Time to Throw Down: Damage Control

Well, here it is, the day before I begin my week-long trip back to Indiana, and I’m not ready.  I have a dinner to go to and I have no packed.  And I don’t intend to pack until tomorrow morning.  I’m not even certain when I’ll be leaving, but it won’t happen at 3 AM as I’ve done in the past.

I went out skating last night for a couple of hours and my body didn’t like it as much as it had the night before.  I gotta remember to pace myself because I don’t recover from this stuff like I used to.  At best I was able to do five or six laps on the rink before needing a quick rest, because there was fatigue in my legs and I didn’t want to fall.  When I returned home I iced down my right shoulder as it was hurting like hell, and then–

Why, I finished my current scene.

Yes, I did! Aren’t I a good little roller girl?

Yeah, even with an ice pack on my shoulder I finished it up with about five hundred words.  And I could start tonight’s scene, and likely will, which means the story inches over the 175,000 words mark, for I’m like sixty words away from that milestone.

You see, it is coming along.

Yesterday we saw Kerry was down, but we didn’t know how out.  Now we know:

 

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

 

The school nurse slid her hand scanner into a pocket of her smock. “He has first and second degree burns on his left jawline and neck, as well as his left arm and the back of his left hand. His hair is singed and most of his left eyebrow is gone; we can fix that up in the hospital in no time.” Her tone turned a bit more grave. “His left forearm is broken and he has four broken ribs. Also, I believe he may have a crack in his sternum, but it’s so fine the hand scanners are having trouble picking it up. We won’t know for certain until we get him to the hospital.”

Ramona hated to see any match end this way, particularly when there was evidence of chicanery involved, but she didn’t see that she had any choice other than to do what was necessary. “All right, Bianca. Get the stretcher and let’s—”

“No, don’t.”

“I’m sorry, Kerry, but we need to get you to the hospital.” As tenacious as she knew both Annie and Kerry to be, she didn’t see any point in continuing hurt as he was. “Bianca—”

Kerry groaned as he sat up with a little help from Annie. “Can the four of us speak privately?”

 

Kerry’s busted up and still he wants to talk.  But he wants to take steps to make sure they’re not overheard because…

 

Ramona considered saying no, but changed her mind and threw up a privacy screen around them. “Okay, we’re private.”

He looked up at Nurse Bianca. “Do you have nurse-patient confidentiality?”

She nodded. “Of course I do. The only thing I can say to Coraline or anyone else are those issues that might lead to the injury of others.”

Kerry gave a quick nod then turned to Ramona. “You know what we were doing with those puppeteer rigs here last year, don’t you?”

Ramona’s gaze darted from Kerry and Annie and back. “Yes, I do.”

“And you know who ordered those test?”

“I do.”

“Then you know what Annie and I are training towards once we’re out of school.”

A crooked grin appeared on Ramona’s face. “I think you’ll find there are more people who know what’s going on between you two and the Guardians than you now imagine.”

He didn’t find this surprising.  “Then you know there’s going to be times in the future where I may get hurt like this and I’m not going to be able to the tell someone else to stop so I can go to the hospital.” With his good right hand he gave Annie’s hand a squeeze. “And she couldn’t do that and I neither can I. You have to let me fight Franky.”

 

He doesn’t have to do this, but then, when Annie took a Deconstructor blast and broke her arm, she didn’t have to save Kerry.  She could have just played dead and waited for him to leave and–

Yeah, that was never going to happen.

This isn’t a fight against Deconstructors, but as Kerry sees it, he’s in about the same shape as Annie was when she saved everyone’s bacon on the Link Bridge in KC and he can’t walked away.  And this isn’t rooted in ego–

 

Ramona’s Instructor Face reappeared. “I don’t have to let you do anything, Kerry. I’m the one who decides who fights and who doesn’t, and—”

Kerry exhaled hard as he spoke in a choked whisper. “You send me to the hospital and I guarantee you Franky will call off this challenge. In fact, if I get up to fight and you tell him we are going to continue, he’ll wanna back out.” His eyes went out of focus slightly as he worked through whatever pain held him.

