57 - "Fallout: Part 1"
Originally Written: May 1st, 2001

October 7th, 2001
"Wake up."

She stirred, lost in a realm born of haunting dreams and deepest desires, where her
ancient pain had no lease, no power to inflict the grievous wounds left to scar her soul.
Rising from the depths of her enforced slumber, she heard the garbled call of a deep
masculine diction. The voice calling to her was grating, malicious, left to echo with no
discernible source of origin.

"Wake up."

The darkness fell away when her eyelids slowly lifted, heavy as if pure granite slabs, and
she tried with all her might to slough off the languor that had mysteriously afflicted upon
her form. Numbness, and merciless cold, the feathery strands of her own crimson hair
brushing gently against her face, partially obscuring the view of the outside world, and
yet, thankfully keeping out the bright flickering light of the alien surroundings.

"Ah, it's about time...Demona." the voice continued once more, a familiar tongue, with
familiar memories associated in the unique inflection of the land of sweltering desert
sands, able to swallow human lives whole with but a gentle wind.

The azure-skinned female awakened ever so slowly, clearing her sight with repeated
blinking, and then forced to squint through the lit torches, her eyes weak from misuse.
The scent of musk, dust and stone, of ancient dunes permeated into her nostrils, flared
with the aroma of decay and death all around her. She opened her eyes wide to a carving
of an animal given human form, a tribute by his loyal subjects, worshipped for thousands
of years before Demona was even hatched. She instantly snapped her neck upwards,
casting ebon eyes to each slanted wall of her imposing prison, scrawled with ancient
writing, a language she had never seen before, even in her far-reaching travels about the
entire globe. "Wh-where am I?" she drawled, her own voice affected, slurred by what
had been forcefully fed into her system.

"Can't you tell?"

Demona's breathing grew sharp, rasped exhales through a parched, cracked throat,
wanting for the precious gift of fresh water. "Where am I?!!" she screamed, the demon
regaining her fire, her animal lust. Her hands were trapped, as were her legs, and as she
looked down, found her wrists and ankles shackled to a massive bedrock throne. The
steel clamps held with even the most powerful of her frenzied resistance, and would not
budge. Demona struggled furiously, eyes searing with the purest blood red, her thick
hide shredding at the unmerciful grasp of the shackles.

"You will not escape me this time, spitfire." the voice returned, this time stronger and
more defined.

Demona wrenched her head around, attempting to locate the speaker, most likely
concealed in the shadows just beyond the reach of the torches lining the stone walls.
"Who are you?!" she howled, attempting to shake off the remaining effects of the
sedative. "Why have you brought me here?! What is this place?!"

"Welcome to my home, spitfire. Welcome to the land of gods and pharaohs, and where I
began my greatest task in bringing forth a new world for our species. But I need your
help, Demona. Only with your skills can the king ascend his throne."

"My skills?"

"Yes, your gifts in magic." it continued. "I need you, to cure my condition."

Though angered beyond the point of any rational thought, her curiosity still won out.
"Your...condition? And just what might that be?"

From directly in front of her, came the snap of leather skin, forcing a wind out towards
her, and brushing past the torches, the flames swirling into a light waltz, a buoyant dance
within their suspended charcoal pits. The figure emerged to Demona's dusky eyes, who
was forced to tip her head back to allow this behemoth to fill the entire scope of her
vision.

His skin was being torn away, dying flesh hanging loose and almost slipping off from the
visible muscle and sinew beneath, replaced by gnarled bone growths on almost every
limb. He was taller than before, larger, his brow spurs having erupted from his forehead,
growing wildly without sanction, appearing as if causing him extreme pain. His wings
were flared in frightening repose, and covered in the same patches that devoured his
golden yellow and deep raven hide, the membranes tattered and left to rot upon the
cartilage struts.

Demona's breath became lodged in her chest, as this towering beast stood at her feet,
peering down upon the trapped gargess with glowing platinum eyes. "Sobek..."

"Hello, dear Demona. It's so good to see you again..."

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

"It's been three days now, father. She must have been taken. By Sobek..." Angela
pleaded with her father, the massive gargoyle standing silent beside her trembling form.

"We have no proof of that, Angela, besides the symbol left in her manor," Goliath argued
with her, though suspecting the real truth as well of his firstborn, that his former mate
had been stolen from her own mansion by a man, a creature, possessed of malevolence
and sheer depravity, "we must investigate all possibilities before spreading ourselves
across the island, the country, or even the world."

"But we have to find her! We can't abandon her to that monster!"

"I have no intention of abandoning your mother." Goliath cut through, his tone austere,
yet reassuring of his concern for his former mate, and his love for his daughter. "We will
find her, Angela, I promise you that. And right now, we are doing everything we can."

The lavender female broke away from him, a taloned hand caressing her brow,
massaging the pain flooding through her, the fear of her mother being injured, or perhaps
even killed. She moved slowly back to her mate, and his open arms, where Broadway
clenched her to his burly chest, and comforted Angela without words, only the warmth of
his touch.

