Wednesday 31 July 2013

S5.172 - Highway to Hello

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"Huh. Okay," Hevvi said, eyeing the rings where Sine used to be, "If I give in, will you at least agree not to confine the step functions to our quarters any more?"

"You are in no position to make demands," Radik shot back triumphantly, holding Flora's arms behind her. In the absence of gravity, he had hooked a foot around the rung of the bridge ladder to anchor them.

"Agreed, 'Evvi," Cosecant answered, shooting Radik a glare. "That was an overreaction on our part."

"What?? Logan, overrule her, Csc's been bewitched again!"

"Shut up, Radik," the reciprocal trig function sighed. "I'm perfectly in control. What I'm hoping is you see this as a gesture, 'Evvi. That you step functions will respect our boundaries too. Okay?"

QT, now with positive leading coefficient
"Mmm. Alright," the heaviside function said, grudgingly.

"Can I restore gravity then?" Logan asked, hand poised over one of the panels in his chair.

"Yes, please," QT squeaked. Everyone turned to see the quartic bobbing upside-down near the ceiling. Desperately holding up her skirt.

"Gradual activation then," Logan concluded. "Also, we should hail this Julia resident that Radik mentioned." He frowned. "Which I suppose I'LL do, as Sine is gone... hm, just when I was getting used to delegating."

Everyone had made it back to the floor when the response came in minutes later. Once Logan flipped the viewscreen on, it showed the face of a dark haired girl with crinkled hair and peculiar looking eyes. "Julia Childset calling unidentified... ah, bonjour! Speak very loudly and quickly."

Greetings from Fractal City

"Hello," Logan said amicably. "We're new to the city, looking for a couple functions named Mink and Con."

"They left some time ago," Julia chirped back. "And you're in a restricted area. We're rezooming."

"Re-zoning?" Signum asked, lifting her hand to her ear.

"Whatever. If you don't relocate in about four minutes, you'll have major escape-time problems!"

Logan exchanged a quick glance with the others. "Oh... where should we go? Everything scans rather similarly around here."

"You want me to set up a beacon?" Julia offered.

"Yes. Signum can use it to guide us towards you," Hevvi chimed in.

ParaB raised her index finger. "Point of order. If we want to abandon ship, we can't safely activate the Cone of Science while we're in motion."

"Beacon is served!" Julia announced, seemingly tapping at a keyboard out of their field of view. "Hurry up. Two hundred seconds until you're trapped in a Hilbert Curve."

"Until we're... do you greet all your guests this way??" Radik asked, running to the engineering panel.

Julia put her hands on her hips. "Most guests don't randomly portal in. They read the forum, and make use of our Heighway."


Sunday 28 July 2013

S5.171 - Great Depression

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Wand first seen here
No one was coming. Why should they? Para idly produced her factoring wand, which she had access to, given her current form. She stared at the star on the end. Naturally, it had it's point facing up, seeing as she was still opening down. She inverted her hand to hold the star the other way. If only spinning her mood around was so easy. "I wish I knew where to hunt for answers," she murmured, waving the wand in the air.

There was zero effect. "Well, that means it's working," the parabola deadpanned. Wiping her wet cheeks off on her sleeve, she rose and walked right to the edge of the cliff. Looking down, she sucked her lower lip into her mouth and bit down. One more step. That's all it would take. Then, no more pain.

Or possibly a heck of a lot of pain, if she were to hit the sides on her way down. Though, she had always been good at calculating her descent to avoid injury. Her toes curled in her shoes. Wait. Did that mean her survival instincts would kick in? Would she be not be able to die, would she just be crippled forever? That wouldn't help matters. But then, there was no guarantee that dying would help either.

"Someone tell me what I'm supposed to do!" Para screamed into the void.

'What do you want to do?'

"I want... I want to do something so that people will like me! Will like who I am, and the things I can do!!"

'Sounds like you want to change yourself. That won't turn out well. Either you'll find you can't, risking terminal depression... or worse, you'll succeed, and lose everyone who likes you the way you are already.'

"But no one likes me now!"