Annie glanced over at Franky as she spoke. “You know he will, Professor. You also know there was nothing accidental about what he did.”

Ramona looked straight ahead for a few seconds as she worked the events of the last couple of minutes through her head. “I think you both may be right.”

Kerry grit his teeth against the pain he was feeling. “I think all Franky wants to do is brag that he got a good hit on me and sent me to the hospital. Beyond that, he doesn’t care about the slight: this is what he wanted.”

“Kerry’s right.” Annie nodded in Frankie’s direction. “Right now, he’s over there talking to Lisa, probably proud over what he did.”  She turned away from that couple.  “We’ve talked about this and thought there was something suspicious about Frankie’s action, and I think something was planned out and this is what they wanted to do.” She affixed a hard stare on Ramona. “The worst Franky could get is detention for what he did. Meanwhile, Kerry goes the hospital and Lisa and he get the brag about how he hurt him.”

 

Does this mean Kerry’s gonna fight even though he’s messed up.

Well…  It wouldn’t be the first time.

Time to Throw Down: Sucker Punch

Well, it’s June and that means it’s Pride Month.  Which means it’s Pride Month on my blog because–surprise!–I happen to occupy a couple of letters in the LGBTQ+ label.  Now, nothing out of the ordinary is gonna happen, though you never know if I’m gonna start show Pride stuff in my posts.  It’s possible.  You never know.

In the continuing story of Cassie the Roller Girl, I went to practice last night and did pretty well.  I managed to actually skate, as in I made it around the rink many times at pretty good speed.  I fell three times, two of them being a flat-out lay out more or less, but other than a couple of bruises I came away from it okay and made it to the end.

 

The upshot of all this is that since I was actually, you know, working out last night, I am sore as hell today.  I’ll get over it, but it’s feels like the shape of things to come.

But let’s hear about fighting–or, in the case, the aftermath of Kerry being hit with a spell and sorta, kinda blown back by a combo Air Hammer/Fireball.  And Franky getting caught with his hand in his pocket–literally.  What does it mean?  Well…

 

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

 

Franky withdrew his hand showing an object which looked like a stick of lip balm. “Just this.”

“That—” Ramona approached the student slowly, recognizing the object instantly. “You have a spell caster?”

“Well, yeah.” Spell casters were enchanted devices that contained a prepared one-shot spell that could be used by a witch who may not be proficient in certain areas of magic or sorcery. “I checked the rules; it says I can use this.”

At the moment Ramona wasn’t concerned with how he got it: she was more concerned with something else— “You’re supposed to tell me you have one.”

Franky looked down, a sheepish look upon his face. “I didn’t know.”

If you read the rules concerning spell casters you know you’re supposed to tell me.” Ramona thrust a finger in his direction. “I’ll deal with your bullshit in a moment; stay right there.” She hurried across the mat to see how Kerry was doing.

 

First off, you have to love that in front of half the student body–and probably a few instructors as well, for they’re invited to these things, too–tells a student that she’ll deal with his bullshit later.  Ramona doesn’t get made often, but when she does you don’t want to mess with her.  And she is not happy that someone jacked with her Judgment Trial traditions.

Now, spell casters:  if you can invent something like a Panic Button, which is pretty much an enchanted object with an teleportation spell set inside, it’s gonna be easy to make something that will do a quick and dirty spell for those who can’t normally.  Franky couldn’t fight Kerry one-on-one, not with Kerry being a good sorceress and Franky not, so it stand to reason he’d need help–and here it is!  Why didn’t Lisa use these?  Because she was called out and the rules say you can have someone fight in your place if they agree.  The rules aren’t there to be liked, they’re there to be followed.

Though Franky was supposed to tell Ramona he had one of these and not go, “Oops, I forgot!”  Which is why she’s gonna deal with his bullshit later.  Right now–how’s Kerry doing?

