The Evening News

By Zi Jian

Naturally, breaking news occurs during a season premier. Looks like they'll have to wait for a rerun or watch the episode online to find out if Doctor Godwin's experimental treatment will kill his son or not. A shame, the credits had just started rolling when the "Leo 2 Action News" logo popped up.

"What do you think it is this time?" One brother, the elder of the two, turned to the other.

The younger swallowed a bit of popcorn before speaking, "Probably a car chase again."

"They wouldn't pre-empt In Godwin's Hands for a stupid car chase, Ian."

"Political scandal again?"

"Nah, they wouldn't use the 'action' news logo, it'd be something like 'state of emergency' or 'national crisis.'"

The screen cut to a female newscaster. "Good evening, I am Terra Young reporting live. Approximately one hour ago, a winged creature was sighted in the West Coast city of Tortuga Verde. It has been hovering in the downtown region since."

"Great…Want to change it, Eric?"

"To what? Everyone'll be covering it." The older brother sat back in the couch.

The reporter continued, "Leo 2's own John Quincy in on-location at the scene. John?"

The screen cut to a field reporter in an olive green suit and red bowtie. Behind him was the base of a skyscraper. "Thank you, Terra. As you can see behind me every few minutes, the creature has been making rounds over the downtown section of the city. It is unknown what the creature is interested in at this moment." The camera panned to the sky, trying to show the tops of as many buildings as possible. It wasn't many, three and a half to four depending on how the camera moved. It seemed like the cameraman was trying to keep his balance.

Terra's voice was played without cutting back to the studio. "Has it been identified yet, John?"

"Not yet, I am afraid. It is unknown whether or not it is a salamander or a wyvern. From the fact it is flying, we can tell it is not a dragon. To remind viewers unaware of creature biology, dragons are incapable of flight. Wyverns and salamanders are."

"Have the KNIGHTS been contacted?"

"Yes, local television and radio stations are currently airing a message—" A massive winged creature flew through the air. It had a fifty foot wingspan, at least. Its body was long and slender, but its arms were short with tiny, three fingered claws. Its legs and feet were much more muscular, easily capable of picking up and crushing a small car. The creature's snout was long and pointed with a thin, jagged horn at the tip, while a pair of white horns grew from the top of its head.

"Oh, my! That's quite a monster!" Terra shouted.

"Yes, this is indeed one of the larger varieties. As I was saying, there is currently an announcement over all televisions and radios in the area. They are urging people to stay calm, remain indoors and evacuate any building over ten stories in the downtown area."

Eric spoke up, "It's a wyvern!"

"No, I think it's a salamander," Ian said before stuffing a handful of popcorn in his mouth.

"What makes you so sure?"

"Because salamanders are cool," Ian said.

"Wanna bet on it?"

"How much?"

"I get to play the Playmaster 4D anytime I want for a week if I'm right, no arguments." Eric said.

"Okay, and I get it for a week if I'm right." Ian held out his hand. Eric gave it a quick shake before turning up the volume.

As John was giving a summary of the situation, the creature landed on a skyscraper behind him. It circled in place with its hind legs around the center of the building.

"John…John, behind you… What's it doing?"

"I believe, and I'm not quite sure," John said, the camera closed up on him. He quickly made a motion to go back to filming the creature. "But, I believe this shows that it is a female, Terra. It may have chosen the Tetsudo Tower as a nesting ground…Oh! Turn the camera that way! The right! The right!" The camera turned and zoomed in on a small-sized helicopter in the sky. The metal it was made of was highly reflective. "That would be KNIGHTS. KNIGHTS seems to have arrived on the scene, Terra."

"Now, the proper protocol should be to see how the creature reacts upon being approached, is that correct, John?"

"Yes, this helicopter is remote controlled with strobe light mounted on the front. It will turn on the light when near the creature to see how much of a threat it poses."

The camera followed the helicopter as it neared the building and creature. The light began to flash. When the helicopter was within thirty feet of the creature, it let out a frightful roar. Flames erupted from its mouth in a long stream, barely missing the helicopter. It began to circle back, away from the creature.

