Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Novel / Chapter » Science Fiction

Conics Unfortunately: 37

by Ventomology

As soon as Ellipse translated Max’s note for Tejal, he whooped so loud that Focci jerked on the ship’s controls, and the Conics dipped down, brushing a little too close to a massive Un barge. Mouthbot attempted to convert the long glissando into English from Focci’s home language, which did not work well, because apparently long glissandos were used primarily in old-timey courting songs, and the whole situation had Focci clicking in embarrassment.

Ellipse just crossed her arms and sighed, waiting for the noise to end and for Focci to stop fussing over stupid earthlings and stupid ships.

“So, Tejal,” she said, once the cockpit was quiet again. “What exactly did you learn from Max, and why did I have to chase them through a jungle to learn it?”

Tejal looked up, blinked in surprise, and then returned to poking at the metal cube in his hand. “I think folds repel each other,” he said. “Max said that they had a hard time pulling the second fold through the larger one, but you would think that the folds would just float through each other, right?”

“I suppose, yes,” Ellipse said, frowning. “But so what if the folds repel each other? Is that not why they exploded upon contact?”

“Mm, it probably is, yeah,” Tejal replied. He tucked his screwdriver behind his ear and picked a flashlight from the air. “But see, I did a lot of readings on the generators before I started building mine, and apparently one of the biggest problems the specifus faced while building the first prototypes was that folds have a natural flicker rate.”

Ellipse squinted, not sure what that meant. “I do not follow.”

“Uh. So your watch has a crystal in it that vibrates whenever there is a small electrical current running through it. The watch counts those vibrations in order to keep track of time.” Tejal let the flashlight hang mid-air and tried to grab a pair of tweezers. “Folds have a natural kind of vibration too, except that manifests as a flicker, where the fold opens and closes very rapidly.”

“But when we travel through the fold between stations,” Ellipse pointed out. “There is no flicker. Otherwise the ship would be cut, right?”

Tejal nodded. “The specifus design is to put so much energy into forcing the time-space connection that the flicker disappears, which is why we can travel through the fold. And for them, that’s how all folds, regardless of size or purpose, should be, because that’s how they designed the generator.”

“But what can you do with a fold that turns on and off all the time?” Ellipse asked.

This time, Focci answered. He gave a lazy swish of his tail and steered the ship under the belly of an angular ship from Nestor. “Signals travel much faster than people and ships,” he sang, tone clear with disinterest. “It is not hard to program a device to break data so it will only send when the fold flickers open, and just as easy to program the receiving device to put everything back together. In fact, the whole process is similar to encryption and transmission processes already in existence.”

Sometimes Ellipse forgot that Focci was some kind of mastermind programmer. Feeling rather inadequate, she uncrossed her arms and tried to turn a somersault. “So the repulsion between folds means that most likely, whenever a mini-fold nears the big fold, it will only pass through when it flickers off?”

“That’s the hope,” Tejal said.

Wow, that sure sounded like confidence. Quirking an eyebrow, Ellipse reached for the captain’s chair and pulled herself closer to Focci. “I hope you are not planning on testing this anywhere near civilization. If you blow up a fold monitor, there will be serious consequences.”

“Well obviously,” Focci said, snorting. He finally pulled away from the mass of ships gathered around Un Station, and the Conics accelerated into empty space. “Neither Tejal or I really fits the obsessed scientist trope.”

Ellipse thought for a moment. If these two wanted their invention to get off the ground, they would have to test its ability to harmlessly pass through another fold, test its reliability in every cranny of the known universe, test software and hardware, and build the facilities to do those tests. That would be an insane amount of money; no ship hand or bounty hunter could amass so much wealth on their own.

Well, with Elliott Bei on the loose, a bounty hunter could probably get a solid start. Good thing she had Tejal under control for the time being.

“You would need some very extensive investment in order to get everything running,” Ellipse said carefully, watching as Tejal prodded around the inside of the miniature generator box.

