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Chapter One
The magnetic field of the passing asteroid is generating enough energy to pull Grailem towards
it. Waking from an aimless sleep he tries to use his precious energy to move closer. It had been
aeons since he had stood on, or even felt a solid surface beneath his feet.
Grailem had been drifting aimlessly through space since his spacecraft had exploded, maybe a
million years ago now. The exploding fuel tanks had thrown him out into the cold of space with
such a force that he had almost achieved the speed of light. The clouds of dust and gases of
forming nebula he passed through slowed him down as he flew uncontrolled through the cosmos.
With no propulsion system to aid him, the friction of forming nebulae of dust and gas eventually
brought his speed down to a few kilometres per second.
The years passed slowly for him as he had little to distract his thoughts and he had long wished
for the release of death. The only part of him that is human is his brain; and this has been
incorporated completely into an artificial body. The body had been especially designed to cope with
all environments; including the vacuum of space, but with the vital flaw of no propulsion system.
The long held dream that Man could eventually conquer death had become a reality. Grailem and
many others like him, are the prototypes for a new generation of Man. The body skeleton, made of
modern metal clusters, that would never decay, was almost indestructible. His inner machine
workings were covered in a flexible carbon hybrid. The carbon, formed with the mineral pansaleite
under extreme pressure gave the appearance and feel of human skin. The new kind of Man had to
be in Man's own image and Grailem looked a prime example of his species; a little over two metres
tall with a muscular looking body and handsome round face he could pass at a distance as human
on any planet. Closer examination of his eyes would reveal their mechanical nature betraying his
true identity. This was not a problem on his home planet as many people possessed artificial eyes
– but to an outworlder he was one not to be trusted.
Mankind had been incorporating humans with artificial limbs and internal organs for generations.
The more that Man depended on technology, the physically weaker the human race had become.
Many humans were regularly being born with disabilities like missing limbs, blindness and also the
inability to speak.
Substituting the missing limbs with man-made ones and combining computer technology, the
blind could see better than with normal healthy eyes (though mechanical and lacking any sign of
emotion), and the disabled could walk and run. To have a disability proved to be an advantage in
this new world; as the replacement limbs and internal organs were far superior to that created by
nature. All those who could afford it had mechanical hearts and kidneys. Some had arms and legs
deliberately amputated so that they could be fitted with far superior man-made ones.
Life expectancy became measured in centuries rather than years. After three thousand years the
human part of the body mysteriously changed, making the body susceptible to disease and death.
Not many people lived beyond three thousand years; it was as if the body had an internal clock
that stopped when it reached a certain age. The only organ that had to remain human was the
brain, but this and whatever part of the original body remained always fell susceptible to disease,
killing the host.
Grailem, and several like him, had been Mankind's hope to finally achieve immortality; created in
a test tube they had been genetically modified to have no arms and legs in the hope of creating a
superior brain. The brain, genetically cross-mutated with an alien species of wasp brought an
immunity to the diseases that had affected Man. Kept as laboratory experiments initially and
suspended in biotic fluid for the first three years, the brains did expand to twice their normal size
and intelligence. Hard wired into a computer terminal the brains had access to all of Mankind's
Grailem had become fully self aware after only a few months and had been content in his tank of
biotic fluid. Though he was connected to the computer system he was unable to communicate.
Regarded as nothing more than a young infant of a few years he was generally left alone - until the
military intervened.
More advanced weapons could be constructed; with a human brain making the decisions rather
than a computer.