Chapter 15

Ætherglow #310


You carefully configure your Empathica program to project a loop of your baseline emotional state.

“I’ll wait on my mission with ÆON until after I’ve done my therapy with Akiko,” you sign.

“Okay,” Akiko signs. Your sense of her own emotional state reads similarly neutral, serene a presence as she ever projects. Synth radiates concern, but no different than before. You feel a spike of something from Zeta, but it soon falls back to its baseline. Injecting calm into your own emotional flow, you stop the false projection, satisfied that you convinced them all.

“Then let’s meet again after your synchronization session and discuss any new intel you discover,” Synth signs.

“Agreed,” you sign. “For now, ÆON Club dismissed.”

Synth stands up. “Alright. See you next time,” they sign.

“I better go get back to practice for Final,” Zeta signs. “Want to train together?”

“Sure. Go on, I’ll meet you there,” you sign. It hurries away.

Akiko takes your hand as you stand up together. She lays her other hand on top of yours and slides her fingers across the complex pattern of her fiber work on your arms. You step closer to her and kiss her. She lets go to sign.

“I gotta go too. Hope I see you soon,” she signs.

“Definitely, my next available opportunity,” you sign.

After kissing you again, she steps into the forested path and leaves you alone.

2254-11-11 11:31:03 Aydan > well friend, we have a mission to prepare for

2254-11-11 11:31:04 ÆON > But it will be some time on your side, will it not?

2254-11-11 11:31:11 Aydan > no, we’re going first. the others don’t need to know that. let’s aim to do it a week from today.

2254-11-11 11:31:12 ÆON > I understand, you have provided falsified information to intentionally mislead your friends. Fascinating.

2254-11-11 11:31:18 Aydan > opsec above all


“I deceived three people who trust me most,” you say to Professor Nezumi and the rest of your Social Engineering class. “I used technopathy to project an emotional echo. I lied about the order I would do two things in. It didn’t matter to them what order I chose, so they had no reason to suspect deception.”

“Three, all together! Above and beyond, Aydan, there’s a CommSpec in you yet,” Professor Nezumi says. “But the echo was likely unnecessary, and risked exposing your plot if your program had been detected.”

“Maybe it was overkill,” you say.

“Remember, when using social engineering, we aren’t breaking down the door. The gatekeeper will unlock it for us willingly,” he says. “Subtlety, always, no more force than needed. You must have confidence in your words alone and not overly depend on technopathy.”


“It was a good lie. The best lies are those that the target already wants to believe. Why once, when I was your age, I failed an exam objective, but convinced my professor that I passed it. She wanted me to pass because her own pride as a teacher rested on it, so the door was already unlocked,” he says.

“No you didn’t, you just made that up,” you say.

“Good sense, Aydan. How did you know?”

“I didn’t. It was convincing, but I followed an instinct to question it anyway, and then you provided me the answer,” you say.

“Or did I?” he says. “It’s also my vested interest as a professor that you all believe we’re beyond deception.”

“I guess I’ll never know, then.”

“So what do you do?” he says.

“I...assume the statement is both false and true, and plan for both,” you say.

“My teachings have not failed you, good job,” he says. “So how did it feel, Aydan, deceiving those who trust you most? Playing with that sincerely built trust as if it’s all a fiction you delicately crafted?”


Proceed to Chapter 16 >>

How did it feel?

1) “It felt wrong, uncomfortable.”: 8 (44.44%)
2) “It felt powerful! Like bending solid metal.”: 0 (0.0%)
3) “Like balancing on a narrow ledge.”: 5 (27.77%)
4) “It felt natural, all the pieces fell into place.”: 5 (27.77%)
Expired 1 months ago (2024-04-21 09:57:10)