August 21, 2017
I left the magic tunnel to make a sweet three point landing on my chin, stone dragging away what felt like an inch of skin. Three seconds after I could think past the pain, I realized I couldn’t see anything.
That didn’t make me a happy gargoyle.
When I stood and realized I was about a centimeter from the ceiling, I began to get irritated.
I only began to panic when I felt around and found that I was in a room only about six feet in any direction. Like most other gargoyles, I don’t take enclosed spaces well at all. Actually, I’m downright claustrophobic. So I sort of... um... lost it. Completely. As in bugging out to the point of bouncing off the walls in an attempt to claw my way out.
It seemed to take an eternity for me to realize one of the walls gave slightly. When it finally registered, I concentrated entirely on slamming against it. A few endless minutes later, it surrendered completely, toppling to the ground in what seemed to be slow motion. I followed it, content to simply lie on it and savor the night air. I don’t know how long I was there, panting and trying to ignore the bruises, cuts, and scrapes I’d picked up.
It took the scrape of boots on stone and a shocked oath to bring me back to reality. My eyes snapped open, I tried to jump upright, and ended up tripping over my feet and deepening the scrape on my chin. Seconds later, a slight stinging in my back was added to the list of pain.
However, I didn’t have any time to bitch about it, ‘cause shortly after that everything slipped away into darkness.
Did I mention yet I did NOT like wherever it is I was? I’m not having any fun yet!
I had spent about fourteen hours awake in Russia (after no coffee), spending all that time in flight or fighting, then, at most, ten panicked minutes in... wherever it was I had been stuck. After an unknown amount of time, I woke up in the supremely uncomfortable position of hanging from my wrists by what felt like manacles and I was fairly certain there were shackles on my ankles, too. Not to mention all the cuts, bruises, and a raging headache I had. When some sadistic bastard chirped “And a good evening to you, m’dear!” in a far too happy tone, they’re lucky they just got off with my snarling back “Fuck off!”
Dammit, I can’t wait to get home. At least there the worst I have to worry about is some idiot playing a practical joke or a freaked out human with a gun. Normal things.
“Oh, such language.” The bastard tsked. “Really, what are they teaching gargoyles today?”
“You can kiss my ass, just shut up and leave me alone.”
“My my, what a temper. And what a mouth. You must not be from Goliath’s clan. Somehow I can’t see him tolerating such a potty mouth.”
Well that got my attention. I finally opened my eyes (and had to take a few moments to focus) to a thoroughly unpleasant sight. It was an older man – older than what I was used to, but when time traveling, whatever goes, ya know? – with graying red hair and blue eyes that held a sadistic twinkle. He was dressed in a lab coat, like all the pictures I’d seen, most of them decorating dartboards as what we – “we” being the younger generation of the clan – liked to think of as our first blood enemy for what he did to one of our own. That's right, Dr. Anton Servarius, geneticist and general slime ball.
Like I said, it’d been a long night. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Well, try my first reaction. I gave myself a nasty whiplash lunging at El Jerko, and something nearly came out of its socket. Ow. Stupid move. Whatever these chains were, they seemed pretty darn gargoyle resistant to me.
“Really, m’dear, you aren’t my type.”
Erm. Ah, I hope the magic book never gets down what I mouthed off about then. It’s not exactly something I want repeated any time soon. When I finished snarling at Herr Doktor, he seemed a bit surprised, but that was about it. “I see. And just what brings such a charming young American female to Rome? Romance? Or perhaps just looking for some long lost magic talisman?”
Ooo, you coulda cut that sarcasm with a spork! “None of your biz, asshole.”
Servarius raised an eyebrow. “Come, come now, there has to be some reason you were lurking around the Coliseum looking so remarkably beat up.”
Ya know, Jay’s right. He does have a big mouth. All I had to do was get him to admit the year and I was all set! So I just growled at him.
“You know, I do believe you’re too tense.” He whipped out a tiny pistol and shot me. I’m happy to say it was a dart, but it really pissed me off that in a very short time I got really, really spacey. “Why don’t you just ‘mellow out’?” Dr. Twit chuckled as he left.
I really. Really. REALLY. Do NOT like him.
Some time later – I’m not sure how much; that drug he used really made me wonky – I was able to concentrate enough to go over my options.
A.) Take this time to come up with some
decent sort of escape plan.
B.) Sit tight until the opportunity came to wring the life out of that miserable bastard that passed himself off as a doctor.
C.) Try to pick the locks.
D.) Scream my lungs out.
F.) Try repeated, useless efforts to break my chains.
G.) None of the above.
Okay, kiddies, put your pencils down, because the correct answer is D.
