Friday, 31 October 2008

A realisation I thought I'd share....

Excerpted from a comment I posted over here:

[...] for me, what's interesting about AT1 is that in some ways it's really Mir's story-- Mir's and Lyner's, a story about how he grows to realise what she used to know but forgot, and how the two of them bring that knowledge together to change the world for the better.

I find that a pretty potent realisation, since while it's obvious to anyone that the story of Ar Tonelico is about realising that conflict only begets more conflict and that the only way to escape the cycle is to put our weapons down, the particular symmetry being employed here is something I hadn't quite noticed before.

Two people, at the beginning of Ar Tonelico, exist in very different worlds, mutually unable to understand each other, mutually antagonistic. Yet they both have the capacity to understand each other perfectly; they just need to realise that. Lyner has to learn how; and when he decides to reach out to Mir he learns, through Harmonious, that she'd already known all along. They both, in some sense, grow towards each other, and what had seemed like an unbreachable gulf at the beginning of the game turns out to be complete understanding.

Just another of the little ways in which I think AT is surprisingly well-done.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Harmo Up! *purple sparkles fly*

I'm experiencing that weird phenomenon where I'm insufferably sleepy and groggy up until several hours after I wake up, then gradually become more alert throughout the night. As a result, I'm up at a ridiculous hour taking advantage of my (relative-- I'm still sort of drowsy, but at least not unbearably brainfoggy) clear-headedness.

Not too much to say, though, except that this passage from the Ar Tonelico OVA soundtrack commentary, translated by aquagon, really moved me:

Ishibashi-san divulged a little-known episode in which it took her four days to record just one song, and she thought her heart would break in the middle of recording. Also, Mitose-san related the story of how she recorded in a booth for hours in midsummer heat of over 40 degrees Celsius, then ended up dreaming in the Hymmnos language.

...waaah. I just, I love these people. I love their passion, I love their devotion, and every time I read aquagon's translations of the Hymmnos commentaries I glimpse a little bit more of that devotion. I wish I could tell them all how much it means to me that they care this much, and how much I care as well.

Thank you, aquagon, for letting me see into these people's hearts. Thank you, everyone, all of you who care, for your caring. Uwaaaa~.

(Hee, haounomiko, you were right when you said it's easy to see why I like Mir so much. I just... want to pour out my love to the world and never stop, I guess.)

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Soul food from Japan.

I like that Shigeru Miyamoto considers the enrichment of our souls important, and that he thinks it can happen-- that it does happen, right here and right now-- through videogames.

You know, every so often I'll stumble across a screed by some games developer or another that waxes lyrical about their creation in terms that seem to suggest they truly understand the power of fiction to take people over, and see that as an inspiring thing: "we want this game to touch your soul"; "we hope you'll be transported to this game's world"; "please let the characters live on in your heart"; "don't let even death keep you from playing until the end!" Lately, in particular, I've been reading a lot of commentary from the singers responsible for the AT vocal tracks, who in many cases were also the lyricists and composers of the songs, and the breathless way in which they present their work makes it sound as if they believe their songs are one step short of truly being magic. Akira Tsuchiya, head of the sound team and ultimate mastermind behind the series-- I think it's no coincidence that a man known chiefly for his musical expertise is at the forefront of a project to which music is central-- talks in commentary of how the opening lines of the first game's opening song cast a "summoning spell" to draw us into that world. The singers call themselves "Reyvateils" and talk of how they can imagine that Reyvateils really exist not far from us. They repeatedly talk about wanting to flood our hearts and souls with the power of their songs.

Such unabashed, world-blurring love for their craft. And what I'm noting in all of this is that every time I've seen this utter sincerity and fervent hope that the players are truly drawn into the world, that they make it their home, that it will truly transform their hearts, that it can and should matter to them, it's from Japanese staff.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not going on a "Japanese art is superior!!11!" rant here. I'm just curious, because this seems to be a fairly consistent pattern, and I'm genuinely wondering if there's a mindset more encouraged in the Japanese culture that allows developers to bare their hearts about things like this (and possibly, has also encouraged otakudom to spiral to the heights it does there, even if such extremes aren't necessarily well tolerated). Because I really can't imagine too many American developers being this... touchy-feely about their games; the sense I've always got from interviews with directors of Western media has been "hey, we hope you enjoy it! Get out there and have fun with our stuff!" American developers talk about games in terms of fun, playability, challenge. Japanese developers talk about them in terms of heart, soul, idealistic concepts like don't let even death keep you from playing until the end, if you're going to love the characters then love them wholeheartedly and don't let go. I've never heard an American games developer express concern over how I personally bonded to the characters beyond perhaps "we hope you like the personalities we've created in this game".

And I guess, because that's the way I ultimately look at gaming, because I want to be surrounded by people who look at gaming that way, I'm curious as to what drives this. I'm curious as to whether it's the culture that inspires people to open up this way, or if it's a counterculture springing back from a society wound too tight. I'm curious as to whether this is everywhere, or just in gaming. I'm curious as to whether it's as common in gaming as I think. I want to know because, frankly, I could eat this kind of talk up all day, all month, all year, and never want it to stop.

Love them wholeheartedly and don't let go? I thought you'd never ask.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Reflections on reflections....

So I've been reflecting on the wait for AT we still have ahead of us (yes, we've been waiting so long that some of us have now turned to thinking about waiting!), and I've realised that... even if in some ways it's frustrating to have to wait, and some days I really just want to dive into (no pun intended) the heart of the game itself and drink in all it has to offer, be thrilled and elated and moved to tears by having it hit me all at once, there's something precious about this time right now, too.

I've heard enough to anticipate, to be already putting together my own pictures in my head of what the story will bring. I'm sure there are parts of the actual game that will exceed my imaginings, surprise me, move me in ways I'd never have thought of; I've been told that there are events I'm going to love. I'm sure once it's done I'll be brimming with new tales to tell, new ways to expand upon and spin out the vast amount of information I've taken in and emotion I've been inspired to. But I'm sure there are things that will go completely other than I imagine in ways that aren't necessarily better than my own ideas, just different. And I'm sure there are things where I'll say, "you know, I liked the way it went in my head better". And once I've seen the real thing, the imaginings in my head just won't be quite the same. They won't seem as valid, won't seem as "real", compared to what's actually in front of me.

I'm sure, when all is said and done, the complete experience that is AT2 will, overall, exceed the projected experience I've created in my head. I'm sure I won't mind having to let go of some of my ideas about the game in exchange for being presented with a story that fuels my imagination in whole new ways. I'm just saying that what I have right now is special, also, in that these moments I have with my own constructed image of what the game is like won't last forever; instead of waiting impatiently for them to be over so that I can have the real thing, I should cherish what's in my head, too, and enjoy the game later, when it's its time.

We don't often stop to reflect on the fact that for every anticipated thing-- an event, a visit to a new destination, or anything else-- there's a picture of it in our mind that we once obsessed over, and that we never quite retain once the real thing is over. Even if the real thing turns out to improve upon that picture in every way, it's still something that should be valued while you have it, because it's unique.

Not very coherent today, and this probably would have made more sense if I felt more awake, but it was running through my head, so....

Friday, 24 October 2008

Birthdays and delays, just in time for the holidays...

So as people on the forums have mentioned, it's AT2's first birthday tomorrow: October 25th. Seems strange to say about a game most of us haven't played yet, but it came out in Japan one whole year ago; I really feel like we should do something, but I'm not sure what. Make some Funbuns? At the very least, it's worth marking the date in your minds and saying a little thank you to those who made possible this series we treasure.

