I do not own or receive any benefits from the Harry Potter series.

Any sufficiently advanced power may be confused with magic. Wizarding Britain is not the limit of the world. But in the end all the threads may end up in one Gordian knot there.

Out of the West

Chapter 1- Hometown boy.

Charlie Paloozi had never thought he was going to get any part of America into a war, even a hidden and unofficial one, but since he never realized he had, he never had to reexamine his place in the world. His opinion of himself as a cheerful nerd and useful government drone remained unchallenged throughout the years to come. But, after all, it was cheerful nerds who gave us the Theory of Evolution, Crazy Glue and the Atomic Bomb. Charlie Paloozi was a cheerful nerd who loved his family, his work (the cartography section of the U.S. Geological Survey) and his home town, Salem Massachusetts.

Salem MA, founded 1626, some interesting trials1692-93, population (1990 census) 33,000. Area 18.1 sq miles (8.1 land, 10 water). Charlie had been born and raised there, went to local public schools until he went to University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Information about his home town had been in his head since a grade school project. He used it as a little amusing standard as he did his work, how many Salem's did this town or National Park make. He still visited his parents and kept abreast on doings in the old place, things like major new construction and changes in census data. So when the new satellite photography came in for the Mass. Coast he set his computer to do the calculations on land/water areas so the old truths would show up, it was as much a way of making sure the system and satellite were working well as anything else.

Accordingly he was annoyed when the figures came back as Land-9.2 sq miles, Water 8.9 sq. miles. Either the area calculation program was buggy, or there was a problem in the satellite imagery. So he called up latest pictures from file on the computer and started going over each section. Everything was going fine until he got to the east end of the town, out around where Derby St. and Fort Ave went up the Eastern Peninsula, Salem Willows Park to the west and Salem Academy and the dull and uninteresting mudflats to the east. While (despite what TV shows suggested) orbiting cameras couldn't read license plates on cars from orbit, resolution was certainly good enough to show the mudflats as solid ground with major trees growing on them, and the little old Salem Academy as being a lot bigger than he remembered it, with walled in grounds extending at least a half mile into Marblehead Bay. He started to get a headache. The Bay was shallows and mudflats and dangerous to walk onto (even at low tide), and too polluted to get clams from and dull and useless and the headache got worse and Charlie started to sweat, and the Academy was a little boarding school, not hundreds of acres large, and… Finally he tagged the whole section as "Anomalous Satellite Imagery and Structures" just like the directions in the Manual for inexplicable contradictions, sent it up to the Correlations and Corrections Office, and ran to the men's room, where he managed to get to a toilet before the vomiting started. When thoroughly empty he staggered to a sink, turned on the cold water and splashed his head for a minute. The pain went away as he dried his face and hair (not any easy thing with the little paper towels they have in government offices). He went back to his office, cleared the screen, and put his head down on the desk. Maybe he should invite his parents down to his place for Christmas this year; it was such a drag driving up to Salem with the kids and all.

The tagged file went to C & C, with CCs going to a few tangentially concerned parties both in and outside of the Cartography Section. C & C wasn't very interested, all the data matched up for them so they just kill-filed the report. Most of the CCs were promptly filed and forgotten. One wasn't.

A month after Charlie had decided that his old home town was too boring a place to visit anymore (unless there was a family emergency) someone from the NIA (National Intelligence Agency) dropped in and chatted with him for a few minutes on how the new satellites were doing, were they sharp enough for accurate plotting of buildings and things? Charlie said they were the best, sharpest images ever, and the cameras had high reliability, he was adjusting seasonal stream bed paths in the Grand Teton National Park maps with them right now. When the guy, Bill Lipper, asked him about the report on the North East Coast images that he had kicked upstairs (with the note at the end: "I'm feeling very sick") Charlie didn't remember it. He really didn't remember it. He couldn't remember it.

Lipper didn't press things, and left soon after. When he got down to the lobby he got onto a public phone and called a number, one that wasn't in a government office. When the phone on the other end was picked up. Lipper identified himself and said:"Maybe", and hung up. He then drove back to his office at the Dept. of Agriculture, remembering to put his real ID tag with his real name on it clipped to his suit jacket pocket. The Devil is in the details.