Chapter 11

Ætherglow #224


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2254-08-24 14:02:44 Aydan > ask if they know of anyone in our year who is part of a cult

“So I’ve been hearing rumors, and I just want to know, do you know if anyone in our year is involved with...a cult?” Zeta says.

“Cults? Now that’s more interesting than the usual questions,” Kaj says.

“Why, you looking to join one?” Ida says.

“No! Nothing like that, I want to stay away from them is all,” Zeta says.

“Smart enby,” Ida says.

“I know some things about that,” Kaj says. “But if I’ve learned anything at all at TLA, it’s the true value of information, and not to give it out for free.”

“Oh. Okay, how much? What coin? I’ll see what I can do...” Zeta says.

“No currency comes close to the value of a secret, Zeta,” Kaj says. “I deal in secrets. You take a secret, you give a secret, understand?”

“Oh! I think I can make this worth your time, then.”

“Now you’re talking,” Kaj says. “Tell me.”

“Is that a contract?” Zeta says.

“Verbal agreement, binding to my sponsor, technopath’s honor,” Kaj says.

“Okay. You know Aydan?” Zeta lowers is voice and discreetly glances your way. You see yourself in its vision for a moment.”

“I know a thing or two about Aydan,” Kaj says.

“Then you must know about its romantic affairs,” it says.

“Not 100% certain, but pretty likely she’s dating that AtaraChiba girl, Akiko,” Kaj says.

“Not quite, but, in two days they’re going on a date, officially. An ætherdate.”

“Interesting development,” Kaj says. “Though entirely unsurprising, anyone could see that coming from AUs away.”

“It gets more interesting, though. The same night as their date, Aydan’s challenged someone to a duel.”

“Now that’s pretty interesting. What’s it about?”

“I don’t even understand, myself, but I can send you the when and what sector,” Zeta says.

“Okay, that’s worth something,” Kaj says. “And since you told me something about a second year and a first year, I’ll repay the same. There’s a second year girl who’s really special interested in cults. She’s called Pulse, a SySpec with an exceptional affinity for music. And I have it on good authority that she’s part of an æthercult. Her artistic projects have turned increasingly religious in nature this year, and she talks about weird æther mysticism constantly lately.”

“That’s good to know. But it doesn’t tell me anything about anyone in our class.”

“No, but she’s hardly alone. One of her partners is a first year girl who shared a lot of classes with you and I. And æthercults and polycules rarely don’t overlap.”

“Who’s her partner?”

“Deianira of Archaiasteri. She’s a quiet girl, doesn’t talk to many people besides Pulse. There’s no way she isn’t wrapped up in this cult somehow.”

2254-08-24 14:08:33 Zeta > you get that?

Your program analyzes the impact of Kaj’s every word, breath, motion, emotion, and neural impulse on the local æther. Everything about it is consistent and calm. The program returns no visible sign of deception.

2254-08-26 14:08:38 Aydan > yeah, far as I can tell he’s being truthful about all that

“Alright, thanks, that’s helpful,’ Zeta says.

“Been nice talking to you. See you again if you’ve ever got more to trade,” Kaj says.

“You too.”

Once he and Ida leave, you and Zeta are the last ones left.

“Ending the sensory link.”

Your senses snap back to your own head. Once you readjust to the sudden spin-shift, Zeta is back with you.

“So that’s something,” you say.


“Where do we go from here?” Zeta says.

1) “Let’s try and find this Deianira and learn more about her.”: 1 (16.66%)
2) “Let’s see if Akiko knows anything about this second year girl, Pulse.”: 1 (16.66%)
3) “Let’s check in with Synth about this and see what they’ve learned.”: 4 (66.66%)
Expired 8 months ago (2023-07-30 09:08:06)