Goliath watched them, only for a moment, then turned back to see David Xanatos settled
into his chair, on the phone with his worldwide contacts, helping to search for the
missing gargoyle, to find any trace, any sign of where she may have been taken. He
sighed, closing his eyes to open the memory of his daughter arriving home in tears,
struggling to relate to him the utter destruction she had discovered at Destine Manor
through her relentless sobs. And now, three days later, he too was growing worried,
having inspected the damage wrought, and the symbol scrawled upon the wall in Sobek's
very blood. In truth, it scared him, for Demona was as mortal as anyone else, and if he
had truly taken her, and even though she perhaps was one of the strongest women alive,
she was left completely at his mercy. Her fragile life held in his hands. The very thought
made him shudder.

"Da?"

Goliath looked down, feeling something grasp upon his bulging calf muscle. A tiny
copper hand, belonging to that of his youngest daughter. "Trinity," he rumbled, peering
into beaming chocolate eyes, inherited from his treasured mate, and slightly covered by
her flowing raven bangs, "what is it, my daughter?"

"Where 'Mona?" she squeaked, and although barely a year old, she knew enough of the
situation to become fearful of a cherished baby-sitter's absence, and her older sister's
swelling pain over the last few days.

Goliath's stolid heart instantly softened, the lavender warrior of Wyvern falling prey to
the blessed innocence of the tiny hybrid. He bent down, curled his talons around her
waist, and lifted her into his arms, a journey of almost six feet to rest upon his broad
shoulder. "She is...working, Trinity Hope," he lied, to protect his daughter's delicate
perception, "she has gone on a trip, and is taking a little longer than we had thought."

"Oh."

"Your auntie Demona is just fine, Trinity. I promise. She will be home soon."

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

A sliver of light, a stream of purest platinum was all that was cast against the far wall,
pouring through the crack of the two office doors left slightly ajar, and allowing only a
bare glimpse of the clan members inside, and the hushed whisperings passed between
them. Annika watched Goliath comfort his daughter, almost swallowing Trinity in the
massive bulk of muscle and wing, and Broadway console his mate, Angela resting a
cheek to her lover's arm. Both were torn by the sudden disappearance of Demona, a
woman who had worked so very hard to be accepted, and loved once more by her family.

Yet deep down, a part of Annika would never value the former immortal's presence here,
she who brought forth a feverish rage to boil in her blood, whenever she thought of her
betrayal of their friendship. "Does she deserve this?" she asked of herself out loud, her
deepest thoughts spilling out into the open air. "She who destroyed for a thousand years,
now tasting death herself?"

"Do you believe that, Annika?"

The blond gargess whirled around to see Desdemona appearing behind her. Ashamed in
someone so close hearing the bitter words cast from her own lips, she looked down,
embarrassed, repentant of an ill-chosen declaration. "I don't...no, I didn't mean it..."

"I hope not." Desdemona answered softly, walking to her side and too peering through
the doors to her clanmates inside. "For is your anger that great to wish for her harm, or
even her demise?"

"No!! Of course not!" Annika yelled back, emotion-filled, sapphire eyes enough to
express true regret. "I'm sorry...I don't know why I'm...saying these things...or thinking
this way..."

"You are still angry." Caramel flowed onto blush pink, a soothing hand across Annika's
shoulder. "Angry at what she tried to do, angry at what you have experienced the last
few weeks...but you must heed this rage, and settle your spirit. I do not think Demona
meant to hurt you personally..."

"Are you sure?"

An answer to bring about a pause to the eloquent gargess, until her thoughts and feelings
clarified enough to allow her a rebuttal. "I believe so. For a thousand years, she has
learned to take what she can get and hold on for dear life, for rarely did she have second
chances at happiness."

"So, you want me to forgive her..." Annika breathed quietly.

"In the end, it is your choice. As it is for all of us to at last absolve her of her sins."

"And what if I never forgive her?"

"Then," Desdemona sighed wistfully, "perhaps you are more like Therias Crowe than
you ever imagined."

Annika stared wide-eyed to the older gargoyle, stunned into silence of her comparison of
father to adoptive daughter, of haggard demon to blessed angel, the simple fact that she
may be so much like him wounding her heart, cutting short her breathing. "I'm nothing
like him, Desdemona...nothing!"

"True. He does not possess the ability to care, to love, to forgive. You do." A flicker of
charcoal eyes slipped past, as Desdemona slowly entered through the doors into Xanatos'
office, leaving Annika to consider a friendship lost, and if she should reach out first, to
mend this rift.

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

October 8th
Her sleeping form was brutally torn into with a sweep of a taloned hand, raking across
her features with such barbaric force as to draw blood. Demona coughed, sputtered, and
her eyelids fluttered open, releasing the clouded ebony to the soft light.

Sobek stood over her, having just awakened from his stone slumber, though his form had
not been healed in any way. "Good evening, Demona." he growled, enjoying the sight of
this woman tied down, weakened, unfed, and defenseless to resist.

Demona licked her tongue over the split lip, and forced herself to feast upon her own
blood, if only to mend her dry throat. "...go...t'hell..." she wheezed, her weary head left
hanging flaccidly to one side.

