Greg Bishansky

September 29th, 1997

The drive from the precinct to the Eyrie Building was surprisingly gridlock-free. But Elisa still turned on National Public Radio just to have something to listen to on the way, while she sipped her cup of Nightstone's Coffee.

"Of course we condemn the actions of the so-called People United for Interspecies Rights," a woman's voice said over the radio. "We are hoping to start a new organization, one that will stand up to John Castaway and his Quarrymen while providing a sane alternative to PUIR."

"Have you ever seen a gargoyle?" the host asked.

"Not in person," she replied.

"How do we know that John Castaway isn't right?" he asked. "Maybe gargoyles are dangerous."

"Any animal can be dangerous," the guest replied. "A lion can be dangerous. An elephant can be dangerous. My neighbor's Golden Retriever can be dangerous. Humans can be and are dangerous. But we need to learn more about these gargoyles, reach out to them, preserve them. Not hunt them and kill them."

"And what would you call your new organization?"

"That's far from my mind," she responded. "We're just trying to get the infrastructure set up, and reach out to potential members."

"Might I suggest the People for Interspecies Tolerance… PIT," he suggested, then added with a laugh: "The PIT Crew."

The guest laughed after hearing that one. "Pit Crews are for NASCAR. I think we can come up with something better."

"Thank you for your time this evening," the host said, before addressing the audience. "My guest tonight has been Khulan Chung."

"I wish them luck," Elisa said as she turned off the radio at the same time that she pulled up to the Eyrie Building.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

The Eyrie Building

"So, I've been thinking about dinner," said Elisa as she entered the library. "How about some Nigerian and Southwestern cuisine?"

Goliath smiled and stood up from his armchair. "I am sure Broadway would be happy to prepare it."

"He knows his way around the kitchen," Elisa said. "And better him than any of Xanatos's chefs."

"What about the ceremony, itself?" Goliath asked. "We don't normally stand before gatherings to declare our love such as humans do."

"I know," Elisa said. "I remember when Angela and Broadway told us they were mates. Just like that."

Goliath smiled and said, "They are very happy together."

"Yeah," Elisa said. "But my family is having a hard enough time accepting this as is. We need to show them how we really feel about one another."

"What do you suggest?" Goliath asked.

"Well, I'm going to wear a dress," Elisa said. "Not one of those big, white wedding dresses. But something formal. Elegant."

"I am not wearing a..." Goliath struggled a moment, searching for the word. "A 'tuxedo'."

Elisa couldn't help but laugh at the mental image Goliath had just put in her head. "I think they'll be happy if you just have your loincloth cleaned and pressed."

Goliath nodded. "Demona and I exchanged vows."

"Demona is the last name I want to hear right now," Elisa muttered under her breath.

"No," Goliath said. "I mean that I want us to exchange vows. That is also a human custom, is it not?"

"It's a great idea," Elisa said. "I'll write something up for me, and you do the same."

Goliath smiled. "I have a request of my own."

"Oh?" Elisa asked. He had barely made any for the event.

"In addition to the Nigerian and Southwest cuisine, I would like the main course to be a wild boar," he said. "Back in Scotland, we dined on boar during special occasions and celebrations."

"All right," Elisa agreed. "I'll check with a butcher and see what I can do."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Long Island

Demona slammed open the doors to the laboratory and approached Dr. Anton Sevarius. The human continued to sit at his work bench, reading over his notes before looking back at her.

"Good evening, Demona," he said as he stood up. "I take it you've come to check up on your new pet?"

"I don't do social calls, doctor," she said as her eyes flashed red. "Take me to it."

Sevarius led her through the lab towards a huge incubator. He hit a switch and the steel covering slid away, revealing a very-large, hideous, black-tusked boar. "Well, what do you think so far?"

Demona examined it for several minutes, then asked "When will it be fully grown?"

"Well, I don't know," he said. "I've never seen a boar like this. But, according to my calculations, about two more months. At that point, it should be the size of an elephant."

"I assume you are taking the proper precautions around it." She wasn't so much asking as ordering.

"It's a good thing I always do," he said. "All living cells that come within physical contact of it begin to decay and slowly die." He suddenly frowned. "You do know that a warning would have been appreciated."

Demona reared up, her eyes blazing red. "You should consider yourself fortunate that I did not kill you the moment I found out about that mutated abomination you created to mock my kind!"

Sevarius took a couple of steps back, but forced himself to smile. "It pays to provide an invaluable service to a lovely gargoyle such as yourself."

Demona ignored him and gazed closer at the growing boar. "Now where in Manhattan to release it?" she asked herself.

"Might I suggest Times Square?" Sevarius asked. "Clear out a few thousand tourists."

She continued to ignore him as she was preoccupied with thoughts of the upcoming slaughter and hoping that Elisa Maza would be one of her unholy creation's victims.

"Demona," Sevarius said. "I am not one to pry into what my clients' business, but my curiosity is piqued. What exactly am I growing for you?"

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Nightstone Unlimited

Thailog sat at "Dominique Destine's" desk, speaking on the phone with one of his company's several executive vice-presidents. "I am quite pleased with your reports, Ms. Saffron," he said. "The fourth quarter has only just begun and our coffee franchise's profits continue to sky rocket."

"With your approval, Mr. Thailog," Victoria Saffron said, "I want to expand into Seattle and Paris."

"Send me the paperwork and I will sign it," he rumbled. "I see a bright future for you at this company, Ms. Saffron." He ended the call, then sat back and enjoyed what remained of his glass of wine.

Shari approached his desk, carrying the bottle, and refilled his glass. Then, without prompting, she began.

"The story is told - though who can say if it be true... of Donn who was of the Fianna, the warrior-band that protected Ireland in olden times. One night, while attending a banquet in the home of Aengus Og, Donn grew jealous of the attention lavished upon the son of Aengus' steward. And so, Donn slew the steward's son in secret."

Thailog sipped his wine and listened as he pulled up the expense reports from Nightstone's new robotics division, while Shari continued.

"But Aengus Og was of the Sidhe, a Child of Mab, and resurrected the boy in the form of a terrible boar whose touch was death. And the steward in his rage and grief placed a terrible curse on Donn; that his own son would one day die upon the tusks of the Beast of Benn Ghulbain."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

The Eyrie Building

Goliath and Elisa entered the Great Hall.

"What about a bride's side and a groom's side?" Elisa asked? "I mean, I know we're not a bride and a groom, but..."

Goliath pulled her into an embrace. "We are all one clan, we need not set internal divisions."

Elisa smiled and said, "Maybe I'll work that into my vows."

On the other side of the Great Hall, the doors opened and David Xanatos, Fox, and Owen walked in. Xanatos smiled mischievously and approached the couple, placing a hand on Goliath's shoulder.

"I look forward to the big night, you two," Xanatos said, removing his hand from Goliath's shoulder. "Broadway's already provided me with the shopping list, and I'll make sure everything you need is acquired."

Resisting the urge to grit her teeth, Elisa checked Goliath's shoulder for any sign of a tracking device. "We can handle it ourselves," she said. "Thank you."

"Then we'll leave you to it," Xanatos said with a smile as he headed off. Fox smiled as well, nodded at the couple and followed. Owen ignored them and continued after his employers.

After a moment of silence, Goliath was the first to speak. "Your family is coming, correct?"

"Yes," Elisa answered.

"Perhaps a bride's side and a groom's side..."

Elisa quickly cut him off. "Xanatos sits on your side."

"Of course," Goliath agreed.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

"I can't wait for their Commitment Ceremony," Angela beamed as she and her mate soared over Little Italy. "Although I wish we'd thought of that."

"I think we had quite a night," Broadway said with a smile as he took Angela's hand and squeezed it.

Angela closed her eyes, caught in a very pleasant memory. "It was wonderful," she said, as she squeezed his hand back. "And it's only gotten better since."

They came to a landing on top of Lombardi's, Manhattan's first pizzaria, and embraced. "I'm really looking forward to cooking the feast." Broadway said. "Hopefully it will make the Mazas happy."

"I had a little Nigerian after our encounter with Anansi," Angela said. "It's different but exquisite."

"Elisa brought me some of her mom's cookbooks," he said. "And Katana said she'd help me out in the kitchen."

