Name: Denigoddess2001
Addy: Denigoddess2001@yahoo.com
Saga: Angels Amongst Us
Episode: Until Twilight Descends Upon The Children of the Dragon
Installment: 20
Rating: R (sexual content, language)

Characters: Daria Delaney Damson -a Djinni, Demetrius Nightkind -leader of the Linoma clan, Wren Summers-Nightkind: the Linoma clan's Second-In-Command, MacBeth -a warrior king and one of Demetrius' lieutenants, Demona/ Dominique, Iantalius -DeMahri Fleet commander, Demona/ Dominique -a new member of the Linoma clan, Lysander -an ancient vampire from Pompeii, Lieutenant Corona -Weapons/ Security officer aboard the El-Lahaimu, Second-In-Command Dacient -first officer of the El-Lahaimu and assistant clan leader,

Summary: The entire DeMahri Starfleet has come to Earth to reunite with the lost children of the Dragon.

Disclaimer: I do not own Gargoyles. They are property of Buena Vista/ Disney. No infringement intended. The allusions to another TV show are left to the discretion of the reader. Email me if you can figure it out. I've also thrown in a thinly veiled tribute to a science-fiction movie franchise that I highly enjoy. I'll give you three guesses. No copyright violations are intended. Please do not sue. All original characters are property of their creatorix and Deity, Denigoddess2001.

Author's Note: [Bracketed words indicate private thought or psionic transmission.]

NOTE: MY EMAIL ADDRESS HAS CHANGED!!! IT IS NOW DENIGODDESS2001@YAHOO.COM. Please send all adoring praise, constructive commentary and flamboyant flames to the new address. Your Goddess thanks you! :D

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"We have but held the creatures at bay." He said grimly. "MacBeth and the others arrived when all hope seemed lost. We cannot remain here, Wren. Time is our enemy."

"Lad, I think you might want to be looking at what is outside our window." MacBeth's voice called to them.

"I told you to look after Daria." Demetrius barked.

"Aye, and she's resting peacefully in the next room." He riposted. "But I think that Demona's spell for aid has just come true and then some."

"What addled words speak thee?" The Highland lilt of the Gargoyle came through moreso than usual.

"Just look out the window." MacBeth motioned Wren and Demetrius to the window.

"By the Dragon....." Demetrius' voice failed him.

Above the twilight skyline of Linoma hovered fourteen silver spheres. Above Summerlands hovered a craft easily twice the size of the mansion. Upon its hull was emblazoned the representation of a shield. In the midst of the shield was something winged and wondrous. The blue and gold symbol struck an ancient chord within the clan leader. "What is it?"

"This is better than Star Wars." Tina quietly gasped. The Sanguine stood with jaw slack next to the azure Dame.

"My dear, that's a picture of the Phoenix Gate." Demona's voice told him as she entered the room. "And it's on a space ship."

"But...how?"

"Allow me to introduce you to someone I think you shall want to meet, Demetrius." Demona motioned to someone in the hall to step into the bedchamber.

Demetrius' mouth fell agape as the massive figure blocked sight of the doorway. The creature stood a good head taller than Demetrius at seven feet. The beast had skin the hue of slate and scales forming a natural jet breastplate extended the length and width of the creature's chest. He stood there garbed in a sarong around his waist the color of deep forest. Wings were cloaked around broad shoulders. Green folds glistened with almost a metallic element. Demetrius' lavender eyes looked into the jade elliptical eyes of the creature before him.

The beast was primal and far larger than any Gargoyle he had ever seen. Yet, there was no mistaking this creature for anyone else other than a Gargoyle. He seemed closer to being Kin of the Goddess than any of the Children of Stone. Demetrius again found himself at a deficit for language.

"Oh, boy. I think we're in trouble." Tina whispered.

"You and me both, good lady." Whispered MacBeth in return.

"I am Iantalius, commander of the DeMahri Fleet and captain of the ship El-Lehaimu." The booming voice was quiet and filled every inch of the room. "On behalf of the Council of Avalahaun, I represent the DeMahri Alliance. I am here to find the lost children of the Dragon. I have found you and I come to take you home."

TO BE CONTINUED...

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In a time when there are no more heroes...
In a world that lay in ashes,
There are those who rise from the ruins
And champion the cause of the Greater Good.
They protect those who fear and hate them.
They defend the innocent fiercely and well
Without hesitation or reservation.
With Talon and tail, wing, heart and Magick.
They are the guardians that are the first and final seat of authority.
They are Ex Cathedra.
They are Gargoyles.

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

April 20, 2006
Linoma Metroplex
Summerlands Estate
6:03AM Near sunrise



Demetrius studied the towering Sire that stood a good head and shoulders over him. He noticed the slightly reptilian aura and flavor that exuded from Iantalius. The ebony warrior was not accustomed to looking upward to meet another's gaze. [So he is one of our ancestors. ]

"Wellmet, Captain Iantalius." Demetrius extended one black hand toward the DeMahri. "I am Demetrius, I Linoma's clan leader."

The gray DeMahri heartily grasped the extended forearm of his smaller brother. "Wellmet, Demetrius. I have looked forward to this day virtually all my life. My fleet has searched for Earth for almost ten thousand of your years."

"Ten thousand years?" Demetrius' lavender eyes widened slightly at the number.

"Yes. When you walked upon Avalahaun, you and the Sojourner gave us many pieces of wisdom. You gave us the Tome of Tacitus. The Sojourner left behind her writings. Her and Tacitus' works became the basis of our faith. Those books told us of a world with a brilliant golden sun and a world with blue sky. Here we would find the lost children of the Dragon and Skylaris' faithful."

Wren and Demetrius stared at one another in wordless bewilderment. She helplessly shrugged. "I have no clue what he was talking about."

Iantalius withdrew a small crystal tucked within his rich violet tunic. He removed the necklace from about his neck and took Wren's hand in his. He gently placed the crystal in her palm and closed her fingers around it. "Sojourner, this shard contains all the wisdom you gave us. The Tome of Tacitus and Words of Wren are infused in the crystal. Read and you will understand."

"I don't know what you mean." She tried to push the crystal back to Iantalius.

"Of course, my mistake. You can't bond ~you don't know how." Iantalius reached into a pouch hanging from his belt. He withdrew a small disc. "This is another forum of information for us. All that is within the crystal also is inscribed upon this disc. Do you have a scrying contrivance?"

"A WHAT?" Wren was at a lost to what Iantalius meant.

"You have no scrying capability?" He cocked his head in a gesture that was remarkably similar to Gargoyle body language. "I was briefed by my officers that this world's technological echelon included space travel and scrying erudition."

Daria stepped forth. She noticed that a small gem about the size of her thumbnail blinked in rapid succession of blue, rose, and chartreuse. "Excuse me, I don't mean to be rude. What is that blinking on your lapel?"

He saw the young Djinni point to the flashing gem. "That is my lexicon decipherer."

"Translator?" Wren asked.

"Yes, a ....translator." Iantalius tried the new word slowly on his lips. "Yes."

Wren rubbed her chin in contemplation. "Can you understand us without your....translator?"

"No, none of you speak our language." Iantalius shook his head. "To our knowledge, my people's tongue is lost to you."

Wren spoke to him in Latin.

Iantalius shook his head. "I do not understand."

Wren paused. She spoke to him Aramaic.

He silently shook his head.

"That is not our tongue."

Wren tried the one phrase that she had heard Demetrius use often in exasperation. "Menash Kah."

"Sojourner! You're speaking an archaic dialect, but I understand you." His brow ridges furrowed in deliberation. "I didn't realize that your people knew the vulgarities."

"I just spoke what we consider DeMahri." Wren told him.

"It's a obscure dialect not used in over two thousand years." Iantalius informed her. "It's reserved for the shamans and clerics of our clans. Communication is difficult but not impossible. With patience and diligence, we will understand one another."

"Let me give it a try." Daria's eyes twinkled. She turned to Wren. "I have a hunch that will make everything a hell of a lot easier."

"We haven't anything to lose." Wren motioned toward Iantalius. "Go ahead, give your idea a shot."

Daria cleared her throat and spoke...more like growled.... a language that was a combination of feral growls, lilting vowels, inhuman melodies and rhythmic syntax. A low humming filled the area as the words fell from her lips. Iantalius bowed respectfully to her and then replied in kind in what sounded like the same otherworldly celestial vernacular.

"Bingo." Daria turned to Wren and smiled. "He speaks fluent Draconic."

"No wonder I couldn't understand him." She shook her head in exasperation. "I can't understand or translate non-human languages."

"No biggie, Wren. That's what you've got me for." Daria smiled. "We can remedy that here and now."

"Magick?"

"What else?" The Djinni countered. "Works for me!"

"Do it." Wren nodded.

The Daemon brought her hands together as if she were praying in church. Her head bowed so that Wren saw only a crown of chocolate curls. She heard a rich alto fill the room with a metrical descant and a lavender aura engulfed the two women. A rich, warm feeling washed over the Fae and a broad smile crossed her features. She nodded enthusiastically and turned to face Iantalius as the dim glow of light dissipated.

They spoke for several minutes while MacBeth, Demetrius, Demona, Bast and Jaidyn merely stood listening and not understanding. Daria translated as the two conversed. It was revealed that a scrying contrivance was how his decipherer translated the Draconic word for computer. Once that was made clear, Demetrius took the disc and made his way to the den followed by the others.

