Author's Note: Okay, people, this is it. In the span of 10 months of posting stories since August 2000, and now reaching a mind-boggling 58 parts (plus the Sextalks, the new Flashbacks, an Elseworlds and all the other stuff), I have finally caught up to myself in the latest chapters. It seems life and work and everything else has taken it's toll, and I am now forced to suspend my regular posting schedule until I actually write the story. How ironic. Maybe a week or two, between each newest tale, give or take a couple of days, and I will post them on either Monday or Thursday, so you don't have to check every day. Now, I know all you rabid fans out there are now preparing to slash your wrists without the regular Barracuda fix, (hmmm, ego weighs in at...67 pounds, all right!! And of course, there's kind of been a drop in feedback, so it's hard to tell if anyone's even reading anymore besides the regulars), but I'll do my best to continue the tale I've been weaving, and I hope you all still enjoy the world I'm creating, for all of us to share...even if it takes just a little longer.
58 - "Fallout: Part 2"
Originally Written: May 23rd, 2001
Sobek edged his queen back, to remove themselves from the battle about to commence. But still he wished to watch at least, to bare witness to his enemies torn asunder, their very entrails spilled from their bellies, his dominated sands to run red with their blood. The Ultra-pack spread out, cunningly positioning themselves around the assembled clan, who now found their rescue mission had become so much more than originally planned.
Coldsteel kept his eyes, or what technology he was blessed with that passed for his instruments of sight, directly on Goliath. His brother of long past, whom he always enjoyed involving in his twisted mindgames, if only for enjoyment, to satisfy a dark heart ravenous for the anguish of others. With his sensors, he could detect the heat rising from Goliath's body in wafts of an ultraviolet haze, hear his racing heartbeat, and even perceive the blood surging through his arteries with the preparation of his massive body for battle.
Shadow lay silent, barely a movement of his chest to release his exhale, to even signal he was alive. Thinned eyes sparked with a mahogany pyre, in seeing both Jackal and Hyena eyeing him as if their wounded prey. A scent of fetid fur and the unmistakable tang of humanity, no matter how suppressed, lay his attention to Wolf, circling around behind him. The werewolf bristled his hairy hide, and swept away the clear beads of salivary excretion from his crafted lips and pointed teeth. The dark warrior captured all his foes in the extent of his vision, and slowly reached for his nunchuku.
Angela stood adamant, allowing only her mother to fill her eyes, and seeing her still wrapped around Sobek as if she depended now on his strength, his clarity of mind to keep the last shreds of her sanity intact. Then, without warning, Demona cast her clouded eyes directly to her daughter, and in an instant of comprehensibility, formed her features into that of understanding, and love. Angela gasped, knowing that her mother still lay within the queen Sobek had created through addicting narcotics and having brought her to the brink of sanity. "Mother?"
"A-Angela..." she released an answer to her progeny's plea, and found her disobedience restrained severely and her form secured to Sobek's chest.
"A betrayer, born of your blood." he whispered, snaking taloned fingers to her chin, and a dead gaze forcing her compliance. "If she does not join us, then she will die, my queen."
"But...she is my daughter..."
"And she betrayed you. Allowed you to suffer for so long."
"You made her suffer!!" Angela howled, unwilling to hear any more of Sobek's blatant lies. "Those wounds on her body are from you!! You must have beaten her...treated her like garbage."
"No, daughter," came Demona's fractured tone, wavering on the verge of being lost forever, "he is my king. He has aided me in my pain."
"Mother, no. You must see through his lies..."
"Angela, it's frigging useless." Annika broke through, nearing her side and whispering harshly. "Look at her, she must have been drugged. She's in lala land."
"I won't give up on her!" she barked, as the two gargoyles faced off, allowing their anger to override every cautionary measure even when in the lion's den, surrounded by the Ultra-Pack. "Ever..."
"On second thought," Sobek interrupted the bickering, "you might as well kill the lavender brat as well. She is beginning to annoy me."
"You will not touch her!!" Goliath roared, moving to intercept Sobek, yet inadvertently setting off the beings surrounding them.
Coldsteel lept from his place, knowing exactly Goliath's intent, and blindsided the massive gargoyle with a powerful right cross to a squared jaw of bone, sending him falling away. Shadow rose up to defend his leader, and found only a glitter of flaxen titanium hide sweeping into view. Coyote brought a metallic limb across the dark warrior's chest, impacting upon the beaming tattoos, forcing the breath from his lungs. He was toppled, and the Pack swarmed over him, his shadowed hide disappearing underneath the flurry of steel and pallid organics. They pulled him from the golden floor, and restrained him, as he thrashed wildly in their grasp, eyes erupting with a sapphire glow, pouring onto each reflective surface of the cyborgs.
"Dispose of him." Sobek commanded, knowing full well the destructive power contained within the straining darkened hide. "And quickly."
Hyena, with her piercing shriek coursing through iron lungs, crafted her thin, parched lips into a smile, extending her claws ever closer to Shadow's neck, intending perhaps to rip out his larynx before his own eyes. "We heard you were tough, big, dark, and gruesome," she berated him cruelly as the talons forced their way against his hide, "guess all we were told was wrong."
"Power is not always of the body," Shadow gasped, and with every word, could feel the steel pressing into his flesh, "but of the mind, and the soul, and the harmony between the three."
"How so?" Jackal responded, leaning in to better see the defiance burning in the ninja's eyes, and loving his fuming bravado, the determination to stand up to death itself.
"A will to survive. I know I will beat you, cyborg. It is not a feeling, but a fact. I know...that you will suffer by my hands if you continue this."
"All talk." Wolf snarled, with Lobo edging closer.
"True." he wheezed, as Hyena tightened her grip. "Words are wasted...on monstrosities like you. Sometimes...a display of power truly is needed."
"And you think you can beat all five of us?" Lobo hissed, the golden-skinned man appearing by his right shoulder.
Shadow slowly turned his eyes towards Lobo, and instantly, even within the deep chestnut pools born of an unexplored Japanese ancestry, lay his answer. "Yes." An eruption of power surged through the dark warrior, a madness boiling his blood, and he broke free of Coyote's firm grip, and circled around to swipe at Hyena. His ferocious speed caught even her heightened reflexes off guard, and pale white flesh was torn away from her cheek by his talons. Shadow knocked away Jackal, and using Coyote's braced form, flipped up and delivered a brutal spin kick to both Lobo and Wolf. Shadow landed with barely a disturbance of the sands, and having turned himself in mid air, now faced the massive battle droid head on.
"Interesting." Coyote droned, the holographic facade of a David Xanatos torn from a steel skeleton appearing in the chest plate.
"Indeed." Shadow replied with a clenched fist, shattering the image and releasing a spray of fire and electrical amperage. The robot staggered back, re-routing damaged computer systems, and Shadow stole away into the hollows of this buried tomb, his form blending with the shadows to mask his presence. He had gone from whence he came, and left only a stunned Ultra-pack to pick up and angrily chase after him.
"You fools!" Sobek cried, seeing the dark warrior successfully goad them away, and perhaps increase his own chances for victory. "Humans can be so stupid..."
"Then perhaps, I should show them just how superior our race is." Coldsteel stepped out from his vantage point, his titanium coils bursting from his forearms, slithering towards a recuperating Goliath. The gleaming tendrils wrapped around his thick neck, and dragged him from Angela's arms. "Come, brother, let us play as well." Seven hundred pounds were effortlessly lifted from the ground, as if a rag doll possessed in the careless arms of a rambunctious child.
"Sway your tendencies, Coldsteel," Sobek warned him, a grating tone alive with hellfire, "I told you I want him alive."
"I have no intention of killing him, for he is as important to me, as he is to you. But you never said we could not play." While holding Goliath high above his head, the lavender giant forced to use all his strength to keep from having his neck crushed, Coldsteel brutally slapped away Angela, and then sternly and simply walked off.
Annika tore after him, and launched herself into the air, preparing her bared talons to strike at his metallic body. But even with the meager snap of the wind, did he easily hear her approaching form. The android spun around just as the dawn-tinted gargess reached him, and her fanged teeth were held just inches away, her fury held in place by his own advanced weaponry. The coils snaked around her waist and arms, and even as she struggled, they constricted upon her hide with brutal force, effectively ceasing all movement. "A novel try, girl." he hissed, his tone brimming with a mechanical purr. "But my brother and I need to spend some quality time together." Annika was tossed away, a distance of over fifty feet to collapse onto the ground, and tumble to a stop near Angela. Coldsteel watched on as she struggled to her feet, then turned his attention to Goliath, whom the entire time was barely clinging to consciousness, having his oxygen cut off, his throat and esophagus mere moments from being completely crushed. "I am going to enjoy this, brother."
"Remember your place, Coldsteel." Sobek called out, bringing Coldsteel back to this reality, as gargoyle and android locked organic to technology, deepest, consuming black to brightest, bloody crimson. "You were only allowed to join me if only to follow my orders...implicitly."
"Does this mean the mighty Sobek is afraid to face two young gargoyle girls?" he hissed, enjoying the absolute appearance of anger forming on the Egyptian's crooked features. "An immature whiner and a reprobate sextoy pose too much of a threat?" He pointed to the two gargesses, standing alone and seemingly angry at their given descriptions. "All your vaunted power you have been boasting the last few months, and you still need me as your muscle...tsk, tsk."
