The Final Solo: Quiet Moments On the Flight Line

My computer was being a pain in the ass this morning, but somehow I manged to get it to act nice long enough to finish this scene and get the post prepped.  I hate when my  computer isn’t being nice to me, and perhaps it’s time to think about moving up to something new–even though I hate most of the systems I’ve seen.  I know:  First World Problems.

Speaking of those, I did not expect to write as much as I did last night.  I thought, “Eh, I’ll get five, six hundred words in and go to bed,” and before I realized what was going on it was after eleven PM and I’d passed a thousand words, and there was no way in hell I could go to bed without finishing the scene.  So I did, topping out at twelve hundred and twelve words.  Must be some kind of synergy there, right?

Doesn't matter.  I'm done with the scene.

Doesn’t matter. I’m done with the scene.

So what happened with Annie in the Hanger?  Well . . .


(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

She leaned against the wall waiting for him to arrive and allowed her thoughts to wander back to the overview Vicky and Isis gave when they finished with breakfast. The solo would start as soon as both fliers were in place and ready to go. From the school Annie was to set out under visual flight rules for the Annisquam River and the parking lot at Wingaersheek Beach, then proceed to the intersection of Martin and Main Streets in Essex. After that she’d turn north and zip up to the train station at Ispwich, then continued heading north up the coast until they reached the nuclear power station at Seabrook, New Hampshire.

What concerned Annie was what came after she reached Seabrook, for neither Vicky or Isis would say anything about what happened after that point: the only think either would say was that “further instructions would be forthcoming” and left it at that.

That wasn’t true, thought: there were two items concerning the solo that Kerry and she were giving in the short briefing. The first is that she’d have thirty minutes to cover the almost forty-five kilometers to Seabrook—and the second was that this solo flight would cover a total of four hundred kilometers. Given that she had thirty minutes to cover just under one-eighth of the course, and that they were ordered to wear their arctic parkas and winter gear, Annie suspected there was an excellent likelihood this solo would involve some high speed flying at some point.

Something Kerry said as they headed into the locker rooms began making sense. He told her that one of the reasons for a steak and eggs was not that it was just traditional, but it was high protein meal that would digest slower and provide energy for a longer time while producing little or no waste—though his exact statement was that they wouldn’t need to stop and poop at any point. He also suspected that since the sides were mostly carbohydrates and starches, it would give them a quick energy release to get them going and probably wear off within the hour.

That information fit with the profile Annie was developing: they’d both receive a quick burst of energy from the starches that would take them thought the easy part of the course, after which the protein left them with a reserve of long-term energy through the difficult part of the flight. However, this didn’t answer the question of where she was flying where Kerry and she were going to need this energy—


What she thinks about breakfast is true, because I did my research.  Protein does digest slower, so you have more energy for longer.  And there’s little residual waste, so that means hardly any pooping.  True story:  when William Anders prepared for the Apollo 8 mission to the moon, he started on a high protein diet about three weeks before lift-off, and he even stated that one of his goals was to not poop at all during the mission.  Why would you do that?  Because when you flew in space in 1968, you stuck a Ziploc bag on your butt, did your business, and then stored it away.  And Anders didn’t want to do that, so–high protein, low poop.  As it was it didn’t matter, ’cause Frank Borman caught the flu on the way to the moon and pretty much used up all the bags through bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.  Yeah, that was a fun trip–

In case you were wondering–and it doesn’t matter if you are, ’cause I’m running this blog–here’s Annie’s route Seabrook under visual flight rules:

Pretty straight forward, wouldn't you say?

Pretty straight forward, wouldn’t you say?

Twenty-seven and a quarter miles/forty-three point eight-six kilometers in thirty minutes.  Because they have to stop at three spots along the way and get pictures, she’s gonna fly along as a little better than one hundred kilometers an hour, which is sixty-two miles an hour.  Annie knows that part is easy ’cause she’s already do that in the previous solo flights.  And look!  Here comes her chase:


Kerry came bounding down the stairs, his gloves hanging from the sleeves of his parka and broom in his left hand. “Sorry I took so long.” He hurried up and gave Annie a kiss. “Vicky was being a total pain about checking out my broom.”

Annie found that surprising as, in the past, flight instructor did little more than give Kerry’s broom a quick inspection before handing it over. “What did she do?”

“She had me go into hover while she did a processor check.” He glance to the stairs to make certain no one was standing there listening. “We didn’t even do those when we went off on overnight flights.”

