"I still think it is appallingly humanocentric of you to refuse to reproduce like a beta-type reyvateil just because you're male," Mir said, folding her arms as Lyner took the baby from her.

"Am I holding her right?" he asked Shurelia, since she was the one with centuries of experience with babies. "And if I did that, the child would have been a clone of me and a reyvateil. You're the only one who could combine my data with Ayatane's and create a virus like him," he said as Shurelia adjusted his arms a little.

Lyner had clearly done enough research to know to support a baby's head, but this was Shurelia and Mir's grandbaby they were talking about.

"What's wrong with having a child that's a reyvateil?" Mir wanted to know.

"Ayatane's a virus, and this is our child," Lyner reminded her. "And now that all the reyvateils have the abilities of beta types, I should be able to have a son the… normal for beta-types way any time I want. But I can't have a daughter on my own," only a cloned son, "and even if I'm okay at grathmelding, I'm nowhere near good enough at programming to try to create a virus like Ayatane without you looking over my shoulder to make sure I'm not messing up. With everything that's going on, I wouldn't feel ready to make an attempt even with you here for years. Now Ayatane isn't the only sentient virus on the tower," even if there were Teru with some pretty virus-like abilities. "Humans, Reyvateils, Teru, robots like Kanade and Mei Mei… I don't think making everyone the same is the answer, since people are always going to be different from each other. But now that the Teru are traveling outside Em Pheyna without disguising themselves as humans," so the only Teru people met were doing stereotypical things like operating dive shops, "Kanade and Mei Mei aren't cooped up anymore and we 'Apostles' aren't isolating ourselves, people can have the chance to meet other kinds of people and see that they're, well, not stories but people." People just like them.

"Dear, could I…" Ayatane asked, hovering.

"Here you go. I needed to talk to your mother anyway."

Ayatane stared at Lyner, even as he opened his arms to accept the child. Lyner just beamed at him. Shurelia wasn't sure exactly what this was about, but she noted that Ayatane took the child and retreated to a safe distance as Lyner turned to Mir.

"It's about the books you gave us to read to your grandchildren."

Shurelia took a step back as Mir glared. "Do you have a problem with my writing?"

"Yes!" Lyner said, because hell yes he did and how could Mir think otherwise? There was no way he was backing down over this! "I refuse to read my children anything that victimizes reyvateils or viruses! I thought you wanted to use the power of your words to help the next generation!"

Mir blinked.

"I know it's important for people to help each other, but a story where a reyvateil-like virus is doomed to die and needs some human to help her instead of just being willing to accept help? My children aren't going to put up with this kind of thing! When someone tries to take advantage of them..."

"…I still like the way you think," Mir said slowly. "You're right: I was writing what I knew back then and those characters aren't very good role models, are they? We still have a few more weeks before I leave for Metafalss," with those other people. "Why don't the two of us put our heads together about how we should… guide the development," brainwash, "the youth of Reyvate- I mean, Ar Tonelico into resisting the roles humans decreed for reyvateils. And those other races," she said, after Lyner's disapproving look at her and then at her son, who was not a reyvateil. "And try to have some short children's books and outlines done before I leave?"

She could have put it another way, but she wanted Lyner to be outraged about racism.

He still looked modest and said, "I've never written before. I don't think I'll be very much help."

"Oh, I think I can find some ways for you to help me with my writing process," Mir said, grin widening. Seeing that, Ayatane's face would have grown even paler, if that was possible.

Looking up from the book at Lyner's happy and hopeful expression and his mother's fiendish one, Ayatane was very glad he had subroutines for smiling even in difficult situations. "It's wonderful, dear and dear Mother."

Inwardly, he was thinking, 'Should small children really be exposed to such graphic violence?'

"I didn't help all that much," Lyner said, "I just edited for how people talk these days, since the language has changed a little since when Mir was writing."

"No, Lyner, you were a lot of help. Especially with the fight scenes." Mother's eyes were practically sparkling.

