
feel genuinely uncomfortable, but our Cyberhawk already does. But as you
said, he might be what we need." He sighed and leaned backwards into the
padding. "I can't say I like being so far from the actual planning, but
perhaps this is a time where one has to give up some control to gain more
"One can only hope so, sir," responded
Owen, as the last traces of red disappeared from the evening sky.
Elisa Maza took a short step back, hastily
trying to avoid the stone shards that bounced off her red leather jacket.
She remonstrated herself in her mind; she had been through this little
ritual enough times to know to not get too close. The evening air was filled
with the sounds of guttural roars and cracking stone as the Manhattan clan
of gargoyles awoke around her. She had said it once and it still rang true;
she would never
get tired of seeing that.
Nearest to her Goliath turned towards
her, shaking his wings to free the last traces of stone skin before settling
them into a cape over his shoulders. Upon seeing her standing there, his
mouth turned upward into a warm smile as he stepped down onto the clocktower's
balcony. "Elisa, it is good to see you again. It has been several days
since you greeted us as we awoke. Is something wrong?"
She returned his smile with one just
as warm as she replied. "No, I just had some free time. It's been a slow
shift so far. Sorry I haven't been up recently, but Matt and I have just
finishing up a serious case. I would've stopped by before sunrise yesterday,
but I was caught by paperwork until past nine. Tonight's been a welcome
change of pace." She looked down the line of gargoyles in front of her
and raised her
eyebrow questioningly. "Where's Broadway? Didn't he make it back last
Lexington relaxed from a back-arching
stretch and turned to her. "Nah, but that's not really a surprise. There
was an all-night marathon of old detective movies at a theater across town.
He told us he'd probably just find a place to sleep over. He didn't want
to miss a single minute."
Elisa frowned. "Is that really safe?"
Lex shrugged. "He's done it before.
Anyway, Xanatos is the only one looking for us, and I doubt he'd think
to look on the roof of an old movie theater. Broadway'll be fine."
Brooklyn was shaking his head as he
stepped down from his perch, a look of mock confusion on his face. "I really
don't know what he sees in those things; they're all the same." He grinned
at Elisa. "It's really your fault," he joked. "If you hadn't been a detective,
he probably wouldn't have gotten stuck on them."
She cocked an eyebrow at the red gargoyle,
returning his grin. "He could do worse."
"You need not worry, Elisa," said Goliath.
"We appreciate you just as you are."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence,
To her left Hudson grunted as he settled
himself onto the balcony floor. "Aye, just ignore the young ones, lass.
They do not yet have the wisdom of age that we adults do." The aged warrior
turned to Lexington and Brooklyn. "If ye see Broadway while ye're out on
patrol, remind the lad that he is on duty as well tonight. Now ye'd better
be off; the night nay be getting any younger."
Brooklyn let out an exasperated sigh
as he stepped back up onto the balustrade, earning him a stern glare from
Hudson. "No rest for the weary I suppose."
Lexington stepped up with him, grinning
impishly. "Guess not. This protecting business is serious work, after all,"
he said, winking at Elisa. "We'll catch you guys later." With that, the
small green gargoyle leapt, spreading his arms and legs to open his webbed
wings, followed closely by Brooklyn.
Hudson shook his head as he watched
the two young warriors disappear around a building. "Sometimes I cannae
believe I was ever that young." Turning, he reached down to pet the head
of Bronx who had come up beside his and pressed eagerly up into the hand
on his head. "If ye will excuse me, there's a program coming on that I've
been meaning to watch." With that, he retreated thorough the face
of the clock to the living
Elisa turned back to Goliath. "You staying
"Yes. The past few nights have been
busy for us as well, and I was looking forward to a quiet night to relax
in the library."
"Would you mind a little company? I
don't have to meet up with Matt again for a while, and there really isn't
much for me to be doing right now."
He smiled down on her again. "As always,
Elisa, your company would be most welcome."
Broadway's awakening roar turned quickly
into a deep yawn as the last of his stone skin fell from his body. Smiling
broadly, he hopped down from his perch onto the roof of the old movie theater.
Squatting down, he reached under the eve to pick up the trenchcoat and
fedora hat that he hidden there the previous evening. He was always careful
not to wear them when he went to sleep; he'd torn one trenchcoat badly
up, and had been forced to abandon a hat that had fallen down into
a sidewalk full of people. He knew that he really didn't have to bring
the outfit with him, since no one would actually see him there, but it
always made him feel more comfortable at the theater, more in tune with
the shows. Brooklyn and even Lex had chided him more than once about both
the outfit and his little obsession, but they just didn't understand. They
couldn't grasp the little nuances that were in each movie. It was a
pity, though; he would have liked to have someone to watch them with.
He'd tucked the outfit under his arm
and was about to jump off the roof when he heard the metal door at the
top of the stairwell rattle. Normally, this would have made him depart
immediately, but there was certain frantic quality to the noise, as if
the person was desperate to get the door open as quickly as possible. To
add to that, the person on the other side was cursing at the sticky handle
with a passion. Broadway took several steps toward the door before it exploded
open, a young man dashing through in a dead run, his eyes so intent on
the stairwell he'd just departed that he collided with Broadway going full
tilt. The blue gargoyle wasn't shaken at all, but the man rebounded hard,
falling backwards with another curse.
Broadway's arm flashed out, grabbing
the man by the front of his heavy jacket, catching him before he fell on
his back. He drew him up and set him back solidly on his feet. The man
shook his head to clear it, and then took a look at whom he'd run into.
His eyes shot open as wide as they would go as another strangled curse
rose from his throat. His arms pinwheeled as he tried to step backwards
and tripped over his own feet, forcing Broadway to catch him again.
"Y-y-you're one a' those gargoyle!"
Broadway felt like sighing out loud,
but he kept it in. It was the same old thing, every time. At least this
guy wasn't calling him a monster. Yet. "Don't worry, I'm not gonna
hurt you. Whatcha you running from?"
Something clicked in the man's eyes,
an older fear taking precedence over the new one. He swung his body around
and pointed back down the stairs. "There's some psycho down in the theater
with a gun! He's swinging it around, yelling about how he's gonna kill
somebody! He's got the front doors barricaded up, but I thought that I
might be able to jump across to another roof, get some help, ya know."
Broadway felt that the man's flight
was probably fueled more by self-preservation than heroics, but he couldn't
blame him, and right now it did not really matter. His face turned grim
and his eyes filled with iron resolve as he moved around the man to get
to the stairs. Ever since the time when he accidentally shot Elisa, Broadway
had possessed a distinct hatred for guns, and for those that used them
he had no mercy. "Go get help if you can. Try and call the cops if you
find a phone. I'm going to go see what I can do to help downstairs." Setting
his shoulders, he started down.
He'd only gotten down one stair when
he felt a sharp penetrating sensation in the back of his neck. Reaching
up, he felt the small welt now there. With a quizzical expression, he turned
to look back through the door and was able to make out the small injection
gun in the man's hand and the icy grin on his face before cold darkness
rolled forward to envelope his mind.
Goliath's worried frown grew deeper with
each passing minute. Hints of red were already visible along the horizon,
and there was still no sign of Broadway. Tension appeared to roll off him,
and it seemed to Elisa that he was ready to leap from his perch despite
the approaching sunrise. Shaking his head, he let a growl of frustration
issue from his throat. "Where could he be? One day away I can understand,
but two…and without
telling us where he would be…. He knows better than this. Something
Hudson sighed in agreement. "Aye, lad,
this bodes ill indeed."
Goliath turned to address Brooklyn and
Lex. "You are certain you do not know what could have happened?"
Brooklyn shrugged, a look of worried guilt on his face. "We did
a fly-by of the theater but we didn't see him on the roof. We figured he'd
just gone out on patrol already."
"There weren't any signs of a struggle
that we noticed," chimed in Lex. "We could stop by again tomorrow night,
take another look around."
"I do not like waiting that long." Goliath
turned again to face Elisa. "Elisa, could you look during the day, to see
if you can find any clues as to where he might be?"
"You have to ask?" she replied, moving
her hand as if to wave his worries away. "I'll hook up with Matt and head
on down to the theater, see if anyone saw anything."
"My thanks, Elisa. You are a true friend."
He turned back to watch the horizon as the sun finally rose. The first
rays cast themselves across the face of the clock and with a with a sound
like crinkling ice Goliath turned to stone, a worried expression set on
his now frozen face.
Elisa gave a worried sigh of her own
as she walked through the door and down the steps to the gargoyles home.
As much as she hated to admit it, Goliath was right. Broadway could be
absent-minded at times, but he knew better than stay out without checking
in first, especially after having already spent one day away from the clocktower.
Though she hoped that nothing was wrong, she knew it was probably wishful
Listening at the door, she made sure
that she couldn't hear anyone talking or walking around before she pushed
up the stairs and stepped out into the hall. She didn't want people wondering
what was so interesting about an old clocktower, and in a building full
of detectives, even the smallest thing might get people asking questions.
She'd learned her lesson with Matt, and though
he had turned out to be a good friend to the gargoyles, the more people
that knew they lived here the greater the chance that Xanatos might hear
about it. Speaking of Matt, she'd have to hurry if she was going to catch
him before his shift ended. Even if he wasn't able to come along to search
for Broadway, he'd want to know what was going on. He got along with Broadway
than any of the others in the clan, Broadway's love of detection meshing
well with Matt's paranoid view of the world. Matt had even given Broadway
his old trenchcoat to replace the one that had been shredded during the
Silver Falcon case.
Noise enveloped Elisa as she entered
the station's main squad room. Shouting voices and the rustling of papers
filled the air as the night shift prepared to depart for home and the morning
shift came to take their place. Elisa wove her way speedily through the
crowd, acknowledging the various greetings and goodbyes from her colleagues.
She reached her desk quickly and just in time to see Matt donning his coat
and hat across the aisle.
"Hey, Matt, you got a second?"
"Sure, partner. What's up?"
"Nothing good." She proceeded to fill
Matt in on the details of what was going on, watching his face turn grim.
"I was going to head out and take a look around, check to see if anyone
near the theater saw or heard anything last night that might give us a
clue as to what might have happened to Broadway. Do you want come along?"
Matt nodded. "I'm not doing anything
too important today, at least nothing that I can't put off. And anyway,
if we're going up against something that can take down a gargoyle, you'll
need someone to watch your back."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence."
She waved off his apologetic look quickly. "Don't worry, I understand,
and what's more, I agree. It'll be good to have some backup. Glad to have
you along partner. C'mon, I'm driving."
It took them almost half and hour to
get across town in the morning traffic, but they finally arrived at the
theater. Elisa looked it over as she got out of the car. It was an older
building, only a couple of stories high, but the paint on the walls was
new and it looked as if the owners worked hard to keep the place in shape.
An old-fashioned marquee stood unlit above the main door, proclaiming the
showing of various classic films. The sign for the detective movie marathon
had already been taken down. She scanned the part of the rooftop that she
could see for Broadway, but he was nowhere to be seen. She walked through
the alleyways beside the building, checking the sides and back of the building,
but found nothing. She came back to the street and joined Matt by the main
"Any sign of him?" asked her partner.
She shook her head. "None. Is there
any chance that we can get inside?"
"Probably not. The doors are all locked,
and it doesn't look like anyone's in right now; the place doesn't open
until the afternoon. And even if we could, we couldn't get to the upper
floor or roof without questions being asked that we couldn't really answer."
Elisa gave a sigh of resignation. "All
right then. If we don't find anything today, I'll ask they guys to check
it out up there. Let's ask around the neighborhood and see if anyone noticed
anything out of the ordinary last night. Who knows, something might turn
The noises of the city rose to Brooklyn's
ears muffled by the wind rushing around him. Catching a draft of warm air
rising from between two buildings, he gained a little altitude and changed
his course a bit, angling in the direction of the old theater. The gnawing
sensation in his gut that had started at sunset was still there. He'd desperately
hoped that Elisa and Matt would have been able to find Broadway during
the day, and
that the situation would simply have turned out to be some big mistake.
The fact that they hadn't even found a clue as to his possible location,
or to what might have happened to him, made him extremely worried. To make
matters worse, he couldn't help but feel somewhat guilty for not taking
things more seriously earlier. As second in command of the clan, he couldn't
help but feel that he should have been able to do something to
prevent what was going on. Now it had come down to a simple scouring
of the city in hopes that they could find some sign of their friend before
dawn came again.
Elisa was on duty again, but she and Matt
had split up and were doing their best to cover ground in their cars, checking
the scanner for additional information. Hudson and Bronx were staying at
the clocktower in the increasingly unlikely event that Broadway found his
way home on his own. Goliath was out on alone, keeping in contact with
the radio transmitter. Brooklyn glanced to the side where Lex was flying
beside him; the two of them were supposed to check out the rooftop of the
theater for any clues they could find, then report in on their own transmitters
and split up in order to cover a greater area.
He wished that he had more hope for the venture,
but the chances that would find anything useful seemed slim to him. Whatever
had happened to Broadway, it had happened quickly and quietly enough that
even the combined minds of Elisa and Matt had been unable to find even
the slightest clue after a day of searching. He felt in his gut that this
was one of those times where the clan would end up reacting more to situations
than dictating them, being swept along with whatever plans people had for
them. While they had always survived such times before, Brooklyn couldn't
help but hate the feeling that everything was out of his control.
"You okay, Brooklyn?"
Lex's question shook Brooklyn out of his reverie.
"Yah, I was just thinking. What's up?"
"We're almost there," replied the green gargoyle,
pointing down to one of the buildings below. Brooklyn could just barely
make out the glow of the marquee on the front. "Should we tell the others?"
"Nah, let's see if we can find anything first.
The last thing they need is a pointless chatter." Flexing his wings, Brooklyn
set himself into a slow, spiraling dive towards the roof of the theater,
Lexington close behind him. They came in to land over the neighboring buildings
so that the people on the street wouldn't see them, touching down on the
left side of the roof near raised doorway that led to the floors below.
took a quick look around the roof, and then stepped around the raised
doorway to check behind it. He gave a depressed sigh. "Elisa was right,
he's not up here. We should head out, start checking the rest of the city."
The smaller gargoyle gave him a stern look.
"We can't just leave without looking around a bit. We have to see if there
are any clues here that might tell us what might have happened to Broadway.
This is pretty much the only place Elisa and Matt couldn't get to during
their search, so it might be our best chance to get a handle on things."
Brooklyn nodded. "You're right. Okay, I'll
search the upper floors for anything I can find. You go over the roof with
a fine tooth comb, and then join me downstairs. Clue-finding more your
thing, so make sure you come down before we leave." He had turned and had
his hand on the doorknob when something caught his attention out of the
corner of his eye. He turned his head and pointed at an object near the
forward eve of the building. "Hey Lex, is that what I think it is?"
