The Final Days and Nights: Summertime, and the Visits Are Easy

So, writing.  Yes, I did it.  Not as much as the two days before, but some of that was due in part to writing a two thousand word recap a few hours before, and that tends to drain me.  The good news is I only have one more Monday night recap to do and then I can sort of take the summer off.

Though, you know, I’m not sure what that means.  Take a summer off and do nothing?  I don’t know if I can handle that.

So what happens in the next five hundred words?  Plans, that’s what.

 

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

Jairo shook his head. “That would never happen. You guys have been too much fun; we’ve enjoyed hanging with you.”

Kerry ran his finger around the rim of his mug. “We’ve enjoyed hanging with you guys as well.”

Penny pointed a finger at him. “I hope you won’t forget we got a lunch meet up this summer.”

He nodded. “How could I forget?” Penny had approached them both at the Midnight Madness the night of his birthday, with Alex, Jairo, and Kahoku in tow. Not only did they all want to wish Kerry a happy birthday, but Penny wanted to set up a lunch date between Kerry and her, as they were both in the UK and could fly to just about any location in the country. Penny also made it clear that she wanted Annie to know about the invite, and that she knew if Kerry were to ask her about getting together for lunch over the summer, he’d do so with Annie and Jairo present. “Just text me whenever you feel like meeting.”

“Which reminds me—” Alex turned to Annie. “Would you object to getting together over the summer? I’d love a lunch date with someone from school.” She looked around the table. “It was hard to do so last year, and may be difficult for Kaho this year. I thought it might not be a problem for you, though.”

Annie actually felt honored that a friend other than Kerry would asking about meeting over the summer. “I’d love to, Alex. I think it’d be fun.” Annie gave the matter a moment of thought. “Could you fly to Kiev? We could met there.”

Kahoku nervously coughed. “Or are you—?”

“Say that word and die.” Alex rolled her eyes as she glanced at her boyfriend. “Durnyy, bozhevilʹnyy khlopchyk.” She turned back to Annie, a slight grin playing upon her face. “Sure, I can do that. Dubno’s only three hundred kilometers away; I can make that in an hour.”

 

So there you have it:  at least once during the summer Kerry and Alex are going to get together for a lunch date–one where Annie was present when the asking was done, ’cause one girlfriend is respecting the personal space of another–but Annie’s gonna leave the mountains behind for a day and meet up with Alex.  The kids are getting out next summer, and not just to meet with each other–yes, that’s gonna get mentioned later in one of these last two chapters.  Even though they can’t be together all the time, they’re gonna meet for lunch.

Annie picks Kiev because not only is it in the Ukraine where Alex lives, but it’s likely easier for Annie to jaunt over a thousand kilometers than it is for Alex to do the same.  Alex can hop on her broom and jet across the country to get to her destination–

Three hundred thirty-four kilometers, no waiting.

Three hundred thirty-four kilometers, no waiting.

Whereas Annie needs her mom to jaunt her to the Sofia airport so she can take the jaunt station to the main train station in Kiev.

"Don't worry, Mama:  I'll call when I'm though visiting another country."

“Don’t worry, Mama: I’ll call when I’m though visiting another country.”

And since Pamporovo and Kiev are in the same time zone, there’s no trying to figure out when Annie should get there.  In fact, if she knows Alex is gonna meet her around eleven, she can leave home about fifteen minutes before to ensure she’ll arrive in time–depending on where it is they’re gonna meet.  And I know where they’re gonna meet–I’m just not saying right now.  Same with Penny and Kerry:  locked down their meeting area a few months ago, but you’ll just have to wait on the where.

This portion of the conversation leads into something else that has been asked about already–

 

“Good.” Annie sat back with a smile on her face and her hands folded before her. “You can send a message to my school account: I can access that from my mother’s laptop when I’m home.”

“When you getting your own phone?” Penny scratched behind her right ear. “That way we can just text you.”

Kerry looked across the table and while he kept quiet. They’d discussed this matter more than a few times since returning after Yule, and Annie promised that once she was home and settled in, she’d do everything possible to convinced her parents to let her buy a smart phone. He believed her, too: he was more than aware that when Annie wanted something . . .

Annie’s response was simple and direct. “I’m working on that. You may say it’s my summer project.”

Kerry noticed their four friends exchanging glances between themselves. “Something up?”

Being the closest to him, Alex answered Kerry. “We were wondering if you might like another project for the summer—”

Penny glanced at Annie to her left. “Both of you.”

 

Yes, Annie’s gonna work on getting a phone, and yes, that issue will come up in the next novel.  I know some of you are thinking, “She should have one by now, she’s thirteen!” but you ain’t Annie’s mother:  I guess I am, and I know why they haven’t gotten her a phone yet.  Just chill and wait.  You’ll see.

Now, what is the summer project that is going to be asked of Annie and Kerry?  Well, that’s tonight’s business.

And that means you have to wait until tomorrow to see.

The Agony of the Finish

Last night was something of a first for me, because I did a couple of things I haven’t done in a while.  First, I started and finished a scene in one sitting.  Second, in doing the first, I wrote almost two thousand words.  Well, it was more like eighteen hundred and fifty, but you get where I’m coming from:  I haven’t done that in a while.  I did it by kickin’ it old school:  lots of music, most of it of the older variety, like 60s and 70s, and just kept pushing myself to get it done.

And done I did get it.

The vibe in this scene is far different it that it’s not all Kerry out there in the snow and cold all by himself.  Racing at this joint is a lonely affair, and it’s been proven because you don’t race with others on this course, you race the course, and that means you race alone.

Here you go:  all of the scene in it’s depressing glory:

 

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

If it weren’t for the fact he was on the last lap negotiating the last major turn on the last section of the Katahdan course, Kerry would have DNFed and headed for the paddock. He wasn’t prepared for the stress the race placed upon him, and over the last twenty minutes he’d fought with the cold, he’d fought with the messy and at times impossible-to-see course, with the constant stop and goes and left and rights—but most of all he’d fought to ignore the throbbing in his left knee. Though he couldn’t prove it, he was certain the initial collision on Lap 1 tore the outer ligaments, and over the course of Lap 2 and 3 he’d torn the other two sets.

It didn’t matter: at the moment his knee was engulfed in flame that has found its way up his thigh and into his hip. He was tired of the pain. He’d raced hurt in other school races, but never for nearly two hundred and seventy-five kilometers, and Kerry was continuing on fueled by endorphins, adrenaline, and sheer willpower, and the same mantra that saw him through a few bad moments during the last school year: A good sorceress keeps their wits about them when everything is going to hell around them.

He flew through McCarty Pass and eased his way towards the Lowland turn. After doing the Perimeter Road flyover all that remained was the straight into Wrap Around and the short chute into Final before zipping across the Start/Finish line. He had no idea where he was in the standings: the last person he’d passed had happened all the way over in Section 2 during this lap, maybe twenty minutes earlier. He knew he hasn’t seen Penny or Nadine since they’d passed him on Lap 1, so he figured there were still ahead of him.

Which, if he were correct, meant there were still a lot of people behind him.

He bounced into Lowland and sailed through the flyover before turning on another quick burst of speed towards the end. There was little left ahead, and behind him—

For the first time in a while he checked his rear view and spotted two racers, then a third, shoot over the flyover and hit the straight behind him. He wasn’t about to try performing calculations in his head, which left him guessing—and his guess was they wouldn’t catch him before Final turn. I’m going to do this; I’ve got this . . .

Every second in Wrap Around left his knee feeling as if someone was jabbing a hot needle into an open nerve. He shook it off and concentrated on getting through Final. On last glance in the rear view and he watched one of his pursuers come out of the last turn. He didn’t bother with IFF: they weren’t going to catch him. He pushed through Final as hard as he could take it, staying to the far outside of the turn so he could keep his speed up, then pushed forward as hard as he could stand. The final gate flashed green as he reached the Start/Finish line and put three lap and three hundred kilometers behind him.

The race was over: he’d completed the Katahdan course, though not in one piece as he’d hoped.

 

Here’s the last segment, Section 8–

We're just about home--literally.

Which is a good term for being nuts, now that I think about it.

Kerry’s done his three laps, and he’s ready to come in.  It wasn’t something he was ready for mentally, and it’s showing.  There’s also something else bothering him as well–

 

Kerry pulled up and away from the course, slowing in a long, high loop to ease the pain on his knee. He was about to call in when Professor Semplen called him. “Congratulations on finishing your first Katahdin race, Kerry. Over.”

“Thanks, Professor.” He gulped as he flipped up his visor. “I need medical attention: my left knee is damaged and it’s killing me. Over.”

“Rodger. We’re contacting the hospital now.” There was a slight pause before Professor Semplen returned to the comm. “Do you think you can stand on it? Over.”

Kerry shook his head even though there wasn’t anyone else around. “Not a chance. Over.”

“We copy. Return to the paddock and remain hovering on your broom, or if you feel you need to lay down have someone help you off and stay on the ground. Someone will be there shortly. Over.”

“Got it.” He angled towards the small open grove just to the north of the Start/Finish line. “I’ll be waiting—over and out.”

He floated out of the sky and was over the confines of the paddock only ten seconds after his conversation with Professor Semplen. With the excitement of the race behind him the adrenaline stopped flowing and the endorphin high was rapidly fading. Even before he reached the ground Kerry’s vision had begun graying out from pain. He leaned over his broom’s control column before sliding to his right—

“I got ya, Kerry.” Penny held him tight, easing him to the ground while Nadine removed his helmet. “You’re okay now, just relax.”

He moaned as his left leg bent the wrong way. “Where’s Coraline?” He clutched Penny’s arm, digging his gloved fingers into her arm. “Where is she?”

“The professor called; a nurse is on their way.” She gave him a reassuring smile. “Hang in there, mate. You’ll be okay.”

“What happened?” Alex came running towards them, sliding to a stop next to Nadine, who was kneeling at Kerry’s left. “What’s wrong?”

Nadine had the answer. “Remember Emma getting a slow down at the start of the race for rough racing? Erywin told me she collided with him in the Pond Switchback.”

“She hit my leg.” He spoke through ragged breaths. “Screwed up my knee.”

“Again?” Alex shook her head. “Son of a bitch—”

 

So Nadine and Penny are there, which means they were up near the front as Kerry suspected.  And Alex is there as well, so she’s somewhere in that mix.  Now what could make this party complete?  How about . . .

 

“Kerry? How are you?”

All three girls attending turned to Emma, standing about three meters past Kerry’s feet. Nadine tilted her head slightly to the left. “You might want—”

Alex was on her feet, taking a few menacing steps towards the Mórrígan racer. “Did you do this? Vy nimyy suka.”

