Originally posted on 05/30/14 at: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10391394/1/The-Dark-God
"THE DARK GOD"
The helicopter blades whirled as the aircraft flew towards its destination. Soaring over the landscape, it did not stop to enjoy the view as it raced against the setting sun. There was a deadline to be met. The others would be in hot pursuit soon, and the mission needed to be carried out before the others caught up.
At the controls was a woman who went by the name of Dominique Destine. But that was only the name she used during the daylight hours. Once the sun had set, she would once again go by her true name and take on her true form, then she would no longer need this flying machine to soar through the air.
Not that her human form didn't have its uses. As repulsive as it was, it certainly beat turning to stone during the day, not to mention it gave her access to resources she wouldn't have been able to use in her true form. Like this head start she was able to get on the gargoyles of the Manhattan Clan for example. While they were stuck as statues, she was able to make her way to her destination.
She half expected David Xanatos to try and stop her. After his insufferable assistant, Owen Burnett, discovered that she had hacked into his system and gained access to his hidden files, she had quickly obtained the information she needed and fled. She thought that Xanatos would be right on her tail, but after she had manage to get past the first few members of his mechanical Steel Clan, she hadn't seen any trace of him since.
Perhaps he had decided to remain behind and prepare for what she was about to unleash. Not that it would matter; nothing could stop her now. Her destination was already in sight. And as she landed the helicopter, the sun was about to vanish beneath the horizon.
Exciting the helicopter, she looked around cautiously. Behind her rested a small village, filled with unsuspecting humans. Not one of them was out and about. Overrun by fear and superstition, they stayed indoors at night. Little did they know that she was about to unleash the very horror that had been whispered about for countless generations in their little community.
The last rays of the sun finally vanished completely. Night had arrived, and a now she could shed this disgusting human form. But as pleasant as it was to be in her real body once more, the transition was far from enjoyable. Pain raced through her entire body as her skeletal structure grew, reshaped, and rearranged itself. Her skin stretched and shifted, changing color and texture as her bat-like wings burst from her back, tearing through her clothes in blinding agony.
The transformation only lasted a short while, but when the metamorphosis was complete, the human woman known as Dominique Destine was gone, and the female gargoyle known as Demona stood in her place.
"This is it," she whispered, her eyes shining excitedly. "Time to rid this world of the human filth that inhabits it once and for all."
She looked up at the black mountain that towered over her. It was said to be a place of the supernatural. Just by looking at it, she could tell that the stories were true. This mountain radiated an evil aura that was only a fraction of what it truly was. And as darkness covered the land, cracks appeared on the mountaintop. They continued down the side, spreading out the further down they went.
As it was with all gargoyles, they turned to stone during the day, but became flesh once more at night. This proved to be true here as well as the stone casing fell away. Giant black wings that made up the top of the dark and morose mountain unfolded and spread out, revealing the monstrous creature they had been concealing during the day. Resembling a hideous, black, bat-like devil, the demonic creature stretched as it awoke from its limbo-like hibernation.
Demona took to the air, using the wind to glide up to the colossal fiend. The creature's evil presence warned her to stay away, but her determination overpowered her fear, and she continued onward. She was intent on destroying all of humanity, and this dark creature would do it for her.
She flew up until she was level with his ugly face, though she was sure to keep her distance. As long as she remained far enough away, the creature couldn't harm her. Although it had awoken from its stony slumber, from its waist down, the creature's body remained stone as part of the mountain.
"My Lord Chernabog," she shouted up to the monstrosity, "I have come for you!"
The massive beast turned its glowing yellow eyes on her. With no warning, it lashed out, its clawed hand swiping at her. Demona flew back, farther from the monster's reach, but one of the creature's bat-like wings shot out and blocked her escape.
The sudden movement sent a powerful gust of wind at Demona, sending her back towards the beast. The massive black hand closed tightly over her lower body, threatening to squeeze her until her head popped off.
"No, Lord Chernabog!" she cried. "Tonight is Walpurgis Night! I have come to free you!"
Chernabog blinked, seeming to consider this. His hold on her eased up, allowing her to breathe once more. She panicked though when he brought her up to his ugly face.
"Speak!" he thundered, his booming voice incredibly deep.
Relieved that she had at least gotten a reprieve, she spoke to the dark god. "My name is Demona, my lord, and as I said, I have come here to free you from your imprisonment. All I ask in return is to bare witness as you lay waste to this world, and to serve you as you rule over its ashes."
The dark god regarded her curiously with his glowing yellow eyes. Demona feared he was simply going to crush her. It wouldn't kill her since she was as close to immortal as one could get, but it would still be incredibly painful.
Finally, much to her relief, the evil entity released her. "Done!"
Her initial fear mixed with relief and excitement. Now came the part she had been craving, the beginning of the end for the miserable, pathetic humans. She felt almost giddy as she took out a scroll and began chanting the spell that would free Chernabog and bring ruin to this world.
The large airship belonging to David and Fox Xanatos sped through the air. They had a lot of ground to cover, and not a lot of time to do it in. Xanatos knew that if Demona succeeded in releasing that monstrosity that no one and nothing would be safe. Only someone with a death wish would even consider unleashing that ancient evil, but Demona was mad enough to do it if she thought it would help her accomplish her goals.
Not for the first time, he kicked himself for not deleting the data he had obtained about that monster. He'd known Demona searching for him, but had thought that she had given up. Back when the two of them were allies, before he had relocated Castle Wyvern to the top of the Eyrie Building, Demona had let him in on her original plan of releasing the Black God.
Of course, when she told him, she made it sound like Chernabog was a force that could be controlled and used for world domination. But Xanatos was no fool. Using the information Demona had already gathered over the centuries, he'd done his own research on the ancient evil god, and discovered a horror too great to even imagine. With far greater resources than Demona had at her disposal, he'd discovered what the female gargoyle had been seeking, a way to free Chernabog from his imprisonment.
Back before his marriage to Fox and the birth of their son, world domination had been Xanatos' ultimate goal. But even before he reformed and got his priorities in order, he knew that Chernabog must never be released. There would be no world left to rule over once the evil fiend got through with it. So he had kept the information he had discovered hidden, never telling the female gargoyle what he had discovered, and insisted that all paths he had followed had led to dead ends.
He should have gotten rid of the information instead. Because now, somehow, Demona had managed to hack into his database and obtain the information he had withheld from her. And it was because of that blunder that he and Fox were now in a desperate race against time to stop Demona from bringing forth the apocalypse.
Glancing back, he looked at the seven gargoyle statues he had brought along. Perhaps he shouldn't have wasted time in bringing them along, and should have instead gone after Demona immediately. But she had already had a head start on him by the time Owen had informed him of what the female gargoyle had done. If she did manage to free Chernabog, he was going to need the Manhattan Clan's help in stopping that monster, if such a feat were actually possible. Besides, he had already sent several of his Steel Clan after her. Hopefully, they had managed to at least delay her long enough for him to catch up.
But what could a clan of seven gargoyles do against an ancient evil god? Probably nothing, but if Demona did manage to accomplish her task, it would take some time for Chernabog's power to return to him fully. Maybe Goliath and the others would at least be able to distract the monster while he came up with a plan of attack.
"Looks like we're running out of time," he told his wife as he watched the sunset.
Behind him, flesh formed underneath the outer layer of stone as the Manhattan Clan awoke. Cracks appeared over the statues as the night rejuvenated them. Goliath was the first to shed his stone layer, followed shortly by his daughter, Angela, and her mate, Broadway. Hudson, Brooklyn, and Lexington followed soon after, and finally Bronx shook off the thin stone coating that had been encasing him.
"What is this?" Goliath demanded, instantly on alert when he realized that they were not in the same place they had 'fallen asleep' in. "Where are we?"
"Have we been abducted while we slept?" Hudson asked, looking around the ship.
"Calm down," Xanatos told them lazily, "you're not in any danger."
"Xanatos, "Brooklyn growled suspiciously, "what's the meaning of this? Why are we here?"
He couldn't help the smile that crept up his face at their paranoia. "You still don't trust me? After all I've done for you?"
"Trust is hard to obtain," Goliath replied, crossing his arms, "yet easily lost."
"True," Xanatos agreed. "Then how about hearing it from someone you do trust? Miss Maza, care to explain things?"
From behind them, Detective Elisa Maza walked into the room. "It's ok, guys, you don't need to worry about him."
She was friendly and smiling as always, but Goliath noticed the edge in her voice and the seriousness of her expression. Something was wrong, very wrong. "Elisa, what has happened?"
"Yeah, why are we here?" Lexington added.
Sighing, Elisa crossed her arms and leaned against the wall. "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we've got a serious problem on our hands. The whole world is in danger, and we're greatly pressed for time."
"We couldn't wait for you to awaken," Fox added. "So we loaded you guys up and got started without you. But even now we may be too late."
