by Kara Senecal

         It had to have been nighttime. In his half doze, Xanatos could hear the Gargoyles out on the castle ramparts, snarling and screaming as they cracked their stony shells. He grimaced, but kept his eyes closed, raising only a heavy hand to massage his forehead. His skull still rang from Alex's botched magic lesson, and Xanatos briefly feared that he might be left with a migraine for the rest of the evening.
        Again, Xanatos grimaced, remembering how he had bellowed at his son in a stupid rage. Why did he do that? All Alex did was break a mirror. It really wasn't a big deal, but Xanatos' temper had been short all that day; that thug Dracon had been nosing around XanaCorp buildings, trying to find out what new weapon Xanatos was perfecting. That, and he had had several horrible arguments with Fox. Some of their worst, so far.
         But he shouldn't have yelled at Alex. And he shouldn't have been rude to Fox.
        Sighing, he opened his eyes wearily, but didn't dare look to his wife. He could feel the warmth radiating from her body beside him, and he gently reached out to touch her arm. "Fox ?"
        The strange, invasive voice sent Xanatos rocketing out of his bed, gasping in horror and wheeling around on clumsy feet. Seeing the woman sitting up in his bed, Xanatos felt his eyes nearly pop out of his head.
        She narrowed her eyes at him and frowned. "Whatz the matter? Ya act like you've never seen me before."
         "Wh-What? But-" Horrified, Xanatos shook his head, took another step back, felt his hair fall into his face. He began to reach up to brush it away but he finally stopped and took a look at it.
         His hair was slate gray.
           A strangled swear caught in his throat and Xanatos spun around, racing to the full mirror in the corner of the room. Seeing the man staring back at him, Xanatos nearly leapt out of his skin.
         It looked like his father.
 It took Xanatos two full minutes before he realized he was looking at himself.
         Terror swamped his mind and Xanatos could feel the strength seeping out of his knees, felt his stomach heave against his ribs. Catching a corner of the mirror, Xanatos pulled himself upright and forced himself to turn around and face Hyena.
         "What are you doing here?" he spat, feeling blood rush into his face. "Where's Fox?!"
         Hyena's eyes widened in honest shock, and her mouth fell open. "You musta got cracked harder on the head than I thought, Davie," she said, blinking once. "What are you talking about? Fox's with Dracon an' his stooges, like always."
        Her shock turned to annoyance, and Hyena stood up, circling around the bed to find her jeans. "Dontchya remember? Don't tell me a little dent in the skull's got you forgetting everythin' now."
         Xanatos didn't understand. Backing away from Hyena, he lifted a hand to the back of his head, wincing as he found a line of stitches hidden beneath his gray hair.
         This wasn't right. Hyena must have done something to him.
        "Where's Alex?" he demanded, feeling a rush of fury shoot through his body.
        Hyena stood up, rolling her eyes as she buttoned her jeans. "In her room, like always."
         "Her ?"
        "Duh! We have a daughter, Xanatos . Although I thought you never really noticed, despite the thirty years we've been married."
         "Thirty ? We're married?"
        Anger tightening her face, Hyena spun around, her brown hair slapping her across her cheeks. "Oh, so you finally noticed?"
         Xanatos felt himself jump at her snarl. He braced himself, expecting her cybernetic claws to come singing through the air to his face.
        Instead, Hyena gave him a small, fierce growl and turned away, shrugging on a shirt.
         Suddenly, Xanatos realized that Hyena was was normal. She was human. Where were her robotic enhancements?
         "Are you just going to stand there?" Hyena snapped, bring Xanatos back to earth with a crash. "We got things to do I'll betchya anything that Dracon's cronies will be paying us a visit."
         This wasn't right. Confused, Xanatos' head reeled as he wracked his brain, searching for clues, for answers.
         An idea hit him. "Uh, Hyena where's Owen?"
        Hyena almost tripped over her own feet in her disbelief. She gave Xanatos an incredulous look. "Xanatos Owen's dead, remember?"
         Everything inside of Xanatos froze to ice. He stared at Hyena, his mouth opened, but no sounds came out. 
        With a slightly disgusted look, Hyena turned away again, and made her way into the hall.
         Slowly, the numbness faded, was able to stagger around, take another look at himself in the mirror. He looked at his reflection almost blankly, wondering at his gray hair and beard and moustache, at the pitted scarring along one cheekbone.
         Meeting his bloodshot eyes in the mirror, Xanatos slowly shook his head. "This isn't right," he whispered, his voice hoarse. "It it must have been from Alex's magic. Something happened and "
         And things changed.
         But how much?
          Outside, Xanatos heard Bronx yap excitedly as he tore along one of the ramparts.
         Remembering, Xanatos spun around and rushed to his closet, pulling out a few odd coats and jackets that he didn't recognize. Quickly dressing himself, Xanatos rushed out of his room and took the stairs to the castle courtyard two at a time, though his knees oddly ached and burned.
         Ignoring the pain, Xanatos barreled through the door, his eyes skimming the castle's towers and allures. Overhead, several smaller, slimmer creatures swooped on the air currents, and Xanatos felt himself smile: the Rookies. They were here.
         Suddenly, something shifted on a tower rampart, and Xanatos instantly recognized the brooding crouch Goliath often took when he thought. Nearly joyful at seeing the big lug, Xanatos raced up the stairs to the high wall, not noticing how badly he wheezed.
         "Goliath!" he choked, stumbling up the last few steps. "Goliath, thank God, I was afraid-"
         Surprised to hear his voice, the Gargoyle turned, the lights from the castle lamps shimmering across his black skin.
         Xanatos cried out in shock, backpedaling wildly as the strange creature blinked in surprise, impatiently swapping a lock of his wild red hair away from his face.
         "Hey, Mr. Xanatos," it said, and Xanatos jerked back in disbelief. The Gargoyle sounded like Goliath, but-but it spoke like a teenager!
        "Whoa, easy!" it cried, stepping off of its battalion and holding one dark hand up. "Take another step and you might break a leg although I think your wife would like that."
         Xanatos felt his chest constrict. Who what was this? It looked like
        "Thailog?" he rasped.
         The tall Gargoyle started, as though amazed that Xanatos had spoken the name. "Mr. Xanatos it's me! Nikolai!"
        The Gargoyle's jaw dropped. "Wow you're not becoming amnesic, are you?"
         As if to remind him, the stitching atop Xanatos's head flared painfully. Wincing, he clapped a gloved hand to his skull, struggling to think; Hyena had said something about him getting hit in the head
         "I I hope not," Xanatos replied, trying to muster up the strength to stay calm. He forced a weak grin on his face. "I guess I'm still a little foggy after what happened."
        "Really." The Gargoyle smiled, looking relieved. "We all kinda panicked when that wall came down. Good thing Angela grabbed you, huh?"
         "I guess I really don't remember." Frowning, Xanatos glanced away, over the castle battlements. He was suddenly struck by how quiet the city was. "Uh, Nikolai where's Goliath? I was kind of hoping "
        "He's in the North Tower," Nikolai replied, sweeping his crazed red hair out of his face again. "I think he's talking with Angela."
         Hearing that, a relieved sigh rushed out of Xanatos's lungs. Goliath was here.
        "Thanks, Nikolai." Turning away, Xanatos started back down the allure steps, hurrying as quickly as his suddenly aged body would allow. As he passed the fountain in the center of the courtyard, Bronx gave a gleeful yip and plunged into the water.
        Grimacing, Xanatos sidestepped the splattering water. He frowned at the Gargoyle dog, wondering why Bronx had suddenly developed an affinity for swimming.
         "Bonnie!" a voice scolded, and something swooped into Xanatos's view. Xanatos heard himself gasp as a purple-skinned, dragon-winged Lexington dropped out of the sky, landing neatly on the edge of the fountain. Grumbling, the Gargoyle caught the dog creature by the scruff of the neck, his talons slipping on the animal's sleek, golden fur. "How many time do I have to tell you ?"
        Barking, the Gargoyle dog pounced, knocking the Lexington look-alike off of the fountain. Pinning him beneath her paws, the thing-Bonnie-began ecstatically licking at the Gargoyle's face.
         "Yagh! Bonnie, stop!" Looking rather disgusted, the Gargoyle pushed Bonnie away, wiping his face with the back of his hand. "Stupid dog "
         Surprised, Bonnie cocked her head at him.
          Sighing, the Gargoyle stood up. Spotting Xanatos standing nearby, the Gargoyle gave him a half-hearted smile. "Hey, Mr. X. How're you feeling?"
         Caught off guard, Xanatos blinked, realizing that it was talking to him. "Uh, better, I think uh "
         "Concord," the Gargoyle prompted. His smile grew a little wider. "At least you didn't call me 'Lexington' again."
         "Yeah I, uh, got to work on that." His stomach twisting in knots, Xanatos turned away and sprinted for the North Tower.
         Crashing through the tower door, Xanatos tore up the steps, amazed to hear himself pant as he made it only half way up. Promising himself to install an elevator when he fixed all this, Xanatos stumbled up the last step, reaching the door and pounding it hard. "Goliath! Goliath, let me in! We've got to talk!"
         Almost immediately, the door swung open, and a jolt surged through Xanatos as the form of Delilah greeted him.
         "Xanatos, are you all right?" she asked, her eyes wide. "You look like you've seen a ghost."
         "Uh I, uh " Shaking himself awake, Xanatos composed himself. "Yeah, I'm fine, Delilah. Is Goliath available?"
         "Yeah, come in."
