Tally Time, the Tale of the Tape

Where to begin?  Probably with something that I feel is a breakthrough for me, and trust me when I say this, because I never speak lightly of breakthroughs.  Okay, sometimes . . .

Yesterday I mentioned that my HRT doctor said I was suffering from hypertension, and that I felt I needed to do something.  True, I do, and I’m planing on taking steps to bring it under control without having to resort to drugs first.  I spoke about this on Facebook with some friends, and I wrote something down that, at the time, didn’t strike me as strange, unusual, or even noteworthy.  But after some reflection, I realized I’d admitted something that, obviously, marked a change in my behavior.

What was it I said?

 

“I don’t want to die.  I’m happy and I want to stay that way.”

 

That, after much reflection, came as a bit of a shock, because I don’t think I’ve ever said either of those statements, individually or combined, at any time in my life.  Happy was always relative, and death–that’s something I knew would come one day, and so what, right?  But here I was, in an open forum in front of hundreds of people who knew me, saying that I didn’t want to die.

I think I’ve finally turned a corner.

You can tell I'm happy because I'm just one step away from becoming a feminine hygiene ad.

You can tell I’m happy because I’m just one step away from becoming a feminine hygiene ad.

Also:  writing.  I got through that last night, though not as far as I wanted, but you do what you do.  And I still managed nearly five hundred words, so I’m chugging along.

Now we reach the part, after Isis has thought about how hard it is to keep death out of the school, the tell the Headmistress the current count after the breach of their defenses:

 

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

Isis stared into the monitor, directly into the Headmistress’ eyes. “Right now we have, from the flyer’s group, eight missing and one confirmed death. Because we don’t have access to the detection grid, anyone who didn’t report in after the go to ground command is being listed as ‘missing’ until we can confirm they’re alive or . . .” She looked down as she cleared her throat. “Otherwise.”

Mathilde seemed to consider Isis’ report. “What was the situation surrounding this confirmed death?”

“Flier from Ceridwen was snatched off her broom about twenty-five meters from Laputa—the Observatory—by an Abomination and dragged into the forest. As they were in the process of locking down no one could go after her. Three people saw what happened; two were able to identify her.”

“You say she was from Ceridwen?”

“Yeah.” Isis checked a nearby monitor, but she already knew the covens of the missing and dead fliers. “Three from Mórrígan; two each from Åsgårdsreia and Cernunnos; one each from Ceridwen and Blodeuwedd.”  She turned back to the monitor.  “That’s the toll so far.”

 

Of course we know that two of those fliers–one from Mórrígan and one from Cernunnos Covens–aren’t dead, but since I can’t tap my characters on the shoulder and tell them that, this part of the story continues to believe that.  As for the others:  we know Kerry saw people falling from the sky, and Emma did as well, so it’s reasonable to say that some of those missing aren’t coming back to classes.

And we haven’t even touched upon the people on the ground . . .

What of the state of defenses, you ask?  The Headmistress asked, too, and Isis answered:

 

“We have two nodes coming up. Wednesday’s been on Sunset for about eight minutes now, and it looks as if we’ll be able to activate it in another five to seven. We have a second node in the southeast coming up; Wends was hoping to run into Erywin, and it looks like she did.”

“How is that coming along?”

“We started charging that node a couple of minutes ago. It should be ready to go in ten or so minutes.”

The Headmistress nodded. “What’s your estimation for bring both grids on-line again?”

Isis had those numbers all figured out. “There’s some staggering in the charging times, but it’s not significant. I figure to have both these nodes charged by 17:50. Give them time to move to the next location and start charging, that’s probably fifteen to seventeen minutes each to finish the next one. Looking at those numbers—” Isis scratched the side of her face a couple of times. “We’ll be operational between 18:20 and 18:30. Though I expect the comms to be up before then, only because those nodes require less energy.”

 

Given the time of the conversation–around 17:45–it’s another forty-five minutes before some serious ass-beating can take place.  The next part of the scene–which I’m doing during my “I’m Out Having Dinner and Writing Night” tonight–will mention what Isis believed the Deconstructor’s plan all along.  That and something else concerning a certain couple . . .

Looking over the remainder of Act Two, there are still a lot of things to write, but it’s nothing insurmountable.  It’s just a matter of time, and getting words down on the paper.  It’s slow going at the moment . . .

It doesn't look slow, however.

It doesn’t look like work, however.

But it’s getting there.  Maybe by the time the next NaNo rolls around, I can spend that time getting a novel ready for publication . . .

Tally Time, the Hard Salem Life

First, lets have some news, good and bad.  First the good news:  I’m doing fine in the transitioning area, and I was told by my doctor that I’ve got “boobage going on,” which is one of the reasons I love her.

But the bad new is I may have hypertension, and that’s not good.  Three times I’ve had my blood pressure taken, three times I hit 150 on the top end.  So I need to start looking into how to get that down, because I really don’t want to start on blood pressure medication, nor do I want a stroke.  No, I don’t.  Not at all.

This is my worried face.  It's not a good one.

This is my worried face.  Can you tell?

I snapped the above picture in a Panera about five miles from my doctor’s office in New Jersey.  Since I knew I’d get home late, I wanted to get in my writing–which is why I always bring my computer with me when I’m out like this.  You write where you can, and since I like going to Panera, if their wifi up working, I can hop online as well.  The wifi wasn’t working yesterday, which is why I was able to write over seven hundred words in about forty minutes.

