Out of Joint -- Part 1
Story Concept by Brian Dumlao and the TGS staff
Written by Tas Vince Burrfoot and Christi Smith Hayden

Previously on Gargoyles....

Angela: "Without a mind to direct the Gate, it will be forever lost in time!"
        "Future Tense"

Broadway: (frowning) "Are you still jealous of Angela and me? I thought you were over that."
Brooklyn: "Maybe just a little. I'm fine with it, really. Somewhere there's a mate for me, I just haven't found her yet."


 "Deflegrate muri tempi et intervallia!"
Goliath hurled the Phoenix Gate into its own vortex, and in doing so, sealed its fate for all time.

For all time.

Past, present and future were all one and the same to the magical talisman as it became entangled in the webs of time, suspended inside its own fiery orb. It was unwilling to be lost forever in time. Forgotten, perhaps, but never lost.  In some ways, the Gate could almost be considered a parasite; it depended on the thoughts of its user for guidance, an firm anchor in the maelstrom of time. In the absence of a mortal to focus its powers, it latched onto the strongest thoughts in Goliath's mind as his throw hurled the gate through its own fiery portal.
New York. Tall skyscrapers and monumental buildings. Wonderful and excellent, exquisite and delightful, New York. As the Gate was probing Goliath's thoughts,  it noticed something...an image...a gargoyle.....a focal point in time.

   * * * * *

Castle Wyvern
980 A.D. - Scotland

"C'mon, I know the perfect place!" the young gargoyle hatchling cried out in excitement to his larger companion.
"I don't know. Remember what Teacher said about those cliffs. They're dangerous," the other hatchling replied.
"Oh, don't be such a human! Hurry up! It'll be sunrise soon." The two young gargoyle hatchlings took off into the night sky of Scotland with a flurry of wings and feet. They were almost a comical contrast to one another. One was a chubby, little, bluish--nearly aquamarine gargoyle who always had a humorous attitude about anything and everything. His appetite was equally large. The other hatchling was a bit smaller with a brick red tint, a white shock of hair, and beak. But what he lacked in bulk he made up for with his agility and leanly muscled frame. Even though these two were very different, they had been good friends ever since they had hatched.
Now they headed towards some nearby cliffs where they usually played under the supervision of their elders. But as the adventurous hatchling had pronounced, "We have to become big gargoyles sometime!" The larger hatchling had reluctantly agreed even though they were clearly breaking the rules and could get into big trouble if caught. The punishment that all the adult gargoyles used when threatening hatchlings was, "Don't make me put you in the rookery again!" It was the place for little immature babies, not for adolescent gargoyles reaching adulthood....almost teen gargoyles that is.
The larger, blue gargoyle frowned. He didn't particularly want to be locked in the rookery just because his adventurous and sometimes foolhardy friend had decided to take a trip right before sunrise to some stupid cliffs. He mentally reminded himself to break his friend of that habit. Too late now...they were no more than twenty feet from the cliffs. He looked to the horizon and saw the tell-tale thin stabs of light.
"Uh... friend, we'd better get going," he said as he tapped the red gargoyle on the shoulder.
"You're right--let's hurry!" The adventurous hatchling was spurred on by his friend's comment and sailing in for a landing, his feet digging in  firmly on the hard rock slopes of one of the cliffs. The larger hatchling shook his head and landed beside his friend. All the hatchlings had gotten really good at landings, especially since the last two weeks. The flight training was in full swing since spring had arrived in all its glory.
A single clap of thunder cracked like a whip, especially eerie because there was not a cloud in the sky. The wayward young gargoyles shivered as the goosebumps ran up their spines to the tips of their wings.
"Wh-what was that?"  the bigger hatchling asked, looking up at the sky nervously. "Do you suppose the clever one is testing one of her new inventions again?"
"I don't think so," his rookery brother answered, a frown making his red beak seem even longer. "She's not allowed to blow things up anymore." He sniffed and followed the scent. "Look!" he exclaimed, pointing.
About ten feet away to the right from where they had just landed, the two hatchlings noticed a blackened and charred spot on the cliff face where lightning had struck. This was strange since lightning rarely hit rock, much less leaving a perfectly circular burn mark, growing lighter towards the center, glowing white hot. The blue hatchling immediately backed away from the spot sensing something wrong....terribly wrong. The red hatchling started cautiously towards the hole before his friend yanked him backwards and nearly pulled him off the ledge.
"Are you crazy? That thing's probably hot as an iron bar straight out of the forge! Don't touch it!" The blue gargoyle's brow ridges were twisted in fear.
His friend reassured him, "I wasn't going to touch it! I was just going to...to..." He paused for a second, thinking,  and the blue gargoyle pointed to the hole and started shouting.
"Look at that!"
"Look in the hole!" Both hatchlings looked into the hole and were shocked at what they saw. It was a little golden trinket slightly bigger than the palm of an adult gargoyle. They both stared in awe at it for several moments and the red hatchling reached over to pick it up. Just as his talons began to grasp the trinket, it began to engulf in flame. He instantly recoiled in fear and fell flat on his back. The object started to shriek and both young gargoyles covered their ears as the piercing sound grew louder and louder. There was a burst of light and flame, and the rookery brothers covered their eyes in fear.
They took their hands off of their eyes as they realized that the awful noise and terrifying sight had gone. They looked to where the little treasure had been just seconds before expecting to see some melted gold or charred metal. Instead there was nothing there: no burn marks, not even the charred spot was there anymore. Both hatchlings were thoroughly shaken up and simultaneously agreed to go home. Never again did those two hatchlings ever venture near that place......

   * * * * *

Midnight Forests
A forest near Castle Wyvern
990 A.D. - Scotland

Ever since he was a hatchling, he loved to ride horses. Riding a horse wasn't exactly forbidden to gargoyles, but it was a rare horse that would allow a gargoyle to ride it. He had always liked a particular horse whose name was Thunder. She was a lovely horse with lustrous jet black coat with a mane of white just like the gargoyle that rode her. They seemed to be made for each other; the horse with its shock of lightning white hair and the young gargoyle with his tall frame and hair the color of the moonlight on a hot midsummer's night. The young gargoyle would sometimes sneak away during the late hours just before dawn to ride the beautiful, majestic animal.
This particular night the young gargoyle was enjoying himself. He was especially happy thinking about the upcoming Solstice festival. The humans were planning an elaborate banquet with roast pheasant and all the trimmings--his favorite! Afterwards games would be played, music and dancing, and a troop of traveling players would be performing the latest dramas as seen at the royal court. The clan, of course, had their own customs and traditions, usually centered around the longest night of the year, and the year turning full circle. Time was a circle, the elders said, always returning to the beginning.
As the young gargoyle thought about good times, Thunder whinnied  nervously and tried to back up, stamping her forelegs. He was sure enough of his skills as a horseman that he didn't think she was reacting to anything he had done. The horse had never turned on him in his life. The young gargoyle looked ahead on the dirt path to see what the mare was upset about. There was nothing except a bit of mist burning off in the pre-morning light. The gargoyle reassuringly stroked Thunder and the horse seemed to calm down.
Suddenly a crack of thunder sounded, and lightning flashed right in front of horse and rider on the dirt path. Ironically, Thunder bolted at the sound she was named after and the gargoyle was thrown from his mount. The ground met his back with a loud *thump!*  The wind knocked out of him and his wits scattered about, the young gargoyle picked himself up and brushed himself off. Then he saw it again...that black and charred hole. It brought back memories...bad memories...things he didn't want to remember....
He wasn't sure he wanted to look but he did. There it was. Just as it had appeared before, the golden trinket lay in the middle of the road plain as the beak on his face. He started to back away, remembering the strange occurrence from his childhood. The red gargoyle couldn't explain why but something about the thing reeked of sorcery and that something to stay far, far away from. Just as the gargoyle jumped to his feet and started to sprint to the woods on all fours, the golden thing erupted in flame and disappeared once more with a shriek.

