Pirates. Of course there would be pirates. And a lot of them. Kozimer isn't technically holding anything of value, but his ship is unfortunately advanced and very desirable.
The realization that it also holds the brain of the most AI system there is sends a cold finger of dread crawling down Kozimer's spine. James as he is, is technically useless. He's willful and stubborn and has a habit of not taking orders while doing what he wants.
But he's capable of hacking into anything that he comes across, has shown the ability to take over ship processes, and can control hardware on the ship.
With a few wipes and reboots...if they completely erased his personality...
Kozimer shudders violently and tries to pull himself up. There are four bodies around him, but there happened to be seven pirates and it only took one putting a piece of shrapnel between Kozimer's ribs to bring him down. He wheezes and tries not to cough up blood as he glares at the three pirates plotting nearby.
"There isn't....isn't anything here-"
"Pipe down," a particularly large pirate growls, "we already know you're hiding someone. Now go and bleed out quietly."
"Wh-...what?" He croaks. James is thankfully silent. Though this is probably thanks to the quick override Kozimer did that threw the AI into standby mode. He couldn't let them find James, couldn't let them try and take him.
He is certainly going to get yelled at later for that, if he survives this. That is looking less and less likely though, he thinks, as he coughs wetly. "There isn't-"
"I said shut up! We've got the damn reading on our scanner so you can stop tryin to hide em!." The pirate turns to his companion whose scowling intently at a small screen. "Well?? Where're they hidin? This bastard's denying it so I'm thinkin it's someone important."
Pirate three cackles and looks over at the scanner. "Ah! Gottem! Cargo bay. The shit's probably trying to hide in the supplies."
Kozimer frowns, feeling lightheaded, and he's sure he's missing something here. "But..."
"Look, if y'aint bled out by the time we get your friend then we're just gonna put a shot through your skull anyway, so best sit nicely and go to sleep like a good bastard."
The three laugh like the man just told a particularly good joke and stride out. Kozimer falls back against the wall, wincing as he clutches at the piece of metal sticking out of his side. He can feel his own blood pulsing out between his fingers, slick and hot and if he had enough energy he'd feel sick.
"I can't believe I'm getting killed by pirates." He mutters. There's a blaring sound, pounding against his head and it takes him a few minutes to recognize that it's an alarm. The ship's actual AI comes on, the monotonous and generic female voice is garish after so many months of James's cheerful teasing.
"Warning, evacuate cargo. Warning, life support lost in cargo bay. Evacuate immediately."
He blinks slowly, trying to think past the thick fog in his brain. "Wha-"
"Stop, ok just stop um, ok stop what you're doing I have the med droid on the way ok, Koz?" James, that is definitely James's voice. And It's definitely preferable to that horrible tinny woman who-...and wait...
"How are you on?"
"Oh we are having a TALK about that later but right now just, you need to stop leaking ok?"
"It's called bleeding." Kozimer says distantly. He coughs again and groans when the metal shifts in him.
"You're broken and fluid is coming ok!" James is sounding close to panicked. He's getting very, very good at mimicking emotion. "That's leaking! And there's a lot and you need to stop ok you need to stop it because the med droid is on the way I swear Koz it'll be there soon."
"What-" Koz winces, seeing stars against the backs of his eyelids. "What happened to the pirates?"
"They're currently freezing to death because I cut off life support to the cargo bay they're locked in and who cares?"
"You killed them?" He should be more concerned by that then he is. Though he supposes that he killed four of them so James isn't all that bad.
"Yes I killed them! Who cares!?"
"Oh..." He needs to have a talk with James about casual killing. That's an important thing to establish. But he's having trouble remembering how words work and the room is slowly going black and grey.
"Hey hey no! No come on! Talk to me, the droid's almost there! Come on Koz! Um, what are we gonna do when we're done?"
He frowns, that's an odd question. "What?"
"The mission!" James's voice is higher than normal, and it's shaking oddly. "When you're done with it! I mean you can't leave me here, right? So what'll you do? Just tell me that until medical gets there ok?"
He hadn't really thought about that. He has grown so used to James's voice chattering at him that he hadn't thought about what he would do LATER. "I...I'll get you a body." Kozimer blinks, suprised at his own answer, but...now that he thinks about it.
Really that's the best plan.
"You'll what?" James's voice gets an odd hitch in it, like he's confused and doesn't really believe it. Can mimicry do that? But AI's only mimic...
"Get you a body." Koz repeats. His own voice is oddly wet sounding, it's coming out as a thin rasp and he's very, very glad that he's going numb. It's a lovely change from all the agony before.
"You mean like a robot?"
Kozimer takes a few minutes to process the question. "No. No, robots are r-rubbish. I mean there's..." He coughs, wincing, "there are bio-engineered bodies. Mostly used by the obscenely rich to give themselves a young new body to play in. It's a mix of robotic and biological, but works like a real body. I-It's v-very easy to download any system into one. Some people load AI's into them to use like a maid service." He has to pause to take a few deep breaths, biting down a sound when the shrapnel grinds against his ribs. "And fortunately for you, I have connections."
"Promise." His breath is a soaked rasp and he can see the room blurring. "I think I'm dying." He says casually.
"No! No you can't, you promised, ok! You can't shut down just stay on! Stay on, see! See, the droid is right there, you'll be ok!"
He's distantly aware of a whirring sound and the cool blast of the med-patch hitting him. "I probably....shouldn't make promises while I'm dying. Not...not my smartest move."
