Perhaps the Consortium's most notorious (and disturbing) attribute is their policy of systematically replacing their ranks with enemy prisoners of war, as well as civilians, pirates, slavers, any any other non-allied organism which can serve a practical purpose, and can be controlled by Consortium assimilation methods.
Assimilation and Augmentation
While practically speaking, almost any human (Save infants who have yet to develop, those with severe brain damage, or those who have been altered by Exogen infestation) can be taken under Consortium control. As the implantation modifies the Neurons themselves, no amount of human free will can preclude the installation. However, not all Humans are of use to the Consortium as augmentees. Humans that have not fully grown would create problems with installation of hardware, both due to lack of brain development and physical growth interfering with installed hardware (As well as numerous sociological hostility that would arise from non-augmented allied individuals, which would create further problems). Elderly humans nearing the end of their lives usually have significant health problems and tend to lose bone strength and muscle density, and often develop other neurological issues, which also precludes their viability.
While some levels of brain damage can be repaired, and memories replaced, there are certain limits beyond which even Consortium nanomedicine cannot repair. Humans who have been damaged by oxygen deprivation or severe blunt-force trauma may not be viable to repair. Exposure to hard vacuum can also cause irreparable damage to both the brain and the human body. If a human is killed or dies, and their body remains intact, their brains quickly decay and become nonviable for use. Even if their body can be re-activated, their consciousness will not, effectively making them useless vegetables. Augmentation procedures build off of existing consciousness and intellect; they do not replace or create any.
Physical disabilities such as missing or damaged limbs or organs, diseases, or other damage which does not damage the brain can be repaired. Limbs can be easily removed and replaced with mechanical or synthetic prosthetics. Depending on how the human in question is to be used, these may be copies of normal appendages, or more useful hardware such as integrated weaponry, magnetic grapplers, computer interface equipment, mobility enhancements, or other hardware. The same logic applies to organ replacement, however given the complexity of the Human body, artificial replacements may or may not be as efficient or effective as their natural counterparts. Some organs, such as those used for reproduction, nutrient absorption, and energy distribution are impossible to replace.
Most humans selected for military use are between the ages of 16 and 50 (Individuals below this age are, for diplomatic reasons, given to the GC in the condition they were received, as are any parents or guardians), and are either drawn from enemy prisoners of war or Civilians who have been captured and interned. Individuals undergo thorough background checks and their skills and origins are evaluated to determine their use within the Consortium's ranks. Humans that have undergone severe physical damage or mental trauma may require prosthetics and reconstructive surgery or additional memory replacement respectively. After classification, personnel are either sent directly to Augmentation facilities or kept in Cryo-Stasis until ready.
Once the humans have been classified according to Age, Weight, and Identified Skill levels, they are transported to one of the Consortium's Augmentation facilities. The procedure is almost entirely automated, with Personnel only present for security, maintenance, and oversight. The Human to be augmented is restrained on a bed, and given an injection by large hypodermic needles, and may be conscious during the procedure. The injection is a temporary relaxing agent, which restricts muscle movement. While different levels of augmentation have different procedures of operation, the Neurocyte implantation remains the same regardless, and usually takes place after any physical modification.
Often, the Consortium will take the quickest and simplest augmentation methods, with little or no prosthetics or hardware aside from the Neurocyte, Jacks, and Enhanced Awareness Unit. Otherwise, the augmentee remains human. It is usually cheaper and more efficient to leave the bulk of Consortium forces with a minimal level of enhancement, as the Human body, despite its lack of physical resilience, is an efficient machine nonetheless. Most Consortium pilots, footsoldiers, ship crew, noncombat personnel, and covert-ops are given this level of augmentation. The latter due to the fact that the small brain implants and hardware would only be detectable under an intensive medical scan, and even then could be passed off as expanded neural-net hardware, identifiable as otherwise only to the most knowledgeable of professionals.
After Neurocyte implantation, the individual is anesthetized and surgery is done to install the Interface jacks and EAU package into the base of the skull, with the Jacks present on the back of the neck, usually disguised as normal tissue. These allow several types or adapter cables to be connected directly to the brain via the Neurocyte. Nanite injections quickly repair and seal any damaged tissue or bone structure, and the newly augmented human undergoes memory replacement therapy. As well, conditioning restrictors are also inserted into the brain in a similar fashion to the Neurocyte. These are primarily emotional controllers, which restrict responses based on emotional impulse (some more than others). They are triggered by adrenaline and neural thought patterns, and when active, increase the ability of the host to think logically and rationally even under the most stressful or confusing circumstances. However, when inactive, the human's emotions are unaffected (this is mainly due to certain stimuli, such as reproduction and interaction with non-consortium personnel, which require a user to be able to -feel- emotionally.)
This memory replacement consists of harsh subliminal messaging, using both the neurocyte and other senses to transmit information to the Brain, and Audio and Visual signals to ensure full effect. The result usually ensures that the host's neural presets are overridden, and that they are no longer capable of acting on Emotional impulses. However, they are not incapable of feeling emotion, and are still capable of love, compassion, anger, pride, fear, etc, as these are necessary to stimulate and trigger certain responses and thought processes. The memory replacement also acts as instructional and tutorial routines for individuals who require specialised education. For example, this allows individuals with little or no military background to serve as Consortium tactical units.
In other cases, individuals may undergo more extensive prosthesis, or have critical or terminal injuries repaired during the augmentation process. All of the steps are the same as basic Augmentation, save that the EAU-NJ installation also includes control hardware for new mechanical components. Installation of these components occurs immediately prior to this surgery, and are usually conducted without anaesthetics (although injections of steroids or emergency life support may be used in the case of heavily damaged or invasive surgeries). Synthetic components are usually linked directly to the host's existing nervous system, while mechanics are wirelessly controlled. Due to the organic nature of the optronic hardware, it is not affected by EMP.