Let’s talk about another achievement that was reached last night. As the novel continues forward, slowly at times, it seems, the word count continues to climb, and by the time I’d reached my almost eight hundred words for the evening, the final total for the novel reached sixty thousand words. I made a note of this on my author’s page on Facebook before I closed Scrivener for the evening–
The count of days from forty to fifty was fourteen days: this time it was fifteen. Slacking, right? I won’t complain: five thousand words a week, give or take, when you’re in pain and/or spending most of your time away from home for one day, is a pretty good total to keep u, and I’m keeping that up. At this rate I should hit seventy thousand right around the Forth of July, and hit one hundred thousand by the end of that month. By then I should be inside Act Two, unless something bad were to happen . . .
After the bit of awkwardness that was Emma reconnecting with her wingmate, Vicky starts in on the “Why We’re Here,” opening statements. Except . . . I had to go back and write something else I needed to add because, at the time I started this scene, I’d meant to put this part in, but I’d forgot. This is the nice thing about computers and their programs: you just go back and write. And I did–
(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)
“Oh, right—sorcery.” Emma sat back and crossed her legs. “Gotta be the dark witch.” She caught herself, hoping she didn’t say something that would upset Kerry. “Right?”
He nodded slowly, a smile appearing upon his face. “Yep. We both do, as a matter of fact. It’s something we promised each other.” He didn’t bother to mention where that promise had taken place.
She wasn’t about to give up asking about Annie so easily. “Why were you guys in your flight gear at lunch?”
He had nothing to hide. “We were out flying.”
“Around the school?”
“No, we were doing some stuff over in the Aerodrome.”
“Oh.” She was instantly attentive. “Were you guys checking out the Class 2 PAVs?”
“Naw, we were looking at something else.” Kerry didn’t want to talk about Annie’s flying—they still weren’t supposed to talk about their gifts—so he deftly changed the subject. “I like your new patch.”
“I like your new patch,” was the last thing from the original writing after the “starting here” point. Those few lines may not seem like much, but it’s designed to show that Emma is keeping an eye on Kerry, and she noticed that he and his “dark witch”–a term he publicly used many times during his A Levels–were in their flying gear. That’s some stalkerific shit there, Single White Witch Girl. Maybe Kerry should watch out? Or maybe Emma should cool her jets before that Dark Witch she commented on follows her into the bathroom for a . . . chat. Not that Annie would ever do something like that . . .
But what about Vicky? Well, let’s see what she has to say:
Seeing that the last of the students were out of the locker room and in their seats, Vicky addressed her newest collection of advanced flier. “Good afternoon, students. Welcome to Advanced Flight One. Congratulations—” She looked from one student to the next, keeping a sure grin in place. “You’ve accepted another year of flying misery.
“I know that, by now, some of you have spoken with a few of the C Levels in Advanced Flight Two, or you’ve heard from people who’ve been through both classes—” She quickly glanced in Kerry’s direction, fully aware he shared a class with Nadine Woodley, one of her best minions. “—which means you’ve a pretty good idea of what’s coming your way.
“Primary among your studies will be learning how to function as a team. Most of the time you’ll fly on your own, but in those instances where you find yourself in a small formation, or even with your wingmate, you need to develop a separation of duties so one pilot isn’t overwhelmed having to plan out everything. Some of you—” She shifted her gaze to where Emma and Kerry sat. “—have already figured this part out, so the rest of you have a bit of catching up ahead of you.
Though it’s really unclear what part Emma played in the separation of duties for Team Myfanwy the last time they were together. Listening to her wingmate so she doesn’t die? Well, she’s only batting .500 on that one. She did handle piloting while Kerry kept an eye on the Low and High Roads, so there’s that. And since Kerry does seem to enjoy planing out trips . . .
“We’ll focus on flight planing, on navigating, and on instrument flight rules. By the time we’re finish with this class you should be able to fly in just about any weather—not just in a winter climate or in rain, but in storms and atmospheric conditions that obscure the ground and make visual flight navigation impossible.”
