WarSpell: The Merge – Snippet 16
5:30 PM, Dec 31
Carla was surprised when they got the call. The station was putting out the word about what Carla was doing, with the hope that as a Merged herself she would find willing interview subjects. Carla had done some thirty second spots to be run on local stations in the towns she would travel through. People who were willing could call a toll free number and arrange an interview. It paid off in some surprising ways.
Ellie Parsons wanted to talk. Ms. Parsons was a moderately big TV star a couple of decades before, playing Zerella, swordswoman of Justas, and made a couple of movies since then. Normally she would be a bit high profile for a local TV reporter. She experienced the Merge and the added memories apparently had a profound effect.
“On three, two, one . . .”
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I’m here at the ranch home of actress Ellie Parsons. I’m sure everyone remembers her for her series on television as well as her movies. Many others will probably remember her for her political activism,” Carla said. “Ellie moved back to her hometown of Bakersfield in sometime ago, and she’s been here ever since. She’s been very vocal in her support of gun control laws.”
Ellie Parsons and her entourage were sitting on lawn furniture that Carla estimated must have cost more than her entire house. She signaled to the cameraman to focus on Ellie and began to ask her questions.
“Ms. Parsons,” Carla began, “Could we start with your statement, please. We’d really like you to just repeat what you said earlier today.”
Ellie took a deep breath and said, “Earlier today I admitted that I’ve been wrong about guns. I think I have a better understanding of what the Founding Fathers were after.”
Carla nodded and prodded for another answer. “Are you saying that you’ve changed your mind, Ms. Parsons?”
“Well, it’s more like I got a dose of reality.” Ellie smiled sardonically. “Or perhaps it was a dose of fantasy. About half way into the first season of Zerella, Champion of Justice, I found out that the basic plot and situation had come from the writers playing a WarSpell campaign. They twisted it beyond all recognition when they actually wrote the series.
“At about that time I was thinking I wanted more script control. I wanted to write a script but I had no idea what to do. I blackmailed the writers into helping me create a character as much like Zerella as possible in the WarSpell rules. I figured if it worked for them, it might work for me. So, I played her in several games to try and work up a script more to my liking.” Ellie sighed. “Not one of those games ever made it to the air. It did help me with my characterization though, so I kept playing through most of the series.”
“Yes,” Carla prompted.
“Well, you probably know the basic plot of the series.” Ellie continued, “Zerella starts out as this loyal retainer of the king. The king dies and she spends most of the first season walking a tightrope between loyalty to the new king and her oath of duty and her knowledge of right and wrong. The new king, if you’ll remember, was an arch villain.”
Carla was getting impatient to get to the point of this silly interview. Ellie was a twit. Always had been, probably always would be. “And so what happened to you?” she asked.
“Well, I was watching an old movie and all of a sudden, well, I just remembered being Zerella, but not like it was back in the series. I mean, I really, really remembered being Zerella. I remember her mom and her sister, too. I remember being raised on a farm, which I wasn’t, you know. I remember Zerella’s exploits, all her adventures, really. What I learned from the Merge was how very hard it is for a good soldier to disobey even an immoral order. And how easy it can be for a government to become corrupt.”
“And this has made you think what?” Carla asked.
“I lost the belief that it can’t happen here,” Ellie said bluntly. “There is a difference between visiting places where violence is common and living in one. Ultimately the right and responsibility of self defense belongs to the individual. Especially defense from the government, should it become corrupt. I wish we could do it without guns, but another thing that came with the Merge is a decent knowledge of guerilla warfare. An armed populace makes control by an unpopular government somewhere between difficult and impossible. I went out and got one, you know.”
“You did,” Carla probed. Maybe Ellie wasn’t quite as much of a twit as she seemed.
“I did,” Ellie answered. “I bought an AR15, and I’m pretty good with it, too. It seems Zerella’s skill with a crossbow translated. I am a citizen, and I interpret that to mean that I have not just the right, but an obligation, to keep and bear arms, just in case.”
As they were packing up the van, Carla got a call from the station. Mary Stuart’s voice. “Carla, you’re never going to believe this. Rev Jeff’s wife merged.”
“Rev who . . . ?” Before the question was fully out, Carla remembered. The right wing nut who balanced Ellie Parsons–or did, before the Merge anyway. “Right. Reverend Jefferson Davis Thompson. So, is the overdressed matron of subservient wifery healing for God now?”
