As the red-haired woman exited the bath, wearing Rebeccah’s cloths, Rebeccah noticed that she wasn’t pretty — she was gorgeous. She smiled wryly at herself for the flicker of jeelously, shaking her head to banish the thought.
After a good meal, Rebeccah arrived at the office. Throughout the drive, she could still see the fear in the red-haired woman’s eyes. She held her hand tightly.
“It’s going to be alright,” she said. Confidently, she brought the woman to the office. As she opened the door, and said, “hi”, she saw three laser dots, angrily crawling around.
“Step away from her!” cried Anthony.
“What did I do?” asked Rebeccah, bemused.
“Not you! You — Jenny — step away from Rebeccah and face the wall.”
“Have you gone insane?” asked Rebeccah, “after I got her to be a little less afraid, what — are — you” she could hardly contain her rage.
“Come in”, she hugged the woman apparently named Jenny, and led her to a couch. “Sit down, everything is all right.” Anthony has had enough. He pushed Rebeccah from Jenny, and again three red dots played over Jenny’s body.
“What have you told her? Do you have her under some spell?” Anthony asked, the old cop-interrogation-voice coming back naturally.
“I don’t know. I don’t remember my name, and I don’t remember doing spells.”
Rebeccah faced Anthony, “can’t you see the poor girl is scared to death? What do you think you’re doing?”
Anthony answered quietly, “She’s a wizard.”
“A wizard? But that…doesn’t…make…sense…why would she…”
“We’ve read some of their notes. She might not be dangerous right now…but I wanted to be sure. If she was dangerous, she would have reacted to the lasers. You know how the magic-addled are…”
“I do,” said Rebeccah, harshly. “Are you going to leave her alone?”
“For now. Come in, we have things to show you. We have lots of journals from that place…and it’s are not looking good.”
“Mind-control. Apparently Jenny here was an expert at mind-control.”
“But I thought the usual equations made it so few wizards find it useful…you have to use insane amounts of power, usually it is easier to do a thing with magic than to compel another to do it.”
“Precisely. A whole coven of those certainly spells trouble.”
“A whole coven?”
“Yes. Apparently Jenny led the coven, until something happened. It’s not clear what, but apparently this is what led to her state as permanently paralyzed. They used her mind as a focusing lens for their spells.”
A pained expression crossed Rebeccah’s face. The thought of a paralyzed Jenny for weeks on end was horrible, but this was much worse . For this much magic to pass through a person’s brain — it was a miracle Jenny was not a raving lunatic.]]>
“Who are you?” asked Rebeccah.
“I…can’t remember. Help me?”
“What is the problem?”
“I have been here so long, I don’t remember who I am, or what I am. I just remember being unable to move for several weeks.”
Rebeccah was shocked. “Unable to move?”
“I only managed to move again a few minutes ago. What happened?”
Rebeccah understood. The poor girl was probably held in paralysis for several weeks. Wizards could be cruel sometimes. She did not know what prompted this bit of cruelty, and as she wondered what would cause someone to do such a thing. She smiled, patting the girl’s hand. “It’s all going to be all right –”
The crashing noise had the girl whimpering, as Anthony and James entered the apartment, knocking down a garbage can.
Rebeccah glared at them, shocked.
“Are you OK?”, she asked.
Rebeccah looked down at herself, noticing for the first time the bruises, cuts and the dirt on her clothes. She started laughing, realizing the insanity of it all. Anthony and James stared at her, shocked, until they joined in.
James was shocked out of his amusement when he noticed the whimpering girl in the corner.
“Who is this?”, he asked.
“I am not sure,” said Rebeccah, “but we apparently freed her from weeks-long paralysis cast by this wizards when we neutralized the magic here. She’s traumatized. She doesn’t remember her name or how she got here.”
“They have lots of hand-written journals here,” said Anthony.
“perhaps one of them explains her. I’ll start collecting them and we’ll sift through them back in the office.”
Rebeccah nodded, and took the woman by the hand. “We will help you. Don’t worry. Can I get you some water?”
