Talk of the Town: All the Investment

Well, that was an interesting night.  I got my back fixed but I did not get a Unicorn Frappuccino because the Camp Hill Starbucks are run by asses and didn’t have enough ingredients stocked.  So no magical comments for you guys, and if you don’t have one ready for me tonight when I return, you are gonna be toast here tomorrow.

This after all the running around I did last night, I returned home about fifteen minutes before a bus captain webinar I logged into for this Saturday’s trip to D.C. for the March For Science.  Yes, I’ll be in Washington doing the captain of the bus thing again, but this weekend won’t be a big as the last time I was down about that way.  The last number I saw was an estimated 100,000 showing, which is still pretty respectable.  Hey, I’ll be making my voice heard–and I’m not getting paid.  Trust me.

One thing I did manage was to lay out Chapter Twelve.  And if I’m even luckier I’ll start the next scene.  If I do I’ll show you the scene titles so you can have a laugh…

Speaking of laughs–that’s something Helena isn’t doing.  And as we end the scene Ramona is more or less with the head sorceress:

 

 

 

 

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

 

Helena was about to say something when Ramona interrupted. “Did you notice Isis playing around with her tablet throughout the test?”

“As a matter fact, I did.” Helena removed her arm from the back of the chair and folded her hands together in her lap as she leaned forward. “You think she was streaming the test?”

“The only reasons she would’ve kept checking her tablet is one, she wanted to make certain her firewall in place and no one was hacking the signal; two, she’d want to make certain the bit rate didn’t fall too low.” Helena glanced up at a point on the wall above Ramona’s head. “And three, she would’ve also been watching the Marionette streams.”

There wasn’t anything in Ramona’s logic that Helena saw as incorrect. Given the large number of Spy Eyes in the room, she’d already accepted the possibility that San Francisco wasn’t just recording but live streaming as well. And given the way the homunculus acted—particularly during the third phase—it wasn’t difficult to believe there were puppet operators working the other end.

“All that makes sense.” Helena leaned sideways against the arm of her chair and sighed. “When that test started it was a little after five in San Francisco; that means they were getting people in place at four this morning.” She shook her head. “That’s a hell of a lot of preparation for a four minute test.”

 

Yeah, when your zombies are working together to take out one person, you can bet there are live people on the other end pulling those puppet strings.  What Helena says is also true:  a lot of prep work when into this test, and it seems as if San Francisco was, pardon the pun, pulling a lot of strings.  This is not normal procedure and it leaves both women wondering what it all means…

 

Ramona nodded. “That’s what I thought. That’s also why I thought this wasn’t approved by Gabriel: I don’t think he’d of had the audacity to invite people out that early in the morning to view this test live.” She, too, leaned against the arm of her chair. “You think you can find out who was involved in setting up this test?”

Helena shrugged. “Doubt it. While I’ve done my fair share of work for SOP, I’m in a completely different division. That means that some of the inner manifestations to go along with an SOP test are kept hidden from me.”

“You have any contacts who might be able to looking to those inner workings?”

“I have a few, but…” Helena rubbed her hands together as she considered the matter. “While those contacts don’t mind helping me out in a pinch with something they also see is bullshit, they’ll likely balk when I start asking them organizational questions—particularly who is doing and what at a continental headquarters.”

While Ramona knew nothing of the internal workings of the Guardians, she could see members of a super-secretive organization being just a secretive when it came to revealing their table of organization. “I guess we’ll find out who’s running things there eventually.”

Helena smirked. “Eventually.”

“So what do you think this means for those two?”

Helena pressed a fingertip against her right cheek as she contemplated this new reality. “It means someone has taken a rather exuberant interest in our couple.”

Ramona was quick to notice the deep frown crossing Helena’s face. “What’s wrong?”

The sorceress gave a deep sigh. “I’m somewhat torn.”

“By?”

She stared off into a corner of the room so that she didn’t have to look across the desk. “I don’t know if I should be excited, pleased, or terrified at that prospect.”

 

You know, when Helena is worried, everyone should worry.  You should worry more when she doesn’t know how she should feel, though, ’cause that’s always bad.  The take away here is the Guardians are upping their game on my kids and since we know they’re getting a mission, you can expect said missions won’t be anything like Kansas City.

And yes:  you will find out what’s going on behind the scene and those questions will be answered in this novel.  Act Two:  don’t miss it.

With that done, it’s time to move on to one of the moments that my kids get to share together…

Talk of the Town: Not Who You Think

It took a few weeks, but I reached another milestone last night: I finished Part Three in the novel.  It didn’t take a lot–just a little over eight hundred words–but that was enough with the scene the bed, finish the chapter, and set the part aside.

All those First Drafts looking nice and pretty.

This means it’s time to move on to Part Four, which means I’m into the last part of Act One. It also means I’m into the first of the chapters, Chapter Twelve, that need to be laid out now.  Chapter Eleven was the last chapter in the book which I plotted out, and now it’s necessary to move on ahead and start laying out scenes.  Tonight I’m likely going to do that for Chapters Twelve and Thirteen and perhaps lay down a few scenes for the remaining three chapters of Part Four.

Yeah, I got some work ahead of me. But it’s not like I don’t know what’s coming…

Speaking of that–not knowing what’s coming, that is–let’s move a little further along in our conversation between Ramona and Helena and see what they make of the Great Musical Zombie Killing:

 

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

 

“How do you think I felt when Isis braced me last night?” Ramona leaned forward in her chair. “And then this morning she tells me additional things, like it’s a Do or Die test and there’s going to be music played. I didn’t understand that at all.”

Helena snorted. “And what was with the music? Who the hell picked that song?”

“I assume someone in San Francisco. I mean, if anyone wants to know what sort of music Kerry likes, all they need to do is go out to his YouTube account and take a look at his playlists. It’s all public, so it’s not like anyone would need to go out there snooping about in secret.”

Helena rubbed her eyes as she considered Ramona’s remarks. “It’s goddamn stupid, if you ask me. I’ve never seen a test conducted that way.” She tilted her head back and let herself go slightly limp. “Gabriel must’ve been tripping bear balls when he put this test together.”

Ramona stared across her desk at Helena for about five seconds before she shook her head. “That test was not authorized by Mr. Gabriel.”

 

First, we now know that Kerry has a bunch of public playlist on a YouTube account–which makes him sound just like a certain author we all know.  Well, it is cheaper than paying for Pandora or Spotify, though one day Kerry likely will start doing that.  (As to whether or not Annie has Pandora and/or Spotify, I think we already know the answer to that question.)  Second, this is the first time we’ve also heard Helena use an expression like “tripping bear balls”, which is an unusual thing for her to say, but not completely out of the question.  It also makes me wonder if she is somehow related to Cheryl Tunt…

Lastly, though, we see that Helena is just too close to the problem and can’t see something that Ramona picks out immediately: that a person she’s had dealings with in the past concerning Guardian affairs didn’t do something she thinks he did.  And Ramona’s reasoning?

 

Helena sat up long enough to recross her legs and throw her left arm over the back of her chair. “What do you mean?”

“I mean it doesn’t seem like his style.” She tapped her index finger against the tip of her nose several times as she thought. “I’ve only had to deal with the gentleman a couple of times, but everything I’ve seen leads me to believe that he would never authorize a test like the one we had this morning. His style is classical, while the one we saw today—” She gave a quick shrug. “Totally modern pop.” Ramona lay her right hand on her desk and tapped it for a few moments. “Did you recognize any of the names on the emails you received?”

That was an easy question to answer as there was only one name on Helena’s email. “I recognized the name on my email right away: I’ve been dealing with her for six years.”

“There’s been three or four people I’ve had to deal with in the last six years and only one of their names popped up among the three I saw on the email they sent me regarding additional requirements for the test.” Ramona gave her head another shake and tapped her fingers on the desk once more. “Between that and the conduct of today’s test, I don’t think I’m entirely off base when I say I’m not sure the old guard is still in place in San Francisco.”

Though Helena wasn’t ready to agree with all of Ramona’s assessment, her comments concerning Mr. Gabriel and how it seemed unlikely he would’ve authorized the test they witnessed today did ring true. Though Helena didn’t work directly for SOP—she was actually a member of Field Operations Division, or FOD, which some wags in the Guardians said was the acronym for “Forced on Operation and Died”—she had plenty of opportunities to cross from one department to another, and had had more or less a cordial relationship with Gabriel for little more than a decade.

This meant she knew something of the way he conducted himself, as well as the way he conducted business as the director of San Francisco SOP, and Ramona was right: there was no way he would’ve authorized today’s test. His idea of a test would’ve been far more traditional—possibly more homunculus on the test area at once as well as a shorter time period in which to achieve goals. But he would’ve never set this up as a Do or Die operation, nor would he have allowed music to be played—at least not the music they heard today.

Helena was about to say something when Ramona interrupted. “Did you notice Isis playing around with her tablet throughout the test?”

 

Once you establish yourself as having a particular style, it’s easy to notice when that style changes.  With most of these witches, style change doesn’t come about easily, so something drastic occurs one can assume that someone new is calling the shots.  That’s what Ramona noticed right away, probably because while she’s had dealings with the Guardians, they’ve been limited.  This would make any change in procedures stand out rather dramatically.