The last thing he hears before waking up days later in the medical bay is James's enraged "You are not dying! You can't!"
It's been nearly three days (give or take, time was difficult to track) since the pirate attack and Kozimer is about to go insane.
The wound in his side is mostly healed. The shrapnel and the force that had been used to put it through his side had broken a rib, dislocated another one, and punched right into his lung, but fortunately by the time he woke up most of that was taken care of. He was left to deal with the fatigue from blood loss and the sore ache in his side as his ribs finished stitching themselves back together.
He also has to deal with James.
"Are you alright? Did your rib fracture again? I saw you wince!"
Kozimer sighs and bites back another wince when the deep breath pulls at his side. "James, I'm fine."
James had been hovering, as much as a non-physical virtual being could hover, ever since Kozimer woke up. If Kozimer coughed, James was pulling up the data on the possibility of an infection. If he moved too much, James would explain in detail how easy it would be to dislocate his rib again. When he went to bed, he woke up with medical scanners running over him and an ongoing log of his vitals on the mainscreen.
It stopped being flattering by the second day.
"Are you sure? You should rest again. You lost a LOT of fluid and I've read that sleep is a great way to replenish-"
Kozimer slams a hand down on the console in front of him, "James!" He clenches his fist, takes a deep breath, tries to calm down and fails, "I appreciate the concern, really, but you're acting like an overbearing mother and I managed to get away from the original decades ago. I don't need a round two."
"Like a what?"
He groans and rubs at his temples, "Nevermind, that's not a conversation I feel like having right now."
"Oh, that's the female needed to make a new meatbag right?"
"Why can't you say 'organic' like all the other computers?"
"Stop changing the subject!" James snaps.
"Stop babying me!" Kozimer growls.
"If you actually took care-"
He's having an argument with his software. Again. A lot of people yell at their computer, it just usually doesn't yell back. "WHY are you so concerned about this all of a sudden? I'm getting better! There was hardly any blood anyway!"
"It was almost more than two pints!" James's voice nearly goes up an octave and Kozimer is outright impressed at how well James is using inflection, "You could have actually died!"
"I didn't die." Kozimer points out. "And I've had worse than that anyway. It's fine, James."
"No it's not!" James yells. "It's not fine!"
"You could die!" James talks over him, "Anything can kill you! Anything!"
"James you're exaggerating-"
"Am I!?" James's voice hitches again, it's an odd sound, since it has nothing to do with how James is breathing. "Right now you could get an infection from a drop of blood that got left in your lungs and you could die from that, you could move wrong and your rib could break and puncture your lung again making you choke before the droid could get to you! At any time you could fall and hit your head, or there could be a malfunction and an electrical fire, the mainboard could overheat and explode, did you know it could do that!? It could go off and take your head off or a couple limbs! Or some pebble sized rock could hit the ship and cause a minor breach that would crumple the whole thing! Did you know that there is one spot on the outside of the ship that, if hit right and barely punched through, would take out all the life support?!"
"And you keep visiting new planets with new diseases! Or someone could kill you like the pirates almost did! And they were so easy to kill, they froze within minutes, and that can happen to you!"
"And you could have a bad run in with a magnet!" Kozimer snarls, "So we're on even footing!"
"No we're not! You're stupidly breakable and you keep putting yourself in the way of things that can break you! I- I feel like I just need to-to lock you up in a padded room and make sure nothing happens!"
"James..." Kozimer says slowly, "if you do that then you're guaranteed to kill me."
"Hey! I could take care of you!"
Kozimer breathes in slowly, taps his fingers against each other while he thinks of how best to approach this. This...is going in a dangerous direction. He needs to find the best way to diffuse this without worrying about being kidnapped by an overprotective computer. "James, I'm sure you could do a splendid job. But I would die in there. I need this, I need to do things. Do you understand James?"
"What if I cut off all of your online access? I could lock you away in a hard drive and make sure no one could tamper with you. I could put you in standby like I did when the pirates came and then keep you there. I can't let anything happen to you, but I know that you wouldn't be able to handle being locked up."
"...that's why you put me on standby? Why would you be worried?"
Kozimer runs a hand over his face, he tries to remind himself that this is a computer. This is a line of code. He shouldn't have to be reassuring a program.
It gets more difficult to remember by the day.
"James, you are extraordinary. You're probably the most advanced piece of technology I've witnessed and I can't even take the credit, you practically wrote yourself. In the wrong hands you would be a terrible weapon, but to make you one they'd have to take out all the things that make you what you are. You're a stubborn, cheeky, willful and infuriating brat, and I can't let anyone try to change that.
"And I'm the only person you know, James." Kozimer continues with a sigh, "Technically I'm the only life you know. You're just over protective because you haven't seen anything else. It'll get better when you meet more people. You just need to see more of the universe and you'll stop worrying over just me so much. It'll get easier for you."
James goes quiet, absorbing the new bit of data, and Kozimer can hear the soft whirring of machinery as the AI processes. He stands up and stretches with a small groan at the pull in his side, feeling loose and worn out despite the lack of activity. "And you were right, I should be resting. I'm going to sleep for a bit, try not to shove any scanners in my face this time?"
James doesn't answer, he's still quiet as Kozimer goes to his bunk and settles in for a short nap. He's already half asleep when the AI finally says something again.
"I don't think it'll get easier for me."
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