The gargoyles looked to Goliath, who in turn looked back at Elisa. Xanatos and Fox may have changed their ways, but he was still highly suspicious of them. Elisa, on the other hand, he trusted completely. "What has happened? Is it the Quarrymen?"
Elisa shook her head. "The Quarrymen are the least of our problems. Right now, the lives of every living being on this planet are in jeopardy."
Goliath's eyes narrowed. A threat on that global of a scale could only mean one thing. "Demona."
Brooklyn growled. "What's that psycho up to now?"
"Hey!" Broadway snarled, glancing worriedly at his mate. "Watch what you say."
Angela just shook her head. "No, it's fine. I've accepted the fact that my mother is beyond redemption." She looked back at her human friend. "Go on, Elisa, what's she up to now?"
The detective sighed again. "Where to start?"
"How about with what they know?" Xanatos suggested. "Have any of you ever heard of Chernabog?"
The gargoyles exchanged bewildered looks. Even Hudson, the oldest of the group, and Angela, who had live on the magical island of Avalon, appeared to be stumped.
"Really?" Fox asked. "Not one of you recognizes the names of your deity?"
"What are yeh sayin', lass?" Hudson asked. "A deity for gargoyles? I've never heard o' such a thing."
"Well," said Xanatos, "it was a long time ago. There's almost no record of him anywhere. And with good reason too."
He had managed to catch Goliath's interest. "Tell us about this… gargoyle deity."
"Chernabog," Xanatos replied, "the nocturnal Black God of all that is evil. According to what I could dig up about him, he relished in death, destruction, and suffering. Being a gargoyle himself, he was only active at night, but during that time, he unleashed Hell on Earth. There may not be much information on him, but even after all this time, he's the reason night is considered a time of evil, and why many people are afraid of the dark, even if they don't truly understand why."
Lexington whistled. "Whoa, that sounds pretty bad."
"Wait!" Brooklyn growled. "Why does this guy have to be our deity? Just because he's a god that also happens to be a gargoyle doesn't make him our deity? None of use worship this freak."
"I'm sure there's no real connection," Elisa reassured him. "Besides, Chernabog is more of a demon. You shouldn't worry about it too much."
"So what happened to him?" Angela asked.
Xanatos just shrugged. "The details I discovered were very vague. From what I could determine, several powerful beings cast a spell on him so he can't fully change back from stone. This kept him immobilized and greatly suppressed his powers."
"So why did these powerful beings not simply destroy him while he was stone?" Lexington asked.
Fox openly laughed. "This guy is big. Our information states that before he turns to stone, he wraps his wings around himself to become the top of Bald Mountain."
Broadway felt his stomach drop. "He's as big as a mountain?"
"No," Xanatos replied, "he's not as big as a mountain, he is a mountain. Like you guys, he's technically vulnerable during the day, but nothing short of a nuke can destroy a mountain."
"Um," Broadway muttered hesitantly, "just how tall is this Bald Mountain."
"Approximately 9,396 feet."
The color drained from Broadway's face. "Oh… good to know."
Goliath had grasped the seriousness of the situation. "Then what would you have us do?"
Xanatos was silent for a moment. "Whatever you can. If he's freed, I'm hoping that with your help that we'll be able to at least distract him long enough to find a way to defeat him. Right now, I'm just hoping we'll be able to stop Demona from unleashing him to begin with."
"And exactly how is she planning on doing that?" Lexington asked.
Xanatos refused to allow himself to feel guilty. "Back when Demona and I shared a partnership, she was already researching how to free him. I managed to figure it out, but I didn't tell her. Unfortunately, she managed to hack into my database and find the information."
"Wait," Hudson cried, "if yeh found out how to free him, then did yeh discover how to imprison him again?"
"Yes, but Demona saw fit to delete that information when she hacked in."
Elisa gave Xanatos a dirty look. "You should have deleted all the information yourself when you first discovered it so something like this didn't happen."
Xanataos didn't disagree with her. "I make no excuses. I made a mistake, and now the world is in danger because of it. But I intend to do everything I can to stop it."
Though Angela no longer held onto any hope that her mother would change her ways, this seemed far too horrifying to seem real. She worriedly looked to her father. "She wouldn't really do something so evil, would she?"
Goliath sighed in resignation. "I'm afraid she would. Do not forget that not too long ago she attempted to cast a spell that would wipe out all life on earth except for gargoyles."
"He's right, lass," Hudson told her. "Demona is too far gone. There's no' much she wouldn' do to achieve her goals."
Elisa placed a reassuring hand on the female gargoyle's shoulder. "I'm sorry, Angela. Hopefully we'll be able to stop her before it comes to that, but we have to be prepared for the worst."
Angela looked down at her feet. "Yes, you're right."
"The worst is already upon us," Xanatos replied. "Chernabog would have awoken by now. If the information is accurate, the Witches' Sabbath is the only time Demona will be able to free him. At the very least, we need to delay her from casting the spell until the sun rises; that'll buy us another year. But if she's already unleashed him," he sighed worriedly, "then God help us all."
It was a very long and complicated spell. It needed to be performed at the right time, with the right words, using the right hand motions. But, finally, after a long and complex period, the spell was complete.
From up above, a bolt of red lightning fell from the sky, striking Chernabog. His whole body and the entire mountain lit up as the magic of his imprisonment was broken. From his waist down, cracks appeared and spread all over the portion of the mountain that encased his lower body. Chernabog's face twisted into an insidious triumphant grin as he felt the rest of his body reform into flesh for the first time after countless centuries of confinement.
The mountainside burst open as Chernabog's massive leg kicked free, sending an avalanche of rocks flying. Finally able to stand up from his seated position, he rose to his full height, tearing his other leg free from the stone crater it had been encased in.
Taking a few steps away from the place he had been trapped for so long, he spread his wings and reached for the sky as he stretched his muscles. "At last!" he thundered. "I am free from that accursed mountain! No longer shall I remain trapped with only my servants to amuse me! Now the time has come to unleash my wrath upon this world!"
He looked down at the town he had looked over for far too long. His eyes glowed with an unholy yellow light as he broke out in an evil grin filled with sinister intent. Finally he would be able to crush these puny mortals the way he wanted to for so long.
Glancing over his shoulder at Demona, he gave her a cold smile. "You wish to witness the death of this world? Then behold, for it starts here!"
He leapt towards the village, his wings spread wide to allow him to glide down towards the unsuspecting villagers resting safely in their beds. His massive feet flattened several houses, his landing shaking the earth for miles around.
Overcome with a savage bloodlust, he kicked over, smashed, and crushed the townhouses as a child would with a town play set.
Woken up from what sounded like an earthquake, the villagers looked upon the giant monster trampling their town. Many fled from their houses, hoping to escape before the enormous creature flattened them in their homes.
An evil grin spread across Chernabog's face and he raised his hand towards the fleeing townsfolk. As if the streets were covered with oil and suddenly ignited, fire spread all throughout the village, consuming everyone and everything in its path. Chernabog chuckled as the people were forced to either remain in their homes and wait to be crushed, or flee to the streets and into the fire. Their screams were sweet, sweet music to the dark god's ears, and flying beside him, Demona relished in their tortured cries as well.
As Chernabog surveyed the carnage, his face twisted into a mask of hatred and fury as his glowing eyes landed upon the town church. Reaching for it, he caused the holy sanctuary to go up in flames before taking it in his massive hands and lifting it up. With a hateful growl, he threw the flaming building through the air, watching as it disappeared into the darkness of the night.
"Heads up!" Broadway yelled as the large flaming structure came flying at them.
Xanatos maneuvered the ship to the side, and the fiery object flew past them.
"What was that?" Angela cried.
"Looked like a burning house," said Fox.
"More like a church," her husband replied.
"Flying, flaming churches," said Elisa. "That can only mean one thing."
"Yes," Xanatos agreed, "we're too late, Chernabog is free."
Hudson cracked his knuckles. "Then we best get ready for a fight, lads."
Fox's eyes widened as she looked into the distance. "I don't think this will be much of a fight. More like a slaughter."
The airship approached the town that Bald Mountain overlooked, or what was left of it anyway. Flames danced across the destroyed rubble of the villagers' homes. And stamping around on the remains in savage glee was the evil god they had come to face.
"Oh my…" Lexington muttered. "You wouldn't happen to have one of those nuke things you mentioned, would you?"
Xanatos couldn't tear his eyes away from the colossal creature. "They weren't in stock."
"How are we supposed to fight that?" Brooklyn cried.
"The same way we faced Oberon," Goliath replied.
Broadway shifted uncomfortably. "Oberon was just an incredibly powerful being that was worshipped as a god. This guy's the real thing."
"Could Oberon help us?" Hudson wondered.
"We asked," Xanatos told him, "he refused. Said it would violate his law not to interfere in mortal affairs."