And for the first time we find out which section of the Guardians Helena works for: Field Operations Division.  She stated before that she’s done work for SOP, but they are not the boss of her–at least not directly.  Because of her injuries we know FOD doesn’t put Helen out in the field as much as in the past, and when she does go out it’s usually in a supervisory capacity.  Which may or may not be all right with Helena, but there’s little she can do to buck her bosses at this point.  Besides, like it or not she’s collecting a paycheck from both the school and the Guardians, so why complain?  And, being at the school as she is, she’s usually the first to see new talent. Like, you know, a couple of kids who arrived at Salem two years ago–

With these questions out of the way close again quickly on the end of this conversation…

All That the Guardians Want

Well, we are here again getting ready to delve into my kid’s lives.  Although this is one of those scenes where neither of them are actually here, they’re just spoke about like the stars they are.

This is the last part of the first scene where the big Kali test is set up.  We’ve heard what is needed and realize what is at stake.  However, that doesn’t mean our Self Defense and Weapons instructor is happy–

 

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

 

She leaned back in the chair, interlaced her fingers, and gave her arms and shoulders to stretch. “You do realize that this is the week I start cooking up all the homunculi for next Friday’s class?”

Helena appeared slightly amused. “The Great Zombie Killing lesson, am I right?”

“The one and the same.”

“While I understand that you need to cook up a few for all the new students to try and kill, one, it’s not as many as we need to cook up for Sunday and, two, the Guardians give zero shits.” Helena chuckled. “What the Guardians want, the Guardians get.”

Ramona snorted. “Which is what they always get.”

“Absolutely.”

“All right, then.” Ramona knew that any protesting from here on out was nothing more than bitching and it wouldn’t change the outcome of the request. “I suppose I could turn up the time enchantments a bit so we can get these dozen done in the next twenty-four hours. I really hate to do that—”

“Because why? You’re afraid of wearing out the APs faster?” Helena was aware that the majority of the homunculi creation was performed by Salem’s housekeeping staff, which meant it was all being handled by one of the schools APs. “They’re not going to notice if you crank up the enchantment to twenty times over normal; to them it makes no difference.” She sat back in her chair and began forming her fingers on her thighs. “What’s up your arse this afternoon? You usually don’t react like this when I put in a request.”

Ramona fidgeted in her seat delete before answering. “It feels like San Francisco’s up to something again and you know I don’t work well with all this secretive bullshit.”

 

Yesterday reader and blog follower renxkyoko told me that she thought the Guardians were being a bit unfair with Annie and Kerry.  Well, here we have Ramona feeling as if San Francisco–the HQ who have ordered and will oversee this test–are kinda being sneaky shits about something.  Wow, spooks being, you know, spooky.  That’s like unheard of, you know?

Helena knows how to handle this:

 

Helena’s tone softened: she didn’t want to give Ramona the idea that she was upset with her. “I get tired with it as well, but I tend not to let it bother me as I’m used to their crap.” She leaned forward slightly as she smiled. “Not the first time it’s happened, certainly won’t be the last.”

That’s certainly true.” Ramona tapped her tablet. “I’ll start work on this right away; I should have the first of the homunculi cooking before dinner.”

“Excellent.” Helena rose from her chair and began backing away from Ramona’s desk. “By the way, that request has an acknowledgment notification. Make sure you respond to let San Francisco know that you’ve received a request and you understand.”

Ramona flashed her best bitch face before scoffing loudly. “I have done this before, Helena.”

Helena realized her faux pas immediately. “I apologize; wasn’t necessary for me to say that.”

Ramona nodded once. “Apology accepted.” She smiled the show there were no hard feelings. “I’ll take care of this. See you at dinner.”

Once the sorceress was gone and the door to her office closed, Ramona sat back in her chair and sighed. She wasn’t upset with Helena, though it did same as if during the past week all the instructors were slightly on edge. She felt it had something to do with the A Levels, who appeared to be a little slower than normal when it came to learning to craft even the simplest spells. Ramona didn’t notice much in her Beginning Self Defense class, but every night at dinner there was always one instructor who was somewhat frustrated with the progress of their new students.

She wouldn’t let it concerned her. We’ve started out the year with slow students before and in the end we’ve managed to train them up properly. She tapped on her tablet bring up to request so that she could acknowledge its receipt. I’m certain this year won’t be any different than the others. Ramona checked the box indicating she’d received cooking request and sent it off to San Francisco.

She was in the process of bringing up something else on her tablet when there was a ding notifying that she’d received an email. Her face scrunched up as she saw it was an acknowledgment to her acknowledgment. “What the hell?” She opened the message and quickly scan the contents, Ramona’s confusion changing to amazement as she read. The moment she finished Ramona sat up and slowly ran a finger along her right cheek bone. “Well, that’s certainly interesting…”

 

Annnnnnnnnnnnd, it looks like the spooks are being spooky.  What does this mean for the test?

You’ll start finding out tomorrow.

Rules and Ridiculous Regulations

Well, there’s some good news to go along with this post.  I’ve written almost 1100 words this morning, and in doing so made it almost two-thirds of the way through Annie’s and Kerry’s Kali test.  And let me tell you, it is a bloody mess.  Given that they’re being tested and a somewhat public situation, anyone who decides to call either of these kids out after this has either got to be really good at what they do, or a complete idiot–or maybe a little of both.  Honestly, I can’t wait until I get to this point in the story so you can see my kids unleash hell.

It’s going to be glorious.

Once more, however, I’m sort of making up for the fact that I haven’t written in the last two days. Both Friday and Saturday night I was out listening to live music at the coffee shop down the street.  It was kind of a nice break, but at the same time there was something I should’ve written and I won’t be able to get to it until tonight.  That’s on me and I should know better.  But sometimes you need to just step back and recharge, and that’s what I’ve been doing of late.

Okay, maybe I unwound too much yesterday…

 

I still had fun hanging out, however.

I can’t quite get to that fight yet because I’m still in the process of setting up the rules.  We know Ramona is one of those helping set up the rules; but who is it who’s come to visit her?  Well, who do you think?

 

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

 

Ramona looked up and found Helena Lovecraft standing in her doorway, a tablet in her left hand. It was rare Helena carried her tablet with her and it usually indicated she wanted to conduct some important business with you. “No, not at all.” She waved the sorceress inside and waved the door shut. “What’s on your mind?”

Helena sat and made herself comfortable. “Got a request from my friends in San Francisco.” She placed the tablet on remote his desk and pushed it towards her. “It’s a cook order.”

A “cook order” was Guardian slang for the creation of homunculi, as they needed to be created in molds, prepared from materials they gave them a human-like appearance and feeling. She tapped Helena’s tablet to hers, transferring the document to her machine, then performed a quick scan. Her eyebrows shot up as she looked up. “They want a dozen by tomorrow night? What for?”

Helena retrieved her tablet. “Scroll a little further down; you’ll see the Guardians want to conduct a self-defense test during the Sunday class. The email indicates they want them to go up against a dozen homunculi.” She shut the tablet off and set it aside, leaving it floating in the air next to her. “It shouldn’t be that big of a deal.”

 

Never let it be said that the instructors at Salem didn’t have their own little territories marked out, and when someone from outside their territory decides to come in and start rearranging things a bit, people get testy.  Ramona is well aware that Helena is only passing along what the Guardians are asking, but that doesn’t mean she has to like it.

And this goes double when someone else tries to put her at ease–

 

Ramona snorted. “Allow me to be the judge of what is and isn’t a ‘big deal’ around here.” She sat back in her large, plush chair. “And why do they want to conduct this test during my class? I could easily hold it Sunday afternoon.”

“Except they don’t want it Sunday afternoon, they wanted Sunday morning.” Helena shrugged. “Who the hell knows why San Francisco asks for these things? When they want something, we deliver.” She slowly crossed her legs and rested her hands against her knee. “Remember, it was the same way when we set up the puppeteering rigs. They told us they wanted to test them, but they leaked out the details little by little, so that we were still scrambling around right up until a few hours before Annie and Kerry showed up.”

Ramona couldn’t fault Helena’s logic. While not a member of the Guardians herself, as the person in charge of helping develop the fighting skills of students at Salem, she was often asked to evaluate students and, as in the case with teaching Annie and Kerry how to Marionette, she sometimes work directly with them to carry out their instructions.

But that didn’t mean she liked having to cater to every whim that came out of the Guardian’s North American headquarters in San Francisco. She felt that often they were too secretive for their own good and there were times when it seems as if the secrecy involved keeping members on their end from understanding the purpose of a test.

 

The interesting thing to take away from this exchange is that Ramona doesn’t seem all that surprised by all this BS Helena is pushing her way.  We know she knows Annie and Kerry are doing things for the Guardians because she was involved in the puppeteer tests and there wasn’t any way Helena could spin that off as anything but.  If anything, if seems she’s been called upon to do their bidding once in a while, because if you’re gonna get kids ready for the battles ahead, who better to do so than the Mistress of Ass Kicking?

Now we know the Guardians can be an annoying group of shits.  How annoying?

I think you’re about to find out.

A Glimpse of the Coming Year: All Dressed Up

Let’s get the personal business of the way first.  The stuff I need for my weekend Women’s March on Washington–which occurs in a little less than two weeks–has begun arriving.  Tonight I get my portable phone charger; tomorrow I get my wall socks; and I’m waiting for my thermal underwear and mukluk insoles to ship out.  Yesterday, however, I received my first item:

I have the Pussy Hat!

I have the Pussy Hat!

Yes, the Pussy Hat is here and while it’s a little big it’s still wearable.  One shipment I’m worried about is the thermal undergarments: they’re coming from Land’s End and I haven’t received notification that they’ve shipped.  I’m hoping that all ships this week, and the one shipment I can do without are the new insoles for my mukluks, because all have wool socks as of tomorrow.

