WarSpell: The Merge – Snippet 05
11:50 PM EST, Dec 30
8:50 PM PST
Fresno, CA, KGWN Studio sound stage
“What’s this?” Carla Jackson asked, holding up a sheet.
“It’s the White House’s ‘no comment,’ ” John Granger said. “The lid was on and everyone had gone home when this happened. Everyone is being called in but no one seems to know anything.”
“Figures,” Carla muttered. She wasn’t a fan of the present administration. Then the door opened and she looked up. “Hey, Tim,” Carla said as she saw KGWN’s weather man come in the door. “What are you doing here?”
“Trying to find out what’s going on. I was at dinner when my son insisted that something was going on. It’s all over the internet.”
“I know, but we don’t have that much yet. The number of incidences are growing exponentially as the effect–whatever it is–spreads.”
“Do you have a plot?”
“No, not yet,” Granger said. “Maybe you can work something up for us. Meanwhile, Carla, the network has another report. This one out of New York, monitor three.”
On monitor three, a green dragon was sitting in the middle of a New York intersection, picking its teeth with what appeared to be a knight’s lance. It puffed smoke and said, “Sometimes the dragon wins.” Then a cop walked right through it.
Carla laughed. “Someone has a sense of humor.”
“What’s the White House saying?” Tim asked.
11:55 PM EST, Dec 30
White House Conference Room
In the White House, Christopher Warren, the President’s Chief of Staff, had been listening in on the conversation between Generals Kramer and Everett. When he was sure Joshua Everett was off the line he said, “Let me get this straight, General. We have Secret Service agents in the President’s bedroom because a friend of yours believes in terrorist wizards and thinks they might attack the President?”
“Yes, sir,” said Joe Kramer.
Captain Jack Wiggins, the night duty officer at the White House was pointing at the television screen, where a winged horse was sailing majestically along about a hundred feet off the ground. On it was a young lady dressed in a fancy cocktail dress.
After watching for a few moments, Chris spoke again. “Find out, General. Find out if it’s true. Find out what we can do about it if it is. Find out fast.” He hung up the phone. “Captain, I want the Chiefs and the Secretaries of Defense and State in the situation room in one hour. Someone turn up the sound on that thing.”
Mike Seals looked out at the camera with an expression of concern. “We’re getting these reports from all over the eastern seaboard and they seem to be expanding to the rest of the country too. No one knows what they mean. The most common reports, by far, are of sudden miraculous healings, especially of wounds or from surgeries. After that, the reports are mostly about flying things. We have reports of people flying like birds, sometimes with wings and sometimes without. There are several reports of people riding on winged horses. The horses are mostly pale or white, often translucent. However, there are some more threatening events. There have been several unexplained deaths.”
“Captain, have we heard anything normal, yet?” Chris asked. “Anything that might explain what’s going on without resorting to fantasy?”
“Not a thing, Mr. Warren. There’s no new military threat from anyone, as far as we know.”
“Drugs in the water supply?”
“There’s no way you could get a drug into all the water supplies at once, sir,” Captain Jack Wiggins answered. “They would have had to have hit hundreds of separate water supplies across fifteen or twenty states by now and… No, sir, it’s just not possible.”
“Less possible than that?” Chris asked, pointing at a picture of a golden dragon in Central Park, New York City.
“Yes, sir. Less possible than that. We have an F-16 pilot report of a green dragon flying near him for a few moments. He was at thirty thousand feet when this started and had been in the air for an hour. We pulled the pilot in for psych testing, but at this point I’d guess he is going to pass just fine. Sir, I don’t want to believe it either, but so far General Everett’s explanation is the best we have.”
“So I’m supposed to go tell the President that the reason the Secret Service is in his bedroom is we believe that magic works and wizards may attack at any moment? Captain, I’ve known the President for years. He is a damn fine man, maybe even a great man, but St. Francis of Assisi he ain’t.”
