The Last Laps: Bothered on Blue

Welcome back to the Blog That Continues Spitting Out Work!  Just joking:  I’m in that sort of mood today.  The weather is getting warm and the days are enjoyable, so my mood is beginning to improve.  I seriously need to put a few more sun dresses in my wardrobe, or even something that I can wear that are light and flirty, but still be able to wear them to work.

This will do for now, especially on Wednesdays, 'cause as we know . . .

This will do for now, especially on Wednesdays, ’cause as we know . . .

Like I said yesterday the chances were good I was going to finish the scene I started Tuesday last night, and not only did I finish it, but I managed almost a thousand words doing so, and put the cap on the scene in time to sit down and watch The Americans.  It wasn’t very long, and with one last scene in Chapter Thirty-One, it’s possible this one will come in at just under six thousand words, making it a one of the shortest in the novel.  (The shortest is fifty-one hundred word, and I’m certain I’ll go over that count.)

Since Renxkyoko Iglesias said she couldn’t wait to see what Evildoer Lisa was going to do, don’t let me keep you from that.  But first, a little racing:

 

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

As they flew through Woodland Path Alex turned on the speed and put a dozen meters between her and Kerry by the time their exited the woods and headed into Selena’s Meadow. Kerry pushed himself trying to catch up, but with all on his mind on unimportant things, his willpower to force himself faster falter slightly. The only thing he could do was take a few chances—

He entered Meadow Climb at close to two hundred kilometers and hour and whipped the broom through the turn as he sped into the sky after Alex. The g forces were incredible, causing his vision to gray for a moment, an nearly blew two elevation gates in the process, but by the time he’d leveled out on the entry to Pentagram Pass Kerry was perhaps seven meters behind Alex, and he closed that to five by the time they reached Trench.

Kerry’s mind was no longer on the possibility of being wrecked. While he casts glances into his rear view every few seconds, his concentration was on the back of Alex’s broom, and the need to negotiate Quarry Turn perfectly and at high speed so he could try to stay close enough to Alex to make a run on her during their final lap on the Green Line. He was up and out of the woods and passing Observatory Tower as he set up to take Observatory Bend at as great a speed as he could, ‘cause he knew Alex as going to do the same.

He leaned forward and braced his elbows against the broom’s column as he entered the turn, seeing Alex do the same. The centrifugal force was brutal but Kerry kept his eyes on the girl in front of him and held tight. After a few seconds of agony they were both out of the turn, and while he hadn’t gained any distance on Alex, as they entered Skyway Kerry knew he hadn’t lost space either.

Since Helter Skelter was one of his favorite turns Kerry made it through and even managed to pick up a meter on Alex as they entered Residences. With a few seconds of relatively easy flying ahead, He checked his rear view—

Lisa was about four meters back, with four other fliers about three meters behind her.

Kerry felt a slight knot twist up in his stomach. He knew what she was going to try: she would attempt to close on him from Back Path to South Side Dive, then once they were in The Sweep, she’d try to wreck him. Just like she did that time with Anna and him. Since the race was almost over and she had no chance at a Top 10, getting parked wouldn’t hurt her, and with them both out of the race their coven standings wouldn’t take too much of a hit, though he’d finish out of the points and drop out of the Top 5—

He wasn’t going to let that happen. He pushed the broom harder as he jetted through Aerodrome.

It was only when he nearly missed an elevation gate at Back Path that Kerry realized he was still on about what Lisa might do and understood he was getting rattled. I’m over-thinking this, as usual, and doing this during a race is not the place . . . He cleared his mind, negotiated Van der Kroff Heights, and pushed onward.

Kerry held the left side of the course, setting up to enter South Side Slide. He shot a glance at the rear view and saw Lisa set. He ready himself for her to move on him hard—

 

When you get to the point where you over-think the fact that you overthink everything, then you’re spending too much time overthinking stuff.  And, after almost two years of school, there are probably people within the school walls who know Kerry tends to overthink things.  In short, Lisa is playing a mind game on The Ginger Hair Boy, and it rattled him just enough to get him spooky.  Kerry’s not a machine:  he has flaws, and this is one of them.  And as he suddenly realizes, overthinking on the race course is a bad idea.

Well, then:  what happens.  Kerry knows something bad is coming.  And he’s right–only it’s not what he expects . . .

 

Right then another flier dropped down in front of Lisa, slammed on their air brakes, and cut so hard to the right and down that Kerry thought they were going to lose control. Since he was setting up the turn from the left side of course, he adjusted his turn and followed the other flier down and to the left. Before entering The Sweep he checked behind him once more: the move at the start of South Side Slide ruined Lisa’s entry into the turn, and she’d not only lost several meters but was mired in with the group of racers behind him.

He pushed his broom through The Slide, the other racer hold their turn on his right through the outside of the turn. Once they were out of the turn and moving along Diamond Lane, Kerry flipped up his visor to see who was next to him—

The other flier’s visor flipped up, and Kerry immediately recognized the bright red bangs that belonged to Emma. A smile came to her eyes. “Someone last year told me that racing on brooms is three dimensional—” She glanced forward. “Funny how people tend not to look up.”

“Isn’t it?” He noticed that Alex was now about seven meters ahead and slowly putting distance on them. “You wanna race?” He nodded ahead as they neared The Diamond. “See if we can catch Alex?”

Emma’s eyes smiled back. “Hell, yeah.” She slapped her visor down and pushed her broom forward.

Kerry flipped his visor down and entered the Green Line at close to three hundred and seventy kilometers an hour, crossing the Start/Finish line maybe a third of a broom length. He didn’t need to worry about Lisa any longer, and he certainly didn’t need to worry about Emma. He eased his broom through Rockport Lane and focused on Alex. Three fliers competing for fourth— Kerry leaned slightly to the left. This is how the season should end.

 

Only fair that after Kerry helped out his wingmate with a smack down that got her back in line that she’d come and do something that might have let him finish the race in one piece.  Before you ask, let me answer:  yeah, Emma did something that she was technically warned on before the race.  However, no contact was made, she wasn’t screwing around with Lisa, and since we know people in Race Control were watching what was about to unfold, after the move they probably looked at each other, shrugged, and went back to checking out the last lap of the race.

And, no:  they couldn’t order Lisa not to do anything because this isn’t Minority Report and Salem doesn’t have a Pre-Crime Department, and as one of the best seers in the world–who, incidentally, is sitting in Race Control as this goes down–would say you can’t act on those visions ’cause you’re liable to make things worse if you do, all anyone can do is watch thing unfold and wait for the outcome.  Or maybe Deanna was back in Race Control telling everyone “Wait for it” and leaving things like that.  We’ll never know–well, you’ll never know.  I know.  Bawh, hahahahaha!

