Disquietude Park

As I was told this morning, I seemed to have left everything on a cliffhanger–and I’ve been trying to get off that cliff ever since.  By that I mean I’ve written almost two thousand words since last night and early this morning, and I’ve still got a ways to go.  But I’m getting there.

As you know everyone’s in the park across the street from the Crown Center–which, I found out this morning, is also the location of the world-wide headquarters for Hallmark Cards, so watch out, people, otherwise Annie and Kerry might just go and try to alter the history of greeting cards.  Or maybe that’s run by The Foundation, too.  One can never tell.

I should point out that the events in the park are happening at the same time Helena’s tossing Kaden’s house, so while Annie and Kerry are doing a magic show for Tanith, Helena’s figuring out how to time jaunt around so she can entered the house, look around–and find something in the closet that makes her call an end to the operation.

With that in mind . . .

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“Home.” Tanith stared at the ground as her voice took on a dreamy quality. “I like the sound of that. But talking to my dad . . .” She shook her head. “Oh, man, he’s gonna flip on this.”

Annie had figured that Tanith’s father would be the most difficult part of this trip, but he wasn’t her concern. “That’s where the adults come in. They’ll work with him as we worked with you.”

She looked up and frowned. “He’s never talked about any of this, so I don’t know how he’d want to talk about it with anyone now.”

Kerry shrugged. “We won’t have anything to do with that. They’ll probably send us off elsewhere while the adults talk.”

That interested the girl. “Where would we go?”

“It’s hard to say.” There had been discussion about this, but Annie didn’t want to discuss the locations mention. Depending on the time of day, it was thought they might go to Paris or London, maybe to New York or Chicago . . . Annie believed the most likely destination would be San Francisco, where the Guardians could keep an eye on them while they are out and about the city. “I’m certain it wouldn’t be Kansas—”

Erywin’s voice rang clear through the buds Annie and Kerry wore and straight into their minds. Children, supper’s ready.

Annie glanced and Kerry, who was glancing back. Tanith noticed this and didn’t like what she saw. “What’s wrong?”

“Something—” Annie watched Kerry out of the corner of her eyes. You call Erywin?

He nodded. Doing it now. Kerry looked around—the same as Annie—watching to see if anyone was looking in their direction. Mom, you there?

 

“Hey, Mom:  what’s up?”  If you haven’t figured it out, “Supper’s ready” isn’t just the title of a twenty-two minute song, it’s also the code phrase to indicate things have gone sideways and it’s time to shut this party down.  So Kerry gives her directions to where they are located in the park, and Erywin comes to visit . . .

 

She did as she was told and found the children fading into view. “Hello, there.”

“Hi.” Kerry gave Erywin a hug, followed by Annie doing the same. “Glad to see you, Mom.”

Annie had already given her greeting; she wanted to know things. “Why did you give the abort code?”

“Because the plug’s been pulled; we’ve moving out.” She finally acknowledged Tanith. “Hello there, young lady. Hope these days have been taking good care of you.”

“They have.” Tanith smiled at Erywin. “Are you a witch, too?”

“I’m the witchiest witch, my dear.” She lifted her teleport device from one of her jacket pockets. “Are we ready?”

Are you making a call?” Tanith pointed at the device in Erywin’s hand.

“No, Tanith. This is going to teleport us all out of here; we have another location where we’re supposed to go in the instance we need to abort this operation.”

Annie took Tanith’s hand. “We’ve done this plenty of times; it won’t bother you.”

“No, not at all.” Erywin finished punching in the coordinates of their arrive point. “Let’s link hands.” She held out her left hand, which Kerry took. He held out his left for Annie, who slid in her right while holding onto the Tanith’s with her left. “Ready?” All three children nodded. “Good then . . .” She tapped the activation icon on the display.

Nothing happened.

“What the hell?” Erywin rechecked the coordinates and confirmed they were right.

Kerry was trying to see what was on the teleport display. “What is it?”

“Enchantment didn’t engage.” She did a quick aural check. “It isn’t drained . . .” She crafted a quick spell and watched the results pop up on the display. “The hell is this now?”

None of the kids were comfortable with Erywin’s exclamations, but Tanith was the only one who wasn’t aware of the severity behind them. Annie kept her voice low, even though there wasn’t any need. “What’s wrong?”

“We can’t jaunt: there are blocking spells all over the place.” Her eyes slowly scanned the park as she slipped the teleport device back into her jacket. “Son of a bitch: they’re here.”

Annie turned so she was facing away from Erywin. “And they know we’re here, too.”

Tanith was completely confused by now. “They?”

“Deconstructors.” Kerry picked up on the clues being offered and looked off in a direction not being covered by Annie or Erywin. “The bad guys.”

 

Gotta give my kids credit:  the moment things go dark they get ready.  Of course, if they’re invisible, the bad guys are likely invisible, too, but they’re facing out and ready.  In all fairness, though, they did the same thing during the Day of the Dead, with both in separate areas of the school keeping their wits about them.  Okay, so Kerry did get a little panicky after being chased by a monster for ten minutes, but so would you.

Given the situation, they’re pretty quick at coming up with options:  this is what happens when you get trained by The Dark Mistress of All:

 

Annie looked over her shoulder at Kerry. “We should move.”

“I agree.” He tapped Erywin on the arm. “Can we walk out of the park.”

She carefully examined here surroundings. “We can, but I’m worried that once we’re out in the open the people here looking for us will likely sweep in on us and that’s it.”

Tanith didn’t understand the sudden concern. “I don’t get it: why are these people after you?”

“They’re not after us—” Erywin tapped Tanith on the cheek. “They want you. At least we believe you’re why they’re here.” She rubbed her lower left side. “They’d probably stun us all and make off with you.”

“What about you? What will they—?”

Annie didn’t bother with niceties as she cut off Tanith’s question. “They’ll kill us.” She ignored the girl’s gasp as she pointed in the direction of their hotel. “If we get across the street, can we jaunt then?”

“Should be able; it’s getting across the streets here that’s going to be a pain in the arse.” She pointed to the north. “We can’t climb over and drop down to the street below there, so that leaves crossing at Pershing and Grand, or . . .” She nodded towards the southwest corner. “Taking the overhead walkway to the train station, or back to the Crown Center.”

Annie had come to the park using the overhead walkway known as The Link. “Couldn’t the Deconstructors come after us there, too?”

“They could, but if we head for the Crown Center there aren’t any places for them to hide. That’s what I worry about being out on the sidewalk: they could hide and take shots at use from behind trees—”

“Could be the same if we head for the Amtrak station.” He pointed at the section of The Link running parallel to the park.