   * * * * *

Castle Wyvern
1994 - Scotland

"At last, Castle Wyvern!" David Xanatos took a long spell of the fresh springtime air. The birds were chirping their merry song and even the moss on statues seemed beautiful as silk. He couldn't wait to see the view from the top. The billionaire ran into the ancient and weather-worn castle, past the shattered beams, up a stairwell, and onto the very top of the highest tower.
Xanatos walked over to where the solitary stone gargoyle sat, his thoughtful gaze surveying his ancient kingdom. He was a majestic looking creature, especially when sunrise just began to hit his stone body, spotlighting his sharp angles in rose and purple tints. The stone gargoyle looked deep in thought with one hand under his chin, like Rodin's famous statue,  as he silently brooded over the centuries. The statue almost looked alive. No, that was just a legend....or was it? Xanatos brushed some of the ivy that curled and snaked around the sorrowful face.
"Magnificent." Xanatos heard the footsteps of his assistant clacking up the stairwell. "Make the offer now, Owen. This instant," was the reply to his assistant's unseen advances.  Xanatos turned to see Owen Burnett step off the stairwell. He looked neatly-trimmed as always with his navy business suit, horn-rimmed glasses, and short, blonde hair.
"May I say one last time, Mr. Xanatos," Owen looked into Xanatos's excited features and then finished, "that the costs of this venture will be astronomical."

Xanatos looked at his assistant Owen, raised an eyebrow, and replied, "Start hiring crews. I want to begin as soon as possible." Owen took a small notepad sized cell phone from his jacket pocket and dialed a number as Xanatos turned back to Goliath's placid face.
"It may prove difficult to hire the necessary manpower. This castle has a bad reputation and the locals consider it haunted," Owen's nonchalant voice continued.
Xanatos smiled. "You know the answer to that, Owen. 'Pay a man enough and he'll walk barefoot into hell.'"
Owen did not answer verbally, merely nodded as he did an about face and went down the ancient spiraling stone stairway to call Xanatos Enterprises. After Owen had left, Xanatos turned his attention to the stone gargoyle perched in front of him.
"If I remember right, your name is Goliath. Most interesting," Xanatos thought out loud. "I hope the legends are true," he replied to himself, brushing away some more of the ivy that was growing over the gargoyle's thousand year-old body. With a distant look in his eye he proceeded back down the stairwell.
If David Xanatos would have stayed just a bit longer on the upper tower of Castle Wyvern he would have heard the shriek of fire and the clink of metal on stone below on the parapets. Out of the flaming vortex came a small golden object. It plunked in front of a young gargoyle frozen in stone... the eternal one.... the Dancer.... And was gone again in a flash of fire and light.

   * * * * *

Castle Wyvern
1994 - Manhattan

Lightning flashed and thunder rolled across New York's dismal skyline. It was just before sunset and already the storm clouds had darkened the area above the Eyrie Building's newly-added castle. Rain started to fall, far out over the ocean. He pulled the lapels of his trench coat up around his neck against the coming storm.
"Don't disappoint me," he intoned to the gargoyles' backs.
As the sun finally fell beneath the horizon, cracks crept across the gargoyles' bodies--cracks that had been waiting to form for nearly ten centuries. With a crash of stone and stifling yawns, the Wyvern Clan awoke to an entirely new world. Lightning flashed and thunder boomed.
Xanatos stood completely in awe of the amazing creatures that had just broken a ten century long sleep on the top of his skyscraper. Unaware of the human, Goliath spread his wings when he saw the others who had been caught in the Magus's spell of sleep awake and glided to the lower parapet to greet them.
"You're awake! You're alive! We're together again!"
All of the other gargoyles chatted excitedly at first, but their cries of joy quickly turned to cries of confusion, amazement, and terror as they experienced all the sounds, sights, and smells of a twentieth century New York.
"Wha-? Where are we?" the old, battle-worn gargoyle was the first to speak. All of the clan gave muffled cries of astonishment. Even the gargoyle beast growled with nervousness in the presence of this strange, new world.
Xanatos hurried down the old stone stairwell and introduced himself to the gargoyles. He quickly showed them into the castle's interior and out of the approaching storm. But had the gargoyles stayed in the dreary New York rain, the joy of the moment would have been shattered by yet another ominous flash of lightning followed by a crash of thunder. A ball of fire flashed near Castle Wyvern, watching the gargoyle that it would be watching for eternity...

