Gather the Fliers: Initial Put Downs and Combacks

It’s a chilly morning here in the highs are expected to be around 40 F/4 C later in the day.  Here in the United States, it’s Groundhog Day, and as we speak there are people standing in a public square in the town in central Pennsylvania preparing to worship affect rodent with a claim can predict the weather.  I can predict the weather, Jack: it’s going to be cold, it’s going to be gray, and it’s going to last rest of your life.  Or so says Bill Murray.

But this is another important day.  Because if you been following this blog for any amount of time you would know that two years ago today a rather important event happened in my life.  Today is the day that, after more than half a year of hiding, I came out of work and began living my life 24/7 as the woman I am today.  Or as I like to say, the groundhog came out of his burrow, saw his shadow, and said we had six more weeks of winter, where has I came out of my closet, saw my shadow, and decided to remain a woman.

Today is my Groundhog Day.  I’m going to do my best to make it a good one.

Much better now that I'm just about to mainline java.

In case you needed reminding about how I looked then.

 

And how I look today.

And how I look today.

Meanwhile, back in the Ready Room of the School of Salem, someone’s trying to do something they shouldn’t.  And they just opened a can of shit they’ll probably wish they hadn’t…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Both Emma and Kerry look back over the shoulder and found Franky Smith and Koyanagi Jiro, coven mates as well as wingmates, standing in the center aisle as they poked fun at Emma. Kerry immediately got the reference: kaiju were the enormous monsters from the movie Pacific Rim, which it premiered over the summer. And given the look on Emma’s face, she understood the references well.

They were both about the let the remark go when Jiro spoke. “We better go get ourselves a couple of Class 3’s so we can nuke this sucker before she goes on a rampage and starts tearing up the school.”

Franky laughed. “Yeah, nuke her from orbit so we can be sure.”

Kerry looked straight ahead and sighed. “That’s Aliens, guys.”

Jiro looked confused. “What?”

He half turned his head so he was now looking more at the ceiling instead of the two troublemakers. “’Nuke ‘em from orbit’ is a quote from Aliens; kaiju are from Pacific Rim. So what you want to say instead is—” He turned to Emma with a serious look on his face. “’All right, Mako. Get ready, this is for real.’”

Both Franky and Jiro appeared displeased as Emma and Kerry laughed, and Franky decided to voice his displeasure. “Well, excuse me, Malibey, for not being at the same level of idiot geekness as you. Instead of worrying about movie lines, maybe you should wonder about whether or not your wingmate’s PAV is going to be able to lift her monstrous frame off the ground.”

Emma instantly stopped laughing and got to her feet. She turned to face the Canadian boy and didn’t hold back. “I’ve had enough of your bullshit, Franky, so why don’t you just kiss my ass?”

 

First off, never go for the geek reference when Kerry is around ’cause he knows all the references.  It’s obvious he saw Pacific Rim over the summer–yes, he could have as it came out 12 July in the US and UK–and if you don’t think for one moment he didn’t have all the pertinent quotes memorized after a week, you don’t know Kerry.  And for anyone to mis-quote something from Aliens?  Get ready for the pain.

Emma must have saw the movie, too, ’cause she knows what Franky’s talking about.  Sure, Kerry made her laugh by including her in a bit of geek take down, but since Franky is a mean little asshole he doesn’t know well enough to back away and lick his wounds, and his next quip gets Emma on her feet and swearing.  We know she’s somewhat scared of Annie, but Franky ain’t Annie and she lets him have it.  Maybe she feels save in the Ready Room, or maybe she’s decided to blow assholes off–

"So, telling Franky to kiss my ass isn't going to far?"  "I'd say you need to go father..."

“So, telling Franky to kiss my ass isn’t going to far?” “I’d say you need to go further…”

And that’s when it gets real–

 

Franky said nothing as he stared back with open score at the defiant girl, while Jiro appeared uneasy and seemed to want nothing to do with the rest of the conversation. Finally the Canadian boys spoke. “You’re acting pretty brave all of a sudden.”

“Brave has nothing to do with it.” Emma hooked her thumbs on the pockets of her flight jacket. “I’m just through taking your crap.”

He smirked. “You’re trying to get me to call you out, aren’t you? You trying to get me out to the Manor so you can get me in the ring?” Franky looked slightly to his left. “Is that it, Kerry? You gonna be her champion?”

Kerry sat looking straight ahead as he released a long, loud sigh. “Emma doesn’t need a champion; she can take care of herself.” He tilted his seat back a touch as he crossed his feet at his ankles. “She shouldn’t have any problem dusting you.”

Franky shook his head as if he hadn’t heard correctly. “What did you say?”

Kerry finally tilted his head up and looked back. “Emma doesn’t need my help to beat your ass. You’d know that if you weren’t so damn stupid.”

By this time the whole Ready Room was silent as the other pilots watched this confrontation unfold. Everyone waited to see what happened next: Franky’s jaw tightened as he looked away a couple of times. “You want me to call you out, don’t you? You two had this all planned.”

Kerry stared up at the ceiling and moaned while Emma rolled her eyes. She shook her head as she replied. “Yeah, Franky, you’re right: we had this all planned out. ‘Cause we knew you were going to walk in here and act like the jerkoff you normally are and make rude comments about my height. You got us all figured out, dude.”

“The question now is—” Kerry finally sat up and spun around in his chair so that he was looking straight at Franky. “What are you gonna do about this?”

Jiro came over and tugged on Franky sleeve. “Come on, man. Leave these two alone. It isn’t worth getting involved.”

Franky snorted and turned away. “Yeah. Let’s get our seats.”

Emma sat down the moment the two boys were seated. She spoke with Kerry in a hushed tone. “I do not want to put up with this BS the rest of the year.”

Kerry glanced to his right, a slight smile on his face. “Keep putting him in his place the way you just did and it won’t be necessary.”

She said her left elbow on her chair arm and rested her chin in the palm of her hand. “You really think I could take Franky in a judgment match?”

 

Sure, Kerry may have helped set up the shot, but Emma put it away and finally brought the shame to Franky.  It’s not hard to do because the kid is a total dipshit, but Emma has never stood up to people like this and it’s all new for her.  There weren’t any threats, but there were a lot of well-placed comments that did the trick.  Because this happened in front of the class, it’s likely Franky won’t try dissing anyone in class anytime soon–least of all Emma.

Now, concerning a theoretical judgment match between Emma and Franky, I’m sure Kerry has some sage advice.  He could even use a Pacific Rim reference to get his point across–

"Hit him in the crotch with an Air Hammer, Emma!  Hit him again!  UNLOAD THE SPELL!!!"

