Time to Make the Camp Site

There are real pros and cons to taking a long nap when you get home from work.  The pro is you feel a lot better once it’s over and you’re up.  The downside is that you’re not all that tired when it does become time to turn in and go to sleep.  This is the dilemma I found myself in yesterday after a nap that seemed to stretch on for about an hour and fifteen minutes.  I felt recharged enough to writ about twelve hundred words for my recap, and then another eight hundred for this novel, but when you find it time to go to nodding land, you don’t really want to go.

"If only I hadn't written those last three hundred words!"

“If only I hadn’t written those last three hundred words!”

I did get to sleep, but I expect a bit of a hangover for most of the morning.  At least I’ll be able to head out and do some shopping tonight with a semi-clear head.

This section seemed to come pretty good for me, save for a couple of things which I’ll explain in a bit.  What we have now is the overnight flight has turned the music off, climbed down from their brooms, and they set about the task of making camp:

 

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

As soon as everyone was on the ground the teams went to work. First order was to get up four fires, and that was handled by Nadine and Rivânia. Kerry asked if he could help—he was still the only B Level who could do the Fireball spell—but was told by Vicky to get busy setting up his team’s tent and let the minion handle stoking the fires.

Emma and Kerry, as well as the other teams, went to work unpacking. All their gear—tents, cots, sleeping bags, cooking gear, and clothing—was loaded inside their large, thirty-six liter backpacks using a Compress spell that most students wouldn’t learn until their C Levels, but that the Advanced Flight students were expected to master by the end of their B Levels. Compress was kind of miniaturization spell, one that could make objects smaller with the downside of allowing it to retain ninety percent of its mass.

They removed their mittens and folded back the hoods of their thick white winter jackets. This was the first time they wore the cold weather gear they’d need to be able to live and fly in arctic conditions in the field, and moving about was a slow and sometimes difficult task. Both members of Team Myfanwy considered removing the heavy jackets, but they knew they couldn’t as that was an option they wouldn’t have once they were in conditions far colder than than their current situation.

 

The Compress spell is pretty self explanatory, and it does have a bit of a disadvantage for the kids in that if they’ve got to pack fifteen kilos of gear to lug around on their backs, they’re still gonna feel most of that fifteen kilos.  But shit happens, right?  And the spell to get this stuff up to normal size is below.

The other thing has not been mentioned up to this point, and it’s that the kids are all wearing cold weather gear.  One of the things I’ve done a long time ago is kinda show what that gear looks like, because . . . well, it’ll come to you in time.  Basically they’re wearing a thick sweater garment in place of their normal flight jacket and then, over that, they’re wearing a modern polar jacket with a hood.  They’re wearing the same flight pants, but their boots have been beefed up, and they’re also wearing mittens over their gloves.  It makes things a little clumsy to work in, but they gotta know how to do this.

So the process for getting up the site?  This:

 

They used the Expand spell they’d learned during the last month—though Kerry had already used it well before the end of his A Levels—to return their gear to its original size. Besides each carrying extra changes of clothing, Emma carried the main tent, the tent poles, her cot, and her sleeping bag, while Kerry carried the vestibule, his cot and sleeping bag, the team rations, their cooking gear, and a few miscellaneous items. He floated light points over head so they could see properly, then they got to work. In the last few weeks they’d practiced putting up their tent in the dark, so they knew the routine.

They removed the tent, vestibule, and poles, and began setting up their sleeping area, pushing poles through tent eyes, then driving and securing them into the ground. Once the tent was in place Kerry worked on attaching the vestibule while Emma assembled the cots just outside the tent and moving them inside once her work was completed. Kerry attached the vestibule and fastened it to the ground while Emma set their cooking gear and rations aside before setting up the portable camp toilet behind a nearby tree. The last act was for Emma to roll out each sleeping back on their cots while Kerry set up a levitated ground cloth upon which to lay their brooms and backpacks.

After just twenty-five minutes their tent was ready for occupation.

