This is an amateur, non-commercial story, which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. And so it goes.
It was one of those slow days at Ghostbuster Central, which translated into 'dead quiet', so to speak. Egon was sequestered in his lab, Winston was doing the laundry, Peter was dozing in his office, and Ray was on the second-floor computer, adding some case studies to the TobiNet bulletin board. Janine for her part was taking the "Cosmopolitan Compatibility Test", having already typed up the week's billings (both of them), mailed out five "lack of payment" letters, and consulted her Psychic LoveLine Counselor.
She had just reached question 6--"Does the man in your live give you flowers, chocolate, or other presents for no particular occasion?" and was debating whether rare fungi qualified when she heard the door open. Within seconds, the magazine was out of sight and the phone attached to her ear as she discussed a spectral problem with a nonexistent customer. With practiced ease she glanced up at the newcomer...and promptly let her jaw all but hit the desk.
"How do you do?" grinned the deliciously handsome, ruggedly built and expensively dressed stranger. "I'm David Xanatos." His smile, perfectly framed by a precisely trimmed mustache and beard, hinted at a mischievous, naughty nature that could--and often did--leave a woman breathless.
"P-P-P-Pleased," she gasped, making several attempts at hanging up the phone before succeeding. "Um...um...um...what can we do for you, Mr. Xanatos?"
His smile broadened. "Well, if it's not a problem, I'd very much like to speak to your employers about a supernatural problem I've been having. And when I'm finished with that," he added as he took her limp hand in his, "I'd like to take you to lunch, or perhaps Bermuda, depending on your preference."
Janine felt her insides fluttering wildly. "Ah...let me get Dr. Venkman for you." She shot out of her chair and raced over to the cluttered confines of what Peter allegedly called an office but was more accurately known as "the playpen". She shook the snoring psychologist roughly. "Dr. Venkman! Dr. Venkman! We've got a customer--and it's not just any customer!"
"Mmmph?" Peter said sleepily, his eyes blinking rapidly as he struggled toward conscious thought.
"It's David Xanatos, Dr. Venkman! And he wants to hire us!"
That woke him up. He cocked a wary eye at the receptionist. "David Xanatos? You sure?"
"Positive. I saw his picture in the Sunday Post society section. He's even handsomer in person!"
"Okay." Peter stood up and patted himself down, then strolled breezily over to where the billionaire was waiting. "How do you do, Mr. Xanatos? I'm Peter Venkman..."
Xanatos took his hand and pumped it firmly. "Pleased, Dr. Venkman. I'd like to talk to you and your colleagues about a problem I'm having..."
"Certainly. Janine...?" She was already summoning the others via the intercom and trying to make a fresh pot of coffee all at once.
"She's very industrious," Xanatos commented, which earned him a shy smile from the dazzled redhead. "And very beautiful. I don't suppose I could convince you to come work for me, Janine?"
"I think you could convince to do anything you wanted, Mr. Xanatos," she replied before she realized what she was saying. He smiled yet again at her, but this time it hinted at private, more intimate fun and games. Janine struggled to keep her knees from buckling, and checked to see that the coffee cups were all clean. Well, at least one of them, anyway....
* * * * *
Xanatos accepted a cup of coffee and leaned back in his chair. "I suppose you've been hearing things about me."
"Considering who you are," Peter said drolly, "that's not surprising."
"There have been some rumors," Egon conceded warily. "And there's also your arrest for stealing another company's data."
The handsome man nodded. "And I did serve my time. Past history, Dr. Spengler. But those stories you mentioned--are they about strange, winged creatures flying in the night skies?" Egon nodded; Xanatos leaned forward, wrapping his hands around the coffee cup. "What if I were to tell you that those creatures really exist?"
Peter shrugged. "We'd be more likely to believe you than most," he replied. "After all, weirdness is our business."
"Exactly!" Xanatos nodded vigorously. "That's why I've come to you. If I can't get the Ghostbusters to help me, who can I turn to?"
"So what exactly is going on?" Winston asked. "What are those things?"
"Gargoyles." Xanatos' face grew somber. "It's my fault. I unleashed them on the twentieth century, and now they're out of control. They hate me for waking them from their sleep, and they're dedicated to making my life hell as punishment." He proceeded to explain his acquisition of a mystical tome that described a curse placed on a clan of living gargoyles, how he had freed them from the curse, and how their inability to adapt to this new century drove them to madness and hatred of their benefactor.
"I've tried to handle this myself," Xanatos said as he sipped at the coffee. "I mean, I got myself into this mess, I ought to get myself out of it. But they've managed to elude me every time. I want to make things right and rid the city of their menace once and for all...but to do that, I can't do it alone. I need the assistance of the Ghostbusters."
"I don't know," Egon said. "Our specialty is more along the lines of the spiritual. Gargoyles are a more concrete problem, Mr. Xanatos." From anyone else, it would have been a bad pun, but the others just chalked it up to Egon being Egon.
"But that's not to say we aren't interested in taking on your assignment," Peter quickly interjected, visions of dollar signs dancing in his head.
"What Egon's saying, sir, is that our throwers and traps aren't designed to attack and contain this sort of supernatural entity," Ray explained to the billionaire. "We'd need to do quite a bit of research just to determine possible approaches to resolving the problem."
"Can't these 'throwers' of yours just blast them into pebbles, if all else fails?" Xanatos asked, a slight hint of irritation in his voice. "I mean, I want you to get rid of these things, one way or another. That's it. I don't care how you do it, just take care of it so they'll stop harassing me and endangering the city."
Egon's eyebrows arched over his glasses. "Again, Mr. Xanatos, we are not talking about ghosts," he said. "This is a new area for us. We cannot go in blindly without any idea of what to expect. That would be folly, if not suicide. I'm sure a man in your position didn't get there by just plunging into a venture without knowing the risks first. And," he added coldly, "destroying the gargoyles is not necessarily the most viable option. We don't always resort to trapping spirits--many times, we find a more peaceful solution. I would prefer to have all the possibilities laid out ahead of time."
"And the throwers aren't always effective," Winston added. "We've come across things that just laugh at the blasts, or worse yet, suck 'em up like Halloween candy."
"I see," Xanatos said quietly. He rose to his feet. "Gentlemen, if you're unable or unwilling to assist me..."
