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Chapter 4: Games [Part 3: A Dark Hunt]
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by KnightMysterio

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Castle Wyvern...

Sunset...

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                The fading light washed over the sky, shrouding the castle in a firey orange blaze.  Slowly, that blaze faded, vanishing as it was covered by the darkness.

 

                The shells of the eight gargoyles cracked, letting out the creatures they housed, all of them quickly gathering on the balcony of the tower upon which they slept.

 

                "So what's the plan, Goliath?" Broadway asked.

 

                Goliath folded his arms, cupping his chin in a talon as he thought.  "All right.  We know that Matt and Elisa's former superior have both been kidnapped by Jackal and Hyena.  It is possible that they are all still in the city, so the best thing for now I think is to split up into groups of two.  I know we didn't have much time to search last night, but if we all search in as wide an area as possible, we could be able to find them."

 

                "Hopefully," Brooklyn muttered.

 

                Goliath chuckled weakly.  "Alright then.  Hudson and Bronx, start in the North.  Lexington, Brooklyn, you take the East.  Angela, Broadway, you take the West.  Elisa and I shall take the South.  Owen has promised to keep an eye on things here."

 

                 They all nodded and started to head off, when Lexington remembered something he had been working on.

 

                "Wait, hold on a sec!  I wanna give everybody something!"

 

                Hudson frowned.  "Lad, we have little time te waste..."

 

                "This'll be helpful, trust me!" Lex said as he ran into the castle.

 

                The others stared after him in confusion.  Brooklyn thought for a moment, and nodded.  "Okay.  If this is what I think it is, then it will be helpful."

 

                Angela frowned.  "You know what it is?"

 

                Brooklyn nodded.  "Yeah.  He's got a little lab set up near the kitchen, and he's been working on a lot of stuff that might be useful on our patrols."

 

                "Using what?" Angela asked.

 

                Brooklyn shrugged.  "Old tech.  Xanatos upgraded almost everything in the building a few days after we moved back in, remember that?  Lex asked if he could have it to see what he could do with it, and he's been working on it ever since."

 

                Goliath frowned deeply.  "Why didn't you tell us about this?  How long have you known?"

 

                "He wanted it kept a secret.  He had a few ideas that he wanted to keep as a surprise.  I helped him field test some of it, that's all."

 

                Goliath and the others seemed to accept that answer, so they all waited for a bit.  After a minute more had passed, Lex came back out, carrying eight small crystals, each no larger than a honeybee, all with small chains connected to each one.

 

                Lex clambered quickly back up to the others, giving each of them one of what he was carrying.

 

                "They're communicators," Lex said, grinning, "The 'gem' splits into to two parts, one to talk in, one to listen from.  I made them to replace the ones we lost when the Hunters blew up the clock tower.  They have almost double the range of the old ones, so we should be able to keep in touch with each other from anywhere in the city."

 

                Goliath grinned, seperating the earpiece from his crystal and setting it up.  "Excellent Lexington.  Now, let's be off."

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Around the same time...

A warehouse owned by Nightstone Unlimited...

-----------------------------------------------------------------

 

                Hyena, Jackal, and Wolf watched in amused silence as the new mutates conversed with each other, trying to figure out what to do next.

 

                "This is ridiculous, Matt!" Beth hissed, "We can't attack the clan!  They're our friends!  Well, yours and mine at least."

 

                Margot snarled.  "Do you have a better plan, little girl?  If we don't do what Sevarius says, he'll burn a hole in our chests with these damn bombs!"

 

                Beth shook her head, ignoring Margot.  "Please, Matt,"

 

                Matt sighed, shaking his head.  "As much as I hate to admit it, Margot's right.  We have to go after them.  But we don't have to WIN.  The best thing I can think of to do, for now, is to find the various members of the clan and rough them up.  If we can, we should try to get them alone so we can explain what's going on.  Any problems with that, Captain?"

 

                Chavez shook her head.  "None.  It's a good plan," she said.  She was willing to let Matt lead things for now, since he knew the most about what was going on.

 

                Wolf, getting impatient, snarled over to them, "You bums figure out what you wanna do?"

 

                The five mutates glared at him.  But Matt was the only one who spoke.  "Yeah, we have."

 

                Jackal chuckled.  "Good.  Then how are we splitting up?"

 

                Matt sighed, and said, "Chavez and I will go South.  Beth and Wolf will head North.  You two loonies are gonna go East, while the Yales will take the West.  The clan's most likely on patrol right now, so it's best to start from all angles."

 

                "Works for me," Hyena said, chuckling.

 

                "Me too," said Jackal, "How's it sound to you, Fido?"

 

                Wolf snorted, then grinned at Beth, who gulped nervously.  Chavez flashed a look at both of them and snarled at Wolf, who just chuckled and looked out a window.  She sighed and turned back to Beth, asking, "You gonna be okay alone with this guy?"

 

                Beth smiled weakly.  "Yeah, I think so.  He just makes me nervous, is all."

 

                Chavez still wasn't convinced.  "You know to how shock him if he gets too fresh with you, right?"

 

                Now it was Beth's turn to snarl.  "I said I can handle it, Maria."

 

                Chavez smiled and nodded, backing off.  She whispered something to Matt, who nodded, and said.  "All right then, let's go."

 

-------------------------------------------

As everyone sets off...

At the Statue Of Liberty...

-------------------------------------------

 

                Hacker and Varua both waited anxiously on the Statue's torch for their newest ally to arrive.  Varua paced angrily, while Hacker tried to look relaxed and failed as he leaned up against the railing.

 

                After several minutes of watching Varua pace, Hacker had taken more than enough of it. 

 

                "Varua, just CHILL already!  You're gonna wear a hole in the floor!"

 

                Varua snarled.  "That idiot gets assigned to us, and then he's late getting here.  Who does he think he is?"

 

                "I think I'm pretty damn good at what I do, little Titan."

 

                Varua snarled and looked up.  Standing on the torch's tip, balancing himself easily on one foot, was a handsome, pale-faced young man clad in tight-fitting blue jeans that showed off his muscular legs and a bright red windbreaker.  His features were smooth and angular, almost Latino in appearance, save for his head of long, firey red hair.

