Hello again, and welcome to the story that never seems to end. I only say that in jest in that I doesn’t seem to end for me, but that’s my own damn fault, right? Actually, it’s been a productive night and morning, as I polished off four hundred and forty words last night, and another eleven hundred and sixty this morning, which inched the story another sixteen hundred words towards the end and brought another scene to an end. Given that I wasn’t in much of a writing mood last night, I consider this quite the accomplishment.
Also, I’ve a lot of pictures, because that’s how I am. It helps where there’s a lot of visuals to help with what’s going on. And the first I’m going to give you is this:
This is what my kids are right now, just a tick or two north of that state line about a third of the way from the top of the picture. So if you’re ready for a sixteen hundred word scene, lets get to it, shall we?
(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)
Though the weather at school was reasonable at the time of take off, it began deteriorating just north of Ispwich, and by the time Annie reached Newburyport and crossed the mouth of the Merrimack River at four hundred and fifty meters the temperature lay hovering around two Celsius, the wind was steady out of the northwest at close to thirty kilometers an hour, and there was a light rain that reduced visibility and cut the view to the horizon by about a third.
The closer she got to Seabrook, the more Annie became convinced that Vicky and Isis had Harpreet’s weather forecasting abilities to find the one day that was going to be bad without being too bad.
The rain didn’t bother her: the parka was waterproof and there was no possibility of it becoming soaked even in the worst weather. She was concerned with atmospheric conditions deteriorating further—though perhaps that was the plan. Vicky stated before they left the school that she’d fly visual flight rules all the way to Seabrook, after which, as the flight instructor stated, “further instructions would be forthcoming.” Considering that Annie believed her two trainer/instructors were aware the weather would be marginal today, maybe she wasn’t supposed to use VFR after their next objective.
Her Band indicated she was closing in on Seabrook Beach, so she slowed and began scanning inland for her last known objective: the Seabrook nuclear power plant. While her Band was slighted “detuned” for this flight, making it impossible to pick out individual buildings as she’d done during her night solo flight into Boston, Vicky told her to look for two domes about two klicks inland from Hampton Harbor—
She came to a stop and looked around. The Atlantic looked a little over a kilometer to her right, and the bridge a kilometer and a half away had to be Route 1A crossing the Hampton Harbor inlet. In her ten o’clock position she spotted a group of buildings nearly two and a quarter kilometers away, and while she wasn’t certain the tall structure on the left was domed, she was absolutely certain the larger one on the right was . . .
She turned to Kerry, who was allowed to answer questions without being specific. “Does that look like a nuclear power plant to you?”
He raised his flight goggles and squinted into the growing mist. “That looks like a containment dome to me.” Kerry slipped the goggles back over his glasses and adjusted them so they sat comfortably once more. “I’d say you found your objective.”
Annie grinned. “Let’s slip over there and call in, then.”
She quickly covered the two kilometers to the station and took up a position between the two cylindrical, domed buildings. Annie was slightly puzzled by the fact that the building to her right appeared finished and usable, while the one to her left looked as if it were under construction. “Are they working on the one down there?”
Before Kerry could venture a guess Vicky came on the comm line. “That building is the containment dome for Seabrook #2, which was never completed. If you notice all of the buildings around that dome are unfinished.”
Kerry nodded. “She’s right.”
Of course she is, because I do my research. Here’s the area Salem Final Solo is floating over–
Unit 1–the dome on the right that’s all nice and gray and solid-looking–was completed in 1986 and went online at full power in 1990. Unit 2–the silvery looking dome on the left–was supposed to go online about the same time, but it was canceled in 1988 while only about a quarter finished, and whatever equipment had been installed was stripped from the buildings and sold to other plants.
In story terms Annie and Kerry are sitting a few hundred meters up right between the two units, probably breaking lots of laws in the process, but since they’re totally in stealth mode no one sees them. Also, being a couple of witchy witches working for the fantastic Foundation, they could likely land on top of Unit 1 and dance a jig and no one could do a damn thing to them short of yell up, “Hey, you kids, get off my nuclear reactor!” Being Aware has it’s perks.
With the kids in place that means they’d done what they’ve needed to do up to this point, save for a few things–
“Needless to say.” Annie smiled as she spun around to face Kerry. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo. As you’ve probably guessed, we are in position over Objective Four and my chase is in the process of documenting our arrival as we speak. Over.”
Kerry finished snapping a picture of the nuclear plant below before turning the phone on Annie. “Give us a smile, luv.” Annie obliged, throwing one hand behind her head in a mock pose.
Vicky’s chuckle seemed loud in their ears. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. We confirm your position over Seabrook Station. We’re gonna go dark on this end and let you rest for five minutes before we continue with the flight. Any questions? Over.”
Annie exchanged head shakes with Kerry. “None on this end, Flight Deck. Over.”
“Okay, then. We’ll see you in five. Over and out.” The comms went dead as Vicky terminated communications on their end.
Annie looked off to her right, examining the area they’d previously covered, before turning to Kerry. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m good.” He pulled down the balaclava but left his goggles in place so his glasses wouldn’t get wet. “Considering it’s crappy and rainy, I’m not too bad. How about you?”
“Much the same.” Annie exposed her face, setting her goggles atop her head. “I have a feeling the weather is going to remain this way for a while.”
“Yeah.” Kerry set back on his broom and let his arms dangle at his sides. “Where do you think we’re headed next?”
