Down On the Deck: Home By the Sea

Here I was, yesterday, saying I wanted to finish this scene and chapter, and guess what?  Did!  Totally did.  No, really.

See?  No brag, just truth.

See? No brag, just truth.

And as you can see Chapter Seventeen awaits, where it’s a week later and–humm.  Looks like the kids are heading home for the holidays.  Yes, it’s that time, when the school shuts down for two weeks and all the kids go home to see their parents.  And if you look closely, you can see that Kerry is heading back to Cardiff and Annie is heading back to Pamporovo.

Actually, Chapter’s Seventeen and Eighteen deal with the kids being away from each other–the first scene of Chapter Sixteen is one of only two times you’ll see the kids together the next two chapters–but that’s in the future, and right now we’re finishing up the present, and it’s time to get my kids together again.

 

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

The dots on within the image had already crossed half the map when Nurse Bianca called the deck and informed the girls that Nurse Thebe and she were downstairs with warming blankets. Alex was able to get off a quick thank you when Kerry called in. “Flight Deck, this is Overnight. On my mark lowing to four hundred kph and beginning our decent.” He paused for about six seconds before continuing. “And . . . mark.”

Emma, as group pilot, gave the overall command. “Overnight, slow to four hundred kph and follow us down.”

Penny kept her eyes on the display, watching the dots descend towards Cape Ann. She nodded her approval. “Smart move. Forty kilometers out, coming in at four hundred kph—”

“They’ll be here in ten minutes.” Annie figured out the plan during the time Kerry informed them.

“A little more, actually.” Alex waved her hand over a pad. “Lights up on the roof and the Clock Tower. They should be able to see us now.”

“And we need to do now is lay out a landing pattern.” Alex walked over to the window and looked out onto the darkened meadow. “And light a few fires to everyone can warm up on the spot.”

“Good idea.” Penny tapped Annie on the arm. “You’re helping, right?”

“I wouldn’t miss this for the world.” Annie gave the display another look. “You think I’m waiting up here—”

“—While he’s down there? Nope.” Penny tapped near her ear piece. “Overnight, this is Flight Deck. We have the Flight School overhead lights and the Clock Tower beacon lit, and we’re going to set up your landing grid for you. Over.”

Emma returned with the acknowledgment. “Roger, Flight Deck. Should be on the ground soon. Over.”

All three girls were about to turn from the hologram when Kerry’s voice broadcast through the room. “Hang on, Overnight: A little homecoming music is in order. Hit it.” Immediately four loud guitar cords rang out followed by a heavy drum and bass rhythm. A few seconds later the vocals rang out: “Home by the sea/home by the sea—”

Annie chuckled. “I’ve heard this one before.”

Penny stared at the dots in the tank with a smile on her face. “Bloody hell.”

“That’s my Darling.” Annie grabbed the coats and levitated them towards the girls. “They’ll be her in a few minutes.”

 

Once more the Flight Deck is running pretty smoothly considering it’s being run by three teenage girls.  They got the action down.  This is why when the bad guys came calling, the school just locked shit up and put the kids out there with the adults, because nothing is crazier than a teenage witch.

“That’s my Darling.”  I actually loved writing that line, because if there’s something Annie’s doing this year, it’s getting loosened up around people.  Well, people she likes.  Other bitches best watch out or they’ll get a lightening bolt shot their way.

And here we have Kerry bring everyone home with music–He’d actually sort of foreshadowed this back on PEI:

 

“Already figured that out.” He pushed the map display to his right until they were looking at the western coast of Nova Scotia. “Right there.” He marked the point. “About as west as you can get before you run out of land. Which means . . .” He sketched a line to the southwest until he encountered a well-known point of land. “Rockport. And our home by the sea just to the west.” He quickly connected the marked points on the map, creating a line from their current location back to the school. “There’s it is: that’s the route.”

 

“Our home by the sea”.  So what song does he play coming in?  Why, Home By the Sea, what else?

