Concrete and Steel

a story by ARTWerks, Inc./ Written by Stephen R. Sobotka, Jr.



Author's Disclaimer:

This is a original fan-fiction. The plot and story are my own, based on characters
and situations from Disney's Animated TV series "Gargoyles". This has been
written solely for other fans of the show to enjoy, not to gain profit for the author.
All characters, with exception of one's I created, are TM and Copyrighted by
Buena Vista Television and Walt Disney Entertainment, and are used without
their knowledge. Please don't sue, since this was done as a tribute to the spirit of
the original show.

Author's Note :

This story came to be because of a little creativity demon that popped up during
my time in the TGS/s8 Comment Rooms, which was inspired by a story written by
Coyote the Bando for his "Gargoyles: Clan Manhattan" fan-fic series (I'll let you
guess which one!). However, I liked the premise behind it so much, I just had to
take a stab at expanding it into a full story of my own creation. NOTE! This is a
very different story that the one Coyote created, so don't think I'm ripping off on
his work. Plus, I have to admit, the initial idea "seed" was all his, so he gets some
of the credit for the influence behind this story. (Tips his Big White Hat to the

This is part of my continuum in "The DeGuy Saga" after "Jessica's New Friend"
and before "Generations Quest". Enjoy!


"Hot and cold, like the streets of gold,
 Easy to find, but so hard to hold.
 Smooth as stone, but it won't last long!
 When the rust sets in, she'll be good as gone...

 Concrete! Concrete and Steel!
 It's like Concrete!
 Hey baby, what's the deal?"


~ Aerie Building Private Garage, Sub-Level-1, November 19th, 2005 ~

Amid the super-sleek auto-cars, skimmers, and other assorted vehicles that
made up the private fleet of Xanatos Enterprises, there was one corner of the
multi-level garage that bespoke of an age gone by . . . where the smells of oil,
fuel, and hot metal mixed with the sounds of men and machines.

Well, in this case, women and machines.

"Sweetie, hand me that nine-sixteenths socket, please?"

Seated on the fender of a car that had seemingly become a legend in the 23rd,
Jessica DeGuy fumbled through the burlap tool belt that lay draped across her
knee-length purple skorts. "Got it! Here 'tis!" Handing the tool down into the open
hood of the Fairlane, she watched with a smile as her mother's hand emerged,
gripped the offered tool before disappearing into the guts of the car's engine

"Thanks," Elisa's voice said, sounding hollow as it came up from underneath.
Sounds of tinkering were followed by a loud "CLANK!" and a string of muttered
curses were just behind it.

Jessica shook her head. "Aw, Mom!"

"It's okay! Just wasn't - ugh! - getting a good grip on this manifold!" Elisa assured
her daughter.

From the back seat, her twin brother David rolled his eyes, picking idly at a speck
on his black denim pants. "That's the tenth time tonight, Mom."

"Eighth," Elisa groused.

"Tenth," Jessie echoed David.

"Hey! Who's working on this . . . this . . . hunk of junk! You or me?!?" Elisa
sputtered, just as another "CLANG!" sang out. "Dang!"

Jessica looked at her twin, who merely shrugged. "Wouldn't it be better to let one
of Xanatos' mechanics help out, Mom?"

Elisa snorted. "No way! This is my baby, and no one touches her but me.
Besides, Xanatos' boys may know how to slap a Steel Clan robot together with
spit and wire, but they don't know beans about a classic like this."

Just then the doors to the sole access elevator opened, and Goliath and Brooklyn
entered. Both the former and current leaders of the Manhattan clan stood just
inside the huge bay, looking at the vehicles and assorted machines and tools.

"Looks like someone's idea of a modern day Frankenstein factory! Why does
Xanatos keep all of this down here?" Brooklyn asked absently.

"He tells me that it's like his own private collection," Goliath replied. "If Alexander
could have his miniature toy cars, then he can have his."

Elisa grabbed the side of the Fairlane's chassis and slid out from underneath,
giving her husband and friend both an exasperated look. "Men! Typical, no matter
what they are, they have to have their toys!"

Goliath chuckled. "And I suppose females don't have theirs?" As Elisa stood up,
he gave his wife warm hug, mindful of the grease on her coveralls. "Have you
been able to fix it yet? You've been down here most of the day."

Elisa smacked on hand down onto her thigh. "I thought I had it licked! But . . . the
alternator is shot," she explained with an exasperated tone. "Along with the
carburetor, the starter, and nearly a dozen other things I'd care to mention! I've
been neglecting her for far too long!"

"Mom, this is an old car," David said, climbing out of the back seat, smoothing
out his white chambray shirt as he did. "I mean, it's a classic, sure! But, don't you
think you should, um, well..."

His mother flashed him an indignant glare. "Don't EVEN think it, chum! That
car has seen me through nearly all of my career as a cop!" She turned around to
give the red and white Fairlane a small, fond smile. "I nearly had to sink my first
two year's pay to get her, and I'm not going to let her go that easily."

"But you're always down here trying to fix her! Don't you think she's had enough
driving years?" David asked.

"Oh, David, I'm not happy with the fact I'm not spending more time with the
others," she said, turning to give her son a pat on the shoulder, "but, I just can't
stand the thought of not having her around."

Brooklyn chuckled in sympathy. "Kind of like having to shoot your favorite horse,

Jessie made a mock sour face. "You've been watching too many westerns with
Uncle Broadway!"

This set everyone laughing. Goliath reached over and pulled his beloved close.
"Still, my love, if you can not get your vehicle running by now, perhaps you should
consider getting a new one?" He forestalled another outburst with an upraised
hand. "Elisa, as much as I don't mind having to fly you to your work, or even ask
for one of Xanatos' men to do the same it would be better to find a new vehicle for
you to use."

"Besides, Mom," David offered, "you can always fix her up and show her off to
everyone else. Like one of those show-cars they bring out down in Madison
Square every year."

Sighing, Elisa seemed to take this all in. "Ah, well . . . I still have to see if some of
the replacement parts I ordered show up soon." She pushed back a stray lock of
hair - one that was starting to get some silver amid the black strands - and looked
at her family with a tolerant smile. "Look, I'll give it some though, okay? Don't rush
me into getting something I'm not going to like!"

Goliath actually pulled back and gave her a look of mock-shock. "Heaven help us
if we did that!" It earned him a punch in the arm, and more laughter from
everyone else.


~ The Gymnasium, Castle Wyvern, Later That Night ~

David pulled himself up into a tuck, rolling back as Alexander Xanatos planted a
foot where the younger boy's body had just been. He pivoted on his shoulder,
throwing a pumped kick to force the young heir pull back. Following through, the
11-year old spun into a defensive crouch, waiting for Alex to press his attack.

The 13-year old red-headed youth however executed a perfect-form back flip,
landing in a modified, low Iron Horse stance. "HA-I!"

David spun into a series of feints, meant to draw Alex off his center guard, while
forcing his opponent to retreat to the edge of the mat.

"Ka-YA!" Alex grabbed David by the sleeve of his gi, tossing him to his knees to
the side to counter his attack, while allowing himself to return to the center of the

Slapping the mat, David spun and launched himself into the air, aiming a kick at
Alex's middle. "Ai-YAA!"

Alex only just dodged, trying to answer with a follow up chop to David's back as
the younger boy passed by. However, David twisted in flight, seizing Alex by the
arm as he landed and stepping into Alex's guard with a heaving motion that
flipped him head over heels. Alex regained his balance, landing and turning to
land a jab to David's chest just as David came in with a punch of his own, landing
squarely on his opponent's side.


At that, both boys broke off and stepped apart, each standing ramrod straight
before executing a low bow to each other before rising. "I believe that's match,"
Alex said, breathing heavy.

"Right," David replied, his own breath coming in gasps. "Jess, what's the score?"

To the side, Jessica was sitting on a stack of cushioned mats, along with
Dominique MacDuff - the only Halfling daughter of Demona and Macbeth, who
was as always impeccably dressed in a fashionable blouse and jeans, with
matching low-heeled boots. The both watched as the boys had their daily sparing
match before dinner.

Jessica consulted some scribbles on a note pad, reporting, "Davie's got most of
the defense points, but Alex wins on overall technique, Right, 'Monique?"

David hung his head in mock shame, smiling all the while as he shook Alex's
hand in good sportsmanship. "Looks like I need more lessons. I'm gettin' sloppy!"

"You're welcome to join father and me when we practice with Owen," Alex
offered, motioning for the elder DeGuy Twin to follow him off the mat to where a
pair of towels lay. "We wouldn't mind an extra body-."

"To throw around?" quipped 'Monique.

David laughed, slapping his partner on the shoulder as they collected their towels.
"Thanks, but I still prefer to get my lessons from Da," he replied. "But, I'll keep it in
mind when Da's schedule gets busy."

"Fair enough," Alex replied. The boys were joined by the girls, and all four left the
gym to head back to the Gargoyles Wing.

"Alex, have you heard any word on those parts our mother ordered for her car?
She's sorta put out that she can't get it to run lately," Jessica asked, her violet
eyes imploring in that special way of hers; usually reserved for getting her way.

As usual, it worked. "I've talked with Owen and Dad, and they've been trying to
get the parts, but," he sighed, rubbing the towel through his sweat soaked hair,
"it's not easy to find vintage parts for an old Fairlane. Even with Dad's
connections, it's been quite a time."

Both DeGuy twins sighed. "Looks like there's going to be trouble ahead for Da
then," David commented aloud.

"How come?" 'Monique asked. "What's there to be trouble for?"

"Da wants Mom to get a new car to replace the Fairlane," David explained to the
youngest member of the foursome, "but Mom loves that car to bits, so she's not
gonna give her up easily."

"But she's always having to get Daddy to have one of the Security men to drop
her off at work," Jessie added. "And it's not right for her not to be able to get
around like she used to." She stopped the group, and looked around for a second
before beckoning them closer to whisper, "Besides, I heard her complaining that
she has to keep using a old, patrol car in the meantime!"

The other two looked at the twins gravely. "That's like asking Owen to drive Dad
and us to the Garden on a bicycle!"

"Isn't there anything that Elisa would take over her old car?" Monique asked.

Shaking his head, David replied, "Naw, Mom's set on her old car. She's claims it's
her classic; a piece of the past that no one can duplicate."

Dominique nodded. "Still, there has to be something we can do for her. It's the

Just then, Owen Burnett appeared from the adjacent hallway, looking as stiff and
formal as ever. "Ahem. Pardon my intrusion, but dinner is about to be served, and
the rest of the clan and your parents are waiting for you to arrive."

"And we still need to clean up! Let's get moving, Alex!" David said, heading off for
his family's quarters.

Alex waved him on. "Go on, I'll . . . be along in a minute."

"'Kay! Let's go Jess!" With that, Dominique lead the younger DeGuy twin off to the
dining hall.

As Owen was about to turn to follow, Alex motioned him to stop with a wave.
"Owen, I've been doing some thinking..."

"A dangerous pastime," Owen quipped. Unbeknownst to the others, whenever
Alex and him were alone, Owen was more apt to let his alter-ego's personality
shine through his wooden exterior from time to time.

"Owen! This is serious!"

"I'm sorry, Alexander," Owen said, a small hint of a smile still on his lips. "What
have you been thinking about?"

Alex looked after the departing twins. "It's about Elisa's car . . . the old Fairlane.
She's been trying for over two weeks to get it to run, with no success."

Owen pulled out a small notebook, consulting it briefly. "The parts she and
Goliath requisitioned will be here soon, but I'm afraid it will not be sufficient to
make her vehicle run."

"Just what I concluded," the reddish-blonde hared youth replied. "But, I was
thinking there MIGHT be a way for her to have her old car back, and then
some! But, it's going to take some shifty work on our part, and some help from
the men and women in Xanacorp Motor Industries to pull it off."

