Author's Notes: Sorry this one took so long, but I am tired, and sometimes when staring at the screen, nothing comes, except when I lose consciousness, lean forwards and accidentally bang my head on the monitor. I'm trying to get season 5 over and done with as soon as possible, so please bear with me, my readers both faithful and casual. And another hearty thank you to all those who sent their birthday wishes to me, the old man getting steadily older (okay, as of the 20th of March I'm only 24, but still...), and maybe the fact I was gorged on booze and birthday cake during half my spring break and worked full time the other doesn't help the ol' creative process either. Go figure.

77 - "Red Sands Part 1: Sacrifices"

April 1st, 2002
It was hard, powerful rain condemning the island of Manhattan to a smeared, watery, dismal gray. Where clouds surrounded a city under siege from horizon to distant, obsidian horizon, enveloped under a blanket of thundering, primal power. In the farthest reaches of the sky, a distant lightning flickered and threatened to doom the entire heavens with sapphire flame, the air crackling with the static of electricity flashing amid the steel gray billows of the coming storm.

Castle Wyvern stood just underneath the clouds, plagued by a tempest and viciously pummeled by a weaponry of water transformed into screaming, razor projectiles. The ramparts were slick with the water pouring across the stones and cleansing the courtyard and turrets, wiping away months of grime and dust left over from the cold winter sheathe of snow. It pounded and struck and drove down so relentless it was almost enough to erode the majority of original stone having survived a thousand years in such gruesome weather. An eruption of thunder rumbled across the coating of ash above, nearly touching the castle with such untamed power journeying from one side of the sky to another.

And thus similar to the storm setting a blistering wound to the clouds outside, did the clan suffer within, above a city slowly descending into chaos with death and the threat of cleansing flame from those who claimed to be its ultimate savior.

She reached a hand slender, delicate, but strong and stanch to the door, almost dreading the confrontation she knew to be waiting just behind this simply ornamented slab of steel. Having returned from her shift, having done her best to calm the masses, Elisa now pressed her hand to the identification pad just to the side embedded in the stone frame, and instantly, did her verification of a handprint allow her access. The door slid open, and she was forced to stare into utter darkness.

She could smell him, granted the swift rush of his scent towards her when opening the sealed chamber to the rest of the castle, her body instantly reacting and her senses abruptly peaked when coming so near to him. A rustle of wings in the shadows gave presence to her husband, seated most likely in the massive chair facing the small collection of computer screens. Elisa remained in the doorframe, a slender silhouette distorted by the long leather jacket she wore, lending a light sheen when wetted by the rain. "Goliath?"

An answer of oblivion and fretful silence, as nothing moved, or allowed even a reply to her summons.

"Goliath, please answer." she tried again, when hearing the rustle of thick leather, a sound she knew all too well. For years she had trained herself to hear him, when awaiting his arrival to her terrace upon the eruption of dawn against the daytime sky. "Answer me damnit."

He damned her sweet aroma. He damned the taste of her invading upon his own powerful, unrelenting senses and rolling a floral, and almost honeyed flavor over his tongue. His mouth watered in her perfume, for it was far too powerful to resist, especially in this small, windowless room now thick with her human pheromone. "Elisa." he forced out, the succinct, bitter response proving his place in the armchair.

Her eyes were slowly adjusting, thinned and searching, and with the broken shafts of light spilling inwards, she caressed the outline of his soft, sable hair glinting from the computer screens. "We've barely spoken for a week." she whispered. "If only to make nice for Trinity to spare the fact her parents are at each other's throats."

It was a voice seemingly disembodied, abrasive and growling, "Your point being?"

She swallowed, and stepped inside, leaving the door open on purpose, perhaps fearful of being trapped within the darkness. With this man, and the anger he bred and forged within his heart as a deadly, volatile weapon. "You've hidden yourself away for the past week now." she continued, standing directly behind the chair, and knowing Goliath could see her with her reflection within the screens he faced. "We barely see you anymore...Brooklyn needs you to..."

"I am searching for the Guild," he interrupted quickly, evading anything having to do with the clan's newest leader, "in my own fashion. And I don't need the timedancer spouting orders at me."

"What about our daughter?"

Goliath searched for an answer lost far from his reach, knowing in his want to escape into isolation, he may have injured his youngest daughter the most. "I have spent time with her."

"What about me?"

Anger folded his brow, regret, and the bonds of love weakened to the point of shattering were ultimately tested once again. But he remained doggedly silent, and merely flicked his eyes to where the shadowed form of Elisa fell into a distorted mirror image bulged out on the screen towards him.

In a stillness indignantly cold, Elisa breathed a pained gasp, "So you're going to let our marriage fall just apart because of what I did?" She dug the large, arched heel of her boot into the stone flooring, slanting her hips and shoulders contrastingly to the other. "You're going to shut me out and forget eight full years of friendship and love?"

"I was not the one who sided against me," his voice bordered on a snarl, rising through the depths of an imposed silence, "I was not the one who delivered the final blow and removed me from my place with a decision that almost contradicts everything you wanted."

Elisa stripped away the falling layers of hair curtained on both sides of her face, straining her fingers through a fluid ebon in frustration. "My decision may have seemed like a contradiction to my greatest fears, Goliath," she explained regretfully, but resolutely, "but the clan needed to get out there, despite the risk to me...or to Trinity."

"You would risk the lives of your clan, your family, your daughter?"

"You didn't walk through the Central Park crime scene with two hundred and fifty charred bodies covered in sheets!" she screamed back, directing the fury of her screech towards the back of the chair, with Goliath closing his eyes in condolences to Elisa's witness of the recent P.I.T. bombing. "You didn't smell the burnt flesh, you didn't see some kid reduced to a pile of his internal organs when his flesh was burned off!" Her breath having ignited a flame towards him, Elisa calmed herself, and settled the uproar of nausea in her belly. "The clan has already done some good for this city. Within a week, they've helped the police force stretched to its limit to calm the city. They've stopped muggings, looting, robberies, probably prevented numerous deaths..."

Yet Goliath minded only one singular thought, that which first spurred his toppling from a throne awarded rightfully. "And has the Guild been found?" he asked almost condemningly, his voice laced with animosity so very unlike him.

"No," Elisa slowly shook her head, "but the clan is helping to keep order in a city in chaos." She crept forwards, seeing the outline of his broad, wing-caped shoulder loom into view, and her hand raised, trembling, wanting desperately to touch to the warm, leathery flesh. "That is their duty," her voice grew soft, though determined, "that is what they are."

"And if you believe I have forgotten that," he spit back, when a growl heaved from deep within his chest forged a path and danced through the still, stale air, "then you are far too presumptuous."

"Damnit..." Irritation sparked in the cinnamon gemstone of Elisa's narrowed gaze, as a strength of heart overshadowed any physical limitations compared to that of her mate. "I don't know why I even tried to come here and apologize! If you're too stubborn to even listen to why this happened in the first place, then maybe we shouldn't even try to fix this marriage!!"

Goliath immediately pulled the seven hundred pounds of his awesome frame onto massive, arched feet sustaining such weight, and violently swiped the chair aside to better face off against his wife. He stood, grew, towered to his fullest height, his wing struts grazing across the chamber's ceiling and draped imposingly in heavy orchid suede. They unfurled with a loud snap, sending a peculiar shiver through Elisa's body, now seemingly so frail in the presence of not her husband, but a beast standing in his place. "You yourself removed me from leadership!" he roared, his eyes baring raw malevolence in the deep onyx depths. "You yourself helped to cause all of this!"

"Do think I wanted to be put in that position?!!" yelled Elisa, her voice echoing through the entire chamber stifled by technology, a literal womb of computer screens and burdened hard drives cadenced in a singular heartbeat. "Do you think I took any joy in what happened last week?!! It tore my goddamned heart from my chest to go against you!!"

"Am I supposed to feel sorry for you now?!" His eyes flared, from dulled black to fiery white. "Am I supposed to forget all that has passed between us and forgive you because of that fact?! I am angry, Elisa, betrayed!!"

"You can feel whatever the hell you want! I deserve some of it, I know, but I won't be single-handedly blamed for all of this. I wasn't alone in my decision."

Goliath's barreled chest expanded with a fortifying breath, crossing the two slabs of mountainous muscle he claimed to be his arms against it. "I am more than aware of that fact. Instead of just my wife turning her back on me, it was my second, my brother, my former mate, and my oldest, dearest friend."

Snapping her head to the side followed by a wave of her hair, Elisa's lips trembled, her body welling with anger when unable to further argue her point against her husband's stubbornness. She reached inside her leather coat, and pulled out a small CD diskette complete with case and threw it towards him. It grazed past his side and skidded to a halt on the computer desk. "The coroner's report on the two baggage handlers at La Guardia last week." she whispered. "They were eaten." Goliath turned in a near ghoulish interest, yet his eyes betrayed the glacial exterior with the bare hints of fear trapped deep within an impenetrable wall of charcoal. Fear of an adversary unable to die, and unwilling to relinquish his machinations far beyond lunacy. "Brooklyn and the clan's shitting bricks over this. And so am I. This is too much like HIM." Elisa blinked once, twice, then released a shaken exhale through an ovaled mouth. "I guess you were right after all, I guess it's not the time to have another baby." she seethed acerbically, relenting to the fact he was perhaps right in the timing. That he was right to take away from her any semblance of normalcy.


Thinking he was speaking of the murders, Elisa then noticed his eyes had changed abruptly their direction and intensity, burning a trail past her and towards the open doorway. "What?" Elisa turned and found that a small shadow had marred the entrance to the computer room. Tiny, winged, precious, and branded in each of their memories. "Jalapena..."

Trinity slipped away, where tears had blinded large chocolate eyes and a sadness in seeing the two most important people in her young life attacking each other had been the ultimate breaking point. Her young sensibilities changed from the innocence once enveloped around her as a comforting blanket, she still could not fathom why they bickered and fought, or why their pain and hatred resonated so clearly.

Elisa instantly chased after her, her long jacket billowing behind her in her wild sprint as if she had as well grown wings to lift her across the stones. A bird of prey in flight, angling closer to snatch upon her target, and just as Trinity was about to turn a corner to escape into the labyrinth of the castle halls, Elisa slid across the ground to clutch the child to her chest. "Oh no you don't, squirt."

"No!!" Trinity shrieked, her lungs tearing into the air the wounded cry of a gargoyle, comparable only to her father and sisters. "No fight!! NO FIGHT!!!"

And despite Trinity's unrelenting struggle, Elisa held firm to a child stronger than most, soothing her with words spoken softly and into the lush fields of dark hair. "Shhhh, it's okay,'s okay..." Trinity curled her wings in around her to better hide away, as Elisa lay kisses to her cheek, drinking away the tears having run rampant across her flawless tawny skin.

Goliath had traveled half the length of the corridor in the chase, though watching from some distance as his wife comforted their daughter, quieting her babbled cries choked by sobs lodged deep in her throat. His form was limp and his wings sagged behind his shoulders, his noble features fallen and crushed, as was his pride and the honor he held to for so very long.

Elisa lifted her head and the couple linked their eyes, until Goliath dropped his in defeat, and turned, and walked away. "Shhhh, it's okay, Trini," she whispered, returning her attentions to her daughter, the hybrid grasping tiny, taloned hands into her shirt and resting against her soft chest, "it's okay."


Through the rain-smeared backdrop of swirling clouds, infrequently lit by the arcs of lightning trawling through the depths, they arrived home. Soaked nearly to the bone, their clothing, from delicate Japanese silk to thick Scottish leather, hugged their forms and clung uncomfortably to their flesh. Under the uncompromising scrutiny of the elaborate network of security cameras and using their wings to help scatter the rain as membranous umbrella, they raced to the entrance, and burst through the door into the welcomed warmth and glowing light of the castle corridor.

Allowing Shadow an entrance, Broadway pushed the thick gate closed against the winds and rain slicked into a puddle and reaching across the floor, Sata roamed her hands through the fallen, sopping strands of hair spindled through her horns and dropping a steady stream of water onto her brow. She shook her wings and rid the sails of any excess moisture, and spit into the air a muted growl, annoyed at such weather having entrapped them when in mid-patrol.

"I HATE rain." Sata muttered, seeing as her kimono openly bared through the thinner sections a dulled emerald jade. An almost seductive display of flesh and sculpted, willowy curve.


Her field of view blighted suddenly by a sheet of white, the samurai snatched on instinct the object thrown against her. A soft terry towel, and Sata would appreciate the gift if not given by a man whom she directed the brunt of her frustration against. "Arigatou." she whispered, running the towel over her features to entrap the water glossed on her skin.

Broadway as well grasped a larger towel heaved towards him, and lowered into place a thick precipice of bone over a skeptical glare. "Playing nice for the malcontents, are we?" he bullied, as Brooklyn approached them seemingly impervious to the barb, deflecting it from a skin of steel needed to better reign in such defiance from his troops.

"Funny, really funny." he shot back to a brother who had yet to fully accept his change in position, and revolved his attention to perhaps someone who would not slight him so easily. He trickled close to Sata with shorter steps, cautious, as the samurai wringed her long, raven locks through the towel. "Anything?"

"No sign." came Broadway's dark tone, choosing to answer anyway. "As usual."

When finished, Sata folded the towel and draped it tidily over her mate's shoulder, sweeping back the tendrils having escaped over her shoulders and forcing them back into place. "It seems an almost futile endeavor."

"Is protecting lives futile, aisai?"

"One week and we have found absolutely nothing." she countered coolly. "Do you still believe your insurrection was worth it?"

Brooklyn crossed his arms, his own powerful physique impressive and daunting, and holding an imposing presence as mate and leader towards the displaced warrior he loved. "I wouldn't have gone through with it if I didn't."

"Nor would I." maintained the ninja, his shadowed form only outlined by the beads of water dripping from muscle and protruding spur, and bouncing the light from the crystal surface. Sata gathered her face into a slight sneer.

"You and I both know our presence out there has already helped." Brooklyn continued.

"Or it has exposed us." Sata remained steadfast, though her voice had relented the steeled, razor edge once contained, her eyes trading the cold fire for a weak smile all but content. "We have helped many, yes, but at what cost to our clan, what cost to our us." Sata leaned in and pressed her lips onto Brooklyn's cheek, curling a hand up over the other side of his face to trace nimble talons across his strong features. To bind him whilst she feasted on shocking scarlet, and relayed a message all too obvious in a kiss devoid of passion, her tearing between duty and love. "It is not just my fear of exposure, Brooklyn-san," she whispered into the crook of his neck, her voice a husky, hazardous purr, "but the fact this family just may be beyond any healing. If you'll excuse me, LEADER." She took her leave, drifting away in matronly stride, and leaving an absence on her mate all too frigid where once there lay tepid, satin flesh.

A sigh released when forced to contend with his own marital plight, Brooklyn swept his gaze to Broadway. The largest of the rookery trio sometimes thought to be an oafish, burly boor, but he posed remarkable intelligence in just his eyes, and in his proud stance. "You too?"

"You don't deserve that title, Brook," he handed the towel back to his kin, "and this is wrong. Something big's coming, and we need Goliath. And not someone who's never been in command before."

The timedancer creased his hardened mug, his beak from tip to taper engulfed in a cynical scowl. "You yourself have been the most assertive out there, Broadway." he challenged. "Makes me think you'd be great as a second in command the way you took to the streets under my orders."

He nodded, not to the gracious offer dripping with sarcasm, but to the million years of evolutionary instinct allowed freedom from captivity. "I admit, it's good to be of some help, but this is different, it almost feels wrong to be flaunting ourselves outside." Broadway's hands surfaced and rose upwards, to better mimic the vivid mental picture he would create. "Like we're flashing a big neon light pointing towards the castle."

Shadow grunted, snorting a breath in Broadway's comment. "Gargoyles protect." the shinobi growled. "And we will not find those who wish destruction upon us by hiding ourselves in a castle and waiting for them to come and slaughter us."

"Along those same lines," Brooklyn resumed, though his tact made up for Shadow's grated severity, "we don't let innocent humans get hurt by fear and panic erupting all around us."

"Goliath knows that, and he weighed the city's need for protection versus our very survival. And call me selfish, but I don't really feel like watching Angela or anyone else die any time soon." Broadway brushed past his brother, and down into the halls, presumably to find comfort with his mate.

"The soldiers are restless."

Brooklyn groused a deep, hard-bitten breath with the remark having come from an adjoining passage, "Xanatos."

The billionaire stepped out from his concealment, his dark suit acting as a perfect compliment to the shadows having blanketed him from view. "How does the weight of leadership feel?" he chirped, his errant grin thinning his goatee into a sharpened, sable veil of neatly trimmed hair. "Especially when half of your clan does not feel as if you should be leading." Out of all that plagued the clan, he could at least take the enjoyment of watching Brooklyn stumble in the proverbial darkness. A wicked thing no doubt, but one of the few pleasures he was granted in such a time of war and death.

And in sullen response, Brooklyn grumbled, "They seem to be okay with it, the ones who sided with Goliath. But I think mostly they're doing it out of respect for him and his words to do so despite what they think of me."