As she drunk, and got up, Rebeccah noticed the red-haired woman was pretty, under the dirt and rags. “Come, we’ll drive to our office,” she said, taking the woman by the hand. As the two walked outside, Rebeccah noticed all the cars have been destroyed.
Rebeccah smiled. “Or…get a taxi.”
This was not the first time that this was the only way to go. Cars have a way of not meshing well with wizards, as wizards have often known and so have been avoiding them for long time a now.
The thing to do would be to get that woman cleaned up, and that wouldn’t happen in the office. Rebeccah decided they would first swing through her place.
“We’ll see you in the afternoon,” she said to the guys, who were still seeing what they need to do in the apartment itself.
“Let’s go,” she said to the disheveled woman, “you’ve been in the shadow of magic for too long. Time to see the light.”]]>
“Anthony” Owen asked, “what we doing?”
“Oh,” said Anthony calmly, “what anyone in this situation would do. Go to plan B,” he continued, drawing another of the electrical-arc bombs from his damaged car. “Get ready, everyone. We’re due for some more fireworks.”
As the lightning arced from the bomb once again, the invisible way spreading until it reached the apartments. With the barrier already down, the results were even more spectacular. Every piece of magic inside sizzled and popped as the wave intersected it. Some exploded, some retained some of their magic and some became de-magicked completely.
The wizards who were closing in fell back, some falling from their horses as their spells of riding failed, some managing to keep a grip on, and the brooms all falling to the ground, their spell power diminished enough that they could not keep in the air.
The group pulled out the lasers. Now the fight was more balanced, but still wizards were coming for them — both those that had been outside already and those who had been inside.
“Owen, James,” Anthony said, “take care of the ones over here. Rebeccah and I will take the apartment.”
Owne and James pulled out their lasers, attempting to shoot down every spell before it reached them. Rebeccah followed Anthony, as he made sure that no spells left the apartment intact. The wizards, their brains infused with magic, offered little resistance now, as Owen pulled out his taser and made sure they were all knocked unconscious.
Anthony and Rebeccah got inside the apartment. The stench of herbs burning was horrific, and the stench of the zombies’ decomposing bodies — now that magic could not sustain them — was even worse. Rebeccah watched Anthony begin to punch out the wizards. The fight was earnest, but Rebeccah had no doubt who would win it, now that the wizards were without most of her spells. As she looked around her, she saw one person who escaped Anthony’s attention, probably because she was already huddled near a corner, her legs tucked in, rocking back and forth. She was muttering something under her breath. Fearing it was a spell, Rebeccah aproached.
“Help me, help me, help me” the woman said over and over again. “Help me” she said to Rebeccah, looking straight at her. “Help me, please.”]]>
“Now!” yelled Anthony. Rebeccah keyed a button on her cellphone. The cellphone inside the building started speaking from its loud speaker. “Hello, and welcome to the anti-magical program. For today, we begin running external simulations of protein folding.” A hologram appeared above the cell phone, and started displaying complex equations and their three dimensional implications. As the wizards turned their spells against the cell phone, Anthony and James turned on the chemical waste hoses. “Booby trap,” Anthony barely managed to yell to James, as he took him and jumped to the side. Sure enough, as soon as the chemical waste drops reached the ground, a light magical barrier was destroyed, revealing a magical bomb under it. The cars were destroyed in the explosion, and Anthony could only hope Rebeccah was far enough away to be safe.
“Umm, guys?” Owen’s voice came from Anthony’s cell phone, “Can I turn back now towards the building? They’ve almost caught up on me and I don’t know how much longer I can hold out!”
“We’re in a bad spot,” said Anthony, his voice filled with pain, “try to find where Rebeccah is. We have…we have no backup coming.”
Owen never heard Anthony sound this panicked before. Things must have really gotten downhill for this to happen.
As Owen turned his car, around he saw Rebeccah’s, windows shattered and the doors bent. His eyes scanned the surrounding, but to no avail. He could not see Rebeccah anywhere. Then he remembered his eyes are not the only scanning tool available.
Rebeccah’s tracker, he thought, surely it could work in reverse. Though the wizards were approaching, he stopped the car, got out and hoped that his hacks to the car’s computers were good enoguh. He thumbed his cell, and the car started off by itself. It could not drive to save its metaphoric life, but it was good enough to make the wizards think he was there for the extra ten seconds he needed.
