WarSpell: The Merge – Snippet 07
“Who briefs?” James asked. “Madeleine or me?” Madeleine Redbear was the Press Secretary for the Maguey administration.
“For now, sir, let’s make it Madeleine. You’re too busy. No offense to Airman Matthews here, but there is still a chance someone is playing with us.” James gave Chris a look, the one he used when Chris’ political paranoia went over the top. “Okay, sir, I don’t really believe it but…”
“Right, Chris. The Press Secretary will brief. Jeannie, Chris is going to take you to Madeleine. I want you to give her a quick overview of what magic can do. When that’s done, she’ll tell the press and you’ll be called out to do whatever you just did on the pressroom.
“Chris, have Madeleine imply, but not actually say, that the Press Room is the last room in the White House to be blocked. This may be a case where having people think there’s a protection is as good as having one. Just in case it isn’t, though, Joe, I want you to find us some other people who can help Jeannie out.”
Jeannie felt a little nervous about appearing before the press corps. “Ms. Redbear, what if they give me a lot of trouble?’
“They won’t, Jeannie,” Madeleine seemed reassuring, but distracted. “I’ll stomp any of them who try and they know it. Me, they’ll give a hard time, but I don’t let them beat up on amateurs in my pressroom. Look, Jeannie,” Madeleine hesitated, “I trust Chris Warren and especially the President. I know you’re nervous. So am I. Think about it. I’m about to go out there and tell a bunch of very cynical reporters that magic from a game really works.”
“I understand, Ms. Redbear.” Jeannie looked around the press secretary’s office. It was loaded with memorabilia, everything from a peace pipe to a small jade elephant. A buffalo made of bone and apparently very old, was on a shelf. “Is there a reason that’s broken?” Jeannie pointed to the buffalo, with its neck broken off at the shoulder. “Would you object to it being fixed?”
“Object? Not hardly. My grandfather gave it to me. When Jerry Cochin, the assistant director of communications, bumped it, it nearly broke my heart.”
Jeannie led Madeleine to the shelf and made sure she could see clearly what was happening. Jeannie touched the figurine with only two fingers, one on the body and one on the neck, and used a spell called ‘repair.’ The expression on Madeleine Redbear’s face as the body and neck of the figurine came together without so much as a seam told Jeannie that she was convinced.
“All right, Jeannie. You do the magic and leave the explaining to me.” Madeleine grinned. “If they don’t believe now, they will in a few days.”
Being exposed in the public spotlight–Jeannie shuddered at the thought. “I never wanted to be famous. Never,” she said. Jeannie took a deep breath and felt Shofar’s comforting memories. Shofar had given a lot of demonstrations in her life. Having that experience to hand was a lot of help. She still didn’t really like this, it felt too exposed, somehow. “When I was in junior high I won a prize for a poem. It kind of made me a target at school. People don’t like people who are different.”
“Don’t worry,” Madeleine comforted. “You’ll do fine.”
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Madeleine Redbear said from the podium, “I’m going to tell you what we know and what we’ve done so far. You won’t believe me, but I’m going to tell you anyway and if you start calling me a liar you’re going to have a lot of egg to wipe off in a few days. Be careful and get it right.
“We know that some type of event is taking place, although we don’t know what caused it. For some unknown reason, magic has started working. It’s spreading, too. We just got in a report from New Mexico, and magic has started working there. All our military bases are being alerted as we speak. As if that part wasn’t hard enough to believe, we are fairly sure now that the magic that has started working is not the magic of Merlin, but magic from a game. Specifically, it’s the role playing game WarSpell. The magic from other similar games may also be working but we are not certain of that. WarSpell we are sure about. We don’t know why this happened. We don’t know how, either, so there’s not much point in asking those questions at this time. I’ll answer the questions I can answer, but don’t ask me to speculate, please.” Madeleine pointed to the NBC White House correspondent. “You first, Sam.”
“Madeleine, what is the President doing about this?”