Anyway, one last scene to write for this chapter:

You can see it right there.

You can see it right there.

And there you’ll discover how the final standings of the final race of the season shake out.  I should be able to get to that before I need to take notes for tonight’s Orphan Black episode–

Tracking Through the Snow

Not a slow start to the morning, but a bit of one last night, because a new scene started and there was all the stuff I had to do for research and pictures and thinking how I’m gonna start–you know, the usual nonsense I go through with every scene for like the last six hundred or so thousand words.  One might imagine that I’d be used to this stuff by now . . .

At least I wrote nearly five hundred words before sitting down to watch Fargo, which is coming to an end next week.  And which is a shame, because I’ve enjoyed the hell out this season as much as I’ve enjoyed the last.  But all good things come to an end, Bunky, just as this novel will one day, as will this story.  Then it’s just muddle through the Christmas holiday season and the month of January, and make the best of the fact there’s nothing on to watch.  I’ve done it for two years in a row now, and I’ll make it through this year.

Maybe that gives me more time to write?

As you may have guessed by the title, I’m back to racing.  And it’s not a pleasant race.  Since the last time we saw Annie and Kerry it was the end of January, that means the calendar couldn’t have gotten advanced too much, and you’d be right.  To 9 February, 2013, to be precise.

Notes:  I haz them.

Notes: I haz them.

Remember, I keep all these little notes on the side of my scenes, and as you’ve seen before, this is another example.  I know what happens here, so I take the historical weather data I’ve located and apply it to a particular area of my fictional world–

Which would be this area for starts.

Which would be this area for starts.

And then I start on the first four hundred and fifty words . . .

 

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

Kerry roared through the Blue Line’s Woodland Path blasting icy haze behind him. Seconds later he entered Selena’s Meadow at better than two hundred and fifty kilometers an hour, his PAV sucking the light snow ground cover into his jet wash. He had no idea who was behind him, and wouldn’t until he reached Meadow Climb. He didn’t feel the steady wind out of the north northeast because he pushed his broom to three twenty-five kph and the minus twenty-five Celsius temps he’d felt for nearly the whole race returned.

He was happy this was the last of eight laps, because racing today was miserable as hell.

Kerry was in the primary race, the match between Cernunnos and Åsgårdsreia. Everyone knew today wouldn’t see the best flying conditions: the day before had been cold, windy, and snowy, and before the Midnight Madness began Professor Bashagwani advised all race teams to expect all of the same except for the snow. Come race time they discovered her forecast was correct save for one thing: in the early morning frozen fog covered everything with frost, and mist and haze remained once the fog vanished.

Each of the pre-race meeting warned the teams that they may face sections of limited visibility, particularly in the areas where the course skirted the ground. The racers were told to pay particular attention to conditions in The Trench, Quarry Turn, The Swoop through Diamond Lane, and Helter Skelter, though nearly every racer figured the respect they showed the last turn would be enough to prevent any serious issues there.

Kerry’s major concern wasn’t with the course, however. His real concern centered on Åsgårdsreia’s newest A Team members . . .

The prior week’s Battle Royale on the Green/Red Lines saw two members of Åsgårdsreia crash out against a member from Blodeuwedd as they headed into Sunset Boulevard. While all racers were out of the hospital, both the Åsgårdsreia were injured severely enough that Coraline refused to clear them for this week’s race, and that meant the coven needed to bring up replacement fliers from the B Team—

The two best fliers on Åsgårdsreia’s B Team were Anna Laskar and Lisa Glissandi.

Kerry was informed of the moves before leaving Advanced Flight One. Vicky pulled him aside and gave him the news. She reminded him that she and others were aware of his history with Lisa, but that he should just race his race and not worry that something could happen. As Vicky said, he knew all about how racing deals worked, and the only one who could keep him safe on the course was him.

He understood this perfectly, and let Vicky know he’d do everything he could to stay out of Lisa’s way.

 

And there you have it:  I’ve got the notes for the scene, I’ve got the location, and I’ve set up the action.  Now to tell you what’s going to happen . . .

A Trial of Judgment: The Final Reckoning  

We have come to the final moments, the last part of what ended up being a long scene, longer than I’d anticipated, or maybe not.  Sometimes I think these are gonna run longer or shorter and I’m always surprised.  But, no, I’m always a little surprised.

I did pass another milestone last night:  one hundred ten thousand words written.  And since I ended up with a little over twelve hundred words last night, I went one more and made it one hundred and eleven thousand.  It’s another nice point, and the next up are one hundred twenty thousand (of course), and one hundred twenty-five thousand, or an eighth of a million, if you’re fractionally inclined.  At the rate I’m zipping along I should reach one hundred and fifty thousand in about forty days, or some time around the end of September.

Here is it, nice and pretty, not hand drawn like Annie zapping someone.

Here is it, nice and pretty, not hand drawn like Annie zapping someone.

The match is over, so what happens next?  Well, things happen . . . and stuff.  Like–

 

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

“And stop.” Professor Chai raised her arms over her head as she issued the command. “Annie, please return to your starting position—” As Annie touched down, dissipated her magic, and walked back to where she’d begun the trial, the professor turned to Nurse Bianca, who had come over from the hospital and was now giving Rikkard a quick checkup. “Is he good?” Bianca nodded before patting the boy on the shoulder. “Good—” Ramona headed for the center of the mat and motioned for her two combatants to join her. “Please come.”

Annie walked slowly to the center of the mat and stopped about a meter from Rikkard, who seemed just a bit unsteady on his feet: she expected that was the reason Nurse Bianca a step behind him. The left few spells left her a bit winded, but that was passing quickly, and in another minute no one would know she’d just participated in her first judgment trial.

Ramona held out her hands to both combatants. “Please face each other—” They both adjusted their stances so they were face-to-face. “—and bow.” Both students executed a short bow, and for the first time since they’d met a slight smile appeared on Rikkard’s face. “I want to congratulate you both for the honor you showed each other, and the fact that there no penalties were registered against either of you.” She folded her hands across her torso. “Well done.”

Rikkard extended his right hand towards Annie. “Good match. And congratulations.”

Even though she wasn’t yet declared the winner, Annie was as aware of the outcome as the boy across from her. “Thank you.” She shook his hand. “And a good match from you as well.”

He exhaled slowly. “You should consider going out for your coven’s combat team.”

She shook her head. “I only fight when it’s necessary.”

His smile grew wider. “Probably best for the rest of us.”

“Rikkard, you may leave. You fought a good battle: thank you for your participation.” Ramona gave him a slight nod right before Bianca placed her hands on his shoulders and jaunted away. She then turned to the girl on her right. “Annie, you are the victor of this trial, and the moment has come to pass judgment. Do you which to continue?”

There wasn’t any need to ask Annie twice. “Yes, Professor.”

