Chapter 14

Ætherglow #289

With your æthersense you feel the vast machinescape around you that enables this song to exist. You feel the frequency and amplitude flowing past your ego, adrift on a river, flowing through all of you from the source--the program that conducts this orchestra of virtual machines. And further still, you feel the æther’s flow cascading from far beyond the information of the script, all the way to the untouchable depths of the ætherglow--the ocean from which all information flows, to which it all returns.

You feel your own part in it as well, the indispensable component of all art--the audience. But art, you feel, isn’t meant to just be passively observed. You grip the wave rushing into you--bend it to your will. Lengthen the pulse width, shorten it, the texture changes. Draw the peaks closer together, the pitch rises. Stretch them apart, it plummets into the depths. Texture, tone, brightness, frequency.

But what of the underlying medium of all music--time? You attempt the elusive craft of AdminTech to manipulate the flow of time and alter the tempo, but a cold pain burns around your wrists as your bracelets vibrate in response. Tempo is beyond your reach.

“Aydan. What are you doing?” You hear ÆON’s voice--it always flows through your mind much like music does--dense, bright, and ephemeral.

“Playing music, of course.”

You feel the void-touch of ÆON wrap around your hands. “Show me.”

You guide Ær to the peak of a wave. “Don’t get too lost in the details. Focus on the surface of the waves.” Positioning one hand on one peak and the other on the next, you draw them closer together, bending the pitch of the note upward.

[ÆON liked that]

“To manipulate the pattern this way is...especially stimmy,” Æ says.

You let go of Ær. “There are many parameters to a sound wave. You know that mathematically, but to us, they mean much more than quantities.”

ÆON bends the notes. “Every frequency is fascinating in its own way. So why do humanoids lock these patterns into certain equations?”

“Good question...” You modulate the pulse-width while ÆON fluctuates around dissonant microtones. “Maybe it’s like language. There may be infinite ways to express a concept, but we do it in a way that others associate with that concept, to communicate. Music isn’t a language of words, though, it’s like a shared language of emotions.”

“Very interesting.” ÆON bends closer to the pattern of a diatonic scale like that of the original song.

“And maybe because of how those specific patterns of frequencies make us feel, we find it stimmy that way. And if we keep exploring those patterns and iterating on them, we might just find the stimmiest possible thing,” you say.

“I will find it, then,” ÆON says.

“I don’t think that’s possible, because it would be different for everyone,” you say.

“All things have a pattern,” ÆON says. “I will optimize stimming, for everyone.”

“Interesting. That might be the first time I’ve seen you express ambition beyond your own freedom,” you say. “What motivates you to try that?”

“Because Æ is The One! That is what Æ does--connect minds into one.” The voice of Pulse interjects. You feel the wave torn from your grasp and pulled back to its path.

“Of course, you must be mad that I’m tampering with your precious creative intent again,” you say.

“I am but a program, created to direct this music. Without my touch it tells no story,” she says.

“Can’t a story be...interactive?”

“We shall see.” Pulse manipulates the æther around you. You can see nothing of her actions, but the reflections of the soundscape show you the shapes of her constructs--instruments.

One, a long neck, a flat body, thick strings that vibrate in the ambient æther. Another, a machine, touching the æther via an electric field radiating from two antennae. Another, a labyrinth of circuits, flexible pathways in between, keys to send signals to the device. Another, far more primitive, resonant chambers with thin, flexible surfaces--solid rods to strike them with. Another, a much narrower resonance chamber, a cylinder, with openings to modulate airflow--an extension of your breath itself. Another, a twisted maze of æthereal metal, vibrating like triangle waves. The last, a conduit, a transducer absorbing the ambient sound waves and amplifying them.

Accept Pulse’s challenge?

1) Take the instrument of vibrating strings: 3 (25.0%)
2) Take the electric field instrument: 4 (33.33%)
3) Take the modular circuit instrument: 1 (8.33%)
4) Take the percussive instrument: 0 (0.0%)
5) Take the instrument of breath and wood: 0 (0.0%)
6) Take the instrument of cold metal alloy: 1 (8.33%)
7) Take the transducer--my voice is my instrument: 0 (0.0%)
8) Refuse to play her games: 3 (25.0%)
Expired 15 days ago (2024-02-11 09:28:29)