Fox's eyes narrowed. "It was just an excuse. He just didn't want to get involved, so he hid behind his stupid rules. Said he had his own people to think about. He wouldn't even let Mother help."
Angela's eyes widened. "He just abandoned you to Chernabog's wrath; his queen's daughter?"
Fox scoffed. "Not quite. He offered Alexander and I sanctuary in Avalon."
Xanatos glanced at her. "An offer I still wish you would have accepted."
"Please," she returned the glare, "as if I'd leave you behind to face that thing. Besides, unless we stop him now, not even Avalon will be safe for long. He'll get there eventually, and not even Oberon will be able to stop him then, but the pointy-eared freak just wouldn't listen to reason.
"What about Owen?" Lexington asked. "I mean, Puck? We could really use his fae magic."
"Puck is back with Alexander," Xanatos replied. "If anything happens to us, I'm entrusting Alexander's safety to him."
Goliath stepped forward. "Enough talk. We must face this monster. Gargoyles, prepare yourselves."
Elisa went to his side. "I'm coming with you."
Goliath gave her a stern look. "No, it is too dangerous. I cannot fight this monster and worry about you. Stay here where it's safe."
"And just what am I supposed to do?"
He placed his hands on her shoulders. "Stay here and aid Xanatos and Fox however you can. I am certain that Demona will attempt to interfere with our battle. If possible, keep her distracted any way you can so that we may face Chernabog without her getting in the way."
Elisa wanted to argue further, but couldn't think of anything to say to that. What could she, a mere human, do against an ancient evil god anyway? Hell, what could any of them do?
Sighing, she gave the clan leader a pleading look. "Just promise me you'll be careful."
Goliath gave her a smile. "We shall proceed with the utmost caution." He turned to the only member of his clan that didn't have wings. "Bronx, stay with Elisa. Keep her safe."
Ever loyal, the dog-like gargoyle obediently planted himself by Elisa's side, rubbing his head against her affectionately. Goliath looked to his brethren and gave them a nod. Brooklyn opened the door to the airship, and they prepared to depart.
"Take care, Goliath," Xanatos called. "I'll activate the Steel Clan to help, then I'll join you shortly."
Goliath nodded to him. "Make haste, this will be a most dangerous battle."
He jumped from his airship, spreading his wings to glide on the wind. The others soon followed, and they rode on the air current over to the rampaging god. Chernabog sensed them coming and ceased his destruction to look at the six gargoyles that had come to confront him. He detected their opposition towards him and grinned at the thought of these puny little creatures facing off against him. They lacked any power and were smaller than his littlest finger.
"Well, what do we have here?" He glanced at Demona. "Friends of yours?"
Demona hissed. "They're no friends of mine. They're traitors to their own kind, and they've come here to stop you." She glared at Goliath, her eyes shining with hatred. "Unleash your wrath upon them, my lord. Show them the futility of their defiance."
Instead, Chernabog turned towards her, his ugly face twisting into an angry snarl. "Never give me an order, slave!"
Demona recoiled in fear. "N-No, my lord. I would never dream of it. I was merely making a suggestion while praising your mighty power." She bowed the best she could in the air. "Do as you will."
"Demona!" Goliath roared. "Have you truly fallen so far from grace to resort to this? Is your desire to eliminate the humans really so great that you would see the entire world destroyed?"
She hissed at him. "You forced my hand, Goliath. I made numerous attempts to rid this world of the humans while leaving other life forms unharmed, but you always interfered. Now my Lord Chernabog shall cleanse this planet entirely and life shall begin anew."
Chernabog laughed evilly. "A world born anew? If you wish to serve me, slave, then you had best get your priorities in order! I have no interest in creating a new world, only in destroying this one, dancing on its ashes, and bathing in the blood of those I slay! However," he turned back to the Manhattan Clan, "this need not include you! I also take pleasure in amusing myself with those that serve me! Pledge your loyalty to me, and embrace the bitter torment of Hell eternal!"
He held out his arms and lightning rained down from the sky. It didn't merely strike and vanish, but continued to fall in endless streams, tearing up the already destroyed town even further as the dancing bolts obliterated all in their path.
Chernabog threw his head back and closed his eyes, relishing in the senseless destruction he caused. Goliath used the opportunity to glide towards the enormous monster while his eyes were closed and slash him across the face.
The attack hardly did any damage. Chernabog's skin was so tough and so thick that Goliath's claws barely made a visible scratch. Even if the attack had been more affective, with Chernabog's massive size, such an attack would have been so small that it would have hardly been a noticeable nuisance to the dark god.
All the same, the physical contact got Chernabog's attention. An irritated look crossed the evil god's face as he glared at the insect that dared to attack him. He roared loudly, his breath smelling of death itself, and the force of the air pressure sent Goliath flying backwards until his brethren caught him.
"You dare to attack me?" Chernabog thundered. "You insignificant fools are nothing, yet you have the audacity to attack me? My power has no bounds! My muscles cause mountains to crumble! My wings are hurricanes that will tear this land to shreds!"
To emphasize his point, he flapped his wings. Although it didn't cause a hurricane, a tornado that went far beyond anything the Fujita scale could record formed. It only lasted for a few seconds, but it managed to suck up the Manhattan Clan and spit them back out, sending them crashing to the ground faster than speeding bullets.
"Let it be known," Chernabog declared, "that the Black god has returned! No creature can stand against me! They can either oppose me and die, or bow down as my eternal slaves," he grinned evilly, "in which case only most of them shall die!"
He began stomping away from the town he had recently destroyed, anxious to get to an even more populated area and causing even more destruction.
Down on the ground, each in their own crater, the Manhattan Clan struggled to get to their feet.
"Whoa," Broadway muttered, "that guy really packs a wallop."
"Aye," Hudson agreed. "We only live now because we are no' even worth his time. Should he become serious, we would surely meet our end."
Goliath rubbed his aching head. "It doesn't matter. Whether we die now, or die later, the end result will be the same. We must do all we can now before Chernabog's powers return entirely and he becomes truly unstoppable."
"Give it up, Goliath," came an arrogant voice from up above. "You don't stand a chance."
Demona came in for a landing. She crossed her arms and gave her former mate and his companions an arrogant smirk.
"Demona," Goliath growled, "do you have any idea what you've done?"
Her eyes flashed violently. "What I have done is set in motion the process of finally removing these wretched humans from this world. Finally, gargoyles shall rule this world as we were meant to."
"Yeh don' get it," Hudson told her. "There won' be a world to rule once Chernabog gets through with it."
"Even he needs a place to dwell," she replied. "And as long as its human free, I don't care what state he reduces this vermin infested planet to."
"You are blind!" Goliath thundered furiously. "You're unjustified hatred is preventing you from seeing the truth of what you've done."
"No, you're the one who is blind! You refuse to see the humans for the scum that they are! You believe that they deserve to live, but they don't!" Hatred twisted her features. "And your love for that disgusting creature keeps you pathetically naïve to the humans' true nature."
It wasn't hard for Goliath to figure out who Demona was referring to. "Leave Elisa out of this!"
His reaction caused the female gargoyle to grin. "It doesn't matter now. She, along with the rest of humanity, will soon be gone. But I'll be sure to ask Lord Chernabog to give her a slow agonizing death." She threw her head back and laughed maniacally, reaching for the sky in triumph. "Finally, I get to witness the destruction of that miserable race! Finally, I shall have my revenge!"
Golaith took a threatening step towards her. "You have no cause for revenge!" he snarled, his own eyes flashing. "The only humans you have cause to hate are the Vikings who destroyed our clan, and they are long gone! But it was you who betrayed our clan to the Vikings in the first place! It was you who betrayed Macbeth! It was you who created the original Hunter, and the reason his descendants hunt our kind! And it is you who is responsible for Castaway and the Quarrymen!"
With an enraged snarl, Demona threw herself at her former mate, wrestling him to the ground. "No, it was the humans! They are responsible, not me!"
Her claws shot out to gauge out Goliath's eyes, but he caught her by the wrist as he tried to force her off him. "You sound just like Castaway!"
He managed to throw her off him, but as she prepared to attack again, the rest of the clan moved to defend their leader, stopping Demona in her tracks.
"He's right," Brooklyn told her. "Before Canmore become Castaway and started the Quarrymen, he basically said the same thing when he accidentally crippled his brother."
"Aye," Hudson agreed, "he could no' deal with the guilt of what he'd done, so he placed the guilt on us gargoyles to give him somethin' to hate and to escape his guilt. Just as you did with our old clan."
"The humans destroyed our clan!" Demona argued.
"Not the humans," said Lexington, "the Vikings. They were the enemy, not humans in general. The Vikings were the ones that were attacking the castle. And you let them in. You gave them the opportunity to destroy our can, and they did."
"Captain Robert was supposed to keep them safe," Demona told them. "He betrayed us!"
