Chapter 2

Ætherglow #44


Looking at the terminal strapped to your arm, you hastily delve into the electronic lock in your other hand. Changing one letter can break so many things. Now this lock is permanently closed until you say otherwise.

“Ready,” you say.

7 looks down at her own terminal and you feel the distinct mental jolt of connection. It’s like a worm sliding its way through the mental space that you have extended to the device, like your brain is being poked and prodded at. You instinctively try to push her out of your head, but before you can, within about seven seconds, the lock in your hand opens.

“Done,” 7 says.

You stare at the device. “So it is…”

“There was a syntax error on line 51, I corrected it,” she says. “Now should we switch roles?”

“Uh, yes. Prepare yourself.”

If you’ve learned anything, it’s that your opponent is fast and not easily deceived. Your best chance at penetrating her defenses might just be brute force in this case. And after the way you went about trying to stop her, she won’t expect it.

“Ready,” she says.

You do what you’ve practiced a thousand times now, and reach out to find the target device. She hasn’t done anything to obscure it from you. You make the connection, and waste no time sending the command to open. But it doesn’t react. You grasp in your mind the mental concept of the command, and press harder. A force pushes back, so solid it is like running into a glass wall. You try and force your way through the barrier she has put up, but the hardest exertion of your thought cannot break through.

You look up from your terminal to see her with eyes open, staring you down as you try to force your way into the extension of her mind. And as her fuchsia eyes open just a little bit wider, it’s as if the wall suddenly rushes in your direction, slamming into you with the force of an orbital collision. You feel like you’re flying backwards, uncontrollably spinning, until you realize you’re still standing right where you were. But all connection to the target has been severed. You can’t even see it anymore.

“Are you finished?” she says.

“I—I, yeah…”

“Should we try again?”

1) try defending against her again: 0 (0.0%)
2) ask her for advice: 100 (100.0%)
Expired 2 years ago (2022-02-15 15:30:00)

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.