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?

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13 Responses to “Chapter 11: The Parent Trap – part 2”

  1. roboducky February 2, 2010 at 1:12 am #

    in your own interests, i highly recommend cutting down to one update a week instead of going on hiatus. of course i’d be distressed and miss slb if it went on hiatus, but other web-authors have found their readership drop off sharply after going on hiatus. it seems better to have regular updates less frequently than to go on hiatus and have people forget to stop by.

    best of luck with the novel and novella. congrats on all the writing!

    • nancy February 2, 2010 at 10:47 am #

      Thanks! Right now it’s looking like once per week updates.

      If you don’t mind me asking, what other web serials do you read?

  2. Callum February 2, 2010 at 4:18 am #

    Third para down “Samuels and the others knew better than to say such things *allowed*” should be ‘out loud’

    Apart from that thanks for another really great episode. Take as much of a break as you need…and sorry that the voting isn’t really very helpful 😉

    • nancy February 2, 2010 at 10:48 am #

      Thanks for catching the typo and your kind words, Callum! Glad you enjoyed the post. I’ll be sure to take a break somehow to keep SLB up to snuff. :)

  3. Albie February 2, 2010 at 6:55 am #

    Samuels and the others knew better than to say such things allowed

    wrong allowed – it should be aloud

    one of your friendly grammar nazis

    • nancy February 2, 2010 at 10:50 am #

      Thanks, Albie. That’s an unusual typo for me to make. I’m quite visual. Anyhoo, fixed now!

  4. Heidi February 2, 2010 at 8:38 am #

    Do what you think is best Nancy. Good luck with your novel and novella. ^.^

    I must say I’m extremely curious about what that alien technology does. I bet I know who Ashlynn is gonna test them on though!

    • nancy February 2, 2010 at 10:52 am #

      Thanks muchly, Heidi. Either the hiatus or a less frequent posting schedule will do the trick, I think.

      As for what the bands do, I’ll tell you this much: cause a lot of angst. Heh heh hee. :)

  5. Alexandra February 2, 2010 at 9:07 am #

    Another grammar nazi thing: “He looked up from work table” – probably needs a “the” after from, right?

    I’m so excited for your abundance of writing, Nancy!

    • nancy February 2, 2010 at 10:53 am #

      Quite right, Lexie. Thanks for giving me the heads up! Fixed.

      Thanks for your enthusiasm. I’m beginning to think this abundance of writing is a little nutty, but I’ll get through it. :)

  6. Alexandra February 2, 2010 at 9:08 am #

    p.s. I’m curious where they got pieces of alien wire?

    • nancy February 2, 2010 at 10:54 am #

      Jake made the bands, much like Shane made a second prism. In this case, they’re a exotic copper isotope. Jake started with “regular” copper and added neutrons. (Now I need to find a place to add that detail in an upcoming post!)

  7. daymon February 2, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    I wonder what the copper bands to, everything has to do something. Or it wouldn’t be that special, maybe a better power conductor.

    Oh noo… not the dredded H word…

    Joking aside once a week should be good, try not to work to hard and good luck on your novella.

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