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East to West Memories

Believe it or not I didn’t hit my thousand word limit last night.  I had a two hour nap then wrote just over six hundred words before calling it a night.  However, this morning I sat down and ripped off eight hundred and eighty-four words in about seventy-five minutes, bringing the two day total to nearly fifteen hundred words and bringing a end to scene two of Chapter Two.

See, I didn't lie.  I never lie except when I do.

See, I didn’t lie. I never lie except when I do.

It was a lot of fun bringing the scene to a close and there was something I wrote this morning that forced me to stop and sniff back a few tears, because that’s how I get sometimes when I’m writing and a come upon a line in a scene that invokes a strong emotion.  I’m just like my kids in that sense:  at least I don’t swoon and nearly faint.

Because I’ve written so much during this period I’m gonna present about half of the remainder of this scene, which is going to nicely tie up what was presented yesterday.  And I should be able to write a little of the next scene today, as I don’t intend going out and doing anything today.  I was working through some of that scene this morning–I didn’t sleep well last night and was up at five today–and I think I’m gonna have a good time putting it together.

Picking up from yesterday…  Now that we know about the political affiliation of Annie’s family, Kerry’s got all that stuff out of his system–yeah?  Well, maybe that takes him somewhere else…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“I’ll remember that.” Maybe fifteen seconds of silence went by before Kerry started giggling. “Sorry.”

Annie almost rolled her eyes again because she knew something silly was coming. “What is it?”

“Oh…” Kerry half-looked towards Annie with a sheepish look. “I was just trying to imagined what you’d look like if you were living thirty years ago. You know, winter comes and you’re walking around in your black skirt and black boots—” He turned a little more towards her. “A heavy jacket over your sweater and, you know, your hands stuffed in a fur muffler and one of those big fur hats on your head and…” His voice trailed off. “I’m digging myself in a hole, ain’t I?”

“I think it’s rather entertaining watching your attempts at bad humor.” She kissed him on the cheek to show she wasn’t angry. “By the way I do have that outfit and you’ve seen me wearing most of it.” Her right eyebrow arched as she considered something. “Though I’m certain the boots I have likely cost far more than the entire outfit would have run in the early 80s.”

“You have the hat and muffler?” Now her was trying to see Annie in the full outfit and imagining how beautiful she’d appear.

“I do, but there isn’t any point in bringing them to school: they’re too dressy.” Annie held her head up and did her best to sound snooty. “I’ve even worn that nearly same outfit in Russia.”

“You’ve been to Russia?”

“Three times: once to Moscow and twice to St. Petersburg: once during our Yule, and once in late June for the White Nights Festival.” She snuggled closer to Kerry. “Some time we’ll go to St. Petersburg in the winter and you can seem me all dressed up in my full outfit.”

Kerry stroked her hair. “Just like a Russian girl.”

“No: Russian girls are snobby.” A grin appeared as Annie turned up her nose. “Nothing like me.”

 

Now we now:  Annie thinks Russian girls are snobs.  Bold talk for a Bulgarian girl who some people thought of as an “Ice Princess” for a while, with one actually having the temerity to tell this to Kerry.  We’ve also discovered she’s been to Russia, though given she’s a bit of a globe trotter this shouldn’t be a surprise.  Her trips to St. Petersburg seem to impress her the most, however, and as well they should because St. Petersburg is consider a beautiful city by a lot of people.

The White Nights Festival runs from June to August and has events that last well into the evening–which, since the city is so far north, doesn’t get all that dark during he summer months.  There are parades and concerts of all kind, with a number of them taking place in the main courtyard of the Winter Palace, probably the most well known location in the city.

Imagine Annie spending a long summer's evening here--

Imagine Annie spending a long summer’s evening here–

And during the winter St. Petersburg is the place to be with lots and lots of snow and sub-zero temperatures:  just the sort of place you’d expect Annie to be walking around in her full-on stylin’ winter outfit with her fur hat and muffler.

