Talks Among the Ins and Outs

The new day is here, and there is a feeling of getting things done today.  Don’t know why–maybe I just woke up in a good mood.  It’s always a plus to have that happen.

But there was also writing last night.  Lots of writing.  You want proof?  Here:

See?  I wouldn't lie.  Much.

See? I wouldn’t lie. Much.

Almost twelve hundred words to finish up the last scene in Chapter Twenty-One.  Not only that, but the novel is over ninety thousand words, and I’m creeping up on another milestone here, which I’ll discuss in a moment.

But first, the writing . . .

There’s a five-way conversation going on in this scene.  Isis and Wednesday in the Security Center, Ramona Chai and Fitzsimon Spratt, the Practical Super Science instructor, on the ground at the scene of the break-in, speaking through a couple of magical floating cameras/monitors, and the Headmistress in her lair in Sanctuary.  Question of the hour is:  how did they break in?  Answer . . .

 

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

The Headmistress glared at all through the video display. “You have an explanation for what happened, Isis?”

“I do.” She’d seen this demeanor many times before: she called it the “Mean Headmistress Look” and it only appeared when the Mathilde didn’t want to leave any doubt as to who was in control of the conversation.

“And?”

“The computer analysis shows the Deconstructors threw a number of people as a small spot on the screen, one right after another, in an attempt to hammer through a breach.”

“When you mean ‘one right after another’—”

“I mean they teleported people into the same spot on the screen in a matter of about ten second. As soon as one person hit the screen, another was right behind them, doing the same.” She turned and indicated Wednesday. “Wends has looked at the data as well, and agrees with that analysis.”

On the Monitor Two Fitzsimon—who was sending and receiving images from a Spy-Eye, one of several that the Rapid Response kept on hand for this sort of thing—raised his hand. “If I may something, Headmistress.”

Mathilde softened her glare a little. “Go ahead, Fitz.”

“Ramona and I have had a chance to examine both bodies.” The Self Defense and Weapons Instructor nodded from Monitor Three, watching and recording about six meters from Fitzsimon. “It looks like the body I’m standing over—the one that wasn’t retrieved by our stone friends—”

Isis spoke up. “That would be Gahooley.”

This gave the opportunity for the Headmistress to sigh loud enough for all to hear. “Is it actually necessary to give all the gargoyles names?”

“I find it necessary.”

 

Leave it to Isis to name “her” gargoyles.  And should we ask how it is she’s come into command of gargoyles in the walls, because if she’s giving one a name, there are probably more out there.  In a way it’s kind of scary.

But they get back to the matte at hand:

 

“Thank you.” He glanced at the body lying on the ground but didn’t kneel, knowing the Spy-Eye would follow if he did. “Of the two who made it through, this one appears in the worst shape: burnt by the energies in the screen, and missing part of his right arm.”

“He’s the one that was DOA coming through.” Isis wanted the Headmistress to know that even with a breach, the effort wasn’t a complete success.

“Yes. But . . .” Fitzsimon’s turned back to the camera. “He was wearing a device, and it’s obvious it was imbued with an enchantment.”

This was of interest to both the Headmistress and Wednesday, though the Mathilde was the first to speak. “What sort of enchantment?”

“It’s difficult to say right now; there’s only the lingering presence of an enchantment.” Fitzsimon shrugged. “Isis, Wednesday: did you see anything in your data that indicated a drain spell was used?”

Wednesday was slow to respond, as if she was going over what she’d viewed from the computers trying to see if she missed a key bit of evidence. “I didn’t see anything that stood out as a drain spell, but . . .” She turned to Isis and shrugged. “If they were throwing themselves against the screen trying to hammer it down, the energy flares could have covered it up. Particularly if it wasn’t a large spell.”

“It wouldn’t have to be large. If it was formed correctly, it’d end up being like a shape charge.”

“Yeah.” Isis shrugged. “But you couldn’t use a lot of them; too much of a chance you’d waste them before you hit the screen.”

Fitzsimon nodded. “Absolutely correct.”

 

There you see magic being used for practical effects–magical shape charges, if you will.  And now coming the whys and wherefores of how they got in, plus a little digging from the Headmistress.

 

The Headmistress wanted to get back to the point which originally brought this conversation together. “What I see here is the outer screens were breached and intruders entered the grounds. Isis, you said this wasn’t possible.”

“Headmistress, I said the screens as they are now would make nearly impossible to get into the grounds—” She wasn’t about the let Mathilde put words in her mouth and then hold her to something that was never said. “There is no such thing as a perfect defense, and I’ve said this more than once, if you’ll recall.”

“What does this mean, then?” Mathilde didn’t want more bad news.

“It means the Deconstructors have noticed a weakness and tested it to see if it was viable.” She pointed at a spot on the hologram of the school grounds behind her. “The entered near The Narrows, so my guess is someone was over in the observation tower in Halibut Point trying to see how it all played out.”

 

Is there really an observation tower over at Halibut Point State Park, at the northern most point of Cape Ann?  Do you really have to ask?

 

“Which means they know they can get in—”

“Maybe.” Isis shook her head. “They’ll also know it’s not worth their time.”

“Explain.”

Isis was glad she’d taken the time to memorize the data before having this conversation. “The data indicates thirty-three people hit the screen in the same place trying to hammer it down. Two made it through, and one of those was dead on arrival.” She looked up at Monitor Three. “Ramona, the guy who made it through alive—how was he when you got there?”

“Once your—” She was loath to the name given to the gargoyle by Isis. “—’pet’ returned the individual, he remained alive about fifteen seconds. And he wasn’t in much better shape than the individual Fritz is standing over.”

Mathilde didn’t bother hiding her surprise. “He died?”

“Yes.”

“What if you’d arrived before the gargoyle had gotten to him? Would you consider him a threat?”

Ramona looked off to the side for about five seconds before staring back into the Spy-Eye. “No, Headmistress. Given the extend of his injuries, any one of the Rapid Response team could have handled him without requiring magic. He wasn’t in any shape to put up a fight.” She glanced in the direction of the wall. “I believe he would have died, gargoyle or not.”

 

Gargoyle or not, you’re gonna die.  It’s all a matter when you’re trying to bust into the school of if you want to die sooner, or later.

What is the response to this?  Isis isn’t too worried, and Wednesday, the Second Witch in the Security Center, has got her ideas down:

 

“And we could act against them instantly.” Isis felt she’d covered all her points and was ready to move on to the end of this conference. “The one good thing to come out of this is Wends thinks she can modify the existing enchantment to make the screens harder to breach.”

With this news Mathilde no longer felt the need to seem the stern administrator. “What will you do?”

“I can make a slight adjustment to the enchantment so that if it detects as massive pin-point assault against a single area, more energy will get rushed to that spot.”

“How long will this take?”

“I’ll need about ninety minutes to work up the spell and test it. After that I just need to go down to the master node and rework the enchantment—that’ll take five minutes, no more.” Wednesday smile was friendly and relaxed. “Easy peasy.”

 

Just as long as you didn’t say “okely dokely”.  That might have been too much.

The high point too all this is I’m heading into Chapter Twenty-Two, where things get bad.  That’s where this second graphic comes into play:

Just look at the numbers, Lizzy.  Look at the number . . .

Just look at the numbers, Lizzy. Look at the number.

I’ve come within striking distance of 241,450 thousand word.  The longest thing I’ve ever written, Transporting, topped out at around 245,000 words.  That means sometime during Chapter Twenty-Two I’m not only going to pass that novel, but I’ll hit a quarter of a million words.

More importantly, the end of this Act is in sight.

Then . . . we’ll see.