“As I said, the President has put military bases on alert. He has ordered that all personnel who can now do magic refrain from doing so unless absolutely necessary. He’s ordered base and unit commanders to find out which of the personnel under their command can do what. We’re also securing vital areas against the possibility of magical attack,” Madeleine answered. “Next.” Madeleine indicated the CNN correspondent.
“Madeleine, my son plays WarSpell,” the CNN correspondent hesitated. “What does that mean?”
“Just a second.” Madeleine motioned Jeannie over, and whispered
“What about it, Jeannie? John Durham’s son is fourteen years old.”
“It’s likely that his son is Merged. He might be awake from what he thinks was a nightmare. Or, he’ll wake up in the morning with the memories of someone considerably older. I have the memories of Shofar who is thirty-eight.” Jeanie hesitated. “Among other things, I remember what it’s like to kill someone up close and personal while they’re trying to do it to me. The odds are so will his son, no matter what character he played.”
“Shit. Well, don’t tell him that last part,” Madeleine thought for a moment. Forehead creased, she said, “All right, I wasn’t expecting this. We’re going to push your little demonstration up a bit. Then, as gently as you can, explain what he’s dealing with.”
Madeleine went back to the podium. “We have an expert. Senior Airman Jeannie Matthews of the United States Air Force Merged with a very powerful natural wizard named Shofar. Airman Matthews has been putting protection spells over the White House. Partly as a demonstration, she’s going to do that for this room. The spell, which is called ‘translocation block,’ is designed to forbid unauthorized entry into the White House.” Madeleine smiled as she motioned Jeannie forward.
Jeannie hesitantly moved forward into the center of the room. The pressroom was fairly large and would be easier to protect if she started from the center. Doing her best to appear calm, Jeannie found that Shofar’s memories helped again. She could almost hear Timmin, Shofar’s teacher, telling her “Just imagine that they’re frogs. And remember, if they annoy you too much, they might well end up frogs.”
“Before she does anything else, Jeannie is going to put a ‘translocation block’ on this room. When she’s finished, she’ll answer John’s question and a few more. Not many, though. She’s had quite a night already, protecting the White House.”
Jeannie, at Madeleine’s cue, cast the spell. As the pale purple glow spread over the room she could hear the reporters muttering to one another. Finally, she went to the podium to answer questions.
“Airman Matthews,” John Durham asked, “can you tell me what effect this is going to have on my son?”
“I can’t say for sure, Mr. Durham. But from what we’ve learned so far, the most likely thing is that your son has experienced the Merge like I did. What that means is that he will suddenly have the memories and abilities of one of the characters he’s played in WarSpell. We’re not sure exactly how it works, but he probably Merged with his most recent character. That’s not certain, not yet.” Jeannie stopped for a moment. She wanted to reassure the man but she didn’t want to make promises that she wasn’t sure were true. “For me it’s been a mostly enriching experience. Partly it’s the abilities, but it’s also added another perspective.”
The reporters started buzzing to one another and Madeleine let it go on for a few moments. “Any other questions?”
CBS correspondent Alvin Durtz was waving his hand in the air along with everyone else. “Alvin,” Madeleine pointed.
“Airman Matthews, what about the gods of the fantasy worlds? Did they Merge, too?”
“We don’t know yet.” Jeannie wondered where he’d gotten the information to ask that question. “Apparently some spells did. There have been several healings and that’s generally magic that’s given by one of the gods. But that doesn’t mean that the gods that provided the spells have access to our world. We won’t know that until the people who have Merged with intercessors pray for their spells. That generally happens around dawn.”
Next Madeleine called on the New York Times reporter. “Airman Matthews, how much of the White House is protected?”
Madeleine interrupted before Jeannie could say anything. “We’re not answering questions about which facilities are protected. Every time someone uses a spell to try to get into a protected place, they waste their spell, according to what we’ve heard so far.”
“Claude Simmons, Dallas Morning News. Madeleine said the President has ordered military personnel to refrain from unnecessary use of magic. Was that to hold down the confusion caused by whatever it was that happened?”
“Partly. It was also to conserve magic for where it’s really needed,” Jeannie answered. “It would probably be a good idea for civilians to show similar restraint. Book wizards, especially, have only what they have crafted.”