"I know the dinner will be wonderful," Angela said as she pecked him on the cheek. "You'll put your heart into it like you always do."

"It's gonna be great," Broadway said. "Unless something bad happens between now and..."

"Don't say such things," Angela snapped. "Goliath and Elisa deserve a peaceful evening."

"Oh, me and my big mouth," Broadway groaned. "I just went and tempted fate, didn't I?"

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Not too far away from where Broadway and Angela stood, Coldsteel hid in the shadows, his audio receptors and optics zooming in on the young couple.

"You have no idea, Broadway." Coldsteel smiled, baring his robotic fangs. "Far be it from me not to grace my dear brother with my presence on such an important evening."

The ensouled robot activated his rockets and flew off, heading north.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

John F. Kennedy International Airport, September 30th, 1997

Elisa stood by the baggage claim in Terminal Four. She sipped her cup of Nightstone's Coffee and then checked the board. The plane from Flagstaff, Arizona had landed. Her sister should be out within the next few minutes.

"Elisa?" a voice called out. A voice that was distinctly not Beth's.

Elisa turned at the sound of her name and saw a familiar young man, picking up his luggage at the neighboring baggage claim before walking over.

"Natsilane?" she asked.

"I'm not sure I'll ever get used to that," he replied. "Please call me Nick."

Elisa smiled and they shook hands. "How are things on Queen Florence Island?"

"Most of the tribe has re-settled, crops are growing; it's been a good year," he said. "I just wish Grandmother was around to see it."

Elisa had to quickly remind herself that Nick wasn't aware that Grandmother was a Child of Oberon, and instead asked, "What happened?"

"She disappeared one day," he said. "We put out a missing persons report but we haven't heard anything."

"She's a tough old bird," Elisa said. "I'm sure she's all right."

"Sis!" Beth called from the other end of the airport. Elisa looked towards her. Beth ran over and the two sisters embraced in a big hug.

"How was your flight?" Elisa asked.

"The in-flight movie was Air Force One," Beth answered. "Not sure if that's the best choice on a six hour flight, but I'll watch Harrison Ford any time."

"Where's Maya?" Elisa asked.

"She couldn't make it," Beth replied. "Besides, I haven't told her about your friends yet."

"This is your sister?" Nick cut in.

"Where are my manners?" said Elisa. "Beth, this is Nick, chief of the Haida from Queen Florence Island. I met him two years ago during my… unexpected vacation."

"A pleasure to meet you," Beth said as she shook Nick's hand.

"Nick, my sister Beth," Elisa said. "She's majoring in Native American Studies at Flagstaff."

"Are you here for the lecture?" Nick asked.

"Yes," Beth replied. "At Columbia on Monday. But I'm also here for my sister's… wedding? Commitment Ceremony?"

"Oh," said Nick, trying to figure out what Beth meant by that. "Elisa, who's the lucky girl?"

"No," Elisa replied. "My fiance is… well, you remember Goliath."

"The gargoyle." Nick raised an eyebrow before adding his "Congratulations."

"Thanks," Elisa said. "The Ceremony is on Saturday at midnight, if you'd like to come."

"Thank you," Nick replied. "I'd be honored."

"Do you have a ride into the city?" Beth asked.

"I was about to go outside and catch a cab," Nick replied. "But if you're offering… I'm staying at the Hyatt by Union Square."

"That's on the way," Elisa said. "Come along."

As they exited the airport, a tall woman with blonde hair tied into a thick rope, turned towards Nick, smiled and waved. Nick returned the wave.

"Friend of yours?" Elisa asked.

"Sat next to her on the plane," Nick replied. "Didn't catch her name. Very classy French accent, though."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

"So Goliath and Elisa are finally making it official," Lexington said as he sat at his computer, staring into its screen at the image of his friend from London.

"Tell them the London Clan sends its hearty congratulations," Staghart replied with a smile.

"There's going to be a big party at the castle," Lex said. He sighed before adding, "I wish you could be here, Amp."

"Well, King Arthur and Griff asked Macbeth to fly them to Manhattan," Amp said. "They want to go to the M.E.T. and check in on those Scrolls of Merlin."

"Do you think you could hitch a ride?" Lex asked. "I'm sure Goliath and Elisa would love to have you all at the ceremony. Elisa knows the archaeologists that found the Scrolls. Maybe she can get Arthur in to see them."

"It sounds like a date," Amp said.

"Yeah," Lex said. "A date."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

The Eyrie Building

Goliath sat alone, atop his usual perch. The view of the city and the horizon beyond it were as beautiful as ever, but his thoughts weren't on it. He looked over to the southern parapet, where he had first met Elisa three years ago. He remembered it like it was merely the previous evening. The night Xanatos had awoken his clan.

Elisa had been conducting an investigation of the castle when she had encountered Bronx and pulled her gun on him. Goliath had taken the weapon and crushed it in his bare hand. Spooked, Elisa had lost her footing and fell off the skyscraper, and he had glided down and caught her. Ever since that night, their alliance had blossomed into friendship and, before either of them were even aware of it, love.

Love. Gargoyles mate for life. His attention was caught by the sight of Coldstone and Coldfire returning to the castle after a long night's patrol. Goliath smiled; they were the first of their rookery to become mates and their love transcended even death.

His thoughts then turned to Demona. Gargoyles mate for life. It was their nature. Their culture. Even after Demona became a declared enemy, he had still made attempts to reach out to his former Angel of the Night. It had taken everything in his power to act against his own nature and allow that hope to rest. Did he still love her? Even a little?

These thoughts began to stir a memory of a far simpler time.

Scotland, 973 A.D.

The gargoyle that would one day be Goliath landed in a clearing in the forest, not too far from Castle Wyvern. Those in his clan often came here to be alone, where the humans could not bother them, and where they could just relax. He had asked his red-haired rookery sister, his Angel, to join him.

Goliath heard the unmistakable sounds of passion and decided that perhaps he should be off. But then he picked up on the sound of another intruder. He looked to his left and spotted his most untrustworthy rookery brother crouching on a rock, intruding on the couple's privacy.

He quickly stomped over to the rock, grabbed Iago by the arm, and dragged him away.

"What do you think you are doing?" Goliath yelled.

"I came out here to be alone, brother," Iago sneered. "I was just about to leave when you decided to violently harass me."

Goliath growled, but his growl was cut off as Angel finally arrived. She stopped as she took in the sight of Goliath holding Iago by the arm.

"What is going on?" she asked.

"I caught our vile brother spying on our brother and sister," he explained.

"And I told you that I wasn't spying," Iago grinned. "Perhaps if you would listen to me and not behave like a blunt cretin, you would realize this."

Goliath continued to growl, but Angel stepped forward "My love," she pleaded. "Let me speak with him."

Goliath released Iago and sighed in frustration. "Very well, my Angel," he said. "He's your friend."

Angel calmly approached Iago and helped him to his feet. "Brother, I don't think I need to ask who you were spying on."

"As I said, I wasn't doing anything," Iago's eyes glowed white. "Of course you'll side with him," he said, as he motioned towards Goliath.

"We've talked about this before," Angel said. She almost began to plead. "Our sister is happy with her mate. Please, leave them be. If you truly care for her, than respect her choice."

Iago rolled his eyes. This was far from the first time she had said any of this to him.

"We have several sisters that have yet to take a mate," she said. "There is someone for you in this clan."

"Of course, dear sister," Iago said with a faux smile. "I repent my wicked ways and will leave the happy couple in peace."

"That is not good enough," Goliath said, before growling again. "You will confess to them and apologize."

"Apologize for what?" Desdemona asked, as she and Othello emerged from the clearing, straightening their clothing.

"Tell them or I will," Goliath growled.

Iago took a deep breath. "I had just invaded your privacy; it was wrong. Our dear sister has talked some sense into me. Please," he said, barely containing his sneer, "accept my humblest apologies."

Othello bounded over, grabbed Iago by the scruff of his neck and lifted him off the ground. "And why should I accept yet another apology?" he growled. "I see the way you look at my mate. Were you not my brother, I'd -"

"My love." Desdemona strode forward and placed her hand on his arm. "You have made your point."

Othello released Iago, who fell to the ground and gasped for air. "And you've spoken to him?" he asked Angel.

Angel nodded. "I will help him find one of our sisters to court."

