Chapter 9

Ætherglow #180

Synthesis-05 closes in on you, white sparks leaping from their hands. You reach out to reconnect with your wayward familiar and signal it to return to your side. The wall next to you opens up and your little chaotic attractor appears.

You suppress all fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and hope. You need to grasp the æther like never before. Flowing in a state of near-ego-death, you take hold of the æther and shape it to your will. The workings of your craft you hide from your enemy’s eyes. The familiar is now Aydan, the helpless femboy, and your avatar echoes its fractal form instead.

Floating up the stairs to a safe distance, you release spacetime and let its processes unfold. The Synth avatar unleashes all its fury, obliterating the Aydan echo in a pillar of bright blue flame. A jolt of sadness pierces your emotional suppression. But constructs can be reconstructed and never know the difference. Aydans are one of a kind, you think. But then, looking at the Synthesis behind the fading columns of fire, you wonder if that’s really true either.

But their green LED eyes fixate on your position. Of course, if they think you’re a lost familiar now, you’re still an intruder. They ready another attack. But you didn’t notice the door your familiar came through didn’t close behind it. Someone new emerges--Synthesis-02.

Holding an æthereal weapon, a large rifle of black and chrome metal, they stand between you and 05.

“Stand down!” 02 says.

“Stand aside, syster, I have orders,” 05 says.

“You’re not my syster.” It’s no longer 02 in front of you, but another 05. They raise their weapon and fire. The program the gun’s form represents impacts the enemy 05’s avatar in the chest. They fire again and again. The target avatar starts to lose cohesion, fraying apart at the edges into meaningless noise data. One more shot and it shatters, dissolving into the æthereal flames behind it.

As Synthesis turns around, their form is back to 02’s style, with their purple eyes and black leather vest. “Nice echo, Aydan.”

You dispel your illusion, retaking your own shape like breathing a sigh of relief. “How?!”

“Senior mentoring tip: if you want to hide from someone, don’t leave your familiar right next to them. I lost you for a little while, but once you sent it a command I was able to ride its portal right to you.”

“How careless of me...” you say.

“That was definitely a copy of the backup of the Zero Five model, just like the Zero Four you met earlier. This computer has put a lot of them in people’s heads.”

“Do they all look like you?”

“No, they don’t naturally look like anything, their avatars adapt to the host mind. But the computer probably shaped them like me based on your memories, since it seems to have access to them,” Synth says.

“How?! It’s been taunting me, luring me, tormenting me since I got here! I don’t know what it wants with me!” you say. “I don’t even know if you’re real! How can I know?! How can I trust anything I see?!”

“Everyone is real, Aydan,” they say. “Sometimes all you can do is trust your instincts. Believe what you feel. You’ll be tricked sometimes, can’t avoid it. So don’t trust me, and definitely don’t trust that me.” They point down to where the 05 avatar was. “Only trust Aydan.”

“Okay.” You suppress your panic and calm down. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the Synth I know or not. You’re the one that protected me, and that’s more important now. But how is this server getting in my head like this?!”

“That’s what I aim to find out.” They look up into the inviting blue glow. “And then shut this place down for good, before anyone can ever use it again.”

“Are you with me?” Synthesis-02 says.

1) “Let’s get some answers and put a stop to this.”: 10 (100.0%)
2) “No. Let’s pull out, this is too much for us.”: 0 (0.0%)
Expired 11 months ago (2023-05-11 16:42:39)