The small gargoyle's gaze turned to follow
Brooklyn's and his eyes went wide when he saw what the red gargoyle was
pointing at. "That's Broadway's hat!" Going down on all fours, Lex began
bounding towards the beaten-up fedora. "There's no way that he--"
Lexington's sentence was cut short as his
words turned into a howl of pain as he was suddenly wreathed in electrical
sparks. The blue light danced across his skin as his backed arched and
his head shot back, his eyes and mouth wide open. Then, just as quickly
as it had started, the electrocution apparently stopped, and Lex went limp,
collapsing down to the roof.
Shaking off the astonishment he felt, Brooklyn
took a quick step towards his fallen rookery brother, but pulled up short.
All around the hat on the roof was a mesh of incredibly fine wire, about
ten feet square. It had been hidden before in the gravel that covered the
roof, but Lex's spasms had shaken it loose from its cover. Lex had set
it off somehow when he had stepped on it, but the charge had apparently
spent itself. Brooklyn
hurried over and knelt beside Lexington's still form reaching down
to check for a pulse.
"There's really no need for that. I can guarantee
you that he's still alive. I'm supposed to collect you all first."
Brooklyn spun at the sound of the new voice,
rising quickly and easily into a fighting stance, his talons extended and
wings extended, the white glow of his eyes giving his snarling face a truly
monstrous cast, ready to spring into action.
The figure before him seemed entirely unimpressed.
He was a normal looking human, draped in a long gray coat, and stood directly
in front of the door to the stairwell, which now stood completely open.
He gave a smile at Brooklyn's appearance, one that was decidedly not normal
and sent a chill down Brooklyn's spine. "I must say, luck really been with
me so far. Spotting the fat one up here when he slept, and now two of you
where I expected only one. This is turning out to be far easier than
I originally expected it to be."
"Don't act so smug, buddy. Just getting me
here doesn't mean you've won. You might have gotten Broadway and Lexington,
but you don't have the element of surprise anymore, and I won't go down
The man just smiled again. "Of course not."
He spread his arms out to the sides, gloved hands open with empty palms
facing upwards. "But just to help you out anyway, I'll let you make the
first move. Unless you're afraid too, of course."
Brooklyn hesitated, and the man's smile widened
with a self-satisfied chuckle.
With an enraged snarl, Brooklyn dug his talons
in to the roof and sprang forward, wings pulled in and arms extended, his
claws reaching for his enemy. The expression on the man's face never changed,
but at the last second he to dodged to the side, sliding effortlessly out
of the way, and bringing his right hand forward towards the oncoming gargoyle.
Seeing that he was going to miss his prey,
Brooklyn tried to dig in his talon and turn towards the man again. He found
purchase on the roof, but instead of stopping, he found himself thrown
against the doorframe of the stairwell. The impact drove the air from his
lungs in a single gush as he slumped into a heap on the roof. He tried
to right himself by grabbing the doorframe as he gasped for breath, but
his limbs felt like lead and would barely respond. As his head tilted down,
he saw a dart of some sort sticking out from his chest. He couldn't even
remember having felt it hit him. With considerable effort, Brooklyn brought
his head up, his eyes sliding across the roof to find his adversary.
The man was still standing off the side where
he had dodged to. He was shaking his head as he returned what looked like
a small dart gun to a wrist holster inside the sleeve of his coat. "Really,
after all that bluster I expected a bit of a better showing from you."
He looked down at the struggling gargoyle and smiled. "Don't bother trying
to fight it, its quite useless. Not as strong a dose as what I used on
your fat friend, but one
must make concessions for range."
The man's only response was another enigmatic
grin as me stepped forward and drove his fist into Brooklyn's face.
Hudson was leaning of the stone railing
of the clocktower, watching the night sky, when the transmitter around
his neck chirped again and Elisa's voice came out.
"You there, Hudson?"
Reaching down, Hudson brought the microphone
to his mouth. "Aye, I'm here, lass."
There was a pause and a burst of static
before Elisa responded. "I guess it's too much to hope that you've heard
Hudson sighed. "Sorry lass, I havnae
heard a word from anyone since the last time ye called me. I hate tae say
it, but I don't think the boys will be callin' in at all."
"It's looking that way, isn't it. Damn
it, we shouldn't have split up like this, we're too vulnerable in small
groups. Half of you guys are gone and we don't even know what it is that
we're up against."
"I agree, but what are we ta do about
"Regroup. Matt's tied up with a robbery
across town, but I'll give Goliath a call and we'll meet you back there
at the clocktower. Maybe together we'll have a chance to fight back against
whoever it is that's picking us off one by one."
"Goliath is nae gonna like that. The
lad won't want to call off the search while part of the clan is still missing."
"I'll talk him into it; he's got to
see the logic in this. We're too weak right now, and somebody's taking
advantage of that. If we don't pull together now, there might not be anyone
left to find the others."
Hudson sighed and shook his head. "I'm
nae arguin' with ye, lass. I don't like it any more than Goliath will,
but ye speak sense. I'll wait here for the two of ye."
"Thanks Hudson. I'll try to get there
as quickly as I can. Talk to you in a bit."
A click signaled the end of the connection.
Hudson took one more dubious look at the small contraption before dropping
it to hang from its band again. Talking machines; the things around him
still couldn't fail to amaze him. So many new things, so many differences
"Such a wondrous world, but to tell
ye the truth, boy, I think I think I preferred the castle of old," the
old gargoyle said, addressing the garg-
beast that lay on the balcony beside him. Bronx brought his head up
from where it had rested on his forepaws and gave a little whine. "Things
were so much… simpler. We had the castle, and we defended the castle no
matter what. That was all we needed to know. Yuir friends were the ones
in the castle with ye, and the enemies were the ones beyond the wall, trying
ta get in." Hudson looked out over the noisesome metropolis around him.
"Aye, back then we had a sanctuary, boy. Back then we at least knew who
the enemy was. This would nae have happened then." He sighed as he leaned
forward on the railing again.
Bronx let out another whine, but suddenly
cut it short. His webbed ears pricked up, and his head spun towards the
doorway back into the clocktower, his face hard and alert. Hudson pushed
back off the railing and followed the beast's gaze. "What is it, boy? Is
Elisa back already?"
Bronx leapt up, his feet splayed, hackles
up and teeth bared. His eyes took on a fierce white glow as he lowered
his head and a menacing growl rose up through his throat.
"Okay then, not Elisa," muttered Hudson
to himself. There was a faint whisper of metal on leather as he drew his
sword out from his belt, bringing it forward into a ready position. He
had taken one cautious step forward when Bronx let out loud bark of challenge
and sprung ahead, disappearing through the door in the clock-face. "Damn
it, boy, stop! Don't…!" He stopped short as Bronx's barks were joined by
the whine of a charging laser. The glass face of the clock was suddenly
lit from within by a red flash, which cut off as instantly as it appeared,
but was accompanied by the squeal of a laser shot and a yelp of pain from
Bronx. A second later came the distressing sound of flesh impacting with
stone, and then silence.
Cursing under his breath, Hudson went
through the doorway in a dead run, coming to a quick stop at the top of
the staircase, his lone eye searching the scene in front of him. The lights
in the tower were all off, leaving only the moonlight filtering through
the clock face to illuminate the gargoyles' home, cloaking most of the
room in shadow.
Bronx lay unmoving against the side wall,
the puckered black wound of a laser strike evident on his chest. The ladder
leading to the police station below was lowered, but Hudson could see no
one still near. Realizing that he was leaving himself vulnerable to the
unseen attacker, Hudson took a quick leap forward and left, dropping towards
the floor beside the stone staircase.
No sooner had he stepped off the platform
than another shot went off and a crimson beam of energy passed through
the space he had occupied a moment before, puncturing the glass of the
clock face behind him. In the momentary illumination of the laser beam
he could make out the silhouette of a man in some kind of long coat standing
in the far right corner of room, his left arm extended upwards towards
the old gargoyle.
Before he could see more, though, he landed
on the floor, the stone stairway now blocking the line of sight between
him and the attacker. Leaning back against the stairs, he paused to catch
his breath, keeping close watch on the back of the room for any sign of
movement. Taking a beat to go over the situation in his mind, he found
his hopes sinking. He was alone and outgunned, facing off against an opponent
who had already proven himself capable of taking down even multiple gargoyles,
if Brooklyn and Lexington's fate was indeed what he feared it to be. Bronx
was down, at the very least unconscious, possibly worse. All in all, he
was left with very little in the way of options to work with. Muttering
another curse under his breath, he reached down and turned the transmitter
"Elisa? Are ye there lass?"
There was a pause that seemed to last
a lifetime before Elisa's voice came back in response. "I'm here, Hudson."
"Where are ye now?"
The detective's voice turned worried.
"Hudson, I can barely hear you. What's going on, why are you whispering?"
"I dinnae have the time to talk right
now, lass. Where are ye? Where's Goliath?"
"I'm in my car right now, stuck in traffic.
I'm probably about ten, fifteen minutes from the station. Goliath's still
across town; there was one last place he wanted to check before meeting
up with us. Are you okay, what's going on over there?"
Hudson let out another curse, his hopes
for reinforcements dashed. Neither of them would be able to arrive before
the battle ended, and he doubted it would end well. He brought he transmitter
up again. "Someone's here; I think it be the same one that took out the
lads. Bronx is already down, and I dinnae bet much on my own chances. Dinnae
bother coming here, ye'd be too late. Call Goliath, meet with him somewhere
else. Maybe the two of ye can…"
"Chatting with friends in the middle
of a fight? I'd think someone of your experience would know better."
Hudson spun as the figure stepped around
the base of the stairs. It was a human male, tall, dressed in a long coat,
with a pistol of some sort in his right hand, which he held at arm's length,
pointed at the old gargoyle. Cursing his inattentiveness, Hudson sprang
forward just as the man pulled the trigger, bringing his sword in a broad
sweep at his opponent's torso. He felt a sharp sensation in the center
of his chest but finished the
sweep. The tip of the sword sliced through the leather of the coat,
but failed to connect with flesh as the man dodged backwards and to the
side, a look of annoyance on his face.
The two opponents stepped back from one another,
preparing for the next attack. Hudson glanced down at his chest to find
a dart of some sort stick out from the dead center of his chest. His thick
leather tunic had managed to keep the missile from penetrating too deeply,
but he could be his muscles begin to relax and his limbs become heavy as
tiny black dots began to appear in his vision. Taking a deep breath, he
sword double-handed above his head and let loose a thundering war cry
as he charged his enemy. Instead of dodging the oncoming attack, the man
simply raised his left hand, catching the falling blade in the palm of
his hand. With his other hand, he pressed the pistol's muzzle against Hudson's
unprotected forearm and pulled the trigger again.
This time the drug hit Hudson's system
like a sledgehammer. He fell to his knees as his sword slipped from his
limp fingers and clattered to floor beside him. He fell forward like a
toppling tree, the side of his head impacting with the stone of the floor.
He tried to move but found himself struggling to even hold onto consciousness.
Black-booted feet came into his vision as the man stepped over to look
down at him.
"Don't be too hard on yourself, old
man. You gave a good showing of yourself. I can definitely say that you
gave me more trouble than any of the others so far." The feet shifted as
the man squatted and leaned over to bring his face even with Hudson's.
The old gargoyle found himself looking at a cold and cruel smile, topped
with eyes as hard as diamonds. "Just go to sleep already. You needn't worry
about your leader; I'll deal with him before the night is over." With that
the man gave a self-satisfied chuckle and Hudson finally drifted into unconsciousness.
Elisa slammed her fist against the steering
wheel and let out a long stream of swears. She'd been trying for the last
two minutes to get Hudson to respond on the transmitter, with no success.
She'd heard the other person's voice before the call had been cut off,
so the fighting had probably started immediately after, meaning it was
already over, or would be at any second. Hudson had been right; she'd never
make it in time. Traffic was at a dead standstill where she was, an accident
of some sort having blocked the street. She sat back and took a few deep
breaths, working to calm her nerves so she could think clearly. Okay, first
things first. She had to decide quickly what she was going to do next.
She was afraid that she was going to have to write Hudson off as a loss
for now. Hopefully whoever was after the clan wanted them alive, something
wouldn't surprise her. Xanatos had spared the gargoyles' lives several
times before in order to get them in his control. She would have been sure
from the start that this was another of the billionaire's schemes, but
the style was wrong. This was too calculating, too quiet; even replacing
Hudson with a statue had possessed a spark of melodrama that Xanatos couldn't
seem to avoid.
She shook her head and fought to focus
again. The identity of the culprit could wait until later. For now she
had best take Hudson's advice and warn off Goliath from going to the tower,
then meet up with him and try to formulate some new plan of action. He
wouldn't like abandoning his former mentor at the tower, but if he went
charging like he usually did he'd end up sharing Hudson's fate. Switching
to Goliath's frequency, she picked up the microphone again.
"Goliath, you there?"
Goliath's voice came back almost immediately,
accompanied by a background of wind that meant he was already in the air.
"I am here, Elisa. Is something wrong?"
"Yeah, big time. I just had another
call from Hudson. Someone managed to find the clocktower and ambushed him
and Bronx. Bronx was already out of the fight by the time Hudson called,
and he didn't sound too confident about his own chances."
"Then we must get there immediately!"
"No, Goliath, we need to fall back,
meet up somewhere and come up with some sort of plan. We can't just..."
"I will not simply abandon a member
of my clan to the enemy, Elisa."
"This was Hudson's call, big guy. You'd
never get there in time to help him, and you'd be useless to him or the
others if you get taken out as well."
"You assume that they are still alive."
"I'm optimistic. Call it cop instinct,
but this feels more like a capture operation than assassination. You'll
have a chance to get them back, but not if you play into the hands of whoever
it is who's after you guys."
An aggravated growl rumbled from the
speaker. "Very well, I will heed your advice for now. Where shall we meet?"
"Go to the rooftop of 53rd and Vine.
It'll take me a little while to get there in this traffic, but I should
be there when you arrive. Got it?"
"Yes. I will come as quickly as I can."
The connection went off with a click and Elisa
put the microphone down, returning her attention to traffic. It took her
five minutes to fight her way out of the jam onto a side street, and another
ten to get over to the building. Pulling her car over to the curb, she
got out, locked the doors, and headed to the alley in the back. She had
used this building as a meeting spot with the gargoyles before. The building
itself was rarely used, and the fire escape in the back provided her with
easy access to the roof. Leaping up and catching the bottom rung of the
ladder, Elisa hoisted herself up and began her ascent.
