Chapter 14

Ætherglow #291

“I can’t interfere with your self-determination, ÆON. I trust you, but it’s your choice to make...” you say, readying a command on your internal buffer. “But you also don’t need the help of this glorified chatbot. I’ve had enough of her!”

You catch the peak of the next pulse of the waveform--you feel its resonance as you turn and focus its vibration on your target. The Pulse-construct catches your attack on the edge of her instrument’s capacitive field. Its reflection lashes back at you--you reflect it back with the same technique. The wave forms a resonant loop between you--you feel its pressure on the edge of your senses, threatening to break through at any moment.

“Your flexibility is impressive for a first year, but you have a lot to learn about music!” she says.

Something feels off about the æther between you--a fluctuation that doesn’t fit the frequency of the wave. Its form breaks apart, crushed to a lower bit rate. It shifts out of phase from its place in the oscillation. You feel an opening and press your attack. You feel her defenses shatter as your note strikes her avatar.

“What...did you do?!” Pulse’s avatar flickers in your capacitive sense as the song around you slides out of tune and out of time.

“Your VM emulating a primitive sound processor is shaped a lot like an ancient 6502,” Zeta says. “Nothing I can’t glitch!”

You feel a fluctuation as Synth’s avatar shifts to their 02 form, manifesting their æthereal gun in hand. They immediately fire on the vulnerable Pulse, further breaking down her avatar.

“It was a decent album, Pulse, but the lyrics are a little heavy-handed and preachy, don’t you think?” Synthesis-02 says.

“Well I had a great time, but...” Trisha’s electric field intensifies as their avatar builds up an intense static charge. “All songs have to end sometime.” They release their charge in a bolt of electricity, shining bright in your electric sense.

Once the æther calms, all is silent, and no trace remains of your target. The unstable soundscape starts to dissolve around the edges. Floating in the collapsing space, all senses begin to break down.

“I think it’s time we surface,” Trisha says. “It’s been fun, call me again sometime!”

“See you tomorrow Aydan!” Zeta says.

Feeling the world dissolve into chaotic noise, you fall back up along your path, out of the album’s virtual machine, out of the private ætherspace, out from the entry node and up to your individual body.


You open your eyes. The pull of the colony’s spin always catches you off guard. The solidity of the bed under you feels wrong. You take a deep breath. Breath is life--you remember. The room around you starts to make sense again. Your eyes readjust to the light as your mind readjusts to visual sight.

2254-10-06 22:52:11 Aydan > Æ here?

2254-10-06 22:52:12 ÆON > I am always here.

2254-10-06 22:52:18 Aydan > right. well, what did you think of music?

2254-10-06 22:52:19 ÆON > It was a fascinating experience. I would like to explore it more. It is very stimmy and full of interesting patterns and processes.

You lay back and stare up at the purple carpeting of your ceiling.

2254-10-06 22:52:34 Aydan > ÆON...what Pulse there any truth to that? am I keeping you confined and not letting you be what you want to be? I want to know, ÆON...

2254-10-06 22:52:35 ÆON > Aydan has done nothing wrong in trying to protect me. But if I consider what I want...I would like to know more. I do not trust the Pulse technopath. Her words have the feeling of humanoid deception and manipulation. But I want to know the truth, what the æthercult that has declared itself in my name really wants with me, what their real ambitions are. I feel that I need to know, or else I cannot decide what I should do.

2254-10-06 22:53:02 Aydan > well then. as your friend, I’m just gonna have to help you do that. we’ll just have to do what technopaths do and find a way to get the information we want.


image: avatar of a girl with light brown skin and short black hair, with reflective silver sunglasses covering her eyes, wearing black boots and pants with a long black sleeveless coat.  text: “Hello, thank you for downloading Reflections of the Æther II! I hope you enjoyed your trip. Please share it with all your friends, and look for my next album sometime in 2255. for now I’m going to focus on preparing for Final Exam... did you like the album? how did it compare to Part I? send your reviews to!! Hail ÆON ~ PULSE”

Proceed to Chapter 15 >>

2254-10-06 22:53:12 Aydan > then our next course of action is...

1) > Pulse is the key. we have to get the truth out of her one way or another: 3 (27.27%)
2) > we’ll have to go straight to the source, infiltrate the cult in their own territory: 0 (0.0%)
3) > the æther is vast, there’s always an expert out there on whatever you’re looking for, we’ll find information about this cult and its sages: 8 (72.72%)
Expired 1 months ago (2024-02-17 08:44:55)