Goliath shook his head. "He did not betray us, but he did fail to protect our clan. A feat he never would have had to do if you hadn't betrayed the castle in the first place. What was one man to do against an entire Viking army intent on killing off our clan? Place the blame wherever you want, Demona, but it always comes back to you in the end."
"I was getting us the respect and positions of power we deserved. Why should we have continued to serve lesser beings that constantly disrespected us, their betters?"
"It was a mutual arrangement," Broadway told her. "We protected the humans against enemies by night, they protected us in our stone sleep during the day."
"As for their disrespect," Goliath added, "it was due to their fear of us and not knowing us for who we truly were. The captain knew us, and that is why we were able to befriend him. In time, the others would have come to understand and no longer fear us, just as the captain did. But instead of even giving them the chance, you saw fit to see them all dead, and as a result, nearly our clan fell with them."
"And now the rest of the humans shall fall as well," Demona replied, refusing to see the truth in the others' words and her own guilt. "All of them."
"Mother, please!" Angela cried desperately. "You can't do this! Even if you're right, that was over a thousand years ago. These are not the same people. You can't wipe out an entire race for the actions of a few." She got down on her knees, desperately pleading with her. "Please, stop this; I beg you. They may have their faults, but humans are not all bad. I know many good people. The humans in Avalon, the very ones that you betrayed, have been nothing but kind and loving towards me and the others. They're my family, and I love them dearly. Elisa is a kind and caring person; I love her like a sister. Her partner, Matt, is a great man that does all he can to help us. Even Fox and Xanatos have done so much for us, even if they had once been our enemies. I don't want to lose any of them, nor do I want the rest of the humans to die. Please, stop this senseless violence."
The others looked from mother to daughter hopefully. If Demona had a weakness, it was her daughter. If she couldn't get through to her, no one could.
Demona stared at her daughter with a look of pity on he face; pity for her beliefs and for what she felt for the humans. Angela may have been her only true weakness, but her hatred for the humans ran far too deep, and she held on firmly to her resolve.
She turned her back on her. "It's too late. Even if I wanted to, I can't stop it. Lord Chernabog will reduce this world to dust, and there is nothing any of us can do about it. For your own sake, stay out of his way."
She leapt onto a tree, climbed to the top, and glided off after the dark god. Chernabog was already a great distance off, his massive size allowing him to cover much ground quickly.
As Broadway went to comfort his mate, the others looked to Goliath.
"What do we do?" Hudson asked. "I hate to say it, but Demona is right. There's naught we can do to stop that monster."
"Yeah," Lexington agreed. "Fighting him is suicide."
Goliath sighed in frustration as he watched the dark god continue marching away. "Then we will give our lives trying to stop him."
Being the second in command, Brooklyn felt the need to speak up. "But what can we do? We're in way over our heads. We'll die if we go back."
Goliath closed his eyes, accepting this highly likely possibility. "Indeed, we will most likely meet our end at the hands of this monster. But even if we did not fight, even if we run and hide, no place in this world will be safe for long. Chernabog is a relentless force of destruction intent on wiping out all life in this world. We can either die hiding as cowards, or we can die fighting as warriors." He looked to his clan. "I leave the choice up to you to decide what to do. If you choose to flee, you may do so; there is no dishonor in admitting that someone is stronger than you, and Chernabog's strength undoubtedly outstrips us all a thousand times over. Preserve your lives whiles you can, and enjoy the time you have left if that is what you wish." His eyes began to glow in determination. "As for me, I choose to fight with all I have until I can fight no longer!"
His speech was met with battle cries from the others. It seemed that the decision was unanimous. They would fight.
"What a monster," Elisa muttered from the airship as she looked down at the rampaging Chernabog.
"Seems too tame of a word for him," Fox replied. "This guys practically oozes evil."
Xanatos was a little more observant of the situation. "It seems our friends got blown away. Guess it's time for us to make our move."
Bronx growled down at the dark god. Elisa reached down and rubbed his head to calm him. "Easy, boy." She looked back at Chernabog. "So what's the plan?"
Xanatos began pressing buttons. "Standard military assault."
Outside the ship, numerous guns took aim at the approaching evil deity.
"It may not be a nuke," Xanatos said, "but it's the best we've got."
The guns began firing. Bullets, lasers, and missiles flew towards Chernabog, showing across his head and chest. The dark god grumbled and stepped back in surprise. Having been stuck in a mountain for untold years, he hadn't seen much of technology, and this assault was something unexpected.
An angry snarl crossed his hideous face as he glared at the airship. "What's this now? More insects for me to swat?"
His giant hand swiped through the air at the ship.
"Shields up!" Xanatos cried, pressing a button.
An energy barrier appeared around the ship, and Chernabog's hand smacked against it. Though the ship wasn't physically touched, the impact still sent it spinning through the air until Xanatos managed to gain control again. He quickly checked the strength of the shields, glad that they had made improvements on them since they used them against Oberon.
"Ah," Chernabog sneered, "you have some tricks! But nothing you humans could ever build could hope to even rival the strength of a god!"
He swiped at them again, but Xanatos managed to avoid the attack. For such a large ship, it could certainly move fast and had good maneuverability.
"You cannot escape!" Chernabog thundered. "Resist all you want, the end result will be the same!"
Xanatos responded with more firepower. Chernabog snarled angrily, using his wings to block the attack.
"Fools! I am the Black God! The flames of Hell itself are at my command!"
He raised his arms and the ground tore open, unleashing a massive stream of fire, as if from a rocket. The flames struck the airship from below, sending it spinning out of control, the shields just barely holding up.
"Do something!" Fox shouted.
"Working on it!" Xanatos cried, trying to get the controls to respond. "We're losing power. The shields are failing!"
Elisa clung to the wall, feeling the metal rapidly growing hotter. "I'm guessing this wasn't meant to withstand hellfire!"
Xanatos quickly checked the ship's readings. "Bibles studies indicate that the flames of Hell are 60 times hotter than normal fire. If that's the worst, then the shields should hold up for a little while, but not if we stay here." He pressed a few buttons. "Activating rocket boosters. Hold on to something back there."
"I am holding on to something!" Elisa cried. Though she wouldn't be able to keep hold for long at the rate everything was heating up. The shield may have been protecting the ship from actually making contact with the fire, but the heat was quickly raising the temperature.
The rockets ignited, launching the ship out of the wall of fire. Elisa nearly lost her grip from the sudden jolt, but poor Bronx was sent crashing into the wall.
Chernabog growled and swiped at the ship again, but it was moving too fast for him to catch. Instead, he began flapping his wings, sending blades of wind at them. Most missed, but the few that hit were just barely held off by the barrier.
"We're overheating," said Xanatos. "I have to shut down the rockets. I think we're safe from this distance."
He was wrong. The moment the rockets stopped and the ship slowed, Chernabog fired beams of red lightning from his eyes. The ship was protected from the attack, but the barrier finally failed.
"Shields are offline!" Fox reported. "We're defenseless!"
"Restoring power," Xanatos replied. "It'll take a while, but the shields will be up and running again soon enough."
But Chernabog wasn't willing to give them the time they needed. He held out his arms, and a massive fireball appeared in each hand. Grinning evilly, he threw one, then the other.
"Incoming!" Fox shouted.
Xanatos moved the ship to avoid the approaching fireballs. The first one whizzed by, but the second one hit the side of the ship. The occupants were thrown around as one of the wings was blown off and a good portion of the wall went missing.
Elisa struggled to her feet and looked out the massive hole in the wall at the evil god. She whipped out her gun and began firing. Her target was far too big to possibly miss, but with each bullet that found its mark, Chernabog just blinked, as if wondering what had hit him.
"That's not going to do much good, detective," Xanatos told her. "How about putting those fires out instead."
Elisa looked at the many fires inside and outside of the ship, and then over at the single fire extinguisher hanging on the wall. "Are you kidding?"
Xanatos ignored her. "Dear, take over flying. I'm going to activate the Steel Clan."
His wife gave him a concerned look. "You're going out there with them, aren't you?"
Xanatos unstrapped himself. "Sorry, but we've all got to do our part. I'll distract him with the Steel Clan for as long as I can. Keep your distance until the shields are up again, then let him have it."
Chernabog growled when he saw that the ship was still airborne. His powers were still weak, otherwise the ship would have been completely obliterated, regardless of what kind of protection they had. But no matter, he would destroy them soon enough.
The dark god growled at how he had been addressed. No one should speak his name without first referring to him as 'Lord' or 'Master'. But then he saw the gargoyles from earlier flying around his head. They still sought to defy him.
"So you're still alive!" he observed. "You will only prolong your suffering!"
"We will fight to our dying breath!" Goliath declared.
Chernabog chuckled. "That won't be for much longer!"
His wings stretched out, encasing himself and the gargoyles in a cocoon of blackness, keeping them at close range. This cut them off from the wind currents, and they began to descend, unable to remain airborne on their own.
