Disclaimer: Gargoyles is owned by Disney and Buena Vista Television. The characters Sharon Nomura, Sara Jasper, Sata, Graeme, Ariana, Nudnik are property of The Gargoyles Saga.
Summary: Brooklyn’s perspective on September 11, 2001
Author’s note: The research conducted for writing and editing the story came mostly through repeatedly watching videos of what happened in New York that fateful day. Needless to say, it wasn’t that easy to have to watch, but it gave me some insight as to how people actually in New York reacted to the catastrophe. So, without further ado...
The Eyrie Building, New York City, New York
As I woke up and cast off my stone skin I realized that a crowd was gathered in the castle courtyard. Elisa was there, along with Matt, Xanatos and many other friends of ours.
We turned and glided towards them; Goliath asking them what had happened before his feet touched the ground.
Elisa embraced him tightly, crying as though she were a waterfall. We noticed further that many of them were also crying and if they weren’t, they were hanging their heads, or wearing a grim expression.
None one of them answered for a few minutes until Sharon, a panther-like mutate, cleared her throat, “The city’s been attacked.”
“What happened?” I asked, repeating Goliath’s question with a touch a dread, but nothing prepared me for the answer.
“The World Trade Center was hit by two commercial airliners early this morning,” said Sara Jasper in a numb voice. “Another one hit the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and a fourth plane went down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We don’t know how many people are dead. Maybe two thousand, maybe more, but the planes that hit the towers demolished them completely. They’re gone.”
An unnerving silence passed over all of us. Then Angela burst into tears with Broadway trying to comfort her. Lexington, Hudson and Bronx raced inside obviously going to catch what was being reported on the news.
Sata and I looked toward each other for a moment before rushing back up to the battlements with our children in tow. As I looked at where the Twin Towers should have been, I saw two pillars of smoke rising from that area. “Jalapeña,” I said as I squeezed my wife’s hand and sighed. “Let’s go down to the entertainment room.”
“Dad, shouldn’t we be helping them?” said Graeme.
“That all depends on what Goliath thinks, Graeme-kun,” I responded.
I cut him off, becoming a little impatient, “What do you expect me to do, Graeme? Provide more body bags?” Both of my kids eyes’ were shimmering with unshed tears and I bowed my head, suddenly filled with shame at my outburst. I then knelt down on level with them and touched their shoulders.
“I’m sorry, kids, but...this news caught me more than a little off guard. We’re supposed to be protecting the city. I thought after the trouble we faced with the Unseelie Court, it would end. Maybe not forever, but it would’ve wound down considerably for a while. Now this happened...and we were asleep. If there is anything we can do about it, we will, but right now I think the best thing we can do is gather as much information as possible.” I turned my full attention to my son and gave him a strong hug. “I’m sorry I snapped at you, Graeme.”
He did his best to dry his eyes and said with a weak grin, “That’s okay, Dad.”
By this time, most of the crowd had dissipated. No doubt having the same idea as I was: gathering information. We walked back to the courtyard. Talon, Maggie, Sharon and Claw remained waiting there for us.
“What happened in the Labyrinth?” I asked.
Talon looked down, swallowed, and said in a hollow tone, “We thought at first it was an earthquake. A few of the walls were dislodged by the impact, but nothing too serious. I ran over to see if there was anything on the news...and got what was probably the second biggest shock of my life. It was at about 8:45 this morning.”
I patted his shoulder reassuringly. “Come on, we’d better join the others.”
The whole castle seemed silent as the rest of us converged into the entertainment room. Upon arriving, I noticed everyone sported a pale face. Goliath and Hudson blanched visibly as we watched the second plane hit the East Tower, while Angela resumed crying. Lexington and Broadway didn’t show any reaction beyond, if it was possible, becoming even more pale. All of a sudden, my knees felt weak and I stumbled against the doorway. I heard my family speaking to me concernedly, but it barely registered as echoes of the Wyvern massacre whispered in my head. But this was worse than Wyvern. Oh so much worse.
I shut my eyes against the image of the tower, but in my mind it continued to resonate.