With the fires going, everyone brought out their small folding chairs and set them up so each team could set about cooking their evening meal. No one had eaten since lunch, and while most fliers had brought snacks, the cold weather gear their wore on the flight up prevented them prevented them from eating while airborne. Kerry and Emma used their cooking equipment to heat up their meals, which were items packaged by the kitchen for this overnight expedition. While the meals weren’t nearly as tasty as the fair they would have enjoyed had they remained at Salem, they were designed to be high in calories and filling.

It was nearing twenty-one thirty by the time meals were over and cooking gear was cleaned and stowed. Before people began heading to their tents for the evening, Kerry brought out something he’d been given before leaving: a container full of banitsa that Annie had asked the kitchen to prepare that day. There was one for every person in the flight, and was surprised when everyone not only took one, but ate them as well. He’d expect there’d be at least one or two leftovers, but at this point in the evening, with everyone tired and cold, anything resembling a desert was welcome.

 

There you go:  a real team effort between Emma and Kerry, and one that they can sort of do for real when it’s needed.  And the “missing person” of Advanced flight sent along a bit of her homeland with banitsa for all!  Nice of Annie to do that, but there is probably one banitsa in there meant for a special person . . .

Now, here’s where I did something different.  As I was writing I decided that I didn’t like the first three paragraph–no, let me rephrase that.  I didn’t like where they were as written, so what I did, ’cause you can in a computer, is move to to this point in the story and rewrite them a bit.  Rather than have your go back a couple of days to the originals, I brought them here for you to see.

This was how they looked in their original form:

 

Kerry waved his hand in the direction of one of the camp fires and crafted a spell to pull oxygen away from the flames and smother them, which was far better than dumping water and using up fluids that could be needed later. It didn’t matter that there was a lake only a dozen meters away: Kerry not only knew it was easier to use magic to put out a fire, but he didn’t feel like filling up a container and bring it back to do the job he was now performing with the wave of his hand.

He looked up through the slight gap in the trees seeing if the stars were out. At the moment there was nothing but overcast, something they were told to expect after twenty-one. It was like this when they left the school: cloudy, dark, and growing colder.

He tidied up a few things and stored what little trash there was in a lock bag that he’d stuff in his backpack before heading off to bed. Kerry adjusted the collar of his flying jacket as the cold once more encroached upon the campsite as his mind drifted back to their flight north—

 

And how they now look re-positioned and rewritten:

 

Vicky called lights out at twenty-two and ordered everyone to their tents, letting them know they’d need to be up about five-thirty so they could begin preparing for the day. Kerry waved his hand in the direction of one of the camp fires and crafted a spell to pull oxygen away from the flames and smother them, which was far better than dumping water and using up fluids that could be needed later. It didn’t matter that there was a lake only a dozen meters away: He knew it was not only easier to use magic to put out a fire, but he didn’t feel like filling up a container and bring it back to do the job he was now performing with the wave of his hand.

He looked up through the slight gap in the trees seeing if the stars were out. At the moment there was nothing but overcast, something they were told to expect after twenty-one. It was like this when they left the school: cloudy, dark, and growing colder. He tidied up a few things and stored what little trash there was in a lock bag that he’d stuff in his backpack before heading off to bed. Kerry adjusted the collar of his jacket as the cold once more encroached upon the campsite and allowed his thoughts to first drifted back to their flight north, and then on to Annie. He wondered what she was doing and if she was alone. They’d promised not to get upset over being separated for one night, and would make the most of his return tomorrow. He whispered a good night and love to his soul mate before entered his tent’s vestibule. He zipped the outer door closed, tapped his hand three times against the tent door to announce his presence, unzipped the door and entered.

 

Much nicer, I think, and it makes far more sense now.  It’s also a good lead-in to the last part of the scene, and I’m guessing most of you can figure out what’s coming next–

You're not going to find it here, however.

You’re not going to find it here, however.

It was a good night to write, and mostly pain free.  Mostly.  I’ll try not to be in pain when I write tonight.

I promise you this.

All Ready in the Ready

Let’s talk about another achievement that was reached last night.  As the novel continues forward, slowly at times, it seems, the word count continues to climb, and by the time I’d reached my almost eight hundred words for the evening, the final total for the novel reached sixty thousand words.  I made a note of this on my author’s page on Facebook before I closed Scrivener for the evening–

I got a pretty picture, too, just so I'd remember.