Sobek compressed the urge to melt him to slag with but a wave of his hand, but knew deep down, his continuing mutation was playing havoc with his body, his powers, his strength. "Fine then, I shall handle these two." he snapped, unwilling to have anyone see him as weak, and lose control of forces gathered that at times have trouble serving any master. "But you would do well to bear in mind our bargain. For if he dies, then you shall be forever trapped in that unfeeling shell."
"I am well aware of the deal we made. You had better hold up your end." Coldsteel moved away, with the struggling Goliath slowing his battle, the lack of air causing a deprivation of his mental facilities, his charcoal eyes rolling back into his head.
Angela lept up to attempt to stop his escape, but instead found a wave of shimmering steel blocking her path. Her distorted reflection was cast upon a massive curved sword, held in the hands of Sobek.
"No, my dear." he whispered, having quickly stole from his place by Demona's side to prevent her escape. "You shall stay here."
"And you'll kill me?" Angela responded coolly, eyeing the blade with both fear and disgust.
"Perhaps not..." he said, slowly twisting around to see his queen loyally standing her ground, perfectly following the commands given. "What a perfect chance to test my consort's loyalties. For your death, young one...will be by your mother's own hands."
"Where'd he go?!" snarled Wolf, searching through the newest chamber they had just entered, in hunting for the dark warrior. His scent was strongest here, and the werewolf had led his companions into a massive empty chamber, where barely a few flickering torches allowed the light to penetrate into the swallowing shadows. The entire Ultra-Pack flooded into the room, scanning all corners for any trace of Shadow. But he had effectively disappeared, using his skills tempered from years of training in Japan to blend flawlessly into his surroundings, no matter how alien.
"There!" screamed Hyena, pointing to an indistinct blur crossing swiftly through the farthest shadows. She jumped up and fired a few shots of her lasers, yet impacting only on ancient stone, a spray of dust left to settle from the weapon discharge.
"You're getting paranoid, sister." Jackal commented with a sneer, seeing his cyborg sister darting her pensive eyes to every corner of the room, her fear of just one gargoyle almost laughable.
"I saw him!"
"Audio scanners are not picking up any trace, nor are my visual sensors." Coyote remarked, the massive battledroid stomping around with metallic, clawed feet.
"He is ninja, you stupid robot." hissed Lobo, the cyborg using his own optics to scan for his enemy, as was his faithful pet, Bull, sniffing the ground by his side. "He has the ability to fool even your sensors. We have no data on this new addition. He could be more powerful than we could ever imagine."
Jackal leaned on a loose enbankment of jagged stones, flexing his steel claws and seeing them glint softly in the light. "He's just one, single gargoyle." he drawled pretentiously. "How much trouble could he be?"
Suddenly, Jackal's chest exploded outwards much to the horror of his sister, and the surprise and moderate hilarity of the others. A perfect hole had been punched through his chest cavity, exposing the inner workings of his cyborg body, and a grayish-lavender hand. The nearly comatose man was lifted off his feet, and dangled limply on Shadow's arm with a frozen expression of fear. The others watched as a bare silhouette of the dark warrior was defined from the blackness, and his glowing eyes would soon completely give him away.
"Ah ah ah..." said the damaged cyborg, turning his head completely around quite unnervingly and moving his arms to Shadow's own limb now speared through his chest. "That wasn't nice." He plunged his talons into the ninja's arm through the leather binding, and yet, Shadow remained silent through the pain. He merely used his free hand to forcefully dislodge one of Jackal's clawed appendages, and fighting against the cyborg's strength, quickly rammed the lengthened claws through the last untouched bastion of Jackal's humanity. His brain was impaled, the talons forced through cleanly to the other side, severing nerve endings and crucial bionic implants. The cyborg jerked and spasmed, and was simply dropped to the ground.
"One down, four to go."
"BASTARD!!!" Hyena screamed, sending rabid blasts of her lasers into where Shadow once was, yet hit nothing but more rock, releasing fragments to spill onto her brother's flaccid form left abandoned on the sands, with only a trail of blood disappearing into the darkness to mark the passing of the dark warrior. "Where are you?!!"
"...All around you..." From nowhere, and everywhere, came his Japanese inflection. It echoed off every surface, a distorted growl meant to confuse his enemies, and arouse fear in even the fearless. "...You are fools to try and defeat me...the shadows are my domain...surrender yourselves now, or the half-man will not be the only casualty..."
"The Pack doesn't surrender, gargoyle," Wolf howled, "we destroy!!" The werewolf stalked around the room, his perceptive eyes ablaze with his own rage, his scent confused with the myriad of jumbled aroma settled into this cavern. "Your little parlor tricks won't help you! Now face us like a man!!"
"I am not a man, mongrel," he replied, as the Pack turned to see Shadow emerging into their sight at the far side of the room, "I am a gargoyle."
"You're a corpse, bastard!!" Hyena shrieked, cradling her dying brother in her arms. His body severely compromised, his safety systems were failing quickly, those that kept what organic material was left within the frigid sheath of technology, alive.
"Words," Shadow commented, playing on the earlier conversation, "mean nothing."
"True enough, gargoyle." Lobo called out, accessing the mental bridge between him and his hound. "But there's still four of us left to deal with...actually...five of us." A silent command unleashed his pet, and the dark demonhound tore off towards the silent ninja.
Only a raised chin was of Shadow's only movement, his eyes watching intently the hybrid of dog and machine race towards him. The dog lept up, lips curled back to reveal it's sharp, piercing teeth drenched in dripping saliva, and Shadow simply slapped it away. Bull was sent hurtling towards the wall, and with a sickening thud, hit full force into the carved granite slab of the wall, and slumped to the ground. "A dog?" Shadow asked incredulously, surprised at Lobo's audacity in thinking this beast would pose any threat. "If this is the best you can do, than I believe this battle may end sooner than I first anticipated."
"You haven't seen anything yet, gargoyle."
For the first time tonight, Shadow actually smiled.
Tossed to the sands by his foe, the massive winged giant rolled across the rugged surface, skidding to a halt only with his talons firmly entrenched deep into the earth, creating long trailing scars across the golden surface. Goliath looked up through the blood spilling from a deep gash on his forehead, pouring through the shredded flesh and blurring his sight of the lanky, gleaming stature of his brother from a millennium ago.
Coldsteel determinedly tromped his way to where Goliath struggled to lift his battered form, and sent a clenched fist into the gargoyle's side. Goliath yelled out, and quickly clamped down on his lip with fanged teeth, disinclined to having his evil brother witness any suggestion, no matter how small, of his anguish. "Come, brother, you were always the greatest warrior when in Scotland, and even this new world." Coldsteel mused, with another elbow between the wings, impacting a solid steel, spurred elbow joint to the small of the back. "Have you truly become so soft and unyielding in your later years? Has family life slowed you down this much?"
"Why...why are you doing this?" Goliath rose up in a wasted haunch, holding his side and peering with an ardent gaze to the molded features of his thin brother, cast in steel. "Why are you aiding a psychotic like Sobek?"
"Great dental plan." Coldsteel forced his tendrils out like battering rams, hitting full force on Goliath's chest, and knocking him backwards onto his wings. The android stalked towards him, and lifted Goliath by the neck. "Actually, I met up with Sobek several months ago, and he offered me a chance I could not refuse." Coldsteel explained his presence in Sobek's employ, while squeezing his fingers with enough force around Goliath's thick neck to rend steel. "He related to me how my brother and sister were granted their original bodies, and through his sorcery, will grant me flesh and blood once more, if I serve him well through his condition. As enticing as this robotic body is, I have grown tired of not being able to feel through my own hide, or see through my own eyes."
"He'll...bring you nothing but...destruction, brother..." Goliath gasped.
"You are very right. He is not to be trusted. But I have never trusted anyone, and as soon as I am free of this android body, I will be rid of him forever, by burying his immortal wretchedness alive, just like the dead pharaohs of this ancient land." Coldsteel drove his free hand into Goliath's muscular midsection, and dropped the gargoyle to the ground, kicking him repeatedly in the head and shoulders. "But, Sobek never told me which body I could have. I've long since thought this over, and..." he dragged Goliath to eye level by grasping upon his long flowing hair, "I've decided to take your body."
Goliath's eyes widened, a growing fear of his own form being used by his contemptible sibling for unspeakable acts previously unthought of, except for those of dementia and malignancy.
"I wonder how our lovely golden-haired sister will react when seeing me in my new, massive, handsome form." he drawled, in beginning a longwinded speech, ironic for someone unpossessed of actual lungs. "Of course, Sobek may not like his favorite playtoy being destroyed from within, but it will be truly worth the risk of his anger when I have her every single night, and ravage her body like no other man ever could. Or perhaps, I should simply take over your existence, and share your bed...with your lovely human wife."
Eyes of deep ebony fire became as a tempest, in hearing Coldsteel even think of raping his wife with his own form, using the love and undying faith they shared to take advantage of her most personal being. "You will never use me to hurt those I love, robot!"
"And just how do you propose to stop me? This body may act as if a prison at times, but it is superior to yours in all aspects."