"Be on the look out for Vampires." He told MacBeth.

MacBeth motioned Jaidyn to join him as they took positions at the door of the den. Demetrius inserted the disc into the hard drive of his computer and scanned the contents. "I can't read this."

Daria leaned over her brother's wing-cloaked shoulder. She easily rested her hand upon him. "I can. It's Draconic all right. The grammar's a bit different that what I'm used to, but it's definitely Draconic."

She pointed to the far left column. "In Draconic, the script is up and down from left to right. In English, we record in lines that go across left to right. This says that the journal was translated into Draconic by someone called Kirn."

"Kirn!" Wren exclaimed. "It makes perfect sense. I must have left my journal there and he kept it."

"Pretty much." Daria traced her fingers along the length of the alien writings. "He lived to be ...damn it...this doesn't make sense...lived to be a very old bull...he translated your words of wisdom and those of Tacitus. He started a Temple dedicated to Skylaris and brought the "revelation of the Sojourner and the Champion" to the "beleaguered, wearied hearts of Avalahaun.... that's what it says anyway."

"Amazing." Demetrius found his voice. "Sister, what else does it say?"

Daria's heart warmed at the endearing reference. "Kirn's time in this world exposed him to Magicks not native to Avalahaun. He and one of Ashanti's children named Eliu married and they had a son named Gallic. Gallic, according to Kirn, was a great warrior and explorer. Because of Kirn's exposure to alien magicks, his son was born resembling the great heroes of old."

Daria's brown eyes darted along the computer screen. Her voice was pitched with excitement. "Gallic was born resembling the heroes of old. He had eyes that lit with fire when angered. He was born with wings like a harpy and a tail like that of a great lizard. No creature like him had walked ...what it says here is...'"no creature such as Gallic had walked upon the Face of the Keep for countless eons"...I'm guessing the phrase, face of the keep, refers to Avalahaun."

"It does." Iantalius seemed fascinated by Daria's reading of the sacred texts.

"Anywhoo.." She flashed him a quick grin and continued to read over Demetrius' shoulder. "Gallic became Heir to Ashanti's throne. His married Raziah, a daughter of an Elvin noble, and thus, the ancient DeMahri populated the planet. Within a thousand years, their numbers went from one thousand to over one hundred million. Combine a bit a good incantation with sex drive and instant population explosion."

"There have never been so many of us." Demetrius gasped.

"You got that right." Daria nodded in agreement. She turned to Iantalius. "Gargoyles can only lay eggs once every twenty years? How did your people populate your world so quickly?"

"Our Dames lay twenty to thirty eggs per breeding season."

"TWENTY TO THIRTY?" Demona exclaimed. "An egg is easily the size of a small human child."

"No, you must be mistaken." Iantalius turned his attention to the Azure Dame. He cupped his hands together so that the space within was approximately the size of an orange. "Our eggs are only this big."

"How can that be?"

"Our scientists have several theories about the physiological differences between our peoples." He spoke slowly as if carefully choosing his words. "It is hypothesized that the radiation of your world's sun might have caused transmutations in the heritable essence of your species."

"What?" Demetrius seemed at a loss.

"The radiation caused mutations in Gargoyle DNA." Wren supplied.

"I understand."

"Do your people turn to stone?" Daria asked.

"Turn to stone?" Iantalius's bewilderment at her question gave her the answer she sought. "No living creature can do that."

"Hee hee hee...you don't know Gargoyles very well yet." She gave the DeMahri fleet commander a cryptic smile.

"Whoa...." Daria read silently for several seconds. "Were you really embarrassed when Demetrius bound your wounds in the labyrinth?"

A warm flush crossed Wren's cheeks. She remembered the night so long ago on Ainran. She and Demetrius had battled some of LuKasha's minions. A goblin had wounded her and she had killed him with her Annulus. Demetrius nonchalantly had removed his sarong and stood there nude in the moonlight for all to see.... including Wren. She had been rather flustered by the primal masculine beauty of his masculine endowments. He had taken the strips from his shredded sarong and used them to bind and bandage Wren's wounds.

[I had written about that. I can't believe Kirn actually translated it. Oh God, I am so embarrassed.]

[Beloved.] Demetrius reached along their psionic bond with passion glinting in his eyes. [You humble me with your flattering descriptions of my member. It is good to know that you found me pleasing then.]

Wren blushed sixteen more shades of red with that psychic communication.

"As you can see, these are your words." Iantalius told Wren. "Your love for Demetrius is legend throughout Ainran's history. Your words told us of a world where Skylaris' lost children resided. My clan was chosen by the High Priest eons ago to search the cosmos for the lost Children. Our scans of this planetary system indicated life forms similar to the DeMahri. Had we not wanted to catalog a Nebula nearby, we would have missed your planet entirely."

"Fascinating."

"Hmm..." Demona shook her head. "I cast a spell for an army of Gargoyles and this is what we get."

"A strange celestial phenomena originated from this sector that we call the Skylaris Effect." Iantalius turned to her. "Several flashes of violet were seen from the planet's surface once we entered synchronous orbit. We sent an away team to investigate. We found seven clusters of creatures with lifesign readings matching our own. We knew that we had finally found the lost Children of the Dragon."

"Wow." Daria gave a low whistle. "Boy, does it all come together."

"Iantalius, you have proven your words beyond doubt." Demetrius swiveled around in the office chair to face the DeMahri. "We are at great risk. There are creatures that wish to kill all of my kind and my clan. There are humans hunting us at this moment. Security monitors indicate that there are twenty-three vampires at the western perimeter. There is no way that my clan can survive another attack. Can you help us?"

"Of course." Iantalius touched the flashing gem on his shirt and uttered a few words in Draconic. "Demetrius, the El-Lehaimu has locked the weapons array on the encroaching party. One word from me and the entire lot will be eliminated."

"Do it."

Iantalius spoke a few words and a few seconds later there was a flash of light outside the window. "The targets were eliminated."

"By the dragon!"

The group talked for another hour as the DeMahri ship hovering overhead fired upon the trespassing undead. At the end of the hour, Iantalius had the El-Lehaimu scan Linoma. The previous hour's reading indicated 231 vampires within a hundred mile radius. Current readings showed that fewer than 16 remained. A unanimous cheer rose from the group.

"It's almost sunrise." Wren mentioned to her mate. "Jaidyn and Bast need a place to perch."

"True. But we all need our rest. Who will protect them whilst we sleep?"

"Allow my security forces to guard your haven while you sleep." Iantalius volunteered.

"Done then." Demetrius nodded. Jaidyn returned from his guard post and knelt with wings spread to their full length. Bast fell to her front limbs. She raised one hand and exposed curved talons and sharp fangs. Her feathered wings ruffled as she snarled toward the group. The first brilliant rays of sun streamed through the window. The beams fell upon the two battle-weary Gargoyles. Iantalius watched in mute fascination as he watched the two Gargoyles slowly turn from flesh to stone.

"How can that be?" He asked in bafflement. "No living creature can turn to stone."

"Allow us to fill you in." Wren took his arm. "I'm sure you're hungry. We'll tell you over breakfast."

"Breakfast?" Iantalius asked, not understanding the word.

"Mahsma." Demetrius supplied.

"Ah...the first meal of the day. It is a strange time for it. It's nearly time for rest."

"We will explain all the exceptions and idiosyncrasies of our particular clan." The clan leader told the DeMahri.

"I am looking forward to this."

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

Iantalius of the Clan Eiceni (pronounced ICY KNEE) found these Terran cousins strange. The purple one called Daria had neither wings nor tail, yet all considered some great prophet of the Goddess. Skylaris had given birth to many children throughout the ages, yet none took it upon themselves to be her spokesperson. What made this one energetic female distinctive from the countless progeny of the Dragon?

He found it odd that they supped together with Simianites. Simianites were valued pets and servants ~not equals. They had a valued role in DeMahri Culture. The writings of Kirn had instructed the clans how to treat the frail creatures given to them by the Goddess as companions. He considered himself a kind overlord of the Simianite vassals that resided in his Keep. He spared both rod and talon and in return they were assured his patronage and protection. His beloved Ashirah was a Simianite concubine captured from the heathen lands in the south of Ainran.


"Warriors obey your clan leaders in the name of the goddess for that is honorable.
Revere thy clan elders for that is the first charge of the Gargoyle Way.
That all will be right with clan and thou might reside long upon the face of the keep.
And ye elders, incite not your young warriors to fury:
But guide them in the authority and censure of the Goddess.

Vassals, be subservient to your overlords that hold your flesh,
with trepidation and quaking, in your most steadfast of hearts,
as unto the Goddess. Grasp fast that in any way every Simianite doeth,
the same shall one take delivery of from the Goddess' blessings,
be one yoked or emancipated.

I speak now to the overlords and leaders of the clans.
Do as is right to our frail Simianite charges, gracious in thy dominion:
know well the Goddess that is of and around thee in all things.

Simianites yield without protest unto your DeMahri Masters,
as unto the will of the Goddess.
For the DeMahri clan leader is the sovereign and protector of the clans
even as the Goddess is mistress over all.

Let it be that all DeMahri should walk the way of the Goddess in all things.
DeMahri, love your vassals as the Goddess cherishes thee.
Defend them fiercely and well with wing and talon. That is the Gargoyle Way.
DeMahri, Simianites are of like essence
and also come from the terrain beneath our talons.

