Things Can Be Reversed: “Return to the Underground”

“Him and his big ideas.  ‘C’mon guys, let’s go down to the underground city! We’ll have some laughs!’ WE’LL GET EATEN!”— Michelangelo

vlcsnap-2015-06-09-15h52m03s162

Written by: Marty Isenberg

Original Air Date: March 6, 2004

Teaser Narrator: Donatello

Characters and Concepts Introduced: Turtle Tunneler

Gargoyles episode I could make a very forced comparison to: N/A

Read more of this post

Advertisements

And that’s why you always leave a note: “Kingdom”

“You wanna be in charge? Speak now, or hold your peace.” — Talon vlcsnap-2015-03-09-15h41m32s231 Written by: Marty Isenberg and Robert Skir

Original Air Date: February 5, 1996

Introduces: Al, Chaz, Lou

Timeline placement: January 4 – 5, 1996

TMNT episode I could make a forced comparison to: “Garbageman

Read more of this post

Unwound: “The Cage”

“You’re just the experiment.” — David Xanatos

The Cage

Written by: Lydia C. Marrano
Original Air Date: November 16, 1995
Introduces: Beth Maza (Physical Presence); Vinnie Grigori (unnamed, 1st intentional, non-retconned appearance)
Timeline placement: December 19, 1995 – December 20
TMNT episode I could make a forced comparison to: “Triceraton Wars
[Content Note: Suicide, Depression, Ableism]

Read more of this post

List Post I: “Gargoyles” Characters who are fathers

If there were an actual "World's Best Daddy" award, you know Xanatos would do anything to get it.

Because it’s the middle of the night, I’m awake, and tomorrow is fathers’ day, I decided to make a list of characters from both Gargoyles and TMNT who are canonically fathers.

While compiling the list, one thing stood out, and that’s that there are more characters who are fathers than most people might initially think about.  Part of it is because several of them–specifically the historical ones–play only small roles within the Gargoyles saga, but another is because fatherhood is only part of their identities.  It’s part of who they are, but they are not fully defined by it.

One of the more interesting things about gargoyle culture is the way it deemphasizes biological parentage in favor of collective upbringings.  One of the major consequences of this is that the people who most stand out as fathers tend to be the humans, and that in an almost subversive reversion, it is the Goliath’s opposite number Xanatos who is, of the two, the one more defined by fatherhood.  This is partly because Xanatos’ relationship with Alex began during the latter’s birth, while Goliath’s began while Angela was already an adult, but it also makes historical sense.  We know that Xanatos’ own father, Petros, shaped and continues to shape Xanatos, while we know very little of just what effect Goliath’s bio-dad had on him.  And, as the series itself would claim, that’s neither good nor bad.  In the end, parenthood is what one makes of it, and there are no rules.

In any case, here’s the list, more or less in the order in which the characters were introduced.  Should anyone have any corrections or additions to make, please include them in the comments.

  1. Goliath (to Angela)
  2. Brooklyn (to Nashville; father-to-be to Egwardo)
  3. Hudson* (to Broadway)
  4. David Xanatos (to Alexander Xanatos)
  5. Peter Maza (to Elisa, Derek, and Beth Maza)
  6. Macbeth (to Luach)
  7. Prince Malcolm (to Princess Katherine)
  8. Coldstone/Othello (to Gabriel)
  9. Petros Xanatos (to David Xanatos)
  10. Findlaech (to Macbeth)
  11. Duncan (to Malcolm Canmore)
  12. Bodhe (to Gruoch)
  13. Halcyon Renard (to Fox)
  14. Mace Malone (stepfather to Jack Dane)
  15. Kenneth II (to Maol Chalvim)
  16. Talon**
  17. Arthur Pendragon***
  18. The Emir
  19. Mr. Dugan (to Rory Dugan)
  20. Oberon****
  21. Charles Canmore (to Jason, Robyn, and Jon Canmore)
  22. Gathellus
  23. Kenneth, a.k.a. “The Grim” (to Bodhe)

Edit: Thanks to Acara for noting these few I missed.

24. Leo* (to Lunette)

25. Zafiro*****

26. Jade*****

27. “Second” ******

Acara also noted that both Tom and the Magus could be considered fathers to the Avalon clan, as they along with Princess Katherine played the role of surrogate parents.  While a case can certainly be made for them, I would personally place them in that same gray area TMNT‘s Serling occupies regarding Cody Jones: while their importance in their upbriging cannot be overstated, it is unknown if members of the Avalon clan would consider them their fathers, or if either man would consider them their children.