Emma’s demeanor alternated between upset and pissed. “I only wanted to see how he was feeling—”

“He’s hurt.” Penny shot her a withering glare. “How did you think he was gonna feel?”

“I didn’t know, Penny.” Emma’s tone was beginning to match those of the other girls. “That’s why I came over.”

“Well, now you know.” Penny looked down at the injured boy, who was sweating profusely in the cool Maine air. “Now you need to get out of here.”

Emma wasn’t taking the hint. “Who do you think—?”

Penny was standing and not bothering to hide her anger. “Piss off, Neilson.” She dismissed the girl with a wave. “Move your arse out of here before we move it for you.”

Nadine put herself between the Cernunnos girls and her teammate. “Come on, let’s go.”

Even with this Emma still hadn’t caught on that she wasn’t wanted. “I just wanted to—”

Let’s go.” Nadine stiff-armed the arguing girl and led her out of the area before a fight broke out.

“Let us through.” At that moment Nurse Bianca Gallard appeared wearing her white hospital jacket and carrying a stretcher. She left the stretcher floating just beyond Kerry’s head as she knelt next to his head. “How are you feeling, Kerry?”

 

Really, not the sharpest knife in the drawer, huh?  The Mistress of the Misstep causes a calamity and then comes over so see how things are.  Maybe she figured Nadine being there would keep the Vipers chilled out, but no:  Emma came within moments of getting an ass beating, and it required her team captain stepping in to pull her out of harm’s way for her to get the messages.

At least help has arrived.

 

He answered in a soft, weak tone. “I’m hurtin’ bad.”

Bianca gave him a tiny smile. “How’s your pain on one to ten?”

“About a seven.” Kerry closed his eyes and swallowed. “Maybe eight.”

“Okay. Here’s what we’re gonna do—” She looked across his body. “I’m going to immobilize your leg so we can get you to the hospital with it moving about as little as possible. My assistant is gonna give you something for the pain: just enough to dull it, nothing more.” The smile returned. “Got that?”

“I got it.”

“Okay.” Bianca stood and turned to someone standing behind her. “Give him a Number Two patch; we just want to manage the pain right now.”

“Yes, Nurse Bianca.”

 

An assistant?  We haven’t seen any assistants working in the hospital before–Oh, Wait!  Yes we have, back during the Day of the Dead attacks.  Yeah, they exist, so I wonder who got tagged for this duty?

 

Though Kerry hadn’t seen the person the nurse spoke with, he recognized the voice and accent instantly. A large grin appeared upon his face as Annie—also wearing a white hospital jacket over her sweater—knelt next to him. “Assistant, huh?”

“I am a member of the Triage Team, am I not?” She removed his right glove. “Coraline thought it would be a good idea if I came with Nurse Bianca.”

 

As if you hadn’t expected this one–Nurse Annie to the rescue!

“I’m sure you ran to the hospital and offered your help, too.”

Annie nodded as she reached inside her jacket and removed a medpatch. “You know me all too well, my love.”

He watched her unwrap the patch and cracked it to activate the enchantment that would get the medication into his system. “You gonna make me feel better now?”

“Yes.” She gently slid the patch against the back of his hand and pressed it in place.

“With a kiss?”

She leaned close to his face and whispered. “That’s for later tonight.”

Bianca was standing over the couple. “I’ve got the knee set. You want to get him up so we have an easier time getting the stretcher under him?”

“Yes, Nurse Bianca.” Annie stood and took a step back from Kerry before raising her hands so they were level with her waist. Kerry slowly rose from the ground as Annie levitated to where he as high as her knees. “Ready here.”

Bianca slapped the stretcher over him, phasing it through his body before getting it set under him. She pointed towards Kerry’s feet. “You take that end.” Annie moved into position as Bianca raised

Kerry until he was level with her waist. “Okay, Kerry; we’re taking you directly to the ward. Hold on though—” She cradled his broom in his right arm. “Wouldn’t want to leave this behind.” He looked across to her assistant. “You got a good grip, Annie?”

Annie held tight to the stretcher handles. “I’m ready.”

Kerry stared straight up into the gray, snowy sky as he heard Bianca give a three-second countdown before there was the now-familiar sensation of something light pushing against his skin and quickly vanishing. He started up into the lights of the first floor ward as he was moved down the corridor, finally ending up in familiar surroundings: Bed #2 in Bay #1.

Bianca whipped the stretcher over him and slid it into the bay across the corridor, then turned to Annie. “Start getting his accessories off and set them on Bey #1 with his broom. I’ll get the IVs and what we need to clean him and set his knee. I’ll be back in a moment.”

“Yes, Nurse Bianca.” Annie set his broom on the other bed along with the glove she’s held since they’d arrived. She moved to the other side of the bed to get his other glove. “Just relax; we’re gonna get you all better.”

Kerry had little difficulty relaxing now that the pain meds were in his system. “You’re going to clean me up?”

She began sliding off his comm helmet. “Doesn’t the staff always clean you up?”

He started grinning. “Does this mean you’re gonna undress me?”

Her right eyebrow rose. “What do you think?” It returned to its normal place of rest as Annie chuckled. “I did say we were going to make you feel better . . .”

 

Don’t worry, it’s all medical stuff gonna happen, so if Annie just happens to be there when Kerry’s in his birthday suit, it’s because she’s helping out the hospital staff.  That Annie, she certainly knows how to work the angles.

There you have it:  the end of Kerry’s race on the big track.  And the penultimate scene to this chapter:

It really is because I show you that it is.

It really is because I show you that it is.

One more scene, and then I put the penultimate chapter to this first part of Act Three to bed and move on to something . . .

Well, you’ll see.

Right On Down the Line

I’ll tell you, coming down to my local coffee shop on Sundays and writing for three hours straight has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.  I’ve finished the current scene after writing seventeen hundred and sixty-eight words, I’ve pushed the chapter over five thousand words, and the novel is now a few hundred words short of two hundred and twenty-nine thousand words.  I’m also sitting by a great window seat and dressed about as comfortably as ever.

Totally slipping into Basic White Girl land here.

Totally slipping into Basic White Girl land here.

Yes, that’s what I’m wearing today.  I’ve swapped out the Uggs for my leather Clark’s boots, but the leggings and Old Navy sweater dress are a reality, and I’m totally not sorry for being out like this.  It’s quite comfy, and it’s warm enough to be out like this, so it’s really great to get out and enjoy myself.  So I can work.  Yeah, why not?

A whole lot has happened out on this start/finish line, and I’m gonna give it to you all, because that’s the way I am.  And it more or less proves that I’ve been working, yeah?  Sure does.  So what did Kerry see after seeing Emma off?  Well . . .

 

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

He joined the group and hovered his helmet and gloves to his left. “Hey, guys: what’s up?”

Manco nodded in Kerry’s direction. “I just wanted to say a few things.” He looked down for a second before speaking. “First off, I need to have this said. Beginning of the season, when you came up—” He nodded towards Kerry again. “—Darius and I were pretty shitty to all you guys—”

“Pretty shitty?” Penny crossed her arms while a slight smile played upon her face. “I’d say it was more than pretty, considering you acted the same way towards Alex and me the season before.”
Manco considered Penny’s comment. “You’re right, we were—I was. The way we treated you last season sucked and was totally uncalled for.” He paused to see if someone else would comment, and proceeded when no one spoke up. “You all proved me wrong; you showed everyone—not just me, but all the other teams—who the best racers were in Cernunnos, and you did it where everyone could see: out on the track. I know it’s probably not going to mean a lot, but I want to apologize.” He looked at Penny and Alex. “You should have never been held back last season. It was wrong, and the team got screwed because it happened.”

Neither girl spoke for a few seconds, then Alex put their thoughts to words. “Thank you for telling us this, Manco, but you know, you’re team captain, and this is something you should have said in the ready room in front of Darius and Professor Semplen. It’s good that you’re saying this, but you should say it to everyone.”

Penny nodded. “This should be said in front of the whole team. You’re team captain, man; you gotta stop letting Darius get away with all this lame shite because you’re worried he’s gonna piss and moan.”

Manco chuckled as he looked down. “Yeah, well, you don’t have to share a room with him.”

Kerry figured it was time to speak up. “Yeah, but you’re just enabling him to act like a butt muffin to the rest of us. Anymore, all he does is race pissed off and he doesn’t do the team any good.” He looked around. “You notice he isn’t here.”

 

And the phrase of the day is “Butt muffin.”  Manco is trying to write a wrong here, and he’s actually apologizing to the girls more than to Kerry.  Which is fine with him, because he knows Penny and Alex should get apologies from the captain of the team.  Penny is right on the mark as well:  Manco should say this in front of everyone, not just the only girls on the team when he’s away from a disruptive teammate who we now discover is also his dormmate.  He’s getting the message, though, as well as a bit of support–

 

“I almost didn’t make this, either.” Manco looked away, not wanting to face anyone. “I’m lucky to be here.”

“Yeah, but you can race—” Penny lay a hand on his arm. “You can race; you’ve gotten a couple of podiums this season, and damn near won a few times.”

“You can turn this around.” Alex took a step closer to the boy. “You need to tell Darius to come with the rest of us, or tell the professor that we need to bring up another flier from the B Team.”

Kerry nodded. “Yeah, man; that’s your job.” He chuckled. “That’s why they pay you the big bucks.”

Manco finally laughed which got everyone else to laughing. “Yeah, right. I don’t know what to do with all the cash they’re sending my way.”

They had no sooner stopped laughing when they heard a voice in their comm helmets. “Attention, this is Race Control. The race will begin in ten minutes. All fliers make final preparations. We will light the starting grid in five minutes. Please stand by.”

The four students looked at each other while allowing the silence to fill the moment. Manco finally spoke, as he was team captain and felt it was his duty. “I know you guys are gonna do great. I’m gonna do my best to point: like the professor said, this is the first time in a long time the coven’s had four racers on this course, and all of us pointing would be a hell of a jump in the team standings”

Kerry playfully slapped Manco’s shoulder. “You can do a top-ten with ease, man.” He looked toward Penny and Alex, who were both nodding in agreement. “This is gonna be a good day.”

“You know it.” Penny stuck her right arm out and made a first. “Cernunnos.”

The rest of the team pressed their fists against Penny’s and echoed her sentiments. “Cernunnos.” Manco had the final word before they began their final preparations. “Let’s have a good race.”

 

The one thing we have not seen from Kerry’s team is a lot of unity, and this is really the first time we’ve seen them come together seem to be not just individual racers, but a real team.  I guess this is what comes of first acting like a butt muffin and thinking the girls and the new kid on the team are gonna suck, then continuing to act that way because they’ve proven you wrong as hell.  Tweener/Teen Drama:  even witches can’t get past this shit.