   * * * * *

Castle Wyvern
Present day Manhattan

They were drawing straws--again. Brooklyn hated the new procedure that Goliath had thought up from the start. It worked like this: all of the clan would pick straws that were colored red, green, and blue. The three that choose the straws that were the same color went on patrol together. Brooklyn groaned as he saw the unpromising red straw and the others drew simultaneously. Angela and Broadway also drew the same blasted crimson straw. Brooklyn silently cursed his luck. He absolutely ~hated~ to be stuck with those two. Seeing them together, the initial sweet attraction growing stronger into a deep, soul-binding love,  it made him frustrated, angry, and he couldn't do a thing about it except stay away from them as much as possible. And that would not work tonight.
He figured that he had worked the hardest at winning Angela's heart, not Broadway. But then again he had to remind himself of two things: Angela was not a thing to be won by him or anyone else, and that he would someday find a mate of his own.
"You three take Times Square," Goliath said before he took off with Hudson and Lex.  "There have been quite a few armed robberies there recently. I want you to especially careful, is that understood?" The three young warriors nodded in earnest and glided off into the night sky.
Broadway and Angela were already starting in with the cuddling, flying side-by-side, smiling and doing that sugary look at each other. Brooklyn nearly slapped his hand over his face in embarrassment. The last time he had to go out with them, Broadway had nearly flown into a building. It was bad enough humans were scared of gargoyles and now they would have to put up with this lovey-dovey behavior.
Brooklyn's train of thought was derailed by the sound of breaking glass and a muffled scream. Luckily, he didn't have to get Broadway and Angela's attention; they had already pinpointed the trouble spot and were already swooping down to an apartment complex. They landed on the rooftop and heard another somewhat muffled, but much louder, scream. Thick clouds of smoke and the acrid smell of burning paint were coming from a broken window only a few floors down. The three gargoyles swarmed down the fire escape and entered through an adjoining window.
A large man dressed in gray jeans and a black leather coat was threatening a terrified woman who had backed into a shadowy corner, the only light coming from a pile of broken canvases burning in the fireplace. "Where is it?" he demanded, taking a stub-nosed revolver from beneath his jacket.
Too frightened to speak, the woman shook her head, moaning wordlessly as tears streamed down her face. Her assailant cocked his pistol and took a step towards her.
Growling, Broadway and Brooklyn crashed into the room and leaped at the man. He let out a quick yell and with a stroke of pure luck, dodged  their attack and rolled to a standing position just beside the desk. Broadway fell into the cheap desk, flattening it, while Brooklyn altered his course a little and ricocheted off the wall, putting himself beneath the woman and her assailant . Broadway's tail snapped out like a bullwhip and slapped away the robber's gun. The man bolted for the door but Angela caught him within a few steps from escaping. He aimed a backhanded slap at her but learned the hard way about the fast reaction time of a female gargoyle. Knocked into unconsciousness, he slumped against the wall.
"Good save, Angela," Brooklyn commented as he helped Broadway up from the remnants of the shattered desk. "Nice tail work, bro. You okay?"
"Yeah," the big gargoyle said. "They just don't make furniture like they used to."
Angela nudged the robber with her foot. "Shall we call it in or drop him off with Matt?
"Hmmm..., call it in, I think," Brooklyn said, picking up the phone and dialing Matt's private number. "How is she?" he asked Broadway as he knelt by the woman's limp body on the floor.
"Just fainted," Broadway commented. "Her color's coming back."
"Bluestone, here," came the familiar voice of Elisa Maza's partner in Brooklyn's ear.
"Hey, Matt. We just broke up a breaking-and-entering at..." he rifled through some envelopes scattered on the floor and read off the address. "He vandalized some paintings and threatened the resident with a gun." The red gargoyle waved a hand in front of his face and grimaced. "Hey, Broadway, open the flue on that fireplace, will you? Angela, get the windows. Sorry about that, Matt, the place is full of smoke."
"Anybody hurt?"
"Not seriously, but you might send some paramedics along. This smoke smells funny."
"Um...Brook, Angela? She's coming around," Broadway said tentatively. "Maybe we should do a fade out."
Brooklyn nodded. "Gotta go, Matt. We'll check in with you later."
"Okay," the cop on the other end of the line answered, "Just confirmed with dispatch. There's a black-and-white on its way, ETA five minutes."
There wasn't time to answer him as Brooklyn put down the receiver gently as to not make a sound. The woman was coughing weakly and trying to get up. Angela and Broadway had already made it into the adjoining room out of sight. Her mousy brown hair was still covering her eyes so Brooklyn made a mad dash for the doorway on impossibly quiet feet like a cat.
"Oh, NO!!!" the woman wailed behind him. "Nonononononononononono!!!"
Brooklyn looked back. The woman was on her hands and knees by the fireplace, pulling the damaged canvases out of the fire, beating out the smoldering flames with a rug.
"Brooklyn!" Angela hissed. "Her fingers!"
Even in this poor lighting, he could see the blisters forming on the human's pale skin. He growled in frustration and went back into the room. "Here," he said gruffly, "let me do that. You're just hurting yourself." He moved the woman aside and began pulling out the ruined paintings.
Broadway yelled, "Heads up!" and flung a plastic dishpan of water over their heads to smother the fire.
Angela appeared a few minutes later with another bowl of water and a clean dish towel. "Your poor hands," she said soothingly to the woman. "Please, let me help you?"
"My paintings!" the woman moaned, not seeming to notice the nature of her rescuers, "I'll never be able to fix them in time for the show!"
"She's in shock," Broadway said quietly as he stood guard over the burglar. "Better stay until someone comes."
Brooklyn frowned and looked at the scorched paintings. The first ones she had pulled out of the flames still had visible images. A cityscape against a full moon, the edge of -- the edge of what, he couldn't quite tell. The canvas had been slashed so he carefully folded it back together to see the rest of the image. His beak gaped open.
Broadway frowned. "What's up, bro?"
"It's a gargoyle," Brooklyn said softly, staring unblinkingly at the painting. He felt Angela lean against his shoulder as she looked at it too, the very essence of a gargoyle in flight. It wasn't realistic like a photograph but was rather impressionistic -- catching the feeling of flight, the way it felt when the wind filled your wings. How could a human whose feet never left the ground know that flying felt like this? He shook his head, unable to express the emotions the picture evoked in him.
Angela had no such difficulties. "You're an artist?" she asked, her attention back on the woman. "You painted us? I mean, the painting, it's wonderful ... but why?"
"I belong to P.I.T., you know, People for Interspecies Tolerance? A bunch of us artists do. Anyway, we've got a bunch of fundraisers scheduled at libraries and art galleries all over the New York City area." A tear trickled down her ash-smudged cheek. "I worked so hard on these ... just look at what he did."
"What was he after?" Broadway asked.
"Broadway!" Angela said sharply.
Brooklyn shook his head. "No, he's right, Angela. If someone like the Quarrymen wanted to go after just the paintings, they'd make a public example out of it." He reached out and touched the artist's shoulder. "What was he really after?"
She looked up with red-rimmed eyes. "I-I had a computer disk with all the information for the fund-raisers -- names, addresses, site-links. I was building the flyers for the shows."
"But you don't have it anymore?" Broadway patted down the perp just the way he learned from Matt and Elisa. "Because he doesn't have it on him."
"It was taped inside my copy of 'Gray's Anatomy.'" She snorted. "The big bozo threw it out the window when he was wrecking the place."
"Then we'll get it back for you," Brooklyn said as he stood up. "C'mon, Broadway. Angela, you stay until the police get here."

"Well, it's not on the fire escape," Broadway said as they glided down, "so it's got to be in the alley somewhere."
"Yeah." Brooklyn eyeballed the estimated trajectory of the missing book. The most likely place was an open trash bin. "Swell, dumpster diving."
Broadway chuckled. "After you, bro."
"Gee, thanks."  The red gargoyle perched on the dumpster's edge and looked over the debris, grimacing and trying to breathe through his mouth.
"Look on the bright side," Broadway said jovially as he searched the rest of the alley, "It's cold enough tonight that all the rats and the cockroaches are on the bottom where it's warm."
Brooklyn shot his rookery brother a dirty look while he methodically picked through the trash. "Somehow, that doesn't make this job any nicer," he replied sarcastically.
"Heh, heh..." The big blue gargoyle chuckled. "Didn't think it would." His comment was countered with a tin can aimed at his head, which Broadway easily caught and tossed in another trash bin. He moved a black plastic trash bag and shouted, "Hey! I think this is it!"
"I think so, wait a minute...." Broadway bent over and picked up a thick book, swiping some residual alley grudge off the cover. "Yeah, 'Gray's Anatomy'." He held it up. "Yeah, found it!"
A high-pitched whine precluded the highly-focused plasma burst that shot the book out of Broadway's hand. It exploded in a flurry of flaming paper and burning plastic.
"Hey!" Broadway glared back with white-hot eyes. "What's the big deal?"
"Well, well ..." Two shadowy figures stepped into the alley. As they came into a patch of moonlight, the crimson circle-and-hammer logo on their chest became visible. "Looky what we found."
"Swell." Brooklyn vaulted from the dumpster, clawing his way up the wall to the fire escape. "Quarrymen."
Broadway grabbed a trash can and hurled it in their direction as he went to join his rookery brother with a speed that belied his ample frame. "Things just go from bad to worse."
"Yeah, for you, freak." Both Quarrymen dodged the flying trash can and fired at the gargoyles with a shocking lack of regard for any residents of the apartment building. Lights started coming on and excited voices could be heard on both sides of the alley.
"Angela!" Broadway shouted as he saw her appear in the artist's window. "Leave her. It's time to go!"
"He's right!" Brooklyn called, already airborne. He could see the flashing red-and-blue lights down the block. "The police are almost here." He narrowed his eyes at the Quarrymen below. "Broadway, let's leave them a present." Folding up his wings, the red gargoyle dove into the alley as swift as an arrow, easily evading the energy blasts. Roaring, he made the two men dive for cover in the garbage.
As the they turned to fire at the gargoyle sailing up the wall, Broadway came from behind and wrenched the plasma rifles out of their hands. "I'll take these, thank you!"
   * * * * *
The Quarrymen stood there, staring dumbfounded for a few seconds as they watched the gargoyles soaring over the buildings out of sight. Then the wail of the police siren and the flashing lights became a more immediate concern. The two blue-clad men bolted down the alley, clambering over a chain link fence and reappearing on the street almost a block away, walking as if they hadn't a care in the world.
One of them glanced back at the police cars passing by in the distance. "Working for Dracon was never like this. Castaway's not going to be happy."
The other Quarrryman just clenched his fist in response to his partner's keen observation. "I don't ~care~ if Castaway doesn't like it. I know and he knows that the time is coming when those ugly gargoyles will get theirs...."
   * * * * *

