Gunther Hagen has invited us back to Chicago, and he asked us to kill his son Ralph – or what is left of Ralph. Looking at Old Man Hagen’s eyes, above his oxygen mask, made me think of the last moments of Simeon Rieker.
By the time I reached Rieker, he was on the way out, and his eyes were full of fear about the debts he would have to pay to those he borrowed his power from. And he had borrowed a lot of power. Rieker died in another dimension, where he somehow had gained control over a mighty undead dragon. Rieker had hounded us for months, he had fought a destructive war against not only the Academy, but also the Olympians and I suspect would have next turned on the G. He was walking the tightrope on the way to ultimate power, but Rieker had slipped long before we killed him.
Rieker created a foe that would destroy him. The Chicago Campus’ time in exile provided us the opportunity to prove that Greater Vampires exist, to gather tools to use against the threat, to bring the Academy to war for the first time in 90 years. Once we did that, our own deaths would not have saved Rieker. And after that last battle, the tide has turned. Without the evil sourness at the Lebanon, Kansas site, the Nexii are rebalancing. The New Future Force is collapsing following Rieker and Usher removal. I’m confident we will win out against the New Future Force across the States. It is now time to return to Chicago – and here is Gunther Hagen wanting the Academy to re-establish in his city.
Beware an old man in a hurry. It isn’t the goodness in Hagen’s heart that invites us back; he wants us to clean house for him. It seems that something has rotted in the Olympians behind the Chicago Wall during our absence, and their leader, Ralph, has been usurped with something beyond the power of a normal possession. Old Man Hagen’s faction of the Chicago Olympians must be out-gunned, or he wouldn’t need us to do the job.
Yet what motivates Gunther? Is it a desire to return to power? That seems unlikely: it is obvious he is close to the end himself. Perhaps, Hagen has identified a new heir to the Chicago Olympians, and this person needs their way cleared to the throne by us. Perhaps, just perhaps, Old Man Hagen is after redemption, something that Rieker didn’t get before his death. After 95 years, Gunther could have a few of his own debts now coming due.
Still, it matters little. Our three guides want us back in Chicago, and Raven (Charles, as he prefers we know him as) can manipulate anyone to bring that about. Over the last three years, against the odds, the Chicago Campus has become an astoundingly powerful group. Old Man Hagen may remember us as merely a constant thorn in the side of ambitious Olympians, cleaning up the mess created when individual Olympians tried to short cut their way to power, working in a community based model on a shoe-string – we are now beyond that.
We are now a force in our own right, we are no man’s flunkies. And our main mission is to secure Chicago against a threat the Olympians are unable to control. Can’t wait to get home!