Marching With the Women

21 January, 2017.  By now most people in the world have a pretty good idea what happened that day.  Not only was the Woman’s March on Washington the single greatest demonstration event in this country, but it ranks as one of the largest worldwide events ever.  Not bad for something that started out as a Facebook post the day after the US presidential elections.

Given that I worked on Hillary Clinton’s campaign beginning in August of 2016, I felt that in the aftermath of the election I could do one of two things: sit back and piss and moan, or get involved.  I decided on the former.  I registered with the Woman’s March knew the end of November, and a few weeks later I volunteered to be a bus captain, which meant I would be responsible for 50 to 60 people traveling on a caravan of buses leaving Harrisburg the day of the march.

So through most of January I prepared myself for what was to come.  I bought a battery charger for my phone as I would need my phone on most of the day.  (Though that proved to be unnecessary as you will soon see.)  I bought wool socks in case it was cold.  I bought new insoles for my mukluks in case I needed to wear them.  I bought thermal undergarments in case I was going to have to deal with near zero temperatures.  When I discovered the temperatures were expected to be in the mid-50s, I bought a fleece jacket to go over the sweatshirt, jeans, and tennis shoes I was going to wear.

Last of all, I had my pussy hat: the ubiquitous pink hat that was made in such a way that the corners would look like cat ears.  Mine was crocheted by a member of the crocheting group I belong to and send to me all the way from Illinois.  And with all of that in place I was ready to go–

The night before the March–which happened to be the inauguration of Darth Orange–I expected to be in bed before ten and up at four so that I could be out the door a little after five.  As usually happens with me my plans blow up in my face: I really didn’t get to bed until about eleven-thirty and I was up at three, with maybe two hours of good sleep found during that time.  I got up, did my business, loaded up on some cashews and beef jerky, and got dressed.  I also took some antidiarrhea medication because only a couple of days earlier I’d been sick as a dog and I was completely unsure of whether or not it actually be a will to make the March.  By mid-Friday I was certain: sick or not, I was going to go to DC.  Nothing was going to stop me–not even lo0se bowels.

Here I am, ready to leave the apt at 4:50 AM.

Here I am, ready to leave the apt at 4:50 AM.

Believe it or not even though I arrived at the parking lot at 5:10 in the morning, I was not the first one there.  There were already close to a dozen cars in the parking lot and only a few of us were bus captains.  It didn’t take long for that to change, and well before the first bus arrived there were hundreds of people waiting to board.

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My early morning people.

The process was simple: as soon as the buses arrived we began loading people on, first come first serve.  I was on the third bus to arrive and left in a group of six, all from the same carrier.  My job was to see that everybody was aboard was supposed to be there and keep them informed of what we expected to do once we were on the ground in Washington.

As you can see I was dressed the part.

As you can see I was dressed the part.

I should point out that we had an app our phones that was supposed to allow us to select a bus and checking passengers.  Needless to say, the app didn’t work for shit, and at no time during the day was I ever able to get it to do anything.  Not that it really mattered, because we discovered that once we were in DC we basically shut down the phone service: it was nearly impossible to get a signal to call out, and data and Wi-Fi were impossible to come by.  I managed a couple of live broadcasts, coming while I was back-boning off of the Wi-Fi from the National Archives.  This last part we had been warned about by people who had been in DC during large gatherings and who said it was impossible to use your mobiles.

With everybody aboard we left Harrisburg a little after 6:35 and we were soon on our way to Washington. I was soon on my feet explaining to my group what we expected to do and to beware of anyone who might be trying to get them to fill out questionnaires as they might have been people working to make us look bad, or others who were trying to track us.  Once my spiel was done I kicked back and enjoyed the ride.

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The buses were parked at RFK Stadium, on the far east side of the downtown area.  While I had a Metro card which would allow me to take the subway into the center of the city, I decided to do something else: walked for two miles from RFK to the Capital.  And I wasn’t walking alone:

Leaving Buses.

Leaving Buses.

 

Leaving RFK.

Leaving RFK.

 

Waking down the road.

Waking down the road.

 

Pussy hats ahoy!

Pussy hats ahoy!

It took about forty minutes for the capital to come and view and this was probably the first moment I started to feel real excitement.  Because when you see a structure like this you know you’re right downtown in the middle of the nation’s capital and you’re about to engage in something historic.

Close--

Close–

 

Closer--

Closer–

 

Closest.

Closest.

Let’s keep in mind that we were coming in from the east and all of the action was going to be happening on the west side of the capital, in the area of The Mall stretching all the way out to the Washington Monument and the White House.  So it this point in the above photos, we couldn’t see what waited for us.  Not only that but there’s a reason they call the Capital “The Hill”: it sits on top of the hill and from there you’re actually looking down on the city.  So as were walking towards the crown we start hearing this now that would begin low and rise in intensity before sweeping over us like a wave.  The first time we heard it was somewhat indistinct, the second time we heard it it hit everyone walking in the group like a hammer.  I turned to the woman on my right and said, “That is chilling as hell.”  She told me that chilling was the appropriate word: she said it gave her goosebumps.

It was only a few minutes later that we saw what was causing the sound, and upon seeing the crowd I actually gasped.

And this is just a small part of the crowd.

