The Kali Test: Surprise Setup

Last night was another thousand word session,  my first back-to-back writings in about a month, and I nearly brought this scene to an end.  Almost, but not quite.  I’ll probably finish it up tonight.

But we start The Kali Test, as I call it, right here and now.  Although I warn you, it’s probably going to be Wednesday before you see the kids kicking ass.  Which means tomorrow are the rules and today–today is the setup…

 

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

 

The moment Helena entered Gwydion Manor she noticed something was different—specifically, instead of there being the half dozen or so students who normally took Advanced Self Defense class on Sunday morning, about forty students were standing around looking as if waiting for something to happen. Though she didn’t often come out to watch a self-defense class, she knew the only time these sort of crowds appeared in the Manor was when a judgment trial was about to take place.

And she knew for a fact that nothing that was about to happen in the next fifteen to twenty minutes had anything to do with the judgment trial.

Helena spotted Ramona off to one side of the testing area speaking with a student. She spotted someone else: Isis was here, standing about six meters away an examining something on her tablet display. It wasn’t normal for her to be here as it wasn’t necessary for her to be present during this or any test. Unless, of course, she was here to check out something that was needed for the test, like equipment she may have installed—

The moment she saw Ramona heading in her direction Helena raised her head to gain her attention. The martial arts instructor headed for her directly and greeted her with a slight smile. “Glad to see you made it.”

“Wouldn’t have missed this for the world.” Helena stepped closer to to her fellow instructor and turned so her back was towards the majority of the milling students. “What the hell is going on? Why are all these students here?”

“Oh, this.” Ramona looked around and switched to Esperanto to answer the question. “You can thank Isis for this. Apparently she sent out an email before breakfast inviting students to the Manor to watch a training exercise.” Her left eyebrow raised slowly as she turned her gaze in the direction of the Chief of Security. “It certainly wasn’t my idea.”

Helena was surprised to hear this, as it was unusual, if not out of the ordinary, for Isis to interject herself in daily classwork. The Chief of Security never became involved with the instructor’s classes unless there is a security concern that needed addressing—and even then she herself rarely became involved. Unless…

She pointed in the tall woman’s direction. “What’s she checking on her tablet?”

 

So what better way to kick this test off than to make it a public spectacle, yeah?  It seems like a hit as well, since about a third of the student body has shown to watch Annie and Kerry beat up on the newly created undead, which means no pressure at all.

There’s also something else going on here–

 

Ramona nodded toward the test area. “Look out there; what you see?”

Helena tried to follow Isis’ gaze and immediately notice what was drawing her attention. “Damn, there’s a lot of Spy Eyes in the room.”

“Two dozen.” Ramona crossed her arms as she glanced over at Helena. “I was told last night after the Midnight Madness that one of Isis’ people going to be out here installing them for the test.”

Helena turned back toward Ramona, not caring if any students saw her speaking. “Why the hell would she be out here installing all these Spy Eyes?” Her eyes narrowed slightly. “What the hell’s going on?”

“Additional instructions.” Even though she was speaking in Esperanto Ramona kept her voice low so that the conversation didn’t travel beyond the two women. “When I sent off that acknowledgment the other day, I received additional instructions in return.”

“On?”

“I’m not permitted to tell you until after this test.”

Helena felt her jaw tighten. “What is this shite?”

Ramona held up a hand. “Not only did I get instructions, but Isis received them as well; I only found out about them last night after the Midnight Madness when she and I were walking back to the Instructors Residence.” She held up her tablet. “This morning she gives me additional instructions on how this test is to be conducted: I’ve had about fifteen minutes to review them.” She lowered the tablet to her side and returned to speaking English. “It’s all that damn compartmentalization: they don’t want one group aware of what the others doing, all the way down the line.”

It was impossible for Helena to argue, for she was certain Ramona was correct. She knew the Guardians were far more secretive than any of their other contemporaries in The Foundation, but this sometimes led to the same sort of secrecy taking hold in each of the individual headquarters. And when it came to the Special Operations and Procedures Division, better known as SOP, they were known for sometimes taking secrecy to a new level.

But what bothered Helena the most wasn’t that Ramona and Isis were given separate duties after they were told of the test, it was that someone in San Francisco had decided that it wasn’t necessary for Helena to know about these changes.