I got a pretty picture, too, just so I’d remember.

The count of days from forty to fifty was fourteen days:  this time it was fifteen.  Slacking, right?  I won’t complain:  five thousand words a week, give or take, when you’re in pain and/or spending most of your time away from home for one day, is a pretty good total to keep u, and I’m keeping that up.  At this rate I should hit seventy thousand right around the Forth of July, and hit one hundred thousand by the end of that month.  By then I should be inside Act Two, unless something bad were to happen . . .

After the bit of awkwardness that was Emma reconnecting with her wingmate, Vicky starts in on the “Why We’re Here,” opening statements.  Except . . . I had to go back and write something else I needed to add because, at the time I started this scene, I’d meant to put this part in, but I’d forgot.  This is the nice thing about computers and their programs:  you just go back and write.  And I did–

 

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

“Oh, right—sorcery.” Emma sat back and crossed her legs. “Gotta be the dark witch.” She caught herself, hoping she didn’t say something that would upset Kerry. “Right?”

He nodded slowly, a smile appearing upon his face. “Yep. We both do, as a matter of fact. It’s something we promised each other.” He didn’t bother to mention where that promise had taken place.

(starting here)

She wasn’t about to give up asking about Annie so easily. “Why were you guys in your flight gear at lunch?”

He had nothing to hide. “We were out flying.”

“Around the school?”

“No, we were doing some stuff over in the Aerodrome.”

“Oh.” She was instantly attentive. “Were you guys checking out the Class 2 PAVs?”

“Naw, we were looking at something else.” Kerry didn’t want to talk about Annie’s flying—they still weren’t supposed to talk about their gifts—so he deftly changed the subject. “I like your new patch.”

 

“I like your new patch,” was the last thing from the original writing after the “starting here” point.  Those few lines may not seem like much, but it’s designed to show that Emma is keeping an eye on Kerry, and she noticed that he and his “dark witch”–a term he publicly used many times during his A Levels–were in their flying gear.  That’s some stalkerific shit there, Single White Witch Girl.  Maybe Kerry should watch out?  Or maybe Emma should cool her jets before that Dark Witch she commented on follows her into the bathroom for a . . . chat.  Not that Annie would ever do something like that . . .

But what about Vicky?  Well, let’s see what she has to say:

 

Seeing that the last of the students were out of the locker room and in their seats, Vicky addressed her newest collection of advanced flier. “Good afternoon, students. Welcome to Advanced Flight One. Congratulations—” She looked from one student to the next, keeping a sure grin in place. “You’ve accepted another year of flying misery.

“I know that, by now, some of you have spoken with a few of the C Levels in Advanced Flight Two, or you’ve heard from people who’ve been through both classes—” She quickly glanced in Kerry’s direction, fully aware he shared a class with Nadine Woodley, one of her best minions. “—which means you’ve a pretty good idea of what’s coming your way.

“Primary among your studies will be learning how to function as a team. Most of the time you’ll fly on your own, but in those instances where you find yourself in a small formation, or even with your wingmate, you need to develop a separation of duties so one pilot isn’t overwhelmed having to plan out everything. Some of you—” She shifted her gaze to where Emma and Kerry sat. “—have already figured this part out, so the rest of you have a bit of catching up ahead of you.

 

Though it’s really unclear what part Emma played in the separation of duties for Team Myfanwy the last time they were together.  Listening to her wingmate so she doesn’t die?  Well, she’s only batting .500 on that one.  She did handle piloting while Kerry kept an eye on the Low and High Roads, so there’s that.  And since Kerry does seem to enjoy planing out trips . . .

 

“We’ll focus on flight planing, on navigating, and on instrument flight rules. By the time we’re finish with this class you should be able to fly in just about any weather—not just in a winter climate or in rain, but in storms and atmospheric conditions that obscure the ground and make visual flight navigation impossible.”