“Hit him in the crotch with an Air Hammer, Emma! Hit him again! UNLOAD THE SPELL!!!”

Yeah, that’ll work…

A Certain Day in May: Prelude From the Aftermath

Yeah . . . early in the morning and here I am hoping to get through another day without falling asleep at work.  Yesterday was horrible:  by two in the afternoon I was fighting to remain with my eyes open, and when I finally made it home, I fell asleep for about thirty minutes or so because I needed a nap bad.

I feel today may be just as bad, as I was up about four-thirty or so, but the weather is going to be cooler today, so I’ll dress for that and keep the carbs at a minimum at lunch so I don’t go into some kind of drowsy overload by one.

All this is probably why I didn’t feel as if I was writing much last night, and then, to my surprise, I discover I’ve about seven hundred and fifty words completed.  I really was hoping to get the scene finished, but you know how that goes.  It means that you have to wait one more day to discover Kerry’s present, but–there’s also a surprise that comes with that post.

So, Happy Birthday for Doctor Gallagher and Kerry, and Coraline knows she better get a nod of approval from the little witch in the back of the room before planting a kiss on Kerry’s cheek.  I wonder if Annie could call out Coraline if she felt the later was getting a little too affectionate with her soul mate?  That would be an interesting fight, given that we’ve sort of seen Coraline fight.

But what about this flight that’s coming up?  Here you are on that:

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

After the passing around of cake that the kitchen gladly made, there was a quick review of the flight before they headed down to the Hangar and prepped for the afternoon flight, the Four Point Timed Excursion. Brooms up at fourteen, four points to make with only five minutes to determine course to each location while in air with no landing, GPS not allowed, and the class was to return to Salem by sixteen-thirty.

That meant a flight of close to twelve hundred kilometers needed to be flown in two and a half hours, and there wasn’t going to be much in the way of room for error should it arise. Vicky and her minions—or, as she’d begun referring to them of late, her flying monkeys—were the only one who knew the actually layout of the course, but Vicky would be the one to call out corrections to the class if they were needed.

As Vicky said during the briefing, at this point in the class, any of the four teams selected for each leg that couldn’t hit their target by now would be in a precarious position for advancement to Advanced Flight Two in their C Levels.

Because it was his special day, Vicky left the choice to him as to whether or not Emma and he would have first of last leg. He picked first and learned their destination: Franconia Notch, New Hampshire. Kerry already knew the area from the last snipe hunt he’d been one, but the catch now was to get everyone there in thirty minutes. Almost two hundred kilometers in that limited time meant they’d need to maintain about four hundred kilometers an hour the whole way.

Fortunately Kerry knew how to handle that. As soon as they were airborne he instructed Emma to aim for a point a few kilometers north of Plymouth, New Hampshire, at which point they’d turn and follow I-93 fifty kilometers north to the Notch. If his calculations were correct—and as he told the flight he didn’t expect them to be wrong—they’d not need to slow at all until they were near their destination.

He was correct. They reached their turn less than a hundred meters off the line Kerry originally piloted, and there was a bit of excitement as the flight turned into the mountain valley and continued northward without braking. Seven and a half minutes later they were hovering over their destination and Team Myfanwy rotated to the back of the pack to let someone else take the ball.

The rest of the trip went smoothly. Their other three stops were The Alexandra Bridge in Ottawa, Ontario, the bobsled run at Lake Placid, New York, and the capital building at Albany, New York. After a mad dash across Massachusetts they were touching down in Selena’s Meadow eight minutes before they were due.

 

In case you were wondering–and you were–this is the area covered:

With minor variations, this is how it looks.

With minor variations, this is how it looks.

Franconia Notch is famous as the location of the formation known as the Old Man of the Mountain, which used to look like this:

Looking pretty good for a few million years old.

Looking pretty good for a few million years old.

The picture above was taken on 26 April, 2003, and it one of the last good pictures of the formation, because a few days later the formation collapsed and became no more.  As of 2007 it looked like this:

Quite a change, I know.

Quite a change, I know.

And for a little extra history, the collapse happened on 3 May, 2003, which means as the date in the story is 3 May, 2013, a decade has past since that time, so Emma and Kerry are gonna lead their flight right past this point on the anniversary.  Coincidence?  Knowing Vicky, probably not.

But they managed to get through the flight with little or no drama, and suddenly we’re back in Salem–

 

It was only once he was back in his uniform and out of the locker that he found out he wasn’t dining in the hall that evening—

They were half way down Essex and were just passing the location where the Bewitched After Dark walking tours met when Annie spoke. “You were wonderful today. And just the right amount of embarrassed when everyone sang Happy Birthday to Coraline and you.”

“I wasn’t acting—” Kerry couldn’t remember the last time anyone actually sang him a birthday song. “Coraline handles it better than me.”

“Let’s hope no one sings it again tonight.” Annie glanced towards Kerry with a smile on her face. “Though her boyfriend will be there, so who knows if he’ll ask for to have it sung.”

“I don’t want it sung for me again.” He nodded towards the store up on their right. “Otherwise I’m gonna take you in to Flying Monkey and get you something to commentate your ascension to that status today.”

“Shush, you.” She slapped him playfully on the arm. They’d passed the store several times in the past but never entered: during one of their window shopping excursions Kerry pointed out he was going to get her a “Good Girls Go to Heaven, Bad Girls Go to Salem” tee shirt, complete with a witch ridding a broom across a pentagram, to which she replied while she’d never hurt him, minor curses might not be out of the question—

“I’m not interesting in getting a tee shirt I’ll never wear.” She steered him towards one of the alleys leading to the Salem Green, located just behind their restaurant. “Over this way.”

 

I should point out that the locations refereed to above do exist, as does the shirt described.  Don’t be surprised if the later shows up again . . .

Now, does this mean Kerry gets his present tomorrow?  Yes, yes it does.

Oh, and I’m reminded by a Facebook post I made five years ago, on this day in history Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan was killed in a fight with natives of the Philippines. And what I mean by “killed in a fight” is that he was beaten to death with bastons by people who knew Eskrima, aka Arnis, aka Kali–though at the end of this “battle” I believe he also had a spear shoved through his face, which had to suck.