She was about to ask Ramona another question when self-defense instructor nodded at something behind Helena. “Here they come.”

 

Spy Eyes are magical little floating cameras that can be thrown up to monitor just about anything–like, say, a flight by A Levels to nearly two miles above sea level.  Here, two dozen are being used to keep track of the test, and that’s…  well, it’s a lot.  Someone doesn’t want to miss a beat.

And now we get an idea of why Ramona probably said, “That’s interesting.”  Someone high up out in San Fran didn’t want Helena to know about changes in the test.  And Isis did the same to Ramona.  That damn compartmentalization the spooks love so much is being used like mad here, and pretty much all the players are feeling the effect.

Now Annie and Kerry are here, so listen up:  the rules are gonna get laid down…

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The Final Definition of Darkness

Well, here I am, nice and warm at home.  Right now Harrisburg is buried under more than a few inches of snow, and while I don’t have an actual figure, just looking outside tells me it’s enough to keep people in.

 

What I saw this morning.

 

Here, too.

Yes, the pictures are correct: I was up at 5 o’clock this morning, my normal time, and I’ve been taking care of business ever since.  I didn’t take care of much business last night as I was at a Planned Parenthood rally and a press conference, both of which kept me out until 8 PM.  Once again, I’m being a bad activist girl getting out and doing things besides writing. I should be able to do some of that today, though around noon I’m actually going to go out and go to a blizzard party at our local microbrewery. Which means I’m a completely different kind of bad girl there…

Don’t worry, I will get some writing in tonight–or this afternoon–or whenever.  But it will get done.

In the meantime, were going to end the scene with Annie and Isis going over Blend With Shadows, were any answers the last question put to her by the Chief of Security–

 

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

 

For a moment Annie thought she was being given a trick question, but quickly brushed that notion aside when she realized Isis would never do something like that. This is another test. I suppose Helena meant she wasn’t going to give me any more tests, but she said nothing about Isis… A few moments later the answer came and Annie was surprised she hadn’t seen it initially. “You can walk through the wall.”

Isis’ smile was bright in the darkness of the room. “Correct. You could walk on either side of the shadow at its base, which is essentially the same thing as walking outside or inside the shadow. Or you could walk along the top of the shadow, which is essentially the same thing as creating a large Shadow Ribbon and moving along the shadow as if it were a floor.

“Or, you could walk inside the shadow. Just like you can create a pocket space within a few millimeters of the surface of the shadow, you can learn to walk within those few millimeters and be completely undetectable to the people around you. And unlike Shadow Cage, you’re completely cognizant of the world around you, because the shadow is translucent from your point of view.” The security chief appeared pleased with herself. “It’s really a marvelous feeling. It’s even more marvelous when you realize that because you exist within the insubstantialness of a shadow, you yourself are also insubstantial. That means someone can walk right through you and never know they’ve done so.”

Annie grimaced at the idea that someone could pass straight through her while she was inside a shadow even though she was a physical being. It was then she was struck by another thought— “It’s almost like being an astral being existing within the Physical Realm.”

Isis grinned as she pointed a finger at Annie. “Yep. Now you’re catching on. The reality is you treat the shadow almost as if it is a version of the Astral Realm existing within the Physical Realm. When you think of it in that manner, the concept of being able to move through the shadow unseen becomes even easier.”

Treating a shadow as if it were part of the Astral Realm—with Deanna preparing to teach Kerry and I how to walk about in that same realm. It can’t be a coincidence. But Annie didn’t have time to wonder about possible coincidences: Isis was explaining how this difficult spell could be visualized, and Annie could see herself using it within her mind’s eye.

She forced herself to keep her hands at her side as she felt the excitement of mastering this new magic swell inside. “When do we begin?”

The mischievous sparkle they had entered Isis’ eye when she first began to discuss the spell with Annie returned. “We can begin anytime you’re ready.”

This time Annie did bounce on the balls of her feet. “I’m ready now.”

Isis motioned to the shadows she had previously stepped from. “Then get ready to step into my other office…”

 

There you have it: Annie is starting to visualize how Isis performs this magic, and as we know by now visualization is one-third the process of crafting a spell.  And if there’s one thing we know Annie excels at, it’s crafting spells.  Just what we need: a little Bulgarian sorceress who can fly into a shadow and vanish.  It’s a good thing she’s not a snoopy ass girl, or her enemies would be living in fear.

