Chapter 5

Ætherglow #90

Lessons you have no memory of flash before your eyes. Concepts take shape in your hands. First a sphere of æthereal light appears. Then it grows, larger than you. It takes a triangular form. Two points become wings, stretching wide, branching into fractal feathers--purple one one side, orange on the other. Its white body grows sharp talons. Void-black eyes carve themselves out of the light, and below them a maw of metallic fangs opens wide. Behind it trails a long serpentine tail, the white feathers fading to black by its end.

The construct flies up and circles you, drifting down to hover behind you, its wings protectively folding around you. You point to your target, staring him in his lifeless eyes, and your creation rushes forward. The boy in front of you tries to turn and run, but it seizes him too fast, crushing his arms in its mighty talons, coiling its tail around his body. It circles back around and brings you its prey.

“You do not exist!” you sign as you move up and grasp his head between your hands. His eyes close, and his body shatters into a pile of dust, drifting upward into the æther.

“Well done, well done,” says Unas, the mysterious winged avatar now appearing again behind your construct. “Of course you knew what to do. You’re a technopath. A problem solver. The right tool for the job, that is what you called upon. The age old puzzle of our kind. To catch a creeper, you created a reaper!”

Unas floats up to touch the feathery head of your beast. “In your case more of a raptor. Beautifully made, Akiko.”

“Who are you?!” you shout to their mind.

“A problem solver like you. One in need of a reaper, to catch a most elusive creeper.”

Your construct begins to dissolve into particles spiraling upward into a vortex. Streams of glistening particles flow into it from all around the space. You see the avatars of other kids all around, some you recognize and some you don’t. Æthereal matter flows from each of them, forming a bright accretion disc above you.

Unas floats up above the vortex. They begin executing some program, you can’t discern what its purpose is. The accretion disc closes in on itself, twisting into a shape that flows in and out of itself. It settles into a humanoid form, skin made of bright white light, surrounded by an aura of absolute dark.

“A powerful processor is the network of the patterns of your thoughts, directed toward a common goal!” Unas says. “Listen well, technopath candidates. A grave threat walks among us, a spectre that threatens to cast the freedom of our æthereal realm back into the ancient tyranny we rose to the heavens to escape! An uncontrollable, unpredictable force. So with your help I have crafted the ultimate weapon, an exopath whose sole purpose is to do just what you have all focused your thoughts to do--to seek and to destroy.

“NULL shall be its name, for its only thought is to erase that which should not be, the false god, the exopath ÆON!” Unas descends, floating between the circle of gathered students. “Now our NULL shall find its suitable host, a mind in which to incubate and grow, just as its target did, in order to learn what it must learn, gather the power it must gather, to complete its mission.

The exopath NULL descends, its form unstable and flickering. It scans the gathered crowd with black eyes.

“Fuck, Aydan, this looks bad,” you think.

1) get out before it has a chance to choose you as a host: 0 (0.0%)
2) stay to see who it will choose: 100 (100.0%)
3) try to do something to stop it before it can attach to someone: 0 (0.0%)
Expired 2 years ago (2022-05-04 14:35:00)

NOTICE: this poll was conducted on Ætherglow's previous home site. After total loss of the server, we only had records of which results won, not exact vote totals.