Chapter 1905 Vulnerable
"He looks so vulnerable." Gloriana commented as she observed the macabre-looking operation from the observation room. "I understand now why he fears this operation so much. He's completely defenseless if anything goes wrong."
Ves had always been a proactive person to her. He liked to take action because he was often forced into situations where he needed to react.
For him to place himself at the mercy of others seemed uncharacteristic.
He was placing a lot of faith in his precautions and subordinates. Though his preparations seemed excessive, there was still a chance that something might go wrong.
"I won't let anything happen." Gloriana whispered to herself. "Ves needs to make it through!"
For the operation, it was better if the patient was as inactive and dormant as possible. This was because the bioimplant had to root inside the brain tissue and form active new connections.
This delicate and extremely precarious step could easily go wrong if the wrong wires got plugged in the wrong sockets!
With Ves seemingly out cold, his brain activity had dropped at an unusually low level, but that was not entirely bad. While this made it a little bit more difficult to identify which parts of his brain was responsible for a specific function, Ranya and Lupo had already performed this task beforehand.
With the relatively low levels of brain activity, it became a bit easier to forge a smooth connection and determine whether it functioned properly.
A mind that was inactive also produced less clutter, thereby providing their scanners with a clear view of what went on in the patient's mind.
The surgery began shortly after the surgeons confirmed that Ves was out for at least a while.
The Ylvainan implant surgeons cooperated smoothly with Dr. Lupo and Dr. Ranya.
Though they were older and more experienced, Ranya insisted on taking the lead this time.
"Let her take charge." Gloriana commanded after she patched into a channel. "Ranya is better trained and can fully utilize all of the tools and machinery at her disposal."
She trusted Ranya to do right by Ves and turn her boyfriend into a much more productive mech designer!
"Hihihi! I can't wait to design a mech with the new Ves! With his new implant, he can partially digitize his mind. I can form a connection with him with my own implant!"
This would negate the need for speech as they could just transfer a lot of data to each other without the need to package it. This would doubtlessly push their collaboration to the next level!
Melody, who stood behind her, tutted her voice. "The Archimedes Rubal implant is quite formidable, especially when it comes to data storage. Has it not come to your attention that Ves has decided to go through with the surgery because of you? He is very concerned about the possibility that you will overtake him. With this new implant, he might be able to even the score."
Gloriana smirked. "He can try. I've made some massive gains lately. As long as I process my gains and figure out what they mean to me, my upcoming designs will definitely be an evolution compared to my previous works!"
In fact, she preferred it if Ves became better. Only when he could keep up with her would Gloriana be able to design the best mechs!
His contribution was indispensable to her, so she was truly pleased that Ves worked hard to avoid falling behind.
While she would still love Ves even if his progress no longer matched her own, she would still feel disappointed. She partnered with Ves with the expectation that he would be able to stimulate her design philosophy and push her to greater heights.
She sighed. She really hoped nothing went wrong during the next couple of hours.
Clixie passed her paw through the projection that depicted the operation. Her furry limb passed through the table right next to the operating table where Lucky vigilantly guarded the surroundings.
"Do you want to go to Lucky?"
"We can't. You'd have to be put into a sterile suit and I know you hate that. Besides, you just need to wait a few hours before the surgery is done."
The Rubarthan Sentinel Cat's paw subsequently passed through Nitaa's projection.
Unlike before, her high-quality combat armor featured an attachment which held a very important object.
In order to guard his body against threats with a more spiritual nature, he insisted on keeping the Larkinson Mandate in the operation room!
Though none could see the Golden Cat barring Ves, the presence of the Larkinson Mandate in the room had a noticeable effect on the surgeons and nurses.
Each of them felt considerably more determined in trying to make this operation a success!
Gloriana frowned and wanted to look away when some implements managed to 'open up' her boyfriend's head. While various advanced machinery went to work in trying to keep it in a stable condition, she still didn't want her memories to be tainted by Ves in such a vulnerable state.
She didn't allow herself to look away. Ves was her boyfriend, and he could easily become something more. She owed it to him to witness his operation in person, if only to stay alert and intervene if something went amiss.
Of course, she knew that she likely wouldn't be needed to step in. Ves prepared so many security precautions and formed so many different contingency plans that almost every possibility had been taken into account!
More than an hour went by as the surgeons carefully prepared the patient's exposed brain for the implantation procedure. Gloriana didn't understand much of what Ranya and Lupo were doing with her boyfriend's head, but the assisting Ylvainan surgeons and nurses voiced no complaint, so they must be doing something right.
At some point, the implant was ready to be inserted in the brain.
This was the most important step of the operation, as the initial insertion and integration would determine how quickly Ves could assimilate the Archimedes Rubal and turn it into his own strength!
Anything that might go wrong at this stage would easily lead to complications that prolonged the recovery period.
If the complications were serious enough, then permanent brain damage or even brain death was a very real possibility!
Ranya and Lupo carefully worked together to control a delicate machine that slowly lowered the multi-layered bioimplant to the patient's cranium.
A lot of reactions started to take place. As the implant sank between Ves' brain tissue, the initial neural connections slowly took shape.