"Won't those Quarrymen ever learn?" Broadway said, tucking the energy weapons under his arm. "They destroyed the very thing they were looking for."
"Yeah, and they didn't care who they'd have to hurt to do it," Brooklyn grumbled. "This has got to stop. Castaway's little pep rallies are making the Quarrymen more dangerous than ever!"
"Isn't that kind of the point?" Angela said. "He's very charismatic and he makes people believe whatever he wants."
"Not everybody." Brooklyn shook his head. "That artist was almost killed just because she could see the truth."
"She'll be all right, Brooklyn," the female gargoyle said soothingly. "She was already making plans for a new painting when I left."
"That's good," Broadway commented. He soared ahead to take the lead. "I want to drop these guns with Matt downtown. He might be able to trace them back to their supplier and keep them from getting any more of them on the street."
"Sounds like a plan," Brooklyn agreed. As one, the three gargoyles turned and headed towards the temporary home of the 23rd Precinct.

   * * * * *

It took a lot of scrapping and pulling favors, but Matt Bluestone had finally managed to finagle his way into having an office of his own. He could put up with the slightly musty smell of the old case files stored in cardboard boxes in the corner and the way water dripped from the window sill when it rained. All that really mattered was that now he had the privacy to pursue his duties as head of the Gargoyle Task Force as well as his ...other interests.
A scratching on the window pane drew his attention from his computer screen.
Matt raised a eyebrow and smiled as he slowly got up to open the window. He looked at the gargoyles clinging to the brick wall outside. "Hey, guys, Angela. Nice work tonight. What can I do you for?"
Broadway handed two silver rifle-like weapons through the window. "We had a couple of Quarrymen show up. They were using these things. Thought maybe you could run a trace on them."
"Hmmm...." The red-headed cop handled the guns carefully, examining them from all angles. "I thought the Quarrymen just used those pumped-up hammers."
Brooklyn snorted. "I guess even the Quarrymen are getting upgraded."
"Dracon swiped a bunch of guns like this from Xanatos a couple of years ago," Broadway said thoughtfully. "He sold some of them and I don't think Elisa ever recovered all of them." A shadow passed over the big gargoyle's homely face as he recalled some uncomfortable memories associated with that case.
Matt and Brooklyn exchanged a wordless look. They both knew that Broadway had never forgiven himself for accidentally shooting Elisa. "Tell you what," Matt said lightly, "I'll run these down to Forensics and have the lab boys go over them. They're bound to find something. Thanks, guys."
"See you around, Matt."  Brooklyn eyed his rookery brother. The blue gargoyle still seemed a little glum, even with Angela's reassuring hand on his shoulder. Brooklyn swallowed a twinge of jealousy and suggested brightly, "Why don't we hit the mall? I could use a little break."
Angela smiled gratefully. "Yes, I think that's a wonderful idea."
The shining look in her eyes nearly stopped Brooklyn's heart but he kept a level expression as he pushed off from the wall to launch into the night wind. He caught a glimpse of Broadway and Angela linking hands as they flew and resolutely kept his eyes looking forward from that point on.
The mall was not far, only about five blocks away. The street lamps faintly illuminated the city at this hour with dawn steadily approaching, but there weren't many city dwellers out this late anyway. As Brooklyn soared over the city, he thought back to the time at the mall....the first time he had felt accepted by  humans of all sorts. It had been a wonderful feeling and he hadn't wanted to let go of it, but all good things must come to an end. Even though Brooklyn had always envied humans and wanted to be "normal" like them, his recent experience had taught him that deep down, in spite of the hardships, his heart and soul was gargoyle.
Brooklyn  suddenly broke out of his philosophical thoughts as he and the lovebirds reached the mall and landed lightly upon the stucco finish of a nearby building. Their favorite food stand was near the side of the mall, presently abandoned by the cart owner until later in the day. During their time living in the clock tower, the younger gargoyles had made a habit of scouting out any available food sources. Despite their warrior status, all three young males were still growing gargoyles. After checking carefully for any watchers, the three gargoyles sailed down to the sidewalk. Broadway neatly twiddled the lock off the pretzel stand with his pinky talon. They took one pretzel each except for Broadway, who took two and left a few dollars tucked away where the vendor would find it the next morning.
Broadway and Angela took their snacks across the street into the small park, the grounds still littered with debris from the recent Quarrymen rally held there. Brooklyn opted for a perch on a nearby street lamp. He nibbled delicately at the salty pretzel while he gazed into the full-building window on the front of the mall. The lights were on inside and he had a clear view of the places he and the others had visited -- the bookstores, the video arcade, and the coffee shop where Brooklyn had spent a pleasant hour or so being flirted with by an attractive girl.
He sighed, a little sadly, but with a wry smile. It was a pity that he'd never go back there again; despite the temptation of an interspecies relationship, he wanted a gargoyle mate of his own. At least the experience had taught Brooklyn that he was attractive to females and that in itself was encouraging. Goliath had told them of the other clans around the world and it was matter of time before he too found his heart's mate.
Glancing back, he could see Broadway and Angela walking together by a bed of late-blooming flowers. His rookery brother was laughing and reached out to stroke Angela's brow ridges. She smiled and held his hand in place, softly rubbing her cheek against it. Brooklyn smiled and looked away, swallowing the lump in his throat.
"Just a matter of time, Brook," he muttered to himself. "Just a matter of time."

