Chapter 11

Ætherglow #211


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Technopathy is your only hope for survival. You reach out to grasp the local network, and in it, the airlock’s control module right in front of you. You try to connect.

ERROR: 4304

No matter what you try, it returns the same cryptic error, leading only to a meaningless file. It’s too late. With the doors fully open, there’s no ground for you to lay on. The colony’s spin throws you off of it, out of the little metal alcove, and into the void.

You remember what is hammered into the head of every Lunatic child practically since they can understand language--exhale. It’s all you can do to prolong your life for a minute or two before you lose consciousness to asphyxiation, instead of dying a quicker, more painful death by pulmonary embolism.

You can no longer hear the alarm, or the motor, or anything. The world hasn’t been this quiet since you were synced with Akiko in the æther. Akiko, you guess you’ll never see her again now, or anybody. You wonder if they’ll ever even find your body and figure out what happened. You aren’t even sure what happened, or how it could have ended like this. As perhaps a final interface command, you suppress the overwhelming grief and despair as you confront your imminent, inescapable death. But it doesn’t suppress the tears leaking from your eyes and boiling away into space.

Here in the shadow of Translunar Academy it’s cold as Lunar midnight. You feel your body heat radiating away from you. Your hands grasp at the void, feeling nothing. Uncontrolled, you spin, watching the colony get smaller and smaller, outlined by the Sun’s brilliant corona.

You’re feeling lightheaded, losing your grip on the surface. You realize there’s still one thing to do, and activate your neurodissociative implant. The thought acceleration of ætherwalking in the powerful TLA processor will at least give you time to say goodbye to everyone, to tell someone what happened. There’s no question to you now that you’re a technopath, and you would rather die in the æther, and feel your mind dissolve into the ætherglow forever.

As your’re slipping away, the void is so cold that your tears turn to frost lining your eyes, blurring the stars and the pale crescent of your homeworld.

And in darkness, you drift.

Float.

Orbit.

“Aydan.”

“ÆON. I can’t breathe...”

“You don’t need to breathe here, Aydan.”

The light is so bright.

The sound is so loud. It echoes before and after it strikes. A bang, metallic, like a bullet hitting the back range wall. Not quite. The docking arm latching onto a shuttle. No. What is it?

A knock at your door. That’s all. You sit up, feeling the spin-vertigo as your head turns antispinward. You get up from your bed with the colony spinning around you. Who would even come to your room?

Leaning on the frame, you open the door.

“Aydan?” It’s Zeta.


You remember.

1) Panic, close and lock the door: 3 (30.0%)
2) Angry. “Why, Zeta?! I trusted you with my life!”: 1 (10.0%)
3) Check recent neural logs: 5 (50.0%)
4) Lightheaded, confused, fall to the floor: 1 (10.0%)
Expired 9 months ago (2023-06-29 19:00:42)