Enter, Stage Left

I’ve done something that’s pretty much a first for me:  I’ve written the shortest chapter of the current novel.  Really?  How short?  Two thousand, one hundred and seventeen words.  Or 2,117 if you prefer.  Yeah, that’s short.  Not the shortest I’ve ever written–in one story I have a chapter that’s just over seven hundred and fifty words–but for this monster, it’s short.

In this chapter and then next, I’ve eliminated three scenes, because on reflection they weren’t needed.  That doesn’t mean I won’t come back to Chapter Thirty-One and perhaps do a last scene, but for now, on the First Draft, I’m done, I’m through, I’m finished.

It’s really a little slice of what happens to Annie and Kerry, and while we’re known for some time that Kerry was going to perform, way way way back in the Keyboard Room–about two hundred thousand words back, I think–Annie mentioned something about drawing and artwork.  They’re walking around during this Saturday because Kerry is suffering a bout of nerves, and they head to the Atrium of the Auditorium and, well . . .

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

The atrium of the Auditorium was filled with artwork and sculptures, which were produced by students in art classes, and by those who had taken the time to create work on their own. They walked through the gallery area; Kerry found the work incredible. I was actually a bit jealous of those who could draw, because he had so many ideas that he wanted to see as something real, and being able to draw would allow that to happen . . .

He stopped before a large ink drawing of a scene in the mountains. Annie stood to one side and examined the drawing. “What do you think?”

“I love it.” He absorbed the stark lines and shadows. “I love the mountains, and this makes me want to be there.”

“I know how that feels . . .” She stepped to the side an Kerry saw a card with her name on it. “It’s the view from the back porch of my parent’s house.”

“Really?” Kerry took a closer look. “Can you see this from your bedroom?”

“No, but I can from my sitting room.”

Kerry slowly turned his head to the left. “You have a sitting room?”

Annie tossed her head to one side and smiled coyly. “A girl needs a place to entertain visitors.” She tugged on his sleeve. “Look here—”

 

Yes, Kerry, your soul mate has a sitting room–what girl doesn’t?  And one doesn’t need to go way out on a limb and say it was Annie’s idea to have a sitting room, because she wasn’t going to let just anyone into her bedroom, and she let her parents know this fact when, I’m guessing, she was pretty young.  It says a lot of that even her mother waited in Annie’s sitting room waiting for her daughter to get up, and didn’t burst into the bedroom with a smiling face and a “Good morning, Annie!” on her lips.  She’s have probably gotten hit with Cold Fire if she had.

Annie’s dragging Kerry around to the other side of the art wall, because . . .

 

Kerry was dragged to the other side of the partition upon which her inking hung. There, opposite the drawing, hung a large large painting done in oils. He didn’t need to ask who the subjects were. “That’s . . . us.”

The painting was of Annie and Kerry, both dressed in their flying leathers. Their helmets and gloves were off, but their jackets were zipped up with the collars down. Both were leaning into each other an arm around the other’s shoulders: Kerry’s right are was around Annie waste, holding her close, while her left hand rested against his chest. The background showed the Pentagram and the Great Hall in the background; Kerry recognized the point of view as being at the Observatory and facing south.

He wanted to reach out and touch the painting, but knew better. “How long did it take to make this?”

“I’ve been working on that since the middle of November.” Annie stepped up next to the name card. “I finished it about the time you were wrecked.” She pointed at the artist’s card. “Look here—”

Kerry leaned in and read the title: Baby Snakes at Laputa by Annie Kirilova.

He felt his breath catch in his throat. “This is lovely.” He saw something about his character. “My head is lowered and my eyes are closed.”

“I wanted you to be relaxed—peaceful.” Annie came around to his left and took his hand. “You know what this is, don’t you?”

He nodded. “It would have been us that day on patrol.” He glanced down for a moment. “During the Day of the Dead.”

“Sometimes I think I should have flown with you.” She clung to his arm. “I’d like to see where you hid one day.”

“I want to show it to you.” He kissed her on the forehead. “I wish you had flown with me; we’d have stated there.”

 

You wish Annie had been your wingmate that day, Kerry?  Feeling a little remorse, are we, and your other wingmate damn near got you killed?  And we know that Kerry talked about his stops at the observatory with Emma, therefore Annie had a good idea how the view would appear.  Also being immortalized in paint for everyone at the school to see is another of those cool things that they’ve done for each other.

Before Kerry heads backstage there is another exchange about Annie’s art:

 

Both turned and found Nadine standing behind them. Her eyes were locked upon the portrait. “Annie, did you paint this?”

“Yes, I did.” She and Kerry faced his musical partner.

“You did a great job. Where will you kept this?”

“I’m going to leave it in my room.” She glanced at Kerry. “I’ll leave it at the school and ask them to move it when I go to the next level.”

Kerry knew they were allowed to do that with certain personal items, but after seeing the painting he thought she would want to do something else with the painting. “You’re not taking it home?”

“I didn’t paint it so I’d only see it a few weeks out of each year.” Annie shook her head. “I want it where I’ll see it the most.”

“Makes sense.” Nadine turned to Kerry. “We’re gonna need to get set up.”

“Yeah, I know.” He nodded towards Annie. “Give me a second?”

“Sure.” Nadine headed off the backstage area.

Kerry faced Annie and took hold of her hands. “What are you going to do with the inking?”

“I was thinking about sending it home—” Her eyes twinkled. “Or giving it to you.”

His eyes lit up as well. “Really?”

“You want it?”

“Yes, please.” He closed and opened his eyes slowly. “I want to see what you see out the window of your sitting room.”

“Then it’s yours.”

“Thank you.” He pulled her close and kissed her on the lips. “I’ll keep it in my room—every year.”

 

And now Kerry’s getting an Annie original, while she’s keeping the painting.  Both will stay at the school–and what Annie isn’t saying is that leaving it in her dorm room is easier than perhaps having to explain who those Baby Snakes are, and why they look so cuddly.

Then we move out to the audience, during the performance, and there’s Annie, sitting alone, seeing the instructors, some with their significant others and even kids, and some of the parents of the students–yes, after a while you can invite them, and Annie could have asked hers because Legacies, but she wanted to avoid having to explain things . . . but that’s besides the point.  It’s time to find out what Kerry was working on for month with his tutor.

 

Professor Ellison walked off stage right as Kerry and Nadine entered from stage left. They headed straight for the equipment at the near center of the stage. As they powered up their instruments, Kerry looked out over the audience and attempted to smile. “Hi, everyone.” Annie caught the slight tremor in his voice, which carried perfectly using the same magic that the headmistress and Isis used to make school-wide announcements. “Nadine and I are gonna play Lovers in Japan by Coldplay.” He looked to his right as Nadine made her final adjustments and gave him a nod.

Before they could begin, a voice—Annie identified it as Lisa’s—rang out from somewhere from the back. “You’re gonna suck, Malibey.”

There was a slight mummer that passed through the crowd, and several of the instructors turned around with murder in their eyes. Annie worried this could rattle Kerry and ruin his performance—

He looked up from his keyboards and wrinkled his brow. “Yeah, I might. But at least we’re up here taking our shot.” He chuckled as Nadine and he slapped hand before he turned his attention back to the audience. He picked Annie out of the crowd and pointed in her direction. “This is for you, Sweetie. I hope you like it.”

As had happened at the Samhain dance, Annie felt light headed, and she gripped the armrests of her seat for support. He’d not only dedicated a song to her in front of the student body the last time, but here he was doing the same thing in front of students, staff, significant others, and parents. I can’t believe he did this again . . .