“No, you have nothing to fear from me. It’s not like I’ll hear it when you call me a stuck-up bitch like you did last night…”

Yeah, safe to say that once others in the school find out Annie can do this should become an even scarier girl–of course, this is assuming she’ll learn how to master the spell, but who are we kidding?  Annie’s like a little bulldog when it comes to magic.

Now that we know what Annie is doing on this September Tuesday night, why don’t we pop over to Advanced Transformations and see what Kerry’s doing.  Something big, I’m sure…

The Definition of Shadows

Thousand word day–yes, I had it.  I had a lot to do yesterday but writing over a thousand words was one of the things on my get it done list.  I also thought about the physics of time spells in the Normal world, which made my head hurt, but someone’s gotta think about that.

Speaking of spells Isis is about to start her talk about Those Shadows, and it’s time to bend your brain just a little…

 

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

 

Annie stepped back from Isis and spoke with confidence. “I’ve not read much on the spell, though from what I have read, it seems there’s a bit of confusion as to whether or not it’s a variation of the Light Bending spell.”

Isis’ eyebrows shot upward for just a second. “Why did it seems like there’s confusion?”

“Some of the people writing on the matter believe that Blend with Shadows couldn’t be the same as Light Bending because the lack of light made that task impossible.”

“So you agree with the concept that darkness is nothing more than the absence of light, and that shadow is nothing more than those areas where light is unable to penetrate fully.”

Annie took a moment to scratch at the corner of her mouth with her right index finger nail. “I know what Normal science says, but you and I both know that Normal science is often at odds with Aware magic and superscience.” She nodded her head slightly to the right. “Knowing what I know of The Art and spell crafting, and having a working knowledge of Shadow Ribbons, I’m certain there’s more to shadows than a simple lack of light.”

A smile appeared on Isis’ face. “Right you are. As you know from your understanding of Shadow Ribbons, a shadow is insubstantial and has substance simultaneously: it’s simply a matter of being able to craft the spell so that one can make the best of both.” Isis slipped into a moment of thought. “You haven’t gotten to the spell yet, but do you understand the concept behind Shadow Cage?”

Annie gave a quick nod. “Yes. The concept seems similar to Hammerspace in that you create a hidden pocket within the shadow.”

“That’s correct. You’re actually creating a bubble of space within an area that may be only a few centimeters deep. Like you say: the concept is very similar to that of Hammerspace and that you’re creating a pocket storage area pretty much out of nothing.

“Blend with Shadows is a little different in that you’re not creating a pocket within the shadows, but rather—” Isis searched her memory for a few seconds. “Imagine a sheer wall thirty meters high yet only about five centimeters thick. Now imagine you had not learned Levitation or Adhesion, yet you’ve decided you want to walk the length of the wall, which is a couple of hundred meters long.” Isis eyed Annie hard. “How could you walk from one end of the wall to the other?”

There were only two possible solutions that Annie saw to this problem. “You can either walk along the base of the wall, or you could carefully walk along the top of the wall.

Isis nodded. “Those are the two most obvious solutions. But you missed the third: what is it?”

 

This is one of those scenes where I really had to figure out what is actually happening in magic and how it’s being visualized.  It’s what I did in the Transformation class and I’m now doing with Advanced Spells–and this is one of the reasons writing goes slow at times.  ‘Cause making this stuff isn’t always easy.

This should finish up tomorrow, which means I’ll still be five or six thousand words ahead of you, and then–

Oh, wait:  I’m gonna be under snow tomorrow.  Should have plenty of time to write.

Ground Rules For the Darkness

Here I am, once again, doing the blogging thing after a Saturday of political fun and going to the movies.  The political stuff was interesting, though there was one dude who decided that all our talk of women’s abortion rights was leaving him feeling a bit “excluded”, which I took to mean he didn’t want to hear about it.  In the movie going stuff involved to meeting a friend for a quick dinner at a Japanese noodle restaurant and then watching Hidden Features at an old theater next door.

A shot from where we sat in the balcony. Be Jelly.

Once again there wasn’t any writing last night, but I’ve made up for that by doing almost six hundred words this morning and will likely do more tonight, bringing the day to thousand word total.  Oh, and if started on the new scene which deals with the time spells Wednesday is going to teach in her Advanced Spells class.

