She waited for the sunset, her head on her knees and her arms curled around her legs. It would not be a long wait. Then the sun sank below the horizon, clearly visible through the window in her prison. With that the change began. She threw back her head and screamed as pain shot down her spine. Wings and a tail sprouted, and the agony moved outward. Spurs appeared on her elbows and knees, and her fingers thickened and some fused together. Similar changes occurred in her feet, but they lengthened and a toe moved back and around, becoming a wicked claw at her heel, which would no longer touch the ground. Horns appeared growing out of her forehead as her skin darkened and altered color. Finally, the changes and pain stopped. She gasped for breath, breathing raggedly as she tried to gather her strength. Her captor stepped out of the adjacent room and smirked. "Too bad," she cooed, in a familiar voice. Her own voice, stolen along with her body, leaving only her mind, but trapped. Her captor opened the window and then flung herself outside. What was that saying? "Iron bars do not a prison make"? True enough. It was now titanium, lasers, and flesh that held her. She drew her mind to the tiny spark that was all that remained in her true self. She watched through her own eyes, able to only do that, to only be along for the ride, and do nothing else. She could only watch as the other journeyed back to her home, to her clan, to destroy them. In her prison cell, the gargoyle drew up her legs into her former position, putting her head back on her knees. She looked through cold eyes, free and filled with calculated malice, waiting for the moment to spring, and knowing that she could do nothing to it. In a prison room, a single tear glistened in the faint light of the crescent moon.
Brooklyn paced through the Aerie Building, searching for Ember. She'd left early this morning, just a bit before sunrise in a huff. He wasn't sure about what, her mood swings were getting all too common lately. He made his way outside, still searching. The only gargoyles he saw were Vita and Lex, talking on the ramparts.
"Hey, either of you seen Ember?" he asked as he walked up. Lex rolled his eyes.
Vita paused a moment to glare at him. "Sorry. I just got back. One whole wonderful month of pure torture. Do you have any idea how long it takes to sell a house and most of the stuff inside it?"
"No, not really. But do you have any idea where she might be?"
"If I did, I'd be as far away as possible." Vita looked at Lex, then Brooklyn, then back at Lex again. "Um, I think I'm missing something here. When I left Ember was settling in. Now I come back and she's the incarnation of evil?"
"No, just the incarnation of 'annoy me and lose your head'. And everything annoys her," Lex grumbled.
"She's not that bad," Brooklyn protested.
"Right." Vita went through another bout of rubbernecking. "Okaaay. Mind telling me just what she's done?"
Lex held up a hand and began to count off on his fingers. "She's nearly killed Elisa the last three times she visited, is almost always arguing with Goliath and Hudson, does a vanishing act whenever Broadway, Owen, or I are in the room, slugged Brooklyn twice,-"
"Thanks for bringing that up," he muttered. "'Sides, it's a bit more then that."
"-Slugged Brooklyn, more then once, disappears almost every morning, doesn't talk to you unless it's an insult, slogan against humanity, or something else totally crazy, and about the only person she gets along with is Angela. And then that's a disgusting sight. Probably gross enough to make Broadway lose his appetite."
"Does she eat hatchlings too?" Vita asked sarcastically, making Brooklyn wince. He could tell she didn't like hearing Lex go on about her sister that way, and that she thought they were exaggerating, but still....
"No proof of that yet," he muttered. Now he was on the receiving end of the glare. Ouch. She finally turned her attention away.
"She can't be that bad."
"Well, looks like we can ask her," Vita commented as Ember landed in the courtyard. She folded her wings like a cloak and headed to the doorway leading inside. Brooklyn hurried and stood in her way. "Where have you been?" he demanded.
"Since when have you been my keeper?" she snarled back at him.
"I'm the second-in-command," he stated, trying to keep his cool. Somehow, it didn't take much for her to rile him lately. "I'd like to know where the rest of the clan is in case something happens."
"I'll leave you my beeper number," she sneered as she swept by. Vita stared in amazement, then snapped her mouth shut and hurried after. Lex simply shared a Look with him and shrugged.
Vita finally caught up with her sister in the hallway. She grabbed Ember by the arm and pulled her around. "Just what is your problem?" she hissed.
"At the moment," Ember replied, half growling and prying Vita's hand off her arm, "it is you."
"Are you completely deaf? I said my problem is you. Leave me alone." She turned and headed off, only to be stopped by Vita's hand on her arm again.
"I don't think so. You have a problem, and as your sister, I'm going to find out what it is, even if I have to pound it out of you!"
