Helen of Bikini
Beckton smoked a cigarette himself while Newkirk scribbled down a long note for his factory chief.
"It is a shame. I was almost finished with this. We put Fireball in a Bofors cannon - quite a lot better than Firebolts coming out of a Browning machine gun."
"We'll have someone follow up to make sure it gets finished, but you were wasted here and you know it. Anyone to recommend?"
The academic shrugged, pulling another sheaf of paper from a drawer with a ghostly hand that disappeared immediately. He kept writing.
"Dumas, perhaps. Varenne? He and Ealing were competent enough."
Agent Beckton coughed discreetly.
"Missing, dead, recruited. Ealing is waiting for you at Los Alamos."
"Dumas and Varenne? They were good."
"They stayed in Paris with the Resistance. We haven't heard back."
Newkirk sighed deeply. In moments like this, the cost of war seemed awfully high.
Not that he had any right to complain.
Comments (7 so far!)
Spells from the Fifth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons. Firebolt is a cantrip (effectively zeroth-level) spell dealing 5.5 damage (average) to a single target. Fireball is a third-level spell deal 28 damage (average) in a 6-metre radius.
This is roughly comparable to the upgrade from a heavy water-cooled machine gun to the 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft cannon which was widely used by WW2 forces. Not coincidentally, this is also the weapon upgrade - the previous Firebolt spell was compact enough to be cast into a 12.7x99mm (.50 BMG) cartridge and belt-fed into a machine gun, while the significantly more complex Fireball spell requires a 40×311mmR autocannon round which is held in four-round magazines.
The Bofors anti-aircraft cannon was a very effective long-range weapon mounted in twin- and quad-gun arrangements on ships and ground defences throughout the war.
As a highly fluent wizard of the modern age, Newkirk uses the spell Ghost Hand almost unconsciously to assist him.
- #3059 Posted 1 month ago
Dumas and Varenne are stations of the Paris Metro. Ealing a station on the London Underground.
Los Alamos is the location where much of the Manhattan Project was conducted.
The French Resistance conducted a wide range of covert warfare operations after the capitulation of France to the Axis forces. What Dumas and Varenne were doing in Paris before they stayed behind is not stated.
In this world, magic is common but magicians are not. Master magicians are the equal in rarity and value to the scientists of the Second World War - von Braun, Oppenheimer, Einstein. University graduates might suffice as apprentices, and dedicated laymen might have command of a handful of lesser spells. And while powerful magicians are required to cast powerful spells, the true value of men like Newkirk is in their application of novel techniques and methods to the existing magical canon - in the invention of wholly new magic.
- #3060 Posted 1 month ago
Lastly, "Helen of Bikini" is the name of the bomb detonated in the second test ("Baker") of the round of nuclear tests codenamed "Crossroads" that directly followed Trinity. Baker test was conducted less than two weeks before the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and captured the results of detonating a nuclear bomb underwater. The resulting, catastrophic contamination of dozens of ships used in the test and millions of tons of seawater could be said to be the first nuclear disaster.
- #3061 Posted 1 month ago
I nearly forgot about the magic. Thank you for the background comments. It makes this so much deeper. This story is genius.
- #3064 Posted 1 month ago
I recognized the 5E spells but because of the Harry Potter Brand (and echo of WWII in the Deathly Hallows) I was confused by Firebolt because I thought of a broom first. Not your fault. Agree with Elsha that the background elevates this story (which I already liked) to genius. I was curious about the name and thought this was going to be a romance. Keep trucking!
- #3074 Posted 1 month ago
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OperationCrossroads - 1946, not 1945.
- #3081 Posted 1 month ago
Excellent catch, WhiteHat, and that makes much more sense of a few other quotes I've seen. Correcting the previous paragraph to the following, since we can't edit comments:
Lastly, "Helen of Bikini" is the name of the bomb in the second ("Baker") test of the series codenamed "Crossroads", the first post-war nuclear tests. Baker test captured the results of detonating a nuclear bomb underwater. The resulting, catastrophic contamination of dozens of ships used in the test and millions of tons of seawater could be said to be the first nuclear disaster.
- #3082 Posted 1 month ago
Inspired by (sequel to):
The professor drew deeply on his cigarette, the end burning brightly in the semi-darkness. He was lo…Trinity
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