On Both Sides Now

Sunday saw me doing a lot around the house, including writing out a letter by hand?  What is this wizardry, you ask?  Don’t ask.  Just know that I did.

At least there wasn’t any depressed.  I seem to have worked my way out of that–for now.  It may come back soon, it may not.  For now things are good, so I’m not going to dwell on that:  I got a novel to write.  And probably some hate to generate.

Hate, you say?  Yeah.  Because the scene I completed last night sees a little dealing going on behind the curtain–or in the tunnels, if you’d like.  See, after Mister Gabriel got is ass handed to him and was shown the door, he’s taking his time leaving, strolling along inside the Pentagram Walls.  He’s not a happy man, but he knows this was just his opening salvo.  And then this happens . . .

 

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

He made his way around Ceridwen Tower and headed straight for the door leading out to Founder’s Gate. He picked up the pace, seeing as how he’d be out of the wall and out under the arch, and from there it was a fast jaunt to the Main Gate before heading back to headquarters—

“Gabriel.”

He turned around and faced the stairway that led to the lower lever below the wall. Helena was standing a few step below the level of the floor. She walked up three steps and regarded him silently.

“I see . . .” He held his hands to his said, anticipating trouble. “Mathilde send you to waylay me?”

A soft chuckle emerged from the stairwell. “If I was going to waylay you, your ass would have been waylaid.” She cocked a finger at the Guardian representative. “We need to talk. Come.”

He followed her down into the passage that made up the lower level of the Pentagram Wall. “Aren’t you worried we’ll be interrupted?”

“By students? No. They normally don’t come this way, so we’re good for a while.” Helena sighed. “Let us talk about what’s coming . . . you’re going to have the request sent in tomorrow, yeah?”

“Either tomorrow or the day after.” Gabriel shrugged. “We’ll likely do a postmortem tomorrow morning—”

“But the request is going out.”

“Yes.”

“And we know where this is going.” Helena looked around the tunnel. “Mathilde will ask for my advice, and it’s likely she’ll reject the request.”

“We’ve already anticipated that.” Gabriel didn’t take his eyes off Helena; he didn’t like being alone with here, and certainly didn’t trust her. “We’ll then go to the Educational Council and request arbitration on the request.”

“You’ll ask for it to be expedited?”

“Of course.”

“And I’m going to make a prediction—” She focused on Gabriel. “The adjudicator will find in the Guardians’ favor. Why not? You’re only asking for reports.”

“That’s how we see this playing out.” Gabriel relaxed slightly; though he still watched the sorceress closely. “I don’t see how the adjudicator would find it any other way.”

 

If there’s one thing Helena loves to do, it’s find someone and pull them off to a dark, secluded area to have a chat.  I know you’re asking yourself “why?”–well, some are, I know that, the others are waiting for Thanksgiving–and that will be answered below.

Helena does know things the headmistress doesn’t; after all, she still is a Guardian even if she is an instructor.  She knows how they think and work and approach a problem.  She also knows that she’s much better at pressuring people than this loser–

 

“Which means you have something in mind.” She moved a little closer to Gabriel. “Which means you’re on a time table. Which means someone’s gotta analyze the data to determine if Annie and Kerry will fit the mission profile. Which means it’s a field op.” She was within half a meter of Gabriel. “I’ve done this a lot longer than you; I know how this game is played.” She slowly tapped her index finger against her pursed lips. “Since you’re not pointing out the flaws in my logic, I’d suggest you drop the theatrics and we discuss this matter honestly.”

He looked away for a few seconds, gathering his thought. “It’s a field operation; I haven’t seen the data yet, but I’m told that if the rumors about these two are correct, they fit the personal profile. There is a time table, which is why the reports are needed within the next month.”

“Hence the need to try and intimidate Mathilde tonight—which was, by the way, stupid.”

“I’ve figure that out.”

Helena nodded slowly. “There is one thing that San Francisco is forgetting here . . .”

Gabriel was about to say “no”, but thought better. “And that is?”

She moved to within centimeters of Gabriel. “Me.” She backed away, her hands in the pockets of her leather coat. “Besides having my field operator’s rating, I still know a lot of people in a lot of different locations: San Francisco, London, Amsterdam, and Paris.” She smirked. “Most of them still like me, too.

