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Chapter 1

Timothy J. Bradley Argosy Press PDF

his mom without getting killed—or worse, grounded with no intermaze access.

A brisk knock at the door startled him. The door opened, and his mom stuck her head in. “Sidney, why are you still in your pajamas? We have to get moving, or—”

She saw the half‑assembled device on his desk. “Is that my new voxpod?!?!”

The doorbell rang and Sidney jumped up, relieved for the escape. “I’ll get it!” He squeezed past his mom and ran for the front door.

“I don’t understand why you can’t just take apart your own things….” his mom sputtered as she collected the voxpod pieces and strode into the bathroom to get ready for work. As he ran for the door, Sid could hear Housemate giving his mom the daily data download as the house’s digital brain set the shower temperature to her liking.

Sidney knew the punishment about to be dropped square on his head was only being postponed for lack of time.

He had a long history of dismantling household appliances, from his nanobot to the autopilot on the hoverboard that was his ninth birthday present. His track record of successfully reassembling these objects was less impressive. But when he saw his mom’s brand‑new voxpod, the idea of cracking open the deep red shell to see how it worked was irresistible.

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Chapter 8

Timothy J. Bradley Argosy Press PDF
Chapter 8

“Hey, Penny!” Sidney said. “Come on over. You have to see how our parasite is doing. At this rate, all the animals’ eyeballs will be infected by...hey, are you all right?”“Fine,” she said listlessly. “Just tired.”“We have to get our presentation ready for theSymposium,” Hari said. “We could use your help with the animations. You’re the only one of us who has any artistic talent.”Penny stared offscreen, frowning. “Okay. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”Sid sat back down at his desk, pushing the pieces of a disassembled antigravity ball out of his way. “Have you noticed that Penny’s been in a weird mood since we got back from the field trip?”Hari nodded, changing the channel on the image wall to display a space probe hanging in the atmosphere ofJupiter. The thick orange clouds rushed past, hypnotizing him. “She took the hornet attack hard. She really liked the bees, and I think she was pretty shocked at the way the bee colony was wiped out. I don’t blame her. It was really intense.” See All Chapters
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Chapter 2

Timothy J. Bradley Argosy Press PDF

give her what she wants, and you won’t have any trouble.

That’s reasonable, isn’t it?”

Sidney looked at her narrowly. “It sounds reasonable, but it doesn’t feel reasonable.” He sighed. She looked tired.

“I hope you didn’t get into trouble or anything at work.”

“Well, pal, it wasn’t great to get called out in the middle of a meeting,” she said as she raised her eyebrows.

“Sorry. Thanks for picking me up.”

“Just promise me you’ll keep a handle on your temper from now on, okay?”

“Okay,” Sid replied ruefully. He felt bad about ruining his mom’s meeting, but he wasn’t sorry for what he had said.

It was all true. As they made their way home, Sidney admired the nanobot bridge. The beams glistened in the sunshine.

Maybe life would be simpler if I just act like a mindless bot and do whatever everyone else does, he thought. The car lowered its wheels to the ground as it left the highway and started threading its way through the neighborhoods that led to the Jamisons’ house. Sid brooded, staring out the window, wishing he never had to see Ms. Dirge again.

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Chapter 4

Timothy J. Bradley Argosy Press PDF

at Bleaker High when the entire class wanted to answer a question. He was so surprised that he still had his hand up after everyone else’s went back down. Dr. Vary was looking right at him, eyebrows raised. “Do you have a question?”

“Um, no…no, sorry. I just…um, no.” Sid could feel the blood warming his cheeks. Usually, you can make it through the first week without everyone thinking you’re some kind of freak, he reminded himself. Be cool.

The girl sitting in front of him turned around in her chair. Sid instantly recognized Penny from his dorm building. She gave him a quick grin before facing forward again.

Sid bristled for a second, expecting a snarky remark, but her smile hadn’t been mocking him. It was just a smile.

Maybe things will be different here, he thought.

Dr. Vary continued his lesson. “Okay, let’s take a look at how mutations have historically been shown in popular culture.” Dr. Vary opened several image windows showing gigantic ants, spiders, and a praying mantis. The huge insects were terrorizing cities. People ran back and forth, screaming wildly toward the camera.

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Chapter 7

Timothy J. Bradley Argosy Press PDF

CHAPTER 7

The next morning, Penny, Hari, and Sidney returned to the microshelter for breakfast. The other students lined the long tables set up for them, eating and chatting about the exciting day to come. Sid wolfed down another protein bar.

Even in his micro state, his appetite was as big as ever. As he ate, he inspected one of the shock prods used to electrocute any bees that got too curious. The mental itch of his curiosity was focused on how the shock prods worked. And the only way to scratch that itch was to take something apart. He cracked open the titanium casing and stared at the inside.

“What’s up?” Hari asked, sitting down with a tray of food.

“Nothing!” Sid replied guiltily, but when he saw the grin on Hari’s face he relaxed. “Habit, I guess. You know, I think I could make these things deliver a really big shock if

I reversed the polarity of these two modules.”

“I hope you disconnected the battery before you started poking around in that thing,” Hari said. “Otherwise, you’ ll be the one getting the really big shock.”

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