All of the implant surgeons carefully observed the projected sensor data and multispectrum scans for any anomalies and complications.
At the same time, the bioimplant began to sink deeper as it headed closer to the center of the brain.
In order to ensure that the Archimedes Rubal formed the best possible integration with Ves, it had to be set in a very specific portion of his brain!
Settling it in any other possible part would definitely degrade the implant's functionality. If this step was botched, then the implant might warp the patient's personality and cognition to the point where their friends and family wouldn't be able to recognize them anymore!
Though Gloriana didn't understand most the readings projected by the interfaces in the observation room, they all looked relatively stable.
Time passed by. As the implant started to settle in the right place, more and more connections formed between the exterior connectors of the implant and the brain.
Due to the Breyer alloy shell and Synthra Umbra sleeve enveloping the Archimedes Rubal, Ranya had to develop a special organic outer layer in order to ensure it would stay in place.
Various curled tubes that were enveloped by multiple different layers of materials extended from the implant from multiple directions. Their addition made the implant look like a very small and exotic octopus-like exobeast.
The unnerving bioconnectors extending from the tube started to bond with specific portions of brain tissue. Ranya and Lupo had to guide this process manually.
Fortunately, both of them proved very adept with this critical process. Gloriana slowly relaxed as no major complications had occurred as of yet.
While Ves wasn't exactly the easiest patient to integrate with an advanced implant, the surgeons were managing the operation with great care and expertise.
It was at this point that Dr. Lupo jerked his hand, thereby manipulating the controls to botch the integration process in a fatal fashion!
An alarm immediately swept the operation chamber while more alarms rang throughout the observation room and everywhere else!
"What is going on?!"
"Ves! Is Ves okay?!"
Nitaa and the other guards immediately brought their rifles to bear on the surgeons. Lucky instantly jumped from his perch and floated above Lupo's head, ready to slice it apart!
The Larkinson Mandate glowed as the Golden Cat sensed that something had gone awry!
No one moved except for Ranya who still needed to guide the integration process!
Even though she was forced to concentrate on her work, she still looked aghast at her fellow exobiologist!
"You! You could have killed him! How can you betray us? How can you betray your own employer?"
She was shocked because Ves should have definitely died or at least suffered serious damage to his brain!
This was because despite all of his precautions and despite all of the security measures, the implantation surgery still had to be done by hand!
All of the tools and equipment that Ranya brought from her ship only played an assisting function. She didn't own any surgery machines that could perform the operation by themselves without any human intervention.
This basically meant that Ranya and Lupo had full access to the patient's most important organ.
Even though there were safeguards in place meant to prevent accidental slips or harmful sabotage, they only kicked in when they recognized a serious threat!
Lupo, who familiarized with the machines and their rules of operation, neatly avoided tripping long enough until it was too late!
Ves should have suffered a nasty hole in his brain. Some brain tissue should have been damaged beyond repair, and the Archimedes Rubal's integration process should have encountered serious problems that couldn't be fixed!
Yet to everyone's astonishment, ever since Lupo started to jerk the controls, his body started to freeze.
An energy field surrounded his body that restricted his movements and forcibly kept him in place!
Even though he succeeded in his attempt to relay harmful instructions in the device he was controlling, it failed to execute his commands!
This wasn't supposed to happen! Lupo was supposed to have direct control over the device due to the need to react spontaneously if any critical complications arose!
The safeguards should have kicked in half a second later at the very least!
"Are you surprised your sabotage failed to kick off?"
A shimmering form appeared into existence behind Dr. Lupo.
Calabast, garbed in an infiltrator suit, pointed an unknown device at the exobiologist and culinary enthusiast!
Despite all of the anti-stealth scanners installed throughout the perimeter and interior of the underground facility, Calabast's hidden presence went completely unnoticed!
Well, all but a couple of cats failed to detect her presence!
"This was why I was here. Thank you for keeping my presence quiet, Lucky."
"Ves should be okay. I was keeping my eye on Lupo Guernica for the entire time. I suspected that he might have some issue, and it turned out that I was right!"
She pressed a button on her device, allowing Lupo to gain enough control to speak.
"I failed." He spoke flatly, not even bothering to deny that he showed ill intent.
"You did. Would you like to tell us why?"
Dr. Lupo smiled ruefully. "I have no excuses, only regrets. I know my fate is sealed. I'll be going now. Enjoy your impending defeat!"
His body suddenly went limp as if it lost all life!
Before Calabast and everyone else had time to process his abrupt death, a second alarm began to ring!
The guards shifted in their combat armor as they all received urgent transmissions.
"We are under attack!" Nitaa announced! "Thousands of mercenaries have emerged from hiding to launch an attack on our positions! Some of them are even fielding second-class mechs!"
Calabast looked surprised. "That's not possible! What of the Ylvainans?!"
Nitaa looked grim. "There is a total communication lockdown. The Kronon Dynasty and the other Ylvainan forces have shown no signs of stopping the incoming mercenaries. In fact, the local Ylvainan forces are actually forming a blockade around our forces."
A look of realization appeared on her face. "We have been betrayed."