36 - "Breakdown Part 5: The Light At The End"
Originally Written: January 12th, 2001

With a single utterance, the war had commenced. The field of black, pulsating with an
inhuman hatred and a multitude of organic weaponry, surged forth, surrounding the
gargoyles. Each of Wyvern's warriors prepared themselves for the battle, as they formed
a protective circle around their leader, still forced to his knees by the toxin. Shadow
pulled his nunchuku, Sata and Hudson their blades, and the rest, with their only weapons
consisting of clenched fists.

The shadow Sobek stood far to the side, watching intently his army of darkness
encroaching upon the clan. His taken fragments, seized by the poison, and made ever
stronger by his power, stood faithfully by his side, their gaze of malice connecting with
Goliath's virtuous components, who themselves pulled as far away as they could.

The soul-Elisa remained in the middle of the line-up, and as she bore witness to the
darkness closing in on her clan, she looked to her own hand. It was fading, the light of
her soul, that of Goliath, was dwindling. She now thought perhaps, the battle had been
lost before it even began.

The real Elisa had been purposely buried in the clan's circular formation, for their hope
that she would continue her efforts to break through to her mate. She clung to Goliath's
frame, her hands grasped to lavender skin and a thick tress of sable hair. Her contact to
him, though this was but a phantom of the real Goliath, still remained warm and she
could feel the weak, yet steady rhythm of life. She knew, no matter how enfeebled, how
sickly he had become, she would never give up her fight.

The shadow Sobek, destroyer of faith and the bringer of darkness, was as impatient and
egotistical as his real counterpart, and his army's advancement was too laggard for his
enjoyment. "Oh come now," he beckoned to them, "enough of this dramatic, fear
inducing crawl to the enemy...destroy them now!!"

His words were law to the creatures of a poisoned subconscious, and they obeyed without
question, immediately washing over the clan, and tearing into their ranks with lightning
quick ferocity.

Shadow was the first to land a blow, taking out two with a single strike, and swerving
around to knock a third with the steel capped end of his nunchuku, watching with animal
satisfaction of the monster's instantaneous implosion into nothingness. The clan,
warriors, pacifists, artists, writers, inventors, chefs, young men and women alike, were
now forced to fight for their own lives, as the horde increased their attack.

Brooklyn and Sata remained close to their children, fending off beast after beast, yet still
they came. Where one would fall, two more would take their place. The young
hatchlings clawed away at their enemy, ganging up, increasing their strength with each
sibling's own battle skills.

Annika slashed through demon after demon, and Todd pressed his back against hers,
landing hard punches and quick jabs against his foes, learned from many a bar fight,
orphanage tussle and school scrap in his semi-violent past. Always the one to start the
fight, and always the one to make sure it would be finished as well. He and his love, like
the rest, fought silently, for they knew the stakes were of a high gain, the life of their
friend.

Delilah did her best, as one who wanted peace in her life so badly, and always shied away
from battle. She kept her proximity to Shadow, who would sometimes, between his own
blurred martial arts moves, lend her a helping hand. He twisted around her slender
frame, defending his blossom to the bitter end.

Hudson, Demona, Angela, Broadway, lashed out in all directions. Hudson's tempered
mettle and Demona's animal rage worked as a perfect paradox to the other, and the
young mated couple beside them were careful to watch the other's back. Broadway's
massive fists were nothing short of battering rams, doing even Goliath proud with the
power he commanded. Demona's howling barely portrayed what anger was being
released with every blow, as she reveled in the bloodlust unleashed in the heat of battle.

Lexington bounced from creature to creature, his awesome speed and incredible agility,
enhanced even further by cybernetic implants, creating a warrior more than capable of
holding his own. He attacked where his data processors embedded in his brain, doing
their best to ascertain the enemies before him, had identified weak points. His talons
slashed through the arm and leg joints and what manifested as eyes in the horrid, ever
changing mass of blackened ooze. He fought on, his blanched olive-colored skin darting
this way and that through the consuming shadows and their razor sharp weapons, doing
his best to kept his skin still attached to his frame.

The Xanatoses weaved around each other as a ballet of skilled martial arts ensued,
playing their waltz upon the darkened dancefloor. Fox's wicked kicks and David's quick
thrusts slicing through, a learned expertise, now used instead for mere enjoyment of
physical prowess, but to endeavor for a man who helped rebuild their shattered spirits.
Man and wife, knowing their betrothed and their best moves so well, would thrust once,
and whirl around to finish the other's prey. Their designer clothing was becoming torn
and the skin beneath, bruised and bleeding at the savage attacks of an adversary
possessed of claws and talons, sharpened than that of any form of steel.

Desdemona and Othello, warriors of ancient Scotland, called upon again for their duty to
protect, stayed the closest to Goliath and Elisa. They were the last line of defense before
the ultimate quarry. They kept the shifting shadows at bay, allowing Elisa her chance to
reach through the void, to grasp upon the soul of her husband.

"Goliath!" she yelled to him, her anger and utter desperation apparent on a frayed tone.
"You have to fight! You have to come back! We need you now!! We can't hold out for
long!!" She continued time after time, try after try, but Goliath still remained
unresponsive, a weakened frame of seizures and convulsions, and his mind scattered to
the winds.