“Yes. Best bet is to get across to the Center, find a quite spot, and jaunt out. If they want to get us before we get there, they’ll have to come in there and get us” She surveyed the children. “Now that we have plan, we have to get out of here.” She tapped Annie and Kerry on the shoulders; they both half turned towards her. “We’re dropping code names right now; we don’t need anymore confusion that we might already have.”

They both nodded, with Kerry speaking in agreement. “Sounds good to me.”

Annie turned to Tanith. “I’m Annie; he’s Kerry; she’s Erywin. That’s so you’ll know.”

The girl nodded, not sure if she was catching the full gist of what was happening. “I don’t suppose I’ll get a chance to use them, but thanks anyhow.”

 

Leave it to Annie to put the cherry on this crappy sundae:  if The Deconstructors get to us, they’ll kill us.  Of course, what no one is saying is by dropping code names at this point, they’re taking a hell of a risk that Tanith isn’t going to rat them out.  But if Annie was ready to bleed out a girl just because she almost got her boyfriend killed, so I don’t think she’d have much of a problem protecting her cover . . .

There’s a bit of a kink in this plan–but wait!  There’s also a big surprise!

 

Erywin stared off in the direction of The Link entrances on the other side of the park. “We’re gonna have to make our way there with this invisibility up; we have to assume they know you both came in with Tanith, and if they see you three leaving, they’ll likely attack.”

“Can we teleport inside the park?” Annie pointed at a sculpture close to The Link entrances. “It won’t be as far as a wall.”

“Only one thing—” Kerry switched his gaze from person to person. “If we try and enter that invisible, it’s gonna be pretty obvious. And we can’t just drop right in front of the entrance.” He shook his head. “That’s a dead giveaway.”

Erywin was already thinking that they couldn’t make it into The Link without becoming visible for a few seconds. And there aren’t many places where we can do that without being noticed. “Dammit, I didn’t think about that.”

Annie had already made up her mind about what was needed. “Erywin, do you trust us?”

“Of course I trust you.” She eyed Annie closely. “What do you have in mind?”

Annie touched Kerry’s hand. “Give it a try; we have nothing to lose.”

“Yeah.” He stepped in front of Erywin. “Can you bend down here a little, Mom?” He smiled as he used her cover name again.

Erywin was now more curious than worried, and she did as was asked. “What are you trying?”

He changed his hair back to its natural color and placed his hands on either side of Erywin’s head. “Something I’ve been working on . . .” He closed his eyes and concentrated as Annie and Tanith looked on. Nothing happened for almost five seconds, then Erywin’s hair changed to lustrous auburn as it lengthened and curled. After another five seconds her transformation was complete. Kerry dropped his hands and stepped back next to Annie.

Erywin ran her hands through her newly changed locks. “How the—?” She shook her head. “Kerry, you shouldn’t be able to do that.”

“I’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks.” He nodded towards Annie. “It was her idea I give it a try, since I could do simple transformations on myself.”

“He practiced it last night on me.” Annie giggled. “You should see me as a ginger: I can imagine what our kids would look like.”

Erywin also chuckled as Tanith rolled her eyes. “We can talk about that later—”

Kerry got back on message. “Now that we really look like we’re related, you and I can walk to The Link, and Tanith and Annie can follow invisible. Once they’re inside they can turn visible again.”

Erywin nodded slowly. “That might just work.” She pointed at her head. “What about this?”

“It’s good for about twenty, thirty minutes. After that it reverts.”

“Sounds good.” She pulled out her teleport device. “Let’s not waste time—” She punched in the park location they’d decided upon, linked hands when they were ready, and performed the short hop across Washington Square Park.

 

Even in the face of danger, Annie’s talking about kids with Kerry.  Can you imagine that conversation from the night before?  “I’ve never been a ginger before.”  “It looks good on you.”  “It’ll look better on our kids . . .”  Oi.  Notice, though, that he isn’t rolling his eyes.  These kids need to get a room.  Oh, wait . . .

So right now they’re here in the park–

Dialoge

Sculpture to the right, walkway bridge to the left, entrance somewhere straight ahead.  Go for it, Team Salem.

Everyone’s in place and about as ready as they’ll get.  Only a few orders left to give:

 

The moment they were in place everyone looked about to see if they were being observed. When they didn’t noticed anything Erywin prepared them for the minute or so they’d need to walk to their destination. “Kerry, I want you to stay to my right: I’m left handed, and if I have to shoot, I don’t want to risk having you on that side.”

He nodded. “Got it.”

She turned to Annie. “We’ll keep the door open long enough for you both to scurry inside; you can fade back into view as we’re going up the stairs.”

“Okay.”

Kerry slipped off his backpack and handed it to Annie. “If they saw us coming in, they probably noticed this.”

“I’ll give it back when we’re in The Link.” After Annie she noticed the now nervous Tanith. Annie reached down and took her hand. “Don’t worry; this is going to work.”

“You’re damn right it will.” Erywin tapped Kerry. “We need to pull back and fade in—”

“Right.” He blew Annie a kiss. “See you in a bit.”

She blew him a kiss right back. “I’ll be right behind you.”

Erywin and Kerry stepped back until his light bending fiend broke from Annie’s. They both turned around and faded into view as they emerged from around the sculpture and walked at a normal pace towards The Link entrance.

 

The kids got two options:  get so uptight they look like they’re about to lose it, or keep it loose and cover up their nervousness with moments of affection.  They chose the later, though you have to wonder if they had a conversation the night before–when Annie wasn’t going on about how their kids might look–about what could happen to them today.

But they’re almost sorta home–

All I gotta do is get them to safety.

Knowing Unknowns

Chapter Thirty-Six is finished, almost reaching the same word count as the chapter before.  Which means the next chapter will likely be a little longer, and I’ll probably ride Chapter Thirty-Seven out until just past Christmas–and that means this current section, Part Twelve, will probably finish up right around the first of the year.  After this part’s out of the way, there are only five chapters remaining until the end.

It’s almost there:  it’s almost the end.

It's almost there; it's almost finished.

It’s almost there; it’s almost finished.

Only we gotta get out of Kansas City first . . .

So . . . the question was asked:  who is this new girl?  I asked it, and you can bet other people in the story asked it as well.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look–

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“How is it that the Guardians missed this?”

Helena was asking herself the same thing. It didn’t worry her, but she was slightly bothered that what they’d discovered hadn’t appeared in any of the documentation she’d examined while preparing for this operation. “I have no idea, Erywin.” They were back in th instructor’s suite at the hotel after a quiet, hurried dinner, and Helena wasn’t concerned that they were going to be overheard using their own names. “You read the same reports I read. There was nothing there about this.”