"Would this course of action be a bit extravagant, young sir?"

Alex made a small frown. "Possibly, but look at it this way ... it will be one of my
gifts for the DeGuys for this Christmas."

Owen replied with a slight nod, "I understand, Alexander. Do you wish to ask your
father for his assistance?"

Alex grinned. "Dad gave me certain . . . liberties to use, if I felt it was needed. Sort
of like "early perks" from my future inheritance." He looked at his mentor with a
steady gaze. "If we need to, we'll tell my father, but for now, this is a two-man
operation; you and me."

"I understand, Alexander." Owen agreed. "When shall we begin this . . . august

A persistent growl from Alex's tummy made the boy giggle. "After dinner, okay?"


~ The Next Morning ~

The offices of David Xanatos bustled with the usual morning traffic; dispatches to
the field units, reports being compiled, data sorted and sifted through. The entity
that was Xanatos Enterprises was in full swing, and it was doing business like
never before.

In his private office, Xanatos himself was looking over a stack of company papers
while enjoying a morning cup of coffee. Ever youthful and full of vigor - for
someone pushing 40-plus - Xanatos had recently stopped trying to look younger
than he really was; the silver in his beard and temples attested to that.

Just at that moment, an item on a recent Purchase Order caught his eye.

"What the-? What is all this!?" He scanned the sheet in his hand over and over
again, before he finally reached over and tapped the intercom button. "Owen!
Come in here, now!"

A second or two passed, and Xanatos' personal assistant appeared through the
main doorway. "Yes, Mr. Xanatos?"

David looked at his majordomo, holding up the offending piece of paper. "Can
you explain to me why this P.O. was made? Half of the parts I recognize from
R&D from XMI, but some are a totally baffling!" He began to read off the list.
"Titanium frame-walls, pressure seal gaskets, one of the advanced A.I.-2k-4's
from CyberBiotics, and - this is very strange! - a chassis from a 1958 Fairlane!?"

Owen cleared his throat. "I believe I can explain, Mr. Xanatos."

David leaned back, bridging his hands together at the fingertips. "Go ahead."

"All of these . . . items were requested by Alexander, for a special project he is
working on."

David rose up for a moment. "Alexander? A project?? What is my son doing - or
is going to do - with all of this?"

Owen's face remained placid. "I'm afraid I am not at liberty to discuss that yet, sir.
Alexander insisted I be sworn to total secrecy, until the project was completed."

Xanatos frowned. Normally, he would have questioned a situation like this and
investigated it to the hilt; had it been one of his own employees. The fact that it
was his own son didn't make him any less curious. However, the other side of his
mind was privately applauding his son's actions. For too long, he'd wondered if
Alex would ever show any signs of inheriting his business savvy and wits. From
the looks of things, it seemed he did; conferring with Owen, working out the
details of - well, whatever it was he was working on.

Sighing, David replied, "Okay, Owen . . . I'll let this go, this time. But, in the future,
I want Alex to clear any of his 'projects' with me first before he goes ordering for
parts. Is that clear?"

"Yes, Mr. Xanatos," Owen replied in his usual fashion. "Now, if there is nothing
else that you need?"

"Nothing more for now, Owen. Just keep that information for the West Coast
Project coming in," David replied, dismissing his assistant with a wave.

"Very well, sir." Owen silently left the office, leaving Xanatos to his own thoughts.

"What is Alexander up to?" he mused, looking down at the paper in his hand
once more...


~ Four Weeks Later, December 20, 2005 ~

Elisa slipped out of her and Goliath's room, making sure to zip the zipper the rest
of the way up on her fresh coveralls as she threw her tool-kit over her shoulder.

"Well, it's high time I got back to taking care of Baby," she said aloud to herself.
Moving briskly down the hallway, she headed for the elevator that lead to the sub-
level garage.

She looked forward to another night of getting grimy while working on her classic
car, having not been able to do much with it for the past couple of weeks. Her
duties as the new Chief of Detectives, plus looking after her family gave her very
little time to pursue finishing the repairs of her Fairlane.

She had asked the twins if they wanted to come help her again, but both David
and Jessica said they had other things planned for this night. So, it looked as if it
was going to be just her and her mechanical baby.

It was a surprise to her then, that she found Alexander Xanatos waiting outside
the elevator when she arrived.

"Afternoon, Elisa," he said, looking pleased as a cat rolling in catnip..

"Hey, there! What are you up to this afternoon?" she asked.

He grinned, "Ooh, nothing much! Bored really, but I thought I'd tag along with you
for a while. Do you mind?"

Elisa chuckled. "You might want to reconsider, Alex. I've got no other plans than
to work on my car - all night if need be - so, you could go look and see what the
kids are doing."

Alex shook his head, just as the doors to the elevator opened. "Nah! David and
Jessica are planning to go  over to the park to the opening of that new youth
center. Besides," he said, motioning for Elisa to enter the elevator first, "I've been
working on a little something of my own, and I want your expert opinion on it,

Elisa stepped inside. "What sort of project?"

Thumbing the DOWN button, he replied, "I'd like to think of it as an early
Christmas gift."


"You did WHAT?!?"

Alexander, to his credit, winced only slightly at Elisa's accusing tone. In truth, he
had known Elisa long enough to know this wasn't the usual kind of reaction one
got from her during situations like this. Sure, some hostility and a rejection of the
gift he had expected. But, not down and out outrage!

"I said, 'All I did was order some parts, and put together a better version of your

Fuming, Elisa turned away. "I heard you the first time, kiddo! But . . . this is NOT
what I expected, nor do I appreciate it!"

Sitting in the usual spot where Elisa old car used to be, was a seemingly brand-
new, vintage-styling, mint 1958 Fairlane; complete with red-and-white trim, white
wall tires, and all original crome and leather. But, there was something that only a
dedicated car buff like Elisa could detect that proved it wasn't what it seemed.

"What's not to appreciate?" Alex asked, regaining his composure. "I knew you'd
be forever in getting your old car fixed, and since the holidays were just around
the corner I had Owen get me the parts and components I needed, got Dad's
best mechanics on the job and, viola!"

Elisa's brown eyes were still sparkling with anger, but her temper was cooled
somewhat as she looked from Alex to the vehicle. "But it's not MY car! My car
had style, class, and a lot of history in it!"

"And you can make history with this one, Elisa. It's got the new VSTOL
technology we've been working on in our Detroit division." He grinned at her
raised eyebrows. "Traffic jams will be a thing of the past!"

Crossing her arms, Elisa snorted. "Yeah, but we'll need air traffic controllers!"

"Plus the chassis and frame made of our new dura-alloy, making it a lot stronger
than you old car. You'd need to ram it into a 50 foot-thick block of concrete to
demolish it."

Elisa sighed. "Look, it may be the next best thing to a Porsche-Nova, but I'm
afraid I can't take it, Alex. That modern-made junk heap could never compare to
my old car!"

The heir of Avalon held up his hands. "That's where you're not quite right," he
offered. "At least let me show you what it can do before you condemn it, okay?
Give me - and it - a chance, please Elisa?"

Elisa looked at the younger Xanatos with a skeptical eye. True, he was smarter
and more gifted that your normal teenager - he had both of his parents to thank
for that - and she had to always watch her step around him, since he tended to be
more into plots and pranks growing up. She was sure Puck has something to do
with that.

But, she had to admit, he never did mean her or the kids any harm. And since he
really did mean this as a surprise . . .

"Okay, Alex! If you want me to take her for a test drive, then let's get it over with."
She stepped over to one side of the vehicle, looking for the lock on the handle.
"How do you open this tin can?"

"It's a little different than your old car, Elisa," Alex replied. He held up a silver
cylinder with rounded ends, attached to which was a clip and a key ring with two
keys. "This is the only access you'll need. The cylinder houses an advanced
laser-beam key code transmitter. You aim it at the dashboard or the mirror, and
pick-ups inside will disarm the alarm system, activate the starter system, and
unlock the driver's door; all in one easy step. The beam is on a unique frequency,
so there's no chance anyone else can break it and take your car." Alex tossed the
cylinder and keys to Elisa.

She caught them neatly, turning the cylinder around to examine it. "What about
the keys?"

Alex chuckled. "Those are backups to the trunk and doors, but that can be
accessed with the beam key, too. Those are purely for show."

With a fading touch of skepticism, Elisa leveled the cylinder at the car and
pressed the small button on the side. There was a small hum, and the driver's
side door opened up with a hiss of pneumatics.

Alex hopped around to the other side. "Um, you'll have to hit it again to let
passengers in."

"Oh?" Elisa complied after a pause, letting the young man slip into the passenger
side. She got in as well, closing the door behind with a loud "CLUNK".

She whistled low, looking at the dash before her. "This does not look promising.
How do you steer this thing?" she asked.

"You have to activate the interface with a voice command," Alex explained. "Unit-
2, power on; prime ignitors; lock mag-brakes; power to drive; initialize controls."
As he spoke each command aloud, the vehicle's systems came to life. A
thrumming pulse emitted from underneath the hood, filling the air. A second later,
the steering column and wheel extended from the dashboard in front of Elisa.

"Wow! Is there a way to do all of that without all the preamble?"

"I'll show you how to preset the commands later," Alex explained. He pulled out a
small communicator device, thumbing it on as he said, "Doors, open." In front of
the car, the dual, armored doors to the garage swung back to reveal one of the
private access ways to the upper levels. "It operates much like your old car, so . .
. you're the driver, Mrs. DeGuy. The road is yours!"

Elisa couldn't help but smile right along with Alex. "Let's see what she's got!" With
that, she gunned the accelerator . . .


An hour later, Elisa's opinion of Alex's gift was much improved as she ran the car
through it's paces. She told him as much as they pulled back into the garage and
came to a stop.

"Well, I have to admit, it handles a lot better than my car, and I couldn't ask for
better stopping power."

Grinning, Alex replied, "Those new brakes are a major improvement over the old
Anti-Lock Braking systems the manufacturers make available to the public."

Elisa set the vehicle into park mode, having learned a few things on the fly from
Alex on their drive around Manhattan. "So . . . I'll admit it. It's not a bad car. It
handles smooth, good power response, and it looks good from the outside in.
But, it's going to have to go a long way before it will match up to my baby."

"Does that mean you'll at least give it a try? At least for a couple of weeks?"

Sighing, Elisa looked over at the younger Xanatos. "Ahhh, what the hey . . . at
least I could stand not having to bum a ride from the XESF boys all the time." She
looked back at the dash expectantly. "Now, didn't you say there was something
you were going to show me what to do, about the controls?"

"Right. Hold on while I get something," Alex said, opening his door. He clambered
out and walked over to one of the worktables, removing a futuristic looking
headset and a small portable computer link. He returned to the car and sat back
down, opening an access port in the dash, right below a holograph display.

"This allows for a direct user-to-unit link with the car's AIU - artificial intelligence
unit - and, to an extent, will allow you to program a portion of it; mainly the part
that works the main user control interface." He finished the connection, holding
the headset up. "You can work the commands with this headset."

Elisa looked at it hesitantly. "Isn't that a VR-getup?"

Alex nodded. "It's a simplified variant of the ones the boys in R&D use, but it's
powerful enough for this purpose. Here." He handed it over to her. "I'll walk you
through some of the more simple command settings, then you can fill out the
others on your own."

Still not sure, but realizing she was in this for a stretch, Elisa took the headset and
slipped it over her face. The contacts pressed against her temples, a simple
microphone angled just below her mouth. She reached up and flipped a small
switch, watching as the display-screens came to life before her eyes.

"Okay, now, the first command structure is simple enough; to activate the car's
power plant and initiate the start up sequence," Alex explained . . .


