by Desslock

DISCLAIMER TIME:  No I don’t own any rights what so ever to Gargoyles, the evil empire (aka Disney) does, and are used here
without the owner’s or creators knowledge or consent.  Although the Roughwings are mine, if you ask nicely you might be able to play
with them, and if you feel so inclined to capture them for all time in a piece of art, all I ask is that you send me a courtesy copy.  Also,
due to a typo on the author’s part, the year should be 1996, not 1998, sorry.  Finally, if you have any questions or comments then feel
free to send them to me at

    Gliding over West Virginia, Rick felt more peaceful than he had in a while. Two months after leaving New York City, he was no closer
to figuring out how or why he had been changed.  But that wasn’t the main thing on his mind right now, what was on his mind was finding
a place to spend the night.  A cave would do nicely, someplace that he could build a fire, stretch out as he slept, and didn’t have to pack
away his houch in the morning.
    As the moon came out from behind some clouds a shadow fell across Rick and stayed there.  I’m being followed, Rick thought, but by
whom?  Executing a half roll so that he was facing skyward, Rick soon saw that the shadow came with a gargoyle attached to it.  Time to
meet the neighbors, Rick thought, as he slowly ascended.  However, the gargoyle tailing him suddenly dove for the ground and disappeared
in the trees.  Taking chase, Rick also dove for the forest below hoping to not lose sight of his target.  Landing in a small clearing he froze and
listened for several seconds.  The sound of crickets, owls, and possibly a wolf filled Rick’s ears, so did something else, something mechanical
sounding.  Falling backwards like a scene out of the Matrix, the bullet missed Rick by mere inches.
     “@#$%!”  Rick said as he rolled four or five feet before hopping over a log.  Waiting a full minute with out any other shots being fired, Rick
began to breathe a little easier.  After all those tours of duty in Vietnam and in Central America, to almost be taken out like this, Rick laughed
to himself.  Carefully using trees as cover, Rick leap frogged away from the area until he was sure it was safe.
    Leaping off from a tall tree into the air allowed him to continue his search, although if things continued the way they had been going, then there
was little luck of success.

    Hours later, after covering several miles, Rick let out a yawn and began to look for a place to get some rest.  At least the numerous abandoned
mines in the area provided several good caves for him to sleep in.  Spotting what looked like a good one Rick glided down to take a look.  After
inspecting it and determining that it would meet his needs for a while Rick decided to get some sleep before continuing onward.  Now that it was
early September the weather was starting to get cold, so even a small cave would seem like a four-star hotel right about now.
    Finally awaking from his power nap, Rick opened his eyes to see a gun pointed only a few inches from his face. His eyes followed the gun to
see who was behind it.
     “Who are you?  Who sent you?”
     “The name is Rick, and you are?”
     “Did they send you?”
     “They who?”
     “The government or the army?”
     “The government, army?  Do you mean the US government and Army?”
     At that the unknown person holding the gun bent down close to Rick’s face and snarled “Did they send you, answer me now!”
     “No they didn’t send me, I don’t know what you’re talking about.  And you didn’t answer my question.”
     “Then who sent you.”?  Came a third voice.
     “What?  I wasn’t sent here by anyone.”  Rick said as he tried to locate the source of the new voice.
     Backing off slightly, the gargoyle with the gun allowed Rick to sit up.
     “I am Corporal.”
     “CPL?  That’s a rank, not a name”
     “They are one in the same.”  Came the unseen voice again.
     Keeping his eyes on Corporal, Rick asked, “Who are you and what do you mean?”
     “Sergeant.”  Spoke a gargoyle that looked almost as big as Goliath did.
     “Nice to make your acquaintance Sarge. ”
     “That’s Sergeant to you!  But you will soon learn respect.”
     The next thing Rick knew he saw stars just before it all turned black.
     “Bring him with us.”  Sergeant ordered as he shouldered his weapon that he had just used to butt stroke Rick in to unconsciousness.
     Awaking a short time later, Rick found himself in unfamiliar surroundings.  It was dark, and what ever he was lying on was hard and uneven.  I
might be in a cave, he thought.  As his eyes adjusted to the dark, he began to slowly sit up.  The sound of movement told Rick that he wasn’t alone.
From the darkness a grayish outline appeared before him, an outline that looked a lot like a gargoyle.  It was about five foot eight he guessed, with
wings that were draped around the body sort of like a cape.  It stopped a few inches out side of Rick’s reach and spread it’s legs to shoulder width
     “How are you feeling?”  The gray outline asked.
     “I’ve been better.  Who are you?”  Asked Rick.
     “I am called Private 108.”
     “PVT 108?  We need to have a serious talk with your parents about their choice of a name.”
     “Good luck finding out who my parents are.  But you can blame my name on my uncle.”
     “As in Sam.”
     “Are you saying you were named by the government?”
