Monday, October 27, 2014


It was my mistake. All Mephistopheles needed was to get in close proximity to me. And there I was, pinning him to the ground like an idiot.
I saw it coming. I saw as a tentacle erupted from his hands. I saw the small bit of machinery that could completely reprogram my cyborg components.
My mind was so much faster than my body. I dodged, blocked, and destroyed that tentacle a thousand times in my head. But not once in real life.
The tentacle was four centimeters from my eye. A few milliseconds until impact. I readied my defenses. What else could I do? I broadcasted out as many of my thoughts, memories, and desires as I could. Maybe Noetron, or Cognis, or someone, could create a new me, with those few terabytes of information at the core.
I needed to do better. What could I do in the remaining milliseconds? Of course. I could transferred a backup of my mind (or at least the important parts) to a small nodule of my body. Where? I selected the second knuckle on the pinky finger on my right hand. The backup process kept my occupied for most of the remaining time. I disconnected the backup from the rest of my system, so it couldn't be corrupted or detected, but would still follow the rest of my upgrades into Mephistopheles' body. I erased all records of it. Then, I felt pain in my eye.

"It's a beautiful device," Mephistopheles said. "Well, beautiful for me. Painful for you. Your upgrades will start tunneling through you. They'll all join together inside your rib-cage. They'll be compacted, and fused into a sphere one centimeter in radius. I eat the sphere, and get all your powers and knowledge. You have about a minute left to live. A very painful minute."
"Are you trying to torture me, little human?"
"To be honest... I wouldn't mind seeing you in pain."
"Well, you won't get what you want. I can fast forward through the last minute of my life, and not experience a thing."
"Maybe. But if there's even a tiny scrap of me left in you, you won't do that. You'll stay alive, too horridly fascinated by life and death."
He was right. I was bluffing. I checked my status. Internal bleeding had already begun inside me. About forty-two seconds left.
How could I make the most of my remaining time? This wasn't the first time I had been seconds away from death. But it was the first time that those seconds left me with time to kill.
I needed to make peace with myself. I needed to prove to myself that I had accomplished all I could accomplish. But first, I needed one small glimmer of hope.
I ran through my memories of Justin's brain. I assembled a crude facsimile of Justin's mind. "Justin, I have a question for you."
"What is the most effective drink for picking up women?"
"Martini. Why?"
I dismissed the Justinoid. There. I had reanimated the dead. If it could happen to Justin, it could happen to me too. I might not be done.
Was that really what I wanted? To be resurrected as the plaything of a bored god? Yes, I decided. Better than being dead.
Back to the matter at hand. What did I have left to do in my life. My to-do list was down to four million items. Let's start at the top.
1. Save Lucy. I wasn't going to get to do that. Why did I want to do that? Because she was important to me. There was no talking myself out of that. Could she still escape? Probably. She had Noetron and Acme. With luck, she could play the two off of each other, and free herself of this whole mess.
2. Kill Dr. Demented. Maybe this new Crucible would handle that. He seemed better qualified for the job. He had the unlimited power of a god, and he seemed to know how you use it.
Where was I? Item 3. Lost my train of thought. Cyborgs don't lose their trains of thought.
3. Kill Mephistopheles. Noticing a lot of killing on this list. Not healthy. Besides, someone would bump Vafnir off eventually.
4. Replace humanity with a race of cyborgs. This one was important. Human lives were so... thin. How did I ever find meaning with such a haphazard mind, thrown together by evolutionary chance? Only the vast and focused mind of a cyborg could truly appreciate the beauty of things. And others needed to share that. Plus, I wanted someone to talk to besides other aspects of myself.
Fortunately for the human race, some other mortal would eventually find his way out of the muck. Some other cyborg might lead them to enlightenment. They wouldn't be as good as me, and they might take their time showing up, but someone was coming to destroy the human race. And create the cyborg one.
5. Build a device to enable faster-than-light travel. That was going to be a bust. Dr. Demented had already done it, but I really wanted to understand it. Didn't matter, I... lost my train of thought again.
My brain was deteriorating. I had maybe thirty seconds left to live. And in my damaged state, with so much of my mind devoted to keeping the pain at bay, I could barely think faster than a human.
6. Subjugate planet Earth. The Cyborgs would need a leader. And as the first and greatest of their kind, I was the natural choice. I had so many ideas for Cyborg entertainment, Cyborg morality, and Cyborg law. Ideas I would never get to implement. But, hopefully, some future genius nearly as great as me would set the Cyborg people straight.
7. Steal information from the Archives. Much like the knowledge of faster than light travel, that alien lore would forever elude me. I could deal with that. It had eluded everyone else before me.
So what? So what if it had eluded everyone else before me? I was wasn't everyone else before me. Most of the people before me were morons. I shouldn't have to stoop to their level. What was I doing, systematically giving up on everything that mattered to me? I wasn't ready to give up. I wasn't ready to go. I wanted to live. I had things to do.
The pain!
I had theorems to prove, people to liberate, and galaxies to conquer.
The agony!
I had an immortal lifetime's worth of things to do, and deserved an immortal life in in which to do them.
I don't remember what I thought after that, because I was dead.     


  1. Yes, he's dead. No, it's not over.

  2. I could transferred a backup of my mind (or at least the important parts) to a small nodule of my body. to I could transfer
    The backup process kept my occupied for most of the remaining time. to The backup process kept me
    And other needed to share that to And others
    You'll stay alive, to horridly fascinated by life and death." ?
    There was not talking myself out of that. to There was no