Yesterday was the whole, “Kerry’s in the hospital again and everyone’s coming by to see how he’s doing and up pops Emma,” scene, and it ended up with a lot of–let’s just say a variety of emotions are sort of swirling about right now. The least of which are coming from Emma, who probably thinks she should have rethought this moment in her life:
“Is now–or like any time in the next six months–a bad time?”
Last night I wrote sixteen hundred words for this part of the scene, and that’s something I’ve not done in a hell of a long time. And get what? You get to see it all. Because this is a moment a lot of people have waited for . . .
All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)
A bit of redness crept into Emma’s cheeks as she looked towards the floor. “Thanks.”
“You ran a hard race—” Kerry’s tone turned towards the sarcastic. “—and you had only two speed penalties for rough racing. At least you were able to come in third.” He folded his hand over his lap as he tone turned cold. “Oh wait: you didn’t come in third. I did.”
Emma swallowed hard but didn’t look up. “Kerry—”
He cut her off before finding out what she wanted to say. “I had time penalties: I admit it. I even told Vicky I knew I was using magic during the race, and that she had to do what she needed to do.” He snorted. “I knew it was gonna screw me at the end, but I didn’t try to dance around then. I blew a gate and I used magic illegally. I own that, okay?” When it became evident his wingmate wasn’t going to say anything, Kerry continued onward. “What the hell is wrong with you, Emma?”
She appeared almost frightened when she looked up. “I didn’t mean it—”
“Don’t tell me that.”
Annie watched Kerry closely, noticing how he handled himself. He didn’t shout at Emma; there wasn’t any need, for his anger was evident in the low grow of his words. Annie had seen him like this once before: when he questioned Lisa while she was under the control of his Draught of Submission. He’s fully aware of what he’s doing: he’s completely in control. She kept her face frozen, but inside Annie’s smile was bright and wide. He’s acting as a sorceress would; he’s being my Dark Witch.
Before we get into the whole “He’s my Dark Witch” thing, allow me to explain their penalty system:
Certain things done on the course require a set time penalty that are added to the racer’s finally finish time once they cross the start/finish line for the last time. Blowing an elevation gate is a five second penalty; using magic on yourself while on the course–save for certain things like flipping up your visor or retracting your genitals–is a ten second penalty, and crafting a spell at someone an firing it off can get you anything from a minute to getting pulled off the track.
However, there are certain things that involve a speed penalty, which is simply a matter of Race Control telling you to throttle back your broom for a set amount of time and cruse at that speed until they tell you to go again. Rough racing is one of those things that can get you a speed penalty, and that’s totally a judgement call on the part of Race Control, because bumps and grinds do happen on the course, and it’s up to Vicky to decide if someone needs a little less speed.
Kerry blew a gate and used magic on the course: that’s fifteen seconds of time added to his final finishing time. Emma was called for rough racing, and as you see she was called on it a second time during the race. Some might say she was gaming the system a little bit, because if you get called on it a third time one can find themselves getting a time penalty thrown at them as well.
This is why the Unofficial Time for the Katahdan finish looks like this:
With all the pretty penalties.
And once the time penalties are added in, the Official Times for the race look like this:
Once again proving Time is a Tyrant.
Kerry had fifteen seconds of penalties, and when you add that to finishing seventy-eight seconds behind Nadine, it gives him a final interval time of ninety-three second, which puts him behind Emma by three seconds and ahead of Alex by five. If Alex had been a little faster, or Kerry a little slower, or racked up another five seconds of penalties, he’d might dropped to fifth. And just so you know, if he’d tied Alex he’d have still gotten forth, because he’s ahead of Alex in the standings due to wins, podium finishes, and top-5s. Consistency has it’s place.
So now you know how this works out–and you’re about to know one more thing. And this is the answer to a question that a lot of people apparently ask . . .
Kerry cleared his throat and shifted as much as he could with his knee immobilized. “Do you know why I fly with you?”