"It's hard to fill such large shoes, is it not?" Xanatos sneered, his arms placed nonchalantly behind his back, standing as a king in regal bearing. "Particularly when the leader you disposed of was well-loved, esteemed, and of course, legally owns the castle you lead HIS clan from."

Brooklyn jumped his brow, and smiled, with Shadow simply sneering. "Let me guess, another Goliath supporter."

"I wouldn't go as far as that, but it's taken me five years to get where I am with Goliath without him wanting to tear something valuable from my body." he jested, though his words holding an alarming truth, his relationship with Goliath a tenuous one built on mistrust and suspicion. "I am forced though to question your actions, especially when it's my family at risk as well."

"You chose to stand with us a long time ago." Brooklyn's voice walked the edge of a snarl, and his eyes lipped with the white fire of primal rage. "And you know damn well we've given to you as much as you've granted us."

"Yes, I am well aware. But the entire island and surrounding area has been scoured many times over and still, your clan," he changed the word used, only slightly, but held the emphasis intact, "has had no luck whatsoever."

Brooklyn relented his attack, and decided on a new approach against a formidable opponent. "I know, but we've also done more good than harm. And you'd think with the Guild's ambition to kill all gargoyles, and even their allies no matter how remotely associated, with such tenacity, they'd attack us instantly if they knew where we are."

Xanatos crooked an eyebrow, settling the lines drawn on his face into a grave cast. "Perhaps they do." he whispered. "And perhaps they are merely using this time to mobilize against you."

"Against US, you mean."

Xanatos redirected his gaze elsewhere, with Brooklyn watching intently his eyes having glazed over, stolen of the once clear steel. "...yes."

He was acting calm, aloof even, far too detached for the newest leader's predilection. "You seem distant, Xanatos."

He stiffened, but guided features relaxed and almost surprised in the accusation towards the beaked gargoyle. "Really? I hadn't noticed." He straightened the cuff on his shirt, pulling the sleeve from underneath his double-breasted suit jacket. A nervous twitch perhaps, or just a necessity to keep his appearance anxiously immaculate. "Well, if you'll excuse me, Brooklyn, I have some affairs to attend to. Please, don't try to destroy Goliath's castle in your tenure. I'm sure he'll blame me as usual."

"Yeah...sure, Xanatos." Brooklyn mumbled under his breath, seeing the billionaire practically escape from the conversation with his secrets and the air of mystery he enjoyed and surrounded himself with all too damnably intact. The voted leader shored his chest, dusting impulsively the breastplate molded to the pectoral and held in place with a heavy leather strap. "That man is too damned calm." he mentioned idly, flicking his eyes to the ninja, who nodded suspiciously in return. "Makes me think he's up to usual."

"Up to something??" It came from nowhere, a voice led by curiosity and an entity leaving behind her a wake of anger and annoyance wherever she may roam. Freed by the golden bracelet to walk the halls alongside her captors, Nicole St. John now somehow burst into view alongside Brooklyn. "Trouble with the landlord?" she cheered, berating the leader even as his beak collapsed into a scowl.

"Trying to scoop another interview, St. John?" Brooklyn seethed, turning away from the small human woman and shooing her away. "Go play with Bronx or something and stay out of trouble."

But she headed him off, quick in step and steadfast in her desire, his path interrupted by her lithe form and a determination far too reaching for what her mortal human shell would perhaps survive. A quality that almost got her killed when being hunted for her very life and skin by the dark warrior. "Oh come on," Nicole nearly reduced herself to begging, "Goliath usually gave me the passing glance like he wanted to rip my head off. You I think might be different." Her brow then rose incriminatingly. "And if I'm going to be imprisoned here, then I might as well make the most of it."

Rubbing his hand to his temple, Brooklyn snapped and unleashed the brunt of rage welling up as a throbbing ache in his chest, "You want a soundbite, St. John? You want some more dirt?! How's this..." He leaned in, as the reporter was forced back. "I'm facing a war on two fronts, and now have a little annoying pest crawling up my ass, and if said pest doesn't shut her mouth, stop asking so many damned questions and behave, I'm going to ensure no one ever hears from that pest again!" With Shadow almost breaking the glacial surface with a smile, Brooklyn swept away.

"Is that any way to treat your prisoner?!" she screamed at his retreating form, reduced to a pout. "He's as bad as Goliath...jerk..."

"Are you quite finished, St. John?" came a wild rasp from behind, sending a paralyzing chill down the reporter's spine.

Nicole turned around, only to face against a massive slab of darkness inhaling from the surroundings all light no matter how bright or intense. "S-Should I even ask?"

Shadow bore down upon her as if he was sizing up his prey, and he knew by the sudden aroma, a sweetened saline brine drifting from her opening pores, that she truly feared him, especially his proximity. His eyes were narrowed and rose on each side in a sharpened slant, a proud history and heritage contained within such a simple physical trait, penetrating from underneath a horned, tattooed brow deep into her own widening gaze. He traced a single bead of sweat appearing from underneath the feathered curls of hair resting against her forehead, and bared his teeth. "I don't like you." he hissed, his voice brawled from the massive cavity of his chest. "And if I had my choice in what to do with you, it would be to use you as target practice instead of allowing you to even share our home. I actually find myself wanting for another escape attempt." His breath encircled her skin and nipped at her flesh like the jaws of a beast. "To better show you what I am TRULY capable of." With a growl released and left to haunt her, he continued on.

"How's the kid?" Nicole then cast her voice down the hall, reverberating in en even higher tone, shrill, and as if to cross glass it would shatter. "I mean the fetus, or embryo or whatever it's now officially two days old, isn't it?"

He knew she was speaking of the recent and successful conception of Delilah's child, his child, only to feed the fires ever burning within his heart.

"Iliana's a good woman to allow you to throw around your sperm so freely."

That served to halt the gargoyle quickly. Shadow stopped and peered over his shoulder, as Nicole held up her hands to sway whatever penance she may elicit from even allowing her breath to strum across the castle air in his presence. With the reporter temporarily cowed, the ninja vanished into the darkness of the smaller corridor, an incredible feat by his size and incredible immensity.

"Damn," whispered Nicole, saved from perhaps a gruesome reprisal for yet another night, "everyone around here is so high-strung."


He had moved so quickly, it was hard to keep to his rapid, erratic pace, and at last she caught him when entering a private room and corridor once banned to the winged creatures of Wyvern's past. Gliding softly through the doors as to make not a sound, she sauntered inwards into a chamber cavernous and majestic even when bathed in total darkness. The distant lightning foreshadowed the storm, filtered through the bay windows in softened, anarchic bursts, broken into slatted beams through the glass streaked by rain. It brimmed with the glutted scent of life and family, a mingling of her brother and the human he shared his life with. A reminder of what she had regained through an extraordinary resurrection, and what she had yet lost with her hesitance a thousand years ago.

He stood a lonely vigil near the window, arms crossed and a breath so heavy it was heard even over the outlying thunder and the rain against the walls. An angry stance, his wings had flared, his shoulders heaved in tempo with his chest from a fiery, guttural breath, and she approached cautiously. He must have known by his powerful senses she was here with him or perhaps his anger consumed him wholly and smeared the edges of the world outside his own private pain.

She reached out to him, the lavender flesh quivering and pulsating, with the smallest of striations of muscle rippling in a temper stretched to the limits, brought on by fatigue and the aftermath of yet another battle tolling a near catastrophic cost. Her small hand teased the air tentatively the air just above the skin, the warmth exuded so thick as to have a sensation all its own. She eventually touched to him, eliciting a sudden tremor to her intimate contact, but he yet relented and allowed her to soothe his broad shoulder with a gentle rake of her talons. "Another argument with your mate." she presumed aloud, drawing with her talontips four trails across her backside, for only in solace and plutonic comfort was she allowed to ease his pain.

Forced to love from afar. And forced to fend off the call of mating when besieged by the sweet scent of pheromone of the breeding season.

Goliath swallowed a breath gruffly, closing his eyes to the subtle pleasure his sister offered. He knew it was she. By aroma and contour and a unique bond he knew it would be her, if not Desdemona or Angela, to come to him when he needed support. "My sister." he answered broodingly, grappling still with the anger from his exchange with Elisa. "Yes, you are right. Yet again, Elisa and I are engaged in some war against each other."

"Is this from her vote to dispose you?" she asked of him, coming around to his side, her hand yet to leave his skin.

"It is from everything, the attacks, my decisions, our family..." Goliath closed his eyes and kneaded a furrowed brow, and the lost sister found his pain far too evident to ignore. "It seems as if we are standing on either side of some great chasm, and I have no wings to fly to her. I am powerless to make everything right once more."

"And yet," she reached up to run a hand over his ridges, to both alleviate his pain and satisfy a burning want, "there is something else you hold within you."

"It is nothing." he evaded quickly, pulling away from his sister's hand.

"No, there IS something, and you must release it before it destroys you, or forces you to act rashly."

Goliath closed his eyes, his wide shoulders wilting and his wings growing heavy. "I find myself, for the first time in two long, wondrous years...questioning our marriage."

She simply nodded, and swayed his fears, "Matings are never perfect, but do you think she actually meant to hurt you?" Stepping closer, she studied him intently, and the ardent charcoal reflecting her radiant pumpkin skin. "She is perhaps more like you than you realize. She is someone who always stands up for what she believes is right, just like you."


"But." she interrupted, a smile strikingly infectious spreading on a small, pouting mouth, with lips like dark ruby. "But you were hurt, yes, you were embarrassed, and your pride was wounded. I understand." Her hands had somehow made their way to his chest, the erratic breath calmed and the fire kindled like a blast furnace now tempered. "Elisa chose to follow her instincts and do what she thought best, even if it meant going against the man she loves more than anything. Like Brooklyn and the rest. And even though you were hurt by those actions, you must let it go. You must act like the leader I believe you are, and continue on."

The great creature not unlike a human but so radically different in appearance merely shook his head and released a sigh. A slight chuckle escaped unwontedly through pursed lips, even through the rage simmering just beneath a barrier adamantly private. "How do you know me so well?" he spoke clearly, his voice more akin to intelligence and humanity than most of those two thousand feet below.

"I know you, brother, for we have shared much in our life."

He nodded to mimic an earlier gesture, where his mouth flattened somewhat in the best version of a smile he could give. "And I am...glad you are back in my life, my clever sister." Goliath whispered, with the young gargess smiling in the compliment given without any indecision. "I have truly," he brushed a few fingers through the strands of dark, mottled blond, addictingly silky, her scent inviting, "missed you."

She leaned against his chest, craning her neck to better drown in the alluring darkness that was his eyes, and in the sealed womb of clandestine pitch, far from anyone intruding, they drew even closer and embraced.


They were many. They were whole. They were strong.

Truly massive in number and clad in dark clothing, where only the mottled, multi-hued flesh outside of the dark textile gave any color beyond the barren black of their uniforms, they stood to attention. Resembling unassuming, modern dress suits, they were stronger, thicker, made of resistant Kevlar and pocketed within the dark fabric lay their lethal and brutally unsophisticated weaponry. The entirety of the Guild were gathered into the largest hangar, and directed a collective, hungry gaze above to a single catwalk stretched from wall to wall. There were hundreds, nay, even thousands of them, without a space left upon the steel flooring to wedge yet another member into the crowd.

He took his place above them, leaning on the precarious iron railing to better watch over his kingdom built from the ashes of a ruined experiment, of a dream not yet fully realized. He was known only by a simple moniker, his striking features aged and lined by streaks of sterling in his hair and goatee. He was Mr. Black, and to some, it was a laughable pretense, suitable not for the leader of an organization that promised raw power and godlike intentions to wipe any species away that did not conform to their concept of normalcy. "It's time." he announced clearly, his deep voice floating above the crowd, and drawing an awed hush to his words. He was neither rushed nor nervous in his speech, only absolutely sincere. "This is what we have gathered for, what we have given our time, and for some of you, your very lives for. We are about to test fate and enter the lion's den."

An enormous screen flickered into use on the near wall, and the crowd turned slightly to peer unto the image projected above them. Where the stars aligned themselves into a protective stance about the cold-riveted spire that pierced the heavens by one man's resilience and insatiability, and that which housed and bred the most fantastic of creatures beyond even that of heaven or hell.

"It was named castle Wyvern by the ruling Scottish family who constructed it on the cliffs facing the Atlantic Ocean." he continued, his eyes deep and unreflective of the flickering screen, so dark and dismally gray they devoured the light. "It now sits atop the Eyrie building, where the clan of gargoyles roosts, and where our attack will commence." The screen changed, and flipped through an entire three hundred sixty degree revolution around the castle structure, where shadowed ramparts held behind the fitted stones a clan of beasts cloaked in wing, tail and devil's horn. "We must take the fight to them, as firing any weaponry towards the castle will undoubtedly place any innocents in danger from falling debris or structural damage to the building itself. This is a surgical strike, get in, kill the beasts, get out." A series of schematics overlaid the image, showing the internal plans of the castle made public by Xanatos years ago, perhaps to boast his newest purchase. "We've had Wyvern under surveillance for some time now, and as far as we can tell, there are no outward defensives save for a sophisticated network of security cameras. In the last week alone, we have witnessed almost twenty different creatures flying to and from what seems to be their home, including the large one dubbed the shadow."

The viewscreen flashed through the blurred pictures of each gargoyle in almost frightening physical detail, the Guild's surreptitious observation impressive, and deadly to those they watched. "They are strong, resilient, lethal." Black spewed half-truths, and allowed them the worst side of the gargoyles, his own opinion almost grown into an adamant creed taken to heart by his followers. "And they have no qualms in slitting your throat with their claws, I myself have seen it firsthand. If you hesitate in killing one of die." He shut off the screen, for he wanted his image, his very voice to be the lasting sound that dominated their memories, and guided their hands, which became his hands, in their quest. "This is the culmination of everything we have fought for, the cleansing of creatures and their allies who would so willingly spread themselves into our city and cause such destruction." he was speaking of a personal pain now, his past bloody and his family taken by familiar taloned hands. "This is a war for our species' very survival, against an evolutionary process that granted humanity with superior intellect and the ability to reshape our own destiny, but cursed us with the demons from our very mythology. Our sources indicate these creatures are spreading, and have been sighted all over the planet. England, Japan, China, Mexico, Russia...the list is extensive and their reach is vast. But tonight, we take back our city, then our world, and we set right evolution."

The stadium lights suspended from the ceiling opened up the hanger beyond him, to alight the steel chariots they were to ride into battle, five massive, raven-painted helicopters perched behind him and flanked by two smaller attack vehicles, holding on each wing bundled missiles and gatling guns. "We remake this world for humanity alone, we make it whole once more. United." Black lifted with his hand a mask, black, and conformed to fit perfectly to his features. He placed it to his face, the mask just covering his eyebrows, curving down on the line of his cheekbones and rounding down under his chin, and it sealed to the skin with a hiss. Almost featureless, and aggressively bare, with only two white eyes glowing from the darkness. "Saddle up," a last order given, his voice filtered mechanically through three breathing slits on each side of the mask, "and Godspeed to you all."

A triumphant cheer erupted through the crowd, spreading like fire to even the most fearful of Guild members with their chance at last to fulfill their mission. Those chosen to be the attack squad donned their masks and started towards the helicopters, five Sikorsky MH-53H troop carriers, and a pair of AH-66 Comanche Warriors, the finest of American weapons technology now carrying a force of over three hundred soldiers, the best trained, and the deadliest of fighters.

The roof above them shuddered above the girders crisscrossed into an unbreakable frame, and with a thunder rippling down the metal walls to rival the coming storm outside, it split into two doors and lethargically slid open to reveal a slim crack of night sky. The ceiling moved away, where the veins of lightning weaved and frolicked through the clouds in a game known only to the tormented cries of nature. The rain dripped through from the ceiling's bared edges and surged a near blinding sheet into the hangar bay, dancing across the helicopter's sleek hides. The air was thrown mercilessly around the helicopters by the rotors powering up, reciprocating a fury all its own against the growling squall pressing down upon them heavy rain and powerful winds. The vehicles lifted one by one into the sky, technology versus nature in the rightful claim to the skies as the mantle of cloud enveloped the helicopters into its swirling grasp.

Their path was chaotic, the pilots fighting against the weather and the storm almost on top of Manhattan, but their direction was a straight line unwavering, that of the tallest building in the world.


The church was silent, and deathly still, save for the callous laughter of rain spattering across the rising spires and bell-tower of the rooftop, and over the stained-glass windows, each transformed into smeared canvases. The shadows loomed, brought to life by the candlelight, and spurred into a waltz across every surface with every touch of wind that crossed the tiny flames. He trawled through the lavish decoration, sparse, but comforting and simplistically striking to any visitor to the refuge. He felt uneasy though, as if what skin remained on his mutated form would crawl and shiver with the blessed remnants of human religious history. It reeked of humanity, and wood and burning candlewick, and varnish, and he found himself denouncing his superior senses if only to be spared the lingering fragrance of sweat and musk and a fusion of perfumes left to hang in the air.

He hated this, he loathed being entrenched in the very nesting grounds of humankind for so long without allowing the human filth to burn within the dry fires flowing through his veins. But he knew only patience and prudence would allow him access what he sought for so long. And thus, he calmed his dementia for an intellect, and he sated his desires for another time save for one consuming thought, biting his tongue to ward off the hunger.

