Yesterday was Attack, today I bring you Triage.
Whereas the last scene was all about Kerry, this one is all about Annie. It’s the same time frame, but from a different perspective–as if I need to tell you. That’s why the time stamps, so people will see this is all happening about the same time.
Let get right into what’s going on inside the Great Hall.
(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
17:06 to 17:10
The lights were on in the Rotunda now that the sun was nearly set. They’d actually come on almost thirty minutes early; Annie suspected Nurse Coraline asked for them on, as the encroaching gloom was becoming a bit overwhelming for the other girls.
With the approaching twilight the blue dome over The Pentagram shone brighter than during the day. There was a light glow that was most noticeable when standing near the middle of the large, open space beneath the skylight, but even from the slides it drew the eye upward.
Annie tried not to spend a lot of time staring up into space, and once her noon rest had completely she’d set about sorting supplies with Nurse Bianca and Sahkyo, who was still in awe after her little demonstration before her rest. Annie wanted to keep busy so her mind wouldn’t wander and she’d begin thinking of all the nasty, horrible things that Lisa’s taunts had brought up, but there was only much they could do until it became necessary to spring into action and do what was necessary to tend to the incoming wounded—
She considered wandering across the Rotunda and walking up to the East Transept Gallery on the First Floor, because she wasn’t feeling sociable. Annie was tense because her sense was bothering her—the other sense that was developing, but that she’d yet to use. She stopped and rolled her eyes at that thought, because she knew better. I’ve had visions before, though not like that one . . .
But this wasn’t so much a vision as a sensation of something coming, that an event was about to occur, one so large—
Damn those visions. And when she talks about that vision–hey, you know eventually I’ll get around to telling you what it was. This makes Annie a bit like her mom, but we already know she’s special in a witchy way . . .
Unfortunately, we already know she’s right.
There were numerous flashes overhead bright enough to drag Annie’s attention. But these flashes were blue: they were red and crimson and orange, and were coming from beyond The Pentagram screen. She spun around towards the triage area. “Something’s going on out there.”
Nagesa was now looking up and out through the skylight. “That’s the outer screen.”
“You sure?” Before the girl could answer there were two yellow flashes bright enough to leave afterimages on Annie’s eyes. She saw the blue Pentagram screen vibrate and cycle through several different shades of blue before returning to its normal appearance. “What was that?”
Coraline teleported onto the ground floor from where she’d been in the hospital. “Did you see that?”
Nagesa nodded. “Yes. Annie saw it, too.”
Everyone starts seeing flashes in the sky, it’s not a good sign. Well, anytime there were flashes in the sky people usually took it to mean that bad things were coming. All they need now–
–is to hear a warning from the Voice of Doom . . .
“Attention, this is Fortress. Our outer defense screen has been breached and hostiles are now inside the school grounds.” The voice continued on as if they were announcing a change in the lunch schedule. “We are instituting Level Three Security protocols. All coven administrative assistants will escort their students to the safe zones in the coven tower sub-levels; all upper coven tower level are to be evacuated immediately. Students are to remain in the coven tower sub-levels until further notice.” There was a slight pause as if the person making the announcement was checking to see if there was additional information. “That is all.”
Get the kids in the basement–sorry, the sub-levels–and get them even more protected. This is what is known as “Go Time” for the Triage Group, and it’s time to Coraline to rally ’round the troops. As you will see, this is where people find out about that, “Did I sign up for this?” clause that usually comes from volunteering for something and not thinking through just what that something really means. Like, you know: being above ground in an exposed area when everyone else is heading underground to safety . . .
Coraline clapped her hands together hard. “Everyone, over here.” She waited for all the nurses and triage volunteers to gather around before launching into her speech. “This is it, guys. We can expect casualties to come in at any time, because if there are bad guys on the grounds, that means they’ll be fighting.”
“Wait a minute—” Lisa moved around Nurse Gretchen so she was standing directly in front of Coraline. “They said to evacuate the towers—”
“Do we look like we’re in a tower?” Coraline spread her arms and looked around. “No, honey: you stay right here. That’s the job.”
