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Avenger Assembled

Placement Tests -- Psyche

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Alex was in her room one day, thinking about the relative merits of studying telepathic ethics vs. getting a Coke, when she felt a knock at the doors of her mind. There was a psychic presence reaching out to hers, a nearby one that seemed interested in a mental conversation. She was left with a couple of options, ranging all the way from hurling the intruder out to inviting it down for tea at the edges of her mind. Before she could make up her mind, the voice resolved itself into words, still a message rather than a probe. "Greetings, Alex. Are you ready for your tests?"

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Alex carefully marked the page she was on in her textbook with one of the colorful bookmarks she kept in one of the neat cups on her desk and closed the book on ethics. She turned her attention to the mental presence, her eyes unfocused on the window as she followed the thread back to communicate politely back. Like the presence in her head, she was careful not to push into a probe, "Oh, sure! I mean, as ready as you can be, right?"

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"Good." There was a smile with the thought, and Alex recognized the 'mind' of her TA Serena Vervain. "Because of how your powers work, our usual testing protocol is going to be a little adjusted. There are some things you can't fake with solid light technology. If you can sit down in lotus position on the floor and make sure you're not disturbed, we can begin. You're a mentalist, so your tests will be of the mind."

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Alex made certain to leave a carefully lettered sign on the door for Erin on the off chance she returned from her class early for any reason and sat down in the center of the floor after making certain that even if something caused her to thrash, there would be nothing within easy distance to knock over. "How are you going to record it?" Alex asked with blantant curiosity. As a former test subject, she was used to being hooked up with electrodes and all sorts of devices in an attempt to diagnose exactly what she was capable, "Just detailed record keeping or do you have devices to annotate the experience?"

There was no fear or concern about having her capabilities recorded. In addition to ethics, Alex had also studied just how dangerous a psychic out of control could be. It was why she had such strict morals about using her powers but she never blamed others for any fear of her powers. She folded her legs into a loose cross-leged position and closed her eyes as she let her body find the most comfortable position, "Ready!"

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"We're going to build your testing area together," said Seven in Psyche's mind. She could feel her TA in the room with her now, the psychic presence of the older student helping her construct a room out of the walls of her mind rather than the walls of material around her. For the most part, their mutual efforts were a huge success, the two teenagers working together to build a floor of smooth, polished wood, walls of soft-toned marble and glass, and a ceiling made entirely out of..."Huh." Speaking 'aloud' now in Psyche's mind, a 'physical' presence in the mental room they'd built, Seven looked up at the ceiling. "Ah well, I guess we'll work on that." The ceiling was made entirely out of a poster of Michael Harris!

"All right, take a breath, and we'll get ready for your real test."

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Psyche's mental presence pinked with embarassment for a moment before her face scrunched in concentration as she greyed out the picture of Michael on the ceiling to a less distracting assortment of mottled grays and whites. "Sorry. He's a big presence in my head. I'll try and tamp down the psychic link too."

She 'stood up' in the room, looking satisfied with the results, if still pink from residual emotions.

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"What we're going to do first is a test of your mental resiliency," said Seven, her voice calm and soothing. She took a seat in the lotus position and floated up before her student, her cloak rippling behind her in the air. "I'm going to show you things that are difficult for a civilized mind to accept. Let me know right away if you can't proceed on this, looking too long at some things can be hazardous to your psycho-social well-being. Are you ready? "

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Seven began to show Psyche things, each taking the form of a single flash-card. The first was a dead body, a man shot through the head in a graphic, unsettling way. It was tough, but she looked at it bravely. A moment later came something new; the grim face of a black-marked mystic, his soul shuddering with the blackness of necromantic evil, his eyes weighted down with an eternity of sin. "His name is Malador," said Seven, her voice cold and still, "and his power has transcended death." Bearing that sight was hard, very hard, as she gazed into the pure face of undead evil, and the sudden, abrupt change to the Legion Virus was enough to make her flinch.

But who wouldn't flinch before the destruction of soul, of self, of mind that the Legion Virus represented? When Psyche reminded Seven of that, her teacher was persuaded to show her one last thing. This was something yellow and twisting, a thing that shifted back into itself and called to those looking at it at the same time, a monstrous warped thing that was one of the most beautiful works Psyche had ever seen, a beautiful...she pulled her mental gaze away, but did not flinch from it. "Congratulations, Psyche. Not many can stand the sight of the Yellow Sign and keep their mind intact. We shall talk more of that later. Do you need a break?"

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Psyche took a shuddering breath and paused before responding to take mental stock. She wasn't the sort of teen to insist she was fine no matter what. The last thing she wanted was to lash out mentally in fear or pain and possibly hurt someone, so Psyche double checked that her control of her thoughts was firm before she gave Seven a nod.

"No, thank you. I'm alright to continue when you are." Psyche folded her hands in her lap and turned her attention back to the older student expectantly.