~ The Eyrie Command Center ~

The Chief Duty technician checked the daily maintenance schedule on the
clipboard in front of him.

"Hey, Frank! Did the notice go out for the back-up generator test today?" he
asked, looking to one of the other techs.

"Far as I know," Frank replied, not bothering to look over from where he was
monitoring a bank of security cameras, "the notices went out to the main areas:
the labs, R&D . . . y'know."

"Well, I hope everyone in the lower floors got the word. We need this test to run
off without a hitch, and I hope no one has anything important hooked up to the
mains." the Chief replied.

"Well, the most anyone will get is a loss of a day's worth of data," Frank returned,
reaching over to initiate the power up sequence. "Unless everyone is using their
backup drives, they won't miss a thing."


Down below, Elisa was still inputting commands into the car's AIU, while Alex
stood by to offer what assistance he could.

"This is almost too easy," Elisa smirked. "This car could almost drive itself!"

"Only if you gave it the right command base to work from," Alex commented.

"Uh-oh," Elisa said, her smirk fading into a puzzled frown, "there's a problem
here. 'Power Down' warning?"

Alex grimaced. "Darn! I had the VR-set running off of it's own power pack, and it's
limited at best. Surprised that we didn't get that warning sooner. Hold on! I'll try to
get an auxiliary line in to keep it going."
He turned  back to the work benches, finding where a power feed from the main
grid was coiled neatly on a hook just below the on-switch.

"Should I try to save all of these commands?" Elisa asked, not wanting to have to
re-enter all of these commands over again.

"Not yet! Trying to save data without enough power usually doesn't guarantee a
total file save," Alex explained, uncoiling the line as he dragged the end back to
the car.

"Well, we'd better do something! We've got thirty seconds before we loose the
entire command file," Elisa reported.

Alex grimaced all the more. "I'll have to try something. I'm not sure it will work, but
it might save the command file until I get this feed hooked up."

"Fine, just do it kiddo!"

Concentrating, even as he willed his hands to begin hooking the feed to Elisa's
headset, Alex started to chant a short, yet powerful spell:

  "By Avalon's name, the memory here must not be lost!
    May it be saved by the mind within, no matter the cost!"


Frank turned away from the displays, looking at the main control board beside
him as a series of lights winked from amber to green. "That's it . . . all sections
reporting readiness. We are go in . . . ten seconds."

"Stand by to initiate power-spike," the Chief replied, watching another set of
gauges. "When the mains fail, the back ups should kick in."

"Roger," Frank said, reaching for a large, amber button. "Spiking the mains in
four . . . three . . . two . . . one!"


A bluish glow surrounded Elisa's headset, just as Alex finished snapping the feed
connection on.

"There! That should do it, Elisa."

At that moment, a crackle of energy sounded from the feed's junction, making the
buffers POP as a surge of power - more that the junction could handle - raced
through the main line. Before Alex or Elisa could do anything, the surge lanced
down the feed cable, into the VR-set where it changed the blue light into a sickly

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!" Elisa screamed, the force of the surge
throwing her across the front seat, where she smacked into the passenger door.

"ELISA!" Alex shouted. He didn't think of himself. Instead, he darted towards the
junction box, and reached out to slap the circuit breaker switch closed. There was
a *ZZZZRRRTT!* as the circuit was cut off from the surge, but the residual
electricity arced from the line, into the box, where it eventually was grounded out
by the reinforced wall.

"YEOW!" Alex jerked his hand back, having caught a short burst of the backlash
when he slapped the switch, but it was not as bad as it looked.

The lights in the garage flashed and went black, and for a moment Alex was
afraid that the power was gone for a good while. In a heartbeat, the auxiliary
generators kicked in, and the lights went back on in no time.

Alex turned around, ignoring the pain in his hand as he looked over to where the
car was, seeing the top of Elisa's head against the passenger's side window.

"Elisa?" he asked, fearful that the older woman had not survived the power surge.
Coming closer, he could see that the headset was still smoking from the massive
overload, and Elisa's eyes were wide open, yet glazed and unseeing.

Not wasting another moment, he ran to the comm-panel that every floor and
compartment had, wrenching the handset free as he triggered the emergency-
access line.

"Comm-Central?" came the response.

"This is Alexander Xanatos," he said quickly, "down in the Sub-Garage-1! We
have a medical emergency! Send down a Trauma Team, NOW!"


~ The Medical Wing, Two Hours Later ~

It was a small group of concerned people that clustered outside the ICU unit,
waiting for word of Elisa's condition.

Foremost was Goliath, who had been in human-form for his night-shift as Chief of
Xanatos' XSF teams. He had been doing a routine inspection of some of the
floors when the test happened, and nearly the first one to the Trauma Ward when
the call from Alex came through.

"What exactly happened here?" he asked Xanatos, who had to break a late
meeting with some of his shareholders when Owen had received the report of
Elisa's accident. Standing next to him was a much-worried Alexander, as well as
Aiden Ferguson - who had come up to offer her help to the medics when they
wheeled Elisa in.

"The building was running tests on the emergency back-ups, in case of a massive
power loss to the main generators," David Xanatos said, hoping that Goliath
wouldn't get too emotional. Yes, he has every right to be, but that won't help Elisa
now. "Elisa was hooked in to the mains, through a VR-set down in the garage.
The surge from the power spike we triggered must have overloaded the set and
shocked her somehow."

Goliath swallowed, looking to the resident sorceress with trepidation. "Is . . . is
she going to be all right?"

"I think so," Aiden replied, brushing some of her blonde locks from in front of her
face. She unconsciously straightened the lapels of her XE jacket as she
continued, "but, Elisa's going to be out of it for a while. She got a massive delivery
of raw electricity to her system. I'm, well, pretty shocked to see she was still
breathing. But the doctors all say she's out of the worst of it, but they want to keep
her in ICU for a day or so, just to be safe."

Goliath nodded, looking over to where Alexander was leaning against the wall,
looking very dejected and worried. "Alexander . . . you did the best thing for Elisa;
calling for help when you did." he said, trying to soothe the young boy's worry.

Alex sighed, keeping his eyes down on the tiled floor of the hallway. "I should
have known about the tests! It would have been better to let the command file fail,
and re-do the work again . . . instead of endangering Elisa's life like that!"

Goliath frowned, unsure what to say, but Xanatos knelt down beside Alexander
and laid a hand on his shoulder.

"Alex, you did what you thought was right at the time," he said softly. "We can't
always know what is going to happen next. If we did, we'd drive ourselves crazy
just trying to prepare for the littlest of things." He reached out and turned his son
to face him. "A mistake was made, but it's one that - thankfully - didn't turn out to
be a fatal one. Elisa is going to be all right, and the next time you'll know better to
pay attention when something important is going to happen. After all," he finished
with a grin, "what does your grand- father always tell you?"

"If you don't pay attention to life," Alex said in reply, "then you'll loose sight of it."
He looked up at his father and gave a small smile. "I'll do better next time, Dad. I

Xanatos drew his son close, hugging him for a brief moment. "I know you will." He
stood up and looked to Goliath again. "Do David and Jessica know about the

Shaking his head, Goliath rumbled, "The twins went off to a place that Tony
Dracon opened up next to his restaurant recently; a video arcade and play-place,
if I remember." Sighing, Goliath seemed to look off towards an unseen point. "I
almost wish Dracon had not been told about Elisa and myself. I think he's
becoming an influence on the twins .  . . especially Jessica."

Xanatos, Alex, and Aiden couldn't help but smile at Goliath's consternation. "Well,
look at it this way," the pixie-blonde replied, "ever since Dracon went 'straight',
he's been really working towards bringing safety back to the neighborhood. You
could say Jessica is having an influence on him, right?"

At this Goliath had to agree. "True . . . I guess it is hard to let go of the past

"Besides, Elisa made her peace with Tony a while back," Xanatos added,
"perhaps you should do the same, hm?"

"Elisa always seems to be the one to find the way for the rest of us," the tall
changeling replied. "Besides, I just hope she can be forgiving of the technical
crew for the headache she will be feeling when she wakes up."


~ Darkness ~

Drifting in a sea of murk, the sentience that was there tried to pull its scattered
memories back to some semblance of order.

~ oooh . . . Damn! Wh-what hit . . . me? ~

Another moment of disorientation, then a small kernel of memory came to the
fore: a name . . . Maza.

~ Maza . . . now why is that name familiar? Funny . . . I could almost . . . swear it
belonged to . . . someone important to me. But . . . who?~

There was another few seconds of time, then another name; Elisa.

~ Elisa . . . Elisa? Elisa . . . Maza? Wait . . . Elisa . . . Maza!? Elisa Maza! That . . .
that's my name! I'm Elisa Maza! ~

As if a key had suddenly found the lock, a whole flood of memories suddenly filled
Elisa Maza's mind.

~ Now . . . I remember! I was in . . . the garage with . . . Alexander! We had just
about saved the . . . command file on the . . . new Fairlane, and something . . .
happened! Something bad! I need to get awake! Got to . . . see how bad things
are! ~

The blackness suddenly shifted to brilliant white . . .


The first thing Elisa felt was . . . COLD!

Brrrr! She thought, Who's been turning down the thermostat in the hospital rooms
lately! She tried to open her eyes, but for some reason they didn't want to
respond. She tried moving her head, but that too seemed to be frozen. What's
going on? Have they got me in a neck brace?

Suddenly, she heard a voice. "She don't look to bad, wouldn't you say so?"

Relief filled her mind. Good, at least I'm not a vegetable or something, she
thought. Now if I could only talk!

"Naw, most of the juice was absorbed down the frame and into the ground,"
another voice said, "so she's still serviceable."

Something in that tone didn't sit well with Elisa. What does he mean 'still

"Yeah, be a shame to have to strip her down for parts," the first voice returned.
"considering she's one, sweet honey!"

Now Elisa began to get really worried. What were these orderlies doing, talking
about me like I'm some . . . slab of meat!?

"Tell me about it! I could slip behind her and give her the ride of her life!" the
second voice said, pure admiration in his tone. Just then, Elisa felt the
unmistakable caress of a hand down her side.

WOAH! That's enough! She thought. She had a sudden surge of emotion -
outright indignation - and at that point, she suddenly had a perfect view around
her; looking at the sight of two XSF guards, from the front seat of the Fairlane.

"Hey! Just what do you think you're doing?!?" she shouted, not caring at the
moment that it looked as if she had been left in the car while the medics had yet
to arrive.

At that, both men jerked back from her, looks of shock plastered on their faces.
"Ahh, Sal? . . . Did y-you hear something?" the heavy-set one said, his horn-rims
just one degree from falling off of his nose.

The other guard whipped his flashlight up, putting the light right into Elisa's eyes.
"Yeah . . .b-but, what the-?!"

"Do you mind?!? Get that light out of my eyes!" Elisa snapped. "What happened
to me!? Where's Alex?"

The guards looked at each other, unsure what to say to her. "Uh, I think we'd
better report this in, Sal!"

"Right . . . why, um, don't we do that from the desk . . . upstairs!" With that, both
men turned and sprinted for the elevator.

"Wait! You're gonna leave me here?!?" Elisa called after them. Turning around,
she tried to follow them, ignoring the sounds of metal on stone that seemed to be
coming from all around her.

Why am I moving so slow? She asked herself. She watched as the guards looked
back over their shoulders, not comprehending their wide-eyed stares as they
scrambled to get out of her way.

"Guys! I know it's usually 'Ladies First' but-OUCH!!!"

For some reason, Elisa couldn't fit through the open doors of the elevator, which
seemed to be a lot smaller than she could remember it to be.

"Hey! What's going on? I - umph! - can't get inside!"

One of the guards scrambled over to where the access switch to the garage
doors was. "Come on! We need to get out of here!" he shouted to the other
guard, and, as soon as the doors were open enough, they both bolted up the
access ramp.