Desdemona smiled at her sister and placed her other hand on Othello's. "No harm was done."

"I suppose you are right," Othello said. "Let's return to the castle."

The couple took their leave. Goliath sighed, trying to force himself to ignore what had happened. "Perhaps we should glide down to the beach," he suggested.

Angel cuddled up against Goliath and brushed a finger across his brow. "You know I love it down there."

"I do," Goliath said with a grin, before taking her hand in his and beginning to lead her out of the forest.

"Don't forget, sister," Iago called. "We have that task for the Archmage tomorrow night."

"The Archmage?" Goliath asked, surprised at the mention of the sorcerer that their Mentor had long distrusted. "What is this about?"

"It's nothing," Angel quickly explained. "He's simply undertaking an endeavor tomorrow night in the forest and Prince Malcolm requested that our brother and I protect him from bandits."

"Yes," Iago said with a malicious grin. "Nothing."

"Then return to the castle," Goliath ordered. He didn't quite catch her briefly flaring her red eyes at Iago. "Then let's be off, my angel."

The two young lovers strode off, hoping to enjoy the rest of the night.

The Eyrie Building

Goliath sighed. He had not thought about that incident since the very night it had happened. But his evil brother's perversions were far from his mind. Even then, Demona had been lying to him. She had been the Archmage's apprentice. He saw that now. Even then, she couldn't be fully honest with him as he had been with her.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

October 1st, 1997

Dominique Destine walked through the aisle of the small market, putting apples in her basket. She had already gathered some wrapped deli meats, a carton of milk, and a few bottles of water.

She had chosen to wear her yellow French blouse, belt, and black mini-skirt today. She was not particularly fond of any of the human clothing she had purchased out of necessity, but she preferred this to the confining business suit she had worn when acting as the CEO of Nightstone Unlimited. A duty she had ignored for almost a year now, in order to lie low following the arrest of Robyn Correy, the Hunter.

She paid for the food items, with cash of course, and stepped out onto the sidewalk. She raised an arm to hail a taxi when suddenly a metal tentacle coiled around that raised arm and pulled her off the ground. She dropped her bag of groceries as she found herself being ascending farther and farther off the ground before the coil released her and she fell a few feet onto a rooftop.

She took off her sunglasses and gasped at the sight of the robotic gargoyle landing in front of her. It was not unlike a Steel Clan robot, except it resembled her vile brother rather than Goliath.

"Sister" Coldsteel said with a grin. "Long time no see."

"Who -" she began, then corrected herself. "What are you?" She reached into her purse and drew a particle beam pistol.

"Let's just say that Xanatos gave me a new lease on life and I no longer have to share a body with our brute of a brother."

"Brother…? How did you find me?!" she yelled. "How did you know that I..."

"I've seen your human form before, sister," he said, genuinely confused. "Don't you remember when we kidnapped our dear clan? Macbeth and I watched you wrestle that annoying detective at high noon. It was a diverting spectacle."

"I have no interest in your perverted fantasies," she snapped.

"You really don't remember?" Coldsteel asked. "Oh well, it's not important. The short version is that after you resurrected me inside of Coldstone, Xanatos provided my soul with a new robotic body."

"How wonderful for you," Dominique said sarcastically. "I have no interest in your petty goals, brother."

"You can't still be angry with me over that incident with Goliath and our brutish brother," he said. "Had his jealousy prevailed and he killed Goliath, we'd all have probably been happier."

"Please, leave," she said, keeping her pistol trained on him.

"But I have such big news to share with you," he said. "My dear, beloved sister."

"Go!" Dominique screamed.

"Goliath is about to take another mate," he said. "He and that detective are throwing a party to celebrate their bond."

At the very mention of that, Puck's spell of transformation glitched and her human eyes began to burn red with anger. She pointed her gun at a water tower atop a neighboring apartment building, and pulled the trigger several times. The water tower exploded and the rooftop was quickly flooded as the water burst out.

"That's the spirit, sister." He smiled.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Elisa's loft

"I still can't believe you're doing this," Talon said.

"We've been through this, Derek," Elisa said. She was trying very hard to keep herself from yelling, so she took a sip from her cup of Nightstone's instead. "And I don't need to justify it to you."

Elisa's family were all sitting around her coffee table. Nobody was quite sure what to say next, or who would even be the next one to speak out on this sore subject.

"Elisa," began Diane. "Goliath is a noble being, but -" She fumbled for the right words. "Do you know what you would be giving up?"

"Goliath and I have discussed this, Mom," Elisa said. "More times than you might think."

"But what about children, Elisa?" Diane asked.

"There will be eggs," Elisa replied. "I'll be a mother to them."

Peter sighed before he asked, "You're not going to be laying one, are you?"

"No, of course not," Elisa said. "Gargoyles raise their eggs communally. It will be me, Angela, Katana, and Coldfire."

"And that's normal to you?" Talon asked. "Don't you want children of your own?"

"If it bothers you so much, Derek," Elisa yelled as she stood up, "nobody is forcing you to come!"

"Stop it, please!" Beth shouted as she bolted up from the couch. "I'm surprised at you, all of you."

"It's all right, sis," Talon said. "We're done here."

"No, we're not," Beth said. "You're behaving like all of our grandparents. They didn't want Mom and Dad marrying because they were 'different'."

"That's not the same thing!" Talon cried.

"Beth, that's enough!" Diane said sternly. Peter just slumped back in his chair.

"Elisa has made her choice," Beth said. "And I for one couldn't be prouder of her."

"Thanks, Beth," Elisa said.

"Mom, Dad, maybe you two need to remember where you both came from and how your family responded," Beth said, echoing the stern displayed by Diane. "And Derek, for the love of God..."

"Fine," Talon said. "I'll be there. I don't have to like it, but I'll come and -" He forced himself to say his next words. "-support your decision."

"Good," Elisa said. "Because I need to tell you about some of the other guests that will be attending."

"Demona's not attending, is she?" Talon asked, half-joking. Elisa just rolled her eyes.

"Who's Demona?" Beth asked.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Long Island

Sevarius sat at his work bench, looking through his microscope at a slide of expanding cells, when the doors to the lab burst open and Demona strode in followed by a gargoyle-shaped robot carrying a large vase and an urn.

"I wasn't expecting you," he said. He eyed the robot before turning his attention back to Demona. "Do you have another commission in mind?"

"I want my weapon, Sevarius," Demona demanded. "Now!"

"Better do what she says, human," Coldsteel said, grinning. "My sister can be quite vicious when she doesn't get what she wants."

"Your boar?" Sevarius asked. "But it's not yet fully grown. Or close to fully potent."

Coldsteel gazed into the pod and observed the growing boar. "It looks pretty large to me," he said. "At least twice as large as any boar I ever saw back in Scotland."

"And by my estimations, it would be the size of an African elephant when fully grown," Sevarius said. "Demona, if all your information holds true and you allow another two weeks for my accelerated development protocol, this creature should be able to cause death and decay just by its mere presence."

"Perhaps the human is right," Coldsteel said. "If we wait, you'll have an invincible weapon, and I find that thought appealing."

"No!" Demona yelled. "It can still kill with its touch. It will do."

"Sister," Coldsteel said. "I implore you..."

But Demona ignored him. "Open the pod," she ordered Sevarius, then turned to Coldsteel. "And you, set my tools by the boar."

Sevarius and Coldsteel did as they were ordered. Demona reached for the original tusk and chipped off a few pieces and dropped them into the urn. She began grinding the pieces into dust and then sprinkled half of the pieces into the vase and the other half into the pod and onto the cloned boar.

"Lìon mo cruthachadh le beatha gur dòcha bheir bàs," she chanted. Red mist burst forth from the vase and into the pod, surrounding the boar.

"And I assume that you still want the cybernetic brain implant?" Sevarius asked. "I can have one ready in a week."

"You have two nights," Demona said as she turned on him, eyes glowing red.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Nightstone Unlimited

Thailog sat in his chaise, enjoying his dinner: tray of Filet Mignon with a side of caviar, and a glass of Cognac. "Tell my chef that he outdid himself tonight," he said.

Shari approached with a tray of chocolate truffles. Thailog took one and laughed. "The very sight of these would be enough to make Demona nauseous; she detests chocolate."

"While you dine on your dessert, shall I continue the story?" Shari asked.

