WarSpell: Support Missions

Game of Freedom: Book 2

In the second book of the Game of Freedom series in the WarSpell multiverse we see how the Merge world is responding to the new situation. Vicky Hill gets to meet Vectoria the half-orc intercessor of Twir who is the other half of Vicky’s merge. And an A-Team is sent to Twir’s world to help Francisco and Vectoria create a nation of free orcs.

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In the second book of the Game of Freedom series in the WarSpell multiverse we see how the Merge world is responding to the new situation. Vicky Hill gets to meet Vectoria the half-orc intercessor of Twir who is the other half of Vicky’s merge. And an A-Team is sent to Twir’s world to help Francisco and Vectoria create a nation of free orcs. Well to make sure that the American Company Buckley Equipment gets access to the Amber and Jet mines in and around Half-Orc bay.

Chong May have bitten the dust but the orc gods Kon and Mon are still there and still encouraging their orcs to kill Francisco Vectoria and the gang. And the A-Team—as good as they are—still haven’t realized just how rough the orcs and their gods play. Or what they are going to have to put in the pot to have any hope at all, of winning the Game of Freedom.

And all that is before the pantheon of the good gods gets involved.

Chapter 1: The Merge

Location: Frank Johnson’s Quarters, Fort Benning, Georgia
Time: 23:13 December 30, minutes before the merge

Sergeant First Class Frank Johnson took a drink from his longneck beer, set it on the end table, ran a finger across his slate computer to find the WarSpell character sheet app, and then called up Francisco the A-Hole. He liked playing Francisco in their weekly WarSpell game. A good and noble Nasine gentleman. Nobly shouldering the “white man’s burden” of a Nasine in the Orclands. Considering that Frank Johnson was black, it was a role that stretched. And Andi was happy enough to play along. Like this last mission to the Kurg caves based on a rumor brought to him by one of the tame orcs of Fort Masina. While abandoning his duty to guard the gate, he exhorted the orcs, “Remember, I expect every orc to do his duty.”

That had gotten Tom Warren to give him a British salute and say, “Aye aye, Admiral Nelson.”

He checked his stats on his character sheet. His experience points for last night’s game had taken him close to sixth level, but not there yet. Frank had a sneaking suspicion that Andi was planning to have him end up fighting Count Masina in a duel at some point or maybe having him, Tom and Vicky have to run off into the wild orclands. Frank wasn’t sure though; Andi had said she had a framework and arc, but the game was mostly going to be individual adventures till they were all tenth level or so. That meant putting skill points into persuasion could wait a few levels; for now, he was focused on swordsmanship and close quarters fighting. He couldn’t put the skill points in riding. There was only one horse in Fort Masina, and he didn’t have riding privileges on that one. Andi wouldn’t let him put skill points where he had no opportunity to practice the skill.

He took another mouthful of beer and suddenly it was sour in his mouth; it lacked the sweet tartness of a good orc-berry beer. He almost spit it out on the living room carpet. He had to force himself to swallow it.

He looked at the bottle of beer in his hand and he was Frank Johnson again, not Don Hernando Francisco de Montoya y Cortez, but he still had all Don Fransisco’s memories, including that of the sweet tart flavor of orc-berry beer.

He remembered saying, “I expect every orc to do his duty.” And he’d meant every bleeding word of it. Hadn’t seen anything at all hypocritical in it. He looked around his apartment and found himself offended that a simple sergeant, with no nobility in his ancestry, should have such quarters, even though he was the sergeant.

Over the next few minutes he was caught in an emotional rollercoaster between Frank Johnson’s memories and Don Hernando Francisco de Montoya y Cortez’s. He was at once deeply offended that a world could exist which paid so little regard to blood right, and disgusted by the “certainties” that were such a part of Don Hernando Francisco de Montoya y Cortez. All while being afraid that he’d suffered some sort of psychotic episode and the men in white coats were going to take him to a nice, safe, padded room.

Then the base alert sounded and he realized that whatever had happened to him could wait. Frank or Francisco, he had his duty to perform. He shoved his feet back into his jump boots and in general put himself together, then headed for the jump school’s headquarters.

Location: Fort Benning
Time: 23:35 December 30, Minutes after the Merge

Ewah, ewah, ewah, ewah! Attention all personnel! Report to duty stations immediately. Ewah, ewah, ewah!”

Vicky Hill jerked awake. “What the hell is going on?”

