The Underground Warmth

The long weekend is nearly over, and for once I haven’t spent nearly twenty hours driving a couple of thousand kilometers to and from The Burg.  Even so, I haven’t written a huge amount, though I suppose a few thousand words in three days time isn’t that bad.  I’ve done better, but there were times when I did far worse.

But now the last scene of Chapter Twenty-One is here, and after an evening and a morning that scene is almost almost eleven hundred words long.  It’s the after math of the previous scene, though it takes play a long time after that scene finishes.  Where are we?  Back in the Midnight Madness–or, I should say, at the end of that Madness . . .

 

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

Kerry calmly opened his eyes as he was shaken back to consciousness. His first thought was Annie was waking him, but in moments he saw she was still laying between him and the back of the sofa. He was about to close his eyes once more when he was shook once more, and this was enough to get him to roll over and begin sitting up. He rubbed his eyes as he looked up. “Hi, Professor.”

Jessica Kishna gingerly set down on the edge of the coffee table. “Morning. I hate to wake you up just to send you off to bed again, but it’s twenty after midnight and we’re shutting down the Madness. You both need to head back to your tower.”

Kerry retrieved his glasses from the side table and slipped them on. “Sure thing, Professor.”

Jessica didn’t seem in a hurry to leave, however. She looked at the blankets that still covered most of the two children. “You guys were under two comforters tonight.”

“Yeah, well . . .” He stretched his shoulders. “We were really cold flying today.”

“I can imagine.” Jessica looked at the still-sleeping Annie. “Did she do well today on her solo?”

“Annie did better than well—” Kerry shifted around so he could smile down on his sleeping soul mate. “She was fantastic.”

 

Jessica being friendly and nice is something that hasn’t come up that much; most of the time when we’ve seen her she’s been in the running for the title of Queen Bitch of Salem, one which has apparently been coveted by Helena for some time.  Then again, Kerry, nor Annie, aren’t just another B Level couple struggling through their spells.  With these two she can afford to let down her armor just a little, particularly when no one else is watching.

Once Jessica is on her way Kerry goes about the task of waking up his soul mate.  And we find out that not only does he know more choise Bulgarian phrases, but Annie is still a tough one to wake:

 

Kerry grabbed Annie’s robe from near their feet and lay it across his lap before leaning close to Annie’s face. “Time to wake up.” He placed a soft kiss on her left cheek. “Sŭbudi se, skŭpa.”

While her eyes remained close, a slight smile began forming upon her face. However, Annie wasn’t quite awake— “Moyata lyubov, spish s men.” She sighed softly. “Nakaraĭ me topli s teb obicham.”

Since Kerry had no idea what Annie had said—he recognized only a few words—but he managed to understand the gist of her mumbling. Still, he knew that Jessica wasn’t one to bend the rules for them as Helena and Erywin had done before, so it was necessary to get Annie back to the towers. “Come on, my lovely girl.” He kissed her again. “Wakey, wakey.”

Annie’s eyes opened enough to see Kerry’s smile face centimeters away from hers. “I love being awoken by your kisses.”

Kerry pulled back a little so Annie wasn’t staring herself cross-eyed. “Well, one day—” He traced her left jaw line. “You’ll get it when you’re not giving them to me.”

“Oh, I can’t wait.” She sat up slowly and stretched. “What time is it?”

 

Needless to see, Annie’s comments are sorta . . . well, let’s just say when Annie is feeling loved, she has love on her mind.  Kerry’s only partially sure of what she said, but you can bet he’s a lot closer in his understanding of her words than someone who doesn’t understand Bulgarian.

They leave the Dining Hall and head back to the tower along a route they don’t normally use.

 

Their departure from the last of the Midnight Madness differed from their past departures. Because the outside wind chill was near minus twenty Celsius, instead of taking the outside route back to Carnunnos Coven, they headed directly to the stairs on the east side of the Rotunda and made their way to the lower levels of the Great Hall. They wound their way through the dimly lit corridors until they came to the tunnel that led to the lower level of the Pentagram Walls and the coven tower.

The entire length of the tunnel was deserted. Kerry expected this: it was a rare occasion when Annie and he shared a walk back to the tower with fellow covenmates. They made they way in silence, Annie pressed against Kerry as they walked, her robe secured tight. They were nearly two-thirds of the way along the passage before she spoke. “It’s been quite the day.”