In other date-related news, AT2 won't be seeing Western shores until January, Siliconera announces. Sad news, but given recent controversy over NISA's QC we hope it's to allow them to improve the quality of the final release... and personally, this hopefully means I'll get to play at the same time as everyone else, and spend a little more time with the game when I do. So for me, at least, it's not all bad news... but still, having to hold out even longer through the cold winter months is a bit of a chilling thought. Anyone for a rousing campfire song?

Thursday, 23 October 2008

HARMONIOUS_FUSION, in more than one sense...

...No, I did not find this by searching on what you think I searched on. (Warning: some mild AT2 spoilers behind link. If you want the file minus the spoilers, I've uploaded it here; credit goes to Palsa/Steven Hancock.)

What is it? It's the intros to Misha's and Mir's versions of Harmonious, mashed up together. It sounds really, really nice; surprisingly nice for what is basically one track laid on top of another. It's pretty musically, and it's pretty in concept, that concept being "Misha and Mir singing together, awwww". Too bad it's only the intro, and it cuts out pretty abruptly (another second or two on the playtime would have been nice); I'd have liked it to go on still further, but I suppose the full versions overlaid would have sounded awfully cacophonous. (Edit: I've tried. They do. Ah well.)

In any case, this gave me happy musical shivers, so I thought I'd share so you could all get happy musical shivers too. :)

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The Recursive Reyvatowel, and other stories

So when I told a friend of mine about the Ar Tonelico II towels you can get, she said "are the girls wearing towels on the towels, and are the towels they are wearing the same as the towels they're on?" I said yes to the former, but no to the latter; they're just wearing plain towels. She said they should be wearing the towels they're on. I thought this would be amusing, so I cooked up this little recursive number. Feel your eyes, and mind, expand as you contemplate infinity...

(I sort of wanted to make a Mir recursive towel, especially because recursion and Mir seem to go well together, but she isn't actually in a towel on her towel. Also, she looks extremely peeved on it. I think the creation of that towel may have actually singlehandledly put humanity at risk from a Third Reyvateil War.)

And yes, that is a censor mosaic on her install port symbol. I support Reyvateil rights, and the gratuitous use of such a private and personal symbol in Ar Tonelico art is something I feel like doing my bit to counter; it must be so embarrassing for them just having that plastered everywhere. So there you go. :)

On other topics, I was discussing how Reyvateils get all their MP back so quickly once they've exhausted it, and I speculated that it's because they have a Tower connection. My friend said that they don't develop the fullest connection to Ar Tonelico until the 9th level of their Cosmospheres, so wouldn't their MP recover faster after that? And I thought about it, and I realised something-- isn't the Third Generations die so young that they can't handle all the power from the Tower coming to them? From that, you'd actually think that going all the way through their Cosmospheres would make them weaker, as they're suddenly flooded with even more of the Tower's energy.

So why doesn't completing Third Generations' Cosmospheres do them harm?

Myths From a Dying Underground -- Ar Tonelico fanfiction (OC, 898 words, no warnings)

"One week to live. Please help."

Just by looking at her, you could tell, even without the flimsy paper sign hanging around her neck. She looked like all the other Diquility-starved Reyvateils haunting the mazy back streets of Firefly Alley: too desperate for the life-extender to waste money on food, in these last days they deprived their already failing bodies of nutrients in exchange for one last shot at life. Sallow and sunken-eyed, their lank hair drawing attention to the thinness of their features, they all filtered down, eventually, to this landfill of civilisation, to congregate like shadows in half-lit little corridors and under the awnings of ramshackle shops.

When there were elephants on the land, in the days before the wars, the legend ran that they made their way to agreed resting grounds to die: the elephant graveyards. The catacombs of Firefly Alley, they called this place. The Reyvateil graveyards. It was truer than the myth.

No one seemed to know why they gathered here; there were tourists to be had out on the main streets, while these shallows gathered only the dying and forlorn. Perhaps they knew their place; as there is a time to die, so is there a space, and the thought of contaminating the bright streets with their hopelessness might have upset their sense of beauty. Perhaps it was simply that a creature facing this most transformative of life events seeks to dwell only with others who walk the same path; all else is noise, distraction.

Or perhaps, something greater pulled them here; the touch of an invisible hand from some more noble plane. That was what Ryewa Alancis would believe, later, when she thought of what had occurred among the detritus of Firefly Alley that night.

The Goddesses' messenger, if such it was, moved easily among the shadows; almost blending in, in the dark robes that hung from its near-skeletal figure, yet with an alacrity to its steps that no other here possessed, it was them and was, at the same time, more than they could ever be. It travelled between them like a virus, seeking out hunched forms and trembling bodies with the eyes of a hawk, plucking out from beneath the garbage those who had crawled away to die; and to each one of them it said something murmured too softly to be heard, and it took their palms in its, in a manner wary and covert. Those whom it had visited stayed silent, but their hands were clutched to their breasts, and there was a life in their eyes almost matching that of the fleeting, flitting figure who had, it was evident, come to spread a holy joy among the dying.

Ryewa felt her heart beating faster as she watched the figure criss-cross the catacombs, slowly making its way closer to her. She was so fascinated with each transaction that she had not stopped to count whether it touched everyone: what if it did not come to her? She prayed silently not to be passed over, not to be abandoned by this one last miracle, this futile, yet magnificent, raging of the light against the darkness.

Yet even in her breathless hope she wondered as to the nature of this messenger. They were shadows by necessity; this being was shadow by choice. What would possess someone to dress in such dark raiment, and come down here, amongst the filthy and afflicted, to spread some strange benediction? Maybe it was mad, and its "wisdom" equal madness, that only touched the hearts of her fellows because they too hovered on sanity's brink. Maybe it was cruel, and the cruelty caked in sweetness, such that it could not be detected until it was too late. Yet equally, she wondered, what really was left to lose? --a gamble with bliss, or a certain slow fading; given the option, why not grab at her last chance at happiness? And so she resolved, if the stranger came to her side, to sit peacefully, and not to flinch or scream or run away. None of the others had, but then of course one always thinks oneself more astute than one's peers, and Ryewa had been a canny girl, in life.

And then, before she had the chance to further worry about whether it would come, it was upon her; and what she had not noticed before that she noticed now was that it knelt down to each one, the better to be on eye level with the Reyvateils who were mostly slumped or sprawled out upon the ground. And what she saw beneath the hood twinged at the failing recesses of her memory, but cleverly the woman gave her no time to process this, leaning in against her shoulder and whispering as she pressed something warm and hard into her hands, Look only when you are alone, and tell no one; and I will come again.

And then she was up and moving, and Ryewa tried to say something, but all the words fell out of her mouth and turned to dust; but she turned over the crystal in her hands, carefully, secretly, and she knew that the gratitude reached her eyes, and that would have to be enough.

Of course she wouldn't tell. What was she going to say, anyway?

"Mir saved my life"?

Who would believe that?

She wasn't even sure she did.

From the author: Heavily inspired by the legends reputedly invented by street children, such as the ones described in the now fairly famous article Myths Over Miami. I find these stories fascinating and haunting, and tried to recapture some of that forlorn and mythic atmosphere in this piece.

Monday, 20 October 2008

A scattershot update....

Just a recap on the State Of The Fandom...

