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Fox-Kamiya Particles | nuons

Nuons, reorientation and affinities

  Alternatively called nuons to avoid legal dispute, Fox-Kamiya particles are sub-atomic particles ubiquitous within the universe that can penetrate all matter without leaving damage or any signs of interaction on molecules they come into contact with and, under certain conditions, cause matter, energy and forces to behave in ways that break conventional laws of physics. Thus formed affinitive mechanics, a branch of physics dedicated to the study of nuons that simply ignores the rest of physics.   The origins of these particles are unknown; while Mantvydas's theory suggests that they form when universes collapse, merge or decay, this has yet to be proven. The components and properties of these particles are undetermined. Only their motion can be observed.   The particles travel through space in a defined direction and speed in what is known as threads, which is most neutral and thus preferred terminology. Alternate names include "veins," (usually by Asuran scientists) or the dated "Nuha's Paths." Threads can be detected using sensors composed of crystallised szardiye and other of the Shaper's Metals. When threads are bent from their intended path in a process called reorientation, they ionise particles in the air, emitting photons of various wavelengths, including those composing visible light. The width of a thread ranges from a fraction of a nanometre to thousands of kilometres, but such measurements are always estimates. This is because a cluster of small threads can act as though they were a single large thread and, conversely, a large thread can act as many smaller ones. Threads can be split or merged by various causes, such as the presence of temporal resistance such as the anomaly at the Tsagadai. Reorientation commonly causes threads to split as it weakens bonding integrity. Areas of ongoing divergence are highly unstable due to ambience corrosion (see below).   Nuons that travel on their own are known as lone nuons while those with similar paths form groups called clusters. The latter tend to act as a singular unit, sharing one large field of influence. The particles have a tendency to stay in clusters rather than travel alone and will endeavour to find neighbouring threads, which causes radical changes to localised reality. Almost every war, natural disaster or other catastrophe has been linked to the movement of lone nuons. As such, the Vegard Institution and other organisations have been surveying for lone nuons and attempting reduce possibilities for their existence.  

Ambience Corrosion

The dedicated article: Ambience Corrosion
Ambience is the measurement of threads passing through a given area. As ambience increases, all substances lose their baseline properties–that is, the properties they display under equatorial ambience–and eventually disintegrate at a molecular level. This is known as ambience corrosion or nuon poisoning. Some elements require immense levels of ambience to corrode. The Shaper's Metals are materials (both metal and non-metal) that have such characteristics, the most prominent of which is iridium. Iron and organic materials, on the other hand, are very susceptible to corrosion.  

Thread Cycles

As Ereya orbits around her Sun, who in turn circles the Dark Eye, threads move and bend, sometimes beyond humanity's reach. Many large threads that once powered metropolises and fueled the engine of the economy have been left behind by many light years. However, such massive shifts took place over centuries. Each year, the major threads follow similar patterns through Ereya, creating reoccurring effects like seasons. For example, the Oceanic Thread cuts through the northern hemisphere at the start of the year, gradually becoming tangent to the equator and returning to its former position. The thread cycle dictates where crops can be planted and which lands are safe to travel.   Large clusters move a couple of metres over a century, following each other in almost identical threads, making it worthwhile to memorise their threads and the fields they create. Smaller threads are volatile, changing location in brief periods of time since the lone nuons that form them travel swiftly around clusters. The largest thread recorded on Ereya is the Indigo Vein, named for its importance to House Vauquelin, which snakes through the Szarvas in spring and rises high into the atmosphere in the winter, reaching its furthest distance during the winter solstice. Even larger fields can be observed in outer space.  

Major threads (1932)

Name Current whereabouts Width
The Indigo Vein ███ ██████, Asura ███████ km
The Greater Ejder ████, Asura ██████ km
Rosethread ██████████, Eastern Isord ██████ km
The Minor Ejder █████, Asura ██████ km
Memorising major fields is not a requirement to use affinity as small, temporary fields are usually available close by, but can be useful if a forceful change is intended.  