Peter saw opportunity preparing to vanish and thought quickly. "Wait," he said hurriedly; Xanatos turned around and gave him a questioning look. "Why don't you hire us on as consultants? We'll research the situation and provide you with a report of our findings. And if we do find a solution to your problem, you can just add our 'busting' fee onto the bill. If nothing else, you'll have the benefit of our knowledge and expertise."
Xanatos considered the proposition for a long time, stroking his beard as he pondered the possibilities. "All right," he finally agreed. "That sounds workable." He leaned over and scribbled something on a piece of paper, which he then handed to Venkman. "The first amount is for the consultation, the second for the work should you be able to get rid of the gargoyles. Are those figures acceptable to you?"
Peter's eyes popped. "Oh yes," he said faintly. "Those will be...just fine..."
"Excellent." Xanatos rose to his feet and smiled. "Well, gentlemen, I'll have all my data on these creatures forwarded to you. If you need anything, contact my people at this number." He handed the still-stunned Peter a card. "And I'll have a temp sent over shortly."
"A temp?" Egon asked.
"Yes. I'm taking your lovely secretary to lunch." Janine was standing by the stairwell, her coat on and purse slung over her shoulder. Xanatos gallantly offered her his arm, which she accepted with a giggle. "Until then, gentlemen. I expect to hear from you by next Friday."
"Wow," Peter said, his eyes still fixated on the piece of paper in his hands. Winston peered over his partner's shoulder and did a double take. "Double-wow," the black man breathed.
"Well, this is going to be great!" Ray said, rising from his chair and hurrying over to the computer. "I'll check TobiNet for any information about gargoyles and see if anyone knows of anything we can use!"
"I'll hit the Manhattan police precincts and see if I can get copies of any reports on 'gargoyle sightings'," Winston volunteered.
"I'll call the newspapers and see what they've got," Peter offered. "And if we manage to get any eyewitnesses, I can talk to them, too."
Egon's gaze was still set on the spot where Janine and Xanatos had been standing. "I don't like this," he said tightly to no one in particular. "I don't like this at all..."
* * * * *
The gargoyles awoke at dusk.
As the final rays of the setting sun retreated behind the horizon, the cold, hard stone surface of the six crouching figures surrounding the Clock Tower began to crack and shatter. Powerful limbs stretched and pushed, sending the fragments flying in every direction. The evening air reverberated with joyous cries of freedom and the welcoming of the night.
The bulky gray gargoyle who called himself Broadway scratched his ample stomach. "I'm hungry."
"So what else is new?" said Lexington as he scrambled down from his perch and hurried inside the Clock Tower. His small, lithe frame leaped into the air, but instead of falling, the wings beneath his arms helped him glide gracefully over to a computer terminal. He sat down in front of it, turned it on, and began to type rapidly.
Brooklyn rubbed his nose--a pigeon had been pecking on it all day--and picked a few leftover shards of stone out of his long blonde mane. "So, whadda we doin' tonight, guys?" He went over to the stairwell door and opened it, picking up a battered newspaper that had been left on the floor. "Have to thank Elisa for these. Hey, there's a Knicks game tonight--anyone interested?"
"Nah," Lex said, peering at the terminal. "I thought I'd cruise the Net tonight. Hey, look what I found on TobiNet!"
"What's a 'tobin net', lad? Some sort of snare?" The aged warrior named Hudson paused in his path toward the oversized easy chair that sat directly in front of the television set, and instead walked over to the computer.
"No, no. It's a computer bulletin board about supernatural stuff," the tiny gargoyle replied. "And someone's asking for information about gargoyles?"
"Gargoyles?" rumbled a deep voice from behind; the two gargoyles turned to find their leader, Goliath, staring down at the terminal. "Who is asking about us, Lexington?"
"Hard to say. Lots of people prefer anonymity on this board, and use nicknames instead of their real names. But hey! This is too cool! I know who this is! It's Dr. Stantz!" When it became clear that none of the others recognized the name, Lexington resisted the temptation to roll his eyes and sighed. "He's one of the Ghostbusters!"
"The spook catchers?" Hudson frowned, rubbing his bearded chin. "What would they be doin', pokin' around in our affairs?"
"Maybe they suspect there're gargoyles in New York?" Broadway suggested.
"Well, we haven't exactly been invisible," Brooklyn pointed out, snatching a few Doritos from the bag Broadway was holding. As the group looked over Lexington's shoulders, Bronx, their faithful watchbeast, walked back and forth around their legs, whining softly, but none of them noticed.
"Perhaps someone's hired them to investigate," Goliath said thoughtfully.
"These boys don't just 'investigate', lad." Hudson frowned, then felt a frantic pawing at his leg and looked down. "Ah. Sorry, Bronx." He left the group and fetched an overcoat, leash, and pooper-scooper at the door. "I'll be back, lads. Bronx needs walkies." He and the huge beast clambered down the stairs, shutting the door behind them.
Goliath glanced at the time at the bottom of the screen. "I have to meet Elisa in a few minutes. I'll ask her opinion about this." He hurried to the staircase that led to the outside door, then paused before leaving. "Perhaps it would be a good idea if the rest of you remained here tonight," he ordered more than suggested. "No sense in being among the people if there's a possibility of trouble." He pretended not to see the disappointment on Brooklyn's face as he left.
The three gargoyles looked at each other. "So, whattya wanta do?" Brooklyn asked.
"I dunno. Whattya wanta do?" Broadway replied.
An evil smile spread across Lexington's face. "You know, guys..."
"What?" they asked in unison.
Lexington's eyes shone with malicious glee. "Well, if the Ghostbusters want to know about gargoyles, the least we can do is share our considerable experience with them..."
"I don't think Goliath would like that," Broadway pointed out, but Lexington wasn't listening.
...such as the fact that we eat raw meat, preferably human..."
A nasty smile now covered Brooklyn's face as well. "And we can turn invisible at will, and are extremely prone to violence if we're threatened..."
"Yeah, yeah!" cheered Lexington, his fingers flying over the keyboard. "Keep it up, keep it up!"
Broadway pondered the matter. "If anyone disturbs our rest during the day, we can turn them to stone..."