        Unnerved, Xanatos stepped inside. Allowing his eyes to adjust to the dim light, Xanatos quickly surveyed the tower room, surprised at the array of weaponry on the walls, the tapestries, the fire burning in the hearth.
         Sitting before the fire, two figures sat at opposite ends of a table, talking in low voices. Hoping the larger of the two figures was Goliath, Xanatos summoned his courage and stepped forward.
         His ears perking to the sound of footfalls, the big Gargoyle looked up, and a smile of relief flashed across his face. He stood and extended a hand. "Xanatos, thank the gods. I feared we lost you."
        Xanatos shook his head, not knowing what to say. Numbingly, he took Goliath's wrist, surprised at the gesture.
         Goliath grinned. "Lucky for you Angela found ye before the whole wall came down, eh?"
         The figure at Xanatos's elbow shifted, and he glanced down, startled to see Angela.
        Sweeping her cropped hair behind one ear, Angela smiled at him. "And you thought I wouldn't make a suitable clan leader."
         Clan leader?
        Finally, Xanatos saw the armor on Angela's suddenly well-muscled body, the scarring from old laser burns, the gun strapped to her thigh. He wasn't aware that he was staring until Angela glanced away and shifted uncomfortably. 
         "I should be getting back," Angela said, standing gracefully. "I need to brief the Rookies. If you need anything, Father "
         "Auc, get a'goin'," Goliath said, leaning over to kiss his daughter on the cheek. "I'm fairly certain I can manage."
         Smiling, Angela returned the kiss, nodded to Xanatos, then turned away to embrace Delilah. "I'll see you all later."
         "Hang on!" a little voice piped up.
        Leaping about a foot in the air, Xanatos spun around, gasping as a small, tanned-skinned Gargoyle went tearing out of an adjacent room, skidding around Goliath, blasting past Delilah, and out the door, bounding down the tower steps. "See ya!"
         Her eyes flaring, Delilah raced to the doorway, roaring, "Edana, get back here! You're still grounded!"
         Furious, Delilah spun around, glaring at Goliath. "Honey, do something!!"
         "Like what?" Goliath asked, smirking. "She gets it from you!"
        Amused by the exchange, Angela shook her head. "I'll catch her." Waving goodbye, Angela turned and sprinted down the tower steps, shouting, "Eddie! Slow down!"
         Dazed, Xanatos watched Angela disappear. For a moment, he was afraid he was going to get sick.
         "Goliath we need to talk."
         "Aye?" Surprised, Goliath cocked a brow ridge. "About what?"
         "Uh " Swallowing hard, Xanatos glanced at Delilah imploringly.
          She got the hint. "Uh, I'll uh, just visit Midori "
         Goliath nodded, giving Delilah a small wave as she slipped out of the room, closing the door behind her.
         The air rushed out of Xanatos's lungs and he collapsed into a chair, burying his face into his strangely gnarled hands. 
         He didn't know what to do.
          Across from him, Goliath frowned. "Donna tell me Hyena's been hassling ye again?"
        "Huh? O-oh No, it's not that." Feeling his shoulders slump, Xanatos glanced up at Goliath, dimly noting the white that streaked the Gargoyle's hair. "I'm a little confused. I guess I was hit harder then we all thought."
        "Yeah I mean-" Bolstering his charade, Xanatos forced a sheepish laugh. "I don't actually remember getting hit."
         Goliath blinked, then chuckled, reaching for a wine bottle before him. "Well, I wasn't there to see it, but Carlos and Adam certainly filled my ear about it
        "You and the clan went out last night to check your warehouse at the docks Dracon's creatures have been runnin' around there, lately, and ye wanted to make sure all of the supplies and weapons were safe. Angela went with you-she insisted-and took the Rookies along She said she had a bad feeling about it all.
        "Naturally, she was right. Ye weren't there for more than three minutes before the Golems barreled their way through the walls. The wall you were standing beside started to crumble. A chunk of concrete fell and smashed right through your helmet. You were out cold.
        "Angela managed to grab you before the entire wall came down. She went between helping you and fighting the monsters off with the Rookies." Again, Goliath chuckled. "The lads were certainly impressed."
          "I can see why," Xanatos murmured, raising a hand to probe the stitches at the top of his head. He grimaced. "The boys that's another thing; everything seems so foggy. I'm having a hard time remembering all of the Rookies' names."
         Goliath's eyes widened. "Good Lord."
         "I'm sorry, my friend, but ye've never forgotten a name before now except for Concord's." Sighing, Goliath lifted the wine bottle and popped the cork. "Well "
         Feeling uneasy, Xanatos gestured to the bottle. "I think I'm gonna need some of that."
        As Goliath poured the wine into two mugs, he began to name every Rookie, along with their parents: Nikolai, the son of Thailog and Demona; Adam, the son of Ophelia and Broadway; Carlos, the son of Brooklyn and Obsidiana; Concord and Seraphina, the twin children of Angela and Lexington; Midori, the daughter of Demona and Kai; Bonnie, one of the pups from Bronx and Boudica's litter; and Eddie, or Edana, Goliath and Delilah's daughter.
         "She's a fiery lass, that one," Goliath said, pride permeating his voice. "Like her sister." Pausing to down the last remnants of his wine, Goliath gestured vaguely off to the side. "There's Anetha, too, but she isn't here."
         Xanatos choked on his wine. Gagging, he spat out what he hadn't swallowed, and quickly wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve, looking at Goliath in horror. "Anetha? Anetha's alive?"
          If Goliath had looked concerned before, he certainly looked worried now. "Aye Athena's clone. Ye donna remember? We helped Athena rescue Anetha from Sevarius' labs. The two of them are living in the old Saint John's Cathedral with Thailog." Goliath's eyes narrowed. "Why did you think Anetha died?"
         "Uh " What could Xanatos say? That, in "his world", Anetha had been a sadistic killer, mentally and physically ill, had mutated into a vicious beast before her own body had turned on her and killed her?
         He shrugged. "Must've dreamt it."
         "Demona's living in Japan?"
         Goliath nodded. "After the government decided to shut Manhattan off from the rest of the world, Demona was one of the few who made it out early. She took her business to Japan, and she met Kai. They had Midori, and sent her here to learn and help us.
         "Brooklyn went to Guatemala a few months ago to help Obsidiana and her clan protect the Green. Their son, Carlos, stayed here to finish his training with Angela."
         This was getting weirder by the minute. "And ?"
        "And? And Ophelia went back to Avalon to help keep Dracon's monsters from invading, so she left Broadway and Adam here to help us. And "
         Suddenly, Goliath's face tightened, and he glanced away, his eyes falling to the mug he held in one taloned hand. "And Delilah and Thailog were the only ones who managed to escape Sevarius' labs when he allied himself with Dracon. Everyone else, all the other mutates and clones were destroyed.
         "Matt Bluestone had been wounded badly in the early wars, so he was forced to evacuate Manhattan along with the others. Elisa, Owen, Hudson, and Bronx all died trying to help the people get out and then Lexington was killed "
         Biting back a snarl, Goliath reached for the wine bottle again. "If it hadn't been for Dracon, the government wouldn't have made the city into a no man's land. We should have killed him when we had a chance."
         This didn't sound like Goliath. Xanatos massaged the bridge of his nose, groaning. "Oh, boy "
         Goliath shook his head. "But the past is past, eh? Did I clear things up for you, my friend?"
         "Uh, yeah but tell me; how's Athena doing, relearning all of her magick? I don't remember "
         "Fairly well, I'd say," Goliath replied, shrugging with one shoulder. "I don't get to see her often enough, though; what with my leg and all."
        His leg?
         Before Xanatos could inquire, Goliath shrugged again. "Most of what I hear, I hear from the Rookies. Especially Nikolai."
        Goliath smiled and shook his head. "Too bad the boy doesn't have the courage to tell Anetha how he feels. Ah well."
        "Y-yeah " Downing the last of his wine, Xanatos stood. "Okay. Thanks, Goliath."
        "No problem." Goliath stood and extended a hand.
          As Xanatos reached to grasp the hand, he casually glanced down at Goliath's leg. He felt his eyes fly open in horror as a mechanical limb gleamed in the firelight.
         "I'll talk to ye later," Goliath said, not noticing the revulsion on Xanatos' face.
        Nodding quickly, Xanatos turned and quickly crossed the room to the tower doorway. Throwing it open, he raced down the steps.
 'Athena's here,' his mind ranted, 'She's here. She can fix this for me.'
         Stumbling through the doorway, Xanatos felt his head reel as several pair of heads turned to regard him. Catching the doorjamb, Xanatos tried to grin and shrug, as if to say that he was all right.
         As soon as the Gargoyles' attention was returned to Angela, who looked powerfully intimidating in her armor, Xanatos stopped in his tracks, pausing long enough to pick the Gargoyles out of the crowd; Angela and Broadway were both there. Sitting on the fountain wall, the little tan Gargress-Edana-listened as Angela briefed the others, while petting an alert-looking Bonnie. Next to Edana sat a male Gargoyle, whom Xanatos would have mistaken for Brooklyn if it weren't for his blue skin and black hair.
         Nikolai stood nearby, next to a Gargress with wild black hair and green skin. She looked almost exactly like Demona; that must have been Midori.
         Beside Broadway, a smaller, slimmer, paler, ponytailed version of himself stood; Adam.
        Finally, a pair of lavender colored Gargoyles sat cross-legged before Angela; one was Concord. The other, the one who looked uncannily like Angela, must have been Seraphina, Angela's daughter.
