Inevitable Setbacks by SnowyPenguin

This would be the big night. Victor was about to make the breakthrough of his life, he knew it. Well, at least it would be the breakthrough of the month, that worked too. But it was going to be big, he knew that much. He had very nearly worked out the exact treatment of the arcane power crystal that would be both the final piece and the lynchpin of his whole creation.

He’d given the project quite a few tries before even getting close to this point, so he’d been at it for a good while by his standards. A wide assortment of his past attempts sat scattered about the room; granted, some of these were of previous projects, but most of them had a hand in the creation of this new device somewhere – a gear from one, an assembly of cogs from another, the logic switches from another, and whatnot. One of these past attempts, the the first truly successful one, was still hooked up to the boiler from a partially-dismantled clockwork automaton. The final version, the one that would receive the crystal as a power source, sat on the table by the wall to Vic’s left.

The device was roughly rectangular, with a footprint of a foot square and about sixteen inches tall, with a small water reservoir in the back. At present, the entire machinery was exposed, as Victor hadn’t yet bothered with the aesthetic details. The business end was the complex array of gadgets protruding from an overhang on the front of the device; there was a rotary attachment and a tube, that much was obvious, but most of the others would be incomprehensible to the layman without seeing the whole thing in action.

The arcane crystal itself, the compact power source that would obviate the need for a bulky coal furnace, stood on end in the middle of an in-progress chalk circle on the floor. Not too long from now, he would have the rest of the circle’s runes figured out, and he would be ready to complete the device.

The lamp-light glinted off Victor’s tinted goggles, which for now were pushed up onto his forehead to better read his alchemy text; he’d gotten it at an estate sale from an old wolf, and it had since become one of his more useful possessions. It was open to one page in particular, the one dealing with charging Essence-reactive crystals to time-release power in response to galvanic stimulation - in short, when it touched the zinc contact, it would heat up the water to power the machine. He first copied down the requisite symbols into his notebook, then turned around and knelt down, painfully whacking his tail into the desk in his rush.

He stopped only for a moment to rub his bruised fluke with one hand before picking up a chalk and meticulously redrawing the runes on the floor. Some time later, the circle was complete, and the floor began to glow a faint blue. Victor lowered his goggles; in the step he was about to do next, the crystals had a significant chance of critical existence failure if the charging was done improperly. A chip in his left lens and a few light grey scars on his face and hands testified to how serious that could be.

Now he stood up and dimmed the lamp, letting the pale glow illuminate the room dimly, giving his black and white skin an otherworldly hue. In his right hand, he held the book near the lamp-light; in his left, he held a beaker with a solution of aqua vitae, unrefined petrium dust, and a few other choice ingredients.

He tipped the beaker slowly, letting an exploratory drop of the solution slowly slide out of the beaker and touch the floor inside the circle. It sizzled on the ground and boiled off; Vic smiled as a faint wisp of smoke trailed from the solution into the crystal. It was working! He tilted the beaker again, ready to pour the whole thing…

A piercing voice rang down the stairs. “Asiavik, dinner’s ready!”

Vic nearly lost his grasp on the beaker as he jumped in surprise. He sighed from his blowhole, dragging a few wayward hairs up in the airstream. “But Motherrrr!” he shouted back, “I’m in the middle of a very important experiment! This could be my big break. Just a few more minutes?”

“It’s getting cold, dear,” his mother replied.

“I’m almost done; start without me, I’ll heat it back up later.”

“But I made tuna; I know that’s your favorite.”

Tuna. That really was tempting. Vic’s resolve wavered, but there in his hand was science (or rather, alchemy, so both science and occultism, but it made no difference; progress was progress). He had to press on. “I really need to get this done while it’s still set up,” he said, more hesitantly than before. “I mean it, I won’t be long.”

Footsteps sounded over the ceiling before the basement door opened, spilling light into the room from the top of the stairs. Vic squinted and shielded his eyes, looking at his mother’s chubby upper half poking in the door. “Asiavik Valas, you get upstairs for dinner. Your father’s waiting for you. And really, why must you keep it so dark down here? You can barely see a thing.”

She shook her head and headed back to the kitchen, leaving the door open.

Victor sighed and set down his equipment, setting his goggles on the table. The worlds’ greatest chocolate milk machine would have to wait until after dinner.

Inevitable Setbacks


5 February 2014 at 01:47:01 MST

It's hard to be a proper mad scientist when you're in your twenties and living in your parents' basement.

Just a vignette I had with my last fursona. His entire life generally consists of being taken about this seriously.

Thumbnail by Ley on FA.

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Literary / Story