I managed to hunt down the drama CD for a certain Reyvateil we all know and love (ironically enough, on the same day my actual physical copy came in the mail), so for those looking for Ar Tonelico II's Drama CD Vol. 3 - Side Jakuri, head on over to the AT soundtracks thread on FFshrine and let MegaUpload sort you out, courtesy of Aquagon, who was kind enough to add this to the huge collection of AT stuff already there once I pointed him its way. I'm sort of proud of being the first one on the forums to find this... and to think that if I'd only waited a few hours, I could have given him the version ripped straight from my own copy, too.

Now laugh at me as I attempt to figure out even the barest bones of what they're saying...

Also, because I have to show this off, here's the (un)officially certified proof of my Mir fandom, as served up by this quiz:

...what the image doesn't tell you is that getting this perfect score took me a considerable amount of trial and error (probably about forty tries), but hey, I'm sure Mir of all people would have respect for my brute-force hackery. Translated by Lazy, here's the little dialogue I got from this...

Shurelia: Finally you reached this place... Ayulsa-san, nice to meet you.
Mir: Wait, don't be saying everything yourself!!
Tastelia: Isn't that nice? Ayulsa-san, now you'll be known by everyone for getting absolute 100 points!
Mir: ...

Mir: Just this time, I'll express my gratitude.
...Th, thank you.

Ayulsa-san's Lucky Item

And last, but most certainly not least, Mir hopes you're all registered to vote...

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Avoid Mana Energy Potions -- this stuff has the power to mess you up!

I interrupt my normal blogging theme here for something of a product safety warning. Recently I sampled a product called the Mana Energy Potion, meant to boost energy and provide mental stimulation for gamers. My experience with it was... worrying, to say the least, and since I'm not allowed to leave a review on or any other major site unless I actually buy the product there (I bought it in person from Fry's Electronics), I thought I'd review it here in hopes that this gets out to at least some people who are looking for information on this product. I will note that I've consumed energy drinks and other highly caffeinated products before, with no ill effects.

It tastes quite disgusting, and there were some minor side effects almost immediately (such as slight nausea, although that could have been from the taste), but that's not what's really relevant here. What is relevant is that, an hour or so into the experience, I lost my ability to think clearly or to experience any kind of emotional reaction except a frustrating, depressing apathy. I couldn't even get a clear handle on who I was, which was extremely worrisome. I drank a lot of water and ate some food in an attempt to get it out of my system, which seems to have mostly completed itself (possibly partly due to the water, and I think in large part due to the fact that my body wanted rid of this stuff, I've been using the restroom constantly).

I feel somewhat back to normal now, and I'm sure I'll be completely fine soon, but my experiences make me worry that someone already in a depressed mood might have a major reaction triggered by this product. I was willing to do pretty much anything to make me feel better, which could have led, if I were less stable, to some very dangerous actions. I don't think it's safe, and I want to warn people away from using it. I didn't really experience any positive side effects, and I didn't even feel that energetic.

So, yes. Not Worth It, in my opinion.

Feel free to link to this review or reproduce the text of it elsewhere.

Friday, 17 October 2008

eating, sleeping and breathing song magic

So I'm playing through Misha's path right now for the first time, and I've noted that she says that she really was singing constantly: from sunrise to sunset, and to sunrise again. It really sounds like she didn't sleep, and I seem to recall that one of the talk topics around this time confirms that she was only able to sleep normally recently.

So it's pretty much assured that she didn't eat, drink or sleep as a regular person would need to. Therefore, I'm imagining she must have had to be on some sort of life support; constantly hooked up to a machine that would give her nutrients, shut down parts of her brain on a preset schedule so that she could get something resembling rest while still singing, and so forth. Or perhaps the lack of rest is why Star Singers die so young; but presumably she would need at least some infusion of chemicals and energy to keep her awake, and this assumes that Reyvateils don't quickly go mad from lack of sleep, as humans would.

Does anyone have any ideas on how the heck Misha, or any of the Star Singers, stayed alive all that time?

Also, I've noted that she talks about "a silver fence with treasure behind it" in one of her talk topics, but we couldn't see a fence like this in the Chronicle. What specifically is going on with this? (Yes, bear with me, this is the first time I've played Misha's path. Not actually having the game with me impedes my ability to replay somewhat.)

Thursday, 16 October 2008

On Mir and redemption.

So I was musing about something I said to elhermano/Dustiferous back in a comment on one of my earlier entries: about how Mir didn't want redemption.

Redemption is a tricky phrase to clarify. There are a number of concepts involved in treating your enemies sympathetically and giving to them rather than defeating them, and the associated changes that might occur in them, and I think "redemption" gets used as a catch-all; it's the word for "what happens to villains when you don't kill them", but that's not always it. Redemption implies saving someone from themselves, taking them out from under the weight of their own cruelties and giving them perspective.

I was saying that Mir didn't want redemption, and I think that that's not strictly true in that sense of redemption; I do think she wanted to be saved from her own cruelties. But I think I had an impression of what redemption meant at the time that wasn't quite correct. I was sort of thinking of... a heavy-handed kind of redemption where someone goes up and goes "by the superior moral wisdom invested in me, I hereby declare that you were utterly wrong by some absolute standard, and now you'll turn into a contrite little bundle of tears and regret as I lift your sins from you". Which... sort of is what happened, but not quite; I think the word was implying to me at the time that she was a capital-V Villain who needed to be forced out of her normal personality and made to see the error of her ways, rather than someone who fundamentally could have seen them anyway and just had a layer of confusion laid on top of that.

Basically, I got the feeling that what Mir needed was not to be subjected to litanies about why she was bad in order to make her contrite, but to have the part of her that would have naturally contradicted those things shine through. "Redemption" implies that something fundamental about her needed to be altered; we say things like "this program/project/piece of art can be redeemed if we just add this and this to change it, to shift it from its original intent". Mir's heart was already good; she didn't need to be changed. She just needed to be realigned with her original intentions. She was right (she wanted a peaceful world), she was just doing the wrong thing, and telling her she needed to be redeemed would have only got her hackles up and made her defensive, because she knew she didn't want anything bad, she was just having a hard time seeing her way to it.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Things Mir doesn't ever want to hear you say...

Old analysis is old (a couple of weeks old, as it happens), but posting it anyway, because I had it written up and the forgot about it...

Just listening to some clips of EnglishDub!Mir over here, and wow... while I generally dislike the dub of AT, and I know this particular part is almost certainly unintentional given how sheerly random the VAs seem to be with matching up their intonation to their intent... the part of this scene where Mir's saying "Don't worry. Everything will be fine." at 4:49 is just dripping with bitterness, to my ears, in a way that made me shiver. I'm just hearing such an undertone of "...yes. Everything will be fine, humans. Just like back when I was under your control and you always told me, 'Don't worry. Everything will be fine.' just before you put me through the next round of agony. So I hear you think suffering is just fine? Then I'm sure you'll like this."

I know I'm reading way too much into it, because frankly I just don't trust the dubbers to be that good (even if Mir's English VA did do some work on Silent Hill), but still, effectively cringe-inducing if you think of it like that.

(I'm now imagining her actually having a kneejerk reaction to the phrase if it's said to her by other people, in a "yes, that's what people always say when they want me to lie down and take it. Do you really think I'm going to fall for it again?" sort of way.)

Also, been poking through Mary Elizabeth McGlynn's works on YouTube; she's the English VA for Mir, and she's done a good deal of work for the Silent Hill series. I don't consider her voice to be very Mir-like; I personally think Ellen McLain, voice of GLaDOS in Portal, should have voiced her instead, though NISA probably couldn't afford to hire her, since they're a small outfit. I haven't actually played the game, but from the song Still Alive I can tell that she's got the right mix of childlike innocence and bitter sarcasm down, and if you listen to her in the verse beginning "Go ahead and leave me" in particular, she sounds a lot more like the Japanese Mir than McGlynn does.