 

Rikkard is a good sport about getting his ass handed to him, and his remark about it probably being best Annie isn’t in a combat club is telling, because it would seem that most of the people he faces don’t have the same skills Annie has.  Probably because they aren’t little sorceresses who can handle their Morte spells . . .

It’s also sort of telling that he gets jaunted off to the hospital right away for a check-up, because Annie juiced his ass probably harder than Lovecraft zapped Kerry back when their first started.  Helena, however, was using “invisible” charges, which is to say she was using Kerry’s electrical field, the one generated by his body.  Annie’s not quite there, but she’s close to doing that.  She just needs a, um, “partner” for testing.

Now it’s judgment time, and Lisa has to pay the piper–and Annie isn’t playing a cute, dancy pop song right now–

 

Ramona turned her gaze upon the gathered students. “Lisa, please come forward.” The girl stepped away from a small group of students and slowly approached. “Come to the center of the mat and face Annie.” The professor waited until both girls were standing before her, facing each other. While Annie appeared calm and relaxed, Lisa seemed understandably pensive. “Lisa, your champion has lost this trial, and in accordance with trial protocol, you are required to face Annie’s judgment.” She turned to victor. “Annie, you have twenty-four hours to issue your judgment against Lisa—”

“I won’t need that much time, Professor.” Annie stared down the smoldering Lisa. “I’m prepared to pass judgment now.”

“You may proceed.”

“Thank you.” Annie’s eyes narrowed as she spoke the words she’d considered all through the afternoon’s Advanced Formulistic Magic. “Lisa, from now and until you leave this school for good, you will not speak ill of me, you will not make disparaging remarks, you will no longer make up lies about me in any public area where I could overhear you speaking.” She closed the distance between them by half, feeling Lisa’s anger burn into her. “What you said this morning was horrid and disgusting, and I will not stand for your crap any longer. I can’t control what you say about me in private, but should I ever hear you speak of me as you did today—or learn that you are the source of any nasty, perverted rumors—I will call you out again, and you will fight me without benefit of a champion.”

 

Now, it may seem like Annie should be making Lisa swab floors with her tongue, but keep in mind, if she went out of her way to lay something crazy on Lisa, Ramona would likely tell her, “No, do it again,” and Annie would need to regroup.  As it is, she just laid a gag order on Lisa to stop talking shit about her, and if she blows it, Annie’s gonna haul her back up to the manor and zap the shit out of her–which is not what Lisa wants to hear–

 

The mask of anger finally fell from Lisa’s face, and she grew panicky for the first time. She turned to Ramona. “She can’t do that.”

“Yes, she can.” Ramona spoke clear and slow. “It’s a common request from a victor that if the vanquished violates a judgment, they must enter another trial themselves.” Her head tilted slightly to the right. “As knowledgeable as you appear about judgment trials, I would have believed you’d know about that stipulation.” She turned back to Annie. “Do you have anything further to add, Annie?”

“No, Professor.” She tilted her head back just enough that it appeared she was looking down her nose at Lisa. “That is all.”

“Understood.” Ramona walked backwards a few steps and addressed every student in the room. “As Mistress of Judgments for the School of Salem I declare Annie’s judgment to be fair and evenhanded. Lisa—” She ignored the furious glare focused upon her. “—if you feel this judgment is unduly severe, you have forty-eight hours to appeal my decision, at which time I’ll bring the matter up before the Ruling Council. I should remind you that I have never had a decision overturned—” A slight upturn appeared at the left corner of Ramona’s mouth. “—though there’s always a first time.

“And with that . . .” Ramona spread her arms wide. “This Judgment Trial is over, and our business is concluded. It is now seventeen forty-six; leave now and you’ll make dinner by eighteen. Thank you for coming.” She bowed, turn, and walked off the mat and out of the room.

 

What Ramona did was, in her own way, let Lisa know she’s aware she gamed the system and lost, and if she wants to bitch about the outcome, fine, go do so, but you’re gonna lose.  Professor Chai doesn’t talk smack, but she is a firm believer in karma, and she’s knows the Karma Express pulled into the station and pretty much ran Lisa’s ass down.  Lisa’s not a Moriarty-like mastermind of intrigue:  she’s just a mean girl who thinks being a bitchy witch is cool.

She just picked the wrong person to screw with.

And someone close to Annie knows the same:

 

Annie didn’t wait to see if Lisa any something to say: she turned her back on the girl and walked towards Kerry, who had moved away from the crowd and was waiting for her just beyond the mat. “Did I disappoint?”

He shook his head. “Not in the least.” He waited until Annie had slipped on her flats before giving her a hug. “You were incredible. How do you feel?”

“Good. A little tired after that lightning shot, but—” She kissed him on the lips. “—I’m fine now.”

“So I see.” He kissed her back, holding it for several seconds. “I thought you might be tired because you’re so . . . calm. You should be really excited after that win.”

“Hum.” She shot him a impish grin. “That is not my style.”

“Oh, come on: just this once. Here—” Kerry slipped his arms around Annie’s thighs and lifted her into the air. “I’ll help you celebrate.”

Annie laughed, because she’d never had Kerry touch her this way, not with dozens of people standing around. But she liked the feeling of excitement that immediately filled her as she was hoisted into the air, and she realized he was right: she had every reason in the world to get excited, to celebrate a victory that she figured few in the room thought she’d achieve.

With Kerry holding her tight Annie leaned back and threw her arms into the air. She started laughing as she turned her gaze towards the ceiling, because not only did it feel wonderful to have emerged victorious, in that instant she realized on other thing: just like Helena, she’d given herself a reputation.

No one was going to make light of, or underestimate her, ever again.

 

Though you can probably imagine that some fool will, because now they know how Annie fights–at least in this environment–and they’ll try to match her moves and attack, because everyone wants to take out the fastest gun, right?  We’ve already shown that making Annie mad isn’t a good thing, and if you keep doing it–

You do it at your own risk.

A Trial of Judgment: Meet the Combatants

Time to go all A Song of Ice and Fire like with the post titles, ’cause we’re about to see some stuff go down here.  Yesterday you saw the opening paragraph to the scene, but now–well, wrote six hundred words last night and almost fourteen hundred and fifty words this morning, so that scene I thought would be about a thousand words ended up going double that.

And it's happening in that building, across from where Kerry likes to give Annie presents.

And it’s happening in that building, across from where Kerry likes to give Annie presents.

Let’s see how this sets up, because we already know it’s going down:

 

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

There were many Mistresses of Judgment since 1684, with three men joining the ranks during the Twentieth Century. Professor Ramona Chai, the martial arts and weapons instructor, was the current Mistress of Judgment, having assumed the roll when she began teaching during the 1999-2000 school year, and had done much in the last ten years to ensures combat was safe while also allowing witches to work out their differences by using all the skills they possessed.

