Digging Deeper

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"Why is this taking you so long?"

Hiro winced at Robert's loud growl as it echoed in the large lab. He continued screwing a bolt into one of the pieces of the portal, wiping his forehead with a sigh.

"I told you," he said, choosing his words carefully. "I didn't exactly learn about this in high school. I'm learning as I go."

"I chose you because of your ability to create without reading it from a textbook," Robert hissed, circling around Hiro with his microbots. "What I saw at that showcase was caught, not taught."

"I—I know, but I can't—"

"The Krei Tech opening is tomorrow," Robert spat, leaning over and looming inches from Hiro's face. "This has to be done before then."

"T—Tomorrow?" Hiro swallowed thickly, snapping his head up to Robert and fighting through the wave of pain that followed. "There's—there's no way, I'm only down with half of the first one, and I—"

"That wasn't an option, that was a command."

With that, Robert lifted himself up and slithered out of the lab, the locking of the large door echoing throughout the large room. Hiro's heart raced, and he simply stared at the piece of the portal in front of him, shaking his head.

"I can't," he whispered under his breath, fighting the wave of tears that threatened to flow. "I can't do this, I can't do this..."

He dropped the wrench he held in his hand and brought his knees to his chest, resting his head and wincing as his aching body bounced with every soft cry that escaped his lips. He hadn't really had the chance to allow his emotions to fully catch up to him, and the feeling quickly  became overwhelming as he took a deep breath and wiped the tears from his face.

He stared at the piece in front of him blankly. It was almost finished, and it would only take him an hour or two to finish the last pieces but then he had another portal to finish. The stress kept coming in waves at the reminder until something clicked inside of him and he found himself sitting up on his knees, his gaze darting back and forth between the portals.

Technically, did the other portal even need to work or be built at all? And regarding the first portal...what if it didn't have to be a portal?     What if he programmed it to act as more of a large magnet? Even though the functioning version of the portal was technically already a large magnet, what if he built it to only attract the metal he used to make his microbots?

Hiro scrambled for his notepad and pencil and you could practically hear the gears in his head turning as he scribbled his thoughts onto it. If he built the portal to attract microbots, he could still make it seem like a portal if he programmed each piece to communicate with one another properly.

And that way, when Robert finally left for the Krei Tech opening, Hiro could make more microbots and develop a neurotransmitter from the leftover equipment of the second portal that he wouldn't need to build. The teen jumped to his feet and swallowed down the immense pain that followed, and for the first time he felt hopeful as he continued scribbling onto his notepad and walking to the 3D printer.

"I might be going home," he whispered under his breath, a small yet hopeful grin reaching his face.

.   .    .

"Looking in the wrong place..."

Tadashi bit the end of a pencil as he paced back and forth in the garage, his eyes never trailing away from the bulletin board he had hanging on the wall. He studied every piece of information carefully, as if one of the pieces of the puzzle would jump out and shout "I'm right here!"

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