Chapter 31: Alchemy 101 Monday, Jan 2 2012 

My first class was something of a shocker to me: it was my Grandpa Masterson who’d teach my class, and my kin and classmates from the Zoo Crew! The first thing the girls did, not surprisingly, was yell, “HOTTIES!” at Jack Krieger.

Grandpa was the next to yell, “So, who’s up for some Storm Serum?!”

“Storm Serum? What’s that?” the girls asked.

“It’s a formula in alchemy,” said Grandpa, that lets you create thunderstorms. Now, that’s what I call a good formula!”

“Are there any others?” asked the girls.

“Oh, plenty! There’s formulas that control the forces of nature; that allow you to turn one thing into another; that create things the Dexters tried – and failed miserably, I might add – to do with such things as radium and X-rays; in fact, you can even make formulas that can cause you to live as long as you take them. So, like I said the first time, who’s up for some Storm Serum?”

 

Chapter 30: Teaching Gig Monday, Jan 2 2012 

I’ll never forget the first time I was bit by the teaching bug. The troops loved what I was teaching them, because what I was teaching them, turned into real game-changers in the long run.

I showed up in my traditional Fenwood uniform – complete with the alchemy kit that was to serve, from that day forward, as standard operating equipment for Fernwood Scholastic Academy (the front name for the Fernwood Spacing Academy, until Cory tattled.)

The first thing I showed them, was my Teleforcer. “This device is called a Teleforcer. It projects a beam, or blade, made of electricity focused like a laser. Just think of it as a cross between a lightsaber from Star Wars, and a phaser from Star Trek – that is, in terms of function.”

“This is a Tesla set. It allows for real-time communications, one-way and two-way, as well as for messaging, in both audio and volumetric formats – sort of like a combination radio, phone, volumetric videophone and TV, even email.”

“This is called an induction lamp.  It resonates the electrical fields around it, causing it to glow with this brilliant blue-white light.”

“This is what we like to call a Tesla tube. It takes in ambient energy, of virtually any voltage, transform it into any type of beam or ray you can think of – even transmute matter. In other words, this little number puts Doctor Who’s sonic screwdriver to shame.”

“This is a pocket port. This little baby’s the reason you don’t see us UTC’s – or as some like to call us, ‘Iron Vultures’ – why we don’t carry electronic currency, such as credit or debit cards, or even checks, for that matter. It allows us to teleport small, inanimate objects, such as, for example, the wooden coins you see us using as money. We’ve also scaled this up to telepods, such as in The Fly, only these actually work!”

“And, last but definitely not least, is the alchemy kit, which is what we’ve added to our arsenal just a little while back. This lets us create fromulas that can, or at least, so it seens, make formulas that let us transmute matter, such as turning people into toads, controlling the forces of nature, even creating new products that can do things that would otherwise, even with our current level of technology – and by we, I mean, ‘us UTC’s’ – we can’t do otherwise. However, I’ve yet to learn how this works, so I myself, have to undergo some serious training under my grandfather. Until then, so long!”

Chapter 29: First Christmas Sunday, Dec 25 2011 

I remember it as though it were yesterday. (I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true, in my case.) It was one of two family traditions (the other one being the last one: Thanksgiving). The family traditions for either one of these two events, was to have a potluck dinner (Christmas, in fact, was just Thanksgiving with presents).

I gave each of the girls a Wan Shan deck; Eva gave them a traditional Arab deck (consisting of four suits – Staves, Cups, Coins, and Swords – each consisting of numbers 1-10, Deputy, Viceroy, and King – of course, these are rough translations – and yes, this is the deck on which Tarot is based; however, the Arabs only use it for games, and have no trump cards – those were added later); and David Borisovitch (that is the traditional Russian formal mode of address) gave them each a Makkedan Compromise deck.

“Is a…how you say…mixup…?” he said.

“You mean, an ‘amalgam’?” I politely corrected.

Da,” replied the White in Russian, “an amalgam…of the German and the Russian decks. The Russian way, is the same one you play poker with, only with the cards 2-5 removed. The Germans, such as the Similakrans, play with a deck of four suits: Acorns, Bells, Hearts, and Leaves; these suits are made up of 7-10, Jack, Knight, King, and Ace. So, when they came to Makkedah, to live with us and the Similakrans, we made a little compromise. We began using the German suits, adding a 6; plus also adding a Knight in between the Jack and the Queen. You know, you may just like to add the Makkedan face cards to the Wan Shan suit.”

<<Not a bad idea,>> I replied in Russian.

<<You speak Russian, tovarishch?>> he asked in Russian.

<<Yes,>> I said in Russian. <<I also speak German,>> I then said in German.

My cousin Sam, who was in the Navy, told me, “You speak both languages, Bradley?”

“I speak more languages than I can count,” I told him. “In fact, I’m both a UTC dragoman, and although I’m not in the Army, I was trained by them as a linguist.”

