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I met a ghost tonight. It suddenly walked through a wall into my room and, ignoring me, sat where there was no chair, and stared at a blank wall. When I spoke to it--him, I should say--he was startled, surprised that I could see him. It was all rather amicable--he had lived in this house before it had been remodeled, and from his perspective had just come down stairs into the living room and sat in his favorite chair to watch television. I said he didn't bother me, and he was welcome to continue. I did say that I would be willing to help him if there was anything I could do.
Whisp is a handful, I can tell you that. He's taken to hanging out at a local gym. With his completely morphic bronze-hued body, it's easy for him to make himself look like the ideal muscleman; and of course his physical strength is incredible, so it's easy for him to impress women by lifting weights and such. Now he's enrolled in some iron man contest, for the best body builder in the city. I've told him it's not a good idea, but it's like talking to a wayward puppy.
I found myself today. I'm a popular Christian radio broadcaster in this world. Apparently, the me in this world went from that small radio station on which I started into bigger and better broadcasts, focusing on Bible teaching; he's now syndicated across the country, and visiting Chicago on a speaking tour this week. I've decided to meet him.
Whisp had several things happen to him today when he was in the park. First, there was a meeting of some sort, a kind of modern Nazi promotion rally. Some guy was getting people fired up about minorities--a real hate trip. Whisp contacted me to let me know what was happening, and we decided to interfere. He pushed his way through to the podium, and began to speak--starting as if he were agreeing with the guy. But I telepathically fed him lines, and carefully crafted a speech which would undermine the anger and stupidity being presented. We succeeded in defusing a situation that had been growing ugly and might have been violent. Then he moved to other things. But on his way out, he had another encounter. It had just gotten dark, and he was headed back to me when someone stopped him. The name he gave--Lucien--I had heard; he was an ancient vampire rumored to be hiding in the Presemium. I suspected that it was his power which opposed me when I entered the other day. Stopping Whisp, he informed him that he would be leaving Chicago, that I could have the place. I had won this one relatively easily; but I wasn't going to let the Presemium remain anyway.
My ghost was not himself tonight. He seemed to be entranced by something, and at times terrified. I was able to tune in to his world a little better, and could hear this throbbing of a drum; when I was able to get his attention, he said the drum was calling him, and he couldn't resist forever. I told him I would try to find out what was happening. I really have no idea where to begin.
I met a new wizard today. Her name is Azineth. She was able to throw some light on a lot of things which have been happening around here. Apparently there is a magic device--the Glom Bashal, she called it--which has great power. It was hidden in India, the land of its origin, after its last use during the second world war. When it is activated, it summons the spirits of the dead into a union, and creates factions and hatreds among mortals. Someone stole it, and Azineth came to recover it. I told her what I knew, and convinced her that we should work together on the matter. Whisp tried to impress her, but she ignored him; still, he probably won't give up easily.
We've got a lead on the Glom Bashal. We connected a lot of the hate groups incitement to a local computer company headed by a woman named Marilyn Masters; Azineth identifies her as the mage Marileth, and Henry had volumes on that woman. It seems that she's trying to take over the world, and has failed on several previous occasions. It appears that she may have had an alliance of some type with Gavin, and his disappearance has accelerated her plans. I've tried to get a psionic look at her, but she's shrouded in magical protections--I couldn't even get a clear picture of her from the mind of her own secretary, who is unaware that she doesn't know what her boss looks like.
Whisp continues to annoy Azineth, trying to interest her in a personal relationship. She's intelligent and very business-like, although I don't find her at all attractive--I think he does it for his own ego. She made it quite clear that she is not interested in any temporary relationship. If he wants to consider something permanent--which she and I both know is not in his mind--she will look at the possibility. She gave him a small cube, told him it was a puzzle, and that they could talk more when he figured it out. While he was holding it, it abruptly changed to a sphere, and he put it in his pocket. It appears to me that it's a magical device which responds to emotional states, but with his background in magic, I imagine he's worked out that much already.
