Last night was another thousand word session, my first back-to-back writings in about a month, and I nearly brought this scene to an end. Almost, but not quite. I’ll probably finish it up tonight.
But we start The Kali Test, as I call it, right here and now. Although I warn you, it’s probably going to be Wednesday before you see the kids kicking ass. Which means tomorrow are the rules and today–today is the setup…
(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)
The moment Helena entered Gwydion Manor she noticed something was different—specifically, instead of there being the half dozen or so students who normally took Advanced Self Defense class on Sunday morning, about forty students were standing around looking as if waiting for something to happen. Though she didn’t often come out to watch a self-defense class, she knew the only time these sort of crowds appeared in the Manor was when a judgment trial was about to take place.
And she knew for a fact that nothing that was about to happen in the next fifteen to twenty minutes had anything to do with the judgment trial.
Helena spotted Ramona off to one side of the testing area speaking with a student. She spotted someone else: Isis was here, standing about six meters away an examining something on her tablet display. It wasn’t normal for her to be here as it wasn’t necessary for her to be present during this or any test. Unless, of course, she was here to check out something that was needed for the test, like equipment she may have installed—
The moment she saw Ramona heading in her direction Helena raised her head to gain her attention. The martial arts instructor headed for her directly and greeted her with a slight smile. “Glad to see you made it.”
“Wouldn’t have missed this for the world.” Helena stepped closer to to her fellow instructor and turned so her back was towards the majority of the milling students. “What the hell is going on? Why are all these students here?”
“Oh, this.” Ramona looked around and switched to Esperanto to answer the question. “You can thank Isis for this. Apparently she sent out an email before breakfast inviting students to the Manor to watch a training exercise.” Her left eyebrow raised slowly as she turned her gaze in the direction of the Chief of Security. “It certainly wasn’t my idea.”
Helena was surprised to hear this, as it was unusual, if not out of the ordinary, for Isis to interject herself in daily classwork. The Chief of Security never became involved with the instructor’s classes unless there is a security concern that needed addressing—and even then she herself rarely became involved. Unless…
She pointed in the tall woman’s direction. “What’s she checking on her tablet?”
So what better way to kick this test off than to make it a public spectacle, yeah? It seems like a hit as well, since about a third of the student body has shown to watch Annie and Kerry beat up on the newly created undead, which means no pressure at all.
There’s also something else going on here–
Ramona nodded toward the test area. “Look out there; what you see?”
Helena tried to follow Isis’ gaze and immediately notice what was drawing her attention. “Damn, there’s a lot of Spy Eyes in the room.”
“Two dozen.” Ramona crossed her arms as she glanced over at Helena. “I was told last night after the Midnight Madness that one of Isis’ people going to be out here installing them for the test.”
Helena turned back toward Ramona, not caring if any students saw her speaking. “Why the hell would she be out here installing all these Spy Eyes?” Her eyes narrowed slightly. “What the hell’s going on?”
“Additional instructions.” Even though she was speaking in Esperanto Ramona kept her voice low so that the conversation didn’t travel beyond the two women. “When I sent off that acknowledgment the other day, I received additional instructions in return.”
“I’m not permitted to tell you until after this test.”
Helena felt her jaw tighten. “What is this shite?”
Ramona held up a hand. “Not only did I get instructions, but Isis received them as well; I only found out about them last night after the Midnight Madness when she and I were walking back to the Instructors Residence.” She held up her tablet. “This morning she gives me additional instructions on how this test is to be conducted: I’ve had about fifteen minutes to review them.” She lowered the tablet to her side and returned to speaking English. “It’s all that damn compartmentalization: they don’t want one group aware of what the others doing, all the way down the line.”
It was impossible for Helena to argue, for she was certain Ramona was correct. She knew the Guardians were far more secretive than any of their other contemporaries in The Foundation, but this sometimes led to the same sort of secrecy taking hold in each of the individual headquarters. And when it came to the Special Operations and Procedures Division, better known as SOP, they were known for sometimes taking secrecy to a new level.
But what bothered Helena the most wasn’t that Ramona and Isis were given separate duties after they were told of the test, it was that someone in San Francisco had decided that it wasn’t necessary for Helena to know about these changes.
She was about to ask Ramona another question when self-defense instructor nodded at something behind Helena. “Here they come.”
Spy Eyes are magical little floating cameras that can be thrown up to monitor just about anything–like, say, a flight by A Levels to nearly two miles above sea level. Here, two dozen are being used to keep track of the test, and that’s… well, it’s a lot. Someone doesn’t want to miss a beat.
And now we get an idea of why Ramona probably said, “That’s interesting.” Someone high up out in San Fran didn’t want Helena to know about changes in the test. And Isis did the same to Ramona. That damn compartmentalization the spooks love so much is being used like mad here, and pretty much all the players are feeling the effect.
Now Annie and Kerry are here, so listen up: the rules are gonna get laid down…