Emma finally looked up, and Annie and Kerry noticed her eyes growing misty with tears. “No.”
“I fly with you because you are the best. You know what to do when we’re out, you know what what could happen to us. When we’re flying together, I know how to anticipate your actions, and you can do the same with me. I fly with you because I’m one of the best, and I only want to fly with someone who I know is just as good. I’ve had people ask me, ‘Why do you fly with that crazy bitch?’ And that’s what I tell them: my wingmate is one of the best fliers, and I trust her to do the right things. And I do—but only when we’re flying.
“But when we’re racing?” Kerry gave a disgusted snort. “No I don’t. When you race, it’s like Crazy Emma comes out—the evil twin who doesn’t give a shit about anything but winning.” Kerry hadn’t sworn much in front of Emma, and she recoiled when he did it this time. “You don’t care about anything when you’re on the track—” He became more animated, using his arms to gesture while his tone remained constant. “All you want to do is win, and you’ll do anything to get to the finish line first. And if that means racing a little hard, that’s what you do. Only in your case—” His tone turned sarcastic once again. “You haven’t figured out the different between racing hard and racing dangerous. You think racing hard means putting someone off the course so they miss a gate, or into a safety enchantment so they slow up—or wreck—”
Emma began shaking her head as she pleased with her eyes. “I don’t—”
“You do. It’s one thing to bump someone now and then when you’re racing, and it’s another to just run into them and get them out of your way. You didn’t bump into me today: you ran me over.” He sighed. “Do you know anything about racing in the Normal world? Have you ever watched Formula 1 or NASCAR?”
She shook her head. “No.”
“Then you don’t know what happens when a new person comes up and they decide they gotta win at all costs.” A smirk began to form on Kerry’s face. “They lose all their friends on the track. They have people gang up on them. They turn into the ‘bad guy’.” He pierced Emma with cold stare. “Is that what you wanna be? The Bad Girl of Salem Racing? I don’t think you want that, and even if you did you couldn’t pull it off, ‘cause you’d suck at it.” He once again set his hands in his lap as he settled back. “Nadine wants to see you before you guys go to the Midnight Madness, doesn’t she?”
Like it or not, Kerry sees there are two Emmas. The first Emma is a great flier and has it together when she’s in the air, and she works well with her navigator. This is something we’ve seen back on PEI during the first overnight flight, when these two worked out a route home in about the same amount of time it takes me to figure out what I’m going to wear in the morning. They click; they are on the same wavelength.
And then there’s a second Emma who’s some crazy bitch with a “Win It All!” attitude who will push anyone out of her way–including her wingmate, whose life she’s gonna have to place her hands one of these days when they’re in the wilds of Canada. Second Emma doesn’t think, and that’s what Kerry doesn’t like about her. Racing isn’t just about winning, ’cause who wants to win all the time if they are burning bridges as they go along?
This is what Kerry knows, just as he knows her team captain wants to speak with her . . .
She nodded slowly as a certain awareness crept into her eyes. “Yes. How did—?”
“—I know? Because Riv and she were by earlier to see how I was doing. A lot of people came by to see how I was doing.” Kerry sat forward and finally raised his voice as he spoke. “I’ve got more friends on other teams than you have on your team. And you’re losing the few you have.” He sighed as he slightly collapsed inward. “If you don’t change you’re gonna get out on the track next season you’re gonna find yourself out there racing alone. No one’s gonna help you, no one’s gonna cut you slack. You’re gonna be out there all alone.” Though he spoke softer, Kerry’s tone didn’t waver. “Is that what you want?”
A few tears began streaming down Emma’s cheeks. “No.”
“I don’t know what Nadine’s gonna say to you, but I can bet she’s gonna ream you out. She’s gonna tell you to get it together, or you can get off the team—”
Emma wiped her face. “Are you sure?”