"I thought you'd never ask," Thailog said with a grin.

"Many years later, the day came when Grainne, daughter of the High King, was betrothed to Fionn Mac Cumhaill, leader of the Fianna. In his youth, Fionn had been one of the greatest heroes Ireland had ever known, equal only to Cú Chulainn himself. But those days were long past and Gráinne despaired at being forced to marry a man old enough to be her grandfather.

"One by one, Gráinne begged the warriors of the Fianna to rescue her from Fionn's clutches. Each refused save for Diarmuid, son of Donn. And so, after drugging the wedding guests, the young couple fled into the night.

"When Fionn learned what had happened, his rage was boundless. He hounded the young lovers relentlessly from one end of the island to the other, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. 'Twas only at the pleading of Oisín, Fionn's son and Diarmuid's friend, that the two men eventually consented to make peace."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

October 4th, 1997

Elisa stood outside the Metropolitan Museum, a cup of Nightstone's coffee in her hand. It didn't take her long to spot King Arthur trotting up the stairs with a similar cup in his own hand. He blended into the modern world seamlessly. Looking at him she never would have guessed that he was fifteen-hundred-year-old British royalty. He wore a blue trench coat and a red colored turtleneck sweater. She had guessed that Excalibur was concealed beneath the coat, but she couldn't see it, even with her cop's eye.

"You too, eh?" Elisa asked, raising her cup.

"I curse the day that Macbeth introduced me to this foul brew," Arthur said, jokingly. "But I do admit…when one mostly keeps the company of gargoyles, it is an invaluable tool."

"Amen," Elisa said. "Shall we?"

"After you, Milady," Arthur bowed politely.

They entered the museum and Elisa immediately made a beeline for a pair of archaeologists waiting by the reception desk.

"Detective Maza, it has been too long," Dr. Morwood-Smyth said.

"Thanks for meeting me on such short notice," Elisa said, smiling. "This is my friend, Arthur Pendragon."

"Arthur… Pendragon?" Dr Lydia Duane asked, raising an eyebrow.

"A coincidence, I am sure," Morwood-Smyth said, looking strangely at King Arthur.

"Yes," Arthur said, smirking slightly. "A coincidence. Obviously I could not be the actual Arthur Pendragon of legend. That would be as strange a tale as say: aliens living beneath Easter Island."

Arthur Morwood-Smyth and Lydia Duane fell dead silent.

"My friend wanted to read the Scrolls of Merlin," Elisa said, trying hard, and failing not to smile at the looks on the archaeologist's faces.

"We have a partial translation available in the back," Lydia said.

"I thank you," Arthur said. "But, I can read ancient Celtic. I would prefer to look at the original document. I give you my word, I will not damage Merlin's masterwork. It is far too precious to me personally to allow that."

Lydia Duane and Arthur Morwood-Smyth fell dead silent again. "I…If you would come this way please, Your Maj-Mr. Pendragon."

"God, I wish I had videotaped that," Elisa said to herself.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Within the building's loading dock, a security guard sat back in his seat. He laughed as he read his copy of the Daily Tattler, whose headline read "VAMPIRES PARTY AT HOT NIGHT CLUB." His buzzer went off, catching his attention. He looked into the monitor and spotted a UPS truck idling in front of the garage doors, tapped a button, and the garage door opened. The truck then entered the building and came to a stop.

Out of the passenger's side stepped a red-headed woman in a brown uniform, wearing a brown cap pulled low, barely covering her green eyes; a couple of buttons on the front of her shirt were undone. She approached the security desk, carrying an electronic scanner.

"I have a delivery for Mr. Xanatos," she said.

"Name?" the guard asked.

"Deirdre Connolly," she replied as she presented an employee I.D. badge.

"It's going right up to the castle," Deirdre said. As she spoke, the driver stepped out of the truck and began unloading a huge crate. She strode over and assisted, lowering the crate onto a flatbed cart.

"All castle deliveries need to be approved by the XE Security Force," the guard said.

"It's all right." One of Xanatos' commandos approached, carrying a metal detector. He used it to scan the crate. Nothing. "I'll take it from here."

Deirdre and the commando wheeled the crate towards the service elevators. He entered a security code. The elevator ascended the skyscraper, coming to a stop in the castle, just one floor below the Great Hall.

The two of them unloaded the crate from the elevator. Deirdre then pulled a fat envelope from her back pocket and handed it to the commando. The commando grinned as he quickly inspected the envelope's contents, then escorted her back and down to the loading dock.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

As the truck pulled away from the Eyrie, 'Deirdre' removed the cap and tossed it aside, before reaching into the glove compartment and presenting the driver with another thick envelope.

"Easiest ten grand you ever paid us," the mercenary in the driver's seat said.

Dominique Destine remained silent for the next few blocks. Finally, at a red light, she spoke. "Let me off here," she ordered. "I will contact you with your next assignment shortly."

The truck came to a stop, and Dominique stepped out onto the sidewalk. She ducked into an alley and strode deeper into it.

"I assume the pig was delivered?" Coldsteel said as he stepped out of the shadows, holding a large duffle bag.

"Yes," Dominique said as she took the bag. She stepped behind Coldsteel's back where she proceeded to strip off the UPS uniform, then donned her loincloth, belt, and halter-top. The anklet and armband came next, followed by her tiara.

She stepped back in front of Coldsteel as she donned her earrings. "I could not let such a momentous occasion pass without providing Goliath and his human whore with a gift for their little soiree."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

The Eyrie Building

The sun had since set. Broadway darted back and forth between several large pots, tasting a sample from one, adding a pinch of salt or something else here and there, then darting to the next pot. At the far end of the kitchen, he would frequently attend to the very large boar, slathering on a marinade of his own creation.

The beast was at least as big as Bronx, and once fully prepped and cooked, would feed the entire clan for several nights. Broadway remembered similar boars being caught and roasted way back at Wyvern. It was always a special occasion since boar hunting was so dangerous. Even the most stalwart warriors in the clan preferred not to face down a boar unless they had to.

Satisfied that his boar was properly basted and stuffed, he pulled out a gigantic sheet of aluminum foil and wrapped it over the boar, to seal in the juices and prevent the beast from drying out in the oven. He nodded at Gnash, who immediately rushed over to the oven and opened it for him, so that he could pop the enormous boar into it.

"Thanks, kid!" Broadway said to the younger gargoyle.

He was pleased that Chef Darren Garner had given him complete control of the kitchen for the weekend.

"Is this a traditional Wyvern Hill Boar recipe?" Katana inquired after he set the timer on the oven for four hours.

"Uh…no," Broadway said, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly. Katana and Nashville had been helping him in the kitchen in Chef Garner's absence.

"In the Dark Ages, people left meat out in the sun for a week as 'flavoring'," Broadway said. "Sometimes traditions need to die… because if they didn't, our guests might."

Katana nodded knowingly.

"I… updated it, with a few modern twists of my own. But it's based on a traditional recipe."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Goliath stood before the elevator doors in the Great Hall, deeply introspective. The Mazas were on their way up, and he wanted to be the one to greet them rather than Xanatos, or even Fox and Owen.

The doors opened and Peter, Diane, and Beth stepped out.

"Goliath," Beth cried in excitement, as she hugged him.

"It is good to see you too, Beth," Goliath said as he returned the hug. Then he let go and offered Peter and Diane a courtly bow.

"Good evening, Goliath," Peter said as he extended his hand. Goliath accepted it, then offered his hand to Diane, who also shook it.

"I understand your concerns," Goliath said. "But Elisa is clan… family. As are all of you."

"Goliath, you don't have to worry," Peter said. "Elisa's happy and that's what's important."

"I just want you to be comfortable," Goliath said, desperately trying to get their approval. "I know that we are different, but..."

"Ach, lad," Hudson said as he cut in. "Ye're trying too hard."

"Hudson," Goliath said. "This is Peter, Diane, and Beth. Elisa's family."

"The lass tells me you are a police officer, too," Hudson said as he extended his hand. Peter hesitated, then shook it.

"Yes," he said. "I've been on the force for thirty years."

"Then we are both old soldiers," Hudson said. "Come, I would love to hear your stories."

Peter hesitated, but Diane smiled. "Go on, Peter."

