The Short Suppositions

So here we are, the final post of 2014, but the penultimate writing for The Novel That Wouldn’t End.  But that’s not true anymore, either.  Sitting here on the cusp of a new year, there are seventeen remaining scenes, split among five chapters and two parts.  And once those are finished, then it’s The End time and I can take a bit of a rest and figure out what comes next.  There’s also the possibility that I’m going to add one last scene, because the final scene in the novel is really two-in-one, and I do love splitting that stuff up.

The funny thing is I don’t remember writing a lot last night.  Getting into Google Docs and having a friend help with editing another project I’m working on, yeah, that took a while, but when I comes to the novel it didn’t seem like I wrote a great deal–and yet, there’s two thousand and sixty-six words in the scene, and that’s not something to brush aside.

But what were those words?  Questions asked by Erywin, questions answered by Helena, and, it would seem, and understanding between them of what may lay ahead for my kids.

None of this are happy thoughts, but then what are at this point?

 

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

Erywin took a long, deep breath before asking her next question. “Any news on Ruth?”

“According to the people who were doing clean-up, the woman you fought was her doppelgänger. They’ve checked up on her family and they’d fine—mother, father, younger brother, all still alive. She probably left in a hurry from home just like fake Kaden did.” Helena shook her head. “As far as the real Ruth is concerned, we’ll never see her again. The Deconstructors are good at disposing bodies: they either dissolved her after leaching as many memories as they could from her, or dumped her in the middle of nowhere.” She slipped her hand from Erywin’s and folded both in her lap. “I figured a team’s looking into the matter now, and by this time tomorrow Ruth McRoberts will have never existed.”

Erywin hated hearing such news. “Such a waste. The girl has one year of school with Tanith, and for that she dies. Not to mention I hate it when women join up with the Deconstructors—”

“Our struggle stopped being the matriarchy verses the patriarchy a long time ago, my dear. May as get used to the fact there are as many pissed off female witches these days as there are male who aren’t buying into what The Foundation is offering.”

 

Just as they would have done had Kerry and Emma died, it looks like the Guardians are going in and “harmonize”, as they would say, the McRoberts Family with the new reality.  You don’t have a daughter; you never did.  And everyone who ever knew her will forget she existed.  Maybe Tanith will remember her, but she’ll never know that the girl she was talking to the day before she met Annie and Kerry was an impostor.

Also, in that last statement from Helena, you get a tiny glimmer of The Foundation/Deconstructor brouha.  Is it really as simply as a battle between the genders?  Hum . . . you’ll probably find out if I ever get around to writing the third novel.

Something else is on Erywin’s mind . . .

 

“True.” Erywin had been carrying a question since they arrived at the CDC, and she needed it answered. “Why didn’t they attack the children right away? Why did they wait?”

“Could be any number of reasons.” Helena had wondered about this as well. “Best answer I can come up with is miscommunication on the Deconstructor’s part. When Tanith left early fake Kaden probably didn’t check with fake Ruth to see when they were suppose to get together. He probably then told the third member of the party to get over to the mall and get some eyes on Tanith, and by the time he got there Annie and Kerry had already hooked up with Tanith and were on their way to the park.” Helena crossed her legs. “That would explain fake Kaden leaving in a hurry: once they realized there were Foundation witches with Tanith, there was a need to get everyone on site in a hurry. And then the kids went invisible and silent, you were laying low, so . . .” She shrugged. “They threw up blocking spells and waited for everyone to show themselves.”

 

Deconstructors:  Bad Guys You Don’t Want Planning Anything.  And there is some truth here, because they don’t have a huge network, they don’t have centralized headquarters, they seem like a bunch of mopes involved in a rear guard action.  Which, we all know now, can screw up a modern army pretty well if you plan your hit and runs effectively.

Something pushes Erywin’s buttons, however, and it would appear that the Deconstructors moved into KC about a month before Team Salem showed.  As Erywin points out in a passive-aggressive way, that was about the time they were called into action.  So one might assume . . .

 

Erywin sighed before standing up. “Walk with me, please.” As soon as Helena was along side, Erywin began speaking in a low, confidential voice. “Tell me you had no idea we were going to run into Deconstructors.”

“No mentions what so ever, and I didn’t have anyone coming to me with secret information.” Helena stared straight ahead. “You saw the same reports I saw.”

“I believe you. I know you’d never lie to me, and if there had been evidence of Deconstructors, we wouldn’t have gone.” Erywin stopped near a small line of trees and stared out over the lake. “But I think someone in San Francisco knew. I think they were aware of what the kids could do. And . . .” She exhaled a long, low sigh. “I think they wanted to throw those kids into a situation where they’d have to do everything they could to stay alive, and they’d use everything magical they had to make sure that happened.” She frowned. “It seems they got their wish.”

 

If the Guardians are good at watching and manipulating, then one might stand to reasons that they knew there was a good chances that a throw-down was inevitable.  I mean, if you suspect you’ve got a couple of wonder witches working for you, it’d be a shame to let their powers and skills go to waste, right?

And what does Helena think?

 

Helena slowly reached out and took Erywin’s hand. She held it in silence for about fifteen seconds, just staring out over the lake with her partner and companion. “I believe that, too. I know the Guardians too well, and even though everything seemed on the up-and-up . . . it appears that everything was leading to the three of you confronting the Deconstructors.”

Yep–she’s got the same sinking feeling.  Probably even more so for her, because she not only knows the sort of buttholery the Guardians can employee, she helped put the kids on the firing line.

Which leaves my two witches having these last thoughts:

 

Erywin said nothing, allowing the quiet of the CDC campus gather around them. “What happens now?”

“Now?”

“Are the Guardians going to keep after them until they bring them into the fold?”

Helena shrugged. “Why wouldn’t they? They kept after me, didn’t they?”

Erywin snorted. “Yours was a different situation; they knew what you were from day one.”

Helena’s dark eyes shifted just enough that she could take in Erywin’s profile. “Yeah? What the hell makes you think they haven’t known the same about those two?”

 

That’s right, Helena:  plant that kernel of doubt that maybe the Guardians have known something for a while, and this was their way of proving it.  The situation was different with Helena–her grandmother did work for the Guardians, and though it’s never said, her mother works for them as well–and Helena was pretty much learning to kill at an early age.  It could be said that the Guardians have had their eye on Annie for a while, but Kerry?  Well, he did have the fortune of living right in the Guardian’s back yard in San Francisco for a few years, and they picked up on him pretty easily, so . . .

I’m not saying.  At least not right away.

Act Three is currently just over seventy-six thousand words–

That'll do quite nicely, now, won't it?

That’ll do quite nicely, now, won’t it?

–And by the time I’m finished with tonight’s scene with Annie and Kerry, it’ll be closer to seventy-eight thousand.

We’ll see, won’t we?

The Quiet on the Campus

The fight in Kansas City is over, and it’s time for some rest and reflection.  This scene–the first of only two in Chapter Thirty-Eight–is a big change of pace from what’s happened before.  One, no one is watching someone else, running all over town, and trying to puzzle out mysteries.  And two–they’re not in Kansas City any more, Dorothy.

Time to see what happened, right?  After all, it’s time to wind down a bit and reflect . . .

 

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

Erywin sat back and looked up and enjoyed the feel of the sun on her face. Compared to Kansas City, it was much nicer here—brighter and warmer. And from her position on the bench she could turn to her right and look out over the small lake just below this quite viewing area.

She spotted Helena, wearing her ever-present leather jacket, heading her way. She glanced towards the lake every so often, but for the most part kept her eyes locked on Erywin. She didn’t acknowledge Erywin’s presence until she was four meters away. “We’re all packed and checked out.”

“That was quick.” Erywin crossed her left leg over her right as Helena sat to her left.

“When you have four other people having you pack it’s easy to clean up and clear out in fifteen minutes.” She slid her arm over the back of the bench and behind Erywin. “I checked us out while our luggage was sent back to Salem.”

“So no need to return to Kansas City?”

“No.” Helena snorted. “There’s nothing there for us to do anyway. The Link walkway has been cleaned up, and the Guardians are all over Kaden’s house looking for additional clues. We were the opening act—” She turned to Erywin and grinned. “The headliners are on-stage now.”

 

Yeah, those lucky headliners:  they let you set up the audience and talk all the abuse from the fans who didn’t come to see you.  Helena has the right attitude:  you do your job and get out.  There’s usually no glory in what they did–even though they did save someone’s life.  Or is that lives?

It’s pretty obvious that they aren’t in Kansas City any longer, either, since Erywin’s asking if they have a need to return.  So where are they?

 

“The headliners never had to worry about getting killed.” Erywin looked at the long building within her line of sight. “They told me they should be able to release Annie and Kerry about sixteen.” She glanced over to her partner. “Did you see them?”

“I did. They’re getting the finest Foundation care a fake biosafety level 4 unit at the CDC can offer.” Helena looked around, taking in the campus. “You know, this is the first time I’ve been here.”

This was the first Erywin learned that Helena had never visited The Foundation facilities at the Center for Disease Control. “They never brought you here when you were hurt?”

“I was never injured while operating in North America.” Helena chuckled. “You three got lucky. I figured with you hurt they’d take you off to San Francisco or Minneapolis or Tucson—here you get pulled to the best lab facilities The Foundation has to off on this side of the world.”

 

Yep.  When I mentioned that The Foundation has places where they “hide in plain sight,” many of those places are pretty well known facilities.  We know Helena had access to underground bunkers used for continuation of government purposes, and that they held meetings at the World Trade Center, but now we find out The Foundation has facilities at the CDC?  Sure, why not?  After all, wouldn’t getting diseases under control be something they’d want to get their hands around?

You can see Erywin and Helena if you look just above that lake.  And Annie and Kerry if you look to the long building to the right of the lake.  You won't see the bad guys:  they're in the morge.

You can see Erywin and Helena if you look at the dark circle just above that lake. And Annie and Kerry if you look to the long building to the right of the lake. You won’t see the bad guys: they’re in the morgue.

Did The Foundation help build this place?  Maybe.  Do they help run it?  Perhaps.  Do they have a hospital here?  Damn right.  They do a great job keeping the image of the place up, too–

Although the Deconstructors have somehow gotten out word that they are working on the virus that will bring about the zombie apocylopes.

Although the Deconstructors have gotten out word that they are working on the virus that will bring about the zombie apocalypse . . .

Which is probably one of the reasons the CDC put out their information on getting ready for the Zombie Apocalypse.  Don’t forget to check out the comic, too, if you go to the website.

And now that they’re here, Erywin has a question about someone that came in with them . . .

 

“Probably because of Kaden.” Erywin looked around to make certain no one else was within range of their voices. “I saw that rig they pulled off him. Is that what you found him in?”

“Yeah.” Helena sighed and stretched. “Hanging in the goddamn closet. The Deconstructor doppelgänger was using the enchantment in the crown unit to leach off the real Kaden’s memories so Tanith didn’t know she wasn’t living with her father. The rig was keeping him alive, too.”

“So I heard. One of the doctors told me he was dehydrated and malnourished, though.”

“Happens. Those rigs are only good for keeping someone alive for a couple of months.” Helena shrugged. “That’s about all they’d need if Tanith was their real target.” She faced Erywin. “Did you see Tanith?”

 

So now you know why Helena called an abort:  ’cause when you see the guy who just left the house trussed up like a turkey in the closet, you know the Deconstructors got there first.

And what about Tanith?  Glad you asked:

 

Erywin nodded. “For a little bit. She thanked me for saving her father and her, and she wanted to know if she could see Annie and Kerry.” She gazed out over the small lake. “I told her ‘our people’ might let her in to see them, but it really wasn’t up to me.”

Helena nodded. “Good answer.” She’d not told the children that once the operation was over their access to Tanith would be cut, and the likelihood that if Tanith did meet Annie and Kerry again in the foreseeable future, it was unlikely she’d know who they were. Standard procedure on a field operation like this— She tapped her fingers against her thighs. The people who come to bring you in are erased from your mind so you can’t ever go after them should Deconstructors get you again—or you decide to turn. “I’ll have to talk to them tomorrow about the operation followup—just in case she were to show up at school next year.”

“They need that.” Erywin placed her hand on top of Helena’s. “Did you see them before coming down?”

 

The good news is Annie and Kerry saved the girl.  The bad new:  she’ll never remember them bringing her in.  Just as Isis talked about sending in “memory speicalist” to take care of Kerry’s and Emma’s parents and family if it turned out they’d died during the Day of the Dead attacks, those same people will go to work on Tanith to make certain she can’t even blow Annie’s and Kerry’s cover in this field operation.  It’s sort of a crappy thing when you think about it, because they were probably starting to bond and stuff, and now . . . nope, she won’t remember them.