It looks like that’s changing with fist bumps all around and a general feeling of good will upon the course.  Now that Race Control–which is really Vicky as the over-all coordinator–has spoken, it’s time to get the show rolling:

 

Kerry grabbed his gloves from his helmet and slipped them on before pulling his hard racing helmet on over his soft comm helmet. He flipped up his face plate before touching the right side of his head. “Race Central, this is Starbuck. Comm check. Over.”

Professor Semplen voice came back soft and clear. “Starbuck, this is Race Central. We have you five-by-five. Over.”

“Rodger, Race Central. Read you five-by. Over and out.” Kerry pulled his Espinoza from Hammerspace and waited for his grid position to light up. He was slightly amused by the notion that for a race so long and arduous they still did this even on Class 1 PAVs. The reasoning, he was told, was one of tradition: since the race was run on the old, classic wooden brooms, there wasn’t any reason to make any changes. However, Erywin had told him a few weeks earlier that one of the reasons they’d decided against using Class 2 or 3 PAVs was the fear that someone would kill themselves.

“This is Race Central.” Everyone at the Start/Finish turned attentive as their final order began. “The race will begin in five minutes. We are lighting the grid in one minute. Remember that this is an inverted start, with those lowest in position starting up front and the best positions beginning at the rear. Each individual position will have you name and indicate your position. Once you position is illuminated, place your broom in position and await further instructions. The grid will appear in thirty seconds. Please stand by.”

Kerry stood about where he thought he would start, and a few seconds later, when the grid appeared, he discovered he was off by only a few meters. He set his broom on the red “X” hovering a half meter above the ground beside his name and his starting position for this race. Being sixth in the over-all individual standings meant starting eleventh on the Katahdin course, which actually put him slightly behind the middle of the pack. Being first in the individual standings Nadine was all the way in the back, five positions back and on Kerry’s right, while Rivânia two rows direction behind him on the left side of the course, and Penny in the row ahead of them and directly in front of Nadine.

Alex, fifth in the individual standings, was in the same row as Kerry and to his right and slightly behind him. He watched her shoot a death stare at Emma, who was directly ahead of Alex in the next row and starting in tenth due to being seventh in individual standings. He knew the reason for the animosity: on two occasions Emma had beaten Alex to the finish line through what the later felt was overly aggressive racing, and three weeks earlier Alex lost a race to Emma when, on the last lap, Emma slid into Alex as they negotiated the Green Line’s Diamond Chicane. The bobble was enough to cause Alex to lose momentum and come in second behind Emma’s forth win, and though she’d appealed the aggressive move to Race Control, they ruled that Emma’s move didn’t appear intentional, and refused to penalize the Mórrígan racer.

This didn’t sit well with Alex, and after the podium presentation she exchanged words with Emma, who responded by flipping off the Ukrainian racer. While no spells were thrown, Alex nearly connected with a punch to Emma’s face before Nadine, Penny, and Kerry got between the two girls and stopped the impending fight.

Since that time both teams kept an eye on the two fliers, and before the pre-race briefing, Penny and Kerry pulled Alex aside and reminded her to not worry about Emma. Kerry wasn’t worried about trouble on the course: this was a first-time race for all three of them, and all the new people were fully aware the race difficult enough without bringing personal issues to the track.

 

We learn a few things here.  One, everyone still uses the Class 1 brooms for racing because back in the old days the witches ran this course on the real brooms, those damn uncomfortable wooden things they stuck between their legs.  There probably is some truth to the fact that people might have a better chance of getting killed if they did the faster, more responsive brooms, but let’s face it:  if they aren’t dying at the school on those suckers, they probably won’t on the Katahdin course, either.  It’s all about tradition, kids, don’t let anyone fool you.

And we also learn of the Emma/Alex Issues!  First she takes out her wingmate because she’s a little pissed, and now she’s done pissed off his team mate, and done so enough that Alex went in swinging on her ass.  The Bolder Ginger needs to watch herself, ’cause the last thing she wants is a crazy Ukrainian gunning for her–

Okay, maybe not this crazy a Ukrainian.

Okay, maybe not this crazy a Ukrainian.

–but you can imagine if three people jumped in to break the sucker up, it was serious.  Also, you have to wonder about the look on Emma’s face as a fist went sailing past her nose while the air was filled with Ukrainian curses.  It  was probably a bit humorous for everyone watching.  Makes you wonder, too, how Emma would react to a piss-off sorceress throwing death spells at her . . .

All that remains to getting ready:

 

“This is Race Control. All fliers mount your brooms and remain in hover. The race will begin in two minutes. Please stand by.” Kerry slipped his leg over his broom and used transformation magic to slip his genitals into his body before getting comfortable in the saddle. He looked back at Alex and gave her a thumbs up, which she returned. He faced forward and mentally prepared himself for the difficult hour and fifteen minutes ahead—

“This is Race Control. One minute to race start. Light are on the course.” A row of steadily glowing red lights appeared several meters ahead of Anna, who was starting on the pole due to making the race the week before. “Spyeyes in place and active. Activating elevation gates.” Down the length of the course ahead the hovering gates the races needed to pass appeared. “All flier, attend to final preparations.”

Kerry slapped down his face plate and leaned over his broom, waiting for the signal to begin. For just a second he imagined Annie sitting at their table in the Dining Hall, watching the race playing upon holographic screens. They’d done the same thing last year; this year she and Jairo, maybe Alex’s boyfriend Kahoku as well, were watching him prepare to take on the mountain—

“This is Race Control. Fifteen seconds to start. Set the light.” The red lights started flashing. “Ten seconds.” The row of lights went to black, then a single red light appeared on the left as a beeping tone sounded in everyone’s comm. As the beeping continued the lights began activating from left to right, turning to yellow as it continued to the right. “Five seconds, and . . .” The last light on the right illuminated, all turned to a flashing yellow for a few seconds before every overhead light turned a bright, steady green. “GO.”

 

With that we are totally off and running, and you know what’s coming–

Maybe the race?

Maybe the race?

Yeah, I’d say that’s a good bet.

The Myriad Ways of the Race

The course is totally laid out now, so no more blabbering on about that.  Once I show you the last three sections, I’m done, so your various body parts can stop exploding because I’m all into the world building at the moment.  It is fun, though:  you can’t imagine what it’s like until you do this.

So, last three sections:

Let's start here, shall we?

Let’s start here, shall we?

This happens not long after coming off Hamlin Peak, and it sees the last of the big, fast climbs–in this case, about 450 meters up to North Brother, one of the smaller peaks on the whole mountain complex.  It’s at North Brother Switch that the fliers are at 1219 meters/4000 feet for the last time, and after this, from point 3 to point 10, it’s an 800 meter/1600 foot flight downhill, with position 10, Splash, sitting at an elevation of 430 meters/1410 feet.

Then we go–

Here.

Here.

We’re flying straight north and pretty much flat out for most of it, as points 6 and 7 act as a chicane for the racers.  Not a lot of variation in the terrain now, save for the little up, down, up at the West Butte/Hollow/East Butte combination.  This section is really where the racers start to pour it on for the finish, and point 7 sees a fair share of crashes due to people getting a little too excited near the end.

And lastly:

We're just about home--literally.

We’re just about home–literally.

The final sprint back to the Start/Finish line.  You’re pretty much out of the hills here and rushing towards the end, and the fast turn combination of Wrap Around and Final offer a final passing opportunity before starting another lap or finishing the race.  And given the size of this track, those last two turns are big, so one can carry a lot of speed through them if you don’t mind the gee forces.  But Kerry knows how to beat that . . .

That’s it:  all done.  The course is laid out.  Now–we are back to the Ready Room, where Vicky is getting the fliers, um, ready:

 

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

“There are four way a racer will find themselves in this race, and each of you meet one or more of those four points. For you new people who may have been asleep for a year or more, here are each of those points—

“First: you are in the top three of over-all A Team individual standings among all covens. For the first time in a while the three students in the top three are from separate covens: Mórrígan, Åsgårdsreia, and Cernunnos. And for one of those fliers, this is her first time here because of her standings. Congratulation.” Kerry and Alex quietly gave Penny, who was third in those standings, soft fist bumps.

“Second: if you aren’t here because you’re in the top three, then we take next two best fliers from their individual A Team coven standings. For Ceridwen and Blodeuwedd, this means their first and second place fliers are here, and for the other three covens their second and third place fliers are present. There are several new people here this morning, all due to the efforts they’ve put forth on the track.” Penny took that moment to point her thumbs toward the team members to either side of her: her dorm mate Alex, who was second in the coven standings, and Kerry, who was third.

 

There you have it:  the top three racers in Cernunnos are Penny, Alex, and Kerry, in that order.  Quite a difference from the “You guys suck, stay out of our way” routine they got at the start of the season from Manco and Darius.  And fist bumping–did you ever see anyone on a quidditch team fist bump?  No, you didn’t.  Because my kids are like real kids, only they know magic.  And they’re gonna race on a big ass mountain.

But there’s more!

 

Vicky paused a moment to collect her thoughts before continuing. “These first two rules ensure we always have a minimum of thirteen racers on the course. We haven’t had the minimum start the race since 1996, and given the level of talent coming up, I don’t expect that to happening again any time soon—mostly due to these next two points—

“The third way to gain entry into this race if you don’t meet the criteria set forth in Points One and Two, is to win a points paying A Team race from the time of the first scheduled race after the last running of this event, up to the last scheduled race before this event. Today we have three racers here because of this point. We have Soroushi Amouzegar from Blodeuwedd, who won a race in November—” She pointed at the D Level girl from Iran sitting with the rest of her team mates. “—Manco Mamani from Cernunnos, who won back in April during the 2011/12 Season—” She nodded at him, sitting at Kerry’s far right. “—and Anna Laskar from Åsgårdsreia, who managed to win last week’s Grand Melee.” The German girl grinned as she was playfully hugged by one of her team mates.  “Congratulations: you couldn’t have managed a bigger win than that.

“And fourth and last: if you are a past winner of this race, you are automatically entered in this event, and that ruling remains in place up to a year after you graduate. We had a graduate who was eligible to participate in this event, and she respectfully declined—which is fine. Unless you’re keeping your racing skills sharp after you leave school, you probably don’t want to tackle this course after a year away from any track.

 

So Manco is there because he won a race almost a year earlier.  He’s probably feeling quite humble right now, as he was in this race the year before on position.  I should point out that Soroushi is in her second year of racing, but her first full one on the A Team, and Anna–well, we know Anna.  And she seems to be happy because she scored the last win possible that would get her into this event.  No wonder she’s all smiles.  Probably did it to spite Lisa for taking her out just to get to Kerry.

 

“And the Mount Katahdin course is unlike any any of you have ever tackled. For seven of you, yesterday’s cruse-through so you could familiarize yourself with the track and placement of elevation gates was your first time here, and you are going to be surprised. Maybe people have said this course has the speed of the Green Line, the variation of the Blue, and the technical difficulty of the Red. Even so, this course is nothing like what you’ve run before.

