Song of the Earth
The Virtual Adept
A skinny, white sixteen year-old boy, all awkward angles. Will typically has heavy dark circles under his pale blue eyes — he’s not sleeping much these days. His blond hair is often rumpled, and he wears variations on the same dark clothing day in and day out: jeans, a longsleeved t-shirt, and preferably nothing on his feet at all if he’s indoors. He’s gone through a growth spurt so he’s nearly 5’10" now, but he hasn’t otherwise filled out to match the height.
Will isn’t so great at making eye contact. Usually he’s full of an anxious, fidgety tension, making him prone to tics such as fiddling with whatever’s close at hand or nervously tapping his feet. He is extremely protective of his personal space.
Born in Davenport, Iowa, in 1976, Will was the only child of Dylan and Gabrielle Harrison. He was precocious, if always a bit socially inept, and far closer to his mother than to his father. Unfortunately Gabrielle died in a car accident when he was seven years old. Instead of becoming closer in their grief, Dylan and Will grew apart, as the former became emotionally withdrawn and the latter discovered and threw himself wholeheartedly into computer programming. His paternal grandfather talked Dylan into indulging his interest, and at eight he was given his own computer, a Commodore 64. If Dylan hoped it would bring them closer together, it didn’t: Will grew more fixated, and less interested in making friends or spending time with his father.
By eleven, he had convinced Dylan to invest in a dial-up connection. In the late eighties there was almost nothing to do on the internet but connect to text-based BBSes, but Will didn’t care. He was hooked. At thirteen he was already a pretty talented programmer and hacker, though he tended to break into things just to prove that he could, downloading whatever information he could find but leaving servers undamaged. He met his match when he tried to break into a server over in the UK — one belonging to a Virtual Adept named Kate. Recognizing his talent, she led him around in circles for a while before guiding him through his Awakening. Kate took Will on as a student, and although they’ve never met in meatspace they remain incredibly close. For the next two and a half years Will’s life remained about as simple as a young Mage’s can be — he went to school during the day (most of the time), and at night he logged into the Digital Web to explore and train with his mentor. He had few local friends, but made many acquaintances and allies online.
On March 18, 1992, his life changed forever. He and a classmate, Sonia Farooqi, realized that something in their school was sapping their life essence. They tracked it to a utility closet, where they confronted the man who seemed to be behind it: Jeffrey Moor. He defeated them handily and they were left with more questions than answers. Later, Sonia confessed that she, too, was a Mage — a Euthanatos. They soon befriended two others: Christine Morris and Sid Sterling. With their new Hermetic and Akashic companions, they tried to investigate the ritual site again. Just as Sonia realized that it was actually some kind of mouth, it opened up and Jeffrey returned to defeat the children and abduct Will.
Jeffrey took him to meet Jerusha, who claimed to be a Nephilim. Tricked by her powers, Will left believing that she was an angel and that Jeffrey, albeit unscrupulous, was simply working for her. After Jeffrey dropped him off on the side of the road somewhere, Will attempted to hitch a ride with Chad Smith. Jahan Meshadi was already in the car, although he introduced himself as Will. The boys quickly realized that Chad was not taking them back to town at all and attempt to escape, but he knocks them out. They awakened tied up in a shack in the woods. Will realized that Jahan wasn’t entirely mundane when he began to speak to the ghosts of other dead children — Chad was a serial killer of young boys. This was the first time he heard the name Joshua. Jerusha rescued them at the last minute, and in the hospital, the other Mage kids invited Jahan (revealed to be a Dreamspeaker) to join a newly-forged cabal called the Children of Vision. The cabal managed to convince Jerusha to fire Jeffrey, offering to work for her instead.
Jahan informed Will that he could see spirits following him, and the two of them and Sonia met to commune with them. In the process, they learned that Will was directly descended from former US president William Henry Harrison, and that he was being haunted by vengeance spirits set on his family line by Tecumseh. They planned to kill him, but Jahan convinced them to strike a bargain instead: Will needed to find a way to continue Tecumseh’s work, to eliminate Jeffrey Moor, and to get over his own prejudices against, of all people, jocks.
Jeffrey was the most immediate problem. Kate helped them to locate Linda, a nearby Virtual Adept. She and the cabal planned to subdue Jeffrey and turn him over to the local authorities. They attacked him while he was asleep at his hotel, intending to use carbon monoxide to keep him unconscious until the police turned up. It backfired: Jeffrey woke up and began to attack Sonia, and Jahan realized that Jeffrey was actually a Nephandus. Panicked for his friends, Will transformed the air around him into fluorine gas and melted him to death. Committing murder with magic inflicted him with jhor, to say nothing of the run-of-the-mill psychological effects. His affection for Sonia grew deeper as time went on, with both of them somewhat too shy to express their feelings for quite some time.
Will and Sonia met Jacob at a party over their spring break. While drunk, Will allowed Jacob to feed off of him, and the vampire fed him a sip of his own blood in turn, bonding Will to him. He and Sonia had to help him get home safely. By the end of the week, he is second-step bonded to Jacob, and over time he began to acquire some small benefits through drinking the vampire’s blood.
Later, Jerusha gave Will a book written by Ada Lovelace, the founder of the Virtual Adepts while they were still a Technocratic convention, the Difference Engineers. Building off the information inside, Will, Kate, and Jahan worked together to enter the network mentally via the Digital Web. In the process, Jahan converted from Dreamspeaker to Virtual Adept, while the slowly strengthening vampiric blood bond caused Will to fail a Seeking. Upon emerging from the network, they found that Matt’s Virtual Adept contact Devona had taken out Linda and stolen copies of all their data. When Will and Jahan reconvened with their cabal, Christine connected it to the Dream of a Thousand Cats and suggested that the network might have the power to rewrite reality itself.
Rising tensions over Jacob’s presence and the revelation that he had blood bonded Will caused the cabal to begin to fall apart. Will grew very close to Jahan, who shared his own magickal history with him; as it turned out, he was now on his fourth paradigm. Meanwhile Sonia’s mentor Matt was the first to uncover the bond, and he brought his student to Will’s house to confront the vampire. They weren’t counting on Juggler, a Brujah Jacob once diablerized who was still able to psychically lash out at those around him. Between Jacob, Juggler, and Will, Matt and Sonia were effectively repelled. The Children of Vision, less Will, began to plot to have Jacob removed. They had Jahan invite Will over to play video games while the three of them confronted Jacob at Will’s place. But this time Jacob had another friend with him, the Brujah Cudro. He dealt with the Mages. But Jerusha appeared through Will’s front door, blinded Sonia, knocked out Jacob, and kicked Cudro onto the hood of Dylan’s car just as he was pulling in from work. Jahan, feeling guilty, had confessed the group’s plans to Will; the pair were just in time to see the ensuing car accident as they came to intervene.
Will convinced Jerusha to leave. Sonia apologized to Will and told him he needed to get going before the Technocrats descended on the place. He did, without her. He, Dylan, Jacob, Jahan, and Cudro hit the road for Chicago.