As we are children of Stone, so are the Simianites children of dust.
Be beloved protectors of these delicate creatures.
They shall serve you loyally if you but love them without hesitation or reservation.
This is the will of your Goddess.
So mote it be.

Iantalious said nothing but dipped what the clan called "toast" into the strange, sweet pulp called jam. He ate in silence and observed the interaction between the members of the clan. These lost children of Skylaris were an odd lot: they turned to stone. They laid eggs the size of two-seasons-old hatchlings. They were much smaller than the untainted DeMahri. Still, his Goddess deemed them worthy of sharing in the bounties of his homeworld. He was not a warrior who questioned Skylaris' will.

Iantalius stared at the strange gooey concoction in the plastic decanter. The glutinous glop called syrup had a sickeningly sweet taste. He watched in abject horror as Demetrius poured the ooze over flat cakes and add a yellow substance called butter to it. [How can they eat these things? They reek of substances that taint the body and mire the mind? It's better to eat the gifts of the soil, tree and vine without such compounded substances altering both consistency and flavor. Give me a fresh mataka fruit or zireberry any time.]

"You don't like your breakfast?" Wren asked innocently.

"This Mahsma is unfamiliar to me, M'Lady." Iantalius stumbled to be polite. He had no wish to distress his Terran cousins with his dismay for their native cuisine. "I have not been planetside in many moons and am at a loss for all this plenty before me."

"Understood." Wren took another bite of her pancakes and syrup. "We didn't know what you liked to eat, so Demetrius and I fixed a bit of everything."

"Your generosity is much appreciated." He said truthfully. The warriors of his clan rarely extended such kindness to wayfaring soldiers. He gingerly reached for the maple syrup. "However, I am not used to the ways food is prepared here. I mean no disrespect, but the additional flavors and colors is unkind to my ..er..."

"OH!" Her eyes widened in realization. "Are you saying that the chemicals make you sick?"

"Er...well." The great warrior felt shamed before the presence of this small woman. "Yes."

"What can you eat?" Wren quickly reached for Iantalius' plate. His gray taloned hands stopped her.

"Sojourner, I'll gladly eat what you put before me." She walked away from him and returned with a bowl of fresh fruit. "These are organic ~no additives, preservatives or chemicals. Eat well."

"Thank you." He enthusiastically munched on a large red apple at the top of the heap. A repetitive beeping came from the jewel on his lapel. Iantalius excused himself and talked to his Second, Dacient on the other end.

"The vampire menace has been eliminated, Leader." Dacient replied crisply. "We are ready to begin evacuation."

"Proceed as ordered." Iantalius looked over his shoulder at the motley crew sitting at the table in the other room. "I'll begin with the the ones here."

"Affirmative." The voice went dead.

Iantalius cloaked his wings and returned to the others still eating breakfast to the room. He slowly sat down and rejoined them. "My second-in-command, Dacient, has informed me that the Vampire menace is no longer a threat. Now, it has come time to commence evacuation of the clans to the DeMahri ships. If my crew stays longer, the radiation from this world's sun will surely be our undoing."

"Evacuation?" Tina squeaked. "What do you mean?"

"The prophet Kirn long instructed my people to find the lost children of the Dragon. Now, we have and we must bring them to their true home." Iantalius explained. "There are also those who have earned Skylaris' favor such as you. You have earned the privilege through your devotion to return with us to the Homeworld."

"I don't think I'd fit in well there." Came the wary reply.

"We know of your condition, Tina Stephenson." Iantalius nodded. "Our scientists have developed a compound meant to reverse your condition if you so choose it. We also have manufactured specific supplements to nourish you. It's your choice."

Tina studied the large gray hobgoblin sitting near her. A growing dread crept up her spine as he explained. "We are here to rescue our Terran cousins from this backwater planet. Your home is on Avalahaun. Skylaris has also found favor and allies with those of good heart. We are to offer them a place amongst us."

"Tell us more about your planet." Tina pressed. Her natural curiosity overrode her reservations of the DeMahri fleet commander.

Iantalius spoke of the culture in great detail. He told of the vast jungles that covered the expanse of Avalahaun. He talked about the mountains that spanned end to end across his homeworld. He recounted tales of his beloved homehand, Ainran and it's rich history. Then, he spoke of the Simianite vassals that served the clans and how their place in society ensured DeMahri freedom to explore space. When he explained how overlords held vassals in possession, Tina cringed.

"Basically, the Simianites are glorified slaves, farmhands, and harlots." She said pleasantly through a barely contained sneer. "Gee, doesn't sound anything like the Gargoyles I know.

"Not at all!" Iantalius replied sharply. His tail lashed in genuine surprise. "Simianites are our helpmates and blessings from the Goddess. My own beloved concubine Ashirah is Simianite. She is the mistress of my lair and warden of my clan. She cares for the hatchlings and is held in high esteem by all my warriors."

"Is she free?"

"Free?" He shook his head not quite understanding.

"Is Ashirah free? Can she choose to leave the clan and make her own way in the world?"

"Why would she want to?" Iantalius squirmed uncomfortably in his seat. "The clan cares for her and children. We feed and clothe them. We teach them valuable skills. We protect them from harm. She has no reason to leave. Besides, she's too simpleminded to consider such a thing. She knows that her place is with her protector serving our clan."

Tina visibly flinched. She slowly lowered the goblet from her lips to her mouth. She pushed back the chair from the table. "I can't stand anymore of this. This is crap."

"Crap?" Iantalius said the word carefully. "I do not understand."

"Menash Kah!" Tina mangled the pronunciation. "Dragon shit. You keep Simiantes around as slaves. If that's the way your Goddess works, I want no part of this great grand exodus to your planet. What do you plan to do with your 'Terran cousins'?"

"We will bring them to Avalahaun. They will be integrated into their ancestral clans as we ascertain their precise heritable essence. Then, we will instruct them in the ways of our world."

"What about the people of this clan?" Tina's voice held a harsh note impossible to ignore. Daria's brows shot up in disbelief. "Daria, myself, MacBeth, and Wren?"

"They will be loved and protected as children of the Goddess." Iantalius looked at them each in kind. "There is a place for each of you. Daria would do well in the goddess' temple. There are several priestesses in need of handmaidens."

Silence fell across the table. MacBeth's tea stopped halfway to his mouth. Demona's brow raised in amusement. Tina's eyes slowly turned to watch a very angry Genie confront a much larger DeMahri warrior without hesitation.

"HANDMAIDENS?" A shriek filled the room. "Hello, do I look a handmaiden to you? I was once the High Priestess of Skylaris' largest temple in Babylon."

"Dearheart," He purred. "Skylaris would never make you take on such a daunting task. The Will of the Goddess is best left to those who truly understand her."

"In case you've forgotten, Ditwad," Brown eyes flashed violet. "I'm her DAUGHTER."

"You are her offspring." He gently corrected. "Skylaris has given birth to many throughout the ages. Only those of wing and talon are her true children. But she loves you and has prepared a place for you."

"Uh-uh. I don't think so." Daria rose from the table and placed her hands defiantly on her hips. "I'm her daughter and I know she isn't like that. We aren't little pets to be pampered and patronized by masters. She has never endorsed that bullshit attitude -NOT ONCE. She believes in the equality and the sovereign right of choice for all. Whoever fed you that dogmatist line of gobbledygook has been blowing smoke up your ass."

"If you were on my ship," A low growl escaped Tantalius. "You would be chastised for speaking rudely to a DeMahri overlord."

"I'd like to see you try." She snarled. "Just because you have wings and a tale, babe, don't make you better than me. DeMahri shit stinks just like any other kind."

"The elders told me that there might be resistance to her word." Wings flared in growing exasperation.

"Your elders need to pull their heads out of their-"

"ENOUGH." Demetrius bellowed over the bickering duo. He turned to Daria. "SIT."

"NO."

"Daria," He sighed. "Please."

"Oh...all right." She rolled her eyes and returned to her seat.

"Iantalius, perchance a misunderstanding has come to pass." Demetrius' brow furrowed in concentration. "Surely, you do not mean that Simianites are considered lesser creatures meant only for labor and coital pleasures."

"That is their place in Skylaris' scheme, brother." Iantalius said without hesitation. "They are a gift from the goddess and in return we nurture and cherish them. They are basic creatures in need of DeMahri guidance."

"Simple?" Daria chimed. "Let me show you a fireball finding it's way up your sorry a-"

"Hang on a minute." Tina whispered to the Djinni. "Don't lose your temper."

"Brother, we are once who believe in the integrity and intelligence of our human friends and loved ones." Demetrius folded his hands. Daria noticed his knuckles were obviously pale as he clasped his hands tightly. "It is not the Gargoyle Way to enslave or to think less of them."

"Your understanding of the Way is tainted by almost a hundred thousand years of isolation." The DeMahri said warmly.

Wren took notice as a vein in Demetrius' neck pulsed a heavy rhythm. [No one tells my mate is wrong. It just isn't done.]

"I will need to consult my lieutenants on this new... revelation." His voice remained monotone. "Let us continue our Mahsma in peace and speak no more of this until the sun is high."

Daria opened her mouth in protest and Demetrius shot her a look. "Not another word."