Nadine and Kerry played the first slow bars, setting the mood with their crescendoing electronic sounds, then launched into the up-tempo piano intro which Kerry played with vigor as Nadine activated the drum machines and began playing her part of the melody. He began singing, and while his voice wasn’t strong, he didn’t appear phased or embarrassed that his vocals weren’t close to perfect; if anything, he seemed to gain strength from the fact he wasn’t perfect.

Not that it mattered to Annie. It was her belief that he could spend the whole song singing off-key and playing out of tune—

It wouldn’t have mattered at all.

 

Annie’s gonna get spoiled with these song dedications:  pretty soon she’ll begin demanding one a month, and not just during special events.

So there you are:  Chapter Thirty-One Done–

Don't take my word for it:  trust what Scrivener says, too.

Don’t take my word for it: trust what Scrivener says, too.

–Which means today I get into Chapter Thirty-Two, and I answer the question someone asked, “Has Kerry ever really dreamed of Annie like she says he has?”

Yeah, you’re gonna find out.  Really.

 

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/15:  1,796

NaNo Total Word Count:  28,590

This Sorrowful Life

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything personal–okay, maybe a month, but for me that’s a while.  Or long time.  Or longer than I’m used to, but that’s how things are in my life.  And I should point out that I’m liable to say some things below that may freak others out, so if you are the kind the freaks out easily, depart before you abandon all hope.

If not, let’s roll on in, kiddies . . .

I’m mentioned, off and on over the last few weeks, that I’ve found myself fighting depression.  It’s not a lot of fun, let me tell you, ’cause it wears you out.  I once described depression as treading water in the middle of the ocean:  you’re doing all the work to stay above water while the ocean does nothing–it just sits there and waits for you to tire and go under.  That’s why if you don’t find a way to get out of the water, you’ll drown and die.  And the ocean doesn’t care ’cause it’s a force of nature.  Just like depression:  a force of nature that gives zero shits about you as a person, or for your quality of life.

And November hasn’t helped the situation much.  I’ve got a lot more pressure at work of late, and there’s NaNo, and I’m getting ready to head home at the end of the month for the first time in almost six months . . . it’s a mess.  Really, the last few weeks have started to engulf me . . .

My Resting Bitchy Face from this morning offers proof of this statement.

My Resting Bitchy Face from this morning offers proof of this statement.

Last Friday, right around noon, because I remember it being after I ate lunch at work, I started to find myself getting in a bad way.  I actually cried a little at work, but not enough that it was noticed.  Actually, nothing I do at work is noticed, so it’s not in any way unusual that people would see me sitting in my office starting to lose it.

It wasn’t until I made it home that things came right off the rails.  The moment the door shut behind me I began crying.  I was still crying when the computer came up.  In fact, I cried off and on for the better part of an hour straight, and spent the rest of the night floating in and out of the feeling that there was far too much pain in my life.

Last Saturday was my shot day, and I thought that might help me break out of the funk, but the moment the psychological effects wore off I was right back to being a maudlin little bitch.  Going out and getting makeup didn’t help; being out in the sun did nothing.  I felt as if nothing I did was helping break the feeling that, no, things weren’t going to get better.

By about three PM I’d already made up my mind:  there wasn’t any point in going on, so I might as well shuck this moral coil as fast as I can.

I started preparing for my death.

It’s not easy for me to say that last line, because that’s a hard point in your life when you hit the tipping point and realized you’ve gone from “if” to “when”.  I didn’t care, however:  once you reach that point you just wanna kept going.  It didn’t matter if I was finding the energy to love myself, because I wasn’t feeling any love coming back, and that’s something that’s so difficult to put aside an ignore.

So I started getting ready.  I knew I was going to record some videos and post them for people to view.  I rehearsed what I was going to say, and when I was going to post them.  I knew the manner in which I wanted to check out, and weighed the pros and cons of survivability.  I was all ready to go–

Save for three things.

One, that day was the last episode of Doctor Who‘s most current season.  Okay, so I sound like a geek here, but I had to see how the season ended.  Two, I was into Act Three of my huge, Infinity Jest-like novel, and that meant I was not only getting towards the end, but I was also coming up on a good part that I’ve been sitting on for over a year.  I’d made promises to people that I’d finish this damn thing, and I knew I couldn’t leave people hanging about what happens–and if that doesn’t sound like a writer’s ego hard at work, nothing does.

And finally, there are two people on my “If you die you’ll hurt them” list, and if I died now, I’d be in violation of Jacqualyn’s Law, which I named for a friend.  It’s a variation of Wheaton’s Law, though this one is geared more for women.  It says, “Don’t be a twat,” and I’d have been a massive twat if I did what I was thinking of doing.

So I settled back to watch Doctor Who, and when that was over I headed into writing.  I still hurt, I still found it difficult to get through Sunday–which I helped smooth out by doing more writing–and I made it into Monday, then Tuesday, then . . .

Here.  Today.

Last night I felt the depression coming on again, and I was really not looking forward to dealing with this crap.  Then I noticed someone I’d just reconnected with on Facebook was trying to get my attention.  She’s a transwoman from Canada who transitioned decades ago, and we’ve shared some information over the months.

We started talking, and we talked, and we discussed why I was depressed, and why I felt suicidal, and were there things that I wanted to do that may have made me feel this way.  And there were answers to those questions, and a lot more–

And by the time we were finished, we’d chatted for about three hours, and I felt a whole lot better than I had when the evening had started.

As you can see, I'm actually smiling a little.

As you can see, I’m actually smiling a little.

Things aren’t “over”, but they’re better.  Much better.  I had some plans I want to discuss with my therapist when I see her the Monday before Thanksgiving, and I hope she agrees that it’s time I actually move on these things.  I’m not feeling the trepidation about going home that I have had for a while–it’s going to be the first time I’m going to be Cassie with them full-time since I’ve started transitioning, and while I’m certain my daughter will be cool with it–after all, we went out shopping together as daughter and, um, other mother–I can’t say the other person in the house is gonna dig things.  Maybe I’ll have to cook a couple of good dinners to break the ice . . .  And I’m going to start taking the first steps towards getting my name changed.

But mostly I’ve chilled on the death stuff.  I’m still in the ocean, but I feel like I’m closer to shore, and if you keep moving towards shore, eventually you get up onto dry land and you don’t have to wear yourself out treading water.  And if I can’t get onto dry land, maybe I can get somewhere shallow enough that I can rest once in a while.

This Sorrowful Life.  Sometimes you find yourself surround by bad people and zombies, and you have the choice of either giving in and joining one of the two hordes, or you fight back against the hell that waits outside your walls.  Neither is an easy choice, but you have to make one, because doing nothing is not an option.  You must make a choice.

I mentioned in one of my last videos that you have a choice with transition:  become who you are, or die.  I said I’m trying to get off the death track and be who I am, and last night I finally felt as if I was bucking that first track and leaving it behind.  I hope to make it so.

I really do.

Pudding and Pledges

I’m actually in a good place this morning, even though the last hour and a half saw me drifting in and out of sleep with a sore back.  And I almost didn’t get into writing last night, because I didn’t start until about eight-thirty, which meant I was dragging my feet to do some work.

I didn’t need worry, however, because once I started writing the scene came to me.  It also helped that I “talked it out” several times over the last couple of days, so I kinda knew what I wanted Annie and Kerry to say.  It can be a strange sort of way to do things, I know, but I’ve done this for years, going all the way back to 2012 when I used to do this driving back and forth to Indianapolis when I was working for the state of Indiana.  And I do it now walking to and from work.  So why stop a good thing?

It would seem Annie made it back to the Great Hall, and she gathered her things for a night stay in Bay #1 at the hospital, and there is this going on . . .

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry slowly strained the pudding inside his mouth and swallowed it little by little. When he was finished he shook his head before another spoonful headed his was. “You don’t have to feed me anymore.”