Oh, and Helena has other news . . .

 

There was a lingering pause as Helena debated telling Erywin this next, and figured she needed to know. “I met with Gabriel up in the ward.”

This surprised Erywin greatly. “What was he doing here?”

“Wanted to see how the kids were doing, and pulled me aside to get a quick update. He told me we don’t have to debrief until Tuesday morning.”

“Why wait so long?”

“For one, Kerry’s a bit out of it and anything he says is going to be crap, and two . . .” Helena chuckled again. “I think he’s giving us a chance to get our stories straight. He told me he was at the walkway scene for a few minutes—said he was a bit surprised by what he saw.”

 

“Getting your stories straight” is usually a euphemism for, “You guys left shit really messed up and I don’t wanna have to ding someone.”  Which is what comes up next–

 

Erywin snorted. “I’m sure he was.” She turned to Helena. “Are they going to red flag Annie’s file?”

“I don’t think so. I made a point of telling him that she’d been under orders not to kill anyone if she could help it—” Helena shrugged. “Spells must have gotten away from her.”

Erywin nodded slowly, a slight smile on her face. “Must have. What about Kerry?”

“They’ll yellow flag his file for sure.” Helena slowly ran her finger over the bridge of here nose. “Did you hear about what he did to that last Deconstructor?”

“I just heard something quick after they brought in the bodies, but nothing specific.”

“He had four broken ribs, a ruptured spleen, perforations to his small intestine, and damage to his liver.” Helena gave Erywin a slight nod. “You told me he used an Air Hammer—he used dark energy on it, didn’t he?”

“Yes. No way I didn’t feel that.” Erywin cleared his throat. “Definitely trying to kill him, wasn’t he?”

“Probably why the guy was so pissed off. If Kerry hadn’t been trying to juggle two spells at the same time, he might have pulled it off.”

Erywin took a long, deep breath before asking her next question. “Any news on Ruth?”

 

We now learn, for real, that Kerry was going for the kill shot.  Unfortunately, he was also trying to charge up shields, and as good as the kids are right now, that’s a little too much on their plate to put up incredible shields and bounce off killer spells.  At least there was enough energy in the shields that no one was killed, just a little messed up.  Kerry:  once again saving lives and getting messed up in the process.  And, yet again, the girl came in and saved him . . .

“Any news on Ruth?”  Well, you’ll get that when I finish this scene, and a whole lot more.  That’s coming tonight, and then, for New Years Eve, I finish out the chapter and part while finishing the year 2014.  So when Beltane starts up in the novel, it’s a new year, and I have the impetus to finish the novel by the end of January.

Almost there, people.  Almost.

Oh, and Helena does not approve of fake CDC buildings.  Not at all.

Oh, and Helena does not approve of fake CDC buildings. Not at all.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 42,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

In the Link

I have written a lot these last couple of days, completing just a minute or two ago the longest scene I’ve done in some time.  How much?  This much.

 

1107 12/27 night

842 12/28 morning

1501 12/28 evening

555 12/29 morning

 

That’s a lot of words to get out, but then there were a lot of things going–namely, trying to stay alive as Erywin and the kids make their way to safety.

All they gotta do is enter the stairway on the left and walk.

All they gotta do is enter the stairway on the left and walk.

But is it going to be that simple?  Nope.  Never is.

 

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

Erywin did her best not to look nervous or tight. She only glanced at Kerry a couple of times during the forty meter stroll to the entrance to The Link. There were actually two, and the second one was about ten meters closer, but that way up consisted of a lift, and Erywin wasn’t about to put herself and three children in a small, confined space, not while there were a few magical maniacs running about. While the stairs weren’t exactly the safest way up, either, there was room to move, making their odds of survival far greater.

As if he were reading her mind Kerry pulled out his mobile and slowed to check the display, allowing Erywin to get to the entrance first. She opened the door and held it as Kerry toddled towards her. “Come along, young man.” It was a simply move, but it was enough to allow the girls to hurry by and get inside the stairwell. A movement later Kerry, still looking at his mobile, walked inside. Erywin was close behind.

Erywin took the lead as they headed up the stairs, with Kerry right behind her. The girls slowly faded into sight about half way up, so by the time they were ready to step into The Link proper. Erywin checked the walkway while Annie returned Kerry’s backpack. It was quiet: there were a few people to her right heading in the direction of the train station, and from what she could make out, it looked as if there were a few people already on the other side of Pershing Road. No one seemed headed in their way, and Erywin didn’t know if she should count that as a blessing or curse. It would make it easier for them to cross the road among a group of Normals, but the longer they waited for some to come along, the greater the odds they could be attacked where they stood.

 

They made it that far, and so far so good.  Of course it’s only been about a minute of walking, but hey, no one’s set them on fire–yet.  Time for the Professor’s Pep Talk before going.

 

There wasn’t time to drag this out. Erywin sent a message to Helena, then turned to the children. “I’ve passed along a message; they know we’re crossing over to the Center and I’ll send another message once we’ve jaunted to the safe location.” She turned to her two students. “You know it’s likely to get tricky, yeah?”

Annie nodded; Kerry looked at Annie for about two seconds, then turned back to Erywin. “Yeah.”

“Good.” She gave them both a big smile. “I know I can count on you.”

Kerry nodded. “A good sorceress keeps their wits about them—”

Annie finished the statement. “—When everything is going to hell around them.”

Erywin shook her head. “I should have known you’d pull that one out.”

Annie smiled. “Of course we would.”

“Then let’s get ready to move. Tanith—” She pointed at the girl. “You stay close behind me, but if you feel anyone push you to the ground, you go down and stay there.” She nodded, but said nothing. “Annie, Kerry: you know what to do. You know the code word?” They both nodded. “All right . . .”

Looking into the walkway corridor Erywin opened her Hammerspace and felt the tingle that came when she had access. It felt like they were alone, but Erywin’s senses were on heightened alert: the last time she’d felt like this had been during the Scouring. She offered up a quick prayer: Mórrígan, watch over and protect us from our enemies, and grant us the strength to vanquish our foes should they face us in battle.

“Let’s go.” She waved the children forward as they stepped into The Link.

 

At this point they’re committed.  The kids know what may come, and they’ve got the words of Erywin’s significant other to bolster their courage.

 

They rounded the curved section heading towards the bridge over Pershing Road. Erywin wasn’t moving too quickly: she didn’t want to seem as if they were running for safety. But she was wary, and grew even more so as they stepped out over the highway. The people below on the sidewalk weren’t paying attention to them, and drivers certainly weren’t. Her eyes glanced to the left and right, watching for action below. There was no one there. It didn’t cause Erywin to ease up; in only caused her to be more on guard—

A man appeared about eight meters ahead, almost immediately followed by the pop of a jaunt. She though there’d been a pop behind here, but it wasn’t her job to check. She reach into Hammerspace and pulled her pistol. She flicked off the safety, stepped into a sideways shooter’s stance, and braced her right arm against her body while aiming with her left before yelling the code word that they were under attack: “ON.” She fired six rapid shots—

Annie and Kerry heard the pop behind them and spun around to find a woman about six meters behind throwing a spell at them. Both kids had put up shields before entering The Link, and with the word given, they knew their roles: Annie was offense, Kerry was defense. He pushed more energy into the the screens they’d set up—one for physical attacks, another, less powerful one, for magical attacks—while Annie crafted the most powerful spell she knew—

Erywin’s six shots were nearly invisible to the naked eye, crafted of pure mystical energy. The first two shots hit the Deconstructor’s shield and neutralized the spell; the third shot hit his chest and torched a hole in his shirt; the fourth, fifth, and sixth shots burned through his skin, burned into his body, and blew out the back of his chest. She waited until all six shot did their jobs before preparing for a new threat from the front—

The female Deconstructor casted an Air Hammer that struck the children’s shields less than a second later. Both were barely moved by the attack, though the walkway glass around shuddered and rippled. Kerry kept his eyes open for another threat but didn’t craft an attack spell because he knew what was coming—

 

Right here, right now:  it's on.

Right there, right then: it’s on.

It is on, and in a big way.  But a month of training has paid off, and the division of labor is known and being followed.  And why wasn’t Kerry getting an attack spell ready?  What did he know was coming?  Something a certain girl has been ready to use for a while . . .

 

Annie’s crafting was nearly complete, and as the Deconstructor’s Air Hammer hit their shields the spell became ready. She was fully aware of what she was about to do, but since she’d discovered sorcery she’d wanted to be a sorceress—and she knew what was expected of her, and what she may have to do.

She pushed her hand outward towards the female Deconstructor as if she were pushing her away and cast Exsanguation as another pop sounded in The Link pedestrian bridge.

The spell made it through the woman’s minimal shielding and went to work. She began coughing as blood flowed out of her nose and down her throat. She quickly crafted another spell as blood spurted from her tear ducts and dribbled out her ears. She got off the spell just as the crotch and thighs of her jeans turned a dark color from the blood streaming from her vagina and anus. A second later her eyes filled with blood and ruptured, causing dark rivers of blood to cascade down her face. She doubled over into convulsions as torrents of blood were pumped into her lungs, and a few seconds after that she collapsed to the floor.

 

And that, boys and girls, is what Exsanguation does.  Not a pleasant way to go, but then Deconstuctors aren’t very nice people.  As you can see with this new player in town . . .

 

The drain spell hit the shields and took effect; both Annie and Kerry felt their skin pucker as their shields lost effectiveness. Annie prepared another spell and Kerry began pushing more energy into the shield, for even with the female Deconstructor down, a third one had appeared and, just like his female partner, he had a spell crafted and ready to fly.

The Air Hammer that hit the group was tremendously powerful. Every walkway window flexed and vibrated: three cracked from the extreme pressures placed upon them, though the safety glass didn’t completely shatter and fall out of their frames. Kerry fell back into Tanith, who he pushed into Erywin. All three went down as the the spell hit them, but they were spared serious injury due to the spell shield effect, limited as they were.

Annie was thrown backwards into a floor-to-ceiling support, smacking the side her head hard against the beam. Her right forearm was pushed back into the angle between the support and window, and the crack was loud in the silence of the magical battle happening inside the walkway. She moaned once and collapsed on the floor.

 

Annie’s down, Erywin is probably down, and that means there’s only one person who might be able to do something . . .

 

Kerry heard Annie’s arm break, heard her moan, and even slightly dazed he knew there wasn’t anyone else to protect everyone else. He concentrated hard and threw energy into a light shield while he made it to his feet. He knew he could craft Electrify, but he wasn’t certain he could hit the target. He crafted something he knew would work—Air Hammer—but this time he fueled it with dark energy, intending to make it as deadly as he could muster.

It was crafted in seconds and pushed away. He cast it in the direction of his enemy, but his aim was off. Still, the Deconstructor caught most of the spell, which tossed backwards hard enough that he went down on one knee, moaning in obvious pain. He wasn’t down completely, however: he pointed his right arm towards Kerry—

The Electrify spell hit Kerry hard—as hard, or harder, than the time he was shocked by Helena that first day in Beginning Sorcery. Probably harder, because this time he had up a shield against magical attacks, and he still saw a bright flash in his eyes as the spell hit. He collapsed to the floor hard, feeling something twist in his left knee as he went down. He lay dazed, unable to do anything but look up—

Until the Deconstructor was standing near his feet, then his eyes were focused on his. The man—maybe no older than thirty, but as Kerry had learned, age was impossible to tell with witches—chuckled as he watched Kerry partially raise his right arm as he tried to craft a spell. “Not today—” A small sphere of blue Cold Fire appeared in his upturned right hand. “End for you, you little shit.”

 

Poor Kerry:  about to meet his end getting burnt up with Cold Fire.  Now I can end this novel with Annie weeping tears over his grave–

What’s that you say, Annie?  I’m sorry:  I don’t understand Bulgarian.  But it doesn’t sound nice . . .

 

As the Deconstructor raised his arm two ribbons of shadow snaked down from near a ceiling beam. One wrapped around his wrist, the other his bicep—and both pulled up hard. The upper ribbon cut deep into the man’s arm; the other severed his hand at his wrist, causing the Cold Fire spell to die without access to mystical energy.