* While secondary canon confirms that they are the genetic parents of those mentioned, this has not been confirmed within primary canon, and gargoyle culture hints that they do not feel this way regarding their children.

** Father-to-be, as per “The Rock”.

*** Although as of yet unconfirmed within the primary or secondary canon, his fatherhood of Mordred is a vital part of the Arthurian legend.

**** Secondary canon states that although he considers himself caretaker of all his “children”, the relationship is not biological in most cases.  However, secondary canon also hints that he is the biological father to a fraction of them, although whether he considers the relationship to be of importance is unknown.

***** Fathers to be, according to secondary canon.

****** “Second” is the production name given for a gargoyle extra that appears as part of the Wyvern and Avalon clans.  In order to explain the apparent contradiction, Greg Weisman established in the secondary canon that one in Castle Wyvern (and later seen as part of Demona’s Clan) is the father of the one in the Avalon clan.

Somehow, “I Told You So” Seems Inappropriate: “Metamorphosis”

Written by: Brynne Chandler Reaves & Lydia Marano
Original Air Date: September 5, 1995
Introduces: Maggie; Anton Sevarius; Fang; Claw
Timeline placement: ? – Sept. 11, 1995

Synopsis:

In the streets of Manhattan, a homeless woman looks on at a group of equally homeless men, as she converses with a sympathetic, well dressed, probably not homeless man.  She explains that she is not like them (they never are)–her situation is just a temporary setback.  Fortunately, the sympathetic man just happens to have a job opening for people just like her, and she offers homeless woman the position.

The next day, inside a private airport, Detective Elisa Maza watches  a glider swoop down from the sky. Its pilot is one Derek Maza, her brother. Once Derek lands, Elisa comments on how Derek missed on family dinner night, and asks if Xanatos was responsible for his abscence, starting another round of the “working for Xanatos is a baaaaaad idea” argument and the subsequent “I’m pretty sure Xanatos is not a Nazi” comeback.  Fortunately, he discussion doesn’t get too heated, and Elisa finishes by asking her brother to tell her if there is any trouble, which he promises by punctuating it with the old “cross my heart, hope to die” swear.

Night.  Inside a building labeled “Gen-U-Tech”, something not quite human is causing a stir, as we hear alarms ring and security guards running to the scene.  We see a lithe, winged creature attack the guards and escapes into the night.

Brooklyn and Broadway are gliding through the city when they spot our winged catgirl inside an alley.  Suspecting Demona–after all, there aren’t many winged females in Manhattan–they decide to land and check it out, and find out that they’re quite wrong: cat girl isn’t nearly as intimidating, and is in fact completely terrified of them.  The gargoyles don’t get enough time to explain themselves, however, as a couple of “ambulances” arrive at the scene, carrying the goons from before, armed with tranquilizer guns and other non-lethal ordnance.  Brooklyn tries to save catgirl, but only manages to make her drop the bracelet she’s wearing.

Eventually, the goons managed to recapture the beast.  At Brooklyn’s insistence, both gargoyles try to fight the goons and rescue the mutate, but a well placed shot from a tranquilizer puts the Gargoyles’ lancer out of commission, forcing Broadway to abandon the attempt and carry his rookery brother to safety.

Castle Wyvern.  Xanatos’ helicopter is making its landing and is met by Owen, who informs Xanatos of some “fascinating expense reports” coming from Gen-U-Tech: apparently, the head of one of Xanatos’ “special projects”, Dr. Sevarius, has been hiring mercenaries behind X’s back.  The billionaire decides that he’ll have to pay his employee a visit, and Derek, concerned about the mercenaries, decides that he’ll go as well.

Clocktower.  Brooklyn and Broadway have finished telling the clan (+ Elisa) of the night’s misadventures.  The two ‘goyles have one notable disagreement: while Brooklyn is convinced that the cat-creature wanted their–particularly, his–help, Broadway points out that everything he saw suggested the opposite.  Broadway also shows the clan the bracelet catgirl dropped, which Elisa identifies as a tracking device–“digital, long-range, expensive”–and which she nots is marked with the Gen-U-Tech logo, leading us to…

Gen-U-Tech.  Xanatos is asking Dr. Sevarius–whom we now see is the man from the opening scene–about the project he’d been charged with:  designing a creature using gargoyles as a template.  Sevarius exposits that since cloning gargoyles or working off their DNA was not an option, he had to merge the genes from several species into a chimera that managed to replicate their key traits; combining genetic material from bats (for their wings), jungle cats (for their strength, speed, and agility), and eels (for their unique energy source) he finally achieved a measure of success.