 

Nurse Bianca was running a scanner over Kerry while Annie knelt beside him, stroking his hair. The left arm of Kerry shirt was blackened by fire and there was an odor of singed hair surrounding him. His eyes were half open, which meant he was unconscious but merely dazed. Ramona knelt down next to Kerry’s left knee with Annie to her left and Bianca across from her. “How is he?”

Kerry chose that moment to stir. His eyes open fully Annie stared at the ceiling for a couple of seconds before he began to moan. “Unnn, unhhh, uhhhhhmmmm, ahhhh…” His body jerked from both pain and frustration. “FUCK.” He closed his eyes to calm himself and slow his breathing: when he opened them he realized who was standing over him and had likely heard his explitive. “Sorry, Professor.”

Ramona chuckled as she patted the back of his right hand. “Given what just happened, you’re forgiven.”

Annie turned her gaze upon her martial arts instructor. “What happened? What was that?”

“Franky had a spell caster in his pocket. I’m guessing he got it from the Spell Center before coming here—something he was supposed to tell me and conveniently forgot.” Ramona looked back over her shoulder where Franky stood. “When I saw his hand sliding into his pocket that’s when I called stop, but Franky went ahead and triggered the effect anyway.” She looked down at Kerry. “Good thing you can get your shields up fast or this would’ve been worse. Bianca, what’s the story?”

 

I told you Kerry was going to drop a f-bomb and there it is.  But, you know, getting set on fire and blasted by of wall of air sometimes wants to make you say stuff like that, so all is forgiven.  For now.  He probably knows he’s not gonna be able to drop that on Ramona in class one day–

How bad is Kerry?

You’ll have to tune in tomorrow, ‘kay?

Time to Throw Down: The Sudden But Inevitable Betrayal

As this is the last day of May, sometime tonight I’ll finish the last scene of my little mermaid story for #MerMay, which means I’ll have something to say about that tomorrow.

In the meantime…  You know how I say I never seem to have enough time to do everything?  Well, just to prove I’m a liar I added something else.  Like–

Yeah, that’s me in all kinds of padding with a helmet and skates on, trying to get fit to be a derby queen.  And last night was killer:  I had to actually lay down three times ’cause I was on the verge of passing out.  Out of freakin’ shape, I am, but if I stick with this I’ll get back into shape by the end of summer.  And maybe even get my old skating form back.

Now, speaking of form–or lack thereof–it’s time to get back to the mat and see what’s up in the Kerry-Franky Throw Down.  Needless to say, go time is here:

 

 

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

 

She ended the same way she ended the last judgment trial Kerry attended. “Remember to always respect your fellow combatant during the trial; the greatest honor we show our opponents is when we treat them as individuals and not objects in need of defeat.” She eyed Franky hard as she spoke this last line. “The moment you remove respect for your opponent, you lose respect for yourself. You never want that to happen.”

Ramona walked backwards slowly to her position at the top of the mat. Given the differences in skill twenty-two combatants, Ramona did not expect this match to last long. As soon as Franky removed his jacket and set it aside she straightened and addressed the crowd. “All spectators will remain behind the red lines to keep you protected from whatever happens within this ring.” She raised her arms the protective enchantments into place. “Watch, and learn, from this lesson.”

She looked to her right and left. “I wish you well in this trial.” She slowly raised her arms until they were chest high—

 

So we have Kid Cardiff squaring off against the Newfoundland Kid.  I wanna see a clean fight–

 

Kerry cleared his mind, keeping his eyes focused on the boy on the other side of the mat. For his part, Franky didn’t appear to concerned about what was to happen next. Though Annie and Kerry discuss the possibility that Franky was going to do something nefarious, right now Kerry couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary, though he did wonder why Franky slowly slipped his right hand into his trouser pocket—

Ramona set her defensive spells in place and checked the auras of her combatants to make certain they weren’t powering up spells. “And—STOP.”

Kerry never had an opportunity to comply with Professor Chai’s instructions as the year before him exploded in a massive fire rushing in his direction. Though we wasn’t supposed to use magic, his overriding sense of self-preservation forced him to throw up the shield he was already visualizing. Some of the heat and flames made their way through before the quick-cash shield stopped the effect, but a second later he was struck by an Air Hammer that knocked him off his feet and threw him a meter or two backwards hard into the floor.