Good!” replied Sam. “We’ve been looking for a man who can train a class of servicemen New Albian customs and traditions, as well as the local languages. Are you in?”

<<Yes!>> I replied in Klingon. <<I’d love to!>>

“Say that again, in English,” Sam said. So I did.

“Good! Consider yourself recruited!”

 

 

Chapter 28: Girls’ New Toys Friday, Dec 23 2011 

That Christmas Eve, there was no one calling us on the Baudot, so I listened to the WirePost and viewed my favorite TeleText channel: Sci-Fi Central. A few minutes in, the TBC came along, and gave me my new wireless.

Well, a few hours later, the girls came in, and asked me, “What the heck is that thing?” pointing to the wireless.

“That’s called a wireless, girls,” I replied.

“Wireless? You mean, like a radio?”

“No, girls. Around here, that’s called a Hertzian, after its original name.”

“Then, what’s a wireless?”

“Short for, ‘wireless Kaleido-Phone. There are both one-way and two-way versions, but basically, it broadcasts a combination of audio and volumetric information. Just think of it as a 3-D TV set.”

“COOL! So, what’s that you’ve got in your hand?”

“It’s called a TeleText. Like the wireless, but broadcasting text only.”

At that point, we were all called in for Christmas dinner, and gifts, by the ladies.

Chapter 27: Alchemy Class Friday, Dec 23 2011 

Down in the Catacombs, we began taking our first lessons in alchemy: me, the girls, and my broadcasting group; with Grandpa Masterson as our professor. The first thing the girls did, was to yell, “GORGEOUS!” at the “boys” – not realizing that Barab was androgynous, Forrest reproduced through spores, and the true forms of the rest would be considered hideous by humans.

Grandpa, as usual, did some yelling of his own: “So, who’s up for some Storm Serum?!”

“Storm Serum?” asked the girls. “What’s that?”

Grandpa simply smiled and said in reply, “Something you mix together, put in the aetherpot to expose to aether, and put in a bottle. When you’re in need of a good rainstorm, all you’ve gotta do, is uncork it and toss it up, and there you go. It’s one of the simplest alchemical formulas.”

“Formulas?”

“In alchemy, you make formulas, each with a different effect – usually elemental, transformation, healing, nature modification – that’s controlling nature, for those of you not in the know – even creating new materials that have their own special effects.”

“Such as…?”

“Transparium, which is a glassy substance that lets you see though whatever’s put under it; and etherium, which people have been trying to substitute with radium, up until they discovered that radium – together with all radioactive materials, was dangerous, even lethal.

“So, as I’ve already asked, who’s up for some Storm Serum?”

Chapter 26: Preparation, Again Wednesday, Dec 21 2011 

We trained day and night for the big battle – and when they said they had huge battle beasts, let me tell you, they weren’t kidding! These bad boys were HUGE! Camarasaurs, brachiosaurs, pterosaurs, you name it! We shared tips on armor and weapons, as well, including the megacannons the Knights Scriptor have been using for almost 2,000 years – thanks to Archimedes – the formula for Greek fire (the ancient equivalent of napalm), even ancient alchemical formulas, explaining that alchemy can produce any transformative, elemental, or nature-based effect imaginable.

In turn, we taught them what little of technology the Similakrans didn’t teach them: the combined works of Philo Farnsworth, Richard Buckminster Fuller, Joe Meigs, Nathan Stubblefield, and definitely Nikola Tesla – including (secretly, of course) space travel and all it entails.

As a result, we learned a lot about the Scriptors’ business and financial acumen, similar to those of their latter-day successors, the Knights Templar. We also learned that they keep vast libraries, full of secret doors and passageways, hidden knowledge, and detailed records of both fact and fiction.

 

Chapter 25: Makkedans and Fernwood Tuesday, Dec 20 2011 

Needless to say, the Makkedans couldn’t wait to help us!

When we went to the House of Burgesses convened that Friday the 13th, it was, ironically enough, the luckiest day ever for the Resistance. The vote was unanimous: FIGHT TO RETRIEVE THE TRILOGY.

“But,” I asked, “the military’s hands are tied! They can’t help us, because the UN won’t let them!”

“So what?” was the response. “That’s just because of the Mandate. According to prophecy, the UN will cease to exist, once the people of Earth discover the wonders of space travel, like you Linghows have – and that will be next year! Then, the will to fight will untie their hands. Besides, our war technologies are superior, thanks to the Franklins and the Similakrans. Plus, we have war beasts that can easily beat a UN vehicle – if for no other reason their sheer size: Mammoths, mastodons, pterosaurs, camarasaurs, and so on!”

And, so it was settled. We had the go-ahead from the House of Burgesses. Now, the only thing standing in our way, was Fernwood and the UTC. That was no problem, either: both were not only willing, but eager, to get the Trilogy back. And I knew for a fact that Trader technology was far superior to anything possessed by either the UN or the Serpentines. Besides, anything relating to the Old Ways of alchemy or aethercraft were nothing, if not impossible, to pass up.