     “Now why would you be named something like that unless you came from a test tube or ….”  The rest of Rick’s sentence trailed off as his mind
reached back in to his memory for something.  Project Test Tube.  Yeah, that was it.  He remembered seeing a folder with that title on it a few years
ago while visiting a friend at the National Security Agency.  What was it he had said, something about great strides being made in bio weapons.
     “You’re a product of Project Test Tube.”  Rick said, as he was once again amazed at how the mind makes the oddest connections at the oddest
     “Yes I am.”
     “Are all of you?”
     Well that explains a lot Rick thought.
     “Where are we?”  He asked.
     “I can’t tell you that.”
     “Well I know this much, we’re in a cave, and it’s not the same one otherwise I would be tied up right now.”
     His eyes having adjusted enough to make out details now, Rick could see the surprised look on her face.  Her?  Yeah, her looks did match her
voice, so she must be female.  He thought.
     “How many females are in your group?”  Rick asked.
     “Just me.”
     “How big is your group?”
     “I can’t tell you that either.”
     “Why not?  I’m by myself, and I know there are at least three of you, so no matter what I’m out numbered.”
     “You’re a soldier, you should know the answer to that.”
     “What makes you think I’m a soldier?”
     “Who else would have an M1911 pistol on them.”
     “Just because I have a 45-caliber doesn’t mean I was in the army.”
     “If you had been a civilian you would probably carry a 44-caliber.  And thanks for telling me which service you were in.”
     Damn, I did let that slip.  She’s a smart cookie; I’m going to have to be more careful, Rick thought.
     “Private 108, Sergeant wants you to bring the prisoner to the mouth of the cave.”  Shouted a third voice from the shadows.
     “On your feet!”  Private 108 said rather harshly.
     Standing up slowly as an act of defiance, Rick looked around for as many clues as possible.
     “Turn ninety degrees to your left and slowly walk forward.”
     “And what if I walk quickly?”
     “Then you will trip and fall.”
     “At least you’re honest.”

     Finally approaching the entrance of the cave, enough moon and starlight filtered in so that Rick was able to make out four figures standing nearby.
Stopping for a second, he was soon pushed by something cool and metallic in his back.
     “I see you are awake, good.  Now we will see if you are one of us.”  Spoke Sergeant.
     “One of you?  What is this, some kind of cult?”
     “What we have here is a *&^%ing comedian.”  Sergeant said as he punched Rick in the stomach.
     Despite the fact that he was hunched over, Rick could still see that the sky was turning from a dark purple to a grayish color.  So daylight is
coming he thought, good, as soon as they turn to stone then I can make my escape.  In the mean time, it looks as though these guys are pulling stand
to, so they must be military.
     Then, with out warning, the vast ball of nuclear fusion that is the sun, burst over the horizon.  The warmth of its rays striking his face was the first
sensation Rick felt.  The sound of birds chirping was the second.  But the third and most important was what struck his eyes, standing before him as
if nothing special had happened were the six gargoyles that currently held him captive.
     “He is one of us.”  Private 97 said.
     “Wow, is he really?”  Added Private 93.
     “A new ally.” Said Private 88.
     “At ease!”  Shouted Corporal as he looked towards Sergeant for guidance.
     “Whether or not he is a friend or not remains to be seen.  For now we will take him with us.”  Sergeant finally said after a moment of contemplation.
     Without warning Sergeant let out a grunt and grabbed his stomach as he fell to the ground.
     “Take cover!”  Corporal shouted even as the rest of the gargoyles ducked down.
     “Orders?”  Corporal asked Sergeant.
     “Take Private 88, 93, and 97 we’ve got break up that ambush.”
     Suddenly, a hail of bullets began to swarm towards the group.  Not only did the volume of small arms fire increase, but also the sound of mortars
added their voice.
     “What are you, crazy?  If you try to attack you’ll be killed.  We’ve got to get out of here.”  Rick shouted in alarm.
     “You shut up.  You’re not in charge here.”  Shouted Sergeant.
     The explosion of a mortar round not ten meters from their position added a new sense of urgency to the conversation.
     “CPL, is there another way out of here?”  Rick asked.
     “Yes, in the back of the cave.”
     Raising him self to a sitting position, Sergeant grabbed Rick by his shirt and shouted, “I am their leader, I will….”.  The rest of his sentence was
drowned out by the deafening blast as another mortar landed even closer to their position.
     Not even waiting for the dust to clear Rick shouted his orders.
     “CPL, if we don’t get out of here we’re dead.  Lead the way.”
     “Sergeant is hurt bad.”  Private 108 said as she held a field dressing to his head.
     “PVT 88, help me to carry Sarge.”
     “What for?”
     “To save him.”
     Watching as Corporal disappeared in to the darkness of the cave, Private 88 made a decision.
     “I’m going with Corporal.”  As he stood up and ran after him.
