When Lucas Buford was a young man of eighteen, he was sitting, as he often did in those days, at a drafting desk in the warm workshop of Lars Attridge. The roof had only ever provided minimal protection from the Antifordian heat.
“Very good. You’re a fast study, Lucas,” Lars said.
Lucas was still engrossed in the blueprints in front of him. “I think if we could shrink these gears down by a factor of—”
“Hold on, hold on. Let’s return to this tomorrow. I have something important for you.”
Lucas halted his enthusiasm, and took a moment to clear his mind of the day’s work. “Okay… What is it, Mr. Attridge?”
Lars stood up from his stool and walked to the other corner of the workshop. He waved his apprentice to come close. “There are forces in this world who would do anything and everything to me for having these.”
Lucas was perplexed and concerned.
Lars continued. “So I will protect these by doing what all of the previous owners of this have done: add my own work to it and pass it along to my apprentice.”
“What is it?” Lucas asked.
Lars opened the chest beside him. Within sat a dozen or more books. “These are the research journals of my masters and their masters before them, as well as the keys to unlock their secrets.”
“They are written in code? What, um… why?”
“Lucas… knowledge is power. And sometimes in the course of history it is important to take both away from those of poor conscience. Do you remember when I had to take care of those thugs from abroad?”
“Let me explain. Those men were upset that I helped take down my old scientific mentors. Their former co-conspirators.”
Lucas shook his head, struggling to understand what this all was. To understand what secret life his master led during his time abroad as a younger man. “But what could be so dramatic about the words inside these journals?”
“Young man, It is a harrowing tale— woven of many generations— of the quest for immortality and the knowledge of the gods themselves. What you are learning now has been distilled from all who came before. That all comes from these journals.”
“How do we get such purely-scientific ideas from such political a body of work?”
“Everything is political, Lucas. But, and this is important, we are only taking the useful knowledge from them, and will be inspired only by the good-hearted authors in the bunch.”