Neither boy responded.

“And you would have a hard time getting help. Spec Corp has been discouraging tech investment for decades.”

“What Spec Corp does is blackmail,” Focci said. “I am sure there is a way to work around it.”

Yes, threatening to dismantle a fold monitor was blackmail, but it was pretty powerful blackmail. “I just think you would both be better suited giving this up. How far can you really get?”

With a swoosh of his free hand, Tejal gathered his tools and shoved them into a pocket of his new cargo shorts. He tossed his magnet at Focci’s chair and reeled himself in. “I like how you discourage me and Focci but still help us find the Impending survivors.”

Focci twisted around and shot Ellipse a sharp-toothed smirk.

“Can it, Fishy,” she sang.

“Well,” Tejal said, continuing their earlier line of conversation, “if you know all these roadblocks, then maybe you know a way to counter them. How would Focci and I get the money for our generators?”

The answer came too easily. Watching as the stars passed slowly out of view, Ellipse considered how much knowledge she ought to demonstrate. “Start by proving that you can communicate between galaxies, and create an add-on device to attach your generator to existing technology.”

Tejal nodded, and Focci gave a pointed flick of his tailfin to show he was listening.

“Those will be enough to entice more adventurous investors. If you want the big money, try to line up a coalition of investors from groups around the universe interested in breaking Spec Corp’s stranglehold on the fold generation industry.”

The boys were quiet, for once, and when Ellipse glanced at them, she found Focci wearing a stern frown and Tejal with an awed, open face.

“Finally, I suggest you rebrand your invention. The Impending never blew up the press, but people interested in tech investment will have heard of it. You should try a name other than miniature fold generator.” Ellipse let go of the captain’s chair and floated, cupping her chin with one hand. “Distance yourself from Spec Corp.”

“Oh.” Tejal said, sounding very intelligent.

Focci steered the ship above a large hunk of metal, likely leftover from an old gas mining operation. “Can we manage that before we return to earth to pick up our crews?” His gills fluttered, betraying nervousness.

Oh, probably not. Biting her lip, Ellipse debated with herself on how to answer.

Before she could open her mouth again, Tejal cut her off. “Hey, can you check the date on that email you received while we were on Un Station?”

“Sure?” She raised her watch and tapped on the screen a few times until her inbox popped up. Covertly, she glanced at Tejal to make sure he was not reading over her shoulder, and then tapped the email.

It was from a Randi Abe, sent almost exactly five hours ago, about when she had noticed the ‘new email’ notification. Ellipse blinked a few times and squinted at the tiny watch screen. She must have misread. “It says five hours ago?” she told Tejal. “That is impossible. The send and receive dates are the same, and it takes at least a day for messages to hop from station to-”

Tejal grabbed Ellipse’s wrist and looked for himself, eyes wide in wonder. “From Randi Abe to Ellie Tibot,” he read, voice low, as if he could not believe what he was seeing. “Sent at thirteen-oh-seven today and received at thirteen-oh-eight. You said your private email is on a Titan server?”

“Uh, yeah, what-

Suddenly Tejal was shaking Focci’s shoulders, a sun-bright smile on his face, cheeks glowing red with excitement. “Focci!” he cried. “We did it! It works! Ellipse got an email from Titan while we were in Un! Isn’t that super awesome?”

A few moments later, after Mouthbot finished translating, the Conics burst forward, and Focci let loose a joyous arpeggio of victory calls. He burst from the captain’s chair, tumbling over to squeeze Tejal and Ellipse in an uncomfortably tight hug, and then shoved Ellipse into the pilot’s seat. “You fly,” he sang, notes shrill with giddiness. “Tejal and I are going to work.”

“I still can’t believe it works!” Tejal shouted, and he hugged Focci again. “Now we just have to make sure it’s consistent, right?”

