THE MORAL INDIVIDUAL

Making Thessaline

When Cedric, Lester, and Jasmine returned to the hostel, Veronica, Eddy, and Yuwon, were discussing the four problems Cedric had said they'd face attempting to bring the thessaline back to the world of the Forbidders.

"I don't think there is anything we can do about the first three," Lester said.

They looked at him expectantly.

"They'll almost certainly be looking for us. It isn't like one day playing hooky. But I think they'll be looking for us where they'd expect us to be. I don't think they'll be looking near the tunnel opening. They shouldn't even know where that is or have any way to suspect that is where we went.

"As for someplace safe to go, there's really nothing we can do about that until we get back. We can think about places we can try, but not much else. I'm pretty sure Marten will be thinking about that.

"As for the Forbidder's agents catching us with the thessaline it's the risk we all knew we would be taking and it will only be a risk if we're found and have no place safe to go.

"As for the Nebers, what can we do except deal with the situation when it arises?"

"Shoot 'em." Eddy said.



Later that afternoon Cedric went to get Anthony, who was very quiet when he sat down with the others.

"Is there anything wrong Anthony," Jasmine asked him.

"No, not wrong. It's just that I have something to tell you that's not easy to tell. I have a decision to make but it's not just mine to make."

"Just tell us," Veronica said.

"I don't want to go back. I'm not afraid of the journey. I actually enjoyed the adventure. It's being back there I don't want. I'm a Nochose and I will not be able to fake being anything else. I wouldn't go back, but I committed myself to the mission, and I can't let you down."

"I don't remember anyone swearing to come back," Veronica said. "You saved me three times getting here. I think you've fulfilled any obligation you had."

"You know, Veronica, you're the same age I am. You're going to be facing the choice when you go back as well. If I don't go back, I wish you wouldn't either."

More than one eyebrow was raised at that.

"If I could, Anthony, I would stay, just because you want me to. But I can't stay. There is something I have to do and I have to go back to do it." She paused, then added, "it's complicated."



Early the next morning, Cedric came to pick up Veronica, Eddy, and Yuwon to take them to the plant where the thessaline would be synthesized. The other's were not really interested in the factory.

Veronica had explained her plan to Yuwon and Eddy. Everyone knew Eddy had a very special memory. It was not like a photographic memory. He could not remember what he read better than anyone else, but he never forgot anything he saw happen or heard said. The plan was for Eddy to watch the entire synthesizing process while someone explained every step of that process.

When they reached the plant, Cedric introduce them, then Veronica explained what they needed. Without explaining why, she said they had to see every step, emphasizing that every chemical, substance, and measurement had to be explicitly identified in the description.

The process took most of the morning and involved many complex steps and included forty or so different compounds, some even Veronica was not familiar with. She was beginning to have doubts about Eddy being able to remember it all.

On the way back to the hostile Veronica asked Eddy, "do you think you can remember it all."

"Sure!" Eddy said.

Veronica knew she could not remember it all, but did remember that near the end of the process a catalyst was used, so she asked Eddy what it was. "They used palladium, but said platinum or iridium could also be used."

Both Veronica and Yuwon were amazed. Her plan had worked. She had the entire formula recorded and it was undetectable because it was recorded in Eddy's memory.

"You really are wonderful, brother," Veronica said, and Yuwon hugged him.



When Cedric, Veronica, Eddy, and Yuwon arrived at the hostel with the freshly made thessaline later that afternoon, the others were making preparations for the journey back through the tunnel. Most of the back-packs were packed. What surprised them most was seeing Anthony as busy as the others working on that preparation. Veronica was certain he had chosen to stay.

"Did you change your mind?" Veronica asked him.

"Not really. I mean, this is where I want to be but I have something else I have to do back there," he said. "Then I'll be able to come back if possible." He paused, then added, "it's complicated."

"I'm glad you're going with us, Anthony," Veronica said.

***