“Don’t be mean, Carla. Even if you are a godless heathen,” Mary said. “Besides, it’s just the opposite. From what I heard, she sent Rev Jeff to the hospital and ran off. Anyway, Rev Jeff has announced that on his next broadcast, he will tell what happened. Oh, and the Houston police have a warrant out for Martha on a charge of assault.”
“Keep me posted, Mary. In the meantime, is there another report in this area?”
“Not so far. One in Arizona, a Native American gamer. Should be good for a different take. I’ll text you the address.”
0600 AM EST, Jan 1
Post Commander’s Office, Ft Benning, GA
Josh Everett smiled as his bleary-eyed Admin Supervisor poured herself a cup of coffee and loaded it down with four spoons of sugar. “Tired, Sergeant Major?”
Sergeant Major Terry Kinney nodded. “Yes, sir, I am. Even after I got back home, I had weird dreams. Who would have ever dreamed this stuff? Fantasy just isn’t my thing. Space opera, that I like. But fantasy, magic, no.”
Josh suppressed his own yawn, still tired. “We’ve got a big day ahead of us,” he said, pouring his own cup of coffee. “And more piles of paperwork are going to be generated.” Taking a sip of coffee, he stared into the cup, already waking up. “Wow! New coffee? I could use this at home. What did you do to it?”
“Wasn’t me, General,” Terry smiled. “It was my new assistant. I knew, once I thought about it, that we’d probably need more help around here. It’s just a thought, but I expect Benning is going to wind up as the magic training base for the U.S. I thought I might as well get ready for that.”
“None of that explains the coffee,” Josh said.
Terry waved over a young woman who had just entered the office. “Major General Everett, I’d like you to meet Staff Sergeant Vickie Hill. Sergeant Hill, this is the man we work for, General Everett.” Turning to Josh, Terry added, “She invented the god Twir.”
Josh was beginning to have an idea, knowing Terry’s sense of humor. “Don’t tell me. You didn’t, did you? That’s the reason the coffee is so good, isn’t it?”
Terry broke out in giggles. “Yep. I did. I found her first and no one else is going to get her, either. She’s the intercessor of Twir, god of secretaries and paperwork. And, she, I mean Twir, feels the same way I do about paperwork. Do it, and do it right the first time. So all the spells, the ones Vickie got this morningâ€¦ you’ll just never believe it.”
“All designed to facilitate paperwork?” Josh hazarded.
“Nope,” Terry answered. “Just some of them. She has all the standard ones any intercessor gets. I’ll never have to suffer a cold again. And Twir is absolute death on computer viruses, as well. As soon as she found out about computers, Twir fell in love with them. And she fixed everything she could find, viruses, gunk, you name it.” Terry grinned again, “Best of all, though, you see that stack of stuff over there?” Terry motioned to a stack of reports that had come in just before the holiday. “Watch this.”
Vickie, obviously a fan of an obscure television show, twitched her nose. Papers began flying. A stack settled in Josh’s in-box and he’d be willing to bet they were important, full of things he needed to know. Others flew into folders in the filing cabinets, and a mere two of them settled onto Terry’s desk. As Josh watched, a red pencil rose and began to make marks on those two papers.
“Naughty, naughty,” Terry grinned. “Someone didn’t proofread.”
0700, Jan 1
Post Commander’s Conference Room, Ft Benning, GA
“This has just about got to be the strangest, most diverse mixture of ranks I’ve ever seen in one room,” Josh Everett said with a wry smile. “It seems kind of strange, but I need both the highest level Merges and the highest ranking officers as a part of my command team for this.”
Josh looked down the table at the people seated there. His deputy commander, Stan Watkins and his exec, Col. Jose Mendoza sat, one on each side of him. The rest were a mixed bag, if the truth were told. “Major Sims, you’re the highest level warrior and highest ranking officer for those warriors. You and Col. Mendoza are going to be in charge of developing a training plan for integrating Merged warrior skills with soldier skills. General Kramer tells me that he thinks we can expect an influx of Merged warriors in the coming weeks. He’s not sure yet, but plans to speak to the Chiefs about it soon.”
“And you, Captain Sims,” Josh continued, “are the highest ranking officer among the magical types, even if you aren’t the highest level magic user. So, you and Stan here are going to be in charge of developing the armed forces spells and organizing the magic users in general. We need you to be finding the right spell caster for the right job, at least for the present. We’re going to have an influx, there, too. Benning, because of its sheer size and its available facilities, is probably going to be chosen as the primary base of operations.”