Gwydion Manor was where all combat skills were taught, and it was here the witches of Salem settled their difference in Judgment Trails. This was Ramona’s world, and here her word was, for the most part, law. Such was her impartiality that not one of her judgments had been overturned by the Ruling Council of the school: the four administrative leaders—the Headmistress, Trevor, Isis, and Coraline—and the five Coven Leaders.

 

So this is something that’s been around a long time, with variations on the rules over the centuries.  At least we know Ramona isn’t going unleash zombies on Lisa and Annie, though that might make for some funny stuff, you know?

It goes without saying that any time you have an event with a few hundred years of history behind it, you’re going to have a bit of ritual to go with the proceedings.  It’s no different at Salem, where they still refer to the holidays by their old, traditional names:

 

There were nearly sixty students inside the Manor when Professor Chai stepped onto the fourteen by fourteen meter mat with the white ten meter competition circle set in the center. She waited for a hush to fall over the spectators before speaking. “I welcome all students to this trail, and ask that for the duration of the procedures that you remain behind the red line surrounding the mat, which is there for your own safety.

“We are gathered because there are two students who are unable to resolve their differences amicably, and the aggrieved party has requested a judgment by trial, which is the right of any student at Salem. This trial will proceed obeying the rules set down by the Mistresses of Judgment, from the first days of the school until the present.” Ramona scanned the gathered crowd. “And woe be unto those individuals who believe they are above those rules, for they will quickly discover they are not.” She looked straight ahead. “Now, who is the aggrieved party? Step forward and be recognized.”

 

And that’s it:  the game is afoot.  At his point Annie could just walk away . . .

 

Annie gave Kerry’s hand a long, firm squeeze before separating herself from the other students. She stopped at the edge of the white circle. “That would be me, Professor.”

Ramona waved her forward. “Remove your shoes and come to the center of the ring.” Annie so as instructed and entered the ring. “State your name, coven, and education level.”

Annie softly cleared her throat. “Annie Kirilova, Cernunnos Coven, B Level.”

“Welcome, Annie.” Ramona once more scanned the students beyond the mat. “Is the aggrieving party present? Step forward and be recognized.”

A few seconds later Lisa stepped out of the crowd, removed her shoes, and stepped onto the mat. “That would be me.”

“Come to the center of the ring; state your name, coven, and education level.”

Lisa stopped about three meters from Annie and crossed her arms. “Lisa Glissandi, Åsgårdsreia Coven, B Level.”

 

Everyone is now here with a whole bunch of people watching, getting ready to watch the magic fly.  Knowing that combat should be the last resort, Ramona explains the rules to both girls:

 

Ramona gave both girls a nod of acknowledgment. “Welcome to Gwydion Manor. Before we continue, I will ask: can this disagreement be resolved without combat? Lisa, as you are the aggrieving party, it is up to you to decide this mater.”

Lisa appeared to give the matter a few seconds of thought before shaking her head. She looked directly at Annie. “Bitch there wants a fight, she’ll get one.”

“I understand.” Ramona turned to Annie. “As the aggrieved party you have to right to walk away and ask for administrative punishment. There is no shame in reconsidering your decision and leaving the matter to the instructors.”

Annie had decided on her answer that afternoon during Advanced Formulistic Magic. “The things she said to me in front of the other students—” She shook her head. “I’m sorry, Professor: I can’t walk away.”

“I understand.” Ramona approached the two girl and stopped about two meters from them. “Then we will proceed with the Trial. As you may or may not know, a Judgment Trial allows an aggrieved student to seek their own justice from an aggrieving student. This justice is sought through combat, with the outcome varied. Should the aggrieved student win, they are allowed to pronounce a fair judgment upon the aggriever. I am the final arbiter of said judgment, and should I find it excessive I will demand modifications or, in some cases, a new judgment.

“Should the aggriever win, though, they escape judgment, and no further action shall be taken against them for that particular action.” She eyed Lisa hard. “They will be put on notice, however, that their continued bad action will likely result in their standing before me in this location once more.”

 

Ramona’s emphases on particular is to show that once this trial is over, their conflict for this matter is over.  Should Lisa start talking shit to Annie the moment they walk out of the building, Annie has the right to haul her ass right back inside and start again.  The teacher is also letting Lisa know that should she continue being a mouthy bitch, she’s gonna find herself standing on the mat again and again.

With things laid out, and knowing that it’s time to rumble, we can expect things to go smoothly–right?  Right?

 

Ramona paused to allow her words to sink in before continuing. “If there are no questions, we can—”

“I have one.”

Annie felt her chest tighten the moment Lisa spoke. For the last few hours she’d suffered through the nagging feeling that Lisa may try something to alter their confrontation, and if it were going to happen, now was the time . . .

Ramona turned to Lisa. “Yes?”

“Well, it’s not really a question; it’s more something else—” She crossed her arms. “I want a champion.”

 

And . . . wrong.  As the saying goes, once a punk-ass bitch, always a punk-ass bitch, and Lisa apparently wants to hang onto that title.  As you can imagine this isn’t sitting well with certain people–

 

Annie slowly turned towards Lisa. “Really?”

Ramona knew the rules: there wasn’t anyone out of line with Lisa’s request. She was, however, bound to question the request. “Why is that, Lisa?”

“Annie’s a sorceress and a better witch when it comes to magic.” Lisa cast a sideways glance at her opponent. “She’s also in your advanced class, which means she’s a better fighter. So I can’t hope to beat her, can I?”

“All that may be true, Lisa—” Ramona turned a puzzled look upon the student. “Why continue then?”

“Like I said, little bitch wants a fight—” Lisa smirked. “May as well give her one.”

Though Ramona didn’t care at all for Lisa’s reasoning, there was nothing in the rules that prevented her from taking this course of action, and that it was well within her rights to have someone fight in her stead. “As you wish. The rules state that you have twenty-four hours to present a champion—”

“I have one.”

It was Ramona’s turn to smirk. “I see you came prepared.” She turned her gaze to the students beyond the mat. “Who stands as champion for the aggriever?”

 

In technical terms, this is known as a dick move, but there’s nothing in the rules which state Lisa can’t ask for someone to beat on Annie while she stands on the sidelines and laugh.  The reason one asks for a champion is to avoid being bullied by a stronger opponent who has pulled them into a contest for bullshit reasons.  Of course Lisa isn’t getting pulled into this trial for bogus reasons, and she is correct when she says Annie could probably tear her ass up with little difficultly, but still–she’s gaming the system to get the better of someone she went out of her way to piss off, and now she’s going to walk.

On top of which–

 

A tall boy with dark hair stepped out of the crowd. “That would be me, Professor.”

Ramona waved him forward. “Step forward and be recognized.”

