Even Angels Shall Weep
(A prequel To "X And The Single Gargoyle")

By Denigoddess

DISCLAIMER: THE X-MEN ARE NOT MINE. THEY BELONG TO MARVEL. I DO NOT OWN GARGOYLES, DAVID XANATOS, OR OWEN BURNETT. THOSE CHARACTERS BELONG TO DISNEY. OFFICER JOSEPH PHILLIPS AND THE CHARACTERS JESSICA JAYDE "JAYE" MORGAN AND ADRIENNE JAYDE WESTFALL BELONG TO ME. THEY ARE MINE.
THIS STORY IS RATED R FOR VIOLENCE, STRONG VIOLENCE AND MATURE THEMES. PARENTAL DISCRETION IS ADVISED. THIS STORY WILL CAUSE A FLASHFLOOD OF TEARS. GRAB THE CLEENEX AND READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

If you've been reading the "X and the Single Gargoyle" series, you know that it's been a series of crossovers involving the X-Men and Gargoyles. It has also chronicled the burgeoning romance between Goliath and an original character, Adrienne. Mostly it has been a romance between her and Goliath, but, now the story has been evolving into something much bigger. Many readers have asked me the question, 'what happened to Elisa?' This story is a prequel to the series "X & The Single Gargoyle.' I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.





[Brackets such as these surrounding this sentence indicate thought or telepathic transmission]

Dr. Anton Savarius sat in his cell brooding and morose. He always brooded and plotted his revenge against those who put him here. Most of the other inmates ignored him during yard time and meal time. He bored most of them with his wild rants and raves about winged monsters that turned to stone. He seemed obsessed with creatures jabbered incessantly about how they turned to stone, about his great genetic research, his grand schemes to seek justice against the unnatural abominations.

Warden Clive received several complaints from the inmate population about his wild babbling during "lights out" (when prisoners bunk down for the night) about his ceaseless chatter about gargoyles, mutates and other things. As a final result to protect Sevarius' safety, Warden Clive placed him in solitary confinement. He spent his days alone with only reinforced concrete for company.

He now sat in the small, cramped holding cell awaiting transport to the court room. He was to stand trial for the attempted murders of Fox and David Xanatos and the thwarted kidnapping of Alexander Xanatos. The court recently found Anton guilty of six counts of terroristic threats against the Mayor, the police chief, Fox and David Xanatos, Elisa Maza and Peter Maza. Savarius previously endeavored to kidnapped little Alexander to extract some very special DNA from Alexander to use as a genetic polymer for a failing experiment.

Anton Sevarius grew weary of what he called "mealy-mouthed" attorneys who provided him "with insipid, ineffective" counsel. He faced two counts of attempted first degree murder and one count of attempted kidnapping.
He was facing twenty-five years minimum to life inside the walls of Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. Now he waited for his new attorney's arrival.

********

Click.. click.... click..... click were the sharp, staccato sounds that reverberated from the gray tile floor and the pale mint green walls of the prison corridor. Joseph Phillips looked curiously to see from where the sound originated. To his pleasant surprise, his eyes met with a slender woman dressed in a tastefully tailored black and white houndstooth suit. Her vibrant auburn hair coifed perfectly in a chignon at the nape of her neck. His eyes appreciatively wandered downwards as he blatantly stared at the sophisticated woman with Gucci briefcase in hand.

"Hello, Officer..." she paused to read his name tag. "Officer Phillips, I'm here to visit Dr. Anton Savarius."

"I'm sorry, Ma'am. Prisoners in solitary confinement aren't allowed visitors."

"Under the circumstances," She subtly leaned forward so that the delicate gold pendant danced in perfect alignment with the start of her very appealing cleavage. "I'm Mr. Sevarius' new attorney, Vera Mark-Holden."

"Warden said no visitors." Officer Phillips firmly replied.

"I simply wasn't anticipating this; not at all, Officer. You see, I'm running on a very tight schedule and my client has only until five o'clock today to submit an appeal to court." She looked at her watched nervously. Phillips watched as the top of the watched popped open. The elegant redhead seductively leaned farther forward until she was only inches away from the young man sitting across from her. She blew into the top of the watch. A silvery, sparkling substance floated weightlessly for a few seconds, then seemingly danced in midair around the bemused security guard.

"What the Hell?" He sharply exclaimed. As the silver particles landed on his skin, his look of surprise and concern seemed to freeze on his face. The particles settled like flakes of metallic dandruff upon his shoulders. His face became slack and his eyes took on a glazed appearance.

"Now, you're going to let me see Dr. Savarius aren't you?" She asked primly.

"Uh..sure." He replied.

"Will you open the door for me?"

"Duh..sure."

"Thank you, Officer." She replied with saccharine sweetness as he moved stiffly to the side panel pushed the button that opened the door. "By the way, get some sleep."

"Uh, sure." He simply returned to his seat, sat down and fell face forward. A loud snore echoed against the bare walls of the room. Vera Mark-Holden smiled with smug satisfaction.

"Pleasant dreams." She murmured as she walked through the door.

.************

Somehow, "Officer Phillips" made his way from his post to visit prisoner 80010 in his cell. He watched as Savarius eyed him warily. He found grim satisfaction when Officer Phillips shimmered like a mirage before his eyes. He thought himself insane when Officer Phillips vanished and a stunning redhead stood before him.

"Dr. Savarius, I haven't time to exchange pleasantries. Let me get to the point. I'm Vera Mark-Holden and I represent a client very interested in your research and also in your possible release."

"What?" Savarius looked at her as though she had grown third eye. "I don't quite understand."

"Obviously." She remarked. "My client is also a man of science and grand vision. He has kept you under surveillance for almost a decade and found your work quite promising. Your work with a particular minority has brought your research to his attention. He believes that your release from here would benefit he and you immensely."

"Really? But, you'll pardon me Ms. Holden if you find me somewhat skeptical." Anton said. "Why now? He could have approached me at any time."

"It was neither prudent nor convenient for my client to interact with you in any fashion." She replied curtly. "Now, he is interested in financing the continuation of your research under his employ. You will work for him and submit all your findings. In return, you shall receive a lab that surpasses the lab you had at Xanatos industries. You'll be provided with an elegant home and a car of prestigious title. You'll receive a monthly salary of $150,000 for your diligence. Any significant breakthroughs will be rewarded with $50,000 bonuses."

"Intriguing."

"Profitable to you is a more accurate description." Vera corrected him. "My client is very interested in furthering your research. He also has a particular appreciation for superior genetics."

"I need time to think about it." Savarius replied.

"I would not think it a difficult decision, Anton." Vera's hazel eyes well-nigh burnt holes into him. "Money, security, a lab in which to play all seem very attractive verses spending your life in the rest of prison cell the size of a closet. I haven't all day. I want a decision now. What shall it be? Creature comforts or.....confinement?"

"I suppose I really don't have a choice." He muttered. "How much does your client know about me?"

"Everything."

"Then your client knows that I seek justice against a particular genetic minority."

"Indeed, that's permissible as long as it doesn't interfere with your primary objective." She explained.

"And what would that be, Ms Holden?"

"Do we a have a deal, do you accept my client's terms?" She asked pointed.

He looked nonchalantly of the walls of his cell letting his eyes follow the lines of the wall. "When I look at this god-forsaken place, I can't really refuse."

"Then we have an agreement?"

"Indeed."

Officer Phillips somehow reappeared. However, he opened the cell door without keys. He quietly escorted prisoner 80010 to the end of the corridor. The corrections officer then pulled out a small communications device that resembled a small, circular broach. Anton gasped when he saw the security officer's eyes glow like twin golden moons. "Mystique here.....we've reached an agreement. Take us out."

"Understood." Come a gravelly voice across the communications device.

There was a flash of light that burst forward which engulfed the officer and the prisoner. It blinded any who might have seen them. They stood immersed in the light. It then became a sliver and then disappeared along with the two.

**********

Anton realized with growing alarm that his vision truly was limited. He tried to hide his mounting fear by masking it with bravado and professionalism.

"I say, Ms. Holden, is it really quite necessary to have be blindfolded?"

"Would you rather I kill you?" She asked.

"Not at all." Somewhat stunned, Anton attempted to backpedal. "Obviously, you've utilized some time of energy transference technology-"

"Teleportation is the more common term --don't try to lose me in meaningless shop talk." She barked. "Don't make this a waste of my time. Why my client even wants your particular services is beyond me. The blindfold is insurance that your double crossing little mind doesn't get any ideas about stealing any of the technology you find here. My client also prefers to keep himself private."

"Discretion is the better part of valor." He suavely retorted. "If your client is so particularly interested in me, then perhaps you had better treat me with a bit more respect."

From nowhere, a resounding right hook sent Anton Savarius sprawling on his posterior. Instead of the perfect, elegant attorney escorting him, there stood a woman with skin the color of dark indigo and blazing auburn hair.

