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Great Minds Think Alike (IC)

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Psyche barely had time to warm the seat at her first period desk before the loudspeaker beckoned her away. "Alexandra Albright to the Headmaster's office. Alexandra Albright, report to the Headmaster's office." The teacher nodded to her, while her fellow students reacted with either frightened, consoling stares, or sadistic snickering.

Duncan Summers sat behind his desk, resting his elbows on top. His fingers formed a pyramid that partially obscured his face, save for his piercing blue eyes. :bat: "Ms. Albright. You have been selected for some extracurricular instruction." He lowered one hand to the desk, where he pushed a small pile of papers forward. "You are hereby excused from all classes and other obligations for the next 48 hours. Your teachers will see to it you are brought up to speed on any missed coursework. You'll be meeting with a special tutor today."

He stood up, and dragged a strange device from behind his desk. It resembled a cross between an exercise machine and a transporter pad from Star Trek. " :bat: Stand on the center of the circle."

When Psyche stepped up, Summers typed a few strokes on the attached keypad, and she disappeared with a high-pitched hum and a flash of light. She reappeared in an alcove, carved into some kind of stone wall. She was disoriented for a few moments, but as her vision cleared, she stepped out into a chamber filled with lotus-style pillars, many carved into the shapes of various Egyptian deities. Before her, hovering a few inches in the air, was a figure covered from head to toe in crimson armor, trimmed with gold. A large cape billowed out behind her, despite the apparent lack of wind.

"Greetings, Ms. Albright. I am The Scarab. Welcome to my Lair."

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Psyche barely had time to warm the seat at her first period desk before the loudspeaker beckoned her away. "Alexandra Albright to the Headmaster's office. Alexandra Albright, report to the Headmaster's office." The teacher nodded to her, while her fellow students reacted with either frightened, consoling stares, or sadistic snickering.

Alex gathered her things up quickly, an expression of concern on her face. She wasn't worried about being in trouble but she quickly hurried on the off chance there was a problem with her family.

Duncan Summers sat behind his desk, resting his elbows on top. His fingers formed a pyramid that partially obscured his face, save for his piercing blue eyes. :bat: "Ms. Albright. You have been selected for some extracurricular instruction." He lowered one hand to the desk, where he pushed a small pile of papers forward. "You are hereby excused from all classes and other obligations for the next 48 hours. Your teachers will see to it you are brought up to speed on any missed coursework. You'll be meeting with a special tutor today."

He stood up, and dragged a strange device from behind his desk. It resembled a cross between an exercise machine and a transporter pad from Star Trek. " :bat: Stand on the center of the circle."

Relieved, Alex collected the papers in question, stowing them neatly in her backpack before she gingerly stepped onto the transportation device. "You'll make certain my roommate knows, sir? She'll worry if I'm gone for too long"

When Psyche stepped up, Summers typed a few strokes on the attached keypad, and she disappeared with a high-pitched hum and a flash of light. She reappeared in an alcove, carved into some kind of stone wall. She was disoriented for a few moments, but as her vision cleared, she stepped out into a chamber filled with lotus-style pillars, many carved into the shapes of various Egyptian deities. Before her, hovering a few inches in the air, was a figure covered from head to toe in crimson armor, trimmed with gold. A large cape billowed out behind her, despite the apparent lack of wind.

"Greetings, Ms. Albright. I am The Scarab. Welcome to my Lair."

Alex blinked and glanced around with an air of wide-eyed curiosity. When she saw Scarab, she broke into a wide smile and stepped forward to politely greet her host, "It's an honor, Ms. Scarab. Thank you for having me. You're welcome to call me Alex, if you'd like."

She shifted her bookbag to the side and politely offered her hand to the armored figure, "You have a lovely Lair."

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The Scarab touched down onto the floor and extended her hand to meet Alex's, shaking it firmly. "You are a fan of Egyptian architecture? Then this should be a particularly special treat for you. Follow me."

She led Psyche out of the teleportal room, through the teleportal control room and the central elevator shaft, into the Great Hall. More lotus-style pillars lined the massive chamber, painted and engraved with hieroglyphics. The presumably faux-Ancient Egyptian motif persisted throughout the complex, though in some areas Psyche could hear the hum of machinery and the crackle of electricity. The hall contained a collection of art and artifacts that would put any museum to shame. Dozens, maybe hundreds of different cultures and time periods were represented among the weapons, armor, paintings, sculptures, jewelry, books, scrolls, and more.