The building around him at least provided a protection, a sanctuary perhaps from all that which teemed with human life around him, and he now held this place as his own, stolen from the solitary watcher. He lumbered close to the figure held up without mercy for comfort, feeling his tattered wings bouncing on the bony, armored plates on his back with each step. He drifted close, and bathed his captor in the gnarled shadow that was his alone. She was delicate, frail, and bound from a rafter arched between the louvered support columns, hanging from chains wrapped around her wrists in morbid similarity to the carved effigies of the lord's son surrounding them.

"Wake up, human," he growled into her scarred face, as the woman mumbled and rose from the depths of exhausted slumber, "it is time, and you are at last needed."

Her eyes ebbed, her only refuge of dreams washed away and stolen from the heated breath swathed against her skin. She mumbled under her breath, a slurred language brought on by fatigue and hunger, and nearly imperceptible. She lifted eyes up to a barely humanoid shape of bulging muscle held together by bony plates and protrusions erupting from the sinew colored in blood and scarlet. Up the plated chest she roamed her blurred, tired gaze, and upon a face appearing almost as a skull, where inside the deep-set sockets two dark, burning eyes glared upon her.

"You ARE a wretched creature, aren't you, human?" he whispered, stroking a claw over her cheek, where the flesh torn away by fire provided a slightly rougher texture to his more precise sensation of touch. "Burned, scarred, bereft of beauty to any man. In the most disgusting of similarities, we are perhaps alike, but where as my damaged form actually allows me greater strength, yours only bestows pity and mercy from those more attractive than you." The mutated gargoyle breathed a malicious laughter between the jagged, wildly spurred skull's separation into his mouth. "I would feast upon you, human," he warned, as the woman flinched in terror when he grazed his teeth and tongue over her exposed skin, "but right now you are far more valuable to me as a lure to attract my prize. A shame..."

"...they'll...stop you...demon..." she managed just barely, her voice weakened from malnourishment, her throat raw from lack of water.

Her rebellion sparked a mischievous flame in the dark tarn of obsidian surrounded by pallid, ocher-tainted bone, enjoying her strength to continually defy him. "Such strength of soul." he applauded the resistance she offered after almost a week at his mercy. "Such passion from an inferior species. I knew I chose well when deciding to house myself in this decrepit church. And imagine my surprise when discovering you knew of clan Wyvern...what a perfectly vicious little circle. But as for your friends, they are fractured, and I hope according to my inside source, far too gone to mount a suitable defense." He forcefully clenched a hand around the nun's throat, cutting off her air supply and dropping her jaw in a slacked, silent plea for mercy. "But at the moment, I am only interested in one of them, the very foundation they depend upon, even if he does not currently lead them. Your usefulness shall at last begin, sister."

He wrenched her from the chains and dragged her across the floor by her neck to where a computer monitor station lay awaiting his commands. A recent addition to his temporary home, it had already served him many times in communicating outside of the church. He pulled the human woman up and threw her onto the heavy oak table holding the sophisticated equipment so out of place, releasing her to fight for the sweet embrace of breath from a bruised throat. He held her still with a hand clasped to the back of her neck, effectively pinning her to the table and ceasing any struggle the exhausted nun had left to give.

She spit, she wheezed, she gritted her teeth. But stolen was her strength to fight back, and instead, she spilled a lone tear over the veneer surface in her frustration and fear.

"Stop struggling," the gargoyle hissed, his power enough to shatter the spinal cord and crush her neck with a mere twist of his wrist, "or I will remove a body part. I only need you alive for but a moment, but the agony I can put you through until then may convince you to behave." With the woman's forced silence, he powered up the computer station, and used the modem access to tap into the phone lines, and make a call. As the number dialed into the system, Sobek pressed down just that much harder to elicit a cry of pain from the nun entrapped underneath his claw. "You will serve me well, human, to bring to me my prize. I am restless, and wish to play..."

"...Eyrie Building..." a voice then answered, most likely the security guard manning the foyer desk, and projected clearly over the communications system speakers. "...How may I help you?..."

"David Xanatos, please." he spoke in a dulled, soft tone, unworldly, and not like the monster his mutated form presented forth.

"...I'm sorry, but it's past business hours. Is this urgent?..."

It appeared almost as a smile, creasing bone and exposed muscle, a chilled grin that ran as malevolent as the fires of hell. "Very. Just tell's an old friend."


"You're sure about this, Mother?"

The hologram appeared to flicker slightly, as if reading through her findings once again. "Yes," she answered, floating across the stones beside the new leader, "though my sensors are slightly impeded by the storms." She powered another set of screens perched onto the technology seeping from the ceiling. "There are several aircraft heading directly towards us, from the southern tip of Long Island. Roughly twenty three minutes away."

Brooklyn's features fell immediately, when the small burning sensation hidden beneath his breastplate, there since his move from second to leader, now became as a maelstrom twisting his ribcage and sending a shiver through his arm touching to the keyboard. He dreaded this from ever arising, and just maybe, being proven wrong. They had perhaps found the clan, this being far too coincidental to pass off as routine air traffic perpetually blemishing the skies and tearing thunder in a rippling clap over the island. And now it was heaved upon his shoulders to deal with, but he took the weight in stride. He had no choice but to. He was voted from the majority to lead them, and he had willingly taken that massive, empty throne still warmed from the previous occupant.

He continued watching the screen as if it had mesmerized him, the radar layout Mother provided showing a small collection of blips guiding themselves ever closer towards the shores of Manhattan and the Eyrie. Brooklyn's beak curled, as did his tail, and he unconsciously dug his talons into the desk. "Mother...assemble the clan."


"Maria, we canna leave it like this..."

The bedridden captain turned away from him, and tried her best to disguise the sobs coughed out in sputtered breaths. "Brooklyn's called for you, Hudson. Just go."

Hudson reached out hesitantly to brush a large, comforting hand over Maria's shoulder, but she violently shrugged it off when it grazed past the sleeve of her hospital gown. "Maria, I did what I had to...please..."

She immediately threw herself around and aimed at him eyes sheltered by tears rimming the edges of her swept, dewy lashes. "You sold out your leader, your friend, because you wanted revenge!!" she screamed back, her voice a piercing yelp ripped from her throat. Hudson was forced back by the power of her screech, and the contortion of her features into a spiteful mask not her own. "But I guess it's my fault for ever believing you could make that promise to me, that you wouldn't risk yourself or your clan for some sort of stupid, pointless vengeance."

"Nay," he fought back, "it was for th' better of th' clan. It was t' take matters into our own hands an' find those who took our baby before they be hurtin' anyone else."

The droop of her mouth showed she believed otherwise, and she crumpled back into the bedding. "I hope you understand what you did with your part in the voting." she whispered painfully. "I don't think I can never trust you again. Trust you to be the strength I need."


She rolled over and burrowed into the sheets, using the darkness surrounding her as cheated comfort. "Please...j-just go..."

His tattered wings drawn limp to his sides, Hudson nodded and slowly padded away towards the infirmary exit, his great hearing tormenting him with the muffled sobs of the woman he loved, and in some small way, betrayed.


Brooklyn turned from the hologram to where the entirety of the clan had now gathered, circled around him and awaiting the purpose of their brusque, uninformative summons to the media room. He filled his lungs with a breath long and drawn out to better calm his nerves, in seeing the condemning glares passed to him by the supporters of Goliath, but he waved them off, deciding instead to concern himself with the moment at hand. "Mother has detected several aircraft heading straight for us." he started, forcing the issue to become greater than any petty bickering between the two factions subconsciously dividing the clan. "It may be the Guild, we don't know for sure, but maybe somehow..."

"Perhaps somehow they have found us." finished a new voice, deep, angry and seeming to burst from the shadows. "Perhaps they were drawn to us with our exposure."

"Well, Goliath." Brooklyn greeted the last of the clan to the media room, with Elisa noticing Goliath's demeanor having radically changed, and relieved she had left Trinity in the care of Fox, far from where the tiny hybrid could see her father become a vessel malformed by hatred and anger. "How nice of you to finally join us."

The lavender giant tramped into the room, an apprehension well deserved by flaunt of a bulging stature and restless, turbulent mannerisms. And behind him, the lost sister, appearing to sweep back hair tussled and out of place, her cheeks rather blushed to Elisa's keen notice. "My apologies, we were...detained."

"You know, Goliath, I've been patient all week," growled Brooklyn bitterly, "but I'm getting sick of your refusal to even listen to me, especially when your defiance helps to place lives in danger."

"I believe the greatest danger is the man now in control of the clan."

Spurred on by the promise of a fight, Brooklyn lunged forth to argue further, but spared were they both by yet another visitor to the room.

"Goliath," intruded Xanatos, entering through the arched doorway and wedging himself and a shaken voice into a coming verbal brawl, "there's a call for you." His face was pallid, almost white, and those who noticed were in awe of what could frighten him so much, what could melt the glacial ice. Goliath angled up a browridge, a curiosity in just who would be calling him now, and with Xanatos' downtrodden features, he knew it to be serious. "I believe you should take this, Goliath..."

"Mother," Goliath moved past Brooklyn and towards the massive, yawning screen facing the clan from across the room, "please route the message to the main screen."

It flickered to life with the computer sentience's command, and in full view of all watching, came a narrowed facade of serrated, starched bone molded into a skull, with the brow spurs of a gargoyle rising in a familiar if not twisted crown. Burrowed into the skull-shaped bone and beneath a thick, vaulted brow the hollows held soulless eyes that smoldered with malevolence.

Goliath heaved his chest, a grated purr swelling into a growl and rolled over protruding lips, "Sobek."

"Oh man," Lexington cringed, as did the others upon the result of Sobek's mutation from conflicting magicks, "what happened to his face?"

"Hello, Goliath," he swooned, feasting upon the lavender giant's expression, a peculiar melding of disbelief and fury, "it' good to see you again."

"I see you somehow squirmed your way from the rubble, psychotic."

Sobek cricked his neck, the exposed muscle of his body glistening, bulging repulsively with arteries and veins threaded throughout the sinew pulsing with every beat of his heart. "Yes, you buried me alive, Goliath," snarled Sobek, the smile lessening some when refreshed of the memory of having a thousand tons of rubble crushing his body for almost six agonizing months, "that serves to IRRITATE me. And thus I will destroy humanity and remake the entire world for gargoyles etcetera...I'm sure I've bored you with such a tedious declaration before." A low cackle made greater when fed through the speakers rumbled across the floor, touched each of the clan with a cold swipe. "But this time is different, I never thought I would lower myself for the unsophisticated initiative of revenge, Goliath, but the fact you continually ruin such well crafted plans is starting to get tiring."

"Get to the damned point, psychotic!" Goliath snarled, with Elisa sidling close to her husband, the very voice of Sobek raising a trail of goosebumps across her flesh. "What do you want from us now?!"

"Not the rest, Goliath...just YOU." To prove his intentions, Sobek clenched his talons around the back of his captive's neck and raised her in view of the communications camera, knowing she was full and well displayed onto the Wyvern viewscreens. "I want to play a game..."

Never expecting to see the caretaker from his childhood spent in the orphanage in the clutches of a psychotic, and hell-bent for the annihilation of his species, Todd's eyes exploded open, his breath stuttered, "R-Rose?"

"The rules are quite simple, Goliath." continued Sobek, closing his hand only slightly to exert tremendous pressure on Rose's neck.

"Let me guess, if I don't come, you'll promise to kill her. How original." Goliath spit, unimpressed by a ploy used far too many times. "I thought perhaps you would learn something new when buried underneath the Egyptian sands."

"Ah, but here's the twist..."


A quick snap of leather and the cleft of a steel blade being unsheathed sent a shiver through the weakened nun, as Sobek's long, curved sword gleamed ominously before her gaze. He teased the sword's tapered edge down her chest, the blade sharp enough to graze a slit in the dark robes with the lightest of touch, and eventually stopped when reaching her stomach.

Rose could only watch as Sobek pressed the blade through her garment and into her flesh, but drew to a halt, a few beads of blood bubbling around the sword as a warning all too real. In the face of death, her only thought now was of the peace at long last she would be granted, and the one person she gave up what little fragments of her life she once had for. Her son. "May god have mercy on your soul." she whispered, as Sobek constricted his hand around the saber's handle.

Sobek only smiled in the prayer. "Praying for me won't do any good, human, for you see..." One quick thrust, and the sword cleaved through Rose's midsection almost too effortlessly, the human speared, and drawing a sharp breath with the foreign object having torn into her belly and out her back. Sobek wrenched her close and grazed his fangs delicately over her earlobe, and whispered, "I have no soul."


"Rose..." The gurgle of blood rising in his caretaker's throat shot through him like a bullet at point blank, a wound far worse than any physical blow, and Todd leaped from his place with wide eyes, streaked unwittingly with wetted trails cascading down the sides of his face. "ROSE!!!" he screamed in sheer horror, seeing the sword being pulled out from Rose's stomach with a scraping of steel over bone and a gruesome suckling sound of air rushing in to fill the vacuum left by the gaping hole in her flesh. "YOU FUCKING BASTARD!!!"

The gasps escaped from the clan coalesced into a singular pained wheeze, a strike against them all when an innocent was felled, and Goliath spawned from his chest a growl rising from the depths of a soul both tortured and frayed at the very seams. His eyes exploded in white fire, his wings unfolding and rising in a livid, predatory stance. He was beyond what rage he could ever summon, beyond lunacy, and beyond caring of any consequence. "Sobek..." he snarled, his entire body trembling.

It had happened almost immediately, his carefully guarded emotional barrier had finally fractured and let loose a surge of animal fury, transforming a lover and father into an engine of vengeance and destruction.


The Egyptian held his hand to Rose's throat and in full view of the computer camera, watching in gruesome curiosity death claim another of this brittle species, the fatally wounded nun spewing streams of blood from her mouth and from the holes torn through her entire body. It pooled onto the floor, a growing slick of black fluid tinted scarlet and candlelight orange. He then whirled around and tossed the human away, hurling her down the carpeted aisle between the pews and towards the doors leading outside. She never touched the ground, the force of Sobek's throw so great, and she collided with the heavy wooden doors. Her body used as a battering ram, she was thrown into the outside, where above the storm raged and dropped a violent flow of warm, charged water upon the city. Like a limp rag, she tumbled down the sweeping stairs of concrete and at last came to rest at the bottom, the gutter, where a rolling stream of rainwater fused with her own blood threatened to drown her if the injuries sustained did not kill her first.

It had been six days too long, as he tasted delicious metallic on steel in his triumph of the kill, though a simple one, and it was a sweet tang he savored slipping down his throat. The mutated gargoyle ran his tongue over the length of his sword and then sheathed it through his belt. "One down," he crowed, "one and a half million to go."


"SOBEK!!!" Goliath screamed, the spacious room echoing an agonizing howl which bowed out the very walls, his great power of lung and ferocity sending the potency to shatter glass through his mouth and fangs. Todd stood behind, hunched over and near crazed, any words or actions lost to a narcosis spread through his body. Annika clutched to him to keep him from collapsing at her feet, and spilled to his clothing a wetted stain pouring from her eyes.

"If you and you alone don't come now, I will kill every single human infesting this island." continued Sobek, appreciative of the silent audience he performed for, as if feeding upon their shock and anger. And he knew they would not doubt his intentions, no matter how deranged or outlandish his claims. "Come to me, Goliath." He raised his hand and gestured towards the disposed leader. "Come and play."

Goliath thrust a hand through the monitor, relieving the image of Sobek in a flurry of blue flame flared from the smoking pit. "YOU ARE MINE, DEMON!!!" He swept away from the shattered screen, and pushed his way through a crowd determined to stop him towards the nearest window. Without even a passing thought to property damage or the price of his flesh against the razor sharp shards that would most assuredly fill the air, the massive gargoyle leaped through the towering bay window, erupting a wild spray of glass around his silhouette taking flight.

"Goliath!! Don't!!" Elisa called out after the retreating shape in the sky, but any cry thrown against the winds buffeting against the castle walls was scattered, and instantly swallowed in the warbled applause of thunder. "It's a trap..."

"Damnit!" yelled Brooklyn, as the smaller shards of tempered windowpane settled onto the ground, a breach but small in the defenses of Wyvern to hold it's own against the great beast laying siege to the sky. "This is all we need, Goliath going halfcocked against an immortal. He'll need help..."

"But Sobek said for Goliath to go alone," reminded Desdemona, fearful to cross the Egyptian's fanatical orders lest he retaliate, "or he would kill the entire population of Manhattan."

Brooklyn nodded. "I'm well aware. Broadway, Shadow, Othello, follow hi..."

"Brooklyn." Mother interrupted, tying in the computer room's radar sensors to the remaining, smaller media room screen to the side. "Aircraft trajectory confirmed. They are on a direct route to castle Wyvern. Five cargo helicopters, flanked by two heavily armed, military issue attack vehicles. ETA in seven minutes."

The clan went silent, as Brooklyn's features turned almost desperate, his lowered brow darkening his eyes and obscuring the true fear that welled within the charcoal pupils. "Then it's confirmed."