Annie watched him slowly remove his shoes, noticing the four stars on the lapel of his jacket, all tinted in the colors of Åsgårdsreia Coven. As he walked onto the mat, Annie finally realized that Lisa’s desire for confrontation wasn’t an accident—

Ramona waited until the boy was directly behind Lisa before saying anything. “State your name, coven, and education level.”

The boy spoke in a low, soft voice. “Rikkard Tuominen, Åsgårdsreia Coven, D Level.”

“And do you swear truthfully that you stand as Lisa’s champion?”

“I do.”

Ramona nodded. “Thank you. Lisa, you may leave the mat.” She waited until Lisa was back safe within the throng of students before she turned to the remaining girl. “Annie, I must inform you that Rikkard is a member of the Åsgårdsreia Combat Team, and that he is currently competing in his second year on their A Team.” She allowed herself a deep breath so Annie could gather her thoughts. “You have the right to reject this champion, but if you do so Lisa has twenty-four hours to choose a second one should she so wish. If you reject that person, and Lisa continues to demand a champion, you will have the choice of either fighting that individual or forfeiting the trial.” Ramona massaged the back of her left hand. “You also have the option of walking away from the trial if you so wish, with the results for doing so remaining the same as already indicated.”

 

So not only an older kid from her coven, but one skilled in combat–though I wonder if he’d have stood for Lisa if he knew about Annie’s performance in combat.  After all, this boy from Finland–which is where he’s from, trust me–probably hasn’t had to go up against Deconstructors, since if he were a member of the school’s Rapid Response Team, Ramona would have mentioned the fact.

Needless to say Annie’s not happy, and now she has to think about the coming battle.

 

Annie looked her new opponent over, feeling a slight rage take hold. Lisa must have had to do quite a bit of convincing to get someone from her coven combat team to fight for her. It was all obvious now: Lisa would goad Annie into a Judgment Trial, bring forth a champion, and force Annie to walk away in embarrassment—or be beaten in combat, which would produce the same result. “Professor?”

“Yes, Annie?”

“May I have a few minutes to consider my options?”

Ramona nodded. “I’ll give you five minutes to decide.”

“Thank you.” She turned and walked off the mat. She headed directly for Kerry, who was already over the red line, standing alone and waiting for her. She stopped just within arm’s reach of her soul mate and looked into his eyes. She shook her head slowly and spoke softly so they wouldn’t be overheard. “She set me up.”

“Yeah, well . . .” Kerry took Annie’s hand. “It is Lisa.”

“Yes, it is.” She glanced over her shoulder. “She’s a coward.”

“Yeah, she’s being a twat for sure.” Kerry exhaled slowly. “Sweetie—”

Annie turned back. “Yes?”

He nodded towards the students a few meters away on his right. “I’m gonna stand over here and watch you kick this guy’s butt—okay?”

She couldn’t hide her smile. “You think so?”

“I know so.”

She wrapped her arms around Kerry and kissed him slowly and with passion. “Thank you, my love.”

“Any time, my little sarmi.” He glanced over her shoulder towards the mat before gazing into her eyes. “Go get ‘em, Tiger.”

She kissed Kerry once more, then released him and strode towards the center of the mat. “Professor, this champion is acceptable.” She stopped the moment she crossed the competition circle and stood with confidence. “May we proceed?”

 

And the moral of the story is when your boyfriend says he’s gonna watch you kick someone’s ass, you don’t want to disappoint.  I like how I played out the scene between them, because Annie doesn’t ask Kerry if he feels she’s doing the right thing, and he give her dire warnings about what might come.  He knows her mind was made up before they ever entered the building, and given that they’ve faced death together, he knows Annie can handle herself.  Also, always being the geek, Kerry laid a classic comic book line on Annie, something Mary Jane Watson would say to Peter Parker before Spiderman headed off into New York City to tear up a few bad guys.

What next now?  Why, the rules, that’s what.

What?  We don't need any stinkin' rules!

What? We don’t need any stinkin’ rules!

Actually, you do . . .

The Moment of Calling

Short scene, my butt.  Well, somewhat short, if you call nearly fifteen hundred words short.  I didn’t exactly zip through the evening–Con Air was playing on the television, and I was chatting with an old friends at the same time I was working on the novel–but eight hundred and eighty-four words flew out of my fingers, so I’ll consider it a good evening.

So, we know Lisa doesn’t like big lesbian instructors–and she’s probably even more upset since it’s now known that her spells instructor is seeing the school’s Chief of Security.  Yeah, sucks to be homophobic at this joint.  And that sort of gets pointed out . . .

 

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

Kerry snorted and rolled his eyes. “Give it a break, Lisa. The snarky southern girl routine doesn’t work that well for you—” He stretched his arms back, loosening up the muscles in his shoulders. “You come off sounding more pissed than snarky.”

“Not to mention you’re picking on the wrong instructor.” Annie crossed her legs as she gave Lisa a satisfied glare. “It’s never nice to make fun of the one instructor whose life partner not only teaches here, but is probably the most dangerous instructor here—”

“And she doesn’t care for you.” Kerry tapped the corner of his forehead. “Smart.”

Lisa threw her nose up in the air and turned back to Franky. “Ah, what do you expect from those two? They’re all teacher’s pets.”

Franky nodded and spoke in a soft voice with enough volume that everyone within ten meters would hear him. “Particular Kirilova—” He hissed out his comment. “The Black Queen’s favorite.”

 

The Black Queen.  This is a nickname you’ll hear used on Helena from time-to-time, and it really fits her well.  There was a Black Queen in Marvel comics:  one was called Selene–hey, sounds like a certain flier we know–but the first was named Emma Steed, which is a play on the name Emma Peel, who was played by Dame Diana Riggs on the show The Avengers.  The character was so closely tied to Dame Diana that the character’s original appearances had her looking a great deal like the actress.  Needless to say, it’s not a nickname that gets used in front of Helena much–same with her other nickname, which is “That Bitch.”

I’m sure you’re asking, “So, is there a White Queen?”  Yes, there certainly is, and her name is Emma Frost.  She’s another Marvel character who is a powerful psionicist, but is best known for dressing as if she’s going clubbing at all hours of the day and night, something you can do that when you have gravity-defying boobs.  As the Black Queen has dark hair, the White Queen has white, or lighter, hair, and I guess chestnut is light, so . . . maybe Annie gets a new nickname one day?

The interesting thing is there’s also a Red Queen, who has–believe it or not–red hair, and could be either Margali Szardos of Madelyne Pryor.  Good thing Emma isn’t really good with sorcery . . .

Back in the scene Lisa is going down the same nasty path as Franky:

 

Lisa glanced back over her shoulder at the couple who’d finished storing their soil and manure and were now sitting away from everyone else. “Oh, yeah: she’s got her nose totally up Lovecraft’s ass. Same with her loser boyfriend.”

