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"Once Bitten... Pt. V"

//Collab. between LegacyCloud & AnnCarise//


"Smart." She smiled, "I almost daren't ask what happened to the others! So... I assume if you're setting this up then you want me to try with live rounds? I'm... fairly certain I can least hit the target now" she smiled further, handing him the pistol.


Taking the pistol, Gabe inserted the ammunition block before handing it back to her, "This wall doesn't have any important machines behind it, so it should be easy to fix. But try not to hit outside the target if you can."


Mischa couldn't but chuckle at his encouraging words. Taking a deep and steadying breath as she did the first time, only now with the knowledge that it's a loaded weapon she holds; she carefully took aim and squeezed the trigger. Far from a perfect shot next to where the laser was pointing, but nothing to be ashamed of for a novice either. She turned back to Gabe awaiting his judgement on her first effort...


"Not bad," Gabe smiled. "When you feel ready, try firing two shots in a row. See if you can control the recoil well enough to hit inside the target."


Mischa nodded and focused her aim, firing two shots off in quick succession. Lowering the pistol afterwards she glanced over the target to see her grouping wasn't actually as bad as she had expected it to be, again looking to Gabe for affirmation of her own assessment.


"Nicely done," Gabe remarked. "Not everyone hits inside the target the first time they try this." Standing beside Mischa, he held the back of her right hand, adjusting it slightly so there was more of an angle with the rest of her arm. "You want your support hand locked, at an angle where it can't move any further," he explained. "It helps control the recoil. And make sure your knees are a little bent."


"Oh right, like this?" She asks as she attempts to adjust her stance according to his instruction.


Gabe nodded, "Lean forward some more, but not too much. Then try taking two shots in succession again."


Mischa carefully pisitioned herself per Gabe's guidance and fired the two quick shots, smiling with satisfaction at the distinct level of improvement, "You really are a very adept tutor Gabe. Thank you for helping me like this"

"Just trying to make sure you're well-off when we land on Cybele," Gabe replied. "I appreciate it, but I think your thanks would be better reserved for after we're done."


"Of course" she smiled slightly, "So... what's next then? From the way you say that it sounds like we have more to do"


"Quite a bit," Gabe nodded before moving over to the practice target to dismantle it. "Generators aren't the only way to produce kinetic barriers," he said as he disconnected the machine from the metal plate. "I'll teach you the basics of forming one with biotics. You might need it, your clothes'll give you some protection but they won't last long under concentrated fire."


Mischa looked at him with a surprised expression, "You mean to say I can create barriers like the one you used before, not just these.. explosions of energy? As for my clothes..." she glances down herself, "I can't imagine they would give me any protection at all!"


Gabe frowned, "The Illusive Man didn't tell you anything, did he? Your clothes have been fitted with some basic protection from close-range weapons fire. It's as tough as krogan hide."


Mischa's brow furrowed in response; the anger within her bubbling at the mere mention of his name, "No he did not" she snapped over harshly, which she immediately realised and looked to Gabe apologetically, "Sorry... it's not your fault. So what is this, some sort of ballistic weave then? I'd have expected there to be a noticeable weight difference!"


"I'm not a scientist," Gabe shrugged. "But I know Cerberus has access to some very advanced technology."


"Well..." she mused, "Let us hope I do not have to put it to the test then!" she said with a slight chuckle, relieved that he did not take offense to her snapping. "So tell me more about these biotic barriers; I'd very much like to see if I am - as you suspect - capable of those too."


"Kinetic barriers are a type of mass effect fields that push away incoming objects," Gabe explained. "They can be created with biotics, just like any other type of mass effect field. How effective it is depends on the user and the amount of training. If you can gather enough strength to destroy that punching bag, with the right practice you should be able to make a strong barrier."


Mischa takes a deep breath, "Alright, I know i need to learn this so... where do we begin?"


"First, you'll have to learn how to focus," Gabe said as he turned to climb up the ladder back into the training room. "Not focus your energy like you did earlier, but your entire mind. Only with the right focus can a biotic achieve their potential."