'No one does, or you don't?'

That idea forced Para to stop and think for a moment. Humans didn't like her, obviously. She'd READ the messages about how they hated her, and everything she represented. And Expona hated her, and the conics did, and probably Root and Maud and Lyn and... and yet, without even thinking about it, she had joined them; now she hated herself too.

That seemed counterproductive. Why had she not aligned herself with people who liked her instead? Because such people didn't exist. Yet, Para suddenly wondered, was it more that she wasn't letting herself SEE that such people existed? After all, the loudest voices were the ones in opposition. That's how the entire math assistance system had been designed. Perhaps... perhaps the system itself was broken?

"It doesn't matter!" Para decided, again yelling off the cliff. "How am I of any use?! I can't even help myself!!"

'So allow yourself to be helped.'

'Stop! Stop the transfer!!'

Para blinked, as she realized two things simultaneously. First, that she hadn't been talking to a voice in her head; there was actually someone standing behind her. She knew this because that last shout HAD been in her head, from ParaB. Second, based on ParaB's message, something very bad was about to happen.

Sure enough, before the bunny girl had a chance to fully turn around, there was a loud explosion, the ground shook, and she lost her footing. With a gasp, Para fell over the cliff edge, and into the dark void below.

Things can always get worse...


Wednesday 24 July 2013

S5.170 - Magic Tricks

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"So it's rather important I get back there, to make sure 'Evvi isn't causing more trouble!" Sine finished.

"I'll go too, to bring my sister in line," Maud offered.

"And me, to check up on Cosecant!" Secant declared.

"Whoa, hold on!" ArcSin said, spreading his arms wide. "According to the laws of physics, this is impossible. We would have no idea how to do it again!"

"Ha! Things are only impossible until they're not!" Hyper countered with a smug grin.

"Ooh, dueling Captain Picard quotes," Elly said bridging her hands and resting her chin upon them.

Hyper glanced over at her fellow conic. "You want quotes? Here's another. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them, into the impossible!"

"Hey, Arthur C. Clarke," Cubi recognized.

"Yes!" Hyper said in delight.  "His... wait, no, wasn't his third." She waved her hands back and forth. "Nevermind that, nevermind that now. I say, from this point on, I am no longer a mad scientist. I am... a madgical girl!!" She posed dramatically.

"One who will get us onto Logan's ship?" Expona said pointedly, in the ensuing silence.

"Of course! Don't you know anything about magic?" Hyper said, shaking her fist in the air.

"Okay, hold up," Cosine said. "Nisano might have a point. The cone only fits two anyway, so how about we keep transit to one at a time, just to be on the safe side."

The hyperbola hesitated.  "Euh. Maybe. I would hate to create a composite function by accident."

"Easy for you to say, Cos, your twin is back!" Secant protested. She looked at Hyper. "I want priority here!"

"No. The function who goes back first should be me," Sine reiterated, crossing her arms. "I'm the only one in here who currently has access codes to the Gazebo's logs. I could even initiate an emergency shutdown upon arrival."

"We can always call Logan first, to check on the situation," Maud pointed out.

"We could if Hyper hadn't wrecked the communications gear during her earlier rant," Nisano remarked, from where he was now sulking off to the side.

"Bah, just get Para to link up with her counterpart then," Expona declared.

"Yeah, about that..." Nat began, clearing his throat. "Para's experiencing some difficulties due to ParaB. She said she wants to be left alone. Elly and I think she could be in real trouble. Sine, you should ask ParaB about that."

Expona made a face. "Oh great, why is it things are always about her?"

"Look, no problem here," Hyper asserted. "The Cone works both ways simultaneously. I'll just keep activating it on our end until someone on the other side transitions a message back, telling me to stop."

The math expressions exchanged glances, and despite some hesitation, there was general agreement to that plan. Mainly because not even Elly anticipated the ensuing explosion.


Sunday 21 July 2013

S5.169 - Weight What

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"This is where the rest of you are getting off!" Hevvi declared. "Your gazebo is now under Step Function Control!" She strode forwards confidently, as all of the other mathematical relations on Logan's bridge remained pinned to the floor by Flora's gravitational abilities.