“Three laps of one hundred kilometers each for a total of three hundred kilometers. That’s huge, but for you new people who watched the race last year, that only means if you want to win, you have to fly flat out. Since 1989 there has been only one flier who won with a time of greater than seventy-five minutes, and they did so with a time of 75:24. Every other winner has has beat seventy-five minutes, and we’re getting closer to beating the seventy minute mark—thought for a moment we were going to do it last year.” Nearly everyone in the room cast a glance towards Rivânia Suassuna, who won the race the year before with a time of 71:07. “This means covering four kilometers every minute, and that means an average speed of two hundred forty kilometers an hour.

“I know what you new people are thinking: that shouldn’t be that hard. And it isn’t—until you fly into a switch back at two hundred, that is, or sail over a hump at over two-fifty, or do the five hundred meters drop off from High Dive to Basin Ridge at better than three hundred kph, and then you’ll probably begin to wonder what the hell you’re doing zipping around a mountain in Maine on a cold Saturday morning.” She looked over her shoulder at the Astronomy instructor. “That feeling is probably going to start as soon as you hear the weather report for the course. Harpreet?”

 

Should point out that Nadine is in first place in the standings, and Rivânia is right behind her. so there’s your Mórrígan and  Åsgårdsreia people in the top three.  But Rivânia holds the course record, so expect Nadine to go after that today.

As you can summarize, the majority of the tops in the listings have the majority of the wins, if only three people outside the top two or three in a coven are racing here.  Which makes sense, because the top thirteen people there will have nearly all the wins, because they are the best.  And in case you’re wondering–and I know some are–in third place over on the Mórrígan coven team sits Emma, and she probably as happy as Kerry to have made the show.

Sure, I gotta do some running around tonight, but . . . the briefing is near the end.

And then we can get to the good stuff.

Polar On ‘Till Next Year

I certainly surprised myself.  Got back into the grind at work, though it wasn’t a lot, but I was accomplished on a few hours of sleep and the whirlwind of the travel to and from the Midwest.  As much as I wanted to stop for a beverage last night, there was no way in hell I could given how tired I felt.  I’ve had been sound asleep at seven PM.

So I got into writing after I at.  And as slow as things seem to go along the way, I never realized that I’d written twelve hundred and forty-five words to finish the scene.  I also didn’t believe this scene would take nearly two thousand words to complete.  Wrong on both accounts.

The idea behind this scene was to actually give people and idea how this oh-so-often discussed event begins.  We know we’re here, but what is really going on?  We’re about to find out, and you’ll see that it’s not too exciting if you’re watching from the sidelines.

 

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

Though there were five teams in Advanced Flight Two only three elected to do the Polar Express this year. As Annie had heard at the same time as Kerry, one of the teams had started to come apart, teamwork-wise, and they’d both told Vicky they believed it best if they didn’t try to brave the wilds of Canada.

The other team was far more straight forward: one member had suffered two concussions from accidents near the end of team racing for 2012, and though the team member was cleared for flying and racing, her partner and she decided that spending a couple of days freezing their butts off wasn’t in their best interest.

Annie, along with Kerry, was there to send off one team in particular—one with whom they’d grown close, and whose members had shared much with Kerry this school year—

The lights in the Dining Hall dropped to about one-quarter illumination so the teams would not have to deal with night blindness when they jaunted into the wilderness. The three teams entered the hall and walked towards friends who’d gathered to see them off. One team approached two people and spoke with them for a few seconds before turning and approaching Annie and Kerry. One of the members hooked her thumbs in the pockets of her winter parka, letting the mittens attached to the sleeves dangle at her sides. “Thanks for coming out, guys.”

“Did you think we were going to let our floor mates leaving without saying goodbye?” Annie shook her head. “Not a chance.”

Penny nodded. “Yeah, well . . .” She chuckled. “I see you dressed up for us.”

Kerry moved closer to Annie. “Sorry, I left my formal wear back in Cardiff.” He switched gaze from Penny to her flying partner, Alex. “You must be pretty excited about now.”

“Not so much because this is the worst part—” Alex bit the inside of her lower lip for a few seconds “Not knowing where we are going, only that wherever we end up it’ll be cold and dark.”

“Canada in wintertime.” Penny tapped Alex on the arm. “Just be glad we don’t have to fly back from Alaska or Russia.”

 

Yeah, they could call this shit the Siberian Express, and then you’d really end up screwed.  Imagine flying out of there in the dead of winter.

It made complete sense that Penny and Alex, who are members of Advanced Flight Two, were going to set off on a tour of Canada during the winter, armed only with camping gear, their brooms, and their wits.  And since their racing mate is on the same floor with them, it makes even more sense that Annie and Kerry would stay up–as did a lot of other students–to see them off.

Now comes the time for goodbyes and hugs–

 

Before Alex could retort Vicky’s voice boomed out over the hall’s magical speakers. “Attention, all teams: departures begin in five minutes. Finish up your goodbyes and see to your equipment.”
Annie reached out and gave Penny a hug. “Have an uneventful flight.”

“Thanks.” Penny closed her eyes and hugged her second floor fried tight. “We’ll do our best.”

Alex slipped in around Penny and hugged Annie. “See you in a couple of days; keep Jairo out of trouble.”

“No promises there—” Annie nodded towards Kerry as she spoke in Ukrainian. “U mene ye sviy lyublyu dyvytysya, vy znayete.”

Alex replied in Bulgarian. “Mozhete da napravite poveche ot tova prosto da gledate, da znaesh.”

Both girls nodded and giggled before Annie switched back to English. “All true.”

 

It’s apparent Annie and Alex have been working on each other’s languages, and they probably can now converse just a little.  And what do they say?  Something like this:

 

Annie:  U mene ye sviy lyublyu dyvytysya, vy znayete.  (I have my own love to watch, you know.)

Alex:  Mozhete da napravite poveche ot tova prosto da gledate, da znaesh.  (You can do more than just watch, you know.)

 

Alex, you cheeky little girl.  These witches move fast, or at least the girls do.  Hormones and maturity, you know, while these boy witches are just so slow . . .

Now that the girls have said goodbye to Annie, there’s on person left:

 

Penny glanced at Annie and waited for a slight nod before giving Kerry a hug. “Keep Annie warm while we’re away.”

“That’s never too hard to do.” He finished his hug and accepted another from Alex. “Try and have fun if you can.”

“When we’re no freezing.” She stepped back when she was finished. “We’ll be here next year to see you off.”

Kerry looked down, touched by the sentiment. “Thanks.”

“Come on—” Penny nodded towards the two boys standing close together. “We don’t have much time.”

“Okay.” Alex waved to her friends. “See you soon.”

“Don’t drink all the hot chocolate while we’re gone.” Penny gave a farewell wave as they hurried over to say goodbye to their boyfriends. Annie and Kerry turned away and moved off a distance to give the couples a little privacy. Annie didn’t want to watch their final words, hugs, and kisses: she was already imagining herself being in the same position a year from now, and it wasn’t making her happy.

Vicky called out a two minute warning and the teams proceeded directly to their equipment. Penny and Alex snapped up their parka hoods and moved their goggles into place before lifting their large backpacks into place. As Vicky called the first team to the circle set out on the section of the floor where Kerry and she shared their Samhain dances, Penny and Alex put on their mittens and picked up their brooms—

“Team Wormwood.” Vicky nodded at the girls before motioning towards the circle. “You’re up.”

Annie held onto Kerry’s arm as the girls moved into place for jaunting. They explained their team name during one Midnight Madness, with Penny telling them that she wanted something that would link Alex and her together, and they went with Wormwood, because of its connection to the drink absinthe, to the creation of natural healing mixtures—and because the Ukrainian word for wormwood was chernobyl. As Penny said, “We can heal, we can make strange things happen, and we can meltdown on you at any moment.”

 

First off, notice that Penny and Alex sought, and received, permission to get huggy with Kerry.  All the girls are in relationships, so they are aware of the code in place:  ask before touching.  They also know Annie’s a sorceress, and they want to head off to Canada without smoke rising from their bodies.

Also, all the stuff about wormwood is true.  You can use it to make healing mixtures, a variety is used to make absinthe, and the Ukrainian word for wormwood is chernobyl.  That last I’ve known about for some time, and the first two were something I discovered last night.

The girls are all geared up and ready to go.  All that remains is the departure.

 

They stood in the circle as Isis confirmed setting up the jaunt with her people in the security station. She finally nodded to girls and held up her hand with her fingers spread, indicating five seconds to go. Alex took Penny’s hand as they hosted their brooms into the air—

They vanished from the circle with the familiar sound of air popping as it rushed in to occupy where they’d stood a second before. It was only when Annie heard Kerry exhale did she realized he’d held his breath in the moments leading up to the girl’s departure. “Are you okay, my love?”

“Yeah, I’m—” He took a deep breath as he wrapped his arm around Annie. “I’m fine, Darling.”

The last team jaunted off, leaving the staff and students lingering in the protracted silence. Annie didn’t want them there any longer than necessary. “I’d say it’s time for bed—agreed?”

Kerry was about to say something when something caught his attention. Annie found the source right away: it was Emma, standing with a group of girls from her coven. She nodded slowly at him, but he didn’t respond except to nod and wave. “Agreed—” He wrapped his left arm around Annie and turned towards the Dining Hall exit. “Time for bed.”

They were nearly half way to their coven before Kerry spoke. “No flying at all tomorrow.” He planted a soft kiss on Annie’s cheek. “We could sleep in if we wanted.”

“And if we were sharing a room, I’d want just that.” She leaned against him as they walked. “I thought you were going to speak with Emma after that last jaunt.”

He rested his head against hers. “I could tell that’s what she wanted.”

“Then why didn’t you?”

Kerry stopped and moved so he was facing his soul mate. “I’ve got a year to talk about the Polar Express with Emma.” He pulled Annie closer and held her tight. “But we have our first Friday and Saturday at school without classes for the first time since like the start of our B Levels, and I want to spend that with you.”

Annie set her arms around her love’s shoulders and kissed him with the cold darkness surrounding them. “I love you entirely too much.”

“I don’t think that’s possible—” He kissed her for almost fifteen seconds before continuing on towards their coven tower. “Give it enough time, and we’ll discover there’ll be lots of room for more love.”

 

Right there Kerry makes his choice, and while he could have had a few minutes with Emma going on about, “Hey, wait until we do this!” and so on, he wanted to head off to bed with Annie instead.  As he says, I have all year to talk with her, but right now I’m with you, and there really couldn’t be anything more true given that he was probably thinking ahead to the next year when he’s probably going to do this same event with the Ginger From Boulder.