Out of the corner of his eye Kerry was aware of Annie up on one knee, her right arm useless, her left arm extended to craft her ribbons, and a murderous look spread across her face bloodied and bruised on the left side. She hissed out a warning as she wrapped the ribbon that had amputated his hand around his neck. “You do not get to hurt him.” She stood and lifted the Deconstuctor off the floor. As she stumbled towards Kerry—who’d managed, somehow, to craft a small ball lighting effect—she swiped her left arm as if she were pushing something away: the Air Hammer stuck him and snapped his body backwards. Kerry managed to throw his Electrify spell at the same time, making the body twitch in shock as the sound of the Deconstuctor’s neck breaking was heard by all.

 

Moral of the story:  do not screw with the boyfriends of pissed-off twelve year old sorceresses.  Oh, sure, Kerry did hit him with a pretty deadly Air Hammer–too bad the Deconstructor had a shield up as well–and managed to shock him a little–and given Kerry’s state it’s a wonder he could actually get that spell working–so he might get credit for a partial kill, but this is pretty much the girls taking out the bad guys.

Leading to one finally moment in The Link . . .

 

He lay there on the floor vaguely aware of Erywin asking if everyone was all right before going silent. He was aware of of Tanith moaning. He was aware of the Deconstructor’s body crashing to the ground as Annie did away with her Shadow Ribbons. Mostly, however, he was aware of Annie kneeling by his head and stroking his frizzed-out hair. She bent over him and smiled. “I said I would protect you.”

He smiled back as best he could. “I said I would protect you.”

Annie leaned closer to his face. “We kept our words to each other.” She kissed him as she gently lowered herself on her left side, resting her head against his chest.

Kerry wanted to say they had to get up, they had to go, they needed to jaunt out, but he couldn’t. The words simply wouldn’t come to him. He reached over and stoked Annie’s hair as the sound of popping air was followed by excited and troubled voices. He thought he saw someone levitate Annie on a stretcher, and felt as if the same thing were happening to him.

Then it felt as if he were jaunting—

 

I wonder where they’re jaunting out to?

And just in case you were wondering how all this went down, on Christmas Day I time lined out this whole scene.  Magical combat goes quickly in this world, and as you see having your shielding in place is important, because if you’re hit, you’re usually hurt in a big way.  And what does this battle look like on a time line?

Something like this.

Something like this.

On the bottom grid, if there’s a solid dot it means they were actually an active participant in the event; an empty dot means they were just there and may have seen something happen.  No dot before the first event means they weren’t there; no dot after a certain event means that person is dead.  And as you can see, if you don’t keep your wits about you in something like this, you end up with no dots in no time.

And now that that’s over, it’s time to move onto the next chapter.

Kansas City is just about over.

Disquietude Park

As I was told this morning, I seemed to have left everything on a cliffhanger–and I’ve been trying to get off that cliff ever since.  By that I mean I’ve written almost two thousand words since last night and early this morning, and I’ve still got a ways to go.  But I’m getting there.

As you know everyone’s in the park across the street from the Crown Center–which, I found out this morning, is also the location of the world-wide headquarters for Hallmark Cards, so watch out, people, otherwise Annie and Kerry might just go and try to alter the history of greeting cards.  Or maybe that’s run by The Foundation, too.  One can never tell.

I should point out that the events in the park are happening at the same time Helena’s tossing Kaden’s house, so while Annie and Kerry are doing a magic show for Tanith, Helena’s figuring out how to time jaunt around so she can entered the house, look around–and find something in the closet that makes her call an end to the operation.

With that in mind . . .

 

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

“Home.” Tanith stared at the ground as her voice took on a dreamy quality. “I like the sound of that. But talking to my dad . . .” She shook her head. “Oh, man, he’s gonna flip on this.”

Annie had figured that Tanith’s father would be the most difficult part of this trip, but he wasn’t her concern. “That’s where the adults come in. They’ll work with him as we worked with you.”

She looked up and frowned. “He’s never talked about any of this, so I don’t know how he’d want to talk about it with anyone now.”

Kerry shrugged. “We won’t have anything to do with that. They’ll probably send us off elsewhere while the adults talk.”

That interested the girl. “Where would we go?”

“It’s hard to say.” There had been discussion about this, but Annie didn’t want to discuss the locations mention. Depending on the time of day, it was thought they might go to Paris or London, maybe to New York or Chicago . . . Annie believed the most likely destination would be San Francisco, where the Guardians could keep an eye on them while they are out and about the city. “I’m certain it wouldn’t be Kansas—”

Erywin’s voice rang clear through the buds Annie and Kerry wore and straight into their minds. Children, supper’s ready.

Annie glanced and Kerry, who was glancing back. Tanith noticed this and didn’t like what she saw. “What’s wrong?”

“Something—” Annie watched Kerry out of the corner of her eyes. You call Erywin?

He nodded. Doing it now. Kerry looked around—the same as Annie—watching to see if anyone was looking in their direction. Mom, you there?

 

“Hey, Mom:  what’s up?”  If you haven’t figured it out, “Supper’s ready” isn’t just the title of a twenty-two minute song, it’s also the code phrase to indicate things have gone sideways and it’s time to shut this party down.  So Kerry gives her directions to where they are located in the park, and Erywin comes to visit . . .

 

She did as she was told and found the children fading into view. “Hello, there.”

“Hi.” Kerry gave Erywin a hug, followed by Annie doing the same. “Glad to see you, Mom.”

Annie had already given her greeting; she wanted to know things. “Why did you give the abort code?”

“Because the plug’s been pulled; we’ve moving out.” She finally acknowledged Tanith. “Hello there, young lady. Hope these days have been taking good care of you.”

“They have.” Tanith smiled at Erywin. “Are you a witch, too?”

“I’m the witchiest witch, my dear.” She lifted her teleport device from one of her jacket pockets. “Are we ready?”

Are you making a call?” Tanith pointed at the device in Erywin’s hand.

“No, Tanith. This is going to teleport us all out of here; we have another location where we’re supposed to go in the instance we need to abort this operation.”

Annie took Tanith’s hand. “We’ve done this plenty of times; it won’t bother you.”

“No, not at all.” Erywin finished punching in the coordinates of their arrive point. “Let’s link hands.” She held out her left hand, which Kerry took. He held out his left for Annie, who slid in her right while holding onto the Tanith’s with her left. “Ready?” All three children nodded. “Good then . . .” She tapped the activation icon on the display.

Nothing happened.

“What the hell?” Erywin rechecked the coordinates and confirmed they were right.

Kerry was trying to see what was on the teleport display. “What is it?”

“Enchantment didn’t engage.” She did a quick aural check. “It isn’t drained . . .” She crafted a quick spell and watched the results pop up on the display. “The hell is this now?”

None of the kids were comfortable with Erywin’s exclamations, but Tanith was the only one who wasn’t aware of the severity behind them. Annie kept her voice low, even though there wasn’t any need. “What’s wrong?”

“We can’t jaunt: there are blocking spells all over the place.” Her eyes slowly scanned the park as she slipped the teleport device back into her jacket. “Son of a bitch: they’re here.”

Annie turned so she was facing away from Erywin. “And they know we’re here, too.”

Tanith was completely confused by now. “They?”

“Deconstructors.” Kerry picked up on the clues being offered and looked off in a direction not being covered by Annie or Erywin. “The bad guys.”

 

Gotta give my kids credit:  the moment things go dark they get ready.  Of course, if they’re invisible, the bad guys are likely invisible, too, but they’re facing out and ready.  In all fairness, though, they did the same thing during the Day of the Dead, with both in separate areas of the school keeping their wits about them.  Okay, so Kerry did get a little panicky after being chased by a monster for ten minutes, but so would you.

Given the situation, they’re pretty quick at coming up with options:  this is what happens when you get trained by The Dark Mistress of All:

 

Annie looked over her shoulder at Kerry. “We should move.”

“I agree.” He tapped Erywin on the arm. “Can we walk out of the park.”

She carefully examined here surroundings. “We can, but I’m worried that once we’re out in the open the people here looking for us will likely sweep in on us and that’s it.”

Tanith didn’t understand the sudden concern. “I don’t get it: why are these people after you?”

“They’re not after us—” Erywin tapped Tanith on the cheek. “They want you. At least we believe you’re why they’re here.” She rubbed her lower left side. “They’d probably stun us all and make off with you.”

“What about you? What will they—?”

Annie didn’t bother with niceties as she cut off Tanith’s question. “They’ll kill us.” She ignored the girl’s gasp as she pointed in the direction of their hotel. “If we get across the street, can we jaunt then?”

“Should be able; it’s getting across the streets here that’s going to be a pain in the arse.” She pointed to the north. “We can’t climb over and drop down to the street below there, so that leaves crossing at Pershing and Grand, or . . .” She nodded towards the southwest corner. “Taking the overhead walkway to the train station, or back to the Crown Center.”

Annie had come to the park using the overhead walkway known as The Link. “Couldn’t the Deconstructors come after us there, too?”

“They could, but if we head for the Crown Center there aren’t any places for them to hide. That’s what I worry about being out on the sidewalk: they could hide and take shots at use from behind trees—”

“Could be the same if we head for the Amtrak station.” He pointed at the section of The Link running parallel to the park.

“Yes. Best bet is to get across to the Center, find a quite spot, and jaunt out. If they want to get us before we get there, they’ll have to come in there and get us” She surveyed the children. “Now that we have plan, we have to get out of here.” She tapped Annie and Kerry on the shoulders; they both half turned towards her. “We’re dropping code names right now; we don’t need anymore confusion that we might already have.”

They both nodded, with Kerry speaking in agreement. “Sounds good to me.”

Annie turned to Tanith. “I’m Annie; he’s Kerry; she’s Erywin. That’s so you’ll know.”

The girl nodded, not sure if she was catching the full gist of what was happening. “I don’t suppose I’ll get a chance to use them, but thanks anyhow.”

 

Leave it to Annie to put the cherry on this crappy sundae:  if The Deconstructors get to us, they’ll kill us.  Of course, what no one is saying is by dropping code names at this point, they’re taking a hell of a risk that Tanith isn’t going to rat them out.  But if Annie was ready to bleed out a girl just because she almost got her boyfriend killed, so I don’t think she’d have much of a problem protecting her cover . . .

There’s a bit of a kink in this plan–but wait!  There’s also a big surprise!

 

Erywin stared off in the direction of The Link entrances on the other side of the park. “We’re gonna have to make our way there with this invisibility up; we have to assume they know you both came in with Tanith, and if they see you three leaving, they’ll likely attack.”

“Can we teleport inside the park?” Annie pointed at a sculpture close to The Link entrances. “It won’t be as far as a wall.”

“Only one thing—” Kerry switched his gaze from person to person. “If we try and enter that invisible, it’s gonna be pretty obvious. And we can’t just drop right in front of the entrance.” He shook his head. “That’s a dead giveaway.”

Erywin was already thinking that they couldn’t make it into The Link without becoming visible for a few seconds. And there aren’t many places where we can do that without being noticed. “Dammit, I didn’t think about that.”

Annie had already made up her mind about what was needed. “Erywin, do you trust us?”

“Of course I trust you.” She eyed Annie closely. “What do you have in mind?”

Annie touched Kerry’s hand. “Give it a try; we have nothing to lose.”

“Yeah.” He stepped in front of Erywin. “Can you bend down here a little, Mom?” He smiled as he used her cover name again.

Erywin was now more curious than worried, and she did as was asked. “What are you trying?”

He changed his hair back to its natural color and placed his hands on either side of Erywin’s head. “Something I’ve been working on . . .” He closed his eyes and concentrated as Annie and Tanith looked on. Nothing happened for almost five seconds, then Erywin’s hair changed to lustrous auburn as it lengthened and curled. After another five seconds her transformation was complete. Kerry dropped his hands and stepped back next to Annie.

Erywin ran her hands through her newly changed locks. “How the—?” She shook her head. “Kerry, you shouldn’t be able to do that.”

“I’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks.” He nodded towards Annie. “It was her idea I give it a try, since I could do simple transformations on myself.”

“He practiced it last night on me.” Annie giggled. “You should see me as a ginger: I can imagine what our kids would look like.”

Erywin also chuckled as Tanith rolled her eyes. “We can talk about that later—”

Kerry got back on message. “Now that we really look like we’re related, you and I can walk to The Link, and Tanith and Annie can follow invisible. Once they’re inside they can turn visible again.”

Erywin nodded slowly. “That might just work.” She pointed at her head. “What about this?”

“It’s good for about twenty, thirty minutes. After that it reverts.”

“Sounds good.” She pulled out her teleport device. “Let’s not waste time—” She punched in the park location they’d decided upon, linked hands when they were ready, and performed the short hop across Washington Square Park.