Hudson smiled and then led Peter outside into the courtyard.

"I hope you like the banquet," Goliath said. "Broadway and Katana are preparing a Nigerian and Southwest feast."

Diane laughed in delight. "Would you mind if I went to the kitchen to check on that?"

"I will escort you," Goliath offered. Diane took his hand as he began to lead her towards the the doors on the east end.

"Hey, where's Elisa?" Beth asked.

"She is preparing in the guest room," Angela said as she entered the Great Hall. "I'll take you to her."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

"I hope I'm not intruding," a voice at the door said. Broadway, Katana, and Nashville turned to see Diane Maza standing at the door.

"Not at all!" Broadway said, grinning. "The more the merrier, Mrs. Maza!"

"Please… Broadway, right?" Diane said, walking into the center of the kitchen, and inspecting the pots. "Call me Diane. I guess we're sort of family now."

"Okay… Diane," Broadway said, bristling slightly as Diane began peeking into the pots he had been working on since sunset.

"Is this chicken molé?" Diane asked in surprise, pausing by the last pot.

"Yep," Broadway said proudly. "Elisa gave me the recipe. She said it was your family's favorite food, so I had to include it on the menu tonight."

"Mind if I make a few tweaks?" Diane asked.

"Not at all… it's your recipe, after all," Broadway said sheepishly.

"This may not end well," Katana said quietly to Nashville, as Diane sampled the chocolate sauce that Broadway had been preparing.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Angela and Beth entered the guest room where Elisa was standing in front of a full length mirror, wearing a sleeveless and classy off-white dress. She positioned herself in various poses and was pleased, overall.

"You look radiant, sis," Beth said as she walked over and gave her sister a hug.

"Very beautiful," Angela agreed.

"Thanks, you two," Elisa said as she pulled away from Beth and gave Angela a hug, too.

"Dad's hanging out with Hudson, and Mom is helping Broadway in the kitchen," Beth said.

"Is Derek here yet?" Elisa asked.

"Not yet," Beth said. "I know how he feels, but if he said he's going to be here, he'll be here."

"If you can't take family at their word, then the bond was never as strong as you thought," Coldfire said as she entered the room. "I had a sister with whom I felt our own bonds were unbreakable. Alas, we were not as close as either of us thought."

Angela nodded grimly, knowing exactly who Coldfire was referring to. But Beth remained optimistic. "He'll be here, sis," she said. "You two have always been close."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

"Derek, you haven't said two words the entire trip," Maggie called out as she and Talon flew through the air, towards the Eyrie Building.

It's bad enough my sister is marrying Goliath," Talon growled. "But that we have to spend an hour in a room with Xanatos..."

"I don't like it, either," Maggie said. "But he's their landlord; what were they supposed to do?"

"We could have hosted the ceremony down in the Labyrinth," Talon suggested.

"That's not what's bothering you, Derek," Maggie said. "You need to accept this and you need to accept it now. The further this goes, the wider a rift will open between you and your sister."

"I just wish she'd see that -" Talon's attention was caught by the approach of a gargoyle, but one he had never seen before. A green gargoyle with a beak, wearing a leather jacket, soared towards them. In his arms, he carried a human with brown hair and a graying beard, wearing a blue overcoat.

"I assume we're headed to the same destination?" the gargoyle called.

"Depends?" Talon cried back. "Who are you?"

"Name's Griff, of London," the gargoyle replied. "And my companion is Arthur Pendragon."

"And I'm Staghart," a second gargoyle said as he soared up alongside them. "Also of London. Though not as impressive as King Arthur in the flesh."

Maggie's jaw dropped and Talon laughed. "My big sister has always led the most interesting life."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

"Hold that elevator," Nick called, as he ran through the lobby of the Eyrie Building.

"Do you have an invitation?" the security guard asked.

"No," Nick replied. "But I have a personal invite from Detective Maza."

"Without a printed invitation, I can't let you in," the guard said. "Mr. Xanatos's orders."

A tall, gray-bearded man wearing a tuxedo approached, and produced an invitation from his jacket pocket. "Then I suggest you call Xanatos' minion, Burnett and get this young man cleared."

"Your name?" asked the guard.

"Lennox Macduff," he said as he handed the guard his invitation, then placed a hand on Nick's shoulder. "I'll wait with you, lad."

Behind Macbeth, Matt Bluestone and Dr. Jay Sato also entered the lobby.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Goliath knelt on his perch, once again deep in thought as he looked out of the horizon. His thoughts were interrupted as he heard the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs. He looked back, then frowned at the sight of David Xanatos. Of course, he was wearing a tuxedo.

"I always suspected you and Detective Maza would eventually tie the knot," the billionaire said with one of his trademark grins.

"What do you want, Xanatos?" Goliath asked wearily.

"It's your night, not mine," Xanatos replied. "What do you want?"

"Right now I wish that I could trust you beyond not destroying us while we sleep," Goliath rumbled.

Xanatos smirked. "But that would make your life a lot less interesting, wouldn't it?"

"Is this a threat?" Goliath asked, his eyes beginning to glow.

"Goliath, you wound me," Xanatos said, not sounding the least bit wounded. "When have I ever made a verbal threat? Of course I'm up to something. I always am."

"I have no need of this," Goliath sighed.

"You can trust that I wish you and Detective Maza well," Xanatos said with a smile as he turned around and headed back down the stairs. "I look forward to the banquet."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

October 5th, 1997

The clock had just struck midnight, and everybody began piling into the Great Hall in an orderly fashion. Greetings were being exchanged, with a lot of chatter among the guests.

The Manhattan Clan sat on the left side of the aisle, all together. They were soon joined by Macbeth and the Xanatos family. Fox had donned her midnight-blue, shoulder-less gown, and young Alexander wore a junior-sized tuxedo. As always, the Family Xanatos was dressed to kill. Sir Griff quickly joined the gargoyles, and made a slight gasp at the sight of Brooklyn.

"Phoenix Gate?" asked Griff.

"Actual phoenix," Brooklyn replied with a grin. "Best thing that ever happened to me."

"I can relate," Griff said.

On the right side of the aisle, the Mazas took their seats. They were joined by Matt Bluestone, Nick, King Arthur, and Dr. Sato. Nick sheepishly found himself sitting next to Beth. "Hi," he whispered.

"Glad you made it," Beth replied with a smile.

Goliath and Elisa entered shortly after, walking down the aisle towards the dais before the massive fireplace. They turned around and faced their family and friends, as well as their host and enemy. Elisa smiled when she saw Talon and Maggie sitting with her parents.

"I am a little overwhelmed," Goliath admitted. "We had not expected a turn-out such as this. Thank you all for coming."

"This won't take too long," Elisa promised. "Goliath and I are going to exchange our vows and then we'll all have dinner."

At that moment, King Arthur Pendragon stood up and addressed the crowd. "Goliath, Lady Elisa, this is your night. Take as much time as you need."

The guests all cheered in response to Arthur's words.

"Thank you, Your Majesty," Elisa said.

"Your Majesty?" Nick whispered to Beth. "Do you know who that guy is?"

"I haven't been introduced yet," Beth whispered back.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Demona and Coldsteel quickly approached the Eyrie Building by air, and circled around the castle. She pointed towards the courtyard and Coldsteel began his descent. She, on the other hand, continued to circle around the building, and finally came to a landing on the stone foundations of the castle. Digging her claws into the rock, she scaled the castle before coming upon the hidden door in the stone. She opened it, and made her way into the secret passage.

She traversed the castle's halls, armed with a particle beam cannon, avoiding all the security cameras. They had probably been shut off for her anyway, but she didn't want to take chances. Finally, she entered the massive chamber below the Great Hall. The crate she delivered earlier as 'Dierdre' was still there.

Demona dug her talons into the wood and tore the crate open. Within the crate was a stone fountain, at least to the naked eye. But she knew better. She held up a piece of parchment and began chanting, "Per iussum meum, adsumate similitudo ut optare!"

The fountain disappeared and in its place stood her creation. Demona produced a small remote control from her belt and clicked a switch. The golden headset attached to it beeped, and the creature awoke and growled.

Demona smiled with malicious glee.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

"When I first awoke in this world," Goliath said as he stared into Elisa's brown eyes, "I was a stranger in a strange land. Most of my clan was gone. I never thought I would find love again. But you, Elisa Maza, you made this land my home. You became my new clan. You became the love that I found."

