Chapter 1: Flashbacks and Explanations
All the characters appearing in Gargoyles and Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles are copyright Buena Vista Television/The Walt Disney Company. No infringement of these copyrights is intended, and is not authorized by the copyright holder. All original characters are the property of R.A.Lyon.
Winds of Change: Season Two
Elisa drifted in a river of light, sound and muddled images. Her mind feebly grasped for anything that might be remotely linked to reality. She was trapped in a nightmare of illusion with no way to ground herself in reality. There were memories, of course there were. She remembered leaving the Eyrie building not long after the wind ceremony....
Time to clear her head, that was what she had told Goliath she needed. Time.. In reality, she could not look at him without being swamped by guilt. She had lost their baby, a baby that might never have been if only she had not pushed the limits of their relationship. It would take time for her to come to terms with that loss. She knew she could not do it under his watchful eyes. He feared he might lose her as well. His fear that she might slip away into the abyss along with their child was palpable, almost taking on a life of its own. She had no intention of giving up, however. Her soul needed to heal before her heart could return the love he offered once more. She knew he did not understand her need to seek solitute. He would have begged her, in his stoic way, not to leave the castle. There had been no other way and so she had left while he slept at the top of his tower.
Elisa had gone back to her apartment, thankful that Xanatos had maintained it for her. She suspected he had somehow known she would have need of it at some point. As much as she loved Goliath and reveled in spending time with him, she was still an independent soul. She needed space and quiet time just as much as he did. The loss of their child had nearly driven her mad for a time. Goliath had been her anchor through the worst of it. Even so, she had withdrawn from everyone and everything that had ever made her life worthwhile. It was time to find herself again.
The apartment had been quiet, almost solemn when she let herself in that cold winter morning. There had been just enough heat in the place to keep the pipes from bursting. Cagney's urn still sat on the coffee table as a silent reminder that her precious kitty was truly gone. Her thoughts drifted to Lacie, the maturing kitten that haunted Goliath's chambers. She wandered if he knew the cat was there or that she had taken up residence in his rooms. With a faint smile, she realized he must. His nose would have alerted him to the cat. The suspicion blossomed in her mind that he might have deliberately kept one of the kittens from Cagney's last litter. Some might see him as a giant, frightful beast thirsting for blood, but she knew the tender heart that beat beneath that hard exterior. It would be so like him to bond with a tiny kitten like that. Her heart warmed at the thought. The faint smile it invoked froze then melted away. Images of what might have been curdled the warm feeling that had slowly begun to bloom in her soul. She could clearly picture Goliath cradling their hybrid child, doting on it and defying gargoyle tradition to spoil it. Those images faded away and scattered as the baby's ashes had in the wind.
Elisa sagged against the door and put a hand over her eyes. She hoped against hope that the tears threatening to overwhelm her did not burn their way through her eye sockets. How can there be any more, she thought miserably as she allowed herself to sink to the floor. The flood washed over her and for a time, she was aware of nothing but the utterly hopeless feeling of loss. She did not notice her stomach growling insistently for food nor did she notice the sun beginning its slow descent toward the western horizon. Instead, the tears and sobs came harder than they had during the wind ceremony. Her soul had been numb, her heart wrapped in Goliath's protective presence. Now there was only her and the open space of the apartment. She was finally allowing herself to truly feel the loss. The release of emotion seemed to lift a heavy weight from her shoulders as much as it exhausted her physically.
When finally the deluge ceased, she realized she needed food. She wandered if there would be anything remotely edible in the refrigerator. No sooner had the thought occurred than she had tossed it aside. She knew there was nothing in there. The maid service Xanatos had hired to keep the place spotless had also cleaned out whatever was left in there. She had no illusions about the mess she had left them. No, if she wanted food, she was going to have to order take out.
Slithering back up to her feet, she fished her cell phone out of her pocket and scrolled through the list of contacts. She stopped on the number for Wen's Rice Shack. Egg rolls, that was what she wanted. Wen's egg rolls were like a greasy bite of heaven. She poked the button and placed her order. Wen guaranteed thirty minutes or the next order was free. She had had opportunity to call him on that guarantee once or twice.
Demona could not bear the thought of Goliath rutting with his human whore. Her inner turmoil was made worse by the knowledge that they had already conceived one abomination. She had seen the wind ceremony, heard the words spoken choked voices for a 'child of the clan'. Another hybrid monstrosity might not be as impossible as she might hope. A hybrid between gargoyle and human, such a thing should not have been possible. She had to know how it had come to be, if it could happen again and if there was a way to prevent it in the future. Even if she killed this one freakish human another might take her place at the side of one of the other males. The only person she knew in the whole of the world who might be able to solve that riddle was Anton Sevarius. His work with genetics and his obsession with anything gargoyle in nature might help to shed some light on the impossible subject. She had gone to him with the few bits of information she had collected over the last weeks. He wanted the human not just samples of her blood. There were extensive tests to be run, he had said. He needed to see this 'magic' the Maza woman wielded first hand, he had told her. The magic might hold the answers they sought, he had prompted. In all his prodding and probing for more information, Sevarius had somehow convinced Demona herself to capture and bring the woman to him. He was good at manipulation, she had to admit that. There had not been many over the centuries who could coerce her into anything.
Whether than bulk at the idea, Demona had grudgingly agreed to retrieve the human. After all, the woman had proven herself hard to capture or kill over the years. That was due, in no small part, to her closeness to Goliath. Maza was quite skilled in hand-to-hand combat in her own right, however, and that had give the gargess a run for her money on a few occasions. Demona hated herself for admiring that skill, but she recognized it for what it was; one warrior sizing up another. If she were honest with herself, Maza was her nemesis in the truest sense of the word. She thwarted her plans at ever turn. The human was a thorn in her side that she would gladly tear out if given the chance.
It had taken weeks of planning, waiting and watching. Now she had a chance to take the woman without Goliath's interference. Maza had finally returned to her apartment. Demona need only wait for nightfall. The woman would be no match for her gargoyle strength and without Goliath.... Maza will finally be out of my way, she thought venomously. It did not matter to her that Sevarius meant to keep the woman alive as a science experiment. Experiments failed, after all. The test subjects died. Caged, Maza would have no escape from Demona's wrath. She would die once Sevarius had what he needed from her.
That was the thought that carried her onto the detective's balcony with a gracefully lite thump shortly after sunset. Just as she drew even with the sliding glass door, she saw the woman back away from it with a look of shock on her face. She smiled her most vicious smile and gripped the metal door frame in one taloned hand. The metal crumpled with a squeal of protest and she tore the door open. As it buckled, the glass shattered and rained out of it around her feet. The woman within bolted toward the kitchen area, but Demona was faster. She thrust herself through the door and made a grab for the detective.
Elisa heard the faint thump on the balcony and sighed. Goliath..., she thought sadly. He would not understand why she had returned to the apartment with the intention of staying there for the time being. She stepped around the end table with its gilded lamp and the easy chair heading toward the balcony door. It would be locked as she had not stayed there in quite some time. She was reaching for that tiny lock when she glanced up. Her heart stopped and she gasped at the sight.
The last person on Earth she had expected to see standing outside that door was Demona. The other gave her a demented smile a split second before she sank her talons into the door frame. Elisa gripped the collar of her bomber jacked and spun on her heel. The small communicator activated as she darted for the kitchen. She kept a spare gun and ammo in the draw nearest the living room. It had always been a 'just in case' kind of secret. Even her partner did not know it was there. If he had, Matt might have jumped her case for not keeping it locked up like the other.
All this went through her head lightning fast as she whirled around to face Demona, gun pointed at the female's chest. She had not expected the gargess to snap her tail like a whip at her wrist. A yelp of pain and the gun went sailing from her hands to land with a clatter somewhere across the room. So much for slowing her down with a couple of holes in the gut, Elisa thought sarcastically. She wasted no time in putting the kitchen island between herself and her assailant. The instant Demona moved to leap over the island, Elisa vaulted onto it and slid to the other side on a hip. She landed with a rattling thump on the other side. Luckily she missed the pair of bar stools. The gargess made another grab for her and snagged the back of her bomber jacket. The shredding leather sounding too much like tearing flesh as those talons tore through it like a knife through butter.
Demona spat an unintelligible curse at her even as the detective planted one foot into the seat of the easy chair near her favorite lamp. It tipped and she followed, increasing the angle. As she did so, she snatching the lamp from the table. It was solid and might serve as a weapon of sorts. The momentum of the chair's tip and the angle she followed it with yanked the plug from the wall. The room was effectively plunged into darkness. Faint light from the streetlights below the balcony filtered in through the ruined glass door. As the chair finished its fall to the floor, Elisa stepped off it and pivoted around to face her adversary. She had effectively placed the chair between herself and Demona. It was clear that small barrier was not going to stop the enraged gargoyle, however.
Elisa readied herself with her makeshift weapon. When Demona lunged for her, she swung the lamp with every ounce of strength she could muster. The gargess issued a satisfying shriek of pain as the lamp made contact. It snapped with such force it nearly cost Elisa her balance.
The sight was sickening and seemed to resolve itself in slow motion. The lamp snapped and as it did so, it tore into the gargess' flesh. Her tiara spun away with a small chunk of the lamp and a bit of hair. The rest of the lamp ripped a slab of skin away nearly to the bone. Her ear just seemed to slide down past her jaw and hang there with the rest of the strip of meat. Blood poured from the wound profusely in an instant.
Demona screamed in rage and pain as she clamped her hand over the wound. Her eyes, already lit like hellfire, seemed to blaze redder still. Those eyes were locked on Elisa with the promise of a very slow, very painful death. The woman knew she stood no chance against the gargoyle's natural weapons. She was as good as dead if the female got her talons on her.
Some part of Elisa wanted to help the 'woman' even though they were bitter enemies. It was her nature to wish to help those in need. She squashed that desire as the female screamed again in rage and rushed her. There was no time to react. Demona's fist impacted with her jaw like a wrecking ball. The human woman dropped like a sack of potatoes.
There were other pieces, snatches of memory more like wisps of smoke. Her mind grasped at them and they danced away. She saw Goliath sprawled on the floor, the supporting structures of his left wing ruined. A dizzying flight over the city dangling by her arms. The drop on a roof and a desperate attempt to escape that resulted in another knock to the head. Then there was the big white building with the sign her eyes refused to focus on. Another knock to the head and blackness had claimed her.
Elisa struggled out of the river of unconsciousness. She awoke suddenly to harsh artificial light piercing the numbing darkness behind her eyelids. Her face was plastered to a cold slab of cement that was clearly the floor. The stale taste of a long night lingered sourly in her mouth. She detected traces of blood as well as she rolled her tongue over the inside of her tender left cheek. Demona's fist had impacted with her jaw harder than she had thought the night before. Was it only the night before, she wandered. Tendrils of pounding pain shot up through her temple as she attempted to shift. The gargess had not been kind or gentle in transporting her. Her shoulders ached horribly. She might have started out in a death-grip around her waste, but Demona had grown tired of her struggles and dropped her on a rooftop. The moment of freedom had been fleeting and though Elisa was still reeling from the jolt of the drop, she had staggered to her feet. Her run across the roof was short lived. Demona had hit her like a battering ram and slammed her into the short wall that enclosed the rooftop. From there, the gargess had carried her high into the night by her wrists to ensure she would think twice about struggling.
The memories were clearer now that she was awake, but she still did not know where she had been taken. Her only solace was in the knowledge that the clan knew she was in trouble. She had made sure to activate the small communicator that was clipped to the inside collar of her bomber jacket. It would have transmitted everything that happened during her attack directly to the 'command center' of the Eyrie. The clan, more specifically Goliath, would know that Demona had captured her and hauled her off somewhere. With a little luck, either Lex or Xanatos would be able to track her location with the small device. It was a long shot, she knew, but it might well be the only one she had.
Groggily, she looked around now. Her vision was blurry from the concussion she no doubt had. She was able to make out some details of her surroundings even so. The texture of the flooring beneath her had the feel of concrete. Four milk crate-like walls pinned her into a space roughly ten feet by ten feet. There was enough space along the walls for a sink, a toilet and a cot. In the center there was just enough room for her to lie on the floor with her arms and legs slightly spread.
Pushing herself upward into a seated position proved nearly more trouble than it was worth. Her head pounded abominably even as her stomach attempted to evict her last meal. She had never gotten those egg rolls, she realized sickly. So what did I last eat, she wandered. She was certain she did not want to find out by spewing it across the floor.
When her head ceased spinning and her stomach eased its rebellion, she noticed a length of shining chain between her hands. It draped over her leg and continued on up past her range of sight. Tracing it with her fingers, she found it securely locked to a collar that fitted snugly around her neck. Anxiety began to crawl up her spine as she traced the other end with her eyes. Her breath was coming in shallow puffs long before she found the other end firmly bolted to the wall between the room's meager facilities. This...this was her worst nightmare. Demona could have done nearly anything to her, but this. She could have bounced back easily from all of it. Being confined to a small space, strapped in, chained in, restricted to that space with no clear escape... That was her anxiety trigger. It had been since her car had tumbled over the cliff.
The memories of that wild ride down the cliff came flooding back along with those of being trapped by the seat-belt. Parts she had thought lost forever forced their way in, all crowding her mind for attention. Real panic began to mount as she virtually relived that struggle. I drown!, the realization hit her like a tone of bricks. I was dead and Puck....
“Puck brought me back,” she whispered, the sick revelation twisting in her mind like a grave worm. An eternity seemed to tick by before she breathed, “Why.....?”
The panic refused to subside and she staggered to her feet. As far as she knew, Puck was not within range to resurrect her this time should Demona or the 'Doctor' she had mentioned decide to end her. Then a deep gut-eating dread settled over her when she realized she knew exactly who the gargess had meant. There was only one doctor Demona had ever had dealing with. That doctor was one Anton Sevarius, the most brilliant geneticist on the planet. He was also the most insane person she thought she had ever had the displeasure of meeting. It was he who had turned her brother and his fiance into mutates. The question is, what might he do to me? It was a question that caused her stomach to openly rebel once more. This time, she nearly lost as she doubled over and rested her hands on her knees.
When the heaving of her stomach finally passed, she began to look around her cell once more. The panic was subsiding slowly as her detective training took hold. She took note of each and every detail of her tiny prison. There was a skylight above her, but it was made with re-enforced glass, the kind that looked like it was poured over chicken wire. There would be no getting through that without one of the clan's help. Even as she thought of her friends, she realized they would not be coming for her any time soon. The sun was rising. She was willing to bet that skylight was there to torment her. Creating false hope was one of the oldest tricks in the book. Even some cops used it to squeeze information out of their prisoners.
Her first days in the cell passed uneventfully for the most part. Food was delivered through a slot at the bottom of the door. A pole was used to push it into her reach. The chain drew her up roughly three feet shy of actually reaching that door. She suspected this was to prevent her from investigating the electronic lock so clearly embedded in the one solid section of wall in her cell. It was too bad they had stripped her of everything that might have proven useful. She could have gotten free of the chain at least. Someone had apparently patted her down while she was unconscious and taken not only the utility knife she carried, but her bomber jacket as well.
The moment that thought crystallized in her mind, another followed it. The communicator was gone with the jacket. There was no way to let the clan know she was even still alive. Goliath would be worked into an uncontrollable rage by now. She had heard Demona declare her intentions. The gargess had meant to kill her the following day while Goliath slept. He would think her dead these last few days. The gargoyle would not care if he died trying to destroy the immortal female so long as he could avenge Elisa before death claimed him. Her heart broke at the thought of losing him too. It shattered when she realized he must be feeling so much more pain in that moment. Not only had he lost their child just as much as she had, but he must have thought he had lost her as well when he awoke and she was not there. Now he would think he had lost any chance of ever reconciling their relationship. They had not argued, they had not fought or screamed or wept for their lost child. They had simply sat in silence the night of the wind ceremony. Since then, they had barely spoken to each other.
Elisa did not want their last memories of each other to be of sullen silence. They were so much more than that. There was fire and passion between them, there always had been. She did not, would not, back down in the face of his anger no matter how loudly he bellowed. Smiling faintly to herself, she thought of the first few months after the clan awoke. Goliath had raged at her when she had mentioned them leaving the castle. He bellows enough for ten gargoyles, she thought ruefully, but he was hers and she was his on a level like no other relationship in her life. Sometimes, she could almost believe he could hear her thoughts. Maybe he could. The clan was surrounded by magic, after all. If he could, she prayed that he would at least sense that she still lived.
Her reverie was broken by the sound of the door's rails squealing in protest. It snapped her attention back to the other side of the small cell. The last person she had thought to see stepped in and closed the door with a solid clang. The woman wore a maniacal expression that bordered on a mix between hysteria and pure insanity. Her brown hair was short and as wild looking as her eyes. Hyena never looked so intimidating.
“Well, well, well, look what the cat dragged in....or did it puke you up. Damn, Maza, you look like hell,” Hyena cackled as she picked absently at her cybernetic nails. “I guess it doesn't really matter what you look like right now, huh. When I'm finished with you, you'll look like last week's hamburger.”
Elisa realized in short order that she had nowhere to go as the woman advanced on her. There was no escape, both the cage and the chain prevented that. She would have to fight her and pray she won. The alternative was unthinkable.
Hyena slowly advanced on her prey, licking her lips in anticipation. How long had she wanted to get her hands on the detective? Was it five years already? She supposed revenge truly was a dish best served cold, after all. The cyborg meant to savor every ounce of flesh she carved from the woman. It would almost be like taking a new lover.
The first strike of her metal hand across the detective's face was delicious. The metal rang hollowly off the bone. She watched as the woman wobbled backwards, a thin line of blood forming high up on her right cheekbone. How she wished they would let her kill this cop, but she had her orders and the pay was exceptional. She was only to beat her until something happened. They had said she would know what it was when it happened. She blew it off. Whatever it was, it did not matter so long as she had a chance to extract her pound of flesh from the woman who had sent her to prison.
As the detective regained her senses, Hyena struck again. This time, her fist landed in Elisa's gut and the woman doubled over. It was too easy. The cop did not seem able to fight back. She did not think the woman was still suffering the effects of her concussion after so many days. If something did not give soon, she was sure she would become bored with this whole exercise. Her time was growing short as it was.
Elisa's vision exploded in a kaleidoscope of stars when Hyena's open hand struck her cheekbone. She had had some time to recover from the ordeal of being brought to her current hell, but it did not seem long enough. The crazed cyborg was almost more than she could handle under normal circumstances. When the other woman's fist landed in her gut, she doubled over with a wheeze. Her own swing was weak, but she fought back as savagely as her dazed senses were capable. The metal protecting Hyena's soft tissue proved impervious to her punches and kicks. The cybernetic woman just kept coming. Each punch or kick that made contact with Elisa's flesh left her struggling to recover. She found herself unable to defend against the barrage of attacks Hyena delivered. Her fight was weakening and she struggled just to maintain her footing. The green flames of Avalon's magic licked at the back of her awareness, but she was not sure how to access that power. Somehow she felt that if she surrendered to it then she was giving up some vital part of herself. She feared she might lose the core of who she was in those flames.
Eyes pinned to her attacker, Elisa watched for an opening as she sidestepped a particularly nasty kick. The second the opening presented itself, the detective struck. She delivered a solid punch to the woman's unprotected kidney and another to her ear. Hyena screamed and all but collapsed before slithering away from her like some distorted insect. It was all Elisa could do to remain upright as the other woman regained her composure just out of her reach.
Hyena had had enough of this session. The cop was vicious, far more so than she had been in previous encounters on the streets. The woman was no longer aiming in defense, she had taken it to the next level. To her way of thinking, Maza was aiming to kill. It made a certain kind of sense, after all. What did she really have to lose? She was in a cage with no hope of rescue and no chance of escape. The only alternative was to take out her tormentors. It was something Hyena herself would have done. She could almost relate, almost sympathize with her victim. Then she remembered the countless times the other had sent her before a judge or to a prison cell and she snarled, renewing her efforts to inflict as much non-lethal damage as possible.
“Lights out,” she shrieked and caught Elisa squarely in the nose. Given the detective's weakened state, it did the trick. She dropped like a stone.
A moment later the door squealed in its track to admit the other half of the cyborg duo. Jackal stopped before Hyena and glanced at Maza's still form before lovingly caressing his sister's cheek. He tisked before purring,“He said 'non-lethal' damage, sweet sister.”
“She's breathing,” Hyena growled in indignation.
“And she needs to continue. He won't be pleased if she stops.” Jackal's tone betrayed nothing.
“You're too dramatic. Get your panties out of their twist, dear brother. I'm not gonna kill her, at least not yet.” Hyena flicked a nail at him as she stepped past and through the door.
“See that you don't. He still wants those samples.”
“I don't see why he wants so many samples. What's gonna change between now and the next session?” Hyena grumbled as her brother stepped out behind her.
The door clanged shut and Elisa was left alone as their voices drifted away.
Hudson sat in the worn easy-chair watching Maria's young daughter. His mind wandered retrospectively. Thoughts of two generations of hatchlings he had had a hand in raising toddled across his mind. To his way of thinking, the trio had hatched little more than four decades ago. By human standards, they were barely twenty. It struck him then that Brooklyn was now much older since his trip through time.
Time, so much of it had slipped by him. He watched the small human girl intently for a moment. There had been a time not so long ago when he had watched another human child grow and play as this one did. Pity, he thought, that her father taught her t' fear an' hate me people in childhood. This girl would never need to overcome such prejudices. She was learning that gargoyles were as much people as her own race.
Now the girl approached him fearlessly, a smile lighting her young face. Unexpectedly, she climbed into his lap and began tugging at his beard. A smile slowly spread across his own face at her actions.
"What is it, lass?" Hudson asked softly.
"Papa Hu'son, why you got wings?" the small girl asked inquisitively.
Hudson chuckled softly at her vocabulary. At four years old she lacked the ability to pronounce some letters. The fact that she insisted on calling him 'papa' struck a chord tethered directly to his heart.
She had asked this question a few times already. It seemed to him that she liked hearing the word even though it was beyond her speech. Gently, for perhaps the twentieth time, he said, "I be a gargoyle, lass. You know that."
Smiling, she continued gently tugging at his beard as she snuggled into his chest. He had not expected her to curl up and drift off to sleep in his lap, nor had he expected his own nap to overtake him. That was how Maria found them.
Maria Chavez returned home from her last minute shopping trip to find Hudson and her daughter fast asleep in the only easy-chair she possessed that was sturdy enough to hold the aging gargoyle. She smiled warmly at the sight and could not resist the urged to dig her old camera out of a draw. The flash secured the image and the two never flinched. She was glad it was a Polaroid. There was no way she could have explained the gargoyle appearing in the image to a photo lab.
As the image resolved itself, her smile faded. She glanced at the file folder lying on the counter next to the newly developed picture. It was a missing person's file, Elisa's file. The detective had been missing for a couple of months now. The entire network of the NYPD had joined forces and searched the city. The gargoyles searched by night, expanding their patrols and reporting directly to her. No trace had been found of the woman as of yet. She hated to admit it, but the trail had gone cold. There was little hope of finding her alive this late in the game and they all knew it.
Guilt plagued her for taking a night off, but she needed it. She needed to spend some time with her daughter. Hudson had needed some down time as well. His wings, strong and skilled though they were, had been aching so much that he could barely hold onto an updraft. They had grown much closer over the last few months. He had managed to crawl into and fill a hole in her heart. She was not quite sure how that had happened or even when exactly. The when and how really did not matter, she realized. The fact that he had completely and inescapably captured her heart was what counted.
Maria meant to ask Hudson about Goliath once he awoke from his nap. She knew the big clan leader had endured a good many nights of surgeries to repair the damage Demona had done to his wing. He was recovering, but she was unsure of how well as she had not spoken with him. He could not yet join the clan during their search and patrols. Instead, he had secluded himself somewhere inside the Eyrie building. She was concerned with how hard he was taking Elisa's disappearance. If she had wandered about his feelings for the detective before, she knew for a certainty now; he was in love with the woman. She suspected he must be an emotional wreck. That must be why he had refused to see anyone during his own recovery.
Hudson must have noticed the change in her mood through some bizarre atmospheric change in her home as his eyes slowly rolled open. His good eye pinned her to the spot with growing concern etching into his face. He cradled Nina close as he levered himself up out of the chair. To Maria, his care with her daughter looked to be second nature. He was so good with the child and she could not help but wander how he must have been with the clan's hatchlings.
“Ye look as though ye ate a sour cake. What be the matter, lass?” Hudson asked softly.
Maria sighed and indicated the file folder with Elisa's service photo attached. Hudson glanced down and nodded after a moment. They both knew Elisa's absence weighed heavily on the clan as well as the police force.
“Aye, 'tis a shame without a doubt. Elisa be a fine lass. Goliath's not the same wi'out her.” Hudson carefully, delicately dragged the file closer with a talon tip so he could see the image more clearly.
“I've been meaning to ask how he's doing. Is Goliath able to glide yet? Will he glide again? I can't imagine how hard all this must be for him.” Maria was rambling, she knew she was. It was not in her nature to ramble.
Hudson glanced up at her and realized she was near to tears. Elisa's disappearance had hit her hard as well. Almost as hard as it had hit Goliath, he realized. Stepping around the counter, he tucked Nina against one side and wrapped his free arm around the human woman. “'tis a fine mess Demona made o' things this time....”
“It is... As much as I worry for Elisa, I can't help but wander....,” she left her concern unspoken.
“Aye, lass, Goliath will glide again, but it be takin' more time than he wants. The wing be weak and unweildly some nights. He struggles to retrain it.”
“It's good to hear that he'll be able to glide again.” Maria sighed, her emotions in hand once more. “We best put her to bed or she'll sleep in your arms the rest of the night.”
“I dinna mind, lass. The wee one is no trouble.” Hudson chuckled and then sobered when Maria dragged her fingers through his beard with a look of longing pinned on her face. It was the first time she had made such a move since he had explained gargoyle 'kisses' to her. He met her eyes with a question in his good one. When her hand strayed to the locks draped over his shoulder he voiced that question very quietly. “Are ye sure ye nu wat ye be doin', lass?”
“I'll make it up as we go...,” Maria said as she leaned into his chest and dragged the lock of hair she had been toying with forward over his shoulder. A moment later, she tugged the end of his beard as she stepped back, indicating the direction she meant him to go.
When he realized she meant for him to follow her down the hall toward the back of the house, the only sound that uttered from his lips was, “Oh...”
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
Elisa has been spirited away to a research facility. Goliath works on recovering the use of his wing all the while fighting for his sanity.
All the characters appearing in Gargoyles and Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles are copyright Buena Vista Television/The Walt Disney Company. No infringement of these copyrights is intended, and is not authorized by the copyright holder. All original characters are the property of R.A.Lyon.
Winds of Change: Season Two
Goliath worked his wing with the special weights Dr. Sato had asked Xanatos to have made. The muscles were stronger, the bones mended as well as could be expected after so many nights of sheer torture. He cursed Demona with every breath as he raised the wing repeatedly with the weights hanging from the wing-thumb. She had done this to him the night she had ripped Elisa from his life. I will reclaim my place in the skies, he thought. It had become a litany over the last weeks. He was not certain it would ever come to pass. This night, however, it must be different. This night, he was determined that he would glide or he would die. He would accept nothing less. There would be no interference or help from the clan. He did not expect it nor did he desire it. They would be out on patrol when he took his leap of faith. Sitting on his hands in the castle waiting for his injured wing to heal and grant him the skies once more was no longer an option. The loss of his mate, his soulmate if he were truly honest with himself, and the skies with her had driven him to the brink of madness. He could bare it no longer. The others had treated him no differently during his convalescence, but he knew. He knew that a crippled gargoyle was little use to the clan. His inactivity must end this night one way or another. If Elisa still lived, he prayed to the Great Dragon that she would understand. There was a good chance he would not survive if the wing was not as sound.
Carefully, deliberately, Goliath set the weights down. The lavender leviathan stood slowly, taking a deep breath and closing his eyes. It was time. He made his way through the castle corridors to its highest tower, his tower and took his perch as he did every night. This night even the air felt different. The wind caught at his hair and pulled at his wings in an almost playful way. He stood upon his perch gazing out at his protectorate. This night he meant to reclaim the skies. Flexing his left wing, he tested the feel of the tendons, the muscles and even the bones. They felt strong, perhaps even eager to take to the air currents.
Testing those currents, he allowed the wind to fill the left wing. The membranes stretched, the sensation was not painful. Slowly the caress of the air became the simple pleasure he had always delighted in. It seemed the wing was ready. Perhaps more than ready. He prayed it might be so.
Experimentally, he flapped it in that current. The tendons pulled taught around the bones of the struts. There was pain, but it was not unbearable. This was not the sensation he had hoped for, but he knew he must endure it if he wished to reclaim his place. It might subside once he was airborne as Hudson's age related aches and pains often did.
Thrusting the wing forward, he began testing the flow of air over the sensitive tip of the wing-thumb. He could feel every nuance and change in the current, even the variations of temperature and moisture. It felt right, it felt as it should. As luck would have it, the damage Demona had inflicted had not destroyed the delicate lattice work of nerves that would allow him to gauge when to shift his wings and catch the changes in currents.
Another deep breath, one meant for balance as much as cleansing, and he launched himself into the night. His wings snapped open and filled with an updraft. The left wing shuddered faintly in strain, but held and he allowed himself a brief smile. He tested the changing currents with the sensitive thumb of that wing once more and cautiously shifted the long 'finger' that supported the center membrane. Another shudder passed through the entirety of the wing's structure as a joint popped faintly with a twinge of pain. He hovered for a moment more. As a further test of the wing's soundness, he shifted on the currents supporting the uninjured wing. He allowed the left wing to take a stronger updraft and more of his weight upon the wind. It held for an instant and for that instant he was certain he had regained one of the two things he had lost so many nights ago. A half a heartbeat later the wing was wracked with painful spasms. The membranes folded in toward his body of their own accord. Tossed into a sickening downward spiral, he yelled as he once had in human form when he had fallen from the clock tower. So this is how it ends, he thought bitterly as the wind rushed passed his ears, his wings flailing about in the currents in a vain effort to recapture that which he had lost.
Demona glared at Sevarius in disdain. The 'good' doctor had all but taken Maza completely out of her hands. He had originally given her the impression that he merely wanted samples for his genetics work, but when he had gotten his hands on the woman.. It was clear now that she held some perverse fascination for him. He watched her every move for hours on end, jotting down notes every now and then. It was as if he were waiting for something dramatic to happen. She knew he very well could be. As she glanced at the unconscious human on the monitor, she realized she seemed much more human than she had that night on the beach.
An angry sneer creased her face; human. That was what she herself was in that moment. It was not a state of being that she enjoyed. She had to admit, however, that it had its uses. Maza, on the other hand, was much more than human no matter what her outward appearance. Demona knew beyond a doubt that the woman was a Fae half-breed. It was only a matter of time or circumstances that provoked the magic hiding within. Perhaps, she thought, that is what the good doctor is waiting to see. She tapped her lip with one red lacquered nail thoughtfully. How to provoke Maza into showing off the magic, that was the question. Once she did, Sevarius would have no more need of her after he took his samples. He might hand her over then and Demona would finally have her revenge.
There were a number of ways the human might be coerced into showing her abilities. Of course, there were a good many that even Demona would not consider. She had no doubts that Sevarius might, however. That idea concerned her. She wanted the detective unspoiled so that she might break her herself.
Frowning, she glared at the wall mounted monitor that stood from ceiling to floow. The woman was staggering to her feet. She would be allowed to recover for an hour or two before the doctor sent one of the cyborg twins in again. The redhead thought he intended to send Hyena's brother in this time. Jackal was unpredictable at best. Demona glance at him across the room. The look of lust etching his face as he watched the monitor told her all she needed to know. There were things worse than death. She did not want the woman begging her for an end when she finally had her back in her talons. A fight before she crushed the detective's will and every hope, that was what she wanted out of her. If Jackal had his way, there might not be any fight left in her.
Two hours after her last round with Hyena, Elisa leaned on the sink and examined herself in the cracked mirror. Bruises and cuts of varying size greeted her. Some of those cuts were going to leave ugly scars. There was nothing for it. Her captors had not seen fit to provide her anything with which to treat her wounds. She assumed that meant they expected her to die there once they were finished with her. That, however, was the last thing she intended to do. Her detective's skills worked overtime every night she was left alone. She cataloged every nook and cranny of her cell down to the last bolts and screws. If there was a way out, she meant to find it.
The thought was interrupted by the now familiar squeal of the door clanging back on its rails. She glanced back toward it and frowned. Instead of Hyena swaying in, Jackal strutted in like an over proud peacock. She glared at him and turned back to the mirror.
“Damn, looks like my sister got carried away last time.” Jackal snarked.
“Fuck you,” Elisa spat venomously, never giving him a second glance.
“Is that an invitation?” Jackal purred as he took a cautious step forward.
“I'd rather die,” Elisa snarled as she turned to face him.
“Yeah, that's not gonna happen, Maza. You know, the bit about you dying. You're gonna live through everything I get to do to you. I'm gonna make it nice and rough.” his voice had taken on a seductive quality.
“Try it. They'll carry you out of here in a body bag.” Elisa snapped at him in growing disgust. She had not just stood by and taken Hyena's many beatings. On more than one occasion she had gotten in a few punches and kicks. There was no doubt, considering some of the lapses between beatings, that she had left the other sore and nursing a few wounds as well. It would be the same with her freakish twin as well.
Lightning fast, Jackal rushed her and gripped her throat above the collar in one cybernetic hand. He pinned her to the wall between the room's facilities. Through gritted teeth he growled, “I don't think so, bitch. You're mine for the next few hours.”
Demona in Dominique's guise, looked on the scene that played out before her in rising disgust. She had brought the human to this facility so that samples might be taken. The thought of witnessing the kind of violation that Jackal so clearly meant to perform nearly caused her hate blackened heart to quake. The beatings had not bothered her, but this....this was going too far. Maza was her's to break and eventually kill. She did not relish the idea of that mechanical brute breaking her first, especially not like this.
Wheeling around on the doctor, Dominique glared at him with blazing red fire in her eyes and snapped. “Stop this! The human is mine to destroy. You said you merely desired samples. You have them. Many weeks of them....”
“Oh, but my dear Demona, I wish to witness this magical ability you claim the detective posses,.....first hand,” Sevarius purred. The man seemed near to drooling in the most disturbing way.
“Rape is not the key to her magic, human!” she snarled at him as she approached the desk.