The rooftop was empty when she reached it,
and no one answered her calls, so she assumed that Goliath had not arrived
yet. The rooftop itself was fairly plain, with a raised section in the
middle, heating and ventilation ducts dotting the entire surface. Despite
the privacy that the building's disuse provided, she wished some of the
heating vents were still in use. The snows had all melted, but spring had
yet to arrive and the air still had a sharp bite to it. Hiking up the collar
of her jacket against the wind, she exhaled into her clenched hands to
warm them up. Rubbing her arms to try and work up some friction, she scanned
the night sky above her, hoping that Goliath showed up soon.
The only warning she had was the faint sound
of a step on the concrete behind her. Before she could react, she felt
something strike her hard on the base of her neck, setting off a fiery
blossom of pain along her spine. A hand grabbed her on the shoulder, spinning
her around, and another blow hit her in the gut, doubling her over and
driving the air from her lungs with explosive force. A solid shove to her
chest sent her toppling
over backwards. She hit the roof hard and lay on her back for a few
seconds, trying to clear her mind, drawing the frigid night air back into
her lungs. Opening her eyes, she looked up at her attacker.
Her detective's mind sprang into action, quickly
cataloging him. He was male, mid-twenties, Caucasian, had brown hair, and
was little over six feet with a solid build. The feature that grabbed her
attention the most though was the laser pistol he had leveled at her. He
smiled down at her over the barrel and inclined his head in greeting. "Good
evening. Detective Maza, is it not? So good of you to come so quickly."
"Who are you? What…"
He shook his head and brought his index finger
up to his lips to silence her. "Not now, I'm afraid that we don't have
the time for questions. You made very good time, detective, but not that
good. I believe your friend is already arriving." He took his eyes off
her as he glanced up and to the right. His smile seemed to grow and Elisa's
heart sank as the sound of the wind on leathery wings finally reached her
Goliath tried to clear his mind of worry
as he began his descent to the building below. Elisa had been right; he
did not like this at all. Abandoning a member of his clan to his fate,
no matter how little a chance he had of actually helping, seemed wrong
to him. Try as he might, the ways of this world were still foreign to him.
He had always faced his foes on the field of battle, and no matter what
trickery they had employed, he had fought openly and honestly. All this
sneaking around, retreating, and scheming was something he simply could
not get his mind around, and he doubted he ever would. Yet despite his
discomfort with it, he felt himself forced to acknowledge its necessity.
His methods from a millennium ago had more than once left him vulnerable
in this time, endangering both his own life and the lives his clan, and
that was something he found intolerable. Events were spiraling out control
around him now, and though a part of his mind screamed at him to make a
beeline for the tower and try to save Hudson or avenge his defeat, he put
his trust in Elisa's judgment and her assessment of the situation. And
even he could see the dangers of flying into could very well be a trap.
If falling back and planning his next move was what was needed to save
the lives of his clan, then he would do so.
The gravel on the rooftop crunched beneath
his feet as he landed near the edge of the roof. Folding his wings around
him like a cloak, he turned, scanning the rooftop for his friend. There
was no one around that he could see, but the raised center of the building
blocked most of the roof from his sight. It was quite possible that she
had indeed arrived before him but was simply hidden from view. Starting
around the side, he called out. "Elisa, are you here?"
"She's over here, gargoyle."
Goliath spun at the sound of the unfamiliar
voice, splaying his feet and balling his hand into fists, but he felt his
heart turn to ice at the sight he took in. Elisa stepped around the far
corner of the raised section of the roof, directed by a tall man in a long,
dark coat. He held a laser pistol in his left hand, pointed steadily at
Elisa's back. Directing the detective away from the raised section, he
stepped forward to stand beside her, his gun still pointing in her direction.
Turning to face Goliath, the man aimed smug smile at the gargoyle. "I'm
glad you could join us, Goliath. I've been looking forward to meeting you."
Ignoring the man, Goliath turned his
head worriedly to look at Elisa. "Are you all right?"
She nodded slightly. "I'm fine. I've
only been here for a minute, but Chuckles here was already waiting for
me," she replied, inclining her head to indicate the man beside her.
The man raised an eyebrow at the comment
but his smile did not waver. "Chuckles? Really, detective, a person in
your situation should show a little more respect to their captor." The
man raised his gun an inch and sighted along the top of the pistol, his
eyes hard. "And anyway, the name's Cyberhawk if you need to call me anything."
Goliath let out a growl of warning.
"Let her go. If you are the one who has been attacking my clan, then your
fight is with me."
Cyberhawk turned his head back to Goliath,
his eyes analyzing gargoyles leader for a moment before he responded. "Ms.
Maza matters nothing to me one way or the other beyond her use in obtaining
you. And to answer the implied question, yes, I am the one who has been
hunting your friends down."
"What have you done to them?"
"Oh, don't worry, they're fine, at least
for now. I only drugged them to facilitate capture and transport," he said,
patting a second pistol holstered on his belt. "The laser is just for Ms.
Maza. Its not much use to have a hostage if all you're going to threaten
them with is unconsciousness." Cyberhawk's smile grew for a moment. "I
must say, this entire operation has been much simpler than was anticipated.
I gave Xanatos an estimate of a week until completion, and even that was
with the possibility that I might have to fall back on his support in order
to succeed. But instead, you gargoyles have been very accommodating, lining
up one by one to be taken down. Really, much more was expected from you."
Goliath felt his temper rise at the
insult to his clan, but Elisa spoke up before he could respond. "So you're
another of Xanatos' goons? Where'd he manage to find you?"
Cyberhawk's face twitched in a way that
way that made Goliath shift his weight for a charge, and by the look on
Elisa's face, she found it peculiar as well. It passed in the blink of
an eye, though, and his expression returned to one of smiling confidence.
"I would hardly consider myself one of Xanatos' usual employees. In truth,
my relationship with him is merely one of convenience. It was assumed that
I might need his assistance in order to complete the mission, but as I
said, I've been able to do quite well on my own. Still," he said with a
sigh, "the parameters are set and must be followed. I have to work with
him, at least in a limited capacity, and he must be given access to the
gargoyles once they are all captured."
The odd phrasing caused Goliath's own eyebrows
to rise questioningly, but Elisa interjected once more before he had a
chance to ask the man what he meant. "If Xanatos hasn't been helping you
out so far, how have been able to find us so easily? I can understand Broadway,
Brooklyn and Lexington, but how did you find Hudson at the clocktower?
And for that matter, how did you know where I was meeting with Goliath,
let alone get here before me?"
As a response, Cyberhawk reached into his
coat pocket with his free hand and drew something out. Presenting it at
arm's length to the detective, he let it dangle free from his fingers.
Goliath heard Elisa swear under her breath before he recognized the item
as one of the transmitters that the clan used. "I pulled it off the red
one after I'd defeated him. It was child's play really to use it to tap
into your conversations." Returning the transmitter to his pocket, Cyberhawk
let out a small laugh. "I can understand the gargoyles leaving such an
obvious security hole open, but really detective, I would have expected
you to anticipate something like that. I have to admit, though, luck really
has been with me so far. From spotting the fat one on the theater on the
way to meeting Xanatos to having the transmitter fall into my possession,
things have really gone my way in the past few days."
Goliath let out a snort of disgust. "Only
a fool relies only on luck to win his battles. I wish to see how well you
do in a fair fight. Let Elisa go and face me, man to gargoyle, and we will
see who triumphs. Or perhaps," he said with a sharp-toothed grin, "you
are too afraid?"
Cyberhawk looked at Goliath with an expression of amused disbelief,
shaking his head and chuckling to himself. "You're right about luck, Goliath,
but the truth is only a fool goes into battle without some kind of plan,
or at least an ace up his sleeve." With that, he flashed the gargoyle another
smile, turned his head to the left, and shot Elisa in the chest.
She saw what he was going to do in his
eyes a nanosecond before he pulled the trigger, but there no time to react
and no way to prepare for the white hot pain that seemed to envelope her
being as the beam hit her square in the chest. She was dimly aware of being
knocked back by the force of the blast, the world blurring in front of
her eyes as the shot spun her around and she toppled down. Her body had
limp as the rooftop came up to meet her, the lancing pain in her chest
blocking out all other signals. The breath was knocked from her again as
she hit the roof hard shoulder-first, her forehead slamming into the concrete
a moment later, but the new pains were hardly noticeable to her.
She'd been shot before, a few grazing bullets on the arm or leg, but nothing
like this. She remembered almost nothing from the time Broadway had shot
her; the doctors had said later that she had fallen into unconsciousness
almost as soon as the bullet had hit. This time though she was all too
aware, and she was almost overwhelmed by the red waves that flowed across
She was dimly aware of something happening
behind her, the sound of more laser-fire and the thundering howl of Goliath's
roar fighting their way through the fog that surrounded her brain, screaming
for attention. After what seemed like an eternity, she finally drew new
air into her lungs, the strain on her chest causing the pain to flair up
anew, but she shoved it down, worry over Goliath scrambling to the front
of her mind.
Trying desperately to fight through the pain
and fog, she pushed down with her elbows, flipping herself over onto her
back. The movement made the pain nova again and her head swam, the world
swirling in front of her eyes. She squeezed her lids shut and for a moment
she thought she was going to pass out, but the disorientation passed and
the pain subsided to a level she could handle. She finally opened her eyes,
only to find that everything was already over.
Goliath lay facedown on the roof less than
ten feet away, arms stretched out before him. A laser burn had left a black
line across one of his shoulders, and for a moment her mind seized up with
fear of the worst, but the slow rising and falling of his chest showed
that he was still alive. Cyberhawk was on the far side of him, squatting
down on his haunches. He was scanning Goliath up and down with his eyes,
expression on his face. His left hand was extended palm-down over Goliath's
back, hovering several above the skin, and moved slowly down along the
Elisa shifted on her elbows, trying
desperately to rise, but her body felt like it weighed a ton, and the blossoming
pain in her chest cause to falter and fall back, letting out a grunt of
frustration. The sound seemed to catch Cyberhawk's attention though as
his head snapped up to focus his eyes on her and his hand stopped in its
tracks. His expression remained blank for a long second before the cold
smile and hard gaze returned. He drew his hand back and stood, gazing down
at Elisa. "Still conscious, are we? I must say I'm impressed. The pain
you're in right now must be truly incredible. I knew you were tough, but
still. Don't try to get up quite yet though, you'll be in shock for a while
now. Don't worry about dying; I can be surgically precise when I need to
be. Nothing important should have been hit, and the laser would have cauterized
the wound so you won't bleed to death. Give it a little time and you should
be fine, other than the pain." His smile grew a fraction. "I feel I owe
you some thanks; you played your part perfectly. Don't worry about your
friend; his vital signs are stable, but with the amount of tranquilizer
he has in his system, he won't be waking up for a while. "
Elisa's chest burned as she spoke. "Why…did
you need me?"
"Why did I need you? I didn't really,
but as I told your friend, I don't like leaving things to chance." He pushed
his sleeve up for a moment and punched a few buttons on a device on his
forearm, then let the sleeve fall back into place. "It was unlikely that
I would have been able to catch Goliath by surprise after having done so
to all of the others in the clan, and especially not with you acting as
his voice of reason. And in a straight
fight Goliath has proven himself to be a skilled enough warrior to
have caused even me some trouble, and that was unacceptable. He has been
overprotective of you in the past, and though rage has its uses in battle,
it can also cause one to act without thinking. Case in point, after all."
He grinned at her. "You should feel touched. Though I have to admit my
experience in the matter is almost nothing, I must say have never seen
someone so angry before."
Cyberhawk turned as a low whine echoed across
the rooftop and a small hover-platform, similar to the one the Macbeth
robot had used, rose over the edge of the building and set down. Squatting
down again, Cyberhawk hooked his arms under Goliath and lifted the gigantic
gargoyle with frightening ease, carrying him over to the platform and setting
loading him onto it. Elisa tried to rise again, but the shock still hadn't
worn off. She collapsed again, the pain of impact causing black spots to
appear in her vision.
Taking deep breaths of the frigid night air,
she had to watch from the rooftop as Cyberhawk stepped on to the platform
himself. He turned back and gave her a disparaging look. "You're very lucky
the parameters of my mission forbid me from killing unless absolutely necessary,
detective. I can tell you're probably going to be trouble, left alive.
Hopefully this entire affair will be finished before you have the chance
to interfere, though. As it is, I suggest you leave things as they are,
and forget about the gargoyles." Pushing a few buttons on the control panel,
Cyberhawk guided the platform up and over the side of the building, disappearing
from sight into the alleyway beyond.
It never ceased to amaze David Xanatos that
the elite ranks of the country could be so full of complete idiots. He
gave an exasperated sigh as he left the conference room and started the
walk back to his office. While his competitors' stupidity did give him
an undeniable edge in negotiations, it also meant that he was constantly
stuck for several hours in meetings with people that made his mind want
to shut down it defense of its sanity. He rubbed his eyes as he settled
down into his chair and tried desperately to forget the extremely profitable
yet extremely boring last two hours. There simply was no enjoyment in sparring
with someone so easily defeated.
He relaxed as he leaned back in his chair,
gazing out the window at the sun setting in the evening sky, and found
his mind drifting back to the gargoyles. At least there he was presented
with a constant challenge, even if it was accompanied with frustration.
He had come to realize over the past couple of days that he was distinctly
uncomfortable with simply handing the task of their capture over to Cyberhawk.
Not only did the man
himself make him nervous, but being completely out of the loop took
all of the enjoyment out of the task. He had always prided himself on being
able to handle any situation, and this felt too much like letting someone
do his work for him. Simply paying for something did not allow one to claim
responsibility for its accomplishments.
Xanatos watched the sun in silence as it sank
inch by in the sky, the bottom of the orb already blocked by some of the
taller buildings. Perhaps there was some way to change Cyberhawk's mind,
to pull back from his mission. Xanatos had just been glad to get rid of
the man at first, but as time passed, the situation bothered him more.
Cyberhawk's loyalty to Centaro's plan seemed odd, and Xanatos suspected
that the man had an agenda of his own, and that Centaro had purposely picked
a subject for his work that had a hatred of the gargoyles equal to his
own. Still, every man had a price. He just had to find it and use it to
gain some control over the cyborg.
The intercom on his desk chirped and Owen's
crisp voice issued from the speaker. "Cyberhawk is on the line, sir. He
says he wished to speak to you."
Xanatos spun his chair back around to face
the desk and frowned at the light blinking on the phone. "Well, speak of
"Nothing, Owen, just thinking out loud. Thank
you, I'll take it here." The intercom channel cut off as Xanatos reached
over and brought the handset up to his ear. "Xanatos here. Owen said you
wanted to talk to me?"
There was a pause before a voice responded.
"Ah yes, Mr. Xanatos. I am pleased to report that I have been able to complete
the mission sooner than anticipated."
Xanatos sat silent for a moment, nonplussed.
"Already? I find that hard to believe. You estimated a week, Cyberhawk.
It's been only two days."
He heard a chuckle over the line, and felt
a new twinge of anger. "Lets just say that I got lucky. Things went better
than I anticipated."