Still, though, what I've noticed about McGlynn's works for Silent Hill is that they actually fit Mir very well, for the most part. I've personally fallen in love with "I Want Love" as a potential song from Mir to AT2's protagonist, depending on how I end up feeling about that pairing; it's exactly the kind of love song I think she'd offer, a desperate plea in recognition of the fact that nothing less than deep and genuine caring can stop her feeling like she can never be sated. "I need a miracle and that's what I'm hoping for" is basically Mir in a nutshell; she needs and wants something utterly transformatory, and she won't stop holding out for it. If a certain hero can fill that role for her, I'll be pleased, but they'll have to do it right.

"Let Me Out" and "Shot Down in Flames", on the other hand, are two rather creepy songs that I think fit Mir's time spent in captivity and her subsequent escape, respectively, very well. Going to do a little breakdown of the latter as I think it relates to her, because I can:

Swear at the walls
They make fun of me
Day after day
Eyes that follow me
Is it you again?
Can this be the end forever?

This first verse is fairly obvious; it's all about being trapped and being watched. The walls make fun of her because she can't escape; their existence mocks her, and she can't escape the eyes of the researchers with their cameras constantly trained on her. "Is it you again?": the same old faces, never offering her anything she needs. "Can this be the end forever?" makes me think of Mir's witnessing her old personality, her good-natured self, being smothered beneath her rage and wondering if this is really the end of the self she knew.

See through your eyes
Child's heart that cries
Raven flight, flies

Mir saying "look at this as a human being for once, not just as a scientist, and see how horrible it is". Plus bonus bird imagery!

And the meaning dies
As it was before
It will be no more
Time does that

Time is taking its toll on her; she's trying to hold out hope, to continue to be who she was, but it's becoming harder and harder to see the good in life as her anger consumes.

Say it again
Like you said
Does it sound like you?
Where are you now?

Mir saying to her captors, "have you ever listened to the words you say to me? Have you looked at yourselves in the mirror lately? Do you know what monsters you really are?"

Does the young one know you're here?
Breath on the glass
Once again
Feel her pull you in
Nobody leaves
You won't let you
You're afflicted

Like most of the song, this is all a bit disjointed and hard to parse, but I see it as Mir imagining her captors looking in at her through the glass and being unable to forget the cruelty they're witnessing, but being unable to leave the project because they're too afraid to admit their own guilt. Though, in my fanfic universe, a few people did leave the project early on or were fired from it, more people stayed than you'd expect; leaving would have forced them to confront the fact that they'd done something wrong, and that admission would have been too traumatic for most of them, so they buried the guilt further and further down under layers of scar tissue, becoming utterly callous and cold.

Can you hide who you are?
Take a look at yourself

Mir reiterating that those who hold her prisoner need to face up to themselves.

Can you stop what will be?
You think running will help?

This is one of those lines that I just think fits Mir's raging bitterness perfectly. It's the classic triumphant crowing of a villain as they prepare to destroy everything in their path. "You can't outrun me! You can't escape my wrath!"

Can't give up on the past
When the past never ends

Mir doesn't feel like she can escape the pain of her past, and now she's going to manifest that pain and bring it into the present for everyone else. The repercussions of the past never ended for her, so why should they for anyone else?

Now the dead that you raised
Live in me

They tried to kill her emotions, and now they've raised up the angry, twisted things they created and crushed down by continuing to provoke her.

What have you done?
You're insane
Can you bring God down?

Mir's commentary on the scientists "playing God" with her.

Plans that you made
Don't include me
One more time

Oh, their plans included her; but not as an equal, not as a person, only as a slave. Their plans never took into account what she wanted.

But I will dance
On the wind
Breathing in your heart

Mir is free, and she guarantees you'll never forget her. The images of the fragile, gentle creature you broke will continue to haunt you.

Your sacrifice
Wasn't wanted
Still you try

There's sort of a parallel here between Mir's own sacrifices (the energy and love she put into her songs) not being wanted, and the idea that all the energy the scientists have invested into controlling Mir is something she ultimately rejects.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Thy Fearful Symmetry -- Ar Tonelico fanfiction (Mir/OC, 1,400 words, mild aggression, mild intimacy)

I've been hanging onto this one for a while, but here's something from the AT Whistleblower universe, set two days after what is currently Chess' final log. I would have entered it as one of his logs along with the rest, but I thought it was a little too long and too elaborate to be a true blog entry, so I'm posting it as a standalone (though it probably won't make much sense if you haven't read at least his earlier logs).

Probably rates as about a PG-13, American standards? It's unsettling, but in a way that's all suggestion.

Oh, and before we break into the fic proper, a few musical sidenotes (this is Ar Tonelico fic, after all): the dialogue in this was heavily inspired by Want [lyrics|download], a rather villainous little spoken-word track by Recoil, though the song I've found myself associating most with their relationship is Break Me Shake Me [lyrics|download] by Savage Garden. ("I used to move you in a way that you've never known/But then I accused you in a way that you've never known/But you hurt me in a way that I've never known...").

Also, for those who've read Of One Blood, I got recommended a song that befits it wonderfully, Bound in Blood by Hungry Lucy. Lyrics here, and the song is here. It really does match what's going on from Mir's perspective in that fic incredibly well, so I heartily recommend you go listen.

And without further ado, fic time.

--November 14, 3420--

Sunset turns the blood in her eyes into thick, black oil, impenetrable. I search them for some glimmer of life, for some reminder that she's human, but of course, she's not. All I see is the reflected haze of the dying sun, drowning in her eyes like she's drinking it in, swallowing it up. Her gaze is a tractor beam because behind it, there's only a vacuum.

She used to be human, but we tore out her soul, and now she's sucking in life to fill the void, but she's never going to stop being hungry. And soon the world will be a small, dead, shrivelled thing in the palm of her hand, and she'll be alone in nothingness, crying and clinging to dust.

At least, that's what flashes through my mind, the primal part of my brainstem that I try to bury in rationality, when she fixes her eyes on me. I feel like a tiger's prey must feel, stripped of all emotions save wonder and fear; the inevitability of death grips me, and my pulse is sharp and icy in my throat, but I cannot help but marvel at the form, the sinews, the cruel and perfect grace of death's arbiter. Lean, like a starved animal, she's a human with all humanity burned away: all the excess, all the lies. She's less than animal. She is pure intent.

"I would always hear songs... about the stars," she says, and just like that day when I discovered the truth, her words catch me off guard. I'd been so wrapped in my imaginings, my dark-goddess fantasies, that coherent words from her were a surprise. They don't taint the image, though. They fall from her tongue like sour benedictions.

I look where she's looking, and true to her words, a few bright points of light are already visible. The strong ones, not swamped by evening glow.

"I never thought I'd see them. You have to remember... it was thirty years before I ever saw this world, this... real world, outside of corridors and empty cells." Her fingers rub the guard rail, a self-comforting gesture. I see this, and hear her high, frail voice, and I hear the words thirty years, and it doesn't quite fit together. "And when I did, I was so angry."

"Angry... why?" I'm surprised I dared to speak. My mouth tastes of evening dust, airship fuel.