So there–

One scene down, several to go.

One scene down, five to go.

And the next three involve our favorite dark witch at Salem–

No, not the small one:  the bigger one.  You’ll see.

Significant Significances

Far better mood I have this morning, thank you.  Yesterday was all about getting stressed out at work, then getting away, getting something to eat, coming home and trying not to lost my emotions.  Okay, didn’t quite make that last one, but everything else happened, and with gusto, as the old beer ads used to say.

It’s life.  Move on.

Things are downright cozy back at the coven tower, though it’s not quite as alone here as it was in the last scene . . .

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

For most of the night they sat before the fire, talking, listening to whatever played on Kerry’s computer, and watching students return to the coven. About twenty-one the last of the coven’s students arrived—D Level Darius Roy and A Level Nancy Piugattuk from Canada, and A Levels Huwey Juanico from the island of Guadeloupe and Menan Torres from Paraguay. Darius waved to his fellow racers as he headed for the stairs—the first time Annie could remember him doing anything that looked outwardly friendly—while the three A Levels sat off to one side of the ground floor for about fifteen minutes chatting. Before heading to their floor they came over to introduce themselves, hoping they weren’t “breaking the fishbowl” by speaking to upper levelmates. Everyone welcomed their warmly, and Kerry told them that this time late year Annie and he were living on their floor, and that while he couldn’t speak for all the students in the coven, those on the second floor were “pretty cool”.

Annie couldn’t keep the smile off here face, even after the A Levels went to their rooms. As much contact as they’d had with upper levelmates during the last year, they’d yet to have contact with the A Levels in their own coven, and she liked how Kerry made them feel welcome. A year ago at this time her moyata polovinka was a quiet bundle of nerves and unhappiness: now he was comfortable with both school, friend, and most of all, his soul mate. She also, in that moment, realized they would be the ones welcoming the new B Levels to the second floor . . .

Since this is the first time we’ve really seen the new students at Cernunnos, and like a lot of other towers the students are from all over the place.  Kerry and Annie, as pointed out, had little access to the upper levels of their own towers:  all of the older students they met came from the other four.  Here now, however, The Party of Five–well, Six for the moment–are taking time to say hi and make the new kid feel welcome.  This is something that’ll get touched on much later in the novel, but for now, it looks as if all the young witches have come home to roost.

Some, however, need to visit other parts of the school first–

As the time neared twenty-two Alex and Kahoku left; he was tired and want to get to sleep, and she wanted to bid him a good night. In the aftermath of their departure the remaining couples grew quiet as they listened to music. Penny and Jairo moved to the floor in front of the fireplace and cuddled, while Kerry lay back against the sofa arm while Annie lay back against him. There wasn’t a need for conversation: both couples wanted to reacquaint themselves with each other. Annie paid no attention to what her floor mates were doing: it was a habit she’d immediately picked up once they began attending the Midnight Madness. It was an unspoken rule that as long as you didn’t stare at others, they wouldn’t stare back.

And Annie was well aware Kerry and she did enough to warrant stares from others.

Alex returned a half-hour after leaving. Penny turned around to greet her, with Jairo taking his time moving around. “You give Kaho some good night snuggles?”

“I gave him more than snuggles.” Alex slid over the arm of the love seat where her levelmates had sat most of the evening. “I so missed him.”

“I know that feeling.” Annie pulled Kerry’s arms around her before adjusting the covers over her legs.

“I checked the status board in the Atrium on the way back—” Alex swung one leg over the love seat arm. “Only about half the instructors and staff are here.” She intertwined her fingers and cracked her knuckled. “Only three of the coven leaders, too.”

Kerry rested his chin against Annie’s shoulder. “Which ones?”

“Arrakis, Salden, and Palmescoff.” Alex snorted. “I met Palmescoff on the way over to Blodeuwedd; she was on her way to the Instructor’s Residence.”

“What was she doing?” Jairo snorted before asking the followup. “Checking on her students?”

“Probably. Don’t know. I didn’t go inside.” The blond Ukrainian girl wiggled her eyebrows. “We didn’t go right to his tower, if you know what I mean.”

Penny chuckled. “No need to elaborate.” She stood and helped Jairo to his feet. “And speaking of good nights, we’re heading up to the second for a few of our own.”

“Sounds like a good idea.” Alex was on her feet before she turned to the couple on the sofa. “You guys coming?”

“We’re going to stay up a bit longer.” Annie turned slightly so she rested on her side against Kerry. “We still have catching up to do.”

Yes, Annie and Kerry have “catching up to do”.  I guess that’s what kids there are gonna call it, right?  But we do get to see that the Lovey Dovey couple aren’t the only ones who do the snogging thing.  And Alex didn’t take her boyfriend right home?  Whatever could she mean?

So lets sorta bring the lights down a little on this party . . .

Penny was about to say something when Alex tapped her arm. “Come on; let the lyubyty ptakhiv have their privacy.”

“Yeah.” Penny gave them a wave. “See you guys in the morning.”

Jairo nodded. “See you later.”

Kerry gave them a short wave. “Mañana, guys.”

Annie did the same. “Have a good night.”

Alex was the last to leave. “Don’t stay up too late.” She chuckled as she bounded up the stairs after her friends.

It wasn’t until their friends were out of sight that Annie stretched out and relaxed. “Alone at last.”

“And I think completely this time.” He slid down slightly so he could rest his head. “We got the whole commons to ourselves.”

“Which mean we should make good use of the space—” Annie rolled around and gave Kerry a short kiss. “I missed you so much, my love.”

First comes the missing, then come the kissing, and then comes the . . . magic?

First comes the missing, then come the kissing, and then comes the . . . magic?

The scene isn’t quite over, and it’ll lead directly into two scenes that comes pretty much back-to-back to each other.  But I have to end this on off first, and that may happen tonight, as there is a bunch of stuff I should do tonight, but that I may put off until tomorrow–

We’ll see–won’t we, Scarlett?

Down On the Deck: Asked and Answered

Yesterday was all about me, but–what about my kids?  Well, they’re around.  In particular Annie, who’s hanging out at the Flight School waiting for Kerry to return.  That’s one of the reasons this is all about Annie right now, because Kerry is somewhere in the air and on his way home.  Annie, however:  she’s back at the school and, believe it or not, hanging with the girls.  Which girls, you ask?  Let’s get right into the action, because I didn’t show you much yesterday.

 

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

The Flight Deck was on the second floor of the Flight School, situated directly over the first floor Briefing Room. Normally it was used during emergencies—it was from here that Holoč Semplen kept track of the fliers on patrol during the Day of the Dead attacks—but today it was being used for its other purpose, which was to monitor student flights beyond the walls. Not every student flying outside the walls was tracked: only those PAVs with active tracking were watched, and the school could only track up to one hundred kilometers from the Great Hall. Continue reading

The Samhain Dance: Of Costumes and Congratulations

This installment was one of those I didn’t think was going to come off last night.  Why?  Because I didn’t start writing until about nine-thirty, due to the fact I was involved in a video chat with someone I know, and we were discussing dieting options.  It went on longer than I imagined, but hey, those thing happen.  I’m going to be jammed up a bit this coming weekend, and thing will turn hectic on the writing front.

But I’ll still be here.  Somehow.

Oh, and I finally shaved my head last night.  Now my wig stays right to my head with no moving around.  It’s something I’ve meant to do for a while, and now it’s done.  And, no:  there won’t be pictures.  Well, maybe a video . . .

Now the other people are starting to show up in the story, and that means you’ll start seeing costumes, of which I have a list because that’s how I roll.  Shall we begin, then?

 

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

They looked up in time as Nadine approached wearing a black and yellow-gold jumpsuit. Her red hair was layered around her shoulders, and something that looked like a small purple dragon sat upon her shoulder. “I was wondering when you’d show—” She stopped and gave both Annie and Kerry a careful examination. “Interesting outfits.”

“Thanks.” Kerry gave the “I could say the same thing—Kitty.” He looked up at the creature sitting on Nadine’s shoulder. “How you doing, Lockheed?”

Nadine chuckled at the dragon spoke using a combination of tweets, whistles, and chortles. “He says hi.”

Annie found herself impressed by Nadine’s outfit—and the dragon on her shoulder, which she figured was a homunculus. “Who are you supposed to be?”

Nadine looked to Kerry. “You want to tell her?”

He should his head. “I think I already did.”

Nadine turned her eyes upwards. “Yeah, you did.” She smiled at Annie. “I’m Kitty Pryde, and this—” She held up a gloved hand for the purple dragon to rub its face against. “—is Lockheed. He’s my best bud—aren’t you, dude?” The dragon spoke in the same gibberish language as before, seeming pleased and content.

Kerry filled in the blanks for Annie, figuring that she had no idea what they were saying. “Kitty’s a mutant—one of the X Men—just like the character Nadine played last year. You know how Wednesday’s call sign is Shadowcat ‘cause she can do phasing magic?”

“Yes.”

“Well—” He motioned towards Nadine. “Meet the real Shadowcat.”

 

Nadine seems to have a thing for playing comic book mutants, which probably means she reads comic books.  As Kerry stated, Kitty can phase through any material–walk through walls, if you will, just like Wednesday has shown she can do.  As for the creature on her shoulder . . . yeah, Lockheed, an alien who becomes Kitty’s best friend and companion, and who actually begins drinking heavily in one comic when it looks as if Kitty has died–which if you know the Marvel universe is almost always a load of bullshit.

A mutant girl and her dragon are never parted.

A mutant girl and her alien dragon are never parted.

His existence at the party will get mentioned, though it seems Annie is on the right track . . .

Now someone else shows up–

 

“Yeah, only I can’t do the same stuff Wednesday does, at least not yet.” Nadine shrugged. “I should start getting that this year.”

Annie looked forward to the day she would learn Phasing. Her mother once told her that she’d learned enough to be able to push small object through walls, but she’d always been too worried about something going wrong if she’d tried moving through a wall herself. “I hope Wednesday starts showing how that works; I’m eager to try.”

“Oh, I figured you would.” Nadine looked them both over once again. “Who are you supposed to be?”

“I was wondering that myself.” Jessica walked over dressed in a light, flowing white gown modified to allow her the use of her eight arms, four on each side of her torso. “I have to say I like the hair. Who did them?”

Annie pushed her aqua hair back from her shoulders. “Kerry did his, I did mine.” She reached over and mussed his now-bright blond locks. “This was one of the first things he taught me.”

“I see.” Jessica took a step closer to the couple. “Did you do something to your noses?”

“Thinned them out just a touch.” Kerry took in his Advanced Transformation instructor’s costume. “Are you Tou Mu?”

Jessica straighted a touch. “I’m impressed. Most people have guessed Kali.”

