From the Beginning

A lot of time writers hate to go back and look at things they did when they were first starting out.  I know I do–at least, with some stories.  Those stories that I don’t want to see no longer exist, for they truly were masterpieces of shit.

My first real story was some cheap horror I knocked out in a matter of hours.  I really wasn’t good and it ended with a couple of the oldest tropes in the book: an Apocalyptic Log with That Was the Last Entry tacked on.  It was quite shitty and I believe I just erased it from my hard drive at some point because I never wanted to see it again.

But after I wrote a couple of stories for my creative writing course for adults and joined a writer’s group–which was a big mistake, but that’s another story for another time–I was ready to write.  And not just write, but try and write a–gasp!–novel.  Why?  ‘Cause I determined that I couldn’t write short stories due to the fact I’m a wordy bitch.  Everyone commented on the fast that while I seemed pretty good, I couldn’t write a story in 5,000 words if my life depended upon that.

What follows is the first thing I ever wrote for my novel Transporting, making this penned–if you wanna use that word–a some point in 1987.  I know that because I worked at Playboy in Chicago in 1988, and while I walked to and from the train station to the office–a distance of about 13 blocks–I used to think about these characters and how they would fit into a multi-story arc.  I’d also sit in my office during lunch and work on character building, so this part here had to come before.

Believe it or not, about 98% of what’s below is original.  It’s been polished to fix spelling, grammar, and punctuation, but the words are mostly unchained.  What I wrote 30 years ago is still there using the same voice, and I can’t say I’m displeased.

This is done in the form of a first-person diary–as you’ll see–while there are parts of the novel written–as you saw yesterday–in third person limited.  There are two clues in this manuscript that indicates that the narrator is from Earth, but it’s probably not our Earth.  You’ll figure it out, I’m sure.

So here you go: the 2,500 words that set me on the road to writing.

Enjoy.

 

(Excerpt from Transporting by Cassidy Frazee, Copyright 2018.)

1

When it comes to finding the right thing to say, I always fall back on a movie for a good quote. Why? Can’t say. Most flicks suck total ass; crappy dialog, shitty plots, characters who disappear when they turn sideways—it’s all there. But when they’re done right, when everything is tight and well crafted and about as perfect as a well-oiled watch, they’re damn near magic.

That’s why when I’m looking for a quote to describe, in twenty-five words or less, my current outlook on any situation, I turned to the movies. Not every time, but I mean, shit, it’s not as if I have a musty corner of my brain filled with a millennium of witty things to fall back on. I got to get my material from somewhere.

Sure, there are good quotes that can be found in any number of books. And most of them were made by people a hell of a lot smarter than me. But I should point out that most of the time those quotes—they don’t always move me. You could blame my intellectual attenuation on bad TV or movies. You could, but you’d be discounting the three thousand or so books I read long before I arrived at this place I call “now” and you’d end up looking more of an asshole than me.

I’m not saying there’s nothing in literature that can compete with the visual medium. That’s complete bullshit. But “Ask not, what your country can do for you,” doesn’t hit home, to me, as much as “Just once, I want to do something right.”

Or maybe it’s the voice behind those words, they who speak the line that sticks in your head and makes it so real. I’ve read the line “There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it. Always.” And I’ve also heard a voice, a particular voice, quote that same line. When I hear the voice-over for that scene—the quote always brings a tear to my eye. Always. When I read it… if I don’t put Gandhi’s (or at least Sir Ben’s) voice to that quote, it means nothing.

It’s that magic I enjoy. That’s what I live for.

So why am I talking about quotes? What does this have to do with anything I’m saying right now? Not a goddamn thing, actually. Just thought I’d bring it up because I’m like that. I procrastinate by meandering.

Though in a way it does have something to do with this thing of mine, what I’m trying to put down, here through this electronic medium that can be recalled from about anywhere on the planet.

It has to do with why I’m doing this.

There’s a simple explanation for the why. It’s all Lynette’s doing. No, really. She was the one who had the idea to start a journal. I’d been the one who’d been pissing and moaning about a “lack of history” concerning what’s happened with me, to me, and she finally threw up her hands and yelled, “Dammit, why don’t you write about what’s happened? Stop complaining about a lack there of and do this thing!”

Easier said than done. Even though I’ve written stuff, I’m not sure I’m much of a writer. I can explain things—or can I? I remember, back in my old life, one of my bosses told me I was a “bad influence on others in our department” and that my written instructions were “hard to read.” I remember asking if he would instead say in my annual review that my written work was “incomprehensible to the point of inadvertent obfuscation” as that description was far more clear and precise. I thought the cocksucker was going to stroke out on the spot. That’s a manager for you. Fuck his stupid, monosyllabic butt. What the hell did he know?

(Can I mention that he’s dead—worms spit the best part of his ass out long ago—and I’m still kicking? If so, just one more time, with feeling—fuck you, dickwad. Thank you.)

I’m being hard on myself. Sue me.

I decided to do this damn thing if, for no other reason, than (1) it keeps me from drinking and/or getting high, and (2) it helps me remember everything that’s went down recently. Believe me, the first reason is good enough, and the second… there’s plenty to remember and talk about.

And I want to talk about it, I really do.

Even if no one other than The Gang of Four reads this shit, at least I’ll get a hell of a lot off my chest. Shit. My chest. You don’t know how fuckin’ silly that sounds, man.

Before coming to “now” I had a lot of baggage. Now—

Now it’s time to fall back on that movie quote.

I should revise that. A “TV quote” is what we’re really shooting for here, gang, but I’m splittin’ fuckin’ hairs, you know?

Once more, a quick diversion. There’s good news and bad news concerning my new home. One, I have access to just about everything recorded during the Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries. That’s the good. The bad news is just how goddamn bad the majority of this offal was! Christ! Ted Sturgeon was aiming a bit low when he said ninety percent of everything is crap. He should have adjusted his numbers upward based on the last two decades of the Twentieth Century. I mean, after 1980 we definitely started inching into something akin to tau zero numbers. While the overall Craptacular percentage might, after years of trying, hit 99.9999999%, we would never actually reach one hundred percent the Speed of Complete Shit. Because, try as Hollywood might, a gem would always float to the surface of the cesspool that was American Culture I used to know and—ah, hem—love. Sometimes this happened by design, more often by sheer dumb fucking luck. But it did happen.

So while I’ve pissed on a lot of things, I have also managed to dig a few gems out of the shit, and these have, in some way, left a splendid and lasting impression upon my soul.

There was this show that popped up latter half of the Twentieth Century. Strike that. Last years of the Twentieth, first of the Twenty-first. Got it? Good. It was pretty cultish in its day—you know, 150 channels then and nothing on, so there was a great deal of competition to prevent it from getting great viewing numbers, but it had a very loyal following for the five years it was on. It was about alien teenagers growing up in, of all places, Roswell, New Mexico—hey, I hear you snickering out there. Fuck off, bitches. I liked it. It was… I don’t know. Strange. In a good way.

(In a slightly off-the-rails-once-again yet on-subject topic, ‘cause I’m good at that shit: I once asked Tommy about the Roswell Crash. Tommy can be a right bastard when he wants and he hates it when I start grilling him about these old paranormal events because he doesn’t give two damns about them. So the day I got into him about the crash he grew extremely pissy, got red in the face and began spouting the party line: that it was a US military test, no extraterrestrial ship had ever crashed on Earth, that people then wanted to believe something from another world had landed. I remember him saying—screaming, really—”It never occurred, it was all a stupendous fantasy, why do you continue wasting my time with this RUBBISH?” Of course I had to mention that I’d tried using Heather to access a MOS database and discovered that what I was looking for was secured under a 16,384 bit encryption key, so if this was just some fantasy, then what is your government so fuckin’ eager to hide? Tommy got very quiet for about twenty seconds, staring off into space as he normally does when he knows he’s being fucked and doesn’t want to lose face. He finally rubbed his chin and said, “I’m positive it’s nothing important,” then spun on his heel and left in a huff. So maybe there’s nothing in that database. But I’m going to crack that fucker one of these days if it’s the last thing I do.)