         The confusion returned, and Xanatos tore his gaze away from the new clan. What in the world had happened to him? Where was he?
        Clenching his fists, he began to pick up his pace, moving purposely towards the storeroom where he kept his Steel Clan armor.
         He was going to have to find Athena in order to understand everything and to put it right.


         'I must be having a nightmare,' Xanatos thought, feeling his stomach lurch as he gazed through the infrared lenses of his helmet. Swallowing hard, Xanatos swooped lower, jolting with surprise as his armor gracefully dipped lower to the city. Wonderingly, he raised a gauntleted hand to his face, studying the intricate designs; this suit was not like the one he had back home ... his real home, that is. This suit seemed to have been upgraded, built more like a Gargoyle and less like a machine. Before Xanatos' eyes, computer analysis flicked in and out of view, showing him how his metal wings adjusted to the slightest shift in the wind current.
        He found it easier to steer the armor, found it easier to see through the eye lenses, to switch views and angles without moving his  head.
         It was very odd.
        Xanatos' heart sank: Lexington. Lexington must have fixed this up for Xanatos.
        And now, Lex was dead.
        'Everything looks dead,' Xanatos thought worriedly, watching as blasted out shells of buildings passed beneath him. New York was dark as the night sky, silent as a ghost. It made Xanatos shudder as he remembered in his real world, he could hear the blaring of car horns and be blinded by the bright lights even at the highest tower of the Aerie Building.
         Glancing uneasily away from the building that was once Elisa Maza's apartment complex, Xanatos tried to piece together everything he had learned thus far; Fox had married Dracon for God-knows-what-reason. Dracon became top dog in the mob racket. He had started to move in on Xanatos' personal territory and had overseen the robbery and destruction of several XanaCorp and Genutech buildings. 
         In response, Xanatos struck back, attacking Dracon's storehouses and disrupting the crime lord's drugs-and-weapons sales. This had sparked some sort of violent gang war. The Gargoyles were forced to team up with Xanatos-he was the lesser of the two evils, he supposed. Sevarius had double-crossed Xanatos and joined Dracon's army, spawning thousands of what Adam and Concord described as being "big, disgusting, and deadly."
         New York was being decimated. The Senate and House voted to sever its link with the island, deciding to wait until Dracon and Xanatos had killed each other, rather than spending its precious money, or dropping a few thousand missiles on the place.
          Elisa, Hudson, Bronx, and Owen had worked to get the fleeing New Yorkers across the Brooklyn Bridge before the Navy destroyed it. Somehow, they were trapped on the bridge, and died as battleships let loose their arsenal.
         As far as Xanatos knew, Demona was on his side. She regularly sent provisions and weapons to him, but could not join the battle herself, though she wished to. Demona had escaped New York long before the bridges were destroyed, but she was ordered by the government not to return. Angry, Demona moved to Japan, planning to make regular trips to New York by night, when she was a Gargoyle, to help the clan and to see the son she had been forced to leave behind: Nikolai.
         On the return of one such trip, Demona met the Gargoyles of Clan Ishimura. Accepted into the clan, Demona began to work with their leader, Kai, to rid their city of demons. But after the demons had been destroyed, Demona was reluctant to leave the clan she loved-or Kai. Married happily, Kai and Demona had three daughters and a son. Their oldest child, Midori, was studying to become a warrior. She wanted to come to New York to engage in real combat. Demona was not pleased with the idea at first, but then relented; Midori was a fine warrior. She could provide Xanatos with much needed help.
        Brooklyn and Goliath had another huge fight after the Big Guy lost his leg, and Brooklyn left them, deciding to go to Guatemala to help the Gargoyles there. He and Obsidiana fell in love, and now their son, Carlos, romanced by the action and adventure in New York, had decided to stay and join the fight.
         After Brooklyn abandoned them, a power struggle arose as to who would lead the clan; Angela, Thailog, and Midori were all qualified. But Midori was still young, and Goliath refused to allow his adoptive daughter risk her life as leader. Thailog was the sensible next choice, but after helping Athena rescue her last surviving clone-Anetha 12-from Sevarius' labs, Thailog decided to stay with Athena, helping her protect those humans who had not escaped Manhattan in time.
         Angela succeeded Goliath as leader, but her new role soon drove a wedge between her and Broadway. Disgusted, and agreeing with Xanatos that Angela would not be a good leader, Broadway left New York in search of new Gargoyle recruits on Avalon. Almost as soon as Broadway had told the Guardian Tom what the situation was like in Manhattan, Ophelia was the first to volunteer to fight. Taken with her spirit and beauty, Broadway instantly fell in love with her. Together, they went to New York, and, between the raging battles that took place, managed to raise a son, Adam.
         Ophelia was forced to return to Avalon after a severe injury. She promised to return, and though Broadway was well aware of the time difference in Avalon, he was unhappy with her long absence. No longer cheerful, Broadway would pace the castle turrets while Adam, ever the scholar, searched Xanatos's library and studied such books as "The Art of War".
         Apparently, despite Xanatos's supposed 'misgivings' about Angela being leader, Angela proved to be a superb commander. But the stress of leading the clan and fighting monsters had started to take its toll on Angela. She began to lock herself in a room, saying that, "she needed to think". In reality, Angela wept, doubting her ability to protect her clan and worrying that she may get someone or all of them killed.
        One night, Lexington found that she had forgotten to lock the door. Thinking that he would simply check in on her, Lex was horrified to see Angela crying. He moved to comfort her, and well
       Meanwhile, Goliath had grown frustrated and irritable, angry that he couldn't be out there with Angela, fighting alongside her and the rookies. He had taken to sulking in his room or in the library, thinking that the clan was shutting him out. It seems that Delilah, having fallen in love with the unsuspecting Goliath, began to stay behind for sentry duty, going out of her way to meet Goliath and to try to cheer him up. Touched by her kindness, Goliath's mood improved. Pleased to have someone be with him, Goliath took Delilah as a mate, and now they had a scrappy daughter tearing about the building.
         And somehow, in the middle of it all, Xanatos had married Hyena.
        And worse yet, they had a daughter.
         A beeping sensor broke through Xanatos's thoughts, alerting him that the St. John's Cathedral was two blocks away. Xanatos drew in a deep breath, somewhat relieved, somewhat worried: what if Athena couldn't help him?
        Just as he began to ponder the thought further, an intrusive wail screamed into his ear. Startled, Xanatos jumped in his suit, looking around wildly for its source. His eyes finally refocused to the eye lenses before him, noticing the flashing red words.
        "Golems?" Xanatos repeated, his brow furrowing as he thought: golems. Didn't Goliath say that he encountered a golem once?
         The warning sirens became louder, the computerized type scrolling furiously past his face. Xanatos felt his stomach lurch as he struggled to keep up with the words.
       4 PROWLERS
       ARE ARMED
       "This can't be good," Xanatos muttered, feeling a frightened sweat bead on his forehead. Swallowing hard, he craned his neck, searching the debris-strewn streets below him for the things that set off his suit's alarms.
         As he passed over a decrepit apartment building, the lenses of Xanatos's helmet suddenly zoomed in of their own accord, focusing on an alley, the infrared picking out a massive form as it lumbered towards the street.
         Xanatos realized too late that it dragged a titanic laser cannon behind it.
        The form easily hefted the cannon up, training it on Xanatos as he panicked, tried to wheel out of the way as what sounded like a thousand warning sirens rang through his helmet.
         Xanatos felt the laser hit his left wing seconds before he even heard the blast. He cried out in shock and terror as he was thrown through the air, the fire and smoke from his mangled wing blinding him. Not knowing what to do, not knowing how to control this suit, Xanatos flung his weight to the right, gritting his teeth as the mechanical suit swooped aside, narrowly missing three more shots from the laser cannon.
         Thousands of words scrolled past Xanatos' eyes as the suit shuddered. Unable to read the blur, Xanatos felt a rock hit his stomach as his jet pack coughed and sputtered, choking out and dropping him several feet towards the cracked pavement below before snarling to life again.
          "Don't do this to me!" Xanatos shouted, jerking away from a jagged steel beam as it jutted out of a demolished building. "C'mon, stay together!"
         As if mocking his pleas, the jet pack gave a bellow before it finally died, lying quiet on his back.
          Xanatos felt his eyes widen in horror as his suit suddenly lurched forward, plummeting to the ground. 
          "This can't be happening!" Throwing his weight again, Xanatos gasped as the suit pitched too far to the left, crashing against a brick building, sending him reeling into the neighboring apartment complex.
          Xanatos gritted his teeth, trying hard not to squeeze his eyes shut. He grated out a curse as his armor slammed into a tilted light post, knocking him to the ground and sending him skidding several feet over broken concrete and glass.
          He crashed to a halt beside a dead fire hydrant. He grimaced, then swore again as his head spun, and the eye lenses of his helmet went fuzzy.
         "My bloody luck," Xanatos growled, planting his clawed gauntlets against the sides of his helmet. Not bothering to open the lock, Xanatos tore the helmet straight off of the suit. Wincing at the sudden darkness, he rubbed his eyes hard, then shook his head, trying to clear his vision.
          Somewhere behind him, rocks clattered ominously. Startled, Xanatos snapped around, searching the darkness for the source of the noise.
         The rocks clattered again, unnerving Xanatos enough to bring him to his feet. Panting, he turned around in a half circle, squinting. Spotting the high, crumbling spires of St. John's Cathedral, Xanatos broke into a grin; it wasn't that far away. He could run the distance there.