Not only does he play it, he plays it loud:

 

All three girls hurried downstairs and found Bianca and Thebe waiting just outside the main hangar door. Penny began pointing to different spots around them. “Alex, set up three fires on the right, I’ll do the same on the left. Let’s get them in a large semi-circle.” She pointed straight ahead. “Annie, could you set up a row of lights for about twenty, thirty meters, maybe five meters apart?”

“Not a problem.” Annie rose about a half-meter off the ground and crafted a white light source on the ground before floating out about five meters to do the same thing again. She did this five more times, setting up a thirty meters runway for the flight to line up on and bring them into the group of fires Alex and Penny created.

She floated back to where the girls and nurses stood. Annie adjusted her wool cap and glanced skyward. “Do you hear that?”

Alex looked up and grinned. “Music?”

“Yes.” Annie grinned wildly. “Kerry must have it his tablet loudspeakers.”

“Jeez.” Penny shook her head. “Vicky must not worry they’re going to be heard from the ground.”

“It’s not like any of the Normals would see them.” She pointed towards the southeast. “I think that’s them.”

Annie saw two sets of yellow-white lights moving off to her right: one seemed to indicate where to turn, and the other seemed to point downward. The continued moving to her left as they now appeared to quickly lose altitude over the east wall. At the north end of the meadow tree line the lights continued swinging to the left, then stopped and began approaching her.

She heard Penny giving instruction for the flight as they lined up on the makeshift runway. The music was easily discernible now, and she could now clearly make out the lead flight, bundled up tight against the cold, with nary a square . Kerry pointed downward with his left hand until they were within touching distance of the ground, at which point he flattened his hand and spread out the lights at his fingertips, while Emma waved her right hand overhead to slow the group, then pumped a fist into the air bringing the flight to a complete stop. The last few lines of the song played—”Cause you won’t get away/So with us you will stay/For the rest of your days/Sit down/As we relive our lives in what we tell you”—before Kerry punched his tablet and shut down the song.

Emma pulled down her balaclava before looking backwards over her shoulder. “Dismount.” She was off her broom a few seconds later as Kerry pulled down his balaclava and slipped his goggles up onto his forehead.

Each of the girls grabbed a couple of warming blanket. Annie immediately made clear which team she was going to treat. “I’ve got the lead.”

Penny chuckled. “Figured that.”

Annie saw Kerry drop his backpack and come around the front of his broom and hold up his right hand for Emma to slap. They exchanged a quick nod before Kerry turned towards Annie, a huge grin affixed upon his face. “There you are.”

“Here I am.” She secured one of her blankets around Emma’s shoulders before doing the same to Kerry. “You need this.” Standing this close she saw patches of frost on his parka, and noticed his glasses were partially fogged. “Come on, both you—” She took Kerry’s hand and waved for Emma to follow. “Come warm up.”

 

Kerry does a quick high-five with Emma–who seems to have a good pair of lungs on her and likes being in control–and then he’s like, “Open arms for my Sweetie!”  Annie’s being nice handing a blanket to Emma, but then she’s not going to be a bitch a ignore her like someone used to do her.  And there’s frost on Kerry’s parka–probably from when he warmed up coming down to the school.  The temps went up considerably, believe that.

 

The entire flight had left their backpacks next to their brooms and was now crowding around the fires as the nurses examined a few of those students seen shivering. The two instructors went from student to student asking them them how they felt, patting each on the shoulder. Vicky checked on Emma before turning to Kerry. “I see you’re in good hands.”

Kerry wrapped his blanketed arms around Annie. “In the best, Nightwitch.”

