If it seems like the writing has been light of late, you’re right: it has. I didn’t write at all Friday, my output Thursday was light, and yesterday I finished up the shortest scenes in this current chapter. Personal and mental issues have been a bitch this week, but today . . . yeah. I’m feeling much better. I have one scene remaining to round out Chapter Twenty-one, and that’ll lead up to Chapter Twenty-two, Attack, which is where everything goes to hell.
But right now, it’s a good morning.
So where are we? Well, Annie cursed some smart mouth girl who decided to keep taking about That Girl–no, these kids have no idea who Marlo Thomas is–and then lay down, knowing she couldn’t get the images out of her head. As for Kerry–hey, it’s out flying. Still. Let’s check in, shall we?
(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
Kerry was getting cold once more. Emma and he were coming up on ninety minutes in the air since leaving the Observatory after their rest, and since then the sky had become overcast and the wind had picked up to the strongest it’d been all day. Though it was near the mid-fifties in temperature, the lack of sun and the wind turned the air cooler than it really was.
He put it out of his mind and kept his eyes peeled on the ground.
Emma and he were on the Low Road, taking the left turn at Sunrise Tower that would take around toward the Narrows. Even though they were still above the outer wall, being this close to the tree tops seemed to cut down on some of the wind coming out of the west. Or it could all be physiological, like being higher made you feel cooler.
He didn’t have time to think on the matter: The second left-hand turn was coming up.
Yeah, just because you love to fly, it doesn’t mean you’re going to like flying this stuff. Kerry figured it out early: it’s a job. There are expectations, and you damn well better met them. And at this point you can’t ask to sit down, ’cause if you do you’re screwed for anything else you want to do in the future. You’re labeled a slacker from there on out, and that’s not a good thing. Not at this school.
Don’t worry, however: things are about to get interesting . . .
There was a flaring of light in the screen about five meters above the wall and some thirty meters before reaching the Narrows turn. Kerry was on it instantly. “Carrier; Nightwitch, this is Myfanwy. There’s something happening on the screen just above the wall.”
The response on the general channel didn’t come from Carrier or Nightwitch, however. “All flights, this is Fortress. Hold your positions; repeat, hold your current position.”
Kerry brought his PAV to a stop in mid-air; Emma pulled up alongside. He continued watching the flaring on the screen for a few seconds before seeing the flaring grow brighter and then appear to push through to the inside. “Fortress, this a Starbuck. Something just came through the screen.”
Emma reported in as well. “Confirmed, Fortress.” She scanned the forest before. “Fortress, I see someone on the ground.”
“I see someone as well.” Kerry noticed someone close to the wall, lying still, and noticed another person, maybe five meters from the first. “We have two inside.”
If Isis was worried by the report she didn’t allow those emotions to appear in her voice. “Myfanwy, this is Fortress. We see them: please stand by.”
There you have it: break in, just as the scene says. So you got a couple of eyes in the sky watching at least one guy walking around inside the school grounds, but Fortress is on the case. And that leads to this . . .
Something massive stepped out of the wall behind the Deconstructor and leapt at him. The man half-turned before he was knocked to the ground and nearly trampled by the huge, four-legged wingged creature, which to Kerry looked exactly like a—
Emma held onto her PAV tightly. “Kerry, di-did you s-see that?”
“Yeah, I saw it.” He looked over to his wingmate. “That was a—”
Yeah, Emma, what was that? Unfortunately, there are ears everywhere.
“Myfanwy, this is Fortress.” Like before Isis’ voice was clear and calm. “I’m switching to the private channel; standby one.”
Kerry looked straight ahead waiting to see what Fortress wanted, feeling the bottom of his stomach dropped down below his broom saddle. He figured what Emma and he was about to have relayed to them might not be good . . .
“Selene, Starbuck, this is Fortress.” Kerry shot another look at Emma, who was staring back with a look of semi-fear on her face. “There are some things around the school grounds I’d rather not become public knowledge.” Kerry was now watching the presumably stone creature return to the wall with the body of the Deconstructor in its mouth. “What you witnessed was one of them.” The creature walked into the wall, merging with it seamlessly, taking the Deconstructor inside. “I would appreciate you both keeping quiet on this matter. Do you copy? Over.”
Kerry understood his options: he could say yes and it was pretty good odds that he’d remain in the air, or he could say no and . . . the likelihood that he’d be ordered to head to Laputa or Carrier and then, from there—who knew? He stared off into the distance. “Fortress, this is Starbuck. I copy. No talking on this end. Over.”
“This is Selene, Fortress.” Kerry didn’t look at Emma, but he picked up on the slight quiver in her voice. “I copy as well. All is good. Over.”
“Roger that. Switching off from private.” A few seconds later Isis was back on the general channel. “All flights, this is Fortress. You may resume patrols. Over and out.”
“Yeah, kids, we got monsters in the wall, and we’d like it if you keep your mouths shut.” And given this is a school full of witches, if you don’t keep your mouth shut, they can probably do more than sit you down. And who wants to take that chance?
Kerry’s cool and wants to get back to what they’re doing, maybe put in another hour of flying because heading to Laputa for another forty-five minutes of R&R. However, he is flying with That Girl, and while she said one thing, he mind’s somewhere else . . .
As they pushed their brooms forward towards The Narrows, Emma reached up, touched her helmet and turned off the comm. “Kerry—”
They slowly rounded The Narrows before Kerry switched off his own comm. “What?”
“That was a gargoyle.”
He nodded slowly. “Yep.”
“Doesn’t it bother—”
He shot concerned look her way. “We’re not suppose to talk about it.”
“We’re not on comms.”
Kerry waited a couple of beats before answering. “You sure?”
Emma didn’t bother answering. She turned her attention back to the route unfolding before them and reactivated her comm—
Gargoyles. I love them. I used them in Her Demonic Majesty, and the wee beasties are hanging out in the school walls here, too. And while Kerry might be a tad clueless at times, he’s smart enough to know that just because the comms are off, that doesn’t mean that someone–like, say, Isis, the Goddess of School Security–might still be listening in on a conversation. So be content that you got to see a gargoyle, Emma, and keep your mouth shut.
The last scene, which I hope to start sometime today, involves the instructors, Isis, and the Headmistress, discussing how someone could get past their defenses and gain entry to the school grounds. Not everything is as it seems; there are things at play, and they’ll make sense once I have it written out.
At least that’s my hope.
Just like gargoyles, there are things you haven’t seen yet.