What if I tried to transform a fairy cat into an elemental? Is that even possible? They already have magic and are able to turn into an animal. What would happen if we turned one into….say, an XQ? Would it even work or would the creature’s magic block the necessary chemical reactions?
Carthage went into his phone’s contacts. Antioch was at the top of the list. Capernaum was the contact right after him.
He tapped Antioch’s name and pressed Call.
It went straight to voice mail.
“Hi. This is Carthage. Listen! I have an interesting idea I…” His face fell as reality kicked in. “I wish you were still here. I had an intriguing thought I wanted to share with you. I wanted to know what you thought about it, if it were even something we could do.”
“You. Me. Capernaum. The three of us working together, problem solving together. Remember? Do you remember, Antioch? How it was. How it used to be.”
He got out of the car and regarded the burned-out building with sadness. “I do.”
Carthage frowned as he watched the video of a five-year-old girl burning. His frown deepened.
The video reached the end and went dark.
“Well?” Antioch said. “What do you think?”
Carthage turned to face him. “The burning was not uniform and the subject had absolutely no control over it.”
Antioch nodded. “I wonder if we should switch to microaccelerants.”
“No. Microaccelerants would only make matters worse. You need some sort of buffer. Something that will encourage structural integrity.”
“What do you suggest?”
Carthage looked back at the black screen. “I don’t know. At least, not yet.” He sighed. “What about the water elemental subject?”
“Capernaum and LM are still working on it. They haven’t had much success, though. Their subject keeps trying to drown.”
“That’s a problem. The air elemental subject?”
Carthage gave Antioch a surprised look. “Really? None at all?”
“Interesting. Do they have any idea what’s going wrong with it?”
Antioch shrugged. “Not yet. And the earth elemental subject keeps having severe panic attacks. We may have to give up on that one and acquire a new subject.”
Carthage wrinkled his nose in annoyance. “Tell them to keep trying. Something is bound to give. Or the subject will snap and break. We’ll see which happens first.”
“I remember and I miss it.” Carthage closed his eyes. He saw The Institute as he remembered it—all wooden scaffolding and sea-green water slides, like a playground or a water park. But the heart of The Institute was buried behind all of those distracting structures.
He opened his eyes and The Institute once more lay in ruins. “I miss you.”