 

                Varua sneered.  "Valdez The Efreet.  Where the HELL have you been?"

 

                Valdez chuckled, and hopped down between Hacker and Varua.  "I've been checking things out, doing my homework.  Unlike SOME people, I believe in doing my homework and knowing what I'm up against before blindly charging in with my fists."

 

                Varua growled, her eyes flashing underneath her hat.

 

                Valdez smirked, and turned to Hacker.  "Anyway, we've got a new wrinkle."

 

                Hacker sighed.  "Now what?"

 

                "The boss was right, it was Sevarius.  I spotted Matt and Chavez, but only after I recognized their voices.  They were full mutates."

 

                Varua frowned.  "Fuck," Hacker muttered.  This couldn't get any worse.

 

                "Oh, it gets worse, by the way."

 

                Hacker gave him a pained look.  "How much worse?"

 

                Valdez chuckled weakly.  "Maza's baby sister and BOTH Yales have also been turned into mutates.  The suits Sevarius have them wearing contain some sort of explosive that will detonate if they don't do what he says."

 

                Hacker moaned weakly.  "Like I need this to be more complicated..."

 

                Varua shook her head.  "Can you deal with the explosives?"

 

                "Easily.  Hell, even you could rip them out and get them away before whatever failsafes there are kick in and kill somebody.  But the problem is, right now Sevarius is rewarding the Pack for their cooperation by sending everyone on a gargoyle hunt.  Both clan and mutates are in groups of two right now, so we're gonna have to deal with both mutates under kill orders, and a clan of gargs who aren't very fond of Illuminati members like us at the moment..."

 

                Hacker shook his head.  "That doesn't matter right now.  I know for a fact that you bums are stronger than any one mutate or garg, and you're both quick enough to handle more than one.  Right now, priority one is getting things OUT of Sevarius's control and back under our own.  Got it?"

 

                Varua nodded.  "I still say I don't need this twerp."

 

                Valdez smirked.  "Boss says otherwise, so your Neanderthal opinion doesn't matter."

 

                Varua snarled, her fists clenched tightly. 

 

                Hacker wished he had a referee's whistle.  "CHILL!  BOTH OF YOU!  Just get going and get everyone to meet us back at the meeting area!  I have an offer for all of them."

 

                Varua and Valdez both gave each other murderous looks, but nodded.

 

                Hacker nodded.  "Good.  Now.  What are the groupings of gargs, Pack, and mutates?"

 

                Valdez told him.

 

                "FUCK!!!  Efreet, take Beth, Wolf, and the Psycho Twosome!  Titan, you're on the rest!  Make them hunt you if you have to so we can get them where we need them!  GO!"

 

                Varua disappeared in a blur, running down the steps of the deserted monument, moving so fast she passed over the water without sinking.  Valdez flew off into the sky, turning into a massive fireball.  Hacker sighed weakly, and ran down the stairs, cursing how out of shape he was as he started his own preparations.  One way or another Sevarius's plan ended TONIGHT.

 

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North end of the island...

15 minutes later...

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                "Ooch, Bronx, laddie, let's rest here," Hudson groaned.  He set the massive gargoyle beast down on a nearby rooftop, and collapsed near him.  The elderly gargoyle chuckled.  "I'm gettin' on in years, don'ye agree, Bronx?  Gettin' too old fer these kinda patrols."

 

                Bronx wurfed, nuzzling Hudson.  Hudson chuckled, scritching the beast's ears.  "Aye, and definetly too old to lug around a fat oaf like ye."

 

                Bronx wurfed good-naturedly, and went to rest his head on Hudson's leg.  Hudson chuckled, and patted his companion, the pats giving way to idle stroking.  "Good boy," he said.  Bronx wurfed again, wagging his tail in agreement that he was, indeed, a very good boy.

 

                Hudson sighed, staring out at the stars, lost in his own thoughts.  "Do ye think I should tell them, lad?  Do ye think I should let them know whut I'm plannin..."

               

                Bronx looked up at him curiously.  Plans?  What plans?  Hudson looked down at his old friend and chuckled softly.  "Nae...  Nae, yuir right.  It's best that I keep it a secret for now... At least until I'm ready te actually do it..."

 

                Bronx frowned inwardly, but settled for just nuzzling Hudson and waiting for him to catch his breath.  Still though, he was worried.  He had only seen Hudson this thoughtful once before, and that was when he had severely injured by an invasion of the castle back before the New Time, and almost died...

 

                A rooftop away, upwind from the two of them, two figures crouched in the shadows, one male, one female.  And both looked like they'd rather be doing something else other than this.

 

                "Well.  Only a few minutes out and we've already found a couple of them," said the woman, Beth Maza, sighing weakly.  She spread her wings slightly and crouched on the edge of the roof, debating what to do next.  She sniffed the air slightly, her animal senses telling her that one was old, carrying a blade, wearing armor and old cloth pants.  The other one was most definetly more animalistic than the first, but also had the same kind of scent that told her that it was a gargoyle.  "An old one and a beast...  I think they're Hudson and Bronx..."

 

                Wolf nodded.  "It is.  I spotted them a bit earlier."

 

                She sighed weakly, and shook her head, caping her wings around herself.  Whatever else may have happened, she wasn't above appreciating her new body's strengths.  Her senses were amazing, and she felt stronger than she ever had before, especially in her legs.  And gliding, the feeling of the wind flowing on her wings...  Simply wonderful.  She wondered if it was like this for Derek, and wondered how he could stand staying underground so much.  But such thoughts were quickly overshadowed by the fact that he, at least, had a choice in the matter.  If they didn't get away from Sevarius and get these bombs off of their outfits, they'd more than likely be forced to live in his laboratory on the outskirts of the city.

 

                Wolf, for his part, was enjoying his work.  It had taken a bit of effort to keep up with the cheetah mutate, mainly because she was so damn FAST, but it was worth it.  She had been a babe to begin with, and in Wolf's opinion, her mutation only enhanced how good she looked.  And the figure-hugging leotard that Sevarius had provided for her only flattered her luxurious figure. 

