Chapter 1

Ætherglow #18

“A good plan…if Ana can be trusted,” you say.

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” Ana says. “I’ve worked at TLA for thirty-six years!”

“They’re right,” Synth says. “If we did that we’d have to take you entirely at your word, that isn’t a kind of security fitting a technopath.”

“Um, I have a different approach,” says another one of the adult passengers, a man of some 370 months. “I’m K, he/him, I’m a systems engineer at TLA station. But my job in the military was programming shuttles similar to this one. There is of course a surface-level command log viewable to any amateur with a terminal, but even a first year technopath candidate could bypass having any identifying information recorded there. But if this civilian shuttle is anything like the ones I worked on, it also has a hidden log, accessible only ætherside. Records in that file could be linked directly to the neural interface used to access the system, the æther-trace will be unmistakable, but only if that user returns to the directory with you to compare it.”

“Okay. It’s as good a plan as any right now,” Synth says. “I’m going to take a look, and that means all of us are going in together.”

“Wait, wait,” Vik says. “First years here. We barely know what the æther is let alone how to enter it.”

“Right, you haven’t done this before,” Synth says. “Yet, there’s no real choice here, once dissociated any of us who go in will be fully vulnerable, and that just isn’t acceptable when any of us could be a danger. Ana, does this shuttle’s medlab have neurodissociative agents?”

Ana floats across the central corridor to a panel marked “Emergency.” Inside is a cabinet of rudimentary first aid supplies and a small printer.

“You could hardly call it a lab,” it says. “But I can make what we would need here, yes.”

“Then we’re all going to take it and chemically dissociate,” Synth says.

“Well that hardly seems necessary,” K says.

“It is. Those of us with neurodissociative implants could just come to surface at will otherwise, and we would be as vulnerable as if we’d just left them awake to begin with. This puts us all on equal ground.” They look at you and Vik. “First years, we’ll guide you through this. We’re just taking a step into the æther to try and clear all this up, it won’t take more than an hour surfaceside.”

“And what if the attacker was outside the shuttle all along, in a nearby ship or relaying from a cubesat or something?” K says.

“Then we technopaths will be far more capable of defending ourselves from them in the æther than on the surface, don’t you think?” Synth says.

What do you think?

1) "This is literally crazy, I'm not letting anyone inject me with something.": 0 (0.0%)
2) "Someone should remain conscious. Two people who don't know each other would be safest.": 0 (0.0%)
3) "Who put you in charge of us all?? How do we know this isn't a trap?": 0 (0.0%)
4) "If it will put an end to this, let's just get it over with.": 100 (100.0%)
Expired 2 years ago (2022-01-13 17:14:00)

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.