"I said, LEAVE ME ALONE!" Ember bellowed, her eyes glowing a vicious blood red. Vita shrank back, releasing her, looking totally bewildered as Ember turned and stalked off.
Later that night
Brooklyn leaned against the parapet, watching the clouds scuttle across the sky, creating a disappearing act with the moon and stars. He heard soft footsteps behind him, and saw a flash of blue-green out of the corner of his eye. Vita. She leaned back against the crenellations and looked up at the stars. He simply waited.
"Has she been like that the entire time?" Vita finally broke the silence.
"About a week and a half after you left, she went somewhere. She didn't come back until the next night, and she's been weird since."
"Dunno. Goliath thinks something happened and she just doesn't want to talk about it."
"But you don't."
"Look, I don't know what's wrong!" His hands clenched, digging furrows into the stone.
"Has anyone tried to talk her out of this?"
He snorted. "Goliath did, and nearly lost an arm. Hudson just raised the subject, and I'm not goin' to repeat what she said. After that, we've just left her alone. Angela even seems to think everything is normal."
"But have you tried talking to her?" There was a moment of silence.
"You saw how she acts whenever somebody starts questioning her. She took it out on you."
"So that's a no." The rust colored gargoyle hesitated, then sighed. He ran a hand through his hair. "You're her sister. She won't listen to you, why should she pay any attention to me?" She placed her hand on his shoulder.
"Just try. I think you'll be the one to break her out of this."
There was another pause. "All right," he sighed. He saw the gargoyle in question leap from the castle wall and into the night. "Guess I should try now." With that, he leapt off the castle and glided after her.
He finally caught up with Ember when she entered a building in lower Manhattan. Now what's she doing here? he wondered. He landed on a building opposite of where she perched. She opened and window and quickly entered, not bothering to close it behind her. His curiosity roused, he flew over to the window and peeked in. There he saw a sight that was totally unexpected, yet delightful nevertheless. In a cage, curled up against the wall, was a familiar gargoyle: Demona. He savored the moment. After what she'd done, he felt she deserved this. He quietly stepped into the room and approached the trapped gargoyle. Yet a voice inside started whispering doubts to him. Just what was Ember doing here, anyway? Then he mentally told the voice to shut up.
"One of your little plans go wrong, Demona?" he jeered. She jerked up her head, her eyes wide.
"Brooklyn?" she breathed, sounding like he would be the last person she expected, or hoped, to see.
"What, you thought I was blown away by a bazooka or something?" She scrambled to her feet, shooting a nervous glance at the only door out. The voice inside refused to be quiet, and even grew a bit louder.
"You have to get out of here, now!" she whispered to him.
"Why, I might mess up one of your plans? I don't think so."
"No, you don't understand! If you don't go, then sh-." She broke off suddenly, her eyes glazing over and going limp. Now the voice began to yell. He turned around as he heard a familiar chuckle. Ember, yet somehow she seemed different. Wrong. The voice started to scream at him.
"Brooklyn. I'm surprised it's you that showed up. I thought for sure it would be that sentimental fool Goliath that would come after me for a little... heart to heart chat." She was leaning against the door frame, her wings cloaked, one claw hanging over a panel of buttons in the wall. And she sounded like she had totally lost it.
"What's wrong with you?"
She threw back her head and laughed. "Wrong? My dear Brooklyn, I couldn't be better. You, on the other hand...." She pressed a button and metal bars slid down from the ceiling and into the floor around him, making a cage similar to Demona's. "You have other things to worry about. Now if you'll excuse me, I really must get back to my work."
"Wait! Come back here!"
"It won't do any good." It was Demona's voice, weak and gasping as if she had just tried to run across the castle and back. She sank down to the floor and pulled up her legs again. She closed her eyes and tilted her head back. Without opening her eyes she said, "You can rant and scream as much as you like, but it won't make any difference. Believe me, I've tried." He sat down, unsure of just what to do. This gargoyle looked and sounded like Demona, but he was positive it was not her. Just as he was sure that it wasn't Ember that had trapped him.
The blue gargoyle finally opened her eyes and looked at him. "Why did you have to come?" she whispered. "Why was it you?"
The voice inside did the mental equivalent of smacking him upside the head. It was her eyes that set off the hit. They were filled with so much pain, and fear. He's never seen that in the real Demona's eyes. Rage, hate, total insanity, sure, especially the insanity, but never this. "Ember," he whispered, totally sure of the statement. "How?" Then mental gears clicked into place again. "Soul transference. But, I thought you had to agree to it."
