I should say that while yesterday’s writing seemed to take forever, it got done. Mostly because I got back into basics: put in the earbuds, slipped on some tunes, and held the world at bay. And it worked: I wrote just over twelve hundred and fifty words, which brought yesterday’s work to fifteen hundred and seventy total, once you kicked in the stuff I did in the morning. Not a bad day, even if it felt like I was struggling throughout a lot of the work.
Here we are, getting ready to get into the air, and Annie is feeling . . .
(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)
Annie sat quietly in the Flight School’s Ready Room with Kerry on her right, but her normally composed exterior hid the turmoil going on inside her body. She ate a light breakfast as she was certain a larger one would give her an upset stomach, and given what lay ahead, the last thing she wanted was being sick while hanging in mid-air without a broom . . .
Today was the day she’d been promised: today Isis, Kerry, and herself would venture outside the school walls for the first time. Up until this point she’d flown only in the Aerodrome, but last week, on the day after her birthday, for about five minutes Isis and she exited the Aerodrome through a roof opening designed for PAVs, quickly few to the Diamond, lightly touched down on the room there, then returned to the Aerodrome after a five minutes discussion about the best way to keep one’s self orientated when they were free flying.
Those few minutes dashing from one building to the other and back left Annie wanting so much more. She enjoyed flying on a broom—something she had admitted to Kerry but would be hard pressed to admit to anyone else—but sailing over the treetops with nothing between her and the ground save her Gift and her willpower left her with an impression of being completely unrestrained by gravity—
Save for those moments when she could lose consciousness and control of her Gift, at which point she’d plummet to the ground and die. She shrugged that thought off as soon as she returned to the floor of the Aerodrome and found Kerry waiting for their return, as she reasoned that were either of them to lose consciousness while on a broom, the end result would be the same.
If that were the case, there wasn’t any need to fly with fear.
If she’s ever mentioned any fear about falling to Kerry, he’s probably given her some advice about what it feels like to do that, and without any notion of whether or not he was gonna be able to stop before hitting the ground.
And here we find out that Annie has had one quick flight out of the Aerodrome, just to give her a feel for what it’s like to soar like the birds. There is one thing, however: is there a way for her to know where she’s going, how fast, how high, all that stuff? Just like on a PAV? Glad you asked–
It was while the three of them were together that Isis told Annie they were flying outside the school for the next class, and she presented Annie with her Band. Though it looked like a thin silver bracelet that fit sung around her right wrist, as Isis explained it was something Annie didn’t want to be without when she flying. Her Band was the same as the instruments on a PAV, giving her every she’d need to find her way displayed on an HUD, the same as on a broom. A simple double-flick away from the body would turn the Band on, and a double-flick towards the body would turn it off, but once on, she’d only have to request the HUD up verbally or by thought, and unlike a broom HUD, an enchantment would keep her HUD in front of her face so she could see it no matter what direction she was facing.
Before coming out of the locker room she’d nervously practiced using it; within the next twenty minutes she use it in a real-life situation—
Annie’s all filled up with jewelry, but her Band isn’t just any pretty piece, though it is designed to fit in with anything else she’s wearing so not to look out of place. It’s a smart idea, and of course the school would have something to fit the bill. It’s probably a piece that’s also made on demand, because Flight Gifts are rare, and it’s not like The Foundation is gonna have a bunch of these just laying about.
Vicky and Isis enter, and it’s pretty obvious it’s Isis’ show to run, so she does. There’s isn’t a lot for her to say . . .
The security director set her helmet, gloves, and goggles aside, before activating the wall map. “You know why you’re here: we’re flying for real, and we’re heading outside the walls. Annie, you and I will fly in a side-by-side formation, with you following my lead to go where I indicate. The primary purpose of this flight is to get you used to being in the air, at altitude and speed, for an extended period, and to learn to use your Band.” Isis gave Annie an inquisitive glance. “Questions?”
Annie shook her head once. “No.”
“Good. Kerry—” Isis turned slightly to her left and pointed. “You’re job is to observe and get the feel of being a chase. You’ll be on the same comm line with us, but for the most part there won’t be any communication. You’re not suppose to help out in any way unless instructed by Carrier, who will be monitoring us from the Flight Deck—”
Vicky spoke up. “Today I’ll run the Deck alone; same goes for whenever Isis takes you out on a training flight. But when you start flying solo, Annie, Isis will help out.” She turned back to the Chief of Security. “Continue.”
“Thank you. Our flight is going to be pretty simple.” She turned to the board and pulled up a map of the local area. “We’ll fly out from here, skirt Anniquan and overfly Farm Point on the way to Choate Island. From there we’ll continue until we reach this garden and nursery center just south of Ipswich, where we’ll start turning towards the south.” Her finger traced a long, wide arc until it reached a point over one of the small communities north of the city of Salem. “When we reach the Hamilton/Wenhan train station, we’ll head east, meet up with State Highway 128 and follow that to Gloucester. Once we’re over the Addison Gilbert Hospital, we’ll turn towards the school, head for the Flight School, and touch down.”