The walls of this room turned battlefield, streaked with lightning, and a furious storm
vented it's rage just beyond the barriers. This world was dying. Goliath was dying. His
psyche, those apparitions who waited upon the sidelines for the eventual champion, were
weakening as well. Half of them had fallen to their knees and helplessly watched as their
corporeal forms waned and grew transparent, and soon, only his soul, the form of Elisa
was standing. The last vessel to be taken by the toxin. The angel of ivory silk stood
alone at the forefront, forever gazing upon her own self, and his mate.

"Come on, Goliath," Elisa screamed, having noticed the fall of almost all of Goliath's
greatest parts, "you have to fight!!"

From beyond the ensuing chaos of gargoyle and human versus nightmare and demon,
stood the toxin's very essence. Sobek eyed his handiwork, and smiled, an exact replica
of his counterpart's sneer. "That's it, fight and fight and fight some more, but in the end
I will surely stand triumphant." he jested to himself. "I must give them their kudos
though, they fight bravely, but against so overwhelming odds, how can they possibly
prevail?" His voice was glacial ice, a bitter facetiousness plainly evident as he continued
to berate the force still fighting on.

"We must push them back!!" cried Shadow, he being perhaps the best chance of the
clan's survival, his unmatched fighting skills a beacon of hope in the absolute shroud of
enemy forces. "We must prevail!!" His nunchuku had been long ago torn from his
hands, and now his claws, wings and tail were the only weapons available. He thrust
with semi open palms, and incredible power flowing through, obliterating each attacker
with savage force. Low sweep kicks and high head shots, some blows even resulting in a
separation of head from body.

Yet through it all, the forces were too large in number and too great in their desire for
blood. They were releasing from the walls in ever increasing abundance, and a subtle
plan to split up the clan, to drag them apart from each other was working almost too
perfectly. The barrier around Goliath and Elisa was breaking down, and soon would
disappear altogether, allowing the horde to tear into the human detective.

Suddenly, a shrill voice rang out. "Todd!!" Annika had been snared by a tendril of
demonic ooze, and dragged away from the group, left to the mercies of the attackers
beyond.

"Annika!!" he screamed her name in the confusion, and desperately fought his way
through. Gashes were ferociously swiped upon his skin, and the blood flowed freely, but
his eyes were set on Annika and nothing else. "Get the fuck off me!!" His rage was
unequaled as his gargoyle lover was pulled ever farther away towards the wall, from
where the tendril had emanated forth.

"No..." she yelled to her captor, as her arms and legs were caught as well. With a vice of
steel, did they grab her and hold her. She felt the ooze creep up her skin, swallowing her
to the waist. She struggled furiously, her eyes screaming forth with the crimson gargoyle
manifestation of intense anger. "No!! NOOOO!!!"

"ANNIKAAAA!!!" Todd lunged to her, even still captured by the enemy mass, and
caught her last free appendage. Hand of human grasped hand of gargoyle, and they both
struggled to maintain this last connection of their bodies and souls. Yet he could not pull
her free, and pleaded for any assistance, "HEEEEELP!!! Somebody help me!!"

His cry echoed through the room, and caught every ear of his friends. Yet they were too
involved in their own battle to even try to come to his aid. The gargoyles were being
pulled even further apart, and were left to fend for themselves against the vicious swarm
of evil incarnate, given form and solidity to carry out the wishes of it's master.

"Don't let go, Annika!!" he cried to her, and seeing a flash of ocean blue, and the fear
contained within. The same fear he had beheld the night they first met, and in truth, it
scared him now as well. She had become a part of him, his proverbial better self, and
now felt what dread flowed through her veins, and tainted her heart. "Come on...come
on..." He was losing his grip, he was losing her. "Please..."

A indistinct shape landed beside him and an azure skinned hand grabbed Annika's arm,
holding her at bay. It was Demona, heaving heard the desperate cry, and fought her way
to the young couple. "I have you, Annika!!" she assured her friend.

"Don't let go!! Please!!" the rose-colored gargess begged, drowning in her own
uncertainties of their survival.

"I won't!!"

"None of us will!" cried Todd, as he and the immortal held her form steady. But even
their combined strength could barely pull her from the gnarled disorder of raven tendrils,
and instead, they found themselves becoming the next targets, as the walls erupted with
more hands and clawed about their forms, snatching arm and leg, and ensnaring them as
well. Now, the entire trio had fallen prey to Sobek's putrid army.

The clan was losing ground quickly, each member being pulled closer and closer towards
the walls, and severed from their loved ones. Delilah was caught and seized from
Shadow, the twins taken from their parents, Angela from Broadway. Frightening pleas
for help were cast around the room, yet no one could aid them.

****************************************

"What happening to them?!" Maggie called out, seeing the limp forms of her friends
losing their fight for life. Their minds were under siege, and thus, their bodies as well.
The lioness found herself at her Delilah's side, feeling for a pulse. The clone's heart rate
was decreasing, she was dying. "What's wrong?!"

"They are losing." an emotionless Owen Burnett replied, standing at the far side of the
cell, holding a sleeping Trinity to his left shoulder, and rubbing Alexander's hair, as the
toddler clasped to his right leg. "They are losing the battle, and so their bodies are
weakening as a result."

"What can we do?!"

"Nothing, Maggie." replied her husband, as Talon knelt beside her. "If they lose the fight
inside his mind, they'll die. The body can't live without the mind." He wrapped his
arms around her trembling frame, and whispered to her gently, as her face had found the
breadth of his chest. "We can't help, we can only pray that they will find a way. That
Elisa will bring him back."