A wide grin spread across Annie’s face. “But there’s only like three more spoonfuls remaining.” She looked in the bowl sitting upon the adjustable table almost even with the propped up Kerry’s chest. “You haven’t had much to eat tonight; at least finish your desert.”

He knew there wasn’t much of a chance he was gonna talk Annie out of not giving him the rest of the chocolate pudding she requested. He’d been on an IV since being brought in, and all he’d managed earlier in the evening was a bowl of French onion soup—one which Annie fed to him because he was having trouble using his left hand due to his fractured wrist.

By the time the pudding arrived for a “late night snack,” Annie had changed into her blue flannel pajamas and matching bootie slippers, and left her robe across the foot of Bed #1, not needing it at the moment because the hospital was always kept at a comfortable temperature, and the bay curtain was closed and secured.

 

Annie:  Feeding her boyfriend pudding.  In some cultures that’s the same as being married, right?  I’m sure Trevor could find a citation . . .

And Kerry is enjoying the attention even if he is protesting lightly.  Just six months before he was hiding out in his room with his computer and having no contact with anyone, and now he’s on his fourth overnight stay after getting busted up or electrocuted–thanks, Mistress of All Things Dark!–and receiving all sorts of attention from a girl he met in a bookstore.  But Kerry wants to talk about something besides pudding, because he isn’t Carl Grimes.

 

“Maybe.” Kerry started to look away out of habit and stopped as he was still wearing a neck brace. Nurse Gretchen had come in about an hour before and exchanged the hard brace for a soft one, telling him he’d need to sleep with it on. This restricted his head moment, which prevented him from looking down or away, or nodding in agreement. “Professor Salomon came back to see me tonight.”

“When?” Annie was surprised to discover she’d returned after having spent most of the afternoon in the hospital while Kerry was being worked on.

“Not long after you guys left.” He took a deep breath as he stared straight ahead. “She wanted to know a few things.”

“Like?”

“Like if I was gonna retaliate against Lisa for what she did.” He tried to shake his head again and gave up. “I told her no; I said I was done with that.”

Annie nodded for him. “Good to hear.”

He paused for almost ten seconds. “She told me you got detention.”

“Why did she do that?” She’d planed to tell him before they turned in tonight, and Annie was slightly miffed that the professor had told Kerry.

“She told me you went after Lisa after you left the hospital—”

“She was saying mean things about you.”

“Yeah, the professor mentioned that.” He kept his eyes turned towards Annie. “She wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to go after Lisa for that.”

I can see her wanting to know Kerry’s intentions. “What did you tell her?”

“That it was between Lisa and you, and it wasn’t my business.” He chuckled when he realized he was about to shake his head. “She let me know that it was a good idea to let it die.”

 

There’s Vicky trying to prevent an all-out war because Lisa and her German minion, and the Lovey Dovey Couple.  Probably because she knows the school can’t tolerate that kind of fighting, but more likely due to her knowing Annie and Kerry could kill those two, and since they aren’t that skilled yet, more than likely would.  And you can’t have that.  No, you can’t.

He has other questions, too:

 

“No problem.” Kerry did nothing but stare lovingly at Annie. “Is that why you got detention?”

“Partially.” Annie looked down at Kerry’s broken wrist. “I left class without permission when I came here.”

“Why did you do that?”

“Because I was worried about you.” She moved as close as she could to him without disturbing his injured body. “You took a hard hit; I wanted to make sure you were okay.”

“Yeah, but . . .” Kerry tried his best to look concerned. “I didn’t want you to get in trouble.”

“It’s okay—it’s only two hours this Saturday. I’ll do it while you’re working on your Ostara performance.”

“Sounds good.”

Annie didn’t want the comment about detention to end without an explanation. “Lisa was saying mean things about you. I didn’t handle it well.” She shook her head as she lightly rubbed his left forearm. “I wasn’t a good sorceress; I didn’t keep my wits about me.”

Kerry chuckled. “I was thinking that right before . . .” He thought about how to say the next part. “Before Emma and I almost crashed. It popped into my head right before I yelled at her to land.”

“You kept your wits about you.” For which I’m thankful . . .

 

Both kids seem to have the whole “Being a good sorceress” thought on their minds, and Kerry comes out with a confession.

 

“I’d rather I didn’t. Talk about not keeping your wits about you.” He settled back into his pillow. “I worry about you.”

Annie twisted her mouth. “Do you now.”

“Yeah.”

“Why?” She untwisted her mouth into a smile. “I can take care of myself, in case you hadn’t noticed.”

“I have noticed.”

“Then?”

Kerry saw no point in avoiding the truth. “Because I love you. Because you’re important to me. Because, right now, you’re my life. Because you’re my soul mate.” He rested his left hand upon here knee. “I see you in the morning, I see you at night. I’m with you eating, I’m with you walking, I’m with you in class. I’m with you when we’re relaxing and when we’re flying.” He sighed long and low. “You’re more important to me, in a lot of ways, than my parents. I mean, I’ve only heard from them four times, and two of those were about Yule. And I haven’t heard from them since coming back—”

“I know.” It saddened Annie to know that Kerry’s parents didn’t seem invested in his education or in his personal life while he was away from home.

“And my mother would have never fed me pudding.”

“Silly.” Annie playfully slapped at his arm. “I enjoyed feeding you pudding.”

 

He’s got those feelings of worrying about his sweetie because, well, it comes with the territory as he says later.  And we see a bit more of his family interactions, which are to say none.  He also likes Annie feeding him pudding, but he’s probably gonna need to get really busted up again to enjoy that.

This gets Annie to admit that she worries about him, too, because she loves him, and that she knows she’s guilty of getting nutty when someone says or does something to Kerry.  And she brings up a line that Vicky dropped on her, while at the same time comes up with a solution . . .

 

“No, we can’t.” She slowly ran a finger down the side of Kerry’s chest. “Otherwise it’ll be a long next five years for us both.”

Kerry finally managed a small nod. “I don’t want that—there’s gonna be way too much to do, and I’d rather spend the time with you as drama-free as possible.”

“As would I.” She held out her right hand palm up. “Give me your hand.”

“Like this?” He set his hand in hers.

“Yes.” She’d debated doing this, but thought it might not be a bad thing for them to share. “I want to offer you my pledge—”

“Like a promise?”

“Yes, like that.” She gently tightened her hand around his. “I love you, Kerry. You are my soul mate and the most important person in my life. I do worry about you, about your health, your troubles, your injuries, and those people who may want to do you harm. From this point on I promise that I will always temper my worry for you, and where you are concerned I will always keep my wits about me.”

Kerry closed his fingers around Annie’s hand before she could release. “I love you, Annie. You are my soul mate and you are the most important person in my life. I worry about you, about your health, your troubles, your injuries, and those foolish people who may want to do you harm. From this point on I promise that I will always temper my worry for you, and where you are concerned I will always keep my wits about me.”

Annie didn’t let go of Kerry’s hand, and he held on to hers as well as they lowered them into his lap. “You know what we did—” She tilted her head forward. “Don’t you?”

“That was a Sorceress’ Bargain, right?” He tried not to press his cast against her arm.

She nodded. “Yes. Your first.”

“Yeah, and with you, too.” He grinned. “We didn’t set a punishment if we break it.”

“It doesn’t matter—” She kissed his cheek. “We won’t.”

“I know we won’t.” He chuckled. “My Dark Witch doesn’t break her word.”

“Nor does my Dark Witch—” She rested her head against his shoulder. “And you’re getting good at those things I’m showing you.”

“It just takes time.” Kerry wanted to lean his head into Annie’s hair, but the brace prevented that from happening. “I’ll get there.”