And the totally ironic thing is the weather for 21 January in DC is expected to be somewhere between 50 and 55 F/10 to 13 C.  If we get those terms I may not even need the thermal undergarments.  But it’s always nice to have them just in case.

Now, let’s finish up but I was in the middle of yesterday.

There’s about a thousand words left in this last seen, which just happened to be the first of Chapter Eight.  Last night they ran off another eight hundred and fifty words, and I figure I might have another fifteen hundred to two thousand words to write to finish off this current scene and the chapter, at which point I can move into Chapter Nine, which finishes off Week One and it’s the kids to the Midnight Madness.

Things are zipping right along.

So, let’s finish up with the meeting in the Witch House and see how Helena and Erywin are dealing with Kerry’s particular situation…

 

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

 

Helena moved her chair closer to her desk so she could lean her arms against the top. “No one is thinking any less of you, Kerry, and no one in this room believes they can’t count upon you. As you indicated, your main concern is whatever group you’re working with—but you need to watch your own arse as well.”

A concerned look came over Erywin’s face. “If you’re feeling a little bit of trepidation about any, you and I can always speak. I mean, I do have a little bit of an understanding of what it’s like dealing with what might seem unusual emotions.”

Annie leaned so she was a bit closer to Kerry and could speak softly. “Something to consider, my love. And it couldn’t hurt to discuss these things with another person.”

He gave a slight nod. “Maybe later.”

Helena yawned for a few seconds. “Oh, sorry: didn’t get much sleep last night. Anyway, I have given you notification that you are in an on-call status with the Guardians as of this moment. Congratulations.” She threw up her hands in mock cheer. “You’re now like hundreds of other Sentinels wondering if you called out on a field operation any time soon.”

 

It seems as if this is about the third or fourth attempt to get Kerry to “talk things out”.  There’s a bit of a conundrum here with the boy, because for all of his life he’s been conditioned not to talk about his feelings, simply because his parents don’t want to hear about them.  Now he’s starting to find himself wading into some shit and he’s hesitant to put his feelings on display.  Sure, he might talk to Annie, but she’s not a trained counselor.  Getting him to open up to adults who really do want to help him is going to be something of an ongoing battle.

And with Helena’s last statement Annie hear something that may or may not be good for her–

 

Hearing the phrase “on-call status” made Annie wonder about their actual standing with The Foundation intelligence division. “Does this mean we’re—?”

“Actual Guardians?” A faint smile crossed Helena’s lips. “That was the last thing is gonna bring up during this meeting. You’ve both been moved to Provisional status, which is to say you’re old enough to go out on field operations, but you’re not old enough to be sworn in as actual operatives.”

“Why not?”

“Because you have to be considered emancipated before the Guardians will allow you to take the oath. One of the reasons you are allowed a Right of Refusal is because you haven’t reached the Age of Emancipation, but once you hit that then you can have the Guardians Oath administered and become full-time Sentinels.” Helena chuckled as she scratched her arm. “Of course, once you are full time that means that you can’t turn down any missions unless you have a damn good reason. Taking that oath means you get all those nice Guardian benefits without being able to walk away from the shit missions when you feel like it’s necessary”

“I didn’t expect it to be perfect.” Annie gave a slight shrug. “One has to take the bad with the good.”

Helena raised one eyebrow. “What do you expect the good to be in the Guardians?”

Annie had her answer ready. “To be able to protect The Foundation and its people, and by extension Normals who know nothing of our existence but benefit from our largess.”

Helena turned to Kerry. “What about you, Ginger Boy? What does serving the Guardians mean to you?”

Kerry had an answer ready as well. “By protecting the interests of The Foundation we keep the rest of the world safe. We’re not protecting a single country; we’re basically protecting people the world from the bad guys who would like to turn the lives of Normals to… shit.”

It was evident from Helena’s reaction that she hadn’t expected these responses. She turned to Erywin. “I really expected something a little more boilerplate.”

“You should know better.” Erywin chuckled. “You dealing with two highly motivated teens here.”

“Obviously.” Helena swiveled her chair back towards the two across the desk. “All right, is all I have to say. If it becomes necessary to have another meeting like this in the future, I’ll send you both a secure email with nothing more than the time: you’ll know where were going to meet.”

Both Annie and Kerry nodded with her replying. “Always here.”

 

At times it’s interesting to watch the reaction of adults around Annie and Kerry.  We know they’re bright and articulate, but they’re also quite perceptive.  Helena asked a gotcha question and then admits that she expected the kids to give a far more boilerplate answer than what they actually gave.  In short, she had low expectations for what they were going to say–which is something she shouldn’t have done.  But as Kerry might say, everything is a test, so perhaps Helena was actually testing the kids.  Perhaps?  We don’t know–well I do, but you don’t.

And with that it’s time to close down this meeting:

 

“Correct. Okay, you two, that’s enough for now.” Helena stood as did Erywin. “Kerry, as soon as I hear something back from San Francisco I’ll let you know. For that will likely send you a secure, encrypted document. And if you get one of those—”

Kerry gave a slight nod as he stood. “Read, delete, and clear deleted messages.”

“Sounds as if you been doing this spook business for a while.”

“I know how to take precautions.”

“Good.” Helena waved both kids toward the door. “Go on now. I understand a couple of instructors are taking some kids into Salem for lunch and an afternoon of shopping and relaxation. If you get back to the Great Hall by ten, I’m certain Erywin and I will be more than happy to let you accompany us.”

Annie waved back. “See you both at ten.”

Rather then head back up to the ground floor of the Witch House, Annie and Kerry decided to take the tunnel back to Memory’s End and emerge above ground there. They felt that is no one would be in the comments—at least not in this area school—they would be able to speak freely.

Annie felt she needed to reassure Kerry. “I hope you don’t think that we don’t believe you could do a field operation as a girl.”

He shook his head. “I don’t. Anyway, it was my suggestion I don’t go out like that right away because I’m not sure I can handle—you know—” Kerry tilted his head to the right as if to indicate something. “Like Erywin said, all the hormones and stuff.”

Annie gave Kerry’s hand a squeeze. “It will take some time you to filter through all the feelings. As Erywin said we’ve had time to learn, whereas you’re going to be instantly immersed. But I want you to know I’ll be there to help you in any way I can, though it may not be much.” She gave their arm a playful swing. “I won’t abandon you.”

Kerry leaned into Annie and rested his head against hers. “I know you wouldn’t. You’re the last person who would ever abandoned me.”

As Annie kissed his head only one thought remained in her mind: I’ll always be with you—until death do us part.

 

Annie seems to enjoy the idea that the boy by her side will be with her until the day one of them dies.  If one didn’t know any better, one might say Annie almost saw the relationship as something of a fairy tale–and given that some fairy tales were gruesome and bloody as hell, perhaps she’s not wrong.  The only question remains there is will they live happily ever after?  Like I’ve said before, I know when, where, and how they die, which means I know how they lived.  I know their happiness, I know their sadness, and I know some of their regrets.

In other words, they’re going to have lives like a lot of us.

Only we don’t get to have real magic in ours…

A Glimpse of the Coming Year: Not Ready to Come Out Alone

Last night my Dragon was being naughty, doing things it shouldn’t do like using one word when I for sure said another, but when I swore it was able to replicate that perfectly.  Regardless, I wrote 1,234 words last night as I put the kids in their first minion class of the year and allowing Annie to remark on the new A Level from Ireland who has been making eyes at Kerry because–well, she’s a Ginger, he’s a Ginger, wouldn’t they like to make some Gingers, too?

It also gives Annie an opportunity to make a snarky remark about Kerry’s mom, which is more proof that Annie won’t be the perfect daughter-in-law Mama Malibey hopes for.

Last time we found out that the Guardians were not only thinking of sending the kids out on missions with others but that they were considering sending him out after that little change thing happened.  Well, Kerry has some thoughts on that…

 

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

 

Kerry clamped his right hand over his mouth, something he did when he was thinking quickly. “Can I say something?”

Helena gave a slight shrug. “Go ahead.”

“I don’t mind going on a field operation with other girls. I mean, by now—” He held up his hands to indicate the other people in the room. “Doing stuff with other girls is pretty much second nature to me. But I gotta do a field operation without Annie, I’d rather not do it as Girl Me. I probably won’t have had a lot of time to get use to being that way and I’m probably gonna feel a little self-conscious. Not to mention, doing all new stuff in a new body…” Kerry shook his head. “I’d spend a lot of my time feeling like I’m about to screw up. And that won’t be fair to everyone else on the team.”

Helena was about to offer a retort when Erywin spoke first. “I agree with Kerry.”

“What?” Helena swiveled her chair to the left. “Why would you say that?”

 

Since Kerry got an earfull about that witch’s brew called The Estrogens it’s likely he’s been giving some thought to how he’s gonna feel once the tap is wide open–and figures it might not handle things all too well.  After two years of hanging around girls who deal with hormonal issues on a daily basis it’s pretty much even money he thinks he might not be able to handle Deconstructors and hormones at the same time.

"I'm supposed to help bring you in--why is my BRA SO IRRITATING?  I'LL KILL YOU ALL!!!"

“I’m supposed to help you bring them in so I’ll stay in the back and watch…  Why is my bra SO IRRITATING? I’LL KILL THEM ALL!!!”

Yeah, might not be a good idea to have her out in the field.