Erywin hadn’t stopped pacing the suite since they’d returned. “Another Aware girl—speaking with Tanith. How long have the Guardians been monitoring her?”

“Months.” Helena turned to Kerry. “You’re certain that ID is correct.”

Kerry, who was sitting on the sofa with Annie, had the tablet next to him with the information still pulled up. “Ruth McRoberts. She’s in the school system and in the same grade as Tanith.” He sat back and tried to look confounded. “It’s legit.”

“I checked it as well, Helena.” Annie sat close to Kerry and nodded at him. “The software Isis gave us worked perfectly. I also looked up her address and found her home address and mobile number. It checks out with the number I pulled off Tanith’s phone when the picture they took together was sent to her.”

“But are we sure that’s not just a cover?” Erywin didn’t care for the feelings that sprang up inside her the moment they discovered that Tanith was being visited by another girl who was now only Aware, but whom appeared, based upon the brightness of her aura, had been that way for some time. “I mean, that has happened before.”

 

Erywin is alluding to something that’s about to break in a big way in this discussion, but Helena–trying not to be the paranoid sorceress and Guardian in the room–isn’t ready to go there.  She’s her own compelling counter-arguments.

 

“Honey . . .” Helena wasn’t ready to go where Erywin was already residing. “It is entirely possible the team that was here watching Tanith never encountered this—”

Kerry spoke up. “Ruth.”

“Yeah, her. That has happened before as well.” She pointed out the window to her left of where she sat. “There’s no coverage out there; The Foundation has no presence in this city. For all we know there are more than a few people out there who are ready to become Aware, or who may already be there.” Helena slapped the chair arms and sighed. “We only know about Tanith because she’s been observed.”

“Which goes back to my concerns about this Ruth.” Erywin finally sat on the edge of the bed and slipped off her shoes. “They’ve had Tanith under observation for a while, so why wouldn’t they have picked up any signs from her?”

“Maybe because they didn’t see them together.” Helena stood up, stripped off her jacket, and tossed it on the chair behind her. “Maybe they didn’t watch Tanith as often as they wanted us to believe. Or maybe the observation team consisted of arseholes who didn’t like coming to the middle of the US and did their job half-assed.” She turned to Erywin. “That’s been known to happen, too.”

 

Yeah, it’s always possible that the Guardians aren’t always the best of the best of the best, and they did a pretty crappy job keeping a twelve year old girl under observation.  However, that doesn’t address the two hundred kilo witch in the room . . .

 

“That’s bullshit, my darling.” Erywin was having none of these explanations. Having lived with Helena for thirty years, she knew her moods, she knew her body language, and she knew when she was trying to hide concerns from others—in this case, Erywin suspected she was trying to avoid bringing up a certain subject in front of the children. “You’re thinking the same thing that everyone else in this room is thinking about this girl.”

Helena turned on her partner with intensity. “And what is everyone else in this world thinking about this girl?”

“You know what I’m thinking—”

“Yes, I’ve figured that out.”

“Well—” She waved out an arm at the sofa where Annie and Kerry sat. “Why don’t you ask what’s on their mind?”

She almost told the children to go back to their room so she could discuss this matter with Erywin, but they were the most important part of the team, and they had a right to voice their opinions. She turned to the one closest to her. “Kerry, what are you thinking about this girl?”

He kept his eyes locked on Helena and didn’t once turn to Annie. “I wonder if she’s a Deconstructor.”

“Do you, now?” She knew he’d discuss this matter with Annie, so she wasn’t surprised by his answer. After all, of the two, Kerry had come the closest to having direct contact with them, and was probably leery of most contact.

He nodded. “Yes.”

She turned to Annie. “And you, Annie?”

Annie didn’t hesitate with her answer. “I agree with Kerry: I think she may be a Deconstructor.” She cast a sideways glance to the woman on her left. “And I agree with Erywin: I don’t see how the Guardians missed this girl.”

Helena sighed loud and long. “I agree. I’m wondering the same thing on both counts.”

 

There it is, out in the open:  the bad guys may be in town.  Perhaps they came for the ribs and stayed for the magical girl, or they just are here because they are.  Either way, things have possibly become a little dicey, and Erywin–who has found herself in this position a few times–what’s to know the story, morning glory.

 

Erywin crossed her legs. “So are you pulling your plug on this operation?”

There was a long pause while Helena turned and stared out the window. Based upon how she thought this conversation would go, she’d made up her mind considering the field op before they’d finished dinner. “No.” She turned to face Erywin. “I’m not.”

Erywin was off the bed in an instance. “And why the hell not?”

“Because everyone in the room thinking this Ruth girl may be a Deconstructor is not the same as her being one. And while I could shut this operation down this very second, doing so would leave Tanith in the lurch—”

“Not if you called in the Guardians and told them to take her under their wing.” Erywin wasn’t bothering keeping her feelings concealed. “You need to bring in a team that—”

“That knows what?” Helena waved her arm about the room. “This mission? The objective? We’re that fucking team, remember?” She calmed herself before she could explain more. “We know this girl, we know the local, and we now know there’s someone here who could be upsetting this equation. If this girl is a Deconstructor, she may know Tanith is on the cusp, and she should be preparing to force her into Awareness.”

Erywin calmed herself as well; it wasn’t good to be fighting in front of Annie and Kerry. “That would likely drive here insane.”

“It’s a possibility.” She turned to Annie. “You mentioned that Tanith and this girl talked about getting together for lunch tomorrow?”

“Yes.” Annie sat on the edge of the sofa and leaned forward. “They chatting about a lot of things, but they made plans to get together for lunch about thir—” She rolled her eyes. “About one in the afternoon.”

Helena nodded. “You said you have this Ruth’s number?”

“Yes.”

“I want you to use that number and send a message to Tanith telling her you can get to the mall earlier and you’ll meet for lunch around eleven.”

Annie had been shown how to do that, so she understood the how, but . . . “Why?”

“Because we’ve moving up the time table.” Helena turned to Erywin. “I want you and the kids to be at the mall first thing tomorrow. When Tanith comes in—” She swung around and faced Annie and Kerry. “I want you to do what you were planing to do later in the afternoon: make contact, convince her you want to show her something, then take here across the street to Washington Square Park and give her a demonstration.”

 

Like it or not, Helena is right:  they are the team for the job.  They’ve trained for a month, they know the area and the target, and if they bail there’s nothing that says the bad guys don’t swoop in and take this girl ahead of time and mess here up.  It’s not a good position to be in, and Helena will likely tell the people monitoring them of this twist, and that they may need to get out in a hurry.

In the meantime, however . . .

 

Helena knew, however, that this brought out another matter—and now that it was hanging in the air between Erywin and her, it needed addressing. “Honey, you brought a weapon, right?”