“Ah, ah, I don't think I like your tone. Let's just watch, shall we.” Sevarius signaled Fang with a gesture and the big mutate wrapped his arms around Dominique to restrain her.
The sound that issued from Elisa's lips as her head hit the mesh was a half whimper, half gasp of pain. Jackal pressed himself bodily against her in a vulgar way. She tried to move her face away as he licked her cheek. When he clamped his mouth over hers, she caught his lower lip between her teeth. Blood filled her mouth as she bit down hard. He screamed and pulled away just as she tore a small chunk of his lip free and spat it at him.
“Bitch!” he raged and backhanded her. As her head rocked backward, he squeezed her throat a fraction harder and made sure her head banged into the steel mesh behind her. “What's the matter, you monster loving whore? Don't you like you're own kind anymore?”
“You're not my kind....” Elisa gasped out through her teeth. “You're a metal freak...”
“Well....yes and...no. Some bits are still real,” he smiled cruelly and smeared the blood from his lip across her face. “Others are a bit, shall we say,...enhanced.”
A sickening horror rose up in Elisa as his other hand dove toward her nether regions. She gasped at the violation, “No!”
“Oh yes, sweetheart. My dear sister failed to provoke even a light show out of that magic they say you have. I'm betting I'll get something out of you with.......my methods.” his last words were punctuated by the offending hand suddenly abandoning the area it had been clumsily groping to squeeze around one of her breasts.
“You don't wanna do this.......,” Elisa half pleaded, her voice weak and barely audible.
“I think I do. This is payback for all the trouble you've caused me,” Jackal bit back.
“You don't get it! Goliath will tear you apart. I'll toss you in the deepest, darkest hellhole I can find....if there's anything left,” She snarled as she tried in vain to push him way from her. She attempted to bring her knee up sharply at his crotch only to have it deflected by a solid downward thrust of his metal hand.
“Tsk, tsk, now that's not nice, detective,” he said breathily at the sound of her sharp cry of pain. His next words were a whispered seduction, “I like it. Struggle more...”
Tears of frustration and pain rolled down Elisa's cheeks as Jackal dry humped her for several eternal moments. She struggled savagely in his iron grip. Her eyes slipped toward the skylight above. She squeezed them shut for an instant. Bright daylight poured through it. Goliath would still be secured in stone slumber. She could hope for no help there. Help had failed to come during the last weeks. She could not fault the clan. They had no idea where to look. No, if this monster's intentions were to be avoided, or at least survived, she would have to save herself.
Dominique struggled to free herself from Fang's grip. She was forced to bear witness to the heinous act that Jackal attempted to commit against Maza. In some twisted way, she was reliving her own similar experiences with an incident of long ago. She would have stopped this experiment sooner if she had even suspected what the cybernetic freak would actually attempt to do. Sevarius' watchdog, Fang, had prevented her from leaving the room. If she had been her gargoyle self, he would have been no match for her strength. In her human form, he had easily restrained her. Even forced her to watch the 'show' as he called it. She closed her eyes against her adversary's torment, but she could not close her ears to the cries of outrage and grunts that punctuated every passing moment.
Just as suddenly as the strangled cries had begun, they ceased. An anguished male scream replaced them. Dominique opened her eyes and they widened in shock at the sight before her. Elisa's form was surrounded in blazing green fire. A sort of silent encouragement settled into Dominique's mind as those emerald green flames engulfed the struggling pair.
The violation, or attempted violation was too much. Her outraged senses took over on a primal level. Her mind sank into the green flames that licked at the edges of her awareness. Power, waves of rare raging power, broke over her the instant she surrendered to them. Her back arched in the strain to control it. Instead, she lashed out savagely, blindly with all the outrage she could muster. The full force of the magic burst forth, surrounding her, filling the tiny cell and consuming her attacker.
Jackal screamed and threw himself off the object of his lust as green flames licked out of every seam and orifice in his body. All the metal bits began to glow white-hot. His flesh crisped and smoked as the flames consumed him. Those flames receded of their own accord once he had collapsed to a smoldering heap near the far corner of the cell. He was an unrecognizable mass of smoldering metal and charred, steaming flesh.
Elisa sank to her knees, allowing her body to list forward. Her forehead came to rest gently on the floor between her palms. Breathe, Maza. Just breathe, she repeated to herself over and over again. The worst was over. Her attacker was dead. He had failed to do more than clumsy groping.
As fast as it had come, the magic receded completely as she lost her tenuous hold on it. It was closer to the surface, however, she was now able to mentally touch it. Perhaps, in time, she might learn to summon it at will or even gin some measure of control over it. That was if she survived her current situation.
“Jack!” Hyena screamed in anguish, rushing up to the big monitor mounted on the wall as the green flames receded from her brother's smoldering body. The cybernetic woman sank to her knees and bawled like a two year old at the obvious loss of her twin.
Against her better judgment, Dominique made a critical decision in that moment. She would remove Maza from the hands of her current tormentors. Sevarius was far too demented and unstable for her liking. He might still prove useful with his other experiments, but this one was at an end. The samples he wanted were in his lab. He needed nothing more from Maza. Demona, for all her hatred of humanity, would not willingly subject anyone, not her worst enemy, not even a human, to rape. She knew for a certainty that Jackal had not been successful, but it had been a very close thing.
Dominique's gaze passed over Fang in disgust as he finally released her. She did not see the leering sneer of lust she had expected. The brutality of Jackal's demise at his victim's hands seemed to have humbled even him. It was a good thing too. She did not think Maza would be so lucky during a second threat of rape. Especially not with this fury, mutated brute, she thought. All the while, sickening images danced across her mind's eye of what she herself had once endured at the hands of savages long ago.
“I will return sometime before dawn. I have something that needs attending. Keep her alive until then.” Dominique growled and pointed one red lacquered nail at Fang. “And keep him away from her. Rape is not the key to her magic.”
“I wouldn't dream of allowing my bodyguard to enter that room. Just look at what she did to my assistant.” the smile on Sevarius' face was revolting. “But I believe you may well be wrong about the key to her magic. Again, look at what she did to my assistant and he did not even accomplish his task. Imagine what she might be capable of under the threat of far worse.”
“I'd rather not. I have made my wishes clear on this, Sevarius. I want her unspoiled,” Dominique's voice reached an impressive equivalent of a gargoyle's snarl as she shouldered her way past her former captor. She gave Fang a glare that promised unspeakable pain and possible death on her way out.
“Well, that could have gone better,” Sevarius snorted in disgust.
“Jack would still be alive if you hadn't sent him in there with that...that.... monster!” Hyena raged as she found her feet and snatched the doctor by his collar.
“Calm yourself, Hanna. Do you really think I'd let your brother take such a risk?” Sevarius purred and roughly tugged his collar from her grip.
“What do you mean?” Hyena whispered as her face took on a confused look.
“That charred piece of meat in there is not your brother, my sweet girl. That is a clone. You and your brother are far too precious to me to simply cast aside.” Sevarius pointed at the pile of muck in disgust.
Hyena sagged to her knees in relief beside him. She put her head in the doctor's lap with a shuddering sigh and merely blinked when one of the elder man's hands smoothed her wild hair back. In another breath, she whispered, “Thank you, Daddy.”
“I will do anything for you and your twin, my dearest,” he cooed at the distraught woman.
Fang tried to take up as little space as he could during such a touching scene. He had never guessed the pair were Sevarius' brats, nor had he questioned their 'names'. To him, they were just Jackal and Hyena, the crazy cyborg twins. He had to admit, he was somewhat relieved to hear that the barbecue in the other room was not Jackal himself. It had fooled even him. The thing had acted exactly like him, even smelled like him and smell was a powerful identifying agent. He had caught Goliath's and Thailog's scents and even though one was a clone of the other, they did not smell the same. Goliath smelled like leather, concrete, musk and Scottish heather. Thailog smelled similar, but the Scottish heather was missing. In it's place was something closer to mild vanilla. He suspected it had something to do with the cloning process and the maturation tank he had 'hatched' from. Perhaps it was even a factor of the accelerated growth all of the clones had been subjected to. He knew Sevarius had mentioned something of that nature once or twice, but the details had escaped him.
Goliath's fall came to a sudden halt barely a hundred feet from the street below as a metal clad hand gripped his tail painfully. He snarled more at his own indignation than his rescue and turned blazing eyes toward his rescuer. Xanatos' smug face smiled back at him from inside the visor of the newest version of his crimson suit's helmet. This suit had much smaller wings than the previous editions. It was built more for maneuverability than show as it had air jets in key locations to supplement the main booster on its back. Those were meant to allow its 'pilot' a great deal more control. It looked like a rip-off of a comic book design he had recently seen. Something Lexington had been raving about.
“Let me go, Xanatos!” Goliath raged at the human.
“Why? So you can make another attempt at suicide? I don't think so.” Xanatos snapped even as he returned to the top of the Eyrie.
Goliath was taken aback at the suggestion. He glared at the human, but the fire in his eyes faded, “I do not intend to die this night.”
“No? Then just what exactly did you think you were doing? If I hadn't been out here testing the new suit, you would have been a smear on the street at the base of the Eyrie.” Xanatos set him down in the courtyard and continued even as he touched down before the gargoyle. “Think, Goliath! That's the kind of publicity neither the clan or I need right now.”
Goliath snorted as he rolled the offending wing around experimentally. He had thought he was prepared to die if the wing was not sound. Now he realized that was the farthest from the truth. As much as he loathed the idea, he was indebted to Xanatos again for saving his life.
“You may not care what happens to you anymore, but I can guarantee that Elisa does...,” Xanatos lost whatever else he had been about to say with the withering look of death that passed over the giant gargoyle's face. He had never seen a more deadly or hopeless expression on the male's face.
“Elisa is dead!” Goliath virtually howled at the human. His heart caving in just a little more with the acknowledgment of each word. His voice became the tortured sounds a wounded animal might make as he spoke, “It's time I accepted it. Demona left no question as to her fate once the sun rose to its zenith when she dragged Elisa out of the apartment. She has been dead these past weeks.....I have been clinging to a memory of hope....”
After several long moments of grim silence, Xanatos finally found his voice, “There was a phone call this morning...”
“I care naught for your business games, Xanatos,” Goliath said hollowly into the night as he had turned away from the human. His tormented gaze locked on an anonymous point across the city as the wind whisked the sting of tears from his eyes.
“Goliath,” Xanatos could not help himself as he paused to prolong the drama. He had to string him along for a moment, at least. It was his nature to annoy the creature, the 'man' before him. Even he had to admit, there was a limit, however, when the behemoth turned a deadly glare on him once more. Finally the moment was upon him and he gave up the information he had been guarding so fearlessly. “Elisa's alive.”
A spark of hope ignited in the gargoyle's face only to curdle and dissolve into an expression of the purest rage and anguish. His hands snaked out and gripped the chest plate of the suit, crushing parts of it as he jerked the human close. A snarl escaped his clinched teeth as his eyes locked on the human's. His mind was swimming in adrenaline soaked rage in that moment.
A vein in Goliath's neck stood out and throbbed angrily. Xanatos could not take his eyes off it for what seemed an eternity. He could clearly see the odd triple beat of his friend's heart. His friend, yes, that was the right word. They had slowly become friends over the last couple of years as he had proven himself trustworthy.
“Do not toy with me, Xanatos. I promise you will not like the end results,” Goliath's voice was deathly quiet.
“I wouldn't dream of it, my friend.” Xanatos boasted, albeit quietly. In his heart, he knew that he would in some cases, but not in this. Not with such critical information. He continued on as if Goliath had not just implied a threat to end him. “At least not with something as important as this.”
Goliath's face began to relax, the pulsing of that huge vein in his neck slowed as he set the man back down on his feet and released his grip. “Very well, tell me of this call and why you believe Elisa still lives.”
Elisa barely noticed the setting of the sun. She had lost her grip on reality for a time while her mind worked through the trauma of her latest attack. There had been just enough movement from her in those hours to snatch the blanket from the cot to cover herself. Her clothes were more or less ruined from Jackal's pawing metallic talons. The tears had dried on her face long ago leaving clean streaks in the soot that smeared it. No one had bothered to remove the roasted remains of their 'colleague' in all that time. The smell bleeding off him at first had been sickeningly appetizing and nauseating at the same time. Now, however, there could be no doubt that he was dead. It had taken only a few hours for the sour smell of death to begin mingling with the scent of cooked meat. What had not been cooked had 'spoiled' quickly.
As the night deepened, Elisa's thoughts began to focus once more. Her situation was bad and could become much worse in the blink of an eye. She had been lucky this time. Jackal had not succeeded in raping her. It had been a very near thing, far too close for comfort. He had violated her personal space and her modesty, however. That was something, she was sure, would stay with her for quite some time to come.
Taking a deep breath, her resolve solidified into a singular determination: escape. She knew Goliath and the clan had no idea where Demona had taken her. They would have come for her by now if they had. She would have to save herself this time. There was no other recourse.
Glancing around the darkened cell, she began to take inventory of exactly what she had at hand. It was a process she had gone through every night since her capture. Until tonight, however, there had been little she could have used to assist her escape. Her first priority had to be getting free of the collar or at least freeing the chain from the wall. It prevented her from inspecting the electronic lock on the door. Her eyes, accustomed to darkness, took in every detail. Aside from the cot, the toilet and sink, there was little she could use. Then her eyes fell on the remains of the cyborg and her stomach attempted to heave. He was within reach of her chain, barely. There was a wealth of items littering the charred and spoiled meat that she might use to her advantage. If only, she thought in utter revulsion, I'm willing to sink my hands into his corpse.
Elisa could taste bile rising in the back of her throat as she crawled over to the mound of meat and metal that constituted a body. She barely kept her last meal down as she dug through it in search of anything that might prove useful. Dry heaves were worse, she decided as her rebellious stomach heaved again and again in an effort to expel her diner. When she came across the 'enhanced' phallus he had boasted of in her ear, she lost the battle with her stomach. She quickly tossed the offending object aside and lost her dinner near it. Once the torrent was over she continued her search.
It did not take long to amass a sizable collection of springs and rods she thought might aid her in escape. As luck would have it, she even ran across a small toolbox of sorts with an assortment of screwdrivers. She dragged the rest of her haul back to the space she had occupied over the last several hours along with the toolbox. It took her only a few moments to find a tool that would fit the screws that held the chain to the wall. It was a little loose and slow going, but the screws that held the chain came out one by one. She chuckled faintly to herself as she worked them out of the wall. Only an idiot would use screws in place of bolts in a place like this, she thought.
In a matter of seconds, she had the chain free of the wall. She scuttled over to the door cautiously. This, she knew full well, could be playing into another one of her tormentor's little tests, but she had to keep moving. The panel protecting the circuitry was flush with a wall panel that had been placed near the door. Try as she might, she could not lift it to access the circuits. In frustration, she gripped the rubber handle of the screwdriver firmly as if it were a knife. She hissed at the noise she knew it would make and quickly jabbed the blade of the flat-head into the glass covering. It was loud, but not as loud as she had feared it might be. It popped and sizzled with sparks as it shorted out. She heard a metallic clang as the locking bolt suddenly released.
After an eternity of waiting for some sort of security to come rushing in at her, Elisa finally found the courage to grip the steel mesh of the sliding door. It slid freely as she stood and peeked around. Nothing moved. All was deathly quiet. After looping the length of the chain around her arm, she took a cautious step out of the cell she had occupied during the worst weeks of her life. As she lightly ran across the room, she noticed a set of dark scrubs hanging near what could only be the exit. She grabbed them and pushed the door open. It rattled and clanged with a maddening echo that reverberated down the hall of what was clearly a vast research facility. She cringed as she dashed instinctively to her right.
The sound of voices carried to her and she ducked into the first unlocked door she found. To her relief it was an empty restroom, the stalls open and dark. She flicked the lock on the door and took a couple of steps backward trying not to breathe too heavily. After a moment she heard footsteps as the voices passed the door of her sanctuary. With a sigh of relief, she began to strip her torn clothes off. The scrubs were tossed on a couple of heartbeats later. They were a little loose, but it was better than her tattered clothing. Those, she tucked into the very bottom of the trash can.
A thought struck her and she quickly patted down the pockets of the outfit she now wore. She found a hair-tie in one and a key-card in another. The hair tie she used to pull her hair up and out of her way. It would make it harder for her jailer's stooges to identify her as well. They were looking for a woman in a black t-shirt, blue jeans and long flowing black hair. With the scrubs and her hair up, she did not fit the description they would have been given.
Elisa looked the key-card over. It belonged to a Dana Westman. The image was of a woman roughly her own age with dark hair and dark eyes. The woman's hair was pulled into a tight ponytail. Glancing at the mirror, she realized she could almost fit the image save for the soot stains and blood on her face. Her own eyes were slightly more slanted then Ms. Westman's, but few would notice that at a glance. It was that damn collar and chain that would give her away, she realized. There was too much of it to even consider attempting to hide in her clothing. She examined the collar and found that it was nothing special. It was little more than a giant clamp. The chain as secured to it by a tiny lock.
Carefully, Elisa took one of the screwdrivers and wedged it between the lock's small shank and the collar. It took a little effort, but with the added leverage she managed pry the lock open. As soon as it was free she tore the collar away from her neck. She held it, staring at it for several long moments as if in a trance. Finally, she tucked it and the length of chain into the bottom of the trash can along with her discarded clothing. She buried them in the damp paper towels that had overflowed around the can. It felt as if she were burying the images of a disturbing nightmare.
Turning back to the mirror, she realized there was one last thing to take care of; the soot on her face. A little soap and water made short work of that and when she looked at herself again, she fit Ms. Westman's image just a little more. Security would be hard pressed, even with the tiny nicks and scars all over her face, to tell them apart at a distance. She might pass them and any cameras in the halls unnoticed for a time.
As soon as she was sure the hall was clear, she darted out of the bathroom. Adrenaline flooded her system in that instant. As she quietly jogged the hall, she thanked the heavens that the shoes she current wore had soft rubber soles. The less noise she made, the more likely she was to actually escape this hell.
A door marked stairs came up on her left and she bee-lined for it. Elevators were out of the question. That was the fastest way to get caught and hauled back to her cage. Pushing the door open, she all but stumbled through it. The wall read 18th floor. She took the stairs two or three at a time as she hauled herself along with the railing. A loud clang brought her to a sudden halt with a gasp as a flashlight beam flickered around a few floors below her.
Holding her breath, she waited in the middle of a flight of stairs to see if she had been noticed. She heard a man's voice and the crackle of a two-way radio a moment later. “All clear. No sign of the experiment.”
Experiment, she raged mentally, her blood flashed instantly to boiling. I'll show you an experiment. I'll haul your ass in and lock every last one of up for aiding and abetting known felons, kidnapping, assaulting an officer, and attempted murder. She let the breath she had been holding out when the light disappeared and the door banged shut. A moment later she was moving again.
It did not take her long to make it to the ground floor. Peeking her head out, she glanced around at what was clearly a hospital-like lobby. From the logo on the wall facing out she now knew that Demona had brought her to Cyberbiotics. That psychotic gargoyle bitch had delivered her to Dr. Anton Sevarius. It all made perfect sense now. The blood and tissue samples that were taken between the beatings meant he was still playing around with genetics. She feared what he might do with her samples. He had already made Delilah with one round of samples. What might he do with more? Her genetics might well be different now that the Fae side of her nature had made itself known. How much more deadly might one of his creations be with that added to the mix? Glancing back over her shoulder, she wondered if perhaps she should go back and try to find those samples. They should be destroyed before he could begin experimenting with them. What if he had already begun? Another look at the lobby and the huge wall of glass the soft moonlight filtered though decided her. She could not risk going back without backup no matter what kind of monstrosity the 'good' doctor might create. Escape had to be her primary goal in that moment. She had come too far.
Elisa crept out the door into the short hall that merged with the lobby and cautiously looked around. It appeared empty, the dim night lighting left a good many darkened corners, however. She could not be certain the lobby and its surrounding corridors were completely vacant. So, in a moment of desperation, she made a run for the exit. Unlike a true hospital, the double glass doors were locked and she slammed into them hard enough to knock the breath from her lungs. The glass surrounding those doors seemed to ripple faintly from the impact. She tugged on those doors hoping they were merely stuck, but they did not budge. A frantic need to get out was building to an uncontrollable height. Escape was mere inches away.
“I got her!” a male voice all but shouted from a connecting hallway to her left. She glanced at him and saw the mic at his shoulder. The building's entire security network knew where she was the instant he had called it in. His flashlight beam locked on her as he advanced.
“Shit,” Elisa swore as he worried at the snap on his gun holster. She was out of time. A choice had presented itself to her: dive through the glass and run or be shot. Being shot was too risky. She chose the glass even as she began to back up to make a run at it.
The huge wall of glass surrounding the double doors exploded as she threw herself through it. Glass rained down on her and the rent-a-cop both. It covered her in cuts and nicks that she ignored as she landed on her feet in a full run on the outside. The wind beat warmly at her face with the scents of spring flowers. What she would not give to have wings in that moment. She wished she had better control of the magic that burned at her core. A transformation might very well have been possible in that case. For now, she was reduced to simply running for her life.
It was late, but there was still a good amount of traffic on the road before the facility. Elisa did not hesitate to aim herself for that traffic. Someone was sure to stop and help her. She never expected the the next series of events to take place as they did. A loud report echoed off the surrounding buildings. Pain blossomed high in her chest. The momentum of both her run and the gunshot carried her into the path of the red van she had hoped to flag down. She heard tires squall as breaks were applied. The impact was hard, the van had not slowed enough, and sent her tumbling several feet. The last thing she saw before blackness claimed her was a rotund man with a red beard nearly tearing the door of his van off its hinges in an effort to get out. In a matter of seconds he had rushed up to stand over her with a cellphone in hand.
“Dammit, Maza!” Fang snarled viciously from his perch across the street. The entire sequence of events played out before him in sickening detail. He knew there was a good chance the woman was dead. His earlier call to the billionaire might now be for naught. “You could o' waited a couple more hours...... Xanatos wu'da sent in the cavalry.”
An instant after the woman went down, Fang could have sworn he heard a wildcat's howl. He looked around, scanning the rooftops. There were a few he could think of who might react verbally to the detective's apparent death. His genetically enhanced eyes found the mark just as it darted off into the night. From the shape, glowing red eyes and obvious rage, he was sure it had to be Demona. A faint smirk crinkled his muzzle. The thought slid like oil across his mind as he watched her for a moment, Lost yer shot at revenge, huh?
When his attention returned to the scene below, he noted the stand-off between the big man and the rent-a-cop. It looked as if the latter was about to shoot the driver of the van. As the sound of wailing sirens came into existence, the rent-a-cop tucked tail and ran back for the Cyberbiotics building.
Fang waited, watching as the medics rolled up and assessed the scene. Cops swarmed the area, but seemed unable to find the rent-a-cop. It was clear by the way they treated Maza that she was still alive. He waited until they'd loaded her up into the squad before launching himself into the night. His mind made up, he decided to follow them. Best, he thought, to know where they take her, just in case. He would make another call to the billionaire once he knew what hospital to send him to. It was the least he could do after what Sevarius had done to her. He had no qualms about setting off mutagenic bombs, but torture and rape... Those he had issues with.
“Elisa is in a hospital in upper New Jersey,” Xanatos began.
“What?” Goliath hissed through his teeth.
“According to my source, she was shot by a security guard and then hit by a car after escaping the Cyberbiotics facility in lower New York. The closest hospital was just over the state line so they took her there. She had no I.D. on her. They had no idea who she was.” Xanatos continued as if Goliath had not spoken.
“What are you saying? Have you known where she was this entire time?” Goliath bellowed and barely resisted the urge to snatch the human up and shake him like a rag doll.
“No, of course not! I received a second call this afternoon. She's been in a coma for the last week,” he hesitated to give away the identity of his source. Goliath, in no way, cared for that particular individual. He thought better of his lack of disclosure after one look in the big male's eyes. “Fang was the caller, Goliath. He had a falling out with Sevarius over the treatment of the detective. He thought things might go easier on him if he came clean.”
After a moment of obvious deep thought, Goliath locked eyes with his one-time adversary, “Take me to her...”
“I've already made other arrangements. She's being brought back to the Eyrie infirmary, back home. As a matter of fact, she should be arriving any moment.” Xanatos smiled that greasy smile of his.
Goliath maintain eye contact for a moment more before he put a large hand on the man's shoulder. “You have proven yourself a changed man many times over and still I jump to foregone conclusions based on the shadows of your past.”
“If that's your way of saying you're sorry, I accept the apology.” Xanatos snarked outwardly and sighed inwardly in relief.
“Yes....,” Goliath drew the word out in his typical baritone. “I suppose it is an apology.”
Goliath's mind is fractured. There may be dark magic in the mix. The Winds of Change swirl ever faster as Hudson's continued presence in the timeline creates ripples.
All the characters appearing in Gargoyles and Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles are copyright Buena Vista Television/The Walt Disney Company. No infringement of these copyrights is intended, and is not authorized by the copyright holder. All original characters are the property of R.A.Lyon.
Winds of Change: Season Two
Maria nearly dropped the phone at the sound of the voice on the other end. Her hand shook and she gripped it with the other so as to hold onto the receiver. She smiled and let out a shaky laugh. So many things went through her mind in that moment. She grumbled into the phone with mock ire, “You're not off the hook for that undercover job, Maza.”
When she finally put the phone down, she turned toward Hudson's stone form out on the patio. He would awaken soon, sunset was less than twenty minutes away. The male had taken to roosting on her enclosed patio every couple of nights over the last few weeks. There were some nights he did not wish to be too far from her. More so last night.
Maria smiled at the memory of the events of the previous night. He had stood awkwardly in the doorway of her bedroom after putting Nina to bed. She had tried to coerce him into the room, but he had dug his talons into the carpet. Worse than a cat, she muttered to herself. Finally, in her frustration, she had leaned into him, stood on her tiptoes and planted a big wet kiss on his lips.
Hudson had been flustered. His eyes had grown as large as saucers as he gazed down at her. She thought it very fetching that his normally tan flesh flushed a deep crimson around his ears in the seconds following. If he had not realized what was on her mind before, he did in that moment. She smiled coyly up at him. After what seemed an eternity, his entire face crinkled in a big grin. Maria had thought he looked even more distinguished in that moment than he had the entire time she had known him. When he cautiously ran a talon through her short hair, she leaned into it contentedly.
Maria had not been at all prepared for what had come next. She had expected that some form of intimacy might follow. It had, but not in the manner she might have thought it would. Hudson, ever the traditionalist of his clan, had searched through the hidden belt pouch he always wore. A moment later, he had brought out a very old looking gold and silver bracelet. She had looked up at him in confusion.
“Aye, lass, I be offerin' a token of me mating pledge,” he paused at the confused look on her face then continued in a weaker voice, “If ye be havin' me. It be the proper thing to do.”
She had blinked at him a couple of times trying to wrap her head around what he was saying. The instant it looked as if he meant to put the bracelet away, she reached out and gingerly accepted it. The second she did he nearly crushed her in a bone shattering hug.
Hudson had opened up to her in the following hours more than he had in the months since she had met him. He spoke of his lost mate, the hatchlings they had clutched together and a great many other things. His mate had been dead for a good many years before that fateful night of betrayal on the Scottish cliffs of Wyvern. The aging gargoyle was fairly certain at least one of their children had perished during the clan massacre, he never knew for sure. He knew of only one that had survived; Broadway. The big aquamarine member of the trio was his biological son according to the tests Dr. Sato had run. Of course gargoyles did not recognize such things. At least, he had told her, not until Goliath had acknowledged Angela as his daughter.
Now Maria fingered the fine silver and gold band around her left wrist and gazed at the stone figure just outside the sliding glass door. He had explained to her that a mating pledge was much like a human engagement. They would be betrothed in the eyes of the clan once he announced it, mated in all but an official capacity. The bracelet was something he had kept close to his heart for more than a millennium. It was not typically the gargoyle custom to exchange such tokens, but he had felt it necessary.
Maria suspected the bracelet might once have belonged to Hudson's former mate. Some women would have frowned on the very idea, but not the practical chief of police. She knew just how precious something like that must be for the aging gargoyle. It was the last reminder of love he had clung to through a lifetime of dark days. It might even have been his anchor to sanity. For him to offer it to her in a pledge of union left her overwhelmed with the depth of emotion that had developed between them in such a short time.
Unfortunately, there were no other gargoyle elders local to conduct a proper mating ceremony. According to Goliath, there were others all around the world, but theirs seemed to be the only clan in the United States. Hudson expressed concerns that they might never complete their pledge. She had suggested a human minister carry out some kind of bonding ceremony for them. That was when the gears of his mind really seemed to begin turning. He had chewed on a similar idea for Goliath and Elisa since they were of both worlds as well. By the time the sun rose, he had come to what he had felt was an acceptable solution to all their worries in that regard.
Hudson awoke with his customary roar and stretch as the sun sank below the horizon. It took him only a moment to realize exactly where he was as he glanced around the partial enclosure. Maria's home, he thought with an easy grin, something that had not come often since the loss of his 'Joy'. He turned to face the glass door and saw her standing there waiting. Blonde hair, aqua color and wings, she would be the very image of me lost mate, he indulged the thought for a moment. Even her personality was nearly identical. It was no wonder she held him so deeply enthralled. He was now certain that the Great Dragon must have seen fit to weave his 'Joy' back into the fabric of life.
It had taken time to let go of the old mistrust of humans. Now, as he locked gazes with the human on the other side of the glass, he knew to his bones that souls had no race, no species. Souls were only wrapped in the flesh they were born to, nothing more. There could be nothing more natural than one soul finding love in another. It was as the Great Dragon meant it to be. He knew that this was how it had been for Dracona herself all those millennia ago. If, he thought, the legend be true.
The look on Maria's face, her body language and the smile that seemed to spread from ear to ear told him something more was up than just his awakening. Delicately, he opened the door and stepped into the house. She fairly beamed up at him in her excitement. He barely had a chance to close the door behind him before the reason began tumbling from her lips in a jumble.
“Slow down, lass,” Hudson said, holding up a hand and feeling a little overwhelmed by the sudden torrent of information flowing out of her.
Taking a breath, Maria tried again to convey the reason for her excitement, “Elisa's alive! She's headed for the Eyrie.”
Three months, it felt like a lifetime. Nightmares of Jackal and her imprisonment, the beatings, the race for freedom, the gunshot and impact with the van were all jumbled up in her mind as she rode along in the back of the limo. She had had so little time to process any of it. Some sights and sounds almost completely robbed her of the ability to function. She refused to accept it or to give into it. The thought of returning to work as soon as humanly possible drove her onward. She called Maria from the limo's phone. It was good to hear her voice again. The call only lasted a few minutes. In that time, she could think of only one other thing she wanted to do more than return to work; fling herself into Goliath's arms.
When she awoke in a hospital bed terror had squeezed her heart like an overripe tomato. She had fought the nurses savagely in an effort to escape them. The realization hit her a short time later that she was no longer in the Cyberbiotics facility. The hospital staff had backed off and allowed her to calm herself. She had sobbed in relief when that knowledge finally sank in.
When Fang, very well concealed in a trench coat and hoodie, had shown up in her room. She had cringed away from him, scrambling out of the hospital bed and pressing herself tightly into the corner farthest from him. Her breath had come in short bursts and she had thought her heart might explode. He was one of Sevarius' cronies, he had known Jackal well and she suspected he might even share some of his ideas. She had wanted to throw the tray on the bedside table at him, anything to make him leave.
When he set flowers down on that same table, she glared daggers at him. Mentally, she dared him to make a wrong move. She would have beaten him to death with her dinner tray and maybe the vase the flowers were in too, just for good measure. Instead, he had glanced down at his feet, a look of deep remorse pinned to his face. His voice, when he spoke, was soft, softer than she had ever heard it, “I couldn't do it. Dominique was right. Sevarius went too far. I called Xanatos. He knows where you are.”
Now she was finally coming home. Home...She had not realized that the Eyrie building had become that meaningful to her until Demona had forcibly dragged her from her apartment. She was safe here, with the clan, with Goliath. This was where she belonged, not that apartment. There was nothing left in that place for her now. She was certain that even Cagney's urn had been smashed in the struggle with Demona.
As the car pulled to a stop, she swung the door open and carefully climbed out. She gave Dr. Sato a withering look of death when he urged her to take a seat in the wheelchair he had brought to greet her. He merely nodded and allowed her to walk to the elevator. It was Goliath she wanted above all. She wanted to tuck herself into his arms and lose herself in his scent. None of the clan was there to greet her, however, and that worried her.
“Elisa!” a lilting female voice cried out and she found herself wrapped in Fox's arms. Elisa winced in pain as the redhead took a step back and eyed her. The look Fox gave her was sobering. “We had lost hope of ever finding you. Goliath......he...he's not been the same since your disappeared. He went mad with grief for awhile and convinced himself that you were dead.”
Elisa's eyes widened in shock and before she could say anything, Fox continued, stumbling over her words in an effort to get them out. “Elisa, he...... I.... think he....he tried to....kill himself tonight......”
“Oh god! Where is he?” the words left her lips even as she rushed for the elevator and poked the button repeatedly. She ignored the pain that lanced through the upper part of her chest. The wound was healing. It had not been anywhere near as bad as the accidental gunshot wound she had suffered from her own gun.
“David had him occupied in the courtyard just a little while ago. He should still be there, but please, please....be careful.... He's....Elisa, he's.....not really...” Fox faltered spreading her hands helplessly. She could not finish what she had been about to say. Her words were a frantic plea.
“He would never hurt me, Fox.” Elisa said simply before the doors to the elevator closed behind her. She had not held it for the others in her haste.
“He's not stable, Elisa. He's dangerous......,” Fox whispered to the closed doors of the elevator. She prayed the gargoyle recognized his lost lover when she reached him.
So many times Fox had seen him bellowing at no one. Screaming to be left alone. He begged for the torment to end. She knew he was hallucinating, they all did. The only explanation that came to her was that he must be seeing phantoms of Elisa. Those specters must have been taunting him, convincing him that his lover was dead. She could only guess at the hell he must be going through in those moments.
At other times, he seemed himself, if a little edgier than normal. Officially, he was still clan leader. If he had known that Brooklyn had taken over in an unofficial capacity, there might have been bloodshed. The brick red gargoyle had made it clear that his position was only temporary. He had no intention of usurping Goliath's claim to leadership.
“The clan needs stability,” Brooklyn had said. “Right now Goliath is the poster boy for the mentally deranged.”
