Striking Out Along the Low Road

You know what works wonders for a bit of depression and being unable to get the words out?  A trip out to eat, and writing in public.  Which is exactly what I did yesterday.

I had to run out and pick up a light bulb and some coffee, but I thought I’d bring my computer along, because Panera is right there by the store, and it doesn’t hurt to stop, grab a bite, and write.  That was the plan, and that’s what happened.  Of course the funniest part of the night was the guy running the counter.  He just kept staring at me, probably because I’m just so damn awesome he was at a loss for work.  That, or transwomen scare the hell out of him, and he thinks he’d gonna catch some bad gender cooties if he opens his mouth.  Whattsa matter, bro?  Scared of tall girls?

(I should mention that I was wearing my new espadrille sandals which add about two-and-a-half inches to my five foot, eight inch frame, so I was getting up there towards six foot.  Just wait until I’m out in some nice evening pumps.)

The upside is I finished up the last scene in Chapter Twenty with a thirteen hundred word run that lasted about an hour and forty-five minutes.  The scene worked out at just over three thousand words, which is sort of half expected due to the stuff going on.  But it was written, and it is done.  Getting out into the public places and writing does seem to get my juices flowing, probably because the whole, “Up in the morning, go to work, come home, write,” thing gets a little old after a few weeks–or in this case, months–and you need that break to freshen things up.  Plus, I had news shoes to wear, and what women doesn’t like going out in new shoes?

Where are we, then?  Vicky’s giving the last of the orders to her gallant fliers.  Let’s pick up there . . .

 

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

Vicky spent several seconds in silence considering the students before her while contemplating all the possible permutations for the day ahead. “I hope today is boring.” She nodded slowly as she looked from right to left. “I really do, because a boring day means nothing happens; it means the Deconstructors aren’t coming for us and there’s no chance of anyone getting hurt. Which means when this is over—maybe in a few hours, maybe at the end of the day, maybe sometime late tonight—we can all gather in the Dining Hall and have something to eat while we talk about how we flew in circles doing nothing. The hot cider’s on me, by the way.

“In the meantime we’re going to do our job: we’re going to play our part in the defense of the school. There’s only seventeen teams, and two of those teams are volunteers, which means we’re a little short—and that means we need to be extra vigilant today. Keep your eyes open and the chatter to a minimum; if I hear you gabbing away like you’re on a Saturday flight around the ground I’ll give you a verbal warning first and I’ll be up your ass in person second: there won’t be a third—you’ll get pulled, because what’s the point of keeping you in the air if you’re not doing your duty.”

Vicky raised her voice slightly to drive home this last point. “I want you all to take heed of this last—if you can’t follow orders, I will sit your ass down, either at Carrier or Laputa, but I will yank you out of the sky. I don’t want gawkers, I don’t want sightseers, and I damn sure don’t want heroes. Not today. I want thirty-four pilots, seventeen teams, who when given an order will follow it exactly.”

She lowered her head slight and stared at the ground for just a moment. “This is the big time, kids, and if things even get the least bit ugly at some point there won’t be any room for ambiguity. If you’re told to do something, you get to it, nothing else, nothing more, no questions asked. At the end of the day I want to stand in the hangar and collect everyone’s broom—I don’t want to be spending my time looking for you at your last known position before you vanished from Fortress’ scans. If you follow your orders, the later won’t happen; you gotta believe me.”

She shifted her weight back and forth as she watch the expression of her pilots. They got it; they know what could happen today. That’s good . . . “That’s all I got.” She turned to Erywin. “Let’s get ‘em lined up and in the air.” She turned back to the students and spoke with obvious emotion in her voice. “Fly safe, everyone. See you back here in a while.”

 

There it is:  the big time.  This is where things could get nasty fast, because the school has been a target in the past, and it could be a target this November day.  Like it or not, this isn’t a game, not by a long shot.  In the history of the story about forty students and instructors were killed eleven years before, and it could get just as bad today.  So . . . let’s be careful out there.