Ramona dropped the safety enchantments: the moment they were down Nurse Bianca Gaillard, who was over from the hospital to lend medical assistance should be needed, rushed to Kerry’s side as did Annie. She turned to Franky, who was still in his start position. There was a shocked expression on his face and his hand was still in his pocket—the reason she halted the trial before it began. “What do you have in your pocket? Show me now.”

 

Naw, brah, that shit ain’t about to happen.

Come on:  you knew this was coming.  You knew Franky was going to try something sneaky and do something to Kerry, and in the trailer for this novel you see Kerry getting blasted back during an event at school, so it doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to know what happened in the trailer happened here.

Franky is a little shit who doesn’t always play nice.  And he just did–what’s that thing you say, Wash?

Yeah, that thing.

Yeah, that’s it.  Franky did something to get in that quick sucker punch and Kerry caught it.  Not all of it, but enough that it’s gonna hurt.  But, did Franky break any rules?  Well…

I’m not gonna say–at least not today.

Time to Throw Down: The Comfortable Setup

Looking over my blogging from yesterday and Sunday, I see that I published a total of eight articles in two days–and two articles each on Friday and Saturday as well, for a total of twelve articles published in four days.  Not a bad amount of writing, and I even managed to get out and do stuff once in a while.  Especially yesterday: it seemed like I did get out and do things, but at the same time it seemed like I spent a lot of time sitting down behind the computer.  Which I did.  No getting away from that.

This is going to be a weird week. I could go out and do something tonight; I’m getting my nails done tomorrow; I have to write a TV recap Thursday night, which will likely take up most of that evening; and Friday night I’m having dinner with someone.  But it goes without saying that since I’m returning to Indiana this coming weekend, is highly unlikely I will get any writing done on Saturday after having driven a thousand kilometers.  But we’ll see.  I sometimes full of surprises.

Now that I have Kerry and Franky inside Gwydion Manor, it’s time to get them ready to rumble.  Though, if you remember back to the first time we went through this situation, there is a little bit of tradition each kid needs to go through–

 

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

 

Kerry stepped out of the crowd instead his backpack and jacket down just inside the protective redline, then removed his shoes before walking over to the mat. Though all his items would be inside the protective field shielding the combatants and Professor Chai from the combat, he knew an additional protective shielding would fall over his personal items so they couldn’t be accidentally destroyed. He stepped to the edge of the mat but didn’t step in to the yellow box that indicated where he was supposed to start; as he had seen with Annie’s judgment trial, there was a certain protocol to follow and he didn’t want to come across as some sort of know it all ignoring tradition.

As she did during Annie’s Judgment Trial the year before, Professor Chai stepped into the middle of the mat and held out her arms as a way of quieting everyone. “I welcome all students to this trail and ask that for the duration of the procedures that you remain behind the red line surrounding the mat, which is there for your own safety.

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

 

Just like a good programmer reuses code they find in another program, I basically took some of the lines from the B Level novel involving Annie’s Judgment Trial, modified him a bit, and laid them down here in this excerpt.  That was probably one of the reasons why I was able to get through this section rather quickly, though it still required me going through the other novel, cherry picking what I needed, and then making the necessary changes.

Though you’ll see below, I cut out a significant portion of Ramona going over the rules as was done in the last novel:

 

Franky stepped up on to the mat, his shoes off but still wearing his jacket. “That’s me, Professor.”

“Come to the center of the mat, please.” She continued as soon as Franky joined her. “State your name, coven, and class level.”

“Franky Smith, Ceridwen Coven, C Level.” He almost seemed uncomfortable standing in front of everyone giving this information.

“Welcome, Franky.” Ramona glanced to her right where Kerry stood. “Is the a grieving party here? If so, step forward and be recognized.”

