Chapter 11

Ætherglow #222


🌘

“If I win...go on a date with me that isn’t a pretense for something!” you sign.

“You kids are so damn predictable,” Synth signs.

“Hey, you’re what, ten months older than me?” Akiko signs. “Besides...doesn’t making this the terms of a duel kind of make it a pretense in the first place?” she signs. “And in any case, I already agreed to that, didn’t I?”

“Yeah, but, this way it can’t be forbidden because it’s contractually obligated by my sponsor, right?” You sigh, nervous stimming with your hands between sentences. “In reality, I couldn’t really think of anything else I want from you, Akiko...nothing that I’d have to fight you for. Visiting your colony would be great anyway, even if I win, so...”

“This is the most absurd duel I’ve ever seen,” Synth signs. “But it is all just a pretense anyway, who cares. Do you both agree to these non-terms that seem to change nothing one way or the other?”

“I agree,” you sign.

“Sure, I agree,” Akiko signs.

“It is decided,” Synth signs.

🌘

2254-08-24

By academy tradition, your duel is scheduled on the night of the next full or new Moon, five days from now, giving you plenty of time to draw attention to yourself. The next day, you have Cryptography class, taught by Translunar Academy’s greatest expert in mathematics and torture, Professor Miskunnlauss.

“How long of a string can you memorize and recall in ten milliseconds?” she says. “Double it by next week, and you might one day be a halfway decent encrypter. Encryption was once merely a puzzle for programmers and primitive machines to solve. Today, it is a life-or-death struggle between minds. It will push your memory and computation ability to their limits, if your opponent is any good at all. Encryption is a game of patterns within patterns within patterns. Only the most autistic of all will succeed working in the field of cryptography, or contending with its masterworks.

“I’m sending each of you an algorithm. Tell me its fatal flaw by the end of class.” Her glowing crimson eyes pierce through you as you receive her file. You get to work.

After a mentally exhausting class, it’s finally time to leave for the day. But you have business to take care of first. You share this class with just the two you need: Ida, a colonial girl with natural brown eyes and light brown skin, with her long hair tied up behind her head with what looks like an æthernet cable connector, and next to her, Kaj, a short Lunatic boy with darker brown skin and short black hair interwoven with fiber-optic strands glowing light blue, matching both their first-year uniforms.

“That’s the ones,” you say quietly to Zeta next to you.

“How do we go about this?” it says. “Maybe it would be better to ask anonymously, so we don’t give away what we’re investigating. Or maybe I should do it alone, so you’re not obviously connected...”


What will you say?

1) “We’ll approach together right now, just be straightforward kids looking for gossip.”: 0 (0.0%)
2) “We’ll ask them remotely and conceal our identities with some of your good ObTech.”: 2 (28.57%)
3) “You can talk to them, and I’ll discreetly try and judge whether they’re lying using my CommTech.”: 5 (71.42%)
4) “I’ll talk to them alone, no need for them to know you’re interested.”: 0 (0.0%)
Expired 8 months ago (2023-07-26 07:02:44)