Now, crazy me, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to find an image of a Russian girl with that sort of outfit, and while I didn’t find one–believe it or not so many of my image requests kept returning pictures of women in Russia wearing stuff I would think are the wrong sorts of garments one would wear in a Russian winter–I did find one picture of a Russian woman with a fur hat, and this led me to getting down into some history with one of my favorite groups…

Allow me to introduce nineteen year old Natalya Kravtsova of the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, otherwise known as The Night Witches.

See?  Fur hat to keep her warm.

See? Fur hat to keep her warm.

The Night Witches was an all-woman flight group that flew thousands of missions against the Germans form 1942 to 1945.  Starting out as the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, they were later reorganized into the 46th “Taman” Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment, working alongside the 125th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment of the Soviet Air Force.

Now, because this was an all-woman group, and the Soviets were hard-pressed to find good equipment to pass around, these ladies generally flew outdated Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes with open cockpits and little instrumentation–oh, and two bombs per plane, because that’s all they could carry.  Since the aircraft were so slow and so vulnerable to attack they flew night missions only and were tasked with harassing German positions–

A job they did extremely well.

Just to give you an idea of what they had to work with:  their planes had a top speed of about 95 mph/152 kph, but normally cruised at about 70 mph/110 kph–in other words, about as fast as you drive down a modern interstate.  Because of weight limitations due to their bombs the pilot and navigator found their way to their targets using maps and a compass:  no fancy instrumentation here.  Oh, and the women couldn’t wear parachutes ’cause they weighed too much.  We need that extra weight to carry those bombs, guys.

The Polikarpov was a noisy plane: Wehrmacht troops called it Nähmaschine, which means “sewing machine”, because that’s what it sounded like as it flew up on your position.  But the Night Witches knew how to get around this:  as they approached their target they cut the engine and glide in on the usually sleeping Germans.  Then they’d drop their bombs and once they glided a short distance, refire the engine and fly the hell out of there and back to base, usually at tree top levels to avoid being shot down by Luftwaffe pilots on night patrol.  I should point out that that last was hard to do as the top speed of the Polikarpov was well below the stall speed of all German fighters, which mean the Germans pretty much had to put their planes into a controlled crash to hit these pesky Russians.

The Germans were the ones who gave the unit the name “Night Witches” because they said the sound of the planes coming in for a bombing run sounded like a witch’s broom swooping by in the darkness.  Some of the pilots said the Germans would often scream at them as they flew by, though surprisingly the last word screamed at then often wasn’t witch but something that sounded quite similar.  The Germans hated these women, and at one point Luftwaffe pilots were promised the Iron Cross–one of their most sought-after medals–for every Night Witch downed.

All together the units flew about thirty thousand missions:  Natalya Kravtsova flew nine hundred and eighty during her tenure as a Night Witch.  They were about as bad ass as anyone can get, and they are proof that while Annie thinks Russian girls may be a little stuck up, you should never mess with one, witch or Normal.  (It was noted that on occasions when the engine of their aircraft shut off in mid-flight, it was necessary for the copilot/navigator to climb out on the wing while the plane was going down and hand-crank the prop to get the engine started.  Yeah, bad ass.)

And here's one witch getting ready to fly during the winter.  Annie probably has this outfit as well.

And here’s one witch getting ready to fly during the winter. Annie probably has this outfit as well.

Now you know where Vicky gets her call sign and why her patch has it written in Russian.  And why she’s proud as hell to have that call sign…

Now that we’ve gone past that history, Kerry has something else he wants to bring up, history-wise:

 

Kerry had to admit there were no other girls like Annie, Russian or English or American—or anywhere in the world. There was something tugging at the back of his mind, however, that had nothing to do with Annie… “That brings up something else: how did your parents and grandparents get out of Bulgaria to go do school in America? Did The Foundation use magic to get them out without anyone noticing?”

