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Down On the Deck: Response Gambit

Let me get all the happy news out of the way first.  I did, indeed, pass one hundred fifty thousand words last night.  Writing started out slowly because I seemed to have trouble getting focused–part of that may have been due to having the movie Elysium on in the background and not listening to music–but I ended with eight hundred and sixty-eight words total before the end appeared.  But I got there in the fastest sprint to ten thousand that I’ve had in a long time:  only eight days this time.

Eight days and then off to sleep, actually.

Eight days and then off to sleep, actually.

So there we are:  one of the big milestones I expected has arrived, and it’s got me wondering again if I’m going to finish this novel around the two hundred fifty thousand word mark.  Answer right now seem to be “no”, but you never know.  I’m thinking I should add another fifty thousand to that total–maybe?  Could be?  Should be?

So what is going on now?  Take a look:

 

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Alex look as if she were considering pushing for an answer when popped up out of her chair. “Hey, they’re here.”

On the edge of the display were four bright blue dots moving rapidly towards the image of Cape Ann in the middle of the hologram. Annie stepped next to Penny. “Why only four?”

“We’re only seeing those brooms with active tracking—that means Vicky, Erywin, Nadine, and Riv right now.” She leaned forward, scrutinizing the images. “Damn, they’re really moving.”

 

Now, it was already stated in the excerpt yesterday about the active tracking, and Penny’s stating something that obviously wasn’t either known to Annie, or she may have been under the assumption that all brooms were being tracked.

 

Alex reached in and tapped the area above the dots. “Svyate der´mo.” Her eyes widened as she read the numbers. “Speed five-seventy-five kph: altitude thirteen hundred.”

Penny gasped as if she’d been slapped. “Meters?”

Ta.”

“Nearly everyone’s flying Espinozas.” Annie was torn between being impressed and shocked. “Five-seventy-five is over the maximum speed for those.”

“For unmodified ones, yeah—”

Alex stepped around the display. “None of the Espinozas at the school are unmodified. Vicky tricked them out so they’ll hit six hundred easy.”

 

For the less metrically inclined, six hundred kilometers per hour is right at three hundred seventy-five miles an hour, so five seventy-five works out to three hundred fifty-six and a half miles an hour.  Remember when Emma worried that others wouldn’t be able to keep up?  This is why:  right now they’re on those flying mountain bikes traveling along at just over three hundred and fifty miles and hour four thousand, two hundred, and sixty-four feet up.  That’s eight-tenths of a mile if you’re keeping track.  And you can bet Annie is . . .

 

Annie stepped a little to her right so she could see the flight in the display. “They’re up so high.”

“It’s ‘cause it’s been dark a while; whatever team’s in the lead was probably chancing the last bit of light before the sun set.” Penny slipped an bud into her ear activated the enchantment. “Let’s find out who’s bringin’ the flight home.” She lightly tapped her ear three times so the response would broadcast to everyone and spoke in her clear, clipped English tones. “Salem Overnight, this is the Flight Deck. We have you in the bubble: lead team, please sound off. Over.”

While the girl’s voice was clear, the slipstream around flight was clearly discernible over the speakers. “Flight Deck, this is Team Myfanwy on lead, pilot speaking. We’re coming straight in. Over.”

“Roger, Myfanwy, we have you as Overnight lead; transferring call sign to you. Please stand by.” Penny pointed at Alex. “Check their course.”

Annie knew what Alex would find. “Kerry’s navigating; they’ll come in right on course.”

“She’s right.” Alex crafted a line from their point of entry into the bubble to their present position, then drew it forward towards Cape Ann. “They’re gonna hit Rockport head on and then right to the meadow.”

“Where are they coming from?” Annie hadn’t noticed the position of the flight before, but now noticed they were approaching from the ocean.

Alex expanded the display so it took up most of New England and parts of Canada, then backtracked the course. “I’d say Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.” She checked the calculated distance. “Three hundred and eight-four kilometers from there to Rockport.”

“Wait, what?” Penny touched the comm. “Overnight, this is Flight Deck. How long have you maintained your present speed? Over.”

Kerry’s voice rang out clear. “For just over three hundred kilometers. Over.”

Penny and Alex exchanged looks. “Overnight, do you have a reading on your current wind chill?”

There was a long pause before Emma spoke. “Low, Fight Deck. Over.”