The Mahsma was finished in silence.

***************
The others had long since left the kitchen to attend to other business. Demona and MacBeth chose to patrol the grounds in case any other would-be attackers chose to launch an assault. Tina retreated to her inner sanctum to escape the rising rays of the mid-morning sun. Wren chose to consult her Tome Of Tacitus to find further evidence of the philosophies touted by Iantalius. That left Daria and Demetrius remaining in the kitchen clearing the table and loading the dishwasher.

She watched the strapping warrior next to her nonchalantly wipe dishes with one of Wren's hand-embroidered dishtowels. By night, the creature beside her was a seven-foot-tall winged warrior with talons and a tail. He was a dark crusader with ebony skin, lavender eyes, and argent hair so much their father Zendrizane. By day, he was the essence brown beauty with flawless skin and dark eyes. Daria smiled as her brother Demetrius was a striking double for the African-American actor on a show called Andromeda. His vanity also matched his physical appeal as she watched him toss back several braids to keep from getting them wet.

[He's definitely one of Skylaris' children. He has to do everything with flair.] The humorous thought brought a smile to the Djinni's face. [We're more alike than I thought.]

She knew she had to tell him what was brewing inside her. He had provided her with family and home. Demetrius deserved to know what she had decided to do. [But, why is it so hard to do the right thing? Maybe this is what Timron felt when he tried to talk to me. Then again, I refuse to run like he did. I won't let it go down that way.]

"Demetrius," Daria didn't quite know how to begin. True, they were blood and clan, yet she had never spent much time with this Sire until her appearance just a few months prior. "I'm worried."

"About what, Daria?" He flashed a perfect smile. She fought the urge to knock out his teeth because she remembered he didn't seem to understand her anger inspired by Iantalius.

She handed him a rinsed wet dish from the sink for him to dry. "I know that we haven't known each other long. We haven't had a chance to talk much. I'm new to this group and my word doesn't carry a lot of weight."

"Daria, you are clan and you are a part of us as we are of you." He stopped drying the dish to turn and look at her. "You are my sister and a member of this clan until this world draws its last breath. I wish to hear all your words ~but there is a time and place for all things."

He understood.

"The place is here and time is now, Daria." He rested the plate in the dish rack setting on the counter beside the sink. "Speak to me your thoughts, Sister."

"Fine." She felt herself trembling as she sat down the dirty dish in her hands. She inhaled gingerly, slowly to gather her energies about her. She closed her eyes to focus and organize her thoughts. She opened them again and stared directly into fathomless jet depths. "Demetrius, what Iantalius claims to be Paradise doesn't sound like it at all. If what he says is true, the DeMahri are slaveholders of some of Humanity's ancestors. They see us as little more than idiots that will serve them with a great big smile. "

"Tina has also expressed similar concerns." Demetrius painstakingly folded the wet dishtowel and returned it to the towel rack. "Human females vex me thus, but I concur with you all on this point. I wish not for my mate or my sister to be relegated to subservient status. It troubles me greatly."

"Look, Demetrius..." Why were the most truthful things the hardest for Daria to say. She silently cursed the Muses that robbed her voice of speech. "If you and the clan want to go to Avalahaun, then go. But, I can't. I thought about it and I don't belong there. I belong here.""

"We are one-" He began sharply. Daria brought two lavender fingers to his full lips to shush him.

"Little brother, I have a couple thousand years on you in experience." Daria smiled sadly. "What Iantalius is touting is NOT the Gargoyle Way. It isn't the Will of Skylaris. Plainly said, it's a bunch of bullshit. It might be the end of an age for Gargoyles, but there are still people on this planet that need heroes. I'm not a Gargoyle, but this is my home and these people need me."

"What will you do?"

"I'll embrace the Gargoyle way and take up the good fight." Daria reached for the dishwashing detergent underneath the kitchen sink. "I will carry on the Will of Skylaris right here on Earth. I believe that I need to protect those here more than soak up the sun on some planet halfway across the Galaxy. Her will is that I stay here and remain faithful to the tenants of the faith."

"Is that not what Timron tried to do?"

"He tried. He failed. But, I'm not Timron." She replied heatedly. "I don't crumble at the first sign of pressure. I don't give in to my hormones. And I sure as hell don't hide when adversity has me by the balls. Newsflash, Demetrius: I have balls of brass and the dump truck to haul them in. Timron's were made of crème cheese. I'm made of much stronger stuff. I have enough honor and integrity for ten Timrons. My place is here on Earth. My choice is to embrace the Gargoyle Way and practice it right here in Linoma."

"You have made your choice." Demetrius' eyes fell to the floor. "I must tell you that I've spoken with Tina about this matter. She has chosen to remain on Earth and walk a similar path."

"Really?" Daria was genuinely surprised. She had taken the opportunity to meet the fiery Sanguine so passionate about her causes. "I think I need to get to know Tina a bit better."

"I find that you two are alike in many ways." He chuckled.

"Maybe we are." She grinned. A mischievous thought ran through her agile mind as she watched her brother turn to clean the counter of remaining debris. Daria adeptly snatched the wet dishtowel from the rack where Demetrius hung it. She took the ends in each hand and began to twist it so that it was a tight, unyielding column of tight, wet cloth. Daria artfully twisted it a few more times, drew back one hand, and let the end of the wet, twisted towel arc in the air. Then, she snapped it.

THWACK!

The towel found its target as it resoundingly cracked Demetrius' backside. A howl of surprise and pain erupted from the brawny man as he snapped abruptly upright. Braid flew in the air as he swung around. Dark human eyes gleamed with silver Gargoyle fury as he faced the smaller woman standing only a few feet from him.

"Daria Damson, you will soon know a Gargoyle's fury, I promise you." He growled.

"Yeah, you and what army, Tiny?" She stuck her tongue out at him. "Can't take a little snap on the ass from a dish towel?"

"Daria," He ominously advanced toward the shrinking violet genie.

"Uh-oh!" She squeaked. "I can tell you have no sense of humor."

"I see you are in need of a good thrashing." His large hands reached out to grab the cornered Djinni.

BLINK

Poof!

She aptly eluded his grasp and he found himself groping at a lavender column of smoke. He bellowed in exasperation as wafts of the column found their way out an open window. Demetrius found himself alone in the kitchen with a throbbing, painful spot on his backside.

"What would Wren have said?" He spoke aloud in the empty room. A Warrior's advance was always the best way to deal with such annoyances. "Gotcha."

He opened the dishwasher and added the detergent. Demetrius made quick work of loading the remaining dishes and starting the wash cycle. He thought of the young woman he had come to learn was his sister. She had fire and passion. She was a creature of honor. He appreciated her sharp, cutting satircism though he cared little for her impetuous temper. He had grown fond of the one he called 'sister.' In time, he hoped to be her brother.

[Things have truly come full circle.] He realized. [More than but a year ago, I was nothing but a nameless warrior...merely another member of a long-forgotten clan. I met a wondrous creature that named and loved me. She and I have known Hades together in this life and the previous, yet our love transcends all. I have went beyond the borders of my beloved Scotland and have seen the world and beyond. The Goddess has blessed me in ways beyond Gargoyle understanding. She has given me family.]

Family. He liked the sound of that word. It touched Demetrius in a way that brought a suspicious brightness to his dark onyx eyes. "I have it all. I have clan. I have family. I have a mate and a sister. Family and clan work as one. We do not leave anyone behind."

Things were beginning to take shape for him. His beloved mate was his fiancé. He found that he had more than clan in the sibling that had riled his ire almost as well as did Wren. They had more than a haven or a residence, Summerlands was a home. He found that he enjoyed the company and companionship of MacBeth and found forgiveness and fondness in his heart for Demona...Dominique...whoever she was that day. Even the enigmatic Sanguine had a place with them as friend on confidant. She was as much clan and family as any of the others. Demetrius knew all that would be torn asunder on Avalahaun.

The truth fell into place and Demetrius knew what he must do.

He knew that everything would come out in the wash.

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

The redheaded human walked briskly along the perimeters of the Summerlands estate. With laser sidearm drawn and ready to fire, Demona kept a sharp watch for any walking undead thinking about giving them an unplanned visit. She found only piles of ash left from the DeMahri assault on the vampires. It was a day of reckoning for all in the world. Now, she was also forced to stare into the depths of her darkened soul.

All the old foul events and wicked dealings of her former self lay bare in the sunlight for her to see. She shirked at their ugliness and long to run from their touch. She felt filthy and unclean. She loathed the ugly stain of evil covering her soul. Demona longed for any release from the imprisonment of her past. There was no hope for old soldiers like her. There was only death.

[I have no peace. I can't escape it.] She resigned herself to an endless existence of living with her guilt. [Now, that I know, how can I face the others knowing that they knew all the long and didn't tell me? They must hate me.]

She hated everything about herself in that one harsh, pristine moment of reality. She was Demona, conspiritor of Clan Wyvern's slaughter. She was a scheming conniving extremist hell-bent on Humanity's destruction. Her name said it all ~she was a demon incarnate. [There never is rest for the wicked.]

She watched MacBeth travel above her on his glidercraft. He surveyed the damage overhead and looked past the perimeter of the estate. Every so often he nodded silently to her to let the young human know that all was well. How much he had changed since her drinking the waters of Lethe. He was as handsome as he had been before their binding done by the Weird Sisters. Gone were the deep character lines and the steel-gray hair. When she saw Lennox, Demona knew she looked into the handsome, tanned face of a vibrant man in his prime. Chestnut locks framed his strong jaw and now teased the nape of his neck.