****************************************

"Goliath, please!!" Elisa hollered with every fiber of her being, barely receiving a stirring
of lavender skin in reply.

Othello and Desdemona were still around the mismatched couple, fighting a futile battle,
as they had been left to the utter severity of the forces of the poison. Streaks of scarlet
and dark maroon marred their once beautiful skin. They were being literally torn apart.
Chunks of skin ripped from their arms, legs, torso, face, they were covered in their own
blood and entrails. Yet they fought on, true valor within each of their hearts.

Suddenly, a few encroaching forms melded into each other, a fusion of raw power,
increasing their size and mass, and creating from many, a massive hulking creature. It
grabbed each gargoyle with a claw, and dragged them away.

"NOOOO!!!" Desdemona screamed with dread. "My sister!!" She shot a last look to
Elisa just before being swallowed completely in the void. "Othel..."

"My love!!" Othello howled, baring his teeth in a feral rage as his chosen mate
disappeared beneath layers upon layers of filth, engorged with evil. "I will not allow you
to take us...I will not allow..." A hollow threat, as he too was devoured, and his growls
were abruptly silenced.

Elisa and her mate were now completely exposed, and the army closed in.

"This should be interesting." said Sobek beneath his breath. "I have seen the inside of
Goliath, and now I shall see the insides of his beloved as well. Bring me her heart, I wish
to see her own organ of life cease it's beating before her eyes!!"

They obeyed without question, and in one split second, a smaller shape threw itself
towards the couple, heading directly for Elisa's throat. But, as if a force of energy had
been erected, it was thrown back into the mob.

"What?" Sobek watched with dismay as his warrior was repelled. "What happened?"

The forces continued to throw themselves towards the Mazas. Yet they were unable to
reach them. They barraged upon the shaft of light, yet could not break through.

"DAAAAMN!!!" The Sobek shadow roared, turning to face the last standing member of
Goliath's psyche. "You did this, you little whore!! You are still protecting them!!"

The soul-Elisa managed a smile before falling to her knees. "That light is the last
untouched domain of Goliath's mind. You cannot...penetrate through. You will not have
her, demon. You will...not win..." Her words gave out, as her fading strength had sapped
the ability to speak.

Sobek was seething now. Like his counterpart, he hated to lose. Yet he quickly calmed
himself and turned to see his army still dogpiling upon the light, and still being repelled.
"Brute strength will not prevail now. This will require a delicate touch." The battalion
was an extension of his own self, and thus he was in control of them. He could see
through their eyes and feel every drop of blood spilled from the clan. He took control of
a smaller form, who ducked through to where Elisa's foot had been left unintentionally
on the very edge of the barrier. With a quick snap, a small creeper slithered in and
briskly caught her foot, pulling Elisa away from Goliath.

"No!! Goliath, help me!!" she cried, watching the distance between her and her husband
grow increasingly farther apart. "Goliath!!"

The lavender giant felt the release of those warm hands from his body, and looked up to
see Elisa being hauled away from him, towards the wall. His vision was clouded and
blurred, yet he still saw with perfect clarity, the absolute terror streaked across her face.
"E...Elisa?..." His speech was slurred and sluggish, and he raised an arm to her, an open
hand to beckon her own embrace to him. Yet nothing came. She was gone.

"Get off me, you fuckers!!" Elisa screamed with savage fury as she was pulled towards
the wall, where her essence would be absorbed by the toxin, and Goliath's light would
dim, and be extinguished forever. They reached the wall, and threw Elisa into the pit of
blackness, immediately being consumed up to her thighs. "Shit!!"

"They have Elisa!" called Shadow, who himself had been partially assimilated. "Some
one. Anyone. Help her! They can't take her, or all is lost!!"

"We got problems over here too, pal!!" Todd yelled back, as he and Annika held to
Demona, all three of them almost covered completely by the ooze.

The entire clan had been taken to the very boundaries of the room, and were now
entrapped within. All of them were fighting, struggling, to release themselves. Sata and
Brooklyn were helpless, watching as their twins were absorbed first.

"MOOOOOOOOMMM!!!" Arianna screeched, before she was lost along with her
brother.

"No!! My daughter...my son...NOOOOOO!!!" Sata's eyes welled with tears of pain, as
her last sight of her children were of their gruesome demise.

"DAMMIT!!!" Brooklyn reached for his mate, and a grasp of crimson connected with an
emerald grace. "I love you..." he beseeched to her.

"I know..." she replied, before the timedancers were swallowed, and their resistance
quelled.

"Angela," cried Broadway, "take my hand!!"

"I can't...I can't reach..." the lavender female tried with all her might to extend her hand
to his, but it proved fruitless, as they too were taken by the ooze.

The entire clan had now been silenced, Demona, Hudson, the Xanatoses, Lexington, all
taken to where only nightmares exist. Only one remained, Elisa. She fought on, as the
poison crept along her frame, now reaching upon her abdomen. "Goliath!!
GOLIATH!!!"

Sobek heard her cries, and knowing she was the only one who could ruin all his master's
carefully laid out plans, focused his attention on her mate. His eyes thinned and with a
wave of his hand, brought forth more hallucinations upon Goliath.

"How could I ever love a weakling," called an apparition of Demona, "who cared more
for the humans than his own race?"

"I though ye would be th' best one to lead us," Hudson appeared before Goliath's eyes
next, "instead ye let our entire clan be destroyed."