Sahkyo was the next with a question. “Is there any point where we would leave?”
“Yeah . . .” Coraline nodded slowly. “Security Level Five.”
Annie figured it best to stop anymore questions. “And what is Security Level Four?”
Coraline tackled the questions by order of their numbers. “SL Four has all the students evacuating the towers and moving to secure bunkers below the sub-levels of the Great Hall.”
This was the first that Annie knew there was something below the sub-levels of this main building. “And Five?”
The silence stretched on for close to five seconds. “Full evacuation of the school. If we ever get to Five we’ve lost, or are about the lose, The Pentagram.” She changed her tone to one of optimism. “But that ain’t happening today, kids. We’re gonna be okay. Just trust in our teams out there to handle the situation, and we’ll do our job if they come in. Okay?” She examined the faces of the four volunteers and knew she could depend on at least three of them, which meant Coraline wasn’t worried. “Let’s find our places, everyone.”
Look at Coraline: is she bovvered? Does her face look bovvered? No. And she’s pretty sure she can count on most of her girls. There’s even one girl in particular she needs a favor from . . .
Annie turned and headed for her station, but she’d only walked a couple of meters when Coraline tapped her on the shoulder as she passed behind. “Annie? A moment, please?”
Coraline headed for the West Transept; once they were out of sight of everyone, she asked the most blunt question she’d ever asked a student. “Could you perform Exsanguination on a person if necessary?”
In case you were wondering from the last time Lovely Professor Lovecraft brought this up, Exsanguination is the draining of blood from a person in sufficient quantities to cause death. That’s why it’s considered a death spell, because in right hands one could drain the blood from another person quickly enough to just up and kill them, letting them collapses in a heap around a pool of their own fluids.
Annie’s now got the school doctor asking her if she could kill someone for real. What does Annie say? What do you think?
Though she was a bit shocked by the question, Annie wasn’t surprised. Coraline knew about her skill with Air Hammer, and she figured she’d not only read The Foundation entry reports, but had received updates from Professor Lovecraft. There was only one answer she could give. “Yes.”
“Yes, Nurse Coraline.” She glanced in the direction of the triage center. “If it means no one getting killed.”
“Okay.” She rubbed here chin. “Are there any other Morte spells I should know about?”
“I’ve practiced Resistance, but I don’t know if it is that good.”
Coraline nodded. “If there were any trouble in here . . .” She gently laid her right hand on Annie’s shoulder. “I don’t want you to hold back. You have my permission to go at any bad guys as hard as you like.”
Annie never expected to find herself in a position where a member of the school staff would give her permission to kill Deconstructors indiscriminately. Then again, this is what I get for not going to the tower . . . “I’ll do my best, Nurse Coraline.”
She gave Annie’s shoulder a squeeze. “I hate to lay this on you, but you’re the closest we’ve got to a bad ass sorceress right now. My nurses can help, but . . .” She also glanced in the direction of the triage center. “If it gets crazy in her, they’ll be busy.”
Annie placed her hand on Coraline’s. “I’ll do what I can.”
“Okay.” Coraline gave Annie a little pat on the shoulder. “Let’s get to our places.” She turned and headed out of the transept.
Annie started ahead for a few moments, going over Coraline’s words. She’s giving me permission to kill—just like I was a real sorceress. It wasn’t that Annie was bothered by the idea that it might be necessary to throw spells with the intention of killing others . . .
But she was troubled by the thought that she would find it enjoyable.
So there you have it: Annie is promoted to Triage Bad Ass Sorceress and told to smite the bad guys as much as possible–and she’s worried that her inner Dark Witch is gonna enjoy the hell out of that should it happen. Just what every twelve year old needs to think about: Am I gonna like having to bleed out bad guys should it come to that? Ah, that Annie: don’t get on her bad side.
With this scene, almost another twelve hundred words, I’m close to going over my “Biggest Novel Ever” limit, and Kerry’s going to do that in the next scene. Given that Annie started this mess way back in October, it only right that Kerry tip it over the top. Maybe tonight, after I finish my nails, we can see if Kerry gets out of the sky in one piece.