It wouldn't be that way for long. Cosecant merely waited until Hevvi was an arm's length away. "Computer!" the trig function gasped out from the floor. "Protocol C-S-C, zero degrees!"

The security board at the back of the bridge lit up, there was a slight crackling in the air - and then Csc pushed off from the floor, launching herself at the Heaviside function. Hevvi was completely caught off guard. Even more so when the collision between her and Csc pushed both girls up into the air, rocketing them into the wall at the back of the bridge.

"Oh, uh, hm," Logan remarked, grabbing for his Captain's chair as he tried to stand and found his legs moving up off the ground. Next to him, QT grabbed at her skirt hem, cheeks growing red as she also became airborne.

'Csc made gravity undefined on the bridge!' Radik realized. 'Brilliant!' He pushed off too, making his trajectory one that would intersect with Flora, who was now looking down at her palm in confusion while wiggling her fingers. As he arrived, he linked their arms and swung around to pull the striped Step function off balance, and off the ground.

"Oh, it wasn't supposed to be like this! I surrender!" Signum said, raising her hands as Sine advanced - or at least floated - towards her.

"And while you might still charm us," Csc pointed out to Hevvi, the two of them now working to catch their breath as they drifted away from the wall. "ParaB's got the Cone of Science working. So if you do, she'll summon the other conics here, and they'll mess you up!"

"Prove it!" Hevvi shot back.

"Fine!" ParaB said, having lightly glided over to a panel during the chaos. She slapped her hand against it. And nothing happened.

"I think you want to let me go now," Hevvi said soothingly, and Cosecant found herself obeying.

"Zut alors," the conic bunny said, mashing the button again. "You're only making things worse for yourselves... Sine, see if there's anything caught in the mechanism?!"

The primary trig function obligingly glided over to the rings on the floor. So when they activated and ascended off the ground, she was caught up inside of them.


Wednesday 17 July 2013

S5.168 - Hyper Tension

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"Hey, don't go in there," Cubi said, raising a hand. Nat and Elly turned to look at her, as well as the other functions who were currently standing outside the laboratory building.

"What's the problem?" Nat asked.

"ParaB sent a signal, so Nisano tried to test the Cone of Science," Expona answered, leaning back against the wall. "Didn't work. He doesn't understand why, and Hyper's blaming him for charging ahead without her authorization."

"Not to mention Hyper started throwing things," Cosine put in. "Safer out here."

Nat looked back at the door uneasily.  "But we need to get a message out to Logan's gazebo.  For Para's sake, I'm not sure it can wait."

"It's going to have to," Elly murmured, her eyes going wide. "Something magical is about to happen!"  With no further words, she reached out and yanked the door open, running inside. The others crowded uneasily around the doorway, peering after her.

The lab was a wreck. Tables had been overturned, there were pools of liquid on the floor, electronics were smoking, and yet at the middle of it all, still looking relatively intact, was the circle for the Cone of Science. It was flanked by Hyper and ArcSin, aka Dr. Nisano. He handed over a pad to the green haired scientist.

"You see? Doublechecked! The math works! This is SCIENCE!" Nisano declared, shaking his fist in the air.

"But you MISSED something," Hyper said, managing to look both angry and crestfallen at the same time. "Because it DOESN'T work."

"Then you missed it too," ArcSin declared stubbornly, crossing his arms. "For that matter, maybe matter transference simply isn't possible. I suspect I was a fool to pursue you in this endeavour at all."

"No, it... it HAS to work! I've sunk more effort into this than anything else my whole career!" Hyper objected. She threw the pad aside to look at the set of rings embedded in the floor. "More than that, Logan's crew is counting on this! Everyone's counting on this! If it doesn't work..."

"You fail," Nisano concluded easily. "Again."

Hyper's own hands closed into fists, and the hyperbola started to shake slightly. Nat took a step forwards in concern, only to have Elly lift up a hand, palm out, to stop him. She shook her head very slightly, still watching the green haired woman with a keen eye.