And Erywin agrees.  Why?  Well–

 

“Because it’s true.” Erywin’s right eyebrow shot upward he saw the disbelieving gaze Helena was turning her way. “Do you want to hear, or would you like to disregard my opinion even though you asked me here as a counselor and advisor?”

Helena knew better then to argue with her longtime partner. “Please, let’s hear it.”

Erywin glanced toward Kerry. “We don’t know when his transition is going to occur, only that it’s going to occur sometime within the next six months. Even if it would happen tomorrow how many opportunities is he going to have to get used dealing with all the things that girls at his age will need to deal with? Maybe one or two times a month?” She brought a mischievous gaze to bear upon Helena. “Do you recall how moody you used to get when you were thirteen years old?”

“Slightly.” The right corner of Helena’s face screwed up in a frown. “I don’t remember being that bad.”

“That’s because one, you started going through puberty when you were about nine years old so you had a few years to adjust, and two, you’re full of shit.” Erywin chuckled. “You know goddamn well what you used to be like when you were a C Level, and it wasn’t always pleasant.

“One of the things Kerry’s going to have to learn to deal with are the new emotional and mental responses that come with being a teenage girl, and it’s not something he’s going to pick up in one or two turns through the new body. It could take months for him to get reasonably acclimated—” Erywin gripped both armrest as she settled back into her chair.  “Considering it takes some girls years to get acclimated within that timeline is not entirely out of the question.

“I’ve heard you say on many occasions that you often have to think of your duty to the group before you think of your duty to yourself.” Erywin twirled a finger around in her hair and stared at Kerry. “He knows if he goes out as a girl and she is not fully prepared for the internal onslaught she is going to deal with on top of whatever other shit she’s dealing with externally, that could put everyone in danger. And we don’t want that.”

 

Erywin is about the only person at school who can call Helena on her bullshit and not get death glares in the aftermath of the exchange.  And if there is anyone who knows exactly what a hormonal thirteen year old Helena was like, it was an equally hormonal fourteen year old Erywin, and she knows the girl was a tattooed hell-beast at times.  You can bet these two were a real party at times.

But Erywin is right:  Kerry might not be ready to mix estradiol and death spells right away and it might be best to keep Girl Me, as he says, out of the field for a while.  Even Helena begins to see the light:

 

Hum.” Helena scratched the bridge of her nose as she considered Erywin’s statements. “How about this: we put through the recommendation, based upon what you just told me, that Kerry not be allowed to go out to the group mission as a girl for a period of one year after his first transition? That way, if they do want him for a group mission, he goes as a boy.”

Erywin gave the matter some consideration. “That would work.” She suddenly remembered something else. “If nothing else Kerry could always invoke a Right of Refusal if they try to force him into switching genders for a mission.”

Kerry began laughing. “Yeah, what are they going to do? How would they make me change if I didn’t want to?”

Helena slowly turned and regarded the boy carefully. “They have ways.” She slid back up right in her chair and stretched. “I’m also going to include in the assessment that the

Guardians have to specify which gender they wish Kerry to present when informing him of a mission. That way—” She held out her arms and shrugged. “It makes giving a Right of Refusal easier.”

Erywin nodded. “Agreed.”

“I like that, too.” Only a moment passed before Kerry appeared slightly dejected. “Though it kinda sounds like I’m getting a lot of special treatment.”

Annie saw the glances Helena and Erywin exchange and felt it best to say something. “Kerry’s medical exam yesterday showed his estrogens count is higher than normal. It could affect his moods.” She gripped his hand. “I’m sorry, my love, but they need to know everything.”

He looked up rather sheepishly. “I’ll try not to let that happen too much; I don’t want people to think they can’t count on me.”

 

Now things are straight, or at least gonna get there, and Kerry can move one thing off his “I gotta worry about this” plate.  As I said before, Kerry’s got people looking out for me and he’s actually looking out for people he hasn’t met yet.  It’s a good think the Guardians have their eyes on Annie and him, because the other divisions in The Foundation would probably like them as well.

And how does this all end?  You find out tomorrow.

A Glimpse of the Coming Year: Reporting as Ordered

After such a long time I’m finally rolling into Chapter Eight.  It seemed like a good time to get into it, given that I’ve been writing here for a while.

Looks pretty nice, doesn't it?

Looks pretty nice, doesn’t it?

As you can see I’m about eight thousand words ahead of where this excerpt is starting, so I have plenty of stuff to put out before you catch up to where I’m at now–by which time I’ll have moved on to Chapter Nine.  And even though I didn’t write a lot last night–I only managed a bit over three hundred because I started writing late and had reached the point where if I continued writing I have been up until midnight–I’ll probably make up for that tonight and Saturday.  Or at least I’ll try.  Good life doesn’t always turn out the way we wanted to turn out.

Now, I said a while ago that Chapter Eight is where we actually start seeing the kids get the class, but I lied.  Actually, they are sort of in class, but they’re not.  As we start getting into the excerpt of the beginning of the first scene, you’ll see what I mean–

 

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

 

With the sky overcast and the temperatures in the low 20s Celsius Annie and Kerry decided to walk to the Witch House. They talked about it over breakfast and decided that while the weather was still good they should take every opportunity to enjoy the still warm temps: it wasn’t because they were worried about why they were reporting to the Witch House at nine—

The emails requesting their presence were sent out late in the evening and both children noticed some on their computer terminals when they awoke. There was no need to question why Helena Lovecraft needed to see them so early: as had happened the year before, both children figured they were going to hear about any possible Guardian-related activities with which they may be involved.

They didn’t even find it unusual that the message consisted of nothing but an order to report to the building at nine. After a year and a half of scrutiny by The Foundation’s intelligence gathering division, they’d come to believe that most of the discussions relating to Guardian activities would be done in a secure location.

And there were a few places at the school more secure than the Witch House.

Kerry closed the main entrance as Annie headed directly for Helena’s office. She looked inside and shook her head as Kerry approached; she wasn’t there. Both children headed directly for the stairs leading to the lower level, for if the Head Sorceress was in her ground-floor office, she was certainly in her more secure, lower level office, and in the dimness of the lower levels she saw the light coming from there with ease.

Annie gave a brief knock on the door frame before walking right in. “I should’ve known you were here from the beginning.”

Helena shrugged and leaned back in her leather chair. “Next time don’t have to wonder.”

Kerry was right behind Annie and he waved the door close as he greeted the other person in the room. “Are you always involved in this now?”

Erywin leaned against the left arm of her chair and crossed her legs. “I’m here more as an adviser, but since I’ve been involved with you in this agency since you became involved, it only makes sense I continue onward.”

 

Just like the year before it’s time for a little Guardian Gathering, and the Magical Four are doing their talking in the Lair of the Dark Sorceress.  However, they aren’t ready to get into the whole “Let’s discuss these orders” thing just yet:

 

Helena flipped her left hand towards the door, activating the security enchantment. “You both have a good time last night?”

Annie smiled as she crossed her arms. “Are you checking up on us now?”

“No, I’m not. It’s just…” Helena turned slightly in her chair and stared at Erywin.

Erywin cleared her throat. “It’s my understanding that you were both seen disappearing into the lower levels of the Great Hall around nineteen and no one saw you for the rest of the evening.”

Kerry tried to seem unconcerned. “We didn’t do anything wrong, did we?”

“As Helena said, not at all.” The Formulistic Magic instructor began drawing small circles on her chair arm with a fingernail. “I just assumed you headed off to your hidey hole for a few hours to get reacquainted.” She was smiling when she raised her head. “I would’ve thought you’d gotten enough of that in Paris.”

Annie and Kerry exchange sideways glances before Annie spoke. “And do all the instructors who matter know about that as well?”

Helena leaned a little further back in her chair. “Pretty much. And you have to understand that none of them really give a shite what you’re doing. As long as your extracurricular activities don’t interfere with your schooling, you can snog down there all day and night as far as anyone is concerned.” She sat up in her chair. “Ready to get started?”

Kerry was eager to do anything that didn’t involve discussing his personal life or his private affairs with his wife-to-be. “Sure thing.”

“Right that.” Helena touched her computer monitor screen twice, using the touch functions to retrieve data. “I received this yesterday around sixteen hours, which means San Francisco send it off just after lunch their time.” She cause for a moment to allow the suspense to build. “There is an excellent likelihood both of you will be assigned to a field operation at least once during the school year. They’re not giving a timetable, but reading between the lines of their message, I’m guessing whatever they have in mind will happen in 2014.”

 

Well, I guess the Private Universe isn’t as private as the Lovely Dovey Couple thought.  Just as with the instructors being aware of their off-site cohabiting, their home away from home isn’t exactly a secret, either.  This doesn’t mean that they know where this hiding place is located, but it’s known.  So how long before someone busts in on them?  It’ll probably be students and they better hope they don’t make anyone mad…

And here is the first conformation:  the Guardians are going to use the kids for something.  And since it looks like it won’t happen until after the Yule holiday, the kids have plenty of time to get ready.

However, there is a twist…

One Death Down

Happy Christmas Eve, or as the old people used to call it, Mōdraniht, which was a night where women were honored and perhaps even had a celebration or two to thank those around them for the consideration they had to push all those little love goblins out of their bellies and into the air.  Of course The Church banned it, because it was some old pagan hoohaw that they simply could not abide by, so we hear stories now about how a sacrifice or two were made at night to appease the Matres and Matronae, who were protective female deities.