"Don't listen to her. I can't stand to see people getting hurt, so if it was up to me all the stories would have been really boring." Lyner ducked his head. "When the point is, well, like with the stories about knights. Teaching kids what to do if they're attacked, that they can overcome challenges."

"Well, this certainly does that," Ayatane could honestly say. This one section, was, well, the gleeful description was Mother, but the way the character handled the situation would gotten a nine out of ten from even Platina's harshest graders. Ten out of ten required handling a situation perfectly, and 'perfect' would be giving scum like that the death they deserved for trying to lay their hands on someone like that. Yes, it was very clear that Mir had consulted with Lyner for the tactics here. The academy textbooks would have had less gory details, but more fatalities.

"Would you believe they don't give kids self-defense classes along with reading, writing and math in the lower world?" Lyner said, outraged. "Everyone needs to know how to handle monsters and rogue guardians! And no wonder people were treating Ms. Claire like that! Thinking they could get away with it just because it was illegal for her to use song magic on them… I talked to Aurica, and we're going to send some partners to local churches as instructors."

"I always did like my battle scenes," Mir said smugly, "but they're definitely improved by writing them more realistically."

How to hurt humans, Ayatane thought, although those maneuvers would certainly work against reyvateils and most Teru. Same with a humanoid virus' physical body, although Ayatane could retreat to the tower's systems.

"There are always going to be people who target the weak and defenseless," Lyner said, nodding in response to what Mir said. "We need to teach those people better," with swords if necessary, "but it's also important to make sure that there aren't any weak people for them to prey on. That no one's defenseless." Even if there times someone couldn't help themselves, that was what friends and partners were for. Provided they knew how to fight. "The people of the lower world need to get used to the idea of reyvateils defending themselves, so they don't assume it's a sign that reyvateil is racist." And hates all humans: that was why people persecuted Claire. A reyvateil without a partner? When reyvateils were pressured to take partners, wasn't the only reason to refuse because they hated humans? "So reyvateils can stop being afraid that if they do defend themselves, everyone will think that they're monsters. I think that stories with heroic reyvateils, and the other stories Mir is working on can do a lot to keep children from having to live in fear, of other people and themselves."

Still, if these stories were written by Mir, then even Lyner's endorsement…

"Obviously I'm using a pen name," Mir said before Ayatane could think of a way to tactfully suggest that without Lyner saying something about how people should learn to trust Mir. "Jacqli. The robot." The name of the other Plasma Bell guardian, the one slain by Mir. "That way I can admit to being around in ancient times when I'm answering fan mail. Shurelia agreed to forward it to me while I'm on the other tower."

If Mei Mei and Kanade didn't mind, and Lyner wouldn't have let her appropriate that name if they did, then Ayatane didn't have the right to comment. Robots, like Reyvateils, were created as servants. Only servants with even less free will and, in theory, without emotion. If most people's first impression of robots was Mir's work, then that should seem like it was obviously nonsense.

That aside, even though Ayatane certainly did hope their children grew up to be Knights or at least learned how to defend themselves, 'It's Mother's writing, but… Maybe if I go into a little less detail… It's not as though the blood and whimpering are integral parts of these moves, after all?'

And this was why Ayatane and his husband's children always wanted their other dad to be the one to read them bedtime stories.

Because as I've said before, Shurelia's Cosmosphere had massive Unfortunate Implications.

Well, this brings me down to… six incomplete long fanfics.


Tree of Thoth is my other Gust game fanfic, a crossover between Mana Khemia and Atelier Iris with some Yu-gi-oh elements because Roxis called himself a duelist and I couldn't resist. I've also been updating that one sporadically, and I'll try to focus on it more now that this one is done.

If the Evangelion characters can stop being interestingly screwed up at me for five minutes…

Mir and Misha along with Jack and Krusche are going to head to Metafalss, Misha since she wants to travel but also because she feels somewhat responsible for the Guardian and wants to deal with it herself since Lyner and Aurica have a tower UN and a religion to run. Songs of Experience, should I ever wrap up my other fics and get around to it, would be about what happens there, but, you know, it's Mir and she's just going to have more back-up, so they'll be fine.