"No," Hyper said softly. "My Cone has to work. It HAS to, science be damned!" Her lab coat began to billow out, despite the lack of any wind. She whipped her gaze from Nisano over to her invention. "I'll make it work. I'll make it work by sheer force of WILL if I have to!"

"Hah! That's ridiculous," the blue shirted trig function scoffed. "Can't you accept the scientific reality?"

"No. No, because this isn't reality... this is fantasy!" Hyper's gaze abruptly became one of frantic intensity as the invisible wind beneath her grew in intensity. "You will work." A glow appeared in her eyes, the light spinning around in a circle. "You WILL work." She jerked her arm up, palm opening out towards the set of rings. "You're my invention, and you... will... WORK!!!" Hyper shrieked. And she stamped the floor hard enough to leave a dent.

The set of rings in the floor abruptly energized, rising up into the air with a humming sound. As they ascended, the higher ones increasingly shrunk down in radius, leaving a towering, segmented cone. Within the cone, light spilled out from nowhere.

And then the process reversed, the rings expanding and retracting back into the floor. Leaving a very surprised Sine function sitting in the lab.


Sunday 14 July 2013

S5.167b - Art Aside: Trig

  The series is now in it's third year - admittedly with a hiccup of over two months in there. I'm also away from the computer for a bit to start July, so Sunday updates will be a bit different. I'll be taking the opportunity to showcase some character artwork that I commissioned.


Commissioned at Anime North in May 2013.  Commissioning Trigonometry made me nervous, because of the hairstyles.  I think I told this artist, "I like your style, do what you like with the twins, but you see the way the hair is here? I really need that preserved, uh, do you remember graphing trig in high school...?"

The result, as you see, is Sine and Cosine depicted as (I'd say) several years younger than they are in current storyline, which manages to be both awesome and amusing simultaneously.  Can't help but grin.
Commissioned at Anime North in May 2013.  OMG, yes.  Just yes.  Chibi Tangent is not amused.  Additionally great, since I have yet to master the art of making a larger head without having it seem totally disproportionate.  Incidentally, the baseline to work from here was the title card for Taylor's Polynomials: Series 3.

All in all, very happy with the artwork!  If you ever feel like drawing my characters (and I'm okay with the result), I'm fine with doing a shout-out of some sort.  For now, back to the storyline.

TRIVIA NOTE: When I first drew Slope, her hair was inconsistent. I fixed it right before her first appearance in S1.06 on July 20, 2011.

There's a lot in the character designs that has not yet come up; Period Canes come to mind. That said, the decision to graft "Star Trek" onto "Wizard of Oz" occurred while in the process of writing Series 3 (Try Angles). The fact that our school had just put on a production of 'Oz' might have been a factor.


Wednesday 10 July 2013

S5.167 - Head Voice

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Nat made a couple final notes on his clipboard.  "Well, I guess everything checks out," he concluded. He then looked back at Para. "Though you do seem to be a bit on edge."

"I have a vertex," the parabola countered. "It's natural for a vertex to be on edge. Don't you agree?"

"What do YOU think?" Elly repeated for the umpteenth time.

Para's ears twitched... and she finally lost her patience, standing up from the couch. "What do I think? I think you should stop trying to understand me, and where I'm coming from, because there's no way you CAN understand! I think you should stop bothering me, and save your psychological pleasantries for someone more important! Like ParaB!" The polynomial marched to the door, yanking it open. "In fact, pass the word around - EVERYBODY, just leave me alone!!"

The door slammed behind the bunny girl. Nat and Elly exchanged a glance. "Well, that could have gone better," the trig function concluded.

"On the contrary," Elly said reaching for a crystal once again. "We got close enough at the end to see she's putting up a facade. She's still upset, perhaps even dangerously depressed, which I'm sure is due to the existence of ParaB. Hence we should make contact with Para's double on Logan's ship, as she may be experiencing something similar. Either way, she is probably the best person to resolve this."

The inverse trig frowned as he looked back over his scribbled notes. "Uh. Right, I was going to say that too," he yielded. "Let's get over to Hyper's lab."