Vicky took a short sip from the water glass to her right, then continued with her opening statement. “We’re going out on a few night flights as well—” She held up her hands the second a few of the students began grumbling. “On Thursday nights, so none of you miss out on the Midnight Madness—I wouldn’t want you to miss out on anything important . . .” A few of the students chuckled at Vicky’s slight joke. “Night flying is something we’ll do at least once a month, and a few times we’ll go out on a Thursday night for a few hours, return, and have class the next afternoon. And we’ll practice both visual and instrument flying at night, which means a few trips up into the White and Green Mountains where there’s little light to guide you back to school, and it’s easy to get disoriented.

 

Branching out into the White and Green Mountains–found in northern New Hampshire and western Vermont, respectively–means they’re gonna do a lot of flying.  Sure, there’s a chance they’ll get jaunted out to somewhere and then have to fly back, but that’s probably gonna be the exception.

There’s one other thing, too–

 

“And, as I’m certain a lot of you have discovered—” Vicky paused to let the anticipation build. “We’ll take three overnight flights this year. Two of them will happen during the winter months—one in December before Yule Holiday, and the other either late January or early February—and the last in late March or mid-April: I’m still pinning those dates down.

“These flights will involve flying out as a group after dinner, setting up camp after dark, and then spending the following day taking what we’re learning to travel to . . .” She crossed her arms and scratched lightly at her chin. “—various points with teams taking turns leading the group.” Now that she had their attention, she gave them the last part of this particular equation. “This is all practice for those of you who move on to Advanced Flight Two, and decide to participate in The Polar Express.”

A murmur filled the Ready Room, and Vicky didn’t need to expand upon her comment: everyone here knew about The Polar Express, a three night and three day survival flight flown by wingmates using a minimum of supplies, a minimum of instrumentation, and a lot of flying through the Canadian wilderness during one weekend in January. Only C Levels in Advanced Flight Two were allowed to participate, though members who’d already completed the flight were allowed to fly with members whose wingmate didn’t wish to make the flight.

 

Overnight camping.  And flying.  In the winter.  And the first mention of The Polar Express, which is going to take up a chapter of its own come the next novel–which I guess means it’s no surprise Emma and Kerry go out on this trip.  And “flying through the Canadian wilderness during one weekend in January” is all you need to know about the difficulty, because who doesn’t want to fly through Canada in the middle of winter?

But before you ask:  yes, even on these overnights, wingmates share a tent.  That means, let’s see . . . boy/boy team, girl/girl, girl/girl, boy . . . girl.  Hey, Emma and Kerry are the only mixed gender team!  I don’t see any issues arising from that . . .

And lastly:

 

She went into her wrap up. “Lastly, we will learn about maintenance and modification of your brooms, and I do mean your broom. Because you have made your way into Advanced Flight One, and there are things we will do here that will necessitate each flying having their own broom, The Foundation will allow you to purchase a broom that is suitable to your needs. This means Class 1 Wilhelminas, Mering, and Espinozas, because none of you need the high end racing brooms that The Foundation also manufactures, at least not until you get into high end racing.

“If you’re wondering how you’ll pay for these, don’t worry: a deferment payment plan will be set up for anyone looking to buy a PAV. We’re not talking a student loan like a Normal school would offer, but a simple payment plan that lets you pay for just the cost of the broom—there’s no interest—and that’s stretched out for as long as thirty years if you like.” Vicky grinned. “Don’t worry: I’m certain many of you will still be working with us in 2040, so there’s no need to wonder if you’ll have the money.”

 

So, very soon, everyone in AF1 will have their own broom, bought for them by The Foundation on a long-term payback plan.  But it won’t be long before these kiddies have their own brooms–which means it’s a cinch that Nadine and a few other minions have their own brooms as well.  Oh, and you do find out how much a particular broom runs, which means, based upon that number, you can estimate how much Annie spent on Kerry’s broom.

Advanced Flight is over–and as Vicky said, we know what’s important–

The Midnight Madness is next.