There were times Fox found it hard to believe that Brooklyn, young, reckless, impetuous Brooklyn was now a good deal older than Goliath. He had matured into a fine leader. The others looked up to him. She only hoped that Goliath would see the good he had done if his shattered mind ever healed. Glancing at Dr. Sato, she wished the man was able to heal the mind as well as he could the body. She did not think there was a psychiatrist on the planet who would take a session with a gargoyle Goliath's size or any gargoyle, for that matter.
Turning toward the main garage entrance, Fox headed for the elevator in the main lobby. It might be best if she beat Elisa to the castle level. Her husband was about to have his hands full, she was afraid. One half insane gargoyle was bad enough, but adding a detective with ptsd to the mix might just create the kind of powder keg they had all been trying to avoid.
Goliath sat on the edge of the fountain along the outer edge of the courtyard. A part of him wondered if what Xanatos had said was true. Could it be that Elisa lived? No, he thought it a ploy to prevent him from.... From what, he asked himself. He had not really thought it through. Had he truly been attempting suicide earlier? His wing was nearly ready to take to the skies once more, but he had tried to rush it. The skies meant little to him without his beloved. He mulled the question over in his mind for a time and a certain realization came to him. In a sense it was true, he longed for an end to his misery. In death, he might have finally been reunited with Elisa, but if she still lived.... If she still lived, he would be damned for eternity. He would have forsaken the gargoyle's most basic commandment; to protect. Abandoning his human lover to a fate without his protection was tantamount to the ultimate sin. He was caught between a rock and a hard place. Until he knew for certain what had become of her, he knew he must continue to breathe, his heart must continue to beat. That did not mean he would live, but he would exist.
The chime of the elevator some distance away carried softly to his sensitive ears and he raised his head. He expected Xanatos, Fox or Owen to emerge from the doorway near the crenelated wall. His heart skipped a beat when a vision of the dead stepped forth. Elisa stopped in the doorway and glanced around the courtyard. When her eyes fell on him, her breath caught. She rushed forward with a sob. Her clothing was different, not the usual red bomber jacket, black t-shirt and jeans. The shades that haunted him during the long nights always wore the same clothing. The breeze carried her scent to him and his resolve that this was yet another shade nearly cracked. Those that haunted him held no scent about them. That scent brought him slowly to his feet, but nothing more.
Elisa slowed and came to a stop before him as he stood. The look in his eyes was not what she had expected. There was no joy. Suspicion clouded his gaze. He looked haunted. There was deep concern and question in the detective's voice when it finally came, “Goliath....?”
Her voice, the music of his soul, jolted his heart in his chest so hard he thought it might burst free. The shades had never spoken before. Perhaps, perhaps, he thought warily, this truly is my Elisa returned to me at last. He studied her face. There were dozens of tiny scars marring her beauty now. They did not matter to him. If this was his Elisa, he would joyfully accept her in any condition so long as she lived.
Cautiously, he opened his arms to her. If she was not his Elisa, then perhaps she was Death come to embrace him and unite him with his lost love. Three months had seemed an eternity. He knew he could not bare a lifetime without her. Madness would devour what was left of his mind.
Elisa watched him open his arms. He trembled faintly and his wings twitched. Still there was no look of joy, no recognition in his eyes. She searched his face and realized in that moment that he was not sure if she was truly there. Her eyes flitted to the left wing and its supporting structures. Her breath caught once more. It looked sound, but there were a great deal of zigzagging scars up and down the arm itself. Granted, they were fine surgical scars, but still, they spoke of the torture he must have endured to correct the damage Demona had done. The very fact that stone sleep had not healed them completely re-enforced that assumption.
Slowly, she stepped into his arms. She had meant to barrel into him, wrap her arms around him the best she could with the sling and lose herself in the hard muscles of his chest. The suspicion in his eyes had halted her. Very carefully, she laid a thin hand on his chest, right over the triplicate beat of his heart. He shuddered and inhaled deeply, his eyes closing at the touch. She noticed his heart quicken as he opened his eyes once more to gaze down at her. A single tear danced along the lashes of his left eye before it decided to drop past the craggy planes of his face and land on her bare forearm.
“You're really here......,” he whispered in disbelief.
“I'm here...,” she answered softly.
Like crystal falling to stone, the moment shattered and Elisa found herself swept up into a near crushing embrace. She felt Goliath bury his face in the pulse point of her neck as he inhaled deeply. His wings wrapped around her, the left only showing a faint awkwardness in the action. To her, it appeared as if the tendons were straining against each other. She heard the joints creak as the wing took it's customary position around her small frame. Goliath did not seem to notice how it resisted him, but she did. She intended to point that out to the doctor later on.
“How I've missed you, my love. I was certain you were dead. After.....Demona.....,” Goliath paused and silently tried to reign in his emotions as he sank to his knees with her still clasped close to him.
“What she did was unspeakable. I can't talk about it, not yet. I need you, just hold me like you'll never let me go.” Elisa murmured against his ear as she ran her hands through his hair in long, satisfying strokes.
“Never,” he hissed near her own ear. “I shall never release you from my sight again, my Angel of the Dawn.”
A pair of fiery red eyes blazed in the night at the reunited pair. Demona cursed their luck a thousand times over. She had come to witness Goliath's continued misery. It had become a balm to her own tortured soul to listen to his howls of loss and loneliness. One of her contacts had informed her that only hours ago, he had attempted to take his own life. She knew then that she must be here to witness the final acts of his miserable existence. Now she wanted to rip his still beating heart from his chest at the sight before her. Why, she berated the heavens, could his pet not have remained in her coma a few more days. Why must they always thwart my plans, she raged silently. She needed Elisa out of the way at least. Now she knew for a certainty that without her, Goliath would eventually sink into hopelessness. The plan was perfect, it would have worked if only.....
An instant later, a thought struck her. A delicious idea that would tip the scales in her favor once more. Goliath was vulnerable, weak and suspicious. She need only encourage the suspicion once more. The spells she had cast over the last weeks had ensured his mind was near to shattering. If she cast the web once more, it might well tip him completely over the edge. Very quietly, Demona began to chant and direct the flow of magic toward the massive gargoyle. If she was successful, he might well turn on the human and tear her to shreds before he was even aware of what he was doing. If not, then he might at least flee from the sight of her.
When Goliath was finally able to release her from his arms, he stood and stepped back so that he could get a better look at her. It was then that he noticed the sling her right arm rested in. He frowned and gingerly touched the strap with the back of a talon.
Elisa shrugged slightly and said, “The rent-a-cop had bad aim. The bullet hit high, grazed my collar bone and exited without much damage. Felt like I got kicked by a mule when the van hit me though.”
“I am sorry I could not be there to protect you...” Goliath began.
Stepping forward, Elisa put a hand on his breastbone and shook her head, “But you couldn't. She broke your wing, drugged you and left you for dead.”
“I should have done something.” he retorted with a low growl of frustration.
“Be realistic, Goliath. What could you have done? You had no idea where I was being taken.” she paused, locking eyes with him as she gently rubbed the taught velvety flesh between his pectoral muscles with her thumb. “You didn't even know if I was still alive. I don't blame you.”
Her words did not seem to reach through his growing agitation. There was something off, she realized. It was almost as if he was somehow off balance. Could Fox be right? Had he truly gone mad? The idea gave her pause for only a moment. She knew just how dangerous he could be to his enemies. He could never hurt her, he would die first, that much she knew for certain.
Goliath stepped back from her so quickly that she stumbled. His expression changing as suspicion etched into his face once more. He rose up over her to his full nine feet of height. For the first time since they had met, there was a true touch of fear on Elisa's face.
“You are not Elisa....,” Goliath's voice was deathly quiet as he glared down at her. Something in her demeanor, the way she stood or the tone of her voice had fractured his trust of the shade before him. Perhaps it had been the growing fear in her eyes as his face had twisted with suspicion and rage. He could not put his talon on what exactly it had been, but he now knew this was merely another shade sent to torment him. She had felt so real against his flesh, her scent, the sound of her voice. He could not shake the sensation of holding her in his arms, but it had not been real. His Elisa would never fear him. It was clear to him now that he was sinking deeper into madness. There was no other explanation.
“Goliath, it's me! I'm not a figment of your imagination. I'm here....,” Elisa reached for him desperately. She fought down her own growing anxiety, the memories of what had been done to her nearly swamping her rational mind. If she made physical contact once more, she thought that it might break through his denial. It might sooth her own fears as well.
“Nooo.... You are not real! You are a shade sent to drive me mad!” Goliath cried and stepped farther away from her clutching his head as if it were bent on exploding.
“Goliath, stop this! Listen to my voice. Do I sound like a ghost?” Elisa's shout was more a plea. She needed time to reach him, but that was the one thing she was running out of. He was about to leap over the crenelated wall. By the way his left wing quivered, she did not think it would keep him aloft.
Owen watched the pair from the window of the alchemy tower. The Puck within was very still for once. It was not a good sign. This pair, this all important pair, had been broken by the world they were meant to help mend. He frowned down at the awkwardness in their reunion. The sudden change in Goliath shocked even him. Things were not as they should be. He scented mortal magic on the air. Oberon might well bind him to the human facade he now wore once more for what he was about to do, but it must be done. The spell being cast must be disrupted. There was no other option.
The trickster knew there was another gargoyle/human pairing, but they had not been chosen to produce Dracona's vessel. Goliath and Elisa had been and he understood exactly why. Goliath had such a wonderful physique and mind, while the detective reflected all the best qualities of humanity. She might now be more Fae than human, but that did not change the facts. Elisa would pass her gentleness and understanding down to her child. It would be that factor that created the Redeemer.
Slapping a hand down on the window sill, Owen turned back toward the guardian. Even though he had managed to recreate the conditions that had sustained her, it was not the crystal that now supported and protected her. His own magic swirled around the frail, yet beautiful creature. When he had taken on this task, he had not realized it would be such a drain on his resources. His magic was not as omnipotent as Oberon's or Titania's. It was finite, potentially fleeting if he did not manage it properly. He knew for a certainty that maintaining a goddess too long might very well burn him out.
Goliath and Elisa must be whole to fulfill their role in the prophecy, he thought in frustration. At that moment in time, they were anything but. As a matter of fact, he was fairly certain that Goliath's shattered mind might well destroy the fragile union they had achieved. The Puck could not allow that to happen. He would not.
Sampling the threads of magic that swirled invisibly around the gargoyle, he traced it back to its origin. Demona, he all but snarled to himself. Somehow, it did not surprise him that she was behind the destructive path Goliath was currently on. He suspected now that she might well have been casting her spell on him the entire time Elisa had been missing. If he shattered her spell, he wondered if Goliath's mind would revert to its previous state. Had there been permanent damage done? He did not know, but he prayed to whatever deity might be listening that the gargoyle's mind might mend the moment he was released from the spell.
The instant Puck might have been released from his confinement, he ran out of time. Elisa's frantic cry echoed through the night and drew his attention back to the oddly matched pair. He gasped when Goliath threw himself into the night currents and away from his lady love. The giant gargoyle floundered and fell when his wing virtually collapsed. Elisa grabbed for him. It might have been better if she had missed....
Goliath's mind teeters on the brink of madness. Elisa's iron will is the only thing holding her emotions together. Both are nearly broken by recent events. The Winds of Change are picking up speed....
All the characters appearing in Gargoyles and Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles are copyright Buena Vista Television/The Walt Disney Company. No infringement of these copyrights is intended, and is not authorized by the copyright holder. All original characters are the property of Rosebud1773.
Winds of Change: Season Two
Elisa had caught Goliath's wrist in both hands and tried with all her physical strength to haul him back up. It had proven too much. He outweighed her by several hundred pounds. The gargoyle's weight dragged her over the crenelated wall after him. She was in free fall an instant later. The realization hit her in those moments that Goliath was not going to catch her this time. He could not even save himself. His wing did not seem ready for gliding. They were both going to die this night.
As the wind rushed passed her ears, Elisa reached for the green flames that licked at the edges of her awareness again and again. They danced away like smoke each time. She knew the magic buried at her core might be the only means she had of saving them both. There was no one else. The clan was out on patrol. Xanatos and his latest battle armor were nowhere to be found.
Tears of frustration stung her eyes as they dropped....one hundred feet, two hundred. It seemed hopeless. Goliath's eyes locked on hers in a moment of utter sorrow and recognition as he tried once more to gain control of his wing. It sent them into a sickening spin that only resulted in her gripping his wrist all the harder.
Another fifty feet passed before Elisa finally surrendered. She surrendered to her fate and to the flames that licked fiercely at her awareness. It was in that moment of surrender that she found the key.
Owen gripped the window sill in white-knuckled hands hard enough to crack the wood as the pair fell off the building. He was unable to truly whip the Puck out of the bag do to the strain on his resources. It was taking nearly everything he had to maintain the guardian and attempt to shatter Demona's spell. The reality began to sink in that his hands were virtually tied. He might as well have still been bound to his human guise. There was nothing he could do and he found he did not overly care for feeling powerless.
Watching them drop a couple of hundred feet, he came to the inexorable conclusion that they were both going to die. The guardian would fade back to the netherworld, never to fulfill her destiny, and the world as he knew it would be destroy in less than one hundred years. If only, he thought and viciously willed it to be so, if only Maza would tap that damn reservoir of power hiding within her. Did the woman not understand that she could not use force to access it? Did she not realize that she must surrender herself to power before she could manipulate power? Perhaps not, he berated himself. Such things came so naturally to those born to power, but to a mortal he thought it must feel like dying. That was what had nearly cost Maza her life when he had forced her to burn off her decaying human essence. She had been so afraid of the flames, afraid that she would burn to death, that she had shied away from them until it was nearly too late. He had been forced to push her into it or she would have died from the rot. Now, he did not even have that luxury. His powers were tapped out, tied to the guardian, as was his duty.
Goliath's sharp intake of breath snapped Owen's attention back from his seconds-long introspection. His eyes widened as he leaned out the window for a better view. A smile befitting the Puck curled his lips as the miraculous sight met his eyes. Maza had done it. At long last, she had willingly tapped the magic. The Puck within him zinged about his human cage in delight as a panther's snarl escaped Maza's throat.
Elisa surrendered and the flames consumed her completely. She screamed, but it was not her human voice that issued sound. The instant she had surrendered her will to the flames of magic, an image had flickered into her mind. It was the only thing she that might save them both. Barely a heartbeat after the image had solidified, her body began to change around her. They dropped perhaps ten more feet before majestic caramel wings snapped open to fill with an updraft. She snarled involuntarily as she took Goliath's incredible weight. Thrusting her wings upward, she nearly collided with him and wrapped her legs and tail around his waist for better purchase. God, he's heavy, she thought as she strained to maintain not only her hold on him, but to recapture the current of warm air that gusted around them.
“Level off, my love. Shift your right wing upward. Allow us to drift closer to the building so that I might grab hold of the wall.” Goliath said with a calm he did not currently feel. He knew she could not maintain her hold on him for long. Elisa's skill in gliding was no more than that of a hatchling. He did not wish to startle her. She might well lose the tenuous hold on the air current she had snagged as well.
Elisa followed his advise and veered slightly to her right. She came dangerously close to crashing into the building before Goliath reached out and snagged a handhold. As he did, he wrapped his free arm around her waste, ensuring that she did not sail off into the night without him. She was snapped close to his side as he grounded them.
Tucking her wings, Elisa wrapped her arms around his neck as she had the first night she had met him. She allowed him to carry her back up to the castle, her heart in her throat. This time, the fear was not from the potential fall at her back. She had wings, she would not hit the ground below. No, she could not put her finger on exactly what had triggered the lingering fear at this point. Instead of trying, she merely held onto him.
A gargoyle! Maza transformed into a gargoyle, Demona raged silently. She was not worthy of such a gift. How had this travesty happened? Who was responsible and how could she make them pay? She froze in the shadows and seethed as she realized the woman had done it to herself. She was part Fae, after all. Someone must be teaching her to control her magic. That was the only explanation she could think of. Puck, she snarled when she realized there was only one who could be teaching the woman. Her eyes flared red and she glared at the pair as Goliath pulled them up the side of the building. She might not be able to end Puck, but she could bind him. Goliath, on the other hand... Well, she had taken the skies from him. She would have taken his sanity if that meddlesome trickster had not interfered with her spell.
Pressing herself close against the castle wall, Demona began working out a plan. She could not just walk into the castle in broad daylight and begin smashing the clan. Security would recognize her and stop her. She would likely be arrested or imprisoned somewhere within. No, she needed to take out Maza. For good this time. Spiriting her away and caging her had not worked. The woman had to die. It would take time, but she would come up with a way to make that happen.
Once they were back in the courtyard, Goliath looked Elisa over critically. He had seen this form before when Puck had transformed her. Beautiful, was the only word that came to his mind as he gazed at her. His heart soared to see her in this form once more. He wondered how long she might remain this way. Had Puck transformed her again? He noticed the faintest green ring of sparkling energy around the dark pools of her iris. No, Puck had not done this, he realized, Elisa had done it to herself in desperation. A sense of pride washed over him with that thought. It seemed his beloved had conquered some small portion of her magic, something he had hoped she might do months ago.
Gazing down at her, he hesitantly ran a talon through her silky black hair and smiled. Something else had come with her transformation, something he had thought forever fading from his grasp; his sanity. It had snapped back into place almost painfully when Elisa had nearly wrenched his spine in two with her legs. He did not know if she had broken some spell that held him or not, nor did he care. The only thing he was certain of was that he was himself once more. Granted, there were some faintly lingering doubts, perhaps some damage, but for the most part, his mind was whole once more. His wing was another story. It was whole and sound, but not yet strong enough for solo gliding. He would need assistance to maintain aerial balance as he strengthened it.
Elisa closed her eyes, afraid to look him in the face, as his talon slipped through her hair. She feared what she might see there. The lack of recognition had cut her to the bone. Her heart still wept from that blow. She had thought all would be fine if only she came to him, if he saw her, touched her, but it had not. He had seemed alright at first, but then he had begun to question the reality of her presence. She feared he might flip that switch again. Could she handle it if he did? She did not think so.
“Human or gargoyle, you are beautiful beyond words, my Elisa. How long will this last? Can you maintain this form for a time?” Goliath lifted her chin and encouraged her to look him in the eyes as he smiled down at her.
Elisa did so cautiously. What she saw in his eyes was the love and friendship they had built together over the last few years. There was trust and loyalty there as well. The noble being she had fallen in love with seemed intact, whole once more. She let out a quiet sigh of relief and said a silent prayer of thanks. Whatever it was that had gripped his mind so fiercely seemed to have released him, at least for the moment.
“Honestly, I don't know how to change back. I think I'm stuck like this for awhile,” Elisa said softly as she spread her hands helplessly.
“Good,” he rumbled an instant before he bent and captured her lips.
Elisa fought down the urge to shy away. After what Jackal had done, she was not sure she could handle being so close to anyone again so soon. It did not completely melt away at the touch of Goliath's lips against hers, but it did subside. She rested her hands on his chest and felt the triplicate beat of his heart against her palms. That odd heartbeat was acting as a grounding point for her. It kept her rooted in the here and now. Her own heart, currently that of a gargoyle, echoed that beat fiercely. The familiar fires of passion began to burn through her veins slowly. She had feared she might never feel that again after her attack. In a way, she thought it might be too soon. She was dangerously close to breaking away from Goliath. If she did, it would devastate him. It might even toss his mind back into the loop of insanity he had spiraling into. So she stayed and endured.
A gasp escaped her as Goliath's tail suddenly entwined around her own. That was new and well beyond anything she had experienced in her human form. He had moved close enough that his hands gently caressed the closest membranes of her wings. The sensations were exquisite, she could not ignore his touch. Her body was giving in. The resistance she felt was melting away with each stroke. With that resistance the images of Jackal and his assault were losing some of their hold on her. This was where she belonged and with whom she belonged.
Deepening their kiss, she ran her hands up into his hair. Her body pressed firmly against his in the heat of the moment. There was nothing she wanted more than to be as close to him as physically possible. She felt his very presence might wash away the wounds inflicted on her soul by that foul cyborg. She hoped to obliterate the memories with new ones. Memories of love and passion with the male she intended to spend a lifetime with would at least be something she could use as a focus to center herself. It's time to make those memories, she thought breathlessly.
Puck had a front row seat to some serious gargoyle smut. He cringed when he realized they had no intention of stopping. As a matter of fact, they had no intention of remaining decent. His eyes were glued to them, his morbid curiosity refusing to release him. There were bits of Goliath that he hoped never to see, but if their current actions continued, he feared might forever be scarred by the sight.
It was then that he noticed the odd scent in the air; a scent of pheromones and something else. He 'tasted' the air more deeply and his eyes widened. Glancing back at the sleeping guardian, he smiled once more. It was time. The pair in the courtyard below might very well conceive the vessel this night. His smile faded for a half a heartbeat as his thoughts whirled at the speed of light. Maza was in gargoyle form. Dracona's vessel was meant to be a hybrid. As he sampled the flow of energy around the detective, he realized that on the most fundamental level, she was still what she had always been; a hybrid of sorts herself. If she conceived the vessel now, it would not matter. The child would still be a hybrid; Gargoyle and Fae with a splash of human DNA. Maza might need to remain in gargoyle form for a couple of weeks; however. At least until the shell of the egg began to form. That shouldn't be a problem, he thought cheerfully. After all, she still has to learn the Revert spell. Without that spell, she was not returning to her human form again any time soon.
"Are you certain you wish to do this now?" Goliath asked as he drew back from her. His voice was rough from passion. He could not believe that only a short time ago, he had been almost hopelessly lost in madness. Now he was hopelessly lost in the arms of his lover.
Elisa did not answer in words, instead, she tore his belt loose with a strength born of the magic hidden within her. Her eyes blazed with green light as she took a bit more care in tugging his loincloth free. A moment later, she hauled what was left of her destroyed top off and pressed her body against his.
All coherent thought left him as he reached behind her and hooked a talon into the back of her bra. It refused to release and with a faint growl and a flick of his wrist, the back of the garment was reduced to a few scant shreds. The fabric slid from her body in a single fluid motion as she wrapped her arms around him. He carefully helped her rid herself of her shredded jeans in the next moment. Part of him worried that she was not ready for this act, that her body was not healed enough or that she had not yet recovered enough from her ordeal of the last months. He did not have the details of that ordeal, but he suspected it had been nightmarish. She pushed him onward relentlessly even as he noticed that there was no trace of her current gunshot wound. Only the old scar marred her skin.
Elisa realized she needed him more now than she ever had. She needed to feel the life they shared, the life they hoped to build together. The only way she knew how to fill the dark whole that Jackal had create in her soul was through the most intimate contact with Goliath that was possible. They were so close now, she could almost hear his thoughts. She thought that if she pushed the barrier between them just right, at the right moment, then she might break through it to truly touch his mind, perhaps even his soul. Avalon's magic... My magic, she corrected herself, brushed against the barrier that shielded his mind from hers. It was almost like an extra sense of touch, a mental sense that she was only just beginning to understand. She hesitated. It did not seem right to push forward, to break that final barrier without his consent. Instead, she contented herself with gently caressing it, allowing that mental touch to enhance the physical sensations between them.
Goliath pulled her up toward the wall with him, a singular determination evident in his eyes as he rumbled, "Come....I do not wish to waste this..."
Elisa did not resist him even as he pulled her up onto the wall with him. He wrapped his arms around her and dropped them both over the edge and into the night. The moment their bodies joined as one, he snapped his wings open to catch the wind. His left wing protested and he forced it to maintain its position. At his nod, she opened her wings as well and the sensations of their joining doubled as the tiny nubs she had noticed during their first encounter suddenly anchored him to her. Her cry of pleasure was edged with faint tendrils of pain as the barbs encircling his organ hooked into her.
"This.....is how....it is meant to be...., my Elisa," Goliath gasped the words out in a deep growling rumble as his body responded to his mate in a way that it never could before. Her gargoyle form was liberating.
He took them high above the castle before he drew his wings forward and around her, allowing the air current to escape the membranes. In an instant they were in free-fall as ecstasy built between them. The fall lasted for several long minutes before he pulled his wings away from her once more. They fell between the skyscrapers and narrowly missed hitting the street below before his wings caught a strong enough current of air to lift them high above the rooftops once more.
Elisa's head was spinning even as Goliath spun them through a multitude of air currents before catching one that would level them off. It was like having sex on a roller-coaster or more accurately, having sex while skydiving from the top of a racing roller-coaster. She did not know how many times they both reached release nor did she care. The only thing she knew for sure was that she never wanted this night to end. It had begun with such suspicion, grief and uncertainty. Now it was one of the most exhilarating nights of her life.
Goliath roared out one final release as they dove once more toward the ground. His wings shook with exertion as he struggled to fling them open before they met the Earth below. To his chagrin, it was Elisa's wings that caught them as one particularly tall treetop in Central Park whacked him across the flank. He yelped even as she shifted and gripped him with her legs and tail so that she might caught the updraft he had missed.
Giggling when he yelped at the loud crack, Elisa shifted her wings and weight enough to roll them. She had been watching how Goliath's wings seemed to play with the wind and thought she had a good understanding of the dynamics. It was not an easy action given his weight and her beginner's skill, but she managed it. The change in balance allowed him to spread his shaking wings and catch the current that had eluded him. He finished their roll realizing that his left wing was stronger than he had previous thought.
The thought struck Goliath like a bolt of lightning as he gazed at his smaller mate, she would never be able to carry the both of them back up to the Eyrie building. Larger, stronger and built for combat maneuverability, he was the most experienced with wings of the two of them. He would need to carry himself, at least, back to the Eyrie. She might need guidance and coaching along the way. Their mating flight was instinct driven, her wings would have had a mind of their own while she had been preoccupied with pursuits of pleasure.
"By the dragon......," Goliath half sighed, half growled as he brought them down near a waterfall in Central Park. His eyes were glued to her in awe.
"What?" she asked as they touched down still in a tangled embrace.
"I never imagined it could be quite like that," he purred as he nuzzled her neck and wrapped his wings around her smaller form.
"....but...you and.....," Elisa began and was interrupted by a large talon tenderly pressing to her lips.
"Never....never like this, my love. Nothing I have experienced prior to this night can hold a candle to what has just passed between us. You never cease to amaze me, my Elisa." there was a mixture of love and awe in his voice when he spoke so tenderly to her.
They lingered near the water for a time, recovering from their exertion before they realized it was time to return to the safety of the Eyrie and the castle high above. Dawn was nearing and neither of them wanted to be at ground level for that. They did not know if Elisa would return to her human form before the sun rose or not. Neither wanted to take the chance that they might both be frozen in stone sleep and vulnerable within the park.
Demona had taken to the air before the pair had seen her. In her haste, she had hoped to avoid the sight that assaulted her senses now. She knew without a doubt that Goliath was mated to his human whore the moment they glided into her line of sight. No matter what form she took, the detective would always be a filthy human in Demona's eyes.
"Maza" Demona snarled as she saw the couple locked together in the air. Goliath's form was unmistakable. She watched in growing disgust as they performed a series of aerial acrobatics. It was clear by the lack of clothing and the howls that they were partaking in a mating flight. They must have begun groping each other as soon as she had pushed off from the side of the castle. The very thought of Goliath sharing himself with the 'human' disgusted her beyond words.
Seething, Demona watched the pair touch down in a clearing in the heart of Central Park. There must be a way to put an end to this pairing, she thought savagely. One or the other of them always seemed to interfere with her plans. Together, they had proven impossible to circumvent.
After a moments hesitation, the female glided to the treetops just before the clearing and worked her way to the ground. She had to get a closer look at Maza's current form. It was the only way she could be sure of recognizing her if the detective should happen to partake in stone sleep. Demona thought she might follow them to their daytime perch if they did not make it back to the castle before sunrise. She would have the perfect opportunity to shatter Maza, at least. The thought curled her lips in a truly demented smile.
As she made her way to the edge of the clearing. Maza's voice grated on her nerves all the more. She watched the pair all the while attempting to keep her eyes from bursting into flaming red light in her anger. They fit far too well together for her liking. Even Maza's coloring seemed to complement Goliath's in a way that her own never had.
Catching a glimpse of Goliath's face from the shadows, the last of Demona's heart withered and died. The tiny spark she had called love, carried for him all through the centuries, ignited in blinding rage. He was happy, truly happy in a way she had never seen him before. The anger coiled around her soul, burning white-hot as she watched them caress each other lovingly. She realized that she had truly lost him for all time. In her pursuits of knowledge, magic and revenge, she had never given enough of herself to experience what the two in the clearing had together. If she had, perhaps things might have been different between Goliath and herself. She knew he had tried to give his all to her once. It saddened her even through the burning anger that he had found happiness with another. He had withdrawn his mating pledge from her more than a year ago, after all. It was only fitting that he move on. But why, she questioned the heavens vehemently, did it have to be with a human?
She watched as they recovered enough to make their way into the night skies. Sadness and rage devoured her heart as they chased each other playfully back toward the Eyrie. Once, she and Goliath had done that. Once, he had loved her. Once, she thought she had loved him. And once,....she had betrayed the clan.....
Demona rages against the sight of Goliath and Elisa together. Hudson, as clan elder, is considering a decision that will change the very dynamics of what it means to be clan. Elisa's magic has changed her into a gargoyle. How long can it last?
All the characters appearing in Gargoyles and Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles are copyright Buena Vista Television/The Walt Disney Company. No infringement of these copyrights is intended, and is not authorized by the copyright holder. All original characters are the property of Rosebud1773.
Winds of Change: Season Two
Hudson made his way back to the Eyrie, his good eye searching the skies for trouble as much as occasionally picking out the red sedan on the road below. An easy smile lit his face each time he caught a glimpse of it. Maria had opted to drive to the Eyrie. Her reasoning was sound. Little Nina was in the car with her. Neither of them had thought it a good idea to attempt to glide so far with a four year old shrieking into the night.
As he neared the Eyrie and the castle resting at its top, something seemed amiss to him. Xanatos and his mate stood in the courtyard staring up into the night sky above Goliath's tower. The lad's wife, he corrected himself. He often forgot the many different labels for mate humans seemed to use. As he glided toward the courtyard and touched down with a thump, he followed their line of sight. His previous smile returned briefly when he caught a flash of Goliath's nude form followed by that of a tan female. He knew that female for a certainty, but had never expected to see her take gargoyle form again. A satisfied rumble escaped his chest at the sight of sleek caramel wings. It did not matter to him what form she chose to love Goliath in so long as she loved him fiercely and well. It was another facet of the gargoyle way. He fervently hoped that their mating flight righted the lad's mind.
“If that's Goliath up there, then who's the female?” Fox was asking as Hudson came into earshot.
“I have my suspicions....,” Xanatos murmured.
“Are they naked?” Fox asked incredulously. She gasped, ducking her head and covering her eyes as Goliath came fully into view naked as the day he was hatched. “Oh god, they are. I never wanted to see that much of him....ever...”
Hudson's good eye leveled on the group of spectators with a disgusted snort. The old soldier glared at the humans who were gawking at his clan leader. The gargoyle among them spotted him and attempted to slink away. Hudson reached out and snatched his ear, dragging him back to the others.
“Aye, boy, I think not. Ye nu b'tter an' sh'ld be settin' an example.” Hudson barked, his Scottish brogue thickening in irritation.
Brooklyn had no choice, he followed the ear Hudson had snatched with a yelp. All the while trying desperately to retain some tiny shred of dignity. The elder stomped up to the humans and glared at them even as he dragged the clan's Second toward them.
“As for the rest o' ye, what do ye t'nk ye be doin'? Spyin' on a matin' flight! Away with ye! All o' ye sh'ld nu b'tter.” he shooed them, herding them toward one of the archways that lead to the rest of the castle. His eyes flickered faintly in mild anger.
“Who's the female?” Fox asked still seeming a little shocked by the unexpected view she had received.
“Who do ye th'nk it be, lass? That be Elisa up there claimin' her mate. Goliath be takin' no other for his mate and ye nu it,” Hudson grumbled at her in an uncustomary show of agitation as he held up a finger before them all. “Go now an' leave 'em be. I be havin' a word w'th ye lot later. Dunea go far.”
Brooklyn thought to escape Hudson's 'talking to' and turned tail to duck into the corridor with the rest. He knew the elder would have words with him first, especially about 'crowd control'. As Second, it was his responsibility to ensure the privacy of his clan leader's mating flight. He had failed to do so given the current circumstances. It had been a shock to see the pair return in the nude, but seeing Elisa in gargoyle form once more was the icing on the cake. He had not realized the timeline had been affected so dramatically with his injections into the past. Maybe, he thought, time is not as immutable as I thought. A spark of hope for the future ignited in his heart.
The foot on his tail tip incited a snarl of pain as he whirled around and came face to face with an angry Hudson. He shrugged sheepishly, trying to play the role of the younger gargoyle he had once been. It had no effect on the aging male before him. With a sigh, he stood his ground waiting for the lecture he knew was about to come.
“Ock, ye be actin' like a yearling. Ye nu Goliath won't be happy when he hears of this.” Hudson grumbled.
“Call it shock. It's not every day you see a human chase a gargoyle across the sky on the wing.” Brooklyn gave Hudson a cocky smile, the kind of smile he would have flashed in his youth. It must have worked as the elder began furiously stroking his beard.
“Round t'e ot'ers up an' meet me in t'e dining hall.” Hudson said after a moment. He stepped past Brooklyn and continued down the corridor, tail swaying gently behind him. Glancing back over his shoulder once, he added, “An' be quick ab'ut it.”
Brooklyn frowned in thought at the elder's back a moment later. He stroked his beak in thought. The tongue lashing was not as harsh as he had expected it to be. Hudson had a sharp tongue and no fear of using it when it was necessary. So why then, Brooklyn wondered, did he let me off so easy? It struck him as Hudson rounded the corner ahead and disappeared from sight. Time, events, he had changed a major event with Elisa's help. Hudson had survived his gunshot wound. His continued presence in the timeline had not seemed to have much effect until now. It seemed that his normally grumpy demeanor had changed somewhat. His actions now, were no doubt, creating a new chain of events. The question was, how might those events affect the future of the current timeline? He knew he needed to figure out its focal point and with that knowledge, he also realized that the Phoenix Gate might not be finished with him yet. That thought triggered a shiver of dread to crawl from the tip of his tail to the tips of his horns.
The brick red male hopped into step toward the chamber Xanatos had permitted him. He needed the device he had snatched from 2198. Lex's cool would turn to drool if he ever saw that gizmo, Brooklyn thought as he made his way down the corridor that lead to the private bedrooms. The faint thrill of anxiety he had felt when the Phoenix Gate came to mind spurred him onward and he made quick time to his room.