Annie stiffened upon hearing the comments. Normally she didn’t react when other students made comments about her, because it was common knowledge that the less advance were going to talk about her—some out of frustration, some out of jealousy. She hated it, however, when those same people cast aspersions at Kerry. She didn’t know if they said these things because he was from the same background as them and worked hard to be as advanced as her—or if they said these things only because he was with her.

Kerry never cared what was said about him, however. She was aware that he didn’t like people saying things about her—and Annie was fully aware of the one time he did something to the person who did—but as he’d mentioned, he’d grown so used to hearing people make derogatory comments about him that he ignored them. Annie was also aware that Kerry’s comments there weren’t entirely true . . .

He stood and helped Annie to her feet. “Let’s put the cart back and we can start prepping our beds.”

Lisa shouted out a response to the rest of the class before Annie could reply. “That ain’t the kind of bed Annie’s thinking about.” About a third of the class laughed along with Franky and Lisa.

Annie turned a cold glare upon Lisa. “You should know when to keep your mouth shut, Lisa.”

Kerry touched his soul mate’s hand. “Let it go; they’re just trying to get a rise out of you.”

Franky lightly tapped Lisa on the shoulder. “Are you saying what I think you’re say?”

Lisa raised her head. “That she’s DTF?” She turned her sleazy stare upon Annie once more.  “Oh, yeah:  totally.”

Annie’s head snapped around. “What?”

Kerry knew what Lisa had said and tried to keep the situation from escalating. “Let it go, honey—”

She wasn’t about to let anything go, however. “What did you say, Lisa? What does that mean?”

Lisa did nothing to advert her gaze from Annie’s. “Down to fuck. You know, as in—” She set her right forefinger between the fore and middle fingers of her left hand and slid it back and forth. “I’m sure you know what I said now.”

 

Yeah, that Lisa:  she’s about as nasty as it gets with the personal slurs.  And what she just said–and implied–is something you don’t say aloud in mixed company.  You can, however, say it when the instructor’s not around–which Professor Simplen isn’t–and a portion of your classmate think what you’re saying is probably true.

 

Annie didn’t hear the laughter of the others in the class, nor did she feel Kerry at her side. All she saw and heard was Lisa, and all she felt was the anger building inside. “How—dare—you.” She didn’t raise her voice, but her tone told everyone in the room her current emotional state. “How dare you say that about me—”

“What?” She stepped away from her planting bed and stood alone in the aisle. “Say what? Are you saying Kerry hasn’t inoculated you against virginity?” She giggled. “Is he gay or something?”

Kerry isn’t—” She closed her eyes, realizing that Lisa was trying to get her to deny a non-fact that she could use against Annie. “Just shut up. I’m tried of hearing you say these childish, hurtful things.”

Lisa held up her hands as if she was warding off an attack, but she did this as a prelude to mock Annie further. “Oh, the little ass kissing sorceress is all upset—” She began pouting. “What are you gonna do about it, Annie?”

There were many thing Annie knew were possible. She could ignore Lisa, but the more she ignored her, the more it emboldened her. She could go after her as she’d done after Lisa had wrecked Kerry on The Diamond oval and put him in the hospital, but that would get her into more trouble than it would Lisa. She pushed down the anger inside and slowed her breathing: there was an option she’d not used before, one that Vicky had suggested—and one that was needed now.

Annie slowly walked towards Lisa. “What am I going to do about this?” She stopped two meters from the now-smirking girl. “Something I should have done last year.” Annie’s voice grew just loud enough so that no one in the room would mistake what she was saying . . .

“I’m taking you to The Manor, Lisa.  I’m calling you out.”

 

Now you've done it; you make her angry.  Prepare to die, Lisa.

Now you’ve done it, Lisa; you made Annie angry. Prepare to die.

That, by the way, is Story Annie in the picture:  the person upon whom Annie is modeled physically.  So when she’s looking at you that way, that’s how Annie’s looking at you–though Story Annie is probably appearing a lot colder, like she wants to rip out Lisa’s lungs–oh, wait:  that’s what she wanted to do to Emma.  She’s probably going to take Lisa’s spine out after that remark.

And where is she gonna do that?  In The Manor, of course.

And she’s gonna do it with magic.

Dark Witch Rising

Twenty-four hours can bring about a nice change.  As I said yesterday, sometimes you need to get out and change things up a bit, just to make things better.

That’s sort of what I did yesterday.  I got home from woke, changes, threw on my jean skirt and a nice top, put on my sandals, checked my makeup, and headed out.  I needed to pick up a few groceries, but since I intended writing first, I stopped at Panera to set up the computer and get something to eat.

And with the eating and a little social media out of the way, I put on a live recording of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, recorded at the Shrine Auditorium in late January of 1975, and got to town.  I didn’t leave until just over two hours later, when I was thirteen hundred words into the scene, and and it was finished.  I was proud, because this scene needed to get finished.

Writing looks easy, but believe me, being in a public places allows you to drown out all other distractions.  Um, yeah.

Writing looks easy, but believe me, being in a public places allows you to drown out all other distractions. Um, yeah.

See, this scene is all about Annie.  Unfortunately for her, Nurse Thebe blabbed to the other girls about Annie being an amazing zombie killer, and how she worked up an Air Hammer spell in a matter of seconds while hordes of the undead–okay, four–bore down upon her.  When you get that sort of hype laid upon you, naturally others want to see you in action.  Since Annie was told not to use the spell on anyone living–since she could like, you know, kill them–a subject was needed . . .

 

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

Sahkyo pointed at the hovering nurse. “What about Thebe? She’s not human.”

Annie was going to explain why using Thebe as a test subject was out of the question when she addressed the subject. “I may not be human, but I can be damaged. Nurse Coraline wouldn’t appreciate my being put out of action because of a spell.”

Annie nodded slowly in the nurse’s direction. “Thank you.”

“On the other hand . . .” Thebe looked over her shoulder. “I do have something Annie could use as a test subject.”

Nurse Thebe headed over to where the stretchers sat and returned with one. She set it upright, floating a few centimeters above the floor. “You can use this.”

Annie didn’t want to show off, not for these girls, not for the nurse, either. “I don’t want to damage it—”

“It’s made of carbon mesh suspended between carbon-carbon fiber poles.” Thebe shook her head. “One can support a ton. You’re not going to damage it.” She let her fingers glide over one of the poles. “And it’s floating, so there’s no resistance. It’ll simply fly backwards.”

 

Sure, don’t hurt the artificial person (or AP), but beat up on those stretchers all you want.  Annie therefor bows to peer pressure and decides to give a quick demonstration.

