2012-07-18: Shield Mentoring


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Summary: Connor teaches Nicholas how to be more versatile with his shields.

Date: July 18, 2012

Log Title: Shield Mentoring

Rating: PG

Xavier Mansion - Danger Room

A product of Shi'ar technology, the room generates apparently solid, realistic imagery by manipulation high-resolution force fields and holograms. The walls and floor appear as a steel room until a program is turned on. Overhanging the room in the center is a control Room managing the room's mechanisms to oversee the exercise while ensuring the subject's safety.

While Connor usually comes to the mansion on Tuesdays to help mentor the students wanting to learn hand to hand, today is something slightly different. The Danger Room has been requested for use, and he is there in his own black uniform with the glowing blue-green highlights radiating from whatever his power source is supposed to be. Either way you slice it only one person has gotten an invite down here, the person who's been asking to train to better defend himself with his powers. So today, the young man is feeding tennis balls into the hopper of a high-tech air launcher as he waits for Nicholas to show up.

With Shane's help, Nicholas has designed his school uniform to be a hooded black robe with an 'X' pattern on the cuffs of the sleeve over a standard black sleevless body suit with an X that streches across the chest. He's not about to turn down a training session, even if him and Connor have been at odds in the past, the guy is willing to help him. "Hey." He says with a wave as he walks into the Danger Room. "You're going to be throwing balls at me aren't you?" He says looking at the device.

"Sort of." Connor replies as he adjusts the speed setting on one of the launchers, "Miss Frost gave me permission to look at the data from the Danger Room's computers… after she showed me how to make it make sense… and told me you'd been training to make shields. I'm here to try and help you improve what you're doing by showing you how to make softer shields." But then he puts up a hand before the protest comes, "It'll make sense in a minute. It's got something to do with martial arts that needs explaining first. But only if you're willing to try. I know that you and I do not get along, but I also understand… you're frustrated. Everyone around campus talks about how angry you are with what's happening. I understand. More than you'd care to know."

Nicholas waves a hand. "I wasn't handling things well then, still not handling them but it's better. Trying to control my temper more." Which isn't always easy. "So I dunno if it's that we don't get along just that I was…a lot angrier and still just trying to figure things out." He runs a hand through his hair knowing that most of it was him causing the issues. "Made some friends since then, it's helped." Though he does make a sour face at the 'everyone aroudn campus' statement. "Softer shields? If I make them softer, won't things go through them easier?"

Connor gives a soft chuckle, smiling faintly, "You'd think… but you have to remember we're dealing with your mind, and not a piece of metal. Anyways…" he stops and goes to the other machine to adjust it, "In martial arts there are three kinds of defenses. Hard defense, soft defense, and sticky defense. Hard is fairly simple. You stop the blow. But in doing so you might redirect the force some other way. Like how the balls will fly off when they hit your shield. A soft defense would be more like a catcher mitt, or a football being caught by a running back. Instead of deflecting the energy of the attack, you absorb and arrest it, taking away it's force. If you've ever watched martial arts films, you see sometimes how they parry a punch but then they turn it into a throw or something? That's the same philosophy. Instead of just blocking or stopping, you redirect or arrest. Make sense?"

Nicholas nods as he's following along with Connor's words. "Okay, since I'm still new to martial arts, Ms. Pryde is teaching Shane and I Akido, so I think it makes sense." He's trying to think of a way to relate it to horseback riding but can't figure it out. "So, you want me to try to catch things flying at me? I can change the direction something is headed, like pushing it in another direction but I don't know if I've ever tried a full out stop."

Connor pauses and then takes a breath, tapping one foot on the ground as he moves a few things around in a seemingly needless fashion, neating up a spot here or there before he looks at Nicholas and tilts his head, "Not… exactly. Here's the thing. Something like a hard shield… like what you do… is good against explosions and other large things. It's like… mmm…" Pausing to think on it, "This is harder than I thought." But with everything ready, he turns to face the younger man fully, "A softer shield means that you can save your own energy by using the energy of the attack to your advantage. You have to remember… it's all in your mind. And what's easier? Saying no to something like your shield does, or saying 'Thank you.'"

"I think I got it. It's like with Horseback riding, you want to move with the movement of the horse, lean with him, if you go against the flow things just don't work out right." Nicholas says in terms he'll understand batter. "So instead of just going 'stop' it's like I absorb what's being thrown my way…in a sense. I guess it's like using a pillow to stop something being thrown, the coushin absorbs some of the force but if you were to use something like a sheet of steel it might go splat."

Connor snaps his fingers, "Right right… think on it like this too. Picture the incoming object like it's a horse… and you're riding it. Where you are is a cliff. You're trying to slow the horse before he gets to the cliff. So he doesn't hurt himself. Or herself." Adding on the last as an afterthought, but then he takes down the firing stud for one of the launchers, and just says, "Catch." *WHOOMP*!

The launched tennis ball throws Nick off guard and he instantly throws up a shield, his hand flying out to form it, but it's a 'hard' shield. He does keep the 'horse on a cliff analogy, when riding he'd have the horse turn so he moves his hand to move the shield as the ball hits. The ball bounces off it at an angle towards the floor. "Sorry, wasn't ready, was just….insintic." Which is good in it's own way seeing that Nick isn't struggling to put up a shield any longer.

