WarSpell: The Merge – Snippet 20

Ada and her grandson listened as Carla and Roy talked to the teenage boys. Then Ada said, “I knew this was the right thing. Spiderwoman told me.”

The boys looked up in surprise, and Carla was surprised too. That was the second time Ada mentioned that Spiderwoman told her things.

Ada looked at them and smiled. “We were playing an unusual game. Henry made it up special for me. That’s why he was playing, as well as running the game. There were only the two of us. And I was suffering from Alzheimer’s.”

One of the teenagers nodded as though the announcement was confirmation.

Was suffering,” Henry said. “After the Merge, it was gone.”

“That makes sense,” Roy said. “One consistent thing about the Merge seems to be that everyone who experienced it was healed of what ailed them.”

“We don’t know if the healing goes the other way,” Carla said. “That brings up a delicate subject. In the standard game, the people who acted as voices of the gods were mentally ill. Is that how you handled it?”

“Not exactly,” Henry said. “We treated them as touched, but not damaged. Having an extra something that allowed them to hear the speech of their god. I didn’t want to remind Gran of the Alzheimer’s.”

“What does that mean then?” asked one of the gamers.

“It means that I don’t hear voices. Just the one voice, the voice of Spiderwoman, and she is being careful about what she says to me. As to the amulets, we Navajo make jewelry and there are many natural materials here for us to use in making amulets. What we need is a source of magic moss,” Ada said.

“I’ll keep my ears open,” Carla promised. “Who knows? Perhaps there is a natural moss that will prove to be magic moss now that magic works.”

Everyone looked doubtful.

Then Ada spoke again. “No!” She gave the boys a hard look. “You will not sacrifice animals to get their brain stem. The animals are her creations too. We may use them as nature intends, not that way.”

The boys looked guilty, and Carla felt guilty. She had, in her youth as Eowina, used animals, including orcs, in precisely that way. Making amulets from their brain stems after torturing them to death. And at the time, it seemed the natural prerogative of her people. This was the sort of thing that would turn the world against the Merged and it was going to get out. It was mentioned in the rules, after all.

7:45 pm CST, Jan 1

Houston, Texas

“Right, Frank. I’ll see what I can do.” Senator Sam Davis sighed as he hung up the phone.

“Tony, did you get all that?” Sam asked his aide. Frank Maclusky was a Detroit cop and a long time friend. The friendship had started when Frank gave Sam a ticket here in Houston and got heat over it. Sam stepped in and stopped the heat. Later Frank left the Houston PD over a similar incident and moved up north. Now he was a captain and the head of Detroit’s drug task force. And he was a worried man.

Tony was still making notes, but he nodded. “This is not good, Senator. How can law enforcement deal with something like this?”

Detroit had just gotten a shipment of cocaine in by Translocation. An undercover detective reported it, after the fact. It was brought in, in the blink of an eye, and was a very big score for the dealers around Detroit. Something close to ten million dollars worth of cocaine was now being distributed throughout the area.

“We used to have some control,” Sam muttered. “We used to be able to catch at least some of the couriers. But how can we do that now? This guy never touched the stuff and there’s no proof of any connection. The undercover officer says that he Merged with some wizard and used this magic for the transport.”

“He must have had some connections in Detroit,” Tony said. “They didn’t waste any time arranging the payment. And because it was done over the phone, he never touched the money, any more than he did the coke. There’s no way to prosecute him, not if you can’t make a connection.”

“Law enforcement is already having problems like this. We wouldn’t even have known about it, if there hadn’t been so much that they’re using everyone to store it. The undercover guy was given ten kilos to store, apparently after they had confirmation that the stuff was in the warehouse,” Sam said, gritting his teeth. “Now, Frank wants to know what the federal government is going to do. What are we going to do?

“I’m getting more and more worried, Tony,” Sam continued. “All day long it’s been like this. One call after another. Worried police officers who have no idea how to handle this. Parents whose kids are suddenly grown up in mind, if not in body. Fights that might have resulted in a black eye now resulting in hospitalization instead.

“And everyone I’ve talked to wants the same thing. They want it fixed, and the government is supposed to do that. They want their families back the way they were, and their lives back to normal. How can we be expected to unmerge the people who got Merged? How are we going to put things back the way they were before? And think about the rest of it. It looks like a high level wizard, whether book or natural, can smuggle just about anything anywhere. Drugs, money, weapons . . . atomic bombs.”

Tony was pointing at the screen. The television hadn’t been turned off all day. “Look at this report, sir,” he said. “Carla Jackson again.”

Sam Davis stared at the television in disbelief. He tried to respect Native American beliefs, he really did, but that was when they didn’t work. Somehow they were much more threatening when they did. “Spiderwoman? Were-coyote? Tony, what the devil is going on?”

“A lot of, umm, unusual religions, let’s call them, are popping up out of the woodwork, Senator,” his aide said. “There were those Wiccans yesterday, and the Druids this afternoon, on that other network. Now this. Although, I have to admit that the Druids in the Southeast are doing a good thing, trying to balance the kudzu. That stuff is trying to eat several states, you know.”

“Tony,” Sam growled, “I don’t much care. They aren’t real religions. They’re more like cults, each with a few followers. They’re not based on faith or on what God can do for their spiritual well being. They’re based on what some entity–I won’t call them gods–can do for them physically. Start making some calls, Tony. I’m glad we’re headed back to D.C. in the morning. I think it’s time the government got back to work.”

“Yes sir,” Tony agreed. “I’ll start calling people I think will feel the same way you do. Maybe if we get enough support you’ll be able to do something about this.”

9:45 AM, Jan 2, 2009

White House Grounds

“So what do you think, Gunny?” Mark Williams of the Secret Service asked. “Gunny” or Gunnery Sergeant Franklin Lloyd, USMC Recon, had at one time been a nerd, he said. No one, looking at him now, would believe it. He was five eleven, two hundred ten pounds of muscle and bone and moved like a cheetah on crack. Mark was impressed, that was for sure. Even more impressed when he found out that the gunny’s current build had nothing to do with the Merge.

They’d talked about it this morning. “And I still can’t get over it,” Franklin said. “Who’d have thunk it? There I was, with my team on an exercise and who comes back to haunt me? Derrydimple Fortinbloom, Esquire, of all people. The guy I invented back when I was an eighty pound weakling.”

“You?” Mark asked, staring at the gunny in surprise. “You?”

“You bet,” Franklin nodded. “I was the guy the ninety-eight pound weakling picked on fifteen years ago. Later, when I turned fifteen, I had a growth spurt, discovered girls, you know how that goes. So I started working out with weights. And I got into karate, and well, here we are.”

Mark brought himself back to the present with a shake of his head. “So this Derrydimple Fortinbloom specialized in protective spells? And you can do this?”