"We shall see..." Goliath hissed, and slowly grabbed his hands to Coldsteel's wrists, forcing them away from his neck with an undying resolve. Goliath drifted to the floor, and managed to pull apart his brother's arms. The hydraulics screamed within the android gargoyle's limbs, attempting to summon all the power this body required to fend off an angered, lavender behemoth.
"No...you will not win this..." Coldsteel wheezed, straining against Goliath's unleashed power.
"Yes, for my clan, and my wife...I will."
Annika lept away from the lethal swipe of Sobek's sword, and tumbled across the sandy floor. The Egyptian stalked forwards and plunged the sword into the ground, narrowly missing Annika's left hand. In her surprise, Sobek took advantage of the hesitation, and punched her across the jaw. The woman rolled over, and Sobek used the full force of his gauntlet covered arm to violently slam into her mid-section. She coughed out blood, and Sobek smashed the butt-end of his sword to her left temple, knocking the rose-colored gargess away, and leaving her in a stupefying daze.
"Oh, this is too much fun." Sobek cried, watching Annika shake her head, trying desperately to clear her blurred vision before another attack could befall her. "I can't believe I almost let those I hired do this for me, and deprive me the sheer joy of destroying you."
"For a guy...who hates humans...you sure act like a hypocrite...when hiring them..." Annika wheezed, wiping away the trickling blood from her face.
"True enough." Sobek agreed with her, slowly stalking towards her, a loathsome gleam present in his glowing eyes. "But with my continuing mutation, I needed some muscle to do the dirty work...just in case. There in comes the Pack, and I needed only money as their lure to do my bidding. And Coldsteel...an overzealous fool led to the slaughter with the empty promise of a new body. Once I no longer need his services, I shall take great pleasure in taking him apart, piece by piece, and wire by wire."
"Real humanitarian of you...jerk..." Annika hissed, and received another punch to the face as a result of her biting tongue.
Sobek enjoyed the torment afflicting her features, and laughed out loud. "I haven't had this much entertainment since taking the immortality from my queen." Sobek's brow raised, when speaking of his taken consort, having taken his attention off her to brutally attack Annika. He looked over his shoulder, and found the other lavender clan member attempting to sway her mother in his absence from her side.
"Mother, you can't help him!!" she yelled, almost shaking her mother with both hands to Demona's shoulders. "He only causes more pain, more destruction! He'll kill everyone we care about!!"
"No, daughter...he's our savior..." she replied, an unearthly tone derived of sound mind. "Once I am able to cure him of his mutation, he'll bring peace to our race at long last."
Angela's heart sank, seeing the dulled expression descend upon her mother's face, and the clouded eyes devoid of the spark that was Demona. "Please, you can't do this...you can't give up..."
"A laughable attempt," came a voice behind the lavender female, "to take my queen from me." Sobek clenched a hand around Angela's neck, and ripped her away from Demona's arms. "Now, my dear, we shall see just how much your mother truly cares for you." Sobek placed his sword in Demona's trembling hands, and the azure-skinned gargoyle gripped the massive curved sword, while looking back to her king. "The last test of your loyalty to me, my beautiful queen. Kill this girl, and you shall truly take your place among the new rulers of this world."
Demona slowly brought the sword up, a reflection of her daughter laying in the sterling finish. "But she is my daughter, my king...I cannot..."
"She betrayed you, sided with humanity and allowed you to wallow in your mansion alone." Sobek twisted the truth to his needs, and to better sway her allegiance. "Even to this day, she still would rather protect those who destroy us, and even wants to replace you with another in her life. She would rather have Elisa Maza as her mother, and her own growing family, born of betraying human blood. Leaving you to crumble to dust, alone, forgotten, abandoned..."
"...not true..." Angela gasped, as Sobek forced his talons tighter around her delicate neck. "...I love you...and have always...wished for...your...happiness..."
"She sides with the humans, those who destroy us. In your thousand years of existence, how many have died? How many have been slaughtered at the hands of those she continually protects?"
"She believes in peace between them..." Demona whispered, still seeing the mirrored finish of the sword cast her daughter to her eyes. "She would die for what she believes in...she is strong..."
Sobek found his queen's words unbelievable, as she still fought through the drugs fed to her, enough to kill a normal human, or at least fracture their mind and leave only a babbling fool as a result. "Kill her." he demanded severely. "Prove yourself."
"I can't..." she begged to him, pressing her warm skin to the cold sterling of the sword, her tears skimming down the reflective surface of tempered Egyptian steel. "I can't." She dropped the sword, leaving an imprint within the loose grains, being brushed aside with the weight of the weapon.
Sobek glowered down upon her, and instantly threw Angela away with a single thrust. He grasped his sword from the ground, and he and Demona then connected their eyes, his infuriated, hers timid. "Fine. I shall kill them myself. And I will deal with you later." he hissed, seeing the now fearful woman edge back in the severity of his tone. He swept away from her, and approached Angela ever slowly, a deliberate gait to further increase the apprehension flowing through her. "I have had enough of your meddling, and your constant interruption of my plans. And I will kill each and every one of your clan one by one," he plunged his talons directly into her chest, lifting her by her own contorted flesh, "starting with you."
"Not tonight, motherfucker." Annika had entered back into the fray and lept onto his back, raking her claws down each side of his face, drawing his blood, and tearing off more pieces of his decaying skin.
Sobek howled and reached with his free hand to grip Annika's arm and rip her from his back, ramming into Angela and sending both women to the ground in a heap. As his wounds slowly healed, he peered down on both of them, shivering with absolute rage and speeding the mutation coursing through his body. "This...ends...now."
He blocked a quick slash by Hyena, and twisted around to plant his clenched fist squarely into Wolf's gut, driving the mutate back into Coyote's solid frame. Hearing Lobo's incoming blow dance upon the wind, he ducked down, and captured the dark man's wrist, flipping him over his shoulder and onto his back. Shadow vaulted up as Coyote trained his lasers on him, and the dark warrior curled over the robot in a leap that defied gravity, and his own impressive weight. He landed behind him, and instantly swept away from a massive claw driving deep into the sands. He reached into his loincloth pouch and plucked out a few serrated shuriken, sending them flying towards the droid's outer casing, six direct hits in sensitive areas, especially that of his weapon targeting systems.
"Stand still!!" Hyena screeched, with an octave high enough to shatter glass, as she followed Shadow's haphazard path with an exacting speed to his own. The lithe cyborg jumped in front of him, and unleashed of fury of taloned hands, yet Shadow expertly blocked almost all her thrusts. His hands were that of a blur, swiftly defeating even the fastest of her blows. "Damn you, gargoyle! No one's this fast!!"
"To underestimate one's enemy," Shadow managed between the oncoming punches, and his own blood scattered into the still air, "is a sign of true weakness."
This enraged the cyborg, a practiced strategy unknown to her, and she lengthened her claws and swept past him, and as Shadow easily twisted from her path, though receiving a wound of four perfectly long slashes on his chest, he drove his talons into her mid-section, guessing she had the same weakness as her brother. He rended her ebony steel skin as if tissue paper, and tore away the thick armor plating protecting the circuitry inside. She staggered back, to protect herself and the exposed computer systems, and only found herself engulfed in her attacker's shadow. "Shit..."
With a speed that could barely be registered with the human eye, Shadow launched himself towards her, and rammed his fist directly through her body, appearing through the other side, covered in a white viscous fluid that passed for the cyborg equivalent of blood.
She spat out more of the thick ivory substance, and then passed wide eyes to her assailant. "You'll...have to kill me...to beat me..."
Shadow grasped a hand to her neck, and forced her gaze to his burning ember. "As I see it, you died a long time ago, for the scent of death is all around you. And so, destroying a monstrosity such as you won't be considered murder."
"You...won't kill me..." she laughed, as the fluid poured from her mouth, her decaying human flesh flaking away from the meat underneath. "You're one of the...good guys..."
"Sometimes, the good must sacrifice...their honor, in order to protect their family." he countered, his eyes mimicking the resolve of what words fell upon the fearful cyborg's ears. "And I will protect my clan, until my final breath." His eyes burst with his sapphire blue, passing a final glance to the others, and with all the strength contained within his body, simply tore Hyena in half.
The others of the Ultra-Pack watched as Hyena's shredded body parts littered the ground before them, and the dark warrior threw her legs away, and tossed her upper torso into their sight, a warning of their impending fate. A silken silence wafted through this cavern, as Shadow stood firm, though breathing heavily from this fight having dragged on for almost an hour. Lobo stared down at the demolished cyborg at his feet, her eyes wide open, and she squirmed unsettlingly, the remaining power systems failing and leaving her still organic brain helpless without the necessary oxygen. But she still survived, such as her existence would allow.
"Two down," Shadow whispered, "three to go."
The softest skin of suede and lavender cream, but with the strength of steel within the leathery texture, impacted against the hardest of man-made material, mined from the earth and smelted into his deadly form. Goliath lodged a fist to Coldsteel's chest, and actually denting the solid steel with the awesome power possessed by one of the greatest warriors alive, who had recently boosted his own skills by training with Shadow. The android fell back, and released the tendrils from his arms, screaming towards Goliath, and with the speed of hurricane winds, did they slice through his hide, drawing a wild spray of blood, a heated fluid to drench the floor of their battleground.