Vicky took a short sip from the water glass to her right, then continued with her opening statement. “We’re going out on a few night flights as well—” She held up her hands the second a few of the students began grumbling. “On Thursday nights, so none of you miss out on the Midnight Madness—I wouldn’t want you to miss out on anything important . . .” A few of the students chuckled at Vicky’s slight joke. “Night flying is something we’ll do at least once a month, and a few times we’ll go out on a Thursday night for a few hours, return, and have class the next afternoon. And we’ll practice both visual and instrument flying at night, which means a few trips up into the White and Green Mountains where there’s little light to guide you back to school, and it’s easy to get disoriented.
Branching out into the White and Green Mountains–found in northern New Hampshire and western Vermont, respectively–means they’re gonna do a lot of flying. Sure, there’s a chance they’ll get jaunted out to somewhere and then have to fly back, but that’s probably gonna be the exception.
There’s one other thing, too–
“And, as I’m certain a lot of you have discovered—” Vicky paused to let the anticipation build. “We’ll take three overnight flights this year. Two of them will happen during the winter months—one in December before Yule Holiday, and the other either late January or early February—and the last in late March or mid-April: I’m still pinning those dates down.
“These flights will involve flying out as a group after dinner, setting up camp after dark, and then spending the following day taking what we’re learning to travel to . . .” She crossed her arms and scratched lightly at her chin. “—various points with teams taking turns leading the group.” Now that she had their attention, she gave them the last part of this particular equation. “This is all practice for those of you who move on to Advanced Flight Two, and decide to participate in The Polar Express.”
A murmur filled the Ready Room, and Vicky didn’t need to expand upon her comment: everyone here knew about The Polar Express, a three night and three day survival flight flown by wingmates using a minimum of supplies, a minimum of instrumentation, and a lot of flying through the Canadian wilderness during one weekend in January. Only C Levels in Advanced Flight Two were allowed to participate, though members who’d already completed the flight were allowed to fly with members whose wingmate didn’t wish to make the flight.
Overnight camping. And flying. In the winter. And the first mention of The Polar Express, which is going to take up a chapter of its own come the next novel–which I guess means it’s no surprise Emma and Kerry go out on this trip. And “flying through the Canadian wilderness during one weekend in January” is all you need to know about the difficulty, because who doesn’t want to fly through Canada in the middle of winter?
But before you ask: yes, even on these overnights, wingmates share a tent. That means, let’s see . . . boy/boy team, girl/girl, girl/girl, boy . . . girl. Hey, Emma and Kerry are the only mixed gender team! I don’t see any issues arising from that . . .
She went into her wrap up. “Lastly, we will learn about maintenance and modification of your brooms, and I do mean your broom. Because you have made your way into Advanced Flight One, and there are things we will do here that will necessitate each flying having their own broom, The Foundation will allow you to purchase a broom that is suitable to your needs. This means Class 1 Wilhelminas, Mering, and Espinozas, because none of you need the high end racing brooms that The Foundation also manufactures, at least not until you get into high end racing.
“If you’re wondering how you’ll pay for these, don’t worry: a deferment payment plan will be set up for anyone looking to buy a PAV. We’re not talking a student loan like a Normal school would offer, but a simple payment plan that lets you pay for just the cost of the broom—there’s no interest—and that’s stretched out for as long as thirty years if you like.” Vicky grinned. “Don’t worry: I’m certain many of you will still be working with us in 2040, so there’s no need to wonder if you’ll have the money.”
So, very soon, everyone in AF1 will have their own broom, bought for them by The Foundation on a long-term payback plan. But it won’t be long before these kiddies have their own brooms–which means it’s a cinch that Nadine and a few other minions have their own brooms as well. Oh, and you do find out how much a particular broom runs, which means, based upon that number, you can estimate how much Annie spent on Kerry’s broom.
Advanced Flight is over–and as Vicky said, we know what’s important–
The Midnight Madness is next.