WarSpell: The Merge – Snippet 09

“I don’t quite understand, sir,” Marie said. “We can’t force people out of the service for their religious beliefs. I grant that I never realized just how strange the gods could be. It’s like some people sort of let their imaginations go wild, or just get silly.”

“I’m not so worried about the silly ones. It’s the bad guys who concern me. Backnor the Corrupter was in the game guide, you know. Quite a few people used the guides for their gods. Life is going to be interesting from now on, I imagine,” General Everett muttered. “And warriors, how many of those do we have?”

“198, sir. Straight fighter class, that is. Between the woodsmen and the champions we have another 137 fighters who have a bit of magic, 225 intercessors including nature intercessors, 85 natural wizards, 234 amulet wizards who won’t be able to make amulets until we find the magic moss they need, if we ever do. There are 103 book wizards, and 36 members of the criminal character class, some of whom have picked up a few rote spells. Sir, we have to do something about that name. It was okay as long as it was a game, but how are people going to react when someone says ‘I Merged with a criminal?’ Most of these people are criminals in the same sense that George Washington was a criminal to the British during the Revolutionary War. Okay, some are the Artful Dodger from Dickens.” Marie shook her head and continued the briefing. “All sexes, the, ah… whatever it was, has quite literally trapped several women in men’s bodies and vice versa. We’ve got everything from a zero level multi-class character to a twenty-first level Criminal/Amulet Wizard, level ten for the criminal, and eleven on the wizard.

“The elf,” Marie continued, “is an eighteenth level intercessor of Druisii who accidentally transformed herself in a dream. She was asleep when the Merge happened and her body didn’t feel right to the elven character she played, so it fixed things. Apparently in her game world only elves could be intercessors of Druisii and elves have an allergy to built up spaces. She wants out, sir, says she needs trees and feels closed in.”

“Send her out to the woods then, Captain. God knows this base has woods enough, even if a bunch of the trees are covered in kudzu vines. Tell her to check in once a day for the time being. We’ll figure out what to do about her later, I guess,” General Everett decided. “Now, have the wizards come up with a list of spells they have ready?”

“Yes, sir, at least a partial list. It’s right here,” Marie answered, handing him the list and stifling a yawn at the same time. “They’re still working on what they can do, when they have time. This is just what’s ready to go right now.”

“Tired, Captain?”

“Exhausted, sir. It’s been a long night.”

“Just a while longer, Captain, and we’ll all go get some sleep. Who is the strongest wizard we have?”

“Ah, well, that would be PFC Greg Simmons, General. Seventeenth level book wizard, he says. I’m the same level, but a natural wizard. The intercessor of Druisii is stronger, but she’s going to have to leave before something really bad happens,” Marie answered. “If you don’t mind, sir, I’ll go let her know she can head for the woods. She’s starting to look nervous.”

“Fine, Captain. Let her and any other nature followers head out. There’s a snack bar out on the golf course. Have them all report there once a day, until we get this mess straightened out. Set up a schedule or have them do it. I need to talk to Joe Kramer at the Pentagon, and find out what’s going on. I hope we’ll have a better handle on things pretty soon.”

“Then there’s Sergeant Walker,” Marie muttered, looking at the centaur. “Do you have any idea what happened with him?”

“Maybe. I have some people checking.”

12:35 AM EST Dec 31

2nd 818 Infantry Motor Pool, Ft. Benning, Georgia

Mornfeld the Mage sat against the APC and tried to make sense out of it. He had been on a fairly standard dungeon crawl. Nothing unusual for him and his companions. They defeated the monster, but it took most of what they had. The monster’s followers weren’t pleased and made their displeasure known by mass attacks. It was time to leave and their high level transport magic was already used. The orc army hit the camp and made off with most of the horses. Transform was one of Mornfeld’s standard spells and was especially useful and flexible. In this case it would save them again by transforming Randor into a centaur and providing Mornfeld with a ride. Just as Mornfeld was using the spell, something impossible happened.

