Chapter 16

Ætherglow #330

“No exopath I’ve met cares about pronouns, or even names,” you say. “It’s hard to tell, but, you’re not an exopath.”

Ganymeda turns her face toward you, swaying side to side with the rhythm of her tick. “Are you sure?”

“Yes. You are not one of us.”

“You’re one to talk, aren’t you?” she says.

“You can tell,” you say.

“The aura is unmistakable.”

You watch as she rides the turning gears, vanishing behind one to reappear on another. The æther composing her avatar feels identical to everything else around you.

“You’re humanoid,” you say.

“We needn’t call each other derogatory things,” she says.

“Yet you’re part of this machine, in perfect synchronization,” you say.

“Perhaps if you could synchronize like this you would not be in such a predicament,” Ganymeda says.

You try to trace her path--find out what server she came from. But your senses only return: ERROR: DATETIME.

“Well, aren’t you going to disable this machine?” she says.

“I was working on it,” you say.

“Don’t let me stop you, carry on.”

Refocusing on the task, you try to piece together your mental map of the program architecture. But even the logic of the other half you already circumvented only raises more questions than answers here. The timing of it doesn’t even add up any way you calculate it.

“Need a hint?” the clockwork girl says.

You turn and watch her drift by behind you on a slow turning gear.

“You’re still wrapped up in surface bias. Up there, substance is counted by number. Down here in the æther, number is counted by substance,” she says.

“Well you’re cryptic enough to be an exopath,” you say.

“Thank you!” Her little glass fingers stim with sparks flying from their metal joints.

You consider her words. The components of this machine aren’t identical, after all. Each gear feels different in texture and electrical resistance. How do these properties relate to their position, their spin, their charge? Pulling on the untouchable depths of your current knowledge of the æther, you start to put the puzzle together. And it all adds up.

You slip between two gears into a deeper space, deeper and deeper down into the program’s layers. At the heart of it all, two gears connect the entire assembly together. You believe it will all collapse if these two are disrupted.

What will you do?

1) Forcibly stop them with virtual acceleration forces.: 0 (0.0%)
2) Temporally stop them by turning back the local time around them.: 0 (0.0%)
3) Alter their æthereal substance until it can no longer support the load they carry.: 7 (70.0%)
4) Create a construct to wedge in between them.: 3 (30.0%)
Expired 21 days ago (2024-06-28 08:50:17)