Chapter 8

Ætherglow #149


Elevator doors open at the top floor of the Красный Гигант Финансы™ building, tallest skyscraper in the central dome of Korolev City. The expo center here is in a wide circular loft stretching out beyond the edge of the tapering tower. Triangular glass panels cover the domed ceiling and the sloped walls, letting you see the whole city sprawled out around you on all sides, and a whole hemisphere of the sky above you.

Banners of the Spaceside Chamber of Commerce™ dominate the walls. Projected beneath them, you locate your company’s logo, alongside its competitor security companies, all present for the expo. Walking the floor, representatives of all of Spaceside’s military contractors prominently display their company colors, either in uniform or in the most extravagant and expensive handmade suits and dresses bearing their company symbols in more artistic fashion.

But to you, the room of hundreds of people seems so empty, for very few have an interface connected to them, only a pile of unsynced terminals and implants. You identify the few technopaths among you immediately--bodyguards of executives or military personnel here for their company presentations, like you.

Your dress would leave you very cold if not for the glowing portable radiators spread out through the room, fighting the freezing Lunar night. More electricity is running through this room than in some entire sectors of the city, you suspect.

Your black and grey striped arm warmers and thigh high socks help keep you warm too. The colors don’t clash too badly with your elegant Redshift Security dress. Your hair is good for cold environments too, you kept it loose and somewhat messy, and halfway swept over your face, held in place with a hairpin standing out in silver against your dark brown hair with the symbol of Mars.

You’ve hardly entered when someone already approaches to socialize. It’s going to be a long night.

“Yelena, Ælita, welcome!” he says, a man of some 600 months, carrying in his suit an unusual number of augments for a normie.

“Iruma-san, welcome to Korolev,” Yelena says, shaking his hand. “It will be quite an expo.”

“Have you met our daughter? Aydan...” Your mom Ælita pulls you forward out of hiding. “Iruma here is a board member of Cybernautics™ Corp.”

“I see...”

“The company that owns your school, Aydan,” Yelena says.


“Ah yes, your...daughter?” He looks down at your LED display necklace, displaying scrolling text: femboy pride 2254. “ a TLA student, isn’t she?” the Cybernautics executive says.

“She’ll be representing us in the expo,” Ælita says, looking over at you just as you mentally switch the display to the Redshift™ logo. “The future of Redshift Security.”

“Then I’ll look forward to seeing how your Redshift™ candidates have been doing,” he says.

“You’ll find our Aydan is quite impressive!” Ælita says.

“I expect nothing less. Our Translunar Academy hires only the best technopaths to train the next generation,” Iruma says.

“The best in translunar space perhaps,” an eavesdropper says, pretending to look away from the conversation. He’s another 600-something in a 600 SpaceCoin suit.

“Lucien DeLune...I might have known Earthsiders would worm their way in here,” Iruma says.

He turns dramatically to face his rival. “Beautiful Ariane sits between the two sides, at the peak of eternal sunlight,” DeLune says. “Our companies like to stay apprised of both worlds. En fait, Cosmosaïque™ Inc has entered our own presentation in the Spaceside Expo.”

“I don’t know what a second-rate school like your Cislunar Institute could have to offer this expo,” Iruma says. “I’m impressed you even managed to crawl this far out of Earth’s gravity well.”

“Translunar Academy is right where it should be, hidden away behind the Moon where most of the system doesn’t have to see it in their sky,” DeLune says.

With these two and your parents thoroughly distracted, you seize your opportunity to slip away and disappear into the crowd for a welcome moment of obscurity. You expect the whole night is going to go much like this. You just want to find somewhere to sit down and find something more interesting on your terminal.

You see some empty tables across the room. But one is not empty. You see the only girl--or enby, you aren’t sure--around your age in this entire room, looking as bored as you are. They stand out against the bland decorations, with fluorescent teal eyeshadow over their dark brown eyes and bright blue LED piercings in their eyebrows and the cartilage of their ears, contrasting their dark skin. They have a silver and green vest matching a long skirt. And their signal shows clear in the near-æther--a technopath, with internal interface implants.

Approach and attempt socialization?

1) Yes, try to make a friend to get me through this.: 5 (100.0%)
2) No, they probably want to be left alone.: 0 (0.0%)
Expired 1 years ago (2023-04-02 20:25:49)