Come El or High Water
Chapter 2

Copyright© 2010 by Ol'Mac

MONDAY 6:30 A. M "Today's Tidings" Radio Program, Chicago, IL

The Dragon sighting and subsequent photos were affecting everything.

It was The News Story and every outlet was hammering it to death.

Politicians tried in vain to get their sound bites heard, and every other major news story got pushed to the last page, if they were lucky. Even the terrorist organizations were pissed. No one seemed to be able to get a word in edgewise.

It was even creeping into places no one - in their right minds - would have expected. Like for instance, Father O'Mallys' "Today's Tidings" radio broadcast, which had been a staple of radio WMAQ for over thirty years. The normal fifteen minute devotional homily veered from it's formula pattern to include a reference to the phenomenon and urged it's listeners to welcome these new additions to God's creation.

While Father O'Mally was urging the Open Arms policy, others were even more vociferously telling their audiences that they had better be preparing for the End Of Days, because these flying abominations were surely the sign. Anyone listening for more than five minutes, was certain to be longing for their asbestos umbrellas and galoshes, convinced that brimstone from the skies was imminent.

Everywhere you turned, it seemed that some New Age crackpot or other, was vigorously crawling out of the woodwork. New Dragon based religions were popping up overnight and the SCA membership saw a massive surge in numbers especially in their Dragon Slayers Corps. All of which just went to prove the old adage that, Humans-Is-The-Craziest-Animals.

Logic and common sense, were the first tragic casualties in this ongoing circus, as truth was being brought in on a field stretcher. The prognosis for truth was anything but good. Funeral services were already pending.

MONDAY 8:30 A. M. A Safe House, Rock port, MD

After his call to The President two days before, coupled with this most recent event in Chicago, The Agent thought he should at least place some assets in the area.

He had been The Agent for nine years now and would be until the day he was killed, or died of natural causes. There was no Retirement Program in this post, as he had Officially Perished in a helicopter training exercise ten years previously - no remains recoverable. With the subsequent year then devoted to intensive plastic surgery and expunging any trace of his DNA from all known data sources. The only control The Agent had was the current President and nothing else.

He sometimes pondered the wisdom of creating an entity like himself, but then his thoughts would always lead back to the same conclusion, that the project that had created him and his predecessor must have had some of the best psych evaluators on the planet.

He could no more do anything against the interests of the United States, than he could physically jump thirty feet in the air and do a back flip. A chuckle emerged and accompanied the sardonic thought, 'Guess those PHD's do come in handy for some things.'

'Well, best to get this show on the road. Let's see, who would be a good first glance crew? Hum, how about Stanley and Mitch? No one - with a contemporary world view - would ever mistake an Uncle and his Nephew for Super Spies. Maybe hold Peter and Edith in reserve status for backup, because while Peter could spot the tiniest clue, Edith - on the other hand - could smell one a half mile away. I swear, sometimes I think she should have been a copy editor for a publisher, with six parts bloodhound thrown in for good measure.' The accompanying chuckle this time had a lighter tone to it, as the smile stole across The Agent's face. Then picking up his cell he made the calls to activate his people.

As the Chicago Dragon story flew among the worlds news outlets, so did the international reaction to it, in country after country decision makers pondered whether to activate people like The American Agent.

Nowhere else more so than in China, as Ling Chin tore through the intelligence packets and finally came to a decision. 'Tao Lin would be perfect for this assignment, not only can she speak and write idiomatic English, but she was also accomplished in regional dialects.'

Travel plans were made ... express travel.

MONDAY 9:30 A. M. CST Damn Near Everywhere on the Globe

The intelligence activity running amuck in China was being mirrored in: Germany, The UK, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and just about every other country that had a standing apparatus that could manage passable English. Even the Canadians were paying attention, eh. The Jeopardy theme song was playing loud and clear as all these special interests headed for downtown Chicago, IL. It was going to be a Hot Time in the Ol' Town Tonight for sure.

MONDAY 9:30 A.M. Office of Henry Donaldson, Special Zoning Projects Director, Chicago, IL

Alice Latham was just about ready to chew nails.

Because of the Idiotic Junior Joy Ride, it had taken her almost an entire hour to reach work this morning, and that would have made her late for the first time in nine years. 'I wonder if it's possible to kick a Dragon in the butt?' The dark tinged thought coursed through her mind, 'I can't even imagine what a zoo it must be like for Rick and Stan today out on the streets.'

Then trying to shake off the dire mood, she glanced around the office, while running a quick scan on Henry's office and the hallways. Sensing no one near except Henry in his office, she transported her small potted Flaran, or Elven Flower to her hand and took a deep sniff, feeling the incipient foul mood start to dissipate within seconds. She then brushed the leaves with a butterfly wing kiss while offering up a heartfelt thank you and transported it home to it's windowsill. The grin spreading across her face was joined by the silent justification, 'Well, other folks talk to their plants, I just think to mine and take an occasional sniff.'

At this point, her intercom buzzed with Henry's call, "Alice, could you step into the office for a second?"

"Certainly, Mr. Donaldson, I'll be right there," she replied, while scooping up her PDA and heading for the inner sanctum.

Henry grinned as she came in and then his features settled into a more serious vein, as he said, "Alice, I need to ask you a question and before I do, let me preface it by saying that your answer will in no way change our relationship one iota."

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