* * * * *
"...and they like to mate with human females, preferably virgins, twice a month, and they're telepathic, too, and can go through solid objects?" Ray said, a look of sheer puzzlement on his face.
"Oh, please," Egon retorted, rolling his eyes.
* * * * *
"The Ghostbusters?" Detective Elisa Maza pushed her long black hair back over her shoulder and looked up at Goliath. "Why would they be interested in you guys?"
"That is what I would like to know," the hulking gargoyle replied. They were walking through one of the darker, quieter sections of Central Park, ostensibly on patrol. The muggers of late had, however, for some reason chosen other places to work.
Elisa bit her lip. "Well, I guess it was just a matter of time. When you think about it, the rumors and gossip about you guys were going to lead to this sooner or later. The Ghostbusters like to check up on anything weird."
"Do you think we are in any danger?" Goliath asked.
She sighed and glanced up at the sky. "To be honest, I don't know. They're really good, Goliath. Very smart and with a lot of resources. Sooner or later, they're going to find you. What happens then..." She shrugged, then her face brightened. "Unless, of course, we go to them first!"
Goliath's head tilted. "What do you mean?"
She turned to face him, her features filled with excitement. "What if I went to their office tomorrow and arranged some sort of meeting? Then it would be on our terms, and that would lessen the danger to both sides. What do you say?"
Goliath sighed. "I'm not sure...the more who know of our existence, the greater the danger to our survival..." He finally nodded slowly. "Very well, Elisa. You are our friend. I...trust you."
"Thank you," she said softly, her eyes bright.
"Arrange a meeting...but not at the Clock Tower. Somewhere neutral."
"How about right here?" Elisa suggested. Goliath nodded again, this time adding a smile to the assent. She grinned back at him. "Okay. That's done. Now, let's get busy serving and protecting."
* * * *
David Xanatos studied the information scrolling down his computer terminal and smiled to himself. "Another day, another million..." He glanced up and saw the smile reflected off the reinforced bulletproof glass that shielded him from the night. He admired himself for a moment or two, then lifted a glass of Chablis off his desk, sipped at it, and leaned back in his chair. "Come in, my dear."
She moved with inhuman grace, emerging from the shadows with slow, sensual movements. Her slender, muscular frame rippled under soft blue-gray skin as she drew closer to where he sat. Her unruly mop of flame-red hair accentuated the crimson glow in her eyes. She was hypnotic. She was erotic. She was as psychotic as she was beautiful. She was Demona.
"How goes it...this time?" she asked curtly, the words softened by her accent.
"Quite well, actually. They're on the case. I'm sure we'll hear back from them very soon." Xanatos smiled again and offered the glass to Demona; she smiled back and accepted it, draining the contents with one deep gulp. She carelessly tossed the empty glass over her shoulder, where it fell and shattered on the marble floor.
"Just what do you gain from their involvement?" she demanded, leaning over his desk. Her wings were tightly wrapped around her arms and chest; Xanatos could just barely see the outline of her shapely form and her perfectly muscular limbs. Oh so beautiful, and oh so deadly. The perfect combination, as far as he was concerned.
Xanatos grinned and lifted one hand. "First," he said, ticking each item off his fingers, "knowledge is power. The Ghostbusters have access to a great deal of information that is difficult to obtain through normal means. Anything they can dig up that we don't currently have is to our advantage. Second, they've got a great deal of experience battling the paranormal. Their weapons might not be able to kill Goliath and the others, but they can hurt them. Third, they're the perfect front. No sane person really believes that what they've done is real, and those who do believe are usually dismissed as crackpots. And finally, despite their continual bungling and bickering, they do get lucky from time to time. They might just manage to rid us of Goliath's interference."
"You seem extremely confident about this," Demona said skeptically. "And you seem to know a great deal about these....'ghost busters'."
"Their secretary was all but falling over herself, telling me about them
today," he grinned. "Yes, I'm confident. But look at it from our point of view.
At the very least, we gain more information about your former clan, and
gargoyles in general. That's information we can use to improve our Steel Clan,"
and he motioned at the screen, where a computerized prototype of a robotic
gargoyle was displayed. "And again, who knows what else could happen?
"I still don't understand why you resort to such games!" the gargoyle suddenly spat out. "With your resources and power...you could easily find them and destroy them! Why can't you just..."
Xanatos stopped her with an upraised hand. "Because I choose to do things this way," he said simply, smiling all the while. "Your problem, Demona, is that you see everything in terms of black and white. You just charge right in and battle. I prefer the more subtle approach...a game of chess, where you have to pay attention to both the individual moves and the overall game." He leaned forward. "And since I'm the one supplying you with weapons and backup, I'm the one who decides how to proceed."
They locked gazes for long seconds; finally, Demona turned her face away from his. "All right," she finally conceded. "We'll try this your way...for now."
"You won't regret it," Xanatos promised. Demona gave him a scathing look, but said nothing more.
* * * * *
"All right," Egon announced to the assembled group as he spread a heavily marked map of Manhattan on the dining table. "Using the information Mr. Xanatos provided, along with police reports and several calls we've received over the past few months, I've identified all known sites of gargoyle sightings. Notice the heaviest concentration of activity is within a two mile radius, here." He pointed at an area riddled with red crosses.
"Implies their home is somewhere around there," Winston noted.
"And the Xanatos Building is in there, too," Peter said. "Makes sense. Maybe they're carrying a grudge against the guy?" He looked up from the map. "Janine, could you bring some coffee over?"
The secretary scowled, but grudgingly complied. When she returned with a tray of cups, though, Egon pointedly avoided looking her way as he accepted the cup from her, and his fingers carefully missed touching hers.
"Now then," the scientist continued. "Ray and I contacted the Manhattan Building Preservation Society and inquired as to how many buildings in that particular area had any sort of gargoyle ornamentation on them. To be safe, we also requested a list of all buildings in New York with gargoyles, but that won't be available for a few days.
"Interestingly enough, about the time the sightings began, the Manhattan Clock Tower, here," he pointed to a black circle on the map, "received a contribution of six gargoyle statues from 'an anonymous donor'. Ray and I flew over on ECTO-2 this morning and took some pictures." He placed six black-and-white photos on the table. "I suggest that we conduct an inspection of the building later today, after our calls."
