Chapter 12

Ætherglow #245

You aim your weapon straight down toward your enemy’s head and attack. His shield feels like a solid metal surface. You feel the pressure feedback as the barrier bends under your beam of iridescent light. His focus was expended on his attack, and his defenses are weak. You press harder, with everything you have. The metal wall breaks.

The negative flash hits your senses again as the flow of time slips away from you. You fire again and hit his avatar directly. You press harder. Distracted, your own weakened defenses take a hit from one of the turret drones. You feel its impact like being struck with a blunt object. The others swarm around you for another strike. Directly ahead, you stare down the glowing barrel of a drone.

A cable lashes out and wraps around the construct, diverting it just as it fires. It misses. The long tendril coils tighter around it, crushing its metal structure inward until it breaks and shatters into æthereal light. A shield surrounds you as you feel a soft touch on your avatar hand.

????-??-?? ??:??:?? 暁 > enemy neutralized, assisting Ætherglow

“You okay?” Akiko says.

“I am now.” You take aim at another turret pointing your way and hit it before it can fire. Blue sparks fly from its form as it breaks apart. Akiko catches another one and slices through it with her wires.

Below, the wolf recomposes himself and stares up at you with glowing eyes. He jumps, metal fangs bared to strike. A shadow reaches out from below, wrapping around his legs. It’s a plant from the garden, a visually featureless black vine. But you can feel the razor sharp texture of it from here.

“You might be a much stronger technopath than me, but you’ve made the amateur mistake of challenging me in my domain!” Akiko directs the vines to pull him back down as he struggles against them.

A low vibration passes through you. The æther around you distorts as the pulsating beat of the cultist above you envelops you again in her soundscape. Finding its way to its target, the wave cuts a path under the wolf, tearing him free of his bindings. As a rift opens in the sonic fabric, Pulse emerges above her comrade. Next to you, Synthesis-05 shifts back into the avatar of Synthesis-02.

????-??-?? ??:??:?? β Scorpii > Akatsuki, distract her.

“Ryouko!” Akiko says. “At last we meet face to face!”

“The invisible girl from AtaraChiba,” Pulse says. “This is the first time we’ve spoken, isn’t it?”

“We finally communicate and it’s in such a situation as this...” Akiko says.

“You could have asked for my key.”

“How can I when you can’t be touched?”

“I don’t know, a text-to-speech engine? Only been around since the 21st century.”

“I should go to that trouble while you won’t bother learning to sign?”

????-??-?? ??:??:?? β Scorpii > Ætherglow, our next move is critical. you’ve seen what both our enemies are capable of better than I have, I’d value your input

????-??-?? ??:??:?? Ætherglow > _

1) > me and Akatsuki can face the wolf, you finish Pulse: 1 (10.0%)
2) > Akatsuki should deal with Pulse, you and I handle the wolf: 2 (20.0%)
3) > me and Akatsuki take down Pulse, you hold off the wolf, we’ll finish him together: 2 (20.0%)
4) > let’s retreat, we’ve already gotten a lot of data, Zeta’s injured, and I’m exhausted: 5 (50.0%)
Expired 7 months ago (2023-09-22 09:23:44)