This happens to be the martial arts form seen in a lot of movie–Matt Damon uses this in his Jason Bourne movies, it was used by Vin Diesel and Jason Statham in Furious 7, and both Melissa McCarthy and Saoirse Ronan were trained to use this in their respective movies Spy and Hanna.  It’s also the art form that Annie and Kerry are learning and seem to be taking to it rather well, and the advantage they’ll have over all those other people I’ve listed above is (1) they can use magic with this discipline, and (2) unlike movie characters, they’ll actually be able to beat people to death with bastons likely made of magical energy.

Why am I mentioning this?  Oh, no reason . . .

The Final Solo: The Final Shenanigans

New day, new stuff, it’s bright and sunny outside, and I’ve been writing.  You know I would because I told you I would.  And what did I do?  I finished the scene!  Yay for me, right?

Well, I didn’t lose it at the dinner last night, though someone didn’t like my “hula hoop” earrings, so I kinda told them to screw off and moved on.  It’s really the way to do it, ya know?  I also didn’t get blind drunk, so I had a pretty good night’s sleep.  Which is why I was able to focus for the most part and get this all written.

Now . . . I mentioned shenanigans, and that’s what the kids are up to here at the end of Annie’s solo.  So let’s get into that scene, all of what I just wrote, so you can see what they’re up to here on Cape Ann.

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Vicky jaunted to the three-by-three meter platform set atop the center of the Flight School’s room and ran along the railed walkway to the stairs leading to a larger viewing platform set at the north end of the building four meters above the roof. She heard Isis pop in behind her and saw her soar over her head so that she was waiting for her.

The sky was the same solid gray overcast from this morning, but unlike the area where Annie did most of her solo flight it wasn’t raining. Vicky knew the kids were still following Invisibility Flight Sanctions and couldn’t be seen from the ground, but she’d see them if she looked for their auras, which they were so far unable to hide. She scanned the area to the south and spotted them a few seconds later. “There they are.”

Isis saw them peeking in and our of their light bending effect as the approached the south grounds of the school. From better than a kilometer away she heard the faint echos of music. “Christ, he’s blasting that thing.”

“Yeah, no kidding.” Vicky rolled her eyes as they entered the school’s south grounds. “He’s gonna wake the neighbors with that shit.” “Waking the Neighbors” was a euphemism used by the staff and instructors to indicate an activity on school grounds that could become noticeable to the Normal population living outside the school wall.

Both women watched the couple streak across the sky while remaining close to the western wall. Isis shielded her eyes and picked out Annie in the lead with Kerry following close behind. “How high you think they are?”

“Probably seventy, eighty meters.” Vicky saw them pass Sunset Tower and the Instructor’s Residence as they continued northward. “They’re gonna buzz the whole school.”

“Yeah.” Isis began laughing. “Kinda looks that way.” The solo flight slowed as Annie and Kerry circled around Observatory Tower and headed southward. “Recognize the song?”

Where the Streets Have No Name. Kind of appropriate considering where they were this morning.” Vicky sighed as the two spots moving near the east wall turned and flew towards The Pentagram. “Mathilde in her office?”

“She usually is this time of morning. Have breakfast and catch up on morning news and emails before enjoying the weekend.”

“Yeah.” The children slows and dropped lowers, appearing to swerve inside Ceridwen Tower. Vicky shook her head, sighing. “Of course they gotta buzz The Pentagram.”

“Twice.” Isis watched them make a second circuit of The Pentagram before gaining altitude and heading their way. “Mathilde knew Annie was gonna have her last solo today so she shouldn’t be too pissed.”

“Right.” It was only as Annie and Kerry approached Selena’s Meadow that Vicky realized how loud they were: the music seemed to fill the whole of the open space as if there was attending a concert. They dropped to about three meters near the center of the meadow and slowed as they approached the school, coming to a soft landing about ten meters away from the hangar.

The moment Annie was on the ground she threw back the hood of her parka, pulled down her balaclava, and began dancing wildly to the music, bouncing and spinning around with a huge smile on her face. As soon as Kerry was off his broom her joined her, smiling as broadly as he raised his arms and began swaying back and forth.

Vicky and Isis said nothing as the song entered the outro and Kerry kissed Annie as the last lines were sung as the music faded out before they turned and looked upwards to the viewing platform, holding each other tight and still laughing and smiling as they waved.

“You know—” Isis moved a little closer to Vicky as they waved. “This year we’ve taken these two and put them through some incredibly demanding shit, and they push through and make it all work. And you know what we keep forgetting?”

Vicky glanced at Isis. “No, what?”

“That no matter how bad ass these witches are, they’re still kids.” She turned to face the flight instructor. “And from time to time, we gotta let them be kids.”

“That we do.” She nodded slowly. “That we do.”

 

There you have it:  they come flying into the school grounds at high speed, soaring over parts of the Normal world with magic-enhanced computer sound system (Thanks, Isis!), and they do a major flyby/fly over of the school grounds, including buzzing the Instructor’s Residences, the covens, and the Great Hall, just to let everyone know they are back, Jack, and they’ve done more this morning than all the other witches in this joint combined.

Let me tell you, I put more time into developing this scene than I did in writing the sucker.

It really started on my Friday walk into work, when I started getting the song Where the Streets Have No Name stuck in my head.  Mostly because I’d though about Annie flying about in the ocean with nothing to guide her but a heading.  Since I usually find time at work to think about these things–which is to say, most of the time, because my mind is always working–I started wondering about how this might play into the end of the solo flight–

When I got home that night, after dinner and a nap, I started putting it together.  First I had to find a YouTube song that Kerry would use.  He’s got a computer that’s Foundation Powered now, so getting a download or stream fifty klicks out to sea isn’t a problem.  I found the song after a few searches because I never give up on that shit.  Then I started listening and checking times:  I probably went through the song a half-dozen times before I saw the scene laid out in my mind.

But I had to check a few things.  Like knowing how far they’d need to fly before getting into the vocals a minute forty-five seconds after the start of the song while flying three hundred kilometers an hours–the answer is nine kilometers.

Then I needed to know the path they’d take on their flyby, and since I know the layout of the school upon the land that is Cape Ann, I mapped it out:

Only one buzzing of The Pentagram here, but know you know they did two.

Only one buzzing of The Pentagram here, but know you know they did two.

The mark in the lower right-hand corner is where they dropped to eight meters off the ocean surface as the music started.  Why?  ‘Cause they wanted to do something exciting.  You’ll discover in the next scene that on their leg into the school their comms were off for about ninety seconds, and that’s when all the plotting started.  They popped up over the northeast corner of Gloucester then headed over the school wall and up the west wall.  They slowed a little, and since it’s about five kilometers from the south end of the school to the north, there’s another minutes or so killed–

Because you know I know the time.

