Chapter 2

Ætherglow #42

[Zeta liked that]

After exchanging public keys, you spent the last few hours of your night receiving an infodump about classical filesystems, and got your archaic computer running in a day with Zeta’s help.


Since then, your classes have gone on. This morning you have Introductory Cybersecurity. Professor Haze is a tall, slender, graceful enby, wearing loosely flowing clothing, black with white accents, over their dark skin. Their head is shaved close and adorned by silver star-shaped earrings, matching the silver eye shadow on their face.

They give their lecture in the Amharic language, which you prepared yourself with a moderate understanding of. “Security is a matter of life and death in every moment for the technopath! Lowering your guard for the time it takes one function to execute could be the end of you, as it has been to many of our kind. Here I will teach you the most vital lessons of our esoteric craft--those of survival.

“Humans never think about shielding their mind, it is sitting safe inside their skull after all, their thoughts are theirs alone. But we are not the same--the moment we dissociate to the æther we are one with every other mind drifting through that realm. Maintaining the boundary between you and another is your responsibility alone, and if your focus should falter, your every secret you have fought to protect will be lost.

“I digress, security is a passionate subject of mine, like many who specialize in the Obfuscation School. But you must never forget these words: guard your mind.”

They pick up a device from the table next to them, a small electronic lock from the look of it. “People go through their lives entrusting everything they hold close to the efficacy of a lock. They ascribe supernatural power to a device like this, they allow themselves to feel secure in its embrace. But we are technopaths, we know that every lock can be picked.” As they hold the lock up in front of them, barely touching it, it opens.

“We must never place our lives fully in the hands of a vulnerable device. But neither can we waste every moment of our life in a futile pursuit of the unpickable lock. Security is a matter of finding the balance between the two. It is insight, knowing what threats you face, what their capabilities are, what your capability is to prevent them. The secure technopath has taken all reasonable measures of protection, while still leaving themself free to act as they must.

“Your first true lesson in technopathy will be one of both offense and defense, for neither is valuable without the other. Inside your desks you will find a lock like this one,” they say.

You check, and there is such a device, colored red.

“Find your classmate who has the same color as you, and we will begin,” Professor Haze says.

You all get up and start to look around. Many start to find each other and pair up. As you’re looking around, you turn and see a girl standing two meters away from you. You didn’t see her a second ago. She is about your height, with straight hair just starting to grow out, dyed a pale blue. Her skin is unusually pale, like the surface of the Lunar highlands from orbit. Her eyes are a dark shade of pink, not a natural color, but they also don’t look obviously artificial, and they show no reaction or emotion as she looks at you. She hasn’t said a word to you, but in front of her she holds a lock, red like yours. Her nametag reads only a single character: 7, and the pronouns she/her.

“Oh, I guess we’re together,” you say.


How should you approach her?

1) friendly, introduce yourself: 100 (100.0%)
2) distant, stay silent: 0 (0.0%)
Expired 2 years ago (2022-02-13 13:58:00)

NOTICE: this poll was conducted on Ætherglow's previous home site. After total loss of the server, we only had records of which results won, not exact vote totals.