"Sounds good," Peter nodded. "But Ray had better wait in the car when we go. You know how they feel about virgins and all." Stantz blushed furiously and muttered an "Aw, Pete" as they pushed away from the table and headed downstairs. Egon folded up the map and pretended not to notice Janine, who was standing there tapping her foot expectantly.
"Well?" she demanded imperiously.
"What is your problem?" she asked archly.
"I don't have a problem," he replied coolly. "How was your lunch with Mr. Xanatos?"
"It went just fine," she replied icily. "And when you decide to stop taking
me for granted, I'll stop going out with handsome men who ask me to lunch!"
His angry gaze could have melted icebergs, but he said nothing, merely turned his back on her and walked downstairs. She stared as his vanishing back for a minute or two, then threw the coffee cup at the wall. It shattered into a thousand fragments.
* * * * *
Elisa had meant to catch a few hours' sleep, then head over to Ghostbuster Central in the early afternoon, but the night had kept her so busy that when she finally got home, she stretched out onto the bed and immediately fell asleep...without setting her alarm.
When she finally awoke, a bleary-eyed glance at the clock informed her that it was now 4:25 p.m. "Oh, blast!" she cursed as she struggled to her feet. "Well, shouldn't be too bad." She grabbed a stale donut left over from breakfast and hurried out the door. "Just have to hope I can get there before sunset..."
* * * * *
Janine Melnitz had spent most of the day alternating between cursing the name of Egon Spengler and worrying about his safety. Why did he have to act like such an idiot, sometimes? Why was it the only time he paid her any attention was when someone else was as well? Men!
Having finished everything on her "to do" list, she was leafing through the pile of police reports and phone interviews the guys had compiled. From time to time she glanced at the photographs Egon and Ray had taken aboard ECTO-2, wondering how those rock-solid statues could possibly come to life. Then again, given what she herself had seen since her first day at Ghostbusters, who was to say what was impossible?
She was midway through the final report when one particular detail caught her eye. Frowning, she rummaged through a previously read report and ran a finger down the page until she spotted what she'd been looking for. Then she pulled the photographs over and studied them carefully.
"Six statues," Janine said, her finger moving from figure to figure. "Wait a minute..."
Egon had read all the data several times; he surely would have noticed that several of the reports clearly indicated the presence of a female gargoyle. And yet, when Janine looked at the photographs of the Clock Tower, there were clearly five male gargoyles and one...something. No female.
Why hadn't he caught that? What was its significance? Should she go to him and say something...or let him find out for himself? What should she do?
"Ooooh..." She grabbed her purse, then remembered the time. Rush hour. No way could she wade through all that Manhattan traffic and get there before sunset. And a nagging feeling in the back of her head was warning her that every minute counted.
She looked around the firehouse...and her gaze fell upon the bizarre contraption known alternately as ECTO-2 and "the flying deathtrap". She thought about the danger. She thought about Egon.
Then she changed into her pink coveralls and dragged ECTO-2 outside, the light from the setting sun gleaming off its metallic surface.
* * * * *
"Blast, blast, BLAST!" Elisa Maza muttered under her breath as she maneuvered around the rush-hour traffic. She slapped her steering wheel with the palm of her hand and cursed the mountain of paperwork that had kept her at work longer than usual last night. If only she'd remembered to set the alarm...
It seemed like an eternity, but at long last the familiar "no ghosts" sign came into view. Elisa's eyes narrowed as she watched someone in a Ghostbusters uniform push a bizarre-looking contraption out of the garage and into the street. She slammed her foot on the accelerator and roared down the street until she was directly in front of the vehicle and its would-be driver.
"HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!" Elisa yelled, leaning out the window and flashing her badge. The Ghostbuster--a woman with a wild mop of red hair--turned in her direction and glared at the detective. Elisa rushed out of her car and hurried over. "Detective Elisa Maza, NYPD. I need to see the Ghostbusters--right now."
"They aren't here," the redhead replied testily. "I'm on my way to help them on an investigation. Now if you'll excuse me..."
Elisa started. "Wait! This wouldn't have anything to do with...gargoyles, would it?"
The Ghostbuster froze in mid-motion, her eyes narrowing as she studied the detective. "What do you know about it?"
"Plenty. They're my friends."
"You...hang around...with gargoyles?" The redhead's voice was an interesting cross between skepticism and amazement.
"Hey, you work with guys who zap spooks and giant marshmallow men. Don't start lecturing me on where to pick up guys." Elisa shook her head. "Look, Miss..."
"Melnitz. Janine Melnitz."
"Miss Melnitz, you've got to take me with you before it's too late!" Elisa took a deep breath. "Listen to me. Goliath and the others are my friends...but they don't trust many humans. If I'm not there...if one of your friends gets trigger-happy with those ray-guns they use, there might be trouble...someone could get hurt." Elisa glanced over her shoulder--it was too far to go by car, especially in this traffic. "Please."
Janine thought about it for a minute or two, then shrugged. "Okay. If you're willing to risk your neck riding along, fine by me." She tossed Elisa the spare helmet. "Climb on board."
As Janine throttled the engine in preparation for liftoff, Elisa tapped her shoulder. "You do know how to fly this, don't you?"
"Sure!" Janine didn't think it appropriate to mention that while Ray had carefully instructed her in how to operate ECTO-2, she'd never actually taken it up on a solo run. "Hang on--here we gooooooo!"
* * * * *
Peter looked around the huge interior of the Clock Tower. "Be it ever so humble..." he said, wincing at how his voice bounced from wall to wall.
Ray and Egon had their PKE meters out and were spreading out, waving the devices around and studying the readings. "Low-level radiation," Egon reported. "Something akin to but not quite PKE. Fascinating."
Winston walked past a huge recliner and examined the television set. "Huh," he grunted, peering around the back of the TV. "They've even got cable! Mind you, it's an illegal hookup..."
"Hey, look at this!" Ray exclaimed as he neared the computer. "Full modem hookup and a list of phone numbers....hey! TobiNet is on here!"
Peter shook his head and sighed. "So what we have here are a bunch of gargoyles who are computer geeks and couch potatoes. Yeah, right." He heard a noise, and turned to spot Egon standing in front of a huge cache of chips, soda, cupcakes, cookies and fruit. "And junk food junkies as well."