     “Come back here!  You can’t leave your buddy!”  Rick shouted.
     “I will help you.”  Private 108 said.
     Despite the continuing hail of bullets and mortar rounds, the two of them managed to drag Sergeant to the back of the cave.  Looking around Rick
failed to see any exit, until Private 108 pointed toward the ceiling.  Gazing upward Rick saw the tail of a gargoyle disappear through a hole in the ceiling.
     “!#%&, we can’t carry Sarge up there.  Stay here, I’ll go get the others.”  Rick said.
     Climbing out the top of the cave, Rick saw the other four gargoyles spreading out and attempting to find some cover and concealment.
     “CPL, come give us a hand moving Sarge.”  Rick said.
     “He is too badly injured.  If we leave him, then it will allow us to escape.”
     “I can’t believe your saying that.”
     Just then Private 108 came out of cave.
     “The enemy is entering the cave, we can’t go back for our supplies.”
     “@#$%!  We won’t survive long with out those supplies.”  Corporal swore.
     “What about Sergeant?”  Private 108 asked.
     “We’ll have to leave him.”
     “There is another option.  If you give me my gun back, I will hold off the enemy so you can evac your wounded and supplies.”
     “How can we trust you if we arm you again.”  Corporal asked.
     “What am I going to do, shoot you and fly off?  If I wanted to fly off I would have done it already.  Besides those guys were shooting at me too, so
its not like I’m working for them.”
     “Agreed.  Private 108, return his weapon.”
     After receiving his weapon, Rick quickly inserted a magazine and chambered a round.  Looking down the hole that he had just came out of Rick
could hear the sound of gunfire and of people moving.
     “Man I hated going in to tunnels after Charlie.”  Rick said as he jumped in to the cave.
     Private 108 was about to hop in after him but Corporal put a hand on her arm.
     “Wait.  Lets see if he can buy us some time.”
     “But what if he needs help?”
     “He won’t when he’s dead.”  Corporal spoke loader to be heard over the sound of gunfire that was growing louder inside the cave followed by
an explosion that sent dust coming up out of the hole.
     Turning from Private 108, Corporal informed the squad that they would be heading south in three minutes and to be ready for anything.
      Sticking his head out the hole Rick shouted, “I could use some help down here searching these dead bodies.”
     “You got it.”  Private 108 said, the pride in her voice not entirely masked.
     As for Corporal, he merely looked at Rick and began to rethink his assessment of him.
     “Change of plan troopers.”  Corporal shouted to the remainder of his squad.

     With the help of the other five gargoyles, it proved to be quite easy to not only remove the supplies in the cave, but to search and strip the two
gunmen that had entered the cave and to evacuate Sergeant.
     “All right listen up, with Sarge unable to walk, we’re going to have to carry him.  So that means we will be traveling on the ground.  PVT 93, I
need you on point 150 meters in front of us.  PVT 88, I need you as rear security 100 meters behind us.  The rest of us will be in the center carrying
Sarge.”  Rick issued his instructions.
     “Your in no position to be issuing orders…” Sergeant stopped speaking when he felt Corporal’s hand on his shoulder.
     “Don’t worry about it Sergeant, I’ll take care of things, for now you need to save your strength.”
     “Don’t let me down.”
     Stepping a few feet away so that Sergeant would not hear him, Corporal quickly issued the same orders that Rick had just put out.
     Looking at each other, an unspoken understanding quickly passed between the two as Corporal gave a slight nod to Rick.

     Getting organized didn’t take as long as Rick thought it might, so by eleven that morning they were on the move, and things were starting to look
up.  Or at least Rick had hoped so, they were lucky to get out of the cave, they might not be so next time.
     Suddenly a shot rang out and landed near Private 108’s foot.  Realizing that they were coming under sniper fire, the group once again hit the ground
and attempted to seek cover.  Because Sergeant was now unconscious, his limp body proved to be a hassle to drag out of the line of fire.  I wonder if
anyone ever had to do the same for Goliath, these two are about the same size, Rick thought.
     “What do we do now?”  Corporal asked.
     “You guys stay here.  I’m going to take care of business.”  Rick said as he produced a hand grenade and began to low crawl in the direction of the
    Ducking to avoid gunfire that was directed at him, Rick for the twelfth time that day wondered just what had gone wrong and how he had gotten in
this mess.  As it was the other gargoyles were pinned down and stuck where they were.  Worst yet, these weren’t your ordinary hicks shooting at them,
these guys were good, probably Special Forces.
     Making a mad dash, Rick reached a new position and pressed himself as low to the ground as possible as a hail of bullets buzzed overhead.  Listening
for several moments, Rick finally heard what he was listening for, a rustling sound, as if someone was moving.  Taking his grenade in hand, Rick pulled
the pin and trusting in luck, threw it in the direction the sound had come from.