Now comes the part of the post were we start talking about bad things at my school, and if you don’t want to hear about people dying, it’s best you move away from here and return to the Internet, where just about anything is found for the click of a Google.

 

Ready?

 

Let’s Go.

 

We’re at the point in the story where the security people know if any deaths occurred during the breach of the outer defense screens.  They go off of who didn’t make it back to one of the two safe areas, particularly with the comms down, and also if there were any eyewitnesses who saw someone dying.  It’s not a pleasant task, creating a tally of the dead, and Isis is particularly sensitive to this, because eleven years before, as a student, she lost friends at the school during a Deconstructor attack known as The Scouring.

We pick up in the story learning that death is something that is always around . . .

 

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

During her tenure as Director of Security for the Salem Institute, Isis Mossman found it necessary to report to the Headmistress on the circumstances surrounding the deaths of six students. Though much was done to prevent such a tragedy from occurring, deaths happened—and most were not accidents.

One of the non-accidents occurred during a Call Out Match, which occurred when differences between students could only be worked out in usually quick, one-on-one, combat. Two E Levels squared off n 2008 and one student fired off and intense barrage of magic that the other student—the girl who’d actually initiated the challenge—was unable to block or deflect, making their demise a sudden, blood-soaked mess—all of which was allowable because of the Foundation wavers the students signed before entering the combat area. Isis was required to investigate, though the root cause of the death was easy to determine, the solution would have made it necessary to either eliminate the use of additional spells—death spells were already forbidden in magical combat—or forbid this form of combat altogether.

The second non-accident happened three months after Isis became the security director in 2006. A transformation spell backfired on a C Level student during class, and despite the best efforts of Jessica Kishna and Nurse Coraline and her staff, they were unable to resuscitate the boy. Isis was unable to come up with a solution, other than the completely unacceptable notion of no longer teaching transformation spells . . .

 

When it comes right down to it, killing someone with magic is a pretty simple thing.  We’ve already seen Annie and Kerry being warned after their Self Defense and Weapons class not to use their Air Hammer spells against other students, because they could probably cut them in half like so many zombies were they to use them.  And Annie knows a death spell, so she’s already a dangerous little girl.

There’s also something else that one has to take into consideration in this little hot pot of magic:  under the right conditions students will snap and perhaps find it to difficult to go on . . .

 

The school took every precaution possible to prevent students from killing themselves. All high places from which one could jump were protected by safety enchantments; ingredients that could be used to manufacture poisons were monitored and secured. The detection grills were always on the lookout for students suddenly registering zero life signs, and the vitals of students who attempted suicide through bleeding out or asphyxiation were immediately noted, which always resulted in the instant notification of the hospital staff on duty.

The staff and instructors were also trained to notice changes in behavior that could lead to suicidal ideation and/or action. Everyone working at Salem had been a student, and they knew all too well the pressure-ladened environment that existed inside the walls of the Institute. They’d seen the same behavior in fellow students, and with the additional training they’d received, they could now recognize it in their own students. With enough recognition it was possible for someone to approach a student and tell them, “We should talk.”

Sometimes, however, there were students who were impossible to notice short of reading their minds . . .

 

The possibility of suicide at school couldn’t be any different than the chances of it happening in Normal schools.  It happens here, too, and if you’ve figured out from the excerpts that at least four students have killed themselves from 2006 to 2010, then you know being a witch doesn’t mean you’re immune to the pressures of life.  That’s why there are three counselors at the school, and others can be brought in on a moment’s notice.

Noticed I didn’t write how they died.  I did in the novel, and as you can guess, if you’re good with sorcery or transformation magic, you’re out as soon as you think about the deed.  It’s something Annie says in later years:  once you know a few death spells, if you want to die, you put your thought, energy, and willpower into it, and in two seconds you’re gone.

Like it’s said, the teachers there have a hard time trying to keep the lid on some people.  And as Isis notes below . . .

 

In each case Isis was able to determine that beyond better observation of the student body coupled with proactive counseling, there was little one could do to prevent a student who was sufficiently skilled in magic, superscience, or Gifts, from killing themselves if they were looking to end it all and move beyond The Veil.

Today was different, however. Today Isis was reporting of the deaths of students that she may have been able to prevent. She knew it was impossible to have a defense that was one hundred perfect foolproof, that someone was going figure out a work around given enough time—and that the situation on the school grounds could be worse.

It didn’t make her mood any better.

 

There I stopped, and tonight I get into Director Mossman’s report to the Headmistress, and we–well, actually you; I know what she’s going to say–discover how many students were lost, and how Isis might have to deal with breaking this bad news to a student just down the hall from her.

Now here is the strange thing:  all this time I’ve been looking at Chapter Twenty-Two, and I realized I left a scene out.  It’s right . . .

There, because being an Abomination and getting Intervention.

There, between being an Abomination and getting Intervention.

It’s a pivotal scene, and I can’t believe I left it out.  I know what it is, but . . . as Ricky would say, “You know how it goes.”  Sadly I do.  But I remembered it today.

And something else happened during the writing of the scene yesterday:

It has something to do with numbers, I know that.