See? Not lying.

In the meantime were back in the Witch House with Isis and Annie having a quaint conversation while Helena looks on.  And the discussion has to do with the spell Blend With Shadows, which Annie wants to learn…

 

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

Isis tipped her right index finger toward the girl. “Right you are on both accounts. Helena approached me last week and asked if I’d help out: she figured in three weeks time I can give you enough of the fundamentals that you’d likely be able to perform the spell on your own without difficulty.” She took a moment to adjust her stylish red glasses and brushed a strand of hair from her face. “The only condition I gave Helena  is I’d like to be out here by twenty forty-five at the latest so I can get back to the residence and spend some time with Wednesday.”

“I don’t have an issue there.” She cast a satisfied glance in Helena’s direction. “I feel three weeks of instruction should be enough time. Is that what you feel as well?”

Helena nodded. “Given how quickly you picked up Shadow Ribbons I don’t see you having an issue with this.” She scratched her forehead just above her left eyebrow. “Of course, it’s entirely up to you as to how comfortable you are with the pace of Isis’ instruction.”

“It shouldn’t be an issue.” Isis shook her head. “Since we’ve worked together before Annie is familiar with how I teach.”

“And since I didn’t have a problem last year, I don’t imagine I’ll have another this year.” Annie smiled broadly as she turned to Helena. “Are you going to observe, or are you going to try to learn the spell as well?”

“Observe only.” Helena hooked her thumbs in the belt loops of her black jeans. “Though I’m adapt with the other spells in the Shadow Disciplines, this Blend with Shadows shit is, quite frankly, spooky as fuck, and that makes it something with which I’d rather not deal.”

Annie was somewhat shocked to hear Helena say she found a certain spell somewhat “spooky”. She was aware the head sorceress knew nearly every Morte spell as well as a dozen other spells that one could use to kill another person, so it was a bit disconcerting to hear her admit there was a spell that made her uncomfortable. “But it doesn’t bother you to be here while we’re practicing, does it?”

“Oh, hell no.” Helena gave her head a quick shake. “I don’t mind watching; I just don’t want to walk in the shadows like you two.” She gave Isis a wave of her hand as she headed toward the table. “She’s all yours. Have fun.”

“Oh, we will.” Isis turned Annie with a mischievous sparkle in her eye. “First off: tell me what you know about Blend with Shadows.”

 

You have to find it interesting that there is a spell that Helena finds “spooky as fuck”.  This is a woman who can kill without a moment’s hesitation, but she’s slightly creeped out by the fact that someone at the school can actually become one with the shadows and move among them without being detected.  Which makes you wonder: if and when Annie learns the spell–and the odds are more “when” than “if”–how Helena’s going to act around her since Annie will be able to do the same shadow blending.  Does this mean there will be times when Annie hides in a shadow at the Witch House so she can sneak up on Helena and yell “Boo!”  Won’t that be a lot of fun?

Then again, I know it Annie’s going to wear as her costume for the Samhain dance, so maybe being able to walk in the shadows will fit perfectly with her character.

Which means right now you’re probably wondering what she’s going wear…

Catching Up on the Magical Small Talk

So last night I was a snowflake–

That’s right:  when I went to my Planned Parenthood dinner I went as a Snowflake Supporter, so I can say that besides being a card carrying member of the ACLU, I’m also a snowflake.  Boom.  Suck it, haters.

The funny thing last night was running into people who are doing some of the same political stuff I’m doing, and even one person who worked with me on the Clinton campaign.  We’re all over the place.  Obviously I’m in good company.

Now, something interesting before getting into the story.  An article was posted on Avclub about rules that writers follow, and after reading the article I realize I violated Elmore Leonard’s rule about never starting a novel where you talk about the weather–I did that twice.  But in the article someone suggested that all novels could be improved if the second line of the book was, “And then the murders began.”

So, just to show you how improved my work is by following this rule, here are the first and second lines of my last three novels:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015, by Cassidy Frazee)

 

The mountains were bright under the morning sun, though the light had yet reached many of the surrounding valley floors. Within the hour every valley in and around Pamporovo, Bulgaria, would bathe in sunshine, but for now most were enveloped in quiet shadows.

And then the murders began.