 

 

She held her right hand at her side and relaxed. “Remember that to make this spell work, you gather air together at a point.” A small swirling ball began forming in the palm of her hand. “Once you have drawn it to your point, you pull it tighter, as if you’re squeezing it with both hands.” The ball began to shimmer as Annie used energy and willpower to compress the mass. “Then, when you are ready, you choose a target . . .”

Annie didn’t throw the air ball as much as she pushed her hand in the direction of the stretcher. She didn’t need to throw it; her willpower drove the Air Hammer forward faster than the eye could follow. Almost instantly the stretcher was struck with an audible thwack and thrown backward back into the far north wall of the Rotunda before bouncing off with a loud and and falling to the floor.

Neither girl nor Nurse Thebe said a word for almost five seconds. The first reaction came from Sahkyo. “Damn. That’s, um . . .” She tightly closed her eyes for several seconds. “The best I’ve ever done was little better than a breeze.”

“The energy required is minuscule.” Annie slowly turned towards the girls. “It’s all visualization and willpower—”

“And a lot of luck.”

 

And what’s a demonstration without someone coming in to mouth off?  Which is when Lisa shows up and starts talking shit.

 

Annie looked over her shoulder, half-turning to her right. Lisa was approaching the group slowly, her hands behind her back with her eyes turned towards the floor, and an unusual smirk upon her face, as if she knew something that she was keeping from everyone else.

Lisa stopped about five meters from Annie. “After all, isn’t that how you did that during class? You got lucky?”

“I don’t believe in luck.” Annie crossed her arms. “It had nothing to do with our coven test that day.”

“Not even a little.”

“No.”

Lisa shrugged. “Maybe not with you, but I’m guessin’ . . .” She half turned to her left, the smirk growing. “Kerry probably used a lot of luck to make that same spell work.”

Annie’s eyes narrowed. “Kerry is just as skilled; he doesn’t rely on luck, either.”

“So you say.”

 

Yes, she does say, Lisa, but that’s not going to keep you from not only mouthing off, but insulting others as well.

 

 

Thebe joined the conversation. “What you’re pointing out is wrong, Lisa.”

She turned on the nurse. “What would you know about it? You’re not even human.” The smirk returned. “You can only do magic because supertech allows it—right?”

Lisa’s last statement didn’t set well with Annie. She knew Thebe wouldn’t get angry—while APs could get mad in the right situations now wasn’t one of those—but that didn’t mean she couldn’t express her feelings. While she kept her tone normal, the words were spoken in a low, slow voice. “That’s not only a rude thing to say, it was stupid.” She decided to get in a dig of her own. “You sent two of your own covenmates to the hospital that day: you’re in no position to make light of the abilities of others.”

The smirk vanished as Lisa’s face froze into an unemotional mask. Only her eyes gave any indication there was something going on inside her mind. “That was an accident.”

“A preventable one if you’d bothered to think.” She slowly pulled her hair back and laid it behind her ears. “Don’t speak of others using luck when you couldn’t find any of your own.”

Annie is now the Queen of Zingers, which doesn’t set well with Lisa–

 

The stare Lisa affixed upon Annie turned deadly. She crossed her arms, flexing her fingers across her forearms. “So you think Kerry’s not gonna need any luck—” She nodded up towards the skylight. “Bein’ out there.”

Annie huffed. “He doesn’t need luck, Lisa. I’ve already said that.”

“Even if the bad guys come?”

“Kerry knows what to do if there’s trouble.” Annie returned Lisa’s deadly stare. “I’m not worried.”

“Not even a little?” Lisa tossed her head from side to side.

Annie breathed deeply through her nose. “No.”

“I mean a lot of things could happen.” She glanced up at the skylight once again. “These Deconstructors, they could fly through the screen and shoot him down—”

“Not likely.”

“Or they could take him out from the ground with a fireball or somethin’.”

Though she didn’t show it, Annie felt her irritation growing. “If there are any problems, Kerry will head for safety.” She’d discussed this matter with Coraline only an hour earlier, and knew what the fliers would do in the instance of major attack. “He knows what to do.”

“Maybe he does—” Lisa waited as Annie began to turn away. “That doesn’t mean Emma does.”

 

Oh, yeah:  you had to go there.  Just like Emma had to pull the trigger on “Is Annie your girlfriend?”, Lisa’s gotta jam that same button ’cause she knows a little something about what makes Annie’s mind start seeing bad things.  And she just isn’t gonna let up . . .

 

 

Annie froze in mid-turn. She swiveled her head around towards Lisa. “You don’t know—”

“I saw them leavin’ together; I’m guessin’ ol’ Salomon put them together.” The smirked turned to a tight grin. “Which means they’re probably flyin’ around, chattin’ up a storm—”

“Kerry wouldn’t chat up a storm.” Annie’s eyes were now dark hazel pinpoints. “He knows better.”

“Yeah, but what about Emma? You know—” Lisa held her hands out parallel to each other. “Miss ‘Hey Kerry, Come Race With Me’?” She pushed her hands together and made a crashing sounds as they collided. “You know how well he was listenin’ then.”

It took an bit of effort for Annie to dispel what she was feeling before speaking. “Kerry isn’t out there listening to Emma; he knows what to do.” She turned away from Lisa. “Nothing is going to happen.”

“Maybe you think so—” Lisa turned to follow Annie as she slowly walked away from the conversation. “But, you know, if things don’t happen to Kerry—”

Annie spoke without looking at her tormentor. “Be quiet, Lisa.”

“—that doesn’t mean somethin’ won’t happen to Emma—”

Annie stopped and looked over her shoulder, her eyes on fire. “Enough.”

“—and Kerry’s just stupid enough to help her—”

You shut up.” Annie spun around and pointed at Lisa, her face cold and hard, her eyes the only indication of her emotions.

 

Kerry likes to call Annie his Dark Witch for a reason, and Annie keeps telling him it’s not joke, that she does have darkness, that it’s not a game.  When she spins around and points at you and tells you to shut up in a low, harsh voice, shit’s about to happen.  What happens is Lisa is rendered mute.  Wanna guess why?

 

 

Thebe did a quick scan of Lisa’s face and throat. “What the—?” She turned the angry girl in the direction of the triage center. “Go sit down; I’ll be with you in a moment.” She waited for Lisa to stalk off out of earshot before approaching Annie. “What did you do to her?”

Nagesa and Sahkyo were right behind the triage nurse. Shakyo seemed shocked. “You cursed her, didn’t you?”

Ignoring the girl’s question, Annie spoke to Thebe. “I used Paralytic.”

Thebe’s eyes narrowed. “That’s sorcery.”

Annie nodded. “Yes, it is.”

Nagesa said nothing, but Sahkyo found it almost impossible to contain herself. “You’re not suppose to use sorcery on another student—” She turned to Nagesa. “Not outside the ring, that is.”