And this is just a small part of the crowd.

On the right is the US Botanical Gardens, and if you look all the way down the street at what looks like a white barricade–that’s the stage where all the festivities were taking place.  The closest we got to the stage was about a block; you couldn’t get any closer because of the crush of people.  So slowly I made my way towards The Mall, as I was caught in a mob and my anxiety level was going right off the scale.

The scene at The Mall wasn’t much better: it was just there was more space for more people. There were also port-a-potties, which I had to use.  The one good thing was that there was some space in which one can catch their breath.

I could almost build a house here.

I could almost build a house here there’s so much room.

Here’s a video I made of my time on The Mall and it gives you some idea not only of the crowds, but how uncomfortable I was feeling in them.

After a while it got to be too much and I had to leave the crowds. It wasn’t anything personal, just a matter of anxiety and feeling a bit claustrophobic.  So I made my way off The Mall and headed up 4th Street towards Pennsylvania Avenue.  Pennsylvania Avenue was closed off and people were marching there, with most of them going around in a two block circle.  There were still a lot of people in this area the city: tens of thousands at least stretching down to The Mall and a block further north past the Canadian Embassy and up toward the federal courthouses.

Out of The Mall and heading towards Penn Ave.

Out of The Mall and heading towards Penn Ave.

 

Penn Ave looking west.

Penn Ave looking west.

 

Penn Ave looking east.

Penn Ave looking east.

 

Just north of the Canadian Embasy looking towards the stage which is about 2/3rds of a mile away.

Just north of the Canadian Embassy looking towards the stage are which is about two-thirds of a mile away.

It was while I was here that I cut another video, this time sitting in front of the Canadian Embassy.  It’s not long video, but at this point you could see that I was starting to get a little tired–mostly because at this point I had only two hours of sleep in the last thirty-six and I was quickly approaching nine hours awake.

I grabbed a quick bite and a quick rest as well. As I pointed out in the video I was feeling more dehydrated than I was hungry and I was in the process of trying to fill up on as many fluids as possible.  My appetite had vanished since Thursday, so it seemed as if I was living off fat reserves, a bit of beef jerky, and cashew nuts.  But I drank two large bottles of water on the bus trip down, another bottle of water and a power bar on the walk to the capital from RFK Stadium, and during lunch I had a Gatorade and a ginger ale.  I knew the fluids would get absorbed into my body and the less solids I ate, the less I would need to go to a port-a-potty.  I also wanted to get back to Pennsylvania Avenue before one PM, as that was the time the march started.

Only thing was, no one really knew where the march was starting.

Given the size of the crowd getting information out was sketchy as hell.  At eleven-thirty I’d spoken to a person who would just been in a conversation with a New York Times stringer and she was told that at that time, they were estimating the size of the crowd at between four hundred and fifty and five hundred thousand people.  As 1 o’clock approached I was hearing various rumors that the numbers were actually closer to six hundred thousand, and a few people had heard that we might be close to seven hundred thousand.  All of this was totally believable: at this point there were way too many people in the downtown Washington area, and people were walking the streets without any fear that we were going to encounter vehicle traffic.

It was just before one that the word came out that the march was starting.  What we were hearing was that we would not be allowed to march to the front of the White House, and that Pennsylvania Avenue was closed off a few blocks from where we were marching.  So right near the IRS Building on 10th, everyone hung a left and marched a block down to Constitution Avenue.  What we didn’t know at the time was that this still wasn’t the actual march: these people were actually the spillover from The Mall, whereas the true march was coming up 14th Street from Independence Avenue.  Essentially what was happening was three separate marches going on at the same time, which was similar to the situation they had in Los Angeles.

It didn’t matter: we were marching and doing so with a purpose.  Here are some of the shots I took on Constitution Avenue as we headed east.

Checking out the Washington Monument in the mist.

Checking out the Washington Monument in the mist.

 

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The building on the left is the African-American History building, which looks incredible.

I also managed to pick up about a minute and a half of video footage as we were marching.  One thing I need the stress is that while the crowd doesn’t sound that loud on the recording, there was constant noise at all times, as well as a constant background on.  At no time did ever get completely quiet, and after a while you just sort of tuned it out.  But it never, ever went away

As we walked I had no sense of time; I was charging my phone during much of the march and since I couldn’t get a data connection there wasn’t any point in checking for updates from people.  And given the crowd I was in, it would’ve been ridiculous to try texting or reading a text while walking along.  They were far more important things going on which needed my attention.

I walked all the way down to 20th Street and headed north to C Street and headed back east towards the Ellipse, the park just to the south of the White House.  While I was still marching on Constitution I’d taken the time to speak with a few of the volunteers near the entrance to the Eclipse, and they had informed me that area was the closest anyone would be allowed to the White House proper.  It made sense as it’s a huge park, but what no one knew was it was already twenty minutes after two PM in the march was supposed to have ended at two.

And it was still going on.

So I snapped a few pictures while in the Ellipse before heading across the street to the Washington Monument, where I hope to be able get a better perspective by getting a little elevation on top of everyone.

People coming into the Ellipse.

People coming into the Ellipse.

 

People gathering on the Ellipse.

People gathering on the Ellipse.

 

Me more or less flipping el Presidente off...