"Mmmf I mmf mffing..." Egon said as he turned around, then slowly finished chewing his mouthful of Doritos before continuing, "As I was saying, Peter, there is a definite residual radiation here. Something paranormal has a perpetual presence here."
"Say that five times fast, I dare you," Peter replied. "Guys, it's obvious to me that someone lives up here, but you haven't given me a single reason to believe that big stone creatures are the tenants!"
"Well, let's go outside and take a look at the statues," Ray suggested.
"And no one's ever explained to me how stone statues can move and bend, much less fly," Peter grumped to Winston as they ascended the stairway leading outside. The door opened reluctantly, and Peter had to give it a hard shove to get it to close. Egon and Ray headed straight for the gargoyle directly in front of them, scanning the statue thoroughly and buzzing excitedly to one another. "I hope the mad scientists finish up soon," Peter said to Winston. "I've got tickets to the Rangers game."
"Hey, hang tight," Winston assured him. "If they're right, no way Ray and Egon will let us stick around while these things come to life." He suddenly looked thoughtful, then frowned. "Let me put it this way. No way I am going to stick around while these things wake up, no matter how much they want to stay and watch!"
"I hope you're right," Peter said, shivering as he glanced over his shoulder at the hideous visage of one of the gargoyles. "I feel like I'm being watched, you know? Maybe we should have brought the packs up with us..."
* * * * *
Cleo Miller had seen a lot of strange things from his gas-station cashier window. But the sight of two women zooming down out of the sky in some weird-looking doo-dad was a strong contender for first place. He watched, mouth agape, as the machine bounced once or twice on the pavement before rolling smoothly to a stop in front of a pump.
The woman driving the thing jumped out first, grabbed the nozzle and plunged it into what was hopefully the gas tank; the other stumbled to her feet and staggered over to the window. "N-N-NYPD," she croaked, flashing her badge with a shaking hand. "Ch-charge it to their account!"
Cleo nodded and took down the badge number for future reference. Meanwhile, Elisa stumbled over to where Janine stood. "Typical men," she was cursing under her breath. "Can't put the seat back down, and can't fill the tank before they come home!"
* * * * *
"Definite correlation to the readings we got inside," Egon said to Ray. They were standing beside a huge, four-legged cross between a gargoyle and dog, comparing readings.
"Hard to believe," Stantz said, patting the head of the bizarre creature beside him. "Geez, this one looks like a terrordog!" His enthusiasm dimmed momentarily as his hand detected an odd vibration coming from the statue. He glanced to the west; the sun was diving below the horizon. "Hey, Egon?"
Spengler was squinting at his PKE meter, taking a few more readings. "Yes, Ray?"
"We'd better leave. The sun's almost set."
Egon looked up and studied the darkening sky. "You're right. I think we've accumulated enough data for now, anyway." Peter and Winston were already at the door, tugging at the doorknob with increasingly desperate motions. "Is there a problem, Peter?"
He turned and smiled weakly at the scientist. "The door's either stuck, or it locked behind us when we shut it."
Egon's eyes widened in alarm. "This is bad. This is very bad." Winston was crouched over the keyhole, trying to poke every key on his chain through the tiny opening, to no avail. Ray glanced over his shoulder and realized he'd left his gigometer beside one of the statues; he hurried over to retrieve it.
"Ray, look out!" Before Egon's horrified eyes, the stone creature beside Ray began to shake violently; its shell cracked and shattered into a thousand tiny shards as something within it came to life. Peter and Winston heard their partner's cry and turned to see what was going on, but before they could move, the other statues began to quake and splinter as well. Arms and legs stretched in all directions, and low, menacing growls and grumbles reverberated in the evening air.
"Uh-oh," Winston said.
The gargoyles stretched their limbs into the night sky, sighing with pleasure as they moved. They turned around and discovered the intruders in their domain, and the sighs became ominous in tone. The dog-like creature beside Ray began to sniff him ominously, a low warning growl building in his throat. Sweating profusely, the chubby Ghostbuster stood as still as the creatures he'd been studying only minutes before.
"Well, well, lads," said one of the gargoyles, the eldest of the bunch from the look of it. "What have we here? Trespassers?"
Another gargoyle, this one gray and packing a huge belly, licked his lips in anticipation. "I'd say dinner, myself. I've always loved a good smorgasbord..."
And then there was a quiet whoosh as the biggest damn creature any of the Ghostbusters had ever faced glided down from above and regarded them with an angry, burning gaze. "Who are you?" he demanded in a thundering voice.
The Ghostbusters glanced at one another, then three gazes froze on Peter. "Uh, we're the Ghostbusters," he said as casually as he could. "We had a report on some major-league weirdness going on around here, and so we came by to check on it. Now that we've confirmed it, we'll just be on our merry way, thanks for your time, call my secretary and we'll do lunch sometime, ciao baby, and all that..." He started to move toward the door, but a warning growl from the monsters made him freeze in his tracks.
"You are trespassing," the huge bluish-gray gargoyle said in that low, rumbling voice. "You should not have come here. Why have you come looking for us? Didn't Elisa warn you to leave us alone?"
"Elisa?" gulped Ray. "Who's Elisa? Uh, nice doggy..."
And as if on cue, ECTO-2 soared into view. "Goliath!" Elisa yelled at the top of her lungs. "Goliath--it's okay! They didn't know! Don't hurt them!"
Peter squinted at the approaching vehicle. "I didn't know Janine knew how to fly that thing."
"Neither did I," said Ray. But the redhead managed a relatively smooth landing atop the roof; Elisa jumped out of the machine and ran over to Goliath's side. "Goliath," she said breathlessly, "I'm sorry. I overslept today, and by the time I got to their headquarters, they were already on their way here." She glanced down at Bronx, who was still sniffing at Ray and growling. "You stop that right this minute, you overgrown puppy!" She playfully smacked him on the nose; the watchbeast whimpered slightly and backed off, but wagged his tail hopefully at Elisa.
Goliath looked down at Elisa, then at the Ghostbusters, who'd taken advantage of the momentary confusion to gather together. "There was no harm done," he admitted to her.