"What is going on around here???" Elisa asked aloud. Turning around, she tried
to leave the car . . . but something kept her inside as the vehicle suddenly leapt
towards the open doors, it's engine's sound echoing off the walls. "Come back
here! I want some answers, mister!" She followed the ramp up to the next level,
then upon seeing that neither of the two guards were in sight, she headed for the
next ramp, leading up to the street level.

As she emerged, she spotted the two guards by the gate-keeper's posting, talking
in babbled, excited tones.

"HEY! I want to talk to you!"

At that, the guards all panicked, trying to squeeze in with the lone gate guard.

What is wrong with them??? Elisa gunned the accelerator, moving the Fairlane
across the sheltered parking lot in a matter of seconds. She tried to get the car to
come right alongside the panicked guards, but . . . suddenly something jerked the
controls out of her hands, sending the car straight at the exit barrier.

"WAAOOOOOOOAH!!!" she screamed, just as the Fairlane rendered the guard-
rail to match-sticks, and left three very nervous, very concerned XSF guards
looking after her.

The car careened out into the street, missing several cars as Elisa tried to get
some semblance of control over it. It finally fishtailed and turned completely
around, ending up miraculously in a wide space across the street, coming to a
complete, if shaky stop before ending up on the sidewalk; right where several
pedestrians looked on in horror, surely thinking that they would have been pinned
against the building if the car hadn't stopped.

Elisa tried to shake off  the disorientation, her first concern being for the people
she nearly smashed. "I-It's okay . . . is everyone all right? No broken bones or
anything major?"

To her dismay, and utter befuddlement, the people just stared at her as if she had
just beamed down from the mother ship.

"What? Did something hit me?" She tried to look at herself, and got that strange
cessation of motion once again. "What is going on around here?!?" Frustrated,
she turned to look at the mirrored surface of the window behind the crowd . . .

And nearly dropped into shock herself when she saw that the car was reflected
there . . . but not herself!
She should have been in the front seat of the car-! But, when she looked down,
she took in the view of the empty front seat only! There was no one behind the

"That's impossible!" she said out loud. "I've got to be in here! Otherwise . . .
otherwise . . ." A sudden point of clarity hit her; the last thing she remembered,
before the pain hit, what of Alexander chanting that memory-save spell.

"Oh boy," she said in a tiny voice.


~ The 23rd Precinct House, Thirty Minutes Later ~

Officer Morgan looked up at the late afternoon sky and sighed. "Another day
gone, and another night shift on." He turned just as the doors to the precinct
house opened, and smiled when a familiar face appeared. "Hey there, Matt!
Finished up another grueling day at the rat race?"

Lt. Matthew Bluestone nodded, but the return smile he had was genuine. "Yep,
now I just have to get back home to my wife, and see if I can catch up on the
home front."

"Lucky you," Morgan chuckled. "Even now, the criminal element breathes a sigh
of relief, knowing that Lt. Bluestone is off the beat for a while."

"Oh, bite your tongue! A good cop is never off the beat, Morgan!"

Laughing, Morgan replied, "Too true, Lieutenant. Too true." Before he could
comment further, Morgan turned around, hearing the distinctive sound of a
familiar car pulling up to the curb. "Say . . . isn't that Capt. Maza's car?"

Matt looked as well, seeing the familiar red-and-white trim of the infamous
Fairlane as it came to a screeching halt in front of the only unoccupied parking
space in front of them. "Looks like it, but I though she said it was still out for

"Maybe she got a rush job done on it? After all, her husband does work for

Before Matt could reply, the passenger door opened up a bit, and Elisa's voice
came out. "Matt! We have to talk... NOW!"

Matt looked puzzled.

"Today, Bluestone! Today!"

Matt faced Morgan. "Looks like my day's not over yet," he said with a frown. "I'll
see you tomorrow, okay?"

"Will do. Have a good night, Lieutenant," Morgan said in parting, turning to head
back into the precinct.

Matt walked down the steps, heading over to where Elisa was parked. As he
gripped the door handle, he said, "I hope you've got some good reason for
needing to talk at this time of night, Elisa, or else you'd better have a good
explanation for Elektra when I get . . . home . . ."

As he slid inside, the first thing to hit Matt was that the car was empty. There was
no sign of Elisa, nor anyone anywhere in either the front or the back seat.


"Don't say anything, Matt! Just sit back and let me do the driving," Elisa's voice
said, just as the door shut behind Matt, and the engine revved up. In a heartbeat,
the Fairlane was out and back into traffic, leaving the steps of the precinct behind

"Elisa! Wh-Where are you!? What's going on?!" Matt asked, looking around for
any sign of his former partner-turned-boss.

"I'm right here, Matt," Elisa explained, even though it sounded like she needed to
convince herself of that fact. "I know this is going to sound weird, but I am in
the car . . . literally!"

Matt seemed to look at the surrounding vehicle in shock for a few seconds,
before he stared hard at the dash. "What in . . . what happened here, Elisa!?
What made you go for the leather and crome look all of a sudden?!?"

"Look, it wasn't my idea!" Elisa snapped, then sighed. "Look, just let me get us
out of this traffic and I'll explain, okay?"

Matt seemed to want to agree, but there was a bit of hesitation in his posture.
"Fine," he said at length, "but, let me get in the driver's seat, before someone
pulls us over!"

"Right . . . sorry, Matt," Elisa said, her temper abated somewhat. "I've just been
turned so upside-down I just can't think straight!"

As Matt got into place, the strange steering controls popped into view. "I can
understand that, Elisa." Soon, they had left the worst of the city traffic behind, and
Matt could finally calm down from the shock of it all.

"Okay, now tell me what happened, from the beginning."

"Alex though it would be a nice idea to give me a spruced up version of my old
Fairlane," Elisa started.

"Whoa, waitaminute! Alex did this? As in Alexander, your husband's employer's

"Is there any other? Anyway, we'd just taken the car out for a few turns around
the block, and . . . as far as I can tell, when we were programming my commands
into the computer, something happened and I got zapped into it!"

Matt slapped the side of his face. "A computer?"

"Alex thought it would make things easier for me if most of the Fairlane's systems
were computer controlled."

"Holy Hasselhoff!" Matt muttered under his breath.

"That's not funny, Bluestone!"

"Sorry. Look, this is nearly too nutso to believe, okay? I mean, how did this

Elisa replied, "Alex was using some sort of VR-set to help input the commands,
and . . . hang on! Dead End Street!" The car made a wild left-hand turn, heading
down a cross street that took them back uptown.

"Anyway, something happened when we were trying to save the command file. I
can't quite make that out, but when I woke up . . . well, I found out I was wearing
white-side walls!"

Matt shook his head. "So, if you're inside the car, what happened to your body?"

Elisa paused. "I'm not sure . . . I'd think Xanatos might have it in his medical wing
. . . I hope"

"Then let's go back and see if we can't get your mind back into your body," Matt

Elisa had to agree. "Right . . . I just hope we can get me back where I belong!"

Before they could say or do anything more, a light began to flash on the computer
console in the dash.

"What's that thing doing?" Matt asked.

"How should I know? I'm not the normal operator in this jalopy!" Elisa snapped,
before she regained her composure. "Wait . . . this is weird! I can see the system
that light is attached to; Threat IFF? What did Alex put into this car?!?"

"Well, let's find out just what it can do," Matt reasoned, reaching out to flip the
switch that rested next to the light. As he did so, a small screen lit up on the dash,
revealing a wire frame view of the streets around them.

"Woah! Now that's interesting!"

"What?" Elisa asked. "What can you see?"

"It looks like this thing can identify various cars and other vehicles, and use their
license plates as a type of identifying code of some sort!" The red-hared detective
whistled low. "Pretty slick."

"I'll say . . . can you see what-never mind! I just found the way to tie it in to . . .
whatever passes for my eyes in this thing." Elisa replied. "Yeah, I can see it now .
. . that van ahead."

Matt looked up, spying the dark colored vehicle that Elisa just identified. "I see it.
Wonder what set this thing off like that?"

"Hmm, good question," Elisa said thoughtfully. "Wonder if Alex put more into this
computer than I give him credit for. He did say he put in a high-powered machine
to run this car." There was a moment of silence, which left Matt to wonder if
something was going wrong.

"Elisa? You still with me partner?"

Matt could almost see the smirk that colored Elisa's reply. "You haven't called me
that in a long while, Matt. Got it! This computer has satellite access to the NYPD
database! I think I can use it to pull that van's registration up." There was another
pause, during which a series of numbers flashed by on the display.

"You sure you can handle this?" Matt asked. "I mean, you never tried to be a
processor before!"

"Don't worry," Elisa's voice reassured him, "I can handle this. It's funny, but this
almost seems second nature to me now. Got it! The van is registered to a Carl
Bryce. Bryce? Now why does that sound familiar to me?"

The name set off Matt's warning signals as well. "Bryce . . . Bryce . . . wait! That's
that guy that we pulled in for aiding and abetting a bunch of Quarrymen during a
rally last month!" Suddenly, Matt found himself thrown back against the front seat
as the car shot forward in a burst of acceleration.

"Hold on, Matt! We're going to see what Mr. Bryce - or whoever is driving his van
- is up to!"

"Swell! Even now you take over driving- ELISA! WATCH OUT!"

Matt gripped the side door handle and dash as the car hit the brakes, stopping
just inches from the back of a huge truck that was backing out of a side alleyway.

"Damnit! MOVE IT!" Elisa's voice shouted, aided with a liberal use of the
Fairlane's horn.

The driver leaned out from his window, sneering at the smaller car. "Hey! I'm tryin'
ta drive here, SUGAR! Back that claptrap up, eh!?"

Matt snorted, "Typical New York attitude!" He leaned out, flashing his badge at
the driver. "NYPD, Pal! You want me to bust you on Obstructing an Officer?!?"

"Sheesh! 'Scuse the flogg outa me, Officer!" The driver slipped back into the cab,
and with a grinding of a gearbox, the truck sluggishly pulled back into the alley.

"Thanks for nothin'," Elisa growled, as she made the Fairlane swerve around and
head down the way they were going. Unfortunately, there was no sign of the van.

"Aw, nuts! They got away from us!" Matt slapped the dash in frustration.

"OW! Watch it, Matt!"

Matt looked at the dash and muttered, "Sorry . . . can you pick them up with that
sensor array?"

"No . . . I don't think it has the range for a wider search," Elisa groused.

"Well, come on," Matt replied, "they couldn't be that far away. We'll find them


~ The Draconi Youth Center, Just Off Central Park ~

"This is Andrea Davenport, reporting from what looks like the first good signs of
what may be another turn around for the streets of New York. I'm standing here in
front of the recently finished Draconi Youth Center - a place for kids of all ages in
Manhattan to come and play, safe from the dangers of the streets."

The brown-hared female, dressed in a gray topcoat over her formal dress and
knee-high boots, stood in front of the entrance to the center, her cameraman
taking in the sight of nearly twenty or so kids as they scrambled to get into the

"What makes this center such a surprise is the identity of it's owner and financial
backer; former crime-boss of the Dracon Dynasty, Anthony "Tony" Dracon,"
Andrea said, turning to face the back of the man she just mentioned. "Mr. Dracon,
can you tell us why you are having a change of heart after all your years of
running your former gang?"

Tony Dracon turned to face the camera, a smile that would have disarmed
politicos in the past turned on the reporter's audience. "Let's just say I've lost a lot
. . . being a part of my former ties with the underworld, Ms. Davenport. My cousin
Vito . . . several friends . . . all the rackets and all the money in New York can't
bring them back. It was high time I got out of the rat race, and back to the human

"But, surely you can't expect to continue to make charitable donations to the
neighborhood," Andrea countered, her hand wave including the youth center,
"and expect to support any lifestyle, _without_ resorting to falling back on your
gang-land ties?"