Me more or less flipping el Presidente off…

And when I say “more or less”, we discovered that the new Pussy Grabber in Chief had decided to begin from the White House earlier in the day and didn’t return until late afternoon, were leaks report he was extremely furious about the coverage the march was getting.  One of the reports that’s been publicized is that he flew into a rage at one point and screamed, “Don’t these people know I’m the fucking president?”  Yeah, Donnie: we know you’re the president. That’s why we were marching.

I finally headed up towards the Washington Monument and got one more picture as well as a final bit of video trying to capture the last of the marchers coming it–or, I should say what I thought were the last of the marchers.  Because it was about three-thirty in the afternoon when I shot this last video and there was no sign that the people in the march were sending out.

Looking down on the Ellipse from the Washington Monument.

Looking down on the Ellipse from the Washington Monument.

When you watch this video pay no attention to the fact that my nose piercing and sticking way out, something I didn’t realize at the time.  Normally I keep it flush against the outer skin, but at some point I must’ve wiped my nose and pushed it outward, which is why it sticking up when you see the one shot of me.

After a good rest where I spent about twenty minutes speaking with another woman from North Carolina, I headed over by the World War II Monument and did some walking along reflecting, as well as using a port-a-potty for the last time.  I walked back up to the Washington Monument about four-thirty and the march was still continuing.  I discovered much later that the police had actually closed the parade route at four o’clock and turned away tens of thousands of people who were still waiting to march.  I continued to watch people filing into the Ellipse for about another ten minutes, then began making my way back to the Washington Metro system, where I boarded the train at the Smithsonian station.

I didn’t get any pictures on the train because they were packed: people were standing shoulder to shoulder in every car, and there were stories from different people in my car saying that lines and been shut down at least three or four times during the day because of all the problems they had with people overcrowding the cars.  The Washington Metro office reported that by 11 AM that day, they had serviced 275,000 transit passes, where’s the day before, during the inauguration, they said during the same time period they had serviced 192,000 passes.  Needless to say we were far bigger party, and a lot more jovial.

There were several people in the car with me were actually heading back to Harrisburg: it turned out there was right next to mine, so I helped lead them back to the parking lot.  One of the women in the group was in a walker, and she was growing rapidly exhausted as she had walked the entire march using her walker.  We took our time getting back and after only a few minutes of looking I found our buses and got everyone where they were supposed to be.  I came on board mine and begin making certain that everyone who is returning on the bus was there, as well as finally getting off my feet and having another water.

Oh, and I also took a picture of the buses getting ready to leave.

Oh, and I also took a picture of the buses getting ready to leave.

About twenty minutes after I sat down someone came around and gave us the news: AP and CNN were reporting that unofficial totals for our march showed nearly 1 million participants, and CNN said there were as many as 1.3 million.  I got on the loudspeaker and reported the news, which got everyone applauding. And throughout the time before we left, and while we were departing Washington, I kept giving as many updates as I could get on the numbers coming back from the sister marchers in cities around the country and the world.  It was while I was reading this information that everyone, myself included, realize just what a huge offense had taken place today.  It’s one thing to say half a million marchers showed up in Washington DC, but it’s entirely something else to hear there were maybe a million marchers in Washington, and 275,000 in New York City, and possibly 750,000 in Los Angeles, and that the Chicago march was officially stopped when the number of participants reached 300,000, but everyone going on and by the time they reached Grant Park it was estimated the crowd had reached a half a million.

When we heard that news, it became evident we had started something important.

That was the question I kept asking myself on the ride home: did we do something important?  Was our efforts worthwhile?  More importantly, did we start something that was going to continue onward and not just be some one-time, flash in the pan event that people would feel good about doing but wouldn’t amount to much in the end?

That was all answered for me last week.  Scientists are now planning a march in mid-March, and at last check there were nearly 800,000 people interested in the event in Washington.  There is also talk of another march on April 15 which will end in front of the IRS Building, and this will focus on the fact that the Liar in Chief refuses to release his tax forms.  Lastly, the Pride parade which is supposed to take place on 11 June is apparently going to become a rather huge event, and given that I’m hearing that there’s going to be an executive order which is basically going to allow legalized discrimination against anyone LGBTQIA, I imagine that is going to grow into something far bigger than just everyone parading and having a good time.  I feel is going to turn into something hugely political.

And seeing how people turned out to protest at airports this last weekend concerning the restrictions on travel for Muslim countries, it’s apparent that people are not letting up the pressure.  With the exception of those were comfortable with fascism, most people seem upset over what is occurring and they’re prepared to take action.

So what’s in store for me?  What actions am I going to take?  This Sunday I’ll be marching in Harrisburg in support of immigration and sanctuary cities for refugees, particularly those coming from Syria.  I’m already making arrangements to go to the Science March and I fully intend to participate in the Pride March in June, though that one is going to be tricky because I’m going to drive to Indiana on 8 June, attend my daughter’s high school graduation on 9 June, then drive to Washington on 10 June and do the march the next day.  Needless to say, exhaustion is probably going to set in somewhere around the night of 10 June and I’m going to sleep like a rock somewhere in a hotel on the outskirts of Washington.