"Oh, wonderful. What is it with my bad run of luck with blue-skinned females with brassy red hair?" He chuckled as he cradled his aching jaw. "You're not going to spout wings and a tail and blame humans for everything are you?"

"Quit babbling." She snapped as she roughly picked him up by the scruff of his collar. "You had best learn, Sevarious, to treat ME with more respect."

Effortlessly she dragged him down the darkened corridor until they stood before two monolithic doors standing about fifteen feet tall. She went to the console at the side of the door and held her hand upwards for a laser scan. A red beam crossed her line of sight as the blue woman stood perfectly still. Anton presumed that his was a retinal scan in progress. Finally he thought he heard the whisper.... "Adrienne."

The doors slid open with a whoosh and a clang.

[A little heavy on the melodrama] Anton thought as he entered a room that was completely dark except for the spotlight shining in the middle of the room.

The blue woman pointed to the spot with a cryptic smile. "Good fortune awaits you...favored one. Or perhaps you are not so fortunate."

[Sod off, you bloody bitch] he thought with disgust as he made his way to the single point of light in the large and seemingly endless room. He brought himself fully erect and attempted some facade of dignity.

"Anton Savarius, I presume." The large voice seemed to come from everywhere in the room. It carried a hint of Continental accent, primarily British. It was deep and undeniably male.

"Correct." What else could he say?

The darkness melted and another point of light was across the room. Standing there was something akin to a giant and a phantom. His hair was short and cropped short and stunningly black. His eyes were without pupils, they shimmer with a cerise radiance. It was his skin that stole away Anton's very breath. His skin was not red, black, brown, or the delicate hue of apricot. It was white, it was snowy, bleached WHITE.

"My God." He whispered at the frightening sight of a black-armored giant standing before him. It seemed that he was wearing a suit of particular body armor. A crimson diamond was the symbol lying upon the breastplate. However, the face was instantly recognizable. Anton Savarius knew that he was standing before one of the great pioneers of Evolutionary scientists....there was Darwin...then there was those whom some considered renegade, monster....."Dr. Nathaniel Essex."

'You've studied your history, I see." He chuckled darkly. "All those years at Eaton and Oxford weren't a waste of my time after all."

"Dr. Essex...then the tales are true." Anton exclaimed excitedly. "You have somehow managed to become immortal and evolve beyond humanity's limitations."

"That is one rendition of the tale...not quite accurate, but, that is neither here nor there." Essex walked forward and laid a hand on Anton's shoulder. "Forgive my friend, Mystique there. She seemed to hit you rather hard. "

He watched as Essex sent Mystique an almost freezing gaze of crimson. Her eyes fell immediately downcast to the floor. "You are dismissed."

She said nothing but turned abruptly around and left rather hurriedly.

"Walk with me." Essex said simply.

"Of course!" Anton could barely contain his excitement about meeting one of the legendary pioneers of modern Genetic research.

"You see, Anton. I've had my eye on you for sometime." Essex seemed almost pleasant instead of sinister. Almost. "I know that you are somewhat familiar with my work regarding Human evolution."

"Yes, Sir! I am. "Answered Anton excitedly.

[What a sniveling twit] Essex surmised of Savarius.

"I've been watching your own finding with a particular species affectionately known as 'Gargoyles.' Your findings have been quite informative."

"They are amazing creatures." Anton replied.

"Very resilient, are they not?"

"Indeed."

"I know of your attempts to fuse Gargoyle and Human DNA with some success." Essex commented. "However, I find that there are flaws and incorrect formulas in your research."

"I know that I can find ways to circumvent them if only I had the proper facilities."

"I'm sure you would." Essex' voice seemed to barely conceal a hint of patronization. "I think that the next step in human evolution may well lie with in the genetic matrix of these fascinating creatures. My research indicates that there are not one, but, several indigenous humanoid species inhabiting the earth for eons."

"I have heard as much from one of my...associates." Anton spat bitterly. "She reminds of the blue-skinned amazon that you had escort me here."

"Enough of this small talk, let's get down to business." Essex said. "You find research for it's sake fascinating. I am seeking research to improve Humanity's lot upon this life. I know of the particular associate of whom you speak. There is more than one humanoid race currently in existence upon this planet...Homo Sapien, Homo Sapien Superior, your Gargoyles, and a fourth race that I have yet to name."

"Really?" Anton's ears almost visibly perked up at the name of an unknown species.

"I believe that your combination of various helixes of DNA were promising in bringing forth the best of Humanity. However, the mistake you made was not allowing the Human DNA strain to remain dominant. Your Gargoyle research is only of use to me in that they are resilient creatures with marvelous anti-aging qualities. I have tried duplicating your results with little success. Most of my subjects have been of little use to me after their conception. They make either nice guard dogs, adequate vivisection subjects, or particularly hideous statues."

"I see."

"Not quite the full extent of my vision, Anton." He smiled at the shorter man. "I wish for you to continue your research. Feel free to use everything I have at your disposal. With my database and your research, we shall continue your work to create the perfect fusion. I shall have Humanity's next step in evolution. We shall finally be recognized for our scientific contributions."

"We'll share the credit?" Anton asked eagerly. [My god! To share credit with one of the greatest geneticists of all time...]

"Of course."

"Then you have your man, Dr. Essex." He replied.

"I'm glad that we understand one another."

"Then let us discuss how we are going to make this come about....." And the two men continued talking enthusiastically about how to bring their grand vision into manifestation.

*******

Elisa smiled with satisfaction as she found the package from "All Yours" Romance Novels. Almost three years prior, she had found the service online that published personalized romance novels based upon the information provided them by customers. Curious, she had filled out the order form online and sent it over a secured browser. Now, in her hands, she knew that this package the second installment in her monthly order. She recently reread the very first novel she had received, "For The Love Of Goliath." Because of that book, she and Goliath let their relationship go to the next level. That eventually lead to a life-bonding, a wedding, a honeymoon, and a son named Darius Peter Goliath-Maza.

Since that first innocent, impulsive kiss with Goliath, Elisa's relationship with the Gargoyle remained unrequited and unconsummated for the longest time. The unexpected jump-start provided by the book, "For The Love of Goliath," allowed their relationship to blossom into something precious and wonderful. Her nights with her lavender lover included flights over the city, walks in the park, ice cream, literature, and philosophical discussions.

Her week with Goliath had been a full one. It consisted of Broadway shows (from the rafters), an opera, and renting romantic movies from the rental place down the block. She found Goliath crying shamelessly at the end of 'Ghost.' She found it amusing that he severely chastised the silver-haired leading man in 'Pretty Woman.'

It had matured into residence at the castle, a beautiful baby boy (with a little help from a certain blue acquaintance of Xanatos' whom she had yet to meet).. Goliath had learned to interact with the world through the Internet. Darius Maza crawled at top speed on the castle floor and giggled happily as his larger-than-life father adopted the human custom of fatherhood. Elisa thought that such a life with Goliath was impossible.

Now, she enjoyed each moment life gave her. She lived for each night with Goliath and her son as the awoke from their stone sleep. More than once, she wondered if they would ever be able to stay awake and see a sunrise or feel it upon their backs. With that, she returned her melancholy thoughts to her Romance novel.

A few hours later, Goliath finished his patrol and landed softly on Elisa's balcony. She saw his shadows drifting softly along the mutely lit wall. She watched in awe as his wings unfurled briefly their entire span then folded around his massive frame as if they were a large, flowing cloak.

"Elisa?" He called softly as he rapped on the glass French doors.

"Yeah, Big Guy. I'm here. One minute." She rushed toward the doors as fast as her feet permitted. Earlier that evening, she had laid aside her book long enough to pick up her apartment and don something a bit more feminine than blue jeans, tee-shirt, and leather bomber jacket.

She stopped as his eyes caught hers through the glass. She stayed her hands on the latch of the doors. "Hmmmmm...should I or shouldn't I let you in?" She teased.

She watched Goliath's tail flick anxiously in anticipation as she flirtatiously licked her lips. She hated to admit it, but, she enjoyed watching the Big Guy squirm once in a while.

"Elisa...." He growled ominously.

"Don't get your tail in a twist." She laughed as she unlatched the doors. Her large brown eyes sparkled with mischief as they met his solemn gaze.

That tail was still lashing back and forth. She also noticed that his hands mysteriously hidden from view. She raised her gently arched eyebrows and asked the question, "What's behind your back, Big Guy?"

"Uh, well.... I.." He stammered. Goliath NEVER stammered. His next words came out in an awkward rush. "I brought you these." He immediately produced of freshly cut wildflowers.

"Goliath!" Elisa found herself sweetly surprised by his romantic display. She stood on her tiptoes and planted a big kiss on his cheek. "They're lovely. Let me put them in water."

As she walked away from him with the flowers in her hands, Goliath found himself appreciating the view she presented. The white lace shirt and simple blue peasant skirt both accentuated the color of her dark skin and emphasized the curves of her figure.