Getting back to my story… There was an episode on this show where a couple of the female characters—one human, the other alien—were hanging around after class on the school grounds, BSing and doing their toenails. The subject of relationships comes up. The human asks something about why the alien girl—who’s wildly hot, incidentally—why she doesn’t talk to people, or go out that much, and, gee, is it because you’re like from another world, huh? The alien girl asks the human, “Are you afraid? I mean to let someone in; to let someone see who you really are?” The human girl thinks about it—she’s just started to get a crush on Alien Girl’s brother, first-time love and all that crap, and knows sort of what Sis is asking about—and replies, “Yeah, of course I am.” Alien Girl looks Little Human Girl in the eye and tells her, “Well, multiply that by about a million,” which is meant to give an indication about how worried she is when it comes to people learning about the real her.

And that, my friends, sums up everything when it comes to me. That is exactly how I feel.

There’s so much I don’t want people to know, yet so much I’m afraid they’ll discover.

Lynette says that’s another good reason for doing this journal. She tells me it’s “cathartic” to let everything out. My thoughts. My feelings. My fears. All the junk that I’ve hidden for years, kept bottled up like some hundred year old wine I’ve been saving for that special occasion that is never special enough.

She doesn’t realize how much she’s asking from someone who never lets anyone in. How difficult I find it to open up. I feel as segregated from everyone as those aliens. Multiply their fear by a million? That would be start.

Partially that’s true. Partially it’s a cop-out, though. Cy knows all this was my idea. I think—I believe she’s the one that put the idea in Lynette’s head, but she’s hidden that memory away so I can’t see it. I know, what a little bitch. The least she can do is let me see if I was right, you know?

I know I spoke with her about doing something like this when we got back. But she knows that getting me to do instead of say are two very contrasting ideas. When it comes to working on something, like this, let’s say, I’m the biggest lazy ass in the world. I admit it. Mea cupla and all that rot. What can I do?

Nothing.

So Cy told Lynette. Lynette got in my ass. I got the push I needed.

Now I’m down to wondering what should go in here.

Fuck all that, Jack. I know what I should put here: everything. The things I learned. The way I’ve changed. (Should I say instead, “Become a new person?” Oh, my. Now that’s a fuckin’ scream.) The last two years.

That’s a lot of ground.

Actually it’s more than two years, but I’m not in the mood to start tearing down the structure of the universe this very moment to get it straight. Call it two years, dude, and we’re even.

I’ve spent a few days prior to now doing what I normally do. Sitting around and scratching ass. The usual. Then… movie time again. And another quote.

I was watching, for about the sixtieth or seventieth time, The Music Man. Great flick. Saw it the first time when I was about six and fell in love with it. Couldn’t tell you why, but can anyone explain love of anything to me? How it occurs? No? Thought not.

The Music Man is that way for me. The film is a love feast. Corny as all hell, but it still leaves you feeling as if you’ve been a part of something special when it’s over. Shirley Jones. Buddy Hackett. Hermione Gingold. And, in his Academy Award winning role, Robert Preston, the con man who always thinks there’s a band. No one else could play Prof. Harold Hill the way he did and I can’t imagine anyone else walking away with that award that year. (Okay, Peter should have gotten it, but I wasn’t voting. Is it my fault he was British and didn’t have a chance in hell?)

Here’s the scene: Harold’s conned just about everyone in the town about the bogus band that’s never coming and he’s getting ready to scoot with the loot. He’s conned everyone except Marion the Librarian, played by Shirley Jones. Harold finally gets her alone and asks her if she would care to meet up at the bridge in the park, the local Lover’s Lane. “’No, please’,” Marion begs, “’Not tonight. Maybe tomorrow?’”

And Harold looks as her with those sorrowful eyes he owns and tells her, “’Oh, my dear little librarian. You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to make today worth remembering.’”

I paused the movie—again. And remembered another time that line got me going—

It didn’t take a genius to know I’ve got too goddamn many empty yesterdays and can’t afford to piss away any more.

Harold was right.

So, I’ve finally begun. Jerking along like a car that hasn’t been run in a while, but I’m really doing this goddamn thing.

And trying to do it right.

I’ve got to lay out as much as I can. Tell what I remember. What I know.

Maybe I’ll leave something behind that, when it’s scanned, people will say, “So, that’s how that was done.”

But what I’m really trying to do: I’m trying to make this perfect.

I want to leave behind some magic. But to get to the end, I gotta start at the beginning.

And that’s a mess that, if I could, I’d have bleached from my brain and never miss a moment. But despite how drug and booze soaked my memories of that time are, I do remember how this all started.

October 13, 1986. A Monday. Christ, the day was suck-o. Chilly, about 45, with a low overcast and the wind cutting through your ass like a hot serrated knife. Some rain as well, but not much. Par for Chicago in the middle of October.

The day was shit and I had it off. I took it off. Called in sick. Why, you ask? Were you sick? No. So you wanted it off? Yes. For the love of all that’s good, why?

I knew it wouldn’t be a good day. It wasn’t the sort of day that you’d want to spend outdoor having fun.

About the only thing a fucked up day like that was good for was killing yourself.

Which, incidentally, was what I was planning…

 

 

Some Past Future History

One of the things I love about world building is trying to construct a history around why something happened.  How did The Foundation come to be?  Well, I had to think that one out and build a history that made sense.  Now, while you may not ever seen the whole history, I have, because I need to know the whys and wherefores and stick to those suckers.

Because if there’s another thing I’ve learned when writing, it’s that you need to stick to the internal logic of the story created by whatever history you have.  Otherwise it’s all chaos, and we don’t want that, now, do we?

It was the same way when I wrote Transporting.  I had to created a bunch of history to explain why things were the way they were at the time of my story.  And one of the things I created was something of a quick summation of how humans went from an interplanetary to interstellar to time traveling species.  And in little more than thirty-five hundred words I did just that.

This is Chapter Ten from Transporting, and this is the first time it’s ever seen the light of day.  This is where my inner sci fi tech geek comes out and get all crazy with the handwavium so my world works.  You get to see if first.  And I do hope you enjoy.

If nothing else, if gives you another insight into how my mind works.

Which might not be a good thing…

 

(Excerpt from Transporting by Cassidy Frazee, Copyright 2018.)

10

Human-kind developed advanced propulsion systems for space travel in the early and mid-22nd Century. A 1G fusion drive developed by the ESA made its first full-system run in 2112 and began mass production ten years later. The Kranok Drive was rendered nearly obsolete when, in 2142, a Japanese/ Indonesian consortium developed a matter/anti-matter powered drive that could achieve accelerations of up to 10Gs and maintain that velocity for extended periods of time. The energy produced by the Masawana-Sukarno-Koh Drive also powered another consortium breakthrough: a device that would compensate for inertia and eliminate the gravitational effects produced by acceleration. With this in place, the MSK Drive could run at its maximum and passengers and crew would never feel anything more than a comfortable .9Gs enveloping them.

With these tools the Solar System was finally opened for business.

Now that people could move from planet to planet in days instead of weeks or months, the next five decades saw the first real outward rush of Terran society. Luna became a suburb of Earth. The population of Mars nearly doubled. Large habitats were built in orbit around Venus and Jupiter. A mining colony was established on Mercury. And scientific outposts sprang up on all the large outer moons.

Because of its efficiency and lower cost the Kranok Drive was not scraped, but was instead used by large, slower system freighters that didn’t need to zip from one place to another. However, it was soon discovered that the Kranok Drive was perfect for something else: the first generation of the unmanned interstellar probes. The first Rigil Kentaurus probe, Jupiter 3—the name was chosen as a homage to an early science fiction television program—departed Mars orbit in 2160 and arrived in-system eleven years later. Probes were built and sent to Barnard’s Star and Procyon in 2171 and 2174 respectively. Although Barnard’s Star proved to be a bit of a disappointment—only three small planets were found, along with a huge asteroid field waiting to be plundered—both Rigil Kent and Procyon were found to have planets that would be considered hospitable for humans after a little terraforming.