Derek, not terribly impressed with the doctor’s expospeak, comments that while it’s all very nice theory, it doesn’t explain why he’s been hiring mercenaries.  Sevarius nonchalantly explains that they were needed to recover escaped test subjects.  Also non-chalantly, he explains that said test subjects were humans taken from the streets and mutated.

Sevarius, soon realizing that his initiative and creative problem-solving skills are apparently not the qualities Xanatos was looking for in an employee (wait…), gets defensive, pulling out a dart gun and shooting Derek with it. This doesn’t down him, though, and the bodyguard earns his keep by disarming the mad scientist. As Derek notes that Sevarius’ dart seemed to have no effect, Sevarius gloats that the dart did not contain sedatives, but the mutagenic formula he’d used on the human subjects.

Xanatos demands an antidote for Sevarius’ mutagenic formula.  The scientist counters that while he can produce one, he needs time to actually make it, and has no desire to do so—he does not wish to destroy his work.  A lab assistant/goon announces that there are two policemen—Elisa and Matt—at the door, giving Xanatos the ammunition he needs: if Sevarius doesn’t work on the formula, he’ll just invite them inside to see the doctor’s work for themselves.  Terrified by that possibility, Sevarius stutters that Xanatos, being equally or more responsible for everything, would be in equal or greater trouble than himself.  Frankly, Sevarius, Xanatos doesn’t give a damn: he’s perfectly willing to go down for this, should Derek give the word.  Fortunately for the billionaire, Derek declines, asking for Sevarius to cure him first.  It’s going to have to be quickly though—he’s already changing.

At the clocktower, Elisa muses on how Gen-U-Tech is hiding something, and how there’s not enough evidence of probable cause to do anything about it.  Brooklyn murmurs how his ties, as the sun turns him to stone for the day.  At least he didn’t get interrupted midsentence.

Transitional scene: As Derek’s mutation progresses, Sevarius works on a cure under Xanatos’ eye.

The Manhattan Clan wakes up, and Brooklyn is raring to go rescue  cat lady, because “she needs [his] help”—something he believes wholeheartedly, despite any evidence to support the assertion.  Goliath sensibly tells Brooklyn that rushing in to rescue her without a plan won’t help her—fortunately, he has one. A plan.

The gargoyles make their way inside Gen-U-Tech and find Brooklyn’s “girlfriend”, but she’s in no mood to be rescued; using the intercom built into her cell, she calls for security, and, as Goliath frees the mutate, we find out that “security” is the Xanatos goon squad, last seen in “Deadly Force” (and although it’s not explicitly said, it’s patently obvious that they are also the men in white coats).  A quick shot from a tranquilizer gun sedates the mutate, forcing Brooklyn to carry her to “safety”.

At Sevarius’ lab, the bad doctor is about to give Derek the antidote when the gargoyles burst in, followed by the goon squad.  The battle resumes, and the general chaos causes Sevarius to drop the antidote.  Derek dives to save it, but fails.

Their task completed, the gargoyles make their escape.  Sevarius, trying to safeguard his creation, grabs Goliath by the leg, but the gargoyle effortlessly kicks him aside.  Unfortunately, the force of the kick causes Sevarius to crash against the eel tank, breaking it, and spilling both the animals and the water.  Dazed, the mad geneticist grabs, and gets the shock of his life.  ^_^

The gargoyles now gone, Xanatos makes his way towards the fallen doctor and checks for a pulse that is no longer there.  Sevarius is dead.

Derek’s bad day has just gone from horrible to worse; if he only had one more second, he believes, he’d have been cured; now, thanks to the gargoyles’ intervention, he’s fated to remain a mutant forever.  He vows his revenge on the creatures.  Xanatos, ever calm, suggest they make their exit before the police—including, most likely, Elisa—find them.  The billionaire promises he will find a cure for him and the others.

Inside the clocktower, the female mutate regains consciousness and finds herself surrounded by the clan.  “Were you human once too?” she asks, clearly scared out of her wits.  Upon hearing the negative, she insists that she is not like them—she’s a human “Maggie…Maggie Reed.”  The gargoyles try to console her, but she doesn’t believe them; she just wants things to go back to normal.

Goliath notes that sunrise approaches, and the gargoyles take their positions atop the clocktower roof.  Maggie watches as the six “monsters” turn to stone.  She does not take it well.