What can I say, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Blame it on the drugs.
However, it turned out to be a pretty decent move. Before I got too blue in the face, a human wandered on in. He was dressed in blue and gray body armor and a silvery helmet. He was also lugging another tranq gun. Lucky me. “What’s goin’ on?” he growled.
Well, when all else fails, improvise! Or in my case, just keep screaming.
“What th...?” the guy muttered, moving closer.
At that point I finally connected to reality enough to change from pure sound to “Get it off! get ‘em off me!” and, well, yeah, more just plain screaming.
The guard moved closer, and I kept screaming until he got within range. Thank goodness for slack.
Ya know, humans make the funkiest crunchy sounds when they hit walls. This guy was no exception. I body checked him – not as hard as I’d like, but hard enough – and he went into the wall next to the door. There was a crunch, a few sparks from a panel as he slumped to the ground, and my chains opened. Mechanical. Cool.
I grabbed his gun – tranqualizers, damn it. What I wouldn’t give for real firepower, such as those Manhunters, which I guessed were still back at the Coliseum – and staggered out of my room/holding cell, digging my claws into the wall and swaying like a drunken sailor. Tranquilizers and sleep deprivation are a bad combination. I stumbled along, wandering the halls – all of which looked alike – until I was at least starting to approach normal. Sorta.
Anyway, there I was, stumbling around without a clue until I ran into another of the security guys. Unfortunately. He was sitting in front of another closed door so much like the one I came out of I had to wonder if I’d somehow gone back in time again or something.
Well, he saw me about the same instant I saw him. We just stared at each other for a second, a perfect classic comedy moment.
He moved first, but I got lucky: he tried to draw his gun and stand up at the same time. Some people just can’t do two things at once. I managed to beat him on the draw, so he was snoozing nicely in just a few seconds.
Huzzah. I still wasn’t having any fun.
After patting Sleeping Ugly down – and getting nothing but a pack of gum, a keycard, and the unused tanq gun – I checked the door. I mean, it’s just plain stupid to guard an empty room. Although with Servarius on the loose.... I swiped the keycard and pushed open the door. Automatic lights flickered on.
A woman was curled into a corner, half sitting up to blink at the sudden light, half pulling herself into a protective crouch. She looked like Mother Nature had been playing 52 pickup with human and gargoyle genes, mixing whatever came to hand randomly. Her skin had a faint turquoise tone humans simply don’t come in. Her mutilated feet had extended bones and the nub of bone that might be a heel spur on a gargoyle, but, combined with her fused mess of toes, must have been hell to walk on. Her legs had the same eternal half-crouch we gargoyles find as natural as breathing, but an added torture for her human frame. Her arms had the more bone nubs for elbow spurs, and her hands ended in clumsy fingers more like talons, with the last finger nearly split into two. Heavy brow ridges – for a human –, a triple line of bony knobs poking though her black hair, and slightly pointed ears completed the picture of a human caught halfway between a change to a gargoyle.
No, not Mother Nature. That bastard Servarius.
“It’s all right,” I murmured, holding my hands up. “I’m here to help.”
She stared at me for a few seconds, expression unreadable other than fear, and shame. “You... are a gargoyle?” she finally asked tentatively.
“Yeah.” I certainly wasn’t about to ask if she was. I’m slow, but not that stupid. “I’m trying to escape. Do you want to come?” Silly question.
“I’ll only slow you down.” She glanced down at her feet. “But my brother....”
“I’m not exactly in marathon shape myself. C’mon, let’s go find him. I’m not about to leave anyone here.”
I helped her stand, noticing for the first time the lump that was supposed to be a tail, and the withered, miniature mockeries of wings. We started walking (if you can call it that). Partially to keep my mind off what I was going to do to Dr. Frankenstein, partially to keep her mind off the pain she was showing with a small whimper at every step, I started to ramble. “So, my name’s Megan, but everyone calls me Meg. How ‘bout you?”
“I – ahh! – was once called Stella.”
“Stella. Pretty name. Ever see a Street Car Named Desire?”
“A what named Desire?”
“No. Ok. Next topic. Hang on a sec, my spider sense is tingling.”
Must not be a comic reader. I left Stella leaning against the wall and snuck up to the corner in stealth mode. I might have been half out of my mind from sleep and drugs, but something was just nagging at me, screaming something was wrong.
And someone was making a very nice shadow out into the hallway, back to the wall and holding a gun ready to fire as soon as s/he or it whipped around the corner.
I got ‘em first. Handy little things, tranq guns. And I even got a replacement from the blonde bimbo in the same type body armor as the others. Since she had a chair too – and a trashy romance novel – I swiped the card reader.