"Go for the wings!" Hudson shouted, pulling out his dagger. "Let gravity do the work!"
As Chernabog reached for them, they maneuvered around his giant hands and went for his wings. Hudson stabbed into the webbed flesh with his dagger while the others used their claws. Folding their wings, they dropped down, slicing into Chernabog's flesh as they fell.
The dark god hissed at the sensation. It was like multiple paper cuts cutting into his wings, but he kept them closed, keeping the Manhattan Clan trapped. And when they reached the bottom, they had nowhere left to go.
"Now you die!" the dark god declared, reaching for them.
Before he could grab them, an onslaught of ammunition began raining down on him from the outside of his wings. Furious at this sudden attack against him, he opened his wings to see the mechanical Steel Clan flying around him. Xanatos was in the lead, wearing his red metal Goliath suit, unleashing a barrage of attacks.
Chernabog sneered at this new opposition as the Manhattan Clan used the opportunity to take to the air again and join the robotic soldiers. Chernabog stared at them for a few moments before grinning evilly.
"Ah, I see, you brought an army to face me!" He laughed loudly. "Well, I have an army of my own! I have the power to summon the souls of the damned to do my bidding! Behold!"
He stretched his arms outward, his shadow mimicking his movements and extending even further. From out of the ground his shadow covered emerged a herd of demonic creatures. Demons, ghosts, and dead humans that had led wicked lives took to the air, even the ones that lacked wings. Thousands of devilish ghouls flew towards Chernabog, just as they always did when he summoned them for his amusement before dropping them back into Hell.
The dark god chuckled as the damned souls flew around him like an angry swarm. The others were left staring in disbelief at this gathering of evil.
"This is not good," Xanatos muttered. "I didn't prepare for this."
Chernabog raised his hand. "Go, my minions! Enjoy this brief taste of life once more by taking theirs!"
The angry swarm did as he bid and flew towards the Manhattan Clan and Steel Clan. There was no contest as the army of ghouls greatly outnumbered them. But that did not stop them from fighting. The gargoyles used brute strength as the robotic army relied on technology. Yet every enemy they struck down immediately regenerated any damage it took before going on the attack once more.
"These things won't die!" Lexington cried as he slashed an ancient warrior across the chest, only to see the wound heal right before his eyes.
"Of course no'!" Hudson cried as he stabbed his dagger into one of the fiends. "They're already dead! Yeh can' kill what's already dead!"
Chernabog grinned. "You're not as stupid as you look!" He glanced at the clan leader. "I have something special for you, Goliath! See the results of your former mate's actions!"
Before Goliath could figure out what the evil god was talking about, he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. He whirled around, managing to avoid getting cut in half, but still felt the sword draw blood as it sliced across his chest.
As his hand went to the bleeding gash, he looked at the ghostly figure that had wounded him. The warrior was well-built, covered in armor, and wore a black mask with three red stripes going diagonally across it. Reaching up, the warrior pulled back the hood and removed the mask to reveal a blond man with three scars across his face in the same place the stripes on the mask had been.
"So you are the mate of the demon that did this to me," the man growled in a heavy accent. "Foul creature, I shall personally drag you down to Hell with me."
Goliath growled as Gillecomgain, the original Hunter, swiped at him. He noticed almost immediately that there was something different about this man. He wasn't just another minion that Chernabog had summoned. No, this man had a history with gargoyles. What was it he had said, that Demona had done this to him?
"I have no reason to fight you," Goliath told Gillecomgain, who was showing exceptional speed, strength, and skill for a human. "Any association my clan and I once had with Demona has long since been dissolved."
The Hunter didn't let up his assault. "It doesn't matter. You gargoyles are a curse upon the earth. And that one, Demona, she is the worst, a true demon. She scarred my face when I was but a boy for no reason other than the fact that I was there."
He swung his sword downward, but Goliath caught it, feeling the blade cutting into his hand. "If you're an enemy of Demona, then you are an ally of ours. Why serve the one she has pledged her loyalty to in order to reach her goals? Aid us in stopping this madness."
Gillecomgain pulled his sword free of Goliath's grip. "This madness has naught to do with me. I seek to rid this world of all gargoyles, and I care not how it's done. The dark lord has brought me back to give me this opportunity. Demona may be in his services, but make no mistake, I'll take her down once I deal with you and your clan."
He went on the attack again. Goliath realized that he was a great disadvantage. The Hunter was a powerful warrior with skills obtained over many years for the sole purpose of hunting and killing gargoyles. And up here, in the sky, Goliath couldn't move about as freely as he could on the ground while Gillecomgain simply hovered around where he was.
Ducking beneath the swinging blade, he lashed out, his claws slashing across the Hunter's face in the opposite direction of the scars Demona had left him. Gillecomgain snarled in pain and fury, even as these new wounds healed.
"That's the last time one of you wretched creatures shall touch my face!"
He flew at Goliath, who swerved around him. Pain shot through his body as Gillecomgain whirled around and cut him across his back. That was another advantage the Hunter had; while Goliath's injuries would heal without leaving a mark, he had to wait until his stone sleep rejuvenated him while Gillecomgain's own injuries healed instantly.
Wincing in pain, he looked over his shoulder to see Gillecomgain raise his sword for the killing blow.
"Say goodbye, monster!" he snarled.
Unheard over the intense battle, a gunshot rang out, and the sword was knocked from Gillecomgain's hand. Whirling around, he looked up at the airship as Elisa fired again, this time the bullet going straight through Gillecomgain's right eye.
While any injuries these dead warriors received may have healed instantly, they were not immune to the pain, or the lingering sensations. Gillecomgain howled in agony, his hands going up to cover his face.
Goliath seized the opportunity by wrapping his arms and wings around Gillecomgain. The two fell from the sky, with Goliath maneuvered them so that they fell head first, Gillecomgain struggling all the while, but unable to break the hold.
As the ground rushed up to meet them, Goliath spread his wings once more and released the Hunter. Catching the wind from their descent, he pulled out of the dive at the last moment, but Gillecomgain was unable to stop his momentum in time and smashed into the ground.
Lying in a crater, Gillecomgain's body healed itself, but the impact and feel of his body being smashed remained. It reminded him of when he fell to his death centuries ago. And as he dragged himself out of the crater, Chernabog's massive foot came down on top of him.
"Useless!" the dark god growled as flames erupted beneath his feet as he banished Gillecomgain back to Hell.
His yellow eyes followed Goliath as he rejoined his fellow clan members in the air; fortunately for them, Chernabog's movements created strong air currents that allowed them to practically fly. But Chernabog's gaze left them and traveled up further to the airship, whose reenergized shields were keeping his minions at bay. They swarmed around it, but were unable to break through the barrier.
Chernabog inhaled deeply before breathing a stream of fire at the airship. He cared nothing for the hundreds of his servants that were caught up in the blaze as his fiery breath consumed the airship.
The damage to the shields had already weakened them, but Chernabog's flaming breath brought them down entirely. Fortunately, they also brought down the swarm of ghouls covering it, leaving the occupants momentarily safe from attack.
"Shields are down again!" Fox shouted to Elisa. "Try to keep them off us until I get them working again."
Elisa looked out the large hole in the wall, gun raised. "Easier said than done."
A vicious snarl startled her as something appeared in the opening. Elisa fell back as Demona forced her way inside, her red eyes glowing with excitement and a sinister smile on her face.
"You're mine now, human," she breathed, towering over Elisa, "and there's no one to save you this time."
She apparently hadn't seen Bronx to her right. The canine-like gargoyle barked and pounced at Demona, sinking his fangs into her leg. Demona snarled and began pounding her fist on the poor beast, who refused to let go.
"Stupid mongrel!" she seethed. "You'll die with the other traitors!"
Elisa raised her gun. "Not today."
She fired at point blank range. Demona snarled as bullet after bullet tore through her body. The hits forced her backwards and out the opening. Bronx finally released her as she fell, then went over to Elisa, looking concerned.
Elisa gave him a grateful smile and scratched behind his ears. "Thanks, Bronx, I owe you."
Several horrible shrieks were heard as the opening filled with Chernabog's minions trying to squeeze their way past each other to get in. Elisa jumped up and fired at them as Bronx swiped and bit at them.
"Fox," she cried, "we've got a problem here!"
"It's worse than you know!" Fox called back as her vision outside the window was obscured by a gathering of ghouls and damned souls.
Chernabog's minions completely covered the ship, like ants swarming over a food source. The alarm went off and red lights flashed as the ship began to fall from the sky.
Fox swore and unstrapped herself. "The ship is done for! We have to get out on the escape copter while we can!"
Elisa didn't need to be told twice as she backed away from the ghouls forcing their way inside. "Come on, boy," she said to Bronx as she followed after Fox, firing at any of the creatures that got too close.