 

 

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

 

“ . . . Half the summer gone, and another half to go, and I miss you more every day. I can’t wait until the travel packages come, cause that means I’ll only have to wait another two week before I see you again. And then I can be happy once more.

“And then the murders began…

 

 

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

 

What bothered Annie Kirilova the most this morning was the weather. She had hoped for a bright sunshine, but what she received instead was light rain and low cloud cover. The rain also left the temperatures hovering in the low teens Celsius, which kept her out of shorts and forced her into leggings to wear with her long, flowing top and black ballet flats.

And then the murders began.

 

As you can see, all three books are drastically improved!  So much so I may leave them that way.  Though…  probably not.  I don’t think Annie wants to read about murders in the Malibey household.  Also, any of your writers out there reading this:  do the same in the comments with your books and I’ll post them.

What she does want, however, is some quality time in the Witch House with the Head Sorceress and the Chief of Security–

 

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

 

Annie opened her hand and the baston vanished. “With the testing I’ve encountered this evening I had to wonder if you were going to attack me after I left myself defenseless.”

Isis chuckled. “You, defenseless? Please.” She shook her head. “No way in hell is that true. I know better than that.”

Annie’s right eyebrow arched upward. “The why did you just say you didn’t know I could create a weapon so quickly?”

Isis and Helena exchanged looks for about three seconds before Isis sighed and nodded her head slowly. “I should know better than open my mouth.”

Helena finally stepped away from the table and slowly approached. “I thought you were supposed to be good at keeping secrets?” Helena moved alongside Isis and looked at Annie. “How are you feeling tonight?”

“Are you asking to make conversation?” The right corner of Annie’s mouth curled upward into a grin. “Or is this another test?”

“I’m asking as a friend.” Helena turned toward Isis. “God, what a suspicious little bitch.”

Isis crossed her arms. “Can’t imagine where she would have learned that from.”

“You can piss right off, too.” Helena’s expression softened as a slight smile came to her face when she turned back towards Annie. “No more tests like what you’ve already went through. From this point we get on to serious business. But I would like to know if you’re feeling well.”

 

You can probably imagine that Isis was going to do something to Annie and then tried to blow it off when she was caught before she had a chance.  You know Isis knows just how good Annie is when it cones to sorcery, ’cause it’s her job to know.  Not only is Annie good, but after all the shit she went through to make it up to that room, she figures that anything about to come her way is a test.  Yes, she is a suspicious little bitch. ’cause that’s how her instructor made her.

But there is a soft side to Helena as well…

 

Though Annie was aware that to the school’s general population considered Helena to be an unapproachable bitch with a hair-trigger temper, the two years she had spent in her presence taught her that the head sorceress could be a warm and affable person in the right situations. She has to come across as mean when were in class, for just like here, everything that happens in the classrooms below are part of the test. “I feel great. Though I have to admit I felt a bit of trepidation when I learned I was reporting to the first floor.”

“I wanted to make certain we weren’t bothered by any pain in the arse students.” Helena gazed off to her right for a moment as she spoke. “They don’t normally come out here this time of night, but it would be our luck that tonight was the night someone decided to come out here and look for book they suddenly want to read in the main library.”

“Why not meet in the lower levels then?”

“It was time for a change of venue.” Helena cocked a thumb at the woman to her left. “Besides, I didn’t want her to think we spend all our time under the ground like a bunch of moles.”

By now Annie at figured out why Isis was here, so rather than ask she address the security chief directly. “You’re going to teach me Blend with Shadows, aren’t you?”

Now it was Isis’ turn to grin. “You’re quick on that assumption.”

Annie shrugged. “Not so much, actually. It’s my understanding you’re one of the only people at school, or the only person, who knows the Blend with Shadow spell, and since I’ve expressed an interest in learning the spell, it makes sense that Helena has asked you to come and teach me.” She crossed her arms as she shifted her weight to her left leg. “After all, that’s exactly the same thing you did with me last year once it was discovered I possessed the Flight Gift.”

 

So there we are:  Isis is probably going to instruct Annie in the Blend with Shadow, which means if Annie learns this spell and masters it, she’ll become just a little more dangerous.  Good thing Isis is aware of that–

I wonder when she’ll get her Licence to Kill?

