As I was told this morning, I seemed to have left everything on a cliffhanger–and I’ve been trying to get off that cliff ever since. By that I mean I’ve written almost two thousand words since last night and early this morning, and I’ve still got a ways to go. But I’m getting there.
As you know everyone’s in the park across the street from the Crown Center–which, I found out this morning, is also the location of the world-wide headquarters for Hallmark Cards, so watch out, people, otherwise Annie and Kerry might just go and try to alter the history of greeting cards. Or maybe that’s run by The Foundation, too. One can never tell.
I should point out that the events in the park are happening at the same time Helena’s tossing Kaden’s house, so while Annie and Kerry are doing a magic show for Tanith, Helena’s figuring out how to time jaunt around so she can entered the house, look around–and find something in the closet that makes her call an end to the operation.
With that in mind . . .
All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
“Home.” Tanith stared at the ground as her voice took on a dreamy quality. “I like the sound of that. But talking to my dad . . .” She shook her head. “Oh, man, he’s gonna flip on this.”
Annie had figured that Tanith’s father would be the most difficult part of this trip, but he wasn’t her concern. “That’s where the adults come in. They’ll work with him as we worked with you.”
She looked up and frowned. “He’s never talked about any of this, so I don’t know how he’d want to talk about it with anyone now.”
Kerry shrugged. “We won’t have anything to do with that. They’ll probably send us off elsewhere while the adults talk.”
That interested the girl. “Where would we go?”
“It’s hard to say.” There had been discussion about this, but Annie didn’t want to discuss the locations mention. Depending on the time of day, it was thought they might go to Paris or London, maybe to New York or Chicago . . . Annie believed the most likely destination would be San Francisco, where the Guardians could keep an eye on them while they are out and about the city. “I’m certain it wouldn’t be Kansas—”
Erywin’s voice rang clear through the buds Annie and Kerry wore and straight into their minds. Children, supper’s ready.
Annie glanced and Kerry, who was glancing back. Tanith noticed this and didn’t like what she saw. “What’s wrong?”
“Something—” Annie watched Kerry out of the corner of her eyes. You call Erywin?
He nodded. Doing it now. Kerry looked around—the same as Annie—watching to see if anyone was looking in their direction. Mom, you there?
“Hey, Mom: what’s up?” If you haven’t figured it out, “Supper’s ready” isn’t just the title of a twenty-two minute song, it’s also the code phrase to indicate things have gone sideways and it’s time to shut this party down. So Kerry gives her directions to where they are located in the park, and Erywin comes to visit . . .
She did as she was told and found the children fading into view. “Hello, there.”
“Hi.” Kerry gave Erywin a hug, followed by Annie doing the same. “Glad to see you, Mom.”
Annie had already given her greeting; she wanted to know things. “Why did you give the abort code?”
“Because the plug’s been pulled; we’ve moving out.” She finally acknowledged Tanith. “Hello there, young lady. Hope these days have been taking good care of you.”
“They have.” Tanith smiled at Erywin. “Are you a witch, too?”
“I’m the witchiest witch, my dear.” She lifted her teleport device from one of her jacket pockets. “Are we ready?”
Are you making a call?” Tanith pointed at the device in Erywin’s hand.
“No, Tanith. This is going to teleport us all out of here; we have another location where we’re supposed to go in the instance we need to abort this operation.”
Annie took Tanith’s hand. “We’ve done this plenty of times; it won’t bother you.”
“No, not at all.” Erywin finished punching in the coordinates of their arrive point. “Let’s link hands.” She held out her left hand, which Kerry took. He held out his left for Annie, who slid in her right while holding onto the Tanith’s with her left. “Ready?” All three children nodded. “Good then . . .” She tapped the activation icon on the display.
“What the hell?” Erywin rechecked the coordinates and confirmed they were right.
Kerry was trying to see what was on the teleport display. “What is it?”
“Enchantment didn’t engage.” She did a quick aural check. “It isn’t drained . . .” She crafted a quick spell and watched the results pop up on the display. “The hell is this now?”