It didn’t matter that she’d only had a couple of hours of sleep, not to the army. And whatever was going on, it must be bad. The army didn’t put an entire base, especially one as large as Fort Benning, on alert for practice. So Vicky threw on her uniform, twisted her hair into its usual knot, grabbed her hat, and ran for her duty section.

Vicky arrived at her duty station, the main base supply depot, and ran up the stairs, not nearly as winded as she should have been. In her hurry she’d failed to button her blouse completely, and was showing rather more cleavage than she, before tonight, would have preferred. One of the grunts on guard duty whistled and Vicky grinned. Then she almost stopped moving in surprise. She wasn’t offended and she damned well ought to be. Instead, she felt her own motor revving up in response. Not in anything like acceptance, but more like answering a challenge. Vicky shook her head, and continued to the supply depot.

✽✽✽

Chapter 2:The Juice

Location: Frank Johnson’s apartment, Fort Benning, Georgia
Time: 17:37 January 1st, Merge Plus 2

Frank being merged, he’d spent the day having his military skills reevaluated.

“Hey, Frank,” Vicky said when he opened his door after a long, frustrating day.

“Vicky, it’s been a day. What do you need?”

“To ask if you have any idea what Twir and Noron might want with you and why Twir gave me a spell that feels like it’s related to you and Noron.”

Frank blinked. He knew from Francisco’s memories that it was really hard for a god to communicate directly with mortals, so he understood why Twir hadn’t been able to just tell Vicky. “I don’t know. Francisco was a solid follower of Noron, but would never have made an intercessor. He had a Mental Toughness of ninety-four. It was the lowest score I rolled. He even had a better presence than mental toughness.”

“Whereas Vectoria had a mental toughness of one eighty-eight,” Vicky agreed. “What about your mental toughness, Frank?”

“I don’t know, Vicky. I don’t even know if we have stats. Especially a stat like mental toughness or presence. I mean, sure, you can measure how strong someone is. At least within some pretty broad outlines. Same thing with reflexes and even intelligence, if you’re willing to define it narrowly enough. But how do you measure star quality?”

“You know, I bet that’s what this spell does,” Vicky said in sudden realization. “It measures mental toughness. What you need to be the sort of intercessor who can pray for spells and handle contact with a god.”

“Maybe, but why?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, there are lots of merges that merged with intercessors of Noron.”

Vicky considered, then started to laugh. “Could it be that every intercessor of Noron is the intercessor of a different god?”

“You mean they all have the same name but are all different?” Frank shrugged. “It’s possible, I guess, but what does it mean? Hold it . . . you figure that the Noron from our game wants you to recruit an intercessor?”

“Yes!” Vicky said. “That feels right.”

Frank was at a loss. “Vicky,” he said, hating to even think such a thing, “I’m not entirely sure that I want the Noron of our game world to have access to this world.”

“Why not?” Vicky asked gently, sounding very much like a priest from any world dealing with a question of conscience.

Frank responded to the concern in her tone because he’d spent the time since the Merge dealing with a crisis of conscience. “I’m a Christian, Vicky, a member of the First Baptist congregation. I believe in God. Not gods. But now I am a follower of Noron and a respecter of the pantheon of good gods and enemy to the evil gods of the Orclands. But Noron wasn’t opposed to slavery. Intercessor Roberto never said a thing against the buying and selling of orcs or elves or even humans.”

“Neither did Jesus, the Old Testament, or Muhammad, for that matter,” Vicky said, “At least I don’t think they did?”

Frank snorted. “The Old Testament sanctioned slavery. Jesus neither endorsed it, nor condemned it. Muhammad didn’t condemn the institution, but did encourage the freeing of slaves as a moral good.”

Vicky blinked.

Frank laughed. “I was in the Stan, Vicky. I have Muslim friends and there is the occasional argument on the subject. Besides, I like to know things. Fine, the scriptures of Noron’s church aren’t any worse than the early Christians. But we aren’t the early Christians, not anymore, and modern Christianity is opposed to slavery and I, for one, don’t want to go back to the days when slavery was okay.”

“You know that the gameworld gods don’t claim to be all powerful or even all knowing. Maybe if we give Noron the speeches of Frederick Douglass, we can change things on the game world.”

“What about Twir?” Frank asked.

“I don’t know. Twir is pretty heavy into law and order. It goes with filing and spelling things correctly.” Vicky grinned. “She got me to buy her a server, you know. Two thousand bucks.”

“A server?”

“An Internet server to be set up in my room and sanctified to her. A church of Twir on the web.”

