Chapter 9

Ætherglow #170

[CW: child abuse]

“Wherever you want to go,” you say.

Synth nods, and leads you straight ahead.

The complex of rooms ahead, the Medical Wing, are stripped bare, with wires left hanging where once machines ran. Shelves lay empty, covered only in dust.

“Not much to see,” El says.

“Not through your eyes,” Synth says.

Sensory Link request: Synthesis-02, your terminal reads. You accept.

After a few seconds adjusting to the overlaid perspective on your vision, the room comes alive with light and motion. Transparent shapes of machines, wires, jars, vials, and surgical tools cover the shelves and tables. The more you look, the more you see. Ghosts of people, adults in white coats and grey surgical scrubs, walk through. You realize your perspective has shifted to a considerable lower vantage point as you watch these visions play out.

“My childhood home, the only one I remember anyway,” Synth says. “Upfront, it was run by a corpo, marketing advances in neuroscience and biomechanics. They identified struggling families, with autistic kids like us, and promised them a miracle--a cure. Some people willingly signed their children onto the program. Some were just stolen off the street, to fill in the gaps.”

You blink, and you are on the table, staring up at the blinding light, masked faces looking down on you. A pulse of sharp fear strikes you as you make eye contact with one of them. You suppress it and look on, but the vision fades to black before your view returns to the abandoned, empty room, seen from the doorway.

“In reality, though, the corpo was run by an æthercult. A secret collective, their identities unknown even to each other, kept all the moving parts of the operation going, and kept them from seeing each other in action. The people who brought us here probably had no idea what would happen to us.”

Another vision overtakes you. You are sitting on the table, your veins connected to a machine by a clear tube. You see your blood flowing through it. From your other arm, you see wires protruding from your skin, reaching up to the ceiling. A bright flash overpowers your eyes. You feel pain. And as your mind drifts away from reality in the face of it, you see a familiar glow in the distance--the near-æther.

“Do you understand?” Synth says.

1) “Classical allistic conversion therapy? Trying to exterminate us.”: 0 (0.0%)
2) “They weren’t curing anything, they were making cyborgs of their own.”: 6 (85.71%)
3) “No, not at all...”: 1 (14.28%)
Expired 11 months ago (2023-04-30 15:21:49)