Enter the Firing Line

This has been a crazy week, and yesterday was probably as cray-cray as any day I’ve seen–but I mean that in the best of ways.  It started out with a crying jag at seven-thirty, and ended with a swollen face that needed considerable icing–

I believe, "Stingin' like a mofo" is the technical term for how I felt.

I believe, “Stingin’ like a mofo” is the technical term for how I felt at the time.

But I got my brows shaped as well, and because of holidays and travel in the upcoming weeks, I don’t go back for more electrolysis until near the end of July, so I can give my face a rest from the last nine session of having a small probe pushed into your face followed by having a hair pulled out–something I actually watched for about three minutes last night.

On the way to and from my session I thought about the scene I’m working on now.  It goes to a place that was only mentioned in passing in the first book, but now we’re finally getting a look at the Firing Line.

Right there in the upper left-hand corner.  There's no reason why it's placed away from everything else--why do you ask?

Right there in the upper left-hand corner. There’s no reason why it’s placed away from everything else–why do you ask?

As mentioned in the scene Annie and Kerry where their to show Wednesday they could toss fireballs with the best of the D & D wizards, and if you don’t think a majority of students didn’t feel a bit of a chill watching those two light up those Beltane bonfires, you’re not thinking this out.  Mom and Dad Malibey should watch those personal questions in the future . . .

It plays out in the scene that Annie has requested Kerry’s presence here on a Thursday afternoon, which, you’ll eventually discover, is free time for them.  If you have free time, might as well fill it up, right?

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

The interior was as sparse and unadorned as the exterior. The entryway was a large viewing gallery situated behind physical glass enhanced with enchantments. Beyond that was nothing but open space sixty-five meters long and sixteen wide, insulated against every destructive magic known. They passed through the viewing gallery and headed into the main structure. They weren’t alone: Professor Chai was there standing next to the covered work table and two large, color coded cabinets. Annie wasn’t surprised: she expected to find the self defense and weapons instructor waiting for them. “Hello, Professor.”

“Hello, Annie.” Professor Chai tilted her head slightly to the right. “Hello, Kerry.”

“Hello, Professor.” His attention shifted to the cabinets next to the small instructor. “What are those for?”

 

Glad you asked, Kerry–

 

“Training.” She looked at Annie as she spoke. “Here you go, just as Helena requested: training torsos and homunculi.”

Annie gave the professor a quick nod. “May I see the torsos?”

“Certainly.” Professor Chai pulled back the covers revealing the two training torsos, which weren’t actual torsos as they were human-looking bodies minus limbs. They looked a great deal like the one she’s practiced on at home—though that one never had the slight discoloration in the center of the chest see saw now. “Beating Heart option?”

“Yes, just like on some of the homunculi you practiced on last year.” The Beating Heart option allowed students to see how close they were to “killing” their homunculus: a strong pulsing red meant they were in full health, but as their health deteriorated the pulse would grow weaker. “These, like the ones in the cabinets, are modified so the color becomes lighter as they lose blood. That will give you an idea of how well you’re doing with your spells.”

“Good.” Annie moved towards the nearest cabinet, which was dark blue. “Why the different colors?”

“Different homunculi. The ones in the blue cabinet are Roamers; they’ll wander about aimlessly and won’t take action against you. The ones in the red are Trackers, and you know all about those—”

Kerry moved closer to the red cabinets. “These are the Walkers, aren’t they?”

“Yes: the zombies Annie and you dispatched so readily last year.”

 

Boy, do Annie and Kerry remember those zombies:  the test that set them apart from the rest of their levelmates, put them on a different path than everyone else, and left more than a few students retching in the aftermath of the bloody mess they left behind.

But what’s happening here?

You’ll have to wait and see what else I have to say . . .

That Which is Known and Unknown

A funny thing happened on the way to finishing up my writing last night–I was reading.  That’s not really that funny, but it points out that research can sometime mean going back and finding new . . . things.

I was reading over some scenes from the last novel, a scene that I knew pretty well, or at least thought I did.  It’s a good scene, explained more than I remembered–and then I saw it.  A single line, maybe eight or night words–but the moment I read it I thought, “Well, damn:  I’m going to need to change that.”

Why, you may ask?  Because it was something stated that will affect a scene I haven’t written yet, and the moment I saw what I had written, it hit me that I’d have to, at the very least, modify the line to allow something that would be said in, oh, maybe another thirty thousand or so words.  So I need to do a little rectoning–not much, just change the line a bit–but since that novel isn’t out, no harm, no foul.

Though I also found two other students who I hadn’t accounted for, and I had to do a little retconing on one of them so they’d fit in with my attendance these days.  Look, I’m only a half a million words away from where I started two years ago, give me a break.

Speaking of breaks, Kerry’s up, and it looks like something’s happening–

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

“Hello, Annie; Kerry.”

Professor Semplen approached the table, appearing relaxed and friendly. Annie hadn’t seen much of him since their time in Berlin, though he did stop by and wish her an happy birthday as he had the year before. She through they could were missing each other—save during his class—because Kerry’s and her schedule was so different from the rest of the B Levels. “Hello, Professor.”

Kerry set his hand in his lap. “Hello, Professor.”

“I hope I’m not interrupting—” Professor Semplen approached the table and stood opposite his covenmates for a few seconds. “May I join you for a moment?”

The children exchanged glances before Kerry nodded. “Please, have a seat.”

The professor chose the chair across from Kerry. “I won’t stay long: I just wanted to catch you before you headed to the Flight School. I saw your name on the tryout sheet for today.”

 

Kerry and racing sign-up sheets.  Annie had a few thoughts on that, and all along she’s said he’s going to do it, so why act like he’s not?  Because he’s Kerry, that’s why.  But here he’s got this coven leader–and I should mentioned, one of the coven racing managers and the head of their coven team–coming to him, so it much be something important, right?

 

Kerry didn’t appear nervous or self-conscious about the question, though. “Yeah, I signed up for the seventeen-fifteen slot so I can get down to The Diamond after class.” He set his elbows against the table top and leaned forward. “Should I come down earlier?”

“Actually . . .” Professor Semplen shook his head. “You don’t need to come down at all.”

Kerry went from appearing concerned to looking worried. “Is—is there something wrong? What’s going on?”

Sitting where she was between them, Annie easily read Kerry’s and Professor Semplen’s expressions and body language. She saw the answer before Kerry because she was a bystander. “Kerry . . . I think the professor is saying you don’t need to try out for the team.”

Kerry stared at his girlfriend for about three seconds before the her statement made sense. He slowly turned to his coven leader. “Is that true, Professor?”

Professor Semplen adjusted his glasses. “Only four people signed up for try-outs, and I’d already decided that you were going to get one of the B Team slots.” He shrugged. “Based upon everything we’ve seen from last year, and everything you’ve done, I’ve no doubt you’ll do well.”