Because you know I know the time.

This means by the time they loop around Observatory Tower and head back south the song is about half over.  So they speed up, do a couple of quick loops around The Pentagram (Hi, Headmistress!) and finally make their way to the Flight School, where during the last minute of the song Annie decides to let her exuberance break free and starts dancing around, because she’s a thirteen year old girl and, as Isis points out, some times you gotta let bad ass witches be kids.

And after all that Kerry ends the flight by laying a big, tender kiss upon his little cabbage roll as someone croons out “I’ll go there with yooooouuuuu.” as the music fades.  They aren’t thinking about getting in trouble for their little stunt:  they’re home and Annie nailed that final solo flight, so absolutely no shits about the consequences are given.

Seriously, I spent like two and a half hours Friday night figuring this out, and probably went over this scene here and there yesterday to the point where I likely invested another three hours visualizing this to the point where I could totally make a movie out of this part if I knew how to make a movie.  I even had the chance while getting my nails done to explain the entire scene to my manicurist while she worked on my pedicure, because she loves hearing about my little witches, as she calls them.

And lastly, here’s the version of the song Kerry played, taken from the 1993 HBO broadcast of U2 in Sydney, Australia, during the Zoo TV Tour.  And remember, Annie:  wherever you go, Kerry will go there with you.

The Final Solo: Not One of Those

Finally–finally–I managed to break five hundred words in a sitting.  Given that I had finished churning out a recap that took longer than I imagined–honey, they all take longer than I imagine–and I was feeling the Brain Dead Blue creeping up on me something fierce, I got into the point because there was something that needed addressing.

Kerry admitted that he was a touch rattled on the flight out to Marker One, and it was because he didn’t like zipping along at high speed a couple of hundred meters above the sea.  This is the same kid who, a year and a half earlier, traveled on the same kind of broom at nearly the same speed, and did it a few meters above the ground with trees all around him, while also negotiating a couple of curves and another flier.  He wasn’t thinking about what he did then, and ever weekend he goes out and doesn’t think about doing the same thing, or that he’s crashed into the ground at speeds that, were he a Normal kid doing the same, he’d likely die.

Why is he a bit rattled?  Simple:

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

“It’s—” The rain and cold, misting air make Kerry’s blush all the more brighter. “It’s not that I’m traveling so close to the water at high speed, because, like you said, I’ve went that fact a couple of hundred meters over land. It’s that the land is so far below the surface. We go in the water and you don’t just lay there waiting for pickup—” He gulped. “You sink.”

“I understand perfectly.” Annie removed her right glove and let it hang by it’s attachment cord as she caressed his face. “Being a mountain girl, I’m not all that comfortable being on the water, either.” She looked down as she blushed. “I’ve never been on a boat. And other than the few excursions we’ve made over water while at school, this is the first time I’ve been out to sea.” Annie began chuckling “You do understand that flying at high speed a few hundred meters over the ocean is a psychological ploy, right?”

He nodded. “I kinda got that feeling. Everything they’re putting you through is designed to rattle you in some way.”

“The flying doesn’t bother me, but—” Annie quickly slipped on her glove. “The rain makes it feel colder.”

“It’s not just the rain.” Kerry clenched his arms tight around his torso. “The water temperature is like minus two Celsius, and it’s acting like a heat sink—at least that’s true here in the Gulf of Maine.” He pointed towards the mist in the east. “The Gulf Stream is way out there, so we don’t get all that warm southern water here.  It feels colder out here than it would over land because everything below us is colder.”

 

Kerry’s problem is pretty straight forward:  he has a small fear of drowning.  Crashing into the sea at high speed he could handle–it’s the sinking to the bottom that kinda freaks him out.  And here we learn something new as well:  Annie’s never been on a boat.  Planes, yes.  Brooms, for sure.  Flying free on her own:  she’s doing it now.  A boat?  Nope, not even once.  Which means at some point I gotta get these kids on a boat.  Cue The Lonely Island–

And Kerry is once again right:  the Gulf of Maine is cold, and that’s due to the influence of the Labrador Current bringing cold water down from Greenland and Northern Canada.  It sets up a barrier that prevents warming from the Gulf Stream, so the Gulf of Maine tends to remain cold though the majority of the year.

And with cold water comes all this sort of nasty looking stuff.

And with cold water comes all this sort of nasty looking stuff.

Yeah, that picture is a pretty good approximation of what they’re seen, though it’s just a bit nastier than that.  And they’re floating above it like it’s no big deal.  As Annie pointed out, keeping the kids out here is probably a psychological ploy of Vicky’s, and both kids know this.  So best to concentrate on each other and ignore the water below.

However, Annie does bring up something else:

 

Annie checked the collar of her parka, making certain it was secure. It was only after discussing the temperature of the water that she felt the chill. “This isn’t as bad what you went though back in December.”

“That whole flight—” He shook his head. “Oh, man: The Polar Express isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to be like a lot like this, only a little—”

“Worse?”

“Could be. I didn’t say anything, but during the debriefing the next day Vicky told us not to fly back like that again.” Kerry glanced around the featureless ocean. “She said if we tried a five hundred kph run back in temps like we hit coming back from Nova Scotia for more than a couple of hours we’d probably end up dead, and she didn’t want to go searching about Canada for our bodies.” He watched the waves slip by to the southeast, driven by the wind. “I don’t want to be one of those people.”

There was only one thing Annie could add to her soul mate’s statement. “I do not want you to be one of those people, either.”

Vicky’s voice broke thought their thoughts. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. How you holding up? Over.”

Annie didn’t move away from Kerry as she gave the reply with a warm smile. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo. We are holding up just fine. Over.”

 

During the kid’s C Levels The Polar Express is going to become something of a deal.  Kerry will fly it, and Annie will deal with Kerry being out there in the arctic wilds of Canada almost alone for three days.  This is the first time he’s admitted it’s not going to be easy, and he’s saying aloud that he doesn’t want to do anything stupid that could get him killed.  Though it hasn’t happened in some time, students have died during The Polar Express–but then, we’ve already seen students die in the process of defending the school.  Shit does happen, even to my witches.  And they both know how dangerous said shit can get.

Kerry is not the only one who knows next school year can bring at least one nasty event.  Annie knows it, too, and she’s ready for some down time.  She does want to find an environment more conducive to, well, relaxing.

"This year he gets water, next year he gets snow. *sigh* When do we get Paris?"

“This year he gets water, next year he gets snow. *sigh* When do we get Paris?”

You’ll get it soon enough, young lady.