If Thebe was troubled by this information, she didn’t let it show. Her calm profession demeanor reassessed itself, and she took control of the situation. “She didn’t mean it, though.” The nurse positioned herself so she could face all three girls at the same time, and she kept her voice soft so it wouldn’t travel. “You both wanted to see the sort of spells Annie knew. She showed you Air Hammer, and you wanted to see more. She showed few others, but . . .” She glanced over her shoulder at the now-sitting Lisa. “One got away and paralyzed Lisa’s vocal cords.”

“It won’t last long either—” Annie gave the tiniest of shrugs. “She’ll be able to speak in a few hours . . . but it’s not like she needs her voice to do this job.”

“No, she doesn’t.” Thebe grew closer to Annie. “And you won’t do that again, will you?”

Annie didn’t blink. “I have no reason to now.”

“Good.” Nurse Thebe stepped back a few paces. “I’ll tell Coraline what happened after I look at Lisa.” She walked away without another word.

Annie didn’t bother following Thebe as she departed; she focused instead on the two girls who continued to stare at her with some disbelief. She finally cracked a slight smile. “Hope you saw enough.”

Nagesa nodded. “When did you find time to learn Paralytic?”

“I taught it to myself two years ago.” Annie spoke nonchalantly about the spell. “My mother allowed me to use a construct so I could test the spell.”

“You taught yourself?” Sahkyo almost yelped out her question.

“Yes, I did.”

“Damn, girl—” She swung back and forth, her face lit up. “You’re like Lovecraft, you know that?”

Annie chuckled softly. “I’m sure she’d consider that a complement.” She lowered her gaze slightly. “If you’ll excuse me—” She quickly pointed at the benches along the south wall of the Rotund. “I’d like to rest.”

 

Yes, consider it a complement when the upper coven levels start comparing you to the school’s Dark Mistress of All.  Though Helena might say something different . . . naw, who am I kidding?  She’d smile like mad knowing Annie cursed some loud mouth who wouldn’t shut up.  If the roles had been reversed, and Lisa was running off at the mouth about Erywin, Helena would have set her on fire.

Moral of the story:  never piss off the Head Sorceress.

So finally, three out of five scenes complete, Chapter Twenty-One closer to finished, and the attack is coming.  You know that because you can see the title on Chapter Twenty-Two.  Right?

Caption here

I’m nothing if not subtle.

The next scene should be short, and the last scene will get some staff and instructors talking.

And thanks to everyone who left me messages yesterday.  It’s nice to have supportive fans out there.

Conversing Round the Rotunda

A lot of strangeness this morning–starting off with waking up at 3:30 AM, laying in bed for ninety minutes before deciding that I needed to get up and do something.  Said something involved finishing up a scene I sort of stumbled through last night, which I mean with all sincerity, because I didn’t have my head in the story last night.  Some of it had to do with watching TCM last night while I made my way through some five hundred words of conversation between Annie and a fellow student from Lesotho, but the truth remains I’ve been tired most of this week, and writing at home is boring the hell out of me.

It’s nice to have a routine.  Writing is my routine; has been for a while.  But the last year, most of which has been spent in hotel rooms and a small apartment, have taken their toll.  I’m finding that changing things up a little here and these gives me more productivity, and that’s something I require at this point, because five hundred or so words a night ain’t cutting it.  Time has come to rev things up.

Really, though, it’s not usual.  Whenever you spend a lot of time working on the same project, doing the same thing over and over, in the same place and location for months, it seems natural that you’ll find a little burnout creeping in from around the bend.  Now if I was only like George R. R. Martin and I could take five or six or seven years to write a novel.

That would assume I’m making money from my novels, first . . .

"Also, I could write some hot, kinky, dragon action.  Just as long as I leave their mom out of it.  Right?  Right?"

“Also, I could write some hot, kinky, dragon action. Just as long as I leave their mom out of it. Right? Right?”

But I wrote this morning.  I managed almost six hundred words this morning, because when there isn’t anything on television to pull you away, and no one on the Internet to distract you, it’s easy to get things done.  I might even be able to snap out another five or six hundred words later today, or maybe even a thousand.  You can’t tell, can you?

Here’s the last part of a three-way conversation between Annie, Nagesa Okoro–the aforementioned student from Lesotho who has two friends out flying the same patrol as Kerry and Emma are flying–and Lisa, she of the Bad Attitude and the Magical Ownage during Sorcery class.  Needless to say, Lisa’s trying to break bad on Annie, and Annie is not digging it in the least . . .

 

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

“I’m surprised you’re not out with Kerry.” Lisa looked over her right shoulder. ‘Then again, he’s gotta flyin’ partner—” She turned back to Annie. “Ain’t he?”

Annie slowed her breathing so as not to lose her temper. “Emma’s with him, yes. They volunteered together.”

“An ahm sure they’re havin’ a great time.” Lisa rubbed her hands together slowly. “Is that why you’re doin’ triage? ‘Cause if anythin’ happens, you’ll be here when he’s brought in?” The smirk returned as she looked around the Rotunda. “Those guys flyin’ around by the wall, they’re gonna be the first to get hit if there’s trouble—”

Nagesa laid a hand on Annie’s; she sensed the girl was about to explode. She turned on Lisa. “You are not helping with this talk; you are trying to upset us.” She twitched her head to the left. “You should rest—this may be a long day.”

For a moment Lisa didn’t appearer willing to take Nagesa’s advice, then shrugged. “Yeah, you’re probably right.” She waved at Annie. “See ya ‘round.”

Annie waited for Lisa to head up the stairs to the First Floor before speaking. “Thank you.”

Nagesa removed her hand from Annie’s. “I sensed you were about to say things that would have resulted in an argument—”

“Or worse.” Annie set her hands in her lap.

“Or worse.” Nagesa rocked her knees back and forth. “We do not need that sort of negativity here. We need to stay focused on our duty.”

“I agree.” Annie sat quietly for nearly thirty second, her mind swirling around Lisa’s comments. “Are you here because of your friends?”

“No—and yes.” Nagesa slightly turned her head so she could look at Annie as she spoke. “I am here to help anyone needing help. And were my friends brought in, I could help them as well.”

“What . . .” Annie didn’t want to ask the question, but found she must. “What if you can’t help them?”

“Then I would have the chance to say goodbye.” Nagesa patted Annie’s hands. “Don’t worry: your boyfriend will return safe. Professor Salomon would not have allowed him to fly with the patrol if she didn’t feel he could make the right choices when necessary.”

Annie squeezed Nagesa’s hand briefly before looking up through the skylight. “I’m not worried about him . . .”

 

Of course you aren’t, Annie.  You’re worried about someone else, aren’t you?

And speaking of Kerry and that girl . . .