Sevarius’ lab, Gen-U-Tech.  The police, including Elisa and Matt, are making their way through the crime scene.  Notably, Sevarius corpse is nowhere to be seen, nor is the chalk outline which would indicate that his body had been removed by the police.  Elisa is looking through the company papers and finds what we already know: Xanatos owns Gen-U-Tech.

Sundown.  The gargoyles wake, only to find that Maggie’s gone, and had probably left just after the ‘goyles had turned to stone.  Goliath orders Hudson and Bronx to stay behind while the rest go to the castle.

At the castle, Derek, who is acting as the makeshift clan’s leader, takes his fellow mutates—including Maggie—for a gliding session.  As Xanatos watches, he instructs Owen to find him the best geneticist on the planet.

As they glide through the Manhattan sky, the mutates see the gargoyles approaching.  At seeing the people (he believes are) responsible for his condition, Derek orders his no-longer-men to attack.

As the two groups fight, Brooklyn tries once again to get through to Maggie.  No dice: the cat-lady still believes that he wants her to remain a monster.  In desperation, manages to emit electricity from her hands, a feat that Derek is able to recreate with Goliath.  Apparently, the eel D.N.A. isn’t just for energy.  Shocking.

Elisa arrives at the castle battlements and points her gun at Derek, stopping the fight between he and Goliath.  The policewoman asks the mutate why he’s attacking her friend; Derek, who identifies himself as “Talon”, explains that Goliath is responsible for his situation.  Elisa categorically denies Talon’s claim and offers to help him, doing the “cross my heart” swear…which Derek instinctively replies to, giving the game away.

Immediately, Elisa blames Xanatos’ for Derek’s fate; Talon defends the billionaire, saying it was an accident.  He accidentally shocks Elisa, which causes him to grow even more despondent.  Derek takes to the sky, followed by his fellow mutates.  The gargoyles, at Brooklyn’s insistence, decline to follow; clearly, their help is not wanted.  Chin up Brooklyn: you might have lost a potential girlfriend, but in exchange you got a clue.

With Derek gone, Elisa threatens Xanatos: “Now it’s war, Xanatos.  You’re going down for this, I promise you.  No matter what it takes.”

Not a tag: Xanatos is at his office when he Owen enters the office, leading a man in a trenchcoat and hat, whom the majordomo introduces as “the best geneticist on the planet”.  Geneticist removes his hat and coat; although he doesn’t look quite like him, Xanatos refers to him as Sevarius, so I guess that’s who he is.

Sevarius talks about his “death scene” with some pride; Xanatos thinks he overplayed it (yes).  They go on about how the plan was a complete success, even if it took months for the gargoyles to become aware of the mutates; although their four victims still have free will, the fact that they know Xanatos is the only person who could ever provide them a cure

Meanwhile, at the Clocktower, Elisa cries, alone.

—-

This episode is both a breakthrough and a disappointment. Its animation is rather terrible, the plot stretches believability to its breaking point, several of its details just don’t make sense, and its rewatchability is nearly nil. And yet…and yet…damn. What a punch in that last scene.

One of the things that people most mention about Batman: The Animated Series was its ability to make its villains tragically human. Two-Face, Scarface, and Clayface (the similarity in names is coincidential–I think) weren’t just villains, they were regular guys who couldn’t deal with the bad hands given to them by life. It gave their existence an element of tragedy that hadn’t been seen in cartoons before. Even so, they were still villains. We knew that they were going to become villains, the writers knew they were going to become villains, and once it inevitably happened, that element of pathos eventually faded away from their continuing narratives.

Derek’s story in this episode takes the Batman approach one step further, with one key difference: his fate is not a foregone conclusion, and in no way certain. Additionally, his status as Elisa’s brother and as a recurring cast member (his appearance here is his fourth, which means that at this point he’s appeared more than The Pack and just as many times as Matt Bluestone) means his story can’t just be ignored; his tragedy and how he adapts to it will continue to be a part of the series as long as it continues. What’s more, there’s the fact that this is indeed a tragedy, one that involves a good guy and which will not be resolved in half an hour. What other cartoon was doing that, at the time? Even with all its flaws, the episode carries a tremendous punch.