“But I’ve never competed before—”

“No? What about the test races you were in on the Green Line and The Diamond? What about your accident last October?” The professor looked away for a moment. “What about the flying you did during the Day of the Dead?”

As Kerry was about to respond to the professor’s questions, Annie spoke to him instead. “This has been on your mind for a while, and the closer you get to the moment of proving yourself, the more you feel you’re not going to do well.” Her grin turned into a near smirk. “Once you wrapped your mind around magic you never had a problem. And you won’t have a problem with racing. Do you know what my father says?”

The fact that Annie was bringing up her father told Kerry all he needed to know about what she was going to say. “What?”

“Don’t worry about racing: just race.” She reached over and lightly touched his arm. “Professor Semplen is right: he doesn’t need to see you try out, my love. The moment the track lights turn green, you’ll know what to do.”

 

Annie never brings up her father unless it’s important, and here she’s quoting him to put his mind at ease.  But she’s known all along that he’d make the team–and given there are so few people in their coven to try out for those three slots, and Kerry is one of the best up and coming fliers, that it was ridiculous to believe he wouldn’t.  So after that all that remains is to tell him to show up Sunday to get fitted for his racing gear and get checked out on a Class 2–which he already has–and be ready to race in two weeks–

If he were on the A Team he's probably start next Saturday.  I know because . . . I know.

If he were on the A Team he’s probably start next Saturday. I know because . . . I know.

All that remains now is for Annie and Kerry to have a small, quiet moment together . . .

 

Once Professor Semplen was out of hearing range, Annie moved her chair closer to Kerry so that she didn’t have lean in order to touch his arm. “Well . . .”

Kerry looked down, full well knowing what was coming. “Yes?”

“Do I get to say I told you so?”

He lifted her hand from his arm. “Sweetie—” He kissed her hand tenderly. “You’ve been telling me that since I said I may go out.”

Annie chuckled. “You know I’m always right, my love.”

He laughed along with her. “I know, Sweetie. You’d think I’d get that by now.”

 

. . . and bring about the end of the chapter.

End of the chapter?  Yep.  Sure is.

End of the chapter? Yep. Sure is.

Now on to nine, and we’re going see some crazy here, because you can probably guess what Dark Witch Instruction is about–or maybe not.  You’ll just have to tune in and hope I write after my face burning tonight.

To There and Back Again

For once I was recharged and ready to go yesterday.  I mean, I was tired after work, but only because it was as long, boring day, and I wanted to get home bad.  But there were things to do:  a paper to edit (okay, I wasn’t really into that one), a novel to write, and a intro to the television reviews I’m going to do.  I got in there and did them.  Did them hard.  Got the paper out of the way, wrote up almost nine hundred words on my intro, then turned around and added another six hundred and sixty four words to the novel.  Really, I tried making it to sixty-six, but it didn’t happen.  Maybe next time.

Another goal was reached as well:  seventy thousand words passed.  And this time in twelve days instead of fifteen.  I had to make up for lost time, right?

It only seems like six weeks ago this had just become a novel.

It only seems like six weeks ago this had just become a novel.

The rate at which I’m working leads me to believe I’ll finish Act One in a couple of weeks–probably during the time when I’m back home in Indiana.  If this is true, then the first act will end up somewhere between eighty and eighty-five thousand words, and the other two acts, if the same size, will pull the novel in at a quarter of a million words.  Though that can change, because I believe Act Three might just end up a little bigger than the others.

Doesn’t matter.  At least I can release this book as one book, and not as a multi-volume encyclopedia.  It’s easier to read that way.

And what about those six hundred words?  Well, they’re right down here, and it’s a bit of a continuation for Annie . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie remembered the first time Kerry and she walked into the Dining Hall with their flight gear on and their brooms in hand—the first Saturday after the first week of classes. She’d visited Deanna in Memory’s End while Kerry was with Vicky getting checked out on an Espinoza. He later met her as she was walking back to The Pentagram and convinced her to fly around the school grounds with him.

Mid-way through their day they buzzed the Great Hall, landed in the garden, and went inside for lunch. Though Kerry didn’t seem to notice, Annie was keenly aware that at least a third of the students in the hall watched them as they walked to their then always-reserved table, set down their brooms, then unzipped their flight jackets as they sat and waited to order.

Since then they’d done the same thing many times, including twice in the last month since returning to school. Only as they entered the Dining Hall this time, Annie felt something different. It was akin to the buzz she noticed the first time the walked in like this, as if they were once more drawing attention to themselves by simply looking different.

It’s entirely possible people know something about me and my training. Most of the B Levels were aware that she was spending time with Isis in the Aerodrome, and that Kerry had been with her the first time, and today. She figured there were rumors floating about, but so far nothing had reached her ears. Whenever anyone asked either of them what she or they were doing, the answer was always the same: flying. Not that we’re misleading anyone with that answer . . .

Kerry held her seat and waited for her to get comfortable before taking the seat to her right. “You still hungry?”

“More now.” Annie unzipped her jacket, shrugged it off, and hung it on the back of her seat. “Particularly after that second flight.”

“Yeah.” Kerry retrieved the short lunch menu in the center of their table. “I wasn’t expecting a quick trip to Ipswich after getting back to the Aerodrome.”

Annie hadn’t either. Upon returning to the school they landed inside the Aerodrome—entering through the same roof entrance Annie had used the week before—and spent about twenty minutes discussing the flight. After going over a few minor issues, Isis told Kerry to saddle up once more, and motioned for Annie to follow her into the open air beyond the Aerodrome.

The moment they were outside they flew up to five hundred meters and struck out on a westerly course. They flew on a direct course for ten kilometers to the train station at Ipswich, paused there for about five minutes so everyone could get their bearings, then covered a fast five kilometers to the Crane Estate at Castle Hill. They touched down in the gardens far away from the mansion, walked around for about thirty minutes, then returned directly to the school. Isis pushed Annie on this last leg, getting her speed up to near one hundred and twenty kilometers and hour, a third more than the sixty and seventy kilometers and hour they’d flown on the first flight.

 

That route was easy to figure out–

Because you know I did.

Because you know I did.

And though not stated above, it was nearly thirty-two kilometers, or twenty miles, right on the dot.  An interesting thing here is the Castle Hill/Crane Estate area.  If you’ve seen The Witches of Eastwick or Flowers in the Attic, you’ve seen the house:  it was the estate used in both movies.  You can also do a wedding there if you have the money.

Or, if you're Annie, Kerry, and Isis, fly in and see the place from this angle.

Or, if you’re Annie, Kerry, and Isis, fly in and see the place from this angle.

Who know, there might be something important about this house–like, owned by The Foundation, or something?  Or maybe someone in the novel will get married there–

Let me see:  are there any couples in this story?

Humans: Intro to the Parallel Present of Synths.

