The End of the Recriminations

In the last three days–well, two nights and two mornings, actually–I’ve written just short of four thousand words for this first scene of Chapter Thirty-Nine.  And let me tell you, it was hard.  Every moment of writing was difficult.  I only managed a little over three hundred words last night, one because I was tied, and two before it was just hard pulling up the strength I needed to get those words down.

There were a lot of emotions on my end about writing this scene.  I may not seem like it, but it’s a hard thing to point out that even though you’ve created this nice, seemingly perfect society which is trying to make the world a better place for everyone, it’s disconcerting to know that your society is still littered with shitbirds pushing their own agendas.  But The Foundation ain’t Utopia, and the Guardians deal with problems not only in this world, but . . . well, in time you’ll find out.  If I ever get to those novels.

So, yes:  this scene and the last chapter show there’s just a bit of cynicism circulating about the halls of power that run this world.  Everything is flawed, because even super-powerful world-controlling witches are, deep down, nothing but people.

But they do want to help you.  Really.

It’s just that Maddie did something bad.  And in doing so she pissed off the wrong sorceress.  Oopsie!

 

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

Maddie took a step back from the angry sorceress, unsure of what the woman would do next. “I’m sorry, Helena, but I had my reasons—”

“I give zero shits about your reasons.” Despite knowing that she shouldn’t get angry, Helena felt her anger starting to slip loose from where she kept it hidden. “Kerry saved your life, you ungrateful bitch—”

Maddie’s temper came on strong in that moment. “That was an accident.”

It doesn’t matter. He saved you.” Helena regained control and returned to her smoldering, cool demeanor. “You’d be dead right now were it not for him. And you repay that by being a spy. By telling the Guardians—”

“What they needed to know.” Maddie spit the words at Helena. “Both of them, they’re the sort of students the Guardians are looking for, and you know it’s the truth.” She slashed her arm downward in a dismissive manner. “If you were doing your job—”

“I am doing my job: I’m the Head Sorceress of Salem.” Helena’s face twisted into a near snarl. “I train students, not spy on them. That’s what I do.” She jabbed a finger in Maddie’s direction. “It’s what you should do, too.”

 

Yeah, you gotta admit, that’s a pretty crappy thing to do–have your life saved by some scared kid and then continue to justify your actions because what he did was an accident.  Maybe she included that in her rat

 

“Someone in San Francisco evidently doesn’t think that’s true.” Maddie smirked. “Maybe they wanted a different point of view from someone who’s suffered because of the Deconstructors.”

Helena paused for about five seconds in the wake of Maddie’s declaration of loss. When she spoke, her response came in a low, tight tone. “David blew himself up taking out four maniacs in powered armor. That was your husband’s choice, and he did it to save the school, save the students, and save you. It hurt that you lost him, I get it . . .”

 

In the prequel novel to this, you meet David, Maddie’s husband, who is also an instructor at the school.  You learn they were coven and level mates, and they married after completing their Life Experience Travels.  David encountered an instructor working for the Deconstructors and three students getting ready to start their powered armor that they’d built in class–now you know a little of what goes on down in the super science areas–and were going to tear up the school when David decided the only way to take them out was to blow up a suit of bio-armor he was working on and take out the bad guys.  Unfortunately for him, he was wearing said bio-armor, and died along with the bad guys.

So, yeah, Maddie is still hurting from that, and she doesn’t want to see anyone else go through that pain.  The problem with that explanation is that you have to give it to someone to someone who can’t imagine what you’ve gone through and hope they sympathize.

Who does she tell, though?  Helena.

Bad move . . .

 

Her voice tightened as she once more drew to within half a arm’s length of the coven leader. “But you justifying you actions because of loss isn’t going to work. ‘Cause The Scouring didn’t just end here, it kept going for about two years after that shit parade started on these grounds. You wanna talk loss, Maddie? You wanna talk about Tower One, hum? You wanna talk about what I lost? I lost coven and levelmates; I lost colleagues; I lost friendsI lost my fucking legs.” She grabbed the lapel of Maddie’s jacket and yanked the woman towards her. “Do not ever justify your shitty actions on the death of your husband, because even with all I’ve lost, I’ve never went running to the Guardians and told them confidential things about our students because I thought it just might help The Foundation Cause. I will protect these students; I will never sell them out.”