Erywin nodded. “As you instructed.”

“All right.” She glanced over to the sofa and slowly turned towards the children. Time to know our unknowns. “Kerry . . .” He turned his attention to the sorceress. “What can you do, sorcery-wise?” She glanced over at Annie, then back to him. “And I know Annie’s been showing you things, so don’t bullshit us. We need to know everything.”

He looked away from Helena’s glaze for just a second before returning it without hesitation. “The stuff we’ve picked up in class—”

“No: I need to know what you can do if your life—or Erywin’s life, or Annie’s life—depended upon your knowledge.”

“Right.” He glanced towards the window for a second, the came back to Helena. “Annie showed me how to do Shadow Ribbons. She also showed me how to put up a magical screen, and how to use dark energy with regular spells, and I’ve practiced doing that with our shields and with Air Hammer. And . . .” He slowly turned towards Annie.

She nodded towards Helena. “She wants to know: tell her.”

He stared off across the room, not looking at anyone. “Annie showed me how to do Electrify, both major and minor variants.” He looked up at Helena. “I don’t know how good it is, because I haven’t actually tried it on someone.”

“Understood.” Helena turned to Annie. “You know all the same, plus Exsanguination?”

Annie nodded. “And Cold Fire. I can do that, too.”

 

There you have it:  all the little things that Annie has been showing Kerry on the side.  See, this is what happens when you have a soul mate who can pretty much kill you with a look:  she starts showing you the same things she knows.  Just imagine if they do get married and they get into a fight . . .

That leaves on last thing that Helena needs to say.  And it’s not, “We’re having waffles for breakfast tomorrow”:

 

“Yeah, that might come in handy.” She stepped back to take in the room. Helena had hoped she wouldn’t have too make this speech, but given the unknown situation facing them, she felt it was necessary. “I’m saying this now because I don’t want to waste the time saying it tomorrow. What hasn’t been mentioned—but I’m certain Erywin has already considered—if that if Ruth is a Deconstructor, she’s not alone: she’s probably working with one, maybe two other people. Now they wouldn’t have seen us yesterday, because we masked our auras, but tomorrow, when you start showing her what you can do, it’s possible if they’re watching her they’ll see you. And then they’ll know for certain we’re on to them.

“The three of you, when you are on the op tomorrow, if things go sideways and you find yourself knee-deep in the shite, you have full authorization to do whatever is necessary to protect yourself and your team. And I mean anything—so if you find yourself facing down one of these bastards, don’t hold back: kill them.” She took a slow, deep breath. “Because they sure as hell aren’t going to hesitate to kill you . . .”

 

“So, kids, this is where your education in black magic has taken you:  be ready to off someone if becomes necessary, because if you don’t . . .”  You can imagine the kids might not have the easiest time sleeping tonight, wondering if they’re gonna have to fight for their lives and dust a few Deconstructors in the process.  And they won’t get any help from friendly spirits, or magic mirrors, or an army backing them up–

This is gonna be all on them if it it should turn bad.

No one ever said being a witch and a sorceress was gonna be easy.

Attack Time

If it’s Wednesday night, then it must be time to get out and do some writing.  Of course I was out to Panera, for soup an a grilled cheese sandwich, and bottomless ice tea to quench my thirst.  See here . . .

You can't see food, but it's there.  Well, almost.

You can’t see food, but it’s there. Well, almost.

I had a bit of writing to do, because it was the start of Chapter Twenty-Two, otherwise known as Attack.  Simple and too the point, don’t you think?  The scene in question is Sky, because that’s where it takes place, up in the air.  Way up . . .

You’ll notice each scene will have a time stamp.  Every event in this chapter happens over the course of one and a half hours–really closer to an hour and forty-five minutes, but hey.  Particularly in the first four scene there is some overlap, so it should help the reader know that things are happening during these moments.  And if I want to pull them out, I can.  Very simple, yes?

Let’s find out what’s going on?

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

17:00 to 17:08

The sun was low in the sky and deep twilight was falling over Cape Ann and the school. Normally Kerry loved this time of day, but when one was flying around the inside of the walls looking for possible intruders, the gathering darkness made it difficult. The forest on both sides of the wall were steeped in gloom, and the contrast between the still-light sky and the darkness at ground level made using his goggle’s low light function difficult.

For the last ten minutes Emma and he were looking for any kind of movement rather than individuals. They figured someone making a quick move could be spotted easier—and then Kerry remembered how good Annie and he were getting at the Light Bending spell, and figured any Deconstructors hiding beyond the wall were probably far better than him.

Kerry sensed Emma getting eager for the upcoming rest break. She’s been fairly quiet throughout the day, and went right to a nap when they set down at Laputa for their fourteen to fourteen forty-five rest. Kerry figured she was busy doing her job, but there was a small part of his mind that kept flashing back to the question she asked on the observation platform during their first break. Is she really upset because I told her Annie is my soulmate? It puzzled Kerry, because Emma had to know, after seeing them together for the last two months, that Annie and he were together . . .

 

Kerry the eternal clueless dude, trying to figure out what’s on Emma’s mind.  Better off trying to figure out your own, dude.  Besides, Emma’s got something else on her mind:

 

Emma took that moment to clear her throat. “Kerry?”

“Yeah?” He kept his eyes focused on the lightly marked route and the wall tower ahead.

“Do you really think they’re going to make us fly at night?”

He’d half expected this question at some point during the last twenty minutes. They were told during their last rest that as things stood, it looked as if the emergency would continue into the night, and at that point Emma developed a rather disturbed look . . .

“We said we’d fly patrol, didn’t we?” Kerry looked over and gave her a smile that he knew she could see because his face was in light.

“Yeah, but . . .” She looked down to her right into the gloomy forest. “We’ve never flown at night.”

“It should be that hard; we can see the path, and we have night vision on our goggles.” He nodded towards the screens. “We should be able to see that better, too.”

“That’s what the professor said.”

He set up for the turn. “Double Dip tower . . . turn right now.” He swung out wide so there wasn’t a chance he’d run into Emma as she completed her turn. “If they’re going to sit us down, it’ll happen at our next rest.”

“Which should be in the next fifteen, twenty minutes—” She quickly glanced over to Kerry. “Right?”

Kerry almost laughed. “You in a hurry to get out of the sky?”

“No, it’s just—” She hunched her shoulders. “It’s getting colder.”

“Yeah, a little. It is getting . . .” As he was already looking somewhat off to the west Kerry noticed the strange lines rising up from the ground—no, they were too far away for that. Are they coming out of the ocean?