“Another reason not to invite Noron. What if he decides to send me on quest or something? I’m in the army, you know.”

“Do tell? I never would have guessed.” Vicky laughed, then got serious. “Look, Frank, you grew up in Nasine, a follower of Noron like everyone in Nasine. He’s the national deity. But I was born in the Orclands and raised to be sacrificed to the god of my tribe. Speaking as an orcish slave, there are worse things.”

Frank looked at her. Remembering things he’d seen in orc caves. There were indeed worse things, but that didn’t make slavery okay. Frank had never been a slave, but Francisco had been a slave holder and those memories ate at him.

“I’m not saying slavery is okay,” Vicky said. “But I have seen human sacrifice. I have seen gods chow down on the essence of an orc and known that my turn was coming. Yes, slavery is evil and should be destroyed and not just in the game worlds, but in this one too. But there are things that are even worse. It’s not all black and white, and in this, at least, I am more qualified to have an opinion than just about anyone. Because I have been both those things.”

“So, what do you want from me?”

“Ultimately, your consent. For whatever reason, you’re important to this. I get the feeling that Noron needs a follower before I can recruit him an intercessor and teach that intercessor the ceremonies that open you to the gods.” Vicky was guessing, and guessing somewhat blindly. But Vicky Hill was a bright young woman and with Vectoria’s memories, she had a lot of experience to base her guesses on.

“Let me think about it, Vicky. Maybe pray on it and talk to Pastor Carter.”

Vicky grinned. “That’s going to be an interesting conversation.”

Interlude—Celestial Plane

“Well, that’s done,” Twir said.

“Hardly done. But started, at any rate,” Noron responded.

“Have you read Frederick Douglass?” There was a momentary pause.

“Yes. Frank Johnson studied him fairly extensively in school, which gives me access. I find Douglass a worthy champion of his cause. I am less than convinced that our world at this time can survive the cause. There is injustice in any world and the use of slaves is a necessary evil in accumulating the wealth needed to advance the world. Also, should we suddenly change the rules, we would open the world to the dark gods.”

“We must encourage societies of laws,” Twir agreed, “but must they all have the same laws?”

“Now, that is a possibility,” Noron agreed, and with a roaring laugh proclaimed to the heavens a new nation conceived in liberty and justice for all. “We don’t tell Nasine that it must change its laws, or the Kingdom of the Isles or any other. But, instead, carve out a new nation.”

“Do you think they are up to it?” Twir asked.

“I have no idea. Not yet. But it will be a great game to find out.”

Location: Fort Benning, Georgia
Time: 18:23, January 4th, Merge Plus 5

Before the Merge, Vicky Hill avoided confrontation whenever possible, being fully aware that she was smaller and weaker than most people. And especially smaller and weaker than a combat arms sort. So her desire to go to the gym and find someone to have a fight with came as a great surprise. Also, fighting wasn’t her job. Just at the moment, her job was taking a lot of time and her duty to Twir was taking up what was left. All of which left Vicky Hill in a really bad mood. And without enough sleep.

That evening, too pissed off to spend another hour copy editing for Project Gutenberg as a devotion to Twir, Vicky went to the gym and found a weight machine. She could lift a lot more than she could have a week ago, and the same was true of how long she could run on the treadmill, and with all the other machines. She worked out for over an hour and felt less tired when she was done. The repetitive exercises let her mind rest.

She went home and skipped the copy editing for the night.

The next morning she got a call from Frank Johnson. “Pastor Carter would like to talk with you.”

“Why?”

“It’s about finding an intercessor of Noron.”

Damn, Vicky managed not to mutter, but the quest for an intercessor of Noron was still another project that she didn’t have time for. “All right. When do you want to meet?”

“Do you think you can make lunch? I know you guys are swamped over there.”

In the last few days Fort Benning had become the gathering and evaluation center for the Merged. It was a natural evolution since Fort Benning already had a lot of training and evaluation centers for the US Armed Forces. Besides, the base commander was merged and had been the one to alert the White House of what was going on on the night of the Merge.

“I’ll try,” Vicky said. “I’ll check with Sergeant Major Kinney and let you know.”

Then she did her morning prayers. And she got that measurement spell again.

Location: Base Command Center, Fort Benning, Georgia
Time: 11:23, January 4th, Merge Plus 5

Sergeant Major Kinney clearly wasn’t happy, but said okay because the spells Twir gave Vicky were making life easier for everyone in the office. So she didn’t want to piss off the god. “Bring back donuts,” she said. “Bavarian cream donuts.” Because something about Sergeant Major Kinney’s nature required her to make subordinates pay for any privilege.