"There was none intended," Egon said, stepping forward. "We were hired to investigate the rumors about a group of gargoyles harassing our client."
"Let me guess," Elisa said with an expression of distaste. "David Xanatos."
Egon nodded. "He claimed that you," nodding to Goliath and the other gargoyles, "were punishing him for having woken you from your curse."
"Hardly," Elisa sniffed. "Xanatos wanted to use Goliath and his clan to expand his power base. They defied him, so he's tried time and again to destroy them. They're the only ones who've managed to stop his schemes. This must be the latest one."
Meanwhile, Lexington had stepped up to Ray's side. "Uh, excuse me," he said shyly. "My name's Lexington. I...kind of answered your request on TobiNet the other night." He rubbed the back of his bald head. "Sorry about that."
"You wrote all that stuff?" Peter said in surprise. "All that garbage about invisibility, and walking through walls, and preferring virgins for mating...?"
"Virgins?" Elisa and Goliath said as one; Lexington turned a darker shade of green and hung his head sheepishly as everyone had a good, long laugh. "Virgins?" the detective said again as she fought to catch her breath. "If they needed virgins to survive, New York would be the last place on Earth they'd live!" Goliath gave her a funny look and opened his mouth as if to say something, but he caught himself and shut up.
Broadway walked up to the door and with one push opened it easily. Once inside, introductions and explanations were quickly exchanged between the gargoyles and the Ghostbusters. When everyone was finished, Egon rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Obviously, Xanatos was not completely honest with us," he said to his partners. "Since that is the case, I suggest we return his money..." he ignored the pained look on Peter's face, "...and inform him we're dropping the case."
"That won't stop Xanatos," Elisa warned. "He's used to getting his way. When you've got the money and the influence to back it up..."
"There is also the matter of keeping our existence secret," Goliath rumbled, studying the Ghostbusters with his deep, piercing eyes.
"Hey, no sweat," Ray said cheerfully from the computer; he and Livingston
were checking their e-mail on TobiNet. "We've found out about all sorts of stuff
that we've never told anyone about. One more thing won't hurt!
"And besides," Peter said, aiming his most charming smile at Elisa, "no one ever believes us about the stuff we do talk about. Your secret's safe with us, big guy."
Goliath turned toward Hudson. "What do you think, old friend?"
The elder gargoyle frowned and studied the Ghostbusters carefully. "Well, lad, the dark-haired one's a smooth talker, but I think he's tellin' the truth. And if he isn't..." He leaned forward, letting the humans get a good look at his scarred, yellowed left eye. "We'll be visitin' at the first opportunity."
Winston shook his head and smiled. "Man, I tell you, the weirdness never ends," he said quietly.
Brooklyn put a friendly hand on his shoulder. "Yeah, but it keeps things interesting, y'know?" The Ghostbuster turned around and gasped in surprise at the gargoyle, then laughed and nodded. "It sure does, m'man. It sure does."
Meanwhile, Janine and Egon had moved over to a corner of the room. "As much as I appreciate your timely arrival, Janine, I do have to wonder why you came here," the scientist was saying.
"Because of the female gargoyle," she replied. The room suddenly grew quiet, with everyone turning to stare at the couple.
"What female?" Egon demanded. No one save Elisa saw the pained look on Goliath's face.
"You must have been distracted," Janine said. "Those police reports mentioned a female gargoyle a few times, but your pictures showed only the guys, so I figured maybe she was lying in wait to attack anyone who bothered them, and I..." She blushed and looked away shyly.
Egon smiled and gently took her arm. "Thank you," he said softly. "And I'm sorry."
"Okay," Janine said, looking up at him with shining eyes.
"Well," Peter said loudly, "since we really don't have anything else to do here, why don't we leave and let these guys do..." He looked around and scratched his head. "Say, what is it you guys do?"
"We protect!" Hudson said proudly, whipping out his sword and lifting it high.
"We watch over the city," Goliath clarified, a smile on his lips.
"Except for Broadway," Brooklyn added, nudging Winston and pointing over to where the bulky gargoyle was shoveling chips and candy bars down his throat as fast as he could. "He just eats."
"Mmmm dooof mmmot!" the gargoyle tried to protest amid the laughter.
* * * * *
Demona paced back and forth across the floor, still seething over Xanatos' orders. "I'm going out to see how our friends are doing," he said as he shrugged into his overcoat. "You stay here."
"I am not your servant or your pet," she hissed warningly.
"So long as you need weapons and assistance, though, you follow orders," he replied, then (foolishly) turned his back on her and left. That had been an hour ago; Demona had spent the time devising wonderful ways of killing both Xanatos and Goliath, preferably slowly and painfully.
"I am not his servant," she muttered angrily. "I'm not!" She stomped over to his computer and turned it on, hitting the proper keys as she'd seen him do time and again. Xanatos had made the stupid assumption that she was ignorant; on the contrary, gargoyles in general had a phenomenal curiosity and the ability to watch and learn quickly. Those abilities served her well now as Demona carefully accessed the program that activated the robotic gargoyles Xanatos called his "Steel Clan".
Xanatos was not a fool; the program required his personal password in order to activate the Clan. He obviously had some regard for Demona's cleverness. But in his egotistical folly, the human had chosen a ridiculous password:
His ego and weakness for puns would be his undoing, she thought happily to herself as she activated the Clan and passed on her commands. She would take the Clan out for a flight and see if Goliath and his fellow fools were anywhere around. And if they just happened to find Xanatos along the way, and there was a battle...well, accidents did happen....
* * * * *
Elisa and the gargoyles were standing outside the Clock Tower, looking down at the street and watching the Ghostbusters leave in their noisy vehicle. A few moments before, Janine had taken off in ECTO-2 after shooing Lexington away from the vehicle. "Well, that went fairly well, didn't it?" the detective said cheerfully to Goliath.
The hulking gargoyle didn't look happy. "They are going to defy Xanatos," he said softly. "That bodes ill for them. It...concerns me."
"They're big boys," she assured him. "They can take care of themselves, believe me. These guys took out a giant marshmallow man who was attacking the city!"
"Mmmmm," Broadway said, licking his lips at the thought of toasted marshmallows. "They didn't take out a giant Hershey bar and some graham crackers at the same time, did they?"
"No, no, no," Elisa laughed.
