Chapter 3

Ætherglow #47

<< Return to Chapter 2

You leave without a word.

[7 liked that]


A month of technopath training has taught you much, and in other ways revealed just how much you have to learn. Equipped now with a functional grasp of some basic capabilities, you are about to take what should be a major step in a technopath’s education--their first trip into the æther.

In Professor Kitov’s class, Network Architecture, you have been learning all the minutia of the physical structure of that great solar-system spanning electronic communications network, and today will be the first network interface for most of your classmates, when they will dissociate their consciousness into the æther directly, and experience it as a metaconscious world. But you have already visited the mysterious realm of technopaths once before, during the incident on your shuttle trip here. Some of this information is not new to you.

You sit with your classmates in a room full of comfortable couches where you may relax as your minds drift far, far away from the material reality, the surface.

“I cannot overstate the risk we technopaths take every time we choose to dissociate into the æther,” says Professor Kitov, who becomes very serious whenever mentioning æthereal travel. “Keep in mind the threats we will face, and assess them accordingly. A loss of connection could have unpredictable effects on your mind. A transfer through an unstable connection could alter you in ways you can’t imagine. And once you step into this realm, be assured you never will think the same again, never see or feel yourself as only yourself. But above all, do not let the mesmerizing nature of the æther distract you. Even in dissociation, you must keep a clear head, keep focused on your purpose.

“In particular, be watchful for entities that appear human, but seem somehow wrong to your mind. There have been increased sightings recently of exopaths. Those rogue programs of uncertain nature are completely unpredictable, and should be ignored and avoided if encountered, just as I have taught you since you arrived.”

Kitov talks a lot in his lectures about the dangers of the æther, but speaks in especially chilling words when it comes to the concept of exopaths. Apparently, nobody is certain exactly what they are, and some doubt they exist at all. They have been speculated to be anything from hackers concealing themselves in an alien form, to malicious algorithms sent to infiltrate distant servers, to stray fragments of the broken consciousness of technopaths lost to the æther.

Whatever any of it means, ready for it or not, you are about to go there and see for yourself. Next to Kitov is a nurse from the medical center, you recognize it, Ana, who you survived the shuttle incident with. It is preparing a hypospray of dissociative medicine to administer to each of you.

“Would anyone wish to be the first?

1) volunteer to go first: 100 (100.0%)
2) wait for your time: 0 (0.0%)
Expired 2 years ago (2022-02-23 15:38:00)

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.