    One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand four, one thousand fi… the rest of Rick’s mental count interrupted by the
explosion.  In one swift movement Rick was on his feet and sprinted to where he had thrown the grenade.
    Lying on his side, a man was holding his hands over his eyes.  Hearing Rick approach, the man began to cry out.
    “Help me please.  I, I can’t see.  Help me please.”
    “Hold still.  I’m going to pour a little water on you to clear the blood.”  Rick said as he opened the man’s canteen.  “Now just relax while I look at
the wound.”  Slowly moving the man’s hands away from his face, Rick saw that there was no helping the man.  Both of his eyes gone, probably sliced
by fragments from the grenade.  There was a large gash on the side of his head, and a jagged hole in his left check.
    “Just relax.  I need to know where your morphine is.”  Rick asked the man.
    “Right arm pocket.  Is it that bad?  Why can’t I see?”
    “Take it easy, you can’t see because blood has covered your eyes.  Once you get them cleaned up you’ll be ok.”
     Taking a deep breath, Rick pulled his knife and slit the man’s throat to put him out of his misery.
    Picking up the fallen man’s weapon, Rick saw it was just a standard M4 rifle with a thirty round clip.
     However, Rick’s attention was soon focused on a new sound, the distinctive rattle of the AK-47 assault rifle.  Two, maybe three of them, about
two hundred meters away, he thought.  Pulling the bolt back to make sure there was a round in the chamber, Rick took aim in the direction of the gunfire.
     After a couple of moments a single man dashed out in to the open carrying an AK-47.  Rick was about to squeeze trigger when a second person
came in to view out of the corner of his eye.  Quickly changing targets, Rick took aim at the new comer, gently squeezed the trigger and sent a 5.56-
millimeter round flying in to the man’s head.  As the round penetrated the hard bone, it began to tumble like it was designed to; between the bullet and
the bone fragments the poor guy was brain dead before he had finished exhaling.
     Switching the selector from single to burst, Rick then pulled the trigger twice and sent six rounds flying towards their next target.  This time only two
rounds found their target, but that was all that was needed.  The first hit his hand and went straight through, the second hit him in the leg.  Again the
round did what it was supposed to, it tumbled, shattered bone and shredded arteries and veins.  Screaming in pain, the man dropped his weapon and
clutched his leg in a desperate attempt to stem the flow of blood.
     Again, Rick bounded up to where the gunman had been.  This time the man was lying on his back, his leg raised in the air in an attempt to reduce
both blood flow and blood lose.  But before he could get close enough to do anything, two shots rang out and struck the body.  The first landed in the
man’s chest, the second in his stomach.
     Looking at the two new wounds, Rick knew that the man was dead; it was only a matter of time.  Following the imaginary line of trajectory the
bullets followed, Rick’s gaze came across Corporal standing not twenty meters away with a pistol in his hand.

     Nearly fifteen hours after the first bullet had hit Sergeant, the squad had finally broken contact from whoever it was that was chasing them.  Now they
were trying to keep Sergeant alive, but he was hanging on by a mere thread.
     “That’s it, we’re out of IVs bags and bandages.”  Private 108 announced
     “It won’t matter if he goes in to shock again.”  Rick said.
     “Even if he lives he will just slow us down.”  Said Private 88.
     “So you would have left him then?”
     “Wrong answer, you don’t go and leave your buddies.”
     “Oh no, Sergeant has stopped breathing!”  Private 108 shouted.
     “!#%&!”  Rick shouted as he began to perform CPR on the gargoyle.  “Come on Sarge, don’t die on me, pull through.”

     Sitting on one of the numerous buildings that make up the skyline of New York City, Brooklyn was enjoying his solitude.
     “Hey Brooklyn, what’s up?” asked Broadway as he landed next to Brooklyn.
     “Not much.”
     “Nice night isn’t it?”
     “I’m surprised you managed to break away from Angela long enough to notice”.
     “Yeah, Angela and I have been getting kind of hot and heavy lately.  In fact Goliath almost caught us tonight.  Luckily we were able to sneak away
before he saw us.”
     “Lucky you.”  Brooklyn said with out even bothering to look up at Broadway.
     “Yeah.  That’s why Angela and I were wondering if you could do us a favor?”
     “What kind of favor?”
     “Well if you could tell Goliath that Angela and I went for a patrol when we really didn’t.  That way we can fool around with out having to worry about
him walking in on us.”
     “You want me to lie to Goliath just so you and Angie can fool around.”
     “Well not lie to him really.”
     “Then just what are you saying?”
     “That you let help to keep Goliath out of our hair for just one night so that we can spend some quality time together.”
     Oh great, Brooklyn thought, just what I need, someone asking me to lie to Goliath just so his daughter can make out with her boyfriend.
     “Sorry, but I have to say no.”
     “What?  Come on Brooklyn, why are you doing this to me?”
