Chapter 1

SATURDAY 6:05 A. M. Lake Michigan Shore, Chicago, IL

The flight of three Dragons graced the early morning skies of Chicago like jewels in a diadem. The rising sun glinted off yellow, blue, and green scales like an out of control kaleidoscope, while they performed aerobatics that would have put the Blue Angels to shame.

As they passed over the Lake's Edge district, all three executed a precision wing dip salute, to the Mer Folk hunting party on the Lake surface. The returned raised trident salute was certainly appreciated, as evidenced by the berserk immelmans, figure eights and loop-to-loops this triggered.

Unfortunately for the intrepid three; Mer Folk eyes were not the only things watching their display.


Mark Pitman was one of the Chicago regions premier wildlife photographers and had set up in the pre-dawn stillness with the best telephoto lenses ever made, hoping to catch that fleeting moment when the lakeshore wildlife awoke for another day. Needless to say, he got way more than he had bargained for.

His vocabulary seemed to have shrunk to a repeating, "Holy Shi... !", but there was nothing wrong with his shutter finger and five hundred-twenty high speed frames later, he was ready to believe in anything.

Going back over the digital captures, his favorite phrase of this morning was finally joined by a heartfelt, "The Sierra Club is going to crap their collective britches, not to mention The National Geographic Society."


SUNDAY 3:30 A. M. The News Stand at E. Van Buren and Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL

As Michael Shaun Kilian - who, along with his Father, ran the news stand - retrieved the Chicago Times bundle from the sidewalk, the banner headline jumped off the page at him:

"Here, There Be Dragons"

'What in the name of Heaven did those idiots think they were doing!?!' his mind screamed. Thumbing through the edition while making his way around the Bakery building next door, he mentally called to the wayward children living on the roof, 'Would someone like to explain this to me, really slowly?' Followed by, 'What exactly, did you guys 'not' understand about the term, Keep Under The Radar?' All this was sent while shaping his Mage shield into a hand and lifting the Prima Facie evidence of their Boo-Boo into their living quarters.

The arrival of this evidence, elicited cries of delight and chagrin, as the intrepid three went back and forth with their comments. 'Just look at that wingtip. It has to be six-inches out of the plane, ' sent the male of the trio, Cáel, 'Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy!'

'Oh, it was a micro-burst, and you couldn't have done any better, ' returned Isli, the owner of the offending wingtip.

Mateel, the resident peacemaker then jumped in with, 'Well, she did recover nicely on the back end of that... '

'SHUT UP!!' Mike mind screamed out at the catastrophe in the making, then calming himself by force of main will, he continued with, 'Has it escaped all of your collective attentions, that you are pictured in the Sunday Morning Edition of The Chicago Sun Times, ON THE FRONT FRIGGING PAGE!! You know, the edition that ... EVERYONE ... has plenty of time ... to READ!! Oh, and let's not forget the nice glossy six page photo spread in section one, followed by ... by the whole damn paper! Even the 'religion' section has a bunch of -what does this mean? - articles.'

Rubbing at his temples, in an forlorn attempt to stave off the incipient Mother-Of-All-Headaches, he was heard to be whispering, "Gusfraba, Gusfraba, Gusfraba."

As his murmuring ground to a halt, he sent, 'OK kids, pack up whatever you want to take with you. You're headed for Elfrealm Lake's Edge for at least the next six months. Where, with any luck at all, you can't possibly make this little event any worse.'


After Mike had herded the trio through the Portal in Grant Park and sent them winging to Elnore's hold. He contacted Elnore and passed on the new information. Elnore's response was fairly predictable.

'THEY WHAT?! What in Danu's name were those idiots thinking?'

The returned, 'They obviously weren't, ' raised a chuckle along with an undertone of a sigh.

'Can you keep a lid on this Michael?' came Elnore's next question.

'No way in creation. We'll just have to ride it out and keep our collective heads, very, very low, ' Mike responded.

'Alright, I'll have a little chat with out wayward wingers. See if I can't knock some sense into them. Danu, I still can't believe they pulled a stunt like this, ' Elnore finished, breaking contact.

As he snuggled back under the sheets, Elnore became aware of being watched. Glancing at the head of mussed blonde hair on the pillow, he noticed the now open eye of Lisa Altman, his FBI contact, Mage and the most recent human lover to grace his bedchamber. 'Go back to sleep, Love. There is nothing we can do about this now, ' he gently sent to her mind.

The teasing return reply was, 'I know. But I'm awake now, ' while she stretched seductively, brushing various parts of her anatomy against his.

He felt his response to her building and as he leaned in to plant the first kiss on her neck, he thought with a chuckle, 'Insatiable really should be her middle name.'

MONDAY 6:15 A.M. Lakeshore Drive, Chicago, IL


Lakeshore Drive was grid locked and it looked like it was going to stay that way for the foreseeable future, as literally thousands of hopefuls swarmed into the area - waiting with bated breath - to catch a glimpse of Their Dragons.

This phenomenon was not unknown in Chicago, as evidenced by the rush of sightseers that seemed to cluster whenever something Earth shaking or life threatening occurred. A prime example of this were the crowds that gathered in 1871 to watch Chicago burn.

The Carnival atmosphere was made ten times worse by the licensed and unlicensed vendors that had shown up in anticipation of the crowds. One enterprising young fellow was even hawking Chicago Dragon Dogs.

Though most folks thought they looked like dildos-on-a-bun, they turned out to be almost not half bad with enough relish and onions.

There wasn't one square inch of space on the shoreline - for one half mile in either direction - without photo or video recording equipment of some kind planted on it. The three major networks had sent crews, not to mention CNN and the other cable networks. Even Public Access TV had managed to slap together a remote crew.

Mark Pitman was back on station too and equipped for the long haul. He'd even brought camping supplies, up to and including, a personal 'port-a-potty'. When the CNN chief producer had asked him to slide over a foot or so for their second van, he had immediately tossed this interloper a meaningful 'one finger salute' while turning back to his tripod mounted equipment.


As Mike looked out at this sea of humanity, he thought, 'God almighty, how can people be this dumb? Oh well, I'll bet maps will be selling like hot cakes today. Wonder what the chances are of getting another shipment in? Hum, probably slim and none with this kind of traffic.'

He'd spent the latter part of Sunday fielding mental calls from the rest of the Crew. Stan Costanza had been first, followed by his police detective partner Rick Fields in company with his fiancée Alice Latham, then last of all had come the call from Ella along the group's newest Mage Tina. All of them were given mostly the same message, 'Our idiots screwed up and please keep your own heads very much, under the radar. Thanks folks.'

Even Mike's Homeland Security contact, Max Aldmen, had chimed in this morning to confirm the story. Mike gave him the same basic message, although he did ask Max to check and see if there wasn't some law on the books that would require children to be automatically locked up till they hit twenty one, no matter what species they were.

After they got done laughing ruefully over this, Mike then asked him to keep an unofficial ear peeled for repercussions.

Unfortunately for this crowd of Chicago Mages; sightseers were not the only ones paying attention here.

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Story tagged with:
Magic / Fiction / High Fantasy /