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?