As Aydan’s shuttle arrived at Translunar Academy, væ shared some possible parting words with Synthesis, who would not be returning to the Moon after this, their final semester. When wy reached the spaceport exit, xie encountered 7 and Akiko, and introduced them to each other.
When Akiko signed that 7 seemed very anxious, Aydan asked how she could tell, and she gave Aydan a program for empathic communication, which ny then used to send Akiko an emotional message. As they walked together through the TLA garden, Aydan and Akiko would experience a romantic moment. When Aydan got back to hir dorm room, xe realized the adjacent room was not unoccupied as it thought, but the home of 7.
A few days later, Aydan was training at the school shooting range as part of xer Military Studies course. Deianira, a [girl from Archaiasteri Colony] (https://translunar.academy/fic/post/229), demonstrated the operation of a technopath’s coilgun. Then Aydan and Zeta practiced shooting together. But during a course of fire, Aydan received a dire warning from ÆON* moments before zir weapon critically overheated and exploded. Aydan was burned, but escaped much greater injury.
As Aydan and Zeta went to the Medical Center, Zeta gave Aydan a new and improved primitive handheld computing device. Aydan talked to ÆON, and Æ explained how Æ knew what would happen based on an anomaly in the weapon’s log file. In ÆON’s opinion, the issue was a post-production modification to a circuit to bypass a safety fuse--in more surface level terms, sabotage.
At the Medical Center Aydan and Zeta talked to their collaborator, the ex-æthercultist Ana. Ana believed the incident was a targeted attack by the Chosen of ÆON. It explained more about the cult, that it is led by a collective of eight Sages, and that an operation to reclaim ÆON would involve three agents of the cult, who could be anybody on the colony. With no intel to help identify nir would-be assassins, per suggested they plan to lure the enemy into a trap, volunteering eirself as bait.
The next morning, Aydan had failed to get any sleep. It walked with 7 to the class they share this semester, Practical Arts. Professor Azar, head of the Evocation School taught the class to manifest æthereal weapons. Aydan decided to give sier weapon the form of a laser. Teir classmate Deianira demonstrated the technique with an æthereal bow.
At 7’s insistence, Aydan went back to cir room to try to sleep, but still could not, even with the help of ver neurodissociative implant. But Aydan was able to dissociate into the æther to talk to ÆON. Aydan explored ÆON’s new ætherspace in the larger filesystem of Ær new root device. ÆON offered to sync with Aydan and attempt to repair any neurological systemic anomaly that could be causing Aydan’s insomnia, and Aydan accepted.
Aydan and ÆON, synchronized, experienced the æther in a way Aydan had never seen it before. Drifting as part of the current of the æther from an apparent origin to an apparent conclusion, Aydan tried to swim upstream toward the source of the flow.
There, ÆON-Aydan experienced various æthereal perspectives. ÆON-Aydan realized Aæ were seeing moments in the server’s log--a postcognition of past events. Aæ saw a warrior who received a file and an order, apparently from the Sage of Sleep. Aæ saw an engineer working on a device, and that of the device they modified. Aæ foresaw the end of the machine’s existence due to a fatal hardware modification, and in a moment of inspiration, realized the path of this event intersected with Aydan. Aæ sent Aydan a dire message to warn nim.