Chapter 12

Ætherglow #238

You extend your focus to expand your liquid barrier to shield both you and Akiko, and also the tree behind you. The refractive surface of your program diverts the star arrow around you harmlessly. But a sudden burst of light behind you throws you from your limb. Regaining your composure in mid-air and remembering the branches aren’t necessary to stand, you look back to see the huge limb you stood on breaking apart and falling upward toward the æther flow. You remember your shield couldn’t protect the æthergarden because your terminal was still configured to ignore it in all technopathy.

You remember the first thing to do.

????-??-?? ??:??:?? Ætherglow > CONTACT!

????-??-?? ??:??:?? ε Scorpii > moving!

Akiko, floating beside you, looks down on the tree. A black scar with edges glowing bright takes shape where the limb was shattered from the trunk.

“You...hurt my tree!” Akiko’s aura flares bright as her weapon forms in her hand. She rushes up at the enshadowed cultist, extending the long tendrils of her staff.

Forming your weapon in hand, you fly after her, looking for a good shot at the enemy. A strange shockwave in the æther strikes you from behind and diverts your path. It forms a consistent ripple in space, along with a smooth sonic tone, causing light to fluctuate all around you in a sine wave. You look back toward the source of the program.

You see a second enemy, similarly robed in a cloak of black spatial distortion bearing the white infinity sigil. Only their hands extend from the cloak. One floats above a glowing wire loop, and the other beside a narrow upright rod. They reshape their fingers next to the rod and the wave around you quickens. You shield yourself from its vibrations, but they distort the light around you too much to see through. You can’t find Akiko or the archer. Only the one ahead of you is clear, floating at the center of the wave. They move their other hand upward from the loop and the amplitude rises. You hold your shield against the loud sonic attack. As they manipulate its frequency, you feel your barrier vibrate in resonance at a certain pitch. They focus on this weak point and raise their hand again, raising the volume. You can feel your barrier struggling against it.

“Aydan of Luna, False Messenger of ÆON! Return The One to us, or die!” The sine wave carries the cultist’s voice, starting to pierce through your defenses.

A second shield envelops you. Behind its metallic surface, the æther is quiet. Your enemy dodges to the side and evades their own reflected attack. Beside you, the avatar of Synth emerges, holding up their reflective shield. Their eyes glow bright green along with the 05 on their forehead plate.

What will you say?

1) “Not a fucking chance!”: 3 (37.5%)
2) “I know who you are, Pulse!”: 1 (12.5%)
3) “Give up now and I might let you live!”: 0 (0.0%)
4) “Why are you doing this?! What do you want with ÆON?!”: 4 (50.0%)
Expired 7 months ago (2023-09-03 07:07:19)