"What a neat machine they had," Lexington said wistfully. "I wish they'd given me a chance to fly it."
"Given what's happened to machines we've borrowed," Brooklyn reminded him, "maybe it's best that they didn't."
Goliath glanced over at Hudson. "What do you think?"
"Well...no one ever suffered from having a guardian angel or six watchin' over them," the bearded gargoyle said with a grin. Not waiting for his leader's orders, the old warrior leaped into the night and spread his wings, floating gracefully in the direction the Ghostbusters had gone.
"Hey, maybe you'll get your chance to take that ride," Brooklyn said to Lexington as they, along with Broadway, followed suit. Goliath watched them leave, looking a bit surprised that they hadn't waited, then sighed and shook his head. "Oh, well," he said, spreading his own wings and tensing to jump.
A sharp poke on the arm made him pause and turn around. "Hmmm?"
Elisa looked up at him, tapping her foot impatiently. "Well?" she said pointedly. Goliath sighed again and scooped her up in his arms, then jumped over the edge of the building and soared into the night sky.
* * * * *
"What a night," Peter yawned as ECTO-1 rolled into the firehouse.
"Got that right." Winston turned off the ignition and leaned back against the seat. "I'm ready for a good night's sleep. And if I'm lucky, I won't have dreams about flyin' stuff, either."
"Boy, the things we learned!" Ray gushed as he got out of the car. "And I was able to get it all down on the laptop, too!" Suddenly the lamp sitting on Janine's desk clicked on, and the Ghostbusters froze at the sight of David Xanatos sitting there, his facial features sharpened by the play of light and shadow.
"Productive day, I take it?" he said quietly.
Egon stepped up to the desk. "I'm afraid we're terminating our agreement with you, Mr. Xanatos," he said.
The bearded man nodded amiably. "I understand. That's fine. I'll be happy to release you from the contact...as soon as you provide me with the information you've gathered."
Egon shook his head. "I'm afraid that's not possible."
"I'm afraid it is." Xanatos slowly rose to his feet and leaned over the desk until he was practically nose-to-nose with the Ghostbuster. "Dr. Spengler, we had a two-part agreement. The first part specified that you would research this problem for me and offer solutions. The second, contingent on your findings, was to rid me of their harassment."
"You deceived us," Egon declared tightly. "The truth is that you are harassing them."
"You have only their opinion on that," Xanatos remarked.
"I have more reason to believe them than you," Egon retorted.
"Ah, so you made contact with them, then. Good." Egon blinked, startled that he'd given away such valuable information so easily. Xanatos smiled and walked around the desk. "Gentlemen, again--we had an agreement. I am legally entitled to the information you compiled. You are legally obligated to provide that information to me. If you deny that data to me, then I'll see you in court....and I'll bury you." There was no menace in his voice, which made the statement all the more chilling. Xanatos held out his hand. "The data, please."
And then the firehouse doors exploded inward, and Goliath came flying backward through the debris, just barely missing ECTO-1. Everyone scattered as the huge creature slammed into--and through--Janine's desk...and the file cabinets...until he finally came to rest just in front of the back wall.
"Oh, damn," Xanatos muttered under her breath. "Why couldn't she obey orders just this once?" He turned toward the Ghostbusters. "I suggest we postpone this discussion for the moment. You'll need to get your packs and throwers ready."
"What?" Peter yelled--yelling because a volley of explosions from outside filled the air. "What's going on?"
"Oh, Demona's been a bit too observant for her own good, and I forgot to change my damned password again!" He ran to the doorway and groaned at the carnage before him; Demona and the Steel Clan were soaring helter-skelter across the sky, chasing Brooklyn, Broadway, Lexington and Hudson and firing wildly at their living counterparts. The gargoyles scrambled desperately from building to building, struggling to escape the relentless barrage. And above it all, Xanatos could hear Demona's horrible laughter as she led the way.
He suddenly noticed Elisa Maza standing in the middle of the road, firing her handgun futilely at Demona. The gargoyle smiled as she aimed her weapon at the lovely detective and fired. Xanatos raced forward, slamming into Elisa and knocking her out of harm's way with seconds to spare. "Detective," he gasped as he rolled off her. "Always a pleasure."
"What the hell are you doing, saving my life?" Elisa demanded, nonetheless following Xanatos to a nearby alleyway and momentary safety. "Come to think of it, what are you doing down here instead of up there with them in your cybernetic armor?"
"This wasn't my idea," Xanatos answered, peering around the corner and leaping back as an energy blast sent brick shards flying past his face. "Demona's gotten a bit out of hand, that's all." He turned toward the detective. "I swear I had no intention of starting any trouble. I was just concluding some business with the Ghostbusters."
"Duck!" she cried, wrapping her arms around him and pulling him back as a volley of blasts exploded just in front of them. They lay entangled in each other's arms for a moment, then Xanatos pulled away--almost reluctantly, Elisa mused--and raced back to the alley entrance as a new series of sounds filled the air. "What is it?" she cried, rising to her feet and joining him. "What's going on?"
"The cavalry has arrived." The Ghostbusters had emerged from the firehouse, their packs on their backs and throwers in their hands. Peter and Winston took aim at an approaching steel gargoyle and fired at full power. Unfortunately, the beams simply reflected off the robots' armor and quickly dissipated into the night sky. The Ghostbusters watched despairingly, then scrambled for cover as the Clan robot fired a barrage back at them.
"Damn. Built them just a bit too good this time," Xanatos muttered, then his face brightened. "But maybe, just maybe...SPENGLER! STANTZ! THE WINGS! AIM FOR THE WINGS!"
The Ghostbusters wasted no time in determining who provided the information; they simply changed their aim and were almost immediately rewarded with the sight of their blasts puncturing a pair of metallic wings. The wounded robot tumbled helplessly out of the sky, crashing into the street and exploding as it hit.
Peter and Winston quickly double-teamed a second Clan warrior, with similar results, then hit the street themselves as a screaming Demona sent a volley after them. But now, given a reprieve, the gargoyles took full advantage of the moment and took to the sky once more.