   * * * * *

Castle Wyvern towered above the city, outlined in brilliant starlight, ancient and eternal. On nights like this, the combination of moon and stars made the night as bright as day. The lone sentinel of the stone fortress padded along the battlements, his great paws as silent as a cat. Bronx lifted his head and sniffed the night air. He crooned happily and trotted toward the three moonlit figures gliding in for a landing.
"Seems we're the first ones back from patrol, lad," Hudson remarked, looking around for signs of the others. He reached down and scratched Bronx behind the ears. "There, there, boy. Missed us, did you?"
Goliath consulted the horizon for a minute. "They had better be back soon. With the Quarrymen still loose, I don't want them getting stuck roosting somewhere dangerous."
"Don't worry yuirself, lad. You taught them well. You have to let go sometime and they are of age now."
Goliath sighed. "You're right, of course. I can't help worrying about Angela though. Her warrior training is not as good as it could be."
"Aye, it's difficult. Even though this idea of being a parent is a new thing, there was always a special hatchling in each rookery, one that you always kept at eye on and worried about." Hudson arched an eyebrow ridge and pointed at his head. "You're the one that got me started on these white hairs!"
The grim expression on the lavender gargoyle's face gave way to a wry smile and a rolling chuckle started in his chest. "Too true, old friend."
They went into the castle to the suite of rooms Xanatos had set aside for them. Hudson headed for his comfortable chair and was channel-surfing before his seat hit the cushions. Goliath picked up the thick, leather-bound book he'd been reading, a collection of American literature. He opened it to a selection by Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Celestial Railroad," and started to read ...or would have.
"Goliath! Goliath, look at this!" Lex was very excited about a glossy magazine in his hands. Bronx growled as the olive-green gargoyle almost trod on the gargoyle beast in his enthusiastic charge across the room. "Whoops! Sorry, Bronx." He held the publication out. "There's going to be a major computer expo! All the latest cutting edge technology! Isn't it great?"
"That's fine, Lex." Goliath didn't want to sound bored with Lexington's infatuation with all things electronic, but he had heard the same description millions of times before. Young gargoyles always seemed to have a short term memory about amazing things and could never get enough. Goliath had gone through the same thing with Brooklyn and Broadway but Lexington had more insatiable curiosity than his rookery brothers.
"Are you listening, Goliath?" Lex was tapping his foot impatiently. "Maddox Technologies is unveiling their new line of virtual reality cyberware! Not even Xanatos has anything close to it."
The gargoyle leader frowned. "Cyberware?"
Lex rolled his eyes, exasperated. "Auuugh! C'mon, Bronx. Let's get something to eat." He stomped off with the gargoyle beast on his heels.
Goliath turned to Hudson for advice, but Hudson was laughing so hard it looked like he was about to have a coronary.
"What's so funny?"
"I cannae help thinking that my face must have looked like that once.  Remember that curious rookery sister of yours that kept making all those odd gadgets and blowing things up?"
"At least, her interests were simple," Goliath rumbled, returning to his book. "I don't understand half of what Lexington's talking about most of the time."
"As long you don't stop listening, that's all that really matters," Hudson said wisely and settled in for a serious snooze.

   * * * * *

A galaxy of fuzzy neon yellow tennis balls  orbited the floating white-haired trickster hanging upside down in the roomy gymnasium. As Puck watched Alex below on the floor, burbling happily and clapping his hands like any other child his age, he smiled. He couldn't help but be proud of his prized pupil. Alex had progressed quite a bit since his first lesson on soul transference. And what a mess that had been! Alex was showing a great deal of promise for only a quarter-fay. Fortunately, he was being trained by the very best.
"Alex, my boy, you must concentrate!" Puck was careful to always keep his tone of voice light and playful. The baby's newfound powers were at a critical state and the slightest tinge of negative emotion could influence their development. "Let's make the balls go 'round like a train, hmm? All in a row now!" He started Alex off, guiding his pupil's young mind with deft touches of his own. It generally only took a little prodding before young Master Xanatos got the idea.
"Choo-choo!" Alex called out, his childish voice ringing in the high-vaulted room. "Chooooo-choo!"
The child's laughter was infectious and Puck let loose with a merry laugh of his own, somersaulting through the air. He was about to introduce Alex to a new version of 'Duck, Duck, Goose!' when he felt a great and powerful magic force entering his vicinity. He couldn't quite place it but he knew it had incredible power....he had to find it.
"Time to put away our toys, kiddo," Puck said, scooping Alex up into his arms. He restored the room to order with a absent-minded wave of his hand. Alex was confused both by his teacher abruptly ending the lesson and by the slight force of magic he had felt. But he was content to snuggle into Puck's arms and play with a lock of the fay's long white hair.
Children of Oberon like himself were sensitive to very powerful talismans or other magically empowered beings. Puck had felt the magical force above him, near the heart of Castle Wyvern, not a threatening presence exactly, more a sense of infinite space, of time. As a member of a particularly long-lived race, Puck knew where he stood on the great cosmic sundial of events and his time sense was exquisite.  As he approached the nexus of the phenomena, he began to feel rather disjointed. The magical emanations led him to a room that had originally been Princess Katherine's private bedchamber but had undergone some changes in the thousand years to become a pleasant sitting room.
There was no sign of magic--in fact, the force that he had felt so strongly a few minutes ago had vanished altogether. Puck sighed. This was going to be a long search and since long, irksome tasks were his alter-ego's forte -- he turned back into Owen in a gentle flash of light, scarcely disturbing the sleeping child in his arms.