"Oh, I believe that confirms that this is indeed a salamander," John said. "Not a wyvern, but a salamander."

"Yes!" Ian threw his arms in the air. "Playmaster for a week!"

Eric groaned. "And Carjack V comes out tomorrow…"

"I get to play first!"

"No you don't! You have the system, not the games!"

"Come on!"

"Quiet and watch the dragon!" Eric said, pointing the remote at the television.


"Shut up."

On the television, John continued reporting as the camera focused on the salamander. "…To recap, a salamander is currently atop the Tetsudo Tower in Tortuga Verde. KNIGHTS has arrived on the scene, there is no cause for—"

"John, I'm sorry, we're just getting word that KNIGHTS is making a televised announcement regarding this incident. We are going live to KNIGHTS Leader Arthur Vandal."

The feed cut to a conference room. A man in a white suit stood behind a podium. Pinned to his coat was a silver shield engraved with a sword and medieval helmet. "Good evening, I am Arthur Vandal, Vice-Captain of KNIGHTS. As you are all aware, a salamander has perched atop of the Testudo Tower in Tortuga Verde. A KNIGHTS remote copter has confirmed that it is a female salamander, she seems to be preparing to lay her eggs. Salamanders lay their eggs on the highest point they can find and will remain there until the eggs hatch, leaving only rarely for food and water. Questions?"

Various reporters raised their hands. Arthur pointed to one. "Why has this salamander chosen to nest in Tortuga Verde rather than one of the volcanic islands off the coast of the city?"

Arthur spoke, "I'm glad you asked that. Salamanders, unlike wyverns, live in large colonies. However, in cases like this, this salamander may have been ostracized from her colony and has chosen the highest point in the nearest city to nest."

"Does this salamander pose an immediate threat to the city?"

"No," Arthur said. "Salamanders, though they breathe fire, are not the type to attack unless provoked. She will, however, be very protective of her nest and will lash out at any nearby aircraft. As the towers are out of any normal flight path, and most planes coming in would be too high anyway, it should not affect air travel in the city."

"What will be done to remove the salamander?"

"Due to the Creature Protection Act, passed by congress in 1994, KNIGHTS can no longer 'slay' any dragon, wyvern or salamander that does not pose an immediate threat to the general public. We are going to work with city officials in a plan to simply tranquilize and transport her and her eggs to another location. This will not harm her in any way."

Eric rolled his eyes. "Stupid animal rights activists, it's an endangered species, yeah, but it breathes fire!"

"Actually, it's two glands in their mouths that—"

"I know, I know. Fine, it secretes fire." Eric said. "At least it's not a wyvern… One attacks at least one or two cities every year."

"Why do people even live near a wyvern habitat?"

"Like Mom says, 'the same reason trailer parks exist in areas prone to tornados.'"

The camera cut back to Terra. "That is all for our coverage of the Tortuga Verde salamander. We now return to In Godwin's Hands, already in progress."

Quickly, Eric grabbed the remote from Ian and turned off the television.

"Turn it back on!"

"I don't wanna watch it if I missed the first twenty minutes…Stupid salamander."



Eh…This is sort of a mini-series-that-may-turn-non-mini thing I've been toying with, a modern day medium-to-high fantasy genre parody. The story behind this idea is simple: I wondered how news coverage of a dragon would be handled.

This is an idea I'm mostly just playing with, if I choose to turn it into a full-fledged project these chapters will serve as prologues. I posted this for feedback on whether or not I should go that far. If you think it's a dumb idea or have some constructive criticism, feel free to say so. I'm not the type to get angry over criticism, and I don't like continuing bad ideas beyond one or two chapters.

Oh, one last note: I hate the title "Modern Magic." I just couldn't think of anything other than "Untitled Collection of Fantasy Short Stories Set In Modern Times." I apologize for the title.

-Zi Jian

Edit 4-4-09 - Thanks to Lynn K. Hollander for a tip on a line regarding the brothers' age. Edited to comply with her suggestion.