Kniaz Kang’s Shanghai Marco Polo
North Cosmopolis, Washington
The sign in the parking lot announced:
Kniaz Kang’s Shanghai Marco Polo.
Featuring the finest in Chinese, Italian, and Russian Cuisines.
Invented Here — General Tso’s Pizza!
Invented Here — Il Professore’s Dessert Pizza!
It was 7:30 in the morning. The sun barely glowed over the North Cosmopolis horizon, even at a restaurant atop a hill. Inside, Kniaz Kang himself — a man who was not a prince and whose name was not actually Kang — supervised the morning help in readying his restaurant for another day. The front rooms were filled with his regulars, early risers, and high school students from the Atomic Tech branch across the street, all enjoying his superb breakfasts. After all, hash, egg rolls, borscht, and pizza are in large part based on chopping many things very finely, a skill that his employees denied was a gift. Kang turned to considering his customers and their wants.
In the morning he served high school students, and some of their teachers, though not in the same room. The isolated corner window was always reserved for the Gang of Three or So. Teranike did not discuss being what Kang knew she was, namely a Polarian from Otherearth stranded when her Empress closed the WorldGate. Teranike had taken a room upstairs, did heavy physical work for the restaurant with no complaint or sign of fatigue, and did not emphasize what she had in her suitcases. She happily ate whatever was set in front of her, but who could fault her love of General Tso’s pizza, not to mention Il Professore’s dessert pizza–double fudge. After all, those were the house specialties.
Dorothy Elizabeth Schumacher was North Cosmopolis’s best-known open persona. She had not planned to be open. However, when the assassin from the League of Terran Justice walked up to the front entrance of her private high school, screamed “Down with Private Education”, and started shooting up student automobiles, Dorothy had done what any persona should. She put up her force field, ran directly in front of the agent thus taking some dozens of rounds square in the chest, and flying — literally — tackled the loon into a wall. Hard. She was unhurt. The loon ended in a prison hospital. Dorothy confessed to being the known public persona Silk, until then most noted for having rescued dogs, small children, and a moose from various not-quite-frozen ponds.
It was not until last year, early December, that the Greater Cosmopolis Seance and Channeling Society put Dorothy on the national news. The Society had decided to channel the greatest motion picture actor in the history of Oregon. They expected to speak to Stanford Smith, who twenty centuries ago had made more than two hundred westerns and gone on to be Grand Tradesmaster of All Sarnath. The Society’s survivors were not quite clear on what had gone wrong. They obtained a physical materialization, not the expected disembodied voice. The materialization was a two hundred yard tall reptile with radioactive flame breath. It waddled majestically toward the outskirts of North Cosmopolis, incinerating everything in its path. The first three persona teams that tried to stop it were flattened.