Psychic Defense 101

January 02, 2018:

Lorna asks Nate about ways to protect her mind from those pesky telepaths. Yes, telepaths are the worst!

A classroom at Xavier's school


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Magneto, Cyclops, Xavier


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

At some early point during the 31st Nate left the Xavier School and vanished without comments. He didn’t return until early the Tuesday morning. Must have been a hell of a party, considering how he looked.

A shower and many, many coffee cups later he looks more or less alive. Still needs to shave, but that is normal for Nate.

To his credit he remembered he had an appointment with Lorna and was in the classroom in time. But why was the appointment about right now eludes him. (Many neurons were sacrificed in the New Years party). He figures it has something to do with Genosha. Nowadays it is the main source of trouble.

Lorna was already waiting, levitating several paperclips in the air above her hand, perched on the edge of a desk and looking clearly bored. The green haired woman was wrapped in a sweater, and a pair of fingerless gloves of some kind of knit. She glanced up as Nate entered and lofted a green eyebrow in his direction. "Hey, you look like shit."

She grinned, sitting up and getting off the desk. She'd been able to say with a straight face this morning that she was one of the few people that hadn't been utterly shit faced last night. One small favor that she actually wasn't a groggy mess due to alcohol. Rather, she'd just spent a good portion of the night puking up pizza for entirely different reasons. Utterly unfair, that.

"Hope you had a better time than I did. Anyways.. I need your help. In dealing with telepaths."

“Nah, I am fine,” replies Nate, leaning back on his seat and trying to look ‘fine’. See? Just a little tired-looking, and is that a bruise at the left of his chin? Possibly someone punched him recently.

“I had a great time,” he confirms. At least he is pretty sure he did. Memory is a bit fuzzy at the moment. The hangover was pretty bad, which is saying something considering he deals with technovirus-caused headaches. But enough coffee fixes all.

“Why are you dealing with telepaths? They are nothing but trouble,” he comments like he knows what he is talking about.

Lorna shot Nate a look, and crossed her arms. "I've had to deal with Dani on the Darkside using my fears against me, my half-possible-sister Wanda picking through my head with an axe.. and Zealot threw all of the misery and sorrow and anger and everything else that Genoshans have dealt with." She muttered and shifted her weight on her toes.

"I need something.. anything, that I can do to try to limit the danger I present to myself and others when I have someone smashing a hammer at my mind." She murmured, frowning slightly. "Anything, any tricks, or hints, or whatever that I can do to try to give myself some breathing room… would be very useful."

Nate frowns faintly, looking a little more awake and serious at Lorna’s enumeration of telepathic troubles. “Shit,” he mutters. “I got bad news for you. None of those are telepaths. Dani is a… hmm, one-trick pony. She goes straight to your phobia centers or something. Wanda just uses ‘magic’,” he uses his hands to gesture putting quotes in the air. “Means she alters reality with energy most eggheads can’t understand. It is not even psychic. And Zealot is empathic, not telepathic. Pretty sure he reads and projects emotions only.”

Lorna scowled, and her frown darkened. "They played around with my head Nate. I don't want to know what happens when I have to face a telepath and I can't do anything. I almost took out the city block in pain from Wanda. I can't be a risk for people around me. It deals with my head, right? So maybe the same techniques that people use against telepathy can help." She leaned against the desk, and shaking her head.

"And I'm not always around people that can shut me down if I become a risk.."

And this is why not even other mutants like telepaths. That kind of loss of control and feeling helpless. But that is what many humans feel about supers.

Nate sighs. “Well, there are people that is very hard to influence. I have seen some really cool and some wicked mental defenses non-telepaths use. My guess is anyone can learn them. I am pretty sure most X-Men know techniques. I taught a few to…” pause. Lets not go there. Bad mental space.

“Okay. It is mostly about mental discipline, which takes forever to develop. But also about making and holding mental barriers, which is not that difficult. Oh, and learning to notice when a telepath is messing with your head. Which is pretty hard when Xavier does, man is subtle. But pretty easy when I do it.”

Lorna nodded once and some of the clouds in her expression lifted. "Good enough for me. It's something I can work on that won't have Marcos and others up in arms that I'm over doing it or something. Mental exercises or some reason don't freak them out half as much as 'Oh no, Lorna's training. Lorna sit down. Lorna don't get up and stay on the couch.' It's like I'm an invalid or something." She muttered.

"It's probably better I learn from you for starters then, so I can at least get the basics, yeah?"

See? This is an alien situation for Nate. People trusting him enough to want to learn from him? He did try to give Lorna and Marcos a lesson about real warfare in the Danger Room a few weeks back, true. But still.