 

                He was glad that the little tiger-twerp Bluestone had put her with Beth.  After he had gotten away from Hakon, he had finally realized the one thing he missed about being human: THE WOMEN.  As a member of the television show, The Pack, he had gotten kiddie show groupies falling over themselves to share a night with him.  But now, as a mutate werewolf, he was lucky if he could kidnap a hooker and get her someplace private long enough to have his way with her.

 

                Gods it was frustrating.

 

                But here he was, all alone on a roof with a utter hotty of a catgirl, one of the finest pieces of ass he's seen in a while... if he kept it quiet, the old fart and the hound wouldn't hear him.  And as for Sevarius... To hell with him.  That maniac could drop dead as far as he was concerned.  He was done being a lackey, he'd done it too many times!!  First for Xanatos and Fox, then for that damn Coyote robot and that lunatic Emir, then to his ancestor, some weirdo viking whose name he'd forgotten, and now to the lunatic that made him like this to begin with.  He was going to do something HE wanted to do for a change!

 

                Slowly, he crept up behind Beth.  The cheetah-mutate was still lost in thought, staring at the old man who was looking up at the stars.  He smiled inwardly.  If all goes well, soon he'd be having the time of his life...

 

                The old gargoyle got up suddenly, apparently done with his thinking.  He turned towards the two of them and he froze.

 

                Oh fuck... he thought.

 

                Hudson chuckled softly, and slowly got to his feet, wincing as he felt his joints creaking.  He sighed, and decided to double back around to see if he had missed anything before moving on.  But when he turned to face the opposite roof, he saw Wolf closing in on what, from the distant shadows, looked like his friend Talon.

 

                "LOOK OUT, LAD!!!" he roared

 

                The mutate whirled, spreading its wings, and Hudson was shocked to see that it was a female, cheetah-spotted, someone other than Maggie.

 

                Dragon help us, has Sevarius started his experiments again?! he thought, as Bronx leaped to the other roof to help this new mutate.  The cheetah roared in a mix of shock and anger, and shot a lightning bolt at Wolf.  The werewolf dodged back, only to get tackled by Bronx.  The great beast snarled, his eyes glowing brightly as he tried to sink his fangs into Wolf's neck.

 

                But the former Pack member was still stronger.  He grabbed Bronx by the throat and threw him aside, knocking him through a side railing and sending him sliding off the roof.  But from the sound of crunching stone, first a long, steady sound as the beast fell downward, then slower, steady thumping, Bronx had caught himself and was starting back up. 

 

                The cheetah snarled, and started to fire lightning bolt after lightning bolt at Wolf, but he just rolled underneath and dodged around them all, his years of martial arts training coming into play as he slowly approached her.  Hudson roared and lunged across the rooftop, slashing his sword powerfully downward.  Wolf just BARELY saw it in time and backstepped to avoid it, the force of Hudson's swing cutting a groove into the cement.

 

                Sadly for him, he stepped back into a powerful lightning bolt from his intended victim.

 

                Sensing her chance, Beth kept firing bolt after bolt into Wolf, the werewolf screaming and roaring with each hit, his fur starting to char as she pushed him back up against an air conditioning motorhousing.

 

                Wolf groaned weakly, visibly suffering, and slumped over against the motorhousing, deciding that it'd be better to pretend he was unconcious.

 

                Beth sighed weakly, falling to her knees.  "It's just too much..." she sighed, shaking her head sadly.

 

                Hudson frowned at her, "Lass, are ye all right?"

 

                Beth looked up at him and smiled weakly.  "Yeah.  But I'm afraid that you're not gonna be.  If I don't fight you, a bomb in my costume will go off."

 

                Hudson frowned as he looked her over.  The reasoning behind her appearance here with Wolf explained why she didn't seem afraid of him, but he still didn't understand why she thought there was an explosive on her costume.  Her costume was form-fitting, made of a silken, durable material designed to hold up under stress, with a glinting, glassy-surfaced cat-symbol on the chest.  But there was no place, at least that he could see, that a bomb could fit.

 

                "Lass... Where on you is this bomb... Maybe I could help..."  Hudson knew NOTHING about explosives, but felt he had to say something.

 

                Beth sighed, and tapped the stylized cat-symbol on her chest.  Hudson frowned.  "It looks like it's just glass."

 

                Beth frowned, and looked down at her chest.  "But I saw the others... they came near Sevarius and it started to burn them..."

 

                Hudson thought for a moment, cringing inwardly when she mentioned 'others.'  "I saw once, on the television, a science program.  It showed a beam of heat and light being focused through a glass, strengthening it te the point of burning what it was being focused on.  Mebbe that's what he used..."

 

                Beth frowned, thinking It sounds reasonable enough...  And there really is no place for any kind of explosive on this outfit, even a small one...

 

                She sighed, starting to feel humiliated for being tricked so easily.  She tore the cat-symbol off, and snarled, seeing that it was nothing more than a shaped glass panel.  She threw it aside, and it shattered.  Bronx, who had climbed back up just as Hudson and Beth started talking, sniffed it once and grunted, heading back to Hudson's side.

 

                Hudson nodded, satisfied.  "I thought so... But why would Sevarius go to all this trouble..." He shook his head.  "Forgive me, lass.   I'm forgetting me manners.  I'm..."

 

                "You're Hudson, I know," Beth said, smiling weakly, "And the lump at your feet is Bronx, right?"

 

                Bronx wurfed at the mention of his name.  Hudson blinked.  "How did ye..."

 

                Beth sighed.  "Elisa told me about you and the rest of the clan when I met her on her World Tour.  I'm Bethany Maza, her sister."

 

                Hudson's jaw actually fell open.  "Jalapena..." he muttered.    "Lass, how did this happen?"

 

                Beth shrugged.  "I was visiting our parents at the apartment they're currently staying at in the city, when I met the mutt over there in the elevator," she said, pointing to Wolf, who was still pretending to be unconcious.

 

                Wolf's face twitched in anger, but he stayed unmoving.

 

                Beth continued.  "He took me to Sevarius's place, where I and four others..."

 

                "Four others?!"