Last episode portrayed Xanatos as his villainous best, as he enacted a plan which was brilliant, atypical, and yet completely plausible in its execution—the prototypical Xanatos Gambit, as TVTropes would eventually call such plans. This episode, however, his plans take one step further and head into implausibility, into what would later be called a Xanatos Roulette—a plan so dependent on random chance to work that it requires omniscience to plausibly be conceived and executed successfully. And this one’s a doozy, requiring not only lots of improv, but riding entirely on no one being able to save Sevarius or his “cure”. While there’s indeed a nod to the role chance played—Sevarius mentions that it’d been months before the gargs’ took their bait—it’s still stands out as the series’ most implausible plot.

The whole plan to turn Derek also stands out for portraying Xanatos at his cruelest, reminding us that while he may be awesome, he is in no way good.  Until now, none of his plans had any real, notable consequences; his worst act–driving the gargoyles from his home–was also perfectly legal (note that we won’t learn of the extent of the whole Cyberbiotics thing until Outfoxed).  Here, he’s kidnapping people, lying to them, mutating them against their will, and possibly killing them (we don’t know how many test subjects Sevarius went through before perfecting his formula to make viable mutants–given science and his particular methods, I think “a lot” is a safe bet).  And, as I’ve mentioned before, it also proves that he’s lying when he claims to be above revenge.  After all, why specifically target Derek if not to get at Elisa?  Heck, had he wanted to, he could have rather easily gotten willing test subjects.  Imagine, for example, a man with a terminal disease, who can’t afford to care for his kids–surely, the odds are better than fair than he’ll find being turned into a mutant in exchange for security for his sons an acceptable deal, particularly if he can get rid of his disease in the process (not that we know if the mutagenic formula can do that, but it seems a logical-enough assumption).  All in all, while he’s not a complete monster, he’s nowhere near as cool as some would portray him.

Speaking of revenge, Elisa’s vow turns into one of the series’ rare series details that never got a proper follow-up.  Given her eventual sting to finally take down Tony Dracon, one would have expected Elisa to consider doing something similar to Xanatos, but nothing really comes off it.  It’s also somewhat difficult to reconcile an Elisa who hates Xanatos for what he did to her brother with the Elisa who seems accepting to the clan’s decision to return to his castle, and indeed who accepts party invitations from the guy.

This episode also expands the series’ rogues gallery by introducing Anton Sevarius to the mix. He’s a fun guy, Anton, very much in the mold of The Joker–he’s amusing until you realize he’s also a complete monster.  The fact that he’s voiced by Tim Curry–who was originally going to be the voice of Batman:TAS‘ version of the Joker–merely makes the comparison more apropos.  I have to say I don’t really get the design switcheroo.  We eventually find out that he’s still working publically as Anton Sevarius, using his look from the end of this episode, so…what was the point?

Random thoughts:

* Notable detail: While the woman in the first scene is obviously Maggie, she never really identifies herself until she’s already a mutate.  Technically, there’s nothing stopping Weisman from suddenly revealing that Maggie and the woman are different people.  Heck, if one where to run with it, it begets the question: what happened to her?

—–

As all of you must have noticed, this post is unforgivably late in the coming.  I’d been working on this post, but between schoolwork, driving lessons (yes–only 9 years too late), hip-hop and capoeira classes, and meeting new people, mean that by the time my day gets done, I just want to go to sleep .  So yeah.

Electric Boogaloo: Recap

In preparation for tomorrow’s (I hope) update on “Electric Boogaloo”, here’s a synopsis of what’s gone on so far.

The Story So Far

Over the past several years, the crime lord known as The Shredder has consolidated almost all organized crime in New York City under the control of his Foot Clan.

Twenty-oh-four: With the Shredder reportedly killed under mysterious circumstances and his 2nd in command Hun missing, the various elements of The Foot’s crime empire have begun fighting amongst themselves.  Thus far, three main factions have emerged: the Foot remnant, led by the Shredder’s Elite Ninja; the Purple Dragons, a street gang usually in charge of most of the Foot’s lower-level criminal activity; and The Five Families, a consortium of old-school gangsters that had been bought out by the Shredder, and who consider the current confusion to be their best chance at a comeback.

After a few skirmishes, the battle for control of the city finally grabbed the public’s attention when fifteen men were found dead at a Canal Street warehouse.  In response, the New York Police Department organized a special task force to deal with the escalating violence–one which, whether by design or happenstance, includes many of the same people who in 1996 formed part of the Gargoyle Task Force.

One of the people not in the Task Force is disgraced cop Longer, who relishes the opportunity to regain his lost reputation and honor.  To that point, he has begun investigating the strange going ons on his own, aiming to…what, exactly?