     “Look man, just because you want to go and make out with your girlfriend doesn’t mean I have to go and lie to Goliath.”
     “Hey no need to be crude, besides I’m not asking you to lie, just distract Goliath.”
     “The last time I lied to Goliath, he was nearly enslaved by Demona.  The last thing I want to do is to lie to him about his daughter and her boyfriend
getting it on.  So I’m not going to be you’re accomplice for your little antics.”
     “Come on Brooklyn, what’s your problem?”
     “Problem?  What makes you think I have a problem?”
     “You’ve been having a real attitude the last few months.  What’s your problem?  Are you still upset about the fact Angela chose me over you?  Or
maybe it’s the fact that you’re your still upset about Maggie choosing Talon over you.”
     “No that’s not it.”
     “Than what?  Don’t take it out on me just because you haven’t found the right girl for you to get it on with.”
     Chuckling to himself, Brooklyn was half tempted to tell Broadway the truth just to watch the reaction on his face.
     “What’s so funny?”  Broadway asked.
     “Don’t you have any more respect for your second in command than to have him distract Goliath just so you can fool around?  Besides I don’t need
Angie to teach me about desire.”  Brooklyn said as he stood up to leave.
     “Second in command.  Oh come off it, its not like Goliath is going to be away from New York anytime soon.  Besides we’re rookery brothers, you
never used to use your position on me and Lex before.”
     Its just as I figured, they really don’t look up to me; they still see me as a hatchling like them.  Well its time I asserted my self then, Brooklyn thought
     “Look, Broadway, I’m not going to help you out.  End of discussion.  Now I want to be alone for a while, so don’t bother following me and try to
change my mind.”  With that Brooklyn leapt from the roof.
     “Hey wait up.  What did you mean you don’t need Angela to teach you about desire?”  Broadway shouted as he too took to the air.
     “I’m not kidding Brooklyn, I want an answer.  Did you and Angela?  Well you know.”
     “I don’t want to talk about it.”
     “Come on Brooklyn, tell me.  I deserve to know.”
     “I said I didn’t want to talk about it!”
     “You sneaky !@#$%^!  When?  Why?  How could you?”  Broadway shouted as the two landed on a nearby roof.
     As soon as they had landed Brooklyn swung around and landed a punch right to Broadway’s face.  Taken by surprise, Broadway lost his balance,
fell on his back and began to slide down the slant of the roof.
     “I told you to just leave me alone!”  Brooklyn shouted as he flew off in to the night.
     Landing on one of the battlements, Broadway made his return to the castle.
     “Hey good looking.”  Angela called to Broadway as he landed.
     “Eeep.  Broadway, what happened to your eye?  Are you alright?”
     “A fist that has Brooklyn attached to it.”  Broadway replied dryly.
     “Why did he do that?”
     “I don’t know, all I know is that he flew off after punching me.”
     “Who punched you?”  Asked Elisa as she walked in on the conversation.
     “Brooklyn.”  Filled in Broadway as Angela put some ice to his black eye.

     An hour later, Rick was exhausted, but there was still one more thing he had to do.  Reaching up to Sergeants head, Rick slowly and gently closed
his eyes for the last time.
     With out even looking up Rick said “PVT 108, go and get the rest of the squad.”
     “No need.  We are all here.  We saw what happened.”  Corporal spoke.
     “I told you we should have left him, he wouldn’t have suffered.”  Private 88 said.
     “At ease.”  Corporal directed towards the Private.
     “Sergeant is dead.  Now what do we do?”
     “I said at ease!”  Corporal said more forcefully this time.
     “Who’s going to lead us?  We might as well give up.”
     Grabbing PVT 88’s shirt, Rick slapped him in a way that would have made Patton proud.
     “Listen up all of you.  You claim to be soldiers, but I’ve yet to see that.  Soldiers work together as a team, even when scared.  Well starting right
now that’s how I’m going to teach you how to act like, like soldiers.”
     Letting go of Private 88, Rick turned to face Corporal.
     “CPL, take two men and dig a grave, we will give SGT a proper burial.”
     Looking at Rick, Corporal contemplated his words for a moment.  Over the past several months Sergeant had been their leader, the one they all
looked to.  And even though he wouldn’t admit it to the others, Corporal had begun to see how Sergeant was losing faith, becoming discouraged at
always running away and yet still being hunted down.  But now came along Rick, he had confidence, leadership ability, and fighting ability.  In short,
he was like Sergeant, but better.  He was what they needed if they were going to survive.  Realizing that now with Sergeant dead, the rest of the squad
would look to him for guidance, Corporal decided to set the example.
     “It will be ready with in the hour.”  Corporal said as he stood up straight and snapped off a salute to Rick.  “Private 88, 93, you two are with me.”
     True to his word, Corporal had the grave dug with in the hour.  Very efficient Rick noted as the squad gathered around for the funeral.