         Forgetting that he was now an old man, Xanatos raced forward, vaulting fallen walls and steel beams the best he could, not immediately noticing the thunderous clanking of his suit as it clattered against the pavement.
          Slowly, the Cathedral loomed into view, blocking out the starry sky. Xanatos thought he could hear voices, and knew that he smelled campfires. He put on the speed.
         "Athena!" he shouted, cupping his gauntlets around his mouth. "Athena, it's me!"
        Sliding around the corner, Xanatos gasped and stopped short, causing little puffs of dust to waft up from the street.
        Surrounding the Cathedral was an eighteen-foot wall, cobbled together from chunks of concrete, slabs of steel and even pieces of destroyed Steel Clan robots.
         And from where Xanatos stood, there didn't seem to be any doors.
          For several minutes, Xanatos could only stare, opened mouth, at the fortress that had swallowed up the once beautiful cathedral. He didn't know what to think.
         Atop the wall, several figures raced back and forth. Pairs huddled together, then turned and ran to opposite ends of the wall.
         Finally, a familiar voice roared to him. "Fer God's sake, Xanatos, git ova' 'ere before the bloody Prowlers git ye!"
         Xanatos almost yelped, jumping several feet into the air in fright. 
         "Are ye deaf?! Hurry!"
         Suddenly hearing the panic in the immortal man's voice, Xanatos tore forward, his fear growing as the line of armed humans atop the wall bellowed to him, screaming for him to move faster.
         Xanatos was almost there-he was so close to the wall he could clearly see the people gathering on the wall, their tattered clothing and frightened eyes. He was so close, but not close enough.
         From all of the blackened alleys and empty buildings around him, a beastly cry rang, sounding so alien and so deadly that Xanatos felt the very marrow in his bones freeze.
         He gasped, spinning around just in time to see four humans trot out of the darkness. It was too dark to make out their features clearly, but their grotesquely huge eyes gleamed in the night.
         One of them flung its head back and gave the air a cry. "Kher-uhh! Kher-uhh!"
       The three other creatures shot forward, lancing through the air silently, only to pierce the night with grating screams.
         As they came closer, Xanatos was able to make out the pattern of blue and purple scales on their faces and arms, their strange, square muzzles, their long, slender arms, each hand tipped with a long, sickle like claw.
         MacBeth's voice cracked through the monstrous shrieks. "Xanatos, RUN!!!"
        Biting back a creative curse, Xanatos spun around on his taloned boot, launching himself towards the wall, wondering foggily if he still had the strength to climb.
         Overhead, the shouting humans hefted their weapons up. Planting the butts of the rifles against their shoulders, they opened fire, their laser blasts hissing past Xanatos' head.
         The Prowlers gave a cackling yelp, bounding away from the rays of light. One of them hissed, then turned and leapt easily onto the side of an abandoned building, clawing its way to the rooftop.
         As Xanatos closed the gap between him and the wall, he could hear MacBeth's hoarse voice barking out commands. "Shoot with extreme prejudice! Get rid of 'em! Th' bloody Golems can't be far behind! Somebody git Athena, fer God's sake!"
         Xanatos flung his clawed hands out, digging them into the concrete. His ragged breaths catching in his throat, Xanatos hefted himself up, shooting a terrified look at the monsters as they skittered back and forth, charging the wall and leaping away.
         Xanatos' eyes widened. 'They're trying to distract the people!'
          MacBeth appeared over the edge of the wall. Cupping his hands around his mouth, the ancient Scotsman bellowed down to Xanatos. "Git away from the wall, laddie! We're turnin' on th' juice!"
         "The WHAT?"
        Xanatos reacted without thinking, releasing his hold on the wall and throwing himself backwards. 
         Hardly a heartbeat passed before a Prowler lunged for the wall, a trilling roar winding out of its fanged mouth as it flung its clawed hands out.
         No sooner had it landed did a bright volt of electricity blasted from the side of the wall. The Prowler shrieked and twisted away, leaping away from the wall as its hands and feet smoked.
         Seeing their fellow beast flee in pain, the Prowlers began to regroup, snarling uneasily at the fortress, shooting wary looks back down the street.
         Someone up on the wall growled. "We're one Prowler short."
        "Th' Prowlers are th' least of our worries now!" MacBeth snapped. Xanatos didn't have to look up to know what direction MacBeth was pointing. ""Ere come the Golems!"
         Following the same path Xanatos had taken, three shambling hulks staggered out of the darkness. Dragging their laser cannons behind them and oblivious to their tattered, bloodstained clothes, the Frankenstein-like men lurched forward.
         Looking at them, Xanatos nodded grimly to himself; he recognized Sevarius' handiwork.
        The Prowlers chittered excitedly and sprang to the side, giving the Golems room. Groaning, the middle Golem started to increase his pace, slowly lifting his laser cannon up.
         "Uh-oh." Xanatos started to take a step backwards, then remembered the electrified wall behind him. 
         He swallowed hard. "MacBeth, shoot them!"
         The man didn't answer, and Xanatos felt himself begin to panic. Xanatos didn't like panicking. He hardly ever did.
         But as these things started to rush towards him, Xanatos knew that now was as good a time as any to start freaking out.
         A noise like a cape unfurling echoed above him, and, gasping, Xanatos snapped his head up. His eyes widened, but he felt himself grin as the dragon-like creature slammed to the ground between him and the monsters, throwing back her head and roaring challengingly.
         Seeing her, the three Prowlers screamed and instantly turned tail. One of the Golems reeled backwards, as though taken by  surprise.
         The Gargress lunged, her fangs and claws flashing in the dull light. She screamed again, backhanding the first Golem, her silver gauntlets ringing with the impact.
         The Golem grunted and staggered backwards. Unable to slow its fall, it slammed into the Golem behind it, knocking it over. 
         The third Golem roared, lashing out a huge, ape-like hand at the Gargress' head. Snarling, she whipped her body back, bending backwards, out of harm's way.
         Xanatos's grin grew wider, and the people on the fortress wall began to cheer wildly.
        Not allowing herself to be distracted, the Gargress blocked the Golem's second swing, her tail snaking around the Golem's ankles. With a growl of strain, the Gargress yanked the Golem's legs out from under it, sending it thudding pathetically to the ground.
         Snarling, the Gargress turned away from the Golem, blinking her glimmering red eyes in Xanatos' direction. "Xanatos! Are you-"
         A shrill scream cut her words off. Horrified, Xanatos spun around, looking up in amazement as the last of the Prowlers sprang from a neighboring empty building.
         It screamed as it sailed through the air, every one of its needle-like fangs bared and its claws raised, poised for a killing strike. Xanatos froze, his mind going blank. 
         Moving like dark lightning, the Gargress lunged, tearing across the broken ground. With a bellow, she flung herself at the Prowler, raising a fist and striking it brutally across the muzzle.
         Stunned, the animal collapsed at Xanatos' feet.
          Startled, Xanatos began to reel back. He gasped as the Gargress latched her clawed hand onto his armor, grunting as she leapt for the wall, dragging him with her.
         "Forget I said anything," Athena sighed as she hefted Xanatos over the edge of the wall.


        "Feeling better?"
         Swallowing his scalding tea as quickly as he could, Xanatos struggled to hide his nervousness as he looked up into the pale green face of Anetha. "Ye-yeah thanks."
         Anetha smiled at him and gripped his shoulder once before turning away. Xanatos watched her go, hoping no one could see the amazement on his face; he had never heard Anetha speak before. Then again, he had never known Anetha to be sane, either. He mentally shook his head. This place was getting stranger and stranger by the minute.
         Anetha sat down on an uprooted pew, sliding closer to the fire that burned in the trashcan nearby.
        With a fatherly look of concern, Thailog quickly retrieved a blanket from a battered chest in a corner. Draping the blanket around Anetha, Thailog patted her shoulder before glancing up at Xanatos. "You're pretty quiet tonight, Xanatos. What brought you here?"
         Grimacing, Xanatos held Thailog's gaze for a moment, then glanced away, at Anetha, then at MacBeth, as he tipped a bottle of scotch into his tea.
         Snorting at the smell, MacBeth grinned at Xanatos and held up the scotch bottle. "Ye look as though ye could use it."
         Xanatos shook his head. "No thanks."
        Chuckling, MacBeth placed the bottle back into a crevice in a cathedral wall. "Ah, more fer me, then."
         Smirking, Thailog helped himself to a seat beside Anetha. "You didn't answer my question, Xanatos."
         Not knowing what to say, Xanatos looked down into his tea mug, feeling his borrowed blanket slide off of his shoulders again. What could he tell them? That he had risked his life running through a monster filled city to find Athena so she could help him get back to the REAL world? That, really, he wasn't married to Hyena, Anetha should be dead, all of the Rookies back at the castle didn't actually exist, Thailog was on the lam, the clan was whole again, that Alex was his son not his daughter, that Owen was supposed to be alive, that there was no gang war between him and Dracon, that New York hadn't been abandoned?
         Heaving a sigh, Xanatos pretended to be interested in the interior of Saint John's Cathedral, studying how the humans had built makeshift bedrooms and hospital wings and kitchens using whatever was in the cathedral.
         He understood what had happened here. He didn't need anyone to tell him; many people hadn't been able to escape the city before the bridges were destroyed. They were trapped, and unable to defend themselves. Athena and Thailog had begun to rescue those people who were under attack from the Golems and Prowlers, but soon found that the danger was constant, and there was no way they could go from fight to fight every night.