Kerry stepped onto the mat and walked directly to the center, after bowing to Ramona—and receiving a bow in return—he gave his identifying information without being prompted. “Kerry Malibey, Cernunnos Coven, C Level.”

Ramona glanced at each boy. “Welcome to Gwydion Manor. Before we continue, I must ask: can this disagreement be resolved without combat? Franky, as you are the aggrieving party, you must decide on this matter before we can continue.”

Franky shook his head. “He called me an idiot and made disparaging remarks about my girlfriend. I’m not gonna let that go.”

“I understand.” Ramona turned to Kerry. “As the aggrieved party you have to right to walk away and ask for administrative punishment. There is no shame in reconsidering your decision and leaving the matter to the instructors, whom I am sure would come to a quick decision.”

Even though Ramona was letting Kerry know that if he were to walk away it was unlikely he’d receive any detention, Kerry was aware that if he backed away from Franky, he’d become a source of ridicule. “It was just a heated discussion, Professor, not one really worth getting called out over. That said—” He looked at Franky and smiled. “I’m not walking away from this one.”

“As I would imagine.” Ramon approached the two boys and stopped when she was about half a meter away. “Then we will proceed with the Trial—” She began going through the instructions for what would happen during the trial and the overall outcome depending upon whom would win. When she asked if there were any questions, none were asked, so she proceeded on to what they could and could not do during the match, as well as detailing the penalty system. “Do either of you have questions?”

Franky shrugged. “No, Professor.”

Kerry faced his martial arts instructor when he spoke. “No, Professor.”

Ramona raised her hands. “Face each other and bow—” As soon as they finished she pointed to the white rectangles at opposite ends of the circle. “Go to your respective start positions.”

 

There you have it: the combatants are in place and the spells are ready to fly.

So who’s going to get off the first blow?  You probably have to wait until tomorrow to find out…

Time to Throw Down: Bringing People Together

Here it is, Memorial Day, and in The Burg it’s rainy as hell.  While people were likely still sleeping, or at Lee staying comfortable under the sheets, I headed out for breakfast, something I do on a regular basis whenever there’s a holiday.

 

Yes, we have a Denny’s in the area, and starting out the morning with steak and eggs and coffee is not a bad way to go.  After I’m done with this post I’ll start on my Sense8 recap, and when I’m finished with that I’ll head over and get some ribs over at the Artfest a few blocks away.  This was dinner yesterday:

When I return I get out the first of two mermaid excerpts I need to write, maybe watch a little Mr. Robot, then work on the novel before finishing off the evening with the last mermaid scene of the evening, which will get me all caught up on that story.

In other words, no big cookouts for me: it’s going to be another day of massive writing.

The scene I’m working on, the first part of which I’m excerpting today, has been going rather well. Last night it did well over eight hundred words, and when I have worked on this scene the fewest words I’ve written were right around seven hundred.  I don’t know that things are going easier, but it does appear that I’m making my way to the scene rather effortlessly.  As always, the biggest obstacle I have is simply getting started, but it seems that as of late I’ve been more eager to start writing, and get into writing, and get it done.

So maybe this is a turning point: maybe I’m getting back into the swing of things.  We’ll see, ’cause I’ve said this before and I’ll probably say it again–and just because instead doesn’t make it true.

In the meantime, it’s time to get Kerry and Franky on the mat.  But before that happens, there’s all the preliminary stuff:

 

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

 

As seem to be the case whenever word got out that either Annie, or Kerry, or both, were about to engage in combat at Gwydion Manor, a sizable number of students appeared so they could watch the action. By the time Annie and Kerry arrived, they estimated at least seventy students were present, which was nearly half the enrollment of Salem. Annie, however, did not see this is a good sign. “I can’t believe this many people are showing up to watch you go up against Franky.”

Kerry didn’t take Annie statement as a slight against his ability. On their walk to the Tesla Science Center for their Practical Super Science class, they continued to express disbelief that Franky believed he could go up against Kerry and win his judgment trial. “Not only that, but who is spreading around word that we’re going to do this?”

