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#1 [en] 

The igara effect
A shiver travelled across Vao-Shu Milang's spine as she walked towards the insect colony. Soon she'd be immersed in a mass of insects skittering all around her, crawling through eachother and shrieking at eachother. She did not like going there, but she had her duty to fulfil. Vao-Shu took great pride and joy in her duty, and was very happy with her role in life, so in a way she was happy to go, but part of her still dreaded being amidst that writhing mass. The smaller insects were bad enough already, and the insects she was visiting today were just as tall as she.

As she went through the entrance, she passed several soldiers that looked at her suspiciously but made no move to stop her. Then she was inside, amongst the countless worker drones. They gave her suspicious looks as she passed them, before shrieking at eachother and returning to their work. Vao-Shu knew they didn't understand what she was, or what she was doing here. She doubted they even could understand, it was debatable how much individual sentience the drones had, they really only functioned as a hive mind.

She spotted a drone who hadn't noticed her yet and was still going about it's work oblivious to her presence. Well, time to start doing what she came here to do. She walked up to the busy drone, took a deep breath, and...

"Look upon me and despair, mortal! I am the vorax queen!"

The startled Zoraï merchant looked up from his wares into the mask of the person who'd spoken. His startle gave way to mild background annoyance as he recognised the speaker. Vao-Shu Milang was a somewhat regular appearance in the Zora market. A madwoman who would randomly ramble at people. He forced a polite smile and then returned his attention to the price cards he'd been rearranging, but by then Vao-Shu had already lost attention in him and wandered off again.

"The desert must wither! This is of paramount importance!"

Mad, they called her. If only they knew.... then again, she supposed it was an accurate description in one sense. Society called "mad" those who make logical connections very differently from most people, and she definitely did that. She saw what most could not, knew what most did not. Really, there were two kinds of people society considered "mad", those who knew much less than most and those who knew much more than most.

"Sage Sorrow wants YOU! To become awakened!"

There were a number of madmen and -women like Vao-Shu amongst Zoraï society. The Zoraï had a bit of a reputation for it, in fact, and an outside visitor might think Zoraï were the only race of homins to go mad. That wasn't the case, in fact there were other reasons why this reputation took hold. One reason was that the other homin races did not tolerate their mad as the Zoraï did, and mostly hid them away from society. But the Zoraï in their devotion to wisdom saw madness as just an alternate way of looking at things. The Zoraï staunchly believed something could be learned from the mad, or at least that their viewpoint was good to be aware of.

"Should a great boulder fall and crush you, go towards the light at the end of the tunnel!"

She shouted nonsense at another drone, and another. All looked at her with confusion for a moment, perhaps shrieked something at a nearby drone, and then returned to their work undisturbed. Vao-Shu knew they didn't understand what she was, or what she was doing. She doubted they even could understand. They simply did not have the intelligence to realise what she'd become, or to realise what she was doing. But then, that was a good thing. Vao-Shu could only succeed in her mission because nobody realised what she was doing.

"What would you do with a hundred maidens? Ponder this and get back to me."

The second reason the Zoraï had a reputation for madmen amongst their society... was simply because the Zoraï, with their philosophical nature and penchants for deep and far-out thoughts, already seemed a bit mad to the more down-to-earth other homin races. Your average Zoraï meditating in the marketplace was easily mistaken for a madman by the average Tryker, Fyros or Matis. The third reason was that the Zoraï frequently used hallucinatory substances to meditate and to become closer to Ma-Duk. Many things could go wrong with such substances, and though it usually didn't, there was the inevitable accident now and then that turned someone mad.

"Stalk a stinga, distract a ragus, turn left at the kipee, and find yourself on the road to power!"

A sage had explained it to her once, many years ago, even many years before she was changed. The Sage had called it "the igara effect". How the flapping of an igara's wings, if it happened in just the right way at just the right place on just the right time, could cause a cascade of small events that could eventually make the difference between a devastating hurricane forming or harmlessly dissipating. But most igara wing flapping had no big consequences, it was all a matter of the right place at the right time that could make an insignificant act have huge consequences.

"How many Zoraï does it take to calculate the gravitational constant of Atys?"

The fourth reason the Zoraï had a reputation for madmen amongst their society was the most tragic one. It was because the Zoraï were in permanent battle against the Goo encroaching on their jungles. The Zoraï considered it their holy duty to the Kami to combat the Goo. This struggle left many a Zoraï suffering serious Goo infections, and those that didn't succumb to the infection often ended up recovering only partly, a slice of their mind forever lost. That was, in fact, another reason why the Zoraï treated their madmen well. Chances are you were dealing with someone who had made the ultimate sacrifice in the fight to protect all of Atys from the Goo.