Harsh reality is Helena has tried her best to protect people, and even when it seems like she’s playing people, there’s keeping certain students in mind.  She let Annie into the Black Vault because she wanted to know what she was trying to learn.  And by knowing that, she has a good idea of what she’s showing Kerry.  One might question her letting Annie do that last, but there’s a reason for that, too, and she’ll let on more about that in time.  That seems to be a theme with me:  in time.  Everything gets resolved eventually.  It’s just I’m the only one who knows when.

Helena throws out a final warning to Maddie–one of which is along the lines of, “If I catch you doing this again I’m coming to your house and we’ll . . . talk,” and she jaunts off to The Pentagram with Erywin.  as they’re walking in there’s this conversation:

 

They teleported to a point near Founder’s Tree and began walking, hand-in-hand up to Founder’s Gate. Erywin said nothing right away, but as they passed through the huge, vaulted archway, she found she couldn’t maintain her silence any longer. “Are you going to say anything to the other coven leaders or Mathilde?”

“No. It’s not my place to go to Mathilde and tell her what I found. If Maddie wants to resign that’s up to her, but I’m not going to pressure her to do so.” Helena sighed. “What she did was shitty, but that doesn’t mean she’s a terrible instructor.”

“But do you think she’ll stop sending things to the Guardians?”

“Yes.” She turned to her right and nodded. “She knows I’m watching her now, and knows if I catch her passing along anything again, I’ll come after her.”

Erywin didn’t really want to know the answer to the next question, but she had to ask. “And do what?”

Helena didn’t blink as she answered. “Kill her.”

“At her farm?”

“Yes.”

Erywin squeezed her companion’s hand. “You would really do that, love?”

Helena cast a sideways glance back. “Honey . . .” Her face broke into a smile. “You know me better than to ask that.”

 

Hey, Helena’s smiling!  Now you know what makes her happy:  the idea of coming after you and putting you down.  And while people may question why Helena wouldn’t try and get Maddie kicked out–Helena’s still a Guardian, and just like all her brethren, she’s playing angles.  And who’s to say Helena won’t use this leverage on Maddie later to get something she wants?  Well, I’m the one to say that, that’s who.  Really, it’s a bitch getting burned in this sort of business, because then you sort of become a chum line for other sharks to feed upon.  Maybe Maddie won’t resign, but all the while she remains at school she’s gotta wonder if today is the day she looked up from her desk and discovers Helena standing in the doorway with a big smile on her face . . .

Nope.  Not something I’d want.

"Why is Helena having me look up all this Sailor Moon porn?  Maybe death would be better . . ."

“Why is Helena having me look up all this Sailor Moon porn? Maybe death would be better . . .”

Sometime today I start in on the Mile High Club scene, and the return of a certain wingmate that I know some people would like to see die as well.  Where is that scene going?

Into Thin Air.  Really.

The Short Suppositions

So here we are, the final post of 2014, but the penultimate writing for The Novel That Wouldn’t End.  But that’s not true anymore, either.  Sitting here on the cusp of a new year, there are seventeen remaining scenes, split among five chapters and two parts.  And once those are finished, then it’s The End time and I can take a bit of a rest and figure out what comes next.  There’s also the possibility that I’m going to add one last scene, because the final scene in the novel is really two-in-one, and I do love splitting that stuff up.

The funny thing is I don’t remember writing a lot last night.  Getting into Google Docs and having a friend help with editing another project I’m working on, yeah, that took a while, but when I comes to the novel it didn’t seem like I wrote a great deal–and yet, there’s two thousand and sixty-six words in the scene, and that’s not something to brush aside.

But what were those words?  Questions asked by Erywin, questions answered by Helena, and, it would seem, and understanding between them of what may lay ahead for my kids.

None of this are happy thoughts, but then what are at this point?

 

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

Erywin took a long, deep breath before asking her next question. “Any news on Ruth?”

