Disclaimer: I don't own Ar Tonelico, Gust and other rightful owner do. No infringement intended or money made.
Warning: this fic is not rated M for Mature just for yaoi content and deconstructing/playing with/making fun of gender concept stereotypes (like utterly devoted robot magical girlfriends…). There will be discussion of a lot of very horrific and squicky stuff, especially in the way of reyvateil abuse. There are a lot of issues that the game mentions but skirts, and since Mir is going to be a major focus of this fic, it's going to have to go into much more detail as to why she did what she did. And what she'd do given the chance. What we are told and what is implied about pre-Mir's rebellion treatment of reyvateils is outright horrific. As in, massive, massive crimes against humanity (or a related sentient species) justified on racial grounds and allowed to continue for centuries.
If anyone here has read Execute Program or As the Trumpets Sound then you'll know that when I rate something M and use the horror category I am not kidding. You have been warned.
This fic also goes into why Lyner is the way he is, and as House points out, no one's that nice unless they're broken. Lyner raises a lot of red flags: the fact he can't remember Misha, his suicidal tendencies, when he goes berserk… All of that makes a whole lot of very scary sense in terms of human psych and reyvateil psych, especially a few things that Aurica demonstrates.
Note that these fics are being written from the canon in AT1&2, the games. I did do some online research (to make sure I had the right hymn codes and so on) for the fic, and while I would be interested in the stuff in the settai books if people want to mention it and it's relevant, I reserve the right to ignore non-game information, especially when it outright contradicts things like major game plot points. If a line in the settai, when thought about for five seconds, means that Aurica's route could never have happened, then I'm ignoring that line. Also, I am applying logic and common sense to the AT world. Bwahahaha, I always get the best crack that way. While I am ignoring a couple game plot points, they're ones like the fact that Ayatane's cover story (mentioned in the scene where he possesses Shurelia) was literally impossible: even a five year old in Platina should have known that it couldn't be true. So, I'm giving him one that doesn't suck. Things like that. When I ignore something, I will mention and justify it: I don't believe in taking liberties with canon without good reason.
There is a lot of worldbuilding thought going into this fic. I've been wanting to write this thing for years. I'll be putting A/Ns at the beginning or end of chapters so people can skip them if they don't like worldbuilding (strange, strange people). The fact that I'm covering so much ground in this fic means that, unlike in oneshots, I'm not going to be answering questions and wrapping up plotlines until months after they're introduced sometimes, so bear with me. The foreshadowing and things out of place will all make sense eventually.
Disclaimer: I don't own Ar Tonelico or any associated properties. No infringement intended or money made.
"Here," Ayatane says, tossing the Healy C through the air to Lyner, who catches it and drinks it down gratefully.
"Thanks, Ayatane." Lyner nods to him in thanks, smiling, but he clearly doesn't think anything of it. They're friends, and friends help each other.
"That could so easily have been poison, you know," Ayatane thinks, but doesn't say, because he needs Lyner to trust him just a little longer. Aurica is Mir's daughter, his sister, even if she doesn't know it: she's no threat but this Radolf is. All of his abilities are physical blows: he can't draw on the tower's power the way Lyner and the Knights of Elemia can, with the help of the reyvateil blood in their veins.
There are things that no one noticed about Ayatane because in Platina, they were perfectly normal. In the rare event that anyone did suspect him, it was easy enough to wait until the next time they dived and influence them through their connection to their reyvateil partner and her connection to the tower.
He wishes he could travel with them long enough for dear Lyner to visit a dive shop… Lyner never did that back in Platina, not when he was destined to be Lady Shurelia's partner. There was no point. He could almost hate the Star Singer for being Lyner's first as much as keeping his mother sealed away for so long.
Mother won't feel safe as long as humans exist, but she saw how sad that reyvateil was when she killed her Knight. The reyvateil hadn't understood why Mother was doing this, not at all, and that was proof that something had changed. It had made her finally start listening to Ayatane about Platina, about the knights, about what Lady Shurelia had done and the opportunity all of this presented.
It would be betraying his mother to help a human, one of her enemies.
He's so glad he didn't need to make that choice. He's very glad that instead of giving dear Lyner a poison, he was able to give him the right to live in Mother's Utopia. He'd meant to watch over him on the way back to Platina, but Bishop Falss had gotten entirely the wrong idea about his place in the world. Lyner would get Aurica to Platina and she would be much safer with him.