“Yes,” Focci sang. “We should make some final adjustments to the coding and hardware. We might be able to prove the generator works before we part ways.”

“Yeah!” Tejal agreed, nodding so quickly that his hair looked like a headbanging rock star's. “And then we could still talk to investors separately. I wonder how much more efficient I can get the setup to be.”

“I will start on another round of debugging.”

Tejal let out another whoop, and Ellipse felt him push off the back of her chair to head out of the cockpit. “Maybe I’ll start on a wiring system to hook the device directly to my tablet,” he muttered, voice fading as he drew farther away.

Focci followed after, trilling a happy siren poem, and suddenly Ellipse was alone in the dark cockpit, with only the stars and dashboard lights to keep her company. She scanned the space ahead for debri, decided the path was safe, and looked down at her watch again.

This Randi Abe wanted to know what had happened to her job on the earthling fold monitor. They had bought someone off in order for that position to open up at exactly the right time, so why, exactly, had she shown her face on Hub Titan, all too close to the life she needed to avoid?

Ellipse was not sure where the feeling came from, but she wanted to punch something. She knew what her role was, and she had not compromised it, and anyone who complained about her popping up at different spots around the universe could go jump into a black hole. Gritting her teeth, she closed her inbox and returned her watch to the default Titan time setting. She gunned the engines and glared at the passing stars, wishing the boys had stayed in the cockpit to work.

Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.

Is this a review?



User avatar
760 Reviews

Points: 31396
Reviews: 760

Sat Dec 30, 2017 6:45 pm
ExOmelas wrote a review...

Heyyyy again,


Sometimes Ellipse forgot that Focci was some kind of mastermind programmer.

Really? The fact that Focci is clever with computers seems to be something that comes up a lot. Y'know, the whole Focci/Tejal science bros thing...

“Well obviously,” Focci said, snorting. He finally pulled away from the mass of ships gathered around Un Station, and the Conics accelerated into empty space. “Neither Tejal or I really fits the obsessed scientist trope.”

Is that meant to be ironic? Didn't Tejal put some fold generators where Ellipse would rather he didn't a couple of chapters ago? And what was it Focci did a while back... Like, implement a whole other operating system or something?

“Well,” Tejal said, continuing their earlier line of conversation,

You don't really need "earlier" here. Like, it was just there, not yesterday afternoon.

“Uh, yeah, what-

Even though she gets cut off there should still be speech marks at the end there.


Only problem I have with this chapter is that the bit at the end happened awfully fast. I was in chapter-winding-down mode so I didn't really realise the significance of the email at first, which meant that it just sort of... it had the wrong tone, if you know what I mean. Either expand that or keep it short and snappy like a jolting cliffhanger, I think.

I really like how happy Focci and Tejal are here - they deserve this! And you balanced the science better this chapter. I was able to follow what was going on without necessarily following how it was actually working. So good job there too :)

As much as I think the structure at the end was a little odd, I am intrigued by the content, and whether that will become a problem. I'm also wondering what's going on... Are they going to betray Ellipse and hand her over to the bounty hunters who think she's Elliott Bei? Is she going to hand herself over for them? I'm really getting engaged in this, just in the way I would with a published book. I can't overemphasise how awesome that is ^.^

Hope this helps,
Biscuits :)

User avatar
299 Reviews

Points: 24185
Reviews: 299

Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:57 pm
TheSilverFox wrote a review...

"If you blow up a fold monitor, there will be serious consequences.”

That's the understatement of the year. :P

So yeah, let's get a couple things out of the way:

Mouthbot attempted to convert the long glissando into English from Focci’s home language, which did not work well, because apparently long glissandos were used primarily in old-timey courting songs, and the whole situation had Focci clicking in embarrassment.

Focci isn't described as shouting or making any noise, but Tejal is, so I'm wondering if this makes more sense if the translation went the other way around? It's still funny either way, in a schadenfreude sense.

“Neither Tejal or I really fits the obsessed scientist trope.”