It’s time to get political; it’s time to get active. I’ve always been somewhat active politically, but ever since working on Hillary Clinton’s campaign last year I seem to have found a need to actually put myself on the line and get things done.  As a trans-woman it’s easy to say, well sure, we know why you’re doing this.  But as I’ve said to others, it’s not just me on marching for.  Part of it is I’m marching for my daughter, who is likely to start growing up in a world radically different than she’s known for the last eighteen years.  I’m marching for my Muslim friends who suddenly have a reason to fear living in the US.  I’m marching for all my women friends who are about to watch all the rights safe for the last fifty years vanish.

I can’t just march for myself.  I have maybe 10 to 15 years left after which I really won’t much care if things are further going to shit, or if they’re getting better, or we successfully fought off the darkness.  But there will be so many other people I know will still be here, and they will care about these things.

One doesn’t march for the present: they march to make a better future.

And while I can, I will do my damnedest to make that future a better one for those I leave behind.

 

As a last note to the March, I worked out the route I walk that Saturday so that I could see how many miles I traveled.  The numbers are pretty impressive: I was on my feet for 11.67 miles/18.78 kilometers, of which I walked 8.67 miles/13.95 kilometers.  This was the reason I spent most of the following Sunday wine about taking aspirin so that my legs wouldn’t hurt.  Pretty impressive for someone who two days earlier was thinking about going to the hospital because they were so dehydrated.

My March in all its glory.

My March in all its glory.

Minioning the Dark Way: The Last Shocking Thoughts

Last night I started on my post for the Women’s March and out about thirteen hundred and fifty words into it before coming to a stopping point.  Tonight I’m going to finish up the rest of it so I can have it ready to post tomorrow, and given that today’s excerpt is the last full of Chapter Eight, the last day of January will be a good point to reminiscent what happened ten days before.

It will also allow me to remain about seven thousand words ahead of you, and given that I’ll be out Tuesday night doing postcard signing to send off to our elected officials, it will be good to get both things done and out of the way.  I’m looking ahead to Chapter Ten, and realize that will be the first chapter where we get to see kids engaging in some rather advanced stuff.  We’ll get to see the super lab; we get see Jessica teaching how to do compression and expansion not just to inanimate objects but the real, live living things; will get to see any learning how to use Blend With Shadows; will get to see how time spells work; and lastly, we get our first taste of what it looks like to move about in the Astral Realm.

It is for sure going to be fun.  Believe me on that.

So lastly, let’s find out what happened after Helena delivered her one last lesson about the worst thing that can happen to you, or to someone else, if you’re a Guardian.

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Kerry slowly made his way to his feet. He didn’t appear to have shaken off the full effects of Annie’s shock, but he could at least walk—something he was unable to do two years earlier when Helena had done the same thing to him. “I only speak for myself, but I’m in this to the end.”

Annie nodded. “As am I.”

All she never had any doubts about Annie, Helena was pleasantly surprised to not only see Kerry say he was sticking it out, but that he’d said so before Annie spoke. “So does this mean you’ve both learned something from this lesson?”

“It means I don’t want to hurt Kerry if it isn’t necessary—” Annie reached out for Kerry as he approached. “But I have to accept the fact that as a Guardian he could be hurt or even killed because of an order I give.”

He took Annie’s hand. “And the same thing could happen to you because of me.” He wrapped both hands around hers, raised it to his lips, and kissed the back. “It’s the life we’re choosing to lead and you gotta take the bad with the good.”

Annie wrapped her arm around Kerry’s neck and kissed him on the lips. “Absolutely, my love.”

“Do you think you’re able to walk back to the Pentagram?” Helena crossed her arms, looking pleased. “And can you still craft magic?”

Kerry spent a few moments gauging his abilities. “Yes on the second one; can’t really tell yet on the first.”

“Well, if you can craft, and you can walk—you can walk, can’t you?”

“Yeah.”

“Then I’m going to want you to go back in there.” Helena nodded toward the classroom. “There’s something I need you to do.”

Annie already knew what Helena was going to say. “You want him shocked me, don’t you?”

Helena shrugged. “Gotta show those doubtful A Levels that you two can handle your spells.” She moved to open the door. “After he’s done you can both head off to the hospital and rest up this evening.” She waved the door open and entered, leaving them behind.

Annie and Kerry exchanged glances for about five seconds before she spoke. “You won’t shock me too bad, will you, my love?”

He gave a low chuckle. “No worse than you did me, my Darling.”

“And you’re going to hate yourself for doing that?”

“All through this night.”

Annie took his hand. “We should get in there, then. The sooner you shocked me, my love, the sooner we can spend time recuperating together.”

 

There was never any doubt of Annie continuing down this path.  She’s wanted to be a Guardian for a long time and nothing is going to dissuade her at this point–not even the possibility of her soul mate being killed due to something that she might order.  As Helena says, the biggest surprise is Kerry saying he’s going to continue and saying it before Annie has a chance to speak.  He’s always been seen as someone who follows Annie, and Helena has always been somewhat concerned that his only reason for wanting to be a Guardian is because of Annie.  Now Helena knows: the boy is acting on his own.  Or, at least he looks that way.  It’s always difficult to tell with Kerry.

So, Washington Post tomorrow followed Wednesday by the first post the new chapter.  Things are moving right along rather nicely.