It has something to do with numbers, I know that.

Act Two finally crossed a hundred thousand words.  So, between the two acts, I’ve two novels.  The question remains if I can finish up this act in another fifty thousand words.  I think I can–

Yeah, I really do.

Fortress Time, Part Deux

Did I not say I was going to bring you Part Two of this?  Did I not?  Are you not entertained?

Yes, it was writing night last night, and I was in the grove.  Didn’t do word checks, didn’t let too many distractions get at me.  Just stuck to what I knew I had to do and wrote.  I wrote so well that I stopped just short of fifteen hundred words, which is a good night any night of the week.  Since it’s Wednesday night tonight, I hope to do as well while I’m out.

And speaking of Wednesday, she pops up in this excerpt along with Isis.  The two of them, once more working together to help protect the school.  They did it once before, in 2000, back during a little slice of hell known as The Scouring, but they were students then–and those actions are one of the reasons they’re at the school today.  That, and the fact they’re among the best in the world at what they do.  That goes without saying.

Let’s pick up where I left off, with Isis trying to get the detection and communications grids back on line:

 

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

On the three dimensional map of the grounds the thirteen nodes that powered the detection grid appeared. Five of the nods—all of them in the north and northwest sections of the outer wall—were green; the other eight in the central and southern area were yellow. Isis half turned towards Suhaila. “Show me the grid.”

The northern section of the school—mostly from the Observatory Tower and points nothing—appeared green. Everywhere else, save the interior of the Pentagram Walls, was red. Wednesday—who’d been silent up to this point—stood next to Isis. “Are the nodes damaged?”

“Let’s find out.” She pointed at the display. “Ping Sunset.”

Suhaila typed something in on her keyboard and touched her screen. Isis and Wednesday saw the node embedded in Sunset Tower flash green for a moment before returning to yellow. She turned to her chief. “It’s responding.”

“Yeah, I see that.” Isis spoke to Wednesday while continuing to stare at the display. “You think it’s drained?”

“Has to be.” She turned to Isis, who slowly turned to face the little witch. “Those were drain spells that detonated, so it stands that they were sucked dry.”

“Doesn’t explain the comm nodes, though.”

“Yeah, it does. The drain must have been so massive that the interlink between the two nodes never had a chance to shut down to save the comm nodes, and they were drained as well.” She glanced at the display and shrugged. “We have to fix that.”

“Yeah, I’ll put it on our ‘to-do’ list.” Isis pushed the school display away before facing Tamera and Suhaila. “Okay, start charging them up. We gotta get them back on line as quickly as possible.”

 

Magical nodes full of energy–only they aren’t not.  Damn those drain detonations.  Charging them up requires pushing mystical energy from the Master Node under the Great Hall into the separate nodes.  Only Wednesday notes that it’s going to take four hours to charge them up, and . . .

 

“We don’t have four hour; we’ve gotta start clearing the grounds now.” She pointed at the display. “Besides, you only need six of those eight operating at eighty person to bring that grid up—” Wednesday was well aware of these figures because of the time she’d spent helping redesign the system. “These three then . . .” She indicated three nodes along the west outer wall. “And these.” She indicated three on the south and east outer walls.

Isis already had the numbers figured for those as well. “That’s still going to take three hours.”

“Yeah, if you do them all at one.” Wednesday stepped around Isis and stood behind Suhaila. “You can start quick charging one node at a time—”

“Which still takes twenty to twenty-five minutes per node.” Isis didn’t want to dash Wednesday’s hopes, but there really wasn’t much of a way they could have an operational detection grid in under two and a half hours. “No matter what it’s gonna take time.”

“Not if you have help.” Wednesday faced Isis, her face set in stone. “If I go out there and help pump energy into the nodes while you’re charging them—”

“No.”

“—we could cut the time—”

No.”

“—to ten or twelve minutes.”

NO.”

If there was one word Wednesday detested, it was “no”. She didn’t accept it from her students, and she didn’t accept it from her colleagues. Which meant she damn well  wouldn’t accept it from her closest friend . . . She cocked a finger in Isis’ direction. “You and I need to talk.”

 

Wednesday may be small–at five foot she is sometimes mistaken for a student–and Isis . . . well, she stands about five foot ten in her bare feet, and most of the time when she’s working she’s in heels, so she’s taller than her friend.  And in this case, she’s mad enough to go potty mouth to get her point across . . .

 

The little witch wasn’t about to let Isis take control of the conversation, and instantly let her know her feelings. “Are you out of your fucking mind?”

Isis was taken back by her friend’s outburst. She’d seen Wednesday angry before, but she’d never seen it directed at her. “Hey, I’m doing my job.”

“If you were then you’d know I’m right.” She crossed her arms. “I helped you with the design of this system: you can’t bullshit me about what can and can’t be done.” Wednesday jabbed a finger at Isis as raised her voice. “And you know I’m right about this. You know if I’m out there helping you power up those nodes—”

It was Isis turn to get loud as well. “There are Deconstructors and Abominations out there—”

Wednesday wasn’t listening. “If I’m helping you power up those nodes, we can have the detection grid up in sixty to seventy-five minutes.”

“We can’t track anything beyond The Pentagram.”

I know: that’s why you need my help.”