Tony's eyes glittered for a second. "Ms. Davenport, the Draconi Family came to
America as legitimate business people. We were poor, but we had the skills and
trades from the old country; wine making, cheese makers, bakers, butchers . . .
you name it, and I can guarantee a Draconi did it.

"Since then, there's been a few of the family that stuck it out being honest
business people, even to today," Tony continued. "So, I decided to go back to the
old ways . . . the real old ways. This center is just one of the few things I've
been working on for the past couple of years, and I've got other things that are
going to do so much more for this community, and for the city."

Adjusting her wire-frames, Andrea replied with one last question. "So, Tony
Dracon is no longer the man we once knew?"

"Let's just say that part of Tony Dracon doesn't exist anymore," Tony replied.
"From now on, this," he pointed to himself, "is the only Dracon you'll ever see."


Tony walked away from the reporter as she wrapped up her interview, sighing as
he shrugged deeper into his gray business suit. "Guess Old Dominic was right . . .
gonna take a lot of time before people will trust me as an honest man."

As he stepped through the doors of the center, he spied two familiar faces as
they made their way through the crush of kids to get to him. "Well, at least there's
two people I don't have to worry about," he said with a smile. "How you doin',
Jessie? David?"

David and Jessica DeGuy - looking a lot like the way Tony remembered their
mother was, in their matching jackets, pants, and boots - both grinned. "Hi, Uncle
Tony!" Jessica piped. "What's wrong, the press giving you the hairy eyeball?"

David poked his sister in the ribs. "You know Da doesn't like you talking like

"Hey! I never talk like that around him," Jessie countered.

Tony just laughed. "Heheh, now let's not get into a shouting match, okay?
Anyway, I'm glad the two of you could make it to the opening."

Jessie grinned and threw her arms around Tony in a big hug. "Aw, we wouldn't
have missed it for the world, Uncle Tony!"

"Sure," David chimed in. "Thanks to your building this place, now a lot of kids
have a safe place to play. Including us!"

Tony shook his head, giving David's head a rub. "Now, don't tell me you don't
have a lot of fun living up at the Aerie-West!?"

David shrugged, "Ah, it's okay, but it's good to see other kids once in a while."

"Besides, we don't like staying cooped up in the castle all the time," Jessie

"Well, then, I guess the two of you are in for a treat today," Tony said with a wider
laugh. "'Cause there's a lot to do down here and lots of new faces to share it with.
Care to join me?"

"Sure! Love to, Uncle Tony!" Jessie answered.

"Can't wait to get started!" David added.

"Well come on then, tiger! Sugar!" Tony took both of their hands and lead the way
into one of the main rooms, where the opening ceremonies were about to begin.


~ In the Park, Across the Street ~

"He's inside with the rest of the kids . . . looks like maybe twenty, thirty kids and
about four or five adults."

A crackle from the two-way echoed inside the black van, before a smooth voice
replaced it. "Any sign of the (snort!) Law hanging around?"

The man behind the wheel looked through the front windshield briefly. "I've only
seen one NYPD-blue in the past 10 minutes, and Santos told me that she's seen
only two or three in the past 12 hours before she had to head back in." He
smirked. "Sounds like the police think Dracon will bring in some hired muscle to
keep the other crime elements at bay."

"All the better for us. I've been putting up with a lot from your team leader as of
late," the voice continued, a touch of irritation in his tone. "This operation is at
best negligible at best, but, for the sake of striking a blow at a possible Gargoyle-
sympathizer he has my authority to continue. Just be certain that there are no
screw-ups this time!"

"Understood," the man replied. "We've sighted the two DeGuy kids inside. Any
special orders concerning them?"

A pause. "No. But, if they can be captured without risk then do so. We can always
use some leverage against the current Captain Maza and her friends in Xanatos'
organization. Just see to it that this operation does not fail. Understand?"

"Understood, Mr. Castaway. Adder out." Bryce turned to face the man in the
passenger seat. "Get the two teams ready. We hit Dracon's place in one minute."

"Gotcha," the man replied as pulled on a midnight-blue hood as he left the van.

"You ready for this? Mr. Castaway wasn't kidding, y'know," Bryce said, turning to
face the man in the back of the van. "Louse this up, and you'll be better off not
coming back to headquarters!"

The man in the back snarled, "Just tell your boys to go in and stir things up! Once
we see what Dracon's packin', I'll come in and show him a new meaning to the
term 'payback's a batch of trouble'! I owe him for stoppin' me three years ago
from takin' some much needed revenge, and tonight I aim to collect!" There was
the sound of a heavy caliber weapon being cocked, as something heavy sealed
itself with a hiss of pneumatics. "And if there's one thing Franklin Brooks wants
more than anything, is to collect . . . with interest!"


Inside the lobby, Dracon was having a hard time keeping a straight face. "Hey
Glasses!? You need a hand?"

Tony's one time right hand man was caught in a situation that he normally
wouldn't have expected: having two toddlers clinging to him on each leg, while
they chattered away at the top of their lungs. Trying to walk and pry them loose at
the same time was trying even Glasses' usual calm demeanor.

"Geez, Tone! You could have warned me what you were gonna be doing down

Tony and Jessie were at the receptionist's desk - him leaning on it and her sitting
there - shaking their heads at the dusky man. "Didn't you once tell me you could
handle any kind of trouble that came along?"

"Police, informants, and major trouble, yes! But, not a bunch of kids," Glasses
grumped, finally getting one of the kids loose enough to where he could walk a
little easier. "Isn't it time they took a nap?"

Laughing, Jessica hopped off to give Glasses a hand. "C'mon, lil' bit! Why don't
you come over to the nursery with me?" Soon enough, with both kids in hand, she
led them over to the junior nursery to play with other younger kids.

Glasses took a moment to straighten his slacks and coat. "Man . . . sometimes I
wonder if you knew what you were getting into when you decided to go straight,

Tony shrugged. "Plenty, Glasses. The neighborhood is finally getting some
positive stuff coming back in, and I'm living with a little more peace of mind these

Glasses looked around at the center and all the activity as the few volunteers that
were manning it went about their tasks, helping the kids and seeing that they
were entertained. "Well, at least you're still in charge of things."

"Someone's got to be the boss," Tony replied. "Speaking of which, you happy
running the business for now?"

Smirking, Glasses answered, "Like you said, someone has to be in charge. But,
it's not gonna last. Three of your cousins are already harping to Old Man Draconi
about taking your place."

Sighing, Tony grimaced, "Let me guess . . . Michael, Gio, and Lucky?"

Nodding once, Glasses leaned heavily on the desk. "Michael came to town about
a year ago, and once he started talking to the Old Man, Gio and Lucky swooped
in like greased lighting, and since then, they've been hovering around like a pack
of jackals!"

"Trouble is . . . out of all of them, Gio's the only one that could pull off taking my
place. He's been running a small gang back in the old country, and doing well,"
Tony replied. "Small operation. Not a lot of attention from the locals about it . . .
yeah, he could do it. Lucky just doesn't have the head for numbers, and Michael
isn't ruthless enough!"

Glasses looked at Tony in surprise. "How come you know so much about the
business since you've been out?"

Tony smirked. "I got good connections, Glasses. Besides, Nana keeps me
informed on the family . . . ever since we lost Vito she's become more and more
concerned for the "welfare" of  the younger generation."

"Sounds like a tough old girl."

Tony chuckled. "Glasses, you don't know the half of it! Nana could condemn you
to all the hosts of Hell in one second, then beg for your eternal forgiveness the
next. And yet, she's the one thing that's keep the Dracons going all these years."

Glasses snorted. "Yeah . . . guess she's done a good job of it, since they let you
go without so much as a shot for breaking from the family business."

"That's something all together different, Glasses . . ."

Just then, David came by with a frown. "Tony? Something's not right."

Both men looked at each other, then at the ten-year old with questioning looks.
"What do you mean, tiger?" Tony asked.

"I dunno . . . I just go this feeling something bad is gonna happen!"

Before Tony or Glasses could respond, the front doors to the center slammed
inward with a CRASH of shattered glass, as several men and women in midnight-
blue with hoods and hammers crowded in.

"Trash the place," the leader in front said, "and look for those two kids! Leave the
rest alone, but give the adults what for!"

The trio at the desk all snapped to alertness. "Quarrymen?!? What the devil are
they doing here!?" Glasses asked.

"I don't think they want to sign up for the swim program!" Tony grabbed David and
pulled him behind him.

Two of the hooded thugs spied them just a moment later. "There's the big boy

"Then let's get him!" the second one said. They both came after Tony, not even
bothering to charge their oversized sledgehammers as the swung in for the first

Tony counted on them being over zealous, letting one pass by to bury his weapon
into the wood panels of the desk. He cocked his fist and planted it squarely on the
thug's jaw, following up with knee lift that sent him soaring across the floor.

Glasses didn't wait for the second one to come at him. Instead, he kicked the
hammer out of his hands, then threw a two-and-one combination that left a spray
of teeth in the wake of his opponent's quick trip to dreamland.

"You okay, Tone!?" he asked.

"Fine!" Tony replied with a snarl, quickly looking around. All over, the Quarrymen
were chasing off the kids, while laying to with their hammers into anything that
was and wasn't nailed down. In moments, walls were filled with holes, tables and
chairs were shattered plastic and metal, and doors were ripped off of their hinges.

The few adults that were there suddenly found themselves under attack, and
while the one thought was to run away from the vigilante bigots, several turned
and tried to stop them from harming the children or the rest of the center.

Tony grabbed David and jerked his head at Glasses. "C'mon! These jokers are
playin' hard ball!" He started off in the direction of the nursery. "And I'm sure
they'll be after the kids next!" Especially a certain pair, he thought, casting a
worried glance at David.

Glasses scrambled to keep up with the other two. "Most of the kids are split city!
And we should be doing the same!"

"Think, man! There's a bunch of younger ones in the nursery," Tony snapped. "If
they get their mitts on them..." Tony stopped talking and started moving faster.


~ The Street Outside ~

"Well, at least we're back at Central Park," Matt said, looking out of his window.
Elisa had been trying to find the black Quarryman van, and Matt had decided that
he'd better stick with her until they either found it, or they gave up.

"It doesn't matter now," Elisa replied. "We've really lost them! They could be
anywhere now!"

"Well, maybe we'd better get back to Xanatos," Matt said firmly. "Whoever was
driving that van can be picked up later by the police. You need to get back into
your body before something happens to this car."

Elisa's voice sighed. "Yeah . . . perhaps you're right . . . Goliath and the others
must be worried sick about me." The car made a slow turn, heading back towards
the distant tower. They got as far the next intersection, when something made the
car jerk to a sudden stop, throwing Matt nearly through the front windshield.


"Matt! Look! In front of that alleyway!"

Matt righted himself, growling as he rubbed the side of his face. Staring into the
alley, he had to take a second look as he gasped, "The van!" His next words were
cut off, when he saw something stand up behind it . . . something that
immediately made his sore face a thing forgotten.

"Elisa, I think the Quarrymen are about to do some major renovation around

"What do you mean?" There was a moment of silence, then Elisa's voice dropped
into a shocked whisper. "Oh, damn . . . Matt, get out!"


The driver's side door opened up, and Elisa's voice rose a few octaves. "No time
to explain! Get out and call for back-up! I'm going in!" When Matt still didn't move,
the car suddenly bolted forward, surging into fast turn that pitched the un-
expecting detective out onto the street.