Goliath smiled, and tears welled up in his eyes. "And I vow that from this night forward you and I are one..."

Before Goliath could finish, a secret passage in the east wall opened. Everyone turned in the direction of the sound of a very bitter laugh as Demona stepped through the passage's entrance, particle beam rifle in her hands.

"Now and forever," Demona sneered. "You've made that vow to me as well, Goliath."

The gargoyles bolted up in their seats, but the Mazas and most of the other human guests sat between them and Demona.

Behind all of them, the doors to the Great Hall slammed open and Coldsteel entered the Great Hall. "Goliath, how could you not see fit to invite your loving brother?" he said, with a chuckle. "But don't worry, dear Demona brought me as her plus-one."

Goliath growled, and Elisa rushed off the dais to her parents. "I need to get you out of here," she whispered.

"Why, Detective," Demona said, mockingly. "I didn't know you had such a lovely family. You must introduce me."

"They are not your concern," Elisa cried. "Your beef is with me!"

"I've come bearing no quarrel," she replied, and her lips curled into a menacing grin. "I come bearing a gift." From behind Demona, within the passageway, a dark, beastly growl echoed. "The main course!"

And then it emerged, from the shadows of the passageway. A gargantuan boar with pale white fur, blazing red eyes, black, rotted tusks. It was over six feet tall at the shoulder, and lacked ears and a tail. It growled like a feral beast, and its stench matched that of rotted flesh.

"My daughter is not to be harmed," Demona whispered to the boar. "Kill everyone else!"

The boar growled before pouncing into the middle of the Great Hall.

Goliath leaped into the fray, but kept his distance. "Keep your distance, evacuate the Great Hall!"

Macbeth leaped up at once, produced a dagger from his boot, and began rushing towards Demona. But the red-haired gargoyle spied him from the corner of her eye and called out "Coldsteel, restrain him!"

Coldsteel extended a long tendril around Macbeth and lifted him off the ground, quickly wrapping the steel cable around the immortal Scotsman. Satisfied that Macbeth wasn't going anywhere, Coldsteel advanced on Coldstone and Coldfire.

"Sister's boar cannot kill what is already dead," he smirked. "Which means we can pick up where we left off."

Peter Maza drew his service revolver on the boar and fired off a few shots, but the bullets did not even pierce the boar's hide. He drew back as the boar charged at him, and managed to sidestep it, but his hand was grazed by the boar's fur. Almost immediately, Peter pulled back in pain and looked at his hand, which began to wither.

"Peter!" Diane cried, as she pulled Peter aside and gasped at the sight of his hand.

"Owen, get Alexander out of here," Xanatos calmly ordered. Owen nodded, and quickly vanished with the child.

Xanatos and Fox quietly withdrew towards the stone wall. Xanatos tapped a brick, and part of the wall slid open, revealing two particle beam pistols. He tossed one to Fox and drew his own. They both fired on the boar, but even the particle beams did little except make it angrier.

Goliath helped Diane pull Peter aside, and took one look at Peter's hand.

"Do not touch the abomination!" Goliath cried out.

"We are all in an enclosed space!" Demona laughed. "Most of you won't be escaping alive."

Elisa rushed to her parents' side, and took her father's hand. "Dr. Sato," she called.

Dr. Sato rushed over and glanced at it. "Get me to the infirmary," he said.

"We will hold off the creature," Goliath said. Elisa nodded and then led her parents and Dr. Sato out of the Great Hall.

Demona spotted them leaving and her eyes blazed red. She withdrew into the passageway, with the intent of cutting them off.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

"I think I can save your hand," Dr. Sato said to Peter as they slowly made their way through the hallways. "But we don't have much time."

"Where's Beth?" Diane asked, suddenly noticing her other daughter wasn't with them.

"We have to go back," Peter insisted.

"Goliath will make sure she's all right," Elisa said, as they approached the infirmary.

Demona emerged from a hidden door in the wall, and trained her particle beam rifle on them. "And while Goliath watches your sister die, Detective; you and I will have this dance."

Elisa gritted her teeth, then whispered to Dr. Sato "I'll distract her!" She then immediately ducked into the the next corridor and ran south.

Demona growled and pursued her, Dr. Sato and Elisa's parents now forgotten.

Elisa emerged into the courtyard. The nearest door to duck into led up to the gargoyles' tower.

Demona emerged moments later, and watched as Elisa ran up the stairs. The gargoyle then leaped onto the tower, dug her talons into the stone, and quickly began to scale it.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

The Great Hall was absolute chaos. Chairs were overturned and crushed, tapestries fell from the walls, and everybody was trying to avoid the boar's very touch.

"We need to lead it outside!" King Arthur ordered as he raised Excalibur. "Follow me!"

But Coldsteel blocked his path. "Now, now, human," he said. "It's rude to just walk out of weddings."

Coldfire fired a beam of flames at her evil brother, while Coldsteel was distracted, Arthur swung his sword at the automaton, magic emanating from Excalibur's blade. Coldsteel fell on his side, actually crying out in pain. He looked down as the nanites began to repair his frame.

The doors now unguarded, everybody began evacuating into the courtyard.

"Stay calm, everyone!" Goliath ordered.

"What did Goliath ever see in this witch?" Griff asked as he bounded into the courtyard.

"Long time ago, things change," Brooklyn said. Then he muttered, under his breath, "and they'll keep changing."

Like an unstoppable juggernaut, the boar burst through the doors and into the courtyard. Brooklyn drew his hand blaster and fired on it, but the laser had no more of an effect that Xanatos and Fox's particle beams did.

"Amp, look out!" Lexington cried as Staghart narrowly dodged being gored by the beast's black tusks.

"I almost miss the bloody robots," the stag-like gargoyle cursed as Lex pulled him to safety.

For what seemed like an eternity, the boar rampaged through the courtyard, sometimes barely missing his mark, but it would not tire. Griff pulled his lightning gun from his belt and fired on the boar; the beast stopped in its tracks and cried out in pain.

"Don't like that, I see," Griff said before firing again. The boar continued to cry out in pain, but proceeded to charge towards Griff. Griff dodged to the side, but the boar's left tusk connected with the gun, knocking it from his hand. "Bloody hell!"

"That's it!" Beth cried. "Derek, Maggie! Blast it!" Talon and Maggie fired bolts of electricity from their fists, but the beast quickly sidestepped them. Beth then ran in front of the boar and shouted "Here! Over here!"

The boar bounded towards her, too quickly for her to dodge, until Natsilane leaped and shoved her aside, causing the beast to crash into the wall.

"Now!" Talon shouted as he and Maggie began blasting the boar with full voltages of electricity. The boar cried out in pain, as Griff retrieved his gun and also opened fire.

The boar slowly turned around, growled and prepared for another charge, until King Arthur ran towards it, brandishing Excalibur. Magical energy surrounded the blade and as the boar pounced, Arthur struck with his sword, plunging it through the beast's right eye, deep into his brain.

"Arthur!" Griff shouted as the boar landed on top of his king.

But the boar was no longer moving. Brooklyn and Broadway rushed over and pulled the boar off of him. The Once and Future King stood up. "The beast's power is broken."

"Good!" Brooklyn said. "Now let's get Coldsteel."

As if on cue, Coldsteel burst out from the Great Hall, wings spread, and flew into the air, accelerating as quickly as possible. He looked down at the corpse of the boar and sighed. "My sister must be the most short-sighted immortal on the planet."

Coldstone and Coldfire emerged from the Great Hall shortly afterwards, and Coldstone growled at the heavens. "By the Dragon, he escaped again!"

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Elisa continued running up the stairs, pushing herself to not stop and catch her breath. As she was about to emerge at the top of the tower, Demona's hand plunged down from above and grabbed her by the back of her neck.

The immortal gargoyle pulled Elisa through the trap door and threw her against the parapet with a violent thud. "Foolish human," Demona said, murder in her eyes. "Was this your brilliant escape plan?"

"Who said anything about escape?" Elisa retorted as she quickly drew her gun, and fired… nailing Demona in her left arm.

Demona cried out in pain, but lunged towards Elisa, grabbing the gun from her hand and crushing it. "A valiant effort, Detective. But not good enough."

