Well, after cranking out eleven hundred words at Panera last night, this scene–which I never thought was going to be that long in the first place–was finished, just a few words over forty-seven hundred words. I said the same thing about that last scene, and look how that turned out. Also I had to make some changes from yesterday–
See, in the excerpt yesterday, Kerry asked about air at three thousand meters, and he was told by Vicky not to worry. Then, while I was at work, I starting thinking about how Kerry’s been through the Sierra Nevada mountains, which is above three thousand meters in a lot of places–and then I remembered this:
I’ve not only stood near that sign, but above it as well, so I’ve stood at twelve thousand feet, or three thousand, six hundred, and fifty-seven meters–a bit more than to when my kids are flying. Kerry wouldn’t ask about the air: he’d know.
Loorea would probably know as well, since there are twelve hundred meter high peaks just to the south of her. Sure, she’s only three hundred meters above sea level, but she knows about the mountains around Book Book, which only has tennis courts and a post office–
I ended up giving the line to Kalindi, who stated she lives only about eighty meters above sea level. And it reads like this:
All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)
Kalindi called out to Vicky. “Nightwitch, we gonna be okay on air?”
She looked back over her shoulder, grinning. “Like I told you, we’re good: there’s more than enough at three thousand meters to keep you from passing out—just ask Emma. She’s probably been to a few peaks and passes back home where she’s been above that height. Not to mention, once the pressure starts dropping too much, an enchantment keeps a bubble of air around the saddle so you don’t pass out.” She turned her attention back to the gray ahead. “We’re going to be on-station for less than ten minutes. It’ll be fine.”
And in the end, in the next edit, I may just pull that line out–though I’m sure some reader will ask, “But what about air?” Someone will ask, just as the other day people wanted to know who this McCartney guy was who sang with Kanye West. Wasn’t he in a band called Wings a long time ago?
We saw yesterday that the kids were hitting some mircobursts on their way to their point in the sky. It didn’t allow Kerry to get off at least one line from Aliens–which I’m probably gonna have to fix–and it wasn’t setting anyone at ease. For example–
But another microburst hit a moment later, and this one threw the entire formation up and to the right before forcing to drop almost fifty meters in about a second. Kerry held on as his heart clutched slightly, but a couple of fliers let loose with grunts or gasps as they fought to stay in position as they continued climbing. Just as they were pushed hard to the right Loorea called out the altitude. “Twenty-four hundred.”
“Seven hundred to go.” Annie rolled her shoulders and reset herself. “It’s like walking from The Pentagram to the Witch House.”
“You would know about that.” Emma’s words came out soft and tight.
Annie looked over to Kerry, but addressed the girl behind her. “I would know that, Selene; I’ve walked it enough.”
Kerry almost laughed out loud. “Passing twenty-five fifty. Six hundred to go—we’ve all done that.”
Great save there, kid: don’t want Annie and Emma throwing shade at each other at twenty-five hundred meters, do ya? But then what does he do? Well . . .
A vicious updraft hit them: Kerry watch his altimeter spin up almost one hundred and fifty meters before another burst struck them from the left and above, knocking them back almost a hundred meters. This time a few incoherent sounds passed Kerry’s lips as he brought the PAV back to his control. He did a quick glance to his left: Annie was right where she should be, but Daudi had slipped back about four meters. He didn’t seem like he was in a hurt to reform the line.
Kerry turned back to look at him, even though he knew he shouldn’t. “You okay, Luangwa?”
“Yes, I’m . . .” He shook his head. “How much more is this going to happen?”
“Yeah—” Emma coughed twice as she tried to clear her throat. “It’s starting to get a little scary.”
Kerry turned back and checked his HUD and saw he was once more climbing smoothly to their final station. “Hey, guys . . .” He shifted his eyes towards Annie without letting the HUD completely out of his sight. “This is just wind. I’ve fought and been chased by a monster that wanted to kill and eat me—” He chuckled. “I’ll let you know if we run into something scary.”
Annie turned her head slightly in his direction. “You would know about fighting scary monsters, soul mate.” She flashed him a quick, huge smile, then turned back to flying.
Ouch. Good thing the air is cold up there, it’ll help with that burn. No more scary talk after that. “I was almost eaten–deal with the turbulence, kids.” Of course, it goes without saying that Emma was almost eaten, too, but someone put their ass on the line to keep that from happening . . .