“According to the people who were doing clean-up, the woman you fought was her doppelgänger. They’ve checked up on her family and they’d fine—mother, father, younger brother, all still alive. She probably left in a hurry from home just like fake Kaden did.” Helena shook her head. “As far as the real Ruth is concerned, we’ll never see her again. The Deconstructors are good at disposing bodies: they either dissolved her after leaching as many memories as they could from her, or dumped her in the middle of nowhere.” She slipped her hand from Erywin’s and folded both in her lap. “I figured a team’s looking into the matter now, and by this time tomorrow Ruth McRoberts will have never existed.”

Erywin hated hearing such news. “Such a waste. The girl has one year of school with Tanith, and for that she dies. Not to mention I hate it when women join up with the Deconstructors—”

“Our struggle stopped being the matriarchy verses the patriarchy a long time ago, my dear. May as get used to the fact there are as many pissed off female witches these days as there are male who aren’t buying into what The Foundation is offering.”

 

Just as they would have done had Kerry and Emma died, it looks like the Guardians are going in and “harmonize”, as they would say, the McRoberts Family with the new reality.  You don’t have a daughter; you never did.  And everyone who ever knew her will forget she existed.  Maybe Tanith will remember her, but she’ll never know that the girl she was talking to the day before she met Annie and Kerry was an impostor.

Also, in that last statement from Helena, you get a tiny glimmer of The Foundation/Deconstructor brouha.  Is it really as simply as a battle between the genders?  Hum . . . you’ll probably find out if I ever get around to writing the third novel.

Something else is on Erywin’s mind . . .

 

“True.” Erywin had been carrying a question since they arrived at the CDC, and she needed it answered. “Why didn’t they attack the children right away? Why did they wait?”

“Could be any number of reasons.” Helena had wondered about this as well. “Best answer I can come up with is miscommunication on the Deconstructor’s part. When Tanith left early fake Kaden probably didn’t check with fake Ruth to see when they were suppose to get together. He probably then told the third member of the party to get over to the mall and get some eyes on Tanith, and by the time he got there Annie and Kerry had already hooked up with Tanith and were on their way to the park.” Helena crossed her legs. “That would explain fake Kaden leaving in a hurry: once they realized there were Foundation witches with Tanith, there was a need to get everyone on site in a hurry. And then the kids went invisible and silent, you were laying low, so . . .” She shrugged. “They threw up blocking spells and waited for everyone to show themselves.”

 

Deconstructors:  Bad Guys You Don’t Want Planning Anything.  And there is some truth here, because they don’t have a huge network, they don’t have centralized headquarters, they seem like a bunch of mopes involved in a rear guard action.  Which, we all know now, can screw up a modern army pretty well if you plan your hit and runs effectively.

Something pushes Erywin’s buttons, however, and it would appear that the Deconstructors moved into KC about a month before Team Salem showed.  As Erywin points out in a passive-aggressive way, that was about the time they were called into action.  So one might assume . . .

 

Erywin sighed before standing up. “Walk with me, please.” As soon as Helena was along side, Erywin began speaking in a low, confidential voice. “Tell me you had no idea we were going to run into Deconstructors.”

“No mentions what so ever, and I didn’t have anyone coming to me with secret information.” Helena stared straight ahead. “You saw the same reports I saw.”

“I believe you. I know you’d never lie to me, and if there had been evidence of Deconstructors, we wouldn’t have gone.” Erywin stopped near a small line of trees and stared out over the lake. “But I think someone in San Francisco knew. I think they were aware of what the kids could do. And . . .” She exhaled a long, low sigh. “I think they wanted to throw those kids into a situation where they’d have to do everything they could to stay alive, and they’d use everything magical they had to make sure that happened.” She frowned. “It seems they got their wish.”

 

If the Guardians are good at watching and manipulating, then one might stand to reasons that they knew there was a good chances that a throw-down was inevitable.  I mean, if you suspect you’ve got a couple of wonder witches working for you, it’d be a shame to let their powers and skills go to waste, right?

And what does Helena think?

 

Helena slowly reached out and took Erywin’s hand. She held it in silence for about fifteen seconds, just staring out over the lake with her partner and companion. “I believe that, too. I know the Guardians too well, and even though everything seemed on the up-and-up . . . it appears that everything was leading to the three of you confronting the Deconstructors.”

