Chapter 11

Ætherglow #215


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Much as you want to answer, to be honest with your friend who has stood by you through so much, doubt ætherlocks you from speaking. You feel unsteady walking across the hall. Something foundational in you is shaken and you can’t be sure of anything anymore. All you can offer is an awkward silence as you descend the elevator. You can’t even look toward each other.

[Zeta disliked that]

The doors open at the ground floor. Zeta glide-steps out ahead of you. “Maybe I’ll just meet you there, then? Like Synthesis said, we shouldn’t be seen walking there together, right?”

“...Yeah, good opsec is good ObTech, right?” you say.

“Yeah...” It quickly enters the other elevator, going up its own tower.

Alone, you find one of the simple autokitchen dispensers in a lounge room. You suddenly aren’t that hungry anymore, and just make a condensed protein bar to satiate your body’s needs. You want to be away from this place as soon as you can and out in the tranquility of the garden.

The walk there is a dissociative blur. Muscle memory takes you along a familiar path, and you let your mind disconnect and swim in its own confusion.

As you emerge through between the bushes to the secluded pond, the familiar chirping of birds drags you back to the surface. The four of them land, looking up at you expectantly. You give them what they want, a tribute from your bag of plant seeds.

Something pokes the back of your head. You turn around, alarmed and defensive, raising your mental barrier. But you calm down as you see the face of Akiko, with tranquil neon green eyes. The world is spinning around you too fast. You start to lose your balance and Akiko catches you in her arms. You embrace her tight, leaning your head against hers as your vision blurs with tears. You feel a message through your empathic sense: calm.

Taking your hands to stabilize you, she sits down on the soft moss, and you lower down with her. She gently lets you go to take her hands back, and signs:


“What’s wrong, Aydan?”

1) “I don’t know what’s real anymore!”: 0 (0.0%)
2) “I don’t know who I can trust!”: 0 (0.0%)
3) “I think I hurt someone important to me...”: 1 (14.28%)
4) Empathic message: confusion: 6 (85.71%)
Expired 9 months ago (2023-07-09 07:20:39)