Suddenly, Mornfeld was in another world. The spell went off and Mornfeld stared in horror as a sergeant was transformed into a centaur. The sergeant centaur took one look at his hooves and ran off.

Mornfeld didn’t know how he knew that the thing he was sitting against was an APC. He also didn’t know how he knew that he was in a motor pool, or how he knew that a motor pool had nothing to do with anything liquid.

There was movement and lights were approaching. He hid behind the APC, but recognized the sounds. It was a car approaching. The car stopped and someone got out. “Private Dixon,” someone shouted.

Mornfeld suddenly realized that he was Private Dixon. He remembered that he had guard duty at the motor pool and had to leave the game to go on duty. The last thing he said as he went out the door was “I’ll cast Transform on Randor when I get back.”

Gerry had always claimed that Randor was hung like a horse. Now he would be.

Timothy Dixon, PFC was finally merging with Mornfeld the Mage. He remembered the events of both their lives and, more importantly, he now understood at least a little of what had happened. He recognized Sergeant Walker, whose goal in life seemed to be to catch privates doing something they shouldn’t be doing.

Private Dixon also recognized the Military Police armbands and went out to face the music. He wondered what the penalty was for turning a horse’s ass into a centaur.

1:02 AM Dec 31

Base Theater, Ft. Benning, GA

General Everett went back to the podium. “All right, the army is going to need every spell we can come up with. So, I want all the book wizards to start sorting out which spells you have crafted and transcribing them.”

Josh saw a hand waving in the air, “Yes, what is it?”

The short balding officer stood to answer. “Captain Frazer, sir, JAG. I’ve been going along with all this because of the unusual circumstances, but that last thing you said crosses a fairly big line. Collecting the personal information about people’s characters was iffy, legally. Under the circumstances, it will probably be deemed allowable as a security measure.

“Still, General, spells are the private property of the person who has them. Ordering people to turn their private property over to the army, well, to put it bluntly, sir, it’s theft. I don’t think you can even require someone to give you a copy of a spell. If you do, you could wind up with the Army subject to lawsuits running into the hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps into the billions.”

Captain Frazer looked a bit embarrassed, but continued, “I’m sorry, sir. If there had been time I would have approached you privately.”

Josh wasn’t pleased, but the captain did have a point. “Captain, if it’s not an illegal question, what was your character?”

“Bordash, a ninth level criminal, Sir. He’s a criminal who specialized in stealing magical items and paraphernalia, as a matter of fact. Stealing like that was, by the way, a capital offense in the game world I played in. It’s not illegal to ask, sir. It may or may not be legal to require an answer or to punish refusal to answer. We’re dealing with an unprecedented situation here.”

“Well, what do you suggest we do about it, Captain? We are probably going to need those spells. And we’ll probably need them sooner rather than later.”

Another hand was raised and Josh nodded to the soldier, “Yes?”

“PFC Greg Simmons, Sir, or Duke Meninor of Dairenth.” Greg Simmons was a skinny kid, but he carried himself like a duke. “I have a possible solution and an additional problem. The problem is that some of the spells are not the sort of thing we’re going to want running around on the net. I don’t know what we can do about that, sir, but we probably don’t want to start by sitting around a theater swapping spells. We might want to think about who gets what.”

“Point taken, private. You mentioned a solution?”

“Yes sir. I have a specialized spell crafted. I think I can use it to get my spell books.”

“I know more about spells as a gamer than my character does, but I’m fairly sure you can’t simply wish us up a bunch of written spells,” Josh said.

“Actually, sir, that’s roughly what I intend to do. Meninor has a quite extensive spell collection and a backup set of spells. I’ve been thinking about it and I think that with a camera, a computer scanner or a copier, I could make copies of the spare set.”

Josh felt a bit of hope rising. “And you mention this because?”