Hey You Got Your Science in my Magic!

October 08, 2018:

As part of ongoing efforts to understand how the demons are invading New York so easily, Caitlin Fairchild recruits her fellow Titan, Raven, to assist her in a controlled lab experiment to study the portals more closely. The results will shock you! …if you have a terminal degree in engineering or particle physics, anyway.

Titan Tower

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Wonder Girl, Zatanna, Nico

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Caitlin Fairchild is a scientist at heart. That is to say, she solves her problems with a meticulous approach. The scientific method applies fairly heavily in her decision making process.

She was, of course, one of those girls in college who had color-coded binders for every class. With labelled divider tabs, even!

With the demonic infestation of New York showing no signs of abating, Caitlin approached her teammate Raven on the Titans with a peculiar suggestion: to assist the tall ginger in gathering research data.

"I know it's risky," Caitlin says to Raven, brow furrowed in thought. "But I need lab conditions to get the best information possible. Fieldwork introduces too many variables and I'm already kind of guessing on a lot of this." She gestures vaguely at an empty room in the Tower they've commandeered, filled to the brim with sensor equipment and monitoring devices. Also: an automated paintball gun loaded with holy water ampules.

"Is it even possible to… I don't know. Induce a portal?" she inquires of her dark companion. "Or hijack one and divert it here? If I can document a live portal forming, I can pin down some of my missing datasets. And if we capture a -live- specimen, I can do some more informed research on how to fight these things." She shrugs at Raven, hands spreading a little. "I know that might be a big ask, but— you're kind of the expert here, and I wouldn't trust anyone else to do it properly."

*

It isn't every day Raven is approached to create a controlled environment for demonic-related studies. Then again, she shouldn't be surprised; her demonic lineage isn't much of a secret anymore, especially not after displaying part of it physically during the Titans' recent battle for and against their friend, Zatanna. Maybe she could be a little surprised no one has tried to avoid her since then, but it may be a case-by-case basis.

Whatever the reason, they aren't the focus of the subject brought to her attention. Although well-rested, an underlying tiredness lingers on Raven as Caitlin explains, her own brow creasing at the points made. "You mean influence one with my powers?" she asks, her words sounding more like a statement to make sure she's understanding this correctly. Her arms remain crossed over her chest as she keeps her gaze level with Caitlin's, tilting her chin upward a few degrees. "I see what you mean, but I feel you're right - it will be quite a feat to manage. What exactly are you looking for again?"

*

Caitlin's body language offers polite deference to Raven as the women discuss the possibility. The brawny ginger moves to sit against a table's edge with the heels of her hands braced near her hips, putting her head closer to Raven's height so her fellow Titan isn't obligated to stare up at her. Wearing only her matte grey bodysuit, Caitlin is relatively at ease, with the tight braid of her red hair hanging down her spine instead of being bundled into a fighting knot.

Her brow furrows deepend, and she chews on the inside of her cheek as she carefully considers her words instead of risking a glip response.

"I don't— I can't do what you and Zee do," Caitlin says. "Magic," she clarifies. "But when I was on the Bilskirnir, I spent a lot of time watching the Asgardians. I built some tools that let me…" she hesitates, putting her flattened palms together and rolling them in a slow circle. "They helped me create some context for things. Sensor equipment, y'know? I still don't know what my equipment is /detecting/," she admits. "Or how it works. I invented a geiger counter before figuring out what radiation is," she explains, trying to put it in a mutually relatable context.

"But I -can- detect the secondary effects of magical forces. Heat differentials, radioactive decay, even electron bursts. That gives me some clues on the physical properties of what we're dealing with. I can determine if it's a … a gravimetric singularity, or a wormhole, or some other kind of weirdness. My working hypothesis is that these portals are forming quantum entanglement at a sub-molecular level, bringing these demons in sync with the P-brane frequency of our universe. If I'm right, then we can start building a mechanism for destabilizing the demons. Maybe even interrupting portal formation."

She rises, looking through the heavy ballistic glass insert that looks into the room, and wags an index finger at the interior of the room. "I don't think we want to punch a bunch of new holes in spacetime if we can help it. But if you can divert a portal into here, I can get some solid data on how it forms. If that works, then we can try trapping a live specimen, and I can conduct some more experiments on what makes them tick."

*

Each movement is noted, from the placement of hands to the way the other Titan delays her reply. Unlike Caitlin, Raven's unhooded expression never once changes, only tilting her chin down a bit when the woman puts effort into literally seeing eye to eye with her.

She does appreciate the fact that these scientific words and theories are being translated into layman's terms. Some of it is familiar. Others get a little lost in the details until there is a simple or more common equivalent set next to it, completing the explanation from there.