 

That line, “Yeah, and with you, too,” is the indication that Kerry isn’t all that unfamiliar with a Sorceress’ Bargain, since he did something similar to Emma before cutting out at Yule.  After all this time of hanging with Annie he’d know what one is–she would have told him about the one did made with Helena–and probably explained it to him as well.  The fact that he knows you’re suppose to set a punishment says he knows a bit about them–and given that he did set a punishment when he was holding Emma’s hand and telling her what he wanted, it’s even more of an indication that he’s somewhat versed in them.  And that Emma wasn’t.

Now it is time for bed, and Chapter Thirty ends this way:

 

Annie slid off the bed and walked around the foot to the other side. “Should I get Nurse Gretchen for anything? You need something to sleep?”

“Naw, I’m good.” He shifted his eyes to the IV bag that the night nurse had replaced an hour before. “That’s handling the pain.”

“And she’s changed your catheter bag—” She began lowering his bed back. “You need a bedpan?”

“It’s been all liquids tonight. I should be all right.” He waited until the bed angle was right. “Stop there. I like that.”

“Okay.’ She leaned over Kerry and gave him a long, loving kiss on the lips. “I’ll see you in the morning, my love.”

“See you in the morning, Sweetie.” He kept smiling as she pulled the comforter up to his shoulders. “Good night, Annie. I love you.”

She kissed him once more. “Leka nosht, Kerry. I az te obicham.” She hopped into her own bed and snuggled under the covers before ordering the lights off. Annie rolled onto her left side and slipped a second pillow between her arms as she stared into the darkness, listening to his breathing slow as he sunk into unconsciousness. She so wanted to crawl into his bed and lie next to him, but she’d promised to stay in her own bed, and she didn’t want to end up responsible if she rolled onto his wrist and it ended up broken again—

In time she drifted off into her own dreams, imagining the pillow she was hugging was far more important to her . . .

 

That chapter is over, and Thirty-One waits tonight.  It’s Ostara, Kerry gets to play, and I don’t expect this to be a long chapter, more a look at festivities and how some people handle them.  I imagine I’ll get through the first scene tonight, and maybe even start on the second as well.  Depending on what I have to say, I could even finished up the new chapter by tomorrow–

Not to mention I so want to get to Chapter Thirty-Two.

Because I so want to get to Chapter Thirty-Two.

Because that’s where the fun really starts.

 

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/13:  2,134

NaNo Total Word Count:  26,519

Pavilion on the Meadow

While I managed to get a lot done yesterday, it wasn’t a whole lot, if you know what I mean.  The writing was there, but I seemed disconnected last night.  Probably due to the fact there were tons of people in Panera last night, and I couldn’t get YouTube to stream worth a damn for most of that time, so it was a bit distracting.  Also, even thought Wednesday is my Write Night, I wasn’t feeling the writing love.  Off night:  you know how it goes.

But I did manage to get Annie so upset that I had to find some choice words for her to say in her native language.  That’s always fun.

Always know what your swearing Bulgarian is saying.

Always know what your swearing Bulgarian is saying.

And how did that get applied?  Like this:

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

She’d barely taken a couple of steps out of the hospital when she heard someone yell her name. “Hey, it’s Annie—girlfriend to Kerry ‘Crashibey’.” There was only one place close by where someone could see her and they could be heard. Annie turned to her left—

She saw Lisa and Anna standing in the Rotunda, pointing at her and chuckling. Lisa chose the moment to yell out another question while several students stood nearby watching. “Did Kerry even know who you were?” She laughed aloud.

Annie leaned against the railing. “Shut up, Lisa. You don’t know what you’re saying.”

Lisa wasn’t going to let it go, however. “You gonna spend the night again and give him some special care?”

“Kuchka.” Annie threw her broom, helmet, and gloves to the follow and hurried towards the stairs, then bounded down them two at a time before stopping at the bottom. “You wrecked Kerry on purpose.”

“I did?” She laughed again. “If he were a better pilot, he wouldn’t have hit the wall.”

Annie’s mouth locked into a tight crease. “Vie kato pyana bolen kuchka.” She stormed towards the girl, oblivious to Anna standing just behind Lisa and the other students standing nearby. She unclenched her right hand and felt something dark and powerful growing in the palm. “Ti si tvŭrde glupav za da zhivee.”

Annie stumbled as she was jerked backwards. She was about the turn when the Rotunda blinked out of existence—

 

That’s how that scene ended:  blinking right out of the Great Hall.  And where did she go?

 

A second later Annie herself standing in a large field—her initial feeling was she’d been jaunted to Selena’s Meadow. Whomever had brought them here pushed Annie forward, and vanished with the pop of a teleport. Annie spun completely around waiting to see if whomever brought her here would return: ten seconds later Professor Salomon popped back into view carrying the gear that Annie had discarded.

Vicky dropped the equipment and jabbed a finger in Annie’s direction. “You need to collect your shit this instance, Annie; you need to calm down now.”

 

I would have given anything to hear Snape say, “You need to collect your shit this instance, Harry.”  Talk about the money shot.  And sure, you might debate the wisdom of instructors swearing in front of students–I know what Erywin would say about that–but if you were paying attention to the preceding words, you’ll see that Annie was about to do something bad.  Extremely bad.  Like “You’re too stupid to live!” bad.  And that’s when you jaunt a student out of harm’s way and tell her to collect her shit.

 

Though she’d never heard the professor speak this way to any of the students, she wasn’t about to be intimidated. “Did you hear what Lisa said?”

“I heard her taunting you, yeah. And I saw you let it get to you.” Vicky took a step closer to Annie and began jabbing her fingers to make her points. “And saw you go after her, in the Rotunda, with all those witnesses standing around.” She leaned towards Annie, coming almost nose-to-nose. “You were about to nail her with a spell, and I’ll bet it was something black—am I right?” Vicky shook her head as Annie looked at the floor. “Dammit, Annie—are you insane? If it wasn’t for me Lisa would be in the hospital and you’d be on your way to see the headmistress. Is that what you want? Huh?”

There were only a few times in her life where Annie felt bowed by the words of an adult—and this was one of those times. She found it almost impossible to respond to Professor Salomon because she knew she was correct. “I’m sorry, Professor. But—”

“But what? Lisa was being a bitch?”

Annie began fuming. “She deliberately wrecked Kerry.”

“I know she did; everyone on the track knew she did, too.” Vicky pointed off towards the north. “Probably because of what he did to her last October in Sorcery. It was payback for that.”

“And what you doing about it?” Annie finally put her anger behind her and returned to the cold, regarding girl that most people saw.

“She was parked for the day, had three proficiencies dropped for reckless racing, and she’s suspended from next week’s class, which will ding all here proficiencies.”

“That’s it?” Annie laughed. “I leave class and I get detention—”

“You want me to drop one of your proficiencies, too?”

 

Vicky’s always wining the hearts and minds of the kids.  She’s also a former racing, and she not only knows that, she knows her fellow instructors well . . .

 

“No, but . . .” She rolled her eyes and sighed. “It doesn’t seem fair.”

“What’s fair, Annie? You come from a racing family—don’t tell me you’ve never heard of this happening to your father.” Vicky stepped back and slowly crossed her arms. “Or that he hasn’t done it to anyone else.” Vicky wasn’t actually looking for an answer to that question, so she asked one for which she did. “What’s that thing that Helena always says? You know what I’m talking about . . .”

She half-turned away from the professor before answering. “A good sorceress keeps her wits about her while everything is going to hell around her.”

Vicky nodded. “Yeah, that’s it.” She finally softened her tone. “Do you think you were being a good sorceress back in the Rotunda? Or were you acting like a batshit crazy girlfriend?”

