Next week, I’ll start telling about the current book I’m writing, The Salty Witch. But I wanted to finish off the celebration of my recent release, Riwenne & the Electrical Prophecy, with a final excerpt.
In today’s excerpt, Illari brings something new to the competition when she invents construction tools that will speed up the building time. She holds a formal press conference to announce her latest creation to the public.
The press conference met outside on the street. A makeshift stage let Illari stand up and address the crowd with a portable sound system that amplified her voice. Instead of her ringmaster’s coat, she had an engineer’s work overalls and a belt full of tools, even though it didn’t look like she was working. Her purple hair was tucked up under a yellow hardhat.
“Thank you for coming today,” she said, pausing and smiling to the journalists in the front. “I know that I’ve taken a long time to think about my contribution to the city, so I’m sorry for keeping you all in suspense. There were logistics that had to be worked out. Science can sometimes take a long time to make forward progress because we like to repeat our results. This week has been full of failed experiments—but I learned from every one of them.”
Illari gestured to the construction lot behind her. “What I want to do, with the permission of Prime Minister Waytamayu, is to speed up the construction of your new exhibition hall. I know that your current schedule means it will be months before this building will be complete. With my new technology, I think I can finish it in a week.”
Everyone gasped. Journalists’ hands shot up with questions.
Illari called on the first speaker.
“When you say you will complete construction in a week, how much do you mean? You’ll finish putting up the structure?”
Illari shook her head. “The whole thing will be done and ready to use. Your trade festival is nine months away, but you could use it for other gatherings before then. And it won’t cause noise and traffic congestion in the middle of your city.” She pointed to the next speaker.
“Does that fulfill the rules of your competition with the other girl? Didn’t you say you would do everything alone?”
The prime minister, who had been standing at the back of the makeshift platform, stepped up and bent to share Illari’s microphone. “Yes, we discussed it and I agree that she’s keeping to the spirit of the competition. Illari came up with the idea and built all the technology herself, as she said. She’ll train our construction workers on how to use everything she made. It’s still her scientific achievement.”
Illari smiled at him. “Thank you, Prime Minister. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without your encouragement and support.” She turned back to the crowd. “It’s the tools that are my contribution. This exhibition hall is just a way to prove how well they work. The nice thing is that once I’ve trained these skilled builders how to use them, they can keep them for more jobs. You’ll see future construction projects completed much faster all around the city.”
The crowd applauded.
“Would you like to see these new tools?” Illari called.
The crowd clapped and cheered even louder.
Illari turned around and pulled a lever at the back of the platform. A gated section of the safety wall slid open on a track and revealed a jumble of heavy machinery. I didn’t understand what all the big tools would do, but I saw things that looked like enormous robotic arms to lift heavy materials.
The crowd kept applauding.
“Don’t forget, I’m only one part of this competition,” Illari said with a sickeningly sweet voice. “I’d like to invite my rival, Riwenne, to come up to the stage and say a few words.”