Reorientation & Affinity

Reorientation is when a thread is in some way altered and, according to the Law of Concurrence, this change in the nature of the threads affects perceived reality. The exact result depends on the reorientater–what caused the reorientation–the direction and angle by which it is altered, the rate of reorientation (how fast the change took place) and other factors which are undetermined. Effects range from mundane to miraculous, including:
  • The rapid growth of algae in a nearby pond
  • Uncontrollable sneezes
  • Hearing the thoughts of others
The exact mechanics of this process is unknown and difficult to study due to the inherent danger of reorientation). Magnetic fields can cause reorientation–Ereya's magnetic field influences all local clusters, the effect of which is strongest near the poles. All animals have reorientating properties to some extent and so do some substances such as iridium. Humans, however, and possibly creatures like volgrins, can consciously use reorientation to create significant, near-instantaneous change to their surroundings–this is known as affinity.  

Manifestations

Lightstorms are naturally occurring events concentrated around the poles, northern Isord, southern Asura and on the Broken Continent where large clusters of threads are reorientated by Ereya's magnetic field, becoming visible as hundreds to thousands of lines of coloured light. These areas are highly unstable and dangerous due to a high risk of ambience corrosion.
Powerful electromagnets can influence the direction of nuons, and scientists have used them in experiments for decades while attempting to replicate the effects of lightstorms and affinity in humans. However, magnets with far greater magnetic field strength than Ereya's at the poles are unable to produce anything remotely as powerful as lightstorms–most researchers conclude their reports with a glum description of "a dim flash of light' and the debatably the smell of benzyl ethanoate.
Eserlite is a white ash-like substance that is often seen in areas with critical levels of ambience like lightstorms. It paradoxically has both crystalline and non-crystalline properties and acts sometimes like a fluid and other times like a crystal. The Asuran and Isordi believe that it is the physical form of hundreds of souls trapped in perpetual pain.
 

Affinity

Affinity, a form of reorientation, is the ability of living, sapient creatures to reorientate and thus indirectly alter their environment in ways that seldom follow the conventional laws of physics. People who are reorientaters are colloquially known as "shapers". The distinction between affinity and other causes of reorientation is that the former requires a meaningful intention, even if a subconscious one. This distinction exists because non-living objects can have reorientating properties, e.g. iridium, but not an affinity. Without consciousness, the changes they create are slow and hard to detect or they may not reorient unless prompted by outside forces. In contrast, the results of affinity are immediate and often drastic. Whether affinity exists in animals is still a debated topic to this day since they can reorient intentionally but the results are always subtle.   The effects of affinities are unique to each individual. Very rarely do two people share the exact same abilities, though similarities can occur, and can be made to near-identical through training. Some affinities can be used at any time and locale, while others are restricted by particular conditions. As with all methods of reorientation, the affected threads become temporarily visible. Uniquely to affinity, they turn from white/light gold to colours unique to each individual.   What causes affinity is unknown. It does not seem to be genetic as a child born from parents with affinity is no more likely to have an affinity than any other child. It may be that all are born with an equal chance of having an affinity, albeit a very low one. However, some argue that, since reorientation is inherent in humans, affinity is something that needs to be learned, much like reading and writing, and not a gift to the select few. About 12% of the world's population have an affinity, although this includes cases of passivity. The actual number is estimated to be less than 5%.   The overuse of one's affinity can cause the irises to break apart and nuon-poisoning, a condition that transforms the person afflicted into a potentially immortal, glowing, intangible being.

Taxonomy

A number of naming methods have been created to categorise affinities, each with its own validity and limits. The oldest and currently in most widespread use is the Elements, which categorises affinities into 9 or 10 types or 'elements' from the colours the threads turn: the Flora, the Flesh, the Under, the Over, the Cold, the Heat, the Light, the Shadow, the Mysteries and the Mind (which is sometimes part of the Mysteries). Of course, not everyone fits neatly into these categories. This system relates to the Colour Principle, which the houses use for their banners and the general population to identify themselves and their affinities.   The Global Nomenclature of Affinities is the most modern system of classification and focuses on the characteristics of reorientation. The system is incomplete and includes names such as "corkscrew", "loop-de-loop" and "flaming flamingo" which the scientists who came up with them are very proud of. And probably drunk.  