"Souvenirs. Feel free to take a look around. The door to our right leads into a well-stocked rest area. Help yourself to any rations or refreshments that suit your fancy. When you are ready to begin, meet me upstairs. The top floor, the door opposite to the one we entered. There is an elevator, but unless I have been misinformed, you do not require it."

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"Thank you. And, no, I don't need the elevator. You're correct," Alex looked around with a quiet but lively curiosity. The focus of her attention remained on Scarab but she took in her surroundings with wide hazel eyes.

She followed Scarab's directions and ate a quick snack, although she didn't bolt her food either. Instead, she chose a combination of snacks that included fruits and a bottle of water as well as a sugary treat at the end. She cleaned her hands off afterwards and made use of the facilities. Alex expected they'd be tranced out for at least some portion of the morning and she made certain that she'd have no physical distractions of hunger nor any jitters from caffiene.

Once she was finished, she followed Scarab's directions quickly, although she continued to examine all the different objects she passed. Alex always did love museums. She made a mental not to up her historical studies even as she presented herself to Scarab once again.

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Psyche flew up the elevator shaft to the top floor. The door on her left opened onto a gigantic chamber, easily twice the size of the great hall on every dimension. But this room was as sparse as the great hall was grand. The stone walls were bare of any markings, and the only features were a series of stone blocks in various sizes. They ranged from a few ounces to several tons.

The Scarab sat with her legs tucked under her, hovering several feet above the ground. Her hands rested on her knees. In front of her, several of the multi-ton cubic stone monstrosities were floating into the air one by one, stacking themselves almost to the ceiling. The makeshift tower built and deconstructed itself several times, slowly and methodically.

Psyche heard The Scarab's voice echo in her mind. Start with the smallest stones, and work your way up. Move them, lift them, hold them in mid-air. Then begin stacking them. Go slow. Be careful. Work your way up to larger and larger stones. Focus. Keep your mind free of distraction, of conscious thought. Every stray thought takes away energy you could be using to lift the next heaviest stone.

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"I only just learned how to do this," Alex explained as she settled in. A purple shimmer of power surrounded the smallest cube dutifully moving it. Her fine control was excellent but the act took all of her concetration, "Telepathy is natural for me but this is more like a learned skill. I liken it to how I'm naturally smart but had to learn Spanish."

She continued to move and stack boxes up to her own body weight and past, pushing to the utmost of her abilities until she reached her maximum weight. When she had, she volunteered as much and flicked questioning eyes to her new mentor.

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The Scarab pointed to a stone as large as Psyche's entire stack combined, indicating that she rest her load upon it. Then she reached out to Psyche's mind. Her mental communication took the form of image and metaphor rather than spoken or written word. In the vision, Psyche stood before the pile of stones. She bent down at the knees, reached her hands beneath the massive stone at the bottom, and lifted it into the air. The Scarab stood behind her, adjusting her arms, legs, and posture in various places, which allowed her to make more efficient use of her muscles, lifting more weight than she ever thought possible.

The image faded from Psyche's mind, but the lessons remained. Try again. You have been using your telekinesis like a girl riding a bike on the highest gear. She thinks she is riding as fast as she can, until someone teaches her how to downshift. Then she rides faster than she ever thought possible. That is part of the reason you are here - so I can show you how to remove obstacles you didn't even know lay in your path.

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She followed along eagerly and it was clear that this was the first time she'd worked with another psychic. It wasn't that she was projecting her memories at Scarab, it was more that she was entirely open. It wasn't out of a lack of understanding on how to sheild her mind, rather that she was so very, very honest. The headmaster had sent her to learn from one of the greatest psychics of their time, and she absorbed the knowledge like a sponge. Asking only as many questions as she needed to clarify the instructions, she listened more than she spoke.

After a moment, she turned her attention once more to the rocks. It took her a few tries but her chin only firmed with determination as she focused on moving the rocks with all of her attention. Beneath the gentle girl, there was a core of steel. Alex never allowed the thought to enter her head that she couldn't move the rock pile. Finally, with a little shimmying, the rock cube lifted into the air. Only when it was firmly in place once more did Alex turning a beaming expression to the Scarab.