At that moment, Goliath landed on the parapet and growled. "Stay away from her," he rumbled.

"I think not," Demona replied with a snarl. "My only regret is that she won't live long enough to break whatever vows she was about to make to you, just as you did to me."

"I kept my vows to you, Demona," Goliath said sternly. "But in your hatred, you did not see fit to keep them, no matter how many times I tried to reach you. It was only then that I walked away and found true love."

"With a human!" Demona shouted. "Our kind mate for life, Goliath. Humans walk away from love and their vows as we walk away from our stone skin."

"You're one to talk. Does the name Thailog ring a bell?" Elisa snidely asked.

"Elisa does not deceive me," Goliath retorted. "Nor has she manipulated or betrayed me." His tone changed, growing sympathetic. "How long have you lied to me? Even back in Scotland, you never saw fit to tell me that you were the Archmage's apprentice. How many other lies were there? How many other deceptions?"

"That cannot be how you now see it," Demona cried. "Everything I did, I did for us!"

"Back then, perhaps," Goliath admitted. "But we were both young and foolish."

"You are still a fool, Goliath!" Demona said. Her eyes burned red. "And I'm going to finally kill your precious whore!"

Demona raised her particle beam rifle and aimed the barrel between Elisa's eyes, Goliath gasped. He knew he wasn't fast enough. But a split second before she could pull the trigger, she cried out in pain as a large bolt of electricity blasted into her, and in her pain she dropped her weapon.

Talon landed on the parapet and growled, "Hey, Demona, allow me to return you to your cell."

Demona snarled as Goliath pounced towards her. But she anticipated his move, and grabbed him by the arm and used his momentum to hurl him at Talon. The two tumbled into each other, but quickly righted themselves as Demona picked up her particle beam rifle and took to the air.

She circled back around, and raised her rifle, keeping a safe distance. Elisa got to her feet and stared directly at Demona, in stark defiance.

"Come and get me, you bitch!" Elisa shouted.

Demona's eyes burned red, she roared in hatred, then she lunged forward, taking aim; wanting to see the look in Elisa's eyes before she died. But before she could pull the trigger, Katana and Griff slammed into her from above and, with the assistance of gravity, slammed her straight into the courtyard below.

Broadway grabbed Demona's rifle and crushed it in his bare talons.

Demona briefly looked up in a daze, only to find herself surrounded on all sides by over a dozen of her enemies. She moaned in pain before Griff blasted her with his lightning gun, this time crying out in pain before passing out.

"You know Goliath," Griff said, echoing their first meeting, "that could have gotten a bit nasty there."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Elisa stormed into Xanatos's office and marched straight up to his desk. "Your crack team of comic book rejects couldn't stop Demona from smuggling that pig into the castle?"

"Bruno has already detained the guard that brought the crate in," Xanatos said as he turned in his chair to face her. "Looks like we had a leak in my organization."

"And where did that crate come from, anyway?" Elisa asked, still angry.

"The crate was labeled Nightstone Unlimited," Owen answered, as he pulled up a photograph of it on the monitor.

"The coffee chain?" Elisa asked, as she raised an eyebrow.

"Nightstone Unlimited has its fingers in a few more cups than just coffee," Xanatos said with a smirk. "They primarily specialize in bio-engineering. So far they haven't made much of a blip on my radar, but I think that was by design.

"I'd stop drinking their coffee if I were you, Detective," he added before turning the monitor towards her.

On the monitor, a dossier of Nightstone Unlimited came up. Xanatos moved the mouse to highlight the names of the two owners of the corporation. 'ALEXANDER THAILOG' stood out first, despite the lack of a photograph.

"You have got to be kidding me," Elisa said.

"It gets better," Xanatos continued to smirk. He clicked on the name 'DOMINIQUE DESTINE' and pulled up a photograph of Ms. Destine, wearing a conservative business suit, seated at a desk. "Look familiar?"

Elisa sighed. "Well, looks like it's back to Dunkin Donuts."

She turned around and exited the office.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

In the castle's lower levels, Angela stood watch over Demona, now bound in steel chains and sitting in the middle of a small cage with electrified bars.

"I have nothing to say to you," Angela snapped. "I can't believe it. What were you thinking?!"

"Angela, my daughter," Demona said with a smile. "I had hoped that we would speak again soon."

"I don't want to hear it," Angela cried.

"It's okay, Angela," Brooklyn said as he strode into the chamber, carrying a cup of water. "I'll take over from here."

Angela looked back at Demona, scowled, then turned around and walked away.

"And I suppose you're here to gloat?" Demona said. "Spare me."

Brooklyn tapped one of the controls on the cage and two of the bars powered down. He reached into the cell with the cup, offering its contents.

"What's this!" she asked before snarling.

"Tylenol," Brooklyn replied. "I promise you."

Demona just stared back at him, dumbfounded.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Inside the castle's infirmary, Macbeth swallowed a few pills while clutching his head in agony. "I feel like I got hit by a truck."

"My apologies," Hudson said as he placed a hand on the Scottish king's shoulder. "But it needed to be done."

"No arguments from me," Macbeth agreed, as he grasped Hudson's wrist in a warrior's sign of respect.

Dr. Sato finished wrapping Peter Maza's hand in bandages. "Okay, I've sterilized and packed the wound; the rest is up to you. Keep to the schedule I gave you for replacement of the packing and the dressings and take it easy on that hand for a few weeks, all right?"

Diane continued to grip Peter's other hand. "He'll go easy on it if he knows what's good for him."

"Glad you're all right, Dad," Talon said, as he sat down next to Diane.

"Me too," Elisa said, as she came in and hugged her father.

"Elisa, I -" Talon hesitated for a moment. "Look, I'm sorry."

"Derek, it's fine," Elisa replied.

"No," Talon said. "Goliath is a good man... er, gargoyle. You know what I mean. I was wrong."

"Yeah," Peter said. "Me too."

"For whatever it's worth, you and Goliath have my blessing," Talon said.

Elisa smiled and leaned over, giving her younger brother a big hug.

"Come on, guys," she said. "The gargoyles have just set up the feast. We can't let all that good food go to waste."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Long Island

Thailog soared through the air, carrying Shari in his arms. They had spent the last thirty minutes gliding in silence; the only sensation on her face more powerful than the wind was Thailog's anger.

"Shall I finish the story, Mr. Thailog?" she asked. He did not respond.

"For many years, Diarmuid and Gráinne were permitted to live in peace, during which they raised many fine children. Until the day Fionn invited Diarmuid on a boar hunt on the heath of Benn Gulbain, where the Son of Donn finally came face to face with the Beast prophesied to be his death.

"As Diarmuid lay dying, his heart impaled by the Beast's tusk, he begged Fionn to save him. For it was said that water drunk from the palm of Fionn Mac Cumhaill could heal any wound and cure any sickness.

"Twice did Fionn fetch water from a nearby stream. Twice did he allow it to 'accidentally' slip through his fingers. Then Oisín cursed his father, and Fionn's shame overwhelmed him. A third time did Fionn fetch water, but by the time he returned it was too late.

"Diarmuid had perished."

Thailog came to a landing outside of Sevarius's laboratory, and placed Shari down on the ground. "Wait here," he ordered.

Thailog slammed the doors open and strode into the lab.

"Thailog," Sevarius said, as he stood up. "My dear boy, this is a surprise. Usually I come to you."

"That fool, Demona, just outed my mole in the Eyrie Building," Thailog growled. "No doubt my enemies now know who runs Nightstone Unlimited."

"And how is that my concern?" Sevarius asked with disdain.

Thailog began digging through Sevarius's boxes and opening his freezers. "Where is it!" he growled.

"Thailog," Sevarius said with a grin, "I cannot betray a client like this."

Thailog turned on Sevarius and flared his wings, his eyes burning red. "And you cannot overestimate your usefulness to me."

"Very well," Sevarius said, with a sigh. He walked over to a cabinet and removed the tusk, unwrapped it from its sheet and handed it over.

Thailog marched over to the incinerator, fired it up and threw the tusk in.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

The Eyrie Building

Everyone had gathered at the picnic tables, at least the tables that were still standing after the boar's rampage. Those not seated at tables sat on the ground, plates in hand, as they enjoyed the meal Broadway, Katana, and Diane had prepared.