The room was small, but it suited his needs. He, Katana and Gnash owned very little so the need of storage space was limited. Brooklyn had felt it was a good idea, however, to keep his little piece of futuristic high tech safely tucked away behind lock and key. Now he went straight to the corner he had tucked it into. The Temporal Coordinates Tracker glowed with blue and red light light as he removed the loose stone in the floor above it. The device was no bigger than the Phoenix Gate and fit easily into his palm. Red was not good. Red meant an active anomaly might about to trigger a temporal paradox.
Touching the one red light on the tiny screen activated the holographic interface. It fanned out around him like a curved movie screen. The device began burping out information as it zeroed in on the anomalies in the timeline. He knew Hudson would pop and swiped the holo-display to locate the next one. The device beeped again and the holo-display began tracking four more anomalies. Four, he had expected one, but not four. He wondered just how much difference the new quartet that seemed somehow linked to Hudson might make to the timeline. The thought stalled when another image was displayed; Maria Chavez. He should have known. Hudson's big announcement later, the male meant to take her as his mate. That act, his presence, would alter her fate, had already altered it. How would that affect the clan? How might it affect the the city or even the world in general? He did not know and not knowing was not a luxury he could afford.
Goliath's image resolved itself next and the brick red male's heart stopped for an instant. He had not expected his leader's face to pop up on the gadget as an anomaly. After all, he was rooted in the timeline, big destiny and all. It worried him that there might be even the slightest hint of an anomaly attached to the male. When Elisa's face quickly followed, he really began to worry. This was not good. It could not be good. They had a destiny to fulfill. Their actions were critical to the fabric of time, at least according to the TCT and the readouts it was spewing. Whatever this glitch in the timestream was, it was big and he could not clarify the outcome. The device simply spat out errors when attempting to calculate 'historical' events past 2001. That date was a focal point and nothing shy of a true paradox could alter such a point.
The fourth anomaly was harder to track as if it was there and yet not there. He had worked with the TCT for twenty years now. In that time, he had never seen it bring up an anomaly it could not locate. Frowning at it, he tapped the red dot on the holo-display. Nothing, it continued to beep and glow, but yielded no image. Could it be an event about to unfold? He did not know, but he suspected it might be.
Elisa had proven insatiable as any normal gargoyle female might during their mating flight. Goliath was exhausted, his wings shook and refused to maintain the currents any longer. If not for her assistance, he might have become a bloody smear in the courtyard. She guided him to the flagstones, supporting his weaker wing. He was amazed at how well the wing had performed considering it had nearly thrown him to his death earlier. It must have been the thrill of the chase that had empowered it. He realized that plans for their mating ceremony must be made soon before Demona did something else to separate them. It was time to make it official in the eyes of both the clan and Elisa's family. Her mother might otherwise resume her matchmaking efforts. Perhaps, Demona will finally accept that we are finished if this mating is made before the clan as custom demands, he thought hopefully. He knew it was an empty hope. Demona might never truly release him.
As they came down toward the flagstones of the courtyard, Elisa allowed him to drop the last few feet. She was just as exhausted as he was. Her wings released the current of air she had been riding and she dropped like a stone. Goliath caught her and tucked her close, not caring if anyone saw their nakedness. He smiled a rare smile that showed off a stunning set of dimples, one reserved just for her and nuzzled his brow-ridges against hers. Tucking his wings around them both, he headed for one of the archways leading into the castle proper. They needed food and sunrise was not far off. He spared a moment to wonder if Elisa might return to her human form or join her clan in stone sleep with the rising of the sun. It was not something he had considered beyond a passing thought before. Now he had reason. Sunrise was not long off. Another thought struck him then. Would she be able to change between the two forms at will once she gained better control of her magic? He realized he did not know as he carried her into the castle. A part of him, the selfish part to be sure, hoped that she might choose to remain in her current form, at least for a time.
Maria stepped out of the elevator at the castle level with Nina in tow. The child was staring at everything in wide-eyed wonder. To date, she had met only Hudson. She had yet to see the rest of the clan. It would either be a shock that sent her slipping behind her mother over or a thrill. Maria expected her daughter to react to the others as if she had just stepped into a room full of puppies.
Guiding her daughter toward the main dining hall, she found herself gawking at her surroundings. She had never actually been to the castle section of the Eyrie. It had always been restricted and considered part of Xanatos' private residence. It would be far too easy to get lost in those twisting corridors. She would have to keep an eye on Nina lest the child disappear on her.
Following the map Hudson had scribbled on a scrap of paper, she made her way to the main dining hall without incident. The room was big and dimly lit. There were deep shadows in the vaulted ceiling above, deeper still in the corners. The ancient chandelier's candles had been replaced with modern light bulbs. She assumed it must be attached to a dimmer switch somewhere. It stood to reason that the whole think, properly lit, might flood the cavernous room with light. Kept dim, it maintained the feel the room might have had in the middle ages.
Maria had not gone far into the room when her daughter squealed and tugged at her sleeve. The girl pointed at the large aquamarine gargoyle sitting at one of the tables destroying a whole roasted turkey. He looked up from his meal and smiled at them, juice running down his wide chin.
“Oh, hi,” he croaked past a mouthful of meat. “You want some?”
“Uh..no, thank you, Broadway,” Maria breathed as she held onto the child who was bouncing excitedly.
“And who's your friend?” Broadway asked as he smiled an even bigger smile at the small girl.
“I'm Nina. You look like Papa Hu'son, but dif'rnt.” the child announced excitedly.
“He be a gargoyle, lassie, like me,” Hudson chuckled as he came into the dining hall from a corridor on the other side.
“You his papa too?” Nina asked as she bounced toward the elder gargoyle.
“Ye might say that,” Hudson murmured as he hoisted the child up easily into the crook of his arm.
Broadway had stopped chewing his food and merely stared at the pair. He was still not used to the idea that his mentor, the only clan elder they had left, was his father. To him, it was just too weird. He did not know how he felt about it even now, almost a year after the discovery. To him, Hudson and all those elders now lost to time, had been fathers to him. Even though Goliath had been too young to be a father figure, he still looked up to him in much the same way. Goliath was more like a big brother, he supposed. He scratched his head in thought. If Hudson was his father, that meant he would be grandfather to any eggs he an Angela eventually clutched in the new rookery. Goliath would be as well since he was Angela's father. He shook his head and swallowed the mouthful of food. They would help raise and teach the hatchlings. That was the way it was supposed to be. Angel was not likely to follow tradition in her role, however. He knew she meant to play 'mom' as the humans did, as Katana did. Maybe that was not so bad either, but it scared him a little to think of being 'dad'. At least he had plenty of time to get used to the idea. They had not yet clutched their first egg. The mating season was still a few years off.
After another bite, Broadway looked back up at Hudson and the small human girl tugging the ends of his beard. “Why did she call you 'papa'?”
“She be callin' me papa because her mother be me mate, or will be soon en'gh.” Hudson's smile broadened as he met Broadway's eyes. He chuckled openly when the rotund gargoyle choked out the food he had been chewing on.
“Whoa...” was the only thing Broadway could come up with after recovering his composure.
Not long after, Brooklyn came strolling in with the others tailing him. Of Goliath and Elisa, there was no sign. Hudson had not expected them to make an appearance, but had hoped that they would. His plans concerned them as well. The two human/gargoyle pairings were unprecedented. There were no proper traditions to cover such a thing. He knew from his time with his own elders, however, that such things had happened in the past. They were never recognized by their clans as legitimate matings, however. He planned to change that, but it meant breaking with certain more restrictive traditions. In light of their modern life, he thought that perhaps some changes were not so bad. It was, after all, the gargoyle way to love fiercely and well. That was precisely what he planned to do with Maria. It was clearly what Goliath was already doing with Elisa. So he began his announcement to those present.
Goliath stopped just outside the doorway to the dining hall when he heard Hudson's voice. The others were there as well, including Xanatos and Fox. He glanced down at himself and was satisfied that everything was properly covered. Glancing at Elisa, he nodded. He had grabbed a thin wool blanket from their chambers and wrapped it around himself as the Scots of his time had done during peace time. Elisa had managed to find a halter top and a pair of sweats she had slit for her tail. The clothing she had been wearing during her transformation was ruined. His loincloth and belt were somewhere between the castle and Central Park. He did not relish the idea of searching for them.
As they entered the dining hall, Hudson ceased what he had been about to say. His eye ridges raised as he took in Goliath's current state of dress. He then looked back to the rest of his small assembly with a nod. The look on his face told Goliath that whatever the male was about to say was of great importance to them all.
“Ock, ye all look as tho' ye be comin' to a wind ceremony.” Hudson grumbled as he draped his arm over Maria's shoulders.
“Food, we came for food. We're starving,” Elisa spoke up as she caped her wings around herself uncomfortably.
Hudson eyed her with approval before turning his good eye on Goliath. They both squirmed under his scrutiny and he chuckled slightly. “tis a fine spectacle the two o' ye made this night, no doubt ab'ut it.”
“Yes.....we, uh...,” Goliath stammered, spreading his hands.
“tis of no concern now, lad. I be makin' a decision as clan elder that affects the two o' ye as well,” Hudson smiled at them and then abruptly sobered. It was an unnerving sight.
“And that is?” Goliath asked cautiously.
“We nu 'tis the gargoyle way to love fiercely and well. We ne'er nu from where tha' love be comin'. This ol' gargoyle ne'er expected to find love with a human an' that's a fact.” Hudson said as he gently rubbed one large hand up and down the length of Maria's upper arm.
“What are you saying, Hudson? Are you considering taking Captain Chavez as your mate?” Goliath asked, a thoughtful expression creasing his face as the pieces suddenly tumbled into place.
“Aye, lad, I am. She be clan, same as Elisa. 'tis me right to pledge to an unclaimed clan-mate,” Hudson stated even as he thought of 'Joy'. She would not have faulted him for finding love again. In fact, she might have danced at the thought of him finally taking another mate. He had spent decades alone after her death at the hands of human marauders. Decades in gargoyle terms...
“What of tradition? I had thought you might be the one to argue the legitimacy of a human/gargoyle pairing.......,” Goliath said quietly all the while he wanted to shout out from the very top of the Eyrie that he and Elisa might soon be one in the eyes of her family as well as all the gargoyle clans of the world if his mentor made good on his suggestion.
“Ock, traditions be damned, boy. 'tis love that fuels t'e soul. It nary matters where it comes from. Human, gargoyle..... 'tis me experience tha' we all be t'e same in heart and soul.” Hudson rumbled loud enough that there could be no doubt of his intentions or his opinion. “You an' Elisa make a fine couple. 'twill be me honor to officiate yer mating no matter what form the lassie takes.”
The smile that split Goliath's face at those words was a rarity in and of itself. The fact that he so openly showed it was both startling and striking. Brooklyn had to remind himself to close his beak at both the sight of Goliath and Hudson's words. This was the event, at least part of it. He thought it might be just the beginning of the chain the TCT was going on about. The elder's death had left a gaping hole in the clan. It had also left Goliath defending his decision to forsake custom and marry Elisa for years afterward. The Gargoyle Nation would eventually question their union and attempt to force them apart. Their claim was that Goliath needed to produce healthy offspring with an eligible female of his own species.
The revelation hit Brooklyn like a bolt of lightning. He knew from his hops through time that the huge clan leader would argue for years that he had already produced a daughter with Demona. His bloodline would continue with Angela, therefore, he felt no need to produce more offspring. Since his current mate was human, he viewed the whole idea as a moot point. He would argue that producing offspring with her was an impossibility. The Gargoyle Nation leaders would argue that he could not possibly be mated to a human in an official capacity. The Manhattan Clan had no elders to verify such a pledge. Blah, blah, blah, Brooklyn thought.
Currently the Gargoyle Nation was little more than a pipe-dream between the clans. He could count on one hand the clans across the globe who were even part of it to date. The clans of Ishimura, Cairo and London were being assisted by their respective human governments. The Gargoyles Minority Protection Act was not yet even considered a bill. It was nothing more than an idea scribbled on a scrap of paper somewhere in Great Britain. It had yet to be brought before the United Nations. Most of the world still believed gargoyles were creatures of myth and legend. Those who knew better feared or hated them. They were still a good many years away from being declared a people.
Goliath glanced toward the archway leading to the parapets. The familiar tingling in his belly signaling the coming of dawn. A contented rumble escaped his chest as he said, “We will discuss this further tonight. It's nearly dawn and I, for one, could use the rest.”
Taking Elisa's hand, he guided her toward his tower. There was still the question of her form. Would she join the clan in stone slumber or would she revert to her human form? Another idea formed and he skipped a step in his steady trail. Might she remain in gargoyle form through day and remain flesh as well? The idea brought another smile to his face. The reality was that he would love and accept her no matter what her form.
Elisa followed him wondering at the odd tingling that rolled across her belly. She had asked him once what it was like to be frozen in stone. He had mentioned the forewarning of dawn that came only moments before the sun. Was that what she felt now? Would she turn to stone with the others when the sun touched her flesh? She did not know and it worried her. What if she turn to stone and did not awaken with the others at nightfall? She was inherently human, after all, and humans did not sleep as lawn ornaments. Her anxiety climbed with each step. The tingling grew the closer she came to stepping outside. She knew stone sleep would take her whether she was outside or not. The whole of her being was shying away from the very idea. It felt too much like confinement and she had had enough of that to last a lifetime.
The sky was bright when they stepped out into the open at the top of Goliath's tower. Brighter than she thought it should be for predawn. Her eyes were watering from it as if they were attuned strictly to nocturnal navigation. She supposed that maybe they were since she was still in gargoyle form. It was all a bit unnerving.
Goliath must have noticed her hesitation or felt her fear because he turned to face her before taking his place. He opened his arms to her invitingly and smiled. With only a heartbeat of hesitation she stepped into those waiting arms. He lifted her up and held her close as if he meant to glide with her. The smile he gave her was striking.
“Will it hurt?” Elisa was almost breathless as the tingling had begun to feel like an electric charge racing across her skin.
“No...,” Goliath purred. He knew the signs of encroaching sleep. Elisa's flesh had begun to warm with the brightening sky. She seemed agitated, glancing around nervously. This was how hatchlings reacted to their first stone sleep outside of the rookery. “Sleep, my love. We will awaken together.”
No sooner than the words had left his lips than a curious crawling sensation began racing up Elisa's legs. Her eyes widened as she saw her feet turning to stone. It took only an instant and sleep overtook her.
Warning: This chapter contains cuteness. Not responsible for any sweetness related comas that may result. =P
All the characters appearing in Gargoyles and Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles are copyright Buena Vista Television/The Walt Disney Company. No infringement of these copyrights is intended, and is not authorized by the copyright holder. All original characters are the property of Rosebud1773.
Warning: This chapter contains cuteness. Not responsible for any sweetness related comas that may result. =P
Winds of Change: Season Two
Elisa's eyes widened in growing alarm as she realized stone skin was rapidly crawling up her legs. For every inch the sun touched two more petrified. She locked eyes with Goliath and was met with a calm nod.
“Goliath......,” her voice was barely more than a whisper.
“Sleep, my love. We will awaken together.” he said quietly, for her ears alone just before they were both frozen in stone sleep.
Owen, the Puck within bouncing around like a madman, dropped Goliath's loincloth and belt the moment the pair turned to stone. The items had been carelessly discarded in the outer edge of the courtyard. Now he stepped forward and put a hand solidly on one of Maza's feet. It was as much to ensure that his eyes were not playing tricks as to prove to himself that she was actually there. His hand met with solid stone. There could be no doubt of what he had witnessed.
It was a staggering thought, to be sure. The idea that the woman had tapped into enough raw power on her own to alter herself so completely. He knew her DNA must reflect her current form in some way. There was no other way for her to have assumed stone sleep with the rest of the clan. That was something only the strongest of Fae were capable of. He, of course, was one of those elite. Demona was his prized project in the modern age with the ability to shift between human and gargoyle. None but he had been up to that particular challenge.
“Owen, mind telling me what's going on?” Xanatos asked as he stepped up behind his majordomo. His eyes widened and he stepped around the man to get a better look at the pair on Goliath's perch. “I'm sure there's a good explanation for this...”
Owen nodded as the billionaire waved a hand at the pair of gargoyles before them. “There is, but your guess is as good as mine as to what that might be, sir.”
“Wonderful. Can we expect this sort of thing to happen regularly then?” Xanatos asked with just a hint of irritation in his tone.
“Unknown. I had not expected it to happen this morning. To my knowledge, Ms. Maza should have reverted to her human form once the sun came up.” Owen stated, fully aware of the lie he was giving his boss.
“Clearly that wasn't the case,” Xanatos grumbled as he gauged how close they were to the edge.
“Clearly...” Owen agreed quietly. If only you knew, my boy. If only you knew, the Puck within snarked silently.
“Are they secure? You're sure he won't topple over in the wind with the extra bulk? I wouldn't want them smashed at the base of the Eyrie, after all.” Xanatos said trying not to sound overly concerned with their well being. If anyone discovered that he actually did care what happened to any of the clan, it might be used against him.
“Yes, sir, I believe they are secure. In most cases, when a gargoyle is encased for the day, they are bound to their perch. Call it; contact adhesive if you will. Goliath's feet are effectively cemented to the stone he stands upon. That's why it was so difficult to move the clan to the shipping crates.” Owen smiled at his employer.
“And you waited five years to tell me this?” Xanatos' irritation hit a higher range in that instant. What else, he wondered, are you keeping from me about our permanent guests? He frowned at the trickster in human guise, but said nothing else.
“I didn't see the need to mention it until now. You've never expressed concerns for their perch security before.” Owen sniped.
“In the future, Owen, you will disclose this sort of information.....promptly.” Xanatos grumbled and seemed to memorize the image of Goliath and Elisa locked in a stone embrace. A moment later, he turned on his heel and headed back toward the archway.
“Mr. Xanatos,” Owen called and the taller man stopped to look back. “It seems Demona was casting a hallucination spell on Goliath in an effort to drive him mad.”
“I assume our hyper 'friend' took care of that spell?” the other said over his shoulder.
“Yes, sir, but she may try again.” Owen began and snapped his jaw shut at the withering look his employer gave him.
“She always tries again, Owen. It's her nature, but you may be right. I think it's time to contact Macbeth, don't you? Ultimately she's his problem,” and with that, Xanatos disappeared into the building.
Macbeth, Owen thought in a perturbed tone. Now there was a destructive individual. The last time he had been contracted by Xanatos Enterprises for anything, he had nearly destroyed half the castle courtyard. No, he did not think he would be contacting that immortal unless it became absolutely necessary. Demona was bad enough on her own. The situation was far too delicate for the kind of trouble Macbeth would bring to the table.
As the sun sank below the horizon, Elisa became aware of two things; she was ravenously hungry and her joints were stiff as old stone. Then she remembered. She had turned to stone when the sun came up. Stone!
Frantically, she realized she was still trapped in that stone encasement. Struggling against that barrier, she flexed her limbs in an effort to break free. A scream that sounded more the snarl of a panther escaped her as the stone exploded away from her body. In her struggles to free herself, she kicked off from Goliath's chest. As he staggered back, she sailed out over the edge of his tower, completely forgetting her wings.
Her snarl became a cry of fear as she fell. Why do I keep falling off this damn building? She all but screamed at herself. One would think she might learn to stay away from the edge sooner or later. Goliath had guided her to his perch and taken her into his arms before stone sleep had frozen them both. It had seemed the safest place she could be at the time.
Now, Elisa twisted around and snapped her wings open. She caught a glimpse of Goliath diving after her, but she was determined to save herself this time. As much as she love him and loved the feel of his arms around her, she wanted to learn how to use the wings that had sprouted from her back. She needed to do this. Those wings might come in handy, they already had once, but she needed to be able to control them better. The magic eluded her, it was a wispy thing, but the wings were solidly attached and she could feel the muscles that drove them.
Goliath staggered as the wildcat in his arms nearly slashed his chest open. In her frantic need to be free of her stone skin, she had kicked him viciously. The talons of her right foot had caught in and virtually destroyed the wool blanket he had wrapped about himself. It fell free, exposing all of him to the night.
Coughing, he rubbed a hand over the still throbbing center of his chest. He noticed three faint scratches there from her talons. An instant later, he dove after her. She had yet to grow accustom to her wings. He thought she might flounder and fall in her efforts to glide. To his great surprise, she was gliding up to meet him. Perhaps the previous night's aerial acrobatics and their mating flight had been more constructive than he had suspected.
Elisa gained control of the updraft quicker than she expected. The chase to Central Park and back the night before had proven very educational. As she glided up toward Goliath, she could not resist the mischievous spark that ignited in her heart. She reached out as she passed him and pinched the exposed cheek near his tail base hard enough to make him yelp. He jumped as if he had been hit with a tazer and she laughed, gliding just out of his reach.
“So...., you wish to play games. Be careful you do not bite off more than you can chew.” Goliath drawled out with a wicked smile of his own.
Flapping her wings once to grab a persistent updraft, Elisa hovered and smiled back at him. When she spoke, her voice had a seductive quality about it. “I think I can handle anything you toss at me. Bring it on, Big Guy.”
A heartbeat later, she took off like a shot with a laugh at the look that passed over his face. With a half grow, half laugh of his own, Goliath launched himself after her. To him, it felt like mating season and the chase was on. He closed the space between them quickly. An instant before he reached out to snag her from the current of air she glided on, he thought better of it. Instead, he glided past her and wrapped his arms around her.
“David, they are going to see you!” Fox scolded her husband for gawking out the window of their private chambers.
“Would you believe they're at it again?” Xanatos asked as he changed his footing before the wall of windows that made up their exterior wall. He craned his neck to get a better view.
“Ugh,” Fox groaned. “I hope they're raw later. Maybe we'll have some peace and quite then.”
“I wouldn't count on that, my dear. Gargoyle skin is tough....” Xanatos mumbled.
“David Xanatos, if you don't come away from that window right now, I'll pack Xander up and take him to see my mother for the weekend!” Fox snapped as she stood behind him with her fists on her hips.
“You wouldn't dare.....,” Xanatos turned and glared at his wife with narrowed eyes.
“I will if you don't give Goliath and Elisa the privacy they deserve.” She grumbled up at him.
“Fine, there's nothing to see now anyway. They flew off toward Central Park again.” Xanatos sighed in irritation. Then a thought struck him and he tilted his wife's chin up enough to kiss her. He murmured against her lips, “You know I don't care for that nickname...”
“Too bad. Our baby prefers it.” she murmured right back.
Xanatos drew back and gave her his trademark smug smile, “He's hardly a baby.”
“He's barely a year old.” she grumbled.
“True, but how many one year olds do you know who could pass for four?” Xanatos snarked.
“No matter how fast he grows up, he will always be my baby.” Fox hmphed and crossed her arms.
Xander walked between the two gar-beasts toward the dining hall. The young boy had been told there was another child within the castle walls, someone he might play with for a time. She and her mother had apparently stayed over through the day. It was suggested that he might introduce her to Bronx and Fu-Dog. He thought that a grand idea.
As he stepped into the dining hall, the two 'dogs' wandered forward, sniffing the air for traces of food. Both bounded toward the table the girl and her mother sat at. Bronx was the first to make himself known with a snort.
Nina heard the animal snort and looked for the source. Her eyes grew wide as saucers when they fell on the pair of beasts. She took a great breath and expelled it in a piercing squeal of delight. “Puppies!”
Maria's head swiveled around so fast she thought it might roll right off her shoulders. She had gotten to know the rest of the clan months ago. In all that time, she had never seen the gar-beasts up close. Now she gasped at the sight. They were huge and resembled reptilian dogs. She made a grab for Nina and missed as the child launched herself between the two beasts to dole out affection.
“They are gonna eat you, Nina! Come back here,” Maria hissed as she tried once more to grab her daughter.
“They won't eat her. They just wanna play,” came a childish voice from the corridor at the opposite end of the room.
Maria glanced up, one eye on Nina, who had somehow managed to climb onto the back of one of the beasts, the other on the young redheaded boy coming into the dining hall. This child had to be Alexander Xanatos, but he appeared much older than he should be. The last she knew, the boy was supposed to be somewhere around sixteen months. This looked to be a child of Nina's age. Magic, she thought, I'll never get used to it. She knew wherever the gargoyles went, magic was sure to follow. Since she was soon to be mated to one, she realized that she could be subjected to magic regularly. She sighed at the thought and shook her head with a smile.
“You must be young Alexander,” she said as the boy came to a stop before her. He carried a Rubics Cube in his hands, all the while, watching Nina and the 'dogs' with an excited smile. That smile turned to a faint frown when he glanced back at Maria in response to the name. His words were much too articulated for a four year old when he said, “It's Xander, actually and yes, I am.”
A Xanatos through and through, Maria thought in disdain. The boy certainly had his father's self-righteous attitude. Everything else he seemed to have taken from his mother. That attitude was unnerving in one so young; however.
“What's this then?” Hudson's voice broke through the squeals, giggles and shouts of joy coming from Nina as he entered the room.
Nina had managed to climb onto Fu-Dog's back and was riding him around the dining hall as if he were an undersized horse. Her hands were twisted in his mane. The beast did not seem to mind in the least as he ran around with his tongue lulling out. Bronx followed closely trying his best to sniff at the newcomer.
“Puppies, puppies, puppies, puppies,” the girl scream-laughed with every breath as the gar-beasts trotted around the room grunting, snorting and barking.
“Playtime, Uncle Hudson,” Xander announced proudly. Seconds later he lept into the chaos with some of his own. An impish laugh spilled from the boy as he tossed the Rubics Cube into the air where it spun slowly, clearly suspended by some magical force. He vaulted onto Bronx's back and cried 'giddy up' at the top of his lungs.
Hudson dug his smallest talon around in his ear with a grim smile as he tried to dispel the ringing from the childish screams. He made his way over to Maria with a hand over the ear closest to the noise. The room was in complete chaos as Fairy magic conjured up illusions of forests, streams and imaginary villains that the children shrieked at while playing at battle.
“Come, lass, let 'em run out all......that....,” Hudson waved his hands helplessly at the two bundles of energy that raced around the room.
Maria eyed them cautiously even as she gave him a faint smile. “Are you sure....?”
“Aye, Nina be as safe here as anywhere. Maybe safer. Bronx an' Fu-Dog be good boys. They be keepin' her out o' Xander's brand o' trouble, ye can be sure.” Hudson smiled and put one large hand on her shoulder reassuringly.
“They are loud,” Maria admitted after one nearly deafening shriek that was followed by a round of giggles.
“Aye, like bein' inside the clock tower's bell at midnight.” the elder gargoyle grumbled as he glanced over his shoulder.
“Hey! Pipe down or I'll drag your butts downtown and toss you in a holding cell!” Elisa snapped playfully at the kids as she came into the room, Goliath at her back.
Maria gasped at the sight of her. She had been there the night before, but had not seen the changes until now. A gargoyle! She's a gargoyle! How am I supposed to explain that to Internal Affairs when they ask about her latest round of time off, those thoughts and more crowded her mind as her eyes traced every line of the female's body. Fast on the heels of those thoughts, another followed. Hudson had mentioned shooing the others off from watching Goliath and his mate the night before. Did that mean that Elisa was the giant gargoyle's mate? Oh god, the thoughts kept coming. Maria's internal voice screamed at her that the girl could end up pregnant. What would the baby be if she did? Girl or boy did not matter so much as what. Was a hybrid child even possible. Had Elisa's very DNA been changed to that of a gargoyle? There were too many unanswered and unanswerable questions racing through her mind. Hudson must have realized she was about to have an intellectual meltdown because he encouraged her to stand and guided her out of the chaotic dining hall.
“Gotta catch us first, Auntie Elisa!” Xander squealed from Bronx's back.
Elisa rolled her eyes and laughed. She could have caught him easily. Holding onto him was another story. That was like grabbing at the flames of her own magic, wisps of smoke that danced away at the faintest breath. Her eyes caught movement at the center of the room and locked on the slowly rotating Rubics Cube. A wicked smile graced her face as she realized what exactly the boy was doing with that. Spreading her wings, she thrust herself over the masses of children and gar-beasts only to land on the other side with her prize. She had snatched the Cube from its place and turned toward the boy.
“No fair!” Xander howled as his illusions evaporated.
Goliath chuckled from the doorway he was leaning against. Arms crossed over his powerful chest, he gazed at his mate appreciatively. According to clan tradition they were betrothed. Once they declared their vows before the clan elders, they would be mated in the eyes of all the clans. He intended to take it a step further, however. Since Elisa was human, no matter what her current form, he meant to see the tradition of her people honored in the eyes of her family, at least. She would become both his mate and his wife. They would share the Blood of the Dragon and become one for all time.
Demona had skipped that particular part of their mating. Instead, she had split the Phoenix Gate and pledge her love on a token of broken time. He frowned at the thought of her and the vows they had made so long ago. A part of him thanked the Great Dragon that he had not been foolish enough to insist they share the blood. Once that pact was made, it could not be broken, even in death. He realized that was why Othello and Desdemona had remained together in death inside Coldstone's mind. They had shared the blood during their mating vows before the clan elders.
“Penny for your thoughts,” Elisa said quietly as she came to a stop before him, the Rubics Cube in her talons. Glancing over her shoulder, she tossed the cube to the still grumbling boy. She turned her eyes back to Goliath in concern.
“I was just thinking.....,” Goliath murmured.
“And grinding your teeth. Come one, out with it. What's got your tail in a knot?” Elisa asked in her usual no-nonsense tone.
A slow smile began to spread across Goliath's lips as he locked eyes with her. His hands wrapped gently around her upper arms, thumbs rubbing the rounded tops of her shoulders. “It's time we spoke to Hudson about our mating ceremony. Perhaps Xanatos would be willing to speak to Roblyn about drawing up the human marriage contract.”
Elisa's stared at him for a moment unable to breathe. Once he began spilling his thoughts, he did not miss a beat in his ideas. She knew he had intended for to her become his mate in the eyes of the clan, but she had never dreamed he might be considering actual marriage. She would be his wife, not just his mate. There was more, however, she could sense it. Since the night she had brushed against the barrier between their minds, she had become increasingly aware of his emotional state. Sometimes strong thoughts would break through. It was a little unnerving even though it was only amplifying the uncanny ability to read him that she had always had.
Throwing her arms around his neck, Elisa smiled and rubbed her ear against his. She would get the rest of it out of him soon enough. There was more, she was sure of it. He would tell her in his own time. A part of her already suspected some of it might have something to do with Demona though. The female had been a big part of his life once. Of course there would be some thought of her even in this. It saddened and frustrated her, but she understood.
Drawing back from him to gaze up into his craggy face, she could almost see it in his eyes, the haunted look that seemed to hover just below the surface. He smiled at her as he tipped her chin up with his talons, but the smile was tight, almost grim. She was certain now that there was something more he was not saying.
“What is it? There's something else you're not telling me.” Elisa said quietly.
“Only that I wish to complete our union sooner whether than later,” Goliath murmured as he took her hands in his and bent to kiss them.
“Before Demona does something else to separate us....,” Elisa finished the train of thought he had been traveling along.
Goliath eyed her with a hint of awe at her uncanny ability to read him. After all this time, she still amazed him with it. Even more so in the last year. Since her accident. He realized she had given him very few details of her 'training' encounter with Puck. There were things, he suspected a good many important things, that she was still keeping to herself. Instead of voicing his concerns, he merely nodded to confirm her suspicions. He was not yet ready to mention the blood ritual. The thought struck him that there were things that he had yet to share with her as well. At least they were on equal footing in that.
Wandering after her, he thought of their most recent encounters. His instincts were screaming at him to breed her well and often until she quickened with his egg. However, his heart was shying away from the idea given the events of the previous year. He did not wish her to become pregnant again only to lose another child. There was no guarantee that a hybrid child would survive. He was not certain he believed the entity that had appeared before them the night of their loss. A part of him wanted to, but his rational side bellowed that the risk was too great. The damage may already be done, he thought grimly as he watched her tail sway toward the kitchen.
Hudson had guided Maria to one of the balconies off the main hall. Balconies, that in his day, had been little more than fenced in gardens. Apparently when Xanatos had the castle moved to the top of the Eyrie, he decided he wanted those spaces preserved in a different way. This one suited the elder gargoyle's needs now. It was calm and quiet with a stunning view of the city skyline. Even he had to admit there was beauty to be had in such a place. It was lost on him, however, as he gazed down at Maria. She had captured his heart so quickly it had left his head spinning. He now understood the appeal a human female might have to a gargoyle. There had been a time he had frowned on Goliath and Elisa's closeness. It had seemed unnatural to him, but now he saw it in a whole new light. They were delicate in so many ways, yet fiercely loyal and perfectly capable of defending their beliefs. The urge to protect this small female was stronger than the need to protect any other. He suspected it must be the same for Goliath. Maybe, he thought, there be somethin' to the soulmate idea me elders once spoke of. He did not know, nor did he expect he ever would. For now, he meant to accept whatever life offered him.
“It's beautiful up here,” Maria sighed as she stepped close to the half-wall and placed a hand on it. Her eyes were only half focused on the sight before her.
“Aye, 'tis at that. T'e view be better from higher up.” Hudson rumbled softly as he stepped close to her. He could not remember the last time he had carried a human into the air. It struck him as odd that he had never carried Elisa when Goliath was unable. That task had usually fallen to Brooklyn or Broadway. He supposed they thought him too old with too many aches and pains to handle that wisp of a girl. Eyeing Maria, he realized she was close to Elisa's build. That thought was a little unnerving to his way of thinking.
Maria turned her gaze on him and gave him a crooked smile. “Are you saying you wanna carry me off into the moonlight?”
Hudson inhaled deeply, puffing out his chest, as his spine straightened of its own accord. A mixture of emotions rolled through him at the idea. Emotions and desires he had not experienced since his 'Joy' had died nearly two decades before the massacre. He was not sure how or even if he should act on any of them. Some, he knew, might get him into more trouble than he could dig his way out of before dawn. Others might end in them both becoming a greasy smear on some long strip of pavement. The indecision of the moment left him bereft of his senses and he was not aware of the odd look she gave him.
As Maria stepped away from the wall and closer to him, he realized it was true. He very much wanted to take her aloft. There was some uncertainty in his mind regarding how much he might get away with in the skies with his wingless betrothed. He meant to do things properly in the eyes of the clan, however. They would remain chaste until they were mated, for the most part. He saw nothing wrong with a little heavy petting, however.