"Always the fighter. Even after five days of no food or water, or any hope of escape."
His eyes glistened with envy, discovering just how incredibly strong she truly was. But
physical strength he could curb, control quite readily, for it was that of her mental state
that interested him the most, made unstable by the powerful sedatives and addictive
drugs he was steadily feeding her. "Are you ready to help me yet? Or do you
need...more persuasion?" He clenched his fists, reliving the previous night, when he had
savagely beat her with his own two hands, bruising wondrous azure skin and coating his
talons in her blood in his display of authority, to show her who had the ultimate control.

Hearing the contempt in his voice, the fear he tried to instill, and the weapon of choice
which she had used for so long, brought her swollen lips into a contorted grin. "...find
someone else...to save your pitiful life..."

Sobek drew in a sharp breath, and then swept upon her with yet another fierce blow,
hearing the whimper of pain escape from her lips. "You do not seem to understand,
Demona. You will help me, or I may have to do something I may truly regret." He
leaned in close, sending hot breaths across her damaged hide, coated with her dried
blood, caked and fused with her own perspiration, and sticking to her skin.

"...if I die...who'll help...you?..."

"Too true." he agreed with her, nudging his lips to the side of her cheek, and down along
the expanse of her neck and chest, his long tongue tasting what flavors adhered to her. "I
need a sorcerer, for I cannot affect any change in my condition with my own talents, or
even hope to use my own magic at all now without severe, and painful repercussion. I
would have asked my sister, but...we are not on the best of terms right now."

"...too...bad..."

With her continued disobedience, Sobek slapped her, once again a few droplets of her
blood spattering wildly onto his hand. He moved a talon to his mouth, and nourished
upon her warmth, the sweet flavor of gargoyle blood, aged over a thousand years as if a
fine red wine. "I will say again, Demona. You will help me to cure this condition, or I
will kill you, and attempt to find another."

"...there is only...one way to stop...what's happening..." she responded, spitting out her
own fluids onto her knees, a swirl of crimson and frothing white left to trickle down her
legs and pool onto the sands. "...reverse th' spell...it's th'mix of two different
magics...that's causing your mutation...fay and Egyptian sorcery were...never meant to
work together..." With great effort, she lifted her eyes to peer into his. "Even with
your...special treatments...you'll never be cured...your frequent rests in that solution...will
only delay the inevitable..."

Sobek only heard what he had suspected before he had even attempted this desperate
gamble to become immortal, with a spell forged that was extremely dangerous to the
user, as the original creators of the parchment knew exactly what he did now.
Contrasting magics coalesced into one whole, creating a volatile fusion of powerful
sorcery, savage, unrelenting animals mercilessly biting at each other within his mutating
body. But he knew he needed this immortality, if only to achieve his greatest goal. "I
will not let go that readily of such a potent weapon. For there are always loopholes,
Demona. I found one when taking the spell of immortality away from you and MacBeth,
and you shall find a way to help me."

"...do it...yerself..."

"Tried. Failed." His answer held anger, for he was incensed at his faltered attempts,
without any a restorative to his continuing mutation. "Whenever I use my magic of
Egyptian origin, I only speed up the transformation my body is going through. Which is
why I was forced to halt my plans, and tend to myself. Use the treatments to attempt to
cure my deterioration...or mutation, however you look at it. And which is why I traveled
all the way back to Manhattan to get you. And imagine my surprise when we met once
again, for you were...blind...drunk. You still put up a very good fight, though..." He
smiled, a malicious, quiet laughter through his fanged teeth, dripping smoothly from his
thin lips. "Becoming mortal may have been harder on you than I thought. I believed you
would have been happy. But then again, you now face the inescapable truth, the absolute
fact that you will die."

Demona rested her head against the back of her granite prison, sending an angered stare
directly to her captor.

"Ah," he whispered, drawing in ever closer and pressing his body upon her curvaceous
frame, "there it is...the fear I've so longed to see." He brushed a hand through her
crumpled tress, knotted, sweaty due to the humidity, and unkept throughout her
imprisonment. "I suppose you have tried to live your life now as fast as possible. Do you
spend your time with family and loved ones before your days are up? Is there someone in
your life you can call your own? A man? Perhaps you have even taken a...human lover."

Demona lunged forward, yet restrained by the shackles, only a few inches of movement
was she allowed. She let loose a weak growl and almost tried to clamp down on Sobek's
skin with her teeth, wanting to taste his own blood as he had hers.

"Hmmm...it seems I have hit a sore spot." Sobek was almost laughing, having seen the
rage flash within her eyes, a spark igniting her animal fury. "Was I correct? Have you
truly condemned yourself to loving one of them? Perhaps a young man...handsome,
caring, one who can make you laugh..."

"DAMN YOU!!!" Demona screamed, exhausted beyond measure, unable to control the
now raging emotions once kept calm behind a wall of perfect stoicism. "...damn you..."

Sobek dragged a talon to her cheek, wiping the spilled tear from her soiled skin. "Shhhh,
Demona, it's all right. I know the pain you are going through. I have been hurt in my
life, and lost important members of my family as well. But you are not alone. You can
still join me. Help me, use your talents to restore me, and I shall reward you handsomely,
with power beyond your dreams." He pulled away abruptly, reaching to a nearby table,
and pouring a glass of water from a crystal decanter. "You have not had any water for
over five days now. You must be thirsty...especially in this heat." Sobek gingerly placed
the glass on another granite table, just out of Demona's reach, yet in full sight and to only
torture her more.