Here’s my first guess post over on Author Rachel Tsoumbakos’ blog.  I’ll be over there for the next sixteen weeks doing reviews of two televisions shows.  Don’t worry:  I’m not going anywhere from here.  You don’t get rid of me that easy.

Here’s my intro to the AMC shows Humans.

The Normalcy Over Lovecraft Country

Today I did my best to come up with a H. P. Lovecraft-inspired title, because today’s scene talks a little about that particular gentleman’s work.  Not a lot, more of a general feel.  But the strangeness is sort of a point in the scene, and how it leads somewhere else.

This is all Kerry’s scene, more or less.  It’s all about observations, about what you see and what it’s doing to you.  Kerry spent nearly all of the last book looking for himself and his memories, and once they were found, he reverted back to the kid he sort of is deep down inside:  intelligent and caring, but awkward at the same time.  Except around certain people, as you’ll see.

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

It was about the time he was flying six hundred meters over Pingree School on the leg leading to the Hamilton/Wenham MBTA station that Kerry realized how much fun he was having. Within the confines of the walls of the School of Salem it was possible to fly around without giving thought to where he was, or where he was going, because when one was restricted to fifteen square kilometers, it was possible to fly around without a plan.

Outside the walls it was as completely different story. For one, you couldn’t fly anywhere without logging a flight plan with the Fight School. After that, it was necessary to get approval from Vicky and Isis, both for the plan and for permission to fly alone, or with other people. Kerry knew five fliers from last year’s Basic Flight who were denied permission to fly outside the school because they hadn’t perfected their light bending skills, and couldn’t use Unseen Flight Protocols during daylight hours. When flying in a school group using UFP was easy, because Vicky would enchant your broom if you couldn’t make yourself unseen, but once out on your own it was Bend Light or Stay Home.

Using UFP was never a problem for Annie and him. They were doing it now, and Isis had even mentioned that because they were light benders Annie’s Flight education would get fast tracked because she could venture out beyond the school and take her solo flights a year early.

Right now they were flying without a plan—or, he thought, Isis and Annie were flying on a plan, and all he had to do was follow and watch. He kept an eye on his HUD to see if Annie’s altitude was bouncing, because it was one of his duties as a chase pilot to monitor things like Annie speed, altitude, course, and her personal condition.

That last was an important point, and it was during Advanced Flight 1 a couple of weeks before that Vicky pulled him aside and reinforced the notion that when he flew with Annie during her solo flights, his most important job was to watch for any indications that she was growing tired and/or disoriented . . .

Isis’ voice pulled him back to reality. “Okay, Overflight, we’re going to descend to four hundred meters. Athena, keep an eye on your altimeter. Starbuck, you still with us?”

Kerry waved in case one of both fliers in front were watching him in their rear view mirrors. “Totally hanging with you, Sekhmet.” He followed them lower as they approached South Hamilton and the train station. He saw Annie wave her right hand, letting him know they were slowing, and reduced speed as they leveled out just a touch over four hundred meters.

 

Here’s the area they’re traveling–

Welcome to the scene of the crime, so to speak.

Welcome to the scene of the crime, so to speak.

Just a short stretch, almost two and a half miles, or about four kilometers.  And he’s just hanging back there, watching, enjoying, and thinking . . .

 

He figured out what was going to happen: Isis was bringing the group—call sign Salem Overflight—to a dead stop over the train station so she could speak with Annie and impart a bit more wisdom. Kerry didn’t mind: during the previous moments he sat back and enjoyed the sights. And now that the overcast they’d started with almost an hour earlier was vanishing, the view was becoming spectacular.

Not only did he like flying outside the walls, but as he’d once told Annie there was something incredible about flying over Lovecraft Country. If he concentrated hard enough, he could imagine the land below to co-exist with the stories he’d grown up reading. Such was his knowledge that, at this moment, they should be sitting almost directly over the Miskatonic River, and their course from here would, in that alternate world, have them following the river until they were on the outskirts of Arkham.

For a moment he figured it would be interesting to overfly a modern-day Arkham and the Miskatonic University—and then he remembered the moment eleven months ago when he faced off against a creature right out of a Lovecraft story in order to save a wingmate’s life, and how that incident nearly killed him. On second thought, running into Deep Oneseven if I do know magicwouldn’t be so much interesting as terrifying

 

Lovecraft Country has come up before in the first novel:  Kerry mentioned it, and so did Helena, because with the last name of Lovecraft people either believe her to be related to one of the school founders, or to the writer.

Lovecraft Country is a real thing:  it’s the New England the ‘ol H. P. wrote about in his horror stories, and his biggest additions–besides monsters that would drive you insane before you died–were towns and rivers that don’t exist in that area.  The towns of Arkham and Innsmouth are two such towns, and if that first name sounds real familiar to people who know geek culture, it’s because it’s the location of the Arkham Asylum, which appeared in a couple of Lovecraft’s stories, and later became immortalized as the easiest place to bust out of if you’re a villain in the Batman Universe.  It’s also based upon a real location in that particular area of the world, and believe it or not, you’ll see it later in the novel.

Come for the beautiful scenery, stay because you were eaten by a monster.

Come for the beautiful scenery, stay because you were eaten by a monster.

Arkham was also the home, as Kerry pointed out, of Miskatonic University, the home of one of the best preserved copies of original Necronomicon, or the best known book that never existed.  The book that tells all the secrets Man Was Not Meant To Know, and which will drive you literally insane as you read it.  The book doesn’t exist in The Foundation World, either, because Lovecraft is a writer there as well, so there’s no way such a tome would exist at Salem.  No, really . . . well, maybe.  You’ll find out someday.

Anyway, it’s about this time, while Kerry’s chillin’ in mid-air, that someone starts pestering him–

 

“Starbuck, this is Carrier. Switch over to private. Over.”

Vicky’s voice was tiny in his right ear, that way so he wouldn’t become distracted by Vicky if Isis and Annie were also speaking. He double-tapped a point directly above his right ear, which would set the Overflight conversation to a soft hear-only, allowing him to speak privately with Vicky. “I’m here, Carrier. Go ahead. Over.”

Carrier’s question was right to the point. “How are they looking?”

“Well . . .” He sat upright on the saddle. “Sekhmet looks like she’s been doing this awhile, so she’s pretty good. Over.”

“Yeah, I hear that. And what about your other flier? Over.”

“Athena looks good, too.” He lifted his goggles and squinted at both women speaking to each other as they hovered five meters away. “She’s had a couple of issues with keeping altitude, but nothing major. Over.”

“That’s to be expected. It’s easier to maintain altitude when you’re on a broom, because of your orientation.” There was a nearly five second pause, and Kerry wondered if Vicky was going to pass the conversation to him when she continued. “But she looks good? Endurance-wise, I mean. Over.”

It had been stressed many times that Kerry be honest in his appraisals of Annie’s status and condition, and Vicky assured him that lying wouldn’t protect Annie, but hurt her in the long run. “Her endurance is great: I haven’t seen anything that indicates she’s struggling staying airborne.” He lifted his goggles away from his face. “Everything I’ve so far tells me she’s got this, Carrier.” He crossed his arms and smiled. “Over.”