A minute later, Elisa returned with a crystal vase full of flowers and water. "They have a new home."

Goliath and Elisa watched a movie recommended to them by Owen called "What Dreams May Come." It turned out that Owen was an avid Robin Williams fan. Sharing a bag of microwave popcorn, the couple remained snuggled against each other in the overstuffed sofa throughout the movie.

Goliath fought the urge to unbutton her blouse and kiss her swelling breasts just above the lace trim of her wispy white bra. When he had found a minute alone the previous evening, he succumbed to his touch as Elisa haunted his thoughts. He had thought about her long black hair, her gentle smile, those loving, luminous brown eyes.

[Large cinnamon and amber eyes burning with flecks of molten copper and sparks of bronze] Goliath found himself smiling at her memory as it warmed his heart and his loins. His roar of passion had awakened the Xanatos' sleeping quite soundly in the chamber in the floor just above him. A rather unbelievable tale about catching his tail in the door sent the Xanatos' back to bed.

As the movie went on, Goliath watched the walls of isolation melt around his sweet Elisa. Her dauntless demeanor softened with her sincere smile. Her bravado vanished. She stood in awe of her feminine power over the huge Gargoyle. She said little throughout the movie, but, her scent let Goliath know that her attention was on him exclusively and not Robin Williams.

"My mate and my wife," He purred as he nuzzled her neck. "Has it truly been two years?"

"To the day." Elisa replied. "We have the apartment all to ourselves. Fox and Xanatos are looking after Darius. I don't have the Mutant Security Measures seminar until tomorrow. I say we enjoy ourselves."

"I couldn't agree with you more." He replied with a rumble coming from deep in his chest. With that, Goliath came over her and embraced her with love, arms, and wings.

With tail, fangs, and body, Goliath spent the next hour showing his mate just how much he adored her. With her touches and kisses, Elisa let Goliath know that she found him perfect as husband, mate, and lover. His roar woke up the people on the floor below them...but, that's another story. (WINK)

They lay snuggled warmly in each other's warm embrace.

"I won't see you tomorrow?" He asked with a hint of sadness in his voice. "Because of this...seminar?"

"Unfortunately." Elisa replied as sleep tugged at her consciousness. "I'm sorry."

"What are Mutant Security Measures?" Goliath asked repeating the phrase his wife used earlier.

"Mutants....Homo Sapien Superior...basically humans that have powers, abilities and appearances that are not considered the norm. Some say that they're the next step in evolution...some consider them freaks....some consider them....a threat to humanity."

"Are they?"

"I don't know. I've never met one." She admitted. "People say Gargoyles are a threat to Humanity. Demona is...the rest of you aren't."

"True, so you think the same of mutants?" He asked.

"For the most part, yeah." Elisa replied. "Anyway, this seminar's being held at the Xavier Institute For Higher Learning out in Westchester County by some geneticist named Hank McCoy. He's an acquaintance of Xanatos. Supposedly, he helped make Darius with his research. The other lecturer is the host of the Seminar, Professor Charles Xavier. Anyway, they also have the Warden from Ryker Island Prison coming to speak. He is one of the premier authorities on Mutant security measures. I figured with everything going on in the city with the Quarrymen and the Friends of Humanity merging...it might be well worth checking out."

"I concur." Goliath nodded gravely. "However, I shall count each minute until you return to my arms, Elisa."

"You always were a poet, Goliath."

His expression of melancholy played and tugged at her heartstrings. How she wanted to forget that class and spend tomorrow evening with her husband. For so long , she had dreamt of being cherished by a man with character, integrity, and passion. Instead, she was adored and worshipped by a large lavender leviathan named Goliath. When she looked at him, she saw not the ugliness that ignorant humans saw in Gargoyles. She saw a resounding beauty of character and an exotic handsomeness. With unfurled wings, lavender skin, long thick sable hair, and a massive muscled physique, Goliath was alien and captivating all at once.

Elisa knew that he never saw her as plain. He saw beyond the lack of wings and tail and appreciated her for the person she was.

Goliath brought his colossal hand upwards to gently caress her cheek. The feather-light brush of his knuckles against her sensitive skin sent ripples of delight through her. Elisa unconsciously turned her cheek into his engaging touch. She felt herself blush as she reveled in the pleasure of his hand upon her skin. [We just finished making love and I want him again?! Call me Barbarella.]

Goliath watched her cheeks take on a flushed pink hue. He knew that she felt the same Epicurean sensations that he had experienced. He saw her as a wild butterfly; unfettered and free to fly about and show her beauty. Elisa seemed deceptively fragile like a butterfly. Goliath knew far better. He also knew that she wasn't meant for selfish passion or rough mounting. Oh, he wanted her fiercely! This was a time of gentleness, not greed. Each moment together was precious because of her recent transfer from the Gargoyle Task Force to the Department of Mutant/ Human Affairs.

An inspiration came to Goliath. It was a practical and clever idea to spend some time with his wife. "Let me take you to class."

"Goliath, you can't. Westchester is forty miles from here and it starts at eight and runs until eleven tomorrow night."

"I'll find a way to meet you there afterwards and we'll glide back together." He responded.

"You don't have that kind of stamina." Elisa countered.

"Oh, really?" He growled as his prehensile tail snaked playfully along her inner thigh.

"Okay, Big Guy. Point taken." Elisa shivered as his tail found it's way to that certain spot that he only needed to caress for a moment or two. Then, she would begin roaring almost as loud as he.

"I'll bring you back one way or another and I'll ravish you."

"Goliath, I'll have to study my notes so that I can take the final exam."

"I'll help you study over a great cappuccino." He smiled.

"I'll be home late."

"I can wait." He persistently argued.

Elisa shook her head in joyful disbelief at her husband's tenacity. He wanted to be with her. It warmed her heart. She felt a rigid heat press insistently against the length of her thigh. She looked down wryly at it and then returned her skeptical gaze to her husband.

"Can you now?" Elisa asked pointedly.

"Uh...well." [Okay, Big Guy. Blush away.] She loved watching his chiseled cheeks of lavender become dark with a dark plum stain of embarrassment. Quite frankly, My Dear, I want nothing more than to ..."He continued to whisper dark, erotic four -lettered words and graphic descriptions into her ear.

"Don't wait until then." Elisa said softly.

"I won't." Goliath pulled her to him and proceeded to lovingly act on his words.

********

Vera later escorted Anton to his sleeping accommodations. He looked at the woman standing before him with new eyes. Contempt and unadmitted fear mingled freely when he thought of the frigid woman beside him.

"I presume that Dr. Essex has informed you of his expectations." She said coldly.

"Indeed." He replied cryptically. If these facilities were indicative of Essex's true resources, Anton was in a state of unadulterated bliss. Now, he could continue his research unencumbered by limitations. There was only one annoyance standing in front of him. He made mental notes of suitable humiliations for Vera Mark-Holden; blue bitch extraordinare.

"Let us get one thing clear, Sevarius. You report to me. Dr. Essex had paid you the courtesy of conversing with you personally. From this point on, if you want clearance or even permission to scratch your ass backwards, you ask me." Her prim, crisp tones caused Anton inwardly cringe. She reminded him of a teacher with whom he had been infatuated.

"I see."

"This evening is a prime opportunity to make our strike. There is a Mutant Security Measures seminar at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. Myself, an associate, and you will be attending in cognito. My sources tell me that Detective Elisa Maza shall be in attendance."

"Detective Maza?" He momentarily lost his intense hatred for Vera and felt gleeful anticipation at the mention of once certain law enforcement officer. "How does she tie into all of this?"

"She is one of the few specimens on the planet that has been artificially altered DNA. It is Dr. Essex's theory that her DNA contains certain genetic signatures which will more easily allow for genetic alteration and hybridization. It should hold a multiple genetic codes that will add an additional matrix to the the Doctor's extensive genetic database. If her DNA has been altered as theorized, her genetic coding will be the basis for Dr. Essex's newest research."

"And what would that be?" If the room had been dark, Anton's interest would have lit the room several times over.

"Dr. Essex intends to create the perfect being adept for survival." She said proudly. "The subject, ideally, will have both offensive and defensive capabilities. It will be a genetically engineered organism with enhanced senses, specialized abilities to make it the ultimate predator and soldier. Cognitive and cerebral development will be extensive; hopefully resulting in vast psionic manifestation.

"And he thinks that he will find the answer for this in Ms. Maza's DNA?"

"Yes. Considering her service record and her personal life, Elisa Maza is clever, resourceful, and physically gifted. With certain Gargoyle traits inherent to her uniquely genetic infrastructure, she is the most genetically viable source subject." Vera stared coldly at Anton. "Combining her particular DNA with the X chromosome will result in a being physiologically, psionically and intellectually superior to any specimen that has ever lived."

"X chromosome?" Anton was shocked. "Do you mean the nefarious 'mutant gene'?"

"The very same." Vera replied. "Grafted to one another. Gargoyle DNA with a human helix and the X chromosome will produce one of the most powerful beings ever to walk the planet."