Aureoles & Fields of Influence

  A field of influence is the 3-dimensional area that the initial effects of reorientating are confined. After reorientation ceases, the change will behave as it would naturally, unhindered by the field e.g. fire will burn grassland situated outside the field. Influence fields are unsymmetrical and have no exact boundaries since their edges merge into one another. A lone particle's field can be a little less than 2m3 to several hundred metres squared. Clusters can have fields that are several kilometres wide. Fields expand and diminish over time as additional nuons join or diverge from the cluster. Additionally, they can overlap–it is common to find hundreds of small fields within a large field formed from a cluster.   The area that a person can reorientate is known as their aureole. It has a substantially smaller average size compared to a field of influences, forming an approximate sphere with a radius of 22-45 metres around the shaper. The sphere changes size over the course of a day by 2.5 m3 ± 0.5m3 depending on exhaustion and physical health and tends to shrink over a lifetime. Training and concentration can expand an aureole by a substantial amount. You can only interact with clusters of nuons within your aureole, although the result can occur beyond this range as long as it is within the particle's or the cluster's field of influence.  

2D representation of an aureole within a field of influence
 

Limits of affinity

  The most obvious limitation of affinity is aureoles and fields of influence: you cannot reorient if there are no threads intersecting with your aureole and the effects of your affinity will be contained within the boundaries of a potentially small field. Even if you are within the range of a large cluster, other factors like affinitive displacement may restrict you from taking advantage of it.   Some affinities come with their own limits. This is, of course, unique to the bender, and can range from the phases of the moon to diet.   Affinitive potential is the measure of how much influence you have over threads, including how many threads you can manipulate at once, both of which are directly proportional to how much change you can cause. Affinitive displacement is the temporary loss of affinity in the presence of something that has higher affinitive potential, e.g. Szardiye. In general, lone nuons or nuons in clusters (which tend to act as one unit) can only be influenced by a single source at a time and prefers the one which has the highest affinitive potential. This depends on the degree of affinity/strength of orientation, ambience levels and distance of the source from the cluster. Grounding blades use affinitive displacement in their mechanism.   There are certain places where affinity can not be used, those being areas of extreme ambience. Even with appropriate protection, they are very dangerous and should be avoided if possible. Lightstorms are a good example of very high ambience, but extremely low or no ambience can be equally as hazardous. Voidfields are a force field constructed of Szardiye that suspends all nuons within it, so anything within the field has no affinitive potential. Since human bodies are unable to cope with critically low ambience, this can cause nosebleeds, nausea, internal bleeding, unconsciousness, irreparable brain damage, and death in a few days. Those with high affinity will usually succumb faster, being more adapted to a higher ambience.   Affinity cannot be lost as a result of age, but it will be more difficult to control as health affects affinitive potential. Likewise, one will not lose affinity due to an injury or illness. It is best to avoid using the ability until fully healed, as you are more likely to make a slip and kill yourself.   Despite the popular belief, burnout (a period during which a person cannot use their abilities due to overuse) does not exist. However far you push yourself, you would be able to do the same thing again instantly if you can ignore unpleasant side effects such as exhaustion, headaches, internal bleeding, nuon-poisoning, and death. The threshold depends on the individual: some can use their affinity for hours on end while others last a few minutes. The average person would not be able to do more than cause nuons within a 1-metre radius to vibrate before fainting. It is possible to extend your stamina through physical and mental training.  

