Chapter 9

Ætherglow #173


“No, they were definitely tall, with four eyes. Back there and in here,” you say.

Synth freezes in place. “That’s not the signal I was sending you.”

“Could it be explained by normal hallucinatory drift?” El says.

“No, I don’t think so,” Synth says. “Because Aydan’s describing a real person who worked here. We kids called him ‘Dyavol’, none of us ever actually knew any of their names. Officially he was the lead software engineer for the exogenesis experiment. But to us, he was the terror of our sleep and our days. He designed all the people in this head, set the parameters, and oversaw the transplantation conditioning. In a way, he’s almost like our father.” They slam their fist against the door frame, then stop and take a deep breath.

“I have been avoiding thinking of him, at least consciously. And my sync with Aydan is a surface-level sensory link, they shouldn’t be getting anything from my subconscious mind. Therefore, the signal is coming from a different source.”

They walk down an adjoining hallway. “I need to check something. The lab computer we’ve been getting local æther access from.” They stop at a heavy metal door. “Since we arrived in the sector, it seemed like it was running idle, just like the state it was abandoned in three years ago. If it’s doing anything else at all, I don’t like it, and we should shut it down ourselves to be sure.”

Synth signs to El to check the door. They feel around with their magnetic fingertips for any magnetic fields around the door. “Seems normal.”

“Okay. Aydan, can you unlock--” As they are asking, the panel lights up and the door latch opens with a click. “Wow, that was fast.”

“I didn’t do that,” you say.

The door slowly drifts opens to a narrow stairway leading into a dark basement. A draft of cold air blows out, untouched by Lunar day. The lights in the hallway flicker for just a second, and you see for an instant the transparent image of the scientist-cultist ‘Dyavol’, staring up at you from the bottom of the stairs. You blink and he’s gone, and the hallway lights go dark. A second later, the basement beyond the stairs lights up with a pale blue glow.

“A little too inviting.” El pulls Synth into their arms as they start to nervous stim. “Should we accept?”


“Should we accept?” El says.

1) “Nowhere to go but forward, let’s go check it out.”: 0 (0.0%)
2) “I don’t like this, let’s get out of here while we still can.”: 2 (25.0%)
3) “Going down there physically could be a bad idea. Let’s investigate ætherside.”: 6 (75.0%)
Expired 11 months ago (2023-05-03 15:30:47)