“Roger, Overnight.” Penny tapped her comm off before speaking. “Alex, contact the hospital, tell whomever you get we’re probably going to need some warming blankets down here: it looks like we got a Narjinary Gambit going.”

This was an expression Anne had never heard before, but given how grave the other girls appeared, she didn’t think it was good. “What’s a Narjinary Gambit?”

 

First, Penny could probably work flight control duties at Heathrow right now the way she’s handing the incoming flight.  Second, Annie was right on when she said with Kerry one-half of the lead team, because she’s already talked up how he loves that.  Third, they’s been in the air at there current speed for just over a half-hour, if you’ve done the calculations as I have.  Which brings us to four:  The Narjinary Gambit.  And what is that?

 

“Something that happened during the Polar Express back in 2005.” Penny turned towards Annie. “One team—Indu Narjinary and Zhanna Mirokhin—got dropped in the middle of Labrador, Canada. After they determined where they were, they calculated they were sixteen hundred kilometers from the school. So, rather than fly back at a normal speed, they figured if they got their speed up to five hundred kph, they’d be home by late Friday afternoon and they wouldn’t have to camp out.

“So they ate as much of their rations as possible to calorie up, set course for the school, and flew for ninety minutes at five hundred kilometers per hour. They touched down, warmed up for a couple of hours, then struck out again—”

“Only their course was off and they missed the school by about thirty kilometers.” Alex stood up from in front of the display she’d used to contact the hospital. “By the time they figure out their mistake they were past Providence, Rhode Island, and spent another ninety minutes getting back.” She turned to Penny. “Hospitals coming down with warming blankets.”

“Great.” Penny finished the story. “You fly that fast in this weather, you’re hitting wind chills of minus forty to fifty Celsius, and while we got great arctic winter gear, even with magic you’re still gonna get a good case of frostbite and hypothermia after a few hours. That was what happened with Narjinary and Mirokhin: they came down with hypothermia on the first leg, didn’t warm up enough, and started having mental lapses during their second leg.”

“They received special recognition for being the team to complete the Express the fastest from over a thousand kilometers out—” Alex grinned. “—but the way Vicky tells the story, she wasn’t at all happy.”

“Not to mention they spent Friday through Saturday night in the hospital recovering.” Penny nodded towards the display. “They’re probably hitting below minus fifty right now; they’re gonna need warming when they land.”

 

Remember how I’ve spoke about meta-plotting everything out but when something comes to me, I get it in?  Well, this is one of those things. The Narjinary Gambit didn’t exist until two days ago, and it came about because of . . . thinking about future scenes.  See, there are reasons why people do things and reasons why they don’t, and one of the things that came up was, “Well, if I can zip along at five hundred kilometers per hours, and I’m dropped off some fifteen hundred kilometers from the school during The Polar Express, what’s going to keep me from just opening up the broom and getting home as quick as possible?”  And that’s easy to ask now, because back before the 1990s the gear being used in The Polar Express normally wouldn’t allow for a lot of fast zipping because frostbite and hypothermia would put you down fast.

But with the new gear you can withstand colder temps, or so the reasoning goes.  These two girls decided to put that reasoning to the test, and almost flew out over the Atlantic in the process because mistakes.

See?  Mistakes.

This is what a near-fatal mistake looks like.

That’s the route I worked out, and you can see–to the far right is there first camp where they were set down; the next dot to the left of that is where they figured out their course; the dot in the middle is where they stopped half-way; the dot at the far left is where they realized they screwed up; and the final dot is the school.  If they hadn’t realized they were way off course and well beyond the school, they’d have sailed right out over the Atlantic, where they probably would have succumbed to hypothermia and crashed into the ocean.

If you’re interested, -50 C is just about -60 F, and if you don’t think that’s cold, go outside the next time the wind chill is like -10 F/-24 C, get on your thermals and your best coat, mittens, and hat, and just stand in the open for about five minutes.  Once you come back inside where it’s nice and warm, imagine it being another fifty F/twenty-five C colder, and then imagine you’re on a bike a quarter of a mile up above the ground moving along at something like 250 mph/400 kph.

Yeah.  You don’t get to make a lot of mistakes under those conditions.

Needless to say I didn’t finish the scene last night.  Tonight?  Yeah, I think I will.  I’m sure I will.

Or not.

Either way, I’ll be here tomorrow, because it’s thirty days hath September, and the witch month is upon us . . .

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