They raced to the cargo hold, closing and locking the door behind them to keep the ghouls out. Their escape copter was already ready to go. Once inside, Fox hit the button to open the doors and Chernabog's minions immediately flooded in. Fortunately, the helicopter was equipped with two miniguns, one on either side. Capable of shooting 2,000–6,000 rounds a minute, it unleashed an endless stream of bullets, tearing through anything in their path.
"Here we go!" Fox cried, and flew the helicopter forward.
It burst from the cockpit as Chernabog's minions brought the ship down. It crashed to the ground and erupted in a fiery explosion.
"Cut that a bit close," Elisa muttered.
Fox ignored her sarcasm. "This baby doesn't have a shield generator, so we're going to have to keep our distance and be as inconspicuous as possible."
That didn't seem like it would be too much of a problem since the airship had gone down. Now nearly all the attention was on the Manhattan Clan and Steel Clan, most of the latter having been taken down, only able to take so much damage before they ceased to function.
The gargoyles were at their wits end too. There were far too many enemies that they couldn't even get close to Chernabog, who was watching in amusement. At one point, Broadway found himself overwhelmed by a group of ghouls. Having spotted this, Angela quickly attempted to get to her mate. The distraction allowed several of Chernabog's minions to grab hold of her, preventing her from either attacking or escaping.
"Bring her to me!" Chernabog ordered.
His minions did as their master commanded. Angela struggled, but was unable to break their hold, and her clan was too overwhelmed by enemies to get to her.
Chernabog grinned evilly as she was brought up close to him. "Ladies first, then!"
He reached for her, but something flew in his path.
"No, my lord!" Demona cried, holding her arms out. "Not her! Please, she is my daughter! Kill the others if you will, but please, spare her!"
Infuriated with how her mother could throw away the lives of her father, mate, and friends, Angela spat at her. "You really are a monster! Is your hatred really worth all this?"
Demona ignored her. "Please, my lord, I beg you, leave her be! I'll do anything!"
An irritated scowl crossed the dark god's face. Without a word, his massive hand flew through the air, the back of it colliding with her. Demona was sent speeding through the air like a bullet, slamming into the ground with enough force to form a crater.
"I clearly said to never order me!" Chernabog growled. "Whether it's making a request or openly defying me, there is no difference! Your attachment to this pathetic creature is sickening! Blood means nothing, and is only good to be spilled and drunk! I demand absolute obedience from those that pledge loyalty to me! You shall pay for your insolence with your life!"
He pointed at the crater Demona laid motionless in. A bolt of lightning fell from the sky, striking her still form. A blast of earth rose up, forming a dust cloud from the hit.
Grinning evilly, Chernabog turned his attention back to Angela. "It seems I acted too rashly!" he commented as he cracked his knuckles. "I should have made her watch you die first before killing her! Such a waste of good suffering!" He reached out for her. "Now come to me, my dear!"
Angela continued her futile attempt to pull free as Chernabog's giant hand cast a shadow over her. She shut her eyes, just as the large hand was going to close over her, when a stream of gunfire ran across Chernabog's open palm.
Chernabog snarled and pulled his hand back as what felt like an endless series of needles buried themselves into his hand. The ghouls holding Angela began shrieking as the gunfire was turned on them, coming a little too close for comfort as her captures were fired upon until she was able to pull free.
Higher up in the sky, the helicopter continued to fire as Elisa scolded Fox for shooting too close to Angela while Fox nonchalantly replied that she knew what she was doing.
Chernabog growled as he looked up at the helicopter. These humans were beginning to get on his nerves. They needed to learn their place; crushed beneath his heels to be precise. Their attempts to fight back had been cute and amusing at first, but now it was getting annoying.
Raising his hand towards the helicopter, he began twirling his index finger. The area around the helicopter began to distort as the temperature rose. A moment later, the entire helicopter was trapped within a tornado of fire.
"Do something!" Elisa shouted to Fox as the flaming vortex swirled around them.
Fox tried desperately to maintain control of the copter. "Nothing we can do but press forward."
"What do you mean press for…? Wait, you're not planning to…"
Fox surged the copter forward, right into the spinning wall of flames. They burst through the other side of the fiery funnel with multiple fires ignited on various portions of the copter.
"That was insane," Elisa muttered, looking horrified. Even Bronx looked as if he was going to wet himself.
Equally frightened, but glad her desperate plan had worked, Fox nodded. "Yes, lets not try that again."
Outside the helicopter, the small fires that covered it began to move. Not in the way a normal fire would, but changing shape to take on humanoid and animal forms.
"Are you seeing this?" Fox asked as she watched the flaming silhouettes.
Elisa looked out the window as the beings made entirely out of fire crawled over the copter. "Seeing, still working on believing."
The fiery creatures left trails of fire as the crawled around, attacking different portions of the helicopter, tearing certain areas apart and setting fire to others.
"They're going to take us down!" Fox cried. "We've got to eject! Better grab on, Bronx!"
The dog-like gargoyle barely had time to bury his claws into the back of Elisa's seat before Fox hit the EJECT button. The blades on the helicopter disconnected and the top opened, allowing Fox and Elisa to be launched into the air with Bronx clinging desperately to the latter's seat.
The built-in parachutes were released from the tops of the seats, and the three of them began their slow descent. Out in the open and completely exposed, they watched as a swarm of Chernabog's minions flew towards them. Bronx growled at the oncoming ghouls while Elisa open fired on them as Fox whipped out her own automatic weapon. They both knew that they were kidding themselves. There was no way they would be able to fight off the vast number of approaching fiends, but that didn't stop them from trying.
As Elisa emptied her gun, the large form of Goliath moved in front of her, protecting her from the masses. Xanatos did the same with Fox, and the rest of the Manhattan Clan and Steel Clan soon joined them.
The numerous members of Chernabog's minions circled around the group, blocking any escape attempt they may or may not make. The dark god himself looked on in amusement at their attempts to defend their friends.
"You did well to oppose me, for mortals," he taunted, "but this ends now!"
Bending down, his claws buried into the ground as he gathered up a large pile of rock and dirt. He raised his load over his head and looked towards the others.
"To commend you for your bravery, I shall give you the honor of providing you with a proper burial!"
He threw his armful of earth at them uncaring that his own minions would get caught up in it as well. A wave of dirt and ground rock fell over them, bringing them down and burying them under tons of earth. Chernabog grinned as he watched them vanish beneath it, then stepped onto the pile that was left behind, flattening it.
"This is but a small taste of what this world is in for! You fools should be grateful; a live burial was far too merciful for those that oppose me!" He looked up at the moon. Reaching up, he closed his fist over the sight of it, making it appear as if he had grabbed it from his point of view. "The night is still so young! There is still so much sweet suffering to be felt!"
With an evil chuckle, he began making his way towards the nearest populated area. He was several miles away, but that just meant he had miles of destruction to cause along the way. He was in no real hurry to get there. He had all the time in the world; he was an immortal god after all.
Owen had a really bad feeling about this. The trail of destruction he witnessed as he flew towards the spot where Xanatos' ship had gone down was devastating. Even if he were capable of becoming Puck again and using his magic, he wasn't sure how useful he'd be against a monster like Chernabog. But Queen Titania had appeared to him and ordered him to go and help her daughter while she watched her grandson. And that was how Owen now found himself on route to his employer's current location.
Coming in for a landing, he brought his aircraft down beside the burning remains of Xanatos' airship. He didn't know what had happened to it, but it had been turned into flaming scrap metal. If Chernabog had managed to reduce a giant airship to this, what could he in his modest little airship do?
But the evil god wasn't his priority. Titania had said that her daughter and son-in-law needed help, and he was to make rescuing them his top priority, not taking on a malevolent deity. So, exiting the aircraft, he began his search for the Xanatoses and the Manhattan Clan, hoping he would find more than their bodies.
"Mr. Xanatos!" he called. "Mrs. Xanatos! Detective Maza! Goliath! Where are you?"
He'd be able to do more if Oberon hadn't put such restrictions on his powers, but as he was, he could do no more than wave a flashlight around and call out names.
"Is anyone here?" he hollered. "Give me a sign that you're still alive!"
As if to answer him, a clawed hand burst up from the ground. Goliath roared as he broke the surface, sucking down the cool night air after being buried for so long. Wrapped securely in his wings was Elisa, who coughed horribly as she breathed fresh air for the first time in hours. All around, the Manhattan Clan popped out of the ground, shaking dirt from their bodies as they dug themselves free.
Owen hurried over to them as Xanatos managed to crawl out from under the dirt. In his arms he held Fox, who was unconscious. Fortunately, the dirt hadn't been packed too tightly where they had been; otherwise they all would have been smothered.
"Sir," Owen asked, "are you all right?"
"We've been better." He looked down at Fox in concern. "She's unconscious, but she'll be all right." He glanced at his assistant. "I'm glad you're here, Owen, but I believe I ordered you to stay with and protect Alexander."
