An Ar Tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel Fanfiction
There was no going back now, the switch had been thrown. Ancient power generators wheezed to life and begin reluctantly whirring and shuddering, restoring power to this part of the vast underground network of tunnels known as Old Eternus Gallery. Lights buzzed to life, illuminating a large cylindrical chamber with a central platform surrounded by a network of cables than ran out in every direction along the floor like spokes of a wheel. Further out they were covered by metal grating with circular vent holes. The central pillar was a mass of cables intertwined. Two dusty grey dive pods were tilted back so they connected at the pillar at the top. Three small horizontal pipes connected the grating to the walls which extended upwards into the darkness.
"It's not house beautiful, but it will do."
The diminutive man surveyed the scene, wiping the grease from his hands with a rag. His unruly sienna colored hair was gathered into a knot at the back and his emerald green eyes were hidden behind a thick pair of round spectacles. He wore a navy tunic over dark brown pants and slippers under an overly long white lab coat with the sleeves rolled back. He blew dust from a rusty console and began turning dials and switches.
"Circuits 15 through 55 check out, except 45; I'm rerouting power through junction 17B. Lateral hydraulics lifts will need to be adjusted manually. Logic gate interface shows a loss of symphonic power; boosting from reserve generators. Magnetic field shows a 0.5% drift, will have to increase dampeners to within minimum tolerance levels."
"Can't ever you talk normal, Katene?"
He turned from his display screen at the burly woman that had just come in. She had silver hair gathered into two buns at the sides with small trailing braids and she had narrow violet eyes set high in a square masculine face. Her large muscled frame towered over him and yet she wore a girlish bow at the high collar of a blue and white jacket worn over a miniskirt. Katene had researched many Reyvateils at the Moebius Factory, but she was certainly the most unusual he had ever known.
"Sorry about that Miss Mute," he said with a broad grin, "It is rather technical what I'm doing." She hesitated before replying, she always found his smile disarming.
"I don't know nothin' about all this crap," she admitted with a nervous laugh.
"Don't worry, you been a great help," admitted Katene, "I wouldn't have been able to get VR21 repaired in time without you."
"Let me know if you need any more muscle jobs," said Mute clenching her hand into a fist.
"Well…," ventured Katene uncertainly.
"What's wrong," she wondered, "Spit it out already!"
"You see, I need to calibrate the settings on the VR21 pods, but to do that I need to do a test dive."
"So what?" scoffed Mute, "Just get a Reyvateil and…." Mute's voice suddenly trailed off. Diving was an intimate process that linked the minds of a human and a Reyvateil, it could only be effective between those with a strong emotional bond.
"Yeah bad idea," stated Katene, backpedaling quickly, "We can just ask Aoto when he gets here." Mute clutched at his lab coat lapels in a vice-like grip.
"Are you saying that you want to dive into me, man?" she bellowed excitedly.
"Sure, but if you don't want to I under-."
"Give a girl a chance!" she barked as tears gathered in the corners of her eyes, "Of course you can dive into me!"
"Really?" he wondered, "Thank you Miss Mute; that means a lot to me."
"Just be gentle with me," she admitted blushing.
"I promise," he said, "Now could you put me down?"
Embarrassed she released him and he dropped a foot to the floor. He resumed his typing at the control panel.
"Have you experienced a dive before?" he inquired. Mute stared down and shifted her weight from one foot to the other.
"Just the anonymous kind," she said, "In Clustania we were linked to humans in the slave district. We never meet them face to face" She glanced at him to gauge his reaction, but Katene didn't seem bothered.
"That would drastically reduce efficiency, but I guess it can't be helped," he mused, "Clustanian society wouldn't allow Reyvateils to form close ties with humans."
"Just the unpurified humans," she corrected. Katene barely concealed a shudder.
"Personally, I'd prefer having free will," he stated cheerfully, "So thanks for helping me back there."
"Don't mention it," she muttered. Katene pulled out a small cylindrical tube from his pocket and spoke into it.
"New paragraph. Commencing test dive number one. Subject Reyvateil is Mute, subject human is myself. Dive machine designation VR21. I will be attempting to dive into Level 1 Cosmosphere."
He glanced at Mute who merely nodded.
"Subject Reyvateil confirms details. I will record the output and calibrate the settings accordingly. Hopefully this will provide us with sufficient data for Aoto's dive."
"What if you don't like what you see?" wondered Mute.
"We all have our private thoughts and feelings," he elaborated, "Frankly I should be apologizing to you for invading your privacy."
"It's not invading if I want you there, is it?" she replied with her hands on her hips, "I just don't want you to hate me, that's all."
"I could never hate you, Miss Mute," he said reassuringly, "Are we ready then?"
Wordlessly she nodded and he gestured her over to one of the dive pods. He raised the lid of the other and climbed in. Katene was adjusting the input wires when he heard a crunching metallic sound and then saw a footrest fly across the floor followed a pair of armrests.
"Stupid dive pods!"
"Are you okay?" he wondered.
"Just peachy!" she replied, "Fire it up!"
He removed his glasses and closed his eyes as he hit the remote button. Everything went dark.
Level 1 Cosmosphere
The world was a blank white void in every direction. Katene peered around straining to see anything, but he was the only one visible. He started to walk and heard his footsteps echo hollowly through emptiness, but then stopped. Why bother when there was nowhere to go?
"Hello, can I speak to a Mind Guardian?"
"It's about time, you bastard!"
Katene whirled around and saw an impish creature with yellow eyes and flowing curly sea green hair. She had stubby bird wings and claw feet and she was dressed in a frilly yellow tunic with white bows at the shoulders. Despite her rudeness, he decided diplomacy was the best tack.