"No..." Goliath huddled to the ground, the phantoms of his past and present whirling
around in a faded slideshow.

"I always hoped I would meet my father," it was Angela who taunted him now, "and then
after forty years, I find a sniveling coward who cannot even fight his own battles."

"We all believed in you," the trio appeared next, scorning with a rasped voice, "you let us
down."

"Please...leave me..."

And next, would be the killing blow, as Elisa stood in front of him, and Goliath's eyes
fixated on her own dark stare. "How could I ever love a monster like you? How could I
share my life with a genetic aberration? An accident of nature. A race that should have
been destroyed long ago!!" She kneeled to his face, sneering and cursing into his ears,
continuing her master's wishes of the total annihilation of his soul. "I could never, ever
love you! You are a coward, a monster, you are not even worth the spit it takes to say
your name. I should have hooked up with Jason, he at least could give me a real life,
instead of letting me be attacked, and raped, and almost killed, time after time after
fricking time. You can't even protect your own goddamn family, let alone your clan or
your race!"

"...no...please...I love you..."

She stuck in her face right into his, and snarled what Goliath had always feared hearing,
"I'm almost sick to my stomach that I even allowed you to touch me, allowed you to
impregnate me, to have a bastard monster of a girl. Wings, claws, spikes, even a tail,
she's a demon, and should be killed!"

"...no..." This time, it was Elisa's plea. The real Elisa, still fighting for her life, and
Goliath's soul. She had been enveloped up to her chest, and with only one arm free,
grasping vainly for him to help her. "...don't listen..."

"You are a freak, a monster. I regret ever having said I loved you, and hope
you...will...die..." She stood up, the twisted replication of Elisa, and watched as he raised
tormented eyes to her. "You might as well give up this fight, bastard, you have no soul
worthy enough to fight for."

Goliath reached up, and upon touching the apparition, she cracked and shattered, and
crumbled to a pile with the sickening sound of death. All the spirits around him fell as
well, sending the shards of themselves to the ground, and being carried off in a spiteful
wind.

"NOOOOOOO!!!!!" Goliath bellowed, tears now streaming down his face.

"You killed them, Goliath," said the shadow Sobek in a hateful voice, "you failed them,
and now they are all dead. Give up, give up this futile battle, and allow me to take
control."

"...no...don't...please..." Elisa still did her best to send forth her assurances, but as the
ooze prowled up the extent of her neck and her arm, her strength was slipping away.
"...help me..."

Goliath closed in around himself, crouching to the cold ground, leaving two pools of
salty warmth that was his relentless tears. "I failed them all..."

"...no, Goliath...you didn't...you gave us all life...gave me your love...gave me a beautiful
daughter..."

"Die, gargoyle, relinquish your life, and the pain will disappear. Give to me your soul,
and it will all end." Sobek raised his voice over Elisa's. "The endless pain, the guilt, the
hatred, the remorse, all of it will cease upon your conceding to me."

"...no...we all need our pain...it helps to guide our decisions and actions...so the past
won't be repeated...we need that pain...please...hold on, Goliath..."

(((Goliath))) It was the soothing voice, having fought it's way back from oblivion's
clutch. (((they...all need you...especially Elisa...look at her)))

Goliath heeded her wish and looked to his Elisa, almost taken by the blackness, fed from
the walls that was his psyche. The darkness had numbed her body and senses, and she
lost all feeling in her legs. Her eyes were penetrating into his, a chocolate grace he had
cherished so dearly.

(((she loves you with all her heart...she is real...she is your love...your mate...the
mother...of your children...will you allow this simple toxin...to take away a life that has
meant so much to others?)))

"...no." he answered.

(((fight for her...fight for them all...and fight for yourself)))

Goliath clenched his fists in anger, forcing the pain wracking his body to relent it's
vicious attack.

(((they all believe in you...Elisa believes in you...I believe in you...my son)))

Goliath clicked once more to Elisa, the darkness having slithered about her face, and
leaving terror filled eyes to peer into Goliath's very being. His teeth clenched, his
muscles brimmed over with his power, and he rose to one knee.

"...help me..." she cried once more.

"No!!" Sobek blared, his smile swiftly falling from his lips. "You can't...I won't allow
you to win!!"

The soul-Elisa, visibly transparent, and fading from view, felt a surge of welcome
strength flow through her essence, and quickly stood to her full height. The last
untouched part, where all of this gargoyle's very hopes and dreams and purity of spirit
was held, grew with him, a tide of blessedness and tranquillity from where he drew his
greatest power.

"...Goliath, please help m..." Elisa's pleas were quieted as the ooze filled her mouth and
enveloped her face, leaving only a open hand, slowly sinking into the engorgement of the
poison.

Like Lazarus returning from the dead, Goliath rose up and his entire body flexed and
rippled with sheer power. His strength was returning as the evil was drained from his
heart and soul. A gargoyle's scream of war filled the entire auditorium, sending the
shadow Sobek and his taken fragments into convulsions of pain. Goliath emerged from
the light and headed directly for the hand of his most precious love. And just before it
disappeared beneath the surface, a massive lavender hand grabbed hold, and pulled with
all it's might.

Elisa was torn from the sickness, and into Goliath's awaiting arms. She coughed what
foul matter had filled her lungs and wrapped both arms around Goliath's neck. "...I'm
really...starting to love these...last second rescues of yours," she cried blissfully, "I knew
you...would save me, I knew you would beat this."