"HEY-OUCH!" Matt tumbled for a few feet, coming to his hands and knees as he
watched the Fairlane suddenly peel out. "Elisa!? What do you thing you're
DOING?!?" He got up stiffly, deciding that enough was enough as he pulled out a
small transceiver. "I should have done this when she first showed up! Bluestone
to Dispatch! We've got Quarryman activity at . . . ah, geez, at the Draconi Youth
Center! Send back up and put my signal through to the Xanatos Building!
Possible threat to the Chief of Security's children . . ." He trailed off as he broke
into a run, chasing after his displaced partner.


Inside the center, Dracon and Glasses had finally gotten to the nursery on the
second floor, and soon found two of the volunteers to take the toddlers and other
kids inside to a safe exit down one of the fire escapes, disabling it after them so
no one could follow them - especially the Quarrymen, who were still running amok
throughout the building as they continued their rampage.

David was reunited with his sister, and together they and the two adults tried to
find their own way out. Glasses did a little scouting, but he came back after a
minute with bad news.

"The Q-men have all the main exits blocked off, and they're making their way
upstairs," he reported. "Isn't there any other way out of here?"

"What about the roof? We could get to another building from there," Jessica

Tony shook his head briefly," We could - me and Glasses - but you kids might not
make the jump!" He frowned then brightened. "There's the janitor's egress,
leading down to the gym!"

"Sounds good to me, Uncle Tony," Jessica said, shooting a worried look down the
hall, where the sounds of carnage were coming closer.

"We'd better get going then! It's down this way!" With that, Tony lead the rest
down to where a door marked "STAFF ONLY" was. He wasted no time, leaning
back to plant a kick at the center of the door. It didn't budge at first.

"C'mon, Glasses!" Tony snarled. With that, both me kicked out, snapping the
door off its hinges. The sound of it hitting the wall behind echoed down the

"Hey! I think there's more people up there!" a voice shouted from down the way,
followed by the approach of footsteps.

"Yike!" David said.

"That doesn't sound good!" Glasses quipped.

Tony shoved Jessie through the open doorway. "Come on! Soon as we're in the
egress, it's a one way trip down!" They all crowded into the room, where a small
door made of metal stood midway down the wall. "Glasses, get that door open
and go down first! It's a short three steps, then an incline with hand grips! It opens
up in the Electrician's Closet in the gym!"

"Funny way to build it!"

"It was done so the Janitor could get down to the gym in a hurry," Tony explained.
"Jessie, you and David get going behind Glasses. I'll be right behind you!"

Glasses opened the door, and looked at Tony quickly before he turned to face the
sounds of booted feet in the hall. "Don't do anything stupid, Tone!"

Tony cracked a smile. "Trust me! Get the kids down the shaft!"

"Right. Come on, kids!" With that, Glasses swung his body into the shaft, followed
by David and Jessie.

Tony turned, spying a open chest of tools on the floor next to the near wall. He
only had a few seconds to grab one, looking around for another object, before two
men in Quarryman gear materialized in front of the doorway.

"Hey! We found the Big D himself!" one of the men chuckled, cockily hefting his
weapon from one hand to the other. "Where'd you think you were gonna go,
Dracon? You ain't got your gargoyle friends to help you now!"

Tony laughed. "Who said I have to have 'gargoyles' helping me? I can take care
of my own. Especially against trash like you!" His face darkened. "I'll give you
boys one chance to get out of my place."

"Or what, Dracon?! You ain't with the mob any more!"

"Ahh, let's quit talkin' and trash this guy!" the second one said, cocking his

"Now, that's something . . . coming from garbage like you!" Tony retorted.
Suddenly, he swung the claw hammer he had hidden behind him, smashing it into
a valve on one of the pipes overhead. The metal split, filling the room instantly
with steam.

"Get back!" the one Quarryman shouted, fearing the steam was something
altogether unpleasant. In that instant, Tony dropped the hammer and slipped
through the metal door, slamming it shut behind him.

"Damnit! He's getting away!" the other one shouted, coughing a bit.

"Not if Frank has anything to say about it!" The first Quarryman snapped a walkie-
talkie on, and raised it to his mouth. "Forgemaster! The D-boy's gone deeper
inside, heading down to the first floor! Go get 'im, boss!"


~ The Gym ~

The door to the Electrician's Closet opened slowly, allowing Glasses to peek out.
"Looks clear, Tone."

"Then let's not press our luck," Tony said, as both him and his former right hand
man stepped out, taking in the empty gym and the rows of stacked, folded
bleachers. "C'mon kids! We can get out the back and get to the main street, the
next over and get some help!"

"Let's go then," David said, "before those goons find me and Jessie!"

With that, the foursome started across the far-side of the gym and headed for the
doors on the far side. Just then, something HUGE slammed into the far wall of
the gym. It smashed though brick, plaster, and more as the wall just crumbled
under the onslaught.

"Get back!" Tony shouted, shoving Jessie behind one of the collapsed bleachers,
as Glasses followed suit with David.

While the dust was clearing, a laughing voice - heavily modulated - rang out, "I

Tony and Glasses peeked around the sides of the bleacher stack. "Geez, Louise!
What in frigg is that?!?" Tony's former button man asked.

"Looks like some sort of battle armor!" Tony hissed. It was a large, human-
shaped machine, modeled after the standard heavy suit the Quarrymen used as
of late, but with enormous arms that ended in a double-barreled weapon of some

OVERDUE . . . PAYBACK!" With that, one of the arms came up, raking a
fusillade of large caliber rounds across the opposite side of the gym. The slugs
chewed up more brick and plaster, showering the foursome with more debris and

"Damnit! Sounds like this guy has a mad on for the kid here!" Glasses cursed.

Tony looked grimly at Jessica, who was nearly catatonic with fear. "This sicko
tried to kidnap her and her brother some years back, then he tried to kill her in the
park shortly thereafter," Tony explained, flinching as another round of firepower
caromed around the room. "We got to get her and her brother out of here!"
Groaning, Tony smacked the floor beside him. "Man, I wish I still had my heat!"

Glasses looked apologetic, reaching into his coat to pull out a pair of weapons;
high-powered laser pistols.

"Geex, man! Why are you still packin'?" Tony asked?

"Tone, I promised you I'd come help you," Glasses said, flipping one of the pistols
around to offer it, grip first, to his former boss, "but you seem to forget just what
the streets are like these days!"

David was trying to soothe his sister as Brooks fired once more, when he glanced
at the pistols absently. "Lockerby Mk-II's . . . High-mid range particle throwers
with a Class-2 laser for guidance!"

Glasses flipped the safety on his piece, giving David a strange look. "Say what?"

"His dad works for the guy that owns the company that makes these," Tony
explained with a shrug. "Go figure! You ready for this?"

"What's the plan, Tone?"

"Simple," he said, getting David's attention. "You get your sister and run to that
door," he said, pointing to a set of exit doors, "and me and Glasses will cover you.

David nodded grimly. "I gotcha!"

Glasses sighed. "Should have never left the family business, Tone!"

"Just like the old days, Glasses," Tony smirked. "Ready?" Glasses nodded in the
affirmative. "David, GO!" With that, Tony and Glasses whipped up, taking aim at
the midnight-blue armor. "HEY, TINWOODSMAN! Time to send you back to
OZ!!!" With that, both men squeezed their triggers, firing a twin stream of rapid
firing particle bolts.

At the same instant, David grabbed Jessica and dragged her to her feet and
pulled her at a stumbling run towards the doors. "C'mon! Let's get out of here!"

"Wait! Uncle Tony!?!?" Jessie cried out, looking back as Tony and Glasses
continued to fire at Brooks. Their shots were striking the armor - as big as it was,
they couldn't miss - but they weren't making enough damage to do any good.

"HAHAHAH! IDIOTS!!!" With that, Brooks shifted his aim, clawing the wooden
floor with his twin cannons. Forced to dive out of the path of destruction, Tony
and Glasses tried to get clear, but they were both caught by flying debris as the
high-powered rounds turned the bleachers into scrap metal.

Seeing this, the twins doubled their efforts to get to the doors, but Jessica tripped
just yards from their goal, forcing David to have to turn back to help.

"Hurry! He'll get us if we don't get out of here!" David shouted.

"I can't! I hurt something!" Jessie cried, reaching for her foot.

At that moment, Brooks turned and spied them, his weapons coming up to the

Both twins looked back, seeing nothing but the four smoking mouths of his
weapons. For a second, they both wondered if this was going to hurt . . .


. . . Just as something cannon-balled through the wall, rocketing through on the
snarl of a powerful engine, and a flash of red and white! It stopped right in front of
the twins with a SCREEECH!, as the rogue Quarryman thumbed his fire buttons.

"BOM-B-BOM-BOM-BOM-B-BOM!!!" The cannons barked, spitting rivers of lead,
but not one slug reached the twins. Instead, they met the reinforced metal sides
of a familiar Fairlane, ricocheting off as if they were hitting six-inch pig iron.

Shocked, David and Jessie looked up, wondering if they were dreaming. A voice
shouted to them, and they knew then that it was no dream.

"Kids! Get in, quick! We're getting OUT OF HERE!!"

David paused for a split second. "Mom!?" He wasted no time after that, pulling his
sister towards the car, just as the passenger door flew open, allowing them to get
inside. Once they were in, the door slammed shut, and the accelerator roared as
the wheels screamed against the remaining hardwood. In a heartbeat, it raced
towards the doors, ramming them aside like cardboard as it raced off into the

Brooks shouted in rage, "NO!!! I WON'T BE CHEATED, NOT THIS TIME!!!" His
suit thrusters kicked in, and the Quarry-armor rocketed up to the roof, bullying
through and into the night sky where it paused, then took off after the fleeing

Before the smoke that marked his exit was even dissipating, Tony tried to crawl
free of the remains of the bleachers that half-buried him. "*COUGH!* Glasses?!
You still with me?!?"

After a moment, his friend replied, "Y-Yeah . . . just barely! What happened t-to
the kids?"

"Don' know! Last thing I saw was that reject from a Japanese robot show using us
for target practice!"

A moment later, someone slammed in the main doors to the gym. Both men
turned to see two members of the NYPD, each wearing riot gear, flanking the
doorway with the trench-coated figure of Lt. Bluestone.

"Dracon! What happened in here!?"

"What do you think, Bluestone?! You miss the renegade boys in blue out

Matt walked closer, the two police a step behind him. "We got some of the
Quarrymen, Dracon, but I want to know what happened in here?!  And where are
David and Jessica DeGuy? I got . . . a source that told me they were here today!"

"They were," Tony retorted, "but . . . now I don't know where!"

Matt glared at him. "You'd better know, Tony! Capt. DeGuy and her husband
aren't going to be too pleased if their kids get hurt or kidnapped again!"

"Well, unless the NYPD is suddenly against getting help from an honest citizen,
we'd better go look for her, right?" Both men looked at each other. Both showed
concern for the kids, but while Tony just wanted to find them safe, Matt still had a
nagging sense that Dracon wasn't as 'honest' as he claimed to be."

"Fine, Tony!" Matt said with a sigh. "Come on and see if we can get to the bottom
of this."


Elsewhere, David and Jessica were trying to come to grips with a sudden,
unexpected change to their world.

When they both recovered enough from the car's speedy exit from the building,
they found themselves inside what they thought was a driver-less vehicle.

"Where'd mom go?" Jessie asked her brother.

"I dunno, sis," David replied dazedly. "I thought I heard her, too."

"Kids . . . you did." Elisa's voice said gently. "I . . . I don't know how to tell you this,
but . . . just bear with me, and I'll explain. Sweetie, I . . . I'm in the car."

David looked around once more. "Mom? What's going on? Where are you?"

"Momma? How did this happen?" Jessica asked, interrupting David with her timid

Before Elisa could respond, something exploded against the road outside,
sending chunks of roadway showering up into the air. The Fairlane jerked to the
side, avoiding the sudden shower as Elisa's mind guided it into the clear.

"What was that!?" Jessie cried out.