 

Even in the face of danger, Annie’s talking about kids with Kerry.  Can you imagine that conversation from the night before?  “I’ve never been a ginger before.”  “It looks good on you.”  “It’ll look better on our kids . . .”  Oi.  Notice, though, that he isn’t rolling his eyes.  These kids need to get a room.  Oh, wait . . .

So right now they’re here in the park–

Dialoge

Sculpture to the right, walkway bridge to the left, entrance somewhere straight ahead.  Go for it, Team Salem.

Everyone’s in place and about as ready as they’ll get.  Only a few orders left to give:

 

The moment they were in place everyone looked about to see if they were being observed. When they didn’t noticed anything Erywin prepared them for the minute or so they’d need to walk to their destination. “Kerry, I want you to stay to my right: I’m left handed, and if I have to shoot, I don’t want to risk having you on that side.”

He nodded. “Got it.”

She turned to Annie. “We’ll keep the door open long enough for you both to scurry inside; you can fade back into view as we’re going up the stairs.”

“Okay.”

Kerry slipped off his backpack and handed it to Annie. “If they saw us coming in, they probably noticed this.”

“I’ll give it back when we’re in The Link.” After Annie she noticed the now nervous Tanith. Annie reached down and took her hand. “Don’t worry; this is going to work.”

“You’re damn right it will.” Erywin tapped Kerry. “We need to pull back and fade in—”

“Right.” He blew Annie a kiss. “See you in a bit.”

She blew him a kiss right back. “I’ll be right behind you.”

Erywin and Kerry stepped back until his light bending fiend broke from Annie’s. They both turned around and faded into view as they emerged from around the sculpture and walked at a normal pace towards The Link entrance.

 

The kids got two options:  get so uptight they look like they’re about to lose it, or keep it loose and cover up their nervousness with moments of affection.  They chose the later, though you have to wonder if they had a conversation the night before–when Annie wasn’t going on about how their kids might look–about what could happen to them today.

But they’re almost sorta home–

All I gotta do is get them to safety.

Undisclosed Revelations

Just like I promised the scene with Helena is completed, though it took a lot longer than expected, and took more words than I’d thought necessary.  But when one starts getting into a couple of lengthy descriptions of things happening–you know, stuff?–it ends up taking time and words.  And the first description also involved looking up a couple of things simply because that’s the way I am.

So we learned that Helena can Jump.  What is that?  It’s a Gift–think “mutant power”, but the reality is it’s something magical that always on, that’s inherent to the witch in question.  Isis has Flight, which is like levitation only she doesn’t need to expend magical energy to make it happen:  she just thinks about flying and off she goes.  With Helena she can jaunt up and down the time line–that’s how she met with Gabriel:  she waited an hour after he left, found out which route he took when he left the school, and went off to grab and gab.

She has to be careful doing this, however, and one of the things she’s never, never, never supposed to do is go up or down the line and meet with herself, because trying to change her personal timeline almost always creates a bit of paradox, and that’s never a good thing.

Which leads us to the next part.

There have been questions about how Helena was maimed.  Sean Bean notwithstanding, one does not simply lose both their legs, and a hell of an accident has to go down for such a thing to happen.  One of the things I wrote into this scene–something that took me a while to get right last night–was the exact cause of her accident.  Hang on tight, ’cause here is Helena reminiscing about the one really bad day in her life . . .

 

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

Ti

A year and a half after the event at Salem known as The Scouring occurred, the upper echelon leaders of The Foundation agreed to meet to plan their final moves against the Deconstructors. The Guardians’ Special Operations and Programming division brought in Helena to coordinate security for the meeting: she’d completed field operations for them over the last five years, and they felt she was the right person to watch over the seventy managers who’d show up for the discussion.

There were aspects of the meeting she didn’t like. For one, she hated the site: she felt it was too public, too open. She requested that the meeting be moved to either Mount Weather or Burlington at Corsham, but after five attempts to change the location were vetoed she gave up and did her best to make the security at the primary location the best possible.

People began gathering at seven-thirty. Helena made certain there were multiple exclusion fields surrounding the meeting area, and that access to the floor required a personal okay from her at each of the multiple checkpoints along the way. The meeting began at eight-thirty sharp, as demanded by the schedule Helena had put together, with the intention of breaking for fifteen minutes at nine forty-five, and finishing with the first draft of a plan drafted by eleven. She wanted this done and over with in under three hours, because she felt the longer they were at this site, the more vulnerable.

She was walking the floor, examining the enchantment around the checkpoint, when she felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. Helena spun around and saw herself laying on the floor, her clothing torn, her body covered in white dust and red blood, with one leg was missing and the other barely attached to the thigh. The injured her reached towards the uninjured her and spoke three words: “Get them out.” Then the her on the floor vanished, leaving the shocked uninjured her behind.

Helena hesitated for far more seconds than normal: her mind was locked up, unable to function. When she finally came to ran towards the meeting area. She shouted to drop the exclusion fields immediately, then burst into the board room and ordered everyone to jaunt immediately—

It was eight forty-six on the morning of 11 September, 2001, and a few floors above The Foundation meeting area on the 92nd Floor a 767 slammed into North Tower of the World Trade Center. As the ceiling exploded in debris and fire Helena grabbed the two closest people and jaunted out. The woman in her right arm was killed by the same piece of metal that severed both of Helena’s legs: the women in her left survived and managed to get Helena to a medical facility, when, while delirious, Helena Jump jaunted back to warn her that they were under attack, and in doing so create a paradox that ensured that she would hesitate long enough to allow the approaching disaster to occur. . . .

 

This was the “job” that Helena did for the Guardian’s SOP division that Gabriel referred to way back at the start of Act Three, the one that ended up costing almost three thousand people their lives.  That was a dig that wasn’t deserved, for in time the whole history of that job and what part Helena played in it will be revealed, but for now that’s the story of what happened to Helena, and why at the end of Act One Erywin mentioned to her pretty girl that everyone was concerned that she was going to maybe some kind of PTSD flashback that day–which just happened to be a few minutes after midnight on the morning of 11 September, 2011.

A couple of things that I wanted to share to show where Helena’s mind was during that time in 2001.  She mentions that she wanted to hold the meeting at either Mount Weather or Burlington at Corsham.  And what are those places?  They’re huge underground bunkers built in the 1950’s to ensure continuation of government in the instance of a nuclear war.  Mount Weather is in the Blue Ridge Mountains about an hour west of Washington DC, and is suppose to be like a little city inside the mountain:  rumor has it one gets around on electric trams, and there’s supposed to be a small lake inside that acts as both fresh water storage and place where one can sit and think about the world going to hell on the outside of the mountain.  The site first came to light in the 1970’s when a plane crashed into the mountain about a mile from the entrance to the facility, and since then the above ground facilities have become the home of FEMA.  In one of the real ironies that makes life a lot stranger than fiction, Mount Weather is where nearly all of Congress was sent to ride out the 11 September attacks, so it was probably a good thing Helena wasn’t there with The Foundation.

I'm certain Helena would have had a real party here--

I’m certain Helena would have had a real party here with the Congress Critters–

Burlington is Burlington Bunker, located near Corsham, England.  It’s also about an hour west of London, and not only is the bunker still there, but there’s a train line that runs right through the middle of it.  The idea was that in the instance things were about to go to hell, The Royal Family, the PM, Parliament, and anyone else deemed necessary to keep things running would board a train and hightail it out of town for the bunker.  The train would enter the tunnel that runs through the complex and stop, letting everyone off to go inside and ride out the storm.  These days the bunker is decommissioned, but there is a brand new Ministry of Defense complex sitting right on top of the bunker, so don’t expect all that underground goodness to go to waste anytime soon.

You enter the tunnel from the right riding the Last Train From London.

You enter the tunnel from the right riding the Last Train From London.

There is one place Helena didn’t mention, and that’s Raven Rock, which is about an hour due south of where I’m writing this post.  It’s another Command and Control bunker, and it’s become more famous over the last few years as the place Dick Cheney always visited when he needed to get out of town and chill for a bit.  Does this mean Helena was afraid of upsetting Dick by taking over his digs?  Surely you jest; she probably didn’t want to be responsible for cleaning up the place after she went all Dark Sorceress on his ass.

The original Undisclosed Location.

Welcome to the original Undisclosed Location.

I mentioned to someone yesterday that The Foundation has places where they “hide in plain sight”, and these are a few of them.  You’ll get to see another of them two more scenes from now, and once you see it you’ll go, “Oh, yeah, that makes sense.”  Because it does.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

Helena wants to get into Kaden’s house.  There is a way to do this thing, but she has to be careful least she set up another paradox that messes up Kansas City–and while she might not give zero shits about the city, she doesn’t want to get in trouble with people on her side of the magical line.  How does she do this thing?  Watch and learn:

 

Helena knew her paradox Jump a little over ten years ago led to the deaths of almost everyone at that Foundation meeting, and since then, whenever she found it necessary to Jump, she made certain she wasn’t anywhere in the area of her destination. This time was different, however: she needed to be close to the house so she could seek Kaden come out so she could Far Sight beyond the open door.

Fortunately Helena knew just want to do.

She checked the time on her mobile: twelve-oh-three. Kaden had left the house maybe three minutes ago, which meant that if she wanted to craft a Far Sight spell, she’d need to be ready about two minutes before he left. And she knew exactly where to set up—

She Jump jaunted and positioned herself about fifteen meters behind where her invisible self stood. Helena checked her mobile once more: eleven fifty-eight. She scanned the area between her new position and the house: she knew she was there, watching the house, and that she hadn’t turned around once, so she was safe where she was. All she needed was for Kaden to leave.

Right on scheduled the front door opened and Kaden walked out. Helena didn’t have a great deal of time, but she’s already crafted her Far Sight spell, and as the door began opening, she cast—

It felt as if she were moving at high speed towards Kaden, then she was past him and through the door, into the darkened living on the other side. She cast her senses around, sensed the dining room just beyond the living room, moved her Sight there, looked about and found a niche where she could hide.

Helena jaunted.

The moment she was in the house she threw herself against the wall and listened. She was still invisible, but that didn’t mean Kaden might not have heard the pop of her arrival. There wasn’t any worry, however: she heard the lock bolt home followed by Kaden stepping off the porch. She dropped her invisibility and stepped through the archway into the living room.

Another quick check of the mobile: a minute after noon. Helena smiling when she thought about her still being out there deciding upon the best way to get into the house, and now that she had solved that problem there was only one thing left to set right: the time frames for herself. Right now she was in two places at the same time, and in a moment she was going to jaunt away from her position in the park and set herself up five minutes earlier so she couple pop in here and think about how she was outside getting ready to jaunt five minutes back in time—

What’s that shit Deanna says all the time about divination? Helena unlocked the door. It’s wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff? She should try a practical application of this shit sometime . . . Helena needed to break the shielding around the house so she could get back to where she should be, and pulling the door off the latch should do the trick. And if doesn’t, I’ll just bounce off the walls and end up in a heap on the floor

She Jump jaunted again, this time moving back up the time line to where she was in time before jumping about in time and space. She ended up on the other side of the playground set, and the moment she was settled she checked her mobile: the clock rolled over from twelve-oh-three to twelve-oh-four. That was what she needed. She dropped her invisibility and walked across the park and street to Kaden’s house. Up the porch, to the door—push it in. The door opened.

Helena entered.

 

And that’s how you do it, kids.  As the Mythbusters say, don’t try this at home:  leave time traveling to the experts.

She’s looking around for things, magical things, stuff that would make her understand why Kaden’s got such heavy-duty shielding around the house.  She finds no evidence that magic is being used full-time around the house–one of the things she notices is that, unlike witches who like to keep their things nice and shinny, Kaden’s letting his furniture age naturally, just like if he were a Normal–and Helena heads upstairs to scope out the bedrooms.  Tanith’s bedroom is neat and orderly, something she probably picked up from her dad.  And speaking of dad–

 

From there Helena headed into Kaden’s bedroom, and found much the same, though with fewer posters and plushes, and far more muted colors. The bed was made, the items on top of the chest of drawers all in their right place, the curtains drawn, a couple of items of clothing folded and placed upon a chair in the corner. She looked around and found his shoes next to the bed, ordered much the same way Tanith’s shoes had been ordered. She threw open the closet doors, expecting to find more of the same order she’d found in Tanith closet—

What she found caused her to take a step back, eye wide in horrid realization of what was likely happening this very moment.

“Oh, shit.” She double-tapped the bud in her right ear. “Parkland, this is Homestead. Abort, Abort, ABORT.”