         Under Athena's direction, day and night, she, Thailog, Anetha, the refugees and eventually, MacBeth and his entourage built a massive wall around St. John's Cathedral, then turned the cathedral itself into a shelter.
         There seemed to be some semblance of order here. Xanatos saw that the people were well dressed and didn't seem hungry. There didn't appear to be any lawlessness but, then again, who would be stupid enough to test Athena's anger?
         Xanatos returned his gaze to the group before him. He was amazed by how different both MacBeth and Thailog seemed now; Thailog was riddled with scars from numerous battles, and MacBeth had seemed to have aged somehow. There were deep creases in his face, and his skin seemed to have darkened, and sagged.
         MacBeth's beard and hair had grown some; the ancient Scotsman actually had his hair tied back in a ponytail. Thailog's mane now fell to the middle of his back, tangling itself around his broken brow horns.
         Looking frighteningly small in the dancing shadows, Anetha huddled against Thailog for warmth. Xanatos wasn't sure if he should be happy or worried to see how non-threatening Anetha was now; the Anetha he remembered was ferocious, speaking only in viscous snarls and lashing out at anything that moved.
         This one was sane. That was the only word Xanatos could think of when he saw this Anetha: sane.
         Somewhere nearby, a door slammed shut, and Xanatos jumped in fright, spilling tea on his clothes and blanket. Realizing that he was overreacting, Xanatos silently cursed his childishness as he raised his head, watching Athena swing into the hall.
         "All's quiet now," she said, raking a clawed hand through her raven-black hair. "The Prowlers disappeared, and the Golems seem to be making their way back to Syracuse University."
         "Ye sure?" MacBeth asked, glancing at the tall Gargress over the rim of his mug. "Ye know what happened last time with th' Chameleons "
         "Like I need to be reminded." Sighing heavily, Athena unstrapped the massive sword that hung at her waist. Caping her wings, she accepted a bowl of tea Thailog offered. Xanatos suppressed a shudder as Thailog took Athena's scarred hand, guiding her to a seat beside him.
         Seeming to forget that he was there, Athena fell silent, ducking under Thailog's wing and taking long gulps from the bowl. Finally, she winced and pulled the bowl away from her lips. "Ye Goddesses you made the tea again, didn't you, MacBeth?"
         MacBeth grinned, flashing yellow, chipped teeth through his beard. "Ye know me I like me tea black."
         Anetha snorted and arched a brow ridge at MacBeth teasingly. "Yeah, but you make it like you poured tar into the kettle."
         MacBeth threw his head back and laughed, but Xanatos grimaced; this was SO not right.
         "Oh, but where are my manners?" Athena murmured, smirking as she turned to Xanatos. "Sorry, friend. I didn't mean to ignore you like that." She shrugged. "Kind of a long night."
         Xanatos snorted. "I'm sure."
       Both Athena and Thailog's eyes narrowed at his tone. Thailog growled softly. "Are you going to tell us why you're here? Or do I need to dangle you over a pack of Prowlers to get you to talk?"
         In unison, Athena and Anetha turned to glare at Thailog. "Thailog!" they hissed warningly.
         Closing her emerald-like eyes, Athena sighed again, shaking her head in disgust. Still, she clasped Thailog's hand in her own, and Xanatos was instantly revolted at the sight.
         "But still," Athena said, opening her eyes and settling them on Xanatos, "why are you here? You've never come to the cathedral without one of the Wyverns for protection."
         His grip on his mug tightened as Xanatos frowned, struggling to hold his gaze with Athena's. "Can we talk? In private?"
         Athena's brow horns rose in surprise. Thailog blinked, and Anetha shared a baffled look with MacBeth.
         Slowly, the brow horns returned to their original position, and Athena set her jaw. "No."
        "If you have something to say, Xanatos, you can say it to all of us." Her voice was firm. "That's the way it is here. You know that."
         "No, I don't!" Maddened by the insanity of it all, Xanatos whipped off his blanket and slammed the mug down on the misplaced park bench. Almost snarling, he stood up, finally sick of it all. "Okay, you want me to tell you all? Fine, but I know the rest of you aren't going to believe it.
         "I'm in a different place-No! Not a place, a dimension! This isn't my time! It's not the way things are supposed to be! I'm not married to Hyena! I'm married to Fox! We have a six-year-old son!
        "There isn't supposed to be any gang war with Dracon there aren't supposed to be any Golems, or Prowlers, or whatever else is running around out there! New York's not a no man's land! I'm not supposed to be this old!"
         Anetha stared at him blankly for a moment, then leaned close to Thailog. 
        "He's lost it," she whispered.
           "NO!" Xanatos roared, so loudly that the ever-present pigeons flew out of the rafters in a panic. "I know what it's suppose to be like! The Gargoyles! Angela's not the clan leader! Brooklyn's not supposed to be in Guatemala-none of their children are supposed to be here! Not Adam, not Eddie, not Seraphina, not Concord, or Carlos, or Bonnie or Midori or Nikolai or-!"
         Her eyes flaring red, Athena sprang from her seat, her hand outstretched. She grabbed Xanatos' wrist and yanked him away, pulling him away before he could point to Anetha.
         Her bared fangs a glaring white, Athena drove her face into his, her viscous growling echoing ceaselessly inside his skull.
         "Don't. Even. Say. It," she hissed, spitting each word out like it had been a sentence in itself.
         Oddly, Xanatos didn't even cringe before her. Ignoring the screaming pain where she crushed his wrist in her grip, Xanatos narrowed her eyes.
          "It's true," he said. His voice didn't waver.
         Athena narrowed her eyes, and her growl raised an octave. Finally, she stepped away, dropping Xanatos's arm.
         Frowning, she dipped her head, pinching the bridge of her nose as she thought and struggled to fathom what he was saying.
         Xanatos ignored the incredulous gazes of those around him. "I'm telling the truth. I'm not amnesic, I'm not crazy."
         "I believe you," Athena said, her voice remarkably calm and steady. She looked up again, the red glow fading. "I saw it. In your mind."
         The sound of MacBeth's coffee cup shattering on the tile did little to stir either Athena or Xanatos.
        Horrified, MacBeth leapt to his feet, the power cores for his lasers rattling against his Kevlar vest.
        "What?!" he cried.
        Thailog jumped up and raced to Athena's side. Taking her by the shoulders, Thailog steered her around until they were face to face.
         "Athena, are you certain?" There was fear in his voice. Thailog didn't attempt to mask it.
         Anetha tried to stand up, but she was shaking so badly that she immediately fell back against the pew. "M-Mother ?"
        Gently pulling herself free of Thailog's grasp, Athena gave the giant Gargoyle's face a comforting stroke before moving swiftly to Anetha's side. Gathering the clone up in her arms, Athena closed her wings around Anetha. "It's not what you think."
         "How d'ye mean?" MacBeth demanded, his fists clenching at his sides. "From what I heard, methinks this place Xanatos speaks of is a right Eden compared t' this wretched hole!"
         Athena shook her head, her long hair fanning out behind her. "No, not that," she said, fixing the blanket around Anetha's shoulders. "Xanatos is from another dimension. He's right about that.
         "In my race, we believe in such a thing called 'Myrrorworlds'. A Myrrorworld is created using a sacred mirror, like the ones Titania has. The mirror opens a portal, where a new place can be created a 'mirror image' of the old world, so to speak. As we say, 'the same and opposite'.
         "The thing is, the way the Myrrorworld is depends on the state of mind of the one who cast the spells. But, in Xanatos' case-" here, Athena paused to glare furiously in his direction. "-He happened to walk into the path of the mirror when he was in a bad mood."
         Xanatos felt his eyes widen and his jaw drop. "Y-you mean," he sputtered, "that New York is the way it is now because I had a bad day?!"
         "I knew I should have killed you," Thailog muttered, folding his arms before his chest.
         Athena managed a small smile at that. "Exactly, Xanatos. But what's worse is that now that this Myrrorworld is in existence, it can't be destroyed."
         "What?" Xanatos, MacBeth, and Thailog all spoke at once.
         Athena shrugged. "Xanatos isn't a wizard. He just happened to have his emotions and thoughts projected into the mirror by one. A trainee, no less."
         Suddenly remembering, Xanatos groaned and clapped a hand to his forehead, wincing as his stitches burned. "That's right Alex and Puck were fooling around with a mirror "
         "Hold about," MacBeth said, his brow furrowing as he thought. "So Xanatos isn't supposed to be from this world, aye?"
         "What happened to th' Xanatos that is supposed t'be 'ere?"
          Athena grimaced. "As near as I can tell, he's still knocked out."
        Frowning, Anetha sat up, looking at her mother curiously. "How are we going to fix this? I mean, this Xanatos can't stay here."
         "No, he can't." Rubbing the back of her neck uneasily, Athena stood. "Xanatos has to get back to his time. I don't know what might happen if he hangs around here for too long."
         Both hope and terror squeezed at Xanatos' heart. "Can you get me back?"
        Athena nodded, but her expression was not certain. "I'm pretty sure I can. Anetha and Midori can help, but I'll have to read up on it first."
         "All right."
         Setting her jaw, Athena turned to MacBeth. "You'll have to come with us to the Aerie. You'd better get your people ready to watch the cathedral."
         "Aye, I'm on it."
          Nodding to his departure, Athena turned back to the pew. "Anetha, I need you to rest some more; you're weak enough as it is, and the trip's going to tire you out."
