Consulting to Misery

I wasn’t certain when it was going to happen, but last night was as good a time as any.  What are we talking about?  This:

Out with another old, in with another new.

Out with another old, in with another new.

I’m out of the twenties and into the thirties now–Chapter Thirty, to be precise.  Part Nine, Chapter Twenty-Nine, ended up five thousand words on the nose, which seemed kinda cool because stuff like that doesn’t happen often.  It’s also, honestly, one of the shortest chapters I’ve written–but then it’s the only chapter in the part, and it pretty much kills a month of school and then some.  Even more strangely enough, Part Ten is titled March Madness, but Chapter Thirty takes place in February.  I wonder if I should move that?  Naw.

Now, finishing up the last chapter, we have a pretty good idea of what happened.  Helena is called into the Headmistress’ Office, because the dreaded report request has been submitted.  No one knows what sort of crap Helena was up to, or what deals she was cutting–least of all the headmistress–but she’s playing it cool, not letting on that she’s already had this discussion, and she tells Mathilde pretty much what she’d already worked out with Gabriel–

 

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

“You’ve heard, I take it?”

Helena was in the act of sitting when Mathilde asked her question. “I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t.” Once settled she crossed her legs. “That is why you called me here, isn’t it?”

“Yes.” Mathilde sat back in her high back chair. “Do you believe these reports are going to be used to set up a field operation?”

She did nothing to indicate she already knew the answer to this question. “That’s my guess. But I’ve seen the request, too—remember? There’s no mention of anything like that, and there won’t ever be any mention of a field op up until the moment the Guardians send you a notice that they’re being pulled in for one.” Helena finally buttoned her coat. “That’s the way they operate: they never tell you why they want these reports: they just want them.”

Mathilde nodded slowly, her eyes half closed. “I’m thinking of rejecting the request.”

“You do, and the Guardians will immediately file a request with the Educational Council for arbitration.”

“Which is their right.”

“And they’ll ask for the hearing to be expedited, because I have a feeling they’re on a time table.”

The headmistress sighed. “I expected as much.” She looked across her desk at her head sorceress. “Do you think we have a chance of winning?”

Helena shook her head. “No. Not a chance in hell.”

“Merde.” She slowly drummed the fingers of her left hand upon her desk. “We could always file an appeal.”

“Of which you get one that will be heard within forty-eight hours, and will only look at the information supplied to the original adjudicator.” Helena covered her nostrils with her finder and sniffed hard to clear her nose. “You’ll lose that one, too, and that’s it for you. You’ll have no choice to produce the reports.”

 

It’s really a no-brainer:  Helena knows the truth, and Mathilde does, too–she just doesn’t want to admit it.  But being a member of the Guardian Gang for a while, Helena’s also figured out something else . . .

 

Helena had found time to reflect on her conversation with Gabriel, and had given considerable thought to a possible field operation for the two students. “I don’t think they’ll do that. As much crap as the Guardians deal with, they also handle a lot of little sneak and peek missions, and I’d think there’s a better chance Annie and Kerry would do something like that instead of going out and battling the big bads.”

“But you don’t know for certain.”

“I don’t, but . . .” She got up from the chair and began to do the same thing Gabriel did the other night: pace slowly about the Headmistress’ office. Not only did it help Helena think, but it forced Mathilde to watch and listen. “While we might see the Guardians as the bad guys here, the last thing they want is to have the rest of The Foundation discovered they took a couple of A Levels with six months of schooling, dropped them in a dragon’s den, and told them to fly or die.” She chuckled. “They hate negative publicity as much as any other division, and a stunt like that would permanently end the careers of dozens of people in San Francisco, Amsterdam, and Paris. No, whatever SOP has planed, I’m pretty damn sure it’s going to be something that is . . .” Helena waved her right hand about, looking for the correct words. “Age appropriate.”

Then again, what’s age appropriate in a world of behind-the-scenes magic?  They go after a little dragon?  Not that there are any dragons–none that aren’t pets of Isis, that is.  Which makes me realize:  I should work up a bestiary for her.  I’m sure she’s got some interesting creatures waiting at her disposal.  I mean, we already know the octocreature from The Mist is hanging out in her wall . . .

After Helena and Mathilde work though some of the options they have–most of which include Helena trying to work her way into the possible operation and seeing to it that the kids are all right, the Mistress of All Darkness lays the final card they have on the table.

 

“And there’s something else to consider here—the Right of Refusal. Since they’re both under sixteen The Foundation can’t legally force an emergency emancipation upon them, so they have full Right of Refusal for any field op SOP puts together.” Helena nonchalantly flipped her right hand out, as if she was tossing something away. “By law I have to tell them about the RoR, and if I think the operation is a loser, I’ll find a way to let them know.”

While she didn’t know everything about how the Guardians operated, she did know how the Right of Refusal worked. “You’re not allow to influence them with that decision, are you?”

“Legally, no, but I’ve learned over the years how to get those points across without actually coming out and saying them.” Helena sat forward once again. “Kerry won’t get it; this is all gonna be new to him. But Annie’s sharp enough to pick up on the innuendo, and he’ll be looking to her for guidance, so if she says no, he’ll say no.” She swiped her hands together quickly. “End of story.”

 

Now you know who follows whom.  And it is true:  Kerry always has followed Annie’s lead, being that he sees her as an experienced witch, and he’s not.  So there’s the truth:  if Annie says no, Kerry says the same.  Which means if Annie wants to slay dragons, Kerry’s gonna strap on some armor.