So if you’re looking to have kids, say something nice to the Matres and Matronae, and who knows what will happen next.  Yeah?

Slowly this long scene is starting to take place, and trust me, it is a long scene.  But given that I’m averaging about five hundred words a night, it’s taking it’s time getting out.

Four days, two thousand words, you do the math.

Four days, two thousand words, you do the math.

There were no reasons for writing only six hundred and forty words beyond being tired as all hell and fighting to stay awake after I got home from having dinner.  It really was a whole lot of that, and even after I woke up it took a lot of effort to get out of the chair and want to sit and do something.

But I did get up and pen–can you say “pen” if you’re writing into a computer?–Helena’s first real brush, not with death, but with dying.  And it’s a good one.

 

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

She rubbed her hands. “Right: death. You wanted to know, so here you are. I’ve died twice. The first time happened back in June ‘96. I was part of a six-member group on an operation down around Cartagena, looking into rumors that the Deconstructors were using the same rail line as the Mina el Cerrejón to move goods from the north flanks of the Sierra Nevada De Santa Marta to Puerto Bolivar and back. We figured the transports were taking place near the main plant outside Albania, but we weren’t going to find out unless we did a little snooping around.

“I wasn’t in charge of the group; I wasn’t even the second in command. I was just one of the grunts put there to back up the women running the show. She wasn’t that bad, but this was the second major field op she’s commanded, and she acted at times like she had no bloody idea what to do when we were out and about. Needless to say, I wasn’t getting warm feelings in the pit of my stomach when we started venturing out into the wilds of Columbia.

 

The area Helena is talking about is here:

I love that Goggle Maps can take you anywhere!

I love that Goggle Maps can take you anywhere!

Mina el Cerrejón are those gray areas in the lower left of the picture, around Albania, Hatonuevo, and Papayal.  Those areas are huge open pit coal mines, operating in northeastern Columbia, right on the border with Valenzuela and far away from where most people live.  And the straight road that goes north all the way to the ocean?  That parallels a private rail line that is used to ship the coal to a huge port at Puerto Bolivar, which happens to be one of the largest ports in all of South America.

I actually researched this while writing.  I knew I was going to have her “hit the shite” somewhere in Columbia, and while they started in Cartagena, the ended up getting tagged about half way between that city and the view above.

And she remembers most everything–

 

“Day three, and we’re roaming about south of Río Ancho, and all day I’ve got the feeling we’re gonna hit the shite hard. I’m telling the leader what I think, but she’s telling me to piss off, ‘cause she feels everything is status quo. After the third warning I decide to go at the problem sideways and start hitting up the second-in-command, but just as about to tell her what I think—bam! Her head explodes, there’s blood all over me. She’s down, fifteen seconds later another member goes down, and it’s on.

“You know how this sort of thing goes, ‘cause you been in a fight like this. Spells are flying everywhere, and it’s us or them. Deconstructors are everywhere, and I take out three in about a minute.

I’m setting up to take out a forth, and suddenly there’s the bright flash . . .” Helena’s demeanor turned wistful as she sat back. “Next thing you know I’ve got lights in my eyes and people looking over me. Found out later that we managed to zap all the bad guys, but one other person got smashed in the process—and some bastard got in behind me and hit me hard enough to get their spell through my shields even though it killed them in the process. He hit me hard with an Electrify, which is why I saw the flash.

“The two survivors scoops up me and the last person killed, and jaunted us off to the regional HQ in Valencia, Venezuela, and got us right into the hospital. They were able to revive the other woman right away, but me?” She shook her head. “I was dead for six minutes, not that I knew. For me I just went from flash to flash: as far as I was concerned no time at all passed.”

Helena swiveled her chair back and forth a couple of time. “That was the first time; really, not that big of a thing. Second time I died . . .” She pressed her face against her fist. “That was a lot different.”

 

Really?  How different?

 

Just the way Helena’s mood changed up told Kerry that there was definitely a great deal more to this next story. “How so? What were you doing?”

“I was in charge of security for a large meeting of various Foundation supervisors.” She drew in a slow breath as she stared at the surface of her desk. “Things went—bad.”

Kerry kept his tone as soft as possible. “Did Deconstructors attack you?”

“You could say that—” She looked up. “The meeting was in the north tower of the World Trade Center.” Her snort was almost impossible to hear. “You need a date?”

He shook his head. “No.”

 

Of course Kerry doesn’t need a date, because he instinctively knows where this is going, and so do the readers, because it was just about a year ago–26 December, 2014, actually–that I wrote about how Helena was maimed during the attacks on the WTC.  And now, it seems, we’re going to discover that something a lot worse happened to her as well, because she’s here to talk about how she died–

And in talking about death, we’re going to learn a whole lot more.

Slipping On the Beyond

Coldageddon marches on, though last night it seems as if my level of exhaustion was greater than what I needed to cough out of my lungs, because I was asleep after about ten minutes and I didn’t wake up until about an hour ago.  I’m really hoping to cough all this crap out of my lungs today and sort of dry like real quick, because one night of good sleep every three or four days is already old.

Even thought I finished Chapter Twenty-Three with a near eight hundred word burst yesterday morning, I sat down for a little last night an put in another five hundred thirty to get Chapter Twenty-Four going.  It was a good way to get what it probably going to be one of the strangest chapters I’ve ever written for any of these books, and that’s saying something.  Why do I say that?  Because I do.  You gotta trust me on this one.

This chapter starts out with kindly Professor Lovecraft, and we get a bit of an insight into how she starts her mornings at the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning:

 

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

Helena liked getting into her Witch House office early so she could get out early. She’d gotten into that habit during the days when she was running Guardian operations around the world and she needed to deal with business from the higher ups before getting into her day-to-day stuff. During the times she taught while still on active field duty getting up early and checking emails became more fundamental, as most of the people with whom she dealt operated out of Europe, giving them a five or six hour start on their day.

Though her actual field operative time was likely coming to an end, that didn’t mean the Guardians couldn’t find things for her to do. These days she was often called upon to consult on operations, to review upcoming operations, and to simply give opinions. These days she was reviewed ops from around the world, though most of what she saw originated in Amsterdam and San Francisco.

She came in early, usually before seven. She reviewed her email, read reports and offered assessments. Some of the names on the operation reports she recognized as they were Guardians she knew well, having performed in past operations with them and even developing a friendship with some over time. But there were more names that vanished from her sight, and Helena took this to mean those people had either moved up into office or teaching positions, or they were no longer in the physical plane of existence. Given what Helena knew of the operations those people had taken, the fact that she didn’t see their names any longer didn’t surprise her in the least.

No matter how much email she received there were two names that were important. She filtered her incoming mail so that any mention of those names in the header, body, or even in attachments, were moved to a special folder. There wasn’t any need to check that folder every morning, for alerts popped up on her mobile every time an email hit that folder. Those alerts were infrequent this year, and save for the flurry of emails that happened around the start of puppet training, had been quiet for most of the last month.

Helena hoped it stayed that way—just as she’d been promised at the start of the school year.

 

Just in case you were wondering, Helena does have  a special “A an K” folder set up for email inbound from the Guardians.  Yes, they are interested in these two, because if Helena has a special folder set up with scanning filters that look for their names, then she must get enough that she doesn’t want theirs to get lost in the rest of the weekly emails.  Imagine she if got owls.  “You, drop that one into that pile, you bloody bird.”  No, Helena would be zappin’ birds left and right:  she couldn’t put up with that craziness.

And then something happens that has never happened before:  she gets a visitor.  Oh, but you say, she gets visitors all the time.  Well, just look:

 

She was in the process of leaving the office and heading off to Mórrígan Coven tower for an early brunch with Erywin where there was a knock. She looked up and found the owner of one of the names that sent email into her special folder standing in her door frame—only it wasn’t the one she’d normally expect.

“Well, now.” She glanced up for just a moment, then looked down again to hide the grin on her face. “You’re not in morning flight class.”

“No, I’m not.” Kerry unzipped his heavy winter coat and stuffed his winter hat in one of the pockets. “Isis and Annie are going over some things relating to her solo flight next week, and they told me it wasn’t necessary for me to stick around.”

“So you came here.”

For a second he appeared embarrassed. “Yeah.” He quickly regained his composure. “Do you have a few minutes?”

 

Now we have Kerry coming to see Helena, and she’ll make an observation at the start of the next scene that I’m sure a few of you are now making.  Really, though:  it’s not what you’re thinking.  But this is a good start to what’s coming . . .

Which, as promised, seems to involve a lot of flying.

Which, as promised, seems to involve a lot of flying.

Pulling the Threads Together

I am not going to lie:  I’m dragging this morning.  I was out late last night–something I almost never do–and while there was food and talk, alcohol was involved, which means I was up early and it’s catching up to me this morning.  Like I’ve been caught falling asleep at my computer, and when I get home after making the post I’m probably going to take a nap.

Needless to say, this affects my writing, because it’s hard to write about witchy things when your eyes are closing against your will.  And while I wrote just over seven hundred words–so far–it’s been a struggle.  Maybe there’s a way to fix this . . .

"Other writers say their characters write their novels--okay, time to put my guys to work."

“Other writers say their characters write their novels–okay, time to put my guys to work.”

Ah, if only it were that easy.

Anyway, there’s always writing to do in the afternoon, and it was nice to break up the routine and do something besides sit around the apartment all day.  And after this week, it was a good cap.  I just need to get through this day.

And wouldn’t you know it:  so do my kids.  Now, they’re not tired, but there are things they need to do this day after the start of the Polar Express.  But first, we start with someone else . . .