"Looks like your little uprising wasn't even needed, eh Brook?" Broadway hissed towards him, the greatest irony being conceivably that no leader was truly right. "How embarrassing."

The beaked gargoyle growled back, "Don't test me, Broadway." He took the floor to address them. "All right, new plan. Everyone stays here."

"Good plan." Elisa shot back, skipping past him and ensuring she had a full clip in her gun. "But I'm going after Goliath."

"And I'm going after Rose." Todd said defiantly, clearing away his temples of the tears, fear mended by deep loathing, and an anger strange and never before felt, spreading from his chest into the rest of his body. Like fire through his veins, it now boiled his blood.

"Sobek is not to be taken lightly, Elisa." Brooklyn warned curtly. "You need..."

"You just do your job!" seethed the detective swathed in long leather. "Protect this clan, and my daughter."

Brooklyn could only nod in agreement, "Watch yourselves. If this is the Guild coming after us, then we can't give you any backup."

Elisa stopped and turned, and it wasn't anger or pain that guided such strong, tempered eyes, it was the unwavering faith in her husband. "Goliath won't need any."

He watched them leave and shook off the nagging voice buried in the back of his skull, knowing he had to weigh a single clan member against the rest. Perhaps one life for many. "Okay, people, it seems the Guild may have brought the fight to us." he called to them, as they rose and circled around their leader. "Right now, I don't give a damn if half of you think I shouldn't be leading you, because we have bigger things to worry about..."

On the screen beyond, the seven blips crept ever closer.


He battled the storms. As an instrument of nature himself, he let no force stop him or impede his path through the lightning streaked skies. Even as the heavens were split open all around him, he could hear only the primal pounding of his heart, rushing through his ears in a maddening cadence. It was the thrill of the hunt, the promise of bloodletting reversing an intellect back several thousand years to an ancient being led by instinct alone. Goliath flew with a speed never before attained, the rain dripping from a form made sleek, his wings holding aloft seven hundred pounds of pure lavender fire.

He aimed himself towards the area of Manhattan where the church lay, an older neighborhood not too far from the Eyrie building, especially at Goliath's great speed. And through the downpour, his keen eyes spotted a blurred structure aiming its majestic spires towards the sky, almost swallowed by the industrialization surrounding the vulnerable building and it's dying neighborhood. And in the sporadic flashes lighting the world with its brilliance, he found the shapes becoming more distinct, and atop the belltower the cross, and what seemed to be a figure perched precariously upon the tip and riding through the storms untouched. And waiting.


Even with the mutation having significantly altered his form, he knew, by the stance and smell and damnably jackal-like smile, he knew. Goliath's heart empowered by pure hatred and the thirst for blood to sate that of the innocent slain, he pressed on, his eyes laying a streak of ivory fire to the skies brighter than any lightning, and pulled his wings in closer to descend at breakneck speed.

Appearing as some gruesome angel having been relieved of its skin, Sobek spread his arms and wings to welcome his adversary, a challenge issued to match against the core of his lunacy, and allowed Goliath to meet him head on. And any lesser being would have been ripped in two by the force and speed behind Goliath's savage attack, but Sobek took the blow with yet another smile. Goliath collapsed his broad shoulder into the Egyptian's midsection and folded Sobek into his arms, the brunt of the dive transformed into pure kinetic energy. Goliath took him down and trampled him into the church roof, upturning shingles and decorative embellishment as Sobek rolled across the rooftop. Goliath flipped to his feet and followed the toppled creature, his eyes devoid of any presence or sentience, only an animal driven by a single thought.

Goliath leaped on top of the recovering mutant, and drove his fists into Sobek's chest, throwing all he had against the armor plating. Sobek immediately threw up the blood from compressed lungs, a wracked, maniacal cackling only spurring on Goliath's assault. He did not care about the immortality spell at all, only to beat the demon into submission, to heap upon him the sum of all his rage and hatred and pain and fear. In this instant, Goliath became more than he was ever capable of, and that tainted the light of his soul. "You are nothing but a curse!!" he snarled, his voice above a roar, rending the air and bellowing over the clouds breeding thunder above. His expression was naked, bared to the utter foundation of his essence with flaring eyes and a masculine set jaw clenching oversized fangs, and he scraped the remnants of agony and a millennium of exhausting burden to further strengthen his physical form. "You are an abomination to be obliterated from existence!! And I will gladly deliver such justice!!"

The armored gargoyle hissed back at him, and if he were a dragon, he would have filled the air around them with a breath of flame. "I am immortal, fool! And I will still be alive when you have died and crumbled to dust!" Sobek captured both of Goliath's arms by the wrists, compressing his bony talons deep into the flesh, and held the lavender gargoyle at bay. "I will obliterate each and every one of your traitorous clan, and any brethren spawned!!" He propelled the heavy brow of sharp bone above his eyes into Goliath's head, stunning him, and launching him away with a fantastic strength. "But only as you are forced to watch...therein lies what makes me smile, it's almost carnal, in a purely plutonic way, I assure you."

Goliath tumbled down a steep slope, made slick by the pouring rain. Using his talons, he dug into the roof, leaving a distinct and jagged trail of four long clawmarks, and slowed his descent before reaching the louvered edge. "I will find a way to destroy you!!" Goliath hollered, picking himself back up and running towards Sobek, his adrenaline now feeding his body and guiding his actions. "Even if it means sacrificing my life to do so!!"

"Only I will decide when and how you die, Goliath!" bellowed the Egyptian, balancing himself on the sharply descending rooftop and outlined by the flickers of lightning above. "My terms, my choice, my fun!"

Goliath charged and toppled Sobek, plowing him through a few freestanding structures, as splinters of wood and brick sprayed into the air. They exchanged blow for blow, the strongest gargoyle in all the world driving his fists against the strongest gargoyle in all of history, and in their war of might and strength, they slowly demolished the church rooftop around them, weakening the supports. Blood erupted from their battle, flesh bruised and bones weakened from the blows they lay upon each other, and the pounding rain washed away the spattered fluids. Goliath swept his fist across Sobek's face, shredding his skin in a thunderous blow yet shattering a few of the bony plates forming the misshapen skull, but Sobek crossed an arm against Goliath's temple, followed by another. He attacked his chest and stomach, he used the bony plates covering his exposed muscular structure to rend flesh and damage the lavender giant beyond what any other man could take.

Though under a relentless assault, Goliath held to the anger threatening to burst from his chest, using the pain as his greatest weapon and the smell of hot spilled blood as his most potent fuel. Goliath dodged a blow, and allowed Sobek's arm to cross by his bruised face. He then grabbed the appendage, broke the elbow joint over his shoulder and picked Sobek up. Using the mutant's weight as momentum, Goliath forced him down onto his head and neck, surely shattering his spinal cord and rendering any other being dead instantly. Sobek's limp body rolled down the opposite slope and was saved only from plummeting to the ground when snaring upon a louvered ridge. Goliath took the opportunity to catch his breath, as Sobek seemed deathly still. But as he of course knew, the moment would not last. Sobek, though his neck and head wrenched from normal position, stirred and slowly pulled himself up. He shuddered and trembled, his spine unhinged and pierced by bone and deadening his body's motor control, until one swift motion summoned a nauseating crack into the air as Sobek jerked his head and replaced his vertebrae into alignment. He smiled, enjoying the unique sensation of acidic fire having flooded his nervous system. "One point for you." he purred, cracking his twisted elbow joint back into its original position, the immortality spell healing almost instantly the smaller wound.

Sobek started in a brisk sprint towards the waiting gargoyle, as Goliath tried to evade the savage attack. He sidestepped the Egyptian, but Sobek only vaulted into the air and flipped backwards onto Goliath. Their combined weight proved too much for the battle-ravaged rooftop, and the structure destabilized and ultimately collapsed in on itself. With Sobek on top of him, Goliath was first to impact upon the great pipe organ seated behind the church podium. It played a tortured song, a deep metallic wheeze when being torn apart by Goliath's weighted bulk and the debris from the roof. Goliath was buried beneath the rubble, several tons of broken wooden beams and metal sheeting collapsing on top of him as Sobek dodged the brunt of wreckage with his wings and rolled away.

Seeing the damage produced, and the lifeless form of his adversary partially submerged, Sobek licked the bony separation of his mouth. "And one point for me." he strutted, as Goliath moaned in pain, his eyes flickering when waking from under the rooftop remains. "Tie game."

Sobek crept closer, as Goliath struggled against the sweet, addictive rapture of unconsciousness, each step of the mutated gargoyle a powerful tremor rippling across the ground, to better warn the disposed Wyvern leader of the threat looming above him. Bleeding, bruised and wet from the rain pouring through the jagged hole above, he grappled against the sheer tonnage compressing his chest and legs, with Sobek's close presence threatening a gruesome reprisal.

"How does it feel, Goliath, to be buried alive?!" he screamed to entrapped gargoyle. "Do you have any idea how long it took me to crawl my way from the rubble in Egypt?! My immortal flesh not allowing me to die?!"

"I had hoped it would be an eternity..." stalled Goliath, for the precious seconds he needed. "It is more than you ever deserve." The Egyptian approached, presumably to either continue his gloating or his amusement, as Goliath's hand slipped underneath to search for a weapon. He grasped something smooth and rounded with a tapered tip, and he slipped it from the pile, clutching his claws around it to ready a coming blow.

"Hrkk..." Sobek gasped, and shuddered, as that same something Goliath had fortunately found now pierced through his lower torso and burst through his backside. A hollowed, notched pipe from the destroyed organ, once a gleaming gold now stained with the black, viscous fluid pouring from his chest. Sobek stepped back, slightly surprised and a masochistic gleam in his eye, the pain sustaining him, building on his twisted desires to play out his retribution. "...interesting...the game continues..."


An orange flame parted the darkness, washing across the entire street as the winged and strangely humanoid suit of armor landed softly, spreading cinders from the louvered rocket scoop to roll and bounce across the wetted asphalt. Todd powered off the Epsilon boosters and dropped Elisa to the ground, but what he found drowning within the runoff of rainwater trickling through the gutters chilled him to the proverbial bone. "Rose..." In an instant he was by her side, pulling delicately on the huddled mass of black robes stained by blood and stale water and the stench of decay. Using great care with his armored, taloned appendages, Todd pulled his caretaker from the soiled, urban brook and laid her ever so gently onto the road. "Oh god, no...oh fuck...Rose..." The Epsilon mask split and pulled away to reveal Todd's tear-stained face, as the falling rain diluted the blood still pouring from her body and created a hundred tiny, murky crimson trails guiding themselves back towards the drainage ditch. "You can't leave me...please...don't leave me..."

Elisa came to his side and reached two fingers to press against the nun's neck, feeling for the pulse of life. Elisa's features crumpled into sorrow, the flesh of the nun stone cold, unresponsive, and empty. "Todd..." she whispered, pulling back the dripping mass of fallen strands. "I can't feel a pulse...I think she's..."

"No..." he cried silently, clenching the frail elder woman to his chest and burying his face into her chest, sobbing, howling into the skies with his pain. His breathing was erratic, broken and he appeared as if he would snap the corpse held in his arms in two with the Epsilon's mechanical strength. "Shit...oh shit, please no!! NO!!!"

Elisa slumped onto her knees beside him, watching as the normally boisterous man wept openly, and in a second of wandering uncertainty she wondered, as the rain drummed across her glowing skin, if she had shed tears that were only lost in the caress of water against her flesh all but numbed of sensation. But movement then caught her weary gaze. And slight. Elisa noticed in sudden interest, as Rose's lifeless arm draped to the street twitched only just. "What the hell?"

Her eyes suddenly shot open, and she sucked in a breath filtered through blood filled lungs. Rose came to life within the arms of the boy she raised, clawing at his chest, her rampant fears and the damage to her body erupting through all her senses. She was panicking, and in that, only aggravated her injuries.

Though grateful, Todd now struggled to hold her, the nun flailing her arms and vomiting streams of blood in her struggle to breathe. "Rose!!" he screamed to her. "It's okay!! I'm here!!" But the sight of the one stable, unwavering element from his childhood reduced to a quivering mass of frightened eyes and flowing blood only served to unnerve him as well. "I won't let you die..." And in a desperate motion guided only by a panicked heart, Todd scooped Rose into his arms, closed the Epsilon's mask and powered the rockets.

Elisa was forced back to narrowly escape the column of flame pouring from the backside of the armored suit, as Todd took to the rain-soaked skies heading back towards the Eyrie. In seconds he was too far enveloped by the angrily churning billows of stormcloud to be seen with the naked eye, and Elisa knew he was frantic to save her, and thus she wished him well. "Get her home, Mr. Hawkins." she whispered sympathetically, staring into the descending deluge. Dropping her eyes to where the blurry, rain-streaked surroundings darkened all into an amethyst haze, the light from the church doors almost called to her with the warm light having spilled into the street. Elisa pulled her gun and started briskly towards where the sounds of a war exploded outwards from through the doors, her husband a combatant with the price of his very life on the line.


She stole through the opened doorway, and met her gaze with the ruins of a once beautiful church, stripped now of any and all splendor and laid to waste in the battle between titans. The entire structure creaked and swayed with the powerful winds, beams toppled, walls were near collapse, the church was being slowly destroyed.

But a linked security gate locked across the entire length of the foyer blocked her path with thin but sturdy strips of steel, and Elisa frantically tried to find a way past to where two shadowed figures clashed and destroyed all in their path. "Goliath!!" she screamed, when seeing her husband tossed towards her, shredding a path through the rows of pews and throwing the broken splinters into the air. "Jesus..." Her mate struggled to raise himself from the wreckage of wooden bench, his flesh torn open, his once satin lavender hide marred by streams of blood and grit. He was ravaged by a war having taken great toll on his physical form, and she now knew the extent of the damage they had inflicted upon each other in the short time they fought.

"I smell a new player." came the guttural snarl of the voice that once haunted her deepest nightmares. A raised balcony, perhaps for a choir now forgotten, was torn apart in a single swipe and another, even bigger figure stepped through the cloud of dust and debris. "I smell the stench of human."

She trembled in his appearance, guiding shaken eyes to a metamorphosis almost eight feet tall and deprived of its skin. He was truly a creature of malice in appearance now, the magical mutation having assured his exterior matched what darkness lay within. "Oh my god..." she gasped, as Sobek emerged from the dust quickly diluted and cleared by the rain, the organ pipe still pierced straight through him, just above his thick belt and gold-rimmed loincloth, as if he could not be bothered to pull it out. Elisa fumbled her hand into her jacket, pulling out her comm device. "Elisa to Wyvern..." she whispered, opening a direct frequency to the castle. "I need help! Brooklyn, send me backup now!! Sobek, he's..."


" God...he's huge...and Goliath's severely injured...he's bleeding...badly..."

Brooklyn listened to the entire message through his own communication device hooked over his ear. The raw, unconcealed fear in Elisa's voice was unmistakable, even with the slight distortion of the digital channel perceptible only to a gargoyle's finely honed sense of hearing. "Elisa," he whispered, scanning the monitors in the main computer chamber, "I...I can't give you any backup."

"...Why not?!..."

"Because..." Brooklyn watched with thinned eyes the spotlights swathe effortlessly through the heavy cloud cover and sheeting rain, searchingly, heralding the arrival of the airborne army now only minutes away. The sleek, black helicopters soon emerged from behind their camouflage of the storms, and into Wyvern's perimeter. A blinding trail of light slid across the Eyrie building's gleaming exterior, joined by others rising up to touch upon the empty parapets, and bringing every dark crevice of Wyvern into perfect, brilliant clarity. The helicopters surrounded the Eyrie with their spotlights trained on the castle, the two smaller attack fighters encircling, as if hunting for any creature not human, and Brooklyn knew if even a single gargoyle left the castle, he or she would most certainly be flying into certain death. "Because we have visitors."


"Damn." whispered Elisa, inhaling sharply.

"I have you, said the spider to the fly." Sobek muttered, steering a ravenous gaze towards Elisa. "The whore. Those gates I locked to keep any extraneous players from the game."

Goliath rose to deflect the Egyptian's eyes from his wife locked behind them both. He turned and glanced his steeled eyes to her own, and passed within blurred seconds the raw essence of his love, before rising to meet the approaching Egyptian, the wounds suffered at Goliath's hands healing, closing the great rifts in his form.

"Your presence was of course expected, stubborn human," Sobek revealed, "but ultimately satisfying, when I kill you in front of your mate."

"Never..." wheezed Goliath, jumping to his feet and grabbing the pipe, twisting his insides and lifting Sobek off his feet. Goliath held him above as if a trophy kill, waving the Egyptian around until running him into one of the supporting columns, bringing down yet another portion of ceiling, the church slowly being gutted, and emptied of beauty. With Sobek momentarily stunned, Goliath pulled out the pipe from his torso and readied for the kill. "I've always wondered if an immortal can survive...without his head." He impaled the pipe's conical, razor-sharp end through Sobek's neck, trying if anything to sever his head from his shoulders.