"I have you to thank for being the guide." He locked eyes with his love, and charcoal
met chocolate in a rousing bond, strengthened through adversity and courage. They came
together in a meeting of their lips, tasting each other's succulent warmth and sweet
flavor.

"I love you." she said upon parting.

"And I love you, my dearest Elisa." he breathed wistfully. "We are together forever, in
both spirit and soul."

"NNOOOOOO!!!" The shadow Sobek lept from his place and hauled his way towards
the couple. "You will not win!!"

Goliath released Elisa, and stood in front of her, waiting for the poison he had almost
succumbed to, to reach his stead. As the specter of the toxin launched himself at him
with a sharpened armory of his claws, Goliath simply caught him by the chest, sending
his talons deep into the flesh, and holding him in mid-air. "You no longer have any
power here, demon. Now release my clan, and the hold on my mind."

"...never..."

"I said," his eyes burst open with his angered glow, "release. Them. NOW!!!"

The shadow Sobek felt the gargoyle's grip into his chest cavity tighten, and he reluctantly
let loose the clan. One by one they spilled from the walls, and into each other's arms.
Lovers were reunited, and parents with their children. The inflicted injuries had
vanished, as if the battle had never taken place. They approached their leader, and stood
to the side as he addressed his adversary in a cold tongue.

"A very good try." said Goliath. "I almost had myself doubting my family and friends
and the love I shared with my Elisa. I almost succumbed to the guilt and pain caused by
the death of my clan. But I know now, I was not at fault. I did my best, and ensured their
safety for as long as I was leader. I was betrayed..." He looked to Demona, who
painfully ripped her gaze away. "By someone who never meant to hurt her kind. By
someone who made a grievous mistake. By someone who I believe...deeply regrets her
actions, and has once again become a vital part of this clan."

Demona never looked back, but shed a single tear at his eloquent words, and felt
Angela's arms steal around her, and press tight to her skin.

"My clan never truly died, they are still with me. The agony I carry over their deaths will
still reside within me, for I need that pain to help ensure nothing else will ever happen to
my new clan. It will serve as a constant reminder to me in my continuing fight to keep
all I love safe from harm. And right now, poison, I shall begin my life anew, starting
with your destruction, and the retaking of my soul." He placed both hands to each side of
Sobek's head, and forcefully pulled apart. Sobek was ripped in two, and with his demise,
released a disheartening wail of devastation.

The taken components, Goliath's worst parts of his mind, yelled in pain, as their master
had crumbled to dust. Thailog and Jon Castaway shattered, and erupted in a fiery death.
The rest were enveloped by a bright white radiance, and as the poison released them from
a madman's bond, they resumed their proper roles in the lavender giant's mind. They
stood tall, in their proper ivory garments, slowly joining the rest of Goliath's psyche, and
re-introducing themselves.

"I am his praise," said David Xanatos, his suit having changed to a stark glowing white,
"his pride at seeing his clan grow and live in happiness."

"I am his pleasure," continued Fox, "his utter delight and joy."

Next to speak was Jason Canmore, now chained once again to his wheelchair, but
seeming as if he belonged there. "I am his trust, his honesty."

And last was Demona, a flowing white dress having replaced her dark garments. "I am
his patience, his calmness and composure."

Elisa tightened her grip upon her husband's hands, as she was held in his embrace.
"You're all back together."

The soul-Elisa approached from the crowd. "Not quite," she answered, fastidiously
snapping her gaze to the environment, still a darkened wasteland, churning with the last
vestiges of poison, "there is one last task for you, Goliath, to release yourself from this
toxin."

"And what is that?" he replied, looking down upon the angel having taken his wife's
form.

"Coming to terms with she who you spurned."

"Who?"

The soul-Elisa pointed to an indistinct region of the room, where a lone figure stood, as if
purposely concealing herself in the shadows. "Look, Goliath, upon she who loved you
very much."

Goliath gently moved Elisa from his side, and slowly walked forwards, heading towards
the figure. He came to a halt when his eyes peered upon the form. "It's you..."

The figure moved forwards, a slender shape, with wings held high and flawless lavender
skin, so much like Goliath's own. "So, you do remember me."

"How could I forget?" Goliath answered back, his tone wavering with an unknown pain.

"Goliath," Elisa came running to his side, "who is it?"

"She...is my mother."

Elisa's mouth gaped, as did the rest of the clan's, except for a smiling Hudson. The
gargess moved even closer, and looked up into her son's noble face. She possessed his
skin tone, and his brow spikes, with a shocking tress of pure ebony shine. Streaks of
sterling gray flowed through, yet only added to her beauty. She covered herself with a
simple brown tunic, and a leather belt around her waist. "I thought you might perhaps
not welcome me back, after what happened."

Goliath's half smile fell, as did his heart. "O-On the contrary, I hoped one day I would
have a chance to apologize to you...for what I said a thousand years ago."

The soul-Elisa circled around them. "What did you say?" she asked of her self, playing
the part of a certain psychiatrist waiting outside of this realm for their safe return. "Why
do you feel so much pain when staring at this member of your clan from Scotland?"

"Because...I once told her, that she was not my mother, and I effectively broke her heart
with a simple, spiteful sentence."

"Why would you tell her that?"

Goliath continued to stare at the woman before him, her smile still speaking volumes to
his heart. "I was uncomfortable with her...special attention to me, and took it upon
myself to remind her of the gargoyle's way of raising the hatchlings."