“Kali had four arms, not eight. And you’ve a star in one hand and the sun in another. Plus—” His hand moved up and down, as if he were tracing something upon Jessica. “Outfit’s all wrong for Kali, but not for a Chinese deity.”

Nadine looked down while shaking her head. “How do you know this stuff?”

“Learned it from a role playing game first, and then read more after that.” He shrugged. “Isn’t that what you did?”

“Kinda.” Nadine chewed her lower lip for a few seconds. “Comics with me, then started reading stuff on the Internet.”

Annie tugged at Kerry’s jacket sleeve. “Here they come.”

 

Jessica with eight arms–neat trick, but when you’re the Mistress of Transformation, anything is possible.  And Kerry is right:  you can learn about these things from role playing games, ’cause that’s where I first heard of Tou Mu, and then I went and looked her up.  By the way, Jessica didn’t change her complexion this year, so she’s straight-up dark Chinese deity.

She also doesn't look as if she came off a woodcarving.

She also doesn’t look as if she came off a woodcarving.

But now, there’s someone else.  Who is this “they” Annie speaks of coming?

 

“I see.” He raised his right hand in greeting. “Greetings, floor mates.”

Penny waved back. “Hail to you—” She stuffed her hands in the pockets of her black leather jacket. “Strange costumed creatures.” She turned to Jairo on her left. “You figure them out yet?”

“Are you kidding?” His shrug was almost hidden in the folds of his World War II military coat. “Bad enough they got that secret lab in the lower levels to work on their stuff.”

Annie giggled. “Can’t be much of a secret if you know where it’s at.” She smiled as she nodded in Alex’s direction. “You must be Rose, yes?” She already knew Penny was dressed as the Ninth Doctor from the show Doctor Who, and that Jairo had come as Jack Harkness from both Doctor Who and Torchwood. She’d gotten enough clues from Kerry to figure out Alex was dressed as one of the Doctor’s Companions.

Alex tugged on her Union Jack tee shirt. “Of course; just don’t ask me to speak in English accent.”

“You don’t want to hear it.” Penny shook her head. “It’s horrible.”

“I only have to pretend to be English girl—” She ran her fingers through her bangs. “At least I have proper hair.”

Kerry leaned towards Annie. “And it’s not even peroxided.”

Alex stuck out her tongue. “Which means I’m better than English girl.”

Oi.” Penny rolled her eyes before the three students moved closer to Jessica, Nadine, and their covermates. She faced Nadine. “By the way, I didn’t get the chance before, but congratulations on your win.”

“Thanks.” Nadine’s win came during Stage Two when Mórrígan raced against Cernunnos. “And congratulations on your two seconds.” She shook Penny’s hand before shaking Alex’s. “And a third, fourth, and fifth for you.” She shifted glances between all three of the Cernunnos fliers. “All of you; that was some racing out there today.”

 

So now their covenmates appear, and they look like they’re right out of An Empty Child:

And if you don't think Kerry won't say the trademark expression from this episode, you don't know me.

And if you don’t think Kerry won’t say the trademark expression from this episode, you don’t know me.

Also, for the first time we see someone crossplaying, as they say in the biz, ’cause Penny is being Penny, and she certainly wasn’t changed into a skinny white dude like Chris in the Middle in the above image.  Nope, she’s just being her awesome self playing a character neither her gender or ethnicity because she can.

So there we have nine hundred words of the scene continued, and that was enough to push the story over ninety-five thousand words.  And it allowed me to mark off people on my costume list:

Can't tell the characters without a--you know the rest.

Can’t tell the characters without a–you know the rest.

That’s the list of everyone who’ll be seen and/or mentioned, and they all have costumes.  I had to stretch my brain just a little to find something for everyone, and I have to say I did a good job.

Notice, though, that you still haven’t seen what Annie and Kerry are wearing.  Oh, sure, there are hints, but nothing for sure.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll show you.  Maybe.

Back On the Blue: Southward Bound and Done

Here I am, up early and getting the post out before I have to hit the road for The Burg in a few hours.  An so I wouldn’t have to rush around this morning doing a lot of different things while trying to get this out, I wrote last night–a lot.

First off, I did manage ninety thousand words without a problem–

As you can see.

As you can see.

But that was just the beginning.  See, I didn’t want to leave this scene hanging while I spent ten hours on the road, so I decided I’d finish it.  Which meant that no matter how much time it took, I would.  And . . . I did.

It took two thousand and sixty-eight words, but it is done.  This scene is finished–just like Kerry’s first A Team race.

It wasn’t easy to write, and there was a lot of looking at stuff I made up and imagining the Lad From Cardiff as he zip through the various check points on the ground and in the air with a little blond Ukrainian hot on his butt, and I even had to do a little math here and there as well because science and magic do work together at times.

Speaking of that math, it starts right away:

 

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

The turn coming up was one of the easiest on the Blue Line, and yet still one of the hardest. Observatory Bend was a two hundred and ten degree carousel turn three hundred by three hundred meters long and across. It was a lot of room to make a turn, but most racers tried to take the turn at as high a speed as possible, and with those high speeds came high g forces. In a couple of practice runs Kerry had taken the turn on his Class 1 at two hundred twenty kilometers and ran up a force of two and a half gravities, but now, racing on the Class 2s with Alex a matter of meters behind him, two hundred kilometers and hour wouldn’t be enough: he’d need more speed . . .

He slowed just enough to keep from overshooting, but still held on to more than three hundred an hour as he hunkered over the handlebars and held on. The g meter in the upper left of the HUD showed the gravities building: two Gs, three, four . . . Three hundred meters into the turn, and with five hundred to go, Kerry held the turn while pulling five gravities of centripetal acceleration. His vision was turning gray; his shoulders, ribs, and hips hurt, alleviated only slightly by enchantments in his racing uniform; his wrists felt like they were about to snap away. Worst of all, even with protection, his genitals alternated between being pushed into the saddle and being crushed by a torso suddenly five times heavier. His first two times around Observatory Bend weren’t nearly this bad, due to his speed being slower because he wasn’t racing

He held the turn for almost eight seconds, then straightened the PAV, managing to catch his breath so he could accelerate through the fast turn to the right that once more led him back the Observatory Tower and on to Skyway. This stretch was only a third of the length of the Green Line’s West End, but Kerry was sixty meters above the ground and well clear of the trees, and the kilometer long stretch allowed for a quick seven or eight second sprint into the one turn that scared the hell out of everyone. Kerry entered the sweeping left hander at end of Skyway, popped his speed breaks, and set up for the most feared turn on the Blue Line . . .

 

Those g forces and the time down Skyway–how did I know them?  I have online calculators bookmarked for when I need to figure something out.  Figuring out the amount of force Kerry and the others pulled.  I did know how large the turn was because I measured it:

 

I used the three hundred meter stick.

I used the three hundred meter stick.

Then I went to my calculator and plugs in the numbers:

Ignore that red mark, it knows not what it says.

Ignore that red mark, it knows not what it says.

So I know that Kerry pulled five gs through that turn.  And since I can find the circumference of a circle, and I figure out from the angular velocity that he would cover the distance I have in about the time I indicted.  Just for the record, Kerry and Alex were going about one hundred and ninety through that turn, which is about what a stock car does going through Turns One and Two at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  Should turn these kids loose on those dudes . . .

As for the trip down Skyway, I used another calculator:

Once you know how long and how fast, the rest is easy.

Once you know how long and how fast, the rest is easy.

So in figuring out an average speed for four hundred fifty kilometers per hours, Kerry would cover that kilometers in around eight seconds.  I didn’t even figure out the g forces here, but they’d be pretty good, too, probably two or three every time they accelerated and braked.

And speaking of breaking . . .

 

Helter Skelter was, according to nearly everyone who raced the Blue Line, the most technical turn, the most difficult turn, the most hated turn, and the most feared turn—usually all four at the same time. Kerry brought his PAV to as slow a speed as possible before yanking on the hand grips hard to pull himself through the one hundred and fifty degree turn to his right, then shot downward towards the tree tops. He skimmed the tops, spotting his entry into the trees by way of the three elevation gates placed in an slight opening in the forest. In the middle of the gates he forced the speeder around to the left through one hundred and forty degrees and shot downward at an angle towards a gate sitting a few meters above the floor. This was the entry for the last turn, taken at ground level, an easier one hundred degree turn to the right, through a gate, and straight off into the woods in nearly a straight line for six hundred meters before heading back into the sky.

While entering the last turn he felt Alex right behind him. He didn’t bother to look in his rear view: she was there, probably a meter or two off his tail. He didn’t give her any passing opportunities—he stayed close to the inside of each gate on each turn—and she didn’t force the issue. The second turn was where Hasan lost control, crashed into the barriers, and fell to the ground breaking his leg, so both racers were acutely aware of the dangers. Only the most foolish took unnecessary chances here, and neither Kerry or Alex were foolish.

 

Technical turns like these are always a pain in the butt, because you have to do them right and quick.  Screw up either, and you’re gonna lose positions, or you’re gonna break a limb.  These kids don’t want that:  they’re in line to do something good.  So Kerry doesn’t rush it, and Alex doesn’t push the matter.

Though going through Residence and into Aerodrome–

This big turn in the sky here.

This big turn in the sky here.

–Kerry understands that Alex is drafting him to either shake him up or hang with him until the last kilometer of the course, when she’s going to try and pass him either on the South Side Slide or The Sweep and run hard for the finish line.

That would be this section here, about two kilometers total.

That would be this section here, about two kilometers total.

And how did that turn out?

 

They were both through Back Path and heading into the slight rise that led to Van der Kroff Heights before they turned left and held as much speed as they could through long, descending right-left that was South Side Slide for the final run through The Sweep and into Diamond Lane. This was Kerry’s big moment. He’d heard nothing of either of the two pilots in front of him DNFing, nor had he passed anyone in trouble. If he could hold off Alex he’d finished third in his first A Team race and end up with a podium. He topped Van der Kroff Heights with his thoughts on how to protect his advantage, then jetted through the turn at almost four hundred kilometers an hour, and slammed downward through South Side Slide with Alex right behind him.

They were kicking up dirt and debris as they leveled out next to the Groundkeeper South structure, keeping most of the speed he’d possessed leaving Van der Kroff Heights. Kerry knew he could get through The Sweep at this speed, and that he could hold the turn for the three or four seconds needed. It was going to hurt: he’d easily pull five and a half gees, and his boy bits were going to take a thrashing, but at the end lay a third place finish, and the gain was worth the pain.