"You can lead a mektoub to the waterhole, and then you can toss it in!"

The Sage had told her no homin could ever know enough to identify such moments, such tipping points where a small push could have big effects. But she now could... she now knew... somehow, she now knew exactly where and when those tipping points were. That's why she went out, to be at those moments where such a tipping point occurred. It was her duty to give the decisive push at such a time, a little push that would have huge consequences years down the line. It was her duty to be the flapping of an igara's wings. And here came the tipping point now.

"The dragon shall awaken and come for pie because it knows the frosting is good!"

The Goo was what was on the mind of Biani Li-Quao today. He was a young apprentice researcher who was one of the many working on a cure against the Goo. It wasn't an easy task. Sometimes they found a cure that seemed to work, but then did not work anymore after some time, or didn't work in a different place. The Goo seemed to mutate from time to time and from place to place. Sometimes Biani felt as though the Goo was intelligent and actively fighting back against attempts to cure it. This he was contemplating when, deep in thought and not watching where he going, he bumped against Vao-Shu.

"When a mystic falls in the jungle, the waves will resonate inside your empty brain!"

That sentence was not nonsense, though it had been carefully constructed to seem as such. That sentence, in fact, was why she had come here. All the other nonsense sentences she shouted at random people were just to divert attention from that one. Had she just walked up to Biani and shouted that sentence at him, someone might've realised what she was doing. So she shouted nonsense at a lot of other people, so nobody would ever figure out what she was doing. Nonsense like...

"Through the valley must you walk, lost and alone, lest your assets be void!"

A startled Biani briefly turned his head to look after Vao-Shu as, after shouting her cryptic sentence at him, she immediately moved on to shout something equally cryptic at the person walking behind him. "Sorry I didn't see you!" he shouted after her, but she just kept on walking, seemingly already having forgotten about him, and quickly disappeared into the crowd. Poor woman, Biani thought, probably driven mad by the Goo like so many others. All the more reason why a cure must be found. Now what was it she had said to him? When a mystic...

"Spare ALL the yubos! They might save your life someday!"

All that nonsense would ensure everybody would think the crucial sentence was also random nonsense. Nobody would suspect that sentence had been carefully constructed to linger in Biani's mind, and to affect his behaviour at a crucial future moment. Even if someone did suspect, they'd never be able to tell which of all the nonsense sentences Vao-Shu shouted was the crucial one. And even if Biani would ever look back and realise how that one sentence had changed his life, he would think it just a coincidence. That was what she now was, a 'coincidence'.

"When kinchers attack, lightning arches across the skies! Watch the skies!"

Biani was already back in his contemplations, thinking about his work on a cure for the Goo. He'd already forgotten how the madwomen he'd bumped into earlier looked like, though what she had said kept lingering in the back of his mind for some reason. Perhaps it was because the effects of Goo on the minds of infected homins was a crucial part of his study. He wondered just what the Goo had done to that woman's mind to make her ramble incoherently like that.

"There shall be a lake! The lake is a lie! Do not go towards the lake!"

The Goo spoke to her, it did. Not really in words. Although it's neural network was far beyond the mind of any homin, the Goo didn't have a conscious like that of homins. It spoke to her by invoking images, memories, emotions and feelings. But it was enough for her to understand it. Enough for her to identify the tipping moments in history that the Goo showed her, and enough for her to know how to act to push those moments in the direction the Goo wanted. Enough for her to be the igara effect.

"Shrink the Trykers! Release the kitins! Then tell them to eat the Trykers!"

In a few hours, Biani would be feeling pretty incoherent himself, having mentally exhausted himself trying to solve the conundrums of the Goo. At this point, Vao-Shu's sentence would pop back into his mind, and remind him of the time he'd meditated under the Mystic Falls, and the calm and tranquillity that had brought him. He would remember he hadn't done that in years and get the idea that perhaps meditating under those waterfalls was exactly what his overworked mind needed to relax.

"When you reach an impasse, high and great, land and take it out back."

Most thought the Goo drove the people it infected mad, but what the Goo actually did was try to connect to their minds. To communicate to them, to show them what it knew. It's true that this process drove most homins mad, but that's just because their minds couldn't handle it! Being connected to the Goo was like enveloping every part of the planet that the Goo resided on, talking to every creature the Goo had infected, and remembering all the centuries the Goo had been conscious of. Most minds couldn't handle it and went mad, but Vao-Shu was one of the few who could, and to her it was the most wonderful thing to ever happen to her. It was like ascending to a higher level of consciousness.