“What about when you flew back from Nova Scotia during your first camp out?” The high altitude, near six hundred kilometers an hour leg Emma and he flew last December during Advanced Flight One’s first overnight camp out and test flight was a subject of discussion among the students in A Level Basic Flight, and Annie had overheard some of the hushed conversation in the tower covens from time-to-time when Kerry and she entered the area.

“We checked out the brooms before leaving camp, but not at any point after that.”

She nodded. “I’m certain we’re going to do some high speed flying today.”

He gave her hand a squeeze. “You ready for that?”

She chuckled. “Like I have a choice.”

Before Kerry answered there was a voice in their heads. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. Comm check. Over.”

Protocol demanded Annie respond first. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo, Athena Actual. Over.”

Kerry glanced up at the ceiling. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo, Starbuck Actual. Over.”

Vicky’s voice was smooth and professional. “Roger, Final Solo. Proceed to flight land and prepare for take off. Over.”

“Roger, Flight Deck. Over and out.” Annie smiled at Kerry. “This is it.”

“It certainly is.” He waved the large hangar door aside and he waited for Annie to take the first steps before following.


You gotta love the attitude everyone takes when they start one of these flights, and both kids know how to get their game faces on when it time for business.  It’s another of the reasons Kerry is allowed to be Annie’s chase without needing someone older, like Nadine, to back him up:  he’s not there to goof off or screw around, he’s there to do his job, and he does it.

Now all that remains is to get this party started . . .


The sky was lighter but remained a solid gray. The temperature had finally risen over three Celsius, but the wind was blowing at a steady twenty kilometer’s an hour. And didn’t worry about the wind as in a few minutes they were going to leave the school and fly along at five times that speed, which was going to drop the temperatures to below freezing. She slipped on her gloves and waited for the final go while Kerry set his broom to hover and set his tablet in place. “How are you feeling?”

“Nervous.” He locked the computer in place and jiggled it to make certain the enchantment was crafted properly. “I want everything to go well.”

“It will.” She reached for his glove and slipped it on to his left hand. “We do what we’re supposed to do, nothing more. Just like the other two times.”

Kerry nodded slowly. “No problem.”

Vicky interrupted their conversation. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. Prepare for take off. Over.”

Annie didn’t take her eyes from Kerry. “Roger, Flight Deck. Preparing for take off. Over.” She wrapped her arms around Kerry’s neck and kissed him hard. “I love you, my darling.”

Before she could pull away Kerry pulled her close and kissed her back. “I love you, my little sarmi.” He flipped her hood into place. “You’re gonna do great.”

She shot him a broad grin. “Yes, I will.”

Almost the second Kerry was on his broom Vicky gave the order. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. Take off and proceed to Objectives One through Four; upon reaching each objective call in and document. You have thirty minutes from lift off to reach Objective Four, Seabrook. Any questions? Over.”

Annie slid her balaclava up over her face. “No questions, Flight Deck. We’re ready to go. Over.”

“In that case, Salem Final Solo—” Vicky paused for just a moment. “You are cleared for take off. Over.”

“Roger, Flight Deck. Taking off now.” Annie went into hover then slowly rose twenty meters into the air, checking that Kerry was with her. “We are airborne, Flight Deck. Over.”

Vicky choked slightly as she spoke. “We have you airborne, Salem Final Solo. The clock is running; best get going. Over.”

“Roger. We’ll call you at Essex. Over and out.” She shot another hundred meters straight up, clearing the trees. She was already facing west and had her first objective, the mouth of the Annisquam River, in sight. She glanced over to Kerry. “You ready?”

He waved forward. “Lead on, Athena.”

“Will do, Starbuck.” Annie leaned forward and pushed through the air.

Her last qualifying solo flight was under way.


The party is underway, and Annie’s in the air.

What’s coming next?  You’ll be the second to find out.

Vikings, Season 4, Episode 7 Recap, “The Profit And The Loss”

You want heartbreaking? This is heartbreaking.

The Snarking Dead TV Recaps

History Channel's Vikings Season 4 Episode 7 Ragnar unicorn meme [Image via A&E Network] If you ever wondered what a depressing, gut-wrenching, soul-crushing episode of Vikings looked like, look no further. This episode very nearly broke me.

Here’s what went down in episode 7, entitled “The Profit And The Loss” of season 4 of Vikings.

On The High Seas

At sea, Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) is setting strategies. The plan is to attack from the sea as well as on land. And Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) volunteers for the land expedition, planning to sneak up on the forts and try and take out as many Franks as they can that way. King Harald Finehair (Peter Franzen) is still having penis envy issues and insists his boat is first in line as they attack from the water.

Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) is determined to call Erlendur (Edvin Endre) on setting the beserker onto him. Erlendur lies through his teeth about it and so continues that…

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