 

And there’s a word we’re hearing for the first time:  Abominations.  As you can imagine, they’re a nasty piece of work.  And since one of my scenes is titled Abomination . . . yeah, you can put it together, can’t you?

Now that Wednesday is beating up her friend, it’s time for her to stick in the knife and twist . . .

 

“Tell me: what is your duty to this school?”

Isis stopped cold and had to think about what her friend was asking. The simple one was too easy to say—“I’m the Chief of Security”—and that wasn’t the answer Wednesday wanted anyway. No, I know what she wants to hear . . . She answered in a low voice. “To protect the students, the staff, and the grounds.”

“And were don’t know what’s going on out on the grounds, so you need to protect the students and the staff.” Wednesday nodded slowly. “To do that you need that grid up and running—yeah?”

Isis stared at her toes. “Yeah.”

“Honey, look at me.” Wednesday waited until they were looking at each other eye-to-eye. “I’m working with you in Security, and right now that makes me as expendable as any of the people out on the outer grounds waiting for detection and communications.” She laid a hand against Isis’. “You know I’m right.”

As much as Isis didn’t want to say the words, she knew Wednesday wouldn’t let her get away without an acknowledgment. “I know.”

Wednesday didn’t waste time with anymore words. “Okay, then. I need a helmet, goggles, a broom, a tablet, and a messenger bag for the table.” She headed for the supply rack. “Come on, my Goddess: get you ass in gear.”

 

When you need to make your point, you have to tell people, even your best friends, that you can’t treat them special.  When you know you have to do something, even if it’s dangerous, you gotta do it.  Even if it means you might die in the process.  And Wends is playing the “Needs of the Many” card to get her point across.

Which leads to this . . .

 

The two women stared at each other in uncomfortable silence for almost five seconds. Wednesday was ready to go, but Isis appeared to need to say more. “Wends, be careful.”

Another few seconds passed with neither woman saying anything—then Wednesday stood on tip-toes and kissed Isis on the cheek. “I’m coming back—” She hesitated before choking out the last part of her statement. “I’m not Cleo.”

Isis’ breath caught in her chest for a moment as the name of their dear friend, one who Wednesday had seen die the night of the Scouring, was uttered. Isis held back the tears she knew were lurking behind her eyes. “You better come back, or . . .” She sniffed hard once. “I’ll have Adric teach me Necromancy just so I can call your ass back and tell you off.”

“Sounds like something you’d do.” Wednesday headed out of the Bunker but didn’t open the door to the Upper Transept. “You need to be in the Security Center before I can leave.” She winked. “Protocols—remember?”

“I should: I wrote the damn things.” She patted her friend’s shoulder as she keyed open the Security Center entrance. “Let the Owls guild your way.”

“They always do.” She nodded at the door. “Get inside and do your job.”

Isis nodded, then hurried through and sealed the Center door behind her. Wednesday quickly exited the Security Area and didn’t waste time in the Upper Transept. She tossed the broom into the air and let it settle into a hover as she slipped the messenger bag with the tablet around her body. She slid up into the broom saddle as she adjusted her goggles, then zipped her jacket up the rest of the way and rocketed out into the Rotunda—

 

The next scene, Out, is a Wednesday scene, and you can probably guess where it’s leading.

Probably to topping one hundred thousand words for this Act.  But I could be wrong.

Probably to topping one hundred thousand words for this Act. But I could be wrong.

Fortress Time, Part Un

William Gibson once said that when he didn’t have anything to write, when the words weren’t coming, then he’d find something else to do.  Usually it was writing related, but he is a firm believer that sometimes you can’t make the ideas in your head pop out on to whatever it is you use for paper.

He also said this was the color of the sky over a port city in Japan.  Remind me never to go there.

He also said this was the color of the sky over a port city in Japan. Remind me never to go there.

So yesterday I was planing on writing.  Like I said, planning.  What came out was something different, because the words weren’t happening.  There were there, they just weren’t making themselves available.  Though that might have been due, in part, to Breaking Bad being on yesterday, which is occupying my Sunday late afternoons and evenings.  True, I can hear Jessie Pinkman looking up from the screen and saying, “Yo, you should be writing, bitch!” at which point I’d probably start laughing, but then I always laugh at that sort of stuff.

But words I did have, so I’m going to lay them on you.  The situation is dire, but my school’s Chief of Security, Isis, is a cool lady.  She is not going to let a little thing like, well, bad guys–and worse, just you wait–running around the school mess up her day.  She’s a professional.

She's in that big building--if I could only draw a blue bubble over The Pentagram--

She’s in that big building–if I could only draw a blue bubble over The Pentagram–

Just watch.

 

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

All right, people.” With their outer detection grid and communications down, and known hostiles inside the walls, Isis wasn’t about to allow the situation inside the Control Center to deteriorate into a lot of shouting that would require an effort on her part to pick out the useful from the noise. The initial attack was over: that didn’t mean that chaos couldn’t continue. “I want a point-by-point determination of the status of our primary defenses: right now I’m more interested in what we have than what we don’t.” She looked around to room and saw she had Tamera’s and Suhaila’s attention. “We ready, ladies?”

Both women nodded; Tamera, as second-in-command, gave the acknowledgment. “Ready, Chief.”

