WarSpell: The Merge – Snippet 11
1:03 AM EST, Dec 31
10:03 PM Dec 30 PST, Fresno, California
“Okay, Andrew, Carla, on three, two, one…”
“Welcome back, everyone,” Carla Jackson said, as she smiled gravely into the cameras. “We’re here with our continuing coverage of the– Well, ‘crisis,’ I suppose. As you can see from the map insert, the event is moving across the country. We’ve got a detailed report now on an event that happened in Biloxi, Mississippi.”
The director cut to the report on a floating gambling casino that had just been robbed by person or persons unknown. Quite a bit of money had disappeared from the teller’s cage. It happened in front of a dozen witnesses. While the report was being shown, Carla turned to her co-anchor, Andrew Fenton. “Where’s the latest report from, Andrew?”
“Aspen, Colorado,” Andrew answered. “Apparently some semi-crazed fan got some kind of magic and decided he really wanted to meet that blonde singer, what’s-her-name. You know, the half naked, bump and grind girl. Ah . . .”
“Brandee,” Carla guessed. “Like using two e’s is original, honestly. Okay, so whatever it is, is getting closer by the minute, it seems.
“And when it gets here, we’ll cover it just like we’re covering all the other events,” Andrew grinned. “I don’t guess I’ll get lucky, will I? Somehow, imagining you turning into some kind of barbarian princess dressed in little more than a few gold coins kind of gives me a rush. Maybe someone will make you an illusion, like they did the Paula Abdul thing.”
Andrew sounded a little hopeful, but Carla shook her head. “I don’t think so, buddy. And get your mind out of the gutter, will you? Barbarian princess . . . Right. You should be so lucky. And, I’ll thank you to remember I’m not ‘little-miss-Brandee-with-two-e-s.’ ”
“And, three, two, one . . .” the director said.
“Your turn,” muttered Carla.
“Welcome back to the studio, folks,” Andrew said with his “just regular folk” voice. “Well, we’ve certainly got some interesting goings on here in the U.S.A. tonight. I wonder what’s next. Now, if you’ll take a look at the map our weatherman has been preparing, you’ll notice that our latest report comes from Aspen, Colorado. Let me draw a line here, and you can see that this thing isn’t happening at a steady rate. Now, we don’t know why, yet. It just could be that events aren’t being reported yet. We’ll probably know tomorrow. Whatever it is, though, it’s headed this way. In fact, because of the time it takes to get the reports in, it may be closer than we think. Carla, back to you for the report on Aspen.”
“In Aspen,” Carla began. She fell silent for a moment. Suddenly, she had the memories of Eowina, a Bowna natural wizard. The Bowna are the bad elves in the WarSpell game. They were difficult to detect in the games, because they looked like any elf. Their hair tended to be bright and the ears were pointed. Carla didn’t see it happening, but over a hundred thousand viewers and everyone else in the studio did.
Her skin was normally light brown, now it lightened about a shade and a half as the viewing audience watched. It wasn’t their TVs either, because Carla’s hair had gone from mid-brown to a brighter tint with gleaming highlights. Her eyes had gone from brown to hazel with green predominating. Her ears, at least the left one which the side camera could see went from round to not exactly pointed, but definitely pointier. All of it happened in the blink of an eye, on camera, under bright lights. Neither her clothing nor the background changed, so it was obvious that the change was in her, not the cameras.
What the cameras could see was, of course, the least of it. The memories of her two lives merged and blended. She was a natural wizard, but she was also a news woman and she had just become part of the story. Professionalism is a strange thing.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Carla continued, “I’m almost certain I have just experienced whatever has been happening tonight. I have the memories of Eowina and those memories indicate that I can do magic. When I was in college I used to goof off by playing a game called WarSpell. One of my favorite characters was a Bowna, a type of elf, who had given up the evil of her tribe and struggled to become good. What I remember from the game sort of matches what I remember of Eowina’s life.” Carla didn’t mention that Eowina was over six hundred years old and that her change of heart was recent and not all that firm. Eowina loved, or at least lusted after, a handsome intercessor of Noron and was reforming to please him as much as anything.
In the control room, John Granger saved the b-roll from camera 3 that captured the side shot of Carla’s left ear at the moment of her change. He set Marge Davis to expanding the images digitally. Then he started typing.
By the time Carla finished her description, Marge had the sequence ready and John said, “Camera 2, stay on Carla, Camera 1, head shot on Fenton. Carla, pass it to Andy on my mark. Andy, read it from the prompter, intro, then the replay.
“On my mark people, five… four…”
“But right now,” Carla said as John continued his count, “I’m giving this to Andrew Fenton, who is going to show you some footage. Andrew.”
“Camera 1,” John said as he switched the camera two more buttons. “Okay. You’re off camera and mike quiet. What the fuck happened?”
“I don’t know. Some sort of Insithinile, spell, I think. But to do this over a continent, it’s more than even most Diume, gods, could manage.”
“In-sith-emly?” John asked “Die-you-me?”
“As I said ‘roughly, spell and gods.’ But we don’t mean the same things by those words that you do. That is why I first used the more precise elven words.”
“What do you mean?” John asked as Andy was describing the slow motion replay of Carla’s change.
“We don’t have the year it would take to explain.” Carla shook her head. There was a note of disdain in her voice that John had never heard before, at least not from Carla.
Meanwhile, Andy finished the bit and went to commercial. “What the fuck?”
Carla turned with lightning speed and her hand came up. Then she stopped as Andy backed his chair almost off the stage.
“Do not take that tone with me,” Carla hissed in a tone that would make an angry snake envious.
“Carla?” Roy Carson asked from off camera. John sympathized. In a way she was Carla, but at the same time she wasn’t.
Carla’s face changed, her expression becoming less alien. “It’s still me, Roy. At least mostly. John, we have a report to finish. We need all the info research can get on WarSpell, Runequest, WBCG, and other fantasy role playing games. Because so far everything I know fits with what’s in the game. In the same way that Sesame Street is a news program, but it still fits.”
“Okay, Carla. I think I can follow that. The games are a simplified version of the world they represent. And magic works in those games?”
Carla held up a hand and a small ball of flame appeared above it.
Marge spoke then. “Commercial’s ending in five…”
Quickly, everyone went back to their seats and they went back to reporting on whatever was happening, with Carla filling both the roles of expert and newswoman.
01:15 AM EST, Dec 31
White House, Situation Room
“General Kramer, you have a call from Brigadier General Stanley Watkins at Benning.”
“Right,” Joe checked his watch. “He’s late. Doesn’t matter though. We have more confirmation anyway.”
“General Watkins, what do you have for me?” Joe Kramer asked.
“I’ve seen the centaur, sir,” Stanley Watkins reported, “and I’m convinced that a Merge . . . or something . . . like General Everett described has happened.”
Joe caught a hesitation about Watkins statement. “What are you leaving out, general?”
“It’s General Everett, sir. I’ve known him for years. And I’ve been working closely with him for the last few months, ever since he took command. The way he acts, the way he moves, since the Merge . . . it is him and yet it isn’t.”