Kerry set up on the far outside of the turn and held there before starting his entry to The Sweep. He began his turn, staying as close to the outside safety enchantment as possible, and held on. The weight piled on and his vision began to gray once more. He stopped watching the g meter when it passed five and a half, and he felt like he was pulling six, maybe seven. The only good thing was with him being on the outside like this, Alex couldn’t get around him—

Half way through the turn Alex’s speeder came around on the inside, maybe a meter from Kerry, carrying just enough extra speed that she was able to come out of the turn ahead and slide up in front as they sprinted towards the finish.

What the—? He ignored the pain in his body and set off after Alex, getting in behind and drafting her as she’d done him. They hit four fifty, five hundred, six hundred kilometers an hour, with Kerry less than a PAV length off her processor. This was over in the next five seconds, and Kerry had one chance to pull ahead: out of the short dog leg leading up to the last three hundred meters he caught as much of the draft he could, snap slid to his left, and pushed the speeder ahead, hoping the combination of physics, magic, and willpower would help enough . . .

Alex reached the finish line a half a speeder length ahead of Kerry to finish third.

 

No podium for Annie’s Racing Soul Mate, but he’s happy he had a good finish and a clean race from Alex.  After they slow down they meet up with Penny and Kerry asks his questions–

 

He found her waiting with Penny, who hovered about ten meters from the start-finish. Kerry pulled along side and gave Alex a thumbs up before raising his helmet front. “Congratulations. That was great.”

Alex and Penny both had their helmet fronts up. “Thank you. And congratulations to you as well. Forth and points the first time out—” She laughed through the huge smile on her face. “Much better than my first time.”

He leaned forward and addressed Penny. “Did you get second?”

I think so—” She nodded towards The Diamond. “The results will be finalized once we’re inside.”

As they flew slowly towards Exit Three Kerry turned to Alex. “That was a sweet move at the end. How did you do that?”

“It wasn’t magic, if you were wondering.” Alex moved around on her seat, relieving his own tenderness. “Girls can take higher g forces; it’s because how we are made—”

A broad smile spread across Penny’s face. “And we don’t have to worry about squashing our lady parts on high speed turns.”

Kerry laughed. “Yeah, you have an advantage on me there.”

“I knew I could pull more speed through that turn than you—” Alex sighed as if she couldn’t believe her own luck. “It was just a question of whether I could hold the turn and not hit you.”

They entered the exit tunnel. “You proved you could. Great race, both of you.”

Penny stretched out her arms as they entered the Diamond and proceeded to the infield. “You helped make it a great race. Imagine if we could have run the whole race that way.”

Alex looked up at the overhead displays, awaiting the official results. “It would be one, two, three.”

 

Yeah, not squishing the lady parts does help a lot when you’re pulling a five g turn–or as they both did at the end, closer to seven or eight.  And the part about women being able to pull higher g forces is true:  the US Air Force did studies on this back in the 1960s.  It’s all about the hips and that uterus that helps prevent blood from pooling in the lower torso during a high speed turn.  Power of the Womb, yo.

And the results do come:

 

The results flashed upon the holographic displays, and the green border indicated their were final. Penny let out a scream. “Second. Hell, yes.” She tapped Alex on the arm. “And you got third.”

“Two podiums.” Alex pointed at the display. “You got forth—”

He finished her statement. “And Manco got sixth.” Kerry began laughing. “We got four of six point positions.”

“And two of the three podiums.”

Penny leapt off her speeder and pulled Alex and Kerry from theirs before binding them up in a huge hug. “Second, third, forth—” She looked up at the screen, then back to her floor mates. “We got a shot at Mórrígan.”

Alex was almost bouncing up and down. “It was a good day to race.”

Kerry looked up into the stands to where Annie was sitting. She was on her feet applauding while looking his way. She kissed her right index and middle fingers and extender her hand in his direction, in the way they’d begun doing to each other over the last year. He kissed the index and middle fingers of his left hand and slowly extended them toward his happy soul mate. “You’re right, guys.” He smiled as he dropped his arm to his side. “It was a good day to race.”

 

And there you have it:  nearly thirty-six hundred words of how Kerry did in his first A Team race.  Actually, more wordage than that, if you count the scene before, but I’m just talking about this part.  And now that Kerry’s through and has his Sweetie waiting for him, I need to get ready and hit the road back to my other Home in the East, which is not to be confused with a Home By the Sea.

Maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll get to write tonight.

Back On the Blue: The Bum Rush

As with the day before, yesterday was tiring.  I spent most of it on the road to Indianapolis–two and a half hours there, the same back–so I could see my therapist.  She was happy to see me, was ecstatic about the news of what’s happening in my life, and said she wants to see me in a year when everything is finished.

She also said she doesn’t want to hear from me for the next year, either, because that would mean there’s something wrong with me, and she doesn’t want there to be something wrong with me.  Neither do I, to be honest, so I’m gonna run the straight and narrow for a while.

Anyway . . . I did write last night.  Seven hundred words of writing.  And while I didn’t finish the scene or clear ninety thousand words, I’m close on both and will do those today.  In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this:  the last segment of the scene, and what happens when three POed racers gang up on their fellow teammates who are being douches.

 

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

The trio launched off towards the two older boys from their team. Kerry watched Darius and Manco panic as they realized their predicament: together they could block one of the girls, and likely both, but with Kerry helping out it was impossible for them to cover all three team members simultaneously . . .

Penny flew up hard on the inside of Gloucester Bend and refused to slow as Darius began a slow slide to his left. Alex squeezed between Manco and the outer safety enchantment, while Kerry went right up the middle. He caught the quick nod to her right from Penny as he gained about a half-a-PAV advantage on the boys and figured out what she was about to do. As she slid to her right Kerry jerked his speeder to the left, and the combined action was enough to force Darius to back off about three PAV lengths. Hoping that Alex had seen his move, he jerked his PAV to the right towards Manco: Alex had seen his move, and cut right for the front of the Peruvian boy’s speeder—and like Darius, Manco cut his speed enough to prevent a crash.

Now that they were clear of their team mates Penny jabbed her finger down the course. “No more wasting time: let’s race.” She leaned down between her handlebars and shot down the Green Line.

Kerry willed himself to speed up, and he was pushed back into the saddle back as he accelerated at a tremendous rate. He concentrated on catching Penny, who was already on the northward segment of Gloucester Bend. He checked his rear view; Alex was there, maybe three lengths back. She stuck with him as he hurried through Diamond Chicane, but he didn’t worry about her: his focus was on Penny, maybe a dozen speeder lengths ahead.

He concentrated on his entry into the Green-Blue crossover. As he reached the start-finish line the green lights flashed three times: he was on the final lap. If I’m going to do something, I have to do it now . . . Kerry entered the altitude gate and bore to the left, joining the Blue Line for the last time as he entered Woodland Path.

Woodland was a fast stretch, bending almost ninety degrees to the left before slowly straightening for a flat-out run across Selena’s Meadow. It was the only section at ground level that wasn’t surrounded by trees, and one area that afforded plenty of passing room. It was also one of the most dangerous spots, too, because fliers needed to shed all their sped in order to make Meadow Clime, a quick left-right turn that moved the course fifty meters above the school grounds.

Kerry passed the gate leading to the climb and pulled back and up on the handlebars. The speeder responded, and he pushed the PAV ahead as he shot over the trees and into the sky. He always felt a slight twinge here, for this was the same place almost a year ago that, on the Day of the Dead attacks, he flew in from the north and dropped straight down to the Meadow, all while he had a monster on his tail. This time it wasn’t a monster: it was Alex, who was only about five meters behind him as he headed down Pentagram Pass. At this point they were a few meters above the pointed roofs of Blodeuwedd and Mórrígan Coven Towers. Penny was even with Orchestra Hall and diving towards Trench, and Kerry understood his battle wouldn’t be with her, but with the Ukrainian girl pushing hard behind him.

He would have to push himself that much harder to be better.

The Trench was next, and Kerry’s stomach clutched as he flew back into the trees once more. This section of the Blue Line was narrow but there was enough room to stack fliers above and below, and it wasn’t unusual to see three levels of fliers zooming down this corridor to the moment of openness at Quarry Turn before hanging a hard left back into the forest. Another short, fast S-turn, and then Kerry was out of the woods and sailing past the Observatory—

 

And so you can follow the Blue Line:

Woodland Path after crossover from Green Line.

Woodland Path after crossover from Green Line.

Meadow Climb:

Minus monsters.

Minus monsters.

Pentagram Pass:

One of the ways Kerry can look down on Emma's coven.

One of the ways Kerry can look down on Emma’s coven.

And right at the end, The Trench, Quarry Turn, and Observatory Bend.

With Kerry getting ready to make that hard turn with a Ukrainian hot on his rear.

With Kerry getting ready to make that hard turn with a Ukrainian hot on his rear.

Back On the Blue: The Plan

The next few days are gonna be busy for me.  Today I start working on the forms for my name change, and I’ll have dinner with a friend.  Tomorrow I visit my therapist for probably the last time, just to show her how I’m doing.  And Friday I start preparing for the trip back to The Burg, and maybe drop off my papers with the Clerk of the Court to get my name change process rolling.

Oh, and probably wash panties, ’cause clean panties are a must.

And writing, too.  Since putting up a post a while back saying I was a bit burned out on writing, I’ve been hitting it hard, and yesterday was another twelve hundred fifty word day, with four hundred thirty-four written in the morning and eight hundred and ten written before going to bed.  I’ve inched up over eighty-nine thousand words, and it’s highly possible that I’ll hit ninety thousand tonight or tomorrow.  No matter what, I’ll be there before heading back to the other casa on Saturday.

The lights turned green and the race is underway, but not all is rainbows and unicorns with Team Cernunnos–

 

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

Almost fifteen minutes into the race, half way through the fifth lap—the third on the Green Line—and Kerry wasn’t in a good mood. It wasn’t due to running a bad race: it was due to having a couple of teammates who, in his opinion, were acting like enormous douche rockets.

The first lap went without incidence. When they crossed over to the Blue line it was with a Ceridwen flier in first, Manco in second, and Darius in third, while Penny, Alex, and Kerry held and and traded off sixth, seventh, and eighth with the remaining four positions firming in Ceridwen’s possession. Through this lap and the next on the Green Line, Penny, Alex, and Kerry began pushing their way forward, so by the time they began the fourth lap—the second on the Blue Line—they’d moved into forth, fifth, and six positions, and were rapidly gaining on Manco and Darius, who’d managed to pull far ahead while the girls and Kerry fought through Ceridwen fliers surrounding them.

That’s when the trouble began.

By the time they’d rounded Observatory Bend and turned onto Skyway, the trio had second and third place in their sights. Being the quickest of the trio, Penny made her move on Darius as they flew through Back Path and began her pass, but he threw a block which nearly put in into the safety barrier. She attempted two more passes, and each time Darius—who didn’t appear nearly as fast as Penny—threw a vicious block, forcing her to fall back and regroup.