She turns around, and my heart jumps: this is it. "Because it always sounded like humans felt such powerful hope when they looked at the stars, and nature, and all those things. And I couldn't see anything meaningful at all. They were dead to me." She pauses, feeling out her words with the tip of her tongue, letting the meaning sink in for both of us. "And I knew then that they'd taken something I could never get back."

I nod; a poor response. She says it all. There's nothing really left to add.

As such, she changes topic.

"I didn't think I would ever see you again."

I'm trying to make out the tone in her words. It's not relief, not curiosity... there's no fondness to it, no softer emotion. It's almost mocking, but there's something else behind it, some little undercurrent that worries at my veins like a knife-edge. Pure hate I can handle, but now I've lost sight of her intent.

She moves before I can track her, liquid shadow, and my wrists are in her hands. Tiny, thin hands, like a child's. My stomach churns in memory, and she feels me squirm, and she smiles at me, and that is almost fond. Oh, gods. She hates me so much she's almost infatuated with it. I've been waiting for death, but now instinct kicks in. Her hands are all clammy. Please, have mercy I don't deserve, and make this quick.

She leans her head against my shoulder, against my collarbone, hmming softly. An audible smile. "This feeling. This little flash of emotion, in you, now. Is it worth it?"

"Feeling?" My voice is a croak. I don't actually know what she means.

"You know what I mean." She jerks me closer. I wish she had a scent so I could get my bearings, wish she smelt like sweat or soap or ash. Everything feels unreal. "Your desires. Have they been worth the price you're paying, now? Worth my hatred, worth my anger, worth my using you up and throwing you out like you-- used-- me?"

Yes. No. I don't know? I don't have any desires! I just wanted to help... I'm so confused.

"I know you knew." From the sound of her voice I know her teeth are bared, her lips pulled back. There's a dull pain in my wrists, but it's eclipsed by the blood rushing in my ears. "I just wanted you to know that."

I watch as she drops me at all once, walks back to the railing and takes hold of it again with bloodied nails. I can tell now: she's restless, erratic, like a tiger in a cage. She doesn't seem to know what she's doing or what she's after. She's boiling over with heated emotions, and they're breaking the surface in tiny molten trickles. I wish the sun were a little higher so the image would be complete, evening's crimson making magma of her tears.

I don't know why I'm looking for poetry in this. I shouldn't be caring about how it looks, should be wanting to help her. But I don't really care, I think, about much any more. That's why I want something to move me. I'm looking for some symmetry in her anguish, like she's looking for hope in the stars.

Likely neither of us will get what we want tonight.

"Hold me."

I laugh, disbelieving, as I walk over to her. Only a goddess like her could threaten to tear out my throat one minute and want me to hold her the next. And only someone as dead inside as me could comply. I wrap my arms around her naked shoulders. She's shivering; her damp skin is drying in the wind.

"I thought you hated me," I say.

"I want to stop hating," she says. "But I can't."

"It's funny." As long as we're being honest, I suppose. As long as my life's on the line anyway. "I want to feel something, but... I don't think I can, either."

"I wish you could take all my burning." She wraps her fingers, tacky with my blood, around my arm.

"I wish I could know what it's like. I've forgotten."

She looks up at me. From all but this close it's easy to forget she's so small. "Maybe this will help you remember," she says, and plants a searing kiss on my lips. There's desperation to it, but it's not lustful. It feels more like she's trying to pour herself into me.

I think I smile as she pulls away, out of sheer incredulity. I don't really understand, but... all right. Whatever you want. "Maybe it will help you forget." Instinctively, I tangle my hand in her dark hair, stroking the back of her neck as I coax her closer to me.

"Unlikely," she says, sadly, but she closes her eyes anyway.

She clings to me, wrapped in my coat, as we lie out on the deck. I'm sure she knows how to acquire clothing, but her mind's too disorganised for her to follow the whole process through. She probably tried before, and ended up pacing up and down some alleyway somewhere, eating stolen fruit and looking for something to kill.

She's crazy. Crazy, and that makes me immoral, but we're already so broken it hardly matters any more. We've already torn each other to pieces. If we hurt each other a little more, it's not going to make that much difference.

Her eyes are glassy, reflecting the blue-black dome of the heavens, and all the little lights therein. Without warning, she presses closer to me, and her shoulders hitch.

"It's... really beautiful up there," she says, crying like she doesn't believe and like she knows it's true all at once.

I feel my heart wrench, and a cold agony balls in my stomach. No. It does matter. It matters so damn much.

We're still alive, and as long as we're alive, there's a chance that we can be saved.

Monday, 13 October 2008

One Byte And You're Hooked -- Ar Tonelico fanfiction (Lyner/Ayatane, 822 words, shounen-ai, parody/comedy, extreme crackishness)

The second of two fics for you today (the first one is here), and this one is a little... well. Suffice to say I did this on a dare. XD

Nothing explicit, but it's pretty suggestive (about as suggestive as AT itself). Spoiler-cut in case there are people who'd rather not read Lyner/Ayatane hintings. It's pretty much just meant to be silly.

"Lyner~!" called Ayatane as he walked into the living room, hair swept back in a headscarf and a baking tray held proudly aloft. "Come and see what I made!"

"What did you make?" Lyner rose up off the couch, one eyebrow warily cocked. The sight of Ayatane in an apron was never something that quite sat well with him, for reasons he couldn't quite pinpoint but seemed to have to do with vague images of dyed pink poodles and those home decor shows they ran on the Platina Lifestyle Network.

"Cookies!" said Ayatane, his voice positively dripping with delight. "They're what I always make for Mother."

"For Mother... Mir?" said Lyner. "Ayatane, I don't think I've ever seen Mir eat anything. She certainly wouldn't be as thin as she is if she actually ate something with all those calories."

"Well, not for her for her," Ayatane said with a wave of his hand, balancing the cookie tray adeptly in the other. "For her as in... on her behalf."

On her... behalf? There was something in the tone of that statement that Lyner didn't like, but he didn't have time to protest as Ayatane slipped a morsel past his open lips. "Try it, it's really good," Ayatane gushed.

"Mmrgh mrmf mm mrlf." Lyner attempted to protest, but it was too late now; he wasn't very well going to spit it out, and besides, now that it was in there, he had to admit that the velvety smoothness of the chocolate against his lips was quite compelling. Half-resignedly, he swiped the cookie piece into his mouth with his tongue, chewed, and swallowed. "Hey, that is pretty good."

Ayatane plunked himself down on the couch, setting the tray on the coffee table and tugging Lyner down with him. "Have the rest." He handed the cookie to Lyner; it was warm and crumbly against his fingers, the chocolate just a little bit melty on the outside, the sweet aromas of baking mixed in with the fresh scent of Ayatane's hibiscus and peony shampoo. (At least, he assumed it was Ayatane's. It could have been Mir's, but only one of them struck him as the type to really care whether their shampoo was hibiscus-and-peony-scented, although he did have to admit that Mir was keeping a wonderful glossy head of hair these days now that she wasn't trying to nuke all of humanity.

"Oh, that," he heard Mir say dryly, as if she'd been reading his thoughts, which she had to have, as there was no other explanation, really. "Shurelia came over last night. Slumber party. We did each other's hair and talked about boys."

Lyner thought it better not to ask.)

That little aside dealt with, Lyner turned his attention back to the cookie (as eating and listening to someone talk at the same time would have been, he had to admit, a tricky task for him). The last wisps of chocolate still lingered on his lips from the previous bite, and he licked them off, his eyes falling half-closed in blissful reverie. "Ayatane, this stuff's really amazing. I don't even really like chocolate, but this... it's even better than Funbuns." And that was saying something, given the many long, dark nights he'd spent thinking about eating Funbuns, preferably with Misha.