"Hey, you're looking good today! Look, a flying yubo!"

And so later in the day, Biani would travel to the Mystic Falls. En route, he would be attacked by a ragus, and suffer a bite to his ankle. His wounded ankle would cause him to trip over a root and sprain his other ankle, leaving him unable to walk further. He would be rescued by Gengho Qai-Be, an Icon Worshipper who would happen to wander by. They would become good friends. Weeks later, Biani would be introduced to Gengho's sister, Yu-Ri Qai-Be. Months later, he'd fall in love with her. A year later, she'd break his heart, and he would take an extended study trip to Pyr to take his mind off things.

"In the world behind the mirror, babies eat Jena!"

There were a few others like Vao-Shu, who had gone through the ascension without going mad, and who like her worked to further the cause of the Goo. Some pretended to be mad, while others pretended to be normal, but all had some kind of cover. Their numbers were few, and if the other homins ever caught on to what they were doing, they could easily stop them. Homins at large feared the Goo, feared the ascension, feared the truth. They would destroy the Goo if they could. It was Vao-Shu's task to make sure they didn't. To make sure the Goo could eventually connect with all homins, so that all could ascent.

"Chase the magic yubo-dragon to the canopy!"

In Pyr, Biani would meet Zean Aelaus, a member of the Barkers tribe. They'd fall in love, they'd marry, and Biani would spent the rest of his life in Pyr as a teacher. He'd teach many Fyros students about the Goo. A fair number of those Fyros would become interested in the Goo because of his teaching, and with the natural Fyros curiosity and without the Zoraï upbringing to instil the taboo of Goo in them, several of them would go on to join tribes like the Black Circle and the Goo Heads. Biani would inadvertently turn these young Fyros to promote the spread of the Goo.

"Give a Tryker a fish, feed him for a day, give a fish a Tryker, feed it for a lifetime!"

There were also those homins who didn't fear or fight the Goo, but instead sought to use it and control it. The Marauders, the Goo Heads, the Black Circle, the Darkening Sap... useful idiots. They were not ascended as Vao-Shu was, they were not connected to the Goo. But they often inadvertently furthered the Goo's cause while pursuing their own goals. They would often spread the Goo, using it as a weapon, thinking they could control it. They had no idea the Goo was really using them. They were as ignorant as all other homins, but they were useful tools against those who would stop the Goo.

"Sly lakes have still waters, deep lakes have... sea monsters!"

Would Biani Li-Quao not get the idea to go to the Mystic Falls tonight, his life would look very different. Without that meeting, Biani would spent his life in Zora, marrying a local woman and making a living as a Goo researcher. He'd be part of the research team that would, in a decade or so, make a breakthrough in Goo medicine. But without him, the small part of the data he would contribute to that research would be missing, and the breakthrough would not be made. Unless another researcher would take his place and find the same data instead.

"Back in my days, we didn't have those fancy masks! You had to look people IN THE FACE! Uphill both ways!"

That was the last sentence Vao-Shu Milang uttered as she left Zora through the main gate. She would ensure nobody else would take his place. She already knew who would, if she didn't intervene, and would give that person a similar treatment some time in the future. When the time would be right, when the tipping point would be there. When a single seemingly nonsensical sentence uttered to him by a madwomen in the marketplace could be the start of a series of consecutive coincidences that would change his life forever. When he would be most vulnerable to the igara effect. The Goo would tell her when and where.

Last edited by Hailuan (8 years ago)

#2 [en] 

Best Ryzom fan story. Ever. =P

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"We are Kami. We are here to be you. We are many as you are of many minds. We are one as you are one in Ma-Duk."

#3 [en] 

I knew a few mad zorai's, they claimed to be enlightened :o)

The Hallucinogens all started with Bijam licking najabs, and some crazy reporter did chase the dragon, proof the effect exists!

#4 [en] 

Note from the author
My loyal readers, I've received some questions about how much truth there is in this story. Readers argue this story cannot have really happened, because it involves so many "secrets that no homin knows", and if those were true and I knew about them, how could they still be secret?

I welcome speculation about my stories, but some even argue that this story proves my work is fiction, and that the story of Ayuko Wa-Hu must thus also be fiction. This is a grave injustice I do not wish to inflict on Ayuko's legacy, so I will answer these concerns.