First you gotta get through the flight.

The Final Solo: Head East

In what was one of my better writing days yesterday, I finished off the scene I started Sunday morning with another thousand word run that early evening, and then sat down to do about nineteen hundred words of snarking backup work for recaping the season finale of The Walking Dead, which Rachel will get out later today and to which I’ll add my thoughts after that.

But there was writing.  A lot of writing, though trying to imagine all the stuff happening in the my novel isn’t an easy thing as I’m pulling all the stuff out of thin air and getting it down on the page for you.  In finishing this, however, I realize that I’m now more than mid-way through Chapter Thirty and closer to the end of Annie’s solo flight than I am to the beginning.

I'm certain there's some kind of synergy here, but the coffee hasn't kicked in so I'm blankin' my butt off.

I’m certain there’s some kind of synergy here, but the coffee hasn’t kicked in so I’m blankin’ my butt off.

I left my kids hovering off a bunch of rocks off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine staring out into the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and now Annie is gonna want to find out what Kerry meant by his last statement . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie squinted out towards the east and widening ocean. On a clear day, at their altitude, Annie figured they could see close to fifty kilometers, but in this weather she estimated she could see perhaps a third of that distance. “Why do you believe that?”

He sat back in the saddle and crossed his ankles. “When it comes to your flights, everything with Vicky and Isis has been push, push, push. They said the night solo was supposed to be your third solo, but—” Kerry shook his head. “It always felt like BS to me. Vicky always tried to make it sound like that flight wasn’t that hard—”

“It was more difficult that it appeared, I know.” Annie rolled part-way on to her side, a floating position she found comfortably when resting. “The few times we flew at night during Basic Flight taught me that seeing things at night are not as easy as seeing them during the day. It’s easy to get lost in the dark.”

“And it’s easier to get turned around when you’re overflying a city and everything looks the same at night.”

“I don’t believe there was ever going to be a ‘second’ solo flight—” Kerry rocked a little back and forth. “The night solo was always going to be the second flight ‘cause Vicky wanted to give you something that wouldn’t be easy, and that was the best way to make the situation difficult.”

Almost as if she were waiting for the right moment to speak, Vicky cut into the conversation. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. Ready for your next objective? Over.”

Annie flipped around so she was upright once more. “I’m ready, Flight Deck. Over.”

 

We return to a feeling that Kerry has had a couple of times, and that is everything is a test, but in their case, those tests are usually a hell of a lot harder.  Annie and his walking tour of London was a test; sending them to Kansas City was a test; and now, the second solo flight was never one that was “moved up”, it was always meant to be that way.  Add to this all the stuff with them being asked into advanced class, being able to tutor each other in a couple of magical disciplines, Emma’s and Kerry’s finally flight back from Canada during the first overnight, and the puppeteer work over at The Manor, and it does seem as if these kids are being given a hell of a lot more to do that the other little witches.

But that’s something to be told later.  Right now Vicky’s on the air and talking:

 

“All right, then.” The air went silent for a moment; when Vicky returned she once more sounded as if she were reading information verbatim. “You are to remain on IFR from now until you return to the school. Your next objective will require you to be in position within a specific time period. I will give you the heading, your altitude, the distance to the object, and the time needed to reach your objective, requiring you to calculate your speed. As your Band’s in-flight calculator was disabled for his test, you need to do this calculation manually.

“Here are the specifics: you will set off on a heading of eighty—that’s zero-eight-zero—degrees and maintain an altitude of three hundred fifty meters for the duration. Distance to objective is ninety-five kilometers; your time-on-target is twenty minutes. Your objective is an orange marker hovering at an attitude of two hundred meters above sea level. It has an active tracking system your Band will detect when you are within three kilometers of the marker. Are there any questions? Over.”

Annie exchanged glances with Kerry, whose expression indicated he had at least one question. “Flight Deck, this is Starbuck actual. Is this marker outside the school’s one hundred kilometer local detection range? Over.”

They both could imagine Vicky nodding as she answered. “That’s correct, Starbuck. You’ll be outside our local detection range. We’ll still be able to communicate via the radios—we just won’t know where you are once you’ve reached this marker. Over.”

“Roger. Please stand by.” The look of concern was still in his eyes as he spoke with Annie. “They’re not going to know where we are once we’re out that.”

She tried to alleviate his concern with a smile. “I know. And I imagine most of this part of the test is outside that range.”

“That’s my guess, too.” He chuckled as he shrugged. “Not like it’s gonna make a difference.”

“No.” Her smile brightened. “Going to have to go there if I want to complete the test.” Annie turned back to the comm. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Solo Flight. Questions asked and understood. How much time do I have to calculate my speed? Over.”

“You have five minutes, Athena, starting now. Over.”

 

They are headed out to sea, just as they thought, and they’re even gonna end up flying off the school’s radar, so to speak, as they near their first objective.  What does this leg look like?

In case you're wondering, this is their route.

In case you’re wondering, this is Annie’s route.

There you go.  Between Isles of Shoals and this marker in the middle of the ocean, there’s a whole lot of open and empty water to cross.  And just so you have another reference, down in the left hand corner, where you see the word “Rockport,” the school is sitting on the “R”.

They are a long way from home and going out even further.  Not only that–

 

“Roger. Please stand by.” She turned to Kerry. “She’s giving me way too much time to figure this out.”

He laughed. “Oh?”

“Vicky probably wants me to rest a little more because this calculation is easy.” Annie straightened her body as she gripped her hands before her. “Twenty minutes is a third of an hour. Distance is ninety-five kilometers, so twice that is one ninety, and adding ninety-five to that is two hundred and eighty-five kilometers an hour.” She curled her legs slightly while relaxing. “Going three hundred kilometers an hour will get us there with time to spare.”

“And if we haven’t found the marker in twenty minutes—”

“Then I did something wrong and went off course.” Annie placed her right hand next to her head. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo. I’m ready to proceed to the next objective. Over.”

Annie was certain she heard Isis said something over a muted comm because Vicky laughed for a couple of seconds before responding. “Okay, then, Athena. You have one minute to get underway.

Notify when you are so we can start the clock. Over.”

“Roger. Over.” She slipped her balaclava back into place over her lower face and glanced at Kerry. “Up for some high speed flying?”

Kerry recovered his face as well. “Totally.”

“Then we shouldn’t waste time.” Annie checked her hood and gloves. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo. We’re preparing to depart in fifteen seconds. Over.”

“Roger, Salem Final Solo. Counting down now. See you in twenty. Over and out.”