“No, they didn’t have to.” Annie crossed her legs and rubbed the bottom of her foot as if she were looking for dream dirt. “From what my family has said The Foundation had a good working relationship with the Soviet Union; they were a foreign trade organization with favorable status with people in Moscow. Since their headquarters were in Paris they could claim that they weren’t unduly influenced by America.” She narrowed her eyes as she stared at Kerry. “Our bourgeoisie enemy.”

He laughed. “Is that you or them speaking?”

“My grandmother once said that jokingly. Anyway, the managed to prove—probably with a little help from The Art—that children from the Soviet Bloc were not only going to receive an ideology-free education, but that they’d freely bring that knowledge back to help their comrades.” She started grinning. “Yes, I said that.

“The Foundation also helped the Russians with…” Annie grasped at words. “I was told they often assisted them with engineering and scientific matters, though nothing that required them to become involved in their military efforts. The way my fraternal grandfather put it, The Foundation made certain the Soviets didn’t fall too far behind the West, but also made certain they didn’t get too far ahead.”

Kerry nodded slowly. “They helped keep the playing field even.”

“Quite so, yes. They were also here to make certain the Deconstructors didn’t gain a foothold in the country.” She rested her chin against her fist for a moment. “We haven’t leaned about it in history yet, but I think the Deconstructors were somewhat behind the Cuban Missile Crises.”

 

Now we find out Deconstructors may have played a part in trying to blow up the world in 1963, which sounds crazy, but then it doesn’t seem like they give a shit about a lot of things.  These guys just love embracing the crazy, don’t they?

 

“I can see that happening.” Now that the relationship between the Russians and The Foundation were clearer, he had another thought. “Did The Foundation get anything from the Russians? Were they paid?”

“No, they received something better: land. Since the Russians couldn’t pay them—rubles weren’t convertible to other forms of money—they bartered for land in Siberia where they could open lab and training facilities. That’s how Department 62 in Serov and The Cosmodrome came into existence.

“With those and other places available The Foundation could play with forms of magic and technology that wasn’t possible in areas where they might not be able to hide a—mistake. Also, being out in Siberia allowed The Foundation to keep track of…” Annie looked off across the straight as her voice dropped to about half her normal speaking volume. “Other things.” She turned back to Kerry and smiled. “Enough of that: why did you want me to see this? Do you miss being here?”

 

And at this last we find out that The Foundation has worked on stuff in Russia that may or may not have led to a mistake, and you gotta wonder what the hell they were doing where a mistake is big enough that not having anyone within a hundred kilometers of their test site is a good thing.  Also…  they’re keeping an eye on other things in Russia?  Stuff… and things.  What’s going on in Russia?  Well, I know, and maybe one day you’ll know, too.

We are left with this last thought:  “Do you miss being here?”  And you know what?

You’ll find out tomorrow.

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6 thoughts on “East to West Memories

      • That area that was hit by a meteor in 1912 ? Turkistan or whatever the name is. That wasn’t man-made though. I don’t know of any other catastrophic event Russia had in modern times.

        For a 13 year old, Kerry is very knowledgeable.

        • You’re thinking of Tunguska, and that was in 1908. There was Sikhote-Alin meteorite that hit Russia in 1947, and since it’s 2013 the Chelyabinsk metor just hit Russia on 15 Feburary. Russia tends to get whacked a lot ‘ cause of the size of the country.

          Yeah, Kerry does know a lot mostly because he reads a lot. He told Annie in the first novel that he looks at places on Google Maps and dreams of going there, and he knows a lot of history, too. What else is there to do when he gets no attention from his parents and he has a computer? He reads up on everything…

          • I can relate to Kerry. Even if one has nothing to do, though, it takes a certain character like Kerry’s to be interested in acquiring knowledge.

            Oh, yeah, that one on Feb, 15. That was ….. amazing ( and scary , of course )

          • They would have heard about that last one: Kerry probably watched all the videos. I’d have to check the time, but it happened around the time of Annie’s night silo.

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