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The term “Beaker” is a title that is given to a person who is aspiring to become a full fledged alchemist but has not yet acquired either the knowledge or the capability to fulfill that role. So that they can elevate themselves to that lofty title they serve as a lab assistant, copyist, test subject, etc., for either a single alchemist or a group of alchemists, usually in the field that they wish to pursue.
The alchemist Grayson Dawes is the person credited with coining the term Beaker. According to historical reports and profiles, Dawes was a high-strung, ill-tempered man who had a propensity of going through lab assistants at an alarming rate, most of them dying in random freak accidents. This was noticed by his colleagues who asked, after a particularly bad run of losing twelve assistants in twelve days, what he thought of his assistants. Dawes response was, “Well they are plentiful and as such, expendable. It doesn’t take much talent to pour liquid from one beaker to another after all.” After this quote Dawes began to refer to his assistants as Beaker Boys/Girls. This term was picked up by his colleagues and was eventually shortened to simply Beaker.
Early on most alchemists did not even use the Beaker’s name, simply referring to them as Beaker. For those who had multiple Beakers this quickly became quite confusing, especially when trying to give specific instructions to a singular assistant. However the practice was not changed until nearly one hundred years after the coining of the term. Another alchemist, Mattias Flaylock, was attempting an experiment whose details have been lost to the ravages of time. Based on vague details the trial involved several Beakers and several volatile substances all of which exuded noxious fumes that deadened the cognitive capabilities of the Beakers holding them. So when Flaylock pointed at one of the Beakers and commanded him to pour, the Beaker did so…along with all of the others… at the same time. This resulted in the famous Magnanimous Rainbow Cloud Death of Z’Athi Campus. The other effect was that the term Beaker became a title to be placed ahead of the assistant’s first and/or last name, i.e. Beaker Marcus or Beaker Jones.
In today’s times a Beaker is expected to be with the alchemist at all times, even at social functions, functioning as a social secretary of sorts. This increased responsibility has given the title of Beaker unexpected weight amongst the social elite, dependant upon whom the Beaker is studying under and to a lesser degree, what they are studying. It has also given rise to the term Brown-nosed Beaker, especially if the assistant is overly fawning or weasel-ish while in the alchemist’s presence.
Qualifications to become a Beaker are varied as well, relying again on the area of study as well as whom they are trying to learn from. Lesser alchemists generally are looking for a warm body that has rudimentary dexterity while upper echelon alchemists require extensive experience at being a warm body and references attesting to the would be Beaker’s rudimentary dexterity.