I think "fit" fits (get it?) better here.

Moving past the minutiae, this chapter is full of plotting and plot twists and plot revelations, and I'm very happy with the result. You capture the entrepreneur experience decently, as nothing so charms investors like demonstrating the capabilities of a product. Ellipse does not describe, however, the greatest challenge. With or without the deadline of meeting up with the other crews and separating, Tejal and Focci would spend forever finding investors across the galaxy who can't be bribed, threatened, or killed. I mean, I imagine that Spec Corp's strict monopolization of fold generator tech makes them a little touchy about the prospect of rivals, and they're clearly not on the moral side. Hence, Tejal and Focci might struggle to find backing, and Spec Corp is certainly not going to donate their time and resources to an effective, but dangerous system orchestrated by two non-specifus. We can already see that in the future chapters, when they do try to advertise the miniature fold generator.

Perhaps it is for the better, though, that she doesn't. Whether she likes it or not, it's a vital invention, and the two being deprived of hope, thanks to all the negative possibilities, could assure Spec Corp's dominance. Hence, she may as well give them some questions (and reasonable answers), and let them relish in one awesome victory (I loved reading that part, by the way; it was a nice-call back to the miniature fold generator in Titan, and Tejal's enthusiasm is always fun to read). Besides, it looks like she has some problems of her own. The end of this chapter is where all your hints about secret bases and people start to come together, as you subtly suggest Ellipse is working for a group with some kind of an ulterior motive. I'm now even less convinced in her innocence than I was before. At the same time, it's hard for me to distrust her cause, since Andra-Media is as dangerous and violent as Spec Corp. The ends will justify the means (and I doubt she has/will step into anything especially unethical), I believe, though she's done a lot of damage in running into Andra, as Randi rightfully points out. Hopefully she can clean up that mess, but that'll be hard - Andra's no fool. It also doesn't help that Tejal could still think of turning her in, as much of a diminishing possibility as that is, to hold his start-up together. Honestly, she shouldn't have let him look at the watch, because I fear he might question why the name "Ellie" appears, even if she can try to justify it as a short version of Ellipse.

All in all, this is a fantastic chapter. It's thought-provoking, exciting, and well-written. You touch on the miniature fold generator and Ellipse's true identity plot in call-backs and smooth transitions, and it proved a wonderful read. Well done; I eagerly await the next chapter!

Ventomology says...

God I want to spoil some things for you. I won't though, because then when I reveal it you'll feel silly and I'll be very smug.

Thanks for pointing out the bribery thing. I actually hadn't thought about that.

I promise I'm getting to reviews. It just has to wait until after my other midterm tomorrow.

User avatar
364 Reviews

Points: 15980
Reviews: 364

Wed Nov 01, 2017 4:32 pm
zaminami wrote a review...

Hello, Ventomology! It’s Kara here for a (hopefully) quick review!

Give me your soul.

With that aside...

STOP! Grammar time!

I'm just going to mark the ones I can with red because I'm too lazy to write explanations.

“Oh,” Tejal said, sounding very intelligent.


No suggestions. This is great.

Confusing things:

Tejal agreed, nodding so quickly that his hair looked like a headbanging rock star's.

To headbang, you need to completely flip your head.

Also, this entire chapter was pretty confusing. However, I think that is a good thing. That'll prevent any of the cheaters (the people who read the end before the beginning >:( ) from understanding what is going on. Good job.

Other comments, reactions, and fangirling:

No other comments, reactions, and fangirling.


Overall, I liked it, but it was kind of confusing. However, as I had mentioned, it is a good thing :D great job and keep up the great work!

Give me your soul --



This review courtesy of

Ventomology says...

Hey sorry I never got back to you! I must have looked over it the last time checked my notifications.

Thanks for the review!

zaminami says...

yo welcome :P

it's ok, death by laughter was always how i've wanted to go out
— Carina