She turned back to the children, bushing her hands as if to remove dust. “Total distance covered will be between forty-five and fifty kilometers; as for time, we’ll take our time and stop to go over a few points along the way, so I don’t expect us to be out more than a couple of hours. Any questions?”
“No.” Annie smiled. “Not now.”
“That’s what I thought.” Isis zipped up her jacket and grabbed the rest of her gear. “Let’s get airborne.”
All of those points are real–
–and if you check out the course above you’ll find all the points of reference Isis pointed out. It’s a simple thing for them, a learning experience for both kids. And that lesson is about to start . . .
Annie was immediately on her feet, zipping her jacket, gathering up her flight accessories and following Isis from the room, with Kerry right behind her. The excitement that had hit her the second she’d gotten out of bed was now peaking, and with great effort she pushed it down, for the last thing she wanted was to find herself unable to free fly because she was unable to control her emotions—
They walked out of the hanger on to the edge of Selena’ Meadow. All three fliers finished dressing, snapping their helmets and goggles into place before slipping on their gloves. Isis turned to Kerry. “Saddle up, Starbuck.”
“Rodger.” Twenty seconds later he was on his broom hovering a meter off the ground, awaiting instructions.
Annie gave her gloves one final tug. “What’s your call sign, Isis?”
Isis broke into a wide grin. “Sekhmet.”
“I’d have thought you’d get tagged with Hathor.” Kerry set his goggles in place. “I mean, you’re named after the goddess of health and marriage, so it’s not a stretch.”
“That was actually my first call sign.” Isis rolled her arms to set her jacket upon her shoulders. “After The Scouring it was changed because of the part I played in helping remove the Deconstructors from the school.” She relaxed and took a couple of deep breaths of the cool air. “Hathor was known as the goddess who welcomed the dead into the next life, but Sekhmet was the one who sent them to her. The later name seemed more fitting.” She slipped her goggles down over her eyes. “You ready to roll, Athena?”
Sekhmet was the Egyptian goddess of just about all the bad shit you never wanted to encounter in your life, which is, in a way, what Isis is for the school, as we’ve already seen. And since I’ve said on more than one occasion that Isis and Wednesday played a part in saving the school, I should maybe run that scene, just to show you what they did. Maybe tomorrow. But leave it to Kerry, Mr. Clueless Geek, to know about Sekhmet. I wonder if he knows about how Ra really turned Hathor into Sekhmet, and had to get ‘Ol Sekky drunk on her ass in order to change her back. Hum . . . probably not yet.
With all this said, Isis knows it’s time to get the party started–
“I’m ready, Sekhmet.” She twitched her right wrist twice to activate her Band, then brought up the HUD. It floated about a half meter in front of her eyes. “Everything’s working properly.”
“Just want I want to hear.” She looked around to see if there was anyone around: the field was clear. “Get your light bending in place and we’ll take off.” She tapped the side of her helmet as the kids began to vanish from sight. “Carrier, we’re ready to take off.”
Vicky’s voice came though clear. “Rodger, Sekhmet. I’ve got all three of you on active tracking.”
“Rodger.” She spoke softly over the comm, knowing Annie and Kerry, now invisible, would hear her. “Athena, Starbuck: lift off and go straight up to three hundred meters. As soon as we’re above the Flight School, rotate your spells so we can see each other, but we’re flying under UFP.”
Annie lifted her feet off the ground and felt herself hovering. “Rodger, Sekhmet.” She climbed straight up slowly, and as soon as she saw the edge of the the Flight School she flipped the spell so no one on the ground could see her. Now that everyone was flying using Unseen Flight Protocols, Isis and Kerry popped into view, rising into the sky with her.
She watched the altimeter on her HUD until she neared two hundred ninety meters; at that point she slowed her assent and stopped completely at three hundred. Annie’s heart was pounding as she looked around. She been this high before—and higher—on a broom, but right now there was nothing under her but air, trees, and ground. She took a deep breath before noticing Kerry sitting about three meters way, grinning and giving her a thumbs-up sign. She returned the smile and the gesture before spinning around and finding Isis. “I’m . . . here.”
Isis knew exactly what the girl was feeling, because she remembered the first time she’d climbed into the air with only her Gift and willpower to keep her in the sky. “You feel up to flying? You’re not dizzy or too giddy or any shit like that?”
Annie laughed. “I feel great.”
“Which is what I thought.” Isis pointed at both kids. “Annie, I want you three meters on my right; Kerry, I want you four meters behind Annie. I’m the flight pilot here, so follow my instructions and lead. Got it?” Both fliers acknowledged her command. “Okay, then: follow me.”
And gets them up in the air.
She’s about as free as a girl can get.
I wonder if she knows Kerry looking at her butt the whole time?