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Aug 15, 2020 3:29 PM
owls and grapes study mind control
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Edie isn't thrilled with the idea of a university for mind control. It's sorta...everything she was raised better than. Still. You know what it's not? An apocalyptic wasteland filled with killer robots. 

She and Emily still have their guards up. Nobody is trying to kill them--killing them shouldn't be possible, here, if they take the idea of the Death Ward seriously. But death is not the only thing worth guarding against, and Edie takes the safety of their minds seriously. 

And so, as they enter the room, Edie reaches out to the minds ahead. There are ten already in the auditorium. She looks around, Emily's gaze tracking independently and feeding her a second set of visual information, to match minds to faces. 

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At the back of the room, there's—a chorus of distant whispers, a wash of crackling static, a black wave of smoke that threatens to engulf whatever touches it. There's thoughts in there somewhere, if she dares to look close enough to see them, but nothing comprehensible makes it out past the noise.

The face that goes with this one... isn't. There's just a void there, wreathed in dark mist. The rest of her is just about as unsettling; the vapours shrouding her body part occasionally to reveal glimpses of a blackened skeleton, ending abruptly just above the hips. The veil of mist extends downward to the floor, though, in a shape that suggests a robe or dress. If there were legs under there she'd be very tall.

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Then there's... whatever this is. She's easier to look at than the apparition, but that really isn't saying much. And there's something wrong with the way her mind is put together; it's like someone jammed two very different brains in a blender and made a chunky brain smoothie, and then somehow forced the results into a state where they more or less get along with themselves. Her sensory picture of the world around her is a multimedia kaleidoscope, and her thoughts slide around and turn inside-out and back again as they navigate her kludgy cognitive architecture. It all seems like it must hang together pretty well from the inside, but trying to decipher it is an exercise in confusion.

Her outward appearance isn't much better. She's very pretty, in an abstract sort of way, especially those enormous shimmering blue-green wings; but if you look closely at her body and actually think about the implications... there's a human torso in there, or parts of one, and some mostly-human limbs, but her arms are melded/entwined with long snaky tentacles and her head has a very unusual number and placement of eyes and her skin is covered in patches of chitin that look almost melted into her body, so that it's difficult to tell where the human ends and the moth begins. Even the wings aren't completely immune to the trouble; the shimmering blue-green gives way at the edges to a darker, raggeder green-black, and the transition is uneven in a way that suggests they might be as grafted-together as the rest of her.

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Oh wow gosh pretty. She sort of wants to bounce over to the moth girl and ask her a thousand questions about how she's put together but she will, instead, not be doing that. Still. Goodness. 

She turns her attention next to the cheerful short girl. 

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The cheerful short girl is—shielded, sort of. It's a fluid, subtle thing, and it does not at all prevent her radiant bubbly friendliness from shining out of her like a beacon, but nevertheless when Edie looks closer she does not get any clearly legible surface thoughts and instead gets a bright sparkly hi! I'm Iirve!

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Hi! I'm Edie! Your telepathy is neat.

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it's the same old stuff anybody could learn in my world, she says, shrugging a little although she hasn't yet looked back to see who she's talking to. oh, if you haven't hit it already, watch out for— (There's an impression of a mind, but Iirve seems to see them very differently than Edie does. She includes the face, too, and their location in the room: it's the very pretty woman sitting in the back row at the far left.) something in there bites if you look too close.

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She glances at the woman, trying to look not-too-close. 

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That sure is a very pretty woman. Everything seems perfectly normal on the surface; the shape of her mind at a glance is very much like a regular baseline human's. Up to Edie if she wants to peek any deeper than that.

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Peeeeeeeeek.

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Her surface thoughts are—a haze of adoring submission, tangled with fading threads of guilt and fear—and there's another mind there, wrapped up in hers, reaching through her to control her body—and somehow this arrangement feels compelling, alluring, wouldn't it be nice to be where she is—or where he is—to conquer and be conquered, to subjugate the weak and worship the strong? She's so happy.

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And backing the fuck out! 

I don't know if would describe that as biting. Maybe I didn't get close enough for the biting part. Ew. 

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felt pretty bitey to me, but it seems like we see this stuff differently

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It was more like...sticking your hand in a barrel of really gross drugs, for me.

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you know what, that's also a fair description

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So what's your deal? You said anyone can do what you can do? I'm from a world where people are born with special abilities or other deviations from human baseline and some people decided they didn't like it and unleashed horrible murder robots about it.

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mind magic is just a regular kind of magic! harder to find somebody to teach you, cause it was illegal until recently, but I got lucky. anyway, don't let me interrupt you, it sounds like you were in the middle of looking around when you saw me

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Well, it was nice to meet you. 

Alright, what's up with that tall woman?

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Her mind isn't quite human-shaped and it's not entirely clear why. Perhaps it's related to the fact that she's seven feet tall. Anyway, if Edie is still up for peeking at surface thoughts after that last fiasco, she will find that the tall woman is thinking about—

'She's looking at you,' says the red-haired man sitting next to her, glancing back over his shoulder toward the door.

The tall woman inclines her head slightly, acknowleding her—hallucination? spirit companion? imaginary friend?—'s words. She can sense the watchful presence at the edge of her thoughts, even if he hadn't said anything.

He smiles at her; there's an edge of wistfulness to it. 'I should really be going,' he says, but he makes no move to leave.

Nothing of the man's presence—no sight or sound or scent or hint of thought—is visible outside the woman's perception of him.

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Well, if she knows. 

Hi, I'm Edie. Sorry for intruding. Well, sort of sorry. Nothing to you in particular, but if someone's going to try something I'd rather know in advance if I can get away with it. Which I may not be able to! So far you're the second of three to notice me and the third wasn't good. 

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Hello, she thinks back at Edie, mildly amused. Reasonable enough. I'm Crystal.

'I can't actually tell what either of you is saying to the other,' her companion remarks.

Crystal smiles slightly but doesn't answer him out loud; she'd rather not acquire a reputation for talking to herself.

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If Edie could get a read on him she'd bounce him stuff but, alas. 

What about the blond fellow with the long hair?

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There's something wrong with him. 

Perhaps not wrong; perhaps this is simply another way for people to be. It doesn't seem like an especially desirable way to be, regardless. He feels no joy, no anticipation, just an endless string of quasi-numeric variables being weighed against each other. He constantly assesses and re-assesses the threat level of everyone in the room, and the possibility of murdering them; so far the "murder them" possibility is consistently vastly outweighed by other factors, but it is constantly present. He's noticed that the two of them have stopped short of the actual seating and is hypothesizing as to what they're doing; "mind read everyone" is in fact on the list but doesn't have a conclusive lead. 

(There are, if she looks closely, gaps where it seems as though something else ought to be.)

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...Hm. She'll want to look deeper into him, in the future. 

What about that angel-looking person over there?

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She is wrapped in a sort of melancholy serenity, meditating on the existence of suffering and on her divinely granted mission to lessen it. She doesn't seem to notice Edie looking.

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Hm. And that androgynous auburn fellow over there?

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