Chapter 4

Ætherglow #72



At Introductory Cybernetics Theory class, you are currently touching grass. Though Professor Reina has a classroom in the Communication School building, her class almost always meets out here in the garden. The texture of plants is still a novel experience for a Lunatic like you. A blade of grass can be so soft, or sharp and jagged, depending on how you handle it. You feel you could learn something from that.

You’re getting lost in thought again. It’s so easy to do out here in this garden that you wonder how Earthlings ever managed to stay focused long enough to invent spaceflight in the first place. You’ve completely lost track of what your professor is infodumping about today.

“It’s going to take a lot longer for this little ecosystem to have a healthy, thriving mycelium network,” Professor Reina says, sitting across from you and your classmates and admiring a mushroom growing in the shadow of one of the larger trees. “But eventually, with enough time and care, their little fibrous tendrils will stretch from one side of this colony to the other! My successors won’t be able to get rid of them if they wanted to! Even though today it’s still a fragile organism that needs constant love and care.”

Professor Reina almost blends into the plantlife around her, with flowery vines interwoven with the braids of her black hair and leading down under the semi-transparent sleeves of her coat, made of some kind of organic material you aren’t at all sure the nature of. You can recognize the tattoos on her arms almost blending into the vines--the molecular shapes of estradiol and progesterone--in white ink that glows in the emerging sunlight against her light brown skin.

“Oh...” she looks up as a sunbeam washes over her through the tree branches above. “It’s about time to let you go.”

You’re not sure at this point if she even referenced her interface to check the time or if she just has that good of a grasp on the colony’s rotation. In fact, you hardly see her verifiably use technopathy at all, yet her understanding of networks seems to surpass anyone in this colony, even Professor Kitov. You think she must be frightening to behold in the æther.

Your classmates are standing up and leaving, but before you can, some familiar faces arrive. Four birds gently glide to a landing forming a circle around you. Alpha a, Alpha b, and Proxima, and the big one, Sagittarius A. You know exactly what they want, and you produce the bag of plant seeds from your pocket to give them some. After getting their tribute, the tight-knit flock relocates with an elegant leap and flap to the side of Professor Reina’s student assistant, Akiko.

“They really like you now Aydan!” Akiko signs to you. After a few months with the neural interface, your grasp of her language is fairly fluent at this point.

“They really like food,” you sign.

“It’s more than that I’m sure,” she signs.

Just then you’re brought back from this woodland realm to the reality of your technological nature when your interface sends a notification of a message to your brain. Then a second, from different people--Vik and Zeta--who probably don’t even know each other, but messaged you within seconds of each other.

What will you do?

1) check your messages: 50 (50.0%)
2) they can wait, stay here in nature's embrace a little longer: 50 (50.0%)
Expired 2 years ago (2022-04-06 01:05:00)

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.