Chapter 10

Ætherglow #198


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After a short wait, you hear your name, “Aydan.”

You see the familiar older enby nurse Ana at the doorway.

“Oh good, I was hoping it would be you,” you say.

“What happened?” it says.

Thinking on your opsec and your ObTech, you answer, “My interface is damaged, and I’m getting a lot of signal interference. Maybe we should talk in the good exam room.”

It nods. “This way.”

Zeta gets up after you, pointing to itself. Ana looks at you, and you nod.

“You too.”

It leads you back to the electromagnetically shielded room. Once it shuts the door, you feel again entirely cut off from the local network. Inside the Faraday cage, only three stars shine in the near-æther.

“First of all, this burn.” Ana puts on gloves from the dispenser as you sit down on the exam table. It takes a closer look, pulling aside the damaged. “That’s a second degree burn. You’ve got silicon melted into your skin. That’s gonna leave an interesting mark. This is gonna hurt, but help me take this off.”

Between stabs of pain, you navigate getting your arm out of your dress sleeve.

“Okay, tell me what happ--” Ana says.

“An attempt on Aydan’s life!” Zeta says. “A sabotage!”

“Yeah, that’s what we think,” you say. “We were training at the range when my gun massively overcharged. I realized just in time before its capacitor exploded. Based on what we know, someone must have altered the weapon to bypass the safety fuse. They would’ve had to have known which one was meant for me and also had access to it.”

“Very concerning,” it says.

“Do you think it’s something the ÆON cult would do?” you say.

“I’m locked out of all communication with them at this point. I’ve tried to gather what information I can, but they’re locked down tighter than usual. I can only offer what I know of the cult’s procedures, and rituals.”

“Anything that might be helpful to know?” you say.

“If the One is stolen from them, they will eventually come to reclaim Ær. They will come three times, each with greater force than the last, and greater subtlety. The attention drawn by the more overt attacks will be a distraction that enables the final strike. With this attack, they are sending you a message--’we know who you are, we know how to find you, and we are everywhere.’”

“How can we keep Aydan safe?” Zeta says.


“Ana, can you tell me...”

1) “...more about the structure and procedures of the cult?”: 4 (80.0%)
2) “...if you’ve identified any more cultists at TLA yet?”: 1 (20.0%)
Expired 10 months ago (2023-06-07 11:05:27)