"I like it." Anton thought of the endless possibilities for experimentation. "However, if the subject resulting from this genetic manipulation is so powerful..... how does Dr. Essex propose to keep it under control?"

"Ahh...that's the beauty of it." Vera gave him a dazzling smile. [Damnation! Why does she have to be so lovely?]

"Each amino acid introduced to the helix will contain a chemical program designed to subliminally educate the subject. It will learn only what Dr. Essex wishes it to learn. It will know Dr. Essex as Father and Master. It will be the hand-wrought creation of a brilliant mind. It will also be a humble and obedient servant."

"But Ms. Maza's DNA must be the groundwork for the rest of this genetic structuring?"

"Indeed."

"Won't one sample be enough?" Anton asked.

"Dr. Essex finds Detective Maza intriguing." Vera seemingly said the words through gritted teeth. "He has his own agenda regarding her."

"Sounds rather sinister." He muttered.

"Very much so."

"What time do we arrive at the Xavier Institute?" He asked eagerly.
********

The next evening was an exciting one for Elisa. She missed meeting Goliath and the rest of the clan when they awoke. Yet, she was positively ecstatic about meeting one of the world's most famous mutants, Dr. Hank McCoy.

She drove along the road until she arrive to 1701 Graymalkin Lane in Salem New York. She parked alongside the road with the dozens of other vehicles. She made her way to the front gate.

She surveyed the scenery of the ivy league campus. She appreciated the gentle scenery of gentle hills and wooded meadows surrounding the school. She admired the clean cut lines of Dutch architecture that gave the mansion it's unique Dutch Colonial flavor. [So, this is how the other half is educated...] she mused.

A young woman stood on the front porch dressed in a blue blazer that bore the school's emblem of a bold gold and azure seal of an x. Elisa guessed the young woman to be perhaps in her late teens or early twenties. With medium brown hair and eyes, she seemed to discredit the stereotype of a preppy, affluent ivy league student.

"Hi, I'm Elisa Maza." She stated to the young woman.

"Do you have an invitation, Ma'am?"

"Yes, I do." Elisa retrieved the requested document from inside her jacket pocket and presented it to the young woman.

The young woman briefly scanned the invitation and smiled warmly at the Detective. "Everything seems to be in order, Ms. Maza. I'm Katherine Pryde and I am one of your hosts this evening. We hope that you enjoy this weekend's seminar. Please go on ahead to the registration table."

"Thanks. Where would that be?" Elisa asked.

Katherine pointed through the large wooden door. "Go through the door and into the waiting room. There is a table there and one of the students there will see to your registration."

"Thanks again."

"Anytime, Ms. Maza." She replied warmly.

Elisa proceeded as directed and made her way to the registration table where a young woman she spotted a woman with the most unusual hair. It was a glossy chestnut hue that stood in stark contrast to the white streak that ran through it.

"Hi, I'm Elisa Maza." She leaned forward to read the young woman's nametag. It read, "Rogue." [What kind of name is Rogue?]

Rogue carefully thumbed through several manila envelopes until she ran across one with Elisa's name emblazoned across it in bold black magic marker.

"Here ya go, Ma'am. This'll have the schedule fo' the weekend and the list of all the activities. Your room is in the west wing on the third floor, first door on your right." Rogue handed Elisa her registration materials.

"Great."

"If ya need anything, you sure let me know and we'll take good care of you." Elisa secretly envied those perfect white teeth Rogue flashed her a warm smile. "Ororo should be back any minute. She's one of the instructors here and she can take ya to your room."

"That would be great." Elisa felt the day's long and active schedule beginning to catch up with her tired body. Nothing sounded so good at that moment as a hot shower, a warm meal, and a comfortable bed.

She looked around the vestibule. The house was very Dutch Colonial decor. Elisa marveled at the intricate wood trim along the top of the wall. She noticed that the floor tile in the small room was Italian marble. There was an oil painting hanging in the wall across from the coat tree. The foyer along almost scream "class!" She sat down in one of the oak carved chairs. {I feel just like Cinderella that lost her drawers at the ball.}

"Ms. Maza?" A deep contralto voice addressed the young woman. Elisa turned in the direction of the sound and found a tall, statuesque woman only a few feet from her. The woman was of African origin. That didn't seem so unusual. However, the long straight mane of silver and those pale blue eyes caused Elisa to do a double take. Never had she seen such striking coloring. Part of Elisa wanted to shrink and hid under the carpet.

"I'm Ororo Monroe. Welcome to the Xavier Institute."

"Thanks." Elisa replied. Her voice carried a regal lilt not unlike Goliath's.

"I hope that you'll find everything to your satisfaction while you are with us."

"Everyone's been very kind and helpful."

"Please follow me and I'll show you to your room." The tall Nubian beauty seemed to glide along the floor as she led Elisa up a gently spiraling stairwell. Elisa kept her luggage next to her and followed Ororo down the long corridor on the third floor.

They stopped in front of a white door. Ororo opened the door and led Elisa inside. It was a room with pastel yellow walls. The curtains were white French lace and they added an air of Spring and freshness to the otherwise stuffy, staid environment of the school.

"Thank you so much." Elisa smiled at the other woman. "This is wonderful."

"Very good, then." Ororo gave her a polite nod. "If you should need anything, I'll be in the room down the hall should you need anything."

Ororo left Elisa to her own devices. Elisa took stock of the situation. The first seminar was at in one hour.
[I have just enough time for a short nap, a quick shower, and a quick bite to eat. Yuck....it smells like stale cigars in here.] She decided to wash away the grime and stress of the day with a long, hot shower.

With that, Elisa allowed herself the rare luxury of relaxation as she began to run the water for her shower. She smiled when she noticed yellow towels lying neatly folded over the towel bar. She found a vase of fresh wild flowers giving the bathroom a light, airy floral fragrance. She appreciated the bath items in the little white wicker basket on the sink.

*****

Logan watched from the trellis outside the woman's window. Damn. Mystique was right. Elisa Maza bore an uncanny resemblance to his late wife, Jaye. It wasn't hard to believe that these two were related. He lept deftly from the terrace and crushed the last of burning nub hanging in his mouth. With that black hair and those wide eyes, they were almost twins.

Almost.

Maza didn't have the verdant green eyes of his former wife. Her skin was much darker that that of his late spouse.
She had been lightly olive while Maza had a complexion of tanned bronze. His soul mate had been taller and more muscular. Maza was maybe 5'5 and 115 pounds soaking wet. Yet, he knew that her DNA held the key to his wife's resurrection. Damn it, he'd do what it took to have his Sunshine beside him again and in his arm.

"What do you think?" A feminine voice came from the darkness.

"Yer right...they're close. I just wanna know...what's the connection between Elisa Maza and my dead wife?"

"Does it matter as long as your wife and my daughter are returned to us?" The woman cut him to shreds with her shrewd remark.

"Tell me anyway, Mystique." Logan growled. "I'm makin' a deal with the devil by helping you turn her over to Sinister. That was the agreement. I give you Maza. You give me back my wife. I wanna know the connection."

"Fine, I'll keep it simple so that your animal mind can grasp the basic concept." Mystique groaned. "Elisa Maza and my daughter share a rare genetic condition. Both carry a rare gene that has been altered by Magick. However, to find the exact Mitochondria DNA to duplicate it has been almost impossible until now. With enough samples from Detective Maza, Dr. Essex can use that to reconnect the decomposed DNA of my daughter to reconstitute her genetic structure."

"You won't kill Maza, right?" He asked. Mystique smiled in the darkness as she heard the tone of urgency in his voice.

"No, my savage son-in-law. I'll make sure of that. It isn't profitable and it would be unnecessary." She paused for a moment then said in a low, broken whisper. "Jessica would not have wanted it to be that way. She abhorred the taking of innocent light. I will not have her be reborn by what she would consider an abomination."

"Now, when do I deliver Maza?" Logan coughed. The pain of thinking about the sweetness of his late wife sliced through his heart and felt like salt on a raw soul.

"Tonight, during the lecture. Sabortooth and I will provide the distraction. You apprehend the detective and bring her to the rendezvous point. We'll then proceed to the complex and the procedure will commence. After that, you and Ms. Maza will be returned by morning and no one will be the wiser. When Jessica returns with you, simply state that she contrived her own death to eliminate further interest in the X-Men by the Friends of Humanity."

"You make it sound so easy." Logan growled.

"It is if you do as you're told. Do it and nobody gets hurts. All will be well." Mystique assured him. She laid a hand on Logan's trembling shoulder. "I know you loved her. You know I loved my daughter. Tonight we are friends. You will find no enemy in me tonight. Save that for another day."

The shivering form of Logan found the comforting arms of a friend named Ravyn Darkholme. For moments, she held him as the tortured man also known as Wolverine let his tortured soul find cleaning in the tears he shed for his Sunshine, Jessica Jayde Morgan. For those few minutes in time, Wolverine and Mystique were family.