Annie chuckled as she considered the choices. “I wasn’t being a good sorceress, I know that.”

 

Vicky knows that Lisa is a button pusher, that she likes to get digs in at other students and push them over the edge.  Annie chooses that point to bring up a point about something that hasn’t been covered that much in the stories, but is sort of hanging around in the background:

 

“I know.” Annie closed her eyes as she considered the possibility of spending another five years at school with Lisa. “She won’t be able to do that next year; I’ll be able to call her out—”

“You could have called her out then.” Vicky sat up and fought to control not waving her hands around as she spoke. “You could have called her out and challenged her to a contact in the Manor, and since I was right there I would have come down and explained that she was being challenged.”

“But . . . we’re not suppose to call out anyone as A Levels.”

“You’re a Legacy; you’re supposed to know how some of the stuff here works. And it’s never been said an A Level can’t call out another A Level: Ramona said you couldn’t be called out by upper level students.”

In that moment Annie remembered the lesson in the Manor where Professor Chai went over the rules of Personal Grievances and how matters were resolved in magical matches in the Manor. The professor’s right: Professor Chai never said we couldn’t call out another A Level, only that we couldn’t be called out by anyone in a higher class level. “Jeez—I should have known better.”

Vicky wasn’t about to disagree. “Chances are good Lisa would have blown you off rather than meet you, and then I would have told her that refusing to meet was the same as a forfeit, and that she’d have to cease and desist or she’d get a whole lot of detention.” She shook her head. “Hate to say it, girl, but you blew it.”

 

Yep, Annie, you blew it.  And hard.  But don’t worry, because you achieved something else–

 

“Don’t worry: like you said, you can get her next year. And it’s just a feeling, but I think she’ll leave you alone now—”

“What do you say that?”

“Because she didn’t see what I did. When you stormed down the stairs, Lisa had this expression like, ‘Yeah, bring it, bitch,’ but the moment you cocked your hand and began to power up that spell—” Vicky laughed. “I don’t know what she saw, but she definitely didn’t want you to bring it after that.”

Focusing on the moment, Annie saw it clearly, saw Lisa’s expression as she began waking towards her. She wanted me to come after her—but she didn’t realize I might use sorcery. In her mind’s eye she the smug look change to one of panic as she saw the dark energy collecting in the palm of here hand. “I didn’t realize that until now.”

“That’s ‘cause you were too busy getting ready to light her up.” Vicky turned where she sat and leaned closer to her student so she could speak confidentially. “Just between you and me, what were you going to use?”

“I was going to try and Electrify her.”

Vicky scoffed. “Just like a sorceress.” She put her hand on Annie’s shoulder and gave it a slight squeeze. “You’re like a little Helena, you know that?”

“I don’t know that she’d like hearing that.”

“Are you kidding?” Vicky stood, not bothering to elaborate. “Look . . . I’m gonna have to add a half-hour to your detention—only ‘cause word of what happened is probably gonna get back the the headmistress, and she’ll want to know if I’m doing anything about it. So two hours this Saturday—okay?”

“Okay.’ Annie stood next to Vicky. “I’ll do better next time.”

 

Yes, you will, Annie.  And at the same time, in front of witnesses, you just established yourself as a bit of a hot head who might really light you up if you get on her bad side–just like a little Helena.  Whom Vicky thinks would be tickled to hear that Annie had been described to be like her.  “I’m so proud of your, Annie.  You were going to kill her, just like I would have.”  Can hear that conversation now.

(In case you were wondering, Helena did kill a student when she was an A Level.  It’s okay, though:  she brought her back to life.  And no one ever screwed with the Young Mistress of All Darkness again.  You’ll eventually hear about how that happened.)

One more scene, in the hospital with Annie and Kerry, and then it’s on to Ostara, and then Chapter Thirty-Two.  I’ve already deleted scene in each of the next two chapters, which I mark with a big “Delete” comment:

I'm keeping Thirty-Two under wraps.

I’m keeping Thirty-Two under wraps.

And then I go back and decide if I’ve going to use that text later in the story for something else, or if I just get rid of it.  I like to do things that way because it’s easier for me to track things–and you never know if I might want to put that scene back into that chapter, or as I mentioned, another.

Really, can’t wait to get to Thirty-Two.  It’s gonna be so much fun.

 

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/12:  1,797

NaNo Total Word Count:  24,385

Crashing Through the Real

Yesterday was strange, and this morning has already started off strange, so I guess having a section of the novel that doesn’t delve into strangeness is a good thing.  I’m hoping today and tonight are a little better, but I’m not all that confident.  We’ll see, I suppose.

The race is on, which is to say the witchy kidlettes are on their brooms zooming around in circles making left turns.  Don’t worry:  Vicky changes the direction every so often, because what sort of person is only comfortable making left turns?  Anyway, as you can imagine, the best fliers, aka, the best racers, started out in the middle of the pack and have worked their way to the front, with Emma pretty much powering her way out of the group and right down the line.  Of course, now she’s turned into all the slower fliers at the back of the pack–and that doesn’t take long to do, trust me–which means the two fliers who are hanging back a little have found the right moment to pounce . . .

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

I see what he did. Vicky checked on Annie, who was now away from the rest of the pack and zooming towards Kerry. He waited until Emma was held up, then made his move. And now that he has the momentum . . .

Kerry took the inside turn and flew around Emma, then went up and over two of the slower students to get into the lead.

Emma saw Annie coming and threw a block at her, killing her momentum. Emma stayed low on the track and moved up quickly, while Kerry continued flying on the high side. They went into Turns One and Two with Emma hugging the bottom and Kerry diamonding the apex between the turns. When they came out of Turn Two Kerry went back up near the outer wall while Emma drifted up to the middle of the course. After being held up by Emma Annie was finally on the straight, catching up to Emma. Vicky was impressed: she’d never seen Annie this interested in racing, but she suspected it might have something to do with who was currently running first and second—more to the point, who was running second.

Kerry sped into Turn Three and stayed high on the curve to get around two slower students on the inside. Emma held up a bit and moved up to Kerry’s line, while Annie entered Turn Three high and started to dropped low into Turn Four so she could carry speed down the straight, but she held up as another student recklessly flew through Turns Three and Four before sliding up the track coming onto the straight—

It was Lisa, who slammed hard into Kerry and jammed him viciously into the wall. She dropped away as Kerry tumbled for almost ten meters before crashing to the surface of the track and sliding down into the infield.

 

Ouch.  That Lisa, she’s such a nasty girl.  Why does Kerry have all these different women in his life . . ?

What Lisa did is known in the racin’ biz as “Stuffing you in a wall”, and it’s bad enough when it’s a couple of cars going about a hundred miles an hour; it hurts even more when you’re on a broom and, even with safety spells in place, you’re getting face planted.  And it’s going to hurt, so much so that you’re gonna get hauled off to the hospital.

And that means if you have a girlfriend, she’s probably going to be checking up on your condition . . .

 

Annie found it difficult to sit still in the hospital waiting room, particularly since she was still wearing her full racing leathers, pads, and boots, while her broom, gloves, and helmet took up space on a couple of chairs. She was worried about Kerry, and also a little worried about Professor Soloman, who was in the bay with Nurse Coraline and Kerry. Annie wasn’t suppose to be here; she’d been told, with all the other students, to stay in class and work with the minions on safe flying, but the moment the professor and Nurse Bianca jaunted away with Kerry on a stretcher, she walked to the nearest exit, headed outside, and flew as quickly as possible to the Great Hall.

She fully expected to get into some kind of trouble over this, but she didn’t care.

Right now, Kerry’s well being was far more important.