"And how would you know?" There was a note of amusement in her voice, but he could barely find it.
"Personal experience," he mumbled.
"Huh. You'll have to tell me about it sometime. But... it wasn't our souls she switched. It was our minds."
She sighed and tilted her head back again. "It's similar to soul transference, but doesn't require that you agree to it. And the way Demona cast it-" she nearly spit out the name, showing hate he almost found normal to her form, "-a piece of me remained behind. Doesn't sound like much, but that means she can control me. To a certain point." Her hands clenched, leaving her knuckles white and digging her fingers into her palms so hard that drops of blood sprang up where claws punctured skin. "You saw that already. But that's not the worst part."
"It can get worse?"
"Lots. I don't think it was part of the original spell, but I can still see through my own eyes if I try hard enough. But I can't do anything except watch." Her voice dropped, and the pain in her voice became more evident. "I can only watch what she does, what she makes me do." Her voice quieted to a whisper. "What I do."
"Don't think that. Ever!"
She finally looked at him. "You don't understand. That's me that did all those things. I nearly killed Elisa! Not to mention what I did-"
"No! That's Demona, not you! You've got to-"
He was interrupted by a cold chuckle behind him. "Brooklyn, when will you give up? She is mine. You cannot change that. Face it. You have lost."
He stood next to the bars, his eyes beginning to glow white. "Come a little closer and say that," he growled. Demona merely laughed and her hand hovered over the panel of buttons tauntingly. "Why don't you?" Then her hand suddenly slammed down, sending the bars upwards.
"What-?" she started to ask.
"Run!" Ember shouted, and he didn't waste any time thinking about it. He leapt for the window, his mind racing. He had to get to Owen, as Puck he could get things back to normal. Demona hated humans, didn't she count as a danger to Alex?
"NO!" Demona's screech of rage followed him outside. His wings snapped opened, catching an updraft, and he quickly pulled away from the building.
Mentally scrambling for shortcuts and faster routes, he darted between buildings, heading for the Aerie Building. Ember's voice, chanting something, dragged his attention back to reality. He smiled grimly as he recognized what she was doing. Demona might control her, but she could still warn him. He dodged aside at the last minute, and the magical attack, whatever it was, zipped past him. He took a quick glance backwards and saw Demona and Ember gaining on him. Suddenly Ember's wings folded and she slammed into Demona, knocking both onto the ground. Fortunately, at this time of night, there was no one around, or, if they were, they had wisely decided to stay out of sight.
Brooklyn glided down to land between the other two gargoyles. Demona lay on her back, stunned by the landing. Ember kneeled a few feet away, having survived a bit better, since Demona had cushioned her fall. But she clutched her head and seemed oblivious to her surroundings. She growled and her eyes glowed an odd purple, sometimes darkening to a bluish color, or lightening to a red. "No," she snarled, "not again!"
Deciding to take the direct approach, Brooklyn stalked over to where Demona was beginning to come around. He grabbed her by the throat and calmly waited until she opened her eyes. Then he allowed his eyes to glow a furious white.
"Let her go," he snarled.
"Or what?" That set him back a bit. Far as he could tell, there was only one alternative. And he couldn't do that. Even though it was Demona, it looked like Ember. And he couldn't....
"Do it." It was barely a whisper, fighting through layers of magic, but it was Ember speaking. He stopped thinking of the gargoyle he held as Ember, and where this would leave her, but only as Demona. The killer. The reason the clan was dead. He lashed out, slapping her, his claws curled and digging in. Her head snapped to the side, and three furrows of blood sprang up on her left cheek. Demona stared at him in shock.
"Let her go," he growled again. "Last chance." She only laughed, totally assured and entirely insane. He closed his eyes and muttered a silent plea for forgiveness. Then he began to squeeze.
Finally she stopped breathing and a small trail of blood trickled out of the corner of her mouth. He gently set her head down, unwilling to do less. But then a low, insane laugh rang out behind him. One hundred percent Demona.
No. She couldn't have! he thought in a panic.
"Poor Brooklyn," she taunted. "Surely you don't think I couldn't have reversed the spell at any time. Even then, you forget; Iím immortal."
No! He turned. She put her hand on her chin and gave him a look of mock horror. "What have you done?"