         Anetha shrugged. "I'll be all right, Mother."
        "No, you won't." Again, Athena rearranged the blanket around Anetha's shoulders. "Stay warm and don't get up. Understood?"
         Anetha frowned, looking a little sullen. "I understand, Mother. You don't need to talk to me like I'm a little kid."
         Athena gave the Gargress a motherly smirk. "To me, you are a little kid. My little kid."
        Tussling Anetha's white hair briefly, Athena turned to Thailog. "What do you think we need, love? Weapons wise?"
         "Well, a hydrogen bomb would be nice," Thailog replied sarcastically. He grinned at Athena's annoyed look. "But, seeing how we're fresh out, I guess we'll have to use the rifles and smaller hand guns. I'll see what I can scrounge together."
         Smiling, Athena gave him a gentle, playful swat with her tail. "And I'll be in the study. It shouldn't take me long to find out what we need."
         Xanatos blinked. "What about me? What should I do?"
          Athena hesitated, then glanced at Thailog, who shrugged.
        "MacBeth left his whiskey here," Thailog said, waving a hand to the huge gouge in the wall. "Help yourself."
         Xanatos frowned sourly. "Sounds tempting," he snorted, "but I think I'll go check on my suit."
         Thailog chuckled, then quickly hopped aside as Athena took a mocking swing at his shoulder.
         Disgusted, Xanatos turned away, shuddering. "I have GOT to get home."


         Impatient, Xanatos checked MacBeth's watch for the ninetieth time. "What's taking her?"
         "Oh, you know my mother," Anetha said, slinging a sword and scabbard over her head. Suddenly, realization struck her. "Oh you don't. Uh, she always meditates in the chapel before we go out."
         Thailog grunted as he strapped a greave to his shin. "She should be finishing up right about now." He grimaced, then glanced up at Anetha. "You know how she feels " he said softly.
         Sadly, Anetha turned away, nodding. "I do."
           Yanking his arm free of Xanatos's grip, MacBeth slid on the gauntlet of his Steel Clan suit. "Normally, I 'twouldn't advise barging' in on 'er," he said, raising an eyebrow at Xanatos. "But she said so 'erself; if we don't catch this portal before four o'clock, ye're as good as trapped."
         "Thanks for reminding me." Sighing heavily, Xanatos turned away. "I'll go get her."
       Thailog's brow ridges shot up in horror. "Uh, that might not be a smart idea!"   "Whatever. I'll risk it." As he turned his back, Xanatos allowed himself to cringe at the thought of Athena blowing up at him.
         Clanking out of the Armory, Xanatos watched the people milling about as he passed. A few glanced at him, not interested in him or his shabbily repaired armor.
         Nearby, a baby yammered as she laid in her mother's lap, waiting for her bottle. A clutch of dirt streaked boys and girls tore across the compound, playing tag with two mutts they had rescued. Nearby, an elderly man told stories to a dozen enraptured kids and adults.
         Seeing the children made Xanatos's heart ache; he missed his son.
         Finding his way into the cathedral, Xanatos gathered the tattered remains of his nerve and opened the heavy wooden doors.
         Bright light lanced into his eyes, temporarily blinding him. Xanatos gasped and squeezed his eyes shut, then blinked them rapidly, struggling to adjust; with New York as dead as it was, Xanatos had grown accustomed to the darkness.
         Squinting, he peered into the chapel, astonished at the number of candles that flickered and danced in their candelabras. It was a wonder that the whole Cathedral itself didn't go up in flames.
          Athena sat at the very first pew, looking oddly small in the church. Xanatos hesitated; it seemed wrong to come in here. It was so quiet.
         Suddenly, Xanatos couldn't stand the quiet anymore. Growling, he stalked into the Cathedral, gladdened by the sound of his clawed boots hitting the tiles.
          Athena never stirred from her seat, but Xanatos was certain she heard him. Irked, he increased his pace. "Athena "
         She still didn't move, and sat as still as a stone gargoyle until Xanatos reached her side. "Athena!"
         For a moment, Athena remained silent, and Xanatos was ready to launch himself in to a screaming rage.
         Finally, she sighed. "I know, I know gotta get moving."
        Her eyes were fixed on something at the altar. Baffled, Xanatos turned to look.
          All of the anger in him evaporated as he saw the pictures of Elisa, Owen, Lexington, Bronx, Hudson, and several other people and Gargoyles propped up by the altar. In front of them, wilting flowers provided a barrier against the heat of the hundred candles she had lit.
         Athena sighed again. Xanatos realized she wasn't praying. She was just sitting there, staring.
         "I've lost too many friends over the years," she murmured, using her chin to point to a picture of a grinning priest. Xanatos recognized him, but couldn't remember his name.
         "I saw Father Grady's spirit again," Athena said, raising her clasped hands to her lips. "Just for a second. I wish he was still alive I wish they were all alive."
          The blood drained from Xanatos' face, and he turned to the memorial again. He felt sick. It was his fault; they had died because of him.
         Athena's eyes hardened. "I would take the time to tell you what happened to them, Xanatos, but we're running out of time." Snarling faintly, she glanced at him almost threateningly. "I don't know how things will turn out in your world, but you have got to promise me that you will not let any of this happen to your world. Promise me."
         Wordlessly, Xanatos nodded, at first too numbed to comprehend what he was seeing. 
        A look of pain crossed Athena's face briefly, and she reached out with one hand, gripping his arm. "Xanatos I need to hear you promise me." She tried to smile at him through the tears in her eyes. "A nod doesn't really mean anything."
          Seeing the tears brimming on Athena's eyelashes suddenly woke Xanatos up. Squaring his shoulders, he placed his hand on Athena's.
          "I promise."


          As they began to dip their wings and swoop towards the Aerie Building, Xanatos heard MacBeth give a groan.
         He pointed through the clouds and to the courtyard, where the Gargoyles had gathered, virtually cowering before an enraged  Angela.
         "Looks like ye ticked 'er off, lad," MacBeth sighed, giving Xanatos a mocking thumbs up. "Good job."
         Surprised, Athena looked at the two mechanical Gargoyles beside her. "What's going on?"
         Not really knowing, Xanatos shrugged, grimacing behind his helmet. "Well, I didn't exactly tell Angela where I was going or that I was even going out " 
          "Brilliant move, Mr. X," Anetha sighed, shooting over his head. "Angela must be ripped."
         The whine of the jet packs on the Steel Clan suits alerted the Gargoyles before Athena and Thailog were able to shout a greeting.
         Her eyes blood red, Angela launched herself at Xanatos before his feet even touched the courtyard. "What the blazes were you thinking?! Going out without any of us, were you trying to get yourself killed?!" A grating shriek blasted out of her throat as she drew back a fist. "I should save Dracon the trouble and kill you now!"
         Xanatos was horrified at this change in Angela's character. "Can't I get my helmet off first?!"
         Angela's daughter, Seraphina, gasped and raced forward, catching her mother's fist before Angela could bury it in Xanatos' face. "Mom, easy! We've got bigger problems at the moment-you said so yourself!"
         "And maybe getting rid of this cur will solve it all!" Angela roared, taking a swipe at Xanatos with her free hand. "Blast it all, Xanatos, you can't be running around like that now! Fox and Dracon have rounded up their beasts-"
          A chorus of "What?!!" from Athena, Thailog and MacBeth cut Angela short.
         Athena shot forward, catching Angela by the arm. "What's happening?"
         "They're headed this way!" Angela snapped, yanking her arm free. "I was going to send Concord and Seraphina to contact you somehow, but Hyena said Xanatos had disappeared." The glow returning to her eyes, Angela turned and snarled at Xanatos as he struggled to take his helmet off. "I tore this place apart looking for you! I was afraid something had gotten in an found you!"
         Xanatos opened his mouth to speak-whether to explain or defend himself, he didn't know-but a startled squawk interrupted him. Surprised, he spun around as Concord and Adam galloped towards them.
         The looks on their faces made him decidedly uneasy.
        "This isn't good!" Adam cried, sliding to a halt just beside Delilah and Goliath. He held up some sort of strange Palm Pilot, its screen aglitter with hundreds of different colored, flashing lights.
         "Chameleons got through the first blockade down below," Adam panted, oblivious to the sweat that raced down his temples. "They're starting to overrun the second blockade."
         Athena's eyes widened fearfully, and Xanatos instantly knew that she was thinking about the Cathedral.
         He placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. "They'll be okay," he said, trying to smile despite the terror swamping the clan. "I saw how they fight."
         "It gets worse," Concord snarled. Xanatos would have shot him a dirty look if he weren't so startled.
         A headset was clamped around Concord's head. He held one hand up against his ear, his frown growing deeper as he listened to the communications from Xanatos' men.
         "Dactyls coming in," Concord said, glancing nervously up towards his mother. "The guys say there's about a dozen of them " Concord fell silent for a second, then grimaced. "Our men are dropping like flies!"
         Around him, Xanatos saw the Gargoyles all stiffen, shooting worried glances at each other.
         Clenching her fangs, Angela turned away from the group, raking her hand through her hair as she furiously thought.
         Behind her, Midori snarled. Nikolai's dark face blanched at the noise, and he moved to restrain his sister, but the Gargress shook him off.
         "Angela-Chan," Midori hissed, unfurling her wings. "We must defend our home!"