It won’t be long before this novel actually starts to make sense!

Minioning the Dark Way: What You Learn

Here we  are again, on a day when things have finally fallen down the rabbit hole and it looks like we’re a repeat of 1939 because we got Nazis in the White House.  And nervous white people are arguing the merits of actually punching Nazis on the street.  Yesterday I spent a few hours writing postcards to my state senators and I’m considering going to another protest and the big Pride march in D. C. in June.

Let’s hope The Foundation is making moves behind the scenes.

In my fictional world we enter the aftermath of Kerry getting shocked again during A Level Sorcery.  You could say it’s a real lightning rod for this kind of punishment, but that would be a bad pun, wouldn’t it?  You know who doesn’t find this situation funny?  The Bulgarian Buttercup.  And it looks as if Helena, Kerry, and her are about to have a moment together…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Helena headed across the hallway and leaned Kerry up against the opposite wall, where she helped him slide to the floor. “There, just sit and relax. See how you feel in a few minutes and if you’re still a bit out of it, we’ll contact the hospital. All right?” She waited for Kerry to give her a nod before she turned and found a furious Annie standing with fists clenched and rage in her eyes. She sealed the door and threw a privacy spell around them so that no one could hear them speak.

She stood and faced Annie from a couple of meters away. “It’s just us now.”

Annie’s jaw flexed several times before she began to speak in a low, murderous tone. “You horrible—”

“Be especially certain of the next word to come out of your mouth, because if it’s one I don’t care for we are both going to be sorry.” Helena slid her hands into the pockets of her slacks. “I don’t blame you for being pissed.”

I hurt Kerry.” Annie spoke in a cold fury, her voice louder than Helena had ever remembered. “I swore I would never hurt him, for any reason, and you made me hurt him.”

“I didn’t make you do anything, Annie.”

 

It’s probably easy to figure out that third word that was about to leave Annie’s mouth, and it’s a fair bet it rhymed with “witch”.  And why not?  Annie is upset as hell that she lit up her soul mate and she’s not take it well.  She’s mad and she wants blood:  she wants someone to pay.

And here’s Helena saying she didn’t force Annie to do anything.  What the hell?  Let’s look at this logic…

 

Annie looked as if she was about to explode. “You did nothing? You said you were going to put him in the hospital if I didn’t carry out your order.”

And I would have, too.” Helena took a couple of steps closer to Annie and leaned in. “But I didn’t make you do anything. I didn’t hold the ball a cold fire over your head and threatened to burn you, nor did I hit you with any spells in an attempt to get you to craft the one you were told to craft. All I said was I would put him in the hospital if I had to craft a spell, because I would’ve been put in the position of being the bad sorceress because you wouldn’t carry out the order.” She took a deep breath. “And, by the way, you put yourself in the position of having to carry out the order by bragging to that little bitch about how you always follow orders. Don’t ever do that again.”

It was a hard fact to accept, but Annie realized Helena was right: if she hadn’t spoken to the student questioning her, she wouldn’t have been forced to prove that she followed all orders. It did, however, do little to lessen the sting of her actions. “Still, I hurt the person I love the most. How do I ignore that?”

“The same way Helena did when she hurt Erywin during our first year.” Some of Kerry’s color had returned but he made no move to stand while he spoke. “When you did all that stuff to Erywin during our Draught of Submission class, how did you feel after?”

Helena continued looking at Annie as she answered Kerry’s question. “I felt horrible. I begged her not to do that exercise; I had a couple of people lined up you were willing to serve as examples. But no, Erywin insisted she do that class.” The memory of that a level class brought pause to Helena, and she closed her eyes as she pushed the remembrance away. “Funny thing is, she wasn’t in the least bit upset.” She chuckled. “She said her biggest surprise was how long she held out.”

The silence inside the privacy field felt almost oppressive as time passed with no one speaking. It was Helena who finally decided to use the moment to get across another important point. “If you two continue to go out on missions together, you going to have to accept the fact that at some point one of you is going to do something that is going to hurt the other.” She pointed at Annie. “You’re in charge of an operation and a situation arises that requires someone who is an expert on transformation magic to go in and and handle the matter. Kerry is on the mission with you: do you send him?”

 

Helena is correct:  she didn’t force Annie to craft that killing spell.  Sure, she would have lit Kerry up herself if Annie had refused, but didn’t twist the girl’s arm or craft a spell over her or do anything else to intimidate her and  force her hand.  And she didn’t:  the reality is that Annie did as she was told.  Because she always follow orders?  As Helena tells her, never say anything like that again, not in front of anyone.

But this is where the learning portion of the program comes into play:  though she might not have intended for Annie’s little exhibition to become one, Helena is using examples to teach the kids some Guardian wisdom.  And she sets her up with an easy question:  if Kerry is needed to finish an operation, do you send him?  Survey says–

 

Annie knew she had to answer truthfully. “Yes.”

“And what if there was only a fifty percent chance of him making it through alive? Would you still send him?”

“I—” Annie glanced to where Kerry sat. “I could go with him—”

No. There is no ‘I go with him’, there is no ‘I find another way’. In order to resolve the operation right now, Kerry has to go. And there is a good likelihood he may die.” Helena moved in so she was standing over Annie. “It’s your call: what do you do?”

