The time came for Aydan’s first mid-term exam. Technopath exams are secretive affairs, uniquely designed for each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. For Aydan, the test was beyond eir skill at technopathy, it was a cooperative challenge with a partner--her greatest rival in training, 7☆.
Professor Haze issued them only a cryptic instruction: “An imprisoning prism my familiar has crosses. Split into two, one green and one blue. Find the fragments and false shall be true. But let them not touch or all will be lost.” With that, they were given their dissociative injections and fell deep into the æther realm together.
7, with her special interests in optics and numbers, picked up on a pattern--the wavelengths of green and blue light corresponded to nodes in the local network. Thinking they work best alone anyway, they split up to search this range of the TLA filesystem. 7 manifested her familiar, 5, whose black aura struck Aydan with an unsettling feeling. Aydan created a familiar of its own to aid in the task, with a non-euclidean avatar resembling a three scroll unified chaotic attractor system. He also called on his powerful friend ÆON. They caught the trail of a construct with the blue aura and chased it down, intercepting it at its calculated destination and ensnaring it in a technopathic barrier.
ÆON fled suddenly, sensing danger. Then 7 arrived, having captured a green familiar which sat quietly in 5’s hands. 5 touched the mind of the blue familiar and rendered it similarly calm. 7 explained that 5 has recently developed this ability to negate constructs’ emotions and reflexes. While neither could find anything of note in the familiar they caught, when looking in the opposite ones they each found a hidden directory visible only to them, and realized the test could not possibly be passed working alone.
The hidden message in the familiars’ filesystems pointed them to a particular node. Once there, they became trapped in a detailed simulation of a multidimensional labyrinth of glass prism walls, and separated from each other, only able to communicate visually. But there was little time to talk. A third, red fragment of Haze’s familiar in the form of a vicious beast appeared and set its sights on Aydan.
She stood its ground and prepared to defend themself, but Aydan was not the target at all. The red-aura monstrosity attacked and consumed the helpless green familiar, then merged into the prism walls to chase down 7 and the last fragment. If it was allowed to reach the remaining one, Aydan feared all would be lost. Sie told 7 to run.
Aydan then decided to pursue the construct by converting ær avatar into light and entering the prismatic space emself. Moving at the speed of light, Aydan found her target, with 7 on the other side, having also stepped into the glass. Aydan called on ÆON’s knowledge of æther-spacetime and together they manifested a program that bound the beast in temporal chains, freezing light in place by stopping time around it.
7 retreated to protect the remaining fragment but left 5 to subdue the beast. But once 5’s technopathy made contact with ÆON’s, she seemed to go berserk and start to tear apart the fabric of spacetime around them, and ÆON seemed to be hurt and afraid of her. Aydan sent ÆR away, and 5 calmed down to her normal state, and helped Aydan safely exit the damaged prism space. 7 was unsure what had just happened with her familiar, but absorbed her back into her avatar to rest.
Looking in the mind of the now subdued red familiar, 7 found a enigmatic binary file. But neither of them was able to decipher it before their dissociative medication began to wear off and they were pulled back up to the surface.
Although they failed to decode the message hidden in the third familiar, Haze still declared that they passed the test, the true purpose of which was to demonstrate their technopathy and creativity. Aydan, having passed heos first semester of technopath training, now prepared to depart TLA for two weeks for mid-term break.
As they parted ways, Aydan messaged 7, and
[7 liked that].
Mare Moscoviense, a mystery explored, a synthesis of past and present!