I did it!

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The Scarab nodded at Psyche. Excellent. You are making good progress. Now head down to the rest area on the lowest level, the one I indicated to you earlier, and take a break. There are plenty of refreshments - have anything you like. Meet me up on the third level from the ground, the door on your right, in 20 minutes. A rudimentary map of the complex appeared in Psyche's mind, highlighting the locations The Scarab mentioned. With that, The Scarab suddenly disappeared into thin air.

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Psyche jumped at that before looking around curiously. She was more used to being the vanishee than the vanisher so she agreed aloud, "Oh, okay!"

With one last look over her shoulder, Psyche floated back down to the rest-area. She grabbed some water first before using the facilities and washing off her face. Like any exertion, the mental kind could make one break a sweat. After that, she picked out an apple and a bar of granola that she ate swiftly but not fast enough to make her stomach hurt. Once the basic needs were taken care of, Psyche walked the room a few times to stretch out muscles that had been settled in one location too long as she munched on a cookie and took in the room's decorations.

At twenty minutes on the dot, she headed back up to the room she'd been shown to meet with her teacher once more.

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Psyche's trek took her through an antechamber decorated with more pictographs in the style of Ancient Egypt. These markings in particular depicted what appeared to be a running battle between two figures, both either nobles or priests of some kind. Both were clad in red, but their heraldry was different. One bore the mark of a golden scarab beetle, while the other wore what appeared to be stylized bolts of black lightning. The rise and fall and return of the sun, and the passing of the seasons, gave the impression that this battle raged on through time. Both figures were shown to have fallen in battle many times, only to rise again and continue the battle anew.

The antechamber opened up into a large throne room, lined with the same lotus-style pillars that appeared to hold many of the ceilings aloft throughout the Lair. The faux(?) aged stone motif continued into this chamber. The Scarab sat on a plush throne at the far end. Several large cushions were spread out on the floor around her. Psyche couldn't help but be reminded of the beanbag chairs many of her fellow Claremont students favored in their dorm rooms.

Once again, she heard The Scarab's voice echo in her mind. Sit. Find comfort for your body. It will make it easier to withstand the strain on your mind.

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Psyche settled herself on one of the cushions large enough to cradle her body and wiggled a few times until she was semi-reclined, her legs crossed at her ankles and her hands folded gently on her stomach. She made sure that her hairclip wouldn't dig into her skull and let herself slip into the first stages of a half-trance.

'Okay.'

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Your proficiency with telekinesis is coming along nicely. Now, we will practice using, and countering, telepathy. You will need to be able to pierce and sidestep the mental defenses of others. But more importantly, your teammates will rely upon you to be able to defend yourself against the mental incursions of others.

I want you to think of a number between 1 and 100. Visualize a piece of paper with this number written down on it in a large font. Now place that paper in a safe. The safe must be forged from the strongest steel, in case your foe tries to drill through it. But your foe may also try to crack the code, so the combination, and the system of gears behind it, must be a labyrinth.

Now take that safe, and place it at the center of a giant sphere. Smooth, metallic, it hovers in the air. All attempts to pierce it are reflected, deflected. Everything bounces or slides off its face. Concentrate on maintaining that smooth, unblemished, invincible sphere.

Psyche had a few moments to collect herself. Then The Scarab's mental assault commenced.

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Alex always did enjoy a good round of 'guess what I'm thinking of'. This was the first time she'd been on this end of the game. Compared to the almost rudimentary skills she'd displayed with her telekinetic abilities, the petite teen's mental focus was another matter entirely.

Here was where Alex showed her much vaunted potential, as the sphere her thoughts presented to the older psychic's mind was utterly smooth and without imperfection. The only oddity was that rather than a smooth silver, the color was a brilliant and rather vivid purple. For such a young woman, her mental control was masterful.

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Very good. The Scarab nodded. Your mental defenses are formidable for one so young. Now see if you can break through, or slip around, mine.

When Psyche made contact with The Scarab's mind, she saw a great glistening golden orb, floating in the void, with bursts of scarlet lighting arcing off it in random places and directions.

What number am I thinking of?

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