Fortress Time, Part Deux

Did I not say I was going to bring you Part Two of this?  Did I not?  Are you not entertained?

Yes, it was writing night last night, and I was in the grove.  Didn’t do word checks, didn’t let too many distractions get at me.  Just stuck to what I knew I had to do and wrote.  I wrote so well that I stopped just short of fifteen hundred words, which is a good night any night of the week.  Since it’s Wednesday night tonight, I hope to do as well while I’m out.

And speaking of Wednesday, she pops up in this excerpt along with Isis.  The two of them, once more working together to help protect the school.  They did it once before, in 2000, back during a little slice of hell known as The Scouring, but they were students then–and those actions are one of the reasons they’re at the school today.  That, and the fact they’re among the best in the world at what they do.  That goes without saying.

Let’s pick up where I left off, with Isis trying to get the detection and communications grids back on line:

 

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

On the three dimensional map of the grounds the thirteen nodes that powered the detection grid appeared. Five of the nods—all of them in the north and northwest sections of the outer wall—were green; the other eight in the central and southern area were yellow. Isis half turned towards Suhaila. “Show me the grid.”

The northern section of the school—mostly from the Observatory Tower and points nothing—appeared green. Everywhere else, save the interior of the Pentagram Walls, was red. Wednesday—who’d been silent up to this point—stood next to Isis. “Are the nodes damaged?”

“Let’s find out.” She pointed at the display. “Ping Sunset.”

Suhaila typed something in on her keyboard and touched her screen. Isis and Wednesday saw the node embedded in Sunset Tower flash green for a moment before returning to yellow. She turned to her chief. “It’s responding.”

“Yeah, I see that.” Isis spoke to Wednesday while continuing to stare at the display. “You think it’s drained?”

“Has to be.” She turned to Isis, who slowly turned to face the little witch. “Those were drain spells that detonated, so it stands that they were sucked dry.”

“Doesn’t explain the comm nodes, though.”

“Yeah, it does. The drain must have been so massive that the interlink between the two nodes never had a chance to shut down to save the comm nodes, and they were drained as well.” She glanced at the display and shrugged. “We have to fix that.”

“Yeah, I’ll put it on our ‘to-do’ list.” Isis pushed the school display away before facing Tamera and Suhaila. “Okay, start charging them up. We gotta get them back on line as quickly as possible.”

 

Magical nodes full of energy–only they aren’t not.  Damn those drain detonations.  Charging them up requires pushing mystical energy from the Master Node under the Great Hall into the separate nodes.  Only Wednesday notes that it’s going to take four hours to charge them up, and . . .

 

“We don’t have four hour; we’ve gotta start clearing the grounds now.” She pointed at the display. “Besides, you only need six of those eight operating at eighty person to bring that grid up—” Wednesday was well aware of these figures because of the time she’d spent helping redesign the system. “These three then . . .” She indicated three nodes along the west outer wall. “And these.” She indicated three on the south and east outer walls.

Isis already had the numbers figured for those as well. “That’s still going to take three hours.”

“Yeah, if you do them all at one.” Wednesday stepped around Isis and stood behind Suhaila. “You can start quick charging one node at a time—”

“Which still takes twenty to twenty-five minutes per node.” Isis didn’t want to dash Wednesday’s hopes, but there really wasn’t much of a way they could have an operational detection grid in under two and a half hours. “No matter what it’s gonna take time.”

“Not if you have help.” Wednesday faced Isis, her face set in stone. “If I go out there and help pump energy into the nodes while you’re charging them—”

“No.”

“—we could cut the time—”

No.”

“—to ten or twelve minutes.”

NO.”

If there was one word Wednesday detested, it was “no”. She didn’t accept it from her students, and she didn’t accept it from her colleagues. Which meant she damn well  wouldn’t accept it from her closest friend . . . She cocked a finger in Isis’ direction. “You and I need to talk.”

 

Wednesday may be small–at five foot she is sometimes mistaken for a student–and Isis . . . well, she stands about five foot ten in her bare feet, and most of the time when she’s working she’s in heels, so she’s taller than her friend.  And in this case, she’s mad enough to go potty mouth to get her point across . . .