He finally pulled away from her. He turned his back to her and he wiped his eyes. He took several deep breaths to gain his shaken composure. He turned to find that the indigo-skinned woman shimmer like a desert mirage. He watched in mute fascination as her dark skinned seemed to melt away into the darkness of the night. Within a few seconds, a perfectly coifed woman with a peaches-and-cream complexion stood across from him. She straightened her business suit and brushed a stray tendril of hair away from her face.

"Vera Mark-Holden of the New York State Attorney General's office has to attend a conference and can't afford to be late." She gave him a wink and a sly smile. "See you later, 'Gater."

*****

"And so, by forming a Mutant/ Human coalition at the national level. I believe that we can better prevent a rise in crimes committed by Mutants if we encourage open dialogue and understanding between our two peoples." Dr. Hank McCoy said in his final statements.

Elisa had found Hank's speech captivating and inspiring. In a world with few heroes and little hope, he provided a ray of light in what she had thought had been a hopeless situation. She found herself clapping enthusiastically as the crowd rose to it's feet in unison.

A shatter of glass came from the left and showered the crowd. There was an audible gasp from the crowd as shards rained on them. Elisa reached inside her blazer for her sidearm when she felt a strong grip grab her from behind. She tried to scream but felt a hand cover her mouth with a cloth soaked in a strong-smelling substance. Elisa tried to free herself by elbowing her assailant in the ribs.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, she realized no one was noticing her predicament because of the two well-known mutant criminals attacking innocent bystanders in the front of the lecture hall. She watched as a man with long flowing blonde hair lifted a well-known police captain by the throat. She immediately recognized the madman as Sabortooth. He tossed the police captain aside as though he were little more than a sack of feathers.

"Okay, Princess." A gravelly voice cut into her dim reverie as she struggled against the ether. "You go to sleep and don't give me any trouble. By morning, you'll be snug in your bed safe and sound and no one gets hurt."

She struggled feebly as the potent anesthetic overpowered her will. As she slipped into the darkness, she thought she felt herself being flung over her assailant's shoulder. "Pleasant dreams, Frail."

*****

Matt Bluestone ran through the lobby of the Eeryie building at top speed. He sped past the security guard and bolted toward the elevator. His lungs burned inside his chest as he frantically pushed buttons to get the damned elevator to open.

"Come on, you piece of shit!" He slammed his fist into the metal doors. "COME ON!"

Without any dents, the doors finally opened. He stepped inside and prayed to God that the he could make it to the Gargoyles in time. The elevator seemed to be weighed down by an invisible force that prevented it's quick ascent to the castle entrance. Floor by floor, the elevator inched upwards until he finally heard that long-awaited "ding."

As the doors opened, he flew through them and successfully tackled Owen Burnett. Matt jumped to his feet and hastily offered his hand to aid the downed man to stand upright.

"Owen, listen! Round up Goliath and the others! There was an attack at the Xavier Institute tonight by two mutants, Mystique and Sabortooth."

"Isn't that where Detective Maza was attending a Mutant Security Measures seminar?"

"One and the same. Anyway, some dark-haired guy according to eye-witness accounts honed in on Elisa during the chaos and abducted her. We gotta find her. It was also rumored that some of the X-Men were there as well?"

"The renegade group of mutant outlaws?" Owen asked carefully.

"Anyway, one of their people contacted ours and now the whole department's on the warpath. We gotta get up there before something bad goes down."

"I'll alert the others at once." Owen said with his usual unemotional crispness.

*****

Within fifteen minutes, David Xanatos, Goliath and the other Gargoyles stood in a circle in the middle of the castle court yard. Matt had briefed them all on the turn of events that had occurred at the Xavier Institute only a few hours before.

"Has there been a claim of responsibility?" David asked tersely. "A ransom demand?"

"Nothing. Nada." Matt replied. "We identified two criminals...here are their pictures." Matt allowed the two photos to be passed around. "The blue-skinned lady is named Raven Darkholme. Anyway, it's the alias she uses most. Her other alias is Mystique. She's a shapeshifter."

"She is of the fae?" Goliath asked with widened eyes.

"Fae? I don't think so. I couldn't care less what her orientation is. She's a mutant." Matt answered.

"No, Bluestone. Goliath wants to know if she if is a fairy?" David corrected him.

"That's your department, no mine. As far as I know, she's a mutant."

"And a shapeshifter?"

"Yep. She can assume anyone's forms right down to their voice and their smell...hell, she can even do retinal scans and finger prints."

"Then how do we track this woman?" Hudson asked. "She sounds as though she is harder to catch than the wind."

"She has been too." Matt laughed. "Until now." He held up something that looked akin to a cellular phone. He flipped it open and pushed a button. The others watched intently as he scanned the area of the castle and a light flashed red.

"What is that device?" Lex asked eyes wide with interest. "May I see it?"

"You bet." Matt handed it to him. "It is a DNA sequencer and analyzer. It's basically a genetic bloodhound. The one thing Mystique can't alter is her DNA and we've gotten a sample from the party. One of our guys managed to find a red hair that came from her in the bustle of the chaos. We've got a lead, gentlemen."

"And where she is you think that Elisa will be also?" Goliath asked with hope in his voice.

"You got it." Matt smiled. "They left McCoy alone. The left Professor Xavier alone. The only person harmed or abducted was Detective Elisa Marie Maza."

"Whose the second guy?" Brooklyn stared hard at the picture of the man with the think long blonde hair. He had thick, heavy side burns and a dark gold mustache and goatee. His eyes glittered green like emeralds in the color photo.

"Victor James Creed better known as Sabortooth. Another mutant with murderous psychopathic proclivities. He's the deadly one with a kill record and a rap sheet a mile long. Has regenerative properties. You pop him and he heals right up and keeps on comin.' Has heightened senses and superior agility and strength. He's on par with you guys." Matt let out a sigh. "He's the one you have to worry about."

"He's a natural born hunter, isn't he, lad?" Hudson asked gravely. "He lives for the pleasure of the kill."

"He does, I won't deny it. He'll make Demona look like a walk in the park." Matt admitted. He pulled out a third picture from his trenchcoat and passed it around the circle. "This is the guy we can't identify. We searched through our entire data base. This photo was caught by a publicity photographer at the seminar."

David Xanatos studied intently the man in the photograph that had Elisa slung over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. He saw the wild, unruly mane of black hair. He noticed the guy also had sideburns that seemed unusual for the day and age. He was a short man, perhaps 5'4" or 5'5." Yet, he had the look and build of a soldier and a seasoned warrior.

"All we can get on him was that someone saw him earlier that day and called him Logan." Matt sighed. "No background, no prints, nothing. It's like this guy doesn't even exist."

"He is the one that kidnapped my Elisa." Goliath growled and eyes blazing enraged blinding light. "He shall be the one made to pay."

"How are we gonna get from here to there? We only have until sunrise?" Angela asked. "What if Elisa has been hurt...or worse?"

"We must hope for the best, my daughter." Goliath put a reassuring arm on his daughter's shoulder. "Elisa is a survivor. We will find her well."

A loud roar erupted from the side of the building along with a powerful wind. They all turned in that direction to see Owen piloting a helicopter bearing the logo of Xanatos Industries. David donned the helmet of his exo-skeleton. "Well, our chariot awaits."

"Indeed it does." Goliath said darkly. They boarded the helicopter. As they took their places, Goliath prayed to the Wise Dragon of the stars to guide them in their quest and bring back Elisa alive and well.

*****

The world buzzed and hummed around her ears in a series of loud, harsh sounds. Elisa tried to shake her head but found that it was unable to move. She felt something cold and metallic running across her forehead. She tried to raise her hand to feel what it was but she found that she was unable to do so. She was able to look downwards and saw her wrists shackled on each side to a steel table. She tried to move and found the same true for her waist, thighs, and ankles.

"Where am I? What the hell is going on?" She screamed angrily.

"Ah, Ms. Maza," A deep voice purred in the darkness. She knew at once that it was not Goliath. "I see that you are awake."

"What the fuck is going on?" She screamed. "Let me go."

"Not quite yet, I'm afraid." The tall man with the frighteningly white skin sadly replied. "You see, we haven't quite extracted enough of your precious DNA to have a pure sample. We need just to process you for a few more hours."

"What the hell are you talking about? Who the fuck are you?" She hissed.

"I am Dr. Nathaniel Essex, research geneticist and scientist." He gallantly bowed. "I have two projects going on that both have to do with you. To put it simply, you have been a Gargoyle and have resumed your humanity. That particular exploit has left a unique genetic signature upon your DNA. I want that signature so that I can utilize it in my research to bring Humanity to the next level in evolution."

"You son-of-a-bitch! You'll never get away with this!"

"I already have and I already am, Ms. Maza." He smirked. "So, I suggest that you just lay back and enjoy the ride."