In a moment of reckless abandon, Hudson swept Maria off her feet and into his arms. She gasped even as he hopped up on the half-wall. He smiled at her an instant before he dove off the balcony and into the night. Her squeal of half fright, half delight could be heard for several city blocks.
Demona stumbles on some obscure fragments of the Dracona Cycle. Elisa discovers that she is pregnant. Plans for the commitment ceremony are beginning to take shape with the help of Xanatos. Puck contemplates the implications of a new element in his grand scheme.
Winds of Change: Season Two
Demona poured over ancient tomes, crumbling scrolls and plastic encased pages looking for anything she could find that bore even a remote reference to the Dracona Cycle. It was an ominous prophecy, not just for the human vermin, but for gargoyles as well. After witnessing Goliath and his human pet in the skies over Central Park, the prophecy plagued her as did the violation of her senses. The images of her former lover engaging in sexual gratification with her most hated adversary paled next to the annihilation some of the text hinted at. Those images of Goliath and Elisa were forevermore burned into her mind, however. There was no escape from them even in sleep. She would have given much to obliterate both the images and the pair who had created them. If she had not known better, she would have sworn Goliath had flashed their most intimate connection at her deliberately. She knew him better, however. He went out of his way to seek a great deal of privacy.
Elisa Maza, the name made her blood boil every single time she heard it, thought it, spoke it. Few things in her immortal existence were capable of leaving scars. Maza had left a number of them upon her flesh as well as her psyche. The regenerative effects of the link between Macbeth and herself had taken what seemed an eternity to finally heal the damage done to her hands when the woman had burned them. Even after more than a year the joints were still vaguely stiff. And now, she thought venomously, the bitch has been granted the gift of change without the price of pain! The woman might have changed into a gargoyle, but that did not change the fact that she was human-born. Things were much worse than that, however. Elisa Maza bore the blood of Avalon in her veins as well. She was no better than Xanatos' mongrel son in that regard. There was something, she was sure of it. Something she had read centuries ago regarding such a creature mingling with gargoyle kind. She was certain it was connected to the Dracona Cycle. That particular subject was a complex series of prophecies and conditions. Each fulfilled arc brought about a dozen new branches. There was no way to know for sure which branch might be the true arc of the prophecy. In some arcs the future was not so grim. Humanity was simply wiped away like so much dirt on a tiled floor. She prayed for that outcome with the rising and setting of the sun every day. In others, both Fae and human alike were destroyed. She would not grieve for Puck or his ilk. In still other branches there was no future at all, for any race. Everything that was or might be simply ceased to exist in the wake of Dracona's coming. Those were the branches that left her lying wide-eyed and awake during her all too brief periods of rest.
The destruction of the human race was something Demona longed for, dreamed of during her long days in their disgusting form, but not at the expense of her own much more superior race. She had found mention in over a dozen text of the Dracona Cycle. Many of them spoke of the Destroyer; the one who would purge the world. Dracona's destruction would not be limited to humanity. All would be lost in oblivion. That was not what she wanted for her kind. She intended to see her people rule the earth. It was their destiny and it was her destiny to lead them. The Dracona Cycle was not the answer she had hoped it might be. If the Destroyer emerged the earth would be a vast graveyard filled with the ruins of crumbling buildings. They would mark the only remnants of civilization.
Demona thumbed through another heavily bound volume in deep thought. There were too many possibilities, too many branches the prophecy might take. If the Redeemer emerged, gargoyle kind might reign over the world or they might crumble to dust. The Redeemer would judge all who came before her. If any were found lacking, they might well be destroyed. The fragments she had found were unclear.
Picking up a tome that seemed nearly the twin to the Grimorum, she gingerly turned a few pages. Within those pages she found a fragment of the archaic text she sought and began to translate as she read……
“In a time of uncertainty and strife, when the world teeters on the brink of cataclysm…………a force of nature shall be born. Dragon’s fire shall walk the earth in the guise of flesh. Born of a union neither human, gargoyle nor Fae, but a blending of the three. All the world shall quake before this united trinity of power. Redeemer and Destroyer, Guardian and Betrayer, Dracona will come again………,” she turned the page. The rest of the text was missing, ending in an ancient smear of something that might have been blood.
Looking up from the book in horror, Demona put a taloned hand to her lips and whispered. “Oh, Goliath,…………what have you done?”
There was no doubt in her mind that Dracona would be reborn of the pair she had witnessed over Central Park. Her contact inside the Eyrie had already made mention of the wind ceremony little more than a year ago. Could the human conceive again so soon? She did not know. Gargoyles were bound by infrequent breeding seasons. If her own daytime form was any indication of human reproduction then she was fairly certain they could breed anytime they wished. That would explain their overpopulation of the planet.
Demona closed the book with a heavy thump. Her head spun, mind struggling to grasp the full implications of what she had just read. She tried to come to terms with what she had seen over Central Park, what Goliath seemed determined to bring about. Did he know that he and his human slut might well bring about the end of the world? She doubted it. They were simply consummating their unnatural attraction.
Taking a shuddering breath, she glanced down at one of the many scrolls that littered her desk. There had to be an answer in one of them. They were all that was left of Atlantis and the Atlanteans had managed to contain the 'guardian', after all. She knew now that they had somehow managed to trap what might one day become the goddess of destruction. There had to be a way to put the proverbial genie back into the bottle.
“Oh c'mon! As much as I love being like this, there has to be a way to change back. I can't face my parents like this! I'm not going to get their blessing to marry Goliath if I show up on their patio as a gargoyle. When hell freezes over, maybe. If they think he had anything to do with this it will never happen!” Elisa yelled at Owen, waving her hands vaguely at her current form. Fury flashed in her eyes in the form of faint green energy.
The man pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose with a sniff. “I've already explained that I can't help you, Miss Maza. Puck has told you you're on your own in this. You must undo what you have done.”
“That's just great! I have no idea how to change back. If I did, don't you think I would have by now?” Elisa snapped. Owen's oatmeal tone was seriously getting on her last nerve. She glared at him and her eyes flashed red with her anger.
“Don't you have a lesson with Puck and Xander later tonight? Perhaps you might consider bringing your concerns up then.” Owen grumbled and tapped the edge of the small stack of papers he was sorting on the desk to align their edges. A mundane task, to be sure, but one made much easier with Titania's gift. She had released his stone hand from its encasement not long ago.
Elisa sighed and continued to glare at him a moment longer. He met her gaze evenly, unflinchingly as she grumbled something under her breath. “Fine, but I want some answers then or I swear I'll cuff you and stuff you in a cruiser myself.”
“Oh yes, that will work out marvelously, don't you think, Miss Maza? Haul me into the station in the guise of a gargoyle.....” Owen's tone suggested the puck was laughing hysterically at the idea within him.
“Gah!” Elisa threw her hands up and headed for the door. As she opened it, she glanced back at Owen and snarled. “Just make sure Puck is in the great hall at midnight like we agreed.”
“With bells on...” Owen actually chuckled before he caught himself and sternly went back to his paperwork.
Owen sat shuffling papers for a moment more and stifled the chuckle that had escaped. The detective's threat was ludicrous. She knew as well as he that she could not show up at the precinct in her current form. True, the rest of the clan was attached to the department task force via Chavez' orders. Most of the force was growing accustomed to seeing and/or dealing with them by this point. The real problem with her empty threat was explaining how she, a known human, had suddenly become a gargoyle. She could not do it and they both knew it. Her appearance might lead to panic among the more sensitive officers. They might begin to question how many of their colleges could suddenly change. Then there was the chance that someone might toss in the idea that being a gargoyle was somehow contagious. Anyone might suddenly turn into one just by being too close.
Another chuckle escaped him and he sighed, shaking his head. Humans, he thought, they really will believe anything.....even if it's not true. That compunction of the species had lead him on many a merry adventure over the centuries. He wondered what new adventures it might lead to in the current century. Then he remembered sadly that he was currently bound to human form. Without little Xander to teach, and perhaps Maza to torment, he might eventually lose the ability to release the puck. He realized that would be a sad day in deed. His mind turned toward the 'guardian' in the alchemy tower. No, Puck will not be bound to human form forever, he vowed. Dracona is the answer.
Elisa sat in the dining hall in irritation waiting on the Puck to show himself. Young Xander was already there toying with his Rubics Cube. The boy seemed engrossed in the annoying puzzle toy. She knew it was not the puzzle that held his interest. There were ripples of magic wavering off the object. He had infused it with enough energy to leave a crater where Manhattan Island now stood if it had been a bomb. She decided he did not need that idea seeded in his young mind. Instead of voicing her fears of what he was doing, she remained silent. Her wings twitched in agitation as time dragged on.
When Elisa had finally had enough of the waiting game, she began to fidget. Dawn was a few hours off and she could think of any number of things more worthy of her time than waiting on the irritating trickster. This would be her first real lesson with him since he had forced her to burn through her humanity to reach the core of magic hidden within. She was not thrilled with him being the only one she could turn to for training.
Picking a talon, she sighed in frustration. Xander must have noticed her growing anger as he walked over to her and set his cube down on the bench beside her. He eyed her inquisitively until she locked eyes with him. Then he smiled, the freckles stretching across the bridge of his nose. It was the smile of a child who knows something the adult does not.
“Uncle Puck will be here. He promised.” he said simply.
“I don't trust your uncle.” Elisa sighed.
“He likes you, Auntie Elisa.” Xander said as he climbed up on the bench beside her and resumed toying with the cube.
“He's got a funny way of showing it.” she grumbled.
“Uncle Puck does what he knows is best. If we gotta wait to start a lesson, then it means the lesson is gonna take time to learn.” the boy was only half focused on her as he spoke.
“I don't know. I still don't like it.” Elisa crossed her arms with a sigh.
Both their heads shifted upwards, eyes snapping toward the ceiling when they heard the sounds of bells. Puck tip-toed along the rafters dangling a cluster of slay bells. He smiled wickedly at Elisa and shook the bells directly at her before dropping to the floor. The Fae flipped half way down and landed delicately on his feet.
“The bells are a dashing touch, don't you think? Given your oh so frustrating chat with Owen earlier....,” Puck just seemed to drip sarcasm.
“Unbelievable....,” Elisa growled under her breath.
“Oh come on, it's fun, it's festive...” Puck hooted gleefully.
“Maybe for Christmas...,” Elisa grumbled to herself.
“I heard that.” Puck appeared inches from her face and whispered.
Elisa gasped and leaned back, nearly falling off the bench in the process. She glared at the trickster and pursed her lips in irritation. It was going to be a long night. That realization hit her along with thoughts of sunrise. She wondered how many more days she would be forced to endure stone sleep. Granted, she enjoyed the wings, they had their advantages, but she did not relish the sensation of being petrified. She had no idea how Goliath and the clan dealt with it. It was their nature, she supposed. They knew no other form of sleep. She, on the other hand, had been born human. For her, there was a significant amount of terror involved with being frozen in stone every morning. She feared she might not awaken at sunset.
Now Elisa sat glaring at Puck, balling all of that anxiety and fear up into the look of death she gave him. It must have worked. The Fae backed off looking much paler than he normally did. The way his mouth worked soundlessly for a few seconds told her it must have gone dry. Good, she thought, let him worry.
“Well then, shall we get started?” Puck stammered after zapping himself back to the center of the room. He had made sure he was well away from Elisa before he opened his mouth again.
The Puck would not admit it, not even to himself most days, but there was something unsettling about Elisa Maza the last few days. She had developed a raptor's gaze that seemed to pin him to whatever spot he occupied when she locked it on him. Her magic was growing closer to the surface much faster than he had anticipated. At her current rate of growth, she might well discover how to change herself back to her human form in a matter of days. He had been counting on weeks. The time table of his plans would have to be hurried along then. Maza needed to remain in her gargoyle form for the first stage. After that, she would be free to return to her human form. He would grant her request if she was unable to figure it out herself at that point.
After less than an hour of parlor tricks, Puck realized he would not need to grant Maza's request after all. She need only learn to focus her will and speak the word in order to return to her human form. In fact, he was fairly certain she would be able to change at will once she learned the all important focus. He would need to have a word with her and soon. Her form needed to be stable for a few more days at least or she might miscarry Dracona's vessel. He had no desire to see her go through that again nor did he wish to lose the dragon goddess. She must be reborn in this age or all might well be lost.
Pregnant.... She was pregnant. The moment Puck had cornered her and spoken to her about not pushing the issue of her current form, she had suspected it. She had confronted him about the possibility and he had confirmed it. Elisa had wasted no time in seeking out Dr. Sato. She needed to know for sure, needed to know that the baby was ok. Her fears of another miscarriage set her nerves to jangling on high alert. It was enough that she had dropped all argument regarding her transformation. If a gargoyle form was what her baby needed for a solid start, then she would gladly remain so.
Dr. Sato, unfortunately, was not available when she first sought him out. He had been called away to care for a long time patient and would not return for several weeks. Elisa was left to stew for a time. Her nerves and hormones made her edgy and she caught herself taking it out on those around her more than once. Even Goliath seemed to irritate her more than normal and so she secluded herself in Goliath's chambers as she had directly after she had been freed from Sevarius.
The weeks went by quickly and finally Dr. Sato returned to the Eyrie. Elisa no longer needed him to confirm her pregnancy. It had made itself abundantly clear in that time. Her gargoyle body had begun to show signs of the pregnancy within the first couple of weeks. By the third week, Puck had finally proclaimed it safe for her to return to her human form. He had made it clear to her that those weeks had been vital to ensuring Dracona was safely ensconced within her new vessel. Her change would not longer affect that vessel or the pregnancy.
“Well,” Dr. Sato breathed as he looked at the monitor, his hand deftly running the ultrasound doppler over Elisa's decidedly swelled belly. “there's definitely a soft shell of sorts forming around the fetus.”
“An egg? Nobody said anything about me laying an egg..” Elisa grumbled.
“Gargoyle eggs are soft until their first dawn.......” Goliath said absently. He was still absorbing the fact that Elisa was truly carrying his child. His fears of the mishap that ended her last pregnancy forefront in his mind.
“One egg....,” Sato continued as if he had not heard them. He moved the doppler around as he turned a small dial on the unit it was attached to. “.....two babies....”
“What?” Goliath breathed.
“Excuse me?” Elisa hissed as she attempted to twist around to see the monitor.
Sato pulled the monitor around on its wall bracket so that she might see it. He began pointing out defining shapes as he circled them with a stylus. “There's one head and it appears to have a faintly ridged brow forming.” he paused as he moved the doppler an inch over. “Here's the other. Again, what appears to be a ridged brow forming. This chain of pearls is twin B's spine and there is certainly going to be a tail.”
“They share the same egg?” Elisa asked, concern written clearly on her face.
“Twins are rare among gargoyles. When it does happen, it is easier on the mother if there is only one egg to clutch.” Goliath said, his tone still one of shock.
“But doesn't that put them in danger? I mean an egg is only going to have just so much room for them to grow in.” Elisa's concern was growing with each passing moment.
“Wait...” Sato mumbled and held up a hand as his focus returned to the monitor.
“Don't you dare tell me there's a third baby.” Elisa snapped.
“No, I stand corrected. There are, in fact, two eggs. Each anionic sack has its own soft shell forming. Twin B already seems to be full of mischief. He was hiding the fine line that defines the edges of the second sack.” Sato said as he moved the device around a little further.
“He?” Elisa asked. “I thought Dracona's vessel was supposed to be a girl.”
“Oh yes, twin A is a girl. Twin B just politely sat on the doppler a moment ago. There's no doubt what he is.” Sato paused long enough to wipe the gel from Elisa's belly and looked at her seriously for a moment. “The development of your twins is much more than a couple of months. These babies are closer, in human terms, to a four or five month fetus. I'd say they'll be full term in a matter of weeks, not months. Not exactly.”
“Gargoyles are pregnant for six months before clutching.” Goliath supplied automatically.
“Well, that explains it then. They are very definitely proceeding along a gargoyle gestation...for the moment.” Sato noted.
“So what are you saying?” Elisa asked quietly still trying to grasp the enormity of the situation.
“Twelve weeks, maybe less, and you will deliver them. At a guess, I'll say they may remain inside those egg shells for another three or four months post-delivery. My guess is they'll develop along the normal human rate at that point.” he held up a finger as she opened her mouth to speak, “Again, that is my best guess. There has never been a human/gargoyle hybrid to my knowledge.”
Goliath did not miss the pointed look the doctor shot at him. He shook his head in negative. In all of history, no stories spoken by the elders of the past made mention of such a birth. Rare was the mention of twins. Rarer still were twins hatched from two separate eggs. His eyes slid to Elisa's decidedly rounded belly and he knew a fear like no other. Females sometimes died during clutching and Elisa had not been born a gargoyle. Could her all too human body handle such a birth? He wondered if it might not be better for her to remain in her gargoyle form until after the clutching. Surely her body might handle the eggs more easily in that form.
The lavender behemoth moved to suggest it, but one look in her eyes stilled his words. She would insist she should be in human form to give her parents the news. He had heard the arguments a number of times over the last weeks. She was determined that her parents would not give them their blessing to bond if she were anything but her human self. He had made every effort he could to convince her that they would love her no matter the form she took. She had insisted that they would believe him responsible for her transformation. On numerous occasions he had stalked off to steam lest he rip his hair out. Pregnant Elisa Maza was even more impossible to reason with at times than 'normal' Elisa Maza.
To his surprise, Elisa asked the doctor one last question. The one that burned hottest in his mind. “Will transformation hurt them this far along?”
“You mean returning to your human form? I couldn't say. The pregnancy is well established at this point, but I would advise caution. Being in gargoyle form for delivery might be a better idea. The gargoyle female pelvis is designed to spread wider than that of a human. That would have some advantages given the circumstances.” Sato answered in a matter of fact tone. As an afterthought, he added, “Better to ask your friend Puck about the particulars of transformation, however.”
“I'll do that...” Elisa said as she slid off the cot. She was still digesting the fact that she was not only pregnant, but that pregnancy was going to produce hybrid twins. She would have the son and daughter she had thought would never be when she had committed to Goliath. Part of her was overjoyed. The other part was absolutely terrified.
Goliath watched Elisa head for Owen's office when they parted in the corridor. He knew she meant to be human when they made their vows to each other. Her pregnancy worried him. Though the doctor had assured them that the twins were fine and developing well, it still left him felling greatly concerned. Their first child had been lost due to an accident, something that should never have caused the loss in the first place. What if she changes and this pregnancy ends as well? How will she cope? How will I, for that matter? He did not think he could bare to watch her go through that again. To lose one child had nearly destroyed them both. But to lose two together? That was the stuff of nightmares.
Elisa disappeared around a corner and Goliath heaved a heavy sigh. He would seek out Xanatos. Surely the man had news by now whether Judge Roblyn would preside over their commitment ceremony or not. Hudson would officiate, but it was Roblyn who would fulfill the legal portion for his alter-ego, as it were. With a little luck, Gordon Liath Wyvern would be a married man in a very short time now. The final name change had been made official and the deed to the castle in the clouds had been updated to reflect it, as had all of the assets Xanatos had established along with his human persona.
Xanatos had been waiting for Goliath to make an appearance for a couple of days now. It had given him time to put the last details of the wedding in order. If all was going well, Puck should be having a chat with the detective even as Goliath entered the office. As he watched Goliath approach the desk, he could not decide if the look on his face was sore or contemplative. He hoped for the latter. It would not bode well if the betrothed pair had a falling out now. They had been through so much together, he very much doubted that even the end of the world could tear them apart at this point. Still there was that look on the gargoyle's face to contend with.
“Goliath... I was wondering when you were going to make an appearance.” Xanatos said cheerfully as he laid a file folder aside.
“Has there been any word from Roblyn?” Goliath asked straight out.
“Right to the point then,” Xanatos mumbled as he stood and straightened his suit jacket. “As a matter of fact, he contacted me just this morning. He was a little concerned at first given the nature of the last wedding conducted here, but I convinced him. He understands that this ceremony will be much more...shall we say.....unique.”
“Without magic or the interference of the Phoenix Gate for a certainty.” Goliath stated more calmly than he felt.
“Yes, I've assured him that the Phoenix Gate, at least, will not be a factor this time. I'm not sure he believes me though.” Xanatos said as he came around the desk. “I'm guessing your impending nuptials are not the only reason for your visit....”
“You are aware that Elisa is pregnant?” Goliath began hesitantly.
“Ah, yes. The thoughts of fatherhood giving you cold feet? I thought you'd be over all that by now. After all, you did recognize Angela as your offspring. I suppose this must be a bit different. You'll actually be able to hold this one as an infant. There's nothing in the world more powerful than holding that tiny baby in your arms for the first time.” Xanatos smiled at the last, remembering when he had held Alexander for the first time. That tiny baby had changed something in his heart for the better in those first few moments.
Goliath stared at the man for a moments. It was clear that he was completely oblivious to the situation. True, he knew of the pregnancy and seemed happy for them, but he did not seem to understand just how delicate it truly was. The man had no idea of the true nature of the pregnancy. Only he, Elisa and the doctor knew of the twins. Twins, the idea still frightened him from his crown to his tail tip. What was he, a warrior, a leader, a gargoyle to do with twins? And babies at that. He knew next to nothing about children and even less about babies. During the last hatching, he had been too young to be seen as more than an older rookery sibling to the clan's children. Never once had he been involved in their care. He had never even seen a newborn. Alexander Xanatos was three months old when he had first seen him. The child was also half Fae, which made an enormous difference in his development. Angela had been an egg when he and the rest of his clan were frozen in stone. Hatchlings had always remained in the rookery, for their own safety, until they were near Gnash's age.
“Twins....” Goliath finally found his voice through the turmoil of his own thoughts, but this was not the true reason he had come to see the human.
“What?” Xanatos' face cracked in a giant smile as a laugh barked out of him. The man could not resist, he slapped Goliath on the back, careful to avoid the wing-strut. “I didn't think you had it in you...”
“Elisa has gone to speak with Puck.” Goliath blurted after a moment. He deliberately ignored the hand on his shoulder and the crude comment.
Xanatos sobered abruptly as the implications struck him, “I'm sure it'll be fine. Puck is deeply invested in the success of this pregnancy.”
“That is what concerns me. I fear what he may deem worthy of sacrificing to save this Guardian of his.” Goliath paused and gave the human a stony look, “I do not wish to lose Elisa or....my son.”
“I see your point. Perhaps we should have a word with him before he does anything rash.” Xanatos said as he headed for the door. It was clear he expected Goliath to follow him.
Twins... Puck had never dreamed Dracona might bring another hybrid into the world with her. And a boy at that! They would be enough to spawn a whole knew race. After all, it was not unheard of for a new species to come into being in such a way. Brother breeding sister was the way it had been done in ancient Egypt as a practice to keep the bloodlines pure. It was a brilliant concept so long as one did not look too closely at the genetic defects that were bound to arise.
Puck considered the gargoyles for a time. Their clans were closed off, isolated and forced to inbreed to survive. Many of the less than human looking specimens were, no doubt, the result of long term inbreeding. How they had managed to survive as long as they had without outside influence, he would never understand. They were a dying race. The infrequency of their breeding cycles spoke to that. The Guardian and her twin would represent a fresh bloodline to be infused into the gargoyle race. Perhaps that was why the boy had come into being. If he survived. Then there was the question of their fertility. Would they be able to breed human as well as gargoyle? Would they be able to breed at all? Only time would tell with that.
The first thing Puck realized he must contend with was Maza's request. She wished to return to her human form, at least for awhile. The conditions of the Dracona Cycle were muddy in that area. It said nothing about the mother's abilities to transform. He found only a fraction regarding her hybrid nature. In millennia he had spent studying the prophecy, he was shocked that he had never stumbled on that particular piece. He had merely assumed the mother would have some faint trace of Fae blood at best. She would be human otherwise. Now he had a whole new section of the prophecy that made mention of human, Fae and gargoyle. No doubt, the best of the three worlds and now Dracona herself curled safely slumbering within Maza.
After careful consideration, Puck saw no harm in granting her request. She would merely figure it out in a matter of days anyway. Better that he be the one to cast the revert spell than she. He could ensure that it did not interfere with the pregnancy. After all, he was the most experienced of those present with magic. He had too much riding on that tiny scrap of life growing within Maza to screw things up now, at any rate.
Goliath stepped into the great hall mere seconds before Puck cast his spell. He gasped audibly as Elisa's form shimmered and shifted. The wings receded and the tail disappeared before his eyes as she took on human characteristics once more. She swayed once it was done and he was at her side to steady her in a blink.
A stern look pinned itself to his face as he glazed down at her. His mouth a tight line as a muscle in his jaw jumped. He could not say he was happy to see her in human form again, but he knew it had been her choice. She would have found a way to change herself. Perhaps it was better that Puck had done it for her. At least he would have been mindful of the children she carried and he had the power to protect them. It irked Goliath to admit that, but admit it he did.
“That was a reckless decision.” Goliath said softly.
“You know why I chose it.” Elisa replied just as softly.
“Yes....” he drew the word out as was his custom, “but perhaps you should have waited.”
“I need to do this now. My parents deserve to know they're about to become grandparents. They should know that what their grandchildren will be.” Elisa sighed tiredly. She had not realized the toll her pregnancy was taking on her until that moment.
“You need rest. We should return to our chambers.” Goliath said with only a heartbeat of hesitation. They had shared those rooms for months now. A part of him still feared she would return to her human life now that she wore the form she was born to once more.
“Yes, go rest, Maza. You lesson for tonight is to sort out exactly how the transformation spell works. The threads of magic will linger for a time.” Puck hooted from his place on a windowsill.
Elisa nodded and staggered just as she was about to turn toward the door. Goliath caught her and lifted her easily into his arms. She did not protest. Instead she yawned with a loud crack of her jaws. She was more tired than he had originally realized. The protests he had expected never came as he headed for the door and their chambers deeper in the castle. She needed sleep and he was going to see to it that she got some.
I had not planned the mid-season break that took place between chapters six and seven. Life has a way of making you step back and notice. This chapter feels a little loose to me due to that break. Fear not, the story will continue. =)
Goliath and Elisa plan for the commitment ceremony. Tragedy strikes the Maza family. Brooklyn attempts to track what appears to be an alternate timeline with the TCT. The Winds of Change gust ever fast through the events that swirl around Goliath, Elisa and their hybrid children.
Minor character death mentioned. Mention of events leading to 9/11.
Winds of Change: Season Two
Brooklyn had taken to poking at the TCT at least once every few days. He knew now what the anomaly was, there could no longer be any doubt. Elisa was pregnant. History was unclear whether the child she and Goliath were meant to raise had been hers biologically or the result of an adoption, but one thing was clear. It had not been a gargoyle hybrid. This would change everything; the entire timestream might well be in jeopardy. That would explain why the TCT could not calculate future events beyond 2001. The coming focal point was a linchpin in history and he knew nothing could alter the disaster that was coming. He had tried a number of times. Each attempt had been more disastrous than the last. Finally, he had realized there was no way to alter the events and had left it alone.
Now the world, the very timestream itself, was racing towards those events with no clarity beyond that point. Brooklyn found the idea unsettling. He had grown far too accustomed to the TCT feeding him information about important events over the last twenty years. Now, with it spewing out errors right and left, he found he did not like the feeling of uncertainty that was swamping him. Unfortunately, he saw little that he could do about it shy of the unthinkable. Time had taken an unexpected curve, cutting a new path. An alternate timeline, he realized with a sudden chill. How might Goliath and Elisa's child affect the future? Could this be the resource the future needed? Would it be the downfall the Space-Spawn had hoped to bring about? His thoughts turned toward the future, the war with the aliens was as unavoidable as was the coming 9/11 disaster. How would this impossible child affect all the events to follow its birth?
Elisa had been all but asleep by the time Goliath carried her into their chambers. He had gently positioned her in the large bed and drawn the covers up over her. Now he sat on a stool near the bookcase with a thick volume in his hands. His eyes kept tracing over Elisa's rounded belly until she curled onto her side. He found it next to impossible to concentrate on the book. Her pregnancy fascinated him. Demona had kept herself well away from him while she had carried Angela's egg. He had rarely seen her, but it had been enough to know that she was, in fact, with egg. With Elisa, it was so very different. Not only did she wish to remain close to him, but she often encouraged him to touch the taught flesh of her belly. From time to time, he was even able to fell the movement within her. It had been a startling experience the first time one of the twins had kicked his palm. As the doctor had said, the shells would be quite thin and soft for a time. Nearer to birth, they would begin to thicken. The gargoyle knew that once they were clutched, those shells would harden into a substance nearer to limestone.
Giving up on the book, Goliath slid off the stool and laid it aside. He ventured closer to the sleeping human and knelt before the side of the bed she was nestled on. She was peaceful in her sleep, almost angelic and he could not pull his eyes away from her. He worried that her return to human form in her current condition was taking too great a toll on her body. Pregnancy, in any race, took a great many resources. Without the benefit of stone sleep, a gargoyle pregnancy might well draw too much from her body. She would need to return to her gargoyle form much sooner than she wished. He was certain of that. The arrangements of their commitment ceremony needed to be finalized, and soon.
Several nights later Katana sat cross-legged before her egg on the earthen floor of the newly dug out rookery. The clan surrounded her, each member seemingly holding their breath at the faint sounds of the cracking egg. Eggwardo was hatching. Katana ran her hands lovingly over the surface of the shell and invited Angela to do the same. As the more experienced female, it was her duty to teach the youth what must be done when her own egg hatched. She pointed out each crack in the surface, explaining the signs to watch for. A hatchling might grow tired and weaken if the shell was too thick. The cracks might not begin to chip away if the shell was too hard. If the hatchling did not emerge on its own within an hour after the first cracks appeared it would need help. There were many more things she told the younger female as she explored the surface of the egg.
It did not take long once the first cracks appeared. The child within wanted out. Gasps went up around the chamber as a tiny red hand punched through to the outside world. Katana carefully chipped at the shell around that appendage. The child scrabbled at the edges and finally gripped the shell. A loud crunching sound was heard just before a head full of black hair pushed its way through the disintegrating shell. The face, nearly human in its structure, peek up through wet locks of fine hair. The hatchling's eyes met those of its mother and the infant took its first breath. An instant later, the clan's ears were assaulted by a high pitched screech.
Katana smiled and lifted the infant from the remnants of the shell. Female, the hatchling was a girl and strong by the size of the wiry muscles cording in her legs. The infant gripped the jade green gargoyle's arm in tiny vice-like talons. The Asian female immediately stripped the top of her tunic to her waist. She explained to Angela as she brought the tiny gargoyle baby to her breast that hatchlings must feed as soon as they were free from their eggs. She hissed as the hatchling latched onto her engorged nipple. They had teeth at birth. Soft though they were, she explained that they still hurt.
Any nursing female present could feed them, she told Angela. Her clan had not held with western custom. Only the mother fed her young unless she was unable. Then and only then did another take on the task. The hatchlings would need feeding every few hours. They would grow quickly, much quicker than a human infant in the first weeks. Stone sleep's regenerative properties were responsible for that. By their sixth month of life, they would be walking, talking and feeding themselves. Most of that food would come from the moss that grew in the rookery. In that time they would be attempting to glide around the upper tears of the chamber. By their first year, they would emerge from the rockery for the first time. The darker atmosphere of the rookery was necessary for the further development of the hatchlings eyes. If they were to emerge into a bright night too soon, they might be blinded for life. They would, however, remain rookery bound for the better part of their first ten years or more. This was to ensure they were strong enough to take their places among their clan when the time came.
All this information Katana imparted to Angela. The female was young, the next breeding cycle years off yet. Still, she needed to know these things. There were no other clan mothers present for her to learn from. She did not expect that her human 'parents' had been very knowledgeable about gargoyle custom, tradition and biology. Only a gargoyle could truly teach another gargoyle what it meant to be one of their kind. She was not prejudice by any means of the word, but there were things a human could not know about a gargoyle. Just as there were things a gargoyle could not know about a human.
Katana glanced at Goliath and Elisa with that thought. How much does he really understand about her nature, she wondered. A better question, she realized was how much Elisa really understood about him. Does she understand the animal within him? Does she fear it? Was she truly a gargoyle while in that form only a few days ago, or was it a kind of mask? All these questions went through the female's mind as she watched them. If anything, she realized how natural they seemed to look together. No matter what Elisa's form, she depended on him, supported him as he did her. That was as it should be, she realized.
Eyes flicking down to the swollen belly beneath the human's breasts, she froze. Brooklyn had mentioned that the human was pregnant, but it had not seemed real until she saw her. A hybrid pregnancy and twins if the technology the couple relied on so heavily could be believed. It seemed unnatural to her and she found a deep seeded fear of the unknown settling over her. Her newborn felt the building tension and chomped down on her nipple. She yelped and soothed the infant as she let her questions and fears go. Later, she would discuss the ramifications of a hybrid birth with Brooklyn later. The device he had carried for two decades might have something more to tell him regarding Elisa's twins. Surely he would tell her if there was cause for concern. That idea calmed the alarm that had been rising within her and she smiled down at the infant suckling at her breast. Tachi, her name would be Tachi.
Elisa watched in wide-eyed wonder as the hatchling emerged from her shell. The entire time she found she could not remove her hand from her rounded belly. Her mind swirled through ideas of how her twins might eventually be brought into the world. Dr. Sato had already told her that they would likely remain in their shells for a few months after delivery. In essence, it was not going to be a live birth. There would be no cries from her children in the delivery room. In some ways, that scared the living daylights out of her. She had always expected to go through the process and be presented a screaming, slippery bundle. Now she knew that would not be the case with this pregnancy or any other that might ever result between her and Goliath. In the deepest, darkest corner of her mind, she suspected this one might be it. The first had been a fluke, possibly a catalyst to pave the way for the twins she carried now. If Puck was to be believed, that was exactly the case. There would be no other pregnancy produced between herself and Goliath. With the changes wrought within her, she knew deep down that this would be her only shot at motherhood. She closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around herself. The fear of somehow losing her twins drove her to wish to remain hidden until they were born. She could not, however. There were things that still needed to be done.
Goliath laid a gentle hand on her shoulder as if he could sense her disquiet. She leaned into him as she watched Katana clear away the sharp edges of the eggshell. The female was meticulous in her actions. The bottom inside of the shell was wiped clean and a thick padding of moss was added to it. Xanatos had apparently gone out of his way to ensure that there was an abundant supply of the native greenery available. It had not quite begun to grow on the walls, but in time, it surely would. Once she was finished, she placed the now sleeping infant on that thick padding of moss.