Annie clenched her jaw. “I would have to send him.”

Helena turned to Kerry. “The same thing applies for you, Kiddo. In order to have a successful operation, you need a sorceress who can fly without a broom. Annie’s with you and there’s a fifty percent chance she may die. Do you send her, or you try to figure out how to fix this shit on your own?”

Kerry looked down, shaking his head. “I wouldn’t want to, but I’d have to send her.”

 

Yeah, kids:  there could come a time when you have to make a hard decision and it could involve your soul mate and death.  To their credit they think of the operation, but right now they could just be saying that and would do something different in the field.  Either way, they now know that shit could get exceptionally real when it’s least expected, and they better be ready.

With that said, Helena lays the most important lesson on the duo:

 

Helena stepped back so she could look at both students at the same time. “One of the hardest lessons you learn as a Guardian is that the best outcome for an operation is not always the best outcome for the operatives. I’ve been on at least five field operations where I was either one of the only, or the only, operative to walk out of the final situation—and that was only because I was in charge. And I’ve been on a half-dozen others where we were damn lucky to have at least half our group survive.

“You work together in the same operations and one of you could find yourself in charge of the group. If that happens, you’re going to need to make some hard decisions about the people under your command, particularly when it comes to that person who is closest to you. What we did in Kansas City was nothing: it was sheer luck we stumbled upon those Deconstructors. When you go out on your next operations, expect the possibility that you may find yourself in the fight.

“It’s not all fun and games. I’ll be honest: I’m really surprised you stuck with this through the last year considering what you know could happen to you even on simple missions. I do hope you stick with this to the end, but you have to know—it’s never going to get easier.”

 

“The best outcome for an operation is not always the best outcome for the operatives.”  There’s a hard truth that Annie and Kerry may have to live through at some point in their lives, just as it’s likely Helena has.  Being a Guardian isn’t fun, it isn’t games, and there’s always the chance someone on your side–maybe even you or a loved one-is gonna die.  They were already there once and that was on an easy mission–

There won’t be easy missions any more.

This is all about to end.  And how does it happen?

Like this…

Minioning the Dark Way: The Hard Performance

Today is not going to be a fun day.  I have lab work this afternoon so I’m in the middle of a twenty-four hour fast which started about one PM yesterday.  I did have a handful of nuts to eat about nine last night, but I don’t think that’s going there affect my results that much.

What will happen today, however, is that I’m going to end up going to the bathroom a lot because I’ll be drinking water pretty much non-stop.  It’s either that or feel hungry all the time.  And then when I’m done and I’m back home I’ll probably get something to eat, maybe a personal pizza which I can stop in my mouth in record time.  Because of that I needed it.

I finished up the first scene of Chapter Nine and begin working on the next scene–

Which you can see here in all its glory.

Which you can see here in all its glory.

I wasn’t surprised that I finished the first scene so quickly.  When I was done working the overnight I knew there wasn’t a whole lot more I needed to say, but my brain wasn’t functioning very well and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to say it that.  It still wasn’t functioning all that well last night, but when I got through the hundred and seventy words I needed to finish the scene, it was fairly obvious that I had reached the end.  So altogether almost 650 words last night: not bad for someone who was sucking down one glass of water after another so I didn’t have to think about how hungry I was.

Now we come to the part of the story that is really at the end of Chapter Eight where, when I was writing it, I had some difficulty with what was about to happen.  What was about to happen, you ask?

It’s a good thing I can show you…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Kerry patted Annie on the shoulder. “You better go, Mrs. Peel.”

Annie didn’t get the reference, but seeing how Helena smiled when she heard Kerry speak, she could only assume that it was another of his thousands of pop culture references. She headed over and stood next to Stella. “Yes, Professor?”

Helena indicated the new student. “I want you to shock Stella using Electrify.” Helena turned her smirk on the suddenly worried student. “But only a small one; just enough to let her know it works.”

“Certainly, Professor.” Annie raised her hand just enough so she could point at Stella. “Don’t move.”

“You don’t have—Ahhhhh.” Stella jumped as a slight crackle of static electricity was heard throughout the classroom. “You shocked me.”

Annie shrugged. “I was ordered to shock you: what did you think I was going to do?”

“I don’t…” Stella gave Helena an angry stare. “I didn’t think you were serious about that.” She then turned to Annie. “And do you always follow orders?”

This time Annie turned an unconcerned stare upon the agitated A Level. “I do when Professor Lovecraft gives them.”

“Bitch.” She turned back to the Helena. “Is this over?”

Helena twisted her mouth up into a frown. “You believe me now when I say Annie can control her crafting?”

Stella glanced to her right and then back to Helena. “You’d have her do that same thing to anyone else in this class, wouldn’t you?”

“Oh for god sake.” Helena had finally reached her limit with the bickering student. “Go sit your arse down and I’ll show you.” She waited until Stella was in her seat before turning to Annie. “That’s something I want you to do—”

 

Kerry gets off the first bit of geek humor here, because of the end of the last excerpt Helena said, “Annie, I need you.”  Leave it to Kerry to know that Emma Peel was summoned by John Steele the same way when they work together on The Avengers.  Yes, Kerry is young and shouldn’t know TV shows from the 1960s, but this thing with being a geek: your interest roam far and wide.

