Grailem was one of mankind's last hopes to finally achieve immortality. Created in a test tube he had been bred specifically to be fully integrated with an artificial robotic body. To live forever has been Man's dream almost since time began; would immortality finally bring the happiness that we all desire?
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 knowledge.