“Let’s start with what’s on our doorstep.” Isis realized she should start with the outer screens, but the breach had already taken place: she was concerned whether she needed to move their security status to Level Four. “Give me a Green/Yellow/Red statue for each system. Ready?”

Tamera nodded. “Go.”

Isis clenched her right fist, then relaxed and moved forward. “Pentagram defense screen.”

The response was immediate. “Green.”

“Pentagram shields—wall and tunnel doors.”

“Green.”

“Pentagram detection grid.”

“Green.”

“Pentagram communication grid.”

“Green.”

That’s everything I wanted to hear. Isis wasn’t surprised by this evaluation; they’d have seen attacks against the Pentagram on the computer monitors. That meant they were safe—for now. It also told Isis other things about what was happening out on the school grounds . . .

“Okay, let’s move out.” She clenched her fist once more, ready for the bad news. “Outer wall defense screen.” Let it be green, let it be green

The outer wall systems were Suhaila’s area. She had the answer instantly. “Green.”

Isis resisted the urge to sigh. “Outer wall shields—gates and doors.”

“Green.”

Now for the real problem . . . Isis was aware the outer detection and communication grids were down—it was just a matter of whether the grids were “Outer detection grid.” She readied herself for the worst—

Suhaila looked over her shoulder at her chief. “Yellow.”

“You certain?” That wasn’t the answer Isis expected.

“Yes.”

“Okay, we come back to that.” It gave her hope that the the comm grid would be the same condition. “Outer communication grid.”

She got the answer right away. “Yellow.”

They’re not destroyed; that means we can work with those. Isis turned to the hologram of the school. “Show me the detection nodes here and give me a color status for each one.”

 

And now, for Part Two later today . . .

Talks Among the Ins and Outs

The new day is here, and there is a feeling of getting things done today.  Don’t know why–maybe I just woke up in a good mood.  It’s always a plus to have that happen.

But there was also writing last night.  Lots of writing.  You want proof?  Here:

See?  I wouldn't lie.  Much.

See? I wouldn’t lie. Much.

Almost twelve hundred words to finish up the last scene in Chapter Twenty-One.  Not only that, but the novel is over ninety thousand words, and I’m creeping up on another milestone here, which I’ll discuss in a moment.

But first, the writing . . .

There’s a five-way conversation going on in this scene.  Isis and Wednesday in the Security Center, Ramona Chai and Fitzsimon Spratt, the Practical Super Science instructor, on the ground at the scene of the break-in, speaking through a couple of magical floating cameras/monitors, and the Headmistress in her lair in Sanctuary.  Question of the hour is:  how did they break in?  Answer . . .

 

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

The Headmistress glared at all through the video display. “You have an explanation for what happened, Isis?”

“I do.” She’d seen this demeanor many times before: she called it the “Mean Headmistress Look” and it only appeared when the Mathilde didn’t want to leave any doubt as to who was in control of the conversation.

“And?”

“The computer analysis shows the Deconstructors threw a number of people as a small spot on the screen, one right after another, in an attempt to hammer through a breach.”

“When you mean ‘one right after another’—”

“I mean they teleported people into the same spot on the screen in a matter of about ten second. As soon as one person hit the screen, another was right behind them, doing the same.” She turned and indicated Wednesday. “Wends has looked at the data as well, and agrees with that analysis.”

On the Monitor Two Fitzsimon—who was sending and receiving images from a Spy-Eye, one of several that the Rapid Response kept on hand for this sort of thing—raised his hand. “If I may something, Headmistress.”

Mathilde softened her glare a little. “Go ahead, Fitz.”

“Ramona and I have had a chance to examine both bodies.” The Self Defense and Weapons Instructor nodded from Monitor Three, watching and recording about six meters from Fitzsimon. “It looks like the body I’m standing over—the one that wasn’t retrieved by our stone friends—”

Isis spoke up. “That would be Gahooley.”

This gave the opportunity for the Headmistress to sigh loud enough for all to hear. “Is it actually necessary to give all the gargoyles names?”

“I find it necessary.”

 

Leave it to Isis to name “her” gargoyles.  And should we ask how it is she’s come into command of gargoyles in the walls, because if she’s giving one a name, there are probably more out there.  In a way it’s kind of scary.

But they get back to the matte at hand:

 

“Thank you.” He glanced at the body lying on the ground but didn’t kneel, knowing the Spy-Eye would follow if he did. “Of the two who made it through, this one appears in the worst shape: burnt by the energies in the screen, and missing part of his right arm.”

“He’s the one that was DOA coming through.” Isis wanted the Headmistress to know that even with a breach, the effort wasn’t a complete success.

“Yes. But . . .” Fitzsimon’s turned back to the camera. “He was wearing a device, and it’s obvious it was imbued with an enchantment.”

This was of interest to both the Headmistress and Wednesday, though the Mathilde was the first to speak. “What sort of enchantment?”

“It’s difficult to say right now; there’s only the lingering presence of an enchantment.” Fitzsimon shrugged. “Isis, Wednesday: did you see anything in your data that indicated a drain spell was used?”

Wednesday was slow to respond, as if she was going over what she’d viewed from the computers trying to see if she missed a key bit of evidence. “I didn’t see anything that stood out as a drain spell, but . . .” She turned to Isis and shrugged. “If they were throwing themselves against the screen trying to hammer it down, the energy flares could have covered it up. Particularly if it wasn’t a large spell.”