Now the biggest hurdle would be getting people there. While the MSK Drive could get a ship up close to the speed of light in a very short time, no one had yet discovered a way to go faster than light. While there were a number of theories as to how an FTL system might work, turning the might into would was proving elusive as hell. Between 2170 and 2200 no less that twelve billion Terran Scripts were spent on research looking for this Holy Grail of space flight. It all turned into dead-ends, however. Everything that had been written on the subject over the prior one hundred years was poured over by the greatest minds throughout most of 2202 in the hope that something had been missed, that perhaps someone had come up with an idea that, while brilliant, had been so astounding that the work was immediately discounted and discarded in the dust bin of history.

3 Jan, 2203, a paper was published detailing the findings of the team. Their findings: nothing of use was there. All that has been thought possible was, instead, proven impossible. Faster than light travel was an enigma. It was a fantasy dreamt only by those who could not face the harsh reality of nature; that if anyone wished to travel to the stars, it would be done in small steps taking so many yet-to-be counted generations, or at relativistic speeds that would, in effect, be one-way journeys for those aboard.

The paper summed up its conclusions nicely, leaving no doubt as to its conclusions: “Never in our life times, or our children, or our grandchildren, or even our grandchildren’s grandchildren, will this vision of swift and effortless travel to the stars become a reality. We may one day step foot upon the earth of nearby systems after decades of travel, but one must immediately give up the possibility of interstellar empires where one can visit numerous system in a matter or weeks, or month. Such a notion is, and will always remain, impossible.”

There was but a single rebuttal, written by the only person on the team who refused to sign off on the findings. Her message was simple and to the point: “We should never forget Clark’s First Law.”

####

On 16 June, 2235, the Eris Observatory detected a large, focused neutrino burst emanating from a point 26 degree below the Elliptic and approximately 118 AU distant. Probes in the Oort Cloud had, as well, detected gravitational variations not far from the point of the initial burst. Though Eris had nothing that could readily investigate this phenomena, the research ship Kamehameha would soon be passing Pluto’s orbit—at the time it had been on its way from Terra to study Trans-Plutonian bodies—and could be dispatched.

The Kamehameha was ordered to Eris where they laid over just long enough to pick up three specialists: Gibson Daimler, an astrophysicist, and Tracy Powell and Karlena McNutt, both engineers. The ship was then ordered to a point where they could intercept the object that had been the true source of the neutrino emissions: a large vessel traveling approximately fifteen percent the speed of light, which was currently following a long, curving arc around the Solar System.

The unknown ship was intercepted by the Kamehameha two days later. The vessel was huge: 380 meters long by 60 m wide by 35 m high. Though the ship did not respond to any of the Kamehameha’s inquiries, after a day of probing the hull an airlock was discovered. Within hours the crew had access to the interior of the alien vessel.

Though the ship was apparently empty, the lights were on, environmental systems were on-line and were working, and there was oxygen and gravity, with these being exactly like what one would discover on Terra. Quarters were found that appeared built for creatures perhaps slightly taller than humans, though no one could say for certain what these creature may have looked like—one of the specialists, Blair Humon, surmised from chairs found in several rooms that the aliens that built the ship may have been tripeds, or even quadrupeds. No food was found in an obvious kitchen, nor was any organic material discovered in what appeared to be a medical facility.

For a full day the crew searched those parts of the ship they could enter. They found a bridge that seemed singularly devoid of instruments—although as Powell stated, they could be standing next to the navigation system and never know it. What instruments the bridge did possess were covered in characters similar to hieroglyphics. They also found several common areas, as well as entrances to what were believed to be the engineering and the computer sections. As with other locked rooms no one could figure out how to open the doors, as reading the alien characters on the panels next to the doors was impossible. No matter what actions were taken with the panels, they were unable to open any doors.

Finally Karlena McNutt was given permission to force open the door thought to lead into engineering. She and Powell gathered equipment and a few explosive charges they’d brought from the observatory, and proceeded to work. Less than three minutes after they indicated they were wiring the door the alien ship began to accelerate away from the Kamehameha. Two crew members who were also on-board the ship with McNutt and Powell were able to return, but the Kamehameha had to break off as the alien ship accelerated away at 40Gs, stranding the women. Two minutes later the ship vanished with a burst of neutrinos. The Kamehameha crew returned to Terra and submitted their findings, which were immediately classified secret.

Only a handful of people ever knew what had happened to Powell and McNutt.

2 March, 2236, another neutrino burst occured—only this one was detected just outside the orbit of Uranus and not in Trans-Plutonian space and belonging to a ship entering the Solar System and decelerating slowly from six percent the speed of light. This ship was not nearly as large as the other: only 43 meters by 18 by 12. And while it wasn’t responding to inquiries, its orbit indicated it was on a direct course for Terra, something that scrambled nearly every ship from Mars to Neptune.

The craft was intercepted just outside the orbit of Saturn. It resembled the other ship the Kamehameha examined in nearly every way except size. As the patrol destroyer Euxine approached the alien vessel the ship hailed and, to the surprise of everyone, on the bridge, Tracy Powell sent a greeting: “How the hell are ya? Me and Karlena would like to know: where you want us to park this thing?”

The Euxine and five other ships escorted Powell and McNutt to the research station on Phobos. The ship was instantly placed in storage for examination while the ladies were sent to Luna, where they spent the next four months undergoing every imaginable form of regression therapy known to find out where they had been and how they’d come in possession of the ship. After four months the people examining Powell and McNutt discovered two things:

One, the ship had been given to them by a race known as the Sha’lan and it possessed an FTL drive.

Two: nothing beyond that.

The station on Phobos set themselves to reverse engineering the Sha’lan drive, attempting to figure out how it worked. There were manuals, written in English—later discovered to have been written by McNutt without her knowledge—to help them along, as well as an explanation of the basic theory. After some of Earth’s top physicists were able to go over the formula for FTL travel, there was heard the sound of collective head-slapping, for once some advanced principles of quantum physics were taken from the Sha’lan’s theories and factored into some Terran ones, it was easy to see how similar they were.

So much was understood that a new drive was built in six months time, while the ship took another three. On 21 February, 2237, the Bonadventure became the first human vessel equipped with an FTL drive to go faster than light in a vacuum, reaching a speed of 220c during its shake-down cruise.

The door to the stars had not been opened so much as kicked down.

####

For just over a hundred years the top speed of the Powell-McNutt Drive, as the system was known because no one would be told it was an alien drive until 2840 GS, was 250c. Then in 2348 there was a small increase to 300c and a bigger jump to 500c in 2487. While one could always go slower, it seemed there was a top speed.

The reason was simple: the PMD phased a bubble of “Trans-Einsteinium space” around the ship, allowing it to slip into an extra-dimensional continuum. The density of the phase bubble was the true gage of speed: the more dense the bubble, the faster one could travel. The bubble could be made denser by pumping more energy into it, but there lay the really tricky part: much of the original theory on the PMD didn’t seem to work when it came to increasing bubble density. Or rather, the theory said one thing, but the reality of that change was something all together different.

Simply pumping more energy into the bubble didn’t work. There was a bit of symmetry that came into play when adding energy to the surface of the phase bubble; it wasn’t something that could be done through brute force, since the bubble needed to be reconfigured so as to better handle the additional velocity. These reconfigurations were insignificant at lower velocities, but the further engineers pushed the drive beyond 500c, the more complex the patterns became.

Over 300 Standard years passed before the 1000c limit was broken and this was followed by what engineers refereed to as the Century of Speed. In 2803 a speed of 1200c was achieved; then, only 67 years later this was increased to 1500c. Finally, in 2937 a velocity of 1800c was reached. It was thought that 2000c would be reached if not within the next 50 or 100 years, at that point not long before the start of the Third Millennium.

No such thing occurred.

The PMD reached 1800c in the last few years of the 30th Century and remained there. Nothing the FTL experts did could make a ship go faster. There were moments when engineers believed they had cracked the PMD Limitation, but when actual tests were performed the ship never passed the 1800c marker.

By the beginning of the 32nd Century the Limit became for many scientists and engineers what faster than light travel had been at the start of the 23rd Century: an absolute that would never be solved or beaten. Academic paper after paper was published explaining why there would be no further advances in the PMD. How 1800c would be the upper limit; how the Empire would simply have to live with this constraint.