She remembered the entire time that she was sweet, innocent Dominique. She remembered their verbal banters and spoken games of cat-and-mouse. Demona closed her eyes to block the memories of stolen kisses and heated embraces. Her darling warrior king had asked her to show restraint. He was a man of honor and also her one of her professors for the semester. She knew that it went against his personal code of honor to involve himself romantically with one of his students. Grudgingly, she had honored his choice and kept to the boundaries set by him. He had told her that all would be right if she waited.

[How could he want me then knowing how I truly am? I've actually tried to kill him! How can he stand to be around me knowing what I am and what I've done?]

Demona the Human fought the compelling urge to weep. It wasn't time for weakness or emotionalism. It was paramount that she kept her wits about her in this time of crisis. Her clan was at war and they needed her functioning and alert. She nodded in return to the man above her and continued her patrol. She tried in vain to ignore the incessant pounding of her breaking heart.

She watched MacBeth land his glidercraft only a few feet from her. She still loathed the Humans: they had helped destroy her clan and kill the last of her kind in Scotland. They were only good as pawns and tools to further her ends. Yet, she found that she no longer wished to annihilate the lot of them. Wren had proven kindness and compassion were composites of the human heart. Tina had shown Demona that even the worst lots could be improved by the choices made. Then, there was MacBeth.

Despite their ancient, ongoing feud, he had put aside all of it once she had drank the waters of Lethe. He had been at her side knowing all the while her true nature and past. Yet, he had declared his love for her. Had it been some evil form of revenge upon her for the heartache she had caused him throughout the ages? [Did he lie because he could keep a better eye on me so I wouldn't go bad?]

A loud sniff escaped her. She berated herself for falling prey to such insipid autonomic weakness. She was not the Gargoyle she once had been. Humanity had contaminated her with silly sentiment and spineless feeling. She was pathetic. She hated feeling guilty. The young woman abhorred the love she felt and how it softened her. She felt buried in shame because the entire clan knew of her true self.

"Domi, what's wrong?" A Scottish burr broke her silent reverie. She saw hazel eyes staring at her intently. MacBeth leaped from the glidercraft and speedily shortened the distance between them. The Warrior King quickly stood at her side. Two callused thumbs gently rubbed across her cheeks. He pressed his brow to hers in a Gargoyle sign of adoration. "You're crying."

"A mere reaction to the pressure ~nothing more." She barked. "You worry over nothing, Human."

"Dominique ~"He asked sternly. "What is going on?"

"My name is Demona." She kept on walking.

A warm hand clasped her shoulder and roughly spun her around. "Nay, Lass. It's just a label that I gave you long ago ~in another time and place. It isn't you anymore. You are who you choose to be and I see nothing of Demona here today.

"Hmmph." She tried to break free of his firm grasp but he held her fast. "Then you must be stupid as you are blind."

Rough fingers dug into her tender skin and drew her backwards against the broad expanse of his chest. She felt the primal rhythm of his life-force pounding against her back. His lips were close to her ear and his breath tantalized her sensitive skin as he spoke. "Listen well, Dominique. I am neither stupid nor blind and you'd do well to recognize that fact. I've hunted you for a thousand years and you've yet to outwit and out-fight me. You are not who you once were and we both know it. Part of that frightens you and part of that sickens you."

Demona ripped away from MacBeth's mighty hold. She used the butt of her side arm to knock him aside. She watched him fall stunned to his knees before her. His chest heaved for several seconds as he chose to catch his breath. A hand rose to wipe the blood away from his cut lip. Hazel eyes gleamed with challenge and fury as he directed his gaze to the haughty dame standing over him. He saw that she stood with legs apart in a defiant stance. Her hand rested saucily on one hip while the other intimately gripped the trigger mechanism on the side arm.

"Why are you trying so hard to prove me wrong?" He rasped. He rose to his knees and reached out a hand to the young woman only a few feet away. "Who are you trying to convince ~me or yourself?"

"You know nothing about me, fool." She rasped and began walking away.

"I used to think I knew you better than anyone." MacBeth called after her. "Now, I know that I do. I've had the Reckoning, Dominique Destine."

She stopped dead in her track. She paused for what seemed an endless eternity. "You've what?"

"We both have and you know it. When I kissed you that night in front of the fireplace, it hit me with all the wonder and magnificence of a newborn star. When the Weird sisters linked us, they also bound our hearts together. I had loved you anyway from the day that I first met you. I still remained true to Gruig, but I knew that you and I were of one heart and soul."

"You lie!" The screech filled the still morning air.

"I speak the truth and you know it." MacBeth's bellow reverberated on the breeze softly blowing past them. "Do you need me to crawl around inside your mind to prove it? Can you tell me that beneath the muck eating away at your heart that there isn't love for me in there somewhere?"

Demona wanted to walk away. She wanted to leave the pathetic human in the dust and let the vampires make lunch of him. Yet, her feet seemed rooted to the ground. She silently cursed human weakness of heart. All she could do was stare at the strong man kneeling before her on the ground. MacBeth's eyes were bright with unshed emotion. The strong warrior king knelt before her and took her hands in his.

It was her undoing.

"Domi, you never cry. Please..." His honest entreaty tugged at the woman's heartstrings. "Please, tell me what's troubling you."

"Me. I'm troubling me." She almost shouted at the towering figure beside her. "You know what I truly am and what I'm like. How can you stand to even be around me? How can you claim to love me knowing that we've tried to kill each other for a thousand years? Why, MacBeth....WHY?"

He swiftly rose to his feet and pulled his Seraph tightly to him. He rarely indulged in the empathic bond that flowed between them. He reserved the esoteric psychic gobbledygook for the more mystical people of his clan: Wren and Demetrius. Now, he immersed himself in Demona's psyche and infused her thoughts with his own. He found himself inside her emotions as the washed over her in a raging flood of disgust, ignominy, and fury.

[She's remorseful and mortified by what she was.]

"That was who you were...but you aren't that way now, my Seraph." He murmured softly into the brilliant titian locks that adorned her brow. "I know what you were and would have gladly killed you once for what you had stolen from me."

"I know." She let a sob escape her. "I am truly sorry."

Silence fell between them.

She felt his embrace tighten and draw her closer to him. His heart pounded in his chest and his warmth surrounded her. She was taken aback by firm lips claiming hers in a kiss that enticed her to the point of madness all the while demanding her surrender. MacBeth kissed her all that he possessed. His tongue danced along her full lips silently begging entrance to the sweetness of her mouth. She gasped as sheer delight and warmth filled her. MacBeth assert dominion over her in that kiss. His deep tasting of her caused Demona to nearly collapse in his arms. His tongue stroked and caressed her while he seemed to steal her breath. He became the air she needed to stay alive. He became apart of her. He finally pulled away and firmly framed her delicate features in his strong hands.

"I have waited a thousand years for you, my Love." He whispered. "The Demona I reviled has been dead for a very long time. Your guilt and remorse killed her. In her place stands the woman and Gargoyle that I love. That's you, Dominique Destine. You have honor. You have integrity. You put the needs of your clan before your own and you are a combination of human love and Gargoyle loyalty. No other creature on this planet is like you and that makes you so very special."

"What about all the things-"

"Sh..shh...a different time and a different person." He hushed her with a butterfly kiss. "I released the hatred and bitterness a long time to go. Eternity is too short to harbor old grudges. I wanted to see what person you would become of your own volition if you had a chance to be independent of Demona's past. Now, I like what I see. You are a fascinating woman, and I love you."

Dominique was at a loss for words. She knew he was right. Demona had long since been dead when her heart became alive with emotion. "Even now?"

"Even more." He playfully cuffed her chin. "And do you love me?"

"More than I ever thought possible." She admitted. "But, I'm so tired of waiting."

"I know." He closed his eyes. "I know."

He pressed gentle kisses into the scarlet hair that smelled of heather and ginger. "I don't want to wait anymore either, Dominique. We don't know what the future brings. But, I know that we belong in that uncertain future together. We should have done something about it a thousand years ago."

"But I'm Gargoyle and you're human." She began.

"It's poppycock." He dismissed her feeble excuse. "We're not exactly the first interspecies couple love. Goliath and Elisa set the precedent. Wren and Demetrius followed suit. Even Arthur and his mate made the jump. Why not us? We should have thought of it first, you know."

"Lennox, the city lies in ruins from the vampires and you're worried happily ever after?!" He hadn't changed a bit.

"I want you to marry me."

"WHAT?"

"You heard me, woman." He said quickly. "I want you to marry me."

"But what about everything? We tried that once and you know where that led us."

"You were after my funds and wanted my resources so that you and Thailog could rule the world." MacBeth sadly shook his head. "Now, I want you to marry me because you love me."

"You mad!"

"I'm in love with you and you with me. The Weird Sisters bound us body and soul for all eternity, we might as well show them up and bind our hearts together."

"I can never undo what I've done."

"None of us can. We all have our burdens to bear and crosses to carry." He sighed. He took her hands in his. "Marry me, Dominique."