"Well, then. I trust that all of the gargoyles
are in your possession then, unharmed I hope."
"There was a pause before Cyberhawk responded.
"They are indeed all in my custody, and whatever harm they came to during
their capture should be gone by the time they wake up."
"You took them all while they were animate,
then? Not while sleeping?"
There was another pause. "Yes. The doctor
wanted me to. His anger towards the beasts was rather vehement, I'm afraid."
"Understandable, in his case. If you give
me the location where you are keeping them, I can arrange for their transport
to one of my facilities."
The pause was longer this time, the faint
sound of breathing the only thing Xanatos could hear from the earpiece.
"I'm afraid they aren't ready for transport quite yet, Mr. Xanatos. I'll
have to insist that you come down here yourself first. Transport can be
taken care of later."
Xanatos' anger spiked again, and he could
not keep all of it out of his voice. "I must say, this is very irregular,
and more than a little exasperating. I'm not in the habit of having my
employees dictate the terms of their jobs, or give me orders as they see
fit. You are capturing the gargoyles for me, Cyberhawk. Try not to forget
There was a quiet laugh on the line. "To tell
the truth, Mr. Xanatos, I am not strictly speaking an employee of yours.
My mission was given to me by Dr. Centaro, and I cannot deviate from the
parameters he set for that mission."
"Your loyalty to a dead man is touching."
He sat back down and thought for a moment. "Very well, if that's the way
things have to go, so be it. If you tell me where you are holding the gargoyles,
I'll come down and meet you. But once the gargoyles are in my custody,
our association is terminated. I want nothing more to do with you when
this is over."
"I expected nothing less from you, Mr. Xanatos.
I'm not worried though; right now the mission is all that matters to me."
"Of course." After copying down the address
that Cyberhawk gave him, he set the phone back on the cradle and removed
his jacket. He had folded it and was laying it on the back of the chair
when Owen entered and approached the desk.
"Are you really going to accede to his requests?"
"You listened in on the call?"
Xanatos gave a chuckle of his own as he sat
back down. "I don't like to argue with madmen, Owen, it's bad for my blood
pressure. I could tell of friend wasn't going to take no for an answer."
"You are sure of his insanity, then?"
Xanatos frowned. "There is something wrong
with the man, Owen. You yourself acknowledged as much when we first met
him. That combined with his actions since leave me with little doubt in
the matter. And as to your first question, you should know me better than
to think I would concede the point so easily." Reaching down, he opened
one of the bottom drawers of the desk and drew out a medium-sized laser
pistol and shoulder holster. He stood again as he pulled the straps over
his shoulders and secured the gun under his arm. Turning, he picked up
the jacket from the back of the chair and put it back on, concealing the
weapon from sight. "I don't like being manipulated, Owen, especially by
someone that is supposed to be in my control. I can't help but feel that
Cyberhawk is using me as a convenience in this matter, and I don't feel
like letting that continue." He straightened his lapels and stepped around
the desk, starting for the door, a grim expression on his face. "I want
you to make a few calls before we head down to meet Cyberhawk. Have a hovercraft
prepped with heavy restraints available inside, ready for launch if we
call it. Also, I want four of the Steel Clan robots to be switched to standby
mode, once again set to home in on us if called."
Owen cocked an eyebrow at his employer. "You
are intending to double-cross him then?"
"Just preparing for the worst. If things go
badly, we'll need a back-up plan. And given the situation, I would hardly
consider it a double-cross on my part. Make the calls, Owen. I'll be waiting
in the Great Hall when you are done."
Matt Bluestone snapped himself out of
a doze as soon as he saw Xanatos' limo pull up to the inside of the garage
checkpoint. Reaching over he nudged his partner gently in the shoulder,
bringing her awake. "Looks like Xanatos is finally heading out."
Elisa gave a curt nod but said nothing,
which worried Matt. Neither of them had gotten much sleep that day, napping
in shifts in order to keep an eye on Xanatos in hopes that he would lead
them to the gargoyles. The sun had already set, and Matt felt exhausted,
but he knew Elisa felt worse. Her face wore a strained expression and the
muscles around her eyes were tight, showing she was still in pain from
the laser wound.
Between the two of them they had done their
best to treat the wound and ease the pain, but Elisa had refused to go
to a doctor. The wound itself was nowhere near as serious as a normal gunshot
wound would have been, and worry over her friends and over the questions
that a doctor might ask had made up her mind.
"Are you sure you're up to this, partner?"
She tilted her head and gave him an
exasperated look. "Stop worrying already, I'll be fine. I promise, as soon
as this is over I'll get someone to look at it. Until then, I'm not just
going to sit back and let the guys get taken by Xanatos. Not while I can
do anything about it."
"And just what exactly do you think
you'll be able to do?"
She sighed. "I don't know. Something.
I just know that I can't give up on them."
Matt patted her on the shoulder. "Don't
worry, neither will I. We'll just have to play it by ear, then." Turning
the keys in the ignition, he eased the gas pedal down and guided the car
out into traffic as the limo passed through the checkpoint and exited the
Staying several cars back from the limo, he
followed them for over thirty blocks, doing his best to keep them in sight
while remaining undetected. While his beat-up sedan was nowhere near as
noticeable as the Fairlane, he knew that Burnett had a sharp eye for tails.
Keeping his eyes on the limo, he inclined his head towards his partner.
"Are you sure that Xanatos doesn't already have the guys stashed away up
in his castle? Leaving them out in the open like this doesn't seem his
Elisa nodded. "It isn't, but I'm sure of it.
For once I think events are out of Xanatos' control. Cyberhawk acted almost
contemptuous of Xanatos, said he was only involved in the operation as
a back up. He also said that once all of the gargoyles were captured, Xanatos
would be "allowed access" to them. That doesn't fit with the clan already
being locked up in the castle, or with Xanatos ever having exclusive control
Matt couldn't help but give an amused chortle.
"I can't imagine that has Xanatos very happy. He's never struck me as the
kind that plays well with others."
Elisa frowned in thought. "No, he isn't. And
that's all the more reason to free the guys quickly. If it comes to blows
between Cyberhawk and Xanatos, the clan is going to get stuck in the middle."
"At least if it comes to that, we know that
Xanatos wants the gargoyles alive. Might be a trade up from this Cyberhawk
character if he's as nuts as you say."
"True, but I wouldn't be so sure of Xanatos
winning that particular fight," Elisa replied, shaking her head.
Matt glanced over at her and raised an eyebrow.
"That scary, huh?"
"Matt, we're talking someone who took out
Goliath in the time it took for me to collapse on a roof! And that was
after he'd already gone through the entire rest of the clan."
"Point." He paused for a moment. "What is
it exactly that you're hoping to do here again?"
She sighed and slumped down in her chair.
"Anything we can."
"Well, whatever it is, we're going to find
out soon enough." The limo had pulled to a stop on the street ahead. Matt
eased the sedan into the nearest alley and killed the engine. The area
of the city they were in was nearly deserted and any stray cars were bound
to be noticed. Easing out of the car, he locked the door and walked to
end of the alley, studying the limo around the corner of the building.
He was joined in a second by
Elisa and they both watched as Xanatos and Burnett exited the limo
and stepped onto the curb. The two men talked for a moment and then went
through a nearby chain-link fence, crossing a wide courtyard and entering
what appeared to be an old warehouse.
Matt turned to his partner. "Want to try and
She shook her head. "No. If that is where
Cyberhawk is holding the clan, there'll be security measures all around
"Well then, it's a good thing I came prepared."
Reaching into his coat he withdrew a pair of high-power binoculars and
motioned to the fire escape behind. "Lets get to the roof and hope that
Cyberhawk forgot to board up the windows on that place."
"Ah, Mr. Xanatos, so glad that you could
make it." Cyberhawk rose from his seat on a folding chair and strode to
meet the two men as they entered. "I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but
I hope the results are to your liking."
Despite himself, Xanatos had to admit
that he was impressed. A series of electrified cages stood in a row against
the far wall, with a back-up generator attached to the end of the line.
Each cage contained a member of the gargoyle clan, right down to the garg-beast,
who had turned to watch Xanatos enter with a menacing growl. Most of the
others were seated on the floors of their respective cages, conversing
or remaining silent.
At Bronx's growl they all turned to watch
the newcomers, with the exception of Goliath, who remained seated with
his arms across his knees, his head down and his eyes closed.
"I must say, Cyberhawk, until this moment
I still held some doubt about your claims. I'm impressed. I didn't think
it was possible for one person on their own to have taken the gargoyles
"To tell the truth, capturing them was
much easier than I anticipated. I am surprised that you have had so much
trouble with them in the past," Cyberhawk replied, causing Xanatos to bristle
at the implied insult. "The leader and the old one were the only ones that
presented anything even approaching a challenge."
"You're friend's got a serious arrogance problem,
Xanatos," called out Brooklyn from his cage in the back, obviously annoyed
by Cyberhawk's statement. "The two of you must get along real well."
The only response the red gargoyle gained
from Cyberhawk was another amused chuckle, but Xanatos took the opportunity
to break off his conversation with the cyborg and walked over to Brooklyn's
cage. "By all accounts his arrogance seems justified, Brooklyn. Your clan
doesn't seem to have made much of a showing for itself in the past few
days, now has it?"
The second in command snarled and fixed
Xanatos with an angry glare. "What do you want with us, Xanatos?"
"The same thing I've always wanted.
You gargoyles have proven your usefulness many times over, and I want that
usefulness to continue, and be a bit more under my control. Just imagine
all of the things that you and your friends could do for me." Xanatos took
a step back and glanced to his left. "I can't help but notice that your
fearless leader is peculiarly quiet tonight. What's the matter, Goliath,
cat got your tongue?"
The gargoyle leader opened his eyes
and turned to face Xanatos, and the anger and hatred in his gaze almost
made Xanatos take an involuntary step back. "I will see that pay dearly
for what you have done, Xanatos. You may be sure of that. I will take your
life in vengeance."
Xanatos gave Goliath a quizzical look,
taking a deep bretah to settle his nerves. "Really, Goliath, this is unlike
you. I've done worse before than simply capture you and your clan. What
on earth warrants this kind of response?"
"Elisa is dead. Your mercenary killed
Xanatos felt the shock of the clan's
gasps echoed within his own mind, and finally saw the sorrow underlying
the anger in the lavender gargoyle's eyes. Behind him, Cyberhawk barked
out a laugh. "Is that you been so upset about? Silly beast."
Xanatos turned and fixed Cyberhawk with
an angry gaze of his own. "Then what he says is true? You killed Detective
The cyborg wore an amused expression
as he shook his head. "Oh, I admit that I shot her, but don't worry, she's
not dead. She'll be in quite a bit of pain for a while, but she'll be fine.
Goliath just wasn't in a state to notice when she started moving again."
A collective sigh of relief sounded
from behind Xanatos, accompanied by a whoop of delight from Lexington.
Xanatos let out a calmed breath of his own, and glanced back to see the
look of overjoyed surprise on Goliath face as he settled back on the floor
of the cage. "That aside, it was still ill-advised to have shot her. Blatantly
attacking a police officer, Maza in particular, can too easily garner unneeded
attention. You should have avoided any situation where it was necessary."
"I'm afraid your opinion hardly matters
to me in this case, Mr. Xanatos."
A rough laugh came from Hudson's cage.
"Trouble keeping yer lackeys in line, eh, Xanatos?"
Xanatos kept his gaze locked with Cyberhawk
and smiled sardonically. "Cyberhawk has made it quite clear that his loyalties
do not lie with me, Hudson. Allow me to make it equally clear that after
this affair is over, I want nothing more to do with him. He can go and
do as he will, as long as he does not interfere with my plans. It seems
that I'm going to have to right your creation off as a loss, Cyberhawk,"
he said, addressing the cyborg again. "Though I am thankful that you have
collected the gargoyles for me, it seems that your usefulness to me has
run out. So lets do whatever it is you want done and let me take the clan
back to the castle."
Cyberhawk's smile turned cold as he
reached to his belt and withdrew the laser pistol from its holster, moving
too fast for Xanatos to even reach for his own weapon. Holding the gun
leveled at the young billionaire, Cyberhawk studied Xanatos' face. "I think
you misunderstand what is going on, Mr. Xanatos. You are not here to negotiate
custody of the gargoyles; you are simply here to watch them die."
Matt muttered angrily under his breath
as he fiddled with the focus knob on the binoculars, trying to find a setting
that would give him a better view of the events in the warehouse. He was
kneeling on the roof of a three-story building, his elbows resting on the
raised stone edge of the rooftop. Elisa nudged him from the side. "What
can you see?" she asked, impatience lining her voice.
"The windows look like they haven't
been cleaned in years, which is probably the case. I can't see much, but
it's enough. The clan's in there all right. There's a row of cages along
one of the walls, and I think I can see the guys moving around inside them.
I can just see Xanatos and Burnett, and also some guy in a coat that I
assume is Cyberhawk. But it doesn't look like there's anyone else around."
Elisa made a frustrated sound in her
throat. "Doesn't matter, there's no way we could take all three of them.
We might be able to handle Xanatos and Owen, but throw the cyborg into
the mix and the fight's over before it begins." She sighed. "I don't suppose
you've been able to come up with any brilliant ideas?"
"Sorry, fresh out right now." He frowned
and leaned forward, adjusting the binoculars again and swore out loud.
"Something's wrong. Looks like Cyberhawk just drew on Xanatos."
"I'm just telling you what I see. Here,
look for yourself," he said, handing the binoculars to his partner. "Looks
like that falling-out you predicted is happening right now."
Elisa let out a curse of her own as
she looked into the warehouse. "This is not good." She lowered the binoculars
and sat back on the roof, drumming her fingers on the concrete. "We've
got to do something, and do it now." She stared into space for a moment,
worry evident on her face, before a sly smile played across her face. "I've
got an idea. It's nuts, but it might work." She tossed Matt the binoculars
and jumped up,
dashing back to the fire escape. "Come on, we don't have any time to
By the time Matt caught up to her at
the car she was inside on the passenger side. She had the radio out and
had already put a call through. As he sat down, he heard a voice respond
from the handset, too low for him to make out. Elisa pushed the button
on the side and spoke into the microphone. "Hey Claire, its Elisa Maza.
I need you to do me a no-questions-asked favor. Sorry to put you on the
spot, but its important and I don't have much time." There was a short
pause before an affirmative response came back. "Thanks, I'll owe you one."
Elisa took a deep breath and glanced out the window down the alley. "I'm
near the warehouse on Pratchett Street, down by the docks. I need you to
tell me where the power substation for this area is."
Xanatos kept his eyes locked on Cyberhawk's
face, doing his best to seem unworried by the weapon pointed at his chest.