Thanks to a series of lucky accidents, the Task Force has been able to make some headway into the investigation, and they now have a vague idea of what they’re dealing with.  Meanwhile, task force members Martin Hacker and Lin Koyobashi have been making inroads of their own, and not quite of the positive type…

Dramatis Personae

The Detail:

Gordon Miller: Lieutenant assigned to head the detail by Chief of Detectives Sterns.  A pragmatist and realist, he has little hope of closing the case, but plans to do his damnedest.

Read more of this post

Electric Boogaloo, Chapter 5: Tony Dracon

Prison–or maybe just time in general–had not been kind to Tony Dracon.  Whereas he had once possessed a certain bad boy attractiveness that would have made him a succesful career date-rapist had he chosen to go that route, those looks had since eroded away into a man who looked far older than his thirty-four years.  His hair had gone gray, although one could still see a vertical streak of pure white running  along it.   His eyes looked permanently tired, and had lost any shred of confidence they might have possessed a decade ago.  A network of wrinkles had begun colonizing his face.  He might have been high.   Not that this was a great loss–to Elisa, the mobster’s looks now finally matched his inside.

“What makes you think I’ll help you?” Elisa repeated.

“We’ll, you’re a cop right?  Protect and serve and all that?”  Dracon said, trying to gesticulate despite having his arms handcuffed to a chair–Elisa was not in the mood to take chances.

“Sure, if you want to get technical…  Why come to me, thought?  There’s thousands of other cops.”

“Because I don’t need a cop, I need protection.  You’re the only one I know who can give me that.”

“That’s…pathetic.”  Still, while she hated to admit it, his instincts had been on the mark.  Gargoyles protect, even the dregs of society–how could she do any less?  If Dracon was indeed in danger, then that protection would (unfortunately) extend to him.  Of course, that didn’t mean she couldn’t make the best of it. “Okay, Dracon, you have my attention.  However, if you want my help, you’re going to have to tell me everything.  You’re going to tell me why you’re not in prison, who’s running your old turf, and everything you know about the massacre at the docks.”

“I noticed ‘who’s trying to kill you’ wasn’t in that list.  Anyway, the story goes something like this:

“About five years ago, me and all the leaders of The Five Families began getting visits.  I’m not exactly sure how it went for the rest, but for me, it was this Japanese guy, Kozue Nagayami–I think he actually did crap soap, he was so smooth.  In any case, he made me an offer–50 mil if we just abandoned our turf and gave all our products and contacts to their group.”

“Did the group have a name?”  Elisa asked, with obvious interest.  If true–and she knew that there was a good chance it wasn’t–this was career making intel.  The circumstances beyond The Five Families’ disappearances were the stuff of legend in police circles, with a thousand theories circulating.  To actually learn what had happened…

“Well, they didn’t really give us one, and I wasn’t exactly asking.  Still, anyone suicidal enough to talk to the cops will tell you they’re called The Foot–it’s really an open secret at this point.”

“The Foot, huh.  Doesn’t ring a bell.”

“It shouldn’t.  Rumor is they have ways of knowing if the police ever hear the name, and people who mention it to the wrong people don’t have a good track record of surviving.  Anyway, where was I…oh yeah: as a bonus, they’d have those of us who were in jail–and our top people–out on parole.  I still don’t know how they managed that.”

“And you took it.”

“Damn, Maza!  Of course I did!  I don’t know if you know, but by then, my crew was basically done–it’s a small miracle that I had any strings to pull with my group at all.  Plus, a carrot that big usually means a damn big stick.  So yeah, I took it.  I eventually got out on parole, and even after paying off my own people, I had enough money to do whatever I wanted.  Most of the other families did the same.

“So by the time I got out, the Foot already had the Purple Dragons working as their people on the ground on most of the city.  Anybody who was left wised up and decided that it was time to run.  And that’s the way it was for until now–prostitution, protection, narcotics…they were in charge of anything, and God help you if you tried to take it away from them.”

“So what happened?  I’m guessing they were weakened in some way, right?”

“Right.  A few months ago, word came down the grapevine that a group of crazies had somehow gone and killed The Shredder and that the whole thing had gone clusterfuck-shaped.  I don’t need to tell you how that’s turned out.”

“Um.  Yes, you do.  That’s the deal.”

Dracon sighed.  With marked hesitation, he began again.  “Fine.  So the five families got back together in order to make their bid.  As our first move, we were going to steal the Foot’s shipment of heroin and sell it ourselves.  It didn’t quite turn out that way, though.”