And as far as that turbulence goes–
A few seconds of dead air followed, and Kerry wondered if anyone would speak for the remainder of the flight. That was when Kalindi laughed. “I trust your judgment, Starbuck: you would know if there were monsters around us.” She nodded towards the front of the formation. “Lead us onward.”
“No need to, Toba.” He motioned with his right hand towards the flier in the lead. “Follow Nightwitch: she’s got this.”
Vicky nodded. “You got that right. And if Harpreet was right about the weather today . . .”
The cloud canopy above them began to thin and specks of blue were seen peeking through. A few seconds later, as they cleared twenty-eight hundred meters, the clouds fell away, and the Mile High Flight formation was surrounded by a clean white cloud deck below and nothing but clear blue sky all the way to the horizon.
“She said this would break around twenty-eight hundred.” Vicky let out a whoop. “Did she call that one or not?”
It’s like that scene in The Matrix Revolutions where the Lagos breaks through the clouds, only there’s no Sad Keanu here. And with this in mind, Vicky in a hurry to finish.
There was a steady wind from the west-southwest, but the microbursts they’d experienced inside the cloud cover were no more. Kerry kept his eyes locked on his HUD and watched the numbers ticking off as they continued climbing. He had trouble keeping his voice steady as he call out the altitude. “Three thousand.”
“We’re almost there, flight.” Feeling they were free of heavy turbulence, Vicky increased her angle of attack and turned on a little speed, knowing her pilots would do the same. As expected, they continued following her, and accelerated to keep up.
Twenty seconds later Vicky held up her left hand and slowed. She spun around and faced her pilots. He couldn’t help the sigh that escaped. They’re here, all of them. All seven . . . “Check your altimeters and give me a confirmation that it’s correct; I’ll call out your name . . .” Vicky didn’t bother with call signs, not now, not with the Spy Eyes that had followed them up, showing everything to the students back in the Dining Hall, watching everything. “Loorea?”
The dark Australian grinned while looking at her HUD. “Three thousand, one hundred, fifty-five meters.”
“Thirty-one hundred fifty-five meters.”
Kerry listened as each flier called out their altimeter readings, and he did his last, right after Annie read hers. Vicky sat back on her saddle and placed one last call. “Fortress, would you confirm that we are on station?”
Nearly five seconds of silence surrounded the fliers before Isis’ voice came over their comms. “We confirm you are on station, three-one-five-five meters above sea level.” They could hear the joy in the Chief of Security’s voice. “Congratulations, you guys: you just made history.”
Vicky touched the left side of her helmet. “And we’ll make it again this weekend once Takara’s cleared for flight. Mile High Flight out.” She cocked her right fist and gave it a short pump. “You guys did it—just like I said you would.”
I never mentioned that they were being followed by Spy Eyes–which are magical camera-like devices–and that this was all being watched back in the Dining Hall by anyone who wanted to sit through this event. And speaking of the event . . .
Kerry raised both arms over his hand and cheered, and even Annie released her broom and started clapping. Knowing he’d never have another chance to feel the same excitement for doing the same thing, he side-slipped his broom alongside Annie’s, slipped his arm around her shoulders, and at ten thousand, three hundred and fifty feet, with white clouds and blue skies as their backdrop, planted a slow, heartfelt kiss upon her lips.
They both ignored the oohs and ahs from the other students, and when they broke about fifteen seconds after they began, Vicky was laughing. “Well, we have another first: the Mile High Kiss. Though I don’t think you two were trying to get into the record books . . .”
Kerry shook his head. “That was the farthest thing from my mind.”
Annie rested her head against Kerry’s shoulder. “I certainly wasn’t thinking about that.”
“Well, Athena and Starbuck, now that you’ve had your moment—” Vicky adjusted her goggles. “—we have a little more flying ahead of us.” She placed her right hand on her broom frame. “Follow me while we go through these basic maneuvers; we shouldn’t be here more than five minutes.” She spun around and placed the fliers on her six. “Okay? Let’s begin . . .”
Kerry, dude, you totally kissed her. In front of people and the instructor. And on camera. And, not to mention, right in front of your friend who wanted to set herself up as Soul Mate #2. Definitely not happening now.
Now all that’s left of this chapter is hanging out somewhere alone, watching the bonfires burn at night, and comment on teachers and students dancing naked–
Oh, did I mention the naked dancing?