"I thought I had made myself clear, Cyberhawk: the gargoyles are of little
use to me dead."
"And I thought that I had made myself
clear as well: your wants and desires really mean quite little to me. Now
be so kind as to disarm yourself, and to instruct Burnett to do so as well.
Just put the guns on the floor and kick them towards me. And don't bother
signaling for your reinforcements; I made sure to lay down a localized
jamming field." He grinned. "Like I said, I leave nothing to chance."
Xanatos reached slowly into his jacket
and drew out the pistol from its holster, watching out of the corner of
his eye as Owen did the same. Placing the weapon gently on the ground,
he straightened up and kicked the gun, sending it skittering over the uneven
floor of the warehouse to be stopped by Cyberhawk's boot, as Owen's pistol
was also a second later. Pushing the weapons to the side with his foot,
Cyberhawk returned his attention to Xanatos. "Thank you. I would have so
hated to have to hurt you. Things will go so much easier this way."
"Speak for yourself, psycho," called
out Brooklyn. "I can't really say I like the way that this conversation
Cyberhawk cocked his head to the side
and gave the red gargoyle a disparaging look. "You shouldn't. Up to now,
I was satisfied with merely taking you and your friends alive, but circumstances
have changed. I am afraid I'm going to have to kill you now."
"Circumstances have changed?" asked
Xanatos. "I don't really see how anything has changed since you set out
to capture them."
"On the contrary, much has changed.
The gargoyles have been captured, and you are here, Mr. Xanatos."
This time it was Broadway that spoke
up, clearly confused. "That's it? You finish the mission and then everything
you want is different? And why does Xanatos have to be here?"
"I find myself agreeing with Broadway,"
added Xanatos, his eyes searching Cyberhawk's face, trying desperately
to find some clue as to what the man was thinking. "I don't really see
any reason for your goals to have changed either. Surely there is some
other way we can do this. As I said, the gargoyles are quite important
to me, and as much as I hate to admit it, you have the upper hand in this
situation." He spread his hands, empty palms up. "I am hardly without resources;
there must be some deal that I can make with you for their lives. If your
wanting them dead stems from some hatred you have of them, I assure you,
there is a better was of dealing with it than killing them."
Cyberhawk raised his left hand and shook
his index finger at Xanatos. "Now, now, none of that. I told you already,
we are not here to negotiate, so I can assure you, all attempts to do so
will be futile. Moreover, I do not bear the gargoyles any real animosity
of my own. I am simply following the plan that was set down for me by Dr.
Centaro. He was quite clear in his instructions. The gargoyles were to
be captured alive and brought together, using your help wherever it was
necessary but as little as possible. Then you were to be summoned to wherever
the gargoyles were being held. Both of these conditions have been met.
Therefore the next part of the plan, the gargoyles' deaths, must be carried
"Nonsense," retorted Xanatos. "If you
bear the gargoyles no animosity, then none of this is necessary. Whatever
Centaro paid you to carry out his wishes, I can match or top. Whatever
he promised you for completing the task, I can obtain for you through other
means. Whatever loyalty you have to Centaro, it should not blind you from
the facts; he is gone, and I can promise you more than he ever could."
"That does not matter, Mr. Xanatos.
I hold no loyalty to the good doctor, but I cannot deviate from the parameters
with which he programmed me."
Xanatos was shocked into silence for
a moment at this response, and Lexington took the opportunity to voice
his own confusion. "If you're a cyborg, how can you have been programmed?
Are you actually an android like Xanatos' Coyote series?"
"I am most definitely not an android,
but I am also not a cyborg in the strictest sense of the word. I am something
a little different, an entity of Dr. Centaro's own invention, known as
a neurologically integrated artificial intelligence. I am similar to normal
A.I., such as the kind utilized in the aforementioned Coyote android, but
while my control units and parameter holders are normal mechanical devices,
they are all integrated into the host body's brain. I utilize the brain
the same way normal person would, but my own personality is overlaid on
that of the host body, allowing me to utilize the brain and body for my
own purposes. Dr. Centaro did not wish to entrust such an important task
to another human, so he created me instead."
"So instead of a human being with mechanical
enhancements as with a conventional cyborg, you are a mechanical entity
that has a human being integrated into it to enhance its functions," interrupted
Owen as he scanned Cyberhawk up and down with an analytical gaze. "Intriguing."
"It is an abomination," snarled Goliath,
his teeth bared as he stepped to the front of his cage. "It is a creation
that reduces a human being to no more than a device to be used, a puppet
to be controlled for its owner's purposes. Your master must have been a
madman to bring something like you into existence."
Cyberhawk affected an expression of
mock surprise. "I'm hurt Goliath, but really, I would expect a gargoyle
to think twice before calling anything an abomination. You of all people
should know better than to leap to judgment."
"Perhaps, but I also know evil when I see
it. Nothing that robs a person of his own mind can be anything else. But
be you man or machine, I will not stand idly while you murder my clan."
Cyberhawk let out a derisive laugh and
fixed Goliath with an almost pitying look. Turning slightly, he brought
the barrel of his pistol around to point at the gargoyle leader. "Please
dispense with the useless heroics. I have a task to carry out, and I am
afraid that despite your little pledge, you are really in no position to
"Remind me again: why am I doing this?"
asked Matt as he slid the end of the tire-iron into the lock on the chain-link
"Because my arms still hurt too much to have
enough strength to break that thing," replied Elisa, watching over his
He gave her a mock glare. "That's not what
I meant and you know it."
"Look, we don't have time to argue right
now. Just do it, I'll explain as we go. Trust me on this, Matt."
"Fine, as long as you tell me sometime."
He threw his body against the tire-iron, levering the end against the fence
post and snapping the rusty lock off of the gate. Swinging the gate open
he went onto the path that led to the power substation. Approaching the
metal door, he reached down and tried the knob. "Locked, of course."
"I've got this one, partner." Kneeling
down, Elisa reached inside her coat and brought out two thin metal tools.
Inserting them into the lock on the door, she started to move them around,
turning one while probing with the other. Matt could hear the tumblers
in the lock begin to fall into place.
"I don't want to know why you have those
things, do I?"
Elisa gave a tight smile, her focus
still on the lock. "You hang around Robbery long enough and you pick up
a few tricks. Got it," she muttered as the final tumbler clicked and the
handle of the door turned.
Elisa stood and pushed the door open, and
Matt followed her as she entered the control room for the station. Reaching
to the side, he flipped on the lights, illuminating the stark white room.
The walls were plain plaster, pitted in some spots, but otherwise bare.
At the end of the room stood the control panel for the station, and beyond
that the floor fell away and Matt could see area that held the wiring and
transformers that distributed the power to the area. Matt stepped up to
the panel and started studying the controls. Keeping his eyes on the panel,
he queried his partner again. "Okay, now that we're here, can you please
tell me what you hope to accomplish? I don't think having the lights go
out in the warehouse will give us an edge in a fight."
Elisa stood to the side of the panel, staring
into the guts of the station. "There's not much we can do to beat Cyberhawk
in a straight fight, so we're not going to try. We're going to let the
gargoyles handle him."
"Pardon me for asking, but what does cutting
the power do to allow that? They're all caged."
"Yeah, I saw the cages. They look like normal
animal cages, nowhere near strong enough to hold in a gargoyle. Which means
that Cyberhawk must have enhanced them somehow."
Matt felt like hitting himself for his stupidity
as he saw where Elisa was going with her line of reasoning. "You think
the cages are electrified."
"They have to be. Even if they were made of
titanium, those bars are way too thin to hold an angry Goliath. I figure
if we can cut the power source to the cages, the clan will be able to handle
him on their own."
Matt chuckled at the thought. "I'd like to
see him try to take them on all at once after having fought them piecemeal."
"He'll never have the chance if we don't hurry."
Elisa glanced down at her watch again, impatience and worry etching lines
in her face. Matt could tell she had to be thinking about what could be
happening back at the warehouse. "Have you figured that things out yet?"
"I think so. I think I just need to do…this,"
he declared in an unsure voice, taking hold of several switches and toggling
them down. The response was almost immediate. The whir of the transformers,
which had permeated the air since their entrance, began to slow to a low
buzz, and then cut off completely. The lights in the control room flickered
for a moment and then died, plunging them into darkness. Rushing to the
door, the pair watched as every light in sight blinked out. "Well, that
did it all right. I just hope it gives the guys the chance they need."
Placing his hand on Elisa's back, Matt gave her a gentle push towards the
open gate. "C'mon, lets get back to the warehouse before someone comes
to check out what's going on."
Xanatos glanced up when the overhead
lights of the warehouse flickered weakly for a moment, and then flashed
back on as the generator in the corner hummed to life. He looked down to
find all trace of amusement gone from Cyberhawk's face. The cyborg lowered
his pistol, breaking his showdown with Goliath, his eyes darting about.
Striding forward he walked down the row of cages, checking each one, then
moved to the door of the warehouse. Opening it, he took a step out and
turned his head left and right, scanning the neighboring area. Still facing
outwards, he shouted back. "It appears that we are in the middle of a localized
blackout." A low laugh filtered back to Xanatos' ears. "This is far too
convenient to be coincidence. I truly wish I had been allowed to kill Maza;
I knew she'd be trouble."
Turning his attention from the door,
Xanatos sought out Owen and silently caught the man's attention. Owen raised
his eyebrow questioningly at his employer. Xanatos pointed quickly to the
side and waited for Owen's nod of understanding, then turned back to the
door. Making sure that Cyberhawk was still focused on the area outside,
he shifted his weight on the balls of his feet and dashed forward, racing
to where the two pistols lay on the ground. He caught motion corner of
his eye and dove forward, his hand stretching towards the nearest of the
The gun exploded in a flash of light
while his hand was still a foot away. He quickly closed his eyes as minute
shards of metal and plastic flew into his palm and face, digging into the
skin like burning pinpricks. Snapping his hand back, he hit the ground
shoulder-first, using his forward momentum to roll beyond the area of the
blast. As he skidded to a halt on the rough concrete, he pushed himself
up on his uninjured hand and
reopened his eyes.
A small burn mark was all that remained of
the first gun, and the second had been thrown aside by the explosion, putting
it well out of his reach. Cyberhawk was walking towards him, the laser
pistol pointed almost casually in Xanatos' direction. The cyborg's expression
was one of cold anger as he came to a stop several dozen feet away. "If
it wasn't for the fact that I am expressly forbidden from killing you,
Mr. Xanatos, you would be dead right now. Take your wounds as a lesson
though; just because I can't kill you does not mean I can't cause you pain.
Your attempt failed: please do not try again."
"On the contrary," responded Owen from
beside the generator, causing Cyberhawk's head to snap around, his expression
sliding deliciously from anger to surprise. "I believe that Mr. Xanatos'
distraction was most successful." Raising his left hand above his head,
Owen brought his stone fist down hard against the side of the generator.
The machine's metal siding crumpled under the force of the blow, its insides
belching sparks and smoke. The gentle hum the generator had produced degenerated
immediately into a rough grinding noise, and then died altogether as the
warehouse joined the rest of the neighborhood in darkness.
A beam of red light ricocheted off the
dead generator as Cyberhawk fired at Owen, the shot coming too late as
the valet dropped from sight behind the machine. Cursing at the top of
his lungs, Cyberhawk spun as quickly as he could, tracking his weapon towards
the new sound of tearing metal, but once again he was too late.
Dropping to all fours, his eyes glowing
furnaces, Goliath let loose a guttural snarl as he bounded towards Cyberhawk.
Dodging around the laser fire directed at him, he dug his feet into the
concrete and lunged with fist outstretched. The blow landed squarely on
the cyborg's chest, its force picking him off the ground, the air rushing
from his lungs and the gun flying from his hand. Cyberhawk landed in a
heap several yards away, and Goliath sprang forward again. The gargoyle
brought his claws down in a slashing motion at Cyberhawk's face, only to
have his wrists caught in vise-like grips.
With a snarl of his own Cyberhawk rose to
his feet. Thrusting Goliath's hands to the side he delivered an arcing
blow to the gargoyle's face, driving him back. Taking a step back of his
own to gain some space, the cyborg suddenly found a pair of crimson arms
encircling him in a bear hug, pinning his own arms to his sides.
Brooklyn leaned his head forward to
snarl in the cyborg's ear. "Don't forget the rest of us, buddy."
"Don't worry, I haven't."
Something shifted underneath the cyborg's
coat and a pair of metallic wings exploded from the Cyberhawk's back, shredding
his coat and ripping deep furrows along Brooklyn's chest. Brooklyn shrieked
in pain as he was thrown back, off of Cyberhawk. The cyborg spread his
wings to the sides for balance, the metal feathers on each bristling.
He turned to face the rest of the clan arrayed
against him, twisted with rage. "I would have preferred to work more delicately,
but don't worry, you'll find that the doctor equipped me quite well for
The clan watched in morbid fascination as
Cyberhawk's scalp split apart, a false wig and skin falling away to reveal
a metal surface beneath. Curved metal extended from over his forehead and
from beneath his chin, forming a crude metallic beak, framing his face.
His black gloves split apart at the seams as his fingers extended into
silvery talons, and beneath his clothes components writhed as body armor
shifted and locked itself in place. Stripping off the remains of his coat,
he snapped his left arm up as a laser extended up from out of his forearm.
Red light lit the warehouse as Cyberhawk released a flurry of blasts towards
the clan. They scattered, letting the beams tear into the concrete floor.
Watching the gargoyles engage the cyborg,
Xanatos felt a hand grasp his arm as Owen reached down to help him stand.
Rising to his feet, he gave his valet a brief pat on the shoulder. "Perfectly
executed, Owen, well done."
"Thank you, sir." Owen reached up to
straighten his glasses as he turned to watch the fight. The gargoyles had
split apart and begun to encircle their opponent, moving in to strike.
"If I may say, sir, things seem to have gotten a bit out of control."
"Indeed," replied Xanatos, stepping
over to where the second pistol now lay. "I'd say it's about time we retook
the reins." Picking up the weapon, Xanatos turned back to the fight. He
watched as Cyberhawk drove back an attack by Broadway, then aimed and fired.
The shot didn't strike dead on, but drove the cyborg's shoulder back, throwing
him off balance. Snarling, Cyberhawk raised his left arm towards Xanatos
to return fire, but was thrown forward to his knees when Lexington swooped
in to strike him hard between the shoulder blades. Xanatos observed as
Cyberhawk rose slowly back to his feet with his eyes darting back and forth,
scanning the gargoyles around him. All humor was gone from his face, his
expression now a blank mask, cautious and unreadable. Brooklyn was kneeling
against the wall, hands grasped to the wounds on his chest, but the rest
of the clan was still on its feet.
Hudson took a step forward, fists balled
up and raised in the absence of his confiscated sword. "Fer all yer talk,
lad, ye don't seem to be faring as well in this fight as before. Do ye
really think that ye can win here?"