     Watching as they laid Sergeant’s cold body in to the ground, Rick thought back to the times he had done the same for people who he had served
     “I know I didn’t know Sergeant nearly as well as the rest of the squad did, but I can understand how you feel.  I have buried many comrades of
mine in graves just like this.  I know he was your leader, and your friend, but most importantly he was one of you.  You guys are a family.”
     Having finished his speech, Rick nodded to Corporal.
     “We will miss Sergeant.  He was our leader, our friend, one of us.  He helped us to survive these long months while we were being hunted, and
now for him the hunt is over.  The worst part of his death was that he didn’t get to die heroically or even in battle, but from an ambush.  However, some
good has come from his death.”  Despite all the funny looks the rest of the squad sent him, Corporal continued on.
     “The reason we are able to bury Sergeant here now is because someone showed us the true meaning of what being a squad is about.  Someone who
can help us to continue to survive.”  Bowing down his head, Corporal tossed a hand full of dirt in to the grave and said one final farewell to Sergeant.
     After the funeral, the squad returned to its encampment.  As Private 93 headed out on his roving guard duty shift, Rick pulled Corporal aside and
out of earshot from everyone else.
     “CPL, I know you’re willing to accept me as your new leader, but what about the rest of the squad?”
     “They will follow orders, especially from me.  Besides, once they realize that you will be a better leader they will want to follow you.”
     “What makes you think I’m a better leader?”
     “You have confidence, something that Sergeant did not have.  You can fight very well, and can probably teach us how to fight as well.  That was
something Sergeant could not do.  Also, you have leadership ability, you knew how to use just the right amount of force to get Private 88 to follow
orders, and you knew what was wrong with this squad.”
     “If you guys are willing to accept me as one of you, then I will be your squad leader, and I will teach you how to survive.”

     The night had been a long one, but now morning was finally coming.  Corporal already had the squad up and on alert, ready should they be attacked
at first light.  He is good, Rick thought, I can see why Sarge relied on him so much.  I wonder if Sarge knew how good he had it?
    An hour after first light, Corporal called the squad together to address them.
    “Listen up.  While we were moving yesterday, Sergeant told me that if he didn’t make it, that he thought Rick would be a good choice to lead us out
of trouble.”
    Rick noticed that PVT 108 had caught the obvious lie.  At no time yesterday did SGT and CPL discuss who should take command.
    “I agree with Sergeant’s decision.  Right now Rick has more combat experience than all of us put together.  You saw how he handled things yesterday,
it is because of him that we survived.”
    Turning to face Rick, Corporal asked, “What are your orders?”
    Realizing just what it was that CPL was trying to do, Rick quickly organized his thoughts.
    “First, break camp.  Second, we’ll move out in thirty minutes.  But we’ll stay on the ground to avoid detection.  Third, we’ll stop after four hours for
    “You heard the orders, move out.”  Corporal said to the squad.
     The day was clear and warm as the sun shone down on Rick and his squad.  Having stopped to eat, Rick looked at the gargoyles around him and
noticed for the first time just how similar all of them, him self included, looked.  How strange, He thought, that we would all look so much alike.
Obviously there is a higher power involved here.
    They were all the same color; their skin was a greenish gray color that meant they could blend in with either forest or urban terran.  As for their skin,
it wasn’t scaly, feather, or anything, but smooth, like that of a humans.  They also all possessed the same type of wing structure, a bat type of wing that
was hinged between the back and shoulder.  While flexing certain back muscles could move it; it would take far to much effort to attempt to flap them
like a bird.  The part that Rick liked best how they could be wrapped around the person like a cape.  Their faces were for the most part human looking,
with brown hair, except for PVT 108’s; who was a soft blonde, although each person had slightly different lengths.  Private 88 had the shortest, while
Private 108 had the longest, even though it was only shoulder length.  On top of that everyone had the same eye color, a sharp, deep blue.
    “Is something wrong?”  PVT 108 asked, “You’ve been looking at us for a while now.”
    “No, just thinking how much you guys look like one another, and with the names you have, it’s hard to keep straight who’s who.  We need to give
you guys some new names.”
    “What’s wrong with the ones we have now?”  Asked Private 97.
    “Because with the ones you have now, and with it being tattooed on your right arm, I feel like I’m talking to a bunch of robots.  CPL, we’ll call you
Harper.  PVT 88, we’ll call you Machiavelli, PVT 93; your Hannibal, PVT 97; your Duke, and as for you PVT 108, you’ll be Athena.”
    “That is a wise decision.”  Harper said.  “Before the change we didn’t have as difficult a time telling each other apart.”
    “What do you mean before the change?”  Rick asked.
    “We did not always look like monsters as we do now.  Several months ago we used to look human
     “Brooklyn!  Where have you been the last two days?”  Goliath demanded from his second in command.