Sobek gagged for breath through a non-existent throat, his wild eyes burning in blinding amber flame, the pipe buried into the ground with the power behind Goliath's thrust and effectively restraining the immortal. But before Goliath could do further damage, he swatted him away, using his long, bony claws to take from him a piece of flesh from his brow, blinding him with his own blood. Having proved his greater strength, Elisa now feared her husband's chances and scrambled to get through the gate blocking her path, Goliath straggling and maintaining a precarious balance. She pulled her gun and aimed at the lock, letting loose an entire clip to try and destroy the heavy steel mechanism linking the enclosure together. But still it would not budge, connected in several places where the two sides joined. Elisa released the catch to her gun, allowing the despairingly empty clip to fall to the ground. She tried to reload, her hands shivering, trembling violently in the futile attempt until a weakened rumble breathed upon the air.

"Get...out..." It was Goliath, fallen to one knee on the other side of the gate, and still rendered near sightless by one eye nearly swelled shut, and the blood dripping into his field of vision from a fresh gash slashed across his brow.

Elisa looked up, to see a bloodied warrior draped in a scarlet sheathe granted by battle. "No. I won't."

"Get out..." he ordered again, as Elisa helped to steady his body through the security gate, watching from the corner of her eyes Sobek pinned to the ground by the pipe skewered through his neck. "This fault, get"

"No, I'm not leaving you!" she responded mulishly, clearing the blood from her husband's eyes, a touch tender, and delicate. "I had no idea Sobek was this strong...the clan can't come, and you can't do this by yourself..."

"His mutation...has changed him..." Goliath wheezed, slapping a hand to her shoulder with his talons digging urgently into the leather material. "Though he has no magical abilities anymore, he is far cannot be here..." His eyes were pleading behind the dark charcoal, the glimmer of hope nearly extinguished. "...he wants only destruction, he is must go...and let me finish what I started..."

"And leave you to die in some death wish guided by pride and pain?!"

"It is not pride...but duty..." Goliath amended.


"Please leave..."

"I don't think so," Elisa graced a hand to his cheek through the gate, warm, tawny silk on callused, torn flesh, to better make him understand what this foolhardy errand would cost him of he indeed lost, "I'll never leave you. You and I are one, remember?"

Goliath paused, seeing perhaps his foolishness and despair echoed in deep, dark chocolate. He relented and nodded slowly, knowing his wife, his mate, would never abandon him no matter what the cost. "Now...and forever." They joined lips from either side of the gate, tasting the other, and sapping their strength to use as their own. She was luscious, warm, he was sweet, satisfying, and the strands of time were pulled taught, and brought to a halt when Goliath and Elisa bridged their souls through the simple gesture of a kiss.

"...bonessss...break..." he whispered behind them, his throat healing over the pipe and allowing him only half a whisper for a voice. "...humanssss...ssssscream...a melody...of sssweet sssorrow..." He pulled from his neck the organ pipe, dripping from the hollow his own sanguineous blood. "...inssssanity issss' eye of th'...beholder..." he choked, the deep cavity repairing itself, tendons linking with the aid of invisible hands, vocal cords mending and an esophagus growing from the bloody stump left when severed by the pipe. "Perhaps the world is insane...and I am merely trying to set right what went wrong when the monkeys shed their tails and fur, dropped from the trees and somehow rose to the top of the foodchain with their technology and arrogance." He was healed almost completely in less time it took Elisa to at last reload another clip to her gun, though the reward of his restored breathing functions was a voice slightly scratched. "I will hopefully even the score soon enough with the help of my newest business partner, but until then, I am going to amuse myself."

Goliath turned only to have a clawed hand sink its talons into his shoulder, and wrench him from his wife. Elisa was left helpless behind the gate with a hand reached out to grasp the air still warmed by her husband's presence, as Goliath was dragged away and into the clearing, a wasteland left from the battle, and drenched from the constant rain pouring through the gaping hole above. Sobek mercilessly threw him into yet another pile of rubble, treating his form like nothing but a lifeless toy. He raked a fist across Goliath's jaw, and tossed him through another thick support beam, with Elisa forced to watch as her husband relinquished more of his blood to the floor and rubble around them.

"You son of a bitch!!" she screamed, aiming her gun towards the Egyptian. "Let go of him!!" Fire erupted from her weapon, cracks of thunder in perfect aim and succession until she exhausted her ammunition into the slab of exposed scarlet sinew and muscle tissue that was Sobek.

But he merely shrugged off the bullets having penetrated his flesh in deep, spattering craters, the wounds slowly sealing as if to never have existed, and he peered over his spurred shoulder to see Elisa clawing furiously at the gate to gain access when depleted of her ammunition, three full clips yielding nothing. Goliath took the opportunity to fight back, thrusting his fists into Sobek's stomach, but the Egyptian held firm through the pain, and brought down his arms onto either side of Goliath's neck. He held to him and hammered a clenched fist into the gargoyle's face, blow after repeated blow, determined the crush his features, and blacken his skin.

"I have tried poison." he hissed, bringing up a spurred knee up into Goliath's midsection, knocking the wind from his lungs and scraping away even more flesh with the sharp, boned ridge. "I have tried magic." He lifted the gargoyle up over his shoulders, displaying his beaten carcass for an imaginary audience and perhaps laughing in the face of some fictional god the humans foolishly worshipped. "I have even tried to hire those to do my bidding. And yet you and your clan escape into safety every single time. Thus, I shall try a new approach to end this streak of fortune." The veins of lightning above set to flame the heavens overhead, and Goliath was thrown down onto Sobek's knee, his back arching horrifically over the Egyptian's powerful leg, with a crack resounding across the hollow cavern of the church in a horrid echo of breaking bone. Goliath draped limply, his mouth having fallen open, his jaw gaping and crying out in a silent, agonized scream. "My bare hands."

Elisa pounded on the linked gate with anything she could find, trying with all her strength to find a way through the small entranceway to get to her husband. "Sobek!!" she screamed again, a helpless, tortured cry besting even the storm's awesome power. "SOBEK!!!"

"This is MY game! You are my plaything, my toy, and like a spoiled child I shall take you apart piece by piece." He gripped a hand underneath Goliath's throat, when unsatisfied of the Wyvern gargoyle's agonizingly slow ascent to his knees, his injuries grievous and suckling his very strength. "The sands will run red, and your clan's disloyal blood will paint the way to the future."

"YOU BASTARD!!!" Elisa howled, forced to watch as her husband wavered on his knees in front of Sobek, the psychotic's intentions all too clear. "Please!, don't do it..."

"You have denied me so many times my new world." He released, and Goliath fell over onto his stomach in a cloud of dust, conquered, beaten. Sobek grabbed his enemy's wings and shored his hands onto the thick struts, placing a foot onto the small of Goliath's back nestled with bulging muscle. "So I now deny you the skies."

"Goliath!!" Elisa clambered and frantically battered her hands against the gate, tears streaming down her face. "NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!"

Sobek gritted and pulled on Goliath's wings, and it seemed too effortless, to deprive him of his greatest gift, that to kiss the clouds and bend the heavens' breeze to his will. Muscle separated from bone, tendons snapped and nerves were severed as the flesh, stretched to its limits, liquefied and ultimately tore from around where the wings joined to the shoulder blades. Goliath dug his talons into the ground, an unimaginable pain erupting through his back and eliciting a wail ripped from the depths of his soul to explode into the church.

It was a sound never heard before, that of an angel's scream, and the desecration by a demon cackling as if a jackal. Sobek twisted and heaved one last time, tearing Goliath's wings from his back. The bloodied stumps gave way, and Sobek raised the severed, dripping sails into the air as a tangible prize of conquest.

Elisa watched from behind the gate, terrified into a stunned silence by a sight that would render anyone else with a weaker resolve anesthetized of sensation or speech. Blood sprayed, and reached as far to spatter across her face. Her husband's blood, scalding hot, and fusing with the tears run rampant and streaming from her face. "Oh my god..."


"And we're not activating the weapons systems why?!"

"Hopefully we can quietly bluff our way out of this without even having to lift a finger, or we'll only attract more attention to the fact this castle has something to hide by having several million dollars worth of weaponry pop out."

Only barely satisfied of an answer infuriatingly flawless in logic, Broadway heaved a heavy, forced breath, his chest falling onto his enlarged stomach, concealing compressed muscle. "And what do WE do?" he questioned Brooklyn again. "Just wait here inside and do nothing?"

Brooklyn transfixed his eyes to the screen, seeing the two smaller attack craft continue to circle the Eyrie as the five larger cargo helicopters strutted lazily into position, vying against the wind for supremacy of the skies. The sounds of thunder were now traded for the mechanical drone of aircraft sending tremors through the castle walls when making their predatory pass, unnerving the entire clan, and making restless protective and aggressive instincts. "With the shield in place...yes."

"And what about Goliath?!" came Angela's furied voice, far from composed and bordering on a scream for fear her father and step-mother may just perish. "He and Elisa are facing Sobek alone!"

"We step outside, we're spotted," Brooklyn stressed, turning around to better calm a fiery soul, "and we confirm the fact gargoyles live on top of the Eyrie. Goliath was right about one thing, our very lives depend on our anonymity now, our concealment, and so do the lives of every single human ally we have. Our exposure will condemn this clan..." he paused, when noticing an eerie similarity to an earlier argument, now made pointless, "and I'm not going to allow that."

"What about the steel clan? We can send the..."

"They've spotted the hangar bay, Angela, and if we send out any weaponry, they might take it as hostile intent, and we may incidentally start an exchange of fire that would tear this castle apart. Better we go on the defensive right now."

It was desperation now, with any and all attempt to make him understand her concerns. "You would sacrifice your leader," Angela whispered, "and your friend?"

Brooklyn's ridges settled tranquilly, a keen intelligence flaunted with vivid eyes and a lean stance. He swallowed, and buttressed a slightly unctuous brogue from his youth, but tinged with prudence. "Any leader would sacrifice the few, to save the would Goliath." he prompted softly, with Angela relenting only just. "My reward for taking leadership."

Sensing yet another pass of the helicopters outside with the sudden ripple through the walls, she turned her head slightly to bury a sunken lip bitten and harnessed by her fangs, and any oncoming tears behind the wild strands of long, silky sepia bound with tied strips of fabric.

Shadow noticed her fear, and tried in his own unique way to soothe her. "Goliath is perhaps one of the greatest warriors alive," said the winged shinobi, "he will prevail."

"And if not, Shadow-san?" Sata questioned his stubborn faith, but only for the opponent Goliath now faced alone.

Shadow seemed indifferent, his own apprehension hidden well among a facade of black ice he claimed to be warm flesh. "Then he'll die a death worthy of his stature."

Othello scowled, more than usual, angered by the fact his brother was treated in such a way. His own feelings of guilt resurfaced, empowering his throaty rasp. "Cold comfort, ninja." he hissed, without truly realizing Shadow perhaps respected Goliath far more than ever known.

"Goliath will not die..." whispered Desdemona solemnly, her arms crossed against her stomach. To steady the violent shivering that threatened to expose her misgivings to the others. "He cannot..."

"That's enough." Brooklyn cut through, seeing the tensions slowly rise towards a breaking point. "Here's what we do. We're going to entrust any necessary defense of the castle to Mother, and we play guard duty in case they somehow get past the exterior energy shield and her defenses." He turned to the redhead swaddled in designer fashion, the expensive clothing molding to an athletic form, Fox idly and surreptitiously rubbing a finger across her throbbing temple. "Fox, I think it's best you handle the kids. Take them to the computer room, it's probably the safest place in the castle."

"Sounds reasonable," Fox cut back, feigning good health to cover the pain erupting through her brow, "but what if the Guild just decides just to blow us up with all that firepower slapped beneath their helicopters?"

"If they wanted to, we'd already be dead by now." Brooklyn answered. "The Guild has some twisted sense of innocence they preach, demonstrated by the attack at the precinct and their precision to leave survivors. I don't think they'll risk destroying the top of the tallest building in the world in the middle of a crowded district...yet."

"They're going to attack in person, carefully." minded Broadway. "And judging by those larger helicopters, they're probably carrying a whole hell of a lot of Guild members..."

Fox simply nodded.

"And by the way, Fox," continued Brooklyn, turning back to the screens, "I want you to take Nicole too..."

Dark emerald flashed open, spurred by the lapping flames of infuriation. "What makes you think she'll be better off with me than with the Guild?!" Fox muttered, with Brooklyn shrugging his shoulders and fawning his eyes in charismatic style. "Fine." she yielded, passing a quick embrace of her lips to her husband's cheek and leaving the room to find her son.

"Hudson, Delilah, and little sis," Brooklyn nodded to the lost sister, "take the twins and get downstairs to the hospital. Protect the wounded."

All too hesitant to face against Maria once more and be deprived of the chance to revenge his lost son, Hudson appeared as if to warrant another in his place. As love and revenge played a game within his heart, he instead heeded the orders given and answered quietly, and bitterly, "Aye."

"The rest of us will stay here for now, if the Guild manages to breach those defenses, we'll be the last line."

"It is funny, my love," mentioned Sata from her mate's side, "your voice is your own, but the words you speak are Goliath's."

Brooklyn wrinkled his brow and fluffed his wings in the comparison. "How ironic."

"I have evacuated all non-essential personnel," interrupted Xanatos, issuing his orders to a massive conglomerate sealed within the tallest of spires in all the world with just an intercom and cellphone, "and have positioned my personal security forces throughout the Eyrie. The entire building is sealed from bottom to top."

"Security systems are on full standby alert." claimed Mother, the hologram resting ethereally to the side, her features unnervingly serene.

"Have there been any communications attempts from the helicopters?" Brooklyn asked.

"None whatsoever." Xanatos stood up from the computer monitor, and straightened his suit, waving his hand across any errant fold to crease the costly fabric suited to a king. "They don't seem in the mood for talking."

Mother suddenly glanced to the side, the holographic representation of the matronly gargoyle contorting her mouth, a frown curling the edges of supple, orchid lips. "Brooklyn," she announced clearly, "using the orbiting weather satellite and its infrared sensors, I have been able to track the helicopters using their trajectory and exhaust trails to their origin of launch."

"On the screen, Mother." Brooklyn ordered, and instantly the computer monitor displayed a thermal map of the New York state taken from the orbiting satellite, and centered on a trail made warm by the helicopters' fumes. It had leaked a faint trail towards the shores of Long Island, near the sprawling kingdom of machines that was JFK airport. Mother highlighted the area of the map, and focused inwards, each screenshot a closer view, until Brooklyn was met with an area of industrial warehouses along the shoreline. It seemed now there was a very plausible explanation why the clan could not locate the Guild, for they would never think to search an ally's own property. "What the hell...?" he whispered in disbelief, seeing the clear mark of a Xanatos Enterprises logo on a small cluster of warehouses and hangar bays where the trail had most assuredly started.

Xanatos pulled back somewhat, noticing the abrupt change in Brooklyn's body language, rigid, and very, very angry.

The kindle of white fire in Brooklyn's eyes was far too prevalent, as he turned his head to force from David Xanatos an answer. "What the hell is the Guild doing in a Xanatos Enterprises warehouse?!" he growled.

"I assure you," countered Xanatos coolly, he himself surprised, "I have no idea. Perhaps the storm distorted the vapor trails..."

An excuse exceedingly flimsy, a deed all too damaging to his clan and the billionaire's wavering credibility, Brooklyn grabbed upon the human's collar, and wrenched him close. "Xanatos, you..."

"Oh my god..."

The entire clan turned and followed Annika's fearful glare, towards the entranceway, where a solitary figure held in his arms a dying woman. Draped in Todd's arms, Rose lay comatose, limp, and the Epsilon armor lost the raven sheen to a dulled scarlet stain, the chestplate completely covered in blood thinned by the rains. The mask was open, and Todd wept, begging to them to do anything in their power. "HELP HER, PLEASE!!!"


The damage now done, an act to rival the most malevolent in history, Goliath lay upon the floor in the growing pool of his own viscous, sticky fluids, surging relentlessly from the two matching, gaping holes in his back where once his wings rested proudly. Now only a few remnants of tattered membrane that still adhered to the flesh allowed belief to what had existed before. He was numb, lost in a haze of torturous pain, and he suffered the similar agony of being on fire, his senses dulled to only a single, graveling drone echoing all around him.

Sobek threw away the forcefully amputated wings, and reached down, plunging his talons around the back of Goliath's neck. He crouched and raised the gargoyle up, to where he could better graze a bristle of victory across Goliath's ear. "I hope my demonstration was effective," Sobek seethed, "my past boasts may have been a little too far reaching for my abilities. I hope I have convinced you otherwise." He twisted his hand, forcing an incredible pressure on Goliath's neck and spine, and the severely injured gargoyle cringed, a moan trickling from his throat like the small stream of blood curling around the jutting chin. "I would kill you now, but that is far too easy an escape from what I wish to inflict upon you. I want you to suffer! I want you to scream and burn and experience more pain than anyone would ever dream!!"

Goliath was released, left to crumple into a defeated heap, and Sobek slowly, deliberately crossed his gaze to where Elisa lay slumped against the security gate, her eyes never having left Goliath, the droplets of his blood slowly creeping down the length of her face. She heeded nothing but her husband's incredible suffering, the detective consumed in a state of shock and barely cognizant to the mutated gargoyle stalking his ways towards her. He ripped away the intrusive gates without breaking a proverbial sweat, surprising Elisa, and as she stared up at him with eyes made dewy, and blurred with the amount of tears she had spilled, it was as if a dream. A nightmare, where no one person or event were real, where she would soon wake to see her husband whole, and healed and well.

