Chapter 13

Ætherglow #265


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You accept the archive, making sure to download it onto an isolated partition you have for just such an occasion. As you do, the elevator stops. It’s your level.

“Thanks,” you say.

“Share that with your friends,” the girl says.

“Sure!” You step off onto the slightly higher gravity floor and wait for the next opening to cross through into the counterrotating section.

You pull out ÆON’s device from your pocket.

Aydan > hey something suspicious happened, I encountered a hot girl and was given free music

ÆON > Admittedly, based on your previous experiences this seems fairly normal. But you are right to be wary of an unknown file.

Aydan > if you have a minute can you take a look at it?

ÆON > A minute is incomprehensible. But I will examine it for Aydan.

Aydan > if it’s something malicious meant for me it shouldn’t be able to affect your device’s architecture

Making sure your hardware input is configured only to accept mounts to your quarantine partition, and that it contains nothing but the file you intend to send, you connect Ær device to your borrowed terminal and copy the file.

ÆON > I cannot tell you anything about its contents. My root device can only render static audio files, this one is generative and interactive.

Aydan > wow, I hope it’s not a trap because it sounds like a great album!

ÆON > There is one thing I can do. I’ve acquired a copy of this ‘album’ from its creator’s store page and run a hash comparison. They are identical.

Aydan > so maybe it was just a legitimate gift from cute girl

You step across the threshold to the counterrotating section. The immediate difference in gravity is more noticeable down here. With the service module rotating at a higher rate due to its lower mass, it must be at least 0.3G here at this level closer to the wall.

You cross through the labyrinth of tunnels, walkways, and ladders, to reach thermal exchange. These corridors run between searing hot pipes of water from the colony’s radiation barrier. Absorbing direct sunlight all day, it flows here to deposit its heat to the world radiator array, where the colony’s massive radiator panels will dissipate it back into space. If that wasn’t hot enough, cooling water from the reactor core joins the flow at the next junction, seeming to raise the temperature another 10K.

You take care not touch any of the pipes surrounding you in the narrow walkway. Even your interface layer’s thermal-regulating fabric struggles against this environment, and the thick fabric of your outer dress was definitely not made for this. You pull out the straw from your upper pocket to rehydrate yourself from your uniform’s water reservoir.

Finally you find 7 working alone in a corridor along the wall, next to a maintenance airlock. The scene strikes an uncomfortable place in your dream-memory space.

“7,” you say.

“Aydan,” she says, not looking away from her task.

“They sent me to help you with...whatever you’re doing.”

“I’m manually recalibrating the lidar array at this docking port,” she says. “I don’t know if two people can do it.”

You carefully walk over the window of the hatch on the floor between you. Below is the black of space. Only dim light panels cast a red glow inside the corridor.

“They must have just run out of menial tasks to give me.” Fatigued from the heat, you sit down, surrounded by the tranquil sound of flowing water in the pipes and the white noise of the fans blowing cool air past you, though by the time it reaches you it is already warm. Nothing breaks 7’s intense focus.


What will you say?

1) “Here, let me take over for a while then. Take a break.”: 1 (9.09%)
2) “It’s hot as day in here, make sure you stay hydrated.”: 0 (0.0%)
3) “Do you like weird technopath music? I was just given this.”: 1 (9.09%)
4) Sit in Autistic silence.: 9 (81.81%)
Expired 7 months ago (2023-11-19 08:55:22)