“That answer is easy.” She spied Franky and Lisa standing on the far side of the combat mat. “He tells Lisa, Lisa tells her friends, her friends spread the word to their friends. Before you know it half the school knows what’s going on.”

Kerry glanced about the room. “Literally.”

Annie turned to face Kerry, coming as close as necessary so as to not be heard by anyone else. “You need to be careful. There’s a lot about this I don’t like.”

He nodded. “Don’t worry; I’m good.”

She cast her eyes downward for just a second. “Do you need to take another dose?” Annie referred to the gel caps Coraline gave him after their visit to the hospital and his examination. She told him they would help with the raging flux of hormones with which he was currently dealing and to take two more in the evening, as well as tomorrow morning, if he continued feeling stressed out. She was quite aware that what Coraline had given Kerry was nothing more than a light dose of the same hormonal medication Coraline gave to girls suffering from PMS. As she didn’t know how Kerry would react to that news, Annie felt it best not to mention anything.

He shook his head. “No, I feel good.” He reached into his jacket pocket and gave her the tin with the six remaining pills. “I think it’s best if you hold on to this, though.”

Annie took the tin just as Professor Chai walked into the Manor. “It’s like you’re about to start.”

He removed his backpack and slipped out of his jacket. “Better get this over with.” He wrapped his left arm around Annie’s shoulders and gave her a warm, slow kiss. “Wish me luck.”

“You’re not going to need it.” She nodded toward the mat. “Go on.”

 

In case anyone was wondering you now know: Kerry is being given PMS medication to keep his hormones balanced.  Because why not?  One hopes Coraline tells him what she’s giving him after he becomes a she, because by then who will care if she freaks out?  Actually, she should be on medication so she probably won’t be able to freak out, so that’s good.  Though after she transitions back to Male Kerry, there will be that hint of understanding that he was getting PMS medication so he could chill.

Yeah, this kid is getting his mind messed with in a big way.

Since the festivities are about to begin that means the magic is about the fly.  Still thing Frankie’s up the something?

Maybe you’ll find out tomorrow.

Talk of the Town: All the Investment

Well, that was an interesting night.  I got my back fixed but I did not get a Unicorn Frappuccino because the Camp Hill Starbucks are run by asses and didn’t have enough ingredients stocked.  So no magical comments for you guys, and if you don’t have one ready for me tonight when I return, you are gonna be toast here tomorrow.

This after all the running around I did last night, I returned home about fifteen minutes before a bus captain webinar I logged into for this Saturday’s trip to D.C. for the March For Science.  Yes, I’ll be in Washington doing the captain of the bus thing again, but this weekend won’t be a big as the last time I was down about that way.  The last number I saw was an estimated 100,000 showing, which is still pretty respectable.  Hey, I’ll be making my voice heard–and I’m not getting paid.  Trust me.

One thing I did manage was to lay out Chapter Twelve.  And if I’m even luckier I’ll start the next scene.  If I do I’ll show you the scene titles so you can have a laugh…

Speaking of laughs–that’s something Helena isn’t doing.  And as we end the scene Ramona is more or less with the head sorceress:

 

 

 

 

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

 

Helena was about to say something when Ramona interrupted. “Did you notice Isis playing around with her tablet throughout the test?”

“As a matter fact, I did.” Helena removed her arm from the back of the chair and folded her hands together in her lap as she leaned forward. “You think she was streaming the test?”

“The only reasons she would’ve kept checking her tablet is one, she wanted to make certain her firewall in place and no one was hacking the signal; two, she’d want to make certain the bit rate didn’t fall too low.” Helena glanced up at a point on the wall above Ramona’s head. “And three, she would’ve also been watching the Marionette streams.”

There wasn’t anything in Ramona’s logic that Helena saw as incorrect. Given the large number of Spy Eyes in the room, she’d already accepted the possibility that San Francisco wasn’t just recording but live streaming as well. And given the way the homunculus acted—particularly during the third phase—it wasn’t difficult to believe there were puppet operators working the other end.