Yep–she’s got the same sinking feeling.  Probably even more so for her, because she not only knows the sort of buttholery the Guardians can employee, she helped put the kids on the firing line.

Which leaves my two witches having these last thoughts:

 

Erywin said nothing, allowing the quiet of the CDC campus gather around them. “What happens now?”

“Now?”

“Are the Guardians going to keep after them until they bring them into the fold?”

Helena shrugged. “Why wouldn’t they? They kept after me, didn’t they?”

Erywin snorted. “Yours was a different situation; they knew what you were from day one.”

Helena’s dark eyes shifted just enough that she could take in Erywin’s profile. “Yeah? What the hell makes you think they haven’t known the same about those two?”

 

That’s right, Helena:  plant that kernel of doubt that maybe the Guardians have known something for a while, and this was their way of proving it.  The situation was different with Helena–her grandmother did work for the Guardians, and though it’s never said, her mother works for them as well–and Helena was pretty much learning to kill at an early age.  It could be said that the Guardians have had their eye on Annie for a while, but Kerry?  Well, he did have the fortune of living right in the Guardian’s back yard in San Francisco for a few years, and they picked up on him pretty easily, so . . .

I’m not saying.  At least not right away.

Act Three is currently just over seventy-six thousand words–

That'll do quite nicely, now, won't it?

That’ll do quite nicely, now, won’t it?

–And by the time I’m finished with tonight’s scene with Annie and Kerry, it’ll be closer to seventy-eight thousand.

We’ll see, won’t we?

In the Link

I have written a lot these last couple of days, completing just a minute or two ago the longest scene I’ve done in some time.  How much?  This much.

 

1107 12/27 night

842 12/28 morning

1501 12/28 evening

555 12/29 morning

 

That’s a lot of words to get out, but then there were a lot of things going–namely, trying to stay alive as Erywin and the kids make their way to safety.

All they gotta do is enter the stairway on the left and walk.

All they gotta do is enter the stairway on the left and walk.

But is it going to be that simple?  Nope.  Never is.

 

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

Erywin did her best not to look nervous or tight. She only glanced at Kerry a couple of times during the forty meter stroll to the entrance to The Link. There were actually two, and the second one was about ten meters closer, but that way up consisted of a lift, and Erywin wasn’t about to put herself and three children in a small, confined space, not while there were a few magical maniacs running about. While the stairs weren’t exactly the safest way up, either, there was room to move, making their odds of survival far greater.

As if he were reading her mind Kerry pulled out his mobile and slowed to check the display, allowing Erywin to get to the entrance first. She opened the door and held it as Kerry toddled towards her. “Come along, young man.” It was a simply move, but it was enough to allow the girls to hurry by and get inside the stairwell. A movement later Kerry, still looking at his mobile, walked inside. Erywin was close behind.

Erywin took the lead as they headed up the stairs, with Kerry right behind her. The girls slowly faded into sight about half way up, so by the time they were ready to step into The Link proper. Erywin checked the walkway while Annie returned Kerry’s backpack. It was quiet: there were a few people to her right heading in the direction of the train station, and from what she could make out, it looked as if there were a few people already on the other side of Pershing Road. No one seemed headed in their way, and Erywin didn’t know if she should count that as a blessing or curse. It would make it easier for them to cross the road among a group of Normals, but the longer they waited for some to come along, the greater the odds they could be attacked where they stood.

 

They made it that far, and so far so good.  Of course it’s only been about a minute of walking, but hey, no one’s set them on fire–yet.  Time for the Professor’s Pep Talk before going.

 

There wasn’t time to drag this out. Erywin sent a message to Helena, then turned to the children. “I’ve passed along a message; they know we’re crossing over to the Center and I’ll send another message once we’ve jaunted to the safe location.” She turned to her two students. “You know it’s likely to get tricky, yeah?”

Annie nodded; Kerry looked at Annie for about two seconds, then turned back to Erywin. “Yeah.”

“Good.” She gave them both a big smile. “I know I can count on you.”

Kerry nodded. “A good sorceress keeps their wits about them—”

Annie finished the statement. “—When everything is going to hell around them.”