        Angela's shoulders tensed. "Something isn't right, here," she said, her eyes narrowing suspiciously. "Dracon's army has never gotten to the second blockade before "
         Somewhere from the skies above, a beastly scream cracked through the fog and clouds. Everyone spun around, searching the clouds wildly for the source. 
         Goliath snarled softly, slowly raising an arm to herd Delilah and Eddie behind him. "Methinks we have company."
          Her eyes flaring, Angela spun around to the Rookies around her. "Carlos!"
        The blue-skinned, black-haired, Brooklyn-creature bounded forward, his tail snapping over the cobblestones in anticipation. "Si`, Angela? I'm ready!"
         "You're on Eddie Detail."
         Shocked at the order, Eddie sat bolt right up in Delilah's arms. "Hey, wait a minute! I can take care of myself!"
         "I'm sure you could, Princess," Carlos said, his kindly smile just barely hiding his fright. He held his arms out to the little Gargress. "But you'll need backup. C'mon, kiddo!"
         Eddie stared at Carlos with a mixture of horror and insult. Uneasy, she turned to Goliath and Delilah. "Mom? Da?"
         Delilah smiled airily. "It's okay, Eddie. We've done this before."
          "Aye." Trying to grin, Goliath ruffled the hair atop Eddie's head. "All will be well. Go now."
         Xanatos felt his stomach knot as Eddie reluctantly allowed Carlos to scoop her up. The little Gargress's eyes were glassy. Goliath seemed to tremble as he watched Carlos dash off, Bonnie right at his heels.
         Grimacing briefly, Angela turned to Broadway. Her face remained impassive, but Broadway gazed at her with sadness.
          "Broadway ?"
          "I know, Angela " Sighing, Broadway thumbed over his shoulder. "Secure the top floors, me and Adam'll get Hyena and Alexa "
         Pained, Angela nodded, but her voice didn't waver. "Right. Be careful."
         Nodding once, Broadway turned, giving a son a tap on the arm as he did so. Biting his lip, Adam bounded after his father, disappearing into the castle manor.
        Yanking his armor off, MacBeth gave a snarl, drawing Angela's attention. "Donna worry 'bout me, lass," he said, kicking off a boot. "I'll man th' turrets."
         Angela nodded briefly before turning to her children, Midori, Nikolai, and Anetha.
        Growling, Athena turned to Xanatos. "We've got to get moving. Get out of that armor! Thailog, help the others!"
         "Roger that," the big Gargoyle replied, instantly taking to the air. Circling once, Thailog found an empty gun turret on the castle tower, waving to MacBeth as he dropped into the turret seat.
         "Anetha, let's go!" Shrugging her backpack off of her shoulders, Athena broke into a dead run, fairly leaving Xanatos in her dust.
          Muttering a hundred swears under his breath, Xanatos tossed aside the last of his suit, briefly rolling his eyes heavenward when he saw that Athena was headed towards the tallest castle tower.
          " Everyone, fan out!" Angela roared, uncaping her wings and leaping skyward. "Watch yourselves!"
          Snarling, the Rookies split up, racing to either corner of the castle, opening hidden panels and drawing out any weapons they could find.
         Xanatos silently cursed himself as he raced past the Rookies; they shouldn't be fighting! They shouldn't have weapons! They shouldn't-
          With a thunderous roar, a wave of flame and smoke blasted out of the manor, screaming out through shattered windows and rocketing all of the heavy oak doors straight off their hinges. Goliath and Delilah were sent flying with the force, slamming against the brick walls and cobbled ground. The ground quaked violently, knocking Xanatos off of his feet, flinging the Rookies to the ground.
          "Aggh!" Flinging his arms up in front of his face, Adam lunged out of the inferno, looking as though he was escaping from the mouth of Hell. Yelping, he hit the ground hard, rolling with the impact to smother out the flames on his clothes.
         "Adam!" Midori cried, springing to her feet. She tore across the courtyard, diving to his side as smaller explosions shook the Aerie Building.
         Gasping hard, Xanatos pushed himself up to his knees. He ignored Athena's shouts as she and her daughter ran to him, pulling him up right. Xanatos pulled out of their grasp, focusing everything on Adam as he threw an arm around Midori, leaning against her heavily as they raced back to the wide-eyed Rookies.
         "M-my dad " Adam rasped, pointing back to the monstrous fire. "My dad! I think I think "
         Anetha broke away from the huddled group, catching Adam's free arm, supporting his weight. "Adam, what happened?!"
         Hollowed eyed, Adam shook his head hard. "We couldn't find Alex or Hyena but the whole place was rigged! There were bombs everywhere!" Panic started to rise in the Gargoyle's voice. "I thought Dad was right behind me! I THOUGHT HE WAS RIGHT BEHIND ME!!"
         "Adam, easy!" Nikolai cried, shooting forward to catch his friend as Adam lost the strength in his legs. "Adam, it's okay!"
         Letting Adam slide out of her hands, Anetha stood, looking back at the fire, at the two slumped figures faintly illuminated by the dancing flames.
         "M-Mother ?" Her voice cracked with horror, and Anetha took a frightened step back. "Goliath and Delilah I think "
         Not wanting the others to hear, Athena reached out and caught Anetha by the shoulder, pulling her back. "Everybody, get in the tower!"
         Seraphina wheeled around, horrified. "But my mom-!"
         A fourth explosion screamed from somewhere deep within the building. Thailog and MacBeth bellowed to each other as their gun turrets fired rapidly, trailing a flock of huge, black shadows through the sky.
         Nearby, Angela roared, plummeting out of the sky, a bat-like monster flapping erratically behind her. It screamed at Angela, the sound like Gargoyle talons raking down a chalkboard.
          Infuriated, Angela spun around in midair, her leg whipping out and slamming into the creature's head, knocking it to the ground.
          Thudding beside the hissing animal, Angela reached for the sword at her side and screamed, "Xanatos! Get the children out of here!"
          The panic in her voice made Xanatos move, made him lash a hand out to catch Seraphina's wrist. He had to save these Gargoyles.
         "She'll be all right!" Xanatos bellowed, yanking the startled Gargress towards the tower door. "She'll met us at the top! Come on!"
         Hoping Xanatos was right, the Rookies started to move. Nikolai and Concord grabbed each of Adam's arms and hefted the Gargoyle up, helping him stagger towards the tower. Midori and Anetha launched themselves at the tower door, using their combined strength to smash through the heavy wood. 
         Shooting one last, regretful look to her mother, Seraphina turned and opened her wings, shielding Xanatos from the stray laser bolts and shrapnel.
         Athena covered them all, drawing out her sword and roaring a challenge to the flying monsters overhead.
         "Go on!" Athena roared, waving the Rookies into the tower. "Anetha, get 'em to the roof!"
         Seeing that Athena wasn't following, Xanatos balked; wait a minute! Athena was supposed to open the portal for him!
         Herding the Rookies up the tower steps, Anetha spun around to face him, her white hair whipping out behind her head. "Mr. X, let's go!"
         Xanatos looked up at her, panicked. "But she has to open the portal!"
        "I've got it covered!" To prove it, Anetha hefted up the backpack, revealing the books inside. "Mother gave me the books-I'll get you home!"
        Xanatos hesitated again, turning to watch Athena and Angela charge several figures lumbering out of the engulfed manor.
         He gritted his teeth, enraged. "Move it!"
        Anetha pushed him ahead of her, hissing softly as a Gargoyle outside shrieked, as though in agony.
          At the top step, Midori barreled her way into Goliath and Delilah's room. Startled, Carlos leapt to his feet as Bonnie sat bolt right up, yelping in fright.
         "What's going on?" he cried, trying his best to hold back an anxious Eddie.
        "Too much!" Concord panted, helping Adam sit down. "We have to get to the roof-"
         "Where're my parents?" Eddie demanded, trying to squirm out of Carlos's grasp. "What happened? Where's Angela?!"
         "Ssh, mi amiga," Carlos whispered, quickly picking up the teary-eyed child. "Everything's okay."
         Waving everyone back, Nikolai snarled faintly, straining as he shouldered a massive weapons cabinet in front of the door. "We have to get out of here!"
         "No kidding." Wincing, as though in pain, Anetha shoved the backpack under one arm. "Where's the roof entrance?"
         Surprised that he remembered, Xanatos pushed his way through the crowd, running to the adjacent room. Only slightly bothered by the bed and collection of toys there, Xanatos craned his neck back, finding the steel trap door in the ceiling.
         "Bonnie!" he shouted, pointing to the door. "Hit it!"
        Barking furiously, the golden beast bounded forward, crouching low to the floor before springing straight up, slamming her body against the door and snapping the steel straight off of its frame.
         Bonnie appeared at the edge, staring down at Xanatos quizzically. 
        Xanatos grinned. "Good dog!"
          Reaching his side, Anetha pitched the bag through the door, allowing Bonnie to clamp her jaws on the straps and pull it through.
         Turning to wave the Rookies into the room, Anetha glanced briefly at Xanatos. "I'll go up first, then pull you through. Keep your head down!"
         "Anetha, be careful!" Nikolai shouted as Anetha leapt for the door, snarling as a laser blast hissed past her head.
         "Great Scot!" she cried, pitching herself onto her stomach.
        Xanatos thought he was going to have a heart attack. "ANETHA!!"
         "I'm okay!" Sliding back towards the door, Anetha lowered her tail, wrapping it like a snake around Xanatos's waist.
         Xanatos gasped as he was yanked recklessly through the trap door. "Anetha, easy! I'm an old man, y'know!"