 

A surprised Helena is not a good Helena, and she’s ordered the plug pulled based upon what she found in Kaden’s closet.  One can assume she didn’t stumble across a Rainbow Dash onesie, that’s for sure.

And one can deduce from this that things are about to get interesting for my kids . . .

Upon a Stakeout Dreary

You know, I’d like to say I have another scene finished, and I could show you everything that happen after the kids did their little magic act for Tanith–and quite well, I might add, they’re doing a great job as fledgling Guardian operatives–but I can’t, because I simply couldn’t get into the mood to write, and by “into the mood” I mean I was pretty much suffering most of the day yesterday.  I did managed to do something important regarding the scene that follows this one below, but I couldn’t get much beyond that.  Needless to say, I wanted to write, but I couldn’t.  I probably should have, it likely would have helped, but in the end I couldn’t roust myself to get in front of the computer and get it out.

Save for the little bit, about seven hundred words, that appear below.

I do feel that I’ll be able to finish this scene tonight, and start on the next one today–maybe even get enough of it in place to blog it out–because I’m eager to finish up this chapter before the weekend is over, and move onto the next part before end of the year.  There really isn’t that much left, and I’m starting to get that feeling that comes when you near the finish line and the excitement builds that your endeavor is nearly over.

Really, six more chapters are all that remains.  This current scene will push the story over sixty-nine thousand words, and the next will get it over seventy. and by the time I finish the next chapter, I’ll be over seventy-five thousand.

But first, I gotta finish the one below.  And it’s all Helena’s show now.

 

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

After several hours of standing across the street from the Granstrom’s house, Helena was about to take the unusual and direct method of walking up to the front door, knocking, and waiting for Kaden to opened it up.

More than ever, she wanted to see what was inside their house.

She’d arrived in Montgall Park a little after nine and began her invisible observations. She contacted Erywin the moment Tanith left the house and head for the bus, but since that moment about twenty minutes after her arrival, nothing had occurred at the Granstrom’s house save for the large living curtains moving aside just a little twice in the last hour. Helena figured Kaden was peaking outside, maybe to check on the weather, maybe to see if someone were hiding invisibly across the street in the park watching his house.

Helena wondered if Kaden was this paranoid on a daily basis, or if she suspected something was up and he couldn’t relax. There was never anything in the Guardian reports about this sort of constant observing, just as there wasn’t anything in the reports about the level of shielding he had surrounding their house.

There was a flicker of curtains once more, and Helena wondered if she could shoot a bolt of lightning through the window and knock Kaden out so she could just brute-force her way in and toss the place. She stopped wondering after a few seconds, because if she couldn’t use Far Sight to look around inside, then all the offense spells in her arsenal below a certain dark energy application would bounce off and alert Kaden that she was trying to take him out. And above the energy application, she’d probably blow holes wide enough in the walls to alert everyone in the neighborhood, and would likely see The Foundation offering her a short stay in Cloudland.

 

Wait a minute–what is Cloudland?  This has come up before in the story, and always as an aside.  It’s a maximum security prison The Foundation runs, but it’s nothing like the supermaxes you’ll see on the news.  Taking another page from the novel The Stars My Destination (or is it the other way around?), Cloudland is an underground prison located in the Bighorn Mountain Range in Wyoming.  It’s nicknamed Cloudland because it’s located almost directly under Cloud Peak, which is the highest summit in the Bighorn Mountains.  You can see the location below, with Cloud Peak on the far left and almost even with the town on the right:

Just turn left at Buffalo and start hiking when you run out of road.

Just turn left at Buffalo and start hiking when you run out of road.

When you have people who can teleport themselves with magic, you need a location that fairly impossible to get out of, and Cloudland is it.  Sure, it’s only been there since the 1940s, but it has a notorious reputation, and no one wants to end up there for any period of time.  Lets just say . . . it’s not a nice place.

But that little snippet does tell you one thing:  Helena’s powerful enough to blow holes through the walls of Normal homes, and one could conclude that all the construction at Salem is probably reinforced with lots of magic and super science.  And you surly don’t want to neighbors to know you’re standing outside a house blowing down the door with the magical equivalent of C-4.

Fortunately something happens . . .

 

A minute later the door slowly opened and Kaden stepped out on the porch. He looked to the left and right, then pulled the door closed before turning and hurrying off the porch. He turned left and headed towards the intersection before turning left at the corner. Helena watched him until he stopped before a car, entered, and drove away about twenty seconds later.

Helena was left with an empty house. Her options for getting inside were just as limited as they were before Kaden departed. She could hammer at the shielding until it came down—along with a door or part of a wall. Then she’d be back in trouble with people living on this block thinking there was some kind of terrorist attack going on, and she’d end up in front of the Guardians explaining how she found it necessary to take down a single family residence in order to get inside and investigate the ruins.

What she needed was subtlety. She though of possible solutions that didn’t involve magical mayhem. And she kept coming back to one possibility: for the few seconds Kaden had the door open, not only would it have been possible to use Far Sight to look inside the house, but the shielding in that area would be minimal enough to allow jaunting.

The only problem was Helena had not only not taken advantage of the weakness in Kaden’s shielding when she could have—

If she was going to get into the house, she was going to need to Jump.

 

And what’s a Jump?  You’ve already seen it:

 

She stepped back and waved him away. “With that said, you need to get the hell off the grounds. In about five minutes Mathilde is gonna contact Isis and find out if you’re still here—and if so, she’s gonna have Isis turn one of her pets loose on your ass.”

He shook his head as he chuckled. “Is that what you’re advising?”

“No, you dumb son of a bitch . . .” Helena grabbed the lapels of her coat. “She made that call an hour ago. How do you think I’m here without them knowing?” She jaunted out of the tunnel.

Gabriel turned and slowly made his way towards the stairs, realizing what he’d just seen. “I keep forgetting she has that Gift . . .”

 

You’ll find out more tomorrow, and you’ll see how a Jump may or may not have almost gotten her killed.

But that’s tomorrow.  Today is today.

Let’s see how I get through this one.

A Walk in the Park: The Magic Show

Happy whatever you are or aren’t celebrating today, for there are so many things that are and aren’t happening that it’s impossible to cover them all.  As I pointed out yesterday, Christmas Eve was once celebrated as Mōdraniht, which was a night when all the women got together and had a nice little fertility celebration for the coming year.  And today was considered part of the Wild Hunt, when Odin and the boys would go out and kill all the draugr that had collected during the year.  Draugr were undead, so yeah, it was a Walking Dead Holiday, and you needed to stay inside least you got mistaken for a Walker–which means Carl would totally have gotten smoked since Lori couldn’t keep him in the house . . .

But it’s April in my story, and in the last two days I’ve written just over two thousand words to finish up this current scene.  Thing didn’t progress as I’d planed, but I expect the next scene to start and finish today, and then . . . well, we’ll see what comes next, right?

As it is my kids are getting things set up for Tanith, and they’re not beating around the bush–but as I was informed yesterday, too, that’s sort of how kids are.  Why beat around the bush when you’re twelve and a witch?  Hop on the broom and zoom . . .

 

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

“Your father went to the same school we attend.” Annie moved a step closer to the girl. “He graduated a while ago and got a job with the people who run our school.” She looked down for a moment. “That’s where he met your mother—where they worked.”

Tanith closed her eyes. “You know about my mother?”

“We know where they met, what your father did, what your mother did—”

“What has he never told me any of this?” She stared at a point between Annie and Kerry near the base of the tree they stood alongside. “Why didn’t he tell me about magic?”

“Probably because of what happened to your mom.” Kerry tilted his head to one said and spoke in a low voice. “After your mom died your dad freaked a little and thought the people who run our school were getting into his life a little too much, so he left Albuquerque and came here.” He sighed. “He probably thought they were gonna start getting into your life, too, which was another reason why he left.”

“Why would he want to get out of Albuquerque, though?” Tanith shook her head. “I loved it there. This place—” She shook her head. “It sucks: I hate it.”

 

Hey, magical girls hate moving, too!  She liked it there in the Fictional Meth Capitol of the United States, and is not cool with Daddy uprooting her to one of the Rib Capitols of the World.  And why was that?

 

“The people who run our school have a large presence in Albuquerque. That was one of the reason your father wanted to move: to get away from them. And like . . .” Annie almost forget to use Kerry’s code name and caught herself at the last moment. “Gavin said, he was probably worried they would start watching you. Maybe he knew what was happening to you.” She watched Tanith closely. “Have strange things been happening around you?”

Tanith nodded slowly. “Yeah.”

“Such as?”

“It’s like . . .” She brought her hands together into a fist and rested them against her chin. “Sometimes I’ll be looking for something and I can’t find it, and it’ll just show up. Usually a top or bra or something like that.”

Kerry chuckled. “I had that happened a couple of times; I’d look for a book and it’d be sitting on my desk.” He looked at Annie. “I didn’t talk about it until after I’d started school and begun using magic.”

“It didn’t matter by that time.” She turned away from Kerry and back to Tanith. “That’s fairly common: it’s called Involuntary Translocation. You’re basically calling something to you, but you have no real skill in crafting the spell, so it just pops in somewhere close. I had the same thing happen to me when I started becoming Aware, but I was like five at the time.”

Five?”

“My mother and father are witches, as are my grandparents.” Annie tried not to sound like she was bragging, but she couldn’t help being proud of her lineage. “We’ve had witches in our family lines going back seven generations.”

“Oh.” Tanith glanced at Kerry. “You, too?”

“No. I come from what you call a Normal background—that’s with a capital ‘N’.” He scratched himself as he smiled. “There was a witch in my family about five generations back, but I’m the first one since then.” He motioned towards Tanith. “You’re more like . . . Nadya: you’re a Legacy.”

 

For the first time we hear that Kerry noticed some strange things happening to him as well, but he’d started doing magic before he ever had a chance to talk about it–or did he?  After all, he spoke to Annie in his dreams, and after she told him she was a witch, you’d think he’d say something like, “You know, there’s some strange stuff happening to me . . .”  But did he?  Hum . . . maybe I know if he did, maybe I don’t.  I’m not saying–least not yet.

But all this talk of Normals and Legacies and levelmates, it brings out things that one shouldn’t be showing . . .

 

Annie shot Kerry a quick glance. “That’s someone who comes from witches—”

Kerry laid his hand against Annie’s arm. “Of which she’s the only one in our level. The rest of the witches are like me.”

“No, they’re not.” Annie reached around and took his hand. “None of them are like you . . .”

They stared at each other for a few seconds and only broke eye contact when Tanith cleared her throat. “Um, are you two like together, or something?”

“Or something.” Kerry dropped his hand from Annie’s arm.

“Um, huh.” Tanith turned to the smiling girl standing next to the smiling boy. “You said I’m becoming like you?”

 

Damn, kids, keep it in the hotel room, will ya?  You’re gonna scare the proto-witch with the long, lingering looks if you keep that up.  I blame the hormones . . .

But what’s the point of coming out here to the park and going all invisible and stuff if you’re not going to do something.  Well, the something is about to go down.

 

“You guys did that floating . . . thing in the mall.” The look in Tanith’s eyes said it all. “Can you show me more?”

“That was the idea.” Annie glanced over to Kerry. “Ready to do what we were talking about?”

“Sure thing.” He went and stood next to Tanith and spoke to her in a low voice. “Watch this.”

Annie stood with here hands at her side and stared straight ahead, right through Tanith and Kerry. Her eyes shifted to Kerry for a moment as the crease of a smile radiated from her face. Centimeter by centimeter Annie rose off the ground, as if she were being lifted into the air by unseen cables. In twenty seconds she was three meters above the ground, floating without a hint of wavering or shaking.

Tanith’s eyes grew wide. “Wow. That’s incredible.”

“That’s Levitation.” Kerry crossed his arms an smiled up at Annie. “She’s really good at doing it to herself. I’m still learning to do it that way, but I can levitate other things—”

“You ready?” Annie folded her hands in front of herself as if she was still sanding on solid ground.

“Sure thing.” He leaned over and whispered to Tanith. “Don’t get too freaked out.”

“At?” Tanith began waving her arms about. “Whaaaa—”

He took her left hand and held on. “Relax: she knows what she’s doing.” He looked down and saw Tanith and he were already a good fifteen centimeters off the ground and rising slowly. They’d planed for Annie to do this to them both due to her skill. In about thirty seconds they were both almost eye level to her. “And here we are.”

“Who’s doing this?” Tanith looked around, her worry replaced with wonder.

