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[Fiction] Alchemist - Frustrations


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(for canon consideration)

The chalkboard was ancient long before it had become obsolete. Alchemist had still insisted that it be in his lab because of all the history it represented. In the lower right-hand corner, a small tag read “Property of the Metallurgy Lab, U. of Chicago”. This was a link to the heroes of Alchemist’s past. He could imagine Fermi, Lazard, or even Oppenheimer scribbling away on this old piece of slate. Here, some of the greatest minds of the mid-twentieth century had changed the course of human development. Here, Alchemist stood with the ghosts of equals, so he kept it and worked here whenever he could.

Alchemist stared at the hundreds of notations and formulas scrawled across the board. Only a handful of non-novas would have understood they represented the various chemical processes that the body went through as it healed itself. As its environment sought to stop it, the body came up with an arsenal of ways to keep itself going and Alchemist knew the all. The key ones were laid out here before him as he struggled to unify them into one series of compounds that could greatly aid that process.

And he stared.

Everything came down to the point uniting the formulas and then there was this gap. Though it was only few millimeters on the board, it stood for a bridgeless gulf in understanding. On the other side stood the formula Alchemist knew … KNEW … was correct.

And in between was … nothing.

A tear of frustration rolled down Alchemist’s streak. He walked over to the table and picked up two of the compounds he had already worked on. He looked at them, and that meant he really looked at them … at the threads of their existence, as the molecules linked, met, and bonded. It was really good work for him. It was a qualitative leap in healing and he knew it. It was good science. It was replicable, useful, and actually cost-efficient to make … and it wasn’t enough for him.

It was good science.

He looked down at the compounds.

Another tear of frustration rolled down his cheek. He knew what the end product was supposed to be. He had created it. He knew it worked. He knew it was far better than his preliminary efforts. He knew.

He reached out and shaped the existing compounds into the proper sequence. He watched the atoms shift as they danced to his instincts. He saw them move to his quantum nudge … and it was. It was what it was supposed to be.

Now, all he needed was about half-dozen nuclear reactors, a null-gravity chamber, and a particle accelerator for baselines to be able to reproduce what he had done, to be able to replicate his achievements and commercially produce this compound in his hands.

He closed his hand and stared up at the board. In that gap … that gulf, there was the dust of a dozen attempts at explanations. Angrily, he grabbed up a piece of chalk and scribbled the most ancient cop-out in science … ‘God happens’. He stared at it then scrubbed it with the side of his hand. He replaced it with ‘Alchemy happens’ then ‘Alchemist happens’, but the jests felt hollow.

He stared down at the piece of chalk. He knew ten ways to improve it. He could make it stick better, last longer, and cause less dust. Just like that and he could revolutionize the whole chalk industry. Too bad there wasn’t much of a chalk industry to revolutionize any more.

He looked back up at the board’s latest addition. Again it changed.

Now it read, ‘Novas happen’ and he shook with the helplessness within him. What was the point of having all this intellect … all this understanding of the world, and the science behind it, if it couldn’t be applied now?

Sure, he could create whatever compounds were needed on the spot and save any one life, but …

It wasn’t enough. Not for the scientist who wanted that better tomorrow for everyone. Not for someone who believed that was the proper place for scientific exploration, to make lives more fulfilling, less haunted by fear and superstition, and a boon to all.

All this knowledge about what ‘should be’ and here he was limited by his own ability to create the impossible … or so it seemed.

His hand shook with impotent rage.

Behind him, the imitation skyscape went from mid-afternoon to sunset, but nothing came to him, nothing but more frustration.

April Rice appeared at the door.

“Glenn, some of the gang is heading out for dinner. Whana come?”

Alchemist’s head popped around snapped out of this hopeless loop.

He looked over at the board then back to the young lady at the door. Glenn “The Alchemist” Roberts nodded to himself, put down the chalk and turned toward the door. Saving the rest of humanity would have to wait a little bit. There was a bit of humanity that needed saving right here at home. He walked over to the other nova and cut off the lights to the lab.

“Sure thing, April. Let’s go. I know the best way to make the perfect chili-cheese dog.”

April rolled her eyes in the timeless way of the younger humoring elder.

“Uh-huh,” she smiled and nodded.

“You see, it involves …”

And April smiled, kept nodding, and the two of them headed out to join the others.

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