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"Our next test isn't really a test," said Seven, her 'eyes' still closed as her astral form hovered slightly in the air. "It's a question. Let's say your team captures a brutal murderer, a torturer and burglar who enjoys killing his victims after brutal home invasions. You know that there's been an irregularity in his capture and that it's very likely he will be released. You've probed his mind during the capture and know that his will is strong, though not so strong as yours. If you plant a command in his mind, he is likely to learn to work around it. But if you blank his mind entirely, you can ensure that he is never a threat to anyone again. What choice do you make, given the possible choice of a monster loose in the community?"

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Psyche's brow furrowed as she frowned and glanced down at her hands for a momet before she brightened, "Oh! Oh, I see. You've presented a scenario as a true false when my options are far broader."

The petite teenager's face screwed up once more, this time in concentration as she accessed her stores of civic, "I find blanking his mind morally reprehinsable and a faulty solution. There's no assurance that his nature wouldn't make a ressurgance eventually anyways and that would certainly get him out of the crime as mentally unfit. Telepathic evidence is inadmissable in court but an annonymous tip isn't. I would scan his thoughts for the details of his actions and see if I can find potential wittnesses. If I cannot convince them to come to court, I will call in the tip myself. If he still gets free, I will keep survailance on him and when he acts make certain that this time there are no procedural lapses."

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Seven smiled, looking very pleased with her student's choice. "Very good, Alex. You have chosen to look for new opportunities rather than accept the alternatives given you. Even if your efforts fail and you must fall back on the negative options given you, you have made the right choices for a hero." She "stood up." "There is only one more phase left to our test. It may be the most challenging, but it is not the hardest. Are you ready?"

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Psyche's cheeks glowed pink at the praise and although she'd never be conventionally pretty, her smile was bright enough to light up the mental room.

She nodded, trying to sober and focus at Seven's words. Psyche promised earnestly, "I'll do my best."

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"Good." Seven snapped to her feet suddenly, her eyes glowing, the walls of the simulated room around them shifting into reds and blacks, the sky overhead turning into clouds rushing by as if from hurricane-force winds, for all that the room itself remained eerily quiet. "Because this is a test of combat!" She raised her hand and spoke an arcane syllable, mystic fire suddenly pulsating in her palm. "Defend yourself, child!"

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Psyche's mental blast had fired off almost automatically as her mind registered the threat and responded. On some level the younger girl had expected this level of the test as well as the rest and her brow was furrowed with concentration. She shifted to the side shaking off the effects of Seven's stun and brought her hands up to her temples as she focused her will to fire off a second blast at Seven. Psyche wasn't afraid to give this her all. She trusted in her teachers to create an appropriate environment and she trusted in her own knowledge of the lethality of the force she was using. Even if she did manage to hit Seven with the blast and have it affect her mental state, she knew she wasn't using lethal force.

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A beam of pure black light burst again from the staggering Seven's hand, the beam whizzing easily past Psyche's head. When Psyche's mind reached out to lash at her, Seven gave a horrible scream as her psychic avatar exploded! As she fell apart to fragments of multi-colored crystal that rapidly littered the landscape all around her, the mental landscape all around Psyche fell completely silent and still. She was alone in her own mind for a long moment before she heard Seven's voice. "Your mind is a powerful thing, Alex. Show me how you can use it to build."

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Psyche frowned at the sudden silence, her head tilted to the side listening. She was about to reach for Seven's thoughts when the older girl's mental voice filtered through her mind once more. Her frown eased and she gave a small nod as she glanced around at the rainbow crystals littering the 'psychic' room. With a thought, she swept the glittering shards up and began to mold them together. The hands of her psychic avatar moved as the crystals whirled and floated around her, gathering slowly into a building pillar. Alex hesitated for a moment, before a shape began to emerge in the crystal structure.

It took her a few minutes to build up the figure of a young woman, not much older than herself, but far more fit. The sculpture's short skirt was frozen mid flutter as she struck a pose, her expression fierce on her masked face. In her hands, she held a re-curved bow, arrow knocked, and the tip glittered wickedly sharp. Once the figure was formed from Alex's rudimentary memories of images of her mother's own youth, Alex stood up and circled it to examine her own work.

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When Seven was reassembled entirely, she released her bow, the arrow firing off in a single, mathematically perfect arc that hurled itself far into the sunset. With that she turned to Psyche, a smile on her face. "Congratulations, Psyche. You have passed your test. Come rouse yourself, and meet me in the gardens so we can talk."

With a sisterly smile, she faded from view entirely, leaving Alex alone in her mental landscape with her victory.

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Psyche wrinkled her nose in Seven's absence. She'd meant to construct the figure to look like the other teen but apparently she still needed to lock down her memories when she was constructing dream images. Still, not so very bad at least. At least all the parts had gone to all the correct places? Still, best not to keep her waiting.

Psyche went through the mental effort of dismantaling the practice room and slowly pulling herself from the trance until she was aware of the stiffness of her limbs and the fact that she'd managed to put one leg to sleep while involved with the mental arena. She winced and stretched before stomping back and forth accross the room to try and restore feeling in her dead leg. Once the blood had rushed back to her toes, she pulled down the sign from the door and checked to make sure she hadn't drooled on herself or otherwise changed her appearance. After reknotting her pony tail, Alex left the apartment to head down to the gardens with a bounce in her step.

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