And was there something else behind the taste of cocoa, something darker, more bitter-- more, dare he think it, manly? Something different from the rich sweetness of Funbuns, but appealing in its own way; it lingered on his senses, taunting. He just had to know for sure. There was no resisting it. He took another bite, this time with unabashed desire.

"It's coffee," said Ayatane, as if he'd been reading his thoughts, which he almost certainly had as well. "Java chips, to be precise." That or he was just gauging the expressions on Lyner's face, but right now Lyner didn't care if Ayatane was in his head. The feel of sweet, chewy dough that melted against his tongue, the heady scents of chocolate and coffee mingling in his nose and throat-- he could indulge in this forever, and the more he did so the more it really did feel like there was some other presence inside his mind, and the less he really minded. In fact, it was starting to feel distinctly pleasurable. Ayatane, inside him, sating his hunger, filling him up completely....

It was a while before Lyner came to his senses enough to notice Ayatane gazing at him intently. "How do you like it?" the virus purred sweetly. "Is it good?"

"Oh, yes," breathed Lyner.

"Do you want more?"

"Please, Ayatane. Please, let's not stop."

And so Ayatane "fed Lyner cookies", all night long. Oh, and he might have "set up a connection to his server" and "pinged him with data packets", too. Honestly, we're really not in a position to say.

But only because we won't get any more cookies if we do.

A Series of Fortunate Events -- Ar Tonelico fanfiction (Mir, OC Reyvateils, 1,560 words, AU, warning for extreme sappy cuteness)

Fluffy happy fanfic with Mir and a couple of OC Reyvateils. Yes, Leish is actually a male Reyvateil; he was born female and was physically altered to appear male, to match his own feelings about himself. Few people know he's a Reyvateil, though. In any case, they're properly members of the Church of Elemia, not Platina researchers; I'm just appropriating them here for a completely AU story.

"...You're not actually eating that, are you?"

"Hm?" Vianchiel looked up from the pastry she'd been prodding mercilessly with her fork, now reduced to a mess of flaky jam-smeared scraps. "No, not really." She waved a hand in the direction of the once-dessert, and watched her coworker steal a forkful. "I don't know. It feels wrong somehow to be just... taking lunch in the cafeteria, chatting, joking, like this were any other day. There should be some sort of an... I don't know, celebration or something. We should be marking this occasion."

"With something better than pastries?" Leish said through the crumbs. "But yeah, I see that. Probably shouldn't celebrate until she comes out, though. Chickens, counting 'em, all that."

"Yeah. And she's more precious than a chicken, too-- not that chickens aren't important, or anything. I'm guessing taking her out anywhere isn't going to be an option. I mean, she's going to be so... new." Her voice held an element of wonder. "On her first day, it'd be too much."

Leish hmmed noncommitally.

"I guess we could have a room party," Vianchiel added.

"I guess. Though we'd probably have to cut the snacks. Lamarre'll kill us if we interfere with her optimal nutritional balance." His tone placed quotes around the last three words, and he grinned a little.

"...Does that mean she can never have chocolate?" She pouted a bit. "Because that would just be sad."

"Heh. Probably no chocolate for her, no."

"So unfair." Vianchiel shook her head in mock indignation. "I really hope we're going to get to celebrate. It's like, aah, what if something goes wrong? It's such a delicate situation... I mean, we're creating life, from scratch, ourselves, and if just one little thing... just, it would be terrible if something got messed up, you know? We can't just... I mean, it's not like a miscarriage, even, where the baby never really had a chance to be a full person... she's already a person, she's just not awake yet."

"It's not like she's the first Beta," said Leish. "I've never heard of anything going wrong with any of the others. The whole system's stacked with failsafes to keep that sort of thing from happening."

"I guess." A protracted pause. "...I just want to go let her out right now. I want to give her a hug, just... welcome her to this world."

Leish smiled. "I don't think any of us can wait to see her."


Vianchiel rubbed a hand longingly over the smooth capsule, as if she could somehow reach through to the lifeform within. "Time to wake up, baby girl," she said to her mirror image, the metal misting up with the heat of her breath.

It must be so cold in there. She glanced over at the cot they'd set up for the newborn Reyvateil. At least we have blankets. The temp in here's tolerable for a clothed adult, just about. I guess she really is just like a baby... she's so going to freak out when the air first hits her. She wadded up the blankets from the cot and set them on a table by the capsule, then, with a shaky exhale, plunked herself down at the computer terminal.

Her fingers worked quickly over the keyboard, entering activation codes committed to memory. A confirmation box, yellow and ominous, sprang into life with a static snap, brightly-glowing photons overriding pixels that had been dark for days. Vianchiel winced as she confirmed the dialog, her heart tearing at her throat. The countdown would give her time to ensure she really wanted to commit-- a safeguard against its being activated too early, and Vianchiel had nightmare flashes of a half-formed monster, crying piteously, stumbling out in a wash of primordial goo-- but, at this late stage, that fact only heightened her anxiety. She didn't need to wait any longer. Everything was ready. All that remained was the final boot sequence, and an agonising few minutes of praying the creation had been a success.

A... R... T... E.... A voice echoed the glowing letters in artificial tones, a novel way of counting down from ten. She managed a tiny smile at that, but the new dialog that winked into the centre of the screen made the smile die on her lips. WARNING: Last chance to deactivate creation process. Hit any key to abort. Oh, what if someone were to come running in right now and nudge her, just a little? What if her own fingers, poised to confirm the next dialog, were to slip? --she pulled her hands back instinctively. But in a few moments the dialogue faded out, replaced by a new, equally intimidating yet at the same time oddly relieving box. Countdown complete. Finalising instruction set; irreversible phase entered. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SHUT DOWN THE SYSTEM.

Vianchiel glanced at the faceless metal tube. I wish I could see you. I wish I could know how you're doing.

Her heart leapt painfully at the spinning up of machinery, the hum-whirr of power juicing the systems.

Are your eyes open in there? What do you look like?

Then a clear voice cut the air, distorted by the tinny structure to the point of sounding as digitised as the rest, yet unmistakeably emanating from inside the capsule. It wasn't really her voice, just a translation of her thoughts through the machines that monitored her mind, but from the little quirks and quavers in it she could almost imagine how she'd sound when she spoke for real.

"BIOS reboot. System reboot."

System reboot? Was that supposed to happen? She snatched a sheaf of notes off the table, leafing through with trembling hands. No... that was normal. She remembered now being briefed on the initialisation procedure. Her memory was just shot from stress.

"ID program... registration." The hum in the room grew louder, the symphonic power lines feeding into the capsule purring into life. She's connecting with the Tower... amazing. This whole building surrounding us... the walls, the ceiling... right now, they echo with her name.

"Artificial intelligence boot...." And that was when Vianchiel really started to shake, gripping the notes in a clammy fist. She's waking up. She's really waking up....

"Consciousness awakening...." She's alive. Everything's going to be okay. ...she's conscious. Oh gods. What if she knows we're here? What do I say?

"Network install confirmation...." We made this. We did this. We took life, the gift of the gods, in our hands and reverse-engineered it.

"Completion...." We made life. We made life. We've never done anything so amazing since we first made fire; this is greater yet. She's really, truly alive....

"My name is... Mir...."