“Here is where Tachi will sleep between feedings. She will remain here during the day, where it is safest. The moss will protect her hide until it thickens. It will cushion her wings until they are strong enough for gliding. When she is ready, she will eat the moss and wonder the rookery for a new nesting place. In a normal hatching year, she would be surrounded by rookery siblings and competing for the best nesting place. Here, she will be alone and will need more interaction from the clan. Do not be afraid to visit her, Angela. She will need guidance in this new world that I am unable to give.” Katana spoke softly, but her voice carried in the big room.
“I don't know what good I'll be at teaching her. I don't know nearly as much as I should about this world. My knowledge is limited to Avalon's shores and the brief stops around the world made by the skiff.” Angela protested.
Katana glanced up at Elisa with her beak slightly parted as if she were about to speak directly to her. Instead, she turned back to Angela. “I am sure there are others who might supply some knowledge of this time and world.” she paused and glance pointedly at Elisa with a faint nod, “And soon, Tachi will have rookery siblings to play with.”
At that, Elisa flinched faintly. She had not thought it would be expected that her 'eggs' would be left alone in the rookery. That was not something she thought she could do. For awhile, she knew she would not be able to let them out of her sight. Instead of allowing the loud protest that bubbled up within her to have free reign, she kept her silence. She would speak with Goliath about it later. With the loss of their first child, he might not wish to let the twins out of his sight either. If he did, then she would put her foot down.....on his tail, if need be.
Diane Maza heard the soft thump on the patio outside their sliding glass door. That would be Goliath, they knew. Elisa had promised to explain her long absence to them. They knew some of the more devastating details. Her beloved car was gone, she had been abducted by that lunatic outcast of the clan and she had been staying at the Eyrie. Beyond that, they did not know much else. The hope was that she would enlighten them this night, but they had news of their own for her as well. She promised to let her brother in on the details in the near future. With his irate feelings toward Goliath, she had not thought it would be a good idea if he were present just now, however. She had implied that there was more at stake than just some bruised egos.
When the sliding glass door slowly opened, the older couple saw only their daughter's forward facing silhouette. Goliath followed her, his shadow unmistakable even in the dimness of their kitchen. Diane had meant to flip the light switch on before they arrived, but had forgotten. They rarely had reason for that light so late in the evening.
As Elisa stepped into the light that spilled just past the kitchen counter, Diane gasped and covered her mouth. She gasped between her hands and her eyes danced with sudden tears, “Elisa...!”
“Hi, Mom,” Elisa said as she stepped forward and embraced the woman. Her belly forced her to lean forward more than she had thought it would.
Diane Maza took a step back after a moment and put her trembling hands on Elisa's rounded belly. The last time she had seen her daughter, Elisa was barely clinging to life in a hospital bed after the car accident. They had spoken over the phone many times since, but her daughter had never indicated that she might be pregnant.
“How long? Who's....,” Diane could not seem to complete one question before another formed on her lips.
Elisa sighed and gave her mother a secret smile. “Another month, maybe two... There's something you need to know about this pregnancy....”
“So is he the father?” Peter came into the kitchen from the back of the house and motioned toward Goliath. He eyed the two of them suspiciously.
“Um...yeah, he is. Look, we don't know how it happened. It shouldn't have been possible....” Elisa stammered, trying to get it all out at once.
Peter sighed, shook his head and sat down slowly in his favorite recliner. “I know very well how it happened. The question is; why did it happen. I thought gargoyles and humans weren't genetically compatible.”
“Yeah, about that...,” Elisa began and her father cut her off.
“Oh damn,” the elder man sighed in resignation. “I should have.... Honey, your grandfather....”
“Dad, I know, but there's more going on here than you know. That's not the only reason I'm here tonight.” Elisa paused and took a steadying breath. “Goliath and I are planning a commitment ceremony, a wedding. We want you both to come..... We'd like your blessing.”
“This is a lot to swallow, Elisa. First you show up after months of hiding yourself away in that castle. Then you tell us you're pregnant with a half gargoyle hybrid....” her father said flatly.
“Two, actually... I'm having twins,” Elisa interrupted.
“What?” Peter hissed and leaned forward in his chair dropping his head into his hands. His sarcastic mutter was muffled. “This just keeps getting better every minute.”
“We're going to be grandparents, Peter!” Diane snapped at her husband and he looked up at her. “Does it really matter how?”
“Yes, Diane, it does. Derek, you know, our mutate boy... He will never have human children, if he ever has children at all.” he rubbed his hands over his face. “And Beth....”
“Peter! Don't!” Diane suddenly sobbed. The shear look of anguish on her face nearly enough to unhinge her daughter completely.
“Wait, what's wrong with Beth?” Elisa asked, a sinking feeling swamping her.
“You better sit down, Elisa.” Peter sighed sounding more tired than he ever had.
Elisa felt as if the floor was about to drop out from under her. Whatever had happened, she knew it was bad. No doubt, it would put a damper on the celebration that was being planned. Her mother watched her move around the counter and join her father in the living room. The tears of joy that had glistened in Diane Maza's eyes had become tears of sorrow.
Goliath, for his part, remained near the sliding glass door. He knew when not to meddle in human affairs. This was one of those times. Whatever had befallen the Maza family was a private concern. He would remain to support his mate, but he would not interfere. It was not his place to do so. Once he would have demanded to know what had happened. It was his nature as clan leader to insist on having such information. He had learned over the last couple of years that Elisa's family was delicate in a way that most human families were not. This was a house filled to the brim with tragedy and he did not wish to add to it. That was why he had asked Elisa to refrain from mentioning their lost child. It would do her parents no good at this time. Perhaps after the twins arrived, she might tell them.
Standing there just outside the ring of light that illuminated the kitchen, he watched and listened, a stoic darker shadow in the dark. Elisa's father spoke in hushed tones as he explained what had happened. Goliath's heart went out to them all as yet another tragedy played itself out in the Maza home.
“Beth was on her way home for something big.... She wouldn't tell us what.” Peter began and had to stop for a moment to collect himself. His face tried to crumple, but he forced out a breath and continued. “Her plane exploded just after takeoff.”
“Oh god....,” Elisa gasped and sank farther into her chair. Her heart was breaking. Beth had been on her way home to help with some of the details of the commitment ceremony. She would have been the maid of honor. Elisa's voice, when it finally came, was barely more than a whisper, “Were there any survivors?”
Peter closed his eyes and shook his head before covering his face. He had all but lost his battle to control his emotions for several long seconds. When he looked up at his eldest daughter, his eyes were red-rimmed, tears glistening on his cheeks. “The evidence suggests a terrorist attack.”
“Terrorists? From where?” Elisa asked in shock.
“We don't know for sure. Could be anybody with a grudge.” again Peter was at a loss.
It was too much. Elisa could not bring herself to ask her parents to come celebrate her bonding with Goliath in the face of her sister's death. The ceremony needed to be postponed. There was no way she could go through with it while her parents laid her sister, or rather the memory of her sister, to rest. Surely it could wait a few more weeks. She was not close to delivering her children yet if Dr. Sato's calculations were correct. They still had time.
By the time Goliath and Elisa had left her family home, they had her parents blessing and promise to attend the ceremony. Said ceremony would be postponed until Halloween. Goliath felt that was an appropriate date. Elisa had explained to them what the 'big thing' was that Beth had boarded that plane for. Her parents had decided that something good should come out of her tragic death. Elisa made another promise to her parents that night as well. She promised to see her brother, invite him to the ceremony and, if she must, beg him to bury the hatchet between himself and Goliath. The feud had gone on long enough. It was clear to all involved that Goliath was not at fault for Derek's mutation or inability to return to his human form. That had been solely Anton Sevarius' work and they now knew that the 'good' doctor was alive and well. There had been no cure after all.
Elisa snuggled in close to Goliath's chest as he glided toward the Eyrie. He knew she was not cold. The nights had yet to take on the crispness of fall. His mind turned toward events of his past. The moment when he had realized most of his rookery siblings were gone played across his mind. He knew what his mate was feeling all too well. Nothing he could do or say would lessen the grief in her heart. She needed time to come to terms with the loss. It was fortunate that he had suggested their commitment ceremony be postponed until the night of Halloween, little more than a month away. If Dr. Sato was correct, there might still be a week or two after the ceremony before Elisa would clutch. That was the term they had pinned to the coming event. She would, undoubtedly have to resume gargoyle form a few days before then. Her human body might not be able to pass the eggs even in their soft state.
Every night that passed drew them closer to that date. Goliath's heart squeezed with anxiety with the rising of the sun each morning. He would never have dared tell her how truly afraid of this clutching he had become. Fatherhood did not frighten him, he had been surrounded by his younger rookery siblings as a youngling. Losing Elisa, that was what nearly scared the life from his chest. There was always the chance that a normal, healthy gargoyle female might die during the clutching. He feared to think what could happen to a female who had been born human. Too much could go wrong even with the doctor present. There were times lately he had begun to wonder if mating her had been avoidable. True, she had left him little choice that first night.
Now Elisa mourned her sister. It seemed the Maza family was paying a great price for the magic that had been incorporated into Elisa's flesh. There was little doubt in Goliath's mind that a price was being exacted. He only hoped that his mate's life was not to be forfeited as well. He was fairly certain he could not live in a world where Elisa Maza did not exist. It had been entirely too close a number of times already. If he had known Puck's little secret at that moment, he might have cheerfully rung the trickster's neck.
Elisa was emotionally numb by the time they touched down in the castle courtyard. She was finding it hard to believe that her sister was really gone. Beth would not be attending her commitment ceremony. She would not be present for the birth of the twins. The number of events she would miss were countless. The detective could not help mentally watching them pile up in a great heap.
As soon as Goliath's feet had hit the flagstones, Elisa had attempted to escape his arms. He had refused to set her down. Instead, he ended up carrying her directly to their chambers. The night was still young, hours stretched out before dawn. It did not matter to Elisa. As soon as Goliath allowed her to escape his solid embrace, she had fled behind the door to the one sections of the rooms she yet to explore. He had put her down well past the bathroom.
Once behind that solid door, she sank to the floor and sobbed openly. She could hear Goliath outside that door from time to time. He did not linger there the entire night, but neither did he leave her completely alone. She heard others on the other side of that door through the night. Some spoke, some did not. She could not face any of them.
Sometime after dawn, she heard another outside that door, one she would never have thought would feel concern for her well-being; Fox Xanatos. She knew that woman would not take 'go away' as an answer. The woman also would not just force her way in either. Eventually she would whittle down Elisa's determination to remain hidden away. She had gotten good at that in recent weeks. The detective suspected it had something to do with her advancing pregnancy. Maybe it was the fact that Fox herself had been a mother now for just over a year and a half. Her experience was more advanced, however, given the nature of her son. After all, the boy had aged one year for every four months since his birth. Fox had worked her way up to a dealing with a child closer to five years old by this point.
“Elisa, sweetie, open the door,” Fox called softly.
Under any other circumstances, Elisa would have snorted in derision at the near sickening sweet tone of Fox's voice. The woman was not known for her sweet disposition. With little Xander, however, that tone had evolved from forced to sincere. There were times the only way to coax the child out of a hide-hole was to lay on the syrup. She supposed it must be a perk of motherhood.
“We can talk over breakfast,” another pause came along with a faint knock. “You need to eat something.”
It was true, she did need to eat soon. Her metabolism had ramped up through the roof with the twins on board. Her needs for food seemed to have doubled once she had returned to her human form. She wondered if that transformation had been a good idea after all. Even the doctor questioned the logic behind her choice.
Finally, after some consideration, Elisa opened the door. Goliath's stone form dominated the center of the room in his thinker pose. Fox stood just outside the door with a concerned look on her elegant features. A pinched smile spread across her face as she made eye contact with the detective.
“So where does that go?” Fox asked indicating the spiral stone stairs behind Elisa.
“I have no idea,” Elisa said cautiously.
“Well it doesn't matter right now. We can find out later. Right now, let's get some breakfast.” the redhead linked arms with Elisa and all but dragged her out of her hiding place. “I know this smart little bistro just this side of Queens with the most delicious lattes you've ever tasted.....”
“Damn....” Brooklyn mutter under his breath as he attempted to track the latest event with the TCT just after sunset. Events were moving fast now. Faster than the device could track, in fact.
Beth Maza, that was a factor Brooklyn had never planned for. Elisa's sister was not supposed to be on that plane when it exploded. He knew her future bloodline had just imploded. Her future husband, Tony Dracon might never reform now. Their children would never be. It saddened him. David Dracon had been one of the best human soldiers he had had the honor to fight along side in 2198. Now, with his great grandmother wiped from existence, the fierce man would never exist.
Brooklyn sighed and flicked a talon over the tip of his beak. How many more chains would this alternate timeline break? What new events might arise? What roles might Elisa and Goliath's hybrid twins play in the future? It was entirely feasible that the twins could play some major role in the coming war. The question that plagued him the most, however was Nicholas Natsilane Maza. The man was meant to grow to be the leader of the human/gargoyle resistance. With the twins, Elisa and Goliath might never adopt and raise his grandfather.
Running a hand over the back of his neck, Brooklyn realized he was developing a raging headache. There were too many variables involved in time travel. Too many things that might go wrong in a normal timeline. He could not even fathom the troubles an alternate timeline might create. Again, he had to wonder if the Phoenix Gate was truly finished with him or not. With all the chaos he knew must be brewing, he thought he might almost welcome the sight of the flaming bird if it were to suddenly swallow him once more.
More to come. Hold onto your butts, looks like it's gonna be a rough ride.
Winds of Change: Season Two
The golden dagger glittered faintly in the dim light as she looked it over. It would do, she realized. The perfect instrument of sacrifice. It was ancient, Maya, she believed. The dagger had once been an anointed instrument for such things. That made if perfect for her needs. She would be rid of the human and the abomination she carried with one fatal thrust of the weapon. The problem was, getting close enough to plunge the blade into the human's heart. That was the trick. She could not just waltz into the Eyrie and dispatch the woman. No, she must plan this event neatly. There was no room for mistakes. She would only have one shot and she did not mean to waste it. Time, that was what she needed. Time to plan. Time to make her move. Time was something that was growing short. Maza was nearing her clutching time. If she failed to destroy the abomination in her belly before it was clutched, she might be forced to make the attempt on the egg itself. That was, provided the woman clutched an egg at all. She had seen human babies, they were born live. If the monster Maza was trying to bring into the world drew breath, that alone might seal the fate of gargoyle kind. Her only real hope was to murder the human before that could happen.
Demona twisted her wrist slightly and watched the light play across the blade as if in a trance. She laughed faintly to herself as she imagined Maza's blood coating the blade and her hands. With the detective out of the way, she might finally acquire the second thing she coveted above all; Goliath. She would twist him, bend him to her will and make him hers once more. Without Maza to puzzle out the enslavement spell she had been working on, no one would be able to free him. He would be hers until the end of his days. She cared not if it destroyed his mind. His will would no longer be his own. She would use his body, his great strength, everything that he was to finally destroy the human race. Eventually, she might even breed him. After all, they had produced a strong daughter together. That would take time to sort out, however. Between the weird sister's gift of immortality and Puck's little 'gift', it had become impossible for her to carry an egg.
The half seductive laugh escaped her once more as she slowly twirled the dagger in the opposite direction. Perhaps she would merely use him to satisfy her desires. She would break him. The death of his beloved human would be the first step. Little by little Demona would break his mind until he was little more than an empty shell. It was no less than he deserved, after all. He had bred their destruction into existence. The clan should have put them both to death the instant the pair had tread into forbidden territory. That was how it had been done for centuries. Human and Gargoyle pairings were an abomination.
After Fox had managed to lure Elisa out, she did not give the detective time to consider hiding again. There were plans to be made, decorations to select, a dress to have tailored. After all, it was not every day that a commitment ceremony between a human and the leader of a gargoyle clan came along. It was a special occasion, entitled to lavish consideration. At least that was how Fox saw it. She kept Elisa busy, only allowing her to revisit her forlorn mood on the day of Beth's funeral. That day was Elisa's and Fox dared anyone to interfere with it. Once it was over, she swept Elisa back up into the festive planning.
Several times Elisa balked at the expense and every time Fox reminded her that David was footing the bill. On occasion she even winked at the woman in a inspiratory way. She could not help herself. She greatly enjoyed spending her husband's fortune. There was absolutely no way the two of them would ever be able to blow through his entire bank account. The only way she could see them ever coming close would be if the Eyrie was blown up. That was never likely to happen.
Between Fox and Elisa they selected colors that each of them thought best suited the occasion; black, cream, gold and everything in between. Flowers were ordered, garlands were purchased, a whole slue of dishes were arranged. The final touches were hiring the tailors that would create the actual wedding ensemble. Granted, the event was still weeks away, but Fox felt that if they got a head start on things, the even itself might run relatively smooth. At least that was her hope.
Most days, Elisa was too exhausted to wiggle let alone sink into a funk over her sister. Beth would have loved the whirlwind that was Fox on a shopping spree. Elisa...not so much. She longed to curl up with Goliath and forget the world even existed beyond the door to their chambers. Her feet hurt, her back ached and she decided that being pregnant was not the great carnival ride she had always imagined it to be. She was more than ready to be done with it. There were weeks of it yet left, however, and a wedding in between.
Sinking down into a heap on the loveseat before the fireplace, Elisa sighed in relief. Goliath knew how to pick a comfy piece of furniture, that was for certain. She blew out a breath and chased a stray strand of hair out of her face as she melted into the cushions. It had been a long day. Sunset was at least an hour away. She thought she might caught a nap before the clan woke for the evening. Goliath had something planned this evening and she wanted to at least be half awake for whatever it was.
Kicking off her boots, she snuggled down deeper into the corner of the loveseat. It felt good to do nothing for a few minutes. She let her mind wander and was surprised when it did not immediately turn toward her sister. Instead, she thought of the young gargoyle child in the rookery. The child was not growing as fast as Katana had indicated she would. Brooklyn seemed to think it had something to do with the timedancing they had done with her egg in tow. The doctor, on the other hand, said she was adapting to her current place in this time. He said her hormone levels fit the baseline of most of the modern Ishimura clan. She was healthy. That was what mattered most.
Elisa's eyes drooped closed as she thought of her twins. She wondered what they would be like. How long would they remain within those shells that were beginning to thicken? She had held off on considering names until the doctor had confirmed they stood a chance of surviving at this stage of her pregnancy. Now she thought of names. What would Goliath think of the names she was tossing around? Would he like them? Would he despise them? Did he have names in mind himself? Of that last, she doubted very seriously. In his time, gargoyles rarely had names. Their children, however, were of both worlds and in her world...people needed names.
Goliath was mildly disappointed when Elisa was not there to greet him when he awoke. Fox was with her son in the great hall. That meant Elisa was in the castle somewhere as well. The two had become inseparable over the last couple of weeks. He could not say he was best pleased by that turn of events, but it was Elisa's decision who she befriended. The gargoyle had and always would respect her choices.
The lavender behemoth reasoned that if his mate was not in the great hall or the library, she must be in their chambers. He made his way there quickly. The plans he had made this night would keep for a little while, at least. He could not help the grin that came to his face at the thought of those plans. Elisa, he suspected would be very pleased.
When he opened the door, he did not see her. Glancing around and checking the bathroom revealed that she had been there at some point. The door to the alchemy lab was still firmly closed and he highly doubted she would have hidden herself away in there now. Fox had been right in dragging her out when she had attempted to reject everyone. It irked him to admit that, but he could accept it.
Goliath was about to leave the room when he caught sight of a wisp of black hair draped over the arm of the loveseat. Quietly, he made his way around it and found Elisa snuggled down into the overstuffed piece of furniture. She was sound asleep and drooling on one of the throw pillows. He could not contain the smile that stretched his features at the sight of her. So small and so very pregnant and snoring softly. The thought of moving her to the bed crossed his mind, but she looked comfortable. Instead, he lowered himself to the floor and simply watched her for a time.
Elisa woke with a start and blinked the fuzziness of sleep from her eyes. It was late, her internal clock screamed that it must be well past midnight. She looked around sleepily and found Goliath leaning against one side of the fireplace, his nose deep in a book. Guilt crashed into her the moment she shifted and he did not seem to notice. She remembered he had some big surprise planned for her and she had probably slept through it.
Pushing herself up into a seated position, Elisa drew his attention with a sigh. “I'm sorry. I didn't mean to spoil your surprise.”
Goliath looked up at her, one large talon marking his place in the book, and smiled. “You were clearly exhausted and needed the rest. My plans can be arranged for another night.”
“Tell you what, let's just do it now, whatever it was. I'm awake now and you're not a lawn sculpture yet.” Elisa said brightly as she scooted toward the edge of the loveseat.
“Very well. I had thought to do this somewhat differently....” Goliath began as he rose up onto his knees before her.
Elisa watched him intently as he reached into the pouch he kept hidden beneath his loincloth. He seemed nervous as he pulled something out of the pouch. She thought she saw a small box of some sort tucked into his palm and her heart missed a beat. Her mind raced in that instant. They were about to commit to each other for life before their friends and family, but she realized he had never actually 'popped the question'. Was that what he was about to do now? She thought it a bit late in the game, but it was also so very endearing. So very Goliath, she thought with a sheepish smile.
"The path we have chosen has not been an easy one. We have made our way through many obstacles together, but I fear there may well be more along the way. I do not know what the future holds, but I now know that I cannot face it alone. I would have you at my side so that we may face the future together, as one...," Goliath said and opened his hand, exposing the small box that rested on his palm.
Yeah, Elisa thought as a smile spread across her face, that's what was missing through this whole thing. Delicately, she took the box and opened it. Her mouth dropped open at the sight that greeted her from within. The craftsmanship of the ring was unmatched. Clearly no expense had been spared in its making. Set into a gold band were two small gems. She realized almost immediately that they were birthstones. More specifically, hers and Goliath's.
Goliath's eyes followed her every move as she carefully took the ring out of its box and slipped it onto her finger. His eyes seemed to dance at that action. Somehow she thought he must have feared she would reject this token of his affection. Maybe he had feared she would reject him. She did not know how he could even consider that idea. Their commitment ceremony was mere weeks away. The twins would come shortly after. They were already a family in her eyes. Her thoughts skipped over that for an instant, like a hiccup. Memory of her harsh words to him one cold night surfaced and she knew in an instant why he might still harbor some insecurities.
Elisa threw her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek, his ear, even the sharp corner of his jaw. She wanted him to understand just how much this tradition had meant to her. He needed to realized how much he meant to her. Eventually she worked her way around to his lips. The kiss was slow and loving in its depth. The meaning not lost on the gargoyle in her arms. He had learned a great deal about human kisses in the time that they had been together.
Brooklyn tapped at the glowing red dots, dozens of them, on the TCT's holographic display and grumbled to himself. Demona had flagged as an anomaly now. Most of the clan and their friends had at this point. There was no longer any doubt in his mind, he was caught in an alternate timeline. The real question was; what sort of changes might it wrought in the future. He realized the only way to know for sure was to skip forward. Maybe a couple of hops, a few decades forward would provide the information he need. Those hops through time meant using the Gate and potentially tempting its master. The flaming bird had once been slave to the medallion. It could easily be provoked to anger if he was not careful. There really was no choice, he realized. The TCT was virtually useless at this point and he needed to know just how much damage control he might be looking at. He cursed softly as he slipped the Gate from the pouch he kept it in.
“What are you doing?” Katana demanded from the doorway. She had just stepped into their chambers as he was palming the Phoenix Gate.
“I....uh.....I need to check this out. If we're stuck in an alternate timeline, we need to know just how bad it might get.” Brooklyn stammered.
“And what do you hope to accomplish? The Gate's master might well devour you. At the very least, you could be lost in time. We would be separated,” Katana came forward and sadly reached out to cover the hand that held the gate. “maybe forever if you go this time.”
“I know, but....,” Brooklyn sighed in exasperation and glared at the medallion in his hand. He had never liked the thing anyway. “What do you want me to do, Kat?”
“I want you to stay with your family as you have always done. This timeline is not so bad. We might stay, make our life here, in this time.” Katana said, her head bobbing faintly forward with each point she made.
“And what about the future, the war? Humanity and gargoyle kind live or die with the outcome of that war.” Brooklyn grumbled. He did not have it in his heart to snap at his mate.
“Their fate is not our responsibility. It never was. The future is not written in stone, Brooklyn. You said yourself that Elisa never clutched a gargoyle hybrid and yet, she carries two. Might this not be the true timeline and the other an alternate? That device of yours sends up alarms if you squash a bug.” Katana laid it all out to him.
She was right, he knew she was. Her logic was always sound. It was one of the reasons he had fallen in love with her. Time was like a river, correcting against any obstacle in its way. Maybe the timeline that spawned the alien war was the alternate, after all. It had always seemed as if the space-spawn were a little too conveniently placed and far too content to put an end to everything. Maybe he should start tracking the 'normals' instead of the anomalies with the TCT. His luck might be better if he did.
Brooklyn gave the idea some serious thought and glanced up into his mate's pleading eyes. With a frustrated sigh, he slipped the Phoenix Gate back into its pouch. Nodding at her, he decided he would not skip now, at least not this night. It seemed to set the worry in her eyes at ease and he looped an arm around her neck to draw her into his embrace. He had tempted fate many times to set things along what he thought was the correct path. What if he tried this time and something went wrong? What if Katana was right? He could not bare the thought of leaving her behind if the Phoenix swooped in and snatched him again.
“Alright....” he sighed against her ear. “We do it your way, but if this timeline goes sour.....”
“I understand, my love. You will do what you must.” Katana nodded against his shoulder with a shuddering breath.
Puck virtually bounced around like a madman inside Owen's head as the first of the 'wedding' decorations began to arrive. At last one of the final conditions of Dracona's birth will be fulfilled, he thought excited. The time was drawing so much closer and yet there was still so much to be done. It was all Owen could do to keep the smile off his face.
Finally, he just gave in and began to whistle as he helped. The ceremony was still a few weeks away, but the castle's chapel would take time to make ready. It was one of the few places within the castle that had not been opened up after the 'move'. The repairs alone would take a week to complete. The construction crew had not been gentle with every piece of the castle as they had moved and rebuilt it. Then there was the cleaning, spiders loved an undisturbed room.
None of this served to bring Puck's mood down, however. His human persona fairly bounced as he inspected the progress of various projects. It was all coming together rather well. It seemed fate had chosen to be kind to them all for a change. He hoped it lasted. Disasters seemed to happen regularly to the clan and those around them. Rare was the moment that Puck indulged in any form of prayer, but in this he offered up just a single request; let their good luck hold awhile longer. He might be Fae, but he was not stupid. There was something bigger than them all out there, he was sure of it. That being orchestrated the balance. He rarely had need to acknowledge it, however.
A dim blue glow filtered around the occupant of the growth tank. The experiment was progressing beautifully. A matter of weeks, that was all that remained. The 'child' would be fully mature and absolutely obedient. The subliminal education program would see to that. Brainwashing, the man standing silhouetted against the tank smirked, it has its uses. He tapped a blinking light on the console near the tank absently. It seemed human baselines barely applied to this particular individual he had grown from the sample. This one had been the only one of its kind to survive. In the next room over the other specimens waited in sleep. They were nearly perfect this time. He had perfected his experiments over the years. This time, he had dialed the accelerated growth cycle back to nearly two years instead of mere weeks. There was marked improvement in pigment and biological function. He had to wonder; what might Thailog have been like if he had been allowed to mature as slowly. What might he have made of himself without Xanatos' insistent interference?
The door opened suddenly and blinding florescent light flooded the room to wash over the man's face. “They need you in tank room G, Pops!”
“Damn...” Sevarius grumbled and stepped into a fast walk, following Jackal down the hall.
As they entered the room, it was clear their was trouble with the clone. The big male thrashed about blindly, wings skittering off the inside of the glass. The creature was seizing, tail wiping around wildly, body arching with each spasm. They were going to lose him if the seizure was not brought under control. He would not lose the last clone from Goliath's sample. Not like this.
Sevarius rushed forward and pushed his assistant out of the way. He grabbed a vial and syringe from one of the cabinets that lined the room. The lessons had been hard earned, but he had learned them well. Each of the clones were attached to artificial umbilicals to better managed their biological responses. Those ports allowed direct access to their bloodstreams among other things. It took only a moment to administer the medication through one of the many ports on the outside of the tank. In a matter of seconds the seizure began to subside. The big male relaxed and his vitals slowly returned to normal.
The doctor glared at the tank for a moment as he noticed the streak of white that had developed in the sable hair above the left brow-ridge. He grumbled something about hair dye and left the room angrily. At least the beast had not perished as had the other three from Goliath's sample. He would not count his gargoyles until they were hatched, however. Dozens of clones had already been lost. The process had proven more difficult this time than it once had. He thought perhaps that had something to do with the facility. Last time, he had been in his own lab, on his own turf. Now he was ensconced within the Cyberbiotics building. True, these labs were much more sophisticated, but they lacked...something. He knew it must be that mad scientist, Frankenstein-ish kind of atmosphere that had always delighted him.
Hudson idly stroked his beard as he watched Brooklyn from the shadows. The brick red male had been behaving suspiciously over the last several nights. The elder knew the male possessed the Phoenix Gate. He had seen it in his hands the night he had nearly died at the hands of the Quarimen. To his way of thinking, that small trinket was bad news. He meant to see it disappear and without the brick red male attached. It worried him to consider the possibilities of Brooklyn's motives. Could he really be trying to alter some critical event? What was the other device so often in his hands? The elder did not know, but he was determined to find out. He meant to have a bit more information before he took the issue to Goliath. There was no use scaring up ghosts, after all.
Brooklyn dove into the currents of wind and headed in the direction of the second tallest structure in Manhattan; the World Trade Center. Hudson waited only a moment before he followed. Suspicious as the lad was acting, Hudson found he had little trust for him since the Phoenix had vomited him and his family up in the courtyard. The wonder was the trust that Goliath still imparted to him. In the elder's mind, this lad could be anyone wearing Brooklyn's face. They had all seen their share of clones and robots, after all. Who was to say that this male was truly their Brooklyn?
Brooklyn crept out into the courtyard after Katana left their chambers to attend Tachi. He could not leave it alone, that feeling of something being off, somehow wrong. Leaping into the wind currents, he headed toward the location of the next historical focal point. It would be big, the biggest in fifty years or more and there was no way to stop it. This was a fixed point in history, a turning point that would play out no matter what he did now. He had no idea he was being followed.
The Twin Towers loomed in the distance as he glided toward them. All the while, he checked the readout on the TCT. The coming event, at least, remained constant. That much he was sure of. The people in the surrounding area, however, did not. Minor changes, that was what he saw on the screen as he neared the first building. There were a multitude of minor changes, but nothing he could as having a huge effect on the distant future that occupied much of his thoughts lately.
Landing on the roof, he turned slowly with the device in hand. It sampled readings from all over the city. The red dots remained, but he ignored them. Those dots were the clan. Whatever was happening with them would sort itself out eventually. Time would correct what it must. He knew that from the meddling he had done in the past. No matter what he had managed to change, nothing had prevented the massacre. Nothing had prevented their millennia long nap. Those were focal points. Time flowed around them.
Brooklyn gasped as he brought the TCT level with the now distant top of the Eyrie building. The entire building seemed to shimmer on the device's small screen. That prompted him to pull up the full holographic display. Time moved on the screen. Events played out accordingly. The disaster struck, as it always did, but with one more target; the Eyrie building. The TCT tracked the events efficiently. The holographic interface allowing him to shift the images for the best vantage point.
The clan's second in command sank slowly to his knees as he saw the events play out on the holo-screen. True, those events were documented as a collection of still images, but the affect was devastating. The Eyrie building was destined to suffer the same fate as the World Trade Center. That building had never been affected before. The shielding Xanatos had installed when Oberon had come for Xander had always secured the building. It looked now as if that shielding might fail at some point in the near future. He would have to keep an ear to the ground and prepare for it. There might still be a chance to change what he had seen.
“I'm sorry, Kat,” Brooklyn whispered softly as he palmed the Phoenix Gate. “I gotta do this or we might not have a place to call home.”
Hudson frowned as Brooklyn palmed the Phoenix Gate and held it aloft. Whatever he had seen on that odd display had rattled him to the core. The elder kept to the shadows as the younger male spoke the invocation and disappeared in a ball of fire. So, he be playin' w'th time. Goliath be needin' to know abut this, Hudson thought in irritation as he lingered in the shadows a bit longer. He knew there was nothing to be done until the male returned from his dance through time. If he returned. Once he did, Hudson was sure Goliath would removed the Phoenix Gate from his possession. It might be a good idea to take the other gadget as well. Time might flow like a river, but even a river could be dammed. He feared to think what might happen if Brooklyn kept playing in the timestream. The damage he might do could lead to such a dam. It might even unravel the tapestry of existence. That very idea chilled Hudson to the core.
Goliath paced the great hall. He wanted to roar, to stomp, to beat something with his fists. Instead, he paced. Hudon's news had unsettled him to his hair. All this time, he had thought he could trust his second in command. Now he found that one of his oldest friends might be just as treacherous as his former mate. Who else, he thought savagely. Who else might I need to watch for betrayal? The very idea that any one of them might be capable... It dragged a deeply tired sigh from him as he pinched the bridge of his nose between thumb and index. He could not jump to conclusions. There had to be a reasonable explanation for Brooklyn's continued meddling with time. He intended to get that explanation even if he had to ring it out of the older male. Even now it still did not seem as if the male could be so much older than himself. The scars, the age on his face, the missing eye, they all spoke to the age, wisdom and experience the other clearly had. Why then, Goliath wondered, is he not exercising it? Maybe he was. It was hard to guess at what the other might know.
Turning toward his mentor, Goliath merely shook his head. He could not, would not condemn Brooklyn until he knew for certain what the other was up to. The thought struck him that Katana might know. After all, she had gone to Hudson with some vague concerns for her mate. She was the very reason Hudson had been lurking in the corridors. The elder had intended to speak to her about her fears. He had happened to be in the right place at the right time to catch Brooklyn leaving. It still seemed as if Hudson had been spying on Brooklyn. The idea would almost be laughable if the other male had not been caught 'red-handed', as it were.
“Very well,” Goliath finally said, making a decision that rubbed him the wrong way. “if he returns, he does not leave the castle until I have spoken with him.”