Raven in her bold, blue and beautiful physique approached her master. "Sir, the remains of my daughter have been prepped and are now ready for further processing."

"Yes, of course." He smiled condescendingly at his favorite henchwoman. "Anton, do we have enough sample extracted from Ms. Maza to proceed with the first procedure?"

"Yes, Dr. Essex, we do!" Anton said excitedly as he stepped into the light.

Elisa saw Anton Sevarius as he stepped into the light. "You! You're supposed to be in prison."

"I was, Detective Maza, until Vera Mark-Holden alias Raven Darkholme, sought me out and freed me. Now, I get to participate in one of the greatest procedures ever performed. We use living altered DNA with that of a decomposing specimen and with the proper amounts of radiation and chemical treatment and mononucleic acids-"

"Have you ever seen Frankenstein?" Raven interrupted Anton's gleeful ranting. "Basically, you're DNA has the ability to be combined with my deceased daughter's. It should stimulate her own metamorphic mutant abilities. She has the ability to absorb the life essence of others through emotion. This is one method that may restore her to life."

"You're going to kill me, aren't you?" Elisa spoke in a low tone.

"Not if I have my way about it." Raven whispered. "I only want my daughter back, not your blood on my hands. Just cooperate and you'll be released by morning."

"Anton, move our subject into sitting position so that she can have a ringside seat for this wondrous occasion." Essex told him. "Ms. Maza, because of you, you make have propelled Humanity into the future by one hundred thousand years."

"Let us begin." Anton said as though he were in a cathedral at a sacred sacrament. The table that Elisa laid upon began to move slowly and carefully to situate her into an upright position. In her weakened, disoriented condition she had trouble focusing on the images in front of her.

She watched in mute horror as the sheet was removed to reveal what seemed like a stature carved entirely of polished emerald. Anton sensed her morbid curiosity and pushed her chair/ table forward so that she could have a better view. She glared at him and let loose with a string of curses that caused him to slap her harshly across the cheek.

"You had best quiet yourself, woman, or I shall take the extreme pleasure in sewing your mouth shut." He murmured ominously in her ear.

"And I think you had best back off her, Sevarius or you'll find my shoe so far up your ass that you'll develop a foot fetish." Raven said nonchalantly in his ear. "We don't have time for your perverse pleasures."

"Ah, when did you die and become a Saint?"

"Don't tempt me into killing you." She hissed.

"It begins." Essex replied. They all turned to watched the golden extract from Elisa Maza be placed into a small hole in the arm of the emerald statue.

"I thought you said she was dead?" Elisa whispered to Raven.

"She is. This is the form she took when she died." She said with a hint of sadness. "It is the way of her kind."

"Like you?"

"No, her DNA is laced with something that I don't know anything about. She was taken from me at a young age. She died too soon and now I want my daughter back."

They watched as each golden drop flowed slowly from the bag through the tube and into the hole located on the statue's arm. Elisa fought the beckoning darkness to watch as the procedure progressed. [Goliath, Darius....I'll make it home.]

"Raven, hit the switches." Anton rubbed his hand in unadulterated glee.

The golden liquid drained slowly into the emerald sarcophagus. Elisa watched as the deep verdant hue of the corundum carapace began to sparkle and glow with a bright celadon luminescence. The glow encased the entire form and pulsed and hummed with a deep resonance. It reminded Elisa vaguely of Buddhist monks and the sounds they made during morning prayer.

The electrodes connected to the statue were hooked up to large generators against the left wall. As Mystique flipped the switches, their ominous hum filled the laboratory. Crackles of lightning danced between the two transponders. It flowed like mercury along the wires that ran between the generators and the electrodes. The room filled with the sweet, heavy stench of ozone.

*****

The chopper landed in the back yard of the Xavier Institute. Goliath and the others quickly alighted from the chopper to the ground. They were greeted by a tall young man in his middle twenties. He stood tall and proud. He had the mark of assurance and leadership about him. Goliath thought it odd that he would wear sunglasses late at night.

"Are you the one they call Goliath?" The voice asked.

"I am. You are.... Cyclops?" Goliath tried to remember all the codenames given to him by Detective Bluestone during their briefing while traveling to the Xavier Institute.

"Yes, Sir." Cyclops readily offered his hand. Goliath took it firmly in his taloned hand and shook it as was the custom of greeting amongst humans.

"And this is David Xanatos." Goliath introduced the young man to the multi-billionaire.

"Xanatos." He gave an acknowledging nod.

"Cyclops."

"What's the rundown on the situation?" David asked.

"One of our own is also missing. The remains of one of our teammates is missing." Cyclops explained. "One of our comrades was killed last year in a battle against one of Apocalypse's four horsemen."

"Who is Apocalypse?" Asked Goliath becoming more confused by the moment.

"Let's just say he isn't a nice person." Cyclops replied. "Anyway, her name was Jaye Morgan. When she was killed, she became stone...something akin to Emerald. It's a substance harder than anything we know of. It has a higher rating than titanium and adamantium. We call it Kiarinite (Kee-Are-Ree-night).

"Kiarinite?" Owen asked sharply with renewed interest. "Is the keyword 'Kiari?"

"Yeah, as a matter of fact, it is." Cyclops said slowly. "It comes from the Gaelic word Kiang meaning "troubling or meddlesome." It's supposedly a stone found only in -"

"Fairy circles." Owen answered for Cyclops. "It is legend that those stone are the remains of the very first Fae to walk the Earth."

"You know your Celtic legends." Cyclops was clearly impressed. "Jaye was a descendant of a Kiari. With Sinister's genetic splicing- he created a human/ Kiari hybrid. We think that the theft of her remains is tied in with Elisa Maza's abduction because of two people; Mystique and Logan."

"Logan?" Goliath growled. "He abducted my wife."

"We know." Cyclops replied with clear remorse and regret. "We can't find him. We think that there must be some connection but we haven't figured it out."

"We need to quit talking and start working." Bluestone curtly reminded them. "We don't have much time to save Elisa. We a genetic analyzer. Mind if we use it on the crime scene?"

"Feel free. Follow me." The young man led them through the vestibule and through the great dining hall . Eventually, they ended up in a large room that also served as their main lecture hall.

After a few minutes of preliminary scanning, there was a frantic beeping from the scanner. "Eureka! We have a lock and a trace on Darkholme's DNA. C'Mon."

Goliath picked up Matt Bluestone and Xanatos' did the same for Cyclops. They flew off into the night following the overland trail of Raven Darkholme.

[My Love, we are coming.] Goliath thought as they sped toward where his wife was being held. He looked at the large orb in the sky watching over them. They had only a few hours before sunrise. He prayed that she would be safe in his arms before he met the first rays of the sun.

******

Within the hour, they found the hot trail led to a familiar property not far from Xanatos' upstate retreat, Xanadu. Subsequently, it was an adjacent property that Xanatos realized to be owned by none other than Dr. Anton Sevarius.

"This isn't good." He muttered.

"What do you mean?" Cyclops asked with concern.

"If Sevarius is involved...then Elisa is surely at risk. He harbors a grudge against the detective."

They flew on in silence. The feeling of dread grew with each moment when Xanatos saw the lights of the mansion were brightly lit and shining into the night. He had been here several times with the Mutates and the Gargoyles when Sevarius had worked for him. The feeling churning in the pit of his stomach was one of inevitable foreboding.

He looked over at his fellow warrior, Goliath. Goliath's stony gaze staring back at him made David realized that Goliath had drawn the same conclusion. David knew that Goliath never would display his fear. The situation had traveled from bad to worse in a matter of seconds.

"The signal's getting stronger." Bluestone exclaimed as they neared the house. "It's coming from the house."

"It's probably coming from the basement levels." Xanatos grimly confirmed. "That's where Sevarius keeps his lab."

"I thought Sevarius was in prison." Goliath roared.

"So did I." Xanatos replied.

"They passed through the front gate undetected. Xanatos knew that Sevarius never thought in practical terms such as security measures and surveillance. He always had been something of an idiot when it came to matter of real life. Xanatos secretly hoped that Anton's absent mind would be instrumental in saving Elisa Maza.

They kicked open the front door, but, after checking out the rooms of the house, it was realized that no one was there. "I know the location of the secret location of his basement lab. Follow me."

Xanatos led them to one of the bathrooms and flushed the stool. The others looked at one another with dumbfoundment.

"I thought that all secret entrances were hidden behind bookshelves in the libraries of old houses." Angela replied.

"Not when the house is built by David Xanatos." David replied with a smile. "With me, always expect the unexpected."

They made their way along a long, well-lit stairwell to a steel door with a glass and mesh window. With one expertly aimed shot from his fore-arm laser canon, David blasted a smoldering hole in the door where the handle once had been located.

They were only a few rooms away.

******

Elisa watched as the deep green statue gleamed an emerald aura She observed as it began changing hue to that of a lighter green. Silvery flickers of lightning erupted from the halo of light surround the statue. She found no voice to scream with as the statue seemed to liquefy before her eyes. It laid on the table as a puddle of sparkling emerald fluid for a minute or two.

