As soon as the school day was over, Astrid was back in her lab in the R&D building, this time having made the trip there with Toulson via the monorail. After checking on her ceramic mixtures, she entered the most promising compound into her digital tablet, and then used the device to call the floor manager at manufacturing facility three.
“Hello Astrid,” said the manager, her face appearing on the tablet screen.
“Hello Mrs. Trent,” said Astrid. “I need some component parts. Do you have any available man-hours and do you still have the virtual dies for the hoverdisk?”
“Yes, the dies are still right here in the computer. As for the hours, it depends on how many copies you need. You didn’t ask, but we’ve got plenty of aluminum on hand.”
“I don’t want aluminum or titanium,” said Astrid. “That’s why I called you instead of building one or two.”
“Ceramic?” asked Mrs. Trent.
“Right. I’m sending you a formula right now. I’d like you to use it for all the component parts except the housing. We’ll stay with aluminum for that. And I want all the parts reduced in size by twenty percent.”
“We can do that of course, but will you get enough lift?”
“I think we will,” said Astrid. “Between reducing the weight and the friction with this new ceramic and increasing the power with my new batteries, we should be fine.”
“How many sets would you like?”
“I imagine that it will be just as easy to make ten as it will to make one,” said Astrid.
“With this equipment, a single run will be twenty-five,” replied Mrs. Trent.
“Then give me a full run—twenty-five sets,” said Astrid. “How soon can you have them done?”
“I can run them tonight. They can be assembled and delivered to you tomorrow afternoon.”
“Excellent,” said Astrid. “Thanks.”
Once she had ended the call, Astrid went to work installing the gyros and control mechanisms in the hoverbike prototype. She was still hard at work when Toulson appeared at her side.
“It’s time to start home,” he said.
“Alright,” said Astrid. “I can’t really do anything else anyway until I get the hoverdisks.”
As they took the monorail home, Toulson offered her a compromise on the issue of security.
“I’ll take you and your friends to the train station in the van,” he suggested. “You can ride the train the rest of the way. But I will also pick you up from the station to bring you home.”
“I suppose that will be acceptable,” said Astrid.
Mrs. Maxxim was not nearly so agreeable.
“You should be punished for what you did this morning, Astrid, not rewarded.”
“There’s no point in getting too upset,” said Dr. Maxxim. “All’s well that ends well.”
His wife shot him an evil look.
“Why are we so upset?” he continued. “She snuck out of the house to go to school. How many fourteen-year-olds do that?”