Whisp and I managed to track Marileth when she left work today. It was not easy. I picked her up clairvoyantly, and he took to the air. Her car left the underground garage beneath their building through an extended tunnel which brought it to the street level several blocks away; she then sped through the city traffic for quite a few miles, reaching an abandoned railway station on the edge of town, and entering through a security door. I was able to follow her clairvoyantly, and was watching as she got out of the car; but she suddenly became aware of me--she looked straight at me, and threw an arm and a string of words in my direction. My clairvoyance crashed, and I was under attack.
I cannot say what it was that attacked me. My best guess is that it was a demon, but I've never fought anything like it. It went for my weakness--my breathing. My asthma, which had been dormant since I entered the verse, hit with a vengeance. I was gasping for breath, and in great pain. I generally had practiced holding my breath, and knew I could remain conscious for several minutes at this oxygen level; but I would have to make those minutes count. As I telepathically notified Whisp of my position and condition, I found the albuterol inhaler I still carried in my pocket for emergencies. Too much of that could prove fatal itself; but I was able to get some into my lungs, enough that I could draw breath and speak. Ask, and it shall be given to you. Be it done for you as you wish. At the same time, I focused on my breathing, keeping it slow, regular, relaxed. I wasn't losing yet. After several minutes, I was still conscious. Whisp was miles away; he would not reach me soon. I would have to come through this on my own. But I was going to. By the time he reached me, I was exhausted, but had won. He carried me home.
I had not realized how useful Whisp could be. That computer in his head can interface with just about anything around. In a few hours, he was able to create a paper trail giving me a complete history--I now have my bachelor's in Biblical Studies at Gordon, followed by a J.D. from Delaware Law, a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Chicago based on changes in Greek usage between the Septuagint and the New Testament, a Th.D. from Wheaton with a thesis on the wrath of God in the Epistle to the Romans, and a Ph.D. in computer science from M.I.T. for creating a framework for definitions for artificial intelligence systems. My entire record is on file with the N.S.A., where I hold the rank of Captain and am head of Bureau 13: Supernatural Investigations. My N.S.A. folder shows citations for valor, skills in martial arts, firearms, and primitive weapons. My code name is "sea turtle". As to Whisp, he's listed as Lieutenant John Blonde, code named Whisp, with ratings in demolitions, firearms, computers, and martial arts. We also patched up George's paper trail. He went A.W.O.L. from the army in '88 when the vams took his wife; we transferred him to the N.S.A. at that time, with ratings in marksmanship, primitive martial weapons, and demolitions, and listed him as an agent. We dropped Luke Sparks in as a lieutenant, with skills listed in civil engineering and structural analysis as well as firearms and combat driving, and assigned him as the company purchasing agent. We also added Raiden as an agent, with skills in research, document analysis, and archeology, in addition to martial arts skill. Then we issued diplomatic passports to Luke and me, created an expense account and a couple of government credit cards, and a set of cell phones. The government was now going to finance our efforts to protect humanity. Whatever trouble he's been, he's certainly worth it.
Whisp has outdone himself for making trouble this time. I don't even know where to begin. I guess it started because he gave up on Azineth; she didn't seem interested. He couldn't figure out that sphere/cube thing, so he forgot about it. Then he picked up some girl at the gym and went back to her apartment. Well, in the midst of their passion, the sphere became a pyramid, and changed shape several more times, expanding and radiating energy. I knew it responded to emotion; this was unexpected. It interrupted them when it started glowing and firing balls of flame around the room. Whisp's date was, quite reasonably, terrified; so he knocked a hole in the wall, grabbed her, and flew out. Then he tried to contact me telepathically, but something went horribly wrong. Blacking out, he plunged into the bushes below.