The arguments seemed so far away, the petty bickering so damnably stupid amongst the reality of his death. She continued staring at Sobek with clouded eyes, chocolate diluting to a milky beige in narcosis and vacuity. Sobek smothered a smile and grabbed her, hauling the detective by the scruff of the neck towards her downed mate. She stifled a cry of pain, unwilling to show any more weakness towards this creature, born of cruel, soul-destroying happenstance.

Sobek held a struggling Elisa over Goliath, gloating yet another assault he could bring upon the gargoyle, far more damaging than even the fact he had already taken his wings. Sobek kicked him, forcing a clawed foot into his side to rouse him into at least a semi-state of consciousness. "Listen to her squeals of torture, Goliath," warned Sobek, with Goliath laboring greatly to lift himself with a single arm, "for she's about to die. And perhaps..." His delved into Elisa's neck, inhaling the aroma exuded of fear and lilac, refreshing a memory long ago of what it would be like to taste her, to devour and savor the mother of a new, wretched race. "I will just eat your precious mate in front of you." He teased his free hand about her neck and chest much to Elisa's horror, his talons tracing sweet flesh, wanting for the kill, for the feast, and the delicious, continuing torture of Goliath. But when reaching her stomach, he paused, the wicked grin all but falling away. He raised her shirt and clasped his talons into the lower region of her stomach, his great hearing and acute senses detecting a presence, and the faint but steady rhythm of life trembling through his fingers like a tuning fork. Buried beneath the folds of her flesh her womb, and a secondary pulse to her own, extremely weak, but with an accelerated, waning cadence, akin only to a fetus. "You are with child..." he whispered.

Elisa widened her eyes, perhaps surprised in the revelation but relieved her sickness had a plausible, and welcome explanation. Another child, once denied by her husband but now blessed by him as well in a fleeting moment of passion through a time of death, and she nearly shed tears in the irony.

"You are breeding again?!" he snarled angrily, as if she had performed the greatest of sins against him. "Damnable human slut, you must enjoy the warmth and taste of your man's seed, and savor it like wine." The vindictive discharge against his wife and the fact she may just die in front of his eyes provoked Goliath further, stirring a greater fight to raise himself from the gleaming slick pooled around him. Yet Sobek pressed his foot down onto Goliath's back, grinding his heel into the gushing wound and falling the gargoyle once more. "Every single night, humanity proves once again it is driven only by greed and sloth and lust." he growled. "You are locusts, raping this world of every resource."

"...not...true..." Elisa managed to gasp, a free hand furtively reaching towards her left foot.

"You are cattle, worth only to be fed upon." he spit, his breath vile, and caustic, perhaps the remnants of an earlier meal floating upon the exhale. "But I will not feed on a human carrying a mongrel child." He pulled his sword quickly, disgusted and having lost his appetite for Elisa's flesh. Similar to how he had dispatched of Rose, Sobek tormented his captive with the edge of his sword aimed directly for her stomach, where incased deep within her held the most precious of goods. "You made a fatal mistake that will ultimately cost you, Goliath." he gloated over the lavender giant, with Goliath barely able to move while planted directly under Sobek's clawed heel. "You overestimated your chances, your strength...and ultimately underestimated mine."

Feeling the tip press into her stomach, Elisa made a last ditch effort lest she and her unborn child suffer grievously. "You...made a mistake also, Sobek..." she hissed, bending to the limits her body would allow to reach into a hidden holster on her ankle. "You underestimated ME." Suddenly, before the immortal had time to react to the cold steel pressed against his brow, Elisa tightened her grasp on the smaller, hidden weapon and gouged from over her shoulder a serrated hunting knife directly through Sobek's eye. A lucky shot, an impeccable aim, and Elisa pressed deeper into the inside of his skull when twisting the knife, and eventually tore it across his face. "Returning the favor, asshole. You mess with my mate, you mess with me."

With a sufficient piece of his head missing, gaping openly to what lay inside, Sobek howled, dropped Elisa and reeled backwards, hunched over and attempting to keep inside what tried to push its way out. "Bravado..." he hissed to Elisa's wallow. "Makes me wish to retch." He was blinded, one eye damaged, the other completely missing where the chunk of skull had been removed with a surgical precision all but crude, all too effective. "You will decorate my sword with the pieces of your child, damnable whore!!"

Elisa fell to her feet and rolled away as Sobek, led behind her by her scent, swiped wildly with his sword at any sound he perceived that danced across the ground in front of him. She escaped another slash with only a small chunk of flailing hair being severed, Elisa dodging back and forth between the razor sharp blade. "Goliath!!" she screamed, wrapping her hands around an arm the size of her waist. "We have to go!!" Goliath crawled to his hands and knees, staggering, and vulnerable, and yet unable to rise on his own strength. Sobek lunged closer, and Elisa grew desperate. "Move, damnit!!" she growled, an adrenaline rush and the desperate need to save him pushing Goliath up. "MOVE!!!" They narrowly missed another sword swipe, Sobek attracted to the sounds of Elisa's frantic screaming. Even as she peered onto the severed wings lying only meters away, Elisa guided him away to safety, the couple staggering towards the doorway, and forced to climb over debris and fallen beams holding an unstable cathedral, littering a trail of Goliath's blood.

As Sobek's eyesight returned to the eye less damaged with a healing magic, he discovered through an obscuring, milky cataract a mass of lavender retreating from view. It was enough to lead him forwards. "Not yet..." Sobek managed as best he could, near blinded and simply wrenching the beams away as he created a straight path towards them. His frantic charge towards them flew beams against the walls, and weakened the last supports this aged building had left. His quest, his game, would not be denied by some dilapidated monument to humanity's gods.

Elisa looked behind her to see Sobek gaining as if some unstoppable tempest, and she pushed Goliath with all her strength to the point where even her diminutive human shell propelled her husband faster than he could travel with such draining wounds. "Go, Goliath!!" she yelled, using her voice to spur him on, her husband nearly reduced to crawling on his hands and knees over the downed and still falling debris. "He's right behind us, and this place is coming down!! GO!!!"

"No..." said the giant deprived of wings, his eyes somehow catching a flaw obvious in the structure's sustaining beams on the verge of collapse. It was a crack, almost invisible, but rising upwards in a lawless trail. "...not yet..." Goliath broke from Elisa and suddenly swerved, inelegantly, and using his weight as momentum he speared himself through a massive joist dangerously close to falling. The pillar at last snapped, and split and severed a needed brace for the already ruined ceiling. The damage wrought condemned the church to a shudder passing through its walls and growing in strength, and Goliath yelped in pain as a smaller rafter fell directly onto his back, momentarily stunning him with severed nerves set afire. Elisa dodged more beams and planks to run to him, her slim form darting recklessly with a fool's luck between a hundred tons of rooftop falling inwards and threatening to devour them all. Sobek could only hear the building breaking apart, and feel the tremors wrinkling through the floor.

The pain fogging his eyes and reducing them to a blurred field of white and dark, dripping red, Goliath allowed Elisa to guide him towards the doors and they escaped just as the foyer crumpled and collapsed, leaving Sobek to look anxiously around him, trapped. Beams fell, walls caved in, and half the ceiling dropped on top of him. He looked up, seeing the world become dark and close in on him, and a rather large strut tip it's broken end towards him. "Another point for you, Goliath..." he whispered in admiration before he was impaled through the stomach and chest, an appropriate reckoning, and then buried once more.


Into the tempest they fled, the streets slick and treacherous and Elisa forced to drag the massive creature that was her mate and lover through the pouring rain. The metallic, tinny stench of blood she could not readily escape, the clouds scraping together overhead and setting a flaxen fire to the skies, alighting a path vague at best into where the shadows would willingly engulf them in whole.

She was even now surprised at her husband's incredible strength and his sheer will to stumble and walk himself towards the alleyway, his entire back slick with blood and rain. He looked almost farcically, morbidly human without the broad, encompassing sails suspended from behind his shoulders, and Elisa nearly languished into a sea of tears every time she either purposely or inadvertently crossed her eyes over the two distinct gashes ripped in Goliath's backside, layered in dust and soot. A part of her wanted to scream at him, to admonish his recklessness driven by an untamed rage and despair having welled inside of him, but she found those words, those feelings, would only lead to further the rift and ultimately serve no purpose.

Through all she loved him, through everything he was her soul.

They found shelter in the dark crevasse between two brick buildings, ancient by the crumbling appearance and allowing only a slim, foreboding crack atwixt. Goliath faltered and collapsed into the wet, squalid sanctuary behind a dumpster, releasing a steady stream of swirling breath from where he once stood to where he fell.

Elisa was almost dragged down with him, doing her best to support a creature that outweighed her nearly six times, and fell onto her knees into the grimy stream running through the alleyway. He breathed raggedly, like a wounded animal wheezing it's last pain-filled exhales when awaiting the embrace of death. He moved his lips, but no words came, and Elisa leaned over to drag away her husband's sodden hair from features battered, swelled and distorted from an onslaught of an immortal's maniacal retribution, but still handsome, still rugged, eye-catching and daring. "Don't die on me, Big Guy, you hear me?" she returned an order towards him, her voice as adamant as steel. "Stay with me. Stay alive."

Goliath moved his eyes down to stare at the hunting knife Elisa held to for some sense of cold comfort and never before seen, a few strips of leather dangling from the dog-eared grip with a Hopi tribal design. It was a question asked without breath.

"An old gift from my dad," Elisa answered automatically, dashing her eyes from where the broken church stood to the broken pile of lavender and scarlet below her, "passed down from my grandfather and sharp enough to cut through a molecule. Thought I might need it..." She weighed her options, but the first priority when her police training emerged and screamed at her instinctively was to do anything to stop Goliath's bleeding.

Knowing the material of her leather jacket would not suffice, she reluctantly sheathed her knife and lifted the lid of the dumpster, battling through the stench of wet refuse to find anything usable. "There has to be something here..." she muttered to herself, as she overturned an old canvas tarp, but with enough fabric content to allow for a makeshift bandage. "This will have to do." She pulled it out wasting no time and draped it around Goliath's back, hoping if anything to slow the blood. But when faced directly against his backside, she slowed her pace, forced headlong into a once beautiful trait she cherished now despairingly absent. The wounds were grotesque, flesh torn like tissue paper, ligaments hanging loose and the gleaming ivory of raw bone forming emptied sockets where the wings struts once were. Biting her lip and trying to block the rise of nausea into her throat, she lifted the canvas onto the wounds, and tied the tarp securely under Goliath's arms.

The gargoyle was near unresponsive, the sheer loss of blood weakening a form evolved for any battle, and prepared for any fight. Now enfeebled to the infirmity of a child, Goliath slumped against the brick wall, perhaps unaware of the true damage suffered. It was only Elisa's warm touch, her fingers stroking gently across his torn brow and reviving his deadened hide, that kept his eyes open, that kept another breath flowing through his compressed lungs.

"Goliath, stay with me." she whispered, curling an arm around his neck to pull him up, but he was lifeless, obstinate and heavy and well beyond her strength to move him. "Damnit, Goliath, don't let Sobek beat you now!" She sympathized for him, truly, deeply, his soul was half of hers, but she knew Sobek would soon heal, and would do anything to obliterate the lasting remnants of sanity he clung to. "Come on! We have to move!" she screamed, wrenching upon his arm. "He'll heal, and come after us!"

"...he took them..." A whisper loud enough to be heard over the pouring rain ceased Elisa's struggle, as Goliath swathed through the alley eyes delirious, and extinguished of the steeled fire when rimmed with the edges of tears. "...he wings..."

Elisa paused, searching for any answer to his cryptic statement besides heeding the urge to fall into a heap onto his chest and weep for him and his tremendous loss. "I know..." she whispered. "And the fact I couldn't do anything to stop kills me...but he's still out there, Goliath, and we have to move."

"I cannot..." wheezed the gargoyle, physically drained, emotionally defeated.

"Yes, you will." Slender fingers intertwined between thick claws, a bonding of flesh against flesh. "Or he'll take more. He'll take your clan, your daughters," she brushed a hand across her stomach, the impending pregnancy confirmed by the most unconventional of means, "both alive and yet to be born, he'll take everything away from you that you hold dear." Goliath looked up to her, one eye purpled and nearly swelled shut. "He'll strip you down to your soul, and take that away too. And I can't protect you against him for long."

Silence followed, only the rhythmic kiss of the rain against the streets and the torrents of water pouring from the fire escape above. Goliath swayed, mulled and eventually climbed to his feet, clenching talons into the ruddy red fascia of fragile brick, and with Elisa's guidance, started down the alleyway. It was a crawl excruciatingly slow, his body wracked with pain, as Goliath prodded along the wall using his hand to pull his damaged form along towards the mouth of the alley, where an amber glow from the streetlights beckoned to them, spilling into the thin fracture where they made their escape.


He broke through the layers of debris and reached out as if he was crawling from a fresh grave. It was a painful, excruciating process to remove the wreckage from around him, especially with a wooden girder stabbed entirely through his stomach.

With his talons plunged deep into the oiled, oak beam, he used the remainder of his strength to push it upwards along with the rest of the debris swallowing him, and from out of his stomach. It toppled to the side, leaving the speared Egyptian to reach a hand inside of his completely gutted trunk, a cavernous wound nearly having torn him in half. Laughter, from a broken, impaled chest gurgled deeply in his throat, and the sensation of an intestinal tract and several major organs somehow reforming from the touch of magic stolen from another was near ecstasy.

As his torso slowly glued back together, his lungs were created anew, and thus the power of speech came back to him, though rasped with the choking dust swallowed and tasting much like the sands of his homeland. "...i h-hate...b-being buried..." He studied the little device he had salvaged from the debris only moments before, having slipped from Goliath's belt during the battle and now secured in his hand, and he formed a smile as best he could with the cold features of a skull. "...goliath..."


"..goliath..." came the crackle through Elisa's commlink, that stopped the detective dead in her tracks just before she and her husband reached the end of the alleyway. Goliath heard too with pinpointed hearing, Sobek's voice sputter through the private digital channel. "...I a-am...not finished..."

"Yes, we are, bastard." Elisa answered against her better judgment, declaring all too stubbornly.

"...The not finished!! In has merely ascended to the second level, with much higher stakes...with the surprise I planted on top of the DeMoro building..."

Elisa's heart grew cold, a spreading frigidity spreading throughout her chest in yet another of the madman's schemes. "What have you done?"

"...Though the premise is rather tiresome of any adversary you have faced, it is something that I'm sure you will enjoy..."


"...Something I assured would continue the game even if we were interrupted by something even as inane as a human mongrel bitch and her knife..."

Brooklyn perked up, having heard the entire conversation through the comm channel Sobek had inadvertently opened to all carriers of the devices. And with his entrapment inside the castle, he could only narrow his eyes into thinned, charcoal slits and gasp, "What?"


"...Something I know will tear from you a part of your soul, as I did your wings from your body..."

"Wings??" the lost sister gasped, having eavesdropped on her own commlink, and now learning of the extent of her brother's injuries. A dagger pierced through her heart, a painful throbbing mounted in the base of her throat. " the dragon..." From her place in the Eyrie hospital her helplessness was proven, and the desperate need to aid Goliath was suppressed by heavy walls and duty to the patients she watched over. As Dr. Pierce readied for the arrival of another patient, as Hudson remained an acute distance from Maria and Delilah delved into the simplest of awkward smalltalk with Iliana, the lost sister stood silently, and solemnly in a flurry of activity erupting all around her. Her eyes trailed to the secured window staring out into the night sky wracked by distant storms, where her brother was lost and wounded and dying in the cold streets far from her grasp. "It must be a bomb." she whispered, perceptive to what Sobek had planned by the voice so cold, and by the intent so very plain and teased to the recipients in so many words left unsaid. "And Goliath will try to stop it no matter his injuries...or the cost to himself..."

"You okay?" said Dr. Pierce, stopping to rest a hand to her shoulder bared from the hem of her tunic dress, and inquire when she fell silent and still in the midst of the preparation for Rose's arrival.

Her eyes were glistening and apologetic to a friend she held in high regard, a teacher of sorts to the new world alongside her clan. "Dr. Alan," the moniker dropped from her lip like the last note in a ballad, with a smile regretful of what she felt she must do, "I have to go. Or like the stubborn man he is, he'll sacrifice himself."

"Go?" he echoed, misunderstanding. "What are you..."

"I cannot allow that." She traced the pronounced notch in his cheek with talons telling more than she was ever prepared to give. "Keep making miracles, Dr. Alan." She tore from him with such speed as to bring a subtle rush of wind from behind the doctor. Towards the small window locked and secured by a heavy steel plate, she wrenched it open and prepared to launch herself into the winds buffeted against the building.

The scent of rain and ocean salt hit the entire room all too fiercely, with Hudson and Delilah giving their attention to the escaping gargess only as she slipped away.

