The Paradox Defense

February 05 2015: Fenris gives Kate a lesson in mental defense

Brooklyn, Fenris' House

A nice dwelling not too far from the Brooklyn Zoo



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Fenris had meant to get Kate sooner but much of the time when he's checked in on her lately she's been busy. And he doesn't feel the need to interfere unless she's clearly in danger that is clearly too much for her and clearly has no help. Yes, he does check in on her. She is, after all, simply a younger wolf or so the thinking goes these days for the wolf in man's clothing.

Today though she hadn't seemed to be and so he opens a portal to her location, which is his customary invitation to step through and chat, and perhaps work on her mental resistance. He's got lunch this time since fighting of mental attacks, even ones that are the rough equivalent of being tickled, can be hungry work.

There's a lot of work to be done lately. A lot of it…strangely official for someone who's spent most of her time working on the fringes. On the other hand, it's given Kate a chance to not just meet people and casually befriend them, but take a chance at building real relationships. It's scary. But at the same time, when she walks through the portal, she looks just a little bit more content.

"So, Clint is convinced this is all mind games," she announces with a grin as she drops down next to the food. "Like, you've got me sitting here pretending to think real hard."

"Does he now?" Fenris grins and gestures to the cut up club sandwiches. Kate can always be counted upon to want something to eat at some point and it is after all only hospitable to offer. The notion of wishing away mental strikes in that manner… somewhat amuses him. "Ah well. So long as you find it useful." While Kate gets settled Fenris goes to one of the bookshelves in his really rather surprisingly modest home and picks off an old one bound in red leather, flipping through it until he finds a page to mark. "So, you were doing quite well last time and I thought we'd take it up a little."

Truth is Kate had shown a great deal of affinity for this kind of thing. Not so much that Fenris thought her a Magi, but she does clearly have some innate potential greater than the average person. Which doesn't really surprise him. "Go ahead and help yourself first, though, if you like. How have you been?"

Kate Bishop picks up one of the sandwiches, taking a bite and chewing it - mostly - before she answers. "Pretty good, actually," she grins around the food. "Bought a place in Metropolis for the JL:A. Which is…way more exciting than I thought it'd be. I mean. The house is awesome and all. But the cool thing is…Well. It's just nice to think of everyone in it, you know?" Kate's family is…less than familial. It's no surprise she likes the idea of building her own sort of family. "How about you? Beat anyone up lately?"

Fenris gives a little half shrug as he chuckles. "Glad to hear it's working out well for you. Me? Mmmmm. Well I'd say the usual but it's been rather the unusual of late. Something is very, very, very wrong and it's making things on my end rather difficult indeed. People who should be doing things have gone missing." He shakes his head.

"Hopefully you won't have to worry about it." He sets the bookd down, open to a rather eyebendingly complex drawing of a shape. "So, you did so well with the basic paradoxes we dealt with last time that I thought we'd graduate to something a little bit more complex. Let me know if that starts to hurt to look it. Likely it'll take some getting used to."

Kate Bishop quirks a brow at the first suggestion, taking another bite. "You mean people are disappearing?" she asks. "I mean. Yeah, hopefully I won't disappear, but…" She trails off, then shakes her head, rubbing a hand at her brow and pulling the book a little bit closer to get a look at it. "What is it?" she asks as she looks, trying at first to follow all the bends and curves, then trying the old 3D magic eye trick of unfocusing to look at it.

"Not people. One specific person who is rather important hasn't been seen in some time. The person whose job it is to maintain the integrity of the realm. And he's gone, seemingly. No word on where. I've been picking up the slack but there's a lot of slack to pick up and I'm my talents aren't really suited for the job." Fenris shrugs again. Get to be as old as he and you learn how to at least appear unbothered by very very bothersome things.

"It's a paradox. That's called a Fermi Paradox I believe." It really looks sort of impossible. Unfocusing the eyes helps a bit. Fenris actually looks kind of impressed as she examines it. "Most people can't visualize it for more than a few moments before it gives them a headache."

"What sort of integrity?" Kate asks, brows furrowing slightly as she tries to keep looking at the image. "Like, structural integrity? Or moral integrity? By realm, do you mean Asgard?" Maybe part of the trick is in always thinking about a million things at once. Finally, her eyes half cross, and she gives her head a shake, leaning back a bit and blinking a few times. "How come it can't really be looked at? Is it in different dimensions at once?" At least she's never short of questions.

"No, Earth actually. Possibly this universe. I've never been quiiiite clear. He's the person that would look after things like dimensional breaches and elder gods running loose and that kind of thing. I think part of the troubles I've been having have been because we've not had someone in the office to deal with that. So I have to. Or others have to." Mostly, that Fenris knows, it's him. Could be others but he hasn't heard of them.