 

                Beth nodded.  "Yeah.  Me, Matt Bluestone, Captain Chavez, and Margot Yale and her husband.  He knocked us out with some kind of gas, injected us with the mutation serum, and tricked us all into thinking we had explosives on our chest so we'd help the Pack have their fun."

 

                Hudson shook his head.  This just keeps getting worse.  "The Pack, as well...  I'd best contact the others..."

 

                Beth blinked.  "You can do that from here?"

 

                Hudson nodded, and pulled the communicator 'gem' out from under his beard and pulling it apart.  Fumbling a little with it, he held one end in his ear, and spoke into it. 

 

                "Can anyone hear me, this is Hudson," he said.

 

-----------------------

Sevarius's Lair...

-----------------------

 

                Sevarius, who was listening in through the comm-link in Wolf's uniform, chuckled softly.  He hadn't expected his 'bomb' ruse to last all that long.  And he was ready for Hudson's attempt to communicate with the others.

 

                "Sorry, old boy.  It's not going to be that easy," he said, pressing a few buttons on his nearby computer console.  And on the roof of his hidden lab, a radio tower sent a signal directly to Hudson

 

-----------------------

The rooftop...

-----------------------

 

                Hudson cursed as his communicator suddenly erupted in static.  He frowned at it, and shrugged, putting it into his pocket.  "Must be too far away..."

 

                "Well... What will we do now, then?  The others are out there thinking that they have to fight the clan!!"

 

                Hudson shook his head.  "We just have to catch up with them, I suppose."

 

                Valdez suddenly appeared in a flash of fire, startling both of them.

 

                "Who..."

 

                "What the?!"

 

                Valdez chuckled.  "You want answers?  Then meet me in Central Park by mid-evening."

 

                Bronx snarled loudly.  Hudson brandished his sword as Beth cautiously stepped back, building up a lightning charge in her hands. 

 

                "Who are ye!?  Answer me!!" Hudson said.

 

                Valdez grinned wickedly.  "I am the second of thirteen, Valdez the Efreet.  Currently partnered with the one who gave Elisa her little back massage a few days ago."

 

                Hudson, upon realizing who this man was working with, roared thunderously, and lunged forward, thrusting his sword directly at the man's belly.  But Valdez vanished again, disappearing in a burst of fire, his laughter echoing through the canyons of the city.

 

                Beth frowned.  "'Back massage?'  What's he talking about?  What happened to Elisa?  Matt told me she was living at Castle Wyvern now, does that have something to do with it?"

 

                Hudson sighed, and patted Bronx on the head.  "He left out a few details, but aye, she is.  Ye'll see soon enough, lass.  Now c'mon.  Help me carry Bronx."

 

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South side warehouse district...

Ten minutes earlier...

-------------------------------------------

 

                Goliath and Elisa both landed on a warehouse roof, considering their next move.  Goliath stared around the harbor, wrinkling his nose slightly at the smell of rotted, moldy wood and diesel oil.  The air was cold, but not exceedingly so, just enough to give the air a chill.  (Of course, he had been to Norway in the middle of winter, so he barely noticed this.)  The solid, ridged roof of the warehouse, dark black metal that resembled a ribcage, was spotted here and there with patches of rust, and coated in a thin layer of moisture that made it difficult for his talons to get a good grip on it. 

 

                But it was quiet here.  There wasn't even wind.  Most of the humans had gone home for the evening, save for a trio of security guards.  So they could search here without great risk of being seen. 

 

                Goliath looked around briefly.  The guards, as far as he could see, were off at the far end of the group of warehouses, so they would be safe for now, and have freedom to talk about how to proceed.

 

                "All right.  Elisa, you and I will should start to..." he started to tell Elisa his plan, but when he look at her, she was staring out over the water, her wings caped about her shoulders, a sad expression on her face.

 

                "Elisa?  What is wrong?"

 

                She blinked in surprise, unaware at that time that she was being spoken to.  "Hnh?  I'm sorry, what?"

 

                "You looked introspective.  I was just wondering why," Goliath said, smiling.

 

                Elisa smiled, and shook her head.  "It's nothing... I'm just wondering if I could have prevented it somehow...  If that bitch Varua hadn't forced Puck to make this transformation permanent..."

 

                Goliath shook his head, still smiling.  "Elisa, as much as I would like to believe that you could have made a difference, Jackal and Hyena as a team are simply too dangerous to face alone, for humans or gargoyles.  You would have been taken along with them..."

 

                "I guess so..."

 

                Goliath smirked foxishly, a facial expression he had picked up from her.  "But look at it this way.  Now that you are a gargoyle, you have the physical power to help make sure those two maniacs pay for kidnapping Matt and Captain Chavez.  You don't have to rely on I and the rest of the clan as much." He chuckled softly, and added,  "Not that you needed much help from us to begin with.  You were already a match for Demona whenever you were the same species, and she's one of the deadliest women on the planet."

 

                Elisa smirked back at him, feeling a little better.  Goliath grinned, wrapping his wings around his lady love's shoulders, drawing her into his arms.  "Besides that, there are other advantages as well.  Such as our finally being able to be together in every possible way..."

 

                Elisa grinned, and wrapped her arms around Goliath's waist, her tail intertwining with his.  "Hmmm, there is that, yes..."

 

                Their lips met in a passionate kiss.  So absorbed were they in each other that they didn't notice two other winged figures land several feet away from them...

 

                Chavez and Matt circled the two lovebirds for a moment, then landed a few dozen feet away.  Chavez gave Matt a positively acidic look, causing the white-furred tiger mutate to gulp and chuckle nervously.

 

                "You left a few details out, Mister Bluestone.  You didn't tell us that Elisa was a gargoyle now," Chavez said, her face stone cold.  She was smiling inwardly, however, as she watched Matt fidget nervously.  She loved this effect she had on men, and had used it frequently in interrogations.  She was pleased to see that she still had this effect even as a mutate.

 

                "I was getting around to it," he finally answered.  A lame excuse, and he knew it.  He coughed, and quickly changed the subject.

 

                "Why did you want us here?" he asked.