For her part, Para was running. She ran from Elly's place all the way out to the nearby cliff, then stood looking out over the expanse of - well, nothing. No ocean, no panoramic vista, their Purgatory just seemed to end a few hundred metres out. In blackness. The end of everything.

Para shuddered. "Why did you say that?" she whispered aloud. "Why would you tell your friends to leave you alone?"

Because if they were really your friends, they'd know. Know what you felt, know what you're doing to yourself. They don't know, so they aren't friends.

Para lifted her arm to look at the sleeve of her jacket. With a shaky hand, she pulled down the fabric to expose the small cuts she had made on her arm that morning. "But I'm covering it up. So there's no way they could know. I even said there's no way they could understand. So... so..."

So who cares? No one cares. They'll leave you alone now. Won't even notice you're gone.

"No.  No, shut up," Para said, pressing the heel of her palm to her temples. "You... you're not even real, you're a voice in my head!"

I'm as real as ParaB, when she's a voice in your head. After all, think of the hundreds of people out there who hate parabolas! I speak for them. They want you to disappear. Your friends probably do too, you're such a burden on them in your current state.

The quadratic bunny became aware of tears spilling down her cheeks. "Shut up," she whimpered a second time. "Please, just shut up." She dropped to her knees and looked up at the sky. "Please, anyone... I know I said to leave me alone, but someone find me... Please! I can't take this anymore, I can't...!!"


Sunday 7 July 2013

S5.166b - Art Aside: Lyn + Root

  The series closed off it's second year last Wednesday - admittedly with a hiccup of over two months in there. I'm also away from the computer for a bit to start July, so Sunday updates will be a bit different. I'll be taking the opportunity to showcase some character artwork that I commissioned.

Today: LYN (Linear) and ROOT (Square root)

Commissioned at Anime North in May 2013.  I had never heard of "copic" style before, but the artist seemed nice (and was impressed by my badges) so there we are. I think it captures Lyn well, and I'm glad to have a picture in colour!

Commissioned at Anime North in May 2013.  OMG, Root finally looks like a guy!  I know I'm not great at drawing males; they were rarely my focus when I was growing up.  Fortunately for me, more equations involve XX than XY.  Also fortunately for me, this was a good artist.

TRIVIA NOTE: Conic equations have six unknowns (coefficients on x-squared, x, y-squared, y, xy, plus a constant), meaning you need five points to define a conic. This is why Circe has five hair curlers & five jewels on her necklace, and why Hyper's hairstyle always ends in five points.


Wednesday 3 July 2013

S5.166 - Zero Observations

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"She's late," Elly remarked, staring at the light through one of her crystals. "Maybe she's not coming." She palmed the crystal. "You're welcome to leave."

"Maud wanted my input after this counseling session too," Nat said gruffly. The inverse tangent function crossed his arms defiantly. "You're not getting rid of me that easily."

"As you wish," the ellipse said airily. "Though I'll have you know, I did just fine counseling Hyper all by myself yesterday!"

Nat blinked.  "Oh, then has she finally come to terms with Nis doing the mad science bit too?"

"No.  But she's not planning to 'accidentally' blow him up anymore," Elly said, smiling brightly.

Nat stared.  "Right. I'll stay."

The door opened a few minutes later, and Para peered her head around the frame. "Is this really necessary?" she asked.

"What do YOU think?" Elly responded, making ellipses between her thumbs and index fingers.

"It can't hurt, can it?" Nat said gruffly. He beckoned for the parabola to come in. She did, hesitantly, and took a seat on the couch.

"Um, so should I lie back or something?" Para wondered.

"What do YOU think?" Elly reiterated.

"Don't have to," the inverse trig countered. "Now, I notice you're wearing your factored form outfit. Any reason for that?"

The parabola shrugged. "Nope? Thought it would fix the hairband, I guess."

"But it didn't. So now you not only appear to open down, you do it with visible zeroes," Nat remarked.

Para let out a little noise of exasperation.  "So what? You saying this session will involve Zero Down Payment?"