"What the hell are you doing?!" Pierce cried after her, his gaze wide and terrified of her slim chances to even survive, let alone grant aid to her beloved brother. "Damnit, wait!! I need you!" It was becoming desperate, his tone, from obligation to friendship to an inescapable attraction he called to her and implored to her not to risk such a foolish stunt. "Don't go..." But his voice settled on empty air, for she was already gone, and lost into a war zone wracked by winds. She had now become the prey to an enemy that promised her death if she was discovered outside the safety of her den.

She dropped like a stone, using gravity to propel her towards the streets only inches from the descending floors of the Eyrie's steel exterior. The wind and the cascades of water screamed past her sleek shape in a barreled, swirling tempest, and she hoped to escape discreetly without attracting the steel hunters circling above. It was an assumption all too flawed, as a bright, blinding light soon settled on her falling form. One of the attack helicopters had spotted her on its pass around, and dropped in altitude to follow her.

"We've spotted one!!" screamed the pilot in fear and near giddiness, seeing an actual creature attempt an escape, and falling almost as fast as his machine could fly. "An orange colored female heading straight towards the ground!"

"...Then destroy it..." came the order through the pilot's communications system, issued in prescribed efficiency from a leader far above them. "...Now..."

A mind like a living computer, the lost sister tested the winds with exacting senses and analyzed her best chances in cold, mechanical fashion. The helicopter descended fast and shadowed her, breathing a motorized hiss across her skin, but she kept her eyes on the street below, growing closer with every passing second. Her speed increased, and the sheer force of the plummet ripped against her flesh. She waited until the last second, as the rhythmic throb grew louder over the driving rain. She waited still, until her flesh registered the rotor's pounding right above her.

Metal exploded, bullets flew, and a cold fire was released from the attack craft's smaller wings, nipping at her body and streaking orange with crimson. She angled her form between the dual streams of projectiles gouging a thousand little craters in the Eyrie's surface the entire descent.

She waited still.

Until the moment provided her an escape when reaching near the ground, and she opened her wings, and though she widened the target to the helicopter, it was forced to swerve from the deadly drop towards the ground and correct itself before it was too late. She had no such problem, riding the winds and taming the storm. She easily slipped underneath the blindspot of the confused craft and used the surrounding darkness and her speed to slip into the labyrinth of buildings.

"...Echo Two to Hawk...we lost it..."


"Did she make it?!" Brooklyn snapped angrily at the electronic facade of the computer intelligence, having heard of his sister's daring flight and the carnage brought upon the building by her escape into the night. "Mother?!!"

She rechecked her surrounding cameras and sensors. "I believe so."

Brooklyn sighed in relief, but tinged with infuriation at an irrational stunt not associated with the once timid inventor. "Damn," he then muttered, when seeing Mother's exterior cameras catch the frenzied activity of the smaller helicopters, intensifying their search about the building and castle and angered by the fact they allowed a gargoyle to escape, "I thought I was the impetuous one. She just stirred up the hornet's nest, and if someone else tries to leave, they may not be as lucky as she was."

Broadway turned to his brother. "Maybe we should escape." he offered quickly, preferring a battle, but wanting to spare his clan, his family. "Let them come, let them search an empty castle."

"And go where?" Brooklyn cut back. "They know we live here, or they wouldn't have come, and we'll forever be in retreat if we don't face them now. And with our sister's little stunt, they have even more reason to believe gargoyles are here, and they won't give up until the entire building is stripped down and more innocents they deem to be traitors are killed." Brooklyn sadly shook his head, the revelation of Goliath's injuries detrimental to his spirits. "But just maybe, she can get there in time...before Sobek does any more damage." He leaned onto the desk, and sighed. "Goliath, I'm sorry...Mother, it's time to raise the shield."

"I am..." She paused and flickered slightly, her expression changing to reflect a mood programmed by circuitry and hard-drives. "I am unable to activate the external shielding. Someone has blocked my access with an even higher security override."

"What?!" he snapped, now suddenly deprived of his greatest defensive weapon, and his mind settled on only one person besides Goliath with the proper access. He scurried his gaze across the room, between the members of the clan and noticing an absence. "Where the hell is Xanatos?!"


"...we must...stop it..." he wheezed, steering abruptly from the alleyway and into the empty street. Usually meticulously vigilant to his place and existence in the human world below lest he expose himself, Goliath now seemed indifferent to such disclosure in the face of Sobek's threat. Through the driving rain, he fell into full view to anyone who would happen to peer outside their window only to see a seven foot, seven inch gargoyle rambling past. "...Sobek...will kill...more..."

"Goliath!" Elisa chased after him, determined to stop him or at least conceal him away back into the crawlways littered through the whole of Manhattan, but even she could not halt the bewildered path he stubbornly set himself upon.

Dripping streams of blood down his body, leaking from underneath his makeshift bandage soaked entirely through, he lumbered on in the damnably tenacious instinct to protect now warped by fatigue, injuries and near psychosis. Elisa was nearly trampled by her own husband, the gargoyle stumbling and loosing his footing on the slick streets and collapsing against her upon a brownstone wall. She was luckily held from being crushed by Goliath's bracing arm. "Because'll destroy..." the gargoyle whispered painfully. "I must...stop it..."

"You can't do anything in your condition!" Elisa flooded air sodden by rain with a scream against him, to better drill into a singular notion that would deprive her of everything she had lived and continually risked that existence for. "Look at you!" Her hands clutched into bruised skin not to inflict pain, but for him to better heed her through the thick barrier of pain. "You're gushing blood by the bucketful! We have to get you back to the castle...or at least somewhere safe."

"...I am the one...he wants..." Goliath argued, his words forced, his body trembling in the desperate need for rest and a replenishment of blood. "I am his obsession, and...even with my presence, I place those I swore to danger..." He pushed himself from the wall, and back into the dimly lit street, awash in rainwater turning dry pavement into a black stream lit in sporadic, broken streetlight amber.

"Let someone else handle this! I'll call for back-up!"

"No time...I must...protect..."

"And die in the gutter in the process?!"

"If need be..." Goliath stumbled away, over a quarter ton of weight and brawn struggling to stay on his feet, and stumbling like some drunkard through the rain outlining his contours in the spatter of sky-bred tears against flesh. "I...cannot deny who...I am..."

Eyes teared, tired and blurred to the sight of her mate's obstinate march into death now reduced to a timid crawl, the injuries grievous, hemorrhaging, and slowly siphoning from him his life, spilling to the streets remnants of his soul. "You stubborn, thick-headed..." she whispered and trailed off, quickening her pace to catch his. "No wonder I fell in love with you." Goliath looked to the slender woman nudging herself into the crook beneath his arm, to aid in steadying his path. "If you're going to sacrifice your life," she affirmed, "then let me stay by your side."

Goliath noticed she would not look directly at him, for if she were to meet her eyes to his own, she may decide against this.

"...He is far too valiant for his own good in any century..." came another, very familiar voice through the commlink shared between the two. "...But willful, and always inflexible..."

Goliath raised his eyes overhead, searching through the darkened sheathe for any silhouette that would heed his beloved sister's presence. "My s-sister?" he questioned the voice pocketed inside the tiny machine pinned to Elisa's leather coat. "Where...where are you?"

"...I am almost to the building now. Before you decide to play the eternal hero, perhaps you will allow me to try instead..."


It was a landing anything but graceful, the membranes of her wings compromised by holes torn by bullets, and thus, her flight was erratic and she touched to the building's barbed crown not with elegance but instead a staggered thump. "Elisa is right," she responded wearily, "you are far too important to endanger your life."

Wounded, but far too vigilant in her mission, she trawled across the building she had just arrived at, searching for any sign of any such device of explosive power. The sheer amount of information in her head flowed past her eyes in a chaotic, confusing swirl, the clever sister fearfully scanning through heating vents and powerboxes upon a wide, leveled rooftop, examining each and every electric for fear it may hold inside of it Sobek's wrath.

"...Sister, please..." it was Goliath, dribbling a limp response into the comm. "...Don't..."

It was a curling of her fawning lips bittersweet, her brother brutally deprived of his wings but still thinking only of anyone but himself. "Rest, Goliath, conserve your strength." she replied, as an air conditioning duct was torn apart by her own two hands and yet yielded nothing. "You have suffered enough tonight."


"You are needed far more than I." she argued. "Therefore it is better to risk my life instead of yours. I do this for you, my brother." She was bleeding from her side and wings, a golden seep through her tunic, but the pushed the pain away to better concentrate on her frantic search, allowing her recreated body to heal itself. She upturned everything, and used delicate fists to break apart metal paneling and forage a path across the tarred rooftop. She knew the Egyptian to be perhaps laughing in her hunt, the fact he brought such fear to those he wished to torment satiating a blackened heart. Perhaps it was even a hoax. But from what she had learned about Sobek, she knew this to be very, terrifyingly real.

And thus her search continued, until almost every structure upon the rooftop, whether decorative or functional, had been opened by brute force. An unobtrusive panel once locked and secured against anything but a gargoyle was effectively broken open. She paused, for buried within the circuitry of a main circuit breaker, an object rested silently that served to widen ebon eyes and spark a morbid interest in the fact her hunt had revealed not an explosive as previously thought, but a small orb, it's light spilling in slow measure from the panel enclosure.

"It is not a bomb," she reported into her commlink, hoping to alleviate her brother, "it is some kind of...glowing blue orb wrapped in ancient ribbon." It appeared as glass, with a surface sheen like crystal and a leisurely pulsating light centered within. The bindings tied loosely around the orb were indeed ancient, papyrus, with faded hieroglyphs. "The writing is Egyptian, I have seen it in one of the books in the library." She poked at it, the orb, curiously and thus dangerously, and with a mere touch with her talons, it flickered, and rippled like waves in a pond. The orb responded as if a piece of the ocean held in a perfect sphere and she smiled when seeing the surface wrinkles slow and eventually cease all movement, becoming completely, eerily still once more. It was warm, and so seemingly unassuming the sister would not have given it a second thought without Sobek's gloating. "I do not see what this tiny orb would be capable of..."


"...m-my dear lady..." he sputtered, his voice a graveled cough echoing through the hollowed cavity in his stomach. He rose shakily from the debris, his torso gutted and marred with a massive hole that placed well on display his insides and the spinal column knitting itself back together. " no idea..." With one hand and arm pressed across the hole to keep his organs still inside, he reached into his belt to a hidden pouch, revealing a tiny glass sphere, roughly the size of an enlarged marble. So small, and yet with the delicacy in which he held the object and the malevolent gleam in his eye, it promised so much more. Sobek released the orb with a flick of his wrist, and it fell to the ground and shattered. A magical trigger. "Boom."



"My sister," placid fear turned to wild panic, as Goliath snatched the commlink from Elisa when hearing Sobek's single cryptic taunt, and pleaded to his clever sister, "get out...GET OUT!!!"


"...GET OUT!!!..."

The dimmed orb now grew furious with light, a deep ocean cresting blue pulsating and swelling and coating the sister's pumpkin flesh in a swaddling of abrasive cobalt. Triggered by Sobek from several blocks away, one orb to another through a mystical link forged through magic, the sheer power compressed into the orb was allowed to breathe. And with the flowing drapery of yellowed bandage stolen from a sarcophagus, the energies mingled and merged and created from an essence lingering for thousands of years a tidal wave of energy.

The lost sister was unable to defend herself from a sudden discharge of fire and energy spreading outwardly in all directions. Her hands splayed to protect her from the fire turning white and stripping her of all senses, she could almost swear she could see through her skin, her bones turning black and charred. Memories wrapped within a blanket of warm emotion, a life lived and a love lost flashed before her as her skin took head on the brunt of the equivalent of nearly half a ton of dynamite. "Goliath," she whispered, moments before everything went black, "I love you..."


"...Goliath, Izzzzhhrrrkkkk......" A moment of serenity, of calm before the storm, of a dignified beauty the building held as it towered above them. Imperial, outdated from the modern structures, but holding a resilient grace its own, until a small, vivid spark rippled through the windows on the top floors. They exploded outwards in columns of fire colored an eerie Caribbean blue, and instantly, was the building engulfed in an explosion that shook the ground and burned the very air. Blinding light first, then a deafening shockwave followed in a ring expanding outwards, and when having recovered from the initial blast that struck even them far below, Goliath and Elisa stared into a fiery threshold torn open into oblivion. The flames blackened by oily smoke curled and distorted, and emerging from the chaos an enormous humanoid shape, born from fire and devastation, and gorging itself on the sheer energy released. A strange being with a stiff, forked tail, a long gaunt body, and a tapering snout tested the air with his claws. Huge erect ears and protruding eyes, it was far from any creature ever seen and created from an almost transparent energy emitting a bright blue glow.

Like a baby born without any skin, a like a soul being puked up from the depths of hell, it bellowed a scream never meant to be heard by mankind, spread across the yawning field of stars before it with an ancient rage left to fester within the sands and a feeble collection of scrounged artifacts. For he was known once as Set, the Egyptian god of anger, and with a temporary rebirth into this realm of mortals, he took from Goliath a precious jewel, his clever sister.

Goliath watched spellbound a consuming explosion that nearly atomized the top three floors, leaving no chance for survivors. He shook violently as the realization soon hit him, and he opened up his lungs and let loose a cry that echoed across the buildings, an eruption of rage and sorrow vomited from his chest and released into the humid, damp air.


It nearly severed the digital frequency in the sheer power being channeled through the commlink, as Sobek bathed in the rapture that was Goliath's tortured, hollow shriek. It was bliss, a narcotic to him, experiencing Goliath's continuing pain and he wished if he could only gut the Wyvern gargoyle and bath in his blood. But that would, of course, end his fun far too prematurely. " piece." he rasped into the commlink. "What a twisted web that weaves when chaos infuses into order. I will destroy everything you hold dear, Goliath, including your precious protectorate."

He could see from his vantage atop the steps outside of the church, the distant building engulfed in mystical flame, only to split apart and give way to the glowing blue figure of Set, one of the most powerful gods from his homeland given new form and predatory function. Impassively, he slipped from his belt matching orbs and let them play and roll in the palm of his hand, the curved surfaces reflecting the strands of light crossing through the clouds above. "Hmmm," he thought aloud, pondering a choice, "Goliath did hold up his end of the bargain. And to not show the same courtesy would truly be," the tiny orbs casually slipped between his fingers and fell to the wet concrete below, shattering upon impact and triggering the release of their distant halves, "evil."

Four more skyscrapers in Manhattan surrounding the church exploded into the same fire that bred Set, almost in perfect, successive chorus. Storm versus storm, fire versus lightning, a rising, irresistible force against an impenetrable, immovable object coalesced frighteningly into pieces torn away, allowing a split second glimpse into Hell itself. More blue fire caused four more fierce detonations, and four more massive figures to be birthed into the tempestuous skies of Manhattan.


They could barely see from their confines of the city, concealing them into the safety of the hollows of an urban landscape. Goliath and Elisa were too helpless, too small to even grasp what action they could take to aid their wounded city against an unimaginable prospect, war against gods reborn.

"...Such beauty, do they not possess?..." Sobek's voice cooed from the commlink, hoping to further erode in any way Goliath's precarious sanity. "...Such power, do they not hold. I once in jest christened them godbombs. They are made by infusing a personal artifact from each of the ancient Egyptian gods with the orbs' powers, and bring to life a small essence of that god. But how long the energy will last to keep them in this existence is unknown..."

He swung his fist through the nearest streetlight, severing the pole in half in a swipe driven by anger and loss, and spilling a shower of sparks to the ground when the pole flickered and toppled. Goliath fell, and huddled and wept for the apparent loss of his sister. Elisa stared towards where Set started the slow, destructive descent towards the ground, and echoing within her heart an emptiness, and a vulnerability to the horrors of all creation having poured out of the depths of supernatural fire. "You son of a bitch..." she whispered, her eyes transfixed in a dulled stare towards the building being demolished from the top down, a grave marked by a ring of fallen debris for the restored sister. "What have you unleashed?"

"...They are gods forgotten by those who once prayed to them, and killed each other in wars that took millions for them. And thus they are angry, and driven by one instinct alone...kill all humans..."


Seductive, where men once fell in droves before her in a crazed, carnal haze and offered to kill if only to please her, to make her full lips curve and breathe to them a whisper of appreciation. Sheathed in translucent robes baring almost her entire form willingly to admiring onlookers, the graceful figure of woman melded with the striking features of a jungle cat in crackling, azure energy. Tufts of sultry fur lined her shoulders, legs and back, and the long tail swaying across the building's facade. She swept her legs across her throne, curling temptingly and luxuriously around the towering structure from which she was birthed, surveying a new land to bring to its knees underneath her. Those within the building she claimed as her throne grew sick, emaciated, and were fallen by just her presence.

For she was Sakmet, a hybrid of woman and feline, a seductress, and the bringer of plague and pestilence.


He arched his broad, strapping back, and planted both feet into a precarious balance atop the edges of the tapered rooftop, crumbling under his weight. Donned in ancient Egyptian warrior garb, and wearing a bearded grimace that reciprocated an intensity to rival the storms, he stood and flexed his new if perhaps temporary frame. Beneath his helmet, eyes drawn inwards radiated the same energy that formed him, and he peered down to the masses scrambling desperately from the falling chunks of brick and mortar. A great spear swelled from his palm, extending into a formidable weapon, and he readied for a battle he thirsted for since disposed and forgotten by modern times.