Here There Be Shadows

As I mentioned to one of my fans I’m a busy girl.  Oh, and now a member of the ACLU.  Yes, I went to a mixer presented by them last night and paid my dues when I got home.  So I’ll have my card by the end of April and head towards my birthday as a first-time member.  Yay me!  And tonight I’m hanging with people from Planned Parenthood, so the struggle continues.

The novel continues, albeit a bit slower, because The Resistance is important at the moment.  But I’m getting there five hundred or so words at a time, so keep watching this space ’cause my kids are coming.

And speaking of that, one of them has moved into a spooky place…

 

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

 

the ground floor was gloomy the first floor of the Witch House was bathed almost entirely in darkness. The light sources here were few and emitted only the dimmest light and Annie half expected to step into the T intersection a few meters ahead and find the hallway lined with lit torches. But she didn’t need torches, for down the hall, second door on the right, a faint light came from inside a room. It was possible this was another test, but in reality she believed Helena was waiting for her there.

As Annie suspected Helena stood in the middle of the semi dark room. There was a small light source in the far left-hand corner offering the only illumination. Helen stood alongside a circular table maybe two and a half meters across round which were placed three chairs. The head sorceress smiled as her pupil into the room. “I see you made it past the enchantment.”

“I required some direction from Sabrina.” Annie looked about the room as she allowed her eyes to adjust. “Your message didn’t indicate what we are going to cover tonight. Are we going to do something with Shadow Disciplines?” Since becoming proficient with Shadow Ribbons by the middle of her A Levels, Annie had been eager to learn the other two spells in this discipline, Shadow Net and Shadow Cage.

Helena picked up a bottle of water from the table and slowly unscrewed the top. “In a way, yes.”

Annie gave her a puzzled look. “What does that mean?”

The sorceress spent about five seconds taking a drink; when she was finished she screwed the top back on the bottle and set it down. “As a Guardian, shouldn’t you always be aware of your surroundings?”

“I checked the room when I entered.” Annie was instantly on her guard. “You are the only one here.”

Helena leaned against the table. “Are you certain?”

 

Annie’s eager to get on with those Shadow Disciplines, because maybe she wants to use them to keep Kerry from leaving the house when she wants him home?  Naw, Annie is a bad ass and wants all the skills that go with that title.  Which is why she’s with Helena.

However…  When you walk into a dark room where the only person is Helena and she asks if you are sure she’s the only one there, you better have your backup plan ready:

 

“I’m—” Almost immediately Annie knew she was being tested and that there was someone else in the room. With only seconds to figure out the threat she quickly analyzed her surroundings once more and tried to figure out where the threat lay. There’s only one light source and the room is full of shadows, that Helena says were not doing Shadow Disciplines—no, she said were doing the spells in a way. Which means it’s something that isn’t specifically a Shadow Discipline. And that means

She quickly crafted ball lightning in her right hand and molded into a magical baston as she wheeled to her right. Annie moved her left hand into a striking position as she pointed her baston at the shadow to her right rear—the one that now seemed to be moving towards her. “Stop, Isis. I know it’s you.”

The motion within the shadow stopped and a portion of it protruded, quickly becoming human sized. A moment later the darkness peeled back revealing Isis Mossman, the school’s Director of Security, standing two meters away, dressed in a tee shirt, jeans, sneakers. “You’re pretty quick with that weapon.” She brushed away some imaginary dust from her top as she looked over at a grinning Helena. “You didn’t tell me she could form one of those things that quickly.”

Helena shrugged. “You’re Director of Security; I figured you’d know.”

“I do now.” She turned to Annie, who still held the magical baston. “You can put that away. It’s not like I’m going to hurt you.”

 

There likely aren’t many people who can surprise Isis at the school, but one has to wonder what she would have done if she’d been able to sneak up on Annie?  Probably just put a magical knife to her neck and threaten to cut her throat–which may have provoked a response Isis might not have wanted.  Maybe one day we’ll find out.

Right now, though, it looks like Annie is about to learn how to walk into some shadows…

The New Tradition

Chapter Thirty is a go, and more of a go than I’d imagined.  That’s due, in part, to a lot of re-figuring of this section that I’ll actually discuss more once I get to the end of this excerpt.  For now, let’s get into the morning, which isn’t going to be as long as the last we just visited–

 

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

The overcast to the east was slightly lighter than the rest of the sky as Annie reached the Flight School only moments after the alarm on Kerry’s phone sounded, indicating the time as five-thirty. At a time when most students were sleeping in or just starting their Friday morning, Annie and her always-present chase pilot were getting ready for her biggest solo flight—

But first they needed to get through the pre-flight ritual.