“As I thought.” She stepped towards the middle of the runway. “Okay, listen up—” She raised here voice so everyone could hear. “As soon as you’re warmed up and feeling better, move your brooms and your packs to the hanger—do not unpack them now—then go get something to eat. As there’s no racing tomorrow, we’ll have a debriefing at nine, and after that we’ll unpack and put away our gear. And anyone who doesn’t want to change now let me know and I’ll have housekeeping move your clothes back to your dorm rooms.” She flipped her parka hood back, removed her wool hat and flight helmet, and shook out her hair after stripping off her balaclava. “It was a pleasure flying with all of you.”

“Hey.” Emma pulled her blanket tight as she stepped closer to Annie and Kerry. “I’m gonna see if Nadine will give me a jaunt to the Dining Hall.”

“No problem.” He grinned back at his wingmate. “After flying a couple of thousand kilometers, I think we’ll walk back.”

“Okay, then: catch you later.” She gave them both a wave and walked off.

Finally alone, Annie unzipped Kerry’s parka, pushed back his hood, and removed his head gear, dropping it to the ground next to them. “Feeling better?” She slipped her arms under his parka and around his torso.”

“I am now.” He leaned his head against her shoulder. “What’d you do last night?”

“Hung out with the girls and Jairo.” She felt comfortable and secure against Kerry’s body. “Penny and Alex had me over to sleep with them: they asked Professor Semplen to get housekeeping to move another bed into their room. They said they didn’t want me sleeping alone.”

Kerry held tightly on to Annie. “That was nice of them.”

“It was.” She whispered into his ear. “Did you miss me?”

He moved Annie back so her face was mere centimeters aware, then kissed her slowly for almost twenty second. “Oh, Darling—” He pulled her into a warm embrace. “Every second I was away.”

“So did I, my love—” Annie closed her eyes and held on tightly to her soul mate, least she slide to the ground. “So did I.”

 

No racing, just Midnight Madness after a little dinner and a cup of something warm, and some warm arms to lay in.  Annie got to do a bit of a sleepover with her covenmates, and Kerry is giving her a long, lingering kiss in a fire-lit PDA, probably because his lips are cold.  Yeah, that’s what it is.

Everyone’s home in what turned out to be a long chapter–one of the longest, actually–and now it’s time to send the kids away for a few weeks.

Where a few more surprises await them . . .

Down On the Deck: Response Gambit

Let me get all the happy news out of the way first.  I did, indeed, pass one hundred fifty thousand words last night.  Writing started out slowly because I seemed to have trouble getting focused–part of that may have been due to having the movie Elysium on in the background and not listening to music–but I ended with eight hundred and sixty-eight words total before the end appeared.  But I got there in the fastest sprint to ten thousand that I’ve had in a long time:  only eight days this time.

Eight days and then off to sleep, actually.

Eight days and then off to sleep, actually.

So there we are:  one of the big milestones I expected has arrived, and it’s got me wondering again if I’m going to finish this novel around the two hundred fifty thousand word mark.  Answer right now seem to be “no”, but you never know.  I’m thinking I should add another fifty thousand to that total–maybe?  Could be?  Should be?

So what is going on now?  Take a look:

 

 

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

Alex look as if she were considering pushing for an answer when popped up out of her chair. “Hey, they’re here.”

On the edge of the display were four bright blue dots moving rapidly towards the image of Cape Ann in the middle of the hologram. Annie stepped next to Penny. “Why only four?”

“We’re only seeing those brooms with active tracking—that means Vicky, Erywin, Nadine, and Riv right now.” She leaned forward, scrutinizing the images. “Damn, they’re really moving.”

 

Now, it was already stated in the excerpt yesterday about the active tracking, and Penny’s stating something that obviously wasn’t either known to Annie, or she may have been under the assumption that all brooms were being tracked.

 

Alex reached in and tapped the area above the dots. “Svyate der´mo.” Her eyes widened as she read the numbers. “Speed five-seventy-five kph: altitude thirteen hundred.”

Penny gasped as if she’d been slapped. “Meters?”

Ta.”

“Nearly everyone’s flying Espinozas.” Annie was torn between being impressed and shocked. “Five-seventy-five is over the maximum speed for those.”