Now we put that behind us and jump ahead a week and a half, and let’s go racing!  I’m finally in the Diamond–hence the name of the chapter–and the kids are finally gonna do some oval flying.

 

“All right, everyone.” Vicky’s voice boomed out as flew over the heads of her students as they slowly made their way around the oval track fifteen meters below. “Today the track is configured for five hundred meter sprinting. There aren’t any elevations changes today, other than the course having a twelve meter ceiling to keep you from avoiding all the . . .” She was the only one who knew she was grinning. “Fun.”

For the last two classes Vicky had started instructing the students on the finer points of oval course racing at the Diamond. She wasn’t teaching them just how to fly around in circles: she taught them about watching the people around them; about how better using the views that showed them who was behind, above, and below them; how to fly while wearing their normal racing equipment consisting of gloves, gauntlets, pads, and helmet; and most importantly, how to make it around the track without spearing someone and sending them to the hospital—or worse, the morgue.

 

Five hundred meters is just a little over a quarter of a mile, and if that doesn’t sound like much, may I introduce you to Bristol Motor Speedway?

Sure, it's a shot from a game, but you get the idea.

Sure, it’s a shot from a game, but you get the idea.

Track is a quarter mile long and is known as the Fastest Quarter Mile in the world because it’s easy to get up to speeds of 135 mph (220 kph) going into the turns, an being able to carry that through to the other straight.  Lap times of fifteen to seventeen seconds are not out of the question, and after five hundred laps of that you feel like spent a few hours in a dryer.  The track is known to be “self cleaning” because the straights are banked at ten degrees and the corners have progressive banking between twenty-six and thirty degrees, so if anything is dumped onto the track–say, like a fender or a bumper or most of a busted car–it slides down to the infield.

This is my model for The Diamond, and while my students and racers will fly above it, if they crash and burn, we know they’ll slide to the infield.  Because self cleaning.

(And as a bit of trivia, I have really driven on this track.  Just on the straights, mind you, but I have had my car on the actual surface.  I think I managed a blistering thirty mph, too.  I’ve done it much faster on my computer, though–trust me.)

This is where we pick up with Vicky watching over her students and getting ready to drop the green on them . . .

 

“All right, everyone.” Vicky’s voice boomed out as flew over the heads of her students as they slowly made their way around the oval track fifteen meters below. “Today the track is configured for five hundred meter sprinting. There aren’t any elevations changes today, other than the course having a twelve meter ceiling to keep you from avoiding all the . . .” She was the only one who knew she was grinning. “Fun.”

For the last two classes Vicky had started instructing the students on the finer points of oval course racing at the Diamond. She wasn’t teaching them just how to fly around in circles: she taught them about watching the people around them; about how better using the views that showed them who was behind, above, and below them; how to fly while wearing their normal racing equipment consisting of gloves, gauntlets, pads, and helmet; and most importantly, how to make it around the track without spearing someone and sending them to the hospital—or worse, the morgue.

 

Yeah, kids:  always nice to know you’re doing stuff that could get you killed.  Ask Emma and Kerry how that feels–they have some experience there.  But really–it can happen.  At least they’re dressed for mayhem.

This is where we pick up on Vicky’s thoughts about her best fliers and possible racers . . .

 

It didn’t surprise Vicky in the least that Emma and Kerry were her two best fliers in this group, and among her top five fliers. In the two weeks when the class was finally allowed to perform time trials on the Green Line, Emma and Kerry possessed the consistently best and fastest times. Vicky already had their styles pegged: Emma was aggressive and took chances, flying with wild abandon, while Kerry knew a course so well he could run it in his sleep, and could read the conditions at any point on the course and plot his line in a microsecond.

Both styles had their pros and cons, though Vicky already had Kerry pegged as the more unpredictable of the two. With Emma you knew what you were going to get: flat-out, to the wall racing. With Kerry you’d expect him to be a technical expert, but he’d always keep something in reserve and, when it was least expected, he’d pull that out and surprise everyone.

There were three others who surprised Vicky with their expertise. Annie was a great flier, but she showed little interest in racing. That didn’t mean she couldn’t go fast: after one weekend when she’d gone out for a few hours with Kerry, Vicky later checked her flight recorder and found they’d both taken West End at around three hundred and eighty kilometers an hour before zipping through Sunset Boulevard at just over two hundred fifty. And they did that not once, but three times.

Annie could race if she wanted, but she had little interest. Vicky could guess why . . .

The others students who surprised her were Lisa and Anna. Lisa was a lot like Emma in her recklessness, but she was far more willing to take chances that didn’t always pay off. She’d already broken both legs in three crashes along the Green Line, and suffered a concussion two weeks before Yule that kept her in the hospital for two nights. Though it hadn’t happened yet, Vicky knew it was only a matter of times before her recklessness collected more than just herself—

Anna was a skilled technical racer, and possessed a lot of Kerry’s racing qualities—save for the fact that she was in no way surprising. Anna was fast and skilled, but one could read her moves seconds before they happened, and as with most technical racers she’d likely rely on the other pilots to make mistakes while she flew constant, perfect lines.

 

Now we know that besides Emma and Kerry, Annie is a great flier but has no interest in racing, Anna is a great technical racer–has nothing to do with the fact she’s German–and Lisa’s just a crazy bitch on a broom who will probably Pull a Gordon one day and collect half the field–or be like Jimmy Horton and go flying right over the wall and into the parking lot . . .

What’s going to happen next?  You can read my scene laying–you tell me?

I’m so mean . . .

 

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/10:  2,181

NaNo Total Word Count:  20,468