Chapter 10

Ætherglow #185


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2254-08-16

The eight hour spaceflight back to TLA nears its conclusion. You look back at your homeworld. From this position, almost an entire face of it glows in the sunlight. The light above your seat turns red, and you strap yourself back in for the Lyapunov halo orbit insertion burn.

Next to you is your podmate for this flight, Synthesis. They’ve been mostly quiet.

“Seems like we’re gonna make it without any problems this time,” you say. “I was a little worried.”

“That tells us that probably nobody onboard this shuttle is a cultist, or that they don’t know who you are,” Synth says. “It would be a little too obvious of them to attack this same shuttle route again within just a few months. Once we’re back on TLA, though, with hundreds of technopath candidates, professors, engineers, other staff, and military personnel who come and go to check up on their pets, that’s where you should keep your guard up, Aydan. And trust nobody.”

“Right,” you say.

“They’ve been too quiet for too long, I’m certain they have a plan in motion, and I only hope the admins are aware of it,” they say.

“It’ll be okay! With you on my side I’ll be fine,” you say.

“I won’t be here to keep saving you for long, you know. This is my last semester. Then I’ll be certified and in a whole new life.”

“Oh, right, you will,” you say.

“It hadn’t really hit me that hard until now, I guess. I just left home. I won’t be going back to that apartment again, or Korolev. Next shuttle ride you’re on, I won’t be on it. I’ll be off to wherever Cybernautics wants me.”

“Must be a good contract to work for Cybernautics, though! Are you gonna end up as an academy professor or something?” you say.

“Who knows. Maybe they want me to do that. Maybe something else. All I have is a contract stating that I won’t be made a lab experiment again, even though the company would love to learn more about me. But my fate is out of my hands, like always,” they say. “Seems like you only really have a few real decisions you get to make for yourself in life, then you’re strung along the flow of the æther.”

“Then if this is our last ride together, I’m glad I got to share it with you,” you say.

“These next few months are gonna be a whole lot of goodbyes I guess.” Synth sighs. “Oh well. It was good to be at TLA. I’ll make the most of the time I have left.”

You feel the engines cut off, no longer pressing you into your seat, as the short maneuver completes. You look up through your circular window. One of the little stars in your sky could already be Translunar Academy. You’ll be back at your real home in a matter of hours.


Anticipation races through your mind. What do you think of?

1) It would be great if Zeta made it back before me: 0 (0.0%)
2) I can’t wait to see Akiko, I hope she’s back from L3: 3 (37.5%)
3) What if I run into 7, I’ve never seen her outside class: 3 (37.5%)
4) I’m gonna go straight to my new dorm room and be alone: 2 (25.0%)
Expired 11 months ago (2023-05-21 18:41:27)