Annie becomes the first minion that we know of who gets to use a Morte spell on another student in class.  She used Electrify in her judgment match, but that was different: here she gives a nattering little student a quick electrical burst, no pun intended.  So we know Annie is good; we’ve always known Annie is good.  Everyone knows and he is good except for this pitching student, which gets on Helena’s nerves, and when someone gets on Helena’s nerves she tends to get a little angry.  Or a lot angry.  And that sometimes leads to her doing things in class that might seem just a bit illogical…

 

While a few of the students in class recognized that Helena was angry, they didn’t know how unpredictable she could become the way Annie knew her. She knew something bad was about to happen and she steeled herself against what she felt was likely to be the worst possible request. “Yes?”

Helena pointed across the room. “I want you to give Kerry a damn good shock, one that’s going to shake him enough that everyone in the room can see.”

A knot formed in Annie’s abdomen, for this was the outcome she’d feared. “Professor, I—”

“Do you not follow orders when they’re given?”

Annie silently damned herself for having told the student this. “Yes, Professor.”

Helena nodded at the boy across the room. “Then do it.”

Annie turned around and found Kerry looking back at both Helena and her. He knew what she’d been ordered to do—they’d both spoken loud enough for everyone in the classroom to hear—and while he didn’t appear scared, there was a look of concern upon his face. She took a few deep breaths and began to pointed him before stopping and closing her eyes. When she reopened them, Helena was standing between her and the rest of the class, speaking in a whisper that only the two of them could hear. “What’s wrong?”

She glanced up at the sorceress. “I can’t do this.”

Helena kept her voice neutral and level. “Do what?”

This time Annie turned her head so she could look at Helena. “I can’t shock him: I can’t hurt him.” She swallowed as she tried to ignore her nervousness. “I swore I would never hurt Kerry and—”

Shock him.” Helena leaned in close enough that she was nearly whispering in Annie’s ear. “Do it, or I’ll put him in the fucking hospital.”

 

So here we go: Helena wants Annie to prove that she can light up anyone in the room and not kill them, and the best person to do that to is the other minion in the class–Kerry.  And this was something that I had to fight with for a couple of days, because I knew how much of an anathema of this would be to Annie.  She has never wanted to hurt her soul mate: not physically, not emotionally, not even verbally.  And now, in front of a classroom full of new students, she is being told to use her magic to physically harm the person she loves the most in the world.

She’s on the spot and if she doesn’t carry out orders, it’s going to lead to a huge loss of face.  And if there’s a loss of face in this class to one of the minions, that means Helena has to step in, and Helena’s reaction to something like this usually involves an overreaction–

Ergo, her threat to put Kerry in the hospital.  And when she means “put him in the hospital”, she means she is going to put him down hard.

Which means Annie only has one choice available to her–

 

Annie look straight across the room at Kerry has Helena straightened and stepped away so that the students had an unobstructed view. After about five seconds Kerry gave the tiniest of nods and gaze down at the floor as he clenched his fists—

She didn’t wait any longer than necessary: Annie pulled back her arm while crafting before whipping it forward while releasing the spell.

The air around Kerry crackled the instant the spell hit. He doubled over as he gripped himself around the stomach and let slip from his clench teeth a long moan. He didn’t fall to his knees, but nearly five seconds passed before he straightened, and even then he seemed as if he might not be able to stand on his own for long.

“I gotcha.” Helena scooped up Kerry and held him close to her so they wouldn’t fall to the ground she began maneuvering him across the front of the room but stopped halfway across to glare at Stella. “You want to know what it’s like to get shocked with a Morte spell? Because that’s what it’s like to get shocked with a Morte spell.” She shifted her gaze across the room and noticed that at least half the students were avoiding her. “Any of you other geniuses decide you want to whinge on about something, next time I’m going to use you as the example. And, Stella—” She once again turned her glare upon the girl. “Three of your proficiencies just took a whack: considering we haven’t actually started the class, you’ve certainly achieved some sort of record. Congratulations.”

Helena moved as quickly toward the door as she could while holding on to Kerry. She waved the door open but before they walked out she looked back at her remaining minion, standing transfixed at the front of the room. “Annie, I need you in the hallway.” She didn’t wait to see if if she was following them out.

 

Annie does the deed even though she is not the least bit happy about carrying out the orders.  But it probably did what Helena intended for to do: it’s likely scared the shit out of all of the A Levels, and then whacking the proficiencies of the student who pitched the most about it is just a little icing on the cake.  We also see that Helena has apparently picked up her own pop-culture geekness as well, because as she is ripping on her students she’s channeling Mallory Archer and will likely become memed all over school after this day.

Now we have Kerry hurt from getting another shock on the first day of A Level Sorcery–he’s probably the only student in the history of Salem to have this happen to them–and Annie is probably pissed as all hell that she was ordered to hurt her husband and father of their future children–

You're gonna make Annie angry; you don't want to do that--

Probably.

But you know Salem:  if you’re a witch–and who here isn’t?–everything is a test.  Or it’s at least made to look like a test…

Minioning the Dark Way: The Non-Believers

Believe it or not I did get my Grand K of Words down last night even though I was out most of the evening.  First, I had to pick up medication and then I returned home to change, but also to find a gift waiting for me: a Tina Belcher mug.

