Ismail was nervous, which was understandable. He was being smuggled into the military headquarters of a foreign nation to do something that was probably going to destabilize their government. The members of that government would probably call him a terrorist, which was fine with Ismail – he’d certainly succeeded in terrifying himself
To be fair, he’d been terrified since the Caliph had given him this task. His family had served the Caliph of the day since his ancestor Gabal had fled Constantium just ahead of arrest. Gabal had spent the rest of his life dueling evil sorcerers, banishing demons and bolstering the Caliph’s forces with magic. He’d served not because he’d converted to Islam but because he’d believed in what the Caliph was doing. Ismail had that belief in common with his distant ancestor.
The Caliph was concerned about the behavior of the government of the most populous nation on the northern half of Vinland. Their own military was concerned about them which was why he was entering the Pentagon-
“We’re coming up to the security check now,” said the general whose legs and overcoat hid him, huddled on the floor of the car, “don’t even breathe hard.”
Inside the grounds, the car was parked and Ismail left it with the general and his staff officer, dressed in a major’s uniform. He’d had to sacrifice his beard, but that was a small matter. They went straight to a basement room where an exhausted Knight of the Church in a naval chaplain’s uniform had preparations well underway. The Knights’ covert persecution was but one thing that disturbed the Caliph. The man in the cleaner’s uniform helping him belonged to a lodge that’d been dealing with such things since before Europeans had come to these shores.
It took him half an hour to be ready and only that again to perform the spell. This was the lynchpin location and Ismail had been thorough in setting up his boundaries.
“Well?” One of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was asking.
“It’s worked,” Ismail told him, “Whether it’s done what we expect will depend on what it had to work on.”
“Excuse me sirs,” that was a senior officer, “Colonel Anderson is on the line. The Congressional Chamber is almost empty. There’s a lot of reddish smoke…”
“Simulacra,” said Ismail flatly, “Not possession, replacement. Your Congressmen may still be alive but we’ll need to find them quickly.”