Erywin shook her head. “I should have known you’d pull that one out.”

Annie smiled. “Of course we would.”

“Then let’s get ready to move. Tanith—” She pointed at the girl. “You stay close behind me, but if you feel anyone push you to the ground, you go down and stay there.” She nodded, but said nothing. “Annie, Kerry: you know what to do. You know the code word?” They both nodded. “All right . . .”

Looking into the walkway corridor Erywin opened her Hammerspace and felt the tingle that came when she had access. It felt like they were alone, but Erywin’s senses were on heightened alert: the last time she’d felt like this had been during the Scouring. She offered up a quick prayer: Mórrígan, watch over and protect us from our enemies, and grant us the strength to vanquish our foes should they face us in battle.

“Let’s go.” She waved the children forward as they stepped into The Link.

 

At this point they’re committed.  The kids know what may come, and they’ve got the words of Erywin’s significant other to bolster their courage.

 

They rounded the curved section heading towards the bridge over Pershing Road. Erywin wasn’t moving too quickly: she didn’t want to seem as if they were running for safety. But she was wary, and grew even more so as they stepped out over the highway. The people below on the sidewalk weren’t paying attention to them, and drivers certainly weren’t. Her eyes glanced to the left and right, watching for action below. There was no one there. It didn’t cause Erywin to ease up; in only caused her to be more on guard—

A man appeared about eight meters ahead, almost immediately followed by the pop of a jaunt. She though there’d been a pop behind here, but it wasn’t her job to check. She reach into Hammerspace and pulled her pistol. She flicked off the safety, stepped into a sideways shooter’s stance, and braced her right arm against her body while aiming with her left before yelling the code word that they were under attack: “ON.” She fired six rapid shots—

Annie and Kerry heard the pop behind them and spun around to find a woman about six meters behind throwing a spell at them. Both kids had put up shields before entering The Link, and with the word given, they knew their roles: Annie was offense, Kerry was defense. He pushed more energy into the the screens they’d set up—one for physical attacks, another, less powerful one, for magical attacks—while Annie crafted the most powerful spell she knew—

Erywin’s six shots were nearly invisible to the naked eye, crafted of pure mystical energy. The first two shots hit the Deconstructor’s shield and neutralized the spell; the third shot hit his chest and torched a hole in his shirt; the fourth, fifth, and sixth shots burned through his skin, burned into his body, and blew out the back of his chest. She waited until all six shot did their jobs before preparing for a new threat from the front—

The female Deconstructor casted an Air Hammer that struck the children’s shields less than a second later. Both were barely moved by the attack, though the walkway glass around shuddered and rippled. Kerry kept his eyes open for another threat but didn’t craft an attack spell because he knew what was coming—

 

Right here, right now:  it's on.

Right there, right then: it’s on.

It is on, and in a big way.  But a month of training has paid off, and the division of labor is known and being followed.  And why wasn’t Kerry getting an attack spell ready?  What did he know was coming?  Something a certain girl has been ready to use for a while . . .

 

Annie’s crafting was nearly complete, and as the Deconstructor’s Air Hammer hit their shields the spell became ready. She was fully aware of what she was about to do, but since she’d discovered sorcery she’d wanted to be a sorceress—and she knew what was expected of her, and what she may have to do.

She pushed her hand outward towards the female Deconstructor as if she were pushing her away and cast Exsanguation as another pop sounded in The Link pedestrian bridge.

The spell made it through the woman’s minimal shielding and went to work. She began coughing as blood flowed out of her nose and down her throat. She quickly crafted another spell as blood spurted from her tear ducts and dribbled out her ears. She got off the spell just as the crotch and thighs of her jeans turned a dark color from the blood streaming from her vagina and anus. A second later her eyes filled with blood and ruptured, causing dark rivers of blood to cascade down her face. She doubled over into convulsions as torrents of blood were pumped into her lungs, and a few seconds after that she collapsed to the floor.

 

And that, boys and girls, is what Exsanguation does.  Not a pleasant way to go, but then Deconstuctors aren’t very nice people.  As you can see with this new player in town . . .

