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The Crucible Study [Military Base #34]

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The sun shone down on the square where soldiers gathered for training. The shout of commands and rhythmic march of booted feet were constant background sounds that accompanied Delistair as he walked between the buildings in the military base towards the labs.

He had arranged with Cadmium to meet here today, and they were to spend the next week together researching possibilities to combine his abjuration magic with Cadmium’s metal-bending ability. The first time he met the young officer was at the military celebrations, and he even performed a number with him onstage.

At the memory of that, Delistair smiled. It had seemed ages ago. The battle of Last Chance that happened shortly afterward was all that occupied his mind recently. He had been lucky to escape with his life, and even now, physical activities that were too strenuous still eluded him. The jailbreak and escape of Reginald - the wormman - still weighed heavily on his mind. It wasn’t that easy to shrug off his self-blame, despite the reassurances people around him tried to give. Nevertheless, he didn’t intend to mope around forever. Perhaps this work was just the thing that would motivate him back on track again.

He pushed open the door and turned on the lights. He was the first to arrive, but that wasn’t a surprise. Cadmium must be a busy man, and all Delistair had been assigned to recently were non-time-sensitive daily grind within Communications. His promotion to First Lieutenant (undeserved in his opinion) came with new responsibilities, but he knew that they were holding back from giving him the more challenging tasks. Hopefully he would get something out of this research, enough to convince the higher ranking officers that he was ready to resume normal duties.

Delistair looked around the lab. There were various equipment, some he was familiar with, most he wasn’t, and a large white table in the middle. What he did recognize though, was a shielding screen that stabilized magic and prevented the spread of damage should something go awry. Something that they should probably set up before they started their experimentation.


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Setting: https://www.valucre.com/topic/37713-military-base-34/

It was sort of an open secret that the higher up you managed to make it on the hierarchy ladder, the more the rungs in your hands turned into the handles of rubber stamps, and beneath you swelled an ocean of paperwork. It was the kind of thing medaled officers joked about, checking watches to comment on how little time there was in a day, that sort of thing.

But really, there was quite a lot of paperwork.

Grunts were like children. You threw food at them, a little shelter, a little water, a little sunshine, and they had the potential to go anywhere from there, grow up to be anything. Their responsibility was to actualize their potential, and no one expected anything but buffoonery out of children.

Officers, especially majors and colonels and generals, were like parents. They went to work to earn a paycheck. They used that paycheck to pay the rent and buy groceries, the food and shelter and all that. They had to balanced the check books, maintain both car and house, and either delegate activities like mowing the lawn and cleaning the gutters, or do it themselves, and there was a cost to either one, whether it was a utility cost or an opportunity cost didn't seem to make much of a difference when tallying up the numbers. They had to do all that and spend time with the kids, and they couldn't avoid any of it because all of that was the work; operations, budgetary planning, maintenance, resource allocation, someone had to do it and now that someone was him.

Unlike parents and children though, Major Cadmium Metireal still had non-critical weekends for himself.

"Hey Del. It's been a while. You're looking . . . better."

In establishing that he knew about Delistair's rehab, Caden was brazen about displaying the fact that he had been keeping minor tabs on the man. Through the workaday grind of military life at the management layer, he had kept his jam buddy and fellow tinkerer in mind.

"Do I look older? Be honest. Oh never mind I know I do."

He did. A thin line of grey streaked through a patch of beard, he had bags under his eyes from several nights of poor quality sleep, which only served to emphasize a nearly invisible spread of wrinkles gathered around the corners of his eyes when he smiled. He looked heavier too but Delistair had caught him at a good time, a short while after realizing how a desk job packed it around the midsection and he realized it'd take a concerted effort to stay ready for the regular fitness tests; his added bulk translated nicely into musculature.

"I've been thinking about you. Err," A smile; wrinkles. "People like you. Soldiers, like you, who use wards and buffs and need to keep funneling power into it to keep it steady. I think the first thing I want to work on is like, something like a battery pack. We'll have to work out how big it has to be, but I'm thinking . . . iron ore and nth. Too . . . think it's too basic?"

Edited by supernal

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The sound of the door opening preceded Cadmium’s entrance. Delistair noticed the young officer’s changes in physical appearance at the same time that Cadmium sized him up.

“I’m fine now, thankfully,” Del waved a hand nonchalantly, having no desire to carry on that conversation.

”Do I look older? Be honest. Oh never mind I know I do."

“Older looks good on you,” Del said. “More authoritative, less green.” He grinned, remembering Cadmium as a newly-minted officer. “Still good for that fund-raising calendar beach shot.”

Cadmium jumped straight into the topic at hand, and Delistair was grateful for it. He leaned against the lab table and looked up at the ceiling, considering the proposition, at the same time running through his knowledge of the various metals that were available for their use. Fortunately Delistair was an avid reader, and though he had never come across many of the metals in their raw form, he had read up on them in preparation for this research.

“Nth might be good to make up the base since it’s light and easy to carry, but I’m not sure how well it can retain an enchantment, I’ve never worked with it before. We’ll have to test it to see. Iron I have experience working with. It can be enchanted, but the length of time it will hold a ‘charge’ is inversely proportional to its size.”

He regarded Cadmium. “I was thinking about it too, and I wonder if we can make use of Auranite somewhere in the setup. The problem is how to stabilize it and ensure it does not get overcharged when we first pump enchantments onto it. Perhaps Nth to conduct excess energy away?” He tapped a foot on the floor. “Or Negabjurium as a shield? It may work against us and weaken the enchantment instead though.”

There was a rap on the door. “Ah, I believe our delivery’s here.” Del had arranged for a sample of metals to be sent to them for some hands-on testing.

Edited by jaistlyn

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On the question of ho best to stabilize Auranite, Cadmium opened his mouth to speak. Fully prepared to interrupt the lesser-ranked officer and speak his mind, as the weight of his station dictated, his interruption was in turn interrupted when Delistair continued, unperturbed. He hit on the notion of using nth to conduct energy away, rather than towards. At this revelation Cadmium's mouth remained open, in fact went downright slack. His eyes glazed over with the distant film of a man quietly underground an internal epiphany.  This practical application was of the sort which seemed obvious in hindsight, so much so it was hardly worth even mentioning, but which had eluded Cadmium the entirety of his waking life.

"That's a definitely thought. We can try swapping auranite out with solabernite. Less energy density. So that means smaller spell stacks, lower peaks, but much more stable. Using auranite with nth though . . . uru is a pretty classic standby. We can pipe the excess into an uru heat sink and place that somewhere around the wearer's center of gravity. It'll definitely be heavier, but the nth can offset that some. I mean . . . yeah? I think it'll –"

A tentative tattoo rapped on the lab's door wrenched his attention; Cadmium looked towards the door surprised, then the surprise smoothed away when Delistair explained it was the simple and inevitable result of a little forethought.

"Good thinking. We can lab both of the solutions out. I, well," Here Cadmium smiled a smile as sly as an aristocrat's laughter and thumbed his nose. "I have something of a higher cap on my discretionary spending than I used to.

When Del returned with the samples Cadmium rolled his sleeves up to the middle of his forearms, then reached out to the array of meta-materials and took hold of a hunk of uru ore. Cad's brow furrows with a sudden outpouring of concentration – uru is as famous for its intractability as for its capacity to store energy, and Del can see a sheen of sweat forming across Cadmium's forehead as the ore levitate from his outstretched hand and begins to alter in shape. Minutely, but steadily.

"Now I'm thinking instead of a sink, a mesh would work better. It'll take work to pull this stuff into wires like that but the weight will be more evenly distributed."

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