Chapter 1

MONDAY 7:30 A. M. CST The News Stand at E. Van Buren and Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL

Chicago was turning into a zoo ... an international one.

Between the influx of the terminally ill seeking 'The Dragon Effect' as a last ditch try for a cure and every intelligence agent on the planet trying to figure out how the Americans had pulled this off, it was getting down right tough to find a native resident.

Mike Kilian, who ran the news stand at the corner of E. Van Buren and Wabash Ave. along with his father, thought to himself, 'I wonder if this is what Ellis Island looked like in it's heyday? Man, talk about a melting pot, this sure qualifies.'

The streets were literally crawling with strangers and finding a hotel or motel room had become the impossible dream. Even Motel 6 was booked solid for the foreseeable future and camping sites that normally shut down during the winter months were making plans to stay open year round. There were even rumors of tent-cities springing up around Aurora, Batavia and Joliet.

O'Hare, Midway and every other landing spot within a five hundred mile radius were stacked up a mile high with no end in sight. Amtrak trains were overflowing and even Greyhound buses didn't have an empty seat available for love or money. America was once again 'the destination' for the world with Chicago being the ultimate target zone and people were doing whatever it took to get there.

Out of the three hundred and twenty two Dragons that had burst onto the world stage, just over two hundred and fifty of them were the Green and Blue variety that carried healing for mind and body in their very beings. At first glance this seemed like quiet a sizable resource until you figured in the vast amount of terminally ill patients in the world.

It seemed that if you had a heartbeat and were breathing when you finally encountered one of the draconic beings, you would be healed of whatever was ailing you. Hope and miracles had hit the world with a one-two punch and people were responding as they always do; they were flocking to the source.

The Dragons, on the other hand, were taking this all in stride. They had even worked out a rotation schedule at the one hundred and twenty five designated centers of healing set up in the Chicago region. As one would reach the end of their forty eight hour shift, another would show up to continue the flow of healing. The relieved one would then take off for the Grant Park portal and a period of R&R at Elfrealm Lake's Edge.

Prince Elnore, Third Lord of Elfrealm Lake's Edge, had even commented to Mike with a touch of humor that lately you had to really watch your step when making the portal transition because of the traffic volume.

Others though were not quite as overjoyed at this turn of events as everyone else.

Ricardo Esteban Maldono, head of the Columbian drug cartel, sat fuming in his hacienda as he pondered how to break through the seemingly impenetrable screen that had been raised over the Illinois and the Southern border region of the USA. It wasn't the loss of income spurring him on, it was the principle of the thing. His cartel had been shut out of an area of operation and that was intolerable to his ego.

Summoning his second in command he laid out a plan to reopen this closed region. Unfortunately for Ricardo, this colossal blunder was about to expose his group to the same forces that had driven Clan Maldanado, his largest client, from the US and closed Illinois to his people six months back. Some people just can't take a hint it seems.

Ali Bin Abar Misalii also sat in his Pakistani safe-house and pondered why his agents in the Illinois region had gone suddenly silent. One day reports were flowing like the Euphrates river, the next, there was nothing, as if they had all disappeared off the face of the Earth. Something would have to be done to correct this situation. After all, no one could be expected to run an effective Jihad without on-site agents in place. 'Perhaps one of the sister sites in Detroit could be of assistance, ' he mused.

MONDAY 8:30 A. M. CST The News Stand at E. Van Buren and Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL

As Mike finished with the morning rush of news paper grabbers, three things occurred almost simultaneously.

The voice of Lady Lannee, the group's Faery intelligence coordinator, entered his mind, 'My Lord, greetings. I have an update on activity in the region that may prove of interest to us. It seems that our arbitrary closing of Illinois to criminal enterprise has triggered a massive surge in the underworld. Judging by the swarm of operatives hanging about the state borders and attempting entry from time to time, I would liken the situation to hitting a hornet's nest with a huge stick. Thankfully, your filters are still holding in place and turning back every entry attempt.' This was sent along with a snapshot of the aforementioned agents and a quick rundown on the organizations they represented.

'As always, My Lady, your group has gone beyond what anyone could ask and you have my deepest thanks. I don't believe any of these entities represent an actionable problem at this time, but I would appreciate your keeping tabs on them.'

'Of course, My Lord. Our teams are on a rotating 24/7 scan coverage of these areas. Is there anything else Clan Faery and I can do for you this day?'

'Nothing specific I can think of. It seems your teams are supplying coverage that is overlapping the region nicely and once again, you have my deepest thanks for your continuing vigilance.'

'Call on our Clan at need, My Lord, we shall surely answer.'

As this contact ended, Police Detectives Rick Fields and Stan Costanza pulled into the curb in the 'snoop-mobile', as Stan had nicknamed the car, while FBI Agent Lisa Altman waltzed around the corner and headed for Angelo's Bakery with that beatific 'I-got-so-lucky-last-night' look plastered all over her face, all the while walking a bit bowlegged.

Mike snickered just a tiny bit as he saw this and sent, 'Morning troops, how's everyone doing?'

The returned, 'Great, fine and Oh, My, God, ' cracked Mike up into helpless laughter for a moment.

Once he'd recovered a smidge, he turned to Rick and asked, "So Detective, how's your better half doing this fine day?"

At this, Altman wasn't the only one sporting that beatific grin, as Rick said, "Alice is doing super, if you must know, ya snoop," then tossed out, "I swear I think she's single handedly running Henry's entire campaign and I don't have a clue where she gets the energy from. I've been trying to help her out as I get the time and just that, wears me out."

"Yeah, it's looking like Henry's going to be a shoo-in for the Mayor's slot, because I've never seen poll numbers like that, ever," Mike replied.

"Boy oh boy, you aren't kidding. They're as close to ninety eight percent as anything I've ever seen. Looks like a landslide for sure," quipped Rick.

"Yep, sure does. You know we could actually wind up with an independent majority in the State Senate and House this time around. A lot of those recalled posts are running unopposed. Guess the major parties couldn't find anyone that could pass the 'Horns-of-Shame' test and wanted to toss their hats in the ring," Mike snickered.

Rick chuckled back and added, "Makes it pretty tough to try giving a speech while scratching like mad at your forehead."

"At least we'll have a fair shot at getting a good crop of civil servants out of this recall election instead of the usual megalomaniac crowd," Mike said.

"I still can't wait to see the outcome when Henry goes head-to-head with the city labor unions the first time. I'm betting those fat cats are in for one heck of a surprise," tossed out Stan.

Mike chuckled back, "Bet you could make a killing on pay-per-view if they'd video tape it."

About this time Lisa exited Angelo's place toting a mighty fair sized sack with a baker's dozen Bolos de Sol pastries and a couple of carafes of Margarethe's love. Of course this reminded all the boys that it was break time and Mike yelled at his dad, "Hey Pop, we're headed for Angelo's, you want anything?"

"Sure Son, a Bolo and cup of Marga's love would go down sweet about now," replied Gordan Kilian with a grin, "just try not to be gone all morning, OK?"

"You got it Pops, back in five," Mike responded with his own answering grin in place.

For the rest of this story, you need to Log In or Register

Story tagged with:
Fiction / High Fantasy /