         As soon as Xanatos was clear, Nikolai shot through the door, turning to help Adam struggle through. Midori followed, growling something in Japanese as Carlos and Concord sprang through the door, covering Seraphina and Eddie.
         "Everyone here?" Anetha roared over the explosions and laser fire.
        Midori nodded quickly, dropping down beside Bonnie, who whimpered and covered her ears with her paws.
         "I think so!" Midori shouted.
         Something hit one of the battalions behind them with a head splitting roar. Seraphina screamed and threw herself to the ground, wrapping a squawking Eddie up in her wings.
         "Anetha, do something!" she cried.
          The green clone snarled, nodding once to Seraphina, then turning to Xanatos. "Stay low to the ground!"
         "No problem!" Xanatos shouted, cringing as another battalion was blasted right off of the tower.
         "Somebody knows we're up here!" Adam bellowed, flinging a wing up to shield himself from chunks of rock.
         His teeth bared, Carlos shot towards the wall. He leapt to his feet, glaring over the battalion to the attackers below.
         Suddenly, Carlos gasped and wheeled around, the color draining from his beak. "It's-it's Alex! She's gone muy loco!!"
         Nikolai spun around, his mouth agape. "What?!"
        "Alex! She's firing at us! Her and Hyena! And two others!"
         Horrified, Concord clapped his hands to both sides of his head. "Fox and Dracon! They're inside!"
         As if to prove the accusation, several more bursts of laser fire lanced over their heads. Every Rookie yelped in terror.
         Not knowing what to do, Xanatos looked fearfully towards Anetha, kneeling several feet away.
         Anetha yanked a mirror and two books out of her backpack, throwing them to the ground. Placing the small mirror before her and finding the tassels in the books, Anetha opened to the pages her mother had marked. Running her claw along the print, Anetha began to murmur something, too softly for Xanatos to hear.
         A battalion exploded far to Xanatos's right, and he gasped, flinging his arms over his head as rocks rained down on them.
         'This's insane!' he thought, choking on the dust. Worried, he turned to look at the Rookies, watching as they cried out in terror and covered their heads, screamed things to each other, pulling one another away from the walls that were steadily being obliterated around them.
        Seeing the young Gargoyles scrambling for cover, Xanatos suddenly felt ashamed. They were there trying to protect him. Anetha was trying to find a portal to send him back home, a place that was bright and bustling, and, all things considered, safe. 
         And Xanatos was going to leave these kids here, in this hell.
        With out warning, a piercing white light, like a star, tore through the swirling dust and fog. Startled, Xanatos spun around, momentarily blinded by the orb.
         Anetha still knelt there, struggling to keep her gaze fixed on the light projected by the mirror on the ground. The light seemed to double in size, slowly rising into the air as Anetha began to murmur again.
         Finally, Anetha turned, breathing raggedly. "Xanatos! The portal's opening!"
        Both elated and reluctant, Xanatos pushed himself up right, running towards the growing white light, wishing he could do something for the Rookies.
         A flash of red blasted into the ground before him, and Xanatos gasped, skidding to a halt. Realizing that a laser shot had cut him off, Xanatos spun around, his eyes widening in disbelief as four armored figures rose into the air on jet packs.
         "Gaah!" Fairly tripping over his own tail, Adam shoved his friends away, scrambling to get as far from the attackers as possible. "Get back!"
         The first figure landed lightly on a battalion, her arm raised. A laser cannon was mounted on her gauntlet, and a stream of smoke snaked out of the barrel as she trained the gun on Xanatos's head.
         The second attacker dropped down beside her, her landing not as smooth.
       "Hiya, Davie," Hyena said, grinning maliciously as she pushed her helmet's visor back. "Hope ya don't mind if I invited some friends ova?"
         Xanatos was hardly aware of the fact that the Rookies had slowly but protectively gathered around him. He bared his teeth at Hyena and the girl beside her, giving the remaining two armored figure only brief glances. "Hyena! What's going on?!"
         For a second, Hyena's face went totally blank, and she stared incredulously at Xanatos for a moment. Suddenly, her face split into an ugly grin, and she threw her head back and cackled.
         "Haventcha figured it out yet?" she taunted, her grin growing wider as Fox and Dracon thudded to the battalions on either side of her. "I'm sick of this stupid war and I'm sick of you! And these ugly things!"
         Dracon's scar riddled face grew ragged as he smiled coldly at Xanatos. "Hyena and Fox have been planning this for a couple of years."
         "And Sevarius was kind enough to donate his time and turn your daughter into a merciless, cold-blooded killer," Fox said, her voice flippant. 
         Hyena clapped a hand on the girl's shoulder, smiling evilly. "She's done me proud!"
        Xanatos felt his throat grow raw, the blood rushing to his face. "You're sick, Hyena," he hissed.
         Looking momentarily startled by the words, Hyena only smiled and held a hand to her chest. "Why, Davie ya hurt my feelings!"
         As suddenly as that smile appeared, it faded. Setting her jaw, Hyena snapped her fingers. "Kill 'em."
         The girl didn't reply. She didn't even move.
          She only stood there, unfazed as a laser blast roared out of her cannon, screaming straight towards Xanatos as he looked on in terror, as Eddie screamed and Anetha clamped a clawed hand on his shoulder, pulling him backwards, towards the blinding light.


          His eyes flying open, Xanatos shot straight up in his bed, his breath catching in his throat, feeling the gaping wound in his chest.
         "David, calm down!" Fox cried, catching his arms as he struggled to stand. "It's okay now!"
         "Mr. Xanatos, please!" Looking only slightly concerned, Owen reached out with his one good hand, catching Xanatos' shoulder. "You're home now."
         Startled by the voice, Xanatos spun around to face his secretary, then Fox, then the uncertain, childlike face that peeked around his mother's legs.
         "I-I-I'm sorry, Dad," Alex stammered, his eyes flickering away from Xanatos's. "Don't get mad I didn't mean for it to happen!"
         "Wh ?" Confused, Xanatos looked down at his chest, baffled when he didn't see a laser wound yawning up at him. Slowly realizing what happened, a hand flew to his head, searching frantically for the stitching that had been there only seconds earlier.
         Swallowing hard, Xanatos gently pushed his wife aside, rushing across his room to the full-length mirror by his closet. Catching the mirror with both hands, Xanatos held it steady, staring in mounting joy at his brown hair, his short beard.
         Startled, Alex looked blankly at his mother, then uneasily crept towards Xanatos. "Dad ?"
         Ecstatic, Xanatos spun around, laughing as his son-his SON-squawked in fright. Alex gave a yowl as Xanatos snatched him up, crushing him in a badly needed hug.
         "Oh, thank God!" Xanatos cried, clinging to Alex as he choked and mouthed for air. "I'm back, I'm back, it's all right now!"
         "It won't be all right if you squash our son flat," Fox said, a relieved smile spreading across her divinely beautiful face. Carefully prying Xanatos's arms free of the gagging Alex, Fox kissed her husband. "I was getting scared, David," she whispered, "You didn't get up, and when Alex and Puck realized that you were in another dimension "
         Cupping her face in his hands, Xanatos kissed Fox, trying hard not to laugh. "I was looking forward to doing this ever since I found out I was married to Hyena."
         Fox wasn't normally shocked by much, but this one definitely sent her eyes flying open. "What?!"
         "It's a long story," Xanatos replied, grinning to tussle his son's hair roughly. "It's just a good thing that the Gargoyles "
         As soon as he said that word, Xanatos felt the now invisible wound in his chest. Feeling his skin go cold, Xanatos slowly placed a hand against his chest.
         "The Gargoyles," he whispered, his eyes falling to the carpet as he remembered the Rookies warily circling him, protecting him from the enemies of their word. "The Rookies Oh no; they're dead. I left them there to die."
         Oddly, Alex straightened at the statement, and the smile disappeared from his rounded face. Wincing, he turned to Owen. "Uhhh "
         Pausing only to adjust the glasses on his beaky nose, Owen cleared his voice. "Ah, Mr. Xanatos?"
         Suddenly swamped with guilt, Xanatos slowly raised his head, following Owen's extended stone hand as it pointed across the room.
         Seeing the stone creatures frozen by his bed, Xanatos felt his heart stop dead in his chest.
         But that was nothing compared to the shock of seeing a dazed Anetha sitting in his desk chair.
         Blinking once or twice, Anetha glanced up at him and sighed wearily. "I think we made a mistake."
         "Indeed," Owen said, approaching Alex as he looked nervously up at his dad. "It seems that these Rookies were standing too close to the portal when it opened. Regrettably, they were dragged in along with you."
         Looking exhausted, Anetha slowly nodded. "It gets worse "
           Baffled, Xanatos ripped his gaze away from her and back to Owen. "What??"
        The wooden man lifted his eyebrows. "This portal is sealed permanently. The Gargoyles have no way of returning to their world until another one opens. That can be anywhere on the planet, and it could open at anytime anywhere from tonight to next year."
         Anetha began to quake. "So we're all stuck here," she said, her eyes turning glassy. "What do we do?"
          Biting her lower lip, Fox turned to Xanatos. "We can't let them meet the clan yet it'll be too confusing for all of them."
         Even as Fox was speaking, the gears in Xanatos's skull were spinning rapidly. Reaching his solution, Xanatos smiled.
         "Well," he said calmly, wrapping an arm around Fox. "Let's get these guys used to this world first. Then we'll ship you out."
         Anetha sat up. "Out??"
        "To Boston." Xanatos's grin grew wider. "They could use a Gargoyle clan down there."