     “I’m sorry Goliath, I had to be alone to clear my head.”
     “You were gone two days with out letting anyone know where you were.  You just left all your duties unperformed, and you struck one of your
rookery brothers.  Your conduct of late has been very unbecoming of a second in command.”
     “I know and I’m sorry Goliath.”
     “I’m not the one you should be apologizing to.  I think you need to talk to Broadway; he is in the TV room right now.  When you are done there
we will talk some more.”
     Sighing Brooklyn knew that Goliath was right, even though he really didn’t feel like doing it.  Walking towards the TV room, Brooklyn ran in to
     “Brooklyn, glad to see your ok.  Now what the hell did you punch Broadway for?”
     “I lost my temper with him.  He just kept pushing my buttons.”
     “That’s no excuse, he’s one of us.  He have to depend on each other.”
     “Please don’t Lex.  You’re starting to sound like Goliath.”
     “Well what ever your reason was, all I know is that you had better pull your act together.  Neither Goliath or Hudson are real happy with you at
the moment.”
     “Is Broadway still in the TV room?”
     Reaching out to open the door to the TV room, Brooklyn stopped as he heard Broadway and Angela in a heated conversation.
     “Angela, please tell me the truth.  It won’t change how I feel about you.”
     “I am telling you the truth.  Nothing happened.  I don’t know what Brooklyn is talking about.”
     Now may not be the best time to walk in on them Brooklyn thought.  Guess I had better go and get my lecture from Goliath.  The worst part about
this whole thing is that I know I’m wrong and there is no excuse for it, but damn it, I’m tired of living here with these guys, tired of all the responsibility,
tired of not having any prospects for the future.
     Sitting around the small fire that they had built, the gargoyles were enjoying the fresh mongoose they had caught.  As each one worked on one task
or another to get ready for the next day, Harper began to play a little tune from the flute he had made.
     “You’re definitely getting better.”  Duke said.  “You too Hannibal, that poem you wrote last night was good.”
     “I guess everyone has some type of hidden talent.”  Added Athena.  “Speaking of which, Rick, how is it that you are so good at surviving in the
woods like this?”
     “For that matter, how and when did you receive your military training?  You’re better than any of us.”  Hannibal asked.
     “Well for starters I’ve been at it a lot longer than you guys.”  Rick answered.
     “What do you mean?”
     “Just that.  I was in the army for almost forty five years before I retired.”
     “You mean I have to be as old as you before I can retire?”  Machiaevlli asked as he returned to the group after being relieved from guard duty by
     “Only if you live to the ripe old age of seventy like me.”
     “Seventy?  Good grief you’re old.”
     “Seventy?  What happened to the other twenty five years?”  Asked Athena.
     “What do you mean what happened to the other twenty five years?”
     “You said you’re seventy years old, yet you were only in the army for forty five years.  You didn’t spend your whole life in the army?”  Athena asked
with a confused look on her face.
     “No, because I didn’t come in to this world the same way you guys did.”
     “Hold on here.  Now I’m really confused, just what the heck are you talking about?”  Machiavelli interrupted.
     “Think back to before you were turned in to gargoyles.  What was your life like, what do you remember?”
     “All we remember is the military, there was nothing before that.”  Hannibal said.
     “The reason you don’t know anything outside of your life before the military is because you never had one.”
     “Now I’m really, really confused.”  Machiavelli said.
     “That’s a natural state for you.”  Athena unexpectedly shot at him before turning to Rick again.  “What are you trying to tell us?  That we had a different
life before the military, like we had a different life before we became gargoyles?”
     “Yes and no.”
     “If this keeps up I’m going to go back out on guard duty just so I don’t get a headache.”  Machiavelli announced.
      “Do you know what a child is?”  Rick asked.
     The four other gargoyles nodded.
     “Well that is what makes you different than “normal” people you may know.  A “normal” person is born and grows up to adulthood.  Unfortunately that
is some thing you guys missed out on, instead you were grown in a test tube until your body was fully-grown.  After you came out you were put to work
doing what you had been designed to do, to be a solider.”  Rick explained.
     “Test tubes, grown?  You mean we’re all clones?”  Hannibal asked.
     “That makes sense.  It’s why we all look so much alike.”  Athena said excitedly as the new information changed her thinking and opened her mind to
new possibilities.
     “So that’s why you know so many things, after you retired from the military you started a new life.”  Harper said breaking his long silence.

     Lying with his hands under his head, Rick found that sleep eluded him.  Not since he had participated in the massacre at No Gun Ri had he had so
much trouble sleeping.  As he closed his eyes for the eighth time that night, memories of the past crept in to his mind.
     “Sergeant Anderson, you are found guilty of assaulting an officer.  However, instead of just handing out punishment to you, I have a choice for you.”
The Judge Advocate said.  “You can either accept the punishment for your crimes, or you can volunteer for a special project the army has.”