He got on the comm instantly. “Nightwitch, this is Myfanwy. There’s something strange happening in the west beyond the school; looks like it’s coming out of Ipswich Bay. Over.”

Seconds later another voice took command of the conversation. “All flights, this is Fortress. Hold your positions. Over.”

 

Yeah, you wanna fly, you gotta take the good with the bad–and that means flying at night, in the cold, even in the rain if necessary.  Just be glad it isn’t December . . .

In case you’re wondering where this is happening, I did a quick little diorama for you.  Because when you have a three-dimensional map of your school, anything is possible, right?  Here it is.

The scene of the crime, so to speak.

The scene of the crime, so to speak.

For a little reference, the walls are fifteen meters, or fifty feet high.  That pole–atop which sit Emma and Kerry–is one hundred and fifty meters, or four hundred and ninety-two feet, high.  And they’re not really flying west, but more southwest, but because of the swing around the tower, Kerry was facing west.  I got this, you know?

What’s coming next?  This:

 

Team Myfanwy pulled back on their brooms and came to rest one hundred and fifty meters near the northernmost turn of Green Line’s Double Back. Emma now saw what Kerry has noticed. “What are those?”

There thin, dark lines rose into the sky seeming to towers hundred of meters over Kerry’s position. He wondered how no one in the Cape Ann area could see these lines—but if The Foundation can hide the entire school . . . “I have no idea, but . . .” He gulped. “I don’t like it.”

“I don’t either.” Emma leaned forward over her broom. “Are they . . .” She sat up quickly. “Kerry.”

I see.” The line were no longer rising into the sky: they’d begun to pitch towards them and the school. The far end of the lines were now visible as the fronts approached the screen. When they were maybe a half a kilometer away Kerry was able to tell that the line on the left was heading off south of them, while the middle line was heading somewhere to their north—

He followed the line to his left and saw once it was within a hundred meters of them that the line was comprised of hundred—maybe thousand—of creatures. Kerry couldn’t make them out clearly, but he knew there was as far from anything human as possible . . .

His stomach seemed to dropped out of his body as the creatures slammed into the outer screen.

 

This is what the Deconstructors were waiting for:  sunset and a hell of a lot of reinforcements.

 

The area around the impact point flared as brilliant sparks of mystical energy flowed into the area to hold back the horde. The same thing happened to the north as the middle line of created did the same, and he figured the third line was striking the screens far to the north. The screen around them shook and wavered, flexing towards and away from them. The screen was no longer a dim red, but was shifting up and down the spectrum from black to a bright orange.

There were bright flashes outside the screen at the point of impact. Remembering what Annie and he had gone over in Advanced Spells just last Wednesday, he had a sickening feeling that what he was seeing . . .

The screen seemed to erupt inward and a number of creatures—he didn’t know how many—flew into the school grounds. At the moment of the eruption Fortress was on the comms. “We have a breach; we have a breach. Go to ground; go to—”

A tremendous yellow flash filled the sky over the southern school ground. The goggles compensated for the flash and Kerry recovered his sight immediately. No more creatures were entering the school, and the few that had appeared to be heading for cover. But something else caught his eye: the flight team on the High Road ahead and to the south of them. Both were falling out of the sky, their brooms tumbling beside and behind them. They were flailing their arms as they felt towards the trees—

 

And they get what they want:  penetration of the outer defense screen and access to the school grounds.  And for a couple of unlucky students, it looks as if they won’t need to study no more.

Which means things aren’t looking too good for Team Myfanwy.  This is what plays out until the end . . .

 

Kerry.”

The panic in Emma’s voice was enough to snap him out of his shock. He wasn’t facing her when she nearly screamed at him. “The enchantment: it’s loosing power.”

His eyes were drawn to his own HUD because a set of yellow numbers were counting down rapidly as a message in white shone next to them: Levitation Enchantment Power Level.

They were losing power. The enchantment that kept them flying was draining faster than it could be replenished by their bodies—

56 . . . 53 . . . 49 percent.

They were on the west side of the school, far from Carrier, farther from Laputa. They could depart at full speed—

43 . . . 39 . . . 35 percent.

—but there was no way they were going to make it. Kerry figured flying at full speed would drain the enchantment even faster, and when it was gone, then they would crash and . . .

31 . . . 27 . . . 24 percent.

He closed his eyes—

Do you both want to be good sorceresses? Then remember to keep your wits about you while everything it going to hell around you, and you’ll remain in control of any situation. There are no other rules.

He snapped opened his eyes.

21 . . . 19 . . . 16 percent.

There was no other choice.

He barked at his wingmate as loud as possible. “Emma.” He jabbed a finger straight down. “LAND NOW.”

 

Fourteen hundred and sixty-eight words.  A good output for a good scene.

More to come.

You can bet on that.

Sentiments of Fear and Protection

The internet is one more being helpful at Panera, so there isn’t a need to rush through my coffee and head home to write this.  Which is good, because I want to be out today.  I have a lot planed for this morning, afternoon, and even the evening, and the wicked can’t rest.  And this is just the first part.

Coffee and new brows.  It's a great morning to be . . . up.

Coffee and new brows. It’s a great morning to be . . . up.

Even though it was a long day yesterday, I managed a lot of writing.  Now, fifteen hundred and fifty words may not seem like a lot to some people, but given that I was a bit weepy last night, and my emotions were running all over the place, I consider it a great feat.  Not to mention it was an emotional scene, which did me little good as well.

We are back to Annie as the focus.  Isis has spoken and now it’s up to the Headmistress to get the students informed.  the news isn’t good:  students are being sent to their towers where they’ll stay, teams are being sent outside–people on the ground and people in the air.  And there’s a triage center being set up in the Rotunda.

Welcome to War Footing Central, population you.

My baby snakes, Annie and Kerry, are suppose to report to their towers.  The operative word here is “suppose” because there’s also been a call for volunteers . . .

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie was on her feet moments before Kerry. She wondered if he was worried about what was happening, or perhaps even frightened. Being in the front as they were, it was impossible not to see the concern on the faces of the instructors and staff, and given that Kerry was only now learning about the dangers surrounding The Foundation—

Kerry.”

Annie turned towards the sound of the voice; Emma was standing only a couple of meters away. Oh, no: I know what she wants. “Emma—”

Kerry snapped out of whatever had held him seconds before. “What is it, Emma?”

The girl seemed like she was too excited to stand still. “Do you want to volunteer? I think Professor Salomon will let us if we ask.”

“Um . . .” He looked down for a moment. “I have to—”

Emma didn’t wait for his answer. “Annie, you want to? You’re a good flier.”

“No, Emma.” Annie didn’t care that she was using a far harsher tone that she should. “I’m not going out there.”