"Really, that's it?" she questioned as she followed him up the ladder. Helping Gabe close the hatch back up and pull the mat back across afterwards she continued, "I've spent my entire life focusing my mind, so if that's all there is to it then this should be a lot simpler than I had anticipated."


"It's not all, but it's the most important step," Gabe replied as he closed the hatch to the armoury and re-positioned the mat. "And it's not as easy as it seems. Focusing in a room like this is simple. Staying focused under fire is more challenging." Gabe lowered himself onto the mat, sitting cross-legged as he awaited Mischa to do the same.


Mischa face remained expressionless as in her mind, she had a lifetime of being recognised as one of the greater minds of her generation telling her that she was above this level of focus. Nonetheless she sat down cross-legged across from Gabe, resting her hands on her knees as she looked across at him, "I suppose there is merit to that statement. Alright Gabe, where do we begin?"


"Close your eyes and take slow breaths," Gabe instructed. "Try to block out everything in your thoughts. All your concerns, desires, fears. Clear your mind of emotion. Focus on your breathing."


Mischa stared across at Gabe a moment before doing as instructed. Closing her eyes as she focused, her breathing became deep and controlled; almost serene.

"Good," Gabe continued. "When your mind is clear, open yourself to the world around you. Take in every smell, every little sound. The hum of the engines, the footsteps of the crew, the doors opening and closing. Feel your surroundings. Be a part of them." Among all the sounds of the ship. Mischa would note a distinct tapping sound almost just in front of her.


Mischa concentrated as Gabe instructed. Focusing first on the smells around her she was most obviously aware of Gabe's presence in front of her, followed by a slightly musty smell from the mat on which they sat. Beyond that she felt she could also pick up something more mechanical, likely the inner workings of the ship hidden behind the bulkheads. Concentrating further, she focused on the sounds; the most obvious of which being the thrum of the ships engines and the subtle vibration of the deck plate which accompanied it. Outside the training room she could hear crew members passing by and make out the muffled voices of distant conversation though not so far as to hear what was being said. She then tilted her head sideways slightly and furrowed her brow, "What is that tapping sound?" she pointed vaguely in front of her, "Are you doing something there?"


"Yes," Gabe replied. "Focus on that noise. Make it the centre of your attention. Be aware of everything around you, but zone in on that particular sound. Listen to every single tap and find a pattern, a rhythm."


Mischa's head straightened back up as she began to tune out the other sounds until all her focus was on the tapping, "I hear it..." she says nodding her head slowly.

"That's it, you're getting there," Gabe commented. "Keep the rhythm in your head even when the tapping stops. Just repeat it to yourself, click your tongue if you have to. Pretend whatever is making the sound is still doing it." A few seconds passed, and as Gabe predicted, the tapping noise stopped.


Mischa's head bobbed ever so subtly while she continued the rhythm in her head; she was too focused on a perfect continuation of the pattern to confirm verbally to Gabe, she simply continued to maintain it as accurately as she could until he chose to give her next instruction.


Gabe spoke again after a few seconds. "Open your eyes, but stay focused. Don't let the new sense overwhelm and distract you."


As Mischa slowly opened her eyes, Gabe could clearly see the continued focus behind them as she maintained the repeated rhythm in her mind. She looked across at him patiently


As she looked across at Gabe, Mischa would notice something levitating in a biotic field between them. Upon closer glance, it appeared to be a small sphere, about the size of a tennis ball.


Mischa studied the sphere closely while continuing her rhythm. Shifting her gaze after a moment to meet Gabe's she gave him a wordless but inquisitive look.

Once she shifted her focus to Gabe, the ball suddenly dropped to the ground, rolling along the mat briefly before Gabe caught it in his hand. "I've never seen anyone do so well on their first try," he seemed impressed.


Mischa blinked as she caught up with what he was saying, "Waut... you mean I was holding that there? How?"