“It wouldn’t have to be large. If it was formed correctly, it’d end up being like a shape charge.”

“Yeah.” Isis shrugged. “But you couldn’t use a lot of them; too much of a chance you’d waste them before you hit the screen.”

Fitzsimon nodded. “Absolutely correct.”

 

There you see magic being used for practical effects–magical shape charges, if you will.  And now coming the whys and wherefores of how they got in, plus a little digging from the Headmistress.

 

The Headmistress wanted to get back to the point which originally brought this conversation together. “What I see here is the outer screens were breached and intruders entered the grounds. Isis, you said this wasn’t possible.”

“Headmistress, I said the screens as they are now would make nearly impossible to get into the grounds—” She wasn’t about the let Mathilde put words in her mouth and then hold her to something that was never said. “There is no such thing as a perfect defense, and I’ve said this more than once, if you’ll recall.”

“What does this mean, then?” Mathilde didn’t want more bad news.

“It means the Deconstructors have noticed a weakness and tested it to see if it was viable.” She pointed at a spot on the hologram of the school grounds behind her. “The entered near The Narrows, so my guess is someone was over in the observation tower in Halibut Point trying to see how it all played out.”

 

Is there really an observation tower over at Halibut Point State Park, at the northern most point of Cape Ann?  Do you really have to ask?

 

“Which means they know they can get in—”

“Maybe.” Isis shook her head. “They’ll also know it’s not worth their time.”

“Explain.”

Isis was glad she’d taken the time to memorize the data before having this conversation. “The data indicates thirty-three people hit the screen in the same place trying to hammer it down. Two made it through, and one of those was dead on arrival.” She looked up at Monitor Three. “Ramona, the guy who made it through alive—how was he when you got there?”

“Once your—” She was loath to the name given to the gargoyle by Isis. “—’pet’ returned the individual, he remained alive about fifteen seconds. And he wasn’t in much better shape than the individual Fritz is standing over.”

Mathilde didn’t bother hiding her surprise. “He died?”

“Yes.”

“What if you’d arrived before the gargoyle had gotten to him? Would you consider him a threat?”

Ramona looked off to the side for about five seconds before staring back into the Spy-Eye. “No, Headmistress. Given the extend of his injuries, any one of the Rapid Response team could have handled him without requiring magic. He wasn’t in any shape to put up a fight.” She glanced in the direction of the wall. “I believe he would have died, gargoyle or not.”

 

Gargoyle or not, you’re gonna die.  It’s all a matter when you’re trying to bust into the school of if you want to die sooner, or later.

What is the response to this?  Isis isn’t too worried, and Wednesday, the Second Witch in the Security Center, has got her ideas down:

 

“And we could act against them instantly.” Isis felt she’d covered all her points and was ready to move on to the end of this conference. “The one good thing to come out of this is Wends thinks she can modify the existing enchantment to make the screens harder to breach.”

With this news Mathilde no longer felt the need to seem the stern administrator. “What will you do?”

“I can make a slight adjustment to the enchantment so that if it detects as massive pin-point assault against a single area, more energy will get rushed to that spot.”

“How long will this take?”

“I’ll need about ninety minutes to work up the spell and test it. After that I just need to go down to the master node and rework the enchantment—that’ll take five minutes, no more.” Wednesday smile was friendly and relaxed. “Easy peasy.”

 

Just as long as you didn’t say “okely dokely”.  That might have been too much.

The high point too all this is I’m heading into Chapter Twenty-Two, where things get bad.  That’s where this second graphic comes into play:

Just look at the numbers, Lizzy.  Look at the number . . .

Just look at the numbers, Lizzy. Look at the number.

I’ve come within striking distance of 241,450 thousand word.  The longest thing I’ve ever written, Transporting, topped out at around 245,000 words.  That means sometime during Chapter Twenty-Two I’m not only going to pass that novel, but I’ll hit a quarter of a million words.

More importantly, the end of this Act is in sight.

Then . . . we’ll see.

Defenders Inside the Wall

If it seems like the writing has been light of late, you’re right:  it has.  I didn’t write at all Friday, my output Thursday was light, and yesterday I finished up the shortest scenes in this current chapter.  Personal and mental issues have been a bitch this week, but today . . . yeah.  I’m feeling much better.  I have one scene remaining to round out Chapter Twenty-one, and that’ll lead up to Chapter Twenty-two, Attack, which is where everything goes to hell.

But right now, it’s a good morning.

Look at that smiling face.  How could anything be wrong with that my awesome going on?

Look at that smiling face. How could anything be wrong with all that awesomeness going on?

So where are we?  Well, Annie cursed some smart mouth girl who decided to keep taking about That Girl–no, these kids have no idea who Marlo Thomas is–and then lay down, knowing she couldn’t get the images out of her head.  As for Kerry–hey, it’s out flying.  Still.  Let’s check in, shall we?

 

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

 

Kerry was getting cold once more. Emma and he were coming up on ninety minutes in the air since leaving the Observatory after their rest, and since then the sky had become overcast and the wind had picked up to the strongest it’d been all day. Though it was near the mid-fifties in temperature, the lack of sun and the wind turned the air cooler than it really was.

He put it out of his mind and kept his eyes peeled on the ground.