Annie leaned slightly forward, preparing to depart. “You ready?”

Kerry nodded from under his hood. “Yep. Let’s do this.”

Annie nodded back. “Let’s.” After the fifteen seconds passed on her clock she waved her right arm forward and sped off on her proper heading as fast as she could will herself. In less than twenty seconds she reached three hundred kilometers an hour and settled in behind the windscreen her Band set up.

Kerry pulled into position close behind and to Annie’s right. Now that they were at speed he could only be heard over the comms. “How’s ‘bout some music?”

She rolled slightly on to her side for just a moment so she could see Kerry better. “I’d love music.” She slid back into position after only a second, seeing she lost neither her heading or altitude. One of Kerry’s songs began playing, something that began with a long, droning synthesizer and the singer lamenting that the city streets were empty—

Given where they were headed, the streets to her destination were certainly empty.

 

Not only are they heading sixty miles/ninety-five kilometers out to sea, but they’re doing it at three hundred kilometers an hour/one hundred and eighty-six miles an hour, which is sorta like race car speeds, right?  Annie has cranked it up before, but nothing this fast.  But she’s in a test, and when you test you get tested.  And this is how she’s getting tested, by heading out into the unknown at high speed.

And what song is Kerry playing as they leave?  Why, Electric Light Orchestra’s Turned to Stone, which begins with a lyric about how the city streets are empty.  Just like the ocean, am I right?

They’re on their way.

The Final Solo: Quiet Moments On the Flight Line

My computer was being a pain in the ass this morning, but somehow I manged to get it to act nice long enough to finish this scene and get the post prepped.  I hate when my  computer isn’t being nice to me, and perhaps it’s time to think about moving up to something new–even though I hate most of the systems I’ve seen.  I know:  First World Problems.

Speaking of those, I did not expect to write as much as I did last night.  I thought, “Eh, I’ll get five, six hundred words in and go to bed,” and before I realized what was going on it was after eleven PM and I’d passed a thousand words, and there was no way in hell I could go to bed without finishing the scene.  So I did, topping out at twelve hundred and twelve words.  Must be some kind of synergy there, right?

Doesn't matter.  I'm done with the scene.

Doesn’t matter. I’m done with the scene.

So what happened with Annie in the Hanger?  Well . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

She leaned against the wall waiting for him to arrive and allowed her thoughts to wander back to the overview Vicky and Isis gave when they finished with breakfast. The solo would start as soon as both fliers were in place and ready to go. From the school Annie was to set out under visual flight rules for the Annisquam River and the parking lot at Wingaersheek Beach, then proceed to the intersection of Martin and Main Streets in Essex. After that she’d turn north and zip up to the train station at Ispwich, then continued heading north up the coast until they reached the nuclear power station at Seabrook, New Hampshire.

What concerned Annie was what came after she reached Seabrook, for neither Vicky or Isis would say anything about what happened after that point: the only think either would say was that “further instructions would be forthcoming” and left it at that.

That wasn’t true, thought: there were two items concerning the solo that Kerry and she were giving in the short briefing. The first is that she’d have thirty minutes to cover the almost forty-five kilometers to Seabrook—and the second was that this solo flight would cover a total of four hundred kilometers. Given that she had thirty minutes to cover just under one-eighth of the course, and that they were ordered to wear their arctic parkas and winter gear, Annie suspected there was an excellent likelihood this solo would involve some high speed flying at some point.

Something Kerry said as they headed into the locker rooms began making sense. He told her that one of the reasons for a steak and eggs was not that it was just traditional, but it was high protein meal that would digest slower and provide energy for a longer time while producing little or no waste—though his exact statement was that they wouldn’t need to stop and poop at any point. He also suspected that since the sides were mostly carbohydrates and starches, it would give them a quick energy release to get them going and probably wear off within the hour.

That information fit with the profile Annie was developing: they’d both receive a quick burst of energy from the starches that would take them thought the easy part of the course, after which the protein left them with a reserve of long-term energy through the difficult part of the flight. However, this didn’t answer the question of where she was flying where Kerry and she were going to need this energy—

 

What she thinks about breakfast is true, because I did my research.  Protein does digest slower, so you have more energy for longer.  And there’s little residual waste, so that means hardly any pooping.  True story:  when William Anders prepared for the Apollo 8 mission to the moon, he started on a high protein diet about three weeks before lift-off, and he even stated that one of his goals was to not poop at all during the mission.  Why would you do that?  Because when you flew in space in 1968, you stuck a Ziploc bag on your butt, did your business, and then stored it away.  And Anders didn’t want to do that, so–high protein, low poop.  As it was it didn’t matter, ’cause Frank Borman caught the flu on the way to the moon and pretty much used up all the bags through bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.  Yeah, that was a fun trip–

In case you were wondering–and it doesn’t matter if you are, ’cause I’m running this blog–here’s Annie’s route Seabrook under visual flight rules:

Pretty straight forward, wouldn't you say?

Pretty straight forward, wouldn’t you say?

Twenty-seven and a quarter miles/forty-three point eight-six kilometers in thirty minutes.  Because they have to stop at three spots along the way and get pictures, she’s gonna fly along as a little better than one hundred kilometers an hour, which is sixty-two miles an hour.  Annie knows that part is easy ’cause she’s already do that in the previous solo flights.  And look!  Here comes her chase:

 

Kerry came bounding down the stairs, his gloves hanging from the sleeves of his parka and broom in his left hand. “Sorry I took so long.” He hurried up and gave Annie a kiss. “Vicky was being a total pain about checking out my broom.”

Annie found that surprising as, in the past, flight instructor did little more than give Kerry’s broom a quick inspection before handing it over. “What did she do?”

“She had me go into hover while she did a processor check.” He glance to the stairs to make certain no one was standing there listening. “We didn’t even do those when we went off on overnight flights.”

“What about when you flew back from Nova Scotia during your first camp out?” The high altitude, near six hundred kilometers an hour leg Emma and he flew last December during Advanced Flight One’s first overnight camp out and test flight was a subject of discussion among the students in A Level Basic Flight, and Annie had overheard some of the hushed conversation in the tower covens from time-to-time when Kerry and she entered the area.

“We checked out the brooms before leaving camp, but not at any point after that.”

She nodded. “I’m certain we’re going to do some high speed flying today.”

He gave her hand a squeeze. “You ready for that?”

She chuckled. “Like I have a choice.”

Before Kerry answered there was a voice in their heads. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. Comm check. Over.”

Protocol demanded Annie respond first. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo, Athena Actual. Over.”