 

The drain spell hit the shields and took effect; both Annie and Kerry felt their skin pucker as their shields lost effectiveness. Annie prepared another spell and Kerry began pushing more energy into the shield, for even with the female Deconstructor down, a third one had appeared and, just like his female partner, he had a spell crafted and ready to fly.

The Air Hammer that hit the group was tremendously powerful. Every walkway window flexed and vibrated: three cracked from the extreme pressures placed upon them, though the safety glass didn’t completely shatter and fall out of their frames. Kerry fell back into Tanith, who he pushed into Erywin. All three went down as the the spell hit them, but they were spared serious injury due to the spell shield effect, limited as they were.

Annie was thrown backwards into a floor-to-ceiling support, smacking the side her head hard against the beam. Her right forearm was pushed back into the angle between the support and window, and the crack was loud in the silence of the magical battle happening inside the walkway. She moaned once and collapsed on the floor.

 

Annie’s down, Erywin is probably down, and that means there’s only one person who might be able to do something . . .

 

Kerry heard Annie’s arm break, heard her moan, and even slightly dazed he knew there wasn’t anyone else to protect everyone else. He concentrated hard and threw energy into a light shield while he made it to his feet. He knew he could craft Electrify, but he wasn’t certain he could hit the target. He crafted something he knew would work—Air Hammer—but this time he fueled it with dark energy, intending to make it as deadly as he could muster.

It was crafted in seconds and pushed away. He cast it in the direction of his enemy, but his aim was off. Still, the Deconstructor caught most of the spell, which tossed backwards hard enough that he went down on one knee, moaning in obvious pain. He wasn’t down completely, however: he pointed his right arm towards Kerry—

The Electrify spell hit Kerry hard—as hard, or harder, than the time he was shocked by Helena that first day in Beginning Sorcery. Probably harder, because this time he had up a shield against magical attacks, and he still saw a bright flash in his eyes as the spell hit. He collapsed to the floor hard, feeling something twist in his left knee as he went down. He lay dazed, unable to do anything but look up—

Until the Deconstructor was standing near his feet, then his eyes were focused on his. The man—maybe no older than thirty, but as Kerry had learned, age was impossible to tell with witches—chuckled as he watched Kerry partially raise his right arm as he tried to craft a spell. “Not today—” A small sphere of blue Cold Fire appeared in his upturned right hand. “End for you, you little shit.”

 

Poor Kerry:  about to meet his end getting burnt up with Cold Fire.  Now I can end this novel with Annie weeping tears over his grave–

What’s that you say, Annie?  I’m sorry:  I don’t understand Bulgarian.  But it doesn’t sound nice . . .

 

As the Deconstructor raised his arm two ribbons of shadow snaked down from near a ceiling beam. One wrapped around his wrist, the other his bicep—and both pulled up hard. The upper ribbon cut deep into the man’s arm; the other severed his hand at his wrist, causing the Cold Fire spell to die without access to mystical energy.

Out of the corner of his eye Kerry was aware of Annie up on one knee, her right arm useless, her left arm extended to craft her ribbons, and a murderous look spread across her face bloodied and bruised on the left side. She hissed out a warning as she wrapped the ribbon that had amputated his hand around his neck. “You do not get to hurt him.” She stood and lifted the Deconstuctor off the floor. As she stumbled towards Kerry—who’d managed, somehow, to craft a small ball lighting effect—she swiped her left arm as if she were pushing something away: the Air Hammer stuck him and snapped his body backwards. Kerry managed to throw his Electrify spell at the same time, making the body twitch in shock as the sound of the Deconstuctor’s neck breaking was heard by all.

 

Moral of the story:  do not screw with the boyfriends of pissed-off twelve year old sorceresses.  Oh, sure, Kerry did hit him with a pretty deadly Air Hammer–too bad the Deconstructor had a shield up as well–and managed to shock him a little–and given Kerry’s state it’s a wonder he could actually get that spell working–so he might get credit for a partial kill, but this is pretty much the girls taking out the bad guys.

Leading to one finally moment in The Link . . .

