Delusions of Grandeur
Always curious about how the universe works, Murff did well in school, and completed training as an engineer. Murff was able to have a comfortable existence with his family (wife: Leena, daughter: Chloe).
One day, Murff was helping his human friend and neighbor Ardo with some construction work on his house. Ardo fell from a high place and landed on the edge of some metal plating, which completely destroyed his brainstem. Thinking quickly, Murff carried Ardo to his workshop that was full of Murff’s constructions and inventions. Murff had recently taken an interest in cybernetics, and had been working on a neural network template that medics could use as a temporary stabilizer for traumatic/complete brain injury….situations just like this. The template was untested – was this wise? Nothing else would save Ardo’s life!
Murff strapped Ardo into the large contraption that looked like it had been appropriated from some other experiment or experiments. This would have had no chance of working at all if Murff hadn’t asked Ardo to sit in the machine just days earlier so the scanning/analysis cycle could be troubleshooted. Was his profile still in there? Did Murff delete it?? The profile is still there! Murff pulls levers, pushes buttons, flips switches, hits things with a hammer, connects hoses, looks at consoles, and plugs in wires at a furious pace, all while saying “Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit,…” He’d never tried the full sequence before….there’s no way this is going to work!
He hits a final button, and the machine comes to life in a maelstrom of blinking lights, whirring fans, arcing protuberances, strange buzzing sounds, and violent clanks as if two opposing nations of gremlins had started a war inside. Ardo starts twitching, threatening to break contact with the wires and tubes that he’s been attached to. Murff looks on anxiously.
After 5 torturous minutes, everything goes quiet – the machine, Ardo, and Murff just standing there quietly with eyes and mouth wide open. He slowly approaches, and attempts to take vitals, all the while thinking “I don’t know how to do this…this was never intended to be done without medic supervision…” He feels for a pulse…he gets one! Afraid to attempt anything else (Ardo’s laying there, literally smoking) Murff makes haste and calls for medics.
Ardo survives. His medical attention resulted in the installation of a synthetic brainstemp being implanted at the base of his skull. In the months that followed, friends and family notice he’s not quite the same old Ardo. They bear no ill will toward Murff, he saved his life, afterall, but they’re concerned. Ardo tries to continue his normal life, but his behavior grows more erratic. On several occasions, Ardo pleads with Murff to perform more “procedures” on him. Ardo feels torn between vascillating sensations of omnipotence and impotence. He can’t take it anymore. Murff didn’t oblige – he was afraid to do anything else.
One day Murff noticed his neighbor walking by with a new prosthetic mechanical arm. Did he have an accident? What the hell happened? Murff was afraid to ask, and his sense of guilt intensified. A few days later, Ardo showed up at Murff’s doorstep with a friendly smile on his face. Murff nervously answered and greeted his friend. Ardo lifted up his other arm to reveal a bloody stump at the elbow. He had just cut it off and thrown it into his home’s incinerator. Murff looked on in horror as Ardo began speaking with the calm of a Zen master. “See, I had this idea….you could craft me a new arm, the old one isn’t up to the task!” Murff now obliged out of feelings of….obligation, guilt, pity, confusion, and fear.
Versions of this episode repeated over the next few months until Ardo’s only remaining organics were his head, and upper torso. Ardo’s persona was changing, too. He was becoming more and more erratic, and he was taking it upon himself to have black market augmentations made to his cybernetics. Frankenstein’s monster was taking the initiative.
Murff had already considered moving or fleeing, and then one day, he arrived back home from a trip to the smoldering ruins of his home and the distant screams Ardo. Murff skulked into his “home” to look for his family. Mutilated – along with his sense of worth and purpose. Reflexively, Murff grabbed the toolkit that he had laid by the door moments earlier, and started running. He had to get off-planet.