 

                "Because of these," Chavez said, pointing to the glass symbol on her uniform.

 

                Matt frowned.  "The heat bomb.  So what?"

 

                Chavez shook her head.  "Bluestone, I think we're being faked out here.  If he's monitoring us, if he's keeping track of us, why isn't he activating these bombs?  We obviously aren't doing what we're told, here."

 

                Matt's frown deepened, and he looked thoughtful for a moment.  Chavez just stared at him until he worked it out.  It didn't take long for him to realize that he'd fallen so easily for such a basic trick.

 

                "Dammit... But if it wasn't these things, how did the Yales get burned?  And why go to the trouble of trying to trick us like that?"

 

                Chavez shook her head, and pulled the little glass symbol off of her costume, tossing it aside.  "I don't know.  There's a lot here I don't understand, but my best guess is that we're a distraction to keep the gargoyles occupied while Sevarius goes after someone else.  The 'heat bombs' were meant to keep us all scared."

 

                Matt tore the symbol off his costume, throwing it behind him.  The sound of it shattering was loud to his feline ears.  "Who else could that maniac be after?"

 

                Chavez sighed.  "I have no clue.  But our best bet right now is getting your gargoyle friends in on this.  And recovering the Yales before they do something stupid.  No doubt that they've been completely taken in by this ruse."

 

------------------------------

Sevarius's Hideout...

------------------------------

 

                Sevarius cursed.  This was falling apart much quicker than he had anticipated. 

 

                Perhaps I should not have gone with police officers... Ah well...  he thought, silently grateful for the Illuminati communications tech that he had pirated for this operation.  He disengaged the jamming signal, knowing that it'd be disrupting transmissions all over the city and not wanting it traced back here, and called Hyena and Jackal.

 

                "What's up, doc?" Jackal said, audibly irritated.

 

                "This better be good, Sevarius.  We just found the twerp and the beaked one," Hyena snarled.

 

                Before he could answer, Wolf's voice broke in.  From the sound of his ranting, he had been trying to contact him for quite some time now.

 

                "...DAMN YOU SEVARIUS, FIX YER DAMN RADIO!!"

 

                Sevarius just shook his head.  "Wolf, relax.  This is Sevarius, what seems to be the trouble?"

 

                "I'll tell you what's the trouble, you lunatic!!!  Your little bombs were fake!!  Why didn't you tell us?  They could have turned on us at any minute!!"

 

                "WHAT?!  Waitaminute!" Jackal said.

 

                "Fake??!?!  FAKE!!??  What the hell are you trying to pull on us, Sevarius?!" Hyena almost shrieked.

 

                Sevarius rubbed his temples slightly, feeling the start of a migrane at the corners of his eyes.  "If everyone would just SHUT UP for a minute, I'll explain."

 

                Mercifully, the Pack quieted down.

 

                "All right then.  Now.  I have many talents, mainly in genetics and cybernetics, but I'll be the first to admit that demolitions is a little beyond me.  What happened to the Yales was a microthin laser from a device I had with me focused through the glass panels on their chests.  That is what created the burning sensation that hurt them.  My main mistake was underestimating how smart our subjects were, and underestimating how long it would take them to figure out my little ruse."

 

                "Why?  Why the fakeout?  Why send us on this little gargoyle hunt if we weren't actually gonna hunt gargs?" Hyena said, sounding petulant.

 

                Sevarius grinned.  "The mutates were bait.  Our quarry isn't the gargoyles," he said.  "Return to base now, I'll try to explain once you get here."

 

------------------------------

Warehouse District...

------------------------------

 

                Matt nodded, chuckling weakly.  "Oh man, I'm gonna have a FUN time explaining this one to Elisa."

 

                Chavez smirked.  "I can imagine," she said.  And they both leaped up on top of the nearby roof.  Moving quickly, they ran across the rooftops to where Elisa and Goliath were, the two of them now discussing possibilities of where to look for them.

 

                Chavez and Matt landed with a thud on the rooftop with the two gargoyles, startling them both.  When they recovered their wits, Elisa stared at the two of them with an expression of sheer horror on her face.  Goliath just shook his head sadly.  "Not again..." he said.

 

                Elisa stared at the two of them, completely thunderstruck.  Matt chuckled weakly and said, "Hi partner..."

 

                "MATT?!" Elisa almost shrieked.

 

                Matt nodded.  "Yep.  And over here is Captain Chavez," he said.  Chavez nodded curtly.

 

                Elisa shook her head, as if trying to deny what she was seeing.  She slowly walked over to Matt, tears welling up in her eyes.

 

                "Oh no... Oh no no no..." she said, "I'm so sorry..." Sevarius has done it again... He's hurt someone I care about... Oh God no... she thought.

 

                Matt shrugged, and grinned toothily.  "Hey, couldn't be helped.  Neither of us knew that Jackal and Hyena were workin' for Sevarius."

 

                Elisa smiled weakly, tears flowing steadily down her face.  "I know that... But still... I should have been there... I could have protected you..."

 

                Matt hugged her tightly, smiling warmly.  "No you couldn't have.  But believe me, I appreciate the thought."

 

                Chavez decided to leave the two of them alone, and went over to talk to Goliath.  He was staring at Elisa with a worried expression on his face, but she managed to get his attention.

 

                "H'lo there.  I'm Maria Chavez, formerly NYPD," she said, offering him a handshake.

 

                Goliath smiled weakly, accepting the handshake.  "And I am Goliath, formerly of Scotland."

 

                She smiled.  "It's a pleasure to meet you at last, Goliath," she said.  She turned to Elisa, who still looked horrified at what happened.

 

                Goliath sighed as he looked at his lover.  "Ever since Sevarius turned her brother into a mutate, she has been unable to forgive him.  He is one of the few people I believe that she truly hates with a passion.  We have had many encounters with him, none of them good."

 

                Chavez nodded, sighing weakly.  "I can imagine," she said.  She sighed, and continued, "The five of us can officially say that we've never had a good encounter with him either."

 

                "FIVE?!" Goliath and Elisa said at the same time.

 

                Matt gave Chavez a look, shaking his head.  "No... Please don't..."

