To Error is Human
average height, addict's build, shabby coat hiding bloodshot eyes and a general facial fuzz of stubble, buzz cut, and nascent sideburns.
Erasmus ‘Raz’ Mercali’s ‘personnel file’ does not take the form of a neatly-typed message, but rather a pict-log of the Technographer in question in a dirty berth, staring not quite into the camera. He begins, in a voice that is neither an empathetic human’s nor a clinical machine’s, but rather some grating mix of the two:
‘Only in Death does Duty end’, said some mad old bint with a funny staff as I was born. Well, thanks for that, Ms Seer, thanks for that so very much. It really is something when not only is your entire life and train of thought determined by some blithering idiot with a fancy desk, and a million medals forming some sort of grotesque carapace over their body, but to have your entire future determined from the moment of birth? Too much. And what a future, too. Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself. You’ll probably want to know for your personnel file – who am I kidding, you asked me to send you this – what made this man standing in front of you – average height, addict’s build, shabby coat hiding bloodshot eyes and a general facial fuzz of stubble, buzz cut, and nascent sideburns.
To be honest, I haven’t the faintest idea.
Sure, records tell me I was born on some accursed backwater station, but, to be honest, I’m not inclined to put any trust in them. It all happened, see, when some blighted Magos Biologis in training has the bright idea of performing an improvised, mid-battle Rite of Pure Thought to save me from what he later said was some pretty heavy nerve damage (I don’t believe a word he says, but I’ll roll with it). The procedure is a an intensely difficult one, requiring an intricate re-wiring of several ganglia and the excision of certain small parts of the grey matter in favour of priceless and unfathomable pieces of machinery; essentially, it is a process taking days on end, as well as a recuperation period of several months, that puts into the ascendant the left hemisphere of the brain, with its logical, analytical centres overbrimming with erudition and brilliance, in my case. Trust the genius to get right and left mixed up.
So, instead of cutting away human frailty in favour of the cold glory of the machine, I ended up with nothing but a bucket full of fleshy weakness. In the pass-the-parcel of the Omnissianic Creed, I ended up with the pieces of the brain responsible for getting bored, wanting to get drunk and laid, and that little fiddly bit responsible for wild inspiration, intuition, and the aching sense of something beautiful and numinous just round the corner, residing in this plant’s evolved sequences, or that star’s dying flare. No memories, next to no technical skills, but a head fully of partially realised designs of singular efficiency and function dragged kicking and screaming out of my subconscious.
I spent the first few years out of surgery on a forge world assembly line doing the Mechanicus equivalent of making license plates or sewing hempen sacks, but eventually was plucked from this hell in order to do a bit of consulting on behalf of some big-shot Magos Malygris Umbra, some stuff that involved digging up an awful load of corpses, but I had little idea what at the time. Lent some advice, gave a couple of insights into the way that warp energy interacted with human flesh (admittedly, even I should have seen what was going on by this point), but I didn’t get paid an awful lot, and quickly ended up hammered out of my head in a Malfi bar, drunk, penniless, and generally in a sorry state. It was then that I cut a deal with some fine-speaking gentleman with a rosette – again, I was utterly wasted at the time, and have difficulty remembering particulars, but broadly speaking it was an offer to exchange cold hard thrones for some information on Malygris. I get chatty when under the influence, and so ended up telling the man rather a lot – though he didn’t seem to get too bored. Before I know it, ‘Malygris the Damned’ and his followers are being slaughter by the dozen, and said rosette-bearing man had tracked me down for some stern words. I told him what happened, and, surprisingly enough, he brought it. With the money he gave me to stay quiet following the debrief, I just drifted around on Tramp Ships, engaging in as much women, booze, and chems as I could in order to block out my failure – but then your lot called me back. Some sort of ‘prior-connection’ deal, I’d imagine.
The way I see it, I nominally wouldn’t give a toss for the Imperium, Ecclesiarchy, Inquistion, or, Throne, even the Mechanicus who did me such a great favour in medical. But, over time, what I know, what I’ve seen, I know that it’s necessary that you do your thing. Of course I serve the Emperor; it’s the pragmatic thing to do, given that it’s him or universal death and upset. I’d say I know it better than most. And, as such, Mr Fiphe, I offer the skills of a drink-sodden technological visionary – I hope you can make use of them, and I hope that it makes you and your master happy, since it certainly doesn’t give me anything more than a grim satisfaction.