"Because what it shows is something that can't exist. A paradox. It's magic, in a way. This one and the others I've shown you, and the others I will show you, are all concieved and made real in magic and by holding the image in your mind you can make the paradox real for anyone trying to invade it. Which is why it's wonderful for booting unwelcome visitors."

"Psychics, too?" Kate asks, rubbing at her eyes before refueling with another bite of sandwich. "What about if someone was trying to hypnotize me, sort of? Like what happened with Clint." She wrinkles her nose briefly. "He's the one who ought to give it a try. On the other hand, there's not much point in trying to get into Clint Barton's head when his eyes work much better," she says with a fond roll of her eyes.

That draws a laugh from Fenris. "Yes, psychics too. The point of showing you all the paradoxes and having you hold them in your mind while I try to poke at you, and having you try to draw them and memorize them is to get you to internalize them." Fenris takes a bite of sandwich and as she studies Kate can feel the Old Wolf start to prod at her mind. The lessons have gotten less formal. Mostly it's a mix of practice, demonstration and question answering all rolled into one. He never was much good at formal.

"You see any attempt to impose ones will over another requires a degree of connection. Even if it's simply convincing you that you want to do what someone else tells you to. That link, no matter what the nature - magic, psychic, what have you - requires a metaphysical channel. A channel that we're turning into a minefield. And then a wall. With spikes."

The informal method is best when it comes to Kate. She's not much for formal instruction, either. Kate's all about practice. "And murder holes," she adds through a mouthful of sandwich, holding back a grin. That mouthful stays in her mouth for another moment, because while she may have been practicing, she's not good enough to hold up the paradox in her mind and chew at the same time. Let alone swallow. That would be bad.

"Those too." Fenris grins. "I learned these myself the hard way. There are a number of magical creatures that will use such methods to get their way, and sometimes being strong doesn't protect you." His father is one of them though whether he's used such things on Fenris the wolf doesn't say. That prodding becomes a bit more insistent and then Fenris tries to force his way in. Not roughly mind, but it's still a good shove.

Kate Bishop doesn't have powers. She's human, through and through. What she has comes from good genes or plenty of practice. In the case of mind magic, no small part of it comes from years of therapy. She knows herself. She knows her own mind. And all that practice? Great for building willpower. She'd started with one of the first paradoxes they practiced, but at the shove, she reaches for the book once more, trying the next level up.

Kate can feel the intruding presence recoil. "Good good." Fenris murmurs, letting her swallow. Later, as he shows her more of these (and he does have several more books) the training will get more intense. For now he's getting her used to doing this. Eventually the goal is to implent these paradoxes into 'mental muscle memory' so that her mind shoves a paradox at anything that tries to get in whether she's thinking about it or not. Some assailants don't give you time to really think. "Next page you'll find another one when you're comfortable with this one." Fenris pushes again, this time harder.

"So things are going well for you in general? Settling in a little? Or perhaps picking up? I've noted you're running with a new pa- Ahem, sorry. A new group."

"You were gonna say pack," Kate grins, trying to firm up the idea of the paradox in her mind. Like a lightning bolt, inspiration strikes. Fenris can likely feel the shift in her mind, in the patterns there. The absolute stillness that mirrors drawing a bow, aiming…and then firing the paradox at the intrusion.

Once again, perhaps a bit faster (okay, notably faster) Fenris' mental presence recoils and after a moment leaves her awareness entirely. "That was quite good. Figured out an mental image that works for you?"

"Mmmmmm, well yes I was. Apologies. You remind me of a young wolf, really. Difficult not to apply 'native' concepts." Of course, there's more work to do on this, but Kate's taking to it much faster than even he'd anticipated.

"I can think of worse things to be called," Kate answers, finally getting around to the real swallowing of the sandwich in her mouth before she grins. "It's focus, I think," she adds to answer his question. "Open focus. Archery, martial arts, even the cello. You have to be completely focused on what you're doing at that moment, without losing sight of what's going on around you." There's a pause, and she flashes a crooked smile. "It sounds very kung fu, but it's still true."

"It's been the truth of warriors and artists for a long time. And yes, that will help you considerably. You already understand the focus reqired. Now it's simply a matter of training your mind to do things on instinct and memory rather than needing your conscious direction." Which is simply a matter of going through the repittions, same as any other mental or physical training. "How did things fall out with your other friend?"

"Which one?" Kate does, after all, have a lot of friends. She finishes the sandwich, reaching for some water to wash it down as she goes back to studying the paradox. Entirely because she needs to study it, and not at all because questions about some of her friends could be uncomfortable.

"The one we had talked about when you invited me over for that lovely dinner." Fenris replies quietly. He knows it's an uncomfortable subject. What he doesn't know is if Kate may or may not still be in danger from her friend (likely not) or her friend's deranged murderer (slightly more likely).

