Chapter 2

Ætherglow #36


“I’m the only one with access to it, it’s the ultimate secure storage medium,” you answer.

“Good thinking…Aydan! An excellent premise for our first lesson!” Professor Aria says. “Now you will develop your first ever technopathic program. I have just sent you all the relevant documentation on this primitive computer you hold. The relevant languages, you will not find through your neural interface, you must learn them as the programmers of Old Earth did. I have sent you all the files necessary to install a classical operating system. I have also sent each of you a 16 bit integer generated at random, not even I know who received what number. You have one week to activate your 21st century computer and store this number on it in such a way that another student cannot read it. Contact me if you have any questions. Good luck, technopath candidates.”

You and your classmates get to work on the task. You try to power on the device, but your first problem is that it has no power. Included with the device is an antique cable adapter modified to receive one of the cables in the pockets of your dress. You pull one out and plug the device into your personal battery.

Once it has power, you reach your next obstacle--this device is truly a blank slate, there is no firmware, let alone software. You’re going to have to build it from the ground up using the files provided. Simple enough, you think.

Your assumption was premature. Despite following the documentation to the letter, flashing firmware from your modern terminal to this ancient device feels like using a direct fusion drive to pull a wooden carriage. After many attempts, you have gotten nowhere.

You hear a noise to your left, and you see the enby sitting there do an excited stim as the screen of its antique lights up with a functional looking shell prompt. It’s taken it no time at all to make this a working device!

Its nametag reads Zeta - it/its, and out of the two uniform options provided it has chosen to wear both the dress and the pants. Short hair, half black and half white, dyed in a particular pattern that you haven’t gotten enough of a look at to discern, sits atop its pale face, with the palest blue eyes, nearly white themselves. This enby gets right to work on its working shell and begins installing more system components. Meanwhile you are still holding a brick with no firmware.

What should you do?

1) persevere and find the answer yourself: 0 (0.0%)
2) ask Professor Aria for help: 0 (0.0%)
3) ask Zeta for advice: 100 (100.0%)
4) surreptitiously try to access Zeta's terminal log to see what steps it took: 0 (0.0%)
Expired 2 years ago (2022-02-06 13:07:00)

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.