The first thing Lyner notices is that he's tiring faster. Before, this journey was forcing him to push himself to his limits, yes, but there's a lot to be said for training like that. But sometimes it seems as though his arms are wet noodles. Worse, sometimes he simultaneously feels too tired to walk another step (although he forces himself to) and bursting with energy, mind whirling, thinking far too much to sleep.
At least that's stopped.
Now he just feels tired on two different levels.
"Are you ok, Lyner?" This isn't the first time Aurica's asked him that, since Ayatane brought her back and then ran up ahead in the tower to harry Falss' army. He keeps reassuring her that he's ok, but he's noticed that she's singing fewer and fewer red magic songs and more blue magic, granting him strength to replace the strength he's lost.
"I can go on," he assures her, but the point of his sword droops to the ground and he needs a moment to collect himself. The right side of his neck is suddenly furiously itchy, and he wonders if something did manage to poison him, even though he's checked.
"Why don't we just take a break for a bit," Radolf offers, and Lyner knows that they need to hurry but he has to admit that he needs it.
So he nods and leans against the wall for a nap, before grimacing and starting to remove his armor so he can get at his neck. It's not just an itch, it's an ache: maybe rubbing it would help?
"Should I sing, Lyner?"
He shakes his head. "It's nothing, it's just been bugging me all day. It can't be serious, or it would have gone away the other times you sang."
She moves a little closer to him, still concerned, so he moves his hand away so she can take a look.
Aurica gasps, startled, "That's!" She clapped her hands over her mouth before she could say any more.
Curious, Radolf turns his head so he can see as well, and Lyner has never heard him blaspheme before. "But that's impossible. The Apostles of Elemia might be the counterparts of the Holy Maidens and possess some of the power of the goddess Eoria herself, but…"
Aurica can only shake her head, shocked and somehow terrified for him.
Radolf is frowning thoughtfully, which looks a little more useful. "How long have you had that… itch?"
"I noticed that my neck felt a little weird sometimes a few days ago, but I started feeling tired before that. I think it started the morning after we left the Silvaplate." Were they connected?
"That glyph, it's…" Aurica can't say it, it's too terrible.
"I've only seen those markings on one thing. A diquility port." The crystals that reyvateils had to have inserted into their bodies, or else they weakened and began to die. The process was painful, but going without too often taxed their bodies to the point where even if someone forced them to take it in time, it could cut years off their lifespans. The Knights of Elemia trained so that every member knew how to do a painless insertion if their partners needed it. Lyner hadn't gotten that training, because his partner was going to be Lady Shurelia, but on the Wings of Horus? Third generation reyvateils didn't live very long, everyone knew that.
This was why.
"…What? Lady Shurelia. She'd know." She knew everything. "We have to get to Platina, either way." He started to pull his armor back on.
Radolf and Aurica exchanged glances. "Lyner, it might be worth a try. You really are sick," far too pale, "and you did it for me."
He hesitates, but Aurica wants to return the favor and he can't reject her.
Once she starts, he wishes he could. It hurts, it hurts worse than being stabbed in the gut (and he speaks from experience), but he can feel it flowing into his bloodstream; he can feel muscles that were fatigued without it starting to revive. His head tingles, and a headache he didn't even know he had, since his neck hurt so much, goes away. Everything seems clearer, and it's a good feeling. Like a cold glass of water after a hard workout. Like coming home to a big meal after unannounced survival training.
It's a relief, it's good and he wants it.
Even though it hurts like crazy. The pain starts to get tangled up with the feeling of relief, and the acknowledgement that yeah, the pain is worth it. It makes him grit his teeth and cling to Aurica the way she pushed back against him. He knows he's hurting her, it makes her hand slip and makes the crystal bang into the delicate, sensitive sides of the port, but even that becomes part of it.
When he's finally gotten enough, the feeling of fullness makes him shudder against her. He's dimly aware that sweat is beading on his brow. His body is hot, too hot, and he wants to sleep even though he feels like he could run a marathon and fight those new viruses at the end of it.
