Chapter 11

Ætherglow #225


After messaging Synth, you meet up in one of the garden meadows. There, Synth is waiting for you with their bag open.

“Ah.” You unstrap your terminal from your arm, unbuckle your interface collar from your neck, and drop them in the bag. It’s been a while since you took it off. You feel very small. The world feels so far away without it.

“Huh?” Zeta looks over at you.

You point to the bag. “Faraday pouch.”

“Oh!” It follows your lead, unequipping itself.

“Sorry. Since we’re dealing with engineering staff, we gotta be even more careful around devices than usual,” Synth says.

“But what about you Synth? Didn’t you get an internal terminal over break?” you say.

“Can’t be helped. But there’s a reason they don’t give you this until third year, I can protect a terminal better than you can.” They seal the bag. “Alright, what have you got?”

“We have a lead on a second year girl named Pulse and her first year girlfriend, Deianira, who is in our Military Studies class and could have been the one that cyberattacked me,” you say. “Pulse is reportedly very interested in cults and talks about weird culty things a lot, and is part of a polycule who might or might not all be connected to the cult too. She’s a SySpec.”

“Pulse. I know the one, she also goes by Luka. I know her from her music, but we’ve never really talked,” Synth says.

“Is she any good?” you say.

“Her demos are some pretty excellent dark ætherwave, I’d say. And you have to be a pretty good technopath to make technopath music. She could have a promising future if she doesn’t get wrapped up in a cult...”

“So have you learned anything?” you say.

“Yeah. Admin Crypta gave me some temporary clearance when I said it had to do with the Chosen of ÆON. Then it wasn’t hard at all to figure out every engineer who ever touched those guns. Except for the maintenance record on yours, which was coincidentally not present.”


“It was masterfully erased from the service log, totally unrecoverable. Unfortunately for him, none of the other logs were, and that entire vault of coilguns was all configured by the same engineer. Vukašin is his name.”

“Really? That seems like an amateurish mistake...” Zeta says.

“Suspiciously so. Yet here we have it. He’s worked here since colony construction began, but his career goes back way longer. He’s as old as Kitov, a first generation technopath, and always specialized in engineering. Despite his experience, he might not be the most gifted technopath though. His record is marked with failures. He tried to get into teaching, didn’t make the cut, tried to get into hardware dev, no luck, all he’s ever gotten is low level maintenance work like this. It’s possible he really made this mistake, but also we can’t discount the possibility that it’s a trap laid for our eyes to find. We can’t underestimate æthercult mind games.”

“So we have a possibly incompetent but highly experienced technopath, a possibly gifted second year student, and a first year we know nothing about,” Zeta says.

“Then I think...”

1) “...Vukašin seems like the weak point in the operation, we should focus on him.”: 1 (12.5%)
2) “...Pulse might be at the center of it all, we should focus on her.”: 3 (37.5%)
3) “...Deianira is the one to aim for, being the one in closest proximity to me.”: 1 (12.5%)
4) “We need to keep our attentions equally divided between the three in the coming days.”: 3 (37.5%)
Expired 8 months ago (2023-08-02 07:00:36)