She comprehended that she'd always be the one who had committed those acts and schemed those deeds. Yet, she was also one who was helping to save the world and make amends as best she could. Eternity was a long time to be in love and alone. Eternity wasn't long enough to spend with the man next to her. The choice was simple.

"Yes."

"Oh, Love." He barely dared to breath as he exulted in her answer. He withdrew a simple gold band from the inside of his pocket. She looked down at it and saw it glimmer in the late morning sun. "I had this sized for when you were a Gargoyle. It's probably far too large for you now, but come sunset..."

"I don't want to wait until sunset to find out." Dominique gushed. "I want to wear it now, Lennox."

His large, callused fingers trembled as he slipped it on her middle rather than her ring finger. It was a good fit. "Tonight, we'll try it on your ring talon."

"We will."

There was a pause between them. "Dominique, what do we want to do about Iantalius' offer to leave this world?"

"I haven't had time to think about it."

"He's offering all of your kind a place in Paradise."

"He's also telling us that humans are little more than amusement for him." She sniffed. "While I find the irony sweet, I have no desire to watch you be degraded like that."

"Do you want to leave Earth?" He finally dared to ask the question.

"No. I may hate Humans, but my love for this planet is stronger than my disgust for hairless monkeys."

"I'm one of those hairless monkeys."

"All right...let me rephrase that. I no longer hate humans and wish their destruction. I merely find them intensely annoying and incredibly stupid most of the time. However, I find notable and extraordinary exceptions to the norm. That is what gives me hope that your kind will evolve into something worthy."

Dominique flashed him a smile. "I've softened a bit."

"No, you've grown wiser. There is no weakness in that."

And to prove it, MacBeth kissed her ardently and with abandon.

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

Tina lay in repose in the blackness of her room. The windows were covered with heavy black velvet. Only a solitary candle burned for illumination. She had mostly recovered from the injuries she incurred during the Day of Illumination on February 26, yet she couldn't bear the full late morning rays of the midday sun. Like many of her kith, she retreated to a safe lair to regain and regenerate until twilight descended.

Short curly ringlets of copper fell against the ivory satin sheets and fluffy goose-down pillows. Eyes the color of Irish clover stared wide at the intricate plaster tiles adorning the ceiling. Pale skin became ashen as Tina remained motionless in the darkness surrounding her. Her arms were folded in burial style over her chest. To the casual observer, she appeared posed and rigid. To the touch, she would seem cold. No mere human ear would detect a pulse or heartbeat. No breath came from her still lungs. She appeared quite dead.

Tina Hansen-Stephenson was far from dead. Many mistook her for the likes of Lysander or the Sovereign. Only a few knew that she was anything but a vampire. Tina was a mutant that possessed a very rare mutation that resembled vampirism. She needed blood for sustenance and required refuge from the sun. Like her undead kindred, she possessed the psionic abilities of telepathy and psionic control. Tina regenerated rapidly like her vampiric brethren and seemed to be immortal. She had seen five hundred years of history and barely aged five years.

She was a member of a mutant elite known as the Sanguine. They were living creatures that lived exceedingly long lives (no one knew exactly how long -it was rumored the oldest Sanguine alive was nearly three thousand years old.) They were able to bear children through natural means. On rare occasions, they possessed other mutations in addition to their Sanguinism. To increase their chances of survival, they mingled with those whom the called the Endless. They walked amongst their ranks as one of their own. Tina let the world think she was undead when nothing was further from the truth.

In the stillness of the tomb-like room, she contemplated the choices that required making and the truths that haunted her. The world and her life as she knew them were in a chaotic state. Alien ancestors of Gargoyles were descending upon the earth to usher the Gargoyles in a Grand exodus to the DeMahri homeworld. Sycophants that she considered allies and friends betrayed her with their countless attacks upon her clan. She knew that she wouldn't be able to stay much longer. Soon, her secret would be discovered. Once the truth was known, she would be hunted. Vampires considered Sanguine an abomination.

[Once twilight descends, I'm out of here.] She thought with grim resignation. She didn't want to leave behind those whom she called family and clan. Summerlands had been the closest thing to a home that she had known in centuries. [I'll stay until everything is settled and then it'll be time for me to move on. I know I'm not going to a planet where Humans are sex slaves and household pets. I just wouldn't fit in there very well.]

Demetrius and the clan needed her for just a while longer. She hated cutting all ties, but that was the way things were done. It made things less painful in the long run. Tina adhered strictly to the Canon of the Veil: Endure silently, imparting not the intrinsic Vein to Prosaics. The Confession will cede avowal of The Vein. She knew well the ways of the Vein ~-the nature, ways, customs, existence of the Sanguine. (AUTHOR'S NOTE: LOOK FOR THESE AND OTHER SANGUINE TERMS IN ANGELS AMONGST 10.6:SANGUINE LEXICON AND DESCANT.)

[Tonight...] Her wandering mind promised as the lull of sweet slumber beckoned the Sanguine. She had no regrets; only bittersweet recollections of a place called Summerlands. [I'll tell them tonight that I'm leaving....that I'm not going with them....to Avalahaun....]

Somewhere a Sycophant envied the Sanguine ability to shed tears of loss.

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

The scent of blood and death filled the early afternoon air. Lysander marveled how the brightness of the sun did nothing to him. How long it had been since he had seen the light of day. He stared at the house that stood on the hill across the glen. A cold resolution filled him as he stared at the Summerlands estate.
The word on the street had reached him. Daria and her strange clan of Gargoyles were responsible for the decimation of his allies and fellow vampires on February 26.

Somehow the Djinni's Magick had altered the natural course of events. Because the natural way of things had been distorted with the exploitation of Magick, the natural Order had also been transmuted. One of Lysander's best spies heard Daria speak of it to Tina one night at the Athenaeum. Subtle inquiry had brought nothing to Lysander's attention. There wasn't enough to link the motley clan to the Illumination.

Then he had heard the news that made his blood turn cold. He knew what he had to do to ensure the survival of his kind.

Tina Stephenson was a Sanguine. She had presumed that she would hide amongst the Endless of Linoma Bluffs Metroplex. His old acquaintance Daria had thought him oblivious to her obvious connection to the living abomination. Two thousand years ago, Daria had brought one of the Old Ones to his estate in Pompeii. The ancient sycophant used his ways to cause Lysander's daughter to become one of the Endless. He had both relished and rued the night that monster hand taken his dying child from him and replaced her with an undead replica.

He held Daria accountable for much through the centuries.

Daria had introduced him to a young Prostitute in Paris. Lysander had begot her into vampirism. She was a replacement for the daughter he had lost. In 1228, Daria had served as a Djinni to a French Knight who wished to know things beyond the mortal realm. The Daemon had chosen to bring Lysander from the ancient East into the presence of the brash cavalier. Lysander begat the impetuous crusader and thus gained a son. Because of her magicks, he had found some happiness in his otherwise desolate continuation. In 1997, he had found her serving a vampire in Toronto. Lysander had stolen the bottle, invoked her Magick for his own and had her return his beloved son to unlife. Then, he had promised her freedom from his dominion for eternity.

She had accepted.

Now, Daria's Magick both blessed and cursed him. It had given his kind a chance to walk in the sun. It had also endowed them with such abilities to feed upon mortals without restraint. It thrilled and horrified the ancient vampire who had known over two thousand years of unholy existence. Yet, never had he anticipated her betrayal by her active harboring a Sanguine in her clan's midst. They were the bane of the Endless for they were well known to hunt their undead brethren for money.

Daria would know the price of that betrayal this day.

Daria's sister had altered her Magick so that it set irrevocable events in motion. Lysander detested the black draconic hag that visited him late in the night. But, he valued her powerful incantations and the whisperings of revelation she provided him. The Hag had told him, "You need only kill the Gargoyles and all those who stand with them. Then, the Age of Twilight shall descend. Humans won't be the masters of this world. Those who are children of the night will rule. And Lysander....You shall be their leader and my champion."

"What must I do?" He recalled asking the Hag cloaked in shadows.

"Bring me the heart of Skylaris' youngest daughter, Daria." The cackled had filled the Athenaeum. "Only by taking her heart can you kill her. That will decimate my sanctimonious mother and her self-righteous crusade. She won't have any desire to back a group that was unable to protect her precious daughter. She'll be distracted. Then my darling Prince and I will not only rule the air, but the Earth as well. And you shall be our Regent."

"Why would I want to betray someone that has shown me honor and allegiance for over two thousand years?" He had questioned the Shadow-Hag.

"Because she harbors one that hunts you. Daria will kill you to protect her precious clan. She's so wrapped up in Mother's precious little religion that she'll do anything to make it happen. That includes turning her friends and allies over to a Sanguine for the slaughter."

Lysander voiced his deepest fear. "Who is the Sanguine?"

"Christina Hansen-Stephenson." The shadow-hag vanished without further word.

Lysander now stood in front of thirty vampires ready for battle. It was their intent to swarm the mansion citadel fortified by science and sorcery. They would penetrate its defenses and destroy their enemies from within. As long as Gargoyles existed, they were a barrier that prevented him and his kind from knowing the warmth of the sun. As long as Daria was alive, the clan had the immense power of a goddess behind them. Daria was a traitor to him and she was an obstacle.

He led the charge on the mansion. He would hold Daria's bleeding heart in his hands before Twilight descended that night.

