| 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
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
It took Xanatos two full minutes before he realized he was looking
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
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."
"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.
realized that Hyena was … was normal. She was human. Where were her robotic
"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,
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?"
of Xanatos froze to ice. He stared at Hyena, his mouth opened, but no sounds
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?
heard Bronx yap excitedly as he tore along one of the ramparts.
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.
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
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
"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
"Yagh! Bonnie, stop!"
Looking rather disgusted, the Gargoyle pushed Bonnie away, wiping his face
with the back of his hand. "Stupid dog …"
cocked her head at him.
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'
"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!"
the door swung open, and a jolt surged through Xanatos as the form of Delilah
"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
"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."
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
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
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
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
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
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'
Goliath's eyes widened.
"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?
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
"Demona's living in
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 …"
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."
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
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,
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.
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
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:
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
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".
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 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
PRILIMINARY SENSOR SWEEPS INDICATE
3 CLASS-A GOLEMS
IN A TWO BLOCK RADIUS
"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.
SECONDARY SENSOR SWEEPS INDICATE
3 CLASS-A GOLEMS
IN A TWO BLOCK RADIUS
3 CLASS-A GOLEMS
"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
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 eyes widen in horror as his suit suddenly lurched forward, plummeting
to the ground.
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.
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.
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.
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
"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.
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
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'
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
Xanatos' eyes widened.
'They're trying to distract the people!'
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!"
"TH' BLOODY ELECTRICITY!!!"
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
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
Stunned, the animal
collapsed at Xanatos' feet.
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.
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
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?"
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."
helped himself to a seat beside Anetha. "You didn't answer my question,
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.
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:
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
"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
"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 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
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
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.
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
Oddly, Xanatos didn't
even cringe before her. Ignoring the screaming pain where she crushed his
wrist in her grip, Xanatos narrowed her eyes.
he said. His voice didn't waver.
Athena narrowed her
eyes, and her growl raised an octave. Finally, she stepped away, dropping
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
"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
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."
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?"
"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
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."
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?
"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?"
then glanced at Thailog, who shrugged.
"MacBeth left his whiskey
here," Thailog said, waving a hand to the huge gouge in the wall. "Help
Xanatos frowned sourly.
"Sounds tempting," he snorted, "but I think I'll go check on my suit."
then quickly hopped aside as Athena took a mocking swing at his shoulder.
turned away, shuddering. "I have GOT to get home."
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."
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.
couldn't stand the quiet anymore. Growling, he stalked into the Cathedral,
gladdened by the sound of his clawed boots hitting the tiles.
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
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
"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."
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.
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
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 …"
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
Xanatos was horrified
at this change in Angela's character. "Can't I get my helmet off first?!"
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.
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
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,
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."
to grin, Goliath ruffled the hair atop Eddie's head. "All will be well.
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.
Angela turned to Broadway. Her face remained impassive, but Broadway gazed
at her with sadness.
"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
"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.
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
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
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!"
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
Angela spun around in midair, her leg whipping out and slamming into the
creature's head, knocking it to the ground.
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
"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?
"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
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!"
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
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
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!"
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
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!"
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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 …?"
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."
Anetha slowly nodded. "It gets worse …"
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
Anetha began to quake.
"So we're all stuck here," she said, her eyes turning glassy. "What 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,
"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."