I'm a smart, strong, sensual woman who puts on her bra one boob at a time.

I’m a smart, strong, sensual woman who puts on her bra one boob at a time.

After that I went out to get my nails repaired and re-polished, thing time going with a pink called “Let Me Bayou a Drink”–

So much pink.

So much pink.

Then I wrote about Vicky telling her students about the Polar Express and getting them to realize how hard it’s gonna be.  But that’s for another excerpt–

Today we’re back in the Witch House, and even though Helena spoke in glowing terms about her minons, someone’s not convinced…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Helena was about the move on another student wearing the bright purple star of Åsgårdsreia raised her hand. She knew the student was right away: Stella Butagira, a girl from Uganda. Erywin mentioned during the Wednesday night dinner that the girl had proven to be a bit difficult and even slightly disruptive during her first Formulistic Magic class, though Erywin had yet to determine if it’d been because she was having difficulty adjusting to her new reality, or if she was just being a difficult person. “Yes, Stella?”

The girl folded her hands upon her desk and spoke in quick, clipped tones. “A girl in my coven said that those two can hurt people and even kill them. She told me I should watch out for them because they’re dangerous.” Stella eyed Annie with a dark stare. “She told a few of us that we should watch out for her, that she’s the most dangerous.”

Helena began running names of troublemakers through her head and focused upon the name almost immediately. “You wouldn’t have received this warning from a girl named Lisa by any chance?”

Stella nodded. “Yes, that was her name.”

Helena ignored the groans coming from her left and concentrated on the girl before her. “Allow me to give you a bit of information, Stella. The sooner you discount anything Lisa tells you, the better. She’s a bit of a troublemaker and an all-around pain in the arse, and what she’s telling your coven mates and you are ridiculous fabrications because she wants you to end up looking like a pain in the arse.” She waved her off. “As usual, Lisa has no fucking idea what she’s saying.”

 

So, the Bad Girl of Åsgårdsreia Coven is once again talking shit about a certain couple.  Yes, Lisa opened her mouth about the Lovey Doveys, but before you go, “She violated Annie’s judgement,” she didn’t actually say anything bad or untrue about them.  I mean, they can hurt and kill people–it’s just that no one’s seem then do that.  And of the two Annie is the most dangerous, so no lying there.

Don’t worry:  Annie won’t forget this.

Now–

 

Several students flinched when Helena swore, unaccustomed as yet to the fact that several of the instructors usually said whatever was on their mind while in class. Stella, however, recovered quickly from her initial shock and eyed her instructor with renewed vigor. “How do we know that they can do what you claim they can do? How do we know they’re not going to hurt one of us accidentally?” She eyed Annie once more and even pointed at her. “I heard she knew how to kill people before she even came to school.”

Helena was beginning to feel slightly exasperated by not only the questioning, but by the fact that Lisa had probably went out of her way to start spreading rumors among the A Levels about the possible danger presented by two C Level minions. Though she couldn’t take any direct action against Lisa, it wouldn’t be difficult to let her coven leader know that someone in her tower was violating the sanctity of The Fishbowl… “I would not have either of them assisting me with the things we are going to learn in this class if I didn’t think they were capable of controlling their crafting.” She rolled her shoulders to remove the tenseness that was building there. “That’s the end of that story.”

Stella wasn’t ready to let it go. “I want to see them do something.”

“What?” Helena’s eyes narrowed. “What do you think this is, a performance? You think we’re up here to entertain you?” The chuckle that emanated from deep in her throat sounded dark and ominous. “You had better begin reconsidering the words you’re allowing to come out of your mouth, or you’re going to find your proficiencies in trouble.”

“I understand, Professor.” It was obvious, however, that Stella didn’t understand. “I was only trying to make certain that none of us were in danger.”

There was only one way out of this situation short of threatening the student and Helena made the decision quickly. She took two steps back from the front of the classroom.

“Stella, come up here. Now.” As the girl left her seat Helena motioned at her minions. “Annie, I need you.”

 

There you go, Annie:  you’re needed.

The question is, will it be for something good?

‘Vikings’ Season 4 Part 2: Episode 19 Recap, “On The Eve”

It’s a war on two fronts…

The Snarking Dead TV Recaps

History's 'Vikings,' Season 4, Part 2, Episode 19, On The Eve, Lagertha and her shield maidens [Image via Jonathan Hession/HISTORY] Welcome to the penultimate episode of Vikings Season 4. Here’s what went down in Episode 19, entitled “On The Eve.”

Kattegat

Now, it is a good thing Lagertha has started building defenses around Kattegat, however, it probably would have been better is she had taken over Kattegat earlier because now Egil (Charlie Kelly) is working together with King Harald Finehair (Peter Franzen) to find all the weaknesses.

While Finehair is away with the Great Heathen Army, Episode 19 sees Egil attack Kattegat, sending in a decoy group while he attacks from further within Kattegat. Egil seems to think he knows all of Lagertha’s defenses, yet, she still has a few tricks up her sleeves and brings him down while Torvi (George Hirst) deals with the decoy. Unfortunately, this does not end well for Torvi, although she does appear to take a shallow breath there, so perhaps she isn’t really…

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