“All that makes sense.” Helena leaned sideways against the arm of her chair and sighed. “When that test started it was a little after five in San Francisco; that means they were getting people in place at four this morning.” She shook her head. “That’s a hell of a lot of preparation for a four minute test.”

 

Yeah, when your zombies are working together to take out one person, you can bet there are live people on the other end pulling those puppet strings.  What Helena says is also true:  a lot of prep work when into this test, and it seems as if San Francisco was, pardon the pun, pulling a lot of strings.  This is not normal procedure and it leaves both women wondering what it all means…

 

Ramona nodded. “That’s what I thought. That’s also why I thought this wasn’t approved by Gabriel: I don’t think he’d of had the audacity to invite people out that early in the morning to view this test live.” She, too, leaned against the arm of her chair. “You think you can find out who was involved in setting up this test?”

Helena shrugged. “Doubt it. While I’ve done my fair share of work for SOP, I’m in a completely different division. That means that some of the inner manifestations to go along with an SOP test are kept hidden from me.”

“You have any contacts who might be able to looking to those inner workings?”

“I have a few, but…” Helena rubbed her hands together as she considered the matter. “While those contacts don’t mind helping me out in a pinch with something they also see is bullshit, they’ll likely balk when I start asking them organizational questions—particularly who is doing and what at a continental headquarters.”

While Ramona knew nothing of the internal workings of the Guardians, she could see members of a super-secretive organization being just a secretive when it came to revealing their table of organization. “I guess we’ll find out who’s running things there eventually.”

Helena smirked. “Eventually.”

“So what do you think this means for those two?”

Helena pressed a fingertip against her right cheek as she contemplated this new reality. “It means someone has taken a rather exuberant interest in our couple.”

Ramona was quick to notice the deep frown crossing Helena’s face. “What’s wrong?”

The sorceress gave a deep sigh. “I’m somewhat torn.”

“By?”

She stared off into a corner of the room so that she didn’t have to look across the desk. “I don’t know if I should be excited, pleased, or terrified at that prospect.”

 

You know, when Helena is worried, everyone should worry.  You should worry more when she doesn’t know how she should feel, though, ’cause that’s always bad.  The take away here is the Guardians are upping their game on my kids and since we know they’re getting a mission, you can expect said missions won’t be anything like Kansas City.

And yes:  you will find out what’s going on behind the scene and those questions will be answered in this novel.  Act Two:  don’t miss it.

With that done, it’s time to move on to one of the moments that my kids get to share together…

Talk of the Town: Not Who You Think

It took a few weeks, but I reached another milestone last night: I finished Part Three in the novel.  It didn’t take a lot–just a little over eight hundred words–but that was enough with the scene the bed, finish the chapter, and set the part aside.

All those First Drafts looking nice and pretty.

This means it’s time to move on to Part Four, which means I’m into the last part of Act One. It also means I’m into the first of the chapters, Chapter Twelve, that need to be laid out now.  Chapter Eleven was the last chapter in the book which I plotted out, and now it’s necessary to move on ahead and start laying out scenes.  Tonight I’m likely going to do that for Chapters Twelve and Thirteen and perhaps lay down a few scenes for the remaining three chapters of Part Four.

Yeah, I got some work ahead of me. But it’s not like I don’t know what’s coming…

Speaking of that–not knowing what’s coming, that is–let’s move a little further along in our conversation between Ramona and Helena and see what they make of the Great Musical Zombie Killing:

 

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

 

“How do you think I felt when Isis braced me last night?” Ramona leaned forward in her chair. “And then this morning she tells me additional things, like it’s a Do or Die test and there’s going to be music played. I didn’t understand that at all.”

Helena snorted. “And what was with the music? Who the hell picked that song?”

“I assume someone in San Francisco. I mean, if anyone wants to know what sort of music Kerry likes, all they need to do is go out to his YouTube account and take a look at his playlists. It’s all public, so it’s not like anyone would need to go out there snooping about in secret.”