She didn’t seem to mind being shot down and turned back to her original target. “Kerry, come on. We can help out.”

Kerry nodded a couple of times. “Give me a minute, okay?” He looked at Emma with half-closed eyes. “Please?”

“Okay.” Having finally gotten the message she moved off out of earshot.

 

Emma of the Buzzkill, another ginger thrill seeker who wasn’t to go off into the wild blue yonder.  You’re just waiting for her to get whacked out at any moment by a certain Bulgarian witch.

Annie also knows her moyata polovinka, and she senses what he’s feeling:

 

By now Annie didn’t need to guess what Kerry was feeling: his entire body told the story. He wasn’t frighted—he was being torn apart by indecision. His mind is saying one thing, and his heart is saying another. She gently touched his left arm. “Kerry.”

He jumped as if shocked. “Annie, I—”

Go.”

For a moment Kerry seemed to not understand. “What?”

“Go. You want to, I know it.”

Emma quickly approached the table. “Kerry, we gotta—”

Kerry turned on Emma and nearly shouted. “In a minute.” He waited for her to retreat before speaking in his normal voice to Annie. “I’m sorry.”

“Why? Because you want to help?” Annie brushed his cheek. “I should have known my flier wants to be in the sky, even when there’s danger.”

His voice was choking with emotion. “I feel like I’m running out on you.”

Annie took hold of both his hand. “Kerry, please look at me.” She didn’t speak again until she knew she had his attention. “Do you remember when I said I’d never tell you what to do, that you had to learn these things on your own?”

He choked back tears as he nodded once. “Yeah.”

“I’m breaking that promise this one time—because if you don’t go and at least ask if you can help, you’ll hate yourself.” She looked at the floor and sighed. “Or you’ll hate me, and I couldn’t live with that.” She put her arms around him and hugged him tight. “Don’t hate yourself.”

 

When I wrote the first “Go,” it was all I could do to keep the tears back.  I felt the indecision Annie felt, because she knows it might not be all rainbows and sunshine out there beyond The Pentagram.  She also knows that if she doesn’t let me out to try this on his own, he’ll stew for however long they’d end up locked in their tower.  Let’s face it, though:  neither of them are Rapunzel, and the tower life isn’t for them.

This ends with a sweet parting:

 

When he broke the kiss seconds later Annie threw her arms around his neck and whispered in his ear. “Promise me one thing—”

“Yes?”

“If you’re paired with Emma, don’t let her talk you into anything.”

Kerry looked at Annie from the corner of his eye. “She won’t—”

“Promise. Please.”

He nodded slowly. “I promise.”

She kissed his check. “You better run, then.”

Kerry started to take a step, then stopped. “Talk to Coraline about doing triage.”

Annie had considered doing just that, but wanted to hear Kerry’s reasoning. “Why?”

“You know a little of that stuff working with your mother, right?”

“Yes.”

“And . . .” He looked up at the ceiling, then around the hall. “You’ll be in here. It’s gotta be better than being the only A Level in our tower.”

“I’ll do that.”

Kerry hesitated for just a moment, then drew close and pressed himself against her head. “We’ll talk when I get back.”

“We will.” She lightly slapped his arm. “Now go.”

He looked at Annie for a second or two as he rounded the table, then grabbed Emma before sprinting off to see Professor Salomon. Annie hopped against hope that when they asked if they could volunteer the professor would say no, but after a few seconds she saw Vicky nod followed all of them heading off in the direction of the Atrium.

Annie slowly closed her eyes and took a long, cleansing breath. She watch the three of them walk out of the hall before raising her right hand to her lips, kissing her fingertips, and holding them out after the departing boy. “Ostanete bezopasno, moyata dzhindzhifil kosa momche. Molya te, vŭrni mi.” She spun on her heel and began sprinting towards the west exit, waiving her right arm. “Nurse Coraline? Nurse Coraline.”

 

And there you have it:  my kids being separated for the first real time since they got together.  And what does Annie say there at the end as she blows him a kiss?

You should know by now I got this covered.

You should know by now I got this covered.

At this point it’s a matter of sealing up the joint and getting everything into place.  I even added another scene last night, which will be the next to write.  Not a big scene, but . . . well, the title is enough to tell you what’s coming.

Pain, that's what.

Pain, that’s what.

One last thing you might find interesting:  a few people found my use of Esperanto interesting, and even went so far as to look it up as they’d never heard of the language.  Well, I’m here to tell you, it’s possible you saw it and never knew it.  Did you know all the signs in the movie The Great Dictator were written in Esperanto?  Or that it was used in the television show Red Dwarf?  Here is a list of where it’s been used in movies and television, with the exception of one:  the great lost movie Incubus.  I say “great” only in the sense that I’m joking, and it is most well known for the fact that it was lost and only recently rediscovered in France, and that it stars William Shatner.  Yes, The Shat speaks.  the.  Es.per.an . . . to.  If you want to give it a look, you’ll find the movie here.  I warn you, it’s pretty fuzzy because the only remaining print was in bad shape, but you’re not really wanting to watch it, you’re waiting to hear The Incubus Girls (Yes, this is a real thing) speak in a made-up language.  And to see if Shatner chews up any scenery.

In that last matter, I’m certain you won’t be disappointed.

Isis of the Dark

First off, let me tell you that taking a couple of hours and going out to get your brows waxed does wonders for your mental state.  The skin is still a little red, but they look so much better now; it doesn’t look like I have a couple of dark caterpillars crawling across my forehead.

Not to mention that I needed a little “me time” yesterday, because I was just losing it during the morning.  No energy, no urge to do anything.  It was really suck-o, people.  Then someone said, “Hey, Cassidy, you need to go out and get your brows down, relax, just enjoy yourself,” and that’s exactly what I did.  Had them done, made an appointment to go back to do something else in a couple of weeks, got a small sub for dinner, and finally made it home about nine PM.

And then sat down and wrote almost nine hundred and fifty words.

I started out by repeating Isis’ comments from the end of the last scene, only this time I wrote them in English so the people at home could follow along . . .

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Isis flew down from the Security Center to the Dining Hall, hurrying to bring the news to the headmistress and the other. She motioned the west door open and flew though, touching down in the empty space between the students and the gathered instructors about five meters ahead of the closing door. With all eyes now on her she shouted as she stomped towards the Headmistress. “We’re dark; we’re in the dark. The whole fucking system just went dark.”

Mathilde motioned for Isis to calm down. “Isis, please: not in front of the students. Now, slow down and explain.”

Isis continued speaking in Esperanto, the language nearly every administrator and instructor in The Foundation spoke in public when they didn’t want Normals to know what they were saying. She expected everyone facing her would do the same. “The networks just went dark—”

Helena leaned forward as she spoke. “Which ones?”