"And she was hurt by that...why?"

"I was angry, being treated any different from my brothers and sisters made me feel
different myself, so I...yelled at her." Goliath's eyes were welling with tears, gazing
down at a caretaker who he thought he would never see again. "I was so hurtful. I was
so...aggressive, mean. When my anger subsided, I wished so I could take it back, but my
stubborn pride prevented that fact."

"And then what happened?"

Goliath's tears were now running rampant, as he was unable to hold them back any
longer. "She was...killed a few months later...in a Viking raid on the castle...and I never
had the chance to apologize to her. She died knowing only my hatred filled words still
within her. I am so sorry..." He reached out to the female gargoyle with a trembling
hand, and stopped, thinking she most likely would not accept.

But surprising him, she quickly snatched his hand, and pressed it to her chest. Her grip
tightened about the massive assemblage of fingers and muscle, and she continued her
gaze into his own eyes of a matched tint, the purest onyx passed from mother to son. "I
knew you truly regretted your words, and I never came forth to extend my apology as I
knew you wished so dearly to make the first move to me."

"But I never did..."

"Only because my death prevented that. You would have come back to me in your own
time, but you were so filled with your father's words of tradition and honor, you could
not see past your own wings, making it difficult for you to apologize for something you
thought was right."

"My...father..."

"His father?" Elisa whispered, running through her mind, what hulking beast would have
ever shared his stature with his impressive offspring.

"Yes, Elisa Maza," a deep, booming voice, lower than that of Goliath's, rumbled behind
them, "his father." A massive shadow appeared and loomed over Goliath's mother. The
entire clan, even Goliath, had to crane their necks to come face to face with this newest
gargoyle. Standing almost eight feet tall, with a solemn grayish skin pallor, and a
massive brow over dark eyes. A tremendously muscular form, with a mass of sable hair
flowing to the waste, and over his black loincloth.

"Whoa!" exclaimed Elisa, straining to see this gargoyle towering over her. "Now that's a
big guy."

He looked to the human and smiled, rugged features, from where Goliath had inherited
his handsome exterior, forming a grin. "Goliath is of my blood. And he seems to have
broken with a tradition held in very high standard with my kind. He mated with a human,
and acknowledged a daughter of the clan as his own. I am somewhat surprised at
this...Goliath."

Goliath looked down, and Elisa found it hard to believe her husband had actually been
scolded. He swallowed hard before answering, "I...never wished to disappoint you, elder,
but...these are very different times...I..."

"Do not apologize." he bellowed, perhaps unintentionally. "Adaptation is a skill leaders
must possess to ensure the security of their clan, and you needed to adjust to this new
world. I am truly glad you found your daughter safe, and admitted to her parentage. You
brought her true happiness through those actions, that may have caused you some pain. I
am also glad to see that my mate's wondrous beauty resides in the newest generation. I
take great pleasure in seeing...all three of my beautiful granddaughters live and thrive
with their family."

At this comment, Angela and Delilah blushed somewhat.

"Ye always were th' sweet-talker, brother." replied Hudson casually.

"Hmmm, yes, my old friend. But, Goliath, this pain you feel is mostly centered around
your last words with your mother," Goliath's father continued, "you still carry great
torment in your heart from that ill-chosen declaration."

"I know...I know," Goliath agreed hastily with his father, "but I was training, perhaps to
be second of my clan one day, and felt I needed to...uphold gargoyle tradition. To not
lose what we had in the face of human expansion into our world."

"Though my mate's actions were not...considered part of our custom, some gargoyles
found it hard to raise the children they knew as theirs, like just another hatchling. Her
bond with you was so powerful, Goliath, she could not ignore that. I do not blame her for
breaking our traditions, I blame myself for being so stubborn, and closed-minded to her
love for you, our son."

Goliath turned back to his mother. "I am so sorry, for ever making you feel...as if you
were not a valued part of my life. I knew even at a young age, that you were truly my
biological mother, and found myself blessed with your friendship. But..."

"I suppose, my son," she cut in, "that I mothered you too much."

Goliath smiled, and finally wrapped his mother into his arms, closing his wings about
her. She nestled into the breadth of his chest, and sighed her bliss of finally being
accepted. "I am sorry...mother."

"Now," said the soul-Elisa, "things are finally complete." The room shook slightly as the
remnants of the poison drifted away. They bled from the walls and retreated from the
floor, leaving only a glorious white, rimmed with an ornamentation of gold. Each frame
upon the wall now held a member of the clan in their confines. The shaft of white light
in the center contained a swirl of ochroid dust, collecting in ever increasing amounts, and
building a form of solid gold within. It was Elisa, an angelic specter frozen in gleaming
alloy. The ultimate symbol of his love, and the very part of his being that is his soul.
"Your soul has been rebuilt and strengthened even further by the love of your clan and
your mate."

Elisa wrapped herself around Goliath's arm and he responded in kind with a gentle
sweep of his talons to her hair.

"Wait," Angela came forward, "I am still a little confused. How can you be here when
you died over a millennia ago?" She directed her question to Goliath's mother.

"We are the parts he carries with him always. We forever live here, in his cherished
memories." Goliath's mother stepped back, and directed her gaze to an entirety of bodies
surrounding the room. Goliath's clan had returned, all those killed long ago, back to
grace their leader's eyes for one more time. Goliath whirled around to see all his
brothers and sisters risen from their shattered forms, and standing to attention all around
him. "We are forever with you, my son. I am with you, until eternity's end. But it's
time now, to go back to the real world."