Owen began to climb a flight of stairs to continue with his search....

   * * * * *

Brooklyn, Angela, and Broadway were all laughing as they landed on the top parapets of Castle Wyvern. Broadway had just told a joke from the old days at Wyvern but it seemed like the punchline was just as funny as it was a thousand years ago. Brooklyn was still eating part of his pretzel; it had only taken them about five minutes to get to the castle from  the mall. Broadway had long ago finished his two pretzels and had helped Angela along with hers. As they headed inside, Brooklyn sighed, finally relieved of the stress of having to hide his lingering jealousy from the two lovebirds. Brooklyn went into the study of the highest tower where Goliath perched during the day, towering above the others of his clan.
The study was small by all accounts and had once doubled as the Archmage's sorcery and lab room. It had once held glass beakers and pots full of strange liquids and potions. Skulls that were lit with candles had once perched where lights now illuminated the impenetrable dark of the room. Brooklyn liked to be here sometimes just to get away from it all. As he sat eating the rest of his pretzel, he thought about how he could avoid getting patrol duty with Angela and Broadway again. This feeling of envy was getting tiresome. Almost as irritating as that scratchy, hissing sound. He stuck a finger in his ear and wiggled it. No good; it was still there, but now,  he heard something more...a voice...beckoning to him to come closer...
Brooklyn frowned, and stepped into the hallway. He tried to think of what it could possibly be but the whispering voice  seemed to echo inside his head, reverberating off the inside of his skull in a dizzying whirl until he knew that he had find out what it was or go mad.
The red gargoyle crept cautiously up the winding staircase leading to the very top parapets of the castle, expecting anything and nothing. He went outside and noted the changing colors of the eastern sky. Dawn was not too far off and, out of habit, he began walking to his usual roost. A blue-white flash of light stopped him in his tracks and he stood there, blinking and waiting for the spots to disappear from before his eyes.
Brooklyn looked down and saw the starlight gleaming off a golden trinket at his feet.  Strange images from his childhood came rushing back to him -- thunder, a ball of fire, a black horse. Brooklyn knelt and examined it more closely. The little thing seemed to have tiny dents and pits in it -- a barely discernible seam was visible where it had once been broken in half and somehow restored. He was hesitant to touch it, but something about it reassured him and he picked it up. He half-expected it to burn  him but it was cool to the touch. When he held it in his hands he noticed the incredible craftsmanship that must have gone into the piece.
It was in the shape of a heart or a shield--he wasn't sure which. It was edged in a gold trim and the inside was something green...perhaps a rare, precious stone? There was a beautifully crafted bronze image of a fiery bird inside, curling impossibly inward to match the shape of the outside trim. Its crimson red eye gleamed fiercely while its claws raked away at its golden prison.
Brooklyn was broken out of his rapt fascination by the sound of soaring wings coming in his direction. Angela and Broadway, still laughing at something, landed a few feet away. Brooklyn hastily slipped the little treasure into the back of his belt.
"Whatcha doin' up here so late, Brook?" Broadway asked.
"Just....thinking." Brooklyn answered, tracing circles with his feet.
Angela looked at him curiously. "Brooklyn, what is that you have behind your back?"
"What? That? Oh...just something I found laying around," he replied nonchalantly, holding it out to them.
Upon closer inspection, Angela gasped when she saw the thing clutched in Brooklyn's talons. "No! It can't be!"
"What? What is it?" Broadway looked at it with as much concern and confusion as Brooklyn did.
"That is the Phoenix Gate!" Angela said in wonder, awe, hatred, and confusion all in the same statement.
"So?" Brooklyn and Broadway said almost simultaneously.
"It's kind of a long story, guys, and I--" Angela was cut off by a mysterious and yet all too familiar scream that cut through the crisp early morning air like a hot knife through butter.  Brooklyn frantically tried to drop the Gate, but he could not. It was if he was frozen in time. Angela and Broadway were too horrified to act, frozen in place, watching events happen as if according to some preordained script. Nothing moved except for the reddish mist being emitted from the Gate, covering Brooklyn in its wrathful embrace. Suddenly the mists began to dissipate and  freed of his trance, Brooklyn started towards them but to no avail as he was swallowed up by the swirling fire of the portal of time.
When the fire had cleared away, Brooklyn was no longer there. No sign of him....not even a charred spot on the flagstones.
"What happened here?" Owen asked as he emerged from the entrance to the tower a few seconds later. He pushed his glasses up, looking expectantly at the two gargoyles for an answer. Neither spoke a word for several minutes in awe of what had just transpired. Broadway looked very upset and angry.
"He's gone!" he shouted. "What have you done with him?" Broadway's eyes lit up with fury as he whipped around to face the ever-calm Owen.
"I'm afraid I cannot take responsibility for whatever has happened here. I sensed--"
"You sensed what? That Brooklyn was about to go up in flames?!" Now both Angela and Broadway were angry at Owen.
"I'm telling you no. I sensed a great magical force as I was teaching Alexander earlier. It disappeared but I sensed it again as I was leaving Alex's room. I do not know what has happened and yelling at me will not solve the problem."
Broadway and Angela looked at each other and hung their heads guiltily. They knew Owen spoke the truth; neither Puck nor Owen could never sink to the level of killing someone, especially a friend.
"Now, you say that Brooklyn was taken away..." Owen trailed off, expecting an answer. This time he got one.
"...by the Phoenix Gate," Angela said, her eyes brimming over with salty tears.  Broadway stared at the spot where his rookery brother last stood. "He can't be gone," he said numbly, "Not Brooklyn. Lost...lost forever....."