“The massacre.”

“Yup.  We’d managed to take care of all the Foot Ninja–yeah, ninja; don’t give me that look–when these two guys show up and just start wailing on us.  I’m talking some seriously fucked up shit.  You remember Pal Joey?  These one of these guys just punches him, and his face turns to…you know how mosquitos look after you squash them?  Like that.”

Elisa flinched.  She did not, in fact, remember Pal Joey, but she had seen the crime scene pictures which confirmed Dracon’s claim.  She and Cedric had been trying to determine what had caused that injury–the coroner’s report had been unsatisfactorily wishy-washy on the matter–but it never would have occurred to her that it had been made  by a fist–well, maybe it had been Goliath’s…  “So these two people, they were unarmed…” she not-quite-asked.

Dracon shot the detective a “what are you, stupid?” look.  “Yeah, unarmed.  They didn’t need them–they were like The Silver Sentry, but evil.  Fast, strong…nothing could hurt them.  And we tried, believe me.” He had a look with suggested contrition, which was not an emotion that Elisa would  have ever associated with Tony Dracon.

Summoning every reserve ounce of professionalism in a situation that was increasingly anything but, Elisa carried on with the interview.  “So, these two men…I don’t suppose you’d have their names…”

“Actually, I do.  Mr. Touch and Mr. Go.  They made sure we knew. ”

Elisa stifled a chuckle; although Dracon’s story wasn’t terribly implausible, there was a limit.  Dracon wasn’t laughing, though, and given that he’d given her what appeared to be their first solid lead  in the massacre investigation, she was willing to believe him, but still…Touch and Go?  Dracon’s physical description of the men didn’t help–they sounded like something out of a James Bond movie.  Then again, so had the Gargoyles.

“So what happened afterwards?  You survived, obviously.”

“Yeah–they weren’t paying too much attention, so I managed to play dead until they left and managed to sneak away before you cops came.  Of course, that wasn’t the end of it. ”

Dracon explained how,  as the sole (conscious) survivor of the initial massacre, he’d become the target of The Foot’s retribution.  In the past two days, his apartment had been torched, his car stolen, and his every movement watched.  Finally, he decided to take a shot with the one cop that had landed him in jail in the first place.

“So you see?  I’m a marked man.  You send me back to prison, and I wake up one morning with a knife stuck through my heart.”

Elisa looked at Dracon’s eyes.  He really did look high.  Still, she was convinced.  “Give me fifteen minutes.”

Fifteen minutes later, a tapping could be heard on the windows leading outside.  Elisa drew the curtains open, revealing their visitor, a seven-foot tall winged panther.

“Hey, Derek,” Elisa said nonchalantly.  “Thanks for coming.”

“No problem, ‘lisa,” said the beast–Derek.  “So, is this the guy?”

“Yup.  Talon, Tony Dracon—career criminal. Tony, Talon—ex-pilot, all around good guy.”

Talon moved to shake Tony’s hand, but desisted once he realized that Dracon’s hands were (still) handcuffed together.  Tony had yet to say anything, stunned as he was at the sight of a creature whose very existence violated everything he knew to be true.  And yet, even as his brain shut down from the terror, he felt a tiny blip in the back of his mind, almost like déjà vu…

“Tony, you alright?” Elisa said, bringing him back to the present.  “Like I said, Talon’s going to help you.”

“I’m going to take you to my home, The Labyrinth.  You’ll be safe there until everything blows over.”

Tony opened his mouth to complain, but nothing came out.  Even if this was a baroque plan of Elisa’s to have him killed—and his gut told him it wasn’t—it was better than dying at the hands of The Foot.  “Well, as long is it’s not someplace in the sewers…”

“Not quite,” Talon assured.  “We’ve fixed it up over the years, and now it’s actually quite homey.”

“Talon’s ready to take you whenever you’re ready.  Just say the word, and he’ll fly you over there.”

Keys in hand, Elisa moved behind Tony and undid the locks to the handcuffs.  “You’re free to go, criminal-man.  Just to let you know, once this is over and we patch up our leaks, I expect you to turn yourself in and tell everything you’ve told me to the cops.  You got that?”

“Will do—Scout’s honor.”  Then, more sober, he added, “Hey, Su—Elisa, do you have something private we could talk?  I’d like to tell you something, and I don’t need Bagheera here listening.”

Elisa led Tony to her bathroom and closed the door.  “What is it?”