The azure gargess eyed the water with a hungered gaze, seeing the beads of clear frost
trail their way down the sides, teasing her with it's deliciousness apparent in the
shimmering, swirling liquid. She was entranced, held by the blurred vision of what she
so very wanted, her powerful will, her undying resolution crumbling under the mere sight
of a glass of water.

"You may have this when you agree to my terms." he announced, dipping a talon into the
fluid and then teasing the water in front of Demona's lips. "The pain will end, the
suffering will stop. But if you still refuse...then I will beat you to within an inch of your
mortal existence, and drag out your suffering for days, months...perhaps even years..."

Demona clenched her mouth shut, resisting Sobek's talons spreading the water across her
cracked lips with every last ounce of power left within her battered form. But as with all
beings, even the strongest, she had her breaking point, and soon relented to the gentle if
not fiendish caress against her skin. She opened her mouth and suckled the water from
his fingers with a swollen tongue, an infant nursing at it's mother's teat.

Sobek laughed in his triumph, and pulled his hand away, leaving Demona to gasp and
moan, savoring at the gift given, even if it was but a few simple drops, and then
sadistically taken away. "Your choice, Demona." Sobek whispered, into her ear and
chewing at her lobe, while pressing a hypodermic needle into her jugular, jutting from his
armored gauntlet. "Your ultimate choice...join me, help me, or hurt every single day for
the rest of your natural, mortal life."

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

"Goliath, I believe I may have something." said Xanatos, as the lavender giant moved
slowly to his side, his massive shadow looming over the billionaire's desk, erupting with
wings and spurs, and distorted with his great size.

"A clue to Demona's whereabouts?"

"Possibly. My last few remaining...'employees' in Egypt have received reports of a large
craft landing in the Eastern desert several days ago. A portion that is supposed to be
devoid of any life. When searching for the landing point, they have come across what
looks to be an ancient crypt, with signs of recent use."

Goliath released a fervent breath, his wings, seemingly relaxed about his shoulders, now
stiffening with the mere thought of any more innocents falling to that maniac. "Have
they ventured inside?"

"Not as yet." he replied calmly. "I told them only to keep watch, and stay out of sight. If
it truly is Sobek, they could be in serious danger."

"So," Goliath turned his steeled glare to the billionaire sitting quietly beside him, "you
believe it's Sobek as well."

Xanatos cocked an eyebrow to his companion. "Everything fits too well for it not to be
Sobek. And at this point, we have nowhere else to look."

"Indeed." Goliath lifted himself from the desk, and tromped his way to the office doors,
only halted in his quick path by the billionaire's voice.

"What do you intend on doing, Goliath?"

He stopped near the doors, and turned slowly around, the stance of a leader born. "I
intend to bring Demona home."

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

October 9th
"We are using the CY.O.T.I. transport vessel to take us to Egypt, Elisa. It is the quickest,
and safest way to travel."

"I'm not concerned about how you get there, Big Guy, just what happens after you land."

Goliath swept around to his wife, the lithe female appearing directly underfoot, having
walked in his exact tread and speed, and the only human, or gargoyle, with the fortitude
to stand up to this seven foot, seven inch behemoth. "You must trust me, we will be
fine."

"You know I trust you, with my life, but why not take the entire clan?" she argued, still
wary of her husband's risky stratagem.

"This must be a surgical strike, Elisa. To bring the entire clan would only draw
unwanted attention to ourselves." Goliath explained, continuing back on his way towards
the hangar bay. "We are going in and out extremely quickly, and we have to ensure we
get Demona out of Sobek's hands, and get her to safety. Who knows what has happened
to her within the last few days...if she is even still alive..."

Elisa sighed, flipping the loose strands of ebon hair from her eyes. She followed Goliath
into the massive landing area where Xanatos' numerous aircraft were stowed. And
beside the futuristic, supersonic jet blessed with the technological equivalence of life,
stood the dark warrior, appearing as if in deep thought, yet readying both body and mind
for the coming mission. "But just you and Shadow?" Elisa still complained. "What
about the others? What if you run into Sobek?!"

"Elisa..." Goliath silenced her with a gentle swath of his talons to her mouth. "Please
trust me."

"Goliath." her argument continued on, unwilling to lose anymore of her family, either to
that of an enemy, or their own fears of an innocent hybrid child. "I won't let you..."

"My Elisa," he lay a hand to her cheek, soft, and solacing, "the two of us will be fine."

"The three of us." Another voice rang out into the expansive area, and the entire group
turned to see Angela stalking towards them, features of determination, and a hard-edged
glare.

"Angela, I have already discussed this with you, and..."

"This is my mother." she announced. "And I am not leaving her to the mercy of a
monster like Sobek."

Goliath looked down to his daughter, angered at her insolent stubbornness, and yet, proud
of her convictions held for her matriarch. "All right, Angela. You may come, but," he
snatched upon her arm, and pulled her close, "you will listen to everything I say. Is that
clear?"

"Perfectly."

"Come, let us be off. We have no time to waste." The door slid open to reveal Coyote's
inner compartment, and as Shadow and Angela loaded inside, Goliath turned back to his
wife. "I promise you, Elisa, we will be back."