Helena rubbed her eyes as she considered Ramona’s remarks. “It’s goddamn stupid, if you ask me. I’ve never seen a test conducted that way.” She tilted her head back and let herself go slightly limp. “Gabriel must’ve been tripping bear balls when he put this test together.”

Ramona stared across her desk at Helena for about five seconds before she shook her head. “That test was not authorized by Mr. Gabriel.”

 

First, we now know that Kerry has a bunch of public playlist on a YouTube account–which makes him sound just like a certain author we all know.  Well, it is cheaper than paying for Pandora or Spotify, though one day Kerry likely will start doing that.  (As to whether or not Annie has Pandora and/or Spotify, I think we already know the answer to that question.)  Second, this is the first time we’ve also heard Helena use an expression like “tripping bear balls”, which is an unusual thing for her to say, but not completely out of the question.  It also makes me wonder if she is somehow related to Cheryl Tunt…

Lastly, though, we see that Helena is just too close to the problem and can’t see something that Ramona picks out immediately: that a person she’s had dealings with in the past concerning Guardian affairs didn’t do something she thinks he did.  And Ramona’s reasoning?

 

Helena sat up long enough to recross her legs and throw her left arm over the back of her chair. “What do you mean?”

“I mean it doesn’t seem like his style.” She tapped her index finger against the tip of her nose several times as she thought. “I’ve only had to deal with the gentleman a couple of times, but everything I’ve seen leads me to believe that he would never authorize a test like the one we had this morning. His style is classical, while the one we saw today—” She gave a quick shrug. “Totally modern pop.” Ramona lay her right hand on her desk and tapped it for a few moments. “Did you recognize any of the names on the emails you received?”

That was an easy question to answer as there was only one name on Helena’s email. “I recognized the name on my email right away: I’ve been dealing with her for six years.”

“There’s been three or four people I’ve had to deal with in the last six years and only one of their names popped up among the three I saw on the email they sent me regarding additional requirements for the test.” Ramona gave her head another shake and tapped her fingers on the desk once more. “Between that and the conduct of today’s test, I don’t think I’m entirely off base when I say I’m not sure the old guard is still in place in San Francisco.”

Though Helena wasn’t ready to agree with all of Ramona’s assessment, her comments concerning Mr. Gabriel and how it seemed unlikely he would’ve authorized the test they witnessed today did ring true. Though Helena didn’t work directly for SOP—she was actually a member of Field Operations Division, or FOD, which some wags in the Guardians said was the acronym for “Forced on Operation and Died”—she had plenty of opportunities to cross from one department to another, and had had more or less a cordial relationship with Gabriel for little more than a decade.

This meant she knew something of the way he conducted himself, as well as the way he conducted business as the director of San Francisco SOP, and Ramona was right: there was no way he would’ve authorized today’s test. His idea of a test would’ve been far more traditional—possibly more homunculus on the test area at once as well as a shorter time period in which to achieve goals. But he would’ve never set this up as a Do or Die operation, nor would he have allowed music to be played—at least not the music they heard today.

Helena was about to say something when Ramona interrupted. “Did you notice Isis playing around with her tablet throughout the test?”

 

Once you establish yourself as having a particular style, it’s easy to notice when that style changes.  With most of these witches, style change doesn’t come about easily, so something drastic occurs one can assume that someone new is calling the shots.  That’s what Ramona noticed right away, probably because while she’s had dealings with the Guardians, they’ve been limited.  This would make any change in procedures stand out rather dramatically.

And for the first time we find out which section of the Guardians Helena works for: Field Operations Division.  She stated before that she’s done work for SOP, but they are not the boss of her–at least not directly.  Because of her injuries we know FOD doesn’t put Helen out in the field as much as in the past, and when she does go out it’s usually in a supervisory capacity.  Which may or may not be all right with Helena, but there’s little she can do to buck her bosses at this point.  Besides, like it or not she’s collecting a paycheck from both the school and the Guardians, so why complain?  And, being at the school as she is, she’s usually the first to see new talent. Like, you know, a couple of kids who arrived at Salem two years ago–

With these questions out of the way close again quickly on the end of this conversation…