“Right.” Vicky turned away then rolled her eyes and left before the sergeant major could add chocolate sprinkles to the order.

✽✽✽

Chapter 3: After Action

Location: 3rd Ave. Baptist Church
Time: 6:15 AM, January 14, Merge Plus 15

Pastor Carter was learning how to open himself to the presence of a god and, in a way, it wasn’t that different from what happened when he accepted Christ into his life. More controlled, more intentional, and especially more specific. But, just as with his acceptance of Christ, the choice was his. He was working without Vicky Hill’s guidance. She had been busy with the organization of the rescues, and was now dealing with the fallout from the rescues. That fallout was, in many ways, positive. But the organizational strains that performing those acts of heroism caused were going to take weeks to smooth out. And Pastor Carter didn’t want to wait.

He followed the calming rituals and invited Jesus into his life. And he felt the presence. It was like and unlike what he’d felt those many years ago when he felt the call to the ministry. Jesus was with him, he knew it, examining and forgiving his sins, accepting his frailties and flaws. Yet he felt humbled and small. It wasn’t what he was expecting, but William Carter suddenly understood why God might need angels to deal with mortal kind. It wasn’t for the benefit to God; it was for the protection of the mortals. For a soul could die of shame being examined, even gently, by such infinite power. He tried to ask for a sign about Noron and that was the last thing he remembered until he was awakened by his wife, hours later.

“The Catholics were right, at least to an extent,” he told her. “I got the feeling that Jesus was being as careful as he could be with me, and it still left my spirit bruised and battered. But I think it’s all right for me to invoke Noron. That was what knocked me out. Even such a minor thing as Him saying ‘yes’ was more than I could take.”

Location: Vicky Hill’s Apartment, Base Housing
Time: 17:35 January 16, Merge Plus 18

The server had been delivered, but the rescue had come up before Vicky had a chance to unbox the thing. Vicky had had no time for anything but work and sleep; too much work,, not enough sleep. So the server wasn’t yet sanctified or turned on.

Now that things were calming down to something like a merely frenetic pace, Vicky was starting to think about setting up the server again. Using Vectoria’s memories and her own imagination, Vicky was working out a sanctification ceremony.

The server must be sanctified. Vicky considered using a squid as a sacrifice because a live creature had an effect on the magic. Besides, she remembered that Eduardo caught a freshwater squid and used it to sanctify the altar to Twir in Noron’s temple, explaining that it was the ink and the life that made it especially useful to Twir. Research on the internet over the last couple of weeks showed that there was a lot of theorizing about how magic worked. And the consensus, to the extent there was one, was that it was about life. An octopus or a squid was a living thing that created ink, and the ink itself was moderately chemically complex.

What effect that might have, Vicky wasn’t sure. But she went to a Japanese grocery. They didn’t have any live squid, but they had several dead ones and some squid ink, which she bought. She went home and put it in the refrigerator and prayed to Twir. Not for spells, just to call Twir’s attention to the fact that the server had been delivered and the squid and squid ink was available. Then she went to bed, hoping that in the morning she might have a better idea how to go about this sanctification.

Whether it was a message from Twir or just her imagination, the next morning she had an outline of a plan. She used a combination of the letters of the Nasine alphabet and the keyboard layout that had been such a mystery to Vectoria, and the symbols that she remembered from her studies under Eduardo. She would not use a keyboard or a monitor. Not one that could be used by a mortal. Instead, she painted a keyboard directly onto the server. The server would have a direct connection to Twir and, of course, an internet connection. Vicky would be able to access the server the same way anyone else would, through her internet connection. The server was to be Twir’s computer and only Twir’s. Vicky spent hours marking the case with magical symbols, and when she had everything as ready as she could make it, she prayed for spells.

She received just one spell. The moment she finished her prayers, she turned on the computer and cast the spell. The lights came on and for a minute nothing much happened. Then Vicky’s computer pinged to indicate a new email. Which was sort of a letdown, until she checked. The email was from god@Twir.org.

It consisted of a link to a website. The website came up and a chat window opened.

Vicky found herself chatting with a god.

✽✽✽

1 review for WarSpell: Support Missions

  1. Samual Fortner (verified owner)

    I can see this storyline setting up for a number of books, and if they continue to entertain like this one, I will be buying them all.

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