Emma and he were on the Low Road, taking the left turn at Sunrise Tower that would take around toward the Narrows. Even though they were still above the outer wall, being this close to the tree tops seemed to cut down on some of the wind coming out of the west. Or it could all be physiological, like being higher made you feel cooler.

He didn’t have time to think on the matter: The second left-hand turn was coming up.

Yeah, just because you love to fly, it doesn’t mean you’re going to like flying this stuff.  Kerry figured it out early:  it’s a job.  There are expectations, and you damn well better met them.  And at this point you can’t ask to sit down, ’cause if you do you’re screwed for anything else you want to do in the future.  You’re labeled a slacker from there on out, and that’s not a good thing.  Not at this school.

Don’t worry, however:  things are about to get interesting . . .

 

There was a flaring of light in the screen about five meters above the wall and some thirty meters before reaching the Narrows turn. Kerry was on it instantly. “Carrier; Nightwitch, this is Myfanwy. There’s something happening on the screen just above the wall.”

The response on the general channel didn’t come from Carrier or Nightwitch, however. “All flights, this is Fortress. Hold your positions; repeat, hold your current position.”

Kerry brought his PAV to a stop in mid-air; Emma pulled up alongside. He continued watching the flaring on the screen for a few seconds before seeing the flaring grow brighter and then appear to push through to the inside. “Fortress, this a Starbuck. Something just came through the screen.”

Emma reported in as well. “Confirmed, Fortress.” She scanned the forest before. “Fortress, I see someone on the ground.”

I see someone as well.” Kerry noticed someone close to the wall, lying still, and noticed another person, maybe five meters from the first. “We have two inside.”

If Isis was worried by the report she didn’t allow those emotions to appear in her voice. “Myfanwy, this is Fortress. We see them: please stand by.”

 

There you have it:  break in, just as the scene says.  So you got a couple of eyes in the sky watching at least one guy walking around inside the school grounds, but Fortress is on the case.  And that leads to this . . .

 

Something massive stepped out of the wall behind the Deconstructor and leapt at him. The man half-turned before he was knocked to the ground and nearly trampled by the huge, four-legged wingged creature, which to Kerry looked exactly like a—

Emma held onto her PAV tightly. “Kerry, di-did you s-see that?”

“Yeah, I saw it.” He looked over to his wingmate. “That was a—”

 

Yeah, Emma, what was that?  Unfortunately, there are ears everywhere.

 

“Myfanwy, this is Fortress.” Like before Isis’ voice was clear and calm. “I’m switching to the private channel; standby one.”

Kerry looked straight ahead waiting to see what Fortress wanted, feeling the bottom of his stomach dropped down below his broom saddle. He figured what Emma and he was about to have relayed to them might not be good . . .

“Selene, Starbuck, this is Fortress.” Kerry shot another look at Emma, who was staring back with a look of semi-fear on her face. “There are some things around the school grounds I’d rather not become public knowledge.” Kerry was now watching the presumably stone creature return to the wall with the body of the Deconstructor in its mouth. “What you witnessed was one of them.” The creature walked into the wall, merging with it seamlessly, taking the Deconstructor inside. “I would appreciate you both keeping quiet on this matter. Do you copy? Over.”

Kerry understood his options: he could say yes and it was pretty good odds that he’d remain in the air, or he could say no and . . . the likelihood that he’d be ordered to head to Laputa or Carrier and then, from there—who knew? He stared off into the distance. “Fortress, this is Starbuck. I copy. No talking on this end. Over.”

“This is Selene, Fortress.” Kerry didn’t look at Emma, but he picked up on the slight quiver in her voice. “I copy as well. All is good. Over.”

“Roger that. Switching off from private.” A few seconds later Isis was back on the general channel. “All flights, this is Fortress. You may resume patrols. Over and out.”

 

“Yeah, kids, we got monsters in the wall, and we’d like it if you keep your mouths shut.”  And given this is a school full of witches, if you don’t keep your mouth shut, they can probably do more than sit you down.  And who wants to take that chance?

Kerry’s cool and wants to get back to what they’re doing, maybe put in another hour of flying because heading to Laputa for another forty-five minutes of R&R.  However, he is flying with That Girl, and while she said one thing, he mind’s somewhere else . . .

 

As they pushed their brooms forward towards The Narrows, Emma reached up, touched her helmet and turned off the comm. “Kerry—”

They slowly rounded The Narrows before Kerry switched off his own comm. “What?”

“That was a gargoyle.”

He nodded slowly. “Yep.”

“Doesn’t it bother—”

He shot concerned look her way. “We’re not suppose to talk about it.”

“We’re not on comms.”

Kerry waited a couple of beats before answering. “You sure?”

Emma didn’t bother answering. She turned her attention back to the route unfolding before them and reactivated her comm—

 

Gargoyles.  I love them.  I used them in Her Demonic Majesty, and the wee beasties are hanging out in the school walls here, too.  And while Kerry might be a tad clueless at times, he’s smart enough to know that just because the comms are off, that doesn’t mean that someone–like, say, Isis, the Goddess of School Security–might still be listening in on a conversation.  So be content that you got to see a gargoyle, Emma, and keep your mouth shut.