Of course there were detractors: there always are. Most were not taken seriously. The detractors had nothing to offer in the way of a solution, and so their arguments were moot.

That would all change before the century was out.

####

Dr. Thomas McCrimmon had already made a name for himself by 3172 Galactic Standard. His genius was established early in 3159 GS when, at the age of 14, he published a paper redefining the basic quantum wormhole theory behind the creation of transom lines; the application of his work allowed them to be produced more efficiently using less power. Two years later, already in his second year of college, he published another paper that, within a year, led to the development of a portable transom device that used a fraction of the power of the current prototypes being tested. These contributions led to Tommy receiving a substantial royalty of a half a million Interstellar Pounds a year, as well as making him one of the few people who could travel anywhere in the Empire for free.

By the time he’d won the Copley Medal in 3170 GS, he’d already given the Powell-McNutt Limitation problem much thought. Tommy had never been one for listening to what others had to say concerning his ideas—as he often told anyone who’d listen, if he had, he would have never published his first paper—so he was disinclined to believe anyone who said 1800c could never be bettered. Pure rubbish as far as he was concerned, for he remembered how Terran theories had been very close to breaking the FTL barrier before the gift of the Power-McNutt Drive and how the pundits of the day had stated that the light barrier would never be broken. At a lecture he gave soon after winning the Copley Medal, Tommy boldly stated that humans would have developed a FTL drive on their own and in all likelihood would have done so within fifty years of the date of their acquisition of the PMD. Despite having nearly a thousand years to review the evidence, Tommy’s remarks were met in the mainstream with considerable skepticism.

Tommy knew the solution to the Limitation lie not in getting more energy into the phase bubble, but in creating a new element for the bubble. The PMD phase bubble was created in a trans-dimension of Einsteinium space-time, so as Tommy reckoned, if the current trans-dimension was imposing limitations, then a different trans-dimension was needed. This had been tried in the past: the PMD formula had been adjusted many time to work towards the creation of the phase bubble in a hereto unexplored sub-dimension. All of these attempts had failed and Tommy knew why:

None of the people developing these theories believed as strongly in Clark’s Second Law as Thomas McCrimmon.

Tommy spent two years revising the basic drive theories before hitting upon his solution. The trans-dimension he would use was really little more than a quantum sub-dimension of a sub-dimension of superspace, that unique parcel of quantum space-time that was just now coming into vogue as a possible power replacement for mater/anti-mater reactions. Tommy had become the leading proponent of superspace topographical theory and he believed that he could use this quantum sub-dimension to not only break through the PM Limitation, but set a new maximum speed so high that if he were correct—and he had no reason to doubt he wasn’t—the Empire might be looking at intergalactic travel by the end of the century.

After the basic theory was developed a test craft was constructed. Tommy was able to fund much of the development from his own finances due to the money he’d earned from transom royalties, so he didn’t have to worry about backers telling him he was doing everything wrong. He oversaw much of the development and construction himself, often having parts auto-fabricated at New Oxford, where he’d begun teaching. Most of his time he was in his lab the going over delicate working on the engines, the first to tap superspace energies, and developing the trans-dimensional phasing integrator that would create the new phase bubble that would propel the craft—the Quantum Extra-Dimensional Conveyance, as he was calling it—to velocities approaching an estimated twenty million times the speed of light.

Finally the time came to test the craft and theory. A twenty light-year race course was set up outside the University system to test the conveyance. A school research ship brought the conveyance to one end of the course where it was deployed. The time had been set to begin the experiment, so both sides could record the exact moments of departure and arrival. Tommy had decided that he would adjust the speed so the twenty light years would be covered in ninety seconds—a speed of nearly 7,000,000 C.

On 12 April, 3173 GS, at 17:22:00 UMT, Tommy set the controls and de-phased the craft from normal time-space. The conveyance vanished—

And reappeared at the other end of the course ninety seconds later.

The test was a success.

Tommy said little during the three day trip from the track to University. He refused to review the data until he was back in his lab. He would only allow one message to be transmitted to New London and University indicating the test had been conducted and appeared successful, but stated nothing else. He knew what he and the others had done, but he wanted to be certain that nothing was amiss before acknowledging that they’d beaten the PM Limitation. He wanted to be certain there’d been no unforeseen problems.

Tommy found nothing out of the ordinary. His avatar assistant Heather found nothing out of the ordinary. But Tommy knew something was wrong. He felt it, that something was amiss, but he couldn’t see it.

Two days later he found what he was looking for. The problem was, to say the least, unexpected. Tommy spent another two days pouring over the data to see if there was the possibility of misinterpretation. There wasn’t. He knew he had to confirm these finding before he could even begin thinking about turning his discovery over to the Ministry of Science for evaluation.

He scheduled another test two weeks after the first. He set same criteria as the earlier test. Tommy would de-phase the conveyance at one end and re-phase at the other and the time between these events would be ninety seconds. Then they would then gather up the data and return to University to analyze what they’d collected.

The test went as expected. Nothing seemed different from the one before. It was only a few hours later, while Tommy examined the data, in particular the clock readings from both sides of the race course, that he found his “abnormality”.

The clocks were synchronized by a tacyhon pulse sent out every one-one hundredth of a second from University. The clock on-board the conveyance had been synchronized by the same pulse, so technically, all three clocks should be the same. It was right after the first test Tommy noticed a tiny discrepancy: while the timer on the conveyance showed a 90.0032 second journey, the race course clocks showed a different time: 89.9999999999987. It wasn’t a huge difference, but it was enough to make Tommy wonder.

This time there was no mistaking what had happened, for Tommy had forced a problem the second time. Tommy had de-phased the conveyance at 10:15:12 UMT. The clock on the conveyance showed it had been de-phased for 90.00004002 seconds. It was the re-phase that was troublesome, however. For the conveyance had returned to normal time-space, at the other end of the test course, at 10:15:08 UMT.

The conveyance had arrived at Point B before it had left Point A, just as Tommy planed.

In one of the greatest failures of his short career, Thomas McCrimmon—much to his considerable chagrin—had created a working space-time machine.

 

 

And there you have: my own little slice of future space history.

Now, let’s see what I can come up with tomorrow…

Office Space For the Magically Inclined

Well, it happened.  No, not that, whatever you’re thinking.  The thing I’m talking about is I hit one hundred and fifty thousand words.

See? It’s right here.

The funny thing is I wasn’t even aware as to how close I was until I did a quick check after making some edits over what I did the night before and saw I was about one hundred and twenty-five words short.  I ended the evening putting about seven hundred and fifty words into the scene, but I spent about fifteen minutes setting up my milestone on my author’s page so that likely cut into the amount–

No, it didn’t.  I ended the scene at a good place.  And that place happens to be where Annie and Kerry are starting their test and getting set to kick homunculi butt–the Kali Test I’ve talked about for a few months now.  It’s finally Go Time and they’re in for the toughest time of their lives, at least at school–

But before we can get to that point we need to get this all set up.  That’s what most of Chapter Eleven is about:  the before, during, after, and after-after of this test.  And since we’re starting Chapter Eleven, that must mean we’re showing how the before begins.

However, a little history first…

 

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

 

Unless there was pressing business elsewhere on the school grounds, Friday afternoons found Ramona Chai in her first floor office in the East Transept of the Great Hall. Though she had an office in Gwydion Manor, once she was finished with Beginning Self Defense and Weapons there wasn’t any need to remain there unless she needed to take care of an issue that could only be handled at the Manor.

Normally every instructor had two offices. There was one in the main building where they taught and another located either in the Great Hall, or in the coven towers. The only ones who were lucky enough to have an office in the coven towers were, of course, the coven leaders, though due to the pressures put upon their time, they surprisingly spent little time there.

There were also a few instructors who are of a mind that if students needed to see them, they could come to their office in the place where they taught. Matthias Ellison was one of those instructors: even though he had an office in the Great Hall, it was rarely used, as he preferred conducting business at the Auditorium. The same was true for those witches who taught super science and give control. Polly Grünbach had an office in the History and Arts Building where she taught science and math: Fitzsimon Spratt and Inyx Armanjani had offices in the Tesla Science Center; and Tristyn Julin maintained her office and the Shone Powers Center. Fitzsimon made the best case for this choice, pointing out that what they did was slightly different than what the other witches at Salem did, so why not stay close to their parts of the magical world?

