The Contradictory Nature of Sebastian Moran

A brief analysis hoping to better illuminate the nature of an Engine Human, to discover just how much is organic and how much is mechanical.

Moran is an Engine Human*, previously a wholly organic, female human, who has been modified. The exact, factual details of this modification are unknown, other than a number of organs (brain, heart, skin, eyes) have been removed entirely and replaced with substitutes. However, some parts of her were not removed, namely the lips, tongue, and reproductive organs (the labia, clitoris, and cervix are confirmed to be there, though whether this expands to having her womb intact is never known). The procedure was likely performed without anesthesia, as she must have been conscious enough to choose her eye color.

Having after undergone the transfer from human to Engine Human, Moran displays a number of abilities which would be impossible for normal humans: going without sleep for years, food and water being unnecessary to sustain herself, being able to survive wounds which would otherwise prove fatal. It’s safe to assume she is no longer human, at least in the physical sense, although she still retains the requisite mental and emotional capacity. However, the purpose of this paper isn’t to argue her humanity; it’s to hopefully shed light on just what are the components of an Engine Human. Sakurai gives a number of textual examples, but they are contradictory in a number of ways.

Moran’s Past

A long time ago, it was when I first saw him. I met him, yes, at the edge of Eastern Europe. I was sitting all alone in the darkness. Was that ten years ago? Twenty years ago? The memories stuck to my emotion circuit mix with the information stored in my memory circuit. Before I was called Moran. Back when I didn’t know his name.

Colonel. Before I snuck into the army as a commissioned officer. Before I went to serve in the Indian conflict. My past, when I was once definitely human. My past which should already be meaningless. However, it is definitely the source of the current “me”. The source of the “abnormality” making my emotion circuit grate. The reason my master is my master. Programmed orders? No, not that. I chose my master of my own free will. I was transformed into Engine Machines, and filled with tactical knowledge surpassing the most hardened soldiers. For the abyss of the Society and my master, I became part of the enormous information network, System Wallace, which made all information its own.

Before all that, long, long before any of that. I chose him.

A small town being destroyed at the edge of Eastern Europe. In an alleyway, a slum, a poor area. Call it whatever you want. A place where virtuous people never laid eyes on. A place where the poor, the starving, all the people who’d been driven mad simply had to accept the malice thrown at them. There, I suffered, I gasped. Before I was given the name of Moran.

I took a hand that was held out to me. Yours.
-Act 9, Sharnoth of the Deepest Black

“How many women’s bodies* have you had?”

“This is the second. The first was destroyed by the Machine Lord.”
-Act 2, The King of Smoldering Ruins: Part 2

“Moran, I have a question. When did I find you?”

“I no longer have accurate records, but I’ve undergone at least five conversions. It was at least ten years ago, my master.”
-Act 9, Sharnoth of the Deepest Black

“I’m Sebas. Sebastian M. The fifth Engine Human to serve my master.”
-The Ashen Funeral of Nyhargo: Part 2

Moran is shown to have inaccurate records of time, fluctuating between ten and twenty years of serving M, and also being unsure how many times she has transferred bodies. Because of this, I chose to believe the words of the most dependable version of Moran, being the newest and still accumulating the previous version’s memories into her new body, and thus, the most reliable without those faulty memories swaying her judgement. So, by her word, by the time the epilogue has come about, Moran has had six bodies, four female in total, including her original body. This isn’t terribly important to the topic at hand, but it’s worth taking note.

Inconsistences and Inaccuracies

Moran’s artificial skin is covering steel “muscles”, which contain essential circuits and wires (in comparison to veins and arteries). She is shown to be incapable of bleeding, and any “tears” she sheds are comprised of coolant. Whether she has any actual organs is ambiguous, as she no longer needs an esophagus, a stomach, or intestines to digest food with, nor kidneys, nor a bladder to hold urine in. A heart, lungs, and trachea seem equally unlikely, as she assumedly has no need for oxygen, nor any dependency on blood pumping through her body. Despite this, there are examples of inconsistent passages, which state that Moran does, in fact, possess such organs.

Her body wouldn’t be affected by it [the smoke] anyway. She barely had any organic parts left. Even the chemical in her blood vessels delivering oxygen to her brain was artificial.
-Act 9, Sharnoth of the Deepest Black

This mention of blood specifically contradicts a scene in Act 10, when Moran sustains major injuries, including multiple bullet wounds and the loss of her arm. She doesn’t bleed a drop, and from what is seen of the remains of her arm, it’s only circuits and machinery. Even if oil is a substitute for blood, there is still nothing produced from the wound.

First she had to stop the flow of blood. However, there was no blood flowing. There was no red in the open wound of her broken left arm. Just the faint smell of Engine oil. Nothing was flowing out of it.
-Act 10, At the Water’s Edge: End of the World

Although it’s known that Moran can transfer into new bodies, there is another instance, where it is implied that such switching is done rather casually, despite the high amount of importance she designates on her fourth body. If she can do so at her convenience, why did she not simply allow for Mary to escape, and instead be bait for O’Neal at the confrontation at The Ritz hotel? It doesn’t seem to matter which body she activates the Zothique Equation with, just as long as she does activate it. A more understandable alternative is that it seems unlikely that the transfer is as simple as the fifth version of Moran describes it as, and only in the event of her current body being entirely destroyed, could a full transition take place.

“I can’t leave you here. Even you would get hurt if they hit you.”

“It’s not a problem.”

“How could it not be!”

“No. Yes. I have a spare body. Your safety is more important, Mary Clarissa Christie.”
-The Ashen Funeral of Nyhargo: Part 2

With insufficient evidence, no solid conclusion can be drawn without making assumptions, and unreliable information is the last thing I would want to encourage, given how vague it already is. Moran’s exact nature will perhaps never be known, and considering Shikkoku no Sharnoth entails a world of Shadow Men, Banshees, artificial humans and Lovecraftian monsters, to try and apply reasonable logic to their fantastic inhabitants is perhaps too much to hope for.

*For further clarification, within this context Engine Human, Engine Machine, and Engine Doll are interchangeable terms.
**The term M uses for “bodies” is 機体, which refers to a mechanical device. So the two bodies Moran mentions are Engine Human bodies, not counting her original body.

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