Swamped Chapter 61 Page 3

“You know, it seems to me you’re overlooking a rather simple explanation,” you say calmly. “Maybe Eighth’s not working on his project any more because he finished it.”

“He’d tell me if it was. You’ll recall I was helping him with it. Hells, I’d be expecting him to run around telling the whole base he was done, and everyone would be shocked to see him in a good mood for once.”

Hesitation on he’d tell me. She’s worried he wouldn’t. But… you can’t quite work out why.

Maybe it would help if Eighth had told you what the damn thing was. All he said was that it could help with the plan. Not that it’ll amount to much if you can’t persuade Penelope to help.

Hmm. Well, she knows what it is, doesn’t she. Since she looked over the plans. But Tom swore her to secrecy… what if she told Ash? Would she be worried Tom would find out and wouldn’t trust her any more?

If she trusts Eighth more than Ash, you’ve got a way better chance of persuading her. You’ll have to work that out.

“Ah, I see. I suppose you’d have a better idea of his progress than most. He wouldn’t give me any details about it, so I kind of wondered if he was finished and just being aloof. But I suppose you’d know him better.”

“I’d have a better idea than anyone outside of him,” she insists fervently. “Tom made me promise not to tell anyone what I was seeing in his notes, and I took that very seriously.”

She’s not lying. But that’s not the same as “I didn’t tell anyone”, is it.

“Well. You’ll have a harder time of that once Tom Sixth gets back on his feet and finds out you know something,” you laugh. “Hope you’re ready for him, he might be tricky if you haven’t had much of a challenge in keeping it secret before.”

You hope that gives you an informative reaction.

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She seems confident she can’t be tricked out the info…but that isn’t the same as not sharing it willingly.

Maybe that means you can convince her to help if you know what her treasure is, what does she really value?

Author’s Note:

When a story gets to a certain size, readers like to develop theories about it, building off the information provided. In a story that’s heavily driven by reader input, as this one is, those theories can work their way into suggestions.

As the author, I always have to balance keeping the story where I want it with making use of what people are giving me. So, if a theory gets advanced in a suggestion, I might use it and incorporate parts of the theory into the story; or I might decide it’s counter to something that I’m aiming to do, and leave out the theory. Even when I do this, I still try to use the suggestion as best I can.

In this case, I had a suggestion that was built on a theory that Tom Eighth’s invention was something he was doing for Ash. This wasn’t what I had in mind at all – I had already decided the invention was something he was building for his own reasons, and Ash used his interest in it to recruit him. Offering to get parts and tools for him, and maybe keep him from getting into too much trouble for making noise.

For the purposes of making an update, though, the invention was a good subject of discussion, so I used “the invention might be complete” as a way to continue the conversation.