 

Annie skips class without permission, and that’s not good.  At least she gets to see Kerry, who also isn’t good.

 

Professor Salomon stood in the space between Beds #1 and #2. Kerry’s right arm and leg were in a cast, and Annie saw a immobilization spell around his hips. She saw the same kind of bandaging around his collarbone and right shoulder as he had when he’d broken both during the Day of the Dead. His left wrist and head were bandaged, but what drew Annie’s the most was the form around his neck—

She wrapped her hand around Kerry’s left hand before turning to Coraline. “Why is he wearing a neck brace?”

“Because he got a nasty whiplash from all the bouncing around.” Coraline began pointing out the various injuries. “Also, both right arm and leg are broken, as well as the right hip. He’s fractured his right shoulder and his collarbone, and broke five ribs, as well as fracturing his left wrist.”

Annie’s gaze turned to Kerry’s left leg. “How’s his knee?”

“That’s the one thing that’s totally okay.” Coraline patted it softly. “I expected it to get torn up, but no: it’s all good.” She looked at the slightly propped-up Kerry, who didn’t seem to be bothered by his predicament at all. “Congratulations, you’re the first person to break all four limbs this year.”

He did his best to snort. “Do I get an award?”

 

Yeah, you get the “Busted Up Flier Award,” Kerry.  Which this school probably has, because when you’re being attacked by monsters and you fly around on high-tech magical brooms to attack them back, you need a little dark humor to lighten the mood.  Expect to see that added to his collection of awards.  He’s also got a nasty concussion which is going to keep him in bed for a while, maybe two days–just like Lisa, hey!–and he might not be allowed to do much for the rest of the week.

This means he needs a little rest, so Annie is chased out, which is good ’cause she’s gotta return some stuff to the Flight School, and she’s hoping to skip out of the hospital before . . .

 

“Yes, Nurse Coraline.” She turned and headed for the waiting room hoping that she wouldn’t hear someone ask her—

“Annie.”

Professor Salomon was standing right behind her. “We need to talk.”

“Yes, Professor.” She had a pretty good idea what the conversation would entail . . .

Vicky, who wasn’t in racing gear but was dressed for flying, crossed her arms. “You were suppose to stay in class. I got a message from Nadine that almost as soon as I left you flew off and came here.” She gave Annie a disapproving stare.

Annie didn’t meet the Vicky’s gaze. “I know, Professor.”

“I can’t have you cutting out of class just so you can check up on your boyfriend.”

“I know, Professor.”

Vicky lowered her arms to her side. “I’m gonna have to give you detention for this. Say . . . ninety minutes this coming Saturday morning. I’ll have you clean up some brooms while Kerry’s off getting tutored.”

Annie wasn’t going to argue: she knew what she’d done was against the instructor’s orders, and even if she was checking up on Kerry, the professor wouldn’t be able to show her any favoritism when it came to disobeying the rules. “I understand, Professor. That’ll be fine.”

“Okay, Annie.” She nodded at her equipment taking up a couple of chairs. “Grab your stuff and we’ll jaunt back.”

“I’d rather fly, if you don’t mind.” Annie stuffed her gloves in her helmet and grabbed her broom before heading for the door.

 

Yeah, it’s not a good time for Annie.  Not only did she get to watch Kerry get splattered on the track, and she sees how bad he is in the hospital, but she got in trouble for leaving class and now she’s gotta pay for that.

Annie's got those "I Blew Off Class to Check on My Boyfriend and Now I Got Detention" Blues.

Annie’s got those “I Blew Off Class to Check on My Boyfriend and Now I Got Detention” Blues.

It’s really the first time they pay for something someone else did, even though if Annie had stayed back in class she wouldn’t have gotten in trouble, she probably wouldn’t have wanted to do anything in class, and . . . yeah.  She probably would have begged to go to the Great Hall, and if said begging was ignored, the Dark Witch would have hauled ass out of there on her broom.

Did I mention Annie’s torment isn’t over . . .

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/11:  2,120

NaNo Total Word Count:  22,588

Consulting to Misery

I wasn’t certain when it was going to happen, but last night was as good a time as any.  What are we talking about?  This:

Out with another old, in with another new.

Out with another old, in with another new.

I’m out of the twenties and into the thirties now–Chapter Thirty, to be precise.  Part Nine, Chapter Twenty-Nine, ended up five thousand words on the nose, which seemed kinda cool because stuff like that doesn’t happen often.  It’s also, honestly, one of the shortest chapters I’ve written–but then it’s the only chapter in the part, and it pretty much kills a month of school and then some.  Even more strangely enough, Part Ten is titled March Madness, but Chapter Thirty takes place in February.  I wonder if I should move that?  Naw.

Now, finishing up the last chapter, we have a pretty good idea of what happened.  Helena is called into the Headmistress’ Office, because the dreaded report request has been submitted.  No one knows what sort of crap Helena was up to, or what deals she was cutting–least of all the headmistress–but she’s playing it cool, not letting on that she’s already had this discussion, and she tells Mathilde pretty much what she’d already worked out with Gabriel–

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“You’ve heard, I take it?”

Helena was in the act of sitting when Mathilde asked her question. “I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t.” Once settled she crossed her legs. “That is why you called me here, isn’t it?”

“Yes.” Mathilde sat back in her high back chair. “Do you believe these reports are going to be used to set up a field operation?”

She did nothing to indicate she already knew the answer to this question. “That’s my guess. But I’ve seen the request, too—remember? There’s no mention of anything like that, and there won’t ever be any mention of a field op up until the moment the Guardians send you a notice that they’re being pulled in for one.” Helena finally buttoned her coat. “That’s the way they operate: they never tell you why they want these reports: they just want them.”

Mathilde nodded slowly, her eyes half closed. “I’m thinking of rejecting the request.”

“You do, and the Guardians will immediately file a request with the Educational Council for arbitration.”

“Which is their right.”

“And they’ll ask for the hearing to be expedited, because I have a feeling they’re on a time table.”

The headmistress sighed. “I expected as much.” She looked across her desk at her head sorceress. “Do you think we have a chance of winning?”

Helena shook her head. “No. Not a chance in hell.”

“Merde.” She slowly drummed the fingers of her left hand upon her desk. “We could always file an appeal.”

“Of which you get one that will be heard within forty-eight hours, and will only look at the information supplied to the original adjudicator.” Helena covered her nostrils with her finder and sniffed hard to clear her nose. “You’ll lose that one, too, and that’s it for you. You’ll have no choice to produce the reports.”

 

It’s really a no-brainer:  Helena knows the truth, and Mathilde does, too–she just doesn’t want to admit it.  But being a member of the Guardian Gang for a while, Helena’s also figured out something else . . .

 

Helena had found time to reflect on her conversation with Gabriel, and had given considerable thought to a possible field operation for the two students. “I don’t think they’ll do that. As much crap as the Guardians deal with, they also handle a lot of little sneak and peek missions, and I’d think there’s a better chance Annie and Kerry would do something like that instead of going out and battling the big bads.”

“But you don’t know for certain.”

“I don’t, but . . .” She got up from the chair and began to do the same thing Gabriel did the other night: pace slowly about the Headmistress’ office. Not only did it help Helena think, but it forced Mathilde to watch and listen. “While we might see the Guardians as the bad guys here, the last thing they want is to have the rest of The Foundation discovered they took a couple of A Levels with six months of schooling, dropped them in a dragon’s den, and told them to fly or die.” She chuckled. “They hate negative publicity as much as any other division, and a stunt like that would permanently end the careers of dozens of people in San Francisco, Amsterdam, and Paris. No, whatever SOP has planed, I’m pretty damn sure it’s going to be something that is . . .” Helena waved her right hand about, looking for the correct words. “Age appropriate.”

