z
  • Home

Young Writers Society


16+

​Chapter 3 Million Dollar Man

by Irishpride13


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."


Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
123 Reviews

Points: 32892
Reviews: 123

Donate
Sat Dec 30, 2023 12:47 pm
PKMichelle wrote a review...



Hello friend!
Happy Review Day! I saw your work had been waiting in the Green Room for a while and figured I’d check it out.


Per my interpretation, this was another great chapter; however, I feel like there were some plot holes, but I'll get into that later. This was less action-packed than the last chapter, but nonetheless, it still offered a thrilling experience!

The captain is talking to Legion, trying to make sense of everything it is saying to him, but he still feels uncomfortable with the current situation. James found himself facing potentially life-altering surgery in the name of human advancements, and he wasn't too sure how to feel about it. But when it came down to it, after wrestling with his thoughts, James agreed to do the surgery.

This showed a lot about James' character as well as what the future chapters might hold, and it did it in a very creative way!


If I could offer any sort of advice, it would be related to a perceived plot hole. Coming into this, I kind of expected it to pick back up on the escape pod after the crash with James being unconscious, but instead James was completely conscious and talking to Legion instead.

I feel like there's some missing information in there that could be added to clear that up. So, maybe just adding some details, or maybe even another chapter between the second and third ones to show what happened.

But, obviously, this is just a suggestion, and it's always up to the writer, so please take this criticism lightly and know that I mean nothing negative by it—only trying to provide a somewhat useful critique.


If I had to pick my favorite part, just like last time, there would be three! I found a few things in here that really stood out to me!

The first was, once again, the jargon. I just have to bring it up because I find it really impressive, especially when you said,

The Casimir device operates on principles somewhat similar to Van der Waals forces.


I'm not too sure what that means, but I know I've heard of Van der Waals forces and that it's a fancy physics thing. I just find it really interesting how this is science fiction but still so connected to reality. It's quite striking to read as a reader, so good job with the jargon!

The second thing I really enjoyed was the way you showed James' intelligence, especially when you said,

His frustration grew as he struggled to connect the advanced concepts to his practical knowledge.


Even though he can't make the connections, the fact that he wants to be able to is really telling of his character and how smart he actually is. It also makes sense as to why he's captain. If he gets frustrated about not understanding that, I'm sure he goes to great lengths to make sure he understands everything on the ship, which in turn would make him a great captain.

The final thing in this chapter that I really liked was the way you showed James' anxiety with the surgery and how he overcame it. You said,

With a measured breath, James let the promise of what he might achieve with these enhancements temper the edge of his anxiety.


I found it really interesting the way James was more focused on what he might be capable of than how it may affect him negatively. This sort of goes to show his intelligence again, in the sense that he can think about things other than himself. This line also feels a bit foreshadowy, which I really like. It raises the question, "How might this alter the direction of this novel?" And it does it in a really creative way, so good job with that!


Overall, this was once again a great chapter, but this time, there was some information missing that I wished could have been added. Maybe it'll be in the next chapter, which I am excited to check out!

Thank you for taking the time to write and post this, and I hope this review is of some use to you!


Goodbye for now! I hope you have a magnificent day (or night) wherever you are!




User avatar
12 Reviews

Points: 1389
Reviews: 12

Donate
Thu Nov 09, 2023 4:15 pm
Wors6ip wrote a review...



Hello hello! I hope you're having a good day/night.

To start this off, I'm going to mention on big critique for this chapter. I'm going to be pasting it down below to make my explanation easier.

Fine, be cryptic," James responded with annoyance. He wanted to know more about the Casimir power device but was met with Legion's diversion.

"The Cosmere power device," she began, "harvests energy from the vacuum when in space, working alongside an energy cascade device. The Casimir device operates on principles somewhat similar to Van der Waals forces."

James, utterly baffled by her explanation, struggled to keep up with the theoretical physics she was delving into. Despite his best efforts to maintain his composure, he eventually gave in, admitting, "Okay, oh, yeah, I don't understand any of that science stuff. My background is in ship engineering, focusing on understanding structural weaknesses, g-forces, and the limitations for space combat."

James couldn't hide his annoyance as he pressed for more information. "Fine, be cryptic. So what's so special about this Casimir power device?" His impatience was clear in his tone.

Legion, the AI, saw an opportunity to divert the conversation from James's irritation. "The Casimir power device," she began, "harvests energy from the vacuum when in space. It works in conjunction with an energy cascade device. The Casimir device operates on principles somewhat similar to Van der Waals forces."

As Legion delved into the details, explaining the device's functionality and the theoretical physics behind it, James felt completely dumbfounded. Her words seemed like a foreign language to him, a realm of science that was far removed from his expertise in practical matters like ship engineering, structural weaknesses, and the harsh realities of space combat.

He tried to maintain a composed facade, nodding at intervals and offering half-hearted responses like, "Okay, oh, yeah." However, it soon became evident that he was out of his depth. Frustration mounting, he eventually admitted defeat with a sheepish grin. "Yeah, I don't understand any of that science stuff. My background is in ship engineering, you know, dealing with structural weaknesses, g-forces, and the practical limitations for space combat."

It appears that you essentially rewrote the first three paragraphs again, causing a repeat that really threw me off for a second before I realized what it was. Both the first and the second halves are written just fine, I would just really recommend removing one of them. Again, they're both good and get the same point across, so it really just comes down to your preference.

As for the plot of this chapter, it really has me uneasy. The surgery James needs to go through sounds absolutely terrifying and I don't think I would be up for it. Speaking of James, that man is a trooper! Very rarely do you see someone survive a gunshot to the head, and while I'm certain the recovery process was rough, he seems to be doing fine now given the circumstances. However, I am scared for him and all of the bad things that could happen while he's under the knife. I don't 100% trust Legion yet, she just seems way too comforting and understanding so right off the bat. I'm getting the vibes that she some has some other intentions at play. This paragraph doesn't help much either:
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."

That last sentence raises a lot of suspicion for me. It seems so eerie, like she's buttering him up and letting his guard down before the true plan comes into action. I hope I'm wrong.

All in all, this chapter really has me enjoying James' character. He's gone through so much and to still be the man he is is admirable. The hesitance and questioning he had regarding the surgery at first was very realistic (I mean, no one wants to have their head cut open) and the ending leaves the door open for him and Legion's bond, which I'm hoping doesn't get ruined.

Happy writing!




Irishpride13 says...


i am reworking it now and thank you for pointing that out the




Find wonder in the everyday, find everyday language to articulate it.
— Maurice Manning