Chapter 9 Summary

Aydan woke up in a hospital bed, having had their first direct neural implant, the technopath’s neurodissociative device. Now equipped with the ability to dissociate into the æther at will, Aydan contacted Synth to follow up on their plans to meet up. Synth said they wanted to bring their partner along, so Aydan tried to invite hir new friend, the Electrical System, but unfortunately they were going to be busy that day.

In two days, Aydan arrived at Synth’s home, a small apartment in a nearly-abandoned complex in an old sector of Korolev city. There væ discovered Synth’s partner was actually Électricité all along. The three of them set out on an adventure. Synth led them to an abandoned train station, where they had refurbished an old land vehicle. They took Aydan and the Electrical System through a disused train tunnel to an abandoned city sector.

There Synth led them to a fenced compound surrounding a black warehouse. The sector proved to be cut off from the main city computer, an æther island with its own independent computer system. Aydan picked the gate lock to gain entry.

Inside, Synth showed them around, sharing visions of their childhood memories--this place was the domain of an æthercult who experimented on autistic children in an attempt to produce strong technopaths. The cult even had the ability to delete or insert people into a technopath’s mind--the origin of the system called Synthesis. While watching these haunting memories, Aydan encountered the echo of a person who seemed aware fæ was there. This figure kept reappearing in Aydan’s senses, until sie eventually asked Synth. They determined that only Aydan had been seeing this person, but he was a real person from Synth’s memories, a cultist scientist called ‘Dyavol.’

Synth became concerned that the lab computer had access to Aydan’s mind, and went to investigate it. But as they did, Dyavol again appeared in Aydan’s vision, beckoning him to come down to the basement. Aydan suggested it was too dangerous to go in person, and they should investigate the lab computer ætherside. Leaving Électricité to body guard them, Aydan and Synth dissociated into the æther.

But they immediately became separated due to the computer’s interference. Feeling the computer again calling em to it, Aydan manifested ær familiar to search for Synth in zir place. While waiting at the entry node, Aydan found one of the Synthesis headmates, their memory keeper Synthesis-04, in the form of a child. 04 claimed to have been separated from their systers. But shortly afterward, Aydan’s familiar found another Synthesis, 02. Both Synth headmates claimed the other must be a fabrication.

Not knowing who to trust, Aydan fled them both, and ended up in the root directory, triggering a defense system of the computer--an avatar of Synthesis-05 declared her to be an intruder and went on the attack. Hopelessly outmatched, Aydan tried to escape, only to be cornered on an infinitely tall stairway. Hie recalled its familiar and tried to trick 05 using Obfuscation. It worked, but only bought han a moment of time.

But through the portal Aydan’s familiar came through, Synthesis-02 followed, and came to Aydan’s defense, destroying the 05 avatar. Aydan decided to trust this 02 after they saved lær life.

Synth took Aydan to a root access point where they could get some answers or shut the entire system down. As 02 got to work, they told Aydan to watch their back and not be deceived. As expected, a Synthesis-04 avatar appeared to try to gain Aydan’s confidence again. They showed Aydan the ghosts of many other children, and it realized this computer was a grave, housing the lost fragments of the kids who were imprisoned and experimented on here. 04 tempted Aydan with answers referencing the details of Aydan’s lost younger sibling. But Aydan resisted and refused the answers they offered.

Instead, Aydan fell into a deeper dissociation to find how the computer was accessing es memories, and found the avatar of Dyavol deep in nier mind. Aydan dragged him back up to the shared æther, where Synth confronted him as they issued the command to shut down and erase the lab computer, laying to rest all of the children who didn’t make it out of this place.

Back on the surface, Synth explained that the cult was destroyed in a raid led by TLA Admin Crypta, and that was how Synth came to be a TLA student, after deciding for themself to be a technopath and use their skill to prevent things like this from happening again. This, they explained, was why they hesitated to trust ÆON. But Aydan convinced them, as well as Électricité, to join eir cause and help protect ÆON from the cults.

Back home, Aydan fell into a natural dissociation, coping with the trauma of the day’s ætherwalk and her past loss of their sibling. But in a few days, it would be back at zir real home, Translunar Academy.