NO! He leapt at her in almost mindless rage. She waited for the last minute, then spun around, kicking him in the jaw and slapping him down with her tail. He landed on the cement and lay there, trying to make his mind work, but it was stuck on that one thought. She was dead. And he had killed her. He glanced up as Demona stepped near, and tried to stop caring.
"And now you join her," she snarled, pointing a gun at him. He wondered briefly where she got it, then pushed the thought away. It didn't matter. Then a roar erupted from near him and a red-orange blur sprang up. "I don't think so!" the specter growled, and landed a neat right uppercut on Demona's chin, knocking her backwards. It paused a moment to spit to the side, red coloring it's mouth and the sidewalk. "Bitch," it muttered.
Demona struggled upwards and stared at the figure. She paled. "It's not possible! You're dead!" Ember smiled, showing blood-stained teeth. "No, really? I hadn't noticed." Then, with a feral roar, she leaped at Demona, her eyes blazing blue fury. The two females fell down, doing their utmost to kill each other.
Brooklyn leapt to his feet, one thought in his mind. To get Demona. He waited for the right moment, then struck. His foot connected with her shoulder, launching her away with the help of a fist in the stomach from Ember. The blue gargoyle sailed back, landing on a car. The crunch of metal bending and glass shattering echoed throughout the street. Demona sat up and shook her head, trying to dispel her dizziness. When her eyes finally focused, she saw two enraged gargoyles, their eyes glowing with fury, heading towards her. Choosing the better part of valor, she leaped to a wall and clambered up. When she gained enough height, she leapt off, swooping over the pair with a howling cry. They answered with their own cries, but did not follow. There were more important matters to attend to.
He turned back to face Ember.
"Brooklyn, next time you try strangling somebody, unless it's me, make sure their pulse stops, not just their breathing." She wiped her mouth, and her hand came away stained in blood.
"What about that?"
She glanced at her hand, seeming to notice the blood for the first time. "Oh, this?" She pulled back her lip, showing a fresh, gaping wound. "Bite and spit gently." She grinned slightly. "That believable, huh?"
"You have no idea."
Her grin faded. "Oops. I guess I shouldn't have played possum like that."
"It's not that, it's just....I'm sorry."
"For what? Doing what seemed like a good idea at the time? Don't be." There was an awkward moment of silence. Finally he glanced at the sky and cleared his throat. "We'd better get back. The others'll be worried."
"Yeah. And I have some apologies to make." Brooklyn held his tongue as they climbed the side of a building and headed home, deciding not to press the issue. Knocking some sense into her could wait for another night.
Then next night, at sunset
Brooklyn awoke with a roar and quickly turned, searching for Ember. He didn't have to go far. She stood behind him, hands in pockets and leaning casually against the wall. She pulled herself upright and smiled as he jumped down. Even in the dim light, he easily spotted the three white lines trailing down her left cheek. He reached out and gently traced their path.
"Ember, I...." She snuggled close and closed her eyes. "If you say anything even vaguely like 'I'm sorry' again," she stated in a calm, quiet voice, usually reserved for whispering endearments, "I'll break your arm." He couldn't help it. He broke into laughter, jolting her backwards.
She stood back, a hand on her hip. "Now it wasn't that funny," she chided, shaking a finger at him, as if he were a hatchling caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He doubled over, gasping for breath, at the image. Finally Ember grinned. "There. That should destroy any thoughts of apologizing from you."
"All right. I surrender. I'll stop."
"Good." She glanced at the East tower, where a gargoyle stood, silhouetted against the sliver of the crescent moon. "Vita's waiting for me. Coming?"
"Ah, no, I don't think so."
She shrugged. "Whatever." He watched her leap off the side and into the air, using the currents to glide up to the tower. Finally he sighed, closed his eyes, and leaned against the wall. How could she take this so lightly? He had tried to kill her, and nearly succeeded. How could she even stand him now?
What was that saying? If you love something, you have to let it go? Yeah, that sounded about right. Well, it looked like it was time for him to let go. He watched Ember disappear into the tower. He'd do it. He just wished it didn't hurt so much.
Let me out of here!!!! A.K.A. Home
I actually wanna go back. To see more bloopers.
Questions? Complaints? Flames? Send it all to Norcumi@backtick.net.
Ember belongs to me, though I'm not sure I'd claim her. Same goes for Vita, and sadly, the whole blorking plot. Don't steal, because this piece of writing sucks. Gargs as a whole, and basically everything in this story, belongs to Buena Vista and the Great Mouse. All used with the utmost respect, but not permission, no money is being made so please don't sue.