Using affinities

 
"[Affinity is] different from person to person," he said, leaning towards the last light of the sunset. "Maybe a mathematical calculation, performed accurately each time to reach precise results. Or maybe erratic brushstrokes, each giving a new meaning to the one that came before... But I feel the strings of an instrument, of which I play different notes for different songs."
  In essence, you must imagine what you want to happen and it does (or doesn't if it is beyond your ability), much as you learn to walk without being taught the steps of using your muscles. Some actions are easier than others. Speeding the rate that ice melts at STP is relatively easy. Creating something from nothing is impossible, such as conjuring a chocolate cake in a vacuum. Some actions are easier for you than for others and vice versa. Some find it easy to spontaneously combust wood, while others are naturally drawn to breathing underwater. Often, it is specific e.g. causing someone to be temporarily colourblind in the presence of nitrous oxide (an actual affinity). More specific steps are stated below:  
  1. Identify the thread(s) you are trying to reorientate. It is recommended to have a map (3D guides that show the more permanent threads during a particular time of the year). Some target whatever is closest, but the selected thread might be above their power level, draining their energy while not letting them reorientate.
  2. Secure the thread, making sure that nothing will displace you. Shapers report the feeling of a warm chain tethered to their body, increased heart rate, perspiration, goosebumps, loss of control of the bladder etc. This step takes a few seconds but can be the most exhausting. To make sure you have maximum control, create "test sparks." The more control you have, the more the colour of the test sparks will appear as the colour of your element (red for flesh, violet for the mysteries etc). Ideally, 45-50% of the sparks' colour will be yours. Less and you could easily lose control; more and you might be expending too much of your energy. Losing control could lead to nuon-poisoning or worse if you have high potential or you're in one of the magic hotspots where threads merge/diverge.
  3. Reorientate the thread. Don't attempt to calculate the direction it needs to turn to, as it's impossible to know exactly what each change in the thread does. Merely imagine the change occurring. Sometimes, this occurs subconsciously as individuals can reorientate without intending to, especially with children.
  4. Release the thread. This must be done carefully or it could cause injuries and/or damage to the surroundings.
  5. Rest. Traditionally, shapers partake in meal known as Jorsøt to restore their energy via consumption of high calories food.
  Naturally, trained individuals can do these steps without even thinking about it. Shapers with similar abilities may work together on the same thread to multiply the efficiency of their actions. Every additional person increases their affinitive potential exponentially.  

Additional notes:

  • It is customary in the Heartlands to have your element included after your first name, followed by your family name e.g. Aziz of the Water Meinrad. Other regions have followed suit or are already doing something similar, though while travelling overseas, the language of the Heartlands is used.
  • Each element corresponds to a colour, the same that is seen when the iris absorbs a particular wavelength of EM radiation with a higher frequency than visible light and emits photons of visible light.
  At the request of House Sauda, some information has been redacted. Please contact the Archival Director for details.
Type
Natural
Note: "Passive affinity" is not an affinity as its mechanics are unrelated to reorientation, but it is often referred to as one. Amongst scientific circles and younger members of the houses, it is called passivity to reduce confusion.

Etymology

The scientists who discovered the contribution of the particles to affinity, Fox and Kamiya, had a well-known rivalry and even though the particles were named after both of them, there were still disputes on the fact that Fox's name came first. Thus, the particles were named nuons. It is still called Fox-Kamiya particles, but this is quite a mouthful. It is a misconception that they discovered the particles, when in fact that was ████ ███████, who mistaken them for ██████. The particles were named after Fox and Kamiya since their contribution was viewed as more valuable. Not surprisingly, scientific debates of the time often concluded with the two of them settling their differences with fists. Eventually, the term"nuon" was put into use to avoid further conflict, but this only annoyed both of them.   On Affinity: The Magni affinity principle was a popular theory stating that nuons are attracted to certain subjects, ergo the particle has an affinity for said subject. However, a faulty news report led the public to believe that the subject had an affinity for the particles. Combined with the concept of elements and the misconception that there were different types of particles corresponding to different affinities, phrasing such as "I have an affinity for the Light," and "my affinity is the Light" became widespread if technically incorrect. This use of terminology was so popular, academics started using it as well, where "I have affinity" is equivalent to "I can manipulate nuons threads."   Affinity vs. Ability vs. Power: Ignoring the mundane usage of the word, "affinity" is the capability to attract, deter or otherwise interact with nuons. In older publications, "abilities" referred only to the effect of this interaction e.g. telekinesis. Nowadays, these terms are used interchangeably, and that is the case here. Without a capital "P", "power" indicates the same thing, while "Power" is the unofficial name for members of the Great Houses.

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Cover image: by Denis Stefanides

Comments

Author's Notes

Please, if you have feedback, criticisms or questions, leave a comment! Even just to point out typos. Especially to point out typos.


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Sage Timepool
Garrett Grace Lewis
14 Jan, 2022 00:04

Gotta love in-depth magic systems that are more science than magic, good work!

14 Jan, 2022 04:29

Thank you! I tend to lean towards hard magic systems than soft ones.