Goliath did not wait for an answer as he turned and stormed out of the great hall. He needed some air and the night was still young. Elisa had been curled into her new favorite spot on the loveseat when he had left their chambers. She was asleep and he did not begrudge her the rest. His children would grow stronger with every moment of rest their mother stole. So he had allowed her to remain oblivious to the drama playing out within the castle walls once more. She would not miss him in her sleep if he left on patrol. After all, he had been neglecting that particular duty for some time now.
Slowly he made his way to the parapets of his tower and gazed out into the night. The city below was quieter this late, but there was still a distinctive hum overlaying it. His city, his protectorate and he had neglected it since Demona had all but destroyed his left wing. Now that he was fully recovered, it was time to resume his patrols. The wind caught at his wings and teased his hair. He breathed in and felt a simple joy in the feeling. There would be time enough to worry about Brooklyn and his timedancing later. Now he would simply enjoy the freedom of the sky.
Goliath hopped up on the parapet and stood there for a moment enjoying the wind. It had been too long. He had barely taken to the skies alone since he and Elisa had begun chasing each other across New York. His wing had proven itself sound during those flights, but she had been there to offer assistance just in case. She would not be with him this night. He meant to allow her the rest she so greatly needed.
Inhaling slowly, Goliath launched himself into the night. His wings stretched taught as he glided around the Eyrie. He paid no heed to where the currents carried him. This flight was purely for the joy of it. If the wind carried him along the route of his normal patrols, so be it. He had every intention of losing himself for in the night skies for a time. His head and heart needed to be clear when he confronted Brooklyn. He had no doubt that the brick red male would return.
The plot thickens. The Winds of Change are swirling ever faster. What does Brooklyn hope to accomplish with the Phoenix Gate? Where in time is he planning to go? What's up Sevarius' sleeve and how might it affect the clan? Has Demona's mind finally snapped? What is she planning to do with that dagger? All this and more to come in the next chappters.
Brooklyn has been snatched by the Phoenix. What damage might be done? Goliath and Elisa continue to prepare for their commitment ceremony as well as the arrival of their twins. The Winds of Change are whipping into a tempest now.
We are rapidly nearing the end of season two. I hope everyone is enjoying the story so far. The characters are determined to derail the outline I so carefully planned, but that is their prerogative. It is their story, after all.
Winds of Change: Season Two
The Phoenix did its level best to burn Brooklyn alive as they raced through the timestream. The creature raged and screamed at him, twisting almost as if in pain. He knew the Phoenix and time were inextricably bound together. Maybe it was in pain. Time did seem to be in a state of flux, after all. He willed the creature to take him to the 9/11 focal point, but it balked and shied away. Dread threatened to overwhelm him as he realized he was once more completely at the beast's mercy. It wrapped its wings around the bubble of time that protected him and clawed at the invisible barrier screaming its displeasure.
“Well, that's just great!” Brooklyn muttered half under his breath. He knew the creature would take him where it willed. That might not be exactly where and when he wanted to go.
Delilah glared death at Thailog as he swaggered into the room. She jerked at her chains for perhaps the thousandth time to no avail. He ignored her, as always. It would not be long now, she would clutch his bastard. He had forced that on her. His team of doctors had worked tirelessly to be certain she was not sterile due to her unique nature. The drugs they had pumped her full of had taken time, but eventually they had triggered her breeding season. False season or not, it had proven to be a fertile one. She had sat in chains for months now awaiting the clutching. Once she might have chosen him to be the father of her children. He was strong, healthy and clearly virile. She might even have accepted him as her mate. Not now, not after what he had proven himself to be. He was the complete opposite of Goliath; ruthless with a total disregard for anyone but himself. She knew Goliath was not like that. It had been her hope to ignite a relationship with him the night of the masque, but he had made it clear that he was not interested. He was hopelessly in love with the human detective, the woman whose face she wore. She had understood though it saddened her. It had angered her briefly to believe he might have been using her to make the detective jealous.
When Thailog appeared and left Goliath in a bleeding heap, she had thought to fight. It had been a fruitless effort. Thailog's strength was far superior to her own. He had overwhelmed her effortlessly. The brute had bound her hand and foot before carrying her off into the night. The last she had seen of the leader of the Manhattan clan had not been good. The male was bleeding out on the floor of the great hall. He must be long dead by now. She was certain no one could survive losing that much blood. It was a pity that his human would never know just how much he loved her.
Now Delilah brooded over the idea of escape. She knew her egg would be safe enough once it hardened. Thailog would see to that. He meant for his child to survive and so he would protect it. The child within was not at fault for its means of conception. Gargoyle children came few and far between, at any rate. They were too precious to sacrifice.
Ten years, that was the time frame she was dealing with over the egg. At least she hoped it would develop over a normal period of time. Since both parents were clones and she being a mix of human and gargoyle, there was no real indication as to how long the wait would be. If it followed a normal gestation then she might even find a way to retrieve it before it hatched. She would deprive Thailog of the one thing he had been able to force from her. He had intended to take her as his mate in a more traditional way, but she had refused him. The thought had never crossed her mind that he might do something so heinous.
Puck was aware that Brooklyn had skipped out of the current timeline. The idea that the time-displaced gargoyle might interfere with his plans infuriated him. His hands were effectively tied, however. By Oberon's order, none of Avalon's children were permitted to breach the barriers of time with their own magic. This was the very reason the Phoenix Gate existed at all. It had been an instrument of Avalon ages before the Archmage ever dreamed of acquiring it.
When Goliath sent it mindlessly spiraling through time, Puck was sure he had seen the last of it. He had never dreamed the shackled beast held within it might one day come forth and snatch Brooklyn for a merry chase through time. It seemed the gargoyle had been needed at key points in time to ensure certain events played true. Now, however, he considered Brooklyn's recent activity rather inconvenient. The gargoyle was meddling in events he had no hope of comprehending. Centuries of carefully laid plans might well culminate in disaster if Brooklyn stuck his beak into the wrong place and time. Puck could not allow that.
Xander, his star pupil, might well be able to assist him in his current dilemma. The boy was watching and listening to everything, after all. He might well be the key to tracking down the clan's rogue second in command. There was a very good chance that the boy was not completely bound by Oberon's law due to his hybrid nature. He could not risk Maza, powerful as she might one day become. No, Dracona must be born at the appointed hour. That event was far too delicate now. With Brooklyn and the Guardian of Time gallivanting through the ages, he knew he needed to take action.
Xander watched and listened. There was real concern in the voices of the adults this night. Young though he was, his mind was maturing faster than his body. Such was the nature of a half Fae. His body would catch up soon enough. In the last days, he had had another growth spurt. Right now, however, he was tossing around ideas to help the clan. His magic might well come in handy sooner than Puck had ever dreamed it would.
It came as no surprise to the boy when his uncle came to him. He had attempted to put the situation before the boy delicately. It was not necessary. Xander knew what his uncle was trying to protect. He knew the Timedancer might well prove an indirect danger to the twins his Auntie Elisa carried. Something had to be done and he had a pretty good idea of what that something was. His uncle was right about one very important thing, he was not bound by Oberon's law as securely as the others of his ilk.
"You have to stay here, Uncle Puck," Xander said in the matter of fact tone that only a five year old could pull off. "I got this."
"That's my boy. I knew you were the clever sort. What will you do?" Puck practically bounced around the room in his excitement.
“I gotta find Uncle Brooklyn before he does something really bad.” Xander stated calmly.
Brooklyn called it timedancing, Xander called it time-skipping. It had been called many different things over the centuries, but one constant remained. It was still like rewinding or fast forwarding a tape. It was not an exact science and it could take several attempts to hit the right spot. Luck held some sway. The strength of the will behind the concentration was the real key.
Puck watched Xander's young face skew up in a stern look of concentration. He felt the pin-prickling sensation of tremendous amounts of energy swirling around the room. Then, in a flash of green, the boy disappeared. He would be attempting to track the gargoyle's currently position in time. If all went accordingly, he would retrieve him and return with him. It might all be a matter of minutes for Puck. It could be years for Xander and the gargoyle. There was no telling what damage might be done before they returned. The seconds ticked by slowly.
Brooklyn landed hard on the crumbling pavement of a wide street. The Phoenix screamed its fury and evaporated on a scorching wind. The medallion dropped to the ground with a clang as it wobbled then lay still.
Sighing tiredly, Brooklyn bent and picked it up. As always it was almost painfully warm to the touch after the dance through time. He wondered where and when exactly it had dropped him. Looking around, he gasped in horror at the ruins that surrounded him. The Eyrie building, he realized, or at the foot of what was left of it. Barely ten floors up the building had been sheared off. The remains of the upper floors lay across the deserted street. It had crashed into the buildings on the other side of the road and brought them down as well. The damage looked old. Maybe decades old.
After a moment of digesting the scene, Brooklyn took to the air and began following its path of destruction. It did not take long to find the castle, or what remained of it. The clan's home, his home, had been reduced to so much rubble. When, he wondered. How long ago? Was anyone in the building when it collapsed? Questions, so may questions with little to no answers flooded his mind. He realized those very questions might be the reason the Phoenix had brought him to this point in time.
Exploring as much of the ruins as he could, Brooklyn prayed the clan had not been bound in stone sleep when this had happened. The hope was that the building had come down during the night while they were awake. Katana, Gnash and Tachi were foremost in his mind. Goliath and Elisa crowded in for good measure. Most mornings, he knew, Hudson could be found at Maria's. If the rest of the clan was gone, maybe he still remained. The elder might have the answers to Brooklyn's questions.
There were no sirens, no car engines, not a single sound from any device. It was then that it struck him just how utterly silent, and dark, it was. He glanced up and saw the devastatingly beautiful star fields he had grown up with. What once had awed him now produced a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. That star field was only visible in areas where there was little to no light pollution. Manhattan was the capital of light pollution.
"What the hell happened?" Brooklyn asked softly of the silence in bewildered shock. He never expected to get an answer.
"You disrupted the timestream at a critical point. It set off a paradox that nearly destroyed all life on Earth." came a male voice that was clearly not yet fully mature.
Brooklyn searched around him for the source and found a figure emerging from the deep shadows at the edge of the castle rubble. As he came closer, the gargoyle was able to pick out a few telltale features. A human boy, but very near to manhood. As he examined the features, the red hair and the set of his jaw, he realized this boy could only be one person.
"Xander?" Brooklyn frowned and breathed in disbelief.
"Yeah....." the teen said tiredly as he rubbed a hand across his brow. "Look, we gotta go fix what you fucked up."
"Excuse me?" Brooklyn grumbled in confusion.
"C'mon! You stuck your beak somewhere it didn't belong and this happened!" the boy indicated with a great sweep of his arm. “What more evidence do you need that Goliath was right? He told you the Phoenix Gate was too dangers, but you kept it anyway. This is what that choice has wrought!”
“What do you know about what happened here? I'm guessing you're not my timeline's Xander, are you?” Brooklyn asked suspiciously.
“I know this is just one of many possible paths your beloved Time Coordinates Tracker could force us down. That thing is malfunctioning, Brooklyn. It's been time-displaced too long and it's reacting badly to the Phoenix. They have to be kept separate or the TCT will bleed the Phoenix dry.” Xander said with a great many emotions spilling over into his young voice.
“Are you saying that the TCT caused this?” Brooklyn's mind was slow to catch on. One of the many side effects of time traveling, he supposed.
“Haven't you been listening? Gah.... Why did the Guardian of Time choose you to be its champion if you can't even comprehend temporal causality?” Xander breathed in frustration. The boy took a moment to compose himself before launching into another explanation. “Your wonder device has been showing a number of anomalies, has it not?”
“You could say that.” Brooklyn nodded.
“And you never questioned whether those anomalies were legitimate?” Xander asked as if the gargoyle were a child.
“I just assumed,” Brooklyn said slowly as a look of horror crossed his face. “I haven't done anything yet.....”
“No, but you will, at another point in time,” Xander looked around as a wind began to kick up. “Think before you act, Brooklyn.”
“Damnit!” Xander snarled viciously as the Phoenix screamed its way into existence and swallowed the gargoyle up. He had been so close this time. It had taken him nearly four years to track the gargoyle down. The worst part was, Brooklyn had not yet created the paradox. Warning the gargoyle of the causes of the event was the best he could do. There had not been enough time. Brooklyn knew only that the TCT was directly connected. He was not aware of the rest. The boy had not been prepared for how quickly the Phoenix would return for the object of its torment.
Xander felt the tug of time about him. He knew he needed to return to his own time very soon. The pieces were beginning to fall into place as he passed through time as an observer. He was needed in his own timeline, but it was not yet urgent. There were still things he must do to ensure certain events played out according to the glimpses he had seen of Time's Tapestry. His thread needed to advance just a little further before he could be of use. Another year time-displaced, that was all he could afford. That was how much longer he needed to remain. He must be just a little older and wiser before he attended the wedding. Time's Tapestry had shown him that much. There was also the hope of catching Brooklyn just once more before time attempted to implode. The event was drawing nearer, he could feel the taint of it in the currents that tugged at him.
Breathing a tired sigh of frustration, the boy stepped into the shadows and faded away from the devastated timeline once more. There had to be a way to prevent the destruction. He knew there had to be. There was so much more to be done. So much more he needed to tell Brooklyn. He prayed it was not already too late.
“Oh crap......” Brooklyn rumbled as the Phoenix screamed its way through the tear in time and swallowed him up once more. He had been so close to the answers he had been looking for. The boy, Xander. It seemed he had those answers and the Phoenix had ripped him away from the place he might have gotten them. He was not entirely convinced that the much older Xander was, in fact, the one from his own timeline. Experience had taught him there were multiple timelines flowing out from any given point. True, most of those points were focal points. Each contained a series of choices, those made and those unmade. For each event, the choices made would determine the main timeline. The unmade choices were the alternate timelines. Each of those lines converged with each new focal point. This was how the force that wove time's tapestry managed and maintained stability. The 'weave' was intricate and complex with a delicate balance.
Now Brooklyn hurtled through time with the Phoenix screaming and tearing at the bubble he rode within once more. He closed his eyes and allowed the facts to sink in at long last. Katana was right. He was lost in time once more, but this time without his family. How long would he remain lost in time? How many decades? Would he die in some distant future? To never see Katana again, that would be the ultimate price for his folly. There would be no one to perform his wind ceremony, no one to care. If the future looked like the last point in time he had landed in, he doubted there would be anyone alive to notice. Those were the grim thoughts that plagued him as the Phoenix raced through the timestream.
Sevarius flashed the pin light before the clone's eyes. Pupil response was next to perfect as were the rest of her vitals. She sat on the stool watching him intently as he crossed the room. He could feel her eyes on him. The clone was so very much like her. His second successful human specimen. After Jackal, he was certain the process would be simple. It had not proven so with her. There was something more about her. Something decidedly other. He was convinced she was not entirely human. That would explain why the cloning process had failed so many times with the original sample.
“Do you know what you are, my dear?” Sevarius asked the woman.
The clone sat silently staring at him, a frown appearing on her face. “I'm a copy.”
“That's right. You are a clone.....human and.....something more. Do you know what it is?” Sevarius asked softly. Clones tended to frighten easily during their first few days of life.
“Green fire in here,” she tapped her temple, “but I can't touch it.”
So at least a drop of Fae blood, Sevarius thought. That's certainly unexpected. I thought the Fae were merely folklore. When Sevarius held Elisa Maza within the facility all those months, he had suspected there was Fae somewhere in her lineage. His last creation from her tissue had not be nearly so hard to maintain. So what's different now? How could she have changed so much? The clone before him had been the only one from Maza's newest sample to survive. It had taken salt to neutralize the effects of the iron in vat's nutritional solution. This one had barely survived at any rate.
“Do you know your purpose?” he asked as he squatted down before her.
“To serve you.” she answered.
Sevarius nodded. Simple answers were the best he could expect for the time being. She had been out of her tank for barely more than an hour. Her cognitive functions would improve in a matter of days. For now, it was enough that she knew her place. He could not have the iron will from her source material come to the forefront. If it did, he might well lose control of this clone. He would be forced to put her down if it came to that. There would not be another incident such as Delilah. This one was far too valuable to him alive.
Finally, Sevarius thought it was safe to leave her alone in the room. Everything she needed for the next few days was in that room. She would work on hand-eye coordination a few hours a day during her waking hours. In a week, she might be ready for her first outing.
The other clones were a bit more complex. They needed to learn to glide. As luck would have it, Fang had returned to the fold. He could teach them all they needed to know about gliding. That would take a bit more time. Their wings would be weak and in need of a great deal of training. Goliath's clone was likely to need the most attention given his greater stature. There was plenty of time, however, for him to learn and build wing strength. The trouble was the white streak that had appeared in his hair during his last brush with death. It would be noticeable within a few weeks of coloring it. The clone might not care to hide it even with the education program's influence. For now, the gargoyle clones continued to sleep.
“He has not returned? He was gone mere seconds the last time the Phoenix Gate swept him up.” Goliath grumbled, an edge of worry in his tone.
“Aye an when it dropped 'im in the courtyard, it be af'er some forty years. How long will de beastie be keepin' him dis go 'round?” Hudson asked. He was thinking of the young gargoyle who had been swallowed up by the Phoenix barely a year ago only to return forty years older and with a family.
“I wish I knew, old friend,” Goliath sighed in frustration. “Who knows what damage might be done. The consequences of meddling with time may be far reaching indeed.”
“Th're be somet'in' else ye need to nu, Goliath,” Hudson began cautiously. He was not sure how to tell his leader about the device he had seen their second with.
“And that is?” Goliath prompted, his voice deepening with weariness.
“The lad be toyin' with some gadget.... It cast strange images in de air like a television.” Hudson finally stated. He was not sure exactly how to describe what he had seen. Unlike the rest of the clan, he was not very tech-savvy.
“I have never seen such a device, but I doubt anything good will come of it.” Goliath said thoughtfully.
“Aye, lad, I thought as much meself.” Hudson muttered.
“Perhaps Puck can shed some light on this turn of events. I loathe the very idea of asking for his help, yet it may come to that.” Goliath grumbled as he headed out of the great hall.
“It may be that he be willin' to put forth de answers if we both confront him,” the elder said quietly as he fell in line behind his leader.
Owen looked up from his desk as the two gargoyles entered the office. Uh-oh, Goliath's on a crusade, the Puck within him thought irritably as the withering frown on the clan leader's face swept over him. True to form, he maintained the bland expression he had perfected so long ago when he had first adopted the persona. It was nearly second nature and he caught himself displaying it on his true face from time to time.
“May I help you, gentlemen?” his voice was as bland as plain oatmeal. Again a long practiced quality that completed the persona of Owen Burnette.
“None of your games, Puck. I want answers,” Goliath barely restrained the anger in his voice.
“And what makes you think the Puck has the answers you seek?” Owen asked as he tapped a stack of papers into order.
“The Phoenix Gate,” Goliath breathed the words in a nearly contempt. He remembered well how much the trickster had wanted the medallion during the world tour.
Owen's head snapped up with interest. He fought to contain the Puck within. There were a great many answers just below the surface. Surely Goliath must see them in his eyes. He would always desire the Phoenix Gate even if he might never obtain it. If he had known Brooklyn possessed it, he might well have begged him for it. Now there was a very good chance that it was lost in time, maybe forever.
“Neither I nor Puck have it.” the answer was bland as ever. He was proud of himself.
“Brooklyn has it. It has swept him into the timestream once more,” Goliath leaned on his knuckles on the desk and brought his face close to Owen's. “Do you know where, or rather, when it has taken him?”
“Has anybody seen Alexander? He's not in his room. I don't think he's been there for a few days,” Lexington asked stepping into the room and frozen when he saw Goliath glaring at Owen.
“I thought you were watching over him, Lexington,” Goliath turned his glare on the green web-winged male.
“Yeah, but he's older now and he likes to play games,” Lex stammered.
“Young Xander has gone after Brooklyn. As to the 'when', I'm afraid I don't have that information.” Owen stated calmly.
“What.....,” Goliath drew the angry shocked word out as he swung back to Owen.
“Ye mean to say ye 'ave sent a child into harm's way...?” Hudson was beside himself with incredulity.
“I assure you Xander is in no danger. If he were, I would not have sent him. As he is no ordinary child, there is much he might do to prevent further damage to the timestream.” Owen's voice had the quality of warm milk. The tone served its purpose, it was infuriating Goliath.
“I should toss you off the highest parapets!” Goliath snarled. “Does Xanatos know what you have done? Does Fox or Titania, for that matter?”
Owen blinked and visibly paled at the mention of the Queen of Avalon. He had not considered what she might make of her only grandson traipsing through time hunting the time-displaced gargoyle. Of course, he would never admit that to Goliath. Not wise to add more fuel to that fire, in his opinion. It was clear the gargoyle was going to worry that bit of information like a bone.
“Alright, fine!” Owen snapped, the oatmeal tone completely vanished as he snapped his fingers. An instant later Puck sat in the majordomo's place, the human persona's glasses sliding down the bridge of his nose. “I sent him to retrieve the Gate. It's just an added perk if he grabs Brooklyn with it. Maybe it will improve his disposition. He's been such a grump since he brought that gadget back with him.”
“What gadget?” Lexington asked softly.
“Oh, you know, just your run of the mill time anomaly tracker thingy.” Puck all but danced in his seat as he spilled that tidbit of information.
Goliath raised up to his full height with an animalistic snort, his anger barely contained. It took him precisely five heartbeats to put the pieces together, “I refuse to believe that this is an alternate timeline.”
“Oh, no...no, no, no,” Puck chuckled and stood in his office chair, “This isn't the alternate timeline, gargoyle. We're racing headlong toward the crux that splits time into fragments. A paradox, if you will.”
“Ye're makin' no sense, lad,” Hudson grumbled in exasperation.
“An event is coming, a place in time so significant that every reality splintering off from it will be forever marred with its ashes.” Puck spoke solemnly, the awe in his demeanor nothing like the normally jubilant trickster.
“What is this event? When will it occur?” Goliath asked, a note a desperation in his voice. It was clear that his mind had latched onto this bit of information like a steel trap. Anxiety, like shards of glass, pierced his heart and he wondered again if he was doing the right thing with Elisa. Could the event be their commitment ceremony? Was it the birth of their twins? He did not know and not knowing would surely drive him mad.
“Two years from now, give or take a few months. You'll know, trust me.” Puck eyed Goliath thoughtfully for a moment before adding, “You worry too much, Gruesome.”
“It is my right to worry for those I am charged to protect,” Goliath snapped at the irritating Fae.
“Tsk, tsk, so testy. Have you considered indulging in something recreational to stabilize those mood swings?” Puck purred.
Goliath glared at the trickster through narrowed eyes. His voice was little more than an animal growl as he turned to leave. “Call your protege home, if you are able. I have no doubt there will be severe consequences for your actions if you fail.”
Puck watched the gargoyles exit the office with a whimsical smile. It fell off his face the instant the door slammed behind them. They really know how to spoil my fun, the thought was little more than a whine. He was sure Titania would not be best pleased if something happened to her only grandson. Even Dracona would not be able to protect him from her wrath. Fox was really the wildcard in the mix, however. Wildfire talent, unable to tap at will, who knew what sort of misdirected, anger driven magic she might throw at him. He decided he did not wish to find out.
Winds of Change: Season Two
Xander walked among the shadows of the dead, the dying and the injured. They did not see him. His passage was little more than a wisp of smoke upon the breeze. He would have stopped and offered what little help he could, but this was merely a memory of time. The thread he had followed, Brooklyn's thread, had lead him to a war zone. Was this some war of the distant past or was it something yet to come? He did not know, but he prayed he never saw its like. When he slipped the bonds of his own time, he was merely a boy. Now he was nearly a man grown.
Five long years of time-skipping had taught him much more than his mentor ever could have. Xander had seen things that would freeze the very blood in the veins of most. History lessons on the fly, lessons in cause and effect, he had learned them all from the very fabric of time. He had even learned how to properly track a time-displaced gargoyle. Too bad he would be unable to prevent the damage the male had already done. Time had taught him that lesson as well. The disastrous attacks of 9/11 would happen, thousands would die and he could do nothing to prevent it. He had been unable to prevent Brooklyn from interfering with the extremist group that had triggered it. If the gargoyle ever guessed his actions could bring about such destruction, he might have taken his own life. A gargoyle's sole purpose was to protect, after all.
Harrowing images plagued Xander's nightmares of things yet to come. He had lived the events as they had unfolded during this chase. Brooklyn had been scooped up by the Phoenix sometimes minutes or even days before the fruits of his interference could be seen. Xander would be forced to live many of those events again. Some were a few years off from his appointed place in time.
Tracking the thin thread of distorted time, Xander ran behind a tank sporting a swastika. That certainly put a bead on the era he was dealing with. His presence in the timeline was solidifying. He needed to find Brooklyn fast, before he screwed with these events as well. The gargoyle seemed to think he truly was Time's Champion as he meddled with each event the Phoenix dropped him in. Xander had tried to explain it to him. He had tried to tell Brooklyn that he was meant only to be an observer. Time was not as immutable as Goliath had imagined it to be at all. Small events could be changed and as a result, they affected larger events in a chain-reaction befitting cascading dominoes. There was no such thing as damage control where Brooklyn was concerned. It had become necessary to neutralize him....one way or another.
The gargoyles must be abandoned somewhere in time, the Phoenix Gate stripped from him and the Phoenix itself drawn away from him. Xander thought it best to strand him in his own time. He could do no real damage there. If all else failed, he might be forced to eliminate Brooklyn. That was his absolute last resort, however. He did not wish to entertain the idea of possibly killing one of his mentors. If it must come to that, he would do it as quickly and gently as possible.
Brooklyn knew Xander was hunting him. The Phoenix had whisked him away before he could see the results of what the boy had called the most tragic event in American history. He had a feeling that he did not wish to see that event. If luck and time were on his side, he might well skip over it entirely. Part of him wondered, however, could he really be causing more damage to the timeline he meant to protect? He hoped not. The alternative did not bare thinking on. What more could he do, or not do, as Xander had suggested when the Phoenix dropped him in the middle of crisis points. He was beginning to rethink his presence at some of those key points. Histories he had learned after the awakening in Manhattan were coming into question now as he hid from a Nazi squadron. He knew certain things during this war absolutely must take place or it would irrevocably change the future he knew. How much of the future, the distant future, had he already inadvertently changed? He did not know and not knowing was the very thing that forced him to consider Xander's words. There were too many variables, after all. The TCT was not working properly, had not been working for quite some time now.
Five years, it already felt like a lifetime. The Phoenix had snatched him up multiple times and deposited him at random points. None of them seemed to make sense this time. Not like they had during his forty year dance through time. Now it seemed the Phoenix was bent on destroying time itself. Maybe it was. After all, time was the very thing that bound it to the Gate. The Gate was bound to time. It was an endless loop. The Gate was the beast's prison and it wanted free. What better way than to destroy the very thing that bound the Gate?
Once the squadron had passed to a safe distance, Brooklyn darted out of his hiding place and ran for a half destroyed building. He had seen a lot of war torn times, but he thought World War II might have been of the worst. The Nazis rounded up people by the hundreds and herded them into crematoriums to be burned alive. It was the smell that lingered in his sinuses. The screams would haunt his nightmares for the rest of his life, he was sure of it. The worst part was that he knew he could not interfere with these events. They must run their course or the future, his present, would be forever changed. Some of those changes might not be for the best. So he ran and hid when he needed to.
The war-torn world around him pleaded for his help. He could have offered it and yet if he did his world might cease to exist. That was not a path he was willing to tread upon at this point. At least not after his last confrontation with Xander. The boy had been powerful as a child. He was even more so as a man grown. It still shocked him how fast Xander had grown. The boy was three-quarters Fae. He supposed that must have something to do with it.
That last confrontation had been nightmarish. Xander had seemed bent on destroying him. He had called forth lightning, wind, and torrential rain. The boy had blocked him at every step. He had even attempted to send him spiraling aimlessly through time. Anything, he realized, to prevent him from meddling more with the flow of time. The proverbial gloves were officially off. There was no telling what Xander might do during their next encounter. So now he ran and hid.
The hope in hiding was to allow events to pass him by with no knowledge of his presence. He could hope that would allow those events to flow unaltered. Xander had indicated as much on several occasions. Brooklyn now wondered if the boy would let him be if he followed those instructions. He supposed there would be no real reason to eliminate him if he was not tampering. That was something, at least.
Demona rocked in on the roof of Nightstone bathed in moonlight. She was not entirely sure how she was going to get into the castle unnoticed, but she knew that she must. The prophecy mentioned some sort of commitment ceremony between the parents of Dracona's vessel. It was a critical condition that must be met before the monster's birth. She meant to prevent it from coming to pass. The golden dagger would be the instrument of Dracona's destruction. Maza would die at her hands while she carved the abomination from her belly. It as a win-win in her eyes. She would be rid of the her most hated adversary while saving her race from the destruction Dracona might well bring to all of the world. It would take time, but she would find a way to be rid of the rest of humanity soon enough.
Time, there was so little of it. Maza was already nearing her time. The abomination she carried would be born in a matter of weeks. She wondered if it would be a live birth. Humans gave live birth, after all. Rumor had it, however, that the woman might clutch an egg due to the child's unique nature. If that were so, then the egg might be stolen if her attempt failed. She would destroy the egg if she could not destroy the mother, in that case. It would be best, however, to destroy them both. She knew that so long as Maza drew breath, there might well be another abomination, another chance to bring forth the Destroyer. It must end the night of the ceremony, she realized. There was no alternative.
Brooklyn stopped at the top of the damaged building and gasped. Xander stood before him in a winding column of green flame. There was no mistaking the murder in the young man's eyes. It was clear, from his actions, that he was reluctant to commit to the act, however. The brick red gargoyle knew he could use that to his advantage. If he could reach the boy, make it clear that he had no intention of continuing to interfere with the timeline, then maybe the boy would reconsider. It was a long shot, but it was the only shot he had. He was tired of running, tired of being chased and tired of hopping through time. Brooklyn just wanted to go home.
Xander had come to realize there was only one way to break the link between Brooklyn and the Phoenix; the gargoyle must die. Only in death would the beast release him. He fervently wished there was another way, any other way. There was none that he could see. It must be done and it must happen before the Phoenix whisked him away again. There was no telling how long it would take to find him again. That was why he was prepared when the gargoyle rushed up the side of the building and onto the roof. It had to be done quickly, before he had time to think it through. He did not think he could do it if he examined the act too closely. No matter what happened afterward, he would carry that stain on his soul for eternity.
“Time's up,” Xander snapped. There was clearly a sad note in his voice.
Brooklyn gasped, skidding to a halt as the young man thrust his hands out toward him. There was no time to think, no time to act. The bolt of energy hit him square in the chest. He felt his heart stop. Pain drown out thought as his legs crumpled. He hit the rooftop nervelessly as a black ring squeezed his vision to nothingness.
It was done. The Phoenix screamed its way into the timeline and shrieked at the motionless gargoyle. It turned its attention on Xander and shrieked again. Xander was ready for it. He had snatched the Gate up the instant it fell from Brooklyn's hand. As the beast stalked him, he fed a steady stream of magic into the medallion. When it lunged, he widened the stream of magic and the creature was snared. It struggled, lashing out at him with flaming wings and talons. He took the blows, struggling to contain it. It was a battle of wills, and though he was taking a beating, he was winning.
One finally screech and the beast was sucked into the medallion. As soon as it was contained, he tucked the Gate into his pocket. Turning his attention to the TCT, he brought the heel of a boot down on the device. It shattered in a shower of sparks and flame. He was certain the link was finally broken. At least he hoped it was.
At last, he dropped to his knees next to Brooklyn. He had to work quickly. Dawn was not long off. The gargoyle would truly be lost if the sun rose before he was finished. Flipping him onto his back, mindful of his wings, Xander sent a tiny trickle of magic into his chest. Just enough to trigger an electrical charge. Once, twice, nothing happened. He squeezed tears of frustration down his cheeks when he closed his eyes. This had to work. It had been the only way.
Brooklyn jerked upright with a ragged gasp. His eyes were wide as he stared at Xander. I was dead. He killed me. The snarl that he wanted to unleash on the boy was less than a rasping whisper, “Unbelievable... You're an ass, you know that?”
“It's good to have you back, old friend. Are you ready to go home?” Xander smiled and put an unsteady hand on the gargoyle's shoulder.
“I thought you'd never ask.” Brooklyn grumbled as he stood with the boy's help. He glanced toward the horizon and the faint glow beyond. “We should wait until tonight. Shattering in the castle courtyard is not my idea of a good time.”
“Agreed. We'll wait out the day.” a thoughtful expression crossed Xander's face before he continued. “Your bond with the Phoenix... It had to be broken. I'm sorry, there was only one way to break it.”
Brooklyn nodded only a moment before the sun rose and cast him in stone sleep for the day. His dreams would be troubled. The knowledge that he was free of the Phoenix went with him into those dreams, however. No longer need he fear the beast swooping in to pluck him out of his own time to strand him in another. That was thanks to Xander. He only wished the boy had found another way to break the link. Death was not as easy as he had always assumed it would be.
Hudson eyed Elisa thoughtfully as she sat on the rim of the fountain in the courtyard. She was nearing her time, there could be no doubt of that. Puck had been pushing for the commitment ceremony. He claimed it was a critical condition of the prophecy. Judge Roblyn had been contacted for the legal documents the human world required of Goliath's persona. The man had already attended the Xanatos wedding. He was familiar with the clan and would not easily frighten at the sight of them. The rest of their guests were being notified and would be in attendance in a matter of days.
Days, that was all there were now. Days before he joined Elisa and Goliath together as mates before the clan. Days before Elisa would be forced to take gargoyle form once more to clutch the twins. And days before he himself took Maria for his mate before the clan. It had all snuck up on him so fast. He was not sure he was prepared for any of it. Normally, he would have been overjoyed, but somehow something did not seem right. He thought it must be Xander and Brooklyn. The boy had not returned from the task Puck had set him upon. Their second in command had yet to return as well.
Days, not seconds. Last time Brooklyn had been gone a matter of seconds. This time, he had been gone nearly a week. How much time might have passed for him now? Could he now be an elder himself when he returned? The questions kept stacking up with no answers. Hudson knew those same questions weighed heavily on the rest of the clan. They worried Goliath, though their clan leader would not admit how much. Elisa was showing signs of sleeplessness. It was clear she was concerned for Brooklyn and Xander as well. That worried the elder. It could not be good for her pregnancy.
“You do realize Alexander is technically still a baby.” Xanatos growled at his majordomo.
“By human standards only, I assure you, sir.” Owen answered blandly.