Kerry looked like he was about to jump out of bed. “Annie and I have class with her and Riv, and Nadine and I are working on our Ostara presentations together. Yeah, I’m sure. And you know what she’s gonna say as well, ‘cause you’re not stupid.” The cold stare and matching tone returned. “You need to fix this, and now. Otherwise you’ll probably never stand on a podium again.”
Again, Second Emma isn’t smart. She doesn’t realize that Kerry’s not only friends with one captain from another race time, but two: Rivânia is the Åsgårdsreia team captain as well. No, Emma isn’t smart, and Kerry’s about to give her the final cut.
The tears were flowing now and Emma found it difficult speaking through the sobs. “You right; I know you are.” She stared at the floor once more. “I’ll fix it, I promise.”
“You better . . .” Kerry took a deep breath as he leaned forward. “I’m gonna say one last thing, and after this we won’t talk about it ever again; I won’t bring it up, and if you try I’ll blow you off. Look at me—” Emma slowly raised her head. “Anna came with Nadine and Riv, and she said that from where she was positioned she thought you slid into me on purpose. I didn’t want to believe that, but you know me: give me time and I’ll over-analyze everything.
“Even if you came into Pond fast, you could have slowed enough that you could have diamonded that turn. I know you could because I could. In fact I would have done the same but Anna was there and I wasn’t in the right spot to pull it off. You didn’t have that problem, though.
“So from now on, until you fix the way you fly and prove you aren’t gonna be a danger to anyone, any time I see you coming my way I’m gonna assume you’re gonna do something stupid that’ll probably wreck me.” Emma’s tears began flowing more freely. “And I’m going to do what is necessary to keep that from happening—and if that means having to stick you in a safety enchantment, I will.” His tone turned dark. “And you know I can, ‘cause when it comes to both flying and racing, we both know as good as you are, I’m better.”
Kerry ignored his wingmate’s distress as he pushed home his last point. “I’ll keep flying with you. I’ll do snipe hunts, I’ll do overnight flights, I’ll even do the Polar Express. But I don’t have to do them as your friend. People work together all the time who may not really like each other that much, and that’s the way it might be with us.” He drew in a slow, deep breath. “It’s called being a professional. I would rather fly with you as a friend I can trust, but if I can’t, I can be a professional and do this to get through class.” He shrugged. “It depends on what you want to do, Emma. It’s all on you.”
It took several seconds for Emma to control her crying. She forced herself to stop and composed herself. “Okay, I . . .” She gulped several times as she sniffed back the remnants of her tears. “I’ll fix this, I will. I promise.”
Kerry lay back. “We’ll see.”
Emma nodded. “Yeah, I . . .” She glanced off to her left. “I, uh, better go find Nadine—”
There you go: Kerry’s letting her know that he knows she didn’t just “slide into him.” He’s called her on his bullshit, and has told her that if she keeps it up, he’s gonna start giving her a few racing lessons, and you can believe he knows how to hurt her on the track without it coming back to bite him too hard. He won’t like it, but you know, sometimes you gotta be the Dark Witch and show those other witches who the hell they’re messing with.
This is also one of those rare times where Kerry comes right out and says, “I’m better and you know it.” He doesn’t like to brag or show off, and for him to tell his wingmate that he’s better and she knows it–that’s his polite way of letting her know if she tries to play him in the future, he’s gonna, you know, fuck her up. But he says it politely. Yeah.
Well, that’s all over. Kerry’s had his say and Emma can be on her way–
Emma’s head snapped around as the privacy curtain extended across the bay and slammed shut with a lout snap. Annie was out of her chair and half-way around the bed when she crafted a privacy field and set it against the inside of the curtain. “Kerry may not care if anyone else in the hospital hears what he has to say—” She cleared the bed and walked towards Emma, who slowly backed into the space between the curtain and Bed #1 and stopped backing up when she hit the wall. Annie moved right up to her and only stopped when they were toe-to-toe. “—but what I have to say remains between us three.
You know, when Annie starts off a conversation by locking your ass in the hospital bay with her, things are probably not going to get much better from that point on . . .
“Emma . . . let’s talk.”