Chapter 24: Cory’s Theft Sunday, Dec 18 2011 

As we were getting this conversation ended, Cory showed up, shouted, like he usually did when he took something, “MINE!” and stole the Trilogy, taking it, as it turned out, to the Serpentine Emperor. When I got up to get them back, Grandma Randolph got up and held me down, saying, “I have a better idea, Bradley!” She then held up a medallion she wore on her neck, and said, “See this Bradley? It’s Great Grandpa Roberts’ Guild Medallion. It contains a circuit that allows for any other medallion on its wavelength to be teleported back – and what’s on the other end, is the Trilogy!”

She touched a panel on the medallion, but instead, what came up was not the Trilogy itself, but the leather straps that held it together! “Well, one things for sure,” mused Grandma Masterson, “Just like you’ve taken up your role as the dreamer, Bradley, Cory’s taken up his, as the Traitor!”

“And that, folks,” said Grandpa Randolph, means we’re gonna have to be on our toes, big time!

We called up the local military base, alerting them to the threat. “Sorry folks,” was their reply, “Ever since the Battle of Shekinah Falls, we’ve been told that, if we ever help the Dreamer, we’d be executed for high treason, by order of the Magisterium itself.” They then promptly hung up.

“What are we going to do now?” I queried.

“Put it this way, Bradley Gingerius Masterson,”said Grandpa Masterson. “The military may have their hands tied, but your friends in the Makkedah Caverns most certainly don’t! Let’s call them!”

And so, we did!

Chapter 23: Grandma’s and Grandpa’s Sunday, Dec 18 2011 

I called a meeting between me and both sets of grandparents, in Grandma and Grandpa Masterson’s dome cabin. My first thought, if I remember it correctly, was “So Fuller did invent these things!” Every detail in the house, except of course, for the less..how do you say it?…built-in conveniences…yes! That’s it!…the cabin was exactly like Bucky’s Dymaxion house. What was that quote from Bill Shakespeare? Oh, yes – “A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.” So true!

When I told them what I discovered, all four were shocked to their very core!

“So Dad was an alchemist?”

“I knew it! A fellow philosopher!”

“You’re an alchemist, too?”

“Yeah, I am! So what the Devil’s wrong with that?”

“It’s been forbidden in the UTC since it was the Linghow League!”

It was then that I decided to speak up – if for no other reason, to figure out just what the Jake Clinton was going on! “Philosopher? I though that was someone who sits around thinking, like Ralph Waldo Emerson! And just why’s alchemy forbidden?”

“First of all,” replied Grandpa Masterson, “a philosopher can mean that, an alchemist, or even a wizard! As to your other question, it was mistakenly thought that alchemy, or any other art or science, that was not clearly understood – and controlled – was witchcraft and sorcery, and was not in keeping with the Judeo-Christian Ethic, Bradley!”

“Judeo-Christian…?”

“…Ethic, Bradley! It means The Holy Bible. And yet, with all the long lists of things the Bible actually forbids, alchemy is never even mentioned or described, much less forbidden! It’s just a lot of superstition and legalism. Moreover, Brad, that was back when the phony-baloney stuff was touted as the good stuff, while the real thing was put down after the former became illegal, when it was found out to be a ripoff! Now, let’s see what’s in these pages, with the help of what you’ve gleaned from these pages!”

Chapter 22: The Winning Hand Thursday, Dec 15 2011 

The following day, I had an encounter with a fellow Ishkewan – full-blooded, unlike me, and we’re generally the ones who are the bearers of messages in the League (and in space), serving roughly the same functions Jews and Gypsies have had on Earth (traditionally speaking, of course – I mean no offense to either group – although we Ishkewan had to put up with roughly the same kind of crap from other races as the other two groups, as the System’s traveling merchants and bankers, and stereotyped as tight-fisted, money-grubbing thieves – even though the Ishkewan Oath forbids that kind of thing! However, I digress) that would change my life forever.

She (this Ishkewan was in female form at the time) stopped me as I was about to walk past her, asking for the traditional two farthings for “fortune-telling.” (This, of course, is the usual cover for sending concealed messages in the League.) So I did, and she took out her Wan Shan deck and dealt a certain hand, which I will not here reveal, for secrecy’s sake. She then said, “I read here some good medicine – for you and New Albion.” This gave me the very, selfsame idea that she intended: that this hand was the one that was to be used to decipher Great Grandpa Roberts’ Trilogy.

So, I wrote down the hand given to me, went to my apartment behind the Baudot calendar at Seamus Seabeen’s, grabbed the Trilogy, unfastened it, took my encryption device, and deciphered away. What I found, startled me – the so-called “Apothecary’s Journal” was actually an Alchemist’s Log!

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