   * * * * *

"It's kind of a long story..."
Brooklyn heard those words over and over again as he felt the screaming of the time portal as  the Phoenix Gate hurled him through its eternal vortex. It had followed him throughout his entire life and now it had him. Brooklyn didn't know or care what his surroundings were. It was all like some bizarre, twisted dream. More like one huge, monstrous nightmare. Visions floated past him. Images and emotions of the past, present, and possibly the future. Brooklyn made himself as compact as possible, cocooning himself in his wings. He wanted to wake up from this awful dream, hear the  cracking of stone in his ears and be back in Manhattan, but he didn't. Three familiar yet indistinct voices rang out within the timestream void.
"So he's the one chosen by the prophecy." The voice was unemotional. Brooklyn covered his ears in pain. The voice reverberated off the entire void like one huge stereo system on the highest volume. Then another darker voice spoke.
"He could ruin everything!" This one had more emotion to it, more hatred.
"Or he could make everything work..." The voice was more good-natured than the other two. Now Brooklyn was sure that the three voices were female. They weren't low and gruff as male's voices tend to be, but rather light and musical.
The impartial voice spoke again, "In any case he's in our domain now."
Then all three voices spoke, chilling Brooklyn to the bone with their lone statement...
"And he's in our control."

   * * * * *

The Imperial Palace
Ancient Rome

Fire screamed as a globe of swirling flame materialized in the center of the room. A red beaked gargoyle straightened up, spreading his wings and shaking his head to clear the fog that clouded his thoughts. Then he remembered what had happened, glaring at the magical talisman in his hand. Hearing the excited hum of many voices, he began to look around.
"Brooklyn," he told himself in a low mutter, "you sure aren't in Manhattan anymore."
He studied his surroundings, not knowing where he was. Several strangely-dressed people  were looking at him, not in horror as he expected, but in awe and respect. He looked around and saw brightly woven tapestries of all kinds draped everywhere in a festive mood. It reminded him of the old days at Castle Wyvern but the people around him were not dressed like the humans that he knew in his hatchling days so long ago. Their clothing consisted of one very long piece of white cloth draped over one shoulder, a silken rope as a belt, and a pair of sandals.
Brooklyn was definitely in some sort of castle-like structure with stone inlaid walls and beautiful mosaic-tiled floors. Directly behind him was a throne intricately carved out of marble. There were decorations engraved in this throne; images of gods, monsters, and heroes. The man sitting there was wearing the strangest clothes Brooklyn had ever seen, much like the others. His regal robes were royal purple, trimmed with gold  with a  jeweled dagger on his belt. A wreath of  laurel leaves adorned his bald head.
Brooklyn had studied many books of mythology and had always loved the Greek and Roman tales. He immediately recognized the ancient style of clothing worn by the people who were staring at him as coming from that time period. They all looked like they were taken straight from the pictures in the mythology books in Xanatos's library; they wore tunics of different colors, a girdle about their waists, some of the richer citizens had daggers on their belts, and all of them wore sandals of some type.
The palace that he arrived in was built to immense proportions. Huge columns held up a sea-blue marble ceiling with colorful murals painted around the open atrium which framed the night sky. Brooklyn carefully noted that in case he had to leave in a hurry but the people, although curious, had yet to make any threatening moves. The columns themselves were of the traditional Roman style with wide channels carved into it that ran from the very top of the ceiling to the bottom of the floor, nicked with age.
Brooklyn also noticed the stern-faced guards with wicked-looking spears at their sides. Their armor shone brightly in contrast to their crimson tunics in the torchlight. They stood in the stone doorways looking like some of those bouncers at the nightclubs back in twentieth century Manhattan. Sighing, he shook off the  first signs of homesickness.
"C'mon, bud," Brooklyn muttered to himself. "You're Mr. Adventure, remember?"
He decided to speak first to the man sitting on the throne, apparently an emperor by the looks of his royal purple toga and glittering laurel wreath. He walked up to the dais, the emperor not reacting with anger or fear but observing the strange newcomer calmly. Brooklyn didn't know what to say. After all, he had no idea what language was spoken here and his grasp of Latin was rusty at best. Still, Hudson and his mate had drilled court manners into him when he was only a hatchling. Brooklyn caped his wings and bowed elegantly to the man on the throne. The human seemed pleased and twitched a small smile as he spoke to a beautiful young woman standing to the right  of the throne. Encouraged by this, Brooklyn cleared his throat and was preparing to speak when he heard a deep voice echo in the audience hall.
"So the court has discovered another," a very deep voice, much like Goliath's, resounded off the stone walls of the castle. The crowd quickly parted for something but Brooklyn still couldn't quite see what it was. The emperor sat up on his throne and looked past Brooklyn. Then the owner of the voice emerged from the crowd.
He was a handsome gargoyle by any standards. He  had a strange mix of features reminiscent of several of the gargoyles in Manhattan; Hudson's brownish coloring, Demona's brow ridges and the wings of Brooklyn himself. Brooklyn could hardly believe his eyes. It was like the whole clan was there in front of him. The gargoyle also wore a loincloth, but of much better material, almost like a golden silk. Brooklyn could not even raise his voice to speak--he was struck dumb by the gargoyle's sudden appearance.
The gargoyle went up to the emperor to exchange a few hurried words, and then he proceeded to greet Brooklyn, clasping forearms in gargoyle fashion. Brooklyn was still staring after the gargoyle had released him. The gargoyle laughed a deep, friendly laugh and patted Brooklyn on the back.
"Come, friend, what is your name?" he asked.
"Brooklyn," the red gargoyle answered.
The male gargoyle laughed once again in a good-natured tone. "Well, Brooklyn, you seem new around here. How about a tour of our fair city?"
Since Brooklyn didn't know what else he was going to do, he nodded his head yes.
The Roman gargoyle bowed to the man on the throne, who nodded. "Well then let's be off," With that sentiment, the gargoyle leapt up the side of one of the columns and spreading his wings, glided out through the open atrium. Brooklyn followed his tour guide's lead, flying over the heads of the crowd who gasped as they marveled at the new gargoyle.
Gliding high above the city, Brooklyn soon saw that the great palace was the heart of a sprawling metropolis. Clustered all around it were houses fashioned to resemble the palace in miniature, flattering themselves by imitation. A great marketplace ringed by columns was still doing business here and there. Brooklyn looked ahead of them and saw many lights of fires in the village that might have been the low rent district. So far his tour guide had been silent.
It occurred to Brooklyn that somebody needed to break the ice so he cleared his throat.  "Hey, uh, you never told me your name!" Brooklyn asked the male gargoyle who was flying a bit ahead of him.
"My apologies. I must have forgotten in the excitement. My name is Primus."
"Primus?" Brooklyn repeated.
Primus laughed again, "I was named by Caesar Augustus himself."
"Caesar Augustus?" Brooklyn asked incredulously.
"The emperor was the man you saw sitting in the throne at the palace."
Brooklyn nodded thoughtfully. He did the math in his head and concluded that he must have traveled farther back than he originally thought if Caesar Augustus was ruling. Reading the Roman myths had led naturally to reading some of the history books on that period. Most historians seemed to think Caesar Augustus was at the very least a kindly emperor, not a tyrant like some of the other leaders of that time period. He was very good to his people and was the originator of the ~Pax Romana~, a period of peace in the Roman Empire which lasted for over two hundred years.
The brown Roman gargoyle began to speak again. "I was named Primus because I was thought to be the first of my kind. You have proven that idea wrong tonight, my friend. You don't know how good it is to have a companion, someone of my own species. I don't know where you came from or why you are here, but all I can say is that I am glad that you are here. Caesar Augustus is good and means well, but sometimes," he smiled wryly, "sometimes it's good to be with someone who's more like yourself."
Brooklyn grinned and nodded. Maybe this trip wouldn't be all that bad after all. Although it was very strange that the humans here were so happy to see a gargoyle, and that would certainly need some getting used to. Brooklyn wanted to know the whole story: what exactly would get him home? Could the humans here be trusted? Could Primus be trusted? Brooklyn mentally disregarded the last question. He had his doubts about the Roman gargoyle but he seemed to have good intentions. Better to ask questions later and learn about the city now while he had the time.
"So shall we have that tour, Primus?" Brooklyn asked, pointing to the city below.
Primus grinned and then quickly plunged into the town below. Brooklyn shrugged and did the same. The night wind was particularly cold here, nipping and biting at any creature foolish enough to glide on a night like this. Luckily, with their thick skin, gargoyles barely felt any cold from the elements. They took their time and circled the city, from the Sabine hills to the river Tiber. It was particularly fascinating to see sites like the Circus Maximus and the Panthenon  when only days before Brooklyn had seen a television documentary on Italy where most of these structures were either gone or in ruin from age and erosion. Primus was pointing out the Senate building and explaining its function, when Brooklyn noticed several fires below them. Shabby multiple story structures were built helter-skelter along the city wall, housing hundreds of people, almost hiding in its shadow.
"What's that?" Brooklyn asked, pointing.

