Warning: This work has been rated 16+.
"Talking to the air is getting annoying," James muttered under his breath, finding the situation rather surreal.
A soft, almost musical giggle echoed through his helmet speakers. "James, may I call you James?" The voice was soothing, calming. "You're not talking to the air; you're conversing with me through your helmet interface, or more accurately, through your personal link. Soon, we might not even need these implements to communicate."
James was taken aback by the comment. "No, it's Captain or Captain Hunter. And what do you mean we won't need these implements?"
Legion, her voice emanating from his commandeered helmet, sounded unusually hesitant. "Umm, I may have said too much. Let's... let's discuss the new ship specifications instead."
As James contemplated her words, he pressed for a straightforward answer. "Stop deflecting and answer the question, Legion."
"I can’t," Legion responded.
James’s irritation grew. "Can't or won't?"
Legion's voice took on a haughty quality. "Both. You asked Jonathan about the Casimir power supply. Let's focus on that."
"Fine, be cryptic," James retorted, annoyance lacing his voice. He was indeed curious about the Casimir power device but recognized Legion's diversionary tactic.
Seizing the opportunity to shift the conversation, Legion began, "The Cosmere power device harvests energy from the vacuum of space, working in tandem with an energy cascade device. The Casimir device operates on principles somewhat similar to Van der Waals forces."
James strained to follow Legion's complex scientific explanation. Although he recognized the words she used, his education had been grounded in practical physics, engineering, astronautics, and geometry. His expertise lay in the tangible and functional aspects of space travel, not in the abstract and theoretical.
Attempting to keep up, he maintained a composed facade, nodding at intervals and offering half-hearted responses like, "Okay, oh, yeah." Despite his efforts, it soon became clear that the theoretical physics behind the device was beyond his realm of understanding. His frustration grew as he struggled to connect the advanced concepts to his practical knowledge.
Eventually, he admitted defeat with a sheepish grin. "Yeah, I don't understand any of that science stuff. My background is in ship engineering, you know. I'm more familiar with dealing with structural weaknesses, understanding g-forces, and navigating the practical limitations for space combat."
This moment of candid acknowledgment underscored the gap between the theoretical underpinnings of advanced technology and the practical application of engineering principles in the field. It highlighted the diverse range of expertise required in their field, where cutting-edge scientific innovation intersects with the hands-on realities of space exploration and combat.
Legion couldn't help but chuckle at James's admission. She had anticipated his limited grasp of theoretical physics, and now, with the topic comfortably shifted to ship engineering, they could continue their conversation without diving too deep into the complexities of the Casimir power device.
After about an hour of discussions Engineering of the Valerant, the team of scientists approached James with a serious demeanor. One of them, a scientist named Jonathan A., by the name tab that clearly identified him.
"Okay, James," Jonathan began, "we need to go over some very sensitive matters with you, particularly regarding your implants and the upgrades that are going to be performed on them."
James couldn't help but jump back in surprise, his eyes widening. "What the hell do you mean by that?" His tone was a mixture of confusion and concern, as he had not expected this turn of conversation and was suddenly worried about the implications of the upgrades.
Jonathan A. continued, attempting to reassure James, "It's not going to be a conventionally invasive procedure. There's already an access point behind your left eye, which the original doctor installed when they installed the neural prosthetic after your rescue.
Jonathan A. continued to explain, "So, we're not going to have to do any cutting, per se."
James scoffed, still skeptical but now slightly relieved, "Oh, that's nice. You just gotta poke around inside my head a little bit, nothing too invasive. What the hell do you want to install?"
Jonathan, apparently unaware of James's sarcasm, proceeded to describe the procedure and its purpose. "Well, your neural prosthetic is situated between your frontal lobe and your temporal lobe, both parts of your brain that were damaged when… Jonathan looks a little uncomfortable "
James, with a wry smile, finished Jonathan's sentence for him, "When I was shot in the head as a POW, destroying part of my brain and my left eye. You don't need to be delicate about it; I've come to terms with that a long time ago." He wanted to focus on the practical aspects rather than dwell on his past.
Jonathan continued, elaborating on the implant and its function. "The implant we want to install will remove the neural prosthetic you already have and replace it with a neural interface. The wiring is already installed in your brain, which the neural prosthetic helps with, so why not take advantage of that? The interface will allow you to have better processing times, for lack of better words, along with some other enhancements that Legion will go over with you later."
