Preparations Beneath a Blood Red Sky

Getting back into the writing last night wasn’t as easy as I thought.  Believe it or not, I’m fighting through a bit of depression this week, and getting my mind focused on word slinging isn’t the easiest.  But you do what you have to do, and even though the heart isn’t in it sometimes, you sit and type away until something coherent comes out, right?

We are back to the Flight School, and things we left off with Emma and Kerry not being able to get the equipment they wanted–you know, people not believing that they can fly the fly so to speak.  Leave it for a witch to come to their rescue:

 

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

Niles looked like he was about to argue with them both when a voice yelled from the open hangar door. “What’s going on?” Nadine walked with purpose towards the older Cernunnos boy. “Why don’t these two have brooms?”

Niles didn’t look happy getting a dressing down in front of a couple of A Levels. “They want Espinoza 4500s.”

“So?” Nadine didn’t even flinch. “They’re checked out on them; have been since the right after their first class.”

“Yeah, but—”

Just give ‘em the fuckin’ brooms, okay?” Nadine exhaled and shook her arms, as if to get the circulation going in her fingers. “You’re holdin’ shit up. Then you and you buddies grab yours and get on the line. Got it?”

Niles looked as if he were about give Nadine an argument, then pointed to another boy roaming between the cabinets. “Two E-45s, now.” He pointed at Emma and Kerry. “Go over to him and pick them up.”

 

As we’ve seen before, Nadine doesn’t mind swearing, and when the potty mouth has to come out, it does.  She does her best to keep it in check, but today isn’t one of those days.

Outside it’s a different story:  the weather it what you might expect for a November morning . . .

 

As they exited the Flight School hanger Emma and Kerry were both struck by the cold. The temperature was just barely over freezing, and while the flying leathers kept the cold at bay, both children felt the chill on their exposed skin. Selena’s Meadow was covered in frost, but instead of the field glistening in the bright morning light, it reflected the hazy red glow emanating from the defense screens protecting the school.

Kerry set his broom to hovering beside him so he could finish dressing. He slipped on his helmet on and pulled it tight before fastening the chin strap, then set his goggles in place on his forehead. By the time he pulled it to his side again, Emma was also fully dressed and ready to fly. They looked at each other and started laughing; it wasn’t that they hadn’t seen each other dressed like this before—they were like this every Monday—but they both realized that today wasn’t a normal flying day, that their flying would carry a different kind of importance—

Okay, everyone.” Nadine stood on the edge of the meadow, where Kerry remembered Professor Salomon standing when they lined up for their first flight. “I need everyone on the flight line—” She pointed to her left. “—lined up from F Levels—” She swept her arm to the right. “—to A’s. Let’s move, fliers.”

 

It would be a bit freaky to hang out under a red-tinted sky for most of the day–or all day–or all day and night.  At this point no one knows how long it’s going to go on, but now that you’ve committed, you gotta stay with the road you’re upon.  It’s the way it is.

Here was the last bit I managed last night before crawling off to bed.  Professor Salomon and Sladen–in their flight gear–giving the prep talk before getting all the little kiddies airborne:

 

Professor Salomon examined the line of students, her face calm, her eyes clear and attentive. “Okay, people—” She placed her hand on here hips. “I’ll keep this short, because we need everyone airborne by eight-thirty, and that’s quickly approaching.

“Let me explain our mission: this is an observational patrol, which means we’re going to do a lot of flying around in circles while keeping an eye on the wall, inside and out. And that’s all we do today—or at least that’s my hope.

“We’ll fly two routes today: the Low Road and the High Road. The Low Road is seventy meters up, high enough to clear the treetops, but low enough to see the ground. The people on the Low Road are to watch everything on this side of the wall, and inward for about twenty meters.

“The High Road is one hundred and fifty meters up, and everyone on that will watch for activity on the outside of the wall. In both cases, you’re looking for activity against the screens, any unusual movement near the wall, and anything that looks out of the ordinary gets called in. Got it?” She waited for an acknowledgment from everyone before continuing.

“Here’s the hierarchy for the patrol: Carrier—” She pointed at the Flight School. —is acting as our air traffic control, and they’ll direct you around the grounds. You may get a call from Laputa—” The professor pointed off to the north and the Observatory. “—but only to remind you when you’re due for a rest. Beyond that they won’t issue any flight orders; those should come through Carrier.

“Above them is Leela—” Salomon pointed at Sladen. “—and me. Either one of us can override Carrier, but we won’t do so unless we have a very good reason. We’ll be out in the field, so if we want to give you a direct order, we’ll find you and fly over. And remember that Leela is my second, so if she issues an order and I countermand it, my order stands.

“Above us all is Fortress—they countermand everyone. They usually won’t give any direct orders except for two. The first will be if you call something in and they issue an order to hold up. When they say that, everyone will stop flying and hold their positions. When everything is good again, they’ll order you to resume flying. That one’s pretty simple . . .

“The other order will be ‘Go to Ground’. They’ll only issue that if there’s a breach of the outer screens or walls. When you hear that—” Salomon raised her voice so there was no mistaking her instructions. “—if you are not a member of the Air Assault team, you are to proceed at the fastest possible speed to either Carrier or Laputa and get inside before they’re locked down. You’ll have sixty seconds to do this, so when the order comes, just go. Don’t look to see what other pilots are doing: worry about what you’re doing.”

 

Of course Kerry knows what Erywin’s call sign means; there’s a scene of him smiling when he sees the patch on her flight jacket, because he’s not only a witch and a sorceress, he’s a geek.  There will even be mention of it soon.

There we are:  so far the biggest scene in the chapter.  There’s a real possibility it will go over two thousand words before the scene, and chapter, are finished.

I just need to get to it tonight.

There will be more.  I promise.

There will be more. I promise.