Then again, what’s age appropriate in a world of behind-the-scenes magic?  They go after a little dragon?  Not that there are any dragons–none that aren’t pets of Isis, that is.  Which makes me realize:  I should work up a bestiary for her.  I’m sure she’s got some interesting creatures waiting at her disposal.  I mean, we already know the octocreature from The Mist is hanging out in her wall . . .

After Helena and Mathilde work though some of the options they have–most of which include Helena trying to work her way into the possible operation and seeing to it that the kids are all right, the Mistress of All Darkness lays the final card they have on the table.

 

“And there’s something else to consider here—the Right of Refusal. Since they’re both under sixteen The Foundation can’t legally force an emergency emancipation upon them, so they have full Right of Refusal for any field op SOP puts together.” Helena nonchalantly flipped her right hand out, as if she was tossing something away. “By law I have to tell them about the RoR, and if I think the operation is a loser, I’ll find a way to let them know.”

While she didn’t know everything about how the Guardians operated, she did know how the Right of Refusal worked. “You’re not allow to influence them with that decision, are you?”

“Legally, no, but I’ve learned over the years how to get those points across without actually coming out and saying them.” Helena sat forward once again. “Kerry won’t get it; this is all gonna be new to him. But Annie’s sharp enough to pick up on the innuendo, and he’ll be looking to her for guidance, so if she says no, he’ll say no.” She swiped her hands together quickly. “End of story.”

 

Now you know who follows whom.  And it is true:  Kerry always has followed Annie’s lead, being that he sees her as an experienced witch, and he’s not.  So there’s the truth:  if Annie says no, Kerry says the same.  Which means if Annie wants to slay dragons, Kerry’s gonna strap on some armor.

Now we put that behind us and jump ahead a week and a half, and let’s go racing!  I’m finally in the Diamond–hence the name of the chapter–and the kids are finally gonna do some oval flying.

 

“All right, everyone.” Vicky’s voice boomed out as flew over the heads of her students as they slowly made their way around the oval track fifteen meters below. “Today the track is configured for five hundred meter sprinting. There aren’t any elevations changes today, other than the course having a twelve meter ceiling to keep you from avoiding all the . . .” She was the only one who knew she was grinning. “Fun.”

For the last two classes Vicky had started instructing the students on the finer points of oval course racing at the Diamond. She wasn’t teaching them just how to fly around in circles: she taught them about watching the people around them; about how better using the views that showed them who was behind, above, and below them; how to fly while wearing their normal racing equipment consisting of gloves, gauntlets, pads, and helmet; and most importantly, how to make it around the track without spearing someone and sending them to the hospital—or worse, the morgue.

 

Five hundred meters is just a little over a quarter of a mile, and if that doesn’t sound like much, may I introduce you to Bristol Motor Speedway?

Sure, it's a shot from a game, but you get the idea.

Sure, it’s a shot from a game, but you get the idea.

Track is a quarter mile long and is known as the Fastest Quarter Mile in the world because it’s easy to get up to speeds of 135 mph (220 kph) going into the turns, an being able to carry that through to the other straight.  Lap times of fifteen to seventeen seconds are not out of the question, and after five hundred laps of that you feel like spent a few hours in a dryer.  The track is known to be “self cleaning” because the straights are banked at ten degrees and the corners have progressive banking between twenty-six and thirty degrees, so if anything is dumped onto the track–say, like a fender or a bumper or most of a busted car–it slides down to the infield.

This is my model for The Diamond, and while my students and racers will fly above it, if they crash and burn, we know they’ll slide to the infield.  Because self cleaning.

(And as a bit of trivia, I have really driven on this track.  Just on the straights, mind you, but I have had my car on the actual surface.  I think I managed a blistering thirty mph, too.  I’ve done it much faster on my computer, though–trust me.)

This is where we pick up with Vicky watching over her students and getting ready to drop the green on them . . .

 

“All right, everyone.” Vicky’s voice boomed out as flew over the heads of her students as they slowly made their way around the oval track fifteen meters below. “Today the track is configured for five hundred meter sprinting. There aren’t any elevations changes today, other than the course having a twelve meter ceiling to keep you from avoiding all the . . .” She was the only one who knew she was grinning. “Fun.”

For the last two classes Vicky had started instructing the students on the finer points of oval course racing at the Diamond. She wasn’t teaching them just how to fly around in circles: she taught them about watching the people around them; about how better using the views that showed them who was behind, above, and below them; how to fly while wearing their normal racing equipment consisting of gloves, gauntlets, pads, and helmet; and most importantly, how to make it around the track without spearing someone and sending them to the hospital—or worse, the morgue.

 

Yeah, kids:  always nice to know you’re doing stuff that could get you killed.  Ask Emma and Kerry how that feels–they have some experience there.  But really–it can happen.  At least they’re dressed for mayhem.

This is where we pick up on Vicky’s thoughts about her best fliers and possible racers . . .

 

It didn’t surprise Vicky in the least that Emma and Kerry were her two best fliers in this group, and among her top five fliers. In the two weeks when the class was finally allowed to perform time trials on the Green Line, Emma and Kerry possessed the consistently best and fastest times. Vicky already had their styles pegged: Emma was aggressive and took chances, flying with wild abandon, while Kerry knew a course so well he could run it in his sleep, and could read the conditions at any point on the course and plot his line in a microsecond.

Both styles had their pros and cons, though Vicky already had Kerry pegged as the more unpredictable of the two. With Emma you knew what you were going to get: flat-out, to the wall racing. With Kerry you’d expect him to be a technical expert, but he’d always keep something in reserve and, when it was least expected, he’d pull that out and surprise everyone.

There were three others who surprised Vicky with their expertise. Annie was a great flier, but she showed little interest in racing. That didn’t mean she couldn’t go fast: after one weekend when she’d gone out for a few hours with Kerry, Vicky later checked her flight recorder and found they’d both taken West End at around three hundred and eighty kilometers an hour before zipping through Sunset Boulevard at just over two hundred fifty. And they did that not once, but three times.

Annie could race if she wanted, but she had little interest. Vicky could guess why . . .

The others students who surprised her were Lisa and Anna. Lisa was a lot like Emma in her recklessness, but she was far more willing to take chances that didn’t always pay off. She’d already broken both legs in three crashes along the Green Line, and suffered a concussion two weeks before Yule that kept her in the hospital for two nights. Though it hadn’t happened yet, Vicky knew it was only a matter of times before her recklessness collected more than just herself—

Anna was a skilled technical racer, and possessed a lot of Kerry’s racing qualities—save for the fact that she was in no way surprising. Anna was fast and skilled, but one could read her moves seconds before they happened, and as with most technical racers she’d likely rely on the other pilots to make mistakes while she flew constant, perfect lines.

 

Now we know that besides Emma and Kerry, Annie is a great flier but has no interest in racing, Anna is a great technical racer–has nothing to do with the fact she’s German–and Lisa’s just a crazy bitch on a broom who will probably Pull a Gordon one day and collect half the field–or be like Jimmy Horton and go flying right over the wall and into the parking lot . . .

What’s going to happen next?  You can read my scene laying–you tell me?

I’m so mean . . .

 

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/10:  2,181

NaNo Total Word Count:  20,468

On Both Sides Now

Sunday saw me doing a lot around the house, including writing out a letter by hand?  What is this wizardry, you ask?  Don’t ask.  Just know that I did.

At least there wasn’t any depressed.  I seem to have worked my way out of that–for now.  It may come back soon, it may not.  For now things are good, so I’m not going to dwell on that:  I got a novel to write.  And probably some hate to generate.

