Later -- some months later in fact ...

"What is that?" Someone asks.

My children gather near. In a hurry, too. My worry is sensed by them more quickly than even I acknowledge it.

Standing outside, after a strange explosion that wasn't quite what anyone expected, there is a creature on the lawn of the building. Big, bigger than most land animals. Its blood...

I am taken aback. It's blood is like nothing I have encountered.

"Someone broke reality," Bradley mutters. He stares at the creature and tells me, "that's a dragon. But we don't have those."

"No, indeed you do not," I comment. "Then where is it from?" I say, flatly. Something about this creature bothers me. But, it's rider is human enough, and it has perhaps a new challenge to present to me.

Foreign Viruses. They do not originate from this world! Stunned for a moment, and then realizing my potential as both a conqueror and a savior, I step outside through the sliding doors of the lobby.

My children hover behind me, silent. Waiting. If they sense other things more specific to their own vision, they will tell me about it. They say nothing at the moment, meaning that we cannot determine the types of diseases this creature and his rider bring.

"Hold where you are," I say, holding up my hand as if I know what I'm doing. I had seen someone do this on a television show not a couple days before. "What is your business here?"

While the human on the dragon's back untangles himself from riding gear, I am so busy. Here is a contact from another world - another planet obviously, but not just that... Another place so like my origin that I cannot help but think -

"I am here looking for suitable candidates," the man says. "The nexus portal that was opened a few days ago has let a lot of us into this world. Sorry to bother you. Is this a hospital?" He turns to his great blue-colored dragon, and asks, "you brought us to an infirmary? Why? We can't search injured or sick people... You know better than that!"

"We are neither sick nor injured," I tell him. Bradley comes to my side, but is more enthralled with the dragon's handsome, muscular rider than anything else. How typical. How lovely...

Inside me, however, I worry that I might not be able to prevent a spread of these foreign diseases he's carried through his nexus and to this world - MY world!

As the Europeans brought smallpox and diseases unknown to the New world, this man had just brought his own plague right to me.

This body I have on, it can do many things. I force it to produce wave upon wave of different receptor cells. Which one might kill off the invaders? I won't know until I get closer.

Unlike myself, his viruses do not have a coherent self-mind. A shame. Perhaps... perhaps I was like them, in my own infancy. His diseases will not kill most people - but just in case I spread out an airborn mesh of strands that meet his own breath's cadre of bacteria and viruses.

They breed. And I have a new child - one which will have to remain nameless because I've left the Latin dictionary back in the dorm. I suspect she will be something like Nexus...something. No time to think about that.

Smiling suddenly, I push my hand out to his. He wears a thick leather glove, but takes it off before he greets me. Clever boy. How nice of him.

"I'm T'kel of Dragonsoul, on search. We've some... Unusual dragons at this point, all waiting in eggs on the dunes. Their mother(*s*) are getting a bit impatient."

"What ever for?" I ask, purely curious. Nothing like this has ever happened even in my long memory.

"To bond to the dragons, of course," he answers. Bradley is drooling. Poor boy. It's catching up to him, that he's been sequestered in a vitally-sick ward for the last year of his life. Never seeing more than a couple friends... Now here is this fantastically charming rider on a mythic creature in the flesh. I can hardly blame him.

"To bond. As you ride? There is something more to it than riding a chosen one?"

"Of course. It's ... well, Darrieth can explain. Can't you?" The rider looks at his blue dragon and the creature looks to me.

**You, and your ... offspring? Physical and mental readiness mean much. I worry. None of you are like anything I have ever searched, yet you are why I am here. I do not like the things you do. But you will come along, and find a companion. We are not pets. Not ... like this boy might be...To you or my rider.** the dragon speaks to me, inside my mind!

Stunned, surprised, and a little angry that it could take memories of my activities (not that it could possibly understand them, not on a molecular level as I do) I just look back at the whirling eyes of the creature, and then to Bradley, who seems to be fawning for attention from the rider.

"He is my pet for the moment, but I'm sure that he'll be on his way. I have no quarrel with that."

A little yeep of surprise comes from Bradley's mouth, and an embarrassed blush creeps over his face. Not like the sickening red-blemish marks that would have been there weeks before, but a nice healthy glowing blush. It is shared by the rider T'kel, I do not think he is of the same bent as my Bradley.

"It is perfectly all right with me, you know that. We... have little to collect here, save perhaps another piece of clothing or some trinkets." I glance behind me and see my children nodding assent. "You will have to fill me in on where we are going. And, how we are to get there."

**We will have to retrieve several others, to carry your children. While I go, you should collect your things. We will be traveling between spaces. It is very cold during travel in the nexus. I hope you do not perish.** The sarcasm in the dragon's mind is painfully obvious, apparently the dragons of that world would teleport to dislodge flesh-eating parasites dropped from another planet onto theirs. Freezing it.

"I certainly hope I do not," I tell the dragon. "Then there is one more thing I must do first. I shall be back shortly. Bradley? Enjoy yourself..."

He grins widely and goes back to talking with the rider, while I make one more round through the hospital. Is it to say good bye to those who brought me to life? No, most of them have retired by now. Definitely to make sure that my work is continued.

I notice that my children are doing the same thing. Almost wordlessly we go about collecting what little we have here but I watch my children do it first, before finishing my own last look.

Candidiasis seems the friendliest and touches her friends often. Pylori seems as though he'd rather sulk but learns from the dragon and rider that their lives will change and it's a high-stress universe out there. He perks up after that. After all, stress makes his work so much easier. Escher, ah, Escher. The worlds of dragons don't have microwaves and certainly don't have much in the way of anti-biotic cleaning supplies. He'll be having a field day. Cholera and Typhoid must move carefully, because they seem to know people mistrust them by name alone. Perhaps they should change what they want people to call them before we arrive. And Vari. Variola comes to my side where Bradley has left it.

"We are going somewhere new, father?" He asks.

"That is how it's looking." I tell him. "You and the others must behave. Think of the travels we can have, the tours of duty... All the places to see. All the things we can conquer."

Their six healthy, bright faces shine back to me. Several other dragons have come to the courtyard, and each of us climbs aboard. I notice that Bradley left with the dragon, the first time, apparently he's going away too, but not as a candidate, merely as a tourist.

Now, our adventures begin in earnest...

Virus chooses not to keep an eye on his pet, rather he wants to see what is happening at the Ring of Fire locale possibly to bond, as well as to see what new children he might be able to create! Go visit his new digs, where he's set up with his new Bond.

Cholera has bonded at the Ring of Fire, where her father paired!

Variola (Smallpox) heads to the Braethas Raug hatching on Danach!

Typhoid is hoping to bond a sea-worthy dragon, or at least a river-dweller at the Healing Den.

Candidiasis loves the weather and the charming people of the Valentine's Sands at Cy Dragonstake!

Escherichia wants to help cook out at Lantessama Isle!

Pylori is sure that the high-stakes Keltic Rose Isle is best for him.