I handed the tranq gun to Stella, motioned for her to have a seat and keep an eye out, then opened the door. The lights inside were off, so there was only a triangle of the room lit from the hallway lights. Even the florescent lights weren’t able to illuminate much, falling short of the far wall. A humanoid figure was standing at the end of the room, a barely visible shadow. All I could tell was that it had red hair. The figure looked up, eyes glowing a furious white. “So, the good doctor couldn’t come insult me today?” he growled in a pleasant tenor voice. “And he sent one of his little gargoyle rip-offs to do it instead. Well, listen up, you cheap copy, you are nothing like the original. You’re just a flawed vision from a sick and twisted mind! You’re not nearly – ”
“Pal, everything’s original,” I told him while I fumbled around looking for the light switch. I know, I know, cheap pickup line, but when someone gives me an opening like that, it’s just plain rude not to take it. Besides, to my sleep-deprived mind it was a good comeback. “Where the hell is – Ah.” I finally found a panel of some sort with lots of switches on it. “You wouldn’t happen to know which one of these is the light switch, would you?”
“Even if I knew, I wouldn’t bother telling you,” he calmly said, then spouted off something I guessed was Italian and not to be repeated in polite company.
“Sure, same to you,” I muttered absently. Great. “All right, Alex, I’ll take white switch for three hundred.” I flicked the switch, then the guy bellowed as arcs of electricity lit up the entire wall. Not good! I swore, then turned it off. “Are you okay?”
“Never better,” he snarled faintly, then gave me some more insults.
“Look, you might not believe this after that little mistake – ”
“ – But I am trying to conduct an escape. That means taking away all of Dr. Sicko’s captives slash experiments. This would go a lot faster if you told me which one of these is the damned light switch!”
There was silence for a moment. “Have you considered Prozac?” he finally asked. “It might help with you delusions.”
I growled. It had been a long night and I was suffering from jetlag (or the magical equivalent) and I just wanted to destroy something. So I slammed the panel of switches. It crunched, gave off a few sparks, and the lights flickered to life. I could tell it was gonna be one of those nights. I finally had a chance to look at the prisoner and my jaw dropped.
Oh, be still my raging hormones.
He was a gargoyle (duh) and couldn’t have been over six feet, more likely around five and a half, and he was probably a few years older then me. His skin was a golden and his hair was flaming red (good gods, that sounds sickening. Or is it just me? well, I’m sorry, but it’s the only way to describe him... even if it does make me nauseous), pulled back into a braid. He had black, bat type wings, was wearing an embroidered tunic sort of shirt and baggy slacks and was, for some strange reason, smoking slightly.
Brain functions (such as they are) finally kicked in and, if possible, my jaw dropped lower. This had to be the younger version of Goldie from my little trip to the future. Oh, gawd, that meant I had to put up with him at home too. Somehow I doubted that he’d come to little ole Connecticut just to say hi.
I shut my mouth, sighed, then looked from his manacles to the panel. “I’m guessing that opened the chains, right?”
More foreign insults. Huzzah.
Having had it up to here with Goldie’s ranting, I growled and let my eyes glow red. About that time I noticed a small button on the wall. It had no obvious purpose or a label, so I figured what the hell, why not. Goldie strained against his chains, obviously willing to try and get at my throat, when I pushed the button. He ended up going to his knees when the locks opened and he was still trying to get to me.
Normally I’m not one for revenge, but hey. I enjoyed that.
Goldie stared at his wrists, then at me. I could see the confusion in his eyes. “You... why?”
I rolled my eyes. “Duh. I told you. I’m here to screw up Servarius’s maniacal plans. Like I said earlier.” He stared at me for a few more seconds, then stood.
“He also has my sister. We need to get her out as well.”
Not even a thank you. That’s gratitude for you. And I still didn’t know his name. A sneaking suspicion hit me about then. Sure, it took a few seconds to register, and by that time Goldie was already at the door, but at least I had a clue.
“Stella!” Goldie yelped, then swept the woman outside up into a hug. Doh. It was one of those nights I just wanted to go back to bed. And for more’n one reason, I assure you.
Goldie was interrogating the woman. Everything after “What happened to you?” was completely lost to me; it was all Italian and possibly something else.
“Excuse me,” I finally interrupted, desperate to get away from the realization that Stella had been a gargoyle before Dr. Weirdo got his claws into her, and wondering what would have happened to me. “Are there any other clan members we need to find?”
Even in my condition I noticed his wince. “No.”
“Good. Then lets go before – ”
“Before...?” the woman finally prompted.
“Sorry, I was waiting for Fate to kick in and then start laughing itself sick. But the alarms haven’t started yet.”