“I am.” Annie still appeared as relax as if she were discussing the weather. “I levitated myself and then lifted you both.”

“Don’t you need like a wand, or something?” Tanith looked down and moved her feet back and forth.

“Naw, that’s just for fictional witches.” All three children dropped slowly towards the ground as Kerry explained magic to Tanith. “It’s all about visualizing the effect, then powering the spell, then crafting it all with your willpower. It’s the middle part that makes your aura glow—”

“Because you’re constantly drawing upon that mystical energy—” Annie set them down as gently as if they were stepping off a curb. “Even when you’re not casting.”

 

Now you know why the aura is always glowing with these witches:  mystical energy is in their bodies at all time.  We also see just how good Annie’s gotten since that first Wednesday in October, when she was on the verge of despair because she couldn’t levitate a small plush; now she’s levitating herself and her boyfriend and another girl.  And no wands!  That’s really gonna cut down on selling ideas if this story ever becomes a movie . . .

This means that there’s a question to ask Kerry–

 

“Cool.” Tanith poked Kerry. “And what can you do?”

“He’s good with transformation magic.” Annie’s eyes twinkled. “Aren’t you, dear?”

Tanith’s brow furrowed. “Dear?”

Kerry ignored her. “Let me show you what she means . . .” He lightly touched her hand, barely brushing his fingers across her skin. Seconds later Kerry’s hair changed, darkening and becoming as curly as Tanith’s. A moment after that his complexion darkened, becoming a perfect match to hers in under five seconds.

He bent his head to one side and held up his hands in mock jubilation. “Ta da.”

For the first time since they’d gotten together Tanith laughed. “Oh, cool. You could be my brother.”

“Maybe.” His hair changed back to the color Kerry was using and his complexion changed back to his original. “I’ve found I can do this pretty easily; it’s like all I have to do is be around a person, and I can do a small personal transformation.”

“You changed your hair and complexion—” Tanith scoffed. “That’s small?”

“We’ll be able to do full transformations into just about anything in a few years.” Annie patted Kerry on the arm. “Ready for the next?”

 

There’s been hinting that Kerry is extremely good with transformation magic, and the things they both did here in the scene will be mentioned later in the story, because these things Annie and Kerry did here, the things they’re good at–they’re really good at them.

And as Annie indicated, they’re not finished . . .

 

“What’s next?” The smile on Tanith’s face grew wider. “There’s more.”

Annie nodded. “A little sorcery this time—”

“Sorcery? Like black magic?”

“What you might call black magic, yes. It’s mostly magic that can be used against another person either offensively or defensively.” She held up her right hand, keeping it close to her side. In about five seconds a small ball began to form just above the palm of her hand. A few seconds later the bright blue ball was about fifteen centimeters across.

Tanith moved a little closer to examine Annie’s magic. “What’s that?”

“Cold fire. On the surface it’s room temperature—” She ran her fingers over the top, just inside the interface before she reached out and levitated a stick towards her. “But inside . . .” Annie grabbed the stick and thrust it into the center, where about five centimeters of the end burst into flame. “It’s as hot as any natural fire.”

Kerry nodded. “Or a lot hotter.”

Annie blew out the fire on the stick before dropping it to the ground. She flicked her hands to the side, vanquishing the cold fire. “If you know what you’re doing, you can incinerate a body in less than a minute.”

Tanith said nothing, just taking in the information. She looked at Kerry. “Can you do that?”

“I’m working on it, but . . .” He grinned as he raised his left hand. “I’m working on something else.” A bright pin-point of light appeared over Kerry’s upturned palm. It expanded to almost the same size as Annie’s cold fire, with a dull violet color instead of bright blue. “A different kind of ball.”

“Is that—” Tanith leaned closer to it to hear the faint crackle and feel the charge running near her skin. “That’s electricity?”

“Ball lightening.” He flexed his hand and the ball vanished. “Same thing, though, more or less. I’ve been working on that for a few months.”

“He’s become good with the spell, too.” Annie took Kerry’s arm; at this point she didn’t care of Tanith saw them acting this way or not. “Though he’s convinced he can do better.”

Kerry shrugged. “That’s just me.”

“I know.”

Tanith ignored the touchy-feely stuff going on between these two: whatever story they were trying to pull off, “Nadya” and “Gavin” were far more than friends, and it showed before this moment. “Would I be able to learn that if I, you know, went to your school?”

 

And there’s that “touchy-feely” stuff going on again.  Annie doesn’t care:  she can only stay away from her “brother” for so long before she’s gonna hold hands or something.  Since Ms. New Witch noticed this already, no need to hide any more, right?

With the magic show over, it’s time to state why they’re really here . . .

 

Annie shook her head. “We’re more than that. We wanted to tell you that you’re becoming like us—”

Kerry placed his hands in the pockets of his jacket. “Show you that magic exists—”

“And let you know you, too, can learn.” Annie linked her arm through Kerry’s. “We were sent here to bring you in.”

Now Tanith was back to being confused. “Bring me in?”

“Yes. The idea now is to take you somewhere and have you meet with the rest of our group, then visit your father, speak with him, and . . .” Annie glanced at Kerry, who was looking back at Annie. “Convince him that it’s best you embrace your new life.” She smiled softly. “It’s time to bring you home, Tanith.”

 

“It’s time to bring you home . . .”  Salem as home is a point that’s going to pop up time and again in the story of Annie and Kerr, because The Foundation–and Salem in particular–is becoming their home.  The dream space was their first home, and now the school is becoming their next home.  What homes will they have after that?  Stay tuned.

I also did something here I’ve not really done before:  I wrote a small snippet that was so nice that I moved it ahead to another scene.

It's just a few words, but it's a break from habit.

It’s just a few words, but it’s a break from habit.

But the last seen is done.  Now on to the next–

And something else I have to do.

A Walk in the Park: Taking a Stroll

I was hoping to have another full scene written today, hoping to have another twelve or fifteen hundred words in the bank to show, but . . . there are good days, and there are bad days, and yesterday was one of the really horrible days.  It actually started when I was putting together yesterday’s blog post, and didn’t actually end until–well, about the time I went to bed, after I went out to get something to eat and had a couple of good meltdowns, and finally just kicked back in my chair to finish King of Kings, or as critics called it when it came out in 1961, “I Was a Teenage Jesus.”

This means I only managed about eight hundred words, which is below what I’ve normally written at this time.  On the other hand, my work day ends around two or three today, and I’m starting on a four-day weekend, so there’s a good likely hood I may finish this chapter and the next before Monday rolls in next week.  We’ll see.

Where are they now?  We left them in the mall, but we know that’s not where they want to do their thing.  For that, we have to head across the street . . .

 

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

Washington Square Park was pretty much deserted, even at this point close to noon on a Saturday. With the Crown Center to the south, the Amtrak station to the west, and the much large Penn Valley Park to the southwest, there was little need for most people to gather here—

The park was accessible from the Crown Center by an enclosed overhead walkway, which meant Annie and Kerry were able to reach the park about five minutes after leaving her spot on the first floor, and they were able to find a secluded spot a few minutes after that, for the location was full of trees, making it easier to speak without being overheard—which is what they desired.

Annie and Kerry hadn’t seen Erywin follow them to the park, but they knew she’d been close behind them as they crossed Pershing Road, and that she was somewhere nearby monitoring them indirectly. They didn’t tell Tanith they were being watched: as they’d worked out last night, and in the days leading up to this moment, it was thought best that she not see the adults, only the witches her age.

They found a large tree in the middle of the park and decided this spot would be as good a spot to talk as any. Kerry looked around as her removed his backpack and retrieved the tablet. Annie unzipped her jacket and removed her phone; she punched up an app and set it back into her jacket. She turned to Kerry, who was scanning the area. “See anyone?”

“No.” He sipped the tablet back into the pack and set the later against the tree. “We’re running silent?”

“Yes. Now we need to go one better—”

“Right.” Both put their arms to the side and crafted the spell that would allow them to demonstrate their powers without being seen. The saw the slight ripple effect around them move out and join until it vanished about three meters on either side of them. “I think we’re done.”

“We are.”

 

Competent witches, these kids are.  They got this deal locked down and they know how to set up.  By the way, if you want to check out the action:

Here they are, from the air, with the Center at the bottom.

Here they are, from the air, with the Center at the bottom.

And they're somewhere inside there . . .

And they’re somewhere inside there . . .

Just to the right of that tree--no, the other tree.

Just to the right of that tree–no, the other tree.

And there’s a reason you can’t see these kids . . .

 

Tanith was still a little confused by what she’d seen in the mall, and now things were apparently happening around her of which she was unaware. “What did-did you do? What happened?”

Annie checked the bud in here left ear, which she needed to keep in place should Erywin want to contact them. “I set up a field around us that will prevent sound from traveling far, or allow us to be recorded from more than a couple of meters away.”

Kerry unzipped his own jacket. “And we put up a light bending spell so that no one can see us.”

Tanith did a double take. “What do you mean, no one can see us?”

“We’re invisible.” Annie stood next to Tanith and lightly touched her arm. “It’s okay: we do this a lot.”

“Yeah.” Kerry stood just behind Annie. “We did that all day yesterday at your school.”

You were at my school?”

“All day.”

Annie gave the girl a comforting smile. “I followed you into the bathroom just before your first class after lunch.”

The girl tried to remember the events of yesterday. “I don’t remember that.”

“You wouldn’t; I wasn’t quite invisible, but I wasn’t making myself noticed.” She grinned. “We followed you on the bus as well, and into the mall.”

“That’s where we got the recording of your aura—and we saw you with Ruth.” Kerry neglected to mention the brightness of that aura: they’d decided to keep that information to themselves for now. “Where do you know her from?”

 

Pick up the kid, do a little magic in front of her, throw up a little invisibility shielding, and then tell her you were stalking her at school.  Yep, that’s the way you do it.  And make sure you sound normal as hell when you’re saying this stuff.  It also makes you wonder how Annie approached her in the bathroom.  Can she turn on her light bending spell just enough that you might think you’d see her, but you’re not sure if you saw someone or not?  Like walking past a ghost?

And the last part of this?

 

“Looked it up.” Annie decided not to talk of that matter further: they had other business. “We need to talk about you, Tanith—”

“First tell me who you are.” She looked them and crossed her arms. “I still don’t know your names.”

Annie stepped back so she was alongside Kerry. “I’m Nadya, and this is Gavin.” As much as they disliked their code names, Helena instructed them to keep up the charade when they were in public. “We attend a special school here in the United States—one that you won’t find on the Internet—”

“Or on Google Maps, either.” Kerry chuckled. “Trust me; I found that out before getting there.”

Tanith didn’t know what to ask, so she went with the most obvious question. “What do you study?”

Annie got right to the point. “We study magic; we’re witches.”

Kerry threw in one last point. “Just like you dad.”

 

And that’s how they left it off:  gave their fake names, then laid the “W” Word on her, and Kerry ended it with there, “Oh, and your dad’s like us” line.  The important stuff is coming, and now I want to finish this scene this afternoon, and then get into the next one, because the scene after that–I’ll have all day Christmas to write it, and like I said, I could finish this chapter before the end of the weekend.

Gotta do something to keep the depression away.

The Future in the Mall

And now we start the dance . . .

This is an important chapter, only in that it’s the heart of the operation I’ve been building up to for the last thirty-five thousand or so words.

See the numbers under "Total Word Count"?  Scrivener and I keep track.

See the numbers under “Total Word Count”? Scrivener and I keep track.

Which means about half of everything I’ve written so far for Act Three (which is now just over sixty-five thousand words) has led to this moment–or should I say, series of moments.  Can’t say how much is gonna get written in the next three scenes, but this chapter will probably take the act over seventy thousand words, and I’m more than certain I’ll end this act somewhere between ninety and one hundred thousand words.  Not quite the length of the other two acts, but you’re still getting a novel out of just this part.

What is happening?  Kids Hanging at the Mall, that’s what.  Only a couple of the kids are there not to window shop, but to keep an eye out for someone important . . .

 

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

Kerry stood to the left side of the main mall entrance watching his tablet display carefully. If he read everything correctly, Tanith was off the bus and walking towards the main entrance—she couldn’t be more than fifteen meters away, and closing. He pressed the bud tightly into his right ear and send out his thought to Annie and Erywin. She’s right outside the entrance; should be here in a few seconds.

He heard Annie’s voice in his head. I see her— Kerry looked up and saw Tanith about to step inside. I’m ready.