The idea he can be a decent teacher of anything is WEIRD.

But Lorna is a friend, so he can’t say no. “Basics. Right. Okay, there is a lot to learn about perception and conceptualization. The human mind is an amazing mechanism and I have seen regular humans doing really strange things with it. I figure on a very basic level it starts with self-hypnosis, but there is so much more. I guess I should show you. Mind if we go into your mindscape?”

Lorna nodded along as Nate talked about the intricacies about the human mind, how odd and strange and interesting it could be. Yet as he mentioned going into her mindscape she hesitated. Green eyes shooting to glance his way and she exhaled a breath. "Uhm.. my mindscape? Er… uhm… ah… I guess…" She rubbed the bridge of her nose and plopped back down onto the desk top.

"I'm just not entirely sure how together that'll be.."

“Heh, it is going t be better than mine,” comments Nate with a self-deprecating smile. His mindscape was left in shambles by the Phoenix, and it still looks like a disaster area. Healing is slow - so many memories gone for good.

He stands up and walks closer to Lorna, teaching with a hand to touch her head, he left temple. There is an odd pulling sensation.

And then they are in her mind. Her self-perception mixed with Nate’s particular take on how minds are. Which is pretty standard because he has seen and likes how Xavier labels and organizes his mental viewpoint. « Surface thoughts go there,» he points out to collections of mostly conscious thoughts Lorna is having right now. « Many telepaths can’t touch more than those. But altering them can be bad enough. Make someone make the wrong decision at a critical time. »

Lorna's rough exhale followed as she shot Nate a dry smile. "I'll be sure to clean up the dirty laundry." She joked, but it was only half way there. And then, her focus turned inwards under Nate's direction. Her own perception was alight with all the electrical impulses around them a constant backdrop of noise, like static. The metal, every nail and every scrap of ferros metal just as similarly lit up in her senses.

Perhaps oddly enough, in the same way, she could sense the growing child inside her.
Then her thoughts drifted, slowly, with Nate's mention of pushing her surface thoughts away. Her mind was scattered, messy, as she had said—people had messed with it. Even if they weren't telepaths. Though there were marks where Betsy had tried to help her get her thoughts back in order. It took her a long while of intenese thought to get them cleared, or at least, shoved into compartments to focus alone on Nate and her alone. She exhaled a breath, and glanced around.

« I think that's most everything.. » Her lips thinned in her own mindscape. A few concerns, for her own mental state, and her child messed with her concentration.

« I have seen worse » promises Nate. No, he is not surprised by any dirty laundry Lorna might keep in her surface thought. What surprises him is she can feel her child. He can't, the tiny brain is not yet readable for him. But Nate has problems to read minds in altered states, even dreaming minds are a hard.

When Lorna visualizes her own mind and tries to set order she will discover that it is not so easy. If thoughts were so easily controlled all human would be like Zen monks and lack imagination. Instead he loans her his own power to reorganize her mindscape more to her liking.

There is a great clarity and focus gained when they finish. And peace. And then the mind rebels and those caged thoughts begin to sneak around.

Nate laughs. « Yeah, this is completely normal. Don't worry. Mental discipline is difficult for everyone. Takes years and years or practice for most people. And when you finally get it maybe your mind will be like Scott's, which is not very fun. »

Her ability to sense the child wasn't on any mental level, much more of as a bundle of nerves, alight with a pulse of faint electromagnetic sparks. Much in the way Lorna ignored most of the world in her senses, it made sense that she hadn't noticed it before it had been pointed out to her.

Lorna's thoughts started to scatter again, her focus difficult to maintain even as they cleared the minscape temporarily. « Who wants to be like that? » She laughed weakly, even as she closed her eyes briefly. There was a stubborn sort of swell of emotions there, even as she tried again to shove her thoughts back into something that looked like order. But there was a good amount of irritation at herself for not being able to do it for more than a few seconds at a time.

« So, besides being able to clear all of these surface thoughts, what else can I work on? » Her mental focus as it was fell on a scattered memory of trying and failing to do something similar years ago when the Professor had tried to teach her how to focus her thoughts for using her powers. That had taken a long while too.

Nate points other sections of her mind, « memories are there, digging there requires more power than just reading surface thoughts. Particularly long term memories. Altering those can really mess up someone, but it is rarely permanent. » Another section. « That is your self, which is very complicated and maybe Xavier would have some insights. I smash it when I really want to go for a kill, but it takes a lot of power. Some folks are incredibly resistant and bounce back in minutes. I have yet to figure out why. » But he obviously doesn't care much. Telepathic murder is a horrible thing to do and he gets bits and pieces of the victims stuck in his own head. Last resort tactic only.