Not So Ready in the Ready Room

First off, Happy Loving Day, which is the day the Supreme Court of America ruled to disband all anti-miscegenation laws in 1967.  And if you’re old–like me–you’ll probably remember that a lot of the same things said about marriage equality today–like allowing it to happen goes against the religious beliefs of some–were said about mixed race marriages then.  Same cart, different driver, but in the end the destination will be the same.

I’m dragging a little today because I was up at two and fought to get back to sleep between then and about four-thirty.  I haven’t had a night like that in months, and it’s hitting me kinda hard, but I’ll get through it:  I always do.

And now . . . Kerry’s at the Flight School waiting for class to start.  This is right after Annie’s Flight class, so Friday is for flying.  This is also the first time were we see Kerry alone since he left Cardiff, and the first time we see someone else since those days . . .

 

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

Kerry sat in his old seat in the Pilot’s Ready Room and casually dropped his goggles and gloves in the seat to his left. He wasn’t the first—three other students arrived before him—but he was the only one sitting in the front row, something Annie and he did all through A Level Basic Flight.

He adjusted his glasses, something he did less and less these days. Since learning a simply adhesive spell in Wednesday’s class last year, it was rare that his glasses ever slipped these days. He thought it might be due to the quick landing he’d made outside the Hanger followed by the dash up the stairs to the main floor. It wasn’t that Kerry was late: he was actually ten minutes early.

But after the morning he’d had watching Isis and Annie flying about the Aerodrome—and Isis put Annie through a few easy maneuvers that proved she was actually using her gift and not levitating—he was ready to see what his flight class had in store.

After speaking with Nadine in Advanced Spells the other night Kerry had an inkling of what to expect over the school year. She told Annie and him about working on brooms, about learning to fly by instruments only; developing flight plans; being taught how to make minor repairs to a PAV—and, most of all, the three camping flights she took designed to prepare her for—

“Hey, Kerry.” Emma stood to his left, eyeing the seat where his goggles and gloves rested.

 

Guess who?!

 

“Hey, Emma.” He poked his thumb to the empty chair on his right. “Let’s get comfortable.”

“Sure.” A hint of dejection peeked through her demeanor as she settled into the chair. “Saving that for Annie?”

He shook his head. “No.”

“Oh?”

“She’s not taking the class.”

“What?” Emma twisted around in her chair. “Why not?”

“She felt she could learn most of this stuff either from me or from her parents.” He extended his legs and stretched. “Vicky told her she can come if and when she likes, though.”

Emma still appeared puzzled. “So what’s she doing instead?”

Kerry brushed some hair back from his forehead. “She’s probably over at the Black Vault right now.”

“Oh, right—sorcery.” Emma sat back and crossed her legs. “Gotta be the dark witch.” She caught herself, hoping she didn’t say something that would upset Kerry. “Right?”

He nodded slowly, a smile appearing upon his face. “Yep. We both do, as a matter of fact. It’s something we promised each other.” He didn’t bother to mention where that promise had taken place. “I like your new patch.”

 

By now not only do we know that Annie and no one else is always to the left of Kerry, but he knows it as well.  And that move of his–saving the seat to his left–was to prevent a certain wingmate from sitting there.  And she knows it, too:  you can sense it in her body language.  She was really hoping to plop down in that left-hand seat . . .

And she caught herself before she said something mean about Annie.  She doesn’t know she’s cursed, but she also doesn’t want to make Kerry upset.  After all, if you have to depend on your wingmate when you’re up in the air, and you’ve been talking shit about his girlfriend, will you really trust him?

Anyway, back to patches.

 

Emma glanced down by reflex, just making out her new flight patch: that of a witch on a broom flying across the shadow of a crescent moon with the constellation of Leo over her back. Her call sign was emblazoned across the top of the patch, white letters against the blue background used to represent Mórrígan Coven. “Oh, yeah. I had to ask what it meant, ‘cause I wasn’t sure about all the stuff.”

Kerry didn’t wait for his wingmate to explain. “Selene is the goddess of the moon, which you knew. She’s usually associated with the crescent moon and was often seen in paintings and drawings with constellations—of which you have both.” He examined the outline of the stars. “That’s Leo, which I think is seen in April, which is—” He grinned. “—your birthday month.” He chuckled in a low town. “Hence Selene.”

