Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pain and Healing

You know what's useful to have when fighting a many-tentacled being of darkness? Blade weapons. It would have been really convenient to slice through his tendrils instead of ripping them apart. I made a mental note to myself. I had lost about half of my to-do list, but the indestructible dark-tentacle-fighting blade still didn't make the top thousand items. Partly because I had a feeling that very soon, I wouldn't need it. One way or another.
"So, Mephistopheles. I have to admit I still don't entirely have your backstory down. I'm guessing you're an associate of Dr. Demented's. Your powers seem like a result of Demented's Disease, although they are certain on the higher end. It seems likely that you're a citizen of Earth Beta."
Mephistopheles didn't reply.
"I'll interpret that as 'Why yes I am, gosh darn you're smart.'"
No reaction. Maybe I should have said 'golly gee'.
"Now, I just need to deduce who you are. You seem moderately intelligent." I paused. He punched me in the face. He'd been doing that a lot, so I didn't take it as a reaction. "I might hypothesize you were an alternate version of me, but I know for a fact that Vafnir is dead." Yes, I was wrong. Yes, I should have put the pieces together. Yes, I'm sure you would have deduced it. Congratulations to you, Reader, with your incredible powers of hindsight.
I continued my one-way conversation with Mephistopheles. I checked up on any renewed possibility for external aid. I instructed Noetron to create teleporting shock troops to combat Mephistopheles, and worked out a detailed timetable for their completion. With all that out of the way, I worked on several different problems, including how exactly Mephistopheles' powers worked, what Dr. Demented's likely plan was, how to handle the Lucy situation, and where the roots of generalized Dirichlet functions occur on the complex plane.
Then, I turned my attention to Vera.

After Mephistopheles left, Vera had laid on the ground. She was still in shock from the trauma of transatlantic travel (Mephistopheles cared about her comfort even less than most airlines).
A small robot of Noetron's construction made first contact. "Miss Rapport, in what ways are you injured."
Vera didn't respond.
"Miss Rapport."
Slowly, Vera realized she was being spoken to. "Auuughghgh?"
Noetron decided conversation was not the best route. The robot wasn't strong enough to flip Vera over, but it scurried over her back looking for injuries. It found many. It then ran into my lab to fetch a chemical dosage which would, by Noetron's calculations, restore Vera to short-term mental health. Then the medium-term healing could begin.
Vera felt a needle stab into her neck. She barely registered the pain. It was nothing compared to what she had felt. "Where am I?"
"Lying face down in Phoenix's front lawn. In what ways are you injured?"
"My hands," she said, waving the her skeletal metal digits. "Can you fix my hands?"
"I cannot. Such a task would require medical knowledge far beyond my limited understanding."
"What about Phoenix?," she half-asked-half-spat. "Is his understanding also limited?"
"I ask myself the same question." Noetron returned to the most urgent matter. "In what other ways are you hurt?"
"What do you know about hurt? You're a machine."
"Miss Rapport, this home was just hit by a nuclear blast, along with an accompanying electromagnetic pulse. About a third of my mind was destroyed. An equivalent to about fifty thousand human lifetimes worth of memories were irretrievably lost. Some of my systems failed slowly enough to broadcast increasingly delirious data. Some computers are hanging on even now, squirting out all the data they can while they burn up due to frustrated cooling systems or damaged power routers."
Noetron examined Vera's hands. "I cannot fix your hands, but I can at least tell you that they are infected. Follow me, and we will see what we can do about that." Noetron was working on his bedside manner.
Vera got up, and followed the small machine into her former lover's home. It was strange seeing it in such a state of disrepair. "What happened here?"
"This is Phoenix's second major fight in the last twenty-four hours."
Noetron took Vera down into Phoenix's laboratory. He had her dip her wrists into beakers full of some strange substance. It stung like hell. Losing her hands hadn't felt so bad. The machine was quick to offer he anesthetic. Her hands cooled down.
"Now I will stitch up your other miscellaneous cuts and bruises." The machine paused, as if thinking for a moment. "Actually, there are some stem cells currently thawing in a freezer. With a little bit of work I could probably turn them into skin grafts."
"Do you need a DNA sample or something."
"I have it on file."
"Of course you do."

The application of skin grafts was actually a surprisingly painless process. "You're a pretty good doctor," Vera said.
"I know." Noetron was better than any human doctor. And that was only partly because of my propensity to get injured.
"I guess you're mainly a scientist, though."
"Not anymore."
"What do you mean, 'not anymore?'"
"When Phoenix created me, he was a man, and I was a machine. We each could do what the other couldn't. We worked together in search of scientific knowledge. Now, he is a perfect fusion of human creativity and mechanical power. I am just an extra pair of hands."
"You're obsolete."
"I'm sorry I guess."
"Phoenix gaining all of my capabilities is the ultimate attainment of my goals. A general solution to the problems I was created to solve. There is one ironic aspect of the situation."
"I used to think faster than Phoenix. Think bigger thoughts. He could be cleverer than me, but he couldn't understand the entirity my thoughts. It would have been like drinking from a fire hose full of rocket fuel."
"And now."
"Now he has to dumb himself down when he talks to me."
"And you aren't sad?"
"I do not know if I am sad."
"How can you not know if you are sad?"
"You have observed humans for years. You know what makes humans sad. You have noticed that you tend towards a certain mode of thought when in situations that make people sad. So you conclude, correctly, that that feeling is sadness. I do not know what makes me sad, so I cannot run a correlation to recognize the feeling of sadness."
"So, you have devoted your existence to helping someone, he doesn't need you anymore, and you don't even know if that makes you sad?"
"That's the saddest thing I've ever heard."

1 comment:

  1. . Your powers seem like a result of Demented's Disease, although they are certain on the higher end. to Your powers seem like a result of Demented's Disease, although they are certainly