Aydan surfaced from a long ætherwalk, with no memory of what xe experienced. It was already morning and tey had not slept for 48 hours. After ordering some amphetamine from an autokitchen, sie encountered Zeta, who offered to show per a new shortcut to make it to class on time. Aydan followed, and down in a maintenance tunnel, Zeta pushed her into an airlock, saying “hail ÆON.” Helpless, Aydan fell from the airlock Zeta opened into the cold depths of space, and died.
But Aydan again awakened, this time to Zeta knocking at er door. Overcoming confusion, Aydan realized the previous events had only been a dream. ÆON shed some light on the situation, explaining that Aydan’s insomnia was caused by a malicious program, written by the “Sage of Sleep,” and implanted exactly when Aydan was distracted by eir sabotaged weapon.
Aydan decided to discuss this with ÆON Club. Despite logically knowing vis murder was a dream scenario, zher trust in ever-loyal Zeta was shaken. Since sey was synced with ÆON at the time, it could have been a vision of a possible future.
Aydan met with Akiko, Synth, and Zeta at the pond at the world’s edge, where Synth formally met ÆON for the first time. Reviewing what they know, the group pieced together that the Sage of Sleep was one of the Sages who lead the Chosen of ÆON, and the cyberattack on Aydan most likely had to have been done by someone in the room with thon at the time. Ze consulted with ÆON, but Ær insight could not provide clear answers. They decided to pursue all the leads they had, sending Akiko to investigate Professor Arak, Synth to investigate the engineering staff, and Aydan and Zeta to seek answers from the academy’s rumor mill.
They then began planning their own next move--laying a trap for the cultists, using Aydan as bait. They decided to lay their ambush in the æther. Aydan needed to come up with a pretense for being there that they could circulate rumors about and attract attention. To that end, Aydan asked Akiko out on a date, and then challenged her to a duel. At least one of the two rumors was sure to draw the attention they needed.
The next day, Aydan and Zeta talked to a boy named Kaj, known for trading in secrets and knowing rumors about everyone. Zeta traded the planned rumors of Aydan’s upcoming date and duel in exchange for the names of two students who might be involved with a cult: a second year girl named Pulse and her first year girlfriend, Deianira.
Aydan and Zeta met up with Synth to share information. Synth had the name of a suspicious engineer, Vukašin. To Aydan, Pulse seemed to be the one to worry about, but they couldn’t afford to let their guard down toward the others. Akiko, despite being in the same year as Pulse, knew little about her due to a language barrier. They would have to be prepared for anything as they executed their plan in a few days, on the night of the new Moon.
There was nothing more for Aydan to do but prepare for fær ætherdate with Akiko, and with the Chosen of ÆON.