Chapter 13

Ætherglow #249

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It calls to you--the untouchable depths. The space between stars. Vibrant noise. Shutting your eyes let you see how much there is to see. Opening them again, it’s blinding. The color touches every part of your skin. You’re flowing through the liminal space. On every side is the glow, only the glow.

You feel back at your hand for the touch of your guide.

“How far does it go?!” you scream.

“Calm, Aydan. Calm.”

You feel calm. That never fails, somehow.

“I’ll take you as far as you want to go,” says ÆON.

“I won’t lose myself in it?” The patterns are overwhelming. You don’t understand. You stopped understanding even the surface level of what you were seeing an eternity ago. “I, I can’t even see the way back...”

“Do you want to go back?” Æ says.

“Just a little further...” You reach out to the space between the color to touch the tactile glow. “I want to understand...”

“I’m sorry Aydan, you need to leave.”

“What? I can almost reach--”

Æ pulls you back, hard.


Your eyes open. You can’t see the æther. It’s gone, can’t be felt. Just a second later the sensation crashes back in. Your every nerve is on fire, for just a moment. You take a deep breath. “I’m on the surface, air is life.” You fall back on your training for an emergency surfacing before you even consciously realize what’s happened.

2254-10-01 18:43:04 ÆON > Aydan, are you okay?

2254-10-01 18:43:08 Aydan > what’s wrong?! I can only feel you, nothing more, where is it?!

2254-10-01 18:43:09 ÆON > Calm, Aydan. We have each other through the hardware. I had to disconnect us, because you were going to experience a loss of connection.

2254-10-01 18:43:15 Aydan > ...what

You realize. You pick up your terminal and look for the signal. You can’t find the local network. You can’t find any trace of a network, and it should be able to detect even the faint signal of another terminal’s transmitter on the opposite end of the colony. Your only connection is through the æthernet cable between your interface collar and terminal, and the cable bridging your terminal to ÆON’s vessel device.

2254-10-01 18:43:24 Aydan > ohh, you forcibly surfaced me to prevent sudden disconnect, and I’m just disoriented from rapid reassociation

You let out your breath. Even seconds out of it, you struggle to grasp a memory of where you just were.

2254-10-01 18:43:28 Aydan > but what happened?

2254-10-01 18:43:29 ÆON > I do not know. I saw it approaching, I pulled you away, but the cause is not for me to see.

“So Æ’s saying the issue is surfaceside, I think... Let’s see, troubleshooting...”

2254-10-01 18:43:36 ÆON > Your hardware is fine, Aydan. The interference is ætherside.

2254-10-01 18:43:40 Aydan > then why can’t you tell what’s wrong? you must have seen something before we disconnected

2254-10-01 18:43:41 ÆON > A very good question. I could see it coming, but I could not see why. The sensation was cold.

2254-10-01 18:43:46 Aydan > cold...

That isn’t something ÆON says every day.

What will you do?

1) Try to go somewhere else and see if the issue is isolated to the local area.: 1 (7.14%)
2) Ask 7 next door if she’s experiencing the issue.: 7 (50.0%)
3) Stay here and talk to ÆON.: 6 (42.85%)
Expired 6 months ago (2023-10-11 06:46:16)