“That it has.” Kerry released Annie’s hand and wrapped his arm over her shoulder. “Vicky and Isis were really happy about your solo flight.” He kissed her forehead. “Hit all your marks perfectly.”

“I know the next one is going to be tougher—” She sighed and rested her head against Kerry. “But that’s not going to happen for another month, so no point in worrying about it now. How was flight class?”

“Good. Next camping flight is this coming Thursday, and a lot of people nervous.”

“Do you know where you’re camping, my love?” Annie hadn’t given much thought to Kerry’s next overnight flight due to concentrating on her own solo flight.

“Lake Mansfield, up in Vermont. We’ve been told the snowfall is good, so we’ll get to see what it’s like setting up in arctic conditions.”

 

First, the tunnel walk.  By now we have a pretty good idea of what The Pentagram looks like from above:

Here's the walk we all know and love.

Here’s the walk we all know and love.

Right now, however, the wind chill is -20 C, and that’s cold.  Given that they’ve always spend a ton of time out in that sort of cold, they decide to take a slightly warmer route.

They night not get a good view of the sky, but they're not freezing right now.

They night not get a good view of the sky, but they’re not freezing right now.

They can walk straight back to the tower underground, and just like above ground it’s quiet and secluded.  By the way, the tunnel to the right is the one Wednesday flew down when she left The Pentagram to help with with the defense of the school during the Day of the Dead.  That’s the passage that was built to reach the tunnel system heading south, the one that was later excavated to become The Chunnel.

And here we hear of Kerry’s next overnight training flight in perpetration for next year’s Polar Express.  It starts on the last Thursday of the month–31 January, 2013–and has the students returning to the school the next night, 1 February, just in time for the Imbolc feast, and do we remember what happened after the last Imbolc feast?  I sure do, and you can be Helena does, too.

Where is the camp out going this time?  Well, up here:

Just down the road from Stowe--can you imagine these witches on the slopes?

Just down the road from Stowe–can you imagine these witches on the slopes?

In the image above the lake is just below the “Mt. Mansfield State Forest” legend, and given that the lake is fifteen hundred feet, or about four hundred and thirty meters, above sea level, there’s gonna be snow.  And it’s not gonna be that long of a haul to get there–

A lot closer than central Maine, that's for sure.

A lot closer than central Maine, that’s for sure.

Two hundred and seventy kilometers, which means they can get there in a little over an hour.  Assuming it’s not bone-chilling cold that night they leave.  Which it might be.  Maybe that’s what’s making students a little worried?

 

“Why are people nervous?” Given what Kerry told her after the last flight, she had her suspicions about why some students in Advanced Flight One felt nervous.

“Because Vicki’s still pissed about how the last flight went. She told us today that she felt most of the class wasn’t up to speed on being able to navigate using maps and visual references, and told everyone she was gonna grade hard on this flight.” He chuckled darkly. “She pulled Emma and me aside and said we’re not going to fly a single leg this time out, that we proved we know our stuff, and said if she has to turn to us, it’s because everyone else has screwed things up beyond any hope of recovery.”

“That’s what I expected. I’m sure Vicky’s comments were reassuring.”

“To me, yeah, but Emma?” He shook his head. “She keeps screwing up the Fire spell, and she can’t do a Compress spell at all.” The reached the end of the Great Hall tunnel and stopped just before the doorway to the Pentagon Wall passage. “She’s freaking out that she’s not gonna get proficient on either before the last overnight flight, and she’ll scrub out for The Polar Express.”

 

Hummmm . . . I wonder what Annie thinks about the possibility of Emma washing out of The Polar Express, and not being able to spend at least a couple of days and nights alone with Kerry.  I’m sure she’ll say that she knows Kerry won’t do a thing even if Emma does, and that Emma knows she’s gonna have to spend some . . . alone time with Annie . . . should she does something stupid, like hit on Kerry.  Then again, Annie probably has a curse or two she’s ready to lay on Emma just before Team Myfanwy heads off to the wilds of Canada, so it’s likely she has all her bases covered no matter what.

There’s more to come, and I should get to that this afternoon.  After a nap.  And while the zombie fun run is on the telly . . .

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 . . .

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 . . .