     “Sir, I’ll volunteer for the special project.”  Rick said.
     “Very well then.  MPs, remove the prisoner until transfer tomorrow morning.”
     A few days later Rick was lying naked on a table of some sort as doctors hovered around him.  They had said that it would not hurt much, but that
had been a lie.  He didn’t know what they were doing to him, but from what he could gather it had something to do with making him a “much better”
    He had followed orders and fired on civilians at No Gun Ri, later, when things had settled down somewhat, Rick had punched out his commanding
officer.  For that he was courts-martialed and presented with that faithful choice, do two years in a military prison and receive a bad conduct discharge
or volunteer for a special top-secret Army project.
    The officer in charge of the project had told him point blank that they had no idea how long the life extension project could extend his life, only a guess,
which hovered around adding twenty years to his normal life.  Well that had proved to be incorrect, as near as Rick could tell he was in the same shape
today as he was when he was twenty-five.
     Awaking in a cold sweat, a sudden thought occurred to him.  Things happen for a reason.  That must be the answer, he thought.   From that special
project he had been given a chance to redeem himself, although it took nearly twenty years for it to happen.  If he had not been in such good shape then
he never would have been selected for the green berets and been assigned to long-range recon patrols in Vietnam.  And it was on the return trip from
one of these LRRPs that he had been given the chance to make up for what he did in Korea.  If it had not been for him, then the Army would never have
acknowledged the massacre of the village at Me Lei.
     Rick was never one to believe in fate or destiny, but suddenly he had reason to question that belief.  Here he was, an old soldier that had been turned
into a gargoyle.  On top of that he had meet a bunch of other soldiers who like him had been given no real choice in the matter, and had been turned into
gargoyles.  They were brought together by the fact that they had no past, only a future, one that they could make together.
     I guess that’s what fate has in store for me, to teach these other gargoyles how to be something other than just fighters, to teach them how to live.  Rick
    “Goliath, we need to talk.”  Xanatos said as he interrupted the Gargoyle’s reading of Mark Twain’s A Private History of a Campaign that Failed.
     “Now what is it Xanatos?  The last time you said that Rick was running lose in the castle.”
     “Its about Brooklyn.”
     Ignoring the stern warning look that Goliath shot him, David pressed on.  “I know about that little scrape between Brooklyn and Broadway.”
     “Yes, and we dealt with it in the clan.  There is no need for you to become involved.”
     “I disagree with you on that.  Don’t you see how Brooklyn’s been acting the past several months?”
     Realizing that Xanatos wasn’t going to go away anytime soon, Goliath closed his book and put it down.
     “What do you mean?”
     “Ever since you returned from Avalon I’ve noticed a change in Brooklyn.  It’s becoming more and more pronounced each day.  That little fight with
Broadway was just the latest sign.”
     “Change, in what way?”
     “While you were gone, he was the big man on the block.  Now that you are back, he has been knocked down a notch.  He did seem to be the most
interested in Angela, but when she chose Broadway, well that must hurt his ego.  Which is par for the coarse when it comes to his love life.  Then came
along Rick, someone who has been around the world and went off to do his own thing.  That is something Brooklyn has never done, he’s either been in
tenth century Scotland or in modern day New York.”
     “What is your point Xanatos.”?
     “That he needs some time to spread his wings, to sow his wild oats, to discover himself.  In short, he needs to leave the castle for a while.  What I
have is a constructive way for him to focus his energies.  I have received reports from across the country that there are a bunch of unknown gargoyles
who remain flesh during the day that are running lose.”
     “What?  How long have you know about this?”  Goliath demanded.
     “Not long.  The information was unconfirmed for a while, and its sketchy at best.”
     “Still you should have told us as soon as you received this information.”
     “Told you?  Told you what?  Don’t you get it Goliath; we need to find out what is going on here.  Rick was the only new Gargoyle that we had ever
encountered, with the twist that he doesn’t turn to stone, and now all of a sudden there are reports of a lot more of them popping up.  Something is going
on here, and we need to discover what it is.”
     “I suppose you have a plan then Xanatos.”
     Smiling, Xanatos replied, “When haven’t I?”

     Looking at the carnage he had just created, Sergeant smiled at the blood that covered his hands.  Both he and his two subordinates, Private 75, and
Private 98 had done a good job of taking out the these humans that had come to hunt them down.  Just then a shadow momentarily fell across Sergeant
and a slight wind rustled his hair.  Snapping his head up and around, Sergeant soon saw what had caused the disturbance.
     “I see you don’t like humans very much.”  Spoke a red headed female gargoyle that had landed near by.
     “I don’t like anything that threatens me.”  Returned Sergeant.
     “Then how would you like to have the ability to never be threatened again, Sergeant 14.”  Demona said as she read the tattoo on his right shoulder.

To be continued ...