The brothers both faltered back into a resting position, yet never tearing their eyes from the other. Goliath was covered in his own blood, flowing from several tears in his skin, inflicted by the razor sharp coils of his brother now inhabiting this new form possessed of perhaps the deadliest of weaponry.
"Tired, brother?" said Coldsteel maliciously, enjoying his brother in such pain, yet well aware of his own damage inflicted. His armor torn, his body compromised in several consequential areas, his pomposity was more important than ever, feeding his systems more than any power source, and keeping the ancient soul alive within the labyrinth of electronics and wiring.
"No." Goliath lied, though becoming tired from the constant battle.
Once again, came the flash of steel hurtling towards him, and Goliath barely dodged a tendril aimed for his head. It opened his cheek, and he felt the heated fluid spill out. But his thoughts remained clarified, a leader maintained of a clear mind and a tempered constitution, and he grabbed the sterling vine and wrenched his brother towards him. Goliath connected with a fist to the face and another to the chest plate, knowing these areas were weak points in his brother's android body.
"Gah!" Coldsteel bellowed, losing momentary control of his coils, flailing wildly around Goliath's form. "It seems...someone has been reading my schematics..."
The lavender giant smiled, unleashing another backhand across Coldsteel's head, where the most fragile of circuits lay. "A sign of a good leader, brother," Goliath scolded his sibling, seeing the android twitch uncomfortably and attempting to coax his repair program to repair the damage afflicted, "is to be prepared for any eventuality."
"Always the proper leader, brother." Coldsteel snapped back, as he charged the gargoyle, and used his coils to overwhelm Goliath's limbs. "But this time, no amount of preparation will save your wretched life, when I am able to force your soul from your flesh." They snaked around his neck, his waist, his chest, using the incredible force to grind against his skin, and compress with the force of a hundred pounds per square inch, and steadily increase.
Goliath's head fell back, his mouth wide open to grasp upon any and all air he could capture. He gritted his teeth, feeling his own skin being torn from his body as the wound bindings of purest steel shredded against him.
Coldsteel watched his brother writhe and thrash in his restraints, and then exposed his thrusters upon his back with a hiss of hydraulics and the titanium coverings, and powered the booster rockets, sending him and his prey both up directly towards the granite ceiling. Coldsteel sent his brother reeling, impacting against the Egyptian stone, and then flipped a perfect half circle, and dropped towards the floor, only to stop in midair and allow Goliath's body to collapse against the sands. His feet once again touched the floor, and commanded his coils to launch Goliath towards the walls, and bounced his enemy against each smooth barrier.
Each time Goliath hit, he released a mewl of pain, and more blood would spill from his lips, staining the perfect chrome finish of his brother's burnished skin. He was continuously brought from wall to wall, as Coldsteel tossed his limp, lifeless body around with so much force as to crack the thick, carved granite down to it's very foundation. Past the rush of blood flowing through his ears, he heard his brother's shrill cackling, filling the entire cavern with a vicious laughter.
"Oh this is too easy, brother!" he crowed, allowing Goliath the chance to rest, yet still bound within his tendrils. "I must say, I am disappointed. You had such vigor at the beginning, what happened? I hope you haven't spoiled my newest body by eating too many sweets."
"You will...never possess me..." Goliath hissed, spitting out the remainder of blood from his lips. He felt the slack, just barely, when Coldsteel relented in order to further berate him, but it was enough to gain sufficient play and wrap his fingers to strategic points along the coils. "For two...can play at this game..." Goliath rose up, and pulled Coldsteel towards him, and flung him over his head towards the wall. The android hit dead on, and shattered the granite, creating a slide that partially buried him beneath massive jagged stones. Not satisfied, the lavender giant wrenched his foe from the rubble and captured the tendrils, now inanimate and flaccid, and as a lasting jest, tied them securely around Coldsteel's neck.
"What have you done to me?!!" he howled, as he squirmed rabidly to release his arms.
"I have...gift-wrapped you." Goliath responded, watching his brother dance around and attempt to untie the large bow created by his own tendrils. "And now, the battle truly begins...and at last ends."
Coldsteel looked up, and features cast with utter rage metamorphosed into shock, when a lavender fist filled his entire vision, and soon, all went black.
"Come, my dears," cried Sobek, with havoc and a baneful growl inflicting his bellowing tone, "this fight is becoming far too easy!" Another swipe of his sword, and Angela drew back, attempting to sway the flow of blood from her arm, freshly opened by her adversary's blade.
Annika lept in to take Angela's place with perfect step, and lay her fists to Sobek's decaying skin, where caused him great pain, and he forced back, to defend the exposed patches. Annika whirled around, to backhand his face, her blond locks sent flying over her shoulders, sodden with her own blood, and that of the Egyptian. A fury took hold of her, that of the gargoyle instinct when in battle. She and Angela had worked in tandem to just barely fend him off, their hatred and anger forgotten when faced with a foe more powerful than even their own stubbornness.
Sobek ducked, and drove his sword's dull edge against Annika's leg, and dropped her to one knee. He twisted around, and lashed his tail across her face with enough speed to form an earsplitting crack upon the still waves of air, and split her cheek wide open.
Annika fell back to the sands, a hand the only barrier from releasing a full stream of blood, and as Sobek approached upon her, a bloody Angela cut him off from his murderous intent. She caught his sword, and with all the strength within her soul, held him at bay, kept him from destroying this young woman she stood over, and protected with her own life at risk. "No, monster! No one else will die by your hands!!"
"Annoying child!!" Sobek screamed, sending this pungent breath across her skin, and allowing her to taste her own mother on his lips. "No one will keep me from seeing your insides coat my sword!" He traveled around with cautious steps, and Angela continued with him, all hands attached securely to the sword, possibly the ultimate equalizer in this brawl.
And far from the skirmish, stood the future queen of the gargoyle race, seeing through fogged eyes of a drug induced narcolepsy, her own daughter fighting to the death with someone she had fortuitously pledged to become one with for all eternity.
"You won't...win this night, Sobek!!" Angela hollered, eyes of scarlet death, and a raw gasp scraping at her lungs. "You won't...take her from me!!"
"But I already have..." Sobek goaded her, seeing his queen undecisive of her role, and what side she should choose, and he continued playing on Angela's fear of losing her mother. "Look at her! She is mine, body and soul."
"NEVER!!!" Angela cried out desperately, losing the struggle. "Mother, please...help me!!" Yet she received no response, Demona being too lost to perhaps even comprehend just what was happening to both her, and her clan. "I can't fight him alone...mother, please..."
"Angela..." she whispered, attempting to clarify her clouded thoughts. "I...don't know what's...happening to me..."
Angela kept fighting on, against Sobek's weakened form, yet still stronger than she. "Your under his control! Fight it! I need you, mother...we all do!!" But the lavender female could only hold the larger, and much more powerful enemy upon her for so long. He wrenched a spurred knee into Angela's stomach, twisting her features with an unholy pain, and yet, she still remained firm, unwilling, and perhaps too obstinate to let go that easily.
"Give up, girl!" Sobek hissed, forcing Angela down deeper into the sands. "You cannot win by yourself..."
"Who ever said she was by herself?" Annika rushed forwards, and joined Angela's dying struggle, turning a hopeless situation into a fighting chance. They both together forced Sobek back, the Egyptian faltering in his once confident step, and giving the Wyvern gargoyles reason for rejoice.
But short-lived was their small victory, when Sobek unleashed what final vestiges of power lay within his decrepit form, and shoved his sword into their faces, and knocked them back to the ground. Wasting no time, he swiped at them, and they barely dodged in time, the curved edge ripping through nothing but calm air, and parting the sands as if the Red sea. They stumbled back, and Sobek continued aiming for them with his sword, every move fatal if having connected. They were forced towards the Southern wall, where a door appeared with only a thin outline, and both Annika and Angela forcefully embedded themselves against the stone barrier. Sobek lunged forwards, and they barely dodged in time by dropping down, as the sword plunged deep into the rock face. Angela and Annika watched overhead, as the Egyptian tried to force his sword out from the granite door, an almost laughable sight in the midst of such a horrific battle.
"Stuck?" Angela jested cruelly, garnering a sly smile from Annika.
"No." he answered, and with a final pull, dislodged his sword, and in the successful attempt, had opened the door and spilled out the contents.
Annika felt something graze her shoulder, and slowly turned her head to see a long, ivory rock, slender and shaped oddly, fall into her lap. She finally recognized it not as stone, but as bone, with only a few scraps of petrified tissue hanging from the surface. "Oh god..." She and Angela both looked inside to see a small, dark room, with numerous shelves, lined with bones of every size and description. "Oh my god..." Annika gasped, seeing several cracked skulls, some only as large as a child's, and all possessed of large rifts in the surface where access was granted to what precious contents it protected. "These are human remains..."
"I usually enjoy the brains the best." Sobek whispered, licking his cracked lips with his long tongue. "Spicy."
"You sick son of a bitch..." Annika wheezed, instantly wiping the bone fragments from her skin. "You're sick...you're worse than my father!!" Annika tore from her seated position, fury and madness blinding her common sense.
"Annika, no!" Angela called out, attempting to stop her.