Their argument about the secrets is quite right ofcourse, but there is more truth in this story than you might think. The events in the story did in fact happen several years ago, and I learned about them recently through a friend in the Zoraï intelligence agency. That inspired me to write this story.

I have personally spoken to Biani Li-Quao, and up to the present day the events of his life have been exactly as I've written them, although his further future and possible other futures are ofcourse still speculation. The bits of general knowledge about the Zoraï that feature in the story are also true as far as I can tell from my own experience.

As for the parts that are written from Vao-Shu Milang's point of view, I have not spoken to her personally but I've approached her thoughts as closely as possible from the reports I've read of the case. And I have no doubt she believed what she thought. The Kami have ways to tell when a homin is telling falsehoods. But as for what she believed was the truth, or just her belief... that I cannot say, nor can anyone I've spoken to.

But isn't that what we all wonder? Whether what we believe is the truth or just our belief? If there is any moral to this story, let it be that. That one should never be too sure of one's beliefs, because things may always be different than they seem.

#5 [en] 

I have a feeling that some of the nonsensical nonsense is highly inspired by random loading messages... and I liked it because it made me chuckle. ^^

Well researched, good job. Very insightful. ^^

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Crazy Marshmallow Lady
Former Guild Leader of Exodus Syndicate
Member of Phaedra's Tears
Girl Playing Roles

#6 [en] 

Holy DAMN, dude. This is excellent! And by "excellent" I mean "write a Ryzom novel for which to spend money on"!

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"What doesn't kill me gives me XP. :-p" -Sherkalyn

#7 [en] 

Really, really good. Made me think about the goo in a totally different way.

More please.

---

It's bad luck to be superstitious . . .



Palta e decata, nan nec ilne matala.

When one goes on a journey it is not the scenery that changes, but the traveller

#8 [en] 

Lovely story :)

Zoloa

#9 [en] 

Letter from the author
Thank you for approving of my last story, loyal readers of Atys. I promise to keep writing, ofcourse, but I cannot promise I will write another story like this one. If I wrote another story literally like this one, it would just be a cheap derivative, not at all remarkable anymore. I am sure you who enjoyed this story did so because it was something new and original.

No, to write another story that is just as loved, I must write something new and original again. And to write something new and original is always to undertake an experiment with a very uncertain outcome. It was a lot of parts luck that this story turned out so popular as it did, I cannot guarantee the same success again. In fact, I hope I have not cursed myself by writing something so popular so early in my writing career, I would not want to become a writer who spends his entire career never rivalling his early work anymore.

I hope it can be an example to other writers though, specifically aspiring ones who may hesitate to publish their first story because they feel it is not as good as the stories of more established writers. One cannot write a great story by trying to write the perfect story, one can write a great story only by writing many imperfect stories, and sooner or later one of them will by chance turn out great.

#10 [en] 

Hailuan
Letter from the author
Thank you for approving of my last story, loyal readers of Atys. I promise to keep writing, ofcourse, but I cannot promise I will write another story like this one. If I wrote another story literally like this one, it would just be a cheap derivative, not at all remarkable anymore. I am sure you who enjoyed this story did so because it was something new and original.

No, to write another story that is just as loved, I must write something new and original again. And to write something new and original is always to undertake an experiment with a very uncertain outcome. It was a lot of parts luck that this story turned out so popular as it did, I cannot guarantee the same success again. In fact, I hope I have not cursed myself by writing something so popular so early in my writing career, I would not want to become a writer who spends his entire career never rivalling his early work anymore.

I hope it can be an example to other writers though, specifically aspiring ones who may hesitate to publish their first story because they feel it is not as good as the stories of more established writers. One cannot write a great story by trying to write the perfect story, one can write a great story only by writing many imperfect stories, and sooner or later one of them will by chance turn out great.

Hailuan, This is a wonderful story

(OOC=Out of character: I am wondering if you are still playing the game? I would like to use some of this info for my own story. In fact I already have, but need to re-write it for the game to refine it. Some of this information I would like to include in my own story. It is inspiring, it produces new information about the goo as well as a direction I want to persue in this game. I see progression in this story where maybe you don't. Hope to hear from you again. Hope you are just hiding on Atys Meditating like a Zorai in the dark corners of Atys.)

Hope to hear from you again. :D

#11 [en] 

OOC: I'm sad to say that Hailuan hasn't played the game since the server merge some years ago. I tried to get her to come back, but it doesn't seem likely. =(

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"We are Kami. We are here to be you. We are many as you are of many minds. We are one as you are one in Ma-Duk."
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