It's like orgasm without the pleasure, and he can feel his body respond to the thought… No, it had already responded. There really was something intensely sensual about it, someone else causing him to feel such overwhelming sensations. His entire being centered around what Aurica held In her hand and his need for her to stick it in him, no matter how much it hurt. For that excruciating half-minute, Aurica was his goddess, and he would have done anything for her to keep going, would have begged for her to spare him the pain if he didn't know that she was already doing her best. "Next time… faster. Just force it in, I can take it." He didn't know much about insertion, but he knew that her hesitance to hurt him and the way her hand had shaken hadn't helped. He drew in another ragged breath. "Is it always like that?"
He realizes that even now that it's over, or perhaps because it's over and he wants to recapture that feeling, he wants her to tackle him, push him against the wall or down into the ground, claim his mouth and fill him full of nothing but her. Not that sick, twisted need, but something cleaner, pleasure instead of pain, affection instead of dependence.
But this is Aurica, his gentle Songstress, who would never do something like that (or would she?), and he realizes that she was probably wanting him to do that to her, all this time. Except he couldn't.
He wants Lady Shurelia, because surely she can fix this. He wants Ayatane, because his friend, his blood-brother's solid, dependable presence would at least make him feel like this were something normal, something they could handle.
Blastline, he even wants his father to yell at him and tell him to stop being an immature fool and snap out of it.
His eyes slid closed at some point, and Aurica says, "Yes," when he doesn't see her nod. "You're getting a lot better at it, though." Better at giving me what I need. "I'll try to…" He knows she's blushing at the thought of giving it to him.
"Well, that was…" Bishop Radolf doesn't quite know what to say. With his armor off, it's fairly obvious that Lyner didn't grow breasts without noticing it: that's all muscle.
"Weird. About as weird as viruses that just won't die." Lyner draws his legs up, leans forward and rests his head on his knees.
"Do you think that has something to do with it?"
"Maybe the hymn crystal Purger would fix it, then?" Aurica puts her hand to Lyner's forehead: too warm is better than too cold, right?
"Maybe," Lyner says, trying to sound upbeat. It's a little easier for the other two to believe it now that a little color has come back into his cheeks.
Ayatane would have congratulated himself for correctly guessing the identity of Lyner's Cosmosphere Guardian if there had ever been any doubt.
Dodging the Funbun mascot's furious charges would have been much easier if the entirety of this cosmosphere wasn't engulfed in an earthquake: the ground kept falling apart beneath him, new landscapes thrusting up through it. Was this because Lyner's cosmosphere was still forming, now that he was a reyvateil? Or did becoming one shake his world enough to cause this?
What was surprising was that actually, it was a lot easier to control Lady Shurelia's body than Lyner's. Now that he thought about it, it did make sense. He'd been dodging the tower's security since he was made, but he didn't have any experience with reyvateils-who-had-been-humans, and Lady Shurelia didn't have a cosmosphere guardian. Lady Shurelia was the guardian of Ar Tonelico.
There was an old quote: who guards the guardians?
Lady Shurelia's guards had been Leard, himself and dear Lyner.
Speaking of which, where was…
"Ah, there you are." Ayatane smiled after managing to sidestep the second half of the whirlwind caused by the dragon's wingbeats. "That's quite impressive." A red magic already? Had that been the true nature of his ability to call the winds, all along?
"There's nothing impressive about it."
"You're wearing those robes?" Those were the Star Singer's robes: was this the self that Lyner had buried, the self that remembered Misha, blamed himself for failing to rescue her from her fate, and sought to save all reyvateils to make up for it? Or was he already accepting his new nature? "Letting me so deep on our first dive?"
"Deep?" This Lyner laughed, and it was even an imitation of Misha's noblewoman's laugh. "This is level one."
That was more than a little frightening. The deeper levels of a cosmosphere were the deadliest, the avatars the most willing to deceive and destroy the unwary diver (because, after all, if they didn't know the risks and the person they were facing then they had no right to dive so deep), and it seemed that Ayatane would be fighting for his life from the very beginning.
Flattering, because it showed how important he was to dear Lyner. How much Lyner depended on him. He wasn't using a dive shop, so there wasn't that handy little measurement of how much trust he had earned, how much more Lyner would be willing to yield up to his best friend and shieldmate… but he had earned the trust Lyner and Lady Shurelia had given him. The trust he had needed to stab them in the back.
Or had he spent too much of it on that? How deep would he be able to go before he had to deal with Lyner's conscious self, try and regain his trust? "So you're here to stop me from forcing my way back into your heart."