Kate frowns quietly to herself, staring at the book. "I haven't seen him since he came back the one time," she admits, shrugging uncomfortably. "And, you know. His grandfather threatened to kill me if I did. Which isn't why- I just-" She takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "Part of our friendship was always letting him have his space. Not pushing him too much. Just being there for him and trusting that he'd be what he needed to be. I'm not going to change that."

"No, I imagine you wouldn't." It's not really in Kate's nature, which Fenris understands quite well. "Mmmm. I am sorry. That's… difficult." Harder in some ways than the man dying and staying dead. Because he came back… only to be something else entirely.

"Sorry to bring that up, I was just…" How to put it. "Well I just wanted to know what I needed to look out for, for you."

"I'm still going to kill her," Kate says flatly, without looking up from the book. "Just because he didn't stay dead doesn't mean she didn't kill him. Doesn't mean every day she keeps on her crusade isn't killing a part of him. Let alone the people she's actually killing. One day, I'm going to find her. And then she's going to die. As quickly as possible. After which," she adds, finally looking up, "I'm going to dismember the body, burn the pieces, and launch the ashes from the Watchtower into the sun."

The Watchtower. Hrm. There's a name Fenris hasn't heard before. It may be that odd place he's looked in on her at from time to time. The one that clearly isn't on Midgard. Regardless, he doesn't ask. Not now, anyway. "That sounds like a fairly permanent solution." The Old Wolf says in a way that makes it clear that he approves of permanent solutions in this case.

"I thought it through," Kate agrees with a nod. "There's not much I can do if they can move her soul into another body, but I can make sure the current one isn't available. I'll probably call," she adds, smile flickering. "Don't wan the pieces to get stolen in transport to a crematorium."

Fenris gives Kate a small, slightly fierce smile in return. "Of course. It'd be my pleasure to help. And if the sun doesn't work…" He pauses and lets out a low growl. "I'll take her to my sister. She'll give the woman a nice… cool welcome." Hel can be damn scary sometimes, even to the Deathwolf.

"So, do you think you have that one?"

"The way you explained it, I'm not sure I'm ever meant to have it," Kate says with a brief, rueful smile. "But I think I've got the outline." She's definitely not turning the page, though. Never know what you might find in strange old spell books. Never read them out loud, either.

That's a wise precaution and the fact that it occured to Kate is one of the reasons why he was willing to show her the old grimoire. "Well no. You weren't. But then man is good at finding things he's not supposed to have, and really, your track record with them isn't horrible. Look how many things you've done with fire." The legend of Prometheus isn't just that, after all.

Fenris leans back and closes his eyes, concentrating, then tries, rather than forcing his way into Kate's mind, to sneak and coax. They can go on like this for a while and he's not a cruel taskmaster. No reason batter at her while she's still learning. He'll let her take the full force of everything he can unleash as fast as he can do it one day, but it needn't be today.

Still, he'd be remiss if he didn't try to get in one more time.

"I am responsible with fire," Kate protests with a laugh. "I haven't burned anything down in ages. Possibly ever, but I'm not ruling out accidental…" She squints as she watches him, suspicious, then tries to…feel around in her mind. How do you feel around your own head? It's not like it's an actual place. Neurons fire, though, in familiar patterns. Use different parts of your brain. Think about something that makes you happy. Excited. Think about math. Think about a foreign language. Think about- that's something decidedly older than she is, right there. She doesn't come on full force, though. Instead, focusing on the spot, she tries to build one of the smaller paradoxes around it. Tag, you're it!

Eyes closed still, Fenris grins. Walling him off? That's an advanced technique. And a handy one, but one he had been going to skip in favor of just hoving nasty paradoxes at anything dangerous. Still, if she's good enough to come up with this on her own, then there's no reason not to pursue it. The trick to walling something off is to get around it before it gets so big that you can't isolate it. So he turns away from the building paradox and starts to spread. Let's see. He'll try for her memories first. Then her emotional centers. Then her right hand. A nastier telepath or mage might try to replace her memories, manipulate her emotional state or control her full body, so it's a good lesson to demonstrate, isolating those or taking them back. In this case, if he can get them, she'll simply let him remember what he remembers (that'll be ineresting if she doesn't close him off), feel what he's feeling and itch her nose.

Kate, bite off more than she can chew? Impossible! Or entirely probable. Realizing that she's overmatched, Kate tries to dissolve the smaller sigil to try for the larger…which is when there's a massive gap in her defense. The memory he touches is a good one. A Thanksgiving when she was thirteen, standing next to a woman who looks enough like Kate - especially in her smile - to be her mother. They're behind a buffet table at a shelter, handing out meals to a room full of people who have a little bit of hope for the first time in a long time. It's a pleasant enough memory that Kate's already itching her nose before she realizes she's not lingering in it on her own.

"Damn," she laughs softly, a little sheepish. "Best two out of three?"

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