Cyberhawk cocked his head to the side
and looked the old Gargoyle in the eye. "No, I don't." Snapping his wings
out, he leapt up, putting as much distance between himself and the gargoyles
as he could. A jetpack between his wings ignited, blowing up a cloud of
dust from the floor and hurling him into the air. A shot from his arm blaster
shattered one of the windows and he rocketed through it, escaping out into
the night sky.
Springing forward, Broadway rushed for
the door. "We've gotta go after him!"
Goliath placed a hand on Broadway's
shoulder, stopping him. "No, we cannot risk having him separate us again.
If he wishes to battle again, he will have to come to us."
"He'll return, you can be sure of that."
Xanatos walked towards the clan leader, returning the laser pistol to its
holster. Ignoring the looks that the clan threw his way, he continued.
"This is far from over. His programming probably won't let him leave you
in peace until he's finished his mission."
"You mean until he has killed us," Goliath
retorted with a snarl, turning to face Xanatos. "A mission which you set
Xanatos raised his hands in defense.
"On the contrary, I never wanted you dead, merely captured. And I had nothing
to do with Cyberhawk's programming; I was expecting a normal cyborg, not
an egotistical machine. His wish to kill you makes him as much my enemy
"I think he tells the truth, lad," asserted
Hudson as he bent to retrieve his sword from beside the shattered generator.
"He did fire on the beast, and 'twas his man that freed us in the first
place, no doubt on his orders."
Goliath sighed, looking Xanatos up and
down. "Very well," he conceded. "But whatever your intentions, Xanatos,
you did have a hand in that thing's creation."
"True," said Xanatos with a small shrug.
"And for that I would be more than willing to assist your clan in defeating
him. Together we have a much better chance of ending his threat than either
of us does alone."
Goliath was about the respond when the
sound of a car door slamming shut reached his ears from outside. A moment
later Elisa strode though the door, followed by a grinning Matt. "Looks
like we missed the fireworks."
"Elisa!" Goliath stern expression broke
into a relieved smile as he stepped forward to meet her, grasping her by
her shoulders and lifting her off the ground.
Elisa gave a startled grunt and tried
to disentangle herself with a laugh. "Easy big guy, I'm still not a hundred
Goliath released her and stepped back,
slightly embarrassed. "How badly are you injured?" he asked, his voice
concerned. "Have you seen a doctor yet?"
"Not too bad, and no, not yet." She
rolled her eyes at the look he gave her. "Don't worry, I'll see one today."
Xanatos cleared his throat, catching
the detective's attention. "If you like, Detective Maza, I can give you
access to my company's medical staff. They are well trained, and I can
guarantee no questions asked."
Elisa fixed him with a hard stare, her
distrust evident. "I'll take my chances with the hospital, thank you."
Xanatos shrugged. "As you wish. Just
trying to lend a hand." He glanced back and forth between the two detectives.
"I assume it was the two of you that engineered the blackout."
"Yeah, and he had to shut down an entire substation
to do it. Another trouble we can lay at your feet, Xanatos," replied Matt,
a look of distaste on his face. "Your little plan seems to have back-fired
on you this time, though," he added with a smirk.
"Indeed it has; a matter that I intend to
correct." Turning to the rest of the clan, he continued. "I would imagine
you would all appreciate some time to recuperate. I would suggest that
we meet tomorrow night at the castle to discuss how best to deal with this
situation." He sighed at looks of distrust this garnered from the gargoyles.
"I promise, no harm will come to you. Until Cyberhawk is brought under
control, he is a threat to my
plans, and your assistance is the best chance I have of stopping him"
After a moment's consideration, Goliath nodded.
"I will trust you, at least for now. Very well. We will meet you at the
castle after sunset."
Goliath bent his legs as he landed, absorbing
the force of the impact. Leaning forward, he let Elisa slide from his arms
and set her feet on the ground. They stood in an alley near one of the
city's hospitals, the clan waiting on a nearby rooftop. She gave him a
smile as he rose to his full height once more. "Thanks for the ride, Goliath.
Much as I hate to admit it, it'll be good to get this looked at. At the
very least it will get you guys
off my back about it," she said teasingly, shooting him amused look.
"It was the least that I could do. We
all owe you much tonight. If you had not taken the risks you did, we would
all be dead."
She laughed. "You guys have saved me
so many times, this doesn't even begin to pay back what I already owe you."
She shrugged. "Anyway, you're my friends; I couldn't just let some psycho
kill you. It's not in my nature."
"Whatever your reasons, I thank you."
He sighed slightly and shook his head. "And despite what you say, you are
in no debt to us. You have risked your life for us time and again. You
have been a friend to us when no other would."
"I did what I thought was right.
I always have."
"It is just that…when I saw him shoot
you, when I thought you were dead… I cannot bear the thought of you being
put in danger because you are our friend. I do not wish to see you hurt."
Her expression softened as she reached
out and touched his arm. "You don't have to worry about me Goliath. I can
take care of myself. But…thanks." She laughed and looked away. "Anyway,
it'll take more than some two-bit cyborg to take me out. We Mazas are tough."
Goliath smiled down at her. "Of that
I have no doubt. Are you sure, though, that he will not come for you during
"Sure enough. From what you say, he's
bound pretty tightly by his "parameters". I think he only used me because
I was already there; seeking me out would probably be too much of a violation
of his rules."
"I'll be fine, I promise. Now get back
to the rest of the clan; it's you guys he's after."
Goliath nodded and turned, sinking his
claws into the wall and beginning to climb. Elisa watched him from the
ground until he reached the top and launched himself into the air, gliding
out of sight. She smiled to herself as she turned and began walking to
the mouth of the alley. "Nice to know someone cares sometimes."
Xanatos was waiting for them when the
gargoyles touched down in the courtyard of the castle the next night. The
billionaire approached Goliath as soon as he landed. "It's about time you
showed up. I was beginning to worry that something had happened to you."
"The rest of the night was uneventful,
and we hid well during the day. He did not find us, or if he did, he did
"I wouldn't be surprised; his logic
process lacks a certain sanity. Come on in, the good detectives have already
arrived. They should be waiting for us inside with Owen. If you'll just
follow me, we'll get started." Turning, Xanatos walked through the gate
back into the castle, the clan trailing along behind him.
A few minutes later they entered Xanatos'
office. Elisa and Matt were there, both of them trying in vain to speak
to Owen. They looked far more rested than they had the night before, and
the edge of a bandage could be seen near Elisa's neck, testifying to her
hospital visit. All three turned as the clan entered. After greetings were
made, Elisa was the first to speak up. "Okay, Xanatos, everyone's here
so you can stop stonewalling us. There are a few things I want to know.
What exactly is this Cyberhawk guy, what is he capable of? And who's Dr.
Centaro, and what was he got against the gargoyles?"
"Direct as always, aren't we, detective."
Walking to his desk, Xanatos turned to face the room and leaned back on
the desk's front edge. "I'll tell you what I can, but in truth, I don't
really know much more than you."
"Then tell us what you know Xanatos,"
rumbled Goliath, "and we will see how useful it is."
"Of course." He paused to collect his
thoughts, then began. "To tell the truth, this all started with your first
battle with Coldstone after he was resurrected."
Lexington interrupted with a question.
"What does Coldstone have to do with any of this?"
"Not much, really. What mattered was
the events occurred during your conflict. Before we adjourned to the bridge,
there was a lot of damage done to the area where Coldstone was released.
There were a few casualties; three people ended up staying in the hospital
with serious injuries, and there was one death. A young man was struck
by masonry that fell from a building that Coldstone blasted. He received
a serious head trauma and later died in the hospital during surgery. The
story would have ended there, except for the fact that the young man in
question was Jeffery Centaro, son of Dr. Havelock Centaro, a rather famous
and eccentric cyberneticist. The good doctor flew to New York immediately
upon hearing his son's fate, trying to find out what had happened. He refused
to accept the fact that the police couldn't find the parties responsible
and so investigated on his own. After stealing a security tape from a building
in the area of the fight, he found on the tape the people he felt caused
his son's death: namely, the gargoyles."
Brooklyn groaned from where he stood
against the wall. "Just typical; one of your schemes hurts someone and
we get stuck with the blame. I'm really getting tired of playing the scapegoat."
"Okay, that explains why this doctor
guy wants us dead," interjected Broadway. "But what I still don't get is
how he ended up working for you."
"He did some research into strange events
in the city that might help him find you, and my name kept popping up.
He came to me to find out what I knew. He showed me the tape he had taken
and explained that he wanted revenge on you for his son's death."
"And you of course jumped at the opportunity
to exploit that," said Elisa sarcastically.
Xanatos smiled. "It wasn't a chance
I could just let pass. Dr. Centaro was the best in his field, the biggest
fish in a very small pond. I told him a brief background of your activities,
mostly true, and offered an alliance to help capture the lot of you. I'd
tried recruiting him before, but he'd always declined my offers in the
past. Even with the incentive of tracking you down, he was unwilling to
work directly for me, so we ended up coming to a rather loose arrangement.
I would fund his creation of a cyborg that could be used to ensnare you,
and in return for that I would have custody of you once you were secured."
He shrugged. "To tell you the truth, though, I had almost forgotten the
project before Cyberhawk actually arrived in New York. Centaro had refused
to give status reports; the only communications from him were invariably
requests for additional funds."
"And you just gave him the money?" asked
"The doctor's reputation warranted it,
and the chance of returning the clan to my control was worth the expense."
He frowned and leaned back on the desk, glancing over his shoulder and
out the window. "The results, however, leave much to be desired. It would
seem that Centaro's desire for revenge outweighed any loyalty he felt towards
me for helping him. Perhaps, as he saw his death approaching, he felt anything
vengeance was unnecessary."
Goliath growled and shifted on his feet,
fixing Xanatos with an icy glare. "I find that I can no longer be surprised
by how casually you play with others lives, Xanatos, but what's done is
done. We must focus on what we can do now. Your machinations destroyed
the lives of a father and son; I will not let them claim another."
"I assume you refer to whoever it is
that Centaro used to house Cyberhawk."
Goliath nodded. "If what he told us last night
is true, then Cyberhawk is merely a machine, but the body that he uses
is a human being, and a victim. We cannot simply kill an innocent who is
being manipulated. We must find a way to right the wrongs that were done
"Idealistic as ever, I see," responded
Xanatos with a smirk, earning a snarl from Goliath. "Don't worry, I anticipated
your feelings, and even agree with them. I've spent the day with Owen,
looking into ways that we might be able to shut down the Cyberhawk persona.
I believe we might have come up with a plan to do just that. Owen, if you
Burnett was cleaning his glasses with
a handkerchief, but put them back on as the entire room turned to face
him. He cleared his throat as and began. "There are unfortunately many
variables and unknowns that we cannot account for, but I believe that the
plan we have formulated has at least a marginal chance of success. It is,
however, quite dangerous, and would require the assistance of entire clan."
He raised his eyebrow
questioningly at Goliath.
The gargoyle leader nodded. "If your
plan meets with my approval, we will do what is necessary."
"Excellent. Very well, then. You must
understand that Cyberhawk is unlike anything either of us has faced, and
considerably more powerful than other cyborgs. Mr. Xanatos was not exaggerating
when he called Dr. Centaro the best there was. His theories and ideas were
astounding; you have experienced first-hand how effective his products
"Get to the point, lad," growled Hudson.
"I am," retorted Owen with a disapproving
glance before continuing. "While Cyberhawk is indeed a machine, his design
makes him far more intelligent than any other so far produced. Access to
a human brain gives him uncharted reasoning capabilities; tricking him
will not be easy. And as we can see from his retreat in the warehouse and
his methods for capturing each of you, he will be extremely reluctant to
engage in a
confrontation where he is not sure that he has an edge. So we must
manufacture a situation where he believes us unknowingly vulnerable, but
where in fact he leaves himself vulnerable."
"So you're saying that we gotta get
his into a fight where he thinks he's tricking us, but in fact we're tricking
him, like a sting," interrupted Broadway.
The look of surprise on Owen's face
was almost comical. "Yes, that is exactly what I mean," he replied, making
the blue gargoyle beam with satisfaction.
"Okay, that makes sense," said Elisa,
"but how do we do that?"
"By using Cyberhawk's own planning against
him," answered Xanatos. Stepping around the desk, he began typing on the
keyboard, bringing to life the monitors on the side of the room. "What
you see here are computer logs, records of the various activities and transactions
performed by our mainframe." He hit a few more keys and several of the
lines became highlighted. "These records are the ones we are interested
in. Owen found them today, entirely by chance. They are hidden from the
programs that monitor such things, and therefore went unnoticed until today."
Lexington moved towards the monitors
and scanned the selected lines. Pointing at a section of the screen, he
spoke up. "These look like fund and material transfers." He moved his finger
down the lines. "And these look like new protocols for the castle security
"Very good, Lexington," said Owen, smiling.
"That is exactly what they are. These were performed off-sight by a foreign
user, undoubtedly Cyberhawk. His unique nature seems to allow him to link
directly with machines, with a level of skill that allowed him to easily
bypass the usual security measures we employ."
"So this is how he got the hovercraft
and cages he used in capturing us," surmised Lexington, still studying
the screen. "That much I can figure out. But I don't know your security
system too well; what is he doing with these new protocols?"
"Therein lies the heart of the plan,"
said Xanatos from behind his desk. "Those protocols create an aerial approach
path to the castle where the security system is blind. We believe Cyberhawk
put it in as a precaution, a way to ensure that he would never be without
access if things went badly during the final confrontation. What I want
to do is this: I will fly out with part of the clan, offering Cyberhawk
an opportunity to strike.
Once he does, we would retreat to the castle where the rest of the
clan is waiting, along with the security systems of the castle itself.
The obvious conclusion Cyberhawk would draw is that we were trying to lead
him into a trap, since the entire clan plus the defense systems would be
far too much for him to win against. I hope that at that point he would
utilize the approach vector he engineered to gain access to the castle."
Matt spoke up, interrupting Xanatos.
"What would he gain by coming into the castle? What would we gain for matter?"
Xanatos extended his hand and swept
it across the room, indicating the entire clan. "The automated systems
that control the defenses recognize you all as friendly right now; that
is why you were able to approach the castle unharmed. It also now recognizes
Cyberhawk as hostile, and would therefore fire on him. What I hope is that
Cyberhawk will try to turn our apparent trap against us. He could link
with the castle's systems once inside and switch the system to make his
profile friendly and yours hostile, causing the defenses to ignore his
presence and fire on you. He could then use that advantage to attack and
defeat you. But since we know about the entry corridor, we can anticipate
his move and be ready for him." He pointed at Owen and Lexington. "Once
he has established a link, we can work back across that link to invade
Cyberhawk's systems and eradicate his programming, conceivably freeing
the host from his control." He turned to face Goliath and spread his hands.