Kerry glanced up at the ceiling. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo, Starbuck Actual. Over.”

Vicky’s voice was smooth and professional. “Roger, Final Solo. Proceed to flight land and prepare for take off. Over.”

“Roger, Flight Deck. Over and out.” Annie smiled at Kerry. “This is it.”

“It certainly is.” He waved the large hangar door aside and he waited for Annie to take the first steps before following.

 

You gotta love the attitude everyone takes when they start one of these flights, and both kids know how to get their game faces on when it time for business.  It’s another of the reasons Kerry is allowed to be Annie’s chase without needing someone older, like Nadine, to back him up:  he’s not there to goof off or screw around, he’s there to do his job, and he does it.

Now all that remains is to get this party started . . .

 

The sky was lighter but remained a solid gray. The temperature had finally risen over three Celsius, but the wind was blowing at a steady twenty kilometer’s an hour. And didn’t worry about the wind as in a few minutes they were going to leave the school and fly along at five times that speed, which was going to drop the temperatures to below freezing. She slipped on her gloves and waited for the final go while Kerry set his broom to hover and set his tablet in place. “How are you feeling?”

“Nervous.” He locked the computer in place and jiggled it to make certain the enchantment was crafted properly. “I want everything to go well.”

“It will.” She reached for his glove and slipped it on to his left hand. “We do what we’re supposed to do, nothing more. Just like the other two times.”

Kerry nodded slowly. “No problem.”

Vicky interrupted their conversation. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. Prepare for take off. Over.”

Annie didn’t take her eyes from Kerry. “Roger, Flight Deck. Preparing for take off. Over.” She wrapped her arms around Kerry’s neck and kissed him hard. “I love you, my darling.”

Before she could pull away Kerry pulled her close and kissed her back. “I love you, my little sarmi.” He flipped her hood into place. “You’re gonna do great.”

She shot him a broad grin. “Yes, I will.”

Almost the second Kerry was on his broom Vicky gave the order. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. Take off and proceed to Objectives One through Four; upon reaching each objective call in and document. You have thirty minutes from lift off to reach Objective Four, Seabrook. Any questions? Over.”

Annie slid her balaclava up over her face. “No questions, Flight Deck. We’re ready to go. Over.”

“In that case, Salem Final Solo—” Vicky paused for just a moment. “You are cleared for take off. Over.”

“Roger, Flight Deck. Taking off now.” Annie went into hover then slowly rose twenty meters into the air, checking that Kerry was with her. “We are airborne, Flight Deck. Over.”

Vicky choked slightly as she spoke. “We have you airborne, Salem Final Solo. The clock is running; best get going. Over.”

“Roger. We’ll call you at Essex. Over and out.” She shot another hundred meters straight up, clearing the trees. She was already facing west and had her first objective, the mouth of the Annisquam River, in sight. She glanced over to Kerry. “You ready?”

He waved forward. “Lead on, Athena.”

“Will do, Starbuck.” Annie leaned forward and pushed through the air.

Her last qualifying solo flight was under way.

 

The party is underway, and Annie’s in the air.

What’s coming next?  You’ll be the second to find out.

The Night Air: A Proper Finish

Before getting to the good, writty stuff, let’s get the personal stuff out of the way first, because that’s how I usually do it here at Casa Burg.  Yesterday marked eighteen months that I’ve done hormone replacement therapy, and there was some time–not much, but some–to reflect on what’s happened.  Needless to say, there’s more craziness than I care to admit that has followed me around since that time.  But I’ve made it so far, and I’ll hope to ilk out another six months now so I can make it to two years.

I even thought to snap a picture before heading out into the cold to work.

I even thought to snap a picture before heading out into the cold to work.

Now the writty stuff.  The scene is over, because I sat down last night and in two and a half hours time wrote just a smidgen over twelve hundred words.  And it was something of a strange situation because because the fifteen hundred words of the scene focuses on my kids through the eyes of Vicky and Isis.  But before we get into how they see my kidlettes, we get a reminder that there is always a bit of multiculturalism going on at the school:

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Isis entered the Flight Deck carrying a small cup of steaming coffee. She held it up for Vicky to examine. “You sure you don’t want me to get you one, too?”

Vicky shook her head. “Thank you, but I enjoy coffee that I don’t have to cut with a knife.”

Isis chucked before taking her seat. “Can’t help it if I prefer Egyptian coffee over that Americano crap you drink. It’s part of my heritage, you know?”

“Did you get your love of that strange ass sausage from the other side of your family?” Everyone at the school was aware that Isis was not only half-Egyptian from her mother, but that her father was half Puerto Rican, and due to this family connection she’d developed a love of the cuisine of both her father’s and father’s mother’s countries.

“You mean botifarra?” Isis set her coffee aside. “That stuff’s the shit, I’m tellin’ you, girl.” She stretched out her legs. “I made carne bif and oxtail soup for Wends over Yule holiday and she loved them both. She even likes my coffee.”

“That’s cause she’s crazy in love with you. Did she make you borscht while you were hangin’ in the desert?” Vicky wasn’t the only instructor who enjoyed kidding the school’s spell mistress about her long-hidden Russian heritage.

“She said she’ll make it next year when we go to Innsbruck for Yule.” Isis adjusted her glasses before nodding towards the display. “Where’s Annie?”

 

We knew from past readings that Isis is half Egyptian, but now we learn she’s also a quarter Puerto Rican from her father’s side.  And that she has a girlfriend who was secretly half-Russian for quite some time before her dad was outed as a spy.  And Vicky’s Jewish, so a lot of bases covered.

That little part above required some real quick research as I looked up how Egyptians make coffee–like Turkish coffee is made, only thicker–and I found botifarra quickly along with carne bif.  One interesting thing about making Egyptian coffee is you’re told not to pour the sludge at the bottom of the pot into your cup, except in the cases where you want to stay up all night.  Apparently Isis doesn’t need to bother with that Americano crap–aka, what most of us in the U.S. drink that passes for coffee–and it’s probably why she’s drinking out of small cups.

In case you’re like Isis and wondering about Annie’s location, she’s somewhere on this map of the last leg of her flight.

More towards the upper right than the lower left.

More towards the upper right than the lower left.

Actually Kerry and she are approaching the next to last dot, with the last one being the Flight School.  This map is the final leg from the Wonderland station to home, so you can see where she’s been and going.  And as expected, Kerry and she took the route across the sound to Manchester-by-the-Sea before turning towards the school.