The pool elongated the length of table into a somewhat cylindrical shape. Appendages slowly formed at the top, bottom, and sides. Then, the liquid glowed with a lavender and golden sheen. It slowly solidified until a young woman lay nude on the table.

The body convulsed.

"It worked." Anton gasped. He hurriedly encouraged Mystique to move over a rack that contained liquids of various hues contained in plastic bags to the side of the young woman. Mystique and Sabortooth held the bemused young woman as Anton connected four lines, each coming from one of the bags, into one feed. He inserted the line into the young woman's arms.

The bags were each a different color; red, yellow, green and violet.

"Each of those bags contains an important phase of the subject's learning and programming. Within a few minutes, she will have the mind of a twenty-five year old woman and an education of a scholar and the mind of the perfect killing machine." He smiled widely. "And we have you to thank for it Ms. Maza."

"My daughter is not going to be programmed to suit your needs, Anton. My daughter was a compassionate soul: Mystique whispered to herself as she fingered the a blue bag behind her bag. "Violet was always my daughter's favorite color."

Elisa felt herself weakening more each moment. She had never been so cold. The blackness that had loomed behind her like a familiar friend finally won as she sank into much needed rest.

*****

Each corridor seemed a dead-end. Every door led to another wall or an empty room.

"Where are they?" Goliath roared loudly as his clenched fist made a visible dent into the steel door. "Why can't we find them?"

"This was designed as a series of sublevels and mazes as a detourant and defense mechanism against invaders." Xanatos explained. "Without the proper security codes it will take us hours."

"We don't have hours, Xanatos." Cyclops yelled. "One of my people is tangled up in this and I have to find him. Goliath's wife is somewhere in here and her life is at stake. Damn it! We have to find them now!"

Matt looked up at them as he pointed the scanner at the left wall. "They're through here."

"Everybody stand back." Cyclops commanded. "Give me some room."

"What is he going to do?" Goliath asked Xanatos.

"Watch. This is a prime example of human evolution at work." Xanatos whispered.

Cyclops brought one yellow-gloved hand to the side of his visor and opened fired on the seemingly cinderblock wall. A red burst of energy exploded from his visor and hit the wall. There was a thunderous blowout that resulted in smoke, smoldering rock, dust, and rubble. When it all cleared, they saw Logan standing guard in front of one final door.

"Cyke, you ain't gonna get involved."

"Logan, stand down. What the hell are you doing?" Cyclops asked.

"Sinister made me a deal. I bring him Maza and he gives me back my wife."

"Jaye is dead."

"Not anymore, she's not." Logan growled. "She's alive and I just saw her through the window."

"Logan, she's an abomination....Jaye is dead."

"Cyke, don't ya remember what it was like for ya when ya thought Jean died? Ya thought ya found happiness with Madeline Pryor?"

"Yeah, and Madeline turned out to be just some clone created by a madman for his own nefarious reasons." Cyclops retorted. "That wasn't happiness because a part of me ached...mourned Jean.

"But ya had somethin' close that filled the ache for a while, didn't ya, Cyke?" Logan asked in a low voice.

There was a long silence. "Yeah."

"You know what it's like when you share your mind and your soul with someone...and then she's gone." Logan's eyes shown with unabashed tears. "Jaye is all I had to make me feel human...she taught me how to love and to trust and she's dead because of me. I owe her life. I need her...she was the half that made me whole."

"Not like this, Logan." Cyke begged. "Not at the price of someone else's life. The woman, Elisa Maza, could be dead."

"No!" Logan denied. "Raven promised me that she'd see to Maza's safety. When this is all over, Maza will be returned none the wiser."

"Since when does Mystique keep a promise?"

"When it comes to her daughter, Jaye. It does. We both know that Jaye would hate her mom and me if we took an innocent life to bring her back. We aren't gonna do it that way."

"Enough of this talk!" Goliath bellowed. "My wife is in there. Stand aside, mutant, or I shall move you myself."

"Anytime you wanna try, hobgoblin." With a metallic "snikt" those infamous Adamantium claws unsheathed. "Okay, ya freak...let's dance."

*****

The bags were empty. The young woman remained still. Essex heard the ruckus outside the door. He walked to the door and saw several angry winged creatures, a stranger clad in red armor, and Cyclop engaged in a shouting match with Logan.

"We are almost complete." He walked over to the still figure lying on the table. "Arise, My Lovely. Arise and embrace your father."

The young woman's eyes gradually flickered open. How he had awaited this moment. He had created Jessica Jayde Morgan to be his greatest creation; his legacy. Now, he had improved and perfected the process for project Adrienne. He longed to look into those emerald green eyes that had remained closed in death for so long.

He noticed that there were slight differences. Instead of bone straight black tresses that she used to have, now her hair was quite curly. Her face was crowned in a long flowing cascade of charcoal ringlets. [No matter, simply a slight genetic variation due to Ms. Maza's genetic signature. It was not enough to manipulate the true genetic code.]

He looked into those limpid luminescent pools of Emerald. Jessica had always had the eyes the color of Jade. He took a step back when he realized the eyes looking curiously at him weren't green. They were the color of coffee and they glowed with a lavender hue.

"Papa?" She asked in a quiet voice. It wasn't the husky contralto that was Jaye's trademark. It was higher and far more melodic. "I feel so tired."

"Rest now, child." Essex soothed her. "You shall be well soon."

"It's so cold." She shivered. "I feel ill."

"Let me cover you." He reached for a sheet from a nearby table. He turned from her to retrieve it.

"Dr. Essex! We've lost her. Vital signs are dropping!" Anton cried. With that, Nathaniel Essex turned to see his newest creation convulsing violently on the table.

"We're losing Maza." Raven cried as she tried to hold Elisa steady.

"Stabilize them. I need Maza for the second experiment." He angrily yelled at his henchwoman.

"It's an empathic reaction!" Raven replied. "They're connected. Jessica has absorbed Maza's DNA and now they share a bond. We have to break it."

"No1" Sevarius retorted. "We can't...not yet. If we do...that will kill Maza. We need her alive long enough for her to replenish her genetic stores so that we can extract a second sample."

"I care little what you want with Maza or Jessica." Essex replied calmly. "They are mine now." He moved toward Jessica's convulsing body. "Do with Maza as you will. Jessica is coming with me."

"You lying, cheating, double-crossing son-of-a bitch." Raven exclaimed. She lunged toward Essex knocking Jessica free of his gasp. "I'm not leaving here without my daughter."

A moving explosive wall of concussive force and rubble broke through and sent Mystique and Essex flying across the laboratory. Cyclops stepped into the room and asked the sprawling figure of Essex. "Where is Maza?"

"You can have her. I have no need for her anymore." He scooped up the limp body of Jessica. "I have what I need."

Logan stepped through and saw that Essex was about to teleport from the scene. The short mutant let forth a feral roar and tackled both Jessica and Essex. All three rolled into a tangle pile of limbs and body upon the cold concrete efloor of the laboratory.e

"I see that today has prove fruitless." Essex murmured quietly. "However, I have the research I need to resurrect those great mutants who have fallen. I have the mononucleic formula for Ms. Maza's DNA. Now, with the proper materials and proteins I can reproduce her unique genetic signature. Project Adrienne is a raging success. Farewell for now. We shall meet again."

"I shall personally see you rot in hell." Logan growled.

"Save me a seat." Essex laughed heartily. He pressed a small red button on the left shoulder of his body armor. With a flash of crimson light, his body became like floating metallic confetti dancing in the air. The aura of light shrank into a single column of red. It became a tiny point of light and then with a blinding flash it was gone.

Goliath rushed to the still body of his wife. He picked her up and held her tightly to his chest.

"My Love, my Elisa..." he said in a low, broken sob. "Please, I beg you, don't leave me."

"So...cold." She murmured.

"Elisa, you're alive."

"Not for long." Anton answered. "You see, I've seem to have extracted to much matter from your dear wife. She now is quickly dying in your arms. As you took away my life and science from me, now you'll soon be holding a dead corpse. Oh, how sweet revenge can be. Enjoy your reunion with you wife, Goliath. It won't last long."

"You're gonna pay for this you sorry sack of shit!" Logan grabbed Anton by the collar. "Sinister ain't here for me to skewer, so you're gonna have to do. My wife is dyin' when you promised you'd bring her back."

"No, don't!" Anton trembled. "I can fix it! I don't want to die."

"Talk fast, Bub, or you're gonna be shishkabob." Logan muttered.

"Yes, speak." Goliath urged.

"By themselves, both of these women will be dead within minutes." Jessica is incomplete without the final string of DNA added to her matrix. Elisa is destabilizing because I extracted too much. If we were to combine them into one entity...neither will exist as each was....but, one new being will be a genetic and spiritual gestalt of them both."

"You're mad!" Goliath roared.