"…Magic is hard to explain," she then agrees, eyes lidded as she goes over what has been said. "It follows its own set of rules most of the time, which is probably why it doesn't seem to make any sense when one takes a logical approach in analyzing it…"

As the glass insert is indicated, Raven's gaze lifts to examine it from where she stands. Eventually she takes a few steps closer, maintaining the distance set between them and the danger of the experiment they're going to try out.

"…I may need to remind you that there are differences in the magic used," she adds matter-of-factly. "Zatanna uses a form of magic. I use another. And Nico yet another." Her eyes flicker and shift back toward Caitlin. "Whatever this magic is, I cannot guarantee any consistency. But…we can still try it out and see what will happen"

*

Caitlin exhales, an expression of weariness rather than frustration. "Yeah, the whole …inconsistency of magic, thing. That's been keeping me up nights," she admits. "Cassie said the same thing. That we can't solve this with logic or science. But—" she shrugs, helplessly. "I don't know what else I can do to /help/ aside from wandering the streets looking for more demons to punch. Maybe… if nothing else, maybe this will give you and Zee and.." she swallows, glancing downwards. "Nico," she gets out, "something *you* can use, more effectively than I can."

Her eyes remain downcast for a second, then Caitlin takes a deep, steadying breath and gets to her feet. "Okay. Well, no time like the present," she tells Raven, moving to her computers and booting up the systems, establishing baselines. "If you need to meditate or whatever, I need a few minutes to bring the systems online."

"I'm doing this by the numbers," she clarifies. She whistles twice, as if summoning a dog, and her portable remote drone bzzzrts to life and comes to a hover nearby, a camera lens fixing on Caitlin. "No, dummy, get the— get both of us and the window in frame," she scolds the drone. Somehow expressing indignation, the drone backs up a few feet and holds steady.

"Uh, okay, I'm Caitlin Fairchild, this is my associate Raven," she says, gesturing at the other woman. "We're conducting this experiment in Titan Tower in an attempt to analyze the formation of interdimensional portals that are letting demons access New York. It's— 2340 hours, on the 7th," she clarifies.

She starts going down a physical checklist, making sure every device is on and operating. "All systems in the green. Safety measures include standard fire suppression units, and I've outfitted an automated defense turret with a paintpall gun loaded with holy water ampules. Remind me to donate a -lot- to Sacred Heart Church after we're done. I've also got a machine gun loaded with sanctified ammunition if the demons breach the facility."

"In the event we're overrun or killed, then someone tell Cassie to delete my browser history," she adds, trying for a bit of levity.

"Okay, Raven. I'm set here. Whenever you're ready," Caitlin says, one hand staying close to the panic button.

*

The feeling shared is easy to sense. A common, and very relatable, feeling, one that a person carries with them even when they say things are fine. But there is no pretense here. Compared to the rest of the Titans, Caitlin is a part of the group that reads like an open book, honest and earnest to a fault.

Then again, from what Raven has seen and felt, most of the Titans are like this. Despite varying levels of secrecy, they don't always hide how they feel about certain matters. She has since learned it comes with the territory of being friends with them.

Without anything more to say for the moment, she watches as Caitlin psychs up, walking back a bit as things are set in motion. The drone gets a glance, then a quirked brow once the opening message is spoken.

"I can already tell this is going to be fun."

All of this is said - and recorded for posterity - somewhat flatly while looking straight ahead at the camera.

Glancing over her shoulder at Caitlin, Raven nods, confirming that they are both on the same page. She then draws in a slow breath as she looks back at the ballistic glass insert, shoulders straight, back straight, arms lifting slightly from either side of her body. Eyes close as she begins a whispered incantation, fingers barely flexing the further she slides into it. An inkling of dark energy is conjured, slowly surrounding her pale hands as they rise, arms bringing them toward the front to concentrate on directing a portal within protective glass.

Sure enough, something forms. It looks like the portals Caitlin has been exposed to within recent events, dark as shadow, rapidly swirling as it expands. She works to maintain its size for the sake of science, repeating the wordless phrase a second time to keep herself in check.

*

"Okay, this is good," Caitlin announces, eyes on her readouts. She makes a few adustments, moving infographics across the holodisplays and comparing them side by side. "Yeah, this is looking really good. I think I can— I mean I'm picking up different readings than my field notes, but that was with a lot of ambient magical energy being thrown around. Yesssss," she hisses, in victory, fingers tapping quickly.

"Oh, this is perfect, I'm getting solid readings just on the portal formation. Gravitational telemetrics are within expected parameters."