"I-I know..." she sighed, and wrapped her arms around his neck, to reach forwards and
touch to his lips, offering him a pleasing taste of warm vanilla and spicy cinnamon. "Be
careful, and bring her home."

"We will." Goliath entered the aircraft, and prepared to seal the hatch, with Elisa
watching from afar, having to cautiously move back in order to escape the exhaust being
forced from CY.O.T.I.'s powerful engines.

"WAIT!!!" A scream echoed within the entire hangar bay, as Goliath held the door open,
his dark eyes baring witness to a young gargess running towards the craft. It was Annika.
"Hold on!! I'm coming with you too!!"

"Annika..."

"No, Goliath," she pleaded with him, "I owe both Angela, and Demona this. And
perhaps myself..."

Elisa nodded her consent in taking another ally, and Goliath relented. Annika boarded
quickly, and Goliath once more looked to his mate. Her words could not reach him over
the roar of the engines, and thus, she simply blew him a kiss, and then the door slid
closed, stealing away her husband from longing chocolate eyes. She watched as the
nearly sentient craft crawled it's way to the outer doors, and then flew off into the night
sky, twin trails of fire and smoke left to mark it's passing through the heavens above her
home. "Be careful, Big Guy...I love you..."

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

"Six days and counting, Demona," Sobek called to her, as he entered into the main hall
of this silent tomb, "are you at last going to realize your only option? Your allegiance, or
your death?"

The gargess lay silent, her wounds having clotted, and the bleeding stopped, yet
devouring fatigue had reigned over her form, narcosis afflicting upon strength built over
a thousand battles, and sheer will after having faced entire armies. He had pumped her
full of yet another light sedative, to decrease her mental capacity, to leave her as a
fragile, ceramic doll susceptible to his devilish tongue.

Receiving no response, Sobek edged closer, hoping he had not gone too far. Yet he
noticed the subtle rise of her chest beneath the tattered tunic, and knew for sure, the
embers of life still remained within her. He unsheathed his curved sword, and tipped it
underneath her chin, bringing her head up to where he could see her eyes trying to force
their way open. Her power, and potency impressed him so very much, seeing not an
enemy shackled before him, yet an equal who could aid him in reshaping this world to
his own twisted ends. "Demona, my sweet. Please...wake up..."

She roused slowly, and compelled her charcoal eyes to his rotting flesh. She barely
possessed the ability to speak, let alone fight against his advances on her defenseless
body.

He moved the sword down, towards the tunic just covering her large, firm breasts, and
skimmed the massive razor-sharp implement into the material, shredding through the
fabric and allowing the last scraps to fall away from her chest, leaving her nude from the
waist up. Brimming with savage lust, Sobek peered to her body, a stirring within his
sculpted torso, and his dark beating heart. "So beautiful, so helpless...you have no idea
of the power you have over me, Demona. I kill without hesitation, anyone who gets in
my way, and yet, find myself...distracted by you...offering you these chances over and
over again, even when you spit in my face..."

"...w-why?..." She at last formed a voice, though small, childlike in her desperate plea.
"...why...are you...doing this?..."

"Revenge." he hissed, lowering down to place curled lips to her neck, pressing his fangs
into her skin. "Pure and simple. My race will no longer be destroyed, and the humans
will pay for their crimes. But you already knew that, didn't you? I suppose you were
asking about why I am bringing you to the very edge of your physical and mental limits.
It's simple, Demona," he wrenched her head back with a hand clenched into her hair,
ensuring she was peering onto him, and only him, "I am going to break you, and have you
as my own."

"...never..." She fought on, even as her own body was quickly failing her. "...my
daughter...will come for me..."

Sobek's eyes brightened, alive with fire, with her declaration of a hopeful rescue. "She
clings to a false hope, if only to keep herself going for a little while longer. How...quaint.
Let me tell you this, Demona...no one is coming for you. No one. For they believe you
are not worth rescuing, not worth risking their lives to save a woman who in the past,
attempted to kill them."

"...you...lie..."

"No, I am telling the truth, and you know it. Your daughter has sided with the humans.
They all have, and as such, have abandoned you to your fate. They don't care for you,
they never have."

The lies fed to her were obvious, but in Demona's weakened state, the world between
actuality and prevarication were blurred indeed. No water for almost six days, her body
weakening without the proper nourishment and the powerful sedative drug coursing
through her blood. She was being raped, her mind slowly devoured by Sobek's games,
and was growing lost with every passing second in his presence. Her tears flowed freely,
to Sobek's watchful eye. She sobbed, a naked child in the lair of the beast.

"I told you not to cry, dearest Demona." Sobek whispered to her, motioning a hand to her
cheeks. He then easily transformed himself from captor to savior with but a twisted
smile. "I will take care of you, all you have to do is help me. Cure me, and your pain
ends. And to show that I am not lying to you," he snatched the glass of water from the
table, and gently fed her the liquid, "an act of good faith."

She drank her fill, rapacious for the soothing liquid now filling her throat. Sobek reached
around her and unlocked the shackles on her hands, allowing the female the freedom to
grasp wildly for the crystal decanter to the side, and nearly spill the entire contents over
her body in her rabid consumption. Sobek released her completely, and gently took her
into his arms, and as Demona finished off the remains of the liquid feast, found herself
burrowing deeper into his embrace.