"I'm afraid that you are quite correct." The crisp voice of Owen broke through the insanity. "Unfortunately, he is correct. The only thing to save the lives of these women is nothing short of magick ....or a miracle."

"Then what would you have us do?" Goliath asked. Trails of bright tears streamed freely down his chiseled lavender features.

"Sevarius, set up your equipment." Owen commanded. "You, the dark haired one called Wolverine; to my side. Bring your wife."

"Yeah, sure. How you know what to do?"

"You're wife was a descendant of the Kiari?"

"Yeah, so?"

"Let us say that she and I are of the same stock?"

"You're Kiari? You're a fairy?"

"I'm an Elf. You're wife's kind were the ancestors of Oberon. I don't have time to explain this now unless you want to bury your wife again." Owen said heatedly.

"What do I have to do?" Logan's broken voice spoke quietly.

"Lay your wives on the two tables supplied by Sevarius." Owen commanded. "Join their hands."

"What?" Logan asked as if Owen were insane.

"DO IT." He said with an unearthly bellow. His eyes glowed emerald.

Both women were laid upon the tables. Goliath held the hand of his beloved wife. "My love, I am so sorry."

"I love you, Big Guy." Elisa whispered in a raspy voice. "I always have."

"You shall be well soon." He lied.

"Nice try, but I have ears." She countered. "Take care of Darius. Tell him that his mother loves him with everything in her heart."

"As I love you." He sobbed as he held his mate to his lavender chest. "Don't leave me."

"I won't be too far away." Elisa sighed and then closed her eyes. "Promise..."

Across the way, the X-Man called Logan stared down into the eyes of his resurrected wife.

"Darlin', I'm sorry. I never meant for it to turn out like this."

"Logan, why?" She asked. "I was at peace on the other side. I found paradise and you brought me back to this earthly hell?"

"I loved ya so much that I couldn't stand to be without ya." Logan planted a desperate kiss on her forehead. "I love ya, Sunshine. Always have."

"That wasn't love that motivated you. It was -obsession.... Just remember, I love you...too....Bossman." She faintly addressed him by her pet name for him as her eyes fell shut. Her breathing became very shallow. "Always will."

Owen's crisp business facade began to glow. His blonde hair lightened until it became snowy white. His conservative style lengthened into flowing argent locks. He floated into the air and the dreary colors of his navy business suit floated away until he wore a tunic of magenta and bright green leggings.

"Oh, how wonderful it is to be free again!" The pointed-eared person replied as he flitted merrily around the room. "To be free! Oh, yes."

"Puck." David said sternly. "We have little time before either woman expires.

"Ah,yes! To the task at hand." He clapped his hands together. "Sevarius, have you any of that rock that contains some Kiarinite that contains some green goo?"

"Yes, I have a sample in the freezer."

"Bring it to me."

A minute later, Puck examined the shard in his tapered hands. "It will do."

"Husbands and mates, employers, henchpeople and mad scientists: Stand back!"

Goliath and the other backed away as they watch Puck glow with an almost unholy gleam. A michevious smile lit his face.

Both you are now drained of life
Both you are both mate and wife
to males that love you with all their hearts
and neither can bear to see either mate part.
Drained are you both of what you need
dry husks shall you be so dry ye can't bleed
Join thee now in this cold, sterile place
and share one mind, soul, body and face.
Neither Jessica or Elisa shall you be
from all those constraints be thee now free!
Let Kiari essence now freely give
the bond and spirit both ye need to live.
Rise in a gestalt as someone new
Neither Elisa or Jaye, but be someone other than you!

Light erupted from Puck's eyes and mout as the two dying women lay hand in hhand. The emerald shard danced and flickered above them then detonated above them. The shards looked like broken glass and rain falling over the two still forms. It surrounded them in an encasing light of lavender. The two bodies began moving closer together until they looked like two images superimposed over one another.

They rose until the floated in midair.

Logan and the others watched in awe as a green light snaked around blurry image.

It began to spin rapidly until the features were clearly unseen to the naked eye. A low humming combined with the quick rotation and finally a clap of thunder erupted and the room went dark.

"Damn it." Cyclops yelled in the dark. "Someone find a light."

Minutes later, Xanatos found and started up the back up generators. They realized that somewhere during the Joining Mystique and Sabortooth had mysteriously vanished shortly after Sinister. They found one woman lying in a huddled pile nude on the cold grey concrete floor.

Owen stood beside David Xanatos. "She will be exhausted and drained, but alive."

"Who is she?" David whispered.

"I don't know." He cryptically replied. "Only time will tell."

David Xanatos stepped out of his exo-skeleton armor and approached the young woman along with Cyclops. Cyke checked her pulse and her breathing rate.

"She's all right." He told everyone.

There was almost an audible sigh of relief.

"Where am I?" A quiet feminine voice came from the woman. All turned to see the young woman wrapped modestly now in a sheet supplied by Xanatos. Instead of long black straight or curly locks, the young woman sported short curls. Instead of the deep bronze complexion of Elisa Maza or the dark tan of Jaye Morgan, this woman's skin was a very light golden ivory. Instead of the green eyes of Jaye or the deep brown of Elisa, this woman's eyes were the color of coffee.

Cyclops helped the young woman gently to her feet. She was taller than Elisa and Jaye .

"You....were......involved in an explosion." Cyclops hastily added. He gave a warning glance to Xanatos. Xanatos gave a knowing, understanding nod.

"Get everyone out of here, Owen." He told his majordomo.

"Understood and very wise, Sir." With that, Owen somehow managed to usher out the remaining spectators.

"Who are you?" She asked quizzically of the man wearing the visor.

"I'm Cy...Scott Summers. I ..attend school at the Xavier Institute."

"Who's....he?" She motioned over to Xanatos.

"I'm your....friend." He replied. "I'm David Xanatos."

"Have we known each other long?"

"For a little while." He vaguely replied. His eyes met the floor for a brief instant. "You're a student at the Xavier Institute and I recently paid your tuition. However, there was an accident here at one of the off-campus locations and we managed to be caught in the fray. Are you all right?"

"I-I think so." She shook her head as if to clear her mind. "I can't remember who I am."

Xanatos and Scott Summers stared at one another. She had no memory of who she was or what had happened.

"Your name is.....Adrienne." Xanatos remembered the name that for the project that had brought about the entire mess. He looked at the fallen west wall. "You're Adrienne Jayde...Westfall."

-FIN


EPILOGUE

.....SEVERAL MONTHS LATER

"Hello, the Xavier Institute. This is Kurt Wagner. How may I direct your call?"

"I'd like to speak with Scott Summers please."

"Can you hold please?"

"Certainly."

Muszak played unremarkable music over the line as David Xanatos waited patiently for a human response. Seconds became minutes as the bland melody playing across the phone line tried his patience. Finally, the music ceased as the connection was made.

"Summers here."

"Ah, Scott. Hello, this is David Xanatos."

"Good to hear from you." Come the sincere reply. "How are you?"

"I'm doing well." Xanatos replied. "And yourself?"

"The same. What can I do for you?"

"I'm calling to see how your newest student is doing."

"She's an alpha-classed mutant. Doing well in all her classes. She's keeping a high GPA. She's showing strong potential in Darkforce Manipulation and Generation. She's a very talented empath. She has a sly sense of humor and a strong sense of Justice. She has this urge to protect the under dog."

"Sounds very much like Detective Maza."

"With that wicked sense of humor and sharp tongue....dulled they may be, she reminds us of Jaye." Scott admitted. "Adrienne is quiet and gentle. Yet, she seems to show the best of both ladies. I never had the chance to know Detective Maza, but, she sounds like she was an incredible woman."

"Indeed, she was."

"She's coming along nicely in her skills and training?"

"Adrienne is doing well. In fact, she'll begin her first patrol in New York this evening." Scott told Xanatos.

"Have her fly by the tower. It's time that she and I met again. Does she remember me?"

"She doesn't seem to. She doesn't remember anything before the joining."

"If she needs anything, you'll let me know?"

"Of course, Mr. Xanatos."

"Take care of her"

"We will."

With that, David hanged up the telephone. He remembered his conflicts with Elisa Maza. He knew how wounded the heart of Goliath had been since her....passing. There was no way to put it. For all intents and purposes, Elisa Maza was dead. Goliath knew that Adrienne held part of Elisa inside her soul, yet, he made no attempt to contact her. He felt it best to allow her to live her new life.

David felt an odd sense of loss and also a new sense of hope.

Time would tell.


***********

AUTHORS; NOTE: I hope you have enjoyed this little prequel to "X and the Single Gargoyle." I could not find it in me to kill off Elisa Maza. She is just too wonderful of a character. Jaye is a character that I have written about in other fanfiction that I wanted to refresh in a new and exciting way as Adrienne Westfall. This little prequel allows me that opportunity. It takes place primarily about a year before "X and the Single Gargoyle." The next story is the first one of the "X and" series called "Only Flesh and Stone." Enjoy!!