"I'm not sure, but I'm not sticking around to find out!" Elisa replied. "Hold on, kids!
We're getting back to the castle, where it's safe!" So warned, the kids didn't ask
any more questions. They sat down and quickly strapped a set of seat belts
around themselves.

As Elisa pulled the car into a sharp turn, another volley of explosions chewed up
the street where she had just been. David happened to glance out the side
window, spying the huge form of the pursuing Quarryman armor.


"I see him now, honey! He must have been flying in my blind spot," Elisa said
curtly. The huge engine growled as the accelerator was floored. "Hold on!"


~ The Aerie Building ~

Xanatos and Goliath were both looking worried.

"I don't see where it could have gone," Xanatos was saying, still not believing the
report from the two guards, who had seen the Fairlane drive off.

"From what I understand about this vehicle, Alex had a built in set of commands,
telling it what to do in certain situations," Goliath said, remembering all that Alex
had told him about his surprise for Elisa just a couple hours ago.  "Perhaps
something triggered one of those commands?"

"It's possible, but what? The guards reported it was inactive! No commands were
given, and Alex told me that it had no power thanks to the power spike today."
Xanatos sat down at his desk, looking absently at his Security Chief. "And we still
don't know where it has gone to?"

Just then, Owen and Alex entered the office. "Mr. Xanatos, I just heard on the
television that a group of Quarrymen are attacking Anthony Dracon's  new youth

Goliath and Xanatos looked at the blonde majordomo with puzzled expressions.

"Goliath, I heard David and Jessica were going down there!" Alex added.

The shocked look that the millionaire and the changeling gargoyle had were
immediately followed by Goliath's yanking out a comm-link. "Goliath to Ops!
Scramble a security detachment for deployment!"

"Wait, Goliath! We shouldn't send in XSF members out like this," Owen advised.

Goliath's growl wasn't as impressive in his human form, but it could still intimidate
when needed. Even against the usually unflappable Owen. "Are you saying I
should ignore the fact my children are in danger!?"

"No, but we have to consider the police this time! Last time you deployed was to
help Elisa go after Dracon, and that turned out to be a false alarm. Before that,
we had to rescue Det. Hershey and Brooklyn from the Quarrymen, but the
Commissioner raked the both of us over the coals for that." He placed a hand on
Goliath's arm. "Goliath, I can't have you using XSF teams as your personal army
against the Quarrymen or any other criminal element in the city! We'd risk too
much by breaking that kind of law!"

For one moment, Goliath looked as close as he ever was to repeating that
incident where he nearly dropped Xanatos off the side of the castle all those
years ago. The anger was barely contained behind his eyes, and in the way his
hands clenched into fists at his side. Eventually, he let go and sighed. "You're
right, Xanatos. But we can't leave my children out there defenseless."

"We won't," Xanatos replied. "But I don't see how we can help them?"

Suddenly, Owen glanced down at something that was beeping at Alex's side.
"Alexander, what is that?"

Alex looked startled, but a sudden flash of insight flickered over his face as he
yanked the device up to eye level. "The tracer! Elisa's car!"

"What about it?" Goliath asked, the sudden distraction pulling him away from the
thoughts of his children.

"No, I put a tracer on Elisa's car," Alex said excitedly, "and according to this, it's
come back into range of the master control computer here in the castle!" Before
any of the adults could stop him, he darted over to his father's desk, flipping open
the small terminal console that was built into it as he tried to activate the access
commands. "The link-up transceiver is still functional . . . accessing . . . accessing
. . . got it! I can bring it back on remote!"

"Alex, this isn't the time-." His father started to say, just before Alex sat up with
expression of utter shock.

"Something's . . . not right here," the boy said, tapping a command into the

Owen smoothly moved to his side. "What it is, Alexander?"

"Something . . . or someone is driving the car. And at a high rate of speed," Alex
reported. He tried another sequence, his look of shock turning into utter worry. "I .
. . I can't access any of the command codes! Something's locked all access out
of the main core!"

"Try using the secondary path-commands," Owen said evenly, his presence
meant to calm his pupil.

Both Goliath and Xanatos looked at each other, then at the two behind the desk.
"Alexander, what is going on? Has someone taken over Elisa's car?"

"It looks that way. But, I am not sure everything is as it seems," Owen said, a
puzzled look in his eyes. "Alexander, try accessing the interior sensors . . . see if
we can see who is driving the vehicle."

Alex complied. "I'll route the signal to the main display in here," he said, turning to
watch as a thirty inch viewscreen appeared from the bookcase behind them. He
looked back to tap a few more keys. "Signal coming up . . . now."

As one, everyone in the office turned to watch the screen. And Goliath nearly
vaulted over the desk when he saw . . .


"Indeed," Owen said flatly.

"Wh-what's Jessie doing in the car? She's not able to drive a car?!?" Alex asked,
just as the view panned over to reveal the other presence in the car.

"That's David! What is the meaning of this?!" Goliath snarled.

"I suggest we find out, right now," Xanatos said firmly. Fixing Alex with a
commanding look, he said, "See if we can patch into the car's radio, son. This
should prove to be fascinating."


The Fairlane practically flew over a rising hill, hitting the street below with a
shower of sparks, the Quarryman armor in hot pursuit just a few yards behind it.

"OW!" Jessica cried, her teeth rattling from the impact.

"Sorry, Sweetie," Elisa's voice apologized, just as the car swerved to avoid
another fusillade of explosive shells. "We're not that far from the Aerie!"

"Mom, I don't think we, er, you can outrun that flight-suit," David said, worry in
each syllable of his words. "We have to ditch him!"

"I'm trying, but I don't know what I can do," she admitted. "I'm strictly grounded

Just then, something on the dash chirped.

"What was that?" David asked.

"I . . . think it's a . . . a RADIO! Perfect! Someone at the Aerie must be trying to
contact us!" Elisa's voice crowed. "I should have known Alex would have some
sort of radio in this thing. David, use it to call for help!"

The elder twin gratefully reached for the radio toggle, snapping it to just as the
Fairlane had to swerve to avoid a parked car - which was rendered into flaming
scrap as the Quarry-armor passed over - but, before he could look for a
microphone or transmitter, another voice filled the car.

"David? Jessie? Can you hear me??"

"Alex?!?" David asked, quickly regaining his senses as he called into the dash,
"We read you! We need help!"

"Don't worry," Alex replied quickly, "we're working on it! But, we can't access the
remote control unit to bring the car in! Is something interfering with the car's

Jessica shot the radio a rueful look. "You, ah, could say that! Mom's controlling
the car!"

There was a pause. "Elisa's doing what?"

"It's me Alex," Elisa's voice said, groaning as she had to weave around a series of
pylons as they passed under a bridge. "Somehow you transferred me into the
car's computer core with that save spell! But that's not important now! We've got
a Quarryman in powered armor chasing us, and I'm running out of steam and
options here!"

Alex's voice was suddenly replaced by that of Xanatos. "Elisa . . . listen, you have
to get back to the Aerie right now! Owen and Alex will bring you in, and the
castle's defenses will take care of your . . . friend. Understand?"

Elisa's voice came back with a bit of heat. "How can they do that!? The castle's
nearly 250 stories UP!"

"Just trust us," Xanatos replied. "Owen will make sure you get here safe and
sound. Goliath and I are going to prepare a welcome for our Quarryman friend!"

The twins looked at each other, then strapped themselves in tighter.

"Okay, but I hope the castle's defenses can reach down that far!" Elisa's voice

Owen came on immediately. "Elisa . . . since you are part of the car's computer,
you must have some sense of it's command systems. In doing so, you should be
able to locate the secondary motive systems."

"It's located next to the main drive subroutines, Elisa," Alex added helpfully.

Elisa fell silent, but from where Jessica and David were seated, they could see
the readout on the screen flash with a series of codes, commands, and finally a
schematic of the Fairlane. A series of objects were highlighted, just as Elisa said
excitedly. "I found them! What now?"

"Initiate the secondary motive systems," Owen said calmly, "but be prepared for a
sudden change of direction. Once airborne, come straight for the castle."

"Airborne?!? Owen, you'd better not be making a joke!" Elisa snapped, just as
more explosives erupted around her. The Quarry-armor was still with her, but
having to watch out for the hazards of flying in a urban area. "Then again, what
have I got to lose? Hang on, kids!"

With that, something underneath the car shifted, making a "THUMP-CLANK!"
sound. For a moment the car seemed to rise up slightly, then settle back. At the
same time, the twins noticed that the ride was somewhat smoother . . until
another barrage made the car spin out.

"YAAAAAAH!" they cried.

"HaaANG ON!" Elisa shouted, as her presence wrestled with the sudden change
in the car's controls. No longer was she having to deal with left and right. Now, up
and down seemed more paramount. With a short prayer, she forced the controls
to respond . . .


From behind, Brooks nearly avoided colliding with a hotel sign, just as he fired off
the broadside that send the Fairlane into a tight spin. He righted himself, sweating
as he grinned in triumph.

But, instead of the expected sound of colliding metal, he looked on in shock as
the Fairlane suddenly pointed its nose to the sky and FLEW away from the
street below!

"What in the Hell?!?" He gripped his controls all the more tightly, angling away
from the street himself. "Yer not gettin' away from me . . . not when I'm THIS
close!" The roar of his jets deepened as he lit off after the fleeing car, determined
to not be robbed of his revenge.


~ Approaching Castle Wyvern ~

If it had been any other time, David and Jessica would have been thrilled to be in
a hovercar. But, even though the Fairlane was streaking towards the tower of the
Aerie Building, it was still being pursued by the enraged Quarryman.

"Mom? Are you doing okay?" he asked the disembodied voice of his mother.

The car dipped slightly, but Elisa replied. "I'm . . . getting the hang of it! Look! The
castle's just ahead!"

"Are we gonna make it, Momma?" Jessica asked fearfully. "That Quarryman's still
behind us!"

Elisa's voice turned to steel. "We're going to make it, Jessica. I promise!"

Owen's voice returned on the radio. "Elisa, head directly for the castle, over the
far watchtower," he said, a slight edge of anxiety in his usually placid voice. "Your
. . . husband and Xanatos have a proper welcome in store for your attacker, but
be prepared for anything."

"Right, Owen," Elisa replied. The Fairlane's engine climbed another notch in pitch
as it rocketed higher into the sky.

The Quarry-armor tried to pull in closer, just seconds before it popped open two
hidden compartments and let two short-range missiles fly.

Jessica saw the incoming strikers. "MOM!!! We're gonna get HIT!"

There was a short second before the two missiles exploded within scant feet of
the airborne car, filling the afternoon sky with a twin fireball of destruction. The car
sailed through it, but in the process it didn't escape unscathed, as Elisa's voice
rang out in agony. The rear window was shattered completely, littering the back
seat with glass fragments, and the entire rear quarter of the chassis was pitted
and scarred from shrapnel and gouges.

David and Jessica had ducked before impact, and were both looking at the dash
panel with bitter fear in their hearts. "Mom!? Are you all right???"

"I'm . . . fine . . . just a little shaken up," Elisa reported. "Hold on, we're going for
broke!" With that, the entire car shuddered as the damage was circumvented as
best that Elisa's presence could, before the engine snarled to life with a sudden
burst of power.

The Fairlane acted like someone hand drop-kicked it into orbit, shooting off into
the sky like a starship with the Quarryman having to pull out all the stops to keep
up. Together, the hunter and prey soared into the clouds, eventually emerging
just below the imposing edifice that was Wyvern Castle.

"Owen! We've been hit! Tell Xanatos he'd better have his insurance up," Elisa
shouted, "'cause I don't think I can stay up for much longer!" When no reply was
given, she swore, "Perfect!"

"We're almost at the castle, Momma!" Jessica cried.

"And that armor's right with us," David added.