As they entered the Green Line for the last time it became obvious that Darius and Manco were doing everything they could to protect their podium positions, and they weren’t about to let their teammates by, even if one, two, or all were faster. Penny grew frustrated with the attitude, and in The Esses she tried her best to make her way around Manco, who then nearly wrecked her in Polar Jump, which made Alex and Kerry scramble to keep from running into Penny.

The problem wasn’t just in the front, either. Once Penny, Alex, and Kerry had made their way around the other Ceridwen fliers, they’d put them several seconds behind. That was no longer the case: those fliers were closing fast, and with a lap and a half remaining, Kerry figured that the guy’s efforts to keep their lower lever teammates away from what they saw as their podium wins could result in Cernunnos losing the podium and most other points positions.

 

In technical racing terms, what the boys are doing is known as “acting like dicks”.  They’re so hell-bent on getting a top three–here known as “getting a podium” because at the end of the race those in the top three stand on a podium and get recognized–they’ll blow everything, including the race itself.  Rather than looking at the big picture, they’re looking at fame and glory, both of which are fleeting.  I’ve seen this happen in races before, and it’s truly an embarrassment when someone not only crashes and burns their own race, but they bring their team down in the process.

In case you were wondering, in the Salem school system there are individual points, and those points accumulate into overall Coven points.  So a flier from, say, Ceridwen, can win a lot of races, but if two other fliers from, say, Cernunnos, keep getting the second and third place finishes, it’s likely you could have an Individual Champion from Ceridwen, while the Team Coven Champion would be Cernunnos.  Are you racing for the team, or for yourself?  Manco and Darius are definitely racing for themselves.

This is not sitting well with the new Cernunnos Troika:

 

Heading towards Northwest Passage Penny flipped up her visor and began yelling to Kerry and Alex. “These idjits are pissing me off. I’ve had enough of this shite.”

Kerry checked his review as they began the turn leading to West End and saw the full pack of Ceridwen fliers round Polar Turn and advance towards them. “We gotta do something, or we’re gonna get a real fight on the last lap.”

Penny nodded. “Then we gotta do something.”

They reached West End and began to accelerate. “There’s only one thing to do—”

“Yeah?”

“We gotta bum rush these guys.”

This brought a gleam into Penny’s eyes. “Out of Reservoir?”

He nodded. “That would be a good place.”

Alex—who’d pulled closer to Kerry so she could hear the conversation, yelled out her thoughts. “I don’t know this bum rush, but it sounds like we take action.”

Kerry glanced at her as the trio accelerated down West End. “We do.”

“Then I’ll work with you.”

“We work as a team.” Penny set back in her saddle. “When we come out of Reservoir, we move on those tossers. Alex, you take the outside; Kerry, you go up the middle. I’ll take the inside.”

He was already visualizing what would happen. “Got it.”

Alex nodded. “As do I.”

“Good.” Penny slapped down her visor. “We do it on my mark.” She leaned towards her handlebars. “Let’s make this happen.”

They flew together in formation the rest of the way down West End and into Sunset Boulevard, only breaking up as they zipped through Double Dip, reforming as they negotiated Double Back and Cove Lane. Kerry readied himself for Reservoir, a tricky turn that beginners found difficult to time, but which he found to be one of the more fun, semi-technical turns on the Green Line. It swept right out of Cove Lane, rising and dropping over the Cove Reservoir path before turning back to the left, once more flying up over the path before dropping down into the long, fast curve known as Gloucester Bend.

They completed the first flyover as Penny spoke. “We ready?”

Kerry nodded once. “Ready.”

They started up into the last flyover when Alex spoke. “Ready.”

“Okay, then . . .” They began their drop through the elevation gate towards the ground. “Let’s get ‘em. Go, GO.”

 

That’s where I left it, with Penny, Alex, and Kerry about to put the moves on the older boys and take this race to them.  Because sometimes you just gotta give someone the bumper and push them out of the way–or into a wall if there’s one nearby.

And so you can see where this stuff is happening, I even made pictures!  First, Observatory Bend and Skyway:

Squiggly line, remember?

Squiggly line, remember?

Then Back Path, where Penny was getting blocked.

Right there by the Aerodrome.

Right there by the Aerodrome.

Polar Jump, Northwest Passage, and the start of the West End, where everything started coming to a head.

Also known as the place where Emma Blocked Kerry.

Also known as the place where Emma Blocked Kerry.

And finally Reservoir, when they make their move.

Complete with little people standing under the course.

Complete with little people standing under the course.

Reservoir is also where, during the Day of the Dead, Emma and Kerry rejoined the Green Line on their way to The Diamond.  And we remember how well that turned out.

Let’s hope this time things are better for Kerry.

Ready on the Green: Run Your Race

I wasn’t too busy with the novel last night, mostly because I was working on my Humans recap, and by the time I finished that sucker, I’d ended up writing about, oh, fifteen hundred new words.  I should take that back:  after the recap I added another three hundred words to the scene, and then, this morning, I put an additional four hundred in.

Also, I was up at four AM:  first because I couldn’t sleep, second because of Pluto.  The New Horizon flyby was this morning, and as I write this it’s already happened, though we won’t know until about seven-thirty PM my time if it actually made it, or if it slammed into something fifty kilometers per second and went kaboom.  This is something I’ve been waiting for over the last decade, and I can’t wait to get the info.

As for the novel . . .

I added something this morning that I felt was missing from yesterday’s writing.  Since Kerry spotted Annie in the stands, it’s only reasonable that she saw him looking her way.  And she would respond, because if there is anyone who’d want Kerry to do well, it’s his Sweetie . . .

 

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

Kerry knew they’d both watch the races in comfort: the seats were not like what one normally found at sporting events, but were large and comfortable, and had small tables to the side upon which one could place they snacks and drinks. The first time Kerry sat in one, he felt he was about to see a movie or play instead of a race over one of the school’s courses.

(start new)  Annie saw he was looking in her direction and gave him a smile along with a small wave. He waved back, and for a moment the jitters he’d felt since stepped onto the lift subsided. He’d felt this way when he’d run his first B Team race, and he was feeling it a bit more now because this would be his first real race on a Class 2. Seeing Annie, however, put his mind and nerves at ease: no matter what happened to him on the course, he’d see her after he finished and they’d dance the night away. If he wasn’t in the hospital . . .  (end new)

Penny slid in close to Kerry’s left as they passed through the tunnel exit. “You remember the crossover rules?”

 

It’s not a lot, but it’s one of those touches that would put Kerry at ease and make him feel better.  And he will need that–

 

Erywin and Vicky met them at the Start-Finish line. They were riding Class 1 and were there to assist the fliers with getting into their proper starting positions. All fliers had run qualifying laps Friday morning and were familiar with their pole positions—though those had changed for a few racers due to the elimination of Hasan due to injury. Since he’d not qualified as an A Team member, nor had any A Team points to help with placement, there was only one position remaining for Kerry: tenth, or last, place.

He set up in the back and looked forward as he lowered his visor. His plan was to survive the race and make it to the next stage; his goal was to at least point this first time out. Kerry knew the positions of his teammates: Alex was seventh, Penny sixth, Darius third, and Manco second. I need to pass Alex and Penny to get a point, and after that . . .

There wasn’t any point in thinking about “after that”. Penny was correct: run your race and everything will be fine. He had his plan and his goals—all that remained was for the race to start.

 

It’s not a good thing that Kerry starts in the back, but he’s raced before, real and on a computer, and he knows what to do.  And he does . . .

 

Five red globes appeared above the start-finish line and flashed three times before changing to a steady yellow. This was the moment Kerry waited for: the start of the race. The yellow globes began flashing, and he knew there was only one more sequence to show—

They flashing yellow turned steady green. Kerry pushed on the handle grips and willed his speeder forward—and nearly ran over the eight place Ceridwen racer in front of him. He jerked the PAV to the right and poured on the speed. Three seconds later he slipped in behind Penny and followed her up through Rockport Lane. He triggered his racing HUD—which only showed speed and enchantment strength—and saw that a quarter of the way through the long, sweeping turn, he was already going two hundred forty-six kilometers per hour. Two hundred meters past start-finish and I’m going a hundred and fifty? This thing moves.

 

In case you’re wondering, that’s an acceleration of 11.56 meters per second squared, which is also about one and a fifth gravitates.  With a velocity of 68 meters per second at the time Kerry checks his HUD, how long did that take?

What do you mean, you don't get physics?

What do you mean, you don’t do physics?

So just under six seconds and he’s two football fields from the start finish, and still picking up speed.  If only the other twelve year old kids back in Cardiff could see him.

And if we want to put this in a proper context, the Formula 1 car Annie’s father drives has an average acceleration of 1.11 m/s2, which means if Kerry and Annie’s Papa were racing together, right now, Kerry would be beating him.  There’s probably a reason why Annie’s Mama might not want Papa to know her daughter is in love with a racer, because Papa knows how Mama felt about him racing, and . . .

Yeah, just another reason dads don’t like their daughter’s boyfriends.

How goes the rest of the start?  Like this:

 

Penny worked her way around another Ceridwen member and Kerry slid a half-meter to his left and pulled a half a PAV length ahead of the same flier. He hung there with the girl as she kept glancing to her left as they approached Graves. As he slowed and turned slightly to his right, Alex slipped in on the girl’s right and hugged the inside of the turn. The Ceridwen flier, finding herself stuck between two Cernunnos members, tapped her air brakes and dropped back a few meters.

Kerry sped ahead through the short chute leading to the gentle left-right-up-down chicane that was Gate Pass—the same place that his impromptu race with Emma began just over a year ago. He hung on as he pushed the speeder through the turn much faster than he’d ever done with his Espinoza, feeling it slide a bit as if he were on ice. But there wasn’t any ice in the air: the only think keeping him on the course was magic and willpower, and at the moment he had plenty of both. He dropped down into Keeper Path, again picking up speed as he headed towards the Sunrise Bends. He glanced to his right as Alex glanced to her left: her eyes smiled, and his smiled back.

He negotiated the entry turn and pulled to his right, following Sunrise towards the school’s outer wall and the hard left turn. You’re running your race— He felt the gees pile up as he pushed the speeder, and himself, through the long, wide, one-seventy turn towards The Narrows. Keep doing what you’re doing, and it’ll turn out great . . .

 

In the time this scene played out, Kerry covered this distance:

Follow the squiggly yellow line again.

Follow the squiggly yellow line again.

Even if that’s maybe thirty seconds, you’re still looking at about a two and a half-minute first lap, and about three to three and a half minutes for the next Blue Line lap.  Say six minutes to go Green to Blue to Green–that’s an eighteen minute race, probably averaging close to 175 mph the whole way–

And they gotta do it two more times after this.

Yeah, it’ll make for an interesting afternoon.