"That is the plan. While it has its faults, I believe it is the best chance
we have to achieve our mutual goals."
Goliath frowned for a moment. "I am
not sure. I do not wish to place my clan at risk for a plan we cannot be
sure will work." He looked at Lexington. "You know more about this science
than I. Do you believe the plan would succeed?"
Lexington's expression was skeptical.
"I agree with it to a point, but after the link is established, how do
we destroy the Cyberhawk program? Ignoring the fact that he might simply
break the link physically, how would just Owen and I be able to compete
with a near-sentient A.I.?"
"Someone would have to be present at
the site of the link to restrain Cyberhawk and keep him from breaking contact,"
responded Owen. "That would not be difficult, as he would have most of
his concentration devoted to stopping our electronic assault." He glanced
at Lexington. "As for the actual assault itself, we wouldn't be unarmed.
We have a virus in our possession which I believe would be powerful enough
to distract even Cyberhawk. I have made some modifications to its code
that will prevent it from infecting the host's mind once our task is finished,
so it is perfectly safe to use."
Lexington sighed and glanced back at
Goliath. "As much as I hate to say it, I think this is the best chance
we've got. If we want to destroy Cyberhawk without hurting the host, we're
gonna have to get into his mind, and for that we need a direct link. There's
a lot that could go haywire, but I think it's worth a shot."
Goliath was silent for a moment, lost
in thought, before he finally nodded. "Very well, Xanatos, your plan is
satisfactory. When do you wish to begin?"
The billionaire smiled broadly as he
gave the lavender gargoyle a slap on the back. "You've made the right choice.
Most of the preparations have already been completed, so give me a moment
to suit up and we'll be under way."
Brooklyn eased himself up on a warm current,
his eyes alert as he scanned the city below them for any sign of their
adversary. The gashes on his chest had healed with a day's sleep, and he
was ready for action. They'd left the castle almost half an hour ago, gliding
in a circular pattern around tower, spiraling outward, but there was still
no sign of Cyberhawk. Glancing to his left, he checked on the others in
the scouting party. Goliath was a dozen yards off of Brooklyn's left wing,
with Hudson another dozen over. Both were watching the terrain below with
expressions of concentration, ready to move at the first sign of the enemy.
The whine of engines from the front declared the presence of the other
half of the group. Xanatos flew in his red and black battle armor, flanked
on either side by a Steel Clan robot. Taking the lead to draw fire if it
came, all three had sensor extended and primed.
One of the whines changed in pitch slightly
as Xanatos dropped some speed and altitude, falling back towards Goliath.
Turning his head back, Xanatos' grainy voice came across the battle suit's
external speakers. "I've been picking up a ghost of a signal on and off
for the last five minutes. I think he's spotted us and is tracking us at
Goliath frowned. "Why has he not moved
"He will. Its just that he knows this
is too convenient, so he's probably being over cautious. Don't worry, eventually…"
Xanatos cut off and his head snapped back down just as the warning sirens
started blaring on the two robots. "Everyone, scatter!"
Brooklyn tucked his wings and rolled
to the side as beams of iridescent light suddenly filled the air around
the group. A new whine suddenly reached his ears as Cyberhawk shot out
of one of the alleys below, roaring at top speed towards the gargoyles.
His face was smiling, but his eyes were locked on his prey.
The group broke in pairs, the robots
rocketing forward, Hudson and Goliath going to the left. As Brooklyn steadied
his path, he heard the sound of Xanatos approaching on the left. "Guess
you're with me."
"Yeah, lucky me," growled Brooklyn as
he broke right, circling back around towards the cyborg, Xanatos right
Goliath and Hudson were the first to
reach Cyberhawk. With a snarl Goliath swooped in, trying to grab the cyborg
with his claws. Cyberhawk spun in flight, his wings buffeting the gargoyle
leader and knocking him out of reach. Ducking below Hudson's sword, he
shot up, impacting hard with the elderly gargoyle as he flew quickly past
Brooklyn moved in before Cyberhawk had
a chance to respond, grabbing his waist with his feet. He trust his beak
in the cyborg's face with a wicked smile. "You're pretty good on the ground;
let's see how you do now that you're in our world." Cocking his shoulder
he delivered a sweeping roundhouse his opponent's face, snapping it back,
and almost got his arms sliced open by the metallic beak. Cyberhawk gave
a grunt of pain, but without bothering to look up he flexed his wings and
spun once more. Brooklyn found himself howling in pain as a laser blast
intended for his enemy struck him in the shoulder, sending searing heat
through his body. Reaching forward, Cyberhawk grasped Brooklyn by the neck
and hurled him against Xanatos, propelling them both away. Firing his rockets
again, he swooped upward in a tight circle, coming down hard against Goliath's
back with fists outstretched, knocking the lavender gargoyle into a tailspin.
Turning, Cyberhawk made to follow him down.
The cyborg was forced to pull up with
a snarl of frustration second later, though, twin beams of light flashing
past him as the Steel Clan robots moved in. Snarling, he spun around and
shot past the first, coming face to face with the second. Grasping it by
the shoulder, he drove his fist through its armor plating with a sickening
crunch and spread his talons inside, slicing though circuitry. The robot's
eyes lost their light and its
engine cut out, causing it to fall backward, plummeting down until
it detonated on one of the roofs below. Twisting around towards the first,
Cyberhawk snapped open his blaster, delivering a shot at almost point blank
range to the robot, blowing a hole through its chest. The machine exploded
with a flash of light and a deafening boom, forcing Brooklyn to cover his
face. Cyberhawk flew back out of the range of the blast, then
hovered on his jets, waiting. Brooklyn was about to attack again when
Xanatos' amplified voice reached his ears. "Abort! The mission is a failure,
retreat back to the castle!" The remaining members of the scouting party
broke off their attack as planned and turned in midair, flying now
towards Xanatos' skyscraper in the distance.
Nursing his injured shoulder, Brooklyn glanced
back at Cyberhawk. The cyborg was still hovering, apparently frozen by
indecision, but then angled his wings and shot forward in pursuit. Chuckling
to himself, Brooklyn found he was unable to hold back a grin. "Gotcha."
Lex drummed his fingers on the table
beside the keyboard as he waited for word to come from the scouting party.
His eyes were locked on the monitor in front of him, studying their preparations.
The virus was prepped and ready to upload as soon as Cyberhawk linked up.
He and Owen would be able to start their attack on his systems at any time.
Now all they had to do was wait, and it was driving Lex nuts.
There was a slight chirrup from the
side and Lex looked up as Owen raised his hand to touch the earpiece on
the headset he wore. "Here, sir." There was a pause. "Already? Very well
then, give me a moment to check around." Flipping a switch on the side
of the headset, he spoke again. "Broadway? Is your group ready? Excellent.
Stand by, he will be incoming in a moment. Yes, I'll give you the signal
as soon as it is time to
move." He hit the switch again and then turned to Lex. "Are you ready?"
Lex cracked his knuckles and grinned,
giving Owen the thumbs up. "Ready whenever you are."
Owen gave a small smile in return and
turned back to his own screen. "We're all set on this end, sir. Bring him
Goliath spun as soon as he landed, searching
behind him for Cyberhawk's silhouette against the night sky. The airspace
around the castle was empty, though. The figure that had followed them
doggedly the entire way had simply disappeared.
He heard a curse beside him and looked
down to find Brooklyn there, his right hand protectively placed over his
wounded shoulder. He too was turning his head back and forth, scanning
the air. "Man, I look away for one second and he vanishes. I'll give this
much to him; he's good. That Centaro guy makes one heck of a cyborg."
Hudson stepped forward to join them.
"I'll nae argue with you on that, lad. I'd hoped we'd have more of an advantage
in the air, but he was making fools of us out there. I can only say that
I hope he has nae turned tail and fled. It would be an awful shame to have
gone through all that trouble for nothing."
The sound of hissing air came from behind
them as Xanatos removed his helmet. "I'd have to agree with Hudson. I'd
hate to think that I just wasted another two robots." He smiled. "Luckily
for all of us, that doesn't seem to be the case."
Goliath raised a questioning eyebrow.
"The castle's sensors have found him?"
Xanatos shook his head as he responded.
"Just the opposite, actually." He tapped the headset he was wearing. "According
to Owen, Cyberhawk has entirely disappeared." He grinned. "Don't worry,
that's a good thing. If he had turned away, we would have been able to
sense him doing so. His suddenly vanishing like this can only mean that
he is using the flight corridor he created. Things are going exactly according
to plan. Now we simply wait for the signal before moving in."
Goliath grumbled slightly. "I do not
know, Xanatos. I do not like simply waiting here while others risk there
lives. We should be going to help restrain Cyberhawk, not simply standing
"We have to stay for now. If we moved
too soon, we might scare Cyberhawk away before he gets a chance to link
to the computer, and then the night really will be for nothing," explained
Xanatos, laying a restraining hand on Goliath's shoulder. He gave an amused
smile. "Don't worry. I'm sure Detective Maza and the others will be fine
until we arrive. I have even assigned one of the Steel Clan to watch over
them is case anything goes wrong. We have to wait for now."
"Very well, I will wait," sighed Goliath,
looking down at the floor of the courtyard, imagining what might be happening
below. "But I will not wait long. And I warn you, Xanatos, if any harm
comes to them, I will see you pay."
The empty hallway echoed with the barely
audible sound of his footsteps as Cyberhawk walked cautiously through the
abandoned hallway, his eyes scanning his surroundings for any sign of danger.
His cybernetics were once again retracted, and he wore a smile on his face
once more. He chuckled slightly as he moved towards the room where he knew
he would find a suitable terminal. He couldn't help himself; the entire
situation seemed too amusing. He was forced to admit the gargoyles had
given a good fight when they came looking for him; his face still smarted
from Brooklyn's blow. But falling back to the castle, imagining that it
was some bastion of safety for them…. He almost felt insulted that they
would think that he hadn't anticipated this very possibility, anticipated
it and prepared for it. It was almost his obligation to show them how wrong
they were. An obligation and a privilege.
He entered the room carefully, scanning
left and right before fully entering. Walking to the workstation terminal,
he reached down and switched it on, the machine humming to life. The monitor
flickered on, but he ignored the images that popped up on it. He opened
the access ports on the side of the terminal, exposing the data jacks that
lay within. His smile grew as he took a long, thick cord from his pocket
and plugged in into the jack. Dr. Centaro's instructions seemed to sing
in his ear as he opened the panel on the side of his head and inserted
the cable, and then was lost in the data stream.
"He's in!" exclaimed Lex, bolting upright
in his chair. "Should I move to intercept him?"
"Not yet," replied Owen, his right hand
dancing across the keyboard like a pale spider. "Give me a moment to prepare
the virus. We don't want him running too soon." The keys clicked for what
seemed to Lex to be an eternity, but Owen finally nodded. "The virus is
uploading. Let us begin."
Lex turned back to his screen and began
typing, grinning as text began to scroll across his screen. "Okay, buddy,
you've fought us on the ground and in the air. Lets see how you like gargoyles
Cyberhawk was standing stock still with
his eyes closed, humming quietly to himself, when the virus hit. His eyes
shot open and a look of pure shock splattered across his face as he realized
what was happening. The next expression was one of almost pain as his legs
gave way and he fell to his knees. Scrambling desperately to his feet,
he leaned heavily on the terminal. He reached upward shakily, grabbing
for the wire that
connected him to the terminal. He had almost grasped it when a pair
of aquamarine hands suddenly grabbed him by the wrist, halting his motion.
Broadway's face came into his view, his eyes glowing and his teeth bared
in a smile.
"Sorry, buddy, but you don't get out
The cyborg tried to reach over with his other
hand, only to find it restrained by another pair of hands, this one human.
Elisa's grinning face appeared as she drove his hand against the terminal.
Matt leapt forward, driving his shoulder
into Cyberhawk's back right between the shoulder blades, shoving the cyborg
face-first against the terminal. His face was turned to the left, and he
was looking directly at Elisa. She could see that the cyborg's expression
was a snarl of pain and confusion. His entire body was twisting weakly
under his captors' grasps, but they held tight, not letting him budge an
inch. Slowly the struggling lessened and then ceased entirely. His face
went from a spasming mess to a blank slate, a slight twitching on the left
side the only movement now evident. The three loosened their grips a bit,
watching carefully for any signs of motion, but there were none.
For a moment Elisa thought it was over.
But then she felt an icy chill in her gut as a smile slowly appeared on
Cyberhawk face. He spoke up, almost as if to himself, in a halting, broken
fashion. "They're good, I must admit. But not quite…good enough."
Owen gave a cry of alarm as his terminal
exploded, the monitor belching smoke and spitting sparks in his face. He
pushed back desperately, falling from his chair in the process, his glasses
being knocked askew and his headset dropping to the ground. Lex spun in
his chair, staring in shock. "What happened?"
"A sudden power surge, probably caused by
him. I'm afraid I was not vigilant enough." He glanced at the gargoyle.
"Ignore it, continue."
Lex nodded and returned his gaze to
his screen. Upon seeing what was there, he gave a cry of his own.
Owen stood quickly. "What is it?"
Owen adjusted his glasses and looked
over the gargoyle's shoulder as Lex began typing frantically, desperately
trying to make up for lost ground. The blond man stared for a moment, before
stepping back with a sharp intake of breath. "Disastrous would be more
appropriate." Bending down, he retrieved the headset from the floor, he
put it back on and opened a channel. "Mr. Xanatos? I'm afraid I have a
Goliath cursed as he was forced to dodge
back from the entrance to the hallway. Laser fire dug chunks out of the
stone wall, spraying him with dust and gravel. Coughing, he eased his head
back around the corner, glancing at his adversaries. Several Steel Clan
robots were at the end of the hallway, lasers extended and trained on the
entrance that Goliath had just attempted to pass through. The thin hallway
made it almost impossible to rush them without being cut down by laser
fire, meaning that his group was trapped where they were.
He turned with a snarl, facing the rest
of the people that were arrayed behind him. His eyes sought out Xanatos.
"What is the meaning of this. Are you betraying us?"
The billionaire ignored him for a moment,
listening instead the headset that he wore. His face was grim, and his
eyes hard as he finally turned to face Goliath. "Nothing of the sort, but
we are in trouble. They've had a bit of trouble in the computer center.
Cyberhawk managed to blow one of the terminals and used that as a distraction
for another move. He's created a link between himself and the Steel Clan
using the castle's computers. Every unit in the building is now under his
"Can they do anything to stop him?"
"Owen says Lex is too busy digging into
Cyberhawk's systems to bother with this. If he switched his focus, he lose
too much ground to be able to shut down Cyberhawk. What's more, without
Lexington's attack to distract him, he would be able to gain access to
other areas, such as the defense systems."