 

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

It was rare that Helena Lovecraft came out to The Witch House early on Friday morning with the intention of conducting school business. If there were issues that required working out, she usually handled those throughout the week, and if it became necessary to deal with a in-school situation on the weekend—which almost meant Friday in her case—she dealt with that situation in her first floor office in the Great Hall’s East Transept.

Most of Helena’s interactions with her sorcery students was usually conducted from Monday to Thursday: there usually wasn’t any need for special sessions or counseling where her students were concerned because it often wasn’t required. Those who had learning difficulties often came to tell her they believed The Sorceress’ Life wasn’t theirs and they could leave at any time—and those who presented disciplinary problems were immediately sat down and told to change their attitude and get their shit together, or they were history.

There were, too, those students who found themselves slightly traumatized by events that occurred in class, and when that happened Helena turned them over to Coraline, Deanna, or Erywin, because seeing to the mental well-being of the students were also among their duties. There weren’t many times when she could actually sit someone down and explain to the student that what they considered disturbing she considered a normal part of here life, and even fewer were the times when she made them understand.

There was another type of business she conducted at the school, however, and while it wasn’t the sort of business related directly to the students or the staff, it happened—albeit with little fanfare. And it was the one business that always conducted at The Witch House no matter the day or time—

She heard footsteps in the hallway outside her office and expected to have visitors at any second, and the moment her guests appeared in the doorway she waved a greeting. “Come on in.” Helena waved the door close as soon as Annie and Kerry were inside.  “Did I take you away from breakfast?”

Annie shook her head.  “We were in the Dining Hall at eight, so we were finishing up when we were given your message.

“Didn’t take you long to get here—”

“We flew.” Annie didn’t wait to be offered a chair and sat. “How are you?”

“I’m fine.” Helena turned to her other guest. “How you doin’, Kerry?”

“I’m doin’ okay.” He sat next to Annie, on her right as always. “What’s up?”

 

It’s probably a good thing Helena doesn’t counsel students:  I mean, could you see her dealing with students who were, oh, say given electrical shocks by their instructor during class?  Oh, wait:  we did see that.  She’s probably pretty good with those students in The Sorceress’ Life, which we know Annie and Kerry have chosen–it didn’t choose them.  Or maybe it did–that’s a question to ponder at a later date.

So, as Vicky would say, What’s the Story, Morning Glory?

 

“Oh, the same old same old.” She pulled out a document on her tablet that she’d already read three times since last night. “It seems our friends in San Francisco have decided they want to start the new year off right.”

Oh, isn’t that nice?  The kids have friends out on the West Coast!  Maybe it’s Kerry’s grandparents?  Um . . . you already know who it is–

 

The children exchanged looks; there wasn’t any need to elaborate upon who had sent a message to Helena. Annie recovered first. “Are the Guardians sending us out on a field operation?”

“I thought they weren’t going to do that this year.” Kerry didn’t appear worried, though both kids seemed a touch concerned. “Right?”

“Right. And to answer your questions—” Helena pointed at Annie then Kerry. “No for you and yes for you. The Guardians aren’t sending out into the field, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things they can request that will further you, um, specialized education here.” She lightly drummed her desk top with her fingers. “I need you both to report to The Manor at thirteen-thirty today; given the Polar Express started last night, I know neither of you have anything going on today.”

When it became obvious Helena wasn’t going to elaborate, Annie spoke up. “What’s at The Manor?”

“Ramona for one; she’s gonna help us out on this one.  She’s going to fit you for marionette rigs.”

While Annie didn’t appear too unaware, Kerry seemed perplexed. “What are those?”

The right corner of Helena’s mouth curled upward. “The Guardians, in their infinite wisdom, have decided they want to see if you can puppeteer.”

Annie actually appeared incredulous for a moment. “They want us to puppeteer?”

Kerry glanced from his girlfriend to the head sorceress. “What’s this puppeteer stuff?”

 

Yes, Helena:  what is this puppeteer stuff?  Well, The Mistress of All Things Dark isn’t able to just yet say what it is, ’cause she’s tired as hell right now and needs to head home and catch up on her beauty sleep.  I assure you, however, you’ll gonna find out what this stuff is all about.

Because I’m sure my kids are eager to find out as well.

Talking Around the Shadows

Maybe it was something in the water; maybe it was something the air.  Maybe I could feel it coming in the night.  Maybe I’m stuck in a Phil Collins song that got heavy rotation after Miami Vice.  Whatever it was, it was like being back in NaNo Land, because I was on last night.  Extremely on.  Like I wrote two thousand, four hundred, and seventy-nine words in two different location over the course of about three hours on.

It may be a rambling mess, but it’s my mess, and I did it all on my own.

It also could have been because of something else that happened, but I’m keeping that a surprise until the end . . .

 

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

Annie and Kerry exchanged a quick glance. The knew the name well: Tanith Granstrom had been the object of a field operation everyone in the room had conducted for the Guardians in April of this year. It had been Annie’s and Kerry’s job to keep and eye on Tanith and, when the time was right, explain that she was no Normal person but was instead a witch on cusp of becoming Aware.

It was while Annie and Kerry were showing Tanith that they really were witches that they and Erywin, who was monitoring them from a distance, received an abort call from Helena, and soon found themselves engaged in a short but nasty fight with three Deconstructors who did their best to kill them, and were killed instead. Annie and Kerry was taken away to the CDC in Atlanta for treatment, and ended back at Salem a few hours later, while Tanith and her father Kaden were taken into Guardian protection.

During the Guardian debriefing that came a few days after the operation, it was explained to the children that Tanith would likely be “made to forget” what happened to her and her father during the operation, and while it wasn’t known at the time if she would ever come to Salem to receive schooling, but if she did, they’d never be allowed to discuss what happened to them that day in Kansas City—

There was no more wondering now: she would soon become a member of the student body.

 

Believe it or not, those four paragraphs took me about half an hour to write.  And the first one took about fifteen minutes and five tries to get it right.  Seriously, sometimes just finding the right words to start a transition is the hardest thing in the world.  And I know a little something about transitions, right?

Now let’s get the lowdown on the arrival.

 

Annie folded her hands and began rubbing the tips of her index fingers together. “When will she arrive?”

Helena tapped the display on her tablet. “Everything is on schedule right now. The Oceanic, East and Central Asian kids will arrive between eleven and twelve-thirty; the kids from the Americas will get here between fourteen-thirty and sixteen hours; and, as you know from experience, the Euro, African, and Western Asia kids will arrive between nineteen-thirty and twenty-one hours.” She pushed the tablet aside. “She’s arriving with the kids from North and South America, which should tell you something about where she was relocated.”

Kerry leaned forward a little. “She’s not coming under her old name, is she?”

“No. Her new name—which I’m sure you’d discover on your own eventually—is Kristiane Schoyer. From what I was told she didn’t change her appearance, but as part of her new identity the Guardians changed her birth certificate so she’ll fit in with the other eleven year old A Levels.”

Kerry glanced at Annie and Erywin before turning back to Helena. “Okay.”

Annie didn’t find that surprising: if the Guardians wanted her to blend in with other new students, rather than come up with a convoluted story about how she became Aware late—which is what drew in the attention of both The Foundation and the Deconstructors in the first place—they’d fix her legal age. Which means they likely did something to ensure she didn’t remember her real age— She addressed Helena. “What would you like us to know? Besides her coming here.”

 

For one, we now know when various A Levels show up at school, and what Tanith’s new name is–I mean, Kristiane’s.  That one little line is gonna come back at the end with great importance.  Just wait . . .

Helena was asked, and Helena answers:

 

Helena stood and came around to the front of the desk. She didn’t like sitting behind one when she spoke: it made her feel like she was hiding. She sat back against the top and kept her focus on the children before her. “I’ve already briefed Erywin on this, because she’ll have immediate contact with—Kristiane—once classes start—sooner if she is placed in her coven.” She folded her hands before her. “You’re not to attempt contact with her once she’s arrived. That shouldn’t be too hard with her being an A Level: she’s in the Fishbowl, and you’re both in the Pond for real now. The only time you should have contact with her is when it happens in the course of a normal day—like passing her in the Dining Hall, or on the grounds, or any number of venues here. If she approaches you for anything, the chances are she’s looking for information, or she’s asking a question, or she needs help with a lab. That’s stuff is normal, and in those instances you treat her like you would any other student.”

Helena glanced off to one side for a moment. “She doesn’t remember you or Erywin: the Guardians made certain of that. Otherwise they couldn’t risk letting her come here.”

Kerry quickly figured out the implications of the sorceress’ last statement. “Does she remember anything from her old life?”

“No. Her father and mother, yes, but everything else—living in Albuquerque; Kansas City; the event with the Deconstructors and being taken away to Atlanta—none of that remains. She’s been given not only a new identity, but a whole set of memories to go with that identity. The Guardian people who work on these things are good at their jobs, and they would make certain nothing remains of her old memories.”

Though she didn’t let the feeling show, Annie felt somewhat sad about this turn of events. She’d read about some of the things that these memory specialist could do, but she’d never realized, until now, how details these operations could become. “So even if we tried to tell her that we saved her life—”

“She’d think you were talking shite at her.” Helena gave Annie a piercing stare. “Not that you’d do anything that foolish—right?

“No—” She shook her head. “That would be a stupid thing to do.” Annie kept her breathing slow and controlled. “I’d expose myself if I did that.”