« Now, this is the thing: you can will up walls and shield parts of your mind. Or even everything. » How? He shows it by creating a field around their minds, it feels like a huge, titanic dome around their whole minds. « This is your mind. So theoretically your will is supreme and telepaths sneaking round can be kicked out. Of course this is the theory. You are only as strong as you can… well, as you can imagine you are strong. »

Lorna mentally wrinkled her nose, or at least the construct of who she was did, her arms crossing as she glanced around her mind. Nate's words on what telepaths wanting to do her harm might do had her pausing, considering she had so much trouble already.. she likely wouldn't come swinging back so well after something like that happened to her.

Lorna was well aware of her mental fragilities, even if they were as of yet undiagnosed.

Her brows shot upwards in surprise as Nate set up the mental shields and she glanced around at the difference in feeling. « Huh. Cool. » Then as he mentioned her being able to push him out because of mental will she frowned faintly « That's going to be that whole lucid dreaming thing all over again, isn't it? Like remember it's your mind and you can control everything that happens there.. but good luck getting control of that control thing? » She tilted her head as she spoke.

« Pretty much that - in theory we can control everything in our minds. In reality pretty much no one can control anything in their minds and bodies » admits Nate, his mental self looking pretty much exactly like his regular self. Except a little less scruffy.

« But the more self-aware one is. The stronger the will. The better discipline and self-control, the better one can handle intruders. » He explains. « And visualizing and conceptualizing helps quite a bit. So I hope showing this to you does help. Now, try to create a wall between us. Something simple, like a metal wall you would create with your powers. »

Lorna rolled her eyes, « I sucked at that whole lucid dreaming thing we tried in high school here. It was the worst. » She had failed repeatedly and never once actually managed to lucid dream. She rarely remembered her dreams anyways. The nightmares were much, much clearer. Of course, those she never had been able to break out of either.

Still, she had asked for this. Had asked for help.

So as Nate told her to make a wall, like a metal one, she held up her hands much the same way as if she were going to make one in the real world. Only.. as she flexed those mental muscles to try to form a wall.. nothing happened. A beat, two, and a noise of frustration formed in her mind. A steel something, not exactly a wall, wobbled into existence. Lorna opened her eyes, grinning.. and then it fell apart. Her mental defenses were abyssmal.

Nate tsk. Yes, not good. « C'mon, you make these walls easily in the real world. So visualizing it here should be easy. Picture a wall, or a forcefield to stop bullets. Any construct will protect you. You are pretty tough, being jailed for days by that maniac has barely slowed you down, » he points out, grinning. « Many regular people would be wrecks for days. You want to get back to Genosha already and are trying to figure out how to kick his ass. Your main source of annoyance right now seems to be that you can't get a stiff drink because of the kid. So… gimme a wall, okay? »

Lorna shot Nate a look and scowled, her hands lifting upwards again as she groaned and glared at the mental-space between them. She squared her shoulders and adjusted her stance, as if that mattered to making a mental defense. « And plan a wedding, and deal with Bridesmaids fighting over colors. » Came a mental snark, but as she focused a barrier of green light and magnetic glow, came to life between them.

It wasn't unlike her barriers in the real world, but it seemed to fizz and blurr more at the edges as the little bubble of a mental wall came into being around her.

Where ever her gaze swung, it seemed that the barrier reaffirmed itself, strengthening as she glared at it. Irritation was strong in the squaring of her jaw, as she struggled to hold it.

« Oh yeah - I can see getting Illyana, Betsy and Darcy agree about clothes will be tougher than tackling Magneto with a fork, » comments Nate. Then he knocks at the forcefield with a 'hand', gently. Still manages to rattle Lorna's mind. « You might have to practice a bit. I can help you if I am around. After a few days visiting the mindscape you should be able to get fairly good at conceptualizing psychic defenses. You could also ask other telepaths for their input. Detecting when I am in your head is not difficult, but the others teeps in the team have more experience and can be pretty sneaky. »

Lorna shivered at the gentle mental knock to the barrier and it floundered after holding for a heart beat or two. She let it collapse then, and exhaled a shuddering breath, tired even though the mental exercise was just that. She wasn't used to pushing herself mentally, and it showed. « You have no idea. Betsy any Darcy had a fight. Rogue wants yellow. Darcy hates yellow, so does Betsy.. » A mental roll of her eyes.

« If I could just elope I would. » She sighed mentally and hooked a tired smile in Nate's direction. « And yeah.. thanks. I'll need all the help I can get. I might bug Jean if I catch her before going to Genosha again. »

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