"My compliments to the chefs," Peter said, as he raised a glass in his good hand. He placed his arm around Diane. "I'm in such a good mood, I don't even mind that Xanatos is eating your chicken molé."

Peter and Diane gazed over at the billionaire as he and his wife partook of the exquisite meal.

Hudson pulled up a chair next to Peter. "Good to see you up and about, lad," he said. "Perhaps when your hand heals, you can teach me to shoot pool."

"It's a deal, buddy," Peter said.

Diane looked over to the next table at Goliath and Elisa, and couldn't ignore the love she saw in their eyes. "They do look happy together."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Natsilane sat down on the grass next to Beth, his plate full of yam and plantain. "So I thought I'd try the Nigerian food," he said.

"Been eating it all my life," Beth said with a grin.

"So," he began, rather sheepishly. "Would you like to sit next to me at the lecture on Monday?"

"Oh," Beth replied. "Nick, I'm sorry, and I don't want to give you the wrong impression, but I have a girlfriend back at Flagstaff."

"I'm sorry," Nick said as he inched away a bit, to keep a respectful distance. "Well, how about as friends, then?"

"I can't sit next to you at the lecture," Beth replied.

"If I made you uncomfortable, then I'm sorry," Nick pleaded.

"You have nothing to apologize for," Beth said. "I'm not just attending the lecture, I'm speaking at it."

"Oh?" Nick asked, then smiled. "Then that really gives me something to look forward to."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

King Arthur watched Beth and Natsilane out of the corner of his eye and smiled, before turning towards Griff. "And what do you think of them, my friend?"

"I think they both showed a lot of spirit," he said. "We do this every night, but it takes a lot of courage to face death like that, especially to defend others."

"Yes," Arthur said as he sat back, deep in thought.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

"I dunno, Angela," Broadway said as he looked down at the boar he prepared. "I think I lost my appetite for it."

"But you worked so hard," she said. She took a piece of it on a fork and ate it. "It's delicious, my love."

"But it just feels weird after..." he began, but Angela picked up another chunk of boar with the fork and fed it to him.

Broadway savored it, and smiled. "I guess I really did outdo myself."

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

"I hope this experience didn't scare you off, Amp," Lex said, nervously.

"Well, aside from the boar of death and the homicidal ex, I find all of this and your city to be quite charming," Amp replied with a grin.

"I just wish you were staying longer," Lex said glumly.

"Me, too," Amp sighed.

"Hey, I have an idea," Lex said as he perked up. "Why don't you stay? Join our clan. We have room, and I know Knight's Spur is full."

"Lex, I can't now."

"Oh," Lex sighed.

"At least not until I return to London and get some affairs into order. After that..."

"You mean it!" Lex cried out in happiness.


~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

As the meal began winding down, Elisa tapped a spoon on her glass before she and Goliath stood up. "Everyone, if we could get your attention," she called.

The conversations then ceased, food was left laying on plates, utensils had been set down and all eyes were on them.

Goliath projected his mighty voice with little effort. "This evening did not go quite the way we envisioned, but right now, with every one of you, I want to extend my thanks. This night wasn't just mine and Elisa's, but all of ours."

"Exchange vows!" Brooklyn called. The crowd cheered their support.

Goliath cleared his throat and took both of Elisa's hands in his own. "When I first awoke in this world -" - again he stared into Elisa's brown eyes - "I was a stranger in a strange land. Most of my clan was gone. I never thought I would find love again. But you, Elisa Maza, you made this land my home. You became my new clan. You became the love that I found.

"And I vow that from this night forward that you and I are one..." he paused for effect. "Now and forever."

Elisa smiled and laughed a little bit. "Earlier this evening I was dolled up, my dress was clean and untorn, I wasn't bruised, and I didn't smell like I'd just run in the New York City Marathon. But I'll be honest, that doesn't ring true. This is the life that I not only accepted, but the life I embraced before you came into my life, when I first put on my badge.

"In you, Goliath, I found a partner, a best friend, and a companion. Someone to protect and serve the City of Manhattan with, and someone to cozy up with for a quiet night in the library. I once told you that normalcy is overrated. And I wouldn't trade this for anything.

"Hard as it might be to believe, especially after what just transpired two hours ago, here now, with you and surrounded by family, clan, friends and others that had a profound impact on us; this really is the best night of my life. And the first night of the rest of it."

Goliath pulled Elisa into a tight embrace. He released her briefly; then they pulled each other into a passionate kiss as they each stroked the other's hair, oblivious to the applause surrounding them as they basked in each other's presence.

~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~

Hours had passed, and everyone had said their good nights. Some had gone to bed, and others had retreated to their own corners of the castle to relax after a long night.

But Talon and Maggie's night wasn't over as they flew over the city, carrying a bound and chained Demona.

"I tell you, Maggie, it was a lovely ceremony. I had them all wrong."

"Oh look," Maggie said, "you can admit to being wrong."

"They make for a fantastic couple," Talon said. "But don't tell Goliath that I said that."

"I wouldn't dream of it," Maggie replied with a smile.

Demona's eyes burned red, as she seethed in silence.

"I can't wait to return to the Labyrinth, toss Demona back in her cell, and get a good-night's sleep," Talon said before yawning.

"You and me both," Maggie replied.

They came to a landing on an alley, and Talon pulled open a manhole cover. "Ladies first," he said.

But before Maggie could climb down, Coldsteel came to a violent landing between them, and quickly restrained both of the Mutates with his tentacles. Demona looked back at him, mouth gaping, as the glow from her eyes faded.

"You didn't think that I'd leave my dear sister to rot?" the ensouled robot said with a sneer, before using his steel claws to tear apart Demona's chains, freeing her.

Demona flared her wings and stretched her arms, before unleashing a cougar-like roar.

Talon and Maggie fired their electo-blasts from their hands, causing Coldsteel to pull back a bit and release them.

"You're not going anywhere," Talon said, before growling.

"I beg to differ, human," Demona snarled as she pounced on Talon. But Maggie blasted Demona off of him with another blast, before grabbing Talon and leaping down the manhole, pulling him with her.

Demona looked down into the manhole and snarled, before turning her attention back towards Coldsteel.

"Why did you come back for me?" she asked.

"I've had time to think," he replied. "And perhaps, if you're willing to listen to a little bit of my advice, as I follow your lead, we could both get what we want."

"My enemies do greatly outnumber me," Demona said as she considered his words.

"Trust me, sister," Coldsteel said as he flared his tentacles into the air. "We are stronger together than apart."

Demona smirked, as she considered their next move.

Never the End

Featuring the voice talents of:

Thom Adcox Hernandez - Lexington
Ed Asner – Hudson
Brigitte Bako - Angela
Dee Bradley Baker - Fu-Dog
Roxanne Beckford – Beth Maza
Jeff Bennett – Brooklyn, Owen Burnett
Xander Berkeley – Coldsteel/Iago
Rocky Carrol - Talon
Alan Cumming – Staghart/Amp
Tim Curry – Anton Sevarius
Keith David – Goliath, Thailog
Neil Dickson – Griff
Michael Dorn – Coldstone/Othello
Bill Fagerbakke – Broadway
Zehra Fazal - Shari
Jonathan Frakes – David Xanatos
Michael Horse – Peter Maza
Kelly Hu – Khulan Chung
Robert Ito – Jay Sato
Yuri Lowenthal – Nashville/Gnash
Mary Elizabeth McGlynn – Victoria Saffron
Masaya Moyo – Beatrix Carradine
Ming Na - Katana
Nichelle Nichols – Diane Maza
C.C.H. Pounder – Coldfire/Desdemona
Gregg Rainwater – Natsilane/Nick
Salli Richardson - Elisa Maza
John Rhys-Davies – Macbeth/Lennox Macduff, Arthur Moorwood-Smyth
Marina Sirtis – Demona/Dominique Destine/Angel
Kath Soucie – Maggie the Cat
John St. Ryan – King Arthur
B.J. Ward – Lydia Duane
Frank Welker – Bronx, Boar of Diarmuid

Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Lucas McClain for more scientific jargon. To Algernon84 for Shari's story; and to Gryphinwyrm7 for contributing his master culinary skills to this tale. We're writing in a shared universe, folks. Check out their stories, because crossovers are coming.