“Well . . .” She spun slowly in place, examining her options. While accepting that her flight was sent north so that she’d experience this weather, she hadn’t given any thought to her next objective.
“We’re not far from the mountains, are we?”
“Not really.” He pointed off to the northwest. “The southern part of the White Mountains are about a hundred an twenty kilometers off that way. We flew through those on our second and third overnight flights, and the last time we did it through some snow—” Kerry shook his head. “If it’s raining like this there’s gonna be a lot of mist, and that’s gonna make visual flying a pain in the butt.”
“I believe that’s the idea.” Annie floated closer to Kerry. “Vicky made a point of stressing visual flight rules up to this point. I suspect Isis and she want me to start reaching my objectives using instrument flight rules now.”
Kerry pressed his index finger against his pursed lips. “Yeah, that makes sense. You haven’t done that in a solo flight test yet, and this kind of weather would pretty much require you to use IFRs.” He set his hands in his lap and sighed. “Getting up there, doing some flying around, and then flying back at high speed—that’s four hundred klicks easily.”
Annie moved so she was at Kerry’s left side facing the same direction. “Any chance we would hit a mountain?”
“I don’t think so: the HUDs have collision avoidance turned on, so if we got too close to something big, it’d let us know before we plowed into it at a few hundred kilometers an hour.”
“That’s comforting.” She leaned in and kissed Kerry on the cheek. “You wouldn’t allow that to happen.”
“Nope.” He blushed furiously. “That’s why I’m a good chase.”
“And a good husband.” A burst of white noise told Annie the comms were active once more. “Get ready—”
It’s cold, rainy, and misty. And there’s a possibility they’re heading into the White Mountains, thought Annie likely doesn’t think much of the mountains around that area given she lives in the middle of some real mountains. Then again, she’s not done a lot of flying around her mountains in bad weather, so it really doesn’t matter if she thinks the mountains in New Hampshire are rubbish or not, smacking into a rubbish peak at a hundred and sixty kilometers an hour will kill you just as quickly as slamming into one of the great peak around her home. Dead is dead, no matter how it happens.
However, Vicky has something else in mind–
“Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck.” Vicky’s tone turned slightly humorous. “I hope you’re feeling relaxed and comfortable. Over.”
Annie snorted. “About as relaxed and comfortable as you might expect given the weather, Flight Deck.” She glanced over at Kerry. “I take it this weather was expected. Over.”
“Yes, it was, Athena. That’s because—” Vicky paused for just a moment. “We’re about to start you on the instrument flight rules portion of the test. Over.”
“I’m not surprised, Flick Deck.” She winked at Kerry, who winked back. “Salem Final Solo is ready to begin. Over.”
“Good deal, Salem Final Solo. All right, then, since you’re ready to fly, then let’s get you started.” Vicky’s tone turned serious. “Set your course heading to sixty-six degrees—repeat, zero-six-six degrees. Your next objected is twenty-one point six kilometers distant, so I would expect you to get there in less that five minutes. Do you copy? Over.”
Annie read the look on Kerry’s face the moment Vicky called out the course heading, and she realized it was likely the same look had passed over her face at the same moment. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo. The heading you gave—” She rotated slowly until she was facing the New Hampshire coast line. “That takes us out over the Atlantic. Is that correct? Over.”
Vicky responded immediately. “You read correct, Salem Final Solo. Your objective is Cedar Island in the Isles of Shoals. Please confirm. Over.”
“I copy, Flight Deck. Please stand by.” She looked at Kerry. “I didn’t expect that one.”
“I didn’t, either.” He pulled his broom around to his right and slid into position so Annie was once more on his left. “Over water travel. That’s sort of a new one.”
“I’ve crossed Salem Sound; this shouldn’t be that bad.” She squinted out into the rainy mist. “Nothing but gray out there.”
“And it’s probably going to remain that way until we’re a couple of klicks away.” He chuckled. “That’s why she gave is a distance: if we know it’ll only take five minutes to get there, and we fly for ten, then we’ve missed the island.”
“Makes perfect sense.” She reflectively placed her right hand next to her ear as if it would help her hear better. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo. We’re ready to proceed. Over.”
With her instructions given Vicky sounded far more upbeat when she spoke. “Roger, Salem Final Solo. You may proceed at your discretion. See you in a few minutes. Over and out.”
Annie began floating forward as Kerry and she pulled their balaclavas back into place. She glanced over her shoulder as her chase took up his place a few meters behind and to her right. “One good thing about going in this direction—”
Kerry slowly followed. “What’s that?”
She twisted her head slightly to one side. “There’s nothing to run into out there.”
So instead of heading inland, the kids are heading out to sea.
Now, one last thing: once of the things I needed to figure out for the upcoming sections of the story is how to figure out headings on Google Maps, since if Annie’s doing instrument flight rules, it’d be nice to know if I’m really sending her off in the right direction and not just pulling numbers out of my butt and hoping no one goes, “Hey, you’re going to wrong way!” Because no one has ever done that, right?
Fortunately for me I found a site that allows you to overlay a compass on to Google Maps and figure out if my directions are at least close to right. Having all ready figured out Annie’s course, I needed to bring up this other site, determine her start and end points for each leg, and chart the heading by pulling the compass line over the objective. As you see in the image below, there’s a heading number in the upper right hand corner of the display, and that allows me to know what course to set for Annie.
And there you have it: I’ve gotten her to points north, and now–
Well, you’ll have to see where she goes from here.