But it was too late. Sobek caught her effortlessly and smashed his clenched fist to her head, drawing blood from her mouth. Sobek hit her in the stomach and tossed her over his shoulder, leaving her to crumple upon the ground and wail quietly in pain. "Enough of this!" he bellowed, raising his hand directly to Annika's collapsed form. "To hell with my condition. You will burn..." An energy concentrated near Sobek's hand, and a crackling sapphire arc settled upon his fingers.
Annika languidly looked up only as a misted blue haze fell before her eyes, an aura possessed of such beauty, and yet such destructive intent. "Todd..."
"NO!!!" came a cry from Sobek's corner, as a blur of lavender raced past him.
"Storms of Tefnut!!" A bolt of purest lightning burst from Sobek's hand, and flared towards Annika, yet the massive charge only deflected against a spherical barrier erected just as the energy enveloped the dawn-tinted gargess, protecting her from the Egyptian's wrath.
Angela had appeared in front of Annika, using her own meager talents in magic to defend her friend. Sobek watched as the energy dissipated from Angela's shield, straining her diluted sources to their very limits. Burning charcoal lay upon her with a gaze of death, and he again held up his trembling hand, in pain from using his magic, but did his psychosis and rage reign supreme. "Nice try, girl. Storms of Tefnut!" Another blast hit Angela dead on, and this time, she could not defend herself. The energies collided, wrapping around each other with biting tendrils, and soon reflected upon the weakest user. Angela was flung back with the explosion, leaving her charred, bloody form to roll and eventually falter to a stop, with wafts of steam rising from the blackened portions of her skin.
"Angela?" Demona bore witness to her daughter being cast away, and now watched for any movement, but none came from the lifeless doll, it's strings cut.
Sobek rose up and screamed, his entire arm in flames, and coursing with electricity from his spell. Egyptian and Fay sorcery were again acting as his Achilles heel, yet he never knew it could be this bad. His rotting flesh burned away, revealing the bloody meat and even portions of coarse bone beneath the lapping flames and billowing smoke. "GRRAAAUUGHH!!!" He staggered away, blind to his adversaries, and hoping the spell of immortality would heal him soon enough to end the merciless pain he was enduring for a simple blast of energy.
Annika recovered enough to drag her battered form towards Angela's limp body. "Angela?" she called softly, seeing the lavender female's clothing singed, and her skin almost covered completely in blood. "Angela...come on...you can't be dead..."
"...a-ann...ika..." she gasped, being rolled over to the rose-colored gargoyle's frightened eyes, her indomitable will still forcing her body to survive.
"You saved me..." A declaration of sheer surprise.
"...i...owed you...my fault...m-my anger...caused t-this rift...between us...ssssorry..."
"It's okay, it was me as well. I shouldn't have acted like that. Shouldn't have allowed it to go this far..."
"...n-no...you had every right...t'be angry..." she answered, as Annika pulled her up and rested her into her lap. "...i sided w-with my mother...and wrongly accused you...so sorry..."
"It's all right." Annika whispered, relieving the lavender female of the burden of having to hold herself up. "It's okay...I forgive you..."
"...sorry...it took so long..."
"We're both too damned stubborn." Annika looked up, to see Sobek nursing his arm, and watching the skin and sinew slowly reform before her eyes. Then, he snapped his neck towards where his attacker had fallen, and if he had been angry before, he now brought forth the torrid storm that was his insanity and rage magnified a thousand times over. "But it seems it was just in time," she whispered morosely, tired, beaten down, and seeing her seemingly invincible foe practically regrow his limb lost to a grievous wound, "for at least we settled some things...before we die."
Three ribs cracked within him, blistered and almost jutting through the skin just above the splintered fragments of bone, as Coyote grappled fiercely against his chest with the strength of pistons and hydraulic-powered limbs, the robot, though damaged, hoping to crush the life from the battered dark warrior. Almost another hour had passed, and the three surviving members of the Pack had given to Shadow all they could, their skills, and powers inherited from cybernetic implants or genetic engineering.
A senses-shattering brawl had ensued, painting the walls with blood and hydraulic fluid, and Shadow had held his own, yet still taking the brunt of this fight in a thin coating of his own crimson plasma seeping from numerous wounds. Breaking Coyote's hold, he flipped up, wings outspread to direct his leap, and landed with a spurred knee directly into Wolf's chest, opening the skin from shoulder to waist. Shadow landed, and unleashed with his remaining nunchuku, striking just beneath the werewolf's chin. He then used the stunned mutate as fodder to hurl against the battle droid, watching with animal passion the robot being sent flying backwards.
But Lobo stepped in and knocked the ancient weapon away, his eyepiece cracked and shattered, rendered useless in the battle, but he knew he needed only to rely on his own combative expertise, learned from years ago. Both he and Shadow whirled into a waltz of blurred fists and high kicks, a deadly circle cut into the sands. Shadow landed a open palm squarely to Lobo's chest, as he swept in with a fist to the dark warrior's thigh. But the dark-skinned man captured Shadow's arm, and twisted violently upon the limb, hearing with enhanced senses the tearing of ligaments and tendons when bending his elbow the wrong way.
Shadow held his scream within his chest, and merely growled, until Lobo deepened his grip and traced his hands higher towards the shoulder. He braced himself and pulled outwards with amplified strength, and Shadow's arm was pulled from it's socket with an audible crick.
He clenched his teeth with enough power to bite through solid steel, as Lobo increased the pressure on his damaged arm to where an ordinary human would perhaps pass out from the tremendous pain. Shadow wrenched him away, and gripped a hand to his damaged arm, hanging limply from his shoulder. He pulled inwards, and twisted, snapping the bone back into place with a silent, gritted resolve. Suddenly, upon his back came the retribution of the massive droid, the weight and force equivalent of dropping a small vehicle on the dark warrior's backside. Shadow crumpled, and perceived a slight tingling in his fingertips, as the powerful blow had been targeted directly on his spinal cord.
Coyote kept pounding away, the composed demeanor of logic processors and computer chips wiped away by damage wrought by his opponent, and only one command raced through his central mainframe, that to destroy the dark one. Wolf pulled himself from the sands, and raced to Shadow's beaten form, aiding his companion in completely obliterating his body, hoping to tear him apart. Coyote held him up, arms secured in his manacles, unable to break free. The upper torso of Hyena crawled her way and held down his legs as Wolf and Lobo both drove their fists into Shadow's sculpted torso, bruising and breaking his flesh, cracking and shattering bones, creating such damage as to forever make certain the ninja would never leave this tomb alive.
Through it all, Shadow's eyes glazed over, seeing a swirl of images blanketing his vision with the bleary semblance of friends long past, and lovers whom have become one with his soul. His grandfather, an elderly man of grace and dignity, sitting silently by the flowing waterfall on a Spring day in the forests of Nagano. The clan of Wyvern, and with each day they celebrated their life and family. Long flowing drifts of ivory silk, and the deepest pools of limpid chocolate, she who gave him a purpose once more. "Delilah..." Shadow forced out with a spattering of his own blood. "Delilah!!" With only the mention of his lover's name, this reality was once more breached by his presence, and he focused in on those who were savagely beating their fists upon him. Shadow heaved himself up and out of Hyena's claws, and drove his feet into Lobo and Wolf, then flipped over onto Coyote's back, using the droid's weighted stance to push himself off into the air.
He landed, and crouched down, holding an arm to his battered midsection. He was breathing heavily, and wheezing, his form perhaps closer to defeat than he ever thought, as the Pack closed in on him. "I apologize, grandfather," he rasped, choking his exhales through a pierced lung, "I vowed never to use what has been long buried in the past of our ancestors, but it seems I have no other choice...to save my clan...and my life..."
The grains of sand trembled with a spectral exudation, casting across the golden surface as if ripples in a pond. The still air spiraled around the dark warrior's bulging form, as his eyes burst out as singular flames burning in sapphire cerulean, his breathing slowing to a controlled and peaceful rhythm. Waves of pure energy poured from him, growing in intensity and being picked up by even the remnants of the Pack, standing in awe, noticing even Shadow's tattoos glowing brighter than that of the sun.
"What the hell?" Wolf growled, having still remained in his most feral canine form.
"Sensors are registering a substantial increase in power levels." Coyote droned, and even with his compromised optic systems, could still see a peculiar haze drifting from the warrior's body. "This is a physical improbability for any biological being to increase his strength by such a factor..."
"It can't be..." Lobo wheezed, edging back from the sight of Shadow huddled on the ground, his chest heaving, his muscular structure seeming to attempt to burst from his skin. "...he knows..."
"Give up this futile battle!!" screamed the metallic monster formed as steel but in a gargoyle's skin, sending his utter rage having been translated into brute strength against his lavender brother. "And surrender yourself to me, before I only get tired and decide to kill you, and then choose another!" Coldsteel swiped past Goliath, as he dodged past the sterling talons, and planted his fists against the android's backside, a piercing clang ripping into the air.
Goliath brushed aside from the remaining tendrils, those that were not torn from his body when Coldsteel frantically tried to free himself of his bindings, and stooped in low to send another fist to the back area when his brother was turned around. His continuing stratagem had weakened his brother's form, directly in the section of armor plating squared off on his back, above the boosters.
Coldsteel knew something was amiss, for Goliath's fists were aimed with such accuracy as to arouse suspicion to his intent. He whirled around, and used what coils he had left to tear quickly towards his brother, hoping to at last end this conflict with either his brother's defeat, or his death. Goliath moved rashly to avoid being speared through the chest, and only ended up moving his left wing into the path, as the tendril punctured through his membrane.