"Join me, Demona," he whispered, stroking her exposed skin, laying the most gentle of
kisses to her forehead while removing her loincloth, the last barrier between their hides,
"I promise you will not suffer, when we remake this world to suit our race."

"...I'm...so tired..."

"I know. We all are. But together we can end each other's suffering."

"...can't b'tray...Angela...th'clan..."

"They don't care anymore. It's been six days. Surely they would have been here by now
if they still loved you. But I care for you, I will care for you...I will love you for the rest
of your life, and make you my queen. All you need to do, is find a way to cure me."

"......okay."

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

"Approaching Egypt's Eastern desert region." came the mechanical drone of CY.O.T.I.'s
intercom, almost seeming to completely surround the passengers. "Touchdown in five
minutes."

Goliath nodded to the computer intelligence, though somewhat annoyed he was speaking
to yet another Xanatos, an invisible smirk crafted in unfeeling silicon. The lavender
giant turned in his pilot's seat to see the others resting in the rear compartment, with
Shadow at the far end, arms crossed and his eyes sealed off, breathing in perfectly timed
exhales. What interested him the most though, was his daughter and Annika on opposite
sides, merely glaring at each other, an interlocked stare of unfeeling Scottish granite. He
released an angered sigh, hoping their senseless dispute would not put this mission at
risk.

Through the cockpit windows, came the swirling sands of Egypt, the distinctive shapes of
towering pyramids and palm trees dimly profiled in the farthest distance, a true emblem
of the country they had entered into. The craft slowed it's descent, a graceful incline
towards the ground, and landing with barely a disturbance of the flowing dunes
surrounding them on all sides.

"Come, let us go." Goliath signaled the others, and they obediently, and silently followed
him to touch down onto the sands. Though night, and the temperature had cooled, the
ground was blistering to even their skin, and uncomfortable to walk on. Goliath
motioned for his team to follow towards the only structure, an assemblage of cracked
stones left half buried beneath the sand.

Angela accidentally settled into a deep pit of loose grains, and nearly toppled, until
Annika pulled back on her arm. She whirled around to see the blush-colored gargess
smiling down upon her, having no reason to conceal her subtle effrontery.

"Watch your step."

"Why are you even here?" Angela hissed quietly.

"I have my reasons."

"And what would those be?!"

"Enough." Shadow, having taken up the rear, broke through their budding argument, and
placed a dark hand to each shoulder, a stalwart grip bringing pause to the warring
females, and two sheepish gapes rose up to a flaming sapphire glow. "Your anger will
only jeopardize this mission, and place Demona's life at risk."

"Quiet, all of you." Goliath sent an angered stare over his broad shoulder. "We are near
the entrance." He stopped and allowed the dark warrior to slip in front, approaching a set
of carved, granite steps leading down into a darkened pit, where the shadows nearly
swallowed a massive stone barrier, most likely a doorway leading inside.

Shadow inspected the sand, seeing signs of recent use, not yet swept away by the heavy
winds. "Someone has been here...very recently."

"Then let's go inside." Goliath hopped down the stairs, and placed both hands to one
side of the barrier. His entire muscular structure knotted and tensed, and slowly, the
heavy door was pushed aside, releasing a sharp gust of musty air towards his powerful
sense of smell.

Goliath entered slowly, a faint trace of bobbing light being cast down towards the quartet,
through a winding corridor leading into where only the creatures of evening dusk dared
to tread. His hulking shape blended into night, followed by the others, and soon the clan
had descended into the very heart of Sobek's lair.

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

"Goliath," came Shadow's rasped whisper, perhaps the only sign of his presence, having
disappeared into the swallowing darkness and living true to his namesake, "I believe we
have reached the end of the tunnel." The others crept up behind the Japanese gargoyle,
and peered into the grand hall, witness to the gods of Egypt born from simple stone, and
a language as ancient of the sands covering each wall, constructed thousands of years
ago, only to be left abandoned to the mercies of the howling winds.

Angela walked forwards, against her father's explicit wishes, and entered into the main
section of this place of death, of wailing spirits calling out to loved ones long passed.
"Where could she be?" she whispered, eyeing several more tunnels leading away beyond
what her great sight could discern.

"Angela!" Goliath called out, approaching Angela's side, and hoping to move her to a
more secure location. "Please, we must not draw attention to ourselves..."

"Well, well, well, it seems the spider has at last captured his prey, ensnared within the
web." Throughout every wall, came the voice of desolation and ruin, an unearthly growl
left to creep into their hearts, to afflict a burning memory within each of the gargoyle's
deepest fears. "Welcome...to my home."

"Sobek..." Shadow snarled, as he and Annika took their place near the others, knowing it
was useless to hide themselves now, and perhaps was a futile quest from the very
beginning.

"Where is my mother, you bastard?!!" Angela screamed, desperately resisting her tears
from falling, from showing any weakness to this creature she wanted dead by her own
hands.