“Well, I just wanted to thank you for doing this for me.  I know we kinda hate each other and all, but still, it’s real stand-up of you.  So thanks.”

“Don’t.  I’m just doing my job.  By the way, I do have something to ask you.”

“What?”

“You mentioned a couple of times that going up against The Foot is suicidal.  And yet you did it anyway.  Why?”

“Glasses.”  Tony answered brusquely.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Glasses.  You remember—my second hand man?  Black, wears horn-rimmed glasses?  Well, ever since I can remember, we’ve always been watching each other’s backs.  Best friends, he and I.  Well, he was with me that night on the docks.”

Elisa nodded.  According to the reports from that night, Glasses had been the only known survivor of the massacre, aside from Tony—although in the former’s case, it hadn’t been a particularly good thing.

“Back when I first heard about the Shredder, I got all gung-ho about the idea of going to war.  I was restless, bored…I had an itch.  One more big score for all the marbles?  Getting some payback on The Foot?  It was a dream come true.

“Well, the day after that night at the docs, I called Glasses to check in on him.  I got his wife, Nora, who told me that Glasses had been taken to the hospital—that the doctors told her that even if he woke up, he probably wouldn’t be able to function properly on his own—he wouldn’t be able to eat, talk, stand…

“People tell you it’s all part of the game—dying, getting caught.  Glasses and me?  We never really believed it—even when you were giving us trouble, we were like ‘this is nothing.’ This, however?  It’s too much.  Glasses, Nora, the kids…they didn’t deserve this. And I couldn’t even go visit them, with the Foot on my tail.”

Elisa knew the feeling.  For her first two years in the force, she’d been the same way, until Charlie, her partner back then, got killed working undercover trying to bust Dracon. It’s the kind of thing that sobers up a person.

“So yeah, that’s it.  I may not be brave enough to think I can get all Scarface on The Foot for what they did to Glasses, and I’m definitively not stupid enough to try to martyr myself for him.  Still, if I can hurt them in a small way without putting my life on the line, I’ll take it.”

Elisa stared at Tony’s eyes, trying to determine just how full of shit he was.  To her surprise, his little speech seemed sincere.  While she wasn’t about to give him credit for doing the right thing once doing the wrong thing had blown up on his face, she allowed herself to feel a measure of pity for her former nemesis.

Eventually, Tony and Elisa rejoined Talon over at the kitchen.  After a short conversation explaining to a bewildered Tony that yes, Talon was going to carry the gangster to the Labyrinth on his arms as if he were some damsel in distress, the two men flew into the night, once again leaving Elisa alone.

Elisa went to the fridge and fished out a bottle of beer.  Although she was now finally nodding off, the info Tony had given him needed to be organized before she began forgetting about the different details.  With Lacey resting on her lap, she turned her computer on and began typing.

*          *          *

Gordon Miller was exhausted.  The conversation had  lasted only a minute so far, and he had already been condescended to, subtly insulted, and riled up to the point where assaulting a superior officer seemed like an attractive option.  Chief Sterns may or may not have been good police once, Miller reflected, but he had a talent to compress an hour’s worth of conversation into one minute, a technique that at times involved shunning articles, adverbs, prepositions, and all sense of social grace–fun to watch, but hell when one was at the receiving end of it.

“This should not be so hard for you to understand.  No.” Stern said.  The “Fucking.  Way.” after the “no” was implied.

Stay calm, stay calm.  Even he can be reasoned with.  “Because you’ve yet to give an actual reason why you won’t allow a good cop–a good cop who’s not doing anything, mind you–join my dangerously understaffed detail.”

“Reasons?  Longer is insubordinate, troublesome, corrupt, irresponsible, a disgrace to this  police force, and a general pain in everyone’s ass.   The only way he’ll ever do any actual police work again is if everyone in One Police Plaza is killed in mysterious circumstances.  Now.  Ass.  Office.  Out.  Now.”

Fuming, Miller exited his superior’s office.  Stern’s argument may be one hundred percent grade-A bullshit, but that didn’t make it an ineffective one–after all, why should an insubordinate, troublesome, corrupt, irresponsible disgrace to the police force and a general pain in everyone’s ass be allowed to do police work?  The only problem was that the description fit 80% of the police force, and the fact that Longer off all people would be disciplined in this manner–even after the Ruffington debacle–indicated that something was very definitively up behind the scenes. However, he was not in the mood, or in the position to investigate–not when there was still a score of murders yet to solve.  For the moment, Longer was on his own.