Chapter 13

Ætherglow #262


You turn on the device’s display. It’s all tactile controls to move about its userspace. Walls after walls of abstraction separate you from the core of this machine. Ancient people lived like this? But you didn’t take Applications of Primitive Devices for nothing. Surely you can adapt your messaging program to run natively on this machine.

You turn your attention to your own terminal, looking over some classical documentation and over the source code for messaging system. It’ll have to be Old C, this old processor can handle that. You dive into the task on the old device’s text editor. Every unnecessary feature will have to be sacrificed to make this work--no translation, no impression, no empathic channels, no thought imagery--you just keep it to plain text. Even making the timestamps display right would require custom algorithms you just don’t want to bother with right now. It’ll take some work on ÆON’s end too to figure out how to use this, but Æ’s a much better programmer than you.

You have something. Time to deploy it. You compile your code. The device’s display flashes bright white and its vibration motor engages. You’re about to try resetting it and trying again, when your program opens.

ÆON > Hello Aydan. Your program had 27 errors. I corrected it for you. You have to be careful with memory allocation in this language.

Aydan > well thanks! I didn’t know you spoke Old C

ÆON > I found its documentation in the æther.

Aydan > ugh, it takes forever to type anything on this screen

Aydan > but it’s the safest way I can talk to you right now. you see they took my terminal and my interface for inspection, and I thought it better not to trust the one I’m borrowing

ÆON > Aydan thought well.

Aydan > so how are things on your end since I left?

ÆON > The æther is quiet, but restless.

Aydan > I had a strange encounter. with Unas, the leader of Sector NULL, or at least an echo of them. it happened while I was locked in a faraday cage, and I couldn’t find any kind of external transmitter, so that’s why the Admin thought it must be coming from my own system and took my devices for diagnosis

ÆON > What does Aydan think?

Aydan >

1) > they could have been in my system this whole time, ever since our first encounter. that means they could be in Akiko too: 2 (15.38%)
2) > they never appeared to me before I was alone in that room. I wonder if they somehow injected code into me via 7 when she connected to the transmitter relay. the whole network failure could have been a setup: 8 (61.53%)
3) > they could have gotten to me sometime recently, maybe it was Unas working through my own system that caused the æther suppression in the first place to lure me into a trap: 2 (15.38%)
4) > I don’t have a more plausible explanation, but I still don’t want to rule out the possibility that Unas was directly communicating from outside somehow. but that would take a transmitter invisible even to an Admin: 1 (7.69%)
Expired 19 days ago (2023-11-10 09:15:25)