Goliath ignored the pain, coursing through sensitive nerve endings upon his powerful wing struts, and captured the coil as it snaked past his face. Goliath wrapped the tendril in his arms, and both gargoyle and android pulled each other closer together, until face to face they arrived, a clash of organic might to sterling perfection.
"What little scheme lays within the back of your mind, brother?" Coldsteel hissed, knowing his creepers were entangled by Goliath's talons, and hoping to spare himself some time necessary to unravel his deadly weaponry. He watched as Goliath's scowl only deepened, his eyes icing over and becoming a reply of deafening silence. "Hmmm. Not too talkative. You are up to something."
"Only this..." Goliath pulled even tighter against the remaining tendrils, and Coldsteel noticed the strength apparent to cause such a strain against his systems.
"What?! What...are you doing?!"
"Disarmament." Goliath screamed, and the entire room they dwelled within lay awash with the blinding platinum fury of his eyes. Using Coldsteel's own tendrils to shore himself, and his taloned feet digging into the ground, the lavender giant wrested upon his brother's right arm, and wrenched the limb from his body in a shower of sparks, raining upon the sands. Coldsteel drew back, with only a few distended wires and a fractured skeletal brace where his arm once was, looking directly to Goliath's lips subtly curving into a smile. "And Elisa once said I had no sense of humor." he quipped, snapping the useless limb in half and tossing it away.
"Gah!!" the robot howled, staggering back, his equilibrium severely imperiled by the loss of his heavy limb, and the last coil attached to his left arm. "I never thought...you would stoop so low, brother. Perhaps you have finally grown the genitalia you always lacked a thousand years ago."
"Perhaps." Goliath rushed in, hoping to attack before the chance for his evil brother to recuperate presented itself, and plunged his fists into his metallic figure. Blow after wild blow, and Coldsteel's form became gouged, caving in on certain, weaker places on his armor. He attempted to swipe randomly at his sibling, but Goliath lept up and over, landing behind the android, and impacted his arms to the backside once more. And this time, the armor at last cleaved, splitting in half along the seams, and Goliath was able to tear away at the plate, leaving a substantial portion of Coldsteel's inner workings open to the musty air and swirling dust. He submerged his hand directly into Coldsteel's body, and the android went stiff, feeling the taloned hand scrape away at his insides.
"What are you doing?!!" he yelled, unable to turn with Goliath's grip upon his arm and back.
"Looking...for the off switch."
Sobek's hand forcefully clenched, the tactility and sense of feeling returning while watching as the nerves and arteries reconnected themselves, predacious snakes slithering beneath the striations of his charred skin and around his ivory bone. His jaw left open, he stood silent, suppressing the pain with the unadulterated joy of knowing he would soon sink his teeth into the ripe flesh of two young gargoyles, and feast on their boundless vitality and delicious youth.
Annika held a barely conscious Angela still in her arms, and yet, she as well trying desperately to stay awake, fighting against the loss of blood from the numberless wounds having been carved across her rose-colored skin. She was so desperately tired, and knew when Sobek healed sufficiently, she may be the last line between life and death by the Egyptian's sword.
Angela shifted in her arms, and tried the difficult task of lifting herself up to a higher position, but failed with each attempt. "...mother..." she gasped, seeing through drooping eyelids her mother standing mere meters away, her own gaze still locked upon a writhing Sobek. "Mother..." Her voice grew in strength, knowing her time was growing short. "You must...fight back..."
Demona guided her somber eyes back towards her daughter, seeing the young child cradled in another woman's arms, seemingly lifeless and resisting her wounds and the damage the backfire of her unpracticed sorcery created. "Daughter...you must relent, or he will kill you..."
"Then...he will kill me...for I will never give up...to someone like him."
"No," she decried, stepping forwards, her attention thrown from her king, "you mustn't defy him. If you serve him well, he can help us, help us all."
"By destroying all we care about?" Annika broke through.
"He will take away the pain. He will create a new world..." Demona caressed a hand to her brow, weathered features lost to her anguish. "...and erase the pain...the constant pain..."
"You cannot just...wipe the pain away with a magic wand!" Angela screamed, practically clawing at Annika's arms to gain any leverage. "All you can do is deal with it...head on."
"But I can't live with this endless anguish anymore..."
"Yes, you can...and yes, you must! For you yourself created most of this pain, and now you must live with it!" Her words rang true, a thousand years of agony carried within her mother's ever tortured soul, and there by perhaps a series of events set in motion by Demona's ill-chosen actions, and her anger unsatisfied to allow her any semblance of a normal existence.
"I was hurt..." she whispered. "Thrown away by the man I loved..."
"You hurt him, and Annika, in your conceit...and I perhaps as well, in my unlimited stubbornness..."
"For a thousand years was I hunted by the humans..."
"Because you single-handedly waged a war on humanity! And you betrayed the clan. But you can be forgiven for this, for everything you have done. But it takes time. You have come so far, and I won't give up on you...ever..."
She raked her talons down a knitted forehead, and the golden headdress adorning her locks of crimson flame. "I-I don't know if I can...it's too hard..."
"That's too damn bad!!" Angela opened up her lungs with a breath of fire, actually becoming sick of hearing her mother give in to her own fears, made even worse by the drugs. "Deal with it!! And take back your life!!"
"...my...life?..." Demona echoed her daughter's words, and perhaps this time, with Angela's brutal scream, did it finally sink in, allowing a time of cohesion for her fractured mind with words of such force and bitterness birthed from the lavender female's own mouth. "My...life."
"Is mine, my queen," came Sobek's strident growl, "for as long as you exist." The Egyptian held a healed arm to his face, though still torn and psoriatic from the mutation. "And now it is time to end this farce, and destroy all who stand in our way." Sobek flexed his muscular form, his tattered wings outstretched with a new breath of life, and he slowly made his way towards the wounded gargesses. The sand trembled with each of his footfalls, and he took solace in his sword's presence, capturing the leather-wrapped handle with an ever strong determination. That to eliminate all who would dare to challenge his will.
It would be Annika who lifted her burnished eyes from her clanmate to a blackened form of nightmares and demonic intent, as Sobek edged closer, and his sword rose up, being readied for the final strike. She thought now her life would end here, after having battled so hard and long against forces who would conspire to destroy her life. All she could think of to do with the last remnants of strength, was to wrap her arms tighter around Angela's silent form, and lower her head into the long mane of ebony-tinted, chestnut strands, unwilling to have Sobek as the last sight she would see.
"An effort worthy of my admiration," Sobek hissed, raising his sword, "but in vain. Give my regards to those who have passed on before you..." As he swept down upon the gargesses with his blade, he found himself stopped in mid-motion, a cerulean-hued hand having grasped upon his forearm.
"No, my king." said Demona. "I cannot allow you to kill my daughter..."
"Knows what?!" Wolf demanded.
"A technique from ancient Japan..." Lobo whispered, seeing with fear-filled eyes the dark warrior enveloped in the twisting cyclone of dust and debris yanked from the ground. "It's supposed to grant the user incredible stamina and speed for a short period of time. But...it was a rumor...nothing but hearsay from old men in the hills of Japan..."
"Impossible." Coyote interrupted, his processors sometimes unable to look past what it was programmed with.
"You've been witness to sorcery before, robot, why can't you grasp this concept?" Lobo chided the hulking droid. "He must have incredible self-discipline to be able to access this power..."
"Irrelevant." Coyote clumsily drifted forwards, his armor shredded, with Lobo almost calling out to stop him, but sensing the incredible power being unleashed by the huddled mass within the tempest of sands. Coyote lumbered forth, until he reached the edge of the swirling winds, and held his place, searching any movement by the adversary centered in his damaged targeting systems. "You will submit, gargoyle, or face oblivion."
The form stood, a pulsing field of total black, contained in barely a humanoid shape and breached only by four glowing tattoos. Suddenly, without a sound to announce his having lept into the air, Shadow ripped from his stead, and unleashed the full brunt of more than six hundred pounds into Coyote's torso. An absolute cessation of sound permeated through the cavern, except for that of his claws rending titanium, as Shadow transformed himself into his very namesake, a pure blur of raven hide tearing into Coyote's outer casing. Not a man, but a ghost born of wing and claw and faster than any organic could ever move, the ninja swept into the robot's midsection, and tore away at his wiring, his very frame, eventually digging through to it's backside.
Coyote fell back, a huge hole having been ripped clean through him. "Power core compromised..." it droned, attempting to hold a manacle over the gaping wound, but to no avail. The great energy source held within erupted outwards with the core breached, and caught an unprepared Lobo with the channeled explosion.
Shadow ripped from the column of fire, advancing on Wolf with fantastic speed. A fist impacting upon canine teeth, and a kick to his lengthened snout, Shadow silently disposed of the werewolf. Though placing forth a valiant battle, Wolf found his own swiftness conquered easily, as Shadow overpowered him, and once finished, lay only a quivering mass of blood-soaked fur.
