Chapter 13

Ætherglow #258


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“I’m under attack! They transmitted from inside this room!” you say.

She looks at you for a moment.

“I--”

“I can tell your sincerity. Show me your logs. And guard your mind,” Vanitas says.

Your system receives a request for its recent log file. You can hardly refuse at this point. You allow it.

“So, a surface echo.” Vanitas moves to the wall and starts to feel around it with her hands--fingernails light up as she moves, hands well augmented.

“The door was closed, I couldn’t see the æther at all or reach the core processor. Can that level of technopathy even be done without access to the network?”

“Anything can be done with technopathy. A small, concealable independent processor could render that kind of echo...even the one in your terminal could, if entirely focused on the task. But if it were me, I would use a concealed transmitter connected by wire through the faraday cage. Drill a hole in the wall and it could be done. Anyone in engineering could do it, it wouldn’t take a master technopath.” She scans every corner and every panel of the wall as she circles the room.

“It’s no amateur though, I can’t immediately find the source of a transmission,” she says. “The contents of the messages are encrypted. Was there any two way conversation?”

“No. I didn’t answer,” you say. “Except at first, to ask how they were talking to me at all. They didn’t really answer.”

“Then it’s entirely possibly the message was automated, or exopathic even. It could have come from your own system.”

“It went right through my shield...”

“I’ll have this room more thoroughly searched, but right now, an internal explanation seems more likely to me,” she says. “It could have been preprogrammed, or an adaptive routine that builds sensory detail from your memories even.”

Vanitas returns to the front of the table across from you. “You have found yourself in all kinds of trouble ever since you got here, haven’t you? The incident on your shuttle here on day one. Then the weapon malfunction that injured you. Now this.”

Her gaze pierces your mind, as if tearing open your defenses effortlessly.


“Do you have any enemies, Aydan?”

1) “My parents are on the board of Redshift Security, and I belong to the company too. They have plenty of enemies and rivals.”: 1 (5.55%)
2) “There was an arms dealer I embarrassed during break and caused them to lose a lot of money.”: 0 (0.0%)
3) “Some other students seem to have a problem with me.”: 1 (5.55%)
4) “I’m being targeted by a cult because of what happened on that shuttle.”: 6 (33.33%)
5) “The person who appeared before me today, I’ve seen them once before in the æther, at a gathering...”: 6 (33.33%)
6) “I once had a malicious program embed itself in my system while exploring the abandoned base of an æthercult, I can’t be sure it was fully purged.”: 3 (16.66%)
7) “Plenty of people on my world hate technopaths and femboys. The Traditionalist Foundation, for instance. I also kind of upset them during break.”: 1 (5.55%)
8) “None that I can think of.”: 0 (0.0%)
Expired 5 months ago (2023-11-01 07:36:44)