 

                Chavez just frowned.  "She has to know, Bluestone.  She'll find out eventually, anyway."

 

                Elisa looked from Matt to Chavez and back again, her voice raising to an almost panicked shrill.  "Know what?!  What's going on?!  What do I have to know?!"

 

                Chavez sighed.  "Five of us were taken by the Pack to Sevarius.  Myself, Bluestone, both Yales... and your sister."

 

                Elisa froze, staring at Chavez with a horrified expression.  Goliath gasped.  Matt stepped away from Elisa, unsure of what his partner was going to do.

 

                Finally, in a voice so small and quiet that Chavez wasn't quite sure she heard it, she said, "You're lying."

 

                Chavez blinked.  "I'm sorry?"

 

                Elisa snarled, her wings flaring, her eyes blazing bright red.  "You're LYING!!!!"

 

                Chavez shook her head.  "I wish I was, Elisa, but it's true."

 

                Elisa shook her head, tears starting to form and flow down her face, her eyes still glowing with rage.  "NO!!!  It can't be true!!  He can't have done it again!!"

 

                Chavez sneered.  "I'm living proof that he has, Maza.  And you know me well enough to know that I would never lie about something like this."

 

                That stopped Elisa for a moment.  "Captain... I didn't mean to suggest..."

 

                Chavez shook her head dismissively.  "It's all right.  And call me Maria.  I don't think that I'll be able to go into work for a while," she said, chuckling weakly.

 

                Elisa bit her lip, looking away for a moment.  "Beth's been mutated?" she asked after a minute.

 

                Matt and Maria both nodded.  Goliath looked like he was about to say something, when his comm-gem buzzed.  He quickly unfastened it, the two mutates looking at him curiously.

 

                Goliath answered, and listened for a moment.  He nodded and signed off, cursing.

 

                Elisa frowned.  "What is it?"

 

                Goliath sighed weakly.  "It was Hudson.  He's with your sister.  He just confirmed what Maria and Matt just told us."

 

                Elisa staggered, all the strength flowing out of her at what Goliath just said.  He moved to catch her, and she hugged him tightly, tears flowing steadily down her face now.

 

                Goliath sighed, still holding Elisa, and said, "What now, then?"

 

                "We collect the Yales.  The original intent was to trick us into attacking you all, but the plan was weak... and most likely a cover for something else," Chavez said, "The Yales were hurt by this scam, and more than likely bought into it totally, so they'll most likely attack whomever of your clan they find."

 

                Goliath nodded, and was about to order them to leave, when his comm-gem buzzed again.

 

                "Hey Goliath?" It was Brooklyn.  "Someone just appeared out of a fireball and said that he could explain to us the recent weird happenings.  He called himself Valdez The Efreet and... um..."

 

                Goliath frowned.  "What?"

 

                "Is Elisa nearby?"

 

                Goliath sighed angrily, the sound coming out as a low, feral growl.

 

                Brooklyn gulped and said, "He said he was a partner of Varua."

 

                Goliath tensed.  Elisa, Matt, and Maria traded worried looks, still unsure of what was going on.

 

                Goliath listened to Brooklyn, his eyes starting to glow with anger, and he nodded.  He turned his comm-gem off and said to everyone, "An ally of Varua The Titan has appeared, and wishes to speak with us regarding your mutations.  He claims that he has 'answers' for us if we all go to Central Park, and that our intrest in stopping Sevarius mirrors their own."

 

                Elisa paled, and began to shiver fearfully.  "V-Varua?  An a-ally of hers?  And s-she'll be there as well?"

 

                Goliath nodded, smiling .  "Yes, my love.  But do not fear, for she will not hurt you again.  This I vow."

 

                Elisa stared at him for a moment, then smiled warmly, nodding.  He grinned, and then led her to the side of the warehouse, both of them leaping off and gliding towards the park.  Chavez frowned, giving Matt a confused look.

 

                Matt sighed.  "Varua the Titan is a superhuman.  Remember me telling you about Owen really being Puck?  A night after Yale fired Elisa, we both went to the Eyrie Building to try and call in a favor from Xanatos, but he was out of the country for some reason.  Puck decided to give us a way to relax and have fun for a couple nights by turning Elisa and I temporarily into gargoyles.  On the second night, we investigated rumors about a military shipment coming into the harbor, and found Dracon's men picking it up.  Varua was there guarding it."

 

                He shook his head sadly, and continued, saying, "She tore through us like wet tissue paper.  She cornered Elisa, broke both her wings and shattered her ribs with one punch.  The damage was bad, but not fatal.  It would have killed her, however, if she had changed back to human that day, so Puck made the spell permanent.  Stonesleep healed her, and so now she's going to live out the rest of her life as a gargoyle."

 

                "My GOD..." Chavez said, shocked.

 

                Matt shrugged.  "Hey, she's happy for the most part.  She's still doing what she loves doing, protecting the city, and now she can finally be with the guy she loves without having to keep it a secret," he said, grinning sardonically, "I'm more worried about Elisa's parents.  They have to be getting worried by now."

 

                Chavez nodded numbly, still a little shocked at how casual Matt was being about all this.  And again she thought of her daughter...

 

                Matt watched Goliath and Elisa gliding off, and sighed, taking to the air with a couple flaps of his massive wings and following.  Chavez stared after them for a moment, a thoughtful look on her face, and followed.  And from the shadows where she had been watching, Varua the Titan smirked, dashing off to collect the last members of the group.

 

------------------------------------------------------

Westside...

Two blocks from Central Park...

Earlier...

------------------------------------------------------

 

                Broadway and Angela glided lazily above the streets.  They weren't really paying attention to what was going on, mainly because they were both were in a royally bad mood.

 

                Early on into their search, they had encountered a group of young men and women being accousted by thugs.  They had broken up the thugs easily, sending ALL of them home screaming like children, only to find that the group that they just rescued were members of the Quarrymen, John Castaway's little anti-gargoyle hate group.  Some of them had been weilding the electrified hammers that Castaway had given members of his group, and had actually managed to hurt the two of them somewhat before the hammers had been taken and destroyed, Angela for some reason keeping one of the hammers for herself.