Particularly these two–

 

Emma and Kerry turned along with the rest of the students, but before they could follow the others they heard Professor Salomon voice ring out loud and clear. “Selene; Starbuck.” They turned and saw her pointed at the ground in front of her. “Front and center.”

Vicky waited until the A Levels were directly in front of her before she spoke to them in a normal tone. “I hope you understand that everything I said about following orders goes double for you.”

Kerry nodded slowly. “Yes, Professor.”

Emma was also nodding. “You don’t have to worry about us.”

“I hope not.” Vicky relaxed so she didn’t appear too intimidating. “I know you guys can fly, and I know you can do what’s expected of you. What I want to make sure of is that you don’t decide to take it upon yourself to do something that I don’t want you to do.”

“That won’t happen . . .” Kerry cleared his throat. “Nightwitch.”

Vicky chuckled. “That’s what I want to hear—Starbuck.” She nodded towards the line preparing for takeoff. “Okay, you two. Get on the line and get ready for take off.”

Emma’s eyes lit up. “Roger, Nightwitch.”

Vicky smiled. “Make me proud.”

Kerry smiled. “We will.” He turned and walked off with Emma for the back of the flight line.

 

Sure, the last time they were off together they ended up in the hospital.  No chance that’ll happen today–right?  Right?

When they are ready for takeoff, one finds there is always time for a little banter, and the discovery that one of your favorite lesbian witches is also a bit of a geek:

 

Finally they were the last remaining. They stood next to Professor Sladen, whose gaze shifted from her tablet to the students and back. “You excited, Emma?”

Emma almost bounced on her tip-toes. “Yes, Ma’am.”

“And what about you, Kerry?”

“You know it—” A lop sided grin formed. “Savage.”

Erywin snorted. “I knew you’d recognize my call sign.”

He pointed at her jacket patch. “And your little tin doggie, too.”

“Smart arse.” She tapped her display twice. “By the way, your team call sign is Myfanwy.” She raised her right eyebrow. “You know that one as well?”

Kerry looked off into the distance, his half-grin now a full one. “I promise not to fly off to The Hub.”

Emma was completely lost. “I have no idea what you guys are talking about.”

“English geekness, my dear.” She check her display. “Hover and mount; HUDs up.”

 

For the information of people who don’t know better, in that short passage was seen the reference of two well-known Companions from Doctor Who, and a certain pteranodon from Torchwood.  It helped that Kerry recognized Professor Sladen’s jacket patch, because geek.

And with that–

 

Erywin snapped her right arm forward. “Launch.”

They were off the line and rising quickly. Kerry saw the dim outline of a flight route in his HUD. “I have the course.”

“I see it.” Emma quickly glanced over to her wingmate as they banked left. “I’ll watch speed, you watch altitude.”

“Got it.” They climbed quickly and silently into the sky, the air cold against the exposed skin of their faces. Kerry kept the flight line between them, and noticed as soon as they were next seventy meters the color changed subtly from a light white to a pale yellow. “Okay, we’re here.”

“Roger.” Emma quickly scanned her HUD. “We’re right on target for speed. Call it in.”

“Roger.” He lower his gaze towards the ground as he contacted flight control. “Carrier, this is Myfanwy. We’re on the Low Road: altitude seventy meters; speed forty kph. Over.”

The response was almost immediate. “Roger, Myfanwy. We see you on the Low Road. Maintain current altitude and speed. Over and out.”

Emma turned and smiled at Kerry. “Here we are.”

“Yep.” He shot her a quick smile, then turned back to watching the land close to the outer wall slowly slip behind them. “Here we are.”

 

And there you are:  the chapter is complete.  Preparations are over; now we wait.

 

Cheer up, Kerry.  You don't have much to do now except go rest in a few hours.

Which are the actual chapter names.  Cheer up, Kerry. You don’t have much to do now except go rest in a few hours.