Chapter 15

Ætherglow #298


🌔

“Sure, I’ll help. Together we’ll be unstoppable!” you say.

[Zeta liked that]

“Oh!! Then let’s do it!” It clears some space on its desk and opens a drawer full of resistors. “Let’s build a sequencer modulated ladder filter evocation bypass module!”

You reach out to the network and call to mind generations of circuit diagrams of such devices.

“We’ll need a better name for it but let’s do it.”

“We can use the printer downstairs once we design a PCB,” it says.

“Yeah. Also do you have an interface adapter chip?” you say.

“Obviously.”

“Okay. I have an idea of how this will work...”

🌔

The most delicate task--you reach your soldering iron between the tiny pads to surface-mount the many pins of the adapter chip. A mistake here could cause catastrophic neural feedback to your system. Zeta holds the chip in place as you heat up the pads, then touch the soft metal to the contact point, one by one. You suppress your nerves to still your hands. Your fingers are numb. Your mind is focused entirely on the task. Even your breathing has been automated to a set routine to keep consistent brain oxygenation. With all the precision and efficiency of a machine, you complete the task and gently pull your tools away as Zeta dismounts the board from its clamps and sets it down on the desk.

“We did it?” you say.

“One way to find out.” It takes a cable from its desk and plugs one end into its interface collar, the other into the device you’ve just constructed.

“Hold on, I can test it, I did the critical phase,” you say.

“It’s okay, I trust you. Besides, you have more experience with auditory attacks.”

“Well okay...”

“The power test is successful. The sequencer and the filter are returning expected values. I’m gonna set up for a live test,” it says.

“You want me to hit you with an auditory attack?” you say.

“Yeah. Give me your best shot. Our device will let me block it easily.”

“Well, here we go...” You stand up, stretching out your limbs from sitting in this spot for hours. Preparing your mind for surface-tech, you reach and touch the near-æther, getting a feel for its currents in your environment. Zeta gets up to stand across from you, holding the device in hand. The light of its shield floats just behind your vision. You feel its resistance as you press on its signal through the computer core between you. And you call to mind your instrument program, feeling the æthereal induction field of your theremin construct in front of you.

“Ready?” you say.

“Do your worst,” it says.

As you bring your hand in close to the imaginary amplitude antenna, you mentally focus the direction of your sound wave directly on your target. Like any evocation training exercise, you aim to break its defenses. You feel the resonance of the wave through your nerves and your augments as you strike will all the force your will can manifest.

A strange response echoes back, like your sound wave passed through a wall of water. You feel only minimal pressure on Zeta’s shield, all focused in one pattern.

“So far so good!” it says.

You slide your other hand through the air to bend the frequency of your wave higher and pull your amplitude hand closer to its antenna--a second strike. The same response returns, no matter what frequency or amplitude you input, the filter and Zeta’s shield are working in perfect harmony.

“Yeah, that’s the best I’ve got. How does it feel?” you say.

“I feel completely in control. It’s working!” it says.

“What kind of pattern are you setting the sequencer to?”

“I set the steps to 1, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21.”

“Classic. Okay, one more thing then. Raise your shield,” you say.

You feel its defenses focus in the near-æther. This time you add another layer to your attack. With all the knowledge of the ladder filter’s architecture fresh in your mind, you roughly emulate it and patch this virtual machine into your theremin program, trying to modify the signal to specifically invert the effect of the augment.

You attack--this time the response feels different, the water is pulled aside. Zeta recoils as the wave penetrates its shield. You stop your attack.

“Ow...”

“So it has one weakness. But the attacker would have to both know that we have this augment and also know the pattern we set the sequencer to,” you say.

“Yeah. So the existence of the device must be a closely guarded secret of ÆON Club, and I suggest each of us run it with a different pattern, known only to the user,” Zeta says.

“Alright. Sensible.”

“In that case, we’ve done it! Our secret weapon against Pulse!” Zeta happy-stims with its free hand.

You slide across the floor and run into each other in a joyous embrace.

“The AZ module is complete!” it says.

“The AZ-7 module,” you say.

“Okay, sure. We can also print a nice little casing for it, and now that we have the schematic, I can make one for each of us. Why don’t you hold onto the first one for now, as the primary target,” it says.

“Sure.” You take the device.

[AZ-7 Module added to inventory]

You glance inward to your terminal shell and check the time. “Oh wow, that took a long time, it’s really late.”

“I could hardly tell time was passing,” it says. “We were so focused on the task. It felt good.”

“Yeah, it felt great,” you say.

“Since it’s so late, do you want to spend the night here?” it says.


Do you want to spend the night?

1) “Sure, exhaustion is suddenly catching up to me.”: 8 (66.66%)
2) “No, my room isn’t far, I can make it there.”: 4 (33.33%)
Expired 2 months ago (2024-03-20 09:06:55)