For he was Septu, a warrior, a tyrant, and the god of war.


Her great paws sprouted talons to better rend the steel and brick of the building her sleek physique had exploded outwards from, and she curled all too comfortably along the highest floors, brushing her body against and crushing any superficial embellishment. She mewed like distant thunder, her belly caressing a growl through its entire, nubile length, and she bared her fangs and crowed a guttural snarl into the winds. Her elegant, stealthy shape fashioned from sparkling ocean-hued energy, bursting with an occasional flare of blue fire, she lashed her tail and severed the building's highest floors in a single swipe, and reveled in the devastation caused so casually.

For she was Menhit, a lioness, a beast, and the goddess of destruction.


Its form coiled around the great spire, a kinetic, azure radiance secreted from its scaled hide, to better flaunt the fact it was made from the energy of a simple dusty relic and a negligent humanity. As if the building were its prey, the serpent spawned from magic wrapped its long, bulbous body around the smooth, faceted surfaces of the skyscraper and tightened, crushing the glass panes mirroring the angry storms, and twisting the iron beams that held such a monstrosity the sky. Under such immense pressure, windows shattered and exploded outward in a deadly rainfall of shard, walls imploded, and the very frame crafted from riveted steel twisted, dooming the building to collapse.

For he was Apep, a serpent, a hunter, and the god of chaos.


Manhattan quickly descended into bedlam and turmoil under an equally furious storm, with the five readymade gods toppling their respective birthplaces to better follow on a single, powerful instinct. They lowered into the streets, and swathed a path of destruction with their towering size. The great snake Apep callously snapped the building it coiled around in two perfect halves, condemning it to a broken stump littered by rubble, and moved on directly into traffic, completely crushing the cars screeching to a sudden halt underneath its great bulk. Septu attacked all that lay in his path, ripping open entire buildings as he silently waged war upon the modern structures rising to his impressive height and beyond, as Menhit bound past him across the rooftops, swiping her claws against any target she deemed worthy of a hunt.

And the creature who brought them back to a flawed, transitory existence merely watched, and drowned in the unified chorus of terrified screams of city dwellers fading into the storms.

Sobek in turn felt the strength returning to his body, and restoring the massive chasm to a lean, repaired torso, though he was indebted to admit Goliath had indeed done incredible damage. Perhaps this was the basis of his true infatuation, to have a worthy foe stand against him at every turn, and simply continue to up the ante with each encounter. And what better to drive a mind unhindered by a soul to persist in such a game, than the fact it will always provide a challenge and a macabre thrill. Sobek smiled, spurred by that very promise.

"I am coming for you, Goliath," he warned the couple on the opposite side of the commlink, wherever they may be, "and your whore." He screamed, and howled and using his great strength threw his arm through an exterior support beam in the front of the church, and another, and another, until the entire structure itself was too weak to support the lasting remnants of roof resting atop. As he nonchalantly descended the steps, beams snapped and walls fragmented and it crumbled from front to back, leaving a plume of dust to erupt outwards and devour the sunken cathedral completely. He left behind a pile of rain-soaked rubble and the skeletal remains of the few beams that would not stubbornly fall, and stalked into the streets of Manhattan, following the spattered trail of blood and the sweet fragrance it gave off. "I have not enjoyed a hunt for a very long time."


"Mother, get me visual!! NOW!!!" Brooklyn screamed his order to the hologram, as she complied and allowed him to view outside of his prison. The exterior cameras were able to focus in on five massive forms tearing apart an entire city block. "Jesus..." he gasped, his city being destroyed around him and he unable to lift a damned finger to help.

"Brooklyn," Angela wheezed helplessly, leaning into Broadway's chest to better support her form lest she collapse from shock, "what do we do?"

His brow drooped on lifeless eyes. "I...I don't know..." he stuttered. "I've never seen anything like this..."

"Brooklyn." It was Mother, being the bearer of yet more devastating news. "The Guild has landed their first helicopter near the courtyard, another on the landing pad." The clan looked at each other, some nervously, and anxiously fingering weapons sheathed to their sides. "They are unloading troops."

"Then this is it." Brooklyn took center, and allowed all eyes to fall on him, allowed the brunt of leadership knowing they now looked to him and depended upon a single command. "No more death or destruction. We play it nice until they push us too far and we make a stand here, and defend our home." He planted a clenched fist into his other palm, a snap of thick flesh and a show of force to bolster his troops. "Here it comes, people. This is what we've been waiting for."


Caked in blood still flowing freely from the vertically torn slit opened down her stomach, Dr. Pierce pressed the surgical gauze into Rose's gash, hoping to sway the languid seep of blood from her insides, the sheer volume a clear indication of severe internal bleeding. She had never appeared more frail, or more delicate than now, being stripped of her robes and her scarred flesh bared to any open eye. But she was too weak to hide her disfigurement away, or to even consider her wound in the face of the young man hovering over her, his hand clutching her so very hard as to ensure she would not fade away from him.

As Annika continued to slash and peel the blood-soaked robes from the nun, Todd pulled Rose's cowl away, to reveal her long, lengthy tress of dark mahogany, littering in a leisurely curl about her shoulders. He wiped the blood away from the edges of her mouth with a moist cloth, and traced his knuckles down the edge of her brow to soothe his cherished caretaker. "You're going to be okay, do you hear me?" he whispered softly, though defiant in tone, providing her the strength she would need to survive. "You're going to be alright..."

But with a surprising swiftness both relieving and terrifying to Todd, Rose snatched upon an arm to his using the last reserves of energy quickly dwindling in her form, her slender fingers tightening onto the cold, steel surface of the Epsilon armor's hide. "...todd..." she gasped, her voice all but submerged in the fluids drowning her lungs, and she churned her garbled words as best she could. Her eyes were wild, so clear and lucid and brimming with a fright Todd had never seen. "...I must tell you...if I die..."

"You're not going to die!!" he yelled back, enfolding her offered hand in the crafted claws of cold technology. "Not tonight, not ever!!"

"...please..." she pleaded to be heard, having trouble remaining conscious, exhausted with the loss of blood and soaking the bedsheets of the hospital stretcher a pale wine. " must know...the truth..."

Todd shook his head, misunderstanding of what could strike such fear into her heart. "Rose, what truth? What is it?"

"...I am...your mother..."


He had lived through several wars between factions, and family, and brothers having built their kingdoms from nothing and embroiled the entire planet in such battles that consumed all who were unfortunate to be caught in the middle. Now history was repeating, the city was under direct assault by deities both foreign and possessed only of deadly instinct. They would follow their baser natures until extinguished of their borrowed power. "His insanity is beyond calculating." whispered the aide decamp, Owen Burnett watching from his employer's office through the massive window wall the gods below tear paths of destruction through the city. "And be damned my limitations."

"One snap of Puck's fingers and all the monsters disappear?" came another voice into the silence.

Owen looked over his shoulder, and found the billionaire dressed for battle, his new armor molded to his frame and perhaps assuring his presence in the heat of the battle to come. "Mr. Xanatos." He turned back, the Puck inside screaming for release against the aura of such incredible energy. "I never knew even Sobek was capable of this."

His eyes thinned as he stood behind the impeccably clothed majordomo, skirting from the urban, lighted landscape to Owen's pale skin rising above his starched jacket collar. "I can assure you he's absolutely insane." he agreed icily. "Can these things be stopped?"

Owen's eyes flashed sapphire for an instant behind his glasses, the presence of fay wanting to burst from this mortal disguise. "I truly don't know." an honest answer, with no wintry bravado he frequently preached. "The gargoyles are no match."

"What about you?"

"Even I would have trouble. They are brimming with energy so fantastic, it rivals anything I've seen besides that of Oberon or queen Titania...except for one, but he's far too young to face these creatures." A shudder passed through him, and he recognized the unwanted emotion as apprehension, perhaps even fear. "I wish we had the resources of Infiniti." He wished only she could break the similar limitations of her own powers, to aid them, to aid her gargoyles. His heart longed for her, and her council, the Puck wanting for a kindred spirit in a time of war. "I wish she were here..."

Xanatos nodded solemnly, and released from his armored forearm a long syringe, stabbing outwards from a hidden compartment. He damned himself for what he was about to do, and what he was perchance about to condemn his city to. "You'll join her soon enough, Owen."

"Mr. Xanatos, what...?"

"I'm sorry, old friend." Before Owen even had the chance to turn and question the odd statement, Xanatos plunged the long needle into the back of his friend's neck, injecting the entirety of a blackened silver fluid into his blood. "But I can't have you ruining everything with your heightened senses."

Owen's breath was instantly stolen, as was the chance to scream in pain, as his blood was set aflame, his veins and arteries rising to the surface of his skin and turning an odd grayish hue. His already pale flesh grew white, pallid and sickly, and Owen Burnett collapsed backwards into Xanatos' arms.

"There are greater forces at work, Owen, than you could surely understand." The billionaire scooped the limp man into his arms and headed towards the far door hidden into the wall. "Security access: Xanatos, David." A panel opened, and a red lens appeared, an eye burning mechanical scarlet and awaiting confirmation. Xanatos leaned down to match his eyes to the lens, and a retinal scanner verified his identity. The door opened to the side, and he stepped into a small, steel cab. An elevator. "The Vault." he stated simply, and the cab powered to attention, lurched and dropped into the bowels of the Eyrie. The door at last opened after a quick journey, and he was met with yet another doorway at the end of a sterilized sterling hall, massive, thick and silently, menacingly boasting its power to keep anything from penetrating its titanium construction. "Voiceprint verification." Xanatos announced clearly. "Xanatos, David."

The door shuddered and split down the center, removing itself slowly from his path to grant the billionaire access to a large chamber lined with gleaming steel, a private vault in which he protected his greatest treasures, and held his greatest secrets. He carried Owen inside past golden crowns, jewels and ancient statues, and immediately felt the eyes of an unusual prisoner follow his every movement, burning through him and condemning wordlessly.

She peered down on him from her entrapment, with eyes deep emerald and flared with bitter, resentful fire. "What have you done to him?!" she snarled, fighting against her bindings with increased resilience when seeing the lifeless form of Owen Burnett being laid to a hospital stretcher and mercilessly strapped down.

"I have injected his blood with nanobots constructed from an iron alloy," Xanatos answered, binding his friend's arms and legs with heavy leather straps, and delicately removing his glasses in respect, the man wheezing for breath, "and I assure you, they are designed to only weaken him, not kill him."

Velvety cream skin bruised and reddened where her wrists and ankles were secured, and even with her powerful magic, the technology suckled the energy from her as fast as she could produce it. A massive steel ring held her in place, her appendages outstretched and pulled taught to limit any movement. "Why are you doing this?" she asked of him, fire burning her voice.

Xanatos turned to the entrapped gargoyle, staring upwards towards Infiniti with a gaze clouded of emotion, obscuring the guilt twisting his chest. "You are the semi-omnipotent, all-seeing guardian spirit." A cold response, bred with a breath visible in the air. "You tell me."

Infiniti narrowed her glare. "My senses have been somehow dulled by your bothersome technology. But my first guess is that you are being coerced, for I believe you would never betray the clan."

Xanatos scoffed, a chuckle having escaped from his throat. "You thought wrong, my dear Infiniti."

The massive steel ring suspended above the floor by thick, connecting cables and conduits was suddenly gorged with a burst of energy she released in her anger, ironically being fed directly into the Eyrie's power systems. It held and stole from her enough power to feed the entire building ten times over, and with her continued resistance, she expunged much. "It seems I was far too trusting. But I will soon break these bonds, David Xanatos," she warned with a growl, "and in reprimand for causing harm to my gargoyles, you shall burn in the tempest of my magicks."

Xanatos nodded simply, a deal with the devil he knew would condemn his soul. "I know."

"And what about Alexander? He could be killed..."

Xanatos paused, and closed his eyes to the mere mention of his son, in more danger than anyone could ever realize. "You and I both know Alexander is far beyond any mortal concerns." he then seethed, bracing his argument beyond what even this immortal spirit could even fathom.

"Then why?" It was a softer tone, to plead to a better remnant she knew to be suppressed inside of the billionaire.

"Sacrifices must be made, my dear Infiniti." Xanatos took his leave, and allowed a bare whisper of his voice to filter through the cavernous chamber and echo across the walls as the massive doors closed behind him. "Sacrifices must be made."


He touched to the stones ancient before this land was even tamed, and a jolt traveled the length of his spine in an aversion to his entering deep within enemy territory. The winds were wild and angry, and tried to push the intruder from his triumphant ascent onto Wyvern's wide courtyard. He was witness to the sheer, awe-inspiring beauty of an architectural masterpiece, pieced together and spared the ravages of oblivion by modern technology and millions of dollars rising to an astronomical cost after eight long years.

He was almost impressed.

His eyes behind the frosted white slits of his mask were searching, and cautious bordering on paranoid of surroundings far too peaceful. He noticed to the side the famed statues resting atop the cornices and staring out into a horizon marked by clouds, and perhaps the very reason the rumors had submerged from the depths of urban legend and myth, plaguing the reputation of Wyvern. He walked towards the closest, a guardian frozen in ferocious stance, and noticed the rain did not touch the surface and instead fell completely through. He waved a hand through the statue when questioning their solidity, flickering slightly, a hologram, and nodded in the subtle attempt to sway the hunters. "A novel try."

Black turned to the others unloading from the helicopters, almost half of the Guild's forces having taken to the castle surface. They seemed an army, each a perfect duplicate of their comrades with matching suits, the sharp contrast dulled by the falling rain. Their masks presented more than just soldiers but warriors on some holy quest, and following a single man no better than they were in status or physical form, but by his simple words they made a doctrine and they heeded unquestioningly to protect their families and loved ones. He watched them continue to disembark, now allowing the third helicopter to land on the designated pad on a level below him and serve to add to their already impressive ranks.

"Greetings," a voice breathed in the winds, "welcome to castle Wyvern."

Black pulled the guns strapped to either side of his torso within the long jacket, and swerved to aim them towards a tone far too amiable in the presence of an army invading.

With nothing but a long, flowing sleeveless dress to protect her from the brunt of the storm raging just above them, a human woman had materialized as if from magic. It was Mother, altering her holographic appearance to disguise her true gargoyle ancestry. "How may I be of assistance?"

Two heavyweight Super VP-8s, long-barreled and dual-clipped, were held remarkably motionless towards the woman, as Black studied the casual arrival behind him intensely, the rain passing through her as it did the statues. "Where are the creatures?" he demanded coolly.

Mother tilted her head to the side. "Creatures?" she echoed innocently.

"Please don't play coy with me, ma'am." he addressed her politely, though knowing she was as false as the statues lining the cornices and tallest turret above. "Now, I'm only going to ask once. Where are the gargoyles you are hiding in this castle?"

Mother shook her head. "I am sorry, but this castle is empty of any presence save for Mr. Xanatos, and he has several concerns regarding you and your colleagues trespassing on his property."

A smile disguised behind his mask, Black deemed the approach of this hologram as a very clever stratagem. "We have been watching this castle for weeks now, and from the recent activities of even more, we know an entire clan roosts here. Or was the recent escape of the orange female just a trick of the storm?"

Mother raised her eyebrows, thin and delicately arched upwards, a trait granted when her appearance was altered to human. "I am sorry," whispered the hologram, walking to the water fountain and resting her form of projected photons to the louvered edge forming a bench, "but I think you are mistaken."

He was quickly losing patience, annoyed to the fact she was blatantly lying to him. "Either you tell us," he hissed, the geniality all but lost to infuriation, "or we move in by force."

Mother appeared to release a sigh into the air, perhaps displeased in her attempts to sway them. "They seem...determined, Brooklyn," she reported to the leader waiting just inside the walls, "I see no other choice."

"...Nor do I..." replied Brooklyn. "...Do what you have to, Mother..."

"As you wish." It seemed as if the entire castle shuddered, and from stone came metal, birthed from ancient Scottish granite emerged modern armaments. From either curved wall or buttressed crown, almost every turret opened up a hidden panel on their blemished surface, and the stone recessed and slid away, revealing massive, double-barreled guns on hydraulic arms, each mechanically brandishing a laser targeting sight and shrouding the entire castle in searching crimson beams. Within the Eyrie hangar below, the entire line of Steel Clan robots powered up one by one in precise succession, and the ceiling dropped from automated launch racks the Cyber-Biotics drones, unfurling and powering and waking from a slumber readied for battle. The bay door opened only a crack to allow the machines to escape into the sky, rising up into the smoky heavens of the surrounding turrets and encircling the Guild members spread out across the entire castle exterior and the two attack helicopters holding their rigid aerial pattern.

The Guild members were now surrounded by weaponry far sophisticated then anything ever seen or expected in this medieval place, and following each and every movement of the suited invaders were the weapons, both stationary and hovering around them, and awaiting their chance. Black held to his own guns, seeing an easy victory devolve into something much more costing with the mechanical creations each choosing a target. "You're armed well." he yielded to the impressive display, as Mother noticed the faint traces of well-concealed apprehension. "You do realize we're going to do everything in our power to ensure the destruction of the gargoyles here."

"Yes," Mother conceded all too smugly, "I know."

To be continued...