Same here. He waited for Tanith to walk by before sliding tablet into his backpack and slinging it over his shoulder. He stayed about four meters behind her, keeping his eyes straight and locked on the back of the girl’s head. He knew Annie was waiting not far from where they ate yesterday, and she’d wait until Tanith was sitting before she’d approach. For now, it was Kerry’s job to watch and keep his distance . . .

Not that there was a chance he’d lose her. Nothing was open yet: most of the stores would open at eleven, but a few of the food places would open in about five minutes. Kerry had confirmed those times last night with everyone before Annie sent off the message to Tanish asking her to meet “Ruth” for an early lunch and some shopping. It was agreed that it was a good idea to get her there early so she’d have to wait, making it easier for Annie to approach and start a conversation, and that was the plan they were following this morning.

 

It’s on, as they say.  Tanith is there and the game’s afoot.  Erywin’s also in the mall, but she’d a floor above and using magic to look through the floor at the action below, and waiting for them to come up to the second floor so they can take the walkway across the street to the park where they’ll give Tanith a little demonstration of their powers.  For all intents and purposes the kids are on their own.  All they have to do, as Kerry thinks at one point, is to get to talk to them.

And that’s where Annie swings into action . . .

"X" marks the spot of the action.

“X” marks the spot of the action.

 

He caught Annie looking in his direction; he nodded, then looked towards Tanith. She nodded then stood. Slowly she walked up behind Tanith as Kerry left his spot and moved towards the two girls. He took a seat a couple of tables away as Annie reached their target . . .

“Excuse me.” Annie stepped around to face Tanith while holding up her phone. “Could you tell me the time: I’m not certain my mobile is working right.”

The young girl looked up at Annie with a puzzled look on her face. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, I’m not certain my time is right.” She nodded towards Tanith’s purse. “Could you check yours and tell me the time?”

Kerry saw Tanith nearly roll here eyes. “Your phone’s picking up the signal from the tower; there’s no way you can set it.”

That was Kerry’s cue to step in. “That’s not really true—” He stood alongside Annie but spoke to Tanith. “Maybe the SIM card is locked on the last time zone it was in.” He’d come up with this bit of technobabble because he figured Tanith wouldn’t know enough to realize if he was BSing her or not. He turned to Annie. “Where did you come from?”

“Boston.”

“Well, that could be it . . .” He turned back to Tanith as he sat in the chair across the aisle from here table. “Could you check your phone?” He set his backpack on the floor next to him.

The girl did roll her eyes this time, but reached into her purse to check here display. “It’s ten-thirty.” She held the display out for Annie to examine. “See?”

“Yes, I do.” Annie checked her own display, then pretended to touch the screen. “Thank you.” She turned to Kerry. “And thank you, too.”

Kerry nodded. “No problem.”

Annie didn’t leave, though. She stood staring at Tanith as if she were seeing her for the first time. “You have a lovely aura.”

Tanith looked like she’d been told there was something hanging out of her nose. “What?”

 

And that’s how you start a conversation:  “My phone is jacked, do you have the time?”  Then someone comes over, talks crap, you get the time, and then–“You have a lovely aura.”  And, of course, the person you’re telling this to is going to be very receptive . . .

 

“You have a lovely aura. It’s becoming brilliant . . .” She lowered her voice as if she were telling a secret. “But you feel that, don’t you?”

Tanith sat back and crossed her arms. “You crazy or somethin’?” She shook her head and looked around Annie. “I’m waitin’ on someone, so if you—”

Kerry cut in on the conversation. “We’ve seen it. We saw it yesterday.” He reached inside his backpack and removed his tablet. “We got it right here.”

Tanith scrunched her brow as she turned to Kerry. “You were doing what?”

He ignored her and addressed Annie instead. “You want to show her?”

Annie didn’t take her eyes off Tanith. “Is it clear?”

Kerry looked about one last time, making sure they weren’t being observed. “Yeah, it is.” He levitated the tablet about five centimeters above his right hand. “Like right now.”

Annie nodded and held her left hand close to her body. The tablet quickly floated from Kerry’s hand to hers; the moment she had it she punched up a picture and turned the display so Tanith could see the image there. “This was you, yesterday. That’s your aura. It’s changing: it’s become like ours.” Annie motioned towards the chair on the other side of the table. “May I sit?” She didn’t wait for a yes or no: she pulled the chair out, sat, and set the tablet upon the table. “Thank you.”

 

That’s Annie for you:  she wants to sit, she sits.  And a little “Float the tablet from one person to another” stuff always works wonders, too–you just have to be certain that no one is watching.  Which is why Kerry was looking around first before kicking that off.  He’s even ready to step in and help explain their actions–

 

Tanith started at this strange girl who had just sat across from her. “Who are you?” She looked down at the tablet. “How did you do that?”

Kerry leaned towards the confused girl and remembered back to his first night at Salem. “It’s a kinda magic.” He smiled and winked at her as Coraline had done with him.

“Yes.” It was time to make their pitch, and Annie knew if they couldn’t pull this off in the next five minutes or less, they’d lose Tanith. “It’s just a small example of what we can do.”

“We?” She turned to Kerry. “You did that, too?”

“Just a little.” He nodded towards Annie. “She did the heavy lifting.”

Tanith chewed on her lower lip for a few seconds before speaking to Annie. “What do you want?”

Annie folded her hands over the tablet. “To show you something.”

“Whaddaya want to show me?”

There was a quick glance towards Kerry, then Annie was completely focused on the emerging witch across from her. “Your future . . .”

 

Do you think Annie tried out cryptic lines on Kerry while they were sitting in bed last night listening to pop music?  That would be an interesting scene to write–assuming, of course, they weren’t talking about things like, “Um, you think we’re gonna have to kill anyone tomorrow, Sweetie?”  “Probably–”  (Gives him a kiss)  “See you in the morning!”  (Snuggle snuggle)  Naw, I think even Annie would be a little bothered by the idea she might have to take out a bad guy in the morning–

Just a little, though.

The next scene, though–it’s going to be interesting.

Knowing Unknowns

Chapter Thirty-Six is finished, almost reaching the same word count as the chapter before.  Which means the next chapter will likely be a little longer, and I’ll probably ride Chapter Thirty-Seven out until just past Christmas–and that means this current section, Part Twelve, will probably finish up right around the first of the year.  After this part’s out of the way, there are only five chapters remaining until the end.

It’s almost there:  it’s almost the end.

It's almost there; it's almost finished.

It’s almost there; it’s almost finished.

Only we gotta get out of Kansas City first . . .

So . . . the question was asked:  who is this new girl?  I asked it, and you can bet other people in the story asked it as well.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look–

 

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

“How is it that the Guardians missed this?”

Helena was asking herself the same thing. It didn’t worry her, but she was slightly bothered that what they’d discovered hadn’t appeared in any of the documentation she’d examined while preparing for this operation. “I have no idea, Erywin.” They were back in th instructor’s suite at the hotel after a quiet, hurried dinner, and Helena wasn’t concerned that they were going to be overheard using their own names. “You read the same reports I read. There was nothing there about this.”

Erywin hadn’t stopped pacing the suite since they’d returned. “Another Aware girl—speaking with Tanith. How long have the Guardians been monitoring her?”

“Months.” Helena turned to Kerry. “You’re certain that ID is correct.”

Kerry, who was sitting on the sofa with Annie, had the tablet next to him with the information still pulled up. “Ruth McRoberts. She’s in the school system and in the same grade as Tanith.” He sat back and tried to look confounded. “It’s legit.”

“I checked it as well, Helena.” Annie sat close to Kerry and nodded at him. “The software Isis gave us worked perfectly. I also looked up her address and found her home address and mobile number. It checks out with the number I pulled off Tanith’s phone when the picture they took together was sent to her.”

“But are we sure that’s not just a cover?” Erywin didn’t care for the feelings that sprang up inside her the moment they discovered that Tanith was being visited by another girl who was now only Aware, but whom appeared, based upon the brightness of her aura, had been that way for some time. “I mean, that has happened before.”

 

Erywin is alluding to something that’s about to break in a big way in this discussion, but Helena–trying not to be the paranoid sorceress and Guardian in the room–isn’t ready to go there.  She’s her own compelling counter-arguments.

 

“Honey . . .” Helena wasn’t ready to go where Erywin was already residing. “It is entirely possible the team that was here watching Tanith never encountered this—”

Kerry spoke up. “Ruth.”

“Yeah, her. That has happened before as well.” She pointed out the window to her left of where she sat. “There’s no coverage out there; The Foundation has no presence in this city. For all we know there are more than a few people out there who are ready to become Aware, or who may already be there.” Helena slapped the chair arms and sighed. “We only know about Tanith because she’s been observed.”

“Which goes back to my concerns about this Ruth.” Erywin finally sat on the edge of the bed and slipped off her shoes. “They’ve had Tanith under observation for a while, so why wouldn’t they have picked up any signs from her?”

“Maybe because they didn’t see them together.” Helena stood up, stripped off her jacket, and tossed it on the chair behind her. “Maybe they didn’t watch Tanith as often as they wanted us to believe. Or maybe the observation team consisted of arseholes who didn’t like coming to the middle of the US and did their job half-assed.” She turned to Erywin. “That’s been known to happen, too.”

 

Yeah, it’s always possible that the Guardians aren’t always the best of the best of the best, and they did a pretty crappy job keeping a twelve year old girl under observation.  However, that doesn’t address the two hundred kilo witch in the room . . .

 

“That’s bullshit, my darling.” Erywin was having none of these explanations. Having lived with Helena for thirty years, she knew her moods, she knew her body language, and she knew when she was trying to hide concerns from others—in this case, Erywin suspected she was trying to avoid bringing up a certain subject in front of the children. “You’re thinking the same thing that everyone else in this room is thinking about this girl.”

Helena turned on her partner with intensity. “And what is everyone else in this world thinking about this girl?”

“You know what I’m thinking—”

“Yes, I’ve figured that out.”

“Well—” She waved out an arm at the sofa where Annie and Kerry sat. “Why don’t you ask what’s on their mind?”

She almost told the children to go back to their room so she could discuss this matter with Erywin, but they were the most important part of the team, and they had a right to voice their opinions. She turned to the one closest to her. “Kerry, what are you thinking about this girl?”

He kept his eyes locked on Helena and didn’t once turn to Annie. “I wonder if she’s a Deconstructor.”

“Do you, now?” She knew he’d discuss this matter with Annie, so she wasn’t surprised by his answer. After all, of the two, Kerry had come the closest to having direct contact with them, and was probably leery of most contact.

He nodded. “Yes.”

She turned to Annie. “And you, Annie?”

Annie didn’t hesitate with her answer. “I agree with Kerry: I think she may be a Deconstructor.” She cast a sideways glance to the woman on her left. “And I agree with Erywin: I don’t see how the Guardians missed this girl.”

Helena sighed loud and long. “I agree. I’m wondering the same thing on both counts.”

 

There it is, out in the open:  the bad guys may be in town.  Perhaps they came for the ribs and stayed for the magical girl, or they just are here because they are.  Either way, things have possibly become a little dicey, and Erywin–who has found herself in this position a few times–what’s to know the story, morning glory.

 

Erywin crossed her legs. “So are you pulling your plug on this operation?”

There was a long pause while Helena turned and stared out the window. Based upon how she thought this conversation would go, she’d made up her mind considering the field op before they’d finished dinner. “No.” She turned to face Erywin. “I’m not.”

Erywin was off the bed in an instance. “And why the hell not?”

“Because everyone in the room thinking this Ruth girl may be a Deconstructor is not the same as her being one. And while I could shut this operation down this very second, doing so would leave Tanith in the lurch—”

“Not if you called in the Guardians and told them to take her under their wing.” Erywin wasn’t bothering keeping her feelings concealed. “You need to bring in a team that—”

“That knows what?” Helena waved her arm about the room. “This mission? The objective? We’re that fucking team, remember?” She calmed herself before she could explain more. “We know this girl, we know the local, and we now know there’s someone here who could be upsetting this equation. If this girl is a Deconstructor, she may know Tanith is on the cusp, and she should be preparing to force her into Awareness.”

Erywin calmed herself as well; it wasn’t good to be fighting in front of Annie and Kerry. “That would likely drive here insane.”

“It’s a possibility.” She turned to Annie. “You mentioned that Tanith and this girl talked about getting together for lunch tomorrow?”

“Yes.” Annie sat on the edge of the sofa and leaned forward. “They chatting about a lot of things, but they made plans to get together for lunch about thir—” She rolled her eyes. “About one in the afternoon.”

Helena nodded. “You said you have this Ruth’s number?”