Ramona didn’t see any reason to fault his logic.

As always her office was quiet, though everything in this corner of the building generally remained quiet day and night. At one time, perhaps a hundred and fifty or two hundred years ago, all of the instructors had offices in this section of the East Transept, as well as occupying a few offices along the first floor level of the East Hallway.

These days, however, all of the offices on the first floor of the East Hallway had been converted into activity rooms and used for a few smaller classes, as the onslaught of students that seers and Prognosticators saw arriving at the school in the last few decades of the Twentieth Century never materialized. Some claimed the students never came because by building all of the extra space, the visions of a Salem with over five hundred students became invalidated. Other seers believed that none of these early visions anticipated The Schism and the rise of the Deconstructors, which was considered one of the primary reasons the Aware population hadn’t grown as rapidly as expected.

It didn’t matter to Ramona. She was a natural optimist and believed that the time envisioned by those Prognosticators had not yet arrived and within a few decades the visions would begin coming true. She believed there was nothing wrong in anticipating events decades or even centuries before the occurred; therefore, she saw no reason to lament the over-construction of the Salem grounds.

The students were coming—though the possibility existed that they had not yet been born…

“I hope I haven’t caught you at a bad time?”

 

There hasn’t been much talk about why the Great Hall is so, well, great, but now you get a little insight into this history.  See, at one time people saw that there would be a lot more witches coming to school that then currently existed, so plans were made to get the Hall as big as possible.  Also, when Salem started out everything was kept inside the Great Hall:  classrooms, offices, dorms, kitchen–you name it, it was here.

But all of those seers and prognosticators were wrong for various reasons, not the least of which is something called The Schism.  Yeah, you’ll hear about that later.  Maybe not this novel, but later for sure.

Now, about these offices.  While we’ve never really seen them, we have seen them.  Sort of–

Hey, remember this?  I think a kiss happened down one of those halls–

Yes, it was right down in this area that almost two years earlier–two years!–a certain Ginger Hair Boy got lip locked by a certain Ginger Girl From Boulder.  The kiss happened in that upper hallway on the left, whereas Kerry went to cry and feel betrayed in the hallway on the right.  And if we want to know everything, the kiss happened right outside Ramona’s office.

It’s almost like we’re returning to the scene of the crime.

But we won’t get into that moment–instead, someone wants to speak about this test…

Walking Into the Known Unknown

I have noticed that when I’m really tired my fingers don’t work well.  Like last night:  I was completely out of it once I got back from the phone bank and even though I did manage a few hundred words of writing, it was a struggle.  My fingers were all over the keyboard, hitting everything but the right keys.  That is probably the most frustrating thing in the world to have happen, because you want to do something but you can’t.  A lot of the story of my life.

We know Penny and Kerry had breakfast in Ispwich, but now they’re out walking in the woods.  What woods, you say?  These woods:

 

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

 

After a relaxing breakfast they walked back to St. Mary-le-Tower, took off, and headed twenty kilometers eastward to Rendlesham Forest to hike the infamous UFO Trail around the locations that made up the well-known 1980 incident, when solders at the RAF Woodbridge airbase claimed to see lights in the forest and possibly found a grounded unknown object.  The day was perfect for a hike in the woods and as there weren’t a lot of people on the trail there wasn’t any worry they were going to get a lot of questioning looks about their leather flight jackets.

They didn’t say much for the first segment of the walk: they’d said plenty back at Costa they both felt they could use the silence brought on by their location. It was only when they arrived at Spot 1 on the trail map that Kerry broke the silence. “There it is.”

Penny turned and watched her excited covenmate. “Yes, it’s a gate.” She chuckled. “You don’t see many of those these days.”

Kerry tisked and walked until her was wrap his fingers around the chain links. “Yeah, but this is the gate: the East Gate.” There was a huge smile on his face when he turned around. “This is where it started.”

“You should see how excited you are.” Penny spoke as she sauntered towards him. “I should set you down with me mum. I didn’t tell her I was coming out here ‘cause she’d have probably wanted to tag on.”

 

So where is Kerry hanging out all of a sudden in such an excited state?  Here:

Maybe Kerry has a thing for gates. By Taras Young - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37074729

Maybe Kerry has a thing for gates.
(By Taras Young – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37074729)

Kerry didn’t just fly all the way across the UK so he could make it easy for Penny:  he wanted to come here, to the Rendlesham Forest, site of what some have called “Britain’s Roswell.”

Just like Roswell only without the desert and with tree.

Just like Roswell only without the desert and with tree.

It’s like this, early on the morning of 26 December, 1980, U.S. Air Force personnel standing at that above gate saw some lights off in the distance.  And the time RAF Woodbridge was a NATO base that was used as a staging point for fighters that might have to go in and attack Russian tanks if those commies decided World War III needed happening and it was a good day to die.  So anything that looked out of the ordinary kicked the paranoia up considerably, as, you know, those lights could be KGB spies or something.

Long story short:  a bunch of U.S. airmen went out looking for the lights, chased them around the forest, and eventually came upon something that people said was maybe a spacecraft setting in a clearing.  No one really knows because, for one, there was a lot of sketchy info about what was seen and when, which is usual with these sightings.  Britain’s Ministry of Defense thought so little of what happened they didn’t bother with an official investigate because they said nothing happened to compromise national security.  And people who were hot to investigate the matter over the years pretty much say they think what those crazy Yanks saw were just meteors and a lighthouse that’s not too far away, and because all this happened at three in the morning they weren’t at their sharpest.

Don’t think that Penny and Kerry are wandering through the woods without a destination in mind.  Nope.  As pointed out there now existed The UFO Trail through Rendlesham Forest, a three mile/five kilometer long path that follows the points where those lights were seen, and even heads into the clearing where the “saucer” was seen.

I even mapped it out for you.

I even mapped it out for you.

Penny and Kerry started out at the dot right above “Measure” and are now at the dot closest to the end of the runway at top left.  And now that they have a good look at the gate, Kerry wants to hear more about Penny’s mom:

 

“Really.” He crossed his arms. “Is she into paranormal stuff?”

It was her turn to blow raspberries. “Mum was big into it before she found out about The Foundation. After that—” She rolled her eyes. “You should have see her the first time I told them about The Phoenix. I thought she was gonna want to go to Salem right then and there.”

“She’d have been disappointed if she had. Ol’ Phee doesn’t speak to much of anyone except Professor Lewiston, and from the way it sounds she’s gotta be in the right mood for that.”

“True there.” Penny stepped up to the gate and squinted as she looked through to what was now known as Woodbridge Airfield. “What were those bunkers we flew over?”

“They used to keep fighters in there.” Kerry stood alongside Penny and looked inside as well. “It’s been report that the U.S. kept nuclear weapons in those as well.”

“Wouldn’t be surprised: that sounds like the sort of shite the Americans would pull.” She looked to her right with a slightly embarrassed look upon her face. “Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that.”

“It’s okay.” Kerry chuckled. “I’m technically an ex-pat, and I’m not sure we can consider the land inside school walls part of the United States as no one outside The Foundation know were there.” He took a step back from the gate. “Before we fly home I want to get a look at one of those from the ground.”

“We should be able to do that.” Penny turned and touched Kerry on the arm. “Let’s go.”

 

And this really goes back to why everyone was so spooked that Boxing Day morning in 1980:  though it’s never been confirmed, there are a few people who have stated over the years that nuclear weapons were kept at RAF Woodbridge without the British knowing.  Sure, this would be a violation of treaties and all that, but like the U.S. ever really cared about that when it came to doing what they liked.  Anyway, no nukes there now, nor UFOs, either.

Just a couple of witches looking through an old fence and thinking about what to say next…

East to West Memories

Believe it or not I didn’t hit my thousand word limit last night.  I had a two hour nap then wrote just over six hundred words before calling it a night.  However, this morning I sat down and ripped off eight hundred and eighty-four words in about seventy-five minutes, bringing the two day total to nearly fifteen hundred words and bringing a end to scene two of Chapter Two.