The door to the capsule hissed open, and Vianchiel didn't have time to take her in before she found herself rushing forward, spilling over herself in her haste to get her out from under all that entrapment. The restraints slid back of their own accord, but the huge, heavy mask, a black squidlike thing almost sealed to the poor girl's face, had to be lifted up off her head and pushed back into a storage chute behind her.

The eyes that blinked back at Vianchiel were deep red, accentuated by the blotchy rings on her skin where the mask had peeled away. The researcher almost startled at that, but such depths of sincerity welled in those eyes that she couldn't help but find them fond, even with the odd colouration. Her damp black hair looked in need of a brush, and her skin was similarly clammy. Her arms now free, she drew them around herself, shivering, eyes curious and wide.

"Oh--" In all her flusterment, she'd forgotten Mir would need warmth. She grabbed up the blankets and, gently guiding the pale, wet Reyvateil down to the ground with one hand, gathered her up in them as soon as there was room, dabbing the chill moisture from her face with the corner of one. Mir's gaze continued to search her; she struggled to vocalise on her own, her throat working visibly, but all she managed was a muted croak, and tears of panic began to well in her eyes. She groped and lurched back in the direction of her capsule.

"It's all right. It's all right." Vianchiel restrained the bundled Reyvateil, hugging her tightly. "It's okay. It's just the outside. I know it's cold and you can't speak and that doesn't feel nice, but you're going to be fine." Leading her over to the cot, she coaxed Mir to sit up on it, which she did, without sound or protest, once she figured out how.

Vianchiel stepped back to really look at her, but there wasn't much to look at. Mir's head poked out of a swaddle of blankets, only visible from the nose up. She couldn't help but crack a giggle at the Reyvateil-cocoon and the ever-so-serious expression that peered out from it. That aside, what she could see of her was quite beautiful, in an almost unearthly sort of way.

Mir tried again for sound, managing a grating "hwaaa" that sounded a bit like a noisy bird. She startled at her own voice, the roughness of it evidently strange to her, and afterwards looked positively mortified.

Vianchiel hmmed and moved in the direction of the fridge. "I know just what you need. Something to soothe your throat."

Mir scrutinised her intently as she removed a small glass jar of chocolate spread. Vianchiel grinned with delight. "Just a taste can't hurt."

Saturday, 11 October 2008

alternatively, "the heart speaks"

Small bit of news from the tech development front: a system called "Kokoro Gatari", meaning "Mind Talk", has been developed that allows paralysed users to communicate by, among other things, singing a song in their minds. The combination of technology, communication and mental singing would be amusing enough to AT fans alone... but "Kokoro Gatari" is also the name of a song in Ar Tonelico 2.

Coincidence? ;)

(Incidentally, for those who know, since that's a Noriko Mitose song, is it by the character I want to think it's by? No further spoilers in the comments, please, but I'd love to know. From the translation, it sounds fairly fitting for her character.)

Friday, 10 October 2008

Of One Blood - Ar Tonelico fanfiction (Shurelia, Mir, 949 words, no warnings)

"We be of one blood, thou and I," Mowgli answered. "I take my life from thee, to-night."
--The Jungle Book

The hallways were saturated with it.

I would have called it a stink, a stench, this metallic bitterness that assaulted the back of my throat, but for that it was not quite a taste or a smell or a sound; it was something more living even than music, a feeling worming its way through my systems like no feeling I'd ever known. It made my throat want to close up, made all the pathways in my brain want to constrict in self-defence, my overloaded mind protesting with painful static hiss. Through the noise, awareness flickered dimly: it wanted to shut me down.

I knew it couldn't overpower me, no more than it could take out the Tower itself, but the desfel thing was trying, and that alone wrenched at me. It had entered my inviolate space, was trying to clone its filthy self into every segment of my being; it was trying to be where it didn't belong. Trying to be everywhere, to fill up every bit of breathing room, to bloat out my code with its garbage.

I couldn't tell if it was me or the hallways that reeked with it anymore, the taste of corruption, and it occured to me that there was no difference; and I fell to my knees, my mind churning with purgative code. It felt like my brain was trying to vomit, largely because it was.

It was everywhere, everywhere in the Tower, and that meant it was everywhere in me too, sickening, no escape--

I tried to raise my voice in song, something to drive off the feeling, but controlling any part of myself felt like an effort. So this is it, I thought, ruefully. If I can't even sing.... The temptation to just lie down and close my eyes was great, but I knew if I did I'd never wake up. At least, not as myself. Life from behind the eyes of some virus-controlled puppet: an unthinkable fate, and it stirred what little fight I had left in me, my brain redoubling its efforts to push out the invader.

It wasn't enough. I was walls, barriers, solid things, and it was liquid, flowing around every obstacle I threw at it, finding the cracks in my defences and battering me directly. Why, Mir? was my last coherent thought before I drowned. Or rather, that was what I expected; but somehow, in the midst of what felt like waves of feeling-sound, I was still there, still conscious, a spark of life within the swirl of the Tower's corrupted data.

As I waited-- no, to wait implies a sense of time; as I existed within the swirl, it began to take on a structure less corrupt, coalesced into some kind of order, within which I thought I could pick out meanings, sentiments. Was Mir trying to communicate?

Leave me be, wretched virus! I wanted to shout, but Mir's presence now seemed to massage the edges of my anger, weakening my desire to protest. The harsh, spiking feelings in my brain were all but gone, replaced by something almost deceptively fond; a cruel parody of a mother's love, a caress that should have made me shudder but, insanely, verged on being comforting. I knew what that meant: she was changing me, drawing me in, confounding my common sense with her creeping seductions; but it was so hard not to want, even as I knew the purity I felt in her was the infection numbing my instincts. Again I fought the desire to close my eyes, this time to relax into the feeling, relentless lapping at my brainstem like surf against a shore.

You remember the ocean, don't you? It was less a voice and more a string of concepts, welling up like memories as if from within my own mind; so familiar, so insidious. You remember when the world wasn't ravaged scraps of land clinging to life. So peaceful, so... hopeful. Let it be perfect again; let's make a paradise....

Presia, Shurelia....

"Shurelia, please!" Mir had screamed, her face twisted and reddened. "You have to understand why I want this. Don't leave me, no, please don't, don't go! You're the only one! Shurelia!"

I'd closed the door on her prison, but I could still hear her squalling from inside, a bird in a gilded cage. No, a monster justly barred. They may have made her a monster, she may not have been to blame, but she was a monster no less. Ironic that in imprisoning what was probably once an innocent, they had made something that now could never be set free.

"Don't hate me! Don't abandon me! Please, Shurelia...."

It was not my place to dwell on it. My only duty was to ensure she did no harm; my only loyalty, to humanity. Not to one such as her, a rogue element, a corruption in the system that preserved the lives of countless people. I wanted to protect. She wanted to annihilate. We were fundamentally at odds; I could not suffer her to proceed.



The concept, the name and all it stood for, reverberated through me, an appeal to my heart. Pity tore at me, but I swallowed it down, and lashed back at her with pointed thoughts. Stop manipulating me! Hateful creature, world-destroyer, genocidal fiend! I'll play no part in your self-absorbed wallowing!

I thought I felt, for a moment, a stinging sensation; like salt in my eyes, a flash of nauseated pain. The surf of Mir's mind rolled over me one last time, lingeringly, drawing out that last, incongruous wave of consoling oneness.

Then it was gone.

I didn't have time to regret it before my world exploded in light.

