aldersprig: (lock and key)
[personal profile] aldersprig
First: Slaves, School
Previous: Force-Fields

They shared a look among them. Cataleb stepped forward to speak when nobody else did. “Kayay got angry and stormed off. I’m sure she’ll be back when nobody goes after her.”

“Of course. Well, welcome to Force and Force-fields, a class you will be taking every year of your education here, or until you can hold off a tsunami with nothing but your mind and your collar. And you may very well need to, so I’d suggest you pay attention. Now. I am Professor Smiff. I prefer neutral or feminine pronouns when socializing, and neutral pronouns when working. The collar has no gender; the magic has no gender; we have no gender, just as that tsunami has no gender. Now. We’re going to start with very basic exercises and move on. Please join with a partner and face each other, just far enough apart that your arms stretched in front of you do not touch.”

Desmond looked around and quickly moved towards Jefshan, but Wesley had beaten him to it, which left him facing Talia.

It could have been far worse, he considered, and from the expression on her face, she probably thought similarly. He bowed to her, a careful bow his sisters would have been proud of, and she bowed back tidily.

“Very good. Now, here.” Professor Smiff moved around, arranging pairs until they were positioned satisfactorily. “The first exercise is a push. You are all going to concentrate on making a circular force-shield, like the bottom of a market basket, and pushing it towards your partner, trying to push your partner backwards while they, in turn, will be doing the same thing to you. Understood? All right, then. Everyone talk to your collar and concentrate on making a shield.”

With Kayay out, they had equal pairs. “Ready?” Desmond murmured to his collar.

::This is going to be fun,:: the collar whispered in turn. “Ready? Focus.”

Desmond focused on his shield the way he had on the stairs, but instead of pushing himself up the stairs, he was trying to nudge Talia backwards. Her shield came up as he was getting his moving, a purple shape like the side of a bubble, almost soapy in its appearance.

She pushed back at him, and he pushed at her. After a moment, her shield burst and she took a surprised step backwards.

Des pulled his shield back towards him. “Okay, try again?” he offered. “I won’t push this time.” He held up his shield again.

This time she manages to get to push at him a little before her shield burst. She took a step back, sighing loudly.

He looked around the room. Doria was paired with Poiy, and both of their bubbles kept exploding. Cataleb was sitting down, refusing to participate, so Lufet was just pushing them around the room with a shield. Over in another corner, Jefshan and Wesley were doing all right, but they didn’t seem to be able to move each other; their bubbles kept warping around each other’s.

In the middle of all this, Professor Smiff was wandering around, making comments, pulling up little shields and pushing them at people, encouraging and criticizing.

“Desmond.” The professor stopped near him and Talia. “Why aren’t you pushing?”

“Because I pushed already. Now it’s her turn to figure out how to push.” It seemed reasonable and fair to him.

“Turns? Who said anything about turns?”

Something about the quirk of the Professor’s eyebrow made this slightly less of an intimidating question than it might have been otherwise.

“Nobody, Professor, but I can already handle a basic shield and Talia can’t. As sh- as Talia is my partner right now, it behooves us both to be able to do the task at hand.”

Now where had that come from? The word behooves was a whisper in his mind from his collar, but the rest -

Something his father had said, about a co-worker who just wanted to step on everyone else’s head to get to the top. Hunh. Desmond hadn’t realized he’d been listening.

::You weren’t, exactly, but when you started helping Talia, it was percolating around in your mind, so I, ah, helped.::

That was a little creepy. Desmond bowed to Professor Smiff again. “Was that wrong, Professor?”

“No.” Professor Smiff raised eyebrows at Desmond and appeared to be considering something. “That was outside the bounds of the assignment, but not wrong. Tell me, can either of you figure out what you, Desmond are doing that you, Talia, are not?”

“He’s - Desmond’s making a shield that works and I’m not,” Talia answered despondently.

“Well, yes, that is the result. Desmond, what are you doing?”

“I’m asking my collar to help me make a shield, like we did on the stairs. The collar asks me to focus, and I think about a shape I want.”

“That’s a good start, yes. Talia?”

“My collar doesn’t like to talk to me,” she admitted, hanging her head. “So I’m supposed to ask it for help?”

“Well, your collar is there to focus the magic, to control it, and to help you steer it. So, close your eyes and ask your collar for a shield. Desmond, shield up.”

Ready? he thought loudly.

::No need to shout. Here we go.::

This time, the shield was the same color as Desmond’s cravat. Had he done that or had the collar?

::Little of A, little of B… watch out!::

Desmond’s shield expanded to cover both him and Professor Smiff as Talia’s shield exploded in something like lavender goo. The goo smeared down the outside of Desmond’s shield and landed with a plop on the floor.

“Interesting.” Professor Smiff nodded at Desmond. “Good instincts there, Desmond, and, Talia, can you tell us what happened?”

“My collar yelled at me, and then … splat?” Talia offered helpfully. “More or less.”

“Interesting. I’d suggest you pay extra-close attention during Collar Rapport classes. Continue to work on this for the rest of class, and do tell me if you two get it settled.”

“Well… that was interesting.” Desmond brought up a smaller shield as Professor Smiff walked away.