Kerry expected Carrier to tell him to carry on and give him an over and out, but he got something completely different. “You’re really proud of her, aren’t you, Kerry?”

“You’re breaking protocol, Carrier.” His chuckle turned into a laugh. “Isis is gonna be mad if she finds out.”

“I set flight protocol, not her.” Vicky laughed right along with her student. “I’ll ground her if she doesn’t like how I do things.”

“Well, there is that.”

A loud sigh came over the comm. “You gonna answer my question? Over.”

“I’ll answer: you know I’m proud of her.” He watched Annie as he spoke. “Not only is she an incredible witch and sorceress, but she’s able to do this as well as pilot a broom.” He imaged his face softening as he began thinking of all the things that he loved about her. “And there’s all the ways she’s helped me out, before and after starting school.” He started rocking slowly upon his seat. “She’s done a lot to make me who I am. That’s quite a lot to love.”

“Love.” The tapping of her nails against a counter was clearly audible over the comm. “That’s the first time I’ve heard you say that word aloud.”

“I’ve said it before—”

“Not in front of me.”

Kerry nodded slowly to himself. “You’re probably right. Or if I had, I didn’t mean it like I, you know—”

“Just meant how it was just said?”

“Yeah.”

“I get what you mean, Starbuck.” Vicky’s voice became softer, as if she weren’t alone. “A couple of years ago I’ll bet you never counted that this would be your life.”

He looked down. “You mean sitting on the modern version of a witch’s broom four hundred meters above a town in eastern Massachusetts?”

“That’s one thing, yeah. You know what I mean: this wasn’t the sort of life you expected by the time you were twelve—right?”

 

Like Kerry, Vicky comes from a Normal background.  She’s been married, divorced, remarried, and has two kids.  And suddenly she starts bringing up things . . .

 

It took Kerry a few seconds to fully understand what Vicky meant, because it was easy to forget, unless reminded, that some of the instructors came from beginnings much like his. “You speaking from experience, Nightwitch?”

“Oh, hell yes. I turned eleven in November, 1980, and a couple of months later, right after the new year started, The Foundation comes and tells my parent they were paying for me to go to an exclusive school out on the east coast.” Kerry could almost see her shaking her head. “They couldn’t wait to get me on that plane heading to Boston.”

“My parents were sort of the same way—they heard ‘free education’ and that was all they needed to hear.” Kerry turned and looked off in the direction of the Atlantic and Cape Ann. “I mean, about a minute after I read the material I was given—”

“Which was bull.”

“But it was the right bull . . . After I read that, there was no way I wanted to go back to Normal school.”

“I didn’t know what I wanted. I wasn’t worldly at all, and I figured I’d go the same route as my older sister: find a nice Jewish boy, eventually get married and have kids.”

“I didn’t know you had a sister.” Kerry always loved discovering new things about the people around him.

“Yeah: seven years older than me. While I was planing to go to school, she was planing to go to the same college as her boyfriend.” She sighed long and low. “That’s what she always talked about back then: get a degree in business admin, get married, maybe open a small so she could set her own hours and be close to home.” There was a single chortle from her end. “I’ll tell you what, though: I headed out east with this idea that I was heading for one of those exclusive boarding schools you saw on TV and in the movies, and that notion did a one-eighty and departed quickly the moment I saw those outer gates.”

“Yeah—” Kerry laughed. “Was a bit like heading into Jurassic Park, wasn’t it?”

“That was ten years before my time; it was more like King Kong to me.” There was a sharp intake of breath. “By the time I walked through Founder’s Gate I was like, ‘Oy vey, what have you gotten yourself into?’”

Her reaction brought back some of his own feeling upon walking up to the Great Hall. “I know what you mean. But everything turned out okay for you, didn’t it?”

“Oh, yeah, but it took about a month before I got it together and started dealing with this whole ‘You’re a witch’ thing.” Kerry heard her breathing slow on the other end of the comm. “It became the new normal for me; I imagine it became the same thing for you.”

 

“The new normal.”  That’s a theme in this book:  what is and isn’t normal.  One of the themes of Lovecraft’s stories was that while everything looked normal, but nothing really was:  there was always something just beyond the edge of knowledge that would scare the shit out of people if they ever learned of its existence.  The whole of the School of Salem is like that:  image the people living just outside the walls who think they live next to a forest preserve, and what they’d do if they actually knew of what lay beyond those high walls they can’t see.

It’s right here that Kerry thinks about his “new normal” and tells Vicky what’s on his mind . . .

 

It was Kerry’s moment to sigh as he considered Vicky’s statement. There were moments after arriving at Salem when he’d believed much the same way as her, while at the same time he had an advantage that others didn’t have . . . “You know—”

“Yes?”

“Six years ago I was having a dream where I read to a girl. I knew the girl—I’d seen her before—but I’d never really done anything with her, and after that moment I really wanted to know as much about her as possible. I didn’t see her as much as I wanted, but I always looked for her.

“Four years ago she came back to my dreams and she lifted me out of what was turning into the worst moments of my life. She made me feel good; she make me smile. We told each other our names that night, and I found out that she wasn’t just a dream, she was a real person who was able to prove her existence.

“Three years ago we meet again in a dream and I told her I loved her, that I’d loved her for a while, and I found out she’d loved me even longer. A few months after that she told me that she was a witch, and I accepted it like I’d done everything else up to that point.”

He leaned forward, gripping the frame of his broom. “In the last year I forgot Annie, then met her in person. We came to school together and I found out I’m a witch and sorceress She helped me, I helped her, and I fell in love with her all over again. I’ve helped in the defense of the school; I’ve fought a monster; I’ve saved people. But most of all—” His face broke into a wide grin. “—I kissed Annie two miles up while everyone at school watched.”

Vicky was smiled, too, though there was no one to see. “You’re proudest moment, huh?”

“One of them. The point is—” He set his elbow against his thigh and rested his chin in his hand. “My normal had changed a long time before I ever got to Salem, and it’s all because of Annie and our experiences. Even though I didn’t remember her there was some memory that was keeping me from freaking out . . .” He saw Annie looking his way and he smiled. “She helped make this my normal.”

Isis’ voice radiated soft and low from the left side of Kerry’s helmet. “You still with us, Starbuck?”

 

Yes, he is, and they Overflight progresses from there.

It’s rather strange how Kerry relates his feelings to Vicky, how easily he speaks with her and Erywin as if they were his equals, and not instructors.  Given the right moments, he doesn’t mind opening up to them, and there’s no way one could imagine him having the same conversation above with his mother.  Even if mom did know he was a witch, given the lack of affection in that household, he could never open up to is mother or father.  At his point it seems impossible.