"I do not wish to leave you..."

"We are still here," she responded, placing her hand to his chest, over his powerfully
beating heart, "right here. All of us."

"Thank you, mother. I...I love you."

"And I you, my handsome son." Goliath's mother answered, stepping back into her
mate's chest. "Take care of yourself, and your family."

"Until my last breath." And the world dissolved around the clan, as Goliath filled his
eyes with one last look to his mother and father, before the darkness of unconsciousness
overtook him.

****************************************

"Look! They're coming around." Sharon called out, catching everyone's attention to the
clan.

Goliath stirred first, and upon opening his eyes, found Elisa waking beside him. He
gathered her into his arms, and she groggily awakened to his dusky eyes. "Hello, my
Elisa."

"Hey, Big Guy. How are you feeling?"

A deep breath of fresh air inhaled into his lungs, the taste of freedom, and good health.
"For the first time, in a long time...complete, and whole. Thank you." He stood up, with
Elisa carried in his arms, and faced the rest of his clan, now standing alongside. "Thank
you. All of you. I would not have survived if not for your courage and strength. I
apologize for my actions and words in the past few days, Annika, Angela, all of you, I
was...not myself."

"It's all right. You are our leader, and our friend, father," replied Angela, as she quickly
curled against him, always mockingly jealous of his attention to Elisa, "you are a part of
us."

The clan all gave forth their best wishes as they hugged him and shook his hand. The
mutates, the doctors, and even little Alexander, having been united with his parents.

Goliath eyed Dr. Blackwell, and extended his hand. "Thank you, doctor. Your help was
greatly appreciated."

"I am glad you have come to terms with what you have faced," she replied, excitedly
grasping his hand and seeing who she had heard so much about, with an actual smile
tugging at his lips, "I hope you won't keep your feelings bottled up inside."

"No. I know now, it helps to talk freely about your problems with those you love."
Goliath then turned to the three of his friends, once enemies, and yet a part of the almost
suicidal plan to save his sanity. "I have you to thank, Fox, Xanatos...Demona, as well. I
could never have imagined you would go to such great lengths to help save my life."

"You have allowed us, former enemies, to seek redemption," said Fox, "and have
become a good friend."

"We both have always believed our fates were intertwined, now we know that's true."
Xanatos added to his wife's words. "Thank you, for trusting us."

Goliath simply nodded and then turned his attention to Demona. The former mates stood
silently, staring at each other, until Goliath reached to her, and she accepted. "Thank
you, Demona. Without your help, I may have been lost."

"And without you to help bring me back, I too would have been lost to a thousand years
of revenge and hatred. Shall we call it even then?"

He squeezed her hand even harder, trying to muffle a laugh. "Of course..."

"Well, as much as I hate to break up this touching moment," Brooklyn drawled, his
sarcasm cutting through the conversation quite effectively, "it's almost morning."

"It's dawn already?"

"I could have told you that." answered Elisa, as she took hold of her baby daughter and
let loose a yawn. "Man, I don't know about any of you, but I'm beat."

"Come, let's get to our perches. Tomorrow shall be a brand new start, for all of us."

****************************************

The night had once again arrived, and announced it's presence with a splash of
remarkable color, growing ever darker with the retreat of the sun. The glowing orb soon
melted into the distant landscape and the island of Manhattan lit up. Upon dusk's advent,
the gargoyles tore from their stone shells, and met the winter breeze head on, and for one
in particular, it smelled as sweet as ever.

But two familiar scents lingered around Goliath's sense of smell, as he turned to find his
wife and baby daughter waiting for him to awaken. Goliath immediately jumped down
and grabbed Trinity from Elisa's arms. With a whirl of his progeny to the sky, she
flittered and squealed and laughed with her flight. Goliath smiled even larger than
before, a renewal of life commencing this night.

"So, feeling better?" Elisa teased, knowing with the large grin curling his lips that he
was.

"Very much." he replied quickly, his pleasant tone carrying through, as if all demons he
had carried for so long had disappeared.

Elisa instantly snared his arm with her lithe form, grazing her cheek to his skin and
reveling in the calming warmth that had been almost lost some days ago. His
self-inflicted injuries were gone, healed by the stone, leaving only a regal facade. Yet her
reverie was broken suddenly when a voice called out to her husband.

"Father?!" It was Angela, having traveled the steps to the tower and running to her
father's side. "I was wondering if you would join me for breakfast?"

"Hey!" Another call came forward, as Delilah had followed Angela's path. "He's going
to come to the Labyrinth with me!"

"No way!!" And yet one more cry, as a pair of young voices echoed about the cornices.
"He said he would help us with our newest Nintendo game!!" Graeme and Arianna
appeared briskly from the stairway, and ran towards the lavender giant.

Goliath, holding a squirming Trinity in his arms and pulling at his hair, contended with
four young gargoyles vying for his attention. He scattered his looks to each youthful
face, left speechless in the brunt of their yelling.

"AHEM!!!" Elisa forcefully cleared her throat and appeared before six sets of wide eyes.
"I am his wife, so I get first dibs." Instantly, a discord of angry yells erupted, furious at
Elisa's theft of Goliath, until she simply thinned her eyes and crossed her arms. The
voices soon died out and they fell silent. "You can have him when I am done with him,
and not a second sooner. Now come on, Big Guy, leave Trinity with her sisters and let's
go."