Primus gave it the barest glance. "Ah. The freeborn workers and the low-caste servants live there."
"You mean....they're slums?"
"Yes. They are places of little consequence." The Roman gargoyle looked mildly uncomfortable. "Do not concern yourself with them."
"What?!" Brooklyn could not believe what he was hearing.
"Do you not have the lower classes where you come from?"
"Well, yes, but..." Brooklyn's sentence trailed off as he strained his ears to listen to something.
"What is it?" Primus asked, trying to listen as well.
"I thought I heard a scream," Brooklyn replied. Primus dismissed the allegations, with a flippant wave of his hand. Brooklyn heard a scream again, clearly audible now, and swooped down to see what was going on. Primus sighed in resignation and  followed Brooklyn.
As Brooklyn glided onto the dirt street, he heard another scream that projected terror and horror into the clean night air. He ran towards the voice, his feet scratching the pebbles and dirt in his way. The scream had come from a nearby alley and Brooklyn hurried towards it. Primus was not very far behind, but he seemed to already know what was going on and showed no great interest in rushing to the screaming person's aid.
Brooklyn was stunned by the sight that came into view. There was an old man laying at the feet of two younger, strong-looking men. He let out another wail of anguish but was quickly cut off when one of the men kicked him viciously. The old man was lying in a stinking puddle, covered in filth. Brooklyn tried to restrain himself, but he could not stand by and watch a helpless old man be beaten to death. His eyes flared white in anger and he prepared to jump the two men. But before Brooklyn could leap into battle, a strong hand clapped down on  his shoulder firmly. He spun around, rage pouring from his body, to meet the visage of Primus.
"What are you doing?" Primus asked casually.
Brooklyn's face was a mix of confusion, realization, and astonishment. "Can't you see?! They're beating that old man for kicks!" Brooklyn nearly shouted.
"So?" Primus shrugged. "He is a slave. They are nobles. It is not our affair."
"What do you mean?? They're beating an old, defenseless man to death for FUN!! You see nothing wrong with that?" Brooklyn's confusion had now turned to  anger.
"Slaves are usually dealt with however their masters see fit..." Primus trailed off, not understanding Brooklyn's point.
Brooklyn sighed in desperation, "Look, Primus. Everyone is equal where I come from." Primus raised an eye ridge, still not understanding. "And no one should beaten merely for pleasure. Not even people that are 'slaves.' Whatever you choose to do is fine with me but I'm helping him." Brooklyn started towards the assailants again.
"Why should I help an old human?" Primus asked simply.
"You serve the emperor. There's no difference between him and this old man here." Primus growled his disagreement at the last statement, and Brooklyn quickly rephrased it, "Would Caesar Augustus want his people to be beaten for pure pleasure?"
"No but--"
"Then you'll help me," Brooklyn said triumphantly.
"Slaves can be treated any way their masters wish," Primus said, crossing his arms, not willing to bend even a little bit. Without a second thought, Brooklyn ran into the middle of the attack. The old man was nearly beaten unconscious and simply laying there, moaning. The two men stopped laughing and nearly screamed at the sight of Brooklyn, eyes glaring white, charging at them like some wild beast. The men quickly recovered and brought their cruel sticks down upon the gargoyle instead. Brooklyn felt the sharp stinging blows of the wood sticks and responded with a roar of rage.
Brooklyn took the next blow in his palm and ripped the weapon out of the astonished man's grip. He broke the stinging shaft in his hands and picked the man up, shaking him. "Doesn't feel so good now, does it, tough guy?" he said mockingly while the man dangled in his grasp. Unknown to Brooklyn, the man's companion had untangled himself from battle and pulled a gladius from a scabbard.
Brooklyn threw the first assailant through the hut wall and onto a crude table, breaking it into firewood. He picked the semiconscious man up again.
"Pick on someone you own size next time!" With that sentiment, Brooklyn hurled the man with all of his strength into the street. The man lay still, beaten unconscious. Too late, Brooklyn caught the twinkle of a large blade in the corner of his eye. He turned to meet the attack, instinctively dropping on his haunches to get below the killing blow that was descending towards him.
The grating crunch of bones breaking stopped the blade inches from Brooklyn's head. Primus lifted the yelling man off his feet and threw him head over heels into the other man still stretched out in the street. Both assailants now lay unconscious in the dust.
"Thanks," Brooklyn breathlessly shook hands with Primus.
"There is no need to thank me, Brooklyn." The brown gargoyle looked puzzled. "I'm not sure why I did it but when I saw him draw his sword on you, I felt compelled to help you."
Brooklyn put a hand on Primus's shoulder. "Gargoyles live to protect."
"Gargoyles?" the Roman gargoyle asked, startled. "Is that what we are? Here I am known as simply 'the winged one.'"
"Trust me, you're a gargoyle." Brooklyn laughed. "As my elder likes to say, 'A gargoyle cannae stop protecting th' castle nae more than he can stop breathing the air.' Or something like that."
"How curious." Primus walked over to the ruined hut and peered inside. "You helped me see a little clearer tonight. I've often felt ambiguous about my role in the empire. Sometimes I think I'm no more than a court ornament, like the Nubian gladiators or the ladies from the land of silk."
"But sometimes you feel responsible for things," Brooklyn prompted, "That you want to defend others who can't defend themselves."
The brown gargoyle thought about it and then replied, "I've always known how the lower classes and the slaves have been treated but I never saw anything wrong with these practices," Primus paused to gently lift the old man out of the mud, "until today. I will tell Caesar Augustus that we must change our ways." Brooklyn felt pleased, just thinking that Primus would change his ways because of one thing that he had done...it was a wonderful feeling... Almost like when the humans had appreciated him...
"There is still one thing that puzzles me. You say you are from a different land and you also say that everyone is treated equally where you come from, correct?" Primus asked.
"Right," Brooklyn answered slowly.
"But slavery has been a practice all over the world since the beginning of time!" Primus now looked suspiciously at him.
Brooklyn knew he couldn't lie to Primus who was an honest gargoyle like himself.
"Well I didn't think anyone would believe me or understand. I come from a different place, yes, but I left out the part about time."
"Time?" Primus asked, genuinely interested.
"I accidentally came into possession of a talisman that sent me back in time, to your...er, our time to be exact." Primus raised an eyebrow ridge questioningly and made a face.
"Okay, let me try to explain this again. I live in the future. The VERY distant future." Primus nodded his head slowly in understanding. "I accidentally found this," Brooklyn produced the shining Phoenix Gate from a pouch he had found along Primus's tour of the town. Primus looked at it with fearfulness, almost reverence. Brooklyn frowned and was going to ask him about it, but decided to wait until later. "They call it the Phoenix Gate. Somehow the Phoenix Gate transported me here. Not only did it bring me here to Rome, but it took me back in time as well -- about two thousand years!"
Primus digested what Brooklyn said for a couple of minutes and then said, "I understand what you are saying....but it is still hard to believe. The only one who would even know of such things is the Mage."
"The Mage?" Brooklyn asked with curiosity.
"Yes. He is our court magus. He knows all about magical talismans and potions. He always helps Caesar Augustus with his ailments," Primus elaborated.
"Then maybe he can help send me back home!" Brooklyn said excitedly. Primus shrugged.
"Perhaps. He is a very good magus, especially at healing. The sun will rise soon. Why do we not go and see him now? I am sure he has heard of you by now and is anxious to meet you."
Brooklyn nodded in agreement and both gargoyles took flight, leaving the old man on a bed in his hut.
"How is it that you are here alone? Where are your parents?" Brooklyn asked.
"I never knew them, if I even had any. Until I met you, I had no idea that there were other gargoyles. I thought I was the last of my kind."
Brooklyn laughed to himself, hearing that, remembering that his clan had felt that way when they first had awakened in Manhattan and also knowing that generations of gargoyles separated him and Primus. "No, you're not the last, friend, far from it. You just haven't found any others yet. Where I come from, there are whole clans of gargoyles."
"Whole what?"
"Clans. Groups of gargoyles living together in an area. Like a family."
Primus nodded.
"So, if your parents died, then who took care of you when you were born?" Brooklyn asked Primus as they neared Caesar Augustus's palace once again.
"The Emperor was young then and I was brought to him as a curiosity. The Roman court took me in. They feed me, clothe me, and respect me. I serve as a palace sentinel at night, and when I turn to stone in the day, they protect me."
"That sounds similar to where I come from," Brooklyn commented. "Humans and gargoyles working together. Do some humans....dislike you?"
"Not really. Not many know about me but those who do protect me."
Brooklyn hurumphed, "That's not the way it is in my time. Some humans protect us and want to be our friends and others want to kill us!" Primus looked astonished at this statement.
Cynically, Brooklyn could only imagine what the Roman gargoyle would make of the Quarrymen.
Primus quickly banked off to the left of the palace and called out, "The Mage's tower is this way."
Brooklyn looked to the west and saw a tower rising majestically above the lower buildings. It was built in much the same style as the rest of the palace, only with a minimum of ornamentation and was topped with a  small gold statue representing the eagle of Caesar.
"I hope this Mage isn't like the Archmage," Brooklyn mumbled to himself, remembering the evil, crafty wizard at Castle Wyvern with a shudder. Although he'd been just a hatchling at time, that man had always given him the creeps.

   * * * * *

On a palace balcony, someone watched the two gargoyles approach the Mage's tower. She, as well as the rest of the court, was very curious about the newest arrival. Unlike Primus who had been brought to the court as a child, this red creature with hair like snow arrived in a blazing globe of fire. Some of the people who witnessed this miracle were frightened, others awed, some suspicious but she found him intriguing.
Caesar Augustus's daughter, Julia, watched from her open window as the two winged creatures passed close by her window in the night.
"He could be ...entertaining," Julia mused out loud. "Primus is very dull but this new one...there is something  about him."  She had gotten good at amusing herself over the years, especially being the daughter of an emperor. Her father was so very proper, so very  concerned with morals and values. He was no fun at all. She would use this creature as she had tried with Primus, although he had caught on quickly since her father had taught him the philosophy of the Stoics and as a result, was not easily ruled by his emotions. But it was clear that the newcomer was young and it was a well-known fact that the young were seldom disciplined.
This new winged one would be her slave soon enough. She just had to wait for the right moment to make her move...

To be continued