There was that laugh again, and it shouldn't have sounded so natural from a man's voice, let alone Lyner's. "Oh no, I want you to go deeper."
"I want to be rescued, after all." Lyner's inner Misha batted her eyes at him. "But I'm not going to rescue myself, or even lift a finger to help. You're going to have to fight me every inch of the way."
"Lyner…" That wasn't just about Misha, was it? Lyner had always felt trapped by his position as Leard's heir. He didn't mind his duty to protect the city, or Lady Shurelia: that wasn't it at all. But part of him did remember Misha, and Leard saying that doing things like that, maybe even including doing things like that to innocent little girls would one day be his duty, too, and that? He rejected. Still, if it was to protect, then he couldn't just run away. Like Misha, he was trapped by the necessity of his duty.
This Lyner's eyes softened. "You understand, huh?" Of course Ayatane did.
"Soon, Mother will be free, and no one will be trapped as the Star Singer anymore. She won't let anyone hurt reyvateils ever again."
"You really believe that, don't you? Weren't you there? When she killed Vande?" Poor Ciel's knight? Hadn't he seen how it broke her heart? They'd trained alongside them, how could Ayatane not know?
Ayatane had to stare. Level one manifestations weren't aware of the outside world. Higher level manifestations didn't care. They had their own problems to deal with, the problems of the reyvateil themselves.
Then again, this was dear, compassionate Lyner. Perhaps his avatars might not be as separate from his conscious mind as a normal reyvateil's were, too, since they were newly-made. The issues cosmospheres suppressed would have been there all along, but humans didn't have cosmospheres.
As this was Lyner, pausing to stare cost him.
Why in the heavens had he thought becoming a reyvateil would make Lyner lose any of his skill with a sword? "You need to be more careful." The wound closed up right away, the way the damage from the whirlwind had, showing that he did still have 'Dependence Points' to burn. "You're a reyvateil now. Exerting yourself will…"
"Burn up the diquility faster, shortening my lifespan: I know." A lot of people in the Wings of Horus didn't know why reyvateils weren't allowed to fight, or thought it was to 'encourage' them to get a partner instead of becoming the sort of rogue that had dropped the other Wing. Aurica's friend Claire wasn't persecuted because s he was a reyvateil, she was viewed with fear because she was a rogue who didn't have a partner, wasn't with Tenba or the Church. The Knights of Elemia, on the other hand, knew why it was the knight's duty to take the hits for their reyvateil. A knight could afford to, as long as his reyvateil sang healing in return. A reyvateil couldn't. "Think I'll let that stop me?" This was inside his mind, too. He could do whatever he wanted here.
That was when Ayatane realized that Lyner must have been fighting like a human all his way up the tower. At first, he wouldn't have known, and after that, he wouldn't have cared. "…Then it's a good thing you won't have to fight from now on." The entire point of this was to save him, not to bleed his life away, drop by drop.
"Try and stop me."
"But, Lyner? I already have." Just a little longer, to get Lady Shurelia to Mother, and then surely Mother would let him put Lyner somewhere safe.
Alright. I really should be waiting on Ar Tonelico 3 to do any speccing, but I've been waiting how long now? Thus:
According to Frelia in AT2, if a human marries a reyvateil, male children are human and female children are reyvateils. Now, reyvateils were designed. Meaning that if a gene on the Y chromosome blocks the ability, as Frelia also says in AT2, it's by design.
The fact that there are still female humans around, like Krusche, says quite a bit in and of itself. There seem to be families (there's an exchange among NPCs in AT2) that do not want their sons to marry reyvateils, and the fact that human women are gradually becoming extinct and reyvateil grandchildren have serious health risks would be good reasons.
In Platina, however, where humans and reyvateils seem to be fully integrated, I seriously doubt there are more than a few female humans around at this point if any, given the people who founded the city, and basically the entire purpose of the city, was human-reyvateil partnerships (the Knights/Apostles of Elemia). If there were any human women in the base stock, they were probably also in relationships with reyvateils. That doesn't preclude them having a handful of children, but it has been centuries.
At this point, it's fairly safe to say that if it weren't for that block, Lyner'd be a reyvateil. Given the above, his mother was a reyvateil, his father probably has as about much reyvateil DNA as he does… According to AT2, those genes are basically being suppressed, prevented from expressing themselves (that's actually the technical term). They're still there in men, just switched off.