"Ah, the young one pleads for her mother. Don't worry, I have been taking great care of
her..." The shadows were torn asunder by the acerbic flame of Sobek's eyes, as he
emerged into the clan's sight through the farthest tunnel. A collective gasp was released
to his decrepit appearance, and his added mass and height, and he reveled in their ghostly
features, turned stark-white at the sight of decomposing flesh and a form mutating
beyond anything recognizable, omitting the most horrid of dreams born from fever and
raging sickness. "Ah, I see you've noticed my...condition." he joked, standing firm mere
meters away from the gathered gargoyles.

"Where is Demona, Sobek?" Goliath growled, stepping out in front of his daughter.

"Oh, she's here. She has been helping me, in finding a cure for what is happening to my
body. I sought out only her skills in magic, but found myself...wanting so much more. "

"What have you done with her?!"

"I have only given her the breath of new life." he answered, acting as if injured by
Goliath's accusations. "Allowed her the freedom from her pain, and the chance to help
me build a new world...with some added...persuasion. Would you like to see her?" His
hand reached out to the tunnel where he had just entered from, his splayed fingers
beckoning silently to the empty darkness. The shadows curled, moved away and
dissolved from their mistress, as she slowly made her entrance, the sovereign ruler of her
newfound domain.

"Mother?" Angela wheezed.

Demona swept gracefully to Sobek's side, placing her taloned hand within his own. She
appeared as a true Egyptian queen, from her decorative, golden headdress, to the sapphire
encrusted bustier trimmed with pure gold alloy, leaving her sculpted stomach open to any
admirer, and the long, flowing silk loincloth hanging to her shins, sloped over her wide
hips, the thin material displayed of the silhouette of long, sensuous legs. Her wounds had
been healed, salved, and the rest covered up with deep, bronzed make-up, fitting for a
matriarch of the pyramids. "Hello, daughter," she greeted Angela, her voice light,
unemotional, as if she was still asleep, dreaming, and unaware of her true predicament,
"are you here to join us in making our new world?"

Angela looked on in horror, as her mother embraced Sobek with a long, deep kiss, and
wiped a single talon over his marred left cheek when finished drinking in his flavor. Her
eyes were clouded, a misted milky gray replacing the once wondrous charcoal ebony, a
clear sign of the devouring narcotics still coursing through her system, destroying the
fierce warrior known as Demona, and creating Sobek's true queen, in heart and body,
spirit and soul. "Mother...oh no...please, mother, no..."

"Don't cry, daughter," Demona soothed the weeping gargess, a fallacious smile, born of
her shattered mental balance, "I'm not in pain anymore. Sobek has taken it all away, and
he can do the same for you. And the rest of our species. No more death, or destruction.
No more pain..."

"SOBEK!!!" Goliath howled in animal rage, seeing his once angel of the night as nothing
but a slave. "I will destroy you!!" He lept forwards, blind anger destroying his better
judgment, and was mere inches from his enemy's throat, when the lithe form of Demona
stepped in front of him.

"No, Goliath," she announced clearly, "I cannot let you hurt my king. The future ruler of
this world, and our race."

"What?!! Demona, what has he done to you?! He is a monster, a murderer...and you side
with him?!"

"He can save the gargoyle race, he can bring peace to the world. He can end all pain, all
anguish and torment...no one need suffer anymore..."

"He promises only destruction. The death of any and all humans...innocents..."

Demona's gaze softened to Goliath's thinned eyes, the promise of love and friendship
underneath the pools of pure sable ink. "No...h-he'll save us...take away the pain...so
much pain..." She drifted away once more, lost in the swirl of bewilderment and sheer
confusion, a symptom of the drugs.

"My queen..." Sobek called her to his side, and she pleasantly accepted, wrapping around
his arm and resting her head against his shoulder, mindful of the massive spurs erupting
from the bulging muscle. "As you see, Goliath, she is mine now...and will be for the rest
of her life."

"You won't get away with this..." Goliath growled, the grating voice brought up from his
chest, a warning of his growing anger. "I won't let you take her from us, and use her to
aid in your twisted plans."

Sobek eyed him carefully, knowing full well the absolute power this giant was possessed
of, and his will to rival any of that he's ever encountered. "Hmmm, yes. The
ever-existing determination to put right what you think is wrong. You, Goliath, make me
sick in your naiveté. How much must you suffer at the hands of humanity before you
realize the only option is their utter destruction?"

"Only to those who give up, who don't see what gifts humankind can offer us."

"They destroy us!" he bellowed, unnerving his stolen queen, her fractured emotional
condition tedious at best. "They step upon us like insects, and destroy us when we sleep!
And yet, time after time, you defend them, love them, even impregnate their whores with
your seed..."

"Damn you, monster!!" Angela screamed, only held back by Goliath's steady hands.
"You are a disease!! A plague to be wiped out!!"

"She bares her fangs at long last..." Sobek chided her. "Be careful, child, you'll upset
your dear mother...and my lover."

"RRRRRAAAAAAUUUUUGGGGHHH!!!!!" She released a bloodcurdling howl into
this foyer constructed in stone, and tore from her father's hands, intent on tearing away
the remaining strips of Sobek's skin from his body. Yet, as she neared, her path was
blocked by a startling mirror image of her features, cast in dark sapphire blue.