"Sometimes I wish I was," he replied with a tight smile, "May I have the honor of knowing your name?"
"I'm Bel Canto," she replied sweetly, "I've been waiting for you for over ten years!"
"Ten years?" he gasped, "So Miss Mute really did want this dive after all!"
Bel Canto unfurled a folding fan and hit him across the head with it.
"You don't know the half of it!" she snorted, "You're just as clumsy as Mother is about this."
"Please forgive me," he said offering a deep bow, "Fate intervened to separate our paths until now."
The tiny siren seemed to regard him appraisingly and then she sighed deeply.
"I believe you," she explained, "But your reappearance has brought up turbulent feelings in Mother. Please be patient and kind with her."
"You have my word!" he said holding up a fist, "Please go easy on this greenhorn!"
"Fine, fine," said Bel Canto nodding in approval, "The best place to start would be my birth."
"Your birth?" he wondered, "Oh! So you correspond to a tangible event or object in reality?"
"I was your gift to Mother."
"Gift? Can you show me?"
She nodded and a world slowly resolved into view. To his surprise he saw a stylized floor plan of the Archia Think Tank, a huge sprawling laboratory complex. Katene willed himself to the main access corridor. He found himself in a long grey nondescript hallway. A small boy emerged from one of the rooms carrying a small satchel. He had a mop of unruly brown hair and wore glasses. With a jolt he recognized himself. The boy looked up at him.
"Have you seen my Father?" he asked.
"No I haven't," said Katene, "You're Katene, right?" The boy nodded solemnly.
"I wanted to talk to him," said young Katene, "But I can never find him when he's working."
"Let me help you look."
Together they searched several large labs where researched were pouring over data readouts from strange arcane machines. Nobody had any time for small talk. With a sharp inward pang, he recognized the familiar feeling from childhood. Why was Bel Canto doing this? Was this her punishment? His reverie was broken by a hand tugging at his sleeve.
"Mister, what's behind that door?"
"That's an incubation chamber for Reyvateils," he explained, "They're artificial beings that can utilize song magic for-."
"I know what Reyvateils are!" the boy retorted.
"Okay, let's go in then."
The room inside was dark but lighted by the green glow of computer readouts. In the center of the room was a single large tank willed with luminescent blue water. Floating inside what looked like a little girl the same age as the boy. Her eyes were closed, but her long silver hair streamed behind her. The girl had a petite frame and was dressed in a white jumpsuit with silver bands around the chest, wrists, and ankles connected to cables.
Katene turned around to speak to his younger self, but the boy was gone. With a shock he noticed the satchel slung over his own shoulder. He was the kid now; this was his memory, filtered through her mind. The girl was now staring at him with wide violet eyes. He walked up and put a hand against the glass. She put her hand against the same spot. He pressed the intercom button on the control console.
"Can you speak?" he asked. She shook her head and he noted a plaque on the pedestal that read: Mute 3rd Generation Reyvateil. Katene pushed a button on a console and the water drained from the tank. He opened a side hatch and climbed in. She gestured to her throat and he undid the straps on her collar. At the base of her neck was a complex interlaced tattoo made of intersecting and concentric black lines.
"You installer port is in your neck?" he wondered, "But you won't be able to sing!" What sort of madman would create a Reyvateil with such a glaring flaw? The girl opened her mouth but no sound came out. Frustrated, she began vigorously gesticulating.
"Hold on a second," he said rummaging around in the satchel, "I have some Grathnode crystals in here." He pulled out a red oblong crystal and plugged it into a stand and began punching on a keypad. "I think I can bypass the lockout circuitry, it'll be a crude fix though."
She looked at him strangely as he held the crystal before her.
"I'll have to install this in you, it'll hurt a bit, but you'll be able to talk."
The girl nodded and put her arms on his shoulders to brace herself. Gingerly he inserted the crystal into the installer port on her throat. She grimaced but took his wrists to guide the crystal as it melded into her skin. She gulped air like a fish on land and then stared at him inquisitively.
"Are you an elf?" Her voice was rough edged but impassioned.
"Ya know, the magic kind."
"No, I'm just a normal kid," he said, "My name's Katene."
"I'm Mute Third Generation Reyvateil," she said proudly. He chuckled quietly.
"That's not a name," he corrected, "That's your model series."
"It's my name!" she insisted.
"Well, can I call you Mute for short then?" he asked. She blushed and nodded.
"Thanks Katene," she said brightly, "But you have to go. Pops will be angry if he finds you here." She gave him a fierce hug and then shoved him through the hatch. Katene dusted himself off and pressed a button and the chamber filled with water again.
"This really was a precious memory to her," he mused.
"You're such a dope!"
He turned to see Bel Canto floating next to him.
"Nice to see you too," he said folding his arms across his chest, "So you represent that Grathnode crystal I gave to Miss Mute."
"Bingo!" she replied with a wink, "But more than that I represent the voice that you gave her."
"It's what anyone would have done," he said sheepishly, "I didn't realize how much it meant to her." Out came the folding fan and she smacked him upside the head.
"That's for being so dense!" she snapped.
Suddenly a bright light burst from underneath them enveloping them in a soft warm glow.
"A paradigm shift!" breathed Katene.
"Quick, go into the light," said Bel Canto, "See you in Level 2!"
"Actually this was just to test to calibrate the diving pods," he began but hesitated when he saw the fan come out yet again, "But I'd be happy to return if Miss Mute permits me."
"Just go already!"
Katene nodded and stepped into the light. The young girl was standing in the center of the pillar was waiting for him. She smiled at him as everything went white.
Level 1 Cleared
End of Program