But there’s more in his works.  Deep down inside Kerry understood that the strangeness around him meant something.  It’s not everyday that someone meets a girl in their dreams, finds out they’re real, finds out they visit at least once or twice a week, falls in love with said girl and discovers she loves him, too, and then, when all that goes by, learns that she’s a witch.  He’s never given any indication that he found any of this strange and unusual, whereas most boy would probably have run off screaming that they were going nuts.  “I’m still here; I haven’t run off,” is something Kerry told Annie a couple of times, and it was true all through their dream relation before they met.

Kerry’s always taken the strangeness around him for granted.  Is it because he has been and is in love with Annie that he doesn’t mind the strangeness?

Or has he always been one of those humans who say what Lay Beyond without going insane?

A Blasting From the Past

Here it was yesterday, when I was putting up the excerpt, that I mentioned, “I should tell you some day about how Isis helped save the school.”  I even mentioned that I might do that today.  Well . . . today is here, and for once I’ve kept my word.

Back during July Camp Nano, 2013, I decided to write the actual first novel of The Foundation Chronicles.  Reason for that was I needed to get a feel for the location and the characters, but mostly I wanted to set down a certain event in the school’s history that affected a hell of a lot of people:  The Scouring.  As I’ve mentioned to others, The Scouring really went on for about a year.  It started with an internal attack on Salem, performed by a group of deep-cover Deconstructors and some student followers, and came to a head on 11 September, 2001, with the attack on the World Trade Center.  At that The Foundation said, “Screw this,” and spent the next year going scorched earth on the Deconstructors, and when it was over they were no longer a problem–or so we thought until ten years later and the Day of the Dead attacks around the world.

The events at Salem were traumatic, and with good reason:  there was a lot of death going down.  You’ll see why in a moment, but let me get things set up first with the staff roster, so you know who the players are:

It's always easier to know the players when you have the cards.

It’s always easier to know the players when you have the cards.

Staff is on the left and instructors are on the right.  Immediately you’ll notice there are a lot more men teaching.  On the staff side, three of the four positions are held by name, the inverse of what it is in my current novels.  You’ll also see that someone in charge of spirits and apparitions is running Jessica’s coven, Ceridwen, which is almost unheard of as well, as they are known for their transformation experts.  You’ll recognize four people as well:  Ramona Chai–this was her first year teaching–Matthias, Jessica, Erywin–who is the longest teaching instructor in the current books, followed by Jessica–and Madeline.  You’ll also see Maddie’s husband David, and if you’ve been keeping up on current events, you’ll know you don’t see him all the way to the end of this book . . .

That was the set-up there.  Where are Isis and Wednesday?  They were students.  So was Deanna, who also played an important part in the defense of the school.  But right now we will see what those first two did to keep the school safe.  Here is the scene that tells it all, from start to finish, with a few interjections from me at times.  Enjoy.

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles:  The Scouring, copyright 2013 by Cassidy Frazee)

The Great Flight

As she’d planed Isis headed for the Great Hall less than a minute after Professor Greenfield had dropped her off at Cernunnos Tower. She didn’t want to hold up and wait to see what was going to happen: she wanted to see what was happening. Yes, it was dangerous, but she thought she could help in some fashion—

She could also see what Cleo and Wednesday were doing. Knowing them, they were probably checking each tower making certain everything was good—or at least safe.

The door to the West Transept eased open with but a whisper. Isis tip-toed inside, listening. She thought she heard running, but since everything here was stone unless someone was in some hard-soled street shoes, one wouldn’t hear anything.

Except Isis did hear running. Followed by the sharp cracks of energy spells striking something: could be walls, could be floors or railing . . .

Could be something else.

Standing in the West Transept she heard doors slam, heard more energy spells launched. There was yelling and cursing; Isis recognized one of the voices as that of Chief of Security Heidenberg, and while she wasn’t one hundred percent certain, she though the other voice might be—

“Will you get off my ass?” she heard Heidenberg scream. Though she’d stepped out from the transept hallway, the jutting overhang of the second floor walkway hid her. “You’re the headmaster! You should have your own bypass!”

“You were the one shooting at her,” Headmaster Hearst replied, his voice becoming more of a low growl than a shout. “I thought you were suppose to be a dead shot.”

“You don’t need to worry—” His grunt carried throughout the Rotunda. “She’ll be dead soon. Give me a second—” He grunted once more. “I’ll have this shied down in no time.

There was more conversation, but Isis wasn’t listening. She pressed herself into the shadows as she heard the East Transept entrance open and someone enter the building. Isis was good at hiding: there weren’t many things she’d learned in the Sorcery and Black Magic class, but the Blend With Darkness spell was one that she could do in her sleep.

 

Blend With Darkness is a spell that hasn’t been touched on yet, but it’s only a matter of time.  It’s another of those shadow spells that allows you to become one with the shadow, or the night if you’re Batman, and remain unseen.  Think of it as taking a shadow and wrapping it around you, and then just creeping along against the walls so you remain unseen–that’s Blend With Darkness.  Fun stuff, right.

The reason the Headmaster and the Chief of Security are trying to get into the library–which has been locked down by the librarian–is because they were going to destroy everything inside.  Given there are like forty thousand books on so many different subjects, most of them related to magic, and some of them one of a kind books, consuming the library at Salem would have been a tremendous loss.

 

The person walking into the Rotunda was a girl, probably a student. Isis thought she recognized the attire, but it wasn’t until the person was almost in whatever passed for light in the Rotunda that she saw it was Wednesday. Isis saw something else, too: blood. All over Wednesday’s face and chest and shoulder—

What the hell? Isis watched Wednesday walking out from the shelter of the East Transept, and the overhang walkway of the second floor. In a matter of seconds she was going to be in the Rotunda, and from where Wends would be standing, Hearst and Heidenberg—who sounded like they were still working hard on getting into the library—would likely see her, even in the darkness.

If they were throwing spells at someone, then they were trying to stop someone, she thought. And if they see Wends . . .

There was a loud explosion from outside: Isis felt the vibration through the soles of her feet. What ever had just blow had been close, and there were only a few things close by that weren’t inside the Great Hall. Isis didn’t think the eruption came from behind her, so it wasn’t something in the west garden—or her coven tower. It felt like—

“Sounds like Ram took care of Åsgårdsreia,” Hearst said. Isis’ stomach clutched as she heard the headmaster ask the chief of security, “Are you about done?”

 

Ram is Nawaazish Ram, who was the Coven Leader of Åsgårdsreia.  That explosion Isis felt–Ram taking “care of Åsgårdsreia”?  He blew it up the tower, with the sleeping students, or those going to sleep, inside.  Deanna is in Åsgårdsreia Tower at the time, doing her best to get everyone out.  But that’s another story . . .

 

That was her cue to move. Keeping the Blend With Darkness spell about her, she flew across the Rotunda, staying low to the ground so the shadows there would keep her hidden. Flying was the fastest way across the tremendous expanse, getting her to Wednesday before the girl could wander out where she could be seen.