“How can you stand there and make such a cold statement? My son is missing! Lost in time on some fool's errand that you sent him on!” Fox was all but screaming at him, her husband firmly keeping her against his side so that she did not attack the pale man.
“You son has proven himself more than capable.”
“I don't care how capable you think he is! He's a child, my child and I want him back!” Fox screamed in the man's face.
“I'm sorry, Fox. I couldn't interfere even if I wanted to.” Owen began and she cut him off.
“Why not? You're supposed to be his teacher.” she snarled at him.
“Oberon's law...” he said at length.
Understanding seemed to dawn in her eyes and her face relaxed slightly. She leaned in as far as David would allow her and said coldly before turning and stomping off, “You're going to pay for this.”
“I already have.” Owen said sagely when the irate woman was out of earshot.
“What's really going on, Owen? You must know something.” Xanatos was much calmer than his wife.
“The boy is not bound by Oberon's laws. At least not his laws regarding time travel.” Owen stated.
“Care to explain?” Xanatos asked curiously.
“No Fae may breach the walls of time and meddle with events either past or future. We must remain within our timeline of origin. That is why we created the Phoenix Gate. It was a work around of sorts.” Owen pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose absently and continued. “Hybrids like your son are not as strictly bound by Oberon's laws. Humanity has no such limitations placed upon them. They may do as they please and the Lord of Avalon is powerless to place limits on them. Fae/human hybrids are much the same. Lord Oberon has little control of what they do.”
“Then why not send someone else? Surely there are other hybrids in the world..” Xanatos asked carefully.
“Sir, the only other hybrid powerful enough to match you son is currently pregnant with the first gargoyle/human twins. I did not feel it was a good idea to risk the three of them for this. Xander was the logical choice.” Owen seemed a little flustered.
“I see...” Xanatos merely glared at the man for a long moment. Then his thought processes seemed to catch up with the situation. “In the future, Owen, you will consult me before sending my son traipsing through time. Is that clear?”
“Abundantly, sir.” Owen stated in his usual oatmeal tone.
“I want to know the moment either Brooklyn or my son returns.” with that Xanatos followed his wife.
As soon as Xanatos was out of sight, Owen released a sigh. It was a rarity to see him betray any emotion. Out in the courtyard, such displays from him were unheard of. Yet there it was and Hudson had seen it. There was no going back. Xander was as much on his own now as he had been the moment he had left the relative safety of their current point in time.
When the green ball of flame, so similar to the Phoenix Gate's ball of red flame, suddenly flared in the courtyard, all eyes were drawn toward it. Gasps filled the air when Xander, a much older Xander stepped out. Brooklyn followed looking no older than he had when they last saw him. Clearly some time had passed, however. Owen guessed perhaps five years given Xander's earlier rate of growth. It could have been much longer, he realized.
“How long, Uncle Owen?” Xander asked as he approached the majordomo, the green flame dissipating on the wind even as he spoke.
“A week.... Clearly you were gone much longer.” Owen indicated Xander's appearance.
“You could say that. Five years. I'm...well...you can see for yourself.” the young man stated with a smile and a wave at himself.
“Nearly fifteen by the look of you.” Owen nodded.
“It was necessary. I needed to be older for the ceremony.” the boy took on a thoughtful look for a moment. “I haven't missed that, have I? It's important that I be here for it.”
“A few days, at best. You haven't missed it, but I my curiosity is getting the better of me. Why must you be so much older for this event?” Owen asked, the Puck's curiosity clearly overriding the human facade.
“I....I can't say. You understand. Can't disrupt the timestream and all. Not around a critical event anyway.” Xander hesitated and then took off through a door into the castle.
“You're parents are not going to be terribly happy when they see you, my boy.” Owen smiled as his gaze lingered on the door that was slowly swinging shut.
“What the hell happened to you?” Xanatos demanded of his son when the boy burst into his office. There was no doubt the teen was his son. Other than the red hair and green eyes, the boy was the spitting image of himself at that age.
“I...uh... Hi, Dad.” Xander was at a loss for an explanation to feed his father.
“I was looking forward to fatherhood a little longer, you know. You'll be off to college in a couple of years at this rate.” Xanatos grumbled and pushed a stack of folders across his desk.
“It's not so bad, really, Dad. At least my sister will be human. You get to go through all the sleepless nights with her that you missed out on with me.” Xander decided it would not hurt to give his father that tiny piece of information about his future.
It seemed to work as a ghost of a smile began to play across the man's face. He seemed quite taken with the idea. Enough so that he did not seem inclined to interrogate Xander. It would have done him no good anyway. The boy would not give him more information about his future than he already had. He would give none of them that information. Brooklyn had turned out to be the most knowledgeable between them in that regard. They had made a pact of silence between them. Only the tiniest fragments of information might slip through the cracks of their combined resolve. The secret he had just divulged would not remain a secret for much longer anyway. His mother would soon discover her condition and reveal it to his father.
“Are you certain the link is broken between you and the Phoenix?” Goliath asked cautiously.
“Yeah...” Brooklyn breathed and thought of exactly what it had taken to break it. “Look, it's a long story. I'd really rather not go into right now. There are parts I'm not even sure if I believe and I went through it.”
“Very well, but we will discuss this further when you have recovered.” Goliath conceded and then as an afterthought, he asked, “Do you still have the Gate?”
“No. Xander.... he knows where it is.” Brooklyn ducked his head before leaving the castle library.
“Cut him some slack, Goliath. He's clearly been through hell this time. Did you see the new scars? The ones across his chest? Those look burn marks. Maybe electrical.” Elisa said tiredly, but her mind was still turning what little information Brooklyn had given them over furiously.
“Yes....,” Goliath drew the word out thoughtfully. “I saw them. I wonder, could young Xander be the cause?”
“You can't seriously think a little boy could do that to a full grown gargoyle...” Elisa would have laughed if the doubt in her own words had not taken hold of her so quickly.
“He is the grandson of Titania. Who knows what he might be capable of. The real question is: why? Why would he do it?” Goliath was tossing ideas around. It was clear he would chew on the little information they had until he spoke with Xander himself.
“I saw him when he stepped back into our timeline. He's a teenager now. If he did that to Brooklyn, it must not have been long ago.” Elisa was caught up in his musings now and it was bound to drive her crazy until she got some answers. She narrowed her eyes at Goliath then, a faint growl on just under her breath. “You do that on purpose, don't you?”
“I don't know what you're talking about.” Goliath said quietly and turned to face the library's only fireplace to hide the smile.
“Right. It's your story, tell it any way you want, but I know the truth. Fragments of information and detectives mix like fire and kerosene.” she heard his deep chuckle and threw a pillow from the sofa at his back. It bounced off the hard muscles between his wings and the chuckle grew into something closer to a laugh. She could hear the relief in his voice. Relief that their missing friend was finally home.
Goliath stood there staring at the flames in the fireplace chuckling all the harder when the pillow bounced off his back. His Elisa would not be able to sit idly by and not hunt down any scraps of information she could glean from the pair of time travelers. He knew this to be so and she was right. Her curiosity and detective skills were the very reasons he had edged her toward his train of thought. Brooklyn might not give them many answers, but Xander might. He was young, no matter how old he appeared. His inexperience might well prove beneficial to them. Surely he would not be able to keep a secret of that magnitude for long. Most children burned to spill whatever they knew no matter how trivial it might be. This child would be no different. There would be things that he would be unable to resist telling. Something would slip out regarding the Phoenix Gate and Brooklyn's link to it. It was only a matter of time. When it did, Elisa would have her ear to the ground in the hopes of hearing it.
Days had passed. Days that drew the time of Maza's clutch closer. It had to be stopped. That egg might hatch minutes after clutching for all she knew. The thing inside it could bring destruction to her kind with its first cries. She would not allow that. Her race must survive. They must become the dominant race on the planet. She would see it happen one day and then she would lead them into a new age.
Demona launched herself into the night hoping it was not already to late. The golden dagger at her hip dug painfully into her flesh, but she did not notice it. The Age of Dracona would end tonight. She would end it before the hatchling ever had a chance to draw its first breath. Her blade would be the instrument of salvation and she would bathe in Maza's blood. She had come to realize this was her purpose. This was the reason she had been born, had suffered and had been made immortal. She was meant to be the savior of her race. Eventually she would lead them to glory and crush humanity beneath her feet along the way. It would begin this night with Elisa Maza's death.
Let the festivities commence! Elisa and Goliath prepare for their commitment ceremony on Halloween. Something seems off to several of their guests. Even Hudson feels the Winds of Change picking up their pace. Puck blows it off. How bad could it possibly be?
Winds of Change: Season Two
October 31, 1999
The final preparations were being made as Goliath and Elisa were ushered off to separate rooms to change. Excitement filled the air and Fox was caught up in it to her eyeballs. She was like an orchestra conductor, directing every note. So deep was she in her element that she did not notice her husband's smirk as he watched her directing the human traffic. This was her time to shine and she intended to outshine every star in the sky tonight.
Decorations were set up in the chapel. Elegant in their simplicity. A runner was spread out and delicate yellow rose pedals were placed in baskets to be tossed across it just before the bride stepped out. Pale yellow robins and roses were fastened to the ends of each pew. The alter was draped in gold, cream and black to complement the bride and groom's attire. Food was placed on tables buffet style in the great hall for the reception.
Fox directed the guests as they began to pour in. They would take places on the pews in an even distribution. It would be lined up perfectly for the photographer when he showed up. The man had already been warned this wedding was unique. He had seen the videos and even met with a couple members of the clan. They did not seem to frighten him overly much. He saw it as just another gig. Granted, a very high paying one, but even still.
When Broadway tried to sneak a roast from the table, she smacked his hand and shooed him off with a proper scolding. He could wait like everyone else. Angela had giggled at him as he stomped off in defeat. The others waited on the outskirts of all the activity. They examined a few details here and there, but touched nothing. Fox would have handed them their heads if they had and each of them knew it.
Lexington took the DJ's place when the man ran screaming from the Eyrie. He had seen the videos, but the reality of the clan had been too much for him to stomach. His equipment would be returned after the festivities. He had already been paid for its use even if he would not be the one to use it, after all. Lex was perfectly capable and even excited to take up that particular duty. As soon as he stepped into the booth, the music began to bump out of the speakers. Fox smiled at the sounds and continued her directions.
Puck watched from the rafters, well out of sight. Things were moving along smoothly, but the night was still young. He sensed something amiss and could not put his finger on precisely what it was. This ceremony was crucial to the prophecy. Everything else had fallen into place so far. This one piece could make or break Dracona. It might well determine how she developed, what course she took along the branches of prophecy. In his mind, this ceremony, her parents being a unified front against the world might well be the catalyst for the rise of the gentler persona. It must be, he told himself. He could not abide helping to bring the Destroyer into being. The goddess must become the Redeemer and save the world from itself.
Sitting up there among the spiderwebs, Puck noticed the moon streaming in the high round window. A full moon, perfect for the task at hand. The Blood of the Dragon, wine he had already bound with magical properties, would seal the union of souls under its pure light. The irony was in the way the light streamed into the chapel. For the next several hours it would illuminate the place just before the altar. That was where Goliath and Elisa would make their claims and vows. He suspected this too might be part of the prophecy. It seemed a little too coincidental to him not to be.
As he shifted in an attempt to remain silent while watching the guests filter in, he caught that feeling in the air again. The feeling that something was terribly wrong. He knew for certain that it was not coming from within the Eyrie. This was something outside. It was outside the corona of festivities. He found it troubling. Whatever it was might well interfere with this all important event. He would not permit that if he could prevent it at all. Most things he knew he could redirect. Most save for Oberon or Titania, but they were meant to be present for this occasion. Neither had objected to this union which surprised him. They merely wished to witness it. Both knew of the prophecy and the twins Elisa carried. They had said very little regarding that as well. It was a mortal affair. As far as they were concerned, it did not affect them.
Puck cataloged every human and non-human that crossed the threshold. None of them seemed to radiate the sickly intent he kept sensing. He supposed that was a good sign then. It meant whoever it was attached to was not present. Maybe they would remain outside the ring of festivities. He thought he might even be picking up on some of the human events happening in the middle of the city. After all, it was Halloween and the humans were celebrating. There would be those out there looking to gain some profit or another this night. There always were. That did not mean he would abandon his vigil or relax his guard, however.
The idea did not settle the feeling of wrongness he kept picking up on no matter how he hoped it might. No, this was something coming for their little pocket of the world, he was certain of it as the minutes ticked by. He could almost taste it as it drew nearer. Thanks to Oberon, he might not be able to protect Elisa and her children if the worst should come of that feeling. He was still bound to Xander and his human form. That would not change until Dracona was old enough to counter the spell. He new that might well be a good amount of time. Xander was nearly grown now. In reality he no longer truly needed Puck's guidance. The fact that he sat in the rafters in his true form was a gift from the boy. There could be a good many more such gifts in the future while he waited for Dracona to reach maturity.
Demona crossed his mind once, but he tossed that idea out. She would not be stupid enough to attempt to crash this particular swaray. If she did, she would face down three unbound Fae, plus himself. It did not matter that Xander was not a pure blood. His power was nearly as great as his grandmother's. The boy was formidable. He could do some serious damage should the female decide to make an unwelcome and threatening appearance. There were any number of reasons he could think of as to why she would not show up. By the same token, there were any number of reasons he could think of that might well prompt her to show her face. In a way, he pitied her if she did. There might not be much left of her once the others were finished with her, immortal or not.
When Macbeth swaggered in, he began to wonder. Demona would know he was there. She would sense his proximity. That might be enough to draw her in. It was not something he wanted to think about. She would be the fly in the ointment. If he were honest with himself, he did not think she was the source of the wrongness he felt. What he was sensing was far more chaotic and unstable than she had ever been in all her long years of life. With Macbeth there and seeming completely at ease, he suspected the odd sense was a bit more nerves than he cared to admit. After a few more uncertain moments, he pushed the thought away and let it go. This night was meant to be fun and festive. There would be music, food, and drink. He thought getting as drunk as he possibly could before the night was out might be a better plan than waiting around for something to spoil his fun.
Macbeth looked around the chapel with a feeling of unease. Something was coming, he could feel it to his bones. It had nothing to do with the celebration and everything at the same time. It almost felt as if Demona were close by, but he banished that thought. The creature he felt was far too chaotic to be her. The last he had seen her, she was still thirsting for Elisa's blood. That, however, did not make her crazed to the point of utter insanity. This beast, whatever it was, was on the brink of madness. He hoped it was not Demona. Somewhere deep down,a part of him still loved her. He had locked away that part of his heart away a millennium ago. No matter how she spurned him, it refused to die. That same part of him hoped to one day reconcile with her, teach her tenderness and show her the love she had rejected in Paris. Logic kicked him in the gut for such thoughts. This was Demona he was thinking of. She would never change, never love him the same way. He knew that as surely as he knew the sun would rise in the morning. She had rejected him for Thailog because the gargoyle had been the closest thing she could get to Goliath. He had broken her heart as surely as she had broken Macbeth's.
No, he did not think what was coming could be Demona, but he would watch all the same. If this was what she had become now, he might be forced to remove them both from the world in order to save it. After all, the Weird Sisters had said one could die only by the other's hand. Nothing else had ever been able to release them from this world. He did not relish the thought of dying this night. There were a great many things he still intended to do with his long life. Meeting its end was not one of them.
Goliath tugged absently at the gold trimmed black tunic. It was comfortable enough, but he was not accustomed to wearing anything that fit so near his wing struts. Hudson's design had left the back open much like his own attire to accommodate Goliath's wings. The soft cream triangular panel draped over his chest ended at his wide black leather belt. A rectangular panel fell to his knees at the front from that belt, black with a triangular golden panel draped over it to match the upper trim. The back was split for his tail and carried the same gold trim as the top. Wrist and ankle cuffs of gold had been fitted to match the ensemble. He felt ridiculous and nervous as a hatchling before his first flight as he stood there in the pool of moonlight before the altar.
It had been decided that the beginning of the ceremony would follow a more traditional human wedding. Elisa wanted to walk down the isle between the chapel pews with her father. Goliath saw no harm in it. For her happiness, he would move both heaven and earth if he must. She would officially become his mate before the clan. Though clan traditions were much less formal and organized in general, this night was historic. Never before had a gargoyle and a human bonded before members of both their races. Legally Elisa would become his wife as well as his mate this night. The bonding was what mattered to him. The ceremony itself was merely a formality in his eyes. In his heart they were already mates. She was carrying children he had sired. All that was required to bind them was the Blood of the Dragon. It was something he and Demona had never partaken in. He was glad he had not made that pact with his former love. It left him free to bond with Elisa in the one tradition that had withstood the test of time among his people.
Elisa fussed with the layers of her gown nervously. It was not the elaborate gown she had expected. The bodice was a simple design snugly fitted to her upper torso and ending at a golden sash just above her swollen belly. From the sash a triangular swath of the same gold fabric fell to the hem at front and back of the floor length flowing skirt. The shape of the dress reminded her somewhat of the dresses favored by ladies in the medieval era. It should not have surprised her, after all, Hudson's talons were in the design. Surprisingly, it did wonders in hiding the swell of belly.
Staring at herself in the full length mirror, Elisa realized her hands were shaking. Her grip on the bouquet of yellow roses tightened. It was only just sinking in that this was really happening, she was really getting married. She reminded herself the 'man' she was about to marry was her best friend, the love of her life and her soulmate. That should have stopped the shakes. It intensified them instead. Part of her could not believe he had chosen her, a human with a bit of Fae blood, to walk with him in this life. It was surreal, as if it was happening to someone else. She could not imagine her life without him in it, however. He was her heart, her conscience and so much more.
Elisa did not hear the door open behind her, nor did she notice the man standing in it staring at her. She was not aware of him until he stepped into the room and closed the door behind him. If she had, she might have turned and greeted him. She might even have stared at him. It was not every day that her father put on a suit.
“My god………,” her father breathed from the doorway as he entered. “you're absolutely beautiful.”
Elisa smiled and looked her father up and down. He was dressed in a simple black suit, gold tie and pale yellow rose pinned to a lapel. “You don't look half bad yourself.”
“So I've heard from your mother.” he stepped forward and put his hands on his daughters shoulders. “Are you sure about this……?”
“Dad…,” Elisa sighed and looked up at her father. “we've been over this already. This is just a formality.”
“I know, but………he's………well,” her father seemed to be searching for the right words. “he's not human, Elisa. I just don't want to see my little girl get hurt.”
“Goliath is the last person on the planet who would willing hurt me, Dad, you know that.” she glanced at her reflection in the mirror once more and smiled. “I think we were mated in our hearts years ago and never realized it. Neither of us had the courage to admit it.”
“If you're sure………then,” her father offered his arm with a smile and she took it. “let's get this show on the road.”
Hudson stood behind the altar and looked over the crowd in the castle's rarely used chapel. He glanced at Goliath who looked ready to break for the nearest window and leap for his life. He had to chuckle. The lad had not been this nervous when he had stood before him with Demona. The chuckle died at the thought of her. Headstrong, impetuous, rebellious Demona had been absent for the last couple of months. He feared what she might be up to. He did not trust her. He doubted he ever would. She was the wildcard they did not need turning up this night.
Something about the night felt off to him, however. He could not put a talon on it. It felt as if the winds of change were stirring and he was not sure he liked the direction they were taking. There were a great many things that could go wrong in a single night. He knew this to be true, he had seen it happen in the past. Too much was at stake. The hatchlings Elisa would soon bring into the clan could be at risk should something go awry. He did not wish to see what Goliath might do if something happened to his mate or children. It did not bear thinking. He knew it could be far worse. If something should happen to Goliath, Elisa might well go mad. He knew she had power. They all did. That power was rough, barely controlled, but he feared what it might do should she ever snap. She was a fine lass, he would admit that freely. He could not see her becoming like Demona. She did not have that sort of personality. Still, he mulled over the things that might be. Loss and insanity could change a person rather human or gargoyle. He hoped the lass was never pushed past her limits.
As Judge Roblyn stepped up beside him and cleared his throat, Hudson met his gaze and nodded. The man was there for legal purposes. The persona Xanatos had set up for the clan leader was to be legally married this night. It had to be documented and registered with the city. Being the legal owner of Castle Wyvern, his fortune had to be accounted for. His wife would be included in all of his affairs and transactions from this night forward.
Hudson could not say he completely understood all the rules humans seemed to create. Most of them made no sense to him. He thought gargoyle kind were better off keeping simple ways. Then he thought of his Maria and his face softened. Rules, laws and regulations were her world and soon enough, he would part of that as well. Their mating would be a bit less formal than Goliath and Elisa's, however. It suited him just fine that way.
Roblyn, he noted, seemed a little skittish to him. Many humans did when dealing with a real live gargoyle. He was not worried, however. The man had not run off like the DJ had. So long as he performed his duty, the elder saw nothing wrong with him being present. After all, this was not his first dealing with the clan. He had been present for the Xanatos wedding and had met both Goliath and Demona once before. Still the man seemed wary. He could not fault him. Only a fool would have allowed his guard to slip around Demona. He could see that her influence had clearly affected how the man dealt with them all.
Goliath and Elisa had agreed that Hudson would officiate the actual ceremony in a more traditional gargoyle fashion. That suited him just fine. There were few traditions regarding a mating ceremony. The Blood of the Dragon was the most important part. Glancing up at the round window, he smiled and nodded to himself. The conditions could not be better. A clear night, a full moon, the couple would be bathed in her light as they committed themselves to each other. It was a night like this that many a gargoyle couple would pledge to each other.
A slight change in the ambient music that drifted toward the vaulted ceiling signaled the imminent arrival of the bride. A human tradition Elisa had insisted on, but she had also insisted that it not be overly loud. Goliath stood ramrod straight, his thumping tail tip the only outward sign of his anxiety. Hudson wondered what exactly was going through the clan leader's mind at that moment. He was certain the male would pass out if he continued to breath so shallowly. The lad was heavy and he did not relish the idea of being forced to pick him up again.
The doors at the far end of the room lazily swung open. Elisa and her father began their slow march toward the altar. Goliath's breath caught as she came into view. His vision narrowed to only the sight of her as his heart raced. She was more beautiful that he had ever imagined. No one else existed for him as she swayed gracefully toward him. Human though she was, no one else could have held a candle next to her in his heart.
Elisa thought Goliath was dashing in his wedding tunic. Her eyes never left his as her father guided her toward him. Her shaking had ceased the instant her eyes found his. There was nowhere else in the whole of the world she wished to be right then. Her father guided her down the isle, gently nudging her when she missed the first couple of steps. He placed her hand in the large gargoyle's and took his place near his wife in the front row.
Hudson stepped closer to the altar and peered at them, admiring his handy work in the designs of their clothing. He had never considered himself a tailor, but the work he had done for them suited them perfectly. It was some of the best he had crafted. He cleared his throat as they turned toward him. This was his duty, his privilege. He poured red wine into a waiting chalice.
“Son o' de clan, for wat purpose de ye bring dis female bef're de elders?” his question was directed at Goliath, his Scottish brogue fighting for dominance over the words.
“Before my clan, my brothers, my sisters, elders and mentors, I make this claim………” Goliath's voice rang out as he faced Elisa and took both of her hands in his own. “I will lay down my life for this female, I will protect her, shelter her, care for her, love her and no other………until the egg crumbles to dust and the great dragon is no more………”
Hudson raised an eye ridge at the words. The lad had not spoken so formally of his claim with Demona. He turned to Elisa, the human woman seemed just as nervous as the gargoyle before her.
“Wat say ye, daughter o' de clan? De ye accept dis male's offer of life mating?”
Elisa gently caressed Goliath's cheek and spoke the words Hudson had told her she should say, “You and I are of one heart, one soul, one body…………until the egg crumbles to dust and the great dragon is no more.”
“De claim be made an' accepted. One th'ng remains………” Hudson said holding the chalice up to be bathed in moonlight before offering it to Goliath. This was the part of the ceremony he and Demona had bypassed. According to clan custom it meant they had never truly been mated. In the eyes of the clan these two would forever be bound. “De Blood o' de Dragon to bind yer hearts and souls.”
Goliath gingerly accepted the chalice in both hands and turned to face Elisa. His eyes never left hers as he raised it to his lips to drink. A warm fire spread through his veins as he offered it to her. She took it in both hands and repeated his actions.
“By de Blood o' de Dragon, de blood tha' flows through de veins o' all gargoyle kind, ye now and forever be one.” Hudson's voice rang out as he took the chalice from them and dropped a burning brand from an incense burner into the liquid.
The alcohol burst into flames in seconds. A cheer went up from the clan loud enough it threatened to bring the roof down. Judge Roblyn motioned the couple to a small stand near him where they would sign the marriage license. He had taken the whole ceremony as being the equivalent of the bride and groom having written their own vows. He was impressed with the extent of gargoyle custom. This Blood of the Dragon bit reminded him of some of the more archaic wedding ceremonies he had witnessed in the past. There had been a good many of those to be sure. He watched over the oddly matched pair as they each signed the document. When they were finished, he whisked it away into a folder for safe keeping. G.O. Lyath, or Wyvern as was his alias now, would need that document to ensure his new bride was included in all of his legal affairs.
Demona was too late. A critical condition of the prophecy had been fulfilled by the commitment ceremony. She had burst through the chapel doors just as the flames consumed the last of the contents of the chalice. The scene gave her pause for another reason. She and Goliath had never shared the Blood of the Dragon. She realized that fact had virtually annulled their mating before it had begun. No one seemed to notice her entrance as Goliath and his human signed their names to some legal document Judge Roblyn hurriedly tucked away in a folder.
Hatred, bright and hot as the sun itself, bubbled up in Demona's chest. This human had effectively taken everything from her. The hope of ever winning Goliath back was forever lost to her now. The Blood of the Dragon had forever sealed him to this human. His soul was tainted, damned as surely as she herself might be. The gargoyle deity, the true goddess might well destroy every trace of him in death with humanity's taint on his soul.
Demona raged silently at the couple before the altar. How could he do this? Why would he bind his immortal soul to a human? The very idea sickened her. Goliath was lost to her for all time. She would kill the woman for that if nothing else. That would effectively end the threat of the ominous prophecy, at least. Maza's death would be the elimination of her most hated enemy. She stalked forward, her eyes beginning to blaze fiercely.
Only a few steps in, her hand gripped the ceremonial dagger tucked in her belt. She had come prepared to cut the abomination from its mother's womb if need be. According to a scant scattering of references a golden dagger must be used to sacrifice the mother and child. Her talons had proven less than effective against this particular human anyway. She would have bathed in her blood long ago otherwise. It was almost as if the human was protected by something or someone. Perhaps she was, it was hard to be certain.
A wildcat's snarl split the air as Demona ripped the dagger from her belt propelling herself toward the human female. Her eyes blazed red so fiercely that her vision misted over with it. Focused as intently on her prey as she was, she could have sworn she almost saw the curled form of the child within the woman. She allowed her rage to fuel her limbs. Her anger doubled her strength as she launched herself into the air. She gripped the dagger in both hands and raised them high over her head at the peak of her arch. Her aim was true. She could not miss this close to her target. The dagger would plunge into the woman's beating heart. She would make sure it penetrated to the hilt.
“Mother, NO!” Angela howled when her mother's form caught her eyes. She launched herself from her seat and lunged for the deranged female. A snarl escaped her as she missed.
Demona barely noticed her daughter. She vaguely felt the brush of her talons on her feet. Her momentum carried her onward. There was no stopping what she had begun. She would finish this.
In the sudden confusion all eyes had snapped toward Demona and her intended target. The gargoyle had leapt into the air, she caped her wings to ensure there was enough speed for a killing blow. The impact would be hard without her wings to slow it down.
Several of the guests along the isle sides of the pews had tried to grab her and failed. Bronx barked, as he ran and jumped, snapping at her tail. The gar-beast missed each time he attempted to bite into that tail. Fu-Dog jumped at her from the front and missed. He crashed into Bronx with a yelp.
It was all happening in slow motion. Most of the clan and Elisa's family grabbed for the enraged demon. Some managed to touch her, but none got a good enough grip to pull her down. Nothing was slowing her progress as she sailed through the air.
Macbeth's mouth dropped open at the sight of Demona launching herself into the air. He was too far away to grab. There was no guarantee he could stop her with the momentum she had built anyway. His eyes connected her with her intended target and he growled. If he could help it, she would not take the detective's life. Sucking in a breath he punched himself hard in the gut. She would feel it through their link. With some luck, it might slow her down. With a lot of luck, it might drop her. When neither happened, he ran for her. If she must bury that dagger in someone's heart, then better it be his than Elisa's.
Demona's vast intellect seemed to have evaporated from her eyes. She had gone completely feral. Only she and her target seemed to exist in those bitter moments. The blade in her hands was in a white knuckled grip. She meant to plunge it as deep into Elisa as she could before her hands might release it. That was the image that burned itself into Macbeth's mind as he fell just short of capturing the female's dagger.
Goliath's eyes widened as he made the connection. His keen mind practically drew a line between Demona and Elisa. He knew he could not be sure of protecting Elisa if he launched himself at Demona. The blade could easily slip past him. She might rush him and stab Elisa under his arm. There was also the chance she could knock him aside, slim though it was, and murder his mate before he could grab her. In any case, he would fail his primary duty to the woman he loved. He would fail to protect her and their unborn children.
The lavender behemoth made a split second decision that would ensure his mate survived this attack. He stepped in front of Elisa, his back to Demona, and effectively placed himself between them. If Demona could not be stopped one way, he would stop her another. He would become the target and take the killing blow intended for his mate. The female would not be able to pull the blade out and go after Elisa without the rest of the clan taking her down. He would shield his mate with his body. That was the only protection he could offer her in those final moments. His eyes locked on those of his mate, hands gently, but firmly gripping her shoulders to ensure she stayed in place before him. He watched her eyes widened as she realized exactly what it was he was doing. She shook her head in negative at him, but he did not move. He breathed a contented sigh and gave her his most stunning smile. The one he reserved just for her. An instant later a faint grunt escaped him as his massive form was jolted by the impact. A trickle of blood slowly rolled from the corner of his mouth.
“I....will...love you.....forever…………,” he whispered.
Elisa stared in horror at her mate as blood dribbled down his chin. His face slowly contorted into a mask of pain as he staggered then sagged to his knees. The golden hilt of the dagger protruded from his back between his indigo wings. Demona's hands had numbly released the dagger when she realized he had taken the blow meant for the human. She was stepping back in shock. The sight of the dagger in his back too much for her brittle mind to handle. The clan swarmed her, Brooklyn grabbing one arm, Broadway the other.
Elisa barely took note of any of that as her mate slipped to the floor on his side. He lay at her feet in a growing pool of blood. She dropped to her knees beside him. He was growing too still, too silent. His great wings crumpled around him as if they were a shroud. Her hands fanned out over him, the very contact of her skin pleading with him to stay with her. The warmth was already beginning to seep from his flesh, the triplicate beat of his heart stuttering around the blade that had pierced it. One last breath filled with bubbling blood, one last beat of his noble heart tearing against the sharp edge of the dagger. That was all he had left. He had given everything for her. Then, in those terrible seconds that seemed to drag on forever, there was nothing. His powerful chest did not rise again, that wonderful heart of gold that wished only to protect and save the world did not thump. His eyes were closed. The weight of the world seemed to melt away from his face.
“Nooo…., Goliath………,” it was a sickly grief stricken gasp that rasped from Elisa's very soul.
“Goliath! You foul! Why did you step between us?!” Demona wailed between her captors even as she sagged in their grip. Her eyes focused on the human she hated the most. She snarled at the woman, “This is your fault! You did this! If only you had let him go....”
Elisa's gaze snapped to the female. Her eyes locked on her with every bit as much hatred as the other had raged at her. She who had tried time and again to maim her, kill her, eliminate her. All of that she could have overlooked. Every misstep this gargoyle had made could be written off. Given enough time, she thought the gargoyle might eventually have been able to redeem herself. She might have been able to forgive her. Now there was no chance. There was no more forgiveness in Elisa's heart. This woman had destroyed the best thing in her life. Goliath was her rock, the one thing that kept her sane in an insane world.
Eyes falling on her mate's cooling body, Elisa felt reality slipping. Dead, he was dead and Demona had killed him. She had killed him in an attempt to murder her and her unborn children. Those children were all that was left her mate. He had loved them and now he would never see them. They would never know their father. That knowledge, that understanding sparked a rage so fierce in her heart that she could not contain it. It filled her, flooded her, overflowed from every fiber of her being.
Something snapped within Elisa Maza in those precious seconds of realization. She rose to her feet very slowly as her gaze flicked back to the object of her intense hatred. Diluted Fae blood began to boil. An unnatural wind kicked up and howled through the rafters of the chapel. Every candle in the room flared high before suddenly going out. The wind battered everyone and everything in the room. Her hair whipped around her in a frenzy as she took a step forward.
Elisa had managed to hang onto a scrap of her humanity throughout everything. Even the cleansing fire Puck had forced upon her had not burned her tender heart out. The murderous act of an insane gargoyle was the last straw, however. It was this act that had finally given her full access to the magic hovering in the corners of her mind. She did not want it in exchange for Goliath's life. The price was far too high. She would let the magic go, all of it, if only she could have him back. There was no going back, however. He was dead. She doubted even Doctor Sato could help him now.
An inhuman growl built within Elisa. A growl of fury, pain and loss. It built until she thought she might burst. She gave voice to it as the last of her humanity was brutally torn away. Her voice seemed more suited to an avenging spirit than a mortal woman. She raged desperately, “Blood for blood....!”
“Aunt Elisa, no! You must not lose control! Don't let hatred cloud your heart! The magic... Don't feed it the thirst for vengeance. It will devour your soul!” Xander called out to her. He knelt down beside Goliath's body and checked for signs of life. Anything, even the faintest thing might due. There might still be hope.
The boy feared it might already be too late for Elisa. She did not hear Xander's call. Green flames spiraled around her in a blazing column as she became a blur of motion. It happened in less than a heartbeat. The sole focus of her rage was Demona. The intent in her eyes said she meant to rip the female's still beating heart from her chest with her bare hands.
So ends Season Two.
Wait, what? Did that just happen? Demona has completely lost her mind. Goliath appears to be dead. Are you sure he's dead? Elisa has snapped. Xander is inspecting Goliath's body for anything that might constitute signs of life. Seems Demona is about to become so much hamburger at Elisa's hands. Macbeth is still somewhere in that room. And where is Puck in all this? He was in the rafters, after all. This can't be good.
Season Three will answer these questions and so much more.....