“I have three demands I want concerning your upcoming op, and if they aren’t met—” She removed her mobile from the coat. “I will begin calling these people I know. I will call them when they are eating, when they are trying to meet with people, and at inopportune moments when they’re suppose to be sleeping.” She twisted the phone back and forth. “I will call and keep calling, and I will do everything I can to turn your time table into a parade of shit.” She slipped the mobile back into her coat.

So we more straight from the intimidation to the blackmail.  She does know this game and how it’s played, and now she lays out her demands.

 

Having found himself out-dueled once tonight, he wasn’t about to let it happen again. “What do you want?”

Helena began speaking without hesitation. “First, I want in. I want to see the data, the planing, the whole thing. I want to see what the planning committee is seeing.”

“That’s impossible.”

Helena ignored the statement. “Two: these two are gonna need a handler in the field, and that handler will have a second. I’ll going to be their handler, and I’ll choose my own second. And I’ll run this op wherever you put it down.”

Gabriel chuckled. “You may still have your field operative rating, but you’ve never worked with children in—”

Helena cut him off with a swipe of her arm. “Who the fuck do you think has spent the last five months with those two?” She lowered her voice, hoping no one had heard them. “I know them, know how they act, know how they’ll react. You don’t: no one in San Francisco does.”

He said nothing, because her last statement made far too much sense. “And your last demand?”

“I have full veto power all the way down the line. If I don’t like the operation as laid out, I kill it. If I don’t like the updates, I kill it. If I don’t like your training plan, I don’t like the equipment, I don’t like the support you’re sending us, I kill it.” She removed her other hand from her coat pocket and once again crossed her arms. “And just like any other handler, I have final veto power in the field. The first moment I feel things going sideways, I kill everything and bring them home.”

 

Her point about working with the children is valid:  she’s instructed them, particularly Annie.  We know she’s shown Annie things in the time leading up to Yule, and in the month since everyone’s come back to school she’s probably shown Annie a few more things.  Maybe she’s shown Kerry a few things, too.  No matter what, she does know how they’ll act–something a babysitter from San Fran wouldn’t know.

The question still remains, “Why?”  And that’s what Gabriel asks:

 

“I have one question, however—” Gabriel scanned the tunnel for visitors before asking. “Why are you going out of your way to help us with something you obviously don’t like.”

Helena pulled up next to Gabriel until they were only centimeters apart. Her tone was that of a low, harsh whisper. “Annie and Kerry may be extraordinary kids, but they are kids. Annie’s twelve and Kerry eleven, and no matter how bad ass their Crafting may be, no matter how mature some people may think they act, they are still immature tween kids—

“I know SOP and how they operate, and them being minors doesn’t matter: you will find a way to get them out in the field, you will find a way to see how they operate.” She jabbed a finger into Gabriel’s chest. “When that happens, I want to make certain they don’t come back to the school in fucking body bags.”

 

A desire not to see your students come home dead is a powerful one, and one can imaging that Helena has seen her share of people die on field operations.  Like she said, she’s played this game for a while, and she’s probably had to bring back of few of her own people tagged and bagged.

Helena’s a realist:  she knows the people involved, she’s worked with them, and she knows if the Guardians are coming for a couple of A Levels who’ve been at the school for six months, they’ll come and come and keep coming until they get their way.  She knows she can fight it, but probably the best she’ll do is a delaying action–

Which means the next best thing is to try and minimize damage.  And like it or not she’s aware that the Guardians probably won’t give as much of a shit about the kid’s well being as she would, so . . . time to join the party.

What happens next?  You’ll see in the next scene.  After that, I look ahead to the next part and three chapters, and I can tell you the first two are back on the kids, with the first one a mix of Annie and Kerry, the second is mostly him, and the last . . . In Dreams is gonna be a big chapter–

I'm not showing you anything, but you can probably figure it out.

I’m not showing you anything, but you can probably figure it out.

And only four more parts after that.

The end really is near.

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/9:  1,809

NaNo Total Word Count:  18,287