“For unmodified ones, yeah—”

Alex stepped around the display. “None of the Espinozas at the school are unmodified. Vicky tricked them out so they’ll hit six hundred easy.”

 

For the less metrically inclined, six hundred kilometers per hour is right at three hundred seventy-five miles an hour, so five seventy-five works out to three hundred fifty-six and a half miles an hour.  Remember when Emma worried that others wouldn’t be able to keep up?  This is why:  right now they’re on those flying mountain bikes traveling along at just over three hundred and fifty miles and hour four thousand, two hundred, and sixty-four feet up.  That’s eight-tenths of a mile if you’re keeping track.  And you can bet Annie is . . .

 

Annie stepped a little to her right so she could see the flight in the display. “They’re up so high.”

“It’s ‘cause it’s been dark a while; whatever team’s in the lead was probably chancing the last bit of light before the sun set.” Penny slipped an bud into her ear activated the enchantment. “Let’s find out who’s bringin’ the flight home.” She lightly tapped her ear three times so the response would broadcast to everyone and spoke in her clear, clipped English tones. “Salem Overnight, this is the Flight Deck. We have you in the bubble: lead team, please sound off. Over.”

While the girl’s voice was clear, the slipstream around flight was clearly discernible over the speakers. “Flight Deck, this is Team Myfanwy on lead, pilot speaking. We’re coming straight in. Over.”

“Roger, Myfanwy, we have you as Overnight lead; transferring call sign to you. Please stand by.” Penny pointed at Alex. “Check their course.”

Annie knew what Alex would find. “Kerry’s navigating; they’ll come in right on course.”

“She’s right.” Alex crafted a line from their point of entry into the bubble to their present position, then drew it forward towards Cape Ann. “They’re gonna hit Rockport head on and then right to the meadow.”

“Where are they coming from?” Annie hadn’t noticed the position of the flight before, but now noticed they were approaching from the ocean.

Alex expanded the display so it took up most of New England and parts of Canada, then backtracked the course. “I’d say Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.” She checked the calculated distance. “Three hundred and eight-four kilometers from there to Rockport.”

“Wait, what?” Penny touched the comm. “Overnight, this is Flight Deck. How long have you maintained your present speed? Over.”

Kerry’s voice rang out clear. “For just over three hundred kilometers. Over.”

Penny and Alex exchanged looks. “Overnight, do you have a reading on your current wind chill?”

There was a long pause before Emma spoke. “Low, Fight Deck. Over.”

“Roger, Overnight.” Penny tapped her comm off before speaking. “Alex, contact the hospital, tell whomever you get we’re probably going to need some warming blankets down here: it looks like we got a Narjinary Gambit going.”

This was an expression Anne had never heard before, but given how grave the other girls appeared, she didn’t think it was good. “What’s a Narjinary Gambit?”

 

First, Penny could probably work flight control duties at Heathrow right now the way she’s handing the incoming flight.  Second, Annie was right on when she said with Kerry one-half of the lead team, because she’s already talked up how he loves that.  Third, they’s been in the air at there current speed for just over a half-hour, if you’ve done the calculations as I have.  Which brings us to four:  The Narjinary Gambit.  And what is that?

 

“Something that happened during the Polar Express back in 2005.” Penny turned towards Annie. “One team—Indu Narjinary and Zhanna Mirokhin—got dropped in the middle of Labrador, Canada. After they determined where they were, they calculated they were sixteen hundred kilometers from the school. So, rather than fly back at a normal speed, they figured if they got their speed up to five hundred kph, they’d be home by late Friday afternoon and they wouldn’t have to camp out.

“So they ate as much of their rations as possible to calorie up, set course for the school, and flew for ninety minutes at five hundred kilometers per hour. They touched down, warmed up for a couple of hours, then struck out again—”

“Only their course was off and they missed the school by about thirty kilometers.” Alex stood up from in front of the display she’d used to contact the hospital. “By the time they figure out their mistake they were past Providence, Rhode Island, and spent another ninety minutes getting back.” She turned to Penny. “Hospitals coming down with warming blankets.”