Annie found it unusual to find an after-dinner email from Vicky indicating the time she needed to report to the Flight School, but more importantly how she wanted her breakfast prepared. She asked Kerry about this when they met a few minutes later before heading out for a relaxing evening in their tunnel hideout, but all he’d tell her was that he’d received an email as well, and that Vicky asked him not to say anything about what was going to happen in the morning. Try as she could short of quickly brewing a Draught of Submission, there wasn’t a thing Annie could do to make Kerry give up this secret.

Upon entering the Hanger Annie headed to the spiral staircase and proceeded to the second floor, as the email had instructed. She headed down the long corridor to the Flight Deck, but instead of entering that room she stopped before the last door on the right and knocked.

Vicky answered the knock, half-opening the door. “Ah, right on time.”

“Yes.” Annie put on her best smile. “Can we come in now?”

“Certainly.” Vicky stood aside allowing unobstructed access. “Nikh’nas.”

 

That last part is “Enter” in Hebrew, because Vicky being Jewish and all, and this is the first time we’ve actually heard her say anything in that language.  She’s proficient enough that she could hold a conversation with a native speaker, but that likely doesn’t happen much.

Also:  doesn’t Annie have feminine wiles she can use on Kerry to get him to tell her things?  After all, they did spend the evening in their “tunnel hideout”, as Annie calls it, and that means they were alone and Annie–well, she could have asked or cajoled or whatever, right?  She must be losing it.

So what is this ritual Annie must perform that is so important Kerry is willing to take the secret to his grave?

 

The moment she was inside Annie quickly scanned the room. There wasn’t much to see: a few chairs along the side walls, two projection screens on the far wall, a long table with two chairs facing them in front of the screens, a podium in the right-hand corner.

What drew her attention, however, was a second table in the middle of the room situated five meters from the other table, with two chairs set facing the far wall. Before each chair were two plates of food, a tall glass containing a beverage, silverware, and a napkin. While each of the smaller plates and the glasses were different, both of the larger plates contained the same thing: a steak and two eggs prepared sunny-side up, though the steak in the left-hand plate was much smaller than the one on the right.

Isis, wearing jeans and a sweater, stood on the other side of the middle table. The moment Vicky closed the door the security director motioned the couple forward. “Good morning.”

Annie stood behind the chair on the left, holding the back lightly in both hands. “Good morning.” She examined the plates of food. “I take it this is why we’re here so early?”

“It is indeed.” Isis spread here arms wide. “The traditional final solo breakfast of steak and eggs.” She chuckled. “Though you two are only the second to partake in this particular tradition.”

Kerry stood behind his chair examining the plate before him. “Oh?”

“Yes. I’ve only done this for one other student. It’s been a tradition elsewhere for fliers elsewhere, and I thought, what the hell? May as well do the same here.” She nodded towards the kids. “We know how you guys normally sit, so everything is laid out as expected.”

 

Steak and Eggs is the title of this scene, and I’d decided a long time ago–even before I began plotting this novel–that Annie was going to get this breakfast before heading out on her final solo flight.  There’s reasons for this, and they’re going to get brought up in the next scene, but for now–yeah, she’s getting steak for breakfast.

Now, about the changes:  I’ve said before that while I do a lot of plotting nothing is actually written in stone.  I mapped out all three of Annie’s solo flights, but after getting the first two out of the way, once I began re-examining the final one, I saw that it left me wanting.  So I set about changing it, and in doing so I had to change the time lines and a few other things–one of which was using a specialized web tool so I could figure out compass headings.

You can't see any of that stuff yet, but just wait.

You can’t see any of that stuff yet, but just wait.

Most of all, though, I changed the date.  Originally Annie’s solo flight was Saturday morning, 13 April, 2013, but as I wrote this scene, and as I remembered why this scene was developed in the first place, I realized that I was missing something incredibly important.  So the date was moved up to Friday, 12 April, and the reason for this is going to become painfully clear–

Though right now it’s probably clear only to me.