***************
Demetrius and Wren remained catatonic in their regenerative slumber. Daria watched over them and waited for them to awake. Their repose reminded the ancient Daemon of the times she watched various Vampire masters sleep in the day. She sat next to her brother and his mate and studied them intently. He looked so strange as a human with his pecan skin and long dark micro braids. He was a sharp contrast to the fair-skinned lady beside him with sun-kissed tresses of honey brown. Yet, their love was beyond what space, time, and death could tear asunder.

[Soon, Iantalius will be wanting answers from us: do we stay here or go with him?] Daria knew her answer was to remain. She was a child of the dragon and not of Gargoyle descent. She wondered what her Gargoyle brother and his mate would decide. [Surely, they aren't crazy enough to stay on this goddess-forsaken planet when over two hundred gargoyles can find happiness elsewhere.]

Jaidyn and Bast were still stone and wouldn't have much time to arrive at a conclusion.

Dominique and MacBeth were still on patrol. Daria had grown to know them better and she now called MacBeth a close friend. In the past few days, he had helped the Djinni deal with her heartbreak caused by Timron. MacBeth had been a pillar of strength when she had none of her own to sustain her. She was free of the manacles that bound her in eternal servitude. Soon, she'd be free of the bottle that controlled where and how she traveled. [Once I'm free, I'm going to repay MacBeth's kindness. I just can't yet with my powers fluctuating as they are.]

A blaring, strident noise of an alarm filled the room. She heard a roar behind her. Daria jumped and turned to watch her brother's eyes flash open and glow brilliant lavender. A deep snarl followed with Wren's eyes opening and gleaming bright, fiery emerald. Daria knew that had woken from then sleep.

"Rise and shine. We've got trouble." She chirped merrily.

Demetrius immediately reached for the sidearm on the side of his bed stand while Wren lung a laser rifle over her shoulder. The duo rushed to a view screen located to the left of the bed. Wren punched in a flurry of numbers on the keypad and a visual came up on the screen. There was a reading at the bottom of the screen.

"Thirty vampires have breached the outer perimeter." Her panic filled the room.

"Thirty?" Demetrius instinctively squeeze the trigger of his sidearm lightly. "How shall we beat thirty of them?"

"You'll get by with a little help from family." Daria stood behind them and looked over their shoulders. The camera shot stopped on he leader fronting the charge. He was tall, pale with short spiked hair and eyes the color of an arctic glacier.

Her immortal heart skipped a beat.

"Oh, God....Lysander."

Daria knew that it would be a very bloody battle.

***************
Captain Iantalius sat in his command chair aboard the El-Lehaimu reading that afternoon's departmental reports from each section of the ship. He was pleased with the Engineering report. Lieutenant Sontinaun had informed him the Kiarite shards were charged and functioning well within the fissure mainstay at the center of the ship's engines. The fissure mainstay was the main source that allowed the DeMahri travel along the chronotemporal matrix to travel so quickly from system to system.

He cloaked his dark wings about him and sipped the earth beverage provided to him by his Terran cousins. He had developed a fond taste for a beverage they called coffee. It's strong, bitter flavor helped keep him aware during the double shifts he pulled aboard ship and in the field.

Weapons Officer Corona stood stoically at her battle station. The crimson dame switched the readiness status to yellow alert. "Captain, I'm spotting thirty life forms resembling vampires encroaching the Gargoyle compound."

"Are they armed?" He asked grimly.

"I can't tell. But sensors are detecting intermittent bursts of energy on the surface." The Security officer confirmed. "Some is weapons fire. The other is an unreadable energy source. I'm recalibrating scanners so that we can discern the precise nature of the other energy bursts."

A few tense seconds past between the two officers. Iantalius swirled his command chair around to face his weapons officers. "Well?"

"Scans show that the other energy bursts are plasmic in nature." Corona's eyes widened as she continued the scan. "Sir, they're tapping into the energies of the planet itself and emitting them at will."

A clenched fist pounded on the arm of the command chair. "They're using Magick."

A primal growl filled the bridge. Iantalius slowly rose from his chair and turned to a russet gargoyle mottled with black and gold spots akin to those of a leopard. "Second-in-command Dacient, take fifty of our finest warriors armed with Brightfire lances and execute the enemy with extreme prejudice. Liberate the clan at all costs."

The golden and russet warrior nodded once. "Understood, Captain."

Iantailus' taloned hand gently clasped his Second-In-Command's shoulder. "May the Goddess be with you."

Iantalius watched the battle unfold on screen as his Second-In-Command and fifty red-tunic clad warriors
"temped" down to the surface with lances in hand. DeMahri warriors with eyes glowing and wings flared bravely took up battle with the undead fiends storming Summerlands. Warrior lances and brightfire energies sliced through most of wretched lot of undead. Some warriors experienced bites and other wounds from the vampires, but the Magick of Avalahaun came from the warrior's hearts and weapons. Some of the warrior converted their lances into brightblades- swords where the very edge of the blade was pure Brightfire. No creature was able to withstand the cutting purity of the enchanted blade.

"Lieutenant Corona, scan the area and lock on the coordinates of all Gargoyles, Nightkind, and other non-vampiric lifeforms within a twelve bedah radius. Temp them aboard and my signal."

"Aye, Captain." The crimson dame gave her captain a knowing smile. On his mark she temped several aboard leaving only the few vampires remaining on the grounds of the estate. She called to the Temping station in freight alcove seven. Demetrius, Wren, Daria, Dominique, MacBeth, and Tina were accounted for and in good health. Two statues stood beside them and fifty DeMahri warriors armed with Brightfire weaponry surrounded them.

He turned to the ship's sagemage, Gallic. "What will rid the Earth of that vermin once and for all?"

"Captain, I hypothesize that a wave of tetrion energy will permanently eliminate the vampire menace." The monotone voice answered without hesitation.

"Use the weapons array and fire a tetrion beam that encompasses all of Earth." Iantalius instructed Lieutenant Corona. "Then, scan the planet and see if any vampires remain. Also, set the array so that the tetrion burst penetrate all substances and at least one fifty bedahs beneath the surface."

"Aye, Sir." Corona complied with the captain's command. "Sir, scans show that no vampires register anywhere worldwide. I am comparing the previous number indicated by our last scan to the current amount. I detected a few minutes ago approximately 1,500,000 vampires and similar creatures worldwide. Now, I detect fifteen hundred such lifeforms on the planet's surface -all Sanguine."

"By the Dragon!" A slow smile crossed the Captain's features. "We've done it."

Victory had never tasted sweeter that day.

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

The clan leaders of Earth and their Seconds sat in the conference room adjacent to the Bridge. Goliath and Brooklyn sat next to Demetrius and Wren. Angus and Veda represented the Caledon clan while Gabriel and Ophelia talked quietly to Griff and Leo. The entire Guatemala clan sat in silence merely studying the large gathering of Gargoyles. Kai and Katana of Ishimura made introductions with Wren and Demetrius. Daria sat at her brother's side at his request and never felt more out of place. She resisted the urge to use her dwindling Magicks to metamorph into a Gargoyle.

Iantalius walked through the doors of the conference room and took his seat at the head of the table. "I want to thank you all for joining us this evening. These past few months have been a tribulation for all of you, I know. I represent the DeMahri Alliance and on behalf of the Alliance Council, I am authorized to grant you all citizenship on Avalahaun."

He explained the ties of the homeworld to Skylaris and the genetic relationship shared by the DeMahri and the Gargoyles. For an hour the clan leaders deliberated amongst themselves the information provided by the DeMahri captain. They also communicated via satellite with their respective clans on the planet's surface. The question that remained to be answered was: Who will stay and who will go?

Kai, leader of the Ishimura clan, was the first to rise. "My clan has voted. All wish to leave Earth and travel with you to Avalahaun."

"So it shall be done." Iantalius noted. He turned his attention to Griff. "What has your clan decided."

"There's no place for us here." He conceded. "My clan is almost unanimous. They wish to leave."

"You sound as though you wish not to leave."

'"I wish to remain."

"But, Griff!" Leo called to him. "What about Una? She'll be heartbroken. She wants to leave this world and you wish to remain?"

"There are few heroes left in the world to fight for the greater good." He clasped his old friends shoulder. "A wise gargoyle once told me that human problems eventually become Gargoyle problems. This world is my home and I will not abandon my home and my protectorate."

Leo hung his head as sadness washed over him. "I understand, my friend. Go in peace and God be with you."

"And also with you, Leo." Griff turned and walked to the far side of the room.

"Goliath," Iantalius addressed the lavender leviathan. "What has the New York clan decided?"

"We shall remain here." He nodded in Griff's direction. "Another wise Gargoyle said it best, 'I will not abandon my home and my protectorate. My clan is unanimous."

Brooklyn and Lexington joined Griff on the far wall.

"Demetrius and Wren, how has your clan voted?"

"We have conversed with them. We choose to stay." Demetrius said simply. He warmly grasped his mate's hand. "Nonetheless, one of our own thought lost to us has made contact with us this evening. He is currently in London residing with the Londonium clan."

"Timron!" Daria exclaimed. "How is he?"

"He is well, Sister." Demetrius said quietly. "He misses you."

'And I miss him."

"He wanted me to give you this." He handed her a piece folded cream parchment sealed with the wax insignia of a dragon. "I speak for the clan, but I will not presume to speak for all of us. Read it and decide."

