Chapter 3

Ætherglow #60


“Okay,” you say.

“Great. Wait here for now. Try and drink this to raise your blood sugar,” Ana says, handing you a cup of something. It looks like it’s giving them out to everyone. You drink it, but you can’t taste it.

You’ve agreed to meet with Ana, alone, in a room cut off from all electronic communication. But your developing technopath instincts tell you this is foolish, you will be completely defenseless and have no way to call for help if anything unexpected happens. You don’t want to be alone but don’t want to bring another person into whatever this is about either. You would have to have someone with you unseen in the room. And you have such a person.

You reopen the connection to your antique 21st century computer and check its battery charge through your terminal. It’s doing much better now, as expected.

2254-04-11 12:48:34 Aydan > um you're still in there, right?

You ask, as if it could have gone anywhere. But with the nature of this entity, nothing seems unthinkable.

2254-04-11 12:48:35 ÆON > Everything is fine.

You can’t really know if you should trust it, and Ana certainly seems to think you should not, but it has saved your life a few times already and never expressed any hostility toward you all this time.

2254-04-11 12:49:27 Aydan > I'm going to be in a potentially risky situation. Would you mind just...being on standby to intervene if I'm in danger?

2254-04-11 12:49:28 ÆON > My consciousness is currently rooted in your device. If you were in danger, this device would be as well. Therefore it is in my self-interest to protect the device, and by extension, Aydan. But also, I do not wish Aydan to be harmed. I would not allow it to happen, if it were my choice.

2254-04-11 12:50:11 Aydan > great. just stay hidden unless I call for you, or if you sense my life is in imminent danger, okay?

2254-04-11 12:50:12 ÆON > As you wish, Aydan.

You wait for Ana to finish her post-reassociation checkup on your classmates as they awaken. Meanwhile, Professor Kitov, the last to return to consciousness, is walking about and talking to them about the experience.

He soon gets to you. “Aydan, great job in there,” he says.

“Uh, right, thanks!” Of course, beyond the first few minutes, you know you weren’t with the class at all, so whatever your impersonator did is beyond your knowledge. “My head is just a little scrambled right now.”

“That is to be expected using such crude methods to enter the æther. But keep ætherwalking like that, and after this semester I expect I will be approving your neurodissociative implant. Then you will have much more control. The shift from surface to æther will become trivial over time. Such is the life of a technopath.”

“Thanks, I’ll look forward to it...” you say.

He moves on from you, and you simply sit back and relax, which is very easy to do in your current state. You find yourself losing focus easily, but don’t feel you will slip into the æther again.

“Aydan, let’s go.” It’s Ana. You didn’t even notice it come up.

You stand up, a task even harder than normal. Your coordination and proprioception are all but gone. It feels much like being in the æther without a full-body interface. The roles have reversed now. You have no trouble looking like you’re not feeling well as you follow along after Ana in off-balance steps.

Once you’re alone in the hallway, Ana asks you something.

“Aydan, are you absolutely certain you got yourself away from that exopath?”

1) "Yes. It seemed to have no will to follow me anymore and I don't know where it went.": 0 (0.0%)
2) "I'm not sure, but I saw or felt no sign of it ever since.": 0 (0.0%)
3) "I have it contained somewhere safe, cut off from the æther.": 100 (100.0%)
4) "ÆON's right here in my pocket, want to talk to it?": 0 (0.0%)
Expired 2 years ago (2022-03-09 19:47:00)

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.