All of them.”

 

So now you know what she and Mathilde were speaking:  Esperanto.  Created in 1887, it’s the most wildly spoken constructed international auxiliary language, and actually translates into English as “One who hopes”.  Humm . . . sounds just like the sort of language an organization that maybe controls the world from the shadows would use . . .

What happened is this:

 

Isis took a moment to calm herself, then nodded twice. “The current situation is this: I was on a five-way video conversation with Dragon Home, Dawson Creek, The Cosmodrome, Loongana, and Hayasaka—”

“I thought you were going to contact Thunderhead?”

“I wasn’t, but they went dark about a minute after I sent them a message. Anyway, I’m speaking with them about the situation at Edinburgh and Valparasio, and Dawson Creek goes dark. Then Loongana and Hayasaka. Less than twenty seconds later I lose Dragon Home and The Cosmodrome. All of them, dark, in the span of forty seconds.

“I had Holly immediately send out a message on the educational network to find out if anyone else has noticed this, and there’s no reply from anyone. So I go over to the security network and send a message to Boston—nothing. I send a message to New York—nothing. I shoot off messages to San Fransisco, to Amsterdam, to London—not a damn thing. I even sent messages off to Chicago and Paris on both the Security and Foundation Open networks, and I can’t get a reply from them, or from anyone else.”

Isis held her table tightly against her side as she addressed the Headmistress. “As of four minutes ago we are completely cut off from The Foundation. I can’t even find the headquarter servers using the alternate IPs I know I can ping through the Internet. They simply aren’t there.”

 

And just so you can tell where is where, Dragon Home, as stated, is in Sweden.  Dawson Creek is in Canada, and is the southern entrance to the Alaska Highway.  Loongana is in Australia, Hayasaka is in Japan, and The Cosmodrome is really the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.  Thunderhead is in South Africa.  The Foundation is everywhere!

All everything that’s when down, it’s time for the rubber to his the road, and that’s where Isis steps up and lays it all out for everyone:

 

The time for debate was over: Isis stepped directly before the Headmistress and faced her. “Per our earlier agreement, I’m initiating Level Two Security Protocols as of right now. Who are your seconds?”

Mathilde was a bit take aback finding herself being questioned on her second-in-commands so abruptly. “Isis—”

Who are your seconds?”

There was no dodging the question: she’d given Isis this authority hours before, and her Director of Security was now issuing orders. “Matthias and Deanna.”

Isis pointed at the Arts and Music instructor. “Matthias, you’re not a coven leader: get to your station.”

He looked to the Headmistress for instruction; Mathilde nodded then motioned with her head towards the east door. Professor Ellison got up and immediately left the Dining Hall.

Isis now addressed the rest of the assembled instructors and staff. “Deanna, since you’re a coven leader, you can wait and escort your students to your tower. That goes for the rest of you leaders: get your kids to your towers, get your administrative assistants in place, and then get to what you’re suppose to do.

“Trevor, get your assistants and lock down the library; Harpreet, get out to the Observatory and get it preped. Coraline, the portals into the hospital from your triage station will be operational in five minutes and your people have been notified to start setting up.

“Ramona, Helena: you need to gather your Rapid Response Teams and get to the Manor; Vicky, you and Erywin need to do the same with your Ops Patrols and Air Assault Teams and get out to the Fight School. You guys know the routine: if you need volunteers, ask, then get to your assembly points.”

Isis pointed at Mathilde. “Tell the kids what’s going on and then leave.” She nodded towards the east door. “Holly’s outside with a big gun; she’ll make sure nothing happens when she escorts you to Sanctuary.”

Her orders given, Isis tapped an imagination watch on her right wrist. “You have fifteen minutes to get to your stations—I’m locking down The Pentagram in twenty.” She pointed at one woman out of all the other instructors. “Wends, you’re with me.” Isis turned and headed for the same door from which she’d entered; Wednesday Douglas joined her, and both left the hall, neither looking at or speaking another word to anyone before leaving . . .

 

And that is how you handle an emergency in my school.

I also managed to clean up the time line so that it makes more sense, and this morning realized that I probably need to add a scene in there between Issuing Orders and Into the Air.  Because I’m nothing if not as thorough as my Director of Security . . .

Just like my brows, the time line is all cleaned up.

Just like my brows, the time line and everything else is all cleaned up.

The Short of the Short of It

Well, I finally did it . . .

If you thought I'd won Powerball, I'm here to disapoint you.

If you thought I’d won Powerball, I’m here to disappoint you.

Chapter Nineteen is finished.  I’d have to go back and look, but I’m guessing that this is the shortest chapter in my novel.  I have many single scenes that run more than thirty-six hundred words, and the last scene in the chapter is one of the shortest stand alone scenes I’ve ever done.

It’s simple and too the point.  Let’s start with Kerry, sitting in his room, wondering about a few things–

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Usually he’d think about something to do, somewhere to visit—but today he seemed frozen, unable to even get up from the bed and turn off the music streaming from his computer. At the moment the Wind & Wuthering album was playing, and the song Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers had just ended and In That Quiet Earth was starting. Kerry liked the album, liked the songs, particularly these last two and the one that followed, Afterglow. Tonight he planed on bringing the computer to Astronomy class, along with his ear buds, and he’d play it for Annie, let her hear it for the first time since he knew she’d never listened to it before.

He felt it was necessary, because . . .

He’d felt strange since the dance. Not strange in a bad way, but strange in a way he’d never imagined. Actually, the feeling had started from before the dance; it had started the morning after getting released from the hospital. As with everything he analyzed everything, and as he got off the bed and slowly walked towards the window, he realized that the dance had colored a lot of her perception, that the night had been too magical, and—

He looked out the window and nearly gasped. The entire sky was a dull crimson.

He looked for clouds and saw them, more or less the same color of the sky, but with a different contrast because clouds were white and the sky was usually blue. The sun was behind a group of clouds, but the brightness appeared different from both the clouds and sky—

 

Well . . . that’s unusual to say the least.  Not everyday you wake up and the sky’s turned red.  Then again, there’s very little around this Salem joint that should be surprising by now.

The kids meet and run outside–

 

They hurried out of the tower and down the covered walkway as quickly as possible, running almost as fast as possible. They held on to the posts of the canopy while looking up at the red sky. Kerry was gasping as he spoke. “Look at that.”

Annie examined the sky from the south of The Pentagram to the north. “It’s incredible.”

“Do you know what it is?”

“No.” Though I have my suspicions . . . “I’ve never heard my parents mention this.” She leaned against Kerry. “I’m suppose you have a few ideas.”

