Chapter 16

"It's the cutest cloak, Elsie. You have to see it," Ana gushed over her earpiece as she tinkered in her workshop. Her computer suddenly flashed with a notification, and she frowned.

"You could dress that dog in a paper bag, and he'd still be inconceivably adorable," Elsie said.

The line was silent.

"…Ana? Are you still there?" Elsie asked.

"Hm?" Ana responded, focused on the computer screen.

Elsie laughed. "I'll call back later."

"No, wait," Ana exclaimed, her brow knitted with worry. "Sorry, I just… something's wrong with Archie."

"Is he hurt?" Elsie asked anxiously.

"No. But I just got a diagnostics report from him. The second one today. I thought the first one was a fluke." She sighed. "He must have a bad subroutine running. I'm just going to have to do a full workup on him."

"What do the reports say?"

"Lots of stuff. But the one constant is the chemical equations… formulas and compounds… carbon 12, hydrogen 22, oxygen 11. Carbon 6, hydrogen 8, oxygen 7. Ratios of crystalline carbohydrates. Amorphous ones. Carrageenan. Invertase. Theobromine. Individually, these make no sense. But synthesized in certain sequences, it's—"

"Candy?"