"Alex is in trouble?" Lexington cried worriedly.
"Alexander is fine," Owen replied. "The queen is with him, and she insisted that I come after you."
"I figured as much," said Xanatos, getting to his feet as he cradled his wife in his arms. "Do you have a medical kit, Owen?"
"But of course. It's on the ship. Come."
As Xanatos followed after Owen while carrying Fox, the Manhattan Clan exchanged uncertain glances.
"So what do we do now?" Broadway asked.
Goliath carefully placed Elisa on her feet. "Nothing has changed. Chernabog may have delivered a blow to us, but we must still face him."
Lexington hung his head. "We were digging ourselves out of there for hours. I don't think I have any strength left to fight."
"And it'll probably be dawn soon," Brooklyn added. "With as big as that guy is, he'll be long gone by now. We'll never catch up to him before sunrise."
Goliath, unfortunately, agreed. Not even by riding the wind would they be able to catch up to Chernabog before the sun rose.
He walked over to the aircraft where Xanatos was putting a breathing mask on Fox's face. "We have to keep fighting. Once daylight comes, we won't be able to do anything. And come tomorrow night, Chernabog's powers will recover completely, and then he'll truly be unstoppable. We must strike now while we still can."
Xanatos didn't take his eyes off his unconscious wife. "Don't worry, I planned to. Get your clan ready, Goliath, we leave in five minutes.
They followed the trail of destruction Chernabog had left behind. Several miles up ahead, they found the dark god causing further mayhem. He hadn't reached a human populated area yet, but he was amusing himself by slaughtering wild animals. At the moment, he was holding his hand out over a river, causing the water to boil. Thousands of dead fish floating at the surface as an enormous thick cloud of steam rose from the bubbling water.
Upon hearing the aircraft approaching, Chernabog turned his attention to it. With barely a second thought, he held his hand up towards it and shot bolts of electricity from his clawed fingertips at it. The aircraft was much smaller than Xanatos' ship, but it still had a barrier installed, allowing the bolts to bounce right off of it, earning a scowl from the dark god.
"That was close," said Owen. "Lets hope the barrier holds up."
"What happened to his monster army?" Lexington wondered out loud.
Xanatos scoffed. "He probably sent them back to Hell; more for him to destroy."
"No' if we can help it," said Hudson. "Lets go, lads."
The Manhattan Clan leapt from the aircraft and began gliding around Chernabog, whose expression shifted from a scowl to a look of aggravation. "You still live? You pests are becoming a real nuisance!"
"We will not allow you to destroy this world!" Goliath told him.
Chernabog's eyes widened in shock and fury. "Allow me? Allow me!? I am a god! How dare an insignificant worm like you presume to tell me what I can and cannot do!"
From behind the Manhattan Clan, the aircraft fired a series of missiles. They exploded against Charnabog's chest, forcing him backwards. He stepped into the boiling water of the river, stumbling slightly from the drop, but otherwise seemed unharmed, only further irritated.
Glaring up at the others, he looked from the Manhattan Clan to the aircraft, and his angry frown became a sinister sneer. "So, you like to play with fire, do you? So do I!"
He pointed at one of the surrounding mountains and the top blew off, erupting into a volcano. He pointed to another one, and the same thing happened. As lava poured from the two volcanoes, Chernabog raised his arms and laughed maniacally as the entire sky ignited. Sneering, he motioned towards the Manhattan Clan and the aircraft. From up above, balls of fire rained down from the burning sky like flaming asteroids.
"Evasive maneuvers!" Xanatos ordered, wanting to save the shields for when they really needed them. Behind him, Fox stirred and opened her eyes, looking around in confusion. "Huh? David, what's going on?"
"Hello, dear, glad you're feeling better. We're in a bit of a predicament, I'm afraid."
"What about Goliath and the others?" Elisa cried worriedly.
"Not to worry, detective," Owen reassured her, "they seem to be doing fine on their own."
Outside, the Manhattan Clan swerved around the falling fireballs as they made their way to Chernabog. The dark god just grinned and raised his arms. The lava that had flowed out from the volcanoes had gathered around his feet and now rose up behind him in a fiery tidal wave. And as the wave rose, it seemed to take on the form of an enormous firebird, like a phoenix made entirely out of lava.
Chernabog motioned forward and the wave of lava flowed over him, curving to fall over the Manhattan Clan and the aircraft.
"The barrier will protect us," Owen assured them.
"But what about them?" Elisa shouted, seeing that there would be no way for the Manhattan Clan to avoid the wave. "Do something!"
Without even giving him a chance to react, she pushed Owen aside and grabbed the controls, surging the aircraft forward. As the wave came down, the aircraft moved in front of the gargoyles.
"Come together!" Goliath ordered.
They got close beneath the aircraft as the wave fell over them. It was unbearably hot, but the barrier protected them the aircraft, which in turn shielded the Manhattan Clan from their fiery doom.
Chernabog looked impressed against his will. "Rather resourceful of you, but we've only just begun!"
He held out his hand and a flame appeared in his open palm. Closing his hand over it, streams of fire began shooting from the spaces between his fingers.
Swinging his arm, the streams of fire flew through the air like flaming whips. One struck the aircraft, sending it spinning through the air. Another struck the gathered Manhattan Clan, and they too fell from the sky.
"Hot, hot!" Lexington yelped as he and the others patted out the embers on their clothes.
"That really smarts," Brooklyn commented as he brushed his smoking hair.
Chernabog chuckled and raised his hand again. The ground began cracking apart. Smoke rose from down below as magma bubbled up from the cracks. Chernabog repeatedly lowered and raised his hands, causing the smoke to rise up and gather all around.
The Manhattan Clan coughed and wheezed as they tried to find their way out of the cloud of smoke, but it was impossible to see, and the threat of smoke inhalation was very real.
"I can't breath," Lexington coughed.
"Is that you, Lex?" came Brooklyn's voice from somewhere in the cloud. "I can't see anything. Where are you guys?"
"This way!" came Hudson's voice. "Everyone talk loudly! Follow each others' voices!"
Struggling to remain conscious with the lack of air, they managed to find their way out of the cloud. Chernabog's ugly sneering face greeted them as they made it out, and he reached for them. With yelps of surprise, they maneuvered around his hand, managing to avoid being caught since Chernabog couldn't seem to decide which of them he should grab.
As they glided past his face, each gargoyle slashed at him. Their attacks proved to be useless until Hudson threw his dagger at the dark god's eye. He missed his target, but Chernabog seemed to realize what he had been trying to do.
Infuriated, he whirled around, seeing that the others had glided out of his reach. Raising his hand, he conjured another fireball. Closing his fist over it, he lashed out, only instead of fire whips, an entire tornado of fire flew out of his hand.
Chernabog laughed as he twirled the fiery tornado around. The suction pulled the Manhattan Clan back, sucking them into the flaming vortex. Unable to fight against it, they could only helplessly watch as the fiery tornado sucked them in.
The aircraft fired another missile, and it exploded against the back of Chernabog's head. He stumbled forward, grunting and his hold on the fiery tornado was let loose, causing it to disperse.
Momentarily forgetting the Manhattan Clan, the dark god turned his glowing yellow eyes up at the aircraft. He saw that there were a few missiles they could still use. He focused on one of the missiles, and the temperature of it began to rise. As it began to glow orange, the heat finally caused it to explode.
The aircraft spun out of control. Owen tried desperately to get the controls to respond, but it was useless. Even the shields powered down completely. And as they made their descent, the aircraft brought them straight towards Chernabog, who raised his fist.
The Manhattan Clan got there first. As the aircraft fell, Goliath latched onto the side and tore the door off its hinges. "Elisa," he cried, "give me your hand!"
As Goliath got her out, the rest of the gargoyles got out the others. Xanatos, whose cyber suit had stopped functioning, was pulled out by Broadway, Fox by Angela, Owen by Brooklyn, and Bronx by Hudson. Chernabog's fist came down on the aircraft just as the last of them got out. The aircraft dropped to the ground in a fiery inferno, smashed by Chernabog's fist.
The Manhattan Clan found an area free of lava and set down their comrades. A shadow fell over the group as Chernabog towered over them. He raised his over them and a rain of fireballs fell from his open palm. As they fell, the flames suddenly changed from fire to flesh. A number of slightly humanoid animals fell swooped down from up above. They would have fallen on top of the humans and gargoyles, crushing them beneath a massive pile of bodies, but at the last moment, they all sprouted wings and began flying above and around them.
"Flying barn animals," said Brooklyn, "now I've seen everything."
"He's got us surrounded," said Lexington. "We can't get away. What do we do?"
Chernabog laughed. "Is it not obvious?" He cupped his hands together and conjured another fireball, this one growing until it was the size of a beach ball to him. "Now you die!"
Goliath wrapped his wings protectively around Elisa. Broadway did the same to Angela, and Xanatos pulled Fox underneath him as Chernabog raised the massive fireball over his head, ready to turn the entire are into a fire inferno.
