Author : Patrick Supple

At the peak of the technological firestorm of the mid-21st century, few would have forecast a second Dark Age. The advance of dogma started with the unification of the world’s major religions into an evangelical philosophy in the 2050s. Many had welcomed the amalgamation, believing it would consign wars of faith to history. Yet within two decades the New Faith had dramatically expanded its following through its proselytizing against the dehumanizing and non-spiritual nature of modern technology. The New Faith’s power grew until it was no longer a vehement critic of secular states – it became the state itself. Sharia laws which blended the moral traditions of the former religions were enacted and art and learning slowly atrophied. Inquisition agents searched for scientists who continued to study outlawed subjects and brought them before religious courts.

Harvey Johnson now stood before one such court. He had refused to end his studies in nanotechnology when university science departments were dissolved. He knew he was close to creating repair engines that could prolong human life indefinitely. For years he had worked in secret laboratories funded by wealthy individuals who dreamed of eternity. Harvey’s breakthrough arrived just weeks before he was found by the Inquisition and dragged away in chains.

The Bishop-Judge seated above Harvey began sentencing. “Your crimes are the most heinous that have been brought before this court. Despite the New Faith’s ruling on the sanctity and immutability of the God-like human form, you have continued to study your changeling art. For this crime, even death and the inevitability of your soul’s damnation are inadequate. Through you, this Court wants to send a message writ in stone to others who seek to alter God’s world. I thereby sentence you to become your creation and experience an eternal life of the dammed.”

While still trying to understand the sentence, Harvey was led to a side-room where he was administered an injection of his repair engines and handed back to the inquisition.

Less than a week later, Harvey was pushed into the obsidian void of space from an Inquisition shuttle. He was naked. The vacuum sucked the oxygen from his lungs, his veins exploded as his blood broiled and his skin blackened and cracked as it froze. Harvey felt an unendurable pain and despaired as he now understood his sentence. The repair engines began to reconstitute his body. His blood was recreated, ruptured veins closed, and his body reformed. With the nano-bots able to draw energy and matter from the dust and radiation of space, Harvey knew that his body could be repaired for an eternity. He also knew that the engines had been programmed to simply recreate and not develop adaptations to the rigor of vacuum. When Harvey’s body was whole once more, the stress of the void again tore it apart, only for the nano-bots to rebuild again. Harvey’s only hope would be for madness to come quickly and mask this pulse of destruction and creation, this drawn out moment of death.

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