Professor Cognis and I have trouble working together. It's probably because the vast majority of our shared experiences are desperate struggles for the fate of the planet. It could also have to do with both of us constantly trying to prove our mental superiority, or change the other's worldview.
It might also be because he's a boring individual with only a theoretical understanding of how a sense of humor works.
"This is not a joking matter."
"Because if we fail to stop Dr. Demented, he will erase our Earth from existence."
"That seems like a non sequitur."
"Forget it. So, have you come up with any good ideas for killing Dr. Demented?"
"Most of them involve me getting access to the Archives."
"Is that going to happen?"
I though to my battle with Acme. "Yes. Just a matter of time."
"Very well. Is it going to happen in time?"
"Well then. Is it conceivable that you, Vector, and Mephistopheles could hold your own against him?"
"I doubt it."
"Same here. The only person who could possibly hold his own against Dr. Demented was Crucible, and he's dead now. Although I suppose you did have to kill him."
"Welllllll... funny story about that. I'm not sure I did."
"What? I thought you blew up a heavenly body in his face."
"I did. But I'm seriously questioning whether it was fatal."
"So, you suspect he survived, but is somehow trapped, which is why we haven't heard from him."
"I do. Consider, for instance, his heart, the Crucible of Cosmic Fire. It is a simple matter to get an estimate for its tensile strength and resistance to heat and radiation."
"I've run the numbers. Stronger than the force that holds the nucleus together."
"Yes. Which means that, unlike anything made of normal matter, it could survive prolonged exposure to a strangelet."
"And you think the it is impossible to destroy Crucible the individual without destroying the object."
"He's survived quite a bit, and shows an incredible ability to regenerate wounds that don't effect his heart."
"But the reason he hasn't come back is that he is still on the strangelet moon-"
"So the rest of his body is perpetually being converted to strange matter, presumable faster than it can be regenerated."
Cognis wasn't convinced. "What force would keep it bound to the stranglet? The energies involved could send it rocketing away at relativistic speeds."
"The monopole components would interact via the strong nuclear force. Then numbers get a little messy, but I don't think the Crucible could escape."
"So Crucible is trapped in an eternal hell." Cognis opposed capital punishment and even life sentences. But he didn't seem too concerned for Crucible's happiness. "Could he be recovered?"
"The strangelet is more than a trillion kilometers from Earth, and moving away at a significant fraction of the speed of light."
"So he's out of our reach. But..."
"I don't know."
"We'll have to assume the worst," he said.
"We're going up against Dr. Demented without the element of surprise. We're doomed even if we assume the best."
Now, I'm not sure when exactly the following events occurred. But for dramatic purposes, I'll assume they coincided with my conversation with Cognis.
Somewhere at the edge of the Oort cloud, what was once a moon of Mars barreled through space. It still glowed with the incredible heat of its creation. It was almost perfectly spherical, barely a meter in diameter, but it was fraught with what might be called seismic activity.
Much of this activity was brought about by a small object near the strange moon's surface.
A cylindrical object you could hold in your hand. The Crucible.
The Crucible was sentient to a degree. It knew that it was futile to try to escape. It would take seconds to generate enough mass-energy to form a body, and minutes to shape it into the intricate machines of life.
In a millionth of that time, all of the Crucible's work would be converted into more strange matter.
It could try to spew energy in a specific direction. But the forces holding it captive were too powerful.
Similarly, it was impossible to destroy the strangelet. There was no way to build up that much energy without a physical body.
The Crucible was resigned to spending an eternity in its predicament.
In retrospect, that was a little too pessimistic.
I'm going to tell this next bit from Dr. Demented's point of view. This is extremely difficult, because nobody knows what goes on in Dr. Demented's head. Including Dr. Demented. Comparatively speaking, it is far more easy to tell this story from the point of view of alien robots than to try to fathom how Dr. Demented sees events. Just wanted you to appreciate the effort I go through for you.
Dr. Demented park his laboratory. He at arrive at destination. He put on armor and walked through airlock. There. It big, glowing ball of matter, held together by strong nuclear force. Not something you see every day.
It easy to scan entire thing. He pause for moment to consider convection current in strange matter system before focusing on real prize: the Crucible.
Use Time Key. Reverse metric of spacetime in localized region. Pull Crucible to surface of degenerate moon. "There you are, my pretty little machine."
Dr. Demented pull Crucible out of moon. Gravity of dense strange matter is nothing compared to strength of Dr. Demented. Gravity is curvature of space. Dr. Demented command space.
Examine object. Wonderful craftmanship by ancient alien visitors. He notice film of organic matter begin to form. "Not yet, my little machine. Not until I say so."
Is simple matter to use Time Key to stop progress of Crucible. More manipulation of spacetime curvature. Not like Time Jump, which near impossible to prepare.
Dr. Demented gaze at laboratory. Appear shabby, like crappy interstellar-spaceship-laboratory.
But is bigger on inside than outside. Inside is also separated from outside by several billion years and multiple trillions of lightyears thanks to a topological wormhole forged by the Time Key.
Dr. Demented considered Crucible held him hand. Dangerous weapon. Powerful tool. Not needed at phase of plan.
But has potential. Potential for learning. Is risk, releasing it at this phase. Dr. Demented evaluate the various possibilities, and concluded that the benefits of reanimating the Crucible outweighed any potential dangers. So, he used the Time Key to bring the Crucible back into the normal flow of time.
The Crucible had been created by superintelligent aliens. The Computer People. They had created a bridge to another dimension, and set up the bridge so that the other dimension acted as a source of unlimited energy.
For some mysterious reason, they placed the Crucible into Mashamasha, a peasant on the planet Earth, living in what would become Sumeria.
This turned out to be a very bad move.
Mashamasha made it his mission to destroy their civilization, and made a great deal of progress.
So the Crucible needed to consider the impact of bringing him back.
Mashamasha was not intelligent. He was violent, and cruel, and had killed living beings planets at a time. He had no real redeeming qualities to make up for being a brutish genocidal maniac.
So, the Crucible of Cosmic Fire decided to create a new host. A younger host, with a more agile mind. Perhaps a less dangerous mind.
This new host wasn't given Crucible's barbaric memories, but was given a basic understanding of the languages and other skills Crucible had picked up in his thousands of years traveling the cosmos.
All told, it wasn't very much.
The person who was once Crucible woke for the first time. He was in a vast room full of strange devices. It looked like science, or maybe magic. No, magic didn't exist.
The person decided he needed a name for himself. Going through the names he had heard of, he composed one which seemed relatively cool. Alexander Star.
Alex noticed a large man with a disheveled beard. "Who are you," he asked.
The man turned around. He spoke with what Alexander recognized as a thick Russian accent. "I am Doctor Demented, greatest mind of the universe. Pleased to make acquaintance."