Lobo crawled from the flaming wreckage of Coyote, patting out the flames and smoldering ruins of his leather raiment and as the last standing, found himself face to face with the tight-lipped ninja, and discovered his own fear taking control. "Damn you, gargoyle!! You won't wi..." A rush of wind, and a contorted shadow swept upon him, effectively ending his bravado, as Shadow buried him beneath his blurred talons, raking away at his flesh and cybernetic implants. "Speak...dammit..." Lobo begged, tasting his own blood rising from the depths of his damaged organs. "...s-say something..."
Shadow bared his fangs and simply continued slashing away. He was lost in the addiction of power metamorphosing the oft-gentle gargoyle into a killing machine, unpossessed of intellect and appearing only as a creature of pure instinct. Lobo's blood sprayed upon him, dripping down his skin, but he never noticed. In fact, he relished in the hunger that held his heart, and finished his opponent by snapping his neck and almost severing his spinal cord.
He found the dismembered carcass of Hyena struggling to pull her remains from the area with only one working arm, and then vaulted on top of her, pounding with his foot until her head was crushed and her grey matter was spattered over the sands, perhaps the only way to ensure her death. His enemies vanquished, Shadow rose up on Lobo's broken body, howling his animal lust to the barren stars that lay outside of this ancient tomb.
"The...what?!" Coldsteel bellowed, a demanding tone wanting of Goliath's import.
"You do not seriously believe Xanatos would give you such a powerful body without placing a fail-safe option inside of you?" the lavender giant responded indifferently, his buried up to the elbow into the android's twisting body. "You are a fool, brother, and have always been."
"The truth has always frightened you...hasn't it?"
"Why drag out...this battle and face certain defeat?"
"The fail-safe is located deep inside of you, and can only be breached by access to your chest cavity." Goliath searched through his memories, the schematics he had been given by Xanatos long ago still fresh in his mind, and the fail-safe planted by the original designers of Coldsteel's body. "You have thick skin, but...not thick enough..."
"No!!" Coldsteel writhed, and desperately tried to force Goliath away from him, but the gargoyle had clutched his talons deep into his metallic skin, allowing him the cohesion to stay firmly in place. "NOOOOO!!!"
"Ah..." Goliath chirped, when his nimble talons fluttered upon what he had been blindly searching for by only his receptive sense of touch. "Goodbye, brother..." He pulled out the main microchip board, that which supplied order to chaos in the systems within the android form. He ripped it from Coldsteel's body, and flipped away, watching as the robot lost essential power and motor skills, then wavered, swayed, and eventually went limp, plunging to the ground.
"You now defy me, my queen?" Sobek seethed, as Demona held his arm at bay, the glinting steel of his sword held just inches from Annika's neck.
"I am...only protecting my daughter."
Sobek yielded the force placed upon his arms, yet still carried his blade near the two injured gargoyles. "She who betrayed you?"
"She did not betray anyone, she only wishes to live her life free of someone's forced rule."
Sobek lowered his brow, seeing his narcotics perhaps losing their effectiveness. "You wish me to spare her?"
"Yes...Sobek." For the first time tonight, she addressed him by his true name.
"You would be wise not to anger me...Demona."
Her eyes sparked with fire long thought past. "Or?"
With a speed rarely encountered by the female, Sobek drove her away with a swipe of his sword. "Or you shall die as well."
"You hit me..." she replied, her eyes beginning to clear, the clouds parting from a glistening charcoal imperial. "You are...not my king...and your...drugs...are wearing off..." She was growing ever angry, the surge of adrenaline setting her arteries aflame. "...they...are...not strong enough to hold me...I will not be your pawn any longer...nor will you continue to harm my daughter..."
"I offered you the world, and you still resist your place. I offer you an entire race as your loyal subjects, and you gave that up," he moved his eyes to Angela, "for her..."
"She is worth more than anything you could ever give to me. More than the world...and the stars beyond. All of them. My clan...my family." Her talons pressed into trembling balls, and Sobek simply snorted a forced breath into the musty air. "You will not win this night. Or any night, so long as I stand before you."
"That can change..." Now, a new target had been chosen by the psychotic, and his former queen, having almost taken back her very soul, was now she who would experience the bitter taste of his blade. "Quite easily."
Demona shook her head, the narcosis actually wearing off some in the traumatic blow, forcing her to wage war against the affliction of the drugs. Her anger was returning in full force, wiping away the docile queen and recreating the fearsome warrior of Wyvern's past. "Laying your hands upon me, and Angela, was your first...and last mistake..." she growled. Demona lunged forwards and caught the Egyptian by surprise, yet his skills in battle kept his mind like glacial ice, calm, collected, and cool.
They dodged around each other, and though Demona had successfully fought off the rigid control of the drugs he had fed to her, the sedatives had dulled her reflexes. A dangerous situation for someone who relied on her instincts when engaged with an enemy. Sobek took full advantage and slapped her away with such brutality as to knock the headdress to the ground. The gargess barely rolled in time from the path of Sobek's sword, and kicked at his feet, but Sobek found her sluggish movements almost predictable and jumped up and over her sweeping punt.
He landed and heaved his sword directly towards her midsection, but found the blade somehow stopped just before breaking the skin. Demona had quickly slapped her hands to each side of the sword, using all her strength to keep from having her insides splattered all over the sparkling sands. Sobek pushed harder, using all his weight to urge the blade closer, eventually resting on her stomach, and just barely slicing the skin, drawing a small line of blood. "A pity, my dear," he hissed, watching Demona's face contort, and a small bead of perspiration trickle down the subtle curvature of her face as she pushed against the blade, "you could have owned the world. Oh well..." One final thrust, and the sword dropped.
His chest heaved, his breath coursing through a dry throat and fluid-filled lungs, the dark warrior trembled with the last vestiges of power taken from the very depths of his soul. He wanted more, he wished the fight to continue, that which left his jaw hanging slack, his fanged teeth trickling with silvery beads of saliva. But only a few motionless bodies lay around him, and once seeing the scraps of shredded skin and bloody pulp covering his body, he at last waved off the demon within.
His mind soon unveiled from the thunderous beating of his heart, and as his eyes opened to beyond that of his enemies, he found himself standing in a heap of broken bodies and shredded armory. "...c-control..." he gasped, beholding his talons drenched in blood. "M-Must gain control..."
He crawled his way from the bloody battlefield, total, bloodthirsty carnage wrought by his own hands. The power drained away from him, and the injuries sustained took control of his beaten form. "...w-what...have I done?..." His eyes rolled back into his head, and the ninja foundered, and collapsed, the once triumphant pulsation in his chest dying away. "...grandfather...I used the...Black Dragon..." he wheezed. "...I'm sorry... "
He tucked the circuitboard into his belt and hunched over the lifeless figure, eventually turning him over to lay on his back, and seeing the fading scarlet incandescence of his eyes. Finally the opportunity to rest presented itself, wiping the blood from his face, and watching his sibling's only movement come from a slack jaw attempting to form words. "You are defeated, brother."
"...zzzzzznnnnnneverrrr..." His words were slurred, the speech centers slowly losing the power to allow him the gift of verbalization.
Goliath seized his talons to each side of the android's head, and placed upon him a glare so unlike that of his kind-hearted soul. "Go back to Hell, brother...where you belong." Goliath pulled apart his hands, and with it, severed Coldsteel's head into two perfect halves.
And yet, though severely damaged, Coldsteel still managed a few garbled words. "...zzzzyou'll zzz...neverzzzzz know...aboutzzzzz our...zzzzister..."
"What?" Goliath held the remains of the android higher, seeing the last working retina flash with a defiance even in death. "What are you babbling about?!"
"...zzzzzzzour clever zzzzister...Izzzzknow wherezzzzzshe izzzz..."
"...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzno..." The eye lost it's light to the darkness of nonexistence, and form the head released a waft of dancing light, appearing as a translucent steam with barely a humanoid shape to mark possession of the owner. "...I shall return...brother..."
Goliath watched the fading spirit flow through the cracks in the ceiling, and threw down the empty shell of Coldsteel, leaving the cleaved skull to tumble and roll across the floor. He sighed, hoping his brother had passed on, but he knew, that anger and malice were often enough to hold lost souls to this world. "And if you do...I shall be waiting..."
Angela gasped, peering upon Sobek driving the sword into her mother's stomach. "...no..." But unknown to her, the sword had not connected with Sobek's intention, for Demona had pushed away the blade to her side, and it only impacted with the sandy surface of his lair, yet still leaving a long slash against her skin.
"You have a coward's luck, Demona!!" screamed Sobek, releasing his weapon and attempting to try again, but the wiry female dodged once more and while holding a hand to her side, quickly crawled away towards the lit torch, the warm flames alive within it's golden coronet. Sobek chased after her, now on her feet, and as he encroached upon her, Demona grabbed the rod-iron base of the torch and swung around in a perfect half circle of trailing flame, jabbing the fire into Sobek's face. "Aaaaauuuugghhhh!!" He screamed in pain, as the glowing embers seared his eyes, and the gas-fed flames set his very face ablaze.
Demona moved away, and towards her daughter, as Sobek dropped his sword and grasped his hands to his burning flesh and hair, his hardened features lost to the raging inferno on his face. She approached Annika and Angela, and kneeled down, softly kneading the dawn-tinted gargess' shoulder, and waking her from her stupor. "Annika..."
"...I see...you've finally joined us..."
"It...took a while," she conceded, "but I am here. Angela?"