He knew he could connect to Rebeccah’s phone. He hoped he would figure out how to download the tracker and run it on his cell phone before it was too late. The wizards already noticed that the car has crashed into a wall and it would not be long before they would realize there was nobody inside the car. As he saw the dots on his tiny screen, he saw that mercifully Rebeccah was some distance from her car.
Anthony’s shouted warning saved her life. She was lying on the ground, dazed from the magical explosion. “Are you all right?” Owen asked the nonsensical question people throughout the ages have asked. Rebeccah nodded her head.
“We need to get going, and team up with Anthony and James.”]]>
Magic won, of course, as they knew it would, but only at a cost. The ray of shielding around the building was stretched to almost breaking point, and even as it popped and hissed, the wave was almost nullified within its protective boundaries. Owen knew the wave would have little enough effect within — but it served its purpose admirably, drawing the attention of every wizard within to the outside. Windows opened, shutters drew open and eyes were looking at Owen quizzically.
The spell lasted for a few seconds longer until Owen cleared his head. “Get yourself together” he said to himself, “now’s the time to run like hell.”
Owen jumped into his car and started driving away, knowing the horses and brooms racing after him would not be far away. The car purred and squealed, feeling every bit as though it was one of the horses around rather than a being of pure technology. Owen felt the spells being cast, but he knew that he was safe for the moment, the wizards still being dazed from the diversion and him farther away.
“Gotta draw them out as far as I could,” he muttered again.
Anthony waited for the tell-tale glow of the magical shielding. It was a magnificent sight — the shield almost giving in, then popping back, significantly weakened, with an audible “crack!”. He threw a cell phone as hard as he could at the barrier, hoping thart it would get inside the barrier. It did.
As he thumbed the speed dial, the call itself started deteriorating the barrier’s strength. “How are we doing?” asked Anthony. James stood there with a jury-rigged magic meter, measuring interference with technology.
“I estimate barrier going completely in twenty seconds.”
“I hope we have twenty seconds,” said Anthony.]]>
This attack was planned for the crack of dawn.
At five thirty in the morning, James, Rebeccah, Owen and Anthony
gathered. Anthony smiled at Owen.
“Got your diversion ready?”
“Sure. It’s ready to purr and roar!”
“OK. Go to the far side, and wait for my call.”
Owen waited, looking fondly at his machine.
True, it wasn’t sophisticated, but the simplicity of it
was part of its abstract beauty. Like a beautiful hardware hack,
it stood, ready to be turned on — to amaze and shock. He pulled
out his cellphone, put his back against the car, and waited.
His job in this mission was going to be simple enough.
Anthony looked over his rag tag team. Back when he was a police officer,
he would have a fifty-person SWAT team ready to storm such a complex,
trained professionals all. Here were three civilians, geeks,
waiting to be led by him, trusting
him to lead them to victory. It was a fascinating
Anthony looked through a pair of binoculars at the house.
“The zombie guards are getting ready for the dawn. They are already
Zombies, contrary to popular misconception are not
slow. They become slow at dawn, lethargic by day. While sun light
does them no harm, they cannot function well in it.
As the zombie guards grew slower and slower, Anthony started
to evaluate what kind of magical defenses the apartments would
have. “They probably have a permanent anti tech field, of course,”
Anthony said, “but this shouldn’t concern us, I believe. Part of the
side-benefits of the diversion is that it will weaken the shield
to its breaking point. In effect, we are left with just an unknown
number of wizards, of unknown power.” He smiled a mirthless grin,
“apart from the unknowns, everything is easy.”
“What is going to be our main strategy against the mages?”
“Well, we are hoping the diversion will draw away a significant
number of them. We are going to attempt to technologize the house,
and render those within it powerless. Then we will try to take
those who flee outside one by one.”
Starting tomorrow, on Monday, December 15th I will start publishing my novel “Digital Watches” as a web-serial. Portions will be published on Monday and Thursday, 00:00 UTC of each.]]>