She flew in behind Wednesday and grabbed her around the shoulders. She landed and pulled the girl back into the transept wall closest to the Northeast Stairs. Isis dropped her spell and whispered in her friend’s ear, “Wends, it’s me.”

The light shock that had enfolded Wednesday since the incident at Blodeuwedd Tower vaporized as soon as she heard Isis’ voice. “Ice,” she whispered back. “God, I’m glad it’s you!”

Now that she was close to her friend, Isis could better see the bloody condition of her face and night clothing. “Damn! What happened?”

Wednesday saw no need to dance around the truth. “Cleo’s dead.”

Isis found it difficult to speak. “She’s dead?”

“So’s Professor Warnstedt. Dessauer killed them both.”

So Wends was right. Isis was now worried about Professor Greenfield, wondering if she’d found one of the other two . . . “Wait: where’s Dessauer?”

“I killed him.” Wednesday stood, keeping her back pressed against the wall. “I locked down Blodeuwedd, then went and locked down Mórrígan.” She turned her head so she could see Isis. “Then I came here, ‘cause . . .” Her voice caught in her throat. “It was the fastest way to go to find you.”

 

Wednesday is covered in blood because she was standing next to Cleo–who was a close friend of Isis’–and Professor Warnstedt–the Coven Leader of Blodeuwedd–when both pretty much exploded.  At least their head and chest did, respectively.  Wednesday then killed Dessauer by wrapping him in a mini-tornado of dirt and stone, and flaying him alive.  Let me point out here:  Professor Dessauer was not only the Coven Leader of Mórrígan, but the Head Sorceress.  And Wednesday killed him.  This is why it’s said if you really know your magic, you can do anything, and even a witch with a mastery of most common spells is not a person with whom to trifle.

She kept telling people to wait to see who would die.  She got tired of waiting.

She kept telling people to wait to see who would die. She got tired of waiting.

 

Though now wasn’t the time to say she was touched, Isis was. She’d just discovered she’d lost one of her close friends, and it was a blow that was hammering at her heart. For Wednesday to say she’d come looking for Isis, after everything that had happened to her the last few minutes, meant far too much for her to vocalize.

There wasn’t time for that, though. On the second floor the Hearst was getting tired of the lack of process by his Chief of Security. “I thought you said you were going to break through this,” he said in a loud, pissed off voice.

Heidenberg wasn’t in the mood to fight with the headmaster. “I am almost there!”

“You better break through it now, goddammit—”

Cause if you don’t, Isis thought, you’re going to move on to something elseand I think I know what that is . . . “Wends—” She crowded next to her and looked past her, past the expanse of the Rotunda, to the opening on the second floor directly across from where they stood. “We gotta get up to the security station.”

Wednesday knew about the security center, and she knew of the time Isis had spent there this year as an intern: this newest part was confusing, however. “Why?”

“I have . . .” Oh, god, don’t say that: it’s such a cliché. “I think something really bad is going to happen. At night the outer defense screens are left on to keep people from coming in over the wall, either flying or teleporting.” She stepped in front of Wednesday. “The headmaster and Heidenburg is up there; I think they went after the librarian—”

And they did.  Along with the doctor as well–the same one who trained Coraline.

Now, why does Isis want to get up to the Security Station?  Because she interned at the Security Center this year of schooling.  However, a few weeks before the events here, the Chief of Security told her she wasn’t needed any longer, and revoked all her access.  But this is one of the reasons Isis knows about school security:  she was trained here.  And she’s a smart girl . . .

 

“River?” Wednesday like the Head Librarian a great deal, and couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to hurt her—like they wouldn’t hurt Cleo . . . “She’s up there?”

“I don’t know. I came in, it sounded like someone was shooting off spells.” She leaned in close to her friend. “I’m afraid they’re going to pulled down the outer screens.”

Wednesday didn’t need to ask more questions. “You think others are coming.”

“Maybe.” She looked down, sighing. “Something blew up—”

“I heard it.”

“They’ve killed students.” Isis took one step back. “I think they’re going to kill everyone.”

The fear hit as soon as Isis was through speaking. Wednesday, covered with the blood of her friends, and a little from their killer, didn’t want to die. She didn’t want to be here, but she didn’t expect she could just walk out the main gate right this moment, either. “What do we have to do?” she asked, her voice grave.

Isis thought it best not to say too much. “Turn around and take a step away from the wall.”

Wednesday did as she was told. “Okay, now—whuuuu!”

Isis started hovering as soon as Wednesday turned around. She wrapped her legs firmly around Wednesday’s waist before grabbing her under the arms. Once she had her, Isis lifted them both off the ground, turned, and sailed into the Rotunda.

 

And here we go:  Isis flying through the Great Hall holding on to Wednesday for dear life.

 

She hadn’t put her shadow spell up, but she didn’t need to, because they were across the Rotunda in a matter of seconds, then a turn to the left and down the West Corridor towards the Atrium—

Attack spells went off around them, and Isis heard a yell from somewhere behind them. She wasn’t sure who was yelling, but it didn’t matter. She moved up and down as they headed away from the Rotunda.

Wednesday was too shocked to be scared; the shots landing near them hadn’t even registered. “What are you going to do?”

They slowed as they entered the Atrium by the Main Entrance. “You need to do that portal thing you do.”

“What?” A few months before Wednesday had mastered the Mater Transition spell, which would allow a person to move through a physical barrier. Professor Ram had been extremely surprised that she, a C Level, could do something that E and F Levels couldn’t master; she now wondered if there was more than surprise behind some of the things he’d said at the time . . . “Yeah, I can do it, but—”

Isis crossed the Atrium and entered the East Corridor, turning north and accelerating. “But my ass. We’re going to have about three seconds for you to phase us through, ‘cause I got a feeling that we’re racing to get to the center now.”

Close to the ground floor, the Bell Tower entrance flashed by. “I can’t do it that fast!”

“Then we’re gonna crash into the wall.” Isis hugged her friend. “Nice to know you, Wends.”

“You can’t do this!” Wednesday didn’t realize she was shouting, didn’t know how her voice was carrying. “There’s no time!”

“Then you better find it—”

Both girls shot out into the Rotunda. Isis saw the Headmaster Hearst and Heidenberg standing near the Northwest Staircase, both looking as if they were going to blast them. Hope you’re ready, she thought as she altered her course and headed for a wall spot at the third floor level. “Now!” she yelled, then half-closed her eyes.

Isis felt the wall approaching more than saw it. She half expected to slam into stone and brick, feel her skull cave in as her body crumpled, and maybe remain conscious long enough to feel their impact upon the floor below.

Instead there was the momentary feeling of being pushed through something cold, then they were hitting a floor and skidding to a stop in the middle of some heavy darkness.