“That’s one word for it. At least the goo is going away.” She nudged at it with her toe. “So. Let me try again, asking my collar nicely maybe?”

“What did you ask it?”

“I told it I wanted a forceshield, but stronger.”

“Okay, so let’s see.” How did you teach someone how to do something you’d just figured out how to do yourself?

::Visualization:: his collar whispered.

“Okay,” he repeated. “So here… can I have a shield that’s mostly just visible?”

::Here we go.:: The collar produced a glowing shield-shape in Desmond's hands.

“Thanks. So you need to have a clear picture of what you want to do. See this and think about making one like it, I think.”

She squinted at the shield, walked around it a bit, and then closed her eyes and made a shield.

“Good, good. Now push?”

This time, they pushed against each other, like a shoving match, only with a cushion of air and magic between them. They ended up collapsing on the floor laughing, almost tripping JEfshan as she worked on her own shield.

“Good, good. Practice these in your dormitory this evening. And now, on to your next class, children. Go on now.”


Want More?

Date: 2017-06-21 06:36 pm (UTC)
kelkyag: eye-shaped patterns on birch trunk (birch eyes)
From: [personal profile] kelkyag
O_o Purple goo that doesn't just dissipate once Talia stops powering it (or is she somehow still doing that?) is a bizarre side effect of a shield failure.

Well, it was already clear that the collars had personalities. It's wildly unfair (not that all of this isn't already) if Talia is handicapped because her collar is either generally cranky and/or uninformative or doesn't get along with her in particular. Perhaps she can trade with Cataleb, who might appreciate a laconic collar. (I suspect not, though now I wonder if the fancy and/or personalized collars the non-students have are the same collar personalities they started working with in new shells, or if they get (or somehow develop) new compatriots along the way. And if the incoming class size is limited by the number of newbie training collars available. And what they are, really ... captured or recorded personalities of deceased mages or post-mage magic users?)

ETA: Also, why doesn't Collar Rapport class start before magic classes? Or are force fields really the super-easy starter demo for most people ...?
Edited Date: 2017-06-21 06:38 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-06-21 08:54 pm (UTC)
wyld_dandelyon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] wyld_dandelyon
I'm confused about the missing person and the History of Magic class and the whole stair thing. Are there more stories than you linked here?

Date: 2017-06-21 09:25 pm (UTC)
wyld_dandelyon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] wyld_dandelyon
I belatedly found the links. :-) Foggy foggy brain today!

Date: 2017-06-21 11:05 pm (UTC)
thnidu: Lucy bright and bold. Lucida Bright font, boldface: backslash, small-o, slash: YAY!! (yay)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Good for Desmond and his collar. Between them, he and Talia appear to be doing better than any of the other pairs... well, students. Cataleb's non-participation is not going to be good for Cataleb.

• This time she manages to get to push at him a little before her shield burst.
→ managed
?→ managed to push at him a little

• almost tripping JEfshan
→ Jefshan
Edited Date: 2017-06-21 11:06 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-06-25 01:18 am (UTC)
sauergeek: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sauergeek
It's good to see Jefshan continuing to try to be the voice of reason. I'm kind of surprised Cataleb spoke up about Kayay, but perhaps that's a budding alliance of a sort. Lufet is just pushing Cataleb? I'm surprised at that degree of passivity. And with luck Desmond and Talia have at least gotten better at forcefields: Desmond teaching and Talia learning. And perhaps Talia and Desmond might end up being friends.

The leftover residue on Talia's shield explosions is weird. Magic leaves traces behind? That's something that's worth looking into, and may be a mechanism for investigating misuse of magic. There's already been some hint of even collared magic users going bad. Presumably that'll get covered in some class, or is that yet another thing Not To Be Asked?

The complete lack of useful structure in the classes is baffling. The History class seems useful, but I'd also want a Collar Rapport class well-established before being fitted with a collar, or certainly before trying to use one. Everything here seems to be happening in a thoroughly confusing, if not seriously wrong, order.

Date: 2017-06-29 01:43 pm (UTC)
sauergeek: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sauergeek
I can at least imagine there's a reason behind collaring first, despite entirely predictable reactions like Cataleb's. I can only guess that there's an in-world reason for everything else. Otherwise immediately flinging the newly-collared into a fairly strenuous test — one that might've killed at least one (27 not 28?), and possibly three (three empty chairs), people — heads down the road into cruel. And when we find out later that other newly-collared don't have as useful or friendly a collar as Desmond, to the point of needing a Collar Rapport class, that's further potential cruelty in the test.

It's possible that this is a rather late in the game population-control measure, or there are rather a lot more newly-collared than needed so there's need to weed out, or something of that nature.

Desmond seems to have lucked out, as do a few others. Cataleb might have, might not have. But for people like Talia, that's a lot of stacking against to have to overcome.

Date: 2017-07-01 01:56 am (UTC)
clare_dragonfly: Reid standing with his hands together, text: the profile suggests that the UNSUB is an itsy bitsy spider. (CM: Reid: itsy bitsy spider)
From: [personal profile] clare_dragonfly
Desmond's collar is really very good at this! I'm not sure that Desmond has much to do with it at all... but this is fun :D


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