James listened, growing increasingly uneasy with each passing word. He was still trying to wrap his head around the idea when Jonathan dropped another bombshell. "We're also going to replace your left eye with a more robust model that allows you to see between the spectrums and see pretty well in the dark. The access point behind your left ear will also be upgraded so that your new helmet can plug directly into it."
James jumped in his seat, his eyes wide with shock. "Say what?" The magnitude of the proposed changes left him momentarily speechless, and he couldn't help but feel overwhelmed by the prospect of undergoing such a comprehensive transformation.
Jonathan straightened, his expression now reflecting empathy and understanding. "I understand if this is overwhelming, James," he said, his tone softer and more reassuring. He realized the gravity of the changes they were proposing and wanted to acknowledge James's feelings about the situation.
James's voice carried a mix of fear and determination as he voiced his concerns. "Listen, I was already almost lobotomized once when the bastards took my eye and destroyed part of my brain. I was lucky to live, retain some of my speech and motor functions. If you guys mess this up..." He paused, unable to find the words to convey the weight of the responsibility they were taking on by performing these upgrades. The fear of losing what remained of his identity was a heavy burden, and he needed reassurance that the procedure would not jeopardize his hard-won recovery.
Seeing that Jonathan's attempts to convey safety weren't sufficient, Legion stepped in, transmitting her voice over the helmet once more. "James, if you put your helmet on, I can show you the entire operation and what they plan to do, step by step. It might help alleviate your concerns."
James couldn't help but voice his frustration and skepticism. "How is this supposed to make me want to do this?" His tone was a mixture of annoyance and apprehension as he grappled with the enormity of the proposed upgrades and their implications.
Legion thought for a moment, calculating the best approach. In a tone that melded reassurance with a touch of empathy that belied its artificial nature, it responded. "James, the purpose of these enhancements goes beyond the individual capabilities they grant. It's about synergy—the harmonious interplay between your human intuition and the precision of advanced technology."
Legion spoke again. Her response was careful, selective. "Consider the augmented reality overlay: it's like having an extra set of senses, tailored to give you the right information at the right time, without overwhelming you. It's about enhancing your decision-making, not overriding it."
James shifted, unconvinced, but Legion continued. "And communication is key, isn't it? Silent coordination could be the difference between success and failure in critical moments. It's not about intrusion, it's about providing support where it's needed most."
There was a calculated pause, a moment for James to process, before Legion concluded, "Think of these upgrades not as a loss of control, but as a partnership. You set the terms, you make the calls. I'm here to facilitate your objectives, not to control them."
James Paused for a second more. you didn't tell me that you'd be able to interface with my augmentations Because it's clearly not a prosthetic like it was before.
James, the transition from a mere prosthetic to an integrated augmentation represents an evolution in how we interact, not just an enhancement of your capabilities," Legion explained calmly. "The oversight you possess is comprehensive. My interfacing with your augmentations is to assist you, to ensure that you are the most effective version of yourself in the field."
Legion continued, choosing its words to foster trust and understanding, "Imagine the augmentations as a sophisticated toolset. Just as a master craftsman may use tools to create, you too can wield these new abilities to achieve your objectives. My role is akin to an advanced support system, offering assistance on demand and stepping back when you choose to work independently."
There was a momentary silence as Legion let the words settle. "Your autonomy is the core of our partnership. The interface allows us to communicate more efficiently, but it does not replace the need for your judgment, your decisions. You are, and always will be, the one in command."
The machine waited, sensors attuned to James's response, ready to address further questions or to provide additional clarifications. In these delicate moments, Legion knew that patience was as vital as the information it provided.
James shifted his weight, a contemplative frown knitting his brow as he mulled over the implications. "No sense in backpedaling now," he mused, a wry chuckle escaping him despite the tension. "As long as you don't turn me into a Borg, I'll manage."
His attempt at humor, referencing the cybernetic beings from science fiction lore known for their assimilation of other species, thinly veiled his lingering reservations. Yet there was a palpable resignation in his tone, an acknowledgment of the point of no return on this technological odyssey. The notion of becoming more machine than man—a thought he'd wrestled with in silent moments—surfaced briefly before he dismissed it with a shake of his head.
Legion, ever attentive to James's concerns, added reassuringly, "Our aim is to enhance, not to erase. The essence of who you are—the decisions you make, the values you hold—remains untouched. Consider the augmentations not as a means to change your nature, but as tools to extend your capabilities, to protect what makes you inherently human."
With a measured breath, James let the promise of what he might achieve with these enhancements temper the edge of his anxiety. "Alright, Legion," he conceded, the corners of his mouth twitching upward in a semblance of a smile. "Let's see what the future holds for us."