Goldie snickered. “That only happens in bad literature.”
“Try living my life for a few nights. Okay, let’s go.”
We... well, limped it the best word for a description – our way out with a minimum of fuss. We even managed to avoid more guards.
That didn’t make me feel better. Things seemed to be going too easy. Soon as we got out of the building, I swore. We were only a few minutes from the Coliseum. Jackpot! And instant suspicion; still too easy!
I don’t think I’ll ever know how we managed to make it the few blocks of the city, early morning or not, without being seen. About a tortured half-hour after we left the lab, we stumbled into the ruins and wandered around until I spotted the bloody slab. The #@$%&^ book was lying right on top of it, right next to my backpack. They couldn’t have showed up at that lab, nooo, they actually had to stay right here this time. Bloody bleeping wonderful.
I snatched up the backpack and put it on, then picked up the book. I faced Goldie and Stella, wondering what now? I can’t do healing, and I wasn’t sure if they’d want to join me on my wonderful adventures through time. Hell, I didn’t even know when it was.
I was saved by the proverbial bell.
“Well, this is scenic.”
Doc Servarius is not only a ham, he also happened to be sarcastic. And that satisfied my suspicious mind. Unfortunately. We turned to find Dr. Bad Actor behind us with a large and nasty looking gun. It could have been anything from a laser to an over-glorified tranq gun.
I opened the book and flipped through it, frantically looking for something that would help. The only other spell I knew offhand was the neurolizer one, and I didn’t see how that could help. We’d all still be here. And the Manhunters were in the backpack, and there’s no way to get that off without being obvious.
“Let us go,” Goldie growled. “Haven’t you done enough?” He drew his sister closer. “Haven’t you tinkered with us to your heart’s content?”
Servarius yawned. “Puh-lease. And they call me dramatic.”
‘They’ were either understating or being kind.
Wait a minute. I thought I found something. “Tu es rana, tu es rana, tu es rana,” I muttered quietly, pointing at the doctor.
“You can only shoot one of us,” Goldie snarled.
“Oh, are you volunteering? And no, actually all I have to shoot is her.” Great. He was aiming at me.
“Tu es rana, tu es rana, tu es rana.”
He pulled out what looked like a small remote and aimed it at Goldie and Stella. “You see, I have experience with my... patients rebelling.” Dr. Sicko pressed a button. A moment passed and Goldie sneered. Then he and Stella fell to their knees screaming as if they were being eaten from the inside out.
I tried to ignore them and muttered the last of the spell. “Iam, cum tres multiplicat tres, dum dico, ita erit! Tu es rana, tu es rana, tu es rana!”
For a second I thought it didn’t work, then Dr. Creepo hunkered down and began to make cautious hops around, tongue popping out occasionally at passing mosquitoes. Heh. I knew that spell would come in handy. I stumbled to check on Goldie and Stella and a wave of exhaustion hit me. That much magic was seriously draining. I bent down over Goldie when the sound of a gun being cocked came behind me.
“I don’t know what you did to the Doc,” a man nearly growled, “but you’re supposed to be back in your cells. And if you don’t go quietly, then that’s when I start using this.” I didn’t need to turn around to see what ‘this’ was. And again, there was next to nothing I could do. There was no way I was casting the frog spell again; it took too much out of me, and the only other spell...
I raised my hands and knelt down as if to help Goldie up. I grabbed an arm (‘scuse me, two; both his and Stella’s) and chanted as fast as possible.
“Hurry up, gargoyle,” the mercenary (?) said. So I did.
Still chanting, I tugged on Goldie’s arm.
The tunnel of fuchsia light opened up and we (me, Goldie and Stella) dropped through. I didn’t have time to wave to the shocked looking guy in body armor and a red helmet.
As we tumbled down to wherever, I sincerely hoped that Stella was naturally cool. Otherwise... bad juju.
A circle of grass, tinted an eldritch blue, opened up below.
Heh. As always, I'm grateful to Datafage for proofing this. Even if he does gloat about getting asked to rip apart a piece of writing.... ;) Thanks again!
And if course, many groveling thanks to §anji for letting me use her majorly nifty pics.
The first entry Part 1
The previous entry Part 5
The next entry Part 7
Let me out of here!!!! A.K.A. Home
I want to read more! To get back to the fic archive
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The pics were drawn by §anji. Therefore, they belong to her. But you can see more of her art at Synthesise. This is a hint.
Except for a bit of lore and the gargoyle race in general (which are respectfully used from the Great Mouse/Buena Vista without permission), and the pics (see disclaimer above) everything in here belongs to me. That means you can't use it without asking me first.