Demona moved to protect her king, and struck at her daughter with pure instinct, hearing
the crack of her fist against her own offspring's jaw, feeling the delicate skin breaking
beneath the powerful impact. She watched the smaller female fall away, and tumble to
the ground in a spray of sand. The realization of her actions sunk through even the
resistant barrier of the drugs, and cast barren eyes to her daughter wiping the blood from
her chin, spilling onto the coarse powder, the golden grains clumping together in a
crimson-colored pool. "Angela...I...I was only protecting my king..."

"Your king is a destroyer!! A killer!!" Angela screamed, being helped to her feet by
Goliath. "Mother, you must remember who you are!! And how far you've come!"

"I-I am..." she struggled desperately for the truth. "I am...I am the queen...of the world. I
am Sobek's queen." Perhaps now, the woman known as Demona was truly lost, and
Angela shed bitter tears for her mother.

"Yes, my beautiful queen." Sobek wrapped his arms around her, nuzzling to her neck,
and eliciting an expression of sheer pleasure in his consort. "Together we shall rule,
together we shall ensure the survival of our race. And there's nothing you can do,
Goliath."

"Don't be too sure, madman." came Shadow's poised rasp, as both he and Annika stalked
forwards, the four Wyvern gargoyles surrounding Sobek and his chosen regent. "As I see
it, it is four to one."

Sobek smiled deliciously, indulging in the dark warrior's bravado, and his confidence in
their position. "You don't actually think I would leave such an obvious sign in
Demona's manor, and not expect you to follow after me, to reclaim your lost clanmate?
Oh, my friends, I was HOPING you would come. In fact, I am disappointed that only
such a small party arrived to my home. A pity. But this will make my associates' task so
much easier..." Sobek edged Demona to the side, still intent on keeping his grasp on his
newest conquest, and allowed the tunnel they had originally entered from free access.

A mechanical whine whistled through the shadows, the pounding of heavy footfalls
impacting on the surface. A glimmer of titanium captured the torchlight, so out of place
in this ageless tomb, and soon a malformed humanoid shape appeared in full to the clan.
"Hello," it whispered coolly to a stunned Goliath, the deep abrasion of technology run
rampant lending itself to this creature's tongue, "brother."

Goliath gasped, as did Angela. "Coldsteel."

"I met up with your brother some time ago, Goliath," Sobek explained, cherishing the
expression befalling Goliath's stoic features, "and offered him a 'job', in exchange for
my services."

"A robot?!" Shadow snarled, unimpressed. "This monstrosity is your back-up?!"

"No, merely one player alongside many." Sobek corrected him, his eyes once more
roving back to the tunnel, and to the grotesque sounds of cackling laughter, echoing upon
each and every perfectly placed stone.

Two black figures tore their way from the shadows, followed by three more hulking
forms. To each of Sobek's sides came an armored pair of humans, or least, what was left
of their once organic bodies, their flesh stripped away, replaced by the cold heart of steel
and circuitry. Jackal and Hyena came to rest by their new employer, as Wolf, Lobo, Bull
and the lumbering Coyote robot stood behind. An army had formed without their
knowledge, and this once simple rescue mission had turned downright deadly.

Angela backed into her father's chest, as Annika and Shadow looked at each other,
seeing these destructive enemies only heard about for the very first time. "The Pack..."

"Yes, my dear." Sobek viewed his allies with an almost sexual lust, seeing the carnage
soon to be wrought in his mind and the destruction of his adversaries. "I was almost
defeated when taking on your clan the first time we met. And now, even though I cannot
die, I do not intend to make the same mistake again, especially in my condition. The
Ultra-Pack, as they are so dramatically named, ask a high price for their special abilities,
but seeing them destroy you will be well worth the money spent, and the fact I am forced
to work alongside these humans."

"Barely human..." Annika hissed beneath her breath, seeing Jackal and Hyena, and their
pale white features, their skin seeming to crack and peel as if aged ceramic, and the
werewolf, cyborg, and massive battle droid standing their ground silently behind.

"Be careful, sweet meat," said Wolf, licking the dripping saliva from his lips, "or you
may regret your words, as I feast on your insides."

"Fuck you, Lassie."

"That's enough, children," Sobek calmed the snarling wolf, and the rest of the pack,
"use this anger in their destruction. Now, Goliath I want left alive...barely. You may
beat him, hurt him, make him suffer, just do not kill him. The dark one and the busty
boytoy though, are expendable. And I want the lavender girl to myself, for it shall be my
great pleasure to destroy her by my own sword, in front of her father's eyes. It seems she
may be the only one who may sway my queen's loyalty, and thus, proves too much of a
threat to be allowed the gift of life."

"You're right about that, Sobek," Angela fought back, "I am probably the only one who
can bring my mother back. And I promise you...I will."

"Brave words, uttered many times before in the constant flow of time. And usually,
utterly futile." He tightened his grip around Demona's waist, and she laid her head to his
chest, against the golden rimmed neck brace and collar, hearing his powerful heartbeat
echo within his breast. "Coldsteel, Lobo, the rest of you, if you please, silence these
fools..."

The android gargoyle contorted it's steel mask into a smile, eyes of blood red bane
directed to his brother and the new clan that had replaced his own. "With pleasure..."


To be continued...