Three hours later, the majority of the people remaining in the building had calmed down as best they could. Elisa’s parents had gone home at 8:30, as had Matt and Sara. The mutates were still there, having left Delilah and Malibu in charge of the Labyrinth. From what we could see from the news reports, it was a suspected terrorist attack. ‘Worlds collide again,’ I thought to myself angrily. I had just gone through viewing the towers’ collapse and was now standing by my roost alone, digging my talons into the masonry in frustration and horror. Horror because, in addition to seeing footage of the collapse of the towers, I had seen people jumping out from them. As though the news could not get any more grim, Elisa revealed that Officer Morgan, a friend of the clan in the NYPD as well as someone who fought with us against the Unseelie Court, had been in the East Tower when it collapsed. There were no signs he was still alive.
“Beloved?” said a voice behind me. It was Sata.
I didn’t turn around. My eyes were fixed on where the World Trade Center had once stood. ‘Just where are the people who won’t go home to their families tonight, because of you, whoever you are who planned this? You bastard,’ I thought, my frustration increasing rather than decreasing. The stone block I held in my grip had almost become gravel.
“My love, are you...”
“No, I’m not all right, Sata. We should have done something,” I said, finally turning my head her way.
“There was nothing we could have done, Brooklyn-san, we were asleep,” said Sata, but I could see it was frustrating her just as much.
I sighed, stretched my wings, and jumped onto the parapet. “Where are you going?” asked Sata, worry in her voice.
“I’m going to see if there’s anything I can do to assist with the rescue effort. Those people need as much help as they can get. Besides, Sata, I’m tired of sitting and waiting around here twiddling my thumbs,” I said, becoming impatient again. “Tell Goliath and the rest of the clan I’ll be back in a few hours.”
“She will not have to,” said Goliath, coming up the stairs. He seemed to have regained his composure. “If you feel the need to go, then you may proceed, but I do not want you going alone. The airports have been shut down across the country, so be careful. People may be wary of anything with wings.”
I bit my tongue against a retort, but in the end I agreed and stepped off the parapet. “All right. Sata, you’re with me. Tell Elisa, Lex, Talon and Sharon they’re coming. I also want Bronx and Nudnik. If there still are any survivors trapped in the ruins, they may be able to sniff them out.”
“Good, you must tell the others of your plan...I think I shall leave you in charge of this,” said Goliath.
I opened my mouth to protest against that, but Goliath was already walking downstairs.
I glanced at Sata again, and then embraced her closely as though she might dissolve. I was so glad she was with me at that moment.
Very reluctantly, I parted from the embrace and said, “Time to gather the herd,” and we went downstairs ourselves. She grabbed my hand and squeezed it for encouragement as we went. I did the same.
Once I relayed my idea to the rest of the crowd, it quickly became chaotic. Everyone decided to volunteer, even David and Fox. I watched and was filled with exasperation as they jostled each other with reasons to go.
“Derek, you shouldn’t go! What will happen if they see you?”
“I’ve been standing idle long enough.”
“Can’t I come?”
“You? Ha! You couldn’t even find your way out of the castle!”
“Graeme, I’m warning you...”
“Maybe I should...”
“Stuff it, Xanatos.”
“Watch it, fat boy!”
Needless to say, I was starting to admire the fact that Claw couldn’t talk. Only he, Goliath and Sata wisely stayed out of the erupting argument, which showed no slowing down and became progressively more and more heated after five minutes.
Thirty more seconds had passed before I snapped out, “ENOUGH!”
Unfortunately it didn’t have the desired effect I was expecting. They all turned towards me.
“Brooklyn, you know I’m just as capable a leader...”
“We’ve never had to deal with a rescue operation this size!”
“What if we get injured ourselves trying to help them?”
“Brooklyn, you know David and I are willing to help.”
“Oh, right. You were such a big help the night the Unseelie attacked.”
“Are you calling me weak?!”
“Why do any of you have to go?!”
“Lad, shut yuir trap!”
Another memory suddenly leaped forward. I heard Demona’s voice saying, “They can’t share their own homes without fighting, and you think they will share this world with us...they hold each others’ lives completely without worth, do you really think they will accept us with open arms?”
‘Not if they see us like this,’ I thought.
I chose to let my anger get the better of me.
“SHUT UP!” I roared, my eyes flaring white.
“I’m wondering just what started this argument,” I snarled, looking at each of them in turn. No one replied. “ANSWER ME! NOW!” They all flinched.
“We have no time to be squabbling like housewives, goddamn it! In case none of you have noticed, our city, as well as the country, has just been attacked.”
Lex opened his mouth, but I shook my head at him. He closed it again.
“I don’t want an apology from any of you, because that’s not going to help anyone who may still be trapped in there. Are we clear on that?”
