A Steam-Powered Heart
A SteamPunk Story by MadMikeMarsbergen
PART ONE: A STEAM-POWERED HEART
There it was: the steam-powered heart. Under the safety glass. Red and slick with grease, cogs turning, gears shifting, valves flapping in sync as steam spewed forth on each and every pulse and beat. Stories had been told of its great power—it could allow a man to live well past his natural expiration date. Rumours spread like wildfire among Peburian investors... What was next? A whole person made of artificial parts? It was unnatural. Great, yes, but not normal. An outright defiance of Glasomil's own power of creation. The automatons had been bad enough. But this...? It demanded punishment. Men were meant to live and die and create other men; at the very most they were allowed to create vehicles through which to make living and dying that much easier, that much faster. But never would they be allowed to fashion devices to prolong life, nor were they to create new, sentient, previously unheard-of beings with their brains and bare hands. Such was the law of Glasomil; to defy it was to liken one's self to a state of godhood. Restraint was a necessity. Without restraint, wars were waged, sins were committed. And this...
He was different. He was Glasomil incarnate. He alone had the power to give or take life in such a way.
Except in this one circumstance.
In this one way, he was powerless. Defeated. Impotent.
It annoyed him greatly.
He wasn't from this time and place, hadn't been here long. This world was alien to him, yet familiar. This world was a mirror image of the life he knew. He could crush them all, change his past and present, and everything would be different. The enslavers of his past would be nothing, and his race would never have died out. But then he wouldn't have Andy, would he? And wasn't Andy the entire reason why he was here now, staring at a false heart beating beneath its glass? Andy needed him, and he wasn't one to ignore the pleas of those dearest to him. It was very simple: Without this heart, there was no more Andy.
Thin, worn hands reached out, fluttering with anticipation, raised the glass with great care. The hiss of the glass chamber's artificial environment being broken. Grey vapour poured out before dispersing. Prongs grabbed, lifted. The heart placed gently in an icebox. Kept cool for later.
What next? The world.
Professor Sherlock Milton searched the young faces staring back at him across the classroom. Their eyes were wide, some of them even had their mouths hanging open. He had them completely with today's topic of discussion. They were fascinated. And why wouldn't they be? With ease, he'd moved the lecture from his steam-powered automatons—"robots," he knew they were being called colloquially among the student body, a butchering of the Wannatuk'luk word "robo'tuk," meaning "doer of chores"—to the future possibilities of those same automatons, with some slight tweaking.
"Sexbots!" one red-eyed, stubble-cheeked malcontent shouted, drawing giggles from the others.
"Quite amusing, Randy," Milton said, grinning softly. "Personally, as their 'father,' so to speak, I would prefer they be called something less obscene. Like, say, 'personal automated lady-friend,' or perhaps 'Randy's first girlfriend.'"
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