Brooklyn swore behind him. "Just wonderful.
How big a problem is this?"
"To us, not as big as it could be. There
are only a handful of units in the building. They were built mainly for
aerial combat, so those that we cannot avoid we should be able to fight
our way through. Unfortunately, the main threat here isn't to us."
Goliath's face turned hard as he realized
what Xanatos meant. "Elisa, Broadway and Bluestone. He could use the robots
to attack them in order to free himself." He cursed aloud. "Unacceptable.
We must hurry to stop him." He started back down the hall when Xanatos
"It's worse than that, Goliath. Remember,
I left one of the robots with them to assist in case of an emergency. That
means that even if we get there as fast as we can, we may already be too
Cyberhawk went still again after he spoke,
not moving or uttering another word. Nevertheless, Elisa felt panic rising
in her mind. Something had happened, that she knew, and she doubted it
was good. Whatever calm there was now, it would not last. Glancing over
at her partner, she could see her own concern mirrored in his eyes.
Broadway was the first to speak up.
"Elisa, what did he mean? What happened to him?"
Elisa shook her head as she responded.
"I'm not sure, Broadway. But I think Cyberhawk just scored a hit against
Lex and Owen."
"Then why hasn't he done something?
If he wasn't focused on fighting off Lex and the virus, he should be able
to move around like normal, shouldn't he?"
She nodded. "That means he's up to something;
I'm just not sure what that something is."
Her answer came only a moment later
when a she caught sight of movement out of the corner of her eye. A metal
fist came out of nowhere, slamming violently into the side of Broadway's
head. The big gargoyle was thrown back, his hold on Cyberhawk's arm broken
as he fell heavily to the floor. He looked up as he shook his head to clear
it, an expression of shock on his face. Over him stood the Steel Clan robot
that Xanatos had assigned to protect them, its glowing eyes focus on the
stricken gargoyle. Ignoring the two human, the machine took another step
towards the Broadway. Raising its arm, it extended the laser housed there
and took aim.
The blast passed within mere inches of Broadway's
head as he rolled to the side at the last minute. Rising to his knees,
he turned to face the robot. It swung it arm around for a second shot,
but Broadway never gave it the chance. He sprang up, throwing a tight punch
to the robot's head, knocking it off balance. With his other hand he reached
over to the laser, grasping it and squeezing. The weapon imploded with
a protesting squeal and flurry of sparks, which ended when Broadway ripped
the shattered blaster from its housing.
The robot's response was uncharacteristically
swift. Taking another step forward, the machine wrapped its arms around
Broadway, pinning the gargoyle's arms for a moment. Broadway was not expecting
such a move, and was caught completely by suprise. But instead of attacking
further, the robot leaned forward and activated its jet pack. The blast
picked both Broadway and the robot off the ground, propelling them out
of the room and down the hallway. The robot twisted to turn the corner,
its wings scraping the stone wall with a shower of sparks, and then the
pair was gone from sight.
Matt turned back to Elisa, the shock
he felt still clear on his face. "This isn't good. We've got to…"
The red-haired detective never got the
chance to finish his thought. Cyberhawk's wings exploded from his back
without warning, picking up Matt and hurling him bodily across the room.
He flew in an arc and struck the far wall with bone-jarring force, his
head slamming against the stone. Sliding down lifelessly, he collapsed
on the floor in an unconscious heap.
Elisa hastily dropped the arm she'd
been holding and tried to make a grab for her gun. She only had it halfway
out of the holster when a hand was suddenly on her neck, the fingers squeezing
so hard she could not breath. Her feet left the ground as she was raised
up, and she clawed at her throat, desperate for air.
She was thrown down with incredible force.
The back of her head struck the floor hard, and her head swam for an infinite
moment. She drew in breath through a tortured throat, the pain in her chest
flaring to life again as something pushed down on her. She opened her eyes
to find a foot planted on her chest, preventing her from rising.
Cyberhawk stood above her, the wire still
running from his head to the terminal. His wings had been retracted into
his back again, but he held his left arm steady, his laser extended and
aimed directly at her head. Beyond the black abyss of the barrel, she could
see his face. His expression was completely blank; not a muscle moved.
His eyes though were a different matter. They both burned, hitting her
with a gaze that made her heart go cold.
"It would seem, Ms. Maza," he whispered,
"that you are not quite so lucky this time."
"It seems that things are not going well,"
said Owen. He was standing behind Lex, watching over his shoulder as he
listened to the headset. "If we are to succeed, you must do something soon."
"I know, I know," Lex replied in a frustrated
voice. "But even with the virus to contend with, he manages to block me
at every turn. I've never seen anyone do such much or move so fast before."
He growled in annoyance at the screen. "I just need a little more time,
not much. I'm so close to his core systems I can almost smell it!"
"Time is not a luxury we have at the
moment. Mr. Xanatos and Goliath are almost at the location where Cyberhawk
logged on, but we don't know what might already be happening there."
"Once again, I already know! Just one
more second, I…" he halted in mid-sentence, his eyes going wide as he thrust
his face almost against the screen. "Bingo!" he exclaimed with glee. "You
missed a trick, buddy. You really should pay more attention to what you're
doing!" With an almost manic grin, he raised his hand above his head, calling
out, "Let's see how you like this!" and brought his index finger down hard
on the keyboard.
Elisa swung her hands up and pushed hard
against the leg holding her down, meeting surprisingly little resistance.
Rolling quickly to the side, she rose to one knee and spun around to face
her opponent, only to find him already defeated.
Cyberhawk stood slumped against the terminal,
his legs barely supporting him. His eyes now had the same blank quality
as the rest of his face, the fire in them gone. He stared vacantly forward,
seeing nothing. As she watched, he slid slowly down, slumping ungracefully
to the floor.
Rising to her feet, Elisa rushed across
the room to where Matt lay. Turning her partner face-up, she checked his
pulse and breathing, and was relieved to find both strong and steady. Gently
placing his head back on the ground, she stood again slowly, wincing at
the pain in her chest and throat.
The sound of bare feet on stone heralded
Broadway's return. The gargoyle came bursting through the doorway he had
been flown through, skidding to a halt just inside the room. His head swung
back and forth, surveying the room. "Are you all right, Elisa? Is Matt…?"
She shook her head, reassuring the gargoyle.
"I'm fine, and Matt will be in a bit."
Broadway sighed in relief, but then turned
to the terminal. "What happened to him?" he asked, indicating the motionless
"I think Lex happened to him. He just
suddenly shut off a second ago." She glanced down at her partner. "Take
care of Matt. He's still breathing and there's no blood, so he'll probably
be fine, but he might be out for a while."
As Broadway saw to Matt, walked over
Elisa kneeled down next to Cyberhawk. His eyes were closed now, but nothing
else seemed to have changed. She placed her hand against his neck and found
a steady pulse, but other than the fact that he was alive, she couldn't
tell what state he was in.
There was another flurry of footsteps
as Goliath barreled down the hallway into the room, followed closely by
Xanatos, Hudson and Brooklyn. "Elisa!" he called out as he entered, scanning
the room for her.
"Over here, big guy," she called back,
"and before you ask, I'm fine." Standing again, she threw the lavender
gargoyle a reassuring smile. "You didn't miss much. I take it you guys
probably had some trouble with Xanatos' robots as well?"
"Nothing we could not handle. I am only sorry
that we could not get here faster."
"Don't sweat it, it wasn't your fault.
Anyway, things worked out in the end."
Goliath pointed to the unconscious cyborg.
"Does he still live?"
She nodded. "We didn't do anything to
him, but he was still hooked up when he blanked out. I think Lex managed
to get him."
Xanatos nodded. "He did, only a few
moments ago. The assault, both Lex's and the virus, has been halted. According
to Owen it appears to have been a complete success."
Goliath knelt down, examining the stricken
cyborg. "It is over then? The Cyberhawk persona has been destroyed?"
"So it seems."
"And what of the host?"
Elisa spoke up, shrugging her shoulders.
"He's still alive, and his vitals seem steady, but I have no idea what's
happening in his mind."
"We probably won't until he regains
consciousness, if he ever does," answered Xanatos. "While the assault we
preformed was only on the circuitry outside of the brain, we have no way
of knowing what residual damage there might be from him having his brain
hijacked by a computer program." The billionaire shook his head in consternation.
"I've never dealt with this sort of thing in the past. All that I can say
is that if he wakes
up, he'll be in control again."
Goliath nodded. "Then we must protect him
until he does awaken, and then help him recover from his ordeal." Reaching
down he scooped up the cyborg, no longer Cyberhawk. He stood, glancing
over as Lexington bounded into the room, followed closely by Owen. "Come.
It is time we returned home."
"One moment, Goliath," interrupted
Xanatos, raising his voice in objection. "I'm afraid your clan simply does
not have the resources needed to properly care him, now or when he awakes.
And I don't really think being surrounded by gargoyles is a proper environment
for a damaged mind."
Goliath spun, fixing Xanatos with a
hard stare. "As opposed to where, Xanatos? One of your labs? I don't even
wish to think about what you may try to use him for there."
"You misjudge me, Goliath."
"No, I don't believe I do." Turning
away, the gargoyle leader strode away, his clan and the two detectives
following in his wake as he passed through the doorway and out of sight.
Xanatos watched as they disappeared one by one, until he was alone with
Owen. Giving a disappointed sigh, he turned towards the other door and
walked out, returning to the armory to remove his suit.
Owen fell smoothly into step with his
employer as he exited the room. "I would expect you to be happier, sir.
After all, we won."
Xanatos shook his he, a sad look on
his face. "No, Owen. For once, I believe the entire affair can be considered
Elisa sighed as she leaned back in her
chair, forlornly studying the computer screen in front of her. The results
of her latest search had finally come back, and they were the same as all
the others: no information available on anyone by the name of Michael Hawkings.
It had been several weeks now since
the final showdown at the castle. She and Matt were back at work again,
sitting at their desks once more, crunching through the new cases as they
came in. She'd had to face Captain Chavez about her time missing and the
laser wound, but a little wordplay had convinced the captain that she had
just been recovering from a random shooting. It had taken another round
of wordplay to convince Chavez that she was in good enough health for duty,
but with that crisis past, she was available to help out with the other
The man had remained unconscious until
an hour after the next sunrise, but Elisa and Matt had been too busy to
be there. He had been a bit shocked at his surroundings, but the guys had
said that he had accepted what they told him fairly easily, not surprising
considering the evidence present. Elisa supposed that they should be thankful
that it had turned out so well; the man seemed to be of fairly sound mind,
the melding with
Cyberhawk not appearing to have done any permanent damage to his reasoning
capabilities. But he had not escaped unscathed; his memory was shattered.
He could only remember bits and pieces of information from the time before
he'd been taken for the Cyberhawk project, the only significant thing being
his name. Elisa found the fact that the project name had been a joke on
Michael's nickname, Hawk, to be particularly morbid.
It had taken a while for Michael to
get his mind around what had happened to him. Waking up to find most of
his body replaced by machines must have been traumatizing. To be told it
had been done to him against his will in order to house an electronic assassin
must have been staggering. Broadway had told Elisa that on the first night,
he had watched as Michael sat for a solid hour staring at his left arm,
extending and retracting his laser.
He'd improved rapidly since then. Elisa
imagined knowing next to nothing about his own past had made it easier
for him to adjust to his rather strange present. Elisa and Matt had taken
shifts watching him and talking with him during the day. They had even
constructed a crude disguise, using a wig and hooded sweatshirt, that allowed
them to take him out of the clocktower a bit. During the night he hung
out with the clan and had
actually made friends with them, particularly Lex, who was as fascinated
by Michael's cybernetics as Michael himself was. Elisa had seen him talking
with the trio, all of them watching television or laughing at each others
Despite Michael's apparent acceptance
of his new life, it had become Elisa's self-appointed task to find his
past for him. She had sent out feelers everywhere she could, checking news
archives and missing peoples' reports. Matt had even called in a few favors
with his old FBI friends, but every search had come up empty.
She stood slowly, arching her back and
thrusting her arms to the sides with a yawn. Her shift had been over for
about half an hour now, and Matt had already headed back to his apartment.
Sliding her jacket on, she shut off her computer and headed towards the
stairs for the clocktower. While Michael no longer needed someone watching
over him during the day, she wanted to give him the news about the search
before she headed home as well.
She was approaching the door to the
clocktower when it opened and Michael stepped out. He was wearing the disguise
they had given him, a few tufts of hair from the wig sticking out from
under the hood, and had a traveling bag slung over one shoulder.
Seeing Elisa approaching, he threw her a friendly
smile. "Hey, Elisa. Didn't expect to see you today. I thought you were
heading home after your shift."
She nodded. "That was the plan, and
I will in a moment, but I wanted to tell you that the latest search results
came in. Another dead end, unfortunately." Raising her right hand, she
pointed to the bag on his back. "Going somewhere? You know you shouldn't
go out into the city alone too much."
He gave a small laugh. "Don't worry,
Elisa, I'll be fine. Besides, I can't take anyone with me. This little
visit to the outside is going to be a bit more…permanent."
Elisa raised a questioning eyebrow.
"You're leaving? Are you sure you're ready?"
He shrugged. "It's for the best. I still
have access to the funds that Cyberhawk took from Xanatos, so money's not
a problem. And anyway, I've got to get myself fixed."
Elisa's expression turned sorrowful
for a moment. "Michael, look…," but cut off at his chagrined look. "Fine,
Hawk, if you insist. Look, I thought that you understood that the cybernetics
are permanent. There's no way to get the missing parts of your body back."
"Don't worry, the cybernetics don't
really bother me much anymore; I've sort of come to terms with them. The
problem's up here," he said in solemn voice, tapping the side of his head
with a gloved finger. "He's still up there."
Elisa felt a twinge of fear as she realized
what he meant. "Cyberhawk? But I though that Lex took care of him at the
"Lex took him down, but he's not out,"
Hawk replied, shaking his head. "I can still sense him, hear him like a
buzz at the back of my brain. It gets worse when I'm around the guys, for
obvious reasons." Hawk gave a sigh. "Its just best for me to get out of
here. You guys don't have the resources to get rid of him permanently,
and I don't really feel like going to Xanatos for help. I figure I can
use the money I have to try and find my own solution." He gave a shrug.
"I just know I can't stay here. I left the guys a note explaining everything,
and I promised that I'll keep in touch, but this is really for the best."
Elisa studied his face for a long moment
before giving a sigh of her own. "I hate to say it, but you're probably
right." She placed a hand on his shoulder. "Just be careful out there,
okay? Don't go getting killed."
Hawk gave a chuckle. "Thanks for understanding,
and I'll make sure to follow your advice." Walking around the detective,
he gave her a wave as he walked down the hall. A second later, he turned
the corner and was gone.