WarSpell Space Race – Snippet 02

“No, Jerry,” Tim said. “It was me. The old me was too studied when I was playing him. I remember it both from Tim’s point of view and Alvin’s. To Alvin, it was real. What he felt, what he saw in the other person’s eyes and in the magic fields around them. What I see in the magic fields around people and plants and everything.” Tim/Alvin remembered what he was like as both people. It was too early to tell if he would be more like Tim, the electrical engineer geek, or Alvin, the entertainer, a natural magic user who concentrated both his skills and his magic in the area of entertainment. He could play a lute and a Spanish guitar; sing and dance. And, most importantly, he could use spells to enhance all those abilities. Tim loved music, but before the Merge couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. Alvin the Bard, back in the games, was the party’s face and front man. A charming rogue that people went along with simply because he was such fun to be around.

“I’m not saying I should be in charge or anything. Alvin wasn’t actually a leader in any real sense. He was the cool kid and nice about it. I want to try to keep that part without losing the tech geek.”

Location: The Big Game, Orange County, California

Time: December 30, As the Merge reaches Los Angeles

Cynthia Westin was waiting tables in a sports bar. It wasn’t the job she wanted, but it paid the rent. Tonight, though, the big screen TV wasn’t tuned to ESPN. It was tuned to CNN, reporting on the weird stuff that was spreading across the nation. Dragons and elves and magic, oh my. All apparently heading this way. She was trying to figure out what was going on when the Merge hit.

Suddenly she remembered her life as Mandrake/Mandra the wizard. She didn’t lose Cynthia, but was now a blending of the two. She knew how magic worked. Mandra was a high-level book-wizard who always kept some spells ready, just in case. The spells were there; she could feel them. She said a word and made a quick gesture. Her tray lifted itself into the air, collected the three beers that were ordered by table five and floated across the room.

People stared.

When the tray arrived at the table the three beers floated off the tray and settled on the table. By that time the only noise in the place was the TV.

Location: Apartment Complex, Moscow

Time 11:30 AM December 31, As the Merge Hits Russia

Vasily Petrovich Sokolov played the Russian version of WarSpell in his youth. He worked in the Russian space program for even more years. And now Vasily remembered the life of twenty-three-year-old Vasily, Wizard of Rus. Vasily rode a unicorn and fought dragons. No unicorn in this world; no dragons either. But there were spaceships and Vasily knew that his magic could help with that. 

With his help, Russia was going to get back into space. It could do it now, he knew. This time it would be Russian private enterprise, though. Not the government, such as it was.         

And–though Vasily regretted it–to an extent the Russian mob would have to be involved. By now the government of Russia was made up of the mob. The mob and former KGB agents. The mobsters were into almost everything. The good news, Vasily tried to believe, was that parts of the mob were starting to try to go legit. And because they were criminals, that didn’t mean that they didn’t love Mother Russia–in their way.

Location: Penthouse, Moscow 

Time: 11:30 AM December 31, Moments Before the Merge Hits

Petr Ivanovich Kutzanov set the scotch down on the dining room table. The table was covered in books. WarSpell books in English. It took him hours to find them, but he wasn’t sure the Russian version would work. So he’d sent Boris out to find American WarSpell books.

He tried to take his mind off the news as he rolled up a twenty-year-old thirtieth-level natural magic user. But it was hard to concentrate and in spite of what he was hearing from the other side of the world, he was finding it hard to believe any of this. Nor, honestly, was he trying to believe. He didn’t have any idea whether belief or disbelief meant it worked or not, but there were reports from England that playing the game didn’t always work. People rolled up characters in England and other places, and didn’t change.

The event, a wave of magic, should be arriving soon.

In that moment, the wave passed through him with no effect at all. His rolled up character wasn’t real because he never played that character.

He kept building his character until the phone rang. It was the Kremlin. “Did you get it?”

“Nyet,” Petr said disgustedly. “I take it the wave front has passed.”

“Da. You will need to look for magic people in your group.”

Petr’s group was a piece of the Russian mob which in turn was a piece of the Russian government. Petr worked for an oligarch who was a personal friend of Pavel Torkov, the President of Russia.

Location: New Delhi, India

Time: December 31, 1:30 PM, As the Merge Hits

Devdas Sing, from the University of New Delhi, was on the phone even before the event hit India. From his contacts in the US, he understood fairly well what was going on. He had never played role playing games, and he didn’t try to now as the unexplained event spread around the world toward him and his nation. Though he was certain others would be trying, Devdas felt no desire to accept another soul into his body even if it was one gifted with magic.

He could see the possibilities, though. He found a list of common spells for WarSpell, and among the many and varied ways of killing everything from your fellow human beings to demons, he found spells that would be amazingly useful for space exploration. There were spells that produced breathable air, spells that produced potable water and food. And more, spells that could shrink things to a hundredth of their size and–more importantly–their mass, for a given period of time. Long enough to get them into orbit anyway.

Perhaps they could use the translocation spells to ship supplies and personnel to the International Space Station, a project not totally abandoned by the richer nations that half-heartedly funded it.

Now India could make a shot at space. While Devdas abhorred the possibility of war, the situation with the Moslems in Pakistan was still tense. Space platforms, he thought, would have military value even if they didn’t have nuclear warheads placed in them.

Devdas knew the government of his nation would be willing to let him do research. It might even let him organize a space program. If, that is, he could find a way to do it without spending too much of the military’s budget.

* * *

While Devdas thought, there were students busily trying to play games of WarSpell or other RPGs in time to get a good merge. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, and it would be years before anyone could figure out all the reasons why.

Location Diner, Houston, Texas

Time: 10:15 AM, Jan 4 

“Carla Jackson, reporting from Houston.  We’ve got an interesting show tonight.  We’re at the home of NASA, here in Houston, Texas. Our guests are Tricia Gattis and Rudy Gerona, both systems analysts for NASA.”

Carla turned to Tricia, who sat at the restaurant table with a cup of coffee in front of her.  NASA refused to give interviews about the Merge, but these two were willing to take a chance at official displeasure and talk to her. The all-night diner was fairly deserted at this time of night, anyway. The major problem was the teenaged waitress who kept getting in front of the camera. Carla wasn’t sure it was an accident.  The waitress seemed determined to flash her cleavage at the camera.