The Design and Mechanics of Desire.
The manikin lay motionless upon the bench. It was battered and worn having had a hard life. Artificer knew that these devices could pick up a variety of knocks in their time buffeted by their tumultuous environment or ravaged by conflicts with each other. Frequently the damage could simply be a result of wear and tear. Yet the Artificer always saw to it that they kept going until their time ran out. Then they would be returned to the workbench and salvaged or scrapped altogether. This particular manikin was in a particularly dilapidated condition. Many of its wounds were self-inflicted.
Artificer took the broken figure and turned it over. The outside was not his main concern. The vessel had done its’ job so Artificer split it open. The inner mechanism, the cargo, was the valuable part and this is what the Artificer sought to preserve.
He studied the inside of the shell for a moment with infinite care and saw that the contents seethed with corruption. The cogs that drove the device were seized up with grime. Wires had jolted free from switches. Circuit boards were corroded by the battery fluid, which had spewed out of the cells once they had become drained of power. Artificer sighed. Artificer gave his manikins the freedom to choose their own way, as they were models rather than automatons. They did not have to obey a program but hopefully they would try to imitate and follow his desires. All too often this license resulted in a similar plight as the one that lay upon the workbench. Such is the cost of reliance on desire instead of compulsion.
Yet a glimmer of hope remained. At one time Artificer set out to call this manikin back to the workshop and the device responded and agreed to return to be recycled. Alas it made no time for running services or repair.
Artificer selected a blade from the rack and roughly spooned the mechanism out onto the worktop. Then he patiently carved muck away, discarding defunct parts until the core was exposed. The core was a petrified lump encrusted with slag. Artificer took this and inserted into a vice and clamped it in a painfully tight embrace then selected a chisel and began cutting away like a jeweler. The core was turned and the vice re-tightened then pared down further. The black scabs were chipped away to reveal a murky grey interior. The grey mass was whittled down to reveal a succession of lighter layers after which a file rasped at the impurities until a tiny white speck glowed with the vestiges of life.
At this point Artificer picked up the minute speck between his thumb and forefinger and plucked at every last stain and blemish with a small pick. It was a delicate task as the core was now quite soft and malleable. Finally he polished the core until it shone like a pearl. When Artificer released it his fingers the surface sprung back ever so slightly. The core, now a perfect globe, wafted back down to the table so as to regard the discarded cadaver that had imprisoned rather than housed it for so long. The salvage operation was complete.
Artificer swept up the discarded remains into a heap and pitched them into an incinerator. The flames greedily licked at the fuel until the furnace roared with a fierce heat.
The condition of the case was never a reliable indicator of what lay within. Manikins could work with Artificer to preserve their cores whilst they lived. Some cases would barely have a mark on them yet the innards were completely consumed with canker and had to be utterly destroyed. Others were mutilated beyond recognition yet contained cores that were brilliant as diamonds. These specimens could be displayed in a grand, finely honed case with many features and moving parts.
Artificer placed a platinum wire in the flame and began to soften the metal. He considered what kind of new body he would create for this wisp of core. This particular waith would have to be content with something small and delicate if any of its’ character were to be retained. If only it had expended some effort on self-repair and improvement whilst it still had time.
1 Corinthians: 15 (verses 35-48 in particular)
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