Lexington alit gracefully on the back of one Clan robot and covered its visual receptors. Brooklyn did the same on a second; then they guided the two blinded automations toward each other and jumped off second before the collision. Broadway, meanwhile, abandoned the subtle approach and simply dive-bombed his targets, slamming into them with his full weight and sending them plunging to the ground. And Hudson's sword glittered in the moonlight as it rose and fell again and again, leaving deep gouges in his unliving foes.
"I don't get it," Elisa said, glancing up into Xanatos' face. "Why are you helping them beat your team?"
"I didn't start this fight," he replied. "I want it ended, and quickly. Might teach Demona a lesson about following orders. Besides," he added with a grin, "you saw what happened. The wings are obviously too vulnerable, as I tried to point out to my staff last month. Now I can go back to my research teams with proof and they'll improve the design for the next batch."
"Great," Elisa groaned. "Just great." She gasped as she saw Goliath stumbling out of the firehouse; the gargoyle was holding his head and shaking it from time to time, as if trying to cast off the pain and confusion in his mind. Unfortunately, the detective was not the only one to see his emergence; Demona smiled nastily and swooped down toward her former lover, aiming her weapon at his chest.
"GOLIATH! NO!" Elisa cried. The giant creature looked up at the sound of her voice and saw his death closing in on him. And he did nothing further but stand and wait.
Demona's finger tightened on the trigger.
And she suddenly screamed as two fiery bursts of energy tore through her wings. From high above on ECTO-2, Janine Melnitz smiled in satisfaction as she watched Demona tumble helplessly out of the sky, a fallen angel with tattered wings. She hit the pavement hard, bounced, and rolled over on her side, dazed and moaning in agony.
"Gotcha," Janine muttered as she closed in on the last operating Steel Clan robot, which was currently grappling with Hudson. The wily gargoyle watched her descend as he kept the automation's attention fixed on him; seconds later, he leaped into the air and watched as two well-placed bursts from the Ghostbuster craft roared through the Clan robot, destroying it instantly.
"Hold your fire!" Egon yelled; Peter, Ray and Winston stopped firing and watched as both the gargoyles and ECTO-2 landed on the street. Janine tumbled out of the flying vehicle and raced into Egon's arms, hugging him tightly. Xanatos flashed one final grin at Elisa, then stepped out of the alleyway. "Well done, gentlemen," he said cheerfully.
"Xanatos," Goliath growled. "This was your doing."
"Not this time," the billionaire replied, shaking his head. He went over to where Demona lay, her tattered wings wrapped tightly around her body as she whimpered piteously to herself. "I'm afraid this was all her idea."
"With your assistance," Brooklyn noted nastily. He started to take a step toward Xanatos, but both Hudson and Broadway put their hands on his shoulders and stopped him.
"Believe what you wish," Xanatos told them. A black limousine carefully maneuvered around the potholes and debris; Xanatos opened the passenger door and carefully, almost tenderly placed Demona inside. Then he walked up to the Ghostbusters. "Again, my apologies about all this," he said. "My people will be contacting you about repairs to the street and building. I'll be happy to pay for all damages...on one condition." He held out his hand toward Stantz.
Egon, Ray, Winston and Peter looked at each other for a long moment. Then Ray nodded and went inside the firehouse, emerging a moment later with a floppy disk. He handed it to Xanatos, who tucked it in his shirt pocket. "A pleasure doing business with you, gentlemen," he said politely, then bowed to Janine. He walked with deceptive casualness to his awaiting limo, where Elisa was waiting. "Well?" he asked her.
She frowned, then looked away. "I...believe you. This time," she added hurriedly.
"Thank you." To everyone's surprise, he took the detective's hand and kissed it, then got inside the limo and closed the door. The humans and gargoyles watched as the vehicle pulled away, vanishing around a corner about two blocks away.
"That's it?" Broadway declared angrily. "He just walks away, and we let him? With Demona?"
"If Elisa believes him," Goliath said quietly, giving the flustered detective a long look as he spoke, "then I believe her. There will be another time, another reckoning. This confrontation is over."
"Geez, what a mess!" Peter sighed, leaning against Hudson.
"Aye. But what a grand battle," the old warrior replied, then groaned as he flexed his arms and wings. "I'm gettin' too old for this, lad."
Goliath turned to Egon and Ray. "My sincerest apologies for what has happened
here. We were worried that our....friends...might be in danger." He smiled at
"Well, you turned out to be right," Ray pointed out. "And everything worked out all right in the end, didn't it?"
"Except we gave Xanatos all the information we compiled about these guys," Winston pointed out gloomily.
Ray smiled slyly at his friend. "Did we?"
* * * * *
David Xanatos returned home and had Demona's injuries tended to. He then went to his office and turned his computer on. The first thing he did was to change all of his passwords. Next, he sent a memo to the Steel Clan Development Team, giving them a detailed report of the battle and his recommendations on improvements to the metal warriors...especially the wings.
He wiped a sheen of sweat off his forehead and realized that Demona had once again disobeyed his orders and fiddled with the thermostat. "I don't know why she likes it so damned hot in here," he muttered as he reset the temperature, then opened a window to let the cold winter air in. He took a deep breath and savored the sharp crispness of the breeze, then returned to his desk.
Then he inserted the disk Ray Stantz had given him and began to read.
For a long time the only sound in the darkened room was the soft hum of the computer's fan. Then a soft chuckle was heard. Then another. And another. And then Xanatos began to laugh long and loud.
"Invisibility?" he roared. "Intangibility? Virgins?"
His laughter echoed through the dark, empty office, through the open window and into the night.
What the hell, someone had to be the first. This was the first officially published "Gargoyles" fanfic. And believe me when I say I had visions of Disney's lawyers at my door when I gave it to Sheila. Fortunately, nothing came of it.
When reading this, you have to remember that only the first series of "Gargoyles" had run when I wrote it. Thus, there are a lot of things in here that the second series makes pretty much hash of (such as the Xanatos-Maza flirtation and Demona getting hurt). But it was a lot of fun to write, especially the scene where the Trio gives Ray "inside information" on their species. And the look Goliath gives Elisa over the "virgins" remark. You can just guess what he's thinking.
One of things that bugged me about "Gargoyles" was the fact that, to be blunt, it shouldn't be that difficult to determine their hiding place. Of course, if Xanatos prefers not to know, then it's not such a big deal.