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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

12 thoughts on “On Both Sides Now

  1. What ‘s in store for Annie and Kerry is even worse than I expected. I cannor believe that The Foundation doesn’t give a damn about the 2 kids’ lives.

    So far, I trust Helena. Maybe she feels Annie and Kerry are special to her, as in maternal instinct. Since there’s nothing that can be done about the situation, she’d better be in it and be their protector. I assume the headmistress doesn’t know about this ? Why do you think that is ? Why keep this deal with Mr. Gabriel a secret from the headmistress ? I wonder who her assistant will be. * just thinking aloud *

    • Helena pretty much has already stated that, given what she knows, they could probably fight the situation, but at the same time the school would lose. The next scene is her speaking with the headmistress, and it’s suppose to show how Helena plays both sides. She knows the game, and she knows how to play.

      The Foundation looks for talent. Annie and Kerry are in school because they *are* this talent–the problem is, they’re just too damn good. And this has brought them to the attention of people who want to see how they will do under the certain conditions. There are things not mentioned here that can play into the kid’s best interests, and that comes up in a later part. It was also something I didn’t show in this excerpt.

      Something else that will get mentioned is how old Helena was when she went on her first field op. Needless to say, she’s been at this game a long time . . .

      • Your response has a calming effect on me.

        lemme guess… Helena was A-Level too.

        By the way, what’s a field op anyway. Well, obviously, it will have something to do with going out on the field, off-campus, that has nothing to do with schooling. The problem here is, the two maybe the best of the best, but they’re just kids, not even out of pubescence, so I highly doubt their decision -making capabilities. ( Although I admit Kerry has proven something good during the Day of the Dead.

        Also, what was that you mentioned about an event where 3,000 people died ? That wasn’t the Scouring, wa it?

        • 1. No, Helena wasn’t an A Level.

          2. You’ll find out what a field op is.

          3. You’ll find out what Helena was doing where 3,000 people died. Hint: it was already alluded to in Act One.

          I can’t tell any more because these are all mentioned in the scenes to come.

          • I kind of remember that, but I thought it happened a long, long time ago. Did that number include normal people? Otherwise, that could have decimated the entire population of the witching world.

            Well, Helena said a lot of stuff during her class when kerry was electrified. was that the one ?

  2. I think Kerry is the better one. I mean, he ‘s “Normal”, and everything he has learned, so far, has been his first time. And yet, his abilities are already equal to Annie’s, sometimes even surpassing her in one or two. He’s a natural flyer, to boot.

    • Prior to their first class Annie had flown only a couple of times, and she crashed hard on her new 3500. However, she hopped on one in school without even being tested on it: Vicky just assumed she could fly. And she did. We even see her jetting off at 300 kph to catch up with Vicky. Annie’s a great flier, too: it’s just that she’s not taken to the broom as has Kerry.

      And where Annie is really heads above Kerry is in sorcery. We don’t know what she’s learning down the the Black Vault.

      • I know. it’s still a mystery to me why helena has allowed her to use the Black vault.

        Isn’t kerry better in Transformation?

        Maybe Annie has not taken to the broom because of her sad experience with her dad.

        • Because Helena is a mysterious woman. And she likes Annie. Or maybe there’s *another* reason? 😉

          It was stated that Kerry is better with Transformation than Annie. She’s turning into the Dark Witch, and Kerry is becoming–um, Mystique? 🙂

          And yes! You nailed Annie’s reasons for NOT FLYING.

          • Well. it was stated straightforwardly/ 🙂

            Ooooh, another reason…. nope, I don’t want to know. I’d like to think that Helena recognized Annie’s excellent Sorcery abilities that may yet surpass hers , given time, and maybe she wants to have someone to whom she can pass the baton , just in case. And yeah, she likes Annie, and kerry, too, together…. she’s tickled pink. XD

          • In a way you’re right. Later on there’s an interesting comment made concerning a similarities between them. And when Helena and Erywin found them sleeping together on the sofa during the first Saturday Midnight Madness, they thought it was “cute”; Helena’s reaction was *not* what one might have expected.

            Part of that could come from the fact that Helena’s mother and grandmother were seen as outsiders at Salem–making her a bit of an outsider, too, in part by being a child of mixed ethnicities–AND engaging in the first openly lesbian relationship at school in modern times. She knows what it’s like to be seen as wildly different, and she recognizes it in others.

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