Connor lets the unit reload, keeping with a nice low velocity ball at the moment, "Yes, but that means you've trained it to that point. See… you've got one of the most versatile and powerful talents on the planet as a telekinetic. You're not limited like I was to gravity, or like Magnetic to metals… you can move ANYTHING with a thought. That's a hard thing to be able to wrap your head around. You have to teach your mind to really start going 'If X happens, I react as Y.' constantly. So… I'm going to fire again. This time… soft." And once more. *WHOOMP!*

Again the hand goes up, as Connor might have realized or learned that it's a sort of focus for him, he can't use his powers without guiding them at the moment. He thinks 'soft like pillow' as his shield goes up but the thoughts are to 'soft' as the ball hits the shield, the shield bends inward and Nick has thought to 'soft' as the ball breaks through the shield and hits him in the chest. "Ow." He says rubbing the spot. "At least the shield lessened the hurt."

Connor moves to the other machine and takes up the controller for it as well, "People often times mistake soft for weak… soft isn't always weak. Water is soft, but water can wear down mountains, it can be focused to cut through steel, and it can stop something with surface tension. All and all… water is pretty badass. Your shields can be just as good, it just means you have to have the will to balance between resistance and resilience." The writer in him coming out as he fires off two more balls this time, one a second after the other.

"Oh crap!" Nicholas says as he jumps back and puts up his hand to deflect the first ball, which is done with a hard shield, and as soon as the ball hits and bounces off, the shield goes down. Then he puts up his second hand to try to make a second shield but this is much weaker since in his mind it's not his dominant hand, and the ball plows through the shield hitting Nick like it's barely even there and hits him in the thigh this time. "Damnit!" He says wincing. "Those things hurt…I'm okay." He says trying to walk off the pain a bit. "Wow, you're a tough teacher." He says with a slight grin on his face to show he's not upset with it.

Connor lowers the controls and walks over towards Nicholas, and then around him. Taking both of the young man's hands he puts them behind his back, and presses them together, "Hold these together for a moment." Then he comes back to the devices and picks up the firing studs, "I get you focus with your hands, but at the same time… that's a crutch. I had the same problem. I'm going to adjust the speed down on the balls. Think of your entire body as your hand. Try… ummm… try breathing. Every time you breath in, your chest goes out. Push it out with that… then exhale and release." *WHOOMP!*

Nicholas nods to Connor and it's obvious the teen is nervous as he clasps his hands together behind his back. "O…okay." He's never used his powers without his hands so right as the ball fire he exhales and tries but at the a last millisecond he panics and his hand reaches forward to make the shield, which results in the sheild being formed as the ball is already past the point of blocking and the ball smacks him square in the chest, causing him to take a few steps back. "I…need the hand. Otherwise I can guide what I want my powers to do."

Connor gives a nod, "Allright… but from now one… each time you start your exercises… start by trying not to use your hands. Eventually it will work, and it will work longer. Because that way… if someone ever does bind your hands up? You can still use your power." And with that he continues on with the exercise, letting Nick use his hands to reach out and block balls, but he fires them in random patterns, varying the speeds, but never enough to do more than bruise. He's not mean or unrelenting on it, pausing in bursts to offer advice on 'shaping' the shield, and making sure that Nick takes a break to get some water and rest when it looks like too much.

Some balls are deflected and others are not, just as many seem to bounce off of his shields that hit him. Through out the entire exercise though there's a focused deterimnation about Nicholas, like he really does want to learn this and that he really is trying. He doesn't say much to Connor except the occaional nods, questions and verbal agreements in regards to the advice. By the end of session he does have his share of bruises but they're all badges of progress since he's managed to grasp the concept of 'soft shield' verses 'hard shield' and even able to move his shields so it can deflect two objects. He's not perfect at it but it's a good start.

Connor pauses this after a good twenty minutes of working, and shuts down the machine, tapping a few commands so all those rolling balls are collected by chutes and other nooks in the Danger Room's expanse, "That's actually pretty good for a first attempt. It's not an easy thing to stand there and take a hit like that, trying to know in your mind that you can stop it. Our physical instincts are to dodge and move. But eventually once you've learned how to temper your shields based on what's being thrown at you, you can start learning how to move as well. Once you've got a better idea of how to do soft, we'll work on sticky shields. You'll enjoy that a lot."

"Thank god." Nicholas says as the machine is stopped, and he begins rubbing his temples a bit. "I was starting to get a killer headache from just doing that. I feel like I just ran a barrel race or something." He says giving Connor a smile. "Thanks, for doing all this. Helps keep me focused on something and my mind on other stuff. So…you mean you're going to run more sessions for me like this?" There's actually a hopeful tone to his voice.

Connor blinks as if surprised, "Of course. I was supposed to be your mentor when you got here, but things were… complicated. About all I can do is make up for lost time. I think at the time you came to the school, we were both angry about things in our lives. I had lost my powers because I had done something wrong… I crossed a line. A lesson I'm never going to forget. You've lost a lot in your life, things I can't begin to compare with… but that's part of what the school is here for. To build a bridge between misunderstandings." The machines retract into the floor, and the door shifts from yellow for caution to green for clear, "Twice a week in here, we'll work on your powers, and I'll teach you what I know about fighting with powers. Heck, I might even squeeze a little physics work in too. Doctor McCoy mentored me when I first came here, and he taught me there's always time for a little science."

Nicholas shurgs. "I don't know if I would have wanted a mentor in training then, things were…they still are, messed up. I just need stuff like this so that I don't think about it. The more time I have to dwell on what happened, the worse I get." He admits. "Maybe I've passed the Anger stage of grief, who knows." He shrugs. "I also still need to figure out a codename but that'll be later. Thanks again Connor, I think I'm gonna go hit the showers."

Connor grins a bit as Nick turns to leave, "Knowing your luck they'll stick you with Stallion or something else horse related. You do that. I'm going to work out some kinks." Turning away from the young man, he looks up at the control room, saying out loud, "Give me a half-dozen Hand ninja, dojo at night, Kyoto, Japan." And as the door closes behind him, he snaps the combat staff out at spins it once in his grip.

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