Daria's hands trembled as she took the parchment from Demetrius and turned away from the group. Shaking fingers tore away the seal and she recognized DeMahri script, flowing and elegant, upon the page. She also knew it was Timron's writing.

My beloved soulmate and dearheart,

I wronged you these past nights with my departure. You have lingered in my thoughts and have dwelt in my heart even as I have longed for you. I realize now that leaving you was dishonorable and cowardly of me. Oh, My Love and Truth, I wish for you to be at my side. Join me in this new world. Skylaris is calling us home. Be my mate...my Dearheart, join me. Be with me. Love me as I love you. Come with me to Avalahaun. We are one now and always.

You beloved mate and protector,

Timron

The fine parchment crumpled easily in her hands. Brown eyes closed as tears fell freely down her cheeks. Daria's head bowed and the unashamed sobs came from her lips. Tremors racked her body as cries of heartache escaped her. She bit her lip and looked soulfully at Demetrius. She felt his compassion and read his empathy in his eyes. He alone knew the power of love and where it lead connected hearts. Yet, he couldn't make the decision for his beloved sister.

She knew what she had to do. It was about honor. It was about principle. It was about her innermost heart and it's truest calling. She recited the verses that had given her a wellspring of strength, hope and inspiration during the trying times of the last few months.

"A Gargoyle is the epitome of courage.
A Gargoyle's heart embraces valor
In the face of adversity.

Fear shall tempt us
Yet, never shall the Gargoyle heart succumb
To the taste of cowardice.

When defeat looms and shadows battle,
It is the Gargoyle Way to take up the cause
And protect that which is right and good.

A Gargoyle's essence comprises integrity.
Talons protect the innocent.
A Gargoyle watches vigilantly for truthfulness.

Let Gargoyle Eyes see only good faith in others.
Be one of honor and virtue.
The Gargoyle Way succumbs to the heart's calling for righteousness.

Embrace all those in the clan
And those who touch the clan's heart.
Turn away none who seek and share the Gargoyle Way.

Love is the truest strength of the Gargoyle Heart.
A true warrior denies surrender to the temptations of self.
Life becomes corrupt, meaningless and empty when we deny our natures.

A Gargoyle abhors mercilessness
And stands ready as guardian and sentinel
For those without protectors or champions.

Gargoyle valor defends the frail and fragile.
A Gargoyle heart loves fiercely and well.
Gargoyle loyalty is without question.

It matters not to the Gargoyle heart that her charges
May be without wing or talon and know the light of the sun.
A Gargoyle's nature is to protect. It is our heritage.

Let your words articulate simple verity without distraction.
Let Gargoyle fury quash cruelty.
A Gargoyle's roar brings justice.

Justice knows no death
And let our hearts crumble to dust
Lest we betray our nature.

It is our way to protect.
It is our nature to serve.
It is our heritage to love fiercely and well.

The Gargoyle Way eternally shines
When the Heart burns brightest with the Fire of Love
And the Valor of Honor.

That is the Gargoyle Way. So mote it be.
As it is above, so shall it be below.
Let these words endure longer than the mountain stone."

She looked at Demetrius and gave him a small hint of a smile. "My heart will always be with Timron, but it belongs to Skylaris, first and foremost. In that way, he and I are alike. But, he follows her to the stars when my heart tells me that I have to stay here. I will not walk away from my home and my world. In this sorry-ass world, it needs all the help it can get, little brother. So, I have to stick around and kick the resident evil of this planet right square in the ass."

"Is there anything you wish for me to tell him?" He asked quietly as ebony and lavender wings cloaked around her. His horned brow rested upon hers in a gesture of empathy and affection.

"Tell him that he kept his promise. His love has allowed me to be set free." She wiped away the final tears she would ever shed for Timron. "Tell him we'll meet again. I love him and I'll wait as long as it takes. I just won't be waiting for him and standing still. I have a life to live. He knows where I'm at and he'll be able to find me if that's what he wants. Until then, I have people to meet and places to see."

Demetrius nodded and used the communications device to speak with the others of the Londonium clan.

Iantalius shook his head in amazement. "I thought more of you would wish to join us."

[Your culture embraces slavery, bigotry and sexual manipulation!] Daria longed to scream at him. [I don't think I'm into that scene.]

"Iantalius," Goliath reservedly approached the similarly colored-captain. "Could we not open a dialogue and an aperture between our two worlds. Many of us wish to remain where we call home, while we wish to embrace our DeMahri brothers and sisters."

"I've spoken with the council about that." The larger captain's tail twitched with excitement. "I'm allowed to leave seven chronotemporal apertures that will allow travel between our two worlds: one with your clan, one each for clans Avalon and Caledon, and the Linoma clan. The other three will be located with Professor Xavier (that was Wren's reccomendation) and also with the Linoma Museum of Ancient Archeological history. We are also leaving behind three emissaries so that we can exchange history and ideas with you. As a safeguard, we're also endowing each clan with the Brightfire and Chronotemporal technology. We will ensure your sovereign right of existence on this planet for as long as you wish to stay here. Each clan is being given a sentient computer database that will interconnect all of you in a global network."

"Thank you." Goliath said in awe. "We were not expecting such generosity."

"We weren't expecting to find long-lost clan." The captain riposted. He clasped each clan leader's hand in kind. "You are blood and kin. You are clan. While our ways may differ, we are all the Children of the Dragon."

Here here, were the cries that erupted from the winged warriors of the night.


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

June 1st, 2006
The Sacred Temple Of Skylaris
777 O'Kault Street
Linoma Bluffs Metroplex
8:45PM shortly after sunset


Daria stood in the small chapel adorned in the ancient white priestly robes of her faith. As high priestess of the newly founded temple of Skylaris in Linoma, she felt elation at having the temple recognized by the City council and the U.S. government as an official religion. A little Djinni's magick and some of Wren's luck expedited an otherwise very arduous and lengthy process.

She watched two beautiful brides walk down the aisle also garbed in while. Dominique's wings folded demurely about her shoulders but hid none of the beauty of her flowing wedding gown. Faint wisps of white lace and satin shimmered in the multihued illumination of the sanctuary. Beside her, garbed in a gown of ivory adorned with small pearls, strolled Wren holding a simple bouquet of Highland Heather. Goliath had Dominique on one arm while Owen escorted his beloved granddaughter down the isle.

Oberon and Titania and many of the Seelie Court sat on one side of the temple amidst Sanguine and mutants. On the other side were family, clan and friends of all those being handfasted beneath the Goddess' watchful eye. Elisa stood to the left of Dominique as her Matron of honor while Armand DeVoe stood to Wren's right as her Patron of Honor.

In her heart, Wren wondered where her dear friend Tina was that night. The Sanguine had left shortly after the Exodus of the Gargoyles to Avalahaun. Without word, she vanished leaving only a note that they'd cross paths again in a few decades. What did Tina know about Wren that she didn't?

Two brides, several Sanguine, a few mutants, some Children of Oberon, quite a few Gargoyles and a few other strange and wonderful creatures thrown in made for an exquisite wedding and a festive celebration. In the back, a very long dragon of emerald and amethyst lay contentedly half-asleep. In the shadows, a nebulous hag schemed how to seek revenge on her sister.

Skylaris opened one and stared at the dark apparition. "Tiamat, not today. Don't even think about it or you and I are going to tangle. Now! GO AWAY."

A shrill shriek filled the chapel that only the dragon seemed to hear. Skylaris felt contentment, happiness and pride as her beloved daughter and favorite high priestess began a ceremony steeped in Gargoyle mating customs and human wedding traditions. It was good to be alive and be in Linoma.

"Friends and loved ones, we are gathered here today under the light of this mating moon to join in the bonds of mate and matrimony Dominique Denise Destine to Lennox Moray MacBeth, We are here this evening to join for all time in mating and marriage Wren Elizabeth Summers and Demetrius Nightkind..."

-Fini




















GLOSSARY

Bedah -a DeMahri unit of measurement

Chronotemporal matrix: space-time continuum. It is a medium of travel that opens apertures in the veils of space and time.

Chronotemporal travel -a form of travel that allows matter to seep through the veils of space and time. It can be used to transport individuals from the El-Lahaimu to the Earth's surface. Confused? Imagine using time-space travel to teleport.... instead of breaking down matter to its sub-atomic particles, "temping" causes fold in time to come together so that a subject can simply slip from one place in time to another location at the same time.

Brightfire energy -named as such by an ancient magus on Ainran who discovered how to harness the magickal energies of the planet Avalahaun. DeMahri scientists have figured out how to generate and manipulate the magickal bolts at will. The brightfire energy is the basis for all of their weaponry. The bolts appear to violet blasts of energy akin to lasers.

Brightfire lance- a weapon that resembles a metal quarterstaff that emits an aura of Brightfire energy. The lance can collapse to a blunt weapon similar to a club. In this form, it discharge Brightfire bolts

El-Laihaimu -the flagship of the DeMahri space fleet. The ship is commanded by Captain Iantalius.

Fissure mainstay- this device is at the center of the El-Lahaimu's engines. It is the most important part of the ship's engines.

Kiarite -an indestructible mineral found on Kiar (Alpha Draconis III) and Alpha Draconis VII (Avalahaun). It is also the material that the resurrected Wyvern clan becomes as a result of their symbiotic link with Adrienne Westfall.