 

He lay there on the floor vaguely aware of Erywin asking if everyone was all right before going silent. He was aware of of Tanith moaning. He was aware of the Deconstructor’s body crashing to the ground as Annie did away with her Shadow Ribbons. Mostly, however, he was aware of Annie kneeling by his head and stroking his frizzed-out hair. She bent over him and smiled. “I said I would protect you.”

He smiled back as best he could. “I said I would protect you.”

Annie leaned closer to his face. “We kept our words to each other.” She kissed him as she gently lowered herself on her left side, resting her head against his chest.

Kerry wanted to say they had to get up, they had to go, they needed to jaunt out, but he couldn’t. The words simply wouldn’t come to him. He reached over and stoked Annie’s hair as the sound of popping air was followed by excited and troubled voices. He thought he saw someone levitate Annie on a stretcher, and felt as if the same thing were happening to him.

Then it felt as if he were jaunting—

 

I wonder where they’re jaunting out to?

And just in case you were wondering how all this went down, on Christmas Day I time lined out this whole scene.  Magical combat goes quickly in this world, and as you see having your shielding in place is important, because if you’re hit, you’re usually hurt in a big way.  And what does this battle look like on a time line?

Something like this.

Something like this.

On the bottom grid, if there’s a solid dot it means they were actually an active participant in the event; an empty dot means they were just there and may have seen something happen.  No dot before the first event means they weren’t there; no dot after a certain event means that person is dead.  And as you can see, if you don’t keep your wits about you in something like this, you end up with no dots in no time.

And now that that’s over, it’s time to move onto the next chapter.

Kansas City is just about over.

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.

Defenders Inside the Wall

If it seems like the writing has been light of late, you’re right:  it has.  I didn’t write at all Friday, my output Thursday was light, and yesterday I finished up the shortest scenes in this current chapter.  Personal and mental issues have been a bitch this week, but today . . . yeah.  I’m feeling much better.  I have one scene remaining to round out Chapter Twenty-one, and that’ll lead up to Chapter Twenty-two, Attack, which is where everything goes to hell.

But right now, it’s a good morning.

Look at that smiling face.  How could anything be wrong with that my awesome going on?

Look at that smiling face. How could anything be wrong with all that awesomeness going on?

So where are we?  Well, Annie cursed some smart mouth girl who decided to keep taking about That Girl–no, these kids have no idea who Marlo Thomas is–and then lay down, knowing she couldn’t get the images out of her head.  As for Kerry–hey, it’s out flying.  Still.  Let’s check in, shall we?

 

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

 

Kerry was getting cold once more. Emma and he were coming up on ninety minutes in the air since leaving the Observatory after their rest, and since then the sky had become overcast and the wind had picked up to the strongest it’d been all day. Though it was near the mid-fifties in temperature, the lack of sun and the wind turned the air cooler than it really was.

He put it out of his mind and kept his eyes peeled on the ground.

Emma and he were on the Low Road, taking the left turn at Sunrise Tower that would take around toward the Narrows. Even though they were still above the outer wall, being this close to the tree tops seemed to cut down on some of the wind coming out of the west. Or it could all be physiological, like being higher made you feel cooler.

He didn’t have time to think on the matter: The second left-hand turn was coming up.

Yeah, just because you love to fly, it doesn’t mean you’re going to like flying this stuff.  Kerry figured it out early:  it’s a job.  There are expectations, and you damn well better met them.  And at this point you can’t ask to sit down, ’cause if you do you’re screwed for anything else you want to do in the future.  You’re labeled a slacker from there on out, and that’s not a good thing.  Not at this school.

Don’t worry, however:  things are about to get interesting . . .

 

There was a flaring of light in the screen about five meters above the wall and some thirty meters before reaching the Narrows turn. Kerry was on it instantly. “Carrier; Nightwitch, this is Myfanwy. There’s something happening on the screen just above the wall.”

The response on the general channel didn’t come from Carrier or Nightwitch, however. “All flights, this is Fortress. Hold your positions; repeat, hold your current position.”

Kerry brought his PAV to a stop in mid-air; Emma pulled up alongside. He continued watching the flaring on the screen for a few seconds before seeing the flaring grow brighter and then appear to push through to the inside. “Fortress, this a Starbuck. Something just came through the screen.”