They’d made it; they were in the upper storage room directly over the Security Center. Isis had been here once to put file some old equipment away, but she was aware there was a staircase here, somewhere, going to the second floor, and then they only had to go down the corridor.

She heard Wednesday ask, “Were are we?”

Isis was still holding on to her after their passage thought the wall. “We’re over the Security Center—second floor.”

“We’re over the center?”

“Yeah, we—”

They fell out of the darkness and into the light, hitting the floor below hard. Isis hadn’t expected to drop like that, so she didn’t have time to soften their fall— She landed on top of Wednesday, who started screaming. “Wends—”

Here eyes were filled with tears. “Do what you have to do!” She shot Isis a worried look. “Go!”

All the computer monitors were on, the screen savers going. Isis jiggled the mouse and brought one to life, then pulled up a log-in screen. She’d been told her information wasn’t in the system any longer, but . . . She typed in the system admin ID, then the password. She’d used this more than a few times to monitor things, and Isis figured Heidenberg hadn’t changed those after revoking her personal access.

In two seconds she was on the system admin screen. “I’m in!” she squealed.

Gasping for air, Wednesday said, “Get-get everything up.”

Isis brought up a schematic for the school and the grounds. She checked the defense shields; they were low but still in place. She scaled them to one hundred percent and locked down all outside access gates. She activated the anti-teleportation spells; those might hurt the instructors, but it would hurt the bad guys just as much. Lastly, she locked down most of the Great Hall: the Dining Hall, the Hospital, the Admin Wing, the Library, the Security Section—all locked down, all inaccessible without the proper ID.

She took a few seconds to deactivate Heidenberg’s profile, so even if he did know an override he couldn’t used them from any terminal. Lastly she changed the system admin password, then logged in on another terminal before shutting down the one she had used to perform all this chicanery.

Only then did she activate the alarms, which—not surprisingly—had been deactivated.

 

I’ve done a bit of security on computers, and most places where I worked never changed the System Admin signon, so the password was always the same, and it was set never to expire:  who wants to mess up and forget that password?  Since the Chief of Security never figured on Isis getting into the security center again, why change anything?  It’s really how people are.

And why did Isis know that login anyway?  Because she was probably asked to do some work on the servers that required System Admin access, and it was given to her.  And the password wasn’t changed after that because people are lazy.  And, no:  it wasn’t 123456.  They’re not that lazy.  But I have been at jobs where the Sys Admin password was the one that came with the computer, and that meant it was the same as the profile.  Like I said:  lazy.

 

Isis spun around, a big smile on her face. “We did it! God, Wend—oh, shit!” She fell to her knees next to her friend, who was laid out on her back. She examined Wednesday’s right leg: it was broken two-thirds of the way down her thigh and bent at a strange angle. “Oh, hell, man—”

“I’m okay,” she said weakly. “I broke it when we fell.” Wednesday sucked in a huge lung-full of air. “I put up a shield around us—”

“I’ve got the shields up.”

“Well, we have another.” She smiled up at Isis, her face ashen from shock. “We did good, huh?”

Isis retrieved a first aid kit from the wall. He had it open before she was kneeling next to the bloody, broken girl. She pulled a vial of greenish liquid from inside and gave it to Wednesday to sip; Isis knew it would help cure her shock. After that she could numb her leg and straighten it—

And then we just wait to see who comes to our aid.

She smiled at Wednesday. “Yeah, Wends.” She laid her hand upon the girl’s shoulder. “We did good.”

 

If they hadn’t dialed up the outer defense screens, other Deconstructors would have come in and torched the place to the bedrock–just like they wanted to do a decade later.  And the bad guys didn’t want to let them in early, because they were worried their chicanery would get discovered and the wrong people would get alerted–like a certain Guardian who shows up a few chapters later.

And there you have it:  how Isis and Wednesday saved the school.

Feeling the Flight

I should say that while yesterday’s writing seemed to take forever, it got done.  Mostly because I got back into basics:  put in the earbuds, slipped on some tunes, and held the world at bay.  And it worked:  I wrote just over twelve hundred and fifty words, which brought yesterday’s work to fifteen hundred and seventy total, once you kicked in the stuff I did in the morning.  Not a bad day, even if it felt like I was struggling throughout a lot of the work.

Here we are, getting ready to get into the air, and Annie is feeling . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie sat quietly in the Flight School’s Ready Room with Kerry on her right, but her normally composed exterior hid the turmoil going on inside her body. She ate a light breakfast as she was certain a larger one would give her an upset stomach, and given what lay ahead, the last thing she wanted was being sick while hanging in mid-air without a broom . . .

Today was the day she’d been promised: today Isis, Kerry, and herself would venture outside the school walls for the first time. Up until this point she’d flown only in the Aerodrome, but last week, on the day after her birthday, for about five minutes Isis and she exited the Aerodrome through a roof opening designed for PAVs, quickly few to the Diamond, lightly touched down on the room there, then returned to the Aerodrome after a five minutes discussion about the best way to keep one’s self orientated when they were free flying.

Those few minutes dashing from one building to the other and back left Annie wanting so much more. She enjoyed flying on a broom—something she had admitted to Kerry but would be hard pressed to admit to anyone else—but sailing over the treetops with nothing between her and the ground save her Gift and her willpower left her with an impression of being completely unrestrained by gravity—

Save for those moments when she could lose consciousness and control of her Gift, at which point she’d plummet to the ground and die. She shrugged that thought off as soon as she returned to the floor of the Aerodrome and found Kerry waiting for their return, as she reasoned that were either of them to lose consciousness while on a broom, the end result would be the same.

If that were the case, there wasn’t any need to fly with fear.

 

If she’s ever mentioned any fear about falling to Kerry, he’s probably given her some advice about what it feels like to do that, and without any notion of whether or not he was gonna be able to stop before hitting the ground.

And here we find out that Annie has had one quick flight out of the Aerodrome, just to give her a feel for what it’s like to soar like the birds.  There is one thing, however:  is there a way for her to know where she’s going, how fast, how high, all that stuff?  Just like on a PAV?  Glad you asked–

 

It was while the three of them were together that Isis told Annie they were flying outside the school for the next class, and she presented Annie with her Band. Though it looked like a thin silver bracelet that fit sung around her right wrist, as Isis explained it was something Annie didn’t want to be without when she flying. Her Band was the same as the instruments on a PAV, giving her every she’d need to find her way displayed on an HUD, the same as on a broom. A simple double-flick away from the body would turn the Band on, and a double-flick towards the body would turn it off, but once on, she’d only have to request the HUD up verbally or by thought, and unlike a broom HUD, an enchantment would keep her HUD in front of her face so she could see it no matter what direction she was facing.

Before coming out of the locker room she’d nervously practiced using it; within the next twenty minutes she use it in a real-life situation—

 

Annie’s all filled up with jewelry, but her Band isn’t just any pretty piece, though it is designed to fit in with anything else she’s wearing so not to look out of place.  It’s a smart idea, and of course the school would have something to fit the bill.  It’s probably a piece that’s also made on demand, because Flight Gifts are rare, and it’s not like The Foundation is gonna have a bunch of these just laying about.

