Chapter 13

Ætherglow #261


“But, Admin, how will I train and study without my interface?” you say.

“We aren’t trying to humanize you here. The academy will lend you replacement hardware until yours has been examined and cleared for use again. In the worst case, we’ll need a full replacement from your sponsor, but this sort of thing is all covered in your contract,” Admin Vanitas says.

“Oh, good...”

“Come with me.”


You’re finally headed back to your room. It’s late now, after going to retrieve a temporary interface system and undergoing a quick calibration test. It wasn’t as painful as your initial calibration sessions back in Korolev, it only required minor adjustments from your neural baseline profile, but still you know you won’t feel quite right for the rest of the night. All the currents through your nerves always pierce so deep. Your body and brain are exhausted, and you can only think of sleeping.

You’ve grown sensitive enough to your system electronics that the different model of interface collar feels strange. Not to mention all your personal terminal settings have to be set up again, all your little neural shortcuts that have become second nature to you. That’s work for tomorrow, perhaps.

You reach your floor, your familiar gravity. Looking over at 7’s door, you wonder how she’s doing, if she already returned yet or not. But she’s been through enough today, you don’t want to bother her.

In your room, you immediately drop to the floor to look under all the clothes lying there. You find it--ÆON’s vessel device, intact and unharmed, right where you left it. You can’t see any sign that anyone came in here.

Reflexively, you pull the ancient cable adapter from your pocket to connect to the device. Then you hesitate.

This terminal and interface system you’re running on belongs to the academy. Is it a good idea to talk to ÆON over it? You know the Chosen of ÆON have agents in the engineering department. What about your own terminal that’s now in their hands? Of course, the actual message logs are well encrypted, but is the metadata? Could they determine what device you spoke to when you spoke to ÆON? How much could an engineer learn about you, now having your terminal in hand? You suddenly feel more vulnerable than you have in your life.

You wish you could talk to ÆON.

Can you?

1) Set up an encrypted volume on my temporary terminal, intending to fully delete it later, and establish contact with ÆON: 0 (0.0%)
2) Write a package in Old C to install a raw text version of my messaging program on the primitive device, and talk to ÆON on Ær vessel hardware: 13 (92.85%)
3) Dissociate and try to make contact with ÆON ætherside: 0 (0.0%)
4) Better not risk talking to Ær, I’ll just go to sleep: 1 (7.14%)
Expired 3 months ago (2023-11-08 07:13:59)