But the higher he lifted the fireball, the smaller it became. It continued to shrink until it completely burned out in a puff of smoke. Chernabog lowered his arms, looking at his hands in confusion. As he looked on, his hands began to turn to stone. The process continued up his arms and began happening on other portions of his body.
Chernabog looked over his shoulder at the rising sun. An annoyed scowl crossed his face as he realized the dawn had arrived. For so many years, he was used to the bell from the village ringing to signal the coming of the day that he had almost forgotten that it would no longer sound when the dawn came.
"Damn!" he grumbled. "Time truly flies when you're having fun!"
Being so large, the petrification process took longer than it did with the other gargoyles, but as the seconds ticked by, more and more of his body turned to stone.
Looking down at the others, who had yet to have the sun's rays fall upon them, he gave them a wicked sneer. "It seems tonight has come to an end! It was fun while it lasted, and I commend you for standing your ground against me! Tomorrow night, when I awaken with my powers fully restored, the real fun shall begin!" Grinning evilly, he raised his partly petrified foot over them. "It's just a shame you won't be there to witness it!"
Still trapped by the surrounding swarm of animals, the others could do nothing as Chernabog prepared to flatten them. Loved ones grabbed onto each other as others ducked and covered, preparing for the end.
"NOT MY DAUGHTER!"
The cry came from a loud speaker. Chernabog looked up to see a helicopter speeding towards him. At the controls was Demona, her body twisting in pain as the morning light changed her from gargoyle to human.
Chernabog reached for her, his moments slow and sluggish as he continued to petrify. The helicopter swerved around his hand and slammed into his chest, exploding against him. He stumbled back, one foot stepping into the river. The drop caused him to stumble further, and he lost his footing.
Down on the ground, the sunlight fell over the Manhattan Clan as well. They too began turning to stone as they succumbed to the morning light. The last thing they saw was the massive form of Chernabog tumbling to the ground.
It was the moment of truth. Within the next few moments, it would be determined whether or not the world would be truly destroyed or not. There had been no use running and hiding, especially since they were a few days hike away from civilization, and Chernabog would eventually bring the world to ruin no matter where they went. So instead, they stayed by the Manhattan Clan's side, waiting to see what would happen.
As the sun set and day became night, the seven statues began to awaken. One by one, they shed their stony exterior and became flesh once more, completely healed from any injuries they had obtained the night before.
Goliath's eyes landed on Elisa, and he rushed to her side. "Elisa, are you all right?"
She nodded, giving him a smile. "Fit as a fiddle."
"We're all ok," Xanatos replied. He looked at Goliath and the others. "Glad to see you're doing well too."
Hudson looked around. "What's happening here? Where's Chernabog?"
Owen calmly removed his glasses and cleaned them. "It seems you don't need to worry about him anymore."
"He's gone to pieces," Xanatos told them.
He motioned over to the broken remains of a giant statue. Chernabog, in his stone state, lay broken. His torso was split in half, both wings, a leg, one arm and half of the other, along with half of his tail had broken off his body, and his upper jaw and up had broken off of his lower jaw, leaving him with less than half a head.
"He broke apart when he hit the ground," Fox explained. "We weren't sure if he was damaged enough or not to awaken when the sun set, but it looks like luck was on our side."
"What about all those flying animals?" Brooklyn asked.
"They disappeared when the sunlight hit them," said Xanatos. "And all the fire and lava Chernabog summoned burned out shortly afterwards."
Goliath visibly relaxed. "Then it's over."
Elisa playfully punched his shoulder. "Looks like you guys did it."
Goliath shook his head. "No, we merely drew Chernabog's attention throughout the night. It was Demona that truly stopped him."
"But why?" asked Angela. "He was going to wipe out humanity. That was what she wanted. Why did she stop him?"
Hudson placed a hand on her shoulder. "Is it no' obvious, lass? She did it to save yeh."
Angela blinked. "What?"
"I have to agree," Xanatos replied. "Demona may be an evil murderer bent on destroying humanity, but she's still your mother. When their child's life is in danger, a parent will do anything, even give up their greatest ambitions, in order to save them. As a father, I know this well."
Owen adjusted his glasses. "Demona never wanted you to get hurt. I assume she thought that she could persuade you to pledge your loyalty to Chernabog, or at the very least convince him to spare you if you stayed out of his way. If so, she greatly underestimated his appetite for destruction and his desire to rule all."
"Whatever her reasons," Fox added, "she wanted to keep you safe. When it became apparent that Chernabog would not spare you, she had to make a choice, the destruction of humanity, or the life of her daughter. She chose you."
Angela looked down, unsure how to feel. She was happy that her mother loved her, but it didn't change the fact that she was a cruel, evil, vindictive person with a desire for absolute genocide.
"She probably would have sacrificed me if this had been her only chance, but there's other ways she can still kill off humanity."
Elisa walked over to her and gave her a hug, smiling at her reassuringly. "Hey, don't feel too down about it. Even with all her flaws, your mother still loves you. She gave up a surefire way to destroy humanity for you. That's got to count for something."
But the female gargoyle didn't look convinced as she viciously wiped the tears from her eyes. "She may not be willing to sacrifice me for her goals, but neither is she willing to change her ways for me. If she can find another way to wipe out humanity without sacrificing me, she'll do it. She still clings to her hatred more than me."
"Angela," Goliath sighed, "we all know that Demona will never be able to let go of her hatred. But as much as she hates humans, she loves you enough to spare them if it means keeping you alive. Take comfort in that, and know that for as twisted and evil Demona may be, she is still capable of love."
They fell silent for a time before Lexington ruined the moment by opening his mouth. "Where is Demona anyway? The last we saw of her, she crashed into Chernabog. We all know she can't die unless it's by Macbeth's hands."
"She's there," Xanatos replied, motioning to Chernabog's remains. "When Chernabog fell, he came down on top of her. She was still in the helicopter at the time, but she'll still have been flattened."
"And," Owen added, "as Lexington here pointed out, she can't die. Meaning she's trapped beneath about several hundred feet of solid rock."
The Manhattan Clan exchanged looks, all wondering the same thing. Do they leave her there, or do they try to get her out?
"You know that if we rescue her, she'll just go back to trying to kill us and all of humanity tomorrow," said Brooklyn.
"We could lock her up," Elisa suggested.
Lexington scratched his head. "Yeah, that didn't work out so well last time."
Goliath looked to where Demona was buried then back at Angela. She met his eyes for a few seconds before looking away, not saying anything.
Goliath sighed. "Leave her to her fate."
Elisa gave him an uncertain look. "Goliath, are you sure?"
"Demona chose her fate. She is responsible for her own actions, and they have led her here. Now she shall reap what she has sown. We will not aid her just so she may continue her war on us and humanity."
"Well spoken," said Xanatos. "Perhaps several dozen millennia from now, all that rock will eventually erode away and break down enough for her to finally get out. Maybe by then humanity will have even driven itself to extinction, and she'll have the type of world she wants. Or perhaps she'll never get out and will remain trapped in her own personal Hell forever. Whatever happens, it's as you said, Goliath, her own choices have led her to her fate, and now she is suffering the consequences. It's poetic justice."
They fell into an awkward silence, unsure of what else to say. Chernabog was defeated, and Demona was finally out of their hair.
"So, what now?" Brooklyn asked.
"We shall return to our lives," Goliath replied. "Demona may be gone, but there is still Castaway and the Quarrymen to worry about."
"Yes," Owen agreed, "and if they get wind of what happened here, they would further use it to spread their hatred."
"But…" Lexington muttered, "we just saved the world."
Hudson shook his head. "Doesn' matter, lad. Chernabog left a town in ruin and created a trail o' destruction for miles. When the humans investigate this, all they will see is destruction leadin' up to the remains of a giant gargoyle. It'll be enough to further their cause."
"I'm afraid he's right," said Xanatos. "Even if they did learn the truth, Castaway would ignore the good you've done and find some way to pin this on you guys."
"So what do we do?" Broadway asked.
"Nothing," Goliath replied. "We will return to the city and try and protect the world Chernabog sought to destroy. Though there may be much evil in this world, there is also much good in it as well, and that is worth fighting for. That is worth dying for."
Xanatos slapped Goliath on the back. "Well spoken. And don't worry so much about Castaway. After taking on a god, a few crazy humans won't be much trouble."
Elisa took hold of Goliath's hand. "And we'll be there to help you."
He gave her an appreciative smile. "You have our gratitude."
Owen casually pushed his glasses farther up his nose. "That's good to know. Perhaps you could show your gratitude by giving us a ride back to the city. With our transportation destroyed, it would take several days to walk back."
Goliath took Elisa in his arms as each of the gargoyles grabbed hold of one of the others. Spreading their wings, they took off, gliding on the wind as they disappeared into the night.