The group nodded.
“Good. Now if someone can offer a solution to getting there, I’m all ears. Gliding is going to be restricted until further notice. That goes for the Labyrinth Clan as well. If we risk that there’s a strong possibility the police, and possibly some civilians, may shoot us down on sight.”
Xanatos cleared his throat.
“What is it?” I asked him wearily.
“Well, I happen to have about three recreation vehicles down in the parking garage that we could use. Ordinarily I have no need for them, but considering the situation...” he fell silent.
“Okay,” I said, quickly thinking back to the plan I had relayed Goliath. “I’ll only be taking a small team. Sata, Lexington, Talon, Maggie, Sharon and Broadway are with me. Elisa, you’d better go and make way for us. As for the rest of you, stay here and field our communications. Everyone who’s with me, pick up any shovels or any sort digging equipment and lanterns you can find around here. Better bring Bronx and Nudnik too. Let’s move!”
“Owen, take Alex to bed,” Xanatos said to his majordomo.
“Of course, sir.” Owen left with Alex in the direction of Alex’s bedroom.
“I’ll call Matt and tell him and Sara we’re on our way,” said Elisa, taking out her cell phone.
Across the room, I saw Goliath nod his approval in my direction with his arms crossed. I returned the nod with a strained smile, and then left for the nearest storage shed.
I thought to myself, ‘Forty-five years of being a leader, and I’m still not used to it,’ I quickly shook it out of my head and asked the group at large, “Does anyone know how to drive this thing?”
“It can’t be all that different from riding a motorcycle,” Lex said sarcastically.
“Lex, that is enough,” I snarled at him. “The last thing I need is another cynical comment from you. Got it?” My eyes once again produced a white sheen. Lex nodded nervously. “Good. I’m going to be driving. Talon, help me navigate.”
I took my place behind the wheel, pausing for a moment before I decided to speak. “I hope you can all understand that I’m not trying to dictate anyone here. I just wasn’t prepared to deal with this.”
“None of us were, Brooklyn,” said Sharon.
I looked at her a moment, but stayed silent. I turned frontwards again, let out a deep breath and started the ignition, heading out of the garage.
Now that I was on ground level, it was even more disconcerting. The city seemed to have died with the towers. What few people there were on the streets appeared to be very distraught, and paid little attention to the gargoyles and mutates exiting from the Eyrie Building’s parking garage.
“Which way, Talon?”
“Left on 6th Avenue, then another left on 57th, and another left on 7th Avenue. Don’t worry though, it’s all on the same block.”
“Thanks. Do I have to turn anywhere once I’m on 7th?” I asked, having just left 6th Avenue behind.
“Nope. All you have to do is go straight ahead. If you need anymore help, feel free to ask. I’m going to talk with Maggie for a minute,” said Talon as he left his seat. I just nodded absently, thinking to myself how simpler it was living in Scotland when I was a hatchling, the Magus and the Phoenix Gate having been no more than the barest whisper in my ears. I was interrupted from my drifting period by a tap on my shoulder.
“You can go anytime, you know. The light’s still green,” said Sharon, smiling at me.
We were still on 57th. There came the sound of a few light (as well as half-hearted) chuckles from behind me, but I ignored them. “Oops,” I said, somewhat embarrassed, and refocused my attention to driving.
Embarrassment wasn’t the greatest of feelings to be having at that moment, but it came as a real relief when compared to what I have been feeling the last few hours. And seeing Sharon smile...hell, seeing anybody smile, did much to stamp my frustration underfoot.
I chuckled a bit at my brief mistake before turning onto 7th Avenue.
“Feeling better?” Sharon asked, having taken Talon’s vacated seat.
“Yeah, yeah, a lot better. Thanks, Sharon, for making a complete fool out of me,” I said with a grin.
“Anytime,” said Sharon, grinning herself.
Five minutes later, the laughter and grins had died down. We were beginning to see the buildings ahead coated in dust from the impact. A police barrier stood on the block and I put the brakes on the RV. A police officer slowly made his way towards us.
“Okay, I need to see your license and regis...” The thirty-something policeman trailed off as he got a good look at the driver. Namely, me.
“Ernie? Ernie Pastorek?” Talon asked from behind.
‘Ernie’ shook himself and narrowed his eyes. “Who’s that?”
“It’s Derek Maza. We got partnered a few times during our training flights, remember?” said Talon, unwilling to show himself.