The last scene, which I hope to start sometime today, involves the instructors, Isis, and the Headmistress, discussing how someone could get past their defenses and gain entry to the school grounds.  Not everything is as it seems; there are things at play, and they’ll make sense once I have it written out.

At least that’s my hope.

Just like gargoyles, there are things you haven’t seen yet.

Early Morning Lockdown

Interesting morning, it is.  I didn’t have a good time going out last night, which sort of translated into laying in bed for a while wondering if I should get out of bed or not.  Of course, the “Or not” option wasn’t going to happen, because I got stuff to do today–you know, things?  That meant hauling butt out of bed whether I wanted that or not.

Now yesterday was pretty much a non-writing day.  Why?  See stuff/things above and you’ll know why.  Not to mention I went out last night with a few people, and while it was nice to get out of the house, the night ended in tears–literally–and led somewhat to the reason why I was having such a hard time getting out of bed this morning.

(By the way, if you want to know one of the ways to piss me off, always refer to me in the third person when you’re speaking to me.  “So what does Cassidy like to do?  What does Cassidy enjoy?”  Unless you’re writing my biography, use a goddamn “you” when speaking, okay.  Also, knowing a certain percentage of my readers and fans are smart asses, I’m also waiting for the “What does Cassidy–” posts to show up in the comments.  Never let it be said I don’t know what’s coming when I put something out there.)

So what’s a girl to do when faced with this kind of morning.

Write.

Before getting to this post I decided to write the next scene, the one with Isis locked up in her Security Center, preparing to close down The Pentagram.  Isis is very serious about her work, and while some may wonder why Wednesday is there–trust me, that’ll come out in time.  For now she’s just observing . . .

Because I’m in a good mood–now–here’s the entire six hundred words on the nose scene without any edits other than those made during the writing.  So if you see anything that doesn’t make sense, don’t worry:  I’ll fix it later.  But if you’re wondering, this is actually how my first drafts look when I’ve finished, and this particular one took me a little over an hour to write.

 

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

Wednesday sat quietly with her legs crossed, tapping her nails against the work space counter where she sat while watching Isis and her crew finalize their preparations for sealing The Pentagram. Suhaila was checking on the final server connections to let them know if someone from the outside was trying to access their network, and Tamera and Isis were running through the checklist of everything needed to “green the board”, ensuring people were in their proper locations before sealing off the center of the school.

Isis turned away from Tamera’s computer console and motioned the holographic projection of the school before her. She spun it so she had a full overview of the school. “We have everyone on the grid?”

Tamera check something on her display. “Everyone is accounted for. Staff and instructors in violet, students in yellow, and the badguys will show as red.”

Wednesday stretched her legs, keeping her eyes focused on the tops her well worn Doc Martin boots. “If they’re dumb enough to show.”

“I’m expected them to put in an appearance.” Isis slid the display around, seeing the collection of people at the Observatory, at Gwydion Manor and The Witch House, down at the Flight School, and lastly, gathered in the coven towers and a various locations throughout the Great Hall. “Deconstructors are nothing if not predictable.”

Wednesday nodded slowly as she crossed her legs. “Maybe we’ll get lucky this time.”

“You know I don’t believe in luck, Wends.” She turned her gaze up towards the ceiling. “Holly, everything okay in Sanctuary?”

The voice of the third member of the security staff was heard clearly throughout the room. “Door is locked and sealed. The Headmistress is secure.”

“Got it.” Isis turned and addressed the other two women in the Security Center. “Okay, we’re ready to lock this sucker down.” She checked the time in the corner of the holo display. “Seal it up.”

Tamera and Suhaila touched icons on their displays, activating the enchantments designed to shield the whole of The Pentagram from the rest of the school. Isis watch on the holo display as a light blue bubble extended from the outside of the Pentagram walls, rose over the towers, and sealed at a mid-point directly over the Great Hall.

Tamera checked her display. “Pentagram sealed at 07:45:04.”

Isis never took her eyes off the bubble in her display “Let the log show Level Two Security protocols enacted, all ancillary defense groups are in place, and that The Pentagram is sealed.” She turned to Suhaila. “Start the clock.”

Wednesday watched the counter used to determine the amount of time the school spent under “Heightened Security Protocols” begin its count-up. “And so it begins.”

“Yep.” Isis moved the holo display off to one side. “I’m hoping this doesn’t last a long time, but something tells me it’s gonna be at least twelve hours before I stop that clock.”

“That’s a long time to stay locked up in those towers.” Wednesday got up from her chair and stood next to Isis. “Students are gonna get stressed with little to do and only limited snacks coming in from the kitchen every few hours.” She gave her head a slight shake. “They won’t be happy.”

Isis snorted. “They’ll be a hellova lot unhappier if we let the Deconstructors get in here.” She cast a sideways glance at the little witch. “Wanna ask Deanna how much fun that was?”

Wednesday stared up at her taller friend. “No need—” She focused on the same blue bubble Isis was watching. “I remember that shit all too well.”

 

The scene where Isis told the Headmistress she was locking down The Pentagram in twenty minutes ended at 7:25, so when she says twenty minutes, you better know she’s gonna keep her word.

Check my timeline:  I keep to my word, too.

Check my timeline: I keep to my word, too.  This is why I have them . . .

So there we are:  my work here–and my writing–is done.

Should I go shopping?  Hum . . .