“Yes.”

“I want you to use that number and send a message to Tanith telling her you can get to the mall earlier and you’ll meet for lunch around eleven.”

Annie had been shown how to do that, so she understood the how, but . . . “Why?”

“Because we’ve moving up the time table.” Helena turned to Erywin. “I want you and the kids to be at the mall first thing tomorrow. When Tanith comes in—” She swung around and faced Annie and Kerry. “I want you to do what you were planing to do later in the afternoon: make contact, convince her you want to show her something, then take here across the street to Washington Square Park and give her a demonstration.”

 

Like it or not, Helena is right:  they are the team for the job.  They’ve trained for a month, they know the area and the target, and if they bail there’s nothing that says the bad guys don’t swoop in and take this girl ahead of time and mess here up.  It’s not a good position to be in, and Helena will likely tell the people monitoring them of this twist, and that they may need to get out in a hurry.

In the meantime, however . . .

 

Helena knew, however, that this brought out another matter—and now that it was hanging in the air between Erywin and her, it needed addressing. “Honey, you brought a weapon, right?”

Erywin nodded. “As you instructed.”

“All right.” She glanced over to the sofa and slowly turned towards the children. Time to know our unknowns. “Kerry . . .” He turned his attention to the sorceress. “What can you do, sorcery-wise?” She glanced over at Annie, then back to him. “And I know Annie’s been showing you things, so don’t bullshit us. We need to know everything.”

He looked away from Helena’s glaze for just a second before returning it without hesitation. “The stuff we’ve picked up in class—”

“No: I need to know what you can do if your life—or Erywin’s life, or Annie’s life—depended upon your knowledge.”

“Right.” He glanced towards the window for a second, the came back to Helena. “Annie showed me how to do Shadow Ribbons. She also showed me how to put up a magical screen, and how to use dark energy with regular spells, and I’ve practiced doing that with our shields and with Air Hammer. And . . .” He slowly turned towards Annie.

She nodded towards Helena. “She wants to know: tell her.”

He stared off across the room, not looking at anyone. “Annie showed me how to do Electrify, both major and minor variants.” He looked up at Helena. “I don’t know how good it is, because I haven’t actually tried it on someone.”

“Understood.” Helena turned to Annie. “You know all the same, plus Exsanguination?”

Annie nodded. “And Cold Fire. I can do that, too.”

 

There you have it:  all the little things that Annie has been showing Kerry on the side.  See, this is what happens when you have a soul mate who can pretty much kill you with a look:  she starts showing you the same things she knows.  Just imagine if they do get married and they get into a fight . . .

That leaves on last thing that Helena needs to say.  And it’s not, “We’re having waffles for breakfast tomorrow”:

 

“Yeah, that might come in handy.” She stepped back to take in the room. Helena had hoped she wouldn’t have too make this speech, but given the unknown situation facing them, she felt it was necessary. “I’m saying this now because I don’t want to waste the time saying it tomorrow. What hasn’t been mentioned—but I’m certain Erywin has already considered—if that if Ruth is a Deconstructor, she’s not alone: she’s probably working with one, maybe two other people. Now they wouldn’t have seen us yesterday, because we masked our auras, but tomorrow, when you start showing her what you can do, it’s possible if they’re watching her they’ll see you. And then they’ll know for certain we’re on to them.

“The three of you, when you are on the op tomorrow, if things go sideways and you find yourself knee-deep in the shite, you have full authorization to do whatever is necessary to protect yourself and your team. And I mean anything—so if you find yourself facing down one of these bastards, don’t hold back: kill them.” She took a slow, deep breath. “Because they sure as hell aren’t going to hesitate to kill you . . .”

 

“So, kids, this is where your education in black magic has taken you:  be ready to off someone if becomes necessary, because if you don’t . . .”  You can imagine the kids might not have the easiest time sleeping tonight, wondering if they’re gonna have to fight for their lives and dust a few Deconstructors in the process.  And they won’t get any help from friendly spirits, or magic mirrors, or an army backing them up–

This is gonna be all on them if it it should turn bad.

No one ever said being a witch and a sorceress was gonna be easy.

Team Salem on the Job

First off, happy Winter Solstice to you all.  This is the shortest day of the year, and as I told some friends, it’s all uphill from here until June.  So while I would suggest going out and dancing naked around a tree, if you are of a mind, go out and do something to enjoy the day.  Me . . . I’ll probably stay home and write.

And speaking of writing, I finished up a scene I started last night.  I wanted to get that done before writing this post, and when I was done I checked my word count to see what I’d done this early, chilly morning, and discovered . . .

I don't read anything into this, but I do find it funny I've done this three or four other times.

I never read anything into this, but I do find it funny I’ve done this three or four other times.

So there:  finishing scenes and doing research–did I mention the research?

Yeah, that was last night, and one of the reasons I was a little choppy in my writing last night, because–well, you’ll see in a moment.

The actually moves over to the Crown Center mall now, but in order to get there, Annie has to do something she’s never done before . . .

 

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

Annie was glad to be out of the cold, but in doing so she’d stepped into a world that was far different from what she’d experienced before.

For one, she’d ridden a bus for the first time . . .

Their instructions had been to wait for school to get out, then follow Tanith to the Crown Center mall. Her normal routine was take the public buses to the Center, spend a few hours eating and working on homework if necessary, then taking the bus home. Since Tanith would ride the bus, they would have to ride the bus just so they could keep an eye on her.

Annie had never ridden in a bus in her life. She’d taken the subway in a few cities in here lifetime—she’d loved riding those in Paris and Hong Kong—but busses were something completely foreign to her. She had a pass and had been given instruction about how it was used. Still, it was a new Normal thing, and when it came to trying something new that everyone around was comfortable using . . .

There were no problems, however: Kerry went first, which allowed her to watch him closely. He entered and used his pass as if he’d done this forever, and Annie did exactly as Kerry. They took seats tow rows behind Tanith—Kerry let her sit by the window, which she enjoyed—and they were off to the Center.

They were fortunate that the bus route they were on, the 123, went directly from the school to the Crown Center. They didn’t say much during the trip, just kept their eyes on Tanith and tried to appear as if they fit in with the other riders.

 

Annie’s never ridden a bus.  She’s been on subways, and has probably taken cabs and hired cars–read that as limos–now and then, but this is her first time doing the public transportation thing.  It’s not a big deal for Kerry–he’s probably ridden a bus or two–but whole new thing for our Girl From Pamporovo.

And the bus thing is what held me up last night.  See, everyone thinks I’ve got all my research down pat, but not always.  I’d intended for them to take the bus from Tanith’s school to the mall because that’s what she does, but what bus?  So I had to run out to the website that handles the Kansas City bus schedules, and hunt down the one they’d take from the school and that Tanith would take home.  And what I discovered is Route #123:

Get on this bus, kids.

Get on this bus, kids.

But in finding this route, I discovered that it doesn’t run on the weekends, which sort of threw a curve at my story, because something coming up real soon involves Tanith taking the bus to the mall on the weekends, and if the one that runs by her house doesn’t do the Saturday thing, well, then, I had to find a route–or routes–that did.

I know what some of you are saying:  “Just make it up, Cassie!”  And I could, save I’m dealing with the real world here, and sure as the sun comes up tomorrow–unless it goes supernova tonight, which it can’t, so I’m certain it’ll be up tomorrow–someone would read my made up stuff and go, “That’s not right; in Kansas City–”  Yeah, yeah, I know:  that route doesn’t exist.  I’ll probably get a few like that anyway, but who cares?  I’m in the ball park, and that counts more to me.

So they’re at the mall and things are getting set up . . .

 

Tanith made their operation easy by headed for the Z-teca Restaurant, which offered quick Mexican food, mostly burritos, but tacos and salads were also available. The nicest feature for the place was the majority of the seating was outside the store in the mall concourse. Neither of them wanted too eat much as they were going to dinner after Tanish was back home, so Kerry ordered a couple of tacos for himself, and a salad for Annie, while Annie found a seat where they could watch the concourse and their target.

The phone Annie carried was enchanted so that she could eavesdrop on a person from any distance as long as they were in light of sight. Helena had told them they didn’t expect Tanith to have much to say, but she might receive a call. Annie could also pick up any text message the girl received or sent, as the enchantment could protect on to Annie’s phone whatever Tanith saw on hers.

Kerry’s tablet would allow him to work on Tanith’s aura; he needed nearly twenty seconds with the individual in the tablet camera foci to get an interactive view of their aura. They couldn’t do it while they were invisible, and there were only a few times at school where they could have had a clear view of here as it was. This would be their first chance to get her in the clear, while they were visible, today.

 

Equipment is at the ready, the kids are all set to go.  What happens next?

 

He returned to their table about a minute after Tanith sat at her table and began picking at her quesadilla. “Here ya go, Sis.” He set the salad in front of Annie, giving a wink only she could see.

“Blagodarya vi, moya lyubov.” She figured no one in the mall would know she was saying “Thank you, my love” since she didn’t expect anyone else to understand Bulgarian. She slipped in an earbud as Kerry took his seat across from her so they could mentally speak in private. Did she check her phone when she was ordering?

He almost shook his head out of habit. No. She ordered her food and headed out here. I was right behind her the whole time. He nodded towards the girl sitting a few tables away. She’s checking it now.

Great. Annie held up her phone as if she were trying to get a signal and turned towards Tanith. She was half-turned towards her when Annie launched the enchantment and received a shiver in her right arm as way of letting her know it had taken. Done. Now we can catch her conversations.

Let’s just hope she says something interesting. He reached into his backpack—which he’d brought with him from Salem—and removed the tablet that had been on standby since they’d boarded the bus. No time like now to give her an aura check.

I agree.

 

So the spying begins.  All pretty simple at this point, but do they find anything?

 

Kerry lifted the tablet and pointed it at Annie. “Here, let me get your good side.” He positioned himself so that Tanith was behind Annie and he had a clear line of sight on her. He activated the enchantment and then pretended to so something else on the display. “Just a minute; the app is being difficult.”

“Okay.” Annie knew there wasn’t anything wrong with the app, and that Kerry was simply stalling so he could give the enchantment time to work.

A few seconds later he set the tablet on the table and removed the kickstand from his backpack. I should have done this . . . He attached it to the back of the tablet and kept it turned towards Tanith. He waved Annie over. “Here you go; take a look.”

Annie scooted around the table so she was on Kerry’s left. She scanned the display. “Looks good.” She offered another opinion to him silently. You’re going to scan her constantly?

I don’t see why not; this way we can get the best reading yet. He pointed at the display. Is that reading right, you think?

I think it’s reading perfectly. Tanith’s area, seen in real time, was a yellow wavering back and forth before Normal dullness and Awareness bright. She’s on the cusp; she’s becoming Aware.

 

There you have it:  All in All, Just Another Witch in the Mall–sorry, I had to do that.  Now that they’re watching her, time to get the other player in on the show . . .

 

Yeah, that’s what it looks like. Kerry tapped his right earbud twice to bring in the other two witches on watch. Yo, Mom.

Erwin’s thought came across loud and clear. Is that a proper way to address your loving mother, young man?

Sorry, I thought you were my real mom for a second. He flashed a smile at Annie then continued. We have a positive aura here.

You’re certain?

Annie chimed in. I’m looking at the display, too . . . Moma Phoebe. She grinned knowing how much Erywin hated her code name. Tanith is definitely on the cusp.

 

You gotta love the banter between everyone, and wonder if Erywin’s gonna get called “Phoebe” now and then back at the school.  Probably not, ’cause that would blow whatever cover they have going back at Salem and make other students wonder why they’re referring to the Magical Formula instructor by the name of a spacey blond from the show Friends.

Now they know this is happening, and everyone wants to talk . . .

 

Helena joined the conversation. How are you observing her?

I’ve got the tablet on a kickstand. Kerry touched the tablet and turned it slightly as another girl about Tanith’s age sat at her table. I’m doing a constant scan.

Annie removed her phone from her jacket. I’m monitoring her conversations, too. We should start getting something because someone just sat with her.

Who?

Girl about her age. She just sat and . . . Annie caught Kerry’s sharp intake of breath and turned to him. What is it?

He nodded at the display. Look.

Annie did and swallowed hard when she saw what he’d seen. Mom?

Helena’s tone of concern carried through her thoughts. What?

We have something here we weren’t expecting . . .

 

What?  Not expecting what?  Lizard people?  A transdimensional portal?  A thirty percent off sale at Forever 21?

You guys can make your own guesses . . . and I’m certain you will.