“Maza! Where the hell have you been hiding the last six years? And what are you doing with the...gargoyles, anyway?” asked the cop, still staring at me.
“Long story, Ernie,” said Talon with a sigh.
I took that moment to intervene by opening the driver’s side door and slowly coming out with my hands in front of me. “Uh, hi there. My name’s Brooklyn,” I said, trying to be as genial as possible. I paused, then turned my head back towards the door, “Derek, come on out. I think appearances are going to be the least of our troubles at this point.”
Talon slowly shuffled outside. “Hey, Ernie. It’s been a long time,” he said.
Ernie simply stared at the mutate, not saying a word.
When I felt the silence had gone on long enough, I once again intervened. “Hey, Ernie, are you still with us?” I asked him, snapping my talons under his nose.
It broke him out of his daze. He stared at me a moment longer, then turned his attention back to Talon. “Jeez, Maza, what happened to you?” asked Ernie.
“Dr. Frankenstein found me,” said Talon, perfectly deadpan.
“But that’s not why we’re here,” I said, cutting in again. “We wanted to see if there’s anything we can do to assist with the rescue effort.”
Ernie’s eyes went wide. “Are you crazy? I could lose my badge if I allow you within that area!”
“Do you really think that matters right now? Over two thousand people have died today! There may still be people dying while you’re having us wait here!” I said grimly, getting frustrated for probably the millionth time that night.
I expected him to look frightened or angry or both, but instead he sighed like a defeated man and took out his radio. “Captain Jennings? This is Unit 27 over on 7th Ave. Over.”
“Damn it, Pastorek, what is it?” said the voice, sounding extremely irritable over the garble of the walkie-talkie. I threw a quick withering glance at it before he spoke again. “I’ve got my hands full trying to coordinate the dig through Tower 1 with a dozen other precincts breathing down my neck, so whatever you have to say, spit it out already!”
“There are some gargoyles here demanding that they be let through to help with the effort,” said Ernie. “I’m having a hard time trying to dissuade them.”
As he said that, I rolled my eyes in further exasperation. I suddenly felt as though I’d be running in circles with the police the whole night. But my exasperation was replaced with surprise a few minutes later when I heard the captain’s response.
“Do it! We got the go ahead from the 23rd Precinct. Now let them in, and don’t bother me about this again. Out,” said Jennings with an audible click, signifying to the rest of us that he had just turned off his radio.
We merely stared at each other a few moments before Ernie shrugged his shoulders and waved us through, allowing my team to proceed. I nodded to Talon, and then he and I clambered back into the RV. I started the engine, and we made our way further down the street.
“Scheisse,” I muttered softly. The shock when first seeing the horror of the news reports had filtered in my brain quite thoroughly, but now...now that I was actually at the site of the attack, my shock, and no doubt the shock of the others with me, seemed to increase tenfold.
The place was filled with doctors, cops, construction workers, firemen. Many anonymous civilians stood at the edge of the barricades, gazing at the wreckage, some in blank shock, some in tears. It was only by slim chance that I saw a familiar trench coat-clad man walking towards the remains of the second building.
“Hey, Matt!” I shouted out the window of the RV...
I decided to stop writing. Because, in truth, we of the Manhattan Clan had done nothing. The entire setting as well as our actions alluding to it is falsified grotesquely.
It happened like this: I broke out of stone sleep with the clan, gathered my family and started planning for the night until Lex said, “Hey, what’s that?”
We saw two pillars of smoke southwest, rising skyward.
“Another massacre, and one a thousand, maybe ten thousand, times worse than Wyvern.” David Xanatos looked weary, red-eyed and bleak. It gave me a violent chill.
“What has happened? And where is Elisa?” Goliath asked.
Xanatos just pointed in the direction of the smoke. “You’d better come inside. I think...” he faltered, making the rest of us looked at each other alarmingly. “I think the news can explain it better than I can.”
So we came. We saw, we froze, we wept.
Goliath, upon seeing the footage of the towers and the subsequent emergency response, ordered the clan to stay indoors until dawn.
I said nothing against his judgment, for I myself was too numb to react. I suppose, cliché as it is, that what I wrote is my version of what should have happened. Whether it came from my own protective instinct or just plain ol’ cabin fever, I had to do something
But I spent the remainder of the night and early morning concealed in the library, gazing out the window and waiting for the sun.