See, I didn't lie.  I never lie except when I do.

See, I didn’t lie. I never lie except when I do.

It was a lot of fun bringing the scene to a close and there was something I wrote this morning that forced me to stop and sniff back a few tears, because that’s how I get sometimes when I’m writing and a come upon a line in a scene that invokes a strong emotion.  I’m just like my kids in that sense:  at least I don’t swoon and nearly faint.

Because I’ve written so much during this period I’m gonna present about half of the remainder of this scene, which is going to nicely tie up what was presented yesterday.  And I should be able to write a little of the next scene today, as I don’t intend going out and doing anything today.  I was working through some of that scene this morning–I didn’t sleep well last night and was up at five today–and I think I’m gonna have a good time putting it together.

Picking up from yesterday…  Now that we know about the political affiliation of Annie’s family, Kerry’s got all that stuff out of his system–yeah?  Well, maybe that takes him somewhere else…

 

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

 

“I’ll remember that.” Maybe fifteen seconds of silence went by before Kerry started giggling. “Sorry.”

Annie almost rolled her eyes again because she knew something silly was coming. “What is it?”

“Oh…” Kerry half-looked towards Annie with a sheepish look. “I was just trying to imagined what you’d look like if you were living thirty years ago. You know, winter comes and you’re walking around in your black skirt and black boots—” He turned a little more towards her. “A heavy jacket over your sweater and, you know, your hands stuffed in a fur muffler and one of those big fur hats on your head and…” His voice trailed off. “I’m digging myself in a hole, ain’t I?”

“I think it’s rather entertaining watching your attempts at bad humor.” She kissed him on the cheek to show she wasn’t angry. “By the way I do have that outfit and you’ve seen me wearing most of it.” Her right eyebrow arched as she considered something. “Though I’m certain the boots I have likely cost far more than the entire outfit would have run in the early 80s.”

“You have the hat and muffler?” Now her was trying to see Annie in the full outfit and imagining how beautiful she’d appear.

“I do, but there isn’t any point in bringing them to school: they’re too dressy.” Annie held her head up and did her best to sound snooty. “I’ve even worn that nearly same outfit in Russia.”

“You’ve been to Russia?”

“Three times: once to Moscow and twice to St. Petersburg: once during our Yule, and once in late June for the White Nights Festival.” She snuggled closer to Kerry. “Some time we’ll go to St. Petersburg in the winter and you can seem me all dressed up in my full outfit.”

Kerry stroked her hair. “Just like a Russian girl.”

“No: Russian girls are snobby.” A grin appeared as Annie turned up her nose. “Nothing like me.”

 

Now we now:  Annie thinks Russian girls are snobs.  Bold talk for a Bulgarian girl who some people thought of as an “Ice Princess” for a while, with one actually having the temerity to tell this to Kerry.  We’ve also discovered she’s been to Russia, though given she’s a bit of a globe trotter this shouldn’t be a surprise.  Her trips to St. Petersburg seem to impress her the most, however, and as well they should because St. Petersburg is consider a beautiful city by a lot of people.

The White Nights Festival runs from June to August and has events that last well into the evening–which, since the city is so far north, doesn’t get all that dark during he summer months.  There are parades and concerts of all kind, with a number of them taking place in the main courtyard of the Winter Palace, probably the most well known location in the city.

Imagine Annie spending a long summer's evening here--

Imagine Annie spending a long summer’s evening here–

And during the winter St. Petersburg is the place to be with lots and lots of snow and sub-zero temperatures:  just the sort of place you’d expect Annie to be walking around in her full-on stylin’ winter outfit with her fur hat and muffler.

Now, crazy me, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to find an image of a Russian girl with that sort of outfit, and while I didn’t find one–believe it or not so many of my image requests kept returning pictures of women in Russia wearing stuff I would think are the wrong sorts of garments one would wear in a Russian winter–I did find one picture of a Russian woman with a fur hat, and this led me to getting down into some history with one of my favorite groups…

Allow me to introduce nineteen year old Natalya Kravtsova of the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, otherwise known as The Night Witches.

See?  Fur hat to keep her warm.

See? Fur hat to keep her warm.

The Night Witches was an all-woman flight group that flew thousands of missions against the Germans form 1942 to 1945.  Starting out as the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, they were later reorganized into the 46th “Taman” Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment, working alongside the 125th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment of the Soviet Air Force.

Now, because this was an all-woman group, and the Soviets were hard-pressed to find good equipment to pass around, these ladies generally flew outdated Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes with open cockpits and little instrumentation–oh, and two bombs per plane, because that’s all they could carry.  Since the aircraft were so slow and so vulnerable to attack they flew night missions only and were tasked with harassing German positions–

A job they did extremely well.

Just to give you an idea of what they had to work with:  their planes had a top speed of about 95 mph/152 kph, but normally cruised at about 70 mph/110 kph–in other words, about as fast as you drive down a modern interstate.  Because of weight limitations due to their bombs the pilot and navigator found their way to their targets using maps and a compass:  no fancy instrumentation here.  Oh, and the women couldn’t wear parachutes ’cause they weighed too much.  We need that extra weight to carry those bombs, guys.

The Polikarpov was a noisy plane: Wehrmacht troops called it Nähmaschine, which means “sewing machine”, because that’s what it sounded like as it flew up on your position.  But the Night Witches knew how to get around this:  as they approached their target they cut the engine and glide in on the usually sleeping Germans.  Then they’d drop their bombs and once they glided a short distance, refire the engine and fly the hell out of there and back to base, usually at tree top levels to avoid being shot down by Luftwaffe pilots on night patrol.  I should point out that that last was hard to do as the top speed of the Polikarpov was well below the stall speed of all German fighters, which mean the Germans pretty much had to put their planes into a controlled crash to hit these pesky Russians.

The Germans were the ones who gave the unit the name “Night Witches” because they said the sound of the planes coming in for a bombing run sounded like a witch’s broom swooping by in the darkness.  Some of the pilots said the Germans would often scream at them as they flew by, though surprisingly the last word screamed at then often wasn’t witch but something that sounded quite similar.  The Germans hated these women, and at one point Luftwaffe pilots were promised the Iron Cross–one of their most sought-after medals–for every Night Witch downed.

All together the units flew about thirty thousand missions:  Natalya Kravtsova flew nine hundred and eighty during her tenure as a Night Witch.  They were about as bad ass as anyone can get, and they are proof that while Annie thinks Russian girls may be a little stuck up, you should never mess with one, witch or Normal.  (It was noted that on occasions when the engine of their aircraft shut off in mid-flight, it was necessary for the copilot/navigator to climb out on the wing while the plane was going down and hand-crank the prop to get the engine started.  Yeah, bad ass.)

And here's one witch getting ready to fly during the winter.  Annie probably has this outfit as well.

And here’s one witch getting ready to fly during the winter. Annie probably has this outfit as well.

Now you know where Vicky gets her call sign and why her patch has it written in Russian.  And why she’s proud as hell to have that call sign…

Now that we’ve gone past that history, Kerry has something else he wants to bring up, history-wise:

 

Kerry had to admit there were no other girls like Annie, Russian or English or American—or anywhere in the world. There was something tugging at the back of his mind, however, that had nothing to do with Annie… “That brings up something else: how did your parents and grandparents get out of Bulgaria to go do school in America? Did The Foundation use magic to get them out without anyone noticing?”

“No, they didn’t have to.” Annie crossed her legs and rubbed the bottom of her foot as if she were looking for dream dirt. “From what my family has said The Foundation had a good working relationship with the Soviet Union; they were a foreign trade organization with favorable status with people in Moscow. Since their headquarters were in Paris they could claim that they weren’t unduly influenced by America.” She narrowed her eyes as she stared at Kerry. “Our bourgeoisie enemy.”

He laughed. “Is that you or them speaking?”