 

                Broadway's hand kept returning to his forehead, where he had been struck.  He winced, feeling the sore spot that would eventually develop into a NASTY bruise for the rest of the evening, and thanked his lucky stars that his skin hadn't broken.

 

                So frustrated was he, that he said to Angela, almost without thinking, "You ever get the feeling sometimes that Demona has the right idea about humans?"

 

                Angela shot him a glare, causing him to flinch, but she just shook her head and said, "Sometimes..."

 

                "Well then.  That makes this even more fun," snapped a voice from above them.  Angela and Broadway turned, and saw, to their shock, two new mutates hovering in the air, their wings flapping lightly.

 

                Both of them were lions.  The female, taller and somewhat more statuesque than Maggie with lighter-colored fur and no hair on her head, glared down at them, her eyes glowing brightly.  The male, a great-sized brute of a man with an impressive mane surrounding his head, floated a little above her, a somewhat apprehensive look on his face.

 

                "Who...?!" Broadway said, too shocked by the appearance of these two new mutates to do anything more.

 

                The female grinned.  "I'm Feral.  The stud behind me is Rip," she said, gesturing first to herself and then her mate, who gave her a confused look.  Feral just smirked, and said, "And you bat-brains are DEAD..."

 

                Before any of them could react, Feral dove downward, striking Angela in the gut, sending both women spiralling down to the street.  Broadway's initial reaction was to go help Angela, but his instincts as a warrior told him to wait, to see what this 'Rip' did.

 

                Brenden Yale, the newly christened 'Rip,' just shook his head and said, "I guess it's you and me, then.  C'mon, tubby."

 

                Broadway just smirked.  "If you insist," he said, and flapped his wings hard enough to lift himself upwards.  Rip sneered and fired a lightning bolt, but Broadway simply dodged it, moving his wing just enough to avoid getting shocked.  He tackled Rip in midair, dazing him and making him start to fall.  Broadway flapped again, looping upwards and around, grabbing his opponent in a full-nelson headlock, forcing them both into a powerdive towards the nearest building.

 

                Rip was amazed.  Jesus!!  He's not just a brute, he knows how to FIGHT!!!

 

                Margot Yale, who had renamed herself 'Feral,' was only a little better off.  She and Angela were fighting at a stalemate, and Margot knew that the only reason that was so is because the beautiful young gargoyle was an amateur at using the hammer she now weilded.

 

                Feral kept her fists electrified, taking swings at Angela whenever she saw an opening.  Which weren't many.  Angela may have been inexperienced in the use of a warhammer, especially an electrified one, but her time on Avalon wasn't entirely spent in rest and relaxation.

 

                This may be a little more difficult than I thought... Feral thought, frowning as she dove in, ducking a powerful swing and slamming her electrified fist into Angela's stomach.

 

                Angela, for her part, was irritated with herself.  This 'Feral' mutate was obviously inexperienced as a warrior, and yet she was still scoring hits on her.  Powerful ones at that, including the current one which forced the air from her lungs and left her shirt smoldering.  Snarling, her eyes blazing red, she flapped her wings HARD, charging forward fast, startling Feral long enough for Angela to electrify the hammer and shove it into her gut.

 

                Feral roared in agony as electricity tore through her.  She panicked, afraid the charge would detonate the bomb, and grabbed the hammer handle, sending her OWN electrical charge into it.  The conflicting currents intermingled, and then detonated, shorting out the hammer's circuitry and sending both women flying, landing on opposite rooftops.

 

                Rip struggled desperately in Broadway's grasp as he powerdove them towards the street, but the chubby gargoyle not only had too much leverage, he was as strong as Rip himself.

 

                "Give up yet?" Broadway asked teasingly.

 

                Rip's response was to roar, electrifying his whole body.  Broadway screamed in agony and rage, his eyes glowing bright white, and let go, the front of his body smoldering.

 

                Both of them managed to get control of their descent halfway down towards the street, and faced off again.  Broadway was angry now, and had no intention of letting Rip walk away from this without paying for that little trick.  He growled, the sound coming from deep in his throat, a more feral sound than anything his opponent had ever heard.  Rip, for his part, was scared out of his mind.  He had completely underestimated the gargoyle and was about to pay for it HARSHLY.

 

                Fortunetly for Rip, Varua showed up at that time, scooping both him and Broadway up and depositing them, along with Angela, unceremoniously on the roof where Feral was recovering.  Varua blurred around both mutates for a moment, ripping off the glass panels that Sevarius passed off as 'bombs' and crushing them.  She then casually leaned up against a doorway, waiting for them to recover.

 

                To Varua's satisfaction, they all got up fairly quickly.  The two mutates were still a little in shock at what happened, fingering the holes in their uniforms where the 'bombs' used to be.  Angela glared at Varua, looking her over quickly.

 

                "I know you," she said, her eyes blazing red, "You're the one who nearly killed Elisa." 

 

                Upon hearing this, Broadway growled, quickly getting into a fighting position, his eyes glowing bright white.  Feral and Rip looked up at Angela, visibly startled by what she said, then at Varua, who removed a stick of bubblegum from her trenchcoat and placing it into her mouth.

 

                Varua just gnawed on her gum for a moment, blowing a bubble and smirking.  "Indeed I am.  What of it?"

 

                "Well, for starters, I'd like to know what you want," Angela said, visibly angry, but managing to restrain herself from attacking what she knew to be a superior opponent.  For now.

 

                Varua chuckled.  "Same thing as all of you, apparently.  Anton Sevarius's head on a platter."

 

                Feral looked VERY interested now.  "You can give him to us?"

 

                Varua nodded.  "In a way," she said, "I guess.  We don't know where he is right now.  But we can find him.  Then we don't care what you do to him, so long as you eliminate him PERMANETLY afterwards."

 

                Angela growled.  "Why do you care what happens to Sevarius and his victims?"

 

                Varua just smirked, blowing another bubble.  "Because our plans required that these two, Brenden and Margot Yale, along with Bethany Maza, Detective Matthew Bluestone, and Captain Maria Chavez, all remain human.  Sevarius is forcing us to do a LOT of rewriting of our agendas.  It's made our boss cranky.  We don't like life when he's cranky."

