Chapter 11: The Parent Trap – part 2
Jake’s mind bumped Ashlynn’s, breaking her concentration. Ashlynn! Stop ignoring me.
With a frustrated sigh Ashlynn tore her attention away from the image on the computer monitor. Go away, brat. I’m busy. She was a few hours away from deciphering the Nithteppish inscription that had Dr. Samuels and Mum stumped. Thumbing her nose at those who considered her “that pampered brat princess” would be most satisfying.
Samuels and the others knew better than to say such things aloud, but Ashlynn heard those thoughts and more. She and Jake may have been Triptych’s darlings, but Mum had taught them to keep the extent of their abilities close to the vest. Let the Chairmen think they’d be able to play her and Jake off each other. Ashlynn and Jake had other plans.
You’ll have it figured out soon enough, Jake whined. You really, really want to see this.
Frustration gave way to curiosity. What is it, Jakey?
Jake’s enthusiasm was infectious. Not telling. You have to come see it.
Now she was thoroughly distracted, and the brat had likely done it on purpose. Ashlynn sent him the telepathic equivalent of a smack upside the head, which prompted laughter instead of annoyance. Coming, you little pissant. This better be good.
After locking down her work, Ashlynn left Dr. Samuels’ lab and headed for Jake’s lab in the lower level. Technically it was their lab. Her father had presented it to Ashlynn years ago to encourage her to broaden her skills. Before long Jake was escaping his nannies to follow her around. Eventually she stopped trying to keep him out–especially after he was old enough to be helpful–and the lab became a shared commodity. Jake spent more time there than she did now.
Well? Jake demanded.
I’m on my way.
Via Mt. Everest? Teleport already!
That got her attention. Something big was going on for Jake to be that impatient. Ashlynn teleported, disappearing from the hallway in mid-stride and reappearing in the lab. Although the storage-space-turned-lab lacked the high-tech elegance of her mother’s or Shane’s labs, it was adequate for her and Jacob’s work.
Ashlynn glanced around the narrow, utilitarian room, mildly surprised that her brother wasn’t in sight. She strode to the shelf-lined concrete wall at the far end of the room and walked through it. If Jake had used one of the magical illusions she’d stored for him, this really was a big deal.
On the other side of the illusion was another 10 feet of lab and Jake, who already matched Ashlynn’s height. He looked up from the worktable, grinning. ”Took you long enough.” Then he nodded at the pair of copper bands on the tabletop. “Take a look at this.”
Ashlynn stepped up to the bench, peered at the strips of metal, and shrugged. “You made another set. So?”
If Jake’s smile got any bigger it would break his face. “I figured out the problem. These are ready. All you have to do is activate them.”
Ashlynn’s jaw dropped. They’d been working on replicas for a year by reverse engineering the originals. She squealed and reached over the workbench to hug Jake. My baby brother is a genius!
He accepted the hug for ten seconds before ducking away. Yeah, well, we already knew that.
“Why do you need me to activate them?”
Jake’s face flamed. “I, um, figured it out a few days ago and then I tried to activate them and I kinda overdid it.”
If he hadn’t been so chagrined, Ashlynn would have given him a good teasing. The fact that he’d gotten past their last hurdle earned him a pass for the afternoon. “That’s all right.”
She picked up the nearer of the curved copper bands and studied it, probing with mental fingers. They both knew the pathways well, even if they didn’t understand exactly how the psychic/electronic interface worked. Ashlynn flipped the microscopic switches in the correct order. A brief pulse of energy indicated success.
Once she’d activated the second one, they congratulated each other again and beamed at the copper bands. They’d replicated alien technology from scratch. But now what? They certainly weren’t going to share them with Triptych. Not yet, anyway.
Jacob idly slid one of the bands along the tabletop. “We can’t consider it a completed project until they’ve been tested. How’re we going to get test subjects?”
The corners of her mouth turned up in a sly smile. “Leave that to me.”
I’ve got good news and bad news, guys. The good news is that I’m working on a novel and a novella. Both will be finished by the summer and published online.
The bad news is that I’m getting overwhelmed. I’m considering either a hiatus or less frequent SLB posts. If the latter, the weekly post will be at least 1,200 words (twice as long as usual). What say you?