Kerry blew out his last breath, then waited a few seconds before speaking. “It’s something that’s over the school, probably starting in the walls, because it doesn’t change the look of anything in here.” He finally stood away from the walkway posts. “I think it’s some kind of defensive magic probably tied to something in the walls.”

We’re thinking the same thing— “Why do you believe that?”

“I don’t know for sure, but . . .” He wrapped an arm around Annie. “It’s the only thing that makes sense. It doesn’t seem like something the school would do just to do.”

Annie nodded slowly. “I agree.”

 

We already know there are “screens” around the school, and Isis told the Headmistress that when she powered the defense screens up all the way, it was going to be necessary to explain things to the students.  Now we know why.  People on the inside can see it in place.

And that leads to the last bit of ominous . . .

 

His chuckle was without mirth. “Red skies at morning; sailors take warning.”

“What’s that?”

“Old rhyme that sailors here used to say. ‘Red skies at night; sailor’s delight’—that meant the ocean would stay calm and they didn’t have to worry about a storm blowing up at night. ‘Red skies at morning; sailors take warning’—just the opposite. They could expect inclement weather during the day.”

Annie wasn’t surprised in the least that Kerry knew this. “But we’re not on the ocean.”

“We’re right outside Gloucester, and that’s one of the most famous fishing ports in America. So we’re . . . a little connected. What I’m wondering . . .” Kerry released Annie and faced her. “If it’s defensive magic, what are they defending against?”

It wasn’t fair to keep more secrets from her soul mate—and Annie knew she could tell him anything by now and it was unlikely he’d find it shocking. “Kerry . . . you need to hear about the Deconstructors.”

 

Hey, great way to start the day, kids!  Sky’s all red, and now your girlfriend is gonna tell you about something with a scary name.  Good Morning!

No one ever said your Samhain was gonna be boring.

Bringing ‘Round the Warnings

I’m writing again and not doing that video thing this time–which was, honestly, fun, but very time consuming.  If and when I do another, I’ll have to plan things out a little better.

Here it is, new month and all, yeah?  Just like in my novel, it’s a new month:  1 November, 2011.  And just changing that date caused more trouble than I’d imagined, because there are later scenes in this part that are supposed to take place close to sunset, and me–checking the historical data for that period of time, naturally–discovered that just by moving the date back on week, the time of sunset changed by just over an hour.  That meant I needed to change up my time line in Scrivener and Aeon to get everything right–and you know what?  It’s even better:  the weather will alternate between cloudy and clear, and it’s even chillier.

"So was this what it looked like when you were out there?" "Yeah.  Only there was a lot more screaming--" "Smack!" "Oouh!" "That's not even funny, Kerry."

“So was this what it looked like when you were out there?”
“Yeah. Only there was a lot more screaming–“
Smack!”
Oouh!”
“That’s not even funny, Kerry.”

There you go, Kerry:  giving things away and being smart mouthed with your girlfriend.  You should know better.

This next part, Part Seven, is basically going to be my version of 24, only with a lot less torture and fewer moles infiltrating a secret government agency.  All of the action takes place within a twenty-four hour time frame, so this is going to be a long day for the people of my school.  Six chapters, but they shouldn’t be long chapters.  I hope.

Anyway, it was time to go–

See?  Already to start.

See? Already to start.

–and get this party started.  I did that by having someone making a grand entrance:

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Isis flung open doors of the West Entrance, and was through the West Transept and circling around in The Rotunda to land on the first floor balcony outside the Security Center before they had a chance to close. She could have teleported from outside the Instructor’s Residence to here, but given how little time she found to actually fly these days, any time she could take to the air was a good one for her—even if it was only four hundred meters and less that twenty seconds airborne.

 

Isis Mosman, Director of Security, and a former student Gifted with Flight.  It’s not levitation she’s doing:  think of it more like what some of the Marvel superheroes do when they fly–they just up and go.  And she wasn’t even exposed to Terrigen Mist.

Her people are there–well, two-thirds of them.  Let’s see then:

 

Holly McPhie and Suhaila Ogata were monitoring the consoles this morning: Isis’ second-in-command, Tamera Berube, wouldn’t arrive on the grounds for another thirty minutes. Both women looked up as Isis entered wearing her red flannel pajamas and matching slipper, but Suhaila, the shift supervisor, was the one to address her. “Sorry to get you out of bed, Chief.”

“Don’t be: I’m paid to get up at strange hours.” She hovered over Suhaila’s work station. “What’s up?”

She brought up a browser and began retrieving information. “Eighteen minutes ago we received a message from ECMI that they were having problems with their outer screens.”

“Let me see it.” ECMI was the Edinburgh Center for Magical Instruction, one of the two larger “Secondary Schools” that The Foundation ran to handle students that were almost good enough to met Salem standards—but not quite. Isis knew the place well: she’d worked with their IT people on an overhaul of their system back in 2004, and had developed a good relationship with a few of folks there.

 

That’s the first mention of the two “smaller” schools that exist outside Salem.  If there was time for a history lesson–and there is just a little–you’d find that Edinburgh was a lot like Salem:  a school for witches hidden in the woods just south of the city.  It’s all bought up by The Foundation now, and has joined their network.  In time you’ll see the other “smaller” school mentioned, but not just yet.

A message comes in and looks normal; seems people are tap, tap, tapping on the outer screens of the school.  Sure there are defenses because . . . well, you’ll see.  But then a second one comes in, probably sent by The Control Voice . . .

 

To all stations on this network:

Security reports that we may have experience a minor intrusion. They indicate there was a minor fluctuation against the outer defense screen at nine sixteen local time, and that there is evidence that an intrusion may have occurred. They are currently pursuing the matter and expect to issue a verbal report momentarily.

Please stand by . . .

 

When you’re told to “stand by” it’s probably not a good thing.  Isis figures this out when she reads the third message–which I’m not showing–and gets her fears more or less confirmed.

 

Isis reread the message once just to make certain she was correct in the initial belief, then checked the domain name as suggested. “They sent this out on the open network?” She shook her head. “This is bullshit.”

“That’s why we woke you up.” Suhaila turned off the holo display. “We haven’t been able to contact ECMI since that last message. They’re in the dark.”

 

You’re going to hear the expression, “in the dark,” more than a few times in this part.  You’ll also get a gleaming of some of the facilities I’ve put together for The Foundation.  ECMI is just one:  many others will be mentioned.  And you’re starting to see that even though we’re dealing with witches and people who may have superpowers, communications ain’t being handled by owls, and the schools are sitting behind some pretty good defenses.  How good?  You’ll see.

Just sit back and enjoy what’s probably going to be the next month of this day.

It’s gonna be fun.