“My grandmother once said that jokingly. Anyway, the managed to prove—probably with a little help from The Art—that children from the Soviet Bloc were not only going to receive an ideology-free education, but that they’d freely bring that knowledge back to help their comrades.” She started grinning. “Yes, I said that.

“The Foundation also helped the Russians with…” Annie grasped at words. “I was told they often assisted them with engineering and scientific matters, though nothing that required them to become involved in their military efforts. The way my fraternal grandfather put it, The Foundation made certain the Soviets didn’t fall too far behind the West, but also made certain they didn’t get too far ahead.”

Kerry nodded slowly. “They helped keep the playing field even.”

“Quite so, yes. They were also here to make certain the Deconstructors didn’t gain a foothold in the country.” She rested her chin against her fist for a moment. “We haven’t leaned about it in history yet, but I think the Deconstructors were somewhat behind the Cuban Missile Crises.”

 

Now we find out Deconstructors may have played a part in trying to blow up the world in 1963, which sounds crazy, but then it doesn’t seem like they give a shit about a lot of things.  These guys just love embracing the crazy, don’t they?

 

“I can see that happening.” Now that the relationship between the Russians and The Foundation were clearer, he had another thought. “Did The Foundation get anything from the Russians? Were they paid?”

“No, they received something better: land. Since the Russians couldn’t pay them—rubles weren’t convertible to other forms of money—they bartered for land in Siberia where they could open lab and training facilities. That’s how Department 62 in Serov and The Cosmodrome came into existence.

“With those and other places available The Foundation could play with forms of magic and technology that wasn’t possible in areas where they might not be able to hide a—mistake. Also, being out in Siberia allowed The Foundation to keep track of…” Annie looked off across the straight as her voice dropped to about half her normal speaking volume. “Other things.” She turned back to Kerry and smiled. “Enough of that: why did you want me to see this? Do you miss being here?”

 

And at this last we find out that The Foundation has worked on stuff in Russia that may or may not have led to a mistake, and you gotta wonder what the hell they were doing where a mistake is big enough that not having anyone within a hundred kilometers of their test site is a good thing.  Also…  they’re keeping an eye on other things in Russia?  Stuff… and things.  What’s going on in Russia?  Well, I know, and maybe one day you’ll know, too.

We are left with this last thought:  “Do you miss being here?”  And you know what?

You’ll find out tomorrow.

Though Memories and Song

Crazy things happening, yo.  One of the things I started doing the last couple of days is putting some song lists together of tunes I listen to on YouTube.  Part of this is so I can have something to listen to as I’m walking to and from work–yes, I’m like all the other girls now with my earbuds walking to my own soundtrack–but then I thought, “Hey, you know:  I have a lot of music in my novels:  A lot of it,” and since I am a bit scatterbrained at times I figured it might not be a bad idea to put them all together so I can jam out on them from time to time.

Therefore, if you are interested, I have compiled all the songs that I can think of that put in an appearance in the story so far, and–SPOILERS!–this includes songs that haven’t yet appeared.  They are also in chronological order, with Zoo Station–the song Vicky and Kerry flew to during his broom checkout–being first.  And as you’ll see there are just over two dozen songs, with may more to come in time.

And in case anyone is wondering I also have a song list for everything that Kerry plays during Ostara, but that list is private as it has every song he plays so neener neener, you can’t have all my secrets.

With music out of the way let’s get on to the quick history lesson.

Kerry created a dream version of a place he knew outside of San Francisco:  Battery Spencer.

Why, it's this.

Remember this?  Maybe a little?

Naturally Annie–who living in the mountains thousands of kilometers away–asks the question most people would ask:

 

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

 

Annie looked around just a bit puzzled. “What’s that?”

“This.” Kerry stomped his bare foot on the dirty concrete. “This. This used to be part of the defense of San Francisco.” He sat on the edge of the low structure, his feet almost touching the ground. He looked at Annie as she joined him. “Back over a hundred years ago they had all these guns in place around the Golden Gate—” He pointed towards the water in front of them. “—that’s the straight there—they were here to keep out enemy ships that might try to sail in and attach the city and ports. There used to be couple of big guns here, a few more down the coast—” Kerry waved his arm to his right. “—and a bunch of them over on the south side.”

“I had no idea.” Since Annie had spent her entire life living in the mountains she couldn’t imagine living in an area where these defenses existed. “Where are they now?

The guns, I mean.”

“Scrapped. All this stuff was obsolete by the 1920s because everyone was building huge war ships and aircraft carries. They pulled the guns out of here in 1942, melted them down, and used them for other things. There’s only one gun left over on the other side by the Presidio. It’s just used for demonstrations.”

“Interesting.” She loved how animated Kerry had grown talking about something that she’s never heard him mention in all the time they’d been together. He’s proud he was able to create all this; it’s likely this place was important to him. “What’s the Presidio?”

Kerry began rocking back and for as if he were anxious to do something. “It used to be a military base that was supposed to defend the city. It was shut down a while back and the buildings sold for development. The Disney people bought one of the buildings—” He stared at the bridge with a wistful look upon his face. “That’s where my parents used to work.”

“At this Presidio?”

“Yeah. That’s where ILM has their offices.” His chuckled was almost unheard. “That’s where the Yoda statue is.” Kerry finally looked at Annie. “I had my picture taken in front of it when I was six.” He grew quiet as he turned back towards the bridge.

 

First, the defenses.  Like Kerry said, back in the extremely late 1800–mostly in 1895–a whole lot of gun emplacements were set up overlooking the Golden Gate, the entrance to San Francisco harbor.  There were, for the most part, 10 inch guns set up on platforms that allowed them to drop down for loading, then pop up for shooting.  There were at least two guns at Battery Spencer, and at least a half dozen more spread down the Marion Highlands, including two that were buried inside a hill.

On the southern approach there were even more, with a few going as far down the south coast as to be almost outside of the city limit.  The idea was that any enemy ships that tried getting into the harbor was gonna get blasted to hell and gone before the got too close.

This whole area was a death trap, trust me.

This whole area was a death trap, trust me.

By the way, Battery Chamberlain, seen in the picture above, is that “one guy left” that Kerry mentions, and there are demonstrations these days showing people how it worked.

Not only did the Golden Gate have guns, but there were hardened forts as well.  There was Fort Point which was, um, on the point right there where the straight narrows, and is more well known as that building the Golden Gate Bridge goes over–

As seen here in a still from "Vetigo".

As seen here in a still from the movie Vertigo.

And further inside the harbor was Fort Alcatraz, which is known these days as that prison that no one could escape.  These places were chock full o’ guns as well and ready to blast any bad guys who made it past the outer defenses.

Overseeing this all was the Presidio, the military installation tasked with overseeing to the protection of the city.  It was put in place originally by the Spanish in 1776 and was inactivated as a military base in 1994, which made it one of the oldest active military bases in this country.  It’s all parkland these days and is open to any and all.

Just imagine if the greedheads were allowed to build condos here.

Just imagine if the greedheads were allowed to build condos here.

As Kerry also pointed out, the Presidio is where his parents used to work as Industrial Light and Magic–their former employee–has their offices on the old base.  On the picture above ILM occupies a few buildings in the group of four at the very right center.  And in the courtyard of one of those buildings–the one at the bottom of the group–is the Yoda Fountain, where Kerry was photographed standing in front of the grumpy old puppet.

"Jedi Knight I was; water flowing from base I now have."

“Jedi Knight I was; water flowing from base have I now.”

Yeah, Kerry has a lot of memories of this area and Annie prods him a little to talk–

 

Annie rested her hand over his. “When were you here last?”

He didn’t need any time to consider the answer. “Like the middle of June after my seventh birthday. My parents were working and my grandmother didn’t want to do a lot of walking, so it was just my grandfather and me. He brought me up here, then we went to the Nike base down the ways, and before we went home we actually walked out on the bridge.”

“You did?” Annie grew a little excited. While she’d crossed many river bridges in Europe she’s never stood on a structure as huge as the Golden Gate Bridge. “How far out did you walk?”

“Out to about a hundred or so meters beyond the north tower.” Kerry held his arm next to Annie’s face and sighted down it towards the spot he remembered. “Right about there.”