Emma’s mouth dropped open. “How do you know all that crap?” She started laughing. “I mean, I like looking at stars—”

“And you didn’t notice any special ones when we took astronomy last year?”

She thought about his statement for a moment, then tapped her forehead. “Oh, yeah: Harpreet pointed out Leo right around my birthday last year. Don’t know why I didn’t remember that.”

“Well, you were thinking about your birthday.”

“And speaking of that—” Emma crossed her arms and tried her best at a hurt pout. “You never did say where you went that night. You vanished right after Sorcery class and when you came back—”

“I told you what happened.” Kerry sat back with and crossed his arms, only he smiled and appeared relaxed. “I had to go to New York for testing, and I fell down and cracked my head when I was about to leave.” He’d told that particular story to Emma twice last year, and had hoped she wouldn’t ask again. “It’s that simple.”

 

It’s already come up a couple of times about Annie and Kerry’s Excellent Adventure, and how teachers and students believe the cover story is probably a load of crap.  Emma obviously doesn’t believe it, and the fact that they cut out on her birthday–19 April is Emma’s birthday, exactly two weeks before Kerry’s–means she remembers it even more.

So now we’ve seen her patch, which is pretty classical for a goddess.  For Kerry . . . um, it’s a bit more creative:

 

“Uh, huh.” Figuring she wasn’t going to get a better answer than the one she’d heard a few times already, she went back to the subject of flight patches. She pointed at Kerry’s jacket. “What’s yours suppose to mean?”

Kerry had spent several minutes examining the patch when he saw it for the first time, and spent a couple of minutes explaining the meaning to Annie. Of all the new B Level flight patches he’d seen, his was likely the most complex. “Well, this here—” He pointed to the pilot on the broom in the lower left corner of the circle. “—is supposed to be me. And these other points—” He pointed to the dark hurricane, then the bright cloud of gas behind that, and the strange looking planet behind the cloud, and the planet Earth at the far end of the string. “This is the Maelstrom, then the Ionian Nebula, then original Earth in front of our Earth.” He pointed to his call sign in the circular margin. “And here I am against Cernunnos green.” He grinned broadly. “Simple, huh?”

Emma shook her head slowly. “Again, how do you know that? And what does it all mean?”

“Well, it helps if you’re a geek.” He chuckled. “And it helps if your instructor is a big of a geek, too—”

 

It also helps if the author has access to the Battlestar Galactica wiki and was able to look up a few things based upon the “life” of the character upon which Kerry’s call sign is based.  Actually, I knew those things, but I had to check the name of one location in particular . . . yes, I’m a geek.

And so is someone else–

 

“I heard that, Kerry.” Victoria Salomon, the school’s flight and jaunt instructor, made her way up the center aisle towards the podium in the front center of the Ready Room. “And, yes: being a bit of a geek helps when you have to come up with a bunch of call signs that mean something to the pop culture sensibilities of my A Levels.” She turned to the two fliers, addressing the red head with the longest hair.  “How you doing today, Emma?”

“I’m doing fine, Profe—”

“Vicky, Emma.” Vicky’s grin was friendly and infectious. “You’ve earned the right to address me by my given name. It’s the way we do things in the advanced classes.” She flicked her eyes in Kerry’s direction. “Ain’t that right, Starbuck?”

He nodded and grinned back. “That’s right, Nightwitch.”

Vicky did a quick head count of the people in the Ready Room, then clapped her hands. “All right, pilots.” She sidestepped behind the podium. “I see it’s thirteen, and that means we got things to discuss . . .”

 

Kerry’s so used to talking to the instructors using their first names, and Emma–who has already said she find it hard to do–is still stumbling.  And we do see, again, that the gingers are paired up.  Is that because no one wants to be their friends?

Right now I’m about seven hundred words away from breaking sixty thousand total–

So if I write tonight I can make it.  If I write.  Which I probably will.

So if I write tonight I can make it. If I write. Which I probably will.

Sixty thousand plus for two acts?  Not bad at all.