With them just outside the walls, more or less, Vicky needs to get something ordered–

 

Vicky examined the tank without getting up. “Looks like they’re about to stop at the last check point and head home.” She slowly stood and pointed at one of the computer displays, bringing it awake. “Better let the hospital know we’ll bring them in and see if they wanna keep them overnight—”

“For observation?”

Vicky nodded. “Sure.”

Isis turned a playful smirk towards her friend. “You’re an enabler, you know that?”

“Why? Because I want to make sure they don’t have hypothermia?”

“Because you know if you get Coraline to put them up for observation, they’re gonna spend the night together in the same bed.”

Vicky tapped the computer display before. “Text mode, direct to hospital. Start: Gretchen, we’re bringing Annie and Kerry by for their after-flight checkup right after they land. Let Coraline know we’ll be there in about ten minutes. End: Send.” She turned back to Isis, folding her arms across her chest. “Enabler, huh? Did anyone enable you into bed with another girl when you were a student?”

Isis took a long sip of her coffee before answering. “None of the instructors we’re making it easy for me, I know that.”

“Um, hum.” A slight smile appeared on Vicky’s face. “You’re Chief of Security, so when Coraline’s finished with them, you can pull them aside and tell them to knock that shit off—” She winked.  “Yeah?”

 

Yeah, Isis:  you’re the Head Cop about town, why not sit those kids down and tell them to stay in their own beds?  I mean, if it came right down to it, the Chief of Security could tell the kids to chill their jets.  However . . .

 

Isis stared back at Vicky for nearly five seconds before she snorted. “You know I’m not going to do that. It hasn’t become a problem, and if it were—” She shrugged. “The headmistress knows about it, and if she hasn’t comment by now, I’m not going to say anything.” She stared down at her nearly empty coffee cup. “Though if someone ever walks in on them in the hospital doing something—”

“It won’t happen; they’re not like that.” Vicky sat back against the instrument console. “They’ve been out tonight, fifty kicks out and back, and we both know they’re hitting negative wind chills the whole time, and not once have either of them complained about this flight. Sure, they’ve privately said it’s cold, and that they’re cold, but they haven’t publicly bitched about how cold their are, and could they please come in early.” She recrossed her arms as she lowered her gaze towards the floor. “They’re like that with everything: give them an assignment or a job to do, and they get it done. No whining, no bitching, no pissing and moaning. I wish more of our students were like that.”

Though Isis had no contact with either student in a classroom environment—other than her flight lessons with Annie—she knew of their exploits through numerous dinners conversations in the Instructor’s Residence and late-night talks with Wednesday. There were, however, things of which she was aware that only two other instructors at Salem knew, and while she didn’t have all the facts from their weekend away from Salem, she knew why their student files were yellow flagged as well as knowing that they should have a red flag . . .

“You’re right: they’re good kids. I suppose that if everyone else can look the other ways concerning their—” She raised an eyebrow. “—occasional nocturnal actives, I can as well. Besides, if their parents ever find out what they’re doing, I won’t be one of the people who’ll have to face them.”

“True there.” Vicky pushed away from the console and moved closer to the holo tank. “They’re coming in.”

 

. . . Even Isis knows it’s a fool’s journey to get between two kids in love.  The only solution she could ask for while they’re in the hospital is put them in separate bays, and Coraline is probably hip to the fact that one or both kids would need monitoring through the night to keep them from sneaking into the other’s bay.  They seem to have the light bending invisibility down pretty well, so trying to keep them out of a single bed in the middle of the night in the hospital is kinda like Lori keeping Carl in the house and away from zombies.

They could also lock them into a bad.  Which isn’t good, either, because what if they need to get out.  Or just drug them up and make them sleep.  Eh, they aren’t getting sexy with each other, so let it bed.  After all, if the headmistress hasn’t said anything, then no biggie.  And it seems that Isis doesn’t mind cutting them slack because she knows things about them.

So they’re almost home–right?

 

“So they are.” Isis stood and joined her friend watching the two small blips coming closer to the middle of the display centered on the Flight School. Only . . . “It looks like they’re going to fly past us.”

Vicky shrunk the display to show only the school grounds, now that they were inside the outer walls. “Looks that way.” She tapped her left ear. “Salem Night Solo, this is Flight Deck. Where are you going? Over.”

Annie’s answer was prefaced by a laugh. “Flight Deck, we’re taking a short detour—” The comm exploded with the sound of a loud, screeching guitar before breaking into a driving song.
Isis watched the dots closely. “Looks like they’re going to buzz The Pentagram.”

Vicky started laughing as she dots heading straight for the Great Hall. “Shit. Kerry and I did that the first day he checked out on an Espinoza, and he told me Annie and he did the same thing later that day.” She watched them fly between Ceridwen and Cernunnos Towers before slipping between the hall and Åsgårdsreia Tower before buzzing Mórrígan and Blodeuwedd Towers on their way back to the Flight School. “Let’s get outside.”

“Right with you.” Rather than head for the stairs and walk outside, Isis and Vicky jaunted down to Selena’s Meadow. Isis immediately looked to the north and the music. “Jesus, he’s really blasting that computer.”

“You should know it can do that; you modified it for him.” Vicky watched both fliers come in fast, slowing only at the last moment before dropping eight meters straight down to land slightly harder than normal a few meters from their observers. Vicky waited for Kerry to kill the music before speaking. “Rock in America, Kerry? I didn’t think you had that in you.”

He threw his leg over his broom and dismounted. “I can be full of surprises—” He lifted his goggled before slipping back his hood. “When it’s needed.”

“I see.” Vicky turned to the smiling girl in front of her. “And what the hell was that last maneuver? I don’t recall that being authorized.”

Annie pushed back her hood before removing her goggles. “Well . . .” The moment Kerry reached her side she threw her right arm around him. “It seemed like a good way of letting everyone know we were home.”

 

Tunes, baby, and Annie is having fun with them.  Also, blasting around The Pentagram, Great Hall, and coven towers with music blaring as loud as possible is a great way to let everyone know you’re back on the reservation.  I guess after a few hours in the cold Annie wasn’t about to sneak in like a teen trying to cover up that she was out late with her girlfriends.  Annie’s pretty much saying, “I’m home, bitches!” and Kerry’s right there helping her the whole way.

And what is he playing?  (You Can Still) Rock in America, by Night Ranger.  Given that Kerry’s already played Sing Me Away by the same band, either Vicky wasn’t paying attention to the comms at that point, or she was having a bad reaction to Isis’ coffee.

One scene left in the chapter, and as you can probably guess, there’s some warming involved . . .