Chapter 8 Summary

At mid-term break, technopath candidates return to their homeworld to receive their next implants. Aydan arrived on the Moon, having made plans with Synth to meet up after her surgery. But in the meantime, Aydan had to deal with being back at home with zir parents. Hir moms, Yelena and Ælita, being board members of Redshift Security, had signed Aydan’s life to the company before he was born, and now were eager to show off their investment’s progress at the Spaceside Defense Expo in Korolev City. Aydan reluctantly agreed without much of a fight, in exchange for a promised reward.

The next night, Aydan and fær family went to the expo. Aydan’s parents pressured it to present as femininely as possible at the expo so as not to confuse or enrage the more traditionalist elements present. Hie agreed to wear the pretty dress they got for the occasion, but tried to present more authentically nonetheless using accessories. Right away, Aydan stumbled into a conflict between a board member of Cybernautics, the corporation that owns Translunar Academy, and Cosmosaïque, who operate a rival academy, Cislunar Institute.

Slipping away from the corpo drama, Aydan met the only other person ær age present, a third year technopath candidate system called the Electrical System, a student at CLI. Aydan and Électricité’s headmate Trisha, being bored, decided to cause some mischief during a weapons contractor’s presentation. Trisha terrified the room by redirecting a missile to a trajectory that would strike Korolev City, but turned it away safely a few seconds later. This prank had a devastating effect on the company’s stock value and inflamed the rivalry between their schools’ executives. Before they knew what was happening, both candidates had been conscripted into a duel between their respective academies.

Annoyed, Aydan and Trisha went to the refreshments table, and Trisha offered Aydan some strong vodka. Aydan accepted, being willing to try anything to get through this night. The strong dose had a noticeable effect on eir young body, and xer judgment. When it came time for the demonstration, Trisha asked if Aydan had any idea to make the situation more fun and ruin it for everyone else. Aydan suggested they duel each other in the most homosexual way possible to make the cishets in the room uncomfortable.

Trisha agreed. Once the duel began, she quickly gained the upper hand, being a third year with far more training and experience. Aydan faced the consequences of cir idea when Trisha had sier held completely under her spell, thons limbs bound by æthereal vines, xyr focus disrupted by both her powerful EvoTech and the warmth of her touch. She moved closer to æl and asked if e wanted to kiss. Aydan seized an opportunity to take her by surprise by kissing her first, and the legitimacy of their duel quickly collapsed.

As representatives of the Traditionalist Foundation and the Lunar Nationalist Party got into a heated argument over this, and the Cybernautics and Cosmosaïque representatives came to physical blows, Aydan’s family bodyguard Natali led per and Trisha out of the room discretely.

Aydan and Trisha, thankful for the quiet moment, talked more. The Electrical System was looking forward to seeing their partner system, a student at a different school from her&s who lives in Korolev. When asked if there was anyone special to xis, Aydan said there is a girl ne likes, but also indicated something more complicated going on.

Aydan’s parents, angrily leaving the expo, told zhir to leave with them. Te said goodbye to Électricité, wondering if they would ever meet again. On the elevator, Aydan’s parents confronted zan, and Aydan asserted that sie upheld the terms of the agreement and was still entitled to a reward. Aydan’s mom Yelena said they would “talk about it later.”