Vicky and Isis enter, and it’s pretty obvious it’s Isis’ show to run, so she does.  There’s isn’t a lot for her to say . . .

 

The security director set her helmet, gloves, and goggles aside, before activating the wall map. “You know why you’re here: we’re flying for real, and we’re heading outside the walls. Annie, you and I will fly in a side-by-side formation, with you following my lead to go where I indicate. The primary purpose of this flight is to get you used to being in the air, at altitude and speed, for an extended period, and to learn to use your Band.” Isis gave Annie an inquisitive glance. “Questions?”

Annie shook her head once. “No.”

“Good. Kerry—” Isis turned slightly to her left and pointed. “You’re job is to observe and get the feel of being a chase. You’ll be on the same comm line with us, but for the most part there won’t be any communication. You’re not suppose to help out in any way unless instructed by Carrier, who will be monitoring us from the Flight Deck—”

Vicky spoke up. “Today I’ll run the Deck alone; same goes for whenever Isis takes you out on a training flight. But when you start flying solo, Annie, Isis will help out.” She turned back to the Chief of Security. “Continue.”

“Thank you. Our flight is going to be pretty simple.” She turned to the board and pulled up a map of the local area. “We’ll fly out from here, skirt Anniquan and overfly Farm Point on the way to Choate Island. From there we’ll continue until we reach this garden and nursery center just south of Ipswich, where we’ll start turning towards the south.” Her finger traced a long, wide arc until it reached a point over one of the small communities north of the city of Salem. “When we reach the Hamilton/Wenhan train station, we’ll head east, meet up with State Highway 128 and follow that to Gloucester. Once we’re over the Addison Gilbert Hospital, we’ll turn towards the school, head for the Flight School, and touch down.”

She turned back to the children, bushing her hands as if to remove dust. “Total distance covered will be between forty-five and fifty kilometers; as for time, we’ll take our time and stop to go over a few points along the way, so I don’t expect us to be out more than a couple of hours. Any questions?”

“No.” Annie smiled. “Not now.”

“That’s what I thought.” Isis zipped up her jacket and grabbed the rest of her gear. “Let’s get airborne.”

 

All of those points are real–

Because I have a map.  You knew I had a map.

Because I have a map. You knew I had a map.

–and if you check out the course above you’ll find all the points of reference Isis pointed out.  It’s a simple thing for them, a learning experience for both kids.  And that lesson is about to start . . .

 

Annie was immediately on her feet, zipping her jacket, gathering up her flight accessories and following Isis from the room, with Kerry right behind her. The excitement that had hit her the second she’d gotten out of bed was now peaking, and with great effort she pushed it down, for the last thing she wanted was to find herself unable to free fly because she was unable to control her emotions—

They walked out of the hanger on to the edge of Selena’ Meadow. All three fliers finished dressing, snapping their helmets and goggles into place before slipping on their gloves. Isis turned to Kerry. “Saddle up, Starbuck.”

“Rodger.” Twenty seconds later he was on his broom hovering a meter off the ground, awaiting instructions.

Annie gave her gloves one final tug. “What’s your call sign, Isis?”

Isis broke into a wide grin. “Sekhmet.”

“I’d have thought you’d get tagged with Hathor.” Kerry set his goggles in place. “I mean, you’re named after the goddess of health and marriage, so it’s not a stretch.”

“That was actually my first call sign.” Isis rolled her arms to set her jacket upon her shoulders. “After The Scouring it was changed because of the part I played in helping remove the Deconstructors from the school.” She relaxed and took a couple of deep breaths of the cool air. “Hathor was known as the goddess who welcomed the dead into the next life, but Sekhmet was the one who sent them to her. The later name seemed more fitting.” She slipped her goggles down over her eyes. “You ready to roll, Athena?”

 

Sekhmet was the Egyptian goddess of just about all the bad shit you never wanted to encounter in your life, which is, in a way, what Isis is for the school, as we’ve already seen.  And since I’ve said on more than one occasion that Isis and Wednesday played a part in saving the school, I should maybe run that scene, just to show you what they did.  Maybe tomorrow.  But leave it to Kerry, Mr. Clueless Geek, to know about Sekhmet.  I wonder if he knows about how Ra really turned Hathor into Sekhmet, and had to get ‘Ol Sekky drunk on her ass in order to change her back.  Hum . . . probably not yet.

With all this said, Isis knows it’s time to get the party started–

 

“I’m ready, Sekhmet.” She twitched her right wrist twice to activate her Band, then brought up the HUD. It floated about a half meter in front of her eyes. “Everything’s working properly.”

“Just want I want to hear.” She looked around to see if there was anyone around: the field was clear. “Get your light bending in place and we’ll take off.” She tapped the side of her helmet as the kids began to vanish from sight. “Carrier, we’re ready to take off.”

Vicky’s voice came though clear. “Rodger, Sekhmet. I’ve got all three of you on active tracking.”

“Rodger.” She spoke softly over the comm, knowing Annie and Kerry, now invisible, would hear her. “Athena, Starbuck: lift off and go straight up to three hundred meters. As soon as we’re above the Flight School, rotate your spells so we can see each other, but we’re flying under UFP.”

Annie lifted her feet off the ground and felt herself hovering. “Rodger, Sekhmet.” She climbed straight up slowly, and as soon as she saw the edge of the the Flight School she flipped the spell so no one on the ground could see her. Now that everyone was flying using Unseen Flight Protocols, Isis and Kerry popped into view, rising into the sky with her.

She watched the altimeter on her HUD until she neared two hundred ninety meters; at that point she slowed her assent and stopped completely at three hundred. Annie’s heart was pounding as she looked around. She been this high before—and higher—on a broom, but right now there was nothing under her but air, trees, and ground. She took a deep breath before noticing Kerry sitting about three meters way, grinning and giving her a thumbs-up sign. She returned the smile and the gesture before spinning around and finding Isis. “I’m . . . here.”

Isis knew exactly what the girl was feeling, because she remembered the first time she’d climbed into the air with only her Gift and willpower to keep her in the sky. “You feel up to flying? You’re not dizzy or too giddy or any shit like that?”

Annie laughed. “I feel great.”

“Which is what I thought.” Isis pointed at both kids. “Annie, I want you three meters on my right; Kerry, I want you four meters behind Annie. I’m the flight pilot here, so follow my instructions and lead. Got it?” Both fliers acknowledged her command. “Okay, then: follow me.”

 

And gets them up in the air.

Annie be flyin'; haters be  . . . well, not knowing yet.

Annie be flyin'; haters be . . . well, not knowing yet.

She’s about as free as a girl can get.

I wonder if she knows Kerry looking at her butt the whole time?