"I...am fine, mother..." she responded, turning slightly in Annika's lap to send her deep-set eyes to her mother's smiling face. "...and I am glad...to see...that you are back to normal..."
"What's happening to Sobek?" Annika gasped, causing the others to follow her gaze to a huddled Egyptian, wailing in pain, but not from the flames.
His anger had been set off once more, and only served to further mutate his body. His entire frame quivered violently, and when he at last pulled his hands away from his scalded face, through the putrid smoke, came nothing but a scarred ivory skull with a few meager scraps of muscular structure laying suspended from the bone. Sobek screamed, filling the cavern with his tormented howling. As the immortality spell worked to heal him, it caused his body to transform, breaking through his thick hide, tearing the final remnants from what was emerging from underneath. His brow spurs grew even longer, his body emerged with jagged spikes of bone, his wings enlarged. He was becoming a creature unpossessed of any skin, and only a thick layer of bone, forming around his deep crimson muscle as if a layer of armor, appearing almost more like an insect than a gargoyle.
"...mother?..." Angela fearfully inquired of her with but a word, being helped from Annika's lap, cautious of her wounds and maltreated body.
"The price of mixing magics, my daughter." she replied, a delight in seeing this man suffer, a sadness in seeing her last chance fade away, and a fear of being witness to his terrifying metamorphosis. "And he is paying for it..."
"But is he...weaker now?" Annika cut through, seeing waves of energy flowing from Sobek, losing control over his magical abilities. "Or even stronger?"
"I don't know." Demona did her best to lift her daughter from the ground, using her shoulder to support both her and Annika. "But right now, we should leave. Sobek is losing control of his powers, and he could perhaps bring down this entire structure." But as Demona attempted to drag the two gargesses from the main cavern, Angela fell away, and she barely maintained her balance before her daughter toppled and collapsed. "Angela?"
"...I guess...I was more hurt...than I thought..."
"Then perhaps I can be of some service."
The women looked up to see Goliath entering from a distant tunnel, having propped the unconscious winged ninja on his shoulder and stowed his recovered nunchuku in his belt. "Father..."
"My daughter. I see you succeeded in at last bringing back your mother." He smiled to Demona, who merely nodded, feeling the blush in her cheeks glow without her consent. "As stubborn as she is. Is everyone all right?"
"As all right...as can be expected..." Angela wheezed, a jest to lift her spirits, and those of the others. "What happened...to Shadow?"
"He took on the entire Pack, and won." Goliath explained, sensing the dark warrior barely moving upon his broad shoulder. "I found him near death in the midst of their...bodies, and was able to revive him. Yet I barely had time to check, and am unsure if any of them even survived..."
"Good...riddance." chuffed Angela.
"DEATH!!!!" screamed Sobek, lost in a haze of pure energy, creating a tempest surrounding his enlarged form. "DEATH TO ALL THOSE WHO OPPOSE ME!!!" The clan watched as the mutated Sobek slowly turned his face towards them, and his eyes of golden fire burned through each and every one of their hearts. He was not as a gargoyle any longer, far beyond the nightmares of any being, and any twisted imagination. "I AM KING!!!! I AM A GOD!!!!!"
"Fuck...he's gone pyscho..." Annika huffed.
"The magic is affecting his mind, making him even more unstable than before." Goliath guessed, with a nod of affirmation from Demona. He watched as a wave erupted from Sobek's trembling body, lashing out at the walls and shaking this tomb to it's very foundation. The energy released was growing exponentially, and rapidly out of control. "We should leave." Goliath scooped his daughter from the ground with one hand, and hefted Shadow higher on his shoulder. Demona followed behind with Annika, and paused only to grab the headdress granted to her by her king, and the clan then moved swiftly to the exit, as the currents of energy lapped at their skin.
"YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE LAST OF ME!!! I WILL DESTROY YOU ALL!!! I AM SOBEK, I AM YOUR GOOOOODDDDDD!!!!!"
"I take it the plan went successfully." said the CY.O.T.I. aircraft, as it allowed access to it's inner compartment to the five winged beings.
"Yes." Goliath snapped. "Now get us out of here."
"Powering engines. Please take your seats." As the gargoyles secured themselves, the craft lifted it's massive bulk gently from the ground, and soon propelled itself into the air. It circled around the lair a few times, and Goliath entered the cockpit and peered through the windows, seeing the inferno of a fusion of powerful magic burst through the opening from where they had originally escaped.
The gargoyle wondered why the computer intelligence was not taking them from this place, and instead, only looping in perfect circles around the dunes. "Why are you still here? We should be on our way back to Manhattan. We have wounded..."
"Just following my final orders." Suddenly, from each wing of the craft, came a trailing line of smoke screaming towards the visible portion of Sobek's lair. Powerful missiles had been launched, and impacted on the surface, lighting up the night sky with twin explosions, and gouging deep rifts in the sands.
"Why...why did you do that?!" Goliath bellowed, seeing the explosions erupt in fire and spread out almost as far as he could see, obliterating the lair beneath.
"Like I said, Mr. Maza, just following my orders."
"Given by whom?"
"Mr. Xanatos, of course."
Goliath sighed, and wiped his brow. "I suppose I should not be too surprised. Just get us back to New York, as fast as possible."
"Daughter?" Demona called out softly to her progeny, laying in her lap, the lavender female having been bandaged and allowed the chance to rest after the battle.
"Mother?" Her eyes fluttered, and opened to the soft cabin lighting, and found her mother staring down upon her.
"Are you comfortable?"
"Yes. And are you...you again?"
"My mind is clearing once more. It seems it only took a surge of adrenaline to help fend off the drugs. Thank you..." she continued, almost embarrassed. "For believing in me, and showing me the way back. In risking so much...for my life."
"You are my mother, and I love you. And I know you...would do the same for me."
Demona leaned over and gently kissed her daughter's forehead, as Angela's eyes once more closed, and she drifted off. She moved a few loose strands from the youth's face, and silently delivered her most profound gratefulness to those who continually watched over her only offspring.
Across from her, lay a bandaged Annika, perched against the opposing wall, settled into the benchseat, and clandestinely staring at the cerulean female whenever the chance presented itself. She unexpectedly unbuckled herself and walked the short distance to Demona's side and kneeled down to Angela's level. "Angela?" she called lightly, arousing the female once more.
"I was...thinking, and...I still need another bridesmaid. The job's still yours...if you want it."
Angela smiled and reached out to take Annika's hand. "It would be my pleasure."
Annika placed the lavender female's hand back onto her chest, and then lifted her eyes to Demona, who sat speechlessly and longingly, and Annika's smile swiftly fell away. "It scared me," she started, "the fact I wanted you to suffer, because I was so damn angry at you, and what you did. But it was wrong for me to think that way, for no one deserves what you went through tonight, and I'm...glad...you're safe...if only for Todd's sake. He considers you one of his best friends."
"Does this mean..."
"No. I'm...still angry. You hurt me, and it'll be hard to get over that. Maybe someday, I'll forgive you, and learn to trust you again..." she stood up, and glared down at her, "but not today."
"I know." Demona responded, seeing Annika walk away and enter the rear cabin, leaving her to cast charcoal eyes to the headdress beside her, a souvenir as it was, of the quest to overcome her pain. "Such is my penance..."
Goliath watched furtively from the cockpit interior, the members of his clan make their peace, and he smiled, in seeing the rifts beginning to heal over, and in time, perhaps all would be well between them again.
"A risky stratagem..." came a rasped whisper from the matching cockpit chair alongside, where the dark warrior had rested comfortably, and unconscious, until now. "In bringing those two." He opened his thin eyes, and just slightly turned his neck to look over at Goliath. "Why?"
"They now know there are greater things than petty bickering, and much worse fates than that of losing their friendship." he answered, crossing his arms, and peering through the tinted aircraft window, seeing the Statue of Liberty drift serenely beneath them in the growing luminescence of the morning light. "It needed to be done, to allow them the chance to mend. And in the end...I was not able to force my daughter to remain at home, when we risk our lives for her mother. I could not think of a greater punishment...that of not knowing..."
"Hmmm..." Shadow turned back, and watched with a peculiar feeling, that of comfort in seeing his adopted city flow past his deep mahogany, and knowing he would have the chance to hold his blossom in his arms before the sun rose above the horizon. He tended his hands over the bandages and salved wounds, and breathed cautiously through a freshly drained lung, preparing to be healed when turning to stone. "I suppose you were the one who pulled me out..."
"Yes. I found you nearly comatose in the middle of the Pack's bodies. Was it necessary...to be so brutal?"
"I didn't mean..." he paused, and reformed his answer. "...I did what I had to," he replied again, his tone edged with a growl, though with an underlying sadness, "to ensure they would never hurt anyone again."
Goliath tipped his chin up, and peered with burning eyes to the dark warrior. "How did you defeat them? They have always proved formidable foes."
Shadow never moved, his gaze still set defiantly through the window. "Do you think any survived?" he changed the topic quite blatantly. "And what do you think has happened...to Sobek?"
Goliath too leaned back into the sculpted leather seat. "I can only guess they have all been buried. And if the Pack managed to survive what you did to them, then the missiles for sure destroyed what was left."
"And if Sobek was not?"
"......He has become something...that truly frightens me. And I suppose...we can only wait, and guess at what he will do next..."