None of the kids were comfortable with Erywin’s exclamations, but Tanith was the only one who wasn’t aware of the severity behind them. Annie kept her voice low, even though there wasn’t any need. “What’s wrong?”
“We can’t jaunt: there are blocking spells all over the place.” Her eyes slowly scanned the park as she slipped the teleport device back into her jacket. “Son of a bitch: they’re here.”
Annie turned so she was facing away from Erywin. “And they know we’re here, too.”
Tanith was completely confused by now. “They?”
“Deconstructors.” Kerry picked up on the clues being offered and looked off in a direction not being covered by Annie or Erywin. “The bad guys.”
Gotta give my kids credit: the moment things go dark they get ready. Of course, if they’re invisible, the bad guys are likely invisible, too, but they’re facing out and ready. In all fairness, though, they did the same thing during the Day of the Dead, with both in separate areas of the school keeping their wits about them. Okay, so Kerry did get a little panicky after being chased by a monster for ten minutes, but so would you.
Given the situation, they’re pretty quick at coming up with options: this is what happens when you get trained by The Dark Mistress of All:
Annie looked over her shoulder at Kerry. “We should move.”
“I agree.” He tapped Erywin on the arm. “Can we walk out of the park.”
She carefully examined here surroundings. “We can, but I’m worried that once we’re out in the open the people here looking for us will likely sweep in on us and that’s it.”
Tanith didn’t understand the sudden concern. “I don’t get it: why are these people after you?”
“They’re not after us—” Erywin tapped Tanith on the cheek. “They want you. At least we believe you’re why they’re here.” She rubbed her lower left side. “They’d probably stun us all and make off with you.”
“What about you? What will they—?”
Annie didn’t bother with niceties as she cut off Tanith’s question. “They’ll kill us.” She ignored the girl’s gasp as she pointed in the direction of their hotel. “If we get across the street, can we jaunt then?”
“Should be able; it’s getting across the streets here that’s going to be a pain in the arse.” She pointed to the north. “We can’t climb over and drop down to the street below there, so that leaves crossing at Pershing and Grand, or . . .” She nodded towards the southwest corner. “Taking the overhead walkway to the train station, or back to the Crown Center.”
Annie had come to the park using the overhead walkway known as The Link. “Couldn’t the Deconstructors come after us there, too?”
“They could, but if we head for the Crown Center there aren’t any places for them to hide. That’s what I worry about being out on the sidewalk: they could hide and take shots at use from behind trees—”
“Could be the same if we head for the Amtrak station.” He pointed at the section of The Link running parallel to the park.
“Yes. Best bet is to get across to the Center, find a quite spot, and jaunt out. If they want to get us before we get there, they’ll have to come in there and get us” She surveyed the children. “Now that we have plan, we have to get out of here.” She tapped Annie and Kerry on the shoulders; they both half turned towards her. “We’re dropping code names right now; we don’t need anymore confusion that we might already have.”
They both nodded, with Kerry speaking in agreement. “Sounds good to me.”
Annie turned to Tanith. “I’m Annie; he’s Kerry; she’s Erywin. That’s so you’ll know.”
The girl nodded, not sure if she was catching the full gist of what was happening. “I don’t suppose I’ll get a chance to use them, but thanks anyhow.”
Leave it to Annie to put the cherry on this crappy sundae: if The Deconstructors get to us, they’ll kill us. Of course, what no one is saying is by dropping code names at this point, they’re taking a hell of a risk that Tanith isn’t going to rat them out. But if Annie was ready to bleed out a girl just because she almost got her boyfriend killed, so I don’t think she’d have much of a problem protecting her cover . . .
There’s a bit of a kink in this plan–but wait! There’s also a big surprise!
Erywin stared off in the direction of The Link entrances on the other side of the park. “We’re gonna have to make our way there with this invisibility up; we have to assume they know you both came in with Tanith, and if they see you three leaving, they’ll likely attack.”
“Can we teleport inside the park?” Annie pointed at a sculpture close to The Link entrances. “It won’t be as far as a wall.”