 

                Angela was so stunned by this news, that the hammer slid from her grasp.

 

                WHAT?! Broadway thought, horrified.  "Matt?  Elisa's sister?!"

 

                Varua nodded.  "Before you ask, she does know.  The clan and the other mutates are all gathering at Central Park right now with my 'associates,'" she said, almost spitting the word, "To figure out what to do next.  Meet us there."

 

                And with that, she vanished.  Rip and Feral just stared at the spot where she was

 

                Broadway shook his head.  "Oh man... I guess we better get moving...  C'mon Angela..." he said, placing a hand on his lover's shoulder.

 

                Angela jumped, startled, then nodded.  "Yes... You're right.  C'mon you two, let's go meet up with the others."

 

                Both gargoyles took off without another word, Angela picking her hammer up.  Rip sighed, and started after them, when Feral grabbed his shoulder.

 

                "Wait a moment!  How are we suppossed to believe what this... WOMAN says?!?"

 

                "Do you have any better ideas, 'Feral?'  Because if you do, I sure would love to hear them," Rip snarled, startling Feral so much that she took a few steps back.  Rip snorted, and spread his wings, taking off after the gargoyles.

 

                Feral stared after him helplessly for a moment, then sighed weakly.

 

                Where did I lose control? she thought as she flew after her husband.

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ten minutes later...

In one of the few completely private places in Central Park...

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

                Goliath and Matt looked up as they felt a rush of wind, and saw Broadway, Angela, and the Yales heading towards them.

 

                Matt grinned.  "Hey big guy.  What's up?" he called out to Broadway.

 

                Broadway stared at the white tiger mutate that spoke with Matt's voice.  "Geez, Matt.  Is that you in there?"

 

                Matt chuckled.  "Unfortunetly, yeah it is.  But on the plus side, I'll never have to worry about being cold again."

 

                Broadway chuckled weakly.  "Yeah, I guess it is...  Jalapena..."

 

                Matt frowned, noticing the mark on Broadway's head.  "Hey, what happened?"

 

                "Hnh?  Oh, Quarrymen attack.  Long story.  Angela got a hammer out of it.  Now where's 'Rip' and 'Feral,' or whatever it is they're calling themselves?"

 

                Matt snorted laughter.  "Rip and Feral?  You're talking about the Yales, right?"

 

                "Yeah.  The woman, Feral, or Margot, or whatever her name is, ambushed us but the musclehead that tore up Elisa broke the fight up."

 

                Matt cringed.  He was about to say something else, when a loud snarling erupted from behind them.  They both turned, and sighed weakly.

 

                "SHUT THE FUCK UP, YOU FREAKISH BITCH!!!  THIS IS ALL YOUR GODDAMN FAULT TO BEGIN WITH!!!" Feral roared, her eyes glowing bright white as Hudson and Rip tried desperately to hold her back.  Goliath was having similar problems with Elisa, who was trying to sink her claws into the lionesss mutate and thrashing angrily in the full-nelson her mate had her in, her eyes blazing red.

 

                "Lemme GO, Goliath!!  This bitch has only begun to get the payback she deserves!!!" she snarled.

 

                "This is NOT helping things, Elisa!  I know you're mad at her, but your vendetta can wait!!" Goliath said, just barely holding onto Elisa.

 

                "Margot, come on!  Maza didn't know about this!  You heard Sevarius, he just picked all our names at random!!" Rip almost whined, wondering how this whole mess ever happened.

 

                "SHUT UP, BOTH OF YOU!!!" screamed a third, very frustrated-sounding voice as a massive lightning bolt slammed down between the two women, startling both the women and the men holding them.  They all whirled to the source of the bolt, Maria Chavez, her fist still smoldering from the blast as she stomped towards the two of them.

 

                "Listen to me very carefully, because I'm only going to say this once," she said, her voice low and even, almost a whisper.  Even so, she held the attention of everyone nearby, all of them seemingly afraid to look away from her as she glared at Feral and Elisa.

 

                "In the past couple of days, I have been kidnapped, turned into a bat-winged wildcat, found out that one of my best detectives has been dating a gargoyle, has not only been turned INTO a gargoyle, but has been one once before, and have also found out that there are also things such as magic and faeries, as well as superhuman fighting machines who DON'T need cybernetics to be powerful.  My sense of reality has been royally screwed with in the past couple of days, and I've developed a rather large headache.  It's making me quite cranky.  Elisa, I know you're frustrated about what Margot did to you.  But now is not the time to take care of it.  Margot, or Feral, or whatever, I know you're angry about what happened to us all.  But Elisa is not to blame.  So chill the hell out.  Okay?"

 

                Feral started to say something, but Maria's glare silenced her.  She nodded weakly.

 

                "Okay Elisa?"

 

                Elisa grinned weakly and nodded.  "Yes Captain."

 

                "Good," she said, turning back to the center of the clearing, where Varua, Valdez, and Hacker were gathered.

 

                Elisa shuddered, and laughed weakly.  Matt just shook his head, chuckling.

 

                Goliath shivered.  "Has she always been able to do that?"

 

                Matt laughed again.  Elisa nodded, and said, "Scare the shit out of people like that?  Oh yeah.  How else do you think she keep all the yahoos at the station in line all this time?"

 

                The three Illuminati members had simply been watching the exchanges with amusement, waiting for them to reach an end.  When everyone settled down and started glaring at them, Hacker stepped forward, smirking.

 

                "Well.  Since it seems that the Saturday Night Live routine is over, we can begin.  Ask me anything, and I'll try to answer it."

 

                Maria snorted.  "Good.  Because we have a LOT of questions for you, little man."

 

--------------------------

To Be Continued...

--------------------------

Token Disclaimer: All characters in this story save for any originals are copyrighted to Disney and Buena Vista.  (Sadly enough.)  All ORIGINAL characters are copyrighted to me.  Also, the author would like to apologize to any New Yorkers for any geographical errors listed here.

Note: The following story starts a day after "Games Part 2."