A slight smile played along Helena’s lips. “I like that thinking.”

 

Of course she likes your thinking, Annie:  that’s why you her favorite.  Annie is thinking like a Guardian:  don’t do stupid things that would give you away.  Walking up to Kristiane and saying, “Hey, remember me?  I saved your ass back in Kansas City,” would get you instantly branded as a crazy loser and someone who is way too dangerous to place back out in the field once again.  And that’s not Annie–or Kerry, as we’ll see.  And leave it to him to notice something . . .

 

Kerry agreed with Annie—he would never do anything as foolish as go up to Tani—no, Kristiane now—and try to get her to remember him, but there was something Helena said that caught his interest. “What do you mean by she could ask for help with a lab?”

Helena cleared her throat as she turned towards Erywin. “You want this one?”

The coven leader moved around in her chair so she could face her younger friends. “I have it on good authority that since you both have a bit of ‘free time’ during the day, you may get pulled in by a few instructors for minion duty.” She chuckled. “I know Wednesday is interested in having you help out in her regular B Level class, and I might ask you pop in for my A or B Level class—”

“Except on those days I might want you for A Level Sorcery.” Helena glanced from Annie to Kerry. “Once we start getting further into the year I wouldn’t mind having either of you help out. Annie, while you are the—” The right corner of Helena’s mouth curled upward. “—Dark Witch of this group, Kerry’s not far behind. And with you teaching him a little extra on the side—”

“He’ll become much better.” She looked to him, nodding. “I agree. And I’d be happy to help out.”

Kerry grinned. “So would I.”

“And just between us in the room—” Erywin automatically glanced towards the door as if she expected someone to enter. “Wednesday and Jessica are both asking about getting you out of normal classes so you could come and help out in a few of their classes.”

“That’s really . . .” Kerry found it hard to arrange his thought so he could explain what he was feeling. “I didn’t realize we were that much in demand.”

“This goes back to when you were invited into the advanced classes.” Erywin took a second to stretch her arm. “Even then the instructors were thinking about using you for minion work.”

Helena wiggled the finger of her right hand in time to an unheard beat. “Which means the instructors who’d like your assistance are doing so because they know you’re able to do the work. And Jessica’s one of those instructors—” She shook her head. “She never asks for minions. That should tell you all you need to know.”

 

You gotta wonder when these kids are gonna find time to snog.  Well, don’t wonder too long, because they’ll find time.  Still, it looks as if they’re being given a lot to do.  Regular classes, advanced classes, and now they’ve being asked to become lab minions from time to time.  And they have to teach each other what they’re learning in their advanced studies:  Kerry for Advanced Transformation, Annie for what she’s picking up on sorcery in the Black Vault.  Is there such a thing as burn-out at thirteen?  Maybe the school is conducting an experiment.  Or . . . maybe it’s a certain Guardian?  We’ll see, won’t we?

 

Helena stood and stepped away from her desk. “That’s all I have to say. I’ll let the proper authorities know we’ve had this discussion, and there shouldn’t be any need to bring this up again.” She cocked her head slightly to the right as the tone of her voice turned a touch darker. “At least I hope it doesn’t become necessary to bring this up again.”

Both children shook their heads, with Annie speaking for them both. “That won’t happen, Helena.”

“No, I don’t believe it will.”

Erywin stood at the same time as the children. “Just so you know—”

Kerry spoke first. “Yes?”

“The A Levels tend to stay inside either the Great Hall or the Pentagram Gardens after their E and As. It’s never been confirmed, but we believe The Phoenix does something to the student so they’re not wandering about the grounds for most of the day.” Erywin took a step towards them. “Holoč would have told you, but since we’re together now—”

He smiled softly. “Yeah.”

“You’ll see more than a few of them lounging in the Dining Hall when you’re eating; we’ll have a few sofas and chairs laid out for them.”

Helena chuckled. “We wouldn’t want them to go without resting all day.”

Erywin stood next to her partner. “While you’re inside the Pentagram grounds, don’t use any magic; we have to keep up the charade, remember?”

“We remember.” That made Annie wonder. “So that happened to us as well?”

“Yeah, it did.” Helena crossed her arms. “It’s a little unusual that you didn’t go off to eat with the other students, though.”

Annie didn’t see why that was strange. “I wasn’t feeling well, so we went to the hospital.”

“Yeah, but you did it on your own. Whenever Isis sends someone to the hospital, it’s usually for something along the lines of severe shock, or disorientation brought on by a concussion—”

Erywin joined in listing issues. “Maybe bleeding from the ears.”

Helena nodded. “Or a broken arm.”

“Or leg.”

“Or a fractured skull—”

“I see.” Annie frowned. “What you’re saying is not many go to the hospital because of an upset stomach and spinning head.”

The two instructors looked knowingly at each other before Helena replied. “Something like that, yeah.” She nodded towards the door, making it unlock. “Okay, you two: go out and do some wandering. We’ll see you later.”

 

So what you are saying, Helena, is that Annie and Kerry shouldn’t have ventured to the hospital, not with the maladies they had?  Interesting.  Is this some doing of The Phoenix?  Don’t know.  We may never know.  She’s a strange bird, you know.  It also sounds–from the injuries rattled off–that she likes to do a bit of the ol’ ultra-violence now and then.  It sounds like all she did to these two was scare the shit out of them.

It’s time to go and have fun, but you know Kerry the Killjoy:  he’s gotta wanna analyse everything.  This is no exception . . .

 

Once outside the office Annie began walking towards the stairs, but Kerry stopped her before she could go upstairs. “Would it be okay if we took the tunnels?” He glanced over his shoulder. “Maybe head up to Perquat’s Grove?”

Based upon Kerry’s body language, Annie suspected there was something he wanted—and it didn’t necessarily lay at the location where they spoke to Erywin, and Kerry learned of Annie’s long desire to marry him. “I would love that.” She joined him, taking his arm. “It should be beautiful today.”

They found the main tunnel leading north to the Polar Portal, the classrooms under the Observatory, and the cross-tunnel leading from the Firing Line and the portal leading up to Perquat’s Grove. The only time they’d taken this route was during the winter when there was too much snow on the main path to the Observatory; during this time of year, when the weather was beautiful and warm, the only people taking this route were those looking for privacy—usually with the intention of finding some intimacy, but sometimes all they needed was an opportunity to talk . . .

They’d walked about a hundred meters before Annie decided to give him a chance to open up and speak. She understood his moods, and when he had something on his mind, he often needed to know it was okay to speak. “What are you thinking about, my love?”

That was all the opening he needed. “What we did in Helena’s office—”

“Yes?”

“Do the Guardians really think we’d, you know—” He looked around in case there was someone close by. “Screw up and talk to her?”

 

Annie is the rock in this relationship:  she is almost never rattled, and when she is, it’s only because of her Ginger Hair Boy.  Deconstructors hell-bent on killing her?  Screw that shit, she’s throwing down.  Kerry, on the other hand, is the sometimes quivering emotional center of the relationship, and he not only lets those feelings get to him, but he also overthinks a lot of things that don’t require overthinking.  And he’s doing that right now:  he’s smart enough to understand they needed to know this stuff, but still . . . it feels as if the Guardians were keeping them after class for a talking.

Not so, Bro.  Listen to your better half . . .

 

She said nothing for about fifteen seconds, letting Kerry’s curiosity build. “I’ve read a little on the history of the Guardians—”

Kerry chuckled. “I’m not surprised.”

“My parents had a book on it, but there were a couple in the Black Vault that went into far more details.” She slowed her pace until they were almost shuffling along the large, empty tunnel. “They’ve always collected intelligence, but it wasn’t until the Deconstructors started becoming a problem in, I think, the late 1950s, that they started becoming an offensive force. From what I read, they were almost like a specialized military force during that time.”

“Like the SAS?”

“Exactly like that—only they also continued to gather intelligence. It was a dangerous life, given that they also spent a great deal of time going into the areas that the Soviet Union and the Chinese controlled. Anyone who stayed alive for more than five years was usually moved to an office.

“Deconstructors were almost impossible to find back then. The Foundation used to say that they lived in the shadows, and that only the bravest women would venture in to find them. That’s how the Guardians earned the nickname, ‘The Shadow Walkers’: they’re still known as that today.”

She pulled Kerry to a slow stop. It was safe here; if there were any students close by, they were likely on the surface, unaware there was anyone below. “Helena told me before we went home that, as far as she knew, we were the youngest team the Guardians sent out on a field operation. She was a C Level, a few months past her fourteenth birthday, when she went out on hers, and she only knew of someone going out who was a few month younger than her when they went out. She said that as leery as she’d been about us going out, the Guardians wouldn’t have sent us out if they didn’t believe we could complete a mission.

“There was a reason Helena called us in today: she was under orders. She told us, without actually telling us, that the orders had come from high up the line of command. She told us—her new name, something we could have found out on our own, like she said—but she told us instead.”

She held Kerry’s left hand tightly within hers. “She wasn’t giving us a warning, my love: she was giving us a briefing. She told us about her arrival today, and as she said, she’d report back to the proper people that we’d received the briefing, and that we understood to proper actions to take should we encounter here.”

A slight grin formed. “We were given that briefing because we earned the right. Because we walked into the shadows—” Annie pulled Kerry close and hugged him tight. “—and we were good enough to return to the light.”

 

“We were good enough to return to the light.”  They were, and they did.  Both played their parts, and played them well, and if Kerry hadn’t been–ah, hem–overthinking his part, there’s wouldn’t have been a need for Annie of the Broken Arm to go all murder time on the second Deconstrutor.