"We'll, it's now or never, Xanatos! Hold on, kids! We're going in!" Elisa stated
grimly, pumping as much power as she though she could get the car to give as
they crested the walls . . .


In the courtyard below, Xanatos and Goliath looked up at the parapets, watching
for any sign of the approaching car.

"They should have been here by now! What has happened to them?" Goliath

Xanatos replied by contacting his assistant. "Owen? What's happened to . . .
Elisa and the twins?"

"Sir, we've lost contact with them. The last thing we saw was the car being fired
on by the attacker," Owen replied.

Xanatos grimaced, knowing this would upset Goliath more than ever, but he
needn't have worried.

"There! Here they come!" Goliath bellowed, pointing as the car soared over the
wall. Watching, he could see the effects of the most recent attack from the

Xanatos called into his mike, "We have them! Trauma team stand by!"

"Alpha Team, ready weapons!" Goliath growled. Behind him, a squad of six XSF
officers lifted a heavy particle cannon each to their shoulders, snapping the
arming switch home and filling the air of the courtyard with a ascending whine.

The car didn't clear nearly a third of the courtyard when the dark shape of the
Quarry armor sailed into view, it's rockets howling as it tried to close with the
crippled car.

"Take aim . . . !" Goliath ordered. Six safeties snapped closed . . .


As Brooks soared in over the gray stone walls of the castle, his mind never once
wondered why the castle's defenses never fired once. So intent was his mind on
finishing off the car, thus killing Jessica and her brother, he cared about nothing

"Got you NOW, little girl! And your bastard brother too!" He flipped the arming
switches on his heavy cannon once more, swinging both of his armored arms
forward to thrust the ugly barrels at the Fairlane as it slowed down to settle into
the courtyard below.

It was then that Brooks noticed the six men with six very larger, very powerful
looking weapons resting on their shoulders . . .

Too late to pull up, or to even consider turning to fire on the obvious threat,
Brooks snapped off a message back to his leader's base, "I GOTCHA!!!". Even
as he jerked the firing studs, the cannons beginning to cycle several dozen
rounds of explosive 30mm shells, his view screen was filled with the sudden flash
of crimson light.


Six beams of particle energy lashed out at the Quarry-armor from below. Two cut
through the right arm at the shoulder like a knife through soft cheese, severing it
and exposing the insides to the sky. One punched through the left side shoulder,
spinning the armor around as the remaining three scored a triple line of molten
metal across its chest and around to it's thinly armored back.

"Again!" Goliath ordered.

Once more, the XSF men stroked their triggers, sending more beams out to hit
the armor in its backside. Without a lot of armor to protect it, the Quarryman
machine had all six skewer it from back to front. The beams erupted out the front,
arcing out into the sky. This time, the beams had cut through the power plant, and
into space where the pilot was. The effect was immediate and spectacular; the
machine seemed to pitch crazily, just a second before the plant exploded,
sending flames shooting out from the open, jagged holes.

"Everyone get down and clear! She's going to blow!" Xanatos said.

Not a moment after Goliath and the rest obeyed, the Quarry armor - along with
the mortal remains of Franklin Brooks - blew apart in another fiery explosion of
hot metal and other twisted materials.


In the aftermath, Elisa watched as the twins left the battered chassis of the
Fairlane, happy to see that they all had survived. Although she had no arms to
hug with, she felt warm as she saw their father sweep the two of them up into a
fierce hug.

"I'm glad this is all over," she said to herself.

Just then, Xanatos came over, looking hesitantly at the inside of the stricken car.
"Elisa? Are you, um, all right?"

"Just sore . . . and just a bit tired, if you can call it that," she replied.

"Well . . . I am glad to see . . . that you survived," the billionaire replied. "The good
thing is that you, ah, are safe."

"It was touch and go there for a while," Elisa's voice admitted with a sigh. "But,
now that it's all over, perhaps we can get on with the important thing now."

Xanatos arched on eyebrow at that statement. "What would that be?"

"Getting me back into my body, that's what! And I hope you kept it safe, Xanatos,
or else I'll run over your foot . . . and worse!" Elisa said, worried about the
hesitation she was suddenly hearing in her husband's employer's voice. "You . . .
did keep it safe, right!?"

"Ah, we did at that," Xanatos replied, as  Goliath and the twins approached. "But,
I'm . . . afraid there's been a complication."

Elisa's voice dropped two degrees of coldness. "What, do, you, MEAN?"

"I think he means," a voice replied, "that it's already occupied."

At that, the Fairlane's sensors faced outward, looking towards the source of the
voice . . . and the entity that was inside the car nearly shut down from shock at
the sight of . . .

"What?!?!? H-How can . . . can . . ."

"It's simple. I never left my body," Elisa Maza-DeGuy stated, looking very much
whole and very recovered from her ordeal.


~ Xanatos' Cybernetics Lab, Later ~

The entity that once thought of itself as Elisa Maza-DeGuy was in whatever
passed for a catatonic state - for a computer - as it rested in a special storage
unit on a lab worktable. Power had been provided for it, and a sensor array
allowed it to communicate with any of the techs that manned the lab, but it didn't
feel like talking to anyone . . . now that it seemed to see the truth.

But, what was that truth? It thought. I'm not Elisa . . . but why do I remember
everything that IS? My parents, the twins, Goliath, the clan! There has to be an

Just then, the doors to the lab swung open with a hiss, allowing Owen Burnett,
Alexander, and the real Elisa to enter.

Owen coughed lightly, and faced the storage unit. "I assume you are

The monitor unit flashed a few lights. "Oh, sure . . . whatever you can define
comfort is for a computer!"

"Listen," Elisa said in a half-apologetic manner, "I'm sorry this happened to me- I
mean, to you. I didn't expect this to happen."

"And certainly not me," Alex added.

"Well, I'm glad that clears your conscience," the entity snapped. "But, that does a
fat lot of good for me! I mean, what can I do?!? I'm a nobody, with memories of
someone else's life in my head, trapped in this tin box! Oh, sure, I was never
meant to happen.," she groused, "that's a load off of my mind!"

Elisa and Alex looked at each other, but it was Owen that spoke in reply.
"Actually, there is a lot we can do to ease your mind. The spell that Alexander
used was only meant to save the command codes that Elisa was trying to
program into the Fairlane, but the spell was cast hastily, and with the resulting
energy surge, it created an exact duplicate of the mind of Elisa."

"So, what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?"

"The point is," Elisa spoke up, "is that you're something new. A fully, self-aware
computerized mind. Something that only movies have been portraying."

"And, we are here to offer you a chance to become more that what you started
out to be, and what you may have previously perceived yourself to be," Owen

The entity seemed to mull this over. "And what would that be?"

"I was trying to give Elisa a nearly-automated car to help her with her police work,
and to give her reliable transportation," Alex explained. "And you could be just
that if you want."

"Wait! Let me get this straight! You want me to be Ms. Maza's cybernetic car, for
good!?" the entity asked incredulously.  "What for?!?"

"Because of several reasons; one, you can give Elisa some added protection
when she is pursuing dangerous criminals. With some additional enhancements,
you could perform that very well. Two, because you a copy of Elisa's mind and
personality, you should posses a strong sense of protection the city, and the
people from crime and danger," Alex stated.

"According to Lt. Bluestone and the twins, you were very protective of them when
they were threatened by the Quarrymen." Owen added flatly.

"Hmmm... you do have a point."

"Besides, you can choose your own identity now," Elisa added. "Sure, you may
have a lot of my memories, but who's to say you can't make your own now?"

"True . . . but what's the catch!?"

"No strings. We simply download you back into the Fairlane - which should be
repaired shortly - and give you a new lease on existence," Owen said. "Alexander
had the chassis constructed of newer, tougher materials that the original car,
which is why it absorbed more punishment than usual during the flight from the
Quarryman armor."

Elisa came closer. "Think of it, huh? You'd have a chance to do what we both
were born-er, created for; protecting others. And, truth be told, I'd like to have a
partner again."

The entity seemed to give an unseen smirk. "I remember . . . the day you made
Captain, Matt had to find another partner." There was a pause. "If I do or don't do
this, you won't pull the plug on me regardless?"

"Certainly not. Even if you refuse, we could find some use for you here in the lab,"
Owen offered.

That obviously didn't sit well with the entity. "Ugh, as what? An oversized
calculator???" Before the trio could reply, the entity said, "No way! I think I like it
better as a car!"

Alex and Elisa smiled. "Then you'll accept our offer?" he asked.

"Sure, kiddo . . . like I said, you don't pull the plug on me, and I think I can
stomach being a live-action KITT," the entity smirked. "Question is, since I'm not
Elisa, what should I call myself?"

Elisa gave a smirk of her own. "How about Kathleen? It's my middle name, but no
one ever calls me by that anymore."

Alex gave a mischievous smile. "We could call you KATT for short." He said,
stressing the second T.

Both Elisa and the entity looked at the boy and groaned. "You've been coaching
him, haven't you?" Elisa accused Owen.

The majordomo simply straightened his glasses, but a merry twinkle could be
seen in them.


~ The Parapets of Castle Wyvern, Sunset ~

As the gargoyles awoke, scattering their stony skins with their usual symphony of
roars and snarls, they were surprised to see Elisa behind them, waiting with an
expectant smile on her face.

"Hello, Elisa," Brooklyn said courteously before turning to help Hudson down from
his perch.

"Good evenin' lass," Hudson said, his blind eyes seeming to look for their human
clan member.

"Hi, guys! Have a good sleep?"

"As ever," Broadway said with a smile, joined by Angela and Lexington as they
stepped down. Behind them, Bronx and Deliah also made their way over.

"So, how was your day? And, where's Goliath and the twins?" Brooklyn asked, the
clan leader looking around for their clan mates.

"Oh, their taking the car for a spin," Elisa said with a mysterious grin. "After Alex
fixed it up as a Christmas present to me, we made a few new additions to it, and
the kids wanted to see them in action."

"Never thought I'd see the day you'd have improvements made to that old classic,
Elisa," Lex piped up.

"Especially since you never let anyone else touch it," Angela added.

Laughing, Elisa replied, "Well, you guys can tell me what you think of it in just a
minute. Goliath should be bringing it around any time now."

"How is he doing that?" Deliah asked, looking to where the main doors of the hall

"Yeah, it's not like he can just drive it through the castle!" Brooklyn said
skeptically. Just then, the sound of a big-block engine sounded behind them,
making the clan turn around to search out where the source was coming from.

Elisa smiled all the more. "Well, it's not coming through the castle . . . more like
over it!"

Just then, the unusual sight of the Fairlane - newly painted in red-and-white, with
its powerful hover systems purring - slid into view, giving all of the gargoyles that
could see the surprise of their lives. Behind the wheel, Goliath and the twins
waved to the clan as they hovered there.

"Jalapena!" Lex swore.

"Cool!" Brooklyn said in awe.

Before anyone could comment further, the sound of Elisa's voice sounded from
the car's external speakers, laughing at the gawking gargoyles below. "Take a
good look, boys and girls! Major League butt-kickin's back in town, and I'm the
one to provide it!" The engine growled as the accelerator hit the floor, turning the
snarl of the motor into a full-throated roar. "Hold on to your seats, kids! Make way
for Katt!!!" With that, the Fairlane bolted off over the parapets, making nearly
everyone get whiplash as they tried to follow it as it dashed off, the sounds of the
twins excited screams and Goliath's own bellow falling it its wake.

As one, the gargoyles turned to face Elisa, each one reflecting shock and
curiosity. "Elisa, just what has been going on here?!?" Brooklyn asked.

Elisa sighed and smiled. "C'mon, everyone. I'll tell you the whole story over



"Concrete and Steel",  from "Recycler" by ZZ-Top, appearing here without
permission or acknowledgment from same.