She swings over another panel, fingers splaying with short motions to throw the graph to the whole screen. "Yes, okay, okay, this is -great-, this is -so great-," she says, clearly unaware she's actually speaking aloud. "Huh, that's interesting. Sharp uptick in neutrino emissions. You usually see that kind of thing in a pulsar," Caitlin clarifies for Raven, glancing over at the other woman. Realizing it's probably best not to distract her friend, she clamps her mouth shut and returns to her work.

"SIRIN, run a cross-check on the thermal map and then do a secondary sweep for subatomic particle decay. I don't want to find out we've irradiated the room."

Caitlin glances over at Raven with a concerned expression. If Raven's as tired as Fairchild, then even mundane work could prove over-taxing. "We're making really good progress. But you let me know if you feel like things are getting out of control, okay, Raven?" she tells her friend. "I've got plenty of data to work with, so we can stop right now if you want."

*

Raven murmurs tones that balance between harsher and weaker resonances, the longer parts of her dark hair dancing about her shoulders the longer she stays in the zone. As the portal runs, she misses most of what Caitlin says aloud. Probably for the better, since it is reactions to the action taken to gather the information necessary.

In fact, she almost doesn't hear Caitlin telling her she can stop at any time. She gets in deep enough, becoming distant within her physical being, seeking out whatever she can sense against the magic she casts.

Something tells her she should refrain from doing anything more. It repeats what Caitlin says, the concern evident in her voice. It reminds her of her own mortal limitations, of how weary she still is despite being able to stand and walk and stay fully present. It lets her open her eyes, blank in their staring at the portal still wide open, a clear sign that perhaps she should just shut it off.

Exhale. Inhale. Even breaths help relax her body, returning her to the room so that she can close off the portal. As she lowers her arms, it disappears within seconds without exploding or making a mess of anything within the glass barrier. The air around her stills, like nothing ever happened in the first place.

A blink, and the color in her eyes is filled once again. There's a pause before she looks over at the brawny woman, trying to give her a small smile. It looks more like a odd quirk at the corner of her mouth. "Hopefully it helps."

*

Caitlin flashes a megawatt, dimpled grin at Raven, flush with enthusiasm for the positive results of the experiment— and pleased to see a rare smile on Raven's face, no matter how subtle it might be. "Raven, I could hug you right now," she tells the other woman. "I'm not gonna," she adds hastily, a half-beat later. "I don't— I mean. Boundaries, y'know, but just— wow," she says, waving an emphatic hand at their experiment. She knocks over a toolkit, though, and makes a fumbling attempt to catch it before it hits the ground. "Ack!"

She recovers her toolbox before it makes a mess, and gathering it (and her dignity), she turns and sets the tools in a less precarious position. "I think it's gonna do more than help," Caitlin clarifies. "That was a massive burst in neutrino emissions. That is unreal," she says, tapping on the screens to bring up what are almost certainly entirely unreadable results for Raven.

"Neutrinos are subatomic particles that we think were caused by the Big Bang or relatively small stars spinning a few hundred rotations per second. If it was a big X-ray burst, or gamma radiation, that might suggest something else. But I'm pretty confident that once we crunch these results, it'll advance my hypothesis."

Caitlin continues to gesture emphatically with both hands as she speaks. "From there, me and Nadia going to build a dipolar neutrino emitter, and if it shuts down a portal, then the theory will hold and we can start exploring larger-scale application. I don't know if this is gonna be -the thing- that saves the city, but… it's gonna help. A lot."

"Thanks, Raven," she says, with a shy sincerity, her hands pausing their flailing expression. She rests a palm against her red-haired temple, patting at an ever-rebellious tendril near her eye, and rests a fist against her hip. "I owe you a solid." She rests both hands on her hips, lazily shifting her weight over one leg. "Homemade cake? Apple pie? Sky's the limit. And you won't have to share with Bart," she promises with a laugh, hand slicing horizontally through the air for emphasis.

*

At this, Raven stifles a laugh so not to hurt the other Titan's feelings over her awkwardness. "Boundaries," she repeats nonchalantly with a nod, sweeping back one side of her hair behind an ear. "Right."

From what she can understand of the following science prattle, the data lends itself to the previous findings that have already been recorded. And if it helps save the city and its people, then they are on the right path.

"It was not a problem," she replies softly, rolling back a shoulder to ease the tension out of it. Arms refold, crossing almost elegantly over one another as she takes a moment to think about the offer.

"Mn…brownies."

She figures everyone likes chocolate. Plus she can't finish the whole thing by herself, it's too much. Maybe she can tentatively sneak Bart the rest.

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