Hate, you say?  Yeah.  Because the scene I completed last night sees a little dealing going on behind the curtain–or in the tunnels, if you’d like.  See, after Mister Gabriel got is ass handed to him and was shown the door, he’s taking his time leaving, strolling along inside the Pentagram Walls.  He’s not a happy man, but he knows this was just his opening salvo.  And then this happens . . .

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

He made his way around Ceridwen Tower and headed straight for the door leading out to Founder’s Gate. He picked up the pace, seeing as how he’d be out of the wall and out under the arch, and from there it was a fast jaunt to the Main Gate before heading back to headquarters—

“Gabriel.”

He turned around and faced the stairway that led to the lower lever below the wall. Helena was standing a few step below the level of the floor. She walked up three steps and regarded him silently.

“I see . . .” He held his hands to his said, anticipating trouble. “Mathilde send you to waylay me?”

A soft chuckle emerged from the stairwell. “If I was going to waylay you, your ass would have been waylaid.” She cocked a finger at the Guardian representative. “We need to talk. Come.”

He followed her down into the passage that made up the lower level of the Pentagram Wall. “Aren’t you worried we’ll be interrupted?”

“By students? No. They normally don’t come this way, so we’re good for a while.” Helena sighed. “Let us talk about what’s coming . . . you’re going to have the request sent in tomorrow, yeah?”

“Either tomorrow or the day after.” Gabriel shrugged. “We’ll likely do a postmortem tomorrow morning—”

“But the request is going out.”

“Yes.”

“And we know where this is going.” Helena looked around the tunnel. “Mathilde will ask for my advice, and it’s likely she’ll reject the request.”

“We’ve already anticipated that.” Gabriel didn’t take his eyes off Helena; he didn’t like being alone with here, and certainly didn’t trust her. “We’ll then go to the Educational Council and request arbitration on the request.”

“You’ll ask for it to be expedited?”

“Of course.”

“And I’m going to make a prediction—” She focused on Gabriel. “The adjudicator will find in the Guardians’ favor. Why not? You’re only asking for reports.”

“That’s how we see this playing out.” Gabriel relaxed slightly; though he still watched the sorceress closely. “I don’t see how the adjudicator would find it any other way.”

 

If there’s one thing Helena loves to do, it’s find someone and pull them off to a dark, secluded area to have a chat.  I know you’re asking yourself “why?”–well, some are, I know that, the others are waiting for Thanksgiving–and that will be answered below.

Helena does know things the headmistress doesn’t; after all, she still is a Guardian even if she is an instructor.  She knows how they think and work and approach a problem.  She also knows that she’s much better at pressuring people than this loser–

 

“Which means you have something in mind.” She moved a little closer to Gabriel. “Which means you’re on a time table. Which means someone’s gotta analyze the data to determine if Annie and Kerry will fit the mission profile. Which means it’s a field op.” She was within half a meter of Gabriel. “I’ve done this a lot longer than you; I know how this game is played.” She slowly tapped her index finger against her pursed lips. “Since you’re not pointing out the flaws in my logic, I’d suggest you drop the theatrics and we discuss this matter honestly.”

He looked away for a few seconds, gathering his thought. “It’s a field operation; I haven’t seen the data yet, but I’m told that if the rumors about these two are correct, they fit the personal profile. There is a time table, which is why the reports are needed within the next month.”

“Hence the need to try and intimidate Mathilde tonight—which was, by the way, stupid.”

“I’ve figure that out.”

Helena nodded slowly. “There is one thing that San Francisco is forgetting here . . .”

Gabriel was about to say “no”, but thought better. “And that is?”

She moved to within centimeters of Gabriel. “Me.” She backed away, her hands in the pockets of her leather coat. “Besides having my field operator’s rating, I still know a lot of people in a lot of different locations: San Francisco, London, Amsterdam, and Paris.” She smirked. “Most of them still like me, too.

“I have three demands I want concerning your upcoming op, and if they aren’t met—” She removed her mobile from the coat. “I will begin calling these people I know. I will call them when they are eating, when they are trying to meet with people, and at inopportune moments when they’re suppose to be sleeping.” She twisted the phone back and forth. “I will call and keep calling, and I will do everything I can to turn your time table into a parade of shit.” She slipped the mobile back into her coat.

So we more straight from the intimidation to the blackmail.  She does know this game and how it’s played, and now she lays out her demands.

 

Having found himself out-dueled once tonight, he wasn’t about to let it happen again. “What do you want?”

Helena began speaking without hesitation. “First, I want in. I want to see the data, the planing, the whole thing. I want to see what the planning committee is seeing.”

“That’s impossible.”

Helena ignored the statement. “Two: these two are gonna need a handler in the field, and that handler will have a second. I’ll going to be their handler, and I’ll choose my own second. And I’ll run this op wherever you put it down.”

Gabriel chuckled. “You may still have your field operative rating, but you’ve never worked with children in—”

Helena cut him off with a swipe of her arm. “Who the fuck do you think has spent the last five months with those two?” She lowered her voice, hoping no one had heard them. “I know them, know how they act, know how they’ll react. You don’t: no one in San Francisco does.”

He said nothing, because her last statement made far too much sense. “And your last demand?”

“I have full veto power all the way down the line. If I don’t like the operation as laid out, I kill it. If I don’t like the updates, I kill it. If I don’t like your training plan, I don’t like the equipment, I don’t like the support you’re sending us, I kill it.” She removed her other hand from her coat pocket and once again crossed her arms. “And just like any other handler, I have final veto power in the field. The first moment I feel things going sideways, I kill everything and bring them home.”

 

Her point about working with the children is valid:  she’s instructed them, particularly Annie.  We know she’s shown Annie things in the time leading up to Yule, and in the month since everyone’s come back to school she’s probably shown Annie a few more things.  Maybe she’s shown Kerry a few things, too.  No matter what, she does know how they’ll act–something a babysitter from San Fran wouldn’t know.

The question still remains, “Why?”  And that’s what Gabriel asks:

 

“I have one question, however—” Gabriel scanned the tunnel for visitors before asking. “Why are you going out of your way to help us with something you obviously don’t like.”

Helena pulled up next to Gabriel until they were only centimeters apart. Her tone was that of a low, harsh whisper. “Annie and Kerry may be extraordinary kids, but they are kids. Annie’s twelve and Kerry eleven, and no matter how bad ass their Crafting may be, no matter how mature some people may think they act, they are still immature tween kids—

“I know SOP and how they operate, and them being minors doesn’t matter: you will find a way to get them out in the field, you will find a way to see how they operate.” She jabbed a finger into Gabriel’s chest. “When that happens, I want to make certain they don’t come back to the school in fucking body bags.”

 

A desire not to see your students come home dead is a powerful one, and one can imaging that Helena has seen her share of people die on field operations.  Like she said, she’s played this game for a while, and she’s probably had to bring back of few of her own people tagged and bagged.

Helena’s a realist:  she knows the people involved, she’s worked with them, and she knows if the Guardians are coming for a couple of A Levels who’ve been at the school for six months, they’ll come and come and keep coming until they get their way.  She knows she can fight it, but probably the best she’ll do is a delaying action–

Which means the next best thing is to try and minimize damage.  And like it or not she’s aware that the Guardians probably won’t give as much of a shit about the kid’s well being as she would, so . . . time to join the party.

What happens next?  You’ll see in the next scene.  After that, I look ahead to the next part and three chapters, and I can tell you the first two are back on the kids, with the first one a mix of Annie and Kerry, the second is mostly him, and the last . . . In Dreams is gonna be a big chapter–

I'm not showing you anything, but you can probably figure it out.

I’m not showing you anything, but you can probably figure it out.

And only four more parts after that.

The end really is near.

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/9:  1,809

NaNo Total Word Count:  18,287