“Great.” Penny finished the story. “You fly that fast in this weather, you’re hitting wind chills of minus forty to fifty Celsius, and while we got great arctic winter gear, even with magic you’re still gonna get a good case of frostbite and hypothermia after a few hours. That was what happened with Narjinary and Mirokhin: they came down with hypothermia on the first leg, didn’t warm up enough, and started having mental lapses during their second leg.”

“They received special recognition for being the team to complete the Express the fastest from over a thousand kilometers out—” Alex grinned. “—but the way Vicky tells the story, she wasn’t at all happy.”

“Not to mention they spent Friday through Saturday night in the hospital recovering.” Penny nodded towards the display. “They’re probably hitting below minus fifty right now; they’re gonna need warming when they land.”

 

Remember how I’ve spoke about meta-plotting everything out but when something comes to me, I get it in?  Well, this is one of those things. The Narjinary Gambit didn’t exist until two days ago, and it came about because of . . . thinking about future scenes.  See, there are reasons why people do things and reasons why they don’t, and one of the things that came up was, “Well, if I can zip along at five hundred kilometers per hours, and I’m dropped off some fifteen hundred kilometers from the school during The Polar Express, what’s going to keep me from just opening up the broom and getting home as quick as possible?”  And that’s easy to ask now, because back before the 1990s the gear being used in The Polar Express normally wouldn’t allow for a lot of fast zipping because frostbite and hypothermia would put you down fast.

But with the new gear you can withstand colder temps, or so the reasoning goes.  These two girls decided to put that reasoning to the test, and almost flew out over the Atlantic in the process because mistakes.

See?  Mistakes.

This is what a near-fatal mistake looks like.

That’s the route I worked out, and you can see–to the far right is there first camp where they were set down; the next dot to the left of that is where they figured out their course; the dot in the middle is where they stopped half-way; the dot at the far left is where they realized they screwed up; and the final dot is the school.  If they hadn’t realized they were way off course and well beyond the school, they’d have sailed right out over the Atlantic, where they probably would have succumbed to hypothermia and crashed into the ocean.

If you’re interested, -50 C is just about -60 F, and if you don’t think that’s cold, go outside the next time the wind chill is like -10 F/-24 C, get on your thermals and your best coat, mittens, and hat, and just stand in the open for about five minutes.  Once you come back inside where it’s nice and warm, imagine it being another fifty F/twenty-five C colder, and then imagine you’re on a bike a quarter of a mile up above the ground moving along at something like 250 mph/400 kph.

Yeah.  You don’t get to make a lot of mistakes under those conditions.

Needless to say I didn’t finish the scene last night.  Tonight?  Yeah, I think I will.  I’m sure I will.

Or not.

Either way, I’ll be here tomorrow, because it’s thirty days hath September, and the witch month is upon us . . .

Down On the Deck: Asked and Answered

Yesterday was all about me, but–what about my kids?  Well, they’re around.  In particular Annie, who’s hanging out at the Flight School waiting for Kerry to return.  That’s one of the reasons this is all about Annie right now, because Kerry is somewhere in the air and on his way home.  Annie, however:  she’s back at the school and, believe it or not, hanging with the girls.  Which girls, you ask?  Let’s get right into the action, because I didn’t show you much yesterday.

 

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

The Flight Deck was on the second floor of the Flight School, situated directly over the first floor Briefing Room. Normally it was used during emergencies—it was from here that Holoč Semplen kept track of the fliers on patrol during the Day of the Dead attacks—but today it was being used for its other purpose, which was to monitor student flights beyond the walls. Not every student flying outside the walls was tracked: only those PAVs with active tracking were watched, and the school could only track up to one hundred kilometers from the Great Hall. Continue reading