But she gets it.  They were given a briefing not because they’re a couple of kids and then need a bit of schooling–it was because they earned the right to a follow-up.  Not a warning, but a head-up that they’re gonna see this girl, and here’s what you wanna know.

I guess you could say they’re part of the club now.

So here is the book . . .

Coming along nicely, I see.

Coming along nicely, I see.

And I rolled through thirty-one thousand last night, which means I’m less than nine thousand words from–yes, let’s say it–this being a true novel.  And that’s going to happen sometime in Chapter Five.  Maybe about the time the kids are Remembering Memory . . .

Now, for the surprise I promised.  It’s not writing related, and it’s probably not something one would look at and go, “Meh, so?”  But I have a friend who knows a little of my past, knows I’m trans, and doesn’t care about any of that because I have cool friends.  She’s been going on for a few days about how she’s going to tie the knot, so to speak, and she’s looking at venues and the like for a ceremony next fall.  She’s telling people it’ll be a small, intimate affair, and she’s not looking to have many people show up, and I let her know I will be there, don’t worry.  And that’s when she dropped the bomb on me in private chat–

She wants me to be her Maid of Honor.

I have been in weddings before.  I was even a Best Man once.  If you told me back in 1976 that in 2016 I’d be someone’s Maid of Honor, I’d have probably thought, “What do they know that I don’t?”  Now I’ve got to start planing, and looking at dresses and shoes, and I’ll likely need a new wig by that time.  And if it’s held in one spot I suggested, then we’ll have a spa there to get our mani/pedis before the ceremony, and our make overs, and all that stuff before we get into the dresses–

Yeah.  I’m just a little excited . . .

Walking Into the Shadows

Things are pretty much back to normal at the apartment these days.  The swelling is down considerably, though I still look a little puffy at the sides of the mouth.  That’ll go away by this weekend–just in time for me to do it all again.  It didn’t keep me from writing, but the nap and the need to run out and get a few things didn’t help.  Hey, that’s life:  it’s a pain in the ass some times.

However, I didn’t exactly burn up the keyboards last night.  Distraction was a major problem, and it always seems to come up when I’m working out the details of a scene.  The set-up is painful, but once I get the set-up, um, set-up, things tend to go quickly after that.  But getting there?  I’ve managed a little over a thousand words in two days, and the close to seven hundred I did last night was with my kicking my own ass to get into gear, ’cause I wasn’t feeling the love to do something creative.

Also, I, Robot was on, and I never miss a chance to beat down a bad movie.

The one thing I like about writing at this point is I’m back in the school, and there doesn’t need to be much time spent setting up the scenery.  If you’ve stuck with me these last two years, you know the school.  And so do I, since the last two novels I’ve written have both been about the School of Salem–my July 2013 Camp NaNo novel set up A For Advanced by showing what happened during The Scouring, so you get to see younger version of . . . well, just about everyone.  For the record, Erywin and Jessica had been teaching a while, Maddie and her husband David has been there a couple of years as had Mathias, and Ramona had just started that school year as the Self Defense/Weapons instructor.  Isis, Wednesday, and Deanna were students, and Coraline makes a cameo as she takes over in the hospital.  Oh, and you get to see, at the very end, Helena walk in and pretty much turn on the ice machine.

Here, in the novel year of 2012, things are so different, and yet, they’re still the same.  At least I remember it all.

Let’s get into the scene and, right off the bat, we meet the new kid:

 

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

The first unofficial day of school for returning students was starting out strange for the new B Levels from Cernunnos Coven. It didn’t begin that way, however: before getting out of the tower Annie and Kerry were introduced to the other new C Level, Jairo Ybarra, a Venezuelan of Mestizo ethnicity from the city of Turmero. He was tall, a good six centimeters more than Penny, and lanky, with jet black hair and deep brown eyes, and nervously friendly. Kerry thought the kid was almost embarrassed to greet them; he spoke to them, Annie in particular, using limited eye contact and a great deal of hesitancy when speaking. Annie told Kerry on the way to the Great Hall that Jario’s nervousness around them had her wondering if there were stories being passed around by the upper levelmates throughout the previous school year, and if so, what was said?

 

The new kid is from here, down in the left-bottom.  Hi, new kid!

The new kid is from here, down in the left-bottom. Hi, new kid!

Now we know everyone living on the second floor of the coven, and it’s still not a lot, but it’s better than having an entire floor to one’s self.  The interesting thing is that in the next novel Annie and Kerry will be the ones giving the glad hand to the new B Levels, and by that time they’ll be the old hands of the school.  Another interesting thing:  were people from B Levels up talking about Annie and Kerry?  It’s . . . possible.  After all, they were a pretty noticeable couple, and they did participate in the defense of the school, and they were rewarded for that effort.  Also . . . will anyone ever ask about how it came to be that Annie went home one weekend for a “family emergency” and Kerry went to New York for “testing”, and when they returned to the school they both needed to spend the night in the hospital?  Hummm . . . probably not.  Mostly because they’ll remember that Helena and Erywin were away that weekend as well–both for “business reasons”–and they came back about the same time . . .

Naw.  Who wants to open that can of worms?

Speaking of Helena . . .

 

The walk to the Witch House seemed to go faster than both children anticipated; Annie felt it was their being back in familiar territory once more—and being there together—put them in the right frame of mind. Kerry felt that it helped they were on their own, the same team who’d left Salem together at the start of summer, a year older and ready to get tested in ways never seen before.

Annie always loved that Kerry thought of them as partners, a couple who worked together. She liked the idea of “couples” more than “partners”, but she was wise enough to realize that successful couples were also great partners—and if they were both going to be fantastic sorceresses—the Dark Witch to each other—and possible Guardians, they needed to work together seamlessly as a team.

They arrived at the seemingly-set-in-perpetual-gloom Witch House and entered. Annie tested the door to Helena’s ground floor office and found it locked. She nodded towards the stairs. “She’s in the office below.” Annie had suspected they would find her there, because if the Head Sorceress was calling them out to the Witch House at eight, then she wanted to discuss something important.

And anything being discussed in the Witch House that was important would happen in Helena’s office in the lower level.

The door to the office was open. Annie stopped in the open doorway and smiled as Kerry stood close behind. “You wanted to see us?”

Helena Lovecraft, the Head Sorceress of Salem, the Mistress of All Things Dark, and the semi-official liaison to the Guardians, motioned for the students to enter. “You two, come on in.” She stood away from her desk as Erywin, who was also there, came over to join here. “Right on time, as expected.”

 

Annie loves her Dark Witch, her partner in crime and love.  And that’s possible Guardians with a “s”:  she’s believing that they’ll work as a team, and go to the Big G as a team.  Time will tell.

Back in the office . . .

 

Erywin moved towards Kerry, her arms spread wide. “Come here, young man.” He didn’t hesitate to let the instructor hug him, and he hugged her back as hard as he could. “The rest of the summer turn out well?”

Kerry nodded as he stepped back. “Yeah.” He turned to Annie, smiling. “Especially the last week.”

“I’m certain of that.” Erywin turned to Annie, who was smiling back at her. “Hug? Or should we just shake hands?”

“I think—” She embrace Erywin. “—a hug is in order. Thank you for the lunch date.”

“You’re so welcome.” Erywin released the girl. “Anything for our favorite students.”

Helena stood looking somewhat forlorn. “And what about me?” She frowned at Annie. “No hugs from my favorite student?”

 

Wait–what is all this hugging?  Erywin and Kerry I can see–it would appear that they get along and understand each other well, and in time, this relationship will grow.  But now Annie’s getting hugs and . . . complements from the Mistress of All Things Dark?  How many times before does anyone thing Helena has called someone “her favorite student”?  Show of hands?

 

Annie hesitated for a couple of seconds because she’d never heard such an admission from Helena. The woman has spent most of last year being cold and hard nearly every waking moment—and yet, Annie saw the facade drop a few times, like the time Helena showed her how to create and control shadow ribbons. At that moment she hadn’t been a teacher: she’d been a friend.

She stepped up and wrapped her arms around Helena. “You get a hug.”

“I was starting to wonder—” She turned her attention to Kerry when she was finished with Annie, and presented him with a warm embrace. As soon as she was finished with their greetings, she pointed to the chairs facing her desk. “You guys wanna take a seat?” Annie took the middle chair of three in the room; Kerry sat to her right and Erywin to her left.

Helena retreated to her chair behind her desk. “You’re here because last night I received a Guardian directive from San Francisco that was counter-signed by Amsterdam and Paris.” She was aware there wasn’t a need to elaborate: by now everyone in the room knew the locations of the Guardians North American and World Wide headquarters, as well as the overall headquarters of The Foundation. “Tanith will arrive at school this afternoon.”

 

And there’s the real deal that will come tonight:  Tanith, she of the Kansas City Field Operation, is coming to school, and when you’re getting directives shot at you from three top headquarters in The Foundation, you have to sit up and take notice.  This is also a bit more evidence that the kids are sort of in the loop now, because it’s a secret meeting in the lower levels of the Witch House, and that’s some serious stuff.

Last night I did trip over the thirty thousand word mark–

Actually it was more like stumbling with grace.

Actually it was more like stumbling with grace.

And after we get this “The A Levels are Coming” business out of the way, we can . . . um, well, really, we won’t get to class for a bit.  But there is something coming up with a certain Seer we haven’t seen in a while . . .