12:42 AM EST, Dec 31
Pentagon, Office of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff
“Major Sullivan reporting as ordered, sir.” The slightly overweight major saluted. Mike Sullivan had been rushed to General Kramer’s office at the Pentagon at record speed. The surprise was that he was already in his office when Joe Kramer called for him after midnight. Apparently he had come in on his own after whatever this was started.
“At ease, Major,” General Kramer said. “Have a seat, and a cup of coffee, if you need one. It’s been a long night, and it’s going to get longer, I expect.”
“Sir, I’m fine. In fact, I feel great.”
“Who did you Merge with, Major? Whose memories did you get?” Joe Kramer asked it bluntly. Major Sullivan’s reaction might help him decide if Josh Everett had gone buggy. Sullivan first looked startled, then relieved. The major’s look clearly said “How did you know?” rather than “What are you talking about?”
“Yes, we know about it,” Joe said, responding to Sullivan’s unasked question. “It’s happening all over. Josh Everett suggested I call you when he gave his report. I need to know how many magic users we have, and what they can do. And I need someone to explain it to me, and to the President.”
Mike Sullivan was nodding. “I’ll be happy to help, sir,” he agreed. He paused and thought a moment. “I know quite a bit about the game and what spells are likely to be available. What do you need?”
“Josh said there were spells that could protect places like the White House and other targets a terrorist might go after. Do you know any of them? Can you do it?”
Mike shook his head. “I’m familiar with the spells as a Game Master, but I can’t do magic. I wish I could, sir, I really do. Unfortunately, the character I combined with isn’t a mage.”
“What about the people you play the game with? Will they be any help?”
Mike looked uncomfortable for a moment. After straightening his shoulders, he looked General Kramer in the eyes. “Yes, sir. One will and a couple of others will also have useful spells. One of the people I was gaming with tonight is running a twentieth level natural wizard, and that’s the character she combined with. She’ll have the right spells.”
“Then what’s the problem? Call her,” General Kramer encouraged, moving his phone to the edge of his desk. “We’ve called everyone in, but the recall probably isn’t finished yet. Call her. I don’t care where she is. We’ll get her up here. We need to protect the President, right now.”
Still looking a bit uncomfortable, Mike took the phone and dialed a series of numbers. “Airman Matthews, this is Major Sullivan.” A pause then. “Jeannie, they know about whatever it was that happened tonight.”
Even General Kramer could hear the silence over the phone.
“It’s okay, Jeannie, really it is. We really need Shofar. We need to protect the White House.” Another pause. “Right. I’ll do what I can from here.”
Looking up at General Kramer, Mike Sullivan blushed. “It’s not what you think, sir. I don’t have a relationship with her; not that sort. She’s just really good at the game and plays regularly. That’s all.”
“Who is she, Captain? And where is she? We need her here, now. I’m not going to worry about fraternization at a time like this.”
“She’s Senior Airman Jeannie Matthews, sir, and she works in the personnel office. She tried to report the Merge to her boss and is confined to the break room next to her duty station right now. They, according to the sergeant who got to the office first, ‘don’t have time for nutcases right now.’ We’ll need to get her out of the unofficial office arrest the sergeant in charge of her section has her in.”
“Hand me that phone.”
When the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army calls the Commander of the Records Section at the Pentagon, he tends to be listened to. He mentioned the President, the White House and the need for speed. The commander promptly called the Staff Sergeant who was Jeannie Matthews’ immediate supervisor. Jeannie Matthews would be waiting in the Pentagon parking area.
12:54 AM EST, Dec 31
Pentagon Parking Area
Jeannie Matthews was a real surprise to General Kramer. He saw her waiting under the awning when he arrived. She saluted and he noticed that she was a tiny little thing who couldn’t be more than eighteen or nineteen years old, and probably weighed about a hundred pounds soaking wet, as well. But there was an assurance about her–an aura of power, he thought–and she had a self-confidence that was admirable, considering the circumstances.
General Kramer returned her salute just as the staff car pulled in. He got in and motioned for her to join him. When she slid into the car, he started asking questions. “What do you know about all this? What kind of magic do you have?”