“Only one thing—” Kerry switched his gaze from person to person. “If we try and enter that invisible, it’s gonna be pretty obvious. And we can’t just drop right in front of the entrance.” He shook his head. “That’s a dead giveaway.”
Erywin was already thinking that they couldn’t make it into The Link without becoming visible for a few seconds. And there aren’t many places where we can do that without being noticed. “Dammit, I didn’t think about that.”
Annie had already made up her mind about what was needed. “Erywin, do you trust us?”
“Of course I trust you.” She eyed Annie closely. “What do you have in mind?”
Annie touched Kerry’s hand. “Give it a try; we have nothing to lose.”
“Yeah.” He stepped in front of Erywin. “Can you bend down here a little, Mom?” He smiled as he used her cover name again.
Erywin was now more curious than worried, and she did as was asked. “What are you trying?”
He changed his hair back to its natural color and placed his hands on either side of Erywin’s head. “Something I’ve been working on . . .” He closed his eyes and concentrated as Annie and Tanith looked on. Nothing happened for almost five seconds, then Erywin’s hair changed to lustrous auburn as it lengthened and curled. After another five seconds her transformation was complete. Kerry dropped his hands and stepped back next to Annie.
Erywin ran her hands through her newly changed locks. “How the—?” She shook her head. “Kerry, you shouldn’t be able to do that.”
“I’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks.” He nodded towards Annie. “It was her idea I give it a try, since I could do simple transformations on myself.”
“He practiced it last night on me.” Annie giggled. “You should see me as a ginger: I can imagine what our kids would look like.”
Erywin also chuckled as Tanith rolled her eyes. “We can talk about that later—”
Kerry got back on message. “Now that we really look like we’re related, you and I can walk to The Link, and Tanith and Annie can follow invisible. Once they’re inside they can turn visible again.”
Erywin nodded slowly. “That might just work.” She pointed at her head. “What about this?”
“It’s good for about twenty, thirty minutes. After that it reverts.”
“Sounds good.” She pulled out her teleport device. “Let’s not waste time—” She punched in the park location they’d decided upon, linked hands when they were ready, and performed the short hop across Washington Square Park.
Even in the face of danger, Annie’s talking about kids with Kerry. Can you imagine that conversation from the night before? “I’ve never been a ginger before.” “It looks good on you.” “It’ll look better on our kids . . .” Oi. Notice, though, that he isn’t rolling his eyes. These kids need to get a room. Oh, wait . . .
So right now they’re here in the park–
Everyone’s in place and about as ready as they’ll get. Only a few orders left to give:
The moment they were in place everyone looked about to see if they were being observed. When they didn’t noticed anything Erywin prepared them for the minute or so they’d need to walk to their destination. “Kerry, I want you to stay to my right: I’m left handed, and if I have to shoot, I don’t want to risk having you on that side.”
He nodded. “Got it.”
She turned to Annie. “We’ll keep the door open long enough for you both to scurry inside; you can fade back into view as we’re going up the stairs.”
Kerry slipped off his backpack and handed it to Annie. “If they saw us coming in, they probably noticed this.”
“I’ll give it back when we’re in The Link.” After Annie she noticed the now nervous Tanith. Annie reached down and took her hand. “Don’t worry; this is going to work.”
“You’re damn right it will.” Erywin tapped Kerry. “We need to pull back and fade in—”
“Right.” He blew Annie a kiss. “See you in a bit.”
She blew him a kiss right back. “I’ll be right behind you.”
Erywin and Kerry stepped back until his light bending fiend broke from Annie’s. They both turned around and faded into view as they emerged from around the sculpture and walked at a normal pace towards The Link entrance.
The kids got two options: get so uptight they look like they’re about to lose it, or keep it loose and cover up their nervousness with moments of affection. They chose the later, though you have to wonder if they had a conversation the night before–when Annie wasn’t going on about how their kids might look–about what could happen to them today.
But they’re almost sorta home–
All I gotta do is get them to safety.