 

The little witch wasn’t about to let Isis take control of the conversation, and instantly let her know her feelings. “Are you out of your fucking mind?”

Isis was taken back by her friend’s outburst. She’d seen Wednesday angry before, but she’d never seen it directed at her. “Hey, I’m doing my job.”

“If you were then you’d know I’m right.” She crossed her arms. “I helped you with the design of this system: you can’t bullshit me about what can and can’t be done.” Wednesday jabbed a finger at Isis as raised her voice. “And you know I’m right about this. You know if I’m out there helping you power up those nodes—”

It was Isis turn to get loud as well. “There are Deconstructors and Abominations out there—”

Wednesday wasn’t listening. “If I’m helping you power up those nodes, we can have the detection grid up in sixty to seventy-five minutes.”

“We can’t track anything beyond The Pentagram.”

I know: that’s why you need my help.”

 

And there’s a word we’re hearing for the first time:  Abominations.  As you can imagine, they’re a nasty piece of work.  And since one of my scenes is titled Abomination . . . yeah, you can put it together, can’t you?

Now that Wednesday is beating up her friend, it’s time for her to stick in the knife and twist . . .

 

“Tell me: what is your duty to this school?”

Isis stopped cold and had to think about what her friend was asking. The simple one was too easy to say—“I’m the Chief of Security”—and that wasn’t the answer Wednesday wanted anyway. No, I know what she wants to hear . . . She answered in a low voice. “To protect the students, the staff, and the grounds.”

“And were don’t know what’s going on out on the grounds, so you need to protect the students and the staff.” Wednesday nodded slowly. “To do that you need that grid up and running—yeah?”

Isis stared at her toes. “Yeah.”

“Honey, look at me.” Wednesday waited until they were looking at each other eye-to-eye. “I’m working with you in Security, and right now that makes me as expendable as any of the people out on the outer grounds waiting for detection and communications.” She laid a hand against Isis’. “You know I’m right.”

As much as Isis didn’t want to say the words, she knew Wednesday wouldn’t let her get away without an acknowledgment. “I know.”

Wednesday didn’t waste time with anymore words. “Okay, then. I need a helmet, goggles, a broom, a tablet, and a messenger bag for the table.” She headed for the supply rack. “Come on, my Goddess: get you ass in gear.”

 

When you need to make your point, you have to tell people, even your best friends, that you can’t treat them special.  When you know you have to do something, even if it’s dangerous, you gotta do it.  Even if it means you might die in the process.  And Wends is playing the “Needs of the Many” card to get her point across.

Which leads to this . . .

 

The two women stared at each other in uncomfortable silence for almost five seconds. Wednesday was ready to go, but Isis appeared to need to say more. “Wends, be careful.”

Another few seconds passed with neither woman saying anything—then Wednesday stood on tip-toes and kissed Isis on the cheek. “I’m coming back—” She hesitated before choking out the last part of her statement. “I’m not Cleo.”

Isis’ breath caught in her chest for a moment as the name of their dear friend, one who Wednesday had seen die the night of the Scouring, was uttered. Isis held back the tears she knew were lurking behind her eyes. “You better come back, or . . .” She sniffed hard once. “I’ll have Adric teach me Necromancy just so I can call your ass back and tell you off.”

“Sounds like something you’d do.” Wednesday headed out of the Bunker but didn’t open the door to the Upper Transept. “You need to be in the Security Center before I can leave.” She winked. “Protocols—remember?”

“I should: I wrote the damn things.” She patted her friend’s shoulder as she keyed open the Security Center entrance. “Let the Owls guild your way.”

“They always do.” She nodded at the door. “Get inside and do your job.”

Isis nodded, then hurried through and sealed the Center door behind her. Wednesday quickly exited the Security Area and didn’t waste time in the Upper Transept. She tossed the broom into the air and let it settle into a hover as she slipped the messenger bag with the tablet around her body. She slid up into the broom saddle as she adjusted her goggles, then zipped her jacket up the rest of the way and rocketed out into the Rotunda—

 

The next scene, Out, is a Wednesday scene, and you can probably guess where it’s leading.

Probably to topping one hundred thousand words for this Act.  But I could be wrong.

Probably to topping one hundred thousand words for this Act. But I could be wrong.