Goliath turned to the others, and shrugged his apology, handing off Trinity to Angela, and
hiding from her scowl as he quickly followed his wife down the steps.

****************************************

"So, my love," Goliath started, closing the bedroom door behind them, "you now have
me all to yourself." In a jest, and an attempt to bring a smile to her face, he hopped onto
their bed and sprawled into a laying position, planting his head onto his elbow and
cocking a browridge in her direction. "You may now do to me what you wish."

Elisa simply shook her head. "Oh we'll get to that later. But there's something else..."
She quickly moved to her dresser and pulled from the top drawer, the emerald crystal
necklace given to her by her husband four days ago. "I never properly expressed my
gratitude for your anniversary gift," she said, placing the pendant around her neck, "and I
would like to thank you...very personally."

"Oh?" Goliath perked up, enjoying the turn this conversation was taking.

"Now before your loincloth is thrown to the floor in a fit of passion, just shut up and
listen..." Elisa sat beside him, and curled her fingers down his brow. "After the attack
by Sobek, I was so scared. Scared that my husband, my family, my baby girl could be
hurt, or even killed."

Goliath sat up quickly and tried to speak his mind, yet with a copper hand placed over his
mouth, he was silenced.

"What I said before, that I wished sometimes it would be over...that wasn't entirely true.
This life I have with you is worth the fight. That little angel of a girl we have together is
worth it. Keeping my family safe and you always by my side, is worth it. I know now,
that we won't be beaten, not by anyone. Not by Sobek or any other psycho bastard that
thinks we're an easy target. We've beat him twice now, and I know we'll beat him again.
We're strongest together, and together will we prevail. I love you with all of my heart,
and I feel as if you were the one I was looking for ever since I was born. I can't even
imagine my life without you there, waiting for me, my guardian angel gracing the highest
turret of a fairytale castle. You and I are one, now...and forever."

Goliath looked at her with an overwhelming love in his eyes, and found himself at a loss
for words. "Elisa..."

"Hey, I know you think I might also just be trying to cover the pain I've experienced the
past few months, but," she held up her left hand, and there on her third finger was her
wedding ring, a diamond in a setting of golden glow and a symbol of love shared with her
mate, "when I said 'I do' a year ago...I meant it."

He looked upon her with a renewed sense of hope. Everything he had dreamed about and
hoped for, was contained within this slender body. His angel of trust, prospect and
desire, taken form in her lush bronze skin and thick ebony hair. He leaned in to capture
her lips and within that expanse of mere seconds, he detected a creak from beyond their
bed. The doors opened slowly and in peeked a lavender face.

"Father?" Angela called out quietly. "Are you and Elisa decent? As in fully clothed?"

A rumbled sigh ripped through Goliath's lips, as once again, his children's timing had
ruined a romantic interlude. "Yes, Angela."

The young gargess slipped inside, with Delilah and Trinity and the twins behind her, and
they all surrounded the couple, placing themselves onto the bed.

"We thought we might invite you to breakfast," Angela asked, propping herself near her
father, "if Elisa is finally finished with you."

Goliath stalled his question, and roamed his eyes to every gargoyle on his bed. Those he
almost lost in the span of a week, and those who risked their lives to save him. "No," he
began, swelling into a peculiar smile, "I have something better in mind."

"And what would that be?" Elisa asked, inherently curious about what he would think up.

"I wish to tell you, all of you, about my past. About my clan from Scotland, and how
they enriched my life so."

Elisa instantly grew a massive smile, her eyes beaming. "I've been wanting to hear about
your family for the longest time. Especially a certain...unconventional mother-in-law. It
seems she and I have a lot in common."

"I know, and I'm sorry to have kept my past from you, but the pain was sometimes too
great."

"And now?" Delilah chirped.

"And now, to build a bridge between the past, the present," he looked intently at Trinity,
"and the future, would truly be a blessing indeed."

"So, get started." Elisa excitedly exclaimed, finding a more comfortable place to sit.

"Well, where should I start?"

"Try the very beginning..."

"All right. Perhaps the first memory I had was the rookery where I was hatched, and the
caretakers there, including...my mother. She..."

"HEY!!!" A shrill yell bellowed within the hallway, and Todd blew through the doors.
"Come on! Breakfast's ready, I'm friggin' starving, and Broadway won't serve without
his 'darling mate'..."

"Hmmm...there's that overwhelming urge to punch him again." Goliath whispered. "I
was busy telling the tale of my past, Mr. Hawkins."

"Why does everyone keep calling me that? Hey guys!!" he yelled back to the kitchen.
"Goliath's gonna spill his guts about his past. Come on!! And bring some grub!!" The
young human tore over to the couch, turned it around to face the bed and flopped onto
the plush cushions. And mere moments later, the rest of the clan, including the
Xanatoses, Demona, and Owen, had entered into the bedroom, and made themselves
comfortable.

"Well," Elisa drawled, "we're waiting..."

The lavender giant peered to all his family, gargoyles, humans, Fay, brought together in a
bizarre set of circumstances, coincidences, and twists of fate, yet seeming now as if they
all belonged together. "My family, my clan, my brothers and sisters. I loved them all,
and deeply cherished the time we spent together. I remember each and every one of
them, and the moments we shared, as if it were yesterday, and how they were some of the
happiest times in my life..."