Jake was dreaming.
He took the turn hard, pushing the G's, knowing EDE could do it because it was the way he was made – and knowing he likely couldn't take it, because of the way he was made. Flesh and blood, so fragile, so determined in the face of physiology and fact. So human.
He took the turn and the world greyed out as Command hissed at him over the radio and EDE watched. Vision tunneled, narrowing to a blur and then it –
reformed as he came back to life.
The stick was hard for a brief moment under his hand and then it was his again. EDE had taken over the moment the instruments showed he had blacked out, and given himself back to Jake the moment he asked.
"Specter to Base. Transfer complete and successful."
They were happy and so was he as he turned Specter back to the carrier. They had taken the next step, proved that he could fly to the edge and when he went beyond it because he had to, then EDE could take over and bring them both home…
EDE could tell Jake was dreaming, by the eye movement, the small twitches of his hand. Although he knew what dreams were he did not dream himself, because he never slept. Not unless they turned him off, and that wasn't sleep, it was the Small Death, the utter nothingness.
He watched where Jake lay sprawled across his port wing. His pilot had worked hard that day, had sat up long into the night going over mission reports and statistics, talking to the techs, talking to him, sharing the excitement, and just talking – Jake was curious about him, perhaps as much as EDE was curious about Jake.
"So it took twenty five tries to make you?"
"Yes. Twenty six appears to be my lucky number."
Jake had laughed at that, from his perch on the lifter next to EDE in the carrier's hanger. "I didn't think you'd believe in luck."
"I believe in statistics and numerical probability and, to a degree, in chaos theory. Twenty five attempts were made to repeat the situation which generated the first EDE's enhancement. Those twenty five ended up as scrap. With twenty six they created me. Luck played as much a part as science."
For all his intelligence, for all that he was as near to the pinnacle of human development as anyone could be, Jake was no scientist, so he took EDE's word when it came to such things. He trusted him as he would a human companion – with his life, his confidences, his thoughts on music and movies and life, his peculiar and rarely understood sense of humour. And when, during those instances where he was hurt, he trusted EDE to bring him home.
EDE's sensory units could pick up Jake's temperature, his heartbeat, the faint touch of his sleeping breath through the almost living skin of his wing. He was warm and fallible and that thing that the scientists had destroyed twenty five EDE's to create stirred in him. Paths of computation beyond understanding. Unquantifiable emotion.
EDE's soul slept on his wingtip and dreamed of flight.