Emma reported in as well. “Confirmed, Fortress.” She scanned the forest before. “Fortress, I see someone on the ground.”

I see someone as well.” Kerry noticed someone close to the wall, lying still, and noticed another person, maybe five meters from the first. “We have two inside.”

If Isis was worried by the report she didn’t allow those emotions to appear in her voice. “Myfanwy, this is Fortress. We see them: please stand by.”

 

There you have it:  break in, just as the scene says.  So you got a couple of eyes in the sky watching at least one guy walking around inside the school grounds, but Fortress is on the case.  And that leads to this . . .

 

Something massive stepped out of the wall behind the Deconstructor and leapt at him. The man half-turned before he was knocked to the ground and nearly trampled by the huge, four-legged wingged creature, which to Kerry looked exactly like a—

Emma held onto her PAV tightly. “Kerry, di-did you s-see that?”

“Yeah, I saw it.” He looked over to his wingmate. “That was a—”

 

Yeah, Emma, what was that?  Unfortunately, there are ears everywhere.

 

“Myfanwy, this is Fortress.” Like before Isis’ voice was clear and calm. “I’m switching to the private channel; standby one.”

Kerry looked straight ahead waiting to see what Fortress wanted, feeling the bottom of his stomach dropped down below his broom saddle. He figured what Emma and he was about to have relayed to them might not be good . . .

“Selene, Starbuck, this is Fortress.” Kerry shot another look at Emma, who was staring back with a look of semi-fear on her face. “There are some things around the school grounds I’d rather not become public knowledge.” Kerry was now watching the presumably stone creature return to the wall with the body of the Deconstructor in its mouth. “What you witnessed was one of them.” The creature walked into the wall, merging with it seamlessly, taking the Deconstructor inside. “I would appreciate you both keeping quiet on this matter. Do you copy? Over.”

Kerry understood his options: he could say yes and it was pretty good odds that he’d remain in the air, or he could say no and . . . the likelihood that he’d be ordered to head to Laputa or Carrier and then, from there—who knew? He stared off into the distance. “Fortress, this is Starbuck. I copy. No talking on this end. Over.”

“This is Selene, Fortress.” Kerry didn’t look at Emma, but he picked up on the slight quiver in her voice. “I copy as well. All is good. Over.”

“Roger that. Switching off from private.” A few seconds later Isis was back on the general channel. “All flights, this is Fortress. You may resume patrols. Over and out.”

 

“Yeah, kids, we got monsters in the wall, and we’d like it if you keep your mouths shut.”  And given this is a school full of witches, if you don’t keep your mouth shut, they can probably do more than sit you down.  And who wants to take that chance?

Kerry’s cool and wants to get back to what they’re doing, maybe put in another hour of flying because heading to Laputa for another forty-five minutes of R&R.  However, he is flying with That Girl, and while she said one thing, he mind’s somewhere else . . .

 

As they pushed their brooms forward towards The Narrows, Emma reached up, touched her helmet and turned off the comm. “Kerry—”

They slowly rounded The Narrows before Kerry switched off his own comm. “What?”

“That was a gargoyle.”

He nodded slowly. “Yep.”

“Doesn’t it bother—”

He shot concerned look her way. “We’re not suppose to talk about it.”

“We’re not on comms.”

Kerry waited a couple of beats before answering. “You sure?”

Emma didn’t bother answering. She turned her attention back to the route unfolding before them and reactivated her comm—

 

Gargoyles.  I love them.  I used them in Her Demonic Majesty, and the wee beasties are hanging out in the school walls here, too.  And while Kerry might be a tad clueless at times, he’s smart enough to know that just because the comms are off, that doesn’t mean that someone–like, say, Isis, the Goddess of School Security–might still be listening in on a conversation.  So be content that you got to see a gargoyle, Emma, and keep your mouth shut.

The last scene, which I hope to start sometime today, involves the instructors, Isis, and the Headmistress, discussing how someone could get past their defenses and gain entry to the school grounds.  Not everything is as it seems; there are things at play, and they’ll make sense once I have it written out.

At least that’s my hope.

Just like gargoyles, there are things you haven’t seen yet.