From the author: Thanks to-- darn, now I can't remember who it was, but if it was you who quoted that line from the Jungle Book in context of Mir and Shurelia's relationship, this shoutout's for you.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

You got 1.8x109 nanoseconds.

Another quick post (previous one is here, for those who just click on the latest post in their blogroll and don't actually view the main blog): this was totally not my idea, but born out of a whole lot of injoking about the Domino's Pizza Tracker, being impatient for AT2, and the song Legend of Ar Tonelico ~ Mule Birth, here's a handy Mir Tracker for all your artificial intelligence update needs.

...I apologise for the oh-so-blatant political dig in the bottom right, but I had to do something with that area, and it seemed darkly fitting.

In other news, was speculating yesterday on the fact that Krusche's name sounds a lot like "crushue" ("to craft, to spin" in Hymmnos), and finding this oddly fitting in that she's a Grathmelder; it suddenly makes her name seem a lot more meaningful, if you think of it like that...

Wow. Now I really want pizza...

sleepy speculation

Hmm, so, some thoughts....

I've been speculating on the mortality, or lack thereof, of Mir's body when she's separated from it and sealed away in the Tower. A friend of mine was suggesting that she didn't actually leave a body behind as such, but rather went incorporeal, taking physical form again when she re-emerged; and that her drained appearance could be due to having to divert all her energy towards fighting and creating viruses and not having much left to devote to her own body, not her body having been in storage.

So, is it possible that she didn't actually have a body remaining in the physical world when she went into the Tower? And if she did leave a body behind, and having a physical body of some sort out there was necessary for her to stay alive, why did no one try to destroy her body to get rid of her, given that the alternative was locking generations of young Reyvateil girls up in the Crescent Chronicle to sing until they expired? If someone had destroyed her body, what would have happened?

And, tangentially: if it's possible to Grathmeld a Reyvateil's body from scratch, is it possible that someone as intelligent and ancient as Mir would either know how to do upkeep on her own body to keep it from dying, or simply create new bodies for her mind to inhabit when the old ones expired, keeping herself alive by jumping between physical shells?

Monday, 6 October 2008


Okay, so... I kind of just wanted an excuse to use the word "Mirspawn", since as our Esteemed Commenter (No Relation) has so wisely provided, it's just plain fun to say.

But anyway, the main reason I believe this blogger is unrelated to our Mother Virus is that she has two children nicknamed Chickadee and Monkey. (I mean, I hope those are not actually their real names.) Can you imagine Mir naming her kids Chickadee and Monkey, even as blogging pseudonyms? (Actually, we already kind of know the kind of thing she'd name her children: Ayatane Michitaka and ELMA-DS.)

...but back to the point of this entry, which is that I was reading through an old thread on the Reyvateil's Melody forums in which people were arguing that Mir could never possibly have had children or a partner, because she started out emotionless and quickly turned to hating humans. I'm not sure I agree with this, but I didn't want to revive an old thread, so I thought I'd bring it up here, instead.

Basically, we're not really sure when Mir crafted Harmonious (I made a guess in my fanfic, but it's totally a guess; she could have been a lot older). And we know she was thirty years old when she began her rebellion. In the interim, she could have been feeling or doing anything. We don't know how quickly she snapped, how long she was stewing in hatred before she finally broke out. It could have been days, months or years. Yes, she was sealed away, and it's really not likely she actually would have been allowed to have children (or keep them if she got pregnant), but it's not entirely unfeasible, I think, that one of the researchers might have felt for her and secretly carried on a relationship with her at some point in her life. So she could have, at least, had a partner.

My point isn't really that she did - I think it's unlikely, and it's even less likely that she ever had a child (and if she had, it almost certainly would have ended up a lab experiment too) - but that it's at least within the realm of possibility. So, any thoughts?

Sunday, 5 October 2008

65 days to go and already I feel like quoting poetry.

'Prophet!' said I, 'thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there -
is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!' a great thing to chant in your head when you're aching with anticipation. I love The Raven; it's a pretty depressing poem if you look at it narratively, not the kind of thing I'd normally revel in, but the cadence of it is just sumptuous.

I really need not to be needing this much when December is so far away. But at the same time, it's not like I want to stop caring, at all. The delicious agony of fannishness...

Friday, 3 October 2008

Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Metafalss?

Just because I could. XD

And no, viruses wouldn't typically have hymn codes (or be permitted cargo on any method of transport with electronic navigation systems), most likely, but I like to think Mir cared so much that she wangled it somehow. That, and given the already tight restrictions on name fields on plane tickets, I was amused by the idea of them attempting to fit one in.

I would have had the secondary language be Hymmnos (as opposed to French), but Hymmnos doesn't have words for the majority of the fields on there. I tried to think up close approximations, but in the end it was so unwieldy I had to abandon the idea.

Also, see how many in-references you can spot. I'll be surprised if anyone gets them all. ;)

These aren't too hard to make, so if you want one, let me know what you want on it and I'll cook something up. What to do with them? I suggest printing them and handing them over at the game store with your money, if you're actually buying in person. Or leave them on your coffee table to confuse people...

(Credit for the original blank goes to Jason Dunn, by the way.)

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

scattershot analysis

Some miscellaneous thoughts on Mir and AT...

One, writing The Ar Tonelico Whistleblower (which, if you're wondering, will indeed be continued in at least one form; I have a non-blog-format bit of accompanying fiction, set shortly after the current logs end, that should be ready for you soon, and I do plan to get some more logs up eventually. Plus I have a couple of other fics on the burner...) has caused something to strike me: if Mir was a kind and loving enough person to compose Harmonious even after seven years of cruelty and abandonment, what on earth might she have been like if she'd been given a more normal upbringing?

She only turns to uglier thoughts because humanity insists on systematically stripping away every possible target for her hope; if she were left to her own devices, it's easy to imagine that hope would get tangled up into everything, every facet of life something fascinating and wondrous to cling to, everything a source of beauty and inspiration. Mir would go from someone struggling to see the light against all odds to someone flooded with it, almost intoxicated.

I can see her as a Zen-like seer, a wise and gentle mystic, or equally, a slightly hyperactive fringe prophet delirious with her own spirituality, yet utterly sweet and friendly once you get to know her. This makes me want to write some altverse fic where Mir was turfed out or escaped before the worst of her treatment kicked in, ended up taking residence with some charming little family, and left home to preach goodness to the world at the age of eighteen, a tie-dye bandanna around her head and a guitar strapped to her back. It would be super-adorable, you have to admit.

I've also been daydreaming about what might have happened if Lyner and co. had gone the final step in helping Mir to recover and actually offered her the option of coming with them. It seems like so often, even when a game does go the "let's spare the bad guy" route, you subsequently end up abandoning them to their fate anyway; sure, they didn't kill Mir, but now she's been jolted out of her old worldview and is probably flailing to try and make sense of reality again, doesn't it seem a bit harsh to just walk off and leave her there without even trying to rehabilitate her?

If Lyner really wanted to drive home the point that humans aren't as bad as all that, he might have said something along the lines of "come with us; we'll take care of you and get you back on your feet, help you to understand the way things work and try and get back to a normal life. And if you can't manage that after all these years, since I know that's a bit of a high bar to leap for you now... well, we'll find someone willing to look after you and keep you safe". She might not have trusted him, but it was worth a try. If you're going to convert your villain through love and caring, you have to follow it through all the way. Otherwise, you risk leaving them more broken than when you started, having been dreaming of salvation and only getting a half-hearted solution.

More thoughts later, perhaps, when I am less blurry-headed. Still not quite over the post-sickness energy loss...