Dr. Bob, Spitfire, and Dr. Talley sat around the conference room table. Normally, the room could have twenty people around the large table, but tonight only three sat within the brightly lit room. Unlike many of the rooms of the Ork Rights Committee’s RIchmond headquarters, this conference room was on the top floor, in a corner of the building showing the surrounding city lights of the Petersburg Barrens.
“So, good doctor,” Spitfire began, “what are we going to do, sugah? Grummish is coming home and we can say with confidence that he is not going to, um… respond well to Marcus’ killing.”
“There’s an understatement,” Bob responded flatly.
“An he’ll be wanting to punch a cyberspur through that Maiden’s forehead,” Spitfire replied.
“And now you’re stating the obvious?” Bob asked rhetorically. “When you talked with the Maiden, what did she say?”
“I can’t say exactly, because using her magical doll for translation. From her point of reference compared to modern language leaves a number of things as somewhat unclear.” Spitfire shook her head. “What about Marcus? Why did he snap? I thought y’all put him back together and he was recovering.”
“Well, all signs point to CFD.”
Breaking her silence, Dr. Maggie Talley asked, “CFD? My field is magical theory, not technology.”
“CFD,” answered Bob. “Cognitive Fragmentation Disorder nanovirus. It can alter the functioning of one’s mind. Some say even replace it with some artificial intelligence. As a virus, it indicates possible infectious disease.”
“Ew,” Maggie replied, almost to herself. “But you don’t know for sure.”
“Hard to say,” Bob said. “I quarantined the body, but it wasn’t like I could interact with Marcus before he caught a sword to the face. What I thought impressive about that, though, is that his bone lacing in his skull was actually caved in from the sword swing. Very durable construction that sword and it implies that the Maiden is extremely strong. All without technology.”
“Well hon,” Spitfire interjected, “astrally, she looks like a physical adept and the weapon and armor are magical. Ain’t got a clue in what that magic is and does.”
“And you both know that she’s been training and teaching some of the guards around here,” Maggie said.
“What?” Both Bob and Spitfire appeared surprised by Maggie’s observation.
“Nail in the coffin,” Bob answered. “You thought he’d be mad at the Maiden for Marcus’ death, but out and out treason seals her fate.”
“Are you sure Grummish can defeat her?” Spitfire asked. “She’s extremely well trained. I’ve watched her practice. And we know there are unknown magics in play too.”
“Still doesn’t matter.” Bob rubbed his head and leaned back in the comfortable chair. “Grummish is coming home and he’s going to try to kill her. One way or another. So, how do we convince him not to?”
“Well, the Maiden said she had to ‘destroy the souless man.’ Her words.” Spitfire rubbed her eyes, appearing tired.
“Ah,” Maggie said. “If I may? The Maiden didn’t exactly say that. The magic of the doll interpreted what the Maiden said in her own language. You interpreted it, again through the doll, to be ‘destroy the souless man.’ I don’t think that’s what she said. She doesn’t know anything about CFD or whatever. She doesn’t know about cyberlimbs and vat grown muscles.”
“Your point?” Bob asked.
Maggie sighed. “I think she meant ‘golem’. Remember the ancient text that explains their creation. They’re ‘made’ and artificial. Sounds a bit like what Marcus might look like in her eyes.”
“Sugah,” Spitfire said looking squarely at Maggie, “there are plenty of folks who have just as much cyberware. She clearly knows they are people and not some constructed thing.”
“True,” Maggie continued, “so I’m thinking she could tell somehow that Marcus wasn’t in control.”
“That’s a big hypothesis,” Bob said. “Even if you’re right, that doesn’t help us deal with Grummish when he shows up.”
“Well dear,” Spitfire said as she reclined back, “perhaps we should call a cop.”
“Your answer is to involve the authorities?” Bob’s incredulous stare at Spitfire expressed his intense feelings on the matter.
“No, not all of them. Just one.”