“That had to be exciting.” Remembering what Kerry was like then—the intelligent boy who only saw a certain Chestnut Girl in his dreams once in a while but knew her presence meant he had someone with whom he could talk for what seemed like most of a day—she imagined he felt a combination of exhilaration and fear as he walked out on the bridge. “What was it like?”

“Windy.” He laughed. “And chilly, but you dress for that around here. I remember how far down the water seemed: like eighty meters or so.” He glanced at Annie. “Not so far these days, huh?”

She gave him a slow shrug. “It is if you fall.”

“True.”

“And what is this Nike base you mentioned?”

 

Yeah, what is that Nike base you mentioned.  Well, I’ll mention that tomorrow–along with a dirty little secret Kerry figured out about Annie.  Will it change his perception of Annie?  Ummm, probably not, but he’ll have fun pointing it out.

Me and Her

You know what I’m about to say:  no writing last night.  Usually because Friday night is Recap Night, and I should have written a Sense8 recap.  Notice I said “should”.  That’s because I didn’t do any writing.  And why?

I went to a Hillary Clinton rally.

Harrisburg was one of the stopping points for the Clinton campaign last night, and as the rally was only a thirty minute walk from my apartment I decided that, yes, I wanted to go she her.  I have a vested interest in the election this year, and I feel it’s my duty to see to it that the Seventh Seal of the Apocalypse isn’t opened by putting a guy openly embracing fascism in to a position of power.  Plus, this year I’m in the bag for Hillary, so I figured, well, why not go?  I’ve never been to one of these thing before, and it’ll be fun.  Remember this last line, ’cause…

Right after work I went home and did my shot, then changed bags.  The Secret Service wasn’t letting people in with big bags, so I pulled out one that only carried my keys, wallet, and phone.  Then down to the streets and the almost-thirty minute walk to get in line.

And, yeah:  there was a line.

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This was when I first approached the area, and you can see the TSA scanners in the middle of the pictures.  Everyone going in got scanned for obvious reasons.  But this wasn’t the back of the line.  That was, um, in the back.

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This is where I ended up, where I sort of cut in line close to a couple of people I somewhat knew:  someone from my trans support group, and Dr. Rachel Levine, the states Physician General.  So I sort of slid into position and acted natural.  Did I feel bad about this?  No.  Let’s move on.

Now to give you a bit of an idea of the set up last night, here’s a Google Map of the area:

Hillary Rally 0729201620

The building on the right just below the “Broad Street Market” marker is where the rally was being held.  And where I was standing when I took the picture above?  Look down 3rd Street to the left and you’ll see Brother’s Pizzeria.  I was standing right in front of that place.  Oh, and Brother’s actually locked their doors right about the time I got in line because they were almost out of pizza dough due to people in line running in to get slices.  Hungry business, these political rallies.

Oh, and I shot video while in line:

When I shot the above it was about 6 PM/18 hours, and we wouldn’t get to the check points for about another ninety minutes.

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And this part, standing in the sun, was the worst.  It was close to 90 and the humidity was up, so it was unpleasant.  I wore a light top, capri jeans, and sandals.  I did my best, I assure you, to keep the internal heat down, and I was sweating like crazy.

Finally we get through the checkpoints–I set off the alarm like I always do, there must be too much iron in my blood–and we headed into the rally area.

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That woman standing on the podium is where the speaking would take place, and Hillary’s bus would park behind her for a great back drop.  There were camera podiums behind and to the right of me in the picture, and the Broad Street Market is on the left.

The area for the rally wasn’t large–here’s the layout:

Hillary Rally 0729201621

The black line is where people were gathered.  The speaker’s podium is right where it says “St” for N 3rd St, and the blue rectangle is where the bus parked for a nice backdrop.  I decided I wanted to get as close as possible and found myself right below that N 3rd St marker, and waited.

Hillary Rally 0729201607

I had a great spot, I was ready to get picture, I was ready to listen to the message.

And then…  shit took a turn for the worst.

I started getting short of breath.  Then I started feeling light headed.  Then my hands were shaking.  And I had trouble thinking.  And I felt sick to my stomach–

If you’re thinking, “Sounds like Cassidy’s about to pass out,” you win Final Jeopardy!  I actually managed to sit down in the crowd before I went over, which I knew was coming.  Someone called the paramedics–who, by the way, were working their asses off–and they helped me get about half-way to the cooling area.  And by half-way, I mean everything started turning gray about that time and they got me a chair pronto because I was about to pass out.  I sat there for about five to ten minutes recovering, and my biggest fear was if I passed out I was going to loose my bowels, because I felt like that was going to happen.  No way did I want that.

I finally got to the cooling area, and joined the other people there–

Hillary Rally 0729201616

Who pretty much all happened to be women about my age.  There was a time back before I started on the estrogen trip that I may have been able to tough out this stuff, but not now.  I sat and cooled off, had my blood pressure taken–I was told it was way down, which is why I was passing out–sipped water while I got my color back, and adjusted to my new view:

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And as the speakers came on I shot more video:

Now, given where I was, I didn’t get any good shots of the speakers.  The best I could do was this:

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The best came out grainy and overexposed.  However!  I ran into a friend, and she not only manage to get better pictures, but she messaged them to me at the rally.  That means I got–

Hillary Rally 0729201614

Bill Clinton doing all the introductions and being about as charming and articulate as always.

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Tim Kaine doing the next introduction and actually being pretty funny as he got in a lot of digs on–well, that other guy.  And after about ten minutes that led to him introducing the speaker of the night:

Hillary Rally 0729201615

So what did Hillary say?  She touched on funding infrastructure and a smart energy grid and renewable energy, all of which are close to my heart as I love stuff like that.  She talked about working to make it so people could refinance and reduce debt on existing student loans, and work towards making tuition not only affordable, but something you’re not going to have hanging around your neck forever.  A better program with less red tape for small businesses, and more apprenticeship programs for skilled trades, which is something that has slowly vanished with the decline in unions.  (I’ve been in both the United Steel Workers and United Auto Workers, and I saw a lot of apprenticeships in each of the locations where I worked.)  And more funding and support for teachers, because without education, we’re really nothing.

It was a good time all around, even if I couldn’t get in close to the stage to see, I could hear, and that was really why I was there–

Well… not the only reason.

As soon as the speech was over a lot of people filed out, and a lot of people made their way forward to shake hands with the candidates.  And I wanted to do the same.  So I went back into the crowd feeling light-headed and a little ill, and pushed through until I was up near the front, in the area that everyone would pass before heading back into the bus.  Which, by the way, was right there in front of me.

Hillary Rally 0729201618

So I waited about ten minutes, pressed between two guys far bigger than me, and Hillary came around the corner.  She was shaking hands and taking selfies with people, and seemed in good spirits even though she had to be hotter than hell in her pink suit.  (I said later that I should have told her it’s now Wednesday, ’cause us Mean Girls understand what that means.)

And right on time, here she comes.  And the meeting went like this:

Me:  “Madam President!”  *holding out hand*  (Yes, I said that.  Don’t care.)
Hillary:  “Hello!”  (Now I’m left-handed, so I had my left hand out and she switched quickly from her right to left.)
Me:  “Madam President, can I have a picture with you?”
Hillary:  “Oh, sure!”

At this point I start to stick the phone out, but because I’m in a bad position, she actually asks for my phone and hand it to an aid and says, “She’ll take our picture.”

And she did:

And #ImWithHer

And #ImWithHer

Yeah, I look like a seal just come out of the water expecting a fish, and because of all the bright lights from the media platform behind us it’s not the best, but still:  I have this, and it shows I met someone who has an excellent chance at being president.  I was also blabbering like an idiot because I get that way with people I admire.

About thirty minutes later, when I was up cooling off in front of the capitol building, I saw their convoy heading out of town:  three buses, a whole lot of Secret Service SUVs, and a police escort.  I got home and hit the shower ’cause I was a sweaty mess.  And though I didn’t get to bed until midnight because even though I was tired and sore and felt a little like I’d been hit a couple of times in the head and stomach, I was still in good moods, because I was riding a high–

The one that comes when you feel like you’ve somehow touched history in the making.