Gabe nodded. "By thinking certain things we can send specific electrical impulses with our brains to trigger specific types of mass effect fields. That rhythm is one of many used to help biotics send the signal to produce fields that can suspend objects in the air. Focusing on the source of the rhythm, the ball, and running the rhythm through your head made you project a mass effect field around it to lift it. "It doesn't always have to be a rhythm; as you've already experienced, it can be all sorts of things like a particular emotion or a visual cue," he continued to explain. "It's just easier to use things that can be called up when needed, like musical patterns or mnemonic devices. Usually learning how to focus properly takes a long time...but as you said, you're much more experienced than the average trainee."


Mischa's eyes darted back and forth as she processed all that Gabe told her. Having a better understanding of the physics behind behind the action really seemed to aid her comprehension of her situation, "You are kind to say so, Gabe" she smiled - albeit a little more proud than her humbler words, "Can I try again now that I know what to do?"


"Go ahead," Gabe replied as he set the ball back onto the mat. "Try to focus with your eyes open this time. It'll be more of a challenge, but being able to see helps you control your biotics better."


Mischa took a deep breath as she stared down at the ball in an effort to focus on it. Following Gabe's teachings it was not long before the light glow of mass effect fields began to form around the ball as it slowly lifted upwards.


Maintaining her strong focus, she attempted to lift it further off the floor to where it was previously when she first opened her eyes. This time however it suddenly shot straight up in the air and bounced hard off the ceiling above them; bouncing unceremoniously off the top of Mischa's head on it's way back down.


Frowning slightly as she rubbed her head she reached down picked up the ball in her hand once more, "I think I may have tried a bit too hard..." she chuckles focusing once more with it in her hand. Once more it began to gently rise out of her hand, this time easing forwards gently to rest back on the floor where it started. Mischa smiled with satisfaction, "That's more like it!"


"Very nice!" Gabe commented, smiling back. "You're certainly talented at this. Forming a barrier will be a little different, but it works along the same principles. There's mnemonic devices for it, but to sustain it over time needs a particular state of mind. First, you have to focus on yourself, be aware of your every movement. Try concentrating on your breathing to start."


Mischa's smile slowly faded as she took a deep breath and closed her eyes to ease her initial focus; hands rested back on her knees. She felt the breath flowing in through her nose to fill her lungs before gently exhaling through her mouth. She felt her chest rise and fall gently with each passing breath while growing more aware of the faint touch between her hands and her knees. She then smiled gently, opening her eyes to see Gabe was giving strange look, "Sorry... I became acutely aware of my hair tickling the back of my neck!" she chuckled slightly again before closing her eyes and restoring her focus, "Alright..." she said as she regained the level of detail surrounding her body.


Gabe chuckled as well, "Keep trying, you'll get there soon. When you're ready, tense up. Refuse to move; feel like you're planted in place, like a rock. It might help if you tense your muscles, but don't get caught up in that too much. Anything physical is just an aid, the mind is where your strength lies."


As Mischa started to concentrate her body could be seen to grow more tense. After a few moments of this she clenched her fists as well and slowly, a gentle biotic blow began to pulse from her body; growing brighter and stronger with each pulse.


"Nicely done!" Gabe commented. "Maintain the field for as long as you can. Don't lose focus."


Maintaining her focus, Mischa's glow gradually became brighter and more consistent as the pulsing fading. As it formed she tried her best to maintain it though it took considerable concentration on her part.


The bright glow began to expand for a few moments before it began to dim, soon dissipating entirely. "Very good for a first try," Gabe smiled. "Try just to remain in the right state of mind for now. Don't try too hard to make the barrier strong."


Mischa frowned slightly at what felt like a failure to her own exacting standards. Noticeably exhausted though undeterred she tried once more; the barrier forming much more quickly this time.


The barrier glowed even brighter this time, pulsing unstably for a few seconds before rapidly expanding into a flash of biotic energy, knocking Gabe down and sending the ball they had been practicing with across the room. "That may have been a little too much," Gabe chuckled as he sat back up. "Be defiant, but also be serene. Don't rush it."





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