I got there before the police, and waved my credentials around. Whisp was one of my agents, and the bomb which damaged the apartment was probably an attempt on his life; I didn't think the girl was involved, but I would investigate that; I would also take Whisp into my custody--he was screaming uncontrollably, and it took a few faith-filled words of scripture to get him and the girl under control. Then I got my next shock: I had Whisp's body, but this was not Whisp. It was Chikiqua, black newlywed who was enjoying a drive-in movie in the back seat of a car with her husband on their rather limited honeymoon when suddenly she wasn't there, and she wasn't herself. I assured her that I could fix this, although at that moment I hadn't a clue how. I also found out where the drive-in was; but Whisp was gone before I got there.
He had the presence of mind not to tip his hand. Finding himself in a woman's body, partially naked in the back seat of a car at a movie, he needed a discrete way out. So he suddenly insisted that she needed a drink, would he please go get something for her. He wasn't too pleased with this interruption, but he wasn't going to displease his bride at this moment, either, so he was gone. She was gone before he got back, trying to find her way on foot to somewhere she could reach me. The telepathy had crashed--probably brain burn from the botch--so Whisp was on her--um, his--own.
I had to use a bit of magic--faith channeled through the words of scripture--to track him down. Seek, and you will find. He, still in Chikiqua's body, had been captured by giant scarab beetles and taken to the interior of a pyramid in the local museum of natural history. They were engaged in a ritual to open the sideways, a dimension of magic which few mortals entered. I put on robes, grabbed staff, and in full regalia and authority marched in. (Knock and the door will be opened helped.) I demanded to know what they were doing with my servant--I stretched the concept, but he officially did work for me now in the N.S.A., and he had promised that he would keep his nose clean and do what I told him--he even officially withdrew from the iron man competition, as I insisted we needed a low profile, and it would be televised. The scarabs were perturbed. Servants, they said, were not allowed to take the test. This was a mistake. I remained indignant, and they gave me Chikiqua's body--complete with Whisp's spirit--which I carried out with my telekinesis. Getting the right spirit in the right body was a bit of a trick--I tried some psionics before falling back on curative magic. That left me one problem.
I had found a way to settle the girl from the bedroom; it was a bomb, I said, and she was thrown from the apartment by the blast; the rest was a nightmare she had while unconscious. But Chikiqua and her husband were too much involved in all this to brush off. I told them everything--magic, vampires, werewolves, the world they thought they knew was not what they believed. I made the sides clear, the power of God and faith to oppose the vams, the value of the wolves as allies in the fight. Then I arranged with Raal for this couple to be transported at my expense to a werewolf retreat by a lake in the woods of Canada. It would be a much nicer honeymoon than the hotel in Chicago they had planned, and would also cement their relationship with the wolves and their understanding of the world around them.
Meanwhile, I've focused some attention on the problem of bringing down Marilyn Masters and recovering the Glom Bashal. One of the obstacles is that we don't know where it is. Both her offices downtown and the railway station retreat are magically shielded from my clairvoyance and Azineth's scrying; and Whisp's scanners can't detect magic, so the thing means nothing to them. But we've studied both locations, and learned quite a bit. The railway station I examined by using the retrocognition, looking at its history to find out how it came to be what it is in the present. I had Whisp scan the complex--it also has tech screens, so he can't get inside, but we were able to identify three power lines and a number of pipes connected to it. I began to develop a plan to learn more. However at the other end things were looking rather dangerous. Whisp's computer had managed to hack into the company system, but there was an intelligence in the midst of it. It assumed that the device was an AI, but I would not leap to the conclusion that a wizard had created an artificial intelligence. I hoped that that was all it was, but I had two other possibilities to consider. One was that she had created a mind/machine interface to an enhanced human brain somewhere in there. This would solve many of the difficulties in the attempt to create thought in a machine, and seems to me both easier to accomplish and more likely to be chosen by an evil wizard. Worse than that, I considered it possible that she had managed to interface her machine with a spirit intellect, such as a demon. I had no idea how this might be done; but she was a wizard with far more experience than I, and could very well have answered that question. Whatever it was, I needed to stop it.
We had done a lot; but there was still a lot to do.
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