Chapter 12

Ætherglow #240

“Controlling a sentient being against Ær will can’t be justified, even for that!” You take your shot, executing your EvoTech program. Your weapon’s iridescent beam strikes her directly in the chest, passing right through her shield. But once the bright flash fades, you see her undamaged. She only laughs.

“A little warm, your visual data!” She raises her hands to strike another chord, but another bright flash interrupts her. An orb of blue fire strikes her shield from the side, then another, bursting into flame that flows around her barrier, forcing her to turn her attention. You seize the opportunity and push outward on the æther, feeling the pattern of the technopathy that binds you. It’s all built on rhythm and scale, things you know, at least somewhat, as someone who plays an instrument. You find the empty spaces in the resonant grid to slip free of your cage.

With fire engulfing their hands, Synthesis-05 lunges and strikes your enemy, who resists with a dissonant chord strengthening her sonic shield. You take another shot while her defenses are down. But your weapon again has no effect.

????-??-?? ??:??:?? Ætherglow > my EvoTech can’t touch this one!

????-??-?? ??:??:?? ε Scorpii > that means your opponent’s brain has no concept of it, it’s never experienced visual input...

Synth shifts their form into the avatar of Synthesis-02, manifesting their æthereal combat rifle. “Then you must be TLA’s blind minstrel, Pulse!”

“Synthesis of Luna--an insult to the name. You’ve meddled long enough, Admin pet. Now, brother!” Pulse says.

A gate tears open above Synth. A beast of grey fur and chrome plates bears down on them--a dire æthereal wolf, twice the size of Synth’s avatar, with neon green eyes leaving tracers in its path. Electricity arcs between its bare metal fangs. Armored metal limbs reach out from the cloak of distortion that halfway envelops its body. It pushes its prey to the ground and holds Synth down as its teeth tear into their avatar.

But the wolf’s prey vanishes in the midst of it jaws. Behind it, the echo’s caster reveals itself: a much smaller avatar of animal and machine, standing upright on metal legs. External wires run from its limbs to a central spinal wire connecting to the elongated archaic CRT display that makes up its face, displaying an angry, determined expression in a linear pattern. Between its augments, thick fur covers its body, half black and half white, the surest æsthetic mark of the ever-monochrome Zeta.

Synthesis-02 reappears on Pulse’s other side and fires at her, not with light but with the concept of solid bullets. Pulse narrowly deflects the barrage. Her shield is weakening as Synth hammers on it with EvoSpec precision.

Below, the wolf lunges at Zeta, only for it to dissolve into empty light, replaced by eight copies surrounding its enemy. The cultist ætherbeast turns itself around to observe them. The plates on its body detach--mobile drones with mounted guns. They fire at every copy, dispelling them, except one which remains, blocking the shot with its shield. All of the drones and the wolf itself zero in on the true Zeta.

You glance above at a flash of light as Akiko’s shield takes the hit of one of the winged cultist’s star arrows. She lingers for a moment, off balance, trying to reinforce her defenses. She strikes back, but the agile enemy evades her cable whip to grasp another star from the sky and draw it onto their bow, aiming a perfect shot at Akiko.

What will you do?

1) Go down to Zeta’s aid: 1 (12.5%)
2) Go up to help Akiko: 6 (75.0%)
3) Stay with Synth and try to finish Pulse quickly: 1 (12.5%)
Expired 7 months ago (2023-09-10 10:11:30)