Chapter 9

Ætherglow #184


“Our first priority is protecting ÆON from falling into the control of the Chosen of ÆON. Æ’s a sentient being and deserves freedom,” you say. “Will you help us?”

[Synth liked that]

“I don’t know about ÆON Ærself. But maybe I shouldn’t just be thinking of Ær as an exopath. A lot of people would probably think of me that way too. Our goals seem to align here anyway. I can’t let that cult gain control of ÆON because of the harm they could do with such a power. You can’t because this exopath is your friend.

“And I won’t let NULL Sector harm you, maybe because you’re my friend,” Synth says. “Sorry to put you through that in there. I didn’t expect it to get into your head like that. But if anything, it proves your resolve, your mental fortitude. Keep that up and no cult will threaten you. And when it comes to these cults, count us as your ally.”

“Great!” you say. “Welcome to ÆON Club.”

“What--”

“Ah personne ne me dit rien !” says the Electrical System, before falling back into Lunar Russian: “I don’t know what is going on, Aydan, and I will be a Moon away at L1 soon enough, but if you need help in the æther, send me a message.”

“Great! With technopaths like you two, we’ll be unstoppable!” you say.

“Let’s just get the hell out of here,” Synth says, taking long steps away from the compound and back toward their vehicle.

Once you’re back through the tunnel and this dome falls below the horizon, it’s as if it was never here. Only the black sky remains. You aren’t sure where the time goes as you return to Korolev City.


You approach the familiar gate to your home module. The surface still feels unreal. The gravity feels too light. The Sun feels so distant. Its warmth doesn’t even bother you like it should. You verify that your neurodissociative implant is off.

You walk by the family tree. You can only think of the bigger and livelier ones on TLA. You look up into the black sky. The bright Sun obscures all other stars during the day. But your little home star is up there somewhere. No, this house isn’t home, you feel, but in a few days you’ll be back there, with your own people.

You scan the chip in your hand to enter the cool house. You hear your parents in the kitchen. You avoid the noise and turn right to an empty room. The walls and the floor and the LED lights still feel so distant, fake. You’re drawn to the shelf in the corner, where his picture sits--your younger sibling, looking a lot like you did at that age. You’ve already suppressed too much today, and turn off your interface’s emotional inhibition to let yourself feel now. You’ll never know where he is, or if he lives. Sometimes people are just lost forever. Just like the Moon--it disappears under its own shadow every month and returns, but it’s never quite the same. Just like dissociation--you fall into the void and wake up, but are you still you?

You slip by your parents’ detection to sneak off to you room. This is no day for mothers. The surface is too unreal--you feel like floating in the æther a while and crying.

END CHAPTER NINE

Proceed to Chapter 10 